when antique pottery fails so hard

You ever have those days where you’re just, like, so over things? But to your sleep-deprived and highly-caffeinated mind, it’s hilarious? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. And that’s how I felt when I saw these pieces that were on display at the Aurora Museum in Shanghai. They’re probably still there. I want to meet the curator and shake his/her hand for displaying such wonderful pieces that scream “FAIL” in such a wonderfully amazing manner.

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Because even though these two pieces of pottery totally fail (all collapsed and what-not), the fact that they’ve survived from the Yuan Dynasty and made it into a museum collection is just fantastic. I love it. When we see historical objects in a museum, they’re usually all just so pristine and untouchable and holier-than-thou perfect, even when they’re broken fragments. But these aren’t just ‘broken’, they’re failures in craftsmanship. That just makes me smile!

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adventures in a missed flight

Today I had an exciting new experience: I missed a flight. Oh my gracious goodness. First time for everything, right? And I’m normally so responsible! So here’s a photo essay to document the experience. Because I have lots of time to kill before my rescheduled flight.

My flight was scheduled for 8:25 AM, and lately I’ve been too busy to prepare, so I decided to stay up to pack and grab a taxi at 5ish. I closed my eyes for a second and the next thing I know, it’s 7 AM. Whups. Threw stuff in my suitcase, ran out the door, and hailed a taxi. It’s about an hour’s drive, so it was obvious I wasn’t going to make it, but in case there was another morning flight, I thought getting to the airport ASAP was priority.

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In the cab I called the travel agent, and when I was told there were no flights until the afternoon, I had the taxi stop at Twosome Coffee instead, because coffee makes everything better. Newly opened on Taixing Road, between West Nanjing Road and Wujiang Road, it’s located in a great location next door to Cachet Boutique, which is a nice boutique hotel I’ve been working with. The coffee was pretty good, I had an Americano … because I’m patriotic like that.

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Was waiting for the agent to call back with availability, and decided to once again head to the airport, this time taking the Line 2 metro, which is slower than a cab but cheaper. On the train they called and I booked a new ticket leaving at 3 PM.

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I was already way far out in Pudong at that point, so it would’ve ridiculous to go home to wait just to come back an hour later. I arrived at the Pudong International Airport at about 10:30 AM.

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Check in wouldn’t start until 12:30, so I chilled. Wandered around the few snack shops and bookstores.

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Ended up at Burger King even though I had BK for dinner last night … not many options for food outside security. Tried their chili cheese fries, aka Cheese and Spicy Beef Sauce French Fries. There wasn’t enough sauce for the amount of fries and the sauce was too sweet, but they were decent enough and today’s a day for new experiences.

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The check-in process was easy enough, but since I only have a carry-on with me, I much would’ve preferred to use a kiosk, but alas, China Southern Airlines isn’t that technologically advanced.

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Then there was customs, which I breezed through like a boss. I’m so glad they’ve gotten over the whole taking off your shoes part of the screening process! I’m by no means a frequent flier, but I’ve flown enough to know how to get through without getting stopped, having anything confiscated, or beeping in metal detectors – lessons that were hard learned (ah, my favorite embroidery scissors … I’m sorry I had to abandon you in Xi’an!).

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After the security check I still had over an hour, so I browsed the duty free shops.

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And the other duty free shops.

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And the others too. Might as well, right?

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And wandered up and down the terminal. What did I find? More gates – yawn.

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Finally I sat down at my assigned gate, took a deep breath, and opened my suitcase. Wow that was a mess. When I say I threw things in this morning, I wasn’t kidding. And yep, I forgot my toiletries bag. Sigh.

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A gate change brought me to the lower level … which is the same area I waited in on my way to Hong Kong and to Tokyo. Huh.

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Boarding! Ciao! And only six and a half hours behind schedule. It’s been fun (not really)!

how to kill an art fair in 10 easy steps

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It’s been a busy month for art fairs in Shanghai! First there was Photo Shanghai, then SH Contemporary and Art in the City, and now West Bund Art & Design. Photo Shanghai and Art in the City were both successes. West Bund Art & Design is bound to be a success. SH Contemporary? Well … that was a nightmare I would much rather forget … if only I could.

So, because I’m still incredibly annoyed by how the whole thing went down, here’s a guide how to kill an art fair in 10 easy steps, as learned from SH Contemporary. After the debacle that SH Contemporary was, I’m pretty sure it’s dead. Actually, I’m pretty sure it died before the fair started but the organizers decided to prop it up, slap some make-up on it, and continue on as if nothing was wrong despite the obvious smell of decay so they could avoid refunding everyone. Does that sound morbid? Well, it was a pretty depressing affair.


Here goes (in no particular order):

1. Avoid media like the plague. Communication? Social media? Press mentions? Not necessary. Why on earth would you want to publicize an art fair? If you are approached by media or industry people who want to promote your event and bring in high-level clientele, feel free to ignore them.

2. Give your exhibitors exercise in extreme runaround and futility. After you collect their tens of thousands of RMB, feel free to waste their time. Make them fill out lots of information (VIP lists, exhibited works, catalogue information), harp on them for not filling things out properly, then promptly ignore it all.

3. Stall. See how much mileage you can get out of the phrase “in a few days” or “let me check on that and get back to you.” Over a month without offering any response? Congratulations, you’re winning!

4. Allow rumors to run rampant. A few weeks before opening, have a curator quit. A few days before the opening, have people saying that the fair might be canceled. Instruct staff to stonewall exhibitors with a form message and have organizers pretend like nothing’s wrong. That way the art world can bring out its catty claws and turn into a giant gossiping machine and spread even more rumors about the people in charge. That’s sure to burn all your reputations.

5. Respond to complaints with “If you don’t like it, quit.” Customer service is totes overrated.

6. Sell admission tickets for 120 RMB, over twice the price of tickets for the better organized and publicized fair that happened at the same location the week before – that’ll ensure low attendance!

7. Don’t update your website. Keep up information from two years ago and include no information on the current exhibitors. And during the fair (and even after), keep the giant “Apply Now” button on the main page. That’s sure to confuse everyone!

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8. Turn in the licensing paperwork to the government way beyond the deadline. That way, behind-the-scenes foreign consular intervention will be required, entangling even more people into the headache. Oh, and this way, once the fair is finally confirmed, there won’t be enough time for works imported from abroad to get cleared by customs (3 days required) and you can have lots of empty walls for the VIP opening and have some booths installing during the first day of the fair! Visitors to an art fair love being bombarded with sounds of drilling and hammering, right?

9. Allow an inexperienced Italian with insignificant connections in China to run a fair … in China. Fill support staff positions with well-meaning but woefully inexperienced Chinese who have no idea how an art fair works. And have an English-only catalogue … in China. Basically, ignore the fact that this is supposed to be a substantial art fair in a major city and instead treat it like an afterthought that is beneath you.

10. Don’t allow exhibitors to sell any works at the art fair. At the fair, right before the opening, tell all the gallerists who paid tens of thousands of RMB that even though they signed up to participate in an art fair, they’re actually only participating in an exhibition rather than a commercial event. That’s sure to piss off all those gallerists to the point where they’ll form an extremely active WeChat group to very passionately discuss legal action against you!


Heads got chopped at the conclusion of the fair, but it seems like the people whose heads should’ve been chopped managed to escape the guillotine, while those who actually tried to help got scapegoated. There was some great artwork on display, but only because there were some good galleries attending. The organization of the fair was abysmal so attendance and sales were much lower than expected. The booth fee and transportation costs added up to a sizable chunk of change (and I can’t even imagine how much the international galleries ended up shilling out), but in all honesty, it’s not just about the money. Each gallery put in so much effort, that to have the organizers treat us so disrespectfully and completely drop the ball was extremely gutting. So yeah, I’m still steaming.

some pillows bleed red

I haven’t posted in a long while, which I could blame on increased homework and studying for the GRE, but in reality I was just lazy. I had some fabric remnants from freshman year (that’s three years!) and I finally got fed up with it laying around and cut the red into pieces and sewed them together with some white cottony/plushy fabric and gray fleece. The result was a passable but boring pillow about 12″ square.

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Then, because I’m a perfectionist, I thought: That just won’t cut it. So I sewed on piece of black ribbon to make a bow. Yay. But then, because I’m also an idiot, I decided to wash it … forgetting that RED dyes tend to bleed RED, especially on WHITE. Oops.

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The white pieces are now more of a coral/pink tie-dye. Kind of ruins the effect I was going for, but it’s not that big of a deal. All in all, I’ll live. The pillow was meant as a floor cushion for myself because I tend to do all my work (like typing this post) while sitting on the floor.

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What I am annoyed about is that I washed that pillow WITH my comforter. I’ve had that comforter since I was really little and now there’s large red smears on it. Any solutions?

Happy March, everyone. Don’t be stupid like me.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]

making bread

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Doesn’t that look … odd? Yes, I made bread in a pie pan. It’s kinda weird. Usually I halve the bread recipes that I find, but this time I forgot. Therefore, I had a whole lotta dough and since I had already filled up the loaf pan and square pan, I resorted to using my trusty pie pan. I used a different recipe for bread this time, and it wasn’t that great. Although I’m not sure if it’s not that great because of all the weird stuff I did to the recipe or if it just wasn’t that great of a recipe to begin with. Either way, I think I’m going to go back to the rosemary bread recipe and just tweak that to suit me.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 6-7 cups bread flour

Process:

  • mix the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar together
  • let the mixture stand until it foams (the yeast blossoms)
  • add three cups of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, and flour
  • add salt once the mixture is thick
  • add flour until you cannot add any more – knead
  • place the dough in an oiled bowl covered with a towel
  • put the bowl in a warm place and let rise for an hour
  • punch the dough down and let it rise for another hour
  • bake in oven at 375F for 25-30 minutes until browned

The thing is, I ran out of bread flour about three cups in. Therefore I started using all-purpose flour, until I ran out of that too. I really need to start planning better. Anyway, that’s why in the picture of my dough rising, it still looks pretty wet … because it was. Eh. Tastes okay, but it doesn’t have that yummy chewiness that I generally like in my breads because I ran out of bread flour. And it just looks weird. But now I’m stuck with a lot of bread. I wouldn’t give it to any of my friends because it has a slightly weird taste, probably because of the random dash of honey I threw in (I don’t know why), and a slightly weird texture, probably because of the flour shenanigans.

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While it was rising, I cooked my sweet potato. The oven was already on since I find it easier to let the dough rise when it’s sitting on top of a hot oven. Usually I just put the oven on a low setting, but I figured I might as well use the oven rather than let all that heat go to waste. After washing the sweet potato, I stuck it in the oven for an hour and a half at 350F. Yum.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]