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I originally started this site as a travel blog but it has since taken on a life of its own and I write about whatever comes to mind. Politics, culture, my experiences around the world and in my own country. Feel free to follow me and leave comments!


Friday, June 17, 2011

New WordPress blog

I've moved over to WordPress. I've looked at this blog as sort of a practice run and now I'm making a real effort on the new site. Thanks to everyone who has stayed with me over the last year or so and kept stopping by to check my stuff out. Everything that hasn't been finished here will be carried over so the Modern Monsters and Mad Mad Mad World will keep going. If you're still down for hearing what I have to say then click here. Peace, I'm out!




Travel in China,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Looking for an English Teaching Job in China


If you’re looking for an English teaching job then you’re in luck because I have some tips you might find helpful. Let me start towards the beginning. I’m taking a 100 hour TEFL course and have been looking for English teaching jobs in Guangzhou. Lately I’ve been looking around on echinacities.com which seems like a pretty good website. They update their listings everyday and they usually have a variety of jobs available for foreigners.

Anyway, following some advice from an experienced English teacher, I looked up some foreigner-owned teacher placement companies to help me out. The first one I went to seemed okay. It’s called Reach to Teach. Let me tell you about these sons-of-bitches. First, I had to spend 5 hours writing a professional résumé and cover letter to send to them. They emailed me a week later and said that they couldn’t find me a job in China so they tried to hustle me into going to Georgia. Like, Former Soviet Republic Georgia. I told them I really had my heart set on China and that I was in the TEFL program. The lady took her sweet time getting back to me and made me this shit offer:

“1. A 5 day, Monday through Friday work week. This will consist of up to 25 teaching hours per week. Please note that most teachers generally average 18 hours a week, which leaves you plenty of time to explore Chine and other interests.
2. A monthly salary of between 3,000RMB and 5,000RMB (varies depending on location/ qualification)
3. Flight stipend
4. Your apartment is fully paid for (Note: You will of course have to pay for your electric bills, internet, etc!)
5. Free Chinese lessons.”

They tried to give me $460-770 a month. Even with a paid for apartment and airfare that is miniscule. I could make more than that working for minimum wage 3 days a week. I sent them another email asking for a better deal a week and a half ago. Haven’t heard back from them and don’t expect to. This is the conclusion I reached. Reach to Teach is a scam and should be avoided. Don’t even waste your time applying with them.

I applied at another place called Teach Abroad. Unless you live in the UK or some of the big cities in China, they’re useless. They don’t do phone interviews at all. So don’t waste your time on them either. It’s probably best to look for a job on your own and just make sure you check your contract and read the fine print. When they offer you a number that sounds good make sure you convert it into your own currency to see what it really looks like. If any of my readers have some advice for me I’d be glad to hear it.


Travel in China,

China's South China Sea Claims

China’s claims in the South China Sea are completely unfounded and every country in the world knows it. The only reason China is making such a big deal out of it is that it believes there’s hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil and natural gas in the area. According to international law, a country’s territorial waters extend only a few hundred miles off its shoreline. They call this an “exclusive economic zone”. Take a look at this map.

China is trying to claim everyone else’s territory and when they complain about it China says that they should “not start trouble.” China’s arrogance in this issue is astounding. Last year, Hillary Clinton gave China a big slap in the face, and rightly so, by saying that solving the territorial disputes in the region were in the US national interest. Not sure if I buy that but that certainly gave China pause, at least for a few months.

The CCP has made it a point to settle it’s disputes one on one. They claim the reason for this is to avoid outside pressure. But anyone with half a brain knows it’s to use their size and strength to intimidate the smaller countries that have competing claims. Today Vietnam staged a live-fire exercise in the South China Sea in retaliation to their spat with China over oil exploration earlier in the week. That’s the right approach. China needs to see that these other countries won’t just lie down and take it.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? Vietnam and China used to be BFFs but after a major war and several border skirmishes it looks like it’s all over. Now Vietnam is cozying up to the US as a counterweight to China’s growing ambitions. China dreams of being the ruler/leader of Asia but its heavy-handed tactics are driving more and more of Asia away. Pretty soon they won't have many friends left if they keep it up.


Travel in China,

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wow



OMG. Jen is hot. How did I manage that????? Things are going well with us. I talk to her on the phone at least 5 times a week and then we message a lot through weibo.com, email, and texting. Every time I call her she's so excited to talk to me, like she was waiting by the phone all day. It's good for my ego. ;) Last Friday we IMed with webcams and she got all dressed up for me. So it's all good.

Stay tuned for the next update in the Modern Monsters series. We'll be looking at Gavrilo Princip.


Travel in China,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

I've been listening to this group a lot lately. They have a very distinct style. Here's 2 of their more popular songs. The first is "Dead Flag Blues."


The car is on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows

The government is corrupt
And we're on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death

The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

It went like this:

The buildings tumbled in on themselves
Mothers clutching babies
Picked through the rubble
And pulled out their hair

The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze

I said, "Kiss me, you're beautiful -
These are truly the last days"

You grabbed my hand
And we fell into it
Like a daydream
Or a fever

We woke up one morning and fell a little further down
For sure it's the valley of death

I open up my wallet
And it's full of blood


Kind of chilling, huh? The next song is "East Hastings."

video

I've picked up a few albums and they're pretty rad. Give them a listen.


Travel in China,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

This Guy Again...


I thought this guy was done but he’s started showing up in the news again. I’m talking about Muqtada al-Sadr. If you haven’t heard of him then good for you. He’s a filthy snake and doesn’t deserve one second of airtime but he’s been on all the stations I watch lately. He’s a fiercely anti-American Shia “cleric” in Iraq who fights to overthrow the imperialist Westerners and their puppet government blah blah blah. Whatever. It’s my personal philosophy to disregard anyone trying to preach jihad when they can’t even take proper care of their own teeth. It’s clear to me his only goal is to prolong the chaos so that he might somehow rise to some form of political office. That’s usually the deal. These guys start trouble and fan the flames with claims that they’re fighting imperialists or infidels or another sect of Islam or something else. He’s been in the news for saying what he’s always been saying pretty much. Let me give you a little backstory on this guy.

Before the invasion in 2003, no one knew who this guy was. He was a nobody. Afterwords, by spewing his hateful rhetoric that was critical of everything not Shia Islam he managed to gather a militia together called the Mahdi Army. You may have heard of it. It ended up growing to nearly 10,000 guys. After the Coalition Government banned his newspaper for inciting violence he led an uprising which was resoundingly crushed. That’s putting it mildly. His militia was completely fucking annihilated. He ran like a little bitch to Iran to hide for a few years instead of dying in battle like he preached to his soldiers. And now he’s back stirring up trouble. Someone should arrange a little “accident” if you catch my drift.


Travel in China,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Personal Update

Hey guys. Sorry I haven't been able to update as usual lately. I just finished that college class and have been working on getting my TEFL certification. I'm doing it online and it's kind of hard to work up the motivation to do the assignments when you don't have a teacher telling you to do it. Anyway, I'm going on an epic journey to the northeast next month. Me and some friends will be hiking in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina for 2 days, then head to New York City to hang with KaiWen for 3 days and then down to Washington DC on the way home. I'm pretty excited about it! I'll try to update again with something interesting soon. Stay cool.


Travel in China,

Friday, June 3, 2011

Top 10 Dream Jobs

War Correspondent
These guys are total bosses. They bring the truth of wars and conflicts to light, something a news anchor sitting in a comfy studio can never hope to achieve. They live gritty and dirty, like the soldiers on the front line. It’s a very dangerous job but I believe that showing war how it really is, grotesque and dehumanizing, can enlighten people as to why they should not be waged.


Food Critic
I love food and I love cooking. I’ve been hooked on “Bizarre Foods”, “Man vs Food”, and the other food shows on TLC forever. How else will you get to go to awesome restaurants and eat awesome food for free?


Fighter Pilot
I’ll be like Maverick from “Topgun”. Only sexier.


Cryptozoologist
I’m really interested in all that stuff. Bigfoot, Jersey Devil, all those creatures will live in fear knowing that I’m out looking for them.


Paleontologist

Ever since I saw Jurassic Park when I was a kid I've been fascinated with dinosaurs. You get to go to all these cool places and dig up bones that are millions of years old. Sounds good if you’re the down and dirty type.


Novelist

I love writing, particularly creative writing. Every time I get an idea for a story I write it down in a special notebook so I don’t forget. One of those ideas just might make me a millionaire someday.


Photographer

Photography is another hobby of mine that would be nice to make money with. With my art background I know how to get good composition, lighting, and color effectively.


Actor

I can see it now. Me and Gong Li do a romantic comedy about a hot female CEO of a Chinese company and the young laowai who they hire for kicks. It’ll be hilarious!


Travel Show Host
I wouldn’t just go to the major tourist destinations like Italy or France. I’d go to Tonga or Sri Lanka. Places where no one goes. How many shows about Paris or Tokyo do I have to watch on TLC? I’m tired of it! My show will be like if Bear Grylls did 'Bizarre Foods.'



Tattoo Artist
I love tattoos. I have one that covers my upper left arm and I actually designed a few for some friends at college. It’s cool to be able to put your art on someone for life. Hopefully the tattooist is good though.


If only I could do all those things in one life time! What would you choose? Let me know in the comments.


Travel in China,

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bucket List #6 - Oceania

Here we go. The last installment in the Bucket List series. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath.

Sydney, Australia

I always did like Australia. Sydney has tons of things to see and do and is home to many different cultures. The largest groups being from the UK, China, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Brisbane, Australia

With lots of museums and cultural attractions like Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point, Brisbane has no shortage of activities to keep you busy. There’s even a red light district called Fortitude Valley if you’re into that kind of stuff.

Outback, Australia

I’d like to go on a walkabout (is that how you spell it?) I’ll tame a family of dingoes and choke out a croc or two.

New Zealand

NZ has native cultures like the Maori who I find very interesting but I’m all about the scenery. It looks so epic!

Vanuatu

Tropical paradise! Again, I find the island’s scenery and beaches to be very beautiful.

Papua New Guinea

Some parts of New Guinea are like snapshots from a dream vacation while others are swampy death traps loaded with alligators and venomous snakes. Good thing for me I’m the adventurous type.

Christmas Island

Home to rich biodiversity, Christmas Island is host to the infamous Coconut Crap. Don’t let one get a hold of you or it’s game over.

Fiji

I don’t think you could find a vacation spot further away from the world. Diving and coral reef tourism are the main attractions here.

Palau

Like Fiji, environmental tourism is the main money maker. There are several smaller islands to see or you can just chill on the beach or go snorkeling/diving.

Solomon Islands

A poor country in terms of wealth, however it is rich in wildlife and culture which earns it a spot on my list.

That’s it! I’m done! Thanks to all the cool people you stuck with me on this endeavor.


Travel in China,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Macau: City in the Mist

Jen, her mom and aunt, and myself had to wake up super early to get to the station on time to catch our bus that ended up being 2 hours late. The weather had suddenly gone from a pleasant 70 degrees (21 Celsius) to a biting 38 degrees (3 Celsius)! In the jungle! And it was rainy and windy. After a quick bus trip to Zhuhai, I guess that’s where we were, we had to switch buses in an underground tunnel and go to immigration. After that nightmare we took a shuttle to our casino hotel, The New Century Greek.

Let me tell you about the New Century. It’s probably the crappiest upscale hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Its theme was ancient Greece which I thought was awesome at first until I started noticing that some of the decorations were falling into disrepair. Our room was supposed to be ready at 2pm but we ended up having to wait until 4:30 and when I started getting shitty about it the customer service guy still didn’t have an acceptable explanation. So I played it cool. I walked into the bathroom, took care of my business, broke the toilet (It was an accident!), there was a huge mess. I didn’t tell anyone about it and joined Jen in the sitting area of the lobby. About 5 minutes later a bunch of hotel staff go running to the bathroom and soon come out holding their noses and cursing in Chinese. That’ll teach them to be late with a foreigner’s room! The gambling hall was also kind of lame. It was really small and didn’t have much variety in terms of games. I also noticed that most of the bouncers were Indians who spoke English. One of them even made Jen show her ID. Ha!

We went to a free lunch buffet at the New Century which would have been good if the Chinese chefs hadn’t tried to copy western food. The spaghetti was alright but it didn’t have that Italian taste to it. Coming from a partially Italian family, I know how to do spaghetti right and this wasn’t it. It was a funny sight though. The foreigner was eating all the Chinese food and the Chinese people were eating all the foreign food. After that we went to The Sands which was about 100 times cooler than New Century. We ended up ditching Jen’s mom and aunt, who were only staying for the day, and we went walking around outside. I’m not a huge gambler. Personally, I think it’s a waste of money. We walked into a bunch of the attractions, most were smaller hotels with different themes. One was a Roman town and another was a volcano with an arcade on the bottom floor. I’m a huge Gundam nerd and there was a shooting game for it that I absolutely destroyed. Jen was awestruck by my lightning fast reflexes!
After that we took a taxi to the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral which was spectacular. The cab dropped us off a few blocks away and we walked through the lighted market district. There were hundreds of people milling around, even a few couples taking wedding photos. Jen and I went up the stairs behind the cathedral’s façade and tossed coins in the windows for good luck. We went into the crypts downstairs and saw the holy relics and other artifacts. Really interesting stuff! I highly recommend it. Then we went back into the market and bought some kind of pressed meat. It came in different kinds like beef, pork, PIGLET, chicken, and some weirder stuff. Jen bought piglet. Ugh. It tasted good but I feel weird about eating a baby creature that didn’t even get a chance at life. Maybe I’m too soft-hearted when it comes to animals.



We walked from the cathedral to an old Portuguese fortress museum and then somehow ended up at the Venetian hotel for dinner. We found one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook on the grill in front of you. Jen ordered some chicken while I was adventurous and ordered prawn. It was a horrifying experience. When I think of prawn I think of little shrimp. These prawn were almost as long as my forearm. Practically a lobster. I freaked out when the cooks, who just so happened to be two young, attractive ladies, cut the heads off my prawn and they proceeded to giggle and called me a “cute laowai.” Jen didn’t really dig her food so I took her to the Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop. Oh my God. That was the most amazing ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. It’s like an art form! It was getting a little late so we headed back to the hotel and crashed for the night. Giggity. ;)



We bounced at noon and had to kill time until 7:30 when our bus would be leaving from Zhuhai. We checked out MGM, the Grand Emperor, A-Ma Temple, the Maritime Museum next to it, and the Statue of Guan-Yin. By the time we had to go we were both exhausted. I think I fell asleep on the shuttle to Zhuhai, hustled my way through immigration and then we got to wait in the cold for our bus which got held up because one of the passengers was late. But lucky me! There were 2 other white guys on the bus and everyone assumed that because we were white and each had our own Chinese girl that we were best friends. Bleh. And I’ve never seen so many beggars in one place before. There was an old lady who I guess was blind, or pretending to be, and there was a dude with one leg. I almost gave him some money but then I figured if the others saw me do that they’d swarm me. We got home late that night and slept super late. I even slept through the loud Chinese Chess games that happen outside the window all day.




What did I learn on my trip? Smog and fog combine to make a dreary vacation. The New Century Hotel is a piece of crap. Macau in general is awesome. Prostitutes use business cards there and throw them all over the place. Jen is the coolest girl in the world. That’s about it.


Travel in China,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tintorera: Killer Shark (1977)


Where do I even begin with this film? Italian films from this era usually aren’t very good by most people’s standards but this one is in a whole other league. I’ll admit, the first time I watched this movie I hated it for about a half an hour before it started to grow on me, even when it started to get really weird.

Here’s a rundown of the plot. The movie is set on an unnamed Cancun-ish Mexican island in the Caribbean and a rich guy named Steven comes and stays on a fancy party yacht. He takes up spear fishing and goes out with one of the locals to fish for sharks. He meets Gabriella, they have sex and hang out, he starts to get feelings for her so she leaves him and hooks up with the island’s playboy, Miguel. They have sex, she changes her mind and goes for a morning swim to clear her head when she gets horribly devoured by Tintorera, a large tiger shark. Later, Steven confronts Miguel about her whereabouts. Neither knows where she is and they end up becoming bros. They go to parties, pick up chicks and have crazy group sex on Steven’s boat. Aside from the occasional boobage there’s not really any graphic sex scenes.

Blah blah blah boring stuff. Steven and Miguel start a shark hunting business and eventually meet up with this chick named Patricia. They go to the yacht and have a threesome. They come to an agreement to share each other or something weird. Polyandry is what it’s called. Gross! I could never have someone’s sloppy seconds. Anyway, the next time they all go shark hunting Tintorera appears and eats Miguel. Steven is depressed and Patricia goes back home. Steven vows revenge and leads a hunt to kill all the sharks in the area but Tintorera eats some fishermen because he’s a big balla like that.

Steven goes to a beach party and picks up a bunch of people to go have wild “feel better” sex on his boat and they’re like, “Hey! I know there’s a man-eating shark around here but let’s swim to the boat anyway!” So guess who shows up? Tintorera! This is the scene that totally makes the movie worth sitting through. Tintorera, like a dark, avenging angel, comes to punish these young people for their promiscuous and impure ways. It’s a total bloodbath and I was enraptured but the gory special effects. I’m also really freaked out by the thought of being eaten alive so I couldn’t help but groan a few times as I saw hot women get torn apart. Steven goes to kill the shark himself and after getting his arm chomped off, manages to slay the shark. The movie ends with him in a hospital bed thinking about Miguel and Gabriella.

This movie uses real sharks and depicts actual spear fishing. Animals are actually killed on camera so that might turn off a lot of people. Keep in mind though; this movie is almost 35 years old. I thought the whole we’re gonna share a woman thing was kind of gross but that’s just me. After a while though I warmed up to the characters and I thought the whole “eternal tropical vacation” lifestyle the film tried to depict was cool and I really did feel bad for Steven during the montage at the end. The recurring theme in the film is that there is no happiness forever.



Now, as a fan of Italian cinema, I’m inclined to give Tintorera a C+ for being slow and having a retarded story. The main thing I didn’t like was that the film was maybe only 20% about the shark. I think I'm also going to have nightmares after seeing Steven butt naked and wearing only an apron. But on the other hand I’m inclined to give it a B- for effort, the shark effects, and the setting. You can see it for yourself on Netflix here. Do you agree with me? Disagree? Let me know!


Travel in China,

Monday, May 23, 2011

PLA Propaganda

I found this video I thought was rad enough that I would take the time to share with you guys. It's a mash up of a bunch of 70's propaganda films. I think it's mildly impressive. ;)


Not bad, huh? Who cares if they're just drill teams who drill all day and don't do anything else. And they teach Kung Fu to their people? That's cool but it doesn't really help when people are blasting each other from a mile away. But whatever. Job well done.


Travel in China,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The 10 Hottest Women on the Planet

In case you've been living under a rock for the last week or two, Maxim's new issue came out with a list of the 100 most beautiful women in the world. I disagreed with it vehemently so I thought I'd do a post to set the record straight.

10. Gemma Arterton- British, 25



9. Emmy Rossum- American, 24



8. Jessica Biel- American, 29



7. Gong Li- Chinese, 45



6. Maggie Q- American, 31



5. Stacey Dash- American, 45



4. Yuri Kwon- South Korean, 21



3. Nicole Scherzinger- American, 32



2. Salma Hayek- Mexican, 44



1. Lijuan Chen (Jen)- Chinese, 23


Of course Jen was going to be number one! ;-) It was tough to narrow it down to just 10 ladies but I was willing to endure the pain. Who do you think should have made the list? Holla back at me!


Travel in China,