Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WOMAD Singapore's Here Again

I got this WOMAD Singapore 2007 brouchure at Lasalle's admin office, and I was surprised that this year's going to be the 10th year in which WOMAD is being held in Singapore. Ten years! I knew WOMAD is no longer new to Singapore and it's citizens, but then I didn't realise that it was that long already, and I'm ashamed to say that although I'm a world music lover, I had never attended any of WOMAD's performance before. Not even when I actually knew of its existence since the day I started listening to Passion 99.5FM.

So what the hell have I been doing? I couldn't quite remember, but I guess it's either I was too busy with many things (Chinese opera and work), or there was simply too many acts which I couldn't decide which day to go for (for those who are still clueless, WOMAD is not just a one-night festival, but a three-day event). However, I think this year round, I shall try an attempt to go, even if it's just one out of the three days. The only problem is whether or not my studies and part-time job (still finding) would get in the way. Well, I guess I'll just have to see how things turn out first and then make a decision. Hopefully I'll not miss it again this year!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Javan Myna

A few days ago, as I was surfing the net in the morning, I heard some chirping sound coming from beyond the window just behind my computer monitor. When I pulled open the curtains to my window, I saw a Javan Myna resting on the ledge. This is the first time I've came in such close contact with a bird (other than during my childhood days when I had sparrows as pets), and I was tempted to snap it with my camera.

The bird seemed to notice that I was "spying" it from behind and flew off. It was such a pity, or else I'd defintely take more pictures of it!

Back To The Books

It’s finally confirmed; I’ll be leaving my current position at work with effect from 19 August to take up a degree course in Visual Communications in Lasalle. It has been a very tough decision for me to make, as this degree course is a full-time one, which means I’ll have to find a part-time job to support myself through my four years in Lasalle, something which I’m not sure if I can really survive through or not. However, as this is my only chance for me to get into the field that I’m really interested in, I’ve decided to just give it a shot.

Hello, Lasalle!

Therefore, I went to apply for it late last month, and was subsequently called up for an interview which required me to prepare a portfolio of at least 10 artworks beforehand. And because of this portfolio I had been busy doing drawings and designing works like the “Mona Lisa Goes China” sketching which I had talked about previously. The interview was a success and I was given the confirmation the very same afternoon (originally I was told the confirmation would take about a week).

My precious zipped portfolio with leather casing;
not just precious because it is my gateway to a better future, but it cost me quite a bit of money as well!

After receiving the confirmation, I submitted my resignation the following day. My resignation created quite a bit of hoo-ha in the office as my other colleagues were discussing over it, to the extent that my colleague from another branch knew about it even though the news wasn’t broken to her. Some of them even bombarded me with questions like why I wanted to leave, and whether or not my resignation was due to work-related problems. I didn’t want to say much; even my GM didn’t asked me much questions when she interviewed me, and I see no reasons to entertain such questions, for I know this will be a never-ending Q&A session, and might even blown out into a mini-press conference.

Now that everything has been settled, my next concern was of course to find part-time jobs to sustain my income. Of course, that would have to come after I get my timetable for my lessons, but one thing for sure is that I’ll be leading a more hectic life from now on. However, it still beats taking on a permanent afternoon shift, which meant completely no life for me (no catching of performances, no opera rehearsals, no outing with friends)!

Those who had seen my "Very Tai-Tai 2007" series of post might recall a photograph of a Wat in Nakhon Nayok. I know my painting skills sucks, but hey! This is by far the best I can do, and some parts of the painting was actually imaginated as in the original photograph, there was a built-up tent in front of the temple square, obscuring part of the view of the temple.

A logo which I had come up with for my opera troupe, which was not used in the end (fellow opera troupe friends should know why)

This looks like a typical print ad for a coach travel company...

... But it's not! It's actually a parody suggesting that customers should expect less superior service onboard if they are not willing to pay more, a scenario which has been happening over and over again in recent months.

Bored ratings: *****; what else can I say?!

I'm not sure if anyone can notice that I actually used various traditional elements in this artwork; Indian-styled Buddha image, lotus image from a traditional Chinese kite, cloud pattern from a Thai print art and maple leaves from a traditional Japanese painting.

My friend Ryann, edited to show his jovial, loud (slightly) and showy nature

This artwork is the one I've chosen to showcase in my portfolio presentation; it may not be the best among the rest, but at least this is something I really have had a concept, and the only piece I can really talk about.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cantante Del Favorito: Neri Per Caso

One last group I would like to introduce for the day is Neri Per Caso, an a capella sextet from Italy. Their self-titled debut album (released slightly over a decade ago, if I'm not mistaken) was an instant hit, partly due to the title song "Le Ragazze".

What's amazing about this sextet is that, from what I've read, they did not receive any official music training prior to their break into the commercial music scene, and yet they can sing and harmonise so well. Their subsequent albums were not bad either, but it seemed like none could match up to their debut album.

It has been quite a few years since I last had updates on them, since I'm now more crazy over Thai and regional pop. However, I'm still curious to know the status of the sextet now; they're still the best a capella group in my heart.

Interesting Song: "Regretting What I Said"

This is a rather interesting song which I'd heard a few years back, titled "Regretting What I Said". This song was first performed by Christine Lavin, but in this video, it was covered by Victoria Moore. Well, the video may be boring, but just listen to the lyrics.

If you can't listen to the words clearly, here's the lyrics for your reference:

Regretting What I Said...
Words and Music by Christine Lavin/Flip-A-Jig
Music ASCAP & Happy Valley Music BMI
Copyright 1986, Palindrome Records, Philo

This song is called "Regretting what I said to you when you called me at 11:00
on Friday morning to tell me that 1:00 Friday afternoon you were gonna leave
your office, go downstairs, hail a cab, to go out to the airport, to catch a
plane, to go skiing in the Alps for two weeks. Not that I wanted to go with you;
I wasn't able to leave town, I'm not a very good skier, I couldn't expect you to
pay my way, but after going out with you for three years, I don't like surprises.
(And it's subtitled "A Musical Apology". In this song, I attempt to take back
everything I said while standing in a phone booth at the corner of 49th and 3rd)

I didn't mean it when I said I hope
The cable in the elevator snaps when you step on board.
And I was joking when I said I hope you crack your head
And get mangled by the downstairs revolving doors.
And I was kidding when I said I hope the Number one-o-three bus
Hits and makes a pancake out of you.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
Isn't it amazing what a woman in love will do?

And I really don't want to see your taxi
On the 59th Street Bridge
Flip over and crash through the rail.
And I'd feel bad if at the airport
You were mistaken for a local sex offender,
Arrested, beaten up, and thrown in jail.
And I really don't want to see you getting
Radiation poisoning from the metal detector that all passengers
On foreign and domestic flights must walk through.
I'm sorry, forgive me
For all the mean things I said to you.

You thought I didn't have a temper.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, surprise!
But I really don't want to see you dismembered
By the marijuana sniffing dogs,
When a simple little nipping would suffice, would suffice.

And I'm sorry that I said I hope
The plane explodes in Mid Air
As it carries you away from me
And I'm sorry that I said
I hope you break both legs
On the mountain while you ski.
And I'm sorry for all the nasty things
I said about your mother
(Even though we both know they're true).
I'm sorry, forgive me,
I'm swallowing my pride,
I'd feel so guilty if you died,
Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm still mad at you.

Cantante Del Favorito: Los Tri-o

Among all the non-English and non-Chinese singers whom I've listened to, the singer/ band whom I had the most number albums of is Los Tri-o, a Columbian 3-men band singing Bolero style of songs. Like Carlos Ponce, I got to know this group from "Passion".

What I like about them was that their harmonising are quite soothing to hear, and after listening to them for quite a while, I gets hooked on to listening Bolero too. However, it has been quite a while listen I last bought their CDs as I simply couldn't afford to always order them over the internet. Perhaps I should make a trip down to HMV or Borders one of these days to take a look if they still carry such CDs or not; it's high time to do some catching up with all my favourite singers and bands!

Cantante Del Favorito: Carlos Ponce

Many years ago, there used to be a station residing on FM 99.5 Mhz band called "Passion". This station was a product of National Arts Council to promote arts and culture, and among the programmes for this station includes timeslots dedicated to world music, latin-pop and jazz. The period when "Passion" was still on-air can be considered one of the happiest moments of my life, as I can get the chance to listen to a wide range of music genres, and getting to know other good singers beyond Mandarin and English pop (and perhaps Japanese pop too). Carlos Ponce was one of them, and he was one of the first few singers whom I actually listened to and like his music.

Carlos Ponce was borned a Puerto Rican, but is now based in US. His self titled debut album in 1998 was in my CD collection, and sad to say that was the only album I had of him although I think he was really good. His albums were hard to find, and I'm not sure if the stocks were simply too limited, or that there were some legal issues which made his albums less readily available for purchase. But anyway, even with my low income now, I don't think I can even afford to buy his CDs, even if I could find one!

Cantante Del Favorito: Vitas

It has been quite a while since I last blogged, as I had been busy doing sketching, drawing, painting and doing graphic designing work, until yesterday morning at 9.30am did I stop. I shall not go into further details as to why I did that (the answer will be out within these 2 days latest, anyway), but for now, I shall post some other nitty gritty stuffs about myself, so that no one would think that I've abandoned my blog or anything.

In this post, I shall talk about my favourite singer, Vitas. He's a young singer-actor from Russia, and is most famous for his almost-unbelievably high falsetto. In his most famous song till date, "Opera #2", he sang in falsetto in the chorus, and when I first heard this song, I almost thought it was sung by a female soprano, until I saw him singing on stage.

Of course, he doesn't sing all these ultra high-pitched falsetto in all his songs, but then again, this was like almost a signature trademark of his singing style, and something seemed to be lacking when he doesn't do that even though he sounded just as good singing within "normal" vocal range.

On a sidenote, recently I've changed the ringtone of my company mobile phone to the chorus of "Opera #2", and some of my colleagues seemed a bit uneasy with it. I guess they find it a bit eerie sounding, but nevertheless I still like it!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mona Lisa Goes To China

This afternoon, I started doing a black-and-white sketch titled "Mona Lisa Goes Places: China" and finally had it completed. The central figure of my art is the world-famous Mona Lisa, but with her features, clothings and backdrop changed to Chinese setting. This is the first time I've done black-and-white sketching since Primary two, and my first attempt at doing anything bigger than A4 (this portrait was in A3, anyway).

Now, perhaps this lady here don't really look like Mona Lisa, and my drawing technique may not be good too. However, I hope this piece of work is still an acceptable one in terms of technicality and aesthetics!

PS: Why am I drawing this all of a sudden? Well some of you guys whom I know might have a bit of clue. but I shall not disclose it for now, for fear some "undesirable" figures might surf my blog by chance and find out something. I shall only disclose when the time is right, maybe by the mid of this month!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

My "Room mates" 2

This is a continuation on my last post of the same title, but no, I'm writing this not because there're new "members" joining my room, just that 2 of my "room mates" had gone for a bit of a makeover. They are: Miss "Qing Yi" and "Lao Da"!

For Miss "Qing Yi", I've repainted her face, so now she no longer look dirty and shabby. Sad to say, I wasn't able to cover the crack on her face no matter how much white primer I use. Actually painting Teochew wire puppets are very difficult, because of the painting techniques used. As in typical traditional face paintings used in Teochew dolls and puppets, a very firm hand and a very fine brush is needed in order to draw some really ultra-thin and smooth lines. As you can see, my skills weren't there, and there's visible signs that my strokes were a bit too strong. Luckily, it wasn't too serious to be really considered a damage. Other than painting her face, I've changed the attached on hair behind her back too. Originally, there was only a piece of black cloth (already in bad condition) behind her back, simulating the long tassled silk thread hair-piece that hua dans wore when they dress up in "da tou". I thought the black cloth looked real ugly, so I snipped it off, and replaced it with a tassle of black embroidery threads I've made myself, and I think she looked better now. The next thing which I think need to be done on her, is to gibe her a new set of costumes, which could be a problem as I don't know embroidery, and removing her current costume off her body could be a problem as it has been glued and nailed firmly over her wooden body.

As for "Lao Da", I've given his face a new coat of paint too, as the original paintwork was simply too ugly, and slightly chipped too. I think I did a better paint job on "Lao Da", because of the bigger surface area of the head. After redoing his paint, I've also re-threaded the strings, as I found the colour of the original white threads an eyesore, and also the positions on the marionette whereby the various threads were attached too were a bit not ideal. Now I think "Lao Da" looked more visually pleasing with this new set of paint and strings!