More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hawthorn Premiers 2008

Hawthorn are Premiers of the 2008 AFL footy season. The Hawks definitely were not the best team during the season. Anyone who half followed the season would have seen that Geelong were the most dominate team, having easy wins and only losing one game. However, the youthful Hawks team stood up when it mattered most. While Geelong were making uncharacteristic mistakes and missing many goal opportunities, Hawthorn took all their chances and broke the game apart in the championship third quarter. It was a fairytale ending for the Hawks, winning their first premiership in 17 years. All the tough decisions made by the club to appoint Alastair Clarkson and to recruit young players and mould them has worked out better than they anticipated. With the current team, I think the Hawks will be strong contenders for the Premiership for the next few years.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Taken Out By A Hole In The Wall

It's debatable which show on Australian TV is currently the dumbest show. But I would like to present two leading candidates. Watching these shows could seriously induce a coma. There's more life in road kill than these shows.

So the two shows I nominated are Taken Out and Hole In The Wall. Taken Out is a reality dating game where one guy stands on a platform and is judged by 30 girls. The girls get to see about 2 minutes worth of videos all up about the guy and decide whether he is the "one". Hole in the wall is even simpler. Contestants try to squeeze themselves through a foam cutout wall that is moving towards them while wearing skin tight full length silver suits. If they should happen to not fit through the hole in the wall, they get dumped into a swimming pool filled with ice. Talk about TV being the idiot box.

I have watched at least one episode of these two shows, so I feel I have earnt the right to bag them big time. Which studio exec thinks that these two shows can actually entertain audiences. Taken Out makes Perfect Match look like a love story between Romeo and Juliet, while Hole In The Wall makes It's A Knockout look like The Battle of Gettysburg.

Suffice it to say that I am no fan of these shows. I'm just trying to determine which show is dumber. What show do you think is dumber? Discuss.

From Best Man To No Man

*** All names have been changed. ***

My friend Joshua was telling me a funny story about his friends wedding. Joshua was asked to be best man at his friend's Mike's wedding. He had gone to get fitted for his suit and asked to organise the Buck's party. Mike's fiancee, Renee, had talked to Joshua and told him to organise a really wild Buck's party for Mike initially. Then a few weeks later, she rings Joshua and tells him that the Buck's should be the night before the wedding.

Joshua was starting to get confused. If you have the Buck's before the wedding, you can't really do much and get drunk all night. Finally, Renee asks Joshua to organise something small and not too crazy as she doesn't want the groom to be drunk on the wedding day. So Joshua said that he considered organising a poker night at Crown and then maybe lawn bowls the next day.

One day, out of the blue, Mike rings Joshua and tells him that Renee would rather have no Best man, and that Mike would take care of the Buck's party arrangement himself. In the weeks that follow, Joshua finds out that another person was asked to be Best man, then dropped, then another asked, who refused, and finally, a ring-in during the last week was asked.

What a crazy situation that was. Joshua went from being Best man, to not being in the bridal party, to being asked "So, are you still coming to the wedding". All this and he still doesn't know what he did wrong.

There are theories aplenty. Most of them involve Renee, who seems a bit like a control freak. Upon my only meeting of Renee, I already said that she will have Mike by the balls when they get married. Little would I know how soon it would all show. Mike was apologetic to Joshua at the wedding, but Joshua didn't avoided Renee so doesn't know what she thinks.

This whole series of events was rather strange and funny. What was Renee trying to achieve by first telling Joshua to get Mike drunk and to party hard at the Buck's party, and then telling him not to get Mike drunk and to take it easy. What was Joshua's fatal mistake in all this when dealing with Renee. Was Renee clearly just indecisive, or did she not get the response she wanted when she first told Joshua to organise a crazy Buck's party. Was she using reverse psychology and wanting him to say that he would organise a small party? All is still unknown to today, except the fact that Joshua and Mike's good friendship is now pretty much ruined. And all thanks to a jealous/controlling/vindictive(???) wife?

Wicked - Australian Production

I first heard about Wicked on Ugly Betty. Betty mentioned how she really loved the show over a few episodes and it was a common interest between her and the guy she couldn’t have, Henry. Finally, they got tickets to go watch the musical and end up being in it. At first, I have to say that I thought the story looked a bit strange from the few minutes that I saw on Ugly Betty. I mean, who wants to know more about the Wicked Witch of the West. She used to scare me when I first watched Wizard of Oz as a small child.

Anyway, I decided to give it a go and went and got the Broadway recording of the musical. I thought it was a bit strange at first and really didn’t like it that much. But as I listened to it more and more, it really got me hooked. I was still a bit confused to the whole story, but the songs were good.

When I heard that Wicked was coming to Australia, I thought I should go and see what it’s like. I’m glad I went as it’s a fantastic stage show with humour, romance, action and lots of singing and dancing obviously. Basically, the story centres on the relationship between Elphaba, the Wicked witch, and Glinda, the Good witch. It precedes the Wizard of Oz story. To find out more, read the Wikipedia Wicked article. It explains the story and everything related to it in much more detail than I ever could. I’m going to discuss my experience and thoughts about the show instead.

Let me start with the actors. All of them do a great job and were excellent throughout the show. Most were equal to, or possibly even better than the Broadway cast recording. Amanda Harrision, as Elphaba does a absolutely amazing job playing the role and living up to the high standards set by Idina Menzel from the original version. Menzel did win a Tony for her performance so Harrison had very big pointed shoes to fill. In a couple of numbers where Harrison really hit the high notes as in No Good Deed and especially in Defying Gravity, the crowd was rapturous and applauded with ferocity. Not to be outdone though, Lucy Durack as Galinda, and later Glinda was also outstanding. Durack’s vocals aren’t as strong, but her comedic timing and phrasing was perfect. She had about 90% of all the funny lines in the show, and the lines were very funny. The two leading ladies were definitely the stars of the show. The story centred around them and they definitely delighted. I loved the interaction between them and it is a great pairing.

An all star support cast that includes The Phantom himself, Rob Guest, and Idol contestants in Rob Mills and Anthony Callea also helped to lift the show even further. I was surprised that I wasn’t repulsed by Rob Mills as Fiyero at all. He was actually very good. His voice lacked a bit compared to the Broadway version by Norbert Leo Butz. The highs that Butz’s achieved in numbers like Dancing Through Life and As Long As You’re Mine wasn’t quite reached by Mills. Mills voiced even cracked during one high note in As Long As You’re Mine, but that was a very small problem. His acting was actually good and carried the story along.

Rob Guest was excellent as The Wizard, bringing a sense of kindness and evil. At times I didn’t know whether to sympathise with him for wanting a daughter or hate him for manipulating everyone. Anthony Callea was a funny Boq. Callea’s excellent voice meant that he was probably the only character, vocally anyway, that exceeded the Broadway recording that I had been listening to a lot.

After seeing the live show, the recording now makes complete sense. Having the songs put into context and the story weaved around it, I can now fully appreciate the story. The end is a small surprise, although I did see it coming. I guess it was the ending that everyone would have wanted. But the journey to that ending is rewarding as it is essentially about friendship and true friendship can overcome many obstacles.

I recommend that you go and see it and discover how all the characters in The Wizard of Oz came to be what they are. It gives a new, fresh, nice spin to a well known and loved story.

Motivation Gone Missing?

Well, it's been a month or so since my last post. No, I haven't gone on holidays or been without Internet. I've just been busy and lazy and have not posted. It's strange because I keep saying to people in real life that I should blog about this or that but never get round to it. I'm not sure what the exact reason it.

I think one reason could be post Olympic syndrome. The Olympics was like a drug that I was hooked on (watching day and night since I recorded all the day sessions on my hard drive and watched them at night) the Olympics. I'm recovering from the lack of sleep physically, but also recovering mentally.

The Olympics is the epitome of human sporting endeavour, and with it carries so many feel good, as well as heartbreak stories. We, the viewer are taken on many emotional journeys and I think it takes it out of you a little. I was so impressed by some of the stories and so inspired at the determination of some athletes. This in term made me motivated for the two weeks that the Olympics ran for. However, once it was finished, I felt a little empty. This emotional fuel that I had been running on was gone. It made me reflect on what I am striving to achieve, and it made me feel little. I haven't sacrificed like these people. I haven't done the hard yards. I'm just lazy.

The realisation that I hadn't really pursed my dreams made me demotivated, and hence even more unwilling to do anything. Well, I'm getting over that and life has resumed. But damm those athletes. Their brilliance is addictive and makes us all feel so much inferior. I applaud them for their determination and just wish I had a quarter of what they have. Is there a miracle drug for that?