Surprising Horizons

The Joy of Travel. The Realities of New Experiences.

Yayoi Kusama Exhibition in Singapore

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I had never heard of Yayoi Kusama.

If you were to look at her artwork you would think it was the work of a ubiquitously happy hippy permanently tripping through the sixties. You would be wrong. Quite a bit wrong. But not at fault.

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You see, to experience Yayoi Kusama’s art work is to take your eyes and brain on a visual picnic in a meadow of naturalistic patterns and vibrant colours. At first, without knowing Kusama’s background, you see an optimistic contentedness with the world around her; a celebration of life and its multicoloured existence.

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To delve deeper, uncomfortably deep one might say, and you will see a newer dimension to her art. One seeped and centred around her mental illness; Kusama has suffered from intense audio-visual hallucinations since childhood. In fact, her art work can be summed up no better than from the woman herself:

My art originates from hallucinations only I can see … All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease.

With her infinity nets series composed of many miniature circles or dots (and much of her art balancing precariously on a scaffolding of dots) Kusama leaves next to nothing to the imagination. Strong (and perhaps aggressive) patterns invade everything in life; like hallucinations have invaded hers. “Polka dots symbolise disease” Kusuma has said.

I found it interesting the title of this exhibition is a little light-hearted “Life Is The Heart Of The Rainbow”, almost comes across a little dismissive of Kusama’s mental illness and the saga that resides behind her art. Perhaps that initial joy at experiencing the art is what the National Gallery wanted to remain with the viewer. You can’t fault them for taking that approach I suppose. “Art As A Result of Terrifying Hallucinations” just wouldn’t bring the families flocking.

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You leave the exhibition with an un-nerving sense of joy at the art you have witnessed but the fact that Kusama is living out the rest of her life in a psychiatric asylum (voluntarily) weighs heavy on the mind; like a net trawling through deep waters of patterns.

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Chelsea v Inter Milan in Singapore

Chelsea left Singapore with durian on their face (see what I did there?) after playing two and losing two matches at the National Stadium over the past week. On Saturday night, they ended up on the wrong side of a 2:1 scoreline and looked decidedly underwhelming in the process.

Against a pretty smooth and well oiled Inter side Chelsea, like against Bayern, looked lethargic, bereft of ideas, and lacking that killer edge in attack. Conte must have read my report on the Bayern match as they looked more like a back four this time around with Cahill and David Luiz as the central pairing. Perhaps it was 3-4-3 but with the pressure on them it certainly looked more like a traditional back 4. It looked a lot stronger but when you concede two goals and look strong; looking strong doesn’t win you matches. Yo.

I won’t go into the goals too much….okay I actually will this time as there were two major talking pints to be had after the match (you see what I did there too?). Inter’s penalty was never a penalty.  Jovetic’s first attempt was saved but then buried the rebound. Then. Then! In the second half, Chelsea were given a life line by one of the most sublime own goals from Kondogbia in the recorded history of football. An atomically accurate 40 yard chip over his own keeper into the net. Beautiful.

Inter saw it through to see the victory.

Stand out player for me was Inter’s number 20; Borja Valero. Aggressive, controlling in his passing, and his work-rate in central midfield was miles above any player in a Chelsea shirt. Again Chelsea didn’t impress me. Moses flatters to deceive, the positive press about Kante didn’t come to fruition for me over these two games. David Luiz is a nut job. Skillful? Absolutely, but he’s prone to just go insane and find himself in the opponent’s box on a whim (this happened) or launching himself into a tackle only to be flat on his ass and the ball (and opponent) merrily going along their way.

Last word on the pitch at the National Stadium. When are they going to sort this out? From day one, it has deteriorated badly when anything is being played on it. It looked terrible tonight; like a patchwork quilt sewed by a lunatic.

Here are the goals/highlights…WATCH IT FOR THE OWN GOAL!:

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Willian, Batshuayi, Morata.

Inter Milan: Padelli, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Nagatomo; Gagliardini, Borja Valero; Perisic, Brozovic, Candreva; Jovetic

Chelsea v Bayern Munich in Singapore

European soccer friendly tournaments hosted in Asia are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna git.

Thankfully for this, the first fixture of the International Champion’s Cup played at National Stadium, both teams showed up in force and with strong line-ups. Even more thankfully, the Singaporean crowd also showed up in force and with actual voices to be heard! Some passion! Having seen both the Singapore national team and international club teams play here in Singapore it’s easy to see where allegiances lie with Singaporean soccer fans. Frowny face.

Anyway both teams presented strong lineups from the kick-off.Chelsea starting XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Boga; Batshuayi. Bayern starting XI: Starke; Rafinha, Martinez, Hummels, Friedl; Sanchez, Tolisso; James, Muller, Ribery; Lewandowski

It finished Chelsea 2: 3 Bayern.

I’m not going to go through the excruciating minutiae but Bayern were up 3-0 by the twenty sixth minute and were well worth the lead. They were industrious, hard-working, fluid; probing and testing Chelsea’s very under-whelming back three. Chelsea were second to the ball and constantly on the back foot. I’ve heard a lot about Kante’ work rate but Bayern’s number 35 Renato Sanches absolutely ran the midfield. For both teams. He was everywhere and made Kante look like Ali Dia.

I was looking at Bayern admiringly. They are not a flair team on this display but their clinical passing and movement were top class. Ribery is a player where if flair is called for he will do it; if not he will do his job and do it well. Other stand outs were Hummels and Lewandowski who are just good. No debates.

Chelsea? I didn’t see much to get excited about. The back three, as I’ve said were constantly being asked questions of. Attacking? Boga was anonymous and if Batsuayi hadn’t have scored in the last minute he would have been equally as camouflaged. The fact that Alonso scored the first goal for them says it all and is Morata the answer for them? Time will tell.

Let’s see how Chelsea perform on Friday against Inter. I will be there!

Here are the highlights and goals:

Playing Golf in Singapore Without a Handicap Card

Photo taken mid-swing.

Golf. The sport where you have to remember a million things before you even move your body to start your swing. Then you must do that for every hit thereafter. Or you will suck. A lot.

Singapore has a lot of courses but the majority need a handicap card. Championship Golf, though, is one course that will allow any hacker and slicer onto their premises without any proof that you can hit a golf ball with any accuracy. At $21.50 for a round of 9 after 4:30 and $45 before 4:30 it’s pretty reasonable to head there for a late tee-off. Club rental is $22 and buggy rental is $30. You can buy a bag of 12 used balls for $12.

Championship Golf is situated in a rural part of Singapore down a country road (take me home) and it has a driving range and a nice course with a couple of challenging drives off the tee to be had. Greens are in rough shape (think sandy beaches with a hole) but, hey, it ain’t St. Andrews and you aint paying crazy green fees. And, hey, they’ve allowed you on their course and you could be a club wielding maniac. There are a couple of bars there to critically analyse your game and life over a beer after you play. Will be back. Thanks for the last golf date Nathan.

UFC in Singapore June 2017

UFC Fight Night 111 happened in Singapore’s Indoor Stadium last night. I waddled through the doors at 7pm to catch the last 2 of the pre-lim fights then the four major fights on the cards.

I fell into UFC a couple of years ago and went on a rampage trying to find every episode of UFC’s main events from 1 through to the most recent ones in the 200s. I remember teeth and blood and some fat dude pummeling a small dude in UFC 1. Nasty stuff. You wouldn’t see it on the streets of Dublin of an evening. Well maybe…
Of course as an Irish person I always tune into Conor McGregor’s fights as it’s pure mayhem, entertainment, and foighting words all the way in the run up and through his fights. I also tune in for the big ones; including the Ronda Roussey v Holly Holm fight a few years ago. Which brings us to tonight….

Holm and Beth Correia were the main draw on this fight card with a couple of other “names” in there for good measure namely Rafael Dos Anjos and Andrei Arlovski. Here’s how the fights went through my noobish eyes.

Cyril Asker vs. Walt Harris
I barely had time to get annoyed by the people around me and this fight was over. Some tentative engagements then Harris got Asker on his back and started bashing his face in with a not soft flurry of elbows. The referee stepped in before Asker forgot his hotel room number.

Takanori Gomi vs. Jon Tuck
The last of the prelim matches also went by in the blink of a swollen eye in the first round. Tuck got on Gomi’s back and flipped him around, got his arm around his neck, squeezed Gomi like an orange, and Gomi tapped out. Next.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tarec Saffiedine
This one went the full three rounds and dos Anjos did just enough in a pretty tit-for-tat affair of grappling and wrestling. Nothing too exciting and I wasn’t too impressed with dos Anjos at all. I started chatting to the usher during this bout; this would re-occur during the night. He was lonely and I needed some stimuli.

Colby Covington vs. Dong Hyun Kim
This sucked. I started thinking about American politics during this. It was stagnant and lacklustre. Covington just harried and hassled Kim and Kim really didn’t do anything to counter-attack throughout. Covington won on decision. If I were Covington I wouldn’t be optimistic I could fight anyone better than Kim in the future.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcin Tybura
Arlovski is a fan favourite. Tybura didn’t care and he got the upper hand in the grappling throughout. He won by unanimous decision and it definitely showed. Arlovski knew it when it was all over and it showed on his bruised face.

Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia
What everyone was waiting for. Then everyone forgot that and started booing the very very ultra defensive and cautious approach by both fighters. There were two rounds of absolutely nothing to remember. I started chatting to my old usher friend again. I started getting more annoyed by the peopl around me. A Kiwi couple behind me got more courageous with each drink they had. “Come on Holms” was cried out from behind me throughout and in response to all the boos “Do you even know MMA brahhh!”. I could have corrected her name calling but left her to wallow in her own decaying orbit. Round three comes around and Correia thought it would be a good idea to taunt Holm to come and get it. Seconds later Holm did; by kicking Correia in the face and upper cutting her chin when she was down just to make sure she would feel more pain in the morning over pancakes and tea. It was embarrassing. It was beautiful.

And with that final kick it brought back to me why I like this sport so much and I’m hoping to keep in touch with the big events going forward.

A quick word on the Indoor Stadium; they really need to sort out toilets locations. Everyone has to gown medieval stairwells to reach them and the queues end up clogging up the stairwells…much like the toilets therein. That is all.

Singapore v Argentina Football Friendly: You Know The Result..

You better put your booties on, cuz it’s COLD (humid) OUTSIDE!!

Groundhog Day-esque is how I would describe the Singapore v Argentina soccer friendly last night. Minute after minute, it seemed the quite ordinary looking Argentina side adopted the same attacking tactics against a predictably nondescript Singapore team. More of that in a bit.

Lionel Messi was heralded as headline act in the roll up to this auspicious (and lets face it, weirdly A-List for Singapore) friendly. “Messi, Aguero and Argentina are heading to the Singapore Sports Hub” screamed FourFourTwo soccer website back in April. Confirmed – Lionel Messi and Argentina stars to play in Singapore” warbled the StraitsTimes in the same month. Confirmed turned to conned in some fans’ eyes. Around a week before kick-off it was confirmed he wouldn’t be playing due to, ahem, preparing for a wedding. Cough. Splutter. Maybe it was known before then, maybe it wasn’t. My cynical soul says a bunch of suits met and said it wouldn’t be good for business if it was announced earlier than that. And then Aguero, Higuain, and Otamendi (the next BIG names on the team) didn’t show either.

To the game! I thought I took a wrong turn at Balestier Road and ended up at Juventus Stadium when I rolled up to the National Stadium with many Singaporeans adorning the shirt of Dybala. Never heard of him…
It’s a little sad when foreign club support trumps country support but personality and fame trumps loyalty to other…things…these days. Why am I saying trump a lot…?

The game was a little lacklustre. Yeah, it ended 6-0 but in the first half the repeat ad nauseum attacking style of Argentina (spray it to flanks and look for holes) didn’t inspire me to crack open the old size 10s and try to re-create what I was seeing. Sure there was flare on show but Di Maria flattered to deceive on the right flank and made himself look decidedly average. Again. Singapore? Apart from the diminutive number 27 for Singapore, skinning an astonished Argentinian on the right flank once there was nothing to report. Here’s a sequence of attacks from the first half to the tune of Groundhog Day. Because I can.

The goals they scored in first half were all inside the box finishes after consistent and constant probing. Singapore played a rarely seen 10-0-0 formation. Argentina resorted to the even more lesser spotted 2-3-5. Lovely. Take a look at the highlights. 

The National Stadium is a decent venue for these games but the pitch, as always, looked terrible. Tiger beers at 12$ for a half-pint size? Check and checkmate.

Bite Size Review: Regent Singapore Saturday Prosecco Brunch

The all-you-can-eat buffet brunch is something every ex-pat or tourist in Singapore does at some point. It’s both a stamina test on your waist band and credit card limit but if you plan your gastronomical attack to be glutinous yet at a pace where you don’t get Caligula-ed too quickly you can get your money’s worth. There are a number of all-you-can-eat with free flow prosecco brunch options in Singapore and the Regent Singapore may not be the first on the list for many but in many ways it is a nicer experience than lets say the Fullerton brunch offering.

The Basilico restaurant in the Regent Singapore offers Italian style food during the Saturday Lunch Buffet. You can have a straight up eat-until-your breathing changes-buffet at $72 (excl. GST+service charge) or the buffet with free flow prosecco at $119 (excl. GST+service charge). We went for the latter. Then proceeded to take advantage of said latter. Here’s the photos. The food was really good; that’s all you need to know.

Waiter who was at our every beck and call to refill our Prosecco just out of shot.

Fantastic array of hot nosh.

More pictures than words for this blog post as pictures speak louder alright? I should mention that the lobby of the Regent Singapore has some cool angles if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

No Smoking $300

You know something’s wrong when Singaporeans grafitti a wall to try and resolve a problem. This wall should actually be a tourist attraction as it’s probably the only illegally grafittied wall in Singapore. And it’s been like this for months and months now. And you all thought Singapore was so clean you could eat your dinner off of it. Now you know.

So this Great Graffitied Wall of Singapore is on Sinaran Drive right beside Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The wall is, most likely, owned by 27Mr Pte Ltd. who are wayyyyy behind on building their proposed Moulmein27 apartment block in the plot of land behind the wall. The former building behind there, the Grand Tower (it wasn’t grand and wasn’t exactly towering) was demolished years ago and the plot is an empty but grassy and flowery rare bit of open space in the Novena area.

A few weeks ago the paint job was fading in the Singapore sun so somebody happily gave the lettering a second coat. That’s how long term this situation is.

New Halloween costume idea..

So what’s the issue? People are using the footpath and wall area as a place to smoke themselves stupid away from the neighbouring Tan Tock Seng Hospital. It’s annoying and passers-by have to inhale clouds of smoke they didn’t pay or wish for. People then proceed to throw butts on the ground and other remnants of their various vices. People sit under the grafitti, puffing away in a cancerous affront to the informal monetary warning. And what of TTSH? Can’t they provide their workers (and cancer patients) with an out-of-the-way smoking area far from innocent sidewalk shufflers’ lungs? It doesn’t appear so…

Extra strong beer; when one can is more than enough.

Are there other alternatives to removing the smokers’ rest area?

  • spikes, lots of them
  • smoke sensors that blast “Cotton Eyed Joe” when set off
  • dogs trained to attack on the sound of a cigarette lighter or match being struck.
  • water cannons, lots of them
  • introduce monkeys to the area
  • allow those licensed buskers who are usually in the MRT tunnels to set up shop there
  • place a durian stall there

In summary then, we have two warring factions; the smokers and the grafitti-ers. I’m with the grafitti-ers in heart and mind as the smokers are uncaring of others in their upkeep of their killsome addiction. On the other hand, the grafitti sucks to look at. At least add a bit of artistic flair to it. Draw a troll-esque smoker with 500 cigarettes in its mouth going all cross-eyed or draw a big arrow pointing down to where the people usually sit smoking and label it “MORONS”. I guess you can say stylistically I’m not with the grafitti-ers and they need some pointers on protest art.

I’m just left to wonder how will this pan out? If ever? Who will take charge of the multi-layered issues? TTSH and a Moses-esque migration of its smoking populace? Or 27Mr with a couple of sledgehammers?

In the meantime head on down to Sinaran Drive and take a few selfies with a real-life and authentic graffitied wall right here in Singapore!

Megadeth: Live in Singapore 2017

The Kallang Theatre welcomes you like an old musty bingo hall. No blue rinse hair and floral ankle length skirts on parade for Megadeth though. No it’s black. Black on black. Long hair if genetics allows. Indeed, the Kallang Theatre is a strange venue for the thrash metal stalwarts but once the lights went out the majority took to standing. If genetics allowed.

And so, this ended my 2017 nostalgic rock/metal gig saga with Guns N Roses and Metallica already in my rusty old rear-view mirror, Megadeth were the last of the trifecta on my concert planner.

Megadeth. Never top of my favourites but much respected for their pedigree and penchant for multiple dozens of guitar solos in one song. Bizarrely enough, their Countdown to Extinction album was the soundtrack to me playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog on my friend’s Sega Mega Drive.

To the concert itself then. One must admire the steadfast look of Megadeth over the decades. Dave Mustaine, the forever jeans wearing mop haired frontman, hasn’t changed his style since the 70s one would imagine. While other bands (eg. Metallica) have had mid-life crises and cut their hair and applied some nail polish, Dave and crew stuck to the same formula: long hair, jeans, trainers. No deviations. One must also admire the almost choreographed movements on stage which leaves no-one in doubt who is doing the guitar solo; two step back into shadows, one steps up front and proceeds to shred another solo.

Megadeth have always been a no nonsense metal band and their latest release “Dystopia” has got fans excited about them again. This confidence in their current offerings is shown in the set-list with no less than 6 songs included. Of course, being a fan of their old stuff, I was more engaged with their classics; “Hangar 18”, “In My Darkest Hour”, and “Peace Sells”. Only two songs from “Countdown to Extinction” (which wasn’t really liked by hardcore Megadeth fans) are played but “Sweating Bullets” and the amazing riff-centred core of “Symphony of Destruction” are stand outs for me.

With quite a short set-list for a band with so much material; it’s a little bit of a let-down. They do save the best for last though. “Holy Wars…” is probably the most under-rated metal song of all time. An amazing piece of song writing interlacing riffs and multiple solos whose lyrics are uber-meaningful nowadays more than ever. Check it out if you have time.

And after 14 songs, that was that. Sound was a little muddled at times but all in all a great show.

Megadeth Setlist Kallang Theatre, Singapore, Singapore 2017, Dystopia World Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore Ink Show 2017

Having a weird interest in permanently inking one’s body for random reasons, I bought a $36 ticket to visit the Singapore Ink Show 2017. I pondered why tickets were so expensive and would it be worth it. After visiting the show on the Saturday I guess my answer to that would be….yes and no.

Yes, it was very interesting to see the tattoo artists live at work doing a wide range of different tattoo styles on a wide range of bodies (and body parts). No, in that there really wasn’t much else to warrant a $36 ticket cost.

Skull tattoo….can’t imagine the sensation he must be feeling…

One thing that stood out to me was the lengths people will go to to get a specific tattoo by a specific artist. I’m not too keyed in to the famous tattoo artist world so I’m presuming a lot of these artists were reputable and sought after. Which explained why you see half naked people happily getting tattooed while being observed by hundreds of people throughout their ordeal. Call me old fashioned but give me a quiet corner and a curtain to keep the world away from me when I’m going under the needle for a few hours.

There was a cover-up tattoo competition on the main stage when we were there which was interesting but they wouldn’t announce the winner until a number of other competitions had run their course. Felt a tad slowww..

Eats and drinks related there were some small Pilsner Urquells going for $10 and a number of small dishes available. Some leather-clad ladies were ladling out free Monster energy drinks too.

All in all, an interesting enough experience but I would like a ticket price around the $20 range which would feel about right with what was on offer.

 

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