Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Strange Days

Among my more enjoyable duties at this erratic work in progress newspaper (debut April 20) is a daily conference with two late 20something Chinese women responsible for a page with the working title "Weird China" - though that'll change.

The concept is simple and ripped from what will be the competition which has a popular page called China Scene, a collection of short offbeat stories culled from Chinese language papers and the Internet - many of dubious origin which involve freakish animals, wacky crooks, jilted lovers, medical oddities etc and some that are clearly urban myth.

"A naughty thief surnamed Liu in Guangdong was nabbed by police after his third foot got stuck in the window of a rare pets store where he was attempting to steal a minature unicorn for his bearded girlfriend who had dumped him ... " kinda sums it up. And with my previous work at Weekly World News behind me, I'm a natural.

The Weird China page editors, who I'll call X and Y, are almost painfully earnest about their mission and bring pages of notes and print outs in Chinese with candidate stories.

"What have we got today?" I asked yesterday.

"A cow," said X. "It jumped from the truck taking it to being killed for meat."

"Good for it," I said. "So what happened?"

"Authorities found it and shot it."

"Umm, no. No. Anything else?"

"Hero snake," Y said solemnly. Then she was silent, waiting expectantly for my verdict. X also looked hopeful. (Besides the cow story, I had recently killed several they thought were naturals, including one about a "man who was curious to see the gay person life. Then he meets the gay person who takes him to a hotel. He drink some wine and feel funny. Then he wake up and all his money is gone. He said he does not like the gay person life.")


"Okay. Hero snake," I replied. "That's good. Promising. What kind of snake? Where? Why is it a hero?"

"Hainan province." she replied. "It is very loyal and brave." Though the story reeked of myth - a boa that a man had rescued 11 years ago from a road injury has fought off burglars, rescued the man's son from a swift river current and returned 48 days to the man's home after he set it free because it was too big to feed ... A typical day for Lassie, sure. But a snake?

"I don't believe it," I told Y. She looked crestfallen. "But we'll run with it."

5 comments:

Matthew said...

This sounds like what I used to read in the Shenzhen Daily. Only difference is they called it "news."

john said...

What - They don't have BATBOY in China?

Peter said...

Hey - a paycheck is a paycheck, right? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Will your new paper publish an online edition?

Justin said...

Yes, there will be an online edition. Can't say when or what url yet.