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You must go home again…

“Loneliness is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.”

Thomas Wolfe


I generally solicit views on current events from my students during the first few minutes of a class. It allows them to decompress from submersion in previous courses, informs me about what is current in Chinese student circles and points up, by their unintended omissions, what news as been missed by them via censorship or time constraints. During “current events” this week we reviewed, the “Great Spoon Heist” on campus: It seems that 500 stainless steel spoons had vanished and now the students are forced to eat from utensils with holes drilled in their bellies–which is now kinda tough on the soup lovers I am guessing. And students also told me of the Sakura scandal at Wuhan University–nationally revered for its lush greenery and traditional architecture– in the north of China. Last week a mother and her daughter were run off of campus and vilified on the Internet for taking pictures while dressed in Japanese Kimonos in front of the famed Sakura trees. They were the on the receiving end of local wrath for ignorance regarding the history of the blossoms.

Sakura were first planted by the Imperial Japanese Army occupying the campus during the war years because they were homesick (Thankfully, instead of acts of rape, pillage and plunder they planted flowers and I am guessing did not wear Kimonos to do it…), but those particular Cherry Blossoms died some time later and the Japanese government, so I am told, sent more later as a gift and the remaining 60 or so trees now attract tens of thousands of visitors annually who admire their beauty–and manage to stay a sight more sober in the process than do the Japanese during their viewings in Japan…**

After current events I then told classes about my recent flight into Bangkok, where I was headed for medical treatment, during which time I noticed that the man in the seat next to me reading a Japanese newspaper. Since I am accosted 2-3 times a week for impromptu English practice– and end up feeling more like a parrot than a professor–I thought I’d mediate my 40-year old discomfort with flying and get in some language practice by chatting him up. He surprised me: quickly after he recovered from the shock of a white male on a flight to Thailand from China speaking Japanese he used my earnest attention to tell me of the woes of a Japanese expat living in China. He missed his family, still in Tokyo, had trouble making friends with Chinese nationals (imagine that) and told me how weary he had become of frequent trips to Thailand required by his position. He would never have shared his grief, for sake of losing face or not appearing strong, with a native Japanese, and seemed increasingly happy as he spoke. After his confessional experience he left the plane devoid of the sullen look he had carried on as baggage.

I recognized the look on his face: He was in the midst of haggling with what I have come to call Expats Syndrome. It is depression brought on via cultural disconnection. We all go through it at one time or another and it can steel our resolve or send us headlong into the cultural abyss. It is a a lack of grounding that finds us grasping for tethers–some healthy and some not.

Gestalt Therapist and Holocaust survivor Fritz Perls once observed several children on a beach each react differently to an incoming wave (glee, flight, terrified incapacitation…) and theorized that we are all genetically predisposed to react differently to stressors.  In addition to the excitement and challenge of living abroad, expatriate adventures can be a bit fugitive, solitary and hence stressful regardless of whether you are visiting a far shore to spiritually conquer, study, invade, visit or do business with the natives who reside there.  In recent weeks I have watched expats cope with waking up in a darkening economic environment by engaging in extramarital dalliances with alcohol or women, depression that has functionally paralyzed them or through fleeing homeward toward Europe Canada or America…. Conversely, One British friend in Hong Kong who recently has lost a substantial portion of his business to a partner company’s reorganization took the loss like a true entrepreneur and announced to me: “We have had a bit of a set-back.”  It was not British stoicism or stiff-upper-lip behavior, but rather a declaration of war by an emotionally well outfitted businessman who will certainly outlast any opponent.

Once outside of themselves again and the country they adopted or were sent to explore, many of my friends find themselves more disoriented than ever before. Being disconnected, even for a few months, from the indeterminate and comforting familiarity of the constellations of their youth or most recent native home can render the sights and sounds there unrecognizable. TV shows have gone off the air ( I have been gone so long I am still mourning the loss of Cheers and MASH), schools have closed, businesses have shuttered and friends moved on or passed away. As an aside: during my first trip back to America in three years recently passed by Ft. Ord, where I did military basic training, and saw that a school had replaced the wooden barracks and later learned that there was little left of the the 1/2 billion dollar Mississippi ammunition plant where I had served as XO in the late 70’s–it’s been in mothballs for more than a decade. It is hard to describe the waves of mortality that vibrate their way through every wrinkle and scar you have earned in the years since those times and harder to explain how foreign you can suddenly feel in your own country.

When I reached my hotel room in Thailand I discovered an article in the International Herald Tribune about foreigners who, because of the cost of overseas postings, had been called home early by cost conscious companies, and were wearied and disoriented upon their return even though their assignments had been short. The story was fundamentally a critique of businesses who do not prepare expats for re-entry….

Several years ago I visited Angel Fire New Mexico and the Disabled American Veterans Vietnam Memorial there. It is built on land considered sacred to Indians and the spot where a ceremonial march for Vietnam returnees was held and at its conclusion veterans were initiated into traditional tribal rituals normally reserved for Indian warriors returning from battle. “Native Americans” were wise enough to know that transitioning back to society required care, diligence and ceremonial reintroductions what for others might be seen as mundane. I think the huge number of homeless and jailed veterans is due in large part to our neglect of returnees and a misguided belief that they can safely reintegrate after experiencing months or years of traumatic events. The veterans who took part in that long march still talk of its healing virtues.

As more warriors return from battle, more economic refugees land on Chinese shores and more western sea turtles head back to their nesting grounds there will be problems. And while the Chinese use an idiom that admonishes us against the danger of having a foot in two boats, I argue that we must stay grounded in our home culture via news, music, movies, art, conversation, books, or blogs while slowly immersing ourselves in a new one. We all cannot be as strong as my friend in Hong Kong and while we well may be hard-wired as to how we’ll respond to stress, but we can mediate the magnitude of our reactions by keeping tethered somehow to home. I just came out of a numb sleep brought on by being ill and having little to grasp onto for comfort, but I am a very lucky veteran traveler who has amazing, loving, keen observers as friends. They threw a line into the abyss. I wish this kind of good fortune on others.

We must go home again, if only virtually, from time to time…

More in a part II

**related Cherry Blossom stories: CHINA SMACK (with hilarious comments by readers below the story) and the

East South North West Blog

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The only man in China who likes Australia…

…the movie.

And I am glad I saw it.

australia

I had some time in Beijing, between the blizzard of social connects and meetings that are part of any trip I take outside of Guangzhou, to see the movie Australia. I don’t make it up north very much anymore so I  try to maximize my time while still managing to squeeze in a little enjoyment: seeing a movie, bravely foolishly curiously trying some new local dish, making new friends, enjoying a movie or cherishing a few moments with old acquaintances. I did all of that over two snow scattered days in the capital city.

The only movie showing at a time that would fit into my schedule was the aforementioned blunder from down under. Australia is a cinematic muddle of  magic, mystery, murder, military, melodrama megalomania, and memoirs from a bigot ridden outback….It is so bad that it is a sure bet we will see it again on Hong Kong’s ATV or CCTV here in mainland China.

But, I am glad I saw it.

The movie wandered the bush in search of a theme and stumbled over romance, history, allegory, and object lesson before falling down on a soft core adult tenor via a buffed up Wolverine bathing out of a bucket (and no, the consonance decided on itself…) in front of a barren, befuddled and buffoonish Nicole Kidman.

But I am glad I saw it.

All kidding aside, and man is that a Crocodile Dundelean feat, I learned a lot:

The Japanese rained down more bombs on the port at Darwin than it did two months earlier at Pearl Harbor in the 40’s. And they attacked another 63 times over the next two years to bring Australia as close as it has ever been to war on its own soil. That one reviewer of the film, and one Wiki entry, calls the assaults on Darwin “Australia’s Pearl Harbor” is exactly why I am glad I watched the movie….

A few days ago, if you will permit me a rare digression, I read a viral email sent to me by a “conservative” friend ( conservative is a euphemism, but as close as I can come without risking war on my own turf) who lives in America (the part with 50 states)… He and the email author somehow did not know that Australia had elected a new Prime Minister nor that the alleged PM had not boldly declared that Muslims should denounce their heretical ways and swim off to calmer spiritual waters–while hopefully meeting and greeting several sharks along the way–in an effort to ethnically cleanse Australia….The email was likely designed by an American and meant to give credence to some nationalist notions that U.S. borders should be closed, job stealing wet-backs flung back into the Rio Grande in order that we might realize a new prosperity: thousands of t-shirt assembly-line jobs, radish picking tasks and domestic helper slots that will vault us out of our recession far better than any stimulus package.

When did we become an ethnocentric melting pot? (That is only an oxymoron if you don’t believe that the National and American Leagues can collide at the end of the year and actually play a “World” Series in baseball.) And just so you know, I am guilty too of narrow thinking despite three decades abroad: You mean WWII was not just the U.S. against the forces of evil? The Allies (a close knit group of American G.I.s) didn’t single-handedly saved the world from the dreadful grammar of the Germans and the limited syllabary and endless bowing of the Japanese? I confess to never knowing before this movie that the country, who has battled and died alongside America in every major war and conflict in the last 70 years, suffered the loss of so many lives in Darwin.

Oh, and just for the record I learned from my good friend Des that “Waltzing Matilda” is no more the National Anthem of Australia anymore than “Danny Boy” is the musical representative of Ireland…;-)

We all need a culural wake up once in a while. I thank the the director of Australia–wherever he is in hiding–for mine…

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Blue Feather Tweeters

flip the bird

Forget all the incestuous top Tweeter lists, the rankings of the most re-tweeted, the scores for the most influential, the “find a MLM spammer to add to your follower cool twitter application” lists and the “Twitterati” glamour gurus vying for rights to the title of most vapid… So, I thought “How about a list of the top 20-30 nicest people to meet and tweet on Twitter? ” Here are my first picks for Blue Feather Friends–who actually talk to you….

I follow a lot of folks because I am a student of anything and everything on the net. I have used hundreds of Facebook and Twitter Applications, joined  (and un-joined) groups with great names like “Ban the Racist Bicycle Bells,” My life is a musical” and I’ve been bought and sold hundreds of my friends in and out of slavery and then raced them in cars that don’t move. I have crashed my site dozens of times with new WordPress plug-ins and I have tried virtually  (and to the lament of my twitter stream) every mobile and fixed Twitter client around. And aside from the auto-generated DM’s that say “Thanks for the follow <<insert first name here>>”  via folks in a race to catch Obama in the followers count, and that big breasted bot with 450 different profiles, I have become grateful for the many people who have enriched my life and replaced my blogging, RSS reading and shower time (phew) with interesting stories that I will no doubt re-tweet one day to my grandchildren.

Following are a few of the nicest people you’ll ever tweet. I don’t know how many followers they have, whether they won shorties or longies or what their Hub score is… And this is not a list of my favorite charities, business folks, incredible journalists or people you need to suck up to to get them to add you (Brian Solis, Mashable, Winer…)…I will do those lists one day as well…

These are just  people who aren’t so impotent (sp?) they only follow and/or talk to themselves…

Maybe in a day or two I will post my top financially useless, but great smile-making Twitter applications and add a few more suggestions for people to chirp with…. Feel free to add your own BCTs in the comments section…..

  • http://twitter.com/shelisrael is from California. He is writing a book on Twitterville and is a bit of a celebrity, but his bio’ is right: he is a nice guy who actually talks TO, not at, you. And he is his own virtual assistant 😉
  • http://twitter.com/danharris He is a lawyer but don’t let that put you off. This is the most tireless guy on the net. He actually reads and comments on dozens of blogs, runs the best law blawg on the planet ( http://chinalawblog.com ) and still has time to go to his family’s sporting events in Washington, root for the Cubs and then Tweet about it! Caution: Do not try to sneak a knuckle ball by him–he will hit it out of the park.
  • http://twitter.com/gyspsydust A world-class Chinese medicine expert from Illinois and one of the nicest people on the net. We met on Facebook when she suggested pointed me toward W.H.O research on a medicine that cured a recurrence of malaria that had hit a visiting guest–and it cost us less than a buck.
  • http://twitter.com/sdweathers A growing celeb’ on the small screen here in China. He posts great culturally entertaining pics, fun and informative links and actually takes the time to answer his tweets.
  • http://twitter.com/deswalsh An Aussie coach and consultant who has forgotten more about social media, blogging than I will ever know. He and his “girlfriend” (sorry, inside joke) artist  http://twitter.com/suziecheel  are an endangered species: kindness, wisdom and humility abound…
  • http://twitter.com/taweili Did you ever get a growing gift on Facebook? This is one of the team that built that application. He is a cross-cultural commentator and shouts out some very sensible answers about life and tech from farther inside the matrix than I have ever traveled….
  • http://twitter.com/grahamdbrown from London he runs one of the coolest and most purposeful blogs around and remains as authentic and likable a personality as you can find in the Twittersphere….
  • http://twitter.com/davidfeng when you think David Feng you think War and Peace, Ulysses, Everything You Wanted to Know About Beijing Subways Even if You Didn’t Think to Ask…The only guy on Twitter who HAS to have a David Feng Lite stream…I met this Swiss master at the first Beijing Tweet-up–there were three people and 10 electronic devices present….
  • http://twitter.com/JeffreyJDavis from Charlotte. Personable, but not afraid to call out the thought leaders. His profile says it best: “Innovator, Leader, Strategist, Executor, Mentor, Smartass, Kiteboarder, Dad, Husband”
  • http://twitter.com/thomascrampton An American gone Hongkese whose blog features impromptu camera phone interviews with the likes of Oliver Stone….He is an old-school journalist (small stuff like the NYT and IHT) who, despite his celebrity, is engaging social media with the heart and curiosity of a child combined with the shrewd thoroughness of a trained  reporter–No small feat, that…
  • http://twitter.com/winserzhao A die-hard social media fan with his own travel company. The ONLY one of the 8,000 Tweeple I reached out to for help  that answered the call to rescue a newlywed–stranded in China– who had all his money and documents stolen just after his wedding.
  • http://twitter.com/johningz I think Foreigner did a song about him once….He lives in GZ where I do…The whole city keeps getting younger around us….He can Tweet and eat Pizza at the same time…and does….most days….every day….
  • http://twitter.com/casperodj A Dutchman studying in Britain now. He made history by beating the news wires with tweets from the earthquake zone in Sichuan China…A former Olympic caliber archer, he made watching the shooting events from Beijing a blast by live-tweeting the events…
  • http://twitter.com/Meryl333 Delightful, spiritual ex-lawyer and biz strategist from Chicago now in San Francisco….She sometimes beats me at online Scrabble….

This is by no means an exhaustive personal list and it augments posts where I have mentioned others…And I do mean to add more later…

I am http://twitter.com/lonniehodge I am a Twitterholic….

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Whose Enemies Are They? Part II

I recently spent three days and two night with 85 native Chinese English Professors and school administrators. It was a pleasure trip that Expats in China who suffer from conversational anemia would have loved. This journey was rich in cultural and intellectual nutrients. Since most of the scholars there were educated in both China and the west, it made for great interactive subtleties, and an occasional journey into densely forested woods of dark humor…

At one point during our travels I was verbally recalling a story about four Chinese exchange students who, after 9 months of absence from their classes were reported missing and subsequently found dead in their Australian flat.  Without hesitation one professor wryly queried, “were they allowed to graduate?”

mao_leading_peasants

The professor who spoke is a bit of living history: his first job paid about 20RMB per day ($.15 cents then. By contrast an enlisted man in the US Army made $3.00 then) and his driving ambition was to save enough to be able to buy a bicycle. Bikes sold for 100 RMB at the time, but only if you had a voucher permitting you to to own one. And even with a voucher there was a bribe that often had to be paid locally that tacked an extra 100 RMB on to the final price. He was one of many intellectuals driven to the countryside during the cultural revolution in an attempt to teach them humility and put those like him more in touch with the proleteriat–the working class. He knows, as shown by his retort, that China has sadly followed the west into areas of industrialized education and that those with money or power need not study nor even attend class to attain a sheepskin in China or America.

Another professor then shared with me a game started in the 80’s in Wuhan (one of four directly controlled municipalities), but is reflective of the time in which he grew up, a time when “authority figures—teachers, landlords, monks and nuns, bosses, intellectuals, doctors, Party leaders—were ‘struggled against’ by gangs of teenage revolutionaries called Red Guards.” The card game, called Beat the Landlord–Dou Di Zhu– (literally fight the landlord) is now wildly popular on the Internet here and has some 20 million players on “QQ” (the most popular of messenger services here in China), allows two “bandits” to gang up on the “landlord” in order to allow one of them to divest himself of all cards and win. The social ramifications are now gone and the meaning all but lost on one of the younger teachers who was listening to music on his Mp4s and feigning interest as would American youth over talk of days of black and white TV or civil rights marches. He attained his diploma the old fashioned way: he earned it albeit with a bit less sacrifice. But, having heard such stories many times before he lacked interest in the topic.

cultural revolution

Also at the gathering were members of a few of the reviled groups labeled as such during the Cultural Revolution: The “Nine Black Categories”: Landlords, rich farmers, anti-revolutionaries, bad influences (the catch-all available in any culture), right-wingers, traitors, spies, capitalist roaders and lastly, intellectuals—scholars have been last, or next to last in Chinese caste hierarchies since the Yuan dynasty where they were only slightly better regarded (ninth) in that caste order where beggars were tenth. Present too were past members of the Hong Wei Bing (Red Guard) the more violent of whom persecuted scholars, committed acts of violence against landlords and others (even Deng Xio Ping), famous temples, shrines, and other heritage sites (4,922 out of 6,843 were destroyed). Now all of us, including two Gweilo (“ghost men”) were sharing rice at the same table…

On day two, one of the four “Waijiao” (literally outside teacher, but used to denote any foreign lecturer), having not heard the instructions (in Chinese)  early on in our adventure, boarded the wrong bus; hence, we were one person short in our count overall. Speaking in Chinese some of the teachers near me began grousing that it was, of course, a foreigner holding up what was to be called later a “long march” though an area cave. In fact what had happened was that a couple of other native “bad influences” were late due to having gone one Baijiu ( legal Chinese moonshine) over the line the night before. The Chinese teachers, accustomed, but resentful of the leeway given to foreign teachers, were unified in their belief that an outsider was the cause for delay.

I spent a lot of my trip directly and obliquely querying teachers and staff regarding their attitudes toward visiting teachers all of whom are accorded the title of “Foreign Expert” by the provincial education office even when only qualified to teach English by virtue of their country or skin color of birth–credentialed and talented Waijiao are hard to come by here.

Later when at a table with graduates of top schools domestically and abroad it came as no surprise to me that when introducing members of the group seated together a young lecturer referred only to his colleagues as “professors” and ignored giving titles to the two foreigners present; so, later that night during a karaoke break I did not even flinch when another junior faculty member angrily asked friends in Chinese, “Who invited the Waijiao?” They are weary of the unacculturated backpackers who pass though schools with far more in the way of critical opinions than useful skill sets to share….

After twelve years of post secondary education and three decades in the classroom, mostly overseas, I am secure in my scholarship, attempts at cultural sensitivity and pedagogical abilities. And while hurt and, yes miffed too, I try to understand the frustrations of the younger, poorly paid intelligentsia who react more negatively with more vigor as the west fails to recognize the monumental changes in China of the past 15  or so years thus putting these savvy scholars on the same cultural bus as some of their revolutionary predecessors or corrupt present day business and political leaders. The world media has most of the west still reveling in anything draconian while failing to give credence or applause to any positive steps toward becoming responsible global leaders and resentment runs high here.

The west is engaged in a newly branded western game of  Beat the Landlord as China begins to dominate certain world economic sectors. And our failure to engage them and recognize and encourage  accomplishments, a punishment model approach to change, is fueling a long held distrust of those on the far side of the wall. One academic told me that it will take time for the people of China to manifest a viable bill of rights, “perhaps more time” he told me, “than it has taken your country to deconstruct yours into a bill of rights and wrongs.”

It is a dangerous, knee-jerk nationalism that we foster in both east and west when we don’t acknowledge that most Chinese people still long, and are willing to struggle for, the present day equivalent of a revolutionary’s bicycle…

More in Part III

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On the Light Side…

Here is a post that was lost in the great WP spam crash of ’08….I found it on another site where it had 900 views logged. I don’t want a commission, I want Coffee Cola!:

coffee-cola

Idon’tkowwhyIneversawthisstuffbeforetoday.It’sbrilliant!! TWICEhtecaffeineofordinarycola.It’slikethatBUZZBEERontheDrew CareyshoworJOLTfromyearsback.WaitasecondwhileIitchmylegandget mymyhairtolieflat.HEYIcanstandandtypewithonehand!!!!DidIsay ithadTWICEthecaffeine???!!So,wherewasI??

This liquid crack, if it didn’t taste like vinyl on a bus seat smells (No, never up close!), would be a huge hit! It looks like a Safeway logo on the bottle I have (If it would just hold still I could read it…) and I guess is a knock-off of the stuff Coke introduced to France a couple of years ago. That was devilish, aye? The only think the French like as much as cheese and wine is COFFEE!

I am sure this stuff has already been souped up a bit and is available in the prescription section of supermarket pharmacies in Japan.But, it is new to my part of China!!! I am a little disturbed that they engineered it to froth when you put it into a glass. It looks horribly like recycled Guinness (Again, NO! what’s wrong with you people?) with its flat head of foam.

My bottle, It’s Empty! It’s Empty! I want another one! Now!, was made in Beijing and probably flew down here on its own accord. Maybe they will start bewing it with Pearl River water.

It will probably taste the same only chunkier. It terrifies me that Chinese Taxi Drivers might drink and drive on this stuff….Those guys already have a variant hybrid of St. Vitus’ Dance and Turretts Syndrome; all they need now is this new artificial symptom inducer and WHOOOOOOO!!!!

Give it a try, but have paramedics on speed (ha ha) dial….I am off: I am running down the 27 flights of my stairs to the 7/11 to give this stuff a second try.

Postscript: They discontinued CC here and I have become like House, MD and taken to slapping nuns and biting rabid dogs in my withdrawal…..

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Logos after the financial crisis…

Ya gotta laugh….

Found via Taiyun Chun on Facebook

New Apple Logo3 M new logocitigroup new logo

new chrysler logodell new logoferrari new logodow jones new logocisco new logoford new logogoodyear new logolg new logonike new logonokia new logobest buy new logoyahoo new logomcdonalds new logorenault new logo

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Screaming Memes…

Long before micro-blogging tightened its Tetris-like grasp around the throats of our blogs many of us frittered away more than one rss feed on things known as memes. For you “kids” out there–the ones who think that LinkedIn members still use Betamax (you don’t even know what that is, do ya?)–a meme is a game of blog tag. It was invented by Notewe Meme an Indian Bollywood blogger who never recovered from a crush on Aishwayra Rai and spent his days inventing ways to divert his attention from the fact that she did the nasty thing (hugged in public) that “Yak Butter Butt” Richard Gere. But, I digress….

ME ME

My friend Jason, the force behind Social Media Release builder Pitchengine, tagged me and since I am desperate for the days before my mind stopped at 140 characters I am going for it: trying to wtite in complete sentences. I will tag someone else as soon as I determine who still has a blog they are updating….
1. I am the founder of Culturefish Media and several other projects, but, I’m also the chief cook and bottle washer for a lot of other stuff ( two non-profits boards and two guidance committees) for which I also don’t get paid. I am a teacher who pretty much has been in the classroom in one way or another (damn you Kintzler) 35 years! Culturefish was invented to fund CSR initiatives and to pay cancer bills for a couple of people close to me who remain afflicted. To date I have raised tens of thousands of dollars for China charities, built 7 websites for NPOs and Culturefish has donated 5,000 man-hours to China causes. I am writing two new books, starting a program for training in SEO, running 8 blogs and a internship program for Chinese CSR/Digital devotees.  I stay up until dawn and then hang upside down when I do sleep. I love social media and have been involved in it since before Jim Channon was involved with goats and I was on a think tank he started in 1978.

2. I was a poet, soldier, martial arts instructor and professional actor/director: I spent my college years at more schools than Sarah Palin, but actually graduated from a few. I am most proud of my degree in Fine Arts (writing)  and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry that the panel that year accidentally awarded to me.  I have published and produced two plays, three books and a bazillion (eat your heart out Rod McKuen) poems, articles and reviews in national and international magazines. I even managed to get a few Haiku and literary translations published in Japanese (even just one monkey on one typewriter can do miracles!)…. My most remembered roles in theater were: stage director for an modern opera for the San Antonio symphony and as Phil in Adaptation a great one-act show by Elaine May.

3. I’m a Mac. I’m not a graphic designer. I have trouble drawing circles in Photoshop, but even the oval-like things look cooler on a Mac Screen. I do a lot of  SEO and could do that on an IBM, but couldn’t rag people like Jason Kintzler who thinks viral is a nickname for Microsoft.

4. I own 5,000 DVDs and a week’s change of clothes: I have moved so much as a military brat, soldier and professional expat (teacher, entrepreneur…) that I feel like the oldest living confederate widow. I am from Colorado where there are more cattle guards than cars (makes for a big state payroll all those guards)….I think people age like the picture in the attic, but stay as young as Dorian Gray if they remain teaching or learning.  I live in China and will be here likely until Bush defects to Beijing to escape the Hague or Hu Jintao thinks he and the Dalai Lama are a good match.

5. I’m am the father of three girls. It is probably why my fashion gene (I own the domain, Straight Eye For the Queer Guy) probably kicked in. I dress like Oscar in the Odd Couple, but secretly pine to be a judge on Project Runway. I’ve have never lost my honorary gay card.

6. I did individual sports: Taekwondo, Hapkido, Long Distance Running, Sex, Wrestling (they gave us $35 bucks a month if we made varsity at Boys Town High), and Swimming (I ditched wrestling practice once and sneaked into the pool area and didn’t have the balls to admit I wasn’t there to try out for the team), and Archery. I was National  Outdoorsman of the Year in 1980 having paradoxically shot lots of animals and fostered a gaggle of conservation initiatives all at once. I have more broken and aching bones than did Evil Kneivel late in his career. I love to fish and golf, but couldn’t catch a cold in a mountain stream and constantly lose my balls (ya, ya)…No, I don’t fling sharp edged sticks at Bambi anymore.

I will tag a few folks in a day or two…

Be afraid, be very afraid…

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It Wasn’t Anything Like the Beatles Concert at Shea Stadium….

So you thought the ticket sales ruckus in Beijing was culturally tied to the Chinese aversion to orderly lines, didn’t you? Actually, I thought they did pretty well considering 30,000 Olympic hopefuls stood  in line for two days waiting for the last of the tickets in the final phase of Beijing’s ill-conceived distribution scheme. Heck, I remember hawking my dignity to get the final seats available for a New Kids on the Block gig for my teen daughters (just a few years ago) and was happy to have escaped the sales booth with all my parts attached. Of course, my typically prepubescent girls complained later of nosebleeds at balcony altitude, but I digress…

The bump-and-run incident in Beijing that landed a Hong Kong (unaccredited) reporter in custody didn’t last as long nor was it nearly as interesting as the hair pulling I’ve seen on double coupon days in American Supermarkets. And i seem to remember an incident several years back where some poor woman was trampled into unconsciousness in Florida during a $29.00 DVD sale at The Great Wallmart. The best part of that story, as I recall, was the paramedics arriving to find her out cold, but till draped over her prize DVD. The manager, an altruist to make you proud, later called to check on her in the hospital and offered to put another DVD “on hold” for her. Uh, no the manager was not a teenager nor related to the victim (or me) in any way.

After the melee in Beijing the HK press began shouting that Beijing had reneged on its promise to offer open access to reporters. I am ready to take a bit of flack here by asserting that it looked more like an act of individual fatigue born of a weary, unprepared police force than it did a conspiracy to disembowel and and transplant fear from what’s left of China’s human rights carcass.

I suspect that among the million daily scribbles made by the prickle of press porcupines now inhabiting China’s capitol city a fair number of them will have to be a tad flamboyant in order to stand out enough to see print. With that many reporters in search of a sell-able story, it makes a midnight stroll through Baghdad feel safer than being on the other end of one of those writer’s quills.

I had a man start following me on Twitter two days ago who claims he is able to stop hurricanes and tropical storms with a special meditation technique–one he teaches for an undisclosed price. I wonder if he has a similarly gifted mutant in his group who can put a psychic finger in the Olympic Public Relations dike or a tiding of teenagers who can provide regular humility checks.

Report by LBH: Offical Collective Noun Spokesman for the 2008 Games

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