Friday, May 30, 2008

My First Pay-to-View Live Performance at the Esplanade

I must declare at the onset that I am a cheapskate when it comes to paying to watch live performance. Afterall, why pay hundreds of dollars and sell away your freedom during the period to watch in a theatre. Contrast it to when I could watch a DVD and decide when to pause and play - go for my toilet break. That's ultimate control, hmm? The closest thing to watching a live performance was those free ones at the Esplanade that caught my attention when I was passing by to enjoy the air-con inside.

My Debut into Viewing Pay-to-View Live Performance

I was very privileged when my hubby invited me to watch "The Architecture of Silence", the Asia Premiere, last night at the Esplanade. Besides being the Asia Premiere, it also marked my debut to watch a pay-to-view live performance.

I was taken aback when we arrived at the Esplanade yesterday night. Most of the attendees were all dressed to the nines, some in their black-tie best. We hesitated to attend as we were in our not-so-formal office attire as we rushed from work to send our boys to their granny's place before heading down to the Esplanade. It was after sometime, standing in an obscured corner - observing what other people were wearing before we plucked up our courage to just go in.

Lo and behold, the moment we stepped into the holding area, we were greeted by cameras and videos as we walked the red carpet to enter into the main area. Though the invitation card stated that cocktail would be provided, in reality, a full dinner set was served - complete with mouth-watering desserts, red and white wine as well as fruit punch for non-alcoholic fans.

The Architecture of Silence

The show started on the dot with public announcement a few minutes before commencement and the audience were reminded that there would not be intermission for this 60-minute performance.We were ushered to our seats as I eagerly awaited the performance, entitled "The Architecture of Silence" by Edward Clug. I was indeed very honor to be in the same hall as President Nathan.

Silence marked the start with a group of black-sheathed swimmers dancing at one corner of the stage. Just when I was about to resign to fate that yes, it would be a "silent" performance and at the same time, wondering what the orchestra was doing in front of the stage, I was greeted by some classical music. It was only later at the end of the show when I read the brochure that I began to understand the story behind the performance. I must say I was awed by the simplicity of the performance that spun the multiple complexity together. Through the mosaic of orchestra music and the powerful dance movement, use of water in the performance, I could almost feel the emotions and thoughts that run through the choreographer's mind.That spurred me to read up more about the performance once I reached home.

My Research About the Show

In the performance, choreographer Edward Clug bridges the 200 year gap between seemingly two incompatible music – Mozart’s Requiem KV626, and Requiem For My Friend, by contemporary Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner (famous for his films scores for Polish director Krzystof Kieslowski) - through his monumental sweeping dance work that befits the cycle of eternal life and death.

The flock of black-sheathed swimmers is an allegory to the symbol of fish which represents an elemental manifestation of silence - not one of emptiness but of a distinctly present existence. Beginning with Mozart’s Lacrimosa and ending with Preisner’s Lacrimosa framing the rituals of baptism, purification and transcendence, Clug’s precise, complex, rich and narrative expression of motion mingles with the majestic music into an ode to life.

Concluding Thoughts

Edward Clug closed his thoughts as follows: "A requiem delivers no definite story although the music – due to its messaging contents – is very powerful. Yet at the same time, we can treat a requiem – just as any other music – as a consequence of experience. The performance The Architecture of Silence, too, has no definite story, but it certainly is a consequence of our body impulses shaping the space and the silence through music and movement."

A requiem is delivered at a person's funeral. So does it mark the end of our life? Does our soul continue to live on? Through the performance, Edward has skillfully answered these aged-old questions which are as old as our world itself. I guess he is very successfully in portraying his thoughts to allow even an art-idiot like myself to understand the performance. Our existence does not end with us passing away. It lives in the memories of the people whom we have touched - be it your parents, your loved ones and your friends. How this memories work out is manifested through your actions when you are alive.

In the same notion, I will also like to simplify the many challenges that we face in life by going to the core. Yes, they may be very complex in reality but can we like a proficient choreographer breakdown the complexities and present it to a layman so that he could also understand? In so doing, we could disperse the noises and find out what do we really want in life and how should we go about creating our destiny. I believe that is the single most important gift I could ever give to my children.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Handicap Test for Golf

Today, my hubby is taking his handicap test for golf and he asks me if I am keen to go for the test.

I am also a golf player - but really just an amateur. I have got a PC which will allow me entry to the golf courses in Singapore. I viewed it really just tell people that hey, I have attended a series of golf lessons by an expert and hence could play the game.

My Golf Lessons

My foray into golf started in late last year more than half a year after my hubby picked up the sports. To me, it was not an easy sport to learn. It took a lot of effort to even hit the ball correctly. The initial months were not so exciting to say the very least.

I was extremely grateful to my hubby for taking care of the boys when I was at Seletar to learn my golf every Saturday morning for three months in a roll. More importantly, he has also taught me that if we want to master something, we have to do whatever it takes.

One of the first things that he did was to buy me a complete Taylor-made golf set - irons, fairway wood, driver, putter. I felt the pinch to buy such a good set for a beginner. Afterall, I wasn't sure if I was cut for the sport. His reply? "When you want to learn something, invest in it. You will work towards it."

We actually spent a bomb to learn the sport - both time and $$$. Not only did we spend our precious weekend at the driving range to perfect our swings, we also went down to golf course to play. The latter was crucial in building up my skill and confidence. While one could do a perfect swing, it was never the same on the golf course. On the ground, we will have to assess the terrain, wind conditions and make our call accordingly.

I Could Actually Play Golf!

Fast-forward to the present, I am proud to say that I could actually do a birdie. Not too bad to a person who has contemplated to dropout after 2 lessons on the sport to cut loss - that was before the more than S$1,500 investment in the golf set. Afterwhich, I just focus on learning golf but I am not ready yet for the handicap test. I guess if I want to do it, I will have to set a timetable to practise golf consistently. Right now, this is not my priority yet....

Monday, May 26, 2008

Super Memory to remember when to use 'a' and 'an'

I just come across this article which I thought will be useful when I teach Perry when to use "a" and "an". The only problem which I have is to remember the list of senseless alphabets.

Hey, I remembered a book on super memory which I have recently read. And here, I am applying what I have just learnt.

The rule to remember is:
  • Use 'a' when the word begins with a consonant sound (including 'u' which is pronounced as 'yoo'). 'a bad service experience', 'a seller', 'a buyer', a holiday', 'a union', 'a university', etc.
  • Use 'an' when the word begins with a vowel sound or silent 'h'. Egs: 'an hour', 'an apple', etc.
  • The same rule applies to groups of letters and initials: 'a' before B, C, D, G, J, K, P, Q, T, U, V, W, Y, Z; and 'an' before A, E, F, H, I, L, M, N, O, R, S, X. [Memory Boaster: A Bride Weds and Dances Very Well To the Zoo, With a Guy Called Jack. A King, Queen and Prince Yakked about the Union. An Elephant Feels Hot In London. Monkeys, Not Xenophobic Octopus, Rule Ship.]
  • Words beginning with 'h' and an unstressed syllable formerly took 'an' but 'a' is now usually preferred. Therefore, 'a hotel', 'a historian'.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our Report Card

Last Friday, I was at the meet-the-parent session for Primary 1. The teachers gave me a glimpse of how Perry has been doing for the past 5 months. Yes, time flies. It has been almost half a year since Perry started formal education.

Perry's Progress Thus Far

Perry has definitely become more school-savvy but there is still room for improvement. For one, he is still quite dependant on me to chart the direction on what he needs to do. Just two weeks ago when I was very busy with my work and as a result, I kept a less-than-closer-tab on him. Consequently, he forgot to study for his spelling and his results plummeted.

My Thoughts

For me, it's amazing that I have persevered until now. To tell the truth, it has not been easy to be a full-time working mother and to be the main caregiver to my two children. Of course, there is my husband but more often than not he is too busy in his work bring home the bacon than to be involved in the boys.

Many of my colleagues and friends were often impressed that I seemed to manage the multiple roles so well. The fact is I am learning - one thing a day at a time. The key is to be 100% responsible for your action. Think not of what others could help you but of what you could do to help yourself.

I am a firm believer that everyone has unlimited power. What is important is to unleash this power within you. For the next half of the year, I will help Perry to find the fire within him and to set goals. These are things which are easier said than done. But I will have to do because I believe I can.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

2-day 1-night Golf and Study Retreat at Desaru, 12 Apr to 13 Apr 2008

The Grand Plan

The decision was made a few weeks ago when my hubby suggested bringing the family to go Malaysia for a golfing trip with his kakis. As Perry’s examination was round the corner, I was rather reluctant to do so. In the end, we reasoned with a good measure of caution that we could do a study retreat for Perry – after all, why be cooped up in the claustrophobic Singapore during this stressful period. However, as the key intention was to have a conducive environment for Perry to study, we decided that Ryan will have to stay in Singapore. It turned out to be a very good decision – not only did we achieve what we set out to do, we have done so in a very rewarding and relaxing way!

Once we have decided to bring Perry for the intensive study trip. The next step is to get the ‘buy-in’ from Perry. That proved to be easy as Perry was only too glad to try out the new learning experience. We reached a pact with Perry that he would have to wake up real early at 6.30 am on 12 Apr (Sat) so that we could catch the ferry at 7 am. Guess what he even suggested to wake him up at 5.30 am just to be doubly sure that we will not be late.

First Day at Desaru Golden Beach Hotel

On 12 Apr 08, we snatched our forty winks at not 5.30 am but 6.30 am. This was already an achievement considering that we slept at close to midnight the day before to do some last minute packing. Arrival at Changi Ferry terminal was without a hitch as we could drive and park our car in the gigantic car-park near the terminal. It turned out that the land near Changi Ferry terminal was owned by the Malaysian Government and they allowed vehicle owners to park for free.

The ferry trip was pretty short at around 30 minutes or so. Upon arriving at Terminal Feri Tg Belungkor at slightly before 8 am, we were quickly ushered to a two-storey building where the fellow golfers were to register to take part in the “Star Swing Golf Challenge”. For non-golf participants like Perry and myself, we joined the golfers for a sumptuous breakfast before checking into the hotel, Desaru Golden Beach Hotel.

It was a very beautiful place facing the South China Sea. We stayed in Mussaendra Villa, a two-storey Malay old-style building, with a balcony area attached to the unit. We stayed in level two of the building. Once we arrived at the resort, we quickly set out to do what we want to do. But it was not before, a slight “mishap” where we were trapped in the balcony, when Perry locked the balcony door and closing the door behind us. In the end, we had to shout for the hotel staff to get the maintenance guy to bang into the main door where the top hinge was also hitched. Lunch was at 3 pm, partly because we were all engrossed in the intensive study and also due to the very heavy downpour. As Murphy’s Law predicted, all things seemed to go wrong. With the tumultuous rain, the phone was not working and hence, we could not call room service.

Daddy was back at around 4 pm. He was zonked out after 18-holes for the second consecutive day. Perry had a good deal of fun with his daddy. After all, he really deserved it as he managed a feat of doing three 1.5 hour examination papers! When the night came, we went to Sungai Rengit, a small village in Desaru. There was a bidding-cum-dinner that night. It reminded me of one incident when I was young – before I started school proper. Usually, attended by boisterous Chinese businessmen eager to shout out bid to get the lucky items, this scene was now a rare sight in Singapore due to the 10.30 pm curfew, but apparently, not in Malaysia. A Mr Chan in our table bidded an XO for RM2,000 and we were busily sipping the smooth and fragrant cognac. A few other items were auctioned out at more than RM10,000 that said a lot about the generosity of the businessmen in Desaru. Though the whole event was to end at past 11 pm, Perry was tired. Mr Chan was very kind and he asked his relative to send our family back to the hotel at around 9 pm. We were touched by the sincerity of the people here, the journey took more than 45 minutes.

Second Day at Sebana Golf and Marina Resort

The next day, we were awakened by the phone at around 6.30 am. It was to be another 18-hole for our golf fanatic daddy. We quickly had our breakfast before we headed to Sebana Golf and Marina Resort. The same arrangement was panned out again. Daddy went for his golf while Perry and mummy proceeded to the Marina Clubhouse to study.

We will call that first class treatment, we were chauffeured from the Golf Clubhouse to the Marina Clubhouse. Upon arrival at the Marina Clubhouse, we were enchanted by the beautiful marina with many boats berthing there. It was an architectural masterpiece set amidst natural surroundings offering a picturesque view and loads of fresh, crisp sea air.

We picked a nice spot at the aptly named Oyster Pond, a “defunct” Alfresco dining area, facing the sea to study. The time slacks in-between study were filled with fun good-old-days activities such as flying paper aeroplanes and racing from one end of the building to another. Later we ventured upwards to the main foyer area to slump into the very comfortable lounge chairs to take a short nap. This was wonderful – it was almost my kind of perfect living – lying down on a hammock, a cuppa and a magazine on the floor. Once Perry completed what we had set out to do for this short study retreat, we went to the swimming pool to have some wet fun. Before long, it was 2 pm and daddy had completed his round of golfs and joined us for some family bonding at the game arcade room.

Our next stop was at the Boat House Tavern, a casual all-day-dining restaurant overlooking the scenic marina, offering authentic local and international favourites. Thumbs-up for cappuccino and local delights, coupled with the wonderful sights outside, it was simply heavenly. It was 4 pm and time for us to bid goodbye to this beautiful place and people.

All in all, we have had a best of everything. Daddy enjoyed his golfing. Perry did his study and mommy had a relaxing time. Most important of all, we all have a good family time.