Ode to the Ill-Fated Banquet

A poem by Tom Fearon

He landed in Guangzhou one hot afternoon
to seal his ailing company's merger.
He'd wine and dine a Chinese tycoon
hoping to take their cooperation further.

He did his homework, or so he thought,
at Cantonese restaurants in Connecticut.
But little did he know, for he hadn't been taught
about China's complex dining etiquette.


Tom Fearon, Sat 1 November 2014 - 08:12


Lessons in the dark – fiction by Daniel Tam-Claiborne


In non-coastal cities in America, area blackouts are about as common as getting struck by lightning or becoming infected by West Nile Virus. They’re so rare even that the simple mention of a date and place can often conjure up memories of an exact moment in a person’s life.

In Taigu, Shanxi province, where I was teaching English for two years, area blackouts occurred about as frequently as trips to the dry cleaners. Rare was it that a few weeks passed without our breakers going haywire and the school losing power to one half of campus or the other.


Daniel Tam-Claiborne, Fri 31 October 2014 - 03:07

Chinese Tuesdays: Hopping Qing zombies


A Halloween special for Chinese Tuesdays today, in case you're looking for a costume and haven't considered Chinese zombie.

僵尸 (jiāngshī) literally means "stiff corpse", tautology that it is. They are reanimated corpses, either ancient and undecomposed or freshly undead, but with Chinese characteristics. For one, they wear the robes of Qing dynasty officials. If they catch up with you, they suck your life energy (气 qì) rather than your brains. As their limbs are stiff their arms are outstretched, but their legs are too, so they move by ... hopping. George Romero didn't think this one through.


Anthill, Tue 28 October 2014 - 05:21

Beige Spirit

History repeats itself in Inner Mongolia – short fiction by Jeff J Brown


Every day after school, Xiao Ding came sprinting across the fields to be with Beige Spirit, his parents’ gift for his thirteenth birthday. His father had offered as many pointers as he could and, for months Xiao Ding did his best to exert mastery over the big, tall gelding horse. But the beast was downright contemptible. Xiao Ding had tried everything: food, love, brushings, wash downs and even whispering in the big beast’s ears, as its huge, black eyes gazed down menacingly. Over the months, Xiao Ding came to realise that their relationship had become a war of dominion. Only one of them could be the boss and, for now, Beige Spirit was winning hands down.


Jeff Brown, Sat 25 October 2014 - 02:05

Joyriding the Taklamakan

You’re never alone in the desert – by Nikolai Blackie


A few years ago, I found myself in far western Xinjiang province, a small town called Sanchakouzhen, 150 miles east of Kashgar on the old northern Silk Road. It was less a town and more a pit-stop for trucks carrying minerals from the mines in China’s west to the refineries out east.


Nikolai Blackie, Thu 23 October 2014 - 05:21

Cantonese Tuesdays: Triad and Tested


Triads are in the public eye again, after thugs with triad connections were accused of being involved in street violence during Hong Kong’s democracy protests. As with anything to do with organised crime, it’s open house at the rumour mill. In the last decades, the triads are said to have branched out into more legitimate business, but it’s still a murky world.

Without the requisite machetes, we can instead arm ourselves with some triad terms, again courtesy of Rosalyn S, so if you can’t walk the walk then at least you can talk the talk. Here are a few of the most useful triad terms.


Anthill, Tue 21 October 2014 - 05:30