We’ve just got word that in response to citizen protests in the outlying provinces of China, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games have been cancelled. The protesters said the money should be spent on improving the lot of China’s people, and the government did an about face, essentially saying, “You know – you’re right.”
Just kidding. That’s about as likely as a Chinese New Year without fireworks.
And speaking of fireworks, today is Yuanxiaojie, or Lantern Festival, which marks the end of the Spring Festival that started with the Lunar New Year two weeks ago. The Lantern Festival falls on the first full moon of the new year, and is yet another occasion for lunatic pyromaniacal excess. With the added bonus of a golden orange full moon up above. I’d post more pictures, but I’m sure everyone is tired of them by now.
It is traditional on this day to eat a particular kind of dumpling called yuanxiao, but I went to the store a bit ago and they were all out. That’s what I get for staying at the office until almost seven. I’ll have to make do with something less traditional.
In actual Olympic news, they revealed a few weeks ago what the staff uniforms will look like.
The red ones are for staff, presumably ticketing staff included. I’m not sure why they bothered designing long sleeve versions, given the average temperature in August here. I presume these are what we’ll get, but nobody tells me anything. See also here.
And just as an aside, it seems the uniforms were presented as part of the “200 Days to Go” event. As you can see, it was quite a production.
I figure if they do something like this for every little arbitrary milestone, they’re bound to come up with something really spectacular (in the truest sense of the word) for the Opening Ceremonies, with or without prissy American consultants (if you take my meaning).
And here’s something I’ve been wanting to see for quite a while. It was inevitable, given how pervasive the mascots are. Fuwa parodies!
I came across these on a web site quite by accident. (None of the artists are credited.) There were a bunch more that I couldn’t recognize – probably Chinese celebrities. Now all we need is the Revolutionary Fuwa with Chinese Characteristics, featuring Mao, Deng, Hu, and whatever other two most fit the bill, which might be difficult because two of the mascots are supposed to be female. But that needn’t hold back a true artist. Other suggestions: Disney Fuwa, Beatle Fuwa, Looney Tunes Fuwa, Anne Geddes Baby Fuwa, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (+1) Fuwa, Aardman (Wallace and Gromit) Fuwa, Muppet Fuwa, Hello Kitty Fuwa, Harry Potter Fuwa, Hentai Fuwa – the possibilities are endless. And let’s not forget the Famous Artists Series: Fuwa done in the style of Rembrandt, da Vinci, Bosch, Monet, Picasso, Warhol, Audubon, Pollack, Mapplethorpe... Come on, you Photoshop experts, get busy! (On further thought, forget I mentioned Hentai Fuwa.)
Maybe that last picture can’t really be called a parody, and is just one of the entries from an art contest for primary school kids.
You probably can’t tell from reading, but I just paused to watch a particularly cool bunch of fireworks going off across the street. A sparkling fairy-dust trail shot up into the sky in a tight spiral to a height of 12 stories or so, then exploded into a midair pinwheel throwing off sparks in a rapid circle. There was a whole series of them, maybe a dozen from the whole box. Cool.
And now for today’s Mandarin lesson. I was telling some of my Chinese coworkers about the huge crowd of people at Ditan Park on New Year’s Day, and I asked how you say crowded in Chinese. The answer is ren duo, which means literally people many. You say ren tai duo for too crowded (people too many).
Later on, one of them taught me another way to say it: ren shan ren hai. Word for word, this means people mountain people sea. I’m not sure exactly how such an expression might have developed, as it’s pretty telegraphic, like many Chinese expressions. There are some obvious (and probably wrong) possibilities: people from mountain to sea; or just the fact that both mountains and the sea are big; or maybe something like we use in English – a mountain of people, a sea of people.
In other, completely unrelated, news, today I booked a flight to Shanghai next week to see Björk. I’ve been a big fan for many years but never seen her live, so it seems like a chance I shouldn’t pass up. Once again I find myself revisiting a place I’ve been before rather than going somewhere new, but Shanghai gets the concerts, not Chengdu. It will be a quick trip; fly there the morning of the show, stay one night, back the next day. It’s awkwardly scheduled on a Sunday night, but mei banfa (nothing can be done).
It mostly seems like this “Spring” Festival is a bit premature. Consider the ice chair pictures a couple of posts back. But this week it’s warmed up to the point where I put the long underwear in the drawer instead of wearing them as drawers (sorry). Maybe spring is coming after all.