posted by Mr. Linty @ 11:01 PM, ,
Well tomorrow is the 1st...
Is it just me, or did that last month go by super quick? I can't believe it's already the last day of April. Sadly, that means my trip is speedily nearing its end. On May 21st I'll be flying to Shanghai for a last hurrah before jumping on a plane on the 25th bound for Atlanta.
Sigh. I'm gonna miss this place. Life is simple, people are awesome, and food is great. Hopefully everything will work out for me to come back soon. I'm shooting for August, actually. We'll see. The Chinese market is looking ripe for LF, but the language barrier is a scary thing when you start thinking about production.
In the meantime, this summer is going to be packed with shows. I've signed up for 4 already, and if I can squeeze a 5th I'll go for it. The first two are coming up in the next few weeks, so here's the lowdown: The The Indie Craft Experience is here in Atlanta and will be held on May 30th & 31st from 11am-7pm in Centennial Olympic Park. The second is Renegade Craft in Brooklyn, New York, and will be on June 6th & 7th, also from 11am-7pm, at McCarren Park. If you need more info check out the sites.
If you're in the area please stop by and say hi!
Oh, and while you're browsing my Flickr you can check out these vids that I shot last week:
Cool hidden alley of restaurants and hotels...
Weifang Kite Festival drumming ceremony
Me saying nonsensical stuff in Weifang
posted by Mr. Linty @ 11:50 PM, ,
Before I left for China, a friend from Atlanta made me promise to do some collaborative music work with him when I got settled in my new place. We figured that my surroundings would be an inspiration for lots of songs and music. It didn't take long to track down a local music shop and purchase a decent guitar (my roommate actually did that part), but although I've been playing it a lot and teaching myself a bunch of songs that I never previously had time to learn, the drive to write my own stuff wasn't really there.
But randomly, today, though faced with a large list of LF to-dos, I picked up the guitar and wrote a song. After an hour or so it was completed so I recorded it and added some extra vocals. It's a very simple song (C, F, C, G, C, F, C, G, C) but I'm happy with it. And yesterday I went back to the music shop and had them order some shadan (Chinese for "sand-eggs", those percussion thingys), so hopefully I'll add a little rhythm layer to the song when they arrive.
I'm also working on translating some American songs into Chinese, starting with Feist's "1234". It may be a disaster, but if not perhaps I'll record it.
Here's the song I did today for download: Stick Around
posted by Mr. Linty @ 7:41 AM, ,
DVD adventures in China
There's a DVD shop not too far from the apartment that my roommate and myself occasionally drop by. While they carry your usual selection of Chinese cinema releases, their specialty is foreign films, 80% of which are from the US. Needless to say, these movies aren't imported from overseas. Even though they look pretty convincing and even come with the official DVD sleeve insert and box packaging, they're replicas. But aside from the occasional misquotation on the jacket and a blip here and there during viewing, you really can't tell the difference, and at 7 kuai each ($1 US), our movie collection has bulked up pretty quickly. And yesterday, my roommate found this gem: the newly-released "X-Men Origins" movie.
Now, having been out of the US for 7 weeks, I assumed I'd been pretty out of the loop with this stuff, but as far as I could remember, this movie had only just come out in theaters. After 20 seconds on google, I found out I was wrong. It doesn't come out till May 1st, a week and a half from now. Oh man.
Turns out it's an early version of the film (though in its entirety). What makes it particularly amusing is the lack of a bunch of key special effects and editing, to the extent that you get to see cables on the actors and green screens behind them. Amazing! And in the shots that require total CGI, there are just grey, opaque 3D models moving around to sound effects.
But I sat through the whole thing nevertheless, imagining the scenes in their final, polished cut, and I gotta say, it's still not a very good movie...
posted by Mr. Linty @ 5:10 AM, ,
Poem in progress
Usually the poems for the designs each month are written pretty quickly. I have the concept in mind, get into a rhythm, and it sort of writes itself. But the poem for next month (May) took much longer. Here's a direct copy + paste of the text document I used (minus the final draft, of course)...
Greetings from Atlanta,
We're writing you to say:
We're looking for new visitors
So you should come and stay!
Sure the weather can be fickle
And the ......
But those are quirks and nothing more
And yes, we had an incident,
Our landmarks brawled it out
But it shows the stuff we're made of
And what we're all about!
Of course as much
So come and take our place
But every place is like that!
But overall we're happy here
It's green and lush and warm
And springtime is magnificent
If you like lightning storms
Not sure if you saw the news
About that monster brawl
Our landmarks turned to living beasts
And grew ten stories tall
Don't mind the propaganda
That you saw on CNN
Our landmarks are quite peaceful
From dawn to 10PM
(Of course, there are our landmarks,
Occasionally they brawl
La-la-la la la-la-la
"And grew ten stories tall")
We're so close to the ocean
Just a half-day's drive away!
But hey there's Coke and Turner Field
So you could watch a game)
Our city is a beauty,
Full of legacy and lore
Our beloved peach went crazy
The furnace of the south
We hope you enjoy your stay
Welcome to Atlanta,
Where landmarks are crazed
They fight every night
With the tourists away
No retreat on these streets
Till pits are rollin'
"It started with an insult"
"You're an relic," piped the peach
As he glared the chicken's way
The chicken rolled his eyes and said,
Pitted to the death...?
Said the peach back to the fowl
Said the chicken to Mr. Fuzz
I'll meet you down at Piedmont
When the fowl's last feather is plucked
Anyway, that's Atlanta,
We hope you're doing well.
And yes, it's hot as ever
As far as we can tell.
So pack all your belongings
And catch a flight today
Doesn't make a whole lot of sense now, but once you see the design it'll come together. It's interesting to look at these files after I'm done and try to retrace the brainstorming process. I was also careful to track the different stages of the design itself, so I'll post that once I release the tee.
posted by Mr. Linty @ 1:42 AM, ,
FINALLY. Man, ever since I first started seeing pictures of vinyl toys a few years ago I've dreamed about designing my own, but like most projects that I undertake, it was one disaster after another. My attempt to cast my own toys a few years ago just ended up in a lot of wasted time and supplies. My attempt to build my own with clay was eventually abandoned after realizing that I could never achieve the mechanical precision by hand (duh, right?). And my purchase of blank toys at Rotofugi while in Chicago for Renegade ended up in... toys that stayed blank... Actually, I did one of them, but it turned out that I accidentally used oils, which means the paint job is wet (and unfinished) to this day.
Not one to be defeated, I found a vinyl toy vendor locally and decided to give it yet another go. Part of it was the price, I admit. Originally he wanted 68 kuai per toy (that's $10 for a 10" toy, a good deal!), but I was able to get 2 for 100 kuai! One was a Darth Vader Quee that I'll post pics of later. It's super awesome. The other was a blank Mon Quee, and today, using a simple black sharpie, I went for it!
posted by Mr. Linty @ 9:44 AM, ,
Being old in China
I've been to this local park a couple of times in the last few days, and from my observations of Chinese people and their culture, I've gotta say: being old in China is a pretty sweet gig.
Growing up in America, you kind of begin viewing the elderly as antiques. You get to thinking that they belong on a shelf somewhere to be kept out of harm's way. It's a common rationale, but life for them is admittedly pretty bland, spending time in front of the TV or crossword puzzles or sitting in an old folks home watching others quickly decay around them. From what I've read and observed, this kind of sedentary lifestyle can trigger or accelerate disorders like Alzheimer's and dementia, and this is on top of the obvious physical atrophy.
But life for the elderly here in China is a world apart. I'm constantly amazed at both the mental and physical abilities of the locals in their 70's and 80's (and maybe older). There's a game they play here that is the equivalent of hacky sack in the US, and I kid you not, the participants are often old enough to be my great-grandparents. Some of the moves these people pull off rival even my 7-th grade self in my hacky sack heyday. It's ridiculous!
And aside from the physical exercise (which also includes a lot of dancing, jogging, and stretching), they just know how to have a good time. I'm not gonna lie; sometimes I feel a little jealous! Today at the park there were about 4 or 5 different groups of old folks sitting around singing Beijing opera at the top of their lungs and laughing and applauding themselves between songs. I found myself wishing that the elderly back in the US were able to experience this, spending the last of their years with friends in a park, singing, playing games, breathing fresh air and just enjoying life.
How miserable would it be to spend your last months or years in a stale hospital setting watching everyone die around you?
posted by Mr. Linty @ 10:19 AM, ,
Got a haircut and a lesson in chinese...
My hair grows pretty quick. It's actually a little annoying. I've got like a 2 week window of ideal styling length, and then it gets a bit shaggy for my liking and I start whining. So after being here for 5 weeks, I realized that I couldn't avoid the inevitable: I WOULD HAVE TO GET MY HAIR CUT IN CHINA.
I thought about doing it myself. I was actually poised with comb and scissors in hand, shaking nervously as I watched my reflection in the bathroom mirror. It was like Russian Roulette, to be honest. But I caved. So I asked some foreigners where they go for haircuts, and a few recommended a barber downtown. They said I'd get my hair washed before and after the cut, and that the barber's English wasn't too bad and he was familiar with American styles. This was all very good to hear, and for 40 kuai, very much worth it. (6.8 kuai = 1 US dollar, btw)
So yesterday I planned to venture downtown (2 kuai each way) and make it happen. But fortuitously, while taking a morning walk in the apartment complex I live in, I spotted a little jianfadian (barbershop!) at the ground level of one of the buildings. Just one barber, and by no means a fancy place, but SO DANG CONVENIENT. And likely, cheap. I returned home, got some work done, and thought my options over. Then, mustering up my courage, I went for it.
When I got there the lady was on the phone but motioned for me to sit down. I felt like a little kid at the dentist. Absurdly nervous about the whole thing. And she seemed to be wondering what the heck I was doing there, too, because she mentioned the oddity of having a foreign customer to whomever was on the line. It felt like an eternity sitting there, staring in that daunting wall mirror.
When she finally got off the phone she asked what kind of style I'd like. I pulled out my ipod and showed her a pic I took of myself when I got here and proceeded to explain (in Mandarin, obviously), that I liked it pretty short on all sides and a bit longer on the front. She nodded, and explained, "Xian yao xifa" (first let's wash your hair). We went over to her sink thingy and as she washed it she began asking what I did for work. I explained that I was a clothing designer for my own company and told her a bit of the story of myself, what I do, and why I was in China. Then she told me about her daughter, and how her English was really good. I'm pretty sure she was trying to hook us up. Americans, believe it or not, are pretty prized finds here in Asia.
Anyhow, once the hair washing was done she took me back to the chair and went to town, a furious blaze of snipping and clipping. Turns out she's been a barber for 24 years, and she was pretty darn good at it. She even gave me a shave! It all took about 15 minutes, and it came out PERFECT. She asked me how the length of everything was and I told her how impressed I was, and she simply said, "I've been cutting hair your whole life!" Nice.
The total cost was 6 kuai. About 80 cents.
posted by Mr. Linty @ 11:13 AM, ,
Attention all cool cats
Hey guys, I've been meaning to do this since I first got here, but it's taken awhile to get my stuff together - apologies! Anyways, I'm finally ready to go live so I've set it up, as usual, for a Sunday night at 8PM USA EST. That means 5PM for you Californians and 1AM for you UK'ers.
And for me, being way ahead of y'all time-wise here in China, 8AM in the morning. Sweet.
As you might expect from reading this blog or seeing my Twitter tweets, during the show I'll probably be talking a lot about life here; adjusting to the language, getting around, seeing the sights, etc. But I'll also be talking about what I've learned from running my company abroad and a bit about my plans for the future.
See you guys there!
Check out my channel here.
posted by Mr. Linty @ 12:16 AM, ,
Teaching drawing techniques in Chinese
Well, that's the plan anyways.
About a week after arriving here in China, I was speaking with a local and we got to talking about art and design. She made an interesting comment, saying that as a people, the Chinese have an incredible knack for replication, but they aren't truly creative.
Of coruse, that's a pretty broad generalization, but the more I've thought about it and observed my surroundings, the more that seems to be the case. For instance, when I go shopping at some of the night markets or even the formal malls, I can find a TON of amazing stuff if I'm looking for a style that's been popularized elsewhere (the US, Europe, Japan, UK, etc), but if I'm looking for something original, that can't be found anywhere else, it's a dead end.
Cars are another example. China has their own automobile manufacturers, but the models look IDENTICAL to Nissans, Hondas, Jeeps, Toyotas, and VWs back in the states. None of it's original, only replicated.
And the list goes on. MP3 players, phones, electronics, computers, clothing, shoes, etc etc. It's all copies. As far as I can tell, people here aren't taught to think in terms of originality. It's my guess that this is part of the reason that my drawings at the beach fascinate them so much. I mean, I'm by no means that fantastic of an artist in that medium (I cringe looking at the landscape I did earlier due to all the mistakes), BUT it's different and unique (to them, at least), so there's a certain appeal there.
So, unsurprisingly, there's a lot of folks here that want to learn how to draw, to paint, to design, and to create. I'm no master at any of these things, but I feel I have something to offer, so I've decided to set up an appointment with a few locals (and a few English-speaking expat's) to do a sketching day around the city.
Of course, that means a WHOLE new vocab set. Yikes!
So today when I met my Chinese tutor at Starbucks I told her I wanted to skip the book lesson and talk about drawing stuff (she's actually going to be one of my drawing students, ha!). So we discussed values, forms, shapes, lighting, reflection and refraction, transparency, texture, line weight, pencil pressure, erasing techniques, and composition. All in 90 minutes. WHEW. I took a ton of notes and need to study a bunch before we go out, but I'm stoked to have it written down, at least. As it turns out, the words were super versatile and useful for things not pertaining to art, too, so that's pretty great. It's still mind-boggling how many times a day I realize I don't know how to say something ultra simple... one day!
In Linty Fresh-related news, I'm just polishing up the design now for next month. It'll be the first time I'm doing an Atlanta-themed tee, but since LF is based there and I've got a show there in late May, it's about time! I'm just hoping Atlantans won't be miffed by seeing two of their beloved icons battling it out above their city's skyline. Lolz.
By the way, I just got my acceptance email from Renegade Brooklyn. If you're in the area be SURE to check it out. It'll be my first time at this location, and from all the things I've heard I'm 100% stoked about it. See you guys there!
posted by Mr. Linty @ 9:44 AM, ,
Sketching at the beach
The last few days have FINALLY been warm enough to hang out at the beach (albeit in a hoodie), so yesterday and today I brought my watercolor pad along. Although it's China, this area has an interesting European influence dating back to the first World War, and a lot of the architecture still reflects this. Anyways, I drew some of the European-looking homes across from the beach and the surrounding foliage. I decided to go straight to ink because A) frankly I didn't have the patience for pencil, and B) I didn't need it to be perfect. And it isn't. There are a few obvious perspective issues and mis-drawn angles, but overall the idea is there.
It's pretty entertaining to be an artist here, though. Chinese folks, by nature, are super curious, and are quick to form a crowd when anything unusual catches their eye. And an American dude drawing buildings is, apparently, pretty unusual. At times I had almost 20 people crowded around! Sometimes I wouldn't say anything, and they'd never bother me (probably because they assumed I didn't speak Chinese), but once in a while I'd ask if something looked right, or get an opinion on the angle of a rooftop or something. Even minimal knowledge of Mandarin will make the locals flip out, so usually a brief conversation about what I was doing in China, where I was from, and whether I was shangban or shangxue (studying or working) ensued. The kids were pretty hilarious, too. This one little girl was super insistant on watching me finish drawing one of the houses and kept whining "Wo yao kan yixia! Hen piaoliang!" to her mom ("I wanna keep watching, it's very pretty!"). I thanked her in Chinese and she responded in ENGLISH, "You're welcome!" Super rad!
Anyways, I've included a pic of my drawing/painting so far. It's got lots of work left, but it should be done after a few more sessions. I'm going to add a giant monster crashing through a building in the background. Otherwise it's just boring, yanno?
I'll get a better pic of this in the morning. Lights here in the apt SUCK.
posted by Mr. Linty @ 11:12 AM, ,
The 1-month mark!
Before coming to China I had studied Chinese for about 2 years, an endeavor which was initially sparked by a visit here in '07. To be honest, I'm a little surprised that I stuck with it so long, because as anyone in their right mind might expect, Chinese is a BEAST. And like most BEASTS (caps is fully warranted), right when you think you have it tamed it bites off your arm and runs away from home.
No joke, after my plane landed and I got to hear the locals speak for the first time, I thought I had been studying the wrong language. It's not just a regional accent like you've got back in the states, it's a whole set of vowel and consonant shifts that SOUND NOTHING LIKE STANDARD MANDARIN. So, while I was able to rattle off my own ideas to others, when they responded I had no clue what they were talking about. It's a pretty sucky feeling, let me tell you.
Well, I've been here a month (as of Monday), and I'm FINALLY getting the hang of what the heck is happening around me. Part of it is the Chinese tutor I have, who is really pushing me to get more comfortable with day-to-day vocab and grammar. (Today I had to explain in Mandarin how to make an omelet. Not easy, dudes.) The other part, of course, is just being submersed in it all day every day. I can actually eavesdrop on conversations on the bus now, which is strangely thrilling.
Of course, this is just the spoken aspect of the language. The other (more formidable) half is the writing system, which I'm trying to tackle as well. Not easy, but it feels darn good to be able to read signs, even if it still only amounts to "mountain - something - tree - something - something - something - beer!"
But for all its struggles, life here is such a rush, full of crazy adventures and really cool experiences. The locals are so eager to talk with foreigners, and are willing to go WAY out of their way to help. So yeah, it's worth every moment.
Now, how to get Linty Fresh here?
posted by Mr. Linty @ 9:58 AM, ,