Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Late December 2015 and Early January 2016 Notes

In this rather desultory entry, I wonder if the Chinese aren't meant for democracy, I wonder if I share a birthday with Ted Cruz, I buy something from Ikea, I tell my son Tony that he is lazy, I tell you what Tony got for Christmas, I tell you where Jenny's friend Ling Ling lives, I relate how I was clutching for my life on the bus one day, I complain about local driver training vehicles, I tell you how I ended 2015, I react to the death of the Motorhead lead singer, I resolve, I report how I heard about the latest Chinese stock market crash, I see Star Wars 7, my favorite female writer dies, Tony tells me what he wants to do at 18, a great Canadian writer dies, some students tell me some things they hate, and I observe.


Sometimes, I think that the Chinese aren't meant for democracy.  I find myself cheering for the authorities when they try to get citizens to behave better.

[I don't think Canadians are meant for democracy either.  They elected Zoolander to be the PM.  And Americans?  They elected Obama.]


I share a birthday with Ted Cruz?

On my birthday, I got one of these mass emails from Ted Cruz's wife saying it was his birthday.  But because of time zone differences, I had to wonder if Cruz's birthday was a day earlier in than mine.

A little research showed that my guess was correct.  Our birthdays are close together but not the same.

Be that as it may, I hope Ted Cruz can become the next president of the USA.


We bought a chest of drawers at Ikea.  We, that is Jenny & I, put it together.  It was a five-goddammit job but I kept the bad words to myself.  I didn't want to appear phased in Jenny's presence.

[Five-goddammit job.  I have stolen these words from a copy of a book by Florence King that I happened to have and happened to have opened after I learned of her death.  I don't know what the words mean exactly.  I can't find a definition on the Internet.  I assume it means a little frustration but not too much with some task you are doing.]


My son Tony was still in bed very late one morning and so I called him lazy. [I could also say he was lying in bed.]

He responded by saying that I was lazy.

I don't think he knows what the word lazy means.


Tony got a toy light saber for Christmas.

He wanted Lego but not classic Lego I had offered to buy him.


Jenny's friend Ling Ling lives on the 19th floor of these apartments that are near the Wuxi central train station.  After having ridden past them many times when they were being constructed, it was nice to say that I had actually been in them.


There I was, clutching my hands to a seat and a passenger standing pole, as a mini van was heading straight, at a high rate of speed, towards the 637 mini bus on which I was a passenger.

What had happened was the bus driver couldn't wait for the car ahead of it in the left-turning lane to move, and decided to pass it.  This put the bus right in the path on the oncoming and accelerating van.  Sitting in the back seat of the bus, I experienced a moment of fright as it looked like the van and bus were going to have a head-on collision and so I clutched at the seat and nearest pole in anticipation.  But the van and the bus managed, with but a meter of space between them, to get out of each other's way.

Would I have been hurt if the vehicles had collided?  I imagine my body would have flown in the air toward the front of the bus but that by gripping onto the pole, I would have escaped injury.  But who knows for sure?


There are lots of driver training vehicles in my area of Wuxi.

I have seen them run red lights, but what really annoys me is how they are stopped at the side of the road, when drivers are being switched, without the four way lights flashing.


The second last day of 2015 was a Wednesday.  I was able to sleep in since I didn't have to be at school till 13:00.  

Jenny had a task for me.  Before I went to school, I had to go to the security building on Chong Ning Road (the building that is across from the Blue Bar) to pick up their Taiwan Travel documents.

Jenny and Tony will be going to Taiwan for a week in late January.  I can't get time off from work so I won't be able to go.

That and the sights I saw on the way to the security building all served to depress me.  I was first sickened by the smog I saw as I took the bus to get to the subway station.  It was present in the air all about.  Riding the subway on the portion that was above ground, the only far off sights I could see were silhouettes of tall buildings.  And this was on what was technically a sunny day in Wuxi.

To get to the security building I had to get off at the San Yang station, the stop before the Nanchang station where I normally get off to go to my school.  And so I got to walk in parts of the Wuxi downtown that I have rarely been to lately.  I saw that the big building across from the main Bank of China building was vacant.  That was because of the fact that they constructed two shopping malls nearby and all the Taobao shopping, I reflected.  I then saw that the four level shopping plaza on Chong Ning Road that I had eaten on many occasions was all vacant as well.  Chinese economy going in the tank?  I wondered.  All this real estate going to waste because of stupid government economic policies.  I hoped that someone was smart enough to realize that the abandoned real estate would make for great parking garage space.


I started out 2016 by not blogging at all until January 6th.

That is, I didn't add anything to this entry which was to have been the third part of December but is now an entry straddling two years.


I had missed the news of the death of Lemmy, the lead singer of Motorhead, till i read an article about it in Taki's.  My reaction was along the lines of saying oh! and then wondering how old he was.  Reading the Wikipedia article on Lemmy, I saw that he died at 70:  nine years younger than my father was when he died.  I also saw that Lemmy and I had the same birthday, unlike Ted Cruz and I whose birthdays were close.

I suppose his death was a passing of an icon from my youth.  I did listen to his band's music sometimes though I never thought of them as being very creative or musical.  They certainly were too sordid in lifestyle for me to imagine ever talking to them socially.


I first noticed it was 2016 when I looked at my phone and saw that the time was 12:20.  I had been watching some TV show on my computer and completely forgot about the time.


I don't refrain absolutely from making resolutions.  I get vague notions in my head of things I should do differently.  I am now thinking I should try and get myself some Internet correspondents.  

It is lonely for AKIC in Wuxi.   There is no one with whom I can socialize with or even have a conversation with where I can speak of things that I allude to here in this blog.  There is no one who can fortify me in my faith.  No one who can force me to do the things I know I should but don't do.


I learned of the latest stock market collapse from the students during the warm-up of one of my classes with them.

I saw this collapse happening years ago.  I wonder if I will be able to weather this one out like I did in 2008.

Life will go on in China.  There will just be a lot of empty buildings about.


Star Wars 7 opened in China on January 9th.

I spent the month before then talking the movie up with the students but only a few seemed to be interested.

On January 9th, other trainers told me that local cineplexes were showing the film on many of their screens as possible.

January 9th had we working a daytime shift so the K Family China went to see SW7 that evening on the IMAX screen of the local Wanda Cinema.  There was a good crowd at the showing we attended.  Almost all the seats were taken.

SW7 was an okay movie I thought but very formula-istic.  Elements and scenes from the previous SW films were reprised.  Not that I minded.  I enjoyed being able to see the characters from the first SW films made (not the prequels).  But I wonder what the makers of the future SW films will be able to do to make them fresh and exciting without having to always draw on the legacy of the first films.

Most of the young actors in the film did not seem very compelling to me.  The actor playing Finn hyperventilated in a silly way.  The girl who played Rae could have been played by a hundred other starlets I am sure.  I couldn't see her being asked to reprise her character in 35 years time.  The one actor who seemed to create a presence comparable to that of the characters of the actors Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford was the one who played the rebel pilot rescued by Finn.  For some reason, his character appeared at the beginning and then disappeared till the very end.

Tony enjoyed the movie.  I don't think I would have been so enthusiastic about the movie coming to China save for my thinking Tony was.  Tony thought it was interesting that the black character, Finn, was a Stormtrooper.  The stormtrooper is a black man, he said.


Florence King, the author of the book I have most re-read, With Charity Towards None: A Fond Look at Misanthropy, died at the age of 80.

She was a conservative in the hard-ass mode.  She mocked liberals and  saccharine pseudo-conservatives alike.

I will have to re-read her books, many which I brought with me to China in 2004, to honor her memory.


David Bowie died.  I can say I attended a concert of his once at the old Winnipeg Stadium.  It was a stop on the Glass Spider Tour.  I remember I was disappointed.  He played too much of his new stuff, not enough of the old.

Bowie was a product of the 1970s and was never able to get beyond the precociousness he showed at that time.  I would say he had a career like Marlon Brando.  Brando spent the last half of his life being a celebrity and not doing anything worthy of what had given him his celebrity in the first place.


Tony tells me that when he is 18 years old, he is going to buy a new car.  I hope he is serious.  I want him to single-mindedly pursue a goal.


There was a lot of death of figures interesting to me in early January.  I learned, from David Warren, that a Canadian columnist I liked, George Jonas, had died.  Jonas who escaped Hungary in 1956 died at the age of 80, just a little bit older than the age at which my father died.


I asked the students to tell me about things they hated.

I was pleased to hear that they hated many of the same things I hated like queue jumpers, people smoking on elevators, e-bikers and pedestrians not obeying traffic rules.

The next morning, I saw an e-biker crouched with head down, run a light at an intersection that the bus I was on was about to enter.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Movies AKIC Watched in 2015

Here is the list of movies that AKIC watched in 2015.

With each film title, I have included the film's release date and my rating of it. Five *'s means I thought the film was excellent.

  1. Carry Own Cowboy (1965) ****

  2. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)****

  3. The Bandwagon (1953) *****

  4. Funny Face (1956) *****

  5. Johnny Dangerously (1984) ****

  6. Mr. Skeffington (1944) *****

  7. The Godfather (1972) *****

  8. Anchors Aweigh! (1945) *****

  9. Annie Get Your Gun (1950) *****

  10. Chimes at Midnight (1965) *****

  11. Gunga Din (1939) *****

  12. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) *****

  13. The Producers (1968) *****

  14. Tarzan The Ape Man (1932) ****

  15. The Changeling (1980) ****

  16. Duck Soup (1933) ****

  17. Kismet (1955) *****

  18. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) ****1/2

  19. South Pacific (1958) *****

  20. Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942) *****

  21. Fast and Furous 7 (in cinema) **

  22. Serpico (1973) *****

  23. The King & I (1956) *****

  24. Charade (1963) *****

  25. The Great Race (1965)***

  26. The Sunshine Boys (1975) *****

  27. État de siège AKA State of Siege (1972) *****

  28. Scarecrow (1973) *****

  29. My Darling Clementine (1946) *****

  30. High Anxiety (1978) ****

  31. Night Moves w/ Gene Hackman (1975) *****

  32. Where's Poppa? (1970) ***

  33. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) ****

  34. Finding Vivian Maier (2013) *****

  35. The Last Frontier (1955) *****

  36. Murder by Decree (1979) ****

  37. Prime Cut (1972) ****

  38. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) *****

  39. The Conversation (1974) *****

  40. The Leopard aka Il gattopardo (1963) ****

  41. Mad Max: Fury Road (in cinema) ***

  42. Dawn of the Dead (1978) ****

  43. Blow Out (John Travolta) ****

  44. Being There (1979) ****

  45. The Mortal Storm (1940) *****

  46. Idiocracy (2006) ***

  47. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) *****

  48. The Wicker Man (1973) ****1/2

  49. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) *****

  50. The Shaun the Sheep Movie (in cinema) ***

  51. Ride Vaquero! (1953) ****

  52. Pocket Money (1972) *****

  53. Marathon Man (1976) *****

  54. Lovely to Look at (1952) *****

  55. The Harder They Fall (Bogart, 1956) *****

  56. Texas Carnival (1951) ****

  57. No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) ****

  58. The Naked City (1948) *****

  59. Act of Violence (1948) *****

  60. Death Wish (1974) ****

  61. Island of Lost Souls (1932) *****

  62. Broadway Danny Rose (1984) *****

  63. The Man with Two Brains (1984) **

  64. Ghostbusters (1984) ****

  65. Broadcast News (1987) ****

  66. Touch of Evil (1958) *****

  67. Ghostbusters 2 (1989) ***

  68. Top Hat (1935) *****

  69. A Damsel in Distress (1937) *****

  70. Minions (In the Cinema) ***

  71. Citizen Kane (1941) *****

  72. Far from the Maddening Crowd (1967) *****

  73. Point Blank (1967) ****

  74. The Bell Boy (1960) ****

  75. Carousel (1956) *****

  76. The King of Comedy (1982) ****

  77. The Disorderly Orderly (1964) ****

  78. The Parallax View (1974) *****

  79. The Day of the Jackal (1973) *****

  80. The Errand boy (1961) ****

  81. The Tingler (1959) ****

  82. Witchfinder General (1968) ****

  83. And Then There Were None (1945) *****

  84. Tower of London (1962) ****

  85. The Fly (1958) ****

  86. The Nutty Professor (1963) ****

  87. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2(in cinema) ***

  88. The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) ****

  89. The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) ****

  90. Die Hard (1988) ****

  91. Die Hard 2 (1990) ****

  92. Mojin: The Lost Legend (in cinema) ****

  93. Hollywood or Bust(Martin & Lewis)(1956) ****

  94. After the Fox (1966) ****

  95. Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995) ***   

Books AKIC Read in 2015

  1. The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas

  2. Paradoxes of Catholicism by Robert Hugh Benson

  3. The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch

  4. Four Quartets by TS Eliot

  5. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

  6. Wisdom of the East: Buddhist Psalms by Shinran Shonin

  7. Father Brown Stories by GK Chesterton

  8. Henry IV Part 1 by William Shakespeare

  9. Aphorisms by Nicolas Gomez Davila

  10. Stalin, Volume 1 by Stephen Kotkin

  11. On Nothing and Kindred Subjects by Hilaire Belloc

  12. The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse

  13. The Lord by Romano Guardini

  14. On Hope by Josef Pieper

  15. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

  16. The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle by Jane Leavy

  17. The First World War by John Keegan

  18. God and Stephen Hawking by John Lennox

  19. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

  20. Season Ticket by Roger Angell

  21. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed The World by Margaret McMillan

  22. The World of Silence by Max Picard

  23. The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss

  24. Confessions of A Failed Slut by Kathy Shaidle

  25. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu

  26. God Rides a Yamaha by Kathy Shaidle

  27. A Humane Economy by Wilhem Ropke

  28. Lumen by Ben Pastor

  29. Clinton Cash by Peter Schweitzer

  30. Twenty Years of Balkan Tangle by M.E. Durham

  31. In the Land of the Serb by M.E. Durham

  32. Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan

  33. Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger

  34. Inca Land/ Explorations in the Highlands of Peru by Hiram Bingham

  35. Come Rack! Come Rope! by Robert Hugh Benson

  36. Adios America by Anne Coulter

  37. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott

  38. Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas

  39. Groucho and Me by Groucho Marx

  40. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed The World by Margaret McMillan

  41. The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz

  42. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  43. The Confessions of Saint Augustine by St. Augustine

  44. Native Realm by Czeslaw Milosz

  45. The Liturgical Year (Time After Pentecost Book V) by Abbot Prosper Gueranger

  46. Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh

  47. The Splendour of the Church by Henri de Lubac

  48. Whatever by Michel Houellebecq

  49. Aphorisms by Nicolás Gómez Davila

  50. To Begin Where I Am by Czeslaw Milosz

  51. Paradise Lost by John Milton

  52. The Liturgical Year (Time After Pentecost Book VI) by Abbot Prosper Gueranger

  53. China by John Keay

  54. The Moral and Intellectual Diversity of Races by comte de Arthur Gobineau

  55. The Liturgical Year: Advent by Abbot Prosper Gueranger

  56. Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Beliefs by Peter Kreeft