Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bon Voyage

Just so you know…

I am leaving today for a three-week trip to the Far East. I’ll be in Beijing for the Chinese New Year (counting ours and the Jewish one – my third New Years this year). Among my other stops will be Seoul, Korea (which I can write off as research for MASH), Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan, several stops in Japan, and Tokyo (where I’ll inquire if any Japanese baseball teams need a play-by-play announcer).

I will continue to post something new each day I’m away, including Friday Questions. No, I’m not going to China to sit in a hotel room writing blog posts. I have prepared and scheduled them already. So fair warning, nothing is time sensitive. Note to any public figure I really admire: Don’t die. I won’t be able to write a tribute.  There have been enough this past week to last the entire year.

So what about my annual Oscar review?  I have something special planned.  Check in.  

I’m not sure that I’ll be able to access my blog in China. It might be blocked. 

On the other hand, it’ll be a nice vacation not having to write my blog.

But like I said, I’ve done my homework, and I think I’ve got some pretty cool posts coming up during my absence. I remember when Johnny Carson would take a vacation from THE TONIGHT SHOW he’d get a guest host to substitute for him. His two main go-to people were Joan Rivers and Bill Cosby, so neither of those options will work. Best to just do it myself.

Now I’m going to ask your help on something. If I’m not allowed access to the blog it means I can’t monitor the comments. So I’m going to leave it up to you guys to play nice with each other. No going off on some political thread that leads to insults and bad feelings. Remember, this is a humor blog. We’re here to have fun.  I should be able to read them via email, but I might not be able to get in to delete any.   Eventually, I will. Don’t make me delete yours. Thank you.

Also.  Any dining suggestions for Beijing, Dalian, Seoul, Shanghai, Xiamen, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Taipei, Kagoshima, Kyoto, or Tokyo? 

I’ll miss you all, but I’ve got to get out of town. Since hosting on TCM I’ve just been mobbed everywhere I go. It’ll be nice to not have to sign autographs every five seconds. I will come back with many stories I’m sure. And if you’re in one of these places and can get the blog, just know I’ll be coming. Let me know if I can make a legal right turn on a red light in your country.

61 comments:

Oat Willie said...

urrrghh...Klassic Ken...

Scooter Schechtman said...

Bon V Ken. Next week TCM is showing "The Goodbye Girl". Will it be with your old introduction?

Matt said...

If you have an extra day in Korea, which you probably don't, I would recommend going up to Freedom Village on the DMZ. I think they give tours, though I could be wrong. I was in the military when I went. Added bonus you will get to see what Sports Illustrated called the Worlds Most Dangerous golf course. It is a par three hole a general had built. If you hit into the rough you didn't go get your ball for fear of land mines. Those have now been cleared.

It is very interesting.

If you can't do that there used to be a cool bar in the military district called the Reggae Bar.

norm said...

Say do you suppose Ken was spinning the late L. Gore records when she made her hits?

Mark P. said...

Have you been to Korea before? What do they think of MASH?

MikeK.Pa. said...

I hear there are some great Chinese restaurants in Beijing. Try the Peking Duck, or is it Beijing Duck now? Also, when in Korea ask for the dog-free menu.

A. Partridge said...

Don't get roped in to seeing "Bangkok Lady-Boys".

Paul said...

Ken,

I recommend trying Okonomiyaki when you're in Japan. It's not your typical Japanese food. It's a combination pancake/pizza. I had a really great one in Kyoto: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g298564-d3867528-Reviews-Mr_Young_Men-Kyoto_Kyoto_Prefecture_Kinki.html

Give it a shot.

jcs said...

Have fun. You might want to buy some Japanese greeting cards and stationery if you get the chance. The artwork and materials are often amazing.

Anonymous said...

Before you go, buy a decent camera for god's sake! Get a camera that shoots in RAW format. You can make your photographer kid fix them up for you when you get back. Don't go to faraway lands with a crappy camera! You'll thank yourself later.

Julian Brown said...

ken,

if yr goin to tai chung and need to watch american sports, go to the early bird diner. they broadcast them both in real time and timeshifted. go to 'the factory' for excellent coffee. i also recommend driving south thru the mountains to the beach in the south.

if yr goin to hong kong, take the 15 min. ferry across to the other side of town. beuatiful ride. modern art museum is great.

daniel in cherry hill said...

do you know what they call Chinese food in China? Jewish food?

Mike Botula said...

Ah Jeez! I suppose I have to spend the new few weeks learning Mandarin so I'll be able to understand all those Chinese stories you'll be blogging. "Buon Viaggio," Ken. Your fans will be waiting when you get back.

Pat Reeder said...

We just got back from three weeks in India and Dubai, where my wife was singing and shooting a video for one of her songs. I was surprised at how many web pages were blocked in the United Arab Emirates, even in a five-star hotel in a place as sophisticated as Dubai. It's not just sites with nudity or sexual content. Any sites that had been deemed hostile to Islam or too pro-Jewish were blocked by the government. The good (and amazing) news was that I could still access your blog, despite your name being Levine.

Dan Wolfe said...

Sounds like a blast! Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Safe travels!

cd1515 said...

It is funny how the talkshow guest host seems to have gone away.
Is it because the regular hosts are worried that the next guy might be better (and cheaper)?

Wayne said...

Best of luck on your travels, Ken.
When you're breathing Beijing air, you may actually miss the clear brown skies of L.A.

Igor said...

Two words: Sloman Shield

Two more words: À bientôt!

Jeff Maxwell said...

The food in Seoul can be spicy and delicious. But they have options beyond chicken or beef. It's helpful to know the difference between Bulgogi and Kegogi. The latter is very popular in the US, but needs to be walked twice a day.

Todd Everett said...

So you landed that interview with Kim Jung-Il?

Zhou said...

Since many months now (even up to three years as I study) I have been absent from my country. Happy times will be yours there so enjoy. I have read this blog continually and the television programming to which the referrals are made. Thank you.

Dave L said...

Bummer! I was looking forward to reading your reaction to everyone else's reaction to Chevy Chase's barely tolerated appearance on the SNL reunion.

Jack said...

When I was in Kyoto everyone said to have the tofu. I was kinda indifferent but everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

In Korea, try the Korean BBQ and make sure you have some Soju while you are there.

In China, buy some meat on a stick from a random sidewalk vendor with a grill on his bicycle or similar setup.

Cap'n Bob said...

In Taipei, stop in at the Top Hat Bar and mention my name. Ask for Miss Corina. You'll thank me.

Anonymous said...

I'll take names of who doesn't behave while you're gone.

Allan V said...

Enjoy, Ken --- you've earned it!

Mike said...

@Cap'n Bob: I believe that is now Grandmother Corina and she can no longer perform the trick with the ping-pong balls.

Brian said...

Any thoughts on the SNL 40th anniversary special?

Roseann said...

I hope Anthony Bourdain reads your blog. He'll have some dining suggestions.

Richard. Rothrock said...

Have fun, Ken! I was never actually in China but I was stationed with a mobile medical unit next country over during the Korean War. No, wait….that was M*A*S*H. I actually was in China once but had to take a long journey overland with my father from Venice along the Silk Road. No, wait…..that was Marco Polo. But I was in Shanghai once on assignment from MI6. No, wait, that was Skyfall. Geez, I need to get out more……..

chuckcd said...

Have a great time! Be careful in China, there are muggers around the bus areas.

Richard Y said...

Safe journey!!

Charles H. Bryan said...

You're some kind of rogue spy, aren't you? I always sort of suspected as much.

Have a great trip! I look forward to your travelogue! Let us know if you get to see the nursery where our iPhones are born.

Ken Levine said...

I didn't watch the SNL show. Have spent 40 years watching mostly unfunny sketches. The great moments and sketches I can see on YouTube. Didn't need to see Carson Daly interview Chevy Chase. Was it good?

Ron Rettig said...

Wouldn't take out from the Formosa Cafe with side trips to China Town be less expensive?

mmryan314 said...

I thought SNL 40 was three hours too long. The 30 minutes that I did like included: Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David,Jane Curtin, Will Ferrell, Betty White, Paul Simon,Andy Samberg, Adam Sandler.

Ed Dempsey said...

Safe travels and looking forward to the stories you bring home.

Barry Traylor said...

Have a fun and safe trip. That said my advice is to skip North Korea and eating any Fugu in Japan.

DBenson said...

I'd be very interested in hearing if "MASH" is shown in Korea, and what they think of it.

metrocard said...

I'm infinitely more interested in the travelogues than Friday questions that "may" be a week or two stale. I suspect this is going to be gold. Happy travels!

Anonymous said...

So basically you're saved posts will have a mean joke about someone, and they will drop dead.

DC said...

Have a great time. I loved my time in China. If you're not too terrified of "street vendor food", I recommend what my friends and I called "crunchy-omelet". Once again, have a great time.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

Unfortunately, all the best Chinese restaurants are in Vancouver.

Anonymous said...

Ken Said:

"Didn't need to see Carson Daly interview Chevy Chase. Was it good?"

Chevy is over 300 pounds, has a slight head shake problem, and his voice is gone. He looked like he was willing himself to function. I'm so glad my cocaine use, back in the day, was limited. Seems like heavy coke users only make it into their sixties, if they're lucky.
Too bad. In my opinion, it's one of the greatest drugs ever invented, aside from the hardcore addiction, heart damage, brain damage, and the unrelenting destruction of everything you love.
Keep off the coke, kids!!

Hamid said...

Have a great trip, Ken. If you're unable to access the site while in China or other sites, use a VPN to bypass the blocks:
http://www.greycoder.com/best-vpn-china/

A friend who's been to Japan said the charcoal ice cream is amazing. I'm taking her at her word.

Also, in China, you'll be shocked when you see children squatting to take a number 2 on the side of the road. It's disgusting but ingrained in Chinese culture.

Zachariah said...

Kaohsiung! I lived there for a while (teaching English of course, a career option enjoyed by would-be writers for many years). Well, I hope you like Chinese food.

If you want the authentic local experience, don't be afraid of street vendor food. I never got sick once. Just stop your car (or scooter, for extra native style points) and buy something (though if really want to eat like a native, pop into one of the ten thousand 7-11 stores and grab a fish stick from the simmering pots on the counter).

You've got to have a hor gwor (hot pot) meal, which is where your ingredients are delivered raw and you cook them yourself on the table. Fish balls, mushrooms, eggs, whatever you want, basically - it all gets chucked in.

It's a sea port town (one of the biggest commercial ports in the world) and fish is everywhere. I never had a bad meal. You really can't go wrong. If you are pining for Western food, drop in at Bagel Bagel and if it's a drink you're after, a Belgian ex-pat set up a pub ('Belgium Daddy' I think) which has all the beers a man could possibly want.

And if you see an unfeasibly tall Englishman called Lee Knight, tell him Michael says hi.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Ken spends an hour with Jeanine Kasun and Stu Shostak on an episode of her online show, "Baby Boomer Favorites." The episode is about Ken's radio days, with songs and actual air check excerpts.

The show can be downloaded here:
http://www.stusshow.com/
now through 2/28.

This has been an unpaid, unpolitical announcement.

Greg Ehrbar said...

One more thing --

Ken, while you're in China, could you stop by the birthplace of Jayne Meadows in Wuchang?

She and her sister Audrey were born there, but Jayne often mentioned being "bawwhn in Chy-nah" much more often on game shows, talk shows and on Steve's many programs. When we visit Epcot's China pavilion, we enjoy decades-long tradition of mentioning it that spans generations in our family.

Steve also mentioned it in his mystery novels, in which Steve and Jayne traveled the world fighting crime and attending glittering social events.

VP81955 said...

Jeff Maxwell said...

The food in Seoul can be spicy and delicious.


Ken knows. He's been to 3rd and Normandie.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Ken, be adventurous, but not too adventurous. Especially in China. I know from experience they don't like it when you venture a little too far off the beaten path.

GOOD LUCK!!

Alan C said...

Just looked up "Open All Night" on IMDB. Bubba Smith was a regular! How did I miss that?

Charles H. Bryan said...

On SNL40: It was mostly what you might have expected, but at one point Jerry Seinfeld was on the stage doing a little bit (he was one of two Brian Williams joke-makers) and he called out to Larry David who was in the seats with all of the other guests of honor. After Jerry mentioned "changes in the media landscape" would probably prevent a success like SEINFELD today, he said to Larry "It's like you and me got the last two tickets to Disneyland before it burned to the ground". Larry agreed, and smiled the smile that half-a-billion dollars can elicit. Didn't have much to do with SNL, which might have been the point.

TIME has a summary and a YouTube link. http://time.com/3710711/snl-40-jerry-seinfeld-larry-david-dakota-johnson-brian-williams/

ronzy2 said...

Take a tour of the old Jewish section of Shanhai.

Buttermilk Sky said...

We're finally getting new episodes of THE GOOD WIFE and you're leaving the country?

Good safe trip anyway.

Johnny Walker said...

Ha! Somehow missed this post. Bon Voyage indeed! I can't believe you went to all the effort to organize three week's worth of posts while you were away... We're very blessed. A lesser mortal would have simply run repeats. After all that work no wonder you need a vacation.

Have a great time!

kent said...

In Beijing: BEI JING QUAN JU DE PING NEN,"Roast Duck Restaurant".
The atmosphere is good and the food great but be sure to save room for the roast duck. It comes last and is outstanding. (Bring your camera for the dragons and the big rubber ducky).

In Hong Kong: JUMBO FLOATING RESTAURANT. A fun experience starting with a short ride on a modified Junk to get to it.

Jon said...

In Japan, it is illegal to make a right turn on red, very illegal. It's also illegal to make a left turn on red.

Kagoshima is famous for black haired pigs. Kyoto is famous for tofu skin (yuba), but also very traditional Japanese style cooking. They also have some of my favourite souvenirs called yatsuhashi, I enjoy both the hard and soft kinds.

In Tokyo you will find any sort of food you want, there is so much variety it's often difficult to choose a place to eat.

Enjoy your trip!

Kkachi said...

@DBenson @MarkP

Koreans hate MASH because it makes them look poor. (Yes, they were poor, but they are very sensitive to criticism and don't want to look bad.)

There used to be a terrestrial channel for US military called the American Forces Korea Network that showed American programming. They showed MASH until the Korean government formally asked them to take it off the schedule in the early 1990s.

Kkachi said...

Also, not food, but if Ken goes to the USO near Namyeong Station in Seoul, he can see the signed pictures and plaque that David Ogden Steiers, Larry Linville and Harry Morgan (I think) presented when they visited Korea for the closing of the last MASH unit in 1997.

Johnny Walker said...

Interesting stuff about MASH and Korea. Here's a newspaper article going into a little more detail in 1987:

http://news.google.com/newspaper

"The Korean government felt the program portrayed the Korea as a backward, subservient, war-torn country.£

Kkachii said...

@Johnny Walker

Interesting article. The idea is correct and still happens. A few weeks ago a ruling party spokesman here told a group of foreign journalists “the world sees South Korea through your eyes. The more good news reported by you, the better the image of our country and the higher the national status.”

Still, I think I remember seeing MASH on AFKN in the early 90s as overnight filler.