China Diary

Day 47: A Dog Year

Ah, another joyous trip to the Visa Renewal Office half an hour car ride away, and another instant rejection at the counter because now they were missing a correct stamp. We waited for another two hours at the office, after which I got fed up, informed Crystal the assistant that me and Mika would be getting the hell out of there and they’ll let us know when they have the papers in order.

Back at the office, I finally got to hear the rundown of the changes for the script. Max had worked with the Chinese writer and produced a five pages longer script, which focuses on some important points of the movie, but luckily didn’t really change the key set pieces too much. I had feared we might be in for a huge production overhaul, but it seems it’s all “just” in the dialogue and the logic behind everything, so it should be controllable.

The office guys thought they’ll run a little practical joke on me today. For lunch, I asked for a hamburger, but instead of a normal burger they – for whatever Chinese comedic reason that evades me – they ordered a 1,5kg burger the size of a pizza! It took nearly two hours to produce and when it landed on our table, we both were nearly knocked off of our chairs with Mika. Who’s gonna eat that? Not me (at least: not all… and in the end, I ate half of it). That, of course, led to a feelings of self-loathe, instant ugliness, dramatic weight gain and other fun stuff that comes along when eating nearly 1kg of utter crap… And remember, yesterday I had had a burger as well.

So when I came back to the hotel, I went to the gym to sweat off some of the disgust I had accumulated, and managed pretty well in it, actually. I spent good nearly two hours there, listening to a handful of podcasts (my favorites are in addition to Dan Savage’s magnificient Savage Love Podcast, also BBC’s History Extra -podcast, How Stuff Works -podcast and Mark Kermode’s film podcast) and working on the weights.

The Internet Gods who dwell this hotel blessed my floor with pretty good connection, so I managed to finish this Jeff Bridges -movie “A Dog Year”, a TV-movie from 2009 which did gain him an Emmy nomination, and no wonder. The film itself was easily brushed off as a typical midlife crisis film with dogs, but instead of the dogs being intelligent, talking superhero Lassies of the story, they were just dogs. Lovable, a bit dumb and absolutely out of control – but it was more about Jeff’s character, a bitter writer fighting writer’s block (I wonder how many films like that are in existence, not to mention novels…) and how he learns – you guessed it – something about himself.

Oh, and we did get our Visas renewed, Mika for another 30 days, me for another 60… We had asked for a longer extension, so that we wouldn’t have to fly around during the shoot which only has one day off each week and we’d rather spend it relaxing than sitting in planes en route to Seoul or Hong Kong, but oh well. At least we don’t have to fly out right away…

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