Friday, December 29, 2006

Back to basics

The germ of my plays? I'll be as accurate as I can about that. I went into a room and saw one person standing up and one person sitting down, and a few weeks later I wrote The Room. I went into another room and saw two people sitting down, and a few years later I wrote The Birthday Party. I looked through a door into a third room, and saw two people standing up and I wrote The Caretaker.

--- Harold Pinter

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tell it like it is

From "Philip Yeo moving to PM's Office", Today, 23rd Dec 2006:

Singapore's strength lies in execution — not ideas, nor strategic planning, said the fast-talking Mr Yeo.


And prowess in execution is easily learnt by other countries.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

365 films in 365 days

Jonas Mekas, veteran of the American underground art scene, is going to combine new footage with footage that he's been recording most of his 85 years.

While most of those friends -- Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage, Allen Ginsberg -- have departed for that rent-controlled loft in the sky, Mekas continues to create and innovate.

On Jan. 1, a week after his 85th birthday, Mekas launches a yearlong film-a-day series. He'll post a new poetic short at his website each afternoon until the end of 2007. He hopes film buffs will watch them on their iPods.


Read on for his thoughts on using different formats, the essence of art, and the relationship between content and the technology used to record it.

Wired News: Short films from a Long Life

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Saatchi and Stuart

Charles Saatchi, owner of Saatchi Gallery, is a smart man:

In May Mr. Saatchi, famed for spotting young unknowns and turning them into art-world superstars, created a section on his Web site for artists of all ages to post their work at no charge. It is called Your Gallery, and now boasts contributions by about 20,700 artists, including 2,000 pieces of video art.

Everything there is for sale, with neither the buyer nor the seller paying a cent to any dealer or other middleman. About 800 new artists have been signing up each week.

And since Stuart (shorthand for “student art”) went online last month, some 1,300 students (including 450 in the United States) have created Web pages there. No one vets the quality or style of the art.

With dealers and collectors scouring student shows for undiscovered talent and students hunting for dealers to represent them, Mr. Saatchi has tapped a vein that can’t stop gushing. If Stuart gains anything like the cachet of MySpace, it has the potential to morph from a nonprofit venture into a gold mine for Mr. Saatchi. (More from the NYT)


Now why didn't someone else think of that first?

David Bowie x Bing Crosby

Yep, strange but it happened in 1977.



The Washington Post explains:

The notion of pairing the resolutely white-bread Crosby with the exquisitely offbeat Bowie apparently was the brainchild of the TV special's producers, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion, according to Ian Fraser, who co-wrote (with Larry Grossman) the song's music and arranged it.

Crosby was in Great Britain on a concert tour, and the theme of the TV special was Christmas in England. Bowie was one of several British guest stars (the model Twiggy and "Oliver!" star Ron Moody also appeared). Booking Bowie made logistical sense, since the special was taped near his home in London, at the Elstree Studios. As perhaps an added inducement, the producers agreed to air the arty video of Bowie's then-current single, "Heroes" (Crosby introduced it)

[...]

The original plan had been for Bowie and Crosby to sing just "Little Drummer Boy." But "David came in and said: 'I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?' " Fraser said. "We didn't know quite what to do."

Fraser, Kohan and Grossman left the set and found a piano in the studios' basement. In about 75 minutes, they wrote "Peace on Earth," an original tune, and worked out an arrangement that weaved together the two songs. Bowie and Crosby nailed the performance with less than an hour of rehearsal.

And that was almost that. "We never expected to hear about it again," Kohan said. (click for more)


(From Boing Boing)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Delicious Library

Discovered via the Penguin Blog: Delicious Library!
Get your Mac, a webcam, and Delicious Library and rediscover your home library. Just point any FireWire digital video camera, like an Apple iSight®, at the barcode on the back of any book, movie, music, or video game. Delicious Library does the rest. The barcode is scanned and within seconds the item's cover appears on your digital shelves filled with tons of in-depth information downloaded from one of six different web sources from around the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tan Pin Pin on film school

Tan Pin Pin, speaking from considerable experience, on the benefits of film schools and what prospective film students may want to look out for:

In the best case scenarios, film schools (or education for that matter) allow you to find your voice and they also provide a supportive enough environment to help you develop it. That was why, although I enjoyed my time making Under One Roof, I had to leave Television. The harsh daily grind of TV-making was killing my own filmmaking voice I had and I had leave to save it. I decided to enroll myself in film school, to not just learn the technical side of things (that you can learn as an apprentice), but to set time aside to help me define, refine my filmmaking voice in a structured environment. I knew I had that voice, but had trouble articulating, accepting it and I needed a little help.


Read the rest of the post.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I got an iMac over the weekend.

And yes, I've already pressed the F9 button on my work (Windows) laptop more than a few times today.

'Be short, be simple, be human'

All entrants into the service come equipped with a vocabulary of common words of precise meaning adequate for all ordinary purposes. But when they begin to write as officials they have a queer trick of forgetting them and relying mainly on a smaller vocabulary of less common words with a less precise meaning.

--- Gowers, The Complete Plain Words (3rd Edition)


Picked this up over the weekend at Kinokuniya Bargain Alley. It's a bit battered, but a book like this wants to be worn out. Incidentally, it's a Penguin Reference edition. Simple yet striking design: the horizontal grid reminiscent of early Penguins, the distinctive rounded corners, and sleek Futura.

Kaliya Mardan

Kudos to the National Museum for bringing in the 1919 silent Indian film Kaliya Mardan for a screening as part of its opening celebrations this month. Apparently the most extant work of D.G. Phalke (according to the NYT). I hope the Cinematheque (the ostentatious name for the film programme there) will continue bringing in such works -- manna to film buffs and academics!

This was a rare glimpse into what film was like when it was new. When all the conventions that modern audiences are used to hadn't been invented yet. We're so used to movies now that it's difficult to imagine the fear and excitement that cinema once elicited. "Movie magic" has become such a cliche now, but it really was magic once.

What it was like when the world was new?

The screening was preceded by a documentary of D.G. Phalke's life and work, with snippets of him at work and bits from his films. What impressed me the most was the ingenuity involved in creating the special effects. I'm so jaded by CGI that camera tricks look charming in comparison. You knew that the people involved only had camera, film stock and their imaginations to work with. They all basically experimented with multiple exposures instead of manipulating vectors on a computer screen.

The other fascinating thing was that films were shot for audience participation -- hardly the rarefied objects they've since become. For instance, every shot was pretty much at waist-level and the actors keep glancing at the audience. Some of the latter was probably due to inexperience, but somehow there is a charming lack of self-consciousness throughout the film. It feels like you're there in the film with the actors. Intentional or not, this fit in very nicely with religious aspect of "mythologicals" -- audiences would chant and sing to commemorate the deity on screen. Audiences were expected to make noise. Contrast that to present ideas about filmmaking, where filmmakers try to build a hermetic, self-enclosed world and the audience is detached, elsewhere, watching like gods.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

On "Credibility"

Many Singaporeans online appear to think that all opinions should be equally respected so long as they come from individuals. This is silly, because the right to say what you want is not the same as being credible or correct.

The Straits Times used to derive a lot of its credibility, in the eyes of most Singaporeans, from the fact that it was a government mouthpiece. So the paper's reputation was tied to how well people thought of the government.

Now, some Singaporeans appear to be ascribing credibility to sites that are not the Straits Times (especially blogs), simply because these sites are not the ST. My guess is that this is a knee-jerk reaction against The Straits Times' pro-government stance; a reaction fuelled in part by grievances against the government.

But fundamentally nothing much has changed. Many Singaporeans still define the "credibility" of a source by its distance from the government. Whatever happened to thinking critically? Non-ST sources need to be questioned too.

Also see Seah Chiang Nee's article on the "credibility gap" between bloggers and the offical media. Akikonomu has a response.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yet another S'pore film site? sgNewWave

Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film and Media Studies have set up their own film commentary site, ambitiously called sgNewWave (http://www.sgnewwave.com/). Moreover, they apparently want to make this the Singapore equivalent of Cahiers du Cinema.

Well, we'll see.

I like how their masthead is a nod to Sight & Sound, but did they really have to use Impact?

(From sinema.sg)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sight and Sound

Directors, scripts and actors are important, but film is fundamentally an experience of sight and sound. Two recent articles from The Guardian:

One on music in films. The writer criticises Woody Allen's exploitative use of Gershwin in Manhattan.

Because Gershwin's music had already been enshrined in the cultural pantheon for decades, its use in Manhattan seems like an extraordinarily cunning trick, like citing Descartes in a school report and acting like you and René were old drinking buddies. Gershwin is not being recruited here merely to provide ambiance; Gershwin, with assistance from the great cinematographer Gordon Wills, is on hand to evoke the emotions that Allen's screenplay and characters cannot.


The second examines Michael Mann's obsession with architecture and design:

Manhunter is set in Atlanta. White tiles and neat Swiss typography establish the police station as a place of authority, but equally the whiteness and geometry of Lecter's cell is a diagram of depravity, a frame for deadly menace. Meanwhile, over in the serial killer's apartment, there are modernist Alvar Aalto stacking tables, nicely suggestive of tidy-paws preoccupations. A white version of Richard Sapper's low-voltage Tizio desk light coruscates in one scene, next to an old-generation white Bell telephone with a lasciviously curly flex. Everywhere Mann uses architecture to express a psychiatric state.


Articles:

Manhattan music mystery

Star Vehicles

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The cutest hellhound ever

Yes, there are stuffed toy versions. I've seen one in person and it's devilishly cute. Wonder where I can get one here?

Go visit Cerbi.

Stats for cocktail parties

BBC NEWS | Business | Richest 2% own 'half the wealth'
The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth, according to a new study by a United Nations research institute.

The report, from the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the UN University, says that the poorer half of the world's population own barely 1% of global wealth.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

She either loves him very much...

... or has too much time on her hands. A boy wakes up to find a map of locations along the route he takes to school, where his girlfriend has illustrated lines from "Fly Me to the Moon". It's really sweet; she's a keeper. Lucky bastard.

See the rest of the street art here. Thanks to Wooster Collective!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

For logophiles

For extreme logophiles, you now have Wordie. It's Flickr but with words.

/heavy breathing

Monday, November 27, 2006

BooksActually celebrates its 1st birthday

As the email says:
Do come for our 1st Anniversary Party on 29th November, Wednesday, from 12 noon till 9 pm for a whole lot of waffles, films, cupcakes, tea, ribboned balloons, Italian notebooks named "Ciak", root beer & ginger beer goodness!

BooksActually is at 125A Telok Ayer Street. Look for the whitewashed horse kiddy-ride machine.

Pocky x Gundam


Further confirming Pocky as the otaku snack of choice (well, outside Japan), Glico teamed up with Bandai to offer... Pocky Gunpla Packs. Yeah, those little plastic things kinda suck but it's the concept man, the concept! Available for a limited time only.

(From Gunota Headlines)

Friday, November 24, 2006

The NYT's 100 Notable Books of the Year

Just in time for Christmas!
100 Notable Books of the Year - The New York Times Book Review - New York Times

My Penguin

Penguin's released a new series of classic works with blank covers. The main selling point of the "My Penguin" series is -- you guessed it -- that you get to design your own cover.

You can send your scrawlings unique cover art in to Penguin, and they'll showcase the best (which is also a good way to drive traffic to your website).

Clever. But will these books be cheaper since there's no cover art? Part of the appeal of buying a book for me lies in the book design -- buying books is a sensual activity for me. I like to observe feel smell books (which is why I hate it when bookshops shrink-wrap) -- I'm not going to pay more for a blank cover if I can get something more aesthetically pleasing for the same price.

The Penguin Blog: YourSpace

Robert Pirsig Interview

The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila grants a rare interview.
'Well,' he says, 'there was fear. All these ideas were coming in to me too fast. There are crackpots with crazy ideas all over the world, and what evidence was I giving that I was not one of them?'

The interview: Robert Pirsig | Review | The Observer

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I love Paprika!


Satoshi Kon excels at mindblowing visual tricks, which makes him an interesting director for animated psycho-thrillers, as shown in his debut Perfect Blue. Paprika seems to belong to the same genre, but has more in common with Millennium Actress (Sennen Jouyu) in its exploration of reality-fantasy blurring and the more fantastic tone. Cast comprising well-known seiyuus led by Megumi Hayashibara. The opening theme is an exuberant earworm, and playful film references abound.

Official site

You can play a game on the homepage where you have to search for the DC Mini. Finding it will allow you access to the radioclub.jp site (if you go directly there you'll get a mock error page) which has minigames and quizzes. Playing further will eventually unlock a gallery with 6 wallpapers. Fairly boring stuff though -- just stills from the film.

Be warned -- playing the game on the site gives away the plot entirely. (Then again, it *is* based on a novel...)

Image Gallery from the official blog

Composer Susumu Hirasawa's website with free mp3s

And it hasn't seen a general release in Japan yet!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The things we do for love

The NYT has a brief article about the counterintuitive personal ads that run in the London Review of Books:
But in the strange alternate universe that is the personals column in the London Review of Books, a fetish for even the naughtiest dairy product is considered a perfectly reasonable basis for a relationship. Rejecting the earnest self-promotion of most personal ads, the correspondents in the London Review column tend instead to present themselves as idiosyncratic, even actively repellent.

I thought my personal ad would look more like the Pina Colada Song. Maybe I need something edgier.

The New York Times: Book Lovers Seek Lovers, Buttered or Plain

The Great Singapore Biennale Sale

UPDATE: The sale of collectibles etc ended on 23/11. You can still get badges though.

28 31 down, 67 64 more to go :p

There's a lot of leftover merchandise from the Singapore Biennale, and it's selling at a mad 70% discount. I got a Barbara Kruger t-shirt at just $6 (If you'd gotten it during the Biennale, you'd have shelled out $20).

(Browse the merchandise here)

There're also tonnes of free badges left over from the contest (free badges were available at each Biennale venue, and if you managed to collect all 95 designs you could've won some Pioneer loot).

Just head over to the Biennale office on the 5th floor of The Adelphi, open Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 6pm. Bring cash.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chris Ware's Thanksgiving covers for the New Yorker

Chris Ware, whose cover for Candide I raved about earlier, has drawn 4 variant covers for the Thanksgiving issue of the New Yorker. 4 sad and beautiful covers, plus an illustrated story (comic sounds a bit too insensitive) about a lost brother. See them all here, and listen to the short audio interview while you're there.

Chris Ware's covers and story for The New Yorker

(via Boing Boing)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Indie Garden, 2 Dec 06

Couldn't believe my eyes. A cool event at the Science Centre?
Roam the Science Centre and Observatory at night, for free! Come party at the Eco-Garden with free gigs by Electrico, Astreal, Great Spy Experiment as well as Guerillaz. Dance till you drop to Poptart's unique blend of Indie Rock and more.

Indie Garden - Explore Singapore! Closing Extravaganza

Milton Friedman's dead

BBC NEWS | Business | Economist Friedman dies aged 94

Monday, November 13, 2006

Judging books by their covers

The Penguin Classics Deluxe imprint looks and feels great. Take its printing of Candide, for instance (shown at left). Chris Ware's fantastic cover complements Voltaire's understated, bleak humour well. You can't see it on the web graphic, but there's mock gold filigree on the cover too, around the "Candide". Very nicely done! The book is a pleasure to touch and look at. (That the contents are worth reading is a given.)

I suspect that the Deluxe imprint is mainly for the US market. Can't find anything about it on the Penguin UK website. The closest to an online catalogue I could find was the US Penguin Classics website. The cover for Siddhartha is wrong though, and the list hasn't been updated with Gravity's Rainbow and Rashomon yet.

Kenny over at BooksActually is thinking of bringing in more of these beautiful paperbacks. Another excuse to go over and browse.

Singapore Film Society blog up again

The folks at Blogger managed to recover all of the Singapore Film Society's blog, after the original URL was hijacked. We're now at a new URL, so please update your bookmarks and feeds with http://singaporefilmsociety.blogspot.com/

Now if the committee would just post...

Creativity, meet Work

Never fall in love with an idea. They're whores: if the one you're with isn't doing the job, there's always, always, always another.

-- Chip Kidd, The Cheese Monkeys

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rough cut out; Blacksad in S'pore

Finally got a rough cut of my short film out. There’s still too much to be done though. The editing is clumsy, the film hasn’t been colour-corrected, and the sound – the sound irritates me the most. I have to, with my Final Cut Pro fumblings, make this film sound a bit better than it's supposed to.

On another note: was pleasantly surprised to find Vol 2 of the excellent noir comic Blacksad at the National Library.

Bought the first volume when I was in Paris a couple of years back. A large, thin hardcover -- why do the French issue their comics in that format? It's inconvenient, but perhaps lends a certain gravitas to the contents. Maybe the French take their graphic art more seriously.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Foiled by our small size

After having tried it for a while, I'm come to the conclusion that BookMooch isn't working for me. The books I want are never available, and sending books overseas is so expensive that I'm effectively paying new book prices for used books of uncertain condition. However, that's the only way to get points since Singapore isn't large enough to support an adequate population of diverse readers.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Book love, paper lust

I do not have the vocabulary to adequately describe how deeply sensual Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body is. Every page brings to mind a ripe fruit, ready to burst. The love in those pages bleaches the world of its colour. Only in books, they say. Only in books.

In Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris, she talks about the joy of reading aloud with your partner in bed. Maybe the Robert Fagle Iliad (did she get the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition?) is more appropriate for more mature relationships. Can I start with flames, obsession and Written on the Body?

Excerpt from Written on the Body

Animation Nation 2006 tickets now on sale

Go get 'em! This year's roundup is spectacular. Bill Plympton will be in town, but I'm most excited about Satoshi Kon's latest work Paprika. It hasn't even seen general release in Japan yet!

Schedule and synopses here: Animation Nation 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Glassy Ocean (Kujira no Chouyaku)

(Originally posted on 5 Sept 2006)

What are the chances of two unrelated individuals mentioning an obscure anime title to me, within a few hours of each other? First, a friend of mine asked if I'd seen Glassy Ocean (Kujira no Chouyaku): a surreal animated short where a whale's leap is frozen in time while a variety of characters stroll on an ocean newly transformed into glass.

I couldn't recall the film at first, but then I struck up a conversation with another friend online who had a pic from Millennium Actress (Sennen Joyu) -- which I love -- as her avatar. Talk turned to Satoshi Kon's debut Perfect Blue, which we both recalled seeing (though we hadn't met in 1998, not at SIFF). "It was a doublebill," she typed, and suddenly the people on the frozen green waves resurfaced in my mind.

Shortly thereafter I was enveloped in a haze of nostalgia, with motes of regret. But everyone has stories about movies, which is a large part of why going to a cinema can be such a moving experience.

Glassy Ocean - Anime News Network entry

Grand Prize - 1998 Japan Media Arts Festival

Lobotomised

The S'pore Film Society blog, which I used to contribute heavily to, has been hijacked and turned into a splog. The bastards! There's a special place in Hell for people who do this.

I'm a bit surprised at how angry I am, but you never really realise all the time and effort that goes into crafting each post... No blog is safe, so back up yours soon if you wanna keep it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Did all the touristy stuff the first time round

Travel halfway across the world. Watch films, buy books, walk around a lot, take tons of photos.

Movies (Airborne)
The Devil Wears Prada
Three Kings
Kramer vs. Kramer
Romance & Cigarettes
Working Girl


Movies (On Land)
Shortbus
The Science of Sleep
The Prestige
Marie Antoinette
The Last Movie
Tideland
The Queen


Books: loved and lovable
Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris
John Berger, Ways of Seeing
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
Voltaire, Candide
Chip Kidd, The Cheese Monkeys
Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth
Book of Hours
Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

and assorted magazines &c.

Oh yes, and I managed to catch Yo La Tengo live in SF.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Off to SF and Berkeley

A scholar's education is greatly improved by traveling in quest of knowledge and meeting the authoritative teachers (of his time).

--- Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah

Monday, October 16, 2006

More BookMooch exploits

Received my second overseas book via BookMooch, this time from Australia. Manuel Puig's Heartbreak Tango.

I passed two of my books today to a fellow reader -- Natsume Soseki's I Am A Cat and Mark Kurlansky's highly-readable A Basque History of the World. I picked up I Am A Cat at the Kinokuniya bargain alley, but somehow couldn't muster enough interest to read it.

This morning, just before I gave it up, I noticed that it had been printed in curvaceous Perpetua. Why didn't I notice it before?

The Long Now and a history of "the future"

In surfing the net researching Stewart Brand, I came across The Long Now Foundation -- set up to fund the Clock of the Long Now and get people thinking long-term again. Author Michael Chabon:
I don’t know what happened to the Future. It’s as if we lost our ability, or our will, to envision anything beyond the next hundred years or so, as if we lacked the fundamental faith that there will in fact be any future at all beyond that not-too-distant date.

As he explains, once we lose our ability to think about a future beyond ourselves and our progeny, we lose something fundamentally human:

If you don’t believe in the Future, unreservedly and dreamingly, if you aren’t willing to bet that somebody will be there to cry when the Clock finally, ten thousand years from now, runs down, then I don’t see how you can have children. If you have children, I don’t see how you can fail to do everything in your power to ensure that you win your bet, and that they, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandchildren, will inherit a world whose perfection can never be accomplished by creatures whose imagination for perfecting it is limitless and free.

"The Omega Glory" by Michael Chabon

The Long Now Foundation

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Diet of Worms, Q and Wu Ming

I love the BBC's In Our Time, podcast. This week's topic - the Diet of Worms:
Nestled on a bend of the River Rhine, in the South West corner of Germany, is the City of Worms. It’s one of the oldest cities in central Europe; it still has its early city walls, its 11th century Romanesque cathedral and a 500-year-old printing industry, but in its centre is a statue of the monk, heretic and founder of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther. In 1521 Luther came to Worms to explain his attacks on the Catholic Church to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and the gathered dignitaries of the German lands. What happened at that meeting, called the Diet of Worms, tore countries apart, set nation against nation, felled kings and plunged dynasties into suicidal bouts of infighting.
I thought of Q right away. The story dynamics take on an overly Marxist tone, but unsurprising given the interesting authorship -- Luther Blissett was an Italian writers' collective that professed adherence to socialist principles. They've since made "Luther Blissett" commit literary ritual suicide, added a fifth member and returned as "Wu Ming" with another historical thriller called 54.

Believing that current copyright laws restrict creativity and enrich publishers at the expense of the public, Wu Ming has made their work available online for free, non-commercial use. To them it makes business sense too: if you make the work as widely available as possible at negligible cost, you could improve the chances of someone shelling out money for a copy. Even if readers don't buy a copy, they are more likely to say good things about the work to others i.e. word of mouth advertising. Does it actually work? Consider that hundreds of titles flood bookstores everywhere every month. Bookshelf space is scarce and highly contested. In a competitive market desperate for eyeballs, Wu Ming's approach doesn't seem as crazy.

(Downloading and printing Q out also allowed me to carry around just a couple of pages at any one time, lightening my bag.)

So here you go. Q is apocalyptic and engaging. I downloaded 54 today and have high hopes. You can download both copies off the Wu Ming website. Other than time, ink and paper, what have you got to lose?

Oh yes, and subscribe to In Our Time.

Orhan Pamuk picks up Nobel Prize

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. From the Committee's official statement, Pamuk is a writer
who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.

What are our symbols? Where are our stories?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Turnover

Came across this in Wallpaper*. I like Timothy Yeoh's Turnover -- a design that tries to replicates some of the more tactile (read: human?) elements of reading, for electronic text. The concept of bookmarking by folding a corner of the electronic paper is so natural I'm surprised it hasn't come up before.

I still like the smell and feel of paper underneath my fingertips though. Fortunately analog paper is still more convenient and commercially viable... for now.

(Pic from Yanko Design)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Time-consuming

Before I can edit anything, I'll have to pull the footage off the DV tapes. I tried to batch capture, but didn't realise the timecodes on my tapes were screwy. Should've captured as I played the tape. I have to get faster about this stuff, but even then I think I'll have to clear more weekends for editing.

Japanese fonts



I'm helping friends who are organising an animation festival at the end of the year with some Japanese communications. Before this, I didn't pay too much attention to Asian fonts. SimSun is not ideal for Japanese (some designer's idea of revenge?) -- the katakana and hiragana come out stunted -- so I had to change everything into a Japanese font like MS Gothic.

(So I learnt that MS Mincho and MS Gothic are the Japanese fonts for Windows. The Mac version is Osaka, which probably follows the convention of naming Mac fonts after major cities. Apple doesn't seem to do that anymore though. And Meiryo, which you should look at above, is the new Japanese font for Microsoft's Vista.)

Argentum

Flipping through the hefty 10th anniversary edition of Wallpaper* last night, I wondered whether Singapore or a Singaporean would be mentioned in that bumper issue.

Well, at least a Singapore jeweller's made the website. Argentum was featured on 10 Oct in the Design section.

Argentum at Wallpaper.com

About halfway done

I finished all the filming (I think) for my short film on Saturday morning. Now the real pain begins -- editing. I'll be using the iMac G4s at Objectifs even though my filmmaking course has officially ended. The good folks there have, of course, learnt that the majority of students never finish editing their works before the course ends.

Telling people about my short film is the pressure I need to keep going. I'm concerned about rushing the whole thing, of course, but I don't want the project to drag for too long either.

Scheduling editing will be tricky. Hope to get the bulk of the editing done soon before I leave for SF, but work calls and there're so many days I can scrape by with scant sleep. The effects are showing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Penguin covers on Flickr

A photoset of classic Penguin paperback covers on Flickr:

(via BoingBoing)

Picking up Penguin by Design rekindled my interest in book cover design and illustration. Later I would pick up a copy of Type and Typography without realising that both books shared the same author.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Deja lu?

I wonder if Blow-up and Other Stories (earlier post) was later reprinted under a different name? I'm thinking of Bestiary: Selected Stories which I'd previously borrowed from the library here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cat Head Theatre - Hamlet Act 2 Sc. 2

When BookMooch works, it works very well...

So BookMooch does work. I mooched a copy of Julio Cortazar's Blow-up, and Other Stories from someone in the US about 2 weeks ago, and it reached me today. Looking at the amount the guy paid for postage - approx. US$9 - I don't feel so bad any more about shelling out $15 to send China Mieville's The Scar to Finland.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Book launch at BooksActually, 28 Sept 2006

Happy 100th, Shostakovich!

Dmitri Shostakovich - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Banned Books Week: 23 - 30 Sept

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2006, marks BBW's 25th anniversary (September 23-30).

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

American Library Association website

Google on banned books

Wikipedia entry on banned books

Kinokuniya Bargain Alley find

The Bargain Alley at the Liang Court branch of Kinokuniya is always good for cheap, interesting finds. Picked up a new printing of the Arden Shakespeare Troilus and Cressida for a mere $6 as you can see. I was also tempted by The Sandman Papers, but just the idea of academically dissecting such a great series seems unsavoury. But if you're interested you should get down there quickly - it's just $12.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A new Rainbow

Oh yeah. Have been wanting to get a Penguin copy of Gravity's Rainbow for ages. Kinokuniya only has the Vintage edition, which has miniscule text. This new version comes out at the end of October - not very far away.

Work in Progress

As you may have noticed, I've decided to change the blog layout. We're still open for business though.
See, this is what happens when you're tired and not thinking properly. You go and lend a set of five Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics (ok, they're second-hand and yellowing but still) to a soon-to-be-ex-colleague on her last day of work. Why didn't I put 'em up on BookMooch?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thomas who?

I've just discovered that there are no Thomas Pynchon novels - not one - in any Times the Bookshop outlet here on my tiny island. I'm disappointed. I know I shouldn't be, but I am.

Incidentally, this made me decide not to bother with joining their membership programme despite the lower cost - $10 a year vs. Kinokuniya's $21.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

At night projections from moving cars are shone on the buildings downtown. Each car projects a video of a wild animal. The animal’s movements are programmed to correspond to the speed of the car: as the car moves, the animal runs along it speeding up and slowing down with the car, as the car stops, the animal stops also.

Primal and ethereal. Very cool to watch. Take a look at Wildlife

(via Wooster Collective)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Imagine a book of short stories comprising:

Sixty-two entries, each in the voice of a beheaded historical, mythical, animal or modern figure, make up the collection. Each is exactly 240 words, Butler's estimate of the number of words that could be spoken by a decapitated head before oxygen runs out. Among the post-mortem monologues Butler imagines are John the Baptist, Medusa, Cicero, a chicken, Nicole Brown Simpson, Maximilien Robespierre, Valeria Messalina and himself, "decapitated on the job" in 2008.

Gripping cover too.

(Via Book Covers from the NYT book review)
In case anyone's wondering, I got my iBook back from the Apple Service Centre earlier this week. Turns out that the 3rd party RAM chip was responsible and they had to change the motherboard. Thank goodness for warranties. I don't need the extra RAM right now anyway.
Came across a new service that, like BookCrossing, tries to find new homes for unwanted books. Unlike BookCrossing however, BookMooch introduces a points system and allows matching of books to individuals. Panegyrist explains the system here.

While being an improvement over BookCrossing, I don't think it solves the main problem with trading systems like these: that people will game the system by flooding it with lousy books. In BookMooch's case, since you get the same number of points when you post "MS-DOS for Dummies" as you do for Julio Cortazar's "Hopscotch", I think people will eventually start dumping books that they know are unwanted in order to earn points, so that they can ask people for books that are wanted.

Well, it's still early. Here's my list of books to give away

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Saint Jack

Got my cheap thrill of the day: I actually used a quote from Saint Jack at work. The one where Jack Flowers deadpans: "Some people when they're desperate they think about suicide. Me, I'm different, I think about murder."

The film's full of one-liners like that, and Ben Gazzara throws each one like a tight punch.

For his presentation yesterday, Ben Slater, author of the book on the making of this 1979 (officially, but the film was completed in 1978), spoofed Ho Tzu Nyen's Utama: Every Name in History is I, last seen at the recently concluded Singapore Theatre Festival. Admittedly, Ho's wry Powerpoint "lecture-performance" is ripe for parodies (which reinforces its point, but that's for another post). However, I couldn't help but wonder if there was some synchronicity between Ho's exploration of how people shape the kinds of history they want, and Saint Jack: a movie made by Westerners about a Singapore that they found alluring and exotic in its own way. There's even a scene where Jack is retelling the Sang Nila Utama myth to William in his own rascally way. (And if you'd bought the book, you'd have known that both men were drunk during that scene too.)

(More about the book Kinda Hot: http://kindahot.blogspot.com/)

Well, that's the 1970s for you. Even so, like Ben I'm hoping for a commercial release of this movie sometime soon - the ban was lifted in March after all. Not because the film's very good or particularly illuminating, but because it's a genuinely interesting character-driven drama shot in Singapore. Besides, if you were born after the 1970s, aren't you curious to see what Bugis Street and Boat Quay and Chinatown looked like then?

Friday, August 25, 2006


"For All Seasons" is an impressive Flash animation - where text turns pages into landscapes you can manipulate. "Autumn" is my favorite - now find yours.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Nostalgia attack! Rock In The Fine City has SBC music videos. Scroll down the blog to the June 24, 2006 entry (no link - hey, I didn't design their blog).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Published a year ago, but I only discovered this recently. From Harper's, July 2005: Chance Traveler by Murakami Haruki.
Aw shoot: I've forgotten all my Dr Strangelove quotes.

(Psst! Over here!)

I love that movie. /sniff

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Turns out that re-installing the Mac OS was a breeze. Now however, I have to update everything again. The Mac OS X update alone is over 140MB. Strange -- with files that big, why can't you update in stages? If you stop the download halfway, you have to download the whole darn thing from scratch.

And my trackpad's still not working, so I may have to go to the service centre anyway. I personally don't like using trackpads, but it was convenient.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Yep, my iBook crashed. It's been giving me problems for a while now: trackpad won't work; resets itself randomly; won't wake from sleep mode properly. I'd sit down and reinstall the OS... if I had a day or two to blow sitting in front of that white slab trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing.

To the service centre then. The iBook's actually lasted a shorter period than and given me more problems than a Windows PC. Why me?

Monday, August 14, 2006


(From Twenty Four Originally from illustrator Seymour Chwast. See this entry on Booklust)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Back from Hong Kong. Should be posting related stuff over the next week or so.

Speaking of travel, the LA Public Library has scanned its collection of vintage travel posters: Far and Wide.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Of course, I should've looked on YouTube for Pizzicato Five music videos. Why didn't I think of doing that earlier?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

From an old post on Typographica - the island of San Serriffe. What a cool idea!

San Serriffe | Typographica

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Some examples of great design here: Spanish pharmaceutical ads from the '60s and '70s. (From BoingBoing)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ok: if I write at least one thing everyday, even if it be the tiniest word, eventually I will end up with a work of some sort, right?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Coudal Partners had a competition where people were invited to submit combinations of book and band names. You can see the entries here -

Coudal Partners: Booking Bands

- but what caught my attention was that they installed blackboards in their washroom. Neat.

Sunday, July 02, 2006



Let's take a minute or two to remember the grand old dame of Singapore cinemas – the Capitol.

(The Capitol on Cinema Treasures)

There’s a feature on the Capitol cinema in today's Sunday Times (No links because The Straits Times has in place an anachronistic policy of locking every article behind a subscription. Perfect way to make yourself irrelevant online.) For those of you outside Singapore, or just too young to remember, the Capitol was a major cinema with much nostalgic value in the memories of many (slightly older) Singaporeans. It's still a key landmark here, right in the city centre.

(Photos, circa 2001)

Unfortunately, nostalgia alone doesn't count for much here. The article talks about the derelict state the Capitol has fallen into since its closure in 1998, after the invasion of multiplexes. Everything's rotting away or falling into disrepair due to neglect. This is painful to think about when you recall its history as a premier cinema here, with lavish (for its time) interiors. I was particularly impressed by the large representation of the zodiac on the auditorium ceiling, less so by the stylised wall-mounted sculptures of horses and riders on either side of the screen – all relics from an era when going to the movies was an experience.

No-one seems to want to take over the Capitol. Old buildings are very expensive to maintain, and when you add that to the exorbitant restoration and refurbishment costs, it becomes hard to justify why anyone would want to take over the building.

Should the Government do it? It’s easy to point at the authorities, but that doesn’t answer the real question: "What will we do with the Capitol?" It may not be completely right for the authorities to do nothing, but what are the alternatives?
The Internet has presented us with another fine, addictive use of office time:

The amazing Regret Index: I guess there is a lesson here for us all.
vote to find something new to regret
a world of regret awaits you
be a cautionary example for others
a horrible warning of life gone awry

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Woody Allen's written a short piece for The New Yorker:
The point here is that in life one is entitled to a side dish of either coleslaw or potato salad, and the choice must be made in terror, with the knowledge that not only is our time on earth limited but most kitchens close at ten.
The New Yorker: Thus Ate Zarathustra

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The good people at Pitchfork Media have assembled 100 Awesome Music Videos. And they truly are, starting with the video for A-Ha's classic Take on Me.

Hooray for YouTube!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Can't sleep. Off to reservist soon. I like green, but it's just not my colour dammit.

I already have a copy of Murakami Haruki's Dance Dance Dance, but I couldn't resist picking up a used copy of the Vintage International paperback, just for the startling cover art by John Gall. That was my sole purchase at Zouk's monthly flea market - Flea n' Easy.

One of my pet peeves is the abuse of the "@" symbol in names, and I thought the curators at the Singapore Art Museum latest exhibition might have been able to avoid this but no -- their latest exhibition is called Fiction@Love . What's that symbol doing there anyway? The phrase makes no sense whatsover.

In my opinion, the curators tried to be a bit too ambitious - the whole collection lacks a compelling focus, but it's worth a look (only $3 and there's the rest of the museum!). Stuff I especially liked were Amano Yoshitaka's black-and-white, close-up, Lichtenstein-ish portrait of a Gatchaman character, very different from his opulent, ethereal, and Yamaguchi Ai's "Hyaku no hana, yuki wa furitsutsu" installed in a small room near the second floor exit.

While you're there, go look in Gallery 2.7 (or was it 2.8?) for the work of video artist Paul Pfeiffer. I like John 3:16 and Fragment of a Crucifixion (after Francis Bacon).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lately, if I'm not escaping into books or design or book cover design, I'm spending the weekend outside wandering around the fringes of the central area. I can't stand Orchard anymore, even more packed with people now that both the Great Singapore Sale and the school holidays are here.

Constrained by the small floor area, Karen and Kenny have tried to display the Moleskine notebooks for their little exhibition at BooksActually as best they can. The whole experience is a bit voyeuristic -- you are looking through someone's personal notebooks after all -- and the disposable rubber gloves provided add a fetishistic tinge.

Kenny says more books will be coming in week of 5th June. Go over and say hi.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Something to do this weekend!

Yes, I think Moleskines are overpriced too. But you don't have to buy one - just get something else from BooksActually :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Felt like a vulture as I stumbled, hunched, into the now-quiet space, looking around for things to... buy. I'd had my eye on a poster (which turned out to be too large for my room), and I eventually left with that and a CD by local band Highrise (Nice guitar work, but I think their lead sounds awful.)

If Saturday night was the Irish wake for Cafe Cosmo, this was the church funeral. Hope things work out for the owners.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I didn't know today was Towel Day! :(

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Nothing good ever lasts. The rumours are true.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Well, at least there was closure.

And in other news, The Futureheads are releasing a new album on 13th June: News and Tributes.
For some reason, I feel a compulsion to see all of Wong Kar Wai's movies before I fly off to Hong Kong.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Right. I wonder who dreamt this ridiculous sign up. Bet it was easier than thinking of ways to keep train fares down instead of raising them.
I can't say whether or not L'Enfant deserved last year's Palme D'Or, but after watching it, the word that comes to mind is "lean". The Dardenne brothers managed to grasp the essentials of the story and express them without frills. No music, fine attention to sound, lighting and movement, no fancy camerawork -- mostly close-ups and tracking shots from the back, tight dialogue and editing. Every film student and budding director should be made to watch this, as an example of effective filmmaking -- of the power of getting film basics right.

On the other hand, Kinky Boots was utterly formulaic. Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance is the only saving grace here - the drag queen Lola gets the best lines, but Ejiofor makes them sparkle with sassiness, like his "two-and-a-half-feet of tubular sex" rant. Unfortunately, everyone else is stuck in their cardboard roles.

On a side note, a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes may or may not have been hurt in the making of this film.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rumour has it that Cafe Cosmo will close at the end of this month. If it's true, you only have about 2 1/2 weeks more to check out this cosy, laid-back, indie music joint. Take friends, a camera, cash for drinks or an obscure CD, maybe some Kleenex. And if the rumours are false - well, isn't it time you discovered the place anyway?

(And while you're in the area, drop into BooksActually.)
One of the things I took away from university was an interest in jellyfish, thanks to a term paper I wrote on the creatures. Their nematocysts in the cnidae (stinging cells) are especially fascinating because of the way such complex structures developed in a single cell.

For the first time, the discharge of a nematocyst has been recorded, using a camera that takes 1.4 million frames a second. The article below links to a video clip!

New Scientist Breaking News - Explosive sting of jellyfish captured on film
I finally found a copy of Iain Pears' The Dream of Scipio, used. A cheap paperback with thin pages destined for the racks of airport shops, next to the magazines and mints. Likewise, the cover's uninspired.

Am still halfway through Orlando. I had to return the version I originally borrowed from the library, but there're so many copies floating around that I couldn't be bothered to renew the loan. Just ran into a library and grabbed another.

I had begun with the latest printing - Orlando is part of Penguin's freshly released Red Classics series. Another reinvention of older books! This series is stripped of any notes or commentaries though. Cost issues?

(Incidentally, in my opinion the quality of the cover art isn't as good throughout. The Jane Austen ones do stand out nicely with the largely uncoloured hand-drawn illustrations.)





The second time I borrowed Orlando, I got the silver-covered Modern Classics version. The cover is an asymmetrically cropped screen capture from the 1992 film, with striking composition. And beautiful Tilda Swinton casting a self-assured, even smug look at the reader. You can't see it in the image, but there's a hint of a smirk tucked away in the corner of her lips.









btw, if you're interested: American paperback covers of Virginia Woolf's Orlando.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Resfest favorite Nagi Noda's music video (for some idoru called Yuki). Tolerate the first minute: the stop-motion photographic fun starts after about 1:05.



If you didn't know already, Nagi Noda also directed "Mariko Takahashi's Fitness Video" -- the strange one with the poodle-shaped woman and her exercising poodle friends.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I wonder why Secretary got the manga treatment for its Japanese release? Not that I mind Eguchi Hisashi's (江口寿史) brightly-coloured, photo-realistic illustrations.

See the actual DVD case here (thanks to Filmbrain).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

My first encounter with The Master and Margarita came when I first saw this cover (can't recall where though).

That demon cat, as expected, dominates the majority of cover art for The Master and Margarita. Most covers use an illustration:

The cover art for the version I just bought is unique in that it's a photograph of a cat in profile against a rich russet sky (looks like red in the image, but trust me on the russet). Subdued, but still interesting.

Much classier than the cartoonish art for the newer Vintage release:

But this Penguin one is my favorite so far:
It was almost a decade before I got to watch Peter Jackson's acclaimed 1994 movie Heavenly Creatures. Jackson's treatment of Juliet and Pauline's fantasy world is fascinating and creepy at the same time, becoming even more so as their grip on reality slips.

We dropped into BooksActually on the way to Cafe Cosmo, and I found a copy of The Master and Margarita.

After drinks, we went for satay, while SMSing those at home for election results.

So, how did your Election Day go?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Singaporean mosque featured in an American design magazine? I.D. Magazine has an article on the Assyafaah Mosque. Ignore the crude attempt at analysing SE Asia geopolitics -- the commentary on architectural and design elements is what we are here for:
Singapore's unofficial official design style is modern, born of the clean, earnest, dutiful modernism from the heyday of Western corporate headquarters (1960s-1980s). Modern design has offered Singapore a way to brand an identity for the sake of locals and foreigners alike. In the nation's early years, the fast rise of American-style office buildings gave Singapore a prosperous and familiar look that appealed to Western investors wary of Asian inscrutability. Now that Singapore really is prosperous, with a 2004 growth rate of 8.4 percent and an Asian standard of living second only to Japan's, modernism provides a nondenominational building style - a vocabulary unattached to any Asian region, race, or religion. One could argue that modernism maintains prosperity by keeping the ethno-religious peace. It may not always be pretty, but it never takes sides by looking too Chinese or Malay, too Buddhist or Muslim.
[...]
Its local architect, Tan Kok Hiang, a principal of Forum Architects, has explained that contemporary design is more strategic than traditional Islamic architecture, at least in this place, at this moment. First of all, the Middle Eastern mosque archetype is not only foreign to Singapore, but it is also imposing, even off-putting: The Malays are not Arab. On the other hand, a more modest mosque in the Malay vernacular might repel ethnically Chinese converts to Islam.

Interested? Architecture Week has a more detailed feature on the Assyafaah mosque. Next step is to visit it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The New York Times reports that Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesian novelist, has passed away. Another of the generation that fought for independence, gone.

In all, Mr. Pramoedya, a small, slender man who was frail much of his life, wrote more than 30 works: novels, short stories, long articles, short nonfiction pieces and a memoir of his hellish years as a political prisoner on the arid Indonesian island of Buru.

What caught my attention was this:
He was held without charges for 14 years on Buru, then kept under house arrest in Jakarta until 1992. But Mr. Pramoedya, fearful that he would not be allowed back into the country if he traveled abroad, did not dare leave Indonesia until Suharto was swept from power in 1998.

Despite all Soeharto's government did, they couldn't smother Pramoedya's love for his home.
"Nell," the Constable continued, indicating through his tone of voice that the lesson was concluding, "the difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people -- and this is true whether or not they are well-educated -- is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations -- in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward."

----- Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
The Saddest Thing I Own seems a bit like a Postsecret clone. As expected, most of the objects are there because they remind their owners about relationships and memories. I can sympathise with those, but I'd like to say that everyone has experiences and objects like that.

The most unique posts are the ones that are sad just because. Like the tree that kept getting hit by junk and vehicles till it died.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Jhumpa Lahiri has a short story in the New Yorker: Once in a Lifetime.
My employers, in their beneficence, granted everyone a boon of book vouchers. For a moment, I relished the potential irony of using them to buy Po Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life.

But then, it's not so ironic when my office library actually has a copy. A US hardcover version, no less. Certainly in much better condition than the battered, well-thumbed UK trade paperback I eventually took out of the public library.
Lots of people have told me how good Serenity is. Add one more reason to see the movie:

------------------------------------------
You scored as Serenity (Firefly).

You like to live your own way and don?t enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
I'm always discovering new stuff too late. Nerve.com's the Weekly Pic will no longer be updated, but you can (re)discover all the video clips. Some great stuff in there, like Pez's Roof Sex and the Flash-animated music video for TISM's Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me, just to name a few.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wes Anderson does an ad for American Express. The classical music, deadpan, off-kilter humour and 70s costuming? All here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Can any work seriously claim to have assembled the best 999 examples of design ever? Phaidon Design Classics have tried, with the earliest entry dating from 1663. Black Glaser Stencil on bright yellow reminds me of construction equipment. Industrial design, is it?
The Guardian carried a short story from Murakami Haruki's Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. In two parts:

Hanalei Bay -- part 1
Hanalei Bay -- part 2

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Art of Flirting is absolutely, utterly banal. Completely insipid.

Let's begin with the much-vaunted dialogue. I understand that the dialogue was workshopped, but the end result is still flaccid and disappointing -- no different from just getting the actors to sit around and just talk. No indication whatsoever about the characters' motivations or personalities. The dialogue is uninspired and meandering.

The trick with dialogue-heavy narratives is to create dialogue that sounds plausible, yet also serves a dramatic purpose. At a basic level, dialogue advances the plot. Better writers are able to make dialogue reveal bits of character so that the audience will be able to react in some way. Conversely, pointless chatter in a movie may be "realistic", but it's completely uncinematic. If I want realistic dialogue, I'd go sit in a Coffee Bean for a few hours.

The point is not to be realistic, but to give the impression of realism. Sadly, this film is a gross example of how the former can be hopelessly confused with the latter.

The camera movements were the worst. "Erratic" does not begin to describe the camera movements, with shots that were clearly off for no dramatic reason whatsoever. "Hummingbird on LSD-laced speed" is a better description, and even then hummingbirds stay in place sometimes.

But hey, it's director Kan Lume's first film after all. Hope the next one's better.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I was scanning book covers while walking briskly through Borders when this stopped me dead. Really like the design. Needless to say, I'm tempted to buy the book.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The legendary (well, to Apple fans anyway) "1984" ad. Steve Jobs' speech leading up to the ad is worth listening to as well. Watch how he builds up the Apple myth:

Friday, April 14, 2006

It always rains on Good Friday.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Kings of Convenience concert was wonderful.

We sit and watch umbrellas fly
I'm trying to keep my newspaper dry
I hear myself say
My boat's leaving now
So we shake hands and cry
Now I must wave goodbye
Wave goodbye, wave goodbye
Wave goodbye, wave goodbye

You know I don't want to cry again
I'll never see your face again
I don't want to cry again

We leave to their goodbyes
I've come to depend on the look in their eyes
My blood's sweet for pain
The wind and the rain brings back words of a song
And they sing wave goodbye
Wave goodbye, wave goodbye
Wave goodbye, wave goodbye

You know I don't want to cry again
I'll never see your face again
I don't want to cry again

So I read to myself
A chance of a lifetime to see new horizons
On the front page a black and white picture of
Manhattan Skyline

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Those with "something to fall back on" invariably fall back on it. They intended to all along. That is why they provided themselves with it. But those with no alternative see the world differently.

--- David Mamet

Monday, March 06, 2006

Joyceln Woo and Colin Goh's article on their conscious decision to opt out of the Singapore Dream Plan was one source of inspiration for their new film Singapore Dreaming, premiering at this year's Singapore International Film Festival.

It's a thought-provoking, expressive reflection on the ossification of ideals. If you're Singaporean, you should read what they have to say: Paved With Good Intentions
Saturday started so well. How on earth did it end so badly?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

So far, the only online version of Brokeback Mountain I know off that the publishing houses haven't removed is a Google cached page. Save it before it goes, too. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Thursday, March 02, 2006

If you happened to notice that new posts have inexplicably appeared in the blog archives for Oct, Nov and Dec '05, it's because I've transplanted the posts from my short-lived attempt at a book blog to this one. When you read this, Wandering Bookmark will no longer exist (except in a Google cache, I suppose). But I haven't stopped reading, of course.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Paul Arden's switched publishers, from Phaidon to Penguin for his new book: Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite.

Known for art and photography books, Phaidon's book designs tend to be better and more slick. That was part of the appeal of his first book It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be.

That book is great for raising downtrodden spirits, and I picked up the second based on the strength of the first. Yes, even though Penguin chose to publish the covers in unfinished heavy paper, which looks dull and stains easily. The paper used in the book also smells awful, and the book's a lot more expensive than his first one.

Once you get past the physical flaws, Whatever You Think has an even stronger rah-rah effect than its predecessor, part of which is probably because it's a more internally consistent work. I thought one of the (very) minor flaws of It's Not How Good You Are was that the little snippets that comprise the book were a bit disjointed, ranging from abstract inspirational bites to tidbits of practical advertising advice. The stories in Whatever You Think have a more evenly irreverent, defiant tone.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

My life is turning into a Woody Allen movie, one of his earlier ones. If only I could be as prolific as he.

Monday, February 20, 2006

New Murakami Haruki short story in the New Yorker: A Shinagawa Monkey

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Museum Shop has a line of coasters based on the old Early Ship series of stamps issued here in 1980. These stamps were a ubiquitous sight on almost all mail during the 80's, particularly the Fujian Junk one (15c) because that was how much it cost to send a standard letter back then.

The coasters are simple: the stamp design enlarged and printed on a plain white tile, with a sheet of cork stuck on the bottom. At $5 a piece, they're affordable.

I've always thought the designs were very appealing. Clean, crisp line drawings with minimal colouring and Helvetica typeface. The photo taken with my dinky Palm doesn't do it justice at all.

The Banyan Tree should consider selling a set of coasters containing each stamp from the Ship series.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

It seems to me that once you ask why you need an iBook or an iPod, you never really wanted one in the first place.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I didn't feel excited when I got my new iPod last night. It was more like relief; relief at not having to think about getting an iPod anymore. Being able to listen to music all the time again is bliss. Why did I put it off for so long?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Great. Now no-one will come back.

ChannelNewsAsia.com - Government to impose stiffer penalties for NS defaulters

Melvyn Tan was in his 50s, and he risked the wrath of the authorities to come back and see his sick parents. I wonder how many of those who complained can boast such filial piety?

Speaking of hypocrisy, isn't hiding the truth a sin in Christianity?

ChannelNewsAsia.com - Non-profit group gets grant to promote 'healthy gender identity'

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The return of political consciousness to American film?

Guardian Unlimited Film | Features | Hollywood's new politics

Founding eBay made Jeff Skoll a billionaire. Now he is doing something very different - producing political movies that recall the rabble-rousing days of Warren Beatty and Robert Redford, and turning American filmgoers into grassroots activists

Sunday, January 08, 2006

On reading today's Sunday Times feature on the foam spray menace, I was disturbed at the readiness of Singaporeans to attribute sexual rapaciousness to foreign workers (presumably Indian or Bangladeshi construction workers). Consider:
Though victims largely point the finger at foreign workers, police said the eight arrested were a mix of locals and foreigners.

and:
Marketing manager Teo Shuyin, 21, who was on Orchard Road last Saturday, recalls walking with her arms folded across her chest. She said the culprits were foreign workers.

'They set on us the moment we stepped out of the car. I was hiding behind people and using my arms to cover my chest. And even when they weren't spraying, you could feel them staring at you,' she said.

Of course molestation is wrong, but how can Singaporeans be so sure that the culprits aren't locals?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Reviews of Reiner Stach's Kafka: The Decisive Years. This one's from the NYT, and this one's from Michael Dirda, resident book critic at the Washington Post. On the whole, Dirda's is more positive, but he spends more of the review being wistful about Kafka than actually commenting on the book itself.
Tash Aw's novel The Harmony Silk Factory, shortlisted earlier for the Man Booker Prize, cliched the 2005 Whitbread First Novel Award. I'm glad to see that a Southeast Asian author has been recognised overseas, but slightly ashamed that no Singaporean writer has even gotten half as far as Aw in the literary world. Hwee Hwee Tan got published, and umm... that's about it. Surely we can do better?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Housekeeping for the new year.