I wish there's a "poof" button for Asiaone.com | Celeb pics may be too bold, but the article too timid

Came across this flashy Asiaone.com news header, "Were celeb wedding pics too bold?" (screenshoot above, showing both topless Melody Chen & Randall Tan--who's cupping her wife's breasts as if trying to protect her modesty) but when I clicked the link, it led to an article, "From near death to new life", which content said nothing about the wedding pics too bold.

I felt cheated. Where's the poof button for "inaccurate title" like in Ping.sg? Heh. Oh well, I guess this type of misleading caption is not just a bloggers' problem.

busta rhymes + linkin park video drops

the busta rhymes + linkin park [mike shinoda] video is edited and hitting the airwaves! busta rhymes, mike shinoda, nooka! check it out!

ghostly swim, nooka and the sounds of nooismo

our friends at ghostly records have launched a mini-site in conjunction with the cartoon network's adult swim! there's a free downloadable album of their artists with tracks from matthew dear, deastro, michna, tycho, school of seven bells AND more! their line-up is the sound of nooismo™.

also, they are selling some nooka zubs on their site for the launch of their new animated series: BoyCatBird.

ghostly swim is here

the ghostly store here.

Getting Wet in 48 hours - The 48 Hour Film Project

Last weekend, some people were up to a different kind of `fly-by-nite' production. It was the 48 Hour Film Project - a competition touring the world that gives pple 48 hours to make a film based on a few rules. The defining difference between this and our locally born `fly-by-nite' had to be the themes and style dictated to each team. Like if or not, you may have to stage a musical or a Western! Sounds fun, dosen't it!? More will be written on this very soon! Meanwhile, take a look at these wacky team names.
Check out http://www.48hourfilm.com/

Wallpaper quotes me [am i famous yet?]

i've been a bit disappointed that nooka had not been in wallpaper magazine as they are perfectly matched aesthetically, so i was excited when my press peeps arranged an interview with them a few months back. it was phone interview, which is always difficult for me [and i was dog sitting, the doorbell rang, the dog was barking – not at my best]. i was looking forward to finally being in the mag and waited for the article to come out – and it did this month in their may issue! no images of my watches but they did use a quote from me in the text. i'm told it's very cool and hope others think so too.

special thanks to matt and joe at rawinformation and josh sims of wallpaper!

graduate show season

it is that time of year when the design schools all host the senior thesis shows of their respective departments. the first one i attended was for the IDC program of Parsons [where i taught one semester a few years back]. IDC= intergrated design curriculum and the students may attend classes from any of the disciplines Parsons offers – basically build-your-own-major. the group is small, but i was very impressed with the overall quality of both the work and execution.

highlights from the foto, right to left from the top:
henshin fashion project by masaaki sato. the male model in his look-book is wearing a nooka!
supra functional by caroline pham, impractical objects for a gluttonous society.
jeremy goodwin's furniture to create more social spaces,
polina ulendeeva's wonderful educational toy that teaches children about the major organs in the body [no web site yet]!
ariel mai newlands's immigration game for the NYC tenement museum. her site here.

check out the show while it's up at 66 fifth avenue in new york city!

Alexandra Brick Wall

Spotted this UNCOVERED wall of Alexandra bricks in the Tiong Bahru Estate on Saturday.

Heritage Revealed

The owner was grumbling that it cost him a lot more money and time to hack away the plaster.

It would have been cheaper to just put in some new bricks.

He ended off the conversation by saying that it was a labour of love.

I’m glad this owner took the time to uncover this home’s heritage.

If he had replaced the bricks, the wall wouldn’t be called the Alexandra Brick wall anymore.

Alexandra Brick Wall exposed!!!!

It could have become the Jurong Brick wall instead. Haha.

Saw this brick beneath a washing machine. It was used to raise the washing machine up so that the base will not get wet when the owner washed the kitchen floors.

Cloud Spotting at Tiong Bahru

I was conducting an open house for one of the unit I’m marketing this afternoon. After the crowd thinned out, I found some time to read the newspapers.

As there were no furniture in this flat, I had to find the best place to sit down.
The view I had when I was seated on the floor of the balcony

And the place I sat was at the floor of the balcony. It was very breezy and bright day and my portable radio was humming away in the background.

My Open House Kit

Periodically there was a gush of wind and it messed up the papers.

At some point, I looked up and noticed the big blue sky....and there were hardly any buildings to interrupt the view.

I was tempted to lie down on the floor to check out if the view was indeed that fabulous.

Eventually I did and while I was at it, I was thinking’ “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just laze around here in a comfortable couch and enjoy a book and occasionally peeping out to see if there are any interesting cloud formation to spot”.

The next owner of this flat will be able indulge in this simple pleasure at will.

My stolen pleasure did not last too long coz my wife called to remind me to go straight home after the viewing as she needed me to mop the floors. Sigh.

Up for grabs!!! (TAKEN - SORRY)

One of the brand new Tiong Bahru Pre-War flat owner just gotten her keys to her place and she does not intend to keep these 1936s windows and DOOR!!!!!

As most of these doors are located in the balcony area, one would not be able to spot them at the street level. If you think the windows are rare, these doors are even rarer.

These relic may require some work to restore them to the former glory. The handles seemed broken too.

Too bad the green panes were replaced. Otherwise, it would have been a complete set.

The other things the owners will not keep is this:

I think there is only so much one would do when it comes to living in a conserved flat. The occupants needed to make it functional. The chimney system does get in the way as it has been placed in a rather awkward position in the kitchen.

Still Nothing Quite as Interesting as Horses Sighted at Junction 8 Shopping Center

Either that as a title or "Junction 8 Shopping Center: It's more exciting with horses", a rip off from Singapore Turf Club. The two horses (photos below for no.8 "ClothesHORSE" & no.9 "MediaCorp TV Horse") are a tribute to this year Singapore International Racing Festival from 13/04 to 18/05.

A Letter to Eng Yee Peng, Director of Diminishing Memories II

Dear Yee Peng,

Every good film festival allows you to take home something that you can't get at other film festivals. The Singapore International Festival has never meant much to me. I never had luck. Or timing. They say they want only world premieres, so I could not submit my work. So often, SIFF is a lonely affair for me, creeping into cinemas alone, not really feeling part of this spirit. This year's decision to give these 12-13 Singapore feature films a viewing platform made a big difference. To get to the most importnat point, it gave me a chance to watch your film and attend your Q & A. The experience on that Saturday afternoon gave me that something to take home from SIFF this year.

I know nothing about kampungs or farming. I grew up in a HDB flat straightaway. And the topic is not interesting to me. So I came to watch DM2 with little expectation but with a hope that the documentary would not be too long.

Your choice of a personal style, and I dare say angry style, made a lot of difference right from the start. The fact that you aimed straight at the points that were directly relevant to you made it very watchable indeed. This includes pin-pointing that the danger sign was the former location of your kampung. Like having a good tour guide, I knew I was in good hands and followed you from one issue to another. You were even funny, like how you never managed to pull out the Chye Sim without its muddy roots while the expert next to you nailed every attempt.
As the documentary progressed, that persistent, skeptical and somewhat adamant voice in you surfaced slowly. It defined the flavour of your documentary but on the other hand, made it all the questions you were asking seem rhetorical because you already took a stand right from the start towards the current and imminent changes seeping into the area. I somehow recalled vaguely how DM1 was a much-talked about documentary and suspected your very unique voice in it was the reason so. And as you probed further into the wisdom of these new agri-tainment developments and lament the the real kampung flavour that was diminshing, I felt like something of a collision was going to take place.
And the turning point came when you interviewed a middle-aged lady whom I learnt moments later was your mother. Her message was simple - to `move on'. Thereafter, you finally questioned the flaw in your initial argument and came to a resolution about leaving the redevelopment matter to rest. And to reinforce the conclusion, you captured another defining image of Lim Chu Kang - the cemeteries. This struck an immediate chord in me because I remember the depressing Sunday night bus journeys across these cemeteries back to the Sungei Gedong army camp.

Thinking back, if you were so level-headed about the whole agri-tainment issue, maybe the voice of the documentary would have been more of a whimper. It was truly nothing less than a shout, a scream from you. Maybe stylistically, it could have been more restrained, eloquent and less preachy. But you showed me something that I would keep for a long time. Mission.

The sense of mission did not end with your film, it had only begun for the following Q & A was about to make me helplessly emotional. At first glance, you look like the quiet sort. But your spirit is more than palpable. The best word I can think of is unabashed. Many filmmakers work hard but are sometimes too afraid to wear that badge of mission and drive on their sleeves. They don't want to seen as trying too hard. Because if they fail, maybe less people will take notice. I can't help but feel this is a very Singaporean trait, not just in filmmaking. I succumbed to it somehow along the way. But seeing how you pursue your goal, I am going to change that and find back the `devil-may-care' in me.

Honestly, the portion of your mother's interview in the film felt a little incomplete. Like I was missing the bigger picture and you just took out some hard-hitting points and included them in the film. I mean, it still had its effect but it was a fraction of the resonance that I felt from the `live' sharing by your mother later on. She said she was concerned that you only came out of the room to eat the fruits cut by her. She remembered how much you sacrificed and lost weight for your craft. She said she did not agree with your choice of career at first. Finally, she cited that the family is not rich and that she could not support your films like other parents and all she could do was offer little manual tokens of help here and there.

Money is not a dirty word. It is something I would often think about. My parents often talk in circles about things that link back to money. It is a very pertinent issue that ties in so many emotions in it our context. My parents would never think of giving me money to make films. More importantly, I will never ask them to do so. Despite loving films and making them, I can't help but feel like it's against my conscience to ask them. What I heard that Saturday afternoon will make me remember that someone who also had no recourse to deep pockets and warm familial support had gone on to make 2 very strong feature-length films. By the end of the Q & A, my cheeks were soaked in tears and I walked out of it already knowing what my concluding thoughts for this year's SIFF would be. This is bearing in mind, I still had 2 very good films to watch - `Flower in the Pocket' and `18 Grams of Love'.

I want to thank you for making it special for me. I assure you none of this is dramatised for sensationalising my write-up. I wish you all the success in your future projects.

Yours sincerely


If your watched DMII , please leave comments in Yee Peng's website ( http://diminishingmemories.spaces.live.com/ ). She is very eager to know more about what people think.

Tiong Bahru Post War Flats

The Straits Times
April 26, 2008

Industrial's strength

The beauty of this apartment's raw look is found in the exposed wiring and unfinished walls. CALL it a case of more of the same.

STARK APPEAL: The living room is lit using 3D energy-saving bulbs, which are divided into groups of five to ensure greater lighting control. It is separated from the kitchen by a mosaic-tiled bar counter. The raw look is balanced with a homely touch from items such as slippers and a birdcage from Egg3, and cushions from Pluck. PHOTOS: DARREN CHANG; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN; TEXT: REBECKKA WONG

When media professional Fenfei moved from her first home, a private apartment in Tiong Bahru, to her second, her new place was just a stone's throw away.

'We are used to the area,' she says of the pre-war three-room HDB flat she and her husband bought.

At 947 sq ft, it is smaller than their previous 1,300 sq ft apartment and, therefore, easier for the couple to finance it - the reason for their move.

It is, however, no less a platform for the couple's favoured theme. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, this new place not only retains the similar raw look of their first home, but it has also improved on the couple's earlier renovation decisions.

A REEL INSPIRATION: The custom-made iron grille divider replicates a pattern from a movie the home owner once saw. The design is also repeated on the grille at the flat's main entrance. Folding doors close up space for privacy when needed.

Instead of using one of the bedrooms as a storeroom, which was what they did at their first home, the couple combined it with the living space to make the living room bigger.

SAME TILE STORY: The new, bigger bathroom is the result of combining the original two back-to-back bathrooms, and it features the same mosiac tiles used for the bar counter in the living room.

Ms Fenfei adds: 'Before, we had things that weren't practical, such as white mosaic floors that were difficult to maintain. Now, our entire living space is covered with dark homogenous tiles, which are a breeze to upkeep.'

It also helped that the couple got the same interior designer, Kelvin Giam of Intent, who did their first home. He not only enhanced the original raw, industrial theme, but also came up with new ideas, one of which involved a support beam in the dining area.

He says: 'If we followed the line of the beam, the living space would be pretty small, so I used it as a support for the dining table instead.'

He also drew on the surrounds and architecture of Tiong Bahru, an area rich with heritage, for the home.

As a result, exposed wiring and bulbs on bare wires hang from the ceiling - recalling the austere times of the 1960s and 1970s - while cement walls have been deliberately left unfinished for a raw feel.

The three portholes in the newly built master bedroom wall also echo the motif along the stairwells of the apartment block's structure.

That's not all. A false ceiling clad with white aluminium strips - a look commonly seen in old shop fittings - hides the overhead beam above the bed while giving a retro feel to the master bedroom.
CEILING THE LOOK: White aluminium strips, reminiscent of old-school shop fittings, hide the overhead beam in the master bedroom and add texture to the space's industrial feel.

Yet, despite the use of materials such as cement screed and metal, the home feels far from cold, thanks to the couple's collection of posters, kitschy movie memorabilia and colourful accessories bought overseas.

Also adding character and warmth are some treasures they salvaged from the trash, such as a two-seater sofa, which has since been reupholstered, and an old television set from the 1980s.

ALL HOLED UP: Cubbyholes in the study display the couple's vintage collection.

All of which goes to show, having more of the same can be a good thing after all.

This spread first appeared in April's issue of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.

By offering my seat at MRT, the old man deduced my nationality...

"No, thanks" he smiled as I stood & gestured the now-empty seat to him. Did not insist as it may hurt his pride. So I sat back & pretended to busy myself reading the newuniversal.

"You are not Singaporean, are you?" he popped up the question.

"No, I am not. And how do you know about it, uncle?" Surely not from my accent as I didn't say a word to him. Just a gesture, that's all.

"You see, Singaporeans do not normally offer seats to old people." he sighed.

"Are you a Singaporean yourself, uncle? You sure don't sound like one."

"Well, I am a Singapore citizen. A Eurasian."

Ah. Silent awkward moments as I felt glares from the rest of the passengers. Did we talk too loud? Or were they just offended by the old man's remark of Singaporeans not normally offering their seats to old people?

I just wanted to read the graphic novel in peace, dammit. Not being talkative myself, I decided to exit on the next stop. Perhaps the old man could make good use of the now-really-empty seat I left.

Being courteous--or to be precise, simply doing things what ought to be done--could have been easier if people are willing to accept the act.

nooka nooka spotted!

this was caught on the surveillance camera in our stockroom!

"Why are you talking to my husband?" She-Who-Slapped-Stewardess Finally Acquited.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Or like a woman, whose husband was served by a Singapore Airlines (SIA) stewardess. Madam Tan Siew Hoon--the wife of Venture Corp CEO--was accused of slapping a stewardess, Then Jiamin during an SIA flight bound for Tokyo on 20 September 2007. The stewardess also claimed to be loudly asked: "Why are you talking to my husband?".

On 08 March 2008, it was reported that the slapping suit was settled out of court. The terms of settlement were confidential. In the same news, an SIA spokesman was quoted to say that the carrier "adopts a zero tolerance approach to assaults on our staff in the course of their duty". And "where an allegation is made, the airline will support a decision by the staff member to refer the complaint to the police."

A few days later, on 13 March, Madam Tan was charged in a magistrate's court for causing hurt to SIA stewardess.

Yesterday, on 24 April, she was acquited after the prosecution withdrew the case against her. On why the prosecution took that action was not mentioned in the news, though. SIA had not given any comment about the court decision, but "said it will continue to support its cabin crew if they are mistreated by customers".

Many will surely wonder whatever happens to that "zero tolerance approach" SIA previously stated. Perhaps it ought to be rephrase to "approaching-zero tolerance approach". SIA may be "a great way to fly" but not necessarily a safe carrier to work (for). Especially so if you're a stewardess whose course of work demands you to TALK to passengers.

And today, the lawyer for Ms. Then Jiamin told The Straits Times that his client had put this entire chapter behind her. He added: "She is getting married soon and she is looking forward to the bliss of wedded life".

this is pretty amazing

it's in japanese, but it's an underground bike park [chika-churinjo].

poptank and real music

i have recently taken a non-paid position as creative director for a game startup called poptank which will produce game software where the user actually gains musical skill while playing! i can't get too deep into it, but i'm now looking for C++ interns and illustrator/animator interns. we can pay people with experience, but this is a self-funded startup and we need to be creative with compensation until we get financing.

(i should add that this in addition to nooka and berrymatch)

SIFF Singapore Shorts Showcase #4

`Singapore Cowboy' by Ng Sze Kiat

This one wins my heart. It is a simple family episode that stoked my feelings on a few levels. The establishment of the family and the day-to-day things they do that normalize them in my mind. Then, all togged up in identical red cowboy suits, they depart for what looked like a community centre in a taxi. So apparently, Mr Taxi-Driver has this big Cowboy in him! He even gets jealous at his wife’s conversation with another man and musters his Cowboy will to get back at his supposed nemesis – by scratching his car. When they return, he is still not satisfied. At bedtime, he digs out his Cowboy hat, puts it over a topless body and starts role-playing again (to himself only, to be exact =)) Finally satisfied, he gives in to slumber. And very sweetly, in the arms of Singapore Cowgirl, his wife.

Cleverly, the film exists on two layers, the straight-forward community centre outing and Mr Cowboy going a mission to conquer and win hearts. And the beauty of it all is that it plays out in one single naturalistic act. It also helped that the man playing Mr Singapore Cowboy-taxi driver was the result of an excellent casting decision. I am going to call him up!

`Stories Fron The Sea' by Kenny Png

Another documentary which is worth watching. It tells of the simple and contented lives of the people who live on a rural island. The split screen adds to the cinematic experience and beauty of the entire documentary. A film that titillates the senses.

`Fuk Xin Luk' by Alan Cai

An ambitious period piece that has a TVish tone but great caberet scenes that really look expensive! My thought a little disparate for this one so check out my previous full review written in Feb.

`One' by Ray Pang

One must be screened again. It is a gangster flick made good that proves Singapore can have blood-curdling gangsters in simple coffeeshop settings that display enough `seh’(Hokkien for style) to even convince your ex-gangster HDB uncle to want to watch. My presumption, that is. Jack Neo’s Ah Longs? Too gao xiao (comic). Royston Tan’s facial mask wearing teen gangsters? D*&^ so long yet no power. I think Ray hit the right note with this one. A combination of dare-devil violence, comfortable tropical weather style (i.e. n suits) and vulgarities spewed like you hear it from the horse’s mouth. One of my favourites from the selection and I have not even started to comment on how I loved the camera work, lighting and post-production yet!

`Jijik' by Khairil Abdul Rahim

Again, another piece I once wrote about in Feb. It was screened together a number of other shorts under the Kino Fest, Ngee Ann’s Graduation Showcase. But I remember being captivated by the acting and the sheer simplicity of the storytelling and mis-en-scene.

`Shhh...' by Thea Chan

Good cinematography and acting. Interesting views. Touches on family relationships and the many problems in which guys may face. Shhh... I should not reveal anymore, go catch it if you have the opportunity to do so.

CC - Clement Chua JS - Jeremy Sing

SIFF Singapore Shorts Showcase #3

`Clouds In The Shell' by Liao Jiekai

One should look at this film like a feature length film due to its lingering takes on many scenes. Otherwise, you may start checking your watch. Clouds In The Shell is story of 2 characters who live next to each other and are `orphaned’ by their circumstances. One is a girl who is a real orphan and is adopted by a woman who can never see her as blood-kin. The other is a National Serviceman who books out but cannot get home because he did not have his keys and his mum seems to have gone away (perhaps a holiday). Turned off her foster mother’s insensitive treatment of her, she dreads coming home. She takes a directionless walk around the HDB estate to dissipate her angst but does return in the end. She fishes out photos of the deceased real daughter helplessly studies the photo in envy and resentment. NS boy had a bad week in camp and is dealing with the double whammy of being locked out. Driven by his angst, he decides to AWOL (not turn up at camp). In reaction, his outraged buddy tries to shake the sensibilities out of him reminding him of the detention consequences of going AWOL. Then, a quiet resolution closes this chapter for both characters – a simple dinner, a Asian sanctuary for normalizing feelings. Army boy comes to his senses and sets a time to return to camp. Orphan girl’s succumbs to her feelings of gratitude with tears.

Peeving its contrived `Tarkovsky-an’ track shots and pockets of deliberateness in its visual signaling of the issues, the film still had a really weird and haunting effect on me. This is why I leave my last comment as one on the characterization. They are both well-thought characters with their contradictions and internal struggles made vivid enough to live in my memory.

`Sardine Talks To Children' by Sara Yang

I really enjoyed this documentary. The interviewees are questioned on their relationships (albeitnon-existent) with their fathers and how each one of them feel towards him. It was filled with honest and heartfelt dialogue but the constant unnecessary swearing in the background and judgmental exclamations of "huh!" by the interviewer were a let down.

`Tango Heels' by Denise Chan

Filmed in the US, this is a film about remembering a friend who made a difference to a life. Ex-Tango dancer becomes crippled from an incident and meets a man who captures her heart but fate keeps them separate for years. At a later time, when both have grown older, she receives a present that contains an exquisite pair of shoes. It was exquisitely made by the man who actually contracted cancer but wanted to express his love for her in a way that mattered most to her. This is a `hallmark-cards-sweet’ film that dedicates its feel-good message to all who have friends with cancer.

Okay, I will not resist my naughty comment now. It reminds me of Sunset Strip, this erotic movie I watched at Yangtze Cinema about different type of dance – strip - pole dancing (hence the name!). Maybe it’s the orange-hued soft-lighting visuals. I will not explain why I was watching Sunset Strip here.

`Her Ballerina Story' by Melissa Ho

If I wrote something bad, I am sure I would be on the run from a entourage of supporters. They were literally screaming out beloved names of people involved when the credits rolled. Like your high school production. But high school production? This is definitely not, displaying a adept understanding of camera visual styles in relation to dance, this short was as graceful as ballerina’s performance in the film. Without resorting to visual clichés, the film glides from the character in her tutu to her ordinary self as an observer of a ballet class, her musings and finally back to her moments under the spotlight as the ballerina. Like a serenade, I think the filmmaker has succeeded in making me remember the beauty of this dance subliminally and quite consciously as well. My favourite shot, when the camera back tracked as she did her jump-turns with her legs flayed out in the direction of the camera. A word you would normally not use to describe ballet, compelling.
Toll' by David Liu

This film chronicles the drama which erupts after the young son of a police chief is kidnapped and how he goes to great lengths to rescue him. He breaks the law in the process when he holds the family of the kidnapper hostage and kills them in order to force the kidnapper to disclose where his son is held. Although the plot borders on being rather far fetched and pretentious at times, good acting and "CSI" filming techniques (quick cuts and fast camera movements) manage to save the film from becoming a let down.

`En' by Adam Abdullah

Adam are you half-Chinese? You look a little Chinese. Or maybe it is the how the film gives away your fascination Bruce Lee and martial arts. En is a about a boy who is torn between his desire to learn Chinese Opera and his responsibility to carry the family tradition of learning martial arts. It is a Ngee Ann final year project that looks expensive to put up, mainly because of the real Chinese Opera stage. I felt Sunny Pang was at one of his best in this film because the kung fu master and disciplinarian in him came out. The storyline treaded safe territory and made it too easy to guess what was going to happen next. Watching this the second time, I thought maybe better framed shots and more interesting camera angles (like POV shots and cutaways) could have helped the storytelling.

`Larut Road, A Peddler’s Enduring Legacy' by Eoin Ee

I guess this is where production values (or the lack of it) make a difference. Larut is an interview with a peddler who has been selling his ware for ages at Larut Road. The images were somehow quite a strain on the eyes, though we know the subject has a rich personal history to be uncovered. Also, I felt it was more like a token glimpse at someone interesting, a snapshot from tourist’s point of view. Not that these were not covered in his answers but the visuals failed to match up to legacy his tries to share.

SIFF Singapore Shorts Showcase #2

`Wish We Last Forever' by Raymond Neo

A film which leaves you thinking and musing what is wrong with society these days. Children abandoning their aged parents, conveniently forgetting the pains the latter took to raise them through the years. The silent struggle amid the strong resolve, the selfless sacrifices upon sacrifices. The ethereal strains of a Faye Wong timeless hit and accompanying chinese poems are haunting and causes one to introspect.

`Do’A' by Muhammad Sulaimi Bin Ismail

This is a religiously contemplative film about the meaning of a Muslim prayer or Do’A. It ruminates what the prayer preaches over the darker reality of life among real Muslims in our current society. Scenes of fights, detention centre, Young man surfing internet porn are intercut between one another. A despondent and regretful voice hovers over these images. I guess when the Arabic text (I suppose from the Quran) appeared at the end, this film had a chosen audience. Incidentally, one of the finalists in this year’s Silver Screen deals with a similar issue with also similar motifs.

`Two Minutes Away From Launch' by Jaryl Lim

Easily one of the best among the lot, this beautiful animation had the audience lapping everything up and enjoying every single moment. The awesome visuals and rich colours bring out the vibrant nature of the cute birds and animals. This animation surely deserves many more screenings and awards. An unsung hero! Well done!

`Don’t Stand so Close to Me' by Rajarathinam Tamilmaran

The casting mistake made it hard for me to digest the film at the beginning. A young man who looked like a brother to his younger sister was meant to be her father. Okay, that said, I like the storytelling, and how the characters interacted with each other. I am not sure if this is typical Indian drama fare but the poignancy of the issue did resonate with me. Father has an affair outside with a lady the family knows about. Daughter has a boyfriend but her mother openly checks her diary to find out and vehemently disapproves of it, all that while being oblivious to her own husband’s misdeeds. One night, when the daughter decided to seek a little justice by telling her mother, regret also catches up with the adulterous husband who was at the time topless in bed with the girl in Hotel 81. Enough and effortlessly said. And the film ends.

`My Best Beloved' by David Lee

If you are not homosexual, trying to dress up more like your loved one can spell disaster. This was a quirky little film that tickles the mind about a behavioural oddity that not many people can identify with. I somehow know it exists but I am not sure who in my life I could point a finger to. Two school girls cross a puddle on their way to school. One loves to imitate the other. One begins to wonder if it is going to lead to another homosexual relationship when they grow. Thank goodness we are spared the cliché. The imitator grows up to get a boyfriend and dates but as the dates go by, her dressing changes to become………………well, you guessed , a double take of him. Then suddenly, it is being revealed that she is doing an act in the middle of a take, complete with boom mike and reflector. She reveals she just enjoys acting now. If this short film was a speech, this line is the speech saver. Kind of clever, but still hard to identify with.

`Seeing Double' by Tengku Lamilah

Year after year, among the entries to the SIFF Silver Screen competition will be some classroom projects. Why not? Anyway, there are not many opportunities to get an audience for some hard-earned product. Seeing Double feels like one. The subject matter borders on being mundane and the approach a little banal. It is 2 interviews with 2 different pairs of female twins (quite well-to-do ones, cos they both stay in landed property). At the end of it all, it is the mother of the 2nd pair of twins who caught my attention. She looks like a cross between Violet Oon and your principal. Charismatic, yet control-freakish, but definitely commanding a lot of screen presence. Casting directors, watch out!

CC - Clement Chua JS - Jeremy Sing

SIFF Singapore Shorts Showcase #1

`(S)439965' by Elgin Ho

Nope, the title is not a mathematical sum nor numbers for punters to place their bets. Every area or building in Singapore is represented by a numerical postal code and (S)439965 is actually the location of a block of apartments in Katong which is scheduled to be torn down for redevelopment by the authorities. The protagonist revisits many of the places which he grew up in and attempts to capture the fond memories which he had by taking photographs. This film is a nostalgic mood piece which is both sensitive and mature, appealing to the sentimental within us.

`Damn Murphy' by Ng Jing Jie

Girlfriend tries to find out from different parties where her man spent the previous to have brought another girl home. Then walked the man’s mum, she is not spared too. Complete with annotation that read `Lee xxxxxx, 56, mother of two’, she sat down and gave her account crime watch style. Guffaws throughout. The style is repeated a few times. I think I have to take my hat off to this bold one-joke novelty of a film. It was unabashed and fun. I correct myself. 2 jokes. The second being the offering of barley water by the mother to the angry girlfriend, just after she asked her man for a cum inspection. (by right hor, what can she expect to see? Beats me!)

`In Our Own Words' by Melinda Tan
This 16 minute documentary starts out on an uneven footing but has you cheering it on soon after. Two young boys, Amos and Joseph are just like anyone of us, just that they suffer from kidney failure. It is a debilitating disease which becomes fatal without any medical intervention yet our young over comers live their lives in such a way which will make any parent proud. They live a life of normalcy, playing soccer and indulging in their favourite pastimes besides attending school. Their parents deserve much credit too for bringing them up in the right way. They do not practise favouritism nor excuse them when they do wrong, rewarding and punishing them just like they would do to their healthy siblings. This inculcates in them the right values and that they are no different from others. Reach out your hands and hearts to them today for they inspire and show us that sickness and pain in the body is only temporal.

`Strifey' by Bay Rui Hong

I attended a career talk once and someone mentioned the earning power of animation artists over filmmakers. But there is just not enough screening opportunities for animators to inspire such careers I guess. When screened with fiction shorts, they are either a welcome `genre-cutaway’ or an easily forgotten oddity. Strifey sits on the fence. It is a cutesy, sweet little tale about a short boy trying to come to grips (literally) with the things in life. Visually, it is appealing especially the 3D hallucination portion where all the insults congregate in his brain. It has candy colours that resemble Ou De Yang’s music videos though the characters here have bad body proportions and stumps for hands. The stumps seem to encapsulate what I really feel about the film – cute but just cute.

`Coffee' by Cheung Pui Chung

Coffee is one of those shorts that might have been devised over, well, er, a cup of coffee. Not meant for deep thought but for laughs. In his quest for a proper `coffee’ moment to make his day, the lead gets into a series of mishaps. It is a mild camp of a short film judging from the acting and plot. It fell short of full camp because the largely physical and `post-production-effects’ jokes were tickling but not challenging enough. Guess the only thing thrust me out of my sniggering comfort zone was the bitch between wife and ex-girlfriend. People love cat fights!
`Secret Of The Red House' by Danny Lim
A girl wakes up one morning and finds her pet chicken missing from its coop and embarks on a journey to find it. She meets with many shady and unsavoury characters along the way and learns to deal with the evil schemes which they plot against her. A comedy drama with credible acting but is marred by an incredulous and far fetched plot.
CC - Clement Chua JS - Jeremy Sing

green concerns

i've been green when it was a hot topic the first time around as a child in the early 70s. this has filled me with varying levels of anxiety at different points in my life, from being macrobiotic in my teens/early 20s to having a career crisis of conscience in my late 20s thinking that design is the devil's work producing disposable culture!

i now have a more optimistic view on design as a discipline and understand the importance of contributing to the evolution of visual culture. who knows – it may be the designers that figure out how to communicate with the first extraterrestrials that land on earth for formal contact!

this wider view has not freed me from ecological concerns, and i have always produced minimal packaging for my nookas – sometimes more successful for one line and not another. for example, the leather strap models all come in a slim padded fabric wallet that can be reused for pencils, make-up, jewelery and also for keeping your nooka. our zubs are made out of a minimal amount of acrylic plastic and double-duty as display cases.

are these ideal solution? no. but here's the problem i'm putting out in the blogosphere in hopes that someone can help us improve:
design websites, newspapers and news media often feature the NEXT green solution. for example, corn or soy based plastics, cool recycled materials etc. AND i'm sure dupont or monsanto and the chemical concerns of the world also have new materials touted in press releases.
can a small start-up like nooka have access to these materials?
do any of the affordable alternatives have partners in china where most manufacturing is done? i ask this because we have had ZERO LUCK finding answers to these questions and we are very pro-active in research [try to get a person in dupont to direct you to a marketing person who knows of a new material reported in the press!]

i am sending our production designer to dusseldorf this week to go to interpack, the international packaging fair in order to find the answers to the above questions, but if anyone reading this has any insights or contacts to share – please do.

also: i contacted the american plastics council which spends millions on television and print advertising to see if they had field staff to send to schools and companies to educate about environmental issues and new developments [the paper companies all have these kinds of programs], and i was shocked that they do not.

A Part of Tiong Bahru

Photo taken from my nokia E90
(I'm not impressed with the photo quality but that was the only image capturing device I have with me all the time)

This is a part of the Tiong Bahru Estate landscape which most people would have missed as it is located in some obscure corner in Tiong Bahru.

If you took the trouble to explore Eng Hoon Street and walked all the way to the entrance of St Matthew Church (1K Eng Hoon Street), you would have found this building.

This building is located beside the main gate of that church.

I wonder who the owner of this building is.

The place looks so abandoned and some contractors even had the audacity to use the entrance of that building to store their excess goods.

Why do some property owners just let their property die and rot?
This, I cannot comprehend.

`Dance Of A Modern Marriage' by Ellery Ngiam

Ellery will set the standard for pushing the boundaries of local independent films in a new direction. The extravagant and BIG. Let's analyse the still above. Brass chandeliers. Premium crystals. Plumes aplenty. Melwani-type furnishing. a pair of good-looking talents (I really mean Debra and the French guy, can't see the other girl). The total cost of it: a Citibank Visa perhaps.

While this film will set many tongues wagging for various reasons (which it already has mostly for being paired up with Road to Mecca), it is really a very well executed piece. The script is a credible effort. The direction is sturdy and trained. The art direction needs no comment. The photography and lighting is immaculately sleek. Debra and Rodney were comfortably watchable as the leads.

However, I felt the goodness of it all seemed to fit more into the framework of television viewing. Perhaps the main driver could be how the storytelling tended to account for too much, leaving little to guessing, doubting, suspecting and playing along, like the characters themselves in the house.

Basically DOAMM is about a married couple whose relationship is on the rocks. They fail to see eye-to-eye on things and have a son at stake. The husband takes her out to a party one night. It is not an ordinary party as it turns out. The colonial mansion (looking like Supreme court from the outside) is filled with beautiful people, somewhat reminding you of Stanley Kubrick's `Eyes Wide Shut'. And the draw? Everyone is part of and can participate in a flesh buffet. Things happen and hours of confusion later, the husband sees something that rekindles his love for his wife. So, that's moral of this modern marriage.It is a refreshing and rather memorable topic for a film. I would imagine an increasing number of people can relate to in Singapore. Debra and Rodney each played their role to an intensity that allowed me to follow that emotional roller coaster and understand the psyche of people engaged in a swinger's party. In fact, taking away the spectacle of the party and the sexually informative scenes, the couple was really holding most of the film together. Check out Ellery's website for more of Dance of a Modern Marriage and his other short films : http://www.elleryngiam.com/

i-D magazine

thanks super fashion stylist for i-D magazine london UK! may 08 issue.
watch featured available here, but the fotos do not do justice to the neon red/orange of this particular zub.

i can't believe how the early 80s NYC east village look is soooo back again....i think i may need to post some pics of me from that era!

Insider News

“I've got insider news”. “Someone I know works inside”. “This place is gonna en-bloced in 6 years time”.

These words were uttered smugly by a bespectacled man with a cigarette in his hand.

I had to walk away upon hearing these words as the resentment welling up within me was too intense to handle.

Maybe I'm just too obsessed with this estate.

As a real estate agent, I had to be professional about such remarks and not let my emotions get the better of me.
(By the way, that guy is not my customer. He just bought a place in the HDB section of Tiong Bahru and is currently renovating his place and I happen to overhear his conversation with a buyer who just viewed a unit I was selling.)

Perhaps this frustration stemmed from the seemingly indifferent attitude I witness and felt amongst some Tiong Bahru residents.

Maybe no one really cares if this place would be en-bloced or conserved. What seems to matters most would be how much the en-bloced compensation would be and would the allocated flats be near a MRT station.

Seriously, you do not need HDB to en-bloced your home to get a windfall! There are many other ways to make money.

My family has never benefitted from whatsoever handouts HDB has given out.

When I purchased my 1st flat*, it was a total disaster for my wife and me.

We bought our flat impulsively at $495,000 and plonked in another $80,000 to renovate and furnished it.

HDB gave us a $40,000 CPF grant but that did more harm than help.

We later sold the flat off at $425,000.

Our losses come up to about $125,000 (inclusive of accrued CPF interest). To me, that was a financial disaster.

To add insult to injury, if I ever buy a direct flat from HDB, I would have to pay a levy of $107,000. And that amount does not include the interest incurred from the time I sold my SUBSIDIZED flat till the time I purchase my next one. (I wonder who was subsidizing who)

My wife and I never whine about that. We took it in our stride and recovered from it.

We stayed focused in our plans to become financially educated.

I also put in effort to improve my knowledge in real estate so that I can be a better investor and at the same time provide better advice to my clients.

We are still learning as learning is a journey with no destination.

We kept reading relevant books and tried to put what we have read into action.

I am also fortunate enough to meet many people along the way who could offer good advice and directions.

We have developed some kind of AWARENESS and this is a good start.

We have since made back what we lost from our 1st HDB flat through our real estate investment. (By the way, my wife is not in the real estate business but she took the time to understand how it works…..actually she does not have a choice, I have verbal diarrhoea and I demanded total attention when I am exploring my theories or analysis with her)

I strongly agree with Robert Kiyosaki that all of us should stop having this ENTITLEMENT mentality and instead steer our own future.

As the saying goes, give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life.

But BEWARE of the person who does neither but wants to sell you the fish. (They have a SELFISH reason for doing so and real estate agents** are classified by Robert as a fish seller in his book, “Why we want you to be RICH!”)

I was sold a fish when I bought my 1st HDB flat. I am now learning how to fish.

So for whatever reasons you might have about buying into Tiong Bahru and one of them happens to be about some en-bloc windfall, I urge you to explore other options which has a more certain outcome.

Betting on some insider news is akin to gambling.

One of my wise clients recently said this to me: "Wiseman PLANs, Poor man HOPEs". There is much wisdom in that statement.

But if you already living here in the Tiong Bahru Estate and you cannot really tolerate living in these walk-ups anymore, give me a call and I will help you explore possibilities on how you can be happily moved to a place where there are ELEVATORS and extra toilets to serve you.

That way, we can still keep Tiong Bahru low density.

Being collectively INDIFFERENT to the fate of this estate would be the greatest tragedy.

So the song goes, Coz we are living in a material world and I’m a material……..,

If everyone is consumed by that song, the GREED will eventually come and Tiong Bahru’s low density existence will be threatened.

*Note: I was not yet a real estate agent when I purchased my 1st HDB property.

** When real estate agents cajole you into buying a property, do not become too emotional and overstretch your budget. Remember, you are the one who is going to service that mortgage loan over a long period of time and that agent would not be around to help you service that loan after the sale. You need to know your own financial numbers so that no one can pull wool over your eyes.

*** Stumbled upon this site and I would like you to check it out too: http://www.saveclementipark.com/. I am glad there are some people at Clementi Park who cared enough to speak out.

`Vivid' by Sam Loh

`Vivid' by Sam Loh is a like a sensual love duet. If there is a music equivalent to the film, it is jazz. It ALL happens in a hotel. And to be really cheeky, it was obviously Hotel 81. A Japanese businessman checks in and incidentally finds a shawl on which the mesmerising scent of the owner was left behind. Then comes the imagination sequence in which he becomes possessed (see above) by his own fantasies of the mysterious owner.
Soon, it is time for him to check out, but he leaves something behind for he knows she will be the next occupant. What follows is a vice versa repetition of this fantasy by the woman. And this time, it is his cigarettes. Perfume manufacturers will not happy with this short film for introducing cigarette scent as the latest aphrodisiac.
There is round 3 as well, her lipstick, which sits exquisitely in a rose-inspired holder. By now, I wondered at which item would we see some form of consequence. To be strict, there was none. Though they eventually met in the bar, it was somewhat like she actually walked into it coincidentally. This was one among many previous coincidences. It did not matter by now because jazz had already turned into an oldie.

`Haze' by Anthony Chen

Singapore did not experience a serious bout of haze last year. For those who are not familiar, at least once a year, Singapore gets shrouded in haze caused by the drifting smoke from forest fires in Indonesia. From the shots of `Haze' the short film, one could tell that the heavens worked against the intentions of the film - there was really NO haze. But despite that, `Haze' evoked feelings of precariousness, blindness and finally misdirection that brought to life the figurative meaning of the word more than the tangible presence of this weather element would have.

2 secondary school students decide to skip school one day. Between them, the boy assumes the role of the instigator while the girl follows. At the boy's abode (his parents have gone on a trip to Malaysia) they let their natural instincts flow and dally with whatever pleases from TV, to instant noodles to sharing ice-cream. Noticeably, the girl is often keeping up with the boy more than being an equal partner in crime. And in between all that, is a pervading blanket of humidity associated with the physical weather that also seems to mirror the growing uneasiness she is hiding inside. Then, the showpiece happens. Moist limbs interlock. The girl takes a leap of faith in succumbing herself to situation.

While she was not physically bruised from her maiden experience, she unknowingly opens herself up to hurt when she pops the commitment question to him in the aftermath. Naturally, she learnt a big lesson in that one hazy afternoon.

Like a exercise in punctuation, `Haze' delivered a story with various its plot points dotted in the right amounts and timing to produce drama that did resonate with me. And delightfully, it tackles adolescent behaviour very maturely. Subtly visible under all that frivolous, delinquent talk are a clash of comfort zones, directions, values. So when the girl realises the folly of her sacrifice, my empathy was almost immediate.

Behold and let the haze fill your computer screen at http://fisheye-pictures.com/

`Road To Mecca' by Harman Hussin

Religion is a funny thing. You may find this familiar. You friend brings you to a church and tries to match make you with... God. You just can't seem to make sense of the proposed relationship. You were skeptical and secretly peeved by the zealous congregation all around you. A few years later, perhaps when you have experienced a little more of life, someone else gives you another chance to `discover' yourself at a church. Suddenly, the songs resonate in harmony with your thoughts. Whether or not you accept the belief is another matter. But a relationship with a film can sometimes be a romantic detour like this.

I watched Road to Mecca in 2 parts. In the second viewing, there were some overlaps because I rewinded to allow myself to refresh my memory. I think I must have been under the influence of the `serious' films to have developed a prejudice against this `travelogue' of a film. I mean all my tainted eyes saw was Harman Hussin doing a `Lonely Planet'. Even the travel bug in me did not save me. I seemed to miss the point.

2 weeks later, I watched it again and discovered the Buddha within the debris (excuse the inter-mix of religious metaphors). A random stroll it still was. It even suffered the unceremonious roadblocks and visa rejections which jolted the pace of the documentary. There were also several narratively inarticulate moments that interrupted my mental journey as I followed Hassan. However, these could easily be remedied in the editing room. The beauty of `Road' was that every stop had a moment. The moments were heartfelt and even occasionally transcendental. And when you string them altogether as a collective memory of a pilgrimage, they add up to a something of a `Testament-al' nature.

I remember the Malaysian celebrity who exalted the benefits of wearing a hijab as opposed to modern women's wear and how it reminded me of how some people in Singapore would support the chewing gum ban. I empathised with the driver who confessed to breaking fast when nobody was looking. I still marvel at the grand montage of worshippers in a mosque in India that resembled a Hollywood movie set. My shoulders were quivering with giggles from the `proper' Muslim who sang praises of Indian Kashmir and remained oblivious to `Pakistani' Kashmir. Finally, a lady in Lahore named `Priti' stole my heart while she alternated between giggling at Harman and beholding the breathtaking view from the top of the tower in soulful contentment.

I did not always emerge wiser from the episodes for some were evidently just moments of relief (comic or cultural) that gave the `Road to Mecca' its `texture'. For sure, Harman's journey was not the most ideal and serendipitous he could wish for. There were obstacles aplenty. But I honestly felt it was how he encapsulated those moments, some even ordinary, that made me see so much beauty in so much squalor.

Panorama Crosstalk #10

(Jeremy) : I will always remember the scene at the top of this tower (was it Lahore?) where Harman, the director met a girl with a head shawl and asked what her name is. (pause) `Pretty' , she replied. (am sure it was really more accurately spelt as `Priti’ or somehing like that haha).
(Stefan) : The next time anyone asks what my name is, I will reply "Hunk".
J : Haha (and gulps).
S : But I think her name should be "Priety".
J : Why? Are you half Punjabi?
S : Because there is a Bollywood actress with that name. So it's a bona fide name. Not that she was trying to be funny haha.
J : Wow, your knowledge of films is really amazing. No wonder you are Singapore's No.1 movie reviewer.
S : Wait. Let me dig out her name.
J : (Silence)
S : Preity Zinta. I only know her because she starred in a famous Bollywood movie which I have yet to finish watching - Dil Se. Opposite Shah Rukh Khan.
J : Priety Zinta. Pretty Zinta. (pause) Anyway, I thought interesting characters were one of the things that defined Road to Mecca the documentary? (pause) Did you actually like it?
S : Yup. Even though it was raw, I thought it had a lot of moments captured on film that you don't usually see, therein lies the value.
J : In fact, I would compare it with another Middle-eastern-heavy documentary - `Veil of Dreams’. `Veil’ was a sleek but close-ended documentary. I have a new term for it – subtly boring.
S : `Veil’ was like a live action update of `Persepolis’.
J : Back to `Mecca’, what kind of moments are you referring to?
S : The very candid reply on fasting caught on film! I really didn't expect that!
J : Oh yeah, I remember the Malaysian celebrity who changed my mind about wearing hijabs. S : It gave a very sincere feel to the documentary. It was clear that the director was not trying to hide any unpleasantries about the practitioners toward their religion. Some filmmakers might choose to omit those scenes. (beat) But Harman didn't, and it worked.
J : Delightfully and surprisingly.
S : Harman tells you that as humans, we easily fall prey to temptation and the easy way out. I mean, since no one's looking, you might take a meal break during the fasting period.
J : Share with you something. I watched `Road to Mecca’ in 2 parts actually.
S : How come?
J : Cannot reveal, haha. (pause) But watching the second half after a few days break made me see so much more in the film. It was uncanny.
S : Mmmm.
J : Like suddenly, you took interest in a Renaissance painting and wanted to know everything about it.
S : Yes, I can understand that kind of feeling.
J : And get this, the second time I watched it was after the SIFF. (beat) So, I think the SIFF spirit was just not conducive for enjoying the film. Maybe I was in the mood for story and narratives. (pause) Really pre-judged it with a framework in mind.
S : Oh I see. (beat) Anyway, on the downside, I thought it was too short. It could have gone on for a little longer.
J : Was it because of the ending?
S : Not exactly. (pause) But as it went on, I was in the mood to see more and more
J : Same here, my wanderlust took over me by the time he was in Lahore.
S : (sigh) Then the rug had to be pulled... Ok, I better shut up now. J : Where was your favourite stop by the way?
S : Cannot recall exactly but it was in India when he broke fast with the mall employees. It was riotously funny that everyone just hammed for the camera.
J : That's very sweet too! (long pause) Mine was Lahore. (beat) Guess why?
S : The border guards?
J : No. How can it be?
S : Dunno.
J : It was kind of er..... pretty.

Hassan's `Road to Mecca' footprints can be found in:
Blog : http://road2mecca.blogspot.com/
Actual website : http://road2mecca.kino-i.com/index.html

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