As I am now serving a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have left this blog under the stewardship of a family member, who may post updates on how I'm doing as he/she sees fit.
Enjoy your stay!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Mom's been back into writing again after decades since taking a writing class, and she's been turning to us, her sons, for opinions. Obviously, as the oldest child in the house and with fairly decent narrative writing skills myself (which I admit I do not display very well on this Blog), I get to draw first blood. Her latest (I read it just minutes ago) was very interesting. The topic was very dark, and not something people would like to think about, and yet, as I read the short excerpt, the whole thing felt very funny. Until the topic was revealed at the end, of course. Totally threw me off. Nice one, Mom.
I spent a considerable amount of time after Church playing some hymns on the piano at Church today. It's a Yamaha with a very nice touch. I sure wish my piano was like that. Anyway, the three Seow daughters, borderline hyperactive children, were running around, and the youngest, Renee, decided that instead of running around with her older sisters and interrupting my playing by banging random keys, she would sing and learn a bit of the piano herself. So I sat there and gave a crash course on how to play the middle C. To a 2 year old. After a while she decided to sing, and started reciting lines from a myriad of both Church hymns and Primary Songs. Even a mandarin one, which I had to seek out so that I could play them for her to sing to. She has a surprising liking for Hymn Number 27 (she actually remembers the number too) "Praise to the Man." Thanks to the coincidence that it is in C Major, I let her play the middle C over and over while I played the rest of the hymn.
Interestingly, despite her Mom telling me once that Renee was the naughtiest of the lot, every time I help take care of her she's the one not running around and screaming. There was one time I was entertaining them in the Nursery room, and instead of grabbing all the toys or running around yelling with her two slightly older sisters, she took a book and tried to read in mandarin. Watching the other two from the corner of my eye, I sat next to her and read the chinese names of the pictures of various animals in the book, and was stunned by her impressive bilingual vocabulary. At her age, I doubt I knew that many English translations to Mandarin. I'm still struggling now hehe.
I think that in terms of dealing with little children, I am most comfortable with two year olds. Too young and all they'll do is smile or cry at you. And speaking intelligently with the child is not going to get you anywhere (at least, as far as immediate consequences go). Too old, and they're mostly caught up with creating trouble for you. At two, most begin to grasp the language their parents speak, which make speaking properly to them important (all that 'goo goo gah gah' that works on infants will not help children at this age build their vocabulary). Which suits me. I prefer to talk to everyone as intellectual beings, even to my dear dog Simba (and my has he displayed an impressive capacity to understand English). Dad told me that he used to speak to 姐姐 as if speaking to another adult when she was a young child, and look at her grasp of the language now.
Bah. All this talk about bringing up intelligent kids. My original intention of this post was to put a reminder to self that I should have a piano in my home when I raise a family. Because I had a near taste of what it would be like to spend quality time with a child at the piano today.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I wonder if I should take 'A' Level Music... because I would miss all that learning too.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Did not have to go to school today, so I had a nice long sleep XD It was straight to the piano for me almost immediately after waking up. I had my final piano lesson yesterday, and a lot of things needed fixing.
The exam was at MGS, so I met Ying Er who wished me luck. My Music Teacher Mrs Ong actually called right before my exam just to tell me not to panic haha.
As for how the exam went, I can only sigh.
First piece... Domenico Scarlatti's Sonata in E, K. 46. My choice of tempo was a bit off from the usual. Obviously since I was nervous. And the trills..... sucked. It just went horribly wrong. Missed many notes here and there. But my friends who happened to hear me said it sounded okay overall. Oh well. Most important was that I brought out the music. I just wonder how I fared.
Second piece... Martinu's The Puppets' Dance, No. 5 from Puppets, Book 1. I was quite happy with the beginning of the piece. I remember stumbling here and there, but overall I think it was quite well done for my own standards.
Third piece... Claude Debussy's Petitie Suite, a piano duet which I played with the help of Benji. Somehow, my mind was suddenly cleared of thoughts of doom and a certain someone, and I started playing music. Like really playing music. Despite Ben and I messing up in the middle of the First Movement (and recovering fast I must add), we were quite pleased with what we accomplished, because it sounded like our most expressive performance ever. The mood was so good that we pulled off a nice ritardando at the end of the Third Movement, something we never tried before =P
This means that there is no more need to practice the piano each day, and sadly, no more piano lessons from my awesome piano teacher 林老师.
I've learnt a lot about playing the piano since starting lessons with her, more than when I was in KL. Now that I've finally taken the exam, it's time to focus on other subjects. Or other aspects of Music, such as *cough* Haydn.......
Sunday, September 21, 2008
As my previous post suggests, I was rather (if not extremely) stressed out over something I was working on yesterday.
Mom advised me to relax, because if you're stressed, it shows in your work.
Of course, for someone like me, that made a lot of sense. But actually seeing that take place, by my own hand, is something to remember.
"What do you think, Mom?" (After spending at least half an hour stressing out over how to colour the background, and going on with the final decision very nervously)
"You're worried about the background"
(Later messages Marion saying "The background is a disaster!")
Several hours later, it was time for the other side of the bookmark to have its background coloured
"Actually ah, Mom, I think I shouldn't have coloured the background for the other side"
"But since I already did... oh well.... I guess I'll just colour this side too."
(finishes colouring the background for the other side)
"Ei, it actually looks better leh."
"Because you're not stressed anymore =) "
" 8-O Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!"
Well, what can you expect? I haven't spent that much effort into a birthday present for quite a while. I guess I don't work very well under pressure haha.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I haven't done this for too long. The last time was.... hmmm last year's Valentine's Day. Hope I don't kill myself while striving for perfection XD
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
My Symphony No. 104 full score is full of post-its and pencil scribblings now that I've finally begun to seriously study the First Movement. And man is it work. Irfan, Daryl and Gabriel actually stayed back until 10pm last night for Music. I left at 4:30 to help the Missionaries out =P
Today we did practice papers, and then seriously studied Haydn's Symphony 104. Tomorrow, we'll be going through Japanese Noh and Kabuki, as well as African Music. Sigh. I'm supposed to be at the Clementi Ward free tutoring at four. Gaah. Sacrifice is giving up one good thing for another, as they say. Not sure which is better yet.
And I'm still trying to find time to squeeze in that drawing!
Incidentally, I have begun to develop a taste for Mack Wilberg's work. He is the Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and I find his arrangements/compositions rather distinct, and very likeable. A particular Requiem he composed (text by David Warner), O Light Of Life, is so powerful and moving, that I think on the day Simba moves on to an even better place, I will put it up. I still can't figure out the lyrics (sadly, their diction is not the best I've heard, probably due to their large numbers), but I think the title is fitting of Simba, the only dog who has been ocassionally been able to wrench my heart strings back from the clutches of............
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
To celebrate this occassion, I shall proceed by sharing (having anticipated this since the middle of this year) the Origin of School Blues! As well as a bit of how it started off. Enjoy =)
The predecessor of School Blues was a weekly comic depicting life in J1B (my class in my first year of Secondary School back in Tsun Jin High School). Each term, we students were given a seating arrangement decided by the teacher. Hence, the tables we got were, in a way, our own. Eventually, it was suggested that we wrap our tables with the sort of present wrappers, followed by a layer of plastic sheet on top. This would protect the surface of the table, but what made it exciting was that between the plastic sheet and the present wrapper - we could slot in between whatever we wanted, such as our class timetable, for example. Being the way I was, I was determined to put drawings.
Each week or two, I drew an A5 sized short comic capturing life in J1B, in Chinese since I was in a Chinese school. Naturally, this attracted attention and encouraged me to continue drawing.
Over time, I began to have an interest in the daily comic strips featured in the newspaper. Calvin & Hobbes, Zits, Bizarro, Peanuts, Garfield and other well-known comic strips caught my attention. Their ability to create a unique world of their own in which their characters went about their daily lives, never ceasing to amuse us readers, intrigued me. And so began the conception of School Blues.
I decided to try turning my somewhat bi-weekly comic into a comic strip that featured regular characters. The first strip was completed on the 16th of September, 2003. It featured three characters, of which only two have survived until today – Han, Sam, and a character modeled after my good friend and classmate Chern Hui. It served as an important introduction on who Sam is – Han’s conscience. As a side note, the reason why I named the main character after myself was because I could not find a name I liked enough to be the name of the main character (the name Sam which I liked a lot was used for the main character’s conscience). Of course, this led to much speculation about how real were the happenings in School Blues. No matter. Being shrouded in mystery is a rather entertaining situation.
The first School Blues strip. Ever. Almost everything about the way I drew has changed. Except that I still use my left hand. One can easily spot the huge differences just by comparing this strip with any of my recent drawings, such as the teachers’ day ones. Sadly, I seem to have lost the pre-School Blues comics. I kept them nicely filed back in KL, but seem to have lost the file since moving to Singapore. Oh well.
As for what happened to the third person in the first strip, that will be revealed when I post on the Characters of School Blues, perhaps during next year’s anniversary =P
Anyway, I first thought that it would be nice to put up a strip each day or week on the refrigerator at home. Holding it up with a magnet for family members to read and enjoy. I even created an advertisement on the fridge announcing the words “SCHOOL BLUES – coming to a refrigerator near you.” Yes, I was that excited about my own comic strip.
On the 16th of September alone, I had completed 4 strips, and continued to churn out many strips within the next few weeks.
One of the things that took me a while to decide on at that time, apart from naming the main character, was naming the strip itself. Since I decided that the comic strip would depict Secondary School life, I named it “School Blues.” It was a desperate attempt at rhyming, the justification being that ‘school’ and ‘blues’ have the ‘oo’ sound in them. Unfortunately, I cannot escape the fact that many other comic strips have ‘Blues’ in their titles as well, such as the well-known Baby Blues which I hardly read back then. There was even a Malaysian comic named ‘Blues’ which was in Malay. Speculations were of course, made about whether I looked up to those comic strips. The answer was “I don’t even read them,” and was quite annoyed when people referred to my comic strip as ‘Blues’ instead of ‘School Blues.’ Nevertheless, I still intend to make School Blues a name that will be mentioned with awe.
Another thing that soaked up some time was designing the School Blues logo. ‘SCHOOL’ was written in thick, block letters, while ‘Blues’ was written in a more stylistic manner, which was, in my opinion at that time, more Blues-ish. This can be seen in the first strip, of course. Over time, even though my grasp of the pen became steadier and the logo became neater, I decided to make a few changes. I decided to adopt the clumsy style of text for the words “SCHOOL,” turning it into “ScHoOL,” instead. Although I hate it when people tYpE lyKe dAt, it is different when you draw it out such that it is much more visually comprehensible. The new logo made its first appearance on strip number 60 on the 29th of June, 2004.
The first time the new School Blues logo appeared.
The format of each strip also took a while to decide. School Blues started off with five boxes per strip, followed by the School Blues logo. By 2006 however, I had given in to the observation that most other comic strips usually had four boxes in the strip, and made the changes, including altering the dimensions of each box to be vertically rectangular and not squared. This major change took place to kick off the start of the 2nd School Blues Album – School Blues: Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Been.
Obviously, deciding on the characters took a considerable amount of time as well. During the End-of-Year holidays that year, I did some part time work at Dad’s office, being put under my older sister Faye’s charge (she was working there too). Hence 姐姐 played an important role in my transition from Primary School Kid to Secondary School Boy. She was the one who drove me to work each morning (and to school as well at one point in time) and gave me a lot of suggestions for School Blues. Hence, Sis became the 4th permanent character in the strip to appear, and plays the role of Han’s older Sister who has to work and take care of him since their parents don’t seem to be around much (which was half-true in reality at that time – Dad happened to be overseas a lot while Mom just started working at an Architect firm, but I saw them enough to have good ties). Thus, Sis plays the “parent” role in the strip, with interesting possibilities since she is a sibling, such as the ability (or in-born right) for her and Han to bully each other.
Blitz started off as a half-bully half-friend, the 3rd permanent character to appear in the strip. I didn’t need much debate to decide to add him in. A semi-antagonist would keep things interesting in the strip, and there were actual people I knew at that time who had a bad-boy attitude but I could still be friends with.
Korie was a much thought about addition to the strip, as well as a heavily speculated character. A Secondary School life without a Secondary School Crush isn’t very convincing, and there was someone who had caught my attention, but Korie’s full story, along with that of the other characters, will have to wait till a later time to be revealed.
PJ was added the same time as Korie, although I could not really find a personality to fit him at that time. The nice-guy personality was taken by Sam, while the bad-boy personality was taken by Blitz. Initially, he and Han’s relationship was to be him always teasing Han, but that was a role better suited for Blitz. Despite the redundant position he had at that time, I kept him in the strip. Of course, he stopped appearing in the strip for quite some time, returning after about a year when Emily was introduced. He came back with new role as a good student with good social skills, much like Poh Yi, the person PJ was modeled after. There’s a lot more to him than has appeared in the strip so far.
Emily’s purpose was more to balance off the number of female characters against the male characters, although her true reason for creation at that time is a bit embarrassing. Although her personality is still not fully defined since she was created, I persevered, keeping her in the strip with a few minor roles, I am beginning to like her character and intend create another story involving her (the first and biggest one being Blitz making his feelings for her known).
Grace the dog was a must-add. The dogs in my life have had too much of an influence on me for me to not include a dog character.
Much more will be revealed about each character in future. All it takes is time.
I wish to express many many thanks to everyone who have been loyal fans of the comic strip. It’s very very very encouraging and satisfying to see someone enjoy a particular strip. Nothing motivates me to draw more than knowing that there are people out there waiting to read the fruit of my labour. Stay tuned!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Speaking of which, I was reminded the other day why I was once the Top Student in the first place (not that I mean to boast)
During our Physical Geography paper, we came across a question that sparked a lot of discussion. Something to do with Tropical Equatorial Forests. After discussing the question after the paper, I found that my answer was vastly different from everyone else, and panicked. I surely messed up that question.
I got back the paper, and found out that I scored full marks for that question. I was the few who could get the question right, and that's why my answer was vastly different from everyone else -.-
All that panicking and worrying over that single question. Jon probably remembers that day.
I only got a B3 overall for Geography though. Horrible plunge from my usual A1. That will teach me to spend time with my sisters during the exam period hahaha. I deserve the grade as well as a smack in the face for complaining about getting a B3 despite having B3's as my lowest grades. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever gotten even a B4 for any exam since I came to Singapore. Yes, I do deserve a couple of smacks.
I probably deserve yet another smack for my intention of creating a birthday present. Whether she likes it or not, I will still be stressing myself out over it, and most likely I shouldn't have to. But oh well. Hehe.
Stake Youth Dance this Friday!!!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Anyway, thoughts are racing across my mind all too rapidly tonight. Dad came down from KL for something to do with his work, and updated me on Malaysia's political scene. Apparently a politician I feel no need to name made a rather racist remark about us Chinese, calling us foreign immigrants, and the opposition parties (he's from UMNO) have lodged police reports and are shooting him down for it. Funnily enough, here I am as a foreign immigrant in Singapore. It seems I am a "true" Chinese Malaysian. Other things fill my mind too, but I've decided to destress a bit with this Questionaire Viv did recently. I fully agree with her that doing these questionaires certainly help you realize a few things about yourself. Oh, and they are kind of fun too anyway.
4. Ever hated someone so bad?
Ugh. I'm really trying not to, but he gives me every reason to... aaaaargh!
5. The happiest yet most hurtful thing that ever happened to you?
Getting a dog I love and having to face the day of its passing on.
6. The last person you said i love you to?
Mom. She went out while I was washing dishes.
7. The last person you went to the movies with?
The whole school! Haha. We booked 2 theatres at the Lido to celebrate Teachers' Day.
8. The last person you talked on the cell phone with?
Ben. To arrange our duet practice on Sunday =)
9. The last person you hugged?
For a true, sincere hug, Mom, of course. Always before I leave the house. But most recently, I gay-ed Firdaus XD
10. Who was the last person you talked to last night?
Can't remember which one of my brothers. It was bedtime.
1. In the last week have you kissed someone?
I can't even remember the last time I kissed.
2. Danced crazy?
Haha. Ask anyone whos has been to Stake Youth Dances.
3. Think of the last time you were angry, why were you angry?
Angry at myself for messing up Social Studies and not getting an A for Combined Humanities despite doing very well for History (I know I deserve a smack in the face for this)
4. If you could do anything or wish anything, what would it be?
Wish for a happily ever after.
5. If you could have an all expense paid trip, where will you go?
Somewhere with people I love to enjoy Nature.
6. Would you or have you ever blackmailed someone?
I mailed letters written in black ink before.
7. Are you old fashioned?
Haha. Take a look at my hair. Consider my taste in Music. Decide for yourself.
8. What would be harder for you, to lie to someone you love a normal amount or lie to someone you love deeply?
Obviously to someone I love deeply. Lies have hurt myself and people I love deeply enough for me to never want to hurt another.
9. What things would be the hardest thing for you to give up on?
Falling for girls at the worst of times is not somethig I can "give up" per se, but it never fails -.-
10. Five facts About Me:
Created School Blues
Always seem to need to get someone out of my head
1. Four songs/musical pieces in my head now :
Whatever's playing on Symphony 92.4
Clair De Lune - Claude Debussy
Pavane - Gabriel Faure
"Will the World remember you when you fall" - a specific line from Drink With Me, a song from the Musical Les Miserables
2. Five of your favourite tv shows :
Morning news on Mobile TV
Just In Singapore
National Geography Specials
3.. Four Things I treasure in My Life now:
My drawing Pens =)
Every single Talent I've been gifted with
4. Four things you do not treasure in your life now:
4. Four "First Time" in My Life:
What kind of question is this? I don't even know how I'm supposed to answer. Okay, this is the first time I've come across such a poorly phrased "question," the first time I'm not rephrasing it (I corrected the spelling of one of them earlier), the first time I'm bothering to give such a long reply to this type of question, and the first time I've had to talk so much about first times.
5. Seven words and things I always use:
My school bag
My monthly bus concession muahaha!
6. One weird thing about yourself:
I desperately try to supress feelings for particular girls, fail miserably, and end up making nice presents for them. Presents I look back at and consider them classics and wonder why I haven't made any for myself.
7. 4 friends you think of when you see this question
Charles (was talking to him earlier)
8. Who are thinking about right now?
9. Who was the last person you saw today and why?
I turned around and saw Ern
10. Where do you see yourself in 3 years time?
Serving a Mission
Anyone who feels up to it.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
The Term 3 holiday has come to a close, and boy was it full of stuff to do. Making a birthday card to sell to Douglas on Monday, playing the duet with Ben for my Piano teacher on Tuesday (and going to his house to chillax after that), studying at Jon Poh's house on Wednesday (and having a blast after that hehe), working for Sister Jean Yee on Thursday and Friday, and cooking insane amount of fried rice for the missionaries on Saturday.
Already I have stuff I want to do. Thankfully, making SS notes is one of the priorities. I will get an A for Combined Humanities even if it means slogging through SS. As for something more enjoyable, I intend to work on a birthday present. Ben already witnessed my brainstorming process. It's not going to be too fancy, but I think it'll be the project of the year =P
I'm yet to post the Teachers' Day comic I drew for my Piano teacher. She got the biggest one of all. Twice the size hehe. Having some problems transferring the scanned file. Oh well. Back to school!