Once again I am compressing my life into a few boxes and making a major move. This time the destination is Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China. I’m leaving behind Hong Kong, which has been my home for the past 2 years. Looking back, I feel like I’ve only been here a few weeks. Hong Kong is easily one of the most interesting and wonderful cities I’ve ever visited. I feel like I’m walking out of a dream. The richness and diversity of culture, people, cuisine, nature, and life has to be lived to be understood… I feel very lucky for the friends and the experiences that filled my life here.

Hong Kong SkylineLast Supper

This morning I wished Ken Wong farewell as he headed to Australia for some time with his family. I travel to Shanghai ahead of him to secure living arrangements and office space. Together, we managed to squish our collected possessions into ~10 boxes, weighing a total of 140kg. We’re feeling there’s a 50/50 chance that any individual box will actually make it to us in Shanghai – or at least make it semi-intact. Chinese post offices do not fill one with confidence. But then, what post offices do?
Life CompressedLamma Ferry

My cat is traveling to Shanghai by a combination of boat, subway, train, and domestic flight. By the time she gets there her trip will have cost more than the combined total of mine and Ken’s airfare and moving costs. Seriously, moving a cat from country to country is neither easy or cheap. At least she’s not going by post.

Once in Shanghai I’ll start reporting on the establishment of the new development studio there. Our trials and tribulations should be interesting and amusing – at least to the outside observer. Expect more details on our first production soon.

Shanghai, here we come!

Bad Day LA – Translation Laughs

Living in Hong Kong, I’m constantly frustrated by the complexity of the Cantonese language – what some have called “the most difficult language in the world.” Others call it “WTF?!”.

As an example, take the word “Gau” (say it like “now” with a “G”). Depending on the tone you use, Gau can mean: 9, enough, dog, dumpling, or “cock” (sexual connotation, not a rooster). “Gau m’gau” is how you ask, “Have you had enough?” or “Gna yau ho die gau!” can mean either “I have a very big DOG!” OR “I have a very big COCK!” – all depending on how you pronounce the tone. On my island is a shop which advertises a “Gau mung, gau chun, gau.” or “9 dollar, 9 inch, dog.” You can see where gwielo (foriengers) can get themselves in serious trouble. “I’ll have a 9 inch cock, please.” Yeah, put some mustard on that.

But, as it turns out, Cantonese isn’t the only language where these problems exist. I’ve been reviewing translation questions from the European BDLA publishers today… and having a good laugh. I thought I’d share:

ANTHONY: Gang members! Pssssht. I’ll show them a member.

Publisher: What he means by “I’ll show them a member. ” ? What is the situation ?

American: “Member” can refer to the male sexual anatomy – “Touch my member!” or “My what a large member you have!” – “Member” can also mean a part of a group, or in this instance, a gang. Anthony is mixing the two meanings of the word in order to make a joke.

Double entendre doesn’t seem to cross international borders.

ANTHONY: Damn girl, you so fat when you cross the street cars look out for you!

Publisher: Meaning “when you cross the street, cars look out for you” or “when you cross, the street cars look out for you” ?

American: Usually a person looks for cars when crossing the street. This woman is so fat that it works the other way around: cars try to avoid her.

I guess “fat jokes” don’t work either.

ANTHONY: Touch my hot dog!

Publisher: what he means ?

American: “Hot dog” once again refers to the male anatomy, as in “keep your hot dog in your pants” or “I’ve got the hot dog and you got the buns.” in this context anthony is making a joke about being searched by an airport security guard.

Sadly, innuendo also fails.

ANTHONY: Yo! Chill it leaf blowers!

Publisher: stay quite, mexicans ! ??

American: This means “calm down my mexican friends.”

Even the goofy racial euphemism doesn’t work.
Who says English is easy?

Lamma Move

Two weekends ago I moved house from Hong Kong Island to Lamma Island. Lamma is a quick 25 minute ferry ride from Central, HK. It is an… interesting place, to say the least. The island’s inhabitants are an eclectic mix of Cantonese locals, expat teachers from all corners of the globe, and semi-retired/retired Methuselahs seeking shelter from chilly winters in their homelands. I’m not quite sure where I fit in to all of this just yet, but I’m enjoying the strangeness of it all and getting some good writing done, so it makes for a decent home.

The move from Hong Kong was pretty simple, partly because I’ve been trying hard not to accumulate too much stuff. A year ago, I arrived in Hong Kong with only my laptop, cat, and two bags of clothes. In the interim I’ve accumulated stuff, more than I would like, but necessary stuff. Still, everything was packed away in less than a day. The movers made short work of the boxes and furniture, hauling everything down to their truck in an hour. One of the movers was so old I thought he might die, but he survived.

leaving boxes
boxes boxes

So far, so normal. But the next bit was kinda cool. Lamma Island is only accessible by boat (or helicopter in an emergency). All my possessions were unloaded at the Lamma ferry pier. Normally each bit of cargo on the boat has to be paid for. The cargo price list is odd. It lists things like Roast Pig ($30), Coffin ($15), Playstation ($80), etc. Who decides that a Playstation should cost more than a roast pig anyway? Weird. All my stuff ended up costing less than $300! Awesome nonsense, thanks in full to my lovely Cantonese moving assistant 😉 (Btw, all these prices are in HK $, so $300 roughly equals US$36 – Cheap, considering how much stuff I had.)

Next, movers and the stuff waited for the boat. Normally, cargo is only allowed on the “slow” ferry, which travels at a pokey 16knts. By some stroke of luck the “fast” ferry (22knts, woo!) came in its place… and the movers were allowed to load the stuff! Next thing you know all my possessions are crammed into the passenger compartment at the front of the boat! It was pretty funny to witness normally unperturbed Hong Kong residents suddenly confronted with the unexpected: Furniture where they want to sit. Some brave souls actually crawled over my things to get at the blocked seats. They then spent the harbor crossing in fear of their lives as mattresses and cabinets, rocked by the waves, threatened to fall on their heads.

boxes boxes
boxes boxes

The cat hates being inside her carrier. The last time she was in there she had to endure a 30+hr trip from Los Angeles to her new home in Hong Kong. She was not pleased. Eventually, she and all the other cargo were unloaded at Lamma and schlepped, by hand, to the new abode. Once in her new home the cat was quiet happy. She now has a massive outside roof deck that she can easily access, a sea view, and lots more room to lounge around.

island view island view 2
office fish

Above you can see the new view, my new office, and the view out my office window to the street below. That woman is selling dried fish or something similar. This part of Lamma is great. It’s a little noisy and busy when compared to some of the more remote parts of the island, but also very convenient. There are no cars on this island, so you either walk or ride a bike whenever you need to go somewhere. Just outside my door are a dozen different places to eat, several grocery stores, and more than a few bars.

Living and working here has been great so far. Already I’m more than half-way through the Oz screenplay and really liking what is coming out. There are zero distractions during the day, so the island is a perfect place to write. Speaking of, need to get back at it…

BDLA Interview

A new Bad Day LA interview is up on Derek dela Fuente’s article begins…

Over the last few years American McGee has started to establish himself as somewhat of a cult figure and a voice that many are keen to listen to. His latest creation, billed American McGee Presents: Bad Day L.A., is a third-person action/adventure game that weaves a wild storyline and offers a unique art style.

Cult figure? Hm.

Anyway, lots of new screenshots are available along with the article. I would post a few of them here, but sadly I am limping along on modem power. No broadband in the new home on Lamma… yet. I feel like a caveman and am so disconnected from the world!

As soon as full power is restored I’ll post some info about the move. My favorite part was seeing the lower deck of the Hong Kong->Lamma ferry jammed full of my stuff.

Year of the Dog

Another Happy Chinese New Year! Last year it was fireworks in the streets of Shanghai. This year some friends and me watched the fireworks from my roof deck high above Hong Kong. The main display lasted for something like 30 minutes! To be honest, I got a little bored halfway through and went back to BBQ’ing. There were just too many fireworks! After a while there was so much smoke that you could no longer see the fireworks. The picture below will give you some idea just how much smoke there was. This was taken a half-hour after the show. You can see that most of the city is still blanketed in a massive cloud. If it hadn’t been for the fireworks none of that haze would have existed.

Anyway, should be a great year. From what I understand, my “Rat” sign “does not anger the God” this year. Woof!

HK Smoke