Wednesday 23 November 2016

Quote of the Year

"He who asks is a fool for a moment, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever."

Andre Lim

Sunday 20 November 2016

A John Williams Celebration (2015)

Featuring: Los Angeles Philharmonic and Itzhak Perlman

Location: Walt Disney Concert Hall

Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel

Time: 85 minutes plus 18 minutes worth of bonus content which includes an interview with John Williams.

Price: The Blu-ray is about $35 in total including shipping.

Track listing

Olympic Fanfare and Theme
Three Pieces from Schindler's List (Remembrances; Jewish Town: Krakow Ghetto; Theme) feat. Itzhak Perlman
Cadenza and Variations from Fiddler on the Roof feat. Itzhak Perlman
Escapades from Catch Me If You Can (Closing In; Reflections; Joy Ride) feat Dan Higgins, Glenn Paulson and Michael Valerio
Throne Room and Finale from Star Wars
"Dry your tears, Africa" from Amistad
Excerpt from Jaws
Imperial March from the Empire Strikes Back (Conducted by John Williams)

Short Comments: This DVD features some awesome live video footage of the orchestra doing their thing for each of the above listed tracks. It appears that the footage was taken in or around September 2014. Artwork and storyboards (where applicable) relating to each track are interposed on screen occasionally. This can be annoying, but they don't interrupt the visual footage too much.

I must say at the outset that it's a real shame that some of the more legendary scores like Raiders March or the Jurassic Park Theme are not included in this disc; however the other tracks featured here are solid enough. 

Olympic Fanfare is nice (I recall hearing this from Salt Lake City 2002); Soundings could have been left out, really, in favour of a more well-known theme but is interesting nonetheless. The themes from Schindler's List are moving, as are the variations from Fiddler on the Roof in a different senseApparently the latter was included because it was Williams' first Academy Award.

Catch Me If You Can is another questionable choice, but is still pleasant to listen to.

The best part of the disc definitely starts from Throne Room and Finale from Star Wars onwards. It obviously would have been a cardinal sin to leave Star Wars out.

Dry your tears, Africa is very touching and features a junior choir. I really liked this one.

The excerpt from Jaws is rather brief.

Arguably the best part of the Blu-ray is seeing John Williams himself in action. He is invited by Dudamel to conduct and does so with amazing vigour and spirit - it is incredible stuff.

Score: 7 to 8 out of 10. A good watch but could have been much better had there been more popular tracks included. Still worth buying though, especially for the Star Wars bit. It's arguably on the expensive side though given the lack of content.

Andre Lim

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Australia, wake up!

The Socceroos really need to wake up to themselves.

I hate being negative, but facts are facts: That was Mooy's worst performance last night in a Socceroos jersey, while Kruse and Leckie were quite bad as well. Kruse was flagged offside multiple times. Mooy could not pass.

However the whole team just could not get the basics right. Holding the ball was a problem. Passing was a problem. Everything seemed chaotic and disjointed. They were anything but 'steady'. The only team member who did their job was Mat Ryan.

It doesn't matter if they have 3 home games coming up. If they continue playing like that, they will not qualify for the World Cup. They should have lost to Thailand really, as the second Oz penalty was dubious.

If things continue to go awry, there could well be a playoff match against the USA on the cards come this time next year (given the USA's poor form as well in their confederation).

That said, if you wanted to be positive, you would say that the Socceroos' fate is still in their own hands. There's always time for change...............

Andre Lim

Tuesday 15 November 2016

World Cup Qualifiers: November 2016

So this is obvious, but Australia need to win this game against Thailand in Bangkok. It won't be easy though, the recent passing of their late and well-loved King providing for perhaps an unfamiliar and uneasy environment.

In other matches, I hope the underdog Uzbeks pull off an upset against South Korea in Seoul -- these same Koreans, of course, stopped the Uzbeks from qualifying last time based on Goal Difference.

I also hope Saudi Arabia stun Japan or at least force a draw at Saitama.

Andre Lim

Friday 11 November 2016

"Cannot Teach"

There is a life skill that I am desperate to learn.

The funny thing is that it cannot be learnt.

My dad calls it - and I like this name because it describes the concept perfectly - "Cannot Teach"

I find this phrase hilarious for two reasons.

First, the name already implies defeat. The name is telling you that the problem is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. It cannot be taught.

Second, I have spent my whole childhood growing up hearing this phrase from my dad to the extent that I have seen it applied to all kinds of situations. I don't grow tired of hearing it because it is quite a versatile concept.

So, what exactly is "Cannot Teach"?

I don't want to offer a definition of "Cannot Teach" just yet. I want to give two examples.

1: The overthinking striker

Have you ever watched a match of football ('soccer') and seen a striker one-on-one with the goalkeeper, only for the striker to be stunned by the enormity of the moment?

It's a brain freeze.

He hesitates ever so slightly for that split second -----perhaps he's thinking about how good an opportunity this is, how he will never ever ever get this chance again or how his team desperately needs him to score this goal ------ causing him to lose the opportunity to slot it home past the keeper. When he realises his mistake, it is too late: he has hit it directly into the goalkeeper or hit it out.

2: The hesitant answer

As another example, I am sure we have also come across a situation in a social context where we have seen someone (or we are that person!) being asked a question but they don't know how to respond immediately and succinctly to it, causing them to stumble along searching for the 'right' or 'acceptable' answer while furiously trying to cover up their embarrassment.

This arises because the question being asked is, given the answerer's level of life experience or lack of preparation/exposure, so unexpected that they don't know how to respond. It's the first time they've been asked and they haven't quite manufactured their perfect response yet! (Also think: first time job interviews)

We have all experienced "Cannot Teach"

So you probably already have an idea of what "Cannot Teach" is. Actually I have probably insulted your intelligence. I apologise. The concept is very likely something that you would have known about even before you read this post.

You probably would call it something different too.

Some might call it or link it to the concept of "Street Smarts", "Common sense", "Killer instinct", "Intuition" and a host of other perfectly acceptable names.

My understanding of "Cannot Teach"

If I could describe my understanding of "Cannot Teach", I would say that it is a phrase that, at least in part, pretty much describes that moment when a person is put into a completely new life experience or situation and they are responding for the first time.

It's the first time they have been put in this situation so no one knows how they will respond.

If your response is bad, usually you learn from your mistake (this is how we learn in life).

However some of us, myself included, never learn, either because:

1. We are never exposed to the situation enough;

2. We don't try hard enough to change; or

3. That's just the way we are (this last reason is a bit dangerous though when used as an excuse, but sometimes can be true).

So "Cannot Teach" does not necessarily apply to a first-time situation; indeed it can repeat forever if we keep making the same mistakes.

How do we avoid repeat cases of failing a "Cannot Teach" situation?

This is an ambitious question that cannot be answered.

It's arguably pretty impossible really. For starters you need to know you made a mistake. Not all of us realise when we say or do something wrong. You perhaps need a good friend who is willing to be honest with you - willing to tell you when you stuffed up, in an encouraging way.

And even when we realise it's wrong, we sometimes can't programme ourselves to change.

Continuous exposure to a situation does not necessarily elicit change in us. I mean, back to the sports example above, there are countless strikers in football who keep missing big chances and big moments so much so that it becomes a BAD HABIT.

The same thing applies in real life. If we keep doing the SAME THING in response to a situation, it becomes a BAD HABIT.

We want "Cannot Teach" to produce a positive change in us - we want a GOOD HABIT.
We do not want "Cannot Teach" to become a BAD HABIT, because then it becomes nigh-impossible to defeat.

So in that sense, perhaps continuous exposure to a situation may not be ideal if you know your response will be the same. Perhaps controlled exposure to a situation, with the right intent to change, and the right support group, is required.

I don't know.

It's not like I know what I am doing either. I have plenty of bad habits.

Andre Lim

Sunday 6 November 2016

Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories of Olympic Glory (2000)

It would be an understatement, to say the least, that Bud Greenspan is "quite a good filmmaker" or that he "specialises in Olympic documentaries."

I first discovered Bud doing Salt Lake City.

It is great to see that his standards have not wavered in his 91-minute Favorite Stories of Olympic Glory.

Bud covers 5 fantastic stories:

1) Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10 out of 10s - in a period where superstars Nellie Kim, Tourischiva and others dominated gymnastics, this 14-year old Romanian girl came out of nowhere to own everybody at the 1976 Montreal Games.

2) Aussie Duncan Armstrong's underdog victory in the 200 metre freestyle thanks to the rather insane regime and extreme (to say the least) personality of his coach, Laurie Lawrence. Lawrence's antics, borderline violence and near-clash with the South Korean authorities after his student won gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics is well-documented here. I think this footage is a much watch for any sports fan - I have not seen a more passionate coach.

3) Abebe Bikila's barefoot marathon gold medal at the 1960 Rome Games -- Adidas sponsored the 1960 Games but they didn't have any shoes that fit him so Abebe decided to run barefoot just as he did in training. Bikila was a member of the Ethiopian emperor's palace guard and the first East African to win a gold medal. Bikila discovered shoes shortly after that and, no surprise here, the result was that no one could touch him in the 1964 Tokyo Games as well. This segment of the doco also covers the unfortunate case of a particular Japanese marathon runner, Tsuburaya, who committed suicide after he could no longer run as well as he would have liked due to lumbago. It is thought that the traditional Japanese WWII mentality of 'must not lose face' (in the context of running for his superiors and the Japanese people) coupled with what he perceived to be an embarassing last-minute concession of 2nd place at the 1960 Games, when a British Runner, Heatley, overtook Tsuburaya to consign Tsuburaya to Bronze, caused him to take his life.

4) The pure and raw power of Alexander Karelin of Russia, virtually undefeated in Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling (with 3 Gold Medals) until his first loss at the 2000 Sydney Games.

5) Dan O'Brien overcoming his abject and public failure of not qualifying for the 1992 Olympic decathlon despite being the favourite to take the Gold at Barcelona. O'Brien was even featured in commercial ads that pretty much stated that he was going to win the Gold for the USA. The hype that surrounded him was just plain ridiculous and, one can only imagine, overbearing. During qualification he failed to clear his first bar, as I understand it, in the pole vault. O'Brien actually said something to the effect that his failing to qualify was actually a huge relief -- a burden that had been lifted from his shoulders. However, incredibly, the happy ending is that O'Brien finally qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Games; he certainly did more than that though at those Games, consistently shrugging off the fierce competition across all events, which included overcoming his demons in the pole vault to secure Gold. Winning Gold in the face of such embarrassment and failure is incredibly admirable.

You can probably guess that my favourite story is Abebe's story, although all the stories were very interesting.

I would recommend this DVD to any sports or Olympic fan, but I understand this DVD is promotional only and can't really be purchased - but I did find it on eBay.

9.4 out of 10

Andre Lim