Saturday, February 06, 2010

NYeDC: New Blood

Am feeling good about NYeDC's recruitment. We've attracted some promising J1s who have had some theatre experience already, so we need not begin from scratch with them like we usually do every year. Here, they're playing a game of Tableaux, in which the kids come up one by one to create a picture based on a particular theme. What do you think the theme for this picture is?

And here's RodO leading a reading of his (now mostly typo-free) script. Mel and I sat through auditions with him and together we made our casting decisions. Looks like we have a strong cast this year. Let's hope they have the discipline and work ethic to match.

Friday, February 05, 2010

My kingdom for a script

Upon pain of death, NYeDC has been charged to perform a comedy in which no one wants to commit suicide and no one wants to murder anybody either. Our club has somehow gained a reputation for OTT emo portrayals of doom and gloom and our principle audience has had enough of it. They want something to laugh at, and not crave to slit their wrists immediately following the denoument. Our director, RodO, has found us a script that fits the bill perfectly.

And now NYeDC is back in competition! Today is the deadline for submitting our registration. The rules say I have to submit a proofread script, approved by the P himself. But the script I submitted was full of typos and some inexplicable changes of gender for the lead character.

It couldn't be helped -- I only got the script emailed over to me the night before and this morning was a rush to juggle classes and P for his stamp of approval, then there was the drive to personally hand the script over to the judging authorities before the deadline. It was a case of getting registered first, and worry about getting scolded for lax proofreading later. At least we're still in the running.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Et tu, ME2

"Mass Effect 2" arrived on the shelves without the fanfare of its illustrious predecessor. No talk of banning the game for perverted sexual content, no appeals committee set up to review and repeal the ban, nothing. And indeed, there is nothing in the game that looks controversial enough to warrant even a raised eyebrow, except the one on the forehead of the most rabid anti-violence militant or repressed pro-celebacy Taleban enforcer. This sequel seems much more careful not to incite the wrath of our censors this time, but has lost a little bit of it's "bad boy" appeal because of it.

But it's still fun to play. What's not to like when your character develops the power to shoot incendiary bullets at enemy targets? Zooming in with the sniper scope reveals said enemy performing an "OMG, I'm on fire" dance, frantically trying to beat out the flames before collapsing into a shower of blackened, powdery particles. Or picking them up with TK powers and slamming them around the room, onto the walls and floor, or dropping them off the edge of a bottomless precipice? Hilarious.

But this isn't to say that the player is all-nigh invulnerable, though. I've died several times too due to successful enemy flanking manouvres catching me in a crossfire or surrounding me in a swarm of melee attackers if I can't put them down fast enough. Or more irritatingly, when an overexcited button push vaults my character over cover instead of ducking behind it. When that happens, I'm directly in the line of fire and then I'm dead in seconds. Bah. Design flaw.

The fun part is to gather a team of badass squaddies, each with their own back stories. In order to unlock their special abilities each of them needs their baggage resolved. Most have problems with either their parents or their children, which seems like an odd collection of problems to solve for such a hardcore bunch. Maybe it's because they weren't loved as children that's why the became such badasses who can't deal with their own children? I dunno.

What's missing is the randomness of battle encounters that the first installment had in spades. Now almost every mission has some purpose towards the immediate goal rather than building up a picture of a universe far larger than the obvious. Most side-quests are of the find-fetch-deliver variety which are mundane at best, and no setting people on fire while we're at it. Meh.

Depending on the player character's selected gender, there are a few teammates that can be flirted with throughout the mission. However out of the many dalliances, the player has to choose only one to complete the romance narrative with. But all that takes place in a blackout between cutscenes, so there's hardly anything to get excited about. Perhaps alien-human pairings are too biologically complicated to animate? Or a parent control lock somewhere I haven't disabled? Or maybe I just have a whitewashed no-controversy S'pore version of the game? Oh, well.

Anyway, I'm just playing ME2 for the story only. Because the choices I made in my playthrough of the previous game persist and even affect the events and relationships I can have in the sequel, it really does feel like being part of a coherent epic story. If I replayed ME with different choices, my ME2 experience would also be different. And so will it be for ME3, whenever that comes out.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


It does not matter that the individual with boots on the ground is constantly evolving, always adapting to changing circumstances; or that the audience is always dynamic in their needs, preferences and levels of engagement, never static. What might have worked for one audience is rarely going to work for another; what didn't work before sometimes when taken back to the shop for tweaking could work wonders for a fresh new audience. An organization that offers such variations year after year means that it must be doing Something right, especially if the variations show a discernible improvement over time.

An organization, on the other hand, cannot accept this "Something" to remain undefined. To the organization, an undefined "Something" is like having an itch it cannot scratch. How will it know to replicate its benchmark-topping successes if there isn't Something to pin down as the Method/Best Practice/Framework/Model or whatever else you might want to call it as the One Key Factor that made it all happen?

Individuals simply adapt, change, survive, and are grateful to simply live to see another sunrise. Change is the only Constant, Luck or lack thereof messes up carefully calculated odds, Sh*t happens; so attempting to attribute certain habits, behaviours or practices with life-preserving qualities is a complete puzzle for the individual to fathom. Nevertheless, that was precisely the exercise for this afternoon's after-school activity.

From our discussions, I came to understand what Corporate was getting at. It didn't really matter what all our disparate individuals were doing on the ground, whether we were lighting lamps or filling empty vessels or saving starfish or dodging bullets or fighting fires. What Corporate wants is for all of us individuals to provide the same answer, sing the same tune, dance the same dance to the same piper's tune if and when someone asks Something about our organization. That's all.

Now it has just become clear why the answer to "life the universe and everything" is "42". As long as everyone in the organization agrees that the answer is "42", "42" IS and henceforth shall ever be the answer.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Dogsitting Mimi

While the Wongs have been away on their short trip to HK, I've been dogsitting Mimi as per our usual arrangement.

Having taken care of her for a week, it's become painfully apparent that she's aged quite a bit. On walkies, her gait is much slower than it used to be, and she certainly isn't as excitable as she once was. She's also gone quieter, with things that go on around her passing with scant notice and even at home she's no longer barking for attention 'cos most of the time she's just sleeping. She takes her meds with no fuss either (yes, having to take meds is another sign of ageing).

She has indeed mellowed out over the years. So she's been such a good girl to look after for a week, no trouble at all. Wonder if we human beings generally age this gracefully?

Monday, February 01, 2010

What happens at stag

Oops. I seem to have generated some unhealthy interest in last Saturday's post. Apparently, I've broken some unspoken taboo. What happens at stag, should stay at stag. Pardon my indiscretion. :X

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A change of menu

Just when June had begun to see a pattern after being married for ten years... whenever we visit my parents on the weekend for dinner, it's always the same thing on the menu. Steamed chix, steamed pomfret, roast pork purchased off the shelf, stir-fried towgay, and either a canned Campbell's whatever or fresh spinach soup, in more or less that combination.

To be honest, meals aren't my family's forte. Sure, even when growing up our meals were hot, fresh, probably nutritious too, but they weren't exactly "Omg, you've gotta try this!!!" on the Michelin star scale. Probably explains why as kids we ate so little, and it still took us a long time to shovel down what little we had too.

Anyway, just when June had detected a pattern in the way our weekend dinners were repeating themselves, today there was a sudden change in the menu. Mom had discovered Fassler Gourmet and suddenly we had a spread of sashimi salmon, US scallops, and satay (not from Fassler). It was a whole new taste sensation!

And June, well... she missed dinner 'cos she's in HK. Oh, well.

Vince's stag

Just got back from Vince's stag party. The plan was to accompany him as he indulged his fave Saturday night passion: supporting Liverpool on the TV.

We chose a big screen for him -- at the atrium of the Rendezvous Hotel. But the match was boring, and despite it being advertised as the gathering place for the "Official Liverpool F.C. Fan Club" for tonight's EPL clash, the atmosphere was a far cry from Anfield.

By the end of the first half, we'd already drained our glasses and gnawed every chix wing we ordered and we were outta there. CHIJMES next, but here there was too much of a crowd, already well settled in and occupying all the tables in front of the big screens.

However, without the distraction of the big game, we were able to execute our primary objective for the evening: get Vince to drink more than we've ever seen him drink before; then get him to perform a short list of tasks which he will never attempt again as of next week when he joins the ranks of the Marrieds.

We got a private box overlooking the dance floor of La Baroque where a decently competent 'live' band was belting out covers of recent hits. Loudly. Screwdrivers all round (except for the DDs, me included). Vince proved quite sporting in his sincere attempts to collect 1) a lady stranger's phone number; 2) a photo of another lady stranger which she would forward to his cell phone; and 3) get yet another lady stranger to buy him a drink.

Two out of three ain't bad. Phone number, check. MMS photo, check. Mooch a drink, fail. But he made up for it by dancing onstage with the band to BEP's "Boom, Boom, Pow!" while wearing his newspaper hat and flying goggles.

What were you expecting? "The Hangover"?