Filed in Press, TVB (H.K.) 香港無線電視, Work, 中文文章Tags:

拍戲最辛苦的是甚麼?是由下午五點一直拍到凌晨五點十一個小時?是每天上班的時間不一樣,讓你在生活上安排別的活動有必定的困難?或是工作不穩定,不知道下一個月的租金從那兒來?雖然這些因素都有,卻不是最辛苦的。最辛苦的就是等。

昨天,我們開始一連五天拍幾場武打戲。每場有兩個人在場中對打,而旁邊還有二十多人觀看,分別有第一組,第二組和評判們。拍武打也不簡單。每個動作,每個角度,每個反應都需要分開拍,而且需要拍得既刺激又好看,絕對不容易。

在打場中間對打的演員和身邊幾個武術指導當然很忙,但在旁邊的演員就很難過,就是因為要等。只是鏡頭見到我們在後邊的時候,我們才要工作,做出合適的反應。這沒有辦法,我們也都明白。拍戲拍了那麼多年,我們知道這種場景是怎麼樣的,上班以前已經有心理準備,也準備好了一些東西能幫我們渡過這個晚上。

但是,電視攝影廠也不是一個十分安全的地方。雖然我們希望每個人都信得過,可是這個世界上哪個地方沒有壞人?所以比較貴重的玩具,例如手提光碟機,電子遊戲機,電腦,我們都不太敢帶來。

只不過十一個小時真是很長的時間。怎麼過呢?有些人談天說地,談幾個小時也不成問題,還有人看書或看報紙,還有人玩手提電子遊戲機‭ ‬(很小的,可以放落口袋裡),也有人唱歌又或者聽音樂,當然也有人睡覺。但是不論怎樣都好,要等的時候,十一個小時就是很久很久。

雖然在等的時候應該可以做很多不同的活動,但始終做不到想像中那麼多。可能這個情況跟去外家的家一樣。雖然大家的關係很好,但談話的時候談了十分鐘就已經沒話說了,而就算已帶著自己的玩具在身,仍然沒有興趣玩。始終,地方不是自己的,就沒有那種舒服感,那種安定。所以在攝影廠拍這種旁觀戲的時候,大部份的時間就只有等。

等得久了,人的腦子很容易停頓,麻木的感覺也會有。但在一個演員做戲的時候,腦子一定要維持清醒。如果沒有精神就很難演好戲。身為一個專業的演員,怎麽可以讓這種情況出現呢?

不過我們已經算好了。我們這次只要忍四五天,而且還可以選擇一邊等一邊做我們的小活動。有很多人,他們的工作每天基本上就是等。很多老人家在沒有其它「搵食」方法之下只好做看更的工作‬,而他們工作的環境需要他們獨自工作,亦沒有機會跟別人一起。我覺得這樣的工作是一種折磨。就算像我一個人不需要經常有人陪自己,但怎麼能每天都過那樣孤獨的生活呢?

我做不到。你呢?

Captioned images

Filed in Technology

Some of you may have already noticed. I've now added captions to my images. I think it's far superior to relying on Image Title parameters (ie, the Tool Tip text popups you usually see) and adds value to the images. I've been developing them for quite some time but couldn't get the images to centre on the page until today when a couple of nice people on the css discussion list gave me pointers. The web community is truly a great and helpful place.

I don't know how they look in IE but they look great in Opera, FireFox, Safari and OmniWeb.

A green visitor

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the Day

A few weeks ago, I returned home with some of our children after taking them for their nightly walk. While taking their leashes off, they seemed very curious about something in one corner of the court area where our gas canisters are kept. A couple of the dogs even displayed sudden reactions to something that I could not at the time see in the dark that is night.

After letting the dogs through to the main garden area, I went back to take a look at the gas canisters. I was curious too and wanted to see what had them acting so unusually. It didn't take me long to spot the reason. A green snake was wrapped around the tap of the gas canister looking pretty scared. I guess I would be scared too if several dogs one hundred times as large as myself suddenly started poking their wet warm windy noses in my direction.

I couldn't leave him there. It was too dangerous and I couldn't be sure that he'd find his way back to the bush from whence he came, so I had to think of a way to move him. The first thing I did though was grab my camera because he was a really nice looking snake.

A green visitor

The green snake was wrapped around the tap of the gas canister, feeling just as nervous of me as I felt of him.

I don't know if it was the multiple flashes from the camera as it tried to focus on the snake in the dark, but the snake remained fairly quiet as I photographed it. I was actually quite nervous about getting too close to the snake because he was still standing in defensive mode and I didn't feel like getting bitten.

I gathered a barbeque fork and a large white bucket. The idea was to use the fork to encourage the snake into the bucket whose smooth sides would hopefully keep the snake from slivering out while I transported it back to the bush. Imagine my surprise when the snake wrapped itself around the fork and stayed there.

I quickly put the bucket down, moved around to an area of the house with better light and took a few more pictures. The pictures were ok but not great. Perhaps because of a lack of experience or perhaps because I didn't have time to set up everything perfectly, none of the photos were accurately focussed. There were still two good photos though and I'm glad I have them because the snake with its green body, yellow belly and red tail looked incredible.

Curled tight

He (probably a male because the colours are relatively sharp) wrapped himself around the bbq fork and remained there, quiet and calm.

Having taken the photos, I walked out to the bush behind our garden and positioned the fork and the snake wrapped around it near the branches of a small tree. The snake very quickly moved off into the tree and I returned home to study the photos.

I liked the photos so much that I've converted one of them to be the background on my Nokia phone. He looks real cool and I guess it's appropriate anyway because I'm actually a 'snake' person; born in 1965.

What was rather peculiar about that night was the conversation I had with our elderly neighbour that very morning. She was going on about how she had instructed her relative to cut back the branches on a couple of trees next to the path we use to come and go from our homes. She was worried about snakes coming down from the trees and biting people and I was thinking that she was worrying just a little too much. It's really strange that the green snake would appear in our own garden that very night. Weird!

The next day, our maid came looking for me and asked me to look at Beethoven. I was surprised to see his nuzzle swollen so badly but knew immediately what had happened. He didn't seem to be in any discomfort though and a call to the vet assured me that if the snake bite was deadly, Beethoven would have died within a couple of hours of the bite.

Swollen, nice and round.

Beethoven's nuzzle was quite swollen in the morning; big and round. There is no lens distortion in this photo. His nuzzle really was this big! If you look closely, you can see the two puncture marks about half way between his nose and his eyes.

It must have been the week of the local snake gathering because a few nights later, we saw another snake. While driving home late at night with three or four cars behind us, I saw something shimmering near the edge of the approaching road. I slowed down and had more than enough time to realise that it was a snake planning to cross the road. I stopped the car completely, much to the cagrin of the drivers behind us, and waited for the snake to cross the road. It was a python, probably at least five or six feet long. As he crossed the middle of the road, a minibus was approaching from the other direction. Typical Chinese people living in our area wouldn't think twice about running over a snake on the road and I flashed my headlights at the driver hoping to slow him down. He slowed but not enough and continued straight down the road. The snake was lucky. He managed to compress himself; like you would compress a spring; just enough to fit between the right and left wheels of the minibus as it passed over him, and he then continued safely to the other side of the road and climbed or rather jolted himself up the embankment and into the bush.

I knew we have pythons in the neighbourhood. I just never expected to be lucky enough to see one. My only regret is that I wasn't able to get out of the car and take a picture. I don't think the cars behind me would have appreciated the wait.

It's a rather interesting neighbourhood when I think of it. We have snakes, interesting birds (there are a few very unusual birds I'd love to photograph if I ever get the chance), monkeys, large spiders, large lizards and even wild bores (ie, pigs). There are also some very interesting flying beetles, one variety of which had relatives in the local news a few weeks ago when it was reported that the furniture in the new Disneyland hotels was being eaten from the inside out. They beetles are called wood borers and I've observed them making homes in the bamboo in our garden. I find it interesting to watch them using their bums to block the entrances to their nests in the bamboo when it rains. Maybe I'll show you photos of them at a later date if I can get a few great shots.

Quiet on the blog front

Filed in Technology

My apologies to those of you waiting and hoping for new articles from me. I've been very busy over the last few weeks with computer upgrades and developments. I've also spent considerable time watching Dragon Ball Z and am currently spending every night at TVB working on a new series in which I only have a few scenes but because of the martial arts involved; I'm not the one fighting; require an exorbitant amount of time filming every night from five or six in the afternoon through to five or six in the early morning.

It is quite normal for me to require a rest after a period of being very busy. The computer upgrades and work I've done over the last few weeks took a lot out of me and I've not had the mental energy to write anything for the blog.

In addition, I've thought about the blog a lot and really want to avoid writing about daily trivial events. Some people have commented that blogs are digital diaries. I disagree but at the same time have to admit that it would be far easier for me to simply write about where I'll be and what I've eaten rather than about larger issues in general. I don't want this blog to be trivial so I've decided to keep triviality to a minimum. That means that articles won't be appearing frequently but those that do appear will hopefully be of a better quality and hopefully worth reading.

One piece of news. I've been asked to write a column for a local free newspaper called am730. My articles will be published once or twice a month and I'll copy them here as well after they've been published in the newspaper. Writing the articles will be difficult to say the least because the articles will be in Chinese, and they'll need to be interesting. Hopefully with time, my Chinese will improve, and hopefully, my readers will be patient with me in the early stages as I get adjusted to the new challenge of writing in Chinese.

Incidentally, if you are one of those loyal readers who visits my blog every day hoping to see a new article, remember that you can subscribe to the blog using the grey Bloglet subscription form under the Archives list to one side of the blog. Once subscribed, you'll be automatically notified by email of new articles posted to my blog.

Thank you everyone for remaining interested in my blog. I'll post again soon.

A friend leaves

Filed in Hong Kong, Life

One of our friends left us today. We took her to the airport and watched her leave after being a part of our lives for the last two years.

Asih; that's her name; was originally hired to look after my mother-in-law who with serious symptoms of diabetes and heart disease needed 24-hour care. Shortly after hiring Asih, my mother-in-law passed away.

Our own maid's contract was almost up for renewal and for various reasons including the fact that Asih could speak Cantonese, we decided to let the other maid go and stick with Asih.

Most Hong Kong people would already realise that Asih was Indonesian. Many Indonesian maids speak Cantonese while most Philippino maids has no knowledge of the language.

I've always considered Asih to be my mother-in-law's parting gift. From the first day, Asih almost never frowned, was almost always happy and generally was great to have around the house.

When she first began working for us, we moved my mother-in-law and Asih into our flat so that my wife could keep close to my mother-in-law. At the time, we already had eight dogs and Asih was pretty scared of them. Over time though, that changed and she became the dogs' best friend. Over the last two years, most of their walks have been with Asih with me only taking them out at night time. Almost all of their baths were done by Asih and almost all of their meals were organised by Asih. In addition to the usual dog food, Asih prepared beef heart rice once or twice a week for them using beef hearts that my wife took the time to buy each week from the local markets; the hearts by the way are very heavy.

Shortly after moving to our current address; two days before Christmas actually; Asih had an accident while taking the dogs out for their walk. While holding their leashes in her right hand and using her left hand to close the gate behind her, one of the dogs stood up and lunged forwards away from her. The unexpected and sudden jolt pulled Asih full force into a concrete pillar and she snapped one of her front teeth.

Asih was a happy girl and the last thing we wanted to take away from her was her smile, so we decided to take her to our regular dentist and fix her up as best as we could. Our dentist was amazing. He was able to use a new solution to extend and remould the broken front tooth so that it was almost impossible to tell that it had been broken. An xray showed that the root of the tooth had also broken straight across but the dentist was able to re-glue the root by carefully injecting a special solution into the root of the tooth at the break. The result was a tooth that even today is strong and always ready to smile. Consequently, Asih remained a happy person, always ready to show that great smile of hers.

It's unfortunate that in Hong Kong, many people mistreat their maids. The maids are forced to work from early morning to late night, sometimes without a break. Some maids are not allowed to take off the mandatory one-day-a-week holiday, and some; most notably Indonesian maids; are only paid half the legal minimum wage by their employers who conspire with the domestic helper agency to defraud the maid for their own financial benefits. Many people believe that there is little to no racial discrimination in Hong Kong but at the same time consider the Philippino and Indonesian maids to be far beneath them. In many cases, the only difference between the maids and would-be-slaves is their salaries. It's cases like these that we see otherwise civilised people behaving more like animals than people. It's unfortunate and depressing.

Asih left us today to go back home and care for her own sick mother. We will miss her but we'll see her again soon. In September, she will be getting married, and I'll be there in her home town to see the wedding and share the occasion with her. It'll be great fun.

Like my father, I like to go to non-modern places, walk around, watch the people, and observe the architecture and environment. I don't mind sleeping on the floor. I don't mind not being able to stand in a shower to bathe. I don't mind that there isn't any air conditioning, and I don't mind eating different food. I love the experience.

It's rather disappointing that most tours from Hong Kong to any other place in the world try to organise Chinese food for the tour group. If you're travelling to another place, why aren't you trying the local food? In addition, the Chinese food that is arranged for the tour group is usually sub-standard to keep costs down. On the few tours that I've taken with my wife to various places in Asia, we've often chosen to leave the group during meals and find our own food. On at least one occasion, it saved us from indigestion. While we were eating authentic Indonesian Indian food, the tour group was eating bad seafood at a Chinese restaurant and they all came down with diarrhoea.

I leave for Indonesia in the middle of September. I'll be met at the Bali airport by Asih and her family and we'll then take a privately booked minibus for a seven-hour road trip to her home town. I'll be there for four days, just enough time to see the wedding and enjoy the scenery, after which I'll return to Bali to join my wife for another four days before coming back to Hong Kong. I'll be taking my camera so I'll have plenty of photos to show everyone when I get back.

We will miss her here though. Her energy and her happy personality lifted spirits in our home and that will be greatly missed. But I'm happy for her.

Take care Asih, and have a great life.