Friday, June 30, 2006

Saying Hello to the Colonel

So, back to Luodong's delightful wedding photo industry.

As mentioned earlier, I was a giant among men, sadly for nothing but genetic factors. While Ariel's selection of dresses was narrowed down to 20 or so potentials [if you counted the variety of princess dresses that would be gaudy in whatever context they were in], my choices were even slimmer. While Ariel got to narrow down choices and make the best selections of a less than ideal grouping, I was inevitably forced to choose the lesser of two evils. It's very rare that I've had the opportunity to select clothing on the basis of what is the least ugly but it certainly is an experience. Adding to hilarity of the wardrobe situation was the photographer's assistant who was made my de facto fashion consultant. While this young woman was very sweet and well intentioned, she should stay clear of work in anything related to fashion in the future. Despite my pleas of "No, I will under no circumstances wear a hot plum suit." She, without fail, would come bounding down to the dressing area carrying an outfit that the greater portion of pimps in the Chicago metro land area would blush at. Only after some minor grappling and repetitions of the mantra, "No, these things do not go together. In fact, they don't match at all." I was usually able to construct a passable outfit from my limited offerings. One thing that struck me about their offerings was the total lack of bowties. Despite having countless offerings of tuxedos, there was nary a bow tie to be found to put on the shirts. Although my helper continuously insisted that a traditional western necktie was suitable for that style of shirt, I was never convinced. Despite this lack of bowties, they did have accessories that can be generally classified into two categories: the first, the D'Artagnan (or Errol Flynn), a delightfully poofy neck covering that resembled a pile of carefully wadded up tissues that only elicited my desire to accentuated my "Arrrrrr" sounds. The second option was the Colonel Sanders, a delightful short tie that had a tasteful stud in the middle and, once on, made me crave mint juleps. In a delightful coincidence our lunch that afternoon included fried chicken, I took it as a sign and did my best to emulate Foghorn Leghorn with a smattering of "I do say sir"(s).

Despite these less than ideal clothing options, the experience was definitely worth it. Probably the best way to describe is bizarre. In some ways, the whole experience reeks of those "Ole' West" photo shoots but in others, its a great deal more personal than a number of traditional western wedding photographs. Whereas the focus of traditional wedding photography in the states closely elides the ceremony with the individual participants, this series, through the highly artificial dress-up nature of it, really places the focus on the couple. The experience is not about the fairy tale aspect of the settings or the clothing [in fact, I consistently found myself trying to imagine ways out of the clothing] but rather on the playful nature of the couple themselves. This is not to say that I'm rearing to set up another appointment, just that I'm glad I got over my initial dismissive attitude towards the seemingly plastic nature of many of the photos.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Signs of Life

So after a numerous visits by several esteemed family members and friends, my already questionable blogging patterns were thrown into a bit of a tizzy. I apologize to all of those that have still try to follow the narrative thread of my time here without any information from this end. It's my hope that rather than worry or be dismayed by my lack of contact, you spun whimsical tales that related my involvement fantastic creatures like Griffins and epic quests that determined the fate of the known universe. If you'd like to think that I was occupied with that for the past month and a half... feel free to, it may provide a bit more cohesion to that seemingly lost time. Looking back at my last post I realize that quite a lot occurred in the past month or so. To begin:

-Family members and future in-laws [ yes, it does feel a little strange to write that, I personally prefer the Chinese while implies that they are the family that I am preparing to join] are wonderful people who should be thanked profusely for a number of reasons. One, taking the time an effort to raise you instead of abandoning you on any one of the number of suitable hillsides throughout the USA. Two, consistently supporting your efforts despite harboring reservations about your varied life decisions. [Ariel and I still wonder about how we ever ended up on the ship, the Quest, with pseudo-missionaries.] Three, willingly coming to Taiwan, in summer no less, to see us and try to get a better understanding of what it is we're doing here. In short, thanks, I do not tell you all that enough.

-In an attempt to maintain narrative cohesion with the last post, I will briefly turn back to the Dragon Boat results. After our weeks of training, Shida managed to get 4th in the men's division of the Taibei International Invitational Tournament. On our high from winning that tournament, and the karaoke party in celebration from which I will be forever cemented into my team members minds for my affinity for A-ha, we headed off to the next tournament, the Xindian Speaker Cup. After a few short races over two days primarily composed of waiting, we emerged as the mixed division champions. Not too shabby for a team that started as a truly multi-cultural Dirty Dozen.

-Wedding photos... I can say definitively that this is an entirely different industry here. While Ariel has gone at length about her experiences on that day, mine were markedly different. First, by Taiwan's standards, I am a very large person. Now I am by no means a giant but I will be the first one to point out that this country was not designed with persons of my stature in mind. While this is just a mild inconvenience at most times, I must admit that I felt like Gulliver among the Lilliputians while I was at the wedding gallery.....

More to come soon.