It was 8:30 AM on another groggy Sunday morning for me last week when stardom knocked at my door. Or actually, it was Josh, a Canadian (with an authentic Canadian accent) friend of mine who asked me if I wanted to be in a TV show. He said that he had been walking through the lobby when a desperate TV producer pounced on him, offering untold riches and fame to any whiteys he could round up in the next 10 minutes. So I came down, and after 10 minutes, a retinue of myself, Josh, a random English guy, and two Tajiks were whisked away into a minivan for a two hour drive into the outskirts of Beijing. Details of what we were actually going to do were scarce, something about being soldiers. We arrived and were told rather unceremoniously to put on these smelly, drab olive clothes. We were supposed to wear helmets. My cranium being exceptionally large, the biggest helmet there could do nothing but sit atop my dome; I was given a dirty wig to cover the rest of my head.
Apparently our roles were to be these imperialist British troops ransacking a Qing dynasty village on one of those hideous Shaolin soap operas that literally more than a billion people watch every night. I was nervously chatting with my new Tajikistani friends when the director, a 30ish man with a sagging gut and long hair pinned back by a pair of fashionable sunglasses, walked up, pointed directly at me and said, "He's going to be the lead role."
The premise of our scene was this: our ragtag group was supposed to be kicking a pig down the street, yelling "Chinese pig! Chinese pig!" Tied to the pig was a queue (one of those ponytails that any upstanding Qing-dynasty man would have); note the symbolism. Then a group of Shaolin monks yell at us and we turn around. My starring role comes in when I step forward and challenge the first monk. I block a few of his punches, then knock him out. Then I challenge a second monk, but he manages to kick me down to the ground. That's when I get up, pull out my pistol and busting a cap on everyone's ass. Overall, when edited, the scene would probably last 45 seconds.
That being said, it was a pretty hard day. We had to do the first shot of us kicking a real, live pig down the street about 15 times. Not having the Chinese attitude towards animal rights (i.e. we don't think it's necessarily an oxymoron), we could only muster a couple of half-assed taps. In between shots, the director himself gave us a demonstration of proper pig-kicking by pulling the pig over and landing a couple of solid kicks in the squealing pig's underside. He told us to look more soldierly. Besides that, it was a day spent slowly coming to the realization that I don't have what it takes to make it in the big time. There was a simple two-second shot where I'm supposed to pick myself up, look at my comrades in anger, and pull out my gun. I had to do that shot about 7 times; I was unable to handle performing those three actions in sequence while maintaining a look of dull rage on my face. Or the shot where I get kicked to the ground. They put this protective chest pad on me, got the guy with the strongest legs in Beijing to kick me square in the chest, and I had to land directly on my ass. Of course, they had to do this about 10 times to get the perfect shot; I still have a bruise from the shot where the guy missed the chest pad completely on hit me on my left shoulder. Or the shot where I was supposed to walk forward with my gun and fire off three shots with a mean look on my face, with all of the other monks doing these somersaults and flips. All six times, they hit their flying jumps perfectly. Since the stunt gun I was using was pretty loud and the smoke kept getting in my eye, I always had a rather timid-looking wince on my face (all the other guys were surprised that an American like myself didn't feel natural with a gun). Either that, or I wouldn't walk forward enough while I'm shooting. The actors were starting to get bitter at me. All in all, it was a tough day. About 5 hours of shooting for 45 seconds of final product, but that's showbiz. The pay stunk, too, coming out to about $1.50 per hour. But then again, I now have another priceless pick up line.
In other news, I was proposed to about two weeks ago. One of my random Chinese friends essentially broke it to me that she wants to immigrate to the States for business reasons. She said that the easiest way to get there was to marry a citizen and then divorcing after getting her green card. She was also willing to pay me $10,000. To tell you the truth, I considered it. I mean, a little extra money in the bank just for the sake of some piece of paper saying I'm married to someone for several months; we wouldn't even have to live together. I took a look on the Web, and decided against it mainly because there could possibly be legal repercussions (how easy it would be to avoid them, I don't) and Jesus fuckin' Christ, get married?! Am I fucking insane?! So I told her that I probably shouldn't. I haven't heard from her since.
In wacky administrative news, after a whole bunch of emails with various personages, I'm officially class of '01 again. I didn't get credit for the work I'm doing out here, but I just happen to have enough credits that if I do 10 classes next year, I'll be able to graduate. So I'll be kissing a year's worth of Friday and Saturday nights goodbye. Yikes. I'm also just a regular old boring econ course major.
Nothing else to rap to you all about.