Moon Tower: A Builder, A Girl, And A Mysterious White Rabbit – A Doodle

Once upon a time, I loved to doodle.  That was two years ago.  Surprisingly, the pen I have bought for this very purpose still works.  It is a surprise because these sort of pens do dry out over time.  On that thought, I shall stock up more of this sort the next time I hit town.

One doodle of mine!

The title of this doodle – Moon Tower: A Builder, A Girl, And A Mysterious White Rabbit – is the same as the story I wrote one entry before this one.  If you have read the story, you should be able to interpret this doodle with little difficulty.

Drawing is therapeutic.  This evening, I needed just that.  So exhausted after a long, long day at work, I did not even have the energy for active entertainment like playing video games or socializing through Google+.  I picked up my pen, some sketch papers, and started doodling.

Like how the story was crafting, I was about to give up on the initial concept after the first attempt.  I started with the tower.  It was too structured.  Too boring.  Perhaps my drawing is a reflection of my life, which in my case, is currently dominated by work.  On my second attempt, I have refocused the drawing around the three main characters.  And then developed the rest from the main theme, with an abstract touch.  This doodle was initially drawn in landscape orientation, on a A3 paper.  As I added more contextual materials onto the painting, I feel that it is best to be viewed in portrait.  Of course, now the northern side of the island appears on the bottom and hence, looks like the south instead.  That is rather unfortunate.  But I suppose that is one way to break the structure eh?

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!

Sea Turtles, I “AMP” You!

It is time like this when I feel like I am staring in the movie “Troy”.  Not as Brad Pitt of course, but rather one of the many soldiers who gets his point-one second of camera time.   But that is OK.  As someone who is reborn into this new generation of whoever participates wins, I am happy to contribute, fully aware of the likely outcome.   For yet another contest this time invited by HP, I hope the panel of judges will get what I am trying to say (sometimes even I don’t).  We know how the last contest turned out.  So I am going to stick with the drawing bits and leave out the music bits.   The title of this drawing is “A Sea Turtle Butchered – What Santa could do with the help from Wilfrid who in turn needs some money from HP to make a difference”.

One folklore goes something like this: For many years, the inhabitants of the underwater village Da’Touk Thump have lived a relatively peaceful time.  They spend most of the time frolicking in the sea, eating jelly fish, and mowing sea grass.   Once in a while, some females get knocked up and they take care of their “business” on dry land, away from Da’Touk Thump.   No one knows why eggs have to be laid in a place so far away.   But the sea turtles are not complaining.  They treat it as a seasonal holy pilgrimage.   Religion always manages to explain all the unknown unknowns, even for the sea turtles.

No one knows how the bipeds come into existence.   One sea turtle legend goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was a royal dispute in Da’Touk Thump.  Two princesses were fighting for the throne and eventually, Princess Ho’Mos-Api was ousted out of the palace.   Feeling the rage inside her turtle shell, she heaved herself out of the sea and vowed never to return.   Once she reached the shore, with super-turtle effort, Ho’Mas-Api yanked herself out of the shell.  And the unthinkable happened; she began to walk on two legs!   Over the years, the descendents of Ho’Mos-Api have populated the shore and named the village Aa’Rr Pop.  One day, they discovered fire.   Since then, they have incorporated sunny-side-up sea turtle egg and roast sea turtle steak into their menu of fruits de mer.  It was a sad day for the Da’Touk Thump inhabitants.

One morning, Tortu’Aga-Mari realizes that she is pregnant.  And she prays to the gods.  A rabbit appears and says, “Say no more!   I hear you!  Many times I’ve told you sea turtles the importance of abstinence.”  “What should I do now?” Tortu’Aga-Mari implores.   The rabbit pulls out a magical collar from his furry chest and says, “My child, you have two choices.   Wear this on your neck.  You may still face the choppers of the Aa’Rr Pop villagers but the wounds inflicted upon you will be amplified in a mysterious way.   However, if you choose to wear this around your tummy, all the fertilized eggs inside you will vanish.  But no sea turtle will bear any eggs in Da’Touk Thump – not today and never in the future!”

A hero or a zero, what is it going to be?  Visualizing how to take off the turtle suit is tedious enough.  Obviating the entire turtle race?  That is genocide in a turtle sense.  Tortu’Aga-Mari  gives it a little thought and has decided to wear the collar onto her neck.   At nightfall, Tortu’Aga-Mari tiptoes under a starry night onto the dry land where many of the sea turtles lay their eggs and some end up on a dinning table.   The bipeds are waiting.  Tortu’Aga-Mari does not stand a chance.   As the turtle-sacrifice is being chopped into pieces, the collar works its magic; all the women back in the Aa’Rr Pop village magically feel the blade and disintegrate into chucks of flesh.  Each time a piece of Tortu’Aga-Mari comes off, pieces of the same proportion come off from the women in the village.  There is bloodbath at the shore; and there is bloodbath in the Aa’Rr Pop village.   The men happily chopping the poor turtle have no idea that they are indirectly chopping their own women back home.   Soon, news of the village travels to the ears of the bipeds at the shore; scent of the shore intrudes the Da’Touk Thump inhabitants in the sea.   Shocked, the bipeds return to their village moan at their mishap; the sea turtles swim all the way from the sea and stare at a bucket full of turtle meat, shocked.

There are many versions of how this folklore ends.  Amongst all, this is my favorite: Out of nowhere, a rabbit materializes at the shore and screams, “Say no more!  I hear you all!”  The rabbit curiously looks into the bucket and in his surprise, sees a pounding heart.   The heart of Tortu’Aga-Mari.  He digs his furry arm into the bloody bucket, stirring vigorously as though he is a chef marinating the meat.   The sea turtles gasp at the scene and cry in silence.  The rabbit clicks his tongue, rolls his eyes to the night sky, and says, “I still hear you!”  After what seems like an eternity, in one swift motion, the rabbit pulls something out from the bucket.   It is the magical collar.  In one majestic gesture, the rabbit carefully wraps the pounding heart with the collar.  A blinding light immediately radiates to all directions, momentarily dazzles the sea turtle audience.  Metal zippers grow from the collar weaving their ways along the wounds of the mutilated limps and body of turtle-sacrifice.  In no time, Tortu’Aga-Mari becomes whole and in one orgasmic ending, the final piece of the collar – or what is left of it – permeated by the prayers of millions of sea turtles wraps around the newly mended Tortu’Aga-Mari, hardens and becomes a golden, grandiose shell.   The sea turtles are in awe of the miracle, a miracle they have unknowingly partaken.   The rabbit lets go a sigh of triumph and smiles, “My work here is done!”   And poof, he disappears.  Tortu’Aga-Mari is reborn.

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Both my drawing and this posting are inspired by the CNN Hero of 2010 nominee, Oscar Aranda.   Oscar in the category of defending the planet does not win.   Voters seem to be touched more by the thousands of girls saved from sex slavery than the many mother sea turtles saved and thousands of baby sea turtles released back to the sea.  HP wants to know how I would make my Christmas holiday better than before (or in their technical lingo: How I “AMP” my Christmas).   With HP’s full financial aid, I am happy to spend two to three weeks in Mexico with Western Ecological Society, document the sea turtle preservation effort, and share with the online community my photos and journals.  Keep a look out on HP Facebook page.  I will need your votes to become Brad Pitt for a change.

PS. No sea turtles or turtles of any kind are harmed during the drawing of this featured picture.  I wish I could credit the folklore to some ancient civilizations that worship sea turtles, like the Moche people of ancient Peru.  But any resemblance to real life creatures alive or dead is purely coincidental.

External Links: An article by CNN on Oscar Aranda, Western Ecological Society Website (in English)

I Blog Because …

My blogger buddy Walter has written an excellent post on why he blogs regularly.  I have been wanting to write a similar topic for ages.  So why not do it now?

I blog because … I am highly imaginative?

  1. I have this special ability to look pass the pathetic statistics and number of comments in my website and visualize millions of fans waiting eagerly for what I am going to post next.  You hear right!  I do it for the people.  In fact, I am so psyched by my vision that I manage to psych those who are around me.  Some think that I am a celebrity blogger.  Erm.
  2. I have this vision that one day in the very distant future, when our planet would be populated by another species that replace homo sapiens, in one of the dig sites, they would discover a hard disk that would date back to our present era.  Inside, they would find my website.  And I would have become legendary.  Pretty much like the dinosaur bones now displayed in the museums.  Note: This inspires my doodle above titled “Original Disk”.
  3. I love to do voluntary work.  In the old days, people were happy to pay for things that they consumed.  Nowadays, from music albums to books, from recent movie blockbusters to daily news, people want to consume things for free – legally or illegally.  Most bloggers write for free.  Because we love what we do.  In fact, I have this vision that at the pinnacle of our civilization, none of us would work for money.  Money would vaporize.  How nice?

I blog because … I am a dreamer?

  1. I have this dream.  One day I will be a writer.  Like a real writer who writes books that people read and critic.  I have no idea how to get there although I do have millions of ideas in my head.  I reckon if I keep writing, every other day, if I keep on practicing, by the power of some cosmic random events, I might have my dream comes true.  And then I can quit my day job, do my writing in some exotic locations sponsored by my publisher.  Wouldn’t life be lovely?
  2. I see my website as the incubator for my budding hobbies, my decades old hobbies.  Publishing my work online forces me to keep doing it and doing it better.  Sure, some hobbies may take a nosedive.  Like the gazillion number of fans and friends who recently ask: What happens to your band?  Do you still jam? Sure, it feels crap every time when I have to explain why our band is in hiatus.  But in the long run, this invisible support, my commitments made public, all crystallized into an invisible cane that keep me going.
  3. Oh yes.  If my writing career does not work out, may be I could be a musician?  A professional doodler?  A Spanish video blogger?  Well …

For all practical reasons and beyond …

  1. I keep a website to keep track on what I do over the years.  I would feel empty if decades pass by and I have no recollection on what I have done, what I have tried to do.  Sure, we should live in the present.  But the past is just as important.  That is why there is a degree called History.  Uh huh?
  2. The difference between an offline diary and an online diary, to me, is vast.  Because I have an online diary, I strive to live an interesting and inspiring life each and every day.  Otherwise, I would have nothing interesting and potentially inspiring to write online.  Yes?

Titled Nightmares – A Doodle

If you are amongst the rare ones who follow my doodling career, you may realize that this picture contains quite a fair bit of detail.  Quite possibly one of the more ambition drawings I have worked on to date.  It is titled “Nightmares”.  One early morning, before the break of dawn, before the train started to operate, in our bedroom that was dark and quiet and inviting for a few extra moments of sleep before the screaming of the alarms at seven o’clock, I felt someone was frantically grabbing me.  I woke up, could not go back to sleep.  Cynthia woke up, realized that it was a nightmare, and went back to sleep.  Hence this doodle.  With me, eye wide open and her, eye wide shut.

In the morning, I asked what happened.  Cynthia rarely dreams.  But when she dreams, she always finds herself running away from something.  This time, her dream has something to do with knives and cut wounds on the arms.  Many knives, many arms.  Hence, the right side is composed as such together with the arms inside her head.  But as you can see, the arms and knives that appeared so real to her were merely illusions to me.  Hence the abstractly looking, distorted arms and knives on the left side of the composition.  I like symmetry.  Round about the same period of time, I had my share of nightmares.  About work.  About people from work.  There are four unnamed colleagues who are especially scary.  Hence the four figures inside my head.

OK.  There is a bed with a headboard too.  In case if you wonder what it is.