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Showing posts from 2006

Going home

So yesterday morning I met up with the 4 American special effects crew on this new movie and got in a van with them to go to Yi Xian, which is where they will be shooting. I explained to them up front that I had not signed on for the whole shoot, and was actually hoping to meet them first and see what I was getting into before I decided. Anyway, we passed through the town of Yi Xian, which was a complete dump, and then continued on to the middle of nowhere, which is where the shooting locations and housing are. The housing they had arranged for the foreign crew was this miserable little tourist resort, which was the best you could get in the area, and which was not even as good as my hotel in Kashgar. When the special effects guys expressed their dissatisfaction, the location manager suggested we take a look at the accommodation for the Chinese crew, in order to gain a greater appreciation of their high class treatment. Then we drove around more dirt roads to look at 3 shooting l

My next project

So, now The Kite Runner is almost over and I seem to have agreed to join on with another movie , starting immediately. My original plan was to take a well deserved break, hang around in Beijing until the 20th, fly home and then decide what I want to do next. But the special effects crew for this movie is coming over for a scout starting this Friday and will be here for a couple of weeks, and I thought I should at least meet them and see if I like them. They will be going home for Christmas, which will allow me to at least take a break for a couple of weeks, and then I can decide if I want to stay with them on the movie when they come back or not. I'm leaving for a town a couple hours away from Beijing soon to finish up the last two shooting days on Kite Runner, after which I am scheduled to come back and immediately travel to Hebei with these American SFX guys. I will not pass go, I will not collect my pay, and I will not attend the China wrap party. But whatever, the thoug

Wintertime in Kashgar

I'm too tired to spend much time writing about what I've been doing, but here are some pictures that Dagan took of the alleys we dressed last week for a day of shooting. (This is not real snow.) It's fun working on the set and following the team around. It's like being in a making-of like you'd see on a DVD. I'll hopefully get back with more pictures and more to tell later. I think basically you will all have to wait until the movie comes out and I can watch it with you and ruin it with my commentary.

How I came to have a cooler job than the last one

I've been looking at a few odd jobs on the classifieds on That's Beijing, and I had a phone interview with some guy from an online clothing store for a position for "Procurement Specialist" which I think must be a scam, because he didn't call me back after I explained my confusion about how there's actually nothing for sale on his website. I also met with Carl Crook, who is in fact a really interesting guy, but didn't have any particular ideas about jobs for me. And I had a little translation deal which I lost when I was undercut by a poor Chinese person. This all turned out for the best, though, after I met with some friends I made through the hiring I had done for J&J. Like I mentioned before, everybody in this circle of film people knows each other, and these friends had happened to hear that they were short a translator on The Kite Runner , and suggested that I give this girl Sherrie a call, who was working on the movie and I had called in to

Change in Plans

I quit my job. This is all I have been talking about lately so I will just sum it up briefly. On Saturday I went to my boss' place to put in some extra hours and mark up the script for VFX and SFX. This was to be the beginning of my long-awaited training. But the producers were coming in the next night and there was a lot of preparation that had to be done, so I actually spent the entire day fussing with my boss' little notebook computer to get the new schedule and translate and send it out, along with a whole bunch of little emails. I did this all sitting across from her in a coffee shop with an unstable internet connection, while she sat there making phone calls and lecturing me off and on for how poor suited I was for the film business. She insisted I work in front of her that day, because she said I would waste time making mistakes and asking questions if she wasn't there. It was so tedious to work on her computer with no mouse, no Chinese input, and unstable int

Language of the Winds

... is a translation for a colorful Chinese phrase for "rumor." Below is an interesting article which states that after the ongoing battle between Jackie Chan and Jet Li for the coveted role of "Monkey King" in this movie, with Jet Li coming out as victor, it turns out that actually Jet Li will be playing an entirely different role of a bad guy. What's more, according to a "leak" from "inside sources," Peter Jackson will direct the movie: Considering I just read the latest version of the script which came out on Tuesday and I'm currently dealing with hotel arrangements so that the producers and director can meet with people in Beijing next week, I'm either completely out of the loop, or this news is a bit off the mark. And I don't even know where they get the numbers about the movie's investment and Jet Li's profit share... Anyway my job can be pretty interesting sometimes,

If FOX News says it, it must be true,4670,JackieChan,00.html Also, I just got a fat wad of cash today. So I guess I'm keeping afloat. It kind of distresses me when I think of my income in terms of the number of things I could buy in a month. Like, I can get 200 blocks of sharp cheddar, or 300 iced coffees, but I can't have both. Really my two big worries right now are buying a visa (once I figure out what semi-legal channels I can go through) and buying insurance at the end of the month, which will probably eat another large chunk of my precious American money. To cope with these problems, this Saturday I plan to go with Geoff to bar which has all you can drink for 50 RMB before 5pm or something like that, after which I'm going to go to some random guy's housewarming party where I will charm every stranger there with my drunken antics.

My computer is slower than a Beijing bus at rushhour in the rain

Let's see, what have I been up to. I am getting tired of posting to a blog site which is banned in China. I thought I might try switching back to my old Livejournal account, since I saw how good the picture capability was at Jenny's blog , but I couldn't find a feature to post updates to a listserv, and I don't have a camera anyway. Yes, I've been feeling a bit poor lately since I had to pay for six months worth of rent up front, and I have been spending money on random things that my apartment needs. I bought a wireless router so that I wouldn't have to drag this ethernet cable all the way into my bedroom, but I still can't configure my wireless card to work under Linux so it's a waste of money for now. I could go and buy a wireless card that works under Linux, but actually what I really want is a Macbook. I think my boss should buy me one, or at least buy one for the office for me to use, but I think she would find this humorous. She wishes I had

You are a peasant if you don't smoke Furongwang

Well, I've been doing all sorts of stuff at work, but what I spent most of today working on was translating the storyboards for this advertisement we're doing for Furongwang cigarettes. It's amazing, I have always believed that advertisements are bullshit, but now that I am taking a hand in producing them for cigarette companies, I really see that in fact they are total bullshit. But man, do I want to start smoking Furongwang... Mou took me to a meeting with their company on Tuesday. She said that it was for me to learn something, but I think it probably had something more to do with her liking to have handsome foreign boys accompany her on business events. We sat on one side of a conference table in a dimly lit room (we turned the lights off so we could show our presentation), and the cigarette guys sat on the other side, chainsmoking Furongwang cigarettes. It was hypnotizing. The boss kept smoking these things, kind of gazing off into the distance, and telling us a

My First Job

Well, I'm at work now. I interviewed with City Weekend on Monday. It seemed like a really cool job. Basically my immediate responsibility would be to develop a big network of contacts so that I could figure out what was going on in the city. They asked me how I would go about doing this, and I thought of anybody who I could contact, and who they could point me to, and what random social networks I am a part of... They seemed most concerned with the fact that I am more or less new to Beijing, since they were really looking for someone who could bring their own information and contacts into the job with them. But other than that, I think they still seemed interested in me, and I thought the interview went really well. That evening I was feeling poor as I waited by the bus stop to meet up with Nick for Dairy Queen, when I got a call from Geoff. He checked to make sure that I was okay with the salary terms we had talked about before, and asked me to come in the next day. I fel

My sweet crib

Finally moved into my new place. I spent the last three days pretty solidly looking for housing. The first day I made an appointment with this agent who usually finds housing for ACC alumni. I figured she would be good since Meghan had recommended her, and Jin Laoshi brought her up the other day. She took me to see four places that day, and was very cordial and paid for my water and transportation and all, and offered to take me to a peach orchard sometime, but her houses were dumps. The first place was a joke. She said, "I figure you'll want a cheap place, so let's go see this one first, I'm sure it will be right for you." We took a bus for half an hour to get there, on the north side of Chaoyang Park. We walked off the main street a ways, past one of those big trash piles which naturally accumulate in public spaces, and down this little alley with squat shoddy brick housing. I waited for ten minutes while she fiddled with the door to the courtyard, whic

Back Again

It always feel so bizarre to come back to Beijing. The city has changed so much since when I was in school here, but it still feels like I just left yesterday. I met up with my old teacher Wang Jiangbo when I got in on Sunday morning, and he was kind enough to let me drop my tons of luggage off in his kitchen, which he apparently doesn't use anyway. We had brunch, wasted a bit of time scouting out housing around his block, and I bought toothpaste. He is always busy with work though, so after we got back and took naps, I packed up a day bag and went to meet up with my friend from Nanjing, Fred, and his friend from Beijing, Nick. We met up with some more friends who had also just come up from Nanjing and had dinner and drinks, and I managed to weasel my way into crashing on Nick's floor that night. And the next. Yesterday I came back to my old school to see if they could get me a cheap dorm room for the week while I figure out something more permanent. I happened to run i

To Beijing

I took a trip out to Shanghai on Wednesday to interview with Pacific Epoch . They do technology and media research, and needed an editor. It sounded like it might be an interesting job, and a good way to learn about an industry while getting some experience under my belt, but it looks like it's just going to be mostly tedious proofreading. They had me edit some sample articles, and the way it worked was, they had their Chinese staff pick out some news items from Chinese sites, and write brief English summaries. I was to fix the English, and make sure that the summary contained all the important information and no irrelevant information. The problem was, their English was so atrocious that in some cases they actually conveyed the exact opposite meaning of that intended, so for every article I had to go back and read the original Chinese in its entirety and write my own summary. That in itself is fine, and I'm glad for the opportunity to use my language ability, but for them


A couple months after deciding not to renew my domain name this year and letting my website die, I decided I actually kind of like having a blog. Also, I apparently had registered an account with this site in 2002, and I guess it didn't work at the time, since my posts were all something to the effect of "GRAHHH! WORK GODDAMN YOU!" Anyway, I just dusted off my old username, and here we go. This is my last week at the Hopkins Center in Nanjing. My plan right now is to catch a train up to Beijing before they start demolishing my room, stay with a friend for a few days while I look at apartments, get a place, and look for a job. I'm sort of waiting to hear on a job or two right now, but I probably shouldn't hold my breath. Hopefully this blog will be less stupid than my previous websites. In addition to brief updates on what odd corner of the third-world I am lurking in, I'm planning to post pictures that my digital camera wielding friends pass on to me, like t