Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at Singapore Esplanade Theatre (May 25 & 26, 2012) – See You There!

This is a leap of faith that has a dollar sign implication to my pocket.  A theater adaptation of Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.  Would that work?  We have seen the film adaptation of his Norwegian Wood.  While the content by and large appears to be faithful to the book, some essence in my opinion is lost.  As for this upcoming play, fortunately, I have some help in making the decision of to watch, or not to watch.  If you are tantalized by the news that The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is going to be performed at Singapore Esplanade Theatre, look no further.  There is expert advice for sharing, and there are some personal thoughts I have for you.  Let’s start with the expert views.

Expert Views

Last weekend, I was invited for a panel discussion at Ngee Ann City’s Kinokuniya bookstore.  The topic was The Art of Adaptation: Moving Beyond the Pages.  The discussion was facilitated by Kenneth Kwok, Deputy Director from the National Arts Council.  The two speakers were Margaret Chan, theater actress and academic, and Adeline Chia, arts correspondent with Straits Times.  I did not know what to expect or what was expected of me, because I have not attended a panel discussion in public before.  The last time I spoke through a pair of loudspeakers in Orchard was when my band performed for a charity.  This time, it did feel odd speaking in public voicing my personal opinions with shoppers passing by.  Just a little bit.

I don’t think Margaret Chan has read this book, or any of Murakami’s novel.  Her discussion contribution was largely based on her experience as a theater actress.  She quoted that authors are dead.  It is the readers who keep the books alive, or audience who ‘make’ the movie.  I suppose what it means is that forget about how much is being adapted, what do you get out of it?  How do you interpret the story?  She also highlighted that in a theater setting, it is often rich in visual imagery.  Live acting also adds a unique flavor to the presentation of the art.  Something we may wish to take note of when we watch The Wind-up Bird Chronicle as a play.

Adeline Chia, on the other hand, has read many of Murakami’s works.  She is such a fan that she does not want to watch the film adaptation of Norwegian Wood knowing well that the movie may not live up to the expectation.  Fair enough.  Does she think that a film can be as good as, if not better than a book?  It is possible, she said.  And she cited a few examples such as No Country For Old Man, Paprika, and The Shining.  As for me, I am finding it hard to make comparison between different medias of adaptation (including video games).  It boils down to one thing: How do you like the experience?  There are instances whereby watching a movie like Troy could well be a better experience for most mortals today than reading that book (I am looking at you, Homer).  Mel Gibson has done a great job in directing The Passion, an adaption of one of the Bible stories.  Paulo Coelho has also done a fantastic book adaption of the story of Elijah from the Hebrew Bible.  His book is called The Fifth Mountain.  A Game of Thrones TV adaptation seems to have done well, something I would like to judge it myself once I get hold of the discs.

There are many examples that adaptation can be successful.  I wish Margaret and Adeline could tell us more about the ingredients of success.  Their advice is: Forget about the book and enjoy the play as it is.  As someone who has read the book and is a big fan of Murakami, I would need something more to make that decision of to watch, or not to watch.

My Thoughts

I am not sure if the 68-page photo booklet titled Making of Wind-up Bird Chronicle by the director Stephen Earnhart would be on sales in the evenings of the performance.  If you are a fan of the play, do grab a copy.  It is filled with beautiful photographs – on set and beyond – as well as a brief documentation of his creative process.  Before creating this play, Earnhart has lived in the Far East for almost a year.  He talked to the locals, even met up with Murakami without knowing the author’ superstar status.  To visually present the interrelation of realism and surrealism, Earnhart relies on light and technology and props such as a puppet.   I do not know what the outcome of the play is to be.  As someone who has read the book, the photographs taken from the set seem convincing.  Hence, the leap of faith.

I will not walk into the theater pretending that I have not read the book.  Specifically, I would like to see how the director and his crew tackle the theme of free will versus fate.  I also want to see how the abstract concept of something can be visually presented.  Because the book puts much emphasis on each of us having that something within that defines who we are.  I want to see how the unseen world is interpreted by the director.  In additional, I am also interested to see how metaphors are incorporated into the play.  I am looking forward to hearing some Jazz music and seeing some kitchen scenes – signatures of some of Murakumi’s stories.  Last but not the least, I want to experience the loneliness at the bottom of a well through the actor.  If you are interested, a deeper discussion can be found in my book review.

Where to Get the Tickets?

There are three time slots in total – May 25, 2012 (Fri) 8pm, May 26 (Sat) 3pm & 8pm.  Cynthia and I are going to watch the last session.  Thinking of joining us?  Head to today!

15 Pairs Of Transformers 3 Tickets To Giveaway!

Note: Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm on Transformers 3 and I know some of you are eager to know if you will need to book next week’s tickets (when TF 3 opens), I am closing this contest today (Jun 24).  Winners will be contacted by email.  Thank you for your strong support and participation.  Stay tuned for more contests!

That’s right!  I woke up one day and found a stack of movie tickets to giveaway, courtesy of STAR Movies VIP Access.  15 of my lucky readers in Singapore will be watching the highly anticipated Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon on 28th June, The Cathay, at 6.45pm, in 3D, with a partner of your choice.  Yes, three Dee!  The story goes something like this.  One night I was fast asleep.  All of a sudden, one transformer crashed into my bedroom, woke me up, passed me an envelope and said, “This is good stuff!”  Before I could yell, “Hey, where in the world is Megan Fox?”  It turned into a table lamp and jumped off the window.  I opened the envelop and found 15 pairs of tickets.  Good things must be shared.  Hence, this contest.

To enter the contest, all you need to do is to drop me an email at with your name and submit your answers to the 4 questions below.  You don’t need to get any of the 4 questions right to win this contest so please don’t waste time and Google for the answers. I am looking for genuine attempt and creative answers.  My hope is that I can extract some of the outstanding ones to share on a latter day.  Something like I rub your back and you rub mine.  OK?

This contest will be closed on Jun 25, 2011 (Saturday). Winners will be contacted via email on the next day (Sunday).  Unless there is an overwhelming response, tickets will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to those who have taken a moment and answered the questions.  If however the response is much higher than expected, I will turn this into a lucky draw with the same priority applied.  Are you ready?

  1. Which planet do the Transformers come from? A) Azeroth, B) Krypton, C) Cybertron, D) The Moon, or E) Qo’noS.
  2. Why can’t Bumblebee talk?
  3. When you learned that Megan Fox is replaced by a 24 years’ old 5 feet 9 Victoria’s Secret model as Sam’s new love interest, what was your first reaction?
  4. In my drawing below titled “Autobots versus Decepticons”, which side is going to win and why?

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OK, one more thing to share.  With the launch of STAR Movies Pack, you will stand a chance to win a Subaru Forester 2.0X, a family trip for four to Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, and SkyPoint, Gold Coast Australia, amongst other fabulous instant prizes when you subscribe now.  More details below.

STAR Movies Pack includes: STAR Movies, STAR Movies HD, STAR Movies on Demand, and FOX Family Movies (Available on StarHub TV)
Promotion Period: 14 June – 14 August · Promotion Price: Free upgrade or $4 off your monthly subscription (valid for the first three months only) · Key content highlights: Avatar, Toy Story 3, Knight and Day, The A-Team, Date Night, etc. · For more information, please visit: (LIVE from 14 June – 14 August) · To subscribe, call 1630 or visit any StarHub retail outlet

Feb 7 – Mar 7: Eat, Pray, Love Read Along!

Some of you might have heard or even joined us for the Midnight’s Children read along last year.  OK.  That was a bit intense.  To kick start a new year, we are doing something lighter, something more – I suppose – popular.  I have no idea what I have got myself into.  The ladies have chosen Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”.  I vaguely remember Alex, my buddy from Hong Kong, said to me one day: “You won’t believe me.  I am reading Eat, Pray, Love.”  Back then, I have no idea what so unbelievable about him reading “Eat, Pray, Love”.  Months later, when I finally got my hands onto the book, the book’s subtitle reads: One woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia.  OK.  I think I now have a clearer idea on why it is so incredible for a man to read this book.  Buy hey, I have always enjoyed reading materials written from a woman’s perspective – online and offline.  I have started reading “Eat, Pray, Love”.  The tone and rhyme of the author’s writing style appears to be agreeable.  I am eager to see what I can get out of this.

For those who have joined me for the previous read along, you should be familiar with Jo, a blogger from UK.  Jo’s friend, J from Canada, is joining us this time.  Feel free to pop by their websites to get a feel on how we are going to eat, pray, and love till March 7.  We have agreed that after reading the book, we will watch the movie too in order to gain a holistic experience.  By then, I could well be vividly entertained or totally horrified by how some women think.  We shall see.

Many asked: What is a read-along? It is a simple concept.  We read with a timeline in mind.  And we discuss online via blog posts and comments at the end of the read-along activity.  If you have a website or you are socially networked, feel free to spread the words.  You are welcome to post your thoughts in our websites.  Or link your post to ours.  This is free and easy exercise.  We do this for fun.  Jo’s post comes with book club discussion questions as well as questions and interview posted by Penguin Group.  Do pop by her site to take a look.  I often find it more fulfilling to read a book with the discussion questions planted in my head beforehand (think Shakespeare’s masterpieces).

OK.  Enough talking.  Lets do more reading.  Go grab your copy of “Eat, Pray, Love” today!

External Links: (1) Jo’s announcement post and (2) J’s announcement post

Merry Christmas, And A Brief Summary Of 2010

What a year 2010 has been!  By the time you read this, I am very much on my way leaving town, looking forward to meeting Cynthia’s family and enjoying the serenity of an Internet blackout.  Back to basic, somewhere in Indonesia.  I can imagine how I would hear the ringing in my ears at night, be greeted by the rather cool air in the morning, the prayers from a mosque nearby before the break of dawn.  I would have so much time to exercise, to read, to revise my Spanish, to take a walk in the neighborhood, and to taste the local food.

The official announcement was out yesterday.  My entry of “Sea Turtle” has won over the judges from the HP team, against some of the stiffest competitions.  I have read some of entries written by fellow bloggers showcased at the HP Singapore Facebook page, and they are good.  I am thrilled, very thrilled that the judges were won over by – quoting from the email – my creativity, relevance to the topic, and the originality of my story.  And I dedicate this little achievement of mine to you, my readers.  Especially those who think that I should take up writing more seriously, and the encouragement I receive when I venture outside my comfort zone – in terms of writing.  Also, thanks to Amelia from Waggener Edstrom who has been encouraging and reminding me to complete the entry.  Your positive energy is a blessing to those around you.  You should be my agent, should my writing career takes off.

I enjoy writing “Sea Turtle” a lot.  Because it took me a few good weeks to research on the subject matters down to how sea turtles hear and what sea turtles do.  And it took some good thinking in order to put together a folklore, as inspired by Italo Calvino and his lecture notes “Six Memos for the Next Millennium”.  I am not literature trained.  I wish I was.  Having said that, I would probably hate writing if it was so.

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This doodle of mine (on top of this post) is titled tentatively as “Rain of Heaven and Fire of Chaos”.  It started as a ginger bread man – Cynthia can vouch for it.  But I tossed the idea away and started afresh, with something more complex.  Because that ginger bread man and Christmas tree composition was going nowhere.  I am not sure if anyone would get what this drawing is trying to say.  It is a rather private piece of composition.  Hence the zipper.

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Instead of spending time to write a batch of posts to be released while I am away like I used to – which I suppose most readers would be busy celebrating the festive season and new year with family and friends – I dedicate my time going through all my year 2010 posts.  OK.  Retract a little.  Before I went through my posts this year, I tried to recall what I did in 2010.  Nothing significant came up.  The other day, I had lunch with my good friend Shauna.  We concluded that time flies, year 2010 has disappeared as quickly as it arrived.  Cynthia and I had dinner with our good friend Tong Kiat two evenings ago for his birthday celebration at Dempsey Road.  We also concluded the same.  Now, when I did take time to look through what I have done, here are some of my favorite entries that you may or may not have read.  Some, I have even forgotten that they were written.  Back to the first practical reason of why I blog.  Time does fly.  But not without leaving behind some of the fondest memories.

In no particular order, there is a brief summary of my year 2010.

  1. My niece Bethany was born in January!  When I look at my little sister, who is so full of heavenly joy, it is hard to believe that she now has a little daughter.  My photo is seldom featured here.  The one taken on Bethany’s 100th day birthday still melts my heart whenever I look at it.
  2. I do many silly things in life.  Regardless, these would have been my talking points if we are to meet face-to-face.  Like that toilet bowl incident.  Like that little operation I had on my toe and my buddy still thinks that it was not a piece of hair.  I should have kept the specimen, as what my doctor has suggested.  And like that hard sales incident that till today, whenever I am inside Thomson Plaza, I try to avoid that counter.  Cynthia would say: Don’t worry, you are with me and no one will touch you! Yep.  I feel so much protected with Cynthia around.
  3. If I have to pick one post I enjoy writing the most this year, besides that sea turtle post, that would be the koala post.  Or the one on Indonesian forest fire.  The style is similar.  It takes effort and tons of luck to chain up the stories.  What if I fail to chain them up?
  4. Well, the materials would turn into the “Snippet of My Life” series, which has been running for more than three years.  Snippet without a doubt holds a special place in my heart.  Of all that I have written this year, episode 27 is my favorite.
  5. Our band has performed live gigs in Bali Culture, which unfortunately the land that the restaurant sat on has been repossessed by our government.  Our band has not been doing much lately, due to a missing drummer, and subsequently, lost in momentum and motivation.  Sometimes in life, there are something that I wish.  And there are something that are out of reach.
  6. Writing travel journals takes so much time and sustained concentration.  However, I am glad that I do.  My favorite albums would be Gorges du Verdon in France and Lamma Island in Hong Kong.
  7. Counting how much time and money I have spent on learning Spanish is, scary.  From time to time, I use what I have learned from my Spanish class as an inspiration for my posts.  When I was 18 is one good example.
  8. What else?  Of course, for many years to come, Cynthia and I would still be laughing about how we spent our 10th wedding anniversary.

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Yesterday I was on leave.  Ever since I have been relocated to the east, hardly do I have the opportunity to meet my sister for business lunch.  Because she works at the west.  So I was thinking: Why not gang up with Bethany – my niece – (together with Benny of course) and  have a Surprise!! lunch with my sister?  The logistic turned out to be more tedious than I thought.  So instead of a Surprise!!, we have a “surprise”.  Lora was fully aware of our visit.  Still, it was a fun day.

Below is a photo taken with my niece Bethany possibly mouthing and gesturing “I am number one” or “My mama is the best” or “My papa is the coolest” or “Hey, pass me that camera of yours, would you?”  In the middle is my sister Lora, and by her sides, Benny and Bethany.  Now that I look closer at the photo, I am very much convinced that Bethany was mouthing MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Nov 12 – Dec 13: Midnight’s Children Read Along!

Another good reason of why I blog is because I get to meet like-minded bloggers online over time.  Call it mutual support or mutual respect or simply mutual pollination of ideas, I treasure sustained mutual bumping of each others’ websites.  Some last over the years.  Writing can be a lonely affair.  It is always good to have a handful of visible companions while finding my ways in this mental jungle of mine.  Monthly page-views mean little if none translates into a visible dialog, a visible relationship.

OK.  Enough digression.  Long story short, Jo (from UK) and I both need a reading buddy for Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”.  And she has this idea.  Why don’t we  start a read along and in the mist of it, get readers to join us online?  Great idea.  I said on!  Over the weekend, she has come out with a thick business-like e-proposal detailing the logistics and the options for this read along exercise.  Goodness gracious me!  Jo means business.  Even though I fear of reading Salman Rushdie’s novels, I have this urge to grind through it.  Who knows?  I may enjoy the process.

That was back in August.  Since then, 9 other bloggers (together with their respective readers) have joined.  The idea is pretty simple.  Over the read along period between Nov 12 and Dec 13, book club discussion questions will be hosted at her website every week.  You can discuss these questions over at her website or you can express your views in yours and have the link sent to Jo.  She will do the collation and etc.  If you do wish to get your readers of your website to participate, feel free to sign up at her website.


Today, I did a lengthy count (and I can only count the things I can see, such as comments posted in my site).  85% of my active readers are female.  12% are male and the remaining 3% are unknown.  Judging from what I see on the street, in the bookstores, and in the library, I reckon more girls read books than guys do (and wouldn’t you wonder why?).  So, I am expecting A LOT of you heading over to Jo’s website and join us for this read along.  Yes? Of course, I need some guy power too though realistically speaking …

External Link: More details on read-along at Jo’s website.