Saturday, March 29, 2014

Talk of the town

Singer/composer Gao Xiaosong is the host of Morning Call
In 2012 Chinese talk show personality Da Peng became a sensation in the United States. Why? Because Conan O’Brien called him out for copying the opening sequence of his own nightly show. O’Brien took revenge by mimicking some of the sillier antics of the Chinese host, whose show is called Da Peng Debade.

But there’s rarely such a thing as bad publicity in the entertainment world. The ‘feud’ with Conan has made Da Peng a hit at home. His weekly talk show, which is only available online on Sohu, has picked up a huge following, and his programme, now in its seventh season, can boast almost 580 million views.

More generally, the internet has given Chinese talk shows a major boost. Traditionally, these shows have followed a similar format to those in the West, featuring a mix of interviews with celebrities and games involving the studio audience. Comedian Zhou Libo, who hosts the popular Mr Zhou Live Show, also seems to have taken his cue from late-night talk show personalities like David Letterman and Jay Leno.

“The talk show is not that simple. [To be successful,] it requires a host with an interesting personality, a TV station that is courageous enough to broadcast it and a community of TV viewers that is open-minded,” Zhang Yang, a former Shaanxi TV talk show host, told Beijing Youth Daily.

But when you are trying to do something a bit less formulaic, more receptive audiences are more likely to be found online, it seems. In fact, one talk show is so popular in that format that a regional satellite TV station has even purchased the rights to bring it to television.

Gao Xiaosong’s Xiao Shuo got its start on the internet two years ago. Against a simple studio backdrop, the show largely involves Gao talking to camera while he fans himself like an ancient poet. That may not sound the most exciting format, but the first two seasons of his weekly programme have been viewed over 400 million times on the online video site Youku, which also produces the series. China’s Variety named it the best original programming online last year. Zhejiang Satellite TV then purchased the TV rights and started airing it on primetime.

Initial expectations for Xiao Shuo weren’t stellar. For a start, Gao, 45, is not the most obvious choice as a host. With his goatee and long hair, he is better known as a musician (although he had appeared previously as a guest judge for reality singing competitions like Super Girl and China’s Got Talent). He has also dabbled in filmmaking and grabbed the headlines in 2011 for drunk-driving.

But as it turns out, Gao is rather well versed on a range of subjects from history to pop culture and sports. With his quick humour and swift analysis, he tackles a different issue every week. In a recent episode, he discussed the life of Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara, for instance. In another, he talked about the uncompromising work ethic of the Japanese.

The host, who has lived in the US, also likes to decode American behaviour for his Chinese audience. In an early episode, Gao explains why it was such a struggle for Washington to roll out healthcare reforms. “I once watched a debate between some important Congressmen on TV,” he recalls. “One of their arguments: ‘Why should we – people who work hard and pay our taxes – pay more taxes for those people who eat a lot and don’t exercise so that they can have health insurance?’” Read more,please go to Week in China.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Super Shrimp Ball Soup

I think it was two weeks ago when I prepared for the dinner. I had no idea what type of soup I should make. I checked the refrigerator and found plenty of shrimp in there. So I got an idea-how about shrimp ball soup?
You may try at home too, it's absolutely delicious! And really simple to make!

Hands-on Time: 10mins | Total 25mins | Serves 2-3

15 peeled and deveined large shrimp,grounded
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pieces cilantro,roughly chopped
1 egg white

black pepper
sesame oil
2 cups of water

1. In a medium bowl, mix shrimp, ginger, cooking wine, salt, cilantro and egg white together
2. Heat a pot of water,wait for water to boil
3. Add shrimp balls one by one quickly
4. When the water boils again, add a little bit fresh grounded black pepper, sesame oil, and salt(to taste)

Now, you can enjoy the delicious soup!

 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

C. T. Hsia, Who Brought Chinese Literature to the West

C. T. Hsia (Hsia Chih-tsing), a scholar who helped introduce modern Chinese literature to the West in the 1960s, providing close analysis and the first English translations of writers who are now widely recognized, died on Dec. 29,2013 in Manhattan, where he taught at Columbia University for three decades. He was 92.

Dr. Hsia (pronounced shah) arrived in the United States in 1947 with a plan to study English literature and then return to China to teach it. By 1951 he had earned his doctorate at Yale, writing his thesis on the realist poet George Crabbe.

But while Dr. Hsia was studying in the United States, Mao Zedong was settling into power in China and purging the country of dissent and Western influences. Dr. Hsia decided to stay in America.

Unable to find a job teaching English, he joined a Korean War propaganda project, overseen by Johns Hopkins University, to help write a manual on China. The research took him deep into a topic he had largely ignored as an ambitious undergraduate in Shanghai: Chinese literature. In 1961 he produced his seminal work, “A History of Modern Chinese Fiction, 1917-1957.”

In 662 pages, the book offered extended English translations of novels that he then discussed using close textual analysis.

“It’s a singular work,” said Wei Shang, who teaches premodern Chinese literature at Columbia. “He was the first to write the literary history so that other scholars have something to rely on. Although they may disagree with him, they cannot ignore him.”

To his critics, Dr. Hsia was improperly using Western standards to judge works produced in an ancient Asian nation. And the new canon of Chinese literature he sought to create, they said, was limited by his political biases. Why, they asked, was he so dismissive of the leftists who supported the rise of Communism? Why did he pay so little attention to Lu Xun, considered by many the father of modern Chinese literature and much admired by Mao? Why so much praise for Eileen Chang, a largely nonpolitical and relatively low-profile writer at the time?

“He ignores the fact that new China is not just an unfortunate accident but the reckoning of history,” A. C. Scott, a China scholar working at Columbia, wrote in The New York Times in 1961, though he called the book “a helpful guide.”

But the book was undeniably influential. Dr. Hsia had essentially helped create a new academic field. He was hired to teach at Columbia that same year.

Dr. Hsia, colorful and contentious, did not back down from critics. He argued that Chinese writers suffered from an “obsession with China” and that they did not embrace universal human concerns that transcend China’s borders.

Ms. Chang, who wrote “The Rice-Sprout Song,” “Naked Earth” and other novels, was dismissed by some as a pulpy romance novelist. (She died in 1995.) Dr. Hsia admired her partly because she focused on themes of everyday life without taking political stands.

“That was truly a radical judgment by any standard, and yet the next 40 years saw Eileen Chang rise to the highest highs,” said David Der-wei Wang, a professor of Chinese literature at Harvard whom Dr. Hsia mentored. “Everybody loves Eileen Chang nowadays.”

Hsia Chih-tsing was born on Jan. 11, 1921, in what was then a modest section of Shanghai. His father, Ta-tung, was a banker before the Communist takeover in 1949. Dr. Hsia and his older brother, Tsi-an, both became interested in English literature when they were teenagers. Dr. Hsia graduated from Hujiang University in 1942 and taught at Peking University before receiving a grant to study at Yale.

After “A History of Modern Chinese Fiction,” Mr. Hsia went on to write other influential books, including, in 1968, “The Classic Chinese Novel.” He also wrote essays about Chinese poems, plays and prose from beyond the modern area that was his specialty.

Much of his work was banned in China for decades. A heavily abridged version of his first book was published in mainland China in the mid-1990s. Learn more at The New York Times.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Do Brands Need a Chinese-Language Address on Web?

Most of China's internet is in Chinese, but URLs aren't.
To the average Chinese consumer, McDonald's brand name isn't "McDonald's" -- it's 麦当劳. But internet users there must still navigate to the mcdonalds.com.cn web address, a cumbersome process for non-English speakers. 

Though China's fast-expanding internet is largely in Chinese, most URLs remain stubbornly stuck in Roman lettering, a holdover from the internet's English-language origins. Now change is afoot, but it's unclear how big the impact will be for brands.

Most of China's internet is in Chinese, but URLs aren't. Most of China's internet is in Chinese, but URLs aren't.

ICANN, the agency in charge of internet addresses, is rolling out a host of new gTLDs -- what comes after the dot in a web address -- beyond standards like .com and .org. Some are in foreign languages, including Chinese, making it easier for brands to have fully Chinese-language URLs.

Why would that matter?

Proponents say matching a brand's URL with its Chinese name will boost search-engine optimization, and that it's just good sense in a market where stakes are so high. About 591 million Chinese people are online, which is just 44% of the population, meaning there's lots of room for growth.

"Internationalizing domain names will help Chinese customers and internet users identify the brands they are familiar with," said Zheng Song, head of China for ICANN. It will also reduce phishing, he said. When URLs use Roman type, Chinese users are more susceptible to scams guiding them to a phony bank or e-commerce site trying to snatch personal information.

Many Chinese-language gTLDs are to debut in early 2014. A few foreign companies, such as L'Oréal and Volkswagen, have sought gTLDs to match their Chinese brand names. Amazon bid for suffixes in several Asian languages, while Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba wanted .alibaba in English.

Steep price
The application price for a new gTLD is a steep $185,000, and so far ICANN has only received 72 applications for Chinese-language suffixes. Read more,please go to Adage.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ladies From Shanghai

Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement is a tale of three women, connected by personal rebellion, betrayal, and a mysterious painting called "The Valley of Amazement."  As with all of Tan's novels, we are swept into the pivotal moments of Shanghai's history and the emotional turmoil of mothers and daughters, heritage and individuality, race and culture, ​and the damaging residue of secrets that lead to misunderstanding upon misunderstanding, from one generation to the next.  Lulu, Violet, and Flora, each of a different racial mix and status, must question what is fated from birth, where they belong, and what they can still change.

 The story opens in 1905, in a first-class courtesan house in Shanghai, Hidden Jade Path, run by Lulu Minturn, an American woman with Yankee ingenuity and an unknown past. Her daughter, Violet, is unaware of the identity of her father, until she is left behind in Shanghai during the exodus of Americans when the Qing Dynasty falls. Sold into a courtesan house of low repute, fourteen-year-old Violet is groomed as the "virgin courtesan," a fate she resists, until she meets an older courtesan, Magic Gourd, who counsels her on the stupidity of clinging to American pride. She teaches her errant student how to be a popular courtesan who flourishes with business cunning and a practical assortment of tricks of the trade.  In the world of flowers, Violet matches illusions to each man's romantic sense of himself, while avoiding the greatest peril a courtesan faces: believing that the illusion of love she has created is real.


Amy Tan by Rick Smolan
For the next two decades, Violet takes us on a careening journey steered by self-will, reckless desires, and clear-eyed resolve. That pursuit takes us into the boudoirs of courtesan houses and the homes of Western sojourners and opportunists, who have made the International Settlement in Shanghai their fiefdom during the boom years of foreign trade.  An older, more resigned Violet leaves Shanghai to become a poet’s wife in a murky hamlet that lies in the shadows of five impassable ​mountains.  Across an ocean, in San Francisco, Lulu reflects on impetuous decisions that led to tragedy.  She recalls her lonely girlhood, the shocking behavior of her father, and the moment she first saw the painting of "The Valley of Amazement"--as well as its beguiling painter​.  A long-awaited letter, passed from hand to hand, finally reaches Lulu and she goes to the bucolic Hudson River Valley, the inspiration for the painting, and also where lies and truth can finally be unearthed.

   Ultimately, this is a story of the many hard facets of love that underlie fragile hope and the near impossibility of forgiveness--territory that Tan hones with characteristic humor, insight, and poignant truth. Read more at Amy Tan's website.