Cockroach as a delicacy? Not in Singapore. | Reported incidents in the past

Recently reading (and regretting it) about hyacinthus post on 30/03/08 about his bad experience encountering cockroaches in dim sum at Dragon Phoenix Restaurant. The photo was understandbly blurry as he was "shaken & shocked". Not a good sight, but enough to make me wonder about the similar cases in the past:

1. "3cm cockroach-like bug" crawling in the coleslaw at Kenny Rogers Restaurant, Suntec City Mall.
Date of incident: 10/01/07
Reported by: STOMP user Srinivas
How the incident is handled: Badly.
Srinivas' wife ordered a roast chicken pita and because she preferred to eat her pita unwrapped, she did so, and discovered this "3cm cockroach-like bug" crawling in the coleslaw. Horrified, she ran to the nearest toilet to regurgitate everything she had just eaten.

Srinivas informed the manager about the matter and was shocked that his initial reply was not 'sorry' but, "Want a refund?" Srinivas was exasperated as the manager continued to explain that "they had spotted some of these bugs before and they had contacted pest control".

"How could they have known that this was happening and not do anything about it earlier? This is deplorable, especially for a restaurant like Kenny Rogers. I mean you would expect the standard of hygiene to be higher here," said Srinivas.

What angered Srinivas further was that the manager said he could not confirm that there was a bug in the food unless NEA came to take a sample. At this time, almost everyone seated near Srinivas was shocked that there was a bug in the food and were whispering among themselves while watching the conversation. Srinivas pointed out the live and moving bug to the manager once again and wanted him to sign a piece of paper indicating that a bug was indeed found.

The manager wrote the names of the food servers down as well and they appeared reluctant to sign against their names. Then he disappeared "for the longest time to call someone". During his absence, the woman who wrapped the pita, and the food servers came forward to Srinivas and apologized profusely.

The manager returned and signed the paper reluctantly and there was no apology from him at all but he gave his supervisor's number to Srinivas and when Srinivas tried calling the number, there was no answer.

Said Srinivas, "I do not know how many other people are being subject to such unhygienic conditions and food at Kenny Rogers. Should my wife have not been eating the pita unwrapped, she would have eaten the bug! She still has an upset stomach - hopefully, this condition will not last long."

Kenny Rogers spokesperson Sharon Chen gave the following comment:

"We have observed stringent pest control practices through regular inspections at our restaurants to ensure that such incidents would not occur. "
Quoted from: NEA fines Kenny Rogers - HOBBYHYPE forum.

2. A cluster of cockroaches and a centipede in Thai beef kway teow soup at Magic Wok, Novena Square.
Date of incident: 29/01/08
Reported by: STOMP user lets yin
How the incident is handled: Also badly.
Magic Wok has issued an apology to STOMPer lets yin and given her a 10% discount, as compensation for her traumatic dining experience which involved a cluster of cockroaches, and a centipede in her soup.

Magic Wok, a Thai restaurant with a few branches in Singapore, told STOMP on Jan 30:

"We had already apologised profusely to the customers after they discovered the insects around their food.

"We had also offered to replace their food and given them a 10% discount. They accepted our apology and said it was ok!

"So far, there have been no complaints about our hygiene standards, this is the first one."

However, when STOMP asked about the frequency of hygiene checks in their kitchen, they were unable to give a response. They were also unable to comment on any follow-up hygiene procedures they would do.
Quoted from: Magic Wok: Customer given 10% discount for insect-ridden lunch.

3. A cockroach in the meal bought from a canteen in NTU.
Date of incident: 29/01/08
Reported by: STOMP user Lummy1976
How the incident is handled: Even worse. Not even a sorry.
"This is a meal bought from one of the biggest canteen in NTU's economic rice on Jan 29. The meal was just consumed and I found a dead cockroach in it," the STOMPer said in an email this morning (Feb 10).

"I returned the whole plate to the vendor. She was at quick to return the money, thinking that the matter would end.

"It is very sad that a food provider, even those found in school compound, has such a mentality," the STOMPer said.
Quoted from: Cockroach in dish bought at NTU canteen.

In the first 2 cases involving Kenny Rogers Restaurant & Magic Wok, NEA was alerted & the response was immediate. Within 3 days after receiving the feedback, a check was carried out & fine/demerit points were imposed. (About demerit points: "If a licensee accumulates 12 demerit points or more during a 12-month period, the licence will either be suspended for two weeks or four weeks or revoked, depending on his past records".)

Too bad, Lummy1976 did not report his finding to NEA. STOMP too didn't try to contact NTU very likely due to insufficient information. Which canteen, man?!

`Lion City' reveals some `birthmarks' of current local cinema

A tide is approaching. April will see an onslaught of new local voices in cinema being heard. Hence, it seems uncannily concidental and appropriate that the start of this month is marked by the screening of a very special old local film, Lion City. It speaks with a voice that both old and new. Old because it is a 1960 film. But new because it has a special voice and psyche little known to many of us. Until we watched it today. Lion City, a lesson in geography

Before joining the rather academic crowd in the National Museum's theatre, I had the impression that I would be watching a film not too distant from the likes of Mambo Girl, My Sister Hedy and other black and white staples of the 60s. I imagined formulaic touches like the night club brawls, the caberet singer, the tailor, the pipe smoking patriach, the bitchy mother etc. To my gratification, it was not completely enslaved to the fashion of Chinese cinema at that time.
A typical 60s Chinese movie scene, the Cinderellasque out-of-place feeling
Though narratively and dramatically awkward at times, it spoke mostly with a unique and assured voice.

Being the first Singapore-made Chinese film, Lion City is about the story of a young woman from a poor family who works in a clothes factory in Singapore. There she meets the young master of the factory and falls in love in a background of societal and political change. Along the way, she experiences events that remind her of the gulf between herself and the rich boy and the improbability of the relationship. There are also some small side-stories that run parallel to the main thread, serving to provide a richer take on the idea of love amidst changing values in a society.
It was easy to mistake the points of conflicts as cliches at first. The issue of how a poor-girl loving rich-man-son would only end in pain is perhaps all-too-familiar. Then, as you put the story in the context of Singapore in 1960, when it is on the onset of promising change with its being part of the Malayan federation, you start to sit up and appreciate the significance of this film. Just to illustrate a few threads I picked out: Malaysian girl marries Singapore boy, mum is skeptical at the poor-rich marriage but accepts it eventually, husband-wife debate on voting during election.

I could go on and on about the time-specific landmarks and stamps that made this film a `Uniquely Singaporean' curiosity. Like the sarong the Chinese father wore, the infusion of English terms like Taxi into an already `less-than-perfect' Mandarin. (The program says it is Malaysn-Mandarin). And who could forget the singing of a freshly composed`Majulah Singapura' by the little girl.

They would be sitting in The Jewel Box today.
1. Taxi were economic machines 2. Causeway talk 3. HDB corridor romance 4. Ethnic representation
How the view was for residents of Old Airport Road
However, what caught my attention were some birthmarks of what we would associate with the Chinese-dominant, current cinemascape in Singapore. This came as a surprise because of my expectation of it to be a wannabe Chinese/HK-style movie. The quintessential HDB corridor scenes, the heartlander sensibilities of the poor girl's family, pockets of crude Ah Beng behaviour, the rather close shot of the Chinese altar, the school uniform (immediate impact!), references to government and authority.

On a lighter note, there were plenty of very laughable touches and peculiarities that have vanished from local cinema together with Lion City, the film. Like the melodramatic reactions of the female lead, her skipping down the kampung road, her Shakespearan moments when she broke into poetry, the plastic covers on the rich family's sofa!, the oversized globe the teacher was brandishing. Last but not least, the `speak-of-the-devil' homecoming of the Master Xu (rich boy) . Think of all the little sniggers heard throughout the film from the younger members of the audience, this was truly unanimous!

Household Tips : Let the plastic wrapping remain.

Postmortem on Mas Selamat Kastari's escape; Committee of Inquiry Findings by 02/04/08

That's the estimated deadline by which the independent Committee of Inquiry (reported to be set-up on 02/03/08 and chaired by Goh Joon Seng, a retired judge, also the current member of the Council of Presidential Advisers, with former police commissioner and current ambassador-at-large Tee Tua Ba, and Deputy Secretary of Security at the Home Affairs Ministry, Choong May Ling) would have the findings ready of how Mas Selamat Kastari exactly escaped from Whitley Road Detention Centre. Also expected is proposed measures to prevent this from happening again. These all to be made public.

Will the escape due to human error? Or due to inherent problem with the Detention Center itself? Why the Detention Center allows the detainee to wear something else beside the standard attire of a beige T-shirt, brown draw-string pants and black rubber slippers? (Mas Selamat was said wearing a greenish grey baju kurung with long sleeves when he broke out from the custody.)

And most importantly what would the proposals be on how to prevent the escape to happen again? Will detention centers be built underground? Will all detainees be made to wear ankle monitors?

Whatever the findings & the proposals will be, they are definitely going to be very interesting.

noo music update for march: max rouen

one of the great things about my tokyo office is that we share the space with other creatives, one of which is mr. kurasho, an amazing DJ. we have shockingly similar tastes and i always load up on great music for my long flight home and then to enjoy in the studio. i especially love when he turns me on to a band/performer i've never heard of, one of which is max rouen! the current cd is "the magnetic wave of sound" and it's my favorite disk of 2008 so far. here's a paraphrased quote from a review site: "...uses old methods, looping and splicing tapes on reel to reel – creating a sound that he then builds up into rather nice songs that have a less avant garde indie feel about them, an interesting and original take on how to make slanted and enchanted pop songs."

sums it up pretty well. in my words: the album has a lot of interesting pop turns and a laid-back grittiness that defies genre classification while exuding a confidence rarely heard in young artists [not saying that he's young]. check it!

cherry blossoms / sakura season

this is my first trip back to japan where i'm actually here for the sakura trees to be in full bloom [full-bloom is called mankai in japanese, and they report it like a coming storm. mankai in tokyo is predicted to occur this coming sunday, march 30th]. the japanese take cherry blossom season as a time to get drunk anywhere there is a cherry tree and perhaps it is the urine and vomit of the season that contributes to the beautiful display of flora each year...this is called o-hanami!

my meetings have all gone well and am catching up with friends and colleagues. i'm riding my one speed muji bicycle everywhere which is fun and a hedge against all the food i'm eating. staying in okubo is very convenient to my office via bike and it's also tokyo's korea town which creates a weird alice-in-wonderland feeling for me as my NYC office is in korea town as well.

again, visual entry left to right from the top:

row 1
sakura in mid-bloom [gobuzaki?, maybe nanabuzaki], koto from devil robots, cute restaurant signage.
row 2
nooka japan display case [built by elle-chan], workers being paid to hold a spot for hanami, kitai from devilrobots and machan from mad barbarians [yummy food!].
row 3
yu of nooka japan, hotel fraser in okubo [where i'm staying this trip], fraser entrance.
row 4
best parking lot sign ever, elle-chan with sake, ultraman truck.

P.S. Nooka Japan Hanami is this Sunday in Inogashira-Park. Please come if you can make it. I'll be back in NYC the next day!

Not so elegant, Simon...

Responding to this 25/03/08 article, MFA issues statement in support of China on Tibet situation, The China Blog - TIME author, Simon Elegant was apparently shocked & truly disappointed to the extent he committed a not so elegant mistake of flaming Singapore in his blog post, "Brotherly Solidarity" with its derogatory remarks of "scrappy little SINGAPORE" just because the country just issued, quoting from his article, "a completely unqualified statement of support for the Chinese government's position on Tibet".

Bad move, Simon. Or is it a good one? Bad publicity is still a publicity, isn't it? And you surely have raised enough awareness of the issue by your stunning use of "scrappy little SINGAPORE".

Spending a weekend in Camp : Invisible Children

Posted by Clement Chua

I have always known Brian Gothong Tan as an experimental artist.
I first saw his visual installations few years ago and were deeply moved by them. The myriad of colours and the juxtaposition of vivid images crafted a deep impression and left me longing to find out more about this talented artist.
Brian, right in the middle of it all

Fast forward to few years later, I saw the character study of "Invisible Children". Brian also shared with me his ideas and concepts for his first feature film where he took on the dual roles of writer and director.

It was with much anticipation I visited the set on a weekend where the crew were filming in a defunct school. They were very hospitable and one could even sense the camaraderie among them. Everyone was working efficiently and effectively.The very clever use of props like files, posters etcetra and set design turned the entire place from a dilapidated building into a military camp.

1. Careful don't fart, these mikes are everywhere! 2. Army is a waiting game 3. `Sir! Sir!' 4. Leon's beautiful sleep 5. Brian 6. Chuan Yang modelling the latest military tops

I especially liked how Brian directed the entire set. It was film-making at its basics. There were no fanciful camera angles or elaborate art direction which we often take for granted in many arthouse films yet the shots did not look dull nor out of place. Instead, what was present was an emphasis on performance and story telling. Brian's collected and composed nature coupled with the expertise of his meticulous producer, Gary had a very calming and therapeutic effect on everyone on the set. There were no tempers nor heated arguments but only quick and creative solutions to every challenge that came along.

1. Stand wait. 2. Leon : `Confine! Why you want to confine me?' 3. Itchy feet!

The actors were also rather convincing and portrayed their roles well. The arrogant and overbearing army officer versus the helpless private was played out so well, one could even be mistaken that it was an army training session in progress. It was indeed a very pleasant experience on the set. I shall let the pictures do the talking for now.

Private Lim enjoying the bedsheets from Goodwood Park Hotel

`Hello, so I repeat, one Fish-o-fillet and large fries.'
`Ok, don't laugh, I am attaching something to your chest.'

tokyo in march

i'm in tokyo to review and file year end taxes for nooka japan, my office here. i came a few days early to adjust to the time zone so i won't be a zombie when i have meetings. i also used the time to finally get myself to the MOT, the tokyo museum of contemporary art [Museum Of Tokyo = MOT] as it is a bit of a pain to get to. the permanent collection is quite good, but their 2008 annual show of new art was disappointing for the most part. also, i'm always shocked with how humid the conditions are in japanese museums – not good for the art or the viewers comfort.

i decided to upload a visual diary for the past 2 days. the dog is the nooka tokyo office mascot and his name is nikko. the wonderful blue gate is a piece by artist Suh Do-ho called "Reflection". the little paintings are from a cute show at the tiny but wonderful fewmany shop/gallery in shinjuku of work from my friends at devilrobots. the new tange tower is almost complete...not sure how i feel about it [it's a bit overdesigned].

`The Moment' in Question (& Answer)

J. D. Chua - in his office?

JD Chua first surprised me on my set (`Moving In') last year when he spoke to a few Thai natives in Thai. I discovered later that he was Thai by descent. Hence, the scale of his short film (or `short feature' as he calls it) `The Moment' , with scenes located in Thailand, became less of a surprise to me. Catching up with him over msn, I managed to understand the vision and passion of a filmmaker who truly values the people he works with.
1. Chris Yeo the ominous producer 2. Chua: There will be an explosion 3. Fishy Crimes 4. Chua looking more like the scribe in this 5. DOP doing the boogie with the lighting pole 6. More fishy business
Jeremy: How many short films hv you done b4?
Chua: I have done 4.
Jeremy: So what kind of genres styles you like?
Chua: Hands down, Crime. Be it comedy, horror, action, I love crime in them.
Jeremy: Cool. (pause) What inspired you to do this or is it something you wrote some time ago and always wanted to shoot?
Chua: I was back home in Thailand about a decade ago and I chanced upon stories of how crime affected children. I decided to be nosey and did some research.
Jeremy: Interesting!
Chua: This one stuck with me. A pair of boys witnessing their father's death.
Jeremy: Thats' very drama
Chua: So in my first year in FSV, I penned it. It was ficiton and I added my own dramatic effects. And the funny thing is people told me that it can't be true.
1. Reconciliation 2. Storyboard Sequence 3. More of the same 4. On-the-spot storyboard 5. Me peeping over the artist 6. See photo below (end of blog entry)
Jeremy: I know it can be true , Singaporeans are too sheltered. (Ponders for a moment) Didn't you think it would be so ambitious to do something like that? Esp since it is just a short film?
Chua: Why must short films be small? I strongly feel that for a short film, you're telling a story, no matter what the size is. It just so happens that for this one, it's rather huge. About 12 cast members and 8 locations.
Jeremy: I personally believe we all choose our audiences.
Chua: I agree.
Jeremy: Not all film fest or events will accept our short films.
Chua: Yep.
Jeremy: Sounds like your short is going to be long (is it?)
Chua: Half an hour(I hope) :)
Jeremy: What kind of screening market/types are you targetting?
Chua: Chris and I are looking for commerical festivals. A few festivals have picked it up based on screenplay but it's all verbal, so we won't name any. My films are not for the arty crowd.
Jeremy: Okay. Well, no need to feel any loss, like I said we choose our audience.
Chua: I hope fans of Johnnie To, Michael Mann, Paul Greengrass will like it. I made it as a fan for the fans. With a dash of Joe Carnahan.
Jeremy: Finally, any interesting/cosmic/uncanny/funny things happened in production? Can share?

1. Waiting for set-up 2. Dressing to kill 3. Daddy plays his role off screen 4. Wa! Who is this you shot? 5. Still waiting
Chua: Wah lau! Tons man! You should have coffee with Chris and I and we can tell you epic behind the scenes stories that can only be finished if told in trilogies!
Jeremy: Haha.
Chua: As I try to be a different kind of a producer, I strongly feel that film making is about the process, not the product. Filmmaking brings Love, Life and Friendship.

This girl (right) looks years ahead of her age, and leaves no room for us to guess how she will look when she is mature.
The crew have become strong friends. Better bonds than army. And the cast and I still hang out. All those never happened without making films.

Home Run!

NUS: "Just apply" (application fee only costs you $10 anyway)

Reading the article 'Weak' poly student snubbed at NUS open house makes me wonder whether local universities gain easy additional earning just through those application fees from those unsuccessful applicants. The lecturer/professor from the Life Science Department was allegedly quoted in the article to told the 'weak' poly student that they "take in about 50 students, with more than 200-300 students applying..."

One day later, I came across another article Just apply featuring mostly about Mr. R. Rajaram, the director of admissions for the National University of Singapore (NUS) who advised parents who are unsure about the entry requirements for university admissions for their children to "apply anyway".

(A coincidence it may be, but I like to see how one news might have been related to another.)

I must say I agree with the director. It costs only $10. By the way, it's $20 if you're an international applicant. (More about the entry requirements for NUS are actually clearly mentioned in their website here. No, I am not promoting NUS; it just irks me to see some of us do not really bother to spare some time to look for the information.)

So with only $10 & assuming there are 150-250 rejected applicants--and that figure is just for one faculty--NUS could have reaped $1,500 to $2,500. Could have been more if we are to put into consideration the international applicants.

Easy money, some of you may snigger. But somehow I won't totally agree with that. I prefer to think that $10 is worth paying to give your children a chance to get a seat in the local universities.

Top 3 on 21/03/08 -- Thnks fr th Mmrs,!

(That is to quote from the song by an American band Fall Out Boy, titled "Thnks fr th Mmrs", in short for Thanks for the Memories.)

My post, "You can google 'rednano', but you can't rednano 'google'?" managed to be ponged to the top 10 of "most popular in the last 24 hours" in In fact, top 3, before the clock strikes to the 24th hour & throws my post to oblivion. Still I'm quite happy I happen to be around during its last minute. "23 hours 59 minutes ago". Chuckles. If it's observed by others, I would have said I have a stalker or two. Apparently I am my own stalker. If that's possible.

Screenshot from Ping.Sg 21/03/08

But really. That post is nothing. Consisted of mostly 4 screenshots of what google can do & what rednano cannot do. And a little Anonymousque quote in the beginning of the article, which one can easily deduce as self-fabricated.

Now it's possible that others, upon reading this post, would start to regret that they pong-ed my post. Pingsters, I have my eyes on you...

Screenshot with the 23 pingsters

...nah, just kidding. =)

PS. I am never into rock songs, but the hilarious YouTube clip, "Thnks fr th Mmrs" might have played a big part to convert me.

Fall Out Boy: Thnks fr th Mmrs

Amazing Nintendo Facts

You've got to see the YouTube clip from ZackScott: "Amazing Nintendo Facts". *grin* By the way, kinda miss the old console or the one which officially is known as Nintendo Entertainment System. =)

Oh, wait...Now you can rednano 'google'!!

In the previous post, WishBone commented that is "supposed to be searching for local context", which was rightly dismissed by Farinelli because "there's always".

So I decided to check whether could locate ''. As shown below, it can't. (If you wonder whether google can search '', it can).

But, but...before you start condemning, I notice too that now it can rightly search & pinpoint the keyword, 'google':

So was I mistaken yesterday? Not really. The screenshots of the previous article should be quite an evidence. However, perhaps, more time (and acceptance or willingness to try...whatever) should be given to before this search engine can really work to netizens' satisfaction. After all, it's still a beta version.

You can google 'rednano', but you can't rednano 'google'?

"A good search engine should be able to search & identify another search engine." (Anonymous, yeah right). Quite surprisingly, the recently launched fails to locate 'google' homepage rightly. Screenshots as follows:

1.Google the keyword, 'rednano'

2.The Google result page managed to locate 'rednano'

3. But try to rednano the keyword, 'google'...

4. You can't see rednano's correct result for 'Google'.

Guess who came to market...

The Straits Times
March 20, 2008

IT WAS not the usual request of visiting VIPs. But Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej asked to see the Tiong Bahru wet market and dropped in yesterday morning.

Here on an official visit, he is an accomplished chef and used to host a popular TV cooking show. And he clearly knew his stuff.

'Oh yes, this one, it is also the most expensive fish in Thailand,' he said, pointing to the giant ikan kurau, or threadfin.

He spent an hour touring the market and chatting with stallholders, accompanied by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say and National Environment Agency chief executive Lee Yuen Hee.

Fruitseller Yao Caiping, 38, said he gave her some tips on storing mangoes. 'He is very friendly, not as serious as we see him on TV,' she said.

the nooka nookanooka pre-launch blog buzz

i have always been a big fan of character design. i remember my favorite cereals as a kid were always the ones with well developed characters [NOT tony the tiger, he had no depth and frosted flakes tastes like crap]. the best example is 'the freakies' cereal from the 1970s. i collected all the magnets and toys and even made my own stuffed animals of the characters with felt and barley for home economics class [remember when boys had to take home-ec and girls took shop?] – ahhh, the "free to be you and me" era! unfortunately, not one of the freakies cereal toys remains in my collection and i'm kinda over the whole ebay thing...

i am also an armchair biologist. i devour research papers on evolutionary biology, comparative morphology, and try really hard to understand theoretical physics. many of these themes come together in my artwork with my fairy labor union project and to a lesser extent with the nooka time pieces. it's all about wonderful synergies!

the fairy labor union project is quite conceptual and hasn't really found it's stride yet [which is not to say i'm giving up on it], but i've put the same skill sets together to develop the mascot for nooka. hopefully this will broaden press coverage even deeper for design, sneaker, and urban pop culture magazines as well as bring joy to everyone [maybe usher in a new era of corporate mascots which i'll be hired to design?].

the nookanooka™ will first be available as a vinyl figure as a display for nooka watches in a few select markets and shops and then for sale to the general public.

here is the story:
there is a realm we can not see, can not hear, can not taste nor smell, yet from this realm comes everything perceived as real. within this higher dimensional place lives beings who call themselves what can only be transliterated as: nooka. Their physiology is transient, eternal in their world, ephemeral yet immortal in ours – beyond imagination yet real enough to feel. time is to them as carbohydrates are to us, and from this they poo carrots and kittens [or anything else you can request]. they pee gravity and what is the equivalent of light to them is dark matter in our universe.

all that aside, the similarities in names drew the nookas to nooka inc. and a trans-dimensional relationship was forged!

now the official mascot of nooka inc., the nookanooka™ can spread the cheer of wonder-through-design [wtd™] to the 4 corners of the earth.

so go on, take the nookanooka shopping, to your auntie's summer cottage, to paris france, or to work on “bring-your-extra-dimensional-being-to-work-day”. you can also use the nookanooka as a handy stand for your collection of nookas!

nookanooka design team:
matthew waldman
yumi asai
alexander yoo
karl-johan hjerling [1.0]
carl nordenskjöld [2.0]

ALSO: i'm looking to find digital animators who can work for nookas [or our low budgets] or even as an intern to develop animations for the nookanooka story.

The Reason

Early this morning, the current Thai prime minister, Mr Samak Sundaravej, dropped in for a visit.

I wasn't there when it happened.

Anyway, this signage made it crystal clear why there were so much "touch-up" painting activities going on for the last whole week.

And I thought it was some routine maintenance.

So if you want to experience how Tiong Bahru Market was like when it 1st opened about a year and a half ago, today would be a good day.

And when you visit the market, please take care of the place as we do not want to depend on such VIP visits to look fresh and clean.

Mr Samak Sundaravej's trip to Singapore was not just about official business. The Thai leader had requested a taste of Singapore's food culture, and got that when he toured the Tiong Bahru market. And he proved to be quite a food-lover too! Mr Samak said, "My favourite (dish) is fried rice, we call it 'fried rice, governor style'. But now I am not the governor anymore, I call it 'fried rice, ex-governor style!'"

excerpt from ChannelNewsAsia, 19th March 2008

Trishaw Man

I was pleasantly surprised during my "early" morning stroll today.

As I stepped off the escalators within the Tiong Bahru Market, happily sipping my coffee, I spotted this trishaw man resting in his “sar leng chia”. (It means a 3-wheeled vehicle in Hokkien).

He is resting in the exact spot where many of his “KAKIS” (Buddies) used to hang out.

In the distant past (in the 1970s), a dozen of them could be found here in the mornings and many uncles and aunties would use them to get around. Some of my classmates even travelled to school in them.

My grandma, on days when she needed to get to Neil Road to visit her relatives, would bring my brother and me to board a trishaw at the exact spot where this guy is sitting. (She only rides the trishaw when she won money in the “Chap Ji Kee”, otherwise, it would be leg power.)

I could still remember the trishaw man pedalling tirelessly through the “SI PAI POR” compound to get us to Neil Road.

Now that I am much heavier, I don’t think this guy would be interested to help me ride down memory lane today. So I just took some pictures (secretly) and carried on with my stroll.

Doing some online research on Trishaws in Singapore (History of Trishaw), I found out that Trishaw became popular back then because petrol was not readily available.

With the petrol prices hitting the roof, maybe, we will see more of these “uncles” around.

An Artist at An Auction

The Mutual Gallery recently organized an auction of art by contemporary and/or emerging artists. This was a bold move by Gilou Bauer, the gallery's curator, as auctions in Jamaica have mainly been a haven for collectors of established artists. The auctioneer, William Tavares-Finson said it was his first auction for younger artists in his orientation talk. I suppose the art market in Jamaica, like several other places, needs stability and surety as works while being enjoyable also seem to be viewed as investments. The curator, auctioneer and artists involved where not certain the outcome and one of the concerns that arose was whether artists would be in attendance. As generally auctions proved to be unnerving experiences. Even highly saleable artists such as Damien Hirst stay away from auctions of their work. In the sale of his recent participation in the RED auction of contemporary art, he spoke of worrying whether it would at least make the 20 million dollar mark. While in Jamaica, we are far off from worrying about sums as large as this I was interested to find out how one artist who attended the auction handled it. The artist I have asked to speak about her experience is Stacy-Ann Hyde, a past winner of the JCDC Studio Prize Award. Her report follows:

"This was the first auction of any kind that I was attending so I was pretty anxious. The fact that I had work in the auction was very exciting but also made me a little nervous as I was not sure what to expect.

I saw work after work going up and coming down. Some works were not bid on at all, while some stayed on bid for quite a while. As they got closer to my works, I became a little tense as I did not consider my works as typical.

Unfortunately I had another engagement that same evening (pantomime) and I was already running behind. I had to leave before they got to my works however my bf was there and he stayed behind to give me the low down.

No one bid on my work...aaawww. I guess it was better for me not to have been there as I felt quite disappointed. My bf tried to reassure me that persons expressed interest even though no one bid. It was hard to stay in good spirit.

Some of the works which were bid on were by well known and not so well known artist, some of who were also at the auction. I enjoyed the experience I must say and didn't feel too bad after awhile. One of my works was bought after the auction

All in all I had a great experience and as this auction was the first of its kind at Mutual Gallery, I was glad to share in the experience and look forward to doing it again.

The auction process I think is great for artist as it gives us a "feel" of what investors are looking for, what we can push and what we should reconsider (if any at all). I would definitely subject myself to this process again."

On a closing note, this auction of contemporary art has come to function in a perhaps unintended or intended way. Persons attending the auction seemed to have come to the auction to see a display of available work and their reserve prices. Being shrewd Jamaican collectors the majority chose not to bid but came after the auction to purchase the work at the reserve price thus securing fixed prices at the low-level. As a new phenomenon within the arts scene I am interested to see what changes this will lead to. Will artists respond in turn and raise their reserve prices, will this become an annual contemporary art market setting values for the rest of the year or will it lead to the flourishing of the currently rare-breed, the contemporary art collector.

4th Singapore Short Film Festival delivers unapologetic film language

Vel Ng (who plays the teacher in`Kichiro') witnesses an outrage in class and loses her compsure to utter THE PHRASE OF THE NIGHT. Guffaws throughout. Only people who had the chance to watch Kelvin's `Kichiro' would know what I am talking about.

It is hard to put a finger to the offerings at the 4th Singapore Short Film Festival. While, it is not exhaustive in its search for the world's best short films (who can be except for a few high budget short film festivals in the world), its slant is moderately apparent - think `Kichiro'.

Kuo Pao Kun, the founder of the Substation left behind a fondly remembered statement : `A worthy failure is better than a mediocre success'. Faithful to this motto, this Substation festival gives life to a crop of edgy, oddball and `devil-may-care`' films that show you teachers can behave like Vel Ng(above). Many films push the boundaries and ask why not? instead of pandering to the audience's `why this why thats'. Unfortunately, I only managed to attend the first 2 days. So here are some scoops and views of what I saw (local films only).
`Londres - London', `Kichiro', `My Keys', `Flicker', `Stick boy' and `Popped Collar'

I love journalist-speak. Especially those who write regular columns and muse about the physics and chemistry in simple things that we experience in daily life. Eva Tang was a Lian He Zao Bao journalist before she decided to pursue further studies in filmmaking in London. She will be remembered for her opening statement about why she likes to make short films.
Like a direct translation from a piece of wisdom originally penned in Mandarin, it reads:
`I make short films becasue life is short (audience momentarily stunned by that comment). Our joys are short and so are our sorrows. Making short films, your rejections are also shortened when you get them.'

`Popped Collar' by Rob Skinner

Sorry about the low light intensity of the screen shots here. Popped collar was in fact a bright mockumentary that turned the keys towards the end of the evening. It adopts a simple straight forward anecdotal structure that follows how a man deals with his `Popped Collar' syndrome - a addiction to turning the collar up on polo T-shirts and other shirts.

While the tone and premise of it was a pleasant surprise, there was certainly room for more diversions and subversions. Not that it was not funny, but it was essentially a one-joke film that followed a familiar mockumentary formula (seen in a couple of mockumentaries - syndrome, diagnosis, interviews, interviews with experts, updates, interviews with kins and loved ones, you get the idea). Mockumentaries are rare in Singapore. It takes one who can laugh at himself to be able to do one, which not many Singaporeans can. I hope Rob will do another one and perhaps as locals, we could recommend him more thorny topics!!! He he!

`Flicker' by Aroozoo Wesley Leon

Personal pieces are like double-edged swords. They can draw you in but they can shut you out easily as well, like this music video cum narration piece by Aroozoo. Many compelling and heart-wrenching events happened in his experience in which his eagerness to share is unquestionable. How the lack of money for his medicine can lead to a manic loss of control and eventually the commiting of robbery is poignant. He's got a story to tell.

However, it was let down mainly by rather low production values. For a start, it was too dark throughout the video. And many things lacked a back story to cushion the amount of drama that happened. Perhaps, it remains only as a fragment of his memory(as intended by him), like the momentary flickers of the traffic lights that opened and wrapped the film.

ODEX stricken back?

Who hasn't heard about Odex's actions against file-sharing? Heck, there's even a Wikipedia article specially dedicated about it. Oh, and an interesting YouTube parody clip, titled "XEDO Holocaust".

And now there's a blog "The Odex’ed — Time For Justice". In the What Are We? section of the site, it mentions (partially quoted):
This is an unofficial blog front for the effort in pursuing legal action against Odex.

We set up this blog for the purpose of updating the various news and events concerning the Odex saga. Since August 2007, the news has spread globally, and with the written statement been made by Justice Woo Bih Li of the Supreme Court (Singapore), we have now decided to act upon the injustices that Odex has done onto people being made to pay up for “settlement fees” that are groundless in nature.

We welcome support on all sides, to push the agenda of reclaiming the money being paid to Odex: legal advice, financial and even moral support, etc.

The website possibly was launched on 14/03/08 from What Are We? link & its first post Roll Call of the Odex’ed — The Time to Act Is Now.

The screenshoot of What Are We? link

As per today, in addition to that 1st post, the blog has altogether 3 posts: Things that We Will Gonna Do (posted on 14/03/08) & For Those Who Had Been Served “The Letter” (posted on 15/03/08).

Whether they'll succeed in their quest, we'll just have to wait & see. Perhaps they may want to seek the assistance of the lady who won the battle against Nokia. (By the way she has set-up an online forum, "Lousy Experience")

`Stick Boy' by Putnam Trumbull

A sticks nudges itself out of a slimy condom. `Stick Boy' begins with this rather metaphorical prelude. Then, a boy wonders about in a suburban neighbourhood looking for something. We are not quite sure what but at his age, probably something to play with. Wielding his stick, he eyes a girl who seems to be playing hide and seek with someone else. Creeping up behind her, he pokes her a few times with his stick. She simply brushes him off. And then, he finds some other way to deal the rejection, in fact, to get back at her.

If it was just child’s play, I would say it was a well-shot, nicely framed (see picture above), stroll-in-the-park little episode of our childhood memories. If the stick and poking meant more, then it must Putnam's mischievous child in him speaking to you.

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