Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Three Dogyears in Cyberyears

http://www.funstore.cz/products/robot/idog/v.jpgThe weather here, after a spectacular autumn weekend, has continued to remain warm. It has been getting colder, although it looks like we're going to have a little stretch of relatively comfortable weather before heading into winter. But enough about the weather.

Three years heavily into myself in the blogsphere with pictures and lots of other e-gadgetry to while a few of your precious minutes away. I've developed a nice rhythm now, although it doesn't get any easier to update as far as finding time to do it goes. The usual fight for time and necessity among all things. Visits continue to increase, and most of my promises have come to fruition. I don't know what else I can promise you except to say that, there are more surprises in store. I'm not going anywhere soon and you know where to find me now. As always, send me your ideas, love and lusts.

Married now, more grey hairs, a baby on the make, plugging away on the poemachine... plug, plug, plug... My red red year of the dog which has been positive in more ways than I care to list. Suffice to say that the blog herewith serves as a gentle and completely at-your-leisure record of those events.

Now for some hard facts. Posting has improved from an average of eight posts per month to ten over the past twelve months. Last year, on my blog's birthday, it had received a little more than 2,000 total hits, but this year's hits have logged almost 5,000! Dating back to January 2004, total hits now quite close to 7,500, and I expect the blog to reach 10,000 sometime in early 2007. It's also been averaging about 445 visitors per month or, roughly 14 per day. The blog's best month was in May when it nabbed 688 hits, and its least active month was in February with 224. What does all this mean? Nothing, I guess, except that, perhaps, the blog is much more popular than it was last year.

Plans for the future? Continue doing what I'm doing. Continue the long poem here which is my life, and continue to try to bring you along with me.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Beijing TrafficOne of the most frustrating places on the planet is rush hour traffic in Beijing. It seems to have grown noticeably worse since I arrived a little more than two years ago. There is traffic at nearly all hours of the day. Even though there have been ongoing construction projects to develop what is currently a runtish mass transit system for such a massive city, projects which further hinder and redirect traffic, nothing seems to have improved much yet.

The incessant pedestrian press forming an anti-line in negative subway subterfuge crowding the ticket windows and opening doors, jockeying seat-whores and the rude elderly tramplers of dog-eat-dog bastard breeders. People jabbing and jabbering away on phones. People with their plastic bags and fast food. People spitting and retching up phlegm. People pedaling rusted or dust-covered bikes with bent baskets, steering or sitting upon black smoke-emitting three-wheeled carts, leaning and smoking cigarettes out the open doors of trucks, spluttering hogs and motorcycles, sneaking slipshod life-into-their-own-hands mopeds in-between lanes, cramming congested buses. People on each other in an unasked for, fully-clothed mass transit orgy of sweat and inconsideration. I rarely suffer it, luckily, and do my best to avoid it but, on Friday evening, racing to rehearsal after work, I found myself thrust among the crush and tussle to simple move through this city.

Everywhere people vying for position, honking ringing beeping nudging their bodies and vehicles, everyone sucking in the hot carbon monoxide air rising up in the almost invisible waves off the warm streets and transport of nevermore motorcade just to get from here to there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chinese e-Painting TheftIcy cold this evening. I wore a knit hat out this morning, my first donning of the season. The afternoon wasn't too bad, but my hands were cold walking home after work, so I think I'll have to break out the gloves soon.

Direct access to Blogspot domains, at least in the last 24 hours, is not possible once again. Frustrating. How long will it last? Who really knows how this Jekyll and Hyde access operates. I suspect all the kinks will be worked out of the blog censorship program by the time the Olympics strike Beijing in 2008 as there will probably be quite a few athletes and such who will raise their hackles if they can't blog. Even though we can't view the results directly, we can still set our words in pixels and, if they block that, there's always moblogging via the cell phone. You think they can block that?

Over the past six weeks or so, during which time Chinese residents have been able to reach Blogspot domains, my hits from China increased dramatically. I'm living and entertaining people who live here so it seems natural. Before that, I really didn't tell anyone in China about my blog. No one could visit the blog. The average computer user doesn't seem to know anything about proxy servers. It's not such a difficult concept, but it's indirect, which makes it less appealing for the insta-gratificants in our e-culture. We plod on, though, and it only gets easier.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Webcam Dynamic DuoYesterday, during a very smooth webchat with my parents, my father, as if I had issued a press release, said something like: "You're only posting twice a week now," which was akin to daring me to blog. I was a little offended, at first, but then I came to my senses. It was either too early in the morning for him or he had simply already forgotten about my other recent posts. Technically, last week, I only posted twice, but I'm all about the average. I believe I'm averaging three posts per week this month, and that's about as fast-paced as I can keep it. Any more than that and Angela would probably destroy the computer. This is the way it's going, though. People just want more of me. I'm glad it's my parents, too. The rest of you will just have to wait or, actually, voice your displeasure or well-informed reflection by leaving a comment of your choosing in the usual location.

The ultrasound picture I posted a few posts back received lots of comments. One of the most successful pictures here on cyber-me. It's not a picture of me, so that, perhaps, has something to do with it. More to come, though, as we have another visit to the ultrasound machine planned for this weekend and we're hoping to know which variety springeth...

Today, curiously, someone else mentioned seeing the picture. She followed up this by saying something like: "Oh. You're one of those people," and we chuckled together, although I wasn't quite sure about the implications of that remark. I must be one of those people, I guess, I mean, why not? Who are those people, though? Proud-dads-to-be? Bloggers-who-show-their-wives'-ultrasound-photos? Is it too... what... bloggy?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Neighborhood - AcronymicAfter a rainy and grey day yesterday, blue sky and brightness facing me outside in clear clean Beijing while I sip coffee wait for Angela to rise from a deeper sleep. Susan, a Korean girl who I've been tutoring for the past two years, will be here in about an hour, too. Rehearsed with the Subterraneans yesterday afternoon, and we will do the same today in preparation for an upcoming show on the 28th of October at D-22.

Other than than, not much out of the ordinary this weekend. Thought I would post a few snaps from the neighborhood. Here's a picture of an exceptional acronym that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, from the side of a karaoke/restaurant/other business near our apartment. Probably the most elaborate building in the neighborhood showcasing neon trees and flashing signs.

My Neighborhood - Wedding ArchDownstairs, there's a wedding going on this weekend, as well. Ever since National Week at the beginning of this month, there has been a wedding or two in the neighborhood each weekend and even, unusually, a few during the week. The wedding party going on now is one of the most lavish affairs I've seen outside the apartment building, where they have erected the large green tents pictured here. The tents are always this same militaristic make, and are erected for either weddings or funerals. I've never seen the lanterns before, though, which is a nice touch and they look great at night.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Countdown #16


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Here's the latest episode of The Countdown, featuring William Carlos Williams. See what we put together for your audio weather. I failed to mention that I sniped some of my WCW blurb from bios by Linda Wagner-Martin and M. L. Rosenthal. Is it our best show yet? Since I put it that way, have you listened to the previous shows? Don't be shy. Even if you haven't heard the other shows, let me know what you think...

I look at quite a few blogs these days. Partly for the The Countdown and partly to know the enemy, although it's really much friendlier than that. I just want to say that blogs which are all text are just boring. I don't care if you're the next best thing to sliced bread. I like pictures, especially pictures which seem completely unrelated. Why not? This is a medium in which it's easy to add such content. More of you sloggy bloggers should think about this...

I tend not to observe the rules of grammar in e-mail. I try to make sure the spelling is up to snuff, but I generally rely on elipses as my standard punctuation. I like the implied continuation, the hang, and, possibly, the Herb Caen-ness of it. I also remember reading the Three Dot Lounge in the Green Sheet when I was a kid. If it wasn't for the question mark, the elipsis would be my favorite punctuation mark. Anyway, certain people seem to discount remarks if they're not grammatically correct according to rules of standard English and, well, then they're just missing out...

On the other hand, I pay particularly close attention to the grammar in my text messages, composing messages with all the necessary commas, aposptrophes and periods. I'm not sure why. Although I love all of that abbreviated language and suggestion in text messages, I'm simply not a practitioner. Actually, I steal that stuff and add it to my poetry...

If you've ever left a comment on a blog, you know you're often required to enter not only your name and password, but also another random string of letters. They're always distorted in a kind of psychadelic way to, I suppose, foil the i-spiders. If you've left many comments on blogs, you know what I'm talking about. Anyhow, this procedure just strikes me as kind of weird...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A perfect do-nothing day. A cold, rainy-day-looking day here in Beijing greyout. The sky is darker than the usual whiteout, like it's going to rain, but I know it's not going to rain. It doesn't feel like rain. We slept late this morning, which is pretty rare for me even on weekends, and time seems to be standing still. After watching a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica, we look at the clock and can't believe it's already 3:30PM, but that's only because the conditions outside are so indistinct.

Angela's UltrasoundAngela went to the doctor yesterday, which is something that will be happening more and more often, I imagine. As a result, I can present you, now, with the first picture of our baby! It's a picture of a picture, which is why the words and other things are reversed and not so clear, but you get the idea. It's too soon to determine the gender, but we're not particular. Angela said that being pregnant didn't really hit her until yesterday when she was looking at the ultrasound. She's a little slow to accept change. And, if you didn't know that a baby was happening to us, now you know. We're nervous and excited about having a baby in China, but it should be a unique experience for us and for our families. Wish us luck!

Richard ToddBefore hitting the bowling alley for a raucus night of pin-action with the coworkers, including meeting the new teacher, Lauren, who arrived only hours earlier, we went to an exhibition at the Beijing City International School (BCIS). It was not easy to find, especially with an uncooperative taxi driver, but we finally found the right place. I thought my school had an impressive campus, but BCIS was exceptional sporting modern architecture, a hilltop playground and a sparkling weight-room of which any gym would be proud.

The exhibition featured photos by Richard Todd and two installations by Annie Conn. I also performed briefly with a few Subterraneans (which you should be able to read about soon in the regular location) as part of the opening of the show. Although the turnout was small—actually, I had arrived quite late, having to trek across town in Friday evening traffic—and even though most of the attendees had left already, we still jumped out and entertained the few stragglers. The highlight of the evening for me was meeting Richard and talking about possibly planning future multi-cultural activites with the Subterraneans.

Now, I should be working on the next The Countdown rather than blogging, but all work and no play make a dull Bobby. A new show is in the works, though, and it should be the best one yet so keep your eyes peeled. You know it'll be here for your ears when it's ready.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lightning-round post.

I'm blogging and I should be getting ready for work.

I don't update as frequently as I could. I spend too much time mulling my posts and then only half of them see the light of day.

Mr. Bill Allegrezza predicts the death of blogs. His own is far from dead, but there is some homogeneity in what's left of the mania.

Did you read a poem today? Subterranean Poets exists for your listening pleasure should you find it difficult to read something the old-fashioned way.

Enjoying a day off in front of the computer.The temperature continues to dip in the three-dot blip, commonly referred to as BJ by the foreigners.

I take too many pictures of myself.

My fantasy football team won it's fifth game of the season and looks strong heading into week six.

Topped 7000 clickers here yesterday. Nowhere to go but up. So concerned with site statistics recently as the blog is nearing its birthday. More on that at the end of the month...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rainy, wet and cool this morning. Back to work today, Sunday. Yes, Sunday. In China, we always have to give some of our vacation time back after a holiday. It's not quite as bad as it sounds. The students are taking a field trip on Wednesday, which means a nice mid-week day off, so I suppose I can't really complain. Still, the prospect of an extended week for whatever reason is not cherished. Anyhow, nothing too exciting happening in these parts.

I once thought that updating my blog regularly would equate to retaining a steady readership but, pouring over site statistics, I've come to learn that's just not true. I notice a slight increase, two or three hits from the target location, after sending out my poems to a particular magazine, which is nice. I suppose it means that some of the editors out there are doing, at least cursorily, as much research as I am. Responding to newsgroup messages on listservers, however, seems to have the best results as, after posting a message with my cleverly embedded website address, there're usually a flurry of hits. That makes sense, too, as, if I'm part of a newsgroup, those people would obviously share some interest, if only tangentially, in what I'm doing.

There are more important things to worry about, though. My fantasy football team is going for its fifth straight victory this week. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Seems like the greyest day in quite a while. The fine weather couldn't hold out and I could say it was chilly this morning when I got out of bed. Happily, I have no plans beyond eating the steaks thawing in the refrigerator for lunch with Angela.

Enjoying this holiday week away from school, although I've been running around in the evenings too much which is making the respite seem far removed from restful. Trying to prepare for some upcoming performances and get some writing done. So many distractions...

HOTBToday is the Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival. I suspect we'll try to get out for some moon-viewing tonight. Is there a better activity for a poet? During this time, moon cakes go around. All fo the teachers at my school received a box and one of my private students gave me another box. Unfortunately, moon cakes are not as delightful as the name may suggest. Usually packaged in elaborate boxes and individually wrapped, they look inviting at first glance. They are filled with bean or lotus seed paste, something like a dried egg or meat. I'm sure there are many other fillings, but they're all quite heavy. It wouldn't be fair to say I dislike them entirely, but it's certainly a unique food product.

Moon Festival RobeAnyway, as it's moon day, it's seemed appropriate to add something like this, a translation of a Chinese poem which I dredged up from the bowels of cyberspace:

Will a moon so bright ever rise again?
Drink a cupful of wine and ask of the sky.
I don't know where the palace gate of heaven is,
Or even the year in which tonight slips by.
I want to return riding the whirl-wind! But I
Feel afraid that this heaven of jasper and jade
Lets in the cold, its palaces rear so high.
I shall get up and dance with my own shadow.
From life endured among men how far a cry!

Round the red pavilion
Slanting through the lattices
Onto every wakeful eye,
Moon, why should you bear a grudge, O why
Insist in time of separation so to fill the sky?
Men know joy and sorow, parting and reunion;
The moon lacks lustre, brightly shines; is all, is less.
Perfection was never easily come by.
Though miles apart, could men but live for ever
Dreaming they shared this moonlight endlessly!
- Su Shi, translated by A. Ayling & D. Mackintosh

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wanted: BLOGS for The Countdown

If you're posting your own poetry (loose definition) on your blog and you're interested in possibly having something featured in a podcast on MiPoRadio for The Countdown, formerly known as The Goodnight Show, let me know and I'll add you to the mix of blogs I scan. I'm doing my best to cover a range of voices and styles so if you're interested, send me a message or post a comment here. If you're hesitant or need more information, don't be shy! Go check out some of MiPoRadio's other fine shows.

In the meanwhile, I may find you by myself. I'll be doing my own poking around the blognet and if I come across something that looks good, I'll shoot you an e-mail. BANG! BANG!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

HOTBWe went to see Hang on the Box (HOTB) last night, a Beijing band I've been dying to see for the past year or so. They play quite often, but I haven't been able to find the time to see them. I was excited to finally get my chance. I also came across their MySpace spot, which appeared to be a little more up-to-date than their website and also had a handful of tracks to sample.

The last of three Chinese bands playing at D-22, a small smokey dive in Wudaoko, HOTB didn't take the stage until a few minutes after midnight. Angela and me met Seth, Marianna and Mike in the crowded bar which was showing an old Charlie Chaplin movie on a screen above the stage before the show began. Car-Sick Cars started the show, a relatively flat band with no strange presence but good songs. They were followed by Queen Sea Big Shark, which had nice catchy songs and an energetic lead singer. Eventually, HOTB took the stage. There were some remarks in both English and Chinese. Then the drummer came on stage with a silver ribbon wrapped around her shoulders and a brief ceremony was held to cut the ribbon before the band started their set. If I had to categorize their music, I would call it a kind of experimental rock featuring lots of effects pedals and unusual instruments. They also performed quite a few non-traditional musical arrangements, like songs with only vocals accompanied by bass guitar. I went home feeling more than well entertained. Check them out, although their recordings don't quite to them justice.