Saturday, February 18, 2006

Spent the evening at SRT watching "She Chose," a double-bill of 2 female-driven plays by NTU's Hall 15. I was there to support Mei, who, despite having been in the cast of The Odyssey only "for the SYF points," is so far the only one in that group who has taken on a major role in another stage production since, as far as I know.

This production had "amateur" stamped all over it. In general, the most irritating device was the interminably long blackouts between scene changes, sometimes lasting longer than the previous scene even. The other thing was the background music that looped non-stop even while the characters were speaking.

Both plays focused on the female cast: the male actors were only there for their female counterparts to act around. The males played fools, idiots, and bizarre nutcases; no one real; whereas the women at least got roles in which they made choices that drove the plot on. Hence, I presume, the title.

The first play, "Love Edifice," was inconsistent between scenes. It sort of alternated between concrete, abstract and (somewhat self-indulgent) multimedia. It opened with an elaborate wedding procession, the only point of which was to tell us that a couple got married. In the couple of scenes in which the men and the women told the audience how they classified the opposite sex, there was a lot of posing according to the speaker's description, but the movement served mostly to distract from rather than enhance the text. The multimedia slideshow portrayed the progress of the characters as couples in various stages of matrimony. But this information was already evident from the script, so it really wasn't necessary to rehash it, even if there needed to be an excuse to be fashionable and use multimedia.

"Hungry," the second play, likewise suffered from too-muchness. Almost every character went o-t-t with devised movement and similarly artificial speech patterns designed only to make one character appear different from another.

Even the character of Death maxed out the stage-direction that Death should be "neither masculine nor feminine." But the half-male-half-female costume and make-up suggested that Death was BOTH rather than "neither," a very different meaning altogether. This portrayal made the actor play up his feminine side just to counter the fact that he was male, so Death ended up effeminate instead. Moreover, the gender of Death was never an issue in the story, so the painstaking effort to portray its androgyny failed to make any point whatsoever.

If anything, the director's main fault is that she attempted to do too much of everything everywhere, without considering the payoff to character development and audience satisfaction. But that's a mistake usually made due to inexperience and, perhaps, learning from poor precedents.

Mei, if you're still reading, this is where I talk about you. In an asylum of contrivance and artifice, your character comes across as a perfectly normal, ordinary human being. Major kudos to you for keeping it real. If anyone chose in this performance, you did. You chose the pacing of your lines and movement; your spot-on timing and delivery. Where lighting was patchy, you chose to stand in the light where we could see you.

There were a couple of moments when you spoke with your back to the audience, though, and occasionally you succumbed to peer pressure and likewise went a little o-t-t, but you were in control of your character for the most part. You thought about your character and made yourself become Sarah rather than simply put on an external mask or persona.

Without sounding too biased (I hope) it was your performance I enjoyed most this evening because in that hour, you and Sarah were indistinguishable from one another. So, great job, Mei! Glad I could get to see you backstage, and I hope to see more of you on-stage soon!

Friday, February 17, 2006

One thing I've enjoyed about Friday so far this year is that it's practically the only day of the week that I can drive out to have lunch at the correct time. Technically, I have a 90 minute break but it takes time to organize a feeding party so in practice it's about an hour both to eat and commute to and fro. NBS and I have to be back for afternoon tutorial.

Vince drove today, me riding shotgun, while Amy and NBS tried to make themselves comfortable in the back seat amidst the, um... assorted administrative paraphenalia, spare attire, and other debris and detritus [word of the day: I swore to use it in today's entry, by hook or by crook!] that usually occupy the aforementioned space.

For some reason, all through lunch (at Ivin's btw) I seemed to be continually teasing and needling NBS, and feeling like a little kid again, taking great joy in tormenting a younger sibling, revelling in simply being mean. Guess it was either me taking the opportunity to be childish, or she was just walking around with an illuminated target painted on her back.

Fortunately, she didn't take it to heart. And I felt a bit sorry, so after tutorial I gave her a lift home with civil conversation and no further incident.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

NY conneXions is in the hands of the people, at last! Posted by Picasa

The 'ol rag finally made its debut with a launch party at lunchtime today. We had a couple of soft-rock numbers from a band Ming and May put together; plus the Dance Soc., and Samuel T to pull in the crowd while the D&J members handed out copies to the gathering audience. More pix here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We collected our first print edition of NY-X from the printer late this afternoon. It's finally ready for distribution, on time, as promised, so we can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Then, of course, we wait for the reviews...

The paper isn't 100% perfect, as there are a couple of formatting and typo errors that still managed to slip by our most anal of scans, but I think it's better to be dissatisfied with our work and resolve to show improvement next time around rather than be self-satisfied and become complacent as a result.

This evening, Vince and I arranged to buy Amy a "thank you" dinner for her help in editing and laying out our paper. On the way, after picking up June from work, we found ourselves outside the Esso station on Stevens Road. I stopped for gas and as M2's interior was quite muddy from the weekend's adventures, we went for full-service and got him washed and vacuumed. And a very thorough job it was too. $8 in all, plus an additional $1 for vacuuming the trunk as well.

Met Vince and Amy at Shima Aji, Esplanade. Apparently, nothing makes Amy happier than an offer of raw fish, and this place has an all-you-can-eat sashimi menu, amongst other Japanese buffet dishes. I discovered that regardless of how fresh and tasty it is, there can be a limit to the amount of salmon and tuna sashimi I can actually eat in one sitting. Overate, as usual, and feeling a little bloated now...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Q-tip tries the Gothic look. Posted by Picasa

Not quite the dinner we were hoping for, but it did the job. *burp! Posted by Picasa
Dented my head again. June hid my V-day gift in my pillow -- again -- and it left quite an impact on my cranium as I settled in for the night. When I regained consciousness, I discovered she'd bought me 2 DVDs: "Batman Begins," and "March of the Penguins." How sweet! :)

Decided to have a nice, romantic dinner while we watch the sun set at... Sunset. Busy night for the little airport establishment; 2 cars ahead of me driving into the parking lot, and 1 car right behind. As we were leaving the premises, another 3-4 cars arrived. Of course, the reason why we were leaving was that Sunset is closed Tuesdays. Heedless of the potentially lucrative Valentine's Day possibilities, Tuesday-off means Tuesday-off. I respect the integrity of the proprietor in not taking advantage of the festivities to jack up his prices and fleece the fleeceable, beguile the gullible and rob the hopelessly romantic.

With Q-tip in tow, there are only so many other places we could activate as Plan B. We tried Jerry's, but the outdoor dining area was fully occupied. Plan C: Porridge Culture across the road. Ok, so not quite the dinner we had planned, but it just had to do.

For what it's worth, happy Valentine's to y'all!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Not feeling particularly inspired today. Most of the morning I was on duty advising kids who were trying to decide on signing up for one college or another now that their final grades are out. Ostensibly, my role was to give advice on matters relating to my subjects, but most of the inquiries were simply about whether their exam scores will qualify them for admission to our college.

It’s quite flattering that there are kids who want to apply to us after having experienced a term with some other colleges. But if they only have borderline scores, we can only commiserate with them a bit, and inform them that their postings are solely determined by the Ministry, based on strength of demand, and not by us. We also had to advise a few to be realistic about their commuting distances, besides their academic placement.

4 hours of repeatedly giving this kind of advice to kids and their parents made me numb pretty quickly. I’m thinking, what the heck, y’know, at least at their age, they have a choice about which JC to apply for. At least they qualified. Many other people didn’t.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The girls go shopping again... SKC "Hong Bao" Dog Show '06. Posted by Picasa

Q-tip stares at the shop sign and imagines the possibilities... Posted by Picasa

I'm jus' a l'il dawg. How d'ya expect me to make such decisions? Posted by Picasa

Minister's pre-flag-off spiel. Posted by Picasa

Every car has his accompanying race-queens. Posted by Picasa

M2 gets his first taste of vinyl body artwork. Posted by Picasa

My team, comprising June, me, M2, Vince and NBS. Posted by Picasa

Anthony and gang in the M3. Posted by Picasa
Edit 01:
Saturday began early -- for the chance to win $10k "worth of prizes" in the TD car rally. Not sure if it was the dangling carrot that was our main motivation, but I'm certain that my team looked more forward to spending some quality time with each other, doing stuff we would not normally be doing.

There were 5 stations in all, scattered around the island. As each location represented a different aspect of Total Defence, there were 5 different kinds of activities for us to accomplish. There was a bonus activity: a scavenger hunt for various small articles that added to our overall total.

Station 1 was the NTUC in Marine Parade where we had to buy items for a personal emergency kit without exceeding the cost of the $20 voucher found in our clue package. Here, budget shoppers, June and NBS proved their mettle and we got everything on the list, plus the bonus items as well. Theme: Psychological Defence.

The URA Building was our next destination. Basically a scavenger hunt for information scattered around the numerous exhibits and displays on 3 floors dedicated to the organization's PR dept. We didn't do so well here, only completing about half the quiz paper before time ran out. We could have been better organized as a team, but the exercise was somewhat boring anyway. So much for Economic Defence.

The Civil Defence Training Centre was Station 3. Vince and June aced the CPR exercise, while NBS and I amazed our assessors by putting out the fire in our test pan almost at the instant they started their stopwatches. All I was thinking about was that I really needed to use the bathroom -- fast -- and that somehow translated into a more powerful jet from our extinguisher. Ha ha.

Vince and I were almost a complete washout at SAFTI, though. In the indoor electronic shooting range, he scored 2 out of 35 targets with his M16, while I, with a SAW, got absolute zip. I had always wanted to shoot a SAW ("Guns & Ammo" once billed it as the Best Light-Machine Gun in the World a long time ago) so I jumped at the chance. But looking through the apature immediately dried my eyes and my vision went foggy. So I just pointed the weapon at whatever seemed to be moving and randomly sprayed rounds hoping to hit something. Guess that didn't work. No wonder I'm no longer serving NS. Sigh.

The final station was back at the starting point, ECP. Here we, as a team, had to score as many goals as possible in 120 secs. against a lone defender from the junior squad of the SAF S-league soccer team. Despite the lack of experience amongst half our team members, we still managed to score 2 goals, which was ok, I suppose.

All through the route, we stopped to pick up all kinds of rubbish to complete the long list of side-quest items, but we didn't really put our heart and soul into trying to get every single thing on the list, like Anthony's team did. Learning point: photos or reasonable facsimiles of the objects on the list are just as acceptable as the actual objects themselves. Keep that in mind for next year.

No, we didn't win. But we got some nice souvenirs for participating, including a hydration backpack each. Could be useful for 'blading. Maybe if NBS doesn't want hers she can give it to JY?

Celebrated the end of a long day at Swensen's, J8. Phew.

Woke up at 5am on the floor of the study. Had some pix to upload of Saturday's Total Defence ExplOrally (that's "Explo-rally," not "Expl-orally"), but the day's adventures must have taken quite a toll on me. A short rest to clear my head turned into a 6 hour delta-state affair, in which I had the most bizarre dreams.

Am now famished. Need breakfast. NOW. Pix will follow, perhaps later today.