Wednesday's New York Times broke the story of the grass-mud horse for most of us in the west only last Wednesday, but evidently it has been quite the rage in the land of Mao for a couple months now:
Since its first unheralded appearance in January on a Chinese Web page, the grass-mud horse has become nothing less than a phenomenon.
A YouTube children’s song about the beast has drawn nearly 1.4 million viewers. A grass-mud horse cartoon has logged a quarter million more views. A nature documentary on its habits attracted 180,000 more. Stores are selling grass-mud horse dolls. Chinese intellectuals are writing treatises on the grass-mud horse’s social importance. The story of the grass-mud horse’s struggle against the evil river crab has spread far and wide across the Chinese online community.
Not bad for a mythical creature whose name, in Chinese, sounds very much like an especially vile obscenity. Which is precisely the point.
A little Googling reveals the obscenity to be "fuck your mother," which adds Chinese to the list of 3 languages in which I can say the phrase. It's the only thing I can say in Vietnamese without mangling the accent to the point that the Vietnamese person has no idea what I'm trying to get out of my mouth. (It's kinda like doo-MAH-may. The key is to think of it as flowing like "your mamma")
Government computers scan Chinese cyberspace constantly, hunting for words and phrases that censors have dubbed inflammatory or seditious. When they find one, the offending blog or chat can be blocked within minutes.
China’s online population has always endured censorship, but the oversight increased markedly in December, after a pro-democracy movement led by highly regarded intellectuals, Charter 08, released an online petition calling for an end to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.
Shortly afterward, government censors began a campaign, ostensibly against Internet pornography and other forms of deviance. By mid-February, the government effort had shut down more than 1,900 Web sites and 250 blogs — not only overtly pornographic sites, but also online discussion forums, instant-message groups and even cellphone text messages in which political and other sensitive issues were broached.
It was against this background that the grass-mud horse and several mythical companions appeared in early January on the Chinese Internet portal Baidu. The creatures’ names, as written in Chinese, were innocent enough. But much as “bear” and “bare” have different meanings in English, their spoken names were double entendres with inarguably dirty second meanings.
So while “grass-mud horse” sounds like a nasty curse in Chinese, its written Chinese characters are completely different, and its meaning —taken literally — is benign. Thus the beast not only has dodged censors’ computers, but has also eluded the government’s own ban on so-called offensive behavior.
BBBWWWAAAAHHHAAAAHHHAAAAAA......if I were Chinese I would be so all over the grass-mud horse. Naturally, I told my staff about it first thing this morning. It's the kind of oddball thing they've come to expect to hear from the Drugmonkey. They're actually very good about putting up with my oddball stories.
Then I looked over a memo outlining my employer's newest "bonus" program. Those of you familiar with my employer know that it has its own unique definition of the word "bonus." Specifically, "a program designed with criteria that are known in advance to be unattainable, thereby allowing management to make rank and file employees feel bad about their job performance"
Or criteria that can be changed. The last "bonus" program involved prescription transfers. Until they decided, after the "bonus" period ended, that it involved prescription transfers and a heretofore unknown percentage growth in prescriptions filled as well.
And now they were back. Not only thinking we're dumb enough to fall for their shit again, but topping off the shit cake with a layer of condescending icing:
I'm paraphrasing here, but it went something like, "$250 isn't much to you pharmacists, but it can mean a lot to your technicians and cashiers, so you need to be not so callous and get with the program, because you're not being fair to them"
"Grass-mud horse (insert DM's name here)" I thought to myself as I wadded up the memo.
It was at that moment that I was hit with mud horse magic. I called an impromptu staff meeting to explain the new Drugmonkey bonus program.
My DM was right about something for the first time ever. When you're single and making Pharmacist bucks, $250 is tip change. That's why the next time I show up for work, I will be carrying an envelope with $300 real cash money inside. The first pharmacy staff member who can work the words "grass" "mud" and "horse" into a conversation with a customer, in that order, gets the envelope. Tax free. To make it interesting, I'll be playing along as well. If I can do it, the envelope goes back into my pocket.
Cynicism was replaced with hope, apathy with sincere effort. My new bonus program was the talk of the pill room this day. I am the best manager ever. All thanks to the grass-mud horse.
In Tagalog it's putang ina mo.