Super English Force

Diverchok. Snow White's Favorite

An unfortunately blurry shot of a Spanish cookie in Wan Chai. Who do I know its from Spain? Says so right there! And Diverchok sounds so spanish, yes? Or should I say Si

I’m guessing Diverchok is an attempt at mashing ‘diverse’ with ‘choc’, which is a common term for chocolate (outside the US). Still its not the most appetizing of names, a rather sharp edged word in contrast to eternally soft-focused Snow and her lil’ birdy companion. Just can’t see her in a glade surrounded by songbirds, extolling the joys of diverchok in dulcet tones...

diverchok snow white
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AmericanSoft - We Love Soft Green Tea Cookies

A cookie from Japan. A few choice nuggets here - first the name is truly inspired. I can only imagine they are referring to those disquieting ‘soft-baked’ cookies from Pepperidge Farm(?), that have a shelf life of twelve years and maintain their ‘softness’ throughout. Who knows what preservatives/embalming fluids they use to accomplish that. Also these are green tea flavored cookies; while chocolate and green tea is actually quite popular in Japan (and tastes great actually), I would venture that the vast majority of Americans are a) unaware that green tea exists, and b) would never intentionally eat green tea-flavored cookies, no matter how gooey soft they may be. Unless forced to of course, say while trapped in a Japanese import store during one of those increasingly popular zombie outbreaks…

americansoft
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Make the Fun Girls Invented Booty Roller Squad From Onaland Insweat

Make the Fun Girls Invented Booty Roller Squad From Onaland Insweat. But of course...

makethefun
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Pearly Gates - Master Bunny Edition

From the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay. Pearly Gates is a Japanese golf clothing brand; of course to Westerners the term refers to the gates to heaven, so I’m honestly not sure what they’re trying for with name. Golf wear fit for heaven? Or golf wear that will smite you down and send you there? But the odd brand name is surpassed by their latest rollout (hard to read but on the golf bag): ‘Master Bunny Edition’.

masterbunnygates

I’m usually wary of using the now hackneyed expression, but its apropos here. WTF? What do bunnies have to do with golf? Was ‘master edition’ too straightforward somehow? “We’re named pearly gates, we have to make it sound odd - how about master bunny?”
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The Fashion Trough is Actuality, Not Novelty

A definite keeper from my brother Matt, this one from Croatia. Always good to be reminded that brutalizing English is a global pastime. “The fashion trough” is a particularly memorable concept if nothing else.

fashiontrough

Also its creator had a go at brutalizing English grammar as well, and to devastating effect: ’The fashion trough the spo(rt) is actuality it’is not’ a. novelty that is sport.’ Number 10. You know I never thought of it that way...
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Sunderball, Decorative Light for Tomorrow

An unfortunately rushed, blurry shot of a toy in Wanchai. The owner had your typical hypocritical reaction to photographing in his knockoff laden store, i.e. ‘How dare you take pictures of my illegal copyright violations! You insult all of China!” Needless to say I don’t’ think this product is actually a knockoff. Also I don’t see any self respecting company suing to protect the rights to ‘SUNDERBALL, decorative light for tomorrow’…

sunderball1

sunderball2

Yes in the future, all decorative lighting will consist of science experiment plasma globes like this one. Nobody will get any work done of course, as they will be too entranced by the mesmerizing dance between lightning and flesh. And the lights will have names that have absolutely nothing to do with lighting–or sundering
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She Loves SUITS

A woman’s business attire retailer in Sapporo. I suppose the name is straightforward enough, but that’s not a phrase you’ll hear every day, if ever. “Yeah one thing about the wife. She loves suits.” Have to say the magenta mannequin doesn’t exactly work for me either, though compared to some mannequins its rather tame. Far better than the headless/mutilated variety, or those with heads like anvils (and yes I’ve seen an anvil-headed mannequin). I suppose the only question here is how much she actually loves them. Is she willing to die for suits? To kill for them if necessary? I pray we never have to find out…

shelovessuits
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Arrogant - We Are the Good Child

From a goody bag in Hong Kong. Unfortunately the rest of the image didn’t turn out, but theres a cute lil’ anime teddy bear waving below and to the left. I’m assuming he’s ‘Arrogant’; a rather odd choice for an aspiring kiddy icon. The surreal juxtaposition of his namesake and the ‘we are the good child’ tagline guaranteed inclusion here, but I was also struck by the choice of font. It’s none other than Disney’s ‘Walt signature’ which adorns a ton of Disney packaging and advertising, especially for golden agers like Mickey. Why you’d pick that font for anything is beyond me, but then again I don’t name teddy bears Arrogant

arrogant
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Vessel in the Strawberry Fog

A candy bar from Japan. Apparently this is a ‘reissue’ of a product popular in the 80s. Its suffused with air bubbles, which make it especially smooth and ‘airy’. Perhaps the fog is trapped within?

vesselinthefog

No one seems to know where the ominous sounding name comes from, however. Or why a strawberry version would be appropriate. Perhaps undead pirates need a pick me up before they ride said fog into shore to wreak revenge on the living, and some of them have chocolate allergies. Which would really suck if you were an undead pirate…
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Mr. Smoky - For Men with Good Taste

A fine coffee from our friends at ‘Fire’ in Japan. Nothing hits the spot on a cold Hokkaido morning quite like a hot can of Mr. Smoky. Its smoked coffee for men with good taste, like myself. Its also ‘the coffee with deep aroma’. Deep smoky aroma, not like those other brands with their ‘shallow moist’ aroma. And that’s MIster Smoky to you, pal…

mr.smoky
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Potato Boy is Zyagatakun

From our hotel in Niseko in Hokkaido Japan, home to some of the best skiing in the world, or so I’m told. Unfortunately I pulled my quad first day out. Still, my wife and daughters enjoyed the deep powder, which really was remarkable. Anyway Hokkaido is known for its excellent milk all across Asia, but in Japan its also famed for its potatoes. So it comes as no surprise then that the local mascot is a skiing potato, which I admit is preferable to a skiing dairy cow. He is a ‘zyagatakun’ which I’m guessing translates loosely as ‘local specialty character’. Mangled grammar notwithstanding–‘So,It’ s’ very Popular character – the fact remains he is very popular. They have a fireman version on the local firehouse, and Potato Boy graces street signs and tourist kitsch all over town. And in the interest of full disclosure, he did his job; at the end of our trip, I bought that t-shirt…

potatoboy
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Enigmatic Fabric No. C555 Contains ‘Fabric'

From a high end clothier in Sapporo Japan. Not made in Canton of course, which is probably for the better. Canton isn’t exactly famous as a fashion hub, even for overalls (that would be Topeka). Actually outside of the NFL hall of fame, there’s really nothing to recommend it, or Ohio for that matter. But I digress. This is the official signage that greets passerby:

fabriccontaining

Organic cotton, check. Carefully selected (for) quality and production region, check. But best of all, the enigmatically named ‘Fabric No. C555’ contains fabric, the most important thing discriminating shoppers look for in a… fabric.
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SBooBS - Break My Trickeries!

A pencil sharpener from a newish Taiwanese company. The name is supposed to be ‘SB-BS’ with an infinity loop between the letters. I’m afraid to most native English speakers it reads “sboobs’ however. I don’t think I need to go into why that doesn’t work well (unless you’re selling boob joke paraphernalia). The tagline break my trickeries is more than adequate for inclusion here, but out of morbid curiosity I looked these guys up, and turns out they have a whole slew of ‘office revenge’ products. SB is supposed to be ‘stab back’ and BS ‘backstabber’, so the infinity loop means to retaliate somehow(?). This particular device is supposed allow you to pretend to shove a pencil down the office gossip’s throat while sharpening said pencil. The package also warns you not to use it as food or sports equipment…

breakmytrickeries

Their website has this helpful blurb and diagram that explains it far better (or more colorfully) than I can. “So many trickeries in my head! Sharpen your pencil as hard as you are smashing all the bad ideas! When the pieces come out of my mouth, all fortune will come to you!” The diagram shows the bad luck going in and good luck coming out, and its got a ‘piquant degree’ of 5 stars, which I’m guessing means its pretty hot?

breaktrickeries1

They have a bunch of other anger management tools in their stable, which I’ll save for later post. I’ll include this pencil sharpener that drives the point home far more graphically–hey I made a pun!

backstabber1
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Rise to Coma Fortunate

A t-shirt in Causeway Bay. As a rule I generally don’t take shots of people without asking first (which I rarely do anyway), but this one was too bewildering to pass up. And she helpfully stood still for a full minute while I struggled to find my iPhone and take this admittedly poor shot.

comafortunate coma-icon

First off there’s the utterly incongruous laundry recommendation icons across the top. What do they possibly have to do with comas? Are they to help the nursing staff when they launder it? And the tagline: rise to (a) coma fortunately? Is there anything fortunate about a coma? Not to be overly morbid, but the only thing less fortunate is dying. Though I suppose you do have a slim chance to wake up from a coma at least, so there’s that. Maybe she’s just an extraordinarily positive person…
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Cheesy Opera & Double Layers Indulgence

Yet another bizarre (though admittedly tame by their standards) local Pizza Hut abomination. Of course to American ears cheesy is slang for ‘unsubtle, and/or inauthentic’. Needless to say it’s not the ideal term for selling anything, even in the context of pizza and/or toppings. And speaking of toppings, this latest atrocity has ‘double layers indulgence’–an entire pizza mashed onto another, then loaded down with salami and scallops. The traditional repast of opera patrons everywhere apparently. Well, those and cheap mozzarella cheese, and the more the better! I especially love the scallop shell arrangement on the left. Very elegant, very… operatic? Now if I can just figure out a way to smuggle this double layered indulgence into the next performance of ‘Carmen’…

cheesyopera
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Frost Bag & Bearing the Thought of Being Alone

A Japanese gift bag(?) from Wanchai. Not sure what ‘frost’ has to do with it, though I’m assuming it’s referring to the doily and lace imprints. It’s not exactly freezer ready/food storage material…

frostbag

Regardless the more unsettling aspect is the blurb lining the bag itself. I understand the ‘lost in translation’ aspect of this–Hell I have an entire category devoted to them. But this has got to be the creepiest, most desperate copy I think I’ve ever come across. “I can’t bear the thought of being alone?” Who wants a gift with that written on it? Or more to the point, who’d want to hang out with someone who gave them this? Perhaps you wouldn’t be alone all the time if you chose better gift bags. A start at least. Just saying…
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Pants Story vs. Cardigan Tale

A newish clothing store in Wanchai(?). Ironically no pants were actually on display–if you’re going to tease me with stories about pants, at least have some in your window…

pantsstory

I entered hoping for some truly epic tales, perhaps about the birth of corduroy (the “Cord of Kings”), or an ‘up-from-your-bootstraps’ morality play about blue jeans. Unfortunately I was greeted by stacks of staid cardigans and bland pullovers. Cardigans generally don’t have a lot of stories to tell (outside of the occasional dark family secret or two; Uncle Jimmy’s not really your uncle, I gambled your inheritance away years ago, etc). But I suppose ‘Cardigan Tale’ doesn’t pack the urbanesque fashion punch of ‘Pants Story’...
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Wbreze is SO Champagne

A t-shirt in Mongkok. Have to admit I agree with the sentiment: wbreze is so champagne. One of those obvious points that so often gets overlooked in our hustle-bustle modern age, when time just wbrezes by. Actually the best feature of this shirt is the random letters that form the word cloud around the ‘SO’. Oh and the built in collar and shirt tails are straight champagne…

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Manly Fashion Socks

From an ‘everything’ store in Wanchai. Unfortunately these are not: a) manly, b) fashionable, or c) socks. OK technically they’re socks but look at them! They look like they’re made of surgical paper tape. Like the barest legal definition of socks. I bet the octagenerians who buy them have no illusions about manliness or fashion quotient. Just toss them on the counter and be done with it. Its not like he’s thinking “The retirement center’s in for a real show now. Just wait ’til I lean out over my walker and expose my manly, fashionably swathed calves. Hellooo ladies…”

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Mega Mop (mini version) with Turbo Jet Propulsion

From a nearby domestic supply store. Seems the Mega Mop (mini version) is a big (small) seller. The wonderful juxtaposition of a mega/mini notwithstanding, this product also warranted inclusion here due to its unique power source. It is apparently able to harness the ‘theorem of Turbo Jet Propulsion to accelerate the spinning of gear/pinion’(note the handy embedded illustration of said gear).



One can only hope that the Mega Mop (mini version) doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. One shudders to think what that theorem could be applied to, and what havoc one could wreak with a turbo jet pro pulsed miniaturized mop and an agenda. Domestic terrorism indeed…
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Fuel Britannia

Just a quick post. The phrase ‘rule britannia’ doesn’t resonate with Americans of course, but I have to give the lads at Weetabix credit for a painful if effective pun. Now if they could just make their products edible...

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Fun TV Dongle

An admittedly poor shot of a bus-side ad, but in my defense it was moving away at the time. Apparently the dongle in question is an Android USB add-on (or something). Suffice it to say the name leaves a great deal to be desired - it sounds vaguely sexual, like an outdated Brit term for male genitalia. I suppose they were referencing dangle? But it doesn’t dangle, not that I can see anyway. But far worse it calls to mind the infamous term’ dingle berry’ - one would think anything close to ‘balls of fur-covered feces (or faeces as the Brits spell it) stuck to butt fur’ would be avoided at all costs…

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Salmon-Chanted Evenings

A poster for a Seattle based charity started by a famous local chef and his restaurant suppliers, in which they are prepare a high end picnic dinner of salmon and other local delicacies in a picturesque local park. All the proceeds go to help the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. A great idea and a great cause, but goddamn what a cringe-inducing pun. I guess its effective in its way however - definitely eye catching and memorable, whether you want to remember or not. Like an insidious ‘ear worm’ pop song that you can’t forget; even attempting to purge it invariably renews the memory, and initiates the torturous looping in your head. And puns this bad are volatile, capable of spreading throughout a population overnight. In fact police reported dozens of cases of addled pedestrians grabbing innocent passers by, bursting into song and crooning ’salmon-enchanted evening, you may be a salmon, you may see a salmon cross a crowded brook”…

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Blue Hair - We Provide with Good English Services

A twofer in Wanchai. Not only a great name for a hair salon - assuming your clientele composed of aged matrons who go in for the ‘blue hair’ affect of course (and the occasional Katy Perry wannabe too I suppose). But its also a striking example of almost surreally poor advertising.

First, the name. The ‘blue hair’ phenomena is one I’ve never understood btw; in fact in the US its become slang for the poor, mostly white older women who actually get the treatment. But how does making your gray/white hair blue make it somehow more attractive, or draw less attention to it? It’s like a cruel joke perpetuated by a fashion color theorist, insisting that a blue tinge somehow makes white hair look more dignified or pleasantly contrasting.



Fortunately the folks at blue hair are happy to answer such questions, especially those in English. Note to proprietor: if you are going to advertise your superior English services, at least get the grammar on your signage correct…
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Goldenrukkai Mowhawk of NY

A t-shirt for sale in Wanchai. There are a ton of faux Abercrombie tees here, as well as a disquieting number of real ones. I personally have never cared for the entire ‘walking billboard/free advertising’ aspect of such things, but oh well. Regardless this one is truly inspired, if for no other reason than for the debut the newly minted mystery word Goldenrukkai

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Bear Beer. OK This is Too Easy

A new(?) beer in 7-11. Always wondered what beer bears drink? Well now you know. Didn’t’ know there were any bears in Hong Kong. Must be Canadian.

Apparently they aren’t held to the infamous 7-11 ’no shirt no shoes no service’ code that we humans are - though I think that’s enforced more in North America than here in HK.

Then again who’s going to bring that up to a bear? He’s probably already had a bad day, and tapping his shoulder and saying excuse me sir you’re not wearing shoes or a shirt (or pants for that matter) will only turn out badly. Just politely smile, take his money and let him be on his way.

Any of those f**king porcupines come acting like they own the place, though….

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Bo Bo Good Shoes

A shoe outlet in the Wanchai market near the MTR. Not much to add here, but I will give them credit - the name is memorable if nothing else. Would make for a catchy jingle too…

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Even You Will be Dandled by Peek-A-Boo-Zoo

A rather innocuous toy from Wan Chai. The toys themselves are rather boring, typical Hell O’Kitty knockoffs. At least they’re available in more than just ‘Cat’, as you can choose from ‘Sheep, Bear and Rabit’. One hopes rabit is not a combo of rabid and rabbit.



Anyway the bit that really caught my wandering eye was the package copy:

‘Babies love to be dandled(?) with Peek-A-Boo. Not only babies, even you will be delighted with the actions.

Thats right, even you will be ‘dandled’ with delight, which sounds vaguely perverse. And last but not least the mysterious kicker: ‘Contains two songs’…
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Denimholic

A Japanese fashion magazine(?) from HK airport. Apparently one can have too much exposure to high end jeans and skirts. Seems this poor soul is no exception, the unlikely but telling face of addiction. A tantalizing fabric indeed: so egalitarian yet elite, so casual yet couture, so cruel…

You see more and more of these forlorn beauties on the streets of Tokyo, their vulnerable anime eyes staring off into space, chewing their once immaculate manicures to the nub, in search of just one more hit of pricey denim…

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Crookers w/ Style of Eye & The Heavy

A concert poster from Lisbon. I was devastated to find that I just missed the Crookers (not to be confused with those wannabe poseurs The Crooks). To say nothing of the warm up band, Style of Eye.

I also missed Gentleman, who were *finally* joining forces with The Heavy (not sure if they mean the movie villain archetype or just something that weighs a lot), and seasoned vets Pow Pow Movement.

It seems the global trend of brutalizing English words and/or American slang continues unabated, even in places that should know better, like Portugal. And this despite actual fines; apparently in France you must now pay a substantial fine to the Ministry of Culture for using English words instead of French in any advertising. Sacred Blue!

Ironically the best name out of the bunch is the hardest to see - Like the Man Said, in the lower left corner. I’d pay serious euros to see them. It would also give me a chance to get rid of my soon-to-be worthless euros, but I digress…

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The Charity for Especially Difficult Children

From the Hanoi Airport a few months back. Seems someone has finally established a charity to help those parents suffering from especially difficult children. I didn’t know obnoxious ingrate brats were such a problem in Vietnam. Perhaps its a charity that allows the Vietnamese to help out their less fortunate American counterparts…



(And for the record - yes I realize this is a well-intentioned charity for disadvantaged kids, and yes I did donate to the charity box. Just can’t pass up a title like that. Kudos to Grandma Jackie for spotting this)
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Mandarin-Peel w/ Snake's Gall Juice - The Best Choice Souvenir

If you’re ever in Hong Kong, be sure to pick up some mandarin-peel w/ snake’s gall juice, an authentic local favorite, and the ‘best choice of hong kong souvenir’. Yep can’t walk ten feet without tripping over someone convulsing on the sidewalk, purplish froth drooling out between clenched teeth. Good for rebalancing the Qi apparently. And just look at that shiny comet underline - Its got to be the best!

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Sichuan Saliva Chicken

I think this speaks for itself; no need to dwell on what and/or whose saliva. That its listed under ‘appetizers’ makes it even more poignant. Unappetizers perhaps?

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Happy Birthday from Your Evil Skeleton Pals

Another freakish card from Xue Hwa. One of those instances where the Mainland manufacturer must have slapped whatever image they had handy behind the text and said “Run that mother! We’ve got a quota to hit!” Can’t imagine who would want and/or appreciate a gaggle of evil glowing-eyed skeletons wishing them a happy b-day. Still the grim reaper guy is waving at least, and the bats are flying in a loose ‘happy birthday-ish’ formation...

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Chocoseum - Mona Lisa's Smile in Stamped Chocolate

A surreal brand of cookies from South Korea. Just the thing to satisfy one’s all-too-common craving for small chocolate biscuit cookies stamped to resemble famous iconic paintings. In fact just writing about it makes me want to visit the ‘Chocoseum’ post-haste! I wonder if they have Munch’s ‘The Scream’...

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Have Very Strong Power to Run in Water and Land is Very Easy

A throwaway post-xmas offering. Another toy from the same store as super copter alloy helicopter. A bit hard to read unfortunately. Seems that the ‘RC’ has full functions: stop, back up, advance, right and left turn (nice of them to include the left option). And just look at those tires! I wonder if they’re made of super copter alloy adapted for terrestrial usage. Regardless, its strongest powers are to ‘run in water, and land is very easy also’ as well...

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Good + Good = 2 Goods = Double Plus Good?

A tourist trap t-shirt merchant near the Ladies Market, no doubt stocked with the usual ‘Lost in Hong Kong’ and ‘Bruce Lee is my Homeboy’ selections. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your sense of taste and/or irony) the classic American ‘My [insert relative] went to Hong Kong and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ was not visible from the street. And ‘have a nice tee’ is certainly a clever if ill-fitting tagline. Oh well, at least they’re doing their small part to educate shoppers on tried and true mercantile skills like basic arithmetic. Or maybe it’s a clever Orwellian reference, a nod ‘Double Plus Good’ from 1984? Or not.

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Super Copter Alloy

A remote controlled copter for sale in Mongkok. Rather boring to be honest, not much to look at. But wait, its made out of ‘super copter alloy’! Stronger than titanium, lighter than spider silk! Why, its well nigh indestructible! Better snap this up before the various government and military players descend on the store to confiscate it...

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Elvis Whoppie Twist vs. Red Velvet Whoppie Pie

A new (and unfortunately hard to read) Starbucks offering, the Elvis Whoppie Twist. Don’t know if a ‘whoppie’ is a traditional British item, but pairing Elvis with anything will surely kick it up a notch, no? I assume the twist is a reference to his famed hip gyrations? He didn’t sing ‘The Twist’ though, did he? I think that was Fats Domino.



Anyway, assuming they go for authenticity, it should be basketball-sized and feed 15+ people just like Elvis’ favorite sandwich, the infamous ‘Mile High Sandwich’ (officially called the ‘Fool's Gold Loaf’). For those of who unschooled in Elvis lore, this consists of a 4-pound loaf of hollowed-out buttered white bread filled with peanut butter, grape jelly, and burnt bacon. It is then deep-fried for good measure. It would serve 4-20 mortals - or one Elvis.

Of course if you’re looking for a more appropriately sized whoppie to tide you over, there’s always the Red Velvet Whoppie Pie (a remarkable name in its own right)...



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Ice Means Jewellery, Oream Means Cash

A hoodie for sale in Wanchai. Not sure what ‘oream’ is - I assume that’s supposed to be ‘cream’? Not that that would make sense either. I had to snap this photo rather hurriedly, as knock-off stores such as this ironically don’t take kindly to people taking pictures of their copyright violations. I’m assuming this is supposed to be funny in a hip-hopster way? Can’t say that I’m up on my hip hop phraseology, but ‘ice means jewellery, cream means cash’ certainly sounds like your typical tepid faux gansta cliche.

Anyway the last line says ‘the two things which make the’. And that’s it. Make the what exactly? Make the native English speakers snicker? Or maybe I’m completely naive, and ice oream really does make the...

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Greatest Falafel On Earth - Best Gyro Ever!

In case you were wondering where the greatest falafel on Earth resides, or the best gyro ever. That means since the dawn of time, or gyros at least, which is apparently a long time indeed, judging by the featured Egyptian nobility.

Anyway turns out it’s not in Lebanon or Greece (or Egypt), but in a small side street cafe in Seattle. Who knew? Also who knew that the ancient Egyptians enjoyed falafel and gyros? Or baklava? So when in Seattle, just look for the kissin’ camels. And remember, that’s ‘Zaina’ for food, drinks, and friends... AND THE BEST GYRO EVER!

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1 Clip Attack # - No Pain No Game?!

A truly freakish ad for a jeans/fashion company. Unless they extensively photoshopped this shot, those really are clips all over his face. Which leaves one to wonder: what the hell are they thinking?! What has this got to do even remotely with pants? Why would I want to buy jeans that remind me of this? Is this what their jeans do to one’s genitalia? I can categorically state this a game nobody wants to play...

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Put a Justice Wheel in Your Belly

A recent web ad that caught my eye. I’ve actually become quite adept at not reading/paying attention to these locale specific web ads. Of course I’m aided by the fact that most of them are in Cantonese and thus illegible to me. But the prospect of having a ‘justice wheel in my belly’ sounds quite compelling. And they have the ‘answers’ to boot. No idea what that means of course, but it sounds far more empowering than being ‘Unisys Check Encoded’ or ‘SEBI India Compliant’...

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Only the Dead See the End

From a couture store called “Mr. Lolliporter” - more on him in a later post. This is part of their ‘naively’ racist Red Indian line, but its stands alone for sheer oddity. Only the Dead See the End indeed. What does that mean exactly? The dead can still see, or everyone will be dead when the end comes, which is technically true, I suppose, it being The End and all. Not like someone going to be around to see the credits when the time/space continuum winks out. Except perhaps the enigmatic Mr. Lolliporter...

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We Promise! We Will Take Care of Your Stomach!

A bizarre ad for the ‘Food Forum’ restaurants on the top floors of Times Square in Causeway Bay. It seems a slate of chefs is reassuring their throng of devoted fans that they’ve got their backs, or rather stomachs. Odd that the stadium is filled almost entirely with Americans, but who knows, maybe this is from the ‘Food Forum Chefs’ recent world tour. Of course, we’ve heard such statements from the chefs before, like when they promised to protect social security and stop bank foreclosures. At least this in one area they can claim expertise. Still, four master chefs for a million people seems a stretch; one can only hope that they’re adept at doubling, or rather millioning their recipes...

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Truffle Pig

A candy bar(?) for sale in HK. More proof that Asian marketers don’t have a monopoly on poor branding. Honestly who would want to buy this? The inference of course is that you are either A) eating a truffled pork candy bar, or B) you are a truffle pig. Even if you like truffles, and know how they’re gathered (highly prized pigs trained to smell out the underground delicacy), this seems like a bad idea. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a pig, period. Or would be flattered by the comparision. Hey, how about Hazelnut Swine? Now that would sell like hotcakes. Or pigcakes...

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Purrdon Me, Sir

A t-shirt for sale in Maine. This could be forgiven in HK (almost) as the owner might not speak English well enough to get the pun (a term I use here in the technical sense only). But for a native speaker to wear this, even ironically, is the stuff of nightmares. That said, if you are going to have this on your shirt, having it spoken by a debonaire cat with a rakishly curled whisker mustache and sparkly tophat is better than nothing... actually it’s not.

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Gimp Rolls, Scoubidous & Boodogglers

I came across this potentially unsettling item in the ‘meeoowwch’ craft store. Not being an especially scrapbooky person, the first thing that came to my mind was the gimp from Pulp Fiction. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the store had in mind...

Turns out there’s a bourgeoning underground of Gimpers, though calling them that may get me impaled by scrapbooking implements. Apparently they prefer to call themselves Boondogglers. Of course there’s another camp that refers to the art as Scoubidous. Sounds like a Harry Potter faction. Probably is one. Anyway I also wondered if the Boondogglers and Scoubidousers ever have craft-fair brawls, or travel in armed packs and pick off the occasional old or weakened apostate. Maybe they even have occasional defections to the ‘dark side’, and they knit up elaborate (and incredibly strong - this is plastic lace coated wire) restraining devices for their fallen sisters. Or not.

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Meeoowwch!

A get well card from a gift/scrapbooking/yarn shop in Maine, which appears to have carried the same stock since 1972. I was stopped dead in my tracks by the plight of Mr. Fluffington however. Shouldn’t puns this bad be illegal?

Regardless, it seems he’s had a bit of an run in with a car tire, though I’m sure with enough overindulgence and expensive medical care (no driving over the border to Canada for him - only the highest jacked-up US medical fees will do!) he’ll be purrfectly fine. Or is that pawfectly?

Which reminds me, why aren’t there cards like this that say meowtherf***er? Now that’s a card I would buy without hesitation. And my respect for the store that carried it would rise exponentially too.

I actually thought about buying this and sending it as a joke, but the thought of keeping a card around in case one of your friends gets sick was, well, sick. Also I don’t know that many people who could absorb such toxic levels of snark while still recuperating...

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Long Hiatus & Thanks

Greetings - just a quick thank you to the tens of readers who check in reliably, and a welcome to the occasional surfer who stumbles in looking for legitimate Hong Kong product and/or music reviews. Also apologies for the long hiatus - we have just returned from a long visit to the US, and I hope to post some new stuff very soon. I also hope to upgrade my cutting-edge blogware to update the page design, and hopefully allow for implanted videos etc.

As always thanks for stopping by and tell your friends and enemies.
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Snappy Joe the Jeepster

I recently found this shot from the Heritage Museum, home of other toy legends like Mr Smash, the Clockwork Walking Smash Martian and Col. ‘Hap’ Hazard.
Behold the infamous ‘Snappy Joe’ the Jeepster, who had his teeth replaced with a jagged set of steel fangs. Even added teeth to his jeep. Apparently he didn’t think his psychotic eyes were intimidating enough; perhaps he felt insecure being a jeepster around all those tanks. Of course Joe’s fellow troops gave him a wide berth regardless, especially when he went on wild joyrides around the base. He would often blow through intersections while waving a live grenade around (at least I think thats a grenade, or maybe its a pumpkin?). Somehow I don’t think Snappy adapted well to civilian life...

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beLIEve

A t-shirt for sale in SOGO. I honestly can’t decide if this is a fashion/chinglish disaster or an example of brilliant tongue-in-cheekiness. The jarring disconnect between the unicorn/rainbow motif (which would be worn unironically by your average HongKonger) and the tagline beLIEve is truly remarkable, especially by irony-blind HK standards. If it is intentional, then my opinion of at least one HK fashion designer has skyrocketed. If it isn’t, then it’s still a priceless example of unintentional, completely discombobulating irony at its finest...

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God Makes You Try Pop Pop Pizza

Looks like Pizza Hut has brought in the Big Man himself to get his flock (or these rapturous HK ladies at least) to partake of their latest contraption pizza, the ‘Pop Pop’. Have to say it would take divine intervention to get me to try this abomination: sausage buds (with squirt bottle mayo), garlic shrimp, hot dog chunks, pineapple, and what appears to be twisty cheddar/mozzarella nuggets. Love the enticing platters in the background showing the various ingredients on cheeseboards with garnishes - just like in a real Pizza Hut kitchen! Not sure where the Popping occurs though. Perhaps its the sound of your stomach wall rupturing as God forces you to eat a monstrous slice of ‘pizza’ that weighs more than you do...

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Live a Sportive (& Healthy) Life

A very quick post - this was next to the bowl + bowl cafe sign. Not much to say other than I am now inspired to live more sportively, whatever that means...

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The Bowl & Bowl Cafe

The restaurant at the world famous bowling alley in the SCAA in Causeway Bay. It actually took me a minute to get the pun; have to say I was not helped by the bizarre graphic of a half fork/half bowling pin hydrid. Bowl and bowl, get it? Like a bowl of noodles, right? Though one can’t go ‘bowling’ with bowls...hmmm. Having the first word italicized doesn’t help either...

I was gladdened by the smiling bowling ball next to it, however. Clever! And rather creepy actually. I don’t know if I want to put my fingers in a bowling ball’s eyes, or my thumb in his mouth, even if he does look friendly. He obviously thinks the world of that bowling pin though...



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Hair Homer

A new(?) salon in Causeway Bay. Seems they spent a great deal of time and effort on a name (and signage) that makes absolutely no sense. It is memorable if nothing else, and makes for a nifty double h logo. And they’ve certainly chosen a grungy edgy font for themselves, though again what that has to do with either hair or homers is beyond me...

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Desiccate the Spring

A dehumidifier ad from a few months ago. 90+% humidity and its attendant mold etc are big problems here in HK, and most people own at least one unit like this, and several dozen absorbing containers placed throughout their closets. So I think I can see what they are trying to do here, but its yet another case of too clever by half - we’ll use ‘desiccate; so scientific and official sounding! Don’t see people actually wanting to ‘desiccate the season’ and kill off any emergent springtime plant life...

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uMama Warms a Legendary Diva

The latest in massage/relaxation technology. HK is rife with such gadgets, ranging from full-body massage recliners (which retail for thousands US) to small handheld gizmos, to more midrange contraptions like this. The preposterous name itself warrants inclusion here, but there’s much more here worth commenting on. First off there’s the unique (and luxuriously comfortable) design which allows it to address the ‘neck, shoulder, back, and tummy’ simultaneously. Can’t say I ever needed a tummy massage after a hard day, but it must be just what a ‘legendary diva’ needs to maintain her... legendary diva-ness? I love the small control pad on the front too, discreetly nestled in the brushed faux leather - makes it look like the spacesuits from the more early Star Trek movies. Have to say it reminds me of the shoulder harness for a high end roller coaster more than anything else though.

Still, who cares what it looks like when it got a name like ‘uMama Warm’. It begs for someone to exclaim in a suitable rapper or jersey accent - “Umama? I warmed umama last night!” etc etc...

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Real Kebab Adventure!

From our friends at Istanbul Express. I have to say I’ve never eaten there, so I can’t attest to the taste etc, and honestly would love to have one - or as the Brits say, “I fancy a kebab”. But I’m not sure I want to make an ‘adventure’ out of it. If I wanted to do that, I’d take it upon myself to find out what those pillars of ‘meat’ are actually made of...

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The Hardest Scratch-Resistant Coating Since the Formation of the Swiss Alps!

From the Star Ferry - Again with the new innovation. Seems our friends at Stoneline have done it again - terracota +induction?! They have apparently achieved, nay surpassed the Holy Grail of scratch resistance - the hardness of the original Swiss Alps! And we all know how scratch resistant the newly formed Alps were...

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Life Begins From Here

A store window in Beijing. Apparently life begins not at conception, or after you’ve graduated, or even with a dream. It begins with a complete set of discount chinese crockery at low low prices. Or does it emanate from the mouth of the odd, crazy-eyed lion dog on the right?

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Dodge-Em Tricky Action

One of the last of the trove that is the Heritage Museum. I thought they couldn’t top ‘Mr. Smash’, but ‘Dodge-Em Tricky Action’ gives him a run for his money. I love the innocent little ‘duck and cover’ kids riding the bumper cars; I especially love that some bored museum employee posed the little girl shaking her fist at the rapscallion little boy who’s about to ram her. Hopefully she’ll employ some artful dodge-em tricky action and send him flying into the patriotic border ring...

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Placenta Infiltration Therapy

A new skin treatment at a local spa. Bizarre enough phrasing to proudly stand alone, though it does make one wonder exactly whose placenta is being infiltrated, and how...

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LUCID CUBE... Air Freshener or Dream Enhancer?

One of the odder taxi dashboard adornments I’ve seen - an air freshener named ‘LUCID CUBE’. Not sure if they had anything in mind other than ‘hey it rhymes!” A waste of a funky name really, as I can think of any number of interesting devices that could use a moniker like this, say a virtual reality generator, or an REM sleep brainwave booster. Maybe it really is a lucid dream enhancer disguised as a dashboard air freshener - which would explain why our driver kept weaving around unseen obstacles and driving like a waking nightmare...

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Gripe Water - Rapid Relief of Wind and Gripe

A quick post about gripe water. Initially I found the term ‘gripe water’ amusing; I’ve since been told that ‘gripe’ is a Brit term for colic. Still to Americans to ‘gripe’ means to bitch or complain, and ‘wind’ is an archaic term used ironically (think Break Like the Wind, the estimable sequel to Spinal Tap). A more useful US version would be targeted not at colicky babies and their sleepless parents, but rather for those unfortunates exposed to rightwing talk radio and fox news (such as workers forced to listen to rush limbaugh or sean hannity by their petty tyrant bosses). It would provide rapid relief from ignorant whining, race-baiting, spittle-flecked griping and toxic levels of foul smelling hot air...

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In the Blue Ocean Palace There Are Many Programs, Including Water-Larkishness

From a brochure for a resort outside of Beijing. Apparently Blue Ocean Palace has a hot spring pond whose grounds are constructed entirely from green jades. Wow. As if this were not enough, they claim to be the ‘first place in Beijing’ to boot; a veritable paradise of water sports (surfing and drifting) and spa treatments like ‘hydropathy-care’. Impressive lineup, but they also have venues for bowling, billiards and hairdressing. But it’s their singular ability to offer ‘water-larkishness’ that seals the deal for me. When’s the last time you were able to waterlark indoors? Exactly.



And as you can see by the accompanying shot of the pool, there is potential for water-larking aplenty. Never mind that the bizarre juxtaposition of stalactites, transplanted sections of cave wall, jade tiling, blimp hangar ceiling, and a flotilla of inflatable pool toys will melt your brain...

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! Sign

A sign outside of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. I’m assuming this means warning! or caution! or its equivalent, though its rather vague about what to be cautious of. A quick image search revealed only one other example of it, from a British sign vendor. I don’t recall ever seeing one in the UK, or in any former colonies etc that still use UK signage. Perhaps it means Warning! Something unknown and vaguely dangerous awaits you past this gate! Or maybe its cautioning you about the decoration hanging beside it. Warning! Dangerously oversized traditional Chinese knots ahead!


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No Magic Jackets or Better Safe Than Static

A warning sign from a Chinese gas station. Glad to see they’re covering all the bases. No matches, gas cans, sparks from metallic tool repairs, and most importantly no magic jackets.



Or is that static producing clothing (no matter how über-fashionable or yummy warm they may be)? Oh well as the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “better safe than static”. It sounds much more noble in the original Mandarin...

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Understand Classical: Witch-hatted Garlic Cloves Signify Roast Pig's Knuckles

Another selection from the previously mentioned menu. Nothing says classic Beijing cuisine like roast pig’s knuckles, and nothing signifies classic pig’s knuckles quite like a pair of witch-hatted cloves of garlic. Obvious really...

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Even if the Trend is Changing, the Same is to Adhere to Taste - The Trendy Options

A bold, farsighted quote from the ‘trendy’ menu section of a Beijing area restaurant. I’m guessing they are trying to say something like new recipes still need to taste good. I could get the characters properly translated, but why spoil the mystique? And as quotes go, it’s far more thought provoking this way. Although I can’t say it made their entrees taste any better...

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Close To The Distance Near Civilization

My first post from our Chinese New Year trip to Beijing. A sign from the men’s room at the Great Wall site at Mutianyu. A beguiling phrase to be sure, but its location raises even more intriguing questions...





Does this mean urinals equal civilization? So... being close to the distance near them is... hmmm. I thought this plaque was perhaps misplaced, but they were dutifully posted above the other ten urinal stations as well. I must have been missing something all these years, just staring blankly ahead while I did my business, unaware that I was on the very cusp of progress...
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Golden Bone Ingot

Yet another hot product from the lab over at Ancient Chinese Secrets (ok I made that up). Seems all you need to relieve joint pain and deterioration is a healthy dose of ‘golden bone ingots’, which will cause your various joints to veritably glow with health (see model on the right) - or does it electroplate your joints with actual gold? Who cares! They’re on sale!

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Intense Social "punk" Rock Sand - Crazy Music Rise And Shine

Another t-shirt from the aforementioned Comical Kids winter lineup. I have no idea what they are attempting here, but it does have a nice cadence to it... I guess. Perhaps this is what Sid Vicious used to greet the morning (or late afternoon) with each day: Crazy Music Rise and Shine!

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Comical Kids Friends Towards the Horizon Courageous Rivers '53

A boy’s t-shirt on sale at Sogo. ‘Comical Kids’ is the brand name, and they’ve got some great unintentional material here. Seems they are exhorting young boys to look ’towards the horizon’ for ‘courageous rivers’, just like in ’53. Who can forget the madcap tots who ventured forth on that ill-fated 1953 expedition to find the fabled river of bravery?

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Sharkproof Bracelet

An ad for the latest diver watch from Omega. ‘Luxury’ watches are a thriving market here, with all the big name companies represented throughout HK. I was initially struck by off-key tagline. Do you have an oxygen tank - get it? ‘Cause its takes your breath away, and you need to breath underwater ‘cause there’s no air, and...

Anyway what really caught me is the added bonus listed below: not the 1200 meter water resistance (in case you ever develop the mutant ability to dive to 4000ft without a submersible) but rather the ‘sharkproof bracelet’. Honestly what good will that do you? Sure it’ll preserve the watch, but unfortunately the wrist its attached to won’t fare so well...

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Dense Feeling Moment

An odd little toy from a bookstore in Causeway Bay. They have a whole raft of ‘european’ store fronts on sale, which are not made for any particular toy. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a coffee shop that goes by that name in any of the EU countries. but who knows? Maybe its tucked away on some cozy backstreet in London or Brussels, beckoning to the local intelligentsia and occasional tourist to come enjoy a good cup of joe and experience a truly condensed emotional instant...

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Who's Absent? Super Delicious Food! Take it, its Yours!!!

Another truly bizarre ad for the Food Forum restaurants at Times Square (note the ‘TS’ on the soldier’s helmet - nice touch). Apparently if you’re present, you are eligible for some super delicious food - in fact you’re authorized to ‘just take it, its yours!!!’ The juxtapositions here are mind boggling: the aforementioned WWII grunt with a huge fork strapped to his back, carrying a grocery bag overflowing with oddly matched fresh produce; the utterly nonsensical headline; the obnoxious impossible to read warped font (it’s actually called ‘hobo’ and is one of the ugliest fonts ever devised); the WWII British bomber crashlanding in the background, after narrowly missing the airdropped giant pumpkins; and last but not least, the Iraq/Afghanistan-era US troops in the foreground, all dutifully waiting for chowtime, also equipped with monstrous utensils. I guess they need the extra large silverware to get into the pumpkins?

So what does ANY of this have to do with the various restaurants of the Food Forum? Nothing! Just follow orders, soldier! And if anyone tries to impede you as you fill your duffel with a veritable cornucopia of pineapples, grapes and radishes, well just impale them with your army issue giant golden fork. Take it, its yours!

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Illinois of Augustana Gusties

A t-shirt from Champion, from the Sogo dept. store in Causeway Bay. They have a ton of these faux American high school shirts, with innocuous fictitious names like Carbondale Vikings etc. But this one definitely takes the cake. Of course in alternate universe Illinois the Gusties are a bit of a legend, the only school to win consequetive state titles in both football and basketball twelve years in a row. I do think they mean Augustana of Illinois(?), which of course doesn’t really exist either. But hey who cares? Goooo Gusties! Blow ‘em away!

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