so today was the last day of our mandarin course. after having spent about 10 hours rehearsing and acting out our script, wilson and i gave an excellent performance! when we practiced on thursday, there were several parts where we screwed up and started laughing uncontrollably, but thankfully we didn't make any major boo-boos on the big day. i was really surprised by the number of props that wilson brought to class. some of the props he brought included a waiter's vest and fake flowers (our skit took place inside a restaurant).
the end of the mandarin course was a little bittersweet. after 11 long weeks i finally get to sleep in on saturdays again, but i did have a lot of fun and i learned a lot. i don't plan to take any further courses at the chinese cultural centre for the time being, but i do plan to continue self-studying of mandarin by learning 15-20 new words per week. the most important thing is to keep speaking it as often as possible.
in the afternoon we watched kill bill vol 2. i enjoyed this movie a lot more than vol 1, which i thought had too much blood and gore in it. but the major reason i liked vol 2 was pai mei, the old kung fu master who appears about halfway through vol 2. quite simply put, pai mei rules. i'm thinking of going back to watch kill bill vol 2 again, just to hear his 5-minute-long derogatory rant at the bride (spoken in cantonese) one more time. in my opinion, that scene by itself is worth the price of admission. go watch this movie. now.
while we were there, we saw the trailer for hero, featuring jet li and zhang ziyi. the movie looks amazing and i'm really looking forward to it.
mandarin class was cancelled this week due to the easter holiday, but winston, elisa, wilson and i still got together at the usual time in the morning (emily came along too!) to practice our mandarin scripts. i bought timbits for everyone, but i didn't realize that tim hortons had a new maple walnut flavoured timbit. so, when i asked for assorted timbits, i got a whole bunch of those innocent-but-deadly maple walnut ones. (i'm allergic to all kinds of nuts, walnuts included.) so, i bit into this timbit, and it had this nice maple syrup flavour, but then 5 seconds after i swallowed it i immediately realized something was wrong, and i knew exactly what was wrong, because there could only be one explanation when my tongue and throat started to swell and feel itchy.
the next few hours weren't happy hours, as i was feeling totally miserable. fortunately, by lunchtime the swelling and itching in my mouth had subsided. i'm lucky my allergies are relatively minor and not too severe.
after lunch we went for karaoke at emcee. of course, due to my minuscule chinese vocabulary and zero knowledge of the hk pop music world, i wound up singing cheesy english songs exclusively. while other people were singing, though, i tried to read as many of the words on the screen in mandarin as possible, and i was surprised to discover that i knew about 40% of the words. it's quite rewarding to see the time and effort invested in studying mandarin paying off.
on the other hand, my cantonese vocabulary isn't growing at all ... i was really amazed and impressed that elisa and winston (who were born in canada, like me) have such a large cantonese vocabulary. i guess if a person likes hk pop and karaoke, then that's a great incentive for that person to learn as much vocabulary as possible. i suppose i'll have to find my own incentive for increasing my vocabulary ...
at the end of the day, the box of timbits was still in my car and nobody wanted them! fearing that the maple walnut timbits had contaminated the other innocent timbits, i had to throw the whole box away. moral of the day: beware the maple walnut timbit!
it was nice to finally have a holiday and a long weekend. strangely, even though i didn't get any rest at all, i didn't mind. the day started when i met wilson downtown to work on our mandarin project - we had to create a script for mandarin class about 3 to 5 minutes long. i made two mistakes to start off the day - first, to meet wilson, i should have took the subway to sherbourne instead of driving, to avoid paying a total of $10 for parking during the day in various locations. second, i should have eaten breakfast. we worked more or less non-stop on our script until 2:30pm, which meant that after i woke up, i didn't have anything to eat for 6 hours. not good.
after hungrily devouring a burger at harvey's around 3pm, i met elisa and her friends emily and shuwei at a starbucks near u of t. it was a shame i ate so late in the afternoon, because we went shortly for dinner at this restaurant on queen st which served delicious crepes, and it turned out that i couldn't eat much due to my late lunch. it's a really neat restaurant. crepes are usually reserved for dessert, but this restaurant puts meats, cheeses and eggs inside their crepes, and serves them as entrees. i had ham and cheese inside my crepe, and it was very tasty.
in the evening we went to a church on beverley st nearby (i think it was the toronto chinese baptist church, i'm not sure) where they had an evening religious service with a choir performing religious music; emily's friend renee was a member of the choir. now, i'm not religious, but i like choral music, so i thought it would be interesting to attend and enjoy the choral performance. the choir was not bad, but i could have done without the religious portion of the ceremony - the whole thing lasted for 2 hours, and most of the readings were delivered 3 times - once in english, once in cantonese and once in mandarin! for those songs which the audience was expected to sing along to, i noticed that the music had been scored for SATB and i had fun sight-reading the bass line, while some people around me (who i presume had no knowledge of harmony) gave me strange looks. i discovered something else as well ... it's kinda hard to sing bass when you're alone and surrounded by hundreds of people singing the soprano line.
after the service ended, elisa, emily, renee and i headed to marche for dessert, only to find a humongous lineup in front of us. we wound up going to the "other" restaurant in bce place beside the marche that i had passed by a few times but never actually tried. this italian restaurant (argh, i can't remember its name!) looks like the marche's poorer cousin, but their desserts are excellent and are a lot cheaper than the equivalent desserts at the marche. i had a really nice belgian waffle with fresh fruits and ice cream. mmm, ice cream ... a great way to end a long day ... :)
i got my voice back today! i think the next time a concert rolls around, i should pace myself and not sing at full blast during the dress rehearsal. i've never had a dress rehearsal occur on the same day as the concert, which i suppose explains why this is the first time my voice became hoarse after a concert.
after my mom's incessant nagging about buying a condo, i finally gave in and went condo shopping along the yonge st. strip in north york today. the problem is, i should probably have consulted a mortgage specialist first to find out exactly what price range i can afford, so that i don't have to waste time looking at units which are out of my price range. the nicest units i saw were by shane baghai, on yonge between the 401 and sheppard. all of the units planned for the high-rise were 2-storey units! i've always wanted to have a 2-storey unit inside a high-rise building. then i checked the price ... and the starting price was around $280K. i suppose i could always come back after i win the lottery ...
today was the day of the hart house singers' spring concert! but before that, i had mandarin class as usual ... our teacher told us that for our final project, we would have to create a 3 minute dialogue with a partner, memorize it, and present it in class. the hardest part, to me, is the memorization. a 3 minute conversation is a lot to memorize! the other thing is that mandarin class for next saturday is cancelled due to the easter holiday, which means that the final class is going to be on april 17th. this really sucks, because it means that i won't be able to play in the toronto go open, which takes place that weekend. <sigh> oh well ...
after mandarin class i parked my car at the subway and went downtown. we had a solid 3 hour dress rehearsal in the afternoon in which we managed to iron out a few minor problems in our music. we then had a short break before the start of the concert. i decided to take this time to explore the yorkville area downtown and managed to find the well-hidden hazelton lanes mall. the interior of the mall resembles one giant maze.
unfortunately, on the way back to hart house, i was caught outdoors when the rain started coming down hard. of course, i didn't have my umbrella with me, and the jacket i was wearing didn't have a hood. when i got back to hart house, i was completely soaked and i attempted to use the hand dryers in the men's washroom to dry my hair. however, the hand dryers were of the automatic variety, which meant that they did not turn on unless their sensors detected a hand near the dryer. furthermore, the hand dryers (for some ridiculous reason) were located quite close to the floor. thus, i bent down and tried to stick my head into the little opening meant for hands. naturally the sensors detected nothing. after about 10 seconds of head poking i heard someone entering the washroom and i quickly stood up before anyone managed to see me in such a compromising position. i wound up having to dry off my hair with paper towels.
the concert, titled spiritual revelations, started at 7pm and we gave an amazing performance! i've performed in choral concerts before and for some reason, time always seems to go by very quickly while performing. the intermission came after 45 minutes, but it felt to me like only 15 minutes had passed. the performance ended at 8:30pm and we received a lot of applause from the audience.
shortly after the concert ended, my voice started to feel hoarse and it was then that i realized all of the intense singing during the day had started to take its toll. i hope my voice returns to normal tomorrow. also, i guess this marks the end of monday night choir practices for the foreseeable future ... but this frees me up for badminton over the next 3 months! i'm looking forward to it.
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