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Showing posts from August, 2007

food for thought

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image by J This morning J and his sis accompanied Pa J to the Bright Hill Temple where Pa J paid between $180-230 for a little table of tiny vegetarian dishes for Ma J's hungry ghost. image by J The thing about the 7th month is that despite all the entertainment at Getai , there's something rather oppressive about the living's greedy shouts of "huat ah" (發啊!), the endless burning and that smell everywhere of hell-money/hell-ash, not to mention the thought of generations of hungry ghosts clambouring for food left under trees, on altars, on pavements and makeshift tables. Y: It must be really depressing to believe in this hungry ghost thing. J: ... Y: When you die, only once a year you are released from burning hell to eat and feast. J: ... Y: For all eternity, condemned to this ritual. J: ...Ah, I can't stand it, the air's really horrible - I can't breathe... About actual food - lunch - J and I found this little cafe Food for thought

not with wings

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It's been 30 years - click for larger view It was almost exactly 2 years ago that J and I were looking at the work of independent researcher Koh Nguang How Errata at p-10 . And I'm going to say this: How time flies! Perhaps because lots of other unexpected/unplanned things happened in the 2 years - J and I got married, J quit his job to work on his ampulets design company, and Ma J passed away a year after her stroke - reading the very short "to do" list we had set out then, I realised that other than that short story, the posters, video and T-shirts remain ideas. Two evenings ago, the Singapore Art Museum opened its new small-ish show From Words to Pictures: Art During the Emergency , which builds on the work started by Koh for Errata . Over the years, there's been a steady effort by various curators and researchers/historians to document and re-assert the art of this period, shaped by 2 key organisations - the Singapore Art Society and the Equator Art

young imperialists!

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I heard one of the best explanations for why the arts and culture matter at a Cai Qin concert this weekend with Ma Y. During an interval between singing some old torch songs from the 30/40s Shanghai and moving on to 50/60s Hong Kong, the 50 year-old Taiwanerse singer (of course, it has to be a Taiwanese to speak of culture!) asked the audience if there were days when they felt 全世界都是為年青人而活 (the whole world was living for the young). There was appreciative laughter from the 6000 strong audience, a majority of whom were folks in their middle age or older. She went on to banter about music in the 50s, but again asked the audience if they knew why it was that their children or the young despised them - I think the phrase she had used was closer to "looked down on". Her answer: because the moms and dads had forgotten and did not have their own music. She called on the audience to reclaim some of the space on the CD racks, long colonised by their children - and by extension, re

don't ask

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Be safe - image by J, click for larger view in flickr Of course, from the outside, it is just another run-down shophouse. The door by the side leading to the second floor has a huge handwritten sign taped on it that reads "住家 Residence". We had earlier walked by another shophouse with a similar sign. Ah, definitely a case of 此地無銀三百*! Inside, the ground floor room is empty. Its green-tiled walls are mostly naked, except for a row of faded stickers that state the one business rule "100%/Condoms must be used here" in several languages. The cement floor give the only other clues to this shophouse's previous life. Lines on the floor left by room dividers that have been removed, and holes where the individual sinks have been hacked away. *some kind of Chinese idiom - literally "there's no silver hidden here". Not.

song birds

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karaoke for me - image by J Three nights ago, the temple activities started in anticipation of the 7th month in the form of an all-out community Karaoke. From 6 to 11pm, auntie after uncle after auntie made their requests, trooped up on stage, and belted out songs of sorrow, joy. love and regret - off-key, nasal, all vibralto, or just plain croak-ish. The stage was at a corner of the temple, facing a small plot of empty grass. There was no audience, except the next auntie or uncle waiting by the side; and not even audience of the ghostly kind, since the time of their feasting and release had not started. If not for the coloured tubes of florescent light on stage, it was dark. capture of the cinema screen, the closing shot of the 881 credits - image by J Last night, J and I went to catch Royston Tan's new film 881 (click to view trailers), his musical tribute to the getai and the heartaches of the common man/girl. His previous films 15 and 4:30 were precocious; and the n

3-hour beach holiday

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even workshop elves need a tan I've been finding myself running to and from meetings these days. A good thing I never really fancied wearing high heels. All that running made me think of one of the first mandarin pop songs I heard on radio and had immediately liked - Cheer Chen's 让我想一想 (Let me think a little). The lyrics are probably alluding to a girl's uncertainty and fears at the start of her first romance or something. But since my mandarin's not great, my understanding of that song was and remains completely out of context! For me, it's a song about having that perfect lazy, quiet moment, in the sun, beside the sea, under a tree - when all is still except for the breeze. An understanding about as out of context as why my favourite line from Marvell's The Garden is - "To a green thought in a green shade". 让我想一想 漫步在荒原 我想找一棵栖身的树  有阳光 有流水 还有微风吹... 该如何面对 这未知的一切 让自己的思绪沉淀 随着天色的改变 心情的外衣也要多加一件 这些对 那些好 我想追 我想逃 其实我也害怕... 可不可以就这样停下来  我要多一点时间好让我再想一想