樓盤名品味不再

香港的豪宅,設計,越造越精緻;價錢,越賣越貴;取名,越來越惡俗。

前兩年有惡名昭彰的西九「君臨天下」。還好,英文名未受俗氣污染,只改了個平平的「The Harbourside」,沒有叫「Imperial Majesty」之類,萬幸!

不過,英文名這一寸淨土,最近也淪陷了。

尖沙咀的新盤「名鑄」,英文名就叫「The Masterpiece」,你說怪不怪?Can you image telling people “I live at the Masterpiece”?

同是西九的「天璽」更厲害,整個項目分六部份,叫「日鑽璽」、「皇鑽璽」、「月鑽璽」、「星鑽璽」、「天鑽璽」、「海鑽璽」,極盡暴發之能事。不禁想,是否刻意迎合某地買家的口味。

以前,不是這樣的。

同樣是富豪宅第,董建華住的半山「嘉慧園」,名字就得體、端莊得多。這個名稱讓人起碼覺得,裏面住的人不但有錢,還有大戶人家的涵養氣度。雖然,實際如何,不得而知。

司徒拔道的玫瑰新村、松柏新村、南區的浪琴園、山頂的豐林閣,也是相當優雅的豪宅名稱。

上行下效。中產住宅,也要多誇有多誇。四、五百呎的,也統統叫甚麼「豪庭」,「豪園」。「杏花村」這種好名,哪裏去了?

現在的海港城港威大廈,前身是五座圓柱形的服務式住宅,外形優美不用說,名字更妙,分別叫「仙桃閣」、「品蘭閣」、「秀棠閣」、「桂芝閣」及「班桃閣」,何其雅緻!

相比之下,那些「日鑽夜鑽」的,真是失禮死人。

現在有錢的人,也許比以前多。

只是,今時今日,有錢,卻不一定有品味。

東亞運義工培訓二事

前天,去了東亞運動會的義工培訓。

說是培訓,其實反而像一場大型講座,幾百個義工在大會堂音樂廳,聽大會人員講解工作內容。

一進場,就看見大電視不斷播放主題曲,趁培訓未開始,便留意一下歌詞:

衝出世界

作曲:金培達

填詞:陳少琪

放開胸襟願望在汗水中前行
你的體溫和力量驗證了基因

雲上有多麼深的足印
只因一種決心
然後你帶著兩份熱情
讚頌你對手同時亦會拼盡每一分

You are the legend, this is your time
身體以潛能形成動態再上天階
一起會越拼越勇越快
帶著理想衝出世界
You are the legend, the legend of your life

每一顆心像陸地大海的聯盟
勝出一刻榮耀便代替了艱辛

雲上有多麼深的足印
只因一種決心
然後你懷著兩份熱情
讚頌你對手同時亦會拼盡每一分

You are the legend, this is your time
身體以潛能形成動態再上天階
一起會越拼越勇越快
帶著理想衝出世界
You are the legend
You are the legend
You are the legend, this is your time

身體以潛能形成動態  再上天階
一起會越拼越勇越快
帶著理想衝出世界
You are the legend, the legend of your life

越聽,口張得越大,因為十句有九句聽不懂。

甚麼叫「你的體溫和力量驗證了基因」?

甚麼叫「雲上有多麼深的足印」?(雲上的足印,我只知道一種,叫「碳足印(carbon footprint)」。)

甚麼叫「每一顆心像陸地大海的聯盟」?

這樣扭捏不通的歌詞,如何能振奮人心?會否,又是內部太多干預,這個部門加點油,那個高層添些醋,所弄出來的不倫不類官僚混合物?

不過,又「雲上」、「天階」、「衝出世界」甚麼的,描寫太空人倒十分貼切。

另外還有一件事,也是不吐不快。

大會人員講解後,例必有問答環節。此時,有約八成的義工,立時起身,離去。

的確,剛才部份內容頗為沉悶,但問答環節也不就是幾條問題,為甚麼不聽完才走?要知道,問答環節,往往是最有得著的時候。何況,這樣太不尊重大會。

好,你要走是你自己事,但在場也有兩成人是想聽下去的,麻煩走時靜點好嗎?那些人,卻立時拿起電話,大聲約食飯,吵得完全聽不到提問。有人舉手,也因為離去的人阻塞樓梯,令工作人員沒法交咪。

希望這些人的品行,不反映其工作態度。畢竟,幾個月後,我們就要共事。

先甜後苦

These are entries to a Washington Post competition asking for a rhyme with the most romantic first line but … the least romantic second line (華盛頓郵報舉辦了一個比賽, 要求寫兩行押韻的詩, 第一行能多浪漫就多浪漫, 第二行能多不浪漫就多不浪漫, 以下是一些入圍作品):

括號內為在下試譯:

I see your face when I am dreaming.
That’s why I always wake up screaming.

(夢中浮現你面容……
夢醒尖叫滿驚恐)

Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;
This describes everything you are not.

(賢淑聰慧情深迷人……
四樣皆為你所不行)

I thought that I could love no other
— that is until I met your brother.

(曾言此生決不再愛他人……
唯見汝兄竟然欲罷不能)

I want to feel your sweet embrace;
But don’t take that paper bag off your face.

(恨不得馬上投入你懷抱……
但請千萬不要除下頭套)

I love your smile, your face, and your eyes
Damn, I’m good at telling lies!

(你盈盈一笑, 俏臉美目, 皆令我為之傾倒……
我句句謊言, 面無愧色, 更讓我引以自豪)

My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?

(每次見你, 不禁屏息靜氣……
否則實在, 難敵你那異味)

What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.

(問此情話從何覓得靈感?
只因貪杯以致不知所云)

Gladly Gaddi’s

It was only appropriate that our visit to Gaddi’s began with its slow private lift.

The ascent to the first floor, where the 55-year old French restaurant is, took a crawling 30 seconds – an apt reminder that haste doesn’t fit in here. Guests should take the time to carefully savour everything, relaxed and unhurried.

20090809039The lift doors opened to a classical dining area dominated by huge chandeliers, sapphire carpet, panelled wall and elaborate furniture. There was a piano area to the left where live singing is performed at dinner. To the right were a few tables where guests can have a cocktail before the meal. But we chose to go, in the words of the waiter, “straight to the lunch”.

Each of us ordered a three-course lunch. We also shared, at the chef’s recommendation, a pastry with foie gras and black truffle fillings, featured in the seasonal Tasmanian truffle menu.

A waiter arrived with six kinds of bread on a large silver plate. I chose the raisin wedge and croissant. Both were warm and very good. The wedge had a delicate, biscuit-like crust, like that of a scone. The miniature croissant was butterly and filled with bacon. A fruity paste in the fillings balanced the flavour, so that it didn’t become too heavy.

20090809036Next came the soup, an ox-tail consomme. It didn’t taste like “meat bone tea”, as the waiter had described, but was indeed flavoursome. The aroma of beef slowly filled the mouth after the first sip. But the soup was outweighed by the side dish – two juicy morsels of deep-fried beef cheek, which was very memorable.

20090809037The black truffle pastry arrived already divided into three portions. It was my first experience with truffle. The taste was rather bland, but the fragrance was heavenly. The foie gras was good of course – you can’t go wrong with foie gras. We also requested extra bread to mop up the port and truffle sauce.

20090809038Having had red meat for starter I chose Atlantic black cod for my main course, served on a bed of bean mash, asparagus and spinach, and topped with a horseradish puree. The fish was melt-in-the-mouth smooth. The green foam was interesting. The asparagus was well-saturated with the creamy foam and strangely had a faint taste of egg roll. However it was difficult to cut the asparagus with the fish knife. Several times I pushed too hard and ended up banging the knife on the plate.

20090809041Dessert was a bit disappointing. The chocolate cannelloni filled with rapsberry mousse, though a novel combination, tasted nothing special. But the dark chocolate sorbet was excellent. The intense chocolate flavour lingered long after the sorbet had melted. Finally a silky cafe mocha and petit fours completed the experience.

20090809042 20090809043

Service, as one would expect in a restaurant like this, was impeccable. The waiters were nice, and they did an excellent job anticipating our needs. During main course I took a bit of dad’s prime rib, and a waiter immediately gave me a steak knife. Also I like the way they serve the main course. They have a rule of removing the lids of all main courses at the same time, then backing away gracefully. Their movement seems choreographed.

The price… well let’s just say the price reflects the quality of the food and service. But it’s still affordable. Try there at least once. Definitely recommended for special occasions.

Spot the grey area

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Black and white photography is about learning to see in monochrome.

B&W photographers train their eyes to spot interesting shades, contrasts, patterns and textures. They must also learn to filter the interference of colors. What looks good in color may become boring in B&W, as the appeal is lost without the color.

I’m still learning. But in this photo, I cheated a little bit.

You see, while my eyes can’t see in monochrome, my camera phone can. All I did was to activate B&W mode and, aha, there’s my B&W world on the LCD!

By the way the location here is Sai Wan, on the west end of Hong Kong Island. This place is full of old shops with decades of history – a perfect setting for nostalgic B&W photos. Everyday the rays of sunset turn the streets into a treasure house of shades and contrasts.

Next time, I shall bring along a real camera – my Nikon D80.

Which has no live view function, so I can’t cheat.

在這世界終極時

對於marketing翻譯,筆者是又愛又恨。

愛,是因為它介乎翻譯與創作之間,任你自由發揮,絕對比呆板的財經、法律文字好玩。

恨,是因為見得太多令人昏昏欲睡的marketing cliche,而其中最令人討厭的,當數「ultimate」。

這個詞語本來相當強而有力,但自從甚麼都加個「ultimate」後,已經看得麻木了,用了就跟沒用一樣。就像抗生素服用過量,必然失效。當凡事皆ultimate的時候,就是ultimate的ultimate demise。

不過,當ultimate譯成中文,就壞上加壞。

今日打開信箱,收到某商場的宣傳單張,第一句就是:贏取終極旅遊體驗。

甚麼是「終極旅遊體驗」?原來是去法國參加檸檬節、去意大利參加嘉年華、去日本觀看時代祭。那麼,有何終極之有?

為甚麼不直截了當說「深刻體會風土人情」、「難能可貴的旅遊經歷」,而要繞個大圈子?

中文裏好好的「無與倫比」、「無可比擬」、「至高無上的享受」,絕對比不著邊際的「終極體驗」來得鏗鏘有力。

而且,寫這句話的翻譯/撰稿員有沒有想過,「終極」二字,對中國人來說其實好唔老o黎?

甚麼叫「終極」旅遊體驗?一去不回,客死異鄉嗎?

大吉利是!

I won’t take the bait

Telescammers are annoying, but sometimes they do spice up the otherwise boring office life:

TS: Hello Sir! Thank you for participating in our survey a while ago. In appreciation of your help, we’re giving you 500 dollars of supermarket coupons!!! Please pick them up at our office at…

Me: I don’t recall having done any survey…

TS: Well that was about a month ago. Perhaps you’ve forgotten. So…

Me: No, I adopt a hang-up-immediately policy for these calls. There’s just no way I could’ve done any survey.

TS: Uh…

Me: So, goodbye.

TS: Wait! I… i… it doesn’t matter. The coupons are yours, just come and pick them up.

Me: Sorry, I don’t have time, gotta work.

TS: How about the weekends?

Me: No time either.

TS: (In a sarcastic tone, throwing her pretended politeness away) Don’t you have to REST?

Me: Of course I have to. That’s exactly why I can’t come.

* * *

I’ve heard too much about these scams on the news. First they call the victim promising gifts. When the victim arrives, they take away his/her ID card for “registration purpose”. Then, they (in groups of 3-4) ask the victim to buy outrageously priced “travel packages”. All the while the ID card is held hostage. They bombard the victim with persuasion for hours, hoping he/she will eventually give in to the pressure and pay. For this reason, university students and professors are favorite targets because they are considered more “timid”.

A recent survey shows some victims paid more than 30,000 dollars before they could get their ID cards back and leave.

Meanwhile, the HK government charges 335 dollars for a replacement.