Thursday, March 08, 2012

Role models

There was an interesting article by Andrew Jacobs in today's Sydney Morning Herald about the Chinese push to re-instill comrades with a sense of selflessness and industry by urging people to "Learn from Lei Feng" - a young man who was killed when a colleague reversed a vehicle into a telephone pole, sending it crashing down on him. Lei Feng was promoted to the status of National Hero by the Communist Party propaganda machine: Lei Feng, industrious, generous and irresistibly impish, China's most endearing soldier, the sort of fellow who would darn his comrades' socks and skip a meal so others might eat.

As Jabos writes: "In urging people to 'Learn from Lei Feng' a year after his death, then-leader Mao Zedong sought to imbue China's youth with a passion for self-sacrifice and patriotism — and perhaps distract them from the hunger pangs of famine that followed his disastrous effort to rapidly industrialize in the Great Leap Forward."

While these propaganda methods may have worked well "back then", today the Internet allows a forum for people to question the push - which they are doing although some of the comments are being deleted by censors.

Jacobs reports - and this was the interesting part which added to the suggestion that "government-sponsored role models strained credulity": previous party icons include Shi Chuanxiang, a happy-go-lucky "night soil" collector; Wang Yiqing, an electronics worker who assembled 5 million radio parts without a single mistake, and - wait for it - Iron Man Wang, who dog-paddled in a vat of cement when there was no machine to mix it!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Carrie ... the Musical

Just when you thought you had seen everything - here's something else to whet your appetite for theatre. Remember Carrie, Stephen King's story of a young, increasingly troubled teenager who is teased until she turns nasty, well, you can now see the Musical of the same name - until 22 April since it has extended its season. The following is an excerpt from The Newsletter:

The newly reworked and fully re-imagined production of Carrie, produced by award-winning off-Broadway theater company MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, recently announced an extended run through April 22. The musical's original creators, composer Michael Gore, lyricist Dean Pitchford, and book writer Lawrence D. Cohen (who wrote the screenplay for the 1976 DePalma film version) have completely revised the their 1988 musical under the direction of Stafford Arima. Stars Broadway stalwart and Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie as Margaret White, and a young actress named Molly Ranson who, by all accounts, is giving a star-making performance.

Not very clear - again or still?

Going through my wallet this afternoon (you do have to do it sometimes!), I came across a discount fuel voucher from one of the supermarkets. I checked the date and found it had expired - although it was fairly hard to read because the ink was fading fast on the thermal paper. Is this an additional service they offer that maybe didn't work as well as it might have? Self-fading fuel dockets ... they fade totally when they are out of date.