W.O.W @ The Park

Overdue entry.

Some weeks back there was a table set at Tiong Bahru market with paints and recycled CDs for passer-bys to draw on. Turns out that they are in preparation for Wow @ the park event.

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W.O.W (works of wonder) @ the park is a community arts event held as part of the PassionArts Festival. So W.O.W was held at Tiong Bahru Park and showcased large scale art works created by residents. Other than that there were displays of various arts forms belonging to different heritage and hands-on activities. Pre-event activities were also organised by the various community centres to get the residents involved. Just dropped by for the event that day after dinner (expect missing photos because I didnt stay throughout).

Main highlight of the event was this 88m long lumious dragon made from 16,888/17,000/30,000 recycled CDs. Well I put 3 numbers there because they come from different sources narrating about the same artwork and I dont know which is the correct number. Didnt find the CD that I painted because that is an impossible task.

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Up close of the CDs.

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Also there is a garden of butterflies made from recycled materials like bottle caps and the soft drink can tab.

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Flower display made from plastic bags

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And a wall of blow art
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First time so up-close with opera singers! I seldom chance upon opera performances in reality and would just gawk at their elaborate costumes and make-up from the audience seat when I happen to pass-by a performance, even though I have no idea what language they were singing in.

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The main stage where performances are held (blur image)

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After that went to look at some of the hands-on art activities offered by the neighbouring community centres. Actually they are held to keep the kids occupied.

Fruit sculpting.

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Paper cutting

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Terrarium. Took this after the event because it looks more art-sy this way. There was quite a long queue for this one. Who doesnt want a free plant that needs minimal maintenance?

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HELLO KITTY! (But I prefer the terrarium over this one because the balloon will become deflated anyway)

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Quite a lot of people dropped by and the weather was really hot that day. Anyway the displays are only temporary and will be removed by this week.Wonder where they will go after that.

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Sultana Bookstore- a hidden gem

Wanted to look for Sanmao’s works, especially her Stories of the Sahara as I fell in love with the book after borrowing it from my cousin. Chanced across this secondhand bookstore called Sultana Bookstore located at Peace Centre on the net (Gintai and An Original Thinker did a great post on it) so I decided to try my luck there. After my visit I just felt the need to share this place!

There is no official website for Sultana Bookstore, except for their rarely updated facebook page. They describe themselves to be a “bricks and mortar set-up offering books, curios, and courses and acts as a resource place for connection, inspiration, sharing and service.” I guess like most secondhand bookstores, they make their name known through word of mouth.

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Looking at the photos of the bookstore on the net I was prepared to face a bookstore brimming with books from floor to ceiling. When I stepped in it was indeed overwhelming! Piles of books just filled every corner and I was trying to gingerly manoeuvre my way around the shop while trying not to get dizzy in the book jungle.

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When I asked him for Sanmao’s works, the owner Mr Kwok replied that the store does not sell chinese books (cry) and he admitted that he does not know who she is (very frank). So I said it was okay and went to browse around. If you have a particular title in mind, it is better to ask the human catalogue, given the sheer amount of books present. Mr Kwok knows the approximate location of the requested book and does not even need to run a system search to check whether the book is available.

The shop specialises in old school and used books ranging from teenage fiction such as Sweet Valley High to travel guides to religious books. Even saw a Christian bible lying around. Prices are also quite reasonable, considering the fact that they are out of print. Anyway Mr Kwok doesn’t mind how long you hang around in the shop nor tail you like those pesky shop assistants.

Metal shelf bending due to the weight of the books

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I am so inclined to term this place as an “organised mess”, because it has both features at the same time!

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Upon paying for my purchase, the 3 of us (the other guy is Mr Kwok’s customer turned friend) started this engaging inspiring conversation about life. Along the way Mr Kwok even quoted books relevant to what we were talking about, like The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. He did ask about Sanmao again, and said that since I was looking for her books to read, probably a part of my life resonates with what Sanmao was experiencing. Haha I wonder what is that too.

Imagine spending your afternoon seeking solace in books and then chatting away on anything under the sky. Ahhh this is what I call Life (rhyme not intended). The hidden treasure goes beyond a bookstore. It is how you synthesize the knowledge you get from books (referring to the healthy stuff here), applying it in your lifestyle and living well.

Oh wait I just realised I didnt write what I bought. Mr Kwok managed to find the Lost Horizon, which was another book on my reading list. And then there is the typical china history book which a history student will get, just that it is a personal memorial than an academic book. Screw those scholars, seriously. The last book caught my eye while browsing. It describes the pattern of murder committed by serial killers from the astrological perspective. Pretty interesting, especially when one is tired of looking at crimes through the conventional CSI way.

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Secondhand bookstores seem to be a dying trade nowadays with the proliferation of e-books, indie bookstores, and people who don’t have time to read. It is really a pity when secondhand bookstores disappear into history just like that. If you are an avid reader, do visit this charming place!

The past 2 weeks

Time for another update!

Spent my 1st week (after my last paper) trying to finish philo assignment. The prof officially assigned the final term paper to us around the last 2 weeks of school, and said that we can hand it in as long as we want until the semester ends. So happily I dragged it until my exam was over because I had no time to write it while revising for other modules. Anyway I was already feeling burnt having to write yet another academic based paper so I stopped at 6 pages (range was 6 to 8 pages) and submitted on the last day of the semester.

Cant believe that I managed to finish the module, given how I was so blur in class and have never taken any philo module beforehand (There is this girl from science faculty who took 2-3 philo modules before this one and she knows what exactly is going on).

Plato-Class

Onto the 2nd week… went back to SPCA on Monday after being missing for months. As usual nothing changed, only new faces up for adoption, like this skinny pig called Bruno. Old faces still there as well like Lucius and Hitler Cat.

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Then went for lyrical jazz. My friend from ballet has been attending classes there so she recommended to try classes there. Choreography was quite okay to follow, even though I have relatively little jazz experience.

Tuesday… Watched LOTR the Two Towers and sang ktv at MK’s house with the usual. And as usual we were laughing at each other’s characters (if you read my previous post months back you will know what we were joking about). Anyway look at that wide-eyed face. Enough to give anyone nightmares.

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Prior to the movie I was reading the book for 3 days in large numbers of chapters so imagine the amount of dosage of LOTR in my brain holy crap. Anyway I have since taken a break from anything related to LOTR if not I can end up relating everything to LOTR. There is this dog in SPCA called Bree and I was like “Isnt this the place in Middle Earth……”

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Wednesday… went for SPCA animal ambassador training cos I thought the information will come in useful during sales events and attending to the public while on shelter duty. Imagine remembering so much content within an hour! (Photo stolen from the education manager)

AA set-up

Luckily the education team gave everyone an information pack each consisting of one brochure each from the different kinds of brochures shown above so that we can slowly devour the information at home. Anyway I found out that there is a malay version in one of my brochures. Ehehehehe. I dont blame them because the brochures are packed in a hurry, and luckily I can read a bit of malay before memory completely fails me.

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Thursday… Lunch and catch up with J, then went to walk around JEM looking at girls stuff. J was giving ‘advice’ how to find a boyfriend like using fragrant shampoo and then swishing your hair in front of the guy. Nicely edited photo stolen from J.

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Friday… went SPCA again and went for ballet. Here is Lucius hiding under the cushion because it started pouring heavily and he freaked out.

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Saturday… NUS open house! Helped out for Office of Programmes under multidisciplinary minors (Dream on, history department will never find me for help) to introduce the programme to the year 0s and answer their questions. Oh and did I mention that we get paid? Anyway everyone just wanted to get rid of the freebies apart from using them to attract the year 0s. Except for the popular majors because hundreds will still flock to their booth even though there are no freebies.

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The place was really noisy, talked until my voice died. South Asian studies played bollywood music somemore. When it comes to multidisciplinary minors, most of the year 0s I spoke to were more particular about the technical bits like how to count the modular credits and the requirements instead of asking a specific multi-discip minor. Well I did get a few asking about china studies though. Quite a lot of parents came as well, and I saw my ballet classmate (from TBCC) with her parents. Saw one of my jc classmates as well but he didnt drop by at our booth.

The whole event reminded me of the times before I started uni, feeling confused and lost whatsoever like the year 0s. And then poof I am going into my 3rd year this coming Aug (still dont know if I want to do honours or not). All I can advice is one step at a time.

Oh that’s a cookie. Quite nice but I was put off by the icing because of the coloring and the sweetness.

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Sunday… ballet ❤ I cant believe I am attending up to 5 dance classes a week until the semester starts again. Seriously dance is now part of my blood holy crap.

Oh yes I am actually taking on a content curator position for a mobile app related to Singapore history, just in case anyone is having the idea that I am slacking my ass off. It is more free and easy, basically just go (re)-visiting everyday streets in Singapore and discover fading/quirky landmarks and do research on them. Will update here what I wrote as soon as I can.

Love life wise… still a single old lady with no luck. Most of the places I hang out are female dominated environments. Anyway I am going to clear one of my minor modules this summer, with a field trip to china. I predict there will be 10 people in class, and only 1 guy. Anyone else wants to place their bets?

Okay going to check out a bookstore now. Ciao.

Social Media Nightmare

Any screw-up by any social media platform- account being disabled, unable to tag pictures, hashtags not working etc is enough to ruin our day or make us frustrated. The worst being you tried every solution to deal with the problem but none of them worked. I guess it can rank as the top few 1st world nightmares.

A few days back my photos are not appearing under the hashtags. I did not violate any rules like having 31 hashtags or post any explicit content nor privated my account. Tried deleting and re-installing the app but same problem still occurred. I know there is a list of banned hashtags like #photography, but how can #singaporehistory be a banned hashtag? Anyway I have not posted any photo ever since that broken hashtag thing occurred, just waiting for another week to pass to see if things can return back to normal. Also googled to see what others did, and some users had really no luck with those proposed solutions.

Usually users put hashtags to get more likes or followers like #likeforlike and #followforfollow (and in many different variations). From my point of view I just wanted to use hashtags to find like-minded people in the instagram community who share similar interests like cats and photography. The likes and followers automatically come and go, and if your account is fantastic enough you wont even need to use those #followforfollow hashtags. In fact I find #likeforlike and its related hashtags rather pointless, especially if the content the user posts is not receptive among the instagram community.

Imagine the anxiety when you realise that there is a glitch in your social media account and you tried every solution available but nothing happens. Sometimes I even find myself entertaining with the thought “Why on earth is this happening to me, and not someone else?!?!” or even “I dont deserve this, I am innocent! Why doesnt that user who post rubbish content be the one getting the banned hashtags problem?”. I admit that sounds selfish, but I guess this sentiment can be shared by many who are proud of their own accounts and do not wish for any worst-case-scenario to befall them. You know, that mentality.

For a large social media company, one can imagine how much information regarding back end operations are not being made transparent to the users. Usually it is us ‘spamming’ them with your problem and then wait for a miracle to come. The “Report a problem” section is like everyone’s lifesaver, but it only gives a fake sense of security. I mean, even when you report a problem, what are the chances of your query being answered and fixed? Seriously I think we are becoming slaves to a virtual platform, willing to spend time trawling through information to deal with problems in our social media accounts.

Humans create their own problems and then try to solve them. From antiquity till now. Pffffft.

Review: The Ruins

Finally I can talk about a movie without the need to make stupid academic inferences in regards to the film motifs and themes.

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So yesterday night at 12am (horror movie + midnight + only person in the family awake= imagine the setting) Channel 5 screened this movie called The Ruins. Decided to watch it out of boredom. It wasn’t as scary as I thought. It trends towards the bloody and “nightmare” side as compared to ghosts and the supernatural. Let me just give my 2 cents worth on this movie. Warning: spoilers ahead!

The Ruins, released in 2008, is based on a book also called The Ruins. I will not make any comparison to the book or use it as a standard since I have not read it so I am not in a position to say anything.

I thought that the plot did build up steadily and has a substantial share of suspense, but towards the middle the storyline plateaued. The ending was a cliffhanger. The setting sounds exotic and mysterious enough, being centred around the Mayan pyramids. Narrative I will leave it to Wikipedia to do the job.

The part where Amy lost her earring in the beginning was a smart move, as it created the chance to meet German tourist Mathias who returned her the earring and then tell the group about his brother’s archaeological dig and his disappearance. Then the group decided to help Mathias look for his brother and Dimitri (Mathias’s friend) joins in the search. So far still okay for the plot, since it was seemingly simple enough for the unexpected to kick in later.

They took a taxi to the location based on Mathias’s hand drawn map. Initially the taxi driver did not want to send them there as he said it was dangerous, but he did not elaborate why. In fact, the entire movie did not touch on the background history of the Mayan pyramids or why the natives were so violent to the tourists. Basically it left big questions unanswered. Not sure if the director wanted to keep the mystery, but as a viewer I couldn’t understand why the Mayans behaved in such a way.

And then there is this part about the language barrier. The Mayans were shouting at the group in their native language, and the group was trying to talk to them about the search in English and Spanish. True that the different language did cause misunderstanding and got the group into trouble- Dimitri died cos they Mayans thought he wanted to attack them or something, the rest fled up to the top of the pyramid. But for the viewer at least give subtitles or something so that we can know why the Mayans were so agitated upon seeing the group’s arrival. If not it feels like they were talking rubbish.

After that in the middle part it is full of “ouch” and grimace when you see the characters being bloodied and strangled by the vines. Again, not much is known of the vines. They are good at repeating sounds (handphone ringing, voices etc) and everyone. including the natives avoid them like plague. But as to who planted them, how they are grown and their vocal abilities is not given.

Other than the gore there was much bickering and being helpless. Basically it is how you will feel when you are trapped in a high up isolated place with angry natives below who are after their your life when you come down. One school of thought is that the characters could have just burnt off the vines to save themselves, but I dont think they will have enough fuel to start a large scale fire. And like in any horror movie, the more you try to destroy something, the more those things make a come back.

Towards the end the surviving couple Amy and Jeff (okay now you know the that the rest are dead) had to escape, so the “boyfriend sacrifices his life for the girlfriend” movie cliché is played out here.  Amy escapes from the jungle in a jeep. The next day Dimitri’s Greek friends came into the pyramid to look for him, and face the same fate. The end. There are 2 alternate endings to the film, but Channel 5 didnt screen the version with either alternate ending.

As to whether there will be a sequel to the cliffhanger ending, I have a mixed answer. Probably the sequel can produce an explanation to account for the history of the Mayan pyramid and the vines, maybe focussing on a new group of travellers or even Mathias’s brother. (Okay it sounds like a prequel now) But since Amy already escaped, there is nothing to produce in the sequel since all tourists will end up dead in some way, like Dimitri’s friends.

Overall I thought it was quite meh for it to be a horror movie, even though I admit that the initial story build up was quite good. Sure it was gory enough, especially when you imagine yourself to have vines creeping under your skin. But the movie couldn’t redeem itself with the blood since the plot left many questions unanswered. If you are expecting some Mayan folk tale/conspiracy theories like the Mayan calendar in the movie 2012, be in for a disappointment. I guess it is a deliberate part of the director to keep things vague so that it is open to discussion and speculation for the audience, but sometimes a bit of closure is also preferred.

Okay long review here after a period of being missing for 8 days lol.

Messed up mind

Okay so exam is over. Not looking forward to getting my results.  Somehow the more I expect of myself the more disappointment I get. I am hurt enough and my confidence is wrecked by some of my assignments this semester. Bracing myself for the worst.

Meanwhile, I am still contemplating whether to do honours, given the current situation I am in. To be honest, I dont like writing essays. I just find myself being too rigid because I was paranoid that the marker was unable to see me link one point to another. “Where/what is your point?””It is there! Cant you f***ing see it?”.

During writing there is this thought constantly reminding me if I made the point clearly and whether I have answered the question. It is just torture to experience frequent mind blocks because I was afraid that the point wasnt made explicitly or I have strayed away. In the end it was a self-fulfilling prophecy come true- the point was unclear/some shit happened.

I do enjoy blogging and writing reports like reviews or factual history of something. I can write about all rubbish under the sky instead of some stupid scholarly arguments. Used to love writing academic essays but now I dread it, with all the worries weighing down on my mind like a bomb. Honours year would mean more writing, which I cant take it anymore.

Okay maybe it is the disappointment and worry which I cant take it anymore. Have been feeling grouchy for the past few days because I am not living up to my own expectations. My mind is exhausted now. I have not been writing anything constructive except updating my life and my feelings, which is probably of interest to no one. But I just want to let off some steam and I am feeling uncertain for the future.