Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book launch in Kuala Lumpur tonight!

Will be speaking at Silverfish Books in Kuala Lumpur this evening, 5:30pm, to promote my translation of "The New Village"! Three books to be promoted, in fact:
  1. Robert Yeo’s ROUTESRobert Yeo, a.k.a Yeo Cheng Chuan, (b.1940, Singapore -), is a poet and playwright, novelist and newspaper columnist on the arts, literary and theatre essayist advocating the establishment of a distinctly Singaporean tradition in writing. He was for many years a lecturer in the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University and was a proponent for the greater inclusion of the study of Singaporean texts in the school curriculum. Poet and critic Aaron Lee has described Yeo as being “the most Singaporean of Singaporean writers”.
  2. Dr Wong Yoon Wah’s THE NEW VILLAGE. Wong Yoon Wah (b. 13 August 1941, Perak, Malaysia - ) is one of the few Singaporeans who excel as an international poet, critic and scholar. Prolific in both creative and academic writing, he has published over twenty collections of prose, poetry, and academic writings on Chinese and comparative literature in Chinese or English. For his commitment to promoting literature regionally, he has been awarded the Southeast Asia Write Award (1984), the Cultural Medallion (1986), and the ASEAN Cultural Award (1993).
  3. Wong Phui Nam’s THE HIDDEN PAPYRUS OF HEN_TAUI. Wong Phui Nam's poems are regarded as among the best Malaysian ones in English, unsurpassed in their eloquence and linguistic richness. Most of them are contemplative and draw their images from the local landscape. Wong Phui Nam's poetry explores the experience of living in multi-cultural Malaysia. "Before the British set up this country, Malaysia was a totally agrarian society," he says. "Suddenly we get this commercialism and development of plantations to supply a metropolitan power. Even for a writer in Malay, whether he is a Malay or a non-Malay, he has to reinvent the language. All the more so for Indians and Chinese. For a Chinese, when we write in Chinese, we cannot pretend that nothing has happened and try to write Tang poetry. So for us to write in English, we are exiled three times, culturally and spiritually from China, culturally from the indigenous Malay culture, and then writing in English. We cannot claim that it is a tradition. I would say we have appropriated the language. So, in a way, it is a much more interesting medium to work with, to work with the language against the tradition."
Professor Mohammad Quayum, of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, will moderate the event, which will include discussions with regards to the development of Malaysia/Singapore writings in English. 

Venue: Silverfish Books, 
28-1 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, 
59100 Kuala Lumpur. 
Date: Saturday, 22 September 2012 
Time: 5.30 pm

Admission is free. All welcome, but seats are limited.

(And then on Sunday I'm going for Art For Grabs at the Annexe Gallery. Awesome.)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Perfection of 10, Fri 13 to Sat 15 Sep

I've got a play coming up! Or perhaps it'd be more accurate to say WE've got a play coming up. I was invited to crazy-experimental director Sean Tobin to be part of a team of ten Singaporean playwrights, each creating a segment of a wacky play marking the Esplanade's tenth anniversary!

Perfection of 10
Thu 13 to Sat 15 Sep, 8pm (additional Sat matinee at 3pm)
Esplande Theatre Studio
Tickets at $25 from SISTIC.

10 established Singapore Playwrights were invited to reflect on their experiences as theatre-makers and their notions of perfection. They then set out to capture a perspective of life on earth, in Singapore and in the theatre, through their own 10 minutes of stage time.

10 stage items from the past productions of 10 established local Theatre companies help create a world in which these characters can reside.

The perfect child from the perfect home, the perfect actor on the perfect stage, in front of the perfect audience, and of course the perfect review. Not to forget perfect relationships, the perfect life, and the perfect death. Can all this be captured in the perfect play?

Are these ‘mirrors of nature’ real or imagined? Archetype or stereotype? Is this biography or fakery? Is this existentialism or entertainment? Comedy of Manners or a Problem Play?

As we join in celebrating Esplanade’s 10th Birthday, we also celebrate the trials and accomplishments of Singapore and its stage, through the intercepting thoughts of 10 well-loved local playwrights and 4 actors collectively asking, “Why do we bother?”

Performed in English with some Mandarin, Malay and dialect, with English surtitles. Suitable for patrons aged 16 years and above.

Performed by Ang Hui Bin, Patricia Mok, Rizman Putra, Tan Shou Chen
Written by Desmond Sim, Ng How Wee, Irfan Kasban, Jason Wee, Jean Tay Kaylene Tan, Li
Xie, Verena Tay, Ng Yi-Sheng & Zizi Azah
Directed by Sean Tobin
Dramaturgy by Low Kee Hong
Produced by Michele Lim
Set Design by Wong Chee Wai
Light Design by Adrian Tan
Costume Design Hayden Ng

There will be a post-show discussion with the artists.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Why Pixar Movies Are All Secretly About the Apocalypse

I'm a huge fan of AfterHours, this web video series at Cracked that's intent on over-analysing pop culture until it hurts. This is their latest. Watch it:

Then read the expansion of the premise by contributor VonMonocle:

Watched the video, read the comments, and I think we can put all of this together (GIGANTIC wall of text to follow, so… sorry about that):

Brave sets the whole deal in motion (magic turns people into animals and all that). It’s also set in ancient times, so we’ll have from then until the present day for sentient, intelligent “people creatures” to interbreed with their new parent species and evolve a world where smart animals and insects are the norm (it wouldn’t happen that fast if at all, but hey, magic). Somewhere along the way, magic dies out and becomes relegated to superstition and folklore and people forget about a time when some creatures were just like us. The creatures themselves descend into hiding for the purposes of self-preservation.

Skip ahead to Ratatouille, and we see the animals tentatively poking out of hiding to test the waters, so to speak. The experiment seems to go well in the small, controlled environment of the movie, but it couldn’t be long before the idea of smart creatures ignites mass panic and some sort of cover-up on the part of the humans. The creatures go back into hiding, now a little more resentful of us. It’s also important to note here that while the creatures possess human-level intelligence, this movie establishes that they can’t communicate with us via speech.

Now we get to The Incredibles, as people begin to develop super powers. I’d put this further on, but the whole movie had a retro vibe to it, so it most likely took place before the events of Toy Story. Also, it introduces us to the first conceptual AI, which represents a massive leap in technological development and could then explain the sentient toys later on.

The Toy Story trilogy takes place simultaneously with A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo, in the present day. In the trilogy, we see it well established that the AI programs have come to love humans and want us to be happy, while the creature movies clearly portray humans as apathetic antagonists at best. The battle lines are drawn.

Up could represent the final straw and the spark that would ignite the war. By developing a harness to allow communication with animals (who are already established as intelligent) it could be that the harness has the unintended side effect of essentially lobotomizing the creature, thus the relative stupidity of the dog when compared to, say, Ratatouille. However from the perspective of the humans, it would represent a HUGE step forward, so we would immediately set about harnessing every animal we could in an effort to communicate better. The creatures see this as nothing short of genocide, and they fight back. But as their presence become known, the AI machines rise up to protect us from the onslaught.

The first shots in the Machines vs. Monsters war are fired.

Now, even with the machines on our side, it’s pretty easy to believe that if every species of animal and insect simultaneously rose up against us, they’d wipe us out pretty quick, even with super heroes fighting with us. Hence the creation of the star ship that sends what remains of humanity into space to live happy and carefree lives, while the machines remain behind to deal with the monsters.

In the time it takes the machines to win the war, the monsters have continued to evolve. As they are pushed back further and further, they find a way to open a portal to a different dimension to escape, but not before swearing revenge against the humans somewhere down the road. So they dedicate their entire society in the new dimension to making technology powered by the screams of children in order to attack the humans while also perverting the technology that protected and saved them. They then use the portals to go back in time to before the War and harvest the screams of human children, hence Monsters Inc. The end of that movie could actually be seen as the legitimate end of the war, as the Monsters forget why they seem to hate us so much and focus on using laughter to gain energy instead.

Meanwhile, the machines win the ground war, and the cars emerge as the dominant machine race, ruling the planet until they screw everything up via pollution. This could start a civil war between them and the other machines, the aftermath of which leaves the planet in shambles, and the humans are completely forgotten in space until WALL-E finds them and brings them home.

There. Done.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Draw Something!

I've been wanting to bring up something for a while: I am AWESOME at Draw Something, and I don't have nearly enough people to play with. 

If you play regularly, add me! My username is ng.yisheng, and I *never* spell my word out.

I have more pics in my Tinypic folder.