Thursday, December 27, 2007

magic moment

So last night i am sitting in a cafe in yangshuo nd a canadian bar tender from the bar across the street comes in completely hammered see's all of us sitting around asks us why we arethere tells us there are no girlsin thebar and he know a bar up the street packed full of beautiful women and we should all go there. he then tells us he is going to gotake a shit and when he comesback be ready. he then goes to the bathroom and is gone for 25 minutes ... when he comes back he says goodbye. one guy askedabout the going to the other bar and he is like "uhh... no thats off". I think we were all relieved he lost interest.

ten minutes later he returnsholding his bottom lip which is bleeding a tiny bit. he tellsus someone just punched him in the face. I ask him who punched him. his reponse was classic:
"a girl who apparently doesn't want to have sex with me!"

it was downhill from there.

xmas in yangshuo

so the cold in beijing was really getting to me. nick mentioned he was gonna bail down to yangshuo for xmason a 600 kuai flight. I followed.

now i am down in yangshuo it is freezing and raining.

not only that my atm card isn't working and i have like $100.

hopfully somethingwill work it self out a long ass train ride back will be a few hundred kuai and i can survive a few more daysthan i will just roll back to beijing on a train.

karma wise i must be fucked. and i imagine it will only get more worse in india....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

making a new demo reel.

so my hard drive stop working about 6 months ago and i have been trying to make a new demo reel ever since.

i bought all the bootleg dvd's and have been unsuccessfully trying to rip them ever since.

on a mac in osx does anyone know how to rip the files so they are usable to edit in after effects.

before i ripped them with mac the ripper and converted them to quicktime movies in handbrake which worked great but now its taking for hours to turn the the vob files into mp4 and they are to slow to use???

if anyone has advice please let me know.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

chinese wisdom

Don't lend wings to a tiger. If it had wings it would fly to the cities, seize the people and eat them.
Nan Fei, Prince of the State of Han

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

forgot one

forgot to post this one. this was in langmusi a little tibetean village on the border of sichuan and gansu province. this is where and when i had the yak burger that made me ... uhm yak.

it had snowed and was freezing cold in this village.

Monday, December 17, 2007

black and white photos

more results from round one i so far have 5 rolls of b&w and 5 of color back.

i varied up the b&w a bit but these are all tmax 400 rolls. i didn't use a filter and right now kind of wish i did i am not really happy with the way these came out i think the portraits in yangshuo were much stronger because of the higher contrast.

?I am digging the look on the color though bright sunny dessert days combined with kodak 400vc resulted in a really high contrast look and washed out colors which was what i was hoping for.

anyways would love to here some thoughts. got lots more in the lab so next week should have more.

b&w pt 1

black and white photos pt2

pictures 1

got about 10 rolls of film developed to make sure they survived the trip. got like 40 more to go. so here is a brief preview of some of the color photos. also got lots of B&W to post tomorrow. Thought comments questions are always encouraged.

pt 2

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

blog poll

seeing as there was a comment regarding an anonymous betting pool on when i will meet my demise. ( when... not if ) I am wondering who reads this crap.

If you are reading this please hook a brother up and leave a comment and in it post your name ( gang aliases are OK ), location ,and which super friend you identify with most.

red china blues

this quote from my cousin makes me laugh:
"take some photos of hookers drinking Russian vodka under a neon sign espousing the virtues of the worker’s paradise."

this was in reference to embassy district over by ritan park. he had visited beijing when i was gone and we were chatting about the sketchy-ness of the neighborhood. he got a little too close to the North korean embassy and got chased away by a commie! I told him i had to go ther this morning for my indian visa. anyways i forgot my camera but at 10:30 in the morning all the elements were in place.

but the "worker's paradise" thing is what makes me laugh. the professional man of leisure is having employment issues...errrr i mean finance issues... as in after india i will have none.

so about a months ago I got a random call from an australian studio the one that did that penguin movie happy feet. they had offered me a position on happy ffet which i declined because the offer sucked and they were shady... and i was also rather busy meeting the robinsons... then happy feet won an oscar and M.T.R. ends up being as bad as black cauldron....just the thought of M.T.R. makes me never want to work in animation again.

anyways they sent me an e-mail out of the blue asking if i was interested in working on the live action film of "where the wild things are" directed by spike jonez. DREAM PROJECT. and it was in sydney australia and it is now summer in sydney as oppossed to winter in beijing. but the problem is about half a dozen people warned me not to work at this studio... and they were all right.

anyways long story short it was an experience similiar to buying a used car i expressed a lot of interest and they made me the worst offer ever but tried to make it look like they were doing me a huge favor by letting me work at their 3rd world studio. they lied to me about a bunch of stuff got really shady telling me the weekly rate was based of a 45 hour week but it was really 50 hours with free lunch break ( no free food ) but the math was still 50 hours so they made it look like it was a higher hourly rate than it really was....and the offer was only 2/3 thirds of what they offered me before and with currency conversions less than i have EVER made in my life which is crazy because the australian dollar is rocking right now. if their shitty currency went back down i would have made like $6hr. the deal all around sucked but they kept trying to leverage me with the fact they were letting me work on a dream project and live in sydney. aso that was short story long but the moral is FUCK ANIMAL LOGIC!

Anyways i should have handled it more professionally and probabely could have negotiated a better deal but when i was offered the worst deal EVER. Instead of asking for a better deal and negotiating like a professional I simply told them i have never recieved such a low offer and i was not now or ever interested in working for them. in otherwords i got all LA on them and acted like an asshole. i could hear the flames burning my bridge to australia all the way in china.

Not sure what to do now employment wise. in chengdu i randomly ended up filling in for a guy who couldn't work and taught english for 2 days. it was the worst experience ever. i made around $150 for 10 hours work which wasn't bad for china. the thing is most people enjoy giving a little back every once in a while... I DO NOT. the kids were evil godless little bastards. and each class had about 40 of the little commie devils. the chinese assistants were evil bitches as well. whenever the kids got crazy they pulled the old "im just the assistant your the the one making all the money so i am sure you can handle it." it was hell. wont ever do it again. i used to love kids and as a career i have made quality entertainment for children. fuck i even worked on "Veggie Tales"... now i HATE children. i tell you one can only be punched in the balls so many times before you want to bite their little ears off. I also think the fact that my name "Ben" means stupid in chinese put as at odds right from the start.

anyways I am currently talking to a number of chinese CG studios looking for alternatives and it is hell. 1st thing is i lost all my data on my hard drive and now i am having to make a new reel from scratch which is a massive pain.

But other than that i hate being scrutinized by people who wouldn't be hired as interns back in the US. I figured a chinese company would love to have me but they seem to be looking for reasons to hate me.

Tomorrow I am going to visit a studio with some people brought in from the US as supervisors. I hope they will be different but I am showing up right away without a reel which make me the guy who shows up for class with out his homework. might as well set the pace and keep it real because.... i really am that guy.

anyways this whole W-word thing is stressing me out. I have been making cartoons for the past 5 years and have been getting paid way more than anyone my age should. I dont really know how to do anything else and i am not used to being financially restricted. maybe it will be character building.

Monday, December 10, 2007

whats next?

So out of the blue one night i literally packed all my shit and went to the trains tation and jumped a midnight overnight sleeper train back to beijing.

Lots of changes in beijing some new faces in the crowd and a few of the oldtimers are moving on. the weather is also very different from when i left.

nly time will tell what the coming year will bring. I don't know much but what i do know this the weather here is completely miserable. its what i imagine winter is like in jersey. So i decided i must find someplace warm to go even though i just got back from someplace warm.

I just bought a ticket for dehli. so even though i just got back in a couple weeks i am off to India for around 10 weeks.

Monday, December 3, 2007

yangste river booze cruise

too many stories....

So I was in chongching and i took the 4 day river cruise down the yangste to see hte 3 gorges. i/ got some chinese book and intended to spend 4 days studying chinese chatting with the locals and soaking up the picturesque chinese landscape. well all of that went horribly awry. This first sign of this was the fact that the titanic soundtrack was playing over the ships loudspeakers.

The first night I got on board about 7pm and checked out my swanking 3rd class cabin and introduced myself to the 5 40 something chinese ladies i would be rommies with for the next 4 days. they spoke zero english and it was clear they were not thrilled to have a lao wai in their room escpecially one as handsome as me. so i decided the best thing to do was hydrATE FOR THE JOURNEY AHEAD. I headed to the top deck where they charged people 55kuai for a "VIP" pass. Wherever i roll i do IT in style so i got a vip pass and a beer. i in chinese chatted with the 2 girls working there. was getting my chinese practice on. After a while the rest of the foriegners on board all kind of congregated up there. there were 6 others who i joined for a few beverages. night one we swapped stories and had a few MORE beverages and they kept joking about it being a booze cruise. By the time the boat got under way I was feeling he dou le. after a few hours we realised we were the only people in there all the chinese people went off to bed to get ready for the 6am tour. when it closing time they told me to go to sleep and take all the other white people with me. I played the dumb foriegner game and just kept repeating "i don't understand, I don't speak chinese" then they proceeded to tell me that earlier i understood them. i then told them "i forgot how to speak chinese" they then asked if i forgot how come i understood them asking me about earlier. damn those tricky little xiao jies. I then told them it was going to be like this everynight and resistance was futile. then we discovered 2 of the other lao waiis had a 1st class room to themselves! the party continued.

Next morning i awoke around 6:30am to my new roomates chatting in a rather boisterous manner. around 10:30am i decided to stop hiding under the covers and went to look for food. it was at this point i discovered i had missed the breakfast, the hot water, and the morning tour. It was foggy outside so i decided to grab a book and head to the vip lounge. The rest of the white people were already there chantting booze cruise and someone handed me a rather lage bottle of beer.
I then realized they were cleary intent on drinking themsleves to death before the boat got down river. They had no intention of anything other than having a booze cruise. the next 3 days are blurry.

At one point along the cruise they hearded us into seperate boats to tour the 3 little gorges. they then decided to divide and conquor us by seperating the shit faced white people into seperate small boats. at the end we all got back around 6:30 and were handed tickets to something and 3 of us were put on a bus not knowing where the others were or where we were going the tourguide who spoke bad english pointed to an old chinese couple and told us to follow them. the bus head up this incredible steep hill from the docks and through what appeared to be a red light district. then we arrived in from on a massive square filled with old chinese people doing line dancing and were directed to a communist party building. we were then told the show didnt start for and hour. we found a resturant and had a little snack. the proprietor of the resturant asked my all kinds of questions in chinese. the standard ones foreigners hear all the time. ni shi na guo ren -where r u from. ni zou shenme- whats your job. having heard this a million times i decided to fuck with him. in chinese told him i was and american and that i was a porn star. ( huang pian ming xing ) and i was here on vacation for 2 weeks. he then asked me how i could speak chinese. i told him in america everyone speaks fluent chinese. he was fucking flabbergasted. now that we were old friends he confided in me that we should not go to the show that it sucked and he offered to take us to any one of the vast nuber of brothels this port town possed and that he could take us to one that only cost 50 kuai. SCARY.

We then went to the show which was an interpetational dance of a family giving up its residence in order for the chinese government to build the dam which rose the water level 250 meters and displace millions of people. It was a beautiful tale of sacrifice and the audience FUCKING LOVED IT. I thought it resembles the dance performance the big lebowksi landlord did before the met aurther digby sellars son lary and went to the in and out burger on radford.

we were then hearded back onto buses and down through the redlight district seeing all the chinese men returning to the boat while there wives looked out from the bus from the dance show. this town obviously has something for everybody.

we got back to the boat and the rest of the booze cruise crew was no where to be found. We then hit the VIP and it was also earily empty. I then asked the girls working in the VIP lounge why it was empty they told me that everyone was off in the town froliking. I then felt incredibly stupid and asked when the boat left they told me not until 7am the next morning. MUTHERFUCKERS. we could been out exploring hidden kareoke hotspots on the yangste but instead we ended up at some lame ass modern dance thing. i was feeling swindled by the tour guides who were obviously keeping this information from us in fear that they might loose one of the white people. We then decided to right some wrongs and hit the town.

On the way outside the tour guide asked us where we were going i said "nowhere" the other guy wanted confirmation of when the boat was leaving. so i in chinese i asked when the boat was leaving in crystal clear english i got the response "DO NOT LEAVE THE BOAT" i said if someone were toleave the boat what time should they be back she then reiterated her point and said "DO NOT LEAVE THE BOAT". I said if one were to perhaps want to sing karoke in town then return she again said "DO NOT LEAVE THE BOAT". I was determined to make a break for it when i heard a sudden cry and a splash and then one of the other guys ran after me saying "quick come with me"

our freind thomas had apparently jumped out of 4th storie window into the waters below. we saw him swimming then everyone else on the boat came looking from balconies.

next thin i know thomas was gone and all the chinese people had designated me there official lao wai embassador. they came to me and asked what my friend did. I told them "i don't have any friends" they asked about the other white people i insisted i didn't know them they assured me they had seen us together. then asked me a variety of question that when laowais from other countries chat what language do they speak in. i told them "lao wai yu".

I then proceeded to buy the rest of the beer on the boat ( about 12 big bottles ) and head to the first class cabin that thomas obviously jumped out of. When i got there it was a scene out of hunter s thomspon book. the 4 of them had managed to drink a few bottles of vodka and a bottle of bacardi.... hence thomas diving out a window. i ran back down stairs and bought a bottle of chinese rice wine and ran back up to keep the festivites alive.

After a while thomas was unable to stand so he went off to bed and the rest of went for a walk around the ship loooking for trouble. which of course we managed to find in a cabin full of drunk chinese people. they were drinking the strongest bijiu i have ever tasted. And as it appeared from the look of them they were clearly not on thier first bottle. they wanted to know who jumped off the boat and after a few to many bijiu i told them it was thomas and they all cheered and wanted to meet him fo rhtem selves. so we sent peter to go get thomas out of bed and bring the celebrity down to meet his new family. when he got back he was the greatest white person they ever met. i was the one translating or trying to translate under a haze of cheap chinese hooch. I then told of the guys friend said he looked like his cousing ( chinese pickup line ) one chinese guy then wanted to kick his ass while the other guy kept trying to grab it. you never know how a joke in chinese will translate... just when we were polishing of the last of the booze the ship security came and told us all to go to bed. we then snuck up to the empty VIP lounge for a roof top view and to finish the booze before bed.

after that the next day was lackluster we finished the cruise and were of to wuhan. i was going to go to shanghai from there but decided their was not much point. after the great boat ride of my life pretty much everythign else is all down hill.