It may seem quaint, but there was a time when local television dominated home entertainment in Singapore. I grew up at the tail-end of the era, which was, all things considered, a simpler time. This was the 1990s, when the multi-gadget household comprised principally, out of the kitchen, a fixed-line telephone, a radio, and a television. Computers only really made their way into homes towards the end of the decade, and smaller, portable devices hadn’t quite achieved their subsequent ubiquity. (It was a moment of considerable pride in the Yuan household when Pa brought home, first a pager, then an Ericsson handphone, the GH 388, at the time of its release the very apex of technology.)
Entertainment on demand was some years yet from becoming a thing, though some measure of it was possible through the tape recorder and VCDs. For those who sought greater diversity, there was the option of a cable subscription via Singapore Cable Vision. Pa resolutely resisted its introduction into the house, and we felt little need for it anyway, since Channel 8 began broadcasting 24 hours a day from September 1st 1995. In my home, and the part of the heartlands where I grew up, Caldecott Hill held firmly sway. The likes of Zoe Tay, Li Nan Xing and Xie Shao Guang graced our screens, and to be alive and watching them was very heaven.
As a child in kindergarten, however, the programmes that I watched and cared most about were children’s shows from abroad—“Barney & Friends” and the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”; the latter in particular gripped my imagination every Saturday morning. My favourite was the Blue Ranger, because blue was my favourite colour and because I liked Billy best, a shy, bespectacled, somewhat gawky teenager who nonetheless was capable of heroism when he summoned the spirit of the triceratops and morphed into a Ranger. It helped as well that his girlfriend, Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, my sister’s favourite, was pretty. A childhood highlight was a weekday afternoon, when my mother brought my sister and me to Northpoint Shopping Centre (now Northpoint City), where there was to be a photo-taking session with the Power Rangers.
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The author reflects on his journey with Javanese gamelan music, one that connects practitioners and ensembles scattered across the world, and conjures musical seascapes that reflect the diverse communities encountered along the way.
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