Chinese State Humor Writers Rule
One of the simple joys of life in Beijing is picking up a copy of the English language state paper, the China Daily, to read the Olympic coverage. Just about every story in every section is about how frickin awesome!!!!! these Olympics are, although in fairness today's front page also had 41 words on new data showing that inflation just reached a 12-year high. I'm probably not fit judge the paper's hard news writers, but they definitely have some of the toppest-notch humor writers I've ever seen employed at a state daily.
For example, from today's sidebar about Michael Phelps being rescued in the relay by his teammate:
"The former kid from the mean streets of Baltimore was about to have a dream shattered again."
Streets don't get meaner than Towson's. Well, maybe Aberdeen. Those streets are angry mean.
Then there was the business section story yesterday about the official Chinese corporate sponsors of these games, and how frickin awesome!!!!! they are:
"After landing in the host city, as one walks into one of the innumerable restaurants in Beijing, the wait staff is most likely to recommend Yanjing beer, not because it is one of the Olympic sponsors, but because it happens to be the thirst buster of choice for the most Beijingers."
And coincidentally, just this morning I took a photo of myself with a Kodak camera while slathering my body in Johnson and Johnson products and pouring both Coca Cola and Fanta over my head, but not because they're some of the Olympic sponsors.
Today's Life section story on Olympic revelry, titled "Celebrate good times, c'mon!" talked about watching the Opening Ceremonies at a bar.
"Immediately after the ceremony ended, two bikini-clad go-go dancers leapt atop the bar counter and began waving Chinese national flags while joggling their hips. The nightspot suddenly erupted into a dance party."
Hip joggling? Scandal! Page 5 today had four stories; they included "Tiny singer wins heart of nation" and "Two lift hearts of Chinese people." But bear in mind that there are more than a billion hearts to be lifted and won, so people can share.
One of today's two special Olympic sections had an item titled "Fuwa underwear causes stink," which reported that many customers were unwilling to buy underwear with images of the Olympic mascots "because they thought the panties were an insult to the 'blessed image of the Fuwa.' " Another item reported that "A couple in their 70s from Shenzhen have created a moving Olympic vase out of waste paper."
Today's weather story predicted that "cool weather will continue" and that "stifling heat heat is highly unlikely" today and tomorrow. My sweat-soaked clothing items particularly chuckled at that one. Although it is a tad less smoggy today.
But my favorite article was a letter to the editor from "Dan Prud'homme, an American living and working in Beijing." Highlights:
Last Saturday, I was riding my bike along Yong'anli in an attempt to make it to Tian'anmen square on such an absolutely gorgeous day. Unfortunately I had my foot hurt. Within a moment my foot became terribly bloody. I sat on the curb wondering why I had not taken better care of my foot. Suddenly, from behind me came a warm, "Hello, can I help you?" in just about as native-sounding English as I heard back home around Washington DC...
Within a few seconds, I was surprisingly surrounded by a group of no fewer than three volunteers with a large, and as I would find, very well-equipped first aid kit. The volunteers went to work on my foot and weren't at all squeamish about it, which surprised me because I normally wouldn't label feet the most inviting-looking things in the world, wound or no wound....
Cute story, I know. But it speaks volumes. As an instructor of undergraduate classes about civil society back in the US, I lectured about the benefits of civility; unfortunately, I saw it practiced less often than I would have liked....
I then wondered what the world would be like if there were volunteer stations, like the ones currently in Beijing, in every one of the world's cities year round.
This isn't unusual thinking on a more global scale; after all, some critics have said China 'cannot operate in the true spirit of the Olympics.' In fact, however, China continues every day--in events beyond my encounter on Saturday--to set examples for global unity and harmony, one foot at a time.
I mean, that's a comedic tour de force. Bloody American feet, cleaned with cotton balls by fluent Chinese volunteers, bringing the world together. Well done, completely made-up Washington DC area resident Dan Prud'homme. You can guest blog for me any time.
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