Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Last Friday Zoe offered me seven tickets to a 4-D movie. Being rather ignorant of the goings-on at theme parks these days, I, naturally, was rather curious about a film which included the fourth dimension. I mean, how did Shiyan manage to not only settle the muddy waters of what actually constitutes the fourth dimension, but also include this dimension in a movie-watching experience? I was intrigued until I found out that by fourth dimension, they meant combining a 3-D film with physical effects. Well, actually, I remained intrigued despite my mild disappointment (and my feeling that the term "4-D" should not be used to apply to something that clearly does NOT include the fourth dimension as we understand it). Anyway, what kind of physical effects, I wondered, would this little movie theater include in the 3-D viewing experience? In spite of all attempts to avoid getting my hopes up, I became pretty excited. John, Megan, Finn, Zoe, Zoe's friend and I decided to check out the Saturday night eight o'clock showing of this 4-D marathon of short films (four in all) that lasted a total of forty-five minutes. 3-D glasses in hand, we found our seats fairly close to the screen but off to the side enough that only some of the graphics were 3-D while the others were merely blurry. We figured that for the price of ten kuai (the cost of the glasses), we got about a 2 1/2-D experience, and about as close as we got to the physical effects supposedly added to the 3-D film was the feeling of trash crunching beneath our feet and Zoe clinging to my arm when demons jumped out at us. The movie projector was hooked up to a computer, and at the most climactic moment during each of the short films, someone minimized the screen, stopped the film, and opened up the next one. Despite being left without any resolution to three of the four films, it was quite an enjoyable experience.

After the movie, we decided to walk for awhile through town (mostly because there was nothing else to do). While walking we came upon a car wreck. It didn't appear too serious, but the cars were blocking two lanes of traffic. A crowd of gawkers had gathered around the wreck with the intention, so it would appear, of making traffic-flow even more congested and clean-up of the wreckage more difficult. We watched the scene for some time with Megan shouting frustrations at the chaos which came from inpatient drivers who saw an opening in traffic and went for it, only to make everything more convoluted and impossible.

After the wreck scene, we made our way to People's Square where we are always promised opportunities for good times and new experiences. Finn joined a game of Chinese hacky sack, while the rest of us did some people watching. There are always groups of people dancing in the square in the evenings, and we derive great joy from watching them. Of course, when you watch them, you always risk the chance of being pulled into a dancing routine with one or two bold dancers who think it might be fun to teach a foreigner how to dance. On this particular evening, an older man invited me to dance. I initially declined but have learned that in China there is no sense (or success!) in declining anything so I conceded and joined him in the middle of the dance floor. He was a good leader and patient with me. Toward the end of the song, I actually felt like I was doing a halfway decent job of following his lead. It reinforced my desire to take dance lessons in the future...when I have the right partner.

It was a good evening, and I was reminded of how much I genuinely enjoy being out in the evenings, especially in Shiyan. I love this city.

In closing, let me leave you with these words of wisdom from one of my students, "If you are bright, you needn't know so much." (I don't understand it either.)

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