Saturday, February 10, 2007

The pix for last night's show are up on Flickr. They've been shot by NYconneX journo, Khadija and friend, who did quite a good job capturing the excitement of the evening. Notice what I mean about performers not finding the light. Click here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tonight was the big musical talent show on campus. We had some very game contestants and a hopelessly partisan audience, who showed their unreserved support for their favourites, no matter what.

While the audience will always remember the judges' comments as truthful but insensitive (and that's not really my story to tell), for me I was looking at the overall presentation of the show, and I think another week's preparation and rehearsal time was necessary if we were to give everyone a fighting chance to win.

A week's prep would give time for the contestants to get advice on their performance and to get some stage experience, instead of just being handed a mike and shoved onstage to sing in front of a highly animated crowd. As it is, the performer's energy has to top the audience's otherwise it can get quite intimidating there on stage.

1 week and those of us staff with some performing experience might have had the time to give the contestants a few pointers that would up their stage-presence and confidence a little.

So performing cold, they made rookie mistakes like not finding the light, being stiff and unsure of their gestures and traffic patterns, hiding their faces, turning their backs to and/or retreating from the audience, and so on. My usual bugbears. Though these aren't things that our audience would actually pay attention to, I admit, a show needs time to polish in order to showcase its talents as best as it can.

And as usual, the opening and closing of the curtains between each contestant drove me nuts, sitting there in dead-air time. Frequent blackouts suck the energy right out of the stage and the inertia they leave behind makes it difficult to build the excitement for what's supposed to be onstage. No one likes to sit in the dark for too long.

Unsurprisingly, the one with the most performing experience won, hat's off to him. But the others never really had the chance to close the gap even a little. The talent was there, but time wasn't on their side, at least for this competition.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

ST's cover page honours S'pore women documentary film-makers. It tells of how courageous and adventurous our women are, shooting stories in uncertain, exotic locations around the world. Their work is of such high standards that if they aren't up for some award, some big-name distributor wants to screen their films, and their audience reach is continuing to grow.

One reason for their success is because they are "patient" with their stories, often looking at the softer side of how people deal with the practical concerns of their particular situation. They are able to gain the trust of their subjects, and tell their subjects' stories without running a personal agenda of their own.

I quote from ST, "This trait of giving voice to the unheard and marginalised, the forgotten and neglected, is something that recurs in the women's work." Something I have to impress on my own journos at NYconneX.

And then, on the same page, there's another story of another aspiring documentary film-maker shooting in another strange and unfamiliar location, using creative camera techniques to capture a difficult subject. For his passion, this medical professional gets fired from the hospital he works for.

A case of intolerant Management? Rampant sexism in the workplace? Well, if this guy is dumb enough to get caught using a hidden camera to shoot his female colleagues in the shower, what do you expect?

Men. It's a wonder our women still put up with us the way they do.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Put on one more new hat today. Because of the college's big upcoming shindig, someone had to mail out all 13,000 invitations to our guests. So we packed 29 crates of invites into Gerald's tiny van, and with me in the cargo compartment and Boss-lady riding shotgun, we drove off to the big post office in Paya Lebar to get our bulk posting done.

With the unsecured crates sliding unpredictably around my delicate person, it was a bit hair-raising as we bumped towards our destination.

The bulk mail section is so unlike the civilized regular mail side of the post office. It's a place of motorized raising platforms and pallet trolleys, and big, friendly deliverymen who informed us that the bay we parked in was for the BIG trucks and that was why we couldn't get the raising platform to work for our dinky toy van. Another stout fellow showed us how to assemble a large trolley that looked like a cage on wheels into which we loaded our mail, crate by crate.

Among all the machinery, muscles and men, I was feeling way out of my element. Bet there were eyes on me thinking, "white-collar trash". And then, humiliation of humiliations, the guy at the counter wouldn't process our mail because despite there being three of us, no one brought our college's rubber stamp to make our transaction official.

Stupid, can't-even-get-it-right, white-collar trash!

Monday, February 05, 2007

And so we mark the demise of the Demented Equine in S'pore. It was an experiment that never really had a chance to succeed and, after less than a year of prancing and high-kicking, it's gone. I can't say I'm surprised.

The sad thing was, someone had thought that bringing underdressed fillies from Paree into stuffy S'pore was a license to print money.

On the surface, it does look like a lucrative venture -- bringing into the market a rare and tempting treat means the entrepreneur should be able to charge the sky for the commodity, and there'll still be a crowd snaking around the block for it anyway. And in S'pore there's nothing rarer than the opportunity to throw off our restrictive taboos without the fear of serious repercussions as a consequence. Unfortunately, this show just wasn't of the sort to break the piggy bank for.

First, the show didn't know what it actually wanted to be. It purported indecency by S'pore standards, and yet sold itself as an aesthetic experience, which literally whitewashed over the taboos our potential audience might have wanted to ogle break in the first place. No taboo, no product. No product, no consumer. Simple.

Conversely, if there's no chance of getting into trouble, there's no point to breaking a taboo anyway. Strike two.

Admission was too prohibitively expensive for the audience who might actually have wanted to go see the show, aesthetics be damned. A ticket to a Chinatown movie house is way cheaper and promises more excitement anyway, so there's no incentive for the old guys with umbrellas to move their tastes up a notch because they're already quite satisfied where they are. And they're just the offline market, 'nuff said.

The show did not have the critical mass that it had in Paree. Here, it had 1) no competitors to constantly keep it sharp and fresh, and 2) neighbours that provided neither complementary nor relevant products or services; making it 3) stand out like a sore thumb awaiting a mercy amputation, which has finally occurred.

Ultimately, the show that promised thrills for the multitudes of deprived S'poreans (and equally depraved regional tourists) only turned out to be a freak show -- which might have worked if they actually did show freaks. Instead all that was on display were gorgeous, talented, coordinated, articulate(d) human beings who ruined the show, and the box office, for everyone.

A nugget of Hokkien business wisdom succinctly and graphically sums up the state of our market: ai chee, ai pee, ai tua liap nee, which loosely translated means, "stupid customer, you can't have everything!"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Call me a fair-weather fan. After all, so many of us are when it comes to S'pore soccer. I caught tonight's cup final match on the one hand to see how our boys would fare under international pressure, and on the other to see if the game would degenerate into an international incident 'live' on TV. Fortunately, the only excitement remained confined to the pitch, and no more.

Watching our team play still doesn't give me much confidence, even though they were resilient enough to struggle past Malaysia in a hard-fought semi. We were still scrappy, unable to hold possession of the ball, slow to move forward and lack an imaginative midfield layer. Not particularly impressive.

We won tonight's game simply because our opponents couldn't capitalize on their chances at goal, while we happened to knock one in right against the run of play. Taking nothing away from Amri, but his goal was more a flash of personal brilliance than it was a team effort. And while that's all that counted in this game, the team really has to gel better together if we really want to move up the international rankings [Ed. Ok, lighten up, We won!].