Archive for January, 2004

Gordon Lightfoot

Monday, January 26th, 2004

Hey Ho, another weekend gone by, another Chinese New Year over, going to work again tomorrow after 4.5 days off. This will be a crazy nutty week with 2 articles due, perhaps 2400 words or so, hope I am good for it. Strange weekend – yesterday it rained all day, so we just hung around near home. 10 AM went to search for the lion dancing that was supposed to happen, found out it was delayed until after 11, then Dominic the neighbor came by to invite us over for snacks and hanging out like people do in Chinese New Year. Xavier watched a lot of TV, but Zen had fun playing with is trucks. Went to the dragon and lion dancing with tummies full of Chinese snacks, heard lots of loud drumming and saw the wild lion dancing. Went off to Tony and Barbaras for more snacks and coffee after that, cool. Nice cheese and crackers, but Zen was nasty to their youngest daughter Aysia, how odd for Zen to do that but he does seem to be more aggressive with kids close to his age. Hung out the rest of the afternoon reading and writing and researching. Printed out 5 new songs – Ashes To Ashes, The Man Who Stole The World, Wicked Game, The One I Love, and Wendell Gee. Turns out Wicked Game and the One I Love are super easy songs to play, so they are already in my repertoire after only a little practice.

Today… more rain so we really mellowed out at home. Watched some TV and listened to some tunes and played some guitar. Did some preparation for work tomorrow, Zen napped, Ailing came over with Christmas presents – we haven’t seen her for a while – went for a swim and then we had Japanese curry rice for dinner. Mum and dad like it, amazing. Zen fell asleep at 9:30, so there is time to write blogs!

Cute Kid On Bus 1

Cute Kid On Bus 2

week cycle

Saturday, January 24th, 2004

Hey ho, another five days have gone by. Let’s see how fast I can get through describing THIS crazy week. First of all, I only worked a half week – Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday. After that was all off for Chinese New Year. Hooray for that. Monday and Tuesday were unproductive at work as I called around all over the place and didn’t get anyone at all on the line, and barely any email respoinse. OK. Wednesday I was more productive in a half day than in the two previous full days, go figure. Tuesday was a shocker, because an important person suddenly put in his resignation – yoiks! Oh well, life goes on.

Monday was Mum’s birthday, so we were supposed to go out for food in Chinatown, but the clouds opened up and it rained for hours all afternoon, so I headed home and we had schnitzel and wine – yay. Naoko bought mum flowers, which was nice. Ralph didn’t call or email, so mum was heavily bummed out. Maybe she’ll get over it some day, or maybe she will be bitter about it for the rest of her life. Happens to everybody. Yes, EVERYBODY!

Tuesday we did get a chance to go out to Chinatown, and it was fun wandering around the streets and alleys. Chinatown might seem redundant in a Chinese place like Singapore, but that’s what they call it (incidentally, the Chinese themselves call it “niu che shui,” which means “horse car water”). Chinatown has a lot of Chinese shops (uh… so does the rest of Singapore) but what is special about Singapore is the cool old buildings and the shops that have been there for ages and ages. The shophouses are well-preserved, and the streets were lined with stalls selling plastic crap and obligatory CNY stuff. We found lots of funny styrofoam monkey figurines decorating the awnings and bridges, then wandered until we found the Yam Cha Restaurant my co-worker had told me about. Ate a small-ish meal for four with beers for 88 bucks, not bad. Dad paid, thanks dad. The food was great, but the service sucked hard – they brought us the wrong dish once – monkey head mushroom shark fin insead of the monkey head mushroom vegetable that we ordered. The wrong dish was only 8 times as expensive as the one we really ordered!! Monkey head mushroomy, by the way, are amazingly delicious – great texture and amazing juicy taste. They also overcharged our beers, took their time bringing food, and weren’t too friendly. Long Beach, and Tienjin Guan are both a million times better, but you can’t always go there. Mum had trouble finding non-fish food, but we sorted it out.

Wednesday I only worked a half day, got home at 2:30, rushed off to IMM to buy a printer and a fan and some beer and wine. Not too crowded, but we were over 45 minutes in the taxi queue waiting for our ride home. Not many were coming, all the CHinese taxi drivers were off work and the non-Chinese taxis were speeding around taking Chinese people over to the relatives houses, stuff like that. Hmmm… At least we got a good printer and can now print things at home. Will come in handy with the new translation we got.

Thursday we just hung out here all day, went swimming, cycling, hung out, went to the park, played guitar.

Today, Friday, we went to Sentosa. It was a good day to go as we could avoid the crowds, but unfortunately it rained on and off all day. We got there by bus, took a cable car over, then the monorail around and it poured down rain. When it stopped we got off and walked along the Merlion walk, then up along the cable car loop, ate pizza lunch and had coffees, then took the cable car back. What did we do on Sentosa besides ride the monorail and see the Merlion? Took the cable car to Mount Faber and saw that, it was pretty OK up there. Got home, chilled out, went for a swim, saw some local lion dancers, watched Pitigora Switch on TV, ate dinner. Amazingly, Zen went to sleep near 7. Poor kid, he had a fun day but it sure was tiring with barely any nap besides a bit in the stroller.

the Sentosa Three

Space: 1999

Monday, January 19th, 2004

Hey ho, a Sunday. I watched Space: 1999 last night, it was OK. Rather dull until the last horrific 30 seconeds. The guy who played Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon was in it too! Better episodes are “the Light of Life” and “the Dragon’s Lair.” Want to see those! Today we woke up at 7:30 and went off to MacRitchie Reservoir. It was so nice – not too bright sunny, great breezes blowing cool, Zen did a lot of walking too! Saw a dozen monkies, which was fun and funny, then came back home for lunch and a nap. I did some tidying and work and writing and researching, then went off to Courts to look at printers, but they only had a few crappy ones, so the hunt is still on. Had a nice dinner and walk and then did all the usual evening things. Zen got to sleep at 10:15 and Mum and Dad got back at 10:30 from all their adventuring. Time to catch up tomorrow.

diffuse character

Sunday, January 18th, 2004

Hey ho, here we go again. Can’t remember much about Wednesday Thursday Friday really… Thursday I went to the Shangri-La hotel to catch up to the risk management conference that was going on there, that was a lot of fun! Great food, and I chose a seat next to the Hong Kong banker that I had wanted to talk to in the first place – lucky! She was so-so interesting, but I met a few other cool people. Started to get stressed out about the article I am trying to write that is not coming together yet. But I am getting help and it will work out. Talked to an interesting German banker, though, sounds like a nice guy. Friday was some more stress out, punctuated with a quick rush off to the Four Seasons hotel to attend a press conference with 5 other journalists. That was confusing, but quite interesting actually. Took a cab home with 2 others and they were nice. Called around all afternoon, had some luck and missed some luck as well. Got home and Naoko and Zen and I ate out Indian again like we usually do on Fridays. Today Naoko was off to work, I went to buy rice, cleaned the apartment, went swimming with Zen, ate lunch, napped, did computer stuff, watched sumo, went to the park, ate dinner, drank a bottle of wine and watched Drunken Fist 2 on TV – what a great flick. Noticed that Space: 1999 is on TV tonight. Great, I finally get to find out if it is really as good as I remember it was as a kid. Very curious.

Book Review: Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence. Lawrence of the coal mining town, not Lawrence of Arabia. This is the 1952 paperback edition and quite yellowed. I could only finish half of this incredibly dull book before I had to give up and re-read Eric McCormack. The first part is good and reminds me of Angela’s Ashes, which of course came later, but then it turned into a confusing phantasmagoria of flakey images, as the young artist defines himself and his love. Big deal. Fathers and Sons was much more interesting and it got to the point quickly. But is it ethical to review a book you didn’t actually finish?

Book Review: Inspecting the Vaults - by Eric McCormack. A professor at my old university, this is actually a collection of 20 short stories with his novel the Paradise Motel bundled in for good measure. This is probably the third or fourth time I am reading this, but it still amazes. The strange world of the title story, the bizarre tale of brother and sister Edward and Georgina, the vividly described Train of Gardens (just take the title literally), the Fugue, One Picture of Trotsky, Anyhow In A Corner (great title), and the incredible A Long Day on the Town with its gloomy characters and their amazing histories. The Swath amazes, it would make a great film, and Festival is chilling in its horror. I was surprised with the Hobby, about a train hobbyist and what happens to a couple when he rents a basement room in their house – remarkable. The Paradise Hotel would also make a great movie, and somebody should turn it into a screenplay at least. Strangely, I found it a bit tamer than the short stories I had read, even the Sad Stories In Patagonia that inspired it. Interesting the relationship between Ezra and his grandfather. Wild tales of truth and nothingness, tribes and civilizations (or lack of it) and groovy stuff like that.

Movie Review – Drunken Fist 2. Probably Jackie Chan, also starring the recently deceased Anita Mui in amazing comic freakout, even funnier that they are supposed to be a mother and son relationship. Jackie Chan plays Huang Fei Hong, the same role that Jet Li played in his famous Once Upon A Time In China films, and it is about Feihong trying to stop nasty foreigners from stealing Imperial treasures. He gets totally wasted and there are endless fight scenes. Some of the stunts are repeated, but this is fine because they are great indeed! The final scene of the film is a bit much, but who cares. Probably Jackie Chan’s best film – his new ones suck so bad that it is probably a better idea to watch his old ones again and again.

fun fun radio

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004

Hey ho, another day. Yesterday was a day of meetings and general confusion. Ate lunch with 7 other people, had Niang Tofu, yummy. Today was more confusion, with a filtering and processing of ideas and thoughts. I may be getting better at this as my thoughts on the banking industry clarify somewhat. Now to get some mileage out of my performance. Tonight my boss suggested we all go out for drinks and he bought the editorial team drinks at the China Club on the 52nd floor of s local skyscraper, wow! Had Chingdao beer and chatted as we watched the sun set over the Strait of Malacca, feeling extra cool in our sunglasses. My female co-workers hate Leonardo DiCaprio, love Robert Redford and Robert Downey Jr., read Harry Potter. Funny, we had all seen Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, the Others, and the Usual Suspects, all of the films with the twist endings that you can’t really discuss if someone among you hasn’t seen the particular film… Got home at 8:50, Zen was asleep at 9:50. Oh well, there is always tomorrow…

This week

Monday, January 12th, 2004

Hey ho, another 5 days have gone by. I cannot remember what happened on all those great days – I had a piece I wrote torn up, I practiced a lot of guitar, I got started on new projects, I finished my first week at a new job, I signed a work contract, I went to an American Express lunch and hung out with other journalists. The GM of the Singapore Tatler and I had some chat time, and some great Italian food was consumed, washed down with some nice red wine. Saturday Naoko worked, so I stayed at home with Zen – we went cycling, shopping, I did some househole chores, we ate a crap lunch, went swimming twice, napped, and welcomed mama back from work. Today we tried to go to MacRitchie Reservoie, but when we got there it was raining so we went right back. I edited 100 pages of short stories today, at least I feel like I have done something. Last night a grasshopper jumped into our living room and watched TV with us. It was nearly 10 cm long! Zen learned how to say grasshopper in Japanese – “batta.” He seemed fascinated by it, saying “batta, batta, batta.” This morning it was still there so we took it to the window and let it fly away. Strange thing happened in the fish tank – one of the guppied died and the gold fish ate it!! Those 11 goldfish we bought for $1 are thriving!!! We are down to our last guppy – poor lonely guppy!!!

long meetings, wild goose chases

Wednesday, January 7th, 2004

Today, what a day. I planned to pick up my employment pass, but when I got there in the morning, I was informed that my medical report had not been signed by the doctor. Again this happens!! Crazy. I took a cab to the medical centre, got the signature. No apologies, of course not. Losers. Went back to the Ministry of Manpower and got my stuff, finally. I even managed to read 120 pages of my Eric McCormack book! How interesting. Cool story about a train enthusiast in there, will have to show that one to my boss. Got back to work and found out that they got the addresses wrong on Naoko and Zen’s, but maybe that doesn’t matter. Sigh… Worked for 30 minutes, then it was lunch time. Long lunch, came back and organized my stuff. The meeting that should have happened at 4:00 finally started at 6:00, normally quitting time! 7:45 I was pulling out of the office buying curry puffs for my lovely family…

Zen bath

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

Sunday – what a day. Off to the botanical garden in the morning for a roam around looking at the trees and the ponds and the palms. Had a coffee at the coffee spot we always rest at, that was nice. Off to Holland Village to buy lotion and visit Ailing, she is not at work yet so we go off to eat prata, yum. Nice people there. Hang out all afternoon, then go swimming from 4:30 to 6:00. Eat yummy Chinese carrot cake, which is neither Chinese nor carrot nor cake, but is good. Mum and Dad take Zen for a walk, and we all chill out in the evening listening to Nagisa Nite. Monday morning – we all get up, Mum and Dad are off to Malaysia today – so long. I walk Zen to school, then go in to work. I am re-re-reading Eric McCormack “Inspecting The Vaults,” great dread-filled stuff. Get there in time for the 8:30 meeting, find out it is held off until 9:00. Great. have a 90 minute good cheer new year staff general meeting with the boss, then another 90 minute meeting which is the regular Monday Morning news Meeting, then another 90 minute meeting with the boss to talk about new year’s initiatives, then off for a 2 hour meeting with someone whose company I am trying to do an interview on. She wants to chat with my boss so he comes over to where we are having lunch near the office and we chat and chat and chat. I have nothing for my article, which I finish up in the last 2 hours of the day. I had written most of it already anyway, just polish it up and away it goes – bye bye. Take the bus and train home and there I am with my sweties. Nice.

Funny things Zen says:

tchrap – crab
tchat – cat
eenyoo – eenoo (dog in Japanese)
monchee – monkey
mitchee – Mickey (Mouse)
sheepo – hippo

Mum is trying to get him to say “how are you” and “I luff you. Luff luff luff. Luff luff luff.” So now he says “howaryoo, iluvyoo.”

Here are some cool pics of Zen in the bath:

pool reflection

pool reflection

pool reflection

alligators in deep water

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

hey ho, another fun Saturday in Singapore. Went to the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Preserve this morning by taxi, left at 8:30 and hit the upper industrial park traffic at 9. Had a nice long walk around this great wetland preserve, chilling out near the water, seeing a giant water monitor lizard hanging out up a tree, then another swimming at the water’s edge, then up the aerie to hang out with local British expat bird watching couple. We helped them spot a golden sun bird – quite a rare find, for which they were very grateful! Zen fell asleep in the stroller, then we walked around the mangrove boardwalk where we saw mudskippers, spiders, and a pack of stray dogs (mum thought they were tapirs, or dingos). Hung out in the afternoon, played guitar, I minded Zen while Naoko slept and mum and dad relaxed and read. Went for a swim in the afternoon, then off to buy some beers by bike with Zen. Fun.

Here are some strange local signs:

watch for ghostly hands grasping at you from the deep water

an alligator will appear on this spot if you watch it long enough (optical illusion)


Saturday, January 3rd, 2004

Hey ho, another day. Here it is, Friday again. 2 more weeks and it will be Chinese New Year, a 4-day weekend! This morning was the first day working of the new year and it was OK. I got 500 words written in an article and talked to a bunch of people on the phone, went out to meet mum and dad and eat great Malay food in Tanjong Pagar, give them a tour, then show them along Telok Ayer Road in Chinatown and such. Nice stuff. Hung out with the people in the office, then snuck out at 4 so I could be at the bank at 5 to pick up my banker’s guarantee and such. Finally got that done and away. Near last stuffs to do, before…

Came home and had dinner. Played a lot of guitar tonight. Lots of dull, quiet time these days. Maybe this is good, maybe I should enjoy it more than I do. Playing guitar is always nice. I am perfecting more and more songs. Suzanne and Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye are almost perfected. Yay. Watched a bit of the Big Lebowski while mum and dad were out walking with Zen. I think that they definitely would not find the humor in that movie. Actually, most people wouldn’t…

Here’s some water pictures:

pool foursome

pool threesome

pool duo