The romantic and exciting life of an actor

I like following actors’ Instagram feeds, because they provide a glimpse into the ever romantic and exciting lives of the stars. For example, here is Emilia Clarke, who plays the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. Rain?! One is not amused…. now where are ones waterproof dragons when one needs them. #thiswigneedsalilmorecrownsandalillesswaterproofplasticheadgear #goodthingthiskweenknowshowtoposeintheraineh? 😎🙆👍 A photo posted by @emilia_clarke on Oct 7, 2016 at 10:29am PDT When we last left Daenerys, she, her dragons and a huge fleet were sailing to Westeros. They must have run into some bad weather.

‘Papa, where are we going?’ — ‘Off the air, kiddo’

'Papa, where are we going?' -- 'Off the air, kiddo'
In their never-ending quest to make China’s airwaves wholesome, socialist and by the way thoroughly boring, China’s media censors have set down a new rule: no more shows featuring children of celebrities, like Kimi at right. The new edict effectively kills one of China’s most popular programs, Hunan Satellite TV’s 爸爸去哪儿 (Bàba qù nǎ’r? — Where Are We Going, Daddy?), which features celebrity fathers and their adorable children as they visit various rural places in China, get lost, play games and eat local food. Kimi Lin (aka 小小志), 7, was one of them. He and his father, Jimmy Lin ZhiYing 林志颖, appeared in the first season. Jimmy is a Taiwanese actor, singer and race car driver, and his wife, Chen RouYi 陈若仪, is a Taiwanese actress and model. Kimi, incidentally, was born in California. The show has since had two more seasons, with a different team of parents and kids each time, and has inspired two feature films. But now it’s off the air, because China’s media police, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), declared that TV programming should not glorify celebrities over more humble people, and should not propel innocent children into the public ...

I have Western TV again!

I have Western TV again!
JISHOU, HUNAN — China would not be at the top of anyone’s list of entertaining television. The Chinese government strictly limits consumer access to Chinese cable and satellite TV channels, which offer a staid variety of historical dramas, reality shows, moralistic soapies and news programs — all of which must pass inspection by government censors. Foreign channels, like the BBC, CNN or HBO, are usually only available at big-city hotels that cater to foreigners. Police patrol residential areas to ensure no one has an illegal satellite dish pointing in the wrong direction. For an expat, this situation meant your only access to Western TV was through the computer, either by downloading programs or catching the rare streaming website that doesn’t black out China. (I’m looking at you, Hulu!) But, as of last month, this expat now has access to more than 200 international TV channels, because I bought an Internet settop box marketed by A2SATV. The provider also offers several hundred free TV channels from all over the world. The box with a year’s subscription to the premium package cost about $145, and subscription renewals are about $50 a year. The box runs Android, and comes with two USB ports, ...

China’s TV ‘police’ pull plug on commercials during period dramas

JISHOU, HUNAN — China’s TV networks are saturated with historical dramas, with settings ranging from the Tang Dynasty to the Japanese Occupation and the Communist Revolution. They are surprisingly popular among viewers, but, as in the West, the Internet (free movies!) beckons to those tired of the same old same old. So, China’s version of the FCC has mandated that, beginning Jan. 1, costume dramas will no longer be interrupted by commercials, which are often as dully repetitive as the shows they sponsor. The hope, apparently, is that viewers will sit glued to their sets and not wander away to watch Hong Kong and Korean soapies, Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, or, worse yet, read the news about China from abroad. The ban on commercials follows another directive a few months ago to eliminate American Idol-like talent contests like Super Girl and Super Boy, which have been much more popular than the state-approved “ain’t we great?” period pieces. [Speaking of the Super Boy show, one of my juniors was a contestant last year, but was eliminated finally. If you want to check his singing out, here’s a link of him learning he advanced to the next round and singing, “Any Man ...

Odds’n’ends

JISHOU, HUNAN — I had some time on my hands recently, so I spent it tweaking the website. I’ve joined the China Blog Network, and you’ll see a widget linking to it in the right sidebar. One blog I’ve been spending time reading is Wok With Me, Baby, a cooking blog written by an ex-pat in Shanghai who cooks Western-style food with mostly locally available ingredients. Her chili recipe looks good. I found a cool world map widget that shows visitors’ locations. I saw it at Respectful Insolence, a medical blog by the sharp-tongued skeptical Orac. Although I already have a Clustrmap, the spinning globe was too cool to pass up. The Status Update plug-in doesn’t seem to be updating my Facebook status, but I’m not going to sweat it until Nov. 22, when FB shuts off RSS feeds to FB Notes. I’ve already discovered that tweets can be fed to FB status lines. We had our first English Corner of the new school year today. A big crowd of mostly freshmen, who for some reason seem younger (several 17-year-olds among my students) and more geographically diverse than before. I’ve met several students from Xinjiang, in the far west of ...

Peter Falk, “Lt. Colombo,” 1927-2011

My family knows I am a sucker for cop shows. I confess to a short-term addiction to Law & Order, especially the ones with the late Jerry Orbach in them. But, long before the L&O franchise took over cable TV, I had another favorite cop show, about a quirky police detective named Columbo, who seemed like he was perpetually half-asleep, but in the end, always solved the crime. Peter Falk, who died yesterday at 83, made Columbo the icon that he is. TV detectives and cops come and go, but Falk’s Columbo was as distinctive as Sherlock Holmes. A squinty-eyed look (Falk had a glass eye), a rumpled trench coat (from Falk’s own closet), a beat-up old car (a ’59 Peugeot convertible), a half-smoked cigar and a distinct New York accent (the show was set in LA) all made Columbo a stand-out among TV’s cookie-cutter sleuths. Falk didn’t create the character, but he breathed life into it. A masterful actor, he once explained his character as an anti-heroic Sherlock. “Columbo has a genuine mistiness about him. It seems to hang in the air . . . [and] he’s capable of being distracted. . . . Columbo is an ass-backwards Sherlock ...
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