Friday, July 31, 2009

Come to IndigNation 2009!

What's IndigNation, I hear you say? Here's from the website:

Indignation is the LGBT Pride season in Singapore, reaffirming our participation in the intellectual and cultural life of this country, reminding all that we are as much a part of Singapore as anyone else. The organisers are motivated by a belief that however difficult, progress is possible. We are not passive victims of ignorance and prejudice in an unchanging landscape. We are active citizens playing our part in making Singapore a better place.

I've been involved in every single IndigNation since 2005. This year, I'm curating and emceeing ContraDiction, a literary reading at 7pm on Sunday 30 August at 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road. There'll be foretaste of that at this event tomorrow:

Opening Reception, 7.30pm @ 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road

People Like Us’ annual reception is becoming a tradition. Along with finger food and wine, this year the programme for the evening includes: (1) the presentation of the 2009 Dignity Award, (2) the announcement of the winners of the Rascals Prize, (3) the launch of a Coming Out guide by Sayoni, (4) poetry by Koh Jee Leong, as a preview to the much anticipated ContraDiction, Indignation’s premiere writing-and-music event. All are welcome. Come and be emancipated!

Seriously, straight people are welcome too. Just be prepared to get checked out if you're cute.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Orlando pix!!!

A few more photographs from our incredibly consumerist summer family gradu-vacation:

3D ride, Disney's Magical Kingdom.

Lion King musical, Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Ride of Tomorrow, Epcot.

Converted trailer, Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

Munchkinland, Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Spectromagic show, Main Street USA.

Parents before taking roller coaster, Pioneer Land.

Parents after taking roller coaster, Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Asian-style ice cream stand, Disney's Animal Kingdom

"Chinese" dragon, Epcot.

Lobby, African Wilderness Lodge.

Sleeping Beauty wigs, Magic Kingdom.

Breakfast, Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

It's A Small World Ride, Magic Kingdom

German exposition, Epcot.

Haunted Mansion Ride, Magic Kingdom.

Awesome German toys, Epcot.

Euphemistic prostitute restroom, Main Street USA.

Dinner, African Wilderness Lodge.

Before the Parade, Magic Kingdom.

Teacup Ride, Magic Kingdom.

Backdrop, Disney Hollywood Studios.

Toddler bellydance workshop, Epcot

Monday, July 27, 2009

The poetry of Dr Wong Yoon Wah

I discovered this guy's poems in the National Library Singapore writing stacks. He wrote mainly in Mandarin, but one of his volumes, "Beyond Symbols", published 1984 (yeah, that was the clincher), includes original work in English as well as a few translations.

He's often descends into purple prose (check out his absurdly honorific "Fruis of Nanyang") but some of his work's rather good. I'm particularly alarmed at the fact that the eponymous poem sequence, "Beyond the Symbols", is an almost direct precursor of my poem sequence "Translations", published in "last boy" in 2006.

Basically, both of them are textual reinterpretations of the embedded images in Chinese ideograms. The main difference is that he uses ancient jiaguwen whereas I, rebelliously, use simplified jiantizi.

He's born in 1941. That means he's probably still alive out there. Hmmm. Any leads?

from "Beyond the Symbols"

1. Morning

The sun standing on a reed
is drinking wind
and eating dew.
It has vomited out the shadows of night
leaving them hidden under the dry leaves.

2. East

The sun nailed to a sacred tree
is facing the door of mystery
in the spring, summer, autumn and winter.

5. River

The rapid current
with its waves
cut me apart.
My voice is on the right,
While my body is one the left.

The wondering monk on the shore
on hearing my voices
is unable to find me in the river.

13. Man

Are you the man
who is hunch-backed
holding a stone ax in his hand
and crossing the frozen river
in the darkness?

He lives in the darkness of a stone cave.
Sometimes he bursts into laughing,
and stretches his long long arm
to draw out the fire from the heart of rock
like a poisonous snake.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Film director Yasmin Ahmad (1958-2009)

She passed away last night. See here. Yesterday there was already news that she'd collapsed during her press conference from a stroke.

I'd admired her work ever since I watched Sepet. Or maybe before that, when I was doing my internship at Young and Rubicam KL and I found out about her Petronas National Holiday ads. It's Malaysians like her, I thought, that put Singaporeans with all our superficial racial harmony agendas, to shame.

Unfortunately, the only time I met her was at a free screening of Muallaf, which was awkward because I didn't actually like the movie, since it pulled its punches. But of course it was daring enough to actually take on the issue of Islam, and what filmmakers in Singapore have dared to do that? (I know of one, but he was called up for questioning by the ISD and his film was confiscated and he was forbidden to even discuss what happened thereafter.)

She was scheduled to shoot her first film in Singapore next year. It would've been called "Go, Thaddeus!" She'd already proven her worth with two short films advertising the importance of family love.

She quite liked us, although we kept on mispronouncing the titles of her films. We never censored and marginalised her and called her a traitor to her race the way Malaysia did. Of course, if she'd been born in Singapore, she would've been outspoken about the ironies we have here, and we would've destroyed her in our own way just the same.

I'm glad at least that she lived to see the elections of 2008, with the breaking through of a post-racial Malaysian politics. If only I knew there were other film directors like her around.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

If you haven't read Loo Zihan's NTU valedictorian speech...

... well, you should. Click here.

The poster for his short film "Threshold" got censored just before his speech, which makes it a little more than the usual sappy go-forth-and-prosper-fest.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yeah, so I'm feeling productive.

So productive that I decided to add an "Upcoming Appearances" section to my sidebar and completely change my blog template!

Also, advance notification: I'm curating and emceeing this year's ContraDiction V, our annual queer literary reading, on Sunday 30 October at 7pm. It's part of this year's IndigNation Festival, as always. Full calendar here.

And in other news, the Onion lampoon news team has sold itself to the Chinese.

Police Still Searching For Missing Productive, Obedient Woman

China’s Andy Rooney Has Some Funny Opinions About How Great The Chinese Government Is

Oh Onion. You're so delightfully offensive. And too frickin' big for my blogger. What's up with that?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I've got two poems in "Writing Singapore", the first truly comprehensive anthology of English lit in Singapore, launched just tonight.

Unfortunately I neglected to bring a camera, and my mum's absconded with the volume in question, so I can't really advertise it photographically.

Still, it's really interesting! About a quarter devoted to pre-1965 writing, and another quarter to the 1965-1990 period (both of which contain many writers I've never heard of).

Unfortunately, it's expensive: $75 a copy. But maybe you can get a discount somehow. The two poems, by the way, are "Crystal Pear" and "Equidistance", both of which are extremely gay.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blast From the Past: Straits Times, August 30, 1959

Came across this during my research. It'd make a great movie, doncha think?

“A new all-woman gang has made its appearance in the Singapore underworld. Known as the Red Butterfly Gang, it offers protection to prostitutes and bar girls.

Most of the “Red Butterflies” are themselves former prostitutes. They impose their “protection” services for a monthly fee. Those who refuse their services are usually beaten up. Their identification mark is a red butterfly tattooed on the upper part of the thigh.

They operate in the Sungei Road area and, like their male counterparts, they use acid bombs, sticks and knives. The “Red Butterflies” also offer their sercies to housewives whose husbands have gone astray. For a fee they will beat up the woman who enticed the man.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"Destino" by Dali and Disney

Lo and behold, the 6-min short film that Salvador Dali and Walt Disney began in 1945 and didn't get finished till 2003.

It's WICKED. Incidentally, anyone else wanna watch Sumpah Orang Minyak at the National Museum's Night Festival?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I'm at the Marathon!

Weirdly enough, we're part of the NAC team. One of the Literary Arts civil servants read too (not sure if I should state her name).

Alvin's reading now. First he did a bit of his autobiography, now he's doing Wena Poon.

Earlier on we had the guy who wrote "American Gangster".

I'm up in a while. Alvin's warning me he's gonna eat into my time. Pictures in a bit.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Singapore Writers Festival Reading Marathon - I'm on from 3am to 3:30am!

Insomniacs: Do you feel frustrated every time you stay awake beyond the witching hour while the rest of your friends are soundly under the covers?

Clubbers: Don’t you always feel that the night ends too early?

So, on the morning of Sunday 5 July, from 1am to 7am at the Central National Library foyer, do something different, take a break from your routine: support literary arts!

Show your support for this one-of-a-kind Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) pre-festival event. The SWF team and some of Singapore’s more well-known writers will be reading a selection of homegrown works in public. Readers include Felix Cheong (The Call from Crying House), O Thiam Chin (Free Falling Man), Aaron Lee (Five Right Angles), Ng Yi-Sheng (Last Boy), Alvin Pang (City of Rain), Heng Siok Tian (Crossing the Chopsticks) and Jeffrey Lim (The Coffin That Wouldn't Bury).

Coffee, tea and biscuits to keep us awake are welcome, but just stopping by to listen to our readings are fine too!

Organised as part of READ! Singapore 2009 by the NAC.

UPDATE: It's actually happening already! Schoolkids were reading when I went Friday afternoon.

Seeya there!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

texts june 2009

Just finished Gilbert Koh's "Two Baby Hands" last night. Some really really great poems at the beginning, insightful resonant ones throughout, but a worrying number of pieces that end without really accomplishing anything. Still worth reading.

In other news, WHOA! Surfeit of graphic novels.

+Maya Angelou’s “Poems” (reread)
+Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge’s “Nest”
=Gilbert Koh’s “Two Baby Hands”

=Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”
+Yukio Mishima’s “The Decay of the Angel”
+Eva Ibbotson’s “Which Witch?”

+Lauren Slater’s “Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century”
+David A. Price’s “The Pixar Story”
+Maggie Koerth-Baker’s “Be Amazing”

+Milo Manara and Jaradowsky’s “Borgia: Blood For the Pope” and “Borgia: Power and Incest”
+Rob Ryan’s “This Is For You”
+Kehinde Wiley’s “Black Light”
+Miss Lasko-Gross’s “A Mess of Everything”
+Alan Moore’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1910”
=David Mack’s “Kabuki: The Alchemy”

+some weird meta skits at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade
+New York Theatre Workshop’s "Things of Dry Hours"
+Joavien Ng and daniel k’s “Forward Moves”
+The Observatory’s “Invisible Room”
The Suzuki Company of Toga’s “Electra”
+Rotozaza’s “Etiquette”
Spell #7 and Bodies in Flight’s =“Dream/Work” and +“Dream/Home”
+Lin Zhao Hua Theatre Studio’s “The Cherry Orchard”
ECNAD’s “Songs for Gaia”
Arts Fission’s “Bird Call” [I was in it so I can’t really rate it can I?]
+Singapore International Piano Festival's "Young Virtuoso Recital: Yao Xiao Yun and Nicholas Loh"

Museum of the City of New York’s =“Mannhatta/Manhattan”, “Amsterdam/New Amsterdam”, +“Stoops of New York”, =“New York Interiors”, +“New York Toy Stories”, +“Protect” and +“Perform: A History of New York Theater and Broadway”
+The Met’s “Permanent Collection”, “The Model As Muse” and “Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective”
+KYTV’s “Pop Station: Singapore 2009”

+Henry Selick‘s “Coraline”
=Peyton Reed’s “Yes Man”
+Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell”
+Shawn Levy’s ”Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”
Sinema@OldSchool’s “Sinema Showoff”
=Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman’s “Monsters vs Aliens”

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The latest about HERE

aka Tzu Nyen's film, which I keep on blogging about despite not actually having seen it.

After a resounding opening last weekend, HERE continues its run at the Picturehouse this week

To those who have seen the film, thank you and do help to spread the word!

For those who have not yet experienced HERE - don't miss out on Singapore's unique feature film entry to the Directors' Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival 2009, by filmmaker and visual artist Ho Tzu Nyen! Come experience this singular cinematographic adventure!

Screening times (tickets available from Wednesday evening, 1 July)

Thursday 2/7 - 9.30pm
Friday 3/7 - 7pm
Saturday 4/7 - 4.30pm
Sunday 5/7 - 4.30pm
Monday 6/7 - 7.30pm
Tuesday 7/7 - 7.30pm
Wednesday 8/7 - 9.30pm


What reviewers around the world have to say about HERE

"HERE... relentlessly forms, destroys and reforms, a different species among local films"
- Eista Lee, zbNOW (translation)

"one of the most memorable features to have appeared recently on the local movie scene"
- Yong Shu Hoong, my paper

"ranks among the best and most expressive films yet to come out of Singapore"
- Mathias Ortmann,

" a breath of fresh air"
- Tan Heng Hau,

"HERE is unlike any Singapore film we have ever seen"

"there's a method to the madness here"
- Stefan S, A Nutshell Review

"Ho's interplay of camera and sound achieves hypnotic serenity, even, eventually, dreamy melancholy."
- Whang Yee Ling, 8Days

"a deep reflection on cinema and on human nature"
- Bruno Carmelo, Nisimazine.

"A triumph for a first-time director"
- Amanda de Guzman, The Business Times

"a beautiful aesthetic"
- l'Humanité

"a strange sensorial experience"

"a highly sophisticated visual language and inventive montage, the story intrigues, captivates"
- les Fiches du Cinéma

"an entry point into the singular artistic universe of the filmmaker"

"Acquiring a ticket for this film, is accepting to immerse oneself in a cinematographic adventure."
- Tadah! Blog


I. Tickets available at
- The Cathay box office, 2 Handy Road, level 5
- (from 1 July 2009)

2. Discounts:
- 12% discount on tickets purchased at box-office only with UOB Visa card.

3. About the film