Saturday, August 06, 2005

Just got back from using our "Pagoda Street" comps which came down to me via the P who had another engagement on tonight.

Apparently, this musical -- set in a row of 3 shophouses in Singapore -- won quite some acclaim when it debuted in London, according to the press releases reprinted in the programme sheets. Guess the Singapore crowd is a little harder to please, particularly when the many stock characters are so familiar to us already having been done to death by other local theatrical professionals.

The Ah Beng and his "teh" (for want of a better word) girlfriend; the Indian barber and his Bollywood wife; the wise old Malay "jaga" and the high-maintenance conniving, scheming b**ch play out and milk their stereotypes to the hilt. There were times when it was possible to predict what a character would say next simply because we've heard similar cliches many times before. The only non-stereotype was the non-Chinese boy playing the role of a Chinese restaurant towkay. That felt a bit strange. In any case, it must have been very entertaining to a London crowd for whom such a cast was a novelty, but we've seen it all before.

The first act had quite a bit of narrative exposition, perhaps more than necessary. It wouldn't have hurt to let the audience figure things out for themselves through watching the characters interact with each other, though spilling all the beans by the opening number might make for more expedient storytelling.

The stage set begins as 3 distinct shop-fronts on a street. But at the opening of the second act, the Chinese restaurant frontage splits apart to reveal 2 tables, presumably representing the interior of the eatery. The problem was, the other 2 shophouse frontages remained as they were and so the audience could never be sure from that point on which location the action was taking place -- were we on the street? In the restaurant? Towkay's office? Somebody's house? We only had context to go on so we just had to ignore away bits of set that seemed incongruous to the scene. Problematic.

For a Law student, the writer-composer-lyricist-director did a reasonably credible job with his unsubtle in-your-face narrative. It's clear that the cast members were having a great time working together for a worthy cause (proceeds go to a local equestrian-based, not kidney-based charity), and, hey, more power to them for that. But still, although it had pretty good production values, 'Pagoda Street' is still essentially a school play.
Must thank JY for initiating a very pleasant evening. But first, about the college weight room: I was eager to try out the equipment today during the "staff exclusive use" time slot only to find the room locked and deserted. Should'a checked first. The entire PE Dept had gone to camp so there was no one left behind to keep the room open. And I had brought my towel along as well. :( Lena promised it'll be open again next week, so I'll be back.

Anyway, having an unexpectedly free evening, I accepted JY's invitation through Amy to join them at Party World KTV. So June and I dropped in after dinner for a little Social time. Nice to see that this KTV joint keeps its stuff up-to-date (i.e., within the last 3 years or so) with songs from the likes of Good Charlotte, Dido and Natalie Imbruglia -- I got fed up with the selection from the male singers so I didn't mind attempting some women's songs instead even if the subject matter made me sound um... strange, "You couldn't be that man I adore..."

Vince joined us later in the session though too late to do any of his own singing. But we did have supper (dinner for Amy and Vince) at the nearby Dome. Split a generously cheezy, mushroomy Black Forest Ham pizza amongst the 4 (JY went home) of us, and discussed our plans for the NDay hols and some exposition of my anti-social tendencies.

Social: High
Fun: High
Hunger: Full
Sleep: Very Low
Hygiene: Low (hot day, and I haven't had a shower yet!)
Bladder: Full (too much earl grey + water + coke)

'scuse me. Have to take care of the last 3 items right now...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Had some fun posing for college annual shots with my CT. The shot featured here I stole from them. It's a little low-rez but good enough to see what we look like.

Each CT will get a 1-page feature in the college annual including a collage of 5 small group shots rather than a single large group photo. The rationale there is so that we won't have to strain tired old eyes as we search for signs of our glorious past in these dusty tomes of forgotten memories sometime in the future when we're old and grey. This shot then is quite precious as it's one of the few in which we're all in it together.

In other news, my patience has finally paid off! After 6 years of anticipating with bated breath, the pronouncement from on-high is that the weight-training room is operational. In fact, I had happened to walk past the room a couple of days ago and noticed that the once empty room is now full of brand new complicated-looking devices of muscular torment, begging to be used. Price of entry: have a towel handy at all times to wipe your own sweat off the benches and other equipment as and when necessary.

Staff get exclusive use of the facility every Friday from 1700-1900. That will be yet another reason for us to stay late on campus. Must go check it out tomorrow. Ooh, the possibilities...!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's one of those days where I need to be in 3 places at the same time. Everything happens on a Wednesday afternoon and it's a matter of trust for me that those who go in my place will make things happen the way they are supposed to.

First, I should be with the tour group to Tekong, but I couldn't so I sent 'Statesman' instead. Yesterday, I was quite proud of myself for experimenting with non-conscription and getting some reasonable results from it. A whole bus-load of sign-ups to me was an encouraging indication that the new LJ scheme was going well. Yet today, I want to do unspeakable things to the 10-12 kids who stood me up. Instead of a full busload, only just more than half showed up by departure time, the rest having conveniently "changed their minds."

It's one thing to be "voluntary," I didn't put a gun to anyone's head to sign up; but once a name's on the sign up sheet it's a committment to see the event through; it's undertaking of personal responsibility, and yet the kids simply renege on their agreement, taking their dishonour so lightly. Their dishonour? What about MINE? I gave my word that I would send a busload (already far short of my original allocation) but because of their convenience I could in reality send far less than I promised. That makes me a liar, and I'm thoroughly pissed about that.

The self-motivated LJ depends on the honour system in order to work. I'm going to have to instill some honour in the kids because it's clear to me that they damn well need it. Well, there is a procedure for this kind of thing. Let's get the wheels turning...

Place #2: I should be with the Drama kids as they rehearse for next week's N Day celebrations. I should be with them as they sort out who is going to be in the Celebrate Drama event this weekend and what they are going to do for it. I should be with them as they rehearse for their MU debut in the coming weeks. But because I have so many other things on my plate, Fran, club pres., has to take care of these things for me. So because of my absence from Drama Club these last couple of weeks, I'm out of touch with things and I'm insecure and confused, especially since Tina needs the participants' details immediately and I'm like... wth's going on?

Where was I this afternoon? Having my last class at SMU for the New Subject. It was basically a summary of what we had covered over the last 3 weeks in building a toolbox of logic for ourselves and our kids next year. Mark suggested conducting formal debate sessions and how to minimize free-loaders in group-based term-papers and presentations. He asked us how we might go about teaching logic and critical thinking now we've been through this course and for me, I'm going to have to teach myself the stuff first -- practice using the tools myself first before I inflict them upon my students next year. The logic tools are new, weird and unfamiliar to me and I'm going to be pretty ham-fisted with them, so, NBS, watch out!

I also noticed during tea-break that I still am having major problems socializing with the other course participants. I haven't got the urge to talk to anybody, and I suppose I've got the kind of face that nobody wants to talk to anyway. If NBS isn't conversing with me, my feet want to take over and explore the rest of campus until break is over. Or I just get very busy with my snacks or coffee and ignore everybody else. I thought I'd outgrown this behaviour already but I guess not, huh? I wonder if that's a symptom of autism?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I have initiated a new approach to JC Learning Journeys. Instead of tutors selecting tours of local social institutions and infrastructure for their students from an 'approved' list, I've freed up the system so that students select their own tours and activities, inform their tutors of their intentions and it's left to me to make the bookings and other administrative details on their behalf. God help me, what have I done? I'm now wearing yet another hat -- travel agent -- and I thought I was busy enough as it was.

What's invigorating about this development is that the students are getting excited about the possibilities of what they can do and learn and a few inquiries have started trickling in already. It'll be interesting to see how this idea will sustain itself; whether after the initial euphoria the usual apathy and cynicism sinks back into the student body and we will have to resort to conscription again; or if the students really take their independence and responsibility seriously and properly plan an activity the whole civics group will enjoy and find meaningful. We'll see, won't we?

Most likely, mass activities will become harder and harder to organize. Tomorrow's JC1 visit to Tekong, for example. I initially offered it to the first 6 civics groups to sign up, but none bit. So I threw it open to any individual or small group within the JC1 student population to just sign up if interested, no compulsion. Result: about 40 signed up, all of their own volition, and though the number is only a third of the spaces allocated to us, I decided against conscription to make up the remaining numbers or risk losing credibility as the revolutionary who freed up LJs on campus (and gave himself a new job in the process), ahem.

And now the evening news:
We congratulate Amy on the purchase of her fiery red Maxim bowling ball, bright orange polish cloth, deep blue bowling shoes and jet black carrier bag. Now the team is complete, everyone having made a financial commitment to improving our game. She has to get used to the increased weight of her personal ball now -- an 11-pounder, same weight as mine -- it's throwing her off a bit, but by the end of our game and after a couple of adjustments to the thumbhole, she seemed to be getting the hang of the swing and posted a decent pinfall. Amy, welcome to a new level of competition, no, make that competitiveness. Next target... how about NBS?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Momo caught in the act. Naughty girl! Posted by Picasa

Q-tip wears a new fashion accessory, just bought at the SKC Dog Show at the Expo today. Posted by Picasa
As I look back on the last week, I notice that from my first bad joke of last Sunday the whole week has been dark and negative. The end of the week was an unprecedented culmination of increasingly worse to terrible news until Saturday night when I decided to just crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and just sleep. It was only 2300, far from my usual beddy-byes time but I couldn't take much more. Even the Big Dumb Guy had the fates conspire against him -- I had completed "Half-Blood" by then so that was also last week's news to me.

As we begin a new week, I sincerely hope the cloud has passed and summer is bright and full of promise again, as it should be. As far as I know, there's only 1 major crisis to forsee disaster in but, hey, that's par for the course for me.

Perhaps I began this week on the right foot. Morning service brought in a special guest, Mrs E Choy. She spoke to us about the dark and terrible days she had to endure with the "Secret Police" during WW2. As I understand from her story, they really worked her over with some nasty torments, from beatings to exerting excruciating pressure on her knees to electrical current (in the presence of her beloved spouse who was likewise tortured in front of her) in a vain attempt to extract information which the couple never had in the first place. But what was probably worse for her was her simply being locked in a cell with 15 other prisoners day and night for 193 days not being allowed to move or communicate with anyone. The boredom would have driven anyone completely nuts; I know I can't sit still for long myself.

Ok, that doesn't sound very positive, but the fact is, she survived and is still hale and hearty and sound of mind till today, a ripe old 95 years of age. And what preserved her during those dark days and beyond was her simple, dogged faith in God; even to the extent of freely granting forgiveness to her torturers when they faced the War Crimes Tribunal at the war's end. She blamed the war, not the men themselves for what happened to her. A most positive, possibly most healthy outlook, I suppose, though not everyone can be that strong.

We begin Sunday with a note of hope, so here's looking to a much brighter week ahead. May it be so for everyone!