Memoirs

Posts filed under Memoirs

今天“有誰共鳴”的主持是我!

Filed in General, Memoirs, Music, Work, 中文文章

商業電台點歌節目“有誰共鳴”今天的主持是我!今早的節目已過了但你們還可以今晚在9時聽聽。

Games from the Past 從前的遊戲

Filed in General, Memoirs, Work

Back in my early days at TVB, I used to pass some of my waiting time playing with a Game Boy. I've since given the Game Boy itself away to a relative, but still have 21 games, which is weird. 21 games but no Game Boy. Guess it's time to auction them off on eBay.

在TVB的早年等埋位的時候,有時候玩玩我的 Game Boy 過時間。早幾年已經把 Game Boy 機送給親戚。奇怪。有21個遊戲卻沒有機!唯有把它們放在eBay。

21 Game Boy games

Break a Leg Toe!

Filed in General, Health, Life, MemoirsTags: , , , ,

In show business, people wish each other 'break a leg' meaning that they wish success for the person they're talking to. Perhaps, I've unwittingly taken this good luck wish to a whole new level.

A week ago while walking with a few of our kids, I was walking rather lazily and stubbed one of my small toes on a tree root sticking out of the ground. It hurt but I didn't think much of it. After all, who among us has never stubbed their toe? I continued the walk and an hour or so later returned home.

I did what any experienced person would do with an injury. I iced my toes two or three times, ten minutes each time. This flushes the blood out of the injured area carrying debris with it and allows new healthy blood to enter in its place.

Before going to bed that night, I was aware of swelling in my foot and hoped that it would go away after a night's rest.

It didn't, at least, not completely. When I woke up, my toe and foot were still mildly swollen. Since my wife had to visit our family doctor to examine an arm injury, I decided to go with her.

xray of broken toe

The red circles on these two xrays indicate the position of the break just above the head of the fourth phalange (toe bone).

Our doctor looked at my toe and promptly reported that one of the phalanges (i.e., toe bones) was probably cracked. An xray would be needed to confirm it. We went upstairs to another medical clinic and took the xrays. When we returned and showed our doctor, he was noticeably stunned. The phalange was not cracked. It was broken!

I was lucky though. The bone broke and then reconnected itself. I won't need a surgery or a screw to connect the pieces. I'll just need rest and time.

So now I have to keep my walking to a bare minimum for the next four weeks and I have a new walking stick to help keep the weight off my right foot when I'm walking. And I'm not allowed to wear shoes. I can wear my Birkenstock sandals but not closed shoes. I'm not sure how I'm going to work around this when filming my current TVB series but we'll see. For a further four weeks, I'll be able to walk but will have to take care nonetheless.

But I believe that the broken toe has a purpose. My wife and I originally planned to go to Finland or Africa for the last two weeks of December, but that's not going to be possible now. I believe that something important is going to happen in those two weeks that would not be possible if we had left Hong Kong. We'll just have to wait and see.

In the future, I'll try not to be so literal when people bid me 'break a leg'. Oh. Wait a minute. I've already done that. I broke my right thema femur back in 1977 while trying to rescue one of our cats (I think it was Jacob) off the roof of our house.

1977. In the Gympie Memorial Hospital with a broken leg.

Just for you, I've scanned a newspaper photograph taken while I was in the Gympie Memorial Hospital recovering from a broken thema. Cute, don't you think?

For a 750x550 version, click here.

I was in hospital for 11 weeks and enjoyed most of my time there; watching horror movies on TV at night, playing with the nurses including one great male nurse, drawing, painting and more.

I developed a serious crush for the nurse on the right. She was wonderful. A few years after leaving the hospital, I accidentally came upon her again at her home while walking house to house for a Scouts Bob-a-Job fund raiser. That was a happy day and also the last time I saw her. I pray she is well.

In any case, for the time being, just call me Dr House. Believe it or not, Dr House and I have many similarities. We are both injured on the right side and walk with canes with very similar gaits. We both share the name Greg/Gregory. We've both studied medicine, and of course, we're both good looking ;-)

Bob-a-Job. A Scout fund raiser where scouts go from door to door asking to perform any chores available in return for any remuneration the other party was willing to pay. Historically 'bob' was slang for an English shilling. (here is another good read about Bob-a-Job.)

In my days as a scout, the chores I performed included cleaning shoes, mowing lawns, and painting houses, walls, etc.

In some countries, Bob-a-Job is now known as Job Week, and in some countries, it has been cancelled completely because of fears of abuse; people unfairly paying little for difficult chores. The world as we know it continues to degenerate.

Bewitched. Reflections of the past.

Filed in MemoirsTags: , , , , , , , ,

I've been watching episodes from a TV show I watched as a kid, a show called Bewitched with Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. I didn't get to see every show when I was a kid but I enjoyed it anyway, and love it even more now because it's part of my past. That's also part of the reason I enjoyed the Bewitched movie last year with Nicole Kidman who is probably one of the most exceptional actresses I can think of.

Anyway, watching Bewitched lead to two thoughts. First, it's interesting watching the old tv shows because you get to see the society values in place at that time. For example, in Betwitched's time, the women stayed at home and looked after the house. They were expected to keep the place clean and have food on the table when their husbands returned home. They were also active in various committees and charities around town. These days, women have become the power players in many corporations with men taking second place, at least in some of the corporations I know. Overall, men may still have more power positions than women but women now have far more power than ever before. We're almost at the point where the men will stay at home and look after the house and family while the women go to work.

Second thought. In Bewitched, Darren requires that his wife Samantha not use her witchcraft. In today's world, he'd probably get sued for being prejudice. His requirement that she not use her witchcraft and her willingness to accept his demand is also reflective of the men-women roles at the time. Women will expected to be submissive and obedient to their husbands, something that most women today would strongly object to; justly so as far as I'm concerned. Marriage should be a partnership, not a dictatorship.

Other shows that I fondly remember from my childhood include "Mr. Ed" (featuring a talking horse), "I Dream of Jeannie", "F-Troop", "Gilligan's Island" and "My Favourite Martian" (whose Martian actor Ray Walston I still feel affection for).

While looking for links to these shows on the internet, I thought of one more thing. All of these shows ran for several seasons. It's probably the length of the showing that gives us time to bond with the characters and the show. TVB's series never run for long; usually only twenty or thirty episodes. That being that case, there is very little chance for anyone to bond with the characters or any particular show. Am I wrong? Have any of you bonded with any particular actor, actress or TVB show?

沒預料的回報(下集)

Filed in General, Memoirs, Music, Press, 中文文章Tags: , , ,

彈琴伴奏的男人是一個很出色的音樂家。他看五線譜的時候,隨時可以變調,而且全部都很有感覺。他還可以一邊聽著音樂一邊寫下來譜子。無可否認,他真的很棒,只不過荷里活裡有很多這樣出色的音樂家,所以很難找到好的工作,最後只好甚麼工作都做。

當我們上到第八課的時候,這個音樂家沒有出現了。原來他終於找到一份錢和前途都有的工作了,那就是幫一個音樂舞台劇編寫他們需要的所有的歌曲和音樂。我們當然替他高興,但同時也明白我們這個課程剩下的課就不會再有人替我們伴奏了。真可惜。

那天,就是因為沒有這位鋼琴家,我們早了下課。學生們都走了,只剩下我一個人在教室裡。這門課就是我每逢星期五上的最後一課,也是整個星期的最後一課。我沒有功課做,沒有甚麼地方可去,連最熟的同學都有事,不能陪我。回家也不太吸引人,因為我住的地方存在著一種既不舒服又不太受歡迎的氣氛,只好留在教室裡,看看可不可以彈彈我們學生們喜歡唱的歌。

Our classroom, theatrette

The classroom in which Elizabeth's class was conducted was originally a small theatre probably used principally for viewing movies; possibly film clips of Lee Strasberg's lectures recorded before he died. I say this because there's a hole in the wall behind the curtains, a hole through which a projector would have projected the clips. Lee Strasberg's lectures are now shown in a newly renovated theatre called the Monroe Theatre, named after Marilyn Monroe, once a student of Lee Strasberg.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

音樂對我來說是很特別的。無論甚麼地方,甚麼時候,甚麼事情,音樂永遠都會在我身邊,陪著我,安慰我,鼓勵我。除了我的太太之外,音樂就是我一生最重要的,最可靠的朋友。可惜我對音樂的認識太少,幾乎甚麼樂理都不懂,甚至連一種樂器都不會用。

可能這兒就是緣份,在這個特別的情況下讓我有一個機會學到我一生渴求的技術。

坐在鋼琴前,看著一張我不會看的五線譜卻也有為了結他手而寫的和弦,我只好看著那些結他的和弦,慢慢地算出來每個和弦的結構。大調和弦就是用一三五的音,小調和弦就是把第三個音減半個音,就是這樣慢慢地計算出來每個和弦。不知不覺地,我在原本應該下課的時間前已經能彈出其中一首歌。雖然彈得很簡單,有一點兒像彈結他一樣的彈法,但是已經夠了,已經有音樂感。我的夢開始慢慢成真了。

那那天到現在已經有一年了。我不時練習彈琴,盡量使我的彈琴技術一天比一天好。有我的電子琴,有一些音樂書,我隨時都可以一邊彈一邊唱一些我喜歡的歌。不用說,我算不上專業,但是也不能說太差。關於彈琴,當然我還有很多要學的東西。但是已經有了個開始。

上個月,我去了印尼,去我們前家務助理的家並参加她的婚禮。可能因為她家鄉連一個會說英文的人都沒有,而我幾乎沒有辦法跟他家人溝通,我就在那時對印尼話產生了一點興趣。現在已經會說幾個字了,而每天都會跟我們現在的印尼家務助理學一兩個字。學了二十年廣東話,學得那麼辛苦,我沒想到我會再有勇氣敢去學另外一種新的語言。

很多人覺得到了某一個年紀的時候就沒有學新東西的能力了。是不是我這個四十歲的人已經證明這種想法不對的。如果你有甚麼想學的,但因為年紀的問題而不敢嘗試的話,不如馬上就去試試吧。你也可能會得到沒預料的回報。

沒預料的回報(上集)

Filed in General, Memoirs, Music, Press, 中文文章Tags: , , ,

去年,我為了能夠演更好的戲而到荷里活去了三個月。雖然我差不多半生在無線電視台從事演員,但是我依然覺得我的演技還可以好得多。始終,一邊工作一邊學習可以學到的的確有限。只有專業的導師(和一點緣份)才能學到最好的。所以,去年年初,我終於決定上學正式學習演戲。

我在荷里活的時間非常開心,但是因為我很久沒有跟我的太太和狗狗分開那麼長的時間,所以亦有一點想念他們。幸運地,那時候,香港打電話打到美國的費用很便宜讓我每天都可以跟我的太太通兩三次電話,而每星期天還可以到我美國住宿的房子附近的蘋果電腦商店借用他們的電腦和「iChat」軟件跟我的太太通視像電話見面,讓星期天成為我正個星期最開心的一天。

在荷里活上學,我當然學了不少,演技也有一定的進步。但是我也得到非預料的回報,使這個旅程成為我生命中特別重要的一個。

學生們在學校報名的時候需要選擇課文。有些課目就是必上的,而其他的課目就任你選擇。所有的課目都是關於演戲的,除了一個之外。

這個課的老師是一個很精神的八十五歲的名為 Elizabeth Sabine 的女人,恰巧跟我一樣是澳洲人。由於她的年紀不少,所以有時候就會忘記了她剛剛說的話而不知不覺重複說一次,可是她非常可愛的,而我們每個學生都喜歡她。

Elizabeth and Me

Elizabeth was a wonderful person. As far as I know, this was the last class she taught at the Lee Strasberg Institute.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

她教的是唱歌的技術。她曾經在澳洲,英國,美國,甚至香港(還沒有現在的灣仔的時候)都唱過歌,所以對唱歌非常熟悉。學校請她教唱歌的目的卻不是希望學生們能唱好歌,而希望學生們能學怎麼大聲說話。 Elizabeth 的名氣就是來自教人怎麼大大聲聲唱歌,也因為這樣而得到她的花名,就是「The queen of screech」。

一課為三個小時。首四十五分鐘就是鬆身和開聲的練習。十五分鐘休息已後,學生們就一個一個地在班學生們前邊跟一個鋼琴家唱歌,一邊唱一邊聽著 Elizabeth 的指示。

老實說,一般學生選擇課目的時候也都會選擇一兩個不用做那麼多功課的課文,甚至希望可以不上課也有。Elizabeth 的課就是這種課,所以很多學生就會當她的課是一種娛樂,一堂 karaoke,不用學甚麼東西,不用主意老師的指示,不用為了下次上課而作準備。Elizabeth 都知道這一點所以每次遇到努力的學生,她就會特別用心去教那個學生。

Elizabeth coaching one of my fellow students

Elizabeth would coach each of the students as they sung their chosen songs.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

Song: The Nearness of You

Filed in Memoirs, Music, Music: My SongsTags: ,

My next am730 article is just about finished. Part 1 was published a week ago and Part 2 should be published next week. I'll post the full article here after am730 has published it.

This am730 article mentions a teacher I had the fortune to meet while studying at The Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles last year. Her name was Elizabeth and we had a wonderful time together. One of the songs I sang during class that she particularly liked was "The Nearness of You", a wonderful song published way back in 1937. I'm going to record some of my songs and post them here on the blog and I thought this song would be a good start.

This song was recorded in September of 2004, just after returning from Los Angeles. Both the piano and voice are mine. With only three months of piano in my pocket, it was the beginning of a new life in music for me.

I hope you like it.

The Nearness of You as sung by Gregory Charles Rivers, September 2004.

I had a dream

Filed in Memoirs

I had a dream this morning. I can't remember all of the details. Dreams are strange in nature, adding bits and pieces of our lives into a montage that we call a dream.

I was in a man's home. It wasn't an expensive home. It was relatively old with lots of wooden furniture, the type that you can move around, not the built-in wardrobe type. It was open with windows all around; windows with wooden frames. I seem to remember ceiling fans.

At one side of the flat, I was able to through the window see strange things that looked like trees except that they were huge hanging mobiles planted in the ground; very artistic and very typical of the man's nature. A few seconds later, the mobiles disappeared and there were instead tables spread out in a 'U' shape, tables big enough to seat 12 people each. It was a restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, with fanned paper napkins, pink actually. There was a 鬼佬 sitting at one of the tables and a waiter serving him. I suddenly remembered the restaurant that I'd seen downstairs. It was the same restaurant although if the dream was reality, it wouldn't be possible; for the restaurant to be both downstairs and at the back of this man's home somewhere up in a high-rise building.

I turned around and we were sitting down at a table having dinner. The man's wife, 曾華倩, perky and sprite as ever, was there sitting to the left of me. The man's personal assistant and one other person were there too. One talked about computer problems (職業病?) and then the man asked his assistant about a problem he was having with his music composition program. Although the man had retired from professional singing, he was obviously still deeply involved, writing his own music, possibly for others to sing.

I was petrified. This man was one of the greatest. We had known each other although only for a minute far far in the past but he was still a great man. He wasn't my idol but he was still wonderous. I had nothing to say but they didn't seem to notice. While talking about the music composition program, I had the urge to offer my computer help but repressed the urge because more than appreciation for my computer skills, I wanted the man to appreciate me as a friend, if not now then later.

Suddenly, as is common in dreams, I was in the kitchen in front of the dish washing basin. I was washing a cup, at least I thought it was a cup. It turned out to contain dish washing powder used in commercial dish washing machines like the ones I attended while studying at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. I looked over to the right and there was a huge commercial dish washing machine, probably the same size as the one I used at the Baxter College dormitory at the university. Of course, this was the man's home. There shouldn't have been a commercial dish washing machine here but this was a dream. Anything goes.

曾華倩 came in and told me that I didn't have to help with the dishes. Somebody grabbed a couple of bottles of beverage from the fridge and then we were in the adjoining room, like a dining area but not the one where we had dinner. The man was there and I was beginning to calm down and become comfortable around him. He looked great, the way I remember him from our time together in Sydney many years ago. We picked up our brown bottles of beer from the table although my bottle mysteriously became a clear bottle of 7-up or something similar.

We talked a little.

And I woke up.

After playing with our dogs in the garden, I went back to our own kitchen and began making a cup of coffee with our Breville coffee maker. Suddenly, one of the man's songs was in my head and it's still there as I write this prose:

風繼續吹 不忍遠離
心裡極渴望 希望留下伴著你
風繼續吹 不忍遠離
心裡亦有淚 不願流淚望著你

過去多少快樂記憶 何妨與你一起去追
要將憂鬱苦痛洗去 柔情蜜意我願記取
要強忍離情淚 未許它向下垂
愁如鎖 眉頭聚 別離淚始終要下垂

Some men are truly great.