December 20, 2008

12/20/08 Dress Warm Santa

What a wonderful week. We've had a bit of snow here in Ulaanbaatar, making everything a bit white (instead of sooty gray). And I gave my last exams and already have the final grades posted. This morning as I type though, I think we've hit another milestone in the winter weather. Even though it had been colder a few weeks ago, with the gusting winds today, the windchill is extremely low. But at least those winds have blown all the smog away. Here's the weather report for today. Check out those windchill temps!

But the best news this week was I had my first acting job. Yes, a paid (at least I think it's paid) acting job for Mongolian Education TV. What was my role you ask? Why, Santa Claus of course! They were filming a show called "Where is Santa Claus?", kind of an investigative reporter kind of thing and one of the TV executives who works a lot with the Buddhist Center (February will be Buddhist Month) and thought I'd be a perfect Santa. They picked me up on Wednesday and we went to shoot 'on location' outside of UB up into the mountains where they had trees and more snow.

Here's the setup for my scene. I was pretending to be a forest ranger working with my trees when I was approached by a TV reporter. He had heard that Santa Claus lived around here and asked if I was him. (The reporter spoke in Mongolian but I answered in English) I emphatically told him no, I wasn't Santa Claus. He commented that I sure did look like Santa Claus, and even asked to tug on my beard to see if it was real. But I kept insisting that no, I wasn't Santa Claus, and I thought Santa must live over the mountains, north of here. As he turned away to talk to the camera, I pulled out my red hat and opened my coat to show my Santa Claus outfit but looked over his shoulder and put my finger to my lips telling the audience to keep quiet, not to tell. But when the reporter turned back around, I had to whip off my red hat. As the reporter left to search in other places we both waved goodbye to each other. And when he was almost out of sight, I lifted my finger and snapped my fingers. Just like magic, I turned into a Mongolian Santa Claus. Wow, what a finish.

A Mongolian Santa Claus
(I'm not fat, I'm wearing four coats)

It was fun but I really thought my acting was oh so bad. The producer thought it was fine and thought it will look good on TV. Hopefully the crew can dub in real Mongolian dialogue over my terrible English lines. It was very, very cold while we were filming but in the end, the Santa suit was nice and toasty. Supposedly, they want me to film for another show this weekend. "Where is Santa Claus?" I think will air on Christmas Eve. I'll let ya' know how my debut goes. Don't worry, I'll keep my teaching job just in case.