Monthly Archives: 三月 2009

Pride Came Before

My much-delayed return to the gym has had a rather inauspicious start: I fell off the treadmill. Yes, I was happily trotting along when I suffered from a lapse of attention (I can’t recall what caused it), and the next minute I was already at the back of the belt, and thinking “oh shit". It must have looked rather hilarious from the side, but I ended up with both my arms on the rapidly rotating belt. I managed to quickly recover myself, stand up and switch off the machine, before a concerned-looking member of staff approached me to see how I was. She sat me down, quickly arranging 2 other colleagues to come and attend to me: I felt like I was in primary school again, with people sterilising and dressing my wounds for me (I scratched my left arm, left knee and right wrist pretty badly). The lady actually gave me a pat on the shoulder and said “don’t worry about it", as if to remind me how much of a fool I looked like. Not that I’m unaccustomed to looking like a fool anyway. The staff were very kind and genuinely concerned though, for which I am truly grateful.

Remarkably, one of my first thoughts after falling was actually a line in the song 跑步機上 by 容祖兒 – 一追不到會在滾筒跌下! As in…

跑步機上
曲: 王雙駿/詞: 黃偉文/唱: 容祖兒

加快吧 我的秒速只許加
加快吧 跟不可能鬥快吧
加快吧 我想要的天天增加
來吧來吧 來吧來吧

誰在背後拼命地追趕著我嗎
何事腳下每步路都有汗跌下
持續了十里腎上腺分泌還在加 喘氣吧

如在逃命但實情為令面形更瘦吧
磨練行事和做人更敏捷嗎
還是明白運動型先可得到他歡心吧
一舉有十三得嗎

加快吧 我的秒速只許加
加快吧 跟不可能鬥快吧
加快吧 我想要的天天增加
來吧來吧 來吧來吧

前望去是五六步咪表狂跳嗎
全部數字也是在催我突破吧
如若我慢了就沒法緊貼時代嗎 追我吧

望著場內十萬人大步踏前腳軟吧
誰亦忙著做達人上快線嗎
誰亦從未慢下來欣賞經過的風景吧
只不過健身室嗎

加快吧 我的秒速只許加
加快吧 跟不可能鬥快吧
加快吧 我想要的天天增加
手腳太慢搶到嗎

加快吧 看機器爆出火花
加快吧 扭緊齒輪再上吧
加快吧 我想要的天天增加
來吧來吧 來吧來吧

一追不到會在滾筒跌下

加快吧 我的秒速只許加
加快吧 跟不可能鬥快吧
加快吧 我想要的天天增加
跑到氣絕都不怕

加快吧 看機器爆出火花
加快吧 扭緊齒輪再上吧
加快吧 我想要的天天增加
來吧來吧 來吧來吧

來吧來吧 來吧來吧 來吧來吧 來吧來吧 捱吧

Yes, I am rather obsessed with lyrics, having once dabbled with writing lyrics for music written by friends: so much that I’ve decided to launch a sister blog that will be about pop lyrics that I love/hate/wrote, exclusively written in Chinese: 詞、筆達意, at http://alyricist.wordpress.com. Right now it is still in development, but it’ll open for business very soon. Please do visit! Right now I have another song in mind that is rather appropriate for my situation now (my life is starting to feel like 頭條新聞 now):

傷痕
曲/詞: 李宗盛

夜已深 還有什麼人
讓你這樣醒著數傷痕
為何臨睡前會想要留一盞燈
你若不肯說 我就不問

只是你現在 不得不承認
愛情有時候是一種沉倫
讓人失望的雖然是戀情本身
但是不要只是因為你是女人

若愛的深會不能平衡
為情困 磨折了靈魂
該愛就愛 該恨的就恨
要為自己保留幾分

女人獨有的天真和溫柔的天份
要留給真愛你的人
不管未來多苦多難 有他陪你完成

雖然愛是種責任 給要給的完整
有時愛美在無法永恆
愛有多銷魂 就有多傷人
你若勇敢愛了 就要勇敢分

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Filed under Miscellaneous musings

Dinner@Frites/2009 A cappella in town@City Hall 22 March 2009

I was rather looking forward to having dinner at Frites, aka Belgium on Tap, on Queen’s Road Central – novelties are always appreciated in the culinary department. S, C and I (as in yours truly, not another alias) shared a cosy pre-concert meal in this Belgian pub, where a wide selection of beers and ales was available: I picked the Hoegaarden Grand Cru (a nice dark ale  apparently with “banana and coriander" notes!), whilst S and C shared a Kwak (I’m serious), which was served in these large, hourglass shaped glasses that wouldn’t look out of place in an alchemist’s den. For starters, we had mussels cooked in a Hoegaarden broth which was decent but not spectacular, and for the main course I had a Rich Man’s Burger, which I had difficulty finishing (you’d understand why when you see the picture below). Though it was a tad on the expensive side, the ambience was warm, and the beer-inspired Frites’ Prayer (see below) made us crack up.

frites3

After the meal we were joined by a flustered E (she had to go home and change after hiking in the afternoon) for the “A Cappella in Town" concert at City Hall. Having seen some a cappella concerts in the past – including the local Gay Singers – I had modest expectations for the show, but it turned out to be awe-inspringly good. The show opened with the Melody Makers, a local youth a cappella group who did a good job considering their age: their interpretation of Go Tell It On the Mountain was awesome (but their jokes were beyond awful). However, they were kind of overshadowed by the other three groups from abroad: Takarabune (寶船) from Japan, Jabberwocks from Brown University, US, and Klangbezirk from Germany. Takarabune was an all-female group which dazzled us with their vocal skills (amongst them is a lady who can sing in baritone, and another who rocks at vocal percussion), amused us with their Cantonese self introductions, and won us over with their version of last year’s Cantopop hit 囍帖街 (a favourite of mine) – oh, and they’re all pretty attractive too. Jabberwocks were all-male and fit into all the Ivy League fratboy stereotypes you can think of: so damn cocky but with such amazing voices. Klangbezirk, with typically amicable German humour, conquered the audience with a Michael Jackson impression, an interactive a cappella experience and, most importantly, four heavenly voices that blend to form numerous divine chords. The star of the night, however, had to be Kaichiro Kitamura (北村嘉一郎), whose vocal percussion skills seemed superhuman: not only could he simulate an entire drumset with his voice, his impressions of vacuum cleaners, cars (travelling under fine/wet/snowy weather) and airplanes left the crowds gobsmacked. I’ve never seen audiences go so wild at one of these concerts – I for one cheered almost continuously. It made me think: one day I’d really quite like to try my hand/voice at a cappella too!

3 則迴響

Filed under Love

觸。一瞬 19 March 2009@香港兆基創意書院

Nice idea, decent production that left one wanting just a little bit more. Chivalry Creative Theatre, another one of the local theatre groups, presented a musical of sorts: with two characters reminiscing about their past relationships through songs, just like any other musical, except the songs they used were pop songs of those times, which would be familiar to audience members over the age of 16. The stories were by turn hysterically funny, embarrassing, sweet and heartbreaking, and they were the glue linking all those crowdpleasing songs. Too bad that the stories were flanked by long medleys which, with no dialogue, distracted from the good middle part. The two lead actors, 黃嘉威 and 陳健豪, pulled it off: though they weren’t the best singers (they weren’t awful), they needn’t be. The play hinges on evoking memories with the songs, which worked to an extent on me: hearing 償還/紅豆 by Faye Wong made my heartstrings quiver, and the rendition of 假如讓我說下去 here brought the song to life (it’s much more emotive than the Miriam Yeung version). It was a valiant effort, but could have been just a wee bit better.

主辦及製作: 騎士創作
主演: 黃嘉威、陳健豪、許筱彤、譚玉婷
監製: 黃嘉威
執行監製: 鄭曉桐
導演: 陳冠中
副導演: 林鎮威
編劇: 陳冠中、林鎮威、鄭曉桐
音樂總監: 黃嘉威
助理音樂總監: 霍彦彤

pastpast

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Filed under Hong Kong, Love

港女 vs 電車男

It’s a battle of the sexes, and the battlefield: Hong Kong.

Well done, TVB, for making these two documentaries about 港女 and 港男: not so much for originality or journalistic merit, but for picking a hot subject: for the last fortnight, my colleagues spent much of our lunch time discussing these very issues.

To be frank, neither sex is painted a very flattering picture in these features: the 港女 are, for want of a better word, bitches (brief flip of the thesaurus yielded some better words: virago, harpy, termagant, Xanthippe). They are worse than the Shrew whose taming took such superhuman patience: materialistic, unreasonable, vain, snobbish, amongst other unseemly qualities. The 港男 are underachieving, cowardly, inarticulate, socially inept, and obsessed with a virtual world of video games and manga. 港女 think that love is the unconditional surrendering of a man’s savings, and 港男 resort to visiting cafes where waitresses call them “master". Both sides are bitter about each other, with many of them unable to find their ideal mates.

What we need to ask here is whether these 港男 and 港女 are genuine and significant social phenomena of this city, or are they simply isolated cases which in no way represent the norm? It is true that women are more empowered now, with better qualifications, prospects and financial statuses, and are thus in the position to demand more from the men. Unfortunately men have not enjoyed similar escalation, resulting in a major gap between expectation and reality: the women find the men disappointing, and the men are hurt by the women’s disdain. 港男 and 港女 are probably just the more extreme products of this closing of the gender gap in a society that used to be dominated by males.

港女

港男

3 則迴響

Filed under Hong Kong

Milk

Based on the life of gay activist and Californian politician Harvey Milk, this film raises quite a few timely issues about attitudes towards homosexuality. At the beginning of the film, Milk, played with pathos and dignity by Sean Penn, moves to San Francisco with his boyfriend, an act that would change his life forever. Following a number of failed election campaigns, he was finally elected as a member of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, thus becoming the first openly gay person to be voted into public office in the history of the United States. His brief tenure as a city supervisor, before it was interrupted by his assassination, helped a law barring anti-gay discrimination pass into legislation: a small step in the struggle for equality, but a significant step, considering that back then, in the 1970s, homosexuals either lived covert or ostracised lives, and, in the words of TIME’s John Cloud, “To be young and realize you were gay in the 1970s was to await an adulthood encumbered with dim career prospects, fake wedding rings and darkened bar windows." The film chronicles Milk’s struggles: with his relationships, his campaigns, death threats, and politics; his life was never easy, and he was far from a saint. Yet this is an inspirational figure – one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Important People in the Century – because he helped demystify homosexuality. He helped the public “adjust to a new reality he embodied: that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed." Director Gus Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (the latter an Oscar winner for this work) did Milk’s life justice, and the cast (James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Joseph Cross, Diego Luna, Alison Pill…) was a solid ensemble, with Penn outstanding and Oscar-worthy in the lead role: sincere and never overplayed. (I am still split over Penn’s Harvey Milk and Frank Langella’s Richard Nixon – both real-life personalities incidentally. Let’s wait till I see Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.)

milk-poster-sean-penn

Another step in the quest for equality that Milk played a role in was the defeat of Proposition 6, an initiative on the California State ballot in 1978 that stated that teachers could be fired for “advocating, imposing, encouraging or promoting” homosexual activity, essentially allowing job discrimination based on sexuality. It was a major triumph at the time considering the conservative attitudes of the public and the relentless campaigning of the religious right. Whilst it would be a lie to say that progress hasn’t been made, true equality is elusive: Milk came out in a year when Proposition 8, restricting the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples and banning gay marriage, passed into legislation in California. Even though at the end of the day a wedding certificate is just a piece of paper, what Proposition 8 represents is a line drawn between straight and gay people, depriving the latter of certain rights. Musician Marc Shaiman satirises the whole Prop 8 drama with, rightly enough, a hilarious musical with Jack Black, John C Reilly and others:

We in Hong Kong are several steps behind in this, and despite the distinctly secular politics of the past, we now have a vocal religious community which dominate not only the political stage but also education. This was recently brought into the limelight in the debate over the Domestic Violence Ordinance, with proposals to include same-sex cohabitants under the protection of the law. Conservative legislators have expressed concern over the “distortion" of the concept of a family by including same-sex cohabitants, even though divorced couples and (current or former) opposite-sex cohabitants (with no nuptial bond) are already covered. Frankly I am tired of these self-righteous prats pontificating about concepts of right and wrong based on that one book. I acknowledge that not all religious people are offensive: some actually practise what they (and their gods) preach, and show kindness and love for others. What I am glad to see is that others are feeling similarly irked, and have taken to the streets opposing the moral bullying by the religious right. Dissent, followed by discourse, might – just might – one day lead to progress.

Addendum: One last complaint. I spotted this ad below on my way to work, and was rather baffled at first as to what this was supposed to convey. What is the take home message from this? Who on earth decided to spend taxpayers’ money to come up with something so lame? I had to pause and reflect before I understood what the ad symbolises – that straight and gay (or “bent") people, represented by the straight and bent chopsticks respectively, can both earn their daily bread, represented by the rice with the vegetable grin. A friend makes a good point: how are bent chopsticks supposed to function? How do they compete for the rice? Either way, enough beating around the bush – if we don’t bring these issues out in the open, they will never be resolved.

discriminationad

Addendum 2: I encountered another variation of this anti-discrimination ad, this time with a bent spanner. So wrong…

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Filed under Hate, Hong Kong, Love

Rachel Getting Married

This week’s Movie Tuesday feature was Rachel Getting Married, a drama/dark comedy about a dysfunctional family (aren’t they all) coming together for the eldest daughter Rachel’s wedding. The story centres on Kym, Rachel’s younger sister and former drug addict, who comes out of rehab to join the wedding proceedings. She is the most watchable character of the entire film – outspoken, outrageous, guilt-ridden, an emotional train wreck. Anne Hathaway has done well shedding her Princess Diaries goofy persona, with her breast-baring turn in Brokeback Mountain and then this stellar Oscar-nominated performance. Too bad the rest of the film fails to match this excellence. Director Jonathan Demme (of The Silence of the Lambs fame) uses hand-held cameras to (maybe) heighten the reality: make it seem like a homemade wedding video, and perhaps in that way depict honesty. That said, in terms of ugly family dramas this is rather lame (does anyone remember Festen?), and whilst this is probably more realistic, it is patience-testing. (Was it intended that we should feel Kym’s boredom staying sober at the wedding?) The latter third of the film also sees Kym much subdued (and reconciled with her father and sister), which one must say makes her much less interesting. It was a nice surprise to see Debra Winger though, playing Kym’s mother and looking more beautiful than ever. The unresolved rift between mother and daughter does leave the audience with the hope that that wound would one day heal.

rachel_getting_married

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Filed under Hate, Love

你咪理, 我愛你, 死未? 14 Mar 2009@HKAPA Lyric Theatre

Another blast at the theatre, this time another local production, by Windmill Grass Theatre (風車草劇團). 你咪理, 我愛你, 死未? is an adaptation of the off-Broadway musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change" by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts. That said, it felt highly original: the producers have clearly taken the concept and given it a Hong Kong twist. Besides, the central theme of the musical – love – is universal: the dread about first dates, awkward dates where each party wishes they were more attractive, awful dates that make one wish one was gay, husbands who see their cars as “mistresses"…The cast was superb, excelling in singing, dancing and acting; the writing was sharp and witty, especially the lyrics (thumbs up to lyricist 王祖藍). The musical is composed of a series of short skits, each with different characters and themes; some of these were laugh-out-loud hilarious, interspersed with a few that were touching and poignant (applause to 邵美君 for bringing to life the character of 王愛媚, a middle-aged recent divorcee who was shooting a video for a dating agency: it was my favourite performance from the entire production). Catch this excellent play while you still have the chance (it is on until this Sunday, 22nd March)!

Directors: Dr Peter Jordan, 張錦程
Producers: 黃智龍、湯駿業
Cast: (below, from left) 林二汶、湯駿業、梁祖堯、邵美君
Translation: 梁祖堯
Lyricis: 王祖藍
Music Director, Live Pianist: 劉宇軒
Live Violinist: 丁鈺

loveperfectchange

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Filed under Hong Kong, Love