Thursday, November 27, 2008

Life In General

Life In General,
Is meaningless,
Is uninteresting,
Is disheartening.

Life In General,
Is an overwhelming panic of discovering your purpose and place.
Is an endless cycle of working towards something you'll never reach.
Is the hopeless realisation of how worthless your dreams are, should you achieve them.

Life In General,
Is the constant fear of being alone.
Is the painstaking search for acceptance, reverence and love.
Is the bitterness of learning that for better or worse, things surely change.

Life In General,
Is the dread of bad things following the good.
Is the impossible wish of merriment lasting forever.
Is a series of problems strung together by fleeting moments of happiness.

Life In General,

Let us then,
Learn to live Life In Specific.
The moments, the present, the bits and pieces.

Life In Specific,
Can be good or bad.
You choose.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Letter To Ju Liang

Hey there mate,

How are you? I'm sure you're doing fine, as you've always been.

Guess what? It finally ended. VBS, I mean.

Seemed just like yesterday we were prancing about with Clement in your living room, huh? And remember that sensational joke about oversleeping through the VBS graduation and receiving 28 missed calls? Haha. Now that's what I call scary.

Gotta confess something here. I had actually been concocting the storyline since March, solely during lonely drives home from office. Up to the time of your funeral, it was almost done and dusted. It was supposed to be a Teresa Teng-inspired musical. I think we spoke briefly about it in our final conversation.

Very hyped up, I was. This year around, I wisely snapped up the talented assistants two months ahead. Namely Joyce for choreography and Yee Ling for props. Hohoho. It doesn't get better than that. Even started approaching students for the lead roles.

But you know... things change. On the Sunday 18 hours before VBS, a few of us had our first in-depth discussion of the Teresa Teng-ey script. Conclusion was what I had been fearing and Joyce had been insinuating all along: Too much emotional build-up required for a VBS stage. In other words, it was very dangerously close to becoming boring.


So there and then, we brainstormed for an alternative script. Or rather, they threw ideas while my mental hands feebly grasped at straws. I was in a daze, to say the least.

It all started from one insight you shared with me last year.

"Hey Daniel... ever noticed how every year the leng luis are underused like crazy?"

I shared it with them and insisted that I wanted prominent roles for the girls. More so since I expected extra girls than boys this year.

First came the idea of a group of missionaries landing on an all-woman island. Seemed like a riot at first, but I somehow imagined this more suited for the Chinese class. So I unselfishly passed it to Chi Yuan and his definite superstar Karlson.

Then it appeared. "How about Snow Brown and the seven dwarfs? With gender reversed roles!"

At first, I was totally clueless where such a story could go. It sounded more like a joke than a proper story.

But it would have to do. I had only 72 hours to put the script to paper.


Everything fell into place during Monday lunch. I deliberately sneaked out to eat on my own. There it all came to life - the pseudo-Japanese-speaking ninja, the stone-faced translator, the vain stepfather, the handsome Snow Brown, the magic mirror, the seven lengluis and their funny names.

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to type out the script even by Wednesday morning (the first day of my leave). Worse still, I had TWO other jobs to complete within the same day. But you know what pressure does for me - skipped VBS in the morning, flew through one job and spewed out the entire script with jokes on-the-spot. Seriously, I was hearing voices in my head whispering lame dialogue.


The students were great this year! Very independent and gung-ho. This guy Jonathan, who played the translator to hilarious effect, even went home and improvised two options for his brief scene. And they were quality options, trust me!

A smaller class this year meant more time working with them, and less trying to keep them under control. *shudders under visions of Austin with a football* Joyce took charge of the girls and their one dance scene, which turned out quite the show-stealer.

So capable and motivated were the students that by Day Two, everything was almost fully rehearsed. Day Three was spent practising with music, waiting for the girls to finish their handwork and putting the final touches to their choreography.

Saturday rehearsal was not bad actually, but I slightly lost my temper at the PA guys for fumbling up the music. Perhaps that's the best indicator of how passionate you are for something.

And Sunday oh Sunday, the longest day of my life. I was both songleading and emceeing the ceremony as well. And to make things worse, my computer just had to choose the night before to die.

Woke up, or rather decided that I couldn't sleep, at 6.30am. Managed to jot down a list of things to do for the day and some emcee ideas before rushing off to Sunday School. Another round of thanks to Joyce who actually chose and arranged the songs for our songleading later. Guess I owe her... er, two.

And Jeffrey was right. I was having major butterflies in the stomach.


Sometimes, you know how things will turn out exactly. But that doesn't make the journey any more wonderful. As the crowd cheered for the day's final performance by Inter English, as the actors delivered their lines to side-splitting laughter, as the actresses danced to rapturous applause, as the songs were played out perfectly, as the students took their final bow, you knew something special was in the air.

Was it you? I could almost swear I saw you smiling and clapping along in the front row.

They're saying that there will be a revamp of VBS next year onwards. No more presentations. Could be a good thing. But hey, if this is to be our final VBS presentation ever, no regrets man.

It has been a year like no other. Look where we ended up. But the highest high will always be worth all the lows combined.

P.S. Sorry I ended up not dedicating the performance to you. Was dead set on it till the change to a 100% comedy script. Was afraid it would damper the mood. But I personally dedicated it you. =)

Till next time,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November Rain

"What song are you playing?" she smiled sweetly.


He was caught completely off guard. This was the first time she ever noticed him playing the guitar.

"Umm... nothing. Just a random tune."

"Ooh. Sounds nice." she chirped before walking away to talk to the other guys.

His heart sighed, like it always had, as he stared from afar at the girl he knew he would never have.

He lied. He wasn't playing a random tune.

When I look into your eyes

I can see a love restrained
But darlin' when I hold you
Don't you know I feel the same

Nothin' lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

We've been through this such a long long time
Just tryin' to kill the pain

But lovers always come and lovers always go
An no one's really sure who's lettin' go today
Walking away

If we could take the time
to lay it on the line
I could rest my head
Just knowin' that you were mine
All mine

So if you want to love me
then darlin' don't refrain
Or I'll just end up walkin'
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time...on your own
Do you need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time... on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone

I know it's hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn't time be out to charm you

Sometimes I need some time...on my own
Sometimes I need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
Nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain

"Hey," she called softly. "You going? It's starting to rain."

His lips slowly parted.


Friday, November 14, 2008

10 Promises To My Dog

As further proof of the recent dumbing-down of my blog, today we're gonna talk about A MOVIE I WATCHED!


Some weeks back, I happened to come across an ad for this obscure Japanese film, in the cinema section of the papers.

It read:

"When 14-year-old Akari (Fukuda Mayuko) finds a Golden Retriever puppy in her backyard, her mother (Takashima Reiko) approves of her keeping the puppy on condition that she never forgets 'The 10 Promises' of dog ownership. Together, they name the puppy 'Socks' from her white paw markings, and Socks proves to be a faithful and devoted friend to Akari as she goes through many trials during her growing years. However, as time went by and Akari grew up (Tanaka Rena), she slowly forgets about 'The 10 Promises'... until one faithful day, when she is cruelly reminded of those of 'The 10 Promises' which she did and did not keep with Socks."


Who could possibly not fall in love with a storyline like that.

So after several weeks of trying, I finally managed to drag Wen Cheng to watch it with me this past Monday night. Just to be safe, I carried a packet of tissues with me into the cinema. WHATT... I was having a flu okay. No kidding.

Akari one day finds a stray puppy in her backyard...

And asks her mother for permission to keep it. The mom looks really sweet and motherly!

The puppy, Socks, grows, and so does the girl. Socks becomes Akari's constant companion through her troubled childhood dealing with a workaholic father and sickly mother.

Introducing the childhood flame who went overseas to study music and returned as a famous guitar player! Unfortunately, he looked much more handsome as a kid...

And what's a Jap movie without a heartwarming sakura scene?

Kudos to the dad, who managed to transform from the film's most slappable character at first, to the second most lovable. No prizes for guessing the first.

Sorry, that's all the pictures I managed to steal from the Internet.

All in all, a wonderful movie that's simple in nature, yet rich in execution. I'm sure I heard lots of sniffs in the cinema at the two scenes when Akari leaves Socks. Predictable as it was (oh come on, you KNOW who or what is going to 'what' at the end of the movie), tears welled up in my eyes. Such was the power of this refreshing tale of a girl, her dog, her family, friends, love and life.

And for whatever it's worth, here's the Youtube trailer:

"You'll always have school and friends, but I'll only have you."