gambitch - now available in blue
Our constant efforts to reinvent ourselves reveal how much we fear our own images.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I just had to, didn't I? Go hit the YouTube again, I mean.

And this time it was because a very fun MV just crossed my mind.

Which one? This one:

Yes, I admit, I have a slight thing for Fish. I did remember, though, that the male singer in this MV once said that the ending had a slightly cheeky "Awwwwwwwww..." touch to it. Funny, quaint, and ultimately charming.

Anyway, I'm doing another show later in the evening. Until then.

gambitch [ 1:44 AM]

Friday, August 04, 2006


How many times have I wished I could tell you?
How many times have I wished I knew the words to say?
If you could see through my eyes
Maybe you'll come to realize
Just why it is I end up thinking this way...


If you had been there and done that
Become the fallen angel as I have become
You would know
You would understand

But you are not fallen
You are up there
Not realizing you are up there
Not knowing just how lucky you are
Not knowing you have so much worth cherishing
That I wished I had
That I wished I could share
That I wished I could come to understand

I'm trying to find my wings back
Feel the feathers
So that I have something to protect with
So that I can rise and fly across the sky
Dancing among the clouds
Like you can
Just that you didn't know


gambitch [ 11:41 PM]

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hitting the YouTube again, here's something I came across.

Okay, so it's slightly different from what I saw on one of the DVDs I have.

Anyway, though, watching the MV made me want to just go out there and find the original movie. I want to watch it, not because of Takeshi or Gigi or Karen. I want to watch the story because, well, I want to watch the story.

Besides, I do think that it was a major coup to land Shino for this song. She may still have some reputation for being more of a rock chick, but I think this was a very definitive moment in her career. It definitely proved she can do ballads no less well than she can do her pop-rock.

Yes, I know, Shino's a girl after all. But, still!

gambitch [ 9:59 PM]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

So, while I was working on my latest delayed writing assignment - delayed because I slept the whole morning off thanks to a deactivated alarm clock - I felt kinda itchy and scratchy, especially in my hands and feet. I was scratching a little bit too much for my own liking, so I reckoned the best thing to do was probably a Dettol bath. I'm not sure what made me think it was the germs causing the itchy feeling, but I thought it made sense anyway. So into the Dettol bath I soaked.

I was soaking in it for the best part of 15 minutes at least, or maybe half an hour. I can't recall, because I didn't install a clock in my bathroom, and I wasn't looking at the clock all that closely when I had stepped away from my computer. Suffice to say I soaked in the tub for a good while, and I came out with prune-wrinkled fingers, as you usually would after soaking in water for a long time.

The whole thing sort of triggered the memory of this thing I read last week, which was written by a newspaper columnist. In it, this young lady was talking about the difference between women and men when it came to bathing or showering. The drift of it is that she was quite shocked her husband (okay, maybe she's not that young after all) was able to just get a towel and wipe off a stray soapsud left on his back while he was showering, and that he could be done with his shower inside five minutes. To her, the bathroom ritual is more than just a functional thing. It's also spiritual, and she totally indulges in it and comes out like she's gone through a therapeutic experience.

I'd have to agree with this columnist that guys tend to rush their cleansing process. I know; I'm guilty of that most of the time. Okay, so I do better - I take ten minutes - but I don't think I'm that thorough when it comes to making myself feel clean and pure and fresh. Granted, it's often because I don't really have the luxury of time to do so - a combination of waking up at the last vital moment, sometimes later, ahead of another early assignment, together with the fact that I'm generally lazy. But even when the opportunities do arise, I usually don't take them all that much. Showering is, to me, a short process. It's not as if I often do baths.

It doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't have to be that way. Cleansing yourself can be a spiritual experience rather than just a physical one. Okay, I'm sounding a bit batty here already, all this "in touch with your inner self" nonsense and all. But if you took the time to cleanse yourself you'd be amazed how much dirt you could scratch off. Certainly I was a little bit surprised when I decided to scrub my arms. I hadn't realized they could feel this fresh and alive after I was done with them today. Usually it was just a superficial, even if hard, rub with the soap bar. Today I really took my time, and the difference could be felt right away.

And it can be amazing what little things you learn along the way. I actually tried to soak my feet in germicide as well, and while the right foot was easy, the left foot posed quite a bit of a challenge. It was more than just a symmetric movement of the legs. The whole exercise of washing my left foot actually came close to causing a bit of physical pain, particularly when I tried to wash the arch of my foot. Not at all an easy exercise, that. Which of course could prompt me to think about taking up one of those stretching or pilates courses, but that's another matter.

I also realized halfway into the bath that I wasn't washing my hair particularly well, especially the shampoo bit. It's harder to shampoo longer hair than it is to shampoo porcupine pricks - that's how short my hair has been before - and it's not even something that can be measured as a linear function of your hair length. It gets much harder. Maybe exponentially. Point is, I realized I wasn't that good when it came to shampooing my own hair when it's long. Which again emphasizes how little I know in the art of self-cleansing.

But I suppose it's not a surprise I wasn't doing that well in washing my hair. After all, it's only quite recently that I started keeping my hair as long as I did. Which isn't very long (in terms of both hair length and time), I know. But it's kinda like having to suddenly get used to driving an automatic transmission car with a whole bunch of funky features, when all these years you've been used to the old Volkswagen beetle. It's supposed to be quite similar, but then it turns out to be anything but.

I guess I have a whole lot to learn in terms of taking care of myself in these hygiene matters. It's less straightforward than I used to think. And goodness, don't get me started on the whole routine of washing my face. I'm not doing very much there at the moment, but if I did, people will start calling me a vainpot! Oh the horror! That's like sooooooooo the last thing I needed to hear!

gambitch [ 3:14 PM]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lazy ol' me was never known for being good in the gym. Heck, I rarely if ever visited the gym! But today, due largely to some work I had to do in the morning, I ended up visiting a gym, and I have to say there was much more to the place than the weights machines and treadmills. And there were plenty of those too! Some of them were even lined up by the window to give you this brilliant view of the sea and a neighbouring little island. Breathtaking, that was.

But back to the facilities. They had plenty of machines, but they also had this nice place that came with these big ball thingies - I don't know what you call those things. It's the kind of thing where you can do all sorts of cardio and aerobic exercises. Brilliant stuff, it seems. And to top it all off, there's a nice spa and jacuzzi, not to mention a cafe that serves lovely, healthy food, complete with salad bar! Ah, wonderful place, it really is.

The costs are a little bit high, but I have to say, for someone who is known for being lazy, I was seriously tempted to join this fitness place. Talking about it with someone else, though, I was offered the not unreasonable point that getting oneself fit is all about the mind; I don't actually have to sign up for these expensive things. I could, for example, jog instead.

Yes, except I'm overweight and I haven't got great knees for starters.

It's a real problem for people who are actually overweight, this knee thing. We don't feel so good in our knees, and the next thing we know, we don't feel like running anymore. If we force ourselves, it might be a matter of time before we develop this thing called chondromalacia patellae, which is some fanciful medical term that essentially means I've got pain in the knees, and it's going to be chronic.

Of course, on the other hand, cycling is quite a desirable activity, because it places less impact-related stress on the knees, not to mention the ankles. The tradeoff is that I'd suffer from a sore tailbone for a day or three if I cycled too much, but no one has ever had a medical problem from a sore tailbone.

The only problem? I don't have a bicycle now, unlike in the rather old past. Of course, that could be arranged...

From the sporty, let's turn to the more arty. So last night I went to immerse myself again in "the special place". As it turns out, it was our (the audience's) turn to sing that night. So I sang a few songs, and other people I didn't know sang a few songs too. And I'd say that, for the most part, I had a good bit of fun. It was also pretty nice getting to know the regular performers there; I actually didn't find it too hard to muster the courage to chat with these guys, rather than make the straight beeline for the exit. It helps they're male, of course, but that didn't really feature much. They're performers, but they're pretty nice people too.

It did cross my mind whether I could consider cultivating a side interest in singing and performing. But then my voice ain't that great, and I don't know enough songs to get by. As an opening barrier to entry, that's quite a double whammy. Of course, I could turn to playing the keyboards, but I'm also out of practice on that front - and I need an excuse to put in some practice time.

I've got a funny feeling I fare better on the softer songs, although my own singing voice is probably too soft to start with - both in volume and quality. Which is rather strange, I must say, considering that I'm the loud type when it comes to my normal conversational voice, and certainly when it comes to my argumentative voice. I can't possibly be singing that softly. But I do. Does it restrict me to a certain set of songs? I might have reason to think that's the case. That is, unless, I find those loud, expressive songs that are very rich in nature. Kinda like those you get in musicals.

Speaking of which... Well, you get the drift.

But much as I might be a bit of a stage creature, it all means little or even nothing if I'm not performing in front of people who I'd like to have see me perform. And while there's a certain amount of fun that comes from singing alone to no one, or at least no one you know, it can only go on for so long.

Still, I need practice. When I'm ready, that's another matter.

gambitch [ 2:32 PM]

Monday, July 31, 2006

Cabaret was good last night! Nothing, absolutely nothing could spoil the evening, although there were a couple of minor imperfections in the build-up to the event proper. Such as people coming late... But I didn't mind that too much, apart from the fact that it meant I couldn't stop by longer at the (you wouldn't believe it) teddy bear workshop.

Yes, I wanted to visit the teddy bear workshop. So sue me.

The other oddity is how, having gone through all the thoughts of enjoying a nice indoor dinner - Italian would have been fantastic - it then all came down to good ol' heartlander food at marked-up prices. But then, I sort of shrugged the discomfort off, because sometimes it's not the food, but the people.

And it was very much the people on this occasion. That's all I shall say, without giving away too much.

Anyway, the show. It was excellently rich, thrillingly colourful and wantonly decadent. And then the second act came along. As Clifford Bradshaw put it, "The party's over!" Except no one else wanted to believe it. Not the Germans, not Sally Bowles. Whether they were trapped in a state of (alcohol-fuelled?) denial, or whether they simply genuinely believed everything would be just like before, I would never know. But for a show that had 'sexy' (drop the Y if you want) written all over it, the first act largely carried an air of innocence that made the second act all the sadder to digest.

And really, the signs were obvious from the moment the silhouettes appeared after the intermission. The presentation of group sex, complete with desperate, random coloured lights and tension-filled jarring music made the whole scene look more nervous than anything else. It's sort of like going for a roller-coaster ride for the sake of the thrill that is supposed to come with it. When it becomes a drug, an addiction, a crutch people turn to in a desperate attempt to escape from the real world that is harsh and dark, the desire for an ever-stronger kick just escalates to unquenchable levels. Which is why it is perhaps appropriate we didn't get the "Happily Ever After" type of ending. The whole thing is just too sad for it to fit.

But there were absolute gems of laughing moments, like the scene where the fruit seller Herr Schultz presented Fraulein Schneider with a gift - a much-too-expensive, much-too-luxurious, much-too-exotic... pineapple! I have no idea where '30s Berlin gets its pineapples from, but apart from that, the sweet measuredness of the moment in the context of the rest of the show just gave me the feeling, "It's good to be ordinary, maybe, with the mortal and mundane woes and worries, and the occasional sweet-as-a-pineapple dreamy moment."

Yes, that thought actually flashed across my mind.

But the show was mostly dark, very dark. From the moment Ernst Ludwig showed up, you could always suspect something amiss. But the Mein Kampf he left behind - which Sally Bowles spotted - should have scared anybody. How long it is that people took to realize Ludwig was with the Nazi Party could be a reflection of their attention to detail. But the little spiders - a reference on my part to The Sound Of Music (prizes for those who can spot where that came from) - started crawling up my nerves once I heard the book title. You would have expected as much, though, if you knew the setting of the story.

Against this backdrop, the cabaret is just a temporary escape, a place for people to numb themselves and drown themselves in the decadence of girls, boys, or both (!). Not to mention the alcohol. Lots and lots of it too, I presume. It's nice to have that feeling that you're free from those woes, but how many times have Sally Bowles and the other folks woken up to find themselves severely hungover? We'll never quite come to know, given that the show never gave us an actual glimpse of everyone else's daily lives outside the cabaret, and Sally's is hardly representative given how little we see.

But all in all? A richly debaucherous performance thoroughly enjoyed by myself and everyone else who was present. Bring on August!

gambitch [ 7:00 AM]

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Some day I had! And I'm not really done yet! But first, a review of the stuff I was doing this afternoon.

As I had indicated yesterday, I was actually going to watch The Car and 41 Hours. It ended up that 41 Hours was actually shown before The Car, which really is a minor, unimportant technicality. Suffice to say that both were interesting for their own reasons.

The shows were actually presented in a small-ish theatre studio. I say small-ish because they didn't really feel that small, not when you could hold about 250 people in the seating area. Okay, the stage itself wasn't tremendously big, but then they don't have to be. The cast size was on the small side anyway, and because the set design went for a minimalist approach, it meant there was less space to fill, which translates to fewer items to worry about.

41 Hours was interesting, talking about a couple who haven't properly communicated with each other despite what seems on the surface a functional, happy enough marriage. They have kids, they're still together, they were thinking of going away on the weekend for a holiday without the kids. What could have been wrong? As we find out quickly enough, plenty. And this is even before they get into the fix they do, spending 41 hours together on a window ledge because they got locked out of the guy's office. Or was it his home? You can't tell these things, not that they matter.

How do you spend 41 hours with a spouse you haven't properly talked to in ten years? A person with whom you admit you never talk, just argue? A couple who don't make love, just have sex ("It's the same thing!" says the husband.)? Oh wait, it gets better. The husband actually has this crazy, creative idea of wanting sex on the window ledge, mainly because he says they've never done it there before? And then the wife goes into this dead-fish mode, saying "I'm not in the mood"? That's certainly not a very communicative couple now, is it?

It's not all about the sex, of course. Most of the time, it is not. Heck, the guy is never dressed in anything less than his singlet, and his pants stay on throughout the show. But here you have a female lawyer who was wanting to file affidavits at the hotel (bringing work out to a getaway with the husband is not a very good idea), and a guy great at spewing crap and trying to make people laugh... Something's just missing. She says she tries very hard, too hard to make the marriage work. Maybe she's just doing it wrong. As for the guy, he doesn't realize that sometimes the wife doesn't want someone who can make her laugh, but can sit down and watch and console her as she cries.

... I look at all this and it seems altogether stereotypical, the coarse, insensitive guy who isn't stone cold, he just doesn't understand despite his best foolish attempts. Not to mention the career woman wife who just can't open her mouth and say something soft for a change, because she's hardened by all the work. Sometimes married life is about putting your foot down and saying you've had enough work already. Sometimes love is about spending that bit of time together being, well, together. Making those connections, you know what I mean?

(Of course, I say this with no real authority of any kind.)

There are nice moments in the show, like when the wife sees the sunrise she didn't want to see, and then suddenly comments that it really is beautiful. See? The husband can get it right once in a while. And the whole ridiculous thing from the husband about swinging down to the window below so that he can get into the building and open his own window from the inside. Sure, there's the fear of falling off and going splat, but conveniently he succeeds. And after all that, of course, which way do you suppose the story will end?

So that was 41 Hours, which explores a few things about love and marriage, about how differences lead people to drift apart only because they stopped properly communicating. And then when they have to face each other in a closed, tight space, it all suddenly goes crazy.

The Car? Was a fun production of a slightly different kind. Fun, though not necessarily that funny, not that it meant to be. I should start, though, by pointing out that the performance showcased how the lady taking the role of the daughter was actually quite good, switching almost effortlessly from the 20-something cold-hearted graduate bureaucrat into this cute, 8-year-old "small fart" (her dad's words) with the incredibly adorable kiddie voice. You try doing that!

Like I mentioned earlier, this play was very minimalist in its use of props and sets. In fact, all it really had was four square boxes that look a bit like Rubik's Cubes. Most of the time, it represented 'the car', which was completed by a man dressed up in a car mechanic's overalls. So yes, the car speaks. The point essentially is the experimental minimalism that goes into the presentation, which keeps the focus firmly on the dynamics between the various characters.

It's a bit tough to imagine now how anyone would accept driving at the crawl that is 30 miles an hour. But that was acceptable to the dad, who christened his Fiat Marvelette "the magical old car". It's gone through a few adventures, and it even watched the little girl grow up. And that's where the story largely centres around - the relationship between the girl who grew up and the car that could only grow old.

A few scenes were striking, and they largely revolved around the relationship between dad and daughter. After all, the daughter wanted to dump the car because it's too inextricably linked with memories of her dad. But her dad seemed fine when he was first introduced, so what was the problem? That question eventually gets answered in the play, of course. The odd part is that the dad seemed so loving to his girl, not to mention to his car too. He always looked willing and happy to dote on his daughter - after all, as he said, "How to say no?"

It's only midway into the play that I see a couple of the bad moments. I'm not entirely sure what happened in one scene, when the daughter suddenly said she didn't want the ice-cream that her dad had bought at the supermarket. Maybe it wasn't entirely that sudden, I guess. But given that the little girl usually liked ice-cream, something was definitely wrong. But what? We never find out, because the dad never asked. Instead he loses his temper and scolds his daughter, saying how he has spoilt her and everything. Now that much may be true, but surely you could sit down and find out what's wrong. After all, it's just an ice-cream!

And it gets worse. Having scolded his daughter into finally accepting the ice-cream, he then blows up when she drops it while taking it from him. Now, it looks entirely accidental, and I'd be willing to let it pass if I were an observer at an actual scene, but parents somehow tend to think the kid's throwing a tantrum or something, and then they shout some more to their children and blame them for messing the place up. "Who's going to clean this up now, huh?" Things like that.

It gets worse as the girl grows up and goes into secondary school. An ordinary enough scene of a boy grabbing a girl by the arms - which the audience sees is not even a moment of passion, but a simple case of urgent worry over why the girl's dad is late in picking them up from class - ends up being exaggerated into something nearly sinful. Overzealous protection on the part of the dad turns into paranoia and outright distrust. Throw in the odd car breakdown and the dad's bizarre unwillingness to let his 14-year-old daughter take public transport, and well...

Again it's about person-to-person relationships, and how a gross lack of sensitivity and level-headed reason ends up turning everything rotten. Dad could surely have handled it differently? Maybe it wasn't possible in him because it's not his nature. But are all guys like that? Surely not?

And in the end, it's the daughter who feels the poison, who wants to sell the car because it brings too many bad memories. She hated her dad, and she hated the car. How did it all come to this? Speaking from a young person's perspective, I would grant that she wished for greater freedom and respect as she's growing up, but the adult's response to this was perhaps too knee-jerk and too coarse. Maybe it was possible to grant this freedom, within limits. Maybe there was a better way to communicate and compromise. Maybe the relationship could have worked out better if they knew better. Then all this hatred that seems so unnecessary and so wrong could have been averted.

Lots of thought-provoking material, to be sure. But the plays were both good. And I'd love to see more of the same. Anyone care to join me?

gambitch [ 3:06 AM]


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