Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Firstly, WTF???! I wanted to sleep, and was on the verge thereof. Closed my eyes even. A split-second later, complete silence. No air-con, no PC fan hum. I cursed the electrician and his newly installed power switchboard, then looked out the window and realised, ok, the whole neigbourhood's a little dark. Nair mind, Teo Chee Hean's my neighbour. Power sure come back one. Defence Minister leh. Several SMS exchanges later, it dawns on me that this is something big. My farder the conspiracy theorist said, 'I think sabotage you know?!'; My mum, sis and bro-in-law, who between them have twenty seven torchlights, turn them all on. My nephew screams for the whole family to muster round his bed. My brother reports via sms that all is still well in Chinatown, and that the official explanation of a gas disruption to the power station is complete BS. The power's just come back on, and after two hours of being lost in the unpowered wilderness, I quickly turn on my computer, hoping to log on. I can't. I write this on my trusty offline blogging tool. Two hours of a power failure and my whole life turns upside down. I've taken the very desperate measure of taking out my phone's SIM card and putting it into the Nokia D11 wifi/gprs/gsm combo thingie and stuck it into my computer just so I can get online and figure out what the hell's wrong with my internet connection through SCV Maxonline. Fuck!
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Insomniacs Anonymous. Open 24hrs
Monday, June 28, 2004
Windstruck. It is still a dumb movie, but it warrants a little more talking about. If you've spare time and are really not impressed with other box office offerings (or have a huge crush on Jeon Ji-Hyun), then this is the movie for you. The opening half hour draws you in. The slapstick has heart. You giggle along. You think it's a romantic-comedy-melodrama and you're strung along, liking the characters along the way. Then the knives are out. Director Kwak Jae-Yong is ruthless in sticking it up every genre Korean audiences (and lovers of K-everything) treat as staple: Romantic melodrama (Titanic); Romantic comedy with supernatural element, k-style (My Sassy Girl, incidentally, Kwak's own film); Gangster flicks (Friend); Teen gangster flicks (Volcano High). The references are deliberately painful too. Kwak seems to enjoy killing you softly with k-melodrama, over and over and over and over again in the last half hour of the film till you want to swear yourself off ever watching another Korean film, whether or not Ji-Hyun's in it. Bumbling, good natured feller meets tough as nails pretty chick, meets with an accident, helps out as some supernatural force... voila, K-Film box office success! In other news, everyone else around me seems to be having relationship problems, which I'd write about if I could make sense of them without getting the ingredients of their troubles mixed up. Seems to be the time of the year for these Troubles. So fashionable even those not in a relationship seem to want to display the anguish of having the Troubles too. To those, I say, stop the nonsense right now. I've enough on my plate. I've had friends telling me stuff till the cows have come home, set up a cottage industry and left again on a global franchising push, and there's still no apparent solution to their woes. I can choose not to listen, but you're just too loud. So, bugger off, I can buy my own tea. Teh Ice. Spize Restaurant. River Valley Road. Parting shot: Why Becks did what he did at Euro 2004.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Hot Hypermart Sunday
iTunes is playing: The Man I Love (Strike Up the Band) - Andre Previn/Dinah Washington - Lady Sings the Blues [EMI] Disc 2Cloudless sky. 1.45pm Sunday. Sunday turned out blue cloudless skies, brisk, hot winds and a motherfucking big headache from not drinking enough water. All Sundays should look like that though. Except for the headache. I had my Jeon Ji-Hyun fix last night, even if the movie was the stupidest thing I've watched in a while. I knew it was gonna be a pretty daft movie, even if the film deliberately took the micky out of fans of k-melodrama. But just like falling in love against your better judgement, you're compelled to watch it. I looked at my watch no less than five times in the second hour of the film. My headache's worse now because I spent an hour at Tekka Mall, at this Shin Seong Hypermart, trying to buy supplies for this week's work. Little India on a Sunday is too little for all the Indians. Worse, the non-Indians think it's fun to throng there on a Sunday arvo too, all happily partaking in jaywalking joy. I must try that some time: eat some curry, then dodge cars.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
One of the Steph ways to heaven
Steph Song finally calls after we've been playing phone tag for the past coupla days. I'm not sure who called who first, but I remember being asked to call back later because she was tending to her garden. She says she wishes to have me over for coffee, and berates me for not replying her SMSs. I said I replied. She says, Hmmm what's wrong with my phone? I sez is it Starhub? She sez yes. I sez ask your boyfriend to stop making ads for them then. I am distracted from further conversation by an expanding exchange on MSN Messenger. I sez OK coffee wonuvzeezdays. I eat a whole box of Mushi Mushi Mochi Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream (6 mochis in a box) and feel sick afterward. I watch "My Sassy Girl" on Channel U and get fed up with the squeaky Mandarin voices dubbing my chagiya's voice. Why do all Mandarin dubbing artists have squeaky voices?
Friday, June 25, 2004
directly opposite the 7-11 and next to Martaban Road) is good. There's the pork knuckle dish that melts in your mouth, and the handsome bloke in the greasy singlet rolled up over his bulging belly (waiter and mascot) comes by now and again to check if you've drunk your peppery pork soup. If you have, he'll top the bowl up with another ladle. It's amazing how I still manage to keep my svelte figure. Lately, there's still been people suggesting Funky Hongky and Silly Singapore Names to me. E said I should read yesterday's ST Life!, where it was announced that Ericia "I'm half-Chinese-half-rabbit" Lee's younger sister had signed with Mediaworks as an Artits. Her name is Ezann(!). She studied psychology in Brisbane for a bit before deciding she liked Ezann Management better. (It was funnier when E (whose name is pretty normal, but cannot be divulged here) giggled non-stop for 5 minutes with mee sua dangling out of her mouth). Then yesterday a jet-setting ex-gf who's in town tells me that there was a Hong Kong beauty pageant contestant who introduced herself as Devilly, sounds like Beverly, only spelt wrongly (now say that sentence with a Hongky accent).
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Flu addled post
Kiwis take the mickey out of the Poms Rugby aside, it's been a slow news day. Media outlet (yes, singular) here focused on our northern neighbour's head in the hazy sand mentality, which is by now, getting quite boring. Wait a coupla days, and that northern neighbour will turn prickly and respond, focusing on our nation's pro-superpower stance. At least this weekend, there'll be a *celebrity wedding*!!! Woopee Doo!!! (Or as some say, "Woot!") My classmate James "two years in Arizona so I speak like an alien" Lye is finally marrying Diana "Get-Rear!" Ser. I am not invited to the wedding and I am so bitter about it. Just as well. I have no money for to give in ang pow. Elsewhere, the bizarre diet of the Cantonese continues to disgust and amaze. This one visitor has switched from one end of the chicken to the other (of a duck). Apparently, the weirdos who live there don't eat the rest of the bird because it's used to decorate restaurant windows or something. Cantonese high art Over here in cyberspace, I was asked if "A few sandwiches short of a picnic" meant anything other than a very thinly veiled insult. I can't think of any nice meanings to that. But I did think of a reasonable quid pro quo: "How dare you sir! You, sir, are a few starlets short of a slimming centre!". God Damn. Too late for a movie. I thought it was Friday today. Man! Ji Hyun'll have to wait. Mianhae, chagiya!
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
More tasty treats
"Windstruck" or "Ne Yeo-ja-chin-gu-rul So-gae-hap-ni-da" in Korean. (Something tells me the Korean title says a lot more). Plus I've had this majorly unapologetic crush on Jeon Ji-Hyun since she moped around in Il Mare, a little before she was the pretty thing in My Sassy Girl (Yupgi Girl). Mmmmmmm....
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
The goose is cooked
Speaking of which, I've been thinking a lot about my ex's wedding in Hong Kong in October. I've another wedding to attend that month, but it's in Lisbon, and it's not of an ex. So Hong Kong takes priority. I 've been thinking because I still haven't made sense of how I'm feeling about it. The ex wants a pandan cake from Bengawan Solo when I next see her, which will probably be at her wedding. It is this series of non-sequitur things which infuriatingly derails any coherent stream of thought. So, bugger it. Speaking of Hong Kong, and I know I have for a fair bit lately, my mother informs me that the famous Yung Kei Restaurant has closed its shutters for the last time. Kinda sad. I was looking forward to going there on my last day in Hong Kong (on any Hong Kong trip) and buying one of their prepared roast geese, packed nicely into a box with a handle, for to take on board (or checked-in) flying home. Apparently it's a pretty popular thing to do. Go to Yung Kei on your last day in Hong Kong, buy a goose, cross the road and take the train to the airport. Apparently quite popular also among the Cantonese is this delicacy: chicken testes. The Cantonese like their food. They like to make everything their food, really. If it moves, steam it, fry it, deep fry it, boil it, double boil it, wrap it in flour, fry it again and then eat it. On a business trip to Guangzhou two years ago, my business associates and I were being driven around town looking for lunch. One of my associates pointed at a shop packed chockers with caged animals, and she exclaimed, eh, so cute, the pet shop is squashed between so many restaurants, of course, inevitably to be told something to the effect of, 'That ain't a pet shop, that's one of our most famous restaurants. The ingredients are really fresh'. Not that I feel queasy about it, of course. I eat most anyfink. 'Cept maybe tasty chicken testes. Lastly, I was tickled to note one of my pet peeves is shared: From someone's Friendster profile. P.S. For some reason, my Funky Hongky Names entry has disappeared off the index page. You can still go directly to that entry's own page, but not from the Recent Posts links or Archives. Funny leh. Maybe Blogger is getting back at my blotting out the ad banner.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Me Da and the Olympics
In another age altogether, my father scored a temp job at the Melbourne Olympics as a general clerk/intern assisting the accounts department. The Games then were a small affair, unlike the massive logistical behemoth it is now. It would've been remarkable enough to be able to tell your kids and grandkids that you once worked at the XVIth Olympiad, but Pa being Pa, had to inadvertently go one further. There was this boxer from the Japanese team. There was no translator. So they picked the nearest Japanese-looking person to help. No matter that Pa's knowledge of Japanese was confined to mostly pidgin from the Occupation a little over a decade earlier. The boxer mentioned something about 'cutting' something, and kept gesticulating with his hands, pointing at his waist. He sounded desperate too. Pa put the bits of Japanese words he understood and two and two together and informed Games officials that the boxer had an abdominal problem that needed to be fixed. They sent the boxer, this time screaming and yelling, to the hospital for immediate medical attention, fearing appendicitis. A few hours later, the angry Japanese boxer came back to the arena, with real translators, and it seems, all he wanted to tell officials was that he needed to get a skipping rope to cut his excess weight down to that stipulated by his weight division in his event. Pa was sent to the back rooms to be buried under accounting sheets. My father's life is full of remarkable stories. Murky, remarkable stories. Some day we'll put together this mosaic of Japanese soldiers, of roasting coffee beans, of selling beans at the market, of sea voyages, of bullock carts, of chinese triads, and of how he came to be blind in one eye. Pa waiting for us to quickly finish lunch today. I are an Armoured Reconnaisance Trooper, September 1989. That is not a smile on Pa's face. That is a smirk. The smirk is saying, "you call this hardship? you ain't been through half of what I have".
More funky names
that post, but lately there've been several Singaporean names which I've seen and which are a little on the unusual side. 1. Nanz Chong (of 1.99 Shop infamy - so, success is relative). 2. Ponz Goo (of Haach group of beauty thingamajigs). 3. Adnic Lee (I received an email from him announcing some seminar training thing for success). There was a post somewhere on talkingcock.com about names, which I can't find on the site itself, but which can be found on this blog. Read the bits on names based on popular businesses. It also seems the letter 'Z' is popular in names. Nanz, Ponz... I've been introduced to "Cindy spelled with a 'Z'." Don't ask me, I don't know where the 'Z' fits in either. Then there's the shampoo boy at my hairstylist's, who when he introduced himself, I thought I had shampoo in my ears: SB: 'Izorg' Miyagi: 'What?' SB: 'Izorg'. Miyagi: 'So how?' SB: 'What?' Miyagi: 'You said something. Is there something wrong?' SB: 'My name is Izorg. How's the water? Warm enough?' Miyagi: 'Good, thanks'. Grocery section, Mustafa's Department Store -OPEN 24 HOURS It's easy to forget how lush the city is when you live here. Look at them magnificent trees everywhere. Hard not to walk into them.
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Hey, whaddya know, I can party!
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Pinyinize me silly
Listening to: E Pari Ra - Kiri Te Kanawa - Maori SongsThis is an odd rant. I spent some time tonight looking at (some are positively unreadable) some local blogs, and I realised why when the younger (under 25) bloggers mention their friends, if they didn't assign a code name, did not sit well with me. If the persons described in the blogs, or the blogger themselves didn't have Christian or first names, they tended to be Pinyinised. All thanks to the government's policy in the late 70s to pinyinize anything they could lay their hands on. Take the suburb/localities with Chinese names for instance. If I'm not wrong, Bishan was once Peck Sua, Funan was Hock Lam, Hougang was Aw Kang. I understand this as part of the policy of homogenizing the local Chinese population. They banned dialects other than Mandarin in all broadcasts then, and promoted the use of Mandarin in all walks of Chinese life. Apart from befuddling the non-Chinese population (or perhaps, infuriating some of them, that their tax money was being used to subsidize a language not their own), I can see that it's had immense success. Parents started giving their children official pinyinised names instead of phonetically translated names based on whichever Chinese dialect group they belonged to. I remember one year in primary school, the teachers suddenly told us we had to change our names on the register. It was all well with me, seeing as my surname started with the same letter whether or not you pinyinised it. But many 'Chias' and 'Cheahs' were upset they were put at the end of the roll as 'Xie', as were 'Chows' who became 'Zhous'. I couldn't find any statistics on dialect group breakdown in Singapore though, but for mine, pinyinization takes away the texture that is, that should be, multi-culturalism. I once had an Identity Card that listed my dialect group. A friend tells me that apparently this was to aid the police in a sort of ethnic profiling. E.g. If you were Hokkien, you were likely to be a gang member; a Hainanese, chef; a Hakka, Prime Minister, and so on. The problem with pinyinization it is extremely difficult for the non-Chinese and those not familiar with the rules of pinyin romanization to actually pronounce the pinyin names. Dialect names are alright, because it was the British colonial civil service that started phonetically translating the many Chinese names. I think several eminent Chinese people would lose a lot of oomph from their names if they were pinyinized: Li Guangyao? Doesn't matter if the old phonetic translation was inaccurate (Wade-Giles worked only for Mandarin), some names just sound grander and more 'real' in their dialect. I like Whampoa, not Huangpu. When I attended secondary school at ACS (where it wuz cool to suck at Mandarin), the school masters had to 'officially' follow ministerial directives to use Pinyin names for the Chinese population, but largely left our names alone apart from school publications and exam booklets. It was ridiculous. The Malay and Indian boys didn't have to go through this renaming exercise, and neither did the teachers. It didn't work all that well at ACS because a large number of boys had Anglo-Celtic-Judaic names before their surnames, which were used in place of Chinese names anyway. Thing is, when you see a dialect name, and are familiar with dialects, you'll know upon looking which dialect group the person belongs to. Lam and Foong are Cantonese, Hong is Hokkien, Jee is Hainanese. Try it. Pinyin takes the fun out of this, unless you like struggling with pronounciation. Try this for a spittle-inducing mouthful: Xie Zhongzi, or even Zhang Ziyi. If you don't know pinyin (or Zhang Ziyi), you'll get it so wrong. There was this one classmate who was unfortunate enough to have only a dialect name, and one that sounded funny both in his dialect and in pinyin. Low Ho Ho in Hokkien and on his birth certificate, and Liu Hehe in pinyin. First day of school was a procession of subject teachers chuckling and asking which he'd prefer, Hoho or Hehe? I also remember this girl whose name was Lily Lee Li Li, pinyinised to Li Lili. Wonder what's happened to her. Maybe her tongue flapped her to death when she was introducing herself one day. And of course, there's this one professor who seems clueless about the hilarity of her name. (It's a Cantonese name apparently, meaning snow something). Now, that one needs to be pinyinized. Stay tuned for 'Funky Hong Kong names', sometime soon...
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Mad dogs and Engrishmen
Listening to: Positively 4th Street - Bob Dylan - Masterpieces (2)I gotta get me one of these. Going out in the daytime for the third consecutive day is enough to confirm that yes, the tropical heat fries the brain good. If you're an equatorial country, you're never gonna improve on your third world status. Singapore is as good as it gets. Name me another equatorial nation that's in the highest tier of developed nations. Thinks abourrits. Told yers. Today's Photoblog: Bussorah Street, Kampong Glam Bussorah Street, Kampong Glam Bussorah Street, Kampong Glam East Coast Park
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Has it ever been this hot?
Listening to: Poor Side Of Town - Nick Lowe - The ConvincerOutside our local at 5pm today. Deserted. Just the way we like it. It's been blazing saddles today and yesterday. My brains are fried. Although I think it's more because of the drinking games (!) we played at our local late this arvo. (We are regressing so quickly into the rowdy boys we once were - what with clubbing on a weeknight, and now drinking games). There was rugby on the telly at our local, and it was even better watching England get thrashed by the All Blacks. Though today I wish we were at Carisbrook in NZ. I miss winter. There's more rugby this weekend, but all eyes will be on the goddamned soccer which starts tonight at midnight. 76th minute. New Zealand 36 England 3. On the way home, we bought ice-cream sandwiches on Orchard Road, but this time from a motorcycle icecream sandwich vendor across from the Paragon. It's $1 per sandwich, compared to the bastard outside The Heeren who sells it for $2. We asked this one why his was cheaper, but he declined to comment. Smart, 'cos the other vendor has a cleaver he uses to slice the ice-cream blocks which he could use for other purposes. Such as cutting down his competitors. To complete the arvo, S made off with two balloons from a credit card vendor. He later tried to give it away to kids but the kids were scared shitless of him. With a demented smile like that, easy to see why.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Everyone talks about football (soccer)
Listening to: Yellow Roses - Ry Cooder - Chicken Skin Music
Happy Campers, especially the kooky kid giving hisself bunny ears. I seldom like talking about work here. But it seems my work interests some people because it is apparently rare for a guy to be doing what I do. Yes, I find it gratifying even though I am glad I don't have to bring the kids home with me. It has been ages since (apart from the quiet beers with the boys) I've been partying seriously, and last night (weeknight!) was about the most nonsensical fun we've had in a while. The boys trekked from Centro to Zouk/Velvet to Liquid Room, checking the scene. I've always found going clubbing mildly ridiculous, which probably added to the novelty of last night's outing. Still, we had tons of fun, and my ears are still ringing. Even funnier were the 'serious clubbers' and their mournful faces. The Euro soccer thingie is on soon, 'cos all my friends are talking about it, and leaving me to grasp for some little bits of information I can contribute - such as, 'anyone gambling on the games? I have a centrebet account. I can place for you'. Before you think me a serious punter, I'll have you know I opened the account to have a bit of a flutter on the horses at Melbourne Cup, a little more on the soccer during the World Cup, where I lost a clutch of dollars (say, $100) putting the money on European stronghouses as Italy, and then having to make back my losses by putting money where I know things to the finest detail including the blades of grass at Aussie Stadium, Rugby Union. It will be a boring month. Pubs will be screening the soccer. Guys and their rebonded haired girlfriends will be cheering their European teams. England will lose. I was also saddened to hear of someone's laying off after apparently good service to her company. I thought the economy was going great guns. It appears it's running into a rough month for her particularly, though I'm certain she'll bounce back from this. I have to post this quick so I can go meet the boys for supper at Adam Road.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Another new toy to add to your blog
Audioblogger's pretty useful when you're in the shower with your mobile phone, or the driving's getting boring or you want to showcase your road rage, or simply can't be bothered to type. You'd think there'd be limited possibilities given that you're not likely (or at least I'm not likely) to be far from a connected computer terminal / PDA / GPRS / hotspot, but when you're bored, you're bored, and very likely to muck around like I do. Hell, I was so bored just now, I went to the 7-11 to get a HWM magazine (porn for not-so-techies) and some munchies even though I was sleepy and not very hungry. Only drawback (for now) is that it's a U.S. number you have to call to record your blog, but I reckon there are enough Blogger bloggers here for them to set up a local one soon. Oh ya, and it's free apart from long distance charges. Speaking of which, if you're in Singapore, you might wanna check out Phoenix Comms for cheap IDD rates. 5 cents a minute to the US!
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Time ran out a long time ago
Listening to: Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen - Greatest Hits
My formal/work watch I find it a bit sad, just thinking about how a friend is about to end a relationship with her boyfriend because time has run out for him to make some sort of commitment that matters to her. She's thirty three and in the first coupla years of panic. He'll turn thirty four this year and has some grand delusion about his own life and how it will turn out. Well, if the break-up does go ahead, it will be a very sad life, whether or not he realises what he has lost. And I'm not saying this just 'cos she's a friend of mine. Stupid, stupid man.
Fullerton Hotel If you haven't already noticed, I have a new digital camera. Brand spanking new Canon Ixus 500!
East Coast Food Village By The Sea Side So, I've been carrying this new toy in my pocket. And after a particularly difficult day at work, I met up with the boys at the East Coast Food Village for beer and satay.
beer and satay at east coast Life ain't that bad sometimes.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Jellybeans and foreign born men stealing our women
Listening to: Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By (with Tammi Terrell) - Marvin Gaye - The Very Best of Marvin GayeR.I.P. Ronald Reagan. Though what I remember of the Reagan years are sketchy and informed mostly through this funny British show featuring puppet caricatures of various political figures and celebrities called "Spitting Image", notably, episodes which contained the series called "The President's Brain Is Missing". Of course, there was the assassination attempt he survived in 1981, mostly because he was only shot in the armpit by Jodie Foster's stalker. In other news today, and I suspect, in an attempt by the editors of The Straits Times to drum up some response (every day is a slow news day in Singapore), there was a feature in Sunday Lifestyle about how American Born Chinese (ABC) men were more attractive than the local species. This is the second of several parts in the series "Foreigners are Stealing Our Women", written by lonely, single and bitter female journalists. (Speaking of which, have you noticed the lack of good looking female journalists? No TV face? try radio; no radio voice? try print press! Hahahahaha!) A friend, Garrett Hoo (Let The Dogs Out) was featured as one of the American Chinese Hunks (ACH), and about whom I have no qualms revealing details now, seeing as he was desperate enough to seek publicity through such a dumb forum. Hoo, "32 years old, 1.8m, 80kg", "quit his well paying job as an aeronautical engineer to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles. He decided to seek his fortune in Singapore in 2001". I honestly have no response to this issue (no, rooolly!), if it were one, except that it'll make a good topic of conversation when my troo bloo Singaporean platoon mates meet up year-end for our in-camp reservist training. And I'm just hoping for Hoo's sake that he doesn't get jumped by a dozen angry Ah Bengs whose girlfriends have been abducted by ABC UFOs. Garrett, if you're reading this, I'm just doing you a favour. Remember you said "any publicity is good publicity"? Well, here 'tis! Don't say I neber helping you, Sahib! Besides, I didn't reveal your real age.
Saturday, June 05, 2004
Listening to: Hot Stuff - ROLLING STONES - Jump Back- The Best Of The Rolling StonesA brief entry before I crash, exhausted. At work today at the school which was formerly the SCGS, three things: 1. The road outside was chockers with star-struck fans, who were lining up to obtain Jolin Tsai's autograph. Who the hell is Jolin Tsai? Exactly. 2. A group of old SCGS girls were having a school reunion at their old campus, wearing their old school uniforms! I walked up, lugging some gymnastics gear, and saw several figures in SCGS uniforms, which, when I was a schoolboy, we thought to be the nicest (most revealing lah) girls' uniform around. I walked closer and slid my glasses onto my face and saw that in those uniforms were women whose right to wear those uniforms in a decent manner had long since been revoked. I can't quite describe it now, apart from my sequence of thoughts which ran thus: "wow, SCGS uniforms.... girls.... WHOA! JEEZUS! Ol' ladiez in SCGS uniforms! That ain't right!" 3. I went down the road to the Old Chang Kee curry puff and miscellany kiosk to buy a coupla puffs and skewered squid balls (ouch), and this girl, maybe in her twenties and part of the autograph hunting crowd popped right in front of me in the queue and brazenly just ordered a coupla puffs for herself. I am still feeling glad I shouted loud enough at her for her to jump out of her skin, mutter "wah lao, xia shi wo (wah lao, scare me to death)" and take her rightful place at the end of the queue. At home after work, I spied a copy of today's The New Paper, on the front page of which featured a snippet of a story about a WW2 airman who fought in the D-Day campaign, bailed out, got captured and escaped his German captors. Why is this unusual? He was the only Straits-born Chinese (a.k.a. Singaporean Chinese) to be a flight lieutenant in the RAF. Pretty brief, the story (but then The New Paper is like that, you know?) I did find more stuff on this story, and I'm sure the Chinese papers did a better job with it. I'd be more certain if only I could read. Addendum: I just remembered another Straits-born Chinese (well, half-Chinese) who was in the RAF. Thanks to my endless obsession with rugby: Rory Underwood (Girls, you will like him. Only he, like all rugby players, has no neck) was England's most capped rugby winger (1984-1996) and record try-scorer (49). He was born in Ipoh, Malaysia, to an RAF officer and his Malaysian Chinese wife, who, as winger Rory's mother, was discovered in a survey to be the most recognisable face in English rugby, given her very animated responses, captured on television, to her son's famous exploits at Twickenham. She was later to appear in a television commercial for Pizza Hut, which featured her tackling her son's rugby opponent (Jonah Lomu) and pizza thief/bully so that her son could have some Super Supreme. OK, I'm digressing, aren't I?
Thursday, June 03, 2004
The Game They Play In Heaven
Listening to: Foolish Games - Jewel - Pieces of YouKa mate, Ka mate! Ka ora, Ka ora! Ka mate, Ka mate! Ka ora, Ka ora! Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru Nana i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra! A hupane, kaupane A hupane, kaupane whiti te ra! Hi! Wonder what Bucky Katt's haka sounds like. I know the All Blacks' version is fearsome, sometimes causing your testicles to retract and make you wonder how come you have three lumps in your throat. This year's southern hemisphere rugby season begins next week, with Australia taking on (and walloping) Scotland, and New Zealand All Blacks taking on England. "The main scheme is to work the ball down the field and somehow deposit it over the line at the other end. ... In order to squelch this program, each side is allowed to put in a certain amount of assault and battery and do things to its fellow man which, if done elsewhere, would result in 14 days without the option, coupled with some strong remarks from the Bench". ~P.G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves (1930). I liked rugby for the wrong reasons when I first played the sport in school. The only thought I had for the game was how many chicks I could pull by playing such a manly sport. Still, it got me started, and once I got bored with the chicks I pulled, I concentrated on the game a little bit more. That was five years after I took up the sport. The history of rugby has been told to death, but I'll tell it again. ...Legend has it that one William Webb Ellis, a boarder at Rugby School (for which the sport is named) in England was playing football as you and I know it - with the foot - some time in 1880 or thereabouts - and out of boredom, he picked up the ball, ran to the goal line and was pummelled by everyone else, his own teammates included. Rugby Football was born. Being invented in a private (public) school system, the new sport was subject to many archaic rules - known as Laws of Rugby Football - such as "No player shall receive moneys for playing". This meant that rugby was not a professional sport. For over 100 years, this remained the case until 1995, when Rupert Murdoch proposed television rights and payments to elite national teams such as the Wallabies, the All Blacks and the Springboks. For decades, player profiles included the player's position in the team, his statistics and his occupation. E.g. N.C. Farr-Jones, Captain, Scrum-half, caps: 60, Club: Sydney University, Occupation: Barrister; or my favourite: Samoa: P. Fatialofa, captain, tight-head prop, caps 40, Club: Auckland, Occupation: Piano Mover. Of course, there were objections to the amateur rule, and this caused a rift early in the sport's history, and a new breakaway sport was created in 1895, called Rugby League. This happened in the north of England, where mostly blue-collar workers played the original game, and who did not have the luxury of understanding employers giving them time off for the sport or for injuries sustained playing the sport. This breakaway sport is still played but mostly in the north of England and in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia. The original game, played under the Laws of Rugby Union, and known more informally as Rugby Union continued to flourish as a gentleman's game, and was propagated throughout Empire and some parts of continental Europe (e.g. France). The four Home unions (England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales) still play an annual competition that now includes France and Italy. The Rugby World Cup, first staged in 1987, is the third most watched sporting event in the world after the Olympics and the soccer world cup. Rugby is a team sport, but one which has been said to be the most 'democratic'. That is, all creatures great and small can play the game. From the big burly squat prop forwards to the fleet footed and svelte wingers. Every manner of player has a role to play. I was an automatic selection at either scrum-half or winger because of my lack of size, both during school days and when playing for my club in Sydney. If you can pummel an opponent twice your size, you're an instant hero. If you can't, you still can pummel your opposite number on the other team who's about the same size as you. (Except one club game I played, where my opposing scrum-half was 1 foot and 20 kilos bigger than me, and he pummelled me good). The competition I last played in had teams which fielded 50-something year olds next to 18 year olds. And if you've played for several seasons, you'd know not to underestimate the wiliness of the old fogies. And it is demoralising at first, to be pummelled by a golden oldie. It is only afterward you cheer up, because you know that by the time you're a golden oldie fogie, you can pummel people half your age too. Having said all that about pummelling, rugby isn't all about that, really. No matter how big or how fast you are, if you don't got no brains, you don't got no chance to be chosen in no elite team. Some rugby nuts have compared rugby to a game of high-speed chess. I'll vouch for that. And mostly because it's true. Though it's because you have to use your brains to avoid being pummelled so often. And so, there is that added joy of outwitting your opponents with dummy (quite smart actually) runs and decoy moves. While it is not my object to deride soccer, the global game, I like it that there are seldom histrionics and oscar-winning injuries being faked by rugby players to milk a penalty. In rugby, if you roll around on the ground in agony, it's for real. If it's not for real, your own teammates will make sure it's for real. In rugby, if someone infringes on your rights by hitting you on the nose, you hit back, and the referee comes and warns you that if you fight again, you're both off. One of the unwritten requirements for referees is comic timing. In the last match between the Australian Capital Territory and Canterbury, the ref broke up a punch-up by asking the participants, "OK, stop the nonsense, you fellas know each other well now? Good. Now stop it". "My drinking team has a rugby problem", reads a souvenir t-shirt popular among nuts. The social aspect of the game is what keeps it alive as a sport. Every Saturday afternoon in Sydney during the season, we'd belt the crap out of each other on the paddock, and then retreat to whoever's home ground pub it is, to nurse our wounds and exchange stories over half a dozen or so beers each. It has also been said that rugby is a great social lubricant. Important contacts are made. Deals are struck. Careers are made. If not on the paddock, then maybe in the pub afterwards. Last year, an article written by Peter Fitzsimons (my favourite journalist - he once was a Wallaby) in the lead up to the World Cup listed several vaguely familiar personalities to have donned a jersey, worn a mouthguard and been pummelled on the field. His 'dream team': Bill Clinton (Oxford), George W. Bush (Yale), Idi Amin (Sandhurst & Uganda), Che Guevara (San Isidro, Argentina), Pope John Paul II (not verified in biographies), Sen Edward Kennedy (Harvard), Jacques Chirac (Brive, France), Boris Karloff (South Calif. RU), P.G. Wodehouse (Dulwich College), Prince William (St. Andrews), Richard Harris (Munster, Ireland), James Joyce (Belvedere College, Ireland), Sir Edmund Hillary (Auckland Grammar), Benito Mussolini (didn't quite play, but introduced the sport to Italy). And before anyone thinks that what I'm talking about is a purely brutish male domain, the club I played for has a girls' team which is better than the boys'. They're ranked number 4 in Australia or something. And they're not ugly as dogs either (such is the impression people get of female rugby players). I once was mesmerised by the sight of the girl winger gliding along the touchline, ball in right hand, palming off opponents with left hand, blonde ponytail flying, long lanky strides taking her over the goal line with a swan dive. I tried to pull off the same thing playing winger later that day, but didn't have the requisite grace to mesmerise anyone, and earned the nickname that I resignedly still use now: Mister Miyagi, wax on, wax off.
Regale us with tales bold but true
Listening to: Crazy Ones - John Mellencamp - Whenever We WantedTonight me and the boys met up with another uni mate of ours who's back on a short visit from Hong Kong, where he works as a top-notch high-flying award-winning chick-pulling copywriter. We envy his life and his boldness and his impossible sense of adventure. I'm not talking about wanting to climb Everest without oxygen, I'm talking about roooly cool stuff. Like how he's taken up surfing in Hong Kong. Yes. Not Kuta, not Maui. Hong Kong. He says surfing's boring in the summer, but October's fun because it's typhoon season. He's gonna take me surfing when I'm there for the ex's wedding. I'm up for it. How's that for a dramatic closure? He also wanted to plan a longer holiday with the rest of us boys. He says it's gonna be fun. A road trip across the continent from Perth to Sydney via the Nullabor. 4800km, with 400km or more of a straight stretch on the Eyre Highway. For some reason, the idea appeals to us. No trees, no water, no ATMs for a coupla thousand kilometres. Our friend has done it before, so we were thinking, it must be fairly safe. Then he tells us about surfing typhoons. Why envy him? For now at least, it's because he's showing us that at ages past thirty, it's still possible to muck about, throw caution and everything else to the (typhoon) wind. I'm now gonna find some time to re-acquaint myself with kayaking again, if only for a few hours, and maybe, just think about reviving my old kayak trip to Tioman, all of what, only 13 years ago? Timely, our friend's 'intervention', because we had been discussing, like a bunch of girls would do, how we had grown older to become mild, gentle males who have been tagged, quite rightly, nice guys. I've been having the feeling that this has been detrimental to several aspects of life in general and all that shit. I'm less bullshit and more diffidence these days. Then earlier this week, we also met up with yet another male uni mate of ours, who's been showing us how he pulls chicks. Just ask lah, he says. He was in the lift with some pretty young stranger, and he turned and just asked 'eh, what's your name?'. Picked her up there and then. And he's not a looker either. Attitude. Gotta have attitude. Must go buy me some. But first I must pass my IPPT before my birthday next month.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Listening to: King Porter Stomp - Benny Goodman - Clarinet a' la kingVesak or Wesak celebrates the birth, death and enlightenment of Sakyamuni Buddha. It is a public holiday here. But not for me and my business partners. We're still running kids' camp for the benefit of families who have no idea what to do with their overactive (so they think) kids. Owing to the difference in local school and international school schedules, we have 11 consecutive weeks of kids camps to operate. It is Day Three. I am exhausted. I am also swamped with work. I'm not just saying this so I can shirk off the responsibility of completing a web-project I'm not very proud of. My client (who will read this blog) has been gently harassing me about the completion, the date of which was supposed to have been 15th May. I've been deadset busy, and deadset uninspired to do anything creative. I mean, just read my blog. It bores the crap outta me, and I imagine, anyone else that ventures here as well. (Suckers. Those who followed links from here and here). Funny how a blog novice as I has managed to coerce and cajole other non-bloggers to blog and other bloggers to improve their blogs. I feel as if I've got enough blog clout to make sweeping, misinformed (the best type) generalisations about blogging. Such as, have you noticed how font size is directly related to age? If you're 14-19, your font size is miniscule. If you're 20-25, slightly more readable than bird dust (a term my brother invented), if you're 25-35 you stick with what the blogger.com templates give you, and you don't even bother to tweak any template setting and think that adding a tagboard or blogroll is the bees' knees. And if you're 35-45, you're NOT SUPPOSED TO BE BLOGGING. Old people don't blog. I have about a month and a bit before I'm supposed to retire from blogdom. A close friend of mine, who is also hitting the giant big humungous ugly mumfucking three five next month, found out (there are some things you keep a secret from even close friends) that I had a blog from another (younger) friend. His reaction was as I expected. He looked at me strange and said "YOU HAVE A BLOG? YOU'RE NOT A TEENAGER. IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO TELL ME?" Still he's not curious enough to want to read my blog. Because old people not only don't blog. They don't read blogs either. He knows he won't glean any earth-shattering outings from my blog. I have no (other) secrets he doesn't already know about. He knows my blog serves no purpose other than to amuse myself and keep some friends informed as to my whereabouts, whatabouts and howabouts, and which only figures a three minute read per week at best. It also has no apparent theme. It is not (yet) evolving into a journal of any certain ilk. It is pure unadulterated drivel. Though I wish it weren't. There are other blogs I've coerced out of their creators that have evolved into things that even I did not expect. And they do make interesting reading. Apart from rugby union, which makes uninterrupted appearances on my sideblog, there is also no apparent passion or love or raison d'etre that this blog reveals, unlike many blogs I've read which reveal their creators to be unfettered, rabid, sci-fi geeks, for instance. (For some reason, these particular bloggers congregate here instead of at simple simon blog engines like blogger.com). There is also (I hope) very little angst (because I am not a teenager). There are no lovelorn entries except for an infrequent recollection or two of a love past, which I place in another blog in the hope of building a tome of sorts, but which is also quickly falling flat as an idea. Yes, this blog is unclassifiable. When asked to 'describe your blog' in the various portals offering shameless self blog promotion, I'm usually stumped. Dunno what to write. My blog is blue background with grey words and yellow headings. It's got stuff. I can't even describe how the entries are like, like this blogger does. Yes, I might be descibed as cynical and skeptical, but not to the extent of infecting every entry with uniform poison. There is one purpose of this blog that I wouldn't have disclosed if not for the fact I'm writing this entry. It is a gauge of my sanity. Or rather, a gauge of my emotional and mental well-being. The more unclassifiable stuff I write, the happier I usually am. I have fewer and fewer demons to fight and write about these days, and I don't like writing about them much, because they look and sound the same, and it makes for even more boring reading. And as I was telling a fellow blogger, it is about living life, not about thinking about living life.