Monday, August 24, 2009

Encan Tado

i was at a DVD shop browsing and found this cover with a naked woman's torso, the title said Encan Tado and in small words in Chinese it stated "62nd Venice Film Festival Opening Show", in even smaller words in said, "Uncensored Version" and a white sticker warned "Consumer Advise - Sexual References". I turned to the back for the summary and it read like that:

"Italian Nicole dies in a Cuba air disaster, his younger brother Andrea arrives has an accident the island to trace the reason, at the same time, he meet his brother's wife Alma, and make a not raentgen loving with this sex appeal. Because Alma so attractive and hot. However along with investigation thorough, Andrea discovered Alma who make sexual relationship to many guys, is like a immoral woman. And the discovery air disaster pilot has nor certainly died, original behind has very many secretive secrets. Many people are done by Alma the self-satisfied chaotic sentiment to confuse, behind the dissolute passion has more the murderous intention."

Oh boy that sure intrigued me! Yes i bought Encan Tado.

p.s. the word Encan Tado does not exist isolatedly, they come from the word Encantado, which in Spanish, can be used as a form of greeting as it translates as "enchanted to meet you". The Brazilian term, is more interesting, and is probably used as the metaphor for title of the movie. Encantado is a sea creature who comes from a underwater paradise known as Encante. The 3 key characteristics of the Encantado is its gift in musical abilities, love for parties, and their love of sex  - there you go. That's Alma.

See, you learn something new everyday, sometimes from soft porn movies' DVD covers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Inspiration from a Penguin

Now that i have so much time to read and surf the net (how wonderful! i feel so enriched), inspired by the excellent cover designs of their recent Great Ideas series, I googled Penguin, and found a treasure trove of covers and concepts behind them.. for a bookmaker, this is heaven! check it out:

My Favourite Things

i always remember my friend Reddot once told me, if you want to quit your job and do your own stuff, you have to be mentally prepared. He said, sometimes, you are really busy, sometimes you go for a swim and then you go to the supermarket to buy some daily provisions. And as i noticed, most of the time, he is in front of the internet, but ok, he is a web designer you see. Anyways, he is reading this right now cos he follows my blog haha and he lives up to his mentally prepared free wheeling life. 

i now joined him in this free wheeling life, and true enough, I now have time to go swimming and go buy daily provisions while most of my friends are slogging in the office. I am very mentally prepared for this good life, i must say. 

Apart from not having an employer breathing down my neck (not a very nice visual literally), I have so much more time for myself, to do the silly things that are pretty joyful. For example, i never bother to fill those detailed personal items in Facebook, which i thought was a silly waste of time,  but with extra time on my hands, and also spending as much time as Reddot in front of the internet, i finally filled up those silly items in a silly way. Favourite music, favourite movies, activities blah blah blah - don't they change all the time? I guess i have the time to keep changing it now haha. The permanence of it has made me resisted it. Now it can be rather fluid, so to speak, as long as i have the time to update My Favourite Things. 

C'est la Vie, Reddot! :)

Life Endangering Mini Buses in HK

Recently, my partner's sister, who was innocently waiting at a bus stop in HK, got ran down by a mini bus, alongside many other innocent victims. This has caused a pretty serious injury which called for an operation, and she wasn't the only one in this predicament. 

Talking to other HK friends about this incident, they started asking was it this incident or was it that and the list seemed to be endless. The conclusion was that HK mini bus accidents happened on a daily basis, a few times a day, and in their words, even if you were the only one in the bus, the driver seemed to be always in a hurry and driving at Ferrari speed mindlessly, but seemingly with a mission in mind.

These drivers, who are putting passengers' and passers-by's lives at risk with their perpetual impatience and big hurry - perhaps the angst of their lives leading nowhere has caused them to wanna rushed through it. But not at other people's expense please. The suffering sticks with them for life. 

Recently, a reckless drunken driver in Singapore, who sped into a bus stop, has similarly hurt a few people, and one of which, an old lady, who at her age still had to work for a living, is now permanently confined to the wheelchair. Probably with no money for life insurance, what is going to happen to her? The jail term the drunken guy is to serve will never lessen any of her pain nor bring back her mobility nor compensate her for the rest of her suffering life.

For those of us who complained that even after one drink we are at risk of being caught by the traffic police, this is a small part we can play in helping the traffic police nab these irresponsible drunks. So help the poor old people who are still struggling to work in their old age, for their safety - do not drink and drive.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bliss over Money

You wouldn't believe it, i am working on 4 pro bono jobs right now, which is taking up quite a substantial amount of time, and i really love to sleep and swim, like a lot. But anyways, if you can't find money you should find bliss. I must say it is rather rewarding. And maybe good vibes of bliss will attract money. It's all about good vibes, right? Yes, good :)

In the middle of it all

To my surprise, i won the title of Great Women of Our Time recently, and while i was very honoured and very happy to receive my title, i do find myself in the middle of every word of the title itself.

Michael Jackson's dilemma

I was in a club in Hong Kong recently, and as what most DJs are doing now, they will weave in a segment of tribute to the King of Pop, all of a sudden the dancing crowd went into a frenzy of imitating his dance moves. There were people doing dangerous renditions of the Moonwalk which looked nothing more like drunken people on the verge of falling backwards, many erm not-shy and erm not-very-sexy acts of crotch-grabbing, and amidst all these fanatic acts, there were masses of people everywhere doing the Thriller Zombie moves and it felt a bit like i was in the Night of the Living Dead.. if Michael was looking down from above, he would have mixed feelings about being a legend and being dead.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Spore idol - of Hopes & & Guts & Reality

I have to confess - i really enjoy watching American Idol and yes, Singapore Idol as well. I enjoy the Hopes, the Guts, and the Reality. Like the Susan Boyle story, it often makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time, and sometimes simply applaud the guts and relish in the hopes of the contestants. 

Tonight is the 1st of the new season of Spore Idol, and we are off to a good start. The 2nd (or was it 3rd) featured contestants sand really badly, but she described her ambitions as wanting to be Singapore's Avril Lavigne. Ken, who is expected to deliver the mean lines like Simon Cowell, asked her flatly (rhetorically) - "Are you living in this world? You can't sing."

There were some beeps in the post-audition interview with Spore's Avril Lavigne.

Krauser, that guy who dressed like a Japanese version of Kiss, with the Chinese word "Kill" written on his forehead, who went on to sing John Lennon's "Imagine"... we do have strange people in Singapore and it is all good. Dick Lee politely commented that he looked like Cher.. ? Unfortunately he can't sing. 

That girl who went in with the Lady Gaga Mask- she can really sing! - Gosh she could be our answer to Susan Boyle. The mask is a bad idea. 

Riding on "UP" the Pixar cartoon with an old man as the protagonist, that girl who brought her grandma in and sang to her "Ain't no Mountain High enough.." - very moving indeed. Luckily she can sing.

And now i have to wait a week for my fix of Spore Idol!!! 

National Day Parade Heroes!

For the 1st time in my life, i went for the National Day Parade Final Rehersal, which is more or less the same as what we watched on TV tonight. I confess.. i was tearing when i was there watching it live. It was really spectacular and it made me very proud to be a Singaporean. Ok, a bit over-sentimental but trust me, the energy of actually feeling that you are a part of a successful small nation is overwhelming. During the rehersal, it was pouring badly, we all whipped out the raincoats in the goody bag and we hung on and eventually, everybody all equally drenched made our way out in a very giving and orderly manner, paddling in ankle high waters, and left the emotional scene. It was beyond words. It makes you want to contribute your part to make our nation a even better one. 

I think it is overall excellently conceptualised, completed with a fantastic stage set.

I'm so proud of my buddies Randy Chan, who designed the stage (and gave me the tickets without Q-ing haha) and Ivan Heng, the overall Creative Director, who clearly has put in an enormous effort to make a difference to our usually boring National Day Parade. Of course, not forgetting Ah Hock, who did the beautiful dance choreography. 

Such a great job that Singaporeans can be proud of! We are Singapore!

Merce Cunningham & John Cage finally together again

The world lost yet another legendary dancer/choreographer after the sudden death of Pina Baucsh - Merce Cunningham. 

Partner of the late John Cage, who is a legend himself in conceptual music, Cunningham is known for his avant garde approach combining music, technology. movements - and as with all dances - in time and space. Both Cunningham and Cage were alumni of the radical Black Mountain College, though they met earlier in 1944 when they first collaborated and the partnership extended beyond work and into their lives, and the two collaborated frequently till the death of Cage in 1992.

I think it is often the dream of all artists to be able to share a connection beyond the bed with their partners. It is already difficult for 2 partners who live together to see eye-to-eye day in day out on mundane everyday life matters, much less to compromise on a artistic level, where the ego gets in the way all the time. But it seems - from the partnership of Cunningham and Cage - finding Mr Right in life, for some lucky people - is absolutely possible and beautiful.

Cunningham & Cage Collaboration

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nerdy Nation Happy Birthday!

It's National Day today.. I was watching Travel & Living Channel's Lonely Planets Six Degress hosted by Asha Gill and Singapore is on today, probably in conjunction with the National Day. Most parts were touristy and predictable, like Kumar showing Asha Little India, Dr Wei (the sex doctor) and KF Seetoh showing her Geylang; interesting part when Asha was arranged to perform as a getai singer in a real hungry ghost festival celebration; then the nerdy part came - do you know Singapore has a "Happy Toilet" Award? It's organised by the Restroom Association of Singapore.. so they went on to show the awarding of the Happy Toilet Award to the Night Safari, where the each of cleaners won a "Golden Plunger" and the finale - all of them, toilet cleaners to Restroom Association stood around and sang - gasp - the Happy Toilet song.

Some Kind of Sad

I was in my teens when John Hughes was making all these great movies that define us - growing up in the 80s. The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty in Pink, and my favourite - Some Kind of Wonderful, which he didn't direct but wrote the script. 

Are the teenagers today so different from us that movies about teenagers are so different today. Running out of things to watch, and unable to sleep on a long flight recently, i watched 17 again, and High School Musical, and i just can't connect, and they are not half as good as The Breakfast Club or Some Kind of Wonderful. Maybe you will say that because i am too old for teenagers' movies like 17 again.. but i can watch a John Hughes movie again any time even now. Maybe you say it is nostalgia. Ok maybe maybe.

Whatever it is, I'm some kind of sad that John Hughes has died. His movies brings back so much memories. And i still want to be Mary Stuart Masterson sometimes.

The Quotable John Hughes

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lady GaGa & Andy Warhol

Tonite, i was hanging out with my friends at 15 minutes for Lisa's DJ-ing, and as everybody was jiving to the superb music, suddenly a seemingly decent girl in specs started talking to us. She speaks with a Chinese-sy accent and we asked if she is from China, but she insisted she is from S'pore, so we took it as it is. And she started asking us about the dishes we ordered and took out a pen and pad to write down. We started to feel a bit uncomfortable, and funnily when we ask if she wants to try the food, she "shamelessly" (for lack of a better word) went to ask for an empty plate and joined our table... we were a bit amused, but nevertheless we shared our food with her, which she ate with relish. Then she started asking about why the name 15 minutes, and we explained to her it is a quote from Andy Warhol about 15 minutes of fame, and she said, "Oh yes I know Andy Warhol, he is doing a song with Lady Gaga!" At that point, we corrected her and explained that Warhol is actually dead. She changed the topic abruptly and asked if we wanted to dance. That was when we all shook our heads in unison and the next thing, we saw her jiving away with another group of strangers, who kind of kept an arm's length from her. 

Warhol, when living, had always attracted the weird people around him in his Factory. He might be glad to know, today, he still appeals to the weird.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Buy Tissue Paper from Poor People

It took us a long time to have patrons in art. People who are willing to sponsor art events, art exhibitions, commissioned artworks or simply just buying artworks.

How about design? Design is often seen as a service, first and foremost. So putting aside design exhibitions or events, whenever we as designers are required to go pitch for a job, we are expected already to put in a proposal, visuals and great concepts. And the client will usually tell us how big their company is, how much they have accomplished, how big they see themselves in 5 years 10 years, and how great it would be if you are associated with them if you design their stuff. And then you give them a decent quotation and they either disappeared, say they will do it in-house, or go to some big firms where they feel assured they can secure a funding from the government to "re-brand" themselves. What went wrong? - The clients' perception of small design firms or the government's message on funding design? 

How are we ever going to generate jobs for the new players who are possibly talented in the design industry if all the MNCs are eyeing the funding from the government who needs the optimistic bank statements, company profile, long job lists, blah blah blah? 

How are designers supposed to make money if nobody is willing to pay for "good design"? People settle for so-so design because they have a low ceiling for design fees. Irony is, they pay for the stars if you are a so-called world-class designer. Local designers should start from where?

After having started my design publishing outfit when was 27, sold it, worked for 8 years under a corporate environment and finally coming out on my own again, I am content with small jobs and when i feel good, i will go pro bono for jobs i believe will benefit the people who deserved it. I believe design can change the world, and i will do design for free for anyone who truly can't afford it, and make this world a more beautiful place to live in. It comes down to my daily philosophy of buying tissue paper fr any old aunty or uncle or handicapped people on the streets whenever i come across one. If i have 10 dollars in my pocket, it is so easy to share just one dollar with someone who needs it. It is not a lot but it is what i can comfortably do. And this money that i earn from design assignments, is the 1st step to using design to change the world, in whatever ways, buying tissue paper from the needy included. 

Times are hard, let's help the poor if you can.

Friends for Dinner - Dream Again

i was listening to Franz Ferdinand's beautiful song "Dream Again", and remembered this silly episode where i was first introduced to this band. 

Backtrack to many years back - It was this work trip we made to Beijing, and a colleague of mine was sweeping down bags of pirated CDs from this auntie by the roadside and when we got into the taxi, I asked her what she bought, she rattled off a whole list of stuff she bought, all of which i have heard of, then she came to this one that she said "Franz Ferdinand" and I was a little shocked, repeating, "What? Friends for Dinner?" And perhaps it was the traffic noise in Beijing, she answered (without a blink), "Yah, Franz Ferdinand." I thought, what a terrible name for a band! - Friends for Dinner?! i love my friends.

Silly me, of course, subsequently i realised the real name for the band ;) ok cool stuff and here is one track i liked "Dream Again" 

here is the video

and here is the lyrics of Dream Again

Don´t be afraid if
you hear voices
Or feel the sweet air
Spoken upon you
Sometimes the sound
Of a thousand
Whispering words
Of Hope will reassure
Show me the future
Will see us join together
If the oceans split
Or the mountains sigh Then I
Will keep on dreaming
I live to dream again

Don´t be afraid if
you´re descending
The deepest despairs
Without a handrail
to guide you
Sometimes the sound
Of a thousand
Whispering words
Can confuse
But when you´re sleeping
They shift and
slide together
Bring meaning
To the canyon's cry So I
I keep on dreaming
I live to dream again

Sometimes the sound
Of a thousand
Whispers are where
You live a little fear
But feel the pressure

I feel us dream together
I feel no fear
I feel no fire Oh I
I keep on dreaming
I live to dream again 

I will have Friends OVER for Dinner and we can listen to this nice song :)

Great Women of Our Time & Hot Pants

To my surprise, i was nominated for the Great Women of Our Time Award organised by Women's Weekly and during the photo shoot, the young edgy stylists - thinking that i look "young" (he doesn't know my real age thanks to my "youthful" demeanor) whipped out a pair of hot pants, like very short shorts in pastel shade and i almost fainted. I had to tell him, "Darling that is very nice, but the only kind of shorts i ever wore is PE shorts."

They were kind enough to prepare a black suit for me.. phew. 

Monday, August 3, 2009

Peter Pan & Robin Hood

When i was little, i love Walt Disney movies and i collect all these small Walt Disney paperbag novels based on the movies. Robin Hood was actually a fox in the original Walt Disney movies.. cunning yes! but in a good way.

everybody wants to be Peter Pan because we all want to be young. But apart from trying to look young, do we retain the heart of a young kid? where good people will end well and bad people go to hell. I just watched Walt Disney's Bedtime Stories starring Adam Sandler and i love it. it reminds me of the youthful good values we should have no matter how old we are. 

to be Peter Pan and Robin Hood all at once - is what i strive to be.

So, to walk the talk, lately i have been working extremely hard. On one hand, i am working on my F&B outlets and my new publishing business, which i am so thankful that due to the support of so many friends - both in life and business - that they have been doing well. So i suddenly decide to provide my design service to people who need it but have no budget. So on a voluntary basis, i have been taking up a few pro bono jobs that i think will do some good to people who need it. It has been tiring but somehow - as i have expected - extremely rewarding simply because people really appreciate it. and that is a good feeling. 

my new resolution for this year - to spread this message of Well (Meaning) Design. To explain this simply - designs that do not compromise in integrity, but in budget, that will bring a greater cause to all. And thanks to my speaking engagements, hopefully the 1st lecture on Well (Meaning) design will happen in Hong Kong this September. i am looking forward to it. I hate powerpoints, i hope i will find a better way to deliver the speech. 

Sunday, August 2, 2009

More pictures: Rem Koolhaas' entrance architectural addition to Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen - World Heritage Site

Rem Koolhaas' entrance architectural addition to Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen - World Heritage Site

I was in Essen, Germany recently to serve as a jury for the Communications section at Red Dot Museum, which was situated right next to the Zollverein Coal Museum, in fact the Red Dot Museum is part of this Unesco World Heritage Site. The architecture is spectacular and is conserved diligently. Rem Koolhaas was invited to do a entrance to mark the entrance to the museum. He added a metal structure that encased a long escalator leading up to the museum. i was told by the museum guide that the authorities and the public were so afraid that he would do any irreversible "damage" to this precious architecture that what he built is completely "detachable" in the event they decide to return in to its original state. This is perhaps an important lesson for Singapore to learn in conservation, which is often more concerned about preserving the "shelf" and paying little attention to the soul of the old building, hence often destroying the original intent of old building in the end. In a (what i read as) humourous attempt, Rem marked everything new he added with a bright orange as if to facilitate the ease of taking down the new bits he added in the event the authorities decide to return the architecture to its original state.

nothing to build? Fret not

architects are complaining there aren't so much work with the recession, but fret not, even Richard Meier is not spared and he is focusing on enjoying a few more golf games and implemented a 4-day work week for his staff until work comes in... read on

Richard Meier: ‘We Don’t Have So Much Work’

Why the Arts Don't Pay for themselves

support the arts in ways you can - a small donation, or volunteer your time...

an article by

Michael Kaiser

Posted: July 20, 2009 10:13 AM

in transit

in transit

finally we have decided to close ish after a 10-year-run. i am not extremely sad, in fact i am quite proud that as an independent print magazine, it actually survived for a decade, quite a feat in this internet age, not to mention the competitive advertising conditions in the print magazine industry. it is also extremely timely that just before we packed our bags, ish won its 3rd SOPA (Society of Publishers in Asia) Award for Design Excellence. In fact, on the same day 12th June 2009, as the results was announced, a decision was concurrently made to stop the magazine.

quick update on what i’m doing now:

1. 21st May 2009, my second F&B venture “15 Minutes” opened at LaSalle College of the Arts (Check it out - it is on the 1st floor of Blk D, and the school is situated on 1 McNally Road, it is also enveloped by Prinsep Street next to Sim Lim Square)

2. Still running Night & Day - bar+gallery+friends, which is almost 2 years old now. Finally after two years the business is starting to stabilise. We have built up a loyal following of party-goers who attend our monthly underground parties. I’m still toiling for the gallery though, organising exhibitions for young or new artists - it is a lot of work but not much money to be earned, at least for now. But overall, i think the mission of what we are trying to do - of promoting Singapore art & design is more important than the money, as i always believe that those who can, should try to give back - to the society, or in this case, the industry - in some ways. 

3. Stubbornly, i’m not stopping print publishing anytime soon, as i find a lot of joy and satisfaction in making a book or a magazine. In terms of continuing my magazine work, i’ve assumed the post of Editor-in-Chief for the Singapore Architect (SA), it’s a bit of a grown-up version of ish magazine. ish is visually driven, while SA is content-driven, though a lot of efforts has been put into the creative direction and design as well, so you should check it out, it is available in all good bookshops in Singapore. We will try to get it more widely distributed in the region soon. In terms of books, i’m working on various projects now, so hopefully, there will be something exciting out by next year.

4. doing some random design projects that are fun, some for very little money and some are pro bono. This is the only time i can say - i pick and choose my jobs haha. so i make sure these are fun jobs, then i wouldn’t mind doing. there’s a book, a couple of small design/branding jobs and a couple of interior jobs for friends.

5. lastly, this blog of course. Had been wanting to do this since ish days, as a small attempt to connect with my readers on the internet (blog as opposed to website as it is more personal and less work and more immediate). So finally i got off my lazy ass to start this blog, which i hope to share design news/information and thoughts about design, travel, culture and random random things in life.

anyways, back to the current moment. i spent this weekend watching an 11-part series on Michael Jackson’s home videos on youtube, and was actually very moved by the amount of charity work he does, one of which involved searching for a liver donor for a extremely poor 4-year-old boy Farkas in Hungary waiting to die in the hospital. And in a passing moment, he mentioned that the press only likes to report bad things and not good things. So out of curiosity, i googled the details of Jackson’s charity legacy and found a link that documents the amount of work he did and huge sums of money he gave to various charity all over the world ( I can’t help but think that he is actually a pretty decent and extremely generous guy. It is very sad that he died so suddenly.

i also googled the MDA (Media Development Authority) website and was quite disappointed to see the amount of funding that is available to all things digital and almost nothing attractive for print publishing. this is really sad, looks like MDA is already getting ready to eliminate print out of Singaporean’s lives. This is the time when print publishing needs a helping hand and yet no help is available. There is still so much potential and hope in print publishing as ultimately it is about content creation and management. and more importantly, we should uphold it as a form of art. Traditional forms of art, somehow, always have no place in Singapore, and it is no wonder so if the government, which plays a big role in preserving art forms and culture, is always too fast to throw away all things all.

But - as Gandhi said, Be the change you want to see in the world - i will find a way to do good works in publishing and i am inspired by great publishers such as Taschen and Chronicle books.

Even if i will not be as big as them one day, I will start one book, one magazine at a time, and each will have to be made in the best way i know.