Saturday, February 13, 2010

A little professionalism, please

What gets my goat is a paid professional instructor in the performing arts who has no clue about performance discipline and backstage etiquette. As someone who should be setting the example, he's breaking every basic rule while his students are showing a little more restraint than him. Disgraceful.

He is no one I know personally, but at this morning's CNY concert, while waiting for his troupe's item to cue up, he's blithely walking past wing space and standing clearly visible onstage to check out the MCs making their welcome intros. Strike one.

When he's not making a nuisance of himself with his uncued presence, he's back in the wings rocking in a squeaking comfy-chair and making conversation with his students -- while the P is giving his address! Strike two.

Then he gets bored. He reaches in front of him and picks up a drumstick that has been preset for the Chinese Orchestra's performance. He uses the purloined drumstick as a personal back massager! Anyone with even a modicum of professional courtesy will keep their paws OFF props and equipment that do not belong to them or their part of the show. Strike three!

Two things I'm concerned about in confronting the man is that I don't speak his language well and anything I say could potentially spark off a diplomatic incident. And two, because he knows kung fu, he could well beat me into a pulp if he detects an antagonistic tone in my voice. So I simply walk through the wings to his immediate location and place my physical presence right next to his, and between him and the other Chinese Orchestra instruments. I don't have to say a word, though I don't like the way he's eyeing the triangle either...

How do I know he was the instructor despite him being dressed like the rest of his troupe? His bushy mustache gave him away. If he was one of our students, he'd just look seriously overaged.

I think that's the problem with us as a whole. We focus on being competent, excellent even, in the work we are supposed to do; but we forget that beyond our little world there is a larger performance going on around us. We forget that even if we're not yet called on to perform, what we do while waiting our turn still contributes to or detracts from the larger performance.

Why is our little country ranked 53rd among the most liveable cities in the world despite scoring high in "stability, healthcare... education as well as infrastructure"? Because our scores in "environment and culture" pulled our overall grade down. That's exactly what I mean from today's little story. It's a waste if our overall efforts to perfect our personal competencies are let down because of poor environmental awareness and a lack of cultural propriety. Those are the niceties, the little things we don't consider so important and thus we tend to ignore them. But they do add up towards the final tally.

Your individual performance may have been spot-on perfect, but people are more likely to remember if the concert on the whole sucked or not. Perhaps you think I'm being a Nazi about this but, even if occurring offstage, just one thoughtless act, one moment of indiscipline, or one misplaced prop could bring down the entire show. Fortunately today's concert, apart from the above-mentioned backstage shenanigans, turned out quite tolerable after all.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Announcing Wowpowbow

I know I'm not likely to have any success publicizing Drama Night 2010 through this post, but I'm providing a link to the promotional website anyway. Following the success of the 10-minute play genre that we used for last year's Drama Night, this year we've decided to host a 10-minute play competition open to our kids and staff to see what hidden talents may yet shine on campus.

The competition will be called (and I hereby copyright the name) "Wow! Pow! Take a Bow!" or "wowpowbow" for short, because these three words encapsulate both the intensity and the berevity of the 10-minute play.

Expanding the theatre experience to the rest of the college is part of my vision to turn the NYeDC into a credible in-house theatre management company rather than just an expressive outlet for an exclusive bunch of emo teen "artistes" in need of shock therapy. No offense, alumni! Ha ha!

Anyway, the website link as I promised: I've been experimenting with Viviti as a way to cobble a website together quick and dirty, and without the need for messing about with code. Everything's wysiwyg, instructions are easy to follow, and all I do is choose what I want to go where, click the right spot and edit the text where needed. QED, though I've already spent at least a couple of days tweaking. OCD, can't help it.

Problem with Viviti is that I'm going to have to start paying for the service soon. Not cheap (US$10/month!) but it's either that or risk ads popping up and annoying my eyeballs. Grrr... Tough decision...

Speaking of paying for services, my free Haloscan comment service is winding up and now I have to pay for the new comments host they've so kindly transferred my account to. Wonder if it's worth the expense...? Hmmm...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Early bird

What the heck am I doing on campus at 0630? First thing in the morning class? Yes, but that's not the reason. The reason is that my own version of daylight savings time unexpectedly kicked in this morning. Woke up at 0530 thinking it was 0630, performed my usual morning routines and rituals and arrived here a whole hour before anyone sane normally shows up. No wonder the roads were so clear of traffic and the sky never got brighter en route.

If it's true that older people need less sleep, I'd estimate my age to be at least 100.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

'Laundry list'

Does being focused on exam results actually get in the way of a child's education? Engel, writing in the NYT, thinks so. In her article, "Playing to Learn," she envisions her ideal primary school curriculum -- free of a "laundry list of goals... and... devoted instead to just a few narrowly defined and deeply focused goals".

If school was just all about the kids and their needs, I'd agree with her. Unfortunately, though we would like to think it was, the whole community wants their hands in the pie, and everybody has a stake in how our little "future leaders" are going to be raised.

The government wants a workforce that can sustain and even grow the economy; the economy wants loyal consumers and a competent and relevant employee pool; parents want the best (which Indicators are they most likely to identify as "The Best", anyway? A slew of Awards, perhaps? Track record of 'A' grades?) for their kids; the kids want some meaning to their lives apart from the prospect of lifelong enslavement to an inescapable cycle of work-earn-shop-rinse-repeat; and we staff want to remain employed by doing our best to satisfy everybody. Ergo, laundry list.

Sorry, kids. It's time to face facts. School does not revolve around you alone.

Monday, February 08, 2010

What's my line?

Got introduced to, a new career matching portal that we're to encourage our kids to use. Although it's meant for use by our industry, it looks like anyone with a S'porean IC can sign up for a free account and get their interests and competencies surveyed for a job that they could be suitable for.

There's a section for mapping out an education path to a desired career along with several local and international colleges and universities offering relevant courses. Also advice on resume writing and an online portfolio for each account holder to store and manage their interview materials and other career-related stuff. Looks quite useful and user-friendly overall.

As part of the intro, I had to try out the questionnaire myself. 23 pages of questions to answer with a slider-bar rating my interests in various tasks and confidence in doing each well. It was quite demoralizing as I discovered I have very little interest and even less talent in most of the jobs the portal suggested. 'Modelling fashionable clothes': No. 'Managing an office': No. 'Greeting people': Erm... if there's nothing else better to do. It went on like that for many, many questions.

After grinding through my responses, the portal spat out my results: high Artistic tendencies, very poor Realistic outlook. Topping the list of jobs suitable for one such as myself: Author (no full-time career position available, likely to only make money if I can sell 50,000 books. Don't think ANY S'porean author has sold anywhere near 50,000 books yet).

'Education Officer' was nowhere on the list. Guess that explains a lot. 'Author'. Feh. How ever did the portal get that idea?

Sunday, February 07, 2010


I don't have all that many friends, so the odds of two of them pledging to spend the rest of their lives together is astronomical. Yet, here they are, Vince (of the tell-all stag party expose) and NBS (my partner in KrIme), are wed and locked -- and it's about time, you two.

This is one wedding where I could not answer the question, "Bride's side or Groom's?" with any certainty. So being shelved under 'Miscellaneous' was as good a category as any.

I know both Vince and NBS have been stressing out over the preparations for the ceremony, but from my vantage point it looks like everything went off just fine.

The church wedding was relaxed. The preacher exhorted the principles of Contentment, Committment and Consecration in their marriage with the authority and levity of liberal quotes from both the Bible and Hallmark respectively. He neglected to mention Consummation, but I'm sure we don't really need a lot of instruction from the pulpit about that.

Standard Chinese wedding fare for dinner at Qian Xi (Farrer Park). The food was good, and the servings were generous. Pity we didn't have bigger eaters at our table, however -- there was much we couldn't finish. Standard procedure for the dinner rituals as well: champaign pouring, the toast, the 'thank you' speehes, the photo shoots per table. Uncomplicated and easy-going, much as what the happy couple generally prefer.

From mad off-campus lunchbreaks with us, to long weekly drives to Jurong (for personal routines), to investing in a condo together. It's been a long journey to get here, and now a new road has opened up for you to travel together. Take good care of each other, 'k?