Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chinese Saints

I promised I would write something funny so I started thinking about Yo Mamma jokes. In my opinion, there are only two really good Yo Mamma jokes.

Yo Mamma is so fat, her nickname is "Daaaayum!"
Yo Mamma is so fat, she sell shade in the summertime.

Anyway the reason I bring that up is because I once had a Chinese American friend (ABC or huaqiao in these parts) that was complaining about feeling left out as young girl when her friends would tell Yo Mamma jokes because her mom was skinny.

So I made up one up for her.

Yo Mamma so Chinese, she eat a hamburger with chopsticks.

Anyway, she loved it and that brings me to today's "humor" and the reason for the above title of "Chinese Saints."

Since I had to work all day writing fluff articles at a trade show, it got me thinking about what led a couple of my friends to start the website Expoextra. It was the boredom and absurdity of trade shows and writing about them.

So, as bad as the gig was today, it made me long for the days when we we had so little to do that making a website and magazines for no money to make people laugh seemed worth doing. Below is an article the three of us worked on together for an Expoextra magazine distributed at Spring Scream in 2001. Probably 50 people read the thing so I am bringing it back in honor of a shitty trade show gig. (Dave and Sean, If you guys got any problems with me putting this on the web, let me know). Here you go.

Chinese martyrs and venerable persons currently being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church

Though Catholicism has extended into China, there are currently no Chinese saints recognized by the Catholic Church. To correct several hundred years of oversight, the Vatican is considering the following candidates for sainthood in early 2003. Below are condensed versions of the potential hagiographies of the leading candidates.

Saint Chen the Chainsmoker (1897-1972)
This individual from Ningbo kept a single flame alit for 65 years using qigong breathing techniques and judicious cigarette management. The flame was sent from heaven in the form of a burning bush when Chen was only 10 years old. Upon encountering the divine blaze, Chen promptly used it to light a cigarette. He was able to keep the flame alive until his death in 1972 by continually lighting each new cigarette from the last. During the torrential rains of 1919, Chen single-handedly enabled the citizens of Ningbo to continue to enjoy hot meals while all other fire-starting implements were rendered useless. 

Saint Li the Filial Son (1850-1895)
Li became a paradigm of filial piety for his community in Nanjing by never leaving his mother's side - not once in all of his 45 years. From youth to his mid-thirties, his favorite place of comfort was underneath his mother's skirt. It is said, when she passed away, he was forcibly restrained from joining her in the coffin, which considering her ponderous bulk, would have been a near impossibility. The devoted son died the next day of heartache, or possibly, acute arterial blockage. 

Saint Wang the Noodle Maker (1850-1925)
Supercharged virility and a willing wife led Wang into a most difficult dilemma: how to feed a family that numbered 69 offspring. An intuitive farmer from Anhui Province, Wang ordered his sons to till the field while he made noodles in the kitchen. It is reported that poor Wang never took a break from his noodle making. During one 15-year period, he even spent 15 years making one noodle that his family consumed just as quickly as it was produced. 

Saint Zhen the Cheapskate (1850-1895)
Though Zhen earned a good living as a civil servant, it is a well-documented fact that he never spent a single cent. Bills and coins were deposited into false walls, paychecks would lie uncashed in a drawer. Virtually everything that Zhen needed was scavenged from dumpsters and the rest was obtained through the kindness of gullible tourists. Needless to say, he remained a morally upstanding citizen. 

Saint Dong the Dishwasher (1905-1990)
Dong took great joy in his standing position in the kitchen, where, starting at the young age of six, he remained tirelessly until his death at the age of 85. It is reported that Dong was locked in a near transcendental state as he continually washed one large platter. Apparently, he fell into a steady rhythm and with hand moving in circular fashion (suds and warm water were naturally used) is thought to be an inspiration for the popular Falun Gong sect now outlawed in mainland China. An emblem of dedication and commitment, the story of Dong inspires all of us to become more modest, and perhaps, seek less out of life. 

Saint Hsu the Scholar (1850-1925)
Living out the maxim that "education is everything", Hsu spent the better part of his years completing his final year of high school study. He was perpetually locked in preparations for the "Joint University Entrance Examination". According to Department of Education records, Hsu took this examination no less than 60 times, revealing a lifetime of dedication that spanned nearly the whole of his adult life. Hsu came just one question away from successfully completing this exam before his untimely death at age 76. Friends and associates marveled at his dedication, and his repetitious zeal. Still, others thought it would be better to abandon this pursuit for the sake of more profitable interests like taxi driving. 

Saint Lu the Livery (1850-1895)
Like all earnest young men, Lu from Southern Shandong Province had dreams of making it rich in the big city. He reputedly borrowed the sum of 300 yuan from a neighbor to purchase a pedicab that he would use to ferry goods and passengers throughout the city square. With the promise of financial gain and as much bicycle as a young man could buy with 300 yuan, Lu set off for the city. Little did he know that he would never pick up a passenger nor earn one red mao for the remainder of his 85 years. His misshapen face, rough disposition and lack of dental insurance kept many potential fares away form his pedicab. Still, despite the economic misfortune, Lu kept at his job and appeared in the city center every morning. Operating a pedicab did have its advantages as his community smile when they fondly remember Lu's angelic countenance in the midst of his mid-afternoon slumber. 

Saint Tse the Sentry (1905-1998)
In a little known commercial building in downtown Taipei, Tse faithfully kept watch over the front door for over 45 years. It is reported that he never left his post, choosing to sleep on cardboard boxes kept under his desk in evening hours and peeing into a large thermos when nature called. Even during his sleep, his hacking snore and fitful shaking was enough to keep unwelcome visitors and Mormons at bay. He lived modestly with only a few possessions including a 19" black and white television, tea cup and the clothes on his back. Tse was also passionate about Chinese calligraphy, which he practiced daily at his post. Yet, due to a shaky hand and nervous tick, he was never able to draw a straight line, nor complete a discernible character.

Saint Xiao Bao the Hungry (1905-1950)
A snail of a woman, Xiao Bao survived in Northern Shanxi for 45 years on a single mantou, or loaf of Chinese-style bread. According to legend, she practiced circular eating that at times did not preclude the consumption of her own excrement (well, not that there was much of it at any given time - a mere flake or two). Xiao Bao would lick a corner of the loaf which had yellowed over the years. On feast days, she might flick a piece between her thumbnail and forefinger. [ From You Think You're Hungry:The Lean Years of Northern China, as translated by Dave Rudusky]

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Apparently no one thinks this is funny but me. I asked my gf what she thought. She said, "I read the first one...did it get funnier?" Oh well, back to martial arts mayhem next entry.