Monday, December 31, 2007

Run For Cover

Enoch wants to reprint my poetry collection, last boy. Enoch wants a new image for the cover.

Preferably I'd like to use an image by a Singapore artist - the last image was by Brian Gothong Tan, a reworking of this graphic:

I could use one of his works again, but it'd be cooler to find a new image... the themes of the book are youth and a multicultural/homosexual coming of age...

Any suggestions?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I've lost a customer!

As a Fridae reporter, I wanted to have some coverage of the Singapore Writers Festival for the benefit of furthering interest in literature of the region. I approached both the Malaysian novelists in English for interviews: Tash Aw said no, Tan Twan Eng said okay but don't pigeonhole me.

So I did an article about Twan Eng and his wunnerful novel "The Gift of Rain", which involves hot gay WW2 sex anyway, but I kept just in line with his demands, and I got hate mail in return:

Post #8 ken34my says (Posted : 30 November 2007 22:29) :

Ng Yi-Sheng , you were trying to trap Twan Eng? ... " æ: What advice would you have for aspiring gay writers in Asia? " ...

.. u didnt understand ... "Though Tan prefers not to discuss his sexuality as an author, Fridae managed to get him to agree to an online interview" ...

amazingly he went along with the interview with you at all ... so im going to get 2 copies of his book now ... (for his level of tolerance) ... and not likely anything of yours ... ever ;)

Haha, well, I've done my job as a journalist (most people in the posting gushed yes, buy the book, and isn't the guy smokin'). I got to meet Twan Eng over cocktails and he was cool with the article anyway.

So that was 80 bucks well earned. For the cause!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Queer Singapore Literature Talk with Writers Johann S. Lee + Me


An Afternoon with Johann S Lee
(Author of 'Peculiar Chris' and 'To Know Where I'm Coming From')
& Ng Yi-Sheng
(Poet and playwright, also known for his documentary book, 'SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century')

Saturday, 29 December 2007
Pelangi Pride Centre @ Bianco (21 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Level 4)

Pelangi Pride Centre is proud to present a special event on the last
Saturday of 2007 - an afternoon with author, Johann S Lee, and
Ng Yi-Sheng, poet and playwright.

Many of us will remember with great nostalgia, the feeling of reading Singapore's first gay novel, 'Peculiar Chris' when it was released in 1992. Relive your first furtive glances at Singaporean gay literature in this afternoon with the author.

Also get a chance to quiz Johann about the motivations in writing his second novel 'To Know Where I'm Coming From'. Why did he take so long before penning this second book?

Yi-Sheng (who majored in Comparative Literature & Writing at Columbia University USA and curated IndigNation), together with Johann, will facilitate a discussion around the relevance of Singapore gay fiction.

Join us on Saturday, 29 December at Pelangi Pride Centre, for an informal and interactive afternoon.

About Johann's Latest Book: 'To Know Where I'm Coming From'

"A gripping story of love, caught between the gay worlds of London and
Singapore, unashamedly describing queer life as it is today: sexy and
sordid, romantic and political, frustrated and ecstatic."
- Ng Yi-Sheng, poet and playwright

"Hauntedly captivating and quietly powerful. Set against a diorama of
nostalgia and irresistible change, Lee observantly explores the ache of
falling in love and falling apart. For a Singapore which has evolved since
Peculiar Chris, Lee's assured second novel revisits the notions of choice
and choosing in a manner which, to his readers, has become not just
necessary, but imperative."
- Daren Shiau, author

"Read his novel... for its sheer honesty and at times heart wrenching
moments... Its importance in staking a claim in the territory of the
narrative of the overseas gay Singaporean male as well as the matured
Singaporean gay male experience, is not to be underestimated."

"To read this book is not just to know where the author is coming from, but
to recognise, as gay people in a postmodern Asia, ourselves. How we love,
where we hope to go. Who we are."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chag Sameach, Habari Gani and Io, Saturnalia!

Making an early morning post because it's bad luck to begin the Swahili New Year with an emo entry at the top of your blog. (Incidentally, have you read the wiki for Kwanzaa? Turns out it was rabidly anti-Christian when it started out, then got toned down to gain more widespread acceptance.)

Anyhoo, we do too celebrate Christmas in my family, and we have a nice sparkly tree up, and I've been buying gifts - had a big runaround trying to find some books in Bahasa Indonesia for my Indonesian maids; settled for Bahasa Melayu but then Popular didn't have any, and of the three Malay employees at Raffles City MPH only one girl knew where to buy a Malay book. (When I asked for a Bahasa Melayu book at Popular, they directed me brightly to the "Let's Learn Foreign Languages" section. Monoculturists.)

This is the Confucian-Protestant-Capitalist representation of Abraham Lincoln. Note the caricatures of grateful black people at the lower bottom (of course, everyone gets caricatured in this series, but still). I have no reservations about calling Confucianprotestantcapitalism a monoculture: just take a look at the bookshop's seamless juxtaposition of its Christian Inspiration and Fengshui shelves.

Finally scored at Tanjong Katong Shopping Centre, near Paya Lebar MRT.

The title means "My Heart/Liver in Harajuku". I was hoping to get a classic, but even a thriller is better than a romance novel. Sigh.

Also snapped up some Lucky Plaza DVDs for Maria (who's been with the family for 18 years). Isn't it weird how Filipino romance novels are in English only on the front cover?

The back cover blurb is in Filipino, just like everything inside. Also grabbed some "tingling" sensation lube for myself which I believe in retrospect was designed for external application only. My toys are washed, but my rectum still sparkles in fear.

Anyhoo, I don't have much time to sleep tonight - my sis touches down from the US of A at 6:45 ayem (on SQ21, no less!), but I've been biding my time making homemade cranberry sauce. We actually have an annual tradition in the family of eating stuffed turkey with bacon fried rice, and I'm the one who gets to help my mum butter and baste the bird, which I enjoy thoroughly, having been the only kid of us three who never had to study Home Economics.

I used Dani Spies's ginger-pecan cranberry sauce recipe, because I go apeshit over pecans. Unfortunately, it calls for toasted pecans, and I could only buy fresh ones. Fortunately, the recipe online for toasting involves dipping each individual nugget of nutmeat in molten butter.

Don't they look cute? Into the oven they go. Now, the recipe also calls for the zest of an orange.

What's zest, I hear you cry?

Zest is the gratings of just the top layer of the orange peel, 'cos it's the white stuff underneath that's the actually bitter. I love the word! Zest zest zest zest zest. But it makes the orange look unnaturally naked.


We also need grated ginger. I luv rhizomes.

Unfortunately I got the grated ginger and orange zest mixed in the same bowl before I found out you're supposed to keep one bit of zest for garnish. So my proportions went all screwy. We'll survive.

It's around now that I smell something heavenly and I open my oven. Turns out I've cremated my precious pecans. Grrrr. Ah, still edible. Saveur de charbon.

Now, we have to combine orange juice, zest and ginger on a stovetop and bring to a boil.

Also two tablespoons of brown sugar. I economised and bought the weirdly orange cheena brown sugar at Cold Storage.

You can't see it in the photo, but it really is neon orange. After I dumped it in, the orange juice base turned vermilion.

After it comes to a boil, add 12 oz whole cranberries... and half a cup of HONEY.

Then boil the living daylights outta those pustules.

Seriously. Cranberries are sour and bitter at the same time. How is that even chemically possible? They're only acceptable in sweetened or processed form. We're kinda spoiled in Asia - mangoes, mangosteens, durians, soursops, rambutans, lychees and longans are so perfect fresh, and we've managed to breed most of them to be pan-seasonal. (Of course, there are those awful green mangoes, which can only be rendered edible through assam powder. But I digress.)

It's true. As you leave them to simmer, the cranberries pop. Like pustules, I say! Like cysts!

15 min on the stove (Dani suggested 10, but I wanted mine smoothie-style), and it's done. Add the last bits of zest and chopped pecans, and you're ready for the fridge.

In you go, my pretty.

Actually, no-one in my family likes to eat cranberry sauce much. And this stuff tastes too much of oranges (it smells of cranberries, though). More sensible to get the canned stuff next time. And it was fun, but I'm not linking again to Dani Spies because she has inexcusable grammar in her blog entries. (How the hell can you get "their" mixed up with "they're"? How stupid is that?)

Maybe next time round I'll make this little concoction I saw in Lucky Plaza.

Better than chocolate Rice Krispies: chocolate rice pudding. It's fecally fantastic!

Gonna snooze for 45 min before fetching E-Ch at the airport. Toodle. More shots to come.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What I should have told him

J: Message me as soon as you get your new phone.

YS: What for?

J: We’re still friends, right?

YS: But I have lots of friends already. I have so many friends. I don’t keep in touch enough with the friends I have. But what I don’t have – what I have never really had – is a boyfriend. A person I love who actually loves me back. And sometimes it gets so lonely, sometimes the hollow is so black inside my heart I could scream. A friend is a palliative. A friend is like drinking water when you have cancer. It’s good for you, but you know you’re still going to die.

So unless you can find someone whom I can love and who’ll love me back, both in our stupid illogical ways, I don’t need to be friends with you.

I'm not actually feeling that emo. I just don't like being rejected, even for justifiable reasons.

UPDATE: Maybe it would've been snappier to say, "Why should I even try to be Platonic with you? It'd hurt." Ah, l'esprit d'escalier.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wisit Sasanatieng's "Citizen Dog"

This film is incredible. It was made in 2004 and it's only screening in Singapore now - and to a half-full audience on a Saturday afternoon, too!) Ain't that criminal?

Naturally, it's got a Wikipedia entry - apparently it's often compared to Amelie for its surrealism, but I think it's more like Like Water For Chocolate - only it's urban pomo pastiche magical realism here. The director is married to the novelist who wrote the original text.

Wisit's part of the Thai New Wave and he's been incredibly experimental - his first movie was a parody/homage to early 20th century Thai pulp cinema and now he's making forays into horror and ancient Thai painting as animation.

Go watch it! Oh yes, and the lead actor and actress are both very beautiful too.

Also watched Short Circuit 2, Singapore's second installment of gay short films - but too many depressing gay movies liao! Can't a kid live happily ever after in the indie world? Kudos to Ezzam Rahman and Ghazi Alqudcy for producing the only comedy among them, though. And a waggly finger to Alfian and Junfeng for not consulting Sayoni to get more women filmmakers.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Everybody loves my beard, it is bio-engineered...

Time for another phun phun phacial hair photolog!

Have been lazy about blogging, so the dates are really only approximations. Nonetheless, I did basically manage to grow a reasonable beard for VISTA Lab within two weeks (see my previous post).

DAY 11

Getting nice and bushy here...

DAY 12

But wait! Is it getting sparser?

DAY 13

Or is it a trick of the light?

DAY 13 (with my hair smooshed)

Confession time: I have many bad habits. Two of them are trichotillomania and trichophagy. Which means that after a while I began to pull out my beard hairs by the roots and eat them.

DAY 14

You: But Yi-Sheng, that's really gross!

DAY 15

Yi-Sheng: But it's just social grooming! And the chewy skin bits at the end are so yummy!

DAY 16

And I wonder why I'm still single...

DAY 17

Looking back, it's around now that my right muttonchop became barer than my left muttonchop. Next time I must practise ambidextrous chewing.

But I went a little overboard after the production. I allowed my itchy fingers to go crazy. And I pulled at the sides of my upper lip to the extent that I ended up with a little Hitler moustache:

DAY 20

But now that the production was over, I could rip out my Gillette Mach 3.0 and -

DAY 20 (aftermath)

Look! Now I have a manly-manly chin, but I no longer have to put up with the freakish ability to taste my own hair! (Seriously, I don't like kissing guys with hairy lips, so inasmuch as I thought I looked reasonably good with my moustache, I just felt unsexy. As a gay man, I try my damnedest to be the kind of man I'd want to fuck.)

My capoeira friends think it's hot and so does my mum (who's been away in China over most of the beard-growing era, and comments that it makes me look a little less "ar kwa". Whatever rocks your boat, momma). People keep mistakenly calling it a goatee, when it is (according to, a chin curtain:

It's also called a Donegal, and is worn by married Amish men. Ooh, hold on, Wikipedia says if it doesn't cover the entire chin, it's technically a chinstrap.

The chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus) is one of the most aggressive of the penguin species, known for its harsh call (hence its other name, stonecracker penguin) and its habit of frequently tobogganing on its belly. Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at Central Park Zoo in New York made headlines a few years ago for forming a loving same-sex pair-bond and hatching an egg together. A controversial children's book was written about it, celebrating non-traditional families. Then after six years, Roy left Silo for a female named Scrappy. Bisexual ho.


Back to Planet Yish: I'm still hazy about maintenance and trimming, and I'll shave it off the moment a budak cantik objects to it, but I am rather pleased by its incongruity.


Friday, December 21, 2007

I Am a Face to Watch

We've all had a good laugh about this article - it describes me as "a writer with a finger in every pie", and god knows that's the truth - and they haven't even documented my theatre review work, my performance poetry, my experimental poetry and my multimedia collaborations with VISTA Lab. (Coincidentally, Torrance Goh, our VISTA set designer, got named as a face to watch in this week's design and fashion segment. Woot, but by the time the papers recognise it, it's already old news.)

It's very good company to be in - choreographer/dancer/artist/interdisciplinarian/JC teacher Daniel K, curators Low Sze Wee, Matthew Ngui and Joselina Cruz, and actress Mindee Ong of 881 - who, incidentally, is described at being best at playing "women who are down but not out". Giggle giggle.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Evangelical Witch Hunts Against Children in Nigeria

Wole Soyinka's Jero plays aren't funny anymore.

Click here.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Presented by TheatreWorks
A Process-Presentation by
Choy Ka Fai
In collaboration with
_Joavien Ng _ Mohd Fared Jainal,
_Patricia Toh _Ling Hock Siang
_Ng Yi-Sheng _Zulkifle Mahmod,
_Khoo Eng Tat _GraceTan/kwodrent,
_Lim Woan Wen _Torrance Goh/FARMWORK.

Date : 14-15 Dec 2007
Time : 8pm
Venue: 72-13
Admission: $5

For Reservations ring 6737 7213 or email :
**There will be a Q & A session after the presentations.

INTERFERENCE is about unwanted signals that disrupt or construct movements of nature. It is about the interventions of patterns in history, time, signal and noise.

INTERFERENCE explores the concept of listening to the noise of history: moments which are insignificant in our collective memory. This presentation researches our techniques of remembering and the recollections of irrelevant episodes of unrecorded history.

INTERFERENCE is a space as well as an organism. This mediated space functions as an interactive installation and a performance environment where moving bodies, electronic sounds, visual documents and light are interwoven into a constantly changing artefact of unhistorical events.

If history is signal, then time itself must be recognized as noise: an infinitely complex mess of data that resists interpretation.
Our project is therefore to listen to the noise of history, moments, which yield no discernible signal: the insignificant events.
Herein lies a paradox. As artists, as humans, we have a natural impulse to transmute chaos into art.
Is our goal then to reclaim the forgotten into the field of recorded time?
Or should we resist, in our representations of insignificant events, our instinct to render them significant?

Conceived and created by Choy Ka Fai, V.I.S.T.A Lab is a series of presentations
resulting from workshop and experiments with the 10 Singapore-based artist/designer across the wide spectrum of artistic discipline. This project is based on the central theme of re-looking at historical events that escapes our people’s memories, seemingly deemed insignificant in our invention of a vibrant, global city. We are interested in the lapses of our recent histories and the understanding of the past to imagine the future.

INTERFERENCE is the second of three presentations of V.I.S.T.A Lab Cycle 1; the third presentations will be held in February 2008.

**For more informations please visit

Supported by
National Arts Council, Lee Foundation, Hong Leong Foundation,
72-13, Web-vision and Power98

With additional support by
Mixed Reality Lab, NUS

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oh fuck.

Terry Pratchett has early-onset Alzheimer's. See here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Me Being Avuncular Again

Went out the National Library with my niece Kimberlyn today before rehearsals. After reading timeless classics such as "Easy Peasy" and "The Old Man Who Loved Cheese", we had tea at Han's while playing with PhotoBooth.

She also logged onto a website to do some Health Education online homework (Smoking is glamorous. True or false? Doing drugs makes you happy. True or false?) and then typed a charming entry in Word:

Dear Diary,

Today I went out with gugu YiSheng we only go to library but I have learnt a lot of things. Gugu said that the Christmas Tree is a pointed tree.


I'd actually been trying to explain to her why fir trees are used as symbols of survival in the Winter Solstice since they're evergreens, but obviously she didn't absorb everything. She was, however, a little freaked out by my explanatory lectures on detention without trial and pontianaks. She's gonna have nightmares tonight about trying to drive a nail into the neck of an ISD officer who lives in a banana tree on Sentosa. :P I do my best to educate and expand the imagination.

On the way back in the MRT, we played some more with PhotoBooth. Kim has a passion for using the Mirror function to become a congenitally deformed infant:

While I like the way the Bulge function mimics the use of steroids.

... and I was half an hour late for rehearsals. Come for VISTA Lab leh!

Selamat Tahun Baru Cina

Since I'm just back from KL but haven't found the time (more like willpower) to blog about it yet, here's some soppy (but really really good!!!) Chinese New Year commercials from Petronas.

Just to make things difficult for everyone, the first is in Hokkien subtitled in Bahasa Melayu, while the second is in Mandarin subtitled in English.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Reading at No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur

I'll be having a reading tomorrow (Sunday 9 December) in KL:

“Wayang Kata V”

Poetry performance at night with Charlie Dark (UK), Chris Mooney-Singh, Pooja Nansi, Ng Yi-Sheng and Bani Haykal (Singapore) and Priya Kulasagaran, Liyana Yusof, Divya Jiwa and Jerome Kugan (Malaysia). Presented by British Council and the Troubagangers.

Sunday 9 December

No Black Tie
17 Jalan Mesui
Off Jalan Nagasari, Tel: 2142 3737).

Friday, December 07, 2007

My moustache brings all the boys to the bar

I'm supposed to act as the first Chinese historiographer Sima Qian in V.I.S.T.A Lab 2.o: Interference. One of the orders from director Choy Ka Fai was that I would have to grow a beard.

I used to look like this:








Now, I look like this:

DAY 10

I think the ultimate intention is for me to look like this:

But then I went and checked a picture of Sima Qian on Wikipedia:

Basket! Of course he was hairless! He was a eunuch!