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YaawwwwEiiiiOwwwww

"How"

This morning we woke up early to take the train back to Jinan:

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Huge train station.

Then we got booked back into our old hotel where Mr. Yang was still staying.

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(That leads to where the continental breakfast is served... pretty snazzy)

After lunch at the China Post Hotel Restaurant (I still think its a really weird combination), the rest of the day, all the way until dinner, we spent with Bing Qing. She took us shopping again (poor thing hates shopping) and she got us to finally buy some nice clothes. Tonight was going to be a huge banquet with like 50 people or more to for Mr. Yang. Originally he asked if Joe and I wanted to preform for them since no Kung Fu people would be there, just friends and family, and I thought, sure, we could do the 2 man form he taught us. And then I though, no. No, I would not be preforming anything in front of 50 people who, even if they don't practice Kung Fu, know and cherish the art as their cultural heritage. Joe at least still trains more than once a month, so he agreed to do his Ba Gua form that evening.

Then, the bad. Bing Qing didn't know how to get to the dinner. Joe and I both wanted to go back to the hotel to change and get our cameras, so on the 30 min bus ride back to our hotel Bing Qing got the address from her mother. At the hotel we took our time and got ready, then we decided to finally head out. "So where are we going?" "I dunno still." She told us. She only know what bus to get on, but she didn't know the end stop yet. She called her mom back. Not good. Turns out we travelled 30 min. in the opposite direction of the dinner. We actually passed the shopping center where we bought our clothes on the way to dinner. Wei Ping told us not to be there after 5:30pm, and it as 5 till our deadline. "Taxi!" Bing Qing told us. We needed to get off the bus and catch a taxi. At the next stop we desperately hailed a cab. You know whats a bad idea to do in the capital city of a Chinese province? - Hail a cab, and then try to take it somewhere fast. At one point Joe asked if we should just get out and run. Luckily we didn't because the next time we moved we actually made it through the light, and we started hitting a decent speed for a while. When we got out Bing Qing didn't know which building it was, so we started running around while she called her mom. Her mom told us to stay put, and she would come outside and find us. "Bing Qing!" We heard calling us from the building we almost walked into on gut alone. Running up the steps we made it into the grand hall... and we were still waiting for about 1/2 of the other guests... sigh of relief.

Everyone was walking around, mingling, and then Master Yang was standing with a group of people around a large line of tables against the right wall.

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This man is a well-known art professor at Shandong University.

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And then Mr. Zhang of course did the calligraphy on the painting.

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With Mr. Yang is Lili's mom and nephew.

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That was the sequence of Joe making Lili's nephew cry.

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On the left is a family member that got lost for about a decade! I believe she is some sort of 2nd cousin to Master Yang or his father, I'm not sure. But they worked really hard to find her after some family members passed away and she disappeared into poverty. Now they found her maybe 2 years ago or so, and she is very happy to have relatives again.

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Then we sat down for dinner (we are at the table of honor with Master Yang and his father, and I don't quite fell comfortable with it. I hope there is no resentment... but this group really likes us, so I know there is not... I'm just paranoid):

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And then, after eating, eating, eating, the festivities begin! Lili narrated the entire night, first in Chinese, and the in English (yes, we were the only people who didn't speak Chinese there, so that second part was just for us).

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Speeches! First, Wei Ping:

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(I have no idea what he is saying, but I heard Joe and Nisha, and then some good natured laughing caught on across the room)

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Now we see Wei Ping hold up his finger and mimic sewing it at the knuckle... and we know he is talking about Joe (so why does my face turn red?)

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Then Mr. Yang's speech:

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And Lili's mom recites a poem:

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Then, the opera singer preforms:

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And just like our first night here, Master Wong follows her with his story about the tiger. (He does better with a small group setting. This large impersonal group just made me feel like the format was wrong.)

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Most of these photos are from our soon to be good friend Haorong (Wei Ping's best friend's son, and not just current best friend, but best friend all the way from primary school!). He is an amazing photographer and did tuns of documentation photography. This last shot is one of my favorites of his. I know its our video camera in the shot, but I'm only 80% sure that is Joe doing the video taping.

Then, it was time for this apparently very famous traditional Chinese singer. She made such an impression on me that night, that I named the title of this blog after her song. Her first time up she had to sing without the background music... and it was hard on my ears. Then, just as she was giving up, the sound people got her music working, and she started all over again.

This wasn't the best one either (she jumps up on stage 3 or 4 times during the rest of the night). Her singing in person was really shrill! They had the microphones turned up way too loud as well, so when she would hit a high note, it actually physically hurt something in my head. And then sometimes when she dances she would make the most ghastly expression that Joe likes to imitate to this day. She would open her eyes real wide, then rather than smile she would sneer almost as if she was some sort of evil villain about to cackle their manacle laugh. But many of the people in the crowd would call out “How” ( = good, wonderful, excellent, great) when she would make my ears hurt. I didn't understand it, but I got the impression that back in her prime she was very good at this traditional singing, but now in her later years, still living off of her memories, she can't quite make the strange tones work for her.

Then, it was time for the gift giving!

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Now, the pressure is on Joe! He heard that Lili was going to introduce him and that they wanted Joe to say something. Worried that he couldn't say it in Chinese, and that Lili's english translation had something to be desired as well, Joe desperately tried to get BingQing to come on stage with him. “I cannot, I am not important,” she tried to explain to Joe. It would be out of protocol for him to bring someone uninvited to the stage with him. So then he tried to get her to write down what Joe was saying to her in Chinese for Lili to read. However, KungFu sounds very much like ConFu which is how the chinese pronounce Confucius, and so Joe's whispers to BingQing to give to Lili were already off on the wrong track. BingQing had already given Lili the cheat sheet when Joe found out that she was going to say that Joe didn't learn about Confucius to hurt people! Oh no! And Lili was stepping up to the microphone! I tried to signal to her not to read what BingQing had given her, but it was too late! “Master Yang, what is Lili saying?” He told me that she was simply reading what she had prepared to say, and didn't seem to say anything BingQing had given to her. “Phueph!” Then Joe went up on stage and very nervously spoke in english to everyone about how its been wonderful coming to China and meeting all sorts of new friends.

Master Yang started to laugh when he heard Lili translate what Joe had said before his form, so I asked Master Yang what she said. “She not say anything Joe said, she just say what she wants to say.” Then while Joe was preforming I heard people around the table talking, and I tried to get it on tape, but if my camera isn't pointed at them at the time it is very hard for the microphone to pick them up. Mr. Yang was asking what type of KungFu Joe was doing, and Master Yang was explaining that he was doing BaGua. Then around the table were surprised exclamations of how good Joe's performance was. Master Yang never took credit for Joe's abilities, but explained that Joe was a very gifted student (I love Master Yang).

Then, the dreaded woman came back to the stage. At this point, I am really actually kinda drunk. Everyone kept doing “Gampie!” and making everyone “empty their glasses.” I started off with a clear liquor that reminded me of 151, and then I promptly switched to red wine. The alcohol though, did not improve my taste in listing to her singing. At one point Joe jumped on the bandwagon and yelled “How!” after one of her “impressive” notes that reminded me of nails on a chalkboard. I immediately called him out on it, “You don't mean that!” I felt confident in saying this rather loudly because nobody spoke english except for us... then I see Master Yang practically spit as he began to laugh hard while taking a sip of wine. “Master Yang! You speak english! I forgot! I'm sorry!” All three of us are about to fall out of our chairs as Master Yang grabs the wine and fills all three of our glasses and gives us a hardy cheers as he salutes my honesty and probably our shared belief that her singing was not something we particularly enjoyed.

And, gifts.

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And, Gampie.

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Then her husband (not honored enough to sit at our table), jumped onto the stage and relieved us of her singing and began to sing himself! His voice was actually really nice, but not something you might be considered famous for. He sang a song that reminded me of a chinese version of Frank Sinatra. He didn't have the same pipes as Sinatra, but after listening to his wife, maybe I might think he was better than he may have actually been.

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Then the woman in the red shirt steals the microphone again! And now, enter the drunk guy stage left (or is that right? I can't remember my Strongsville High School theater crew rules).

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She was not amused by him. He kept clapping, and then theatrically moving his arms on different notes. I think he caused her to feel uncomfortable, so she ended her song a bit early and finally put the microphone down. (I say this really harshly, but I actually really enjoyed listening to how bad she was. It was actually really interesting.)

Now, the best part of the night! The drunk guy hands the microphone over to the opera singer, and he starts doing the same things to her. He tries to anticipate the climatic notes and waves his arms in the air as if conducting the background music. The opera singer though finds his antics neither this or that. She was singing a song that happened to be a duet, and then it happened, he knew that she needed help, she shouldn't have to sing the male and female parts... and he grabs the microphone!

Back and forth they go with the microphone, and he shocks the room! I don't think most people expected him to actually be able to sing opera! We clapped enthusiastically, and the whole room changed from being involved with food and their own conversation to the extravaganza these two were creating. Watching them was a blast, and in my opinion, the highlight of the night.

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Then the traditional group photos.

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And then Joe and I make the rounds to drink to each table.

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And finally, someone struggles the camera out of Haorong's grasp, and we finally get a picture with him. After this night he becomes our translator, tour guide, roommate, and good friend.

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(I feel like Leia hugging Han and Luke, am I really that short?)

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Posted by - Rain 04:53

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Comments

hey vanessa call me and check your email right away there is a problem with joe's japan rail pass

by georgi r

I have a poem:

Vanessa gets pink when she drinks!
Taipei thinks Joe stinks!

(sorry the Taipei thing is ahead of the blog, but when skyping with Joe the other nite, a device on the wall of their hotel sprayed him with perfume! and Vanessa, you look really cute with some color!)

by georgi r

V--
I hope you'll watch "Farewell My Concubine," a great movie that will show you more about traditional Chinese opera. I think that until the Cultural Revolution, all the parts were played by men, and I'm curious about how the traditional opera (and women who perform it) are viewed now. The second woman and the man who spontaneously joined in were really fun to watch, but I wonder when that Western-sounding form of opera developed. Anyway, I'm not sure the first woman was failing to hit the notes--it's an art form so different from Western music. But this entry was really entertaining and enlightening!

by Sheryl S

wow, joe good job! your parents must be so proud that yu got such validation from people in China for your forms. now we know you are not just making it up and 'fighting trees' or doing 'barbed wire!'

by georgi r

yay I finally fixed my computer so I can read these again! The Chinese really know how to party. Every banquet type thing you guys go to ends in endless toasts and shots it seems. Looks like a good time! I would want to be a little tipsy, because social situations in a country where I don't know the language would make me so nervous.

And Van, you're not that short, those Chinese people are all just surprisingly tall. What's up with that?

by Laurr

Sheryl, please don't hate me for saying this, but your taste in movies is sometimes strange, depressing, and awkward in a sexual way. And I'm not sure if I watched the same version of the movie as you, b/c there was no woman who spontaneously joined in. But the version I watched was old and Chinese, and really long. It reminded me of 1984. You will betray everyone and everything you love, and then, in the end, we will only let you die when you truly love Big Brother. I guess it is fitting that we received a copy of 1984 to read while in our last few weeks of China.

by - Rain

I don't think I conveyed my idea at all! Farewell My Concubine is surely a dark movie, though very beautiful. I loved it for what it showed about the hardships of people under both the old regime and the communists, but especially I was impressed by the early part of the movie about how the boys were trained for the opera, and one was forced to take the women's parts, even though he resisted giving up his gender identity. I hadn't made the connection with 1984, but it certainly fits. As for the "woman and man who spontaneously joined in," I was referring there to your story and videos of the singers at the party! As for my taste in movies, well, usually people make fun of me for liking most movies (Independence Day, for example). But it's true that The Piano is one of my favorite movies of all time, though I don't find it at all depressing.

by Sheryl S

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