Friday, December 30, 2005

William Taubman spent 20 years researching Khrushchev: The Man and His Era. It seems a marvel to me how all that effort, sustained over so many years, now weighs so lightly on my hands!

Taubman is clearly an unsympathetic biographer. He gives his subject credit where it's due, but doesn't hesitate to be critical where necessary (which is most of the time). It's clear that Khrushchev was no moral exemplar, no great strategist or thinker -- not even a good father. As a national leader, he was a blunderer. The more he tried to show how capable or strong he was, the less people thought of him.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I was very disappointed by Peter Kuper's comic adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. I don't have a problem with the style, resembling caricaturish woodcut prints, but the art and overall treatment is flippant. Kuper doesn't seem to have bothered capturing any deeper meaning behind Gregor's horror, choosing instead to let his own cleverness run riot. For instance, on one page the text follows Gregor haphazardly around the page, mirroring his ascent up the wall.

To cap it all off, Kuper thanks Kafka for being "kind enough to put pen to paper in the first place", as if Kafka's tortured work came from some kind of charity dinner altruism. Oh, we'd like to thank Mr. So-and-So who was kind enough to donate a halibut. Infuriating.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"I almost think that if I'd gotten the Nobel Prize when The Recognitions was published I wouldn't have been terribly surprised," Gaddis told The Paris Review in 1986, adding that the book's reception had been "sobering" and "humbling." Maybe if the novel had met with greater acclaim Gaddis would have relaxed a little; maybe Wyatt's "what is it they want" tirade, like his other puritanisms, would have been revealed as a skinny-young-man attitude to be outgrown. I doubt it, though. The book is about the everyday world's indifference to the superior reality of art. Its last line ("with high regard, though seldom played") unmistakably prefigure its own reception. Nurturing the hope that your marginal novel will be celebrated by the mainstream - the Cassandra-like wish that people will thank you for telling them unwelcome truths - is a ritual way of ensuring disappointment, of reaffirming your own world-denying status, of mortifying the flesh, of remaining, at heart, an angry young man. In the four decades following the publication of The Recognitions, Gaddis's work grew angrier and angrier. It's a signature paradox of literary postmodernism: the writer whose least angry work was written first.

--- Jonathan Franzen, "Mr Difficult" in How To Be Alone

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's all too easy, therefore, to forget how frequently good artists throughout the ages have insisted, as Auden put it, that "art makes nothing happen." It's all too easy to jump from the knowledge that the novel can have agency to the conviction that it must have agency. Nabokov pretty well summed up the political platform that every novelist can endorse: no censorship, good universal education, no portraits of heads of state larger than a postage stamp. If we go any further than that, our agendas begin to diverge radically. What emerges as the belief that unifies us is not that a novel can change anything but that it can preserve something. The thing being preserved depends on the writer; it may be as private as "My Interesting Childhood." But as the country grows ever more distracted and mesmerized by mass culture, the stakes rise even for authors whose primary ambition is to land a teaching job. Whether they think about it or not, novelists are preserving a tradition of precise, expressive language; a habit of looking past surfaces into interiors; maybe an understanding of private experience and public context as distinct but interpenetrating; maybe mystery, maybe manners. Above all, they are preserving a community of readers and writers, and the way in which members of this community recognize each other is that nothing in the world seems simple to them.

--- Jonathan Franzen, "Why Bother?" in How To Be Alone

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A nation which ignores and does not encourage its theatre is, if not culturally dead, culturally pitiable; just as the theatre which ignores the drama of its people, and fails to register their trials as well as their triumphs, their tears and their laughter, has little right to call itself a national theatre, but merely as amusement hall, a place for those who attend merely to "kill time".

-- Goh Poh Seng

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I'll put the chairs on the table, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.

--- Neil Gaiman
"Dream Country: Fa�ade"
Sandman #20

Monday, November 14, 2005

Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.

--- Neil Gaiman
"Dream Country: A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Sandman #19

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Lvov: Why have you brought me to this house of reptiles? This is not a place where honest people should be seen.

Anna: Would you mind, Doctor, can I give you a social tip? It's bad manners to take a lady out and keep on about how honest you are. Perhaps it's true but nobody wants to know. I promise you, it's good advice. Don't draw attention to your virtues. Let women discover them for themselves. When Nikolai was your age, then he did nothing but sing songs and tell stories. And there wasn't one woman alive who couldn't sense what a fine man he was.

Lvov: Please. Don't compare me with Nikolai. I know everything about him.

Anna: No. You don't. You're a good man but you know nothing. Let's go into the garden. Nikolai never used to rail against the menagerie. You never heard Nikolai call people reptiles. Or boast about his own superiority. He left people alone to live their own lives. If he spoke at all it was to blame himself for his own impatience, or to express his pity for some poor soul. That's how he was. Forgiving. Not like you...

--- Anton Chekov, Ivanov, Act 2 Sc 10. Adapted by David Hare.

Friday, November 04, 2005

In the late 1980s, however, ABC was purchased by Capital Cities, a media conglomerate, which in an attempt to signal the change of ownership demanded that the Rand logo be altered or scrapped. Once again, various designers were called upon to better the original (Rand was not invited to participate), and new versions included such tropes as stylized stars and eagles (to emphasize the American in ABC). But none could equal the simplicity of the existing mark. After the failed attempt at change was over, a bemused Rand commented: 'It was a great mistake, not because it was the greatest logo in the world, but even a bad logo shouldn't be changed except for very good reasons. Because a logo doesn't represent a company. The company represents the logo. If you're a lousy company, your logo is useless, no matter how well designed. If your logo is good, and you're a good company, you have an ideal situation. If the company is bad, it's a bad logo. So the idea of changing a logo without recognizing the importance of the change is stupid.'

--- Steven Heller, Paul Rand

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

If the search for justice can be seen as Tempo's "paraideology", in practical terms this meant that for Tempo journalists, being "balanced" in a system that was inherently unbalanced was not enough. "There was one incident I remember from early on," Goenawan said, "it was when Tempo was in Senen. The law editor reported a story, something very evenhanded. But then the side of the weak was overshadowed, simply because he was weak. And I discovered that being even was not enough. And we had a debate about it, whether we should be so impartial, so even, when the victims are very weak. And we changed the story. We killed that story. And so I think from then on we decided that being even was not enough. Because before the philosophy had been to cover both sides. And we discovered it was not so easy."

--- Janet Steele, Wars Within: The Story of Tempo,
an Independent Magazine in Soeharto?s Indonesia

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

WOMAN: I was created of Nu and Wa, the sister and brother whose union marks the beginnings of the human race.

NARRATOR: (Sage Chinese accent) She is sometimes described as having a human head but the body of a snake or fish. Bi-zarre.

WOMAN: Having the head of one species and the body of another may sound bi-zarre to you, but if you think about it with the Chinese part of your brain, it will be easier for you to understand. You see, it is very difficult to imagine a goddess with bound feet. Can you see me as a two-year-old goddess held down on a bed with cotton in my mouth to gag my screams while my foot is bent inwards into itself until the tender arch snaps and breaks? And can you see me, lovely ephemeral creature that I am, unwinding the stinking bandages from my feet once a week, to squeeze out the pus and cut away the dying flesh? But for many years, you couldn't be a lady without bound feet, and can you imagine a goddess that isn't also a lady? So, the solution... if you have the body of a snake or fish you can still have a beautiful face and be a lady without having bound feet.

--- Ovidia Yu, The Woman in a Tree on a Hill

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

As a management consultant, I've visited my share of offices that send out confused signals. Not too long ago the window office, walnut desk and leather chair were nearly as important as the salary in reflecting executive status. In this carrot-and-stick model, only the champions earned leather and wood. But I know firsthand that lots of folks rebel against that work model. I still remember the day I interviewed at the consulting division of one of the big accounting firms. Great people. Reputable firm. Reasonable salary. It all looked pretty good until I asked to see what my office space would be like as a new associate.

First, my simple question about space flushed out the truth about lifestyle. Suddenly, I heard that you travel so much you don't really need a desk, which was a different story than I had heard earlier. Second, I got a clear signal about how they valued new associates. Not only did I not get a desk, I didn't get a filing cabinet or even a drawer. Where would I store my files and things? I'd share a gray sheet-metal utility shelf with another associate, my portion marked only by my name scribbled on a piece of masking tape. Maybe it wasn't quite rational that I turned down the job offer partly because of a gray utility shelf, but the space had communicated a lot about the firm's culture, and I wonder how much talent was fended off over the years because the "body language" of the firm said, "New associates don?t matter."

--- Tom Kelley (with Jonathan Littman), The Art of Innovation

Monday, October 24, 2005

"I assume you've read some of Kafka's stories?"

I nod. "The Castle, and The Trial, 'Metamorphosis'. Plus that weird story about an execution device."

"'In the Penal Colony'," Oshima says. "I love that story. Only Kafka could have written it."

"That's my favorite of his short stories."


I nod.

"Why's that?"

It takes me a while to gather my thoughts. "I think what Kafka does is give a purely mechanical explanation of that complex machine in the story, as sort of a substitute for explaining the situation we're in. What I mean is..." I have to give it some more thought. "What I mean is, that's his own device for explaining the kind of lives we lead. Not by talking about our situation, but by talking about the details of the machine."

--- Murakami Haruki, Kafka on the Shore
(trans. Philip Gabriel)

Friday, October 21, 2005


LESLEY: Are we so difficult for you?


LESLEY: Do we seem so wrong? (Pause from Grace. Lesley laughs gently) In London, whoever came home first would get dinner. Whoever was later would do the dishes and take out the garbage. Ellen would work late just to avoid dinner duty. On Saturday mornings we would clean house, do the laundry, lug grocery bags up five flights of stairs. On Sundays, we would fight over the weekend paper, have friends over for dinner, run out of paper napkins. Earthshaking, wasn't it? But you know how it is already.

GRACE: Yes. And you know that's exactly why it's so difficult.


--- Eleanor Wong, Wills and Secession

Thursday, October 20, 2005

From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. Not light, exactly, but a glow that could be mistaken for light - a coital radiance that takes generations to pour like honey through the darkness to the astronaut's eyes.

In about one and a half centuries - after the lovers who made the glow will have long since been laid permanently on their backs - metropolises will be seen from space. They will glow all year. Smaller cities will also be seen, but with great difficulty. Shtetls will be virtually impossible to spot. Individual couples, invisible.

The glow is born from the sum of thousands of loves: newlyweds and teenagers who spark like lighters out of butane, pairs of men who burn fast and bright, pairs of women who illuminate for hours with soft multiple glows, orgies like rock and flint toys sold at festivals, couples trying unsuccessfully to have children who burn their frustrated image on the continent like the bloom a bright light leaves on the eye after you turn away from it.

Some nights, some places are a little brighter. It's difficult to stare at New York City on Valentine's Day, or Dublin on St. Patrick's. The old walled city of Jerusalem lights up like a candle on each of Chanukah's eight nights. Trachimday is the only time all year when the tiny village of Trachimbrod can be seen from space, when enough copulative voltage is generated to sex the Polish-Ukrainian skies electric. We're here, the glow of 1804 will say in one and a half centuries. We're here, and we're alive.

--- Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

Friday, October 07, 2005

To all who wrote, thank you.

Cleanse my heart, give me the ability to rage correctly. -- Joe Orton

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The modern industrial society, or that part of it which is composed of the large corporations, is in all essentials a planned economy. By that I mean that production decisions are taken not in response to consumer demand as expressed in the market, rather, they are taken by producers. These decisions are reflected in the prices that are set in the market, and in the further steps taken to ensure that people will buy what is produced and sold at those prices. The ultimate influence is authority.

--- J.K. Galbraith

Monday, August 08, 2005

Before the pirated copy of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou dissolved into a hail of static, Steve Zissou (wonderfully underplayed by Bill Murray) met his long-lost illegitimate son:

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Are there words to be said? Yes, oh yes. But a blog might not be the most appropriate medium. Blogging is not the same as writing, imho. And with the minutes I snatch out of each day, I would like to be writing instead of blogging.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Heard about Screen Singapore yet? 31 days of Singapore film! :D

Friday, July 01, 2005

Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) can be considered a great explorer, and the STB has set up an exhibition based on Gavin Menzie's questionable book 1421 to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Zheng's first voyage. This is just the first of many events planned -- including the reconstruction of "Dragon's Teeth Gate" (Long Ya Men) an ancient rock formation blown up in the 1880s that Zheng He might have seen, and whose actual appearance no-one can be certain of.

Doesn't anyone find it culturally absurd that we're commemorating an explorer who has almost no link to Singapore whatsoever other than that he passed by and might have used us as a resupply point?Xinhua carried an article on this -- bet the China Chinese are amused.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Singapore's 1st Fantastic Film Festival is over. We never got the response we weren't expecting, but we forgive all the people who went to watch Initial D instead. To everyone who did turn up -- a big Thank You! Your support mattered (and umm... we're still friends right?).

And now for the post-festival paperwork. And bills. Ugh.

There's a good amount of paperwork to do after the festival

Now, why didn't I read this before agreeing to work with Dave? So, You Want To Start a Film Festival - Don't.
Hello :)

You realize the sun don't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world
Spinning 'round

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Faster Talk: Apple in Their Eyes

Six companies talk about how they're building products to rival the iPod. All of them agree that just copying Apple is a bad idea, and all six have different strategies to tackle the market leader. Well, four actually since the Sony and Dell representatives say nothing useful whatsoever -- skip those. Sim Wong Hoo from Creative weighs in at the end; he's the only one who laments Apple's multi-million dollar marketing budget.
So the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Big Media in MGM vs. Grokster:

"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties," Justice Souter wrote.

But there's a fine silver lining, as noted here: Hollywood triumphs in piracy fight.

Eric Garland, the CEO of file-sharing tracker BigChampagne who has followed the Grokster case closely, said Hollywood & Co. was looking to the Supreme Court to rule that peer-to-peer technology is illegal because it's used mostly for illegitimate purposes.

But the court, said Garland, sidestepped the issue in Grokster by focusing instead on how Grokster and StreamCast marketed themselves to potential customers.

"The entertainment industry really needed this to be about the technology. What they didn't get was a decision that said 'tools that allow people to exchange files freely on the Internet, without permission, are illegal,'" said Garland.

Not all is lost.

Friday, June 24, 2005

BBC's In Our Time is running a poll for the "Greatest Philsopher" . The Economist also weighs in. Don't let Marx win ;D

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

As Belle & Sebastian sing softly in the background, I'm making up a story. This is a tiny part of my work for now.

I'm being reminded of how good it feels to be writing something fictional.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The appeal of Star Wars is really a reflection of society's uneasiness about geeks, scientists and techies? Neal Stephenson on Star Wars: Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out.
Time travel has always had a major loophole -- that a time traveller going back in time can change the present such that he/she wouldn't have to go back in time to begin with. Researchers suggest a solution -- New model 'permits time travel' -- but it all smacks of Baron Munchausen to me still :p

Well, as a sticker on a door in my old dorm read, "Wherever you go, there you are."
Bought a PSP 2nd hand over the weekend, with 3 games: Wipeout Pure, Ridge Racers and Minna no Golf (Hot Shots Golf). I can see how Minna no Golf can be interesting -- it's like a golf RPG with chibi characters that you can customise, but I'm not a fan of golf at all. Although every review out there says that Minna no Golf is plain fun it just doesn't appeal to me. Maybe I should play it a little more?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

As promised, the scan of the 1st Singapore Fantastic Film Festival brochure cover. Kudos to Don Low for the visually-arresting art! If it doesn't look as great as it should, that's my scanner's fault and not Don's :)  Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

Margaret Atwood on why we need science fiction: 'Aliens have taken the place of angels'
Thus, the utopia and the dystopia, which have proved over and over again that we have a better idea about how to make hell on earth than we do about how to make heaven.
Inspired by the folks at DVZine, I'm trying to touch-type in Dvorak. The layout is more intuitive than the Qwerty one, but the learning curve is still steep. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Brochures for the Singapore Fantastic Film Festival are out, and they look bloody awesome. That little picture on the SFS website does not do justice to Don Low's gorgeous artwork. The all-colour layout's a joy to behold too! Pick up your free copy at Library@Esplanade, GV Marina and The Substation. I'll see if I can put up a scan.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

From The Nation: a slightly rambling commentary on the literature concerning Billie Holiday. The writer also talks about Holiday's colourful life, the people who knew her, her music and of course, Holiday's unforgettable voice.

The Nation -- "The First Lady of Song"
Wired magazine discusses the OECD report on digital music -- Wired News: Come On Music Biz, Embrace P2P. The OECD report finds that there isn't a clear link between piracy and falling revenues in the music industry, contrary to what that industry wants you to believe. Moreover, it also affirms the potential of P2P networks for legitimate uses. Lastly, it exhorts record companies to adopt online technologies instead of trying to ban them right away.

Read the report for yourself. .
Royksopp's new music video: Only This Moment.

Oh, and I got Tomorrow-ed yesterday! :D

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Presenting Singapore's very first Fantastic Film Festival - SF^3, a celebration of the versatility of the human imagination. Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and all the good stuff Hollywood won't touch with a 10-foot pole. We also have a character concept design workshop, and a showcase of work from local filmmakers.

So do something different. Do something Fantastic. 23 - 28 June 2005
If you don't know already, Neil Gaiman will be in Singapore 4 - 6 July. According to *ahem* sources , He'll be at Kinokuniya Orchard on the 5th, 4.30 - 6.30pm, and at Borders on the 6th, 6 - 8 pm.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I didn't think when I saw Belle & Sebastian's collection of B-sides -- Push Barman To Open Old Wounds -- at HMV. Pushed the necessary buttons, plucked the headphones off the peg, and waited. As the strains of Dog On Wheels flowed, I remembered how familiar the band once was. Once, when I was still with you.

The album cover stared me in the face, and the title was ironic. My thoughts turned inward. Yes, the scars are still there. I notice them often, but they've ceased to itch for a long time.

I listened to the Tang Quartet's first album The Art of War right after, thinking they should have recorded in a proper studio for the acoustics and -- Would you agree, if I asked you out for a drink?
There's going to be an International Joyce Exhibition on the life and work of James Joyce here. 13-17 June, Singapore Art Museum Glass Hall. All part of the celebrations marking "Bloomsday".
Do you remember apartheid?

Obituary | Hamilton Naki |

He should have gotten the accolades and rewards he rightfully deserved, if not for the racist, oppressive social framework his government enforced with guns and laws.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Who says self-pity doesn't pay? From the NYT: The Case Against Coldplay

Unfortunately, all that sonic splendor orchestrates Mr. Martin's voice and lyrics. He places his melodies near the top of his range to sound more fragile, so the tunes straddle the break between his radiant tenor voice and his falsetto. As he hops between them - in what may be Coldplay's most annoying tic - he makes a sound somewhere between a yodel and a hiccup.
Female orgasms may serve an evolutionary purpose: Genes key to women's ability to reach orgasm - Study.

Which is interesting, but I wonder: since women have not had the power to choose their partners for most of recorded human history, what evolutionary purpose would the female big O serve?
The porn industry is largely responsible for fueling the explosive take-off of many new communications technologies. VHS, Cable TV, DVD (and going way back maybe even books and languages). So will porn do the same for the PSP and Sony's UMD proprietary format? ;)

Wired News: Call It the PlayStation Porn-Able

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Speaking of epidemics and pandemics , there are of course simulations of epidemics and how they spread. The largest individual-based epidemiology simulation computer model right now seems to be "Episims", and the findings drawn from running Episims are quite interesting. One of these findings is an illustration of how diseases spread exponentially, such that isolating individuals is not as effective as how quickly authorities act.

Take a look: If Smallpox Strikes Portland...
The UK government wants to extend copyright duration on pop songs to almost 100 years: Plan to extend copyright on pop classics - Sunday Times - Times Online. This is similar to what the Americans already have -- 90 years of protection for corporations artists.

Isn't this overkill? The common argument for copyright is that the monopoly power it confers encourages creativity, but there is so much evidence to show that these laws, in their present form, stifle creativity.
Someone's proven that cold fusion reactions are, indeed, possible: Coming in out of the cold: Cold fusion, for real

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I stopped blogging for so long because I thought I could put the time spent typing, editing and re-editing, to more productive uses.

Well, sadly that hasn't been the case. I don't think that I've accomplished very much with my "extra" time. Besides, I'm on the Internet all the time in my new job.

So here I am. If you've been coming back to this page over and over again, only to be frustrated by the lack of new entries, I'm sorry and I thank you. Please continue sticking around.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Higher Risk: Crystal meth, the Internet, and dangerous choices about AIDS -- a lengthy article from The New Yorker that's a bit unfocused. I think it's worth reading, especially from a public policy perspective, because it illustrates the complexity and messiness that lurk behind statistics.

Crystal meth use, the Internet and certain characteristics of the gay community (including the effects of stigmatisation by the rest of society) are all factors in the explosion of HIV infection rates among gay communities in large urban areas. They all interact in non-linear ways (a bit of an understatement really), suggesting that at the very least an inter-agency approach is necessary to even begin tackling the problem.

What's also interesting (alarming or depressing or disturbing -- depending on your point of view) are the mathematics involved -- how a tiny window of infection can still fuel an epidemic -- and how people in general fail to properly manage risks.

Say, think Dr Balaji might be interested?
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), responsible for the treaties that governments use to coordinate their IP laws, has organised an online forum from 1 -15 June 2005: Online Forum on Intellectual Property in the Information Society.
Salman Rushdie slams a toothless atheism: Just give me that old-time atheism!
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later: Japanese company to publish erotica for PSP
For me, being drunk feels like being sleep-deprived and vice-versa. One of the commonalities between the two states is that I start using bigger words and form more complex sentences. Another is that I start getting more particular about, well, everything.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

From The New Yorker, the most damning, irreverent review of Revenge of the Sith.

I wish I could write like that.
Penguin Remixed -

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Just got back from the Star Wars Ep III premiere! Much better than I and II, chiefly due to the lack of opportunities for Lucas's characteristic horrid romance dialogue. There were two scenes, and the lines were so bad that my brain just refused to memorise them even for future ridicule.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I thought of Phuong just because of her complete absence. So it always is: when you escape to a desert the silence shouts in your ear.

--- Graham Greene, The Quiet American
40 reasons to dislike Star Wars:
Guardian Unlimited Film | Features | Space invaders

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Geoffrey Rush's impersonation of Peter Sellers in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is excellent. His Dr. Strangelove in particular is flawless.

Look out also for a very hot Charlize Theron.

The film portrays Sellers as more child than adult through his life, but doesn't really go any deeper than that. So if you prefer your biographies to provide some kind of psychoanalytical explanation -- troubled childhood etc -- then this one will leave you dissatisfied.

In all, a clever film about a lost, lonely man.

Friday, May 06, 2005

While I was away, the MDA announced that it wants to manufacture its own film festival to go with its Asian Film Market.

TODAY, 27th Apr 2005: A First for budding Asian film talent

TODAY, 28th Apr 2005: So happy together?

Kenneth Tan isn't too convincing here. There are many small film festivals held throughout the year, but these are usually country-specific and have very limited runs -- usually about 1 week. They are also heavily supported by the respective embassies and high commissions, since these organisations consider them extensions of their diplomatic responsibilities.

The AFFF will be completely different from these small, "localised" film festivals, and will compete with SIFF in principle -- premieres are a key feature of SIFF too.

(There's also a conflict of interest. Kenneth Tan is on the SFC, which is part of the MDA. Why did Today let that slide?)

What I see here is wasted opportunity. Another one! Why is the MDA not working with SIFF? Is it MDA's highhandedness? Or is SIFF not willing to bridge the gap? Both?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Back from Cambodia. Heartbreaking. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Off to Cambodia, to whisper my secrets in the cracks of Angkor.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

On the bus, I suddenly thought of the Daicon opening animations. Why do I not have an MP3 of Electric Light Orchestra's Twilight?

This is how Gainax begins: three students attending the Osaka College of Art move into the same cramped apartment in Osaka, enduring each other's smells and revelling in their shared passion: anime. The roommates, Hideaki Anno, Hiroyuki Yamaga, and Takami Akai, buy an 8mm camera (a Fujica ZC-1000) and begin filming a short animated film, drawn by hand and shot frame by frame.

This short, five-minute film was shown at the opening ceremonies of 20th Japan Science Fiction Convention, nicknamed Daicon, in 1981. Set to a soundtrack of snippets from famous anime shows, Daicon III narrates the tale of a young school girl given a mysterious glass of water by two travellers from outer space. Sci-fi creatures and a giant robot are determined to steal the little girl's glass, but she fights them off with inexplicable super-strength and the help of her schoolgirl's backback, which doubles as a jet-pack and missile launcher.

The animation is crude, but crackles with the enthusiastic creativity of youth. In the film's final minutes, the little girl launches an all-out missile barrage that destroys not only Godzilla, but the spaceship Yamato, USS Enterprise, and a Super Star Destroyer! These three smelly otaku had thrown down the gauntlet, declared war on the entire history of sci-fi with this little homemade anime, Daicon III.

Also take a look here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Consoles from all of video game history come together to save their world and their future from the evil clutches of... PSP.

SEGA Fantasy VI

As the title indicates, this is really a tribute to Final Fantasy 6 but it's funny for non-fans too. There's also a dash of commentary on the state of the gaming industry today.

Watching this animation was great. Uematsu Nobuo's classic score stirred up many fond memories of playing FF6 and other classic RPGs.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Just let me... let me find my voice first.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Music overload. and I haven't even gotten to my CDs yet...

Friday, April 08, 2005

I would be given the "the blues," blue-and-gray first runs of what would later be glorious color spreads of the said naked women, and I would tack them on the cork-lined walls, and I would strive to have fantasies about them. For it was all a fiction, all that stuff; their names were made up, their biographies, their likes and peeves. It was whole cloth, like the letters to my editor. Someone made it up, and that year, that was my job.

I think my personal best was "Katya with her pants down"; and there was also "Anna is a palindrome," but I'm not sure if that was mine.

I did write: "Tolstoy said that a nap after dinner is silver, a nap before dinner gold. Gretchen prefers a nap to dinner altogether."

Workmanlike, as you see.

-- David Mamet, "Girl Copy" in Make-Believe Town: Essays and Remembrances, a movie poster blog.
I now have More Songs Than I Need In This Life... But Fewer Than I Want. Luckily I have an (used) iPod now.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I am a d12

You are the rare, the overlooked, yet incredibly useful dodecahedron: the d12. You are a creative, romantic soul. You often act without thinking, but make up for your lack of plans with plenty of heart. You easily solve problems that stump others, but your answers tend to put you into even deeper trouble. You write long, detailed backgrounds for all your characters, and are most likely to dress up as one or get involved in cos-play. You can be silly at times and are easily distracted by your own day dreams, but are at the end of the day you're someone who can be depended on

Take the quiz at

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

New Order's latest album Waiting For The Sirens' Call has appeared in music stores here. Like most people, I like some tracks more than others. My favorite track right now is the fourth: Krafty.

Here's the slightly annoying bit: I never really know why I like a particular song more than others.

In this case, I do think that Krafty is a bit too pop. The lyrics are a bit trite (e.g. But out there the world is a beautiful place / With mountains, lakes and the human race), but the tight rhyme scheme is throwing me off. Even so, I still like it -- my favorite bit is the bridge before the second verse.

Is it that I heard this song first before all the others? Krafty is the first single from the album. I liked it right off the bat though.

Is it the music video? I've linked to it before, but here's the link again. If I was positive about a song's music video, I'm likely to be positive about the song itself. The 360 degree rotating camera is a very cool effect, and the content is.... romantic to a straight male in his mid-20s, even if it's over-romanticised.

Is it that the lyrics resonate with my present circumstances? People enjoy songs whose lyrics "speak to them" somehow. (Whether or not they read too much into those lines is another matter...)

I like the title track too, but there's an inherent bias there -- most albums are named after their most appealing track -- so I'm not too curious about that.

I can't bring myself to take Krafty off repeat though. Actions speak louder.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Got our visas for Cambodia today. The fee is a fixed S$38 (US$20 is the benchmark), but if you want to skip the waiting period of two working days, you can have them issue an "emergency" visa on the spot for S$5 more. Dubious, since most people (including us and my annoyed father) will shell out the extra. I think of it like paying for express photo developing actually, but only in this particular case.

In the evening, I caught Kim Ki-Duk's 3-Iron. Excellent stuff. Less serious and philosophical than Spring, Summer Fall, Winter and.... Spring, but similar in the exploration of masculine violence and how it's more concept than character-driven. Am very impressed with the way he portrays the unusual romance between the leads with no dialogue whatsoever except for a scream and two lines. Some great scenes on the nature of violence and men (and golf), and the film mostly made me think about the extent to which people actually use their spaces for living as opposed to existing.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Penal Code (Cap. 224, 1985 Sing. Rev. Ed.)

Unlawful assembly.

141. An assembly of 5 or more persons is designated an "unlawful assembly", if the common object of the persons composing that assembly is -

(a) to overawe by criminal force, or show of criminal force, the Legislative or Executive Government, or any public servant in the exercise of the lawful power of such public servant;

(b) to resist the execution of any law, or of any legal process;

(c) to commit any mischief or criminal trespass, or other offence;

(d) by means of criminal force, or show of criminal force, to any person, to take or obtain possession of any property, or to deprive any person of the enjoyment of a right of way, or of the use of water or other incorporeal right of which he is in possession or enjoyment, or to enforce any right or supposed right; or

(e) by means of criminal force, or show of criminal force, to compel any person to do what he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do what he is legally entitled to do.


An assembly which was not unlawful when it assembled may subsequently
become an unlawful assembly.

Being a member of an unlawful assembly.

142. Whoever, being aware of facts which render any assembly an unlawful assembly, intentionally joins that assembly, or continues in it, is said to be a member of an unlawful assembly.


143. Whoever is a member of an unlawful assembly, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 6 months, or with fine, or with both.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Was awakened this morning by a phone call from a doctor at SGH. Due to the outbreak of drug-resistant bacteria, my very minor surgery's been postponed to May. Unfortunately, it's close to when I start work (and the SAF won't pay the fees anymore) so I don't think I'll be going after all.

No operation also means no 2-week MC. So I have to go back to camp. Bleah.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Swing Girls has too much overacting, too much effort to wring laughs from stock characters and a dull storyline. No conflict, no drama whatsoever. The only thing that kept me from walking out was lead actress Ueno Juri. The lip-synching at the end was better than everything before it.

Should've watched The Spongebob Squarepants Movie instead.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The power of intellectual property rights! (or maybe just the American legal system) --

Sony ordered to pay Playstation 2 damages

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp.'s video game unit has been ordered to pay $90.7 million in damages over a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States related to the PlayStation2 console, the company said Monday.

More severely:
The district court decision included an order to suspend PlayStation sales but that order does not hold while an appeal is being heard.

Sony is planning to appeal of course, but they should've followed Microsoft's lead and made a licensing deal, rather than risk the massive U.S. market.
I didn't know Dave had written a book (a novella, actually) -- Gone Case.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Every time I walk into a bookstore, I am beset by temptation from all sides.

Picked up Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking on Thursday. I enjoyed reading his first book, the famous The Tipping Point. His writing is clear and simple, and he's great at describing and explaining. When it comes to analysis and making claims however, his reasoning falls short. He tends to make broad sweeping statements based on case studies, interviews and personal experience. Readers expecting concrete lessons from the phenomena he describes would probably be frustrated. Look instead for a framework or a general model.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hey, I'm on leave from tomorrow onwards.

Avoiding all work
Because there's none available
Like battery thinkers
Count your thoughts on 1 2 3 4 5 fingers
Nothing is wasted
Only reproduced
Get nasty blisters
Du bist sehr schon
But we haven't been introduced

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The concept behind SeventhSky is simple: choose from 1 of 4 mecha, then fly around and blow stuff up. There're only three types of enemies and one background track, but it's a pleasant light beat overlaid with strings and voice. The graphics are decent and there're lots of features. Transformable mecha, secondary weapons, a (crude) radar, multiple play modes and customisable controls. Ambitious amateur Flash game. Just turn the volume down so your boss doesn't catch you.
The selection at SIFF is overwhelming as usual, but here's what I'm thinking of catching:

The Brief Point
Buffalo Boy
The Josef Trilogy
(with Karim Patwa's Spaceship)
Peep "TV" Show
Samaritan Girl

Watching movies alone is no fun, so if anyone would like to catch them together with me, let me know please!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Here's one more for the xenophobes: foreigners stealing our jobs, our women, and now our voices? From Reuters: Singapore prefers foreign protesters over its own

The organisers of next year's event, Singapore's central bank, have said that some 300 authorised foreign NGOs may be allowed to hold peaceful protests.

The government would strictly enforce its zero-tolerance policy towards public protests, organisers said. But protesters affiliated with NGOs participating in the meetings might be allowed to demonstrate if they went through the proper channels.

"Our domestic law is not at odds with this. If they are properly registered and subject to certain conditions, we will allow the demonstrations to take place," said Goh Chye Boon, co-chairman of the planning committee.

Public protests are rare in Singapore, where public gatherings of more than four people require a police permit. A person convicted of unlawful assembly can be fined up to S$1,000 ($615).

Probably not false reporting (even if exaggerated), since an earlier Channel News Asia report has:

The IMF World Bank annual meetings have seen their share of demonstrations in recent years - and the committee says it is fully prepared to handle them.

Police said they would allow assemblies and processions if organisers apply for a permit, but will clamp down on unlawful demonstrations.

Saturday night: My musical (re)education began with a Tortoise album -- It's All Around You -- and then games of hangman, while waiting for Poptart to begin at RNDM (which is supported by the NAC, interestingly enough).

Nostalgia everywhere: blasting out the speakers, vibrating through the body, making people jump like pogo sticks as they cry out the lyrics.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ah well. So much for my optimism.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

For computer and video games, competing solely on processing power and other technical aspects is leading to diminishing returns. Larger armies of programmers and higher costs don't translate into higher profits than from previous games. And squeezing the lifeblood out of programmers should never be an option -- shame that certain large companies are abusing their staff now.

How about giving players as much ownership and control in the game as possible, but without requiring hard-coding? How about software that reacts to the player's decisions on its own instead of having instructions preprogrammed?

Now, suddenly, his creature could walk. And he did so -- he walked right out of the sea and onto the land. This incredible moment in the history of evolution was made even more remarkable by the technology behind it: the game had figured out, procedurally, how a creature would walk if it had three legs (it was a kind of lopsided gait, if you're curious, with three steps: left, right, then middle.) No 3D modeler created the creature, and no 3D animator was required to make it move around -- it was all created out of a gamer's whim and a computer program smart enough to make it work.

Will Wright Presents Spore... and a New Way to Think About Games

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On that day, my inheritance began to form -- the blue of Kashmiri sky which dripped into my grandfather's eyes; the long sufferings of my great-grandmother which would become the forebearance of my own mother and the late steeliness of Naseem Aziz; my great-grandfather's gift of conversing with birds which would descend through meandering bloodlines into the veins of my sister the Brass Monkey; the conflict between grandpaternal scepticism and grandmaternal credulity; and above all the ghostly essence of that perforated sheet, which doomed my mother to love a man in segments, and which condemned me to see my own life -- its meaning, its structures -- in fragments also; so that by the time I understood it, it was far too late.

-- Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
My alma mater's anime club held a mini anime-convention on campus last month. If any of you guys are reading this, I hope UChi-Con went well. I'm ashamed at how easily you have come to eclipse us old blokes.


And I don't know how you managed to get Student Government to give you money for a video games club, but long live The Order of the Blistered Thumb!

Monday, March 14, 2005

No longer is my ORD just a number I rattle off to strangers, but something that causes ripples of anticipation inside me now. I have to go for a very minor operation, which should give me 2 weeks MC, around which I will wrap the rest of my leave. I should be able to effectively leave the army at the end of the month.

Most people I know still find work a chore, but one of my friends has made a career switch. She's now bursting with the energy and enthusiasm that was once bottled up inside an office suit. Her joy is infectious.

I finally landed the job I wanted.

Programming for the Fantastic Film Festival (24 -30 June 2005 -- don't forget it folks!) seems to be doing well. That's just the beginning, but it bodes well.

I'm discovering new music, films and books every week. I still cannot wring the words to write adequately about them, but the thrill of discovery is its own reward for now.

And best of all -- I believe the one I like, likes me too.

It's been a while since I felt this happy. Of course I wonder what will happen next, but I figure there will be time later to mope or laugh. For now just let me soak, soak in the sheer potential of it all.
Here's an article from The New York Times (which, unlike a certain Southeast Asian newspaper, offers their well-written articles for free) about how Woody Allen's new films are unfairly compared to the ones that made him an icon.

While it's hard to deny that Mr. Allen's output has been uneven of late, his failures and near-misses seem to provoke a disproportionate - even a neurotic - reaction precisely among those most disposed to admiration. What if we - and by "we" I mean the legions (or at least dozens) of young (or at least gracefully middle-aged) intellectuals (or at least newspaper readers) with battered used-bookstore copies of "Getting Even" and "Without Feathers" at their bedside and long passages of dialogue from "Sleeper" and "Love and Death" in their heads - go to the new Woody Allen movie because we want to feel let down, abandoned, betrayed? We are all aware that the man has problems of his own, but what if the dissatisfaction we feel with his work is, at bottom, our problem?

-- from Why We Won't Let Woody Allen Grow Up

Speaking of which, I finally managed to watch Annie Hall last Friday. Liked it a lot.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Have some New Order! Krafty music video.

The Straits Times will soon charge for access to their online edition. Wonder whose bright idea that was. Anyway, have removed all the links that led there.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

And the weather forecast for today: scorching sunshine as usual, with clips from Daft Punk's new album Human After All and a chance of young-at-heart senior citizens in Basement Jaxx's Oh My Gosh.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

Am rereading The Catcher In The Rye. It didn't make much of an impression on me the first time I read it, back in JC. I remember wondering what all the fuss was all about -- I couldn't understand why Holden Caulfield was acting the way he did, or even empathise with his restlessness and confusion.

I was a teenager, but I didn't know I was one.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Finished Compañero on Friday, over over-fried tahu goreng and green tea. The afterword is long and rambling, and basically attributes Che's enduring myth to the extraordinary confluence between his life and the pervasive mix of outrage and idealism of the sixties. Just as that era failed politically and is now significant only for historians and for cultural symbols, so has Che become a icon for t-shirts, posters and other paraphernalia.

I saw a typical example on the train yesterday. A girl was wearing an olive-green t-shirt with Alberto Korda's famous photo on the front. On the back was printed a short biography of Che with a few typos and an odd turn of phrase or two ("revolutionary bird"?).

The forms may be similar but in the years between Feltrinelli's first poster and that girl's t-shirt much has changed. The symbol is no longer connected with the source. My brother has a t-shirt that has a superimposed gas mask that obscures the Korda photo. I saw a t-shirt in Bangkok that pasted Che's likeness on a DJ while Mao's flabby face graced a table. Perhaps this is history's fate for failed causes: that icons that once inspired loyalty, passion and fear in people no longer do so.

There's nothing to be sympathetic or sorry for. If these symbols do have meaning for people today it is only through tenuous links to a vague rebelliousness that isn't rooted in any real phenomena -- perfect for selling things. And someday, even those will pass.

It is said that just before the departure, Che and Fidel held their last private conversation while sitting on a log in the ravine of San Andrés. An official from the Interior Ministry who attended the training program but was excluded from the mission at the last minute overheard part of their conversation, and deduced the rest from their body language. Castro did the talking, while Che was sullen and withdrawn; Castro was vehement, Guevara quiet. At last Fidel ran through all the problems, both inherent and circumstantial, in the Bolivian expedition. He emphasized the lack of communications, Monje's hesitations, the organizational weaknesses of Inti and Coco Peredo. He intended to dissuade Guevara, or at least induce him to postpone his trip. Both finally stood up, gave each other several slaps on the back: less than blows, more a hug. Fidel's gestures revealed his desperation at Guevara's stubbornness. They sat down again for a long while, in silence. After a while, Fidel got up and left.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Salman Rushdie wrote this article in response to a proposal by the British government to ban "incitement to hatred on religious grounds". A hard-hitting defence of "freedom of speech", and a call to reflect on the essence of that concept.

The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it's a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.

-- Salman Rushdie, Defend The Right To Be Offended
So now that we're really in a new year, it's time to look back (again): Top 11 Writing Trends of 2004
Throughout 2004, American filmgoing audiences demonstrated that they have little interest in supporting films that include any frank discussions of human sexuality, but they have absolutely no problem with going to see the goriest, scariest, most violent movies imaginable. Blood and guts, yes. Breasts and vaginas, no. One of the most successful films of the year, The Passion of the Christ, was also one of the most violent films in decades, but that didn't seem to faze heartland audiences one bit. However, those same pious filmgoers who didn't mind seeing skin flailed off of a human body greeted me outside of Kinsey, a quiet film about the secret sex lives of 1950s Americans, with flyers telling me that I would soon join the real-life Kinsey in Hell for supporting such a wicked movie.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved by Hunter S. Thompson

One more entry in my List of Depressing Stuff (TM)-- Prawns in a tank, little legs fluttering madly, ram themselves into the walls over and over again.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Cute, desperate bunny sings his l'il heart out:

Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me.

(Ain't that the truth now /sniffle)
When I'd like to blog more frequently, I can't because there's no internet access at work for the time being. Unsurprisingly, we are all more "productive" now. For me anyway, there's more time to read.

Speaking of which, I came across a sentence in Compañero that made me want to hurl the book across the bus. Castañeda's talking about the inhumane costs of rapid industrialisation as undertaken by socialist regimes:
Mao's Great Leap Forward in China also had disastrous consequences, at a human cost intolerable in a Western country like Cuba.

Sheesh. I wonder if the author's a closet bigot?

Speaking of books, I missed the MPH sale on CNY weekend, but discovered to my delight that there's a 20% discount on many titles in the Routledge Classics line. I hope to start on my copy of The Culture Industry sometime this decade.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."
-- Paul Erdos

Monday, February 14, 2005

Here's a suggestion to help raise our birth rates -- make 15th Feb a public holiday!

If you find yourself caught in love
Say a prayer to the man above
Thank him for everything you know
You should thank him for every breath you blow

If you find yourself caught in love
Say a prayer to the man above
You should thank him for every day you pass
Thank him for saving your sorry ass

If you're single but looking out
You must raise your prayer to a shout
Another partner must be found
Someone to take your life beyond
Another TV "I love 1999"
Just one more box of cheapo wine

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Ah, I've been neglecting this blog. Has it been a week already? Happy Belated Lunar New Year to all!

The Music Junction near my place has boxes of random Europe-pressed CDs for sale at 3 for $10. Picked up a collection of Astor Piazzola pieces, Ladytron's Light & Magic and the OST to blaxploitation flick Three Tough Guys. The last includes Run Fay Run, which Tarantino used in Kill Bill Vol. 1.

Here's something to entertain you till the next post: E! Online's Top 10 List of Blaxploitation Films.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

I've seen hardcover copies of Haruki Murakami's latest Kafka On The Shore around. Will wait for the softcover version.

Random House has set up a very nifty homepage for Murakami, including lots of links to article and online fan communities. About time.
Am reading Compañero. Casteñeda's indulges in florid prose too much though. Here's a sample of his literary whipped cream:
Now Ernesto Che Guevara would experience his true political rite of passage during those troubled months when the futile attempt of a decent Guatemalan officer to improve the dreadful state of his fellow citizens shattered against the inescapable polarity of the Cold War and the intransigence of the banana companies.

What I found most interesting was that Che only became politically aware in his late twenties, after he finished university in Buenos Aires. Much of his outrage towards social injustice arose during his travels as described in The Motorcycle Diaries, but the criticisms were mostly ethical or moral in nature. They mostly went along the lines of "X is wrong, how can the government allow this?" instead of attempting to analyse the processes through which these injustices were perpetuated.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I could be blogging. Or I could be spending time doing stuff. Just take my last post for instance. Typing those two paragraphs took about 20 minutes. I think I'm a pretty fast typist, but I edit and reedit my writing a lot.

I've been a fan of the Gundam War CCG for a long time, and I'm sort of excited that there's now a US version. This is supposed to be a direct port of the Japanese game, and it looks and plays much better than Bandai USA's pathetic first attempt at a CCG: the (thankfully) short-lived "MS War". Hopefully they won't mess this one up too.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I've just finished watching Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya Ichi) on DVD. Black humour, buckets of gore, and truly twisted characters. The last time my mind was set adrift in a sea of mind-numbing spectacle was End of Evangelion. It's coming back down to earth - slowly.

Thanks to Francis, we managed to get free tickets to last night's performance of Roman Tam and The Three Bears, the doublebill by Action Theatre. The first play, Pek Siok Lian's Between Chinas, was straightforward with a lacklustre script. Everything about Jean Tay's Everything But The Brain was better. The acting, the set design, the staging, the script. They're two extremely different plays -- the first dealing with abstract notions of how different parts of the Chinese diaspora deal with history; the second an intimate, intense examination of a daughter dealing with her father's impending death. Still, I wonder if director Krishen Jit didn't do much with Between Chinas simply because he couldn't with that straightforward, didactic script.

And at the end of everything, as the lights went up, Lim Kay Siu (in the audience with his wife Neo Swee Lin) castigated a Raffles Institution student for chatting on his handphone during the performance. Hope the kid learns.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Some left-leaning libertarian, some liberal, all Wannabe Lawyer.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Whenever someone asks me what makes me proud to be a Singaporean, I tell them about our public library system. And today there's one more reason for me to puff my chest out with pride:

National Library puts authors online

January 29, 2005

The National Library Board (NLB) has launched Singapore's only online repository of artistic works.

Called Nora, which stands for NLB Online Repository of Artistic Works, it is a collection of works by local contributors.

It is the first time a comprehensive collection of unpublished, and out-of-print artistic and literary works has been made available to the public online.

The authors include Ovidia Yu, the late Kuo Pao Kun, Lee Tzu Pheng, Stella Kon, Desmond Sim, Suresh Sharma and Felix Cheong.

The NLB hopes the database would help preserve the literary heritage of Singapore and provide a link to the past through the records of Singaporeans' experiences.

Other genres such as music and multimedia, as well as works in Chinese, Malay and Tamil will be added to the collection.

Nora can be accessed via

Thursday, January 27, 2005

TagBoard's been giving me too many problems. Have replaced it with Doodle Board instead.
I managed to catch Final Solution during the Bangkok Int'l Film Festival. The documentary on racial politics in Gujarat, India was blocked by censors here last year from the S'pore Int'l Film Fest (SIFF).

There was an informal Q&A with the director Rakesh Sharma after the screening. I've gotten round to posting the highlights at the SGFilm Blog, instead of catching up on precious sleep -- do drop by! Find out what Rakesh did to get around the ban on the film in India, what he thinks of politics, why he stopped making film in 1992, and other trivia about the documentary.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Dear NTUC Income: I don't want copies of your useless transport guide. If you seriously have extra money for this stuff, why don't you give your policyholders something they could really use -- like rebates?
I don't approve of using sex to sell things, mainly because it's the most unimaginative way to do so. But it does work; that's why "lifestyle magazines" are outdoing each other in hawking rauchy (and usually poorly written) pieces within their pages. That's still no reason for the Government to control what kids read, which is what the parents in this Today article really want when they demand a classification system.

People seem to confuse classification with control a lot, so they don't pick up doublethink like the MDA line that recent changes to the movie ratings system here has resulted in "greater choice". If there were no censorship at all, distributors and directors wouldn't have to balk at cuts to their films and not screen them here.

Control is the real issue. Classification is supposed to facilitate the control of distribution of a media, so it makes sense to ask how effective a classification system for magazines would be in determining whether kids can get their hands on them. A classification system for magazines will probably not be effective because:

1) Unlike film, magazines tend to have tight deadlines. There's a very short time between finalising content and going to print. A classification system will really screw up the operations of most magazines.

2) No-one will be able to agree on the criteria to use. These aren't blatant pornography like Hustler. How many risque articles is too many?

3) There are inherent difficulties in controlling magazine distribution anyway. Are policemen now supposed to make sure shopowners don't sell Cleo and FHM to 15-year olds? Will parents make their children rat on the aunty who sells newspapers outside the MRT station? How can you punish someone for buying a magazine?

Above all, children and teenagers already have enough spending power to buy their own magazines. Failing that, they borrow from friends (or even the library!). No to mention the torrents of exploitative material on the Internet. By the time the parents object, it's too late.

(See? And we didn't even have to bring liberalism into the counter-arguments this time.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The internet terminal in my office gave up the ghost while I was away. Won't be fixed for a while. Which is a pity since that's where I'm at my most productive.

Will be blogging less for a while.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Back from Bangkok this morning. The flight was at 7.10am, so Dave and I didn't bother with a room. After dinner with his housemate and her friend (who were also in Bangkok, but for shopping and food), we headed to Don Muang airport and eventually ended up at a 24 hour pub there.

I've been blogging about the films I watched on the SGFilm blog. Please feel free to take a look there.

As for the non-film aspects of the trip, will probably talk about that later. As it is, I've yet to write for SGFilm blog about the last films I caught in Bangkok.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Got Strike Three in the mail today. That means I'm out of the deployment game. The PSC roulette will be waiting for me when I return from Bangkok, I suppose.

Ah well. At least I don't have to worry about getting a job.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Monday, January 17, 2005

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has plenty of references to J.D. Salinger's iconic Catcher in the Rye. The Laughing Man, the moniker of the main adversary in the series, is also the title of a short story he wrote. Read it here.

See? Anime can be good for you.
Called it a day after watching only 10 episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex on Saturday. Must be old age.

Thanks to Neue Ziel from the SGFilm forums for the chance to poke around his house and gawk at his anime collection. (Hey hifiguy: he's got all of Patlabor on DVD!)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Too.... much.... to.... read. *coughcough*


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Small, powerful, and inexpensive? But the Mac Mini is real. I am speechless with awe and wonder. When it's gonna get here?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

National Library Book Sale today. I got there at about 5pm after interviewing a prospective student for the UofC, at Biopolis. By then most of the interesting stuff was probably gone, but when it comes to sales I trust in Providence to find something I like. It's less stressful than agonising over what I might have missed.

Anyway, the haul:

Karim Raslan, Heroes and Other Stories
Josef Skvorecky, Talkin' Moscow Blues
Ariel Dorfman, Death and the Maiden
Richard Robison and David S. G. Goodman, The New Rich In Asia

and a most serendipitous find in a Children's Fiction bin:

Jorge G. Castañeda, Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara

Now, where on earth will I find the time to read all these?

Friday, January 07, 2005

I'm now a contributor to the SGFilm blog, which Dave hasn't updated in over 2 months. I've since also changed the blog template and added a few touches of my own.

As for content, I think the blog should have a focus but I'm not sure what it should be. At the moment, I'm thinking of articles and comments on the Singapore film industry. Any other ideas?
Lush 99.5FM has been underwhelming. The station sells itself mainly on the dearth of advertisements and DJs. That is, no more than two ads back-to-back at any one time and only two DJs on the station roster - Chris Ho in the morning and Vivian Tan (of The Observatory) in the evening.

The fewer ads the better, but the station genuinely needs more good DJs. I'm talking about people who love the kind of music Lush allegedly supports, can introduce tracks and whip up interest in new and existing talent. Presently the only way to find out what's playing is to send a 50-cent SMS. At this rate Lush 99.5FM's only going to be good as an experiment in 12-hour-long background noise.

(Then again, none of our stations have any DJs like that. Should I be relieved for Lush?)

And while you're at it, hire real web designers for your website. It's ugly. Here, take a look.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

If anyone's interested, the Mercy Relief sorting centre is in a former school. Get off at Kovan MRT station and walk down Lowland Road. Here's the tricky bit: the front gate is unmarked except for a crudely-stenciled "58" on it. There's also construction activity going on right outside, so don't let that fool you. Just remember that the school is at the bend in Lowland Road.

Don't bother asking the people who live around the area. They will all direct you to "Helping Hands" -- but they're also helping out with supplies for tsunami victims so it's all good. They stop work at 8.30pm though.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I was going up in the elevator and just between the first and second floors I felt that I was going to vomit up a little rabbit. I have never described this to you before, not so much, I don't think, from lack of truthfulness as that, just naturally, one is not going to explain to people at large that from time to time one vomits up a small rabbit.

-- Julio Cort�zar, Letter to a Young Lady in Paris

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find -- this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify -- that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

-- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
It's been raining all day as it did most of yesterday. The sky is still a flat pale gray and it's cold and wet everywhere.

Finally got round to watching the VCD copy of Musa that Teck Loon forced on me. As a film it's good - brutally realistic, great visuals and acting. But it's also depressing, nihilistic even, and watching endless blood and gore gets tiring very quickly. What I liked most was how the film explored how power relations between the officers and the non-commissioned ranks shifted as the group of Koreans is run ragged by their Mongol pursuers.

Finished The Tin Drum yesterday.

Getting home in the wee hours of New Year's Day was a pain. Took me 2 hours. Night buses were packed and wouldn't stop outside Zouk. Taxis wouldn't stop -- for some reason a couple turned on their "Hired" signs while approaching me, the bastards. Even the first MRT train was packed with sleeply revellers. I spent most of the trip plastered to the door.

Dimitri from Paris's set had been interrupted at about 2.10am and we were all herded outside for a "headcount" of some sort. They let us back in after about an hour, and while I did appreciate the reduced crowd Dimitri's music didn't appeal to me that much. Still, I only left a little after 5 with Vivian, who eventually gave up waiting for a cab and went back in.

New Year's Eve is overrated. I will spend it quietly this year.