Archive for August, 2003


Sunday, August 31st, 2003

Not much to write about today. Cool, breezy day of grocery shopping and idling about.

Thought For The Day: Those who misuse the word literally risk being misunderstood.

Life size photo of Zen's nose

Guitar, yah.

Saturday, August 30th, 2003

Printed out a bunch of tabs today. Hopefully this means that I will soon have a set list. Songs that I am working on are:

Suicide is Painless - M*A*S*H* theme with lyrics
Wu Bai song (Chinese)
Wu Bai song (Chinese)
Kiki – Liu Jeng (Chinese)
A Boy Named Sue – Shel Silverstein
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Apeman – the Kinks
Across the Universe – the Beatles
Hey Hey My My – Neil Young
Alice’s Restaurant (tune) – Arlo Guthrie
Nagisa Nite song (tune
Walk Don’t Run (tune) – the Ventures
Don’t Feat the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Welcome To The Machine – Pink Floyd
It Ain’t Me Babe – Bob Dylan
The Times They Are A-Changin – Bob Dylan
Positively 4th Avenue – Bob Dylan
All Along The Watchtower - Bob Dylan
The Tomato Song – Stompin’ Tom Connors
Tillsonburg – Stompin’ Tom Connors
The Mercy Seat – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Chelsea Hotel #2 – Leonard Cohen
The Story of Isaac – Leonard Cohen
That’s No Way To Say Goodbye – Leonard Cohen
I’m Your Man – Leonard Cohen
The Old Revolution – Leonard Cohen
Suzanne – Leonard Cohen
Stories of the Street – Leonard Cohen
So Long Marianne – Leonard Cohen
Famous Blue Raincoat – Leonard Cohen
Hurt – Nine Inch Nails (Johnny Cash acoustic version)
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
Long Black Veil – various
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
Heart of Gold – Neil Young
Brimful of Asha – Cornershop
Find the River – REM
The House of the Rising Sun – the Animals
Ich Bin Ein Auslander - Pop Will Eat Itself

Whew – that’s really a lot, isn’t it? But it shows how much I have learned since last summer when I picked the guitar up seriously for the first time. Hope I can actually learn these songs well. The Tomato Song is the easiest – G, D, and C cords.

Interesting day today. I met a Canadian woman who told me about her 13 years in Singapore, setting up her own franchise training school, and other things. She encouraged me to look into setting up my own company, hope I can make it work. She explained that it probably isn’t quite as difficult as it seems.

Went out for yummy Indian food, just with Naoko and Zen.

I seem to be having trouble with my pics on my main sites – I don’t know why, once I make minor or major changes on my site, none of the pics are preserved. They were there before, why aren’t they there any more?

Thought for the day: can anyone really think the unthinkable?

Here’s a cool picture of Big John.

blind drunk...

Zooming around in a toy car

Friday, August 29th, 2003

What a day – I called a bunch of Executive Placement agencies, also some website development agencies in the hopes that they are looking for a copywriter to write and edit content. I did get some interest, let’s see if it translates into a job. Picked Zen up from the kindergarten at 12:30, he was just falling asleep in the baby chair at the back of the bike as we came up to the apartment door. He slept a lot, so I got lots done – thanks Zen!

Got a book delivered to me – the Karate book that Hamish asked me to proofread! It looks great too!!!

When he woke up we went out for a ride and I explored the sinisterly-named Rifle Range Road. The road goes up into the hills and is actually the nicest cycling area I have found in the area where we live, which seems to be boxed in by major roads that have crappy sidewalks and bad bicycle access. Passed along nice forested roads, saw over a hundred monkeys along the road – nervous!

Time to post my Differences Between Japan and Singapore list:

drivers stop at zebra crossings
people talk on trains
people make eye contact
night buses to suburbs
green space between buildings
fewer seasons
no price ever the same
pick a language – any language
mini packs of cigs
hawker centres
garbage cans available for public use on roadsides and in parks
benches for mendicants like us to sit on (free)
fre bicycle parking
urban planning
unobstructed sidewalks
sports facilities
people using them
nobody says “atsui atsui atsui” constantly when it is hot out (it is hot every day)
any job open to westerners (if they are EP holders or have PR)
exponential networking
instant assistance/advice
no tooth sucking
birds make sounds like Matrix sentinels
P.D.A. (public display of affection)
car parking habits
littering is front page news
high cielings and doorways
no express trains
vending machines rare
hills instead of mountains
parasols rare

thought for the day In the land of assholes, some asshole is king.

That's me in the back.

Bad ad

Thursday, August 28th, 2003

Well, another day has gone by. I woke up feeling pretty positive today, but nothing can change that than sitting in a refrigerated (Singaporeans say air-conditioned, but we know better) room being interviewed for a low paying job with no security that this flimsy ad firm was trying to offer me today. All of the positive things I wanted to write today have been forgotten. Oh well.

Downloaded tons of tabs. When I print them out I will be able to sing and play on guitar “Positively 4th Street,” “the Story of Isaac,” and Stompin’ Tom’s “the Ketchup Song” (no, not the OTHER Ketchup Song).

Thought for the day: In a city of one way streets, the steering column is in the center of the car.

This pic was taken at Tiger Balm Gardens, but it also describes how I felt today.

... but when does it open?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2003

August 25th – over a month has gone by since I wrote the last entry. I was going to give up on the blog, but then Ralph set it up and what the hell. Not much has happened in a month – one writing project finished, another doomed, and a lot of phoning around. Over the weekend saw Polanski’s the Tenant, probably one of the strangest films ever, and Mitchan came over. Going to get my homepages organized one of these days, but Ralph is providing great encouragement. Still calling around a lot, hope all this pays off some day when I become the most well-connected networked gaijin in all Singapore. Writers need to be well connected, right?

This morning I got a call from Luk Haas, have just gotten in email contact with him from Joe Kidd in Kuala Lumpur and Luk called me when he got into town. Seems like a cool guy – been traveling with the International Red Cross for 16 years, uses his travels to learn more about punk bands in out-of-the-way places, has told me all about the punks in Tehran who have learned all at once about the scene outside of Iran and have set up their own bands to play home gigs, but have to do it all hush hush so none of the Tehran bands know anything about any of the other bands, each growing in isolation almost, influenced in part by the Pink Floyd and Who LPs of older brothers who got them in pre-1979 record shops. Wild. Will be sending him a copy of Head Cheese, Joe too. Phoned around a lot all morning, then wrote two book reviews for John Wiley. In the afternoon I got an email from Jaakko Poyry that the job I interviewed for last week would be going to somebody else. Nuts to that. Took Zen for a bike ride to try and explore the river path, found out that it is once again cut off by another highway. They have this great river path, but it is broken up in many places by highways so you cannot go along it for any length, what a waste of a potential good thing. Got caught in some heavy rain. Boy do I feel like a sap today. Nothing went right – all that useless phoning around and bad news, but at least I did turn in the reviews and earned 200 bucks in the process. And the call from Luk was cool, so it wasn’t all a waste. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Ralph helped me work out uploading problems, so hopefully I will be improving the websites slowly from now on.

July 10th – busy. Went to a 10:00 interview. Tried to get out of the house by 9, then when I got to the bus stop I saw that the bus had just passed by and was down the road and nearly around the corner. This is the second time that this has happened. Last time I waited 20 minutes for the next bus. If I wait 20 minutes today I will be late for the interview – took a taxi. The interview was OK, it was all done in Japanese and I guess I did OK. First time I have had to use Japanese for long periods of time since I have been here. Went to Ikea to get a bunch more stuff, including 2 more wall clocks!

July 9th – what a day – we went to Ikea in the morning. Before we left we got a call from the post office – they were delivering our boxes in the afternoon. Hooray, our stuff! At Ikea we got all kinds of cool Ikea stuff, and ate at Burger King – a Singapore indulgence. There was also an Apple shop, so I started dreaming about cool Apple terminals. Got home and waited for our boxes to arrive, then when they did we started unpacking. It sure is a joy to have your stuff again. I bought a wall clock at Ikea and hung that in the living room so that Naoko no longer has to ask me always what time it is. Should have bought two more for the bedroom and office. I set up the stereo next to the TV. We put some pictures we sent in the boxes up on the wall. With a stereo, a wall clock, and some personal pictures the place finally started to feel less like a hotel – no hotel I have ever stayed in has had a wall clock or a stereo, much less personal pictures. I also got 2 CDs that some record company had sent to me in Japan, some contact through Head Cheese. I wonder how that happened! Funny, now that I have moved from Japan to Singapore, I am actually quite close to these people. Better look them up one day.

Went for a swim with Zen to relax after the busy day. Nice sunset in the evening again. We really lucked out with the place – sure the afternoon sun is hotter than the morning sun, but nothing beats having a great sunset out the window.

July 8th – am noticing more and more crazy people around here. Naoko told me yesterday about the old lady singing karaoke at high volume in her first floor apartment with all of her windows open. Is this erratic behavior or was she just belligerent? Thousands of people live in these apartments, why is this woman so spaced out? In the temporary place up north the neighbor lady was insane too – talking to herself all night in a super loud cranky voice, or singing along with Jesus songs at high volume, always talking about her son. The people I lived with weren’t quite right either – he was quick tempered and jealous, she was living in a fantasy world, would tell stories to get out of sticky situations, always tried to be everybody’s friend but was not to be trusted… Then the other day on the bus there was an old lady who was throwing pieces of paper into a bag she placed in the seats across from her. Today two ladies almost walked into me – they came along a path, turned, and then came in a beeline right towards me as I was drying off. Bizarre.

July 6th – went to the zoo with Naoko and Zen, met Mitchan and Manae and their Taiwanese/Malaysian friends. The zoo is dead cool, nearly all green with barely any cages visible. Some monkeys are free to roam, and we saw lizards in the bushes in front of the capybara and tapir cage. Going to see the tigers was cool because they just jumped into the water – there were 2 tigers swimming!! I got it all on video. The pigmy hippo was strange, and the monkey show was cool. Got to see one orangutan husk a coconut, wow. The zebras there were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Saw an ostrich eat zebra poo, yuck. I liked the rhino family, although they were all half covered in mud.

June 26th – moving day! We had everything in suitcases and boxes, Meike came by with a few more boxes and I carried most of the stuff downstairs while they waited for me to get all the sweaty work done. Got a cab and put all the stuff in those two cars. I woke Anna up to give her back the key. Goodbyes were as short as could be. Sleepy girl, very sleepy. The cab driver was a very cool guy, maybe one of the coolest I have met. We got there pretty quick and unloaded, good stuff. Nice place to move into. Not much stuff to move, so it was easy. Went for a swim in the gorgeous pool – man, what a nice place.

June 22nd – went downtown to see Ralph at the YMCA, got there to find out he had just checked out!! We waited around a bit, then got a call on the cell phone that he was already in Bugis!! He had walked from one part of downtown to another!! We hopped onto the MRT and got to Bugis in 15 minutes. Walked around Arab Street, then went up to Little India for some snacks. Then took a cab to the Esplanade, the so-called Durian Hall, went up to the Merlion, then up to the luxurious Fullerton Hotel with the awesome enclosed courtyard lobby area. Discovered that Zen massive pooed and needed to be cleaned up, to that was a good place to do all of that cleaning in the baby room. Walked up Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, had some beers there. Walked through Fort Canning Park and came out near the YMCA again so we could have dinner. Saw Ralph into a cab and that was it – off to New Zealand. Hope to see him again soon. Went home to Yishun and had some of the yummy vodka he brought with me in the cool silver bottle.

June 21st – big surprise for Naoko and Zen, my brother Ralph is coming into town tonight and I haven’t told them. I told Naoko that we should go into town to this café near the YMCA, then when we passed the Y I ducked in saying we should pick up some free maps and there was my brother. Naoko was pretty shocked. We got our food at a nearby hawker center and enjoyed a long talk over some beers. Plenty of buses driving by to keep Zen happy. “Bus, bus!!”

Negi Changes Name to “Head Cheese.”

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

The satire magazine Negi, which ran a mere two issues, has recently announced a name change to the less vague and abstract “Head Cheese.”

“We felt that although we already have a strong readership,” said Negi/Headcheese publisher Brian Xerxes, “we were prevented from growing by the fact that not everybody knew exactly what a ‘negi’ really is. We hope that the term ‘cheese’ can be appropriate match for the byline ‘bite-sized for people with short attention spans’ and the snazzy cheddar color can conjure an appetizing image. The head goes for the cerebral part of the news business. As an added marketing bonus, we hope we can appeal to real producers of head cheese who think that we might be an industrial broadsheet.”

Head Cheese will be published later this month.


Secretary of Illegal Labor Appointed

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

In a surprise announcement by President-elect G. Dubyah, a new post in the cabinet was created for Secretary of Illegal Labor. This spot will be filled by Sandro Fernandez, an expert in the field of illegal labor who himself has employed several illegal immigrants as maids, drivers, and “companions,” and who has invested heavily in corporations that are known users of child labor.

“It is important that we cover this important field with experts that are the most suited to administer policy due correctly to the course of action to be undertaken by this administration,” Mr. Dubyah announced in a press conference in the capitol yesterday afternoon.

“I am happy that I have this opportunity to serve the country and my president,” said Mr. Fernandez in a prepared statement to the press, “and I hope I can bring awareness to the needs of illegal laborers in this country and others.”

Use of illegal labor is expected to grow by ten percent in the next four years.

English Voted World’s Stupidest Language

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

At last night’s Language Awards, presented by the United Nations Special International Council of Languages, English was chosen among all the world languages as the world’s stupidest language.

“And the award… for the world’s stupidest language… goes to… the English language!” announced the ecstatic awards presenter in English, nearly spilling out of her expensive dress.

On hand to pick up the award was a group of recent Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners from English-speaking countries.

“We felt that English outdid itself in all categories, from irregular verbs to confusing homophones and ambiguities and unnecessary use of trite synonyms,” explained UNSICL spokesman Bruno Ungerecht. “There are also lots of items that don’t have words in English, things that will simply be called ‘that big thing,’ or ‘red wing black bird,’ or ‘short-legged running hare.’ That’s not a language, that’s just a random collection of words.”

Time Magazine Covers Trendy Issue

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

For the fourth time this year, Time magazine is preparing to reach out to younger audiences by tackling a trendy issue – internet sports! The tackling of trendy issues, going back to an early ’80s cover story on video games, will give Time the opportunity to reach out to the next generation of Time subscribers, not to mention fill pages with colorful graphics and charts.

“Trendy issues, while not exactly news, are important for us to understand the trends that are shaping today’s society,” says Time spokesman Davide Jame. “Past generations had wars to get involved in, or at least the Cold War, and those were all well-documented by Time, but since the late ’80s and all those stories about the collapse of the USSR and how we won and all that there hasn’t been anything sensational for us to dig our teeth into.”

Recent months have shown the magazine tackling the internet, information technology, the next wave of video games, the next wave of cell phones, and information technology on the internet. Now with the true development of internet sports past the fad stage, writers are being assigned bold new articles to write and exciting new side boxes to fill.

“Internet sports is exactly where we are right now, right at this moment,” says Jame. “We just can’t let this moment pass.”

Film Review: “Being Charlie Sheen”

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

Any time that a movie comes out of nowhere and surprises the world and Hollywood financiers alike by earning its budget back several times over, it’s no secret that a sequel is already hastily being thrown together.

And so hot on the heels of “Being John Malkovich” comes the sequel that really not everybody was waiting for “Being Charlie Sheen.”

The sequel, which has none of the talent behind the original film besides Charlie Sheen, is a quick relief sequel while “Being John Malkovich” director Spike Jonze concentrates on the prequel to his movie, to be titled “Being Caspar Weinberger.”

The new film follows the amorous adventures of Charlie Sheen as he films his role in “Being John Malkovich.” Plot twists develop when his body is taken over by the dispossessed spirit of John Malkovich himself. As Sheen/Malkovich stumbles through life with an identity crisis, Malkovich takes over and wins Sheen/Malkovich a part in an Academy Award winning film about the life of… Spike Jones!

Directed by Emilio Estevez, who has not directed his brother Charlie Sheen in a film since the pair teamed up to make “Men At Work” in 1990.