Friday, November 23, 2007

YCQ #8

I am clearly not doing a very good job of keeping up with my posting quota, so I am resurrecting the yellow card questions. Yay!

And we need a new theme song! I nominate "我愿意" ("I am willing") originally sung by Wang Fei (王菲, aka Faye Wong), but lots of others have done covers. I recommend you start the video playing, but don't look at it for a minute, just listen. Then listen and watch for a very different experience.

I have a translation posted on my other blog, if you're curious.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, eagerly anticipating for the past umpteen months, willing to read, wanting to read, waiting to read: the all new 8th yellow card question! (Okay so it's not all new, since it's been there in the virtual deck this whole time, but it's the all new time it is appearing here, on this blog, in special blockquoted yellow on green background, as opposed to the black on yellow background, see. Believe me, it really is kinda all new, so be excited.)

And here it is!

If the whole world were listening, what would you say?

I honestly haven't a clue what I should say, but from the perspective of behavioral observation, I think a highly relevant data set is the corpus of blog posts I have written. Now, we must qualify this by noting that in practice, the whole world is not listening, or even reading, but in principle, any member of the world population on this side of the digital divide could wander through, and in fact a non-negligible portion of site hits come from foreign lands like Tennessee and Canada. They come looking for pictures of chickens or donkey riders, and seeking information about "umlatt" and holey jeans, and we do our best to meet their critical needs. It is for this reason (the benefit of lost internet travellers) that we have devoted so much of our time to wandering, the internet, and the world, alongside the essentials like food and underwear. Always be prepared, as they say. And I do all I can time and weather permitting, to help the whole world out.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

10000 tracks scrobbled

10000 tracks scrobbled
Originally uploaded by serapio
A year and a half ago, I joined the social music revolution. World peace and harmony through sympathetic vibrations, you know? Oh wait. That's not quite right. It promised to connect me with people who like the same kind of music as me. The best part is it didn't require marching in the streets or hiding in muddy fortifications.

Well, today I "scrobbled" my 10000th track, Fujo Nyumbani, by the Western Jazz Band, found on Steve Ntwiga's blog via el oso. I have found some good music on, but it's also clear i'm a freak. There just aren't many people out there listening to Leonor Dely, Forrest Carroll, and Mandingo y su Familia.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Photos in Dandong

With Angie in Dandong
Originally uploaded by serapio

Swimming to North Korea
Swimming to North Korea
Originally uploaded by serapio

Guard house on the Korean side
Guard house on the Korean side
Originally uploaded by serapio
I've posted some more photos, of our time in Dandong. It's a really nice city, with a river (the Yalu River) that's clean enough to swim in. Angie's dad swims across the river a few times a week, and I went with him a couple times. You're apparently allowed to wade in the shallows on the North Korean side, but not get all the way out of the water.

There are lots of monuments to anti-American efforts and Sino-Korean relations in the city. There's two bridges next to each other, one complete and the other half-destroyed by American forces during the Korean war, kept up as a war memorial. There's also a big "Counter-America Assist-Korea Memorial Museum", that still has a lot of anti-American propaganda. But actual anti-American sentiment seems to have waned greatly.

Also, if your Pirate Talk is a little rusty, be sure to brush up on it today. (If you are older than 45, younger than 21, a feminist or an impressionable male, you should only watch the first half, but that first half is pretty good.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pet picture month

Petting the cute little camel
Petting the cute little camel
Originally uploaded by serapio

Little goats!
Cute little goats
Originally uploaded by serapio
Here are a couple nice pet pictures. They aren't exactly my pets, but I am petting some domesticated animals. Here is a camel, and then a couple little goats. Aren't they so cute?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

I'm not dead yet

My deepest apologies for not keeping up with yellow card questions, or posting in general. I'll not hold it against you if decide to banish me to Hainan. I had a kinda busy end of semester, but that by itself can't excuse or explain my negligence and and general absence from net space. The rumors are true. Or some of them are anyway. I have joined the stereotyped ranks of those foreign white men with Chinese girlfriends. In accordance with the declared Honey Picture Month, I am posting this picture at the 11th hour.


In case you were wondering, my 'do' in this picture only lasted a few days. I may be a child of the 70s, but I don't belong there.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shaking the calabashes

This is a public service advertisement.

Calabash Music is a supercool website that distributes fair trade DRM-free world music. It has become my main source of good music. Every week they designate one or two new songs as free for download. Well, this week, for some reason, they have 11 free songs!

Go check them out!

Monday, April 30, 2007

YCQ #7

Clean cup, clean cup! Move Down! The theme song of the day is 中国话[mp3], by S.H.E, a Taiwanese girl band. It's one of the most popular hits these days, occupying place number 7 in Baidu's list of most popular songs. Play it the video below, or open the mp3 link above.

So what is it about, you ask? Here is a complete translation, but the chorus says

The whole world is learning Chinese
Confucius's words are gradually globalizing
The whole world is speaking Chinese
The language we speak makes the world all listen carefully

It's celebrating the rise of Chinese as the next global lingua franca! (In case you missed the CCTV news, it's just a matter of time. China is doing a lot to promote Chinese language and culture worldwide, most notably the Confucius Institutes. Many of my students major in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, a field that is growing, but not as quickly as the government and these students hoped.) The more off-the-wall lines in the song are references to tongue twisters, classical tone scansion, and philosophy parables.

So what were we doing here again? Oh yeah, the question!
If you could live perfectly well without sleeping at all, what would you do at night?
Well, I have often wished I didn't have to sleep so much. I've never managed on less than about 8 hours of sleep average, unlike some older brothers we know. This means that they have dozens more hours each week to make bank working long hours, read lots of books, shop online, and still have time for a family/social life. All I seem to have time for is reading the internet and watching youtube movies. If I didn't have to sleep at all, I might find the time to grade papers, write a thesis, or even take a shower occasionally.

[Edit: 中国话 is actually the top song in the list of popular new songs.]

Monday, April 23, 2007

I'm coming to the party, and I'm coming as

a Computational Linguist, or a Corpus Linguist, or a Cognitive Scientist of Language, or a Luxury Car Salesman. And I'm moving to La Jolla, California. I am such an egotist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My 15 seconds of fame

I've said elsewhere that being a foreigner in China is a bit like being a minor celebrity. Well, now I really am famous. I'm mentioned a couple times in this news story, republished in the provincial education department news and Chinese university online news. Okay, so they decided to use a photo of a cute Korean girl instead of my lovely visage, and they didn't quite get what I said right, but this is clearly the most newsworthy thing I have done since the Golden West Pathfinder did the story about me that covered the whole back page.

The title, "我校留学生走进社区 体验中国“邻居节”" means "Our school's foreign students enter community to experience 'neighborhood festival'". The university's "International Culture Club" coordinated a neighborhood festival with a nearby residential community organization last Saturday morning. There were a bunch of presentations by the community residents and by university students.

来自美国的外教卢西恩第一个上台表演,他还客串了把主持人,将留学生们一一介绍给了观众。卢西恩与对外汉语专业的大一的女 生柴银赣一起合作唱了首中国的民歌《茉莉花》。演出前,两人一直在台下练习着这首歌。卢西恩告诉记者,10年前刚开始学中文的时候,他已经学过这首歌了。
This paragraph says,
Foreign lecturer Lucien, from America, was the first [of the foreigners] to go on stage to perform. He also acted as a host/announcer, introducing the exchange students one by one. [I actually introduced them as a group.] Lucien and first-year TCFL major Chai Yingan cooperated to sing Chinese folk song "Jasmine Flower". Before performing, they were off stage continuously practicing this song. [I think we sang it once.] Lucien told the reporter that 10 years ago, when he first started studying Chinese, he had already learned this song. [In fact, it's not been 10 years yet since I started studying Chinese, though I think I did say that at first, before correcting myself. And I learned the song the middle of my first year of Chinese.]
The story talks about the foreign students' performances, and then the last paragraph talks about me again.
For all the exchange students, it was their first time to come to a community and participate in this kind of activity. Foreign lecturer Lucien said that in America, only when he was a child had he participated in community festivals [I was actually talking about the activities in Lomalinda], and since coming to China he had even fewer opportunities to come into the community. [I'm actually not sure what the reporter means here.]
So, clearly, there were some communication problems. I notice the reporter didn't include my wittiest comment of the interview. When she asked what other talents I had besides singing, I said that actually my only talent is twiddling my thumbs. We had a hard time translating that though. These sheltered Chinese students don't know about thumb-twiddling. I showed them how to do it, but I was unable to explain the deep cultural significance.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 6

Some of my fans didn't care so much for my theme song, so by popular request, we have adopted a new one! It's from goldenox, and you should just hit the play button now.

powered by ODEO

Yes, that is correct. It is Reggaeton. In Chinese. Chinese Reggaeton. What will they think of next: Turkish Reggaeton? Uzbek Salsa? Apparently a couple of the lines are kinda crude though, so I wouldn't recommend singing those catchy lyrics in polite company.

Oh, so yeah, time for the show! w00t!

Today, without any pomp or circumstance, I draw a yellow card. But just before beginning to read I remember the exciting news! You can play now too! That's right, the best yellow card questions in the world are now in their first public beta release! Check it out! Practice your spoken English, entertain your friends at boring parties, or add content to your abandoned blog! (Yes, I'm talking about you.)

All right, where were we. Oh yes.

"If you had to choose, would you rather give up your sight or your hearing?"

I would certainly miss listening to good music, spoken language and the sounds of nature, but I don't think I could handle not seeing. So much information in my world is presented visually rather than auditorially. I'm color blind and near sighted, but also lacking musical sense, so I think I understand visual art better than music.

And I've been wanting to learn sign language anyway.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Truth

Originally uploaded by serapio.
So I thought I should clear some things up. My previous post, dated April 1, did in fact have a number of true statements.
  • The first sentence about thinking about what I want to do with my life is true.
  • At the time I wrote that post, the sun had come out, and in fact it had been over 30° C Saturday. Oddly, winter returned Sunday, and by Monday night it had dropped to 2°. Today it is spring time again.
  • I do kinda like it here these days. Posts about why are forthcoming.
  • My camera is broken. Sometime between celebrating Carnaval, Chinese New Year, and President's day in L.A. and when I arrived in Ningbo March 2, my camera decided to construct it's own reality.
The rest of it is nonsense. I am returning to San Diego in the fall.

Saturday, March 31, 2007


As you folks know, I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about where I'm going to school next year, what kind of academic I want to be, and what I'm doing with my life in general. I've become convinced that I don't actually want to be a linguist, and perhaps not an academic at all. Neither of my options is really right for me, in any case. I've signed up for another year here. I'll probably apply to grad schools again in the fall, looking at cog-sci and psych programs. But since the sun has come out again this place has really grown on me, or I'm realizing how much I have liked it here, and I'm considering staying on long term.

In not unrelated news, I should introduce you to my fiancée. I don't have any pictures yet though, and my camera's broken. I met Quan Feili (全非丽) at one of the two bars in town, back in January, and in the time since I returned here, we've spent a lot of time together. It's clear to me she is my soulmate, and last night we agreed we should get hitched sometime or another.

[Edit: In case it wasn't clear, this is an April Fool's joke. But see this update.]

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 5

And now, it's time for the SHOW! (Scroll down the page and start the theme song playing now, okay? Go ahead, I'll wait.)

Today, for the first time in history, I will first demonstrate a new and amazing magic trick! As you can see, or as you will have to trust me on this anyway, I am holding in my hands this perfectly unremarkable hat! So unremarkable in fact, that it has the name "Visalia" across the front. And as you can see, or as I assure you, there is nothing in the hat! But watch (or imagine) closely now. My hands are empty and the hat is empty, but with a simple flick of my wrist and a reach into my backpack, !!!yellow cards!!! How was that folks? All without any mirrors or camera tricks!

Thank you, thank you.

And now, ... the question for today:

"If you woke up suddenly because your building was on fire, which three things would you save as you ran outside"

Well, I don't have much of value here, neither sentimental value nor monetary. My lippy-loppy, of course, has my entire life on it, so even though much of it is backed up elsewhere, that would be the first thing I would grab. After that, I think I should grab my various IDs (Does that count as one thing or as a dozen? Seriously, how did I end up with so many ID cards?). And for the third thing, ... I would grab a pair of shoes. I could manage in my sleeping clothes for a while (or there's a fair chance I would not have changed out of my normal clothes before falling asleep), and I could borrow or buy others easily enough, but shoes in my size are the stuff of legend in these parts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's on the tip of my tongue twister

Suppose you can't remember the name of that art movement that was fascinated by speed and steel, or that word that starts with 'p' and means liking to fight. Or perhaps you are looking for words that would fit into a tongue twister you're writing.

I still can't find that word that sounds like bremsstrahlung though.

In other news, Blogspot is a hive of barbarians again. But it's in good company. Livejournal, Xanga, and Wordpress are also barbarian hordes, and of course everything Wikimedia.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 4

Three two one roll it!
♫It's Howdy Doody time, it's Howdy Doody time♫--
Cut! That's not right. Try that again.
♫Em Eye See! Kay Ee Why! Em Oh You Es Ee! Mick♫--
Cut cut cut! That's not right either! Where did our theme song go? Oh, we didn't have a theme song? How did that happen? How did we already get to our 4th episode without a theme song?! Well, we don't have time to put anything together now. How about we just adopt one. Okay, here it is:
Skullcrusher Mountain from the crazed mind of Jonathan Coulton.

Let the show begin! Doopity doo! Bring forth the cards of golden hue! Voila! Exclaim some more! Woohoo!

And the one and only card of the day!

"If you could speak any other language that you don't speak already, which language would you like to speak?"

Ooooh! This is a good one. Well, if Standard Chinese counts as a language I already speak, the next ones on my list would be:

- One or more Wu dialects. There are a bewildering number of mutually unintelligible Chinese languages spoken in this province and in the area just north of it. These Wu dialects maintain some interesting features of Classical Chinese, and of course do all kinds of interesting things different from each other and from the other Chinese languages, while the vocabulary is apparently mostly cognate with the other Chinese languages. I would at minimum like to understand better how the phonology of a couple dialects work, and it would be cool to actually be able to communicate in one.

- An Amerindian language. Mostly because they are morphologically and syntactically so different from the languages I know now, and I need some balance.

- Arabic. I took a semester of Arabic, but it wasn't really enough to get much beyond the phonology and spelling. Arabic has really cool morphology, and it offers an interesting language & power comparison with Chinese, in the coexistence of colloquial and standard languages.

- An African tone and/or click language. An African language to add to the typological balance, clicks because they are just awesome, and tones so I can understand comparisons with Chinese.

- All the other ones too.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jog

In the past four weeks, I have slept in eight cities, and ridden buses, metros, trains, a bullet train, a motorcycle, a rental car, a moto taxi, a few regular taxis, airplanes, and several cars of friends and family. And I walked a lot too. It was very good to see everyone, and it is good to be back.

Income Tax!
Dad and Nathanael

I celebrated Chinese New Year, Carnaval, and President's Day in Los Angeles with my family. In my family, whenever these three important holidays fall on the same weekend, rather than trying to dance half-naked in the street, lighting firecrackers and waving American flags, we just sit around filling out income tax forms and taking turns holding the baby.

Now I have returned to Jinhua, where they are hanging red paper lanterns and shooting off fireworks to celebrate my birthday. It's very thoughtful of them.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 3

Well, seeing as how it has been two weeks since the last yellow card question, it must be time for a new one. But I'm kinda tired, so I'm not feeling up to putting on my clown suit and magician's hat. All right fine, I'll put on my yellow raincoat and rollerblade onto stage. Okay? Are you happy now?

Now, it's time for the yellow card. (Applause) Here, from my amazing stack of questions, special for today, exclusively for this audience, we have a question! (I try a bit too hard to look excited, and almost lose my balance. Audience applauds.) A special question that you've all been waiting for, chosen randomly and without the possibility of a rigged card draw! (Applause)

"If you were given one million dollars, what would you buy?"

Well, I think I would buy two things.

One is Liner's system of mail tubes, so we could climb into little capsules and be sucked to another continent in a few seconds. I think that wouldn't cost very much if I drove a hard bargain and had it made in China.

With the money left over, I would assemble a linguistics (or cogsci) department that pays attention to neuroscience and cognitive psychology and explores language in its cognitive and social context, that neither ignores linguistic theory nor takes any of it too seriously, that does take real languages and linguistic diversity seriously, that has plenty of quantitative experimental research (both corpus-based and psycholinguistic) but still has room for more exploratory (but still empirical) research, and that has people working on the whole spectrum of phenomena from phonetics to discourse structure and pragmatics. Oh, and they should let me study there.

Is that too much to ask?

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 2

And now, what you've all been waiting for -- this week's episode of:

The Yellow Card Question!

Pretend now that I actually didn't leave my deck of yellow card questions in Jinhua and planned ahead by queuing up a few here, but rather am pulling the question now live, before your very eyes! Feel the suspense! Gaze in anticipation at the beautiful bright yellow rectangles! Read a few extra exclamation marks!!!

And a few more: !!!!

And now, the question:
"You have been captured by cannibals. How would you like to be cooked?"

Well, if I'm going to be eaten, I would like to be eaten good, slow cooked in a deep pit barbecue or roasted over an open fire with lots of tasty spices. I've heard cannibals often know how to make a mean barbecue sauce and are pretty good at cooking with open fires. So really, I trust them to cook me right. Just so long as they don't leave any as microwaved leftovers I'll be fine.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

N views of West Lake, and other stuff

Before I go gallivanting across the globe and visiting such exotic locales as Visalia and University City, I should say something about Hangzhou, since I previously said I wanted to say something about it, but was waiting until I uploaded some pictures. Well, I've uploaded some pictures, but can't think of much to say about it, although I did already say a few things on the photo pages. Anyway, go take a look. It's a nice place.

Trees planted in an old house

Today was a nice sunny day, and I rode my bike (a bright red folding bicycle) much of the way to Double Dragon Caves, which is a pretty famous tourist attraction, not far away, that I managed to not visit all this semester. I've just put up some of the pictures I took today.

Language Requirements

My two most likely options for school next year have radically different language requirements. First, take a look at the one for UCSB linguistics:

The foreign language requirement. Students must demonstrate knowledge of one research language before receiving an M.A. and a second research language before advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. A research language is a language with substantial relevant literature on linguistics. Knowledge can be demonstrated by one of the following methods of examination within the student's area of interest: (1) English translation of a 500-word passage, chosen by the examiner, to be produced within one and a half hours with the aid of a dictionary and with no more than 8 points of erroneous comprehension (2 points for each major error significantly affecting meaning; 1 point for each minor error). (2) A 1,000-1,500 word English summary, written over a single weekend, of a substantial linguistic article chosen by the examiner. The faculty member in charge of exams for a particular language will specify a sample of material comparable to what can be expected on the exam. Translation and summary exams may be taken in May or October on a date to be set by the examiner. (3) A research paper that not only independently fulfills a course or degree requirement but also contains copious references to linguistic literature in the foreign language of interest, with the understanding that the works referred to shall be lent to the examiner for verification.
In other words, you have to be able to understand academic articles written in two languages other than English. I don't meet that requirement yet. Now look at the one for UCSD cogsci:
Language Requirement. The main goal of the language requirement is to give all students firsthand experience with some of the differences in structure and usage of languages and the several issues involved in the learning of second languages. This requirement can be satisfied by demonstrating satisfactory proficiency, by prior study in a language (e.g., two years of high school study), or by satisfactory completion of one quarter of study in a language course approved by the department.
"Two years of high school study" or "one quarter of study"! All UC undergraduates have to have more language courses than that! The theoretical bent of the two departments is fairly similar, and they have a high emphasis on empirical work, but UCSB being a linguistics department and the UCSD program being a cogsci department makes a lot of difference.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Change of Plans

I have decided to make an emergency run home during my one month winter break. I need to meet with the professors at next year's school options, get out of the country, and see my people. I need a hug and, most importantly, a burrito!

I hope the following isn't misunderstood, and doesn't offend. Much of it is generalizations that should perhaps be more carefully qualified. I have a corresponding list in progress of things I like about living in China, but I'm pretty sure I will have an easier time thinking of those things when I'm in California. (The grass is always greener.) You can expect to see that list in a month or so. What is more relevant at the moment is my list of things I don't like about living in China:

  • I have no peer group. I have only weak social groups. I have no roommates. I miss human contact.
  • I have had very little time to practice Chinese. Relatively little context to speak, and for much of the semester I was too busy to study.
  • I also managed to not do any other things I had hoped to explore here, like classical painting, martial arts, ancient Buddhism or Daoism.
  • There are very few natural areas to visit. The roads are paved, the fields are plowed under (though mostly by hand), the lakes are artificial, and the rivers are polluted.
  • The historical sites are reconstructions, with almost nothing remaining more than 20 years old.
  • The assumption that dating Chinese women is a high priority for me, even a major reason for coming here. I can understand why this stereotype exists, since there are a lot of single men who come here as teachers or on business, and many of them do have Chinese girlfriends. And some of them, even one I know, have dislikable attitudes towards Chinese women. The effect is that I, as a representative white male American, am assumed to have similar intentions. The combination of that and being an exotic species makes me the object of some somewhat annoying attention, and some dislike.
  • The media control is real, with pretty limited variety on TV. The news seems to be even less trustworthy than Fox or BBC Science. (And much less sensational/interesting).
  • The nationalism and patriotism turn up in surprising places. It's sometimes just quaint, but other times like fingernails on a chalkboard. As far as I can tell, there is no stigma against nationalism. (Contrast this to Mexico City, where the relevant question being discussed was "Is nationalism ever a good thing?" if I remember correctly.)
  • People assume that I like Bush and his policies, and that I'm nationalistic too.
  • The Great Firewall blocks a lot of content: wikipedia, many blog and website hosts, many news sources, and many random pages. And it dramatically slows down international traffic too. It makes it harder to connect with friends and family in the States, read different perspectives on the news, and read academic articles. The internet connection is pretty poor when school is in session, and really bad in the evening.
I'm hoping I will be able to make some changes on some of these points next semester, and getting out of the country will help refresh my memory of what I do like about being here.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A new tradition: yellow card questions

So, today I'm missing my third estimate of when I would finish grading exams. If I lower my standards, I may still finish tomorrow. In celebration of that realization, I am blogging.

You may recall that I have recently started a couple traditions, which seem to be suffering some continuity problems. Well, in the spirit of lowering my standards, I am starting a new tradition, and this one is easy, so if I can't do this one, I will officially be a failure, and you can banish me to Hainan forever. (Pretty please? Seriously, that used to be a not uncommon punishment, back in the good old days.)

And now for the show! In this activity, I draw a random question from the stack of conversation question cards that I use for my oral English classes, and then I answer it! Isn't that exciting!

So, the "yellow card" question for today is:
"If you could have any car you wanted, which car would you choose?"

Well, that one's a lame question. Especially here, since a car would be pretty pointless. (Where would I drive it? Where would I park it?) Oh, and apparently I'm not allowed to get a driver's license, since I'm color blind, and according to the legal code here, color blind drivers are unsafe, perhaps because (it is said) they can't tell the difference between the red and green lights. (1) I can tell the difference between red and green lights. I've never had a problem with it in the US. (2) People here don't pay much attention to the lights anyway.

Um, so where was I. Oh, if I could have any car... I would want a car that is clean enough that I wouldn't feel wasteful driving long distances, and small enough that parking wouldn't be too hard. The main reasons I might prefer a car over a moto is for long drives, or in bad weather. Although the convenience of being able to carry around more than a backpack amount of stuff would be nice too.

In view of these factors, I think I choose a Smart Car. Plus it's super cute, isn't it. I would like to show you the picture of Slowlane and Jeorge with one we saw in Berlin, but that photo is not digital, and is sitting in a box in San Diego. Please imagine it. Thanks.

Tune in next week for the next episode of The Yellow Card Question!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

My Movie Career Begins

Evil Soldiers from nebulous foreign country
A Pakastani, an American, a Palestinian, and an Irani, as Evil Soldiers from Nebulous Foreign Country

About two hours east of here is a city with several "film industrial parks", consisting of permanent film sets, with neighborhoods of replica buildings in various styles. There is a small but steady market for foreign extras, and there are a few agents who specialize in recruiting foreigners for these roles in made-for-TV movies and commercials.

This weekend I began my acting career by appearing in a TV movie, playing the role of an evil soldier from a nebulous foreign country. I appeared in three scenes, mostly seen carrying a rifle, chasing after one of the protagonists. We also kill someone off camera and steal some treasure. It seems the part was made directly from the stereotype of the greedy, dull-witted foreign devil.

For most of the day, I was just having fun hanging out with the other foreigners, and suffering in the cold. But towards the end as it began to sink in what sort of character I was supposed to be, and afterwards as I tried to imagine how someone watching the movie would see it, I feel like I have acted wrongly. And it's a given that I acted badly. My career can only go up from here, right?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Switching to New Blogger

So I suppose I am switching to the new Blogger system, which means all my fans that are subscribed to my feed should tell their subscription software to look in the new feed location.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Top 10 Reasons For Not Updating Your Blog

10. An earthquake has shut down the internet, and it's painfully slow to access the blog authoring page. (News saying the internet is back to normal is an evil lie. It is better than a weak ago, but still very slow.)
9. Most of the things you might like to post about involve showing photos, which, due to said internet freeze, cannot be uploaded.
8. End-of-semester crunch time.
7. You're still looking for a license plate that ends "000".
6. You're still working on compiling your New Year's resolutions.
5. You need to wash your hair.
4. As a white heterosexual male native-English-speaking college graduate of US citizenship and Protestant upbringing, you're feeling self-conscious about drowning out less privileged voices and contributing to cultural hegemony.
3. Now that Time Magazine has made you, as an internet content producer, the 2006 Person of the Year, you feel you can rest on your laurels and seek self-fulfillment in some other arena, kind of like Yasser Arafat did after he was made 1993 Person of the Year as a peacemaker.
2. You are feeling disillusioned about your blog-posting abilities, comparing your 100 posts in three years to your sister's 200 posts in one year.
1. You've decided there's no better way to annoy your sister (short of flying back to visit her and tapping her on the shoulder unceasingly.)