Thursday, 1 December 2011

No Choice But To Stray

Most people like new things, in Materialistic Singapore, even more so. Most of us see second hand things as inferior, we are not a country of recycling or yard sales. Needless to say, this applies to the animals we keep. All animals are beautiful, stray or not. I believe they are all innocent, unlike us. The evil we are capable of as a species, frankly, I find quite embarrassing.

Born on the Streets.

The animals with good homes are lucky, the one's who have to fend for themselves in an urban city full of cars, buildings and possible abusive weirdos, less lucky. I'm a strong supporter of adoption and giving abandoned animals a home, they'll stay really loyal, trust me on this one. I do not, however, support buying pets from the pet stores.

A Re-homed Labrador.
I've met many 'dog nazis' who'll "only buy the best, closest to standard pedigree dogs from a line of show 'champions'", not for showing or personality traits, but just so they can brag about it. After a conversation with them, I often conclude it's to compensate for their lack of confidence and personality. They're usually the same people who must buy the most expensive of anything, for no other reason other than "it's the best they have." Losers.

This pretty calico was really posing for me.
Look at those eyes!

Christmas is fast approaching and I really do hope people don't start going to the pet stores with the intention of buying a puppy or a kitten as a gift for someone who isn't ready for that kind of commitment that a pet demands. Often, children and busy families are not ready for the needs of a pet and they end up on the streets or dumped somewhere, Note to parents: Dumping another life because it becomes an inconvenience is probably not a good lesson to teach your children. They might do the same when you become an old 'inconvenience'.

That being said, if you are ready to share your life with anew furry friend and wanna reap the wonderful rewards of being a responsible pet owner, don't buy a pet. Do a good deed and look at animal shelters first, you might find your new best friend there. Never say, never. There are a couple of animal shelters in the country and one of them has reached out to me to help spread the word about an upcoming adoption drive that they are putting together. It's something I'd gladly do. It's hosted by "Gentle Paws and Friends" (They're privately owned and Non profit). You can find out more from their website here.


The pictures in this post are mostly of strays, ex strays or re-homed pets that I've met over the past couple months and aren't camera shy. Tell me these guys aren't beautiful! Well, you know what, don't. I'll say you're insane and unfriend you on facebook.

Waiting to cross the road.

As his owner, You're all he's got.

Call of the wild.
His bigger brother. (this guy isn't a stray, he's a real wold one (I didn't take this picture)
This Dog has eyebrows! A stray in a new loving home.
Mixed breeds are handsome too
She's one of the friendliest strays I've ever met.
I've never met a stray as playful as her.
She was very shy, this one.
Regal looking stray male, looked intimidating but was pretty curious of my camera



My ex- abandoned/ abused friend, he's the most loyal and obedient dog I know.
Mixed breed and proud of it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Wildlife expedition, well kind of.

A Day at the The Singapore Zoo

I'm personally quite shocked by the recent bad press that surrounded the new CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Isabella Loh. She had canned the Halloween Horrors at the Night Safari, because the establishment should not 'worship the devil'. Pity, I think 'Isabella' is a beautiful name. Well, looks like it's one step forward and two steps back for a more open minded Singaporean mainstream entertainment scene in the near future. I guess while I'm on the subject, I should mention that I am of the belief that the seventh month and all it's practices and traditions should be preserved and promoted as a unique cultural practice in Singapore. It's something we have that other people around the world don't!

Anyway, the point of this long overdue post is that a couple of months ago I took a trip to the Singapore Zoo and had a pretty good day off. It's one of my favourite tourist attractions in Singapore and I try to make at least an annual visit. I've had nice memories of that place ever since I can remember. This time round, I was armed with my Canon and ready to capture some 'wildlife' photography. I just love how beautifully created and designed these creatures are. Absolutely perfect.


This guy was really welcoming. He was the first thing we saw after we crossed the barricades.

 I have a deep respect for Crocs. (The reptile not the God awful footwear.) These guys are designed to keep the food chain in order!

I cannot help but hear Disco Boogie music looking at her massive 'fro.

Just look at their perfect little baboon faces! They lead an existence that's socially very similar to ours, some really interesting studies have been made regarding their social hierarchical structure and ours in the research of Stress and how stress causes very real health problems.  Go watch National Geographic's "Stress- Portrait of a killer." I learned a lot from that documentary film.

These affectionate little monkeys, literally!

 As we crept up to see this group of mongoose, one of them spotted us and alerted the gang of our intrusion. I managed to get the shot of the second dude from the left giving his "Wake up guys!" call.

A couple of 'Sentries' stood up, alert and ready. They also looked so fragging adorable, although I'm aware that's not their intention. Managed to snap one fesity fella on his two feet.

All Hail, Heavy Metal! I couldn't help but think of all the crazy demonic imagery with the ram's head and all that 666 pentagram nonsense when I came across his very hungry Billy Goat. Nothing satanic about this guy here. He was chewing off his enclosure for crying out loud! This guy was absolutely adorable.

"Mmmm... Black Metal Hay?" This lovely smile turned into peals of laughter when Jen discovered what the Billy was eating.

There was this holiday I took with my parents to I can't remember where when I was a child and there was this huge garden maze, over sized chess board, and a garden full of these beautifully made Topiaries (I had to look up the word). It could have been a World Expo or something. These beautifully shaped 'statues' of grass made an enormous impression on me and ever since then, I've always wanted to one day own a home with garden space big enough for at least 2 of these humongous topiaries. A T-Rex and a King Kong would be nice. One can dream. I was happy to see that the Zoo had two of them. A Giraffe and a Mouse/Rat. The Tim Burton Film, "Edward Scissorhands had some really amazing ones in there.

I want one!!!
 I'm not sure if there are any Blackadder fans reading this but this Rat topiary makes me think of the mad man in a cell that said "Mr Rat! Good Morning, Mr Rat!" Lol.

 This is pretty much a dream come true for me...


If I had the money and the space, I would definitely grow one of these. Hmm, I wonder if I can start making them myself. Note to self, possible future hobby project.






 The orchid shot has such brilliant colors. I love my 60D.
Obviously, these aren't my hands.

Giraffes are so elegant, they belong on the runway. Look at their stubby horns. Their sheer height makes me think of dinosaurs, and I love Dinos!


Man, I waited a long time to capture this African Sprinter with the tear stained face.Gorgeous creature.


I used to love staring at the clouds from the window in my parents room. You know, how clouds can look like stuff. Sitting on a bench, I saw 'Puff the Magic dragon' in the sky. His head's on the left, he's got a long S shaped neck, and chunky body.

I went on and on about the clouds and how beautiful they were and Jen dozed off, as usual.
"Long live Love, Long live Rock and Roll."



Monday, 31 October 2011

Smile

This song has been sifting in and out of my mind since friday evening so I thought to share it with you all. Many of you might not know this but the original music for this song was written by the great entertainer, Charlie Chaplin in 1936 and it was used in his film 'Modern Times'.
Undeniable Genius.

Here's the beautiful original instrumental version.


The lyrics were written by two other guys and are simple but powerful. It never fails to make me feel waves of emotion when I sing the words to myself sometimes when I'm feeling down and out. Sometimes, a song really keeps me sane. 

It was first recorded with lyrics by one of my favourite singers, Nat King Cole. It's a perfect recording.


Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

It's also been covered by numerous other great artists and I've put videos of a couple of my favourites below

Michael Jackson
Judy Garland
Harry Connick, Jr.

Robert Downey, Jr. (betcha you didn't know the iron man could sing, the bass solo is what does it for me in this version)


So, If you're going through some tough times, nerves and uncertainty in life, that's the time you must smile and keep on trying. What's the use in crying, anyway? 
:)

Be Water, My Friend...

The martial arts legend speaks! I love the intensity and expressions he has when he talks. It's great for spoofs! There are 3 parts to it.







Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Museum of Horrors 2011

Hail, Stereo fiends! Yesterday, the "Life in Stereo" Team was invited by the good people behind the "Museum of Horrors" to experience what they had to offer. I guess they were pretty happy to hear that Mildred (the host of the Across the Universe segment on the podcast) picked their exhibition as her Halloween activity recommendation choice. I got the email and we made time to head down to SCAPE for what turned out to be a frightful good time.


Taken from their press release "The Museum of Horrors is Singapore’s biggest walk-in exhibition of classic Hollywood horror movie scenes and legendary horror folklore returns with all new monsters, new levels of terror and also debuts Asia’s 1st 3-D Creepy FunHouse, experienced with special 3-D glasses!"
Skulls! I am going to get me one of these for my collection.


I don't want to give too much away here and ruin the experience for those of you that decide to go but will let the pictures do the talking. There was a really good atmosphere, nice actors (super professional and knew not to go too far when patrons got too scared), I had a couple of good startles! There were plenty of nice dioramas to look at while the eerie soundscape sounds were playing in the background. It was a definite plus that photos were not an issue, no flash photography which is absolutely fair. The flashes would spoil the mood of the place, anyway. Think about this place like kind of a Horror Madame Tussaud's but with more fun. Given our lack of Horror events in Singapore. This might be a great start to something more in the future. I'd love to see that. Hell, I'd love to be a part of that. :)

One of the many creepy dioramas.
Scream! It's Ghostface!
A scary good time with Linda Blair!
Not quite the reaction she was expecting from us but I think it was a nice change from the screaming.
Horse Face, one of the characters from chinese myths and folklore.
Mildred's a definite candidate to be the bride of Chucky.

For me, Museum of Horrors definitely worth it's price tag. Ticket prices are the lowest in town at only $19 during off-peak season and at only $22 during the Halloween Weekend. A little hint to the fellas, this might be a good place for you to bring your girl for a Halloween date but don't get more freaked out than she does! Click here for details.

Here's me with Conrad, one of the organizers of the museum of Horrors. Good Job!

Podcast Episode 02: "Wicked Good"


Greetings Stereo Fiends!!!With Halloween creeping up in less than a week, Epidsode 2 of the 'Life In Stereo' Free Podcast is filled with Fright filled activities, books, movies and music for you to check out. Plus a very special interview with the genius behind feature films "A Month of Hungry Ghosts" and "Haunted Changi", Tony Kern. Click here to download or for the less tech savvy, instructions are below.

INSTRUCTIONS TO DOWNLOAD MY PODCAST
1) Go to my website www.jonleong.com
2) Click on 'Podcast'
3) Scroll down and click the episode you want
4) Let the podcast load up (This might take a couple of minutes depending on your connection, the show is more than an hour long so be patient)
 5) Click the "Play" button on the player after it's finished loading to Enjoy!

This is what the player looks like after it's loaded and playing. Click the 'downward facing' arrow at the right end to "Save as source" & you have the mp3 file for your ipod/ mp3 player! Easy? Easy.

NOW, At this point, you can either choose to continue streaming the podcast and listen to it online OR download it onto your computer as an mp3 file for future listening and also for transfer into your Ipods, mp3 players, thumb drives and whatnot!

1) To Stream it from your computer just click the play button as mentioned in step 5 (above)
2) To Download into your computer- Click the arrow pointing downwards at the right end of the Quicktime player bar. You should see an option that says "Save As Source". Click that and you can save the podcast anywhere you like on your computer. :)
If you face any problems, it's probably because I'm currently hosting my website on apple's mobile me service and my subscription will end next June. I have heard that sometimes mobile me gets a little bit slow and possibly problematic but changing hosting sites would mean lots of cash to hire web designers and web hosting server space. I'll deal with that next year, when I have to. Unless anyone out there has better ideas/ suggestions.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Early evil influences


One of my fondest memories of monsters, ghosts and phantoms came from a Disney Halloween special. It was definitely one of the influences for my love of rock n roll, metal, skulls, horror and dressing in black. Here are some of these videos. They're basically music montage videos with the horror theme. It's horror elements, animation and rock n roll! What's not to love? They're old videos so, watching them on a small screen looks better. FYI

"Monster Mash" from Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kicker five!

Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

"Sweet Dreams" by the Eurhythmics. God, I love this song!!!!


Stevie Wonder's masterpieces, "Superstition"


"Ghost Busters"! Ray Parker Jr



Saturday, 15 October 2011

Dead Time Stories

A really neat little piece of animation about a schizophrenic girl dealing with demons of the surburban neighborhood. Created by Michael Dougherty for MTV as an animated series but it never got off the ground. this is the pilot episode. It's kinda intense but man, I'd love to work on stuff like this!




Friday, 14 October 2011

Haunted retro "Twilight Zone" Rock!

It could be that Halloween is coming and although Singapore doesn't celebrate it, I'm getting all fueled by the music and media of the holiday and this song, "Twilight Zone" has been sifting in and out of my brain! It's a catchy one... Give it a go. These old rock and rollers- Golden Earring, will show you how it's done. Dance to it like no one's watching you.


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Maquette Mania!

A 'maquette' is a fancy word for a scale model sculpture. My admiration and love for beautifully sculptured fantasy themed figures is no secret. I've been a lover of action figures from the animated world, film land and monster genre ever since I was a child. I can remember going to sleep with my toys laying on my pillow next to me. I have a rather small collection that I've amassed as I grew up. I plan to take some pictures of them and share them here. I think the sculptors, artists, puppet makers for films like Aliens, Predator, Dracula, and all the fantasy genre films have the one of the best jobs in the world. :)

Beautiful Sculpt of a Werewolf by industry veteran Steve Wang for Underworld: Evolution. He's a master! 


At the Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention this year, I made a new friend, Chris (he teaches animation in Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore). It's great to meet people with similar interests and passions. I get to "geek out" immediately. We stayed in touch and one day, he gave me the opportunity to sit in a class on Maquette making by an industry pro! I know, right? Lucky me.

I've always been a bit of a sculpting enthusiast and I figured since I love the medium so much I should try my hand at it. Often times, when I try to do something I admire, I find new-found respect for the people that are great at it. Although, I must admit I'm not very good at it. I have made a couple of things here and there but I don't think they're really any good.  However, it's a nice quiet hobby for me and I try to work on it when I can. My most ambitious project was a Pegasus that I made last Christmas. I'm finding time to put Frankenstein's monster together but it's been half done for months, so little time...


Back to the maquette making class, our teacher for the day was Jai Mufizal. He is the art director for Ubisoft Games, Singapore. They've worked on games such as 'Assasins Creed' and other cool projects.
Beautiful Art from Assasin'c Creed.

The Class went really well. The goal of the day was to give us some pointers that the pros use to make their maquettes and I learned a whole bunch of useful, handy tips and tricks that I didn't know before, so maybe my sculpts will come out better next time. I also need to actually go out and buy some specific tools and more material. $$$, boring.  Well, I don't party so I guess this is a good use of money. Our hands on project for the day was to learn the basics of sculpting a realistic head. I've never dared to go "real" before so it was a really nice learning experience.

This male human head was what I came up with at the end of the class. His eyes look weird.
My human head sculpt is amateur stuff, wait till you see the work from Jai!

Jai's work is really well done, he told us that sculpting is his passion and he's been commissioned to do a few really nice projects for collectors and other enthusiasts. His day job as art director for ubisoft sounds pretty cool to me too.

Here's some of his work for your viewing pleasure. You comic book enthusiasts are sure to recognize some of these characters.








This piece won Jai a competition.




Check the detail of the scales on his armour!


Gotta love the detail.





Great stuff, huh?  You can see more of Jai's work on his deviant art profile

After the class, I looked around the animation classroom and there were maquettes made by students/ ex students of the animation course. Here's some of them.







At the end of the day, I took a picture with Chris and Jai. I wished there was more time for me to learn about anatomy and proportions but Oh well, it was already almost a full day class. Jai gave me the name of a book that he says is a great help to learning figure sculpting. I can't wait to place an order for it online. All in all, an Awesome day. Thanks Guys! Oh yeah, if after reading this you are inspired to take on animation as a course and get serious about this very cool media medium (say that five times quickly), I found the link to Lasalle's animation course here. If I were younger, I'd definitely save the money and enroll! Maybe it's not too late. We'll see.
Chris, me and Jai (L-R)