Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Ungame

Yes, I know, I’m behind on my posting. Moving on.

A couple weeks back, I went to the IVCF Leadership Retreat, which was all kinds of awesome. It’s always cool to meet up with people who are very much like you, along with the rapid expansion of your friend circle. And while the main focus of the retreat was to prepare the incoming executive for the year they had ahead of them, we spent a significant amount of times playing games. And while playing UNO like Yu-Gi-Oh is an unique experience and pretending to kill your friends in Mafia is rather disturbing, there is no game quite like The Ungame.

From the name you can guess that this game isn’t really a game. There is no board, no objectives, and no game pieces. Just two piles of cards with random questions on them, and some that allow you to ask another player a question. That’s all. You sit in a circle and answer questions in turn. And the questions, by the way, aren’t regular trivia questions. They’re more like “What is your secret desire?” or “I feel the loneliest when ___” and other personal stuff like that. It may sound pretty boring, until you realize that these little questions bring out some of most unexpected answers from people. The emotional intensity that develops as the game progresses is sometimes too much for some to handle. I played the game with people who I’ve known for a long time, and found out far more about them than in all the time I knew them. I even found out some things about myself. It’s also a game that could get you in a tidy bit of trouble. I like to call it “Jumaji in real life”. It’s fun at first, but you can find yourself in some very deep doo doo while playing it.

The Ungame has rather unique origins. The woman who created it didn’t originally mean for it to be a game. Fearing that a medical procedure would remove her ability to speak, she wrote down some questions that she’d like to ask her husband and children. She was shocked at the revelations that came the first time she played the game, so much that her husband is quoted as saying “I've learned more about all of you in these twenty minutes than in the past five years." The game spread as she began sharing it with neighbors, and soon there was an entire market for the game to be produced.

The thing is, we think that to find the answers to the most complex of problems, we need to ask complex questions. The truth is, all it takes is the simplest of questions to solve the most intricate of puzzles. Questions like “Where do you want to be in 5 years” or “What’s your favorite holiday” may sound cheesy or unimportant, but they can tell you a lot about a person. And, who knows, maybe that person may just waiting for somewhere who they can share something with.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rubik's Cube

I'm not going to waste an entire post on why I'm only now coming back to posting. There was school, and then the play and then exams, and then the leadership retreat and then the rapture, so this is the first time in a very long time that I have had time to post. I should be able to post more regularly for a while.

Many people ask me why I'm doing engineering if I like writing so much. The truth is, I really do love engineering as well. Probably not as much as writing, but I really do like what I study. You see the core of engineering isn't building stuff. It's understanding stuff. You can't build a car, until you understand how every thing in a car works. Engineering takes the simplest of things and breaks them down even further. Like how a length of PVC pipe is made, or why a beam sags or exactly how the heat in a room is circulated throughout it (which I frankly still don't understand). I guess the reason why I like it so much is because I like knowing. I like having all the information that I need before I make a decision. I like understanding a system, so that I could have a firm grasp on it.

One thing, I have come to understand however, that the skills engineering skills that help you understand physical systems, in no way help you understand human systems. And I don't mean biological systems. I mean mental and emotional systems. I was never really one to have many friends, but recently I found that my friend circle has exploded exponentially. The thing is, that sometimes, out of ignorance, I may do something that may offend, upset or seem weird to some people. I try to learn from my mistakes, but there is just so much to learn. You can never have all the variables for a human system. They are constantly changing and evolving. The harder you try to understand someone, the more difficult it becomes. And perhaps the most frustrating thing about human systems is that you can't fix them. If you snap an axle, you can always get it fixed. If you break someone's heart, that could take years to heal.

Humanity is hard to understand, but we crave to understand each other anyway. Perhaps we are confused with ourselves and try to find the answers in each other. Whatever it is, we gladly throw ourselves into frustration for one moment of clarity. For that one time that you feel you can truly understand someone. And perhaps in the vein of trying to understand others, we make it easier for others to understand us.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2011


So I had something completely different in mind for this blog post, but I just felt as if had to change it for this. It's all about a song named "Friday" sung by a 13-year-old Rebecca Black. Now the name of a song doesn't really give away that much. In fact some songs I know have nothing to do with their names at all. But this song, has very much to do with it's name. In fact it has too much to do with the days of the week to begin with.

Yeah. So if you don't make it through the first minute with clicking escape or attempting to rip your ears off from the side of your head, don't be alarmed. Those are both very normal. The song is well...well it's terrible. When ever somebody says that a particular song is horrible, I try to play the devil's advocate and find something that's good about it. I couldn't find anything good about this song. At all.

Now the obvious first response on the internet is to flame it, the same thing they do to Justin Bieber's videos. But as I looked at my friends Facebook, and some of the YouTube comments, it became apparent to me that the first response may not be the correct one. Everyone was complaining about how much they used Auto-Tune and how meaningless the lyrics were, both of which are quite true. But a lot of the comments were targeted at Rebecca herself, and many of them I wouldn't even repeat. I wanted to know why everyone hated this girl so much. What exactly did she do?

So I did a little research. Rebecca Black is a regular girl, albeit very talented. Her profile page on the Ark Music Factory websites reads of several achievements in the realm of acting and singing, but even those aren't too extravagant. They were mainly things like school plays and music camps. Ark Music factory allows young artists to record a song for a small fee so that they can experience what the music industry is like. Naturally, like anyone would, she took the opportunity to record a song. Who didn't want the chance to record and actual single and make a real music video when they were 13? And so...Friday was born.

To be honest, the whole debacle wasn't Rebecca's fault. She didn't write the lyrics. No, that came from a lyric writer in the Ark Music Factory by the name of Clarence Jey who should be fired forthwith. She was merely given the song to sing. And she didn't Auto-Tune it either. I'm pretty sure that a girl who's spent most of her life singing in front of audiences wasn't worried about her voice. Auto-Tune is the fad these days, and I'm sure that's why Ark Music Factory did that. Either way, all these insults and attacks on Rebecca are meaningless and ill aimed. If anyone should be blamed it's the Ark Music Factory. They did the bulk of evil.

So Rebecca Black, I do wish you the best. You may have gotten off to a bad start, but you currently have the world of publicity and I'm sure you have many supporters. At the rate at which you're going, everyone would be clamouring to listen to you're next single. Good luck with your bright, bright future.

But don't sing "Friday" again. Ever. Seriously. Don't

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Return To Blogging

I don't remember exactly when it was that I stopped blogging or why exactly. All I know that everything had suddenly converged on me suddenly. I was confused, lost and worried. I could not see a clear path forward. The feeling lasted for a while and somehow, I was able to finish and succeed in all that I had to do. I don't remember how. The past couple weeks were a blur, all the events smashed together.

And now that I'm back, there are so many many things that I want to talk about. About the play that has changed and gone through so many iteration that it bares little resemblance to the original. About a friend who, well, is still a friend, at least for now. About the Japanese earthquake and the eerie vacation house in Tobago. I have much to talk about, but so very little time to do it. I have so much to say, but so little time to say it. Projects and midterms, Bible study and play rehearsals all swim around me, threatening to devour my mind. I will not fall. I will fight to the bitter end, to win to or to fall, sword in hand, knowing that I did not give up. My break from blogging has renewed me, and I charge into the unknown, yelling the battle cry of some long forgotten age. I am reborn

Forgive the melodrama that the previous paragraph runs thick with. I'm reading a fantasy novel of the might and magic type, so it's sort of influenced by that. There will be a new post tomorrow and hopefully many to come after that.

See you guys tomorrow.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mythical Creature Saturdays - La Diablesse

YES!!! I am back after a very long and confusing hiatus. More on that tomorrow. Right now, I have an old favor to fulfill to a friend. I ended MSC a long time ago, but one of my friends from school had begged me to do a MSC on a La Diablesse, a myth the features prominently in Trinidadian folklore. What is exactly is a La Diablesse you may ask? Well, she sorta looks something like this:

Anyway, on with the blog.

What is a La Diablesse?

A La Diablesse is on those myths that target men specifically. They are usually defined as a very beautiful woman wearing a broad rimmed hat that drops down over her face, hiding her eyes. She's dressed in rather vintage clothing, usually a long flowing dress and a lace bodice, mostly all white. She has the most beautiful voice and enchanting laugh. She is said the enchant men, leading them off into the night, where they are never seen again. To the naked eye, she may well be the most beautiful creature in the world, but there is one this off about her though, and it's this: one of her legs is in fact that of a cow, complete with a hoof at the end. Since the La Diablesse usually wear long dresses, this leg isn't seen, but once seen, it is enough to break the spell she has on the man.

La Diablesse Origins

The La Diablesse has it's origins in the European myths of the succubus and other myths of beautiful supernatural creatures, beguiling men into infidelity. The origin of it's hoof comes from the idea that whenever the devil manifested, he, for some reason or the other, could not change his feet. Hence many demonic creatures have been associated with having cloven hooves. These thoughts came together in the boiling pot of the Caribbean and created the La Diablesse.

La Diablesse Abilities

La Diablesse have the ability to make men swoon unnaturally. Most men don't remember anything before their appearance, often leaving their girlfriends or wives at the appearance of the creature. In most myths, she would lead them to the silk cotton tree kill them, similar to the Soucouyant myth. They also have the ability to suddenly appear and disappear.

How to defeat a La Diablesse

Legend says that if you turn your clothes inside out and where them, then you'd for sure avoid encountering a La Diablesse, which one, seems somewhat non-sensical and two, would probably make you look stupid as well. However, if you ever did meet a La Diablesse, a lighted match or a lighter would instantly drive her away for fear the her leg would be seen. Once discovered, a La Diablesse would not approach the same man again.

Why La Diablesse are awesome

1) They're hot! No seriously, they are. Demonic and evil, yes, but still hot!!
2) Once under they're spell, it's very hard to escape.
3) They can't be killed, just chased away and avoided.

Why La Diablesse suck

1) They have a really crappy weakness when it comes to that's fire thing.

Personally the La Diablesse is one of my most favorite myths ever. What about you?

Stay tuned for a regular post tomorrow. Bye!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Kill Giants

On Monday, one of my friends lent me a graphical novel entitled "I Kill Giants"by Joe Kelly. The cover seemed innocent enough. Just a picture of a the face a of a cartoonishly drawn little girl. When you turned the cover of the book at a particular angle, you could see the light outline of little fairies scatter all over the cover. The back of the book had no synopsis, just some review comments. When I asked him what it was about, all he could say that it was about a little girl and that anything more than that would be a spoiler. He also said that it would make me cry, which it didn't by the way (well the tears were there but at least they didn't leave my eyes).

Now, to tell you about this, I'll have to tell the story contained within the novel, which is pretty much the spoiler to end all spoilers, so I'm not going to tell you. The book is way way WAY too awesome for you to get a crappy summary on a blog. I'll tell you this much though. The little girl, the protagonist of the story, has a very unique way of dealing with some serious issues affecting her life. It's a book about fighting against something so very hard that you don't even realize that that isn't what you're supposed to be fighting against. Sometimes the enemy isn't out there. Sometimes the enemy is in you. It's in your denial to accept the truth, in you struggle to believe in your self-righteousness. Sometimes the giant is of our own creation.

On the very first page of the book is this little quote from the author. It goes "To those fighting their own giants, you're stronger than you think". It's a theme echoed throughout the book. We always feel that we can defeat outward threats, but inward threats are the most difficult.It's hard to fight yourself, because you are your own limit. But remember, that you are stronger than you think. You can overcome anything, even your own giants. I really do suggest you read that book. It's one of the most wonderful things I've ever read in my entire life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Singles Awareness Day

Everyday on the 14th of February, people all around the globe celebrate Valentine's Day, where they give gifts to their loved ones and the people they consider more than just good friends or hope to one day consider more than just friends. I, personally, have never celebrated Valentine's Day. (Ok, I lied. I celebrated Valentines day in 2007. That was a good year.) I instead celebrate Singles Awareness Day, also known as S.A.D (because it is impossible to come up with a better acronym than that). It's less complicated, a whole lot less expensive and somewhat sadder, depending on how well your Valentines Day goes.

My parents were never really big on the celebration of holidays when I was growing up, so natrually, I never particularly cared that people were giving each other weird cards when I was younger. I guess this disconnect sort of carried over into my teen years, only then, I actually started wanting to give people card and flowers and stuff. The only time I ever felt the need to ask someone to be my Valentine was the day that I mentioned above. It's weird. I want to celebrate Valentines Day. I want to be one of those guys who walks to school with a dozen roses and hands it to a star-struck girl. And at the same time I don't want to be that guy. The guy who believes that his future happiness depends on how much money he can shell out.

I've always been confused on this day, wondering exactly what I should do. The only thing that I'm really sure about is how acutely single I feel on this day, hence the whole S.A.D thing. For some reason this year, either because I was bored or because my inner masochistic tendencies began acting up, I decided to make a S.A.D playlist. It's probably the most emo thing that I've ever done, despite liking all these songs separately. If you wish, you can listen to them on YouTube here. I meant for it to have a particular progression, but I'm not sure I got it right. The thing is, while I was roaming YouTube for songs, I cam across this one:

And I must admit, it's the most comforting all the songs I listened to. To think that there is someone else, maybe celebrating Valentine's Day or S.A.D, who is waiting, even though they themselves don't know it. It may sound like a pipe dream, but I do honestly believe that each one of us has a special someone that's made just for us. That's the way God made us. And maybe next year, I won't be celebrating S.A.D.

Which means I should probably start saving.