My favorite bits from The Interview

One word: Hilarious.
One word: Hilarious.

The Interview gets 5 stars from me. Here are some bits I’ll never forget and neither should you:

  • Hilarious! By far the funniest take on US-North Korean, geopolitical affairs I’ve ever seen.
  • Unkorean – So much Hollywood /slash/ American culture, with a speckling of Korean bits.
  • James Franco – Looks like my cousin! “They hate us cuz they ain’t us!”
  • Suuk – When did Eun Jae start her acting career?! (@MiahCouhie, @KimEunJae)
  • Manja manja! – That’s what people want, “Give us some shit!” So, true, people want the shit…
  • 50 KM west of DanDong – “Did you just say China? And did you just say Dong?” Awesome hat tip to China’s DongBei region with a Jay Chow (周杰伦) soundtrack.
  • Sleeper car – Such an awesome sleeper car shot with a mixed group of Chinese. The smoke-wherever-you-want thing is spot on!

Continue reading My favorite bits from The Interview

Repatriating from China – Ill Communication

Better than Nothing
Better than Nothing

It’s August and I’ve been living in Boston since I moved back from China at the end of 2013. A LOT has happened over the course of 9+ months back in America and I thought it was time to check in with AL.ME to recap what’s happened and the hidden challenges of my repat experience. Enjoy installment #4!


Speaking a foreign language everyday for 8 years is without a doubt a great way to build up that skill. You not only learn how to express yourself in a translated form, but you also experience social interactions in a whole new light. However, you will begin to find yourself behaving differently in your work and at home, with friends and your lover(s).

For years I’ve made specific comparisons between the way Chinese and Americans view and interact with the world around us. We have a lot more in common than we think, but the differences are noticeable. Here are a few changes that I’ve definitely noticed while I’ve been back in America the past year.

Continue reading Repatriating from China – Ill Communication

After 8 Years in China, I’m moving to Boston

Me, Benji Ming
Me, Benji Ming

2 years ago I told a troop of Duke University students visiting China that I intended to give my current projects (via Huajie Group) another 2 years to float or sink before returning home. This summer being the 2 year mark, I’ve decided it’s time to move the Benji Ming show back to the USA, for now. It’s not easy to leave a place that has been my 2nd home for such a long time, but I have decided that my real home and family are what matter more than anything. Continue reading After 8 Years in China, I’m moving to Boston

Hey Parents – Jealous of Asian Students? Think Again!

Brain Workout

There’s plenty of debate about whether or not Asian kids are “smarter” than Western kids, but I think this discussion is a little over-simplified. Also, creating and implementing a test that accurately compares millions of students around the world has got to be crafty feat, especially if run by governmental agencies across the world.  The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has attempted to “rate” countries for years through “evaluat[ing] education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.” Continue reading Hey Parents – Jealous of Asian Students? Think Again!

Getting Wet in Zhuhai, China

The rains are coming again. After a dry winter and a super humid spring with sweaty walls, it is time for mother nature to let her hair down again with torrential downpours. Here is a sample of that from my previous apartment on the Jinan University campus.

Warning: These photos are rather Armageddony!
(Click images to zoom in)

Rainy Season in Zhuhai

Titanic 3D in China

Titanic in Chinese

I watched Titanic in 3D today in Zhuhai and was a little bit surprised- I actually shed a tear. Not because of the love story, but at the view of the Statue of Liberty near the end. (Sometimes the somewhat cheesy moments in Hollywood movies catch me at a sensitive moment.) But, its ok because most of the other (older) people in the theater  were crying too.

I went with my girlfriend, who clearly remembers watching the original Titanic in 1997, and was really looking forward to taking me to the show. While we were there she noticed something peculiar. There was no voice singing during My Heart Will Go On; it was just the score. I had to think about that for a minute and then I realized she was right. “Why did they take out the singing?” she asked in Chinese. I said I wasn’t sure, but it might have had something to do with the modern audience not really caring to hear an older song. “The song isn’t popular anymore” I told her. But maybe there was another reason. Who knows. But that wasn’t the only thing different about this Chinese re-release… Continue reading Titanic 3D in China

The Flowers of War (Nanjing War Movie)

The Flowers of War 金陵十三钗

Just watched this Zhang Yimou film in a local theatre today with a Chinese friend. It was so powerful that I had to step out about halfway through to calm myself down. The last movie that brought tears to my eyes was probably The Game, which was a completely different type of movie, but a psychological thriller none-the-less. I was speechless after that movie and I feel the same with this one.

Since my friend was a woman whose mother came from Nanjing it was extra moving for us. All I could do was give her a shoulder and a hug at the moments when we both wanted to close our eyes.

I’m sure this movie will get mixed reviews, but I would say that a movie which can twist the audience in so many directions is truly a piece of work. There are reasons to feel love, hate, sorrow, and joy in this tri-lingual film. And the subtitles are as important to the experience as the blood that is spilled on the ash-covered Nanjing city streets; as searing as the colorful church glass that shadders from a heroic snipers bullet; as garish as the bodies mutilated by acts of inhumane terror. Continue reading The Flowers of War (Nanjing War Movie)

Get over the Great Fire Wall for free Forever

Are you in China and looking for a way to get over internet censorship which blocks you from not only social media, but also productivity tools such as Google Docs? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Just follow the next few steps and you will ALWAYS have a secure internet connection, for FREE, FOREVER!

Step 1: Go to, which allows you to get over the wall anyway… but sadly, you can’t use all of the functions of websites requiring javascript. Most social sites and productivity tools require this, so you’re out of luck by using Ninjacloak alone.

Step 2: On this browser-based service, you have to enter the website which provides the most recent form of FreeGate (by Dynaweb). If you have FreeGate already and it stops working, you’ll have no way to update unless you get to step 3. Continue reading Get over the Great Fire Wall for free Forever

Green Tea To-Go!

Green Tea To-Go

All of my guests who have visited China notice the basics: delicious food, hospital people, beautiful landscapes, questionable hygiene, and ancient customs. One aspect of Chinese culture I often get asked about is tea culture. One specific part of the tea culture has been left untouched on AL.ME for years: Green Tea To-Go! So today I finally weigh in on an ancient custom that has been born through thousands of years of medical practice and remains a cornerstone in modern Chinese culture. Continue reading Green Tea To-Go!

5 Ways to Keep from Losing Your Mind in China

"What the...?"

China is a very exciting country to be in for many reasons. For most foreigners here, you’ve come for business or travel. But with so many possible activities to do, there remains one thing you can’t avoid: communication. Communication in modern China is probably not much different than how it was a hundred years ago, before simplified Chinese came around. Contrary to one assumption, communication hasn’t gotten any simpler. In fact, if you aren’t prepared, it can be very easy to lose your mind. That’s where the group of foreigners in China gets separated… and the ones who can’t handle it end up going home “for good”. Here is what that group should have taken into consideration.

1) Laugh your problems away: This is one of the toughest things to get used to. It’s the awkward giggle/chuckle you hear when a something goes wrong. Perhaps you gave a direct comment that surprised your secretary. Maybe a friend didn’t help you do a task correctly. Anything that takes effort could potentially be done wrong, and a laugh is a way to combat losing face. In order to combat frustration, I usually make a game out of guessing what will go wrong. When a mistake is made, or a misunderstanding occurs, I compare it with my original guess. It is a little pessimistic, but it often helps me laugh the problems away. Continue reading 5 Ways to Keep from Losing Your Mind in China