Day: July 16, 2015



I suppose it’s something we somewhat take for granted but it’s hard to believe that Ant-Man is the 12th Marvel Studios superhero movie! The mere fact that I can write the words “superhero movie” is already a minor miracle considering that these were rare once upon a time. So I enjoy the superhero movie phenomenon as long as I can.

But seriously folks, compared to other action-adventure blockbusters franchises, superhero movies have generally been good entertainment, value for money and relatively well written to boot! Sure, there have been a couple of exceptions but overall, it has been a good run since the first Iron Man.

And that’s the movie that Ant-Man most feels like – it’s the origin story of a man in a suit which grants him super powers – and for most part, director Peyton Reed (who took over from Edgar Wright) has done a commendable job in keeping the movie well afloat despite its problems in pre-production.

The difference between Iron Man and Ant-Man is that with the latter, there is now a vast backstory to contextualise the tale. This applies especially to this Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Ant-Man, where we now discover that Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne had been working with SHIELD (as Ant-Man & Wasp) in the 80s. Also, instead of Yellowjacket being one of the manifestations of Pym’s insanity, it is a separate (villainous character, altogether). All this serves to give greater depth to the MCU.

In addition, there is a marked lighter tone to Ant-Man that is similar to that encountered on Guardians of the Galaxy, which puts Paul Rudd (Scott Lang) right in his element. The means by which Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits Lang as the new Ant-Man is cleverly handled with the first sequence where Lang shrinks down, a wonder to behold! Evangeline Lilly provides Lang with an apt foil – as Hope Van Dyne (Pym’s estranged daughter) and the possibility of another female Marvel superhero (stay for the post-credits scene!).

There is an unevenness about how the film ends, which is not helped by the two post-credits scenes but perhaps that’s the idea – to make us geeks feel like the MCU is one ever continuing story. For what its worth, Ant-Man has earned its right to be part of the tale’s unfolding.

Ant-Man is showing at cinemas now. 



My continuing misadventures as a failed musician in art-adverse Singapore where cover bands rule the music landscape.

Against all common sense, I am recording a new album to be released in September. Look, I will be a senior citizen very soon and my name isn’t Dick Lee or Jeremy Monteiro, so who the fuck in this recovering cultural desert would want to listen to my music?

It gets worse when one tries to talk to venues about playing gigs to promote the new album. Most of the venues here exclusively feature cover bands and if you want to ‘use’ their venue to launch your album then expect an exorbitant charge!

To be fair, there are venues that do (on a regular consistent basis) support a Singapore artist playing his own music but you can probably count them on one hand – Artistry Cafe, Hood Bar & Cafe, Timbre outlets, the Esplanade and the Hard Rock Cafe!

For most of these venues, there is no payment involved for playing – simply because there is no grassroots support for music made in Singapore. That unfortunately is still a fact. I can appreciate the venue owners’ dilemma, I really do. It’s already amazing that these platforms even exist!

Thus, I do not perform regularly. For my ‘layman’ friends, this is hard to understand. The usual query is ‘where do you play?’ but the reality is ‘NOWHERE’. Unless it’s an annual string of dates for an EP/album launch, it is impossible for me to get a gig!

Which is why I cringe whenever people describe me as a ‘legend’ – what a fucking joke!?!? More like a ‘failed musician’ is the stark reality. Is this your musical legacy, Singapore? Don’t be mistaken, I am not griping for the sake of it, I accept the way things are and do my best (which isn’t much) to change things.

But what I will continue to do is to make music. So, I will release my new album – Present Sense – in September and will play a couple of gigs in support (with The Groovy People). I really wish I could play my music all year round but that, dear readers, is just not possible, unless something changes.

And that is up to you. Not the Government, not SGMUSO, not The Musicians Guild, but YOU, the music fan. The scene is what you make of it – if all you want are singing contests & cookie cutter cover bands, then good luck to you all….

*thanks to Keith Tan (Obedient Wives Club) for the phrase.