Showing posts with label Youth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Youth. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween Night in Changsha, China

Five years ago I shared photos from Changsha, Hunan, indicating Halloween's growing popularity in China, and two years ago I shared a similar set of photos from Shaoguan in Guangdong province.

This year I was in Changsha yet again for the holiday. Later I will post more about the business/marketing side of Halloween. But first, below are some Halloween night photos from an area covering Hualongchi to Taiping Street which has several pedestrian streets and many shopping centers, restaurants, and bars. The photos range from children in costumes to people selling Halloween-related items to a dance club's spruced-up entrance. The last photo reflects that most people who were out weren't dressed up for Halloween. It didn't necessarily stop them from having a good time though.

two young women dressed up for Halloween in Changsha

two young men dressed up for Halloween in Changsha

two children dressed up for Halloween in Changsha

woman selling Halloween-related items in Changsha

young woman dressed up for Halloween in Changsha

young man dressed up for Halloween in Changsha

two young women dressed up for Halloween buying corn in Changsha

Halloween-themed entrance to the Muse dance club in Changsha

young woman dressed up for Halloween in Changsha

three children wearing Halloween masks in Changsha

disposed Halloween mask in Changsha

young men enjoying a late night meal outside in Changsha

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Lightsabers in Hong Kong

During the recent New Year's celebrations in Hong Kong I didn't notice any pro-democracy yellow umbrellas, but I did see people carrying lightsabers.

people carrying lightsabers and a Captain America shield across an intersection in Hong Kong

Since several rather different possibilities come to mind, readers are free to find any symbolism in the scene on their own. Clearly, though, Captain America was enjoying the "sweet taste of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs" that night.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Another College Student's Part-time Job on a Street in Changsha

On Huangxing Middle Road in Changsha last week, I saw a college student handing out leaflets. As I passed by she paused before handing one to me. After I looked at the leaflet in her hand we both laughed. It advertised an English language school.

female college student handing out leaflets in Changsha

She reminded me of a college student I met in Changsha three years ago. Both students handed out leaflets as a part-time job but the pay has changed, increasing from 40 yuan to 50 yuan (U.S. $7.84) for four hours of work — a sign of how paper leaflets remain a common way of advertising and how labor costs have risen in China.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Complicated Romances and Bloodthirsty Pencils: Two New Chinese Movie Posters

Two of the movie posters outside a theater at the Fengdu Road Pedestrian Street in Shaoguan especially caught my eye during recent days. One, for the poses and expressions:

movie poster for Youth Never Returns (既然青春留不住) in Shaoguan, China

Youth Never Returns (既然青春留不住) premiered at the Montreal Film Festival, which provides this synopsis:
When Wang Jinhui enters university, he immediately becomes one of its most popular students, certainly to the girls. But not Zhou Hui. When he asks her to help him cheat in exams, she reports him instead. Still, she does help him study, and eventually they warm to each other. They become a couple. An unsteady couple, with ups and downs -- lovers, enemies, lovers again. And finally a breakup. Years later, having become a successful restaurant operator, Wang Jinhui learns about Zhou Hui’s ill health. He comes to help, but once again they separate. Is there one more reconciliation in the cards?
And if Wang Jinhui now becomes ill, will Zhou Hui run the restaurant in his absence? Or given how the cheating incident worked out, will she instead report him for tax evasion to help rekindle their love yet again? Indeed, more ups and downs could be in store. Youth Never Returns opens in China on October 23. If offered free tickets, popcorn, and really good beer, I will consider going.

The other movie poster caught my attention because it reminded me of the Death is Here 3 movie poster I saw last year in Zhanjiang. Yes, folks, the terrifying giant pencil is back.

movie poster for Campus Mystery (笔仙魔咒) in Shaoguan, China

In addition to gratuitous cleavage, other movie posters for Campus Mystery (笔仙魔咒) include gratuitous gore, upskirt views, and water. I haven't yet seen them displayed in Shaoguan.

For reasons I can't explain, this movie did not premier at the Montreal Film Festival, so I will not share a proper synopsis. Instead, I will share a guess about the plot:
After Wang Jinhui enters university, an evil giant pencil convinces him to cheat in exams. But Zhou Hui, his occasional lover who has an interest in tax law, discovers it isn't a number 2 pencil as required and . . .
Wait, maybe I shouldn't confuse films. Anyway, whatever the real plot, if any, presumably a really big pencil appears in the movie, which is all you can ask for. Campus Mystery opened in China last Friday, and I will consider seeing it as well, assuming similar conditions. Given my curiosity about the pencil, though, I am willing to forfeit the popcorn and beer in a plastic bag is good enough.

These two movies probably don't best represent the overall state of movie-making in China today, but they still remind me of a recent conversation I had about Chinese movies with a high school student in Zhongshan. She said she used to only enjoy foreign movies. But now she was finding more Chinese movies she enjoyed and believed they were getting much better. She is definitely not alone in her opinion

On its opening weekend in China, Campus Mystery didn't captivate as many viewers as a number of other movies and only grossed U.S. $840,000. Recent domestic success stories for the Chinese film industry, comedies Goodbye Mr. Loser and Lost in Hong Kong, fared much better though. And showing that ants can trump pencils, even in a market clearly gamed to benefit domestic films, the foreign film Ant-Men, also opening in China this past weekend, came in number one grossing over $43 million.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More National Day in Zhongshan: War Ground, Budweiser, and Fake Sprouts

On this last day of the long holiday, light mention of three more things (other things here, here, and here) which caught my attention in Zhongshan, Guangdong, on National Day:

1. Earlier this year in Zhongshan I saw a Women's Day sale at the military-themed clothing store War Ground. So it wasn't surprising they also had a National Day sale.

I wonder whether they will have a Christmas sale.

2. I didn't see anything specifically mentioning National Day, but along with some other nearby temporary tents a Budweiser promotional tent appeared to be targeting the holiday crowds. Although it declared "Made for Music", any time I passed by I only saw Western movies offered as entertainment.

Budweiser products were available as well. Some of the people who watched the movies even drank them.

3. As seen in one of the photos in an earlier post, a new fad in China has made its way to Zhongshan. Sometimes referred to as fake sprouts, a wide range of plantlike hair pins are now available. On National Day they appeared to be selling well, as they were elsewhere in China, and I saw many younger people with fake plants sticking out of their head.

I gave it pass. I did have visions of wearing an entire bonsai tree on my head though.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today's Interview Subject in Zhuhai: Me

the female college students, one wearing a "LOVE" hat, in Zhuhai

While I waited for a meal at a Singaporean restaurant at a mall in Zhuhai today, three college students approached and asked if they could interview me. They were all business English majors and as part of a class project needed to interview foreigners in English. Considering all of the impromptu interviews I have conducted in China myself, I figured this could be a small way to do something more in return. As I was about to agree one of them added, "Oh, and we need to video record the interview."

In similar situations in the past students had simply requested a photo, but their teacher desired more compelling evidence. After I commented the video request was rather unusual, one student shared that all of the foreigners they previously found had refused upon learning about it. I wasn't at all surprised. And the student added that if she was similarly approached while in another country, she would respond int he same way.

Still, I decided to submit myself to their questioning. But I felt inspired to add a stipulation: the one student would lend me her hat to wear during the interview. We had a deal.

After I finished my meal, the interview was recorded on a Huawei mobile phone. The questions were light and typical, such as "What's your favorite city in China?" Soon they had sufficient material and stopped recording, though the conversation continued afterwards with me now taking the opportunity to ask a few questions. It isn't an interview I would want shared with the world, especially in video form, but I will likely survive if it isn't deleted as promised. Hopefully none of it appears out of context in a surprise China Daily piece.

The students' challenges reflects a tension in China between schools seeing value in their students speaking with fluent (or more fluent) English speakers yet seemingly not valuing it enough to invest money to make it happen more regularly in environments where "natural" opportunities are few. More thoughts on this issue another day.

And yes, I really wore the hat.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Uncle Sam Wants Some Students from Hengyang

When I visited the University of South China in Hengyang earlier this year, I was surprised to see a familiar uncle.

Poster with Uncle Sam and the words "I WANT YOU!" on a chain-linked fence

But Uncle Sam wasn't recruiting people for the U.S. Army Instead, the poster claimed to be advertising paid internships available in the U.S.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scenes from University of South China and Xiangtan University

In the spirit of the shouts and photos of recent university graduates in China, I will share some photos I took during brief visits a couple of months ago to two universities in Hunan province — University of South China in Hengyang and Xiangtan University in Xiangtan. They are focused mostly on buildings and landscape and represent only a small part of each university. Many of the taller buildings in the background of the University of South China photos are from the surrounding neighborhood. Like many other universities in China, Xiangtan University was not located in an urban area.

University of South China:

Xiangtan University:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Compute Actions Louder Than Words

The winds of change have blown across Beijing yet again.

Not only did students at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management not chant "revive the A shares, benefit the people; revive the A shares, benefit the people" at their graduation ceremony, but they also did not chant the updated slogan "Actions speak louder than words, shoulder responsibility, be innovative, benefit the people." Perhaps the university considered the point I made about the phrase "Actions speak louder than words".

Cecilia Li in Sinosphere reports they instead shouted, "Tsinghua S.E.M., benefit the people!" It doesn't seem as poetic as the previous versions or as creative as pink ribbon graduation photos.

Fortunately, slogans shouted by other schools proved to be a little more interesting. My favorite is the one shouted by the School of Information Science and Technology: "Compute lives! Compute the world! Compute the future!" I can't help but think that adding "Compute this!" at the end would have spruced things up even more.

Strangling Pink Ribbons and Vigorous Elves Appear on Graduation Day in China

Although People's Daily got it wrong in connecting No-Bra day to health risks, at least the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper has drawn a bit of attention to breast cancer prevention elsewhere. For example, in one series of related photos People's Daily explained:
Recently, several college graduates wearing pink ribbons took photos in Shandong University to advocate the "International activity of breast cancer prevention" and commemorate their university lives.
The details of how the graduates advocated the cause raise some questions though. Here is one of the photos:

six young women wearing pink dress holding a large pink "ribbon" which is wrapped around a young man's neck

I would like to explain the symbolism, other than the color of the cloth, in the scene and how it relates to breast cancer awareness.

However, I cannot.

For some useful context, though, People's Daily once again comes to the rescue. Here is a photo from another series, this one titled "Creative graduation caps of ‘vigorous elves’":

group of young women standing in formation and pulling out their shirts with one hand and looking down

I would like to explain the symbolism in the scene and how it relates to, well, anything.

However, once again, I cannot.

But People's Daily does offer this explanation:
Graduates from Nanjing University of the Arts pose for a group of creative graduation photos in their ballet costume on June 30, 2015. The history of the university can be traced back to the year of 1912.
I would like to explain why the date of the university's founding was mentioned.

However, yet again, I cannot.

More relevant here is that both sets of photos are examples of a common practice in China — students finding fun ways to make graduation photos more creative and memorable. And in this respect, it is hard to argue with the results of either photo.

I would like to explain why such photos receive the amount and type of attention they do from the People's Daily.

I have some guesses, however . . .

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tsinghua University Graduates to Now Shout "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" in Beijing

Yesterday I expressed hope to see a video of Tsinghua University graduates shouting "revive the A shares, benefit the people; revive the A shares, benefit the people" tomorrow as required by their school. Sadly, or happily, the event won't occur.

The South China Morning Post reported today today that the slogan was originally submitted by students as a joke. Although an official e-mail notice from the school stated students would be expected to shout the slogan, after news about it broke the school sent another notice stating that the slogan had not been officially approved. Some have suggested that the school had been playing along with the students' joke and was simply caught off guard when the issue became known to the public. Others don't buy that story and believe the school genuinely thought the slogan was a great idea.

In either case, the new slogan is "Actions speak louder than words, shoulder responsibility, be innovative, benefit the people." Presumably this slogan is not intended as a joke. So perhaps when students shout "Actions speak louder than words" they will think of the words in one of my most favorite articles in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China:
Article 35 Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
Congrats to this year's graduates all across China, whatever they may be shouting.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Seeing Fame in Changsha

A bit of fame I saw Saturday night in Changsha:

young man wearing shirt with "FAME 08" on the back with a young woman

A bit of Fame I didn't see (or hear) Saturday night in Changsha:

[on YouTube]

In fact, I have never seen dancing like that (it really gets going just after one minute into the video) any night in Changsha. I have seen other styles of choreographed dancing here, though, including at the previously described pole dancing school. More about the non-pole style of dancing I have seen, often as part of mobile phone promotions, another time.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Shooting Rubber Covered Pockets of Air in Hengyang

On nights in May and June last year, I often saw people shooting balloons set up by various game operators at a multileveled riverside area in Hengyang.

young woman and man shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

several people shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

two people shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

three young women shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

And on one occasion, I saw people taking a creative, if not riskier, approach to the game.

two men shooting balloons from the side at night in Hengyang, China

When I returned to Hengyang this month, I saw that the balloon shooting remained a popular activity.

shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

Thanks to several friendly conversations last year, one of the game operators even recognized me and provided a hearty welcome back.

Like some sunken boats, the game was something that hadn't changed much in Hengyang over the past year. Though as one game operator set up for the night, I noticed a type of change common in Hengyang underway across the river.

woman setting up balloons to shoot with tall buildings under construction in the background

Friday, January 16, 2015

Activities At Scenic Chaotianmen: Outdoor Karaoke

At the scenic Chaotianmen docks in Chongqing yesterday, I saw two men setting up a portable karaoke system in front of a scene which has changed significantly during the past 6 years.

man setting up a portable karaoke station at Chaotianmen.

Elsewhere at the docks, I saw another man showcasing his karaoke offerings as well.

man singing at a temporary karaoke station on the steps at Chaotianmen Dock.

Nearby on the steps, I spoke to two college students visiting from Xi'an, China, wearing newly purchased flower headbands.

two Chinese female college students wearing flower headbands

When I later walked by the same area again, the students were the first paying customers I saw at the temporary karaoke stations.

female college student singing karaoke outdoors at Chaotianmen Docks

For singing two songs, they paid 10 RMB (about US $1.60).

Activity at the outdoor karaoke stations may have picked in the evening when people come for river cruises to take in more of the city's rapidly evolving skyline lit up at night.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dance Dance Revolution from Shanghai to 1812

Dance games similar to Dance Dance Revolution are popular in many video arcades I have seen in China. An arcade in the trendy underground D Mall in Shanghai has several. When I took a look today, most were in use, and some had people sitting in a row of chairs waiting to play.

people playing a dance video game in D-Mall in Shanghai

people playing dance video games in D-Mall in Shanghai

girl wearing a face mask playing Dance Evolution at D-Mall in Shanghai

Dancing games aren't my thing, so I didn't jump in. But recently a new online version of Dance Dance Revolution caught my interest.

screen shot from Dance Dance Revolution: 1812 Overture Edition

As described in Classic FM:
Ever wanted to be in the percussion section of an orchestra for the epic final bars of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture? Who wouldn't? All those firing cannons, thundering drums and crashing cymbals are just fantastic. Not to mention the full orchestra and rapturous audience in front of you.

The viral news site Us vs Th3m has created a game that lets you control the greatest percussive cacophony in music history.
I am not convinced the 1812 Overture is the greatest percussive cacophony in music history, but it makes a great choice for the game. Given my musical training, at first I found it odd I wasn't able to achieve a perfect score. The excerpt is not unusually difficult compared to other classical music, and the game allows a far greater degree of rhythmic freedom than most conductors would deem acceptable. After focusing on the music instead of the screen, I realized the visual cues, which aren't the way I am used to reading music, were sometimes causing me to hit the keys more quickly than the actual rhythms. So I tried playing more "by ear". My performance immediately improved, and I found 1812 glory. Perhaps there are some interesting perceptual/cognitive/motor issues to explore.

Whatever the case, you can play "Dance Dance Revolution: 1812 Overture Edition" here. Bonus points if you can explain how it is possible to score higher than the perfect score of 1812*.

* I have scored 1844, and see others have as well, but not sure how. I suspect it involves the series of triplets in the cymbal crashes.