Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Typographical Error

Rohaizad and I were digging through a stack of pirated CDs today and came across the soundtrack to an old Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson movie. It was called: A Sitar Is Born.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

MacRitchie Park

I go running around MacRitchie Reservoir once or twice a week, but I rarely take the time to enjoy the nature and take photos. So today I went hiking there with Armando.

From the Treetop Walk you can see quite a distance. That is the Upper Peirce Reservoir on the left. It's amazing that this park is smack-dab in the middle of Singapore, because you can't see or hear much civilization at all, even from way up high!

Clouds looming and rumbling over the jungle.

This is MacRitchie Reservoir itself: bestower of sanity. Without that reservoir and park during the last few months, I would've become a basket case.

We saw a snake, too! About a meter long. White and grey with a red stripe, if my memory serves; it slid away awfully fast.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pre-Birthday Events

My birthday celebrations began last Sunday night when Rohaizad and I went out to eat at the hawker center at East Coast Park. Here we are enjoying the sunset before enjoying some satay.

On Wednesday evening I went with Armando to the Raffles Hotel.

We did the tourist thing and went to the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling. Oh yeah.

And on my actual natal day (today), Rohaizad and I went to Sentosa.

Read more about Sentosa and our day there in the blog entry below. Thank you for your kind attention and please mind the gap.

Birthday on Sentosa

A few decades ago someone tried to make Sentosa into a resort. Sentosa is a little island just south of Singapore. Rohaizad and I went there to relax and celebrate my birthday today. While we were hiking around, we saw the remnants of someone's attempt to build Sentosa into a tourist destination.

First, a wacky bug sculpture that's been sitting in the sun for a couple of dozen years.

They only hired the best sculptor when it came to creating a giant peacock. Alas, the sculptor and the sculpture are now virtually forgotten.

An old tourist bus, sinking into the ground.

We waded through leaves up to our ankles as we trekked down this nature trail. It was littered with broken folding chairs, trash and this ancient wheelbarrow.

You can see the base of an ornate wrought-iron arch that still stands in front of the abandoned entrance to the Scented Garden.

There used to be a monorail that ran along these tracks. Now they are all overgrown by trees. The funny thing is, I remember riding on this monorail with Rohaizad when we visited Singapore ten or eleven years ago!

It is like the ruins of a once-mighty civilization, now melting in the tropic sun or being overrun by the jungle. Excellent!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Random Photo

I snapped this picture as I was walking a few days ago. I dunno, I just like it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day Trippin' on the Southern Islands

Yesterday the fates smiled upon Rohaizad and I and canceled all the plans we had for today, so we could spend the day together!

We decided to go to the southern islands of Singapore: St. John's Island and Kusu Island.

We bought some sandwiches at Marina South Pier, then boarded a ferry for the twenty minute journey.

St. John's was our first stop. Why didn't I discover this place earlier?! It is so peaceful, beautiful, shady, breezy and quiet. We were almost the only people there.

You can see Singapore in the distance.

St. John's Island also has a really nice beach. Seeing as we were in the shipping lanes and just 3 miles away from Singapore, I wouldn't trust the water for swimming, though!

Next we took the boat over to Kusu Island for some hiking, picnicking and chilling out. It seems more developed than St. John's and definitely had more people, although it was by no means crowded.

I suppose these two islands are to Singapore what Nahlap and Black Coral are to Pohnpei. Now that I know they're there and so easy to get to, I'll be back whenever I need to escape!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marina Square Food Loft

Rohaizad and I met for lunch yesterday at the Marina Square Food Loft. I love eating there because, even though it's just another food court, when you sit outside you get lovely views and breezes. It feels like you are eating in an upscale, al fresco restaurant.

While we ate, a huge thunderstorm banged through town. Above you can see The Esplanade and the skyline through a haze of clouds. Below is the Swiss Hotel (remember last Monday night I went out for drinks at the top of this hotel at the New Asia bar? Go look at the photo if you don't remember).

This giant bird snatched the chicken bones from the plate of a departed customer.

See that steeple-like building with the small dome to the right of the bird? That is a Shi'ite mosque. I think it's the only one in Singapore. They are very discreet.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In Memory...

On June 12, my friend Leah Ryan died of Leukemia. I don't know how old she was, but she was younger than me. There is a link to her blog on the left side of my blog's homepage.

Leah was a playwright who lived in New York City. She wrote the book and lyrics to the shows Just Say Blow Me and Roxi Starr in 3D for Susan Mele. I wrote the music to the songs.

The songs we wrote included: "The Ballad of Billie Sue", "Empty Pan Blues", "Mrs. Somebody", "Broken Dreams" and my favorite "One Thing". "One Thing" will be performed at my cabaret on July 27.

It amazes and saddens me that someone so brilliant can suffer so much and die so young. We are fortunate to have all the writing she left behind.

A Delicious Pretence

So ... last night was my debut at The Esplanade. Here I am walking to the venue (that's it on the right) to see my 15-minute mini-musical.

And look! A poster for my show: A Delicious Pretence! But wait, where's my name? I see all the actors, and the directors, but... oh well.

It was a terrifying evening for me. I didn't know what to expect, since I had nothing to do with the production. Talk about good friends: Rohaizad, Armando and Jean were willing to brave the great unknown with me!

I asked if I could sit in rehearsals a few weeks ago, and they said no, citing "security reasons". Huh? Am I that dangerous?

Anyways, it is so glamorous to be a composer. In addition to earning, um, no money for this show, I even had to purchase my own ticket to go see it! They promised to call me back and get me a ticket; apparently it slipped their mind.

But when I saw the program, I realized just where us writers exist on the totem pole: way at the bottom. They cut my biography paragraph into one sentence and didn't include my picture at all. The actors got huge write-ups and photos. Waa!

My show was well received. I was a bit dismayed at the changes they made to it. I mean, I didn't write a perfect show, but I wish they had consulted me about the changes they made, since my name was credited as the writer.

After the show, we went up for a drink at the New Asia bar at the top of the Swiss Hotel. Quite a view! If you see those two, white, almost-horizontal lights to the left of center, my home is right behind them.

So, overall, it was a good learning experience. I would never do it again, nor would I recommend anyone else ever submit anything to the Five Foot Broadway theater company, but I got out of it just losing the cost of a ticket and enduring a lot of stress. It could've been worse!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Go Shopping, Stupid!

We are in the midst of the GREAT SINGAPORE SALE! Everything in the entire nation has been discounted: big stores, small stores, heartlands, Orchard Road, you name it. Personally, I've been reduced by 15%.

Everywhere I look I see signs for the GREAT SINGAPORE SALE, or GSS, as it is affectionately known.

While exiting Dhoby Ghaut MRT the yesterday, I noticed the Orchard Road Presbyterian Church had a big sign saying GSS: God Saves Souls. That got me thinking of what GSS could mean to people like me who don't like to shop.

GSS makes sense when you think about the calendar imbalance caused by Christmas shopping. Without a big sale in June, the year might tip over.

So, I've been trying not to step into a mall, especially on weekends. Not going to a mall in Singapore is almost impossible. You can't swing a cat without hitting a mall over here. Maybe that's why cat swinging has been outlawed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Don't Ask the Musician!

Last week I wrote about seeing an armadillo at MacRitchie Park. Several friends were surprised about this because...

a. They are nocturnal and I saw one at 9:00am.
b. They don't live in Singapore.

Okay, okay, I've done further research and determined that what I saw was a Malayan pangolin. Excuuuuuuuse me! But it is still an uncommon thing to see, especially during the day.

Speaking of evil-looking things, I posted this picture back on May 22 because the sign says "Chepest". Ha ha.

But recently I enlarged the picture and had a close look at the bag that the woman on the right is carrying. This explains why I don't like shopping.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Delicious Pretence

For those of you following my compositional career, I have a performance coming up in one week.

On June 16 my musical A Delicious Pretence will be performed at The Esplanade:

It's being produced by Five Foot Broadway.

I don't know anything about this theater company. I gave them the script and the music and now I have nothing to do with the production. I think it's a pretty fun show, though, even though it's only 15 minutes long. Here's the ad (sorry about all the typos on my blurb, IT'S NOT MY FAULT!!!).

The show is a pretty traditional "boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl-back" story, set in Singapore. It has five songs:

2. Could This Be Love?
3. I Hope That I Didn't Keep You Waiting
4. Chendol Wendell of Sec. One
5. Maybe It's True

My friends make fun of me because they claim I'm obsessed with chendol, and now that I've written a musical in which it features so prominently, I'll never hear the end of it. For those of you who don't know what chendol is, here's a photo. It's a delicious desert.

I'm starting to drool now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Overheard on a Crowded Bus

This is the word-for-word transcript of a woman yelling into her cell phone on a very crowded bus yesterday:

"You cheated me out of my Good Friday holiday! You took our children out with your mistress! That concerns me."

I heard it myself (as did everyone within a half-mile radius)!

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Long and Short of Music

Hey look, my book got published!!!

This is a book of 28 children's songs that I've been working on for years. All the songs teach musical concepts, such as dynamics, tempo, articulation, etc. It also includes some of the teaching ideas I've used. And it comes with a CD, too! You can order it from GIA Publications in Chicago.

Now I have to worry about who to sell the movie rights to. Do you want them?