Forever's gonna start tonight

Tuesday was BOGO day at the local Subway franchise. For those of you who are ignorant of the English language, BOGO means "buy one get one [free]". It's a little more elegant in chinese: 买一赠一.

Now I'm no big fan of Subway. And the one thing that makes Subway good in the USA - giardiniera - is tragically unavailable in China. Moreover, there's another sub place in Beijing, which is non-chain, much cheaper, actually has good bread, and has cheap, good french fries too. (China-living compatriots, this place is a godsend, it's called 站点 (Tube Station) and it's across the street from 北京师范大学 near the 北太平庄 bus stop on 新街口外大街, just south of 三环路 and within walking distance straight north of 积水滩 subway stop.)

But Subway is on the bike ride to school, and 站点 is definitely not, so Subway has that going for it, especially on BOGO day.

So here I was sitting in Subway, reading the survey history of modern Japan by which I hope to become interested in Japanese history, when all of a sudden the background music starts playing "Total Eclipse of the Heart". As many of you know, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is one of the best songs of all time, and probably the best song of the 1980s. (Can anyone think of any rivals? Possibly something off Slippery When Wet.) Good music is hard to come by in China, so this was a beautiful moment for me that I wanted to share with you all.

The only moment that might rival it was last summer when I was walking by Mr Pizza, which has speakers outside playing music. This nerdy-looking Chinese guy was walking toward me, singing along without a hint of self-consciousness, belting out, "Unbreak my heart! Say you'll love me again!" A good song too, tho it obviously falls short of "Total Eclipse of the Heart". But the guy singing along transformed what would have been quiet appreciation into a magical China moment that I'll never forget.


Big day today

The East Asia Summit meets, the first regional grouping that has excluded the United States (tho American clients Japan, Australia, and New Zealand all made it in). Important elections in Bolivia, which could bring another left-wing leader to power in Latin America. Elections in Iraq too. And most of my remaining grad school applications are due.



Winter started for real in Beijing ten days ago. That means terrible cold and strong winds off the Mongolian plains. I was just walking around for 10 minutes yesterday and my fingers went numb. Beijing winters, alas, have almost no snow. During the summer they fire mortars into the sky to seed the clouds and make it rain. I don't think they do that during winter to help out the poor American boys from the Midwest who miss the snow.

I now have a regular 20 minute bike commute from home to school in cold and wind. The onset of winter doesn't seem to have driven many Chinese people off the bike lanes, and half of them don't even wear anything on their head. My bike ride isn't so bad, really. The nice thing is that the cold makes you forget how your knees hurt from riding a bike that's too small into the wind, and dodging other bikers and cars helps you forget about the cold.