Friday, January 20, 2012

Laughter is not necessarily a prerequisite

Satire is a bi*ch. Execute it well -- and you're a major broadcaster -- score an Emmy nomination. But if your're a fourteen-year-old, you could piss off an entire community and attract a lot of online rage. Kid's vid ostensibly spoofing Chinese New Year has infuriated netizens who, as usual, are baying for blood over the outrage.

The grating put-on ABC accent; the raw, in-your-face treatment; the disjointed jump cuts; and the inane dialogue between white-shirt and green-shirt (which effectively doubles the number of irritating on-screen characters to hate) are all designed to set the viewer's teeth on edge.

But the fact that the negative responses drawn now number in the thousands shows how easily and royally our self-righteous community defenders have been punked. I'm impressed with the vid's ability to annoy. I'll be more impressed if the juvenile perp can turn this tide of negative popularity into his advantage.

Li'l Amos is no gormless Ris Low (I refuse to dignify her nonsense with any links) who gets by on say-anything, dare-anything for the sake of amassing flung tomatoes. His vid was carefully scripted, performed and edited. Yes, it was a performance, not mocking Chinese New Year as people get on first impression, but a self-deprecatory caricature of ignorant, multi-generational overseas Chinese who have lost their roots and think America is where culture comes from.

Personally, I didn't find his subject matter funny. But comedy is such that laughter is not necessarily a prerequisite to getting the comic's point across. I appreciate the effort taken in the portrayal of this character who only a mother could love. I admire the kamikaze approach which caused so many people to reexamine their culture and beliefs and conclude that their 'rootedness' was so much superior to a fictional character's. Dudes, you let a fourteen-year-old play his game... and win.

If he is a good S'porean child, he would take this experience to heart; be contrite and learn from his elders; and never be heard from again. I sincerely hope he isn't. This kid knows comedy. He may not have found a schtik that works for him yet, but he deserves to be nurtured. The Force is strong with this one (ed. like it was with Anakin Skywalker).

In the meantime, I'm proving I know what my Chinese heritage is all about. This New Year, apart from stuffing my face with delicious MSG-laded grub and gaily handing out red-packets of greenbacks to grubby-fingered children, I have also 1) played second dragon segment bearer in the staff dragon dance item, and 2) tried my hand at the venerable art form of Chinese calligraphy (below).

I think it means, like, "smooth sailing ahead", or something. Anyway, that's my wish for you too! Happy CNY!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trust issues

I'm sure whoever's in charge of RAMS would shake their head in disapproval. Kids charging eyes shut headlong into their friends whom we hope will catch them in time before they careen into a wall or stray furniture.

NYeDC is working on trust exercises, very important for building team coordination and group spirit. Although thratre allows individual performers a chance to shine, how brightly anyone can shine depends entirely on everyone involved; backstage, onstage, upstage, downstage, all working together with near telepathic precision to make the whole production shine.

Trust is being able to cope with the deprivation of one or more of our senses, keeping faith that our teammates are there to offer strength where we are weak and vice versa.

The trusty 'mirror' exercise. No one leads, no one follows. Movement is both spontaneous and shared between two dynamic, yet coordinated bodies.

Friends bear each other's weight. Friends don't let their friends fall down. Kids haven't quite figured out the point of this game: support is mutual. Instead of one supporting the weight of the other, both should be able to take on an off-balance position such that gravity acting on one falling body itself provides the force to prevent the other body from falling. Ok, complicated concept.

One thing I like that's different about our training programme this year is the discipline of updating a journal of personal reflections after each session. It's a great way to focus on the various random thoughts we've had while doing the exercises or during rehearsals, and coalesce them into useful and coherent ideas before they are forgotten like so much smoke in the wind. Wonder why we never thought of doing it before?

In other news, Mengs has arranged a crew of staff -- including yours truly -- to dragon dance in celebration of CNY at this Friday's event. I settled for third segment from the head. I don't think any of us were prepared for the dragon to have to swoop so vigorously. It always looked easy and graceful when other people do it. Our respective spouses and girlfriends are busy massaging our aching shoulders as we speak...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A tangle of limbs

Once in a while, I catch my boys in rather... unmanly poses.

Could they both be exhausted from fighting over the same spot on the sofa, or could they just be really, really good friends?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Technological progress goes backwards

Been have a major problem hosting my collection of 'model' (i.e., self-written under test conditions) essays in such a way that make them easily accessible via hotlinks in my blog entries. And since I'm cheap, for free.

In desperation, I went back to search my once old reliable, GeoCities, which Yahoo killed off quite a while ago. I found, which after experimenting a while works the way I like. Upload file, make a hyperlink, model essay pops out in a new tab. No fuss, no muss, and FoC. Yay!

Will be transferring my archive from Skydrive (which I couldn't hyperlink to properly) to the new host real soon. Will also be updating the links in my previous posts, though that could take some time yet.

For today, just be satisfied with this:

The question asks us to comment on a quote from Huxley: "Technological progress has merely provided us with the most efficient means for going backwards."

It is quite a difficult question involving nested layers. The trick is to identify a fixed point or two that you can orbit your variables around. My first fixed point is to lock technology down as a general concept without being tempted to get specific with it; while the second is to keep the interpretation of "going backwards" focused on our escalating conflicts over resources. In truth, such a vague quotation can be interpreted in many ways, but a good argumentative looks for parameters within which truth can hold. Even so, I had to exceed the word limit in order to do this question justice. Completion time: 1hr 15min.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Condo dreams go poof

Our recent explorations in the property market required a chat with our FA. Since he knows our current financial situation, he could point out to us our one big dealbreaker: for the condo penthouse we're looking at, there's no way any bank will loan us that kind of cash to pay for it.

Looking at us, because we haven't finished paying off our current property, the bank will only loan us 40%, tops. If the loan went in May's name, legally the bank can only loan her no more than 35% of her monthly income.

Either way, to make up the difference between the asking price and what the bank is prepared to finance, we'll have to go find a friendly neighbourhood ah-long who would only be too happy to bridge the gap for us, and throw in a free exterior paint job every month as his kind are wont to do.

Thankfully, we kept cool and didn't get pressured to sign anything last night. Otherwise we'll have to get bitten by a vampire in order to live long enough to finish paying what we would be owing to pretty much everyone. Even if we work nights.