Thursday, January 31, 2008

Anaa al-anaa fii Singhafuuriati

Yeah, I'm back from Manila, with no ill effects save for a gash on my arm where a San Miguel beer bottle smashed me when I got drunk in someone's house and an annoying case of fleabite. (Let's just hope I don't pass the fleas on to my family or pets. We have enough animals in our house, thank you very much.)

And I've a truckload of photos and anecdotes to post, but right now I'll stick to showing off the work of the students in life drawing class today - now they're working with pastels!

Fabulous, huh? (Mind you, I'm leaving out the ones that make me look like I'm 9 months preggers with twins.) The title above, incidentally, is a reference to the fact that I've been furiously revising my Arabic - advanced classes start on Feb 12.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Frostbite" at Short and Sweet Sydney 2008

My highly depressive 10-minute play "Frostbite" is going up at the Short and Sweet festival in Sydney. It's going on during Week 3 at the Seymour Centre. If you h-a-p-p-e-n to be in the city at that time, go see it. :)

Haven't had even a phone conversation with my director Frieda Lee (she called, but I was back late, and it's been expensive for her), but hey, it's in another country, I'm not gonna see it. Tell me how she does, won't you?

Short and Sweet Week 3
29 Jan to 2 February
Seymour Centre
Corner of City Rd & Cleveland St.

SEYMOUR 9351 7940
MCA TIX 1300 306 776

Incidentally, it seems like I'm the only Singaporean writer on the schedule of 130 plays (although not the only Singapore-based writer, since Nick Perry has "An Illustrated Talk" at Newtown during Week 4). Considering how Frostbite is written for an American campus setting, this kinda suggests that the content of the festival's gonna be a trifle... how can I be tactful?... white.

Other Singaporeans made the shortlist of 317, but just weren't chosen by directors. Sure, it's a little dangerous for someone to stage a piece that's written for a different culture from what s/he's familiar with. But still.

Anyhow, at least two of my Interplay friends are being/have been performed - Sime Knezevic from Brisbane and Ivor Martinic from Croatia. Prost.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pupunta ako sa Manila

I'm visiting the Philippines from 24 to 30 Jan. And through some absurd turn of events, I've been invited as a speaker at the University of Manila.

January 23, Wednesday
1-2.30 pm, Production Design Class
College of Mass Communications Auditorium
U.P. Diliman
A CONVERSATION WITH NG YI-SHENG – Singaporean writer & queer activist
January 25, Friday
1-2.30 pm, Youth Culture and Cinema Class
A-107-B, Film Institute
U.P. Diliman


The reason behind all of this oddness is that I once met Filipino artist Yason Banal at the Singapore Biennale, almost participated into a performance art event by him, and ultimately ended up interviewing him for

Actually, my life is just odd. Very odd. After a Sunday night burning the midnight oil playing Weboggle and attempting to write song lyrics, I called the Filipino embassy, found out that if I wanted a visa it'd only be ready in two working days so I'd have to go down that morning before 12noon, started filling in the application form but found out I needed a photo, rode down to the Clementi MRT Konica shop, found that the Konica shop's passport photo camera was kaput, rode to Lavender to get a passport photo taken and as the escalator reached the top a dead bird flew into my feet.

I'm not kidding! A beautiful, orange-throated dead bird, still warm to the touch but with its eyes all wonky, a circle of feathers all around my sandals and the escalator works.


I'm kinda pantang about the trip now, really.

And when I got my photo taken and got to the embassy, it turned out there's been a miscommunication and I didn't need a visa anyway. And in the cab home I realised I'd dropped my passport in the embassy. Turned the taxi round and thank god an official picked it up and had it ready for me.

Scared already! The universe is telling me I shouldn't go! But I pay my ticket already, so how?

I'm just gonna pray extra hard to Kuan Yin that I don't get run over by a mutated tarsier on steroids.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pachelbel's Canon, Korea-style

In other news, I strangely have very little desire to have a boyfriend right now. It's uncanny. A month ago, that was all I wanted. Now, I can't even imagine being in love.

This sucks a little, because I'm supposed to write lyrics for a love song. But mostly it's very functional.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is it possible be pedophilically attracted to your own father?

Well, I'm not. But by all objective judgments, my dad was a very good-looking little boy in the 1950s:

In case you're confused, he's the only good-looking little boy in the photo. The small one who doesn't look mong char char.

My godma's the one with the ribbon (she still looks exactly the same, only taller), and the lady seated is my great-aunt (in Hokkien it's kweh-ma) who used to run an illegal lottery out of her shophouse. Bless her plenipotent ancestral spirit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

drug-resistant 'flesh-eating' MRSA bacteria hits MSM in san francisco and boston

A new, highly drug-resistant strain of the “flesh-eating” MRSA bacteria - which is known to thrive mainly in hospitals - is now being spread among gay men in San Francisco and Boston, researchers reported on Monday.

Sexually active gay men in San Francisco were 13 times as likely to contract methicillin- resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, than their heterosexual counterparts, said researchers at the University of California at San Francisco.

Based on a review of over 300 patients’ medical records from nine hospitals in San Francisco and two outpatient clinics in San Francisco and Boston, and through chemical analyses, it is also found that the bacteria is spreading among the gay communities of San Francisco and Boston.

Researchers have found that the new strain of bacteria called USA300 is growing resistant - or unresponsive - to three or even four classes of widely used antibiotics.

The study - published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine - warned that the new strain which seems to have “spread rapidly” in gay populations in San Francisco and Boston, “has the potential for rapid, nationwide dissemination” among gay men.

The bacteria, which typically produces boils that can grow to the size of tennis balls [YS: WTF????], can lead to sepsis (blood poisoning) or a deadly flesh eating form of pneumonia that devours the lungs in severe cases.

Researchers estimate that about 30 percent of all people carry ordinary staph chronically and most of those who do carry it in their noses or may manifests as an abscess or cellulitis in the buttocks, genitals and anal area.

Staph infections often look like raised red dots on the skin. Left untreated, the areas can swell and fill with pus.

"Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable," said Binh Diep, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. "That's why we're trying to spread the message of prevention."

And prevention could just be as simple as soap and water.

"Taking a shower after sexual contact may minimise contamination,” says Dr Chip Chambers, co-author of the study and director of infectious diseases at San Francisco General.

"Ordinary soap will do. It dilutes the concentration of bacteria. You don't need antibacterial soap."

Previously, MRSA infections have been documented in sports teams, prison populations, gym-goers and the community at large.

In December last year, a infectious disease expert in Hong Kong warned that visiting massage parlours or having facials may increase one’s chances of contracting MRSA.

Even though the Department of Health conceded that there was insufficient scientific evidence to show a link between infections and massage parlours, the warning came after a finding that 10 percent of patients infected with MRSA in 2007 had visited massage parlours within 12 months of the onset of symptoms.

According to the health department, the number of reported community- associated cases jumped from 32 in 2006 to 175 in 2007, with two deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2005 some 94,000 people in the US became infected with MRSA, of which some 19,000 succumbed to it. ae

Across the Universe

I watched Across the Universe a coupla days ago. It's got flaws on the whole, but the individual segments with Julie Taymor's visual/dramatic interpretations of the songs are reallyreallygreat, I just go home and watchem overanoveragain on Youtube. And check out Jim Sturgess as our Liverpudlian boy-hero, Jude:

Sigh... just the way he cocks his eyes, the way his regional English accent twists the vowel of "girl"... and also how he's not boilerplate handsome, but actually recognisable in a crowd...

I do feel like I somehow missed that magic boat which involves innocently falling in love with someone who's innocent enough to fall in love back with you. What I did was a whole lotta misdirected longing.

Speaking of which, I luv T.V. Carpio's rendition of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" here:

But I'm kinda suspicious of the insertion of a token Asian lesbian character into the movie - yeah, it's hella important to reference the gay rights movement in conjunction with the civil rights, hippie and anti-Vietnam war movements, but what kind of historical validity do you have when the character is a femme who likes femmes and is apparently accepted by everyone around her in New York? '60s NYC was homophobic and lesbian culture was strictly gendered and ridden with violence and drug abuse and rape... plus I do wish she'd actually had a role that's active rather than incidental to the plot.

As it is, Asian lesbian just seems to mean => triple the hot chick quotient. Not good, Julie. Not good.

To close on a positive note tho, I wuv Joe Cocker's performance of "Come Together" here:

Buy the DVD when it comes out, it's got deleted scenes. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dream 130108

I dreamt of five brothers, promising schoolboys who had turned out to be good-for-nothings because their father left them to be brought up by their penniless mother. They lived on a jungle island and groused about their misfortune and unfashionable shirts, until one day their father returned with five new boys: rippling heroes, with nunchucks and glistening pecs. (At this point I might mention that the family appeared to be one of kung fu masters, and about half of them were Chinese and the other half were black.)

The five brothers met in their father's secret sci-fi laboratory in the jungle and vowed to murder the other brothers, who had stolen their father's favour and their own chances of fortune. Over a complicated series of events involving bloodshed, backstabbing, a metallic tunnel with a slide and what was either an MRI scanner or a psychedelic aquarium, the five brothers accomplished their task, only now they were so bloodthirsty and suspicious of one another that they were likely to murder each other as well.

Then the father returned, together with the mother and fifteen further brothers, all of them (including the parents) genetically enhanced and furnished with mecha suits. All 22 could not live together, so there would, the father explained affably, be a fight to the death. My last memory is leaving the site of the carnage via cable car with my Cuban-American ex-crush Christian Gonzalez. Turning back to the island, I had mistakenly taken off my pair of broken grey sneakers and left them forlornly behind on the platform. Never mind, said Christian, you can buy another pair on the mainland.

Monday, January 14, 2008


This is my site of the day.

In honour of my grumpy feline sister, who has just fled for America (pictures coming).

In other news, I begin Arabic classes tomorrow, and I'll be in Manila from 24 to 30 January. And
yes, I am determined to try balut.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Prodigal Returns

My sister's flying back to the States today. Which is a perfectly good excuse for posting the photos from the day she arrived back in Singapore: Christmas day in the morning.

This is us, starting out from home at some godfuckinforsaken hour in the morning.


My father having his breakfast in Terminal One.

My mother, being less than glamorous.

Anyway, E-Ching came back safe and sound and I was so happy to see her I didn't take pictures till we got home:

And she had to make amends with the cat, whom she'd abandoned for so long.

The way to this cat's heart is through her stomach.


E-Ching's been doing her PhD in Linguistics at Yale. She's been dissecting my parents' use of tones in Hokkien and quizzing my niece on her use of the suffix particle "one".

The advantage of having a big sister in the States is that you can avoid Amazon shipping fees by getting stuff mailed to her. Lookit this pile of indie pulp! (The package in the centre is my Xmas pressie.)

Time to slay the fatted calf!

I LOVE STUFFING. And my sister loves cornbread. What a happy family we are.

And who doesn't love butter? Unless you're vegan, in which case it's like drinking your grandmother's blood.

Add boiled water and stir. Nice and fluffy.

And spoon it in! (Honest, I was doing this too, not just Yuli, who's my grandmother's Indonesian caretaker.)

After stuffing, we keep the turkey moist by swaddling it in haram, haram BACON. It's held in place with satay sticks.


MEEAAATT. To be honest, I overcooked the bird, but it was still pretty juicy. Time to lay the table!

That's my Mum in her Burberry's.

Keropok, or Malay prawn crackers. (Yes, we treat Christmas as a Western tradition, but we're not purists.)

French beans with gravy stock carrots.

Bacon, the candy of meats. It gets crisped while you're roasting the turkey. Sacrificial protection.

Bacon fried rice.

GRAVY. Niam niam niam!

Ginger-pecan cranberry sauce. Here's how I made it the night before.

Nameless Indonesian crackers made from obscure nuts and eaten with coconut syrup. (My parents had just been to Bali and picked up a mess of these things.) [Update: it turns out that they're emping, made from belinjo nuts.]


And da turkey.

I reiterate: are we not a happy family?

My father has a habit of disrobing at dinner. Never mind, it's time for unwrapping anyway.

Yuli and Ida rip open the books I bought for them while my grumpy grandma looks on.

And it's also one of our Christmas traditions to allow the dogs into the living room to enjoy our company. (I know it's really wrong religiously, but the maids actually love the dogs very much. I bet they'd rather they were cleaner though.

Our German shepherd Shuai Ge says Merry Woofmas. Gawd, I'm inane. Will post something intellectual tomorrow.

Monday, January 07, 2008

White British Slam Poetry

I've noticed that every time the British Council sends over a performance poet to disseminate culture on our blessed little corner of the developing world, the poet is - strangely enough - always black.

Grace Nichols, John Agard, Malika Booker, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Charlie Dark. I'm not objecting to this trend - they're all solid, and we get precious little Afro/Caribbean culture in our high art scene as it is. But it's just another reason why these videos of Scroobius Pip are revelatory to me:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Endorphin Rush!

Good news: I'm in a much better mood now. Partly due to having a capoeira lesson today, partly due to my having pretty much given up on that feckless prettyboy F and having decided to chase other feckless prettyboys.

(Strangely enough, I've realised that not chasing anyone just pushes me into an even deeper funk: I am, like Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion, defined by my questing desires. Sorry Amidha Buddha; I'm an existentialist after all).

Anyhow, to celebrate my newfound goodcheer, I'm uploading a buncha photos taken over the past coupla weeks to exhibit the fun-filled extemporanea of my life.

Actually, this one's not about fun: visited the artist/activist Seelan Palay on the fourth day of his 5-day fast outside the Malaysian High Commission. He was protesting against the arrest of the HINDRAF rally leaders under the Internal Security Act. As illustrated, you may see his friend eating, and him not eating.

We talked about racism and class ignorance in Singapore and Malaysia (god, lower-class Tamils really do have it bad, even considering who we've got as President). Read more about his protest here.

This is the Talking Globe I was ever so tempted to shoplift from the Salvation Army dump pile. It hadn't been processed yet, so I grabbed it and was about to head off for the bus stop when I reflected that I could actually buy one for my niece, and maybe some shopper who'd never get a globe otherwise might buy it for his or her underprivileged kid and inspire him or her to, I don't know, rediscover the source of the Nile. So I just took photos of it on the highway.

I did however buy a $5 G2000 grey longsleeve shirt and a $30 sequined slinkydress, both of which fit like gloves. Eventually I'll have occasion to show 'em off. Stay tuned.

I met up with Ka Fai that same evening and he told me VISTA Lab 3.0's gonna be shifted all the way from February 2008 to whenever 2009, with a bigger budget and hell, maybe some actual solid creative vision this time (though he and everyone else loved the chitterlings out of VISTA Lab 2.0). We hung out and talked kulturkampf at the Taka fountain and Borders Burger King and Coffee Bean 'n' Tea Leaf and the bar on Emerald Hill where his ex-girlfriend last kissed him before flying to marry another man in Taiwan.

Ka5: : Theatre must reflect the culture of that specific generation. And what is our generation? It’s already past. It’s a post-MTV generation. And what are we moving towards? I wrote two years ago that the future of theatre lies in the spontaneity of live performance. That's one thing that reality TV has given us. But one thing we can fight off is the moment of a live actor onstage. He can do something else that is not pre-planned, pre-scripted. And I made Not Available On Print Date after that.

...You’re writing all that?

Ten years later you write my autobiography.

Kenneth and Matthew from Flying Inkpot hosted a New Year's party with a Games Night. I cut up my SRT King Lear press pack to make a Stop Scrabble Set; Tze Chien introduced a game where we all stuck names to each other's foreheads with spit and tried to guess who we were through 20 Questions. Natalie and Sharon from Cake Theatre were there too - we all go way back to The Necessary Stage's Playwright's Cove programme for nurturing theatre writers in my army days.

For some reason Tze Chien had particular trouble discerning his identity. He'd figured out he was a Singapore playwright, he'd just somehow ended up with an idee fixe that he was a female one. He guessed Jean Tay, Ovidia and Eleanor before he figured out he was the man who led us all into scripts.

And last Sunday I took my whole family (together with some family friends) to the National Museum for a geeky Greeky field trip: '60s artefacts and classical exhibits from the Louvre. In this photo, my father is being a spaz and my mum is being tolerant. Both attributes I am proud to have inherited.

And a photo with Johann S. Lee, author of Peculiar Chris and To Know Where I'm Coming From.

Now I'm gonna go to sleep so I can get up in time for the Unitarian Universalist worship service at Pasir Panjang CC. Gnite!

(Btw, if you're one of the people I've asked out on a date and you've read this, do bear in mind that I like you and respect you but I have really have no idea where the hell my life is going right now. And you have every opportunity to disprove my accusations of fecklessness by giving a feck.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Delete all messages?

F says:

Ok… I was at hm... got flu..did’nt go out. Dat nite bk in cos 2day ive got COS bout u?

Wow great..dats sound real gd..i’ve got duty of e mnth.sigh.

Yup..tis wkend im free

Well,ur parents r home rite.?r they ok with dat?

Im quite not comfortable wit staying over.why not I come on sun noon or eve?

Thankz 4 e offer, I let u noe ok..c ya soon.


My cousin jas gave birth 2 day.i;m visiting her at e hospital 2 really sorry tis time..i apologise for disappoint u again..let set a day tis w * some text missing *

*some text missing *k, say tues?

Around 5..let u noe again..thankz for inviting again tis time. I’ll c u.

Needless to say, he didn't come today. He couldn't even be reached via text or phone calls. I know there's no formal connection between us (as much as I would like there to be, because hell, I thought he was well-brushed and intelligent and all), but why can't, why can't we have the human decency not to stand other people up?

I hate waiting. I've been fighting off despair all day by going to the gym, drinking bubble tea, renting videos, watching videos, playing Scrabulous, playing online Boggle. Try it. It'll eat your life like opium. I want everyone to suffer.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

December Texts

I made a new year's resolution at Indu's party to read all of Shakespeare. For some reason, I'm not so thrilled at the prospect.

I've been keeping track of my reading ever since February 2006. So this is the first full year of books I have on record. I oughta count them all and figure out the statistics of my reading habits. But no, not today.

Marc Nair’s “Along the Yellow Line”
Bani Haykal’s “sit quietly in the flood”
Liyana Yusof’s “Paper Trails for Strangers”
Chris Mooney-Singh’s “The Laughing Buddha Taxi Company”
+Jayne Fenton Keane’s “Ophelia’s Codpiece”
+Louise Glück’s “The Seven Ages”

+Gopal Baratham’s “Sayang”
+Alexandre Dumas’s “La dame pale”
Khoo Lilin’s “The Story of Ms. Poet”
Masturah Alatas’s “The Girl who Made It Snow in Singapore”
+Philip K. Dick’s “Eye in the Sky”
Ovidia Yu’s “The Mouse Marathon”
Joash Moo’s “Sisterhood: New Moons in San Francisco”
David Leo’s “Different Strokes”

Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” and “Embers”
+James Goldman’s “The Lion in Winter”
Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Princess Ida”

Mary Roach’s “Spook”
+Albert Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus’
+Ngugi wa’Thiong’o’s “Decolonising the Mind”

+David Malki !’s “Wondermark”
+Larry Gonick’s “History of the Modern World Part One”
Jennifer Camper et al’s “Juicy Mother 2: How They Met”
+Charles Burns’s “Black Hole”

+Susie Lingham and Suzann Victor’s “an equation of vulnerability: a certain thereness being”

FARM’s “Rojak 10”
+Cake Theatre’s “y grec”
+Cyril Wong and Adrian Tan’s “façade”
+The British Council, Malaysia’s “Wayang Kata V”
+Young & W!LD’s “Mad Forest”
+Hosea, A Little Music Ministry's "Cantate Domino"
+Teater Ekamatra’s “Pondok 2000”
+Tiramisu’s “The Misadventures of Belladonna & Digitalis”

John Turteltaub's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"
+Wisit Sasanatieng's "Citizen Dog"
Boo Junfeng and Alfian Sa'at's "Short Circuit 2", including +Royston Tan's "Monkey Love", Eva Tang's "Londres-London", +Victric Thng's "Locust", +Loo Zihan's "Autopsy", +Yong Mun Chee's "9:30", , +Ezzam Rahman and Ghazi Alqudcy's "Adam Up There?", Kirsten Tan's "10 Minutes Later", Tan Wei Keong's "White", +Brian Gothong Tan's "Waking the Fluorescent Lion" and +preview of "Invisible Children" and +Boo Junfeng's "Katong Fugue"

Singapore Writers Festival’s “Portrait of a Poet: A Tribute to Arthur Yap” and “Between Land & Sea: The Life and Times of Joseph Conrad”
Jesus P Boigues’s “King of Houston”
+Chua Chye Teck’s “Eternity”
+National Museum’s +“Greek Masterpieces from the Louvre”, +“GROOVISIONSSIN”, “Neues Bauen”
+Takashi Kurubayashi’s “Kleine See”
Yeo Chee Kiong’s “A Day Without a Tree”