You're never too old for Shability!

One of the things I love (and hate) about China is the "Chinglish" they use. For the uninitiated Chinglish is the cruddy English that the Chinese attempt to use. Among my favourites are "Not live in 100yrs of school, live in closest place," "New building 7 elevator story spacious views Zhenhai," "Live city mind healthy," and now "You're never too old for Shability!"

I've asked a lot of people what the last one means, and no one knows. It wouldn't bother me that the Chinese murder English, but when the Chinese ask me where I live in China, and I say Ningbo (a city of 5 million), they look at me blankly because it's pronounced Ningbow-a. That probably means I should pronounce it Ningbow-a, but when I do, I still get blank stares, and that irritates me, but remember you're never too old for Shalibity!

I went to see "Resident Evil: Retribution"

In future, if I ever threaten to see a film like "Resident Evil: Retribution," will someone ask me Why do I do this to myself?

I really do want someone to ask too, because this "hormonal teenage boy film" (lots of pretty women in skimpy clothes trying to evade vampires), and I'm not a teenage boy any more.

This film is pretty much like every other Respident Evil film that I've ever seen. Pretty woman has to fight her way out of a dungeon to escape zombie (in this case at the behest of a former arch enemy).

It's the same movie as all the others in the series. If you liked them, you'll like this. If you didn't, you won't like this.

I finished "Washington" by Ron Chernow

Ron Chernow planned to write "as detailed a one book account of Washington as you can" when he wrote this book, and he's succeeded with that goal I think.

This book covers all his life, from his birth and early life in Virginia, to his death after 2 terms as President. As an Englishman, I'll admit that I don't know much about Washington, but I'm reasonably well read about the subject, and this book answered all the questions, and misunderstandings I had about Washington.

The one thing that this book didn't disabuse me of was my wariness of Thomas Jefferson. This wariness has developed through a bunch of books I've read about the "founding fathers," and this book didn't affect my view of him. That said, it's till a good book.

In short, if you want to read one book about Washington, this is probably as good a book as you'll find

Duck me, he's got what I've been banging on about.

I teach 2 of the brightest kids in our school. There's no point me trying to deny it and claim credit for their competence. I help, but they make it easier, because they make sure they get it.

What they don't get, and what I've been banging on about since I met them, is that they need more than nerdy. Getting A grades is good, but I can show them a bunch of kids who get A grades, and do other interesting stuff too. If they want to go to the best colleges, they need to be nerdy + interesting + capable of reading mind broadening books other than textbooks, and they aren't that yet.

Anyway, our students go to cramming camps over the summer. They're usually in the US, and introduce the kids who go there to new experiences and teachers who tell them what's what, and who's who an American colleges. I don't know what one of the lecturers at this college said to my nerds, but they've come back telling me "Ok, so you know those books that you told me might broaden me? Can I read them?"

One of the weirder things about teaching here is.....

how all of a sudden my targets seem to have been radically shifted upwards. Back in England when I was teaching iGCSE, my goal was always a 100% pass rate with my "good group" plus more A and B grades than C grades. In the main, I got that, so I was generally a happy bunny.

Now that I've moved here, my targets seemed to have received a markedly upward shift. I have no idea why. I'm teaching a course I've never taught before (I'm qualified as a Chemisty teacher, but I always taught Physics), I'm having to teach the course in a year, rather than two, and I'm teaching "second language learners." Yet 19 of the 29 kids I taught still got an A* or A, with 7 of the remainder getting a B.

Now those results are good, so why am I so fed up that I had 1 kid fail?

Well I'm back in China.....

This time last year, it was funny, I'd gone on holiday, and somehow managed to forget all the eccentricities that the people demonstrate (and yet don't notice, because they're common), when I returned.

Inside 18 hours of return this year, I've managed too see all the more obvious weirdness that made me laugh. It started with violent public spitting. Waiting to get off the plane (yes, on the damn plane), a ladylike woman picked up a cup, and stood gobbing voluminously into it, holding people up.

This morning I managed to see 3 guys wandering round with the body of the tee-shirt they were wearing hiked up under their shoulders, which I could understand if they were buff, but one guy was more of a lardo than I am. In addition, I saw 2 more guy urinating openly against a wall. So yes, I'm definitely back in China.

I went to see "The Bourne Legacy."

I went to see "The Bourne Legacy" today, and while it's not a bad film, it's effectively a remake of The Bourne Identity with Jeremy Renner as a replacement for Jason Bourne from the previous 3 films.

Put briefly, the CIA are trying to clean house after all that happened in the previous 3 films. This includes killing off a group of the genetically modified "uber soldiers" (including Renner) that they created to infiltrate terrorist cells (and foreign governments) around the world. This they manage, with the exception of Renner, who promptly starts kicking butt and taking names to save himself, and find out why it's happening.

It's not a bad film, if you like this sort of thing, but it does seem to be strikingly similar to the original film in how it feels, if I'm honest with people.

I went to see "Wedding Video" today.

Wedding Video is about a brother who decides to videotape his sibling's "upper middle class wedding," and the build up to the "big day." It stars Robert Webb (the non-David Mitchell half of Mitchell and Webb) as the brother being videoed, Lucy Punch as his bride to be, and a bunch of British character actors.

I enjoyed it. It's been getting so-so reviews, and it's not exactly Dickens or Shakespeare, but if you like dumb humour, you'll like it.

I went to see "The Avengers"

and it could be thought of as a Secret Seven book entitled "The Secret Seven Whine for 2hrs and then Save the World."

It was a good film if you're a teenage boy (lots of explosions and guys looking tough, while Scarlett Johansson wears a fitted jumpsuit), but as soon as I started thinking in terms of the Secret Seven, I couldn't take it seriously.

Seriously, four of the characters (Thor, Captain America, Nick Fury and Iron Man) produce a ton of "macho bulls**t" (effectively saying "Mine's bigger than yours") most of the time, while I couldn't help thinking of Boris and Natasha off The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show when I discovered that Johansson's character was called Natasha.

In short, if you're not in the target demographic, you probably won't enjoy the film.

I went to see "The Amazing Spider-Man"

I went to see "The Amazing Spider-Man" today. It wasn't bad, but you can see how much drivel is on at the cinemas at the moment, by how few "thinking films" that I've see lately.

It's the same old Spider-Man start up film. High school kid Peter Parker (played by 28 year old Andrew Garfield) gets bitten by spider (and so develops spider skills). He indirectly causes the death of his uncle (Martin Sheen), fights a baddie (Rhys Ifans) who thinks people should be made to involve into lizards (apparently they're a higher life form despite their cold bloodedness), doesn't meet Mary Jane (no idea why), but meets someone else instead (as love interest (played by the 23 year old Emma Stone).

It's not exactly The Magnificent Ambersons, but it's not bad as a film either. It's slightly darker than the Sam Raimi/Tobey MaGuire films, but I think that worked better for the film (and the time we live in). The darkness answers the question what normal kid says "hey I've got the skills of a spider, now I'm gonna chase baddies."