On Thursday evening, fourteen of us from the office went bowling at Gongti 100. The 100 in the name refers to the number of lanes at the bowling alley. I didn't take my camera – I'll have to go back sometime and snap a few shots. It's really huge.
This is a picture I stole off someone else's website (I promise to replace it with my own as soon as I can). We got lanes 25-27, split into three teams. My team was the one with only four people, so we took turns bowling the fifth line. In the first game we came in second place by a small margin, but in the second game we really took off and topped the second-place team by forty points or so. I only managed a 111, nowhere near my personal best, and my wrist was feeling pretty sore by the time we finished. One thing that was remarkably consistent about my performance was that every time I got a strike or spare, I did really terrible the next frame. Consistent in my inconsistency. Anyway, everyone seemed to have a pretty good time. I don't know if this kind of outing for "team-building" is done much here. I enjoyed the chance to spend some time with the Chinese half of our office. Sometimes I feel like there's an invisible wall across the middle of the office, with the Americans over on one side and the Chinese on the other. That's one kind of wall I hope falls over time (and I'm sure the eventual improvement of our language skills will help). As we were leaving, I asked one of the women if this had been more fun than staying home watching TV. She said no. I had noticed that she seemed to be enjoying herself earlier, so either she misunderstood my question or she really enjoys TV.
When I turned on the TV this morning (something I really don't do very often), there was car racing on ESPN and Larry King on CNN, so I started flipping channels and ended up on BTV-8, which is a music channel. They were doing a show on Korean music, and the hostess was speaking in English. I caught part of a video by a singer called Bada that was pretty good, more rock than is usual for K-Pop. In the "Up and Coming" segment, they showed a clip for Kim Ah-joong’s version of the Blondie song "Maria". It's from a movie that she stars in called 200 Pound Beauty, and from what I could gather in the video, the plot concerns an overweight girl who is a clumsy misfit. There are of scenes of her embarrassing herself by trying to wear trendy clothes and being dorky in front of cute guys. Then she goes to a hospital and has some sort of operation, and when she comes out, she's thin and beautiful. Now guys trip over their feet when she walks by. Somehow she becomes a pop star and there are scenes of her onstage with lights and pyrotechnics. Musically, it's pretty close to the original version, though much of it is translated into Korean. It looks like you can watch it on YouTube. (Internet's being really slow here today, so I can't get it to load myself – someone let me know if it's really there.) If an American movie had the same plot, I suspect it would be boycotted for its treatment of overweight people, much as Shallow Hal was a few years ago. I don't know if that makes Americans superior in sensitivity, or just reflects cultural differences. Or maybe sometimes you just have to find humor in something without examining it too closely for political correctness.
Watching TV here can be annoyingly similar to in the US in one respect: certain commercials get repeated way too frequently. On CNN, one of the biggest advertisers is Malaysia Airlines, and I must admit one of their ads amuses me. Their catch-phrase is "Wish you had more time? Book online with Malaysia Airlines." Nothing special, huh? No prizes to the one who came up with that line. But some of the images they put with it are good. My favorite shows a man in a business suit hurrying into an office, glancing at his watch and looking harried. He passes a table that has a coffee maker, a bin labeled COFFEE and a bin labeled SUGAR. The coffee pot holds only water. He looks at the pot longingly, checks his watch again, shakes his head, and starts to walk away. Then he turns back, puts a scoop of coffee grounds into his mouth, adds a scoop of sugar and a glass of water, swishes it around in his mouth, and goes upon his way. Then the slogan comes up on the screen.
And I just have to add that no matter how much cricket gets covered here on ESPN, the game is still completely opaque to me, less understandable than quidditch. No wonder it didn't catch on outside of the British empire.