Happy Chinese New Year!

It’s the year of the cock! Or rooster or chicken if you are into superstition – here is everything you need to know and some made-up numbers. One could almost think this is a holiday blog now.

So what is going on at that time in Shanghai? Not much I gotta tell you and that is great. This year the government outlawed fireworks within the inner ring of Shanghai and when this time of the year meant war in terms of sound before, this year it is calm bliss. It worked. There is no sound, no noise that disturbs my beauty sleep.

Wait! There was sound. The second day into the holiday I woke up at around 8:30am and here this Shanghai chant in a high pitched voice, followed by what sounded like rhythmic fireworks and that went on for the whole morning. It sounded like a badly recorded techno song mixed together from crackers going off and a traffic announcement in Shanghai. I checked from the balcony and outside – there was nothing. A quick glimpse into the hallway allowed me to see the culprit. A plug-in-firework-door-hanger-thingy by my neighbour who also coughs every morning at the same time with the same melody. Maybe I am the weird one for noticing all this.

In previous years there was apparently a ban too and the population of Shanghai was just like ‘meh’ and had their usual fireworks 24/7 for two weeks leading in and out of the Chinese New Year. This year is different. It’s incredible how a whole country pretty much shuts down. It’s magical almost. It’s like that little city Aue in Germany close to where I am from during a football match (and I couldn’t think of something less fun to watch) – pure bliss. Scratch that! I can’t find a video or picture that compares. So think ’28 Days Later’ in Shanghai, minus zombies plus some life and cars and traffic here and there.

This is also the first time blogging with having a cat and said cat sleeping in my lap while I type away and catch up with Fargo (season 2 now). My significant other meanwhile has a splendid time in Japan.

Initially I was planning to write about the books I read this year so far, but that is a bit to dark, so here is another run down of what is going on with games, shows, movies and life in Shanghai.

I spend the 5th Chinese New Year with my Shanghainese friend and his family for 2 dinners. Time really flies. It’s a time of fantastic home-cooked food and me and the Xbox 360 and the cat and catching up with shows.

Let’s start with the shows I stopped: I stopped watching Supergirl. It’s fun and colourful but too long and too ‘episodic’ to draw me in. I stopped Legends of Tomorrow for pretty much the same reason. Homeland had to go too, it’s just too bleak and unfocused.

The Flash unfortunately suffers a bit with all the characters and Barry making the same choices, but I’ll continue. Arrow is back on the okay track and I continue as well. The clear winner is Gotham – it’s madness, it has no rules and is just fun and an escape from reality not bound by rules. Fresh Off the Boat and Modern Family are constantly delivering. Last but not least, a show from the History Channel out of all places, with the show that rivals, maybe even tops Game of Thrones in places: Vikings. I cannot wait for the finale.

With movies The Accountant showed again Ben Affleck’s brilliance and Arrival moved me deeply in the cinema. Before I saw Arrival, we had the music on the always brilliant Song Exploder Podcast taken apart and explained. Give it a listen here. Great music, great movie!

The gaming part I will spare you this time and stick to podcasts. For one there is The Shanghai Show with yours truly! And then there is Kung Fu Komedy and Baopals with me partly in the picture.

Again have a fantastic year of the cock and stay cocky.

Some updates to stay updated about stuff and art

For the technical people among you and those interested this site runs now on WordPress 4.7 – it’s an amazing platform and I wish more people would blog. By the way, my friend does blog, in German and it’s short stories that make you think and are on point, we also have similar values and ways to look at the world. Like traditionally, like writing words, loads of them preferably. I really, really like to read, especially some long form, articles and books, even though with books, I believe I just read 2 in 2016. Shame!

I am hosting this site on a service called Dreamhost and that costs money, it’s money I believe is well spend, it’s money and effort from me and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to read a couple of hundred words, so I hope I force you to read a bit more just with that. You are welcome!

It saddens me a bit that this art of reading and writing seems to go away, not the books, they are here to stay it seems.  My kindle helps with reading and stores a ton of books when the apartment doesn’t have a massive bookshelf. The two books I devoured in 2016 were ‘Beautiful You’ by my favourite author Chuck Palahniuk (it’s mediocre), the previously mentioned ‘Presto! …’ by Penn Jillette (it’s fantastic) and hopefully some more books that I forgot about (there must have been more). I vow to keep better track, write about it and read more books this year.

YouTube, Snapchat and all that other stuff seems to be louder than people that write something, something more than 100 words. Not a lot of people like to read or write long texts. Twitter has had a 140 characters limit and was super loud too. Speaking of which, I deleted that, I never really used Twitter, I don’t really understand it and there is not a lot of words there, maybe I was using it wrong but it added nothing to my life. It’s also blocked in China and with Facebook and a lot of other things it is worth to find ways to get that working, I never bothered to check Twitter. Farewell!

I get that attention spans are seemingly getting shorter. Train that – get stronger and better!

Speaking of art, Meryl Streep gave a semi-touching speech at the Golden Globes: ‘You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now.’ – Oh! You poor, underpaid and unappreciated people in Hollywood. And then this: ‘Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.’ – really? Why single out these examples? I respect this actress and her ‘art’, but I don’t like those jabs at thing other people enjoy as a form of art. What art is, is debatable. Is this art? It made them and me laugh, I find that is an art in and on itself. That being said, the rest of the speech was agreeable and again I still respect this actress and her art. Enough with that word.

Blogs are in decline and a lot of it is odd stuff, here is an interesting article. If someone in PR for something wants to pitch, please do, we can make stuff work if our language matches. Maybe it pays for the hosting or maybe I get cool products and if so, I would genuinely say what I think about it and my superpower is to be happy with a minimum amount of recognisable effort or if something makes my life easier.

Look at Baopals, yes, I work for them, does almost everything in their communication speak to me. Internal and external. There could be more words on the website or stories or people writing something special like the review for this product. I am currently waiting on my Misfit Ray to replace my aging Fitbit Charge HR. I write all this, not because they paid me a cent, but because I want to and for the update. Look, Baopals here makes the shopping life easier in China and mine and I write about it, because I love it!

I remember coming the first time to Shanghai and having quality ‘expat magazines’ in every other bar, that I was looking forward to read on the throne and collect every month. They are not there anymore or write stuff I am not in the slightest interested in. There is The Shanghai Show for example and Kung Fu Comedy. Here we have, thankfully, some positive people that produce interesting and fresh content from people that are still in touch with the world around them. Art. Here we are again.

There is so much to update you with and this might seem like the ramblings of a mad man, but there is a lot of beauty to be found and things I want to tell, so let me share this fantastic and touching video:

The truth is, that if that much beauty comes out of a tragedy then it’s not all fucked up, it’s what you make of it, even if it seems like it’s all fucked up or is actually all fucked up. Find the positive or transform that situation. It’s an update – it’s art!

Have a good start of the year and here is something to do that with:

Happy new year to everyone!

This is a little piece to start the year off right. Blogging was good from me in 2016. I blogged regularly and am happy with what I wrote about and every pair off eyes that sees this and takes something away from it, even if it is a slight smirk. Thank you!

Living in China is not always easy but it is 100% of the time exciting and keeps you on your toes. There is definitely something that has expats go a bit bitter and/or explode after a certain amount of time, but that hasn’t happened for me yet and this is almost six years and counting now. Anyhow, before the year ended I have watched this super interesting and fun documentary bit on Youtube by Wired UK (which is worth a read as well):

The copy mentality and building everything just so it is ‘good enough’ (chabuduo) does get my blood pressure up like a good P90X warm-up, but the documentary above really puts that in a different direction and gives it a little spin and boy, oh boy, does the dude with the raspy rockstar voice and cigar(s) nail it with the example at the end. Watch it, it’s positive, it made me happy and think and that is not the worst thing to start the year with.

For some reason, especially towards the end of the year a lot of my media consumption came from the UK. With the Brexit after-shock and Trump later in the year, no one could sum it all up better than Charlie Brooker:

Now if you have watched this you might have noticed the super-funny, kind of Karl Pilkington channeling red-head – Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk being posh but thick with a great accent and she made me laugh like Karl Pilkington did before (have a listen to these compilations from the radio shows), here she is on Christmas (and here on Shakespeare):

Baopals is going well and comes with the right list of ‘Realistic New Years Resolutions’ and products for that. Had me giggling. Personally I did not have any resolutions, maybe reading more books, as all in all I have not finished a lot of books in 2016, so that might be something I work on and continue some of the paths I started trailing in 2016. Bam!

Let’s finish this with my favourite ‘Youtuber’ – H3H3 and his thanks for the year, which had me in bits too and if you find one of the scenes or memes or goofs and gaffs funny – check all his videos out. Have a great start of the year: