Saturday, May 01, 2010

A view of the river and beyond

NBS and Vince had us over to warm their new digs. It was quite a reunion of all the folks we once worked with but have since moved on to manage more responsible things.

The apartment is quite comfortable for the two of them. I'm envious of the view they have that stretches all the way south. The city skyline is just on the horizon and considering the distance as the crow flies, that's awesome.

Distances between people over time made dinner conversation a little more cautious, polite even. We basically caught up with each other and our current activities and concerns over a selection of dishes both home-cooked and purchased. As always, there was more than enough to go around.

Too bad we couldn't stay longer after dinner. We'd already had a full day out and had just arrived at their doorstep fresh from sweating it out at the fitness club. We hadn't even showered. The fact that nobody remarked how rank we smelled shows how polite the company has become. And the animals were texting me repeatedly, asking when dinner-time was.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The man in the iron suit

We like Tony Stark because he is a fundamentally flawed hero. No doubt his heart's in the right place (well, figuratively speaking, anyway), but why does he have to be so smug about doing the right thing? Such hubris he carries on his iron shoulders, you feel like slapping some sense into his thick armoured head. And here exactly is where the sequel of the year picks up in Iron Man 2.

Tony Stark/Iron Man opens on a grand high note, making a spectacular entrance into his own Expo to the welcome of a bevy of leggy dancing "Ironettes", and it goes downhill for him from there. The Senate and the military are after his technology, Hammer Industries ramps up its aggression in competition against Stark's, and a foe he doesn't even know of takes up a personal vendetta against Stark himself. All this while he's basking in the glory of his own successes as the bringer of peace to the world.

Why we like Tony Stark is because he fends off his attackers so deftly. His wit in the Senate hearing is a disguise for the fact that he does not win the argument as much as he embarrasses his opponents to the point that they lose credibility in the debate. We like his irreverence and his taste in all the good things in life -- wine, women and all things geeky. Somehow, we are swept up in the mystique of Stark that his excesses seem forgiveable.

Which is why Mr Stark needs to be brought back down to earth. Whiplash makes a great nemesis not because his power matches the power of the Iron Man suit, but because his arrival forces Stark to reflect on the injustice done to the person wearing the Whiplash suit. Thus Stark, the futurist, realises that he has to look into the past for the wisdom to answer many of his current problems. And through Nick Fury, he realises that Iron Man cannot stand alone as the protector of the whole world.

What impresses me about this sequel is that it doesn't go all out to raise the stakes with effects. Yes, there are improvements and upgrades, including the bulky War Machine armour, but nothing that distracts from character portrayals. What IM2 has more of is human characters to balance out the iron-clad superheroics. The movie is really all about the people, anyway, and not the suits -- a fact that seems to elude Justin Hammer.

As before, IM2 promises great thrills, witty humour, and the exhilaration of noisy, powered flight sequences accompanied by the beat of ordnance and collateral damage. Two words: woo hoo!

The end-of-credits sequence adds another piece to the the Avengers puzzle, so stay and keep watching if you want.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blinkin' lights

If there is going to be a weak spot at Drama "Sectionals", it's going to come from the tech crew. Bunch of imports are too good at their jobs to rehearse with the rest of us and make us feel like it's such an imposition on their time when they do come down and grace us with their presence.

Maybe they don't have a sense of how crucial their skills are to the production. All they know is switch on light, switch off light at roughly when according to the script. If that's the level of their commitment then I'm not surprised that many instances of long, awkward blackouts; lights up catching backstage crew setting the next scene on stage; actors speaking in the dark; stupid, avoidable, unforgivable lapses in production are the result of tech crew keeping their rehearsals to a bare minimum.

Well, we still have a few runs left before showtime. We'll squeeze every last bit of effort from whatever scraps they are holding out to us, and I'm sure we'll be made to feel grateful for it. Thanks, guys.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sugar rush

Nearly passed out again at the fitness club. Likely the result of two factors. First, we were working out the legs quite intensively with a step-board. My lower extremities probably hogged all available blood, leaving little for the brain. Starved of oxygen, brane go by by.

Second, insufficient calorific intake. My last meal was six hours before starting the session, so there wasn't much left in the tank to burn anyway. Must remember to eat, if I'm going to work at this rate. My trainer bought me a Coke Zero to replenish my blood sugar level. It tasted terrible... but I perked right back up! The effect was almost instantaneous. Fuelled on sugar alone (artificial at that) I completed my training for the day without further difficulty.

Right. I'm not advocating tanking up with sugary drinks all the time. It worked surprisingly well in a pinch and saved me from my own stupidity, but the sugar either all burns to nothing, or stays inside and becomes fat which we're trying to avoid. Nothing beats having proper meals which become material to replace worn muscles, sinew and tissues after a workout.