Me and Chairman Mao
  Christmas phog!
Yes, by popular demand--that is, someone told someone else they liked it, and that person told me about it--it's another phog! (That's "photo blog," for those of you who have trouble remembering words that I have invented within the last month.)(Although really, it shouldn't be that hard to remember, since--as far as I know phog is the only word that I've made up in that time frame.)(Still, one new word a month isn't bad, I don't think. How many words have you created in the past thirty days?)

But, as ever, I digress. So back to the phog, which has a very apropos theme: Christmas, Beijing style. Needless to say, it's a little different. Not necessarily in a good way though, like, for example, duck Beijing style--that's "Peking Duck" for those of you stuck in the seventies--which is quite tasty compared to your standard American duck. And not just because it comes in burrito form here--well, Chinese burritos--but because it tastes better, too. Although, as you will see, there is definitely one way in which Christmas here is better. Much better …

Now, on to the phog!

Practice Makes Perfect
This is a stencil on the window in the lobby of our own Tower 13 here at Seasons Park, the Home of Tycoons. (No, I didn't Photoshop it.) It's almost perfect, as you can see. Almost. I'm guessing that maybe they don't see a lot of wreaths around here? Although really, I know they have bells: there's a whole big building called "The Bell Tower"--old building and bell, natch--not too far from here. Really, you'd think one of them would notice that the bells were upside down. Apparently not, though. Maybe the bows confused them?

A Very Merry McDonald's
Our local McDonald's. (Note the walk-through window in front. I've never used it because I think they only sell ice cream, which I don't normally eat when it's below freezing outside. But apparently Chinese people do--go figure.) It's a bit more festive than your local McDonald's, I'm guessing. In fact, every McDonald's in Beijing looks like this. So apparently, Ronald McDonald is not Jewish, just in case there was any confusion.

Santa Claws!
Yes, it's the Evil Santa I wrote about the other day, perched atop his icy Castle of Doom. You can go in, but you can never leave. The reindeers have to eat something, after all. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

Simba the Red-Bowed Lion
Here in China, Santa doesn't deal with wimpy, overweight reindeer during Christmas. No, he uses lions dressed up with festive red bows. Really, it just makes sense: the lions aren't quite as friendly, but no one messes with him. After all, when everyone in the world knows that you're cruising around with a whole sleigh full of expensive presents, you can never be too careful.

The Best Christmas Tree Ever, Part One
The Christmas "tree" in the center of the Mall at Oriental Plaza, one of the fanciest shopping places in Beijing. But why, you are no doubt asking, is it the Best Christmas Tree Ever (BCTE)? Not because it's big, shiny, and green, although that doesn't hurt. No, to find out why it's the BCTE, we have to get a bit closer …

The Best Christmas Tree Ever, Part Deux
Yes, this is why it was is the BCTE, and the one Christmas thing the Chinese now officially do better: the tree is made out of beer! And Heineken, no less. Really, what could be better? I mean, come January it's always a complete pain in the ass to get rid of the tree: you can't put it in the garbage, you can't burn it, and you can't just throw it in the backyard, so you end up paying some smug Boy Scout twenty bucks to get rid of it, knowing he probably just drives down the street a few blocks and throws it out onto the side of the road anyway. The Chinese way, disposal isn't a problem: you just have a New Year's Eve party. Come morning, the tree will be gone, I guarantee it. Sure it's a lot of empties, but that's the recycling guy's problem, not yours …

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a Christmas Tree.
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