“Little Tales that Sizzle in the Min.” — Grady Harp, Amazon 38th Ranking Top Reviewer, on Bitter Tea and Braided Hair
On June 9, 2013, Grady Harp, an Amazon top ranking reviewer who wears many badges of honor including TOP 50 REVIEWER, VINE™ VOICE, HALL OF FAME REVIEWER and REAL NAME™, posted a review on Amazon for my short fiction collection, “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair.” The review can be found here: http://amzn.to/ZEGnyc.
Here’s what Grady said about the book, quoted verbatim as follows:
BITTER TEAR AND BRAIDED HAIR is a collection of short stories that serves to introduce many of us to a writer a=of significant gifts. He is able in a very brief time to gain our empathy for his characters, such as the half Chinese half Tibetan young man of the title story who falls in love with a Tibetan girl and just as quickly loses everything. In MY MOTHER’S SHADOW our main character is a first grade child who notices he has no shadow, discovers that this is a curse from God, and walks with his mother who has a shadow to the prison where his also shadowless father is held: his mother and the boy bear the spite of the town when it seems to everyone that each time they visit the prison and bring home an `uncle’ (a doomed shadowless man) causing the rumor that his mother is a prostitute.
Or take the case of OSCAR’S EXTRAORDINARY LIFE, PLANNED we meet an in utero fetus that can hear and think about everything that is happening outside his mother womb – even the sexual liaisons she has which put a question as to the fetus’ origin! In DEAR TERESA a young lad in the year 1979 attends school but also listens to his shortwave radio for English 900 and learns of a radio personality Sister Teresa, becomes a fan, communicates with her Letter to Teresa project, and makes portraits of her – only to find that his gift for pictures creates dissension among his friends. THE MANCHURIAN EXPRESS is a comical story that has at its core the dissolution of the Mao-style communism of China, but the style of A EULOGY FOR EDWIN BOGARDUS tops even that as we learn about the life of a man who died from an overdoes effect of Viagra!
In all, this is a fine group of imaginative fiction that spreads across the world from China to the US. The only thing we discover about the author M. Eigh who attended China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, is a highly published Chinese poet, and is a man with considerable talent. His next move should be a novella and then a novel to see if his imagination can sustain through a book long story. It would also be interesting to read translations of his poetry. But a helpful hint to this writer: secure the guidance of a good editor to extract the spelling and grammar errors next time round, because you are just too fine to let skips get into your work! Grady Harp, June 13.
Influential US senators have showed their support in a provision that grants 5,000 visa to Tibetan refuges living in India and Nepal. This provision will be included as an amendment in the landmark immigration reform bill still under debate. The amendment, offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein and cosponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy and Senator Chuck Schumer, was approved by voice vote and included in the immigration reform bill currently under consideration in the US Senate.
This is more or less a slap across China’s face; and the timing is adding insult to an injury as China’s newly installed President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet President Obama in a couple of weeks at the Leonore Annenberg estate in California. In fact, slapping China across the face for the sake of Tibet may have been the senators’ intention. As republican Senator Chuck Grassley put it, “On this issue I don’t mind irritating China,” according to a GlobaPost report. (See details here.)
This is more or less a direct reaction to about 110 Tibetans losing their lives to self-immolation in protest of Chinese rule since 2009. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been accused by the Chinese government for encouraging self-immolation. At the same time, the Dalai Lama has not called upon his people to stop such self-sacrifice, though many believe that he has the power to stop it. Washington Post’s columnist Sally Quinn has recently peeled open the complexity of this issue in her opinion piece titled “The Dalai Lama’s compassion disconnect.”
Self-immolation weighs heavy on everyone’s mind. It’s just such a horrific scene to behold, such a gruesome tale to regale. In the title story of my short fiction collection, “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair,” I made a valiant attempt to depict one such incident. And apparently it’s done a good job telling a difficult story, because multiple online ezines have re-printed it and it has also been turned into a Podcast. You owe yourself to check it out:
Ironically, even with such affirmative advantage, we will see far fewer Tibetan immigrate to US than Chinese. First off, compared to the Tibetans, there is a much larger Chinese diaspora population in US which sponsors far more legal Chinese immigrants than Tibetan ones. Secondly, swarms of rich Chinese are buying their way into US.
Each year, the US Congress grants 12,000 permanent green cards to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in US, in a business that creates no less than 10 new jobs. In the fiscal year of 2012, the US issued roughly 8500 such millionaire-investor visas. Guess what? 80% of those were given to investors from China. The Chinese are picking up these green cards like you and I are picking up a chicken salad sandwich from our local deli. It has gotten to such crazy level that the US congress has been talking about capping the visas given to Chinese millionaires with a “China quota.”
Any day now, billions of winged insects will rise up and swarm over the entire East Coast? Are we ready?
Troma is ready for us. She’s been underground for 17 years, while inside of her a deadly virus is slowly turning this queen cicada into a cannibalistic mastermind with one goal: To infect the human race.
It’s them against us in this fun sci-fi novella, which also includes the adventures of a CIA agent, Russian counterspy and unlucky FBI officer as they battle the swarm. Recipes are included for those inclined to culinary adventure.
M. Eigh was born in China and, before getting an MBA, he received a BSc from China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, where most modern day Chinese ruling elites obtain their academic pedigree. But the alma mater is about the only thing he has in common with the techno-dictators of today’s China.
In his younger days, M. Eigh was a published poet in Chinese; at the age of fifteen, he won the first-place award in a prefecture-wide youth literature competition. He can be found at http://m.eigh.com.
He’s on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/by.m.eigh.
He tweets at: https://twitter.com/m_eigh
“This author wrote an excellent novella in a unique way.”
When it comes to China’s political theater, one can safely say that it is all the same old drama. What has changed appears to be the audience’s attitude. In a very recent rude awakening, the Chinese Communist Party learned just how unsympathetic the Chinese people have become toward the Party. On April 15, 2013, “People’s Forum”, an online forum managed by the Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily, put out a multiple choice survey on question about “Confidence, beliefs and ideology.” But they made a serious mistake by providing “I don’t agree” answer as one of the choices. The survey result was so embarrassingly bad that the survey was promptly pulled down and its result wiped out, but not before some netizens captured some damaging screenshots.
The survey result is translated as follows:
1. Do you agree that the Chinese Communist Party has enough
courgage and wisdom to push forward the Reform?
i) I Agree Completely
ii) I Agree
iii) I am Not Sure
iv) I Disagree
2. Do you agree with the assertion that “Adhere to and
develop Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is in the fundamental interest
of the vast majority of the people?”
i) I Agree Completely
ii) I Agree
iii) I am Not Sure
iv) I Disagree
3. Do you agree with the assertion that “Only the Chinese
Communist Party is capable of leading us on the journey to develop Socialism
with Chinese Characteristics?”
i) I Agree Completely
ii) I Agree
iii) I am Not Sure
iv) I Disagree
4. What do you think of the “One party rules while multiple
parties participate” system?
i) I Agree Completely
ii) I Agree
iii) I am Not Sure
iv) I Disagree
The original survey result, which was swiftly wiped out from the Forum, is captured in a screenshot as below:
These days, China floods the world with fascinating headlines everyday. If you look carefully, most of the headline-makers are first-ever incidents: 13,000 dead pigs clogging Shanghai’s Whampoa (Huangpu) River; six dead out of a total of 16 confirmed N7H9 Avian Flu cases as of April 5, 2013 and, etc. Last month, China’s first lady, Mme. Peng Liyuan dazzled the world when she accompanied her husband, China’s newly minted President Xi Jinping, on a state visit to Tanzania. She emerged from the airplane cabin wearing high-heel shoes that exposed her elegant toes.
The full details of this fascinating story is contained in Chew Man’s latest book “Revolution Is a Dinner Party — the Rise of Rogue Pluralism in China.” On sale now on Amazon.
On March 18, 2013, Mr. Zhang Dejiang, the 3rd-ranked member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, was appointed as the Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee while five other preordained career bureaucrats, Messrs. Wang Shengjun, Zhang Ping, Chen Zhu, Wan Exiang and Wang Chen were appointed as Vice Chairmen of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, after perfunctory votes.
Four days later, Mr. Wang Cheng, an attorney in Hangzhou, filed a lawsuit with the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China, alleging afore-mentioned appointments unconstitutional. The ground for his allegation? It turns out that Chinese Constitution has a stipulation explicitly prohibits any incumbent member of the government’s executive or judiciary branches from taking a seat in the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, namely, the legislative branch.
Mr. Wang Cheng’s was a first-ever lawsuit against China’s parliament and it appears that he did his homework: The Chinese Constitution does have such a stipulation and the six individuals whose appointments were in question were indeed incumbent top-ranking members of the central government’s executive and judiciary branches. The following is a list of their then-incumbent positions:
Zhang Dejiang: Vice-Premier in charge of energy, telecommunications, and transportation.
Wang Shengjun: President of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China
Zhang Ping: Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, a prominent department within the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.
Chen Zhu: Minister of Health of the People’s Republic of China.
Wan Exiang: Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court of China.
Wang Chen: Director of the Information Office of the State Council.
It deserves a clarification that these gentlemen did resign from their then-incumbent executive or judiciary branch positions; however, the resignations all happened after their appointments into the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. This clear violation of the Constitution was more of a careless error than deliberate abuse. But it goes to show how little attention the National People’s Congress has or is paying to the country’s Constitution. After all, nobody has ever taken it seriously. That is, nobody until Mr. Wang Cheng.
According to the well-established procedures of China’s Supreme Court, it has to deliver a decision on whether to hear a case or not within seven days of its filing. Mr. Wang Cheng mailed his filing to the Court on March 18 by Express Mail Service and got the delivery confirmation on March 19. Seven days quickly went by after that and Mr. Wang has not heard a thing from the Court. In the meantime, Mr. Wang’s two major weibo (microblog) accounts got mysteriously deleted. Other than a few Chinese social networks, Mr. Wang also got largely snubbed by mainstream Chinese media. As of this writing, Mr. Wang’s suit is still a developing story.
The full text of this article is contained in Chew Man’s latest book “Revolution Is a Dinner Party — the Rise of Rogue Pluralism in China.” On sale now on Amazon.
There is one other thing about the movie Lost in Thailand that makes it stand out. Its title in Chinese, “人再囧途之泰囧”, contains an ancient Chinese character, “囧”. It is a rarely or never used character and means “brightness” originally. However, it has come to mean “cornered”, “frustrated” or “embarrassed” on the Web. The filmmakers pandered to this fad and embraced it in the film’s title.
囧(jiǒng, frustrating, embarrassing) is just one of newly-minted words of China’s rapidly growing cyber slang They are the product of clever character play and demonstrate the trivialization of conventional ideology.
Occupy a character. The first type of cyber slang words are ancient characters that went out of circulation long time ago. 囧 (jiǒng, frustrating, embarrassing) is a perfect example. As is typical of this group, its meaning is strictly “inferred” from the pictorial characteristics. In this particular case of 囧, the character is interpreted as a person held hostage in a confining space.
Smart-aleck homophones. The second type of cyber slang words are disrespectful pranks on Chinese words and phrases that bear serious meanings. A word in this group is pronounced exactly as its conventional counterpart, and is supposed to mean the same thing; however, since its characters have been replaced with homophones, they have acquired a satirical secondary meaning. For example, the Chinese word for tragedy is 悲剧(bēijù), but often when it is used on the Web, it is replaced with 杯具(bēijù) – theater props. Since corruption is rampant in China and even the elites of academia are not immune, the word for professors, 教授 (jiào shòu), has been replaced on the Web by 叫兽 (jiào shòu), or “howling beasts”.
One of top ten most used words in 2012 was the Chinese word for Alexander. It comes with four characters: 亚历山大 (yàlìshāndà). The four character combination does not provide a meaning. They are there purely for the purpose of phonetic approximation. However, if one is to substitute the first two characters 亚历 (yàlì) with 压力 (yàlì, “pressure”), the Chinese word for Alexander becomes 压力山大(same pronunciation: yàlìshāndà) and it instantly acquires an alternate meaning – pressure/distress is as heavy as a mountain. (压力: pressure or distress; 山大: as large/heavy as a mountain.)
Eureka! The third type of cyber slang words are ingenious creations that past generations of Chinese could never even dream of. Like acronyms in English, these newly conjured words have a great deal of economy. They are concise and precise. Often, they paint a vivid picture of various social malaises.
One remarkable example of this group is 躺枪 (tǎng qiāng). Literally translated into English, the word means “lying gun,” and does not make any sense. The same puzzlement is shared by Chinese who have never heard the word before. But those who have used it know that it refers to a situation bad enough to turn innocent bystanders into collateral damage. A situation so bad that you get shot even if you dive to and stay down on the ground.
Another outstanding example of this group is 屌丝 (diǎosī). 屌 (diǎo) is an vulgar word referring to penis. 丝 (sī) is the second character in the phonetically imported word “fans”. It is hard to find a precise equivalent for it in English but the rough translation would be “dick faces.” It refers to the bitterly disenfranchised young Chinese males who often describe themselves as short, ugly, poor, clumsy and unpolished. Sociology experts have equated a typical 屌丝 with Lu Xun’s Ah Q, the only difference being that a 屌丝 (diǎosī) is much more self-conscious about his social dilemmas.
The word 屌丝 (diǎosī) made history on Nov. 3, 2012 when People’s Daily used it in a special report about the ongoing Eighteenth Party Congress. The report cited 屌丝心态 (roughly, dick face/loser attitude) as one of the knee-jerk reactions to the impact of China’s market economy. Nobody really cared what the People’s Daily said about the 屌丝 culture, but its glorious debut in the Party’s mouthpiece signified the rude awakening of China’s ruling elites. After all, the cyber slang has become a formidable social phenomenon they have to deal with. And they have chosen – to their credit – to not go into denial, but to acknowledge its popularity.
The ugly Chinese. The fourth and last group of the Cyber slangs are self-effacing catchphrases. They can be an existing word or phrase that has acquired a new meaning, or a newly coined phrase that has seen overwhelming circulation. For example, the phrase 中国式 (zhōngguó shì) has a generic meaning: Chinese style; however, it is nowadays used to refer to things you see happening “only in China.” When someone talks about a Chinese-style pedestrian crossing, for example, they are reminding you that anywhere in China, pedestrians pay no attention to the traffic lights and start crossing the road when they think there are “plenty” of them.
Another good example is 我爸是李刚 (My Dad is Li Gang.) The phrase was first uttered by an infamous drunken driver, the 22-year-old Li Qiming (李启铭). On the evening of October 16, 2010, his black Volkswagen Magotan hit two university students on the campus of Hebei University in Baoding in Hebei province. One of the victims, 20-year-old Chen Xiaofeng (陈晓凤), died later in the hospital.The other victim, Zhang Jingjing, aged 19, remained in a stable condition, albeit suffering from a fractured left leg. Li tried to escape the scene and continued driving to the female dormitory to drop off his girlfriend. When confronted by security guards, Li was eager to reveal that that his father, Li Gang (李刚), was the deputy director of the local public security bureau. Convinced his father’s position would give him immunity, he shouted out: “Go ahead, report me if you dare. My dad is Li Gang!”
Overnight, after eyewitness reports and photos of the incident went viral online, the phrase caught on fire with the Chinese. Nothing could have revealed better the inflated sense of privilege of those in power in China. Nothing could have made a better mockery of laws in China that could be trampled by those in power. If you witness an outrageous injustice committed by those in power in China, say “My father is Li Gang.”
In 2012, the Chinese word for maternal uncle, 表叔 (biǎo shū), took on a new meaning. The first character in the word, 表 (biǎo) means maternal in its original context. And the second character 叔 (shū) means uncle. However, the first character can also mean wrist watch. After a notorious scandal surrounding a Shaanxi Province bureaucrat, this word came to refer to corrupt Chinese officials who wear brand name luxury watches. With their official salaries, any one of those watches would have taken them several lifetimes’ worth of savings to purchase.
The central figure in the scandal, Mr. Yang Dacai (杨达才), chief of Shaanxi’s Safety Supervision Bureau, was caught on camera grinning at the site of a horrific traffic accident that claimed 37 lives. That stupid grin on his fat face caused an outrage among the online community. A mass campaign to dig up dirt by bloggers and hackers ensued and uncovered numerous photos of this instant public enemy. With a little zooming, bloggers noticed that this man was quite a chameleon when it came to wrist watches: he wore different brands of expensive time pieces on public occasions. Purportedly, some of those watches cost in the neighborhood of $30,000.
In a country Transparency International (TI) considers as corrupt as Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama, and Peru, and more corrupt than Sri Lanka, Mr. Yang is in no lack of company. Since the incident, though, Chinese officials have been camera shy when wearing wrist watches. After all, it is impossible to rehabilitate one’s reputation once labeled as a 表叔 (biǎo shū), or, a Watch Uncle.
On March 7, 2013, a photo of Mr. Yu Zhengsheng, the 4th-ranked member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee surfaced on Chinese social community site http://kds.pchome.net/. The photo was uploaded by a member under the username of “Brave Cruller” and shows Mr. Yu wearing a Patek Philippe that allegedly is worth €288K. The photo immediately became viral and earned Mr. Yu a new title: 表帝 (biǎo dì), or, the Emperor of Watch Uncles.