Lots of stamps on a box. Like, really a lot.

Like, um… 54.

Wait, no, sorry—forgot to count the ones on the front.

more-stamps

…79 total.

Actually, that’s not all, either, because there’s a $5.35 sticker from the bar code machine, which could have been used for the whole amount, no? I mean, you know, I’m just saying.

I guess my in-laws really wanted to use up some stamps that were lying around. Cracks me up! This kind of thing probably also cracks up the postal workers. Possibly not in the same way.

The grass is always greener…

It baffles me how in the same world there can be tanning salons and spray-on tan AND people who carry umbrellas for sunshine and buy lotion to look whiter. Like this lotion, for example, from a brand you may have heard of.

healthy-white-lotion
“Healthy Whitening Solution: Bright is not belong to the sun only…, if you have the key [sic]”
This product is, naturally, not available via the Vaseline website for the US. No, you have to look on the Vaseline site that sells to Indonesia.

Chandni Chowk to China (2009)

For me, buying this movie was a bit like buying a German-Spanish dictionary, in that it made me a consumer of the product of two cultures, neither of them mine.

Lest you think that’s just an analogy, I hereby present my German-Spanish dictionary.

Chandni Chowk to China is a Hindi musical martial arts comedy.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

The main character is a superstitious Indian guy named Sidhu who works as a lowly vegetable cutter in a place called Chandni Chowk in Delhi. He has a lot of self-pity but not a lot of motivation to improve his station in life. (One day while cutting potatoes, he finds one that looks like the elephant-headed god Ganesha, and uses the coincidence as an excuse to neglect his duties, which earns him a kick in the pants from his foster father.)

His life changes when two Chinese guys somehow decide he’s a Chinese hero reincarnated and a Chinese fortune-teller friend convinces him to go to China. It’s wacky but kinda fun.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/chandni-chowk-to-china-2008/id312058686

See below for more about the movie, including SPOILERS.

Continue reading Chandni Chowk to China (2009)

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!”