Sunday, October 31, 2004

Motor Morons' Motoring Weekend

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Being With You - Smokey Robinson - Billboard Top Hits: 1981, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
No, I didn't go watch the rugby or the wakeboarding this weekend, because every time I looked out the window, it looked like it was gonna rain chubby rain. What I did instead was a spot of retail therapy with a friend who's looking to buy a car. Because this was the first time either of us were looking at showroom cars (as opposed to caryard ones), we were very excited. We collected half a dozen brochures before we mustered enough courage to ask for a test drive. Yes, me and my friend are what you would call Motor Morons. Very tiring weekend, but here's our Motor Moron Motor Review: Chevrolet Aveo: Not a good feel at all. Horrible interior with plastic trimmings that look like Airfix parts. (In fact, the drinks-holder fell apart because the airfix glue never glue properly). The doors were tinny-sounding when you closed them. Two thumbs down. Mitsubishi Lancer: Looked pretty alright from the outside, though a bit 'Beng/Lian'. The inside was a bit outdated, with the instrument cluster looking like something from the early 90s. The ride was pretty smooth, and we didn't bang anything or what, even if it was our first time driving it. We even went into a road hump pretty hard, and the car still stayed together like a dream. Not a peep from the salesman either. In the lobby of the showroom was a 'Ralliart' version of the Lancer. My brother (who's not a Motor Moron, but likes to make fun of Motor Morons) says I should get it, so I look like I have a sports car, though it won't drive like one. Apparently there's something called the Evil Eight or something version of the Lancer that the Bengs and their molls can't get enough of. Now, that's a sports car, says my brother. My brother also says Mitsubishi is coming up with a 'new shape' for the Lancer, so don't buy a Lancer now. But the Lancer comes with a Sony or Kenwood car stereo that plays MP3 discs leh. One thumb up, one thumb down. Toyota Vios: We didn't get to test drive this car because the showroom was chockers with people looking to buy cars, and the salesman said 'How to test drive, see how crowded it is?'. Minus 20,000 points. But the Vios is pretty neat, with the instrument cluster in the middle of the dashboard, tilted towards the driver so the driver can still see how fast he or she is going. But there's still too much of that fake wood veneer panelling thing going on, and that makes it look a little dated. The doors shut pretty nicely though. One thumb up, one thumb down (for impatient salesman). Mazda 3: We already liked the look of the Mazda 3, and we were attended to by a woman called Rosie, and she could tell at once that we were Motor Morons. (There was that glint in her eye while we had that glaze in ours). Rosie was pretty good at convincing us that the Mazda 3 was the best car in its class, even if it was $10-15K more expensive than other compact sedans. It was pretty crowded at the showroom too, but Rosie managed to get us a yellow Mazda 3 to play around with. The ride was pretty good, and we weren't at all distracted by Rosie talking non-stop while we negotiated the weekend afternoon traffic. The car's interior is very stylo-mylo, and it has one of those nifty steering wheel controlled stereo systems. And when we were done with our test drive, we closed the doors and there was a very satisfying 'clump' sound as they shut. Mmmm. Not tinny. Rosie carried on talking about which model we should buy, as if we were already set on buying one. 'Don't buy the RS! What for? Sports package make the car very heavy! $5,000 more to make the car drink more petrol! No point lah!', she said. Two thumbs up. Next week: Test driving cars I cannot afford.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Chopsticks Olympics

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Working Class Hero - John Lennon - Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
I've had a string of bad days work and otherwise. There were hours where I couldn't make heads or tails of what I was supposed to be doing. But there were breaks, thankfully, and one of the breaks was spent having lunch with my father. Good thing my father's the quiet sort, and to most other observers, inscrutably so. You can almost hear his brain ticking, but ticking about what, you don't know. I reckon the ticking these days is mostly about trying to figure out how to control his fine motor movements. I was mesmerised again by his determined use of chopsticks to pick up peanuts from a plate while we lunched at a Chinese restaurant near the office we share. He zig-zagged the chopsticks towards the plate, hovering over the plate for about half a minute before catching a peanut. Then he shuffled the other peanuts on the plate while trying to get the chopsticks to grip the one peanut. After another half minute, the payload secured, he zig-zagged the chopsticks and peanut towards himself, and juuuuust as the peanut was about to get to his mouth, his grip loosened and the peanut dropped onto the floor. And then he started all over again. Thankfully, the food we ordered arrived soon after, so he only had two attempts at the peanut picking chopsticks Olympics.

Friday, October 29, 2004

This Sporting Life*

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Prelude To A Kiss - Duke Ellington - This Is Jazz (Volume 7), of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
This weekend promises to be a sporting weekend. There are three major events on this our little island. There's the 57th Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens at the Padang, the Wakeboarding World Cup at Bedok Reservoir, and the Corporate Triathlon at wherever it is they hold triathlons. I want to watch the SCC Sevens because I haven't watched one in ages. It's a palatable rugby carnival for non-rugby nuts, given the simplified 7-a-side format (as opposed to 15s), with a picnic atmosphere. It used to be an even more picnicky event, with the old Satay Club across the road from the Padang. This year, as with previous years, rugby clubs from around the world will compete in games lasting a maximum of twenty minutes, so spectators would be able to watch a dozen games in a day. I remember playing for college in the schools section (Sithawalla & John Clarke trophies) of the competition, and waiting behind the goal posts for the opposing team to kick one of their many conversions, and hearing my stomach growl when I smelled the satay from across the street. Then when the opposing team's player kicked the conversion, one of us would have to run across the road, dodging traffic, to pick up the ball from the Satay Club. Once a while, an unfortunate Vespa rider would get knocked off his scooter by the ball. Oh, and there'll be lots of beer, and lots of female spectators accompanying those banking industry type blokes who are happy to have them accompany the beer, even if they keep asking a lot of dumb questions like why the referee stops the game when the ball is dropped forward by one of the players. Rugby nuts (like myself) like to repeat the silly slogan that Rugby is the Game They Play In Heaven, and rugby at the Padang comes close. All sporting events should be like that, in the midst of the bustle of the city, as if to show that life doesn't have to stop for sport, because sport is part of life. It's a pity they've not played the National Schools Rugby Championships at the Padang for a decade now. It used to be so grand with City Hall and the Supreme Court across from the main field, and St Andrews Cathedral down the road a little. We'd get stage fright just taking the field. There'd be office workers and other passers by stopping to watch for a bit, sometimes staying the whole game. There'd be people in double decker buses pointing and sometimes cheering. So distracting, so exciting. What's even better about this year's SCC Sevens is that my favourite rugby club in the whole wide world, Randwick, is competing for the first time in several years. Randwick is the suburb I lived in in Sydney, and the club's home ground is just as unassuming - one block, one patch of grass next to McDonald's Coogee Beach. No fences, no stadium, and no lights. I used to walk from my apartment to watch them play Saturdays (until I had to play for my own club on Saturdays), their first-grade team bristling with players who represented Australia as well, and you were so close to the field could almost touch them. *** The Wakeboarding World Cup will also be watched by banking industry blokes accompanied by female spectators asking silly questions, and I might join them in asking silly questions. I've not watched wakeboarding before, much less participated as a wakeboarder. I hear so much about wakeboarding from my friends who remain surprised I don't wakeboard. Before that, I always thought being dragged around behind a boat only happened in accidents. I might just pop by to take a look, and then decide whether to get some of my chio gerfrens to teach me to wakeboard, much the same way they taught me to play pool. *** Triathlon? Fun to watch meh? Stand in one place and everyone either cycles, runs or swims past you, depending on where you're standing. *** I think there's only enough of the weekend to catch two out of three, and you know which two I'll be going to watch. *This Sporting Life stars Richard Harris, who in real life played rugby for Munster before a severe bout of TB halted his sporting life and he took up acting. Harris resumed his playing career in 2002.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The death penalty's got nothing to do with soccer

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Flame trees - Jimmy Barnes - Flesh and Wood, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
I went and bought The New Paper today at the petrol station because I had already read the Straits Times this morning. There were 64 pages in today's edition, 10 of which were soccer-related. The rest were ring-tone or chatroom ads. The 5 or so pages of news covered some international events (Thai Death Trucks) and some local ones (Hougang housewife finds 20 parangs outside flat - woo hoo. windfall; He finds sex scenes in Jurong library video - score!). Since people who buy and read the New Paper regularly almost always watch the English Premier League and already know what's happened the previous night in soccer, they must sometimes read the news and find some things actually newsworthy, even if the items are sensationalised to the point of being offensive. Actually, no, I think they must keep reading because it's been sensationalised to the point of being offensive. We all are quite like that sometimes. Things can be so bad they become compelling. So, if New Paper journalists can dig up stories like the Hougang Housewife (My word! What drama! Imagine what the parangs were stashed away for!), surely they would want to dig up some other obscure story, for to titillate the masses. My suggestion today for an obscure, but nonetheless titillating story, would be headlined: Death penalty, a warden's story The warden would then describe to the journalist what he usually sees at a prison execution by hanging:
When the trap springs the prisoner dangles at the end of the rope. There are times when the neck has not been broken and the prisoner strangles to death. His eyes pop almost out of his head, his tongue swells and protrudes from his mouth, his neck may be broken, and the rope many times takes large portions of skin and flesh from the side of the face that the noose is on. He urinates, he defecates, and droppings fall to the floor while witnesses look on... A prison guard stands at the feet of the hanged person and holds the body steady, because during the last few minutes there is usually considerable struggling in an effort to breathe.*
Sensational, no? Goes well with the Straits Times and other media outlets carrying campaigns to make the public more understanding so former prisoners can be employed and be given a second chance, no? Even better if they get the New Paper's artist to sketch pictures of the condemned prisoner shitting himself, just as they sketched pictures of people suffocating in the 'Thai Death Trucks' in today's edition. Get to it, you New Paper reporters! Sensational scoop! State-sanctioned horrible death! *p87, The Justice Game, Geoffrey Robertson QC, 1999 Vintage Books Photo by Brad Michael Moore

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Mr Miyagi's Merchandise

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Piki Mai - Kiri Te Kanawa - Maori Songs, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
In light of recent media attention, I've been asked many questions, pressing questions, to which I don't yet have answers. Why do you blog? must rate as one of the frequently unanswered ones, as I have no freaking idea. And the hastily scripted 'is there a social conscience purpose to your blog' question made me think real hard about whether I have any social conscience apart from saying yes when the local vagrant calls me Uncle and asks me whether he can have one of my cigarettes. I've been marked by him. He stakes out the coffeeshop looking for me to arrive, then comes out from behind the pillar puts two fingers to his lips and says, Uncle, Hoon Kee. Call me Uncle and I will kill you slowly by giving you cigarettes. 'Do you get paid because you're getting quite popular?', asks a particularly money-minded (in a good way) friend. 'Dude, you should make some money outta this', says Cowboy Caleb. 'It's not selling out, it's selling in', he adds. To heck with social conscience! I will sell in! Scroll down the sidebar and see the first three items in Mr Miyagi's merchandise catalogue! Quality stuff, guaranteed. More stuff coming soon: Miyagi Mug for Orange Mocha Frappucino, small miyagi cup for Double Macchiato, Ultra-portable Miyagi Catch Fly Personal Chopsticks for Bee Hoon..... Adidas Miyagi

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Vartever it is, it's werry good

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Even Better Than The Real Thing - U2 - The Best & The B-Sides Of 1990-2000 (Disc 1: The Best Of), of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
One of the things Diana Ser asked me which didn't make the final cut of the Get Rea! interview was 'where do you get your cues or topics to blog about?', and I answered, 'dunno, reading and watching the news'. She then pounced with a well anticipated 'Ah hah! So! The new media still has to take its cues from traditional media!' Yeah vartever! But I do read and watch the news, trawl blogs, site counters and search engines, and on occasion, google my own blog for interesting references that turn up once a while (but only on occasion, because there's only so much you want to know about Pat Morita). And this morning was no different. From this blog, I read with much mirth the opening paragraph to this one entry from another:
...blame third world education for my terrible english (it seems like an idea for a bad sitcom: let's throw in a bunch of brown kids, and have a brown teacher who has learnt english from ANOTHER brown teacher, teach all these li'l brownies some english. i mean really, it's like a gora trying to teach another gora some urdu. do you know that we were never taught how to pronounce V or W? it was always wan and wery and vhere and VHAT?! i just got it right a couple of years back but i still trip over wanessa villiams - bitch came up with a name like that just to make life difficult for us brownies).
Hee hee! Let's go to Welwet! Let's drive a Wolwo! In other news, Karen Cheng is preggers with baby #2! Congratulations! If ever you move to Singapore, free lessons for your kids! Orange Mocha Frappucino?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Vaguely gay recluse

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Bonde - Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder - Talking Timbuktu, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
Some angry young woman thinks I look vaguely gay on TV, and I wasn't even having a double mac or an Orange Mocha Frappucino.
3) The only Blogger who claimed to address social issue [sic] looked suspiciously like a recluse. 4) Not only that, he looked vaguely gay.
In the post immediately prior, she's just watched that Get Rea! episode and she's very riled up by what she sees and hears, much like how other angry young women get very, very riled up when they watch Singapore Idol because the judges are so stupid and gay and the contestants so untalented how dare they even audition for the show et cetera ad nauseum.
···Yes, blogging in Singapura is a disappointment. Even the more well-known blogs here are nothing but a big fat flop. All they do is ramble about their personal lives, which to me, is all wrong. Nobody wants to hear the brain-numbing details. Sometimes, I'm tempted to simply take down my photo log because it dangerously adds personality to this blog. It makes it more human. Wouldn't it be better overall if I was blogging without a face? If I had no human personality attached to me? I would be nothing but a voice. Somehow, I suspect that putting up my pictures attracts trolls. They're able to attach a face to a voice, and face it, trolls are usually so stupid they can't identify a voice without a face.
Luvvie, it's a teevee show, and it's called Get Rea! They shoulda interviewed you instead, because you have more of an agenda than anything I'd ever be able to muster. But what to do? I mingle with the glitterati and Diana Ser has my mobile number.
···Another Blogger told us that the quality of blogging here is seriously bad. Tell me something I don't know, mister. And why didn't he share his blog address? I'm curious to see how hot shot a social commentator he is.
Be curious no more, for I am not a commentator of any sort. And I tried my darndest to 'share my blog address', but it just so happened that the show had people called producers to edit the one hour interview and left the important bit out. For social commentary, go to Mr Brown's. He's well-known, big and a little fat (my age liao mah), but definitely no flop by any measure. Still, thank you. Better to look vaguely gay than vaguely straight. Orange Mocha Frappucino for everyone! (Nabeh... simi recluse? I have lotsa friends ok?)

Sunday, October 24, 2004


iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: I Can't Wait - John Hiatt - Walk On, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
You go on a trip thinking it will recharge your batteries, and that you'll come back refreshed and ready for work. No lor. I am crabby as hell. I've not figured out which is the right side of the bed to wake up on in the last three days, and judging by the way things are, I'm not likely to be as chirpy as a Valuair cabin crew member any time soon. Unfortunately, the number of profanities I've been churning out in long sentences has increased dramatically as well. Especially when driving. Just now, I honked at a taxi and cursed him and three generations of his descendants, that they'd fucking end up fucking driving fucking taxis for the fucking rest of their fucking lives. [Translated and paraphrased from the Hokkien/Cantonese by Mr Miyagi's long-suffering muse/secretary]. By the time I finished the rant, I had driven from Orchard Boulevard to Holland Village, where another taxi cut into my lane and caused me to brake hard and curse long again. Feeling just as crabby was my friend whose pile of university assessment markings was finally toppling over. She sent me an SMS asking if I knew what one student meant by a 'splittering [sic] and drastic sound'. I replied, pronto, 'that is the sound your grandmother makes when she falls down the stairs'. 'There is one thing that I cannot lend....' Reviews of 2046: Cowboy Caleb So Oddly Dreamlike Evie

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Declining magic carpet rides

iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Song Sung Blue - Neil Diamond - Stones/Moods, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.
Double Mac by Illy CoffeeA double macchiato and a club sandwich, not toasted, please. A double Mac and a club sandwich. To have here? Yes please. Then I collect my food and beverage and plonk myself at one of the tiny round tables (known as a tablet) at Starbucks at the World Trade Centre Shopping Mall in Causeway Bay. I've got a couple of hours between the ex's tea ceremony and the marriage solemnisation at Cotton Tree Drive, and I need to fire off work emails on my notebook. This slowpoke notebook takes ages to start up, and even longer to log on to the PCCW wireless hotspot service. And when I'm finally logged in, someone is peering over my shoulder and asking me, You're not local, are you? Erm, no. How can you tell? (While thought bubble is saying, 'That's cos I'm bloody speaking Engrish'). 'Cos you're different. Locals are not like that. OK. Where are you from? London? Erm, no. Singapore. Business? No, Economy. Hahaha. Hahaha. Thought bubble: Wah lao. Gaydar redline already still can make joke! Stop it! Later go toilet kenah molest! The Starbucks barista could possibly just have been trying to be friendly, and maybe I was a little tired. Tiredness makes me a little paranoid. So maybe he wasn't trying to chat me up, and the old gaydar could have done with a little fine-tuning. Growing up in the company of gay men, and being generally gay-friendly still doesn't make me comfortable with being approached by gay men. But I have to admit to being flattered when I am actually propositioned. (Being propositioned by either gender, however, doesn't happen very often, you see.) Most approaches can be handled managed by a simple, 'Dude you are barking up the wrong tree'. More aggressive approaches, however, require a more defensive stance. Especially when the approacher says something stupid like, 'you sure you never been curious'? There was however, one incident in a gay club (that is no more) in Singapore, where a very attractive woman approached me, announced she was a lesbian, and whispered in my ear that she always fantasized about having sex with a gay man, and asked if I was available. All I remember was that my brain short-circuited, and it was possibly the only moment in my life where I contemplated selling out my fierce heterosexuality, even if it was just so I could get some straight sex. Meanwhile, back at Starbucks: Doing work? Yeap. OK, I'll leave you and your double Mac alone. Thought bubble: Jia lat! Is a Double Macchiato a gay beverage? But I like Double Macs. Fuck! Must change drink liao. Orange Mocha Frappucino. Hee Hee Hee! Causeway Bay It's so crowded, you accidentally turn gay also you dunno.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Causeway Bay

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: Feels like home - Bonnie Raitt - Michael: Music from the Motion Picture
I feel like the guy in Lost in Translation. I feel like the guy in The Notebook. I feel like the guy in In The Mood For Love. I feel like the guy in 2046. There was a point during my stay in Hong Kong that I wondered if I would feel like myself, or some semblance of what I thought I was. Then I thought, wah lao, damn cock lah! And I went out of the Wong Kar Wai flat, took the lift downstairs and shopped, ate, walked around, and mostly felt un-lost around Causeway Bay, Admiralty, Central and Lan Kwai Fong. There were things to do: Helping the ex buy her accessories for her wedding costumes. There were things to eat: An aunt in Hong Kong took me to dinner, and it was one of those eat to death hotpot places. There were people to meet: Cowboy Caleb was in town also, so we went and tried to drink Lan Kwai Fong dry, but the bugger cannot drink and neither can I; and there was Lucy my friend the bored housewife who doesn't mind a drink or two. Then there was the grandest, most beautiful wedding I have ever attended, and appropriately so. Then in the cab on the way back to the ex's apartment in Causeway Bay, everything looked like something from Chungking Express. Rear Window View from the shoebox apartment, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. The ex held the lease for two more months so I could stay for six days last week and save money on a hotel room.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Nabeh, five minutes of Miyagi only!

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: If I Were You - Kasey Chambers - Barricades & Brickwalls
I rushed home from Hong Kong to watch CNA and saw my shiny forehead on TV for five minutes. Wah lao! IMG_0691.JPG Meow Cafe, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Wish you were here

becodasflores2 Taipa Island, Macau

Eating to death in Macau

There are few things for a tourist to do in Macau. These are gambling, whoring, eating and walking around looking at Portuguese colonial ruins. There wasn't much time in my day trip from Hongkers, so I ate and walked around looking at Portuguese colonial ruins. And they are really old ruins too, seeing as the Portuguese had already set up a trading colony on this little outcrop of the Pearl River Delta by the 16th century. By the 1840s however, the Portuguese were waning as a colonial power, and focus shifted east to Hong Kong, where your first ferry services already operated on a daily basis, with fast multi-oared craft known as centipedes plying the route between British Hong Kong and Portuguese Macao. Apparently, gambling, whoring, eating and walking around looking at Portuguese colonial ruins were the things to do then as well. Today, I took the Turbojet operated by the Shun Tak China Travel Ship Management Limited from Chinese Hong Kong to Chinese Macao. Upon landing at the ferry terminal, I was not so much accosted by touts and peddlers offering all sorts of tourist activities on all forms of transportation - trishaws, buses, taxis and pirate taxis - than whispered at. The Macanese authorities must have clamped down on such things. I whispered back at the touts and jumped into a taxi and asked to be taken to St. Paul's, you know, that Portuguese colonial ruin that everyone poses in front of to take a picture with? St Paul's facade (which is the only thing left of St Paul's) looks over the city of Macau from the top of Rua de Santo Paolo, which really is a bunch of steps they recently re-paved. It was a little too sunny for my liking, so I didn't stay long after taking a few shots and trying to listen to a tour guide explaining things in Mandarin to a bunch of Chinese tourists. I managed to comprehend something about a fire and many people die and fire and only the front is left, something something. My handy map (you can get this from the ferry terminal) did tell me to select Hutchison Mobile on my mobile so I could #83 SEND and REPLY #8324 and wait for a recorded message to tell me how St Paul's was left with only its facade. I only managed a #83 SEND, then ERROR dunnowhat, before I made my way up some more steps to the Forteleza Monte (where I could also have #83 SENT). The fort is home to an artillery battery that used to protect Macau by firing its big cannons over the city and into the harbour, hopefully hitting some Dutch and Spanish ships wanting to have a piece of Macanese action. Then I remembered I hadn't had breakfast, so I traipsed down the Rua de Santo Paolo to eat some Macanese food in town. Before I got to the town centre proper, I passed by a whole row of confectioners, all touting themselves as the original purveyors of Macanese confectionery such as egg rolls, egg rolls with seaweed, egg rolls with pork floss, egg rolls with peanuts and those delightfully shiny and translucent tiles they call pork lard candy. I accepted samples of the egg rolls from every shop along the way, declining only the pork lard candies. Some of the quieter shops were quite aggressive in shoving samples into your hand, sometimes grabbing your hand and putting an egg roll or two in it, and then looking at you quizzically when you don't go, 'mmmm', and ask 'gei dor cheen yat hup' and buy three boxes for your mother-in-law. I was quite full by the time I got to what I thought was the centre of town. It wasn't the centre of town, and there weren't that many restaurants around, and I was beat. So I settled for one of those ubiquitous cafes and had a distinctly non-Macanese brunch of Beef Innard Noodles in Soup (Ngau Chaap Tong Meen), after which, I looked at the map and decided to walk around looking for more Portuguese colonial ruins. I ran through another array of confectioners down another Rua. But this time, they were peddling bean-flour cookies, bean-flour cookies with seaweed, bean-flour cookies with pork floss, bean-flour cookies with almonds and peanuts and plain egg rolls. I ate one sample of each and was sufficiently weighed down to want to stop for a much needed coffee, and I was much pleased when I found I was on Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, which in Chinese, is simply called 'Xin Ma Lu', or New Road. This avenida leads to the harbour, where the kitsch-looking Casino Lisboa sits. So there'd be many cafes and restaurants along the way, so I thought. Nup. Just the one cafe, and many, many more confectioners. This thoroughfare is quaint, though, with its two crowded lanes carrying the type of buses I haven't seen in Singapore since the 70s. So cute. So I took many photos. After my coffee break at the cafe (which also sold egg rolls and bean-flour cookies), I made my way down towards the harbour, and passed Senado Square, where there were more tourists milling around an ordinary looking fountain, taking turns to pose for photographs. By the time I got to the Casino Lisboa, I was tired enough not to want to even venture inside the gambling hall. Instead, I waited in the taxi queue for a cab, which there were many, but they seemed to keep dropping off very 'glamourous' looking young Chinese women, and then pick up other 'glamourous' looking young Chinese women who had no qualms about jumping queue. When I finally got into a cab by uncharacteristically jumping queue, I was zipped across the skinny bridge spanning the strait between the Macanese peninsula and Taipa Island. All I said to the cab driver was 'I want to eat water crab porridge because my friend says I should eat water crab porridge in Macau'. The cabbie dropped me off at the entrance to a pretty little enclave in Taipa, and told me to look for the water crab porridge place inside. So I went and looked. There were more confectioners and more egg rolls and cookies to be had until I finally came to a brightly lit restaurant with pictures of Andy Lau, Leslie Cheung and a slew of other Hongkie celebrities, dead and alive, all smiling over their porridges. This had to be it. I asked for three of their signature dishes, and was told these were the Water Crab Porridge, the Steamed Eel with Black Bean Paste, and the Deep Fried Fish Balls. Within a minute, a large basin of orange congee with a crab's shell and bits of claw peeking from under was placed on my table. The Eel and Fish Balls came soon after. I was about to eat myself to death. The porridge is sinfully tasty, if you like the taste of crab and crab roe, that is. A large amount of roe is mixed into the rice porridge, which gives the congee its colour. The Fish Balls weren't too bad either, and they had bits of fish meat sticking out of it. (Think of really good otak, only rounder, and you get the picture). The Eel dish wasn't too pleasant, but mostly because there were too many bones to pick out from between my teeth. Still I managed to down most of the stuff on the table, thinking that if I really ate till I burst, they'd probably take a picture and put it next to Leslie Cheung's. The rest of the evening was quite a blur as I stumbled back to the main avenido, eating more confectionery samples along the way, and was convinced by one of the spruikers to buy two tubs of bean-paste cookies to eat on the boat back to Hong Kong, no matter if I was burping crab roe the whole Turbojet ride. Information: Estabelecimento de Comidas Seng Cheong Rua do Cunha, Taipa, Macau SAR $$ (HKD 200 for three dishes like above) Food: Not Bad. Chill factor: N/A Other foods to try and buy in Macau: Macanese version of Cincalok and Belacan (Macau, Malacca, same, same); Oyster sauce; Pork Chop Sandwich.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Smiles Ahead your backside lah!

You cannot script chirpiness. Someone tell Valuair quick. You do not try to be chirpy in the in-your-face chirpiness way to someone who obviously isn't in the mood for it at 7am in the morning. You could flash a tit or two at him and his mood still wouldn't lift. Good morning! Wow, not enough sleep huh?, said one of the cabin crew to an obviously sleep deprived passenger trying to find his seat. One day, some Valuair crewmember is gonna get a coupla tight slaps from a grumpy passenger. It isn't that the crew members come across as being insincere. On the contrary, they all seem outlandishly enthusiastic. Dressed in their regulation polo tees, khaki chinos and sneakers, the crew look and sound like reserve members of a junior college cheerleading squad. You know, those that cannot quite make it, but are given a berth because of their 'spirit'? Someone even told me about a 'singing stewardess' on a Valuair flight to Bangkok, but thankfully, she doesn't sing this leg. Nothing worse than turbulence combined with mile high karaoke. Thank you for choosing to fly with Valuair, if you're going to leave any of your belongings behind, please ensure that it is something we like. And that's just one of the many scripted lines the crew with the chirps have to recite. And so, the Happy Shiny Airline with Happy Shiny Crew but grumpy passengers took me on my first trip out of Singapore since February, my first trip to Hong Kong in three years and hopefully, my first real break from work. Things already bode well. I fell asleep before take-off, and again right after my in-flight fried Bee Hoon breakfast. montagevaluair copy

Friday, October 15, 2004

They're gonna need subtitles because I mumble

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: How Deep Is the Ocean - Ella Fitzgerald - Quiet Now: Ella's Moods
You cannot anyhowly shoot an interview at Suntec City. You have to ask the management for permission, and then they will say no. Because cannot. So, the producer, host and crew of Get Rea! have to settle for filming inside Cafe Cartel at Suntec, because the producer knows the owner and there's wireless internet access there for me to pretend to blog. Diana Ser and the crew look hassled, as they've had to rush from another shoot, and want to make this one a quick and painless one. I assure them I'd make it a quick and painless one because I have nothing much to say. Diana buys me an iced tea, they set up the shoot inside the cafe and we're off on the first question: So why did you decide to blog? Mr Miyagi then suffers the worst case of verbal diarrhea known to humankind. Terminal Verbal Diarrhea. Can talk everyone and himself to death one. Worse still, Mr Miyagi make no sense. Same goes for the other questions. Then Diana suddenly motions to the camera guy to cut. And I am then told to stop talking about Mr Brown as if I have a crush on him. I say it's because Mr Brown is an institution, man, doncha know? And they tell me, yeah, well, that's nice and all, but we couldn't get him on the show, so don't talk about him so much. Then the rest of the interview went something like this: Have you ever had to self-censor or edit your posts for fear of offending people? I contemplated editing posts about Channel Newsasia and Diana Ser speaking funny on tv, but didn't. OK, you better show me what you wrote. The other bloggers we interviewed weren't like their blogs. They were very diplomatic and even shy. What are you trying to say? IMG_0671.JPG Nice quiet place for a tv interview. Try it sometime.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Live on Channel Newsasia

Here I am at Suntec, writing a fictitious entry on this here blog on this here computer. Hello world. It's very hot to be sitting out here trying to work and be filmed at the same time. So this is what it feels like to be Diana Ser. Apparently this episode airs next Wednesday and repeats are telecast in the evenings and on the weekend, so Diana says. There's a camera in my face. I cannot blog.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Place your ad now! Hurry!

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby? - Dinah Washington - Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 15: Wild Cool & Swingin' Too
Channel Newsasia did call back. We're scheduled to do an interview tomorrow afternoon, and I have to bring my laptop to a cafe with a wireless hotspot so I can show this here blog and some others I have a habit of clicking on. Note to self: Permanently delete all porn from laptop. Because of the short notice, I can't receive any artwork for ads, but am willing to use a marker pen to scribble your company slogan on my t-shirt for money. Premium space still available on my headgear, wristband and spectacles. Anyone has any idea when and what time Get Rea! airs? I can't wait to see how stupid I look and sound on the telly. For all the nasty things I've said about CNA, they're gunnawanna edit the piece for optimum effect. Die liao! But so fun, so fun, so fun.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Mr Miyagi can catch fly with chopstick, can shoot himself in the foot

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It) - Nina Simone - Anthology: The Colpix Years
So this arvo, I get a phone call from Diana Ser who says, eh, Hossan tells me you have a blog. I say 'yah', and she asks if it's a personal/private blog or a public one. I get confused and say it's a bit of both but everybody can read one. She says Get Rea! (no 'L', hor. It's Get Rea. Who's Rea? Get her for what?) is doing a piece on blogging. I tell her Channel i already do liao. She says she knows, but she wants to cover the 'serious side of blogging', and has already contacted this much loved blogger. I ask if she's contacted Mr Brown, she says she tried but he's out of town. So I ask how I might be able to help, and she passes the phone to the producer who asks me what my blog is about, and I mumble something something personal something social issues something glossed over something humour something. Then I give them my blogspot address and they say they'll get in touch with me. I don't think myveryownglob will be featured in the piece, seeing as, well, hallo? You can tell me what this blog is about meh? They'll be looking through this blog though, and I contemplated 'editing' some posts, especially those that feature Channel Newsasia and Diana Ser. I didn't in the end. Keeping myself honest, mah. I have a feeling they won't be calling.

Uncomfortably numb

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: Today, Tomorrow, Forever - Patsy Cline - Through the Eyes of Patsy Cline - An Anthology Disc One
I'm also feeling like this and this. How ah?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Hot enough for ya?

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone - Stealing Beauty
The plastic decal holding up my road tax disc peeled off by itself this afternoon because it got too soft. Nothing is built for this weather. Nobody is built for this weather. My blains are boiled. This arvo, I went and did something I shouldn't have done, seeing as I still have a bung back which causes me to walk like I have an ironing board up my arse, and which, in turn, causes me to have a splitting headache. I went house hunting. I viewed three condo developments in the east, and seriously toyed with the idea of actually seriously actually putting down money on one of them. So seriously actually seriously I was glad I didn't bring my chequebook, else I would've written a rubber cheque. But seriously, if I had the money, anyone who wants to sell me an apartment or a house only needs to show me a seaview and an open-concept kitchen. A snazzy-looking bathroom with glass walls helps a little too. My brains were so soft by this arvo that I was glad I had company with me who asked the realtor the requisite 'common sense' questions while I gawped at the nice kitchens and bathrooms. There was one kitchen so nice, I'd want to have my own cooking show or entertain friends every night, have them sit around while I complain about how little money I have left. Seriously actually seriously, I need to go find some money.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Nutted by reality

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: Nutted by Reality - Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool
I am still tired and disoriented because I threw my back out today at work. It feels a little better now, but when it first happened, the shocking pain brought tears to my eyes, I swear. I was tired yesterday too. And when the wife called me to the front gate to see something she wanted to show me, I went, got into the car and sat in the passenger's seat and asked, 'What?', and didn't realise for a full minute it was a new car. She bought a new car. Five more days before I'm on the plane to Hong Kong, so I suppose I should start packing. But my room's a disaster at the moment, because lately I've let things slide. But as someone tells me every so often, 'tomorrow is another day'.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

If I had more hours in a day

I wish there were more hours in a day. That way, I could use the spare time to... well... dunno lah. Yes, things have been busy. But I am looking forward to five days away from work as I fly to Hong Kong and attend my ex's wedding. Why am I attending the ex's wedding? Because she invited me. It wouldn't have made a difference if I were there or not, seeing as we hardly ever speak to each other apart from our birthdays. It'll be the first time I'll be meeting her husband. They've been dating for a year or so. So you could say it was a pretty quick thing, them deciding to get married. But you know how things are at our age. Don't waste time liao. If I had more hours in a day, I know already. I'd spend some of the spare time wondering why it was that I was the first person the ex called to tell me her 'hand has been asked for in marriage'. (To which I replied, 'only your hand? that's not too terrible then'.) I'd also wonder why I did this major backflip, because only three years ago, I told her if she were dating someone else, I didn't want to know, and if she were to get married, I didn't want to be there. Time wounds all heels. It's been long enough since we broke up (7 years), that I no longer feel anything of a heartache when I think about her, but you know how exes' wedddings can affect you. I just don't know exactly how it does, but that it does. If I had more hours in a day, I'd wonder why I don't remember what it's really like to be in a relationship anymore, and how I think I am scared shitless every time I start to form an emotional bond with anyone. If I had more hours in a day, I'd be tired.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

House of Flying Chestnuts

OK, I know the other show hasn't even finished its run yet, but I've been given this press release: Singapore’s one and only live parody show is back… House of Flying Chestnuts starring Hossan Leong and Jonathan Lim music arranged and performed by Bang Wenfu Jubilee Hall 24-27 November, 8pm Tickets priced at $32 / $28 available from SISTIC 26-27 November, 3pm (Matinee)         Tickets priced at $28 / $24 available from SISTIC Chestnuts is back and, mamma mia, what a show we have in store! Chestnuts creator Jonathan Lim and Singapore Boy Hossan Leong bring you more hard-hitting spoofs of this year’s favorite movies, plays and TV shows! This 8th Chestnuts installment features double-edged parodies of "Mamma Mia!", "Singapore Idol", "Dim Sum Dollies", “Private Parts”,  “Wills & Mergers” and films like “Peter Pan”, “House of Flying Daggers”, “Kill Bill”, “Alien vs Predator” and “The Stepford Wives”.  PLUS a whirlwind tribute to the year's best theatre shows! Featuring a different special guest each night in a live chat-show comedy about topical issues!!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Using my powers for good and not evil

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: I Bid You Goodnight - Aaron Neville - Warm Your Heart
The other night I came home late and tired and went to say hello to my nephew's hamsters. One of the little bastards bit me. Then I giggled all the way back to my room and to sleep, wondering if it had been a radioactive hamster, whether I'd wake up and be bestowed superhero powers as 'Hamster Man', and what my costume would look like. Then the next morning I woke up and still had a balance of unfinished giggles. So I told my friends about Hamster Man, and I was glad they understood where I was coming from. Then I wondered if having these thoughts were an impediment to my ever figuring out the loose ends in the thing that I call my life. At the risk of being labelled copycat again, I quote E M Forster's epigraph to 'Howard's End': 'Only connect'. Try as I may, nothing seems to want it. 'No, not yet. No, not there'.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I was a failed coffee trader

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: Black Coffee - Ella Fitzgerald - Quiet Now: Ella's Moods
I was cleaning out some of my cupboards and found a backpack filled with small ziplocs labelled X, A and PB containing grassy smelling beans. See, there was a time a few years ago when my current business partner and I were scrabbling for something viable to do. One of the more interesting lobangs that came our way was the chance to sell raw coffee beans. We had a good price from the planters in New Guinea, and set about trying to look for buyers. What followed was an entertainingly educational experience. First, we got to know what a raw coffee bean looked like. It was green and smelled nothing like the coffee we know, and my business partner didn't want to take the samples home because he was afraid his mother would think they were green beans and make some Chinese dessert out of it. Then we learnt how coffee was harvested, roasted, percolated, espressed and consumed. Fascinating stuff, but I can't add anything to what can already be found by googling. We didn't sell a single bean. But I still have the samples though, if anyone wants. PICT0446.JPG Pea-Berry Grade New Guinea Highlands Arabica

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Productive loafing

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: With You in Mind - Aaron Neville - Warm Your Heart
I didn't think I could laze in a workful way, but that is exactly what I did this arvo. The weather was odd and it rained in a sunny way. And I was sleepy and still nursing a lingering headache (which is gone now, replaced by a neckache), but was nonetheless in pretty good spirits as I spent the entire arvo and most of the evening at the Book Cafe, browsing the papers and doing planning work for the week. It's been a while since I've parked my backside for so many hours at a stretch and it was good. Shady

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Pressing questions

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: My Country - Randy Newman - Bad Love
Government Issue confetti maker Ever been in a conundrum where you've run out of parking coupons and had to park first, then run to the seven eleven or newsagents to buy a booklet, then run back, only to discover that the Parking Auntie has risen from the monsoon drain and clipped a ticket to your windscreen? Then make sure you buy another booklet before the last one is used up, they'll tell ya. Be more organised, they'll say. Cashcards ain't cash, my friend Or driven under any ERP gantry when you've only got $0.50 in your cashcard? Top it up before it runs out then. Simple. If the LTA's ERP system is so efficient in sending you notices to pay an 'administrative fee' for going under their gantries with insufficient values in your cashcard, surely they can have an equally efficient system that bills you quarterly or yearly for the number of times you pass under their gantries? If cost is a reason, why not tack it to your road tax notice? Why use the cashcard? It is just as unwieldy as cash, and just as easily stolen. Got answers anyone? Interesting ones? Hopefully something to do with how the banks have colluded to make more money? And while you're at it, apply yourself to the parking coupon system as well. Why can't they install automated parking fee systems in public carparks? Does the set-up cost and annual upkeep outweigh the cost of producing tons of coupons? Doesn't an automated parking fee system do away with the wastage of destroying unsold coupons every two years, or ensure non-evasion of parking fees, or even eradicate littering in carparks? Does your answer or suggestion have something to do with who the printing company contracted to produce the coupons is? Let's put our heads together and figure this out (or make a sound like two coconuts knocking). On a separate note, someone once said Singaporeans only know how to pass exams, but can hardly be called educated. There's one stupid situation I've been told that is one likely cause: Over at Singapore Management University, apparently if you take an exam, and are graded, and are confident that you've been wrongly graded, you have to pay a $100 fee to have your grade reviewed. Not only do you not get to see your exam script, your markers are protected from you if and when they've been incompetent. This system, I've been told, is to prevent 'vexatious' and 'frivolous' grade review requests. Speaking of asking questions, is it also unreasonable to bring the CPF Board into account for the billions of dollars of our savings? I don't need to know where my tax money goes. I can see it in the excellent roads, parks, trees, airports, trains (and car parks), but what of our savings? How does the money earn more interest than banks? How come we only know about Indonesian gas, Malaysian eggs and Thai chickens when there's a national crisis? Or that we're reclaiming so much land only when Malaysia protests? So many more questions. No answers. There's one sure thing though. This environment is good for growing mushrooms and not for cultivating global leadership. newater.JPG NeWater Raw - available at your nearest convenience store and public toilet

Friday, October 01, 2004

Special needs

iTunes' party shuffle is playing: These Are Days - 10,000 Maniacs - These Are Days [Single]
For some reason, I decided to get in touch with some people I ought to have remained in contact with but didn't because well, you know, life got in the way. I called my JC form teacher, who was surprised and pleased to hear from me. She thought that I'd have chucked the birthday card she sent and forgot all about her. "So, are you married yet?", she asked. Same thing she asked the last time we spoke couple of years ago. Then I called my kayaking buddy, whose wife gave birth last month, or as he put it, "Yah, yah, good, good, baby come out already". Then I bumped into another classmate of mine whom I haven't seen in a few years, and he still looks the same despite being a father of two young kids. He's got purple hair, wears colourful long-sleeved shirts and velvet pants. Yes, velvet. ('Welwet' to Malaysians who can't pronounce the letter 'Wee'). Then I came home, logged on, and read two wonderful posts by Mr Brown. One about the Pee Sai Lum Pah spat and the other about kids with special needs. I can't agree more with what he's written so well. So well that I am compelled to talk a little about what I currently do for a living. I work with kindergarten to primary school age children, but I am no expert in teaching children with special needs, though I have colleagues who are. And in the past year and a half since we've been in business, it's been an eye-opener for me, and a shock for my colleagues. I've never had the experience of handling an autistic child till now, and my colleagues are appalled at the situation in which parents of kids with special needs sometimes have to resort to desperate measures to get their kids involved in any form of activity. Some parents don't tell us their kids require special attention, and we get a good workout - good thing I aced my shuttle run - trying to prevent injury to the child in question, and the other kids in the class. And some schools I work at don't tell us they have kids in the classes who require special attention. We learn of their needs when they shoot out of the line and climb the bars at the end of the hall. We've grown eyes at the back of our heads as a result. One class, 40 kids, 1 autistic, 1 attention deficit disorder = headache for 1 contract gymnastics instructor and one form teacher who sheepishly says, 'oh yah, those two boys, special needs lah'. This is after we have a contract with the school that specifically asks them to inform us of any medical condition in any child. The people that make the decisions and who have the money to implement them are slowly starting to realise we need special facilities / programs for special needs. The current situation is dangerous when you have special needs kids whose parents want them to participate as normally as possible, and rightly so. And some of them are desperate enough to sneak them into mainstream programs thinking they can get away with it if the child isn't disruptive. It is heartbreaking to have to turn these kids away from our programs, but we had to, because we were not adequately equipped and staffed to handle them. And it is just as heartbreaking to see special needs kids being 'mainstreamed' into normal schools because their parents can't afford to put them in the long waiting list for special schools. While these kids are not conspicuously discriminated against by any overt bullying or victimising, they aren't gaining anything from being mainstreamed. At another school where we teach, and where special needs kids are also mainstreamed, there was one day when one boy was being particularly boisterous. And with 40 boys in a class, you have to raise your voice to keep order sometimes. Our instructor did just that, only for that boy's classmate to come up to him and whisper, 'sir, sir, don't shout at him, he's a bit sick, you know?'. These children need special attention. Mainstreaming them is questionable. Mainstreaming them with 40 kids per class is ludicrous. Our company is still exploring ways to get public funds to organise gymnastics and gross motor skills classes for special needs kids. However, there's still this grossly repugnant attitude that 'special needs' = 'charity case', and I am often asked why my company doesn't give these classes for free. My company can't. We want to be able to. Give us the money and we will.