Saturday, May 15, 2004

Woke up at almost 10 this morning, a new experience for me since I'm usually an early riser. Sometimes it's not by choice, but most of the time I can't sleep any more after 7-8 o'clock. Too restless, I guess. Had the intention of breakfasting at the Ya Kun Kaya Toast place that just opened at Northpoint. Ya Kun's advertising is so counter to that of the trendy coffee joints; I appreciate the candour and the veritas of it. But seeing how late it was already and how excited Q-tip was about the prospect of her weekend morning walkies, we made things simple and ate downstairs instead.

Took Q-tip on a trek through Yishun Park. We saw a line of ants, a section of which was carrying an unfortunate worm off to dinner. It was amazing how fellow ants swarmed to help carry the worm over difficult terrain even though many ants would have known they wouldn't be sharing in it. Once they had helped the main carriers over a bump or crevice the 'volunteers' would go on with their own tasks again like nothing happened. June must be part ant 'cos she heeded the call for assistance and picked up the entire dinner party with a twig and transported them straight to their doorstep a staggering 3 metres away. How altruistic. When she discovered the worm was still alive, however, she felt bad and wished she had helped the worm instead. Veritas, one can only do so much, I suppose.

Q-tip had her bath on our return home and the pet supplies arrived on time. I spent the afternoon replaying KOTOR and munched on Ruffles (cheddar cheese and sour cream flavour) for lunch. (Read Mei's entry for today -- the coincidence is eyebrow-raising).

Wonder if I can persuade June to go watch Troy tonight. She missed out on Thursday's treat 'cos the show was too early for her and she couldn't get off work in time. I know she'll regret missing it on the big screen. I want to buy the DVD (Code 1, preferably) but there's nothing like watching an epic like this in 70mm, Dolby Digital sound. Time to put on the >ahem< charm... Wish me luck!

Friday, May 14, 2004

It's nice to look at your weekend and think, for a change, that there's nothing pressing on your schedule. At least, nothing more complicated than waiting for a delivery of pet kibble and kitty litter tomorrow and breakfast with the in-laws on Sunday morning. The rest of the time, hmm... who knows? Think we all worked hard for this weekend, and we are going to enjoy it by doing absolutely nothing. Such inactivity makes for uninteresting blogging, but I don't know. We'll see, won't we?

Finally got my bowling trophy 3 weeks after the event. It was presented at assembly yesterday, but I forgot to mention it in my previous entry. The trophy is actually a quite smallish gold cup bearing the college crest. It is heavy for its size and feels satisfyingly substantial to carry around. I can't decide whether to bring it home and clear a space for it (like as if it's the size of an amphora) or leave it on my desk to accompany the growing collection of aluminum root beer cans waiting to be recycled. Hope I don't recycle it by accident.

Promised to send 150 visitors to Tekong next week, but final count only comes up to about 120 including staff. Hope Ee Ling isn't too inconvenienced in helping us make these arrangements. She's on MC today, so she must be under some stress already. Feel a little bad about making her work on this trifle when she returns to work tomorrow.

Lunched with Anthony, Vince, Cara, Darrell and the new relief, Sheena. What new relief? Sheena was in the Student Council the first year I arrived at college. My first CCA was the Council, and Sheena, of course, remembers me from then. It was the year June and I got married and we invited all the Councillors to dinner. All I remember that they were very happy guests who after discovering our cache of red wine became even happier guests that night. The Councillors gave us the most thoughtful present of all, erm... practical things to use on our honeymoon. Thank you, Clifton and the 22nd SC. 'Nuff said.

It was only a matter of time that someone I might have taught would turn up again as my colleague. Now that she's experiencing college life from the other side of the staff room door, much of our mystique has vanished for her. One lunch was all it took. In case you haven't seen it yet, I'll sum it up as: Veritas, no one truly grows up.

Lunch was at Nonya Wok in Bishan. Food prepared by an authentic Nonya lady in the kitchen. I ordered the Special Fried Rice which came with bits of luncheon meat and crabsticks, but the secret ingredient was the sprinkling of what I thought was ikan bilis but Cara said it was silverfish(?). Whatever it was, it was light, crispy and flavourful. So was the rojak, the turnip bits in particular were so fresh, just slightly sweet and very juicy. There is much freshness in the otah too, lemak with chunks of fish meat to get your teeth into.

Nonya Wok is right next door to the McDonald's at Bishan bus interchange.You can't miss it. Just outside the round building housing the two eateries is a small playground in which there is a concrete children's slide. The slide is spray painted with graffitti that reads, "Max Sux." Considering the kind of food you can get next door, I have to agree.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Overwhelmed. How many of us can say they sat through Homer's Iliad AND Odyssey in one day?

NYeDC gave an excellent showing of the Odyssey -- the best performance to date, and sadly, possibly the last performance too, finally putting the old girl to rest after so much hard work. Cast energy was high and relationships between characters were better fleshed out today. There was a small technical hitch with our miscued music, but the cast performed admirably, recovering and continuing like it never happened. Strong performances by Ramzi and Sam, who persented taut exchanges between the two in-laws. Nice tension and the audience could feel it too. Gid was starting for feel something for his character, Odysseus. It was Odysseus who stood on stage today, not Gid. Hasif, crowd pleaser, kept the audience quite amused with his campy Hermes, and as Tiresias he opted for a blend of what we rehearsed -- deadly serious -- and yet kept some of the fun we used to have when Ain played the same role at Drama Night. The audience got the "blind old bat" gag and Gid did well not to overplay it. Meixian has gained much more confidence delivering Circe's dialogue and the audience reacted well to the cheeky minx. Durga's transformation from stern bouncer to airhead was a nice surprise for the audience and it lightened the scene a bit before the play got too dark. Crew and judges performed credibly although I would say a few more rehearsals were needed to sharpen the comic elements of their scenes. Chorus, clear, coordinated vocals and movement, sharp and disciplined in execution. Well done, folks!

P was in the audience and she was genuinely startled at our ending as were many of our audience members too. Gerald and Anthony came to support us along with a number of Year 1s. Thanks for the back-up, everyone!

SYF judges are a strange lot who seem to be moulded from Simon and company from American Idol, only not as vocal. My guess all judges look like that after a number of auditions. Wonder how they took to our parodying them in the 1st suitor scene?

Anyway people, you did good today! All we can do not is wait for results and see what the judges really thought of us. It's out of our hands now so there's little that worrying can do. Just take the opportunity to breathe and relax for now, and maybe -- when you can fit your lives around it -- go study! Do us as proud at your 'A's as we are with your SYF showing today!

Watching the Odyssey before Troy feels like putting the cart before the horse. Nevertheless, most of us made our way to PS for Troy. Of course the "gergers" must drool over Bloom, Brad, Bean and Bana; muscular things they are, hunky and smart. Battle scenes were beautifully choreographed, particularly with Achilles and his favourite airborne assault maneuver. It's Saving Private Ryan all over again only this time it's men in skirts hacking at each other and trying to poke each other's eyes out with their pointy sticks. Sets were lush and gorgeous, poignant scenes were moving, there's a lot that can be done with the right budget.

Might say a bit more about Troy, but not tonight. It's been a long day, too tired to think anymore. Goodnight!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Set 03S3B an essay assignment to work on and decided to keep them company by writing an essay of my own from the choices of questions I gave them. I wanted to see how I could cope with the 90 minute time constraint and to see if I still had it in me to write an 'A' grade paper. I estimate I took about 75 minutes to come up with this Cambridge not approved 994 word monster which I will not force anyone to read. Understandably, the essay does contain argumentative flaws, underdeveloped and unsubstantiated points and some clumsy phrasing. Nevertheless, I wonder how I did in the eyes of an impartial 3rd party. If you want to read and grade the essay, "What value do you place on privacy?" click here. Let me know what you think.

The essay is mainly in it's unedited version apart from correcting a small number of annoying initial typos. To save time, I planned the essay and wrote my first paragraph simultaneously. This method is likewise not approved, but it did save me at least 15 minutes writing time.

By the way, I'd also like to know if people are having problems loading up the pictures I'm hosting at Geocities. Please feedback if you can or can't see them. I'd appreciate it.

One day left to Odyssey SYF central judging. Last rehearsal is done, we've done everything we can with it and now it's totally in the hands and voices and bodies of our cast and crew. We trust you enough to let go now and to call it truly your show from this point on. You are well trained, fully prepared and ready-to-go. You are motivated and willing to give all you have to our endeavour. There is nothing that stands between us and a good showing tomorrow, one that we can all be proud of. We ended rehearsal early tonight, so rest well while you individually psyche yourselves up for tomorrow. Be bold, be confident, be aware. NYeDC, stake your claim and rule the stage!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

How apt that Troy opens the day we perform The Odyssey at the SYF central judging. Cast and crew deserve no less than a treat from the Drama Club, so we’ll go north where we are more able to get a block booking. I just hope they won’t be too tired to join us for an evening of popcorn, coke and Greek mythology. All Odd-balls, please join us, ok?

One more rehearsal to go before we finish the journey we started last year. How does everyone feel, I wonder? I feel proud, anticipatory and I know that we’ve got a good show on our hands. We have everything to be proud of. It’s not easy to compress a classical epic into the “short half hour of monsters, storms, romance and treachery” but that was the challenge we set for ourselves and that’s exactly what we’ve done. So let’s go in knock everyone’s socks off and leave with a sense of accomplishment and achievement. And then we’ll go see how Hollywood does it on a bigger budget with Troy, the prequel to our Odyssey. I’ll take my 1% inspiration any way I can!

Had lunch again at Jalan Riang. The drinks uncle knows our “usual” drinks, not that he’s 100% correct all the time, but he makes good guesses, and the economic rice is definitely a draw factor. Went early today and it’s so nice to see the trays of dishes almost untouched for once. Discovered that he has a tray of sotong that must be very popular because I’ve never seen it before today. I’m not a big fan of sotong, though, so it makes no difference to me, I’m not likely to order it anyway.

Took a rain check on June’s homemade (can you get it anywhere else?) corned beef rice to go bowling at SAFRA last night, so tonight we had it for dinner. I used to think Libby’s corned beef was the best we could get, but June said it tasted too much of cow so she tried a substitute instead. Her choice was a good one: S&W, which seems to fly off the supermarket shelves leaving poor old Libby’s behind.

Good stuff, corned beef rice. Simple to prepare. Just mix up a can of corned beef with steamed rice while it’s still in the rice cooker and let it steam a little longer to make the mixture nice and hot. Also thrown in to steam are some baby corn (fresh, preferably, but canned will do) and broccoli. A note about broccoli: please don’t ever overcook it! The closer it is to raw the better. Raw broccoli is perfection, but many people don’t like it raw. Too “green,” they say. Serve corned beef rice with a liberal sprinkling of pepper and some fresh, sliced chilli padi. Q.E.D.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Arrgh! I lost my previous posting 'cos not familiar with the new buttons on this site! Nice that everything's new and there are lots more toys to play with, but have to learn to be careful what I click or lose an hour's work.

Not to say that my last entry was irreplaceable, but I don't feel like discussing that topic again. Too much thought, not enough entertainment. Anyway, it didn't sound like me. Don't want to scare my audience away with too heavy stuff. At least not yet, until we get more used to each other.

Good to have Tina drop in on us at this evening's rehearsal. Though we still couldn't round up full cast due to the odd early timing, it was enough for her to spot areas that could use strengthening and work on them. Various cast were put on the spot and worked over and the results are most satisfactory. Tension between Mother and Penelope is more dynamic and credible and the windbag scene makes much clearer sense now. Rest of the cast would do well to follow Tina's advice for themselves as well.

The simple rule that when you walk don't talk and when you talk don't walk is a very powerful rule to remember. Stand your ground, but also, don't root yourselves to the spot either. Move as your motivation moves you. Don't move because the director told you to do so. Either way, it's very clear to the audience why you are moving. Hopefully the audience will see more of the former.

Also, don't be discouraged when we repeat scenes over and over again. Few of us ever hit the mark on the first attempt. Do->repeat->learn->repeat->add on->repeat->practice->repeat->perfect. Repetition is a key strategy in the learning process. Get used to it.

Rehearsal ran a bit longer than I had budgeted for. Had to leave during our wrap-up briefing but I had to get us a lane at SAFRA for Monday Nite Bowling. Shoulda' stayed till the end of the briefing 'cos Anthony & co. came late anyway. Anthony's pride and joy, his Mazda 3, got it's first major dent after 2-3 months since he acquired it. Proximity sensor apparently didn't pick up the pillar he was reversing into. Key point: when driving, trust your eyes and not your ears. I nearly failed my driving test because of this principle. Now that he's got his first dent, the pressure to maintain his car's pristine condition is off. Guess there's a bright side to everything.

Joining us on the lanes tonight were Wendy, and two of Anthony's petanque teammates, Edward and Cheryl. Vince and Lawrence came too. Edward took a couple of games to warm up but he finished his last game very well with 176, winning a drink for himself. Anthony was a bit distracted because he kept thinking of his new dent but he, too, on his last game hit 202, which was the lane's high score for the day. He won the coveted silver pewter keychain and I know he'll gleefully show it off to Eunice tomorrow.

Me, I got in 4 games tonight the first game missing the gimmick keychain by 3 pinfalls. I won 3 keychains in my subsequent 3 games, bringing my average up to 152 tonight. Quite happy with my performance. All I have to remember from now on is to line myself up properly, aim for the middle arrow and power the ball down the centre. Striking well, sparing accuracy could be better. Next target average: 170. I'm confident that it is reachable now.
Just a quick note: By request I've put up the link to Iraq the Model in my Blogroll (see sidebar). Blogger, Ali, has included other Iraqi blogs in his sidebar. Dear_raed is still on "hiatus" but you can read Raed and Salam Pax's archives detailing their experiences during the "liberation" of Bhagdad.
Counter views can be found in Baghdad Burning written by an Iraqi girl. Trace her links too!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Spent most of the afternoon plowing through blogskins looking for a design that I could use for this blog. As nothing's changed you can guess that I couldn't find a skin I liked. I was toying with the idea of a skin called "The Pressure's On" featuring a silhoutte of the Grim Reaper and the text, "Get better grades or else," but it's so unsubtle and not me at all. Just have to keep looking, that's all.

Q-tip just loves car rides. She watches intently everything that goes on outside the car windows and always has a big grin on her face. We don't take her out too often, though, because taxi fares are expensive and we can't bring dogs into buses or the MRT. Oh, the places we'd go if we could!

We did take Q-tip to "Pets' Night" at Robertson Walk this evening. We got lost because there were no direction signs telling us where to go. Saw lots of other dog owners wandering around the place trying to find the event too. Took a stroll along the river and eventually had to ask for directions. Oh... along the river is Robertson Quay; where we came from was Robertson Walk. Ah ha!

In the process of our wanderings, Q-tip managed to shake off and lose the clip holding up her topknot and we misled a Jack Russell and a lab who assumed we knew where we were going. Finally as we retraced our steps, we met a chihuahua who happily followed us to the right location this time. Of all the stupid...! Robertson Walk is actually the name of the the square of restaurants just behind SRT, where we usually hang out during the intervals of plays we watch at SRT. Doh!

The square was full of dogs and their owners today. By the time we found the place, all the goodie bags had already been snapped up and the lines for the free dog massage(!) and free hand-drawn dog portrait were too long to bother with. Food, food, we need food! Considering that we hadn't had any lunch barring the leftover Ruffles potato chips and the bar of Lindt chocolate, June and I were starving. Food was our #1 priority! Everything else could wait!

We settled for Sketches which offered a better variety of food options than the other joints and because the crowd hadn't arrived to fill up the al fresco dining area yet. We ordered a side of chicken wings which Q-tip had a share in (it was, after all, a dinner date with your pet), a warm mushroom salad, a spaghetti vongole for June and I had a linguine served with 2 lamb chops.

Wings are wings; what can I say? Q-tip was quite happy to share them with us. Vegetables in the salad were fresh and very green topped with sauteed shiitake in a creamy, tangy dressing. June's order was very generous -- lots of clams on a mountain of spaghetti. I don't know how it tasted; she polished off the lot all by herself. My lamb was meaty and tender, cooked in plenty of garlic (whoo!) and served in a pleasant honey sauce. Q-tip was not averse to sharing some bits of lamb with me either. Nice thing about Sketches: they leave the carafe of ice-water on your table so you can help yourself any time you want. Too full for dessert.

We sat between a schnauzer and a (possibly) mini-maltese sporting a schnauzer cut. The latter was excited and quite noisy, intermittently screaming at all the other dogs around it. Cute, but irritating after a while. It's times like this we appreciate Q-tip and her quiet nature.
Hey, gimme a break! My day has barely started! A couple of links to keep you occupied while I go live:

Little shy girl (We all know someone like her, don't we?)

Pingu Extreme (Let me know when you beat my score of 1281)