Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng

Life and Death in Shanghai is an amazing book about an amazing woman. The tone in which she tells her own story is deadpan, but the events are extremely dramatic. If you’ve never read about the Cultural Revolution, it’s eye-opening.

Some of my memories of the book are:

  • how Nien Cheng’s private home was turned into living quarters for several families, and regular household routines were disrupted by food rationing;
  • how when destructive Red Guards came knocking, Nien Cheng tried to preserve, and in only some cases succeeded in preserving, some antiques she had in her house, by relinquishing them to be stored in government museums;
  • and how after she was arrested, she had to live in a freezing concrete cell, where her food was insufficient and her clothing was insufficiently warm, yet she maintained exquisite poise and self-assurance.

A few passages from the book are reproduced below.

Continue reading Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng

Please be understood.

at The Central
at The Central

I spotted this hilarious Engrish sign at Book Mart at The Central. It is (I assume) not a joke but rather the best translation they could manage.

Thank you for usually favoring it more. This time I will perform store remodeling construction in the following schedule. I am so sorry, but a store is closed until November 3. I really trouble it, but it, please be understood.

I think it means:

Dear customers, thank you for your continued support. The shop will be closed for remodeling until November 3. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

If you are looking for a better translation for “please be understood,” consider:

Thank you for understanding.
Thank you for your understanding.
Thank you for your kind understanding.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

I am reminded vaguely of:

  • Blade Runner, because the cyborg was contemplating its identity.
  • Firefly, because it was set in Hong Kong in the future, where there was both English and Chinese.
  • X-Men, because it had a theme of mutation and change as necessary for progress.
  • Childhood’s End, because evolution made a huge leap to something transcendental.
  • RahXephon, because it had weird music.
  • The Matrix, because of the green numbers and the neck plugs.

IMO, the exposition was too heavy-handed for the whole thing to come off as subtle and beautiful and deep.

I didn’t like the American voice actors’ performance, which seemed flat or dull, perfunctory. Also, the English subtitles were completely different from the English spoken track.

The source material is Japanese, but the setting really is Hong Kong… In one scene there’s even a jet coming in for a landing at Kai Tak Airport right over the city.

The special features on the disc showcased the beginning of the use of CGI and digital editing; the movie was a combination of hand-drawn and computer techniques.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/ghost-in-the-shell-25th-anniversary-edition/id1219320615

Sakura Cuisine Halal Thai Chinese Restaurant

This place is on the the top floor of Far East Plaza right across from our favorite Japanese restaurant, Nanbantei.

The name makes me laugh because it sends so many signals at once.

  • sakura – Japanese
  • cuisine – French
  • halal – Muslim
  • Thai – Southeast Asian
  • Chinese – East Asian

I half expect to see them put up a sign that says, “We also serve roti prata, tacos, hamburgers and pizza!”

Cronos truck

cronos-truck
at the bus stop on Clementi Road in front of the Japanese school opposite the Architecture school

I do not know why a shipping container has all that equipment built into it, but it looks clever. I love the Cronos logo. I love the logo and the Chinese characters on the cab. It’s also hilarious that this truck looks a little like it’s being driven by nobody, assuming you expect the driver to be on the left side.

I see big trucks on Clementi Road a lot and I wonder whether, when Singapore finishes moving the port from Tanjong Pagar to Tuas (in 2027), whether there will be noticeably fewer of them driving containers across the city.

Singapore used to be the busiest container port in the world, but it’s been eclipsed by Shanghai. D’oh!

Oh, by the way, I love shipping containers because I read this book, which you can read more about (or even buy) on Amazon if you’re interested.

the-box

Fruit that looks like other objects

We bought this collection of objects (tray and wooden fruit) on our trip to Bali and Lombok, Indonesia.

It occurred to me that each fruit looks like some other object.

The one on the left, which would look like a star in cross-section, is a starfruit. It’s the most familiar of this batch to a North American.

The one that looks like a grenade is a durian. Those are famous for being stinky and prickly.

The scaly fig is a snake fruit (aka Salak). I ate one off a tree while hiking through the woods. It was sticky.

The one at the top is, I think, a rose apple (water apple), and looks like a nose in cross section. This one, however, looks very pear-like and has what look like leaves or a flower at the bottom, which is not typical in my experience. It might also be a pomegranate (delima); that would explain the structure at the bottom but not the pear shape.

The one that looks like a soccer ball is… actually I don’t know. Maybe a sugar apple (custard apple, srikaya)?

We figure we probably overpaid because the guy running the shop gave us the pear-looking-thing for free. I think he also wrote a lower selling price on the receipt and pocketed the difference.

Nevertheless, we love these strange wooden objects. They’re well made, and the detail on the snake fruit, in particular, is amazing.