Suspension of service.



'72家租客' (72 Tenants of Prosperity) trailer.

I confess, 72家租客 (72 Tenants of Prosperity) actually looks funny. Stupid, yes, but this is a Hong Kong comedy so that goes without saying. The movie is a quasi-remake of something out of the Shaw Brothers vault and features every TVB actor. They even add a few 'real' stars like Kelly Chen, Carina Lau, and Tony Leung Ka-Fai to give it a little extra New Year oomph. No small potato is left...um, uncooked.

Eric Tsang and Jacky Cheung (hooray!) face off as competing tenants on Hong Kong's Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mongkok. They've been at each other since a love triangle ruptured their friendship some 40 years ago. (Justin Lo and Raymond Lam, two of my favorites, portray the 1970s versions of Tsang and Cheung. If that isn't inspired casting, really, what is?) But with a new landlord wanting to squeeze the lot of them out, will these enemies unite and save Sai Yeung Choi Street? Will their animosity be ameliorated by their respective children's affections for each other? Will the acid attacker strike again? There's only one way to find out...and it happens on February 11.

News of the Day 1.28.10


    Sundance 2010.

    The Sundance chatter is swimming through the internets. Here's the limited lowdown.....

    Visit the official site for all the goods. There are links to every film, most with a picture or two and some with video and trailers. The Hollywood Reporter also has a page with headlines, features, reviews, and the ubiquitous Twitter feed. The Daily Beast guides you through their top 15.

    After trawling through the entries, here's what I think will likely be picked up and distributed to an art house cinema near you.
    • Blue Valentine (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) - As their marriage crumbles, a young couple try to revive the romance by revisiting the hotel that brought them together.
    • Mother & Child (Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits) - A mother reconnects with the daughter she gave up for adoption while a young woman seeks to adopt her first child.
    • Get Low (Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black) - It's the 1930s in ol' Tennessee and a hermit throws himself a funeral party.
    • Howl (James Franco, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels) - Well, Jon Hamm's in it; that's all you really need to know. (Okay, it's about Allen Ginsberg.)
    • Nowhere Boy (Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff, Thomas Sangster, David Threlfall) - John before Lennon.
    • The Runaways (Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning) - The Bella-turns-Joan-Jett biopic that everyone's been going on about for ages.
    • Welcome to the Rileys (James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, again) - A couple try to cope with their daughter's death, he by taking refuge with a teenage hooker.

    These might not see the light of day, at least in your local AMC, but they look compelling and noteworthy nonetheless.
    • Last Train Home - A documentary about China's migrant workers' journey back home for the New Year holiday.
    • The Little Dragon - Um, a dragon spirit is reincarnated into a rubber Bruce Lee toy.
    • The Red Chapel - A video chronicle of a comedy troupe's infiltration of North Korea.
    • Vegetarian - A film from the other side of Korea about a woman who withdraws from meat, and life.
    • A Small Act - Another documentary, this one about a Kenyan boy who actually got an education from those tv and mailer drives about donating a dollar a day to help some poor kid in Africa. Now he tries to return the favor.
    • Waiting for Superman - The film that asks: Is our children learning?

    My two special picks......
    I cannot lie; I am very excited about this Gurinder Chada film (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice, and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging) and for one simple reason - Sendhil Ramamurthy. Most will be familiar with his Heroes work, but understandably, a superhero show with no discernible plot is not everyone's cup o' tea, so I'm hoping that 100 rom-com minutes of Sendhil goodness can satisfy those who have been missing out. Sally Hawkins (Persuasion, Happy Go Lucky) also shares top billing and I admittedly am stoked about that as well. She makes my heart smile.

    Back in real life, however, I'm most looking forward to this documentary about...the Freedom Riders. In 1961, an integrated band of college students challenged America's Jim Crow laws by riding through the segregated South. They were bruised, bloodied, beaten, burned...just so everyone could ride a damn Greyhound to fucking Biloxi if they wanted. It's a film sure to find its way to the academic stacks more easily than to the cineplex, but as long as people are watching.

    BBC doppelgangers.

    Mixing my entertainment with my politics.

    So who is head of MI5 and who is editor for Newsweek? Every time Jonathan Alter appears as an analyst on the news, my television screams Harry Pearce (off Spooks). (Peter Firth, aka Sir Harry, is left; Jonathan Alter at right.)

    Secretary of State for Social Affairs Hugh Abbot is often up a shit creek without a paddle in The Thick of It. Alas, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has experienced the same whilst hiking the Appalachian Trail. (Chris Langham, aka Hugh the Abbot, is left; Mark Sanford at right.)

    News of the Day 1.26.10

    • 5 Hong Kong legislators resigned this morning in order to press for greater democratic freedoms. They hope the resulting by-elections will send a signal to Beijing that the territory is serious about full direct elections of members to the Legislative Council. Good luck and godspeed, but very unfortunately, this seems a losing battle. I fear the economic implications of rebuffing Beijing take precedence over democratic ideals for many in Hong Kong, but I hope I'm wrong. (Also Wall Street Journal.)
    • Cold weather kills Mongolia livestock. No joke. I'm not sure how often this happens, but my vacation plans were canceled one year for this very reason.
    • To be gay in China. On the heels of the recently canceled gay pageant in Shanghai, the BBC takes a deeper look at the challenges facing China's gay community.
    • Melamine scandal, part deux. Really, China, do you learn? Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm not a China hater, but news like this makes it hard to rationalize support for the government and sometimes the culture, specifically a top down social and political structure that breeds corruption - though I say this with full awareness that unscrupulous behavior penetrates every culture.
    • But.....credit where credit is due. China stages a star-studded gala to celebrate and promote wildlife conservation. Three cheers!
    • A push to increase essay writing in Korean cram schools because (gasp) writing actively engages the brain in ways that memorization do not. Take note, Asia.
    • The New York Times dissects the preponderance of Asian figure skaters. Frank Carroll, Michelle Kwan's coach, sees it this way. "It's like Chinese divers. If you look at those bodies, there's nothing there. They're just like nymphs." Sure, Frank. I'm a nymph and Donnie Yen's a sack of bones.
    • Since I'm on my Donnie Yen kick and not giving it up anytime soon, news from Pakistan that the country is seeing a surge of interest in kung fu, possibly to ward off the Taliban? Whatever works.
    • America's inexplicable love affair with the RV.
    • Real spooks and the real intelligence agencies that make them paranoid...or not.
    • Scarlett Johansson, or Ryan Reynolds's other half in my book, is commanding some very complimentary reviews of her Broadway performance of A View From the Bridge with Liev Schreiber.


    'Ip Man 2' peek.

    Wait, Donnie Yen and Huang Xiao Ming together, in one movie (and not some sprawling cinematic excuse to throw every Mainland and Hong Kong actor together for the purposes of buffeting Party popularity - I'm talking to you, Founding of a Republic (建國大業))? Yes, it is true, even though I'm late to the news. Ip Man 2 (葉問2:宗師傳奇) will star 2 of my now favorite people. This should be a decided step up for Mr. Huang whose last foray into the Hong Kong film industry was a little doozy called The Sniper (神鎗手), or more popularly 'Edison Chen's last (proper) movie'. Unfortunately, much of the press surrounding the release focused on Mr. Chen's sex scandal fallout, and the subsequent slicing and dicing of the film to minimize the budding photographer's screen time reduced it to a skeletal shoot em up number. Mr. Huang, however, seems to have a knack for prime roles, or he has a top agent. Aside from scoring substantial television parts that helped establish him as an upcoming star (particularly Return of the Condor Heroes (神鵰俠侶) and Shanghai Bund (新上海灘)), he also landed in Feng Xiaogang's sparse retelling of Hamlet. The Banquet (夜宴) featured international and art house favorites Zhang Ziyi and Ge You and L'Oreal Men spokeperson Daniel Wu. Not too shabby. So expect Ip Man 2 to rocket Huang further up the star ladder. Not only is it a much anticipated sequel to a popular and well-received movie, a young Bruce Lee will also feature in the story. Fans are already having wet dreams about this one.

    Fare thee well, Conan.

    Conan bowed out last Friday. I won't eulogize because the mountain of farewells have become somewhat morbid. But I did think he gave a sincere and moving speech. I particularly liked this. "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." Well said, Mr. O'Brien.

    And a final salvo to this late night ordeal...some perspective, historical and otherwise, from the singular Jimmy Kimmel.

    Limmer discovers Donnie Yen.

    "I will destroy you - and look like a fucking stud in my leather jacket."

    Why am I only now discovering Donnie Yen? (This is the reason.) If I had watched his movies when I was younger (though maybe not The Holy Virgin vs the Evil Dead), and if the ignorant kiddies hadn't pulled their puerile Karate Kid shit on me, maybe I would be on my way to being as kick ass as Donnie I-will-crush-you-and-sprinkle-you-on-my-cornflakes Yen. Alas, I opted for another Donnie, the Wahlberg variety, or rather his New Kids crew. There's no excuse really, but hey, they said they were hangin' tough.

    Donnie Yen, meanwhile, has earned his hardened credentials by mostly avoiding movies featuring EEG's galaxy of stars, Twins Effect II and Dragon Tiger Gate being hiccups. This probably explains why I haven't seen many of his films, which fail to achieve the high standards of moronic fluff to which I regularly subject myself. Mr. Yen just doesn't seem to hang with the My Wife is 18 and Dummy Mommy without a Baby crowd. Instead, he makes movies about hurting people. I added another to my collection tonight - SPL (殺破狼) - and may review it at some point, like when it's not 4a. But for now, one of the better fight scenes I've seen in awhile - a fierce, stripped down battle between Donnie Yen and Wu Jing. As a so-called skater, I feel there is something deeply seductive about artful, deft, and polished choreography, whether on the ice with blades at your feet or in some HK alleyway with blades in your hands.....Or maybe my admiration has something to do with the fact that Donnie Yen is smoking in black.

    Soler - 細味 MV.

    Update: Ahh, if I'd actually read the title of the video I originally posted, I would have realized it was the tv version. TVB is notorious for crap videos, usually of crap songs, though this is not the case. I thought the whole lamp-bed-paper bit was sparse and repetitive - pouty. Maybe a good match for Joey or Stephy but not for Soler. Anyway, here is the better version. Sound is not synced on this or any other upload but it's not too distracting.

    I may have posted this song before but not the MV. This is Soler's 細味. Not the most exciting video ever, but gorgeous song and gorgeous singers.


    News of the Day 1.25.10

    Julian Casablancas's '11th Dimension'.

    This was playing at HMV today. Love it.

    News of the Day 1.24.10

    • Just like clockwork, or even better than, today's story of Chinese scandal comes from the wide world of singing - so-called apparently. Two 'pop stars' must pay a load of money for lip synching, a punishable offense in China after the country was shamed in 2008 when they substituted a kid with crooked teeth for a kid who looked like she belonged in a beauty pageant during the Olympics opening ceremony. That's what you get for not singing.
    • In the real singing world, The Killers cancel their Asian tour. WTF? Wait, I don't even listen to this band. And I wouldn't go to their concert because tickets for foreign acts are out of control here.
    • A real WTF story. A Chinese dissident who participated in the 1989 Tiananmen protests is extradited to the Mainland - from Hong Kong - for crimes (false passport, fraud) supposedly committed in Hong Kong. The dude was traveling on a fake ID to visit his sick mother and was flagged in HK but is jailed and to be tried in Mainland? What the hell?
    • The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry contends that illegal downloading could turn countries into 'cultural deserts'. They cite Spain and the depressed Spanish music industry as an example. I say the Chinese music industry has been depressed for awhile.....except for Jay Chow and a handful of others who possess genuine musical skill.
    • The size of your brain may be the reason why you rock Halo or Grand Theft Auto, or why you suck.
    • The creepy crawlies at the very bottom of the world.
    • The Times: Boys who see porn more likely to harass girls.
    • In case you didn't already know, your 749 Facebook friends don't mean shite. Research once again shows that 150 meaningful relationships is about all we can process.
    • So why exactly are we beaming out information to track down extraterrestrial life?
    • The Times takes on The Last Station, about Tolstoy's relationship with his wife in his last years. The unrivaled cast includes Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, Anne-Marie Duff, James McAvoy, and Paul Giamatti.

    'X Factor', Jiangsu style with an English flavor.

    Mary-Jess Leaverland, a British student on study abroad, won Jiangsu's X Factor. Not bad. The only thing I won was a tutoring gig. One of the songs she sang was the theme from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Nice to see an actual singer with actual talent in China, even if she's there temporarily.

    A report (in Cantonese) from Apple Daily. There are singing bits.

    Coco Lee's original version of 月光爱人.


    Matthew Koon 'Got to Dance' audition and 'Billy Elliot' at the BAFTAs.

    Anatomy of a wasted evening, or how I went from listening to a Scott Mills podcast (BBC Radio1 DJ) to the Billy Elliot video.

    Scott Mills >> guests Adam Garcia and Ashley Banjo off reality dance competition Got to Dance >> Adam Garcia...hmm, cutie >> Ashley Banjo off of Diversity (dance team)...hmm, what does he look like? >> Diversity's final performance in Britain's Got Talent >> closer look at Ashley in Got to Dance auditions >> whoa, Chinese kid named Matthew Koon auditioning?! >> Matthew Koon is awesome, don't care about MM. Garcia and Banjo >> another Matthew Koon video on the youtube sidebar?! wait! Matthew singing Electricity - from Billy Elliot?! >> holy fuck, that's the same kid from Billy Elliot! >> Matthew singing my favorite song from the musical >> loads of Billy Elliots singing my favorite song from the musical at the BAFTAs to celebrate the award's 60th anniversary

    Alternatively, things could have gone like this:

    Scott Mills >> guests Adam Garcia and Ashley Banjo off reality dance competition Got to Dance >> Adam Garcia...hmm, cutie >> Adam Garcia as Fiyero in Wicked >> Taye Diggs as Fiyero in Wicked >> musicals...musicals...musicals

    Sad, M. Diggs's version of Dancing Through Life, the best in my opinion, got pulled. But here he is with his wife singing As Long as You're Mine. Sweet.

    One of my favorites. I've posted Heather Headley's Your Song tribute to Elton John for the Kennedy Center Honors in the past and it is supernatural. Ms. Headley joins Adam Pascal in Elaborate Lives from Aida.

    Patrick Wilson leads the Full Monty crew in a...full monty at the 2001 Tonys.


    News of the Day 1.22.10 (the mostly Asian edition)

    • Helllls no. This is turning into some Chinese corruption outing blog, not that I particularly mind. Another day, another scandal. This time, students caught cheating in a marathon. Yes, no arena is safe from the Chinese student. Okay, I'm sympathetic; the university entrance exam's a bitch, the whole system is skewed, you can't depend on a sibling to fulfill your parents' dreams. But really, I saw this scam on an episode of Monk.
    • The Chinese are taking over everything, including language instruction in American schools.
    • Latest from the Google-China death match. After Hillary Clinton's smackdown yesterday, China has responded: "The US has...insinuated that China restricts internet freedom. This runs contrary to the facts..." Yes, if those facts originate from the Twilight Zone. Yet the Chinese also want and need to tread lightly and The New York Times is reporting that the government is approaching it as a business rather than a political tete-a-tete. Some commentary on The Great Firewall and how it's evolved into a tool for other authoritarian regimes to restrict speech in their countries.
    • S-U-M-O.
    • After Australians offended Americans and engaged in a diplomatic row with India, it's only fair that the world return the favor. Now Aboriginals are crying foul over a Russian skating pair who have decided to pin their hope for Olympic glory on a so-called Aboriginal skating routine. Yes, their brown outfits are decorated with leaves and they will be death spiraling to whoops and 'rhythmic chanting'.
    • Closer to home, however, Senator Inhofe (R-OK) declares his unabashed support for racial profiling. Really, we wouldn't want one country to have a monopoly on racial controversy.
    • For news that won't induce heartburn and may help in other matters, yet more research has come out suggesting that loading up on Omega-3s will do oodles of good for your body. Running also increases the gray matter in your brain, and that sounds important.
    • Change your password.
    • A burger as 'wide as a birthday cake'. That spells love. And you can find the pljeskavica in the Balkans.
    • Will the real Jane Austen please stand up?

    Aziz Ansari's first Comedy Central special.

    This dude makes me laugh out loud. He's talking about chillin' with Kanye. There are recycled bits from late night interviews, like the later part about the face-off between Kanye and Ansari's cousin Darwish, but altogether good times.


    News of the Day 1.21.10

    • Egads. The chemical that makes non-stick cookware not stick and stain-resistant carpet not stain may be linked to thyroid disease.
    • Come on now, cricket in the U.S.? We haven't even mastered soccer yet. I think if any sport needs importing, it's rugby.
    • BBC retrospective on Obama magazine covers to mark the one year anniversary of his inaugural. Douchiest cover award - The Economist.
    • Italy considers kicking the kiddies out when they turn 18. That definitely wouldn't fly in Asia - nor a great many countries where everyone is now jobless and homeless.
    • A British reporter tries to wiggle her way out of eating shark's fin. Good luck.
    • Mexico's Cave of Crystals. Really cool.
    • Today's story of Chinese corruption comes from the footballing world.
    • Meanwhile, three cheers for Hillary Clinton for flipping the bird at Chinese internet censorship.
    • Peace, says the orangutan.
    • On the heels of Obama the Musical comes Spice Girls the Musical? More evidence that creativity in musical theatre is dead. (But I do love Viva Forever.)
    • Check out these fantastic pictures. Russians stage 19th century imperial hunt, with costumes on loan from a theatre company.
    • Fantastic! For those of us who can't make it to the UK, the National Trust has put 20 sites on Google's Street View, including Lyme Park, which doubled as Pemberley in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, and Fountains Abbey, where the History Boys got schooled...er, schooling.
    • Tim Burton is hit or miss with me, but I think I'll check out Alice in Wonderland when it tumbles down the bunny hole sometime this year. There's an early March release date in Europe which means nothing to me here. The Times has a supposedly exclusive sneak peek.
    • The New York Times dun gone and charged for access. Well, we knew this was coming. I'll miss the free fee, but hopefully I'll have a job by 2011 and can afford whatever they're charging.
    A fond farewell to Teddy Pendergrass who died last week.


    BAFTA nods, and a brief case against 'Avatar'.


    BAFTA nominations are out. (Full list.) An Education, the little British film that could, takes on Avatar, the big bad American studio blockbuster. Also on the list is the Iraq War drama, The Hurt Locker, otherwise known as this year's critical hit that no one has seen. Honestly, what's the release date on this puppy? I bitch because I'm in Hong Kong. Precious, however, is slated for a February release here. Excited about seeing Mo'Nique's performance because she's raking in the awards (Golden Globes last Sunday, BAFTA nomination today) as well as Paula Patton's because, well, she's gorgeous. The gem of the day though is In The Loop's nomination for Outstanding British Film. Will it lose to An Education? Probable, likely. But will a dreamy dip into the pastel-kissed world of a 1961 ingenue exercise your cursing skills or abdominal muscles the way this neurotic political satire will? For someone of the Stewart-Colbert generation - no.


    Some belated thoughts on Avatar.......I actually enjoyed it upon initial viewing, despite sitting two rows from the front. Maybe that was the problem. I was so close, I became cocooned in the movie's pronounced, and 3-D, liberal sensibilities. But as it goes, I soured with each award, and the nagging racial subtext that persists in Hollywood continues to bother me. Avatar is a billboard for progressive, anti-Bush politics, yet it clings to dated stereotypes that should have disappeared long before W.'s tenure. I don't take issue with the idea of an 'Other' transforming our (white) all-American ex-Marine hero into some tree-hugging peacenik. But must that Other take the form of a colored, literally, native people draped in dangly beads and strategically placed patches of animal skin? Must they engage in unintelligible chanting and swaying in order to emphasize their mystical union with nature? And must they all be voiced by actors of color? Typecasting doesn't disappear simply because the characters are blue and computer generated. The untamed liberal in me loves seeing the military industrial complex shat on by $237 million of Hollywood might, but golf claps until the industry stumbles into the 21st century and discovers that 'native' isn't a stand-in for all the peoples and cultures colonized by Euro-America. And can we please get a new model for casting our super summer blockbuster heroes? Why do they all look like this (and why are half of them Australian)?

    (Chris Hemsworth - Star Trek, Red Dawn; Chris Pine - Star Trek; Sam Worthington - Avatar, Terminator Salvation, Clash of the Titans; Garrett Hedlund - Tron Legacy)

    Conan skewers NBC...in 2006, and more commentary from Letterman and Carson.

    Looks like people foresaw the Conan-Leno debacle back in the day. In 2006, Howard Stern appeared on Conan's show and warned the host that Leno would never leave. Also that year, Conan hosted the 58th Emmy Awards, broadcast on NBC, and took the chance to bludgeon his network's miserable fortunes in a song and dance number. But even before that, signs of NBC's gross ineptitude were on full display during the last great late night war. In one of his last appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, Letterman plays diplomat and assures Carson that he bears no malice towards anyone for losing out on hosting duties. After all, he adds (~4.10), it wasn't as if the network gave Letterman the show and then took it back a week later. So the moral is...unless you're Leno, NBC will screw you.


    Anna-Louise Plowman and Christina Ricci look alike.

    Anna-Louise Plowman and Christina Ricci should play sisters, though I think Ms. Plowman is two heads taller. I saw some pictures of Christina Ricci today and kept wondering where I'd seen her lately. Nowhere, is the answer, but I'm watching Cambridge Spies, which explains where those eyes and chin keep popping up. They should get a project together though; Ms. Ricci always lands interesting indie films and that would at least rescue Toby Stephens's missus from the dreadful Holby City. I mention this because the ever-reliable Daily Mail article about Spooks that I keep referencing hinted that while the spy drama will likely get the boot, the ER-Grey's Anatomy wannabe is as sure as Leno staying on NBC.

    'FlashForward' crosses the ocean.

    After much anticipation - by myself - FlashForward finally debuted in Hong Kong last week. I didn't rewatch either episodes 1 or 2, but you can be sure I will sit tidy for episode 7. Unless I'm frantically finishing the thesis, which is the likelier scenario. Depending on whether the American side of things picks up again at the beginning or end of March, we may have a seamless transition to the second half of the season over here. I haven't trawled the message boards so I don't know if Hong Kong viewers are lapping this silliness up. But so far it's seeing slightly better numbers on the TVB version of iPlayer and Hulu, for whatever that's worth.

    Anyway, truth is, I just wanted to post a picture of Lee Thompson Young. But so I don't feel so childish, let me share the Taiwan promo poster, at least I think that's where this comes from. On its site, TVB is using the one with the yellow background.

    'Strike Back' promos.

    With news coming in today that Spooks might be on the outs, I've found some promos for Richard Armitage's new project to help ease the blues. Despite its uninspired title, Strike Back throws together an appealing cast. Joining Mr. Armitage are: Andrew Lincoln, the cutie from Love Actually who has the hots for Keira Knightly; Jodhi May, the chick who throws herself off the cliff in Last of the Mohicans; and Colin Salmon, the tall, dark and handsome one from James Bond movies...yeah, that one. It's a 6 part series and, according to IMDB, David Harewood will appear in 2 episodes; call it a Robin Hood reunion....Of course you can't really have a reunion with just two people though, which is why they brought in - Sir Toby Stephens! That's right, my favorite television over-emoter will be called on to chew up the scenery for 2 episodes.

    There's a tentative air date of April 2010, at which point I hope to have my thesis long behind me. Maybe I'll be in Laos if I'm lucky. In any case, not sure if I'll be able to catch it as the show will be rained down on us via Sky, a UK satellite station. Hmm, but a show about war, guns, soldiers...surely it will appeal to some fanboys out there who will help a sister out.

    Hope to see more, and longer, promos soon. The first one is 15 seconds of what looks like to be Richard's showreel from Ultimate Force and Spooks. The second clip has a brief intro with a presenter and then exactly 7 seconds of flashes - mostly Richard Armitage, some Andrew Lincoln, flak jackets, automatic weapons, big army boots, and a make out scene where Mr. Armitage is dutifully getting naked. Looks like a winner!

    News of the Day 1.20.10

    So that Obama! musical (actually, it's called Hope)......catch this preview. Looks like it'll win over the critics. Kind of like Obama's first year in office.


    China censor's target of the week: 'Avatar'.

    Oy vey. Avatar gets yanked from Mainland China's screens because the government thinks all the folks displaced by various development projects will draw parallels with the movie's blue people, leading to massive unrest and the Communist Party's downfall. Replacing the James Cameron hit will be a patriotic movie about Confucius, the man who taught the good Chinese people of the world to know their place. This sucks, China. And the freedom to write about the suckiness is one major reason why I'm glad I don't live there anymore.

    News of the Day 1.18.10 plus Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes.

    • Oh, those Cubs fans are at it again, thinking this year is the one where they take it all. Better luck next year, folks...or not.
    • Some are asking if a standardized test, in this case the MCAT, might not be the best or at least only way of selecting our future doctors.
    • The Japanese and their pampered pets. But it's not just the Japanese who are crazy, Hong Kong.
    • A short 3 minute clip about Miep Gies who died last week. She helped hide Anne Frank and her family and also kept Anne's diary after they were discovered and sent to concentration camps.
    • Mongolian president calls for a moratorium on the death penalty. Hooray! Maybe the U.S. can take a cue.
    • Survey finds that 25% of British students feel pushed into their major due to parental or family pressure.
    • Did Google employees in China assist in the security breaches that prompted the company to consider withdrawing?
    • Casper the bus-riding cat is now a friendly ghost. :(
    • We've done away with plastic bags, but now we have a mountain of reusable bags.
    • Wow, a no-pants subway ride - in Guangdong - to protest climate change!
    • Obama! the Musical. For once, this crazy idea is not coming out of America but Germany.
    Ricky Gervais hosted the 2010 Golden Globes Awards last night. Early reports cite mixed reviews, but I thought he was grand, well, the parts I caught on youtube. It seems that more of the negative reaction is coming from Hollywood insiders as the host didn't really moderate his attacks on the whole idea of movie and television stardom. He provided some sharp commentary as the "greatest people in the world" were honored last night.


    A few more random Hong Kong pictures.

    Filled up my SD card tonight so thought I'd unload some pictures. Just some random, and dated, shots from around town.

    Watching the Chinese New Year Parade on Nathan Road, the belly of the Tsim Sha Tsui beast.

    Approaching the TST Star Ferry pier, looking onto Central on Hong Kong Island.

    Evening awakens outside my apartment.

    A view of Central from Tsim Sha Tsui.

    News of the Day 1.17.10


    2 shots of PMQs to liven up my 5a.

    January 6, 2010

    January 13, 2010


    News of the Day 1.14.10


    News of the Day 1.13.10

    • Study finds green tea protects against lung cancer.
    • Google considers saying no to censorship and pulling out of China. China, meanwhile, scratches its head as the White House throws its support behind the search engine.
    • NYC cabbie returns loads of money and jewels to an old Italian granny, thereby restoring a sparkle of hope in the world.
    • 'Dinosaur huge' shark takes tourist off Cape Town.
    • Stonehenge makes 'most endangered' world wonders list.
    • Lamenting our pets.
    • Nikica, the little Montenegrin hippo that could, escapes submerged zoo and wanders amongst the people.
    • Monkey talk, in other animal kingdom news.
    • Bless. Gordon Brown knocks David Cameron over the airbrushed campaign poster during PMQs. Prime Minister's Questions, a weekly 30 minute installation where the British PM faces down the House of Commons, should be exported to America. We already steal our fair share of their television programming. Anyway, a certain Ms Palin might think twice about running for higher office in this case, and perhaps the public would be more inclined to elect politicians who can string together actual sentences.


    News of the Day 1.12.10

    And did The Times for real just run this picture of Gordon Brown and David Miliband?



      News of the Day 1.11.10

      FTW? Argh! Turns out the man arrested on suspicion of the Hong Kong acid attacks is not the acid attacker! So it remains...Acid Attacker 5, HK Police nil

      But in other news...

      PBS's 'Masterpiece Classic' Winter/Spring 2010 season.

      PBS's Masterpiece Classic (hosted by my favorite, Laura Linney) returns this week and it looks like a jolly lineup, or a typical evening in for me. I suppose when I move back to the States, so long as I have PBS - or it still has funding - and BBCAmerica, my television taste buds will be satiated. This season, US viewers can tuck into the following: a new dose of Cranford; the 2009 version of Emma starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller; the 2007 version of Northanger Abbey with Felicity Jones; the 2008 version of Persuasion - which I just watched again yesterday - starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones; the 2008 Christmas version of 39 Steps also starring RPJ; a couple installments of Colonel Sharpe's adventures; The Diary of Anne Frank; and finally Small Island, which aired just last month on the Beeb, with Ruth Wilson, Benedict Cumberbatch, and former Spook David Oyelowo. I also noticed a sidebar advertising last year's US premiere of Wallander, a 3 part adaption of the Swedish novels and films about a sad sack police officer trying to resolve his existence and not doing a stellar job of it. The British television version stars Kenneth Branagh, not speaking in iambic pentameter or rhyming couplets. Apparently PBS also snagged Endgame last year. Originally broadcast on Channel 4 and starring a pair of my favorites, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jonny Lee Miller, it's a movie about the end of South African apartheid, in particular the relationship between a university professor (William Hurt) and Thabo Mbeki (Ejiofor).

      Mom warns against British television.

      A message from my mum. "Don't stay up and watch those British things on your computer all night." Too late, Mum, too late.

      The second series of Being Human has hit the telly. I don't think I'll watch this season as I'm not into vampires, ghosts, and werewolves. But I may submit if the Russell Tovey (left) obsession takes over, or if I can't latch on to any other British show.

      Belated Christmas cheer.

      Here are a few snaps from the 2009 holiday season in Hong Kong. Not too many, but I'll try to post more of the city in the coming year.

      HSBC Building in Central

      The Landmark (upscale shopping) in Central


      News of the Day 1.10.10

      • Maybe the Beeb is doing it's part to lure tourists back to Hong Kong following the recent acid attacks in popular sightseeing districts. For whatever reason, it has a close-up of the former British colony's Mid-Levels Escalators, otherwise known as the longest covered outdoor escalator system in the world. Does Dubai have one...?
      • 2010 - Year of the E-Book. Not so, says 'real' book lover Lisa Jardine, writing for the BBC Magazine. She indulges in the art of books and book-reading, sans gadgetry.
      • An article about our big feet denial, that is, denying we have big feet. And by 'we', I mean most people except for me. Small feet aren't worth a damn when you can never find shoes the right size though. Which is why, I suppose, there are perks to spending time on the Asian continent.
      • An interesting case for food rationing, also from the BBC Magazine (lots of good stuff this weekend). I wouldn't be too opposed as my no-income budget has already plunged me into a rationing regimen. But after seeing my roommate and her boyfriend use up at least their 2nd full bottle of oil in just 4 months - while I've just reached the halfway point - I worry about the health of our nation, and the world! Oh, but no carrot popsicles, please.
      • The animal kingdom reacts to the cold. Iguanas are falling out of trees and turtles become floaties due to shock.
      • Guangzhou considers a point-system to curb anti-social behavior in public housing tenants. Officials aim to 'build a civilised, hygienic, safe and harmonious community environment.' One of the proposed penalties is for urinating in public. You gotta start somewhere.
      • Of course if you gotta take a wee, why not bring your snoring child to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea? Researches at the University of Chicago suggest that a urine test might keep your kid safe.
      • Female frogs inflate to avoid sex. That about says it all.