HK indie dystopian film outperforms Star Wars VII on opening night, disappears

HK indie dystopian film outperforms <em>Star Wars VII</em> on opening night, disappears
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH, MALAYSIA — An independent film set in a dystopian Hong Kong of 2025 opened last month, and outsold the latest Star Wars episode. Then, it quickly disappeared from theatres, probably because it’s very critical of the mainland government. Ten Years (十年 shi nian) consists of five shorts, all set ten years in the future, when Cantonese has been outlawed and an oppressive government rules with 1984-like efficiency. One short depicts the self-immolation of a protester, which has been a common form of protest on the mainland by Tibetan and other dissidents. There’s no evidence the Beijing government has banned the film in Hong Kong. But its disappearance may be a form of “self-censorship” by theatre operators unwilling to deal with government censors. Links for further information: CNN Jan. 20 Radio Free Asia Feb. 10 Wikipedia entry Filmmakers’ interview with HK magazine TimeOut

The Atlantic Monthly fails Science 101, #FlatEarth ers rejoice

<em>The Atlantic Monthly</em> fails Science 101, #FlatEarth ers rejoice
GEORGE TOWN, PENANG, MALAYSIA — There is just so much wrong about a science writer equating “fringe science” with real science in a major magazine that I feel compelled to write a response. I know, I should be writing about my wonderful vacation trip instead of grousing about an essay praising science cranks for their creativity and inquisitive spirit, but Lizzie Wade’s essay in The Atlantic Monthly, “In Defense of Flat Earthers,” just irritates the crap out of me. It bothers me because Wade, whose background as a science writer seems pretty solid, gets all touchy-feely, New-Agey and says fringe scientists are just so adorable, trying to make sense of the world in their cockeyed ways. Why, they’re just like real scientists! No, they are not. I will explain why momentarily. Even more annoying is Wade’s response to criticism that she’s fundamentally missed the boat on what science is and does. She tweeted this rejoinder to one such complaint: It’s not my job to promote science or encourage people to become scientists. — Lizzie Wade (@lizzie_wade) January 28, 2016 What in blue blazes do you think your job is, Lizzie Wade? A science writer shuld be writing about science, ...

BBC travel correspondent visits Fenghuang (video)

JISHOU, HUNAN — I get excited when I see familiar scenes from my “neighborhood” on the Internet. Fenghuang is about 45 minutes from here, and has become a very popular stop for tourists looking for picturesque views of ancient China. Here’s the link to the page in case the video isn’t working. The young lady he’s talking to, Wu Ling, is dressed in the traditional wedding garb of the Miao minority. It’s for tourism reasons. Miao girls don’t ordinarily walk around with five pounds of silver on their heads.

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts
In a move sure to upset both Uniqlo’s PR department and China’s overanxious censors, several entrepreneurs are selling T-shirts commemorating the now-famous Uniqlo sex video. The video, which was shot by a young couple in a Beijing clothing store fitting room, hit the Internet last week and has sent China’s censors scrambling to wipe it off the Internet and Uniqlo spokesmen to deny the company had any part in the activity. Beijing police have arrested five people, including the couple, they say were involved in the video. The couple are both university students, although it remains to be seen how long that status will last. Following up on something I read in The Guardian, I visited and found several merchants marketing T-shirts ranging in price from 28.80 RMB ($4.60) — shown at left — to a princely 85.00 RMB ($13.78) for one with a hand drawn picture. Here’s a selection. This one omits the racy photograph and merely says: “Tonight, I’m in SanLiTun [shopping district] Uniqlo, waiting for you. PS: You’re not allowed to bring your cellphone!” Also 28.80 RMB. This one is 78.80 RMB ($12.50) and just plain ugly. I’m not sure if the man is hairy or ...

Beijing police arrest five people in connection with Uniqlo sex video

Note: Google AdSense required me to remove the image that accompanied this post. UPDATE: I missed the CNN International report from Hong Kong yesterday. I’ve added details from that below. China’s censors are not amused at all by the video of a young couple having sex in a Uniqlo fitting room. Beijing police have arrested five people in connection with the video, which went viral on Chinese social media last week. The five include the couple and three others, all but one unnamed by officials. Police have identified the bespectacled man in the video a 19-year-old university student, surnamed Sun. This report (in Chinese), identifies the couple as two students at Beijing Art University, complete with their Sina Weibo handles, but not their real names. The couple apparently made the video in April at a Beijing Uniqlo store, and shared it with their friends. One of the friends then shared it on Tencent’s WeChat, and it quickly went viral before censors pulled it off. Police are also looking for the person who uploaded the video, and state authorities are admonishing officials of China’s two social media giants, Tencent and Sina, for allowing the video online, as well as investigating whether ...

Beijing couple’s changing room sex video goes viral, censors busy

Beijing couple's changing room sex video goes viral, censors busy
Speaking of censors, Google AdSense has requested the photograph which had accompanied this post be removed. So, I have complied. You can see a different version offsite here, however. JISHOU, HUNAN — An adventurous Beijing couple filmed themselves Tuesday making love in a Uniqlo clothing store changing room, and posted the video to their social media accounts. You can predict what happened next. It went viral. And China’s censors have been working overtime trying to keep the 1m20s video off the Internet. Now that it’s on the BitTorrent network (where I found it), they have no hope of stamping it out. The government has condemned the video as being contrary to “core socialist values,” which apparently preclude having sex in changing rooms, or posting sex videos, or something. Meanwhile, Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing brand, has denied it played any role in promoting the video as a marketing ploy. It has raised its, um, visibility in the market, though. More details at The Guardian.

America had The Dress, China has duang!

America had The Dress, China has duang!
While the rest of the world was debating the colors of The Dress, people in China were busy popularizing a new word: duang. Jackie Chan may have been the first to coin the word, but he used it as a sound effect, like “Boing!” in English. Chan used it during a commercial for a shampoo he endorses, saying it “Duang! Made my hair thick and fluffy!” The word has gained a new meaning that’s gone quickly viral in the last few days. It now means something like “digital effects,” i.e., not real. There’s even a viral video spoofing the original commercial by editing it to seem as if Chan is rapping lyrics. Tóu fa 头发, by the way, means “hair.” Why the sudden popularity? It’s hard to say, but it’s probably because of duang’s association with Chan. His son, Jaycee, recently served time for drug offenses. And the “all natural” shampoo Chan extols in the ad is alleged to contain artificial ingredients and chemicals. Plus, Chan, a Hong Kong native, has publicly criticized his birthplace for being too wild and free. Many of his critics believe Chan dissed Hong Kong so he could make movies more easily on the more ...

Filipina domestic worker wins prestigious prize for Hong Kong photos

Filipina domestic worker wins prestigious prize for Hong Kong photos
CHANGSHA, HUNAN — Xyza Cruz Bacani, 27, a domestic worker in Hong Kong, has won a 2015 Human Rights Fellowship with the Magnum Foundation, which will allow her to study for six weeks at New York University, reports. Another winner is Xiao Muyi, 23, a photographer for Tencent News. She’s worked for Reuters, as well. Bacani works for a wealthy Chinese family in Hong Kong. She borrowed money from her employers to buy a Nikon D90 (good choice, Xyza!), and on her off hours, captures stunning black and white images of HK street life. She hopes to use the fellowship to further human rights in her home country, the Philippines. For more details about Bacani, check out this New York Times Lens Blog profile of her. Here’s one of her photos. More can be seen at Petapixel and the NY Times Lens Blog.

As promised, here’s my Chinese movie debut

As promised, here's my Chinese movie debut
JISHOU, HUNAN — Back in September, I was recruited to play a part in a Chinese web movie, Fall in Love at First Sight 2 (一次性爱上2 yī cì xìng aì shàng 2). The romantic comedy was released to VIP (paying) web users last month, and as of today, is free for anyone to watch online. For various reasons, I cannot embed the movie here. So, I’m hoping that you’ll be able to watch it by clicking on this link There will probably be some commercials at the beginning. They’ll be in Chinese, but the movie is subtitled in Mandarin and English. In it, I play a famous American music producer, Mr Jason, who has come to Xiangxi Prefecture in order to find the Drum Queen, whom he had seen a decade earlier. (The subtitles refer to her throughout as the Drum King, a mistake in translation.) He has come back in hopes of signing her to a record deal. By chance, he runs into a young couple, who manage to unite him with the Drum Queen while also cultivating their own budding romance. It’s a sequel to a 2013 web movie, Fall Love at First Sight (一次性爱上). In the ...

Changsha anesthesiologist uses cartoons to talk to deaf mother

[Via] A Changsha, Hunan, anesthesiologist has become something of an Internet hero after cartoons he drew to communicate with a deaf patient circulated in social media. Yao Xiang, 25, of the Hunan Disabled Soldier’s Hospital 湖南省荣军医院 (Hunan Sheng RongJun YiYuan) , doesn’t know sign language, but he needed to communicate with the patient, an expectant mother undergoing a C-section. So, he drew cartoons like the one below. Yao said he began drawing when he was a kid.

North Koreans liken Obama to ‘monkey in rainforest’

JISHOU, HUNAN — Pissed that American officials, including President Barack Obama, accused it of hacking Sony’s computer systems, North Korean struck back this week, calling Obama “a monkey in a rainforest.” Another blogger, the infamous Chuck C. Johnson of, claims that the slur was not a slur, but a compliment. because reasons. He claims the remark as reported by the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, refers to an idiom, “Even monkeys fall from trees.” 심지어 원숭이는 나무에서 가을 The idiom means even experts can be wrong, or humans are infallible. I’m calling bullshit on this revisionism. The actual words as reported in Korean media are 열대수림 속에 서식하는 원숭이 which translates as “monkey that lives in a tropical forest,” which as far as I can tell is not an idiom. English reports of the North Korean remark have interpreted it correctly, as we might expect. I should confess that I don’t speak or understand Korean. Neither does Chuck Johnson. But I went to Korean language news agencies to find the original remark and their use of it. None referenced an idiomatic meaning, but quoted it verbatim. To me, this suggests it was intended a racial slur, or an ...

He is a most peculiar man

JISHOU, HUNAN — In the strange virtual society that is the Internet, there are celebrities, both major and minor. Some are famous people in the “meat world” — George Takei, for instance — and others have carved out a niche mostly in the virtual world. Take for example, the blogger, Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson, proprietor and main instigator of a “news” website and a seemingly never-ending stream of tweets that range from self-congratulatory paeans to his many godlike attributes to cheap antagonistic slams of victims of various crimes like rape or murder. To get a taste of Johnson’s prodigious output, take a look at my Tweet-based Dossier on him. I started the dossier mostly to record his assertions of Supreme Godhood, but it’s nearly become obsolete, as several other websites, including The New York Times, have picked up on the infamous Mr Johnson and some of the more, um, colorful escapades of his 26 years on this Earth. The storm surge that breached the levee was Johnson’s attempt to besmirch “Jackie,” the pseudonymous subject of a Rolling Stone article about her rape while a student at the University of Virginia. Johnson’s apparent raison d’etre is to ruin the credibility of ...
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