Sunday, 26 December 2010

Taiwanese eye for the Western guy

When first arriving in Taiwan, I wanted to do my best to fit in. Obviously this meant dressing like the locals- flowing silken robes, bobbled slippers, long fingernails and a Fu Manchu moustache. Guess what? Turned out that my outfit was racist! I know! I suppose that'll teach me to watch just the one movie about China as research. Lesson learned- Don't trust Hollywood, kids.

So it was back to the drawing board. I guess I can't try the Asian look again, because I'm not Asian (yet) so I felt the next best thing was to look at how Asians see western people and conform as best I could. With this in mind, I set out on the streets with my trusty(i.e. old) camera and took a few pictures to see how westerners are represented over here, in the hope that I could find a new look that would straddle the barrier between the East and West.

Buy! Sell! Buy! Sell! I hope I can look like these guys when I grow up. Sweet shirts, ties, glasses phones... And that's without even mentioning the hair. This photo just works for me on so many levels. So, an incredible suit and a magnificent tie was definitely the first thing to get. A good start.

Now, this is EXACTLY where I've been going wrong. When I look at people and smile I try to be genuinely friendly. I want people to know this and feel comfortable, if at all possible. Oh, you foolish boy. What this photo shows me is that to fit in, I need to grow the moustache of a Spanish paedophile and smile like a smug, disingenuous prick. I've been so wrong for all these years. To be honest I think this information is gold in or out of Taiwan. I hope you're all taking notes.

Cinema Secrets is the place that's really changed the game though. The shop tweaks the curtain back and ushers us in, showing how all of our favourite sexy celebrities pull off their fantastic looks. Let's just spend some time looking at the hip, young styles they offer.

Barbra Streisand- What can you say about Babs that hasn't already been said? Sexy. Modern. Cool. Down with the kids. I agree with none of those things, but maybe someone does. I'm trying to appeal to a larger audience here, so bear with me. I don't think her look really applies that much to me anyway, so I'll move on.

Captain Kirk and Mr Spock- Yep. If you're talking sexy, you don't get much better than Captain Kirk. Spock's got the eye-liner thing going on, but Kirk definitely takes it.

The cast of Planet of the Apes- Now, ask 1 in 10 young people what celebrity look they'd like to emulate, at least five of them are going to say 'Cornelius from Planet of the Apes', right? BOOM. Cinema Secrets has you covered.

The Golden Girls- I know you've been feeling left out so far ladies (Mainly cause this whole exercise is all about my new look! You are so selfish sometimes!) but here we arrive at what I think is the epitome of hot, fashionable, relevant women. Finally you have the answer to the question that's been burning inside of you for so long- 'Where can I go when I want to look like Bea Arthur?'

Sally Field- Sure, why not.

As you can see, deciding which look to go for was going to be tough with this awesome selection. Mulling over my choices, I went into Cinema Secrets and asked for the 'Captain Kirk'. Though a Planet of the Apes was tempting. Another important step in the road to a new me.

Right- I have my outfit, my facial expressions and my make up all sorted. That just leaves the most important step. My hair. And where better to go, than Phil Salon. In case you're wondering, Phil Salon is a man. A man with a dream. A dream of quality hairdressing. He cut my hair like a fiend. Ok, just for full disclosure, the only reason I put this up here is because the name Phil Salon amuses me so much and I had nowhere else to put it. It totally works here though, right? Right?

Which brings us to the new me. The all new besuited, make up wearing, hair styled wonder and all the while, smiling like a complete prick. Let me tell you, it has went down a smash so far. It probably helps that I'm getting my girlfriend to wear a Betty White mask, mind. Which is, by the way, VERY hot.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Another Year, Another Xmas

My brain has been entirely elsewhere the past week or two; planning my trip to Korea and making as clean a break as possible from my current job. Sitting here on a Sunday, I've found it hard to really think of something to write for this entry. I have some half-baked ideas, not ready to go..... so, the next logical path? What's going on at the minute? Christmas! My word, I'd almost forgotten.

This is my second Christmas in an Asian country and I doubt it'll be my last. It's a strange sensation not being bombarded by Christmas music, trees and various signs of festivity around every corner. That's not to say you don't see it. Quite the opposite- many shops and schools have Christmas decorations plastered liberally, well, everywhere. But it just doesn't seem as omnipresent as it does back home. Just another way to promote your products or chisel some more money out of the parents as they pay for a pageant to a holiday they don't even celebrate. A system which has worked so well for us over the years, of course.

I'd say a lot of people who may read this don't particularly enjoy this time of year and I can understand why: It's cold, the streets and shops are rammed full of people and you'll often have way too many gifts to buy. I've been there, I get it. It sucks. I can't tell you how good it is to be away from all that.

But wait! I actually really enjoy Christmas. Part of me misses the madness, even. Why? Because it's the perfect excuse to spend time with people you care about doing things that you enjoy. What's not to like about that? For most of us, it's our idea of what a traditional Christmas should be that prevents us from having a good time. I've been lucky to have had a few years away from home at Christmas and although it was difficult at first it's really allowed me to see why and how it can be the very best time of year.

So get out there- go out for some drinks, some dinner or just go out with the people you want to be with. Yes, that is an order. If that doesn't work, just watch 'It's a Wonderful Life'. You'll be all Christmassed (that'd a word, right?) up in no time. In fact, that's what I'm off to do right now.

And if you're already psyched for Christmas? Ummm... ignore all that. More LOL's next week, I promise. Now go watch 'It's a Wonderful Life' too. It's tops.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Rough Riders

As you may or may not know, I have recently joined the pantheon of great bikers. My name can now sit easily beside those of James Dean, Marlon Brando, Dog the Bounty Hunter, that bellend Paul from American Chopper and of course Tim Allen, William H Macy, John Travolta and Martin Lawrence. Not a dud in the group. Every one a great man.

It's not all fun and games though, riding about town with the boyz, wearing leather jackets and just generally being cool like in Wild Hogs. It's a goddamn death race out there on the mean streets of Taipei. I know crazy driving too. I've been in Korea. The very country where when a taxi driver takes you on a short cut in a back alley, he doesn't slow down or anything like that. God no, what would be the point? Instead he drives just as fast but holds his hand directly over the horn in order to more quickly warn people of their imminent death. Taiwanese drivers spit on this sort of kindness. 'Warning people? What a bunch of faggots.' the Taiwanese taxi driver would say. Or what the cackling, evil taxi driver in my minds eye says anyway. And he's been right about most of the things he's told me.

I'd say most Taiwanese drivers wouldn't actually know where the indicator was on their cars or bikes. They just have no use for it. Accelerator, brake (rarely), car horn and hazard lights are the main tools of the job. Honestly, I think I see hazard lights used just as often if not more than indicators over here. They're used in one of two ways. Firstly, the 'I'm WAY too lazy to actually find a parking space' use. This takes the form of a car being abandoned, normally in the most inconvenient place possible for everyone else. Bus stops, bridges, fire stations. Places the inconsiderate government hasn't built parking spaces, the pricks. And when you need a packet of cigarettes or to sit down for half an hour to talk shit and eat some food, what kind of jerk walks for five minutes to get to the shop/restaurant? That's what cars are for, bro! So simply fire on the hazard lights, stop and boom. You have parked my friend.

Secondly, and my favourite use, is the 'I'm driving and using hazard lights' way. What this broadly seems to mean is that the person driving the car is a borderline psychopath and wants you to know it. The hazard lights in this case say 'I am a MENTAL and will drive accordingly.' I guess its nice that they let us know, at least. You learn to be grateful for these things.

Anyway, this is a small slice of the madness I have to deal with on my 30 minute commute into work on my mean machine. I drive fast, but safetly, I think. You may feel that those two things are not mutually compatible, but seeing the way others drive I'd have to disagree. Having said that, I think that getting into some mayhem on the roads over here is a matter or when not if. Another excellent reason for quitting my job! It's either that or go splat against the side of a bus, taxi or one of the other assorted auto mobiles that fill the roads in the mornings. You know, so long as I can take a BMW driver down with me, it might be a pretty good way to go.