Sunday, September 15, 2013

A New Decision

The following is a portion of my first diary entry. The parts that are not included in this entry are personal.
After what seemed like a permanent hiatus, I've finally decided to start a diary again. The last time I kept a diary was in my primary school days. I probably had a rather romantic notion about diary keeping which was why I started it then. None of the pages from my childhood still exists. I probably threw it out the last time I cleared my room. Then again, my childish musings could hardly be of any use save for nostalgic amusement. I certainly was no Anne Frank.

This time, I was inspired to restart this habit by two articles that I read today - both of them from The Art of Manliness. The first article was an excerpt from Arnold Bennett about existence and the act of writing a diary. The second article is a more straightforward article about how and why one should start a diary. After giving much thought about it, I realise that both articles have a kernel of truth in it. Besides, now that I'm turning 23 and have been blessed with a decent education, perhaps my thoughts and secrets would be of use to someone - be it my future self or otherwise. The challenge ahead is to be consistent about it.

Those who know me personally will be surprised that I've chosen an electronic medium to write my diary since I'm mostly averse to technology. It would be a beautiful thing if I could spend a couple of hours to write into a leather bound diary with a fountain pen. Alas, I don't have the luxury of time nor - considering that this is a long term activity - the physical space to keep the diaries. I've thought of starting a private blog but that means I'll not write my most intimate thoughts in it for the fear of someone hacking it or accidentally making the post public through my own blunder. As such, the current arrangement - whatever that is - is the best compromise.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pieces of Memory: Butterfly Florida Water

I recently saw this in a neighbourhood shop and often wondered what it is used for. Prior to this sighting, the only recent contact I had with this product was at a Chinese barber. After a decent hair cut, the elderly barber poured this green liquid into a spray bottle and watered me as if he wanted hair to grow out of my neck. After ensuring that nothing out of the ordinary was happening to my neck, I noticed the scent. It reminded me of my childhood - that soothing and comfy scent of baby powder. As the reminiscence ended and I saw that it was selling for $1.90, I was very tempted to buy it but I hesitated. What exactly is it used for? Was it meant for women? What exactly is Florida Water?

Being a lazy nerd, I decided to consult what some would term as the "fount of all knowledge" and consulted wikipedia as well as source for some reviews about the product. To my relief, I found out that it's not strictly meant for women despite the packaging and that it is often used as a form of body splash or deodorant. The reviews for this product were neutral. Most of them complained that the scent does not stay for long but they liked the fact that the burning sensation is not very strong (there were some who felt that this was a bane). With this information at hand, I happily forked out a cent shy of two dollars. 

Having used it daily for two weeks, I'm happy to report that the money was very well spent! My memory of the scent was accurate and I love the powdery smell. While others may prefer a more masculine and woody tone, I prefer the way it is. The powdery scent helps to mask odours better than other scents. As for its staying power, it stayed for about three hours which I think is long enough - if you want to have a scent all day then use a cologne. The burn is negligible but it is certainly not advisable to apply it on freshly shaven areas or you'll be performing a jig as you'll be hopping around in pain. 

But the episode with the barber was not the very first contact I had with Butterfly Florida Water. I remember seeing rather often in mini marts and mama shops when I was young. It was for this very reason that I noticed the barber using it and the bottle sitting on the shelf in the first place. What I'm really interested in is how is it used by the previous generations? No one in my family seems to have used it or seen it in action which is really unfortunate.   

Have you used this product when you were young? Do you know of anyone from the old generation that used this? Tell me in the comments below! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Would Appreciate If...

Have you heard of conversations such as when A says to B, "I would appreciate if you could inform me much earlier before hand in the future..."? Taking the phrase "I would appreciate if" as it is - without any context attached to it - the phrasing seems to be of a rather polite disposition. It seems to function as a prelude to the actual point you want to make - to soften the blow for the listener.

In contrast, a person equipped with a sharp tongue that draws blood with every sentence would say, "In the future, please inform me earlier" or worse still , "You better inform me earlier in the future!" Yet, in reality, conversations with the prelude tend to contain a confrontational undertone - no doubt, in varying degrees. Rather than softening the blow, it seems to be an avenue in which confrontations can be made without going into the profane. Can anyone think of an instance in which it is not confrontational?
As such, I often wonder if it is the case of the language evolving over time or has it always been used this way? Finally, if starting your request with "I would appreciate if" feels confrontational, what are the alternatives? I am not sure if there is a right answer to this one. But I would always phrase it like this:
"Hi, erm... I know it may be difficult in certain circumstances but is it possible that I am notified earlier for future events? Thanks!"
What do you all think? Am I being silly for pondering over such a minor issue? Leave your comments below...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Scorecard

As the summer holidays come to an end, I thought I should write a little post just to keep track of what I have done. I decided to change the template of my blog because I felt it was getting too cluttered and the browns and beiges of the previous template made it worse. Hopefully this simple template will be much more pleasant to the eye and that my readers can focus on the words rather than the bells and whistles. Despite promising to blog more in my previous post, I realised that I have not written one word for this blog and I apologise. However, I still did quite a bit of writing. 

For starters, I wrote three articles for The Kent Ridge Common (KRC). The first is a review of Singapore Dance Theatre's 25th Anniversary Gala. While my opinions of the show are not worth repeating here (click the link!), I was surprised by a couple of things. Although entering the professional dance scene is not a popular option and fraught with many obstacles, it is sad that not even a seventh of the company are made up of locals. Also, where are our local boys? It has been ages since we had Goh Choo San. With the government starting to focus a little bit more on the arts, let us hope that this will change. Speaking of Goh,  it is  a pity that he is not widely known by Singaporeans because he is clearly a talented choreographer. Before the show, I knew that he was a famous dancer but I am ignorant of how much he had achieved in his rather short life. Imagine my surprise when I found out that he even choreographed for Baryshnikov! Perhaps, we should dance to a different beat and celebrate Singapore not by looking at various statistics or rankings but at individuals - especially our pioneers - who really excelled in what they do. 
The next two articles are related to the Cantonese opera scene. The first of which is a review of a biography of opera doyenne, Joanna Wong. Her life is such an amazing story of passion, perseverance and love. She is really an inspiration for anyone intending to pursue the arts. The other article is a feature of the Chinese Theatre Circle's teahouse at 5 Smith Street. It was an evening well spent and anyone looking for a different sort of entertainment and enrichment should call up and make reservations.
Aside from writing articles, I am glad that I managed to write a short story and a poem for the Golden Point Awards and Goh Sin Tub competition respectively. As the competition is still going on, I am not at liberty to discuss my work here. However, I would like to thank Filipino writer, Joni Cham (author of In My Mother's House) for her help with my short story. It is such a waste that I did not have enough time to incorporate her suggestions into my final draft but I will edit it perhaps in December. Many thanks also to Jerrold Yam (Chasing Curtained Suns, Scattered Vertebrae) for his comments on my poem that spanned over many drafts.
The notion that writing and reading going together has been repeated by almost every writer out there. I am glad that I managed to read more books over the summer than I would in two semesters combnined. In no order of preference, the books I read are:
All Broken Up and Dancing by Kelvin Tan
Rickshaw Reporter by George L Peet
Red Dot Irreal by Jason Erik Lundberg
Chinese Theatre by Fu Jin
Tales from Beijing Opera by Huang Shang
Origins of Chinese Opera by Fu Chunjiang

Chasing Curtained Suns by Jerrold Yam
Speaking of writing and writers, I have decided to start a writer's blog. I was a little hesitant at first because it may come across as a rather pretentious move. Who am I to start such a blog when I have not published a book? Cognizant of that fact, I openly declare that I am an aspiring writer. Basically, the blog contains all my thoughts and experiences with writing. It is also a portfolio that allows me to keep track of all the articles and works I have written in case I need to fish out writing samples for job applications. It is also a sign of commitment as a friend once told me that if I want to succeed, I should take myself seriously be it as an actor or a writer. In any case, in the event that I fail, deleting the blog is only a click away. For the precious few of you who are used to this blog and hate to toggle between two blogs, fret not. I will post a quick announcement whenever there is a new post on the writer's blog.
So the final tally for this summer: 3 articles, 1 poem, 1 prose, 2 blog posts, 1 new blog, 7 books.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sophomore Summer


After what seems to be an eternity, my summer break is finally here. The usual response is to fling all sorts of limbs in the air, do a jig and paint the town red. Unfortunately, I'm not the usual. It's the third day of my holidays and I'm inexplicably feeling out of sorts. Looking back at the semester that has just passed, I still wonder how I even survived it. Yes I know, as a friend told me last night, I say the same thing every semester. But this is by far the worst semester ever. I usually have a wee bit more pleasure than pain but the balance has been disproportionately inversed this semester.

So what lies ahead this summer? I intend to be a juggler and find part-time/freelance work that allows me to balance IPT/RT, flamenco and my writing. If I don't find any work, I shall dip my toes into the world of being a full time writer and try to produce a body of work for two writing competitions. Of course, I'm aware that I'm no where near calling myself a writer. More importantly, I have the luxury of just focusing on the writing and not having to worry about making ends meet. For that, I'm grateful. Another writing project, on top of the two competitions mentioned, that I may embark on would be to re-write a play. I took a playwriting module the past semester hoping to discover if that genre is right for me and that the stress of time and grades would make me a disciplined writer. Tragically, the final product was far from satisfactory and I hope to take it back to the drawing board and do it slowly this time.
Of course, I also intend to blog more this summer as a form of keeping track of my writing progress just to keep the grooves oiled and to maintain my acquaintance with words and flashes of expression. So here's to a much better summer that I'm currently experiencing. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


Caucasian woman blowing a kiss

Recently, The Writers Club held a little contest in which they asked people to compose any sort of literary work to the theme of Kiss as they were going on Kiss 92 for an interview. Here's my submission that they liked but unfortunately did not made it to the final edited broadcast due to time constraints.
Personally, it was written for fun and I certainly did not expect it to get selected. It is the sort of throw-away poems that one writes just to get into the groove of writing again. But for whatever attention it received, I am grateful.


 Of three kinds do you exist:
a desire, craze and memory.

Villainous you are to plague young
minds with dreams of princes and
third bases.

But blessed you are to lovers all
round as bliss accompanies these crazes.

Yet bitter you are with Love's death;
a parting gift from my missus.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Inheriting A Skill

This holiday, I have inherited a skill from my mum. It is a skill that borders on an obsession. For those who have seen any book that I own, it would definitely be wrapped skilfully in clear plastic by my mum. Being a bibliophile, my mum insists that books must be wrapped in order to preserve its shelf life (pun intended). If she were to see any unwrapped book, she would immediately find scissors, scotch tape and clear plastic and wrap it in a jiffy. As such, wrapped books become a norm for me growing up and slowly but surely, I start to develop this particular quirk myself - the leaf doesn't fall far from the tree does it? As it is rather unreasonable to get my mum to wrap the mountains of books that I own (and sadly have not read), I decided to make full use of this holiday and get her to teach me. Interestingly, the process of learning it and actually wrapping the books myself took on a whole new meaning for me. 

There is really something about personally wrapping the books that you own. I'm always in awe of artisans and craftsmen who are able to create stuff with their hands. While wrapping a book is not an astounding skill, the process of cutting the plastic, lining the book and seeing the final product while knowing that the book would not last as long had it not been wrapped gives me a dash of pleasure. Also, for someone who is utterly hopeless at anything vaguely resembling art and craft, this is something of an achievement for me.

Another thing that strikes me about this activity is a form of intimacy established between the books that you own and yourself. In wrapping the books, a host of other processes are happening at the same time as well. I'll look at the cover, read the synopsis at the back, flick through the pages, be transported back and remember why I picked this book up and perhaps make a mental note that I should read it soon. This tactile relationship often rekindles my liking for the books that I may have bought a while back.

Finally, the fact that I learnt how to wrap the books from my mother is amazing as it gives me another thing to remember her by. It must be something to do with the fact that I am growing old but I love how little things such as this establish a link between my mum and I. While many others would say that blood relations would suffice, I beg to differ. Being a biological child is nothing more than mere scientific fact. What establishes a parental link are memories of time spent together and little things being taught and learnt. That is more important than scientific fact for blood relations without such social memories are worthless. This is exemplified by Morgan Freeman comments of his father being a mere sperm donor in a conversation with Stephen Fry in the show, "Fry in America".

So wrapping a book, as humble an activity as it seems, is a wonderful experience for me.