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It is the first time a comprehensive collection of unpublished, and out-of-print artistic and literary works has been made available to the public online.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

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.

/yawn

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*

*gasp*

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.