Saturday, May 29, 2004


Listening to: Tributo Al Niño Rivera - Afro Cuban All Stars - Distinto Diferente
There are blessings to count. S coming back from Sydney has been a godsend. Today, after work, we met at our local, as per normal every Friday and Saturday for the past two months now, and we had our compulsory Hoegaarden half a litre. Then we headed off SHOPPING! S needed new clothes for his string of job interviews. He had his mum buy him a Hugo Boss suit earlier in the week for his first interview, and he called us the day of his interview to ask how to tie a tie. Today, on H's recommendation, we headed to Raoul's, where the shirts are damn nice lor. It is not often guys shop together for clothes (!), but we three kings of orient went and did it with much glee. Me and H picked out shirts for S to try, and we were, as usual, poking fun at everything in the shop, much to the consternation of the nervous sales staff. I don't think they've encountered giggly straight men either. After he had made his purchases, S said, "You know, I like shopping with you guys 'cos it's the closest thing to shopping with women". There was a very pregnant pause. Then we headed off to dinner at a Japanese restaurant where me and H and his girlfriend tried to persuade S to try the Katsu-Don because "Japanese pork is halal". (We had earlier tried to trick him into trying a pair of pig-skin lined Raoul shoes). We ate, we drank, we giggled some more, then we went home.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Bringing the family

Listening to: Bolero Sonámbulo - Manuel Galbán/Ry Cooder - Mambo Sinuendo
A few weeks ago, we were sitting at the dining table having dinner. All was usual. Mum was griping about everything. Sis was complaining about something at work. Brother-in-law was asking me some inane question in an effort to drum up conversation with me. Brother was silent. And little Josh was trying to get everyone's attention. We dished the food onto our plates of rice as per normal. Then it was Dad's turn to scoop some stuff onto his plate. I stopped the spinning lazy susan to help him. And that's when I saw it. He picked up the serving spoon in the most laboured manner, his right hand trembling quite significantly. Parkinson's. My first thought flashed. Then I was mesmerised. I looked at him eating for the rest of dinner. He did complain to me about having the shakes. He usually doesn't complain much unless he's afraid. But I think he was aware that I was aware and observing him. I met him in his office yesterday for a business chat, and he was shaking so much that I lost my train of thought. He was aware of it, and hid his hands behind his back. Last night, Mum told me she got a number for a neurologist, and asked me to make an appointment for Dad. At dinner tonight, I asked him when I could make an appointment, and he was quite annoyed. "I have so many medical appointments. I go to my cardiologist first and do all my tests first". "They have medicines that can control the shaking you know?", was my counter. He kept quiet and tried to dish some more food on his plate, and gave up after one try.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

She's a beaut, mate, but she's sending me to the poor house

Listening to: Riding With the King - John Hiatt - Y'all Caught
OK, who wants to buy a 1986 Mercedes Benz 300SEL? I got this car in 2002 for a real bargain by Singapore standards - $28K for 5 years left on the COE (for non-Singaporeans - Certificate of Entitlement - yes, you need a certificate to show you are entitled to own a car). It seemed a real bargain then. For $28K you can only put a deposit on another decent car. This baby (monster) was so well-kept by her previous owners that I felt guilty taking her off their hands. I'm renowned for trashing cars. My last car in Sydney was known as the Sports Car, because of all manner of sporting apparatus I kept in the trunk, the back seat, the front passenger seat and the roof rack. I've grown accustomed to her face, her large, cumbersome frame and her reluctant purr in the mornings, when her transmission doesn't want to wake up yet. She is low-maintenance with the TLC stuff, but her drinking habit's leaving me skint. In the past fortnight, I had been complaining to all who would care to listen (and because I had run out of conversation topics), that the fuel prices were killing me. $1.45 a litre or something. Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live? Now, buying, selling and owning a car in Singapore is like rocket science or nuclear physics. Most guys here seem to understand it, but I don't. There's the aforementioned COE, then there's the OMV, PARF, the ARF and the BOWWOWWOW or something. And when you're done with the barking, you might want to let out an ERP.... ...So my friends were trying to explain the above acronym soup to me while my eyes were slowly glazing over. All I knew was that I was spending close to $400 a month on fuel, $4K a year on road tax, $800 a year on insurance and many sundry dollars passing under ERP gantries by mistake and parking for too long in car parks across the island. Good thing she's a hardy girl, and seldom has to visit the mechanic's aside from her routine check ups and occasional replacement of the Mercedes star that vandals like to snap off for keepsakes. She's temperamental and quirky too. Creaking in the mornings, but not in the afternoons. Overheating in jams and not changing gears in colder weather (here, that means anything under 30 degrees celcius). She drives like a boat, and parking is like berthing a tugboat, only harder. She usually needs one and a half parking lots. And she's longer than most MPVs (Many People Vehicle). Common sense (and my knowledgeable friends) dictate I should sell the car (because the shell is worth money, they say), and put a deposit down on a smaller car, and pay instalments for the rest of my natural life, so I can cut down my fuel bill and road tax. Plus I used to dislike Mercs with a passion. The image of the Chinese Bidnisman and his big Merc irked me no end. And it doesn't help that some friends address me as Uncle still on account of the car. But like I say, I've grown accustomed to her. How her dash lights randomly switch on and off depending on how you start her up. How she needs at least two cranks to start up. How only one of four auto windows work. How the fuel gauge reads 1/4 but is really very empty. And she's a grand old dame. She's a Merc. I'll only leave her if someone gets me one of these. (Bastard huh?)

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Online friends are friends IRL too

Listening to: She - Elvis Costello - Notting Hill
I spend so much time on the computer it's scary. And thanks to my horrible sleeping patterns, I spend nights, mostly alone at the computer, churning out (very slowly) all manner of business proposals, website updates, customer emails and so on. Which is why I am thankful for this blog, and the opportunities it's given me to make friends. I have friended several very nonsensical people through portals like Rice Bowl Journals. Nonsense is good too. Especially in the wee hours. There's always a comfortable distance between me and my online friends. I can sit here, half naked, picking my nose, and they wouldn't mind. (Would you? If so, no, I don't pick my nose when I'm online. I do trim my nose hair though). My online friends also give me things to do: Help with research, nonsense games to play, and lately, an infernally frustrating quiz from the marketers of the Da Vinci Code. (As I write, I've forwarded this quiz to another online friend, much to my regret, because she is also bombarding me with 'Arrgh's just as I did with the friend that gave me the quiz. That friend has cleverly gone offline for the night). I'll tell you what. Having online friends with my nocturnal, solitary, working hours sure makes up for not having colleagues in the conventional sense. (Plus you can chat half-naked).
In Real Life Posted by Hello Da Vinci update: I've cracked it. With a little (a lot actually, I had given up at the second last stage) help from the friend that forwarded it to me. Is nosso hard!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Two week holiday confirmation I was just saying about love letters... Posted by Hello

Monday, May 24, 2004


Listening to: Miss Otis Regrets - Bryan Ferry - As Time Goes By Posted by Hello OK, mid-work-day post, in case I forget:This biopic I must catch. Someone mentioned it once, about how it glosses over the seedier bits of Cole Porter's life. Fuck that. It's got Cole Porter's songs, and a calvacade of cameos by Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Robbie Williams, Natalie Cole et cetera. Fun!

National (Service) Identity

Listening to: Sorrow - David Bowie - The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974
I was reading someone's blog entry about how Singapore was totally devoid of any history or culture or national identity worth talking about, when I felt awash with indignation. The government had to invent national symbols, she wrote! Ignoramus! The lion city wasn't named for nothing. The lion came out of the jungle and scared the crap out of the visiting prince. Our citizens still do. Only we take your crap and recycle it, then open a visitors' centre dedicated to showing you how we scare the crap out of you, recycle your crap, and make a show of it, and ask if you'd like a drink of the stuff. I shit you not. Common adversity is often the glue that bonds societies. Be forced to drink crap together and be a Nation. How else can you get 4 million folk from diverse ethnic backgrounds* to forge common traits? I'm writing the following with a straight-face. I like the subject matter so much it is embarrassing. Yes, National Service. Every Singaporean male loves it but only a handful admits to it. Every Singaporean female hates it when her boyfriend bumps into a 'camp-mate' and begins an hour long catch up session, mostly reminiscing about what Sergeant Tan did when Corporal Lim shat his pants in the Armoured Personnel Carrier. Darling, an Armoured Personnel Carrier is like a tank, but it carries troopers like us who storm out of the Armoured Personnel Carrier all guns blazing, to fight the enemy. Isn't that right, {insert army nickname of campmate} ? While we'll forever dispute the actual purpose of National Service in terms of national security, the one thing that's turned out useful and dare I say, good, is the generation of men, after 36 years of compulsory conscription, who are truly homogenously Singaporean. Run out of things to say when you meet another guy? Ask what reservist unit he's from. Excused from reservist? Which full time NS unit he served in. Excused NS? Say, 'Whaddafuck? You lucky bastard", and continue to talk about your own army experiences. Yes, I am glad for National Service. There, I've said it. Off my chest. *75% Chinese, 20% void-deck dwellers, 3% Serangoon Road jaywalkers, 2% overpaid arrogant Caucasians who steal 70% of our women.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

In moderation

Listening to: Baseball Theme - Vince Guaraldi Trio - Jazz Impressions Of A Boy Named Charlie Brown
I still like my drink. Even if I can no longer drink all night without feeling crook. I felt crook all weekend after Friday night, when me and my mates attended Fly's 5th anniversary nonsense party at Centro. Being an ex-employee almost guarantees an invite, but we might have pushed things too far for next year's because we found a booklet of drink vouchers and used it. I haven't been so drunk since I can't remember. That's about all I care to say about the party. Or Fly. Mel and a high-on-the-happy-side-Ben Except that my brother's a photographer, and sponsored the party with his instant digital photo booth thingie

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Blogger has a new toy

Listening to: If not for you - Olivia Newton-John - Back to Basics
More stuff to keep me occupied when I'm bored (and that's pretty often). Pretty nifty thing that lets you upload photos to your blogger blog, like so:
Benny & Kenny, Dec 2002. Posted by Hello
You can even take screenshots, like so.Posted by Hello

Geneva and other conventions

Listening to: O Mio Babbino Caro - Renée Fleming - Voices
The first of the accuseds in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was sentenced at a special court martial to 1 year's imprisonment, reduction in rank, and discharge. I won't say how ridiculously light the sentence is, regardless of whether the bastard has agreed to 'co-operate with investigators', except to say, 365 days in a military detention barracks is pretty tame compared with 365 days' tour of duty in Iraq, what with the long-running Iraqi Festival of the Roadside Bomb and fringe ambushes. According to the report, the accused knew what had happened at Abu Ghraib contravened the articles of the Geneva Convention, which made him even more culpable under the rules of the courts martial, I'd assume. Here in Singapore, in the Singapore Armed Forces, we were recently educated during in-camp training, in between combat training revisions, on the articles of the laws of war in a series of long, sleep-inducing lectures, which were livened up by the screening of British made military education videos which resembled Monty Python more than anything. It was funny how the 'enemy combatants' in the videos were dressed like WW2 German soldiers. I don't remember much else about the lectures, except for giggling at the lecturer, a young lieutenant, who read from the lecture notes verbatim, mangling words as 'subterfuge' into 'subtle-fudge', and perfidy into 'pufeedee'. Point is, you don't need to pass a test based on the lectures given to know that what the buggers did at Abu Ghraib was absolutely wrong. It is no excuse whether the soldier involved was from a reserve unit, or whether he had been taught the rules of engagement and of dealing with civilians in the theatre. Alright, I can't resist putting the sentence into perspective: A reservist from my unit was sentenced to 10 days detention barracks because he went for a canteen break during a turn-out. They rejected his mitigation that the canteen auntie took too long to make his coffee.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Listening to: I Idolize You - Ike & Tina Turner - Nutbush City Limits
S organised a drinks outing at where else because it is his birthday Wednesday. There's cause for celebration because he's the last of the Mochikens to get to Thirty. Would've been less raucous if not for the fact S and H decided out of curiousity to attempt the Monster Mug Challenge. They failed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The day that was

Listening to: Karaoke Queen - Catatonia - Equally Cursed & Blessed
I read in Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, 'it is easy to make any banal situation extraordinary if you treat it as fateful'. But life's little moments are always banal unless one treats it as fateful. Great epic adventures don't need a voice! Ordinary things do. So... today (Monday) I went to the gym, and who'd have thunk it? The twit my mates almost got into a biffo with was there, just as my mates descibed: In a very, very ugly neon (yes!) green tank-top, black basketball shorts, black socks (yes again) and black shoes. Seeing him as ugly as he was, there wasn't much else we could do except to do little things like dropping verbals here and there just within his earshot, being the childish little shits we were. Thankfully he was smart enough to leave the gym before we could lay on the really damaging sledging. (Another habit we've gleefully adopted from Australia, no doubt). Speaking of sledging ('trash=talking' for those more used to American sporting jargon), the Aussies are generally pretty slick, but they've been trumped by some gems from outside Australia: Australian bowler: How'dja get so fat, ya fat fuck? Zimbabwean batsman: Because every time I fuck your wife, she gives me a biscuit. The bowler conceded on the sledging front, and smiled at the batsman. But the Aussies are probably the masters at seemingly self-deprecatory sledging: Heckler at a beach charity event: Hey Merv, we've got crabs that run faster than you. Big Merv Hughes: So do I.

We once were you and me

Listening to: Positively 4th Street - Bob Dylan - Masterpieces (2)
It's not that I am not over you. I have been healthily over you for some years now. But you're getting married. I wish you well and all that. Your well-being is no longer in my realm. I once loved you. That love lasted forever. Forever came and went in five years, and I spent a little while trying to trace where I left from. Then I forgot. Then you called me one night and told me you were getting married, and for the first time in some years, I looked back and I saw where I came from. You once loved me. Your love lasted forever. The push and pull has not stopped. But it doesn't jolt me, it lulls. We might have been you and me once. And what wounds time heals, what kisses time also conceals. ~also posted on Twice-Poisoned Dog

Monday, May 17, 2004


Listening to: La Luna en Tu Mirada - Manuel Galbán/Ry Cooder - Mambo Sinuendo
Maximus Decimus Meridius, 2002-2004I had to get out of the house today, so I went and had dinner with a close friend, his brother and his mother. Then we went to his house and watched tv with his housemate, his boyfriend and his housemate's girlfriend. We watched Mars Attacks. It's been awhile since I've sat down and watched a whole show. It was good. My friend had Sunday night plans which I didn't want to be a part of. Centro on a Sunday night isn't my cuppa. I did agree to pre-Centro drinks at a new pub called Tantric (Is it you go there, they serve you beer but you don't drink only look and touch?) on Neil Road, in what's now apparently known as the Pink Triangle, or Tanjong Pa-Gay. It almost made me homesick for Sydney, as my friends warned me that I'd have to be gay-friendly to be there. It's not that they're hostile to straight guys. They'd just rather not have straight guys at the establishment. The owner of the club stopped by our table to chat, and asked one of the waiters to keep the door closed - we were on the front courtyard, and would've been facing the road if this had been a straight pub - because he didn't want any straight guys to wander down Neil Road, look inside, go, oh, there's a cool looking pub, and wander in. Tantric on Neil Road. Nice courtyard. Cheap drinks. $5 house pour all night.I didn't announce I was straight, though I think the owner would've sussed me out by then. Anyway, I just wanted to enjoy my beer, and it was a nice place to have one, even if the weather was a bit too hot - 34 degrees today I think - to be sitting in the courtyard. Company's always good, even when you don't really want to talk about your week. Beer helps a bit too. Life could be worse.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Love Letter

Listening to: Better Days - Bruce Springsteen - Greatest Hits
#$@! I'm not even getting paid for this shit, and you're putting fake mud on my face? For #@#$??As if I needed a pick-me-up. Checked the letter tray and found something addressed to me. But it had 'On Government Service' on the envelope, and had my rank before my name in full. Thankfully it wasn't another 'love letter', or SAF100. It was a brochure from the Army's 9th Division, telling me, Operationally Ready National Serviceman, that the National Servicemen Services Centre has gone totally 'E'. Everything will be electronic. The next call-up notice (which should be in July) will be disseminated via SMS, mobile phone voicemail, landline voice message, fax, three times a day until I acknowledge receipt. And I can check unit briefings and instructions on a new revamped one-stop web portal. So efficient, the bastards.

R.I.P. Max (Maximus Decimus Meridius) the Cat

Listening to: Across the Borderline - Freddy Fender - It'll Come to You: The Songs of John Hiatt
Max had been missing from the house for more than a day, which wasn't unusual. No one told me for fear I'd be in hysterics (!), and I've only just been informed after my nephew's birthday party. Someone had either killed Max, or saw Max dead, took the trouble of bagging him and putting him in the garbage bin outside. (One of our household saw the bag in the bin, and saw a bit of what was inside). I am flabbergasted.

Friday, May 14, 2004

There's a hooligan in every one of us

Listening to: Rhyfelgyrch Gwyrharlech (Men Of Harlech) - Welsh Male Voices - Very Best Of The Festival Of One Thousand Welsh Male Voices [UK]
Cheebye! Lie down some more!I didn't go to the gym yesterday because I was a little under the weather. And I missed the excitement (read: trouble) my mates got themselves into. Lately, because our mate S is back from Sydney for good, and he's brought back some good old fashioned Aussie values - such as 'a good punch never hurt anyone' especially when executed in the proper context, such as on the footy paddock, in the pub, outside the pub, inside the gym, outside the gym, hell, most anywhere, we've been doing the pub circuit, (watching) rugby, gymming, going shopping for clothes, looking for nice places to eat.... generally what the typical Aussie bloke would do on a weekend in Sydney. S and H were warming up on the treadmill, trying to run 3km in 10 minutes or something, and S started giggling quite audibly, as is his habit, because the telly in front of him was screening 'America's Funniest Home Videos' or something. The fella (according to H, late 30s, balding, unfit looking bastard) on the treadmill next to him shushed him quite loudly, and for some reason, S, who is usually pretty even tempered, took offence, turned to H and asked loudly, 'you mean you can't talk in the gym'? 30-something-bald-bastard responds, saying, 'yeah, go ask the instructor!'. S slams the emergency stop button on his mill, goes and seeks out the nearest instructor, who also happens to be the biggest bodybuilt monster, but who tells S, 'no, you can talk in the gym'. Vindicated somewhat, S gets back on his mill, tells Bald Bastard, 'it's ok to talk in the gym', looks at the speed he's running at, which is 8.9km/h, then announces to H, 'Come, let's warm up, AND MAKE SURE WE RUN FASTER THAN 9KM/H!' Bald Bastard gets worked up now, probably because he doesn't like the whole world to know he trundles at 8.9km/h for 20 minutes, and issues a challenge to S, 'You have a problem? Come, let's go outside and settle!' S of course accepts by slamming his emergency stop button again, and grabs his towel and says, 'SET, COME LAH! WHO SCARED WHO?'. It never eventuates into fisticuffs. Mr 8.9km/h knew better than to follow S outside. (What was funnier was that when S announced 'let's run faster than 9km/h' to H, the guy running next to H got alarmed, looked at H, looked at the odometer on H's treadmill, looked at H again, then looked straight ahead and continued trundling at a pace significantly less than 9km/h.) Still, I think we'd better watch ourselves. Maybe the Rugby-Curry-Beer-Gym thing is making our testosterone go through the roof. It becomes a dangerous combination when you're old enough not to run fast enough but you're still dumb enough to pick a fight.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Muthu's Fish Head Curry of Death

Listening to: Not Pretty Enough - Kasey Chambers - Barricades & Brickwalls
Ate to death again earlier this evening. We started the evening (late arvo) watching the rugby: RJC vs CJC and Millenia Institute (I shit you not) vs TJC. Both matches were at Farrer Park. Both matches were disappointing because of the mismatched abilities of the teams that played. RJC racked up cricket scores against CJC, while Millenia Institute walloped TJC (I shit you not once more). But this served to galvanise our intentions of playing again despite our advancing years and receding hairlines. We want to coach too. We want to pick a school and make them play good. Check back on this here blog to see if this idea, like all others, dies a natural death. Basin of fish head curry There was only one thing to do after the games. Eat. Follow the smell of curry carried by the hot wind, mixed with the evening traffic's exhaust fumes. And so we retreated to Muthu's Curry Restaurant on Race Course Road, and ordered just enough to eat ourselves to death. The highlight dish was obviously the fish head curry, which came in a basin large enough to wash your hands in, two at a time. It was tricky trying to make sure the curries didn't flow off the banana leaf mats we used for plates, even if the edges curved upwards to prevent most of it from overflowing onto the table and onto our laps. Cool stuff, hot curry. There was one error in judgement (besides ordering so much), and that was having Tiger beer with fish head curry. Doesn't go (besides the other go, later, at home). So now you know. Don't have Tiger beer with fish head curry.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Torture Singapore Style

Listening to: Jesus On The Mainline - Ry Cooder - Paradise and Lunch
It is a frikkin HOT day. Too hot to be moving heavy equipment to clients' premises, which is what me and my business associates did. It is a torture driving in Singapore, despite the fabulous road network that hasn't suffered a meltdown (yessss) due to the Nichol Highway collapse. It is so hot the car air-con doesn't help a tiny bit in stopping you from sloshing in your sweat. It musta been at least 35 degrees C. Speaking of Singapore, air-con and torture, I found an article about air-con torture. Faaaaar cry from the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal, but horrific in it's own bleeting way, nonetheless. I'm sure public outcry would have been far greater had there been pictures of some fuddy duddy democratic activist shivering in an air-con room in a well-appointed police facility.

Flashbacks R Me

Listening to: Half a Boy and Half a Man - Sleepy LaBeef - Labour Of Love - The Music of Nick Lowe
Thanks to several things that have happened in the past weeks: 1. That horrible incident in broad daylight, even if I wasn't there physically; 2. Reading a journal that is obsessed with the Balkans; 3. Lacking sleep due to work, the goddamned heat and an upset stomach; 4. A friend telling me my malaise is probably caused by post-traumatic stress not from 'the Army incident', but from 'the detention incident', I had several recollections of events that have affected me deeply, and which I still don't know how to make sense of. They seem distant enough to be almost locked away in the recesses of memory, but you know how memory works. Some items fade to black, you think, but they're replaced by your sub-conscious reconstruction. The mind's a powerful thing. I'm sitting on the floor at the entrance of Block A, shooting the breeze with a fellow detainee, and enjoying as much as I can, a mug of hot lipton tea. It's been several days since I've been detained, and my mind's gone into survival mode, so I'm pretty much doing alright. Mostly alright, apart from the dissipating mental shock at being detained, and a horrible rash from wearing the same clothes three days. I place my mug of tea next to me on the floor. It's a coldish morning, and there're no visitors allowed this morning due to the Amnesty International protestors causing a ruckus outside the fence. Doesn't matter. I've got my biscuits, cigarettes (some of which I've sold) and my mug of tea. It's still pretty crowded on the exercise yard, even with two detainees being released this morning. A couple of my new friends laugh as they race each other around the basketball court sized yard, so to prevent themselves from going stir crazy, so they tell me. From inside the block, there's sounds of things being thrown and dropped. Fight? Riot? There's a frightened voice shouting in a very unfamiliar language. Sounds Slavic. A figure in a leather jacket bursts out of the block's entrance, knocking into me and my mug of tea, and runs out to the far end of the yard. He's looking to escape, the bastard. His wild, wide eyes and foreign shouting makes me think twice about confronting him over spilling my tea. Three guards and a medical orderly bumble out after him onto the yard, telling him "Mate, calm down, mate, itsorright we're not gonna hurtcha". The foreign man in the leather jacket barks, points, looks around at the walls for a route, looking at the guards who edge closer. He barks again when they get to five yards of him. They pause. He stoops down, cups his right hand and scoops from the rainwater puddle and drinks. They pounce. There's a brief but noisy struggle. He's still yelling as the orderly plunges a syringe into his thigh. When he's finally subdued, they carry him off to the main building. That's the last we see of him. I'm rustled from my shock by flies settling on the biscuit crumbs around my mouth. Chatting with the guards later, I find out he's an asylum seeker and a refugee from the Balkan Wars. He's been through several refugee camps and detention centres. I'm rattled the rest of the day, which is very long, because days in detention are generally long. Visitors are still not allowed the next day because there's a full-scale riot. It is started by Mainland Chinese who pick a fight with the African boys, and stupidly. They are routed. Six of them are hospitalised with serious injuries. Everything within reach are used as weapons. Chairs and tables which were brought in the day before, because of the increased population, and which were not bolted down; sporting equipment like tennis racquets, snooker cues, and the Mainland Chinese weapons of choice - toothbrushes sharpened into spikes. They were serious about causing hurt, and this must have been some simmering feud that has gone on for a while, maybe a few months before I got there. This feud, and the ensuing fight, of course, escalated into a full-on, no-holds barred, prison riot, like the ones you see in the Chow Yun Fatt movies. Puddles of blood and small fires are all that remain after they hose everyone down and back into their cells. I was saved from harm - the African boys were after anyone looking Chinese - because I told the guards I didn't speak Chinese, and they put me with the African boys in their cell, and being the amiable person that I am, I made friends with all of them. I was further saved from harm by the fact that while the riot was in progress, I was in the cell trying to hide my biscuits, as a few days earlier, I had my Arnotts Family Variety pack stolen from me. I had thought the ruckus outside was a boisterous game of soccer. By the time I had run out to the yard (because my African friends asked me to run), the guards had suppressed the party pretty much. Saved by love of biscuits, lack of soccer interest, and being a friendly bloke. Life seldom gets stranger.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Pay it all over the place

Listening to: Space Oddity - David Bowie - The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974
Channel NewsAsia : One Deed, One Lifetime: "It can be something as concrete as giving a liver ". Are they not over the liver thing yet? And how is something 'as concrete' as giving a liver? Again I was unfortunate enough (or silly enough) to have left the telly on all day on CNA, where they periodically screen the promo for this community project, and feature CNA personalities such as Diana Ser telling you how, once, a long time ago, some uncle gave her pocket money to buy a bus concession pass to go to school, and how, because of that, she is now inspired by that uncle and obligated by her employers to 'pay it forward'. "Once, my boyfriend gave me half his liver because he couldn't finish it, and I really needed it, so today, I want to give someone some part of me that I don't use. Anyone has any need for a brain? Because I don't!" - an 'artiste'. (speaking of which, why is Singapore the only place that uses the term 'artiste'?) "Once, an old man I didn't know from fuck gave me fifty cents to buy an ice-cream sandwich because I kept staring at the uncle selling ice-cream sandwiches outside the Heeren. Now, whenever I can, I stand outside the Heeren throwing coins at passers-by, and I know they're happy because they give me little stickers in return".

Under Construction

Listening to: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds - The Beatles - 1967-1970 Disc 1
This is where I'd paste an 'Under Construction' icon, if I could be bothered to find one. But I can be bothered to post this notice saying that the new Blogger engine isn't very agreeable with my former template, causing all sorts of formatting disasters. Life could be worse. I'll be putting back all the lost items (though I don't think I'll restore my weather babe, she's quite pathetic).

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Hokkien Mee Sunday

Listening to: Steal My Kisses - Ben Harper - Burn to Shine [Australia Bonus CD]
Lunch wasn't all that bad this afternoon, although my brother and I were in danger of being ear-blasted off the table because we had both missed church. Thankfully, bro-in-law and sister decided it was a good day to fetch mother to and from church, so we were saved. They also arranged for Mothers' Day lunch at Beng Hiang Hokkien Restaurant on Amoy Street. They ordered the usual Hokkien staples - fish maw soup, hokkien mee (real one, the black type), sea cucumber with braised duck, steamed pomfret, and a partridge in a pear tree. This was finished off with a bowl of free fruit cocktail (pieces of cut fruit and ice cubes in sugar water). We were (I still am) quite full, so there was no post-lunch Sunday shopping, and besides, it was way too hot today. Walking from and to the car parked a block away was an arduous trudge. And so, I have nap time, which I will utilise soon. Not everyday is a Sunday, so I hijacked the family Sunday Times with a view to enjoying my favourite funny strips. They persist in featuring local and seriously unfunny comic strips which I always read first just so I get worked up enough to really appreciate the other non-pretender ones like Foxtrot, Bizarro, Baby Blues, leaving the very last strip (yes, I read them in a particular order) read to Get Fuzzy. OK, nap time.

Mother Day

Listening to: Walk Away - Pink - Try This
It's Mother's Day. And a 'Coin Pulse' (see phone cam pic of the week) is a cross between a coin purse and coin pouch. Or a coin-operated pacemaker. It is with great trepidation that I wake up this morning to see what my mother has planned for our collective guilty conscience. Church service, expensive lunch, a spot of shopping, listening to her gripe. I hope that is it. Whatever it is, goodbye Sunday afternoon nap.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Gripped by procrastination

Listening to: La Boheme: Che Gelida Manina - Andrea Bocelli - Aria: The Opera Album
Again, I have a ton of things to do. Again I am not doing them yet. I have been 'buggerising' on the net, as an erstwhile friend once put it. I've found this novel (to me) way of updating the phonecam pics. It's this nifty little thing called Phlogger, which allows you to post blog entries via SMS/MMS. Pretty nifty eh? Only thing is it's offered by a Singapore company, so the instructions are a little cryptic (though not half as bad as the Taiwanese or PRC ones). Took me the better part of an hour to fix it up though. Now to make instant noodles. And then maybe back to work.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Fucking construction noise

Listening to: Someone To Watch Over Me/I Got Rhythm - Stephane Grappelli - 85 And Still Swinging
view from my bedroom window. if you can see through the tree, you'll see the horrendous house the neighbours are building I live in a normally quite neighbourhood. It hasn't been normal since the property next door was purchased early last year. The new owners haven't moved in, but a battalion of construction workers representing the United Nations has been encamped since last April. The structure of the house they're building is almost complete. Too complete in fact, that they have been going berserk with jackhammers trying to trim it down, it seems. The jackhammers have been at it since 9am this morning, and it is severely curtailing my ability to work. (Contractors in Singapore are renowned for their ineptitude. We had one that was rebuilding the gate, and he put in a mail slot into the wall without building a way to get the letters out, and only realised it when I asked why he was building a time capsule). On top of the noise irritation, it is a mumfucking ugly house. It is humunganimous! Set on 50,000 sq ft of prime land and taking up most of it. It has faux roman columns, faux Georgian facade, faux hedgerow fence, and you know what type of people would design and build a house like that: Indonesian-Chinese with faux sense of style. They've been everywhere actually. There's another 50K sq ft property on the other side of my house which was purchased by one of these Indon Dongs, and they split the property into two, built two identical houses which look like the set of Gone With The Wind, live in one of them, and are still trying to lease out the other after a decade. Go back to Indonesssya! Megawati loves you! Promise you they won't kill Chinese, even if you like to flash your wealth and exploit the poor. Go back! Eh? The hammering's stopped. Thank God for the many tea-breaks in the Singapore work day. (Apparently the tea break saved lives when Nichol Highway collapsed, ya know?)


Listening to: Traum durch die Dammerung - Nai-Yuan Hu\Nelson Padgett - A chance of sunshine
My business associate: I keep remembering the weirdest shit about yesterday. I was trying to stop the blood gushing out his neck, and I looked up, and saw these two schoolgirls in uniform and they were giggling! I thought maybe it was an Asian thing, not knowing how to react appropriately... but this was bizarre. I mean... what do you do? The blood was sticking to my hands. Good thing it was raining. Managed to wash most of it off.... dunno if the boy died... I think he did. I think he bled out...his eyes were rolling... he was going into shock.... I mean... what do you do?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Welsh lullabye

Listening to: Argwydd Dyma Fi - Cerys Matthews - Cockahoop
My nerves are still rattled by this afternoon's incident, even if I wasn't physically there. I seem to be easily rattled these days. I normally eschew quoting lyrics. But this one's different. It's Welsh, and it's doing a darn good job of soothing my nerves, even if I don't know what the words mean. Mi glywaf dyner lais Yn galw arnaf i I ddod a golchi meiau Yn afon Calfari Arglwydd dyma fi Ar dy alwad di Canna fenaid yn y gwaed A gaed ar Galfari Yr Iesu sydd im gwadd I dderbyn gydai saint Fydd gobaith cariad pur a hedd A phob rhyw nefol fraint Arglwydd dyma fi Ar dy alwad di Canna fenaid yn y gwaed A gaed ar Galfari Cogoniant byth am drefn Y cymod ar glanhad Derbynia Iesu fel yr wyf A chanaf am y gwaed -Arglwydd Dyma Fi (traditional) - arr. Cerys Mathhews It's nice probably because: 1) It's Welsh 2) It's Country!!! (love ya Cerys, Country music Rocks (ummm...)). 3) It's putting me to sleep. Ya know, I probably could write a Welsh verse or twenty just by putting my palms across the entire computer keyboard. Try it. You know you wanna.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Let's see if they report this on the wires, or would this bring Singapore into disrepute?

Listening to: Cigarettes Will Kill You - Ben Lee - Breathing Tornados
Early this afternoon, my business associates were on the way to an appointment at a primary school when they encountered something quite horrible. They saw a young Malay man, possibly in his late teens, tearing down the street being chased by about five other Malay men carrying parangs. They caught up with their quarry and bludgeoned him. One of his fingers was lopped off, and he had several wounds to his arms and a very deep gash on his neck which was gushing blood. My business associates did what they could to stem the bleeding, and called the paramedics. Later, they wondered how there could be so many bystanders doing what Singaporeans do best - be bystanders.

Electrical storm

Listening to: I Still Call Australia Home - Peter Allen
There were at least 10 power outtages this morning. The new power board we installed last month obviously isn't working. Something is tripping the thing. I checked with my cat, and he isn't responsible this time. He's already used up 8 lives, so he isn't going anywhere near anything that looks like an appliance, including the wine fridge he usually adorns the top of. I'm thankful for my notebook and it's batteries. This is worse than getting hiccups (until I get the hiccups again). The internet goes on and off, and after half a dozen interrupted IM conversations, I am giving up. Maybe now I can get some work done.

Going to sleep as the sun rises

Progression of last night's eclipseApparently there was an eclipse of the moon early this morning. I was informed by a helpful friend via sms. I feigned disinterest, then rushed outside to take a look. Couldn't find it at first, then found it (the moon), then couldn't be bothered to wait for the show to finish, then went back indoors and expressed disinterest once more.
Listening to: All You Need Is Love - The Beatles

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Centre for Literary Arts and Publishing

Wanna be a writer? You've got to have The Clap. Yessirree, feel like you've got the Rangoon Itch and need to show the rest of the world? Might as well get The Clap! Singapore's obsession with acronyms has really scraped the bottom of the barrel and come up with dirty fingernails now. (A friend once thought IDA (Infocomm (abbreviate some more lah) Development Authority) stood for ministry of Information & De Arts! ) Not only that. The blurb on The Clap's website says: "Welcome to CLAP – Centre for Literary Arts and Publishing. CLAP is the training arm of the National Book Development Council of Singapore, dedicated to upgrading professionals in publishing and the literary arts. CLAP aims to deliver quality programmes that are relevant to the industry. Our programmes are planned in consultation with key members of the industry." [Several National keywords unused: "Grassroots", "Heartland", "Community", "Tripartism", amongst others.] The Clap leh! How like that? Must see doctor or not?

Dark days

There are still some things I find difficult to write. I am trying to now again, because again, I'm hearing the voices of those who were concerned about me richocheting about in my head. It's all in your mind. You just have to get over it. Medication doesn't help. Take for what? There's nothing wrong with you. Get over it! [zero-niner to all stations zero niner, no-duff casualty...] Nup. Still can't do it, though I've managed to tell versions of it to so many friends over the years. Get a grip. There's nothing you can do about it, so don't waste your time.

Monday, May 03, 2004

String pulling

I just had a most fabulous business meeting at a primary school which is hiring my company. I found out in advance that the principal was formerly a teacher at ACS, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to mention that I, too, was from ACS. Bingo. She made coffee, offered me biscuits and before she even formally agreed to a deal, was already trying to arrange the details of how we were to deliver our services. Not everyday is an ex-ACS-teacher-auntie-make-coffee-and-sign-on-dotted-line-day. Especially not Mondays. Morning, some more. Is good.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Hwyl brain cells, hwyl

After suffering terminal boredom for most of the night, looking through my extensive MP3 collection and sending some songs to a similarly nocturnal net addict, I developed breakfast cravings. Dim sum. Yum Cha. Somehow, with backside stuck firmly to antique chair, instead of going to the kitchen, I googled siew mai, Shw Mae, and xiumai. Shw Mae (pronounced xiumai) is an informal greeting in Welsh! I now have a new pet foreign language. Hopefully I'll learn the rudimentary phrases better than when I attempted Korean and abandoned it after I realised I couldn't fool everyone by ending every sentence with imnida or hamnida. I'll probably end up greeting my half-welsh cousins with 'Har Gow' instead of Shw Mae. But being half-chinese, they'd probably understand anyway.


Mum made the ingredients for popiah on Friday night so we'd have popiah lunch on Saturday. She made so much we had popiah in the morning, and in the afternoon, popiah in the evening and probably tomorrow too...