Poagao's Journal
Friday, July 26, 2002
"So much for a quiet evening at home," I thought as I realized that, not only was I still at Saints & Sinners, but it was midnight and I was quite drunk.

It was a fun evening, though. I walked over after work, getting there just after 7 after exploring yet another series of unknown alleyways, including an entire street devoted to furniture I had never walked down before. It's funny to find little bits of old Taipei around the corner all the time. I walked across a small bridge, built in 1943 with a name and everything, that crossed a stream that had long since been covered up and forgotten.

When I got to S&S, I found Dean talking with a couple of business-types. I sat down and listened to their banter as I ordered a drink. I didn't recognize anyone. An American guy named Jason talked with us for a while before moving to another table where he was chatting up a Taiwanese girl. Alien, Alien's boyfriend Bei-san, and Rowan showed up, followed by Berta and Brian, Dean's co-worker. Then Donnabel, who runs things over there, announced that it was "Boys' Night", which meant that everyone with a demonstrable penis was allowed one free drink an hour until 11pm. Bei-san's friend was on his scooter, so I got two free drinks an hour.

Bei-san works in the film industry here, and we talked shop for quite a while. Then he looked at me and asked "You're not gay, are you?" No, that doesn't mean what you think it means. It means that 99% of Alien's male friends happen to be 'mos, so Bei San was wondering if I was one of the few exceptions. I told him I wasn't, but he seemed cool with it. I'm not usually interested in denying something like that, and in any case a certain stocky Filipino dude sitting in the corner was looking better and better with each drink.

Rowan was doing his priest-giving-an-absolution impression, Dean had written "Taiwanstatus" on his nametag and was trying to convince Christine to bow down before the SFPT, and Alien was discussing forced nasal discharge. It was great. Unfortunately, it was also still a worknight, so we disbanded and went our merry-yet-seperate ways. I walked home, chugging a bottle of water as I did so to mitigate the effects of the alcohol. Seems to have worked.

Today, however, is a Friday. Not a bad one, either, by the looks of it. Locus is sending the book contract over sometime this afternoon. I will take a final look at it this weekend, and most likely sign it on Monday and give them an up-to-date draft of the manuscript. It will be good to move into the next stage with that.

Today at lunch I was wandering around when I ran into Lai Yi-long, one of the TVBS cameramen I used to work with, filming passersby on the sidewalk with a betacam his assistant waiting patiently for him to finish. We chatted a bit before I left him to his job. He looks exactly the way he did back when I was still a cameraman. I, however, have gotten quite a bit, ahem, uh, larger, and he didn't fail to mention that fact to me. "Doing all your work with your brains these days, eh? Damn!" he said. I told him of my plans to escape the 8-hour-a-day office world, and he seemed to agree. I should have done it long ago. I was just waiting for another vine to come along before I let go of this one.

Thursday, July 25, 2002
Last night I took a cab over to the Tongqing Chinese Clinic opposite the Xingtian Temple on Songjiang Rd. Since the best the best western doctor at Adventist Hospital could tell me was "stop looking down", I thought I would go to the other end of the spectrum. I went to Tongqing ten years ago after I busted up my knee practicing Wushu. I thought that, since Chinese medicine tends to be more about nerves than Western medicine, I'd give it a shot. It's been a while since I have walked around that area of town; it reminded me that I need to visit other parts of the city and even get out of the city more often.

The doctor, who turned out to be the head of the clinic, examined me, telling me to grab his hands and squeeze. I took it easy the first time, and he told me to try harder. I did and he grimaced, shaking his hands to get the feeling back. He said I probably had a nerve infection from my last cold. He prescribed some powdered medicine in little packets, and then stuck a bunch of needles in my hand and face. Then he stuck a roll of something on some of the needles and lit them with a lighter, and then told me to wait outside for a bit.

Outside I amused myself by reading through the latest issue of "S&M Baby" and taking pictures of my acupunctured self in the mirror. The needles seemed to help, although I didn't feel completely better. Still, I've got 5 and a half more days of powdered medicine to choke my way through. We'll see. It doesn't seem to be getting worse, in any case, so I suppose I should stop worrying about it. A visit to a reputable dentist might not go amiss, though. Something tells me that my reputed tendency towards Bruxism is one of the main causes behind this apparent temporomandibular disorder. But what do I know?

I met Mindcrime for lunch today at Chili's. He and H.G. Janice have found a nice, large apartment near Rongxing Park on Longjiang Rd for a mere pittance, and they are going to start moving up to Taipei next week. By happy coincidence, they will be living just a short way from the 70's Airport Love Palace, so we will be able to go there for barbeque, reptile feeding and plane spotting should Graham and his flatmates host any such activities in the future.

Tonight is the Oriented Nominally Happy Hour, to be held at Saints & Sinners, near the Far Eastern Hotel. Dean, Alien and Anthony might be there, so I'll stop by, but I doubt I will stay too long. I'm more looking forward to a nice, quiet evening at home tonight.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
I watched Wonder Boys on DVD last night. It was excellent. A great cast, great acting, and a solid story. Quite impressive, especially if you're into writing or are thinking about it.

Afterwards, as I was discovering that, not only had my bathroom light burnt out and that there was no hot water, I heard siren after siren wailing outside. I looked out my window to find that one of the buildings across the park from me was on fire, and several firetrucks lined Heping E. Road with their cranes aloft. I didn't see any actual flames, mind you, but there was enough smoke to make me reasonably sure something was burning.

For some reason the lightbulbs in our bathroom at work are also prone to exploding, showering the area with grenade-like shards of blackened glass. I've pointed this out to some members of upper management, so you'd think they'd be interested in solving this problem, but I saw the aftermath of yet another such explosion on the shelf above the urinals today. Perhaps they're just waiting for someone to witness one first hand. Someone reliable, that is. I don't count, obviously. Seems I'm far too emotional about these things to properly describe the sensation of having a light bulb explode right above one's head.

I've been thinking about getting a Powerbook instead of one laptop computer for writing away from home and one Mac just for editing. There's no way I could afford both. There's probably no way I could afford a Powerbook, but it's a more realistic goal at least. I should be careful not to let the lack of these fancy toys become excuses not to work on projects I should be working on, however.

I was at an ATM the other day behind a primly dressed woman who was making a long series of complicated transactions. She was all set up for her banking day. Several stacks of documents were arranged on the shelf of the machine, each with its own card, and she had even bought a bottle of water, which she placed on the ledge next to the machine. Periodically she would take a sip, and then return to what seemed like the financial management of a major money-laundering organization for several triads spread throughout the Asia-pacific region.

Having nothing better to do and reluctant to miss the show, I found a table nearby and watched as she plowed through piles of documents, inputting scores of long serial numbers. If I had a notepad I could have caught them all and written them down. It took her about half an hour to finish. I've noticed that women seem to do a lot more of this kind of complicated ATM-based financial management, whereas men seem to just take out some cash. My management of finances is restricted to stuffing receipts into my pocket so that I can play the receipt lottery held here every two months.

And now, for no particular reason, here is a picture of gendoyun with its new coat of paint.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002
I went to the hospital last night to see about my achy jaw. I had thought it was perhaps a result of my nightly teeth-grinding habit, but the doctor told me I was just looking down too much. Did I say "Oh, yeah, I am depressed most of the time and thus look down" or "Yeah, the sidewalks here need my special attention"? No, I said, "Well, everyone here is so short, you know." I winced as soon as I said it.

"Uh-huh," he replied, with no change of expression. I suppose this kind of joke should ideally be told by someone who is at least 6 feet tall, and even more ideally told to someone who cares. He prescribed some muscle relaxants and sent me on my way.

The whole Chinese publishing decision thing was getting to me. Everyone told me to "go with my gut", but my gut was sitting solidly on the fence on this one. I knew and liked the people from Asian Culture, but Locus probably has greater resources. Finally, on the advice of Mindcrime, I went to a bookstore and looked at the two publishers' products side by side. On the basis of that simple test, I decided to go with Locus. They just seem to have a product more suited what I want.

Telling the guy from Asian Culture was hard, though. He sounded crushed over the phone, and I wondered if I was doing the right thing. They've bent over backwards for me on this, and this is how I reward them. If this were a movie I'd be the bad guy. Still, I know myself well enough to realize that I almost always spend a certain amount of time wondering if any given decision I've made is the right one, so I went on ahead and called Locus to tell them I would like to sign with them. Hopefully they will prove this decision the correct one.

I watched O Brother, Where Art Thou the other night, and Black Knight as well. The former was a beautiful film with excellent acting but questionable story. Not my favorite Cohen Brothers films by a long stretch. Black Knight was just silly. I like Martin Lawrence and all, but that was just plain stupid.

Sunday, July 21, 2002
Mindcrime and Janice came up yesterday to have a look at some bookstores and shop, respectively. After having so-so noodles at a shop Mindcrime kept insisting was closed for some reason, I took him to the Silex Bookstore on Jinhua St. Silex has possibly the most impressive selection of Science Fiction/Fantasy books on the island, yet I never see any foreigners there. They need to get the word out. I suppose part of the reason is that the first floor is occupied purely by children's books, while all the good stuff is upstairs. Mindcrime was impressed because they even had shelf or two of D&D books, the kind he writes. They didn't happen to have any of his books, but he managed to order one downstairs. Then we walked down to Grandma Nitti's for some Oreo Shakes, which I had never had before. When they arrived I regarded the grayish concoction with no little amount of suspicion, but when I tasted a spoonful I was hooked. That stuff is great. Both of our shakes were gone within a couple of minutes.

Our next target was the Breeze Chick Mall, so we took the MRT up to the Zhongxiao-fuxing Station and walked up Fuxing to a Hong Kong mango place called Xu-liu Shan. The mango drinks were fixed in some sort of jelly, but they were still good. They're mango, after all, so it pretty much has to be good. I've been told that mangos in the Philippines are the most delicious. Someday I hope to find out for myself. When I lived in Qingdao, my Chinese friends there called my Mango Juice, since I didn't drink beer, and mango juice was the only other thing they had down at the beachfront stores where I would hang out, across from the hotel I was living in at the time.

At Breeze we went down to the supermarket to try as many samples as we could, including a few cups of an Australian beverage called "Two Dogs". Then we went to the food court so that Janice could purchase a horrendous fake corndog, fake ice cream and a bag of paper-like crepe that tasted, apparently from Mindcrime's expression when he bit into it, exactly like biting into cardboard. As I watched the two consume their inedible treats, I felt a tap at my shoulder. It was Sandy, aka Sandman, and his wife, who happened to be sitting at the next table. Sandy had a clever disguise in the form of a new facial hairstyle, you see, so I didn't recognize him right off. Anyway, small island, as I say.

Later we went to see "Lilo and Stitch" at the movie theater upstairs. I had never been to the theater at Breeze before; it was quite nice, with good sound and a minimum of commercial interruption. The movie was pretty funny, our humor already raised by the "Two Dog" drinks we had consumed earlier. Then I led Mindcrime and Janice on a short walk up to Amigo, where we had dinner. Janice ruined a mint tea for Mindcrime by telling him that it tasted just like mouthwash ("It's minty, not mediciny!") before I bade them farewell and walked back to the MRT station. I had a good time, but for some reason I felt a bit melancholy walking home alone. I should have called Little P, but he said he had a cold and might not want me to disturb him. I settled for music from my walkman instead.

When I got home I saw an email from Locus. They have agreed to some, but not all of my requests, and one aspect in particular was not mentioned at all. I emailed back asking about it, but I probably won't know until Monday what's going on there.

I woke up before 6 this morning. I don't know why; I just can't sleep any more, so I thought I'd post an update here, for lack of anything better to do.

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