Saturday, January 25, 2014

Three Auditions part 4

I’ve been on what’s probably the weirdest audition of my life. It was for one of the movies – the one where the character speaks English. Since it was an English speaking part, there were a lot of foreigners trying out. There were so many white faces in the room, I almost forgot I was in Hong Kong for a minute. In Hong Kong, foreigner means white, so it was all white girls. That’s discrimination where I come from, but perfectly acceptable in Hong Kong.

It’s not just in acting. A black American can lose out on corporate and teaching jobs for not being white. Teachers are especially hired on how they look more than how well they can teach.

That’s all very normal in Hong Kong. The weird part was that they wanted all of us to read tongue twisters instead of lines. I guess they want an English speaker who sounds like Henry Higgins. That’s good news for me since I can do most of them – except “the sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick”. I practiced “she sells sea shells by the sea shore” a lot when I was a child. Peter Piper and the imaginary menagerie are just naturally easy.

It was still pretty weird to see all of these actors reciting tongue twisters instead of reading lines. I don’t know how that tells anyone about whether or not we can act. It’s like they were only testing us to see if we could speak English – according to their definition. A bunch of white Australians, Canadians and Americans probably know their native language.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekend in Fuzhou

I just got back from Fuzhou. Ryan came to Hong Kong for my birthday and Christmas so it was definitely my turn to go to him. I prefer it when he comes to me. Not just because it’s easier for me, but also because I’d rather be in Hong Kong than Fuzhou. There’s nothing really wrong with Fuzhou – it just isn’t my kind of town. Hong Kong has a lot more to offer.

As usual, we stayed in a hotel. We picked the Ramada Plaza because it’s close to the lake. Ramada hotels are never the best in the world, but this one was clean enough and didn’t look too old. A lot of hotels in China look like they were decorated by Chairman Mao. I don’t stay at a hotel based on its furniture – and I really don’t care what’s trendy and what isn’t – but if a hotel doesn’t bother to redecorate after 20 years then you know they’re not that interested in details. You definitely have to change the carpet every once in a while. Not because styles change, but because they wear out fast.

Our room was clean and not too small. The hotel had an indoor pool, but we didn’t use it. I rarely eat at hotel restaurants and this time was no exception. There’s food all over the place in Fuzhou – and most of it is cheaper and better than whatever the hotel has.

My only real complaint was the cigarette smoke. I’ve stayed in enough Chinese hotels to know there’s no such thing as a non-smoking room. At most, they’ll spray the room with disinfectant after a smoker checks out. Sometimes they won’t even do that. Some rooms claim to be non-smoking and some hotels say they have non-smoking floors, but that’s either just to stop people from complaining or it’s a rule that’s never enforced. You can smoke in any room you want. That’s great for smokers. Not so great for those of us who think cigarettes smell like shit.

I’m all for freedom and people have rights, of course, but what about my right to not have to breathe in poisonous smoke? It’s not like the lingering stink of some food I don’t like. It’s smoke. Smoke isn’t unhealthy the way cookies are unhealthy. Smoke is toxic. It will kill you. Why does someone’s right to kill themselves outweigh my right to live?

We complained about the smell of the room and they sprayed the hell out of it. That doesn’t take the poison out of the room – it just covers up one stink with another. Luckily we could open the windows. You can’t in some smoke hotels. By the end of the day the stink wasn’t so bad.

The room was very cold with the windows open, but not really cold at all with the windows shut. Fuzhou gets pretty cold in January, but it was ok inside the hotel.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Three Auditions part 3

My agent set up 3 auditions for me in November. The first one was for a TV series. I still haven’t heard back about that one. The other 2 are for movies.

I just did one of the two movie auditions I’ll be on this month. I think it went pretty well, but I’m up against a lot of other foreigners. Some of them looked like movie stars. Most of them didn’t. In Hong Kong, you never know if that’s good or bad. Sometimes they want us to look like whatever they think westerners look like. That’s based on whatever ideas are in their heads. One casting director once told me I didn’t look American enough. I don’t even know what that means.

This audition was for an American who can’t speak Chinese, but the movie is in Chinese, so the character speaks Chinese. They gave me lines written in Pinyin, which made it really easy to mispronounce the words. There are a lot of Chinese words that I can’t read, but I know even less Pinyin. None of that was a problem since they did that on purpose. They didn’t give it to us in Chinese because they were worried that if any of us could read Chinese, we’d say all the lines properly. With Pinyin, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get mistakes. Even if you do know Pinyin, whoever typed up the lines probably doesn’t, so it might not match whatever it’s supposed to mean anyway.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year, New Home

We’ve decided to move to a bigger apartment. When Kevin & Lily first moved into my apartment, it was supposed to be temporary. I didn’t want to live alone while Ryan was in China, so Lily came to live with me. Lily & Kevin didn’t want to be apart, so Kevin sometimes stayed at my apartment and sometimes stayed at their apartment. In the beginning, it was just me in my apartment full time with Kevin & Lily living there part time. That gradually changed as Lily stayed at my apartment more & more. Then Kevin started staying more often. Now we’re all at my apartment full time. It just makes sense to get a bigger apartment.

So now we’re looking at apartments. There are about a million options in Hong Kong. There are apartments everywhere. We just have to pick one. We obviously want 2 bedrooms, preferably 2 bathrooms. The problem is finding the right location. Lily & I work on Lantau. Kevin works in Wan Chai.

Kevin wants to get a place on Hong Kong Island. That’s not only closer to his work, but it’s also where most of the other foreigners are. Lily & I don’t want to be farther away from our work. We got a taste of what it’s like to go to work in 5 minutes while we were at that hotel in Discovery Bay. We don’t want an hour commute after that. Kowloon seems like the best compromise. As long as we’re near the MTR, it shouldn’t be too far from either of our jobs. I like the neighborhood we’re in now, but maybe it’s time to move on. There are a million different neighborhoods in Hong Kong and I haven’t experienced most of them.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year’s Eve 2014

There were a few choices of New Year’s Eve parties this year. Everybody had a party, but I couldn’t go to most of them. I had to work on the actual New Year’s Eve, so all the parties on that day were out. Kevin’s office had their party on Monday. Both Lily & I were available that night, so we went to that one.

Office New Year’s Eve parties aren’t usually that good. It’s a bunch of people who work together all getting a little drunk and trying not to embarrass themselves. Plus an office isn’t the best place to have a party.

This party was at the Langham Hotel. I guess Kevin’s company had a good year.

The Langham Hotel is a real luxury 5 star hotel. A lot of hotels claim to be 5 star – especially in places like China. I saw a hotel in China that couldn’t possibly be more than 2 stars calling itself 5 star. The Langham really is 5 star. It looks like a luxury hotel inside and out. The same company owns the Langham Place in Mong Kok – which I could walk to from my apartment – but the Langham Hotel is the original and very easy to get to by MTR.

Kevin’s company also booked some rooms at the hotel. Not for an office orgy but so people could stay the night if they got too tipsy and keep networking long after the party ended.

After the main party started to die down, some of us went up to one of the luxury suites. This was a very nice hotel room. I will never be able to afford a room like this. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. Even if I were a millionaire, I’d have a hard time justifying a room like this when I can easily stay in a normal room.

This hotel room was bigger than my apartment. It had all the stylish decorations you’d expect in a 5 star suite. Everything was in all the fashionable colors – whatever they are this week. This was the kind of room where presidents and rock stars stay. It wasn’t the presidential suite, but in a lesser hotel it easily could have been. We stayed in a very nice hotel for Christmas, but this suite was fancier. The bathtub could easily fit 4 or 5 people – but this wasn’t that kind of party.

We stayed up all night talking and drinking champagne. I’m not much of a champagne fan, but it was New Year’s Eve – or actually New Year’s Day by this point. The business people talked about business while the plus ones – or in my case, plus 2 – talked about everything else.

After the party, Kevin, Lily & I went back to our tiny box apartment. It was a far cry from that luxury suite.