Things to beguile the charmless (Part 4: final)

Sunday 4 December 2011, 12.00pm HKT


(Continued from Part 3)

Updated 2011/12/04 for corrected typos. (You’re fired. — Editor)

IT IS SAID that charming people need no ‘extraordinary assistance’ from the likes of charms.

But for those whose charm and luck tend to be variable and usually considerably less than 100% on a daily basis, charms provide that necessary and requisite illusion of assistance.

Disclaimer: I have no association with any of the firms mentioned, so it’s not some kind of sneaky commercial plug for them. So there.

* * *

The Naked Listener’s own lineup

Honestly, I’d love to show you a picture of my charm bracelet, but I haven’t been dealing with it for quite some years now and can’t remember where I stashed it.

(Well, actually, I think I do know, but might be a bit of a chore to get it out from the bottom drawer.)

What I have now

  1. an angel (for Los Angeles)
  2. a stylised exploding grenade (for my regiment)
  3. a silver heart with a Manx cross (can’t remember what for)
  4. a merlion (for my first-ever trip away: to Singapore)
  5. moneybag (for Hong Kong, my birthplace: see photo below)
  6. turtle (for my first pet)
  7. five Chilean skull beads (for printing work: hard to explain why)
  8. a jade rabbit (to represent my rabbit-like feet)
  9. a set of red, white and blue trollbeads

I promise to show you a picture when I get round to it.

My beloved moneybag charm, goldplated solid sterling silver, nearly a full inch (25mm) in length, representing the money and the goddamn bag of tricks of Hong Kong, where I was born.

This charm was easier to do a photoshoot on: it’s kept in a Grether’s Pastilles tin next to my seat.

(Wonderful, so every potential burglar round the world knows this too now.)

(via VfG Versandapotheke of Austria)

Funny thing, though, every person I know who owns a charm bracelet usually keep it in a Grether’s Pastille tin. There, another epic tip for potential burglars. *Groan*

♥ ♥ ♥

Looking for

(in alphabetical order)

BTW, carat (ct) is for diamonds and gems, but karat (kt) for gold. Don’t get this wrong, as many jewellers keep doing.

A brain, to represent my birdbrain mind.

(Above: US$79.95 from Pnut Jewelry.)

A cruiseliner, for the S.S. President Lincoln on which we sailed away from the USA in 1971. I still remember quizzing the ship’s chief medical officer whether he was able to see what I was thinking. Sailing right across the Pacific Ocean, the trip had been one of the happiest and saddest times of my life.

Shown:
Above: Cruiseliner, 9kt solid gold, 1.6 g, 26×7mm, £82.42, from Inspirations in Gold.
Below: Galleon, 9kt solid gold, 2.7 g, 17×18mm, £122.54, from same.

Alternative? A galleon

The S.S. President Lincoln was built in 1961 for American President Lines and served in commercial trades for her entire service life before being turned over to the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) in 1979 and placed into the U.S. Navy’s Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF).

Under government ownership, she was renamed S.S. Lincoln and relocated to Suisun Bay in northern California where she sat for 31 years awaiting a call-up for service in case of national emergency.

She was towed to BAE Systems drydock around 2009 and a hull inspection found her hull below the waterline to be perilously unsound.

She was finally sold for scrapping and removed from the RRF in April 2011. The S.S. Lincoln was undocked from BAE Systems drydock on 5th May 2011 and hastily towed to Mare Island, about 23 miles (37 km) northeast of San Francisco, immediately drydocked and readied for scrapping.

>> What a complete goddamn waste of a brilliant ship. <<

An ear, to represent this blog.

(Picture unrelated | via)

A giraffe, to represent my birthyear. (Hey, I go by a different system. Just sayin’…)

Above:
Left: Giraffe, 9kt solid gold, 1.8 g, 18×15mm, £90.83, from Inspirations in Gold.
Right: Giraffe, sterling silver, 1.5 g, ¾×½in, US$19.95, from Africa 7 Hills Mall.

A goldfish (or koi), for Mum. Too hard to explain.

Above:
Fish in 9kt solid gold, 2.5 g, 25×11mm, £135.49. Silver version £14.21, from Inspirations in Gold.

The Ankh, the symbol of life, for my first love, which was archaeology/Egyptology, before biology, psychology, law and every damn thing got in the way. I’m game for anything ancient Egyptian.

Above:
Hieroglyphic Ankh charm/pendant, sterling silver, US$21.99, from The Mystic Corner.

A hamster or some sort of rodent. For my second pet.

Above:
An extremely rare, extremely collectable vintage sterling silver charm of a hamster in a wheel. Wheel turns and the silver gilt hamster moves around inside. Excellent vintage condition, 5.2 g, 19×17mm, £68, from True Vintage Jewellery UK.

Queen Nefertiti of ancient Egypt (according to the  3,300-year-old Nefertiti bust currently in the Neues Museum in Berlin) was the spitting image (exact likeness) of my maternal grandmother, daughter of the last penultimate Imperial Scholar to the Court of the Celestial Empire of China.

Above:
Nefertiti charm, sterling silver, satin and diamond cut with filigree crown, satin and slightly hollowed backside, 1.6 g, 17×18×2mm, US$28.95, from Africa 7 Hills Mall.

Above:
Nefertiti charm, double-sided, 9kt gold, 18×40mm, made in Italy, £89, from Jewellery.tv.

♥ ♥ ♥

For places lived

For Brazil (sun), England (rose/teabag) and France (cockrell).

Above:
Sun, antiqued silver, 10mm, handmade by Beth Hemmila of Reno, Nevada, USA.
Tudor rose of York, sterling silver, US$22, via Getprice.com.
Teabag, sterling silver, 4.2 g, 23×11mm, £14.50, from The Charm Works.
Cockrell, 9kt solid gold, 2.1 g, 16×11mm, £93, from Inspirations in Gold.

For Italy (boot/harlequin), Hawaii (surfboard) and Japan (torii 鳥居).

Above:
Riding boot, 10kt gold, 16mm, US$120 via Amazon.
Venetian harlequin mask, sterling silver, 22mm, US$25, from Amanda Jo.
Surfboard, sterling silver, 19mm, handmade in Indonesia, US$2.50, from India Silver.
Torii, enamelled silver, 19×12×1mm, from Treasure Island Jewelry.

For Germany (beerstein), Lebanon (tree/cypress tree) and Malaysia (tiger).

Above:
Beerstein, 9kt solid gold, 15×15mm, £176.14, from Inspirations in Gold.
Cypress tree, sterling silver, 1.7 g, 13×13mm, US$4.81, from Charm Factory.
Tree, sterling silver, handcrafted, 13×18mm, US$9.07, from Cathy Dailey.
Tiger, 9kt solid gold, 28×13mm, £221.56, from Inspirations in Gold.

And, of course, a streetcar named ‘Desire’ for San Francisco!

Above:
Streetcar, sterling silver, US$19.99, via eBay.

♥ ♥ ♥

For kicks

A flying bird for my onetime nickname (‘Birdie’). My nick is now just ‘Spanky Pants’ and not really funny.

The cow jumping over the moon is for my first nursery rhyme, I kid you not.

Above:
Flying bird, 9kt solid gold, 1.4 g, 22×22mm, £62.16, from Inspirations in Gold.
Cow jumps over the moon, 9kt solid gold, 13×10mm, £65.04, from same place.

The flying penis is, well, for the English phrase “I don’t give a flying f@#k!”

The stag is for the inescapable kick in the goolies after saying that.

Above:
Flying penis, 9kt solid gold, £168, from Inspirations in Gold.
Stag, 9kt solid gold, 3.4 g, 12×18mm, £164.07. From same place.

Hickory Dickory Dock is another favourite nursery rhyme of mine, though in early days I recited it as “Biggery Dickory Cock.”

The jaguar is for my first motorcar, a hand-me-down from Aunt Gracie.

Above:
Hickory Dickory Dock, 9kt solid gold, 1 g, 13×6mm, £38.
Jaguar, flat, 9kt solid gold, 1.4 g, 24×13mm, £65.41.
Both from Inspirations in Gold.

An oil lamp really describes my line of work to a tee — plenty of overnight shifts. Burning the midnight oil…

The plum is literally my name — Lee means ‘plum’ in Chinese.

And what a coincidence too — my name gets associated with overnight work symbols more times than not.

Above:
Oil lamp, 9kt solid gold, 22×12mm, £108.39.
Plum, 9kt solid gold, 13×6mm, £75.31.
Both from Inspirations in Gold.

The robin on a log is a play on a username I once had at work (‘roblog’).

The tortoise with top hat and cane is for that oddball tortoise that crawled out of nowhere and onto my front lawn one wintery morning in London. It stayed on the lawn for hours, so I took it in when snow started falling. It stayed with me for a whole winter and crawled back out to the nowhere it came from when warm weather set in.

Above:
Robin on a log, 9kt solid gold, 2 g, 13×14mm, £82.14.
Tortoise with top hat and cane, 9kt solid gold, 2 g, 17×12mm, £103.78.
Both from Inspirations in Gold.

♥ ♥ ♥

Yank my chain

Of course, I also want a replacement bracelet chain in sterling silver because mine broke. Naturally, I’m happy to settle for 9kt gold. All contributions gratefully accepted.

(Like hell anyone’s gonna buy anything for me…)

♥ ♥ ♥

Here’s a little story

‘I WANNA WATCH’

Single Man lives in the suburbs and has two stunning lesbians
living next door.

Almost every night, Single Man could see
(and sometimes hear) the two birds
‘cooking their tacos’
through the bedroom window.

One fine day, Single Man perks up the courage
and says to one of the girls:

“I wanna watch.”

“You will,” says the lady, “you will for sure,”
with a twinkle in her bunny-blue eyes
and a suggestive smile on her rosy cheeks.

On the Single Man’s birthday a year later,
the lesbians gave him a Rolex.

Do you wanna watch or a Rolex?

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011. All image sources as indicated in text.

Things to beguile the charmless (Part 3)

Sunday 4 December 2011, 6.00am HKT


(Continued from Part 2)

WITH BARELY THREE WEEKS LEFT for the Christmas buying period (a.k.a. the pagan cash-elimination festival), getting just the bare mininum of charms is, well, frankly, bare and minimum. You might just have to offer up some sacrificial baring to make up for your threadbare offering.

Dingly-danglies to add to

The ‘rule’ is to add a charm to the bracelet with every passing of a significant event. The event doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your life. For instance, you can get a spaceship for having witnessed or lived through the 1969 moon landing. Decide for yourself what ‘significant’ means.

Basic protips

Pewter turtle charm, goldplated, US$1.59

4. WHERE TO BUY. Everywhere, basically. Cheap as well as expensive charms are sold everywhere in North America and Europe. In Asia, Westernised designs tend to be pricier and Oriental ones cheaper. For vintage charms, I haven’t figured out a pattern yet, but it seems the United Kingdom and the Eastern seaboard of the USA are good bets. This is probably because the fat and ageing British women dig charm bracelets, and that somehow gets carried over to fat and ageing American women. Women and cowgirls in the Southern states of the USA seem quite a bit taken to wearing charms too, so that’s another place to look.

5. CONVERSIONS. Earrings often get converted into dingly-danglies, and vice versa. If you can’t find a particular charm design, consider improvising a pair of earrings. Very often that works out much cheaper than buying a charm of your desired design.

6. FIRST PET. Always a winner with the girls. Most of us will have had some sort of miserable, misbegotten creature as a pet — starved and cold, unloved and forgotten like Patroclus — that ended up being killed and dismembered (or dismembered and then killed) during our childhood years. My first pet was a turtle (never starved, unloved, ‘liquidated’ or dismembered), so there.

7. SIGNATURE HOBBY. Actually, most of us have no hobbies (apart from watching Internet porn or bickering on chat forums). Some bikers might find a bicycle charm rather quaint and humorous, a good play on the word ‘biker.’ Try a club or a baseball bat if aggravated assault happens to be your pastime. Camwhoring doesn’t count.

8. FIRST-EVER TRIP AWAY. That is, away from your hometown or country. The birthplace advice (in Part 2) applies here also — be imaginative. My first-ever trip away was to Singapore, so it had to be a merlion, mainly because a durian charm is cannot be had for love nor money. Sorry, I can’t help you if your first trip was to Duluth, Wisconsin/Minnesota (pop. 86,265).

Peace sign charm, US$2.07

9. RELIGION. Oooh, danger. Also rather goes against the whole idea of charms (being essentially paganistic). A string of Catholic and Protestant crosses, Stars of David, Buddhist swastikas and Muslim crescent moons just don’t have the same cachet as — well — anything else. These charms unnerve airport security as well. Nothing against religion, but just sayin’, y’know.

10. CHARM FOR EVERY PLACE LIVED. Another winning formula. You decide on the time limit to qualify. I set mine at three months. See Part 4 later for my complete lineup.

11. JOBS. This could be hilarious. If you belong to the Heroic Generation (prewar-born) with one single lifetime job, it could be kind of dull and one-dimensional, but good for epic bragging. If you’ve been (or are) a porn star, consider getting the cunning linguist charm mentioned before in Part 1.

'Writers Block' - a vintage solid sterling silver typewriter charm with moving parts - perfect for bloggers like you and me

Advanced protips

Vintage silver garage charm with car, 4.2 g, 10x15mm, £25

12. PHYSICAL ENDOWMENT. Could be risqué, could be insulting, but definitely entertaining. If you’re born with rabbit-like feet (like The Naked Listener), slender and bony, try the opposite and get a chubby or clubby foot charm. If you’re talented (big breasts = ‘balcony’) or have assets (big bum = ‘garage’) or long legs (‘electric pylons’), you could try something more pornographic.

(Quality of life just improved knowing you’re into balconies, garages and electric pylons.)

13. GAMBLERS. For Americ*nts and Eurofags, the choice is obvious and one-dimensional: a pair of dices, playing cards, a roulette wheel, horses, dogs, a whistle (for rigging ball games), etc. For Far Easterners, get him or her a shark’s tooth (but not a shark’s fin), a mahjong tile or a moneybag. Don’t ever give a book charm to a gambler (it means to lose big time).

14. NATIONALITY. This isn’t so straightforward as it seems. What do you get for a multi-passport holder? What to get for an American who’s of (say) Irish-Swedish-Puerto Rican-Navajo extraction? Faced with a ‘multi’ (a ‘hapa’), at least you could settle on one choice out of many.

15. KICKS. What pleases you? What riles him or her? Is he easily fascinated by colour and motion (as do I)? Is she a grammarfag? Into nursery rhymes? Dig avoidance personality disorder? Charms for kicks can really test your imaginative talents to the hilt.

Here is a very rare silver charm dating from around the 1960s. This articulated charm is of a couple in a four-poster bed. Beneath the bed is a lever that can be used to sit the couple up and down. This is quite a large-sized charm, measuring about 17mm wide. From Antiques Avenue in the UK, priced £38 (US$59) plus 17.5% VAT.

16. TIN OPENER. A can opener in American English. Perfect for the lad who’s had his first virginal experience (the girl, not necessarily the boy himself). If she’s lost it, give her a tin opener too. Some people never get a tin opener, sad but true.

Are you an 'opened tin'? Miss Bibi sodacan liptop charm, silver, £115

The lemons (what to avoid)

17. NUMERAL 4, or anything in fours or two pairs. Applies to all Asians, because ‘4’ sounds like ‘death’ in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and many other seemingly fictitious Asian languages. It’s not superstition, not when you get ‘the finger’ in return.

This '4' is okay. Clover charm, US$23.28

18. NUMERAL 7. It might mean ‘seven heaven’ to Yanks and Eurinals, but ‘7’ signifies the obligatory postmortem vigil that nearly every Asian must go through after a death in the family. A ‘7-11’ charm is considered fothermucking bad taste to most Far Easterners.

19. NUMERAL 9. The most dangerous number in Western horoscope. Never mind, because you could always excuse it as meaning ‘blissful happiness’ (as in the 1946 phrase ‘up/floating on cloud nine’).

20. NUMERAL 13. Another tricky bastard. It’s lucky for some (like yours truly), but the plague for others. Jewish boys (and increasingly girls as well) on reaching age 13 go through bar mitzvah, but I don’t reckon they’ll take a ’13’ charm for that.

21. NUMERAL 14. Worse than ‘4’ and definitely a no-fly zone for all Asians. It sounds like ‘dead for sure’ or ‘dies for sure’ in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.

22. SCISSORS, KNIVES, SWORDS. Don’t. They mean severing of friendship or relationship. Some moronic Far Easterners (mostly Chinese) excuse it as meaning ‘sharp,’ which rhymes with lei (‘lucky’). It doesn’t mean what you think it means, you idiot.

23. SHOES. Don’t give to Chinese, especially newborns. It’ll be misinterpreted as a curse, consigning the baby to a ever-roving life of hardship. Try boots instead. Emperor Caligula (his name meant ‘boots’) was one fearsome and lucky dude, notwithstanding his cruelty and madness.

24. TURD, POOP. Self-explanatory.

25. CLOCKS. This is tricky. Srsly. Old-fashioned Chinese, Japanese and Koreans avoid giving gifts of timepieces or things of that shape. The Chinese phrase ‘soong joong’ (‘delivering clock’) rhymes with that for ‘funeral passage.’ The less superstitious among them are fine with clock-shaped charms, mainly because (a) they’re not actually timepieces and (b) charms are expensive. In any case, clock charms could be misinterpreted as ‘your time’s up, mate.’

What exactly are you trying to say?

N.B. You will have noticed that Asians (mostly Chinese) have lots of aversions and disinclinations. Which is why gift-giving in Chinese culture is so very important, mainly because it shows the massive effort of will and care that have to be taken in selecting gifts.

* * *

Continues on Part 4

The Naked Listener’s very own lineup of charms and barms

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Turtle and peace sign charms via a2z charms ♦ ‘Writers Block’ typewriter charm via Adorn London ♦ Garage charm via True Vintage Jewellery UK ♦ Can top charm via Cure UK ♦ Clover charm via Cheap Charms ♦ Bed couple charm via Antiques Avenue ♦ Poop charm via Etsy.

Things to beguile the charmless (Part 2)

Sunday 4 December 2011, 12.01am HKT


(Continued from Part 1)

There are roughly 21 days to go before Christmas for you to blow your life savings on gifts for the ingrates and other assorted cattle in your overly extended family. One of the more fetching gifts to consider is a charm bracelet.

One for the boys

Charm bracelets aren’t just for women, you know. They’re okay for men too, though I wouldn’t go as far as to recommend the menfolk start wearing them at work. Kinda sends the wrong message in most cases, you know what I mean?

And if you happen to be a guy and a biker as well (of the motorcycle variety, like me), a charm bracelet just doesn’t seem to quite fit in with the image of a lean, mean and keen biker that you’re trying to project.

Protip: I reckon chopper bikers (such as yours truly) could get away with a charm bracelet — as long as:

  • it’s worn on the left wrist
  • the charms themselves are not too ‘dangly’
  • the charms are either few or all-out massive in numbers

Barebones dingly-dangly bracie

The bracelet

First off, the bracelet itself should be sterling (925) silver at the very least, or 9-karat gold for the well-heeled. (Your bank balance may vary considerably downwards after the purchase.)

FACT: Carat (ct: 1ct = 200 mg) is for diamonds and gems, and karat (kt) for gold. Don’t confuse the two, as many jewellers still make that mistake. You would’ve thought that of all people…

The 'Nicola' bracelet: solid 9K gold and sterling silver two-tone charms hard-soldered to a 9K gold curb bracelet: all charms either hinged with a hidden item inside (e.g. the rose with a bee inside: 10 o'clock position) or moveable (e.g. the Smithy with moving hammer striking the anvil: 6 o'clock position)

Protip: Avoid electroplated bracelets. They’re a waste of money. The plating rubs off like mad after only a few wearings, and then the base metal underneath causes unsightly black stains on the skin that’s really hard to clean off.

The charms

A barebones charm bracelet should have three dingly-danglies at a minimum.

Protip: Every charm ideally should have a story behind it. But it doesn’t matter if there’s no story.

Chinese wristcord with 12 Chinese astrological animals in hard jadeite each of ½ inch diameter

1. Astrological sign. Go by Western zodiac (e.g. Aquarius) or by Oriental animal sign (e.g. Rat for 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2008), whichever works best for you.

Sterling silver sailing junk charm, 14×18mm, 1.69 g, £4.18 (US$6.52)

2. Place of birth. Use your imagination a bit for this, although some places don’t exactly lend to the imagination. A cowboy hat for Texas is wee obvious, as is a junk for Hong Kong (where I was born). Much more interesting would be an adobe, which could mean anywhere from Arizona to Chile to Iran to Kyrgyzstan. If all else fails, go for the lowest common denominator: your national symbol or flag.

3. Weakness/strength. Everyone has something screwed up inside them. Word Nymph says in her article she has a crutch-shaped charm to represent brittle ankles. I’m having a hard time locating a brain-shaped charm for my birdbrain loopy mind. Call me if you have an ear charm for The Naked Listener.

Juicy Couture Christmas crutch charm, US$60

Those three are the absolute minimum. If you can’t manage those, forget charm bracelets.

Sterling and gilted silver blood-type charms, ½ inch diameter, US$3.99

Interestingly, when it comes to charm bracelets, the Japanese often include a blood-type charm. This is not because their country is in constant danger from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, which would make sense in having such charms. It is because the Japanese believe in the insane theory that your blood says it all.

Read the dedicated post on the Japanese obsession with blood types.

* * *

Continues in Part 3

Protips for buying the right charm

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: ‘Nicola’ bracelet via Welded-Bliss ♦ Chinese wristcord via chinese-zodiac-symbols.com ♦ Junk charm via Charmmakers ♦ Blood-type charms via Legacies Heirlooms at eBay. Juicy Couture Christmas crutch charm via ebeyss.

These are not the vampires I’m looking for

Saturday 3 December 2011, 11.00pm HKT


WHILE I’M ON THE SUBJECT of charm bracelets on another post, let’s take a little detour and have a look at what you’ve got in your veins.

* * *

Interestingly, when it comes to charm bracelets, the Japanese often include a blood-type charm. This is not because their country is in constant danger from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, which would make medical sense in having such charms.

It is because the Japanese believe in the insane theory that your blood says it all.

* * *

Compartmentalise the entire planet

(Photo: Antonia Reeve/SPL)

In Japan, whether someone is A, B, O or AB blood is a topic of everyday conversation. There is a widespread belief that blood type determines personality and temperament, with implications for life, work and love.

Blood-type personality theory (or blood-type humanics, as the Japanese sometimes like to call it) does much like what horoscopes do in Western culture.

In Japan (a.k.a. The Land That Gave Us Weird Since 1957), there is a frenzied obsession to know a person’s blood type. Celebrity profiles always have a blood-type label. Even anime character profiles are given their blood type. Buy an addressbook in Japan, and you’ll see spaces for blood-type entries. Job application forms ask for your blood type.

Even in everyday life in Japan and South Korea, you’ll notice the conversation somewhat revolves around blood type. People going on a date or meeting someone for the first time are liable to be asked, “What is your blood group?” You’ll notice the question cropping up quite a lot to kick-start smalltalk — as frequently as the question “What’s your nationality?” in Western culture.

“What’s your blood type?”
“The fluid type.”
(The author’s retort whilst living in Japan.)

Anyone from a schoolkid to a pensioner will never fail to ask about your blood type. Indeed, discussion of blood type is a key part of social interaction in Japan and South Korea.

The fact that three or four titles in the Top Ten list of bestselling books in Japan for any given year are about blood type will be enough for you to realise the level of this obsession.

Let’s compartmentalise the entire planet, shall we? Fall in line, and have a look at one of the more common interpretations:

Type O (‘The Warrior’)

Curious and generous, but stubborn.
You want to be a leader (or have leadership qualities). You keep striving until you achieve your goal. You are a trendsetter, loyal, passionate and self-confident, but you have a tendency to be too competitive.

Good traits: Confident, strong-willed, judgmental (i.e. good judgment), dedicated, self-deterministic.

Bad traits: Workaholic, insecure, emotional, stubborn, uncompromising, cold personality, over-confident, self-centred, vanity, jealousy.

Compatibility: O personalities are most compatible with other Os and ABs.

Famous Os: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Hurley.

Trivia: You’re the original blood type. In prehistory, all Cro-Magnon people (precursor to modern Man) who lived around 40,000 BC were type O.

Type A (‘The Farmer’)

Sensitive perfectionists but over-anxious.
You like harmony, peace and organisation. You work well with others. You are sensitive, patient and affectionate. But you are stubborn too, with an inability to relax. In love, you are a traditionalist. 

Good traits: Obedient, careful, sympathetic, empathetic, self-sacrificing, polite, willing to compromise, honest, loyal.

Bad traits: Worrier, emotional, weak-willed, indecisive, introverted, antisocial, wishy-washy, nervous.

Compatibility: As are most compatible with As and ABs.

Famous As: Christina Applegate, George Bush Sr.

Trivia: As the Cro-Magnons evolved, they developed more society-building skills. That was when type A blood started appearing.

Type B (‘The Hunter’)

Cheerful but eccentric and selfish.
A rugged individualist who is straightforward, and like to do things your own way. You adapt easily to any situation because of your creativeness and flexibility. You enjoy being around people, and others love to be around you. With friends, you would rather listen first to all and then proffer up your opinion. However, you insist on being independent can be extreme sometimes and become a weakness.

Good traits: Cheerful, outgoing, optimistic, adventurous, active, sensitive, kind.

Bad traits: Forgetful, undecided, disorganised, noisy, spontaneous, prone to exaggeration.

Compatibility: Bs are most compatible with Bs and ABs.

Famous Bs: Paul McCartney, John F. Kennedy Jr.

Trivia: A high proportion of self-made people are Bs. Type B is traceable back to around 10,000 BC, the time when people began migrating.

Type AB (‘The Humanist’)

Arty but mysterious and unpredictable.
Cool and controlled, generally well-liked and always put people at ease, you are a natural entertainer. Being the most psychologically complex of all blood types, you can be technical and creative at the same time. Tactful and fair, and don’t need to be with others to be happy. Your weaknesses are being standoffish sometimes and having trouble making decisions, as well as being either too businesslike or too gushing in close relationships. It often seems as if you have one personality for the outsiders and another for the insiders.

Good traits: Sensitive, proud, diplomatic, discriminating, easygoing, sympathetic, efficient, learns quickly.

Bad traits: Short-tempered, complains, dependent, moody, brooding, selfish.

Compatibility: ABs are most compatible with ABs, Bs, As and Os (in that order).

Famous ABs: Thomas Edison, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Chan.

Trivia: Fewer than 5% of the world population are ABs. Being the most recently evolved blood type, its history goes back to only around 1,000 years ago.

Most Japanese and Koreans have memorised this by heart. There are numerous permutations of the above according to astrological signs, climate at the time of birth, and various other brain-damaged parameters.

Interestingly, Japanese ABs do not admit to being ABs. It comes from a grotesque twist to the blood donor/receiver system: ABs can receive A, B, AB and O blood but can only donate to fellow ABs. Because of that, ABs are considered ‘selfish’ in Japanese society — giving nothing, taking everything.

This insane belief about personality through blood is not limited to Japan. It extends to the Koreans and, indeed, to the rest of Asia to a greater or lesser extent. Facebook in many Asian countries allows users to include blood type in their profile. But the obsession is strongest and most socially accepted in Japan.

* * *

Abruptly refused sex

In Japan, it is very common for people (especially women) to ask what your blood type is, and you get surprised looks if you don’t know it. (Ninety percent of Japanese know their own blood type, as do 90% of Koreans).

And you’d be surprised how abruptly you are refused getting laid, whilst more than halfway through undressed, the moment your blood type is known.

We’ll let that thought swim in your head for a few minutes.

(It’s kind of the same spiel in Hong Kong, where you get asked quite frequently about your income instead, and get dirty looks if you can’t say it — and abruptly refused sex if your income level becomes known and doesn’t match your partner’s expectations. But at least income level is a more objective parameter than blood type, honestly speaking.)

* * *

New and improved rubbish

The Japanese are really serious and stubborn in their belief that what you bleed is what you are. Never mind that this mumbo-jumbo crap is pure snake-oil sham science bollocks with a rovolting past. Never mind the scientific fact from 40 years’ worth of science research that blood proteins determine blood types and have zero connection with personality traits.

To cut a long story short, this insanity about blood-type personality originally started in the 1920s from Nazi theories about racial superiority, and the prewar militarist regime in Japan picked up on it for its own purposes. It got binned after the war, but came back like the walking dead in Japan in the 1970s when a Japanese lawyer-turned-TV-personality with zero medical background recycled the idea semi-seriously for entertainment purposes. People thought it was for real and never looked back.

See what I mean when I said Japan is ‘The Land That Gave Us Weird since 1957’?

The West hasn’t quite cottoned on to the idea that personality is linked to blood type. That hasn’t stopped the West from paying lip service to an equally absurb quackery — there is a growing belief that we should eat the diet that befits our particular blood type. That idea latches on to the objective fact that different blood types came about at different points in evolutionary time, and that prehistoric diets gave rise to those blood types (which is hogwash).

(Strange that we don’t hear about prehistoric lifestyle differences causing different blood types, no?)

* * *

The real deal behind the spiel

For the Japanese, the appeal of this insane theory is in having one’s self-image confirmed: to read this blood type has that personality is easier on the brain. There are lots of books in Japan and South Korea that piles definitions upon definitions of personality types by blood groups.

The real reason for the popularity of this insane belief in Japan and Korea is that it gives an illusion of diversity. The Japanese (and to a lesser extent also Koreans and Chinese) is a racially homogeneous society, probably more so than any other on earth. The four blood groups are fairly evenly distributed in the Japanese population, as they are also in the Korean and Chinese populations.

‘Japanese/Korean/Chinese diversity’ — such a contradiction in terms there ever was.

You may be a carbon paper copy, but racism carbon-paper-ises everyone

Truth be told, even the 50 or so ethnic minorities in China (diverse as they seem to be) are actually near-carbon copies of the majority Hans, genetically, physically and culturally speaking. There is more diversity in Duluth, Wisconsin, on a summer weekend than in China, Japan or Korea.

Believing in this insanity soothes the soul that one is not alone in being a carbon copy of a photostat — a colourless, odourless, tasteless, unthinking, straitjacketed cog in the wheel of society.

Ultimately, though, the idea encourages us to judge others by a common denominator without trying to understand them as human beings. It’s what I call common daemonator — blood type being that convenient daemon to blame everything on. It’s just another way of saying racism, except that blood type sounds as if it has just enough science to back it up.

* * *

Blood-type harassment

This nonsense isn’t harmless fun. ‘What’s your type?’ often turn out to be all too important a question in landing a job, getting a date, getting a nudist camp membership, and everything else in between.

Perversely, it’s socially acceptable for Japanese politicians to blame their political shortcomings on their blood type.

Some kindergartens in Japan divide up children by blood type for classes. Schoolkids get bullied by reason of their blood type. Sportsmen sometimes get customised training based on their blood type. Some companies hire or assign job duties according to the blood type of employees, and even group entire workforce according it.

In many parts of Asia, people are hired according to their blood types!

It’s no joke. It’s blood-type harassment or discrimination, and ‘bura-hara’ is the pseudo-Japanese term for this. Japanese law expressly forbid these practices, but they go on regardless.

Does your camera match your blood type? Only in Japan…

But the Japanese, as a First World country, is not totally brain-damaged. One Japanese blood-type manual says in its closing pages:

“Your type, after all, is what you decide you are.”

* * *

Do you know your own blood type? Check out the chart below.

* * *

So what has all this blood-analysis faggotry got to do with charm bracelets?

Nothing.

It’s just a cheeky writing technique sometimes known as constructive digression in which one fact (blood-type charms) is used to lash together two seemingly unconnected subjects (charms vs. blood type) into a single story where those subjects would otherwise not normally come together.

But many stories and writings are like that, in print and online, all over the place, down through history. If you don’t think so, you’re obviously not paying enough attention to your reads — or that you’re concentrating on something else. Either way, you’re not reading what’s in front of your eyeballs, okay?

I hope you like the cheekiness of it all.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Blood-type charms via eBay ♥ Blood bag by Antonia Reeve at Science Photo Library ♥ ‘If there is no blood…’ via funz ♥ Sex Pistols button pin via eBay ♥ Cat sees lion in mirror via Let’s Think Big ♥ Carbon paper via Kishore Exports ♥ Blood-type cameras by Sushicam via Flickr ♥ Individuality demotivator via Drudge Report ♥ Blood frequency chart via InfoBarrel ♥ Thumbing nose from “Punch, or the London Charivari,” Volume 1, 17 July 1841 via Project Gutenberg.

Things to beguile the charmless (Part 1)

Saturday 3 December 2011, 5.21pm HKT


WORD NYMPH’s article “Charmed, I’m sure” has suitably inspired me to write about jewellery.

Charm bracelets — what else?

The Christmas/New Year/Hogmanay/boozing/cash-elimination holiday season is upon us. As Word Nymph points out in her article, charm bracelets have always been one of the most popular gifts to be had for any occasion. Very fetching they are too.

A vintage sterling silver charm bracelet with 45 charms, valued at US$450

PLUS POINT: INSTRUMENT OF REVENGE

A charm bracelet’s biggest plus point is that it’s going to be an heirloom for your descendants, who, in this day and age, are highly likely to turn out to be dogs, wogs and clogs  — who might just try to bump you off, get at the bracelet (and other baubles) and then flog it at the friendly local pawnshop for drug money.

But honestly, if you truly love your progeny, you really should leave something behind for them to convert into money for buying contraband. Did your ancestors leave anything for you to do that? There’s your answer.

Of course, your consolation is that future heirloom can become your instrument of revenge: what will be an instrument of revenue for your descendants, goes to prolong their drug-addled misery.

What it all means

Point blank, it means you’re loaded. The prices of those little dingly-danglies are not exactly to be sniffed at — which means you’d have to be ‘in the black’ in a serious way to own a charm bracelet with more than three of those buggers.

Now, on to a deeper, more cultured, more acculturated, more socioculturally meaningful meaning of owning (or wanting to own) a charm bracelet — regardless of your sex, mental condition and (importantly) bank balance.

(I’ll speak slowly since there are Ph.D.’s reading this.)

LOVE AND CONSIDERATION

In a way a charm bracelet encaptures the apparent thinking that must have went on behind the result. It shows your consideration for the person — that you actually cared enough about him or her (or yourself) to put the grey matter to work. (Or lack of, as the case may be.)

And since new charms become added to the bracelet from time to time to represent significant events in your life — remember that near-death experience from the drug overdose, or the Saturday Night Square-Up with transvetite goths at the local bordello pub? — the whole shebang grows along with you down through your sordid, drug-rotted years.

(People presumably grow with age in one way or another, though mileage may vary for some people.)

THE BACK STORY … IF YOU DON’T MIND THE EMBARRASSMENT

The vendor (where the above picture comes from) has a wonderful suggestion:

“My suggestion to you, if you know that your Mother or Grandmother has a Vintage Charm Bracelet — is to have [her] tell the story that [her] charm bracelet contains. And to have [her] do that in front of a video camera, this could be an incredible and easy way to gather and collect a part of her history, that might otherwise be lost.” (Link)

Of course, your mum’s or grandma’s back story could turn out icky. The charm bracelet could actually turn out to be payment for a bit of leg-over behind the steering wheel at the local park at night.

That’s because the thinking behind the charm bracelet can be a minus point too. Some of us (even most) have a talent for bungling the thinking department, resulting in some bizarre choices of charms, which don’t exactly advance the image of either the giver or the wearer.

Like, for instance, that time a friend of mine bought a rather unusual charm and bracelet for his whore girlfriend. Now, broadly speaking, an uncommon design means the item should worth a bob or two. Trouble was, my friend’s charm came in the shape of a satyr doing — how to say? — a cunning linguist act.

Yeah, viva la différence! and all that. Please, don’t go down that road just to be different.

An eclectic mix of 13 charms soldered onto the bracelet, including a spinning onyx and malachite set fob, articulated fish, and a large flexible skeleton

CAMELOT IS COSTALOT

Price can be a minus point too. Charms of fairly good quality and design aren’t expensive but they’re not cheap either (as you shall see in Parts 2, 3 and 4 of this story). Fortunately, you don’t have to buy one every year.

Not to put too fine a point on things, even an expensive charm probably costs a lot less than all the other bland, brain-damaged gifts combined that you had to buy for your ungrateful family and relatives for this holiday season.

Who makes the best charm bracelets?

TIFFANY vs. PANDORA

You could say Tiffany & Co. of New York City and Pandora A/S of Denmark are the Optimus Prime and Megatron of charm bracelet makers. (You decide which one is which.) Both companies are ‘the ultimate’ — they offer the most options of charms, bracelets and other doodads in different metals (silver, gold and platinum). Tiffany and Pandora charm bracelets are high class, high quality and high priced. But they great to have, and worth blackmailing people for.

Pandora bracelet with trollbeads

Pandora is perhaps best known for its twist on the classic charm bracelet. In year 2000, Pandora launched a line of bracelets that have a patented threading system that allows charms to be placed, added and rearranged easily and securely.

The basic Tiffany bracelet: highly recognisable, but highly counterfeited

Tiffany’s major problem is that its jewellery is one of most heavily counterfeited items in the world. Because most Tiffany jewellery is made in sterling silver, counterfeit Tiffs are not particularly expensive to fabricate, and further made more economical by the use of tin/silver alloys to give that platinum sheen so characteristic of Tiffany.

However, with a (genuine) Tiffany or Pandora on, you’ll never look cheap or ‘chav’ — you’ll invariably be seen as moneyed, if not anything else — though you could be laughed at as a moron if you wore their stuff ‘incorrectly.’

Tiffany and Pandora jewellery are not exactly easy wear. Both have a ‘pitch’ to them that makes it hard for most people to wear those baubles convincingly. It’s the same kind of deal with Ermenagildo Zegna and Hugo Boss suits, which are quite difficult for most men to wear well on the bod.

JUICY COUTURE

Juicy Couture (headquartered in Los Angeles) markets itself as a high-end but affordably priced clothing line aimed at the younger set. In North America and Europe, Juicy Couture is favoured by women in the 20-25 age band. In Asia, their customer base seems much older, around 25-40 — indeed, the tonier-looking bunch of 40- to 50-year-old women in mainland China would chance their looks on Juicy Couture once in a while.

I don’t know if Juicy Couture have charm bracelets, but I do know they have bracelets. (Not exactly a helpful observation, I know.)

CLAIRE’S AND ICING

Chances are, most Asians won’t have heard of Claire’s, Justice and Icing. These three store brands operate either wholly or mainly in North America, maybe with some European operations, but basically zero presence in Asia.

Claire’s is an accessory and jewellery retailer with 3,000 stores across 33 countries. Customer base is girls and young women. The company runs two store brands: the Claire’s brand itself and Icing.

Icing stores target young women between 19 and 28. Its merchandise has a higher price point and is more mature in flavour. Icing doesn’t offer licensed merchandise, so the stores carry less merchandise than most other branded storechains, and that helps it to create a less ‘overstuffed’ feel to customers.

The Claire’s brand is aimed at even younger females. Interestingly, Claire’s has done over 80 million ear piercings in its 25 years of operation, more than any other retailer has done.

JUSTICE

Justice is a brand of stores run by Tween Brands Inc. (previously Too Inc.). Justice sells clothes and lifestyle/personal care products at a value price aimed at girls age 9 to 14. Justice has no presence outside the USA, so it doesn’t count for the rest of us.

* * *

Continues in Part 2

One for the boys and what to get as a minimum

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Vintage charm bracelet with 45 charms via Fine Estate Sales ♦ Big skeleton charm bracelet via Welded-Bliss ♦ Pandora bracelet via shopenzed ♦ Tiffany bracelet via My Jewelry Planet.

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