Thursday, May 28, 2009

Small Magazine

Small, a beautifully designed online magazine about everything - fashions, graphics, books, playthings - for children.  I especially love the photographs by Steve Visneau and Grant Cornett.  The moods are so soothingly nice.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Walking Bird Press

Here is a great collection of books by Tara Bryan's Walking Bird Press in Newfoundland, Canada. Beautifully illustrated and artfully designed, Tara’s work will be fun to look at.

My favorites : My Three Dogs  &  Good Against The Nightmare

26 leaves, letterpress printed both sides in 14 colours, various type faces. Concertina folded with gold-stamped cloth covers in a black Arches Cover slipcase with ribbon pull. Edition 50.

A set of three Concertina folded books in a Japanese-style wrapper. Webbing closure with 3 dog tags on ring.  Edition 15.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book Sort

How I wish I could visit this current exhibition (1- 30 May 2009) of 25 large photographs by Teresa Rae, a Wenatchee artist, at North Bank Artists Gallery in Vancouver.   As part of her “Parts of a Woman” art documentary project, “Book Sort” represents one portion of the artist’s process to rebuild her identity through unpacking and re-shelving her library after a move.

Artist statement :

Everyone has their own way of finding answers. I had to rebuild my world through sorting and solitude. Book Sort documents four days of living with my books as they transitioned from storage to shelves in my home. Because these books have contributed so much to my identity, I needed to re-bond with them en masse and give myself a sacred time and place to rediscover them individually, in order to decide which ones would remain with me. As an artist, I gave myself permission to step away from conventional methods and experience this transition in my own personal way, without judgment or parameters. I let the project evolve according to its own needs. The camera allows me to be "in the moment" and build my own context. The quietness of the barn, an hour from town--on the hillside by the river, the closeness to nature, time to think and be, personal time with idea people and their books--gave me room to grow and become myself. I am building my life by my choices.

Rae’s personal story of spending time at a historic barn along the Columbia River sorting, learning and writing, including photos from “Book Sort,” will be published in her upcoming book, “A Celibate Year.”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Funny Stuff

I had received a computer-generated letter from our beloved National Library Board (NLB) 2 days ago stating that my 10 years old son has 2 overdue books.  The titles are Office 2007 Visual Quick Tips and $700 Billion Bailout : The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act ..... , and borrowed from Geylang East Public Library - a branch which is unknown to him, let alone borrowing book.  I though it was a mistake and just put it aside.

Only then I casually brought it up to him, and you know what, he did actually borrow these 2 books, together with another unthinkable title Technopreneurship: The Successful Entrepreneur in the New Economy.  "Oh! My god!  What on earth is going on in your mind ?" I asked.  "Why do you borrow such books ?" "The books are for you, mama."  Ouch, isn't it sweet ?  I feel incredibly heartwarming, even though 1) he had forgotten to tell me earlier, 2) I don't have the chance to read them, and 3) I am not going to read them, anyway.

They were borrowed at the book fair organized by NLB at his primary school last month.  The only question left is why the whoever-in-charge brought these obviously unsuitable books there.  How in the world do you expect primary school students to understand such profound subjects ? Office 2007, may be.  But definitely not the others.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Many Socks Make a Pair?

During the train ride this morning, I saw a bespectacled young chap reading a hardback with gleaming green cover quite a distance away.  At first glance, I was startled by the title How Many Books Make a Pair ?, and wondering what kind of book is that.  After searching in, I realized that I had made a funny mistake.  The book is How Many Socks Make A Pair ?.

Apparently, this is an interesting book about the fascinating world of everyday maths for ordinary folks like us.  The writer, Rob Eastaway, explains maths in terms of missing socks, card tricks, birthdays, games involving cutting up envelopes, flipping a coin, sudoku puzzles, etc etc.

As the product description puts it : Do you gaze into your washing basket and wonder how long it'll take to find a pair of socks? Behind this question is a world of maths that can be creative, surprising and sometimes even beautiful. Using playing cards, a newspaper, the back of an envelope, a Sudoku, some pennies and of course a pair of socks, Rob Eastaway shows how maths can demonstrate its secret beauties in even the most mundane of everyday objects.

Sounds good.  I should get a copy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Library Themed Wedding

If you happen to be a librarian and are getting married, and don't want the typical wedding,  you may want to get some ideas from then a library assistant Diana Vizcarra, who got married to writer and librarian Scott Douglas in March last year.  From the invites to the table settings, their book love simply paved the way to what had to be an event to remember.  You can see the pictures of the event here.

I like the invitation cards, in thick stock, and were printed by the couple themselves from their printer.  Very original, very old-school.

Lauren Nassef

BBIC Press, an Indie publication newly setup by Book By Its Cover, will be publishing monographs of artists, starting with Lauren Nassef, a freelance illustator living in Chicago.  It will be small (6.5×9) book of approximately 100 of her drawings.  Nassef's works are amazing, and I just can't wait to see them in print.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Henny Penny ?

I came across these words which I didn't know the meaning from the popular tv series CSI Miami last week.

Henny Penny is a character in a classic children's story. She is a chicken who, when an acorn falls on her head, believes that the sky is falling and spreads alarm all through the barnyard. This reminds me of the anime
Chicken Little.

When someone is referred to as a Henny Penny, it usually means someone who is an alarmist, or someone who reacts to a situation without knowing all the details.

Now then I know. Sounds like hyper Gan Jiong Spider or Kan Cheong Spider (a Singaporean colloquialism) - a term used to describe people who have no patience, really anxious and eager to get work done, with a mix of Kiasunism (literally means afraid of losing in Hokkien) and chaotic panic.  Similar but not the same.

Go here if you're intererested to learn more about Singlish : The Coxford Singlish Dictionary

New Books

After a sumptuous lunch with family members celebrating mother's day together last Sunday at Vivo, I headed straight to Pageone to buy some books as gifts to myself (pity me).  These are my finds :

13 Books: (Notes on the design, construction & marketing of my last . . .) by Leonard Koren. The author looks at the book-making process behind each of his 13 creations - 12 books and 1 magazine. Illustrator Gary Panter, well-known for his punk cartoon character Jimbo had been commissioned to create 3 elements - a cover, a spread, and a page detail - for each of the 13 books.

Drawing In The Kitchen by ATA.  The book is filled with bold sketches of strange characters, people that make nonsense jokes and other odd things.

How to Really Talk About Books You Haven't Read (Hardcover) by Henry Hitchings.  I've learnt quite a while ago that the book is filled with a lot of titbits on acclaimed authors like Austen, Virgil, Homer, Joyce, Dante, Shakespeare,  Proust, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, James, Cervantes, Murasaki, Aesop, Chaucer, etc. and their works,, with the intention to provide the reader knowing these things with the 'necessary information' to impress (or bluff) others about books that the reader hasn't read ..... as yet or never.  Useful!

Milo Dinasour

Milo Dinosaur is the IN thing right now.  It is a cup of milo with extra spoonful of Milo powder on top of the already mixed drink.  You can either scoop it directly into your mouth, or stir lightly to let it clump together a bit as it makes contact with the fluids before eating it.  Em .... nice !

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Picks of The Month

Thanks to Nicholas Basbanes' intro on Rare Books Blog, these two recent releases immediately caught my eyes and will definitely buy. 

One is First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process, by Robert D. Richardson; University of Iowa Press, 112 pages.  I have no intention to become a writer, for god's sake and for the sake of the human races (Haha !!!), it doesn't stop me to find out the bits and pieces of how writers actually churn out their arts.  I like the saying “talent alone cannot make a writer”.  It applies to all professions too.

The second book is Curiosities of Literature: A Feast for Book Lovers, by John Sutherland, illustrations by Mark Rowson; Skyhorse Publishing, 273 pages.  I had read his previous book on reading How to Read A Novel : A User's Guide, and I like it.  So there is no reason why I don't buy the new book.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Homosexuality and AWARE

Well, the AWARE Singapore saga -- an interesting case of old-school thinking versus new-school, has finally come to an end.  It was a heated affair and very dramatic - more drama than local tv serial. In short, very wayang.

It all started when a woman found that the sex education programs conducted by AWARE for secondary school students do not use negative words to describe homosexuality, and decided that no negative words on homosexuality means promoting homosexuality. (What a nuisance!)  Then she went on to tell her church friends that their children will grow up being homosexuals if they attend such programs.  Don't you think the reasoning is mighty outrageous ?!.  Anyway, the biggest joke is that her church friends really believe all these nonsenses.  Thus, they mounted a "holy crusade" in March to infiltrate and take over a secular NGO  -- Apparently, this bunch of narrow-minded fundies just joined AWARE, showed up in large numbers to AGM, nominated for committee positions and voted themselves in. 

Thankfully, the crusade has eventually and thoroughly failed.  Skepticism over the motives of these crusaders led hundreds of women signing up as new members of AWARE.  The ousted pro-gay leadership then launched a no-confidence vote against the new board and finally won a landslide victory. (Phew!)  The saga once again proves that though majority of people are heterosexuals, it doesn't mean that they should discriminate against gays and lesbians. Homosexuals are entitled to all the rights and respects as human beings too.  Their homosexual behaviors do not make them less humans, do they ?

You may want to take a peep at these crusaders' private emails about their take-over plan.

It is a pity that even though they may have lost the battle, the fundies appear to have won a moral victory. The Ministry of Education said in a statement on Wednesday it had suspended sex education programs provided by AWARE and other external vendors to government schools because parts of the curriculum did not conform to guidelines.  I find the following statement very questionable. 

"In particular, some suggested responses in the instructor guide are explicit and inappropriate, and convey messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of pre-marital sex."

What can you say ?  Yes, I do agree our DPM Teo Chee Hean's statement : "There are people in our society with different views and if ... we push them too hard, there will be a push back from the other side.  You are not going to resolve some of these differences because they are strongly held, and you risk polarizing society if you push too hard."

It takes time. Whether you like it or not, gays and lesbians exist and have always existed.  It is part of the nature.  Do you know that animals show homosexualism too ?

"Education is one of the most powerful tools for ending prejudice. Teaching in schools that homosexuality exists will help prevent prejudice. If you think it will some how ‘turn’ your children into a gay, then perhaps you need to learn more about sexual identity yourself." ~ apu @

I'm from the mainstream --  a mother with a 10 years old son. I do sometimes wonder what if one day I discover that my son leads an alternative lifestyle ?  I surely don't want the society to discriminate against him.  Of course, i am definitely against promotion of lesbian/gay mentality toward kids in primary/secondary schools as well as promotion of religious agendas.  There is a big difference between teaching TOLERANCE/ACCEPTANCE and pushing an agenda.  We should teach in a neutral way (no demonisation!), but not promoting.

Boissens' Work

Come across this stunning engraving by Cornelis Dirckszoon Boissens today.  I always wonder how much time and effort a illustrator or engraver needs to put in to produce such a detailed piece ?  It seems forever to me. (I must confess, I'm not patient enough.)

A Monster's Notes

I was first attracted by the book cover design by Peter Mendelsund. The author is Laurie Sheck, and the title will be released on June 23, 2009.

"What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein’s monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother’s grave, and he came to her unbidden? What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need? What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century?"  
~ product description

This bold, genre-defying book suggests that Mary Shelley didn't invent the monster, but meets him when she's a young girl and after he's been abandoned by Victor Frankenstein ; this is the monster's account of his and Shelley's lives.

You will see Mary Shelley’s life from her childhood through her elopement with the married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley at 16, her writing of Frankenstein, the births and deaths of her children, Shelley’s famous drowning at 29, her widowhood, her subsequent travels and life’s work, and finally her death from a brain tumor at 54. 

The book can be pre-ordered from  You may be interested to read the other book The Monsters : Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein which also tells the riveting story of Mary Shelley, the famous English poet Lord Byron,  Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary's stepsister Claire Claremont and Byron's physician, John William Polidori who wrote the first Vampire novel.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sex Instruction Book for Toddlers

Happen to find out that there is such a controversial book, titled "Where Did I Really Come From?", which teaches children as young as two about lesbian mums getting pregnant using sperm donors.  According to the News, the book which includes in-depth descriptions of sexual intercourse, also features a drawing of two gay men holding a baby in a chapter about surrogacy.

In a chapter on assisted conception, the book tells children :
"Sometimes, a woman really wants to have a baby but she doesn't want to have intercourse with a man."
"Some women want to bring up a baby by themselves, or with another woman, so the baby gets two mums."

Surprisingly, the book was actually first penned in the early 1990s, but has been updated for this latest publication in Sept 2008.

In my opinion, kids can barely even speak properly at 2 years old, so how in the world do you expect children to understand words as big as "sexual intercourse"?  They are simply not old enough.  I think the suitable age for sex education is at least 6 years old or older.  For one thing, I'm not bias and got no discrimination against Gay and Lesbian couples, every individual has his/her own right to choose his/her sexual partner.  The only thing that is different here is that the kids have two dads or two moms, and that's all.  It's not like 'homosexual" people are freaking aliens.  (Oh! I don't think kids at 2 years old understand what is the word "homosexual" stands for.)  At least, they are not harmful.  They don't kill, do they ?  But one thing to be sure, children who are growing up in so-called "strange" environment like that, more or less, they will suffer humiliation and school bullying, making them even more unbalanced.  The majority of people (heterosexuals?!) still don't believe in gay marriage.

The author, Narelle Wickham, says the book is only trying to normalise to children that there are many ways to conceive a child. At first glance of the book cover, I would say the illustration is kind of cute and innocent.

I recall asking my 10 years old son few days ago while watching the tv series Casino :
Does he know the difference between "I want to sign your ball" and "I want you to sign my ball", when a female fan asking her basketball idol (a guy, of course) with a basketball in her hands.
He just smiled shyly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Light & Shadow

I've recently came across these nice Greenpeace ads at adsoftheworld. The advertising agency is TBWA/Vietnam. The concept looks familiar, I've a strong impression that I had saw something mighty similar a while ago but dunno where.  After much "googling", I finally found Japanese artist Kumi Yamashita's works.

She is good at placing objects (eg. wood blocks) of various sizes and widths on the wall,  lit them from an angle, and casts a silhouette of a man or woman.  Some eye-catching installations are achieved by a mere thin metal object with her clever use of light and shadow.

Greenpeace Ads

For the ads, the execution is nice, but you can still see the telltale sign of "mistakes" in digital retouching :
  • around the head and feet's areas of 1st ad "greenpeaceremotes", the angles of shadow on both ends don't look right (very forced)
  • the casted hand of 2nd ad "greenpeacejunkmail" doesn't look that natural either 
  • 3rd ad "greenpeacebulbs" is my favourite.  My only comment is to add another 1 or 2 bulbs for the shadow of his left foot.

Kumi Yamashita's works