Singagigs

I’ve come across a few interesting job postings in the local (Singapore) arts sector recently, and have been sharing the links with friends who are looking, so I thought I’d just put together a quick list here, for ease of reference and in case it’s helpful to anyone.

All links lead to the original job postings I came across.

Asian Film Archive

  • Outreach Manager
  • Technical Officer
  • Administrative Officer

Apply by 31 July 2014 for all three positions.

City Nomads

Emily Hill Enterprise Ltd.

JUICE Magazine

Nanyang Technological University’s Creative Writing Programme

*Soon Lee (Not an arts organisation, but a rather pretty boutique.)

Time Out Singapore

Other Opportunities:

Applications to the National Arts Council’s annual Mentor Access Project, a mentorship programme for emerging writers, close on 31 July 2014, 5pm local time. It costs $500, or $350 for students / NSF / senior citizens. This is the official MAP Facebook page (IMHO, this page is sorely lacking in information and updates).

Apply to the Southeast Asian Film Lab 2014, a writing workshop for Southeast Asian screenwriters / writers / directors. It will run from 8-14 December 2014 and accommodation costs will be covered. Apply by 15 September 2014, 6pm local time.

The National Library Board is accepting applications for its Lee Kong Chian Research Fellowship. Apply by 25 July 2014.

The Independent Archive and Resource Centre seeks volunteers to assist with cataloguing and organisation efforts.

I have no personal connection to any of the above organisations, am just passing on the info. Perhaps I’ll do more such round-ups if people find them useful!

On the Ms. Marvel Covers

So I was just rereading Ms. Marvel #4, and it struck me that there’s been some interesting progression with the main (by which I mean non-variant) covers over the course of the first four issues. I’ve been really into the Ms. Marvel costume from the start—I don’t refer to my Jamie McKelvie Costume Design Shrine lightly—but four issues in, I feel fairly confident in saying that I really dig the cover art so far for this series.

What I really like is how, with each cover, they’ve been revealing not just the details of the Ms. Marvel costume, but also conveying Kamala Khan’s development, her transformation, as she grows into this newfound aspect of her identity:

Ms. Marvel #1 by Sara Pichelli

Ms. Marvel #1
Art by Sara Pichelli

The much-anticipated premiere issue’s cover is a cleverly inclusive one: not even the heroine’s whole face is revealed, which is why #iammsmarvel! And so are you! From what we can see, Kamala Khan is just like any other teenage girl: school books in one hand, stacks of rings and bracelets on her fingers and wrist, low-slung jeans held up by a chunky belt (the latter can be seen here but is obscured by the red strip on the final cover). Over at the official Ms. Marvel tumblr, series editor Sana Amanat has written how particular elements on the cover pay subtle homage to Kamala’s culture and faith. This is achieved without drawing too much attention to itself.

And finally, when you start reading the comic you see how beautifully expressive—by turns lively, petulant, determined, annoyed—Kamala’s eyes (kudos to Adrian Alphona) are, and for me this makes the decision to not show her eyes on the first cover all the more impactful.

Issues #2-5 behind the cut; only very very minor spoilers for the series!

(more…)

Review: “More Baths Less Talking”

MoreBathsLessTalking_hi.resBrowsing for books at the library before my recent holiday, I chanced upon Nick Hornby’s More Baths Less Talking, the fourth collection of his “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns in Believer magazine. Hornby has long been one of my favourite writers, though of late I’ve been meaning to reread his novels—High Fidelity in particular—paying more attention to his protagonists’ attitudes towards women (I reckon I might find the dudes a bit laddish, but will hopefully still love the book). Perhaps we have similar pop culture sensibilities, is all, but I really do like Hornby’s nonfiction for he writes in an easygoing, just slightly self-deprecating voice that both entertains and informs, rather than intimidates. When he recommends a song or a book it feels like when a friend casually tells you, over coffee or a beer, to check out a band or a writer they’re into, rather than the overlords at, say, Pitchfork guarding the gates to the Good Taste Club and testing you with secret lyrical handshakes before you can get in. In other words, Hornby comes across as one of those people who’s actually enthusiastic about things they like.

I very much enjoyed reading More Baths Less Talking. Hornby does read widely—both fiction and nonfiction—though I should perhaps note that the vast majority of the titles are by Western authors, or about Western topics (Austerity Britain, 1945-51The Lodger Shakespeare, Lucille Ball…), or set in the Western context. I try, myself, to strike a balance between reading books that are Western and not, but here I don’t especially take issue with Hornby for his selections because the books he does write about sound, for the most part, very interesting themselves, and, I suppose, I empathise with the (pleasurable, if dizzying) dilemma of there being so many wonderful books in the world and not enough time to read and appreciate them all.

The essays in this collection are published over the period May 2010 to November / December 2011. This was also the time period when I first started to pay more regular attention to the publishing industry, to creative writing outlets and to reviews of new releases, thanks to renewed authorly aspirations which were shaped by the writing courses I took with classmates and instructors largely espousing a certain fashionable contemporary literary fiction sensibility—Jonathan Lethem, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Safran Foer, Mary Gaitskill, Lorrie Moore, etc. So it was interesting to read Hornby’s thoughts on works that, if I have already read them, I’d approached with certain expectations in mind, and if I hadn’t, which I fully do mean to read, such as Eleanor Henderson’s Ten Thousand Saints, Colum McCann, Colm Tóibín’s acclaimed Brooklyn, Meg Wolitzer, even John Green.

To the extent that Hornby’s essays are meant to add to bookworms’ already-towering to-read lists, well, he’s certainly achieved his goal. To even my own surprise, I’m now keen to read an extended essay on Celine Dion, a hefty biography of Charles Dickens, and a book (ostensibly) about fishing in Sweden. The last of these I actually did see in an airport bookshop—in Stockholm, I think—on the aforementioned holiday, but English-language books were awfully pricey there and I opted to wait. Still, I hope to write about it next month!

“After all, there is a rough-and-ready agreement on literary competence, on who can string a sentence together and who can’t, that complicates any wholesale rejection of critical values in literature. In popular music, though, a whole different set of judgments is at play. We forgive people who can’t sing or construct a song or play their instruments, as long as they are cool, or subversive, or deviant; we do not dismiss Dion because she’s incompetent. Indeed, her competence may well be a problem, because it means she excludes nobody, apart from us, and those who invest heavily in cultural capital don’t like art that can’t exclude: it’s confusing.”

If this sounds like the kind of book you might enjoy,  I also recommend Hornby’s 31 Songs (published as Songbook in the US), his collection of 31 essays on songs that are meaningful to him. There, too, he demonstrates his love of pop culture and his knack for engaging the reader’s attention and, often, sympathy while relating humorous, heartfelt anecdotes from his own life, and the soundtrack that accompanied them.

(Book cover image from here)

“The Sisters of Sexual Treasure” by Sharon Olds

As soon as my sister and I got out of our
mother’s house, all we wanted to
do was fuck, obliterate
her tiny sparrow body and narrow
grasshopper legs. The men’s bodies
were like our father’s body! The massive
hocks, flanks, thighs, elegant
knees, long tapered calves–
we could have him there, the steep forbidden
buttocks, backs of the knees, the cock
in our mouth, ah the cock in our mouth.
Like explorers who
discover a lost city, we went
nuts with joy, undressed the men
slowly and carefully, as if
uncovering buried artifacts that
proved our theory of the lost culture:
that if Mother said it wasn’t there,
it was there.

Mean Girls

IMG_9594

Mean Girls turns ten today, it seems! In honour of the occasion, I indulged in some nostalgia by rereading an essay I wrote about the film (comparing it with Heathers) for a university course on narrative and ideology.

Mean Girls ends with Cady attending Spring Fling after leading North Shore’s “Mathletes” team to victory at the state championships; she is even endorsed by the school population as Spring Fling queen. This film thus offers the agent of change the opportunity for continued participation in the system whose social structures she has successfully modified; its message as conveyed through Cady’s mentor-figure and “Mathletes” coach Ms. Norbury is that “you don’t have to punish yourself forever”. Cady is allowed a happy ending; as an individual she is able, much like Damian, to succeed across lines of social division. She can be a champion “Mathlete”, hold the coveted position of “future co-chair of the Student Activities Board” and enter into a relationship with the boy she formerly deceived. Similarly, each member of the dismantled “Plastics” clique is able to productively channel her individual talents into different activities: Regina learns to “channel all her rage into sport”, Karen uses her “special talents” to do morning weather announcements and Gretchen joins a new clique. It is thus that Mean Girls celebrates individualism; when managed, it can contribute to a harmonious and successful whole.

[At the end of the movie,] Cady Heron is shown sitting with friends on her school’s front lawn, watching as three “junior Plastics” strut by. The threat of a return to the old order still looms its head, but this time, Cady Heron knows “how to take care of it.”