The opening number is filled with beautiful women wearing the traditional Ao Dai (pronounced ow yai) (silk pants with a long silk flowery dress over them) and lots of lilly pads. Then, each pair of contestants, male/female, perform an opera. Each theme, from what we can gather, is “extreme sadness in relationships.” Each duet has two similar components: every woman cries and every man either carries a bottle of wine or is visibly stumbling drunk. One of the main judges is sitting right in front of us, so all three of us are on the screen quite a bit; however, the camera angle mostly captures K and T for long periods of time. We have to keep straight faces throughout the show. Despite the very sentimental and, um, somewhat “limited” genre, the voices are beautiful in a tonal, mournful way.
I wrote about my 6E homeroom class last week, how they decorated my room for the Halloween competition completely on their own initiative. Well, 22 classes enter the contest and every single one of them goes all out. The school designates Thursday afternoon as “decorating day” to replace clubs. Entire rooms are being transformed into mazes lined with foil, black plastic bags and red lighting. My sixth graders come to school depressed on Thursday; they put so much work into my room, but they know it is going to be far surpassed by the upper classmen.
That’s the cute part.
The Not Cute Parts: When Jack calls Anna “fat.” Or when Jack calls Anna a “bad dancer.” Or when Jack calls Anna a “Bossy Cow.” (All of these things are later translated for me by Helen~ Anna is the one in the grey dress, Helen the translator for Nam and me is next to her~she is your friend's new pen pal Megan.) Or when Ms. Alice must bring her 7th graders upstairs and mediate between them and my 6th graders because they are going to “tear Rian up” for stealing their sickle (until they find theirs) or when for two days, my room is a complete disaster and I cannot hear anyone speaking even two inches from my face because 6E can break a sound barrier. Or when I bring some black material that I plan to have made into a dress to cover the blinds because I figure I can wash it if it gets dirty only to look up to see 25 Halloween holes cut into it. Or when an eighth grader punches Death (Terry) in the face when he opens the door because he is scared.
Another cute part: Remember Mr. Jung of the Black Market connections? The one who wears bright pink striped shirts and who should be clubbing instead of sitting at a desk? He dresses up as a woman for Halloween (yup, has been living for it) and when he walks by, I ask the kids if they want to practice our performance for him. Well, everyone loves Mr. Jung so they all cheer and set up the action. When Mr. Jung enters the classroom and is surrounded by zombies, he performs some delightfully terrifying screams, and when the music begins, he cannot contain himself. He starts jumping up and down, up and down, shaking it like The King of Pop, and he and 6E have a dance party.