Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 21 2004

It was Birthday Day at our office today for everyo…

It was Birthday Day at our office today for everyone with birthdays in the first half of the year. I’m a Christmas Baby(tm), but everyone was invited regardless of Actual Birthday, so I took some time from enjoying my new work computer (the old one finally went belly-up, thank god, no more Windows 98) to check it out.

First, let me say that the people I work with, while very nice and well-adjusted in most ways, have possibly the worst musical sense I’ve ever come across. How do I know this? Because they couldn’t even clap to the Happy Birthday song, even though it was on a Karaoke machine. The secretary who was operating the machine kept trying to change the tempo of the Happy Birthday song so that people could get in tempo, but it was hopeless, and the song ended up sounding like “Haaaaaappppppy BiiiiirthdaytoyouHappyBirthdaaaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooo YoouHappy!”

After the singing and some boring speeches, a gray curtin was swept aside to reveal our banquet, which consisted of several pounds of MSG arranged tastefully in the shape of various Chinese dishes. The MSG springs rolls were especially nice. To be honest, I was surprised they even made the effort, so I can’t complain too much.

In the afternoon I went to record a TV program called “Taozi 10e”. It’s a talk show with “experts”, “panels”, big fuzzy microphones and signs with “X” on one side and “O” on the other so that complex issues can be summed up in simple, easily digestible ways. The “10e” is read “yi-ling-yi”, which is confusing as in Chinese it sounds like “101”, but it’s not. In the back was a geeky fat guy who played silly riffs on a synthesizer at various inappropriate moments to make whomever was speaking at the time seem more “entertaining”.

The set was mostly pink, which, I admit, is not my favorite color. Shocking, I know. Bubbles with random English phrases adorned just about every surface. Taozi, the host, I knew from my days as a cameraman at TVBS. She even recognized me despite the intervening years and extra pounds. I think I might have originally been scheduled to be on the “expert” side, but then they changed me to the “panel” side, which meant I had to use a big fuzzy microphone and sit in a substandard chair. There were four of us on the panel, three guys and one woman, none of whom I recognized. Behind us two college students sat on bar stools at the show’s equivalent of the kid’s table at Thanksgiving.

Across from us sat the two “experts”. One was a legislator named Li Qing-an, and the other an “artist” named Jiu Kong. The topic? Whether Taiwan should switch to a volunteer army.

The show started off with the hosts, Taozi and Some Guy, making humorous remarks about military service. The Jiu Kong would say something stupid and get a laugh. Occasionally the hosts would ask other people questions. I quickly figured that not only was Jiu Kong an idiot, but he apparently had a grudge against military service in general because he was thrown out of the Air Force Academy. Legislator Li was trying to promote Lien Chan’s policy of mandatory military service for just three months; she sounded surprisingly earnest despite it being a laughable plan. Most of the arguments presented went along the lines of “The military has a lot of problems, so we shouldn’t have a military”, and “China can beat us anyway, so why have a military?” I tried to point out the obvious fallacies of such idiocy, but I soon got the feeling that the debate wasn’t really the point of the show. We were really there was laugh at Jiu Kong’s jokes, which were more desperate than actually funny. Sometimes Some Guy would take a stab at humor as well, but his jokes didn’t even have the advantage of being motivated by bitter failure, a host of insecurities and psychoses, as with Jiu Kong. Taozi breezed through the whole thing, laughing a lot and not taking it too seriously. She hasn’t changed a bit.

Soon enough the taping was over. I gave Taozi a copy of my book and a DVD of Clay Soldiers to look at, but she had some kind of legal discussion going on with Legislator Li, so I chatted with some of my old co-workers from TVBS who had made the jump to Dongfeng. It was an interesting experience I guess, and I could use the extra money, as always. At least they didn’t ask me my political affiliations; in that case I would have had to mumble some BS about “every party having it’s good points”, etc.

It’s been pouring outside for the last few days, and no sign of letting up. Sandy’s band is playing at the Living Room tomorrow night, and if my cold hasn’t gotten too much worse, I think I wouldn’t mind some live music.

posted by Poagao at 2:29 pm  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment