Who Has The Crystal Ball?

Ten minutes into this Sunday’s Skypecast, I knew I desperately needed some help. Sure, Marian from Germany helped to handle the virtual microphone, and Paulino, Argentine leaving in the U.S. offered his hands to handle the text message board. That freed me to focus on hosting. Still, I was in deep water.

Over 30 something people joined us at the beginning, and it grew to about 50 in the peak. I made a snap decision not to ask all to introduce themselves one by one to the group, as I did before, and not to ask some of them to share a news item in turn with the listeners. Otherwise, we could have spent whole two hours just to read off a long roster. So I appointed myself to be the king, choosing a few news items that I thought would be interested to most listeners.

Here are the topics I shared with the group: Sony’s latest game console Playstation was selling through the roof worldwide; O.J.Simpson’s latest supposedly confession book was canceled by the publisher because of the outcries from the public; the daughter of the U.S. president Bush was robbed in Argentina; and a mother nursing a baby without a cover was ordered to leave off the airplane she boarded.

I swear, if anyone had a crystal ball for choosing right topics for a dynamic group discussion, I’d pay a fortune to get it. Because no matter how encouraging I was to urge the listeners to share their views, almost no one, out of 50 some people, cared to speak up.

Then came a Brazilian. The moment he opened mouth, I knew exactly how, in a fable, the naked emperor felt when a boy called out “but he has no clothes on.” After hearing me rambling on the Sony’s Playstation, the Brazilian said in frustration: “Hey, you. Talk something funny; we Brazilians don’t like serious topics.”

I congratulated myself silently for not bring up the first two news items originally on my list: Nobel peace price and microfinance helping the poor, and the latest political assignation in Lebanon.

Fortunately, a few found it’s funny that the petty thief in Argentina could get around the bodyguard and snatched the purse out of Bush’s daughter. It got the conversation going for a while. Then it dried up. Even the news of a young mother’s milk to nurse a baby in public wouldn’t get the conversation flowing.

Marian and Paulino stepped in to help. They thought the funny movie Borat would lighten up the group. So they put out a YouTube link that shows the trailer of the movie, and asked everyone to share his or her views about the movie. I didn’t know whether the trick worked or not, because I stepped away for a few minutes and, when I came back, everyone was talking about how to make a billion dollars in one year, like the founders of YouTube did.

Making a billion dollar in a year? That’s funny to me.

(Edited and links by Paulino)

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