Showing posts from January, 2018

About Painting

I'm a sucker for movies about writers and artists. Always eager to learn some secret to success, I suppose. As if there is one. Local Color (2006), written and directed by George Gallo, is too simplistic and sentimental to be truly inspirational. The acting by Armin Mueller-Stahl (Nicholi Seroff, the older artist) and Trevor Morgan (John Talia, Jr., the younger artist) makes the film watchable.


I did not know David Hockney started out as an Abstract Expressionist at the Royal Academy. That was probably the greatest revelation of the Met show. In those early works, there was already a keen sense of color. The Room Tarzana (1967) is my favorite of the works on show, beating out all the swimming pools, glass-curtain buildings, Californian landscapes. It has this wonderful sense of coolness about its sexual heat. The most penetrating, psychologically, is "Henry Geldzahler & Christopher Scott" (1969), about the Met curator, ensconced on his throne, and his supplicant, t…

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

An outrageous satire that skewers race politics in the USA. I have to resort to a cliche: the book is unputdownable. I raced through the book, lapping up all the wonderful set-pieces and snappy one-liners. It made me laugh out loud quite a number of times. And you know what I used for a bookmark, my police report about my lost iPhone in Singapore. The opening sentence of the book: "This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I've never stolen anything." Uproarious! Finished it around Jan 3, only now blogging about it.

Conspiracy Theorists

1987: Singapore's Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On, edited by Chng Suan Tze, Low Yit Leng and Teo Soh Lung.

A valuable collection of testimonies and memories by the detainees, their family members, their lawyers, the campaigners for their release, and other supporters. This is not the place to obtain a full historical understanding of Operation Spectrum, the detention of 22 people in May 1987 for allegedly conspiring as Marxists to overthrow the state of Singapore; the pieces here are too fragmented and personal to give a steady picture. This is the place, however, where an agonizing silence has been broken, as the different participants of the historical incident recount, explain, and wonder aloud. The two most penetrating insights to emerge are, one, the then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew might have ordered the detention to initiate the new generation of government leaders, including his son Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister, into the blood sport of politics. They found t…

Living in a Time of Deception

Living in a Time of Deception by Poh Soo Kai (Singapore: Function 8 Ltd, 2016).

Dr. Poh Soo Kai was detained without trial for a total of 17 years on the false charge of being a communist out to subvert the state of Singapore. What he shows convincingly in this historical memoir is that, like many of his fellow detainees under Operation Coldstore, he was not a communist, but an anti-colonialist and socialist, in other words, a patriot. He was detained for so long because he refused to sign any statement that suggested otherwise. Such a powerfully principled person deserves a hearing at the very least. If you read this book and give him a hearing, as I did, you will make astonishing discoveries about Singapore's struggle for independence from the British, and the legacy of that struggle. After reading this book, I am outraged by the political chicanery for personal ends, but I am also inspired by the heroism of a few good men.

Star Attractions of Singapore

Star Attractions of Singapore: when will Parliament reverse the injustice that makes me a second-class citizen in my own country? Leaving Singapore tonight after giving away 33 out of 50 tank tops. Our biggest challenge is our (self-)imposed invisibility. Putting on an equality singlet is a small but significant way of saying, we're here, we're queer, get used to it. Looking forward to coming back for Pink Dot 2018 to join everyone in claiming and celebrating the right to love. #gaybutnotyetequal #singaporeunbound