A selection of highlights from just over a year ago....
Guided Tour - recommended posts from the 4th quarter of 2009
1) Hunting of the snark - 2nd October 2009
I disdain the vanity of 'live blogging', but.... I find the only way to make tolerable the banality of the PRC's "60th Birthday" parade through Beijing on the morning of October 1st is to mount a facetious commentary on it to my friends via SMS.
2) A topical drinking game - 8th October 2009
I come up with an idea for making the plodding propaganda epic, Founding Of The Republic (on nearly every cinema screen in the country during the National Holiday Week celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic), slightly more endurable. Of course, it involves alcohol; lots of alcohol.
3) All I want in a sports bar... - 9th October 2009
Beijing these days just doesn't have any decent sports bars any more. It shouldn't be that hard. Here's my simple 'how to' wishlist.
4) The invitation - 19th October 2009
... to my birthday party. (Yes, sorry you weren't actually invited. But take a look - it's funny.)
5) Trinity - 23rd October 2009
What is with this 'rule of threes'? There are only three bars I ever go to these days. Perhaps even that's too many. There are always three women on my mind. That's definitely too many.
6) The Beer Equivalence Index - 27th October 2009
My useful tip for moderating your expenditure (and cheering yourself up) by calculating the value of everything (especially your meagre income) in terms of how many of the cheapest local beers you could buy for that much. I added important supplements on using this technique to compare the cost of living in different cities/countries and to gauge the unevenness of income distribution in one city/country.
7) Shit happens - 12th November 2009
The Weeble and I engage in some banter on French profanity and Kurt Vonnegut...
8) Beijing's Top Five Dive Bars - 18th November 2009
I launch my new 'Top Fives' strand with a rundown of the sleaziest bars I have enjoyed drinking in over the last several years. (Alas, only one of the five still exists.)
9) A New Love - 20th November 2009
No, don't be silly - not a woman, a drink! I am smitten with a cocktail called The Black Feather (highlight of the menu at upmarket new bar, Apothecary - which, unfortunately, after a fairly promising start rapidly descended into being shit).
10) A nasty moment - 1st December 2009
I suffer a rather bizarre accident in a Chinese restaurant (but live to tell the tale, obviously).
11) 12 Square Metres: The Movie - 7th December 2009
A local online TV station does a short travelogue spot on my favourite bar.
12) Don't be a Chinese child - 8th December 2009
I commemorate the 15th anniversary of the appalling Karamay theatre fire (in which over 300 people lost their lives, mostly young schoolchildren) with blind folk singer Zhou Yunpeng's scathing song on the subject.
13) The veil pierced? - 9th December 2009
I suffer a bit of a panic when it appears that my online anonymity has been compromised and a Beijing bar owner actually knows who I am. This could be the end of everything!
14) The perfect barmaid - 18th December 2009
... can surely exist only in the realm of Platonic abstractions. But we were lucky enough to experience a very close approximation for a short while earlier this year in Beijing.
15) A man after my own heart - 21st December 2009
Sometimes you encounter an ordinary Chinese bloke for whom you instinctively feel a deep kinship....
16) Café Bohème - 21st December 2009
A new-ish favourite find of mine in the hutongs....
17) A Christmas Story - 24th December 2009
From way back.... before I moved to China... a little anecdote of doomed romantic possibility that occurred during the 'Festive Season' - an early entry in my 'Great Dating Disasters' series.
18) Little Frank - 27th December 2009
Another dose of seasonal sentimentality: the story of the puppy who saved me from a nervous breakdown.
19) More txt msg wistfulness - 28th December 2009
A throwaway quip... that was just too good to throw away.
20) My Top Five Christmases (in Beijing) - 29th December 2009
Not all of them that wonderful, really; but each distinctive in its own way. I was feeling particularly glum at Christmas this year, so thought I'd try to escape into nostalgia!