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 www.iqiyi.com. 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 ...

Big Hunan TV debut 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — OK, so I was only on screen for maybe 10 minutes — tops — sandwiched in between musical acts for a pre-Spring Festival concert extravaganza, but it was still a debut on provincial TV. And, get this, all of my lines were in Chinese! I learned them on the spot, with patient coaching from a Hunan Economic TV director (and of course promptly forgot them all by the following day). Here is the link to the on line version of the telecast last night. You will only be able to watch it if you are using Internet Explorer and only if you download a plugin for IE here. I have had no luck viewing the clip yet. Either it is not yet available, or my antiquated versions of Windows (2K Pro) and IE6 are not up to the task. When you load the first link, this is what you will see. I have labeled the appropriate buttons to click on to see the video. If any clever person can figure out how to capture this video stream and/or make it a YouTube video, let me know. I have people working on the task on this side of ...

Post-New Year’s update

JISHOU, HUNAN — My exams are marked, final grades are calculated, and I can now start my Winter Holiday! Phew! The campus is pretty empty right now. University students have four weeks’ break, officially, but many left for home as soon as possible after their last examination. Left on campus are a few exchange students, assorted graduate students with work still to submit, and faculty. In China, Spring Festival — celebrating the lunar New Year — is a big family affair, like Thanksgiving and Christmas are in the States. Imagine rolling Independence Day (fireworks), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve into one holiday, and you can begin to understand what a festive occasion awaits us here. With some time on my hands — finally — I can recap what has happened in the last several days since my last post. When we last left our hero, he was recovering from a long day in Fenghuang shooting for a TV show…. The following day, I helped make and eat dumplings at the home of a freshman student, Fu Xiao, whose father is a local government official. Fu Xiao and her friend, Tian Fang, another of my students, helped me buy a ...

The FengHuang trip, part one: Miao trek 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — It took nearly a month of waiting, but I finally visited the historic city of FengHuang, which is only an hour’s bus ride from here. Lack of travel papers, other commitments and bad weather prevented me from making the trip before, so when it seemed likely we would have decent weather, I made sure people knew I wanted to visit FengHuang, a town with a 1300-year history. Since my senior guides were otherwise occupied with such trivialities as trying to graduate, they convinced a cadre of my sophomores — ten in all — to escort me. Since some are local girls, one had a boyfriend whose buddy ran a tour service of sorts, and another’s uncle and aunt owned a comfy guest house right on the Tuojiang River in FengHuang. Some had been to FengHuang before, but others, like me, were first-timers. So, all in all, we had a lot of fun. A “FengHuang” is a Chinese phoenix, comprising both male (feng) and female (huang) aspects. The town of FengHuang developed from an earlier settlement that may have been a military encampment, to keep the troublesome Miao people at bay. The town moved to its present location ...

Teaser: what I did this weekend

JISHOU, HUNAN — I’m too tired right now to provide a detailed summary of my weekend trip to FengHuang, so I’m dropping two photos here as teasers. My guides on this trip were these ten fine young women from my sophomore Oral English class. We were in a cave leading to the Miao Village, a tourist destination, where I met a 105-year-old woman who in turn met her first American. Our base for the weekend was the historic town of FengHuang (now a small city catering to tourists). As it happened, there was a Miao couple getting married today, and these ladies were singing in advance of the ceremony. The Miao are another ethnic minority in China, and are also a mountain people like the Tujia. Way back when, Miao were bandits and generally a real pain in the ass for China’s emperors. In response to the Miao problem, the Han Chinese built the Southern Great Wall 500 years ago. Unlike its northern brother, the Southern Wall gets little press, but parts of it still stand in western Hunan. Miao women traditionally wear blue pants and tunics with embroidery on the cuffs. Older women also wear tall, black turban-like hats. ...

The orchestra comes to town

JISHOU, HUNAN — Tonight, my three student guides accompanied me to a concert by the China Philharmonic Orchestra (中国爱乐乐团), which came to Jishou especially for the university’s 50th anniversary celebration. It was terrific. They performed works by Beethoven, Strauss (“Emperor Waltz”), Bizet (“Overture to Carmen“) and other pieces I am ashamed to say I did not recognize, as well as Chinese melodies. The conductor spent some of the concert introducing the instruments to a packed audience. The musicians assisted in the lessons by playing short tunes on their instruments, ranging from Mozart to the theme from the movie Titanic and “If you’re happy and you know it.” The orchestra wants to expose more Chinese to Western orchestral music. From my perspective, they were doing an excellent job. The venue was one of the athletics facilities here, a field house used for both basketball and badminton (did I mention that badminton is big around here?). I expected the acoustics to be awful, but where we were sitting (left front center orchestra), the sound was great. I suspect we were shown to good seats because of me, but I cannot be sure. It was a bit sticky in there, however, since the ...
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