Saturday, December 31, 2005

Satisfying my hoops yearnings

If you prefer to read me in a more official capacity, this same thing is posted here:

It is my account of one of the most red letter basketball nights I've ever had. Just superb all the way around.

Tomorrow we are loading up the rented Pontiac Montana and driving from Bay City to Pittsburgh, continuing our Rust Belt winter tour. My brother Delaware Dave will be there with his family and tomorrow night we are going to the Pitt/Wisconsin hoops game before heading home for some New Year's eve rib roast. Sunday we can watch Steelers as a family, just as we did all through my childhood. My dad is doing pretty well, thanks for asking, but is feeling a little tired. I will check him ou tin person soon enough.


I can see a surprising number of NBA games on TV in Beijing, but it’s all sort of random, with the exception of every Rockets game being shown in Chinese. But as soon as the season began I started itching to actually attend a game. So it was that two nights after landing back in the good old US of A I found myself at the Knicks/Jazz game and six nights later, I was sitting at a press table for last night’s Heat/Pistons Eastern Finals preview in Auburn Hills. Before I get to that, I need to give a quick shout out to Sammy, Slam’s man with the Knicks who set me up with the elite single seat at the broadcast table for the Jazz game.

He didn’t even know that I was fresh off the boat from china and jonesing for an NBA fix when he sat me courtside, right next to Kenny Smith. I got to my seat a little late and saw someone in my spot. I politely tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to move, only to see that it was John Starks. He asked an usher for another seat and we all fit in, no problem. Kenny turned to me during the first commercial break and said, “Come on Slam. You can’t kick John Starks out of a seat at the Garden.” Then we all settled in to watch the game. I made lots of funny, insightful notes but it’s all ancient news now and besides it’s hard to even believe those guys were playing the same sport as the Heat and Pistons, so let’s get to last night’s game…

Pregame, Spencer Haywood was hanging out in the media room, looking resplendent in a pin stripe suit, shaved head, goatee, glasses, huge hands. He looks like he could suit up and play now. TNT is on the flat screen, audio off, and they’re showing footage of Ron Artest. ”Where they trading Ron?”
Spencer asks me. “I know one thing – whoever gets him is getting a player.”

Then he tells me that he wishes he were here last November 19, saying he knew something was going to happen, that he heard some Pistons players talking about goading Ron into something, to help implode a team they saw as a real threat.

“If I were here, I would have taken him right off the court and into the locker room in a headlock and stopped all that nonsense before it happened.”

We talk ed some more and agreed that Ron Ron’s request for time off to promote his CD – roundly mocked – was a cry for help and if it had been heeded and he had received help instead of scorn, the brawl may never have happened.

He then told me about a project he is trying to get underway to get current NBA players to fund both his own youth camps and an improved pension plan for the league originators who are woefully under-served, as illustrated by George Mikan’s death last summer and Shaq’s paying for the funeral of the league’s first superstar. He said he had just met with “Shaq’s guy” and he was hopeful that the Big Philanthropist would get involved.

“I’m not looking for a lot of money from these guys,” he said. “They can just give me their party money from last night. A lot of guys don’t realize that these white players originated the League and know they got nothing.”

We exchanged cards and he saw that I now live in Beijing. “Hey, I’m going to be over there in the next month or so,” he said. “Let’s put together a Slam basketball clinic in Beijing.”

If God is a merciful God, I will be eating dumplings with Spencer Haywood in Beijing before long. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile in the Pistons locker room, Dale Davis, Darko Milicic and Rasheed Wallace were watching the Emerald Bowl on a huge plasma screen. Darko’s locker is filled with Pistons bobbleheads. Double D was trying to shake $100 out of Chauncey to fulfill a betting debt. Rip was proudly displaying his red fox coat, complete with a head on the right arm. “It might bite you,” he said to anyone and everyone who came by for a look. Sheed walked over and fingered the coat.

“Damn, Rip, I didn’t know Chinchilla fur grew that long.”

In the corner, Carlos Arroyo was doing a Puerto Rican radio interview, in Spanish of course.

I headed back to the court and Sheed had made his way out there, having a long-range shooting contest with assistant coach Ron Harper. They were set up on the side-in hashmark, about five feet behind the three-point line. As the contest went on, they started dogging each other hard. Sheed won 5-3. “Hey, Slam, if you write about this make sure you get the count right. We do this ever game and he’s up 3-2. I’m gonna get him.”

As game time approached, the crowd became ever more hyped. It was a definite playoff atmosphere in the building and the play was t just as high of a level. The execution on both sides is remarkably crisp and smooth, just a completely different world not only from the Jazz/Knicks game but from most ball I’ve watched in the last 10 years.

Complaining that the Pistons don’t get the respect they deserve is a tiring pastime for the whole state of Michigan and I don’t want to encourage it. But I will say that to really appreciate this team, it helps to watch them up close and personal. They are playing at a very, very high level, way beyond anything we’ve seen in recent years. To me, they currently look like the best team in a decade, since the Bulls’ final championship teams. Everything is run so smoothly and everyone plays with so much confidence and efficiency. There is no franticness, no uncertainty, no slackness or hesitation. Ball movement is crisp and perfect and it doesn’t matter who ends up with the ball as the shot clock winds down. All four starters except Big Ben are capable of scoring from anywhere. Gone are those sporadic but consistent scoring droughts of the last few years.

My nephews Charlie and Michael Langwald are both Pistons diehards and Iam sure that for the rest of their lives they will watch hoops with a vague dissatisfaction and yearning for these teams. Just like my Uncle Benny and the ’70 Knicks. These teams don’t come around all that often.

The Heat also look very crisp and there’s no reason not to expect another superb 7-game series this spring. As in last year’s Eastern Finals, Shaq has his way early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter. But the Pistons don’t seem to mind because they are playing him straight up, with both Big Ben and Sheed having decent success and not leaving any open shots by doubling down. Also, Shaq does not look like he can physically maintain that pace for a full game and I don’t see that changing in the next few months. It is also sort of amazing how ineffective of a rebounder he has become, last night grabbing just six in 36 minutes. In the first half, the heat’s second star was Jason Williams, who was both getting into the lane and nailing jumpers.

As the game went on, D Wade asserted himself more and more and by the fourth quarter he was single handedly keeping the Heat in the game. He is truly a pleasure to watch and once he commits himself to becoming a great defensive player, he will be a certifiably elite player.

Anyhow, you know how the game unfolded and ended. Afterwards, the Pistons players were all talking about it being just another win, but I was sitting right behind their bench and they were all plenty pumped up. And why not? They’re now 24-3 and have beaten the Spurs and Heat in six days. I just think flip needs to give the starting five a little more rest and it shouldn’t be that difficult because Arroyo, Delfino, Dice and Mo Evans all look really good.

Postgame, I saw and chatted with Charles Oakley and then headed for the Heat locker room. Riles was up front, hunched over, head in hands, having just addressed the press. He looked old and tired. Spencer was chatting with Zo, who was loudly telling everyone who would listen that they all owe “this big ol’ brother” thanks for their salaries. If you don’t know what he means, Google “spencer haywood rule” right now. My own peak moment happened a second later when heat assistant Bob McAdoo came out from the back and embraced Spencer. If you don’t understand why this made so happy I can’t explain it.

All in all, a superb basketball night in Auburn Hills. It’s almost enough to make me want to rip up my return ticket to Beijing and stick around Michigan to see how this all plays out.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

an interesting read...

column by matt Pottinger explaining why he quit the Journal china bureau to join the marines. One of the first things I did in Beijing was go to his going away lunch.

Home, safe and sound

Jacob, eli and I have been in maplewood -- short hills, actually -- for four days now and all is well. I think we are actually over the sleep hump, but i thought that two days ago only to have all three of us up at three am.

Becky and anna arrive this evening. Then our family will be whole again. Well, after I get back from the Knicks game at 11 pm or so anyhow.

Everyting here has been good. The weirdest thingi s how not weird most things feel. it seems like we never left. It's only been four months, but the funny thing is, over there it felt more like four years. Here, it feels like four days. Go figure.

My column debuted today and the thus-far limited feedback has been good. I received a really nice email from a guy in Dallas who has travelled often to China. They teased it on the front page of the paper apparently and gave it a big plug on the homepage. I also got a nice email from the editor of, saying they will run the column there after it runs on That is great news, since it is a free site and all of you freeloaders will be able to check it out.

I am feeling very good about this, trying not to break my elbow patting myself on the back. Someone will probably pee on my arm soon enoough to bring me back down to earth.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Why I love sports

These three pictures say it all. The Bus times two and Big Ben.

Winding Down...

I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon with Jacob and Eli. Looking forward to getting home and seeing many of you, my faithful readers. Not looking forward to leaving behind Anna and Becky. I don’t like the thought of our family being separated by half the world. I guess I prefer to traveling solo with all three of them and nursing them through jet lag, though.

I feel pretty set to go, and the flight is not until 5 so I have a good chunk of the day to finish up tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even have time to run out for a $12 massage.

It looks like everything is moving forward with the column and hopefully it will debut while I’m gone. Now I just have to start thinking of things to actually write about every two weeks. Getting my driver's license has got to be good for two columns.

After all this fun and discussion, it looks like the column is going to be called… The Expat Life. It seems kind of lame, but the editor of wsj. Com thought and Becky agreed, that the title should be very direct. In looking through all the columns, there are plenty of foreign-themed ones and we want anyone to be able to understand this is about expat life, not foreign politics or business or whatever.

I will say that in my opinion my brother David was both funniest and most prolific. Uncle Benny came up with the one that will stick the longest – Fu Man Jew – and Art Rummler had the most and best actually usable ideas. I think I also neglected to post another one of his winners – Making the World Safe for Capitalism. Believe m, it’s safe over here. Think late 19th Century America. Anyhow, thanks to all of you who sent in ideas. That was fun.

Last night we attended our first large, all chinese party. The annual Dow Jones Christmas bash for employees and their spouses. We were about the only non chinese out of probably 200 people. Our kids were a little awed and then quite into it. It’s good for them to be in a social situation as minorities since we do, after all, live in China.

It was held at Palm springs, this big new club and apartment complex on the edge of downtown. Think Cesear’s palace, only a little less tasteful. Lots of karaoke and loud music, drawing numbers for prizes, silly games an toasts, none of which we could understand. After we got there, they told becky she was supposed to give a speech , along with all other department heads. (there is a businessoffice, a translation service and the news wires, in addition to the Journal). They also told us that her predecessor came every year dressed s Santa claus and handed out toys to all the kids. Oops.

She gave a nice, concise speech, heaping praise on the way the chinese employees have helped her transition be smooth, then she fell back on a dirty old trick, using the kids. She said, “I am studying chinese and hope to give this speech in mandarin next year, but since my children learn so much faster, they want to sing a song for you.” And Anna and Eli came up, took t he microphones and belted out “Ha Pengyou,” this Chinese nursery rhyme which everyone in China seems to Know and take great joy in hearing our kids sing.

I thought it was a risky move, the chance of refusal high, but eli loved it and belted to a rousing ovation.

They had deep fried riblets on the buffet and eli ate about 25 of them. He kept saying, “Can I have more of those delicious ribs please?” Jacob alternately was break dancing in the corner and complaining that the music was too loud (which it was). Parents kept forcing their 5 and 6 year old kids to come up to us and practice their English. “Hello, what is your name?” they would say. “I am 6 years old.”

Tonight, we went to a Christmas party at our friend Lisa and Michael’s. They are both musicians (she, piano, he, guitar) and their kids all sing like angels. They had a talent show and eli sang “Ha Pengoy7” again. Jacob got up and told the trusty old “A boy named shut Up and his sister Trouble” joke, because he really wanted something out of the treat basket every performer got to pick from. I played “You’re gonna Make Me Lonseome When You go” dedicated to tom, whom I will always miss as long as I am in Beijing.

There was a Dylan fanatic there (who works for the IMF and has Pittsburgh roots) and he asked me later if I knew “Tangled Up In blue.” So I Played that and that led to a sing-along with me playing a bunch of stuff then handing the guitar over to our host Michael, who played more. It was a nice time, and a nice note to leave here on. There is a really a very solid, interesting, caring and friendly group of folks here, and we are all at more or less the same stage of life.

Signing off for now.. next post will be from Short Hills.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Freshman break is coming soon, and dealing with tragedy

Everything is winding down here and amping up at the same time. It feels very much like the end of the first semester of college freshman year. Last week, some friends of ours had an end of semester party for all freshman families. We actually had to skip it because Jay was here and we went out for dinner downtown at the Beijing Grand Hotel, a very nice place with a great Szechuan restaurant in the shadows of the Forbidden City. Come visit and we’ll take you there.

Anyhow, the invitation led off with this:

New environment, New living accommodations, new people, new challenges, new experiences, new freedoms intermingled with homesickness, looking forward to breaks and trips home, long distance phone calls, different food, new friends…..

New environment, New living accommodations, new people, new challenges, new experiences, new freedoms intermingled with homesickness, looking forward to breaks and trips home, long distance phone calls, different food, new friends…..

Same feelings …
Different age, different place!

And that is right on. So now we’re in that weird, exhausting, “I can’t believe the semester is over” phase. The kids had their school plays this week and they were quite the productions.

There were two separate shows. Eli’s was Key Stage One, basically kindergarten and first grade. Jacob’s was key Stager Two and three, second grade through eighth. Each year did something different and it was all quite impressive. The 8th graders did this great modern interpretive dance based around “indigenous people’s conception of earth, creation and the relationship between man and all creatures.” I think it says a lot about the teachers and staff if they could get these 13 and 14 year olds to wear tight black costumes and dance like crazy to aboriginal music in front of maybe 1,000 people. Like all the younger kids, they looked they were having a blast.

It was all quite impressive. Jacob and Eli were really into their shows, and both have been very stage shy before and frozen during even routine assemblies. So it seemed significant. Eli’s class did Chanukah and seeing and hearing him and all his friends, two thirds of them Asian, sing “Shalom aleiynu” was beyond priceless. Jacob and his class did a bunch of songs and recited ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. He had several reading lines solo and he really performed with panache. I was really proud.

Of course, this situation with Tom and his wife is really fucking up my head and has me twisted in knots. I’m not sure of a precise prognosis b t it is clearly not good. It is just unbelievable and I can’t stop thinking about it. Becky and I were sitting there watching Jacob’s show and I was feeling so proud and happy and thinking, “All the vacations, jobs, money, concerts, whatever... nothing makes you feel better than watching your kid sing ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town.’’

Then I thought of Tom and Kathy and how they likely would not get the chance to sit together and watch something like that, how ever such event forever will probably fill him with sadness and loneliness and I started crying.

Obviously it makes me really sad, but it also makes me angry. Things like this just wipe out any concept of fairness or cosmic justice. I also feel a little guilty for thinking like this because frankly I have not had confirmation that the situation is as dire as I am making it out to be, but I am fairly certain.

I also feel a little guilty when I think of my own loss because Tom was by far my best buddy around here, someone I really enjoyed hanging out with and talking about any and everything with. He’s even a Steelers fan. Wednesday I had my first Chinese lesson without Tom and it was hard. I hadn’t studied because of all the activity, between helping him leave, Jay arriving, and all these performances and end-of-year activities. So I was struggling more than usual and it just felt so lonely and empty without him and I couldn’t stop thinking about the reason he was gone.

Ok, I just hung up with Tom and things are more or less as bad as I feared. Kathy has lung cancer of a particularly virulent nature that has spread throughout her body. And no she never smoked. She played basketball and volleyball in college and until two months ago ran 30 miles a week. She is receiving heavy treatment and there is hope that it can be brought under control, the spread can be halted and remission achieved. There is no cure, but there is hope for some stability and 3-5 years of fairly normal life. I don’t know what the likelihood is, but anyone who prays, please include them in your prayers.

To get back to the freshman year in college theme, it is like getting to the end of a really great first semester, feeling all puffed up and sure of yourself and excited to go home a conquering hero in your own mind and finding out some tragedy has befallen your roommate, his life is irreparably changed and you may well never see him again.

I’m just writing off the top of my head here, trying to put all these conflicting thoughts and emotions into perspective. I really have never been as affected by anyone’s illness. The whole thing keeps reminding me of John Rummler, Art’s brother, who passed away of pancreatic cancer, leaving a wife and three young kids. You could spend the rest of your life trying to come to grips with these things and never do so and that’s no different in China than it would be in Maplewood, Pittsburgh or Seattle.

Still rolling in....

Mr Jon Kessler pulls himself away from Wine Spectator to write in:

"Couldn't let this go without a entry or two from Wall Street:
China Cat
China Chat
Mainland Musings
Sino Wino
Kracker Writes Kanji
Tofo ain't no 'ho foo
WSJizizzle Chinizzle"

What is a China Cat Sunflower anyhow? Sounds like some sort of heroin reference now that I ponder it. Kessler, get that wine cellar ready for me and let's hit the good stuff this time. I can pick $12 bottles of cab myself.

Meanwhile, Uncle Kim Bateman is busily writing China-themed haikus in Hunting Woods, Michigan, suggesting:
Everyday China
A Paul over China

I need to point out again that despite the comic potential of the China angle (Fu Man Jew, Dum dum Eats Dim Sum, etc), the column title needs to be more broad, eg Foreign Exchange.


Carrie wrote:
That's so funny that Ben mentioned the extra suitcase because I was going to write the same thing. Need I say, you have the 3 most adorable children, surely, in China, if not the entire world! (And I'm not partial, of course)
I'm not sure what Eli is wearing on his head - is that a Chinese kepah - somewhat like a fez?

Thank you. We will have plenty of extra room. yes, it is a chinese kepa. I wish I had good shots of Gabriel Chi, Moony Park, Maurits Jan-Boer, Ethan Yoo and Go-Chun Chu in the kepas. Way beyond cute.

then Carrie wrote:

I was reading DP's list and laughed so loud and so hard that I just woke Dave up
in the next room! Can I change my vote? Definately, Dum Dum eats Dim Sum - I'm still howling! He certainly gets my vote for the FUNNIEST suggestions.

It is well known by all that know him that DP is a great writer and is extremely funny, when he forgets to take his meds.

Jay Gindoff in da House

Jay Gindoff came through here on Sunday evening. I picked him up at the airport, which was a fiasco already reported on, I believe. Then we had dinner downtown. Next day he and I tooled around Beijing. We went to a frigid Tianamen Square, walked all around but not into the Forbidden City, then took a cab over to Little Sheep, a great hot pot restuarant for lunch (the same place I wrote about months ago). Man, that is some good stuff and Jay is the perfect guy to eat it with. If you come visit, make sure you ask me to take you there.

Then we hit the Drum Tower, where I have probably been more than anywhere else in town, and walked around Houhai Lake, a really nice area. There, we visited a great tea shop, where I refilled my stash of Lychee black tea I have been sucking down since our trip to the Guilin tea plantation and Jay bought a bunch of tea sets for christmas presents. The owner, pictured here with Jay, was very nice, and he gave us a rather extensive tea tasting ceremony and explanation.

We came back home for Mr. Li's ribs, put the kids to bed and went back downtown to Centro, a nice martini bar that isn't all that local but is a pleasant place to warm up on a Monday night.

Tuesday morning, Jay flew off to Gunadong for a week's business trip.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

More pictures

You can at least get a sense of jacob's movement and his whole class hopping around from the one pic. You also have eli and his buddies Race Cameron and Gabriel Chi (Japanese mom, Chinese dad).

We came home last Saturday night and there were presents for the kids on the table, with a note, "This presents Yoo Ying from." And i thought, "I thought it was strange that Becky had so perfectly arranged the shoes and slippers before going out tonight." Yoo Ying had come over with gifts for the kids and couldn;t help but straighten things a bit. She must be horrifed by what we do Saturday and Sunday without her around.

She had given the kids these guns, which light up and make crazy sounds. They were thrilled. Becky said, "All those years of no guns down the drain" and we laughed. Truth is, i was denying myself as much as anyone. Anyone who knew me when I was 8 knows how much I loved gun play. I took over E's weapon and Jacob and I had a great battle.. lots of SWAT rolls, and hiding behind doors. A great time. Jacob was deeply into it, as I think you can see in these pictures.

I also like the one of him in the tie, which was when we returned home from the night performance. He was so proud and happy.

Holiday shows pictures

Here are the first of a bunch of pictures to come from the fairly elaborate Holiday shows they did at the kids' schools. Anna's school had a party and then they sang a few songs in our clubhouse.

Jacob and Eli were in separate big productions, both held in a giant tent on the school soccer field, two performances each, afternoon and evening over two days. as you can see, eli's kindergarten class did Chanukah. It was all pretty priceless. More soon....

Wow, they're still coming

Carrie writes:
Alan-I happen to agree w/ you - so far
Foreign Exchange tops them all. btw-am I okay Monday w/o car seats?

Do people back there use car seats? I forgot all about them. Can't we just have all the kids sit on each other's laps?

Meanwhile, Delaware Dave finally weighs in, seemingly in a battle with Amy Mindell for sheer volume and productivity.

Litao Mai, our friend in Maplewood and out first Chinese teacher, suggested North Capital Mensch and was quite offended that I didn't list her suggestion. It doesn't have quite the same zing as Fu man Jew, though. I think it might in Mandarin. She picked right up on the general vibe of things around here, though:
No recognition on my suggestions on your column on your blog? My feelings are hurt. Heh heh heh...

Meanwhile, Delaware Dave can't get on blogspot from work. The hospital must be taking blocking cues from the Great Firewall of China.

He comes out firing, though, with lots of inside jokes, Tom Waits references and more. Read all the way to the bottom. you don't want to miss Dum dum eats Dim Sum. Consider switching to decaf, Dave.

OK I feel compelled to chime in. Christiana has 86'd your blog spot from my internet access as of late. Back on today for some reason. Since I'm chiming in late I'll try and outdo everyone with volume:

China Doll (wake up your)
China Palace
China Grove
China Groove
Fine China
Chinese Algebra
China Syndrome
Harder than Chinese Algebra
Chinese Checkers
General Al's Chicken
Chopsticks and Pen Licks
From Hot Licks to Chopsticks
Oriental Ramblings
A Fat Man on the Mainland
Meanderings from the Mainland
Soaking up the Sojourn
From Yinz to Yangs
From Yinz to Yao. How I grew up in Squirrel Hill but raised my kids in China
Hoops, Hops and Hotels: 3years on the road
In search of Yoa Ming. How to make your head ring.
Walls, Stalls, and Balls. In search of the real China
In the shadow of the wall, an american's view of China
Lo mein, Yoa Ming, and High Main- Living as a Jew in China
Ain't no Chinese Take out here
An Occidental mind-meanderings of a western journalist in an eastern world
Al in Asia or All in Asia
Euthanasia, Anesthesia and Al in Asia
Tuesday Morning Football.Ramblings of a Steeler Fan in Bejing
Football with breakfast and other tales from the east
Back in Bejing
Dum Dum eats Dim Sum
Thoughts from the pagoda

Amy writes:

If we cant have The Return of Fat Al then I vote for any of Dave Wells, even tho it's not a vote.
I was trying to come up with something while walking the dog this morning. Everything I came up with sounded like a Graham Greene novel. Which upon further reflection and research, make some pretty cool suggestions.
To wit (my coments in parens) his partial bibliography. Now just dont' tell me he's some kind of crazy nazi guy, too.
1925 Babbling April. ("Babbling Al"?)
1929 The Man Within. (catchy!)
1930 The Name of Action. (yup) London:Heinemann; New York:Doubleday
1931 Rumour at Nightfall. London:Heinemann; New York:Doubleday
1932 Stamboul Train. London:Heinemann;
1932 Orient Express (un-huh. I think I"m gonna win!) New York:Doubleday
1934 It’s a Battlefield. London:Heinemann; New York:Doubleday
1934 The Old School. London: Jonathan Cape
1935 England Made Me (Pittsburgh Made Me?) London:Heinemann; New York:Doubleday
1935 The Bear Fell Free. London: Grayson
1936 Journey Without Maps. (THis would be great) London:Heinemann; New York:Doubleday
1936 A Gun For Sale. (nope.) London:Heinemann; This Gun for Hire New York:Doubleday
1939 The Lawless Roads. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1939 The Confidential Agent.(Your mom would flip out with this one) London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1940 The Power and the Glory. (uh-huh) London:Heinemann; The Labyrinthine Ways New York: Viking Press
1946 The Little Train. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode; New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard
1947 Nineteen Stories. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1948 The Heart of the Matter. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1948 Why do I Write? (This has lept to the top o'the list) London: Percival Marshall; New York: British Book Centre
1950 The Third Man. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1950 The Fallen Idol. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking
1951 The Lost Childhood and Other Essays. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode; New York: Viking Press
1951 The End of the Affair. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1953 The Living Room. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1955 The Quiet American. London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1957 The Spy’s Bedside Book London: Rupert Hart-Davis
1958 Our Man in Havana. (obviously. duh) London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1959 The Complaisant Lover. (we'll let BB nix this) London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1961 A Burnt-Out Case. (yup). London:Heinemann; New York: Viking Press
1961 In Search of a Character: Two African Journals. London: Bodley Head; New York: Viking Press
1963 A Sense of Reality. London: Bodley Head; New York: Viking Press
1967 May We Borrow Your Husband? And Other Comedies of the Sexual Life. London: Bodley Head; New York: Viking 1969 Collected Essays. London: Bodley Head; New York: Viking Press
1969 Travels with My Aunt. London: Bodley Head; New York: Viking Press
1971 A Sort Of Life. London: Bodley Head; New York: Simon and Shuster
1973 The Honorary Consul. London: Bodley Head; New York: Simon and Schuster
1974 Lord Rochester’s Monkey. London: Bodley Head; New York: Viking Press
1978 The Human Factor. London: Bodley Head; New York: Simon & Schuster
1980 Ways of Escape. London: Bodley Head; New York: Simon & Schuster
1983 Yes and No. London: Bodley Head;
1984 Getting to Know the General: The Story of an Involvement. London: Bodley Head; New York: Simon & Schuster
1985 The Tenth Man. London: Bodley Head and Anthony Blond; New York: Simon & Schuster
1992 A World of My Own. London: Reinhardt Books dream diary

Art, aka Mr. Loud, is not done yet, either:

"When In Rome . . ."
"Expatriate THIS!"
"Going Native"
"Osmosis in Exile"
"Foreign Correspondence" NOT correspondent...
"Tumble Weed Wayfarer"
"The Migrant Capitalist"
"Migrant Observer"
"This Ain't Epcot"
"You can't dig a hole to here"
"What is the difference between Racism and Ethnocentric Monoculturalism"
"Long Distance Living"

Suburban Detroit is on fire, apparently. Aunt Judy is back for more.

1. Yangtze Yankee
2. E (Expat) Male Or E Male
3. Expat Mail
4. A Jersey (or New York) Yankee in __________’s court. (Name of Chinese Premier which I don’t know off hand)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More ideas...

Ripper writes,

Column should be called "heh-heh-heh." To those keeping score at home, if you have to ask, you'll never know.

Well, you can call it heh-heh-heh... and me Fu Man Jew. Beijing Fats is also acceptable. Thanks for remembering, Rip.

Aunt Judy turns away from a Pistons game long enough to chime in:

Here are a few from Detroit.

1.From Jersey to Beijing – My Life in China

2.China Today

3.A Window into China

4.Chatting from China

5.My Day in China

6.Another Day in China

7.From Kim, The Accidental Occidental

Kim serves up his customary dry wit -- very clever title. But they are all too china-based. I need something more generically expat/foreign.

DK keeps the stream of consciousness running:
"You cant always get what you want"

Dean has his head so twisted around music, he can't think of anything that's not a classic rock song title.

Vote? What do you think this is, Iraq?

Carrie writes:

Well, if you don't post your Dad's, AR's, Dave's and mine, how is everyone going to vote? - or is going to be one of those unilateral decision things?
Oh - here's another bad one:
Expatriately Speaking

I never, ever said this was a vote. But I will gladly post them all. I don't think anyone has beaten Foreign Exchange yet, though Art (AR) definitely made the best contributions of the posts. Steve Goldberg came through with some strong ideas via email. And you can now officially call me (though not my column) Fu Man Jew.

Dixie Doc, author of the famous, award-winning "When I want to hit my vortex, I reach for my Gore Tex" poem has not weighed in yet. Nor has Delaware Dave. Severe disappointments, though I expect to hear from them soon.

We have Art Rummler's ideas:

Abroad Transitions;
Transitions Abroad;
Living Abroad;
Abroad Living;
Life as an Expatriate;
American Expatriate;
The Expatriate Experience;
Tales From The Front;
Expatriate Tales;
Tales from Abroad;
Expatriate Report;

Steven Goldberg has some real potential winners:

1. Trailing Spouse
2. Lost in Translation
3. Far and Away
4. At Home, Abroad
5. Foreign Press

Here are my rejects

1. Expat Exploits (truly horrid)
2. Becky's Bitch (too subtle)EDITOR'S NOTE: SEE FU MAN JEW.
3. Wok and Roll (it's a joke)

Dave Wells makes these fine contributions. He shouldn't worry about being laughed at:

You're not allowed to laugh at these.

A Foreign Notebook
My Foreign Journey
A Journalist's Journey
An Overseas Journey
Overseas Observations
Life Abroad
My Life Abroad
An American Abroad
A Foreigner in A Foreign Land

Wife Carrie opts for (mostly failed) humor:

I'm really am feeling the pressure:
1. Stranger in a Strange Land
2. West Meets East
3. A Westerner's View of the
New East
4. A New Slant-China Through Blue Eyes
5. "Hey-Where's the Chow Mein?"
6. A Westerner's Eye on the New East
7. A New View of a New China
8. An American in China
9. Alan Paul Sees China
10. An American's View of the New China
Can't think of anything funny.

leah gomberg suggests:

Trek Tracks
Travel Tracks
Travel Log

dave Kann goes stream of consciousness on me:

"I'm over here" or
"It's not the same here" or
"Things are different here" or
"Here is not home"
"This is interesting"

something like that ?

Suzie Paul (Mom) chimes in with:

It has been used before but how about "Stranger in a strange land"? Love, M

Wait, I was wrong. Dixie did offer this, but sort of weak.

Dixie checked a Thesaurus: gypsydom, reconnoitering, Asian Safaris, Walzing in Asia, Asian Whirl, foreign pilgrim Wandering Jew, A wandering minstrel,

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Clarifying the parameters....

To reiterate, the title needs to be generic and not China based. Something like exchange rate or foreign exchange, but i think we can do better.

Here are Unc ben's suggestions. Number 2 would be a winner under different circumstances. Thge rest are... weak at best,

1. Squirrel Hill comes to the Great Wall.
2. Fu Man Jew
3. American Wolverine in Beijing
4. Fat Al Eats China
5. Red Square JournAL

Naming my column

Okay, I need a name for my column. I had suggested China Moments, which is a phrase people use here to describe things going screwy. You know, finding out what you have to do to get a driver's license is a China Moment. They like the idea, but wanted something broader... focusing more on being an expat than living in China specifically. So I am calling on you, my faithful, loyal readers, friends and family for help.

Anyone who comes up with an idea we use will receive a pound of Peet's coffee, mad props on the blog and years of undying gratitude, not to mention endless smug satisfaction. So come on, let's hear some ideas.

Jay Gindoff was here for two nights. He came by on is way to Southern China on a business trip, which he seems to make every few months. We had a great time, running all over Beijing yesterday. I’ll get some pics up tomorrow. Jay is, as ever, a great hang.

I picked him up at the airport, which was a total fiasco and led to my worst hour in China, a mad dash through parking lots, terminals, subterranean warrens, unreadable signs and more. It was the usual kind of nonsense that can befall an airport pickup, except I couldn’t ask people for help or read the signs. Long story short, we had confusion over each other’s phone numbers and I was waiting by door 7 Level One and jay was waiting at door 7, level 2. It all seems comical now, but it was maddening.

It was all uphill once we finally found each other, thankfully.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dave Wells joins in

The latest welcome addition to our elite bald brigade is Dave Wells. He was going to buzz it off after Thanksgiving, inspired by hanging with Dixie but hung back. But once he saw that non-family member Hank Stamper buzzed, he decided to join in. Welcome aboard, Dave. I never noticed how much we look alike.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Gmail is kind of creepy

It is starting to wig me out how Gmail searches your email and posts related ads. Especially freaky to me is how the search displays signs of a brain, actually interpreting what it is in the message and synthesizing it to come up with things.

What really pushed me over the edge and has me thinking I should check out yahoo mail was when I got this hilarious message from my brother regarding our head shavings:

All lemmings now over the cliff. I'll give Kessler a pass for the following reasons:
1) Josh is such a mensch he took the fall for the family.
2) Any major sartorial change in a top Merrill-Lynch employee would certainly send a ripple through the economy. Deals would be lost, meetings called off, plane tickets cancelled. Instead of talking about Avian flu on the Sunday morning talk shows the haircut that shook the economy would become a major focus.

Just got back from DC where I had to fight off all the women at my hotel room to save my marriage. The omni shoreham had to pay overtime for extra security knowing that there were women lining up with whipped cream trying to find the bald guy. Watch out in China.

And GMail offered up the following ads:

Laser hair removal
Before and after pictures Find a local professional for free

shaving pubic hair
No more irritation and bumps Find shaving product information

Fine UK Shaving Products
All Geo F Trumper, D R Harris and Proraso Shaving Creams & Soaps.

Wood Spokeshaves & Blades
Wooden Shaves and Shave Blades for Hand Tool Users & Collectors

Now, what the fuck? I don't need to see the words "shaving pubic hair" when I'm reading my emails. Really now. Google must be stopped!

And to answer some questions -- no, I did not pee my pants when taking the picture with the guard. Had I known that the apple juice Anna dumped on me was that visible, I would have followed my impulse to take a shirtless photo.

Start saving your pennies

It looks like I will be starting a column about living in China as an expat for soon, hopefully even before the New Year. The Journal is a sub-only site, so you freeloaders better start saving your pennies now. It will be a slightly less personal, more tightly focused version of the blog (minus all the bald heads).

I am very excited about this. After years of making boring people sound interesting, dumb people sound smart and indifferent people sound engaged, I can do the same for myself.

Any real joy I may feel, however, is wiped out by some really rough news here. My friend Tom’s wife has been feeling sick with a lot of vague problems no one here could put together. She went home to Seattle and is in the hospital getting a battery of tests and the results are not good. Again, I am probably pushing it in terms of their privacy as it is, so I’ll leave it there for now. But Tom and his two daughters, aged 3 and 4, are leaving here tomorrow morning for Seattle.

These are two of the kindest, most compassionate, salt-of-the-earth people I have ever known and it’s all really dizzying and quite devastating. Trust me that they deserve to be in your thoughts and prayers. We had some plans to go out tonight but cancelled them to have Tom and his daughters over for pizza. He is struggling to hold it together and keep a brave face for them and we are doing what we can to assist. It’s one of those situations where you are aching to help out but there’s not a whole lot you can do.

Ta ta for now.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hank Stamper buzzed -- picture added

Hank Stamper, lead singer of Stamper Lumber, is the latest to take his hair off (and hat), wishing Dixie Doc the best of luck. He is the first non family member to become one of the bald brigade.....this is expected to spread among friends of Dixie and of course anyone who has seen him play his horn.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Deal Me In

My friend Tom came over for dinner tonight and brought his clippers. No translations problem here. anna likes the stubbly feel. Driving Tom home, I stopped for a picture with the guard around the corner. Jacket? I don't need no stinkin' jacket!

Somebody call DYFS, stat!

Cousin Danny weighs in. No confirmation yet that Sean Hannity himself wielded the clippers. Waiting to hear back from Drudge.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Portrait of the artist as a Young Man

During Hebrew School on Sundays, some of the parents take a Chinese painting class. I posted my first effort a couple of weeks ago. Here is number two. I really enjoy the process and am pretty pleased with the results.

But I am most proud of Jacob's work, which is on the left. Becky actually likes his better. Maybe you do, too. He came up from class and walked over and asked if he could paint. They gave him a piece of paper and he went at it. I was finishing up, so I sat down to chat with some folks and looked up and watched him with a look of intense concentration. It was cool to see. I thought he was just painting whatever at first, but I went over and saw he was working on flowers, based on a picture hanging there. I had done the same, from a different picture.

I think his came out really nicely. The teachers were really into it. They said to me, "He very clever boy."

Life goes on

Well, I was going to paste Becky’s story in up here, which was about pollution from China leaving its borders and the growing international problems that is creating. But I can’t get it because is suddenly not loading here. That started this weekend. Put it together yourselves.

They also had a great front-page story yesterday, which Becky worked on Sunday evening about a kid here with treatable leukemia not receiving leukemia because of $$. It’s a great story, and it has led to a huge outpouring of support and offers of money. People started sending money tot he Journal, so they then had to figure out what to do with it and how to set that all up. It is moving forward, so this kid will get the help he needs.

A friend here is sick and getting sicker and the docs can’t figure out what is going on. She went back to the States today for testing, leaving her husband here with their two young daughters. In respect of their privacy, I don’t want to say much more, but it is a really hard situation. Combined with my dad’s health and the WSJ story I just mentioned, we have really been counting our own blessings. It’s such a cliché, but so clearly true – nothing really matters except the health of you and your loved ones. I am really concerned for my friend here because some of the presented possibilities are quite dire. We are having them over for dinner tomorrow and will try to do so as much s possible while she is gone but I wish there as something more I could do.

Dulwich college is putting on this big Festival of Lights show next week. All grades are participating in two separate shows (one for k-first graders, one for everyone else) and it seems to be quite elaborate. Jacob and his class are reading Twas the Night Before Christmas and singing a bunch of songs, including “Santa Claus Is coming to Town’ and “The First Noel.” It really is odd to have such overtly Christmas stuff in the school, coming from our background. We can’t complain too much, however, because Jacob takes it all in stride and Eli’s class is actually doing Chanukah.

I brought a menorah into his class and as soon as I walked in, I was bum rushed by kiddies wanting to see and touch a real menorah. They are all fired up. Eli told me that they we re wearing “havarah hats” and lighting a giant menorah. They are also singing a Hebrew song. Hearing E sing it is hilarious. Hearing his whole class, two thirds of whom are Asian, belt it out while wearing kepas should be priceless. Not sure if any one is doing Kwanzaa.

They are really taking this show seriously, with two performances each, the two groups alternating matinees and evening performances next Tuesday and Wednesday. It is actually in keeping with the general philosophy of the school. They actually have a class called “performance’ instead of music, and I for one applaud it. Performance is a big part of life, and we all know it.

Sunday afternoon, after Jacob went to Sunday School, which he is now accepting and actually enjoying, I think, we headed downtown to the Bell and Drum Towers. The real landmark is that we drove down there. It was our first time venturing into the middle of town in a car and it was fine. The destination was sort of a mistake because they are largely outdoor activities, requiring a fair amount of walking and once again IT WAS FREEZING. Both towers require climbing up over a hundred almost vertical stone steps that are about 600 years old cold, slippery stone. Pretty interesting thing to attempt while carrying a kid. I had never been up the Bell before and didn’t realize it was outside, so we trekked up, then had had to come back down right away.

We crossed a freezing plaza and trudged up the Drum Tower, which is even longer, but at least we knew it as an enclosed room. Jacob did it on all four, very proud of his improvised technique. Becky carried anna and I ended up carrying E most of the way. On the way up, we heard the drumming start – they put on a show every half hour. Damn. So we had to wait 30 minutes, which wasn’t too bad because it was enclosed if not heated so only half freezing and there are some good tchotchkes up there, so we bought some Chanukah presents for cousins. And then the inevitable, from E: “I have to pee, real badly!”
“Ok, let’s all go down and leave.”
Jacob; “No way. I’m not leaving without seeing the drums.”
Eli: [jumping up and down] “I’m going to pee in my pants!”
Me: “Hold it in. Let’s go.”

He was terrified of the down steps, so I carried him. We made it to the bathroom –a self-flushing squattie! Then I carried him back up. Man, my quads were burning and I was panting. We saw the drumming. We went back down. Jacob started whining now, but we told him if we clammed up and gutted it out he could have a treat. We made it around the corner to our car and there was a “Quick” convenience store right there. We went in and they all bought a bag of candy.

We got back in the car and sludged through traffic to the Oriental Plaza Mall and went to the Sony Science Center there. Another new, cool indoor place. And the mall itself was pretty lux, much more so than the China World I wrote about last week. Burberry, Levis, Nike, Swatch, huge Starbucks. That’s just what I remember. It’s funny. We have been sort of deprived of that sort of stuff (which for the most part is a deprivation I welcome) so you go in there and it’s sort of overwhelming. Everything looks really bright and shiny. Again, I was blown away by how much disposable income so many Chinese obviously have.

Jacob very astutely noticed that this little Japanese noodle shop was the same place we found near China World and everyone loved. He noticed that the lantern light fixtures were the same. We ate there and mid meal, Anna said she had to pee. I picked her up and felt my arm a nd leg get wet and warm. I’m just keepin’ it real, man. A big part of being a parent is eating dinner with a pea-soaked sleeve and carrying a whining kid up 150 slippery ancient stone steps.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Damn It’s Cold!

Until the end of last week, it was a pretty mild fall here. People talk a lot about how rough the winters are but I was thinking, “Ah, everyone is said that is someone who has never been through a winter before.” I was wearing my heavy fall coat, a nice Quicksilver fleece-lined jobbie I bought in beach haven last summer, light hat and light gloves and was fine. Still riding my bike everywhere without a second thought. We were all doing the same.

Then came last Friday. Oh my. The temperature plummeted, the air grew raw, the wind was so strong that in Eli’s room it sounded like a man howling and we sat in the living room staring in slack-jawed amazement at the wildly rocking bamboo shoots in our neighbor's backyard. That was three days ago and it has been that way ever since, with the temperature actually dropping another degree or two. Saturday morning we had our first snow, though it was just a dusting.

As best I can tell, it’s 19-20 degrees. That comes from You can’t pick up the morning paper and look. Anyhow, it has been really cold and bitter. It really has felt colder than 20 degrees. That is probably in part due to the initial shock of the first real cold snap, but there is also a certain rawness that it quite different and distinct. The air is so dry that with the heat cranked, I feel like I am living in some sort of giant dehumidifer, having the liquid sucked out of my pores. My knuckles are cracked. My lips are chapped, my eyes are drying out. I’ve been setting up humidifers in every room and they definitely help but only so much, I am living on Refresh eyedrops, chapstick, Eucerin and No-crack hand crème.

Another factor is that this house is just ridiculous in terms of weatherproofing. You can stand by a window or one of the patio doors and feel the air coming in like they are open. The walls are all cement (which also makes hanging anything up very interesting). Jim McGregor, the fellow who bought this house way back when, told me “they were made by Singaporeans for Singapore” and that seems about right. In design and everything else, they are tropical houses. But we are decidedly not in the tropics.

You know how, in the Midwest and Northeas,t they refer to cold fronts as “Arctic air?” Well, here they talk of Siberian winds. Take a look at a map. Siberia’s not all that far away, and now it really feels like it’s here, or we’re there. We are still riding our bikes and I was really proud of Jacob this morning. On our way to school, we came around a bend and hit a very strong, very cold, very nasty headwind. I was pulling Anna and Eli in a little buggy, so they were covered and safe, but Jacob was trudging along. It became very hard to ride, my eyes were tearing, my lips frozen. Jacob stopped and was sort of walking his bike, with his foot atop the curb. I could see he was about to dump the bike and lose it. I talked him off the edge, got him to keep going and encouraged him all the way up there. He made it.

On the way into school, his friend Peter came by on his bike. He had a hat on under his helmet and scarf wrapped around his neck and face. All of that skin was sort of exposed on Jacob. We got up tot the bike area and there were just a few there. Just last week, it was so jammed, you couldn’t find a spot. Jacob became very proud walking in with Peter – the tough guys still riding their bikes -- and I was glad I got him through that rough spot rather than giving in and having him crawl into the back with the other two, which I almost did. I brought him a neck gater after school and that worked well. He even got it up over his ears a bit.

Driving to school is a real problem because there is no good place to park, so I am going to do everything to keep this going. It’s good for all of us. If it stays this cold or keeps getting colder, this is going to be a long winter, however, and I will take back every thought I had that people complaining about the winter were wimpy.

My neighbor Theo said to me today, “At least you are getting a break,” because they are staying here through Christmas and New year’s. And that’s true. Of course, we are making our annual winter journey to everyone’s favorite cold weather getaways spots – our Rust Belt tour will take us to Detroit, Bay City and Pittsburgh in addition to New jersey. The rivers are beautiful when they’re frozen! I pointed it out to Theo and she said, “Yeah, but it’s a break. You’ll see.” And I know I will.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

And the winner is...

Without a doubt, the winner is 11-year-old Josh Kessler, my nephew. Way to go, Josh. You officially became a man two years before your Bar Mitzvah. Now go fetch the hot peppers.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Pick up the Weekend Journal tomorrow

Becky has a front page story on China's environmental issues in tomorrow's Weekend Journal. It was an interesting writing process, expanded from a smaller story pretty late in the game. Let's just say I was lonely in the King Coil last night and she remains a woman of incredible stamina. I especially liked watching her finish up and answer some editors' questions this am with Anna on her lap crawling over her.

The Judge weighs in...

Uncle Benny "Here comes Da Judge" cohen steps up to the plate with this message:

As we say in legal circles: Res Ipsa Loquitur (The thing speaks for

He definitely gets the prize for best, most creatively staged photos. I think he looks great. Joan, you may want to hire a PI to tail him around Newark. he is going to prove irresistable.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Color photo of Dixie

Got it squared away. Here is a better image of bald Dixie Doc.

By the way, I have had some inquires into why we call my dad Dixie. Click here for more info.

Just like that, it's gone again

As mysteriously as it returned, access to blogspot has vanished again, so I can no longer see the site. I was on the site yesterday morning and yesterday evening I couldn't get on. Once again, I realized this thanks to Russ Bengsten's hoops blog . I realized blogspot was back when I got on there and saw it was blogspot and realized it was rebanned when I tried to follow a link from slamonline to russ and timed out. I tried to get back up here and sure enough... nada.

So I'm back to where I started, able to post and edit and read your comments via email, but not able to see the site. Which is a drag, by the way. Jacob and Eli particularly liked looking at the page. I also can't do things like check to see if links work, or photos are covering up text. Please drop me a note any time you see any such problem.

Speaking of hair...

Here is a shot of me on the Kennywood Merry Go Round, circa 1975. Take that, Jesse Paul. I need to look at this whenever Jacob's raggedy 'do is driving me nuts.

Mad props to DK, who took this picture, saved it all these years, scanned it and got it to me. And thanks for all those trips to Kennywood, homey.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hair sagas continue

The email keeps pouring in and the hair keeps falling off.

Delaware Dave was next to the barber’s chair. Photo included here. His 13-year-old son Jesse did his part by trimming his Jewfro from insane to extreme.

I am subject to ridicule for this haircut, which is short enough that when I walked in to pick up Eli after getting it two days ago, the whole class broke up laughing and Race Cameron (son of Jacob’s teacher Mrs. Cameron) said, “Hi, Mr. No Hair.” I asked for a number-one cut. Dixie says it looks like a three. Who knows if they use such terms here in China. My haircutter did not speak English.

Meanwhile, this was just the excuse that Delaware Dave has been waiting for to take it all off, though frankly he always keeps it virtually this short.
Here was his response to DK’s shaving:

Nice. 1st Lemming over the cliff. I'll be seeing my barber Tony soon. A few years ago I was at a meeting in DC and decided to get my hair cut. The big black woman cutting my hair tried to talk me into shaving down to the bone. She told me, "honey, you take all that hair off you'll have women circled around you trying to lick whipped cream off your round head." Time to test that theory.

Lemmings indeed. All I did was make a proposal and bam. Of course, I pulled over at the edge of the cliff and watched the rest of the lemmings tumble down below. But we did apparently raise Dixie’s spirits and stop him from contemplating a wig purchase. Thank God for that.

I think we should also pause for a moment to appreciate the fact that our little group has managed to turn even our fearless leader’s chemotherapy into a pushup contest. Some things never change and this is healthy, I suppose. I may have kept a little tuft of hair but I still will take on any of these guys in a hot pepper eating contest.

It should be also be noted that Dixie and DK both report that DP’s DC barber may have been on to something.

Dr. Kann writes in:

They loved it at work. Can't believe how young it makes me look. Delaware Dave's barber had it right. Look out D.K.

Dixie himself is continuing to go to work at Children’s Hospital, where he debuted his new ‘do yesterday, apparently to similar accolades. He claims all the nurses were ooing and awing.

He writes, Your blog pic doesn’t do my new look justice. They loved it at work this A. Perhaps Delaware Dave learned something of great value in D.C. Love, Dad

Another valuable lesson is nurses and office employees often praise doctors and bosses. Just a thought.

Dixie takes it off

Well, now. Dixie is not one to wait around for anything to happen, including his hair to fall out. So, inspired by DK's action and all of our chatter, he headed over to Raffaele on lower Murray, who has been cutting his hair forever, and took it all off. Here he is. When Raffaele heard why he was cutting this cut, he refused to accept any money.

He sent me the picture in some sort of odd fashion so I had to convert it to Photoshop and being self taught in that crazy program, I managed to make the photo black and white. I could figure out how to solve this problem, but I think it’s better to get it up and move on.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Keepin It Real

Well, you guys keep me on my toes.

It’s so easy to slip into boring and easy routine here in the compound. Take the kids to school, go to the gym, work, eat, read, work, pick the kids up. Play, eat, homework, out the kids to bed, work some more, read some more, go to bed. Repeat in the morning. It’s easy, it’s effective, it’s right there. And it leaves me a little bored and worse, with nothing to write about up here. Sometimes I think, “I must feed the blog. I better go over to the kite market or something.”

So it keeps me moving. And that’s a good thing.

I have actually been quite busy on the workfront. I am finishing up a few things for Slam and Guitar World and trying to figure out what to write for my next That’s BJ sports column while also get some work done on two stories I am working on for the Journal that are taking forever to get off the ground. In addition, I am trying to finish up some sample columns about life here. And, oh yeah, if I have a chance, I need a few good story ideas to send Sports Illustrated.

Despite all that, I would really prefer to just write these blog entries. I don’t know what that says about me and if you do, keep your mouth shut. If you have a good idea for a China-based SI story, however, please send it my way.

We had to renew our visas today, which is pretty funny considering we only got them a few months ago. But everything you get expires on 12/31 of that year. It is good for the year, not a year. So it is time to get the paperwork going to make us legal residents of P.R. china for 2006. We got all the paper work together and headed down to the police station/visa control office downtown. Same place we visited earlier this year.

Mr. Dou drove us down. We got in lane and waited our turn. The uniformed officee processed Becky’s paperwork then took mine, read it over, looked up and smiled. “Remember me?” he said. “I very like Slam.”

Of course, I remembered him. If you don’t, click .here
and scroll down.

“Now you’ve been here for a few months. Who do you think is the best Chinese basketball player?”

“I’m still not sure who is the best right now, but Yi Jianlin and Sun Yue have the most potential.”

“Oh yeah. Yi is very tall, like Yao. Sun can jump very high.”

Mr. Dou was listening to all this and he was flabbergasted. He had no idea what we were talking about or why this officer was being so friendly and solicitous to me. They conversed. The cop showed him my press pass and said, “I very like Slam” in Chinese I guess. Dou laughed and smiled at me. I think I gained a lot of prestige with him at that moment.

Then the officer asked the question of the moment, “What is wrong with the Rockets?” In case you don’t know they had lost 8 straight before winning last night and Yao is under increasing attack from Houston fans. This is a subject of grave concern here. I did an interview with a national sports newspaper about it the other day and several Chinese associates/friends who know what I do have called or emailed me about it. It’s hard not to just say, “Well, Yao’s not as good as you think.”

Jeff Van Gundy is probably my least favorite coach of recent memory. I despise watching his teams play, and he is so loaded with weird journeymen right now that with TMac out, poor Yao is just exposed. Hopefully TMac and Rafer will be ok and they’ll win some games and keep spirits up over here. I’m sure David Stern is hoping so. There is so much talk about china wanting to find the next Yao but I think the NB wants to just as badly. More soon…

Mad props to Dixie and DK

Dixie started his chemo yesterday and all reports are it went well. I spoke to him after he got home and he sounded pretty much fine, if a little tired.

Dr. David Kann shaved his head this morning in solidarity. Brother Dave says he's following suit. It was my idea so I guess I am on the hotseat now. I did get mine buzzed down to a number one yesterday, but I suppose that doesn't count. All i can say is, meow.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Report

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. We had 26 people here, 13 adults and 13 kids, mostly 5 and under. Several people were experiencing heir first Thanksgiving, and they all really enjoyed it. We had representation from China, Israel, Bolivia, Austria , Ethiopia and London. My Chinese teacher Wang Dong came as well as Shei Oster, new to B’s office and his girlfriend. The rest of the folks were Riviera residents and neighbors, including the yardleys, who sort of co-hosted. It was our house but they supplied a lot, including a second turkey.

We had traditional turkey, which was damn good. I followed a simple recipe from Epicurious – equal parts paprika, garlic powder and salt made into a paste and rubbed all over the bird, then just roasted it long and slow. We didn’t have a baster so we iprov’ed by pouring chicken broth over and that seemed to work well. The bird was really mist and tasty.

I also made a stuffing recipe we picked up from Epicurious, with country bread, pine nuts and raisins and a bunch of other veggies. It was delicious. We made a Stove Top and threw it in to the bird as well. Others brought potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, salad and, of course, lots and lots of wine. I supplied the endless Tsingtao beer. Mr. Li made us a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin and an apple pie on Weds. night. It was all delicious but, as always, the company made it and we had a really nice night.

Its kind of funny but this is one of the firs things that has really made feel like an adult. You’d think somewhere along the line to having three kids, something else would have kicked in, but I still feel like I belong at the kid’s table. But this is the first time I’ve ever hosted Thanskgiving rather than just reverting to being a kid, and there I was at the head of the table.

I certainly missed family and being in Pittsburgh, and seeing everyone but it wasn’t too bad. Jacob felt it most acutely. When we were going to bed, he said, “Thanskgivings at home are way better than this one.” I asked him why. “Well, this was fun, but it was just like a party. It didn’t seem like Thanksgiving.” The kid is smart. That could only mean, “Where the hell is the rest o fmy family?” so I asked if he missed his family and he said, “Yeah, especially Pop pop and Grandma Suzie.” Which makes sense because that is who we have had Thanksgiving with the last few years. I told him it was okay to miss your friends and family who are far away and still be happy and feel good about where you are and that I do so all the time.

He has been going though a bit of a homesick spell lately. About two weeks ago he and Eli both started complaining about missing stuff. It is really funny, too, because Jacob always says “New Jersey” as “this is better in new Jersey” while E refers to our homeland as… England. “When are we going to England, dad?” I guess because we speak English. Maybe because several of his friends are Brits and have probably been talking about going back to England.

Eli was feeling so homesick at one point he said, “I miss everyone in England. Even the adults.” As Steve Goldberg pointed out when I told him this, it must be really bad when they miss the adults. He ticked off on his fingers all the friends he wanted to see when we went home… “Jackson, Eli Gomberg, Ben Kessler, Jun, Luke, Lucas. Do I have another friends to see, dad?”

Jacob was more obsessed with missing our house. At one point in the bath, he pointed to some peeling caulk and said, “See our house in New Jersey is much better. That was particularly funny because the caulk in that tub is really peeling. He had already discussed this with Becky and he then said to me, “Do you know when we go back, we can’t even go into our house, even though it’s still ours?”

“Yeah,” I said. “But you wouldn’t really want to anyhow. Other people live there now and their stuff is there, not ours.”

“I t doesn’t matter, dad. It’s the house I want to see.”

Eli’s homesickness lasted a day or two and hasn’t really been mentioned again. Jacob’s has lingered a bit, though and pops up in odd ways. I picked up some pencils and sharpeners at the kite market last week. He needed them for school but the sharpener was terrible and the points got real sharp, then broke right away, no matter how we tried. He finally threw it across the room, sending shavings everywhere and saying to me, “See, dad? Nothing works right in China!” He has a point. All the good stuff is on container ships bound for Costco and Wal Mart. That same trip I bought a nail clipper that couldn’t clip.

Anyhow, Jacob is still mostly very happy and is thriving at school. They have a merit system where ou get one for particularly good behavior or work and every 10 you get an award at assembly – bronze, silver, gold. He earned his 10th today and is getting a certificate next Thursday and is very, very proud. He is the third kid and first boy in his class to earn his bronze (they just started it about 3-4 weeks ago).

Thanskgiving two is tomorrow (Saturday) at some friends’ house. It starts with a Turkey Bowl. Better late than never. Happy thanksgiving to all.