My Band “No Eye Candy” Live Performance at Heeren Singapore 2018 (Subtitled at YouTube)

This recording by my brother-in-law Benny Pang and my sister Lora Wong is possibly the best public performance we had with my band No Eye Candy. It was a charity event Music for Hope. Jason Tan was my lead guitarist. Wieke Hartono was our drummer and had decided the pick up the guitar instead. The bassist was Cynthia Arianto, also the vocalist. And I wrote the songs, played the rhythm guitar, and was the main vocalist. Selrol Ng, the now-wife of Jason, was our band manager, and thanks to Selrol, she got us the gig. Wieke had personally arranged our music and she was so creative. Behind the scene, we had a lot of practice sessions including traveling all the way to KL Malaysia to play for our friend Jason Seet seeking his opinion. All songs are original, written by me. We had a great time.

Ah … good old days.

Since I left Hong Kong and studied in the UK, I have always enjoyed making music. I am not good at singing cover songs. I would rather write my own.

My music journey is the witness of my life journey. 162 songs I have written thus far and I want to write more. Play more music.

When I first played my music to my then-colleagues Jason and Jeremy, they were intrigued. We jammed together making music together. Most of the time, Jason would come over to my home, my music studio, and played the guitar while Cynthia would play the guitar. For the longest time, there were the three of us. Other members come and go. Lester the drummer. There was another drummer Chip. He left too. Finally, Wieke an Indonesian joined us as a drummer – a very good one. Though not 100% committed to us as she preferred to play the guitar. She left us too. Middle East. For love. Soon Jason left as he married Selrol our band manager and have kids. And the band has gone into hiatus.

But hey. Life is a journey. It is the memories that we treasure. I always look back at my music career. There have been highs and lows. But never a dull moment.

Wandering (2022) – A Japanese Arthouse Movie So Good / My Afterthoughts

I love arthouse movies. They got me thinking long after I left the movie theater, reminiscing scene after scene. The synopsis of Wandering (or The Wandering Moon) captured my attention.

In a park on a rainy evening, a 19-year-old university student, Fumi, offers an umbrella to a soaking wet 10-year-old girl, Sarasa. Realizing her reluctance to go home, Fumi lets her stay in his place, where she spends the next two months in peace. They take each other’s hands and seem to have finally found their place in the world until Fumi is arrested for kidnapping. Fifteen years later, the lonely two are reunited both still suffering from the stigma as the victim and perpetrator of “a pedophile case”. Will society give a place to the unshakable bond they have formed?

A movie I hope I will watch again in the future.

The male leading character Fumi is played by Tori Matsuzaka while the 9 and 24-year-old female leading characters Sarasa are played by Tamaki Shiratori and Suzu Hirose respectively. All three are great actors. Fumi is struggling with a secret that he vows to take to his grave. A perpetually constrained personality with rare bursts of emotion at crucial story-defining moments. On the topic of “pedophiles”, every movement, every word, and every thought of Fumi is being scrutinized by the audience. You can see him struggling throughout 150 mins of the movie duration. As an audience, I was constantly being asked to evaluate: is he or is he not a pedophile?

The young Sarasa wants to live freely. She yarns for that. She too carries a secret that she reveals to Fumi during her two months of stay at his apartment. The older Sarasa wants to move on with her life and her past and just live the life that people expect her to live. Marry a decent man, start a family, earn a living, and stay happy.

15 years later, both have their respective relationships but neither is happy. The timeline of young and older Sarasa juxtaposed against each other, throughout the entire movie, as the scriptwriter carefully explains the story while working with the audience to jointly arrive at a conclusion.

What a beautiful plot.

Spoiler-free writeup end here, be warned!

There are some afterthoughts. And yes, it has spoilers.

  • I like how Fumi explains to a young girl that he doesn’t like grown women (but does not admit that he likes young girls). And Fumi doesn’t admit to his ex-girlfriend that he doesn’t like grown women. Instead in a rare outburst, he admits that he likes young girls. I still don’t think he meant it in a pedophile way when he said he liked young girls. I believe that he wanted his ex-girlfriend to have closure (like admitting that he ‘used’ her, which I don’t think is entirely true).
  • I like how the scriptwriter introduces Ryo – a domestic violent man – as Fumi’s boyfriend. That is a massive contrast between Fumi who has never laid a finger on Sarasa versus Ryo who has beaten Sarasa very violently. Who is the abuser? To whom is the victim?
  • I like how the two timelines almost mirror to one another – event by event.
  • Fumi tells Sasara, “Never let others own your life. You are the owner of your life.” I love that.
  • And Fumi never runs away from Sasara. That emotional moment by the beach with them holding hands.
  • I love how as an audience, I went from “he is not a pedophile, is he?” to “OK, he may like young girls” to “Uh oh, he is a pedophile so what’s next” to finally, “Ah, that’s why we thought he is a pedophile”. That ending of revealing Fumi’s secret is priceless.
  • The ending also explains the title of the movie, which is so good. What if the community does not accept us? Just keep wandering elsewhere.
  • Can love transcend sex? This story says love can.

“Shen” the T-Rex in Singapore

I am a massive fan of anything dinosaur. It is fascinating that creatures so giant and out-of-the-world looking existed for hundreds of millions of years in the past, we now get a glimpse of what some of them look like. I recalled years ago I read an online article that one British museum would exhibit dinosaur fossils, I had made a commitment to revisit the UK one day, which I did before the pandemic.

This T-rex is going to be on display in Singapore Victoria Concert Hall till Sunday. After which, it will be transported to Hong Kong for an auction. The open bid I’ve read is going to be above $100m.

Back to today’s adventure, I planned to do two things this weekend. One is to watch a Japanese movie called Wandering. Another one is to view this T-rex before it leaves Singapore.

I slept relatively early on Friday night. I had pizza. And the wine was good. On Saturday, I woke up at 4 am and could not go back to sleep!

Actually, I managed to fall back to sleep at 7 am and then, woke up at 9.30 am because the movie was screening at 10:55 am. Wandering is an arthouse movie. There were limited theatres that screened it. 10.55 am was the only timeslot and there were in total 3 people watching the show, including me.

My plan was to have McDonald’s breakfast. But by the time I left my apartment, it was 10:10 am. Fortunately, there are four buses to reach Funan. I reached the cinema 15 mins ahead of schedule. And my plan was to take a walk to Victoria Concert Hall after the show.

So I thought!

No. I went to the wrong cinema. It should be Plaza Singapura instead!

No time to waste, I called Grab transport. It took the driver 5 mins to pick me up and 10 mins to reach the correct cinema.

Phew. I made it. Just nice.

I will write about the movie in the next post. After the show, I had a really expensive burger meal at Five Guys. So expensive that I could only afford the burger (S$16.50!) and was unable to afford the fries and drink (S$13.50!). I mean, no way I am going to pay S$30 for fast food. Imagine I had a date. That would have cost me S$60. I felt thirsty after the meal. But no time to waste!

I took a train to Raffle Place and walked to Victoria Concert Hall where my friend T-Rex was. As expected, there was a really long queue for walk-in viewers. I have all the time in the world and didn’t mind the wait. There were two young female staff – very elegant looking, dressed in black suits and black dresses under a very warm sun – who approached the visitors and asked if any of us had registered online (and hence, skipping the queue). I wanted to joke with them that I was not a buyer and hence, did not register. I didn’t. I just replied that I was a walk-in. “One hour from here?” I asked. One of them replied, “Yes, likely.”

Looking back, the wait wasn’t that bad (compared to that British museum at the top of this post). Within half an hour, I entered the hall and met T-Rex.

My first impression was … “Shen” – also means god in Chinese – didn’t look that complete. I mean, the one at that British museum was one of the most complete T-Rex unearthed and restored. It is hard to say how much of “Shen” was reconstructed (usually there is a display on this info by the dinosaur fossil, a diagram showing real fossils versus reconstructed pieces). And his skull looked rather fractured.

“Shen” certainly looked fearsome. Thanks to the ringfencing of the parameter, it was rather easy to take pictures from all angles. Just that, because there were so many people, My iPhone kept on capturing photos of human heads inside T-Rex’s jaws.

Kind of funny.

I wanted to chill a bit more at the Singapore River. The weather was good. But it was 4 pm. I have to return home and walk the dog.

Drifting

You know that feeling when you feel like you are drifting, not in control of where you are heading? You want to be grounded with something, just anything. But the sense of uncertainty is overwhelming you. That paralyzed feeling. You sleep, wake up, take a nap, and soon sleep again. How many days? How many days more?

I am dying to tell this to the world. But I can’t. Because I need this to happen first, then that to happen, and then …

But when?

At work, I thrive in crises. I love the firefighting, getting that high feeling. But when the work I do is in constant crisis and will be so for the next six months, one year, it isn’t a crisis anymore. Just business as usual. Our COO rallied the people today to charge forward. I admire his tenacity. In my mind, I thought of something I have learned two decades ago …

A death march.

Inflation. Rising interest rate. Looming recession. Ongoing pandemic. That war desperately needs a conclusion. US versus China. A retirement plan that already requires reassessment, is put at risk. Our world is full of surprises. Where is hope?

I love painting but don’t feel like painting these days. I love making music but don’t feel like creating music these days. I love video gaming but nothing really excites me these days.

Gosh. I need to move on. You need to move on. Why? So that we can move forward.

I am glad that I have bought a new iPhone. At least, I love photography and I am trying to take some pictures every day.

And oh. Yes, I love to blog. Still do. An overdue rekindled passion.

I love the outdoor staircases. The old versus new structure. A photo taken near my home.

Tang Wei in Finding Mr. Right (2013) / Meeting April After More Than A Decade

I knew the actress looks familiar when I watched Finding Mr. Right on Netflix tonight. It was none other than Tang Wei. I watched Lust, Caution back in 2007, right after I joined a bank – my current employer. Also roughly the year I met April whom I have met once again tonight through a bank event.

What a coincidence.

Find Mr. Right is an amazing Chinese movie inspired by I supposed Sleepless in Seatle. But it’s way better.

What a great movie. Such chemistry.

A Chinese mistress who has decided to give birth to her son in the US – because she couldn’t have done so in China – fell in love with her driver who is a divorcee with a daughter. What a great recipe for a story. I was genuinely moved. Tang Wei is such a great actress. She doesn’t age at all. She is timeless.

Back to this evening. I have attended yet another event organized by my bank. Yet another talk on recession and rising interest rates. I didn’t manage to meet my relationship manager. But I am thankful for yet another nice meal at a hotel.

If I am to sum up the evening, it is about reducing expenses and grow income.

Motherhood statement eh?

Back to April, as it turns out, she recognized me before I do. She prides herself on having a “face recognition” ability. I don’t dispute that. I am terrible at recognizing faces or names.

April arrived late. And immediately upon being seated, she struck up a conversation with me. 15 years I have been with this bank, she brought back all the fond memories and the painful ones. Not exactly remember what she did. But I do remember her being in her black dresses.

But hey, we age. Though she said I didn’t.

Cosmetic.

In the end, memories keep flooding in. Yes, I do remember.

We made fun of April. She does have a sister called May, doesn’t she?! In fact, I remember she has two sisters. April, May, June …

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