Saturday, November 21, 2009

Daiso Wisdom

After my super blur partner discovered a new-found shopping place at Daiso, apparently she had been fine-combing through the shelves to make up for lost time.

She came back with a theory one day, "You don't think Daiso everything S$2 is very cheap, some of the things are 50cents, but because you get distracted buying the S$2-things, when you see the 50cents things, you think it's very cheap!"

Daiso needs to employ her as the new business strategist, because she sees right through them, unlike the rest of us, who sweeps down shelves of 50cents-things gleefully with a sense of economic achievement.

No Anybody there!

today i brought my 4-year-old nephew to watch a kids' dance in the theatre and he was absolutely thrilled, making it very vocal throughout the whole show, thank god it was like a market place for kids, all asking difficult questions to their senior, who mostly, do not really know the true meaning of the dance but every senior was as busy as me making up stories as fast as we can. As far as i know, the show is about fireflies in the city, and disappearing because of the concrete jungle we are building, a show with a green theme, something like that. 

There were these dancers dressed in green fluttering around and a white dancer weaving amongst them. "What is that?! What is that?!" my little nephew asked. "Erm, those are, like plants.. and erm the white one.. she is the queen bee, she can't find her hive.." My nephew was thrilled, "Oooooo orhhhhhh...."

There were 2 girls dressed in fancy costumes prancing on stage and my little nephew asked "What is that?! What is that?!" I wasn't really sure, "They are bees trying to look for flowers, which were killed by global warming..." My nephew had a dazed look. He asked, "Haaah?" I whispered, "You know, the sun very hot, flowers all dies, so later the bees will also die." He was enlightened, "Ooooooo ORhhhhh...!"

Then came a character dressed like a plumber in white overall, who came out in between scenes.."Who is that?! Who is that?!" Nephew really pushing my imagination.. i mean, yah, who is that, man? Shit... "That's the guy who cleans up the shit that we are doing to the environment, you know..?" Nephew looked troubled.. "You mean like the dog shit from the dogs?" To give my imagination a break," Yea.. that's right, that kind of smelly shit. So you shouldn't shit on the streets." As with all kids, he is easily tickled and he found that very funny. If only he knew the deeper metaphorical dog-shit meaning ...

A dancer dressed in what looked like mongolian costume skipped and pirouetted on stage. "What is that?! What is that?!" Gosh, beats me! "That's a chick who makes the show looks good." Nephew's eyes widened, "You mean like chicken??!!" Didn't sound quite right.. "Erm, no, is she pretty?" Nephew giggled and blushed and buried his face in my skinny left arm which he has been shaking, pinching, beating, and torturing. Ok at least i know he is not gay. 

Finally the show ends, and the lights went off, nephew exclaimed, "No anybody there!!!!" All the pain of taking him out all worth it.. yes, that's my boy... poetic licence well-used at a very young age. "That's right, aint's no anybody there.. ain't no anybody there my boy.." He beamed. For the 1st time in the show, he got it right without my crappy stories.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Daiso means S$2/each

this is quite funny and everytime i relate this Daiso story it makes me laugh, and it is so causal i often forget until something silly happens like when we decided the best investment by far to our little studio is a 6-socket extension cord (is there another name to this?) followed closely by the relatively more expensive 500GB external hard disk. Less funny is having to mop and clean the office after all my staff of the same little studio leaves for the night. But i am completely enthusiastic about building up my company after a 8-year stint with a big company. it is always good to really touch and feel the ground you walk on. I've never been happier, i feel alive all over again.

anyways, back to the Daiso story - my partner, who is from HK, for strange reasons, has never really stepped into Daiso or bothered about it. So, one day, me the hoarder, who would buy a dozen of useless things from Daiso without thinking because they are so cheap, happily strolled into Daiso with enthusiasm alongside my (damn blur) partner. After a shopping "spree", i emerged with another dozen of useless things, and to my surprise - knowing that few people would leave Daiso empty-handed - my partner emerged empty-handed. So i asked why there was no loot and to this super blur person, the answer was - "i wanted to buy some stuff, but i look up and down and left and right the items, this shop is strange, they have no pricetags, so I don't dare to buy."

All i can say is, innocence can be a very lovable trait, especially when in a Daiso shop.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Neil Found Respect for Gaiman, and what's with all these other creative people who imagines themselves as "stars"?

guilty of very bad pun - years of journalism takes a toll on you and you have this immediate knee-jerk reaction to come up with bad puns for titles.. really i want to say New Found Respect for Gaiman

I went for the Neil Gaiman talk at the Victoria Theatre in conjunction with the Spore Writers' Fest today. I thought it is a talk, but it's a really Q&A session with a moderator asking a few questions and subsequently opening it up to the floor. All in all, it was about an hour. All the questions, from moderator and the floor, didn't allow the man to be very inspiring, but they sure give him space to be extremely charming. In the short time, he sure showed why he is a master-storyteller. Every question was answered with a casually engaging story, which Gaiman crafted them instantaneously to be funny - perfect for a thousand people who pulled themselves out of bed on a Sunday afternoon to listen to him. In fact, the literary superstar started by cutting in before any questions to thank all the attendees for coming out on a Sunday. 

Most of the questions were simple, but Gaiman turned them into interesting ones with his story-telling answers. The last from the audience, which was so lame that I didn't even remember - provoked a comment from my friend Fang Wei who sarcastically whispered to me "Is Ris Lim in the house?" - was equally enthusiastically answered by Gaiman who turned it into something fun enough for everyone to enjoy. It brought to mind a talk i attended quite a while ago by Karim Rashid, and when someone from the audience asked about his design process, he impatiently replied "What kind of a question is that?" Given that he did shared his concepts about his works during the talk, but still...

But what was really impressive and gained my new-found respect for Gaiman is that, after the 1-hour session, me and Fang Wei decided to go for a drink nearby and 3 hours later and 6pm, I walked past The Arts House and Gaiman was still at the same table patiently signing all the autographs from his 1000 fans with a good 20 meter-queue still in sight. I walked near his table just to checked it out and he was bantering with every star-struck fan with absolutely no sign of losing his patience. That was the moment that convinced me that he is truly a writer and not one who loses his mind with all the fame and thinks he is a "star". 

For every creative person who ever had an opportunity to share your thoughts and works with an audience who have supported you, you know how precious it is and you treasure every single moment of knowing these people who were reading or looking at your works - i mean, you will be curious who they are and what is it that they like about your works. It is such a rare opportunity. Recently, i was invited to give a talk about publishing in Hong Kong at a 7pm slot on a Friday night, and much to my surprise, i was greeted with a full house , cos i thought everyone would be hungry at that time and would be having their dinner. Of course it motivated me to give my best and try to keep them entertained amidst all the hardcore information that I was supposed to present.. and what a joy that a huge bunch of people gathered around me after the talk and asked me more questions and for my contacts and yes a few little autographs and a few media interview requests.. we stayed for another almost 2 hours and i was starving to death but I really treasured every moment. 

Just not too long ago, we had a foreign architect, or starchitect in town to give a talk, and to get an interview with him, you were given a list of "what-not-to-ask" and you have to submit your questions in advance, and during the interview/photo session, he asked to choose the pictures that would appear, requesting you to delete the rest. It was the ultimate disgust. 

As creative people, first and foremost, we are doing what we do because we didn't sign on to become Brad Pitt or Faye Wong. We neither act now sing. We have a bigger responsibility of providing a service - social or cultural, we are not entertainers. And i choose to believe, for most of us, we don't expect to be treated like one. We want to be respected for the work we do, not for how good we look, or how well we can exercise certain body parts or functions like the vocal chords. Our works should benefit the society in one way or another, and we should be grateful that in rare occasions, we get to meet the people who have benefitted from our works, whether it inspired them, or it worked for them. And if someone should hold you in high regard, you treat them with equal respects, the way that Gaiman had done with even every Ris Lim who lined up to just get his autograph or asked a stupid question.  

The first question that was asked to Gaiman by the moderator was, "You are turning 50 next year, how do you feel?" And to paraphrase his answers, he said he felt that he had pretty much done all the things that he had set out to do, and if he were to die in a plane crash tomorrow, he would not regret. 

Just looking at the way he has treated his fans, i can see that he will die a happy man with no regrets and no guilt. I would want to die the same way. And one day, if i should need to sign autographs for 3 hours or more, i promise myself i would do it in the same way that Gaiman has done. That is a true superstar.