Monday, 31 December 2018

New Year's Eve IV: The Year in Pieces

A stock image, but this pretty much sums it up.
Late last year, I read one of those articles about filling a jar with post-it notes on good things that happened throughout the year, and then at the end of the year you take the notes out and read 'em and be grateful for all the positive stuff that occurred over the past 12 months. "That's a good idea," I thought, and decided to kick start the endeavour by just writing down at least one highlight of each week. My intention had been to eventually start writing 'em down on actual little slips of paper and filling a jar, but... wouldn't you know it, I never got round to doing that. Instead, I kept keeping track of highlights in my Google Calendar app (LOL).

Yesterday marked the final week of 2018, which means the collection of Good Things for the year has come to an end. So, to commemorate the New Year, here's my weekly list of things that stood out each week across 2018. Some weeks there was just one incident. Some weeks there were several. A couple of weeks were sparse. But I managed to log at least one entry every seven days - things that made me smile, things that made me happy, things that seemed positive in a week/month/year that was full of ups, downs and sideways. Some weeks I mention specific friends, but if you're not mentioned, please don't take that to mean I don't remember you or am not grateful for you being there. And naturally, my housemate gets mentioned pretty frequently, LOL. Sigh!

Without further ado, from week one (January 2018) to the final week:

  • Week 1 (ending Jan 7) - Spending time with Ashley!
  • Week 2 (ending Jan 14) - Finished Calling Lights of Broadway for Dames & Dimes project!
  • Week 3 (ending Jan 21) - Catching up with friends: Nicole, Cheryl, Alia, Amelia!
  • Week 4 (ending Jan 28) - Selangor Phil Commemorative dinner and launch of the "Music & Laughter" song!
  • Week 5 (ending Feb 4) - Rehearsing with friends for Fundraiser Concert!
  • Week 6 (ending Feb 11) - Fundraiser Concerts!! >RM10,000 raised for brother.
  • Week 7 (ending Feb 18) - Chinese New Year at home!
  • Week 8 (ending Feb 25) - Back in Perth!
  • Week 9 (ending Mar 4) - Got my car fixed (mostly); plus Zoo Membership (thanks Levon)!
  • Week 10 (ending Mar 11) - Went to the beach with Plant Lover Housemate (Bren)!
  • Week 11 (ending Mar 18) - Zoo visit again, plus PhD chats with David M and Melissa!
  • Week 12 (ending Mar 25) - My birthday! Plus lease on new house approved!
  • Week 13 (ending Apr 1) - First Edge rehearsal! Long overdue catchup with Mel J!
  • Week 14 (ending Apr 8) - Launch of The Edge at Blue Room. Plus, keys to new house!
  • Week 15 (ending Apr 15) - First week in new house with Bren!
  • Week 16 (ending Apr 22) - Meeting with co-supervisors re: PhD!
  • Week 17 (ending Apr 29) - Bren's spending spree: New big-screen telly, etc!
  • Week 18 (ending May 6) - Lost in Space marathon, dinner @ Roxby's with Bren!
  • Week 19 (ending May 13) - Salvation marathon with Bren!
  • Week 20 (ending May 20) - Completed Edge score edits. Westworld marathon. Be More Chill!
  • Week 21 (ending May 27) - The Edge bumps in at The Blue Room!!
  • Week 22 (ending June 3) - Opening night and run of The Edge!!
  • Week 23 (ending June 10) - Tale of Tales @ Blue Room, and more Edge!
  • Week 24 (ending June 17) - Final week of performances of The Edge!
  • Week 25 (ending June 24) - Bernie visits! Plus, Scotty's birthday!
  • Week 26 (ending July 1) - New antidepressants...
  • Week 27 (ending July 8) - Decided to quit the PhD!!! (note: It, um, hasn't stuck.)
  • Week 28 (ending July 15) - Baking cookies with Beatty, Carol and Bernie!
  • Week 29 (ending July 22) - Trial & Error returns! Hahaha!
  • Week 30 (ending July 29) - Dinner with Aleesha and Joey!
  • Week 31 (ending Aug 5) - Dentist visit. Yes, it's a good thing.
  • Week 32 (ending Aug 12) - Mexican food with Scotty and Carol!
  • Week 33 (ending Aug 19) - Refiguring the PhD with Melissa!
  • Week 34 (ending Aug 26) - Steamboat at Bernie's; The Patriot with Bren.
  • Week 35 (ending Sept 2) - Long overdue catchups with Justin and Claire. Hanging with Bren and his bro! Michael Lavine comes to town! WAAPA visits!!!
  • Week 36 (ending Sept 9) - More quality time with Michael. Best Bits at WAAPA!
  • Week 37 (ending Sept 16) - Crazy Rich Asians. The Facebook post. Housesitting Horace!
  • Week 38 (ending Sept 23) - The Royal Show with Scotty and Carol. Delicious Fingers with Bren.
  • Week 39 (ending Sept 30) - Lapa with Levon!
  • Week 40 (ending Oct 7) - 99% of Dames & Dimes done. Dinner at Clancy's with Bren.
  • Week 41 (ending Oct 14) - Movie marathons across the week!
  • Week 42 (ending Oct 21) - Bren's birthday!!!
  • Week 43 (ending Oct 28) - Lucky Chan's with Joey & Aleesha. Lunch at Bernie's.
  • Week 44 (ending Nov 4) - Surprise bubble tea thanks to Nina and Sarah. Surprise Dunkin' Donuts thanks to Levon and Lola. WAAPA showcase at Rosemount.
  • Week 45 (ending Nov 11) - 2 year housemate-aversary with Bren! Surprise cinnamon rolls by Cheryl and May. Meeting with Alexa!
  • Week 46 (ending Nov 18) - Productive PhD meeting. Christmas markets with Carol and Scotty.
  • Week 47 (ending Nov 25) - Finished bulk of scoring work for Dames & Dimes!!
  • Week 48 (ending Dec 2) - Lunch with Bernie at Carousel! Christmas decorating and dinner with Justin and Claire! Long overdue catch-up lunch with Liam!
  • Week 49 (ending Dec 9) - BACK HOME!! The Edge Malaysia, OPENING NIGHT!!
  • Week 50 (ending Dec 16) - Awesome Edge article. More Edge shows!! Long overdue catchup with Colin!
  • Week 51 (ending Dec 23) - 100 movies, LOL!!
  • Week 52 (ending Dec 30) - CHRISTMAS! Catchups with Little Jo and The Nut Graphers! The Edge cast party!!!

And that wraps up the year!! I'll aim to keep Highlights of the Week active in the New Year (and perhaps have that jar of notes actually happening, lol!). Till then... wishing everyone a very, very happy, healthy and safe New Year's ahead... may 2019 be a rockin' one!!!

New Year's Eve III: The Movie List

Those of you who know me well would also know I've never been much of a movie person. I'm not sure why that has been so; perhaps it's some sort of attention-related thing where I can't sit still for 1.5 to 2 hours, especially if I'm at home. Or if I'm sitting still, my mind tends to wander. Movies in the cinema were a more regular thing than movies in the living room, that's for sure.

That is, until this year, when Plant Lover Housemate and I moved in to our new place and he bought the big-screen telly (right), and we started watching movies at home as a regular thing. Suddenly my affinity for films was stoked, and this year itself, between April and today, I've watched a total of 108 movies (as of time of writing, and this excludes any titles I might have inadvertently forgotten to take note of!)... old, not-so-old, new and not-so-new; many first-watches and several repeats; cinematic releases as well as Netflix winners and duds. I've probably watched more flicks this year than I have in the past decade, no joke, LOL!!

Part of why I began to regain an interest in movie-watching is because I've made it part of my daily goal, especially in Perth as a PhD researcher. The movie (or telly show, depending on my mood) is my incentive at the end of a long day's work. So I tell myself: "If you get up early, spend the day doing research and daily PhD-related objectives, get some exercise in and do whatever else needs to be done, the movie is your reward." To a certain extent it's helped me be more productive, and I'm hoping to keep this trend going as we enter 2019.

So here's the list, as it stands on this New Year's Eve, of movies I've enjoyed/tolerated/loathed this year, in more or less chronological order from most recent to least. Plus, as a bonus, you can click on the titles to find out more info if you're interested in 'em!

Mary Poppins ReturnsSpotlightSmallfootBumblebeeBird BoxThe Happytime Murders • Idiocracy (groan) • Child's Play (1988) • Get Out (movie #100!) • Goosebumps 2AquamanSkyscraperSpiderman: Into the SpiderVerse •  The House with a Clock in its WallsRalph Breaks The InternetThe Secret Life of PetsThe Christmas ChroniclesThe PossessionThe NunHalloween (2018) • The ConjuringThe Conjuring 2HushIt FollowsPoltergeist (1982) • Insidious 2Sinister IISinisterInsidiousThe Grand Budapest HotelThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (extended) • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingThe Gift Green RoomSearchingDonnie DarkoNon-StopOctober SkyEnemyIndependence Day Forrest GumpSolo (yawn) • Nocturnal Animals22 JulySilver Linings Playbook • LifeThe Day After Tomorrow127 HoursDream HouseBrain on FireGame Over, Man!ElysiumMalevolent • ShutterTedManchester by the SeaGone Girl First Man • I Love You, Phillip MorrisMirrorsSource CodeThe DarknessThe TerminalSilenceCrazy Rich AsiansFantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them10 Cloverfield LaneCloverfield ArgoA Ghost StoryGremlinsGremlins 2WinchesterGhost Stories Paddington 2RoomThe Wave3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriUnsaneThe Killing of a Sacred DeeriBoyChronicleMuteThe RitualThe Greatest ShowmanTau • Isle of Dogs • Hidden Figures • Incredibles II • The Shape of Water • The Vault • Super 8 • Open House • mother • Hereditary • Dunkirk • Critters • The 6th Day • The Patriot  • What Happened To Monday • Interstellar • The Beyond • A Quiet Place • Black Panther • The Imitation Game  • Pawn Sacrifice • Anon • This Is The End

New Year's Eve II: It's Been An Edgy Year

A huge thank you to everyone, everyone, who made 10 years of The Edge possible! This includes cast, creatives, musicians and everyone else involved, across four different productions (thus far) of the show. I'm excited to see what comes next!

(While we're on the topic, here's a montage of the 'murder board' that the theatrethreesixty team put together to figure out The Edge's non-linear structure, arf arf. Some curiosities on the board, including "lung cancer", "death", "popped his cherry" and "discovered the joys of being a bottom (flexbot)". Oh-kaaaay then...)

New Year's Eve I: Highlights from the Past Month!

Happy New Year's Eve, boys and girls! Haha! I've been back home in PJ for about four weeks now, having returned on 3 Dec, and it's been a good stay. The primary highlight of my trip home was, of course, the 10th anniversary production of The Edge produced by theatrethreesixty, which performed 13 shows and did very, very well. It was a very thrilling, innovative and successful production designed and directed by my dear friend Chris Ling (well done, Chris!), and performed by a stellar cast, including Michael Chen as Jarod. Some of you might remember Michael from his stint in the role ten freakin' years ago, when he was a wee lad! And now he's the precise age of the character, and he did a tremendous job... they all did! Couldn't be more proud! Here are some pics from the show. All pics are by Shi P'ng Chng. Check 'em out!

The wonderful Tria Aziz reprised her award-winning role as Lilly.
Michael Chen as Jarod (and that's me in the background, arf!) 

Christmas this year was a bit of a subdued affair as I came down with a dratted gout attack, grr. So it was pretty meh, overall. But I'm happy to report that I'm better now, even though plans for the New Year are virtually nonexistent, arf. But that's okay. With just one more week to go before I return to Perth, I'm relishing some quiet time at home. And I've been spending the past few days doing further research in preparation for my return to PhD-hood. In addition, the past few days have seen me doing some social catch-ups with dear friends from near and far-ish. For instance, today (Sunday) and last Thursday I hung out with Little Jo from Singypoo, which is always awesome. Here's a pic of us!

On Friday, there was a historic (arf) reunion of staff from The Nut Graph days! Wow!

And on Boxing Day the cast and crew of The Edge got together for a post-show celebration:

The rest of my trip has been spent, of course, hanging out with the dear doggies!!! 

Giving me a hug!!!
....And I give her a kiss! 
Kisses from Kerbie too!
A tremendously sassy Ash!!
That's all for now! I'll leave you with one final photo of The Edge family, and I'll be back later today (New Year's Eve) for a couple more posts, I promise, heh. Till then!

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Scrapped, More Edging and Other Flashbacks

Hey all! Another of my monthly (by-monthly?) updates. What's new? Well, as of this coming Monday (3rd Dec ... how on earth is it December already?!) I'll be heading back home to Malaysia for a month-long break. Yup, apparently despite all the odds I'm still pursuing this PhD thing and will be back next year. From this point forth it's pretty much going to be a step-by-step, month-by-month thing, where at any point I might decide I don't want to keep going and just throw in the towel. It's just the way it's going to have to be.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to heading back and having a good rest. Meanwhile, I'm finishing tying up some loose ends here for the year, including... well, I had to get rid of my car. Basically a couple of nights ago, while I was driving home, the engine died abruptly and the car was left stalled in the middle of the highway nearby. Fortunately I wasn't far from home, so I managed to push the car onto the side of the road, and a kind stranger who saw me came running up to lend a hand.

The next day, my mate L decided to check out the car, and, failing to diagnose the problem with his limited mechanic skills, I had to fork out $300 to join the RAC so as to get some roadside assistance. Long story short, they towed the car to a workshop, determined it would cost quite a bit to get it fixed (in which case, it was more worthwhile for me to scrap it and deal with finding a new used car next year), and then charged me a further $170 to have it towed back to my house in Myaree. $470 — or in access of RM1,500 — to get a broken-down car moved from one spot to another without any repair. How about that!

As of 20 mins ago, a car scrapper came by to pick up the remains of my Peugeot and paid me $200 for the prospective spare parts. And that was the end of it. Byebye, car. You served me relatively well for two-odd years, and considering I paid $1,000 for it in 2016, I suppose it was an investment well-spent. As for the future of my vehicular needs, let's see what happens when we get back from holidays. It's 2019 Nick's problem, arf.

What else? It's just been a month or so of finishing up the music for my new project, Dames & Dimes, which was commissioned by Cempaka Schools and will make its World Premiere sometime early next year. So a lot of my time has been spent finishing up the composing and scoring work for it. As of this week, I'm glad to report all the work has been done, so that's one more completed project under my belt! In the meantime, rehearsals and production work has been underway for the upcoming Malaysian re-staging of The Edge by theatrethreesixty. I'm very, very excited for this production, especially since it celebrates 10 years since Chris Ling designed and directed the 2008 workshop staging, and he's also the man behind this new production!! Whoo-hooo!!

Speaking of The Edge, I submitted it for a Broadway producer's "Pitch Book", and now it's been featured in the line-up of new musicals that producers could potentially look into staging. How exciting! Fingers crossed someone will be interested... ;)

Click on it for bigger view!

Another noteworthy moment since my last post: Oct 20, celebrated my housemate's birthday and presented him with a fun personalised children's book as well as a photo book of him and his 15-year-old puppy Digby, which he (my housemate) absolutely loved!

And other highlights: hanging out with Carol, Scotty, Bernie and Mikey at the Christmas markets in the city; lunch with my mate Liam yesterday, which was a treat as he's usually so busy; receiving complimentary cinnamon rolls from Spirals Cinnamon, a bakery in Mt Hawthorne, courtesy of my friend Cheryl in KL whose aunt owns the Perth-based bakery with its yummy goods (side note: that was in response to a particularly bad mood week that resulted in me publicly asking, on FB, people to visit me at my house address. I ended up receiving a box of Krispy Kremes from Levon and Alissa; a visit by Sarah and Nina with their pup Shiro, which led to dinner at their place and awesome catch-ups with our mutual friend JT; and, of course, Cheryl's delivery of the comforting cinnamon rolls). And, I suppose, importantly, ticking the boxes for me to return to Perth next year to toil away on the doctorate. Whoo-hoo.

Well, I guess that's all for now! I'll aim to update further when I'm back home, but don't hold me to that, LOL. Till then... see ya!