hello kfc, goodbye stress

Work work work … KFC! Yum. 15.5 kuai? Yup. Two-minute walk? I’m in.


The spicy chicken sandwich (香辣鸡腿堡 xiāng là jītuǐ bǎo) is, in my opinion, delicious. Best thing on the menu. The spice is just enough to make your mouth tingle but not enough to require a drink. Most importantly, the chicken sandwich is made with dark meat. Ah yes, dark meat. I will never understand why Americans insist on eating white meat. If you’re trying to be heatlthy, then sure, white meat has less fat than dark meat. But dark meat is so much more flavorful! And if you’re trying to be heatlhy, why the heck are you at KFC in the first place? I remember when McDonald’s turned their chicken nuggets to be all white meat. That was a sad, sad day. I guess that will end up being one of those “back when I was a kid …” kind of stories, like when Pluto was a planet.

Anyhow, the reason for my trip to KFC was because this past week was sheer madness. I normally bring my lunch to work, but I didn’t have time to prepare anything and I didn’t want to take too long of a lunch break since there was still stuff to get done. Yup, that’s my rationale for hopping over to KFC and indulging in some greasy goodness. No matter. The key is moderation and since I rarely eat fast food, one chicken sandwich isn’t going to kill me. Besides, it was sooooo good! Ah, instant stress reliever!

laundry – every day, every building


Laundry. No matter how good any residential complex is designed, if it’s in China, its facade is going to be defined by laundry. Most people don’t use driers and still hang dry, so it’s a pretty common sight to see people’s underwear hanging overhead. Unless the building doesn’t have any balconies or large windows from which stuff could be hung out of. But that would be a fairly sorry complex.

osage: over the ocean

A few weeks back I went to the opening of My Father Is over the Ocean (solo show by Hong Kong artist Au Hoi Lam), which also represented the re-opening (in a new location) of Osage Gallery. The exhibition is almost entirely about the relationship between the artist and her father and her grief at his passing, with the title derived from the folk song “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” (which according to my Chinese colleague is not widely known in China). Overall I liked the exhibition and thought it was well done, partly because I’m a sucker for this kind of softer, more nuanced art, but it lacked a kind of power I was hoping for, so I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see.


Sixty Questions for My Father (or for Myself), 2012-2013

I had never been to the original Osage Gallery, which closed before I arrived in Shanghai, but I gotta say … the current location is awkward, at the edge of an apartment complex in a fairly isolated area, and the interior layout is troublesome. The gallery is split between the building’s ground floor and basement, and it’s pretty obvious the basement was converted from mechanical services because the small adjoining rooms and narrow entrances are super aggravating. The original folk song is about someone who has gone – Bonnie in the song and the artist’s father in the show – and the repeated lyrics create this feeling of nostalgia and interiority with a twinge of melancholy. The piece Sixty Questions for My Father played nicely into this. Au Hoi Lam had disassembled the bunk bed her father used to sleep on and wrote questions on each piece. The repetition of these various wooden boards against the half-painted blue walls reflected that nautical, drifting theme quite nicely.

There is definitely an interesting thought process to Au Hoi Lam’s work, but her over-reliance on personal stories felt a bit limiting at times. And I found her paintings to be quite subpar. Without the blue walls, all the pieces would’ve been blah. I’m not sure if the blue paint was the artist’s decision or the curator’s, but the bright hue was definitely necessary to tie the works together, keep the mood buoyant, and provide some color in the space. The exhibition found a greater measure of success in the larger multi-piece installation works, but will I visit the exhibition again? No, it’s not powerful enough to warrant a second trip. Will I visit the gallery again? Only if there’s something I’m absolutely dying to see, which is unlikely. Because the location really sucks.

Au Hoi Lam: My Father Is over the Ocean. Shanghai Postscript.
March 14 – April 14 May 30, 2014

Osage Shanghai
Room 101, Block 5, Wangzu City
251 Caoxi Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai
Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 AM – 6:30 PM
Sunday, 2:30 PM – 6:30 PM

rain rain go away

This past month or so has been absolutely damp. It’s rained almost every day. Kinda depressing, but acid rain is better than choking air, right? Er … or is it a toss-up? When there’s bad air, everyone is basically forced inside and you start writing your will because you figure you’re going to die soon. When there’s rain, there are umbrellas hitting you in the face left and right and taxis are near impossible to find.

However, rainy days make for some pretty reflections with the wet pavement. Shanghai loves its bright rainbow lights, and while they generally come across as ostentatious and gaudy, they can make an otherwise gloomy day a bit more fun. Take for example the below rainbow-fied East Nanjing Road, one of the main shopping streets in Shanghai (at least historically). Kinda cheery, right?


Rain rain go away, come again some other day. It’s got the “come again” part down, if only we could work on the “go away” part ….

printing cmyk

I got to say, getting things professionally printed is kind of cool but oh so tedioius. Clicking ‘print’ on your home computer this is not. CMYK for a long time was an annoyance (since I usually work with digital-only), but it is pretty cool to adjust colors in actual print and see the difference on paper rather than just the screen. However, it is super annoying to have to compromise on the colors when they’re perfect on the screen. No printing or controlling the color image by image allowed, it’s four pages at a time, honey.

And the process takes forever! Just give me the book already! Seriously! I spent six hours at the printer’s, and probably did a total of about half an hour’s work. The rest was waiting. And I’m still not happy with the colors. Le sigh.


a pretty flower, a pretty city

I wouldn’t call Shanghai a pretty city. Despite all the shiny buildings, there’s an overall lack of finesse, a roughness that comes with looking so far into the future that there’s no attention to detail. But sometimes you’ll walk around the city, and despite the whirring madness going on around you – the honking horns, weaving taxis, daredevil e-bikes, pushy pedestrians, and wailing children – you’ll find a sense of peace. It’s the kind of peace that doesn’t come often in one of the world’s largest cities, and seems almost awkward in the context.

140407 a

140407 b

Shanghai, for all its downfalls, has its moments of triumph.

the right to vote

I read an article the other day about how in 2013, a record 2999 people renounced their US citizenship. Those who explained their decisions had perfectly logical reasons for doing so, and seemed genuinely distraught about the ordeal, but … wow. What’s my limit? I’ve always been proud to be an American, but is there anything that would make me reconsider?

One man who was still contemplating renunciation mentioned one thing he was reluctant to give up: the right to vote in US elections.


It’s one of those things that so many people take for granted. And so many people in the US don’t even bother voting because “it’s a hassle” or “my vote won’t matter anyway” or “wait, there was an election?” I’ve always liked to vote. It’s like giving blood – if you can, you should. The US isn’t perfect, but people who complain about the country but make no strides to promote change or be involved? That’s the real shame.

So even though I’m in China, I’m all signed up for absentee voting. And since I’m in China, I don’t even have to worry about jury duty. No plans to stop being an American for me.