Monday, April 30, 2007

Go PetroCanada Go!

Here's a nice little plug for Canadian crown corporation PetroCanada (once know as BP British Petroleum in Canada).

Do you think it even gets noticed on these gorgeous Korean race queens?

PetroCanada's symbol can sometimes be seen on garages in Taiwan. I assume that it's a kind of motor oil they sell. I'll have to check it out...
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Mmmmm, tiny acid...

Here's a typical English screw up. Click on the picture and read the fine print.

What the ad really means to say is not tiny acid but instead a little sour.

As for the most happiness felling... you be the interpreter!
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

For the uninitiated...

I'll give you three guesses, the first two don't count...

It can be found in a Love Hotel. ... and it's not an exercise machine.

Oh wait a minute! Maybe it is!

The heart shaped seat is a nice touch.
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

BBQ Season Opens!

BBQ season is here now that the warm weather has arrived. Don't put away those winter jackets though. As the Taiwanese say, only put them away after Dragon Boat festival. The meaning is that there could be cold snaps until that time.

We've had three successive BBQ weekends now. Where the BBQ tradition came from for Taiwan is anyone's guess (particularly for Mid-Autumn Festival). All these BBQs and the preparation they require got me thinking about why Taiwanese don't buy gas BBQs to do their BBQing at home? Do Taiwanese actually like dirty charcoal and its smoke? Do they actually embrace the inconvenience? Do they actually embrace the mess? Ok I take back the last one...

Face it, what is more inconvenient than BBQ on a tiny grill sitting on the ground in front of the home? Or what about trying to get the damn charcoal to light?

Well I did get a couple of plausible reasons for Taiwanese not buying a decent gas BBQ. First is the flavor. Like the Japanese, Taiwanese insist the charcoal gives the food a distinct flavor. This is why BBQ restaurants still only use charcoal and therefore require elaborate fume hoods to take away the smoke indoors.

Second is that Taiwanese believe that food should not be directly on gas. Cooking with a pot or pan between the food and the gas element is ok but the gas will affect the food (read poison).

In all my years here, I've only met one person who owns a gas BBQ. I have even tested a student who worked in a gas BBQ import/export company here who was astounded when I asked her the question why they didn't sell any gas BBQs on the local market. It had never occurred to her to do so. Just ship them out to America!

For now Taiwanese seem content to squat by pathetic little grills, set on the ground, for hours trying to feed the mass of starving family members. This will continue for the short term in all likelihood.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Let them not eat cake!

... or how to ruin a perfectly good birthday cake.

Taiwanese have this (annoying) custom of destroying (expensive) brithday cakes at gatherings. Some thoughtful person, or the birthday boy or girl themselves, will buy a cake that cost about NT$500 or more (you do the math).

All of a sudden, someone will dip into the cream on the cake and ambush the birthday victim, smearing cream on them starting on the face. People get carried away, dipping their hands into the cake, and then, finally, everyone has cake and cream on them.

Who wants to eat a mauled birthday cake after that?
Who likes to have the smell of cream slowly going bad on their hands, face and clothes?

If it were me, I'd be pretty damn mad. These guys seem to be enjoying themselves though.
Respect the cake man! Respect the birthday boy or girl!
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tattoo Me!

Tattoos have become more and more commonplace in Taiwan with young people in the last few years.

Here's a great shot of a nice one taken at Warner Village (in the middle of the night?). Notice the strange marks of the skin of the back in some areas. I wonder what that's all about?

If it's real there must be some good story about this tattoo. Gangster girl? Taike chic? Metal fan? Who knows?
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pet Peeve: "Of course!"

I'm starting to hate it when I ask my students a question and they answer "Of course!" In fact it's one of my pet peeves.

Here's an example of a typical conversation:

A: Did you see Spiderman 3 on the weekend?
B: Yes I did.
A: Did you like it?
B: Of course!

This obviously is an error seeing that there was no real way for me to know their response in advance (I feel like an idiot for not knowing now).

The mistake arises from translation. "Of course" in English has the feeling that the speaker should already know the answer. 當然 (dang ran) as it is written in Chinese has become a cliche among young Taiwanese, along with the regulars like "strange" 奇怪 and "cute" 可愛.

All these expressions are overused in Chinese. Beware!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Wayward Cloud: The Taste of Watermelon (French)

Yes it's a Taiwanese film. Amazingly, it made it past the censors in Taiwan to the delight of all the porno fans here (the movie theater was probably chock full of men which, from the makers point of view, was great since 'artsy' films like this rarely draw attention).

In French it was called 'La Saveur de la Pasteque' or 'The Taste of Watermelon'. Funny how movie names often change when they cross borders.

Check out the clip here (Quicktime)...

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