Saturday, April 18, 2009

Home alone

Urm, I was gonna pretty up this entry with pix of Q-tip with her new haircut, Maui watching TV, and the lovely steak I had for dinner, but I procrastinated a tad too long. Now my cam is on its way to the airport, accompanying June to Beijing. Yes, I've been left to my own devices again for about a week. I've stocked up on provisions so I'm not likely to starve, and the laundry's done so I should continue to smell nice, at least for the next few days.

How is a guy gonna survive without the civilizing influence of a woman's proximity? In this experiment, we're about to find out. Stay tuned...

Friday, April 17, 2009

For one night only

The annual Chinese drama night has taken a big step forward this year in terms of staging choices and overall presentation.

Tonight, in the first play, we saw a more efficient use of performance space, sectioning off different parts of the stage to represent different locations, thus avoiding long, unnecessary blackouts while transitioning between scenes.

The second play was more stylized. The set utilized movable blocks of different sizes for a versatile set that easily transformed to create different moods and locations. Movement in this piece was more tightly choreographed than the previous piece, which tended towards a more realistic presentation. The second piece also made good use of heights and levels, a little dance movement, and also delivered an interesting, textured soundscape -- a combination of music and rhythms -- that worked for both realistic and abstract scenes.

The plots were straightforward enough for me to understand most of what was going on, at least through observing the situation. The dialogue was not simple TV-grade Mandarin, but rather some higher level language that went clear over my head. Must thank Amy and B-lo for helping me past the more esoteric bits, though there weren't really that many.

Apart from watching the performance, I was also taking note of the lighting equipment and the effectiveness of the condensers. It'll be NYeDC's turn to go up on stage in only a month's time. Panic stations!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Knowing we've seen it all before

Why do I insist on watching movies about the end of the world? Oh yeah, for the scenes of civilization being destroyed in spectacular fashion, and perhaps for the glimmer of hope that we can somehow overcome, avert or avoid the inevitable.

In the case of "Knowing", there are indeed some truly vivid depictions of disasters complete with a few disturbing visuals of being right in the midst of it all while people are dying in quite horrible ways all aound us. That itself should be worth the price of admission, but we've seen it all before already -- in the trailer!

Ok, so the trailer does not cover every single aspect of the movie but I daresay everything I wanted to view, I could have got it off the trailer, for free. The bits that were not in the trailer, well, let's just say they didn't add much more -- except maybe a little unnecessary hokeyness -- to an already predictable plot.

There's an attempt to draw out a debate between Determinism and "sh*t happens" randomness, but it seems like a convenient placeholder for upping the philosophical ante of the movie, and it didn't sustain.

Oh well, nice concept, but not quite my cup of tea.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not exactly rapt attention

It's probably my own fault I had to destress this afternoon. I've been working on a little presentation for today's address to the JC2s that we Inno people (Kev, et al) were responsible for. We? I mean, me. Not that they didn't offer help, but I took it upon myself to deliver the oration because I could not get another speaker to fill the slot like I said I could. Penance. The speaker I did get is for a later date, not today, in case you're wondering.

I've lectured before, to groups of about 120-150, but this was the first time I faced the whole JC2 cohort, all 700+ of them. Did I really have anything to say that could hold their attention for 40 minutes or so? It was something I've been fretting over the past week, imagining a scenario where I'd be holding a wireless mike in one hand and a can of mace (or a fire extinguisher) in the other to maintain crowd control.

The initial technical problems didn't help ease my nerves, but I finally had my sound and visuals by the second reboot while the crowd murmured around me, anxious to see some action at least for their trouble of hustling to the hall.

But I've been selling my audience short. When we got started, they did rather seem politely interested. It wasn't exactly rapt attention, but it wasn't the riot I'd been fearing either.

A couple of things that most likely worked in my favour: I held a wireless mike and walked in the midst of my audience, randomly shooting off a question, shoving the mike at a convenient face and expecting a response. No one really wanted to attract my attention and my mike, so there were no outstanding individuals in the crowd. The other thing was to constantly vary the sensory input, letting a few short video clips take up about half my time while I spent the rest stitching together a plausible narrative linking the clips together along with the other media (news clippings and websites) I used in my show-and-tell.

I think overall it went well, though I haven't heard the reviews yet. Anyway, the ordeal's over -- for now. And the root beer did wonders for my mood.

Recipe for destress

Recipe for destress: 1 root beer float, well beaten, served neat. And the afternoon off.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is no house, is zoo

Everyone knows I keep four animals in my house, 3 cats and a dog. The addition of the fifth, Mimi, whom I am dogsitting over the weekend has pushed me to my limits.

It's no fun being constantly up to my elbows in poop and pee, every now and then having to spray down the bathroom floor because somebody missed the paper. And even then, sometimes I can't even change the paper fast enough, so I can't really blame the dogs for their inability to make a precision strike when the designated target zone has already been carpet-bombed to saturation.

Bleary-eyed all weekend, I finally got a good night's sleep in my own bed last night. I simply couldn't take my Mimi-induced insomnia any longer. When she started acting up as usual, I got out of bed to give her a sharp swat on her hindquarters and plonked her back into her sleeping basket. Not a peep out of her after that, and I got a solid five hours.

Now to get the house ship-shape for June's return tonight. All evidence of my decadent bachelor lifestyle must be eradicated. Rhumba is hard at work as we speak.