Monday, 28 September 2009

TV Watch: Returning Favourites (I)

Oh, yeaaaa, baby!

More apocalyptic mayhem in the fifth season of Supernatural!

The murder, mystery and mind games resume in the second season of The Mentalist!

The nerds (and the hot neighbour!) return for a third hilarious round of The Big Bang Theory!

Prepare for more uproarious neuroses in season five of
The New Adventures of Old Christine!

Will we be getting ever closer to finding out How I Met Your Mother in its fifth season?

Not a big fan of last season's hubby-killing subplot, and still waiting to see where this year's five-year leap forward will take us, in season five of Ghost Whisperer.

May the drama, romance, minor quibbling and full-blown fights over dinner parties continue in the fourth season of
Brothers & Sisters

Yup, still a fan of the Ghost Hunters!

TV Watch: Pilot Season (I)

The new TV season is upon us at long last (whoo-hoooo!)!!! Here are some of the pilot episodes of new telly shows I've seen so far!

Based on the book and the movie (and also a musical), Eastwick is the story of three women who become witches in their charming little town.. and then get seduced by a mysterious stranger into using their powers for good — or evil. Charmed-like and whimsical, this show has received mixed reviews, but I like it, and I think I'll follow it as long as it lasts.

Courtney Cox is back into comedy and is in top (albeit more mature) form in Cougar Town. She takes on the risque role of a mother in her 40s who is trying to get back into the world of relationships and sex as she takes on a younger lover and tries not to embarrass her teenage son. I quite liked the pilot and will see where the next few episodes take us.

A smart-ass but likeable lawyer finds out his law degree is a fake and has to go to Community college, where he sets up a fake study group to meet a girl he fancies. However, a ragtag bunch of misfits — including comedy vet Chevy Chase — decide to join the study group, too... and hilarity ensues. It's quirky, sharp and smartly written, so I'm liking it!

Jenna Elfman and Ashley Jensen are two of the stars of this half-hour laugh-track sitcom, Accidentally On Purpose, about a film critic who's involved with her boss, and then gets knocked up by a younger man who decides to remain part of her life. Critically panned, I was surprised that I actually liked the pilot, enough for me to at least watch, even if not faithfully, the remaining episodes that would make it to air.

The story of three families — an old man with a hot young wife and young child; a regular family with three kids; and a gay couple with an adopted Vietnamese baby — Modern Family is a sitcom that has been hailed as the best of the new TV shows launching this season. Yet I didn't think it was that great, and wasn't nearly entertained enough to decide if I like it. I guess a few more episodes will tell. But maybe it's the mockumentary style, used increasingly in tv shows these days, that's putting me off. Still, ten thousand tv critics can't be wrong, right? Right...?

TV Watch: The Past Few Weeks...

Hey all! Here are some of the TV shows that I've been following over the past few weeks and very much enjoying. No lengthy write-ups this time, but you can always click on the titles and find out more about 'em if you're keen, k? Hehe. More lists coming up...

A highly entertaining show about a doctor who inadvertently gets roped into the super-exclusive, super-rich world of the Hamptons and becomes an in-demand on-call doctor. But he's one of the "regular" people, and is interested in a "regular" admin nurse. Oooo. Conflict of ethics, romance, comedy and medical drama reign supreme in Royal Pains!

Grisly, intriguing and addictive, Fringe is a terrific supernatural/sci-fi series about an FBI team who investigates the paranormal: "fringe science", as it were. Season 2 has just commenced; I'm midway playing catch-up through season 1 right now!

A blond, superficial model-wannabe gets killed the same time plus-sized brilliant lawyer Jane is shot. Consequently, said blond, superficial model-wannabe wakes up... and finds herself trapped in plus-sized brilliant lawyer Jane's body. Hilarity ensues in the midst of clever courtroom drama in Drop Dead Diva!

She's compassionate, intelligent and efficient: a person to admire and whom you can trust with your life — except she's also a drug addict, liar, thief and husband-cheater. She's the awesome Nurse Jackie, in this dark comedy series that shows you that in the world of medicine, not everyone is necessarily "professional"...

What happens when three people who are housemates also happen to be a vampire, werewolf and ghost? An intriguing, fascinating and entertaining BBC series, all about Being Human.

A supernatural/sci-fi series about Special Branch agents who have to retrieve artifacts that have super, mystical, dangerous powers that could be used for eviiill, and store them in Warehouse 13. Mindless fun.

A crazy, clever and rip-roaringly hilarious series about some corporate folks and two lab scientists who work for Veridian Dynamics, a global multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that develops... well... we're not sure what. But this workplace comedy is insane — and in an awesome way. We're all Better Off Ted!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Listless Reflections on a Dreary Sunday

Lately nothing much has been happening. Sure, there have been some events that have unfolded (and those involved would know what I'm talking about), but apart from that and going to work, that's really, really it. So much so that I'm wondering what's going on with me and this life o' mine. I mean, has it really been all about work and theatre, work and theatre, all this while? I've been reading Facebook statuses and Tweets about people going out and about to events and parties and this and that, while I was sitting at home on a Saturday night at my computer in my empty apartment. And the oddest thing is, even when I have things to go to, I don't feel very enthusiastic about it... about going out, socialising, spending some quality time with others. I think it's partially because my foot is still slightly gouty from the attack earlier this month (it's been coming and going, and I just stubbed the affected toe earlier, OUCH that hurt), and the fact that I'm finishing up this diet, which means eating out is generally inconvenient... but another part of me reckons those are just excuses. Something else is causing this... inertia. This lack of desire to do more with my life at 29. On the other hand, I crave extremes: packing up and leaving this country. Finding new horizons elsewhere... even if just in Singapore. And then I look back and realise I never used to be so antisocial until towards the end of my Perth stint (2005/2006), when things began to go south. And when I came back home to Malaysia, I was once again the outgoing guy, eager for new people and new prospects... and three and a half years later, here I am, momentumless, just... here. I've got to snap out of this, but how? And more importantly, why? That is, why is this happening? How and why did I become so jaded and cynical and lifeless so quickly? And what can I do to turn it all around?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Weight Loss Monitor #10 & Uber Long Weekend!!

Hey all! Super long weekend for us, with Monday and Tuesday being a public holiday. Plus, I had Friday off, so I'm going to have a five-day break, whoo-hooo! No real plans; considered going to Penang but decided against travelling during this festive break. Today I've not done anything, and surprisingly, I'm feeling really good about it, heheh. Usually I tend to fret about not using my time more productively, but today, all I've done is watch sitcom reruns, surf the net and play computer games. I'll probably do some reading later, heh. Good times.

So as of this morning my weight was 73.8kg, which is 0.2kg below my targeted weight! Whoohoo! I've kickstarted the first day of the "refeeding" aspect of the programme, which is basically to introduce "regular" foods back into the diet. Not much difference in the ingredients for the first few days, apart from a slight increase in protein, and an added fruit that had previously been "forbidden". So yay, I've eaten pineapple for the first time in four months, mmmm! Oy vey, my life sounds sad. Arf arf.

Anyway, that's about it for now... will write more soon. Have a good weekend, boys and girls. And for Muslim readers of my blog, "Happy Eid ul-Fitr", or "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!" Okay, bye!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Supernatural Season 5!! Whoohooo!!

Here's another reason to celebrate: the return of primetime television! Whoohooo!!! First up on my list in the season opener to my favourite TV show, Supernatural. Season 5, baby! And man, it's grown so complex that I'm wondering how they're going to do a reset if rumours about a supposed Season 6 are true. (Click here for my previous post with Season 4 recap video clip!)

Anyway. Season 5 kicked off last week with a bang, setting up the rest of the season with Lucifer (i.e. the devil) released from hell and roaming the earth in evil human form. It was a solid start to the season, and while Season 4's angel-revealing storyline was, in my opinion, the best, it certainly rocked.

One of my favourite things about the show whenever it debuts a new season is its title screen. Supernatural has changed the title design each year, usually reflecting the theme of the season.

Here's a clip showing the opening sequences across the seasons. Season 1, simply the title; Season 2, the title in flames; Season 3, the title amidst swirling dark clouds and lightning (my least favourite); last year's angel-filled Season 4 title card, which was my favourite of the lot, what with its compelling and portentous black wings; and Season 5's, which I now think is the best of the lot and which made me literally go, "Oh, coool!" the first time I saw it (which was just last week, heh!). Plus a couple of special title sequences used for an x'mas episode and a surreal storyline that featured Supernatural as a book series within the TV show. Check it out:

And then, of course, there was the bizarre Season 4 plot that featured monsters from classic black and white horror films coming to life. Naturally, the opening credits reflected that:


Well, that's all about Supernatural for the time being! At some point I'll blog about some of the tv shows that entertained me over the past few months during what the US calls "summer programming"; and of course, as returning faves and new shows debut their new seasons, I'll do my best to write about 'em too!! ;) Until my next post... see ya! ~N

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Recharging, Weight Loss Monitor #9, and Merely Playing #1

Hey all!! What's new? Well, it's been nearly a week since FTL was shelved, and yet it feels like so much longer. I'm still working on the demos, so that hasn't been stopped. And I've begun to recharacterise and replot The Edge, which is kinda exciting, though I realise I could be at risk of overcompensating, so I'm just taking some time to slow down and recharge. The great thing is that I'm taking Fridays off from now on till the end of the year to clear some of my work leave, so I've got three-day weekends coming up. Whoohoo.

More good news? As of today, I've officially reached the 30kg weight loss mark, bringing my weight to 75kg from its original 105kg. Technically I've done it — this should be the end of the journey, since I'd planned from day one to make 75kg my targeted weight. Then I went and added a kilo loss, so let's be ambitious and aim for 74kg, shall I? Heheh. Either way, I'll consider this a success! Whoohoo!

Today I got my first column published in The Nut Graph. Yea, I've been asked to write a bi-weekly column, so that should be pretty interesting, trying to come up with things to say about theatre, performing arts and the big, bad world out there. Heh. But here's column #1. It's mostly relevant with the Malaysian sociopolitical landscape so it might not be too exciting for everyone out there; but do check it out regardless, yea? The title of the column is Merely Playing, and it's not merely a play on the word "play" as in a stage show, but is also an indirect reference to Shakespeare's famous and now rather cliched All the world's a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players (from As You Like It). Hence I'm merely playing. See? :)

Well, that's about it for now. No major projects this year, so maybe it's a time to cool down and recharge batteries for a bit. Oh, and get new wardrobe. Heh. Till next time... bye!

Edited to add: Oh, I've uploaded a new message board in the sidebar on the right! Go ahead and send me messages there, k! Cheerio!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Final FTL Demo for a while...

Well, boys and girls, in the spirit of temporary finality, here's one last demo from Follow The Light until we kick off again on our 2010 production. I'm putting this up because I'd already previously blogged about it, and because, like I said, it was one of the more difficult pieces arrangementwise, despite its relatively short length, what with its rather irregular rhythms. Musical types among you, go ahead, try and figure the time signatures out, heh. (Hear that? It's Nick blowing his own trumpet.) Okay, okay, I'm sorry, but give me a break, I'm still getting over the disappointment, so I think I'm entitled a little self-praise to cheer myself up. ;)

Anyway, as previously stated, this song is an expansion from a section in the original 2005 version. Those who were there in 2005 might recognise it. The lyrics and audio player are below; best turn the volume down before you press play. Comments welcome. Until the next FTL promo in the new year... enjoy.

Before I Turn Sixteen
From Follow The Light
Music, lyrics, musical arrangement and vocals by Nick Choo
© 2009 by Nick Choo. All rights reserved.

Oh, dear Lord, is this a scam? An angel with a heavenly plan?
What should I do? What should I say?
My heart says “yea”, my head says “nay”
Because of Joseph. My fiancé. Not quite a family man,
A bit commitaphobic. Drives me round the bend. But more to the point:

Joe’s a fine, ambitious guy with grand designs; he strategises.
Work comes first. That all said,
Should I forgo the plans I’ve made?

I wanna graduate from school. To go to college, university.
Perhaps a theatre degree! Many things before I can agree.

I wanna travel round the world! To visit places that I haven’t been.
To taste exotic new cuisine! All these things before I turn sixteen.

I want to climb the Mount of Zion high
See the sunset, marvel at the view.
And with Joey at my side, we’ll sail upon the Jordan blue!
Write a book, or paint a drop-dead work of art: Disciples at a Meal!
Own a franchised coffee shop – it all appeals!

Real life is so exciting! Should I consent or reject
The angel’s pact? Exactly how, now, shall I choose?
Whose truths are more essential? Mine, his, or His? Who can say?
Yet even as I speak, the answer’s clear as day…

And we STILL Follow The Light... just not right now

Hey everyone. Well, it's official: Follow The Light 2009 will now be Follow The Light 2010. Yeah, the director and I had a major discussion last night, and we came to the conclusion that it would be too much of a rush to try and put the show of this magnitude in time for December, as well as a bit foolhardy to attempt it when aspects of the production such as casting, scheduling and funding weren't exactly falling into place as we'd hoped. It's a longer story than this, but I don't wish to go into it here. All I can say is: it's shelved. And we've broken the news to the cast and crew, which is why I'm writing about this here.

Personally, I'm both relieved and immensely disappointed. The former because it was beginning to get very overwhelming. The latter for obvious reasons; a part of me is thinking, "There we go, that familiar refrain: next year. Next year. Next year." Unfortunately it can only be staged during Christmastime, which is the problem, ain't it, with seasonal productions, heh.

Oh well. Next year it will be. Colin, new producer Nora and I have locked in the dates for 2010, and the good news is, Nora is going to continue working with us to get things done for next year well in advance of the production. This includes either retaining the present or securing an alternative venue; sourcing for funding, sponsorships, investments, etc; and pretty much getting a lot more done that we've been able to accomplish in the short period that we've had this year (we started proper work on this sometime around May, right after I got back from Perth). And with more than 12 months to go to our new targeted deadline, it's actually a lot more optimistic that we'll be able to accomplish a quality production. So to many extents, this could be a blessing. Glass half full, eh. And hey, 2010 would mean the show would be revived five years after its original staging. Kinda serendipitous, in a bittersweet, milestoney kinda way. I'm not sure what I mean by that. Moving on.

Of course, the way we've broken it to the cast is that they have first rights to their characters next year. In other words, if they've been given the role of, say, the Angel Gabriel, the actor shall be the first choice for that role next year, and it will only be recast if and unless our present performer is unable to commit. Only fair, right? :)

Further pluses? I intend to get the demos completed by this year anyway, so the recordings will be more than ready by next year. And with this extra time, I get to work on the scoring of the show, which is something I'd been fretting about for a while now — i.e., how to write all the music out in the short period between now and December.

Another major plus, which I will broach with caution? Time to revisit The Edge, for an early 2010 staging. Yup. My life revolves around these two productions, and I believe I can only move on when both of them are properly presented. So yah, new discussions will be starting for The Edge, but don't worry, I've learnt from the past and am continuing to learn, so I will only do The Edge if it seems feasible; no more rushing and being overeager to accomplish too much. We'll see how it develops, won't we.

A few things are on my mind, though. First off, if my workplace folds — and it could very well do — what would I do for money? I'm very inclined to return to what I attempted last year, which was to go freelance and work part-time and on an as-and-when basis; i.e. work on projects as and when they fall into my lap. Because I don't think I'd be able to start a new job and retain the level of flexibility needed in terms of time to devote to my projects. Yeah, it's a scary decision because of the fact that I'm living out of home now; but it's because I was living at home, I think, that made it hard last year; that and the fact that my equipment was new, and I didn't have a registered company, and my name was relatively unknown (still is, for the most part, though the Cameronian nomination probably hasn't hurt).

Then, of course, I have to consider: what's going to happen with projects overseas in Perth? On hold? Simultaneous? (I haven't forgotten Eastertime, Judi!!!) ;) What's going to happen to my application for permanent residency, which I was hoping to kickstart next year? Granted, it would take a long time to process and I'd probably still be in the country until after 2010, but it's a bit risky, no? I don't know. I guess we'll cross these bridges when we get to them, though I'm clearly already starting to fret about 'em. Oy vey. Baby steps, Nick. Baby steps.

So that's that for now. Am I still sad right now? A little bit. But at least I can go watch telly, wake up tomorrow for work, come home and chill out without having to stress out about demos and script rewrites and where FTL is heading. Because I can at least take a few deep breaths now and give myself a little more space and time to do what I need to do to make FTL the truly kickass rockin' musical it's going to be in 2010. And if I accomplish The Edge along the way, hey, what a bonus. Wish me luck, everyone. I've got all my chins up.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Nick Knack Productions!

Aaaand as of right now, I am the proud owner of a registered self-enterprise, Nick Knack Productions! Yaaay! It's been a long time coming, but it's finally done, and God willing Follow The Light will be its first official production. Whoohoo! Next step: a proper logo. I'm also thinking of doing some revamps to my website to reflect Nick Knack Productions - at the very least a new subdomain. We'll see how it goes. But yes, feeling quite excited now. And a little nervous for some odd reason. But anyhoooo. More later!

Weight Loss Monitor #8

Whoohoo, the oddest thing: I weighed myself this morning and found out my weight was 76.2kg, as opposed to the 77.3kg yesterday. Don't think I lost more than a kilo overnight, so it must've been... I dunno, water retention or something, don't laugh, arf arf. Yayness!! And before you suggest it, no, I don't think it's a faulty scale: it's digital and as far as I can tell is in proper working order, heh. So yes, 76.2kg! 2.2kg from my ambitious target weight of 74kg! I've decided to say "screw it" to the extraneous 200g and have gone ahead to order my "refeeding" programme, which is basically the adjusted "menu" to allow more foods (including carbs and sweets) back into my system. You're supposed to order it 2kg away from your target weight. Eh. Close enough. Heh! Yay!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Pain in the Foot + Weight Loss Monitor #7 (I miscalculated the last Weight Loss Monitor and said #5 when it was really #6. Oy this is a long title)

Hi boys and girls! Sorry for the long silence. Unfortunately last week I came down with an attack of the dreaded gout, which I've written about many a time before, and it left me incapacitated (not to be too dramatic!) and immensely cranky. I think what pissed me off the most was that I'm currently eating "healthy", and yet I get a gout attack. I could've eaten unhealthy, rich foods and still get a gout attack — at least then I wouldn't feel so ripped off, arf! But anyway, the pain has reduced (took a shot for it, in the bum no less, no puns, oy!), but de foot's still rather swollen and sore, and I blame the prawns. Yup, the prawns. Let it be known that on a healthy protein-prioritised diet, prawns and seafood of a crustaceanous nature are ze enemy!! You hear me?? Ze ENEMEE! Grrrr!!!!


As of right now, 15 FTL 2009 demos completed; seven remaining, oy. We recently had to sort out some issues with the production team for the show, but that has happily been resolved, so we're moving forward with the plan. Last week I also spent quite a bit of time preparing an application for funding, as well as a full-length dossier (read: info pack) on the show. God willing it'll all still happen. Don't you love it when nothing's certain? Sure keeps you on your toes, doesn't it? Ah, if only the toes weren't painful with the gout. Oy.

Weight stands at 77.3kg. It sure has slowed, the rate of loss. Regardless, only 2.3kg remaining to target weight. Well, 3.3kg if I wanna be ambitious. But I might not push it. We'll see. And despite my crankiness lately and the greatest temptation to cheat, I haven't. Not once. Okay, I've sneaked in extra serves of fruit. But I don't think that counts. Or if it does, well... too bad. Heh.

Today I recorded the vocals for a demo I'm particularly proud of: I spent 8 hours (or more) on programming the music, and it runs at slightly less than three minutes. That's how long it takes to do one song, sheesh! But this one is even more intricate because it's full of tricky rhythms and metre changes (7/8 to 13/8, for instance!). Pray that the musicians will be able to perform it. At the very least, the drummer should have a blast, heheh!! I'll put the demo up in due course, and it's doubly exciting because this song is new and wasn't in the original 2005 version! Well, that's not entirely true — it's expanded from a section from the original 2005 version. So I'll count it as new regardless. Hee. Watch this space!

New seasons of TV shows commence this week, whoohoo!

Okay, I think that's about it for now. Ah, it's nice to see a new blog post, isn't it? :) Til next time!