Saturday, June 30, 2018

What Wuxi, China Locals Know about Canada

It was Dominion Day's eve.

What do you know about Canada? I asked some students. One student, who was the most articulate of the group, admitted he knew nothing. So you never heard of the place till now? I jokingly asked the student. The others said things about Canada having kangaroos and it being the largest country in the world.

Famous Canadians? The group couldn't think of any. I had to remind them of Norman Bethune (oh yes, that guy, they said, after I explained who he was.), Justin Bieber and Celine Dion (students in the past when asked this question mentioned these two).

Who's the Canadian leader? No one knew. Showing them a picture of the PM with Xi Jing Ping, they remarked how young Justin Trudeau was.

What do Canadians like to do? Most said they didn't know. One Student said ski and drink beer. The second half of that answer was a result of my giving the student leading questions. One other student said Canadians liked ice ball, which is the literal translation of the Mandarin word for Ice Hockey. In all my years of querying students about their knowledge of Canada, this was the first time a student mentioned hockey.

What are Canadians like? Most couldn't say. One student did say awesome. (But one learns to discount compliments from Chinese. ) No one said polite or boring. (One student did call me boring the day before but they should have said bored. Boredom is something one must fight when spending time with the locals.)

Finally, one word to describe Canada? Beautiful and cold. That much they knew. or

Friday, June 22, 2018

Are World Cup Football/Soccer/Kickball Players All a Bunch of Snowflakes?

Some say Football, some say Soccer, I say Kickball.

My son Tony & I are following the World Cup; though to be honest I am watching much more of it than him.  I have also been listening to American Conservative commentators who have been mocking the World Cup.  I wince as they do so because I, as I said in a previous entry, I have been watching the WC since 1974.  There are some good things to be said about the game of Kickball, like how it takes less than two hours to play a normal match and how, unlike Ice Hockey, most of the goals do have a build up to them.  But the cricitisms of Kickball that the conservative commentators have made, about its lack of scoring, the power of its referees to influence games by awarding or not awarding penalty kicks, and the annoying habit of the players to act melodramtically after collisions, are valid.

The latter criticism is particularly valid because the melodramatics ruin the flow of a Kickball game in the manner that constant commercials ruin the flow of NFL games.  But at least in the NFL where players are being hit directly with greater force, you never ever see or even begin to suspect that an injured NFL player is faking it.  In fact, the players in the NFL who suffer concussions never flop around after doing so.  An NFL player will also get up after a collision and get in position for the next play without the need to do the funky chicken.  [NFL players usually only flop around after their score touchdowns.] Kickball players need only to be tapped by an opponent and they begin to become very aggrieved.  It is enough to make one think that most Kickball players are snowflakes, and that Americans of the progressive political persuasion see Kickball players as their kind of people.

So it is out of habit and an unfailing Charlie-Brown-and-Lucy-with-the-football optimism, I watch the World Cup.  Often I find, like during that Brazil-Italy WC final played in Pasadena, myself cheering for someone -- it doesn't matter from which team -- to score a goal because I want the game and the tournament to be better than it actually is.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Oh My! I Better Get Out of this Intersection!

In a book I read recently entitled "What's Wrong with China" [The 100 year old version, not the one that has been recently published], Rodney Gilbert wrote how a Chinese person would go about his day oblivious to those around them.  What Gilbert observed over a hundred years ago, is still true today, as any foreigner who has driven, ridden or walked in Modern China would testify.

This selfish tendency on the part of Chinese is such that it behooves me to even write about it anymore because I don't want to sound like a broken record.  And yet I will see a local take the obliviousness to a level that I just have to record it in this blog.  

Late June 2018, early morning, it's rush hour, I am driving Tony to school, I am stopped at an intersection and the light is about to change to green.  Just before it does so, I see a male pedestrian, middle-aged, walking in the center of the intersection.  The light then turning green causes car engines to rev and car horns to blare which in turn causes the pedestrian to look around and notice that two lanes of cars are coming toward him from his left and right, and to think that he'd better pick up his pace and get out of the intersection.

I could only shake my head as I swerved to avoid hitting him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tony is Happy that England Beat Tunisia

I followed the recent NHL playoffs by watching these four to six minute long recap videos, of recently-played games, that were available on the NHL app.  With the actual games taking over two hours to play and my having better things to do with my time, the recap videos were a godsend.  They showed the best part of the games and saved me from having to sit through the much more numerous boring parts.

These similar sort of highlight videos are available for matches currently taking place in the World Cup.  However, they are not easy for me to find on Youku, the Chinese version of Youtube.  I have to scroll through video upon video of selected game moment highlights before I can find the proper recap video.  These videos , once found, have been about four to five minutes in length.  You can see all that was interesting in the match without having to see all that wasn't, like the player collisions that resulted in melodramatics from hurt players, the wildly optimistic shots at goal that veered a mile off target, and the passing of the ball about in midfield.

I showed one of these short videos for Tony of the match between England and Tunisia.  His rooting interest was with England, and so I didn't tell him the score was and just let him watch.  When he saw the game winning goal scored by England, he was very excited like any Kickball fan would be when a goal was scored by his team.  

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tony's Interested in the World Cup!

I knew the World Cup was coming and so I put a World Cup app on my phone.

My son Tony then told me that he was interested in the tournament and that he wanted to watch some of the matches.  And so I put the World Cup app on his phone.  This interest of his seemingly came out of the blue.  I hadn't planned on even mentioning to him that the tournament was taking place.  Where this interest came from I can only conjecture. Was it his classmates?  A teacher at school or at his numerous after-school places?

When I was Tony's age, I remember watching the coverage on the 1974 World Cup.  1974 was the second year that I was into sports.  This interest was the result, I recall, from my father buying me a Toronto Maple Leafs table hockey game for Christmas in 1972.  It was his attempt to turn me into a Leafs fan.  It quickly failed because I instead became enamoured with the Montreal Canadiens.  I watched a lot of their 1973 Stanley Cup run although I have distinct memories of being forced to go to bed early on the night they clinched the cup.  Anyway, the point of that digression is that on my own, I developed my own sports interests.  And Tony has done the same, though I wonder if actually watching a Kickball* match would bore him.

In the World Cup, I will be cheering for Poland; the Poland that I imagine is reactionary and Catholic.  You can click here to see for whom Tony will be cheering.

*It is from David Warren that I call that sport, being played in the World Cup, Kickball.  I don't like calling it soccer because that word is gay, and I don't call it football because the Americans already have a sport called Football.  I wouldn't want to argue with some Football players about the semantics or syntax of their calling their sport Football because most of them are two or three times as big as Kickball players.