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House Of Sensibilities

19/3/2004 -- Of piano songs and Wodehouse-speak


I said goodbye to my student of 4 years this week.

I've been with this boy since 2000,

when he was a small, quiet but fiercely stubborn primary 2 boy,

to a still rather small/quiet and even more stubborn pri 6 boy this year.


I quite like this kid, i've got to admit.

Although i think he's never truly loved the piano,

and he's always claimed that he's playing for his mum's sake.


But he has such moments when he revels in his stubborness that's quite funny..

To illustrate the point, here's what usually happens during a lesson-

I always play thru a new piece for him b4 teaching him the notes,

and then i'll always ask him immediately afterwards:

"Nice or not...nice right? So you want to learn it, right?"

(Because he's the sort of chap who won't practice if he doesn't like the piece,

so i'll always have to coax n coax.)

But then, he'll invariably shake his head and say that the piece is awful and all.

I mean, it's funny, the manner he so determinedly makes it a point to say that the piece is bad!


But on hindsight,

if he puts down something so mercilessly each time,

he prob doesn't mean it all that much, right?




disc 2 on the 'piano songs' album is nicer than disc 1!

i suspect d2 are the older songs...

it's amazing how songs have become less melodious,

and more 'to live for the moment' and 'feel good for an instant'


if a song doesn't stir me when i'm listening to it,

or if it doesn't linger in my mind after that,

then it's fit for the trash can!

I'm adamant..hehe!!




I almost burst out laughing when i read the following Wodehouse-speak on the bus just now-


"Her face looked like a tomato struggling for self-expression"




I'll be getting the outcome of my auditions soon...really nervous abt it 



26/2/2004 -- bu zhai hu tian chang di jiu, zi zhai hu chen jing yong you


Translated into english,

the above means: it's in the remembrance of having once had something, rather than having something for eternity, that counts


hmmm..sounds rather convoluted

i think the phrase was made famous in this old watch ad (sovil titus?)

where this fighter pilot guy was abt to go off to war

and his lover was saying goodbye to him for the last time


i remember once chatting to a friend who was going thru some emotional problems,

and he was saying that in his deepest distress,

the memories of childhood all came back to him,

and he could remember so vividly how he used to wait for his school bus at the foot of his block everyday.


i think i was very touched when i heard that,

because how many people actually think about the times when they were children?

and it's all the more significant that such memories came back to him during moments of sadness,

because it shows a longing and fond remembrance of the idyllic and innocent days of childhood,

days when everyone seemed to be nice and warm to you.


don't get me wrong,

i'm not suggesting that we should all mope 

and cry about how we've lost those carefree and happy days,

but, returning to the chinese quote above,

it's wiser to just remember those things as something beautiful you once had.


nothing will ever change the fact that once upon a time, 

this friend of mine looked forward to each morning,

where he will be sitting at the foot of his block waiting for his school bus,

thinking of the games to play with his friends later on the bus,

and his mum reading a nice story to him while waiting.


this might not happen any more now,

friends you used to play with have their own lives now,

your mum might be too tired and busy to read nice stories to you too. 

but those beautiful 'once upon a time's are there for you to cherish til eternity. 



5/2/2004 -- ;(


"she not only attracts the shallow males with that alluring smile"


I am one of those 'shallow males'


Sometimes, when your first brush with another person didn't go right,

you'll just go all tense and nervy whenever you think of her afterwards

and you'll suspect that she finds you rude and offensive,

especially when you WERE, to some extent.


But you really don't know what she thinks, or whether she even thinks at all.


And there isn't a way to find out.



26/1/2004 -- CNY Stomachache


I've been down with a stomachache during the cny holidays,

and it's not bcos of eating too much.

Okay, it went like this...

i was watching tv last friday night

and on came this stupid kfc ad

with the really succulent looking chicken (in the special cny basket some more)

and i just had this sudden craving for junk food.


I eat fast food really seldomly,

and whenever i do,

it's always like sneaking in some forbidden fruit.


But anyway, since there wasn't a kfc near my place,

i ended up buying chicken nuggets, fish fillet (1.80 only!) and a sundae

from the nearby macs.


Yeah, it wasn't terribly yummy too,

my mum complained that the choc fudge from the sundae's too sweet.

Made me feel all the more guilty,

and it left me with a stomachache too :(


Well, talking about the reunion dinner on wednesday night,

it was the usual quiet affair,

dad, mum, me and my bro.

Sometimes, i really envy friends who have their uncles, aunties and cousins to visit.

For me, my dad's folks are all in malaysia and my mum's in taiwan,

so it's just the four of us.


So maybe my bro and i will have lots of children next time,

so they will be more amused than how we are now





1/1/2004 -- New Year's Day message


I've lots to say today, and i've thought of dividing this entry into sections for a change,

aiyah, new year must have new pattern of doing things mah, so here goes...



I've got to remind myself to be careful about what i say here.

i realize that there are people lurking around,

trying to find out if i spill their sordid secrets...hehe


Anyway, since some misunderstanding has occured,

i'll provide here, the instruction manual for reading this page,

please go through it before scrolling any further.


Instruction manual for jack's 'soliloquy' page


1. According to, a soliloquy is a (1)dramatic or literary form of discourse in which a character (2)talks to himself or reveals his thoughts (3)without addressing a listener.

(1) dramatic - the things written here are exaggerated, jack is honing his farce-writing don't take what he says too seriously

(2) and (3)  talks to himself/without addressing a listener - jack is talking to HIMSELF, so back off, all voyeurs and eavesdroppers are not welcome!


2. Jack talks about real things here, he's not writing fiction, but neither is he doing an inventory of his life, so he tries to be as 'tell-tale'-like as possible without offending anybody.


3. Jack tries not to slime anyone mercilessly (except for the gone-cases mentioned in the entry dated 19/2/2003). For every bad thing written about anyone, he tries to include some good things too.


4. Don't take jack too seriously. He is an extreme person, half the time he is solemn and  sane, but when he's writing the rot on this page, he's just trying to act the clown.


Infernal affairs 3


My report on the final instalment of this trilogy is long overdue.

Watched all 3 with the same bunch of frens.

While number 1 is so good (everyone sighed when the anthony wong character flew from the rooftop and smashed into a car),

number 2 is a completely ridiculous gangster movies

with plenty of deafening gun shots and corpses piling up (not helped by the fact that we're always seated at the first row),

number 3 is the more interesting one.


first of all,

i have to comment on leon lai's wonderfully subtle performances.

i really take my hats off to this guy.

he is totally like the character he plays in the show-

with no personality at all.

we never know anything about his background, his identity,

we think initially that he is a baddie,

then we start looking out for perhaps an occasional gleam in the eye,

or a secretve smirk,

you know, the betraying marks.

But we never get anything close.


He has this wonderful ability to make his character totally identity-'less' to the audience,

when we finally realize that he is this good cop at the end of the show,

he just stands there and let andy lau put a bullet thru his head.

We didn't feel for him at all!


To mention something embarrassing, i was actually a fan of his singing back in primary sch,

remember the many cassette tapes by him i bought.

now thinking about it,

his singing is just like his acting-

completely devoid of personality and identity!!


New year resolutions


1. To spend more quality time with God, my family and friends

2. To play more music

3. To do more drama

4. To borrow Cds from the esplanade library more frequently,

5. So I can stop myself from always buying things whenever step into a cd store




16/12/2003 -- When she loved me


I've just discovered that the nice sentimental song i mentioned here a while ago

is 'when she loved me' by sarah mclachlan.

I was walking aimlessly in causeway point on sunday afternoon

when out of the blue

i turned into the cd rama in popular bookstore

and there i found it,

inside this disney songs compilations.


Yah, it's very nice,

like i'd told you,

this unpretentious simplicity about disney songs :)



14/12/2003 -- About yesterday


What a night it was yesterday!

I went to the read all nervous,

especially when i saw the huge crowd that turned up.

It was prob the best attended of the three nights.


Thank goodness the weather was fine,

and there was only a 15 mins delay.

My play was the first to be read,

and when tan tarn how was doing his intro,

and lim kay tong was seated at the side of the stage waiting to come on,

i was really nervous but terribly excited as well.


But what a relief it was when i finally heard the piece!

It was really such a stroke of luck, or perhaps it's insight,

well, whatever you wanna call it,

that we hit on upping the ironic tone of the piece,

during our final rehersal,

and kay tong did it so so well.


Hats off to him,

i've got nothing but praise and admiration for him,

the way he delivered my piece.

The tempo, diction, tone, facial expressions, pauses were all perfect.

And the audience turned out to to be responsive too,

they could get most of what i wanted to say.

And it was a really huge encouragement.


Yeah, i forgot to mention norlina, the wonderful diector,

who had such sharp insight about the piece.

She could see things in the writing that i never thought existed.

There's this bit in my play where a certain mr lee

who bought a steinway merely for decoration,

and when norlina told me who this 'mr lee' is supposed to stand for, 

i couldn't stop laughing,

cos i never intended it (really!),

but it's so correct, all the same!    


At the end of it all,

I got presents for all of them,

and guess what i bought?

...Esplanade merchandise!

Haha, to redeem myself for bitching about that beloved cultural icon so much! 



06/12/2003 -- Tallking to children


Through all these years (from 2000 to now) of teaching piano,

I've improved a lot.

Not musically speaking, though.

But in terms of talking with children.


Yah, like coughing up blood nagging at them to practice.

And containing my rage and holding myself back from strangling them

when they come up with the usual excuses for not practising.

'My mum didn't remind me'...

'I forgot you were here last week'...

'I didn't read the record book'...

I've heard these so many times.

It's amazing how these kids learn the piano for their mums' sakes.


But there's the slightly nicer bit of trying to get them interested,

by talking in terms of non-music analogies.

This afternoon, i was at my wit's end trying to make this boy read from the score.

Then I told him the score is like a street directory to a new driver,

and if he is driving from choa chu kang (that's where he stays)

to his granny's place (in clementi) for the first time,

he must consult the directory.


He laughed, but i wonder whether he got my point.

I'll probably know next wk when i see if he's practised.


Yah, that's why I said i've gained much experience talking to children.

Have always got to devise ingenious strategems to get them interested.

I've tried so many ways..

like starting a 'sticker system' where the no. of stickers they get each wk

would reflect on their effort for the week.

And you have to promise them that you'll get them something

when they've accumulated a certain no. of stickers!

These bunch nowadays,

they've no love for music at all.

Especially the boys,

who would rather be at the computer

or on the soccer field.

(But it makes me so proud to recall how diligently I used to practice back then :)


Yah, would like to talk a bit about my rehearsal with lim kay tong on wednesday.

He had a really intense gaze and it was a bit scary at first talking to him.

And what a thrill it was to sit beside him and hear him read my writing!


And I was glad he identified with the scenario in my play.

As I have told you, some of them said at a previous discussion that

it was totally pointless to write about esplanade issues cos it's already 1 year old and thus dated.

But i'm glad lim kay tong thought that issues such as 'the relevance of the arts to our pragmatic society' and 'the role of the esplanade' are still pertinent and alive.


Well, he was quite friendly in a fatherly sort of way too,

and i was glad he gave me some pointers on how to do a third draft!! i'm writing a third draft now.

Wah lau, have so much to do these days.

But strangely i'm not feeling stressed at all.


I used to be very inflexible and stubborn.

I would always want everything to go according to plan

and I'd lose my temper and get totally disoriented if some last minute changes creep in.


But these few days, I've tried to change my style,

and as a result i've accepted many things that were thrown to me last minute.

You see, like on thurs evening,

i agreed to play the music for a wake service,

then on friday its piano lesson,

then today i took the SAT test (I'd lost the score for my first test!!),

tmrw i'm playing something at my piano teacher's class hour.

All these needs a lot of practice okay!


But i'm feeling strangely energized.

Perhaps i need to be a workholic.


One good thing is it makes me forget about things...

Sad things, thinks that are of no use pondering over.

Maybe it makes me a happier person too. 



28/11/2003 -- I have an issue with the Esplanade!


Yeah, that's right,

I have a big problem with the Esplanade.

Don't get me wrong,

It's not as if i hate that place,

In fact, it's one of my biggest hang-out places...

I visit the library two three times a week,

and I always go to the haagen daaz there for my fav milkshake.


So what's the problem?


Well, ever since i've started dabbling in playwriting,

i couldn't resist the temptation of crapping about this

600 million dollar national investment that (i think) can't make up its mind

if it's a tourist attraction or a relevant development in our local arts scene.

Besides, i've heard many ridiculous and oversimplified things about the place,

like how it's the steinway that's supposed to improve our local arts,

even if they are not so good in the first place.


Yah, so that explains my little bitchings about the whole idea of the esplanade's relevance in my plays.

Well, i'm just poking fun in a harmless way, actually :)


The newest play i've written is called 'Ah Kong at the Esplanade' 

and it's about this man-on-the-street Ah Kong going down to the esplanade

and observing all the snooty arts afficionados trying to feel important.


It's the first time i've written a monologue,

and when it was read behind closed doors a few wks back,

some of them commented that it wasn't dramatic enough,

and there was one guy who said that esplanade issues aren't relevant already.


Well, i don't agree with that,

but i've been doing revisions to the play,

and if everything goes well,

it'll be read on dec 11.


But the most exciting thing has to be that LIM KAY TONG is reading my play!

It made me so stressed and i had to read the draft so many times,

to make sure nothing is wrong.


Yah, extra healthy pressure to make me work doubly hard,

and I'm going for the rehearsal next wednesday!

Yikes...super stressed,

I wonder what he'll say about the play?

Really looking forward to it :)


Tell you more abt it next time...



23/11/2003 -- This one is better


I've been looking through my nasty entry for yesterday

and i'm hating myself for writing that.

Bleargh...why be so negative about things?


I've been giving it much though

and I've decided that i want to make the most out of my life,

doing the best i can for whatever i'm doing at each moment,

and quit ranting and raving about unhappy things.


Well, this is a start, at least i have a pleasant entry,

on a pleasant sunday afternoon.



22/11/2003 -- ......


Sometimes, before I do something, or say something,

I tend to think too much.

Worrying what others will think of me,

Anxious if i am doing it right.

So in the process,

I've lost a lot of opportunities,

missed a lot of chances.


I really hope to change this part of me,

to be less self-conscious,

and more willing to take a risk.


I wonder when I'll be able to do that.


Sometimes, I feel so lousy and miserable,

thinking about the things I've missed because of this.

How many people i could've known,

if I had hid in my shell less...


I am always looking for people around me for assurance,

i don't know if u can say i'm not assertive enough,

but a part of me always tells me to look around myself,

at the people around me,

and see if they are alright with what i'm going to do.


But people aren't going to notice you all the time,

they're prob not thinking of you at all.

So why do i have to be unfair to myself,

by living my life for others?


ARGHHH!!! This sounds so garbled,

i don't know what made me write all these trash today,

have i been feeling happy, contented with my life all these years?


I miss my childhood days so much.... 

when the world was so so so beautiful and i didn't have to worry about anything,


and everyone loved me 



18/11/2003 -- I'm so happy today!


I'm really so happy today!!

I've just collected my LRSM piano exam results and i've got a distinction!

it's really unexpected cos i felt i didn't play that well on the big day,

i was quite nervous and i knew i made a few slips here and there.


But reading from the comments sheet,

the examiners were looking more for musicality, and prob i was okay in that area.


I rang up my piano teacher ms lim immediately

and i couldn't hold my voice steady when i told her about the thing.

i guess i'm really grateful to her,

especially for letting me use her grand piano for my practice prior to the exam.

i think that really helped a lot.


Hmm, i'm still gushing from all that has happened,

this is really very encouraging,

especially coming at a very stressful time of my life.


The past few months i've been dealing with school graduation, what to do after graduation, playwriting, this exam and a whole lot of other stresses..

So I'm really relieved now,

hope all things will turn better from now on.


I said a prayer to God after knowing the results,

thanking him for his guidance,

and asking him to keep me humble,

and to guide me further as i pursue my dreams further.


I'd also like to thank all those family and friends who'd supported and encouraged me...i really appreciate all of it!


(Okay..i'd better end it here, it's beginning to sound like some thank you speech...hehe) 



28/10/2003 -- Somewhere out there


There's something touching about songs from animation movies.

Especially the ones that express a hope for a better future,

or the really sad ones.


I remember being moved by this song (can't rem it's name) from 'toy story'

where a girl's favourite toy laments its sad fate of being left ignored under the bed

when its owner grows up.

There's this eloquence in songs like these that just...touches the senses.

I guess that's because it's uttered from an innocent childish point of view...


There's another one I like a lot, 'Somewhere out there' by Linda Ronstandt and James Ingram, from "An American Tale", a movie long ago.


Is it embarrassing to admit that I cried a little when I heard it a few days ago?

I couldn't help it, it's just so simple and moving.

I've printed the lyrics below, it's dedicated to anyone out there

who has enough innocence in them to hope and dream


"Somewhere out there
Beneath the pale moonlight
Someones thinking of me
And loving me tonight

Somewhere out there
Someones saying a prayer
That well find one another
In that big somewhere out there

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing
On the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think were sleeping
Underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there
If love can see us through
Then well be together
Somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true"


10/10/2003 -- Politics and me


Have been mia from this page for so long,

so very glad to write this entry today.


Anyway, this is about politics.

and i'm inspired to write something here after reading

dario fo's 'accidental death of an anarchist' a few days ago.

Fo calls himself a clown and he has this great ability to satirize 

the doings of the authorities that made him very popular

with the working class italians.


What i admire the most about him is the ability

to always see the ridiculous side of things  

and be brave enough to poke fun at them.


Well, reading the play has made me shamefully aware

of how little i know abt politics!

you know, before picking it up,

i've no idea what an 'anarchist' is,

though i've seen the word often.

And i have a vague notion too about what exactly is left and right in politics.


It's quite embarrassing you know.

i mean, i don't really feel a thing if i don't know

the names of the star wars characters or something like that,

but i always feel sort of inadequate if i'm unaware of important political stuff.


So reading the play has made me pick up a dictionary,

and looked up all the political terms which i have previously been ignorant.


Still on the topic of politics,

over the past few months,

i've become really addicted to this taiwanese programme on cable tv

called 'everyone talks nonsense'

it is a spoof on a call-in political forum 

where actors come on and impersonate ministers/boy bands/etc 

in order to make fun of the taiwan political situation.


I watch it more for the fact that it's so farcical and ridiculous,

rather than a real interest in taiwan politics...

but in these months, i've picked up quite a bit on the taiwan political situation..

at least i can definitely tell you the latest debate on public policy, or scandal...etc etc there...:)


more on that show in the next entries... 





I have not given titles to my recent entries.

Sometimes it's quite hard to think of one.

Because my thoughts are quite random sometimes.


Anyway, I've been busy preparing for my lrsm piano exam in september.

this time i've not been as well-prepared as when i did the dipABRSM in 2001, 

so i'm catching up for lost time now.


I'm playing 3 pieces, bach's chromatic fantasy and fugue, mozart's sonata k576 and berg's sonata.

as of now,

the mozart is the most fluent among the 3.

i've always been very comfortable with mozart's music.

it flows so naturally and effortlessly,

and so much is understated.


the bach is coming along, but I'm finding some difficulty 

to play the fantasy with more spontaneity.

Have to always remind myself to let go more,

cos I'm always (that's what my teacher says) rather shy in expressing myself.

it's quite difficult sometimes,

because how you play really depends a lot on your personality.


the berg is really difficult.

i've never played such modern music before.

and it's really noisy too..

i try not to play it too late at night,

but even during the day, i'm always conscious that my family's peace

is broken whenever i play this one.


You'll notice that i write about music very often here.

yah, i love music a lot, ever since i first learnt the piano when i was 5.

Sometimes, spending time practising alone is very lonely.

my teacher tells me to practise 8 hours a day.

although i prob do around 4 hours,

it really seems like you deny yourself of a life,

to spend so much time alone, practising.


Although I really want to do music as a career,

it's sometimes hard to see where the future lies.

What will happen?

Should I spend all my time on music now?

Or go get a job fast, esp since i've graduated now.


During times like this, when i feel so confused and

confronted by all these thorny issues,

i will remember a scripture which goes like this:


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:4-7)


This is a special verse for me,

because i first knew it when my dad copied it down for me

after attending a morning devotion service at his school.

He teaches in a Christian school,

and though he's a non-Christian,

yet he bothered to write down the verse for me.


Yah, it's quite touching.

And I hope sometime i can share my thoughts on the verse to him too.

But anyway, the verse reminds me that i should trust in God

and leave my future in His hands,

believing that He will show me His will for me.





I saw her again today in the library,

and she's still so beautiful.

I didn't know what to say to her,

could only ask some rather stupid questions.


I don't know what I should write here also.

Never felt so ineloquent before.

But just feel the need to leave at least a note,

so that I can remember.


I don't know why I'm dividing this into lines of four,

this is definitely not a poem.

For no pretty lines

can come from someone always so dumbstruck.



28/07/2003 -- Life is beautiful


I have not written for some time, so I've a lot to say today.


On Sunday evening, my obese molly fish suddenly started to give birth.

Actually, that's when I realized why she had been so fat.

Ok, I know that female fish are usually 'rounder' than the males,

but I really didn't know that this one's pregnant!


Anyway, we were in a mad scramble over what to do,

because fish breeding is a very delicate process,

by right you should have a separate breeding tank and such things,

or else the young fry risk getting into some catastrophe,

including being eaten by their parents.


By the time I discovered that it had "gone into labour",

there were already three really tiny fish around her,

one dead and two swimming frantically about.


Because of the cannibalist thing i mentioned earlier,

I thought it would be best to remove this two small fry,

so we found an empty container which we transferred them into.


After a while, the mother fish produced another two equally tiny fish,

and this time, my mum suggested we let them remain in the tank,

because the adult fish do not seem like they will eat them.


To cut the long story short,

the next morning, we discovered the mother fish dead,

and the two small fry which we seperated were gone too.

It was quite sad....a mother dying in labour.

But anyway, the other two baby fish

which remained in the orginal tank were OK, and they still are, today,

so we have now placed a little piece of decorative stone

at the bottom for them to hide under, 

and hopefully, they will be well.


What I want to say is that it's so amazing about these animals,

just before the female fish gave birth,

the other two males, who had been particularly aggressive and territorial

became so subdued and gentle,

and they stayed at the bottom close to the female,

even stroking and nestling near her.

My mum, being the 'idealistic' one, claimed that that the fish had this 'humane' aspect, and this is another evidence for it.

But being more cynical....haha...i have reservations about this.


Enough about this, here's something more sombre...

This entry is entitled 'life is beautiful', as shown by the birth of new life,

but some of you might be aware of the tragic incident which happened to someone from my ex school last friday.


i couldn't believe it when i heard it from my dad last saturday.

and when i saw some of the very heartbroken things written by her friends on their blogs, it made me feel even more terrible.


there are so many instances where you can find meaning and beauty in life.

Getting up each morning,

breathing in the fresh air, 

the warm cup of coffee,

going down your familiar flight of stairs, 

going for morning assembly, seeing your friends...

these are all things you can feel happy about.


so...all i want to say is...

please treasure your life...there are many beautiful things in it... 



24/06/2003 -- Sunday


On the Sunday just passed, I was baptised in my church.

As the pastor sprinkled water on my head,

it signified a new beginning of my relationship with God,

one that I hope to renew everyday of my life,

and to uphold for the rest of my life.


After that, I went to my JC class tutor ms melissa lim's wedding at her church.

it was also a kind of a class gathering for my jc class...

so was more than glad to see a number of my friends,

also brought back some memories of times in jc.

that was 5 years really seems so so long ago.


glad to report the following about the friends who turned up:


liwei who is doing comm studies at ntu (and he looks really compatible with his gf) 


stan who is entering nie to train as a teacher. i'm sure his earnestness and patience will make him a good one.


joanne who has just graduated (just like me) and has found a job (unlike me!) as an auditor. she's not changed much...but definitely more stylish...and she has found her calling teaching sunday sch in her church.


i've not seen lynn since graduation from jc but she's just what i'd imagined she'd be...independent, modern and strong...she's in the rsaf, doing what she loves, and she owns her own car!


that's all for now...hope to see more friends at the next gathering! 



06/06/2003 -- The Artist's sensibility


Yesterday, i was teaching one of my students beethoven's 'for elise',

and when i asked her to play it with affection,

she asked why shouldn't it be played loudly and roughly,

since the composer is a guy...unless he is gay (!!??)


It's not uncommon for male artists to be labelled as unmanly and softies.

the russian pianist cherkassky said that the best artist is one who is male but with a woman's sensibilities.

the part about male exclusivity in the arts is of course outdated patriachism that is irrelevant today,

but the next bit about the prized "woman's sensibilities" in an artist is very interesting.


i think what cherkassky meant is not that male artists have to be gay,

but rather, a good artist has the quality of sensitivity, attention to details and an awareness of the emotions of her/himself and that of others, 

and these are qualities usually associated with women rather than men.


a good male artist is one who is usually more sensitive, reflective, and more in touch with the emotions, but that has nothing to do with his sexual preference right?


furthermore, a good artist, like beethoven, does not merely have his gentle "for elise" side, but too can express the dark and turbulent side of life. the artist is one whose work reflects life, and s/he needs his/her keen observation and sensitivity to create works that encompass the wide range of emotions in life, be it the dreamy expectations of an idealistic young girl watching the handsome youth passing beneath her window, or the dark angst of the unwanted old man braving the storm alone.


so nicole, beethoven need not be gay to compose 'for elise'.

he only needs to be a good artist.   



2/05/2003 -- Mozart, Russian pianists, the little prince and beckett


As if to make up for the lack of entries over the past month,

here's my 2nd entry in 4 days!


On wednesday i was talking to my piano teacher about this year's piano festival

and when i mentioned that nikolai demidenko's playing a big mozart programme,

she said very incredulously "you want to go hear a russian play mozart?"

hehe...a common joke on russian pianists playing non-russian music :)


yesterday i bought 'the little prince' and 'waiting for godot' from kinokuniya

you can't find 2 more different books...


one about child-like idealism  

the other about the disillusion upon knowing too much about life and existence


if 'prince' is about innocence,

then 'godot' is probably experience? 



29/04/2003 -- It's been a long time...


It's been so so long since I'd last written...

so many things have happened in that time.


Remember the s21 playwriting contest i took part last december?

well, i've won second prize..which came as a huge surprise...

but really happy and honoured

it's a huge encouragement for me to keep on writing.


i'm also in theatreworks's writers lab.

my fellow writers (drawn fr play:write, syda and the 24hr play) and i meet abt once every fortnight,

to discuss playwriting issues, read our own works etc etc


...i'm sorry if this entry reads like a long listing of what i've done...

forgive me...i haven't been updating for so long,

and now i think so much's missing!!


i'm also at an awkward stage of my life right now,

i've just completed my final exams in nus,

so i'm waiting to see if i get to do honours,

and if not, i should start looking for work,

but then i would really want to try applying for scm next year.

so praying to God that He will show me what i have to do.


rgd my personal life,

i feel i have changed much within the last few years.


if you ask me now, or anytime in future

i would still tell you the happiest time of my life was when i was a little boy


i was so happy then, innocently unaware of all the capacity for sadness

in the world.

that's why i admire children so much,

for their unclouded innocence and simple faith.


i've always, and will still give anything to have peace of mind,

and to live simply,

in harmony with everyone around me.


but these few years have made me seen that life is realistic,

there is very little possibility of wishing that all around you

will remain forever innocent and simple.


i still have great faith in God,

and believe that He will always look after me.


but i now believe at the same time that even if i want everything

to be simple and ideal,

i can't expect everyone around me to feel the same,

simply because the world is not simple and ideal.

and if i have to live in this world,

i've got to adapt somehow.


but at the same time,

we should keep as much innocence and simplicty as we possibly can

that's something i always firmly believe in

27/02/2003 -- "You are like a flower"
You are like a flower
So lovely, pure and fair;
I gaze upon you
And sadness steals into my heart.


I fain would lay my hands

In blessing on your brow,
Praying that God may keep you,
So lovely, pure and fair.


Heinrich Heine


You'd have seen this poem appearing very frequently on this site.....

in the soliloquy, on the poems page, frontpage...

do you know why i like it so much?

Maybe i'll tell u a little today.


The main thing is its simplicity and eloquence.

I don't like very wordy writing,

stuff that takes plenty of flowery language before it gets to the point.

It's the same in music,

mozart, with his simple textures, and economy of notes,

could express his ideas in such a subtle and beautiful manner.

That to me is beauty in its simplicity of expression.


You might be surprised why the poet feels sadness stealing into his heart,

when after all he is gazing at a lady who is "like a flower"

and "so lovely, pure and fair".

To me, this is characteristic of romantic poetry and the sensitively melancholic artist

which is infinitely touching.

Why the artist feels melancholic when gazing upon a lovely girl

is because he realizes that her God-given purity and loveliness

makes her almost a sacred being that is so precious and unattainable.


He doesn't feel inferior to her but his inherent pessimism makes him ask questions like...

why should I be so blessed to have this lovely girl being given to me?

how can i live up to the innonocence and purity of this girl?


Of course, when melancholic artists look upon something lovely,

he doesn't stop at merely appreciating this beauty,

but is reminded that beauty is transient, inevitably mortal,

and all good things must one day come to an end.

It's like the (somewhat silly) image of a poet watching leaves fall from a tree, sighs

and pens a sad poem.


Pragmatic people find this silly.


Everyone knows that life is short.

Practical people will decide that one has to make full and effective use of this brevity.

Idealistic (aka silly) ones laments its transcience and....writes poetry!




You are like a flowers
So lovely, pure and fair;
I gaze upon you
And sadness steals into my heart.


I fain would lay my hands

In blessing on your brow,
Praying that God may keep you,
So lovely, pure and fair.


Heinrich Heine


28/01/2003 -- Casper(the friendly ghost) and Schubert's Unfinished Symphony
I have been wanting to write this entry long ago but I'd always forget about it when I'm at the since i'm online and the thing's in my head now, here it is.
I don't know whether you like tv mobile....
IT'S EVERYWHERE, it's slogan runs :0
For me, there are 3 programmes on tv mobile that's worth watching,
the newsreel, just kidding and the cartoons.
You know they always show this old old cartoon that goes way back to our parents' time,
and then there's this segment with casper the friendly ghost.
Yah, it's damn cliched.
The plot always runs something like this -
Casper wanders into a neighbourhood of people.
Out of curiosity for the people he sees, or what they are doing,
Casper approaches and makes an introduction.
Then of course he scares the wits out of them.
(unfailingly, every single one of them delivers the line: "AH...A GHOST!")
And runs off, leaving Casper sad and desolate,
until someone (who usually is a baby animal -- and thus don't know what a ghost is; or someone as ostrasized as Casper is -- and thus wants a friend so badly that he doesn't even mind a ghost!) comes along and befriends Casper.
(By now, u'd be wondering why I'm still not getting into the main point... so here goes)
There's this Casper episode where Casper actually helps Schubert complete his "Unfinished Symphony"!
There is this composer (supposedly Schubert but he doesn't look like him) frantically hammering away at his piano and unable to finish his symphony due to all the noise around him, and Casper eventually helps him by actually banging out all the big chords for him.
It is very funny, because in real life, the symphony remained unfinished.
It has only 2 movements, but judging from the strength of these two,
they can really stand very well on their own.
In fact, someone commented that they are so perfect that there's no way Schubert's gonna be able to write another two movements worthy of them.
Nah, this is nonsense.
Have you ever heard of a painter abandoning the left side of his portrait because the right side is too perfect?
Come on, if Schubert leaves us with just 2 mvts,
the only explanations are that 2 mvts are sufficient to say all he wants for the work,
or that the other 2 are lost :0
But for Schubert, a third explanation is that he simply put it off because new creative impulses for other works came to him...
Just a bit of trivia,
the "Schubert" in the Casper cartoon was certainly under lots of stress in his composition of his work.
The real Schubert probably composed it under a similar dark cloud --
He had just realized he'd got syphillis.
Hey, try listening to the work - Schubert's Symphony No. 8 "Unfinished". It's a real tragic and moving work :] 
07/01/2003 -- ........
I don't know why I feel sad so easily......
Especially during the parting with someone i care for,
thinking that i may not see that person again,
or leaving a place where i have spent a part of my life at,
knowing that i will never go to it everyday again, like how i had used to. 
You would say that there's always memories to keep that past alive,
but isn't it a fact that the person whom you have parted with
will inevitably move on to another person,
and you become just another person whom s/he has met and left behind
because everyone must move on in life?
But God is very fair to everyone.
i feel happy just as easily as i feel sad.
i remember being happy just to go for morning assembly
during the sec sch and jc days.
just to see everyone lining up in rows,
to see the huge patch of field infront of us,
the blue sky over us.
that's joy for me...
perhaps i should try to make myself feel sad
02/01/2003 -- Ladida
2nd day of the new year...
I'm sitting in the nus computer lab,
listening to clifford curzon play mozart's "coronation" concerto on my player,
waiting for the announcement for my modules for the new term.
~I hope they keep their promise and put it up at 12pm:)
i'm beginning to discover the mozart recordings by english pianists...
my ex-teacher used to wear a huge scowl on his face
and put down english pianists as "too polite" in their playing.
but now i think there's a unaffectedness and naturalness in their being "too polite"
that makes their mozart quite beautiful.
after all, i still think mozart should always be played without any affectation...
let the music speak for itself.
i wonder what modules i'll get for the new term...?
i registered for five "normal" modules and 2 cfms,
though i only need 4.
i'm only following the system ok,
cos u might not get what u want,
so u should sign up for the max no.possible...
it's kinda difficult to always get the modules u really like,
cos there are all sorts of considerations such as
lecture/tutorial/exam clashes,
unearthly lecture hours,
overly close lecture hours (!!)
funny requirements imposed (no. of band a/band b modules u need to do!!!!)
....the list goes on.....
i rem during a literature tutorial a few semesters back.
the tutor asked why we chose that module,
and b4 we could answer 
she joked that it was perhaps to fulfil some departmental requirement...
she then asked if there's any1 in the class who's there cos of the love of literature..
haha, two such cynical questions.
i guess she knew most of us quite well...
btw there was only 1 guy who said yes to the second question.
and it wasn't me.
i won't say why...those who know me very well will know
23/12/2002 -- O Holy Night
"Oh Holy Night,
The stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth"
Yes, this is my favourite Christmas hymn of all time.
First heard it sung by a Korean soprano in church a few years back,
and fell absolutely in love with it.
Especially love the line which goes
"A trill of hope, the weary world rejoices".
Sung properly by a good singer,
that one line conveys so movingly,
the idealistic expectations
and a pure and innocent hope in the Lord.
Anyway, I was in a toilet in paragon the other day,
and they played it on the pa system.
It was a sax-version, not very much to my taste,
but i still lingered in there longer than i needed to finish the song.
O Holy Night amidst the stinky toilet...
quite an experience.
I remember when I was working at hmv last christmas,
i'd always play this song on air.
It helped that it was on almost every one of the commercialised christmas albums.
the version by angela gheorghiu was one of the best.
wonder if they are still playing it this year.
This is probably my final post for 2002...
Resolution for the new year?
~Hope to keep myself very busy and occupied.
It's nice to be able to work,
makes you forget about a lot of things...
Here's greetings for the merry season and all the best for 2003~~
13/12/2002 -- Writing state propaganda
I've been back from a playwriting contest held earlier this week.
It's a very weird kind of writing event,
to start off with, the theme of the contest is the writing of STATE PROPAGANDA,
which i think is sth entirely inartistic and uncreative,
and should best be left to the same people who writes political speeches.
added on to that,
they tire us out so completely by making us visit fishery ports at unearthly hours,
and the so-called stimuli given were so out with anything "propagandish" that it makes writing very very difficult!!
heheh, but the prize money was the main attraction..haha, mercenary me!
but judging from the piece of rot i wrote at the end of the two tiring days,
i think my chances are slim.
but the gd thing tt came out of the event is the discovery of my writing weakness
-- i can't develop my materials properly.
I always start out being v ambitious, trying to explore every known angle about my themes,
but end up not extrapolating or resolving them properly.
was also rather touched by the comments of a few frens
that they wrote just to develop their writing technique,
or perhaps just simply to voice their beliefs.
That's quite noble.
I'm not sure if i can do that.
I know people talk about artistic integrity
and you always hear gd writers, or any famous artist, for that matter,
frowning on any kind of artistic compromise,
and they would rather die a martyr than write something to please others,
or things which they don't belief in.
For me, i need to feel strongly abt the things i write,
and also write strongly abt the things i feel.
But i think arts in something which is two way.
If you are a composer,
you are expected to know that you have an audience out there
who is "receiving" your work.
Just like a writer, who has a reader reading his.
Therefore, perhaps you do have to consider the audience,
at least up to a certain extent.
Enough abt writing now,
another highlight of the week is, my mum's back from taiwan yesterday.
Wow, she went for almost 5 months, the longest time ever since...i could remember.
The first questions she asked when she met us was if she's put on weight...did she look older...and all that...
i once read somewhere that when a woman ask you such questions,
u shld tell them honestly, but add something like "But I appreciate you the way you are"
I don't know if this works...
but i didn't try it yesterday...haha
picture the following scenario...
someone that is well...not on the slim side come up to you and ask for opinions abt her weight.
Then, remembering the above golden advice, you declare
"Yes, you are humongous, but i like it that way".
Try it, and see if it works...
6/12/2002 -- Review
Maybe I shall start off with my thoughts after attending the performance of "To Be or Not To Be".
Yes, there were significant changes made by the director,
some with my permission, some without.
When they began rehearsing the plays,
I was pretty bothered about the potential alterations to my script....
alterations that will misrepresent the original idea i had intended to show through the play.
So what I did was to send a long email to the director explaining my views about the play,
and also attended one of the rehearsals, where the director, the performers and myself discussed what could work and what couldn't.
At the end of the day, I realized that it's inevitable that certain aspects of the work will be changed,
after all, i'm not the only person with an ego (!), the performers will want to stamp their interpretations on the work too, and I'm ok with that,
particularly since it's my first work, and i'm after all a green writer,
so I won't complain that much,
(just for this time round...:)
Anyway, back to the actual performance...
For those who don't know what my play is about....
it is a kind of satire on pseudo-cultured people,
you know, people who aspires to be cultured,
and thinks that by being able to rattle off names like "Mozart" and "Tchaikovsky" makes them so.
Dialogue is very important in this play,
so I found the delivery on that day a tad too fast.
Some important bits that will give the characters more definition were unfortunately cut..
But I'm not complaining too much..(why do I keep saying this? ...maybe deep inside, I really feel like complaining...but never mind)
one reason why I decided to distance myself from the actual performance was so that i could observe how the players, who were more experienced in theatre than myself,
would interpret the work in ways i didn't think of myself.
Anyway, was glad of the feedback i received from people after the show,
was particularly touched that one of my lecturers turned up
and later gave me plenty of illuminating feedback...
It's always nice to have real solid opinions apart from the regular "Oh, I enjoyed it", "It was nice", and "It's quite good"
Anway, thanks to all who turned up,
you've given an inexperienced but earnest writer his much needed support and encouragement!
17/11/2002 -- To be or not to be
Come watch, come watch...
The play I wrote for my playwriting course will be performed soon...
Details below:
23 and 24th November 2002
Esplanade Outdoor Theatre
7 to 10.30pm
Part of the Singapore River Buskers Festival 2002's "Arty Party". Organised by Central Singapore CDC and co-organised by Theatreworks.
*6 short plays to be performed, mine's playing at 8pm.
To be or not to be - a play that examines the tension in a family consisting of a societal conformist, his cynical wife, his artistically untouchable son, and his ambiguous elderly relative.
Written by Jack Tan
Directed by Jeffrey Tan
Cast: Benjamin Ng (Mr. Tan), Esther Yap (Mrs. Tan), Haslynda Dahlan (Wong), Paerin Choa (Timothy Tan) 
For details on this event and the synopsis of the other 5 plays, please visit
08/11/2002 -- Something Cosmic
I met a friend from secondary school on bus no. 7 the other day.
As we were talking, he said since we should bump into each other
there's "something cosmic" and we should keep in touch.
Is it true that there are certain people in this world you have more affinity with?
Is there someone from work, from school, whom you seem always to meet, to bump into?
In that case, why is it so?
And why that person?
Is it mere coincidence?
Or is it really true that our lives are inevitably tied to certain people with which we share some kind of affinity?
I've read somewhere that when you notice these coincidences in life, it means you care about that person who's involved in these little "coincidences" in your life.
Have you noticed that if the person you always bump into is one you care little about, someone with hardly any impact on your life, you would have let this "coincidence" slip by without much thought.
there's someone whom i'd always meet
someone whom i seemed to have affinity with
someone whom i would like to know better
but don't seem to know how to
but fate seems to have decreed otherwise
for why did i always see her then
but not anymore now
20/10/2002 -- The Esplanade
As promised, here's my report on the two performances I've attended at the esplanade last week.
The concert hall really has wonderful acoustics...
I was sitting at circle 3 (it's some six storeys above the stage, so don't lean too much over the rails!) and yet every note from the LPO could be heard clearly.
Actually, I don't like the LPO very much,
always thought they're somewhat unbalanced.
The strings are very exquisite and refined,
sounding like a chamber ensemble sometimes,
while the brasses are really metallic powerhorses.
Was very fatigued on tuesday night,
and had to sit through 64 minutes of a bruckner symphony(!!!)
There's nothing wrong with good ol' bruckner,
he is probably the most patient composer that has ever lived,
judging from his super-long and monumental (aka boring) works.
And he demands the same kind of monumental patience from his listeners.
Listening to him is like hearing an old man talk about life,
not about the adventures and follies of his youth, mind you.
But about how beautiful the mountains are,
how wide the earth is,
how he longs to be close to the divine,
all in long breathy phrases.......
Alas not for one who is already fatigued even b4 entering the hall.
You must really love Bruckner to appreciate his work.
but not the kind of stuff i would like to listen to at the end of a long day.
I also caught the srt musical 'forbidden city' at the theatre.
the theatre is really splendid, very very beautiful.
can't wait to watch an opera there.
I've never watched a live musical before,
so wanted to use it as a sort of "study" for myself.
was pleasantly surprised to discover that some of the music sounds rather operatic.
there are some nice tunes, but i can't really place it in the hierarchy of musicals-
whether it's good or bad,
cos of my limited experience with musicals,
but really must listen to more music theatre from now.
Gosh, i'm still tired,
don't seem to enjoy my writing today.
must get more sleep in the coming days,
will be back soon......
12/10/2002 -- Bliss mingled with stress
I have 2 things to say today, one happy, one not that,
I think I shall say the bad one first...
Next week will be another one of those weeks where you are just bombarded by
one assignment after another,
one deadline after another.
I have 2 essays to work on,
plus a course website to submit on thurs,
plus a presentation for that website to be done on a saturday...
to cap it all, the shadow of the exams draw ominously closer......  
Okay, now to dispel the gloom a little.
Remember the playwrighting course I mentioned a few weeks ago?
I've just been told that my play is one of those selected for performance this november!
Will be going down on monday to discuss things with the director,
really looking forward to it, and really excited too!
BTW, the esplanade is opening today...
looking forward to the two performances i'll be attending there next week.
looks like it'll be a busy "bliss" and "stress" wk coming up...
will be back with more news next wk......
27/09/2002 -- A slice of Taiwanese life
The other night,
I tuned in to the Taiwan news channel on SCV.
For an entire half hour, this is what I heard
1. Well-known newscaster went on a shopping spree with her elderly bf's amex and has now gone missing
2. Call girls accusing local police for bribery
3. Man accused of outraging the modesty of a ten year old girl
4. Step-mum allegedly harrassed stepson sexually
5. Mum who still breast-feed eight year old son accused of sexual harrassment
What kinda news bulletin is this?
5/09/2002 -- Nothingness
Thing to do during term recess:
To find out what the heck Watt is about
I've discovered that my very first webpage is still in the WWW.
31/08/2002 -- A Moment in Time
I bumped into a primary school classmate at Clementi interchange yesterday.
As we stood there talking, asking each other what we were busy with lately,
memories of the primary school days all came back to me again.
It's a rather strange feeling, you know,
I still remember her sitting behind me in our Primary 5 class,
and me turning behind, talking to her.
That was 1992 -- ten years ago.
It's as if it was yesterday.
Then my mind drifts into the scene of my primary school classroom.
I can see all my classmates again,
remember the things we did.
I can even vividly inhibit my youthful state of mind again,
and move into the childish world of bliss, ignorance and happiness
If one was to remain a child forever,
you would never know the cruelties of the world,
never know how hard you have to work in life,
how many masks you have to wear.
You would think that everyone is nice,
and that selfishness, hatred, jealousy,
never existed.
Everyone grows,
from an innocent child,
blissfully unaware of the cares of the world
(have you ever wondered why a child can be so spontaneous in his actions and talk in public without ever feeling shy)
to a growing child,
made more and more conscious that
to survive
you have to compete with others
(in the animal world, the weak gets devoured,
in the human world, the weak gets squeezed down the social ladder)
then you try your best to accumulate all sorts of glory you possibly can
degrees, scholarships, fame, money
then people start dating
(how many people love so as to feel good themselves)
then they get married
then they do to their children what their parents have done to them
(then their children grow
from an innocent child,
blissfully unaware of the cares of the world
some people like their jobs
some people don't
but when they view it a means of sustenance,
they'll just accept it.
they then begin to accumulate all sort of glories they can possibly get
what for, all these?
what for?
what is man if he is to worry about all these all his life?
but who can survive if he doesn't?
23/08/2002 -- My menu
My eating habits are rather erratic,
take for example, my menu for today:
Kaya toast 
Chrysanthemum tea 
Fried Hokkien mee
Delifrance 'Les Sandwiches'
Magnolia Magnum ice-cream
Hor Fun               
What does one's eating habits say about him?
20/08/2002 -- Goodbye friends, Hello Beckett...(and Ibsen) friends have returned to their unis in the US.
So ends three months of talking on the phone, sms-es, having lunch, and playing music together.
It's good luck and allzebest for the new term til next year...
I've chosen to do a presentation on Beckett for my lit class...
Haha, don't know if I'm crazy or what,
the novel (I haven't read it!!) is like a big puzzle...
Have to spend a lot of time deciphering it in the coming weeks.
I've also completed a play for the playwriting course I'm doing.
It's called 'To be or not to be'
I try exploring different themes in it.
It's about whether people should stick to what they are, their social positions,
or if they should try to be someone whom they are not really are.
It's also about family politics...something which interests me quite a bit.
Well, it's a first try.. I have all sorts of worries after coming up with the script:
..Is the chraracterization consistent?
..Did I explore my themes fully?
..Are there any redundant lines/characters?
The list just goes on...
In times like this, I'll remember gd ol' Henrik Ibsen...
and marvel at his flawless plots....
Hey, I've updated my cover page poem.
It's another German poem...
I don't know why I find German poetry so take a look yourself!  
02/08/2002 -- Last one!
I still can't believe my luck...
I've just bought the very last ticket for the London Phil's Esplanade concert.
I asked the lady at the counter to repeat herself,
just to make sure I'm really the lucky last one!
Given that the LPO's concert is the first commercial performance (SSO plays on the 12th Oct in a by-invitation concert) at the Esplanade Concert Hall,
that makes me the very last ticket buyer for the first ever 'real' concert at the Esplanade.
Think they ought to unveil a plaque or something like that for me..
07/07/2002 -- Concert aftermath
Of the three noteworthy concerts we've had,
the one last friday was the best organized.
I say that because of
1) Best attendance -- chijmes hall filled
2) Nicest programme brochure-- though it's not free
3) Best logistics -- performers fr as far back as the 80s
4) Best location -- yms is "pui" compared to chijmes
However, the acoustics in the hall was impossible,
every single note echoed throughout the hall,
making it v difficult to play things articulately.
Furthermore, the piano had a sponge-like touch,
which was rather worrying
cos last year i sounded too loud on the yms piano,
so reminded myself to tone down this year.
But the cristofori piano at chijmes was so muffled,
every single note evaporated into the echoey arches of the hall once they left my fingers
that i thought i sounded perpetually soft!
Anyway, the pieces we played this year were really very beautiful,
the Bach sicilienne is really one of  the most touching pieces ever written,
once i've heard it performed as a piano duet 3 years ago,
i told myself i must try to play it one day.
Glad it came true that night,
and was lucky to have two good friends yingning and faith doing the melodies most lyrically.
The Mozart is also a fav of mine,
though I made a glaring slip of notes at my very first statement of the theme,
was glad we managed to pull through the rest.
This shows i have to work even harder the next time.
And to concentrate even more intensely on stage.
Performing on stage has always been a magical experience.
I remembered the first time I played a piano duet three years ago.
I was so nervous that everything below the stage seemed a blur.
When I was playing, everything was like a sort of a dreamscape.
Now I think that communication is really important.
You must love what u r playing,
and really make an effort to communicate your ideas about the music.
That's why my ex teacher said to conquer nervousness u must play out loud.
Just like to conquer a stammer u must speak out.
There was a sort of a bash at the end of the concert,
was in a dilemma whether to follow the main concert group, who went to carlton hotel,
or the people fr my batch, who went to kopitiam.
In the end, went along with the former.
Wanted to join the rest when the carlton group (we sat there and drank water!) had dispersed,
but then it was so late already, had a major headache (post-concert excitement?!) and besides, was hoping to take a friend's car, but realized he was over-loaded...
will be going later to my ex-teacher's recital.
thinking about the two years i'd studied with him,
realized i've learnt quite a bit.
he really is a wonderful wonderful teacher when inspired,
which prob happens 40% of the time.
but during those moments,
he throws at you such inspiringly insightful interpretation pointers(!!) that they stick with u forever.
but i'm still the most grateful to my present teacher,
she's just as inspiring and is always so professional...
#u see, it has happened again, once i start talking about music, i do more than i had intended to!!
04/07/2002 -- Spoilt for choice part 2
I seem to be unable to plan my timetable for next semester.
Somehow, each time after I've picked the modules i want to do,
i'll discover their tutorials if not the lectures, clash!
I'm having such a major headache that i've actually paused the deciding process
to write this journal...
argh! someone help me!
02/07/2002 -- Music and auditions
I went for the symphony chorus auditions yesterday...
Argh..i sang so badly, i'm surprised the music director didn't laugh at me..
instead he told me diplomatically that i should join a more amateur choir first,
or else i'd start abusing my voice when they throw difficult repertoire at me.
think they'll be doing beethoven's ninth and messiah at the end of the year.
He's right, i won't be able to handle it.
I rem having to audition for the rjc chamber orchestra years back,
but that audition was much simpler,
i think as long as you could play something which sounded like music, you could get through...
heh..i'm not rubbishing the standard of the rjc orchestra,
but i'm someone who'll give 200% if you believe in me even if i'm not that good..
thus, the kind gentleman who granted me entry into the orch despite of my not-so-good performance at the audition made me work doubly hard on my instrument...
similarly, if i had got through yesterday's audition,
u can be sure i'll work just as hard to justify the trust put in me.
but well then,
the audition's over,
i've flunked it,
what more can i say?
29/06/2002 -- Spoilt for choice!
It really really is difficult deciding which modules to take next sem...
Esp the literature modules,
all the texts on every single course look interesting,
so how am I gonna decide?
I've thought that I need to do some modern literature course,
cos they are after all more relevant to our times,
and besides, I seriously lack exposure in that department.
Once I enter a bookshop, I'll inevitably go straight to the C19th novels.
I think I'm old fashioned..
I count goethe, ibsen, shakespeare and heine as my fav writers.. 
New works, I seldom touch.
But then I thought, since uni life is so short,
why shouldn't I just do what I most enjoy?
Besides, I won't ever imagine i'll give up Schumann and Schubert for Stravinsky and Britten....
Therefore, i'll go with my heart, as always...
two of the courses i intend to do clash!!
sighs..have to rethink again..
not to mention the fight for places for my favourites next friday...
19/06/2002 -- Korea VS Italy
I have rather mixed feelings about Korea's 2-1 win over Italy yesterday...
It seems that everyone here in Singapore hopes Korea to win cos they're Asian.
Well, but it seems rather scandalous that a team that was thrashed 5-0 by Holland at the prev world cup should beat top teams like portugal and italy this time...
besides, look at the image of the korean players,
the team looks like a 11 member boyband sometimes.
Feel a bit sorry for the italians,
on paper, they should ease past the koreans,
perhaps they were over-confident.
If you watch the korean's equalizing goal,
you see the ball coming in and every single italian defender just missed it...
they didn't even seem to make an effort to do anything.
09/06/2002 -- Children=God's precious gift of innocence
Was involved in the Arts Festival Kidsfest at the Drama Centre this morning...
Really glad that I agreed to help out with the drama workshop.
Should say this's my first time working so closely with children.
And yes, I was a bit nervous, cos it wasn't a play play kind of thing,
they paid for it and besides their parents were all watching down there.
Anyway, the initial warming up items were quite a challenge for me,
cos I'm not tt kind of person gd at crowd control.
But when we later broke up into small groups,
and I was in charge of four really adorable children,
it was when the fun really started.
We acted out three nursery rhymes.
In "The four red apples"- i haven't heard of this b4, the four of them became the apples, and we followed the actions of the apples as described in the rhyme.
In "Humpty Dumpty"-not sure if i spelt it correct, we had our hero the gigantic egg, a wall, and two "king's soldiers and men"
In "Jack and Jill" (suggested by a girl who left a great impression on me, she's really the most intelligent child I've ever seen. She's so keen to please, once she knew my name and my two partners's, she began to incorporate them into the games/acting bits...and i flatter myself to think her suggestion of "Jack n Jill" a kind tribute to my name. If I ever have a daughter, how I wish she'll be one like her), we had a female "jack", the girl mentioned above as Jill, a newly-devised role of the kids's mother, and me as the well (where they draw water!)
The four of them were really the embodiment of what innocent childhood should be --
spontaneous ideas, unaffected responses, an eagerness to enjoy themselves and the belief that they could do anything if they tried.
If only we can be unspoilt by maturation,
the realizations of the cruel realities of the world.
Have you felt that when you were young, everyone around you seemed nice,
but now, you see so much deceit and selfishness...
The world has not gone bad,
it's only that your childish idealism and innocence have given way to experience.
Anyway, very glad to have this opportunity,
would be going back to help some more this coming week.
08/06/2002 -- On the World Cup, bets and cheesy commentators
It's world cup season...
The ads keep saying "and this time it's in asia so that means no more late nights"
but it seems that those die-hard soccer aficionados still spot dark eye rings...
Many people are betting on the matches too, especially since it's now legalized.
It's reported tt 8 million worth of bets was spent yesterday on the england vs argentina match...
and announcing the big winner of the world cup....Singapore Pools!!!
I must confess I feel somewhat tempted to buy 1 or two matches...
It makes watching the match more exciting, cos you have a stake in it...
I wonder how many people can watch the matches and feel equally excited and moved abt it even if he has no personal stake in it...
Maybe I should not be so cynical, there are many such people ard, who're inspired by the "beauty of the game"
I will bet u a large sum of money tt in every game u watch, u will hear the commentator say something like "Wow, that's a great show of sportsmanship" or "That's a beautiful gesture" when opposition players exchange any kind of friendly gesture..
these kind of comments are absolutely rubbishy and unnecessary...
do they expect opponents to be gnarling beasts waiting to sink their teeth into each other's throat?? 
if not what's so unusual abt behaving in a friendly manner with each other?
04/06/2002 -- On good and not-so-good pianists
Just went to Murray Perahia's recital on Sunday...
He's my favourite pianist,
he plays all my favourite composers -- Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert.
It was really an experience, he's probably the most high-profiled artist I've heard live so far.
There were some who commented on his wrong notes, some who said his playing wasn't clean,
I agree with all that,
but what's important to me is the quality of his "correct" notes.
You don't get many pianists who shape each phrase so musically as Perahia.
And yes, there were 2 instances tt night of mobile phones going off during the performance.
Yes, of course I was irritated, but what disgusted me more were the tsks and groans in response to the phone disturbance.
Don't these whiners know they are creating more noise than the phone pest?
Besides it just shows how easily affected and disturbed you are.
BTW, the prince of piano pop is coming to town too...
yes, I'm talking about RICHARD CLAYDERMAN.
I don't know about you, but I always associate his music with the closing time of bookshops or shopping malls...
Cos that's when the PA system will play his music...
his music is very pleasing, very sugary...
but beneath the over-sweetened coat, it's probably a hollow interior...
**HAHA, RC fans are gonna bash me up for saying tt**
but actually there's nothing wrong with his music.
If music for you is just for relaxation, just to wind you down after a hard day's work,
then choose the most easy-on-the ear type like RC.
this is another bad-writing day,
my lines don't sound too coherent.
will be back soon......
19/05/2002 -- Sparrows!!
Today's entry is about sparrows...
I guess they are the most common birds in S'pore after mynahs
I seem to have some sort of affinty with sparrows,
A few months back, one such bird got its foot entangled in some fibre mesh as it's trying to leave its nest in a ceiling crevice,
So it was there flapping haplessly while its mates fluttered nearby, chirping hysterically (so i guessed, it's hard to tell actually cos the creature has such tiny lungs that a whispering chirp may sound no different from a hysterical chirp).
Seizing on the opportunity to play saviour,
i armed myself with a pair of scissors.
Brandishing the steel, i snipped on the wire and thus...
Liberated the tiny creature.
Well, that was part 1...
Just yesterday, it was 'Sparrow in Distress II'.
I was walking along the pavement and saw a sparrow sitting (it's hard to imagine birds sitting, unless it's an incubating hen) right smack in the middle of it.
Well, when birds don't fly for their lives when you approach, there can only be four reasons:
1) It's injured -- most likely
2) It's a helpless baby bird -- sometimes
3) It's mentally unsound -- never heard of
4) It's a flightless bird -- come on, how many times have u seen ostriches or dodos on the streets?!
Well, it seems that no.2 was the case yesterday,
though it's highly open to debate, cos by nature of their tininess,
baby sparrows look just like their adults.
Well then it seems to me a dangerous thing for a helpless baby bird to be lying on the centre of the pavement, where it's very prone to being squashed by human feet anytime.
Thus the only thing I could do was to move it (gently) to the side of the road, where hopefully it's parents could move it back to its nest.
I guessed it must have dropped out of its nest, but how on earth are the parent sparrows gonna carry it back?
*one parent on one side supporting?
*carrying it with the beak?
well, whatever, but then, the key thing is i've saved another bird again...
Ah, the glowing feeling that accompanies a deed well done!
The proud heave of my breast upon feeling my influence upon someone's life!
The realization of my disgusting self-righteousness!!
12/05/2002 -- F & E
<Enter Florestan and Eusebius, the latter is busy with a book>
Florestan: What's that?
Eusebius(absent-mindedly): Oh, it's Hedda Gabler, I've just finished reading it. <closes book>
Florestan: Ah, that one, I've read it before, long ago, before I became cynical about literature.
Eusebius: What a thing to say, literature is one of the most beautiful things in this world, I learn so much about humans and being human from it every day.
Florestan: What nonsense, we are not humans! We are puppets that blindly follows societal rules in order to survive!
Eusebius: Ah, you've proved my point right, Hedda Gabler talks precisely of what you've just said.
Florestan: And so what, are you going to blow your brains out, like Hedda?
Eusebius: Er, no, but Ibsen has shown us how society is, just as you had said it.
Florestan: But what do you get out of it? By just knowing how society is, by understanding how it works, will that make you survive?
Eusebius: But that's a start.
Florestan: Damn you, you are always so sentimental and idealistic. Throw Ibsen away, and focus on how you can outwit that bastard in the office to get into the manager's favour. Think about how you can outsmart everyone in your class and get a medal for your finals performance.
Eusebius: So that's the world for you.
Florestan: It's for you too, but your ninny-fed brain just won't take it.
Eusebius<Places 'Hedda Gabler' in Florestan's hands>: Here, take this, you need it. I feel there's something lacking in you. You are hardly, hardly...
Florestan: Human! And are you?
Eusebius: Yes, I am, er, at least I try to be one.
Florestan: You're the last one!
<Eusebius and Florestan sit completely still, looking at each other>
05/05/2002 -- On Heine and my music during the holis
My exams are over...
last day was 30/4,
but didn't have a chance to update my site until today.
haha, today is sunday,
and i'm sitting here in the nus computer lab doing my updating
finally went back to my usual church service this morning.
have been either attending friend's church, the chi service or simply not going (shame on me) for some time!
i've added a new page on heinrich heine.
he's not a musician, btw.
it is to show tt i've got a life outside music, haha
he's my favourite poet,
though he's never written a word of english.
all i've read are his poems translated from german.
he's very gd, btw.
he's damn pessimistic abt love.
i'll be spending time doing up his page during the holis,
then we shall see how sad his poems are.
i'm glad i'll be doing lotsa music tis holis.
first, i'm playing the accompaniment for some1's singing exam.
she's singing 12 songs!
some of them are really very beautiful pieces.
like apres un reve and solveig's lied.
looking forward to it...
i'm also playing in a chamber music concert with my jc friends.
we'll be playing bach's sicilienne (one of the pieces in my top 10!)
and mozart's piano quartet
...come back for more updates, n btw ARSENAL won last night, yeah!!
04/04/2002 -- Kena sacked!!
I've just been sacked from my job at hmv. :(
Perhaps "sacked" is not the correct word, cos it's not my fault...
What the mgt told me is "It's got nothing to do with your work, just that we need someone more permanent."
Immediately after i was terminated, the full-timers got a raise,
so in a sense the mgt's idea is to share out my pay amongst them.
I mean, ok, we're over-staffed n the right thing to do is to axe the part-timers first,
but ever since I joined tt company, I've heard many disparaging remarks abt my status as a part-timer.
No matter how subtle they might be, remarks such as "We do not have the resources to teach u this and that" hurts...
Do you feel my writing today rather disjointed?
Well, this has been a very stressful week, 4 projects and papers to be done, can you believe it, thank goodness it's nearly over.
I think I'll post again when i've regained some writing coherence......
12/03/2002 -- (The title is below in bigger fonts)
I was rather sleepless yesterday night.
You know the kind of experience when your body feels so lethargic while your mind remains wide awake?
The True Story about Friends in the new Millennium(and beyond),as told by a cynic
Friends are more and more difficult to find.
I mean real friends.
It's so amazing, the very instance you see the person you have thought highly of, whom you had felt a genuine friend, displaying selfishness when you least expect it.
Those are the most telling moments, 
it just goes *flash* like lightning,  that very second you see the basic rottenness of a so-called friend.
His smiles and seemingly friendly gestures from that instance onwards will all be play-acting  by a miserable clown.
I don't believe that people could change.
It's nonsense to say that you want to change others.
Yes, you might change them partially, or even up to 99.99%.
But come the time of crisis, the time of test, if he has even that 0.01% of his lousy base nature left in him,
he will betray you.
But there is a solution to this problem.
Be like them and you will be just as happy.
After all, you feel part of the crowd.
That is what rules the world today.
If you want to be part of the society,
for goodness sake blend in with it.
If people around you are selfish and ungenuine,
please change yourself into their rotten state.
Don't stop at mere acceptance,
for in your moment of weakness you will judge their rottenness again.
The above mentioned people are the smart ones,
they are what you called street-wise and survival-fit.
They know that anyone who really ponders and frets over "real friendship" becomes a cynic, a miserable recluse and dies early with a sad and heavy heart.
So why not be like them and live happily?
But remember one thing,
the moment when one is about to leave the world,
all masks are removed, it is with your original ugly countenance that you come into this world,
and with it, you will leave it.
Look into the depths of your conscience, is there a tiny almost-dying cry imploring you,
if you can ignore this cry,
or if you have never ever addressed your conscience,
i rest my case.
i wonder why i am typing all these nonsense.
i guess the state i was in last night could be better described as a delirium.
Mad thoughts come to one then......
19/02/2002 -- Screwed-up teachers

I've been looking back at the years of schooling I've had before entering college, and I feel the worst years occured in the secondary school years. I've had the misfortune of having two teachers (who shall remain unnamed), who are the worst examples of that rightfully noble profession. They suppose that every student under their charge think and work at uniform rates and when they are unable to observe that generalization, they apply hard handed approaches totally devoid of human sentiment to achieve their ends. If education does not take into account the uniqueness and different requirements of each individual student, I suggest these two respectable members of the teaching profession resign wef and take up a job in a canning factory, where uniformity and standardization of product will be expected.

If I had been a trouble maker or one that refuses to listen, I can perfectly understand their treatment of me, but I can state honestly that I have always desired to go in accordance with whatever is given and have never wilfully gone against instructions. Do all mathematics teachers discriminate against students who take longer to understand a formula? Do chemistry teachers despise students who are slower in working out a calculation? Yes, please tell me now that all that you have done is to make me go in flow with the rest of the class, and to produce a beautiful cert at the end of the year (not to mention Your even more beautiful report card), but can you have enough common sense, being teachers in a reputable organization, to appreciate the fact that the school is not a factory where everyone has uniform learning speed and interests? Even if I do not have the aptitude for chemistry, does that make me a lousier person? Why do you have to be so construed by society that you think since it is based on technology and rationality, everyone who is lousy in mathematics is a loser and don't deserve respect? Certainly the way you treated me removed any semblance of respect left for me, I can still state honourably here that I have never been a wilful trouble-maker.

It's strange that I am banging about all these things here, since it's been so long since it happened, but I want to remind all teachers and would-bes, have a heart. If you do not genuinely care for the unique interests and needs of each student, preferring to produce a class of uniform achievers, for goodness sake quit the profession, and do not harm the reputation of that noble institution and your respectability, what little you might have. And one more thing, your subject, even if it seems the most useful in society at that time, is not the Bible or the law, if a student shows no aptitude in it, though he is willing to learn, have some goodness to allow him his own time to absorb the material. Another field of knowledge, which is disregarded by society, and which he is good in might take over your subject one day.
29/01/2002 -- George Sand vs Wilkie Collins vs Love

Recently, I've been thinking about two notions of love that are pretty interesting. I got them both from novels (See, I've been reading dilligently :>). Let me tell you these two ideas one after the other, the first is from a french novel by George Sand (by the way, she's Chopin's mistress) entitled "Indiana". In it, the male figure (can't rem his name) loves the heroine Indiana because he feels good about loving her. This kind of love is a very conditional one, and I think it might be based on reasons such as looks, wealth and the such which you draw out of your lover and which you feel good about. I wonder how many of us love for the pure reason of loving the other person, (that is, minus the self-factor). I think it is utterly impossible. To put that question in another form, is there anyone who is completly unselfish, and what i mean is not an ounce of selfishness exists in that person? If the answer to the latter question is in the negative, then so is the former one. We Man being born selfish creatures, varying only in degrees, have to bring in the self-element in whatever we do, including love, so therefore, I think no love in the world is selfless, apart from that of God, that is why we sing in church "Lord please make us more like you". Rather psychological and heavy-handed emotionally, don't you think, for a novel?

Ok, the next one I have to say is not quite as provoking as the former. In "No Name" by Wilkie Collins (a text I'm doing now in sch), Magdelene's reason for liking Francis Clare was because she could "hen-peck" him, with her headstrong and domineering manners and his gentle, almost-effeminate sort of air. I have to stress that Magdelene did not consciously choose Francis so that she could exert that "hen-pecking" power of hers. That precisely is the scary bit of it. Sometimes, we might be attracted to others because they could serve our whims and fancies, and not because we sincerely love them, WITHOUT OURSELVES CONSCIOUSLY KNOWING IT. This ties in with George Sand's idea that love is often selfish (actually everybody knows this, I'm just trying here to bring in some proof from literature so the argument seem more classy..heh). So look around you, look at the persons you love, do you love them because something in them appeals to you? Or do you love them for what they are?
15/01/2002 -- Working at HMV

There is something I must share with you, Mozart's chamber music are some of the most sublime works ever written. Try listening to his quartets to get what I mean. If you want something to accompany you while you study, you certainly won't go wrong listening to Mozart. And when you're not studying, by putting on some of his music, you'll feel so happy and blessed, it's certainly an amazing experience that you must try out yourself to find out.

After that long introduction, here comes the meat of the thoughts of the day. Having worked nearly three months at HMV, some thoughts have come to me. Firstly, the old notion that sales is pretty much chicken feet is wholly wrong. Anything that involves customer service is totally physically and mentally draining. No matter how tired you are; independent of the mood you are in, you have to treat each customer as a valuable individual that will generate sales for your company. This sounds rather cynical and unfeeling, as if all salespersons pretend to smile at customers but all carry a mercenary motive behind. But at the end of it all, if you don't genuinely feel for something, you won't do it well. That is to say, if your outward appearance is "Hi, can I help you?" (complete with a wide grin), but inwards you are "This idiotic person can't even look for this simple thing himself", you will feel disatisfaction and defeat at the end of the day.

Of course my main reason for working at a CD store is my love of music, and it's truly a blessing to be among all the CDs I love (it's as if you own them, sometimes). But customer service is enormously rewarding too. You just have to think how satisfied the customer is when you help them find that elusive CD they have been searching for ages, or after a recommendation of a particular music they have been wanting to get. This leaves a glowing feeling, as if you have been a saint that showers happiness on others (Ok, perhaps that's bringing it too far, let's just stop at the glowing feeling).

They are some impossible customers, of course, such as those that disregard store policies and insist on their own. There was this particular person who insisted on using his own player to try the discs, and he was genuinely (and I say so) perplexed that it wasn't allowed, I think what struck me then was that he wasn't angry or anything but he really felt strongly that he had a case. There are people who comment on the way we paste the price labels, these individuals will go on instructing us on the best way to paste these as not to obstruct the artiste's face, the track listing, and all sorts of things they feel should be free for all eyes. In these sort of situations, I think there should be some sort of compromise. I understand their remarks for I feel as a customer too, but they've got to understand that those humongous stickers (especially those smack-in-your-face SALES types) will inevitably cover something.

Talking about handling the job, I think one problem I have very initially is worrying about the scope so much that I continually bug the already-very-stressed-with-many-other-people's-problems manager (cheers to Ainsley for handling everything so well:) with questions like "What am I to do if this-and-that?" One thing I did eventually come to realize, and this I'd like to share with all potential sales people is that you have to learn on the job by observation and practice. Attempting to know everything from day 1 is utterly impossible.

I think that has got part of the matter off my chest. Check back for more of my views on the job. Anyway, a very belated happy 2002 to all!
13/11/2001 -- Some thoughts on music

I've been and will be doing lots of piano accompaniment for singers recently. It's sth I really enjoy doing :)

Had a first try at tt during the rehearsals for the abortive pinafore project earlier this year and then again for some friends at their singing concert last saturday at the st andrew's cathedral (always thought cathedrals were catholic, surprised tt this one's anglican!).

Anyway, I think I love playing a supportive role, it's minus the pressure of being in the limelight but still feeling that you're an integral support for the act.

Guess that's why I like playing chamber music so much, it's always nicer to make music in a group, listening and complementing each other rather than doing an attention-grabbing solo.

I've just added a section on erik satie, he's a really weird person. it seems tt all composers, or for that matter, artists, are eccentric people (varying just by degrees). I personally know of certain artists who act unconventionally because they think tt's a prerequisite for being an artist. There are some others who carry a "artist temperament" (their fav pastime being the last minute cancellation of engagements).

It's a surprise tt these irresponsible people are not scorned for their behaviour but are sort of pushed higher up the artistic pedestal in the sense that people become more fascinated by their unconventional behaviour or are eager to anticipate what other forms of eccentricities these artists have to offer.

I think artists who attract attention by being eccentric ought to think whether their fame lies on the quality of their artistic achievement or the gossip and trivia they generate.