Showing posts from May, 2007

alternative worlds

It finally rained. That and a public holiday make a perfect reading day. First up was Joan Didion's 1970 novel Play it as it lays . Having read her A Year of Magical Thinking recently , I had picked up a collection of her essays and this novel. Though set in the Hollywood of the 60s, it is perhaps less about the Californian sunshine than the somewhat toxic and barren Nevada and Las Vegas - the venom of rattlesnakes, the nothingness of chance on the game table, and disrupted childhoods (abortions, a child in hospital, mothers who die in the desert). Of course, there's drugs, alcohol, parties, loveless sex, depression, divorces, expired careers and suicide. All of this would be too much to read if not for the elliptical, episodic structure - the short, brutal bursts, minimising yet intensifying the readers' contact with Maria Wyeth, our Virgilian guide into this hell, but not quite. It is readable also because it is so distant from our tropical island - in time and space.

What you learn at art class (part 4)

longevity versus immortality versus AI That all good things do come to an end - OK, so endings have marked 2007 so far for us amps anyway - this passing away - and not just at art class. Still, when I handed in a set of 6 prints on Monday for assessment, officially marking the completion of a whole year of part-time printmaking classes, there was a sense of something valuable having come to an end. I haven't written much about these classes in the last 6 months because work had kept me away from them half the time. A real pity. Because in these last few months, the classes had covered several techniques for screenprinting and photo-etching...techniques which demand a whole new level of care, focus, precision - and patience. Even if they do take time. I think there's supposedly a whole go slow movement in managementspeak. But it's better to ignore that universe. For me at least, art offers perhaps simpler lessons. One evening, having rushed to class some 2 hour


us amps are happy with HK graphic design magazine idN 's open policy of publishing all entries to their 15 anniversary logo design competition. J made 2, together with many many others whose names go from addison chen to zhu lei. But on the topic of 15, friends, here's a trick I learnt about HDB lifts (or does it work for all lifts?) from a 12(?) year-old girl who got into the same lift as me, politely asked what floor I lived on, mis-heard my answer, pressed the wrong button, heard my correction, then - voila manages to clear the erroneous selection on the lift panel! I was amazed. But when I told J about it the little trick I had learnt, he just laughed with some disdain. Supposedly, everyone knows that all you have to do when you press a wrong button on the lift, say 14 instead of 15, you just have to simultaneously press all the buttons on the same row as 14 (say 13, 14, 15) and the lift resets to blank.

resting place

At the columbarium. ( our flickr sites are back up again. ) Over the weekend, J and I learnt 2 things about real estate. (1) The most expensive real estate you can buy is in a columbarium. Assuming the base area of an urn is 400cm2, or just 4% of a 1 square meter(sqm), 1 sqm of columbarium real estate ranges from S$15,000 to S$300,000! Our apartment, for instance, works out to be only about $2400 per sqm. OK, the comparison is glib, but as we walked around the Bright Hill Monastry columbarium in search of a better resting place for Ma J's ashes, all there was on everyone's minds was just how much more it would cost - and why. For some of J's family, there was of course other things on their minds - if they should offend any of the spirits. There was a smell of incense everywhere, and an incessant chanting. Even in the air-conditioned columbarium room, there was chanting played over the PA. Needless to say, for me, there was nothing restful about this place. >$600 for a 6


My superpower - playing dead. Image and apron by J. This is how I feel. Which dear J captured so well in an apron he painted for me... a greenish soursop heart walked over by 2 birds, a gigantic spleen, a blockish blue liver ("because our body is 3/4 water!"), lungs looking like aged blood stains, and wriggly intestines with an escaped bloth of blue liver. There's no stomach. It's spread all over behind the heart and spleen - yellow, all bile. Why I do my job, I have almost forgotten. And when I think about what I've gotten myself into, I think I somewhat fear being entrenched in some system. wheyface asked if my job is taking up "mindspace" (her lingo for an invasive job, taking away precious personal space and energy to think - and write), she was spot-on. J wrote in his photoblog : "The PM said that for a small country of 3 million people, what the Singapore Government said actually registered on the Super Power's (US) radar, that is really


J: Last night after dinner, they told me about all the supposed creepy things that have happened since. Did you hear what they said? Y: Nope. You mean they saw Ma J's ghost? J: Something like this. One night, sis-in-law C dreamt that Ma J was lying just beside the dining table talking to her. She can't remember much about what was said, except Ma J asking her to look after Pa J. It seemed that that the next day, Pa J found a very large moth resting on the same spot! Y: It's the season for moths again. J: The thing is Pa J believed that it was Ma J's spirit, and so they placed a chair over the moth, in case someone accidentally trampled on it. That night, he took the moth into his bedroom. But the next morning, Pa J no longer found the moth beside him. Instead, he found the moth resting by at the telephone [ Talking on the phone was Ma J's favourite past time next to cooking ] - in fact, it had died. He cremated the moth. Y: Ah. J: Everyone now believes Ma J