Saturday, January 05, 2013

Keep on running

Finally! New running shoes to replace my previous old faithful. This new pair fits well and is light on the feet. While I am happy with the purchase, I'm a little less happy with the sales rep. As he brought the shoes to the cashier, he called out, "Uncle heng (paying)!" Grr... you're not so young yourself, whippersnapper!

I suppose that kind of ageist identification is to be expected. I'd just come in from my grand-niece's first month celebration. The view is from the young family's apartment, 33 floors up. I've never been in a residence that high before. You can see the sea from here, yonder on the horizon.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Back t'work, ye scurvy dog!

When the two highlights of the day are visiting the clinic for flu meds and sending a friend off at the crematorium, it's no wonder I'm feeling lousy today. Can't tell if it's physical because of the illness or emotional because it's a crappy start to the year, or a combination of both. Or maybe lately, I've been having too much time to think. Even though I'm not looking forward to it, going back to work may just be the cure to the post-holiday blues. Oh, the irony.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ways we've gone and ways to go

If the first day of the new year is any indication of how the rest of the year is going to turn out, it's going to be a bitter-sweet 2013 for me.

Spent the afternoon bowling with extended family. Now, that's something that occurs only once in a very long while 'cos as a group we prefer eating to physical activity. Seeing that the last time we did such a thing was conceivably a couple of decades ago, today we got a true sense of how far we've advanced in our years. Two games apiece and collectively we're creaking in the joints; muscles stretched and tender; stubbed toes and much wounded pride from the number of gutter balls thrown. Not that our scores were very much better twenty years ago, but still...

And like we did back then, we gathered to dine. But tonight's dinner conversation was more polite and focused. We didn't harass the staff like we managed to do before, and we actually got some talk going on a joint tribal vacation. That, we've never done before, but it's a lot more feasible now that we're all working adults with some kind of disposable income. The only question, then, is to coordinate the timing. Hold onto your hats, folks, it may yet happen!

The later part of the evening was more sombre. I've never been to a wake of a friend before, let alone a working colleague. Aggie (later known as Deb) battled cancer over the past couple of years. It finally ended just before the beginning of the new year.

With Aggie's passing, I've lost both my mentors from when I first started teaching. Mim went earlier via an untimely accident. Mim taught me the rules to obey while Aggie taught me to organize and colour-code everything, and something called a "CRAFT" book, which stands for "Can't Remember A F****** Thing" in which I was to write down everything I was supposed to remember but was likely to forget.

I appreciate the lessons these veterans imparted to me. They practiced what they preached. They were ready to teach; effective at their jobs; and their lessons stuck with their kids. They were loved; respected and unforgettable to their students. They were looked up to by their colleagues.

Yet every class has a black sheep (baa!), and this one knows the distance he still has to travel to get to where they left off.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lost in translation

I really wanted to love Les Miserables, the movie, as much as I do the stage production. But despite some spectacular sets which were unreproduceable onstage such as the jaw-dropping manual dry-docking of the hulking warship in the opening sequence and the colossal barricade of the closing; and the palpable reality of the sewer escape sequence, the experience wasn't as emotionally impactful as it was onstage.

Perhaps some genres don't translate well into others. The script being originally written for stage assumes that most of the audience would not get close enough to the characters to empathize with them as individual people. It is the music that carries the emotion and from a distance therein lies the drama of the musical.

On film, it's quite different. On the 70mm screen, the action is literally in your face. Every tear, every frown, every wrinkle is there for all to see so the delivery has to become more realistic. The irony is that using nuances of spoken delivery takes away something of the emotive potential of the music and so the effect gets watered down.

There is also a problem using recognizable faces in the leading roles. At some point I was expecting Jean Valjean to sprout adamantium claws from his fists and eviscerate his tormentors; Fantine to grow pointy ears and a tail and bi*chslap with a bullwhip the sleazebuckets going after her. That they meekly rolled over and resigned themselves to their fate was mildly disappointing. Big names may help box-office receipts, but it's better to cast iconic roles with performers who themselves have not been cast in other iconic roles else the wrong images are likely to stick and confuse.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the movie, but that this experience is unlikely to be as memorable as the stage version, for me anyway. But at least I didn't have to pay an exorbitant sum for crappy seats in the theatre's nosebleed section for it.