Hello World! Meet The Foreigners of Shanghai

I’m not going to apologize for not posting a couple of days, that rarely makes a good read. There have been some background updates and I finished The Strain – it ended on an okay-ish note. There was some vampire slaying, a good couple of unmemorable but boggling decision and logical fallacies, but I am still looking forward to a confirmed 2nd season. The Blacklist meanwhile is going strong and so far there was no filler episode and there is humor, suspense and a fantastic James Spader, even without any of the main mysteries being closer to resolved. Gotham is continuing being fantastic – even the young Bruce Wayne grows on me and again The Penguin steals the show and I can’t wait to see how he eventually grows to be the tragic villain and gangster boss. I like how there seem to be James ‘Jim’ Gordon’s villains that give a glimpse of what is to come in the city. I can’t wait, winter is coming…

As a German here in China you meet a lot of other foreigners. What do I say? As a foreigner here in Shanghai you meet all kinds of other foreigners, maybe even as a Chinese. Chances are that if you are female and Chinese then all kinds of nationalities try to hit on you and flock around you, but let’s not go there for now and to be frank, that is not always the case – guess it’s in the numbers then.

If you mean well and you want to come to China and experience 5000 years of culture, ähem, ähem, *clears throat*, then you can have a look at a website like this and dream yourself into a parallel universe were people here solve arguments with Crane Kung Fu versus the famous Tiger Chen Style, but who am I to tell you that. I came here with Jackie Chan in mind and when I was a teenager I wanted to become a Shaolin monk. I kind of met my idol Jackie Chan in Hong Kong once, but I know that the ‘Shaolin Temples’ are more Disneyland than mythical places and no, arguments are not solved with amazing Kung Fu demonstrations, it’s more shouting and pushing, but at the end of the day that is how it is.

Tiffany Wang wrote an article in February 2013 that pretty much shows how the expat situation has changed and yeah, it pretty much happened that way. We are not the unique snowflakes anymore. But hold that for a second, I think I am, but not because I am a Batman this time:

There are I would say three types of foreigners here in Shanghai if we look at them from a time-spent-here-perspective. And this is not scientific by any means nor is it in any way a relevant sample, just my own thoughts, so without further ado…

1 – The internship or exchange student

I was part of that group. They are here for a brief stint, usually between 3 months and one year. They know they will leave after that time frame and they live life to the fullest. Every club has to be hit, it wasn’t a good night, if the location hasn’t change less than 3 times and hangovers are unreal due to fake alcohol. Whatever they do here ends and they leave no marks, but a broken heart here and there and a few furniture pieces they leave in their dormitory room or shared apartment for the next one to grab. They have a blast here, but sometimes they can’t imagine to stay here a day longer then necessary and sometimes they come back, if they come back they graduate to type 2.

2 – The up and down expat

This type of foreigner is here for some time from 1 year up to 4 years. This is the type of person that came back for more or decided to stay for a tad longer but is unsure about their 5 year plan (if there is any). I think this is the most common type. The sad thing here is, that if you are going to be type 3, or even if you are type 1 (not Diabetes) then or a fellow type 2 (not Diabetes again) then you will be hard pressed to be the one that stays longer and sees them leaving to never return (to China that is). Actually that happens even with type 1, but here it hurts more, because you developed a closer friendship. When this type exceeds the 4 years he will be granted the title Level 3 Expat (dips on the trademark).

3 – The longer you stare into the abyss expat

As a Level 3 Expat you are here for the long run, but most likely not forever. Staying here ‘forever’ and completely immersing yourself is rare, if you’d decide to stay and spend the rest of your days in China that might be as rare as The Black Lotus. Honestly, that rarely happens and you will never be considered Chinese. I am now part of this group or type and I can stay another year or two. Funny thing is, once you are in this group you plan from year to year, then you turn around another 3 years have passed.

It’s all good for me here at the moment and what I want to say is that sometimes it is hard to see friends leave and then you will have to find some new ones, I mean new ones that are geographically close, not that you completely lose the others.

So remember – things are good and you better enjoy the ride! Some expat friends walk the walk for a time with you and some don’t stick around that long. I guess living in a an expat city is a bit like living on steroids, you just have to cycle through it faster.

A little shred of wisdom

So there is this thing called weekend coming up and every time I am happy that next Friday is weekend again, but this is not what I am going to write about.

There is a lot of self help/life hack stuff and financial guru’s and cool lifehackers (check that one out, the guy is a badass and it’s such a fun read, I got the biking to work down, unfortunately I am not that much of a handyman) and there are books about it (inspirational) and whatnot. But today one article really caught my attention and one of the bullet points I have to share here, for or to understand me it hits the nail on the head:

You have made the best of some tough situations. – Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy with everything.  Sometimes it just means you’re strong and smart enough to accept it and make the best of it.

Read the whole article here

If you read the article there is more and yes, just try to be happy, sometimes you can’t change a situation but you definitely can change your point of view.

Sometimes it boils down to not being a dick and sometimes to just being friendly (or let’s call it common courtesy) and say ‘hello’ in the elevator, but seriously I am not getting up at 4:30am. I went to a Silent Retreat once, it was a yoga retreat in a temple in a small town not too far from Shanghai. I went with friends and to be honest, I couldn’t stay quiet, I was with friends, we had a couple of beers and subway sandwiches before we got there and had to share a couple of words. One particular girl really tried and did it, she was the only one in the group, because during meditation and yoga classes the yogi asked questions. One day she didn’t feel alright and did not show up for the I think 5am meditation, it was hard to understand from turning her head and doing the finger in the mouth gesture that she did not feel right. Also: people there gave us plain congee with a little topping of pickled veggies and then rice and a little topping of pickled veggies for lunch and dinner – I do like vegetarian or vegan food but with that diet my body did not really function. I didn’t sleep well, I felt exhausted the whole time and came back less relaxed than before I went. Next time I try the laughing yoga – maybe that is more up my alley…

P.S.: Yes, the article with the words is about to come, all of the above just spewed out of my hands and I wasn’t planning on writing so much, but please enjoy.


Ohrwurm of the week 40/2014

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUOfWCHrvIY]

Allow me a lazy day once a week and I actually won’t let you down, I declare wednesdays the Ohrwurm day. You might ask yourself what an Ohrwurm is and that is okay, you might not be German. An Ohrwurm is, if I would translate it directly an earworm, if you would say it it sounds a bit like oreworm. It’s the song that keeps repeating in your head until you hear it completely or get thoroughly distracted to forget about it. Some of those you might not even like, but this is the place for the ones that give me goosebumps or impress me otherwise.

This is Fit For A King with a a metalcore song that progresses with a beautiful hook that changes beautifully over the course of the song. They grew as a band, matured and manage to really burn those lyrics into your cortex on a Saturday afternoon while biking. Pay attention to the clean production and the warm guitar sound – it’s a bit like Northlane with a few clean parts mixed in.

Stay tuned and find your Ohrwum.

A mixed bags of chips/nuts/bats

So it is that time of the year when I am waiting on TV shows. The time when you watch mediocre shows because you have to wait a week for your new favorites or a couple of weeks or months until the shows you really love make a return.

At the moment I am watching: Gotham (Season 1), The Blacklist (Season 2) and The Strain (Season 1).

Gotham so far is great and managed to step up the game from episode one. My highlight so far is Robin Lord Taylor who nails it as Oswald Cobblepot and the young Bruce does well and so does Alfred, argh, at the moment there is not much to criticize but the waiting for the next episode…

The Blacklist starts off strong with the 2nd Season with great music choices (love that in this show), no bad CGI so far and there seems to be more of a multiple episode arch. James Spader is just killing it and his delivery is flawless. I can’t wait to see him as Ultron...

The Strain – comparing these three shows currently the weakest link, but not bad. Some of the characters are annoying – see ‘Eph’ (Corey Stroll) who is a great actor, when having his character from House of Cards and Eph both in mind, but the decisions this Eph guy makes, without taking to much away are just not logical and make him more and more unlikeable. Other than that great effects, some characters I’d love to know more about but we will see. There are weaknesses and plot holes as wide as goatse, if somebody still remembers that, but please don’t google it. Bet some of you did and you will be more grossed out than with scenes in The Strain…

Other than that me and my better half started to cook. The joys of a bigger apartment and next door a grandma with her grandson moved in and they are tattooing people all day every day. Did I mention that we live in the building were apparently mistresses (this is something pretty common in China) find a place away from ‘boyfriends’ (see: provider, LG bag buyer and holder, pink Porsche driver etc.) and their family (see probably loving wife and kids included).

Stay classy China! Especially in Hong Kong and have a splendid Tuesday. Speaking of splendid: for the longest time (I never saw an original English Simpsons episode) I believed that Mr. Burns says ‘splendid’ when he does that hand gesture that is a bit like Merkel (clearly a satanic gesture /s).

Next time I might let you know what kind of words still give me away as somebody with English as their 2nd language – that could be fun…


Day 2 – and they have still no idea that I am not Batman…

Let’s start this post with a bit more Batman, that you had never heard before:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFfjUMinFPk]

So those guys are the piano guys – if you don’t get goosebumps, then please go away. They have a video with my new favorite Disney song as well, but ‘Betraying The Martyrs’ did it better (they also have the best drummer everin Soviet Russia drum drums you? – nah, but he is amazing) and Lindsey Sterling dances more elvish through those landscapes.

Anyhoozle, since this blog is already blocked by the great firewall of China, here is what’s going on in the city I like the most here in Asia. It’s scary and I hope this will find a peaceful end. Check it out before this post by the Shanghhaiist is taken down and if you want to read more about what concerns people within the great firewall of China check out Chinasmack, but be warned: too much of it will make you feel less than awesome, they are not writing about stuff like what is going on in HK at the moment, because people here are going to be distracted with violence and whatever has to take presedence over whatever might actually be important. Question everything like your professors, teachers or family have hopefully told you. Even what I write – I might be on the payroll of Batman. But seriously check your sources or you end up believing shit like this – and yes, some of my ‘friends’ on WeChat, the Chinese WhatsApp equivalent took that for granted. See how far you can go until you find out that this is utter bullcrap.

Yesterday I have watched the worst Rob Zombie movie. I love the shit out of him as a director and the first album on CD I ever bought was from him (that review points out the obvious: a B-Movie fetish and horror fantasies in puberty and that being said, it is still an album that I give a listen as a package once in a while) and holds a dear place in my heart. Lords of Salem was not all bad and while Roger Ebert likes that one, I see different references. There are nods to David Lynch and yes, Stanley Kubrick but only ‘The Shining’, these references are pretty much obvious and I like the weirdness of Lords of Salem, but it has zero replay value. While 2001 Maniacs was partly stupid but macabre and funny (and has Dwight Schrute as fishboy) and House of a 1000 Corpses was solid and creepy and The Devils’s Rejects something completely new, this movie shows the love of Mr. Zombie to some directors whose style does not quiete suit him and really, stop the lens flares or was that a nod to J.J. Abrams. So Rob, please add more action and kick up the pace.

Looking forward to Gotham and the new Episode of the Blacklist and also to write more. The flow is back and so is Batman…


Batman is back and ready to burn

Here it is, the extended version of the hello-world comment I was about to write this time last year.

Things take time, sometimes more than expected, but then they might turn out to be brilliant. I know what you are thinking: ‘who is this guy?’, ‘why is he back?’, ‘is this the real Batman?’, ‘who is this for?’ and ‘what is this blog?’

I’m going to answer all these questions, but before we get started let’s ignite the flame with reminding us what we are and I hope you get as much a kick out of it as I do:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtY8d6tN-04]

So if you watched this video, you get a rough idea of what excites me and there will be reoccurring fire references, because the blog name needs justification…

  • who is this guy? 

I’m Batman. I actually will be, so if there is a zombie apocalypse and the dead roam the earth I am prepared to be Batman. Still lack the billionaire part and gadgets but baby steps, right?

In addition I am the guy in the picture and as you can tell I have a preference for ‘aggressive’ music, I was born and raised in the woods (a tiny little village on the Czech border in Germany that is) and I wear a halo, because I can.

Currently I am living in Shanghai. Shanghai has a lot of this and then more of this and there is also this (the last one is a little shout out to my DJ friend that never plays Burial, but I’ll keep requesting it).

Shanghai is actually great and kind of hard to describe but I’ll try to put it into words, but this is about me – so I am writing, yeah, haven’t done that in a while. I also bike (with a fixed gear bike that is) and I love Martial Arts. I’ll elaborate on all of this while this blog grows.

  • why is he back?

Because of the Lego Movie and Batman, nah, not really, but I really dig that movie and I was able to decide within 10 minutes that this filme entered my Top 10.

I had a blog before and it was 95% in German and I was basically covering life, music, concert and CD reviews and a lot of random stuff that excites me. It ran roughly 2.5 years and had a small but loyal readership and I want all of that back. I closed it because there was a weird German law about to pass that basically opened the doors wide to getting sued and self censoring and whatnot.  The law never passed but it was nuts. If you happen to read German, then this forum describes the situation.

So yeah, shortly after I finished my studies and started a ‘real job’ and thought that law comes in handy, a good reasons to give this hobby up that only costs money and gives very little in return. Boy was I wrong! I missed it and I miss the joy and routine of daily writing. So here I am back. Totally selfish and getting back into a habit and I just hope you as reader get something back – a tiny smirk, a smile, an idea or an insight and if that happens, let me know or not and let your friends know.

I am back in 2010 and just start this blogging thing again and take you on a ride through my world…

  • is this the real Batman?

Yeah, of course I am Batman. My girlfriend somehow was able to get me the awesome Batfleck shirt shipped from the US. It’s this one and since you might want to ask me if Ben will make a good Batman, here is my short answer: yes.

The longer one is: he grew as an actor (also in size and in the best way possible). What I like most after seeing the first picture of him in costume is that if I imagine seeing somebody this size in that costume in front of me would make me want to run away scared. Michael Keaton was a great fit in the Tim Burton fantasy world and yes, my favorite Batman movie is still Batman Returns. The good old Roger Ebert didn’t really get that one and I don’t expect you to get it either. But I love the weird Tim Burton world and Batman fits perfectly in there, it has the heart and the fantastic that I was missing in the Nolan movies, that I like too, but not as much as Batman Returns. I believe Michelle Pfeiffer is a vampire (look she doesn’t age), she is to this day incredibly hot and the rocks the best Catwoman costume on screen.

But back to topic, I am Batman, or maybe the closest thing. If the zombie apocalypse is coming and I am going to be a small screen version or reboot of all Batmans combined in my head. Yeah, that actually nails me as a character. You just picture that and you have me. A bit campy Adam West, a bit underrated Micheal Keaton, a bit angry Christian Bale when I shout at people in traffic here in Shanghai and a bit Ben Affleck, because I have his shirt.

  • who is this for?

Everyone. Yeah, there I said it. I read that if you want to make money with a blog or something, find a niche. I did, this blog is for everyone, my friends, for myself (I mentioned the writing habit earlier) and Batman fans and honestly, who doesn’t like Batman?

There is a new show that I have high hopes for and I want it to be a darker and better version of Smallville, which I never really followed, it looked to campy and I want it to be a bit like the 2nd season of Arrow, that means awesome. The show is called ‘Gotham’ and I liked the premiere A LOT. Here is a short discussion from my favorite movie news website that nails it.

  • what is this blog?

A throwback to my old blog, a way for me to archive what I was thinking and doing and hopefully something that people enjoy. I was about to draw a diagram that shows it is one third reviews, one third China and one third music, but then I was out of thirds, so it is more and I hope it will automatically find a structure while I build this.

So I hope you are excited, because I am and this took way longer than expected. There is more seemingly random stuff to come but in time this will make sense if you tick a bit like me.

Have a good golden week, if you are in China, they have forced discounts everywhere and if you are somewhere else, then have a great week. Being miserable alone won’t really help.


Von Katzen und Tigern…

Ich dachte ich hätte schonmal darüber geschrieben. Also alle alten Artikel nochmal quergelesen und nichts gefunden.

Also ich habe da so eine Theorie. Es ist oftmals so das Frauen/Mädels/Weiber/Perlen/Freundinnen (bitte passendes raussuchen, anderes streichen) nach einem Tiger suchen, also so jemanden mit festem Blick, markanten Gesichtszügen, diesem animalischen Touch und dieser natürlichen Wildheit. So einen fangen die dann auch. Sind ja gefuchst (Der ja zu den Hunden zählt).

Die Tiger kommen dann ins Bootcamp für wilde Tiere, oder ziehen weiter, was ich jetzt nicht näher erläutere. Im Bootcamp bekommen die Tiger die Krallen gezogen, das Fell gestriegelt, die Augen geschminkt, die Barthaare gezupft und den Geruch des Dschungels mittels unzähliger Spülungen aus dem Fell gewaschen. Einige Tiger machen da mit, sie finden sich ganz gut in der neuen Hauskatzennummer zurecht. Sie laufen auch kaum apathisch erscheinend durch die blitzblanke Bude, sind auf einmal nett, passen ganz gut in verschiedenste Pflegefamilien und haben plötzlich die Ausstrahlung von Garfield. Netter Tausch!

Jetzt kennt jeder sich einige Tiger und so manch ene Hauskatze. Ich meine in (fast) jedem Tiger steckt eine Schmusekatze, aber nicht jede Schmusekatze war mal ein Tiger…