Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Countdown

I've agreed to speak at this event at 7:30pm. Prob a very short speech though. From Seelan Palay:

Dear friends,

Every year on the eve of the New Year, we do a countdown with MediaCorp on Orchard Road and sing Auld Lang Syne with the President or the PAP Ministers. And every year nothing changes. Can the celebration be any more meaningless?

This year, for the first time in Singapore's history, The Singapore Democratic Party is organising a New Year's Eve Countdown at Hong Lim Park.

* Reflect & Share what went on this year and what's in store the next.

* New Year's Wish Board, we sure will need it next year.

* Freedom songs, lets sing together

* Candlelight display, lets build one together...

* A simple dinner of hot dogs and chips,.enjoy this simple meal together with those who care


* Remember JBJ, everything he has done for Singapore.

* His legacy and help make it grow.

* Speakers will pay tribute to the man

* An "open-mic" for those who wish to pay tribute to him.

* Songs of tribute to JBJ, lets sing together.

* Countdown ourselves to 2009 and usher in the New Year

Bring your family and friends. Let us make this a truly memorable and meaningful evening.

Hong Lim Park start at 6 pm on 31 Dec 2008 all the way into the 2009. Tell everyone!

More information here.

Monday, December 29, 2008


From Wikipedia: Anglicized form of the Dutch pappekak, which literally means soft dung or diarrhea (from Dutch pap pap + kak dung)

I don't care. I finished my can of original almond'n'pecan on Boxing Day and I want more.

More related to the definition, my sis says she'd dearly love to eat some despite her explosive lactose intolerance (she's rather overjoyed by my Christmas purchase of vanilla Soy Dream pseudo-ice cream). I've found some recipes online, but she refuses to consider the use of margarine (hydrogenation = heart disease) and baulks a little at corn syrup (which is similarly awful for her when it's high-fructose).

Hmm. There may be hope yet.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Submissions open for Queer Singapore Anthology

Dear All,

We're now accepting entries for an as-yet unnamed anthology of queer Singapore writing, provisionally titled "PRU: People Read Us"!

DEADLINE: 2nd February, 2009.

Please submit to <> with "QUEER ANTHOLOGY" in subject heading.


-fiction (preferred, because readers find this most accessible.)

-essays and san wen
-blog entries
-performance art texts

... in *all* languages. We're especially eager to include Mandarin and (if we can find them) Malay and Tamil texts.

While we're hoping to include mostly queer writers (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, pansexual and intersex), we will consider works on queer themes by non-queer writers.

Authors may choose to remain anonymous, or print under a pseudonym.

Longer works are welcome, if you allow us to select an extract for publication.

Works will be accepted from both Singapore citizens/PR and, Singapore residents, as well as once-Singaporeans who have renounced their citizenship in disgust.


Openly queer poets Ng Yi-Sheng and Jasmine Seah currently form the core of the editorial board. We have also invited Dominic Chua and Mandarin-language writer Irene Oh to join us, as well as poet/translator Teng Qian Xi.


Firstfruits publishing has said it would be glad to publish this anthology.

In conversation, representatives from the National Arts Council have also, amazingly, expressed support.

We're envisioning a work that'll be both readable (thus the appeal for fiction), as well as eccentric and inclusive.

We plan to donate royalties to a deserving charity.


Please help us to publicise this appeal among your various circles. We're especially interested in showcasing a diverse group of writers, which would include older writers and writers who've migrated overseas.

We're also very open to suggestions for a better title. :)

Many thanks,

Ng Yi-Sheng

Monday, December 22, 2008

I can't stop watching this.

Christina Aguilera - Candyman
Uploaded by jemuri6

What's really interesting to me is how she's combined the unisex polyethnic aerobic mass-dancing that was characteristic of her emergent days in the '90s (cf. Hit Me Baby One More Time) with the extreme sexual dimorphism of the '40s and '50s.

Oh I know I should abhor the military nostalgia, but this is just so much fun. My little brother recommended it from the Top 10 Sexiest Music Videos, which I initially misheard as the Top 10 Most Sexist Music Videos. Ya wanna see hot sexist music videos, check these out:

Satisfaction By Benny Benassi - More amazing videos are a click away

Yay for boobieses!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Side effect to winning $10K

I was in FOST Gallery today, admiring pieces of art, when I suddenly thought, "Holy shit! I can actually afford to buy this stuff!"

... I probably won't, but still!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The boss of the kids' newspaper I write for just sent me a Christmas card with a cyanide-squirting millipede on the front.

Yeah, my boss is Cherian George. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to advertise my involvement in this newspaper too much, lest schools believe that I'm programming the kids to turn gay and tear down the government.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interview on The Online Citizen

I've been interviewed by Singapore's only real investigative newspaper. Read it here.

Also, the reading at Booksactually tonight/last night was really good. Quick pace, and the addition of my invited readers Tan Chee Lay, Pooja Nansi and Bani Haykal really had some effect on the chemistry of the night. Hopefully they'll get asked to more English language readings from now on. They deserve it. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things I have been watching on Youtube





By the way, my brother's back home from college and my mother's in hospital. Who says I have to blog about important things first?

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm reading my way through xkcd instead of working.

More awesome/weird nerd/math/physics/sociopathy jokes here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Die Geschichte von Anna

(Or, my weekend homework for my intensive German class at the Goethe-Institut.)

Anna kommt aus Singapur. Sie möchtet studieren Deutsch, aber der Deutschkurs ist zu teuer. Schade! Sie geht zur Biergarten und trinkt viel Bier. Sie nimmt auch einen Whisky, einen Wein und einen Café.

Die Rechnung ist dreiunddreissig Dollar fünfundneunzig. Die Getränke sind alles von Deutschland. Der nächste morgen, sie ist blau, und es geht ihr not so gut – aber jetzt, sie spricht Deutsch! Das ist super!

Heute, Anna wohne in Berlin. Sie ist Deutschlehrerin von Beruf. In ihr Classraum, es gibt keine Kursbücher, aber es gibt viel Bier. Ihre Studenten hat viel Spaß.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

an affair with Ethos

I'm reading at this event!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008, 7.30pm
Poetry readings from Over There: Poems from Singapore and Australia
Venue: BooksActually
5 Ann Siang Road

Readings by John Mateer from Australia, Alvin Pang, Yong Shu Hoong, Ng Yi-Sheng, Madeleine Lee, Yeow Kai Chai, Toh Hsien Min, Angeline Yap, Leong Liew Geok and a few others. [I've also invited some others to join us. Bani Haykal's said he's game. I'll probably read a piece by Dorothy Porter in her honour if I'm allowed.]

This event is supported by BooksActually and the National Arts Council Mentor Access Project (NAC-MAP)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dorothy Porter is dead.

Shu Hoong, Deepika and I got the news from the staff at Darwin's WordStorm Festival this morning. We'd met her there, had a great time with her, had no clue she was battling cancer.

She was a poet who wrote best-selling crime novels in verse (including The Monkey's Mask), and a very out lesbian. I'd just asked NAC to invite her over for the Writers' Festival next year. I figured I'd interview her then for

I only knew her for three days, but she sure as hell made an impression. We liked each other's work, you know. She gave me a copy of "Akhenaten" and I gave her a copy of "last boy".

She was cool. Very cool.

No-one teaches us how to mourn for friends like that. Ones you barely know, but feel an automatic kinship with. You feel false for feeling something, then feel cold for not feeling enough.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I think we can end the DBS Boycott now. (UPDATE: Maybe not)

Hey guys, I know I said we should call off the boycott yesterday. But now someone's forwarded me a message from DBS, dated December 7th, which still advertises the promotion - but with the name of Focus on the Family removed!

So DBS has learned to be sensitive to us.... by keeping us ignorant about the nature of the charity it funds?

Yes, it's true that the mailer specifies that the money's going toward the building of a centre for teaching of children with learning disabilities. And I have mixed feelings about opposing that. But I think, in the end, that this group should remain, if only to point out that the choice of charity is intensely problematic. There are other charities out there doing similar work, and I hope that my bank (UOB) does some similar work with one of them instead.

My previous entry:

Hey guys,

Thanks for all your support for this group. I never expected it to gain the attention it did, nor did I expect DBS to respond by closing the promotion (yes, I know it's uncertain how much they've closed it down, but it's still a move to show that they're worried about the reaction from this community).

You see, all I wanted when I started this call to boycott was to show DBS and the rest of Singapore that queer people, their supporters/friends, and those who believe in related issues of choice in abortion and contraception, could form a consumer bloc. And that corporations should be sensitive to our interests - it's not just about not offending religious and racial groups, after all.

So now that we've received newspaper publicity and DBS has reacted, I think I'm (personally) willing to end the call to boycott. (You guys don't have to follow my lead, of course.)

I didn't want to destroy DBS, just to provoke its attention. And I personally don't think I should campaign for the closure of Focus on the Family, because I do believe in free speech.

(And I'm not getting any benefit from ending this, I just don't believe in being vindictive.)

Thank you one and all. I owe each of you a hug and an ice cream.

Yours sincerely,


P.S. In case you want to make reference to it, the original post is still at my blog:

P.P.S. I received this informational message from Jolene Tan:

Hi Yi-Sheng

Just realised you made a call for information on the sexist and anti-choice aspects of FotF's activities. Here are some posts I've made on Glass Castle which contain summary explanations and links:

Thanks for putting this group together.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The boycott worked.

Someone just posted this message they got from DBS. I'm gonna write them a thank you letter. Seriously, wow.

Dear ****

We thank you for your feedback and appreciate your concerns.

In line with DBS� corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts that are geared towards supporting children and learning, several welfare organizations that support similar causes were shortlisted.

It was never the intention of the Bank to discriminate against any group through this initiative. Nevertheless given feedback received, to demonstrate that DBS believes in diversity and inclusion, we will be removing the Christmas charity campaign with immediate effect.

DBS will continue to play its part to support the community at large, and we hope to have your kind understanding and support.

Yours sincerely
Iris Ho
Customer Care & Feedback Management
Consumer Banking Group
DBS Bank Ltd

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Irony of Ironies...

... my Singapore Literature Prize money came on a DBS cheque.

Yeah, I won the SLiP. I actually found out at lunchtime, 25 Nov, my birthday. That was one hell of a gift. Especially since I'd already convinced myself that I wouldn't get it (due to Shu Hoong's assurances that notice of the award is given much, much earlier).

I had this weird fog of glamour going on in my head for a while - terribly weird, since I'm winning for a first collection of not-very-mature poems, also because I'd told people I'd rather wait till I was more mature to win it, also because I knew that Cyril Wong's "Tilting the Plates to Catch the Light" was exponentially better than my own book, but he'd suffered unofficial disqualification for winning the previous year (stuff and nonsense; Mohammed Latiff Mohammed has been eligible for and won the Malay category THREE CONTESTS RUNNING, in fact since the incarnation of the prize in its current form);

and also because I wasn't supposed to tell anyone, which made the information all the more valuable;

but now, after the hand-shaking with Dr Vivian Balacutiepiekrishnan, I'm feeling a little deflated. I won the prize. Yeah, yeah. Yesterday's news.

WTF am I gonna do now????

Some snapshots:

Our MC commencing the evening. Don't be fooled by the polyglot projection; almost the entirety of the night's proceedings were in English. The sole exception was when Mandarin category judge Dr Chua Chee Lay insistently made some of his speech in Mandarin. The Malay and Tamil judges had no such cojones.

Seriously, NBDCS. Not PC. We should've at least had a reading of a poem or two from the language categories other than English. (And no, the lady above didn't read anything from "last boy". She read from Elmo Jayawardena's "Rainbows in Braille", Christine Suchen Lim's "The Lies that Build a Marriage", and Aaron Lee's "Five Right Angles" instead. I'm currently reading Mandarin category nominee Pan Zhenglei's "Tian Weiming Shi Wo Shi Shiren", and some of the poems in there are stunning. Why couldn't we have paid some tribute to these other writers?)

Here's the paparazzi when Vivian went up to speak.

Not pictured: teeny-tiny ten year-old Jonathan Chua, plunking his vitruosic fingers across the keyboard to open the evening (and also to mitigate the tension of the prizegiving). He's here as part of the Asia on the Edge festival. It was astounding. Prodigies are really slightly monstrous in their wonder.

Oh wait, I do have a picture of him:

He stayed in the back seats for most of the event, very guai-ly.

Truth is, I'm a little bummed after the reception. I thought I'd get to hang out with other writers for kopi, but the other prizewinners skedaddled so fast I couldn't even get their namecards. It's a shame, because I really, reallyreally wanted to get to know K. Kanagalatha, Tamil category prizewinner for her novel "Men I Have Murdered". She's a petite news editor of Tamil Murasu who looks younger than I am. She must be older, though, because she's not on Facebook.

Anyway, here I am with ex-librarians Mavis and Hedwig Anuar. Mrs Anwar is arguably the only woman among Singapore's first generation of English language writers. She's working on a family memoir. She's 80.

Speaking of age, Prof Rajeev Patke talked to me after the event. He said he was aware that it's a risk to give the prize to someone so young (oh please, when I broke through I was already older than Cyril and Alfian and Qian Xi), because the recognition might spoil me. Also: I have to set my ambitions high and concentrate on what I'm best at and keep slogging at it, if I really want to fayangguangda in the world literary scene.

Unfortunately, a Portugese palm reader in Maxwell Hawker Centre once pointed out that I have very little ambition, so I'm unlikely to go as far with my skills as I might.

Really, I mostly want to be happy and be with my family.

I know. I tak rock lah. I tak rock. (Sniff, sniff)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I sting the body electric

Japanese artist-programmer Daito Manabe electrocutes his face to music.

Via Slog.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My sister's come back home!

Also, the Singapore Literature Prize announcement ceremony takes place tomorrow.

Sent to Shu Hoong 23-11-08 18:58
Hey. Two years ago you knew in advance that you’d won the sing lit prize, right?

Received from Shu Hoong 23-11-08 20:50
Yes. They’ll tell u a few wks b4, n tell u not to tell.


Monday, December 01, 2008

November texts!

Around the beginning of the month I felt like all the authors I was reading were women. That got evened out a little eventually.

+Justin Chin’s “Harmless Medicine”
+Sharanya Manivannan’s “Witchcraft”
Rosaly Puthucheary’s “Footfalls in the Rain”
Ciaran Carson’s “Opera Et Cetera”

+Cyrano de Bergerac’s “Voyage to the Moon”
+Larry Niven’s “Ringworld”
Eudora Welty’s “The Bride of the Innisfallen and Other Stories”
+Ursula Le Guin’s “The Tombs of Atuan”

Robert Yeo and Guy Sherbonne’s “Second Chance”
+Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank’s “The Exonerated”
+Eleanor Wong’s “Invitation to Treat”

+Audre Lorde’s “Sister Outsider”
+Rachel DeWoskin’s “Foreign Babes in Beijing”
+Simone Weil’s “Letter to a Priest”
+Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”

+Aubrey Collette’s “Sun Tan: The Asian Sensation”
+Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster” Vols 1, 2 and 3
+Donald Barthelme’s “The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine”

+The Necessary Stage’s “Gemuk Girls”
Cake Theatre and The Finger Players’s “Flare”
+bits of ”Future of Imagination 5”
DramaBox’s “David the Best!”
+Buds Theatre Company’s “Death and Dancing”
+ACTION Theatre’s “Catching Adam Cheng”
+LaSalle College of the Arts’s “Nunsense” and “Lucky Stiff”
Toy Factory Theatre’s “First Light”
+TischAsia’s “It’s Not the Size That Matters” (well, I was acting in it…)

+Robert Wilson’s “VOOM Portraits”
+Chang Chien-Chi’s “Doubleness”
+Patrick Storey’s “Sometimes A Long Five Miles”
ACS (International)’s “MAPS”
Sculpture Society’s “Off the Pedestal”
Gabrielle Bates and Paul Lau’s “Pattern-Nation”
Singapore Art Museum’s “HEARTLANDS: Home and Nation in the Art of Ong Kim Seng”, +“Korean Art”, +“Japan Media Arts Festival” and +”Is it tomorrow yet?: Highlights from the Daimler Art Collection (1926 - 2006)”

Michael Wang’s “The Carrot Cake Conversations”
Ma Chu Cheng’s “The Butterfly Lovers”
+Fernando de Meireilles’s “Blindness”
the short films of “Short Circuit 3”
+ Marc Forster‘s “Quantum of Solace”
Yasmin Ahmad’s “Muallaf”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Please boycott DBS for funding anti-gay equality group!

Hey everyone,

I've found out that DBS has organised a Christmas promotion that sends money to Focus on the Family whenever people use their DBS cards. You can read more about it on this site.

The site describes FOTF as "a charity dedicated to helping children and families thrive". Well, that's not the whole story. The group, first founded by the Reverend James Dobson in the USA, has been actively involved in anti-gay initiatives since its inception. (Some source materials below.)

If you're a member of DBS and you support gay rights, I urge you to

1. Shift your account to another bank and cut up your DBS card. Since DBS has merged with POSB, POSB customers might want to do the same thing too. (If you can't afford to shift banks, at least stop using your DBS card till the end of the year, to show solidarity.)

2. Write to DBS to complain, using the following site: For added impact, send them a snail mail. The address is:

DBS Bank
6 Shenton Way, DBS Building Tower One
Singapore 068809

You may wish to use the following template:

Dear Sir/Mdm,

I am writing to inform you that I am considering closing my DBS account. This is in protest of your bank's recent Christmas promotion, in which DBS claims it will make donations to the organisation Focus on the Family for every set of teddy bears redeemed.

You may not be aware that Focus on the Family has played an active role in suppressing gay equality, both in Singapore and abroad. As a person who believes in gay equality, with many gay and lesbian friends, I object to the bank's support of such a bigoted organisation.

In Singapore, Focus on the Family has used its "counsellors" to spread misleading information in secondary schools, using a brochure called "Straight Talk" that spreads lies and negative stereotypes about gay and lesbian people and their "lifestyle". (See

Focus on the Family is also aligned with Choices, a group that attempts conversion of homosexuals - despite the fact that the American Psychological Association sees homosexuality as a normal condition, and sees deprogramming of gay people as more damaging than good. (See

In the United States, Focus on the Family has not only been involved in anti-gay propaganda and conversion efforts; they have also donated large sums of money against marriage rights - and the founder, James Dobson, has been accused by scientists of manipulating data to create statistics to back up his anti-gay prejudices. (See

DBS has tens of thousands of customers who are gay or who are friends and supporters of gay people. For your bank to donate to an anti-gay cause shows shocking insensitivity towards this section of your customer base. I am sure there are many other banks who would prefer our patronage.

Yours sincerely,

(Your name here).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Annabel Chong in Chinese?

My Mum's insisting that she's heard about a Mediacorp Channel 8 serial about Annabel Chong. Or else it's a serial in which the original Annabel Chong is acting in Mandarin.

Do you know anything about this? She says it's called "野玫瑰", or "Wild Rose". Google's not being very useful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Come see me act.

At 8pm next Friday and Saturday, 28 and 29 Nov, I'm doing a staged reading of filmmaker/Tisch Asia student Wee Li Lin's short play "The Tent".

I'll be playing a straight Eurasian schoolteacher. Patricia Toh will be playing the teacher I wanna schtup.

Come see me enter the wonderful world of pretending! It's free!

UPDATE: This version of the poster is cooler:

Friday, November 21, 2008

I has a new part-time job.

Doing oral history transcription for the National Archives of Singapore! It's boring grunt work, but it's still pretty fascinating.

(Wait, that's completely contradictory, while also being true.)

I'll also be finding out whether the results of the Singapore Literature Prize (why not just call it SLiP?) on the evening 3 December. I already have my evening dress picked out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Photos from the Sinai Peninsula

Near Mt Sinai, St Katherine's Protectorate.

Bedouin guards, St Katherine's Protectorate.

Monastery Giftshop, St Katherine's Monastery.

Dinner, St Katherine's Monastery Guesthouse.

Backpacking Japanese instant friend, St Katherine's Monastery Guesthouse.

Russian pilgrims, Monastery's Guesthouse.

Cafe, Monastery's Guesthouse.

Our room, Monastery Guesthouse.

Mysterious nook, St Katherine's Monastery.

2:30 am outside our room, Monastery Guesthouse.

Pilgrims about to climb Mt Sinai, Monastery Guesthouse.

Bedouin camel for tourists, Carmel Path.

Pilgrims, Carmel Path.

Bedouin coffee-and-souvenir shops, Carmel Path.

Rest stop, Carmel Path.

Summit, Mt Sinai.

Sunrise, Mt Sinai.

Enlightened pilgrims, Mt Sinai.

Us, Mt Sinai.

Summit of Mt Sinai after sunrise.


Bedouin souvenir hawker.

Emergency Clinic.

Rest stop, Steps of Penitence.



Graft of the Burning Bush, St Katherine's Monastery.

Rooms at Sphinx Hotel, Dahab.

Restaurant behind Sphinx Hotel, Dahab.

Puddy tat, Dahab.

Puddy tat taking advantage of father, Dahab.

Hong Kong kids whom we hitched a ride with to Petra after only occupying the room for two hours, Dahab.