Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's a Drag

We've done 3 Penguin shows now, and as I mentioned before, setting up the set is no easy task. Fortunately, my American Gladiator friend has been on board and will be there for most shows. I'm trying to think of a Gladiator name for him, which I will call him in my head while I call him George to his face. I'm open to suggestions because so far I've come up with only "Bludgeon", "The Scourge of Atlas" and "Musclenator".

First Shakespeare show is tomorrow--we've made some changes/improvements upon last year's version. We still have the requisite man in a dress in Michael's heart bleeding portrayal of Juliet.

Millie will soon take over my life. The male lead in the show is one of the best actors I've ever had the privilege to work with. Tonight, he told me that I change my DNA when I go onstage. If only that were possible! (just kidding, parental units)
Anyway, he meant it as a good thing and I was utterly flattered it came from him.

Now to the Drag.
It is believed that William Shakespeare coined the word "drag." Since only men could play the parts, the Bard would write "drag" next to female characters to mean "Dressed As Girl". Another Millie cast member did a drag show, so of course I went. Here I am with Rye (known that night as La Chiquita) and Sky, another Millie cast member:

Star-studded evening:

Michael and Lindsey came with me to support La Chiquita. Michael wore a shirt his mom made for him! We have so much in common:

As promised, a picture of the Penguin from during the show (I'm supposed to look a little terrified/confused):

There's a Millie cast member who asks me a lot of questions. They're mostly about theatre, but there are some life questions, too. They're not cool questions like Isadore used to ask (Paloma? Al? Meeps?) The questions never end and are often open-ended. Sometimes he'll ask the same question two days in a row. Sometimes he'll ask me questions at inappropriate moments, such as during a scene on stage. Sometimes he's still asking questions as I'm walking away from him to go to my train. I have nicknamed him (in my head) The Riddler.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sorry If I Disease You

The Penguin has landed. We travelled to Tuen Mun, in far northwest Hong Kong for our first show. Nothing tragic happened, the student response was high for a secondary school, and no riotous children attacked me. All in all, a good day. Pictures will come soon, and necessarily so, for there is a scene in the show when another character finds the penguin and wants to take pictures of it to put on facebook. We get students from the audience to be in the pictures, too. The transportation of our set/costumes requires much physical strength. It may initially seem to be a downside, but nay. For one, we get great exercise, but more importantly, we will now have George come with us. George works in the office, but he looks more like he should work on American Gladiator. So I think setting up the Penguin show will now be unexpectedly more enjoyable.

A verbatim quotation on an official poster in my building: "Maintain Air Conditioners to Avoid Nuisances and Other Diseases"

So if a nuisance is something that annoys someone, then by the transitive property, any time one is annoyed, one has a disease. It stands to reason.

As part of work tomorrow, we're going to a hit British TIE-type show. We are to absorb and learn from it.

I'm sure everyone is feverishly preparing for the October 1st National Day--we're celebrating the 60th anniversary of the New China! In Beijing, they've been rehearsing for a parade to dazzle the world. (that's another verbatim quotation from the evening news) They're putting restrictions on kitchen knife stores and there's no kite flying allowed until after the 1st. Also, there's a 30% chance of rain for that day. The government is working on options of how to disperse rain clouds. I read the Communist Manifesto in college, but I don't recall weather control as part of the deal. I think there'd be wider-spread support if it was in there.

Devon and Jeff (sister/brother-in-law) have booked tickets to visit in March/April! They've already found housing and it doesn't seem to be on my couch or in the ghetto, so they're off to a good start.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whether tis nobler....

I just returned from seeing "The Complete Works of Shakespeare: Abridged" performed brilliantly by an American touring company. Michael (of TIE fame) and I went and feel no shame that we plan to borrow or rather "distill" some ideas from it for our own show. The Bard plagiarized nearly everything anyway, so really, if you think about it, we're staying true to Shakespeare's methods. We got there a bit early and unexpectedly were invited into the VIP area (the guards at the door were associated with Millie--the musical I'm in that opens in 2 weeks) The VIP area is sectioned off from the proletariats by decorative mauve silk banners. Within, they serve complementary beverages.
The play exceeded my high expectations and renewed my passion for theatre, which hadn't been dwindling, but was perhaps muffled under the weight of the penguin suit. Hey mom, remember those Prince Pants you made for Into the Woods JHS 03 edition? Could you pack those and any other Shakespearean-looking garb or crowns into the next box? No rush. Also, if you have any rapper bling, we could use that. You know, like giant gold dollar signs, chains, Flava-Flave clocks, whatever's in your closet.

So then, back to life--I wrote an article for the Jacksonville publication "The Source." No word if it was fit to print. Any word, Jville people?

Our first TIE performance of Penguin is in 2 days! We're so ready. Last year's show involved a smoke machine. This year, it's a bubble machine. A week and 3 more Penguin shows later, we'll have our first Shakespeare show--Our favorite is the Macbeth song, done in a rock style, complete with mullet wigs. The choreography is much better than it was last year. There wasn't really any last year. Then on top of all that, we're rewriting the Movies show, which I "finished" in July, but it needs revamping.

Keeping up with all the potentials has been a challenge. I'm afraid if we attempted to have a pageant now, we'd have fewer contestants. I think I accidentally made one move to South Korea. Seriously, we went on a date and now he's moving to Seoul. Elvis has left the building, but he does that periodically. He'll be back. I'm sure he just couldn't handle the fame, feigned his death, and secretly moved to Uruguay. He's waiting for the appropriate time for a comeback tour.

Okay, I think I mentioned before about how I watch NBC Nightly News every morning and about how it sucks, right? I never realized how unsatisfactory it is until I compared it to the Chinese news which comes on right after. The Chinese anchors are so much better because they sometimes make subjective comments about the news. Also, they talk about actual news, not the "Making a Difference" crap that Brian Williams spouts. Does it make me a bad person that I don't care about a group of teens in Detroit, Michigan, driving around a van of vegetables to make it easier for people to make healthful choices?

So my question is: has the whole American/Chinese tire thing been on the news at all in the U.S.? It's on every day here. Every day. People here are screaming protectionism and violation of some sort of international agreement (clearly, I'm an expert on the issue). Just curious if any American news channel has addressed it.

Wow, the blog has gotten HEAVY.

I need something fluffy to balance...ah, Millie. 2 weeks, as I said. Millie hasn't challenged me much as an actor, but my math skills have improved. The young cast members help me with Cantonese--I help them with the Pythagorean Theorem. One guy came over and asked me to check his math homework. "Sure," I say. Then the heading of the page: "Differential Calculus." ha, right. Wade, if you're out there, all I have to say is, "Limit? What's a limit?"

Unfortunately, no monkey attacks this week. However, I have yet to venture to Monkey Mountain. Not sure how I managed to live here for a year and missed that one...
Also, as an anecdotal footnote, the spell check on blogger rejects "bling" as a real word. I have a complaint letter to write.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monkey Damage

We foolishly ignored the monkey warnings. Here's the brand new TIE team, spirits high before the attack:

On a day off, Lindsey, Michael, and Rex of Cheung Chau gathered for an expedition to the 10,000 Buddhas Temple. I had been before, but I was all for going again. All went well--we ate at the vegetarian restaurant there, got chastised for trying to enter a condemned building--the usual.
When it was time to descend from the rather steep hill, I suggested that we take an alternate route to spice it up a bit. About half way down, Rex spotted a monkey! I was ecstatic--a rapidly took many pictures:

After we had our fill of watching the monkeys, we attempted to continue the descent. I stopped everyone and pointed out this large monkey, positioned on the very hand rail we were to walk past:

Suddenly and without warning, this monkey charged at us, brandishing sharp teeth accompanied by an unearthly hiss. After about 3 such charges, we ultimately turned around and descended on the other side. As we passed people, I told all of them (in Cantonese) to be aware of the very angry monkeys. Michael assisted by mimicking what the monkey had done, which I found extensively entertaining.

No one was injured in the attack, but we learned a valuable lesson that day. Don't make eye contact with monkeys. It is a sign of aggression.

In other news, I just hosted a swell guy from Illinois--Jordan is on a 6 week tour of China/Nepal/India, and HK was his first stop. He joined us for Dim Sum, where I deemed him safe enough to sleep on my couch. He was a great guest and really went out on his own to explore (I had work and rehearsal nearly the whole time he was here). Check out his blog:

I renewed my visa today. Once again on the form, I found the marital status section mildly offensive in a humorous way, as the options were Married, Divorced, Widowed, or SPINSTER.
It was actually "Bachelor/Spinster"...this is linguistically unfair. Men are bachelors...they're sexy and eligible. Women are spinsters...drab and smell like cat litter.

It's Typhoon season! There's one happening right now. I went to the gym, it was closed, and on the walk home, I saw a heavy bus stop sign fall inches away from an innocent passer by.
We've had a few photo shoots for the new Penguin show---I'll put more up, but here's a sneak peak:

Saturday, September 5, 2009


There's a real post below this one, but I totally forgot to embarrass my siblings with a picture our former and beloved babysitter just posted to facebook. I want all those not yet connected to that network to enjoy them:

I may look cute, but it was just a clever disguise to balance my severe annoyingness:

And So Off

"My husband is a banana, so I have to use English a lot at home."
A woman said this to me last night at the gym. This is an example of how people use fruits and various other foods to illustrate racial realities and affiliations. Everyone here calls me an egg. A banana is someone who is "yellow" on the outside and "white" on the inside. I am an egg--the opposite of a banana. This isn't contained to Asia. In college, I tutored an American Indian student in French. She said she had a hard time fitting in with her tribe because everyone called her an apple.
I'm sure if I were an anthropologist, I could comment more profoundly. A banana and an egg may not be the best culinary combination, but it strangely makes sense on a relational level.
But let's go back in time again. Before I set off for Switzerland, I had the great joy of seeing my students perform Seussical: The Musical.

This is Yee Sin, who went from having one line in the last play, to a lead role with several solos in Seussical:

Horton the Elephant:

And the only photo I have of me with the director, Matthew (and Inga):

Also at the gym last night, my favorite aerobics instructor (mom and dad, you know her) told me that my shoulders are suddenly very toned. The only explanation (because regular exercise certainly isn't the reason) is the new penguin suit I have. This thing is much heavier than last year's version. To move the fins takes some serious power, and since I need to accustom myself to the limited mobility of the suit, I find myself wearing it often. And tap dancing in it often. So to anyone out there working hard to get toned shoulders, just get yourself a heavy penguin suit and do at least 100 flipper raises 5 days a week.