#2159 | Off I go

2018-05-15 06.47.53 1

fruits of my labor

Nach Deutschland gehen!

Going to be working remotely out of Germany these couple of weeks. A friend of mine relocated there early this year and some time last month I got a text along the lines of ok i miss you you can come visit me now. To which I replied, I thought you’d never ask.

Hold your horses, haters. As frivolous as it sounds to be zipping off to europe to get work done remotely, I paid only 200 bucks for my air ticket because of MILES and credit card promos, and am trading McDonald’s garlic chilli packets for couch space to sleep on! Hurray. But seriously tho, I’m super looking forward to reuniting with my old friend and also to having undisturbed blocks of time to work on ~REDACTED~ during the day while he’s at his job. Har di har.

The real question is – do i actually remember anything functional from my months and months of german lessons? Were all those hours spent slaving away at memorising gender forms of inanimate objects wasted? What is Lubeck anyway? All these questions and more, answered right here on jemmawei.com in the months to come.


#2157 | Moon River

I was listening to Melissa Benoist’s rendition of Moon River in the car the other day. It’s from the CW Supergirl x The Flash crossover musical episode, which basically makes it a shoe-in success in my books because i love musicals and i love my cheesy television. Anyway the episode is great. And also anyway that is not the point. The point is that Melissa Benoist, who plays an adorable and gawky Supergirl, is awesome. And girl can sing!

Here’s where we pick up the thread of the story: I’ve been addicted to her rendition of Moon River for the last week, which means I’m always playing it in the car as the boyfriend drives (quick poll: who gets control of the music in the car – the front seat passenger or the driver who has to keep his eyes on the road anyway?) which annoys said bf to no end since his music taste is trash and he can’t appreciate the dulcet mezzo-soprano tones of Melissa Benoist. As his hands have to stay on the wheel he has resorted to different ways to get me to change the music, one of which was yelling that huckleberry friend alludes to slavery so I should stop singing the song to which i was like huck finn wasnt a slave u doofus (for those of you wondering about Huck Finn and how we should read books like Twain that openly use words that are problematic in the modern context, this piece from The New York Times is a pretty good read).

Aka it did not work. The drive from our homes to the CBD is a good half hour, so that’s half an hour of him trying different methods to get me off the song while keeping his eyes on the road. I had all but won, I could see him being worn down. Victory was so close. If I won rights to play Moon River it would mean rights to music jurisdiction in the car forever. Ten minutes from my office he started laughing and I (regretfully) asked him why. He refused to answer but started laughing again every time the song restarted. Finally, he went:

You’re basically mooing.

What do you mean?

She goes: Moooooooooo-n river.

Shut up.


Shut up!


Long story short he ruined the song for me with a cow impression.

Modern romance, y’all.


#2154 | Some things dont change

2018-04-22 04.05.45 1

Behind the scenes of a shoot last month, multitastking as a coffee runner

I am always surprised by how time passes. I told myself I would learn to make banana cake last year but it’s been a year and I still dont know how to make it and anyway I told myself banana cake is full of sugar so it’s better that I dont know how, walking away in the face of temptation and all that. But it did not seem like it had been a year since I had committed to learning to make banana cake. That was the part that shocked me. I thought to myself, alright now, no one can measure their lives by their baking prowess. But then all I could think about that week was how my access to banana cake was limited to my purchasing ability and not my ability to create that which I desired. The thing I said before which I had had moderate success with, the being a morning person thing, is still ongoing. It facilitates my friendships more than ever, I now see my girlfriend every weekday instead of just meeting her for post-work drinks once a week. I pick her up on the way to the CBD and we go to the gym together then shower, get coffee, and go to work. We comment often on how this seems like a good sign that we are surviving at this adulting thing. At twenty five your conversations are always preceded by but we’re only twenty five or But we’re already twenty five rather equally. I guess what that says is that we are still figuring it out. Last week we joked about how our daily morning routine felt like a married-couple routine. When we separated post-coffee for our respective offices I shouted bye honey and she said bye honey and it felt like we were play acting a script that had been rehearsed many times before. When we were seventeen we used to joke that we were married with the intimate complicity that girl-friendships have. On the saturday that just passed I picked her up again at 6am and we were on our way to do a reef clean up dive, she turned to me at some point and said, I packed you breakfast! I was so touched. I looked at the tupperware and it was homemade banana cake. And it was cold and delicious and tasted like a year of anticipation. The moral of the story seems to be that it matters not how you get there, but that what is meant to be will be in the end. So it goes.


#2150 | lilacs out of the dead land


Seoul, Korea.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am – it’s april already, the cruelest month, etcetera, and time seems to have taken on a fluid and unorderly state. I go into the office in the mornings on Monday and when I come out it is Thursday and I am surprised. There are so many things that have to be done. I received a regular number of rejections in the past month and felt comforted: I thought of how roxane gay says that she has become accustomed to rejection, and anyway, rejection is good for the soul. I tried to have more work life balance this year but the trying is trying. One thing I have done with success is transition into becoming a morning person. Now my waking hours vary in odd numbers: 5:35, 5:55, 6:07, sometimes, a luxury, 8:01. I failed once, I rose in shock at 10:00 and blamed it on jetlag. No one cared but my cat. As a morning person I am now the earliest riser at home and thus the human who feeds her. The day I woke at 10, she looked at me with disgust. I tell myself that she doesnt have to understand. I have become very dependent on the Cloud.


#2141 | March’s To-Listen: 36 Questions – A musical revival of the podcast?


Hey guys,

So I’m perpetually obsessed with finding new and more efficient ways to manage my time, and a big part of that is carving out time to consume content that i enjoy or that I feel enriches me creatively (see: Five ways to read more daily). And the most recent way this has manifested in my life? Podcasts.

Most podcasts are informational (I like the Freakonomics one) or funny (Weird Work), and I enjoy listening to them so much even if the subject matters have absolutely nothing to do with my life. It’s become so natural for me to tune in to a new podcast episode while getting ready in the morning or to plug in while on public transport. But very few of them have a narrative thread, and that’s something I greatly miss from radio stations in the UK – whole stations dedicated to people just reading stories to you in a comforting, grandfatherly voice.

So naturally, 36 Questions had me at three part musical podcast. It popped up in my recommended podcasts list, and I was like, are you SURE THIS IS FREE. Because how can such amazing content be free?! But the internet never ceases to amaze me.

We’ve become so conditioned to assume that content associated with high culture (art, music, etcetera) comes at a high cost – havent we all complained about Hamilton tickets being prohibitively expensive? – that i think when something similar is offered for free, it just blows our collective minds. When I was backpacking across europe I loved scouring forums for ways to get cheap tickets for musicals and plays, and it was also then that i really started being able to watch and enjoy theatre. That opportunity to really get into theatre would never have been afforded to me in Singapore because shows that travel here are mad expensive, and it’s just not within the price bracket for most people’s (semi?)regular weekend fare. I dont think there’s one easy solution for this because of the differences in cultural priorities for Singapore vs the States/Europe, but I do think that it’s a pity because it is a whole universe of joy and color and texture and magic and it comes at a cost that many people cannot afford.

That is a big part of the reason why here, especially, in the tiny island of Singapore, I appreciate what 36 questions aims to do.

The three part podcast is kind of like listening to a radio drama that occasionally breaks into song – it stars Jonathan Groff (Frozen, Glee, and Hamilton) and Jessie Shelton (theatre trained, but generally a media newcomer), and was written and directed by indie studio Two-Up. The story thread is relatively straightforward, with an interesting premise – a couple falls in love while doing the 36 questions (a psychologist-developed questionnaire that was popularised by the New York Times) and two years later, tries to fix their broken marriage by doing the 36 questions together again. There’s drama in the middle, a lot of rain, a lot of cheesiness, and also, a duck (throwback to season 4 of FRIENDS, anyone?). They often break into solos or have their dialogue phase into vocal harmony, which fires up a little frisson of delight in me whenever it happens.

There are two filmmakers who sit on the production team of 36 questions, and this works very much to the benefit of the podcast because it requires an intimate understanding of cinematic space, and subsequently how that has to be converted to an audio form without losing the lustre that comes with visual spectacle. As a result, listening to the podcast creates the sense that you’re sitting in on an intimate conversation between two people, privy to the tears, the heartbreak, the sighs, the drama, all up close. It’s a whole world carried around and transmitted to you through your headphones. And it’s extremely charming, which makes up for the dips in narrative, which does happen here and there. At some points the plot / acting becomes so cheesy I want to reach through the headphones and smack one or both of the characters, but this feeling is few and far between, and easily forgivable and glossed over by the charisma of the actors.

Overall a solid recommendation. I initially started on the series thinking it would be a great entry point to the world of musicals, but very quickly realised that it holds its own well as an entirely new musical form. You can download/stream/listen to 36 Questions here.

Looking for more entertainment recommendations? You can read the rest of my monthly pop culture recommendations here