Wednesday, April 29, 2009

how to be (normal).

work at T is drawing to a close in a week's time. and reflecting on the past 9 weeks, i wouldn't say time has gone by in a flash, because it certainly doesn't feel like it.

i'm glad for the long weekend coming up. followed by one last week of madness. followed by another long weekend. followed by going back to NIE to see all my friends once again. followed by nonsense M*OE stuff for 2 weeks, and i can finally be on my way to london and paris! i'm starting my england road trip research and will be moving on to the france road trip research and it looks super exciting! :) :) i'm extremely glad for my job which allows for longer-than-usual travels without having to take no-pay leave.

last weekend ML and i caught the film 'how to be', as part of the Singapore International Film Festival. and i'm pretty sure 7/8 of the theater was filled with robert pattinson fans, who laughed at every silly thing his character does onscreen. and it got so annoying 'cos rob's character in the film is this socially awkard, almost asperger's syndrome-like young man who struggles with being 'normal'. so you know, many awkard things he does elicited giggles and laughs.


anyway the film felt long, and i can assuredly attribute that to the intricacies of the film. small, tight london spaces, emotional baggage and struggles, few characters, the popularity of self-help in our society (self-help books, TV shows, podcasts, motivational talks etc.), the definitions of the social contract, and a young man's desire and his journey to becoming a 'normal' person. these are some heavy themes. but it was expertly handled by the writer-director, oliver irving and woven into the plot.

after the movie wrapped, as with film festivals, the film's producer, justin kelly, was around to give the audience (those who stayed) some insight into the film-making process. and he called oliver irving on his cell and people got to ask him questions about the process. we also talked to the film's composer and 2 of its actors (no, not rob. he's filming new moon now.) as they were at a new york film festival. it was pretty interesting hearing stories from the set and how the movie came to be from script to screen. and learning what it means to shoot on location in london's famous tiny houses and rooms.

i think robert is a natural at such roles - and not so much to blockbustery handsome and drop dead (pun intended for both HP and T) gorgeous jocks like in harry potter and twilight. although if the next 2 movies of the twilight saga follow the books faithfully, robert will be able to show his acting-as-an-emotional-wreck-prowess as edward cullen.

the music was fabulous. and i may just get my hands on the soundtrack when it's released here in Singapore (from the mouth of justin kelly). robert, the tortured artist, contributes 3 songs to the soundtrack, which he played and performed in the film.

well the themes of normalcy resonated with my thoughts - thoughts that came about when i was volunteering at autism children's center a while back. that time, i read quite widely on the issues involving people with disabilities that are trying to integrate into the mainstream society. and some articles dealt with the idea of normalcy.

who defines what's normal. is there even a definition? if there's no clear cut definition, then why do we label people as being abnormal? i think that all of us are a little bit crazy. and if you're (or were) a biology student, you'd understand if i say normalcy is a continuous variation, controlled by many factors. an example of a continuous variation is height. and a discontinuous variation: presence of ear lobes. i'm sure you can tell what i mean by now.

i think there's no such thing as 'normal' and 'abnormal'. and to see people struggling with trying to be normal just because what they are and who they are are socially unaccepted is a warped form of discrimination. in the film, because arthur felt that he was so different and abnormal as compared to other people, and how his girlfriend broke up with him, all stemmed from a rough childhood and parents who were busy with work and had strange (lacking a better descriptive) parenting styles. and the emotional roller-coaster that he went through just to become 'normal' and to be perceived as 'normal' was heartbreaking to watch.

one point that justin kelly made during the Q&A - that children who grew up with super-liberal parenting or super-conservative parenting usually turn out okay, or even great. and those children with problems/difficulties are usually ones with parents who have inconsistent parenting style - switching between liberal and conservative.

and that's a point worth thinking about.

hokay. leaving to watch x-men origins. :) sayonara.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"he's kinda crazy."

while surfing around for news,

"It was like 10 o'clock. Everybody was asleep and we hear all this barking and jumping around," Mrs. Obama said. "The president and I came out and we thought somebody was out there. And it was just Bo. He was playing with his ball. And it was like there was another person in the house.

"He's kind of crazy, but he's still a puppy. So he likes to play a lot," she said.

The dog, unveiled last week after months of speculation, was a gift to Obama daughters Malia and Sasha.

"He loves to chew on people's feet," Mrs. Obama divulged to more than 100 children invited to a program marking the annual Take Your Child to Work Day.


haha all dogs are the same. :) i remember hugo growing up, chewing on slippers and rubber things and people's feet. and just about everything he can get his paws on.

well today was FJ benjamin's 30% storewide sale at banana republic, gap, la senza, raoul, guess. and taka had this big crazy shoes and bags sale. and i spend WAY too much money on a gap white shirtdress, gap striped work pants, enzo angiolini booties and calvin klein clutch. ARGH.

long week over. more thoughts coming up. too much that my brain is overflowing.

hokay time to sleep.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the solid ground.

" On Christ the solid rock i stand,
all other ground is sinking sand."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

pre-easter thoughts.

the insane week comes to a close. and what better way to end it. by celebrating the death and resurrection of my Lord and his work on the cross.

singing at easter's musicale, more than just a man, has been very impactful. i think the medium of acting and stepping into the shoes of a character is pretty amazing. to be a totally (ok maybe not totally) different person. and especially in this musical.

i remember distinctly a q&a sort of application/quiz that i did on facebook years ago. if i could go back in time, when would that be. and i remembered so clearly my answer was - to go back to the time where Jesus was teaching and preaching and performing miracles. and in this musical, i'm able to see uncle W as Jesus, teaching and healing and carrying the cross all bloodied and beaten and finally be nailed to the cross with all my sins. as a member of the crowd watching him, i could just imagine what a great privilege it was to be able to learn from the Master Teacher Himself. to hear Him speak and teach God's word. i catch myself being so mesmerized by the scenes that i forget my lyrics. :)

well, on a similar note, my prayers of late have been focused on being a good teacher to my students, and to learn from the Master Teacher Himself. always seeking to learn from His word and His ways and never to fall into the trap of being too-smart or too-proud or holier-than-thou or smarter-than-you.

today i taught my first integrated program class of sec 3s. it was daunting 'cos
1) chemistry is not my strength, forte, university major.
2) they are IP kids, supposedly creme of the crop.
3) my CT is the HOD of science, though he's a jolly good fellow, easy going and sometimes a bit insane.
4) having to plan and teach a 100-minute lesson for the first time in my life in chemistry.
5) my fellow practicum friend requested that she sat in my class, and i didn't want to turn her down because of my nerves. also because it'll be a good learning opportunity for both of us. so i had 2 people observing my lesson.

so i survived with loads of self-discipline to plan and research and come up with that lesson, 'stealing' ideas from the internet, periodic distractions of entertainment news and tv shows (HOUSE delivered a shocking suicide!), lots of music blasting in my ears (muse, coldplay, jason mraz, avalon, switchfoot, david cook), lots of teh-o peng and earl grey tea, escape-from-work lunch at old airport road and getting hazed by my own chemistry teacher who took my phone and hid it in his pocket,

and lots of prayers and more prayers.

well they all worked. although it was murphy's law galore during my lesson - i got generally positive comments from my HOD. and i thought the kids understood ionic bonding (crossing fingers).

ok the insane week actually continues into easter weekend. so it's all about planning and managing again. which i dislike 'cos my ideal easter weekend is filled not with work, but with the Lord and His people and His songs. but what to do.

ok i'm ranting. so i shall go back to my mountain of marking. and tomorrow i'll don on my jew costume and be a merry jewish girl celebrating the passover in jeruselum and hearing Jesus teach and rejoicing at His resurrection. Jesus is alive! :) :)


am i the only one who thinks that chris martin (coldplay) looks quite like hugh laurie (house). maybe it's the british guy look. :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

tales of long, hard winters.

so it's been almost a week since i last saw ethan hawke and heard him sing and play the guitar. :)

and i was so lucky to catch him outside esplanade theater's stage door, his guitar case strapped to his back. :) ahhhhh why didn't i just stop and say hi?

ok so the winter's tale wasn't all about that. in fact, ethan hawke's character, autolycus, is a supporting character in shakespeare's tragic comedic play. yes, a paradox there. bear with me while i remember the plot, which is super interesting and tragically shakespearean.

act 1

the play opens in the kingdom of sicilia. the king of neighbouring city bohemia, polixenes (josh hamilton) was visiting the king of sicilia, leontes (simon russel beale). polixenes has been in sicilia for months now, and they are enjoying one another's company. leontes has a beautiful and pregnant wife, hermione (rebecca hall) and a young son, mamillius (morven christie). polixenes decides to return to bohemia, anxious to see his son and wife, after being away for so long. but leontes, eager for his great company, tries to get him to stay for a longer time. after he fails, he sends hermione to persuade him, and quite readily, polixenes agrees. onstage, the chemistry between hermione and polixenes is undeniable.

so now, leontes slowly begins to get suspicious. why did polixenes agree so quickly to hermione's request, when he himself, the king, tried so hard and failed? then his mind, from now on, went into a downward spiral as he rants on and on in long monologues, about how sure he was that his beautiful wife was having an affair with polixenes and that the baby is not his. his thoughts and mind literally drove him to insanity and extreme paranoia.

so he orders the lord of sicilia, camillo, to kill polixenes, and threw hermione into jail, pending charges of adultery and conspiracy. camillo, instead, warns polixenes, and together they flee sicilia for bohemia and never returned. hermione gives birth to a baby girl while in prison, and leontes orders antigonus (another lord of sicilia) to dispose of the illegitimate child.

when hermione was standing trial for her alleged charges, she pleads innocence and asks leontes to be reasonable and see things right again. the judge brings in the 'oracle', a magical quill that will tell the truth. the oracle, of course, writes that hermione is innocent. but leontes was so consumed with rage and paranoia that is beyond reason and logic, sentences her to death anyway. at the next moment, they find out that their son, mamillius has died. upon hearing the news, hermione, already distraught over her husband's decision, was so overcome with grief that she died. leontes finally comes to his senses and promises to grieve over his wife and son for as long as he shall live.

meanwhile, antigonus (dakin matthews, the reverend from desperate housewives; the headmaster of rory's prep school in gilmore girls; and many other roles in tv and films) and someone (i couldn't get the name) comes to the edge of bohemia and sets the infant down in a basket with a box full of money. in a thunderstorm, antigonus was chased away by a bear (hilarious and totally out of point. i wonder if shakespeare is trying to be funny) and i can't remember what happened to his companion.

then, a shepherd of bohemia (richard easton) chances upon the infant, and the money. he and his son 'clown' (who appeared just meters behind where i was sitting at esplanade theatre stalls, and shouted something so loudly that i nearly jumped out from my seat) adopts the baby girl and takes the money.

time enters. 16 years has passed. leontes has spent 16 years grieving for his wife and son. the baby girl, named perdita (played by the same actress who played mamillius), has grown into a beautiful young woman, bearing a striking resemblance to hermione. she does not know of her heritage or that she was adopted by the old shepherd. and she is dating the prince of bohemia (polixenes's son) florizel (michael braun, who looks asian-american).

act 2

opens with autolycus (ethan hawke), a rouge and thief. autolycus is a guitar strumming wanderer who goes from place to place, meeting people to steal from. he is michievous and has the best and funniest lines, and he reminds me of puck from a midsummer's night dream.

autolycus comes to the town festival and entertains (or rather, charms) the crowd (with the shepherd, perdita, florizel etc. present) with his songs and selling his stolen goods. there was a song and dance item, and another outrageous dance routine featuring 2 round balloons tied to the girls' chests and 1 long balloon tied to the guys' crotches. and the dance is super laden with sexual connotations and imagery. (again i wonder, what's the link?!?!)

2 visitors with hats and big white beards arrive at the town festival. they join in the festivities and found out that florizel, the prince, is marrying the daughter of the shepherd, perdita. one of the men questions florizel, whether he is inviting his father (the king) to the wedding, but (i couldn't catch why) florizel is not. all he** breaks loose when the 2 visitors reveal themselves to the polixenes (the king himself) and camillo (his now faithful servant). polixenes objects (i presume because perdita is not of a royal parentage) and demands that they break up and florizel return to court.

*ps. wouldn't it be twisted if perdita IS the illegitimate child of polixenes and hermione, which will make perdita and florizel step-siblings* (ok i watch too much tv).

so naturally, the couple decides to elope to sicilia. with a little help from autolycus (who has been watching from the sidelines quietly). the shepherd and his son hears of this, and decides that he should tell polixenes the truth about perdita's parentage. they chance upon autolycus, who tricks them into believing that he is a member of the court ('cos he's wearing florizel's robes, having exchanged them to help the couple disguise while eloping). the shepherd tells autolycus everything, and autolycus decides to help them and help polixenes by telling them where the couple went.

arriving at sicilia, the couple meets with leontes and members of the court. leontes notices the resemblance of perdita with his late wife, but says nothing of it. till polixenes and his entourage arrives at sicilia, and the truth is finally set free. leontes tearfully and emotionally reunites with his daughter, albeit awkardly. and polixenes agrees to the union.

paulina, wife of antigonus and good friend of hermione, announces that that's a statue (or wax figure) of hermione that has been completed and is waiting to be revealed. so she brings everyone to the statue. leontes asks why are there wrinkles on the face of the statue, and paulina says that it's because the artist is so skillful that he is able to project how hermione will look like now. and you know how this ends.

by magic, the statue comes to life. everyone was so taken aback that they asked if she could talk and walk. in actual fact, hermione had not died and was hid away from the wrath of leontes, knowing that one day her name will be cleared (also 'cos the oracle said so) and she will be reunited with her daughter again. and it was these thoughts that kept her going these past 16 years. mother and daughter are now tearfully reunited and the play ends. :)


hokay that took a long time to remember and type. with the help of wikipedia, i managed to really grasp the finer (but not literary) details of the play. this play is clearly defined into 2. 2 cities, 2 kings, 2 people, 2 acts, 2 different emotional acts. act 1 was very dark and tragic. act 2 was lighter, funnier and easy on the eyes, though the last part of act 2 dived into the heavy emotional part again. but that sort of acts as a nice bookend to coherently wrap up the play.

one thing's for sure. having studied literature only for 2 years, when i was 13-14 years old, and only studying one play in depth (shakespeare's the merchant of venice), it is hard to make out the language and words of the play. you kinda get the gist of what's happening on stage, but not the individual words. it also didn't help that some of the actors bunched up all their words into a long continous line of sounds with no discernible breaks in between. like josh hamilton. even though he was speaking in his native american accent, ohman, i couldn't catch his words!!

so that was probably the only bad thing, which i can attributed the fault to my untrained ears and mind.

were all really awesome. i have to mention the following:
simon russel beale (leontes) is a well-respected veteran of shakespearean theater. and it shows, loud and clear. he easily dived into the insane, twisted and paranoid mind of leontes and his monologues were amazing. the depth of his emotional performance was astoundingly good.

rebecca hall (hermione) was surprisingly good too. i didn't think much of her, but i was blown away by her performance too. she was so heartbreaking as the wronged, innocence wife and when she pleaded her case in court to leontes, wow, i really wanted to stand up and defend her and punch leontes for accusing her and giving her a big hug. :) it was so heartbreaking, and not to mention she's so gorgeous.

ethan hawke (autolycus). why, of course. :) need i say more?
well he was good too! as the theiving roaming rogue, he was right in character. this man can play anything, just look at his works. this character reminds me a little of johnny depp too. his deep voice. ahhh. could tell he was not very confident with singing and guitar-playing simultaneously (or maybe i just watched 2 great men who can do that well: chris martin, jason mraz). but no mistakes. and his singing was niiicccee. raspy tenor. :)

sam mendes (director) did a fabulous job with this interpretation. though i can't comment much without a basis of comparison, i got it. a shakespeare play, with dialogue in shakespearean english and many tales, and despite being tired from a whole day of activities in church, i still managed to understand, appreciate and enjoy the play! the comic relief sections were a good welcome from the heavy tragedies, though through his expert direction, they were protrayed tastefully and not overdone in a big-bang soap-opera fashion. well i wouldn't expect anything less from him actually. :) just wished he'd taken a curtain call with the cast.

costume design
very wintry. that was my impression and i wonder if it was deliberate. there were long coats with details on collars. fitted corset tops with long flowing full skirts and deep colours. hermione had this deep purple empire cut floor-length dress that she wore when she's pregnant and it's so nice! the men were well-dressed in formal coats, blazers, tux and dress pants. perdita had this gorgeous green grecian dress detailed with flowers.

sets/lighting design
was so nice. :) act 1 in sicilia had a beautiful backdrop of candles suspended in midair, and candles on the ground. act 2 in bohemia had the town festival. with red, white and blue (oh america, oh america) helium balloons everywhere. lighting was good. as always. i'm always fascinated by lighting design and esplanade theater has an impressive set of lights. every lighting direction and position was executed perfectly and complimented the play well.

not too much. some handbells, chimes, violins (for act 1), adding accordians, cellos, EH's guitar, guitars for act 2. but is beautifully scored. and EH's songs were nice too! in a folksy, country sort of way. songs that tell a story.

heard from a friend who was at the opening night that the audience was horrible. she was at the 5th row from the front and had horrible audience neighbours. well M and i were quite blessed. first we were upgraded from circle 2 (3rd floor) to center stalls. of the stalls, we were 3rd row from the back of the ground level. and i was just so thankful for those $250-a-pop seats which i couldn't possibly afford. but those seats allowed me to enjoy the experience so much more, and actually see the facial expressions of each actor on stage.

and we had a great audience on sunday night! probably half of them were caucasians (much like the coldplay concert), but they were attentive, laughing at the appropriate parts and keeping quiet at the tragic parts. most of all, standing ovations are in order and the cast took another curtain call graciously. EH even clutch his right fist to his heart while he took a second bow. :)

hokay this is a long review. and i shall stop here for now. hopefully i can catch the other play of this double bill, the cherry orchard, in london. which will be played by the same cast. :)


well, friday is here again and i'm taking it easy. busy week next week. with my first chemistry IP class, lesson prep, tons of marking, event on (Holy) saturday, easter musical, easter lunch. shall unwind from this week with some saturday brunch, lazing with good friends next to horses. :) :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

feast your eyes!

edward cullen
just before he steps into the sunlight at volterra
courtesy: smirks_works at

aren't these gorgeous posters? they're not the official ones (apparently they are really ugly). however, it is some fine photoshopping and a great eye for art. it even follows the plot of the book. :)


bella swan
just before she jumps off the cliff at la push, setting off a huge chain of events
courtesy: smirks_works at

haha what a nice way to keep me company through a work day. :)