What were the highlights from the early part of this year?
Guided Tour - recommended posts from the 1st quarter of 2012
1) Mess - 3rd January 2012
I begin the New Year with my kitchen in a state of chaos after a - very modest - 'house-warming' party.
2) Top Five Basslines - 7th January 2012
The opening post in what has become an irregular music series on here generated my busiest comment thread of the whole year (about the only busy comment thread).
3) Hitting the Naale on the head! - 10th January 2012
I am briefly almost fooled by a wondrously naff piece of Chinese brand mimicry.
4) A musical youth - 14th January 2012
A brief history of the evolution of my tastes in music, prompted by recent online encounters with new blog buddy Music Mike.
5) Starting the Wish List early - 17th January 2012
I discover a wealth of oddball gift ideas on the splendidly named Unemployed Philosophers' Guild website. And I am thus inspired to launch an entirely neglected reader participation thread on favourite writer/drinkers.
6) Positive feedback - 20th January 2012
News (apparently genuine) that some Japanese urinals are being fitted with interactive video games controlled by one's piss-stream... leads me to suggest a few such game formats especially tailored to the Chinese market.
7) Elements of a memorable Chinese New Year's eve - 24th January 2012
Although I have come to loathe China's 'Spring Festival' holiday, I reflect that I did have a rather a good time on this day in my very first year in Beijing.
8) This week's drinking excuse - 26th January 2012
I celebrate Australia Day with a brief appreciation of the famous drinking exploits of former PM Bob Hawke, and with a posting of that most Aussie of all Aussie songs, Colin Hay's Down Under.
9) Summoning the get-up-and-go - 28th January 2012
Feeling rundown and lethargic after a strange week of insomnia, I rouse my spirits with a favourite 'happy song' from my student days, virtuouso electro-jazz ensemble Weather Report's irresistibly peppy instrumental Birdland.
10) Limiting one's chances - 3rd February 2012
I review the reasons why none of my attempted romantic relationships in Beijing have worked out.
11) That's exactly how I felt - 4th February 2012
The funniest and wisest comedy sketch I know: Peter Cook and Dudley re-enact the Fall of Lucifer - from their brilliant 1968 feature film Bedazzled.
12) Alternate reasons to celebrate - 6th February 2012
I find further necessary distraction from the protracted hell of the Chinese New Year festival in Bob Marley's birthday, which I commemorate with two versions of the song Stop The Train (one by The Wailers, and one by its composer, Peter Tosh).
13) Singles get doubles! - 14th February 2012
My idea for a Valentine's Day promotion.
14) In praise of the tequila slammer - 16th February 2012
How I developed a fondness for the crack cocaine of alcoholic drinks.
15) The threshold of gloom - 22nd February 2012
I realise that my spells of depression are closely linked to the hours of daylight. Thank heavens the days are getting longer!
16) Great Dating Disasters (9) - 23rd February 2012
This was actually one of my great romantic successes - but it didn't have staying power.
17) Mardi Gras leftovers - 25th February
Since I had recently been fretting (yet again) about having to miss the Krewe du Vieux carnival in New Orleans this year, I rounded up a selection of versions of I Wish I Was In New Orleans: a great live performance and the original album version (illustrated with a stylish animation utilizing some sketches by Egon Schiele) by its original composer, Tom Waits; an ethereal cover by Scarlett Johansson; and a different song of the same name by up-and-coming American roots music star Ben Prestage.
18) Just what the doctor ordered! - 28th February 2012
I have a new favourite cocktail - the Penicillin.
19) Bon mot for the week - 5th March 2012
One of my own, on why people find my personality so difficult to deal with.
20) Drinks can be too cheap - 8th March 2012
I explain why offering 5-kuai draughts sends out a negative signal.
21) The allure of the bar crawl - 9th March 2012
A haiku on the appeal of - occasionally - trying to fit in several different venues in one night of drinking.
22) Return of the Band Names game - 10th March 2012
Some friends and I come up with an idea for a tribute band honouring Beijing's new bluegrass favourites The Randy Abel Stable. Shortly afterwards, another friend asks me to suggest names for her new band. My input on the question is ultimately disregarded - but at least it provides an excuse to revive the long-dormant Band Names game for a week or two, and push it past its 200th comment.
23) Great Drinking Songs (31) - 17th March 2012
For St Patrick's Day this year, I post three versions of Whiskey In The Jar - by Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, and The Dubliners.
24) How not to do it - opening a bar - 24th March 2012
A new Chinese bar in my 'hood, Zhou, does everything so spectacularly wrong, it's like an instruction manual for how to lose money.
25) Hmmm, chilli! - 26th March 2012
Tasting notes on the Chilli Cook-Off competition with which hutong brewery Great Leap saw in the spring. [I was not in sympathy with the judges' choice of winner!]
26) Half-plugged - 29th March 2012
An account of one of the year's most surprising gigs (and, after a faltering start, quite possibly its best): The Beijing Beatles playing semi-unplugged in the tiny, homely space of my favourite bar, 12 Square Metres.
27) Oh, brave new world! - 30th March 2012
I nearly get a job in nearby Tianjin. While attending an interview, I stumble upon an amusingly bizarre bar calling itself the Swiss Club. I couldn't help but be reminded of The Fast Show's improbable Lothario character Swiss Toni, and was inspired to try to launch another audience participation thread (another abject failure! no commenters any more!!).
28) Another Top Five Basslines: 'Chuggers' - 31st March 2012
The second entry in my basslines series - this time focusing on those unfussy but insistent lines that just keep throbbing away, relentlessly driving a song on its way.