Friday, May 02, 2008

Concert Band's performing Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." Traditionally, there's a little drama to go with this piece, illustrating the role each major instrument plays in the orchestra. Through simple association, the bird represents the piccolo, grumpy Gramps represents the bassoon, the trigger-happy hunters represent the kettle-drums, and so on. As the instruments interweave their themes through the score, the story of how brave Peter captures a voracious wolf prowling around the farm comes to life before the audience's eyes.

HP brought me in to see how her actors could learn to move like the characters they are playing. The kids and I had quite a workout as we practiced the walks of different animals and human character types. We really worked the knees and thighs as I decided to base all movement on variations of the demi plie in third for a uniform look. So demonstrating and practicing how to walk, run, jump and fly on the half crouched vertical position soon translated into cramps all up and down my quads.

But never mind me. The kids are looking stiff and slightly uncoordinated since these movements are new to them. They've understood their basic stances and ambulations, but it's going to take some practice before they make their movements confident and smooth. Hope they work hard over the weekend, and learn to use the music too. After all, it's their first taste of classic French mime based on classical ballet.

I'll check in on them again soon. They only have one week to put it all together.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

If "Iron Man" is anything to go by, we can expect a summer season of big action thrills. Familiar names, though they may be, this summer's movies are going to prove that there's a lot of mileage left in the characters we admired when we were kids.

I never cared much for Iron Man. The name didn't strike a chord with me, but of all the pantheon of superheroes, he seemed like the easiest to draw. A basically human shape, a yellow-and-red colour scheme and a completely expressionless face kind'a like this --> {-_-}, and there was a costumed crimefighter I could reproduce on pages of jotter book paper, even when my artwork skill was just about zero.

In the comic books, IM a.k.a. Tony Stark, is one of the most flawed, troubled persons to wage war on crime. His heart's liable to give out any minute, he was a warning as to how substance abuse can destroy lives, and lately in the Civil War story arc, he comes off as a self-righteous jerk with the expertise to make his fascistic plans a reality. And yet, Stark fights for the very best of reasons, doing what he feels is necessary to right the injustices inflicted upon the world.

Robert Downey Jr plays a convincing Tony Stark, complete with goatee beard. Downey Jr is himself a troubled celebrity so he should understand the role quite well, though Stark has a slight advantage being a design, engineering, robotics genius.

The movie is action-thrill all the way. The televised footage of Afghan captors displaying Stark as their latest hostage is reminiscent of many other hostage displays in real-life. It's just uplifting when Stark turns the terror on his captors while escaping captivity, and the retribution he exacts on them later during his rescue of a besieged village is pure lizard-brain elation. Yes, it's fantasy, but it's always a rush to see the bullied fight back and win.

But that's just the sideshow for the battle about to take place, this time a little closer to home...

Stark has everything he wants, but what he needs he has to keep at arms' length. He's a war-monger hoping to bring peace to the world. He's a dying man with a never-say-die spirit. A good boy, and a bad boy all at the same time. Welcome to a world of contradictions embodied in the man who wears the armour. Iron Man. Cool.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Got a look at the SYF venue where we're performing 'Walls' once again. It was a gigantic stage, at this moment still under construction, but it should be quite finished in the next two weeks.

I was to help plot the lights at this new venue, but the two lighting crew learned to operate the light board so quickly, I decided to fire myself so as not to get in their way.

It felt quite good to be useless as the rest of the time I was just enjoying the antics on stage and not having to worry that anything was going to go awry. Everyone knew their jobs, and they were doing just great. If only CCA was always this easy.

BTW, I updated "6 impossible things..." today with another K&I post. Should also be good for GP. Have a look if you want.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now that there's a movement to make kids belt up in school buses, we've lost yet another of our potential kids' playgrounds for before and after school entertainment. Gone are the days when we rambunctious toddlers would run up and down the narrow aisle to "socialize" with the other kids. Dad once said he knew I was coming home from school because he could hear the bus long before it pulled into view.

The school bus was fun. Early in the morning, it was the one last sanctuary before another long, dreary day at school stuck behind my desk. If I got sleepy, I'd just doze off only to be rudely awakened by the occasional e-brake stop, the momentum smashing my face against the steel back of the seat in front, or the loose side-window would abruptly slam shut against my forehead. At that, I'd blink blearily before drifting back off to sleep until the next e-brake. I think I spent much of my schooling life looking like an abused child, but no one at that time dared to ask about my domestic situation. Parents, kids and teachers knew their roles back then.

En route home, sleep wasn't as much a priority as playing cards with the gang (we played "Top Trumps", not poker), or playing catching over and around the seats, or beating up on the moron kicking the back of my seat 'cos he was bored and looking for a punch-up to pass the time. We had a saint of a bus driver who stoically kept drivin' on while Chaos ruled the rear compartment.

Now, if the seat-belt thing becomes law, all the little kiddies will be strapped into their transport like raw cargo being delivered to the processing plant. I imagine if they can't let off steam physically, mentally they'll be screaming for the loss of yet another outlet of youthful aggression expression. And woe betide seat partners if they can't stand each other. As soon as they reach school and the seat-belts come off, the only way to separate the two is with a crowbar, and only after a few solid whacks to soften the resistance.

Yes, I know there's a safety concern, so there's a good reason for safety belts. And I'm not trying to make light of the recent tragedy. But I am glad I'm not a child today.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blog owner temporarily out of commission. Normal transmission will resume... soon.