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Why hello thar, lovely humans.

You thought I fell of the off the edge of the earth, huh? You thought I turned my back on all things bloggy and skipped off into the ether, leaving a trail of hanzi in my wake. Nope. Still here. Still alive and kicking, still in Beijing. Perhaps you will excuse my absence if I let you in on the reason for my LOA: I’ve been holed up working on a whole new Chinese Reading Practice.

This site design, as you may have noticed, is a shambling, mummified fossil, and looks horrific on mobile devices. Opening it gives me the sadz. And as I do not like having the sadz, I decided it was time for a refresh.

Plus, I keep opening these emails from you guys demanding more, more, more posts. Truth is, I can’t afford to devote the time to writing those posts unless I’m charging a little bit for it. I’m a freelancer, every time I update CRP, it eats into my billable hours.

On the other hand, I kind of love that CRP is a free resource for casual learners. My favorite thing about the internet is that it represents so much collective good will. You ever heard that term, “cognitive surplus”? Neither had I, until I watched this rad talk by Professor Clay Shirky. In it, Shirky basically defines “cognitive surplus” as the way we use our mental downtime. Look at Wikipedia, right? Most of the contributors to Wikipedia are volunteers. They use their mental downtime – their cognitive surplus – to edit articles about like, the lifecycle of jellyfish and the population of Singapore. They get nothing tangible out of this, so why do they do it? What is the root of that compulsion? I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know that that’s the spirit of the digital age. I have some pretty strong feelings about how important it is that we use some of our cognitive surplus to help educate each other. So I’m not really comfortable making CRP entirely pay-to-play.

That being the case, I’m gonna do a little experiment here. I’m gonna try to do both. The new CRP shall feature a new free post every darn week for you Sunday-morning-over-coffee readers. There shall also be reasonably-priced memberships for you Chinese reading diehards, with a member’s library and new Member’s Only posts daily. We’ll see how that pans out.

I’m looking at a Feb 27, 2017 launch date, or thereabouts. Until then, enjoy the archive here, and 加油, my friends.

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Yayzors, horsies.

I know that when you first start reading, it’s hard to hold a narrative thread through a longer post, but give this one a try – 6 short paragraphs, all of them very straightforward. This one has mostly very beginner language, with a couple of intermediate or upper-intermediate words. The grammar, rather than the vocab, is probably the hard part of this post, which is an great survey of every basic Chinese sentence structure. If you can read this, your foundation in Chinese grammar is very solid.

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Dr. Martens Women s 1461 Virginia Martens Oxford Black Virginia Black 3d149eb
28Apr, 2016
Modern Chinese Poetry: Rainy Alley by Dai Wangshu Dr. Martens Women s 1461 Virginia Martens Oxford Black Virginia Black 3d149eb

Hey guys. Been a while. I’m studying Chinese IRL, so I’ve got less reason to focus on the blog, but I have been getting all the letters – thank you all. I’ve also received two guest posts that I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t put up yet. Apologies, it may be a while, but they’re coming. Right, on with the poetry.

Kinda kills me how little information is available on the modern Chinese writers, you know? A few of the most famous works have been translated, but most have only cursory mentions. Even the Wikipedia pages don’t have nearly the amount of content that the Chinese encyclopedias offer. Dai Wangshu, for example, is relatively unknown in the west. So who is this guy?

Dai Wangshu (戴望舒) was a famously-depressed modern Chinese symbolist poet, born in 1905, died from an accidental overdose of asthma medication in 1950 – asthma which he contracted when he was thrown in jail by the Japanese for advocating revolution. Seriously, this guy spent his entire life having the sadz. He threatened to kill himself a couple of times, once to force his girlfriend to marry him (she agreed, but then ran off with a refrigerator salesman, cuz I guess refrigerators were a big deal at the time), and once when his first wife fell in love with another man and asked for a divorce.

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Feels like it’s been a hundred years since I threw something up here. Rest assured I carry the shame of an un-updated blog around with me constantly, so – yay, guilt. I’m actually taking intensive classes in Chinese (yet again) to push my reading level higher, hence the lack of posts. I’m more active on here when I’m not studying anywhere else. Anyhoo, this is another one I nabbed from Sina user Zifengling’s personal blog. I tried to convince myself that this was beginner, but I just couldn’t. The words are mostly OK, but there are one too many wibble-wobbly sentence configurations.

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