Inspector Black Cat: China’s Gore-Soaked Answer to Tom & Jerry

Cute baby bunnies, frolicking in a field. Identical twin monkeys, playing hide and seek. A sweet baby panda, serving soup to his sickly mother.

This is how the 1986 mainland cartoon for kids, Inspector Black Cat (黑猫警长), always starts.

But then… well, let’s just say it’s Tarantino time.

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Vodka Bottles Taxidermied Into Mice

Now that we have our Chinese taxidermy certificates, Woo and I needed to get stuffing.

A woman in Qingdao, after hours of discussions, agreed to send a friend to Beijing with a box of frozen rats.  He took the all-night bus, and showed up with a dripping styrofoam box.  “I got confused, and lost, and they melted a little,” he said. Continue reading “Vodka Bottles Taxidermied Into Mice”

Celebrating Easter in China…

When you’re in a country that doesn’t officially celebrate Easter, like China, sometimes you get nervous.  Will the Easter Bunny get his visa yanked at the last-minute?  Are you sure those chocolate eggs are melamine-free?   Is the holiday even legal here?

Well, we had those same concerns too, but finally decided China’s gonna love Easter!

Good Friday
First, start your Easter right, with a large order of “Holy Fries” for Good Friday.  Weren’t chips Jesus’ favorite snack?  Even if they weren’t, they’ll go great with your Friday fish.

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Lucky Fruit (and Ain’t So Lucky Fish)

Yesterday, these little nectarines showed up at the market. Dyed (branded? scalded? waxed? greased up with dirty stinking chemicals?) with Chinese characters, they read tall (高), shining (照), a thing (事) and happiness (喜).

“No, no, no,” said Echo, a good friend. “You’ve bought the wrong ones, and got them in the wrong order. They should read ‘吉星高照,’ which means ‘good luck.’ It’s an idiom.” (The ones I ended up with, ordered as below, read something like “tall photograph of a happy thing.”)

“Or maybe they’re trying to say ‘喜事高照,'” she mused. “It’s not so correct but it’d still make sense.”

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Siamese fighting fish

We’re still deep in the trenches at the taxidermy school outside Beijing, but I thought I’d take a moment to remember some living animals we came across, recently:  Cambodian fighting fish.

The males of the species will live for 2 or 3 years, it’s said, and maybe even 7 or 9 if fed right… but if you stick them together, whoa. Cut that approximate down to a few minutes.

The Insane Monkey Bar in Tokyo

I came to Tokyo for three pilgrimages. The first, a trip to Miyazaki’s Ghibli Museum, left my cheeks wet with tears. The second, lunch at a Miracle Fruit Cafe, had me giggling aloud, the juice from an inedible umeboshi plum running down my chin. And the third? It was to be dinner at an izakaya tavern, waited on by monkeys.

Monkeys. Not guys in monkey suits, or hirsute fellows, but real, honest-to-xxx monkeys. This was probably a PETA nightmare, but monkeys are totally awesome!!!

DDLBiz Christmas Series Children Happy Birthday Party Smokeless Chinese Zodiac Candle Charming Gifts (Monkey) (Kitchen)


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But instead of being in “North Tokyo,” which I’d heard from the Internet rumors, it was far north of Tokyo. The “short train ride” turned out to be two hours from Shinjuku. And from there, another two hours of walking through ramshackle neighborhoods, fields, along highways. I carried a useless map, and asked directions every ten blocks, miming a monkey carrying a tray of sake to help explain what I was searching for. Ominous clouds hovered overhead, threatening rain, but I kept pushing on.

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