Summer doldrums

I joined the union and have had one day of film work, doing craft service. I won’t say much there other than it was a long but well paid day. Looking forward to more. It’s frustrating to have a window out of my current routine but just not having more work really “come through”.

Meanwhile Uber driving continues it’s downward spiral: an over-saturated market meaning fewer good fares, continued AC problems which seem to confound my mechanic – who at least isn’t charging anymore with attempted fixes, which only seem to last a few weeks. And I still owe plenty on the car. I’ve got a feeling huge problems are going to arise before it’s even paid off. Saw several negative reviews I hadn’t looked at until now. These fucking people: getting a great deal on a ride, the company working me against my car to give the privilege and hey, you get to write an review too. So the car seats in the used car I have (for now) aren’t clean enough for you? Well thanks, your majesty for the $3.75 I most likely got for your piddly ride. Feel free to go fuck yourself and your comment.

But this “give your feedback” trend is biting plenty these days I’m sure. All power to fleeting consumer opinion. The more rides you give, the more likely you are to accrue negative feedback and more likely the car gets more run down. I do vacuum from time to time, but the floor mats go instantly back to their former state. The seats had stains when I got the thing, 3 months and 13,000 miles ago…

Bitching about the 80’s and Nerd Culture

I was writing a review of David M. Ewalt’s ‘Of Dice and Men’ just now and spiraled to topics beyond D+D. I’ll re-purpose some of that here…

It’s strange how I love seeing references to things my former nerdy self did, as it felt so isolating at the time, even though I had a close group of friends also involved. On the other hand, it drives me nuts how EVERY nerdy pursuit, comic, character which was a secret joy for the outsider/underdog has been drawn out into the the mainstream and gone blockbuster. Thanks to the nature of the game, this can only happen so much with D+D. If you were doing it right, no one could ever interpret or capture your unique characters.


In a way, young people can never fully appreciate how much the 80’s generally sucked and how special underground culture of the time was. I’m tempted to make some analogy about how hardcore punk wasn’t something you could lazily research or download, “put on” with a uniform you got at Hot Topic in the mall. (Wait, do they even have Hot Topic…or malls…anymore? Jesus, how old am I?) And nerd culture wasn’t on TV or the big screen calling out to you, if not shoved down your throat. Pixels were too big. Hobbits were animated with pen and ink, not green screens. Computers were expensive, didn’t actually do much, AND you had to program them. But I’m just an aging Gen x’er ranting. And it wasn’t as great as drug-fueled orgies I was too young for in the 70’s. But maybe as those attend-ies would make claims to REAL partying, we are want to make claims to REAL nerd culture. But as much as I might sneer at kids born into the developed world since the nerd has been on top, calling the shots, I definitely envy modern level of female involvement. Playing video games and watching Adventure Time a “date”? I hope you appreciate it Youngblood! And I’m certainly glad things didn’t swing the other way and what I lived wasn’t the heyday of Nerd Culture, even if in a way it seemed more genuine/less commercialized.



Uber Driving

I’m over 250 rides in and have been keeping brief audio journals to remind myself of certain days and passengers. Uber has been a nice landing from China, but I won’t do it too long. Weekly pay is nice, but you put plenty into the gas tank and repairs on the cars itself. I had some AC issues, which in GA heat and summer humidity will not do. It seems my first few weeks had some circumstances which have proven to be unusual now that I’ve gotten more into the routine – long rides etc. I only do around 20-25 hours a week and in the 3-8ish time slot. I borrowed a gopro camera I’ll use with night rides, but…I’m in no hurry to start dealing with drunks, or amateurish ones.


Some things you wouldn’t expect: most everyone has a smartphone these days and I’ve dropped off in trailer parks and people living in hotels. It’s really annoying when people expect to make multiple stops for errands before their destination. And people will leave you waiting far too long when you are there ready to begin the ride, but I read in an article just now the company will start automatically charging after 2 minutes of your arrival. It seems the company is committed to tweaking things in the name of improvement. They send a bit too many texts and emails but overall it’s fine. Airport runs are where the real money is and I end up going several times a week. I’m also not as adamant about refusing tips as I was at first. The company also gives discounts on car maintenance, phone plans, and a gas credit card, which saves me a dime a gallon. Most riders are pretty cool and I’m learning new routes all over the city, which is nice as Atlanta is constantly reconstructing itself. I see more highway wrecks than I used to. That’s actually one thing I’ve had to readjust: being a native born Atlantan vs. Uber driver, when someone not in the know says “let’s get on the northeastern side of 285 at 4:45 on a Thursday”, but it’s not as bad when you are being paid to sit there in the mess.

Nav apps are another issue. I’m choosing Waze over googlemaps, but there are still times when a street shown as a cut through isn’t anymore, esp. in Buckhead, or it will recommend a route the passenger complains about. Some people seriously get off on backseat driving…”turn on your signal, now go here, now do this”, but they are out soon enough. And drivers get to rate the passengers too. I’ve actually gotten to use my pathetic Mandarin on 4 different occasions and generally like how international ATL has gotten.

The Lobster

I met this guy at my gym in those final days in Beijing. Peter ran an intl film festival. We did a huge media swap: music and film. He’s a bit burned out on the film unfortunately, but I guess when you organize a festival, you just get reams of submissions. Most of what I got from him I considered to be “obscure European stuff”, and this certainly qualifies. But when I started hearing reviews for The Lobster, I realized…”wait, I have this”, so watched. Excellent black comedy. Excellent for the happily single, or maybe the not so happily so. An examination of how society treats “the single”, taken to an absurd level.


I can’t remember when I last laughed aloud at a representation of child cruelty in a film (its not THAT dark). The end devolves into something I can’t completely absorb or explain and will need future re-viewings. Definitely a unique vision, but not for everyone…

Black Waterside

OK getting back into “post” mode…

Heard an NPR story last year, early in my last China stay. Learned my favorite Zeppelin song isn’t a Zeppelin song…oh wait, Page changed the title slightly so its not complete theft. Whatever, I hated on Z for most of my life and have reached a peace with the early stuff, so wont belabor that point. Just praise Bert Jansch. Olivia Chaney covered one of his in her 2016 BE set, great stuff.

One morning fair
As I took the air
Down by Black Waterside
And in gazing all around me
The Irish lad I spied

All for the fore part of that night
We lay in sport and play
Then that young man arose and gathered his clothes
Saying, “Fare thee well today”


That’s not the promise that you gave to me
When you lay upon my breast
For you made me believe with your lying tongue
That the sun rose in the west

Go home, go home, to your father’s garden
Go home and cry your fill
And think on your misfortune
That you’ve wrought with your wanton will

One evening rare, I took the air
Down by Black Waterside
And in gazing all around me
The Irish lad I spied.

Back in the USA

Wow, I’m so overdue for a post but am not quite feeling it. Some broken keys on my laptop and typing with the virtual keyboard is a bitch. I’ve been back for two weeks now. Tales of note include the meth-ed out buffoon who took my teaching job in Beijing, my official fear of flying since last May’s horrid return from HK but crossing he Pacific and US anyway, going to Big Ears 2016 right after getting back and my plans for the future. But I’m not properly motivated to get it all down. Maybe if you’re a regular reader shoot me some encouraging feedback. Talking to you, Mountain View, CA…

pondering with baijiu

Six months into latest contract

I temporarily have a Freegate VPN, which sort of works, and when Irma, my girlfriend, came to visit from Indonesia, she set up some sort of portal which other wise allows me around The Great Firewall. Neither are ideal. Meanwhile one of shift keys, in addition to my “t” and “y” have crapped out on my keyboard. So updates are difficult at best. But nevertheless… Despite only being halfway through my contract, and as they love to state on GoT “Winter is coming”, I’m doing OK in China. Had some more health freakouts, but when hospital tests didn’t reveal much, I’ve settled on the old culprit excess weight making my bp climb. But my boss has bought me a membership to a fairly fancy gym, and I got this French anti-snoring mouthpiece, I’m generally sleeping and feeling better.

What to mention? Sadly, it seems not so many important things have happened apart from Irma’s awesome month long visit. I’ve had the apartment mainly to myself after taking over the big room with Marc’s departure. Some folks have come through, I guess technically five, but none have stayed more than 5 nights and most far fewer. So the place mostly to myself since June. Classes and work are OK, but I’m loving 6 days off right now and don’t exactly see how I’ll do six more months but I don’t want to waste time with work bitching.

When Irma was here I did some classic Beijing things I hadn’t since m first visit here in ’06. M god, how will that be 10 ears this coming January? The Chaoyang Acrobat show is still choice, if not expensive. Had BJ duck again, saw the Summer Palace, and out to The Wall, though she did the Forbidden City on her own. I was great to experiment with living together, if only for the month. It’ll be a hard road for us mostly based on other sides of the Earth and neither having much money, but life is long and we’ll see how the next steps go. I’ve all but quit drinking, maybe only 4 or 5 times a month for a while now and will keep it so until I’m thinner and healthier. I mus say: China without the whores, grass and booze isn’t nearly as appealing. But thus is the path on which I find myself. Nose to the grindstone, get thinner, in better shape, keep paying off debts and save some money for the future.
Watching lots of series (Hannibal, Narcos, The Knick, Fortitude, Mr. Robot, Shameless (US and UK), Fargo etc etc) as China is still a torrenting worry free haven.

Heading out of HK

So I’m at the airport early as they have air con and free wifi. What to post before heading back behind the Great Firewall. I guess some talk about HK…

view from 21st fest Western

I need to come back here with more time, money and better acclimation to the insane humidity. Got my Z visa, which was bit more than my agent said, but it’s all good. A flickr contact gave me some info on the Red Light scene in HK which he often shoots. I did go down and check it out, but didn’t spend much, wasn’t buying beer for the Filipinas who chatted me up and they were talking much after that. No some portraits. One aged Thai chatted me up on my walk home, and I was able to amuse her with some Thai phrases, but as I wasn’t spending, she was all “I change now, Da Ling” as they do. I got a laugh out of her though with my parting “good luck to you” spoken as they all do.

Dragon Club

I’m so spoiled on the mainland…HK seems expensive. There are some extra taxes and such and if you’re earning here I’m sure it isn’t bad. Oh, and a bit of bad luck: a Gary Baseman show opens tomorrow… It was set up, and I would have bought some merch, but couldn’t get in! So only pics of inflatable Toby outside.

Uuugh, Gary Baseman Hong Kong show starts two days after I leave...

Hong Kong, we shall meet again. Skipping the hotel room for the all nighter at the airport and visa office stress, plus %6000 humidity, threw me off my game. Live and learn. Got another free VPN, but we’ll see if it works…

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