Tag Archives: Singapore

Subhas Anandan, “The Best I Could”

The Best I Could The Best I Could by Subhas Anandan

My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s clear that Subhas Anandan wants to be seen as someone who values family ties, friendships and loyalty above all. What may surprise some people are his fairly conservative views: he has strong words for drug abusers and strongly disapproves of gambling.

Most of all he believes in the Singapore justice system. Although he would be the first to point out the system’s shortcomings, he genuinely believes that it works most of the time.

Even so, readers may be unnerved by some of his insights. For example he points out that contrary to popular assumption, an acquittal does not mean that the accused is innocent, merely that his guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Insofar as it’s possible to derive insights into a person’s character from his writing, Subhas emerges as a very private man with strong sense of loyalty, fairness and compassion. For a perceptive reader, the gaps in his narrative will provide tantalising hints to Subhas’s network of contacts and to how he actually sees the world.

But even the most dull will notice some unusual editorial choices. For example, Subhas’s description of his prison experiences are abruptly cut short and the book jumps to the section describing some of his cases, leaving the reader wanting him to finish this fascinating part of his life. Later he voluntarily includes a facsimile of a letter from one of his clients, currently detained indefinitely at the President’s pleasure. In view of his comments on the case, it seems clear that Subhas is trying to win sympathy for the boy.

His writing is concise and the tone scrupulously objective. Those looking for more lurid material (given Subhas’s career) will probably be disappointed. However the content is far from boring, and Subhas’s dry humour flashes occasionally.

View all my reviews.

Fountain Pens in S’pore FAQ

Have been thinking about compiling all the scattered bits of info about fountain pens in Singapore, and finally set up a page on WordPress. You can also see it as a tab on top of this page. Feel free to take a look, comment and so on 🙂

It’s still very much a work-in-progress. Will put in the links gradually. There’s an RSS feed for the page so you can be updated easily just by subscribing.

The failings of a elite university education

This essay crystallizes some of the deep misgivings about my education and, well, life up to this point.

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

An excerpt:

This is not to say that students from elite colleges never pursue a riskier or less lucrative course after graduation, but even when they do, they tend to give up more quickly than others […] Why should this be? Because students from elite schools expect success, and expect it now. They have, by definition, never experienced anything else, and their sense of self has been built around their ability to succeed. The idea of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them, defeats them. They’ve been driven their whole lives by a fear of failure—often, in the first instance, by their parents’ fear of failure.

(Incidentally, I did get a Phi Beta Kappa, but it hasn’t done much good for me, halfway across the world. All I get are exhortations to buy their merchandise :/ )

Now imagine a whole country that worships academic achievement as the main yardstick for personal success. Behind that are the best of intentions — from parents, government officers, and politicians — and we all know where those lead to.

Another fine productivity sink: Battle Stations

Battle Stations is a Facebook MMORPG that you add as an app. Developed by local start-up Tyler Projects, who also have a few other interesting games.

(I did try to sign up for Mobile Weapon once, but was turned off by the need for registration.)

Addicting. Get an airship, arm it, and blow stuff out of the sky 🙂 Oh, and explore too.

Back to dollars and cents. They’re currently earning most of their revenue from online ads, as expected:

Since October, Tyler Projects, the company he set up with two friends, has been raking in US$3,000 (S$4,300) a month from just one programme on Facebook.

The money is coming in from advertisers who have been placing movie trailers in the Battle Stations application that the trio created in two months.

The mini online strategy game allows users to build battleships, which they can use to fight others.

It has already attracted some 36,000 users – and it is these users who are helping to attract advertisers.

For every 1,000 pageviews, advertisers pay anything from US$5 to US$50.

(from an ST article, Dec 8 2007:

But if they had a micropayments system here they could get much, much more.

Why isn’t there one in Singapore?

Interestingly enough, their current art was outsourced to a company in China.

Reading without rhythm – 24/4/08

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Thanks TokyoMango!

Vom leisen Inferno der Depression und von der Unheimlichkeit des Glücks.

– Vantan gets a sneak preview of the Peranakan Museum. The museum occupies the old Tao Nan school building at Armenian Street, next to The Substation.

PingMag pays homage to Tony Silver, one of the first to identify and capture the anarchic spirit of graffiti culture on film in the 1984 Style Wars. When he went back to interview the same kids in 2003:

The reunion was different for each person. Some of them had succeeded as artists while others regretted what they had done in the past. But every single one of the kids Silver had captured in the early ’80s on his 16mm film were radiant and the filmmaker who shared that moment might have been one of the first few adults to deeply understand hip-hop culture.

– It’s nice that Newater’s winning prizes, but maybe we should learn from how the Aussies conserve water?

– Omodaka, responsible for the infectious Kokoriko Bushi video, has more music videos up on YouTube.

What is OMODAKA?
OMODAKA is the name of the project developed through a trial and error process of mutational fusion of music and motion graphics. It will knock over your existing image toward a music video by a beautiful trajectory.

OMODAKA って何?
音楽とモーション・グラフィックスの突然変異的融合を試行錯誤してきた企画の名前それ が OMODAKA。あなたのミュージックビデオに対する既存イメージを美しい軌跡でひっ くり返します。

– SFS is screening Manufactured Landscapes this Saturday afternoon (details here), and Sight and Sound has a review.

– Ok, we know Makhmalbaf, Kiarostami, Majidi, Abbas, (does Satrapi count? viz. Persepolis) But who’s Rakhshan Bani-Etemad?

Internationally, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad is a directors’ director, loved by the dedicated and the educated. At home, she is a godmother of Iranian cinema who has been working for two decades and whose films are hits even as they critique Iran’s paternalism. Her work deserves to be seen abroad because she addresses many of the questions which western Europe and America have, not only about living in an Islamic state but also about the individuality and identity of all women who live under anti-woman regimes.

– In criticising religion, atheists don’t have a good explanation of why religion is still so pervasive. They seem to have ignored its narrative power, as Mark Dery argues:

Arguably, this is because it’s not about God; rather, religion is simply the only philosophical (or, if you will, mythic) language available to some Americans to articulate their discontent and their visions of social change. The Dawkins/Hitchens question—What’s wrong with religion?—is far less illuminating than the question they might have asked: What are American evangelicals really talking about when they talk about religion?

SIFF 2008 — Milky Way Liberation Front, Keronchong for Pak Bakar, After the Rain

(cross-posted on the SFS blog. To see all cross-posts, click on the “SFS Blog” tag or category)

Leaving the cinema after the end credits for Milky Way Liberation Front rolled, that was the end of SIFF 2008 for me. I was already tired when we sat down to watch that movie. It was a good way to end the festival. Milky Way Liberation Front was fun, a long string of gags that gently poke fun at indie filmmaking, film festivals and the people who participate in them.

—–

Like his first short Datura, Abdul Nizam’s Keronchong for Pak Bakar is distinguished by impressionistic editing with strong narration and the use of vocabulary with religious undertones. There isn’t a clear narrative or chronological momentum, but the mix of image and narration can be slightly hypnotic.

I agree with Tan Pin Pin’s comments about the film: the work is concerned more with Abdul Nizam’s relationship with Abu Bakar bin Ali than with the latter’s past. In fact the documentary strongly suggests that the Abdul Nizam in the film is seeking a father figure identified with the golden age of Malay cinema. This search is expressed early in the movie as a search to know more about movie legend P Ramlee, through which Abdul Nizam discovers serendipitously that the man who lensed many of his movies lived just above him. At one point, Abdul Nizam expresses in regretful tones how he discovered too late that his hardworking father had loved film stars and movies. Throughout, Abdul Nizam is extremely respectful – even protective – towards Abu Bakar.

The material used in the documentary come from two major sources. The first is clearly the recorded footage from Abdul Nizam’s conversations with Abu Bakar. The second is more mysterious — footage of a train journey up Malaysia to Penang, ostensibly taken while location scouting for a feature film on P Ramlee’s life (according to Abdul Nizam the project eventually fell through).

Empty spaces feature prominently here, partly illustrating Pak Bakar’s current solitude. When I asked Abdul Nizam why he weaved in the silent, lonely sequences from his train journey, he indicated that it was partly to convince Abu Bakar to come out of his solitude more often, perhaps to work on film again.

That documentary left the audience with far more questions about Abu Bakar Ali than answers. Why did Abu Bakar stop working on films? Why does he mostly talk about technical matters — for most of the documentary he is fiddling with an old Bolex handheld camera — and nothing about himself?

—–

I’m still surprised and a bit disgusted that SIFF screened Royston Tan’s latest short “film” After the Rain before Keronchong for Pak Bakar. Rose-tinted nostalgia and banal cliches (the father coughs to prefigure his eventual death) pliantly placed in the service of the Singapore government’s ideological imperatives. This is not a film but an advertisement, worse than the Citibank ads played before every SIFF screening because of its slick hypocrisy. Why did SIFF even bother?