Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Dalian Ding

Earlier this year I posted a photo of some children under a large ding in Taiyuan. More recently in Dalian, I saw another large ding — this one of the four-legged variety. Although it stands in the middle of a pedestrian street, during my brief time in the area I didn't catch any moments of people walking or sitting underneath.

Large ding on a pedestrian-only section of Tianjin Street in Dalian, China
Large ding on a pedestrian-only section of Tianjin Street in Dalian

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bowing and Waving: Contrasting Statues of Japanese Prime Ministers in China

Steve George, a journalist for CNN International, recently commented on a photo of a statue at a mall in Northeast China.

statue of Abe Shinzo with a Hitler-style mustache and bowing

I wasn't surprised to see how Shinzo was depicted or to later discover that the mall is in Shenyang, where six years ago I saw rows of statues depicting the "disgraceful end of the Japanese aggressors" — all in a similar pose — at a museum.

However, the photo also reminded me of a contrasting set of statues I saw several weeks ago between a Starbucks and a Burger King at the ICITY shopping center in Dalian, another city in Liaoning province.

The statues of five world leaders, past and present, were all clearly labeled.

statue of Barack Obama in Dalian, China
"President of the U.S.: Barack Obama"

statue of Nicolas Sarkozy in Dalian, China
"President of France: Nicolas Sarkozy"

statue of Vladimir Putin in Dalian, China
"Prime Minister of Russia: Vladimir Putin"

statue of Bill Clinton in Dalian, China
"President of the U.S.: Bill Clinton"

statue of Junichiro Koizumi in Dalian, China
"Prime Minister of Japan: Junichiro Koizumi"

Obama and Putin were the only current leaders of the set, and Putin is now the President of Russia. It was the statue of the previous Prime Minister of Japan which most caught my eye. Unlike the statue in Shenyang, the design showed no sign of humiliation or apology. Or even a Hitler mustache. Instead, the statue of Koizumi was on equal footing with the others and greeted shoppers as they exited one of the two facing elevators.

elevator doors at the ICITY shopping center in Dalian, China

The statue in Shenyang reflects the anti-Japanese sentiment common in China. But as Chinese traveling to Japan during a Victory Over Japan holiday last year indicated, the full story of Chinese attitudes towards the country and its people is complicated. The statue of the Japanese prime minister in Dalian appears to be representative of a more positive side.

Koizumi did have some small scruff marks though.

statues of world leaders at a mall in Dalian, China

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Two Cats in Dalian

Posting photos of a dog wearing a dinosaur outfit and a dog with pigeons in Dalian has led to some critical feedback. It can be summed up as "Where are the cats?" Based on previous experience, I shouldn't be surprised.

So . . . this photo includes a cat I saw at Olympic Square in Dalian:

black cat hiding behind bushes at Olympic Square in Dalian

The cat apparently didn't want to be seen.

And this photo includes a cat I saw at Tuanjie Street in Dalian:

cat sitting next to a railing at Tuanjie Street in Dalian

The cat apparently didn't mind being seen. It did mind me trying to get close.

I hope these photos have brought some Dalian-style animal balance to the world. Onto other matters next.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Dog Not Looking for Pigeons or Criticism in Dalian

For better or worse, I only saw one small dog in Dalian wearing a dinosaur outfit. I did see other dogs in the city, though, including one dog peacefully coexisting with many pigeons at Zhongshan Square.

small dog standing next to many pigeons at Zhongshan Square in Dalian, China

The dog was friendly when approached and minded its own business. Nonetheless, with clear disgust on her face a woman with a child bluntly asked the dog's owner why the dog was so fat. The owner appeared to be taken aback by the question.

I didn't catch the mumbled reply, and I wonder what sort of answer the woman was expecting. I will admit part of me wishes the owner had said with a straight face, "She likes eating the pigeons."

Dalian Dinosaur Dog Spotted

I may have spent too much time reading about U.S. politics this evening. So to clear my mind, and perhaps yours as well, here is a colorfully-dressed dog I noticed (and which noticed me) one recent afternoon in Dalian, a city in Liaoning province to the south of Shenyang.

small dog wearing a polkadot dinosaur outfit in Dalian, China

The Stegosaurus-like plates led me to assume the dog was wearing a dinosaur outfit. I wish the hood had been extended so its full glory was on display, but you don't always get what you want. At least I had the opportunity to cross paths with the dinodog.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book and Magazine Messages About Trump in Hong Kong

I don't know for sure if the Eslite bookstore in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, deliberately arranged some of the books for sale to express a message.

"The Myth of the Rational Voter" and Donald Trump's "Great Again" displayed next to each other

It would be harder to claim the message on a cover to a Taiwanese business magazine available in Hong Kong wasn't deliberate.

magazine cover with Donald Trump's head in a mushroom cloud explosion

That's all.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Birthday Fanfare for the Common Man

I haven't done a music-related post in a long time. I thought of this because it was recently brought to my attention today is American composer Aaron Copland's birthday. He lived from November 14, 1900, to December 2, 1990.

So below is a video of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man (1942). A portion of the piece was performed at the celebration for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States in 2009. The recording below is from farther in the past — 1958. Leonard Bernstein provides a brief introduction before Aaron Copland himself conducts the New York Philharmonic.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

The U.S. Election, China, and Blogging

I have been asked about the reaction in China to the recent U.S. presidential election. I point people towards "What the Chinese State Thinks About President Trump" on China Digital Times, in part because it refers to a number of relevant pieces.

There is much value in understanding people's perspective on the U.S. election, and it is rather relevant to some of my interests. But I have not dedicated much time asking people in China about the election, mostly because after spending so much of my own time on it, I wanted to focus on other things when "out in the field" — yes, even including Halloween pizzas.

And I saw reasons to focus on other topics here. For example, I remembered readers back in 2012 telling me they appreciated having a place to get away from election news, commentary, and discussion. Elections are important, but so is relative sanity. Had China come up in the election in a way where I thought I could add something to what was already out there, I would have. Overall, I figured my 1 or 2 cents to the world would be better spent focused on things more closely related to my current explorations in China.

The election's effect on posts here was mostly in reducing their numbers or depth. Admittedly the election absorbed a significant portion of my mental energy and time, perhaps too much in respect to what I could or did contribute and how much it could influence that — interesting questions there in general. It mattered a lot though.

Anyway, back to things tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Trump, Kaine, and "Lock Her Up": An Unexpected Conversation at a Fitting Location in China

Chinese man and Irishman standing in China with North Korean mountains in the background

A few weeks ago in Northeast China while I walked alongside a river somebody shouted at me "Do you speak English?"

I looked over and saw two men. I replied "I hope so!"

I soon learned that one of the men was Irish and visiting China. The other was Chinese and had grown up in the local area but had spent 15 years living in Ireland. The Irishman asked me about my nationality. After answering, his immediate followup question was "Will you be able to go back to vote?"

He wasn't asking out of idle curiosity. Like some other non-American foreigners I have recently bumped into in China, he expressed great concern over the U.S. presidential election and the ramifications it would have on the rest of the world. He feared Donald Trump winning. When the Irishman called the election "crazy", my mind immediately went to something I would have hoped to never experience — a U.S. presidential candidate declaring that if they won their opponent would go to jail and saying "lock her up" in response to a chanting, supportive crowd.

I briefly thought about politics in the place where I was standing. I also thought about the mountains within view on the other side of the river. I had never been so close to them before. Now they seemed closer in a more figurative sense as well.

Regarding the nearby town next to the mountains, the Chinese man shared reports from locals of how 600 people had died there during a flood several months earlier. Even from our own vantage point, it was apparent they had far less to protect themselves from floods. Life is different on the other side of the river.

Fortunately, the conversation included many cheerier moments. To my surprise, the Irishman had several fascinating stories to share about his connections to the Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, who has strong Irish roots. Based on his account, many in Ireland are proud of Kaine.

Soon it was time to part ways, and the three of us took a photo together. Afterwards, the Irishman asked, "Is it OK to share the photo? Do people know you are here?"

I pointed across the river and joked, "I think they know I'm here." I gestured to our side and added, "They know I'm here."

They both laughed. And then I asked if I could take a photo of just the two of them. They stood next to each other in front of some trees. I suggested they stand in another location so I could get a different angle. The Irishman immediately recognized why and agreed it was better.

It wasn't usual for either of us to be just across the river from a town and mountains in North Korea.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Some of the Halloween Spirit in Shenyang

Pizza Hut's Black Halloween Pizza wasn't the only sign of Halloween in Shenyang, China. For example, there was a house of mirrors at the Forum 66 shopping mall.

Halloween activity at the Forum 66 shopping mall in Shenyang, China

The Palace 66 shopping mall had a little more.

Halloween activities at the Palace 66 shopping mall in Shenyang, China
The bare shoulder is part of a non-Halloween Häagen-Dazs advertisement

The Halloween festivities included a "haunted playground".

Halloween haunted house at the Palace 66 shopping mall in Shenyang, China

There was also a somewhat macabre merry-go-round.

Halloween Merry-Go-Round at the Palace 66 shopping mall in Shenyang, China

The Xinglong Happy Family shopping mall at the Zhong Jie Pedestrian Street had one of the larger outdoor displays.

Outdoor Halloween display at the Happy Family shopping mall in Shenyang, China

The vast majority of places displayed no Halloween spirit, but I saw other examples, mostly at shopping centers, restaurants, and a hair salon or two. This year, sadly, there will be no Halloween night report. I had left Shenyang by then and my next location was unusually cold that night. For some Chinese Halloween night scenes,  though, there is last year's post from Shaoguan far to south.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pizza Hut Celebrates Halloween with a Spidery Black Pizza in China

One of my interests involves seeing how Western companies localize their products and services in China. Sometimes that leads to culinary explorations during holidays, such as trying McDonald's Year of Fortune Burger for the Lunar New Year when I was in Chongqing. Halloween is another holiday which offers possibilities.

Last year in Shaoguan, Guangdong, I noted that a Halloween promotion at Pizza Hut featuring M&M's didn't include an M&M's pizza. So there was no special pizza for me that day. But things change . . . This year, Pizza Hut once again had a Halloween promotion, which I saw while in Shenyang, Liaoning. Instead of M&M's, Vamplets were the main characters accompanying the "Black Halloween" spirit.

promotion for Pizza Hut's Black Halloween specials in China

Like last year, there were fingers on the special Halloween menu, although the ingredients weren't the same. More importantly to me, the menu had a special pizza which screamed to be tried.

Pizza Hut's Black Halloween menu in China

The menu says the Black Halloween Pizza (暗黑魔法烤肉比萨) is made with cuttlefish powder. Like their close relatives, squid, cuttlefish can shoot ink. Given the black coloring of the pizza, I assume cuttlefish ink is at least one ingredient in the powder. Whatever the case, of course I ordered the pizza.

Pizza Hut's Black Halloween Pizza (暗黑魔法烤肉比萨) in China

Yes, there is a spider on the pizza. This is not the first time I have encountered a spider on a Pizza Hut pizza. Decades ago at a Pizza Hut in Pennsylvania, US, my brother discovered a spider baked into our pizza's cheese. It wasn't Halloween and spiders weren't listed as an ingredient for the pizza, so the folks at Pizza Hut made appropriate amends. Unlike that spider, the spider on the Black Halloween Pizza is made out of the black dough. Too bad, since it has been a while since I have eaten large spiders.

The black pizza dough spider deserves a closeup look.

black dough spider on the Black Halloween Pizza at Pizza Hut in China

The pizza includes New Orleans Roasted Chicken, which seems to be a common thing in China, even if not in New Orleans, and pumpkin as well. The spider web is made out of a mayonnaise so sweet that . . . well, I did my best to scrape it off. There is no tomato pizza sauce, which may be why the waitress brought out some ketchup. I was more happy to see the unrequested appearance of Tabasco sauce. Well done, waitress. It really helped.

Tabasco sauce, Kraft grated parmesan cheese, and ketchup

Overall, I liked the Black Halloween Pizza more than the pizza with New Orleans style toppings I had along with Pizza Hut's durian pizza in Jieyang, Guangdong. The pumpkin was a welcomed change of pace, but I don't think I will be craving the Black Halloween Pizza anytime in the future, unlike Mr. Panda's black Inkfish Pizza, which I tried in Shanghai.

Maybe next year Pizza Hut will go with real spiders as a topping for a Halloween pizza. I would definitely give it a try.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Many Faces Around the Mao Zedong Statue in Shenyang

Mao Zedong statue at Zhongshan Square in Shenyang, China

The statue of Mao Zedong at in Zhongshan Square in Shenyang is remarkable for its size and how it fits in with a skyline that continues to be altered by new tall buildings. And on many days, smog adds adds to the effect. The figures surrounding Mao are what caught my attention the most though. The photos below begin at the front and go around in a counter-clockwise direction. There is a lot going on, and I won't try to suggest what most deserves attention or what to take from it all. But the dense scenes are worth a closer look.

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China

figures surrounding the Mao Zedong statue in Shenyang, China