The Lazy Bastard Guide to Mandarin/Talking Taiwan Interview

lazy-bastard_book-cover_final_21Author Christian Adams sits down with “Talking Taiwan” host Rick Monday for a ten-minute discussion about Christian’s first book published by The International Scholar, The Lazy Bastard Guide to Mandarin: An Abridged Corpus of Axioms, Vocabulary and Purported Meanings, available in ebook format on Amazon Kindle (ASIN: B00AAJS2JC) and Vook (ISBN:9780393318838)
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The Lazy Bastard Guide to Mandarin is the Ninth Best Selling eBook on Amazon!

LBGTM AmazonPsych. Here’s what’s true about the post heading. The Lazy Bastard Guide to Mandarin is in fact the ninth best-selling Kindle ebook in the Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Reference > Foreign Language > Instruction > Chinese category.

Top 100 Paid

  1. This Is China: The First 5,000 Years (This World of Ours) by Haiwang Yuan
  2. Chinese for Everyone (Chinese for Everyone (Ebook)) by Janie Chien
  3. Learn How to Speak and Understand Mandarin Chinese in 30 Days: A Revolutionary Chinese Language Learning Approach for Begi… by Mike Sin
  4. The Most Basic Chinese – All You Need to Know to Get By (Most Basic Languages) by James McGlasson
  5. Tips for Learning Chinese: A Beginner’s Guide by Rui Zhi Dong
  6. Chinese characters from HSK level 1 with stroke order by Virgilio Krumbacher
  7. Knee Howdy: Challenge Chinese Vocabulary to a Duel and Bury it ‘Six Feet Under’ inside your Brain! by Nathan Cain
  8. Learn to Speak Chinese IV: Practical Living (Visit the Doctor, Dentist, Shopkeeper, Chef, Tailor, Trainer, and Lost & Found… by Suzanne Brickman
  9. The Lazy Bastard Guide to Mandarin: An Abridged Corpus of Axioms, Vocabulary and Purported Meanings by Christian Adams
  10. 101 Learn and Read Chinese Flash Cards by Ben Shaffer

First of all, forget the irony of the Lazy Bastard curriculum. Clearly, James McGlasson (#4) is familiar with the concept, and perhaps Nathan Cain (#7) truly has a sense of humor. I don’t know that it’s worth $2.99 to find out. However, their books are clearly meant to be instructional whereas the LBGTM is not; what’s truly remarkable about its lofty chart position is two-fold. The eBook is available for purchase and download from Amazon with a Kindle device; there have been no reports of issues on that front. However, if you do a lot of online shopping from your personal computer (i.e. desktop PC or laptop), the book is readily available as long as you’re not using one of the following browsers: Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox—meaning 90% of all internet users will be able to find the book, but when they try to buy it, they’re informed that the book is “Not Currently Available.” Now, if you’re using Apple Safari, there’s no problem. This tech issue is on Amazon’s end and hopefully, fingers crossed, will be resolved in the near future.

The second remarkable thing about LBGTM’s chart success says more about the market for Chinese instructional materials. When a book that basically says, “Don’t bother” is the ninth best-selling book in the Kindle Store, either nobody is interested in learning Chinese, or at the very least, fewer people are interested in reading about it. And that in and of itself is what makes the Lazy Bastard Guide something worth waiting for, or perhaps, taking a few extra mouse clicks to find.

Trying to Save Some Face

Hi, hello, greetings. Temerity Smith-Flax here. On behalf of the Black Sunshine Media team, we are genuinely sorry to have jerked everybody’s chain about the release of Christian Adams’ The Lazy Bastard Guide to Mandarin, which we touted as November 7, 2012, and is now indefinite.

The delay is and has been due to technical issues involving the formatting of the ebook with certain distribution channels, and the publisher is working furiously to find a solution to the problem, which if anyone cares, has to do with unsupported characters. Although a Lazy Bastard doesn’t have to worry about “face”, I’m trying to hang on to my job. (Psst. Have I groveled enough, Geoffrey?)

In the meantime, here’s another excerpt from the book.

Selected Entries from the Glossary of Terms.

 

 

Never Mind the BBC, Here’s the Lazy Bastard

The Third of Eight Ways China is Changing Your World, So Says the BBC

“China has long fascinated the West, but its emergence as an economic power has seen a new burgeoning of interest in its culture and language. Thirty years ago, only its inscrutable leaders were recognized in the West. Now people like actress Zhang Ziyi, basketball player Yao Ming and artist Zhang Xiaogang are global figures.

Meanwhile schools across Europe and the U.S. are offering Mandarin classes to children as young as six, and during the Olympics, Chinese script could be seen on adverts on some London buses. China’s government has sought to capture the zeitgeist, helping set up several hundred Confucius Institutes around the world whose overt goal is teaching Chinese, but which also project soft power.

The number of Mandarin speakers is set to grow strongly, especially in Asia, but is it really able to challenge English as a global language? Not any time soon, most experts argue, pointing to its infuriating tones and a script which takes years to master.”

  • About 840 million Chinese speak Mandarin as their first language
  • Only 375 million people worldwide speak English as first language
  • But 1 billion more speak English as second language, or have learnt it as foreign language
  • Chinese has tens of thousands of characters, though 3-4,000 are enough to read the news
Source: Foster, Angus. “Eight ways China is changing your world.” BBC News, Beijing. October 15, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19797989
Sources: Ethnologue, British Council

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The Book Report: Potential Stocking Stuffers, Bathroom Reading and In-flight Entertainment

Late autumn is a busy time for publishing houses as they scramble to get major releases on the shelves before Thanksgiving, paving the way for another spirit-sucking stream of holiday-themed cookbooks. This season’s episode of Publisher’s Clearing House is particularly flush with big time rock star “literature,” and a few readers will have these books on their Xmas wish lists.

All book detail, synopsis and trade reviews from The Guardian Bookstore unless otherwise indicated. Prices are generally omitted because really, can you put a price on the sheer pleasure and enjoyment of reading?

Waging Heavy Peace

Neil Young

Hardcover

Publisher: Viking

Publication date: October 25, 2012

Synopsis: Neil Young is an iconic figure in the history of rock and pop culture (inducted not once but twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). This title offers an overview of his personal life and musical career, spanning his time in bands Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and his role as the patron saint of the grunge scene.

Trade review: Potentially the music memoir of the year as enigmatic rock icon Neil Young tells the story of his remarkable life and career. His songs are filled with tantalizing lyrics and mesmerizing references, much of which will be explained in this book. His private life has been a struggle against ill-health (his own and his children’s), which he will write about very movingly, and he also covers his charitable work and social campaigning.

Excerpt from random review: Wesley Stace, The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2012. “Waging Heavy Peace takes the form of a diary, a life-in-the-day structure that gives Mr. Young room to maneuver, as he takes us on a wander round his memory palace—a drive down the coastal highway, stopping off occasionally for a meeting with the CEO of Warner Music Group to demonstrate PureTone (the audio format he is developing that will deliver music in perfect quality to the downloader) or for a trip to the Costco (‘You can find anything’). The book is erratic (if everyone else weren’t going to do it, the urge to compare its structure to one of his guitar solos would be irresistible), charmingly mundane (a paean to his Sonicare Toothbrush calls it ‘a product I am very impressed with’) and comically repetitive (almost everything in the book is said twice and, if Mr. Young is worked up—as he frequently is—many more times than that). The book contains so many Thank Yous that you occasionally wonder whether you’ve stumbled into the acknowledgements by mistake.”

BSM reaction: Can’t wait to get our paws on the paperback edition.

Hallo Sausages: The Lyrics of Ian Dury

Jemmina Dury

Hardcover ISBN 9781408812143, 320 pages (book+CD)

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication date: October 25, 2012

Synopsis: The only complete collection of Ian Dury’s lyrics, illustrated with previously unseen material.

Trade review: Here for the first time are Ian Dury’s collected lyrics – not only material that was released, but also things that have been gathered from old demos, song fragments and other sources by his daughter Jemima. The book is arranged chronologically, and has been designed by renowned artist and designer Jake Tilson, who was Dury’s brother-in-law, using original scrawled notes and a miscellany of scraps that inspired them. The book also comes with an exclusive CD of previously unreleased material. An excellent homage to a unique artist.

Random review: Terry Staunton, Record Collector Magazine, date unavailable.  “Even when they only appear before you on the printed page, it’s nigh-on impossible to read Dury’s words without hearing his voice in your head, such was the singularly strong personality of the great man. ‘Lyrics’ barely does this collection justice, as it’s clearly the work of a true poet, an orator of unbridled eloquence and imagination. The index alone is telling, Dury’s daughter Jemima opting to present the material arranged by the first line of each song or soliloquy (160 in all), not unlike a Christian hymn book. It’s a breathtaking catalogue of comic fancy, philosophical insight  and beautifully descriptive narrative that stands strong without the embellishment of music from The Blockheads or others. ‘Dad was a brilliant poet,’ Jemima writes in her introduction, ‘but he was surprisingly shy of that title, he found the notion too romantic and highbrow; he preferred being called a wordsmith.’ Twelve years after his death, Dury’s wordsmithery (a corruption he would no doubt have approved of) is as full of life as it was the first time he put pen to paper.”

BSM reaction: Struggling to name one song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, so £18.75 is a big stretch for this book. Wait until it’s available in ebook.

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This is Water: In Memory of David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008)

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being truly able to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

To memorialize the anniversary of DFWs untimely and tragic passing, here is the commencement address he gave to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005, entitled “This is Water.”

If anybody feels like perspiring, I’d advise you to go ahead, because I’m sure going to. In fact I’m gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket]. Greetings and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005.


There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of U.S. commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

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