As I've grown older, I've found myself watching more and more documentaries. My latest binge has been, "The World at War". Despite being produced in the 1970s (with Laurence Olivier narrating!) it remains the best documentary series about the Second World War. With 26 hour-long episodes, it has taken a while to get through, but it's fascinating stuff and I've found the various WWII events I had heard of before have gradually been put into context and made more "real". Highly recommended.
A colleague at work was kind enough to find and download the first ten episodes of the new CGI "Thunderbirds are Go" TV show. Many of you will know I've always been a huge fan of all Gerry Anderson's programmes - collecting toys and annuals, attending conventions, etc. I was a bit concerned at first that the revamped show would lose some of the original's quirky and imaginative nature but I needn't have worried. They've taken the best of the original show and updated certain aspects which just add to the pleasure. The CGI effects are world-class and the characterisation and plots are so impressive for what is essentially a kids' show. JD also loves the Thunderbirds countdown to launch and all the explosions, which is a generational delight for me!
Sometimes it's not inaccuracy that's the problem with a translation, but too much accuracy! I've recently been watching the very last episodes of my favourite sci-fi show, "Fringe", online. When Olivia asks Peter, "How far to the house?" his vague reply is. "I'm guessing not more than a couple hundred yards". But the sub-titles have it as, "I'm guessing not more than 182.88 metres". Now that's some guess!
Q: How do you tell if someone is
Chinese within 10 seconds?
A: Ask them to use a paper clip...
...after watching my students struggle to work out how to clip some game cards back together for me yesterday, I realised that this is clearly not a skill taught in Chinese schools. The same is true of cutting shapes out of paper - the students usually hold the paper still and try to manoeuvre the scissors around (rather than the other way, which is far easier). Our school secretaries have also been known to staple exam papers together in the strangest of ways. I assume this is all because simple stationary skills are not considered "important for passing for the school exams"?
We had an earthquake here this morning. Nobody I know seems to have noticed. Kunming is overdue a big one, they say...
I was on apparently on TV yesterday. It seems to have been an old documentary which the station dusted down and gave a rerun. A few of our Chinese teachers caught it and mentioned it to me today, one saying "You are now an inspiration to me!". Hmmm. Makes me wonder what they thought of me before...
Some time ago, I was the subject of a Kunming television documentary. One of my students, Lily, recently spotted that it's been uploaded onto China's equivalent of YouTube. Although it's largely in Chinese, some of you might enjoy seeing pictures of me at work and at home. If so, click the button below...
I hosted my annual Eurovision party here last night, thanks to a DVD recording sent by my UK friend, Ratch. Only five friends and colleagues came this time, so we had plenty of food and drink to go around. None of us was particularly impressed with the Swedish winning song, "Euphoria", but then the UK entry was no better. We had most fun predicting (with some accuracy) the political voting of each nation!
Fellow teachers Monique and Peter (left) are moving to Morocco next month, so it was a chance to say goodbye to them. Jan and his wife (and fellow teacher) Juvy, in the centre, are having a baby later in the year, so they'll return to the Philippines for that. And our Australian teacher Ross, and French teacher Manou, both left a few weeks ago, too. So there's a big turnaround of foreign staff next term, Emily (right) is a local, so at least I'll see her again. Ma-in-law made dumplings and then headed for bed. Jiajia was working until late and arrived just as everyone was leaving. A fun evening all the same.
I roused myself at 3am this morning to watch England v Sweden on our brand new flat screen TV (a late gift for Ava's birthday plus shared early wedding anniversary present). As time ticked down (seen on our new wall clock) England were a goal down and I feared the worst. But a late brace of goals gave us a 3 v 2 win and ensured I'll be having at least one more stressful early morning next week.
The Chinese Government have recently been throwing their weight around in the TV programming schedules, cancelling any "low-brow" entertainment shows which were proving too popular (Chinese X-factor was pulled mid-series), banning foreign imports in prime-time viewing (mostly Korean and Hong Kong shows anyway) and insisting on more uplifting and harmonious themes. They say it is to improve the morals of their citizens, though others suggest it is more to do with controlling the news and increasing patriotism in this year of significant leadership changes. One programme which is thriving though, is "Interviews before Execution". Prisoners about to get shot get a final opportunity to tell the public where they went wrong and encourage them to be model citizens. But unlike X-factor there's no "voting off" the worst (or best) criminals. Shame!
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