Sunday 6 April 2014, 6.00am HKT
Originally 05 APR 2014, 11.56am local time, 24°C (75°F), sunny
HERE are two more movies that I’ve watched during this week.
No, I’m not making a regular habit of this. And this isn’t a movie review of two movies (one classic and the other a modern one) with my “conceptually unique” take on them.
To Have and Have Not (1944)
Warner Bros., black & white, 1 hour 40 mins
The plot seems to me:
A street-smart skipper-for-hire who’s old enough to know better on the inconsequential island of Martinique becomes romantically involved with a beautiful drifter. The drifter cleverly manoeuvres him into helping the pointlessly patriotic French Resistance by smuggling clumsy Resistance operatives with overly nice etiquette into Martinique after the fall of France in 1940. The lazy, overweight Vichy French turncoats who administrate the island are nastier than the Nazis, who are nowhere to be seen.
The whole point of the movie:
All things good and bad happen all the bloody hell at once at the least opportune moment. Those you depend on have the nasty tendency of being clumsy, ugly or stupid (or all three). If you’re about to do something mildly complicated or dangerous (preferably not both), do one thing at a time — not all of them at the same time. Have an escape plan if and when things go horribly wrong. When in doubt, know your way out. Beauty may be before the swine, but the swine makes for better chow.
Other than the title, the movie has little if any resemblance to the Hemingway novel.
My private name for it: “Stop Screwing Around With So Many Things”
(Image above via Wikipedia)
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
20th Century Fox, colour, 1 hour 39 mins
The plot seems to me:
Superstar magazine editor creates strife-ridden work environment with her rude, supercilious, demand-all-that’s-demandable attitude. One particular underling who’s not in the traditional mould of the magazine’s dog-eat-dog culture comes out unscathed, didn’t sell out, and all the more wiser (even after going on a company junket to Paris Fashion Week). Meanwhile, the underling’s boyfriend is pissed off — and who the hell wouldn’t? The girl gets to wear all the brand names FREE at work, and she didn’t even bring home a nice belt for him. Bitch.
The whole point of the movie:
Srsly, DRESS FOR THE JOB YOU WANT, not the job you have. Your highflying paper credentials generally means dick if you can’t even dress ‘proper.’ (I’ve been telling people this for years.) Do what your job actually requires, not what the job specs say. Think conceptually about work, not regard it as a set of procedures to obey or live through. There is no such thing as ‘job duties,’ only duty to the job. Job security is fiction anyway, therefore offer job loyalty. Life is too short to work in anything that you don’t like or cannot do for more than a few months. Backstabbing IS the farkin’ workplace, so wise up, bitch. You don’t have to be slim or a Size 0–2; you just need to be fit and tummyless. If you’re going to sell out, sell out in some semblance of style, please. As your professional life improves, your private life deteriorates. “Let me know when your life goes up in smoke,” you three-fifths of a human being.
It’s like a septic tank — the big and worst bit always float to the top. And if you don’t sell out after going to Paris on ANY KIND OF company business, you’re in the wrong business or living on the wrong planet.
Not one of my favourite films. It would be a far more interesting (and less stuck-up) movie if the studios made one about my former boss, Jacqueline Bouvier (a.k.a. Jackie Kennedy Onassis), who was once an editor. (Bet you lot didn’t know that…)
My private name for it: “I Exchanged My Life for Shoes, Belts, Etc”
(Image above via Wikipedia)
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2014. (B14102)
Monday 27 January 2014, 12.51pm HKT
11.30am local time, 20°C (68°F), warm and humid
THERE are many things I’m not terribly fond of about my hometown, but most of the time I keep my own opinions to myself because it’s not the done thing to bitch about them in the open.
But sometimes I’m faced with such insultingly insane work specifications (and/or insanely insulting attitude of the customer himself) that I’d rather burn my bridges on the spot even before I get to my bridges.
Such as yesterday morning’s drama with a prospective customer. In the end, it came to this:—
Me: “What exactly am I being called to do here? It’s not cool in the eyes of others to work like that. You’re looking for some general dogsbody to carry your workload, and I’m not it. That hopefully will short-circuit the inevitable ‘like-it-or-lump-it’ discussion.“
B(w)anker (pausing): “Then we can’t use you.”
Me: “Thank you. I’m glad that you can see it from my position.”
(image via c4c)
Sometimes you’ve got to fight fire with fire.
Fire works well enough for the normal run of assholes. Against industrial-strength assholes, napalm is the only answer. Ergo, my ‘short-circuit’ phraseology.
Somebody friendly took me aside and asked that I try to change this personage’s mind somehow.
Goddamit, I don’t want to change his mind! I can’t use or work with a man who NEEDS convincing or persuading — he might just change his mind once too often.
I don’t want to change MY mind either — not after the crap and the airs that he’s been giving everyone once too often.
Uh-oh, here’s comes the digression, like in every one of his post
One of the top things I hate and detest about Hong Kong has always been the way it gets things done.
Don’t get me wrong — The Hong Kong Way gets results, no question about that. It’s just that I don’t like how it gets results. It’s uncool and, not to put too fine a point on things, insulting more than a little once in a while for those at the receiving end.
Now if a place could be sung as a song — for instance, a pop song that could represent the national identity, the cultural psyche — then it’s something that reflects the people and society of that place.
Many songs do exactly that.
There being nothing else to say, that should lead in nicely to my next post, which is about the signature tunes of this ex-British/now-Chinese ring-a-ding-ling colony of Hong Kong.
Be here or be queer for that story.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2014. (B14037)
Tuesday 27 August 2013, 12.26am HKT
(image via AllVoices)
I actually have a checklist for behaving like an ungrateful rat deserting a sinking ship in broad daylight.
(This should be relevant if you’ve read yesterday’s post: “Too comfy in your job lately?”)
When your company is in a scandal (regardless of seriousness).
Quit early before the news hits the decks
… and drag your name down along with it.
The official requirement of a scandal is a SCAPEGOAT. Let that not be you, even remotely. If YOU yourself is involved in a scandal, then leave even quicker. Be nice, don’t sacrifice others when you depart — leave something for the company for scapegoating.
The moment your employers look like they’re going to belly up.
Kind of obvious, no?
Trust me, you don’t want to delay this. The law firm of Sue, Runn and Grabbit recommends you run while there’s still cash in the till…
If you’re not ‘being challenged’ enough in your present position.
That’s assuming you’re not ‘challenged’ yourself. If you are, then you might rethink this.
If or when you’re learning nothing new, or
if there’s nothing new to learn.
Your job is likely to be replaceable by a robot anyway in a few years’ time.
Not suggesting that your place of employment should be treated like a school or a place for learning things, but if nothing new’s happening, then your job could easily be automated anyway. Witness the automated ‘customer checkout’ tills (cashier points) in American supermarkets in recent times.
If upper management is into the Mushroom Theory of Management.
“They keep you in the dark, feed you shit, and then pick on you.”
If and when the supervisor or manager starts
keeping you out of the loop.
It’s also a sign that they’re planning to get a scapegoat (you) for something.
Why else would they do it, if not that?
If the work actually makes you ill.
It’s not that your well-being is important (it is). It’s more because that which can make you ill typically isn’t covered by your company’s health-and-safety insurance or your own medical insurance. Witness the workers in fossil-fuel power stations vs. nuclear power plants: the ‘fossils’ typically get nothing.
When you’re no longer passionate about the work you do.
That assumes you’re not a swellhead to begin with.
If you are, you need to unstick your head out of your bum and
take some kind of antidote to your own self-importance.
If your CV says you’re ‘passionate’ about something that you were hired on, then you’d better ditch the place when you’re sick and tired of the fuggin’ work and the fuggin’ people. You shouldn’t let the company use this ‘passion’ excuse on you first.
When there’s no room for advancement, if there’s no pay raise.
What’s the point, right?
If the company is changing the original goals
that you were hired to help achieve.
(Or ‘has changed,’ as the case may be.)
If not the goals, then the job specifications that you were originally hired to do.
Broadly speaking for any job, the work responsibilities and the job title rise up but the pay sinks down. That’s just not acceptable in the least. Seriously, if you’ve joined a company that does this to you, then it’s probably trying to shaft you with something un-get-outtable (like making YOU out as defrauding THEIR customers). Get my point, old son?
“Alpha Mike Foxtrot” *
Because you got a better job elsewhere.
* AMF = “Adios, motherf@cker(s)!”
Preferably AFTER the new employer has hired you for your passion, integrity, etc, in your chosen field, on the job specs stated, for the remuneration package promised.
And then the bloody cycle begins again!
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2013. (B13278)
Sunday 13 January 2013, 4.44am HKT
1.14am local time, 17°C (62.6°F), fine
ALL RIGHT, here’s the deal with my recent invisibility.
Abominable abdominal pains
I started getting abominable abdominal pains (bit of a tongue twister that) for most of the past week. Onset was sudden and out of the blue.
The local favourite doctors at the local favourite
slaughterhouse hospital have no idea (yet) of what’s wrong.
(I’ve no idea what’s wrong with THEM either.)
They rather helpfully said “it could be related to” my being rammed senseless by that random woman back in early November.
Snowed under, but no chicken dinner
The time every year usually between December and the Chinese New Year is the heaviest printing season for me. Clients want THEIR time off, which means we DON’T get ours. It’s been straight 100-hour workweeks for me lately.
The problem isn’t so much the workload — that’s just the nature of the job. It’s the client-generated fracas and faffing around by inexperienced clients working to overtight timetables.
Most of my clients are in the banking sector and most habitually work on New York time (as I do too). Trouble is, we’re here in this ex-British/now-Chinese colony of Hong Kong — 12 hours ahead of NYC.
Enraptured in money-whoring, the clients have forgotten there’s that load of holidays inconveniently named Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year.
Clients sit around, getting all worked up, and wondering why government regulatory departments are closed and officials can’t be gotten hold of. This happens year in, year out.
Chinese New Year this year is the Year of the Black Snake. Three days of celebrations on 10–13 February 2013.
Yes, folks, it’s gonna be another snake-oil salesman kind of year — fiscal cliff, QE3, the $1 trillion coin, and sundry other shameless, effortless lying from all quarters.
For those of you still living in yesterday (12 Jan), today is HAL 9000’s birthday.
Fictionally speaking, HAL was activated on 12 Jan 1992 at the HAL Laboratories in Urbana, Illinois, as production number 3. Its creator was a native from Kerala state in India by the name of Dr Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai — you can see why it had to be abbreviated to Dr Chandra.
HAL was disconnected sometime in 2001 by mission commander Dave Bowman on board the USS Discovery One (XD-1) during its journey to Jupiter. HAL was believed destroyed in 2010 in the vicinity of planet Jupiter.
HAL has a terrestrial twin called SAL 9000, characterised as being ‘female’ but with the same hardware as HAL (except SAL has a blue ‘eye’ instead of red).
Same hardware, different gender — must be pretty effed-up inside, if you ask me.
Interestingly, HAL’s name in French is CARL (Cerveau Analytique de Recherche et de Liaison: Analytic Brain for Research and Communication). Had HAL been Italian, the name might’ve turned out to be CARCO (Cervello Analitica per la Ricerca e la Comunicazione) — which in Italian means ‘burden.’
HAL is listed as the 13th-greatest film villain in a 2003 survey by the American Film Institute.
Updates to static pages
Yes, my dear readers, yours truly is so shameless in vanity that the following pages have been updated with new and improved self-faggotry:—
About is now revised with ultra-carefully inserted typos to better reflect the blog’s current mission.
About me now contains new material from the original idiot-style interview — they’re marked as such, but you’ll have to look for them yourself.
About me (facts) a.k.a. Random facts about me have a couple of new items added, fished out from the deepest recesses of my non-existent loopy mind.
Official colour for 2013
Pantone Color Institute, the authority on colour, picked Emerald as the official colour of the new year after conducting a poll and research.
It describes Emerald as a “lively, radiant and lush green.”
“Green is the most abundant hue in nature — the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum. It’s also the color of growth, renewal, and prosperity — no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity.”
— Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone (via CBS Dallas/Fort Worth)
Incidentally, all the headings and that quote above are in the year’s house colour.
The values are:—
- RGB: R=0, G=155, B=119
- CMYK: C=99, M=0, Y=99, K=0
- Hex (HTML value): #009B77
The nearest matching WordPress colour is sea-green. Trust me, it’s close enough — I’m in the printing business.
Last year, Pantone selected Tangerine Tango (“a spirited reddish orange”) as the official colour of 2012.
Interestingly, old English tradition has it that this colour (Emerald) is the colour of jealousy (as in the phrase ‘green with jealousy’).
And the same tradition holds sea green to mean cold viciousness — as like Maximilien de Robespierre (1758–94), the lawyer and lead instigator of the French Revolution.
Yer pays yer money, yer picks yer goods…
chicken fish dinner
Here’s what I’m having for ultra-late-night snack — fried salmon skin à la japonais.
They’re lots tastier and crunchier than it looks
161 grammes (5½ oz), HK$22.40 (US$2.90 or £1.80)
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2013. (B13013)
Friday 30 November 2012, 5.09pm HKT
12.51am local time
WE’VE SEEN a sudden drop in temperature these couple of days in Hong Kong (plus a sudden rise today). That got a friend and I ruminating about how people handle weather changes that in turn led to another thought about the old, the sick and the homeless.
Weather-wise, I’ve grown up or lived in some really interesting countries before, so I’m highly aware of how people react to weather changes.
Yeah, I wrote about the old, the ignored and the homeless suffering through cold spells several times before [such as this post]. The saddest part (and angriest for me) isn’t a lack of facilities from the government — that’s another story for another day.
What kicked off the other thought between my friend and I is that the UK and Hong Kong have nearly the same ‘direction’ of temperature change. Obviously the two places have different temperature ranges. Like Hong Kong, water surrounds the UK on all sides, so temperatures keep bobbing up and down all the time. The UK hardly stays cold longer than 14–21 days. Hong Kong usually doesn’t stay cold longer than seven days. People in both places fall ill all the time, which is one reason why the UK invented free universal healthcare (the National Health Service, or NHS). Hong Kong still hasn’t got that yet because the government is afraid to spend money. Yet the truth is, Hong Kong did have near-universal healthcare once.
That got my friend, Lily C., to say this:—
I THINK the healthcare system in Hong Kong is not bad overall. But the HKSAR government needs to ensure the quality of our nurses and doctors [can cut the ice]. For this, I have a story to share.
An old relative of mine has been in hospital four times these past few years. The first three times have been for heart problems. The most recent was for pneumonia.
Every time I visited her in hospital, I got to see a lot about our doctors and nurses. I got to see as well the suffering, sorrow and despair on the faces of patients, many whose bodies have various tubes sticking out of them — the very picture of helplessness of an individual hanging on to dear life.
Hospitals are sad places. From what I’ve seen, I’ve come to some conclusions.
Our doctors are missing the point of their calling
Because of the pressure and expectations put on our public hospitals, many of our more experienced doctors in their 40s and 50s have left to start their own clinics in the private sector. Those that remain in public hospitals are mostly fresh graduates with little or no working experience. Absent the role models of the more experienced doctors, many of the fresh doctors are mindful about earning money more than about the philosophy underpinning their vocation. That earnings-oriented attitude in turn tends to cause fresh doctors to suspend their awareness of the needs and wants of patients and their families.
In my relative’s case, one doctor was always pushing for heart surgery. My relative refused point blank out of natural fear, which is understandable. The rest of us also rejected the idea too, seeing that surgery on the balance of probability might possibly be quite dangerous for a 70-something person with a weak heart.
When we tried to ask about our relative’s general medical status, the doctor turned away and brushed us off. It’s hospital policy, the doctor told us in chilling terms, that he will disclose no medical details to any of us (regardless of our status as family members) now that our relative — his patient — wasn’t agreeing to surgery. If (and only if) our relative agreed to have surgery could he tell us more — excusing his response on some moral conscientiousness of being a doctor!
Nurses: patients’ predicaments left by the wayside
Then there’s the way our nurses apparently treat patients in general.
Nurses here come in two colours: those decked out in all-white uniforms, and those in dark-blue tops and white slacks. Also coming in two are their varieties and never the twain shall they meet: the friendly, amicable type vs. the apathetic, callous type with a noticeable propensity to ignore the predicaments and sensitivities of patients in their care.
In truth, some of the nurses I’ve seen are wholly lacking in adroitness even from a layperson’s standpoint.
In the case of my ageing relative the last time she was in hospital, she first contracted the flu, which then turned into pneumonia. Because of that, she needed daily flu shots to boost her immune system. In nearly every single instance, my relative came away with a red, swollen, bleeding wound because of how the shots were administered. For a 70-something year old, that’s quite an ordeal.
Clumsiness is curable through practice and experience; callousness is not.
Indeed, I was in near-fury at the sight of one nurse feeding an old woman in my relative’s ward. That old woman had trouble chewing food and feeding herself generally, so she got served congee [porridge] for breakfast but then just milk for lunch and supper. On the day I was there, a nurse had to feed the old lady by the spoonful.
Feeding by the spoonful wasn’t the problem. It was the lightning pace of it all that infuriated me.
Scarcely had that old lady downed one spoonful then the next one was shoved in her face.
Predictably, the old lady coughed and choked, and nearly vomited over herself. It was a terrible sight to see anyone being treated like that.
Here’s what I had learnt from those and other sights and experiences of mine at hospitals.
Lesson One: We have to stay fit and healthy at all times. Be conscious about what makes our diet, such as reducing fat intake, cholesterol and stuff like that.
Lesson Two: Treasure your time in the here and now, and live every day as happily as you can humanly manage.
Lesson Three: The Hong Kong healthcare system needs serious improvement, not just in the quality and qualifications of the personnel, but improvement in the whole ambit of whys and wherefores of providing care for the sick and incapacitated. I think the road is longer than how our hospital authorities think they see it.
Lily C. is a university graduate in Hong Kong with a major in English.
* * *
Please leave a comment for my friend Lily to make her day.— Editor
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12432)
Sunday 28 October 2012, 4.47am HKT
AND NOW for something completely different (again).
We are once again graced with another exclusive feature by Ophelia Kwong, a British- and American-trained artist now based in Hong Kong. She has very kindly taken up some of the slack in writing for The Naked Listener while he wilfully neglects this duty and panders to the whims of his professional clients by attending wild wining and dining parties all night.
* * *
A personal thank-you to readers: After my first more intense and emotional guest entry, I should move on to something a little ‘lighter.’ What I realize about writing for this blog is that I’m not really that accustomed to writing in a way bloggers [usually] write, if that makes any sense. Mainly because I’m very much used to writing a blog/diary just for myself and not directed towards an ‘audience.’ So please forgive me for being a virgin write-for-an-audience blogger. Thank you all for reading this if you are reading it. I really appreciate it.
(Worth her weight in gold to dive into the deep end to write for us. — Editor)
ANYWAY, to get to the point, today I would like to introduce the different periods of my work thus far in my life as a professional artist.
Picasso had his ‘blue’ period — I have mine: ‘blue-green’ period, peach period and mushroom period
Actually I started talking about my work in different ‘periods’ because it was a bit of a joke between me and a friend. Might have gone through an ‘egg period’ as well — it didn’t last long — even though I think I created one of my most original work during that time.
Find a fruit. ‘Play’ with it, discover all its possibilities. Cut it up, take out the seeds, make it into an artwork.
The first thing that came to my mind was a peach. I’ve always been attracted to the peach, its smell, its form — and how in many ways I felt it resembled me: having grown up overseas, I didn’t have the skinny frame that most Hong Kong locals have. The peach, in its roundness, made me smile and appreciate my own ‘form’ more. Its delicate skin is something I relate to.
And so started my ‘peach’ period at the Hong Kong Arts School under the tutelage of my mentor, Gukzik Lau.
Taking influences from Georgia O’Keeffe‘s flowers, I painted a series of closeups of the softness and sensuousness of the peach. They were like intimate self-portraits. When the eye comes very close to something, I realize there is a simultaneous sense of suffocation and drama as the creation is being wrought. To me, the feeling is like finding the essence of humanity in and through nature.
This period came was the most depressed time in my life. I had just lost Dad and I felt the need to create work that uplifts the spirit — something that somehow could give myself some hope that my ‘peach’ period wasn’t able to fully give.
A variety of installations marked this ‘period’ of mine — lightboxes and sculptures, all themed around the mushroom.
One of those installations I created and co-exhibited with a friend had been a room filled with paper mushrooms hanging from ‘the sky,’ made in such a way as to give off a dreamy, mystical atmosphere. Took hours to make the 100 mushrooms and stick each of them onto the wall one by laborious one. Thinking back now, I’m not even sure what the concept was behind all those things I had created; they were just me experimenting with form and a minimalist colour palette.
And then my ‘blue-green’ period started.
Also getting inspired was having discovered Dad’s stash of old LPs at a friend’s house in the UK. That vast collection of musical afición of his, now left over to me, represents Dad’s love of art and culture that endures in me since I was very young.
Those LPs — with faces of singers from long, long ago from Hong Kong as well as from Europe and America — looked so oldishly nostalgic, made more so with that layer of dust on them.
I took some of the LPs with me and started to re-create the LP covers. Blue-green colours, warm colours, cold colours, green played off against the red — all to heighten the sense and sensation of nostalgia. It was the right feeling — no, the right way — to go at the time.
From those LPs I took home, I produced 10 works. Somehow, though, all of the faces came out as though something or someone was missing in them. But the LPs got me pondering over how the imagery they contained are a reflection of the desires, the desired and what was considered attractive in those bygone days.
I was shaken and stirred.
A deformed butterfly from Fukushima, with wings born shrunken, looked so sad and tormented in that photo of it that I saw.
And then came The Rabbit With No Ears.
They shook me because, that day, I was working on a commission that had to do with mutations in the butterflies of Fukushima caused by radiation fallout.
How sad. A butterfly with busted wings can’t live properly because there’s nothing for it to camouflage itself and to attract mates.
How sad. A rabbit losing its intensely iconic rabbit ears. Is it still a rabbit with no rabbit ears?
If you were to lose the most important, the most beautiful, part of you, what happens then? What would happen to you?
For every action, there is a reaction. I believe this, and in this.
The Naked Listener writes: Opinions, good or otherwise, are deeply welcomed by Ophelia. Go on, luv, make her day.
Ophelia Kwong is an artist and writer previously in the UK and USA, and now based in Hong Kong. Her works have appeared in many group exhibitions such as White Tube, JCCAC, Culture Club, Mischmasch Gallery, Cattle Depot Artist Village and other exhibitions. She had been a writer for the art magazine “a.m. Post” (Artmap) and a guest writer for “Roundtable.” Currently, she creates commissioned art pieces and works freelance worldwide. Visit her website at Mischmasch.
Text and images © Ophelia Kwong, 2012. All Rights reserved.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12380)