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Showing posts from September, 2005

dedicated to sleepy students

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Help! Help! There's a kid nap! At 11am this morning, I received an SMS from my 17 year-old sis that read something like this: " Oh no! I think I am going to flunk my GP* exam! How? etc etc" Being the older sis who used to be a teacher and a fine survivor of this island's hectic education system, I offered this piece of (useless) advice/comfort: "Don't worry." For the past two weeks, I have come home to find her asleep at the table, her head resting on an open book. "Hey E, why don't you go to sleep?" I would say, nudging her. She would make some sort of a noise, but barely move. On the table I would find a mug, emptied of its coffee. And beside it, a small empty glass jar that used to contain Essence of Chicken . And on the floor a couple of steps away, there must be some 8 cartons-worth of that dark concentrate! Tonight, J and I found her by her table as usual, the book open before her. And though she was seated upright, her hea

human waves

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Finally, a decent novel by Haruki Murakami to erase that nightmare Kafka on the Shore ! If there were any possible excesses in After Dark , they are reined in by the simple formal structure of the book. The novel unfolds from midnight till daybreak, following a set of characters through their sleep or sleeplessness. It is a most rhythmic book, the narrative mimics the slow descent of night with its darkening story, pace and tone; and into the lightheadedness of 4am, a time when secrets are often revealed. And the quick approach of a new day in the novel also offers a quick glimpse into a new start for 2 of the key characters - a reconciliatory, restorative sleep for the insomniac, and the promise of wakefulness for the one in the deepest of emotional slumber. The passing of time is absolute , but the meaning of each hour is perhaps relative or relational. Four o'clock is of meaning only when it is relates to an activity or what does or does not happen at say three or five o&#

Imperfection

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7 random people spotted at cafes I'm no Kabbalist , but I learnt recently that in the book of Revelations 7 is supposed to be a number for perfection and completeness. There's also the lucky 7, the 7 deadly sins, Kurosawa's 7 Samurai , John Ford's The Magnificent Seven ...and now, the blogosphere's 7 meme that malefactor and thirty pounces tagged me with. It seemed simple enough to complete at first: 7 lists of 7 items. But I was wrong. And since perfection in life is an impossibility on this fallen earth, here's my imperfect 7. 7 things that scare me: 1. Horror movies...even trailers for horror movies 2. Empty public toilets 3. Quiet, empty streets at night 4. Taking the lift alone at night (thanks to trailers for Dark Water ) 5. Losing family/friends to disease/death 6. Heights 7. Lizards 7 things I like the most: 1. Chowchow (see #1 next) 2. A late morning coffee at Killiney Kopitiam on a weekday when everyone else is working 3. BBQ chicken wing

have your cake, eat it

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A child suspect! J was observing a photo shoot today at work involving a family scene. He told me this story of what he had overheard at the photo shoot. I stole the story to re-tell it to you here... One of the "talents" at the photo shoot was a 4 year old girl who spent most of the breaks drawing, making cards for every one there. GIRL: Mommy, when I grow up I want to still draw like this every day. MOM: You sure? If you do, you won't have enought money to buy all the nice things. GIRL: Oh. [ Pause, clearly disappointed ] I want to buy nice things. MOM: Then you must be like your daddy, be a banker. GIRL: Oh, ok! I'll be a banker and I'll draw everyday! Now, mommy, why didn't you think of that? My encounter was with a smart girl of a different sort. Catching me probably sketching her, she quickly cast me a suspicious look. Little girl, don't you think you are far more suspect, taking the morning train all alone?

get the girl some poetry

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Chinese ink drawing from years ago The mid-autumn festival is my favouritest of festivals (yes, monster ru, miles better than the delicious but tiresome Chinese New Year), only because it is the most poetic. There is no poetry in Chinese New Year - all fake firecrackers, bad television, the greedy examination of ang baos* (I confess!), inquisitive relatives who might as well have been strangers, and long warm car rides with dad, mom, sis, bro, aunt and mandarin oranges. Even those auspicious idioms chanted like spells as the yusheng is tossed and the endless puns with luck-prosperity-wealth-health-plenty are just words enslaved to avarice and anxiety. But the mid-autumn festival is different. It has all the ingredients for a perfect poetry - Firstly, there is the moon, perfect in its glow and geometry. On it are supposedly a bunny and the annual meeting of star-crossed lovers (a cross-species love, since she is a fairy and he a mortal). He would have traveled the milky way t

THEY ARE HERE!!!

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We brought the T-shirts home in a big red plastic bag today. Our babies! Finally. So go check out the Starry starry Wings and Down with Love T-shirts at ampulets-supplies , and the outcome of our living room fashion shoot.

Akan Datang...

Mrs Tan just called to say that we can go collect the Starry starry Wings and Down with Love T-shirts tomorrow! Hoorah! So folks, check back here tomorrow for the T-shirt "fashion shoot" where ampulets will play models...and get your wallets ready please!

family

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I spent the evening having a long chat with my aunt who recently had a worrying healthcheck . Even though we live under the same roof, it must have been more than a year (or two!) since we both last sat and had a conversation that went beyond three sentences. I'll stop here before I start sounding like a MCYS campaign, and leave you instead with this picture. The weekend's coming up - is there someone you are thinking of?

scaredy cat

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Scaredy Cat, scaredy cat run away when you see a rat - image by J It's only been one week, but he has changed. "No longer civil," J concluded solemnly. He is crouched by the tree, in exactly the same spot as the past few weeks - but his posture says that he will at any moment jump, scoot, spring into the drain - and away. Gone is the open, curious gaze. Maybe the past one week has taught the cat-man to fear losing one of his nine lives to some sick, nasty passer-by. I guess fear and possession together make a two-edged sword. The more you possess, the more you fear losing any of it. Yet if you say you fear losing nothing, does it mean that there is nothing valuable enough for you to want to protect, love and hold on to? If this fear is so real, how complete or absolute can our possession be? The people, property, experiences, and experiences that become memories (hmm, where do memories go after they leave us?) we think we possess. And on a larger mate

living and loving

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WARNING If you have not watched the film Eric Khoo's Be With Me , there are major spoilers in this post. It's really quite a decent - ok, good - film, so go watch then come back here and tell me what you think yah? The inadequacy of words to express what we feel or mean is not an uncommon theme in cinema or theatre. We have often accused words of betraying, hurting (even if inadvertantly), distracting, misleading. Those blessed with the capacity for speech do poorly in Eric Khoo's latest film Be with me . In 2 of the 3 inter-linked stories that make up this film, the spoken word cannot bring people together. There's probably only 1 page worth of spoken script, but when these characters do speak, they mostly use their lips to insult or curse. A lonely and abused security guard plans to confess his crush on a woman (a stranger he follows) through a letter instead, though the letter is never read. 2 teenage girls who fall in and out of love meet and bear their hearts

Everyone wants to be Eileen Chang

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So do I. Except I don't want to die alone in an apartment somewhere in LA. A recluse - my body found only days later. Zhang Ai Ling - I prefer her Chinese name instead og Eileen Chang - was nothing less than a literary phenomenon. Despite the fact that most of her works were written only within a short span of 3-5 years in her late 20s-30s, and came to a virtual stop once she moved to America, her works continued to be printed and discussed - and she continues to be pursued, possessed and resurrected by her fans in coffee table books, literary criticism, short films, paintings, poems... I guess she was like the Haruki Murakami of Chinese writing - and more. She was part-real, part-myth. Her life had all the promises of a grand drama, but she escaped them or simply passed them over, diffused them in the quiet melodrama of her fiction (which lend themselves well to film - Stanley Kwan's Red Rose White Rose , Ann Hui's Eighteen Springs and Love in a Fallen City ). B

cat man

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J fulfills his promise with this virgin post: This fellow is outside Y's house every sunday night. I saw him again, late tonight, when i walked out to catch a cab. This time he brought the whitest white friend along this time, maybe the girlfriend. They kept staring at me. A long hard stare - but not vicious, a somewhat longing, curious, wanna-be-friends type of look. When i walked further, a tree blocked his view, so he tilted his head to continue the stare. Then he glanced at his friend, as if to say "See! I told you, this guy always walks by here." We saw him again last night . With the same stare, unhurried, unwary. Not watching, but looking. I was thinking - what a human gaze! . Maybe because this chap has a head of black fur above its eyes, the fringe slightly parted in the middle, and 2 streaks down the side of its face, like sideburns. I've been thinking. Whatever inspired God to make them cats? In fact, all the animals - then place them on this earth,

No advertising agency please

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We love Photoshop - photos of the factory by J with his Nokia Mr and Mrs Tan run a T-shirt silkscreen place at the top floor of a factory block at Paya Lebar. I spoke to Mr Tan over the phone before we trooped there yesterday (aiya, in my rush, I left the house without the Tshirt designs, heh) - and corrected some of our preconceptions about each other: Y : So I just bring the file to your place, a CD or... Mr Tan : I got no computer. Just print on paper and bring. Y : No computer...? Oh, ok. Mr Tan : So what school you from ah? Y : Er, no, I am not in school... [ you won't charge me more because I am not a jobless 16 year-old right? ] So what kind of place does Mr Tan run? Well, besides having no computers, a sign outside his shop declared: No salesagent No middleman No advertising agency Whew, lucky it didn't say "No civil servants"! Behind the wooden door is a cool, dark, musty room - a place for mushrooms to...mushroom. There were silkscreens ly

pianica lessons

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Last night was The Observatory 's launch of their 2nd album Blank Walls with a performance at the Esplanade's recital studio. Sitting on the teal-coloured lecture hall chairs while the band played sure made for a strange concert experience. But since I am no music reviewer, maybe I will start with The Pianica . Ah, the pianica! This must be what makes The Observatory a local band... As with the recorder, every kid has to go through these pianica lessons when they are in Primary school - didn't you? The pianica doesn't make a very pleasant sound - especially when it is being played by forty 9-year olds together, badly. It lets out flat and plasticky notes, like an accordian on a leash - the notes yanked back before they are completely played. But I remember clearly 2 songs during the concert when the pianica was played. Amidst the lush layers of guitars, drums, keyboards and some lovely ambient sounds, the plastic pianica first carved out its own strangely plastic

in the navel of a muppet

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It was similar to one of those LOTR personality tests, except it required less effort and a much more straightforward sense of honesty. You just typed your name in the space indicated on the excel sheet and...your ideal job appears. Of course! Why hadn't I realised this before during my other navel gazes? I had thought about being a writer (aiyah, no Golden Point award for my story :< ), joining the family business , growing up to be or a a chwee kueh hawker ...but a Muppet Impersonator ! Of course, this would explain all those daydreams J and I (ok, mostly me) have about doing voiceovers for cartoons, acting in kids TV shows...and Aksi Mat Yoyo (with that catchy theme song in the lazy 5pm air of childhood). So when an old friend from university I was having dinner with suddenly asked if I would like to volunteer for his church's puppet group that will be putting up a show at an old folk's home, I said "why not". J and I went for their first practice