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A Picnic in Japan

I’m traveling to Indonesia now and just watched this good Simon and Martina video. It’s 3:40 am in Jakarta on Tuesday. I left home at 10:30 am on Sunday and have one more flight to go so I’m too exhausted to write much, but once I’m caught up on sleep, expect some movie and a hotel reviews.

For now, learn about some interesting foods available in Japan and perhaps get some marriage tips.

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How to Steal a Million

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Starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, How to Steal a Million is another fun, witty movie. Hepburn plays the daughter of an art forger. When her home is broken into by O’Toole, her father and she fear that his forgeries will be revealed. Later they fear that a sculpture lent to a museum will be proven to be a fraud when it’s examined for insurance. Throughout the caper delights.

It’s a lighthearted romp with a clever final heist and a surprisingly moral end. It’s lots of fun and Hepburn and O’Toole are quite entertaining.

Last Day

I can’t believe it’s the last day of my three week workshop in Pekanbaru, Indonesia. We had a mini-conference in which the participants all gave 10 minute presentations, Tara and I gave plenary speeches, which we were tentative about doing, but gosh, everyone’s so nice here so how do you say no? A teacher, who’d just returned from two years with the Fulbright program in Michigan where he earned his Masters at Michigan Central University, gave a presentation on that program.

Tara and I had been given local dresses and batik dresses to wear the day before. We also were asked to wear — you guessed it — headscarves so we did in the morning. Later it was just too hot to do so. The big wigs had all gone so it was okay. Evidently, the school is debating whether internationals guests should be required to wear headscarves.

After the event we had a lot of pictures taken and were presented with more gifts — fruit and a huge box of snacks.

Then we were invited to go to a crafts exposition. Tara needed to pack since tomorrow we’re getting taken on a day trip to a waterfall and a temple and Sunday she leaves super early. I figured why not.

Two teachers took me to the new exposition center which is a showplace. It’s got marble and gold plating. We got there a bit late, after 8 pm when most kiosks were shut and shutting down. However, there were some interesting crafts to see from all over Indonesia. I didn’t expect to buy anything, but there was a cool short sleeve dress with batik insets that I got for $13!

Any, a teacher, had brought her sister, who was hungry so  Aleph, the other teacher suggested we go to this rustic coffee shop where artists and actors hang out. It’s beside a striking theater with a majestic traditional design (photos to follow when I get home). We had a lemon ginger drink and shared French fries. Aleph knows everyone in town. So he was friends with the guard from the teacher complex, who let us in the closed building too see an exhibit of paintings. Before leaving an actor we met asked me to do a short video (just on a phone) to draw the tourists to Pekanbaru. I raved about the people and the mosques and tried to repeat “Come to Riau” in a local dialect. (In addition to Bahasa Indonesia there are dozens of local languages in Indonesia.)

I’ve gotten used to surprises in Pekanbaru and wonder what tomorrow’s excursion will bring.

Touring Seoul

When Tanis and I visited Seoul we saw lots of young women in traditional hanboks, which gave our tour an extra sense of history. Above I’ve added a video of two Korean vloggers who explain that if you come in traditional dress, you get in free.

Another tip: As we exited the subway we passed a group of high school students volunteering to take tourists around Gyeongbuk Palace. I’m so glad we accepted the offer. Jin, whose English was quite polished, gave tours once a month to further his English and deepen his understanding of history. The tour was more than just your run of the mill “Look to the left, look to the right.” Whoever devised the tour included lots of Q and A so it’s very interactive and exceeded my expectations. It’s absolutely free.

Spring 2016 China 070

Tanis (center) with two Korean women

Korean Skin Care

When I went to Seoul a couple weeks ago with my friend Tanis, she really noticed the Koreans’ beautiful, bright and clear skin. She was awfully impressed and made me notice.

Back in Jinan I did some investigating and this article in the Wall St. Journal caught my eye as did an article in Allure. Intrigued, I’ve been scouting around for shops that sell Korean skin care products. It’s something of a challenge and new hobby. So far I’ve found seven. I’ve been to Tony Moly where I started with a purchase of 3 sheet masks. I didn’t think I’d like them, but wow, my skin is so soft after I use them. My new routine is to use them on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.

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After reading the Wall St. Journal article and checking out some blogs like Soko Glam, I figured I ought to try this two-step cleansing. The idea is you need to use an oil-based cleaner to really get your skin clean and follow up with an ordinary cleaner. So I went back to Tony Moly, which is in Parc 66 downtown and got their Lemon Oil cleaner, mainly because I figured it would smell good and it wasn’t too expensive. That’s a great thing about a lot of these Korean products — they’re easy on the wallet. (Though you can get some pricey department store items that cost $159 for a 4 ounce jar.  No, thank you.)

On my second trip to Parc 66 I found banila.co down the way from Tony Moly. There I got Clean it, another kind of cleanser, which I alternate with the lemon cleanser. What’s great about banila co is they give samples. Bravo!

I knew I needed or wanted something to exfoliate so I’m trying Skin Food’s Rice Mask Wash Off. I found Skin Food at Shinmao International Mall.

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I’m not up to a 10-step regimen and doubt I’ll go that far, but I’m sure there will be more. In the mean time I’m educating myself with videos like this one by Joan Kim. I like that she does these in Korean and English. I admire anyone who’s bilingual. Watch with subtitles.

Good Part of the Day

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Most of today was good, very good. I don’t have to teach on Thursdays, which has been delightful. I like getting a chance to catch my breath during the week.

Since my students have to visit a museum, I visited the Jinan Art Museum so I’d know about the works they may write about. The exhibits this time, weren’t stellar, or I should say there were fewer great paintings and many seemed like students’ work, but it was a nice way to spend the morning. I thought it was cool that one artist captured the Chinese astronauts with ink, a medium that I associate with older, more traditional paintings.

Child. Oil

Child. Oil

Astronaut. Chinese Ink

Astronaut. Chinese Ink

Landscape. Chinese Ink

Landscape. Chinese Ink 

I figured out how to get the buses home and along the way stopped for a quick lunch before meeting friends to check out a new café not too far from campus. We just had to walk over the big bridge that crosses the railroad tracks and we got to a very chic café, where a few students from our university work.

I was quite happy with my iced coffee drink (though I think they gave me the wrong one). In fact, all three of us got the wrong order the first time we were served, but they got things right in the end.

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Then I had to go downtown to get some art paper for a project my first class will do tomorrow and to get a shirt I had my eye on that’s on sale. (But today’s the last day of the sale so I was lucky to have the time to get to town.) Riding the bus I got to learn more of the adventures of Denise in Au Bonheurs des Dames (a.k.a The Paradise) and Ethel in His Second Wife. I’m at a shocking part of the both stories!

The pace of the day was just right. I’d gotten prepared for tomorrow’s classes, at no point did I have to rush and I had time for fun and enrichment.

All went well . . . until it didn’t.

But then things went pear-shaped . . . .

Mary Poppins

mary poppins

This month’s book club selection was the children’s classic Mary Poppins. Saving Mr. Banks prepared me for some differences between the film starring Julie Andrews and the actual book, but it led me to think the father was a prominent character, who needed redemption. Well, not in the book, he doesn’t. He’s not a big part of the story.

In fact the book is more of a collection of delightful, imaginative experiences that happen while Mary is with the Banks family. More happens in the novel. Michael and Jane have baby fraternal twin siblings who can understand the communication of animals, stars and all of nature. When they go Christmas shopping with Mary, they meet and help Maia one of the stars in the Pleiades constellation who appears like an almost naked child wearing a simple blue cloth.

Mary is a mystery, a strict mystery. She comes to a family that lost their nanny, but the children weren’t bad so there was no dire need for discipline. Sure they’re not keen on chores, but they get along with each other and seem to obey.

I rewatched the film on my flight to Beijing and Mary’s not all that nice in it either. She’s a stick in the mud and very strict. For some reason though she’s magical and loves imagination, she constantly hides the fact. I was startled that a classic children’s book would end with an adult who pretty much abandons children. Yes, she told everyone she’d leave when the wind blew and she never was one for explanations, but really? Abandonment is terrible for kids and just leaving a job without giving notice is not something we want to encourage. What would Freud say?

The Day the Earth Stood Still

1The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

My friend Kevin recommended I watch The Day the Earth Stood Still for my classic movie challenge. Though I typically don’t think much of sci fi movies, I gave this one a try and it won me over. Directed by Michael Wise, The Day the Earth Stood Still begins with a cheap-looking spaceship landing on earth in Washington DC. Despite the archaic look of the film, I got pulled in completely. Wise mesmerized me with this very cheap, plain spaceship with its clichéd passengers.

A crowd gathers around the ship and soon Klaatu, the archetypical spaceman emerges. Klaatu’s soon shot and his robot Gort defends his master using laser vision against the army. Klaatu’s taken to the army hospital and observed. Klaatu is played as a very serious, really supercilious figure who’s been given the task of letting the inferior earthlings know that now that they’ve gotten nuclear weapons their squabbling could hurt other planets and these other, higher beings won’t tolerate any activity that can upset their peace. His request to speak with all the world leaders is deflected. Things just don’t work that way on earth.

Klaatu escapes in a stolen business suit and finds a boarding house that will take him in. He befriends Bobby, a boy who’s impressed with Klaatu’s knowledge of science and around novelty. Bobby’s father’s passed away and his mother isn’t so sure about Klaatu, but she’s busy dating her perspective husband so Bobby’s got lots of free time to wander the city and go back to the spaceship with Klaatu. It is all rather hokey, but Klaatu is so smart and so above us. We know he’s right about our wars and “petty squabbles.”

Klaatu gives up on the world leaders and tries to get a renown scientist to organize a big powwow with all the top scientists in the world.

Unfortunately, Bobby’s father-to-be gets jealous of Klaatu and tells the army about him. Soon Klaatu must flee for his life and try to war the world that if we don’t stop our nuclear arms development, the rest of the universe will bake us to a cinder.

There are plenty of amusing quotes, such as:

Reporter: I suppose you are just as scared as the rest of us.
Klaatu: In a different way, perhaps. I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

George Barley: Why doesn’t the government do something, that’s what I’d like to know.
Mr. Krull: What can they do, they’re only people just like us.
George Barley: People my foot, they’re democrats.

All in all, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a fun movie and its dated aspects just add to the fun.

Fun Fact:

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still won a Golden Globe award in the category of “Best Film to Promote Global Understanding.” Who knew that was a category?
  • When Patricia Neal was making the film, she didn’t think much of it and was surprised to learn that it’s regarded as one of the best sci fi movies to date.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

Throughout China women gather to exercise

Throughout China women gather to exercise

Here’s how it works:

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Crash Course: History of China

By John Green, a novelist you can trust. Everyone’s got 12 minutes for some history, right?

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