5th Singapore Short Cuts - Bedok Jetty by Boo Junfeng

`Bedok Jetty' is another film produced for the National Museum’s Digital Homelands project. Deeply personal and esoteric, it is about a person’s lost love and his attachment to Bedok Jetty, a place he used to frequent with his old flame. In the film, a juxtaposition of actual location shots and a screen shot of an msn conversation is used. The jetty shots mostly reflect a casual observer’s vision of the place, but with a few occasional ones more dramatically loaded. Together, they create a diary-like record of the place that is on one hand tinged with regret but also quite distanced.

The Digital Homelands project is a little like a large-scale nationwide navel gazing project, in a positive way. Every once in a while, we need to rediscover ourselves even though we’ve only got so much land. Bedok jetty is new to me although it looks like it's gained a regular following from some avid fishing enthusiasts and of course...... love birds. Shown in documentary fashion, anglers mingle with joggers along a long stretch of pathway. Despite the crowd, there appears a certain orderliness about the people, all sidelined, quietly and discretely tending to their interests. Which makes it quite contradictory to the mixed bag of emotions underlying the msn exchange of two ex-lovers occupying the lower third of the screen.

The tone of the conversation is both sentimental yet furtive. And the nuances in the punctuation, expression and tempo of the lines mirror the state of their feelings. For instance, the pauses, the spelling errors, the aborted attempts to write something, the emoticons and even the cyber disconnection. While the msn exchange elicits a sense of emotional struggle, the video images above it are unfortunately quite barren. Like an attempt to visually inform about Bedok Jetty, the location, it captured too much too superficially. Perhaps, a few surprises in sound design might have given the video more dimension. Then again, it might have been an attempt to be faithful to the natural qualities of the place. How do you define natural? It could be subjective though.

A bit too early.....

Tonight, when the clock strikes 12, it would be the start of the annual hungry ghost festival.

All over Singapore, you will see a lot of colourful tents being set up to usher in this event by the Taoist practitioners.

I was at the Tiong Bahru market on Monday and I noticed 2 “brothers” who may have gotten the dates wrong.

They are kinda early but they sure chose the right place....the Tiong Bahru food centre!

5th Singapore Short Cuts - Twogether by Victhric Thng

A man-made water feature that has water cascading down in neat regular rows, form the setting and also the visual fabric of this film. In a kind of naturalistic surrealism, 2 men are perched on top of the structure taking a dip in the water. We are not entirely where we are because it looks like something you would see in a shopping centre and yet the characters behave like they are in a public swimming pool, making the film exude a subtle kind of defiance. Perhaps, a challenge of natural order, congruous with the queerness of its theme and also the subsequent physical `stunt’ of the man.

Right from the moment we see the characters, one character `slides’ towards the other in a way as smooth as a moonwalk. The moment is familiar - like you can control what you say but cannot control how your body Reacts. And silly me, I actually believed it was really a part of the water feature. It turned out to be a post-production trick as revealed from the horse’s mouth.

Victhric revealed during the Q & A that Twogether was made as a defiant reaction to people who keep probing him about when he would make his first feature film. I happened to chance upon it on YouTube initially before Short Cuts. Linked to it is also another short centred around a visual of a crescent moon shot from a moving car. Something I remembered more vividly than Twogether.

And now let's see how 'exorcism' case is handled in the US.

The alleged exorcism case has Madam Amutha Valli in Singapore (which the court hearing ended yesterday, 30/07) and the latest news reveals, Mrs. Laura Schubert Pearson in the US. In the article, titled "‘Exorcism woman’ takes case to highest court" it was said:
A woman claiming she was injured during an exorcism performed by a Texas church group is planning to take her case to the United States Supreme Court after state judges ruled the actions of the church were protected by the First Amendment.

Mrs Laura Schubert Pearson’s lawsuit accusing members of the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God Church of subjecting her to a two-day exorcism ordeal in 1996 that left her so distressed she attempted suicide was dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court last month.

The judges overturned a lower court’s decision awarding her damages and ruled that because Mrs Schubert Pearson’s claims of injury amounted to a religious dispute over church doctrine it would be “unconstitutional” for the court to get involved.

Religious freedom campaigners saythe case strikes at the heart of the US Constitution’s First Amendment, which prohibits government interference in the free exercise of religion, and were the US Supreme Court to rule in Mrs Schubert Pearson’s favour, it would signal “the end of church independence and religious freedom” in the US.

Mrs Schubert Pearson, 29, claims she was left bruised and traumatised after members of her church group allegedly kept her captive for two days so they could perform an exorcism in which she was pinned to the ground and “pummelled”.

The incident happened after fellow members of the church group became convinced she was possessed by demons. She was 17 at the time.

After the alleged ordeal, she dropped out of school and tried to slit her wrists, she said.

In the Texas Supreme Court ruling, Justice David Medina, writing for the majority, said that, were the court to get involved and dictate a church’s religious activities, it would have “an unconstitutional ‘chilling effect’”.

Too bad Singapore does not have such "First Amendment". That would have saved to cut down the court time here. To think Valli's case has wasted nine months, 31 witnesses' time and 40 days of courtroom...

The winner for $8m Toto draw on 08.08.08 is...

...Singapore Pools!! Who else? I can imagine such a long queue of hopeful (or is it hopeless?) people betting their hard-earned money for the $8m jackpot prize.

Cashing in on what many see as an auspicious date which comes once-in-a-century, Singapore Pools will hold a 'Triple Eight' draw next Friday - 08.08.08 - with a jackpot prize of $8 million.

The draw will take place at the Paradiz Centre at 9.30pm on Aug 8.

Ticket sales for this draw starts on Thursday at 6.10pm and will close at 9pm on Aug 8, 30 minutes before the draw.

Singapore Pools will offer special packs priced at $10, $28, $88 and $188. The $188 pack contains eight Toto tickets and only 8,888 packs are up for grabs.

Full story in Asiaone.com article, "$8m Toto draw on 08.08.08".

By the way, from Singapore Pools' Toto $8 Million Draw site:
$188 Toto Pack - Toto Tickets from 8 lucky outlets:
8 tickets x 6 boards of QuickPick System 7
(One ticket each from 8 outlets with the highest winning frequency)
2 x $10 Scratchit! tickets (Pre-launch exclusive to the pack)

The selected Top 8 lucky outlets are :
7-Eleven Yishun (Blk 102 Yishun Ave 5), Fatt Chye Heng Trading (Blk 10 Hougang Ave 7), Kim Chwee Trading (Blk 256 Jurong Eest St 24), Murugan Sports & Video Pte Ltd (Blk 204 Bedok North St 1), Ng Teo Guan Service (Blk 301 Ubi Ave 1), NTUC FairPrice Tanjong Pagar (Blk 5 Tanjong Pagar Plaza), Singapore Pools Hougang N1 Branch (Blk 106 Hougang Ave 1) and Teo Sook Cheng Agency (Blk 292 Yishun St22)

Available while stocks last from 6 August (8am) at 88 Singapore Pools branches only.

Now that's interesting, but I'm still doubtful I'll have patience & time to waste for queueing. Heh.

noo look for nooka

our noo look book [notice all the lovely double o's there] went to press this week and we updated the website with the noo photos as well. fashion week is for androids, and it's no different for the catwalk on the asteroid we had the photoshoot. comets provide the best ambient lighting and the thin air with cold temperature tighten up those robo-pores better than a mint clay facial masque.

so check it out.

so what does this mean in marketing speak you may ask:
the answer is a renewed focus on fashion, fashion, style, and fashion. i see each of my products as little fashion ambassadors to the embassy of you!

design alumni

mr. dana deskiewicz was a designer who worked for me when i was creative director of award winning yet now defunkt new york zoom in the late 1990s [he was witness to the genesis of nooka as i started developing it while there]. he has since gone on to even bigger and better things, but like all alumni of the matthew waldman network, we keep in touch often. he has released some new t-shirt designs for sale on his mediafury website here. check it out, i'm wearing a svenska t to strengthen the nooka-sweden relationship – thanks dana!

On the Brink of Extinction with Oscar Figuracion Jr.

BY MADS BAJARIAS | Oscar Figuracion Jr. belongs to a dying breed of artists—the Pinoy wildlife illustrator. Natural history is a brave field for a Pinoy artist to be. In the first place, the Philippines has never had a strong tradition of producing wildlife field guides for the layman. Nature appreciation, while becoming popular as a hobby, has yet to gain enough momentum for local publishers to go into the business of producing field guides for the serious Filipino nature enthusiast. Even the most widely-used wildlife field guide in the country, the Philippine bird guide by Robert Kennedy etal. was published by a non-Filipino printing-house, Oxford University Press. The fast-moving technological advancements in digital technology has also dealt a body blow to field expedition illustrators.

Oscar's first brush with natural history happened when he was a college student in 1960s Mindanao. He was working on illustrating a set of native dresses for a university textbook. While he was drawing, someone tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was interested in joining a wildlife expedition as a field illustrator. That man was Dr. Dioscoro Rabor, the eminent Filipino explorer and wildlife biologist. Oscar immediately said yes.

In Dr. Rabor's expeditions in the 60s and 70s, Oscar's task was to illustrate as accurately and speedily as possible the morphological characteristics of the wildlife specimens that Rabor's expedition members brought from the field. At night, when the expedition hunters came back to camp, Oscar had to draw the prominent features of the animals as part of the documentation process. He had to draw fast and accurate before decay sets in. After drawing the specimens, Oscar handed over the specimens to the taxidermists who were tasked to stuff and preserve in alcohol or cotton the specimens worth preserving.

Today of course, photo-documentation is the norm with digital still cameras and portable video cameras. In the 1980s, Oscar went to the Middle East to work as a cartoonist and only came back in the 1990s when he received some commissions from the various local organizations who were making wildlife field guides. Oscar did a few field guides of birds, fishes and corals. He also illustrated a set of butterflies but was unpublished. When the commissions dried up, he moved to Davao City and is trying to sell wildlife-themed paintings.

In the painting on top, we see another critically-endangered species, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), feeding its young. This magnificent bird of prey lays an egg only once every two years in the wild. Tall indigenous hardwoods, their preferred nesting trees, are fast diminishing because of illegal logging and clearcutting of forests to make way for human settlements.

Aside from habitat destruction, hunting is a serious cause of this creature's decline. Even though the law protects it, many fledgelings still get killed by ignorant forest-dwellers who can't recognize a Philippine Eagle when they see one. It must also be noted that the burgeoning Filipino human population means that more and more people from the cities, who have no deep knowledge of the forest, are clearing forestlands where they can make a living. This ignorance means trouble for the native wildlife, and a headache for the real forest-dwellers who are tasked to protect the Eagle.

Many fear that this bird of prey—the country's National Bird—will become extinct within 50 years. If that happens, we have only ourselves to blame.

Poster with an endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) by Oscar Figuracion Jr.

$1M Reward for the capture of Mas Selamat Kastari & how things can go wrong

Reading about how 3 Singaporeans quit their jobs so they can look for their target, Mas Selamat Kastari in Indonesia fills me with wonder. Granted the Greed Factor is truly real & seducing. But to announce the whereabout of the hunt aloud? Hallo?! Do you want him to start escaping somewhere else?!

Okay, granted Indonesia is such a vast country. One can lose oneself without an effort there. The trick is to get along well enough with your neighbours so that you know your back will be covered.

Be a lone wolf? Try to isolate yourself? You may only risk people in the area to point to your door when the swarm of bounty hunters sniff for your tail.

Anyway, what I am sceptical about is mostly about the reward itself. Do we have clear & established procedures of reporting 'information' which may lead to the capture of Mas Selamat?

I personally doubt so.

The only thing mentioned about the procedure is only as follows:
Members of the public with information on Mas Selamat can call the Counter Terrorism Centre hotline at 1800-262-6473 or the Police at 999. All information received will be kept confidential and will be verified and investigated.

(First quoted in ChannelNewsAsia 21/07 article, "S$1m reward for information leading to capture of Mas Selamat".)

Greener pastures are just a click away at jobs.st701.com | Click, click, click

There are reasons for someone to quit his/her current job & to look for a new one. It could be because currently there are too many overtime works (which can be bad especially if such a duty is unpaid!). Another reason may be due to the person’s wish to spend more time with his/her family. He/she may have just started a family or if the person is single, he/she may prefer having more time to take care the aging parents. Other possibility could simply be that the person is just tired of doing the same works & thinking about a career change.

There are many other reasons, which vary to individuals.

Regardless of the reason—if you are one of those seeking for other jobs—you may want to consider trying out jobs.st701.com or Singapore Jobs & Recruitment from ST701.com.


Singapore Jobs & Recruitment - ST701.com

Looking for jobs in Singapore has never been easy! The site even has a Guided Tour which consists of only 10 slides. That’s how user-friendly it is.

Guided Tour - Slide 1

Guided Tour - Slide 10

So give it a try. Being a member doesn’t cost you anything & hey, that dream job may just become reality. You’ll never know. Not till you give it a try.

Repainting the 'Hood

Kelvin says,

"Hi! Do think about the repainting and if you can, pass the word around... let’s try to get the Town Council to let us vote or choose the colours... it can make a difference to what we all have to live within the next 10 years!".

Event: repainting the 'hood ("Do you want to have a say?")
What: Informational Meeting
Host: Kelvin Ang
Start Time: Monday, August 11 at 12:00pm
End Time: Monday, August 11 at 3:00pm
Where: Tiong Bahru

To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:

A real Boot Camp in Filmmaking - Film Camp by nuSTUDIOS

It must be fun shooting a film at a chalet. When exhausted, there is always lots of food and drinks. Last week, a group (think it's an ECA group in NUS) called nuSTUDIOS organised a film camp at a chalet in which people are split into teams and have to make a film. I first came acriss them from IS magazine. Then upon checking their website (http://www.nu-studios.com/), I learnt I actually knew people from it. And pretty prominent people in the indie filmmaking scene, like Kristin Saw, Tan Bee Thiam and Low Beng Kheng.

But what's interesting is these are people in non-film-related degrees pursuing film , just like myself. Beng Kheng from the Substation introduced me to Jia Jian and Alvin from nuSTUDIOS. So I had poppped some of my burning questions to Alvin...

Jeremy (J): Please introduce yourselves.
Alvin (A): As a student film production house, we aim to promote film appreciation and filmmaking within the NUS community and beyond. Since its inception in 2000, nuSTUDIOS has produced over 22 short films, with our finest participating in both local and international film festivals. These include the Singapore Shorts Film Festival, the 2004 Bangkok International Film Festival, the Tel Aviv 9th International Student Film Festival in Israel and the 2007 30th Asian American International Film Festival. J: So tell me more about your film camp.
J: What's Film Camp?
A: July Film Camp 2008 was held this 16th to 18th July 2008 partly in NUS Centre For the Arts and at Aloha Loyang where our participants stayed for 3D2N. It is held yearly in order to teach participants how to make films. The theme for this year’s film camp was ‘Green Environment’! It was to challenge our aspiring filmmakers to create short films with inspiring messages that would help create awareness having a Green Environment, and teaching them the use of film as a tool to reach out to the world. J: How was nuSTUDIOS started? (Who started it?)
A: nuSTUDIOS actually originated from a film group in Temasek Hall. Rather than remain as a group only for Hall residents, they decided to raise the platform a little to have membership open to all varsity students. Hence, nuSTUDIOS was founded under CFA in the year 2000.
J: Where did the poeple in it pick up the technical filmmaking skills from? A: I do remember 2 very technically experienced members as part of the founding team. They were in charge of carrying out technical training to less experienced members of the organization. As to how they themselves acquired technical knowledge, it was probably self-taught.
J : What are people who form nuSTUDIOS studying (wish to get a gauge of people with non-related degrees who are dabbling in film). A: We come from all the various faculties in NUS including engineering, arts and social sciences, design and environment, science, law, medicine and business. Our diverse backgrounds really help in coming up with new ways of doing things!
J: What productions are coming up?
A: We are currently in the Post Production stage for 3 short films shot in the past 3 months. Be on the lookout for "Cashless", "Definition" and "No Vacancy". We also organize screening events to showcase our very own nuSTUDIOS works.

Stompin' at the RSC Block Party

The Windcatcher and other fairytales from Cain Chui and Mohd Idlam

Cain Chui is freelancing as a photographer, art director and cinematographer. He has been involved in many local indie film projects, which Lucky7 and Invisible Children as the bigger ones. Interestingly, his msn moniker goes by `Cinderella'. I finally understand why. He is a big fan of fairytales and in his own words still has the `peter pan' complex in him. His maiden directing effort in a short film was `The Windcatcher' which is of the fairytale genre, something not commonly done in the Singapore indie circuit. Perhaps the most famous one is `A Wicked Tale' by Mervyn Tzang. So here is my attempt to `break the wind'.
Jeremy (J): Is this your first film?
Cain (C) : I would like to warn you though I'm feeling rather intellectually challenged today.
J: Dont worry just be honest and sincere, think it will be better appreciated.
C: Yes it is my first film directing
J: So what inspired this film? Or is it something you always wanted to make?
C: I guess i have always been somewhat inspired by faerietales which was what this film is essentially a fairytale.
J: Oooh interesting!
C: It was an idea conceptualized by my co-director actually.
J: Let's talk about the fairy tales part first! (pause) Why are you inspired by fairytales?
C: It's largely due to me being still somewhat drawn towards the idea of childhood. To many extents I believe I don't want to grow up I guess I sort of suffer from some peterpan complex
J: Haha! Fairytales can be quite complex if youchoose to think about them in a certain way
C: They most certainly are which is what I love about them theres always the external layer which is whimsical and lovely, whereas the underlying ones could represent many other things.
J: So what is your film about ?
C: It is about a boy who finds freedom under the influence of a man who is in love with the wind. Mmmm....`under the influence' sounds very wrong.
J: Haha! (pause) Can you explain your story a little bit more? I mean the wind cerainly sound very fairytae but I am sure the obssession with the wind represents something?
C: The idea of the man being in love with the wind was conceptualized by my co-director.
J: Oh yeah, who he/she?
C: He is Mohd Idham. (pause) Back to wind, guess its the idea of being in love with something one is unable to attain.
J: Nice.
C: He derived it from a very personal experience of his which i could relate to very well.
J: Which is....? A lost love I guess. C: But of course the wind could be a significance of so much more than that.
J: I can now begin to see why your script had its favourable reception. In fact, the content makes me not know where to start asking questions,(beat) I have too many. (pause) Ok, may you could share a little more about the storyline?
C: But wouldn't divulging too much spoil the anticipation if one should decide to view it?
J: Okay... then maybe could you share what you wanted to express or the questions you wanted to ask?
C: Ultimately, our idea for the film was just to create a nice faerietale which everyone could relate to hopefully. Just something that people would be able to appreciate over the years like how the stories of Hans Christian and other great creators of fairytales have done so over the years. J: You did mention when you made it, it had a slightly different output from what you wanted?
C: The direction was not that strong it didnt turn out as intense as i hoped it would be perhaps, but its really left to another's own opinion. (beat) I just never like anything I do.
J: What an artist!
C: Thank you!
J: Could it be cos you were co-directing?
C: No lah. Cannot say like that.
J: I mean I am not putting down either, just saying that co-directing is mostly difficult.
C: It is known to be abit more difficult but we got along fine we were mostly on the same page most of the time. (pause) I guess it was probably a slight lack in experience or perhaps a little too ambitious.
J: I have one curious question : how do you portray the wind? C: To break it down I would say one half freedom one half ethereal goddess. The usage of the wind is partially due to the fact that its part of a quadrology
J: Wow! Okay that would generate too many questions but I would stop here. (pause) By the way i have one last question....what is your all favourite fairytale?
C: Oh my never really thought about it. (pause) Can i say Edward Scissorhands since this is with regard to film?
J: Why this one?
C: Because its horrendously depressing.
J(in his mind): Cain Cain Cain.............

5th Singapore Short Cuts - The New World by K Rajagopal

Screening The New World among the other shorts made it look a little out of place. It was structured to fit into the National Museum's Digital Homelands Project. I would imagine it would probably fit very well into the format of an interactive exhibit. It uses a pretty linear and informative narrative and even has a short update on the development plans on the old site of the New World.

This is the 4th time I have actually watched The New World since it had been available online since January. It is still playing. I watched it the first time because I was involved in it. The second I watched it was because I loved Jacintha's voice. The third time I watched was because I was feeling depressed and wanted to feel passionate again about life. So evidently, it has been a very good companion to my life in 2008. Coincidentally, it is funny that this companionship mirrors the storytelling in The New World - that a boy's love for The New World amusement park was intertwined with his love for his father. When one perished the other followed suit in a kind of parallel ending to the story.

To recount it, the story begins with a little boy who always yearned to go to The New World. Amusement rides aside, the focal point of attraction was always the cinema, self-referencing the filmmaker. This was where an experiment with surrealism pays off. Vintage photos of the New World, movie stars, movie sets are projected onto the white unform the boy was wearing, as if allowing us to see what the boy was marvelling about. Sitting beside him a fatherly figure stretches out his palm to hold the boy in a gesture of affection and protection. The icing on the cake is really the nostalgic sound design. Sound bites ranging from the 60s Shaw Brother's movie intros to cartoon effects transport me back in time instantaneously.

8 years later, repeating the same soft-focus tracked shot, we learn that the boy has grown up and is a fresh-looking curious young man. The same whiteness of the uniform conceals a heart that is ready to explore new territory. In the cinema, the darkness now takes on a different ambience, something more sensual. Coupled with the starting notes of Jacintha's `Moon River', I braced myself for the magic moment again. While I will always remember at how the dancer sways and swoon at the silhouetted kiss, I often forget that shooting this scene itself was also a moment to remember. Two strangers, Kathryn and Benjamin, turned up on Saturday afternoon, and were given little time to improvise the scene. While Benjamin is a look of virility, he is apparently young and unexposed. Kathryn was professional enough to take the lead although she seemed too practised for the role. Then under the glare of the redheads, they danced like there was no one watching. While I sat behind the tracks blocked from full view, I could still see Benjamin's giggles and unassured mannerisms amidst the swaying feather boas. But in a kind of serendipitous way, his tears (which I heard from Raja) were hidden from my view, only to be revealed a month later in the final video.

The boy's trips to the cinema did not end with losing his innocence. Like reading a book of life, he wanted to watch on. In a kind of circular fashion, the sound bites have run the whole gamut of genres like comedy, horror, adventure etc. missing only one that was reserved for the final moment - tragedy. Excerpts from a Hindi movie are juxtaposed over the boy's watery eyes as he watches on. In the next moment, his father's death is signalled, marking the last chapter of the film. Interestingly in my interpretation, not all was lost with the father's death. The New World may have been reduced to debris but one thing remained everpresent - cinema.

5th Singapore Short Cuts - Dreams of Youth by Daniel Hui

`Dreams of Youth’, the title sound like a direct translation from a Chinese title, which probably comes in 4 words sounding a little proverbial. But apparently, it is not. But like the usual Chinese film titles, the meaning in this is as layered as the story in the film. Like a dream, the narrative is loose. But its feeling is subtly affecting. A friend of mine who worked on the film told me it was about a boy who was basically walking about here and there. Immediately, my mind conjured easily a handful of local films about people walking here and there! But watching the film proved otherwise, the plot points were fairly discernible. It tells of a boy about to embark on journey into a new chapter of his life and gets a token taste of the twists and turns life would bring.

Our journey with Wei Tian (the character’s name) begins in his bedroom where his desk faces a window with a hallucinatory aura created by the billowing translucent curtains. Nothing really happens in the house. He breaks for lunch and we are introduced to his gentle mum (Daniel’s mother incidentally) who serves the food with so much patience and dedication that the scene oozes with homeliness that you could even feel in a crowd-filled auditorium. Then, a tracked shot across day-to-day conversations at the dining table brings us to an empty corridor fading out into whiteness and its title. A balmy shot of a sleeping Wei Tian woken up by his mother supposedly marks the start of this journey.

We find ourselves next in the school corridor in which a buddy conversation takes place between Wei Tian and his rotund schoolmate. What follows is 2 minutes of de-ja-vu that made me remember the aimless banters about school life and tests! Moving on, hints are dropped about his goals and desires. At the water cooler, he gazes at an athletic female fellow student though nothing more is explained about her relation to the story. Then, at a school test, a relief teacher borrows a calculator and leaves a phone number for him to contact her for it. Perhaps, no need to explain this. Back at home, his mother finds a letter for him from the university in Australia accepting his application. Independent events they are but if you’ve been a student before, you know what they amount to when they over lap and fill your adolescent consciousness.
It is not difficult to imagine the world of Wei Tian’s mind if you have been through Junior College or a high school equivalent. Also, it is evident that the script accurately captures the sense of transience he has about his life in school knowing that a new chapter is beckoning in Australia. However, its execution was loose, causing the storytelling to lose it balance of emphasis occasionally. I felt in certain instances, a singular distant gaze was not good enough to know a person, like the object of his desire, the athlethic girl. And of even greater significance was his close encounter with the relief teacher who came to return the calculator. This scene very much displayed Daniel's sensitivity in treating his subject. Wei Tian shivers with anxiety as the relief teacher coaxes her way into the flat, using the excuse of using the telephone. Like a pro, she starts cosying up to him while he trembles like the lid of the boiling pot. Unfortunately, the hormones churn to a premature ending and the scene cuts to the aftermath in her car, obliterating some potentially important emotional shifts of a `first time’. So having tasted the forbidden fruit, we are not sure what Wei Tian is feeling and how it relates to his anticipation of his journey to Australia.

But adamant in its way of distancing its subjects, Dreams of Youth does deliver moments derived from keen observation of life. In one, his ecstatic conversation with his mother over the phone about his university acceptance is juxtaposed over a lingering shot on his buddy who probably yearns as much to escape. On the day of his departure, a shot is held on the mother’s conversation with her husband about missing Wei Tian when he is gone. Her back is turned to the camera but the stoicism of her voice belies a palpable sense of helplessness. Personally, I would have preferred understanding the characters at an even closer distance than was presented. For all its maturity in understanding life’s choices and dilemmas, characters come and go too easily. Wei Tian was like living in a bubble, never really able to reach out enough to the poeple around him. As for me, I could not decide if I was with him inside looking at the world through its rainbow-tinted film or watching him from outside through grown-up eyes.

animal family mugshots

HEADLINE: Constable Tooty Cleans Up The Family

suede - CAUGHT! gave false information to get $1m reward for capture of puss selamat "thorry lar thir, i thot i thaw a limp."

rosie - CAUGHT! forgery and abuse of animal family funds
"sir, i swear, not for personal gain."

chaplin a.k.a. chappy chap - CAUGHT! brokering kidney between downstairs stray cat and upstairs fat cat
"one want to buy, one want to sell, i only want to help."

calico - CAUGHT! stealing squirt bottle from utility camp
"i was confused."

Crime Boss Still At Large!

A Funeral and The Law of Grieving

You just grieve. That's the single Law of Grieving. You grieve and hopefully, you'll some day move on.

I reached back home that Thursday morning and I was still on time to witness how my father's body was still lying on the table waiting to be placed into the coffin.

There's a little prayer before that. I don't really care. I just wanted to be left alone with my father so I was angry with the well-intention 'outsiders' who came & sing the prayers.

And I was ashamed that these 'outsiders' must witness me shedding tears for my father. Yeah, especially that.

But the grief just surged from my chest to my throat. Burnt my eyes till tears trickled. Couldn't be resisted.

And I was not alone. My mother & my siblings were apparently battling their hell of misery. We cried silently as the song continued.

With the grief came along all those memory of the times I spent with my dad. Those memory that I evidently did not treasure--nevertheless never buried & laid forgotten, either.

Afterwards the body was lifted into the coffin.

And for a day, the coffin was left unclosed for those 'outsiders' to come & pay respect. The siblings & I took turn to host them. Just realized how the guests--beside giving their last goodbye to my dad--also did their best to distract us from being sad.

It became a sort of reunion for us. Where we started to catch up what happened in one another's life. Nice, warm feeling & there were laughters without any frowning at us.

Then came Friday when the night we would have a Requiem Mass. A Bible reading from the Book of Job--not the whole chapters, just about Job's First Test. More prayers & more songs. The same songs which reminded us just the day before when we had to see how frail my dad looked as he was laid into the coffin. Salt water wells in my eyes, one singer might once say. Damn right. It was salty.

The Mass was ended with we all pouring an oil onto my dad, followed by closing of the coffin.

On Saturday, we continued to play host for the guests. And I learnt more about my dad's youth which he did not share to his family. Remorse again as I knew how bad I had been as his son for not trying to get to know my father when he was still alive.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. I should have known & practised that!!

Sunday came & it's the time for my dad to be cremated. Another session of songs & prayers which we ended with us putting flowers along the perimeter of the coffin.

It was subsequently sent to the crematorium furnace. As the coffin entered the retort, we slipped to another level of grief.

Two hours passed & we're allowed to see the dry bone fragments. These would be pulverized using a cremulator to produce the ashes or the cremains. They were stored into an urn.

Previously my siblings had chosen a spot in a columbarium nearby so we walked there with me holding the urn & my nephews & nieces carrying my dad's photo, a cross, a rosary and flowers.

We placed the urn at the columbarium spot sized 37 cm width, 38 cm height & 50 cm depth. Another session of prayers & songs before we muttered our final farewell which was also the moment my father's younger brother finally broke down & cried.

It's time to move on--literally & figuratively speaking, for sure--but I know I would do my best to return home this coming weekend for the memorial mass held at the columbarium.

Ironic how I tried to be closer with my dad only after he left this world.

nooka sightings: lil wayne

i was sent these photos of lil wayne, an opera singer from new jersey. the yellow zub looks great on him.

5th Singapore Short Cuts - My Blue Heaven by Chai Yee Wei

There was no time think before you even say the famous 7 word Hokkien phrase that your mother would not be proud to hear. It must be fun to be on the set of `My Blue Heaven’. Every character gets his or even her chance to say it. Which must be one reason why the film (this appeared in the end credits) was `not supported, assisted, funded by the Singapore Film Commission’. But who cares! It was by far the crowd favourite. If they kept this version or maybe trimmed it a little, it could even be a hit beyond the boundaries of Singlish, Hokkien, Southeast Asian-Mandarin speaking territories.

Insiders to the production will know Yee Wei has several cuts of `My Blue Heaven’. I wonder…… First Cut, Director’s cut, MDA cut, YouTube cut, XTube cut…. Oops! I was no stranger to the production having visited the set and read the script. The final film that I saw today was a surprise from the script because it allowed me to visualize how a pandemonium of ideas could still blend so well together into a coherent film. His synopsis read that this film was supposed to be tribute to 80s porn, old HDB flats, Ah Kuas and basically everything on that late 70s, early 80s era. I am generally skeptical of tributes simply because they often lack invention and tend to be too convenient. Even the use of the familiar `Blue Danube’ in the trailer reinforced the idea of a borrowed ambience.

`My Blue Heaven’ follows a strong story thread, unlike what its loose synopsis suggests. A restless little boy (quite a sparkle on the screen) lives with his singlet-wearing pot-bellied violent father who drinks, smokes, deals in drugs and watches porn. The house is plastered with erotic posters of Japanese porn stars amidst other old-fashioned furniture ups the retro-quotient of the production. They live in a HDB flat where the lift is often spoilt and colourful characters are abound. There is the never-say-die `Ah Soh’ video-tape saleswoman played by Catherine Sng. She sports a `Kung Fu Hustle-inspired curly hairdo’ and behaves with the same amount of theatrics. Then, there are the 3 `Ah Kua’s or faggots who loiter around on the ground floor. Evidently, the environment is `complicated’ and growing up is either a tough or colourful experience, which sets up the story for its explosive confrontation later on.

In an establishing scene, while the father is making his way home, the boy is ploughing through stacks of `Lao Fu Zi’ comics, signaling his boredom in the most remarkable way – a second’s glance at each comic cover and a repetitive sarcastic laugh. When the father comes home, within a second , he starts getting abusive verbally in an auto-pilot fashion, only to get his son to eat his lunch (guffaw!). Earlier on, the Ah Soh was knocking doors trying to clear her stock. Then comes one of its definitive scenes – closing the deal with the abusive father. Words will not do justice to the wittiness of it and the electrifying acting. On word, it will be a classic! Moments later, the boy is watching Pinocchio on video while his father is wasting no time in putting his purchase to good use – in the toilet. Here comes one of the many sub-climaxes. Oops, I did again! Another unintended phallic pun. You can’t blame me. Pinocchio. Bananas. And `spanking the monkey in the toilet’. All happening at the same time.
The other aspect of the film which I thought was noteworthy is the ability to meld several subplots coherently. In the build up to the climax, the father received a call from some dubious characters about some stocks of drugs and has to keave the house for a while. This sets up the opportunity for our endearing boy lead to check out the videotape `My Blue Heaven' which his Dad bought from the Ah Soh. At this time, a new character is introduced, the policeman (albeit more like an NPCC boy). And Ah Soh is still working hard floor to floor and gets trapped in the faulty lift (already established right at the beginning). So the policeman comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, on watching `My Blue Heaven', things are happening to him below the waist. Father completes his `mission' faster than expected and heads back. In the living room, the tape stops working and er..... o-oh, the tape strips are stuck! I guess by now, it is not difficult to expect something explosive to happen.

Okay, perhaps the climax was not too surprising but the well-timed execution and bold direction delivered what was a potent mix of suspense and laughs. If you expected a caning scene from the father, you are not too far from the answer but this child is clever! And somehow, both the Ah Soh and the rookie-looking policeman get involved in the assault. An assault on the senses. And your funny bones.

I had one grouse though, too much info after the explosion. And the lingering on necessitated some visuals which were filled by stills (that seem to suggest the lack of motion shots). Yee Wei needs another cut that I call the `short cut'. To leave the audience with a drop of what happens and let us do the `fantasizing'.

5th Singapore Short Cuts - Reflections by Ho Tzu Nyen

Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. New wisdom can be found by simply turning the leaf to the other side or reading something the other way round. `Reflections’ is an inventive twist of an old fable that sheds light on society. I would imagine it can apply to any society even though it could very well be an allusion on our own.

Our story begins in a stylized set in which walls are lined with cardboard, beds and pillows are nothing but stacks of cardboard sawed into shape and an ancestral tablet is a piece of cardboard with a diagonal cross marked at the top (not sure if Buddhist (Swastika??) or Christian (cross). Complementing the sense of being `boxed-up’ is the absence of windows or any opening to the outside world. On top of that, we are surprised right at the beginning with the use of children for adult characters.

Long ago, lived a boy and his father (hair powdered in an artificial way to look old), who was very ill. Before his death, the boy granted his father’s wish to get married. And so enters an equally young-looking pixie faced `wife’. While the homogeneous use of children in dramas in not new, this is more like a step closer to South Park, in which children re-enact adult-themed dramas, without sex, violence, gore and vulgarities. Therein lies the inherent and rather clever humour of the mis-en-scene. While I faithfully followed the crisply narrated story, the other part of my mind was laughing at the limitations of the children’s dramatic range. For sure, I was not expecting nuanced performances but one really cant help when children express feelings like extra-marital jealousy.
One day, the husband wanted to get out of the village to see the big city. Bringing with him a bag of gold coins, he set off, passing through what looked like a canal. The boy, oops, I mean the husband, together with our suspension of disbelief, brought us to the `city’ where Tangs was actually having a sale. The choice of the shooting the emergence from the Orchard Underpass surprisingly evoked a very big `city’ feeling making Orchard Road seem more glitzy than it usually does. He wanders into a mirror shop and this is where he makes his discovery. Looking into the mirror, he gets rapturous over seeing what he thought was his father (though only his reflection). Willingly, he surrendered all his gold coins in exchange for that.

Back home, what ensued was the crux if the film’s brilliance. The wife gets worried over her husband’s obsession with the mirror and wanted to see for herself what was inside. She saw a beautiful face, but her insecurity leads her to conclude her husband brought home a mistress. Like a drop of water in a still pond, ripples form and turn into chaotic waves. The mirror dragged the other families into the chaos, leading similar conclusions in each family. And in my mind, a simple thought like a reflection grew into an epiphany. The villagers could no longer resolve this among themselves and approached the village nun for fair judgement. Alas, she found a solution, though it was one that was flawed in the same way as the villagers’ fallacy. I was not sure where the old fable stopped and the scriptwriter’s craft began. For it was a seamless story told. Interestingly, placed among the other more `sentimental’ shorts, it was hard to spare a moment of after thought for this. It is an intellectually rewarding piece but somehow a little lacking in heart despite having kids in the execution of it. Though a clever and disciplined effort, the film forgot to milk what’s inherent in children, the ability to be spontaneous and vulnerable. Most of the time, they were simply executing instructions like a classroom exercise, enslaved to the script of the directions, just like the characters in their little cardboard enclosures.

Justo Cascante III's Naked Creature Gets Cozy with Tree

In Justo Cascante III's cartoon-inflected and surrealistic "Dig Life" we have a naked figure halfway up a tree where it sticks its head inside a hole in the trunk. On the other side of the tree-trunk, just about level with our creature's crotch, a water faucet is cheekily attached. Two other sparsely-leaved trees appear in the distance under a bright blue sky dotted with cottony clouds. In this arid land of bare trees, no birds sing, no woodland nymphs prance and no wildlife frolic. The tree seems to be the only source of comfort, sustenance and stability. While the title reminds me of the old hippie slogan: Life's A Garden, Dig It, the landscape here is more T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land."

The artist seems to be saying that Nature, like Art, is our solace from the burdens of existence. Life becomes less intolerable with nature. Nature comforts us if we embrace it. Either that, or it's just funny to watch a naked guy with his head stuck inside a tree!

Justo Cascante shares some thoughts about "Dig Life."

Title. Dimensions. Medium. Year finished.
JC: The title of the work is "Dig Life." 12 x 16 inches , oil on canvas. 2006.

What were you trying to explore with this painting?
JC: I painted this as part of a set I called Happy Painting. There were three important considerations I had in mind when I began this work. I wanted to re-invent, restructure and discover new ways of dealing with form and I wanted to show my fascination with space and color.

I am attracted to the beauty I find in nature. Blue skies and puffy clouds: these are what catches my attention and where time stops for me. Nature transports me--even for just an instant--to a place where I feel that I am part of this world, this life.

Art is an attempt to capture the richness of life's experiences. My art changes as I go along. I do not inhibit this change, it comes as I work and it is as if it has a life of its own as it diverges from what I thought to be my original concepts.

Slowly, I see new forms emerge from my works. The experience of creation and seeing transformations take place before me become a fascination that somehow makes me feel I am no longer the master of my creations, but merely participating in the final outcome. It feels like watching a movie: the impulse and spontaneity of the brush I wield reveals an outcome I had not anticipated.

From the narrative point of view of my works, my concern was how to balance form and substance. I had to be conscious of the visual elements of the story I wished to tell. This reflects my discipline in the field of animation and movie-making, my fascination with illustration and comic books.

Emotions play an important part in art. This painting is part of a collection that was triggered by personal tensions that needed to be released. My works offered me a kind of balance that revealed both the beauty of nature and the poignancy of this life.

What do you intend to say with "Dig Life"?
JC: Like a code that needs to be deciphered, my art can be viewed in many ways. Interpretation becomes the responsibility of my viewers. I leave the dissection to them.

I am a simple man with a complex story. The burden of my complexity is but mine alone. I therefore leave it to the viewers to tease out the narratives from my works.

Were you still in the Philippines when you painted it? Or you were already established in Hong Kong when you made it?
JC: I was already working in Hong Kong for 13 years when I painted it.

Tell us a bit about your current projects. You are a 3D animator?
JC: I was a 3D animator for many years, but now I'm more of an illustrator who occasionally does 3D animation. I just finished a four-man show titled "Chronicles of Pain Colored" at OSAGE Gallery and will join another collaborative work about balikbayan boxes with different Filipino artist mostly based in other countries. I just finished illustrating a book called "Sex in Hong Kong" and now I'm excitedly preparing for my half-bird half-human masked series which tackles hybrid culture.

Where can people go to see your works?
JC: You can visit my website and my illustration blog.

Thank you.

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