Someday, kid, you’re gonna be a star!

Someday, kid, you're gonna be a star!
JISHOU, HUNAN — So, I’ve been a little busy these last three weeks. Classes started just two days after I arrived, then the freshmen started two weeks later, doubling my class hours. Oh, and then I was asked to act in a movie. Before you all get too excited, this is probably not a movie you’ll see in America, on TV, the theaters or DVD. It’s what they call in China a “micro-movie” — a 45-minute teleplay for the web only. In fact, it’s half a promotion for the local tourism scene and half a comedy-romance. Two weeks ago, my foreign affairs officer Cyril Hu called me to ask if I had time to appear in a movie about Xiangxi, the prefecture of which Jishou is the capital. I agreed, figuring it would be a one-day TV thing, no big deal. Then I met the director, 陈晓曦 Chen XiaoXi, and a few members of his crew, all from Beijing. His assistant, Xiao Hong, and one of my seniors, Li Dongling, served as interpreters. I was to be a foreigner who comes here looking for the “empress of Xiangxi.” It would not be a speaking part, and I would have to ...

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 ...

New Year’s Day in Fenghuang 4

JISHOU, HUNAN — I closed the old year in good spirits, but started the new year irritated at needing to suddenly change my plans for Jan. 1, 2009. By the end of the first day of the New Year, however, the irritation was gone. I was exhausted, but ebullient and quite content. New Year’s Eve I spent with some of my former Oral English students. Kasurly (that’s her English name) met me to go shopping at the supermarket that afternoon. We have become cooking buddies, so we made dinner for ourselves while we awaited her seven roommates to come watch a big concert on my TV. Around 9 or so, my Ukrainian neighbors invited me up for another dinner they were making with one of my present students, Jen. So I left the gaggle of freshmen to watch their TV program, and hung out with the girls upstairs. Denis, the husband of a Ukrainian voice teacher, came up later, and we all shared his brandy. Then the concert girls came up to toast the New Year before they had to scurry back to their dorm after curfew. Originally, my plans for New Year’s Day were to spend the afternoon making ...
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