Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!
We made hot pot again, invited a handful of friends over and once again subjected ourselves to the CCTV New Year Gala, arguably the worst most-watched show in the history of television, it's a five-hour singing/dancing/crappy magic tricking/joke-cracking extravaganza.
Here were the reactions of a few of my Chinese friends who came over:
journalist: AH! This is a waste of my life! I will never get this time back, why are we watching this! We should be playing xbox!
tea master: Aw, their costumes are very beautiful.
Chinese 20-something who has lived in the States for some years and married an American: That singer used to sleep with Jiang Zemin! That's why she always gets to sing!
Incredibly, it appears the show is getting even worse, thanks to overzealous censors. An LA Times description of some of the 2011 show:
A singer in a low-cut red dress belted out "The Flag Is Brighter," with lyrics praising the Communist Party, while dancers unfurled red banners around her. Break-dancers dressed as migrant construction workers did a routine to a revolutionary ballad, "We Workers Have Strength." Dancers kitted out as Mongolians, Tibetans, Uighurs and other minorities twirled to a song called "Big Happy Family."
After dinner we went down to the parking lot and lit off a bunch of fireworks. We had sparklers, ground cracklers, these things that shot up and went "pop!" about 30-feet in the air, and one huge box of launchers that went about 40m up and made the pretty sparkly shower fireworks.
I lit the box of launchers, quite a thrill. We just lit it in the parking lot between the two towers (with the enthusiastic blessing of the residential security dude). I know it sounds really dangerous and my only excuse is everyone and their mother was doing it last night...all night.