Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Beginnings

 
It's the start of the new year once again. For most of us, this is the time of the year where we think about how we can make ourselves better, making a long list of resolutions and planning how to make the next 12 months more memorable than ever.
 
As for me, my wish list for 2014 is just a short one--retain my job, learn how to drive, have a car, be financially stable, travel more, do charity work and stay health and happy [and in love]. This year will be a time for re-focusing for me.
 
The past two years has been spent with much enjoyment, living as if there is no tomorrow. However, tomorrow always comes and the future will not wait for me any longer. There are aspects of myself which I want to improve and for this year I will try my very best to save more, travel economically, eat properly, drink moderately and yes, exercise harder. 2013 has been somehow frustrating for me with the longstanding shoulder injury and treatment which seem not to work. Thankfully, the shoulder has been better though not fully okay towards the end of the year. The prolonged sick leave may have helped with the partial recovery together with the night shift work which entailed less moving and handling at work. I am hoping that I could play more tennis this year with the improvement of my shoulder strength.

 
 
I guess I have enjoyed much of my salary already being able to buy most of my [techie] needs and wants. I have to learn to manage my finances well and maybe try to do bank shifts in the ward which I haven't really done unlike most friends I know. I couldn't dismiss the fact that I love to dine out with friends and I do not want to completely stop this 'habit' of ours...maybe we could just lessen the restaurant visits and just cook more at home. We recently felt that it's more fun to actually dine at home especially that it's more cost effective.
 
 
 
This year as well will be literally a new start for me and my flatmates as we move to our new home in Putney. We had to move because of circumstances that we did not foresee. Nevertheless, because the new house is way bigger than the current, we reckon that this if for the best after all, things do happen for a reason. Though we will feel the crunch of paying a lot more, notwithstanding the fact that we still have to pay for the current flat till February, I believe that we'll be able to get through this. This is just a bump in the road as they say.
 
 
 
Travel should still be in the list of to-dos this year. I have booked my annual leaves already and I'm hoping that me and my friends will be able see more of the places we've put in our bucket list. Definitely, I want to see the northern lights and yes, the Pyramids of Giza, well that is if Egypt finds peace very soon. Germany, Switzerland and Amsterdam are on the list as well. I would want to go back to Paris again very soon but not in the summer where the temperatures soar above the normal body temperature. Hopefully, if I do get a car and a driving license very soon, I can get to places without the fuss of booking a coach or a train at the last minute.
 
 
 
Learning a new language, reading more books and [re-]learning a hobby are some minor stuff that I wish to do as well this year.
 
And for the wish concerning love life...let's wait and see what happens.
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Multiplicity: Forms of Silence and Emptiness

The Mikhailovsky Ballet company performing at the London Colliseum. 
Images courtesy of Groupon, The Times, The Guardian and BalletandOpera.com

I have always wanted to watch a ballet performance to compensate for my two left feet. Dancing has always been my weakness but I can and do appreciate wonderfully choreographed performances. I am in awe of ballerinas particularly because of their grace and poise and their unbelievable flexibility, contorting their bodies in positions beyond what the normal human being can do.

On April 6th, Sherill and I watched our first ballet show here in London. Russians have always been known not just for their brilliant gymnasts but also of their ballet companies. The Mikahilovsky ballet company of St. Petersburg had their season performance for 2 weeks at the London Colliseum. We were lucky enough to get discounted tickets from Groupon (yes, I am a patron) and boy, we had a good view of the stage even if we were seated near the far right side of the dress circle.

Our view from the dress circle row H. Not bad for £20, isn't it?

English National Opera House. Very different from the Royal Opera House where we first thought the show was.  Funny thing is, the gentleman at the ROH box office gave us a pre-printed map with directions to ENO which meant that a lot of people do get confused like us with the two venues.

The performance was entitled Multiplicity, a two-act ballet featuring J.S. Bach's pieces (I love Bach!!!). It was about Bach's (played by Marat Shemiunov) passion for music which was personified by the company wearing simple black costumes dancing as if they were the musical notes in his compositions and acting like musical instruments which the musical maestro "played" with gusto. There was even one scene where he was depicted playing a cello--a human cello at that (played by Sabina Yapparova) which had a somehow erotic choreography with a tinge of humour which amused most of the audience. 

For a first-timer like us, the show was different as it did not have the usual ballerinas in tutus or extravagant dresses like what they had in The Nutcraker or Sleeping Beauty. Much like the title, the stage was simple likewise were the costumes but the storyline was deep with some tinge of darkness in the end as Bach was conquered by death (played by Polina Seminova) while still clinging on his passion for music. The over-all choreography was excellent and the musical scoring will capture the hearts of many especially those who love classical music. There would be times that you will just freeze in awe while the company dance their hearts out on the stage. 

They had two curtain calls at the end of the show which they definitely deserved. It may not be at par with musicals like Miss Saigon or Les Miserables in terms of curtain calls but Mikhailovsky's performance really deserves 5 out of 5 stars. Well, why so? When you can't get over what you just have seen and get carried away by the music and the story until post-show dinner and when you rush to the nearest cash machine to get a £10 note and go back to the theatre to buy the souvenir program (as they did not accept credit/debit cards) would you not be convinced that it deserves the highest marks?

This will definitely not be the last but just the first of many ballet acts that I will add to my to-watch list.

Pictures taken with a point-and-shoot camera. Our first time as well without a DSLR. Had some boo-boos with the low-end gadget but still had wonderful shots and yes, we think it has built-in photoshop.


Souvenir programme. Cash payments only. Worth the rush to the nearest cash point machine.

Friday, March 29, 2013

G.I. JOE: Retaliation



The Joes are back again to save the world from Cobra Commander. The trailer of the movie seemed promising, but after watching it, I felt like the story was a bit shallow and predictable--suffering turns to revenge, lies breed hatred, truth brings redemption and deception leads to chaos type of storyline. Though  the effects were stunning, the weapons jaw dropping and the action scenes breath-taking, it did not really give that punch that I was expecting simply because you can predict that our heroes will save the day in the nick of time. Nevertheless, my attention was taken by Byung Hun Lee and all the Korean bits in the movie which made it a bit interesting for me. 

The zip-line action scene was my favourite part of the move as it was my first time to have seen such ingenuity in a fight scene. Read: sword-fighting mid air while traversing a zip line between mountains carrying your drugged captive contained in a body bag. Amazing indeed!




Least favourite part? Alas! London being the first test target of the nuclear weapon of Cobra Commander, sinking the Houses of Parliament together with all the landmarks in the City of Westminster! Quite unfair huh?! Since there were other countries involved the the "nuclear summit" in the movie like North Korea, India, Russia, China, Pakistan and Israel, my friends and I were wondering if the nuclear test scene of the movie will be country-specific, like would it be the Eiffel Tower if shown in France or the Taj Majal if in India. Well, they said it would not be the Great Wall in China since the director was of Chinese descent. But to nuke London first, that is quite unfair! Haha.



Bruce Willis was kinda cooler here than in Looper and yes, he worked those muscles well.
As for Dwayne Johnson, you're acting is getting close to your level in wrestling. 
Byung Hun Lee oppa, I really like your get up! Nomu joayo!

Oh, by the way, expect another sequel since Cobra Commander has lived to see another day.

Hillsong: Hope of the World (cover)


Credits to CCPC


[Verse 1]: 
For the love poured out 
For the price of freedom 
Let the whole earth sing 
The praises rising 
We stand in awe of what you've done 
For us, at the cross 


[Chorus]: 

The hope of the world 
Lifted on high 
Calling us home with arms out wide 
To know you forever, to love you forever 
You are our everything 


[Verse 2]: 

Our sin erased, 
We're forgiven 
You made a way 
You are our ransom 
And we owe this life for all you've done 
For us, at the cross 


[Chorus]: 

The hope of the world 
Lifted on high 
Calling us home with arms out wide 
To know you forever, to love you forever 
You are our everything 


[Bridge]: 

All we need is You 


[Chorus]: 

The hope of the world 
Lifted on high 
Calling us home with arms out wide 
To know you forever, to love you forever 
You are our everything

Hillsong London: Christ is Enough for Me


Credits to Pantetsky Noriega

Christ is my reward
And all of my devotion
Now there’s nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy

Through every trial
My soul will sing
No turning back
I’ve been set free

Chorus

Christ is enough for me
Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You
Everything I need

Christ my all in all
The joy of my salvation
And this hope will never fail
Heaven is our home

Through every storm
My soul will sing
Jesus is here
To God be the glory

Repeat Chorus

Coda:

I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back

The cross before me
The world behind me
No turning back
No turning back
The cross before me
The world behind me
No turning back
No turning back

Repeat Chorus 2x

Repeat Coda till fade