Archive for September, 2013

Malhavoc, Premeditated Murder

Sunday, September 29th, 2013
MPM

MPM

Malhavoc, Premeditated Murder – I love this album and know all of its tracks very well. I bought it in 1992 or 1993 in Taiwan on cassette and listened to it to death; now I can’t listen to that cassette any more… so I bought the used CD online! Nice. All Malhavoc is good music. The band changed a fair bit over the years, but this is their heaviest and most cohesive album.

The songs are evil industrial metal with a bit of drum machine and keyboard, but are generally very dark and crunchy. The lyrics are processed Whisperer From The Dark scary-sounding voices, and this is a concept album built around serial killing that is is dedicated to George Romero. Opening track “Languish” is a cool tune built around a very nice riff, a build-up of drums, bass, and finally the spooky vocals. In the middle is an empty bridge part that leads into a very scary growl-fest with nasty big drums that just make you want to stomp! Aaaah!!! “Solitude” starts off with a mellow distorted drum sound, hits the fake drum machine beats, then gets going into nastiness. There’s some cool Sabbath-like riffing, a slowed-down bridge, with a buildup into a very cool “leave me alone, leave me alone” moment. It’s said with such scariness that I doubt anybody would disobey that request!! Fantastic riffing on the outro, it’s like a totally new song!! “Crusade” starts off with weird guitar riffage, then bursts into… metal disco! Very groovy indeed, and totally unexpected. Maybe the best song on the album for effect. “Conspiracy” starts quick with a light riff, a “yo”, and then tough riffing. The last part gets very mellow, then a quiet moment… and it all starts up again!! “The LOC (Loss Of Control)” is more of a standard thrash tune with wild wah-ing notes, and some trippy programmed drums. Nice. “Kill (Dislocated)” is one of the weaker tracks on the collection, dominated by a chiming keyboard sound, although with time the guitars still find a way to take over. It bounces between jumpy sections and doesn’t ever really build up a groove – it serves merely to irritate and build tension. Not sure why the spooky keyboard instrumental “Extro” appears in the middle of the album, other than as a musical joke reference, but it’s a nice intro to “Beginning The End”, which is built out of a cheap drum sound and a cheap guitar sound, it nevertheless gets going nicely in the middle when it really gets the lead out with some great shredding. “Age Of Dark Renaissance” is an instrumental intro to “Urban Grandier” that starts off with drums, which combine with guitars to make a funky intro to a very cool doomy tune with big bad Electric Wizard bass sounds. “Urban Grandier” has a creepy, weird opening riff that incorporates strange drum timings. Not sure how they get that off-rhythm rhythm effect, but it’s marvelous! The song changes and changes and changes – prog metal. The vocals are the most whispery vocals on the whole album, and there are amazing instrumental sections in the second section. Halfway through it gets really weird and spooky – stunning! “Dunwich Horror” is HP Lovecraft stuff, with thick riffs glomming on and on into Metallica land. The instrumental eventually builds up into a very cool guitar and drum back-and-forth that is just eternal! “Emprical Minds” is a bit of denouement that has a very nice little spin to it, with Renaissance-sounding chords, slow instrumental bits that are near-melodic, and then the insanity returns. It’s also the longest song on the album. Very groovy.

No Mercy Fool!/The Suicidal Family

Sunday, September 29th, 2013
STNMFTSF

STNMFTSF

Suicidal Tendencies, No Mercy Fool!/The Suicidal Family – A pretty cool re-recording of seven Suicidal Tendencies songs from their second album of 1987, “Join The Army”, as well as seven No Mercy songs, four of which appeared on the first (and only) No Mercy album “Widespread Bloodshed Love Runs Red”, with three No Mercy new recordings (although one of them, “Something Inside Me”, has turned up here and there, such as on Friends And Family Volume 2).

The new recordings sounds pretty good, with funky new intros, and showoff bass moments. “Possessed To Skate” gets a big new doomy intro of nearly 30 seconds before the famous bass squall kicks in. Cool Rocky George-like guitar squealing here, something that the band has abandoned recently (although the guitar synthesizer sound in the chorus is a bit silly). “Join The ST Army” is a bit harder than the original, a bit less funky. Strangely, the band does not re-record “War Inside My Head”, an ST classic.

The No Mercy songs are marvelous – “Come Alive” is sheer evil and rocks very hard, with nasty choruses along the lines of darker Infectious Grooves tunes. “Something Inside Me” pounds nastiness and shreds mightily, but other than the prominent shredding it still sounds pretty similar to the version of the song that ST recorded on Friends And Family Volume 2. “No Mercy Fool” is a cool stomper, that starts off with the promise “Let’s kick the dust off this mother!” It’s a big, nasty tune with tough guy shouted chorus stuff. (None of these first three No Mercy songs were on the original No Mercy album) “We’re Fuckin’ Evil” is a much faster song, it’s pounding and smashing all over the place (although it’s not as good as the version on Friends And Family Volume 2, which has a very cool intro). It’s EVIL!! “Crazy But Proud” is sweet and nasty and crunches along!! “I’m’ Your Nightmare” kicks off with a spooky intro, then after a while picks up into a messy fast punker. “Widespread Bloodshed… Love Runs Red” also grooves mightily, and that’s all she wrote.

Bone, Jeff Smith

Saturday, September 28th, 2013
B

B

Bone, Jeff Smith – I kept reading about what a great comic Bone is, so I thought I should read it for myself. Turns out, it is very good! The three Bone cousins – pretty funny; the humans – noble; the dragons – mysterious; the monsters – damn cool; the villains – disgusting; the backstory – confusing; the art – amazing; the dialogue – not too bad. the role models – Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings. Great stuff.

I got the 1,333 page full black-and-white volume, so I can read it all in one go, which is good fun. The bloody thing weighs two kilos!! It’s a big chunk of wood pulp!! Ultimately, of course, the story is not entirely satisfying, and there’s a fair amount of aimless wandering, one huge error (involving Kingdok’s missing tongue, which was sacrificed for a “cat got your tongue” visual pun, only to re-appear briefly when he talks clearly during one confrontation); the character of Phoney Bone (and the reason for him being hunted by the Hooded One) is a weak point in the book as well. Smith also has a knack for not bothering to name his characters – only one of the dragons has a name, and it’s not the one we see the most often (the red dragon); another character is the Hooded One, and the monsters are simply called “rat creatures” or “hairy men” (which is doing them a disservice, as they are incredibly fluid and expressive). Having two characters with very simlar names (Fone Bone and Phoney Bone) is also kind of lame. Early on there’s a hint that Phoney Bone and the Hooded One are already acquainted, but nothing comes of this (maybe it was my imagination…). There’s also a lot of falling off cliffs with very few bones actually being broken… but hey, you can’t have everything, and these are minor points in a really great success.

The story starts with the Bone cousins (three weird-looking orphan creatures – one greedy, one goofy, one noble), goofing around on a plateau, having been run out of their home-town of Boneville by their fellow townsfolk. Very soon they are knocked into a valley by a herd of locusts (this is part of a grand plan, which only comes to light mid-way through the book), where they meet dragons, humans, and rat creatures. They meet Thorn, who is a princess, and Rose, who is a warrior queen, and get mixed up in all sorts of village intrigues (cow racing), make friends with forest creatures (like Ted the bug, and the possum family), while escaping being eaten by the amazing rat creatures (check out the running quiche joke). I fact, there’s a lot of saving-people-from-the-sharp-teeth-and-chomping-jaws-of-the-rat-creatures throughout the whole book, and a few confrontations with the Hooded One… at least until the giant cat Roque Ja (rock jaw) shows up… not sure why he shows up, actually… Thorn is cool and beautiful… love her. There are long scenes of domestic chore-doing, of Phoney Bone’s scheming and money grubbing, and early on there are sweet scenes of Fone Bone’s love for Thorn. Then there’s the dreams – bizarre and trippy. Love them. There’s peculiarly innocent intrigues at the Spring Fair (Thorn falls for a hunky hawker), then there’s funny Ren and Stimpy-like scenes with inbred local villagers planning on whether to bet on Grandma Ben’s running or the Mystery Cow, which no one’s seen. Fone Bone’s lame love poems are hilarious. And there are plenty of household chores to be done. Wow. Weirdness in Barrelhaven as Lucius competes with Phoney Bone for popularity, Grandma Ben gets “the gitchy feeling”. Our friends confront the rat creatures and Kingdok in the forest, and there’s more great comic relief with the two rat creatures. Then it starts to get complicated as the plot kicks into gear – Thorn fights with Grandma Ben, Phoney Bone becomes the evil boss of Barrelhaven, the Lord of the Locusts shows up, there’s the appearance of a baby rat creature (kind of a Dobby moment, but much better), evil dreams, The Hooded One conferring with the Lord of the Locusts, crazy armies, a one-armed Kingdok’s frustrations, and Phoney Bone’s phony dragonslaying and treasure. Fone Bone reads Moby Dick to the enemies, they fall asleep, ha ha. Forest orphans help our heroes escape the nutty Roque Ja (awww… cuuuuute!!!), tunnels through the mountain are discovered, there’s a haunted and evil dragon temple, and a nutty temporary alliance between the orphans and the rat creatures as everyone escapes from a furious Kingdok. Debating happiness with Roque Ja, then Kingdok’s betrayal of Roque Ja (“here is your reward – chomp!!!”) and all that results of it, forest escapes, rat patrols, teams breaking apart and joining up again (which also reminds me of the Lord of the Rings voyages, upon which this tale seems clearly to be modeled – the reanimated Briar even looks a little bit like Gollum!), locusts appearing, an evil ceremony with the Phoney Bone blimp, rescues, reunions, people getting cut in half at the waist, reanimation, and the start of the war. The third section of the book is all about these big battles (as is the third section of Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King). The Bones are randomly turned into characters from Moby Dick (why?), the land is blasted into ash as the Dreaming invades “reality” and spreads ghost circles, marking the partial return of the Lord of the Locusts. Wow! It’s like a video game!! Wild ‘n’ wacky dreams (Moby Dick, history, etc), more rat patrols, stepping through the ghost circles, hearing ghosts, meeting magicians, remembering youth histories, narrow escapes in the dragon’s graveyard, sneaking into town, trust and mistrust, the crown of thorns, more dreams, the battle of Atheia, the tyranny of Tarsil the head of the Vanu (and his tale of taking on the dragons), Thorn jumping out of the fort, flying over enemies, Fone Bone sneaking through rat creature hordes clinging to Bartelby’s stomach (like the Argonauts did!!), quiche for the traitorous two rat creatures (to convince them that the city can last any long siege), Kingdok’s battle with Thorn, Lucius confronting Briar, the zap of the universe, the wrath of the dragons, the treachery of the red dragon, and the finale. Weird awards ceremony scene at the end, like in Star Wars Episode IV, and then the parting of ways, like the end of the Lord Of The Rings. And Phone Bone is once more denied a treasure. Strange. But funny and fun, and a great yarn full of adventure and excitement. What more could you ask for?

Strangely, one thing is missing – the conference of the dragons and their refusal to help. Wonder why we hardly see any more dragons than we do (and when they all come out at the end it’s a bit anti-climactic – we hardly know more than one of them, and there are soooo many!!).

The art is amazing, and in many ways mirrors what Tezuka Osamu did with his Phoenix stories – tales of mortals, history, iconography, religious monument and legend, dreaming and fantasy, mystical creatures. Very nice. Smith also does funky things with repetition and subtle change, love that a lot. It’s all black and white, as originally presented, although I know that there are colorised versions of Bone around.

Funnily enough, there’s a Herman Melville connection – Fone Bone carries a copy of Moby Dick around with him wherever he goes (why Moby Dick?), he becomes a major advocate of the tale of the White Whale in several scenes in the book, and when Smiley Bone adopts a baby rat creature he calls him Bartelby (the Scrivener – get it?).

Weird how Ted appears often throughout the book, but his brother, a giant leaf bug, comes into the scene in the opening pages but then never re-appears – it was a great sight gag at the time, and we could have done with more of Ted’s brother. Oh well…

Funny how the book has 1,334 pages, and the review does too!!

It's platonic, actually...

It's platonic, actually...

Great physical comedy

Great physical comedy

Love those rat creatures...

Love those rat creatures...

Still love those rat creatures...

Still love those rat creatures...

Smiley isn't as funny as he should be, but I love his reaction here

Smiley isn't as funny as he should be, but I love his reaction here

Thorn's mother appears

Thorn's mother appears

This is one big book!

This is one big book!

Bone: 9 inches, 1.8 kilograms of reading pleasure

Bone: 9 inches, 1.8 kilograms of reading pleasure

Suicidal Tendencies, 13

Saturday, September 28th, 2013
ST13

ST13

Suicidal Tendencies, 13 – Suicidal Tendencies is back in 2013, a year that they really couldn’t resist putting out an album, given lead singer Mike Muir’s typical 13 logo shirts; oh yeah – it’s also been 13 years since their last album of new songs (although in 2010 they did put out re-recordings of their second album, and songs from the unreleased No Mercy second album). By the way, the album also has 13 songs (it would have had less, but they added two or three filler tracks to hit that magic number).

The new album is very busy, with tons of virtuoso string bending, drum pounding, bass flailing, and a kinda-sorta Rocky George-style shredding over a rockin’ base track. In the punishing first song “Shake It Out”, the lyric “can someone please get me a Diet Pepsi” is a hilarious send-up to the first song of the first album, “Institutionalised” with its famous “All I wanted was a Pepsi – and she wouldn’t give it to me!!” line, updated to modern times when each member of the band is plus-sized (sadly, the band has rarely put out a song to match the sheer fury and genius “Institutionalised”, and they certainly don’t on this album). “Smash It” is just that, and it’s a great opener, while “This Ain’t No Celebration” is good rockin’ tunage with a good riff. “God Only Knows Who I Am” is a cool mellow tune with great melodies and a cool swampy vibe. “Make Your Stand” is a silly punk rocker that sort of smashes on and on. “Who’s Afraid?” is a superior ST song – “who’s afraid to get psycho?!?!” “Show Some Love…Tear It Down” is a so-so punker, it’s okay. “Cyco Style” is another so-so punker, but with good riffs. “Slam City” is definitely one of the better songs on the album, with very cool crunchiness throughout and great songwriting. “Till My Last Breath” is so-so rockin’ punk. “Living The Fight” is a great rocker that just smashes on and on. “Life (Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It)” is a pretty cool tune, it rocks on and on as well. Great shredding!! “This World” is a big song!!

Marianne Faithfull, Before The Poison

Saturday, September 28th, 2013
MFBTP

MFBTP

Marianne Faithfull, Before The Poison – This is the amazing CD that Ms Marianne Faithfull put out in 2003 in collaboration with PJ Harvey, and on some songs Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds! What’s not to love about that!! And even better… the collaborators bring in the goods!!! It’s not a disappointment – it actually really really rocks!!!! Oh Lord, yeah!!!!! PJ Harvey wrote four songs on the album (and co-wrote one more with Faithfull), while Nick Cave wrote one and co-wrote two with Faithfull. Filling out the album, there’s one song by Damon Albarn, and one more song by Jon Brion. The Bad Seeds back up Faithfull on the three songs that Cave wrote or co-wrote.

The first song “The Mystery Of Love” is a pretty little song that is more in the usual Marianne Faithfull vein, but the second one, “My Friends Have”, could have been a PJ Harvey rocker. Very nice indeed – short, sweet, rocking, and you get that unmistakable PJ Harvey background vocal effect too; both of these songs were written by PJ herself. “Crazy Love” has music by Nick Cave and lyrics by Faithfull, it’s a nice storytelling piano-driven tune with gorgeous fiddle in the middle. “Last Song”, written by Damon Alborn, is a beautiful guitar tune, and you really get Marianne’s gorgeous voice full on, with spooky piano kicking in mid-way. Not sure the orchestration was really necessary, though… “No Child Of Mine” is a cool little guitar and piano tune, very spooky, but it quickly gets quite dramatic, with handclaps and plenty of percussion. “Before The Poison” is largely a guitar song, with some percussion, and very melancholic. It also rocks!! “There is a Ghost” is a fantastic Nick Cave track that sounds like an outtake from “And No More Shall We Part”, probably his best album, so this is a very nice “forgotten” find for Bad Seeds fans. “In The Factory” is a strumming little tune that rocks nicely. “Desperanto” is a rambling near-rap collaboration with Cave that features the full roar of The Bad Seeds rocking and making unholy noise, somewhat like “Babe, I’m On Fire”, the superior closing number to Cave’s Nocturama of the same year that deliciously just roams on and on – this one does too, but for only four minutes! Closing track “City Of Quartz” is a light lullaby-like tune by Jon Brion,

One small complaint – the release is simply too short! These talented collaborators could have pulled off a few more numbers, or even a double album! The cover photo, of our lovely junky posing with a sweet young girl in a colonial mansion, is also stunning. The booklet has a pretentious introduction by Will Self (“Cuntish cantor, ululating underwriter, it has the front to sell you insurance at the very door to your burning heart.”), and closes with a thank-you note by Faithfull.

Joseph Conrad, The Eastern Stories

Saturday, September 28th, 2013
JCTES

JCTES

Joseph Conrad, The Eastern Stories – Penguin has compiled the stories that Joseph Conrad wrote about his seafaring in Southeast Asia and put them in a single volume, which concludes with “The Secret Sharer”. There are six stories, ranging from 18 pages to 158. Many of them are quite dull, but all of them are well written, and many was the time I drifted out of my boredom and realised that I was reading a really awesomely well-written piece of English fiction! Many of the pieces are semi-autobiographical, especially the first one, “Youth”, which tells the tale of a near-disastrous voyage carrying coal from Newcastle to Bangkok. Ah… youth! Recounted by an old man around a table in the public house with fellow company directors, it’s a man vs nature tale of romance and majesty. “The End Of The Tether”, the longest tale in the book, is probably the best, recounting the tale of a washed-up seaman who takes on a contract with a despotic ship-owner, also the ships chief engineer (who therefore accompanies every voyage and hampers the captain’s work), who comes to a disastrous decision. It’s also the only tale in the book to drift into Singapore, with some scenes around the Padang and the Esplanade. Crazy stuff. “The Secret Sharer” is also a strange, nearly homoerotic tale of a man and his double. “For The Dollars” is a tale of tragedy and sacrifice deep in the jungle, very nice stuff. “The Lagoon” is an interesting tale of a man who betrays his brother for the love of a woman, while “Karain: A Memory” is another tale of revenge gone wrong. At the beginning is an 18-page introduction by Ban Kah Choon, whom I know nothing about, but I suppose he’s some sort of a historian specialising in the history of 20th century Southeast Asia.

Stompin’ Tom Connors playing at the Horseshoe Tavern

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Wow – a concert from 1973 featuring Stompin’ Tom Connors playing at the Horseshoe Tavern! History!!

Maris Stella weekend

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Nice weekend – Saturday morning we went to see Zen’s (most likely) future school, where he was invited to attend after doing well in a softball try-out (they have a softball team) and showing promising academic scores – he still needs to do well in the actual year-end tests to clinch the deal, but he should be able to. It’s a very good school in Singapore, so it’s a great opportunity.

It’s in Serangoon, so it took us about 45 minutes to get there – we were luck with the transfers, and there was only light traffic, Zen will probably have to deal with longer commutes when he’s actually attending the school. Oh well…

We were very impressed with the campus, on top of a hill and next to a park, although we had trouble finding it – the Maris Stella Secondary School near the bus stop was actually the primary school!! Talk about mis-labelling.

After that we went to eat a Singapore-style hot pot. Nice restaurant, the food was not too bad, but it was empty – weird to eat in an empty restaurant.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening chilling out and relaxing. Sunday morning reading, cleaning, guitar playing, songwriting, and in the evening I went to see Chris Lister play live at Crazy Elephant.

park next to Maris Stella school

park next to Maris Stella school

Maris Stella school gate

Maris Stella school gate

In front of Maris Stella school

In front of Maris Stella school

In front of Maris Stella school's softball trophy case

In front of Maris Stella school’s softball trophy case

Our hot pot lunch - before

Our hot pot lunch – before

Our hot pot lunch - after

Our hot pot lunch – after

The 96%

The 96%

Here’s a poster for a recent “kindness campaign” in the local transportation system. They give a number, “96%”, but don’t cite any source or survey, so I’m guessing that someone just made up the number; surveys are expensive, gotta save money!!

Lucifugous, X’ho and Arcn Temple

Saturday, September 14th, 2013
LXAT

LXAT

Lucifugous, X’ho and Arcn Temple – I like Arcn Temple because it’s a side project of Leslie Low and Vivian Wang of The Observatory, Singapore’s best space rock band. Arcn Temple plays trippy space instrumentals, but this time they team up with X’Ho to create weird, moody, Skinny Puppy-ish Satanic music that is really just plain weird (and, therefore, maybe not so very Satanic). The first track “Sodom Me” (sounds like another word) starts off with weird sounds, crazy beats, then strange Skinny Puppy-ish sombre vocals. Hmmm… wild interlude with spooky Satanic growling. Wow! “Her Soul’s Demise” is a collection of strange soundscapes of spooky sounds, no beats until about 2/3 in, and some sort of stark, gloomy Depeche Mode balladry. It’s nearly all words, with a bit of knob-twiddling in between. I wonder if it’s about Singapore, otherwise known as the Little Red Dot (since that’s all you can see of it on most world maps), with lyrics like “Famous small Dot, demands a lot/ Like a hungry maniac, she thinks she’s God/ She wants unbridled power & all of its glory/ Travels ‘roudn the world, floggin’ one-sided story.” “Nosferatu” has truly awful lyrics (much worse than the other examples on the album), like “Who’s hairy? Is hairy hairy? What is hairy? Who knows hairy?”, but it’s still a good track nonetheless based on its production values. “Lord Of Mirage” is more like a moody, atmospheric Observatory song, fully of wispy lyrics, percussion and post rock guitar sounds. Nice. “Zombie Hitler Youth” is a cool song that just sort of strums along, also very critical of a Singapore-like modern society and its values, it seems like it was partly inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Autumn Gold“. “Lucifugous” returns us to Skinny Puppy and industrial territory, with spoken voices rather than growls. It is a trippy tune that drones and loops, starting with Chinese lyrics about the lion demon king (wonder who that could be) and his ghost eyes (CCTV, perhaps?), and the fright of humanity. The English lyrics are prose, telling about the fall of Eden. Lucifugous is actually an English word, meaning “avoiding light”, and they handily provide a definition in the lyrics booklet. The final words: “hairier than Lucifer” (and now that “who’s hairy”, ie Harry, lyric makes more sense). “Lamb (Von)” has strange keyboard sounds, talking, and scary growling of the word “lamb”. It’s very scary stuff, man!! “Satan’s Blood” is more soundscapes, no guitar or drum, and spoken word. “Rosalie’s Fray” is simple guitar strums and whispering, soundbites, and spooky sounds. A nice song, actually, and a more personal exploration. I wonder who Rosalie is…

The packaging is cool – the box is a vinyl single-sized cardboard pizza box-type of device with a fold-in tab to close it, numbered (I have 162), there’s a sticker, a black booklet, and a sticker of the album cover, which shows an artistic St Peter’s Cross with arcane anatomical textbook images. Very weird. Inside the booklet are photo collages of human, anatomical and religious imagery. One of them shows a man covered in heavy thai tattoos, his head covered by a swastika made of black penises. Weird!

The booklet contains a page of song lyrics (with song credits below the lyrics), facing an image. The first “song” in the booklet is “Journey To Apeiron”, which is really just a bonus poem since that song is not on the CD at all, then it kicks into “Sodom Me” and the rest of the songs in order, one per two pages. Nice. The booklet is also larger format, also the size of a vinyl single.

The closing words to the album are pretty cool:

I want to make an album no one in my country would dream of making – songs with simple chords that drone like hymnal echoes of mental notes. Usually, the songs came to me after a night’s sleep. They feel like “belief-accessories”. I describe them as a form of “purgatorial minstrel music” to help appease the raging disquiet.

Stay Haunted.

Naoko’s birthday

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Today was Naoko’s birthday!! We woke up, chilled out, headed into town at 11:00, went for brunch at Raffles Hotel’s Bar And Billiard Room, which was great – check out those pictures below!! The food was amazing – they had salad stuff (with great olives, meat stuff (lamb, filet mignon in peppercorn sauce), fish stuff (shrimps, raw oysters and smoked salmon), cooked stuff (ratatouille, gnocchi and other stuff), cheese stuff, wine, coffee… and great decor! It was pretty empty too, which was nice, and we chilled out for over two hours, eating and chatting and enjoying ourselves immensely. What a great birthday for Naoko that all three of us could enjoy!

After that we wandered around Raffles Hotel, then went to the public library to renew Oliver Twist for Zen (he’s only one third of the way through it), then went to Swee Lee music to buy an acoustic amplifier for my new guitar, then over to Guitar 77 in the Excelsior Plaza on Coleman Street to pick up my Seagull (I had them set it up), then to get some groceries, and into a cab and go home. Whew!!

Now it’s evening and we’re chilling out. People are calling to wish Naoko a happy birthday. It’s great.

In front of Rafles Hotel

In front of Rafles Hotel

Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Naoko, Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Naoko, Bar And Billiard Room, Raffle Hotel, lunch buffet

Naoko's selection

Naoko’s selection

Me 'n' my cheeses

Me ‘n’ my cheeses

We three buffeteers

We three buffeteers

Naoko's birthday cake, courtesy of Raffles Hotel

Naoko’s birthday cake, courtesy of Raffles Hotel

Pete 'n' Naoko

Pete ‘n’ Naoko

Naoko 'n' chandelier

Naoko ‘n’ chandelier

In the Raffles Hotel garden

In the Raffles Hotel garden

In the Raffles Hotel garden

In the Raffles Hotel garden

Zen pluckin' the strings at Swee Lee Music

Zen pluckin’ the strings at Swee Lee Music