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Chinese State Humor Writers Rule


Tiny singer wins heart of nation. (Xinhua)

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.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 12, 2008; 2:44 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Olympics  
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Comments

"Cute lip-syncher wins heart of nation" just doesnt have the same ring to it.

Posted by: brook | August 12, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

"three volunteers" == "trio of creepy foot fetishists"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

That little has seen to many WWE events with that hand gesture she's making.

Oh, and too bad she doesn't sing: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2545387/Beijing-Olympics-Faking-scandal-over-girl-who-sang-in-opening-ceremony.html

Posted by: Chris | August 12, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"I sat on the curb wondering why I had not taken better care of my foot."

Wow, I was doing the same thing! But instead of 3 helpful people, I just had Donte Stallworth laughing at me.

Posted by: Braylon Edwards | August 12, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure I went to grad school with a Dan Prudhomme. And I'm pretty sure he moved to China.

Posted by: terp | August 12, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I enjoyed this rant from sailinganarchy.com

I think it says it all.

http://www.sailinganarchy.com/index_page1.php

Enter The Draggin'
Ass-draggin', that is. To no one's surprise, the first days Olympic racing for the Finn, Yngling, and 49er featured sweltering heat and smog over nearly non-existent breeze and current of up to two knots in nasty Qingdao, China. The racing was a typical light air crapshoot and something of a joke, though none of the racers will say so for fear of being kicked out of their gracious host nation.
“Regimentation defies common sense and is rife,” said our underwhelmed friend and Anarchist insider, Fonder Cox. “No one is allowed to stray from the party line at all, and believe me, they want to! Some of the best sailors in the world are competing for the highest honor they can win, and it's all a joke. At least most of the weed is gone...”
On a positive note, nearly all the races are available – in their entirety – from various Olympic-sanctioned websites – the first time that's ever happened. In the US, you can find them here, though navigating the NBC site in search of specific races is nearly impossible unless they are happening live. Today we were lucky enough to catch NBC-TV's broadcast of the pulse-pounding “synchronized diving” competition, and for a moment, we wondered “how the hell can this crap get TV viewers while sailing is relegated to web-only broadcasts?” Then we watched the Finn races on NBC's site, and we were happy the world didn't have to suffer through this kind of sailing on TV - watching grandmothers sew would attract far more viewers. Even the high-powered, colorful 49ers were nearly impossible to watch for an entire race. Their crew balled up in front of the mast, barely able to get downwind at all, their frustration palpable, but their choices minimal. Somehow, the idiots supplying climate information to the live feed included wind data that included the “Qingdao Correction,” mentioned over the past year by the sailors. The feed called it “8 knots,” which corrects to 3-4 knots anywhere else in the world.
We've already seen that China's agreements on press access and censorship are worth precisely zero, and that the IOC is an impotent, spread-eagled in front of China's policies. We suppose that's politics as usual, as sad as that may be. The choice of venue for the Sailing events should not have been politics though – it should have been a choice made to guarantee fair competition, at a minimum. Instead, we're left with a polluted site with no wind and issues with smog, algae, and competitor health. Why? Ms. Cox puts it best: “150 miles up the coast is a much better site with a 150% sized replica of the Weymouth Academy set up, but the burgesses of Qingdao paid for the Olympic regatta and they are jealously guarding the event they purchased.”
Here's a look at the 49ers from Ingrid Abery, and one of those rare times that still photos look far more enticing than being there.


Posted by: flynnie | August 12, 2008 3:08 PM

Posted by: flynnie | August 12, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Dan Prud'homme?

http://businessfightspoverty.ning.com/profile/DanPrudhomme

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Mr. Prud'homme is simply a terrible writer, crazy, or trying to kiss someone's bum to get a better job.

Posted by: bribri | August 12, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

he could have been on mescalin...I've seen stranger things than three helpful people materialize, fluently speak a language they shouldn't know, and dress a wound.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I know! They took the REAL Dan Prudhomme's letter, ran it through a Chinese translator to ensure it contained nothing particularly offensive to the State, then ran it through a Romulan translator, then back into English, which they sent out to a prof of English up at Beijing U, who spiffied it up to sound more "natural", then stuck the apostrophe into Prudhomme's name to account for the distance between the original and what they printed. Should the REAL Prudhomme make inquiries, they just hafta say, "Oh, no, we got the letter from the OTHER Prud'homme..."

Posted by: Bobbie | August 12, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I feel bad for poor, little Miss Milli Vanilli, gang signs or not.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Are your feet are belong to us.

Posted by: Maggie | August 12, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Excuse typo, I meant:

All your feet are belong to us.

Posted by: Maggie | August 12, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

you know, Prud'homme, most people consider human rights sorta helpful in the whole "global examples for unity and harmony" bit.

Posted by: tibet? | August 12, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I can imagine you sneering while making comments on these "humor writers". Cynicism is almost as bad as corniness.

Posted by: Adam | August 12, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

lol you sure are racist, atleast they arent making fun of you behind your back

Posted by: JJ | August 12, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Hi Dan Steinberg-

Here I am, to guest on your blog. I think you owe it to me : )

I see some people on here have already signed up trying to imitate me. In fact, I do exist (and my last name is not all that uncommon in French). I am indeed from the US, DC/Maryland area, and I do live and work in Beijing.

I was not "sucking up" to anyone when I wrote this article. HOWEVER, THE ARTICLE ON CHINA DAILY IS NOT FULLY MINE, AND CHINA DAILY ADDED IN GRAMMATICAL ERRORS, AND LEFT OUT IMPORTANT PARTS OF MY STORY. I ALREADY ASKED THEM, WITH NO SUCCESS, TO FIX THESE PROBLEMS. Given this, some of you are correct in your accusations. MY ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND AT SHANGHAI DAILY ON THE LINK BELOW (note some weird formatting issues with "??" marks).

I wrote the Shanghai Daily article SIMPLY because I was genuinely VERY impressed and pleasantly surprised with the Olympic volunteers behavior. The story, contrary to Mr. Steinberg's ill guess, is absolutely 100% true.

I realize - perhaps much more intimately than those that have limited actual knowledge and experience concerning China - that China has a long way to go as far as improving human rights, and addressing a variety of other important issues, including rural-urban inequality and pollution. That’s one of the reasons I came to China in the first place, to help tackle these problems.

However, and unfortunately, all too often I find folks in the US criticizing from arm chairs and never giving credit to the positive things happening in China. This is likely partially because the Western press doesn’t cover these things as often as they should, partially because people just don’t believe Chinese news sources—like Mr. Steinberg (although I do agree, there is sometimes need to be wary), partially because people simply don’t want to believe positive things are even coming out of “Red China,” and partially because many of the smaller positive examples take place via exchanges in Chinese that aren’t reported in English. I admit these changes are often made very slowly (note the "one foot at a time" image in the Shanghai Daily article), but that doesn’t mean that they are not being made. It is ignorant to ignore them.

Article:
http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/?id=369419&type=Opinion&page=1

Feel free to e-mail me with any comments or questions at danprudhomme@ymail.com


Posted by: Dan Prud'homme | August 12, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Hi Dan Steinberg-

Here I am, to guest on your blog. I think you owe it to me : )

I see some people on here have already signed up trying to imitate me. In fact, I do exist (and my last name is not all that uncommon in French). I am indeed from the US, DC/Maryland area, and I do live and work in Beijing.

I was not "sucking up" to anyone when I wrote this article. HOWEVER, THE ARTICLE ON CHINA DAILY IS NOT FULLY MINE, AND CHINA DAILY ADDED IN GRAMMATICAL ERRORS, AND LEFT OUT IMPORTANT PARTS OF MY STORY. I ALREADY ASKED THEM, WITH NO SUCCESS, TO FIX THESE PROBLEMS. Given this, some of you are correct in your accusations. MY ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND AT SHANGHAI DAILY ON THE LINK BELOW (note some weird formatting issues with "??" marks).

I wrote the Shanghai Daily article SIMPLY because I was genuinely VERY impressed and pleasantly surprised with the Olympic volunteers behavior. The story, contrary to Mr. Steinberg's ill guess, is absolutely 100% true.

I realize - perhaps much more intimately than those that have limited actual knowledge and experience concerning China - that China has a long way to go as far as improving human rights, and addressing a variety of other important issues, including rural-urban inequality and pollution. That’s one of the reasons I came to China in the first place, to help tackle these problems.

However, and unfortunately, all too often I find folks in the US criticizing from arm chairs and never giving credit to the positive things happening in China. This is likely partially because the Western press doesn’t cover these things as often as they should, partially because people just don’t believe Chinese news sources—like Mr. Steinberg (although I do agree, there is sometimes need to be wary), partially because people simply don’t want to believe positive things are even coming out of “Red China,” and partially because many of the smaller positive examples take place via exchanges in Chinese that aren’t reported in English. I admit these changes are often made very slowly (note the "one foot at a time" image in the Shanghai Daily article), but that doesn’t mean that they are not being made. It is ignorant to ignore them.

Article:
http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/?id=369419&type=Opinion&page=1

Feel free to e-mail me with any comments or questions at danprudhomme@ymail.com


Posted by: Dan Prud'homme | August 12, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Chinese humour is obviously better than the load of tripe served here.
Pretty poor effort to laugh at what actually appears to be a successful and well run games. Yes the chinese take pride it the games but isn't that natural.

The enthusiasm of the chinese press as well as the sponsorship may be a bit over the top but who started that and aren't most of the companies American.

Its certainly better than the badly organised, transport deficient, over sponsored mess of a games that was held in 96.

Where was that again...?

Posted by: C Cola | August 12, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Nice response Paul - Steinz is all good, read his posts here and back in DC after the games (especially when the Wizards get going) and you'll see that he sees the lighter side of sports.

But you really need to take better care of your foot...

Posted by: Rob Iola | August 13, 2008 1:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Paul on that one.

I'm pretty cynical about China, but I have lived here over two years and studied China for 10 and I gotta say most Americans have a pretty shallow view of China and far too many just want to see all bad.

I know Dan's poking fun at the news and the propaganda here is mind-blowing and deserves ridicule. Nothing really gets me more upset here than the way the government tries to control information and inflate nationalism at all cost.

The volunteers and Chinese hospitality are genuine, though.

I was here two years ago and came back a week ago, and I have to say the sheer number of volunteers and their obvious enthusiasm are two things that would never ever happen back in the U.S. and are a credit to Chinese culture. Give credit where credit is due. The Chinese have worked their butts off to make these Olympics great and deserve credit for that, whatever you think of their government.

Posted by: Ryan | August 13, 2008 4:50 AM | Report abuse

Wait ... who the hell is Paul? I meant Dan. I'm a moron.

Posted by: Ryan | August 13, 2008 4:51 AM | Report abuse

meant Dan too - Paul's the chef...

Posted by: Rob Iola | August 13, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

link doesn't work...

Posted by: Crabhands | August 13, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

here is Prud'homme's real article


Shanghai Daily

Fearless foot care feat by Olympic volunteers

By Dan Prud'homme


THIS past Saturday, I was riding my bike along Yonganli in attempt to make it to Tian'anmen Square on such an absolutely gorgeous day.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it too far; and not just because I am much more out of shape then I used to be (mind you, or at least I remind myself, that I had a friend also sitting on the back of the bike).

The scab on my foot, which I had cut up fairly badly earlier in the week, ripped off as I brushed my foot awkwardly against the pedal on my bike. Within a moment my foot became terribly bloody.

I got off my bike to inspect the wound, and cringing not at the pain, but at how poorly I had managed to keep my cut disinfected, I noticed that indeed the wound had become a bit infected.

To spare you from more of such nasty details, I will just conclude my foot didn't look pretty. But soon that was about to change.

I sat on the curb wondering why I had not taken better care of my foot, and why I was so out of shape as to the point that I was secretly glad I had an excuse to now tell my Chinese passenger we could no longer continue on to Tian'anmen.

Suddenly, from behind me came a “Hello, can I help you?” in just about as native sounding English as I hear back home around Washington D.C.

As I looked up, in a way I can imagine must had very much looked like a child looking up helplessly after a bike accident, I saw several blue and white polo shirts reading “Volunteer.”

Looking beyond the shirts, I noticed a nearby blue tent with the word “Volunteer,” which surprised me as we were miles away from any Olympic-related venue.

“No, that's ok.” I replied, assuming the volunteers were only armed with decent English skills and maps of the city.

The volunteers disappeared and I returned to thinking about the sad state of my physical fitness and how I would or would not get back to home.

Within a few seconds, I was surprisingly surrounded by a group of no less 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.

Holding cotton balls in tweezers, the volunteers collectively applied two types of disinfectants.

One of the volunteer bandaged my foot, and acknowledged in Chinese to the other volunteers that it didn't look so pretty, we all had a laugh also acknowledging that it looked much better now. I said thank you, and my passenger friend and I headed back home.

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.

My experience on Saturday reminded me of the potential greatness of ordinary people: American, Chinese, Japanese, Russian – whoever we are – to help each other and make each others' lives a little happier.

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.

It's telling how actions, just like this rather small world we live in and like the Olympic rings, are circular. I originally hurt my foot earlier in the week dismounting from a tree, after climbing it to rescue a group of girls' badminton racket and a shuttlecock that somehow got lodged in the tree's upper foliage.

The girls didn't ask for my help, I just gave it. I turned down the volunteers help on Saturday, yet they still gave it.

Some critics have said China can't operate in the true spirit of the Olympics.

In fact, however, China continues everyday -- in events beyond my encounter on Saturday-- to set examples for global unity and harmony, one foot at a time.


The author is an American living, working, and volunteering, not for the Olympics, in Beijing for a year.

Posted by: the real article | August 14, 2008 7:12 AM | Report abuse

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