Saturday, August 05, 2006

Edit 01:
Attended our first ever film festival this evening: a triple-bill of short films shot by the kids themselves, apparently without help or advice from anyone who might have known anything about filmmaking. That, I believe. The experience was painful. I usually try to be more tolerant of kids' work, but they went and made this event public, so to me it's a free-for-all.

How many cuts does it take to get a girl to walk from the end of her driveway and into her front door? The continuity is no doubt smooth, flawless even; but as the opening sequence, it sets the tone for a tedious succession of slide-show images that the film does indeed comprise. There's so little movement it's a waste to capture it on video.

12 minutes of someone waiting for someone else to show up but doesn't. It's ok to make the protagonist wait, but it's unforgivable to make the audience wait with him. Even a tiny payoff, like say a glimpse of the cute Japanese-speaking girl who leaves "don't wait for me" messages on the protagonist's answering machine would be something, but no such luck. Instead, the audience is treated to a final shot of a pedestrian-crossing's countdown timer counting to zero. It's like we're just waiting for the movie to come to an end, and so relieved are we when it eventually does. A tip: have lots of things happen to the protagonist while he's waiting, so the audience is entertained, though none of these things is what he's waiting for. Ultimately, he can be disappointed, but your audience should never be.

In-house band performance:
Please, less idle chit-chat with the audience, and more music. Die-die also must get a monitor so the guy on vocals can hear himself sing. Learn to attack the music, especially since you're playing Green Day and Bon Jovi stuff, otherwise it's all just falls flat quickly.

Highlight of the evening. I never imagined the malaise of the long blackout would ever infect the genre of film, but it happened. Several narrative bits over a completely black screen drove me nuts in my seat.

The dialogue is minimal and inconsequential, many scenes cutting themselves short before any dramatic point can properly develop. In close-up shots the script drives the characters away from the camera too quickly, whereas what looks like promising lines of dialogue are taken in long-shot and either voiced over by yet another irrelevant narration or covered over by background music.

The film suffers from having too many locations, making the audience work overtime trying to figure out where the characters are. Lots of scenes were taken on campus so the backgrounds may be quite familiar to us, but an outsider would have given up a long time ago. The audience should at least be able to sense a rough map of the location, but with locations whimsically jumping all over the place we're just hopelessly lost.

Lights. Very poor lighting choices. Characters' faces are so often in shadow, it's hard to distinguish who's who. After a while, we don't care any more.

These guys are very good with the camera equipment, and very good with the technical aspect of post-production. Drama Club has the talent and possibly the vision for shooting a good story. Dare I suggest, barring pride, prejudice and parochialism, a collaboration for next year?
Look what June left for me before taking off on her Aussie vacation.

I discovered this new stash, neatly arranged and concealed under the comforter. It took me a while to realize that the arrangement had a particular shape to it, but it wasn't long before I introduced myself to Mr Snackinbed.

Now I feel like a cannibal.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The college alumni arranged an informal chat session for our JC1 student leadership and the 2 newly elected MPs who are also college alumni. Coincidentally, the 2 were students in the same year, though they never met each other on campus before.

Arriving in non-standard t-shirt and jeans, they showed they intended to keep the session as comfortably informal as possible. It was nice that they chatted about their experiences as students in college and traced their separate paths towards local politics. They were emphatic about their preference for CCA activities rather than their academics, and in fact it was through working on their own projects that they developed the confidence to take on more and more responsible leadership roles.

They used their own personal anecdotes to explain how our grassroots democracy works, and that despite their own youthful dissenting voices, the political leadership was willing to listen to them and gave them a chance to put their proposals for improvements to the community into action. Today, because they were successful in their follow-through, they were invited to become part of the political leadership themselves.

So today, they have become The Man. But at least this incarnation seems more approachable, more consultative and less know-it-all dictatorial than before. They present a more "we are all in the same boat" leadership style as opposed to the "swab the decks, ye swabs, 'cos I'm the cap'n, an' what I says, goes" approach that we've come to expect from members of our dominant political party. They did, however, occasionally slip into repeating some tired old cliches, e.g., "Singapore is unique...," "we must be prepared to face the challenges ahead...," "Singapore is a small country..." But they did seem to genuinely want to engage rather than nag, which made today's dialogue more lively than we had anticipated.

Meantime, June left for Sydney, Australia today. She'll be there for a week on her company's annual incentive tour (i.e., corporate all-expenses-paid vacation). And my bed's full of consumables again. Heh.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What a smack in the face for our proud, grand institution of Education. Wake up and smell the coffee, 'cos apparently corporate society doesn't want people with academic smarts any longer. Nope. Higher education, in fact, is becoming increasingly a liability for those of us inclined towards, as students like to say in their essays on education, "getting a good job." Employers are now looking for people who have the skills to attract people, hold their attention, interact with them, and -- above all -- can have a great time with anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyhow. This cynically astute observation appeared in TIME Magazine, online version here.

In corporate America, the mugger-toad with his nose in a book, and speaks in proper grammar when he finds both the occasion and the courage to say something, will live and die under the rock he never crawled out from. Good riddance, too!

Fortunately (or unfortunately?), we live in the rest of the world alongside the "Chinese and Indian brainiacs." Waitaminnit, we ARE the "Chinese and Indian brainiacs!" So let's not give up on studying yet, ok? And in any case, whoever said that education is only meant to prepare students for employment?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Been re-reading Blackfoot Physics, and I found an anecdote describing a familiar classroom scenario. I could identify with both points-of-view: the teacher's and the students.

The story's a bit lengthy, and I don't have the author's permission, but I'll put the excerpt here for downloading anyway. Click.

Sometimes, I wonder if traditional ways were indeed the best?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hung out for a couple of hours at Serene Centre yesterday. It's easy become quite enamored with the place. It's as comfortable as my living room, only mall sized.

For a small mall, it has everything I like: comics, toys and collectibles, books, PC and other platform games, ice-cream, and a McD's for a quick nosh. Even the supermarket stocks US brands imported from the US and not their Indonesian, Thai or Korean equivalents.

Wanna psychoanalyze me? See what's going in my mind? Just walk around Serene Centre. You get the idea pretty fast.

And in a couple of hours, June will be home! Better toddle off to warm up M2...