Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nostalgia lane

Here's a tiny sampling of photos of me and Paul over the course of 2010:

Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai.


Myself and a friend at a recent wedding.


Paul pouting. Must be the potatoes.


Drunk, Drunker, Drunkest.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things to do

This winter's been pretty mild in comparison to the city's northern and southern cousins. It's like we've been protected by an alien energy shield, barricading us from the worst mother nature has to offer. I mean, a hundred kilometres outside of Toronto, towns have been hit with a meter or more of snow and Paul's all, "I wish it was colder; I miss the twinkles."

I hate winter. It's nearly always overcast and the "ain't no sunshine" days give me the SADs. Paul's dad was sent one of those therapy lamps that's supposed to ease the seasonal blues, but as a psychiatrist, I don't think he's totally sold on the idea.

Anyway, since I'm currently unemployed (again), Paul is encouraging me to work on my screenplay. It's partly based on this blog or more precisely, the parts of this blog where I mention my mother. Write what you know, right? One of the most irritating things about reading other people's scripts is the lack of a distinct voice. These authors avoid potentially controversial portraits in exchange for "serious" subjects with which they are unfamiliar and end up with neither insight nor vision. Just dull, humourless writing with a heaping of pretension.

I call it the Yoda Effect. In other words, "Inspired dialogue, it is not. Encouraged they are to use misplaced modifiers. An air of sophistication split infinitives give. In real life, not so good idea."

Paul's giving me until next March to complete the first draft. Fingers crossed.

***

Sunday's party was pretty good. Caught up with some old friends, made new ones. As we made our way home, Paul said the girl he'd been talking to on the couch was flirting with him. He said she kept putting her hand on his thigh as they conversed. I thought it was cute and it gave me a sense of pride knowing Paul's attractiveness is recognized by others.

The funny thing is, he'd been tipsy and was complaining about all the bad directors he had to put up with these last couple of months. Hardly sexy talk. Yet, she seemed to get a kick out of his rant and embraced his enthusiasm as if it was her own. Which goes to show you, there really aren't any tricks to picking up women. If she thinks you have the right stuff, you can talk about your job as a sanitation engineer and she'll still offer to clean your jumpsuit to get you in the sack.

The heart wants what it wants.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pretty lights and slippery snow

I went in for a job interview last week to be the director's assistant on Silent Hill 3D: Revelation. Didn't think it would pan out the moment I stepped out of his office. We didn't have much chemistry and while the perks of seeing a production through from conception to actualization would be eye-opening, there must be other ways.

I have another interview somewhere two weeks from now. Paul interned at the distribution conglomerate this summer and didn't like it, but then again, he's destined to be running around on set. I, by contrast, want to be challenged and be paid well. (For both our sakes.)

Let's see how this one turns out. Who knows? Maybe the assistant directors who'd taken a shine to me will follow through on their offers once the industry starts picking up next month. I don't give a shit at this point. I'm happy swimming around, testing out all bodies of water in this vast (and glorified) field.

***

My good friend invited me and Paul to the annual Christmas party he co-hosts with his flamboyant and artsy roommates. They all reside in this beautiful mansion with original mouldings and silk wallpaper. Last year, they had a 1920s theme and I was amazed by the impressive verisimilitude. It was noticeable the moment you stepped into their house. The mahogany banister and gilded mirrors weren't the half of it. There was a Victorian-style Christmas tree, twice the size of anything I'd ever seen in a domestic setting. The furniture and upholstery were time-specific, the menu was of the era, and music was cranked out through a phonograph. Now get this: They even had a photo studio with one of those cameras that requires a hood and a 10-minute exposure time, a novelty most of the guests gladly explored.

All of them dressed to the nines in tuxedo tails and my friend even slicked back his hair, à la Jake Gatsby. I grin while writing this because it was definitely a dreamy, boozy, wonderful night.

This year, they plan to host a formal masquerade ball. Paul was so embarrassed for being under-dressed last year that he's actually going to put in some effort for this Sunday's fête. (I'm not complaining, he looks ultra fine when he's all done up.) I'll be donning the bunny gear seen above while for 2 bucks, Paul's wearing a moulded eye-piece lined with sequins. I'm excited!

The only snafu (hidden to all but myself) will be the potential meeting with my former fuck buddy and his significant other. I haven't seen him in two years (after a series of coincidental bump-ins), so I guess I will have to dig out the gracious pantomime I'd perfected after each of our postcoital encounters and get on with it.

I'm also hoping to bring two of my gorgeous friends in the hopes of igniting a spark between them =)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Booty

"You know what I want? A man who drops in once a year and goes away. Like Santa Claus."

Paul tried to stifle a chuckle. I continued listening in on the conversation between the black girls.

As we all exited the elevator, I called out to one of them: "That's a good idea because you'd get presents whether you were naughty or nice."

One of them turned around and smiled at me: "That's right! You a smart girl."

As the group prepared to cross the street, the original commenter said, "He better be in and out 'cause I don't want to be handling him the rest of the year."

"You know what you call that?" I cried out as Paul and I walked in the opposite direction. "A conjugal visit."

They all burst out laughing, repeating the punchline as they sashayed away.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If you want to make bank, start with your offspring

Paul is the cinematographer on his friend's film and they were conducting auditions last week.

One kid, about 8- or 9-years-old, stood out to the crew. The producer sat opposite him and read the part of "Anna." She handed him the script and asked him to do a cold reading. He played "Luke," a young boy who keeps re-enacting the glorified death of his soldier father.

The exchange went something like this:

"Luke": My dad's a hero, you know.

"Anna": How?

"Luke": He died in the war. I eleven show you. Look, I eleven be my dad.

(...)

"Anna": Why am I the enemy?

"Luke": I eleven show you. Just stand over there, OK?

The director tried to follow the conversation, flipping over the script pages front and back to figure out what the kid was saying. They asked him to re-read the part and again, it didn't make any sense.

Confused, they asked him why he keeps saying "eleven."

"Because," he said, flustered, "the number 11 is after the letter 'i'."

Everyone looked at each other. The kid couldn't read contractions. In fact, many of the child actors they'd been encountering couldn't read and needed their parents to help them memorize their lines.

I don't want to judge the education system too harshly, but I distinctly remember being the kid's age and reading at (above) grade level. And why are parents taking the time to help them cheat rather than making sure they are literate? My mom used to stay up until past midnight so I could master long division in grade 2; she definitely wouldn't have asked me to give her a 10-percent cut of my earnings. Granted, there are some smart kids in the business: I met one who would do her homework between takes. But that little girl's family could afford to enroll her in a special arts school that accommodated her work schedule.

Anyway, I'm trailing off. The point is, I find it disappointing when parents use their children as cash cows and forsake their intellectual development. But I suppose that's showbiz: Where narcissists go to shine.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It's just business

The New York Times published an article in the Style section about Trevor Neilson, philanthropic advisor to the stars.

My best friend currently works at the UN offices for human trafficking in New York. She said when she met Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, she got a sense that neither of them were very smart. While Mr. Kutcher was clearly very chatty, she observed that Ms. Moore was mousy and frail, as if intimidated by the superior intellect of all those around her.

"But they got us into the papers. No one would even care if they didn't show up," she said, dryly.

What especially amazed her was the couple's ability to repeat talking points as if they were delivering them for the first time. They never trailed off, memorized sentences word for word, and held up their enthusiasm during every interview.

I used to think that proper organizations were cheapened by celebrity spokespeople. Now, I feel as if actors were born for the job. They're beautiful, they bring with them an enviable social cache, they adore attention (and by extension, attract attention to their causes), they say what they're told, and question nothing.

Factoring in those reasons, the synthetic bargain starts looking better and better for whomever hires them.

Paul-was-thereisms

My teenaged sister, Vee, joined me and Paul to watch Desperate Housewives last night (his favourite show after Rich Bride, Poor Bride).

I overheard this conversation during the commercial break:

Vee: "Do you remember when in Austin Powers, I forget which one, where Dr. Evil's looking for his balls and says, '1, 2, 3, I'm good'?"

Paul: "Yeah."

Vee: "I saw that movie with my friend. After that scene, he looked down at his pants and said, 'Vee, I only have two. Am I not normal?'"

Paul: "..."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Thisclose to being on Santa's naughty list

I was searching for stockings at The Bay's flagship store one chilly day. The selection was intimidating: merino wool, cashmere-blend, buy one get one half.

As I stood there skimming the wall, a woman (who looked to be in her 50s) kept nudging me. Rather than push back, I'd step to one side, reasoning that it would signal to her that we can both share the space.

Undeterred, she continued to push me as she felt for rainbow socks and the like. Annoyed, I shot her an icy glare.

No response.

So I found a place squarely in the middle of the towering racks and stood there, promising myself that I wouldn't budge.

Well, wouldn't you know it, the woman returned with her friend and knocked into me again. Tilting her head towards the ceiling, she said:

"Darling, I think I am walking into someone."

And with that, the mystery was solved.

I was throwing shade at a blind woman.

Friday, December 03, 2010

What the ...?

Have you ever encountered comments so bizarre and tactless that it felt like you were making a cameo appearance on the Twilight Zone?

Ever since I went back on the Pill last year, I've struggled to control annoying blemishes. Going off it isn't an option since I'm sexually active and, besides, I'm not bothered enough to discontinue using it for the superficial side-effects. (I'd choose that over a baby any day.)

Luckily, Paul's mom introduced me to a skincare regimen that's been working wonders, to the point that even he mentioned the dramatic difference. (FYI: Russian women really know how to keep their shit looking good.)

So my best girlfriend was visiting from NYC and we popped by her parents' house after a day of shopping.

"Hi Auntie," I said.

"Hi Lily," she responded. "What happened to your face? It's gotten uglier."

I froze, taken aback. But she was insistent, asking me if it was a medical condition, whether my skin was itchy. I told her that it was a bit dry from the weather, so I might have a few dry patches, but other than that, I didn't know what else to say.

"That can't just be from dryness, everyone's face gets dry in the winter. No, this is something more serious. Have you tried Chinese herbs?"

Chinese herbs? Up until that point, I didn't even know I had a problem.

"Have you been to the doctor? I bought this great cream in Japan that makes my face glow. You're young, you have to take better care of yourself."

I nodded. This was getting awkward. My friend silently sat beside me, smiling politely.

Her mother then asked me if I had a boyfriend; I answered in the affirmative.

"That's good," she commented. "It means you don't have to impress men and your boyfriend already knows what you look like before."

"Fortunately," she continued, "my girls never had it that bad, so I'm not familiar with your condition."

At this point, I was curious to see what she was talking about. I excused myself to go to the washroom and checked myself in the mirror.

It was a revelation: I looked fine.

Sure, I had some flakiness around my temples and shine on my forehead. Other than that, my complexion was clear. Not a single pimple.

I met up with Paul afterward at a wrap party and told him the story. He was confused and was also perplexed by her observations. "Chinese people need to stop being so blunt," he said.

In her defense, I believe she meant well, but the whole incident was just ... strange.

Never thought I'd be promoting materialism

Backstory: My mom never splurges on anything for herself. She skips vacations and hasn't gone clothes shopping in 20-years. Needless to say, I encourage her to let loose once in awhile. This recent incident illustrates that, perhaps, she still has some ways to go in adjusting ...

Mom: "You like purse? I get from Coach outlet."

me: "It's nice, really nice."

Mom: "You know how much I pay?"

me: "20 bucks?"

Mom: "That what I pay last time. I wish. Guess again."

me: "$50?"

Mom: "One-hundred twenty dollar. It the most I ever spend."

me: "Wow, it's sold for at least $300-something at retail."

Mom: "You right. I get discount then use '20-percent off' card. You like? It nice bag for fake leather."

me: "Ma, it's real leather."

Mom: "Oh really? Why it no smell?"

me: "Ma, you paid 120 bucks for a bag you thought was fake leather?"

Mom: "I no check. Now it very good deal."

On the one hand, I think it was ridiculous of her to have paid that much for a designer purse of supposed inferior quality. (The leather was in fact very soft and supple.) On the other, I'm glad she's embracing her own happiness. I know she has a soft spot for bags, but she's always spent every penny on her three children. It's nice to see her pampering herself after 12+ hour days at work.