Art by Jie Wu

  • JieWuButterfly

The Greatest Album You’ve Never Heard by Sabrina Egley

It is no small secret that Rock music has hit hard times. From around the start of the twenty-first century, music fans have increasingly turned their attention to more contemporary genres, like Pop, Hip-Hop, and Electronic music. The days of heavy riffs, sick solos, and killer drums seem to be long past. One band, however, strives to carry on in a world of computer generated beats. Queens of the Stone Age, after a six year hiatus, has released an album that has revitalized the Rock genre in all of its glory. …Like Clockwork, since its release in 2013, has been widely appraised as the most thoughtful and complete album released by Queens of the Stone Age to date.

…Like Clockwork is one of those albums that begs to be listened to all the way through. Each song forms an integral part of the cumulative whole. When heard in its entirety, the album feels like a single composition. The experience can be hugely transformative. Ranging from Queens of the Stone Age’s classic heaviness to, at times, melodic, sentimental, and even vulnerable, …Like Clockwork succeeds at sending the listener on a musical odyssey. The vocal performance by front-man Josh Homme is absurdly powerful and even assertive at times. As opposed to earlier Queens of the Stone Age albums, Homme is able to harness that fearsome brawny voice and refine it. There is a clearly defined point of view which encompasses every element from lyrics to tone. The entire album is colored in a man-against-the-world vibe that flirts with anxious paranoia but never quite succumbs.

From the very first tract, “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” the listener is forewarned. This album means serious business. A bass riff as gnarled and grisly as the opening from this song does not exist. It is met with lyrics just ominous and weirdly enticing: “Don’t look, just keep your eyes peeled.”  David Grohl, the famous front-man of The Foo-Fighters, guest appeared as drummer for the band during the production of this album. His brilliant talent is best showcased in this single for his use of negative space. These moments of suspended delay are jarring in the most positive sense of the word. With such heavy music, the occasional and unexpected breaks in sound offer respite and refocus the narrative of the song.

The single “I Appear Missing” is the missing link from many other Queens of the Stone Age albums. It bridges the gap between the band’s heaviness and their softer, more pop inspired songs like “Make it Wit Chu” from Lullabies to Paralyze, which, until now, seemed out of place. The song’s success derives from the fact that it mirrors Homme’s softer lyrical performance with sweepingly heavy and poignant guitar solos that could rival the likes of any Pink Floyd song out there.

A more progressive Rock album has not been released for a long time. Queens of the Stone Age’s daringness is certainly the source of their greatness. They are no color-by-numbers type of band.

My Song

My Song

By Matthew Ho

 

My life is the melodious tune of a song

Composed by none other but I

Influenced by the world around me

 

The conjunct melody is absolute

With no form to dictate.

The rhythm speaks my life

As it’s the key to expressing my song.

 

My heart beats to an eight note, not a quarter note

My feet stomps the silent quarter rests.

My friends are the harmony,

While the acquaintances are the resolving dissonance.

Together we make the beautiful chords in my song.

 

The orchestra joyfully plays the major tonality

Like the happiness in my life

While somberly playing the minor

Representing the less happy moments.

 

There is no fine to the song

As it’s yet to fully begin

For my life is the melodious tune of a song.

 

 

 

Eye

Artwork by Joseph Harrell

  • Joseph Harrell_Eye_Graphite on Paper

Artwork by Martina Salerno

Charcoal on Paper

  • Martina Salerno_Untitled Portrait_Charcoal on Paper

July 10, 2014

Today the group visited cultural sites to gain understanding of China’s rich history and culture.  Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City was the first stop.  Tiananmen Square is very large and can hold one million people.  The square is the location where Chairman Mao declared the People’s Republic of China in 1949.  The square also has a mausoleum that holds Chairman Mao’s body in a crystal coffin.  The line was extremely long for this as many Chinese come to pay their respects.  The square also holds many other buildings including the Great Hall of the People were the Chinese parliament meets today.

At the south entrance of Tiananmen Square lies the Forbidden City.  The Forbidden City was the center of the Chinese empire for nearly five centuries.  The emperors were considered to be the Son of Heaven and the intermediary between the yang and yin.  We were able to enter the gates that were once closed off to the commoners.  All buildings have red walls and yellow roofs.  The red symbolizes good luck and the yellow symbolizes nobleness of the emperors.  Each building has a certain number of animals on the roof that indicate its rank.

After a great lunch of Chinese food, the group took to the heights of the Great Wall at the Mutianyu Entrance.  Over one million people were involved in building the wall and the last construction occurred during the Ming Dynasty.    The group took a ski lift to the top of the wall and endured the humidity and very steep stairs to climb to the top of the wall.  Although the smog hindered part of the view, it was still a amazing view and experience!  Once completed, we took toboggans (speed slideway) and raced to the bottom to meet the bus.  Before getting on the bus we had our try at negotiating prices at a small market and got some great deals on souvenirs! To end the day we ate at a great restaurant that served Peking Duck.  This is a signature dish in Beijing that is served with very thin pancakes, onions, garlic, spices, and a special sauce.   The duck and all the sides served with it were very delicious!   These meals are giving some of us a chance to perfect our chopstick ability!

July 8 by Tatsuya Hidano

After a comfortable 30-minute bullet train ride from Beijing to Tianjin, Mr. Kevin Chen, Section Chief of Aviation Industry Development Center (AIDC), and Bombardier Facilities Development director Mr. Joel Davis greeted us there.

Quickly headed to lunch from there, our exchange of casual greetings turned into another conversation about businesses and its operations in Tianjin. Most of them quite technical to the details, I thought, slightly indifferent here and there, and more interested in the dishes lining up around the center on a Chinese turn table in front of us, I just kept filling up my mouth.

Then when asked about what he thinks is important and crucial to remember in doing international businesses, Mr. Davis shared one word with us over the meal: flexibility.

According to Merriam-Webster, being “flexible” means: capable of bending or being bent; easily changed; able to change or to do different things; willing to change or to try different things.

Seeing all the yet-evolving metropolitan landscape in Beijing and visiting parts of the country’s engine for all things business that are driving behind it, Government, we sense such an aspect within its climate as Friends University Graduate School Dean Dr. David Hofmeister’s comment: “In China, everything is possible but nothing is easy.”

Rigid Governmental influences and censorship everywhere were among many things with rather negative connotations I had in mind, before what has turned out to be a series of practical, if not necessarily positive to many of those outside the country, efforts it encourages its people to be part of, quite the opposite of what I had in mind for the business environment in China.

That day, our visit to the Airbus Final Assembly line in Tianjin and Tianjin Airport Economic Area finished up with a presentation by Mr. Chen about the city and its business effort in the aviation industry.

Just as we were exchanging some casual thank-yous and goodbyes and exiting the building, Mr. Chen fast approached me and said, “You look Japanese.”

A bit surprised, totally aware of this never ending political tension between China and Japan, and ready to apologize, which I as a native Japanese often would do, I said, “Yes, I’m from Japan.”

“Can we talk in Japanese?” asked Mr. Chen, slightly lit up.

“Of course,” I replied in Japanese.

It was a brief, casual and rather rushed conversation, while Mr. Wen glanced at his wrist watch constantly. But now smiling cheek to cheek Mr. Chen said he was happy he got to speak in Japanese, his second language since high school.

It turned out we were the same age.

Before our group boarded our bus back to the train station, I asked out of curiosity.

“… so why Japanese?”

“Well you remember when we – Mr. Chen and I in this case – were graduating from college in late 90s, it was the Japanese language you needed to learn if you wanted a job in Asia?” answered Mr. Chen shrugging.

Probably more than 99 percent of our conversations with Mr. Chen, group and individual, was in English. He answered all the technical and complex business-oriented questions in English, his third language. It was a typical broken Chinese English, but clearly showcased the vast knowledge he has in what he does now in this third language, which he had to learn on his job and now speaks out of necessity.

I bowed to him when he said in Japanese, “Hey, email me when you get a chance, and stay in touch.”

I boarded the bus in awe to his flexibility.

——————

 

Tat Hidano

Tuesday! On behalf of Bruce Hysom

Tuesday showed great promise as the smog over Beijing cleared for the first time during our residency, and just as our visibility of the skyline grew clearer so did our understanding of the Chinese business environment. Our first stop was a visit to ChinaSense, the company hosting our residency. Jennifer Pan, Managing director and founder, broke down the history and culture of China and how those influences as well as changing government policies have shaped this dominant and unique economy. Ms. Pan very candidly discussed the challenges facing the Chinese government and the questions they must address in order to sustain their continued growth. Her company is an integral part of the success and enjoyment of our time in China.  In that, they executed flawlessly,  all while displaying the very best of the Chinese culture.

In the afternoon,  we visited Weibo.com a Sina Group company.  Where Sina.com is the equivalent to US-based Yahoo.com,  Weibo is like Twitter. Social Responsibility director,  Ben XiaoChao, described how Weibo has become the number one micro blog site in China. He talked about the marketing strategy that haw enabled them to overcome regulatory challenges while meeting the needs of their vast customer base. He was even kind enough to discuss briefly his view of where Weibo is going and how they will continue to increase their share of the Chinese market over the next several years. I appreciated the director’s directness while answering our questions, even those that were of a somewhat sensitive nature.

Pictures!

  • Seattle - Beijing
  • Arrived at Beijing
  • Pactera. Monday 7_7_14
  • Monday 7_7_14 2
  • Monday 7_7_14

Monday!

On behalf of Michelle Lytle

Our second day in China, and our first official business day. We started early…getting a quick breakfast in at the hotel and then onto the bus for our first meeting at United Family Healthcare.  We were greeted by Alan Kahn, VP of marketing and communication.  Alan was kind enough to give us a brief history of UFH, which was founded over 30 years ago by Roberta Lipson, an American business women.  Ms. Lipson still runs the company as CEO.  The vision of the company is to bring all varieties of advanced western healthcare to China.  Our group was also given a tour of their state of the art facilities.

After a delightful lunch at an authentic Indian restaurant we boarded  the bus for out second meeting at Pactera.   Pactera Technology international  Ltd. is the largest China based offshore IT service provider.  It is located on the outskirts of Beijing, in Z-path! then Silicon Valley of China.  Ken Schultz, head of corporate marketing.  He gave us a wonderful presentation on branding and how to move a companies brand from just a casual awareness to brand esteem.   We were also given a tour of their brand new corporate building, which included a full service restaurant and employee recreation facilities.

After out meeting we experienced our first Beijing traffic jam, and after siting at a standstill for almost an hour, finally made it back to our hotel to relax.  Then many of the group headed out to experience the marketplace atmosphere for dinner at KFC,  not traditional Chine fair, but the first time Fatama has eaten there.   After three years in the USA, she tries KFC in China.   A very successful first day of residency!