"Hey Elyse, where'd you get that unsightly abrasion on your ass?"
"Well, I was balancing on a velour-covered eraser-shaped plywood prism precariously propped on a tripod inside this velour-lined plywood box. I was gripping my shanzhai Gucci handbag under my baby oil-slathered arm whilst attempting to support my weight on one foot without wrinkling the shimmering instep of my golden pleather loafer. I guess the prism must've slipped because the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, with my buttcheek throbbing and the walls of the velour-lined room swaying around me.
"Oh. Oh my god! I...I'm here in my bed. It's morning! It was all a dream.
"BUT THEN WHERE DID I GET THIS UNSIGHTLY ABRASION ON MY ASS?"
BONUS: I uploaded these pics two days ago with a narrative in mind that would've tied them all together. I ran out of time, had to go do a casting, the moment passed, I aborted the story, but the pictures were already uploaded. Here they are, blood:
Michael Qiaodan of the Xicago Bulls, my second-favorite baller (after Shaq).
I ran out of toothpaste, and I went on a mission to a distant hypermarket where I thought I had seen The Only Toothpaste (Crest Vivid White, God's own toothpaste) some weeks ago. I was wrong; they didn't have it; I ended up with this shit. What is that anyway, some lotus flower shit? Some water lily shit? I used it for the first time this morning and I can practically hear my teeth sizzling and rotting in the absence of Crest Vivid White. Henceforth I'll just have to do my chewing with one of my many grillz.
This lady with her sidewalk foot-treadle sewing machine operation cut the atrocious 3/4 length bell sleeves off my white dress and hemmed the stumps for only 4RMB (=US$0.58).
I did castings in that dress with NO COAT because that's how warm it was in Shanghai two days ago.
Lastly, Happy Valentine's Day, baby. I love you. I got you this gross of shots individually packaged in spermatozoon-shaped plastic bottles. What did you get for me?
I'm still pretty high from Chinese New Year. The prolonged break from the frustrations of ladypose moil, combined with the fact that I'm reading The Travels of Marco Polo, a mostly-true catalog of Marky Marc's impressions of unfamiliar provinces, has my soul incandescing daily with delight at the myriad subtle ways in which the Chinese mode of life differs from the Western. The lady in the street, trotting after me with my dropped glove, shouts, "Big sister! Big sister!"; the grocery store cashier yells to the old lady who abandoned her basket and went back for a bunch of spring onions, "Grandmother! Hurry up!" This pastry, served up alongside peanut and coconut shortbread, was flavored with sugar and ground seaweed, musty and dusty and oceany, unlike anything I'd ever tasted before, but so delicious and perfect. Sorry. I've been sitting here trying to think of how to put my good feelings into words without venturing into Mawksville or the trite latitudes. It's hard! The world is full of people, life is sweet, and my dispo this evening is sunny. I guess that's all.
Anywayz, wanna look at some dogs being publicly humiliated?
Chinese New Year! Oh my god! Chinese New Year! It's almost 12:30am and there is MAYHEM in my 'hood! Fireworks have been exploding CONSTANTLY for hours and hours! Burned shreds of red tissue paper from spent fireworks are piling up in drifts! The air is opaque with smoke. People are running through the streets screaming "Woooooo!" I have never seen Chinese people going apeshit like this! WOOOOO!
According to superstition, today (January 26th) will set the tone for the rest of the year, so everybody have a good one! Try not to get angry! Wear lucky red, avoid the number 4!
Happy Year of the Ox!
Holy shit, holy shit, the fireworks! Every car alarm going off! I do not fucking believe this! Explosions everywhere, allatime. Whistling launch-shrieks and distant booms and series of crackling pops that go on for minutes on end! People have bought strings of fireworks in giant red coils and are unfurling them like fat firehoses on the street, then lighting the fuse with a ciggie or a sparkler and running away! There are also car battery-sized boxes of rockets and little cones that just explode and send up a little sparky sputnik. The chicks in their knee-length down coats are all holding sparklers!
Year of the Ox, everybody. Year of hard work, year of strength. May it be auspicious. May we prosper!
UPDATE: I edited my video clips together into this movie.
My aspiring DJ of a male model roommate is currently pumping some overloud techno into the apartment while he works a jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table. I can't go in my room because I'm tethered to the wall by the broadband cable. So, apologies, I'm distracted; I can feel all the mental LJ composition I did on my walk home eroding 'neath the torrent of stupid beeps and whirrs and clicks and sirens and insipid vocal samples. Ugh: "house" music. Nothing charitable to say about it. Rave on, dawg.
When I want to feel sexy, I slip into a pair of fishnet stockings, a pair of tu-tone polyester lace bloomers, a tee with some seductive lace screenprinting, a mesh vest, a superfluous belt, half a can of blue eyeshadow, a lipstick mustache and two wigs. Mmm. Then I go land a husband.
Unfortunately, I was too busy speed-catalogging to get a more representative example of my ladyposing today (this is a picture of the photographer's computer screen). Before I even did the casting, my booker advised me that she was going to recommend me to the clients because they were looking for a model who knew how to do "a lot of big pose." I did 'em at the casting, and I did 'em for eight hours today, as the client stood off to the side exhorting me, "Bigger! Bigger!" Um. I'm already spreadin 'em far and flingin 'em wide! There's an anatomical limit to the size of a big pose! Anyway, this is how I spent my day. In eyelet'n'denim one-pieces, acid yellow dukes, crimson split peasant skirts, metallic rompers with three belts, pink wigs. Dancin, leapin, throwin shapes, big posin. Dignified-like.
I've been struggling not to let the cold weather shrink my world: it's so easy to come home from from my day's ladypose, rip off my false eyelashes and stick them to the wall, boil up some rooibos with cut-up ginger, and collapse into bed with a piece of the dogshit British "chicklit" library I have amassed (and oh god, that is a bleak genre. If you ever have to read one, mark this: a character will always turn "puce." Someone will always get drunk and "croak," not speak, the next morning. And "Milk Tray" will always make an appearance). And only leave the house otherwise to run to the public bathhouse in my swaddling clothes, cutting a ridic-lookin' silhouette: hat over brow, scarf over face, hood of tentlike men's coat over head, spherical wooly exoskeleton gathering hoar while legs clad in pants of mobility-inhibiting tightness scramble beneath.
No! Must not succumb to a spin cycle in the doldrums. Must go to the indoor skiing slope!
The more I learn of idiom-rich but neologistically resistant Mando, the more I think, like, this language is not as expressive or precise as English. But my beloved Russian ex-roommate Nellie used to dis the shit out of English, claiming it was not as expressive or forceful as Russian ("I would never say to Eugene 'I love you.' In English, it has no meaning!"). So, polyglots, true polyglots, not semester-of-French wankstas: which languages do you speak? Which one is better, and why? If you can think of some examples of your favorite words or bizarre untranslatables, do tell those as well.
Couple pics to make it look nice. I went to the Sex Culture Museum; beware ye who click through. Thar be comically oversized statue gennies and some stone apes doin' it.
In other news, three straight days of wedding dress ladypose loom. Stick-on jelly melonz and dresses that take forever to put on. And the dreaded possibility of having to kiss the herpetic lips of a male model. Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice!
Are there any current or erstwhile McDonald's employees reading this? Are McDonald's restaurants supplied with real eggs, like, in shells, or are the breakfast egg pucks achieved by unnatural means ("pour 100mL of chilled albumin slurry into poach-hopper. Titrate yolk slurry with micropipette until egglike yolk:white ratio is achieved. Do not mix.")?
At my job in Xiamen last week, if you'll remember, I had breakfast at a 24-hour McDonald's in the predawn hours. In my opinion, the least disgusting breakfast sandwich at Chinese McDonald's is the sausage muffin with no egg, but looking into the eight freezing hours of shooting in my future, I decided to fortify myself with a sausage/egg puck muffin sandwich. You can also get just an egg puck on a hamburger bun with ketchup, oh god. Anyway, that egg puck is fuckin gross and I want to know if it is made from an egg. Spill your secrets, McD's insiders.
So I ate the sandwich before dawn. I modeled 85% of the clothes in freezing misery, as mentioned. When we were almost done with the shoot, the client told me that everyone wanted to take an hour-long break; would I consent? (This was a humane thing to ask me- it wouldn't be fair to drag out the job unnecessarily without paying me for my time). I also wanted a break, so I said yes, bundled up, and hunkered down on the beach. An hour passed and the client approached me again to ask if I would be willing to wait until sunset because they wanted some "dramatic" shots. Eyeroll, fine, I assumed we would break camp and go have lunch somewhere. Wrong! To a man, the entire crew conked out napping and I passed the afternoon with an apple and a book before the sun finally started to set and I had to strip my kit off and frolic ladyposewise through the strait again.
So we were all starving, cold, thirsty and horribly crabby. Prime feasting conditions. Dig it:
I'm back from Xiamen. The job was wack: concerned that we wouldn't finish with the eight hours of shooting in time for our 9:00pm flight (ridic!), the client made my call time 4:15am.
4:45: False eyelash glue dry and ready. 5:15: We all troop to the ferry pier. Ferries haven't started running yet. 5:30: We adjourn to KFC for breakfast. It's still closed. We move to 24 hour McDonald's. 6:15: We arrive at the beach location. Can't start shooting yet because it's STILL FUCKING DARK. 7:00: I'm knee deep in the frigid Strait of Taiwan, wading out to tow the larger and more shot-ruining pieces of flotsam (among them a pair of waterlogged jeans and a large rubber welcome mat) to shore and hand them off to the photographer, who flings them over the large concrete wastewater pipe that is spilling (suspected) sewage into the ocean. Picturesque!
7:30: At the photographer's behest, I frolic lustily across the razorsharp broken shell beach with strait-numbed feet; afterward, tiny ribbons of sole blood mix with seawater and course across the dorsal surface of my ludacris high-heeled flip flops.
Modeling summer clothes on location in the cold is my least favorite way to spend a day. No chance to warm up between shots. Stupid stick-on gel tits feel like blocks of ice. I have to relax and smile and ladypose when every muscle in my body is shrieking "Huddle!" and every muscle in my face is screaming "Grimace!" Mottled model mustering mettle. As the day wears on, I can't even change outfits quickly because everyone's fingers are too numb and slow to manipulate the buttons and zippers. Oh god, I am sniveling with gratitude for the fact that I'm currently ensconced in my heated apartment in my union suit with a cup of tea instead of half naked in false eyelashes in the goddamn ocean at dawn in December. Let's celebrate with some pics:
It was warm for a few hours in the afternoon when the sun was out.
The makeup artist and I had to trudge to a distant construction site to find an electrical outlet for his curling iron.
Those buckets are full of live seafood on display outside a restaurant. As the clients haggled with the restaurateur over the price of crab, he pulled one out, propped it on the concrete, cracked it open, and yanked off the carapace to show the quality of the meat inside. In the end, we decided not to eat there. Crab killed for absolutely no reason!
Better than sex health protection Jeopardy.
Oh LJ, I have too much material and too little time to sit down and blog it out. Xiamen episode 2 tomorrow. Meanwhile, happy winter solstice! Here's to brighter days.
Appallingly, I realized this morning that I've read three of the five books I brought with me to Shanghai. I need to have a set of pages to turn at all times, so I forced myself to examine the literature left behind in the models' apartment ere I cash my personal book stash. An archaeological excavation of the layers of left-behind shit in models' apartments will usually yield at least one solid, lengthy book, even if it's a (shudder) Clancy. Not here. Manshare, copyright 1984, anyone? Shattered Illusions ("A sweeping tale of tangled passions, scandalous secrets, and tender awakenings")? I chose California Holiday (by the British author of Spanish Holiday and Grecian Holiday!), about an au pair who will, as the plot develops, probably leave her post in Seattle and take the titular California holiday. The American characters have a certain, um, flavour about them: they say "clever" and "nursery school" and cook with kitchen scales instead of measuring cups. And they never say "why." They only say "how come." How come, I wonder? Britons, do you perceive Americans to say "how come"? I was not aware of that.
In other news, I went back to the public bathhouse tonight for a "help bath." This time, the attendant laid me on the table and rubbed down my whole body with an abrasive mitt. I'd never had this done before, so I have no frame of reference, but as she scrubbed, there were pea-sized balls of dingy squamous hailing down from my body. It was definitely a lot of dead skin, possibly even an unhygienic Swamp Thing amount that I should be embarrassed about having shed in front of a fastidiously exfoliated bunch of Chinese bathers. The attendant even gestured at it and chid me. Whatever. It was soul-satisfying to walk away and leave all that epidermis behind. Rise like a phoenix from the ashiness.
You guys, the pics I wanted to post with this entry are taking forever to upload and I'm ready for bed. Tomorrow, I have to get up early and fly to Xiamen, a city on the Chinese side of the Strait of Taiwan, for two days' job (excellent). So I'm going to leave you with this, hit the sack, and ch-check you on Friday. 'Night!
Boss quiff, Winnie. Or is that your brother Lonnie?
My third favorite flavor behind IndigenousBQ and Sour Cream 'n' Native.
I went out on my bike yesterday and committed the same idiocy that I admonished myself for in my last post: "It doesn't LOOK cold out there. I don't want to get all sweaty. This jacket will be fine." I went out criminally underdressed and was freezing within an hour. I steeled myself and ended up having a good ride, but on the way home I was so cold that I adjourned to a public bathhouse to thaw.
It was my first time in a Chinese bathhouse; I've done it in Japan and Korea but protocol is always different and the first time is always so fraught with gaffes and misunderstandings that it takes all my concentration to remain circumspect and not blunder amok. I was pretty stoked in the gaudy gilt lobby of this place: there were photos on the walls of a luxurious soaking area with four pools and a bunch of plants and ridic statues, and I'd read a magazine article about attendants proffering apple slices and glasses of cool tea to the soaking (male) author. I made it through the lobby and the changing area (read: the get-completely-nekkid area), and then discovered that all the luxury and the soaking pools were on the men's side of the bathhouse only! The ladies' side consisted of a bank of showerheads, a sauna, a steam room, and a massage/gommage area where jammie-clad attendants waited to administer treatments.
So. No hot tubs. Whatever. I showered, I steamed, I exchanged overt body gawks with some nekkid Chinese chicks, then proceeded to the massage tables. The menu of treatments was on the wall in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English. These were the options: *Help Bath *Push Salt *Push Milk *Scrapping *Fine oil
All of the treatments were RMB 38 (=US$5.55), so at random I pointed to "Scrapping" and mounted up prone on the table. The attendant extracted a small, rigid plastic spatula (looked like a cheese spreader) and a wooden coin the size of a quarter, and commenced to scrape them vigorously across my back. Nerve endings being thin on the ground back there, I couldn't tell exactly how thoroughly she was covering the territory, but I assumed that "scrapping" must mean "exfoliation" and that's what she must be up to, even as it started to kind of hurt. Massages kind of hurt in China, getting one's hair done kind of hurts. Shit just kind of hurts sometimes, so I lay there impassively. Nothing seemed amiss. Just havin' the ol' back exfoliated.
I feel like a genius whenever I participate in a successful communication event in Mandarin, even if it's just asking the cashier for a plastic bag at the convenience store. I will be smug for weeks about recognizing this fanciful interpretation of the character for "congee." Now I am not only a scintillating Mando conversationalist, I'm a reader of fine Chinese literature. "Elyse Sewell, Mandarin Scholar Laureate and Calligrapher-Poet. She was too scantily clad to enter the mosque."
Imagine the planning session that preceded this expedition. If you have access to a good mental cholo (I mean, if there's a cholo in your head who can perform the dialog, not a fleshly cholo who is "mental" in the British sense), ask him to read it to you. That's the accent I'm imagining.
"How're we gonna get all this shit back to the place?"
"We could load up your trike."
Then the discovery that the pedals could not be reached!
"We're gonna need more guys."
You can't even see that the guy on the blue electric bike behind the company is also pushing from the back!
Additionally, I think this entire shoot will be up on photographer Baldovino Barani's website soon, but meanwhile:
( Read more...Collapse ) With some fricking congee! Awesome. This joint only served fish congee, my favorite kind. I ordered sliced fish with ginger because I know how to say it in Canto, but as I was eating I jealously watched the waitress delivering bowls with intact dorsal fins sticking, sharklike, out of them.