Saturday, October 16, 2004

Settler's Cafe, where I spent Friday evening with the usual crowd (with the inclusion of Ed and Cheryl and Cara's 3 friends), is quite a cool concept. It's more like a games library where patrons may select a (non-gambling) card or board game to play at their tables while they eat.

These games are not necessarily the Parker Bros variety but other games that do not get that kind of marketing push. There are games with names like "Munchkin" and "Guillotine" which I've not heard of. We started with "Dragon Delta," a game of building bridges across a span of water in order for your token to get across to the other side. It has rules similar to the familiar team-building game of using "planks" to cross a river, but with more strategy as the player's objective is to be the first to complete the crossing. On request, a cafe staff member will sit at your table to explain the rules of an unfamiliar game.

Can't comment on the food as I didn't eat, but if you are ordering a float, you have to remind them you just want the ice-cream with your coke; and NO ice. Cara left early so I took her ice-cream which came with the set she ordered (there seems to be a pattern developing here). After eating we proceeded on to the EL Dept's favourite games, "Taboo" and "Pictionary," 'cos we were already too exhausted from the morning's Open House to learn any more new games with new rules.

Tonight I went to MJ's for dinner. MJ's a great host and she cooked up a storm of pasta for us: Gid, 'sif, Adam, Jas, Yee and me. It was a starter followed by 2 courses of pasta-mania. The starter was a lightly steamed spinach dish topped with an cream sauce made with thinly sliced champignons and scallops. This unusual combination worked because of the similarity in texture of the two ingredients. First course was a baked herb-based shrimp linguini, which had a nicely balanced flavour between the herbs and the shrimp. Second was an enormous platter of tomato-based seafood linguini heaped with mussels and what was probably shelled shrimp. Excellent meal, though MJ may have overestimated our capacity to eat. We were well stuffed already by the time dessert came round. Sliced mango, pomelo segments and Häagen-Dazs lychee ice-cream. Mmm... (though ice-cream was a bit sweet).

Nice meeting MJ's mom and sis too. Quite a well-behaved dinner, and quite a change from our usual style. Thanks, gal!

Friday, October 15, 2004

My worst fears were realized at the KTV contest this afternoon. I don't know where to put my face now. I tried my best to practice and rehearse my song over the last week or so, and I thought I had it down pat. I was fine yesterday, though Amy said I needed a more exciting delivery. Then this morning, as I ran it through my head again, I lost the tune! It kept coming out flat, and I knew it. Nerves, anxiety, whatever, and everyone else was turning in pretty good performances too. They sang in tune, inflected, presented with confidence and even when the KTV machine broke down from time to time, contestants could still sing acapella to quite an awesome degree.

I was the last contestant, and considering the acts I had to follow, I think I lost it on stage. My opening 2 lines came out flat, as I had been rehearsing all morning, wrongly of course, and even between verses, I kept pitching inconsistently sometimes high, sometimes low. I knew I had to do something drastic or the contest will end on a truly sour note. I couldn't do that to Jong Yann, could I? So I did what I said I wouldn't do. I played it for laughs. And, boy, did they laugh. I hope the J1s will remember me as the guy who made them laugh instead of the guy KTV'd worse than Bill Hung.

A memory I must exorcise. *resolves to do much better next time -- it won't be difficult.

Oh, you want results?
3rd place: Amy
2nd place: Chong Meng (math dept)
1st place: Cara!!!
(OK lah, Cara's voice is mellow and under control, the kind of voice people like to listen to while nursing a good cognac. Now she's got a trophy to display on her desk too).

Invited to Settler's Cafe tonight for coffee and boardgames. Stand by for review...

Edit 01:
There seems to be a slight discrepancy in audience size at the KTV contest. The day before, I failed to comprehend that the tutors will sing after all the student contestants have had their turn and not after the student audience had left. The whole of the JC1 cohort (or what was left of it) was present to witness my >ahem< performance.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

We might be taking this KTV contest a bit too seriously now. This is the first time I've seen a contestant list for a Mandarin KTV contest, half of which is populated by the English Dept, including yours truly. Jong Yann's done a great job of recruiting a rather unusual mix of staff across departments, but as the big day is coming closer -- tomorrow, actually -- she's looking increasingly stressed out. What's Mandarin for, "Relax, girl!"?

We went in for a quick rehearsal this afternoon, then the bombshell dropped. We'll only be performing after the students have been dismissed. Hey, here we are about to embarrass ourselves in public with our nan2 ting1 accents, but noone's going to watch us do it? I can identify with the Player in Ros & Guil when the two disappeared in the middle of the Tragedians' performance. The regular person is going to be relieved, no doubt, that the pressure of performing in front of a 'live' audience is off, but the performer feels a bit let down.

Nvm. When it was my turn at the mike, I discovered to my horror that I had brought my Jewel case but left my disk at home. Mr Blur strikes again. So I mumbled off 4 lines of chorus acapella and that was about enough for me. Not satisfied with our rehearsal, Vince, Cara and I converged on Amy's to use her (parents') KTV machine. Amy kindly drove me home to grab my disk first, then we had a late lunch with Q-tip at the coffee-shop downstairs before heading back to her place.

Evening found me and June at Sky Captain ATWOT, a boy's comic book fantasy with giant robots, transformable technology, ray guns and sky and sea battles, all set in the period when comic books started to appear in the US. Everything, including the storyline, is campy and retro so expect improbabilties at every turn. The movie is designed with the same comic book style, well, maybe more like a graphic novel. Flat lighting makes the actors look 2 dimensional to match the CGI they perform in front of. The CGI looks like water-coloured backgrounds with slightly washed out colours and blurry edges. Beautiful visuals in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that most screen elements aren't 'real' to begin with.

The relationship between Captain and Polly is a complicated one. They are constantly bickering with and bitchin' at each other and they remind me of a non-couple I know who share a somewhat similar relationship. Heh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

We offically bade farewell to the Class of '04, whom I will remember with much fondness though I didn't exactly show this when we finally dismissed them this morning. I realise I may have made a mistake in not having a private venue for "famous last words" with them and what I wanted to say was instead lost in the perfunctory distribution of personal records and parting momentoes. Strange. Even my farewell address on behalf of the Arts faculty was a "safe," vague, over-general piece of waffle that masked the issues that I really wanted to address.

I know you read my entries online, but that's no excuse for not properly saying a personal "goodbye" to you exclusively as a CT. It's the coward's way out as there's nothing like hearing the spoken word in person to judge the veracity of that which is spoken. When I needed to, I failed to gather my thoughts and speak, too distracted with too many things going on, too overwhelmed with the end of things, too overawed by the new beginning of things, and numbed by it all. But even I have to get used to the fact that the Eagle's Nest is now suddenly empty, and a new breed of chicks are arriving in the spring.

The JC experience is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things. 2 years is the shortest length of time a student spends in any academic institution around here and as such JC really is a transient affair; only a preview of things yet to come. Yet because of the age at which you come under our charge, whatever you learn and whatever skills you acquire are going to have a major impact on whatever else you do with the rest of your lives. Like it or not, you were the elite of your 'O' level cohort and we hope you've survived your elite training even though you may not feel your eliteness right now, considering your final test is still just ahead.

In reality, we don't teach subjects -- we simply give you options. And we train you to see and make options for yourself. Thus, you should never be in a position in which you chose a course of action because you had "no choice." It's the most miserable of existences to live with "no choice" as an excuse for something stupid you might have done, and it's the biggest mistake anyone can make. Whatever happens in your lives from now, let it happen as a result of an option you exercised rather than be led around by the nose all the time. Make things happen, people.

Most importantly, maintain your friendships at all cost. They, above all, are what kept you sane through this surreal period of your lives, and they will see you through even more surreal periods of adult life ahead. We human beings are social creatures that thrive on cooperation in order to stay competitive in this big scary old world. I was telling the truth about being jealous that you share a special friendship with each other that I will never be a part of. Eighties, your social dynamic has always facinated me. There's a movie waiting to be made of your exploits in time to come, I'm pretty sure of it.

What do your teachers want of you? We know that at your level of academic training, it is entirely likely that in not too many years from now, we just might be addressing you as, "Sir," "M'am," "Your Honour," or perhaps even, "Your Excellency." It will be our proudest moment when we do, yet at the same time we hope that when you become a decision-maker at such a level, you'll make the right decisions for everyone (particularly us!). And even if you don't reach such a calibre, we want to be assured that you are at least able to make the right decisions for yourself as a socially mature, responsible adult.

Not too much to as for, is it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The past 3 days' postings don't count. I feel like I've been on a long vacation and I'm a bit disoriented now that I'm back.

Indulged in spending more money on Watson over the weekend and reloading him with all the programs I am used to having at a finger's touch. Hopefully, his new hard drive will hold out longer than the old one, and with twice the capacity (80 gigs) I won't have to worry about having space for my games for a while.

Games. The Burb family is totally wiped out and I'll restart their soap opera again soon. NFS:U, gone and I'll have to rebuild my 'pearlescent' yellow Bengmobile again from scratch. Doom 3, what can I say? I'm feeling the effects of my age quite acutely. Doom 3 is gorgeous, but I confess I can't play for long owing to the motion sickness I quickly develop as I trudge through the framerates of Mars Base. If I ever want to get an MC, I'll just play for a couple of hours and I'm good to go. And it'll be a genuine illness too. Then while I'm chillin' out at home I can play more Doom 3 to pass the time and there we have a truly viscious cycle that'll go on ad nauseam, literally.

I'm avoiding my immediate task at hand -- preparing tomorrow's farewell address to our Seniors on behalf of the Arts Faculty. I'm supposed to work with Mark (sci-fac staff rep) so we don't talk at cross-purposes, but neither of us have had the time to meet even though we knew this was coming from a long way off already. We might have called our joint address the "Mark and Min(dy) Show" but I guess it wasn't to be.

When you feel you're performing to other people's expectations, that's when anxiety sets in and you're paralyzed. Too many people have told me how much they're looking forward to what I have to say, or that they expect me to liven up the proceedings, etc., etc., so now I'm at a complete loss as to what I really should say. For a 5 minute address. People want me to be funny, but I don't feel funny. It's a farewell: I'll be lucky just to hold it together and say something without dissolving into tears and embarassing myself in front of everyone. The truth is, I will miss the Class of '04, and that isn't helping my sense of humour one bit.

Sigh. Enough delay. Let's get back to work.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Up and running with a new hard drive, but Watson still seems unstable for some reason. Some programs run slowly and others, like Nero, won't run at all. But at least I can still make quick blog entries.

Bowling practice was hopeless today. There was only Anthony and me as everyone else was busy. Just as well, because we were only allowed a lane for an hour. The place was booked for the rest of the night. I hate time limits as they make me rush each delivery. The bowlers in the right lane next to ours had little sense of etiquette. They kept distracting us by taking their turns to bowl whenever they felt like it even though we might have had already lined up our shots and were ready to deliver. Simple rule: don't bowl when the bowler in either adjacent lane is aiming.

No inspiration + time pressure + rush + distractions = Lousy score (114, 139, 129). Bleeah!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Back online again, though I don't know for how long. I have a hunch it's my hard drive being driven too hard that's causing all this instability.

Seeing as there was an article in yesterday's papers about actress/model Eileen, I was going to write my own expose on when I met her in person, before she became famous, but it became impossible due to Watson's inexplicable behaviour. I still might if anyone's interested.

Hope to be blogging properly again real soon. Stand by...!
This is absolute crap!

Watson's gone all screwy again. Had to format C: and reinstall Win XP AGAIN! Something is causing this instability and now I think it's hardware. Now, how am I going to trace what the problem is?

Too angry to make a proper entry. For the record, I'm pissed!