A surreal visit to a Chinese coffee shop, made less believable by a brochure gained...“Experience Mocha!” it commands, and obeisance is mine, weak-willed and supine in the face of advertorial imperative, a surrendered slave to caffeine’s seductive call, writ large as headline on front-of-counter brochure. So experience I do, like there was ever a possibility that I would not, tourist hardly accidental in a franchised coffee shop, Qingdao, China, where an extra-large mocha is served with time and care disproportionate to the value purchased, by staff in Santa hats, seasonal cheer worn yet fitting not here in the decidedly secular People’s Republic. I have lost my will and gained much blood sugar, but have a semblance of increasingly agitated wits still; my attention hyperactive turns in circles to the written instigator of my downfall—counter-side brochure with hypnotic headline I am still chanting inside: “Experience Mocha... experience mocha...” * * * Written in English but thought in Chinese, the brochure is so absurd as to, koan-like, transcend absurdity and become good again, almost as though you had dug a hole so deep it was no longer a hole, but rather a tunnel to... China. Although unintentionally good, because to write like this on purpose—with irony and innocent sincerity mixed frothier than steamed milk—really would be an act of genius, and genius is difficult to ascertain when it's lustre may just as well be malapropism from the original Chinese. Whether intentional or otherwise, to me at least the brochure had an innocent sincerity, a quality now rare here in the West. Can you even imagine a major franchise, or pretty much anything or anyone else for that matter, writing a first person account of a man surreptitiously eavesdropping on a coffee shop conversation that wouldn't contain a hint of innuendo or allusion? To me this is more refreshing than even a “cup of sweet melancholy and expectations.” Like the brochure said: No full-stop in SPR coffee...
Like most people to and from work everyday. I want neither to stay in the office nor go home at times Then I always walk over to a coffee house named SPR, pretending I'm a drifting cloud. The coffee house sits at the crossroad. The bar area is just in front of the left-side wall. Tables and chairs are arranged along the windows facing the street. It can only accommodate 30 guests. It is not big yet elegantly furnished. The nostalgic tiles, western styled wail paintings, glass windows and curtains with U shaped small brown flower patterns contribute to its elegance. After coffee snack, it is quiet again and I always come at this time. Then, the barista, perhaps a young couple, would readjust the jazz music to much lower volume. I would order a cup of Mocha, take out my paper and start writing a short essay. I'm about to pick up my pen when my attention is distracted by the talk of the two girls. Fashionable, modern and young, they look like college students. They talk in a low voice, but I can still hear them and I can sense the anxiety, loneliness and expectations behind their laughter and talk the sweet melancholy of the young. On a winter afternoon, a man snatching a little leisure is sipping the cup of sweet melancholy and expectations... Mocha.....Mocha.....Mocha.....Mocha.....
Coffee drenched links
engrish.com: Engrish can be simply defined as the humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design." It can be found in other places also (like China), but engrish.com insist that the Japanese variety is usually superior
Hanzi Smatter: dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in western culture
[kml_flashembed movie="http://widgets.nbc.com/o/4727a250e66f9723/47a81ada79dd6ba1" width="384" height="316" wmode="transparent I normally try to be inspiring on this site. I write about topics like ‘meditation,’ ‘meditation and me,’ and sometimes ‘meditation and the rest of the world.’ I guess I like meditation—I've been doing it for near fifteen years now—and I assume that it likes me. But as a chap named Monty Python once said, now for something completely different. Perhaps the following video clip is not implicitly inspiring. But it is explicitly funny. Though neither sophisticated nor sarcastic, I was laughing out loud as late night American television hosts Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Conan O’Brien staged a mock fight on the set of Late Night with Conan O’Brien last night—baseball bats, bricks, ice skates and a tumble down the stairs—and there was even a surprise appearance from Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee at the end of the blows. A little juvenile maybe. Slap-stick humour definitely, the way only Americans know how and do absolutely the best. What is really great about this clip, the in-joke that informs, underlines everything you see, is that these are three very famous people, working in exactly the same field, competing directly for television ratings and advertising dollars, who should supposedly have very large egos, making fun of all of that, and revealing—wait... is that irony, on American TV?—that they are probably very good friends, having a very good time. Yes, it isn’t meditation, my usual, “inspiring” topic, but then what is meditation, when practised correctly, but pure joy? Which is in my opinion is exactly what pure humour is as well. I find that pretty inspiring.
Sri Chinmoy on humour
Humour comes directly from God. Why? He needs humour. It is the salt of life. Fortunately or unfortunately, consciously or unconsciously, God has done something. He has created this world and every second He is getting a headache, a stomach-ache and a heart attack. Now, He feels that there should be some way to get rid of His fever and pain. When we suffer from anything we need medicine. In God's case there is only one medicine and that is humour. It cures the disease that He takes from the world. From God the Supreme Humourist Pt.2
Quarter acre sections; a sky tower that doesn't really go all the way to the sky; spotlessly clean suburbs; rolling, semi-green, semi-bald hills covered in sheep and mountain bikers; speedos for fashion rather than the beach; xylophones; a calypso beat, and druids in a city where almost nothing is older than 150 years—just some of the eccentricity galore in this irrepressibly happy, undeniably strange music video from Auckland, New Zealand band Bressa Creeting Cake—the only group with a truly awful pun for a name to win a national music award. Or to describe Palm Singing in the words of the band:
“A very happy holiday song full of gaiety, summer, and love for one's fellows.”
Strange backyard rituals around a bonfire aside, who on earth could possibly bad-mouth that? My friend “Krazy Karl” was once a member of this band—before he made a stand for sanity. I need no longer wonder where the “Krazy” came from... In New Zealand, the concept of “six degrees of separation” may not have been invented, but it always applies, and my crazy musician friend and Bressa Creeting Cake are just one example:
I work with the guitarist from semi-famous rock band Garageland;
I went to school with semi-notorious rock band Shihad;
While I struggle to produce my next post, stuck between work and a hard place, regular readers may like to stop by The Onion, a newspaper which, like the vegetable namesake, is guaranteed to draw a tear to the eye. The Onion may look like a serious newspaper—it formatted and, to first impressions, written like such—but delve several layers beneath the surface and you will discover anything but. The Onion is 100% satire—news stories written from bottom to front, down to up, stories which turn upside down all that is conventional and proper, to humourous effect. The Onion is proof that, The Daily Show aside, irony is not completely lost on American shores. So good is The Onion that, like a favourite poet or author, you want to savour each and every line—afterwards swallow the nagging regret that you didn’t write them yourself. But don’t just take my word for it—peel yourself an onion and prepare to laugh until you cry.
CIA Realizes It's Been Using Black Highlighters All These YearsLANGLEY, VA—A report released Tuesday by the CIA's Office of the Inspector General revealed that the CIA has mistakenly obscured hundreds of thousands of pages of critical intelligence information with black highlighters. According to the report, sections of the documents— "almost invariably the most crucial passages"—are marred by an indelible black ink that renders the lines impossible to read, due to a top-secret highlighting policy that began at the agency's inception in 1947. CIA Director Porter Goss has ordered further internal investigation. "Why did it go on for this long, and this far?" said Goss in a press conference called shortly after the report's release. "I'm as frustrated as anyone. You can't read a single thing that's been highlighted. Had I been there to advise [former CIA director] Allen Dulles, I would have suggested the traditional yellow color—or pink." Goss added: "There was probably some really, really important information in these documents."
Jennifer of Goodness Graciousness, a long time reader and worthy author in her own right, has tagged me in the Six Weird Things meme. Only six? Even just a short list, you know I could never refuse... Actually I prefer her word for weird things—idiosyncrasies. Nobody likes to be called a weirdo.
Although relatively new to driving, I rant and rave through windscreen and windows closed at the rest of the world, which in my opinion appears filled with bad drivers. Drivers who drive too slow, drivers who cause you to miss the green light, drivers who change lanes without indicating, who can’t drive in a straight line, don’t know how to give way—I’m teaching them all how to drive, one by ignorant one. I’ve heard many people do this, but in my case evil, darkened glares, flashed headlights and occasional use of horn very much amuse my friends. I have a reputation for being polite and considerate.
I’m not particularly good at saying no, although as my available time disappears in amounts inversely proportionate to my age, I’m fast learning. It’s taken a while to work out that few can read between the lines when I say yes, yet slowly and unenthusiastically. “That’s your cue to withdraw people!”
I don’t appreciate people who can’t stick to a point or keep on topic in conversation, or even worse interrupt without consideration or pretense of listening. I’ve taken recently to interrupting such people, finishing their sentences for them. Life is just to short to wander without end or direction. And I really am a polite person. On a topic related, I used to once talk to telemarketers when they cold-called, politely answer their questions, take part in polls. Once. Now, although not as bad as a friend whose favourite line is “Mr. Smith no longer lives here. In fact he’s dead,” I seldom let them get to the end of their opening lines. Politely.
I am bad with names. I have no idea why, but I can recall a face, a job, things spoken and actions before I recall the name. Perhaps I was dropped as a child? Apparently my mother gave up smoking after I was born.
I’m not very good at ignoring barbs or insults. I probably take myself too seriously. I’m slowly getting better. Credit is certainly due to the positive benefits of meditation—inner strength and detachment included.
As a child I would sometimes play chicken with adults on footpaths. Out of some stubborn, hard-headed irritation at people too unaware of others to give way, I would walk them all down, staring into their eye. I have to stop myself from doing this even now.
I’m sure I have many other idiosyncrasies, but strangely they are not coming to mind. Perhaps I am blind to them—a very common idiosyncrasy indeed. Anybody reading is more than welcome to post a list in response.
Daily Blog Tips is hosting a competition, and inviting writers to submit a post involving the number three. The following is my entry—can you tell I wrote it in three minutes (give or take an hour)? * * * I have a minor speech impediment involving the number three. For reasons more complex than counting to three I say “fr-ee” rather than “thr-ee.” It has been a subject for teasing since life-time immemorial. One cause of my unusual diction may be a face-plant, more plants on face, face planted on pot-plant holder at the age of two—a face-first collision, teeth-work on metal assisted from behind by a girl jealous of the attention her grandmother, my baby-sitter garnered me. Despite emergency surgery my dental work never completely recovered—in fact several teeth never reappeared, albeit years later via a surgeon’s scalpel. Incisors violently misaligned, it is simple arithmetic that I have never been able to align three simple letters: “T-H-R.” * * * It may be just as well I am not involved in sales—no doubt I would run some-one out of business, constantly mis-quoting untenable discounts on items priced with the number three—“Yes sir, it really is only ‘Free Firty-Free!’” Despite my impediment I did actually do sales once—telephone marketing for a dish on every roof satellite television service, where luckily there were more than free channels, and many of the offers were three. Sorry—I am supposed to be talking about my speech impediment, not my dyslexia... I only lasted a month in the job—even that several weeks longer than the average—cold-calling less than receptive strangers for three hours a night the very definition of the term “churn” before such became common-place; but a job was a desperately needed job, walked to without enthusiasm after university lectures and before finding something better. Before I quit—a moment most definitely the highpoint of my brief tenure—I worked out that the reason the call centre supervisor—a young man approximately my own age but with the airs of one considerably senior, and who like a school teacher sat at the front and middle of the room—was always on the telephone was because he was listening in on our conversations. He would put down his phone from time to time, eye us all like a group of particularly bad students, and walk over to make unusually informed, usually cutting comments. With the thin veneer of telephone-pleasantness, only dollar motivated concern now terminated, I can in my darkest imagination (almost) imagine a metal pot-plant holder removing his knowing smirk... * * * Someone who actually is in sales inspired me to make up a joke the other day. Like most moments of creative brilliance—value judgement here admittedly my own—it came spontaneously and unrehearsed—an Indian friend of merchant caste and notoriously tight with money prompting the following off-colour joke:
Question: “Why can’t Indian’s count past three?” Answer: “One, two, three... did somebody say free?”
You probably had to be there—the humour increases when the guy with the Scottish last name and speech impediment tells it... In case you’re feeling sorry for my friend, he gives as good as he gets in the teasing; if you’re feeling sorry for me and my poor sense of humour, I completely understand. * * * The only time I’ve ever appeared on television—a bottom of the barrel, called in at the last minute impersonation of a presenter for the Inspiration-News podcast—involved me having to the say the number three, and my inability to do so earned the considerable irritation a very particular German director—“There is no ‘free’ in the script, ja?” Not that he could talk, at least not in English—his “v’s,” “w’s,” and “f’s” were all mixed up to say the least. I think we abandoned that part of the script now that I think about it... * * * At no extra cost A music video involving London, ice skates, fairy-dust, beards (unfortunately) and the number three...