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Friday, March 27, 2009

I Complain

After weeks of endless attempts to cram useless information into our heads, memorising numerous arbitrary moral values and their arbitrary definitions and finally, coming face to face with those horrendous, blasphemous results, it's once again back to the time of the year to start guessing the smart weirdos in our class of 3 Batai 2009.


Correction: Start guessing the REST of the smart weirdos in class. The number one post is indisputably Melissa's territory.

Oh great. Look at me now. I'm starting to get really exam oriented. And it's because of this I'm starting to grumble.

Look at what the education system is doing to us! Doesn't anyone notice our freaky mental dysfunction? We rarely touch our books the whole year and only start hitting the books a few weeks before the exam. The smart people might start a few months early for all we know. For what? To get good grades? To get that 'A' on our report cards and to rid the minor blemishes of 'B's?

What's the point?

Let's look at it from another perspective.

Decades ago, during our parents' childhood years, have you any idea what exams were for? They were mainly to see if the students understood what they learnt. Those who really do remember what they've learnt are the true genii.

Fastforward to today and ask yourself this question. What are exams for? If you answered " show how much the students know/ have learnt/ understood", think again. Exams now are mainly to boast your intelligence, to show people how good you are at memorising useless facts you don't even need to know to continue surviving. And, not to forget, to secure scholarships.

Even the top students. Don't believe?

If you talked to any of them before(or, you are one of them), notice that if something or some random fact isn't going to come out in the next exam, the smart kid won't even bother remembering it. Or, if the teacher tells the students which chapters to study for the next term, nobody bothers reading the other "irrelevant" chapters which are not coming out.

So, are they really that smart? (I'm not bursting your bubble, okay? Don't throw eggs at me!)

I'm just hoping for that one day when the principal would turn up on the first day of school and say that all the exams throughout the year are cancelled. There would be no more streaming anymore, no more positions, no more handing in our workbooks. Just observe everyone. No one would touch their books ever again.

And boom!

One day, your biology teacher walks in, noticeably happier than usual, and announces triumphantly that today would be your end-year assessment. Observe how everyone's expressions melt to a glassy stare into space, their jaws opening unconsciously, becoming a playground for flies. It wouldn't make much of a difference even if your mouth was closed anyway, you're going to die soon.

Trust me, more than half of the school would fail.

Although it sounds sadistic, I'm waiting for that to happen. Then, we all know who the true nerds are [and copying homework can be made easier].

I mean, exams have even leaked into the teachers heads and started polluting their thoughts with "must-fail-students" thoughts. What is wrong with everyone?

An archetype for this is Pn Nomi, 3 Batai's happy form teacher. Why happy? Is it because she jokes a lot or has that rare sense of humour? Or maybe she loves to talk to our class to make us feel better? Or is she some revolutionary teacher who challenges the forces that be?

Nah. What nonsense. She's the teacher who successfully "failed" all the 3 Batai students. Which teacher has ever accomplished such a feat? In the first class?? Well, that's our perception of it. "Fail" means not getting an 'A'. The highest mark was TWO marks from an 'A'. Not much difference now, is it? Only two humans got that honour [Melissa and *ahem* I]. Why am I complaining then? See, it shows I'm infected too. The 'A'-grade disease. The percentage comparison. Everyone was so disappointed as "the BM essay marks pulled down everyone's percentage by 3% and above".

But anyway, that's not my point. My point is..........back to exam-oriented thinking. As the above shows, even teachers are infected. And once the students get the results back, what else can you, as a student, do? One girl who suffered from a chronic exam-oriented infection said she was going to tell her tuition teacher about this outrage. She said this was ridiculous and she needed to complain to her tuition teacher.

Honestly, what does she expect her tuition teacher to do? Is he supposed to storm after Pn Nomi, demanding an explanation and sueing her for giving everyone in the first class inexplicably undesirable marks only the last class kids deserve? Pht*. Now that's what I call ridiculous.

*Pht is pronouced as "PFFT" and is a legal word, used to express annoyance. Found in scrabble =D

If you inspect the Malaysian policy closer, you would realise our "kiasu-ness" might even be comparable to Singapore's, only difference being we practice a more corrupted version of it. Seriously.

Public exams questions "leak" out weeks or even days before the actual exam. Excuse me! Aren't we all supposed to be prepared for this ourselves? It's basically such an insult to know that you've worked so hard all by yourself and the invisible "forces that be" are now leaking out questions for the lower classes. Is this an exam or what? People are announcing the questions that might come out just so that we can score higher marks for the exam????

For heaven's sake, stop it!!!! The standard for grade 'A' is already so low and you're still doing all these??? Hey, Americans!! *Waves frantically* How would you feel if I told you grade 'A' is from 70-100 marks in the public exam????? It's dumb, isn't it?! While some others might argue that Eastern countries have a tendency to be exam-oriented, I find this ridiculous. Might as well scrape off all the exams.

Think about it, my fellow compatriots. What's the whole point of memorising so many facts only to throw them away later? So what if you know that Francis Light found Penang? So what if you know how the Japanese conquered us? Who the heck cares if your brain can digest all the moral values and their arbitrary definitions when you can't even apply them? For heavens sake, some people don't even know who the first man on the moon was. Or Genghis Khan. Or Napoleon Bonaparte (some people thought he invented Neapolitan-flavoured ice-cream). Let's learn all these other useful things, rather than study things we'd forget after the exam. It's time we make our syllabus global.

Wow. Enough exam rantings. I bet I'm boring you to death.


Some other weird happenings this week includes:

Power transition from Abdullah Badawi to Najib. Sigh, I do not wish to say anything else. When you've got nothing nice to say, just shut up. (Even the French know it).
Najib got his "dream team", which the rakyat (citizens) portray as "nightmare team".

Mr K (extra-curricular teacher) was joking throughout his entire speech during assembly. Some parts include " much disciplinary problem when you're back in get apprehended.......the good news is, Liverpool won.....". And when he was praising the sportsmen in school, he asked each one of them to stand up for their respective sport when mentioned. Very few dared to stand up for some unknown fear. "Those who stood up are brave. Very good. Those who dared not stand up.......are also very good! Modesty, a moral value, has been applied.......". It soon became "misplaced modesty" and teachers have been criticising our class for that the whole week.

I don't know why I bothered to offer myself to perform for the school's MAC. Now, I have to arrange a song in 2 days.

No more complaints. Enjoy your weekend.



Sunday, March 22, 2009


Greetings (from Mars), fellow readers.

The author of this blog has been Missing In Action for many days due to several distractions.

Distractions being "unfinished" homework. Sigh, the school is all out to ruin little kids' holidays (anyone under 18 is considered a kid, whether you like it or not =P). The teachers are conspiring against us students!! I mean, seriously, we have to wait for our exam results. How can we have peaceful holidays?!

You know what's the worst thing about holidays? They make you feel so small. I just realised I have less time during the holidays than during schooling days. I sleep off the hours.

Okay, so I have been feeling down during the holidays. Really, I don't want to contaminate my blog with all the moodiness or "emo-ness" in case it's contagious.

Right, the pictures below are for inspiration.

For more pictures, please click here. [link]


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just Kidding

TEACHER : Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA : Here it is!
TEACHER : Correct. Now class, who discovered America ?
CLASS : Maria!

TEACHER : Why are you late, Frank?
FRANK : Because of the sign.
TEACHER : What sign?
FRANK : The one that says, "School Ahead, Go Slow."

TEACHER : John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN : You told me to do it without using tables!

TEACHER : Glenn, how do you spell "crocodile"?
TEACHER : No, that's wrong.
GLENN : Maybe it s wrong, but you asked me how I spell it!

TEACHER : Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER : What are you talking about?
DONALD : Yesterday you said it's H to O!

TEACHER : Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we
didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER : Millie, give me a sentence starting with "I."
MILLIE : I is...
TEACHER : No, Millie..... Always say, "I am."
MILLIE : Alright... "I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

TEACHER : Can anybody give an example of COINCIDENCE?
TINO : Sir, my Mother and Father got married on the same day, same time."

TEACHER : George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry
tree, but also admitted doing it. Now, Louis, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS : Because George still had the axe in his hand.

TEACHER : Clyde , your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same
as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE : No, teacher, it's the same dog!

TEACHER : Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking
when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD : A teacher. (Like our happy form teacher!)


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Birthday Gifts

The 6th of March might seem like a pretty insignificant day for most people. DJians, on the other hand, will remember that day as the last day of the first term exam. For me, it marks the day I become a year older. And what better way to start it than 2 favourite subjects, namely Maths and Science.

Okay, admittedly, I'm really afraid I'd screw up my first term, as I've been spending a great block of time (3-4 hours a day), well, playing. As in, playing the piano. Actually, that doesn't sound like a very smart thing to do, since I didn't even think I was good enough for the finals. Let's get this straight : 160 people from the whole country took part in the heats/audition. Only 24 humans got into the finals alive. Only 5 humans got to the finals in my category and I'm sure they're all very "geng" (slang for "extremely good"). That is, except me. So, yeah, be afraid. Be very very afraid.

The 7th of March 2009, Saturday, was nicknamed the "Music Marathon" day. Why? We were at the the Plenary Theatre, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre for the whole day. If you must know, it is also a significant day for Sarah Brightman, who held her concert 2 floors below us at the Plenary Hall. At precisely 8.30 pm (provided the VIPs turn up early), our competition's gala, Sarah Brightman's world tour concert and Kitaro's performance would start kicking. Wait, if my story starts at 8.30, I won't have anything else to say. Ahem. Rewind!!!!

It is 9.00 in the morning. We miraculously reach KLCC. After dropping my mum and I off, my father went to play golf, but not before he wished me good luck. After we got off, we asked for directions. We made our way up to the 3rd floor, and on the way, we saw how hectic everyone was on the first floor, scrambling around like mice trying to prepare for Sarah Brightman's arrival.

The 3rd floor...

Was pretty empty.

Except for the Roland Piano Festival signs polluting the place. Time to register myself and start panicking.

We saw the Duet category rehearsal and soon after, it was our briefing (Junior and Open categories). My category (Junior) consisted of Jonathan Long, Joshua Ng, Samuel Tee, Woon Wu Chyi and I. (Wu Chyi is from Alexandria's school). Jonathan is my age, Samuel and Wu Chyi are one year my junior and Joshua is a happy 11-year old. The first 4 got to ballot and I was left with number 3. The most amusing thing was that Jonathan, who picked first, was the first player. Joshua, who balloted second got the 2nd player. Samuel was 4th and Wu Chyi was 5th. Which left me as 3rd. Well, I spoilt the sequence which could have otherwise been in alphabetical order. We went back to the theatre and continued watching the others rehearse until our turn.

I knew my rehearsal was robotic. I didn't move. At all. No expressions. Nothing. I just sat there and played suu-perrrr slooooow. Every other contestant breezed through their pieces, but nooo, I didn't want to tense up. 10 minutes of rehearsing was up after I took roughly 5 minutes to run through the piece and "clean up" some bits. My piece actually lasts for 2-3 minutes only, which, by the way, is the shortest piece in the whole competition. Which adds up to my thinking that I have no chance. By the way, every other person alive who heard me play were probably wondering how I got into the competition in the first place.

Come 1.30pm, we would gather in the Green Room for standby. The only talkative people then were Joshua, Samuel and his church friend, Paul. Paul was a finalist from the Jazz category and, just like the typical "jazzer", he was chilling out.
"Hey, why don't we go up there and greet the judges like this: "Yo, wazzup!......""
There was a lot more nonsense in there, actually, with one "experiment" sounding so cool it was informal.
After a while, I joined in and we all got to know Joshua the most, since he was the youngest, being only 11 this year, and he was the most talkative. It seems that he only took grade 3, 5 and 8 and was taking ATCL diploma this year. Samuel was grade 8 and was under Ms Phang, which explains why he looked familiar. Jonathan wasn't there yet and only came in about 2.20pm. Wu Chyi only laughed at how silly all of us were.

Anyway, we were all separated at 2.25, 35 minutes before our competition. Or rather, I was separated. There was the Male and Female room and it was very obvious that we couldn't intrude into the other room. So, I went into the Female room and luckily found someone there. We talked a bit and I got to know that she was from the Open category. After a while, I realised I couldn't take the cold in the room anymore. Both of us went out (it was very warm outside) and that means no one was in the room. The door was electronic and that would also mean that we couldn't enter the room anymore. I found Joshua opening and closing the Male room door, clearly enjoying himself. Samuel just came back from a sneak practice from outside and was talking to Paul.
"I think you're going to win later. Everyone says you're so good."
"Of course that's what everyone says. Nobody's going to come up and say "Hey, you know you sucked just now?""

Anyway, after 5 minutes, our whole category was outside and we all looked like rebels. Samuel and Paul were sitting on the floor, Joshua and the other 2 guys were busy destroying the electric door. When they finally got bored of it, they decide to bang open the Females' room door. When that didn't help, they banged the card sensor. When Cherry found us, she was shocked to see us looking like beggars there. Of course, by then, Jonathan and Joshua had to go backstage to prepare. A few minutes later, I was called there. I only saw Jonathan's grand ending and Joshua's performance was well done. I was so cold there that one fellow in charge had to bring a towel to wrap around me. Yay.

The next few minutes were blurry. No, I didn't faint on the spot, thank goodness. I was just so absorbed in what I was doing I couldn't remember what I did. Ironic, but true. I don't even remember how my piece went except that I played F as E somewhere. I don't even remember. I just remembered enjoying my music. FINALLY. Mission accomplished. Joshua had already vanished somewhere but Jonathan and I insisted we watched Samuel's and Wu Chyi's performance. Only 2 people were allowed backstage at any one time and so we were forced to act like burglars hiding in some secret room to hear their performances.

There, Jonathan said that Chong Lim was the one who chose the finalists for this year's competition. Or rather, that was the information his teacher, Ms Lai, gave him. Yes, Ms Lai, the freaky musician producer. She was Chong Lim's teacher herself. Okay, well, then maybe Chong Lim has a funny taste for picking me into the finals. That sounds very odd. Ng Chong Lim?? Plucked me out from that bunch of piano geeks into the finals? Pro.

After everyone was done, we joined our families and I saw Rachel, my choir's Chairperson. She said I played well, but looking back at what Paul said, it might not be true. My mum and I would spend the rest of the day up 'til 6 watching the long-winded performance of those with bigger works. The duets were real interesting to watch, especially the group of friends who chose their songs from the same composer, Astor Piazzolla.

Alex came at 6.30 and met her outside the theatre. There, we talked nonsense and caught up on my irritating form teacher. At 6.45, I had to go to the Green Room (waiting room for participants) to stand by. After that, we went for a briefing by Charles in the theatre. Kong Su Mei, my violin accompanist, was the emcee for the night. Su Mei was going to announce the winner of each category and the winner had to play their winning piece.
"Ok, then I'll say the winner for this category is bla-bla-bla and will be playing bla-bla-bla."
Joshua: No-lah! The winner for this category is *TOOT*!
*Everyone bursts out laughing*
Samuel: Yeah! The winner is *TOOT* and will be playing *TOOT* by *TOOT*.
Man, it sounds so wrong. The worst thing was that Joshua was on my left and Samuel was on my right. And apparently, I transfer the ideas from both of them to each other. The good news is that Samuel said it softly, so that only the 5 of us could hear it. And we all snickered from that point onwards.

Then, Charles taught us how to line up to get our prizes and how to line up for our group photo. After that, he dismissed us.
"Now, all of you can wait in the Females' and Males' rooms. Girls, don't enter the guys room and guys, don't go inside the girls room. Or, if you're unsure whether you're a boy or a girl, just wait in the Green Room."
Apparently, everyone was unsure of their gender.

In the GR, our category had started engaging in an endless conversation of hard-core nonsense. Samuel kept disturbing Stephanie over the phone and before she could say anything, he would put down the phone. And he mentioned that Ms Phang wanted Stephanie to re-sit her violin exam until she got a distinction.

Joshua took over when he demonstrated his thumb to us. It was so cool when we found out that his left thumb's bone could dislodge. All we had to do was push his thumb backwards and you could feel it dislodging itself. Amazingly, he could control it to go back to the normal position. Cool finger.

Other stupid things included turning off the toilet lights when Joshua was in the toilet. And drinking a lot of water. And throwing sugar packets. Joshua reminded us that the competition was just a few hours ago, as we all expressed feelings of disbelief that it all happened today. It felt like a year ago, really.

Then, we started disturbing everyone in the room, especially Samuel, who kept disturbing Martin from the Open Classical category.
"Do you know how to play Don Giovanni?"
To which Martin replied: Are you crazy?? If I could play Don Giovanni, I wouldn't be entering competitions anymore, I'd be out there making money!!!

And we found out from Martin that Wu Chyi has been playing his piece, Fantasie Impromptu, for 3 years already. Haha, wow. We all joked that maybe he plays the same thing for every competition he enters until he completely perfected it.

Suddenly, Cherry called our category out. The moment of truth. *Scary music*

Su Mei called us out one by one and we each received a fake certificate.

"..........and the runner up for this category is!)."

HAH?!?!!? Seriously???!!!

I walked up to Mr Dennis Tan to receive my trophy. The only thoughts running through my head that time was that the trophy was so cool and that the judges have lost their minds. That includes Chong Lim as well.

The winner was pretty obvious. Wu Chyi. Come on, seriously. THREE years of practice. My piece is like 5 months old! But it surprised me why Joshua didn't get a position. Poor thing. He entered last year too and was hoping for something this year.

(Oh, I got a free birthday present!!!)

But anyway, the letdown for the other 3 didn't stop us from doing crazy things. We were all fighting with our trophies like out of a Star Wars scene. Joshua really lost it when he said, "Let's hit each other's trophies and souvenirs and see which one doesn't break. That's the true winner."
Before we started the "battles", we were called to view the winners' performances. The winners were (according to category):
Pop: Teoh Cherylyn (What's Love Got To Do With It by Graham Lyle & Terry Britten)
Jazz: Paul Khoo (Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard)
Junior Classical: Woon Wu Chyi (Fantasia Impromptu by Chopin)
Open Classical: Tan Hsien Chih (Ballade No.4, Op 52 by Chopin)[Man, he was good]
Duet Classical: Low Chyh Shen + Winstons (Adios Nonino by Astor Piazzolla)[very interesting piece]
Piano Concerto: Grace Alexander (Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin)[very nice but tooooooo long-winded]

During Chyh Shen and Winstons's performance, Jonathan, Joshua, Samuel and I were debating on what type of music their piece was. Maybe you could listen to it and identify it in your own way. The piece was Adios Nonino by Astor Piazzolla, if you didn't grasp it on top. (And Samuel referred to Winstons as "The Guy Who Looks Like A Korean".)

Then, during the last performance, we were called backstage. Being musicians, you would think we appreciate long performances lasting 20 minutes or so. Well, actually, we don't. We were all half dying backstage and everyone was praying for the concerto winner to end her song quickly. When they got to their last passage, Joshua was leaping around announcing happily to everyone that they're almost finished.

We took several group photos and dismissed into the Green Room. There, we were given our real certificates and went home after that.

We had supper with Alex and her family after that at the Hakka Restaurant.

What a long road it has been. Eventhough it was such a short period of time ago, memories of the competition feel far away, as if it never happened at all.

I will always look upon this day with tears of joy. Unrepeatable, spectacular, unexpected, once-in-a-lifetime and only in the living memory of my past.

Editor's note: By the way, Paul was the winner for the Jazz category. Apparently, he outshone the other contestants so much that the judges decided to give out only the first place (which went to him). That means the second place is not even up for grabs. He was seriously enjoying his music that he even tapped his feet and could be seen dancing with his own music. This proves that all genii/talented freak mutations are compulsive liars. =P


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