>We are using the blog as a casting board all of a sudden. Here are John Sayles’ bios of the two characters we are looking for, MOON and CHOP CHOP. MOON Wu Shuk Yee was born in a village not far from the city of Shenzhen, son of a poor rice farmer. He grew up in a large family with never enough to eat and when he was old enough to be a good worker joined some other boys heading for the city to make money as laborers. He was always strong enough to carry a heavy load but has bad balance and falls down a lot, so he doesn’t like to work loading boats or on high buildings. Shuk made enough to eat well, but hoped to be able to earn enough to send money home. But if he ate less he was too weak to work long hours. Then a few of the young men told him how you could make more money on a contract overseas, and he signed up to work in Manila. Lots of Chinese live there, with their own neighborhood and some with big houses and owning businesses, but contract workers are treated no better than the buffalo that pull the carts and sometimes worse, even by the rich Chinese. Shuk was caught inside the walls when the Filipinos surrounded the city, and he was not the only one starving for a change. But when the Americans came it got better, though some of the things they expect you to eat must really be for dogs. He is saving some money now and hopes that in a year, maybe two, he will be able to go back home and brag about how he got rich.
CHOP CHOP Chan Wai Ling was born in a houseboat in the canal that separates Canton (Guangdong) from the foreign quarter on Shameen Island, his father a mender of pots. He is the third son in the family. His second elder brother signed a contract to be transported to Cuba and has never been heard from again, so when it was Wai’s turn he agreed only to a two-year contract working in Manila for a Spaniard. The ones who came home from there said the work is no harder than that in China but the pay much better, plus it was so close to Hongkong you could almost swim. When he returns Wai will buy a shop, or at least be able to rent a stall for his father to work in and try to move everybody off the boat where it is so crowded and there is so much disease. He was halfway through the contract when the war broke out and the Spaniard, who had guaranteed everybody’s fare home, disappeared without paying them. Luckily the Americans came who pay a little better even if they are big savages. They aren’t close to the shooting too often, but you have to watch out for the monkey people here, who are jealous and hate all Chinese and will kill you if they get the chance. It is hard and it is lonely being here, but if you work hard and don’t gamble or smoke the opium you can save enough to buy a future.