Saturday, June 30, 2007

Coded Language - DJ Krust feat Saul Williams

Like I was saying, Singapore needs poetry like this.

Incidentally, most music video directors will film a star lip-syncing lyrics at double-speed and then slow down the tape to create an ethereally beautiful figure moves with subtle slowness and grace, like a spacewalker, his/her charisma evading gravity itself.

Saul has been filmed at half-speed then quickened up in post-production: his body jerks and twitches preternaturally while delivering his song. I feel like that ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

Friday, June 29, 2007

World Interplay!

Just so people don't call my phone: from 3 to 17 July, I'll be at World Interplay, the world's biggest international festival /workshop for young playwrights.

I was picked by Ivan Heng as a delegate (yes they seriously call us that) to represent Singapore, together with Cheryl Lee of Buds Youth Theatre and Laremy Lee. (I got review Cheryl's play "Size00" for Straits Times before, as part of the triplebill "From Scratch"! I hope she has the clipping!)

More info about the event here. It's reserved for playwrights aged 18-26, so I *just* qualify as young enough to go.

It's also a biannual event, so hopefully there's an opportunity in the future for other young deserving writers in their early 20's to go. I mean, how come I got picked but not Zizi Abdul Majid or Jocelyn Chua, both of whom are far more immersed in the theatre world than I am? (And who've written plays *far* more polished than 251, may I add.)

I'll be workshopping "The Final Temptation of Stamford Raffles". My workshop tutors are from the UK, Australia and Turkey. Hopefully, I'll have time to blog.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Horizons in Portraiture

...using my MacBook camera!

Dance dramaturg Tang Fu Kuen, myself and composer Yak Aik Wee.

My grumpy grandmother and her maid Yuli.

Business Times theatre reviewer Parvathi Nayar and I, at the Akram Khan concert.

"Georgette" lead actress Seong Hui Xuan and the Finger of Death.

Jabir et moi.

T. Sasi and Lee Breuer from a weird angle in the Drama Centre.

Me and Suzanne Pemberton, Canada-born poet, English teacher and soon-to-be Swedish expatriate.
And my Mestre Ousado in capoeira class. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Haiku Slam @ Zouk

Went to the Zouk poetry slam last night, not intending to read. Unfortunately, they needed to rustle up 16 readers for a haiku slam, so they press-ganged me into the proceedings. Fortunately, haiku are very easy to write. Cynical haiku challenging the form, even more so:


Sixty years ago
they tortured, bombed and raped us.
Now, we write haiku.


My cock, seventeen
syllables long! Yet partner
still not satisfied!


Even MTV
has longer attention span
than haiku master.


Merdeka! Next month:
Tang shi slam, pantun slam and
Hindu epic slam!


This competition
is rigged: laughter outweighs depth.
Ha! Take that, Basho!

I ended up in second place (which I'm quite happy about, since I haven't come near to winning a slam since Writers' Festival 2003). I'm currently feeling a need to go back and learn more from the slam scene, which after all represents perhaps the only solid poetry community here, and has managed to breed three especially good and committed slammers - Marc Nair, Pooja Nansi and Bani Haykal, who was featured in the Arts Fest this year as a collaborator in Forward Moves, despite being only of NS age. They're getting published under Word Forward soon. :)

Savinder's pointed out to me how it's difficult for established Singapore poets to go up there and compete in the 3-minute slams, because our pride gets terribly hurt when we lose to a nursery rhymer (happened to me, happens to everyone). But the slam movement is probably the literary movement in Singapore that has the most committed penetration of schools and youth communities. And other established writers - Robert Yeo, Richard Lord, Yong Shu Hoong - are regulars at these events.

I mean hell, I just want to *know* this scene. It'd be great to become a slammer in my own right (I have written performance poems, but they're few and far between), but it feels like it's more important just to *be* there, to *know* what's happening, not to become obsolete.

I've got a terribly polyamorous approach to life. I read in different cultures and write in different genres and sleep in different beds (on occasion) and get staged by different theatre companies and attempt to eat a varied diet of all major food groups at every single fucking meal.

And I want - like the Theatreworks people - to know something of what's going on in different parts of the local arts scene. I know people in theatre and visual arts and writing and maybe film (no... not really), but what about indie music, classical music and dance? What about non-entertainment journalism, activism, fashion, design, high cuisine, architecture, science, history, philosophy, academia? It's not about the "arts" scene, for crying out loud; it's about a network of ideas; a community of people in this country who *think* and *make stuff* for a living.

I mean, we're a small country, right? We haven't developed *that* fast. Don't we know each other anymore?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Asian Pride Porn

While we're still kinda on the subject of indie movies and porn, Check out this mockumercial by Greg Pak (director of Robot Stories), starring David Henry Hwang.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Lucky 7 Project

Can't wait for this to come out! It's a collaborative project between Singapore directors, where each one directs one seventh of the show, and then the next one shoots the next section *only* knowing what the last scene was! (It's based on the surrealist format of the Exquisite Corpse).

Better yet, it brings together the best of the new queer directors with the best of the young straight ones - Sun Koh, Boo Junfeng, Ho Tzu Nyen, Brian Gothong Tan... er, forgotten the rest of their names. A few of these people have never put together a feature-length piece before, too.

Wonder if we could write a novel like this?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Speculative friction

Remember all that brouhaha abut the US Army trying to develop a "gay bomb"? The inevitable's happened... someone's making a porn movie about it. :)

Gaybomb_posterFollowing the controversial political parody of Gaytanamo, released to huge critical acclaim earlier this year, New York'€™s most filthy-fun gay film studio Dark Alley Media today announced plans to kick the US Government while it’s down.

Gay Bomb will take us into the future and the year 2012. George the Second has refused to step down as leader of the “free world,” and the nations of Europe have banded together to fight the new American military dictatorship. Desperate to fend off its attackers, the US launches the experimental “gay bomb,” designed to make the enemy forces drop their guns and turn fag. But the winds of fate blow in a different direction, and soon America is brought to its knees.

Recent news headlines revealed that Pentagon insiders admitted to having truly considered the gay bomb€ as an example of non-lethal chemical warfare in the Iraq War. The Air Force asked for a $7.5 million grant to develop the idea, which was proposed to the government’s highest scientific authority.

Dark Alley’s Matthias von Fistenberg said, "We’re really not making this up..."

Gay Bomb will begin filming in November 2007, after Dark Alley completes its already jam-packed production and release schedule for the year. Look out for current releases Gaytanamo and Fisting Underground, Part 3, as well as the upcoming Matthias von Fistenberg's Fist Weekend.

From Wired.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Job week

Jabir and I had lunch at Holland Vee today. And while we were walking to Buona Vista MRT, we came across two ladies trying to retrieve berries from a tree with a stick:

A fat Caucasian lady exhorted us two young lads to help the aunties. (She said she'd do it herself, but she was in a dress). Being so compelled, we ended up scouring the longkang for fallen bits of...

...I think the aunties said it was called kam yong. Good for watery eyes. Drink two decoctions, no need to see doctor.

They gave us $2 each for our trouble. I joked to Jabir that we had joined the City Harvest. (Or has the whole of Singapore turned into Orchard?)

P.S. These photos are all taken with my Macbook PhotoBooth programme! (Seriously, it's the most reliable digital camera I've got right now. Just tough to hold my laptop right for location shoots).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cost of living

Huh? Singapore's been ranked the 15th most expensive city, alongside New York??? (Click here.)

I mean, yes, it's a cut-throat business finding a car and a home here, but it's way worse in NYC. Or perhaps they assume that New York City includes the suburbs of Little and Great Neck (retch).

And how can Beijing be more expensive than Amsterdam? Or Lagos more than Los Angeles? Or Almaty more than Barcelona? (Don't know where Almaty is? It's the capital of KAZAKHSTAN.)

There's actually something quite beautiful about this topsy-turviness, because it dares to suggest a utopian vision where cities worldwide are at some kind of economic equilibrium, regardless of dominant race, religion, or cultural influence. A completely misleading vision, but seductive nonetheless.

P.S. Last night at "Full Frontal", Tan Tarn How told me his family reads my blog. Of course I'm honoured, but honestly, don't you guys have better things to do? Sheesh! Go read Boing Boing instead; it's way cooler.

P.P.S. Honestly, inasmuch as I like attention, I also value the liberty to be brainless.

CORRECTION: Almaty is not the capital of Kazakhstan; rather, it is Astana. Almaty is, however, the biggest city, and its surrounding regions boast the world's widest variety of wild apples. Kazakhstan is, of course, the country where the apple was first domesticated - before that, they used to have fangs and hairy udders.

Monday, June 18, 2007

ContraDiction 3

Hey All,

I'm curating an event for IndigNation: a queer literary night, where we'll be reading bits of poems, plays, songs, stories and blog entries by and/or about queer people in Singapore. It'll be held on the night of Sunday, 12 August, 2007, at 72-13 home of Theatreworks.

Anyone who wants to be involved, please e-mail me entries and enquiries by next Saturday, 23 June 2007.

You don't have to be queer to read, but we are specifically hoping to give exposure to overlooked voices in the community - very interested in the writings of queer women and non-Chinese writers in Singapore, for example, as well as hoping to portray a variety of generations and genres.

A bit of background: the first year, ContraDiction was held at Utterly Art, and the second year it was held at Mox. Both events commanded a large turnout, and featured readings by mostly emerging queer poets (the only published ones have been myself, Cyril Wong and Alfian Sa'at).

There's more info on previous ContraDiction events here:

Hope to hear from ya!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Maafa II

Today's Straits Times had three stories about China - the case of young people enslaved as brickworkers in Shanxi, the problem of there not being enough rural immigrants coming to the big cities for unskilled labour, and the rising interest in African students in learning Chinese.

Which suggests the future scenario that soon low-skilled African foreign workers will be imported to China, with human rights abuses comparable to those of slaves. :(

Of course, Africa's a long long way away from China, so it mightn't be economically viable. And who knows if the Chinese economy's going to break down in a decade or so. When he heard the news, my father scoffed and said a few decades ago, everyone in Africa was trying to learn Russian.

Maybe if my copywriting picks up, I'll make enough money to go for a Swahili immersion course in Nairobi. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tiruvalluvar's "The Kural"

How come love poems don't age? Why can we look at a love poem by Sappho or Solomon or Chu Shuzhen and still feel struck to the quick of the heart? Whereas Hallmark love is cliched and stupid by contrast?

I've been reading a shortened version of "The Kural" by Tiruvalluvar, the greatest of the pre-modern Tamil poets, and all his couplets on manhood and statecraft sound absurd and moralistic today. But his lovesongs:

126. Farewell, Reserve!

Love the axe breaks down the bolted door
Of bashful reserve.

That pitiless thing called Love exploits even at night
Its mother, my heart.

Fain would I hide my love, but it breaks out
Like a sneeze.

I thought I had control, but my love
Breaks all bonds.

Not for the love-sick is the dignity
That will not chase the indifferent.

How wonderful is my grief
Seeking the indifferent!

What do we know of shame when the lover
Does all we long for?

Where is that fortress of feminine reserve
That can resist a host of enticing words?

I said I would hold back, but when my heart went out
I too went with it and clasped him.

Is it possible for those to freeze
Whose heart melts at a touch?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Men In White

Just watched "Men in White"... actually missed the first coupla minutes 'cos I was trying to find a copy of the Business Times for the good review of Georgette.

Yeah, I'd read the negative reviews of the show in the press. But it's written and directed by Kelvin Tong, and I loved "Eating Air", "The Maid", "Love Story"... so I figured I had to at least see this one for research purposes. And hell, it's a cool concept (the same one I used in the play "Hungry"!) and it's a fun trailer, if you understand Mandarin.

But the show...

Well, let's start off with what it did right. A lot of the film is very very funny; the 10:05pm theatre was crowded and people were laughing their way through the first half with pretty regular consistency. Kelvin's got the goofy Jack Neo-style "boiing" brand of slapstick going on here, with rapid non-sequitur jump-cuts, even to animations and hip-hop music videos in Hokkien, Cantonese and English.

A lot of the reviewers complained about the lack of focus, about the weakness of structure. But that's only a real concern if you're trying to appraise the movie by conventional standards; if you're trying to grasp at it rather than grooving to it.

But I've gotta mention what another audience member said on the way out - "I feel like I've grown stupider watching this show".

Kelvin's definitely not stupid, but he hasn't quite shown an ability to use comedy for concrete satirical purposes - you can figure out some kind of allegory on how to live a purposeful life in the actions of the ghosts, as well as hints at the undercurrent of government surveillance that's part of the Singapore psyche. But that's not quite stuff that you appreciate subliminally, the way you do in, let's say, "12 Storeys".

And in the meantime, his comedy makes caricatures out of everyone - I really am pissed at the portrayal of the new homeowner that tries to chase the ghosts out from his apartment as a flaming fat queen, whom the contractor insults as a "chao ar kwa". Sure, you can claim that any representation of queer characters in Singapore cinema is welcome. But everyone in the audience is laughing whenever someone says "chao ar kwa". Am I supposed to enjoy that? Am I supposed to enjoy the fact that we're reinforcing the idea that saying "chao ar kwa" is okay???

On reflection, Singapore cinema has a terrible tendency to make fun of Indian Singaporeans in a similar way, portraying them as clownish buffoons - it's done in this film, as well as with a security guard in "Just Follow Law", and arguably via ethnic/gender drag in "Liang Po Po: the Movie". "Army Daze" could also be said to mock Indian culture, but it's an equal opportunity offender, and Kumar and Lathi are given solid enough roles to suggest some interiority. "Unarmed Combat" is fairly unique in the way it features a Indian character as an important role among a Chinese-speaking clique - he's sarong-wearing and comic to a certain degree, but the other characters digest the cultural difference rather than othering him - they teach him mahjong and they've learnt enough Tamil to count to three (which is more Tamil than I have).

We need more Malay and Indian film creators in Singapore, and more Chinese language film directors who're willing to create significant roles for non-Chinese characters. (Come to think of it, "The Maid" was already a step forward.)

We have lots of budding queer directors, luckily. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Just had a farewell supper at Domus Cafe with Suzanne Pemberton, an English teacher/writer friend of mine who's going to Sweden soon. She's part of a very interesting community of mostly mature, professional expat queer women - and expat here includes prodigal daughters who grew up in Singapore, vowed never to return, and then came back anyway with their girlfriends in tow. Very different from the RedQueen/PPC set, the Sayoni set and the TwoQueens set.

Have more photos, but have to be careful of outing people, probably. Also have a buncha fun fotos of opening night at Georgette on my Careerblog - click here.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Women In Art

Guess I feel a little sappy 'cos Georgette is going up. Wish the animator had included some late 20th and early 21st century artists as well, though - where are the Frida Kahlos, the Cindy Shermans and the Lisa Kusavages?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I've been having a *lot* of fun with PhotoBooth.

It has EFFECTS. Like black and white...
Coloured pencil...
X-ray (wtf?)...
Thermal camera (eurrrrggghhh!!! I've got SARS!)And pop art:
There is lots more I've done; not sure whether to whip it out just yet.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Feed the body, feed the soul

My depression is laughably hormonal. I've just made cookies for the cast of "Georgette" and I'm happy again. Chocolate chip and walnut with butterscotch and raisins (actually, it tastes rather boring; not sure what went wrong).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Before I ask someone out on a date, I will ascertain that they *know* I am asking them out on a date. Granted, this will make it far more difficult for me to actually find someone to date, but I will not find myself kicking myself for giving movie and theatre comps to people who:

1) have found a boyfriend since two weeks ago when you checked if they were single;

2) think they're way out of your league ("You asked me out? You're so brave!!!")

3) cancel three hours before we're supposed to meet up because they happen to have too much homework; and despite prompting do not reschedule.

And this is leaving out all those guys who seemed okay after a first date, but then always say they're too busy for a second.

The truth is, I really am fan-fucking-tastically lonely. There are people who're attracted to me, but I'm usually not attracted to them. And thus far I have not had one single real relationship. My only ex from three years ago declared that he had only time for an open relationship and insisted that IMing was as good as actual dating.

My friends have been giving me counselling. They say I make things more difficult for myself by being strange, but of course I shouldn't be anyone other than myself. And of course there's the big problem of my being attracted mostly to younger men.

Things reached a fever pitch during the weekend. Loneliness isn't poison; it's starvation, and during fasts you experience hallucinations. Hypodermic chocolate. Origami in the mouth. White rice quicksand. This wasn't helped by the fact that Umbu and Ligerinho had just come back to capoeira class, and no matter how chill they are, it's still very difficult to interact casually with handsome men.

As the roda played and Baiana played the pandeiro, the senses inside me flooded and became one with the ax'e. I beat the atabaque. I compraed. I aued. I gingaed. Queixada. Armada. Parafuso. Meia lua de frente. Meia lua de compaso. Negativa. Role.

It stops hurting when I fight. Esquiva. Cocorinha. Encrucihada. And I don't even fight that well.

I'm actually not as depressed as I sound right now, but I do need introductions.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Doll Face

Intensely beautiful, pseudo-deep animation. Nice.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I has a Mac!

(And it have a Photo Booth programme!)

Just bought this baby yesterday at the Computer Fair. My 3 year-old Futjitsu PC laptop wouldn't start up yesterday morning (was probably jealous since it knew I was going shopping), so this MacBook comes in the nick of time (worryingly, it refused to shut down last night because of the DVD player complaining. But it really is supremely easy to set up).

The really tricky bit, however, was payment. I couldn't shell out the entire sum 'cos my venerable clients have been dawdling in sending me my cheques. (Also I've shelled out first to go for a young playwrights' conference in Queensland, but I might get some grants to help me along with that - more info later).

First, I left a $200 deposit via NETS (no credit cards or cheques accepted), and then frantically SMSed my sister for help. (This is in the middle of an insanely crowded exhibition hall where we have to use the International Signal Alphabet to say I'm at the corner of JVC and Canon).

Then, she tried to pay the remaining $2,486 by NETS. It said she'd exceeded her withdrawal limit for the day (my sis has been stocking up on a new wardrobe for her PhD).

She tried paying $2,000 by NETS. No dice.

She ended up paying $1,500 by NETS and $700 in cash (she'd been planning to go shopping for clothes later).

Then we had to call her friend and have him pay the final $285 by NETS.

Honestly, I don't have to be this broke. I have friends in university who get corporate copywriting jobs, no problem. Am I missing some valuable connections here? (More on that later; I have a big job for the end of the year),

P.S. How am I going to pay my capoeira fees and my phone bill today? O noes!1!1!

Friday, June 01, 2007

FTW!!! May texts!!!

Yes!!! Twenty-nine adult books and eight children's books (I went to the library and read to my niece) in one month, coming to a total of 37 books in 31 days!!! A new reading record!!!

In other news, I didn't see much good theatre this month.

Koh Jee Leong's "Payday Loans"
+Kate Clanchy's "Samarkand"
+Billy Collins's "The Apple that Astonished Paris"
Yeow Kai Chai's "Pretend I'm Not Here"
+Anne Carson's "If Not, Winter: Fragments from Sappho"
+"Sonnets of Michelangelo"

+Aubrey Beardsley's "Under the Hill"
+Gore Vidal's "Myron
+Richard Crace's "The Devil's Larder"
+Edith Wharton's "Ethan Frome"
+Gail Carson Levine's "Ella Enchanted"

+The New York Neofuturists' "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: Best of 2006"
+Friedrich Dürrenmatt's "The Physicists"
Caryl Churchill's "A Number"
Nilo Cruz's "Anna in the Tropics"
Kee Thuan Chye's "1984: Here and Now"
+Noel Coward's "Plays: Four", including "Blithe Spirit", "Present Laughter", "This Happy Breed", "Ways and Means", "The Astonished Heart" and "Red Peppers"
Stella Kon's "Silent Song and Other Plays", including "City of Splendour" and +"Dragon's Teeth Gate"

Sigmund Freud's "The Schreber Case"
+Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie"
James Boswell's "Meeting Dr. Johnson"
+Evelyn Waugh's "The Coronation of Haile Selassie"
Al-Mas'ūdī's "From The Meadows of Gold"
+Michelle Baker and Stephen Tropiano's "Queer Facts: The Greatest Gay and Lesbian Trivia Book Ever"

+Marisa Acocella Marchetto's "Cancer Vixen"
+Lat's "Town Boy"
Barnaby Legg, Jim McCarthy and Flameboy's "Death Rap: Tupac Shapur: A Life"
+Hergé's "The Seven Crystal Balls" and "The Prisoners of the Sun"

+Sunny Warner's "The Moon Quilt"
+Tomi Ungerer's "Moon Man"
Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson's "Ready, Set, Read... and Laugh!"
+Giselle Potter's "The Year I Didn't Go to School"
+Debra Frasier's "On the Day You Were Born"
Allen Say's "Allison"
Mary Virginia Fox's "Continents: South America" (Heinemann's First Library)
Charles Winter Johnson's "Internet: A Magic Mouse Guide"

Singapore Repertory Theatre's "A Midsummer Night's Dream
Theatreworks's "Sandbox #1", 3rd Night, including excerpts from Leon Lim's "Shahjahanabad", Yak Aik Wee's "Happy At Eccles", Alvin Lim's "Almost Heaven" and Chew Boon Leong's "Happy Together"
"Mentah IV: Please Stand Clear of the Platform Gap", including +"Mat CD" and "Rendezvous Point"
Temasek Junior College's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Ray MacNiece's "An Evening of Monologues, Poems and Songs"
Musical Theatre Ltd and Word Forward's "Musical Express/Poetry Slam"

+Leste Chen's "Eternal Summer"
+Gabor Csupo's "Bridge to Terabithia"
Amir Muhammad's "Village People Radio Show"
+ Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's "Born Into Brothels"
Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's "Mirrormask"
+Brad Anderson's "The Machinist"
Zero Chou's "Spider Lilies"
+Way too much "Iron Chef"

+Zeng Fanzhi's "Idealism"
+Voilah!'s " Engraving the World A Selection from the Chalcography Collection of the Louvre Museum"
Singapore Art Museum's "Wong Keen: A Singapore Abstract Impressionist"
Li Qingxing's "Weed Garden" at Soobin Art International
The MINT Toy Museum's Permanent Collection
The Singapore Philatelic Museum's Permanent Collection and "An Nyeong Ha Seyo Korea!"
Jessica Koh and Joanna Tan's "Travelling on Sacred Ground"
+Pablo Picasso's "Vollard Suite" at Singapore Tyler Print Institute
Bhaskar Arts Academy's Painting Gallery