Saturday, May 28, 2011

Meet the family

Time for Grimm to meet the family. Maui seems to have taken quite a shine to her.

Yep, here he's looking at her like he's eying a nice, light snack.

Three cats in a frame is about all I can manage. Kaiser's gone off to sulk somewhere else.

Looks like the start of a beautiful friendship... once they finally stop punching each other to establish who's Boss in these here parts.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I should have taken my mom

An unexpected day off on a non-peak period day, coupled with some great weather, and it's off to Universal Studios, no questions asked! NTUC and DBS discounts make the entrance fees more attractive on days like these. 

This is one of the reasons why we're here... the 'Revenge of the Mummy'! Here we have a decent coaster with something of a story that perpetuates throughout the ride. With pyrotechnics, cool lighting effects and parts of the ride taking place in blackout, it's quite intense for someone queueing up thinking 'thank god, I'm not riding a roller coaster'. Warning signs are all around, so there's no excuse for being unwary.

Our reward for braving and defeating Imhotep... a dandy souvenir snapshot with Queen Nefertitty!

And the real reason why we're here is because of these two bad boys, the BSG Human/Cylon dueling rides! Only the best rides ever -- within the scope of my limited coaster riding experience. The Human side is already quite intense with lots of tight loops to negotiate. But the Cylon side is a suspended coaster which means that every loop and twist is amplified from the riders' pov. We're frequently head-over-heels, facing nothing but cloudy blue sky or hard, unforgiving floor beneath, our breath taken away by the sensation of high-speed flight. In many other theme parks, this one would be the most crowded; but the screams of the brave few were enough to keep most other people away. Only in S'pore, right? Oh well, more for us, then!

So, what else is there for non-thrill seekers to do at USS? Well, there are a number of (yawn) milder rides that are still kinda' fun, though not exactly mind-blowingly so. There are lots of shows to catch, mostly involving singing and dancing costumed mascots that are lively and reasonably entertaining, and there's this: Waterworld. Only two shows a day, with lots of flash-and-bang, collapsing structures, high-speed water shenanigans and rope traversing. It's way more fun to sit in the soak zone 'cos the action is right in your face, as are the water jets, sea-craft spray and the characters' sloshing buckets which they use to motivate audience participation. It's ok, in our climate our clothes dry out in no time.

Oh, I was a little anxious about the crowd situation on an off-peak day. Normally, I am crowd averse but theme parks are exciting only when there are people jostling shoulder-to-shoulder while standing in queues waiting for their turn at the rides. There's nothing sadder than an empty theme park. I shouldn't have worried. The place was packed full of tour groups enough so it sounded noisy and happy, and yet not so much that wait-time was interminably long per ride. Best of both worlds!

HP asked for an assessment of the activities here at USS. I say there's quite enough to do and see for a full day of fun and entertainment for everybody -- just a little more so for coaster freaks. BSG! BSG!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Once again, the torch of leadership passes on. 2011's Exco has given way to the newbies of 2012 who must now take the helm and chart their own way. With every batch, NYeDC has raised its accomplishments bar. But I truly take my hat off to 2011 for having the vision, the work ethic, the belief in the worth of their shared goals, and the -- yes -- administrative strength to pull of one of the most successful seasons we've had ever.

The newbies now, led by CJ, will have to step up a lot to fill the space their predecessors have left behind. Shammo and Co are a tough act to follow, but they have been an exceptional bunch which was able to capitalize on all their individual strengths and cover for each others' personal weaknesses. Hope the noobs will find their feet soon. We have a reputation to uphold thanks to our success at Drama Night last weekend. Let's see what 2012 can do to take us further on!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Grimmest of days

Haven't been updating for so long. Spent the last three plus weeks Exec Producing Drama Night 2011 and working 14-15 hours a day juggling between class and stage. Brain dead by the time I get home every night :p

I don't begrudge the time spent, though. When I see the kids working so fervently on a common goal -- the show -- and note the many sacrifices they were making to make it a great show, I knew enough to step back and let the creative juices flow.

Too bad outsiders of the club will never see the energy, drive and gusto amidst the blood, sweat and tears invested in the production. Everything from the set (including Rapunzel's tower and Cindy's fireplace) was made from scratch out of huge sheets of art board; the various hand props comprising fairy tale paraphernalia all painstakingly designed, manufactured and hand-painted by the kids themselves There was no distinction between "Actors" and backstage crew -- everyone lent a hand regardless of their place on stage.

Of course, multi-tasking like that caused us a lot of heart attacks too. Rehearsals could not begin in earnest until the set and prop items were complete. Hence the many days of long hours, hard work, angry parents and teachers, stressed-out security guards anxious to lock up after us, and tired kids.

We'd never attempted a full-feature length play before. A full 90-minute monster which went through several rounds of writing and rewriting right up to full-dress rehearsal. New sound and lighting cues kept throwing off what we'd settled on in previous rehearsals, constantly confusing cast and crew.

Honestly, by the time we could work with full runs it was already production week and rehearsals were dire. My fellow Exec Producers were casting sidelong glances at each other wondering how we could put such a show up for public display. At $8 a ticket. It would have been a real pity if the show flopped, considering how much work everyone put into it.

Despite our misgivings, opening night was a blast! Energized by a boisterous audience thrilled to see their friends on stage, the kids gave their all, fully committed to their roles and -- er, mostly -- alert to their cues. There were mistakes, but the kids covered well for each other, and the crowd was forgiving. Likewise for 2nd night, though the crowd was mainly parents and walk-ins.

It was altogether a fantastic run for us. We made the audience laugh at the right places and impressed with a quality performance that people are going to remember and talk about for a while. The kids will face a reality of pain when they return to their regular schoolwork now that the season has ended, but I think it will be worth it. Through these last weeks, the kids have experienced a kind of magic that will never leave them. They've made some very good friends who've suffered with them throughout the production, and that's a bonding that cannot easily be erased. They've led and organized themselves in a joint project they all believed in, and they've grown in confidence and stature as a result of it. Their peers are going to look at them with a new respect from now on.

NYeDC has reached a new level of theatrical professionalism, and I and my fellow Expros are really proud of the club for moving us so far forward towards my dream.

For rehearsal and production stills, check out my Webshots album.

In the meantime, June has picked up a new kitty whom I shall name Grimm in honour of our production.