"China's traditional grain spirit, baijiu, has evolved—mostly in obscurity—along a trajectory that has no Western equivalent."
"Whereas Western grain alcohols are fermented and distilled in liquid form, the Chinese perform both processes in a solid state ..."
"No wonder we react so viscerally to the 'ching-chong, ching-chong' schoolyard taunt. To attack our language, our ability to sound 'normal,' is to attack our ability to be normal. It's to attack everything we've worked for." An essay by Arthur Chu
on feigning a Chinese accent for work and ridding oneself of an accent for life. [more inside]
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for changing the admissions criteria of NYC's elite high schools
, arguing that relying solely on a single exam (the SHSAT
) "creates a “rich-get-richer” dynamic that benefits the wealthy, who can afford expensive test prep. However, the reality is just the opposite. It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers." [more inside]
If you heard the recent NPR's Codeswitch
segment on The Green Turtle
, the first Asian superhero
created in the United States, you heard descriptions of the 1940s comic. But there's more (so much more!) online. Start with the entire run of The Green Turtle
on the amazing Digital Comic Museum
, which hosts public domain Golden Age comics
(late 1930s until the late 1940s or early 1950s). If you want to know more about Chu F. Hing, the artist behind the original Green Turtle, here's an extensively researched biography
on the astounding Chinese American Eyes blog
, which covers "famous, forgotten, well-known, and obscure visual artists of Chinese descent in the United States." [more inside]
by graphic designer and cartoonist 阿塗 (Ah To) contains 81 Cantonese proverbs and idioms in one image. It was originally published on the Hong Kong website Passion Times
, and was inspired by a 1559 oil painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder called Netherlandish Proverbs
. [more inside]
Channel C WISC
is a YouTube channel where UW-Madison undergrads from China talk about the experience of being Chinese at a big public American university, with the aim of both helping newly arrived international students understand what's going on around them, and helping American students have some sense of what's going on with their Chinese classmates. Videos include "Why Chinese Students Don't Party,"
, "Chinese Names,"
, "Pretty Chinese Women"
, "Who are the Chinese Second Generation Rich?"
, "Why Chinese Students Don't Speak English,"
and many more.
Why I Stay Closeted In Asia (SLBF)
I denied it, as my father and sister begged me to.
I couldn't exaggerate to you how much my mother's face lit up, or how much I wanted, for a shameful second, for my lie to be true. I began to tell her a story, got into the groove, told it with what could be called pizzazz, or maybe just mercy. A monthlong fling with a Korean girl became a year ("I liked her; she had a cocaine problem"). Immediately she laughed with relief.
"I wouldn't know how to deal if you were, you know, that" she said.
To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure:
Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
Ta-Nehisi Coates has spent the last few months in Paris specifically studying French. His latest dispatch, "Or Perhaps You Are Too Stupid to Learn French
," looks at how hard it is to apply the rules of new language in real time, while fighting with one's perceptions and limitations (Other dispatches are here
Washington Post writer Jay Matthews asks if learning a foreign language is worth it
and recounts his own struggles studying Chinese
. Another WaPo writer, Elizabeth Chang, recalls her experience in learning Arabic
As part of the preparation for a special exhibition on the history of Chinese food in America, the Smithsonian opens the world's oldest can of fortune cookies
. More posts on the exhibit research under the Sweet & Sour tag
Xiaoou is a Norwegian artist who raps in Mandarin Chinese about income inequality
in China, his love for Beijing
, and going through a breakup
""He just went out to the shop, and my mum was waiting for him to come home, and he never came," Linda Davis said of her father." -- During World War II tens of thousands of Chinese seamen served in the UK's merchant navy, many of whom had settled in Liverpool and some of which developed relationships with local women. Yet in 1945, as soon as the war was won, Liverpool police forces, on orders of the Home Office mounted razzias and deported the majority of the 20,000 Chinese men living in the city
, leaving behind their wifes and children. [more inside]
is a project to record spoken stories in every one of the thousands of varieties
in order to preserve both stories and language for future generations. (via
) [more inside]
The Chopsticks Brothers (筷子兄弟)
[Google translated bio
] are Xiao Yang and Wang Taili,
Chinese indie musician/filmmakers making internet short films which generally function as extended music videos for their original songs.
(42 min, english sub) October 2010
] - over 52 million views
on YouTube, english subtitles [more inside]
: "The parents of China’s post-1980 generation [the bā líng hòu (八零後)] (themselves born between 1950 and 1965) grew up in a rural, Maoist world utterly different from that of their children. In their adolescence, there was one phone per village, the universities were closed and jobs were assigned from above. If you imagine the disorientation and confusion of many parents in the West when it comes to the internet and its role in their children’s lives, and then add to that dating, university life and career choices, you come close to the generational dilemma. Parents who spent their own early twenties labouring on remote farms have to deal with children who measure their world in malls, iPhones and casual dates." [more inside]
In 1995, an Atlantic story on the first Chinese translation of Ulysses
closed with the offhand remark that "no one in China is offering to translate Finnegans Wake." Today on the (day after the) 131st anniversary of his birth, James Joyce's famously difficult work is a bestseller in China
Tireless eaters Jenne and Miko
set out to try every restaurant along San Diego's Convoy Street
. (via Projects
) [more inside]
, the city states of the Malay Peninsula
often paid tribute to regional kingdoms such as those of China
. Closer relations with China were established in the early
15th century during the reign of Parameswara
, founder of Melaka, when Admiral
Zheng He (Cheng Ho) sailed through the Straits of Malacca
. Impressed by the tribute
, the Yongle Emperor
of China is said to have
presented Princess Hang Li Po*
as a gift to Mansur Shah, then Sultan
(+/-1459 AD). Tradition claims
the courtiers and servants who accompanied
the princess settled in Bukit Cina
, intermarried with the
locals and grew into a community
known as the Peranakan
. Colloquially known as Baba-Nyonya, the Peranakan or Straits Chinese
, they retained many of
their ethnic and religious
customs, but assimilated
the language and clothing
of the Malays
. They developed
a unique culture
and distinct foods
. Nyonya cuisine
is one of the most
highly rated in the South East Asian region, considered
some of the most difficult
to master but very easy
Stopping at Incense Storing Temple
- I did not know the incense storing temple,
- I walked a few miles into the clouded peaks.
- No man on the path between the ancient trees,
- A bell rang somewhere deep among the hills.
- A spring sounded choked, running down steep rocks,
- The green pines chilled the sunlight's coloured rays.
- Come dusk, at the bend of a deserted pool,
- Through meditation I controlled passion's dragon.
, Wang Wei
This unassuming, feel-good spice "has been one of the saddest stories of history
," from the gruesome, grisly tale of how the Dutch tortured and massacred the people
of the Banda Islands
in Indonesia in an attempt to monopolize the nutmeg
trade. [more inside]
The Global Language Online Support System
(or GLOSS), produced by the Defense Language Institute in sunny Monterey, CA, offers over six thousand
free lessons in 38 languages from Albanian to Uzbek, with particular emphasis on Chinese, Persian, Russian, Korean, and various types of Arabic. The lessons include both reading and listening components and are refreshingly based on real local materials (news articles, radio segments, etc.) rather than generic templates. [more inside]
Ding Baozhen (1820-1886) was a governor of Sichuan province during the Qing dynasty. The emperor bestowed upon him the title Gōng Bǎo - "palatial guardian". He supervised the reconstruction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System
. But he achieved immortality through the dish named for him: Kung Pao Chicken
. [more inside]
"Our bull is very strong, so let's call him Optimus Prime."
A look at the sport of water buffalo fighting in southwest China. (Don't miss the video on the article page.)
English that looks like Chinese.
"At first glance, Square Word Calligraphy appears to be nothing more unusual than Chinese characters, but in fact it is a new way of rendering English words in the format of a square so they resemble Chinese characters. Chinese viewers expect to be able to read Square Word Calligraphy but cannot. Western viewers, however are surprised to find they can read it. Delight erupts when meaning is unexpectedly revealed." (Britta Erickson, The Art of Xu Bing
.) [more inside]
No Place for Your Kind
Photojournalist Tim Greyhavens documents sites
of anti-Chinese violence in the American West around the turn of the last century. NYT blog post
on the project.
The Great Wall of China
(長城) took 2000 years to build, and stretches for 5500 miles. Yet pictures
of that wonder of the world in popular media are typically restricted to the tourist-visited sections closest
. (There are several sections
of the wall near that city.) Kuriositas has gathered some images that present the Wall from other areas.
Mike McHenry has posted several photo pages of the Chinese firecracker and firework labels
he's been collecting since 1968.
has eaten at 6,090 Chinese restaurants. He's eaten at more than 300 Chinese restaurants in New York alone and visited every state. Here's his list of the top ten Chinese restaurants
in America, all of which are in California, most in Los Angeles. [more inside]
On Tiger Moms
: "What the controversy surrounding Chua demonstrates, however inadvertently, is that parenting techniques are always grounded in basic assumptions about the way things are and what matters to us. And they are always guided by some answer to the most fundamental of ethical questions—how to live?" [more inside]
As you can see, the [Chinese] typewriter is extremely complicated and cumbersome. The main tray — which is like a typesetter's font of lead type — has about two thousand of the most frequent characters. Two thousand characters are not nearly enough for literary and scholarly purposes, so there are also a number of supplementary trays from which less frequent characters may be retrieved when necessary. What is even more intimidating about a Chinese typewriter is that the characters as seen by the typist are backwards and upside down! [more inside]
You can make jiaozi
. But you can't make it like this.
Here's a dance
performed by Yang Liping and her niece Cai Qi at a Chinese New Year gala recently. It's called "Spring" and will likely mark the end of a celebrated career. Yang Liping (杨丽萍） is perhaps most famous for her gorgeous arm movements in the Peacock Dance
(雀之灵), and here's one more dance performed entirely in silhouette called "Moon
You've read The Backstroke of the West
; now WATCH The Backstroke of the West
! (MLYT, some NSFW language. The first minute or so of video is missing, but the rest of the movie is there in its full glory.)
Have trouble figuring out who your third cousin twice removed is versus your second cousin thrice removed? Imagine if your family was Chinese
. The rules for Chinese family relation names are complex and incredibly specific, though there are patterns that can help out (e.g. tang2 vs biao3). A research paper
provides some cultural context. [more inside]
AMC's Hell on Wheels
is an upcoming series created by Joe and Tony Gayton, centered around the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Joe: "I think what a lot of people think of
when they think about the Transcontinental Railroad is the contribution of the Chinese immigrants.
" "But, it’s just so American". So the show focuses on railroad construction from the East, and the Chinese laborers story? They "ended up getting excised
". [more inside]
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
The Oakland-based Purple Silk Music Education program
is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing musical training to inner-city youth
. One particular student in the program, Tyler Thompson
, has been getting some press lately for his renditions of traditional Chinese opera
(Chinese opera, previously on the blue
[Michelangelo Antonioni's Chung Kuo] as a documentary film was one which was draped with fascination for both filmmakers as well as an audience, rather than championing anti-whatever sentiments from either side of the world. Not having seen many movies, either features, shorts or documentaries made during the Cultural Revolution era or about that era in question (propaganda included), I think this Antonioni film has more than made its mark as a definitive documentary that anyone curious about the life of the time, would find it a gem to sit through.