Thursday, October 19, 2006


Just a public service announcements for Palm users. SPUG is currently down. The situation is currently being monitored. If need be, a Task Force will be formed next week, and some Emergency Plan might be implemented. Anyway, it'll probably be offline for a while... In the meantime, just surf the other websites on the Internets; there are lots of them besides SPUG! :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Speak Good English!

I'm not exactly sure how my pedagogy stacks up against established schools of thought, but here's just a reminder to all: speak good English, and be understood!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Corrinne May Preview

Corrinne is doing a Christmas concert again at the Esplanade on 16th December. Tickets on sale Oct 19th. New preview songs are out at her myspace. Update(!): Listen to the new Christmas album and preorder an autographed CD now!

Monday, October 9, 2006

Stop The Presses!

Today's activity is: Spot the differences! (Click for larger pictures.) Oops, I thought maybe they didn't like the layout and decided to shift the story elsewhere in the online version of today's TODAY newspaper. Turned out the story was removed altogether. Maybe the headline could give us some clues... Oh no, perhaps the story got pulled because it distorts the truth (just look at the weird paragraph before the byline, and after), among other things... (Cute illustration though!) Next Day Update(!): Correction. The existing article is available, not found in the .pdf file, but as text, here. So there are a few combinations. 1) The test tube article was pulled, but couldn't be done in time because it wasn't possible to stop the presses. Hence, the online .pdf version (which can be updated/amended quickly) has the Thailand story. 2) The Thailand story got pulled and the test tube story put in its place. If this were the case, why couldn't yesterday's .pdf file be updated? It's still showing the Thailand story today. Here's the fun part; both of these stories appear in the text archives. Here's the second fun part: someone has written a reply and it's published in today's paper version and the .pdf version. Text here. I think this is the first time I'm seeing something resembling a fork in newspaper articles! Update(!): There are more posts on test tube washing at And my social studies tutor Kenneth mentions this entry in his podcast, currently the only Singaporean podcast to be featured in the 'education' category at the iTunes store!

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Singapore Dreaming / 望春風

I watched Singapore Dreaming with Steph this past week. If you haven't watched it, it'll be showing at GV until at least next Wednesday. Now this is one of the top 2 local movies I've seen; and I can't decide what number one is.

The even better thing is that the music that starts off the movie, 望春風, is one of my favourite songs. Its motif gets done in different ways and is repeated throughout the movie. 望春風 (Longing for the Spring Breeze) is an old song, generally acknowledged as Taiwan's unofficial national anthem. (More background here.) Now I wonder, apart from the soothing melody, why on earth did the music people (I think it's Dr Sydney Tan and co.? Actually it was Director Woo Yen Yen who chose the song.) use this as the theme song for the movie? I've talked about old songs last year. I argued then that traditional songs are essential to building up a nation's culture. Maybe the national song of Taiwan was used in the movie to highlight the lack of importance placed on building a national culture here in Singapore. (And no, songs like Stand Up for Singapore do not count! LOL) Despite the fact that MM Lee says there's no Singapore culture (to the chagrin of lots of people), I think without a culture, we'd all be in limbo.

Of course there's a culture; the things that locals believe in. Dreaming tries to tease that apart. In the process, we find how disturbing some of our stereotypes are. So, is 望春風, and the things it hints at, the answer? Maybe. The context for the song is longing, and so is the movie. We're all longing for (or dreaming of) something, but what is the right thing to long for? It's not explicitly stated in the movie, although the Chinese beer-promoting woman does provide some clues... I think perhaps the answer is love (like in the song). Love is like oxygen. Love is a many splendoured thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love! And then some would say, love can only result from the 5Cs. Oops. We're back at square one. I wonder whether this aspect of our culture can be changed... For now, bring on the old songs...

Anyway, other places that you can find 望春風 is in Kenny G's Miracles: The Holiday Album (Asia Edition) and a video of some kids singing the song. (Cute!) David Tao's first eponymous album (Flash animation of song here) has it too. According to Wikipedia, 'The album also featured an a cappella song, Spring Wind, which was a new R&B version of a favorite old Taiwanese song. David sang all the vocals in this song, which still stands today, widely regarded as one of the best a cappella songs in Chinese.' The neutrality of this opinion is disputed, however. What's undisputed is that you must watch SGDreaming! Go TalkingCock folks!!
Update(!): I just got the movie soundtrack. There are four wonderful major variations of the song and three minor ones, and the rest of the album is really good too. The piano interpretation by Stephen Hough is just shockingly stunning... some background on the music...
"The Hokkien song' Bong Chun Hong" (Pining for the Spring Breeze" serves as a recurring motif in the film. The song is very popular in Taiwan, where it's almost their unofficial second national anthem. When the directors were writing the script in New York, they wanted a song to evoke the past, and also illuminate the characters of the parents. Yen Yen Woo called her mother in Singapore to ask for songs from the days when she was dating her father. The first song she came up with was "Bong Chun Hong", which unlocked a flood of memories in the old lady about many places in Singapore that have either disappeared or have changed beyond recognition. The directors picked the song and incorporated Woo's mother's memories into the script." From IMDB.
(Click for bigger pictures.) 望春風

do ya bo pua shui ding he
Spending the night alone under some lights

qing hong dui min cui
The refreshing wind blowing on her face

zarp qi bae hui bue chuk ge
Seventeen, eighteen, yet unmarried

shiu zoc shiao len ge
Thinking of a young man

go ren biao tee mi ba bae,
 Turns out he's handsome and has fair complexion

xia ga lang zhu di
Which family is he from?

xiu bei meng yi gia paiseh
Want to ask, but afraid of being embarrassed

shim lai dua pi pae
Heart beating like the pipa