Farewell, Patch Adams

Patch Adams is the first movie that made me laugh and cry so hard in one sitting, I used up an entire pack of tissues. All 10 pieces, over the story of a doctor who wears a red nose and makes others laugh. The movie’s been panned for being shallow, predictable, sappy… and the list goes on. But this is the show that introduced Robin Williams to me. So thank you.

For hours of belly-aching laughs. For tears. For injecting a warm fuzziness into crazy situations, like when you dressed up as an old woman. Or stepped out of a jungle looking like how Tarzan should (Whenever I watch Disney’s Tarzan, I wonder: how does Tarzan not grow a beard, have chest hair or fuzz in all the right places??) Thank you for bringing these characters to life.

Thank you for drawing on the wells of your emotions: the sadness, loneliness, happy times and more, just to bring the rest of the world laughter. People say that the funniest on stage are also the most contemplative – and sometimes saddest – off-stage.

Rest in peace, the man who played Patch Adams.

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Lazy Chef: Oats and Egg

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Those who already love oats will be flabbergasted at this, but I’ve only liked having oatmeal in cookies and biscuits all my life. Until this. I’d bought oats to try a 2-ingredient cookie recipe and oatmeal lace one, and they are amazing recipes. And the oats came in nothing smaller than 1kg bags.

So well, I needed a way to finish up these oats. And… discovered one by Martha Stewart that was just oats and a fried egg. Perfect for a day I took ill and needed something warming in my tummy quick. I’d usually turn to Chinese-style porridge in times like these, but that would mean 30-45 minutes of simmering – way too long! Martha’s recipe saved me. I cooked up a batch, mixed in salt, coriander seed powder, cinnamon (don’t ask me, it just worked), fried an egg and sprinkled Japanese seasoning all over.

One word: YUMMY. And fully in line with the spirit of the Lazy Chef.

 

Book Review: The Soloist

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I picked up this book from one of the libraries on a whim, even as I was pulling books from one of my all-time favourite authors. (More about that another time). It was the piano on the cover that drew me. You see, I’m a pianist. And the main character, Max Randal, is a professional pianist, a virtuoso in the likes of Rubinstein, who’s come up against a wall. He hasn’t performed in four years, and will give a big one at Carnegie Hall in a comeback after four years of finding himself.

The plot sounded rather intriguing, how with his history of wives comes back to haunt him. In short, it’s about a rather self-absorbed performer who, in his search for perfection, never finds it.
What I liked:
Author Nicholas Christopher really did his homework about preparing for the stage. I’ve done some performing myself, and fully identify with how emotions are so important for making music. We can practice all we want, develop all the technical abilities we want. But if there are no emotions, then all we get is a concert by someone who plays the piano really really well. Pianists (and in fact, all instrumental musicians) face the challenge of connecting to people. There’s got to be something other than the tones and sounds to make CDs fly off the shelves.
The other thing Christopher nailed was how important fear is to a performance. Fear generates adrenalin, and that makes the performer push him/herself, sometimes to the point of nausea or giddiness. But this was the final missing element that Randal was looking for through his months of tortured practice. He got the notes, the phrasing, the emotions. But until he stepped onto the stage and heard the adoring applause from the audience, he couldn’t deliver.
What didn’t work for me:
Nicholas Christopher also did study into psychological theories. The fantastical backstories made Randal a little difficult to relate to, but that arrogance and stand-offishness was needed to make this plot sing. The real problem for me is Christopher follows major episodes in Randal’s life with a pedantic one-to-two paragraph explanation of psychological theories. And we’re not talking short paragraphs. Written as a psychology textbook, that makes it more fun. But as a piece of fiction that serves to break the flow, and brings the lecture into leisure reading.
I guess I should cut Christopher some slack, seeing from GoodReads that this is his first novel. But will I recommend this book to anyone? Well, only if they’re a beginning psychology student, or want to understand how emotions can make such a difference.
Mimosa’s rating of The Soloist: 2.5/5

Two Giants and the Unsung

This video is so awesome yet controversial. This’s pretty much how my thoughts went – a little schizo.

“Wow that’s cool!”

“Those drones. saw them in Jack Neo’s movie”

“But it’s Ogilvy and Coca-cola”

“Really grateful to these men who labour for us”

“Marketing ploy”

The ending thought? So it’s one giant trying to sell another giant, but the entire concept is still way cool.

God Uses Regular Folks Too

We’re planning a vacation bible school for especially the unchurched, and man has there been so much pressure to bring in the hordes. We’re a brand new team, with barely anyone who has planned these sorts before.

Nearly everyone we talk to asks how many have signed up! And there are those who insinuate, through regular speech and prayer for us, that we need to pray more, have more faith and trust more in God. Because that’s what they did in previous years, and that brought in the numbers.

Thing is, we have been praying, seeking God since Day 1. But God decided to send only a trickle in when registration began. After three weeks of publicity, we had 3 sign ups. That grew to 6, 9 and 14. We’d say things like ‘God increased our total attendance by 200%!’ or ‘Praise God, we’re now double the size!’ But this was a far cry from the 60 we’d planned for. And we had an army of helpers standing by – but few attendees.

Deep down, we were discouraged. We wondered if we’d be the first team that messes up this annual event. We wondered if people would come to know Jesus through this – or walk out unchanged, remembering only a day of fun.

Then God opened the floodgates. People began telling us it’s not about the number of children who come, but that we tell the good news of why we all need Jesus faithfully. The evangelism team went knocking on doors in our flatted neighbourhood, and the week we joined them, two signed up on the spot. We were floored. The next time they went out, 10 signed up on the spot. And more continue to show interest.

Church members began signing up their children as participants and helpers. And more brought in other children they’ve been trying to reach. Did I mention we were floored?

This morning I read shereadstruth’s introduction to Nehemiah, and was just going ‘Amen’ all the way. To quote, “The book of Nehemiah is a remarkable story about God using regular, God-fearing folks – not just the big, impressive leaders – to accomplish His redemptive purposes.”

That is amazing. God is so big, so great, He doesn’t need to use us. He controls the wind, the seas. He made the sun and moon and stars. We control the television, stove and computer. (Just kidding. We don’t even know how to fix it if it breaks down.) And yet, God chooses to use us. God uses regular, God-fearing folks to accomplish His redemptive purposes.

We don’t know how many children will come to know Jesus from the event. We pray they will. We pray that some will join us every week after. But what we do know – God will use small, not-quite-so-eloquent us to tell why what Jesus did on the cross is such a big deal. We know God will plant the seed of the gospel. It is our duty to be careful in planting it. But its growth, its fruit – ah, that comes all from God. That’s so liberating!

 

 

Of Cakes and Peace Offerings

So the intern’s been plying us with cakes and chocolates. Not just any old pandan sponge cake from the neighbourhood bakery, but  jazzed-up pieces from his kitchen. Tiramisu, matcha cream cake, chocolate cream cake with a thin wafer base, chocolate shell filled with ganache and caramel… All very delicious, all very complex. And very unwanted.

We simply couldn’t understand it. Here he was, following recipes to the T (bake stuff needs absolute precision), but unable to perform simple tasks at work. And when his mistakes were found out, he’d come in the next day with cakes. It was nice to receive the peace offerings at first. But he made little effort to improve and was still turning in sloppy work riddled with mistakes. We started to loathe the cakes. All we wanted was for him to say sorry and make an effort to do better.

God’s like that too. When we do things that upset Him, that are at odds with His holy nature, God wants true repentance. He does not want us making it up to Him by promising to give bigger gifts, more tithes, or spending more time at church. It’s not about the activities – it’s about the heart. I like how Psalm 147: 10-11 puts it, “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Those verses don’t mean God doesn’t like horses or has something against human beings’ legs. God made horses. God made human legs. He made the horses mighty, fearless, an asset in battle (Job 39:19-25). He made Adam and Eve, gave the earth to their care, and then Creation went from “good” to “very good”. So it’s not that God hates these things. Rather, God wants us putting our trust in Him, in having a relationship with Him – not giving more, bigger and better offerings.

It’s easy to fall into the bigger, more, better peace offering trap. But even as humans, we understand that appeasing someone has to be done on their terms. Any child could tell you that just giving Mum a hug after breaking the vase isn’t going to make her any happier. You still got to say you’re sorry, and sit through her rants / grumbling / philosophical musings.

That makes me think. How do I respond to sin, to the things that displease God?