Archive for December, 2004

Old year

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Happy New Year, everyone, thanks for following my blog in 2004. We had a pretty good year in many ways – I started a new career, and we are back on our feet in many ways. But, considering how the world situation looked this year, I still hope 2005 is better for all of us. And if not, there’s always 2006, 2007, 2008, and so on… God bless all of you. Peace Love.

time ball coming down...

Steve Austin. Man. Barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better. Stronger. Faster.

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Funness. Or not. Sunday Naoko and Zen went off to Japan. Zen had a late nap. so he was doing OK all evening. We went through our normal routines, then at 10:30 we got a cab to the airport. I went with them, but oma and opa said goodbye to them at the gate. In the cab we told Zen that papa would be staying in Singapore to go to work, and Zen and mama could take the airplane. He knows what airplanes are now, although he doesn’t like them (or talk about them) nearly as much as buses and trains (Zen’s mantra is definitely “bus and train, bus and train, bus and train…”). We got to othe airport, checked all of our stuff in, then went off to eat crappy noodle soup upstairs. It was 11:30 and Zen didn’t seem too tired. Zen was alreaddy saying to me “bye bye papa,” and waving. They went through customs and Zen waved at me and blew kisses. It was so much easier than it had been in the summer when he cried so much. I took a cab home, Naoko and Zen called me and Naoko said that Zen had not cried or anything. Sleep. Monday was a day off, I just hung out, did some napping, drank a beer in the afternoon, swept the floor, kept everything very clean, tidied a lot, did a lot of computer, maybe I read some stuff, blah blah blah. In the evening we three watched Master and Commander, a very good film by Peter Weir. Tuesday off to work. Hearing about tsunami casualties, but the extent of the destruction still hasn’t quite registered yet, and not much is known, although the damage has clearly all been done already. It is only later in the week that people will be dying of the diseases brought with the destruction. Iraq seems twice as far away as it used to, although you still read about near-daily explosions and how many people were killed by them. What lunacy. Tuesday was a so-so busy day at work. I left at 6 so that I could do some shopping for stuff for Evan’s birtthday, way off in March, because mum is going to mail things early so that she can get surface mail rates and save a couple bucks. Not a bad idea, I guess. I went off to the library at the Esplanade to borrow some DVDs, I got Alphaville, House of Wax, Forbidden Planet, and Love in the Afternoon. Absentmindedly left my library card there. Oops!!! Bought the new Leonard Cohen CD at HMV. Then… took the train to Somerset so I could look in HMV for the Louder Than Love album by Soundgarden (been jonesing to hear old Soundgarden recently, don’t know why). Of course they don’t have it, but never mind – I found it on the Internet (maybe). Then off to Ngee Ann City where I did more walking around, before I finally found what I wanted in three shops. Went to the bus stop at 9, waited for a long time on a stinky corner with dozens of people before my bus finally came. Great. Got home at 10, ate dinner until about 10:30, then watched Forbidden Planet. Near the end I realized that I’ve already seen it d’oh!! Wednesday I worked all day. People at work are acting a bit weedy this week, nobody wants to eat lunch with me, so I ate alone again. The boss has asked us to put up a resource webpage that charts the relief work that is going on for the tsunami victims, particularly what is being done by the banks. Lots of work. I sent out 90 emails, and did a bunch of other stuff to be on top of this. Hard. Left at 7, got home, ate dinner alone because mum and dad were at a concert, then time to watch movies. I saw House of Wax, a Vincent Price film from 1955, and on the other side of the DVD was the Mystery of the Wax Museum, a 1933 with Fay Wray (in a VERY small role) in it that was the “inspiratiotn” for House of Wax. In reality, House of Wax stole huge parts of it directly, particularly the opening and the finale. Cool. Thursday, more fun work on the tsunami project, and some other stuff of my own. Had a nice lunch with Dorai, my trusty editor. Thanks Dorai. Left around 6:45 after lots of business contacting Japanese banks, and off home. Watched Love in the Afternoon, a charming Audrey Hepburn film, with Mum and Dad. Yay. Friday, it’s New Year’s Eve tonight, worked from home, also went to the bank to take care of some errands. Busy, not busy, very rainy day today. Got wet coming home, actually.

CD review: Nirvana – With The Lights Out (box): Sure Nirvana was one of the most amazing, influential punk bands around, introducing us to the raw grunge sound, but also to a bunch of great songs that sound good punked out or acoustic – as sure a test as any. Nice. Cool, fun songs like the covers of Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin) and Here She Comes Now (the Velvet Underground, also covered by Galaxie 500), as well as the other well-known Leadbelly songs. OK. Good acoustic songs. Nice DVD that shows a young band having fun, with ex-members playing guitar or drums in it as well, and some goofing around by those nutty Nirvana guys. Good booklet with nice quotes, anecdotes, and studio information. Ineteresting essay by Thurston Moore. Great new songs, including “Opinion,” “Marigold,” and others. Only complaint is that some of the acoustic songs sound pretty similar to the Nirvana Unplugged versions anyway, so they didn’t really need to be here, nor do alternate mixes of Smells Like Teen Spirit, already one of this era’s most overplayed songs. Great acoustic versions of Rape Me and You Know Your Right.

CD Review – Leonard Cohen, “Dear Heather”: I was surprised to hear that Leonard Cohen has a new album out, especially considering that his “Ten New Songs” only came out two years ago. A return to prolific song-writing for this 75-year old icon? Sure, this one has many songs co-written with Sharon Robinson, who sings lead or backup, as does Adjani Thomas. Jazzy songs with heavy production ultimately satisfy, Leonard’s voice now full and swinging. “Go No More A-Roving” is a Lord Byron poem, set to Leonard’s tune, and dedicated to Irving Layton. Bitingly witty stuff like “the Letters,” spooky spoken stuff like “Dear Heather,” and a funky cover of “Tennessee Waltz.” I like this one much better than Ten New Songs.

DVD review – Master and Commander: an exciting film about naval life, made lovingly by Peter Weir to show many of the details that you’d expect in one of the 21 Patrick O’Brian books written about the characters that appear in the film. Lots of lovely boys, and cool scenes in the Galapagos Islands showing some of the fantastic wildlife that exists there, and the excitement of a naturalist’s first encounter with such wonders.

DVD review – Forbidden Planet: Strange space fantasy starring a very young Leslie Nielson and a cast of forgotten actors and actresses. Sure, it talks about the id and the ego, but it’s also a bit dull. Lots of time spent aping scientific processes with flashing lights and stuff like that, also long command deck scenes. The scene where the invisible monster is discovered were quite cool, actually, but no real tension is established.

DVD review – House of Wax: the 1955 Vincent Price nugget is cool, although it follows the typical Frankenstein story – good scientist driven mad by some injustice, becomes a gruesome murderer. Price starts off as a nice, somewhat lispy guy, then – the incident! Ends it as a chilling monster. Very cool effects throughout, some quite mind-numbing. Scary scenes of wax-figures melting, stalking sccenes, fight in burning apartment, eyeball falling out, shaky camerawork (on purpose?), the original Freddy Kruger, Cathy’s annoying laugh, a trenchhcoat mafie, “he hanged himself in an elevator shaft.” 3D whack-a-ball effect? “Was it murder or suicide? Only time will tell. Foul deeds will rise ,though all the world overwhelm them to men’s eyes.” Marie Antoinette. Knockwurst and “prozid.” hiding in plain sight. Midnight in the house of wax row of heads – Igor and Igor. In the wax workshp, mask breaks away – cool effects!!

DVD review – Mystery of the Wax Museum: a 1933 precursor to House Of Wax that came bundled into the House Of Wax DVD to show the “influences” of the later film, although they are more direct ripoff than inspiration – whole lines of dialogue are stolen, and scenes are staged identically. The main difference is that, 20 minutes into the movie, a totally different charactere is introduced, namely a sassy lady reporter of the sort that would have inspired Jennifer Jason Leigh’s sassy reporter in the Hudsucker Proxy. French sculptor, living Marie Antoinette sculpture, burned guillotine rope (nice effect). “What do you mean?” “You mean to say…?” Corny dialogue. “Keep a stiff upper lip, kid, you’ll be OK.” “He’s kind of dumb and worthless.” Less chase and action than House of Wax, but somehow the characters are better (excepting Price’s star performance). Disappeared judge. “I’m going to make you eat dirt, you soap bubble.” This film has a junkie, while House Of Wax makes him just an alcoholic. “Never saw a junkie hold out so long.” Row of heads, just like House of Wax. “You happy childrren” in 1933, these people will be near 90 years old today if they are still alive. Tipped mummy. Screamers.

DVD review – Love in the Afternoon: I told mom we should watch an Audrey Hepburn movie. She says “I don’t want to see it if it has terrorism, or crime, or violence.” No, mum, it’s an Audrey Hepburn movie, a charming romantic comedy directed by Billy Wilder with a fantastic, witty screenplay. Besides Audrey Hepburn and an aging, fun-loving, charming Gary Cooper, the film’s third character is Maurice Chevalier as a drily hilarious detective, and father to Audrey. “If I were an Indian prince, I would shower ou with diamonds. If I were a cobbler, I’d sole your shoes, but since I am only a detective, all I can offer you is a detailled dossier.” No scandal since 1821. “Tristan and Isolde.” “No Americans – just a Canadian.” Who are you anyway? Gypsy musicians clearly a pun on the perpetually absent soundtrack-orchestra. Audrey Hepburn is a bit childish and fey, but slinky and gorgeous as can be. No wonder I love her so. Great, sexy shots of her playing her instrument – there’s nothing like a woman playing a cello. Fantastic ending. Audrey’s sexy AND child-like at the same time, a bizarre combination but she somehow carries it. She was 28 when the film was made, Gary Cooper was 56. He made it 5 years afte High Noon, and 4 years before he died at age 60. This has taken a place on my top 102 films of all time.

The Zen report: Zen has just gone to Japan, and his Japanese will inevitably improve as he plays more and more with his 4 Japanese cousins, who all live very close by, and the local kids. He plays from morning until night and is having a ball. We got a bit of bad news – the swelling in his right testical is not water but part of his intesting slipping through, i.e. a hernia. He will go to a specialist on January 5th and will eventually get an operation, hopefully in Japan very soon after that. It may delay his return to Singapore, unfortunately. I hope he’ll be OK. Zen is still obsessed with buses and trains, and whenever I get on the phone all he says is “bus and train? you go bus and train? come by bus? 77 bus? Shinkansen?” etc. “Shinkansen” is the Japanese word for what we call “bullet train,” or TGV. He says a lot of new words and phrases now, like “five more minutes, OK?” He loves playing with play dough. He also likes Grover books, like “the Monster at the end of this b ook,” and the Thomas the Tank Engine VCD we got him for Christmas. Here are some recent pics of him playing with play dough with his oma.

play play dough

play play play dough

play play play play dough

play play play play play dough

Oma and Zen in candyland

an Asian tragedy

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Lands of the lost. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, the Maldives, and to a smaller extent Malaysia, Myanmar and Bangladesh. A terrible earthquake happened underwater in a shallow area off the coast of Aceh, a war-torn part of Sumatra island on Indonesia, which sent giant waves shooting outwards across a massive part of the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea. To understand what happened, check out this animation link. At work, my colleagues and I have been puting together a site to monitor relief efforts. A colleague of mine has even gone to Phuket to help. I only hope that many of those still in peril can still be saved by international relief efforts and donations.

Happy Christmas, everybody

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

Hey, another year, another Christmasfest. This year was fun, of course. Friday the 24th dawned, I took Zen off to school for his Christmas party, he was wearing his favorite Spiderman t-shirt, of course. Went off to work, got a few things done, dazzled my colleagues with my cool dressed-down look. Did a mock-Zoolander fashion show which was fun. Went off to meet Naoko at 1:20, then headed off to do a nice Japanese barbecue lunch with Naoko. The food was yummy. Then off on a quest for gifts. Naoko had already done some souvenir shoppint, so now we went to Plaza Singapura, but no keyboards there for us. Then off to Carrefour for some souvenirs for Japan. Then onto the crowded train to go to Orchard. Walked around Isetan, couldn’t find good Agnes B. stuff for Naoko, ditto for me, no not any Leonard Cohen CD at Borders, a big miss all around. Oh well, at least we had a nice lunch. Going into Borders, we saw this trashy chick wearing what looked like a bikini with a vertical strap up the tummy. Weird. Took the bus home, saw Zen, found out that he had cried when he got back home, but happily he had napped for at least an hour. Yay. Finished wrapping, had a lovely dinner, put the presents under the tree while mum took Zen for a walk, then waited for him to come home. He came back and of course he ran straight towards the tree, which was funny. We started opening presents one by one, usually one for Zen and one for one of us. Zen certainly got most of the loot, among them a bunch of books, a shirt, a colouring ball, a paint and stamp set, a Thomas the Tank Engine VCD (his favourite so far, along with the Grover “The Monster At The End Of This Book”), a mini Smart-car from Ralph and Nicole (thanks guys, for that, and all the books), and some other cool things. Since Christmas he has been asking me to read him a bunch of books and stuff. When we read the Grover book he was laughing his head off, and in between yelling out “I like bus and train.” He’s really been brainwashed by the bus and train conglomerates, hasn’t he? Mum and dad gave each other a bunch of shirts and stuff. Naoko and I didn’t have presents for each other, so the Nirvana box set that I gave Naoko became a de facto gift for both of us – I will probably spend more time processing it than she will. I got 100 bucks from mom and dad to go towards my new guitar, and some beer glasses – according to mum and dad, the beer will taste better if I drink it out of these glasses than out of regular glasses. I gave mum and dad a bunch of bank diaries and CDs that I had picked up on various junkets throughout the year, but then also a family movie DVD, a book on the plants of Singapore (they are always asking about the flora over here, and I never know) and then also a promise to take them out to dinner at the local Swiss restaurant, the one they always point out when we pass by on the bus. We opened a bottle of wine and drank that, then went to sleep. I stayed up later watching the DVD that came with the box set, reading through the booklet, and then later on playing guitar until 1:30 or so. So tired. Saturday we woke up, had breakfast, and enjoyed the morning. Lots of business, tidying, trying to do a webcam (yes, webcams, the business of the idle weekend days – will it happen or won’t it?) and then mom tried to get Zen to go with her to ride on the bus and train as was his great desire. He balked when he realized that it was just him and Oma going, and we couldn’t get him to feel good about it, which caused some haughtiness and distress, so we eventually gave up this plan and went swimming instead. Had our lunch and then Zen fell asleep for his nap, and Naoko and I started watching 24. Had 6 hours left to watch, and it was a bit difficult after the tense ending of hour 18 and the show had its ups and downs, but we got it finished – 2.2 hours while Zen napped, 1.2 hours while mum and dad took him for a walk in the evening, and then 2.2 hours later on when everybody had gone to sleep. Nice. Sunday we had pancakes for breakfast, went on the phone and computer and tried to do webcamming finally. What we did, because there is an Apple involved, is we used Skype for audio, and Yahoo Messenger for video. Very nice seeing Lauren and Evan, as well as Ralph and Nicole and Brenda (hi guys). I split at 10:30 and took Zen on the bus and train. This time we went north a bit on the train line to Choa Chu Kang, where they have an LRT (light rapid transit) line, which is basically a P-shaped (or is it b-shaped, or d-shaped?) line that services the massive in land apartment blocks. The buggy is driverless and more like a bus that goes along an electrified track, suspended above the ground. The route took 30 minutes, and Zen got to sit up front the whole time looking out the huge window. One ingenious thing about these buggies – the doors are huge, so it is very easy for people to get in and out. I guess somebody figured out that one of the reasons the MRT trains suck is that the doors are too narrow, and people tend to mindlessly smash into each other as they get on and off the trains. Got home, saw webcam, had lunch, watched Thomas the Tank Engine, went for a swim, and at 4:30 I read Slinky Malinky and Grover to Zen and he fell asleep. Naoko too. Now I’m doing some writing and stuff. Hard to believe that Naoko and Zen will be gone on their way to Japan in just about 6 hours or so. I don’t get to see them for over two weeks, boo hoo…

Christmas photos

Merry Christmas

this stuff

been a long time, been a long time, been a longlonelylonelylonelylonelylonely time…

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

been a long time, been a long time, been a longlonelylonelylonelylonelylonely time…

I haven’t posted anything for a while…

How can I remember back and catch up on all that has happened in this two weeks, when I was so very busy with writing a 10-page report for work, coming back at 10:00 PM some nights, and at 1:00 AM others. Cool parties, and nice lunches with friends and bankers, free drinks, free burgers, disco music, and goodie bags at the end of the soiree. Let’s see if I can remember any of it.

A few things I can remember. I went to a DBS party down at the Singapore River where I finally met the CEO of the bank. How cool that the bank’s most important guy actually attended a party for lowly media types. Chatted with him a bit about JP Morgan, CAO, and other fun things like drums. The pub/restaurant, called Bacchus, is really nice, with a Spanish band of some sort playing, and a nice patio upstairs. Stayed too late. Also there was a Citibank party at Ink. Not so interesting, although I did get a chance to meet a few very nice Citibankers.

On the weekend we finally went to the Night Safari. Took a cab there and it was good. Zen met Santa, a short Singaporean Santa and two dark-skinned elves. From now on, Santa will probably remain in his mind someone who he saw at the safari. Mum is also telling him over and over that Santa arrives in Singapore by taxi, I don’t know what the point of that is, actually… Walked the circuit and saw the otters, the bats and flying squirrels, rhinos up close, and all sorts of other good stuff. Funnily enough, mum thought that the flying squirrels “flew” by spinning their tails, when in reality they glide along on flaps of sking that stretches from their wrists to their ankles. Saw also cool baribusa (pig deer), and hair boars. The lone tarsier couldn’t be spotted, and the tapir and capybara and elephants were on the motorized train route, which we didn’t take. Oh well, at least we saw the stunning giraffes lounging on their mock veldt. Finished the course near 10, were so tired, we couldn’t even catch the animal show. Oh well – next time we come, we will take the train and catch the show and won’t bother to walk around. Still, walking had its benefits – we had a MUCH better view of the rhinos than the train people. Suckers!!

Book Review – Running With Scissors: Some gay guy who wrote a book that people would want to compare with David Sedaris, even though it is barely a fraction as well-written. Starts off well, as the witty memoir of an eccentric kid who is adopted by a wacky hippy doctor, discovers his sexuality, disappears from the system (i.e. leaves school) and survives a kooky laissey faire lifestyle. Sure, it’s supposed to be wry and funny, but is it? No way, man. Not recommended.

DVD Review – 24 (Season 3): The 24 seasons are all good and bad at the same time, and consistently so for the same reasons. I mean, that when you are watching it episode-by-episode, you think “man, this is INTENSE!!”, but when you get to the end and think back about what happened, you really see all of the red herrings and manipulation that the scriptwriters throw in. Sure, I guess that’s the way life is, but when you think about all of the useless subplots, you begin to wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if 24 wasn’t done in real time so that you could just cut to the chase. In the third season, there are good new characters, bad new characters, and thankfully Kimberly isn’t once again the object of a manhunt. She also doesn’t make as many bone-headed decisions and comes off as pretty sympathetic overall. About 3 or 4 things are colossally unbelievable, i.e. Tony Almeda’s decisions late in the series and the scene with the F-18s, but what the hell, it’s all about grouund-breaking TV really. Unfortunately, the first half isn’t all that great, but what it builds up is ultimately satisfying for tension. The fun of it is, I guess, thinking how many characters you meet throughout the show – bad guys, minor characters – will eventually just be killed off. One grisly execution really shook me up, yoiks!!! Unfortunately, they are running out of ideas, and two of th bad guys were disposed of in the exact same way. See guys, crime doesn’t pay. The President David Palmer scenes were terrible – he didn’t really need to be in this series at all. none of the questions of the first series were addressed, i.e. who were those guys behind the whole thing anyway? Something to tie it all togetherin a fourth or fifth series perhaps? Kate Warner, one of the best characters of the second series, appeared in a single scene at the beginning and was never heard from again – pity.


Sunday, December 19th, 2004

This was a tough week. Despite all of the business and pressure, it started off with some bad news from a friend in Japan. I had taken some time on Sunday to go through a long list of old friendsw and acquaintances in Japan that I hadn’t heard from in a while, some for over a year and a half. I also wrote to my old co-worker Bob, who I had last heard from in May of this year. On Monday I got an email from another co-worker who told me that in September, Bob had died in September of liver cancer, going quickly and quietly. I was shocked – I don’t know how to take news like that. Bob was a bit older than me, had a lovely wife, and his daughter was almost the same age as Zen. It made me incredibly sad to think about him, especially since his daughter was so young. Bob and I worked together in a junior high school in the outskirts of Osaka. He was kind of a head teacher and I was more of a part time teacher. We talked about a lot of things – besides the ups and downs of teaching in that particular school (and for him it seemed like more downs than ups), we talked a lot about film, current events, and a common love of the songs of Jonathan Richman. Bob had a hard time at the school – I think he possibly took his job as head teacher there a bit too seriously, or he took a dislike to the bureaucracy of Japanese private schools… But basically it’s a pity that he spent the last years of his life in an environment that he was unhappy witht. It seems to have turned an easy-going guy with a sophisticated, if somewhat dry sense of humour, into a nervous person who could even be a bit sinister. I kept my perspective, though, and ultimately I think that Bob and I became pretty close. Somehow, I sensed that he had some respect for me, particularly the types of creative projects that I was involved in. On my side, I really admired his dedication to his students, even if his efforts were treated with disdain by some of the “lost causes,” i.e. people who actively tried to unlearn what we were trying to pass on to them. I also learned a lot about video editing from him after he showed me a bit of a family video that he had lovingly edited and added soundtrack to. I’ll never forget the day my Head Cheese 2, a zine I had put together over a few months last year, finally came out. He looked carefully at the cover and bust a gut laughing about the surreal situation it described. He even photocopied it and laminated it, thinking perhaps to hang it somewhere. I’d like to think that he did keep it in a nice place somewhere after he left the school in March of this year to try his hand at his own business – a private language school for local students, of course. With his dedication and reputation among the local kids and their parents, I had no doubt that it would pay off, especially with the kind of hard work I knew he could put in. The few times he wrote me after that, I could sense his joy at having put a difficult part of his life behind him and striking out with something new. I wonder if, somehow, I helped to nudge him on his way there. My situation in Japan had been a bit different from his – I was always a freelance teacher, starting off in the school with just a few hours and building up to near-full time, but without the time commitment to all the senseless meetings that the full timers were expected to have. When I left, I turned one of my high-paying private classes over to him, and he seemed very grateful that I had thought of him for it. Before we left Japan, I had a barbecue in Nishinomiya and Bob and his family came by, so it was a nice chance to meet his wife and daughter who I had heard a lot about already. I also brought him out to see a Half Japanese concert at Bears in Osaka, something I’m positive he enjoyed immensely, considering it was the sort of thing that he had really never done in Japan. It was also clearly quite an outlet for him, for all of us, to hear good, loud music and have a lot of fun. When I was already in Singapore, Bob sent me along a few videos – Office Space, and a Barney tape for Zen. I really appreciated that he cared enough to think of me even after I had moved away. I sometimes wonder how many more times I would have seen Bob if he’d not gotten ill – I don’t seem to get to Japan much these days, and when I am there it’s not for long enough to afford trips to the outskirts of Osaka. I will try to find out how his wife and daughter are coping. What makes me saddest of all thinking about Bob is how he won’t get to see his daughter grow up. I know he loved his family more than anything, and to think of such a young kid losing her father is almost unbearable. Rest in peace, dear Bob, you deserved much better.

Memory test

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

Hey y’all,

Why not try this cool test – try to name any one (or more) title of these songs with “memory” lyrics. Prize is… a toaster.

I forgot to remember to forget you…

’cause I can’t forget
And I can’t forget
But I don’t remember what

Bless my soul what is wrong with me
I forgot to forget to remember…

Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
I don’t remember.

World famous in Singapore (since 2003)

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

Hey, another Monday. Got to work early and did our meeting, a good one, got it done early and was very productive. Got to work on a million other things, and by 8 PM I had had a few meeteings, written an article, scoped out some interviews, and had a nice lunch. Got home and ate scrumptious fried dumplings – yummy!!! Played some guitar, Naoko put Zen to bed, and then we watched the rest of Bowling For Columbine, starting at the phony middle part where he makes it look like Canadians never lock their doors. Nice interview with Charlton Heston, by the way. I wonder how he ever agreed to that interview!

Hey, guess which family is already famous in Singapore! Check out this link, and this link too.

Some pictures

Sunday, December 12th, 2004

A nice series of pictures…












Today’s blog

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

Again many days have passed since I have written. What a week it has been. I did a bunch of phone interviews, I wrote a ton of emails, I put out an e-newsletter and also wrote an article on Japan. Cool. Scrambled for CEO interviews for the boss and had a bunch of meetings. Monday I don’t remember what I did. Tuesday I don’t really remember what I did. Wednesday I don’t really remember what I did. Oh yeah – I went off to the Asian Civilizations Museum to take part in an event for team captains of the JP Morgan Chase corporate challenge, where changes in procedure were explained. Drinks, then a presentation, then canapes and more drinks. Met an acquaintance there, and an ex-co-worker, the team captain of the embassy team, as well as the team captain of last year’s winning Gurkha team (who went to New York to run in the final international challenge), as well as the JP Morgan Chase COO for the region, nice guys all of them. Thursday I worked until late, and then watched 24 with Naoko. Friday I sent out emails and wrote and researched and transcribed interviews. Rushed out for lunch with a friend from Citi at 12:30, that was nice. They served wacky “fusion” food, and in the end they brought us some of the kooky “Frosty the Snowman” mugs that our apple mint drinks had been served in. Nice. I went off to the DVD library and picked up “Bowling For Columbine,” Buster Keaton’s “The General,” and a Three Stooges compilation. Back to the office, found out that we can get a CEO interview for the following week. What great response – just 24 hours after I made the inquiry and I get a response. How’s that for service! Worked until 8:45, when I left there were stilll about 10 people in the office. Wow, year-end madness. Surely the last 2 weeks of the year will be quiiiiiiet. Watched two episodes of 24, then went to sleep – exhausted. Today is Saturday and mum and dad took Zen off to ride on the train and bus off to the airport. He came back all energized and finally fell asleep at 4. We’re getting ready to go out for some shopping and then dinner, which should be fun. Hope Zen will be all right, but mum and dad are keen to babysit him for us. Should be fun – they can go on walks! We left at 6 and took the bus downtown. Went to Kinokuniya to pick up a bunch of books, then off to a toy store to pick up some cool toys, mostly all for Christmas. Went off to Isetan to pick up some sake to give our hosts as a gift, which was nice, then off to their place. It was just the 4 of us, Joel and Lillian and Naoko and me, we listened to music, chatted, ate, drank champagne and wine, very nice, for a few hours. Joel, I found out, is an avid stamp collector and AC/DC fan, so we looked at stamps for a while and listened to old AC/DC, which was very cool, also saw a bit of the Let There Be Rock live movie, very cool. Also admired two of their three cats, very nice cats indeed. Left at 1:30, walked around Tanglin Road a bit and saw a bit of Singapore’s famous night life. Interesting. Got home at 2:00, after a very quick cab ride, and slept. I had a strange dream last night that I was watching Episode 3 and it was super crappy. Nothing was happening, and they were nowhere near closing the gap on the beginning of Episode 4. I was, in my dream, speculating that an Episode 3.5 would be needed to do so. I wonder if this can be considered a sneak peek?

DVD Review – Chungking Jungle: Once considered a good movie, now in retrospect I feel it’s a bit immature when you compare it to The Mood For Love, a masterpiece of sorts. Kaneshiro Takeshi sure looks young, and Faye Wong is a bit too quirky for my liking – a bit of a weirdo, really. And “California Dreaming” has become even more overplayed, although it is fundamentally a great song. Bizarre slo-mo/fast-motion scenes – the actors probably had to move at an incredibly slow pace to make it look like that. So far, Wong Kar-Wai has written about three cops – Kaneshiro Takeshi, Tony Leung, and Andy Lau – who were rejected by their lovers. A trend?

DVD Review – Zatoichi: saw it again with Naoko, very nice. Flashback/dancing, many characters in main story make it VERY different from Katsushin’s original Zatoichi series from the ’60s to ’80s. Creepy bad guys, sword practice comedy is great. Scarecrows appear prominently – like corpses? Point out smells. This Zatoichi acts less sinister than the original. Sword fight on beach at night. Reguiling, weird minimalist music, tap dance in geta, mighty morphin’ dancers. Great film.

DVD Review – Matrix: Cypher = Mre. Reagan. “I wanna be someone important – like an actor.” “I know what you’re thinking. Because I’m thinking the same thing.” “The Matrix cannot tell you who you are.” “But an oracle can?” “That’s different.” “Not too bright though.” “How can he be the One if he’s dead?” Great lines. Still the best of the three by far. The following two films combined didn’t have the dialogue or the ideas that the first one had.

DVD review – Matrix Reloaded: Not as good as the first, but I would say that the fight scenes are almost as good – the million Smiths, the highway chase, the fight in the Merovingian’s lair, all good. Unfortunately, no trademark special effects launched in this one, like the bullet time thingy, but still good. The scenes in Zion show that the series has taken a wrong turn, although the techno dance thing was fairly well done. I liked the Architect – interesting twist.

Book review – No Money, No Honey: A book describing the sex industry in Singapore. A bit tame, and kind of describes the kind of things you would expect in most large cities in this part of the world. Doesn’t get too racy, and tries to show the fair attitude of the government in these matters, and illustrate that hookers here are probably better off than those in other parts of the world. Oh well. Most interesting are the case studies of some of the working girls and all of their various situations and future prospects.

Book review – Destination Singapore: A spy novel about a scumbag half-Chinese spy working for the Japanese in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and ultimately Singapore. Pretty OK book, brief, unfortunately the protagonist is completely unsympathetic, so when he finally comes to a bad end, just after you’ve finally started to feel a biit sorry for him, you kind of end up feeling somewhat mixed emotions. Oh well.

In the walkman: AOA, YBO, the Fall, Suicide, Pachinko, Dirtbombs, the Screws, Basehead, Sixer, Flaming Lips, the Hive.

Dad is smiling and laughing