Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Perth Pix

Check 'em out here.

My favourite Aussie food:

It's a very pretty city when you're not freezing your tits off:

Of course, prehistoric creatures sometimes invade the libraries:

And you have to be very careful where you park your panda:

But not to worry, for at the end of every rainbow, there's a:

Here's our publisher Fong Hoe Fang and poets Alvin Pang and Donna Ward:

Here's Lee Suan Hiang in disguise as a plastic cone:

And here's Lee Suan Hiang sexually harrassing Edwin Thumboo:


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm in love with intertextuality.

Therefore I love this Weezer video, which plays on Internet memes.  (Okay, so they're not classics, but someday they will be.)

UPDATE: Actually, I'll take it back. They are fuckin' classics. Here's the originals in case you don't recognise the references.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Singapore Discovery Centre sucks.

Reason #1: I lost my wallet there.  :(

It's like the 6th time I've lost my IC.  The police are starting to believe I'm selling them (seriously, I have to be questioned by the police before I get a new one).  Today I went to Bugis Market and got a new one for $11 though:

I made the trip there yesterday with my niece Kimberlyn.  This is a shot of us with her little sister Kerrilyn, taken when her parents came to pick us up.

Anyway, Reasons #2 thru #Aleph-null: PATRIOTISCH KITSCH.

There's actually a computer game about how Singapore colonises other planets in the year 3000, but officers have to be despatched to these colonies to ensure that the inhabitants continue practising good Singapore values of meritocracy and working your butt off.

Oh, and isn't this a great thing to teach yer kids:

You can't change the world, kid.  YER TOO ****IN' SMALL.  (I can't use profanities because I'm going to e-mail Kimberlyn and link to this site.)

There's a play area where you have to try and cope with Singapore's small size by building upwards.  I tried to do a Westin Stamford:

But a security lady eminent-domained my land and tore it down before it could become Hotel New World.

There's lots of other photos I'd like to add, but my computer's on the fritz.  Incidentally, Kimberlyn loved the place.  Kids have no taste.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Social Darwinism

Hey!  It's the end of the WordStorm Festival in Darwin, and I think everyone's agreed it was EXCELLENT.  Big kudos to organiser Sandra Thibodeaux (and yeah, I'm doing this partly 'cos I think props should be googlable).

From my meagre experience of lit festivals in Singapore/Hong Kong/Darwin, I'm now starting to understand that each one - being almost by definition international - each one entails a new perspective on multiculturalism (and of course, often once you're settled with one multiculturalism you tend to get kinda smarmy and showoffy and confident in your own cosmopolitanism, when in fact there are global multiculturalisms to be digested, each contingent on regional history and geography and context).

What we've got, here on the tip of the Northern Territory, is a assembly of writers in various genres (including drama, lotsa poetry, and journalism - literary, sports and gonzo).  We're mostly women (someone explained that in Australia women are more literate), and I've a suspicion that aside from me, no-one's under the age of 30 (except the volunteers, and maybe they should count - a number of them are writers themselves).

And we're all equatorial or Southern - whitefella and blackfella Australian, Indonesian, East Timorese, Papuan.  Of the Singapore contingent, only Shu Hoong and I are native; Shamini Flint (who's enormous fun), is a Malaysian expat with a big political identity crisis (grew up wanting to be banned from Singapore, ends up loving it here but also wary of the dangers of keeping to the expat community) and Deepika Shetty is India-born (says she can get way more journalism done in Singapore, as long as she's pushy).

I've met all these remarkable people - gaaaaah, Indonesian intellectual idol Goenawan Mohammad likes my poetry!!!  I'm all jiggly inside!!!!  And so does mega-lesbo-crime-novelist-in-verse Dorothy Porter, who gave me a signed copy of Crete, which she says contains her best poetry (unfortunately I'd just bought a copy myself, but she signed both).  And Sandra Tillman - damn, she's this sweet and gentle high school teacher and mother of two who transforms into a voice of anger for breakfast when she performs Timor Lesterian social injustice in Tetum or Bahasa Indonesia.

I am incredibly, incredibly... fuck, inspired sounds so trite, and it's not the right word.  But thrilled, just remembering them.  More joyous at the plenitude of the world.

Oh look, it's sunrise.  :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm going to WordStorm in Darwin!


Hear featured artists Munkimuk, Ng Yi-Sheng, Cristav√£o Pereira, Scribe Sisters Speaking & Kelly-Lee Hickey before getting up to slam!
8:30-11pm $10/$5
Duck’s Nuts, 76 Mitchell St, Darwin


Dorothy Porter, Yong Shu Hoong, Ng Yi-Sheng and Peter Minter all contributed to the first anthology of Singaporean and Australian poetry – Over There.
1:15-2:15pm Speaking Tree FREE

Theatre practitioners John Waromi, Mary Anne Butler, Tom E Lewis and Ng Yi-Sheng challenge ‘the fourth wall’ in community-driven performance projects that matter. Facilitator: Sandra Thibodeaux
2:30-4pm MAGNT Theatrette


Subversives Charles Firth, Jennifer Mills, Gayle Kennedy and Ng Yi-Sheng recount their challenges to the status quo, the nation state and the States.
Facilitator: Mark Bowling
2:30-4pm Arafura Tent

Rendezvous with Ng Yi-Sheng, Dorothy Porter & Shellie Morris in a toast to passion and the muse. Drinks & finger food
4:30-6:30pm $10
Absolutely Books, Cullen Bay

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Perth Day 1

Truth is, it hasn't been terribly interesting. Partly because I spent the day hanging out in Fremantle, Perth's neighbouring historical town by the sea. Shades of Townsville - that doldrum of a seaside town over in Northern Queensland where we had World Interplay last year. Chilly, rainy and dominated by generic shopping malls, touristic kitsch and colonial ruins.

Fremantle used to be incredibly important as a port, though - saw a rather good exhibition on the history of colossal post-war immigration from Europe into Australia, which mostly went through Fremantle. Whole families were encouraged to move over, ten pounds an Englishman/woman and the kids sailed for free, just to boost Australia's population from 7 million to 20 million in case the Cold War rolled south. World War Two had been risky for the Aussies, but it hit Europe worse: English, Germans, Dutch, Hungarians, Latvians, Italians and Greeks moved over, with the state-controlled press focussing on shots of the "beautiful Balts", the blonde Eastern Euro girls, to allay fears of racial/cultural dilution. There was a big white Australia policy being pushed, though - multiculturalism only became state policy from '77, with phone and hospital interpreters introduced and all us Asians being allowed to move in. (Including a Japanese guy called Sanshi who was trying to teach me how to play the didgeridoo in his store. Cool fella. They do recitals on Thursday nights.)

The real big news for me, though, is that my Couchsurfing connection worked - I'm being hosted for a couple nights by a pretty cool commune of three siblings and a husband, named Eliesha, Lara, Gabe and Ben respectively. I've talked to Ben mostly: he's a pianist and music teacher who works in jazz and rock; he just cooked me some rather nice briyani (of course he's done gigs with his band in Delhi before), and he says the cashew sugee I got him from Bengawan Solo tastes like shortbread. Eliesha and Lara are both social services workers. Gabe's in college, but gets up at 4:30 in the morning to work as a garbage collector so he can earn money to go visit his girlfriend who's somewhere in Europe or North America, can't remember where. He's also a psychology student (the whole lot are in college, really, they just skipped years here and there) and though I haven't seen him - and probably won't have time to - he looks hella adorable in the photos.

In other news, my mother and father are in China but were not killed by the earthquakes (some of their staff lost relatives, though). My brother's whereabouts are unknown, but I somehow can't get worried for him - first, because I'm pretty sure he's still in America and is headed for the South of China anyway, and second, after being in viewing distance of 9/11, disaster feels very abstract.

I have photographs of my life, of course, but none are very spectacular. I leave you instead with a taste: Australian meat pie. Dig it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Launch of Over There @ South Perth Poetry Park!

Basically, if you wanna come, it's on:

Thursday, 15 May
Neil McDougall Park, Como
Perth, WA
The World

RSPV [sic] essential. Invitation & map attached.

Please email or call 9474 0800.

From NAC:

A Poetry Park will be launched at the Neil McDougall Park in South Perth, Australia to celebrate the outstanding work and achievements of Western Australia’s poets. The opening also marks the launch of Over There: Poems from Singapore & Australia, an anthology of Singaporean and Australian poets, edited by Alvin Pang and John Kinsella.

The event to be held on Thursday, 15 May 2008 will be officiated by the Honourable Sheila McHale MLA, Australian Minister for Disability Services, Tourism, Culture & the Arts.

The Singapore contingent for the launch led by Lee Suan Hiang, Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Council, will comprise Meritorious Service Medal recipient, Professor Edwin Thumboo, distinguished poet and literary scholar, Professor Kirpal Singh, as well as acclaimed Singapore poets, Alvin Pang and Ng Yi-Sheng, and publisher Ethos Books for Over There, Fong Hoe Fang.

Whee!  I've got recognition from NAC!  (Now if they'd only start including me in their brochures of notable Singapore writers...)

And then after that, WordStorm in Darwin!  Seeya there!)


Fulfilled my avuncular duties again this Sunday by taking Kimberlyn out to the Science Centre - she's been begging to go for ages, but her family felt the Sabbath would be better spent mugging for midyear exams.

I'd tried to tempt her with the fact that the Peranakan Museum was holding the last weekend of its Opening Festival, but 'twas not to be. The little scullion even told me that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up, and her newfound idol is Marie Curie. (I'm rather relieved; last time I asked, it was St. Catherine.)

Lookit how tech-savvy the post-millennials are.  This is Li'l Kim with her cameraphone:

And with her handheld electronic diary:

I was trying to describe this state of tech to my 83 year-old grandmother at lunch. "Did you have PDAs when you were 9 years old?" I asked her in shaky Mandarin.

Ooh, yes, and there were also exhibits.  I was shamefaced when I couldn't explain to Kim what a diode or transistor were.  I was, however, able to tell her that Alexander Graham Bell's mother was deaf, and that eggs only hatch into fluffy baby chicks if the hen had sex first.  We played with optical illusions and the Tower of Brahma and the Archimedean screw (oh god, everything sounds like an innuendo on this blog) and the vortex generator and the phenakistescope andthe 3-dimensional Mobius strip.

Here's Kim on a parasaurolophus.

She loves dinosaurs (so did I when I was nine!), but unlike me, she doesn't try and memorise the roots of their Baroquely Hellenophone names.  (She does, however, plot over how to steal dinosaur eggs when the surveillance cameras are off.)

Ooh, and these are the hissing cockroaches:

They were right next to the cute lickle gerbils! (Kim was grossed out, but was amusedly tolerant of my fascination with them.)

We went to see a rather cool Omnimax Theatre movie on Egyptian mummies (how do they get all those people to do those re-enactments? And those were some dead-ass mummies on the iMax screen.) And later we came out and saw this weird hermaphroditic toy at the Gift Shop.

Anyway, my basic report is: the Science Centre is just as cool as it was when we were kids (and they're a lot closer to reaching  a million saga seeds in that big tube of theirs!), a bit shabby at times but slightly refurbished with most of the old stuff we loved still there or just shifted around.

Next time, she wants me to take her to the Singapore Discovery Centre.  Sigh.  The Peranakan Museum will have to wait.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Watching this was one of the nicer things that happened to me today.

Plus he's cute, isn't he?


Don't sue me for sedition!  I'm referencing a history of martyrdom!

(Believe it or not, I found this while I was trying to google whether Hellen Keller was lesbian.  She probably wasn't - she was engaged to be married at the age of 36, but her parents protested - but she did also have these very solid Boston marriages with other women, including her teacher Anne Sullivan.)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

My first articles are up on The Online Citizen!

Homophobia Part 1: the MDA Censors the Family

Although one commenter's called me a faggot (well, duh), another commenter (who didn't seem completely pro-gay rights) put up a link to a pretty interesting essay of his in which he compares gay male sex to smoking. His conclusion is that it's harmful to health, but it should be legal, and better education should be available. (He seems to be very distrustful of the effectiveness of condoms, though.)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Keronchong for Keronchong for Pak Bakar

Hey, I figured I'd put up a link to my Flickr set of shots from Keronchong for Pak Bakar, a documentary directed by Abdul Nizam Hamid about the award-winning cinematographer of the P. Ramlee movies in the Golden Age of Singapore cinema, now working as a gardener and living in a tiny HDB flat.

I especially like how this shot contrasts the two styles of filmmaking. Clear classic aesthetics versus postmodern blur.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thursday, May 01, 2008

April 2008 texts

I've been doing a fair bit of Japanese cultural research, as you can see. But my tastes remain pretty eclectic.

+Anna Akhmatova’s “Poems” (Everyman Library)
+Benjamin Zephaniah’s “Too Black, Too Strong”

Isa Kamari’s “One Earth”
+Gail Jones’s “Dreams of Speaking”
+Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things”
+Haruki Murakami’s “Dance Dance Dance”

Kunio Shimizu’s “Tango at the End of Winter”
Elangovan’s “1915” and “Romusha”

Asiapac’s “Pioneers of Singapore: Builders of Our Land”
+George Williams’s ”Religions of the World: Shinto”
+Charles C. Mann’s “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus”
+Mamoru Shinozaki’s “Syonan – My Story”

Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative's "Porn For Women" and +"Porn For New Moms"
+Art Spiegelman’s “Maus II”
Paul D. Storrie amd Ron Randall’s “Amaterasu: Return of the Sun”

+The Theatre Practice’s “The Soldier and His Virtuous Wife”
+Theatreworks’s “Dance Dance Dance”
NUS’s “The West Wing”
+Pentas Theatre Collaboration Project’s “Break-ing Ji Po Ka Si Pe Cah”
SimplyWorks’s “The Enchantment of Sangkuriang”
+Noor Effendy Ibrahim and Rizman Putra’s “Circus”

Steve Chua,Betty Susiarjo and Soh Ee Shaun’s “Lightz Out!”
Singapore Art Museum’s “Primary Colours: Feng Zhengjie”, “Xu Beihong in Nanyang” and “Re-Woven: Featuring the Works of Benny Ong”
+Seelan Palay and Kummi’s “Seelan & Kummi”

+Sun Koh, K. Rajagopal, Boo Junfeng, Brian Gothong Tan, Chew Tze Chuan, Ho Tzu Nyen and Tania Sng’s “Lucky 7”
Yousry Mansour’s “Dirt Out”
+Todd Haynes’s “I’m Not There”
+Han Yew Kwang’s “18 Grams of Love”
+Boo Junfeng’s “Keluar Baris”, +Michael Tay’s “Wet Seasons”, +Fran Borgia’s “Para Asia”, Muhammad EySham Ali’s “My Home, My Heaven”, Lincoln Chia Zhicheng’s “Love Me, Love My Dogs” and Cheng Ding An’s “Kallang Roar”
Abdul Nizam Hamid’s “Keronchong for Pak Bakar”
Kelvin Tong’s “Rule #1”
+Colin Goh's "Talking Cock: the Movie"
+Boo Junfeng’s “Tanjong Rhu”
+The Gay Christian Network’s “Straight to Heaven”