Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fantasies of the Unconscious - The Art of Appreciation

I admit it - it used to bother me that I didn’t understand much about Art - especially the newer more "contemporary" forms.

To me “real” art was always these scenes of old - oils on canvas capturing a moment of intense human interaction - be it a man dying on a cross, a scene in an Italian marketplace, well-decked virgins dancing in fields of flowers or my favourite - the hand of God reaching out through the clouds to touch some naked guy (Yes, yes - I know its Adam).

You always knew what you were looking at and the main message was clear. If you take a closer look, you would probably be able to uncover more - some of the messages lying just beneath the surface which the artist had in mind.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Christmas gift of hope

By Susan Leonard

When I recall precious Christmas memories, I think of a very special story, one which represents the magic and glory of the season. This is a true story, as told to me by my husband -- a professional Santa Claus -- of a real Christmas miracle which he experienced. A story that I think will cause YOU to believe ...

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see my Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

"Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?"

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly. Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When the Star of David goes critical ...

Israel’s formidable nuclear arsenal is a fact acknowledged quietly but never publicly and this tiny Jewish state is just about the only nation on earth that can sidestep the prying eyes of the world’s nuclear watchdog.

Attempts by its Arab/Muslim neighbours to go down the same route, to acquire the ultimate weapon even in its crudest forms, have been met with mistrust, fear and condemnation.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) – the nuclear equilavent of "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you", has appeared to work well in halting ambitions and egoes in other theatres of potential conflict.

But the Middle East has never been a geopolitical crucible where pragmatic reason rules. History, religion and the delicate dynamics of the players involved, has necessitated such a special exception to be made for Israel and its nuclear programme.

Monday, November 30, 2009

And you are never too old ....

I'm older than the hills or so it seems at times and yet I never feel that I am too old to learn new stuff.

It had bothered me for weeks and try as I did, no amount of gingerness on my part seemed to help ... my shoes from squeaking.

So who knew that a healthy dose of talcum baby powder would do the trick and keep your feet dry and smelling well ... social at the same time.

The things one can learn from the Internet never fails to amaze ...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why does God allow pain ...

A conversation between a man and a priest:

Man: I don't understand the omnipotent-benevolent thing.

Priest: You are confused because the bible describes God as an ominipotent and benevolent diety.

Man: Exactly.

Priest: Omnipotent-benevolent simply means God is all-powerful and well-meaning.

Man: I understnd the concept. It's just ... there seems to be a contradiction.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fantasies of the Unconscious - A Rumour of War

It's been over for more than half a century - gone and forgotten ... consigned to the history books. A handful of memorials still stand but we pass them by without a second glance. War-centric museums? Sure we have them but they are mainly for tourists - quaint, quirky and sometimes painful reminders of those dark three and a half years of bloody subjugation.

Apart from the mandatory school trips, how many Singaporeans would actually head for Memories at Old Ford Factory or Reflections at Bukit Chandu or the Changi Museum?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Of Faith from Within

"Faith is universal. Our specific methods of understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than ourselves."
- Dan Brown, Angels & Demons (Page 134)

Does His name really matter? I think not. Call Him what you will. Religion of choice, faith or destiny is there merely to point the way.

We can't all be saints but at least we should resolve to live life by principles - of loyalty and hard work. If you have gone all out to help those you could, and you took the time to cherish the falling raindrops, then let the chips fall where they may ... a difference of one - is still a life well lived...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Because I'm a man

Truth found on the Internet ...

Because I'm a man, when the car isn't running very well, I will pop the hood and stare at the engine as if I know what I'm looking at. If another man shows up, one of us will say to the other, "I used to be able to fix these things, but now with all these computers and everything, I wouldn't know where to start.

Because I'm a man, when I catch a cold, I need someone to bring me soup and take care of me while I lie in bed and moan. You're a woman. You never get as sick as I do, so for you this isn't a problem.

Because I'm a man, I can be relied upon to purchase basic groceries at the store, like milk or bread. I cannot be expected to find exotic items like "cumin" or "tofu." For all I know, these are the same thing. And never, under any circumstances, expect me to pick up anything for! which "feminine hygiene product" is a euphemism. ( F.Y.I. guys cumin is a spice and not a bodily function)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lookin for love ...

She's not exactly young by any standards. Sometimes her make-up at night when she's expecting visitors, is gaudy. She sits there waiting expectantly. Just like women everywhere, you can look but you can't touch. For a few dollars, she promises you a good time. But still, young men shun her - been there - done that - even her "special offers" fail to entice. Entering her, she's cold, frigid, empty. Some say she moans softly at night but to most she's just ... well disdainfully lumpy - with many dark and sometimes hairy corners that even the brave nary to venture. She remains hungry ... never giving up hope in her search for love.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fantasies of the Unconscious - Fire in the Sky

I’m sure I had been told the story before … probably years ago but it was since forgotten. The subject came up purely by chance a few weeks back during one of my long-overdue visits to my mother’s place.

“I’m going next week to the Kranji War Memorial,” I announced. Well up to that point it was a rather dull conversation so even an intended visit to a graveyard had an edge of uplifting excitement.

“Don’t forget to visit your grandfather” she intoned.

“Huh?” was my reply.

Mum rolls her eyes to heaven (yeah sarcasm runs deep in the family) … and so the story was retold.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and The Carpenter
Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Kiss

She was pregnant.

He had just saved her from a fire in her house - rescuing her by carrying her out into the front yard as he returned to fight the blaze.

When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath.

A photographer noticed her in the distance looking at the fireman.

He saw her walking straight to the fireman and wondered what she would do.

He raised his camera as she walked up to the tired man who had just saved her and the lives of her unborn babies. She kissed him just as the photographer snapped this photograph.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fantasies of the Unconscious – One giant leap for mankind … really?

It’s hard to believe that 40 years have passed.

July 20 1969 -I still remember that day vividly. My father took me by the hand, pointed to the full moon in the darkening evening sky and asked if I could see the man there.

Neil Armstrong had, just hours before, freed mankind from his earthly bonds by setting foot on another celestial body with those immortal words “One small step for man - One giant leap for mankind”.

It seemed only natural for that generation to assume space tourism was in the offing and a permanent moon colony … well that would be just a few years away surely.

And us kids? … we all wanted to be astronauts and yes we were going to live on the moon or on some far flung planet of our choosing (but only if I could take my dog Sasha along). It all seemed like a logical progression, a literal universe of possibilities lay at our feet and there was no stopping us from venturing into the unknown of space.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fantasies of the Unconscious - If buildings could speak

If buildings could speak ... what would the iconic Saint Joseph's Institution in Bras Basah Road say ...

My sons ... many have moved on and grown old. Young, eager faces take their place and time marches on. They no longer call me home. A new building far away has replaced me. I too have changed. I too have grown old but my memories are many.

I remember the sounds of laughter that used to echo through my halls, boys in white eager to learn, more eager still to play. How we crammed more than a 1000 into a courtyard for morning assembly back then, I will never know. Everything looked so much bigger when you are younger.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fantasies of the Unconscious - Creatures of the dappled light

There's much to see at the Raffles Museum
There's much to see at the Raffles Museum
It was a pleasant surprise reading the newspapers of late with all the calls for the setting up of a Natural History Museum here in Singapore.

Being a skeptic at heart, I wondered more than once if this was the work of a small vocal lobby group trying to rally public opinion to further an isolated cause or did it really represent a new-found national consciousness to bring back into the spotlight, some long-forgotten gems of our natural history.

For me, visiting the old National Museum in Stamford Road as a kid was such a treat. An animal lover at heart, walking along those corridors, standing in awe in the presence of creatures of the dappled light, certainly fired the imagination of a young mind.

I stood eyeball to eyeball with a tiger and tried to fathom the last thoughts that went through her head when she met her fate probably from the business end of a gun. Were there some cubs waiting for her back in a den somewhere? Was she distressed that her forest home was being invaded by those thoughtless animals that walked on two legs?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Saul of Cyrene

Saul of Cyrene, (born 37BC, died 47AD) was said to have been a close follower of Jesus Christ having followed him and his disciples around Galilee. He spent his later days in the remote hills of Cyrene in present-day Shahhat, Libya  as a reclusive seer and wrote extensively about his experience.
Many of his journals and his obscure predictions have been lost in time but in 2003 archaeologists digging near the village of Shahhat were reported to have recovered some of his writings sealed in clay jars. To date these have not been released for public scrutiny.

Some biblical scholars believe Saul of Cyrene was actually Simon the man who is claimed in the bible to have helped carry the cross of Christ (Mark 15:21 and parallels). Also in Acts2:10 where Jews from Cyrene heard the disciples speaking in their own language in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost; 6:9, Simon (or Saul) is thought to have been in that group.

One apocalyptic prediction attributed, without verification, to Saul of Cyrene reads:
‘A second star, angry and red, from the east will rise.
Trembling in fear, the tribes witness a temple reborn.
Men will fall, seduced by the false denarius
As the advent of the horsemen draw near.’

Kinda scary to think about it really.

See for more information.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It just breaks your heart ...

Love and Sorrow...Felt By All God's Creatures

This is the sort of email I hate getting cos it just gets me upset. But I'm glad I took the time to read it - absorb the emotion even tho it effected me long after I closed the page ...

She was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Making television history … on a wing and a prayer

When I first suggested coming up with Heritage TV (HTV) for the National heritage Board’s revamped Internet portal (, the idea sounded simple enough.

Produce three-minute video clips focusing on different aspects of Singapore’s art, history, culture and heritage. We would keep it very YouTube-like – raw, edgy and well… home-made (not to mention cheap). Now how hard could that be, right?

But the devil as they say is in the details. ..

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Other Side of Midnight

Yeah it's bad ... a compulsive habit that if we try 'n rationalise it - it doesn't make sense and yet we faithful few - the self-styled Keepers of the Flame - still indulge in a pastime which brings us some distraction and relief (some say it's an addiction for which the benefits are only in your mind ... hmmmm maybe).

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm talking about smoking - yes that socially taboo exercise of literally burning your money, killing yourself (and those around you), alienating yourself from the rest of humanity and you'll end up looking (and sometimes feeling) like a social leper.

Well at least that's the image the "righteous" among us would like to paint and the gullible, believe.

And so as of January 1 the
screws are tightened once again.

It's tough being "a smoker" these days - that label itself has such negative social connotations - thanks to the Singapore Government which is determined to stub it out from the lives of its children who are so easily swayed by public opinion, the media and the powers that be.

Will all the new measures work? Sure ... in part.
Will the numbers dip? Maybe ... With rising cigarette prices, the young and the less affluent may find it a squeeze forking out S$10 at a go. But prices have been rising steadily and the faithful (or stubborn or simply addicted according to your point of view) will take it in their stride.

So what then is the point of this exercise, really? To protect the non-smoking majority - the young, the desperate, the easily-swayed? Okay ... let's go with that...

In this rigid socially-controlled country aren't there bigger issues to deal with? I've never heard of any marriages/families/ relationships being torn apart cos of a smoker in the midst. I've known of many lives shattered because of gambling, hard drinking or whoring and yet somehow, these fly under the radar clouded by a lot of talk of " government safeguards" to protect the society.

The Government has loosened it controls on gambling. Two casinos are set to open, 4D outlets are just about everywhere you look complete with long lines of of hopefuls rushing to throw their money away on a million-to-one shot. Ain't they just burning their hard-earned money for no good reason. I wonder what socially-upright message this sends the young, the desperate and the easily swayed?
... Hmm why does that line sound so familiar?