Heaven Thread

January 29, 2010

It’s antenna, people!

This is what happens if you take the name of an object, translate each of the characters separately and pick the coolest sounding combination of translations you can find.

Wall Vaulting Buddha

January 25, 2010

Despite the fact that this sounds like a nickname for a Chinese track and field champion it’s actually the name of a famous dish: 佛跳牆, or, literally, “Buddha jump wall”. Basically it’s a couple dozen awesomely delicious things (including ham, abalone, shitake mushrooms, shark fin, quail eggs, etc.) slow cooked together for a while. The history (or legend?) claims that when this dish was originally served it had no name. But then these dudes were like, dude, this dish is totally flippin’ epic in fact if you were to cook it while Buddha himself was meditating next door he would vault over the walls of the monastery and nom on this here epic bowl of ambrosia.

Except that these guys were rich liberal arts majors so they did not just say that out loud they had to write a poem about it. The lines that the dish got its name from are

「壇啟葷香飄四鄰,佛聞棄禪跳牆來。」

They basically mean something like “the aromatic cooking smell spreads to four grottoes away, when a buddha smells it he will abandon the state of zen and come leaping over walls”. Technically it’s “four residential units measured by the level of governance immediately below that which is designated a ‘village’ in the Chinese governmental structure” instead of “four grottoes” and also, although the word for “buddha” is used it really should be translated to “monk” or “holy man”. But then again we’re established that accurate translation is not the goal of this blog.

What is important is that, two hundred years ago, there’s this dude in China who created a dish so delicious that in theory if it was to exist centuries before his time it would prevent a major religious figure from achieving nirvana and prevent one of the largest religions on the planet from really forming. That’s pretty darn epic there.

Actually, it’s almost 9000km long. Except that in Chinese the number that stands for “a whole heck of a lot” is “ten thousand” and ten thousand li (one of which is officially, as of now, 0.5km) basically means “really freakin’ long”. Therefore the Great Wall of China, the Ten Thousand Li Fortress, is actually an understatement. Not a common thing in Chinese names for awesome things.

So… when they were building the Great Wall of China it may have actually been the first time when humanity built something that exceeded the imagination of language, proving for the first time that engineering majors (or at least emperors with ten thousand slaves) are superior to liberal arts scholars.

Dragon Core

January 19, 2010

So the name of this Chinese made computer processor sounds like the final form of the final boss in a video game after you’ve striped away its outer defenses of steel and chrome to find a digital dragon god sleeping in the scraps and then techno-classical music plays as the background fades into abstract fractal patterns and they you get to have a hardcore shootout with the dragon in a super-abstract hi-tech simulation or something.

And that’s exactly what will happen twenty years later when China’s Dragon Core technology gives its government full reign over Earth’s infoorbit. Only you, that’s right, you, who have spent all your live living in cyberspace and surfing stupid web pages can jack in and do battle with the technofirewalls the Dragon Cores erected around freedom and happiness. Only you can free America from the grips of the ancient dragon god manifested as a subpar processor created using stolen Western technology!

Bonus fact: Did you know that Pentium basically means “five”? What kind of lame name is that?

Maybe it’s not fair to call crazy glue (or if you prefer the brand name, Krazy Glue) as an epic Chinese thing, but the picture is of a Chinese-manufactured version of crazy glue (named MAGPOW so you know it’s awesome) so I suppose it counts.

In Chinese, crazy glue is known as 萬能膠, where 膠 means glue and 萬能 means “capable of ten-thousand things”. Is that true? Let’s do some math: if we can find 100 things that crazy glue can work on then we can say that one capability or use of crazy glue would be gluing A to B. Since we have 100 things we can use for A and 100 for B the total number of gluing combinations is 100 times 100 or 10,000! Except gluing A to B is the same as B to A so maybe it’s more like 5,000. So we just need to find 200 things crazy glue works on and we’ll get something like 20,000 combinations, which is way more than advertised!

Math is also pretty epic.

Incomparable Paste

January 8, 2010

Otherwise translatable as Paste Without Comparison, Mopiko is actually a really awesome paste that relieves itching and swelling and stuff. And it has a name that reminiscent of long lost artifacts of great power. Isn’t modern medicine amazing in that you can get this powerful magic item for less than five dollars at your local Asian market?

Notice that I do not actually make fun of medicinal products that actually do what they claim to do. As for Mopiko, well I haven’t actually found anything quite like it for itch relief so I guess it is kind of incomparable.

Also, a note: posting frequency will drop by a bit since my vacation is over, so no more daily posts from now on.

That translation is actually somewhat off. It’s just the most ridiculous sounding thing you can get from this product name. In reality it should more be like Lumberjack’s Oil of Bloodboiling.

It is clear that if the oil is good enough to get a lumberjack going it’s good enough for you. Sadly I cannot read the various poetry and wild claims on the box. If I ever encounter a better picture or a real box I’ll totally update this.

Of note: the dude who is on the box is not a lumberjack. He is the dude who manufactures and probably invented this oil. His name is Wong the Sincere and Loyal. How can you not trust a bottle of medicine from a dude named Sincere and Loyal?

(Picture from Eric So on tom.com.)

Also known to Americans as Batman Returns.

Okay, there’s so much to say about Batman. There will in fact be a cycle of posts on how Batman is marketed to Chinese culture. But Wing, you ask, isn’t Batman not Chinese? Why is he in the blog of Epic Chinese Things?

That’s because Chinese culture tends to take epic things from the outside world and somehow, especially linguistically, make them (sound) more epic. We did it with Freemasonry (look for future posts on this) and we can do it with Batman. Think about it, which movie title is more awesome and befitting of a classic tale about the baddest asswhooping hero from Gotham: Batman Returns? Or Batman’s Great Display of Divine Glory?

Batman Returns was marketed as 蝙蝠俠大顯神威 in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The name translates directly to The Heroic Bat (蝙蝠俠, which is the official translation for Batman) and the phrase/subtitle “great display of divine glory” (大顯神威). Perhaps due to polytheistic origins and a culture of hyperbole the phrase 神威, which translates to “divine glory” or “godly might” or “holy crap that’s awesome”, gets tossed around a lot. Pretty much anything from a sweet 40 hit combo in a fighting game to Batman beating the crap out of the Penguin gets labeled as godly or divine.

As far as I can tell the movie was called 蝙蝠俠再戰風雲 in mainland China, which can be loosely translated to The Turbulent Tale of Batman’s Second Battle or Batman Once Again Wars Against The World. Properly capturing the epicness of the phrase “風雲” as a noun in English is rather hard for me at this point; I welcome suggestions.

Orthodox Black Ghost Oil

January 4, 2010

This is a bottle of orthodox (or real) black ghost oil—-except that it’s really a bootleg since the genuine one says “original package” instead of “real”.

Those of you with a passing familiarity of Chinese slang would know that black ghost means nigger in Chinese. That’s right, guys, there is a chiropractic product sold in East Asia called Nigger Oil. And it’s such a common item that there are bootleg nigger oils. Seriously.

The real Singapore Golden Black Ghost Oil has a colored portrait of the South Asian looking gentleman on the cover and you can clearly see that he is black; also there are words next to the portrait saying that you can identify real golden black ghost oil by the portrait of said black gentleman.

Even more baffling: the poem on the cover of this box (reproduced from the real, genuine box) reads “Genuine, orthodox merchandise; will replace for free if it’s fake; always keep a bottle in your home and with you to ensure eternal safety”.

I forgot if this post is a commentary on racism or piracy. I guess I’ll stop now.

Oh, yeah, I don’t actually know what this is for specifically. I think it’s one of those generic random if you rub it on some aching bones it will become better kind of medicine.

(Picture from Eric So on tom.com.)

It’s a bottle of pain relievers. Its active ingredient is acetaminophen.