Sunday, August 31, 2008


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Three Stories High

Still And Yet Still

Daniel Phillips Wise was sitting cross-legged on an old side chair in the balcony of his 4-room apartment when suddenly two things became apparent almost at the speed of light. He knew that by giving in to this realizations, he was most likely unable to concentrate on other things, such as the thoughts of buying his dream car before he reach the primal age of his life, or how it feels like to be able to synchronise swim among swans and gooses, or what are the better brands of chocolate in the market today that are best prescribed for a light aphrodisiac after-effects. He also knew that there was no time for him to call his girlfriend and tell her with utmost honesty how silly she actually looked when she donned the floral-printed, 50% magenta-coloured blouse which she bought from the bazaar sale at her company’s Family Day held in the Zoological Garden two days prior. What’s worse, he had no time to tell his mum how he managed to spend $1,457 within a week when he used her credit card to purchase a myriad of items that can be easily classified as ‘wants’ more than ‘needs’: and these include, among other things, 5 X-men X-traordinary figurines (Storm, Cyclops, Magneto, Gambit and Wolverine, with interchangeable headgears), The Completed Series of JJ Abrams’ Alias in 20 DVDs, an unlimited Adidas windbreaker from the States, 2 of the latest Ben Sherman weekender bags, one black and one grey, 5 wristbands (50% off when purchased online!) which he thought would look cool when worn together with his sleek waterproof wristwatches, 3 special edition v-neck t-shirts from Japan and an autographed poster of Jessica Marie Alba (complete with a clear-edge, UV-Protection frames) which he won from an auction in Ebay. There was really no time for any other things. Not even, for a second, to think about the little secret he found out in his workplace today, about Sonny’s and Ruth’s intimacy that goes beyond words. And about his Phuket trip next weekend and to Buenos Aires the week after – to think of them is a major no-no. The sudden realization had made him nervous and edgy. He wanted to shout out loud at that very awkward moment, but his vocal box was caught in a meteoric mind-trap. The only din was the electronic air-cooler, whirring with such deep, suppressing tone thusly providing a dramatic effect to the otherwise mundane scene in a first-time director’s movie script. Daniel Wise, who’s thin, pale and even older than he supposed to look at his age of 25, was numb. His feet were cold. His face, white as zilch. His nose was itchy but he could only wait before he could relief it from anything. The cigarette he smoked, which he held ever so lightly, flew off his bony fingers as the ashes threw themselves outwards and inwards in tiny million directions, animating an art in motion. Time was still, and yet still there was no time to think of any other (more critical) things, because Daniel Wise is not as wise as his name suggests. Because even after a minute from a potential life-altering discovery, he couldn’t bring himself to reaffirm that the two things, which became apparent not so long ago, was actually apparent enough to begin with. The methods of judgment cannot be inscribed at that juncture, for indeed, the junction was ambiguous. Not until tomorrow, when he would eventually rise to the occasion, and recollects about yesterday with a much sounder state of mind and a clearer point of view. Tomorrow, in the midst of giving meanings to all that is life, everything will be accounted for, but the unexplained remains a mystery to him and to those who stood patiently awaiting revelations and explanations. He and the likes will soon realize that life remains a challenge to be explained even long after the explanations have been done, and to be here, to be explaining at length will just not make this story any more boring or interesting depending on how you interpret it to be. The writer of this story, being someone like you and me who are generally storytellers in our own rights, kills his own words at the final hour, assuming his protagonist’s elusive character, unwise and unsure, hanging on a fine thread, shadowless, breathless and (to a certain extend) bloody pointless.

Love In The Age Of Plastic

Michael Jay Torres is in love. In an ordinary, seeming way, he could have poured his affection with ease, for he is an English lecturer in a local university, teaching students The Concepts of Narrative Paradigm and The Introductions to Schema Theory, both of which are his favourite subjects at the moment. What he could do, if he let his imagination runs wild, is to prepare his devotional statements a little bit off, a little strange perhaps, or something unexpected of, yet something which is very human. To be human, he would say to his students, is to detach oneself from the present notion of ideas. All must be unassuming. All must come without forethoughts. But again, here he is, planning with estimable detail of what could be the ideal programme for a relationship. For his first date, what he has in mind is to break his silence into two editorial columns: Part 1 - A Partial History of How The Feelings Flow (Past to Present) and Part 2 - The Romantic Effects On New Lovers From One Perspective To The Other. If both turned out successful, he would do the first follow-up teaser: Win A Diamond Ring on Your Second Date – Details In Your Copy of ‘L’Amore Herald’ Next Month! Following that, he would engage an information graphic designer for a special edition full-page article of his loving heart and its many functions, executed in illustrious charts and graphs and in full-colour 3d renderings. Three months later, he would do a full-scale review on their relationship, and even take in a few questions before the public to fill in any gaps or rumours associating him and his newfound lover. Half a year gone, and he would continue with his 3rd and last editorial columns to complete the love package deal: Part 3: The Reasons Why We Have To Know and Part 4: The Future Is Bleak When People Fall In Love In The Age Of Plastic, both of these will be written under his pseudonym: Johnnie Lurve. All that happens thereafter will be dealt with in specific forums which he’ll prepare at least three months before the third stage of this relationship: [A] Continuing The Pursuit Of Happiness In A Very Long-Term Relationship, [B] Of Sudden Break-Ups, Preventions and The Factors Affecting Such Events, [C] What We Talked About When We Talked About Settling Down, and [D] Many Ways to Separate Ways - Goodbye Lullabies For Emergency Exits. These he have to prepare with great care and concern, cause nothing is more dangerous than a mission without a plan, nothing more ridiculous than an idea without a process, nothing more dubious than a love story without an end. There can only be so much a thing he can do, and to do it now would require him to put any feelings of false pretext away. To be able to stand and face the challenges, he would have to strip himself bare from all the troubles. He has to move on, even one step at a time, to reach the place he longs to be. The amount of energy he needs to amass within him would be so great, no formula or machine are able to measure them up, and he knew this because he had been in this state before; he actually knew this because he had been in love before. He needs to voice up and pour down the feelings with all the details in mind because not doing so would be an injustice to him and his heart, and to be in denial would be the last thing he wants to be, and to lose everything would be better than not trying, because trying is his first line of defense, and that makes him ever hopeful to hear her said yes.

50-50 Chances

Billy Billy could have been in a much worse situation, except she’s not. She really would not give a damn about what actually happened, but something’s telling her that she needs to care about the sudden death of the auntie who lived right below her apartment. Her neighbour, a bonsai freak, who died a tragic death. She is reconsidering the factors. She’s making a case. She has no better issues to settle than to urge herself into believing that the dead auntie must have been poisoned. Purposively, with no chance or coincidence, a death made to look like an accident or the other way round. Looking at the corpse after sneaking into her dense floral nursery during the initial police investigation, it is safe to say that the auntie had been struck by a pot of bonsai, the one that she holds so dearly, the one with the root-over-rock style, the one that she always mentioned in her conversation with her best friends, the one she named after her late husband. It is an archetypical Japanese maple breed that somehow looks unbalance and untrimmed. In her mind, Billy Billy could only make out finite points on how such a hobby could have taken the auntie’s life away. Yet she diverted for a while, introspecting about the weapon of choice rather than the death at hand. Somehow, somewhat, the art of cultivating bonsai was of no interest to Billy Billy. The art of bonsai is an art without an end. There could be no finishing. No ending. You have to care for it since the plant keeps growing and expanding. And it is with this fad that the auntie with the green fingers lost her soul. What a strange way to meet your demise, Billy Billy thought. And then she goes on about her life thinking without really thinking, trying to put a face to the possible murder. The murderer whom she can only visualize as someone with an unsound mind and a body fueled by the desire to commit an act of random violence could have been a person of great interest to the auntie. Maybe a close relative, maybe a friend, another familiar neighbour? Or maybe her. Maybe Billy Billy could have killed the auntie herself. She could have killed her – and if she would, she will. Oh yes, while sleepwalking. That auntie who lives below her apartment, who once lived, oh yes, Billy Billy could have done her. A large pot of maple hit her hard in the falx cerebri, a head trauma ensues, intracranial bleeding within seconds. Possible, yes. Our dearest auntie would have checked out in no time. She’ll die even before she had the time to water the bonsai. No time at all. The auntie’s longing heart, that passion to form a greener planet and build this world with all things natural, her heart would be of no more. That neighbour of Billy Billy’s. The horticulturist. She’d killed her. Oh yes, it’s damn possible. The possibility is a good 50-50 chance. The possibility, at least for Billy Billy, has always been a 50-50 chance no matter the complexities of the predicament. Because life is so unpredictable, the odds of you getting hit by your own silliness is almost the same as anything else, and there is no escape from such probabilities. Billy Billy have other matters to mend to, and she feels safe, at least for now, at least before the police interrogates her about her fingerprints that seems to be appearing all over the unglazed pot of the dead auntie’s classical Japanese bonsai. Billy Billy wants a moment to feel safe. And to feel safe in such a moment would just not do the trick.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Situational Analysis

Probing the current situation for a larger context. Yet I am incessantly changing, even as we speak. Gosh!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Utterance In Content

I do not take any caffeine unless its’ really decaffeinated. I do not take any vitamins unless I feel so exasperated. I do not read the newsy news unless it’s set in Garamond. I do not get easily amused unless you dressed like Doraemon. I do not bring purple roses unless you came and sang to me. I do not sing mighty praises unless you dialed and rang for me. I do not share my loyal feelings unless you tell your life story. I do not care for any-somethings unless you try to fall for me. I am only but a lonely man with a pair of eyes and shaky hands, trying to understand and comprehend your senseless pretensions in full dimensions, and what’s with your appearance and stupid actions to certain apprehensions and your strange reactions when all my determination exceeds your expectations, I can be found without directions? I do not create a future vision unless it’s really necessary. I do not state a vital mission unless it’s really compulsory. I do not churn any ideas unless it’s only for good causes. I do not earn some extra dollars unless I read the fine clauses. Can you think before you talk, can you see before you walk? Can you sense the charming air in the very airy, starry stare. You are right, you are rare, can’t compare cause no one’s there. Can you make tomorrow better despite rainbows losing their colours? Find the chi in yin and yang, hold the bee before the bang. Bang the gong to seize the thang, freeze the moments with a little bang. Juxtaposed a steamy message, recomposed a dreamy passage, herd of words are reared to hurt, superimposed with weird presage. State the obvious for all the curious, quote Confucius with clear consensus, lying dry, sweet-talks pry, capricious but unpretentious. I do not cast potent mottos unless its’ you who bring the tools. I do not follow the new laws unless it’s you who make the rules. I do not have to go the distant unless you stood at the end of line. All I need is an anti-depressant, unless you start to change your mind. I am just but a gusty boy who cannot destroy this memory, stuck in history tragically, even naturally in philosophy I am damned for such tragedy, do not laugh, I don’t bluff, this is not a divine comedy. Even when I’ve faded away, gone yesterday, nothing stays? Even when our life stands still, gone today, nothings real? I do not make any amendments unless it’s really obligatory. I do not take your silly statements unless they are formed in a melody. Seek the reasons we won’t be. Dawn of seasons, throw the key. Come tomorrow we shall see. Gone forever, end of thee.

The above was written under the influence of Mefenamic Acid & the antiquated tunes affecting things past.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Blasting through the dark speakers, the music exposed with great amplitude. The general tonality was the sum of freaks drunk-shouting and the aural medleys of ravishing sound-colours that enthralled, entranced and encompassed within a nostalgic colonial setting. The night turned on when daylight switched off.

I was keen on rehashing the event with haste, but 2 days after, I was still not in the mighty best of mood to pen them down. So today, almost in a different shade of self, I am urged to record them in a decent entry as my mind speaks to me in a non-linear reverse.

Singfest ‘08 at Fort Canning Park was more than just a euphonious display of talents. With an array of artiste flooding the stage in two days, the genre was well spread to cater to all ages. In reality, the multipotent idea of alluring non-specific target audience could very well be an agenda to exceed sales quota (an handsome improvement from 2007 indeed). And Singaporeans will pay, no less, no matter how. The sold-out 2nd Day event is the classic case-in-point, as music-lovers of diverse generations spend their pennies (unlike me) to witness the final four defining acts that I believe (when coalesced) could easily woke Mas Selamat up wherever he may be: Jason Mraz, Rick Astley, Pussycat Dolls and Alicia Keys. These combinations could be musically lethal.

Technically, the first Day was dryly metallic, too rocky and too bold for the ears of many humans out there. Perhaps the only change was Melee (which was more or less very close to being metropopish) who created a strange timbre to the fading night. And essentially, Travis was the appropriate choice for an indie ending, even though Lostprophets stole the night with their rather wry in-house antics. As for the pop-punkers, namely Simple Plan and New Found Glory (as reported from a long-lost friend), their acts kept the rush pumping (or the pump rushing) as they usually does, though not uniquely distinct in terms of sound. But listening to them live certainly differs from listening to them through branded stereo headphones. Listening to them while bashing in the moshpit would be another episode all together.

On the Legend Stage, homegrown bands and DJ performed on both days to a modest crowd (was there even a crowd?). Nothing is more embarrassing than to see our local line-ups rendering their tunes without some tangible support. No other solutions surfaced. The internationalists win the game.

Come Day Two, we saw how Fort Canning turned humans into packs of sardines, as people from all walks of love stood shoulders to shoulders equip with music as the sole bonding agent. One Republic (as I sensed from the responsive exploding claps) was warmly received, while Panic At The Disco (unknowingly) managed to make the sound engineers panic as some technical glitches befell abruptly for a short moment in time. Everything else was just music after music, followed by the audiences’ stimulating reactions.

In my world, the following 5 stood out with lasting impact:

5. Dolled Up And Dropped By
I could easily place Lostprophets (or Simple Plan, for that matter) at No. 5. It was Pussycat Doll’s sing-a-long anthem ‘Don’t Cha’ that changed my mind within minutes. I am not (truth be told) a fan of these belles, but I am definitely stung (almost hypnotized) by their relentless energy and willpower to get into dance sequences without losing a beat, though I sensed that the earsplitting music was purposely done to cover their squeaky laughter and live-singing combo.

4. Traviscious
Poetically and phonetically correct, Scottish band Travis gave a little night music of noble proportion. Delivering a tight performance to be remembered for days to come, they presented fans’ favourite numbers with musical charisma, at times dramatizing over-the-top actions for fun fillers. Our legs and hands and minds were not where they supposed to be, as feets tapped, hands waved and bodies swayed to the pulsation of rhythms and harmonies. In summary, they were the cherry on top of Day One, inducing an eternal vibe beyond songs and lyrics.

3. Life Of The Rick And Famous
Last year’s Rickrolling phenomenon made Rick Astley a subject of fame. And this year, he came out from hiding and jumped right into the hot spotlight. Despite his age, he was truly sensational in every sense. He never gave up on us. He never let us down. He did run around (he went missing for 10 years!) but he certainly did not desert us. Call me old-fashion, and I’ll tell you that you are missing on some of the good stuffs in life.

2. Keys To Your Heart
C minor. B-flat major. E minor. F sharp. A minor. G. You name the keys and she can magically belt them into songs without restrain. Puissant voice, sweet ballads, solid executions, power-chord emotions and story of life co-existed with one another to paint a modern-day tone-poem. Alicia Keys' mini-concert (the longest of all performances, almost an hour and 45 minutes) was two-thumbs-up and two-hands-down. She came, she sang, she conquered. And everyone with a heart went home satisfied.

1. Mesmerizing Mraz
From his solid rhythmic intro-entrance to the final flight of ‘Butterfly’, Jason Mraz got it all covered and made it his. The man of wordplay and cryptic lyrics needs no impeccably tailored outfit to croon under the 7 o’clock moon. Geared with just a stark white t-shirt, a straight-cut pants and a fedora, he funked and reggaed and rocked in a class of his own, supported by Toca Rivera and his eclectic band. The vivid exhibits of verbal torrents and vocals of various registers were clear evidence that this guy is truly a musical-prodigy of the twenty-first century. And he took it all away up to the top, leaving people wanting more.

In other news, Indonesian metropop band Yovie and Nuno, won the
Best Favourite Indonesian Artiste in the recent MTV Asia Awards. Japanese R&B singer Misia will have a one night concert at Singapore Expo on September 13 as part of her first Asia Tour. The Tony Award musical Avenue Q is scheduled for a Singapore premiere at the Esplanade in late October. Finally, Lost garnered 8 nominations for the upcoming 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, including nominations for Best Drama Series and Best Supporting Actor for Michael Emerson.