Monday, September 19, 2016

Moon Festival 2016

The weather was pretty good over the weekend. Typhoon Meranti was a big one, but it didn't hit any land directly until it slammed into Xiamen. By then, it was weaker and didn't cause nearly as much damage as it could have. Typhoon Malakas didn't come anywhere close to Hong Kong. It curved around Taiwan and headed toward Japan.

Some people in Taiwan had a pretty wet Moon Festival, but skies were clear enough around here to watch all the lanterns set off over the ocean. I've watched countless lanterns float away from Clear Water Bay and Victoria Harbour over the years, but I'm still not used to it. There is no comparable experience where I come from.

The most important part about the Moon Festival, of course, is having a party. It's a big day for family barbecues, but for those of us without family in town, it's a day for friends. We had a party at the big house with friends, friends of friends and people I've never seen before in my life.

One of those people asked me out on a date. I already had a second date with Harry lined up, so I told this new guy to give me his number and I'd get back to him. I'm sure he thought I was brushing him off, but I'm not at all comfortable going out with one guy while I'm more or less going out with another.

I haven't seen Harry since our first date back in July, but we've talked on the phone a few times. Neither of us is opposed to a second date, but we both seem too busy to really have any kind of dating life. I've only had 3 dates in the last 4 months, or last 16 months if you want to get technical. They were all first dates, so they were more like job interviews than spending time with anyone. My second date with Harry will be later this week, if we can both keep our schedules.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Big House 2016

Every year, generally at the end of summer/beginning of autumn, Kevin's boss takes a vacation and leaves town for about a month. He has a beautiful house overlooking the South China Sea at Clear Water Bay. To keep burglars away, water the plants and “not let the maid get tempted”, Kevin looks after the house. His boss might not be the nicest guy in the world, and there's probably more than a little race and/or class prejudice toward the maid, but it's no great hardship to live in a 4 bedroom house on a cliff near the ocean for a month.

Kevin, Lily and I all started staying there when we lived in tiny 1 bedroom box apartments. Now that we live in a decent sized apartment with enough room for everyone, we don't really need to stay at the big house. But we do anyway. It's a really nice house. We don't need the space, but the kitchen has everything and there's a large outdoor deck overlooking the ocean. Best of all, the house has a swimming pool.

Hong Kong has dozens of public swimming pools spread out all over the city. Hong Kongers definitely love to swim. They also love to treat their pools like toilets. It's as disgusting as it sounds. The first time I saw a mother hold her young son's penis while he stood on the ledge of the pool and let loose in the water, I was horrified. The first time I saw an adult man do something even worse, I knew I would never go back to a public pool ever again.

The swimming pool at the Clear Water Bay house is completely private. That means it is clean and will remain clean. I plan on using it every day. I'm sure Lily and Kevin will use it as much as they want. We might invite a few people over to use it as well. I guarantee that none of us will treat it like a toilet.

Today is the beginning of the Moon Festival. Tomorrow is the official holiday. It's also Friday, and we're at the house, so we're having a party. That pool deck is a pretty good place to host a dozen friends. The view is amazing and spilling alcohol outdoors never hurt anyone. There's a typhoon headed our way, but it's not supposed to hit Hong Kong. We'll have to wait and see how it affects the lanterns.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hong Kong Elections

Hong Kong held elections last week, almost two years after the big umbrella protests. A lot of people were expecting some big changes. The protests brought out huge crowds and pretty much shut down parts of Admiralty for longer than Beijing wanted the world to know. In the end, it really didn't make much difference.

The pro-Beijing parties lost 3 seats. But the pro-democracy parties also lost 3 seats. The smaller anti-establishment parties got a few seats, which some called a great victory, but they mostly never had any before this election, so they had nowhere to go but up. I read an article about how ironic it was that the anti-establishment parties did so well when the pro-democracy candidates who believe in pretty much the same things did poorly. But it's not ironic at all. Beijing forced several pro-independence candidates to drop out while a few prominent pro-democracy candidates dropped out on their own. Without the famous names, it's no surprise that people voted for more unknown, new options.

The largest party, DAB, is pro-Beijing and was the largest before and after the election. They've been in charge for the last decade and don't seem to be going away anytime soon. The Civic Party, the largest pro-democracy party, goes up and down with every election. Maybe if the Umbrella Movement was less than a year before the elections, something might have changed. Two years is plenty of time for people to be distracted by the latest cell phones and TV shows.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Gotta Act, Gotta Dance

I was originally supposed to go to Jerusalem for the big premiere, which I did, but I also went to Tel Aviv for some rehearsals.

The Jerusalem premiere was just like a big studio Hollywood premiere in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. Except there were far fewer people, no searchlights, not nearly as many flashing paparazzi lights and the theater looked like a normal building. Israel doesn't seem to have the paparazzi problem of the United States. They exist, and a couple of the people involved in this movie are well known to the Israeli public, but I never noticed any photographers hell bent on getting the perfect shot at all costs.

There was a red carpet, for some reason, but no giant mob of screaming fans. There were fans, but it was nothing like The Beatles landing at JFK. It was more like a James Taylor concert at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Either way, no one was there to see me. Most people probably thought I was someone's guest or personal assistant.

The movie itself was amazing. I can say that without sounding like I'm bragging because I'm barely in it. A team of professional artists and filmmakers is responsible for everything good about this movie. Most of it is in Hebrew, and there were no English subtitles at the premiere, but I knew what was going on because I had an English version of the script.

And that's the saddest part about this entire experience. Most of the world will never see this movie because it's not in English. Non-English speaking countries put subtitles on English language movies all the time. Most of the world is used to subtitled movies. In places like China, everything is subtitled – even if it's in Chinese. But most of the world only wants to see movies that are either in their language or in English with subtitles in their language. That's a shame. One of the best movies I've ever seen was about the effects of Mao's Cultural Revolution on children. It's a Chinese movie about China, so it's in Chinese. It never played in any American theaters. It was a hit in China, but I don't know if it ever went to any other country.

After my five minutes as a movie star in Jerusalem, I went to Tel Aviv. I'll be in a show opening in November, so I went to a few rehearsals. I have every intention of going back for more rehearsals, but it's not like I can be there every day. It's also not like I need to. The rehearsal schedule is pretty open. One of the greatest things about working with people who know what they're doing is that it's so much easier to get everyone on the same page. In high school, it took a few months just to work out a simple sequence. In the world of professional adults, we'll be ready for curtain in 10 weeks.