Archive for May, 2005

weeks and weeks and weeks…

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Hey, another long time with no blogs. Maybe it was because I was too busy, maybe I was too lazy, maybe I was too frustrated trying to get my microphone to work on the computer. No, it was probably laziness. The week previous I was very busy with work, last week too. What happened… The weekend of May 21, 22 was a long weekend, which was nice! But what did we do? I think… we went to Pasir Ris on Saturday the 21, Zen and I walked around and had a nice time. What happened after that was… I went back, Zen slept, I did some computer stuff. Forgot. Uhhh… We watched a movie, what was it… “Closer,” we saw that, and also one other. Maybe I’ll remember later. Sunday we hung out, went swimming, stuff like that. Sunday evening, and most of Monday I worked. Recently strange things have been happening – one day I’ll have 3 tasks, then I find out that I’ve been taken off one task, I’m down to 2, then I get to more and I’m up to four. Weird! Monday I got a call to go in to the TV station to do an interview. Oooh! So although it was a holiday, and I was already working on a bunch of stuff anyway, I added it to my list and I worked harder. Ouch! Oh yeah, the movie we saw is “the Aviator.” Not a bad flick. I guess there’s really no getting around it – Dicaprio really is a fantastic actor. Monday Tuesday Wednesday I forgot what I did specifically, I guess I tried to work on enewsletters and articles and conducted interviews. Hrmmm… Wednesday I stayed until 8, went home, ate, packed, put Zen to sleep. Zen is very sweet – he always wants me to give him a shower and read him to sleep if I am there, he doesn’t want Naoko to do this at all. He went to sleep so quickly, then I got a cab and went to the airport. Bought some mascara for Naoko in duty free, then onto the flight. Hung out with Charmaine a bit, saw ED on the flight, barely slept, got to Beijing and got a cab with a freaky guy whose meter was broken, then on off to check in to the hotel, hang out, eat breakfast at Starbucks, to the hotel room to sleep a bit, then off around the corner to eat a cheap lunch in a dank room on a sunny street with some indifferent Beijingers as I sucked on a Yanjing beer, then back to the hotel to see about some interviews or something. Nothing to do, Benny checked in to the room, we chatted, then I napped for a bit, then off to the exhibition space to hang out and meet people and do interviews and chat and help out with things, then much later we went off to eat a nice dinner of spicy fish in red hot chili pepper soup. Mmm… yummy. Nice place, but terribly stinky bathroom! Went back, did more work, then back home to sleep. Benny and I passed by a nice bunch of guys who were selling goat kebabs in the parking lot, so we had a few there. The goat was practically raw, but it sure was yummy barbecued on a kebab like that. Slept 5 hours, then off to the conference site to meet everyone else and get started. Nice, people came in, we got started on our great days, then off to the seminars, I’m helping out, looking for people to do spot interviews with, the day passed in a blur like that. Nice coffee break, my breakfast after that, then lunch, then more seminars, then a nice coffee break again, cool people, very cool retail banking heads, awesome proud happy friendly lovely individuals. Went for a beer and an interview with a banker from Taiwan, then upstairs and who do I see but another Taiwanese banker, so I do an interview with him too. Both of them great guys, obviously rivals, yet hanging out with each other both being Taiwanese guys in China. Very cool. Some people are getting changed into tuxedos, and there we are going in to the awards presentation. The service is OK, but the food is not so great. Met a lot of nice people, ate dinner with Charmaine and some people from an IT company, and a few reporters, and also some cool people from Taiwan and China. The night went on and on, lots of exciting awards to present, then the night ended and dessert hadn’t arrived yet, I was wisked away to a disco party. Lame music until midnight, then an explosion of techno sound. Not bad at all. First two work colleagues showed up, then four more, it was a lot of fun. But somehow the colleagues disappeared, then it was me alone with the bankers. Wow. Got home at 4, slept, up again at 8 for breakfast, then off to an exhibit, then back to the hotel room to pack. Lunch with the boss and the staff and time to hang out and do a post-mortem on the event to discuss it. Then off shopping with the girls and some good laughs. Got the the shopping place at 5, split up until 7. I bought a pearl necklace for Naoko, a scarf for her, a Spiderman watch for Zen, some Spiderman pajamas for him too, then some ties for me, pens for the people at work, and who knows what all else. Cool, fun. Jumped into a cab, went past Tiananmen to Hohai where we bought DVDs from mendicants, saw a strange tatooed ojisan make a fuss in the square, went for $10 beers (a bit pricy for China) and then in a cab to go off to the airport. Flew all night, got to Singapore on Sunday and took the cab home. Got there at 6:15, slept, Zen woke me up at 7:15 with a sweet “papa?” Heavenly. But too tired to enjoy it, went back to sleep and got up at 10. Hung out, did some work, watched movies, mostly brain-dead. Zen slept, I went cycling with him, then off on back, ate dinner, hung out, slept at 11:30 or so. Monday I was really tired, took the taxi to work, although it was late and I got there tardy, worked hard all morning, met the new writer who looks quite a lot like Ralph (?!?) and wrote an article, did an interview for the following following issue, so it is nice to be thinking that I am getting advance work done. Cool. Went home at 8, got to Clementi, saw that I had just missed a bus, so I jumped in a cab. Seems like the bus was just as fast as the cab!! Wow, I guess when the taxi takes a different route from the bus, and the bus gets the green lights and doesn’t have to stop to drop people off, it may happen. Hung out at night, wrote blog, yup.

DVD review – the Aviator: nice Martin Scorsese film about Howard Hughes, brought back all those memories of all those James Elroy books, weird guy, sort of like Tucker: A Man And His Dream, but a little stranger. The plane crashes were so scary!

DVD review – Closer: a stage adapation that is just like a stage adaption. Nathalie Portman’s acting is terrible… just when you want her to be good! Lots of stagey scenes, leaden lines, split second changes of heart, dumb ironies, and a funny-looking Julia Roberts. Check out the closing credits – only six actors in the whole film, and two of them are barely in the film at all.

Zen loves Spiderman just as much as he loves reading!


Green Eggs and Zen

Sushi Boy and Kimchi Girl

Amazing Sunday

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Another nice Sunday – started the day off right by sleeping late! In a rare move, Zen came to our bed at 7:00… then proceded to sleep and sleep until 8:30! Normally he never sleeps past 7. Nice. I went off with him to a garage sale at 9, bought a standing fan (for the guests, when they come) so that we all have one. Ate breakfast, then went off to Bugis. Got there at 11:45 or so, went to OG to buy shoes for me, swimming trunks for me, and to hang out among the toys and to see what’s up with new Star Wars merchandising. OK. Went to Sim Lim Square, got new headphones and a $200 VCR (6 heads, other bells and whistles), and a Karaoke kids songs, Vivaldi, and more Superman animated stuff. Cool. Then tried to get to the Russian restaurant for lunch, but Zen was distracted by these funky cool jeeps and motorbikes for kids to ride (very slowly). Some pics of Zen on them below. Just ten minutes of fun, but then fifteen minutes of crying and pouting when we parted for the day. Bummer. Walked to the Russian restaurant on Arab Street, chilled out and ate borscht, cabbage salad, beef stroganoff, pancakes, and nice beef dumplings. Yummy. And drank kvas, another first for me. Lots of unusual tastes, and apparently the only Russiana restaurant in Singapore. Got in the cab, drove home, Zen fell asleep in the cab. I bought some beer, spent some time drinking beer and installing the VCR. Cool – got it working mostly, but can’t figure out how to record off of TV. Went for a swim, saw Sean and Mihoko and Kai and Hana, they invited us over for dinner, so we shared food and hung out and drank – beer, vodka tonics, long island ice tea, wine. Nice. The kids had so much fun playing, lots of good conversation, Zen rolled the stroller up and down the apartment at least 100 times, we listened to Fleetwood Mac as well as old J-pop songs, that was fun. Got back very late, Zen got his shower, and was sleeping by 11:15. Yoiks!!

Zen is starting to get used to real horsespower!!

bike 1

Bike 2

Bike 3

In the Walkman

Saturday, May 14th, 2005

Hey, I realized that I’d discontinued the “In the Walman” feature, and the “funny lyrics” feature. How silly of me!!

In The Walkman: 10,000 Maniacs, the 5 6 7 8s, April March, Barclay James Harvwest, Blondie, Blue Oyster Cult, Bob Marley, Bright Eyes, Carol King, the Chieftains, the Cult, the Cure, Damageplan, David Wilcox, Dio, Disturbed, Doobie Brothers, Down, Elliot Smith, Dr. Demento, Faith No More, Faster Pussycat, Fleetwood Mac, Franz Ferdinand, Freddy Blassie, Freddy Quinn, Frente!, Genesis, Gram Parsons, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Heino, Iron Maiden, Jandek, Jesus and Mary Chain, Jimmy Cliff, Kevin Coyne, Kirsty McColl, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, Linton Kwesi Jonson, Love and Rockets, Low, the Magnetic Fields, Marilyn Manson, Maruice Chevalier, Mazzy Star, Metallica, Ministry, Momus, Moody Blues, Nancy Sinatra, Nazaretth, Neil Diamond, New Order, Nick Cave, Nine Inch Nails with David Bowie, Nouvelle Vague, Nomeansno, Outkast, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Paul Hardcastle, Paul McCartney and Wings, Payolas, Pee Wee Hunt, Peter Tosh, the Pogues, Pop Will Eat Itself, Primus, Ramones, Richard Ashcroft, Ray Stevens, Samhain, Schoolhouse Rock, Sinead O’Connor, Soundgarden, Stabbing Westward, Stevie Nicks, the Straonglers, Supertramp, Teenage Head, Temple of the Dog, They Might Be Giants, Thomas Dolby, Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers), Tommy Hunter, Tones on Tail, Tool, Ultravox, the Unicorns, Unsane, the Ventures, Weird Al, Wolfman Jack, Zamfir.

I’m My Own Grandpa

Now many, many years ago, when I was twenty-three,
I was married to a widow who was pretty as could be.
This widow had a grown-up daughter who had hair of red.
My father fell in love with her, and soon they, too, were wed.

This made my dad my son-in-law and changed my very life,
My daughter was my mother, cause she was my father’s wife.
To complicate the matter, even though it brought me joy,
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy.

My little baby then became a brother-in-law to Dad,
And so became my uncle, though it made me very sad.
For if he was my uncle, then that also made him brother
Of the widow’s grown-up daughter, who, of course, was my stepmother.

Father’s wife then had a son who kept him on the run,
And he became my grandchild, for he was my daughter’s son.
My wife is now my mother’s mother, and it makes me blue,
Because, although she is my wife, she’s my grandmother, too.

Now if my wife is my grandmother, then I’m her grandchild,
And everytime I think of it, it nearly drives me wild,
For now I have become the strangest case you ever saw
As husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa!

I’m my own grandpa.
I’m my own grandpa.
It sounds funny, I know, but it really is so,
Oh, I’m my own grandpa.

Five days, but it feels like ten

Saturday, May 14th, 2005

Hey, another time I wrote a bunch of stuff, but it got erased. Funny week this week – I came home late every night. Monday, Thursday, Friday because of work, Tuesday, Wednesday for other stuff. Tuesday was fun – met a financial industry guy for lunch near the Merlion, Italian, talked about banks for 10 minutes and about Star Wars and films for the rest of the meal. In the evening I went to the China Club at the invite of a bank and something similar happened. What is it about bankers and film geekdom? Oh well. The China Club was nice, on the 52nd floor of one of the biggest nearby buildings to work, lots of fancy Chinese decorations, great interior design, cool vibes, OK music, minstels and caricaturists, and there was me, one of only a few media, mingling with lots of local bankers and financial industry types. Cool. Got home fairly late, and off to work soon again the next day. Wednesday was nice too because Elena invited us to her film class’ screening event – which was nice, because Naoko and I appear briefly in the film, and I contributed music for thte score. Yay. All of the films were good, and even two of them were quite remarkable in some ways. It’s amazing what you can do with short film that you just CAN’T with a feature film. Maybe Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were luckier than the rest of us to live in an era when short films could still be profitable. After the screening, we discovered that that part of town really is quite hopping in the evenings. Yay, fun. Thursday, Friday – bah, what do I have to say but I worked late, came home after Naoko and Zen were asleep, and then went off to work again the next day. Friday was quite insane, but at least I can feel good that I got A LOT of work done. I’m glad it’s Saturday now and I can chill out, do a few things that I want to do, and have a nice time before the madness begins again. At least things are coming to a close somehow, now.

Zen making goliath sounds!!

Zen at the keyboard

The world’s youngest hero: Mask Zen!!

mask Zen

Mask Zen 2

Mask Zen 3

family pictures

family pics 1

family pics 2

family pics 3

sleepy… mixer…

Sunday, May 8th, 2005

Hey, another busy week. What have I been up do. I forgot what we did last weekend, but it was a long weekend, so Monday was a holiday. Tuesday was so-so, Wednesday I met a senior banker at a press briefing – oh joy, he remembered me from our last meeting in November. Since then we’ve been exchanging occasional emails about music – seems he’s a Leonard Cohen fan as well! Cool. Went to Harry’s on the riverfront for a burger with my colleague, then back to the office for some work. Stayed late to get work done. Thursday Yuping flew in at lunchtime, so I split work at 6 in order to get back for a nice family dinner and greeting. Yuping brought gin, so we mixed gin and tonics, yay! Hung out, stayed up until 12 showing her family DVDs, then to sleep. Friday was pretty busy, tried to get a lot of work done, arranged interviews, did two interviews, other work, then went home at 7:30. What did we do after? Ummm… hung out, drank gin and tonic, watched TV. Saturday we woke up, ate, went off to Sentosa with Yuping and Zen while Naoko went to work. Took the taxi, which was good. Got there, took a bus to the south beach, wandered around, discovered “continental Asia’s southernmost point” on an island just off of Sentose. Now you may wonder by what spurious logic an island off an island off an island off of continental Asia can be considered a part of continental Asia, the logic goes that as all are attached by bridges, it can be considered Asia’s southernmost point. Of course, putting it in “inverted commas” makes it a safer statement. Wandered along the beach. Zen didn’t want to walk in the sand, scared of getting his feet dirty, of just finds it plain uncomfortable. Oh well. Went to 7-11 for beer and ice cream. Pushed the stroller up hill to the Merlion, but there is so much reconstruction there. Drag. Oh well. My shirt was sopping wet with sweat. Bummer. Went to the insect and butterfly park, which is a pretty funky place, and they had a deal for entry plus a pizza for $15, so in we went. Saw lots of butterflies, on pins and in the “flesh,” star tortoises, a soft-shell tortoise, and some jungle chickens. Fun. The pizza was OK, but Zen cried and accused us of burning his tongue with pepperoni. Boy, was he pissed off!! Zen and I took the cable car to the other side, grabbed a cab, Yuping stayed to wander around some more. Zen was sleeping within a few minutes, I enjoyed the quiet of the afternoon in the apartment, nice. Read, slept, played computer. Naoko and Yuping came back, we went for Kampong Chicken at the Five Stars restaurant near Beauty World, which was nice. Wandered around Beauty World a bit too, bought Zen a flutter board, went back for more gin and tonics, watched videos, hung out. I finished mixing my Sabbath Bloody Sabbath karaoke song, and am going to burn a CD for Yuping.

Spiderman swimmer

Zen loves his Spiderman and his new swimsuit.

Sentosa 1

At “continental Asia’s southernmost point”

pain lover love durians

Durian, durian, how I love thee

durian 2

Hey, what’s that terrible smell? Oh no, look what we accidentally sat on!!

I love papaya

Momotaro was born from a peach, Papayataro was born from a… papaya!

one week

Monday, May 2nd, 2005

Wow, another week. We had five days of work and three days of weekend. Last week was interesting – I wrote three articles, and this is after spending many weeks of barely writing anything. Felt great! Called bankers, talked to them, got the blood flowing, great great great. Didn’t work late, got home, yay. Didn’t watch any movies, stayed up late two nights figuring out how Singapore wants its taxes filed online. I got it done on the second-to-last day. As it turns out, taxes can be filed in about five minutes if you have everything at hand. Ours only required filling in a few lines on the form, wow, easy. All that worrying for nothing. Also got a local credit card, finally ,which was nice – time for some online shopping. No big surprises last week, no excitement, and little stress, although the barometer picked up a bit end-of-week when we spent lots of time in meetings – probably 8 hours worth of discussion Thursday and Friday alone, groannnn… But I wrote a funny satire piece about the whole experience, heh heh, so that’s OK. Wednesday was fairly special, because after a lot of rushing around at work, and people asking me to help them out on last-minute things, I went off with three colleagues to run the 5.2 kilometer JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge run, which was fun… although a bit too short to be much of a “challenge.” Got there late because some colleagues waited until the last minute to get ready, then there were thousands and thousands of people running. 9,930, it turned out, actually, and we started from the back of that and worked our way past three or four thousand of the slower runners. Ugh… But it was nice to get out and run run run. I stuck with one of my colleagues, and chatted with him a lot as we made fun of other people’s t-shirts – “Get a new perspective” written across the bottom part of a t-shirt (I’d yell out “nice perspective, lady”), or “I’m moving at maximum velocity” on a guy who was already WALKING! Good fun, if a bit too crowded. Follow the link to learn more. Saturday was a day off, but I looked after Zen. We got our security passes for Signature Park (tick that one off of the list of annoying tasks to handle), and went to hang out with Sean and Mihoko. Borrowed a bunch of cool movies from them – Sin City, The Motorcycle Diaries, Finding Nemo, the Wallace and Gromit collection, Closer, and Deep Water. Cool – went for a long swim with all the kids, Tony and Barbara and Mali and Aysia were at the pool too, then Mihoko came along with rice balls for lunch, yummy. Took Zen off to sleep, and started to watch Sin City. Woke Zen up at 5:30, then took him off to Holland Village to meet up with Naoko. Zen has recently been pooing his pants a lot, and today was no different – he did it once at poolside, and once in Holland Village. But I think we got this thing licked now – the last few mornings he’s been going off on his own to do poos, and we gave him big praise and he’s so proud of himselff. “Papa and Mama and Oma and Opa and Uncle Ralph and Auntie Nicole and Baby Lauren and Baby Even are so happy (that I pooed in the toilet and not on the floor).” It was strange that he would be fully toilet trained, then suffer a setback, but apparently this happens with some kids. Ate some fajitas in a little Mexican place, then crossed the street to drink beers and eat French fries at Wala Wala. Nice. Went back at 8, got Zen to sleep early (9:30 or so), and Naoko was sleeping by that time too. I stayed up late watching the rest of Sin City, Wallace and Gromit “the Wrong Trousers,” and playing guitar. Nice. Sunday we hung out all morning cleaning the place top to bottom. Had an accident as Zen pulled out a drawer, and the thing came free and smashed his big toe on his left foot! OUCH!!! Then off and away after lunch to IMM by taxi where I looked for swimming gear for Zen and I, skateboard shoes (they stock them, but are always sold out in my size!!!!!!), but really I just ended up playing with Zen while Naoko went off to Daiso, the $2 shop. Zen slept at 3:45, and Naoko napped. I did some computer stuff, I think, and when Zen woke up at 5:30 he complained about his toe. We took him off to the doctor, but of course it was nothing serious. But better safe than sorry at least… Ate at the hawker center, tried to buy roti prata, but the guy was out, so we ate noodles and chicken rice and stuff. Zen ate a huge bowl of noodles by himself, it was amazing. Normally he doesn’t eat so much. Went home, watched Finding Nemo, when it finished at 10:20, Zen got a shower and I watched a bit of the Apprentice. Zen didn’t want Naoko to read him to sleep, so when the Apprentice finished at 11 (!!!) I did the honours. Oh well. We watched the end of Farewell My Concubine, and then… went to sleep. Sunday so far – we woke up late-ish, hung out, at 10 went off to the Botanical Garden. Walked around, took some pics, came back by 174 double decker bus (Zen was so happy – talking to himself the whole way nearly) and we got out at the hawker center and finally had our roti prata. Went home, I read Zen In The Night Kitchen (his new favourite) a few times, and then to sleep. Spent some time tidying, writing blog, composing music…

DVD review – Farewell My Concubine: Fine, fine performance by the late Leslie Cheung as the effeminate opera singer, devoted to his craft, secretly in love with his stage partner, and the love-hate relationship he has both with him as well as the stage partner’s prostitute/wife, all to the backdrop of life under the Manchus, the Japanese, the Nationalists, and finally the Communistss, culminating with the Cultural Revolution and a raft of forced confessions and purges. Wild, wild, wild. “”I hate only th etyrant who ahs plunged our land in mistery.” Who is the tyrant? All of the above, of course. Great fish bowl scenes of an opium dream that contrasted heavily with similar scenes we witnesses earlier that night in Finding Nemo. Dhe dawning realization of life under Communism, Gong Li and Lesley Cheung’s complicated relationship. One of the most powerful endings to a film that I can recollect, with overt and liberating betrayals as tragedy begets tragedy. Amazing.

DVD review – Sin City: Stunning recreation of the Frank Miller graphic novels, which I haven’t read, but I know enough of Miller’s style to know that the ultra-cool look of the comics, with their stark black and white contrasts, is a very faithful rendering of Miller’s signature style – and why not, since Miller is credited as co-director with Robert Rodriguez (and some input from Quentin Tarantino as well?). A great sequence with Bruce Willis, a great sequence with Mickey Rourke, and another great sequence with Clive Owen (who is this guy – he’s popping up everywhere these days). Structurally perfect, the only thing I didn’t quite understand was the motivation of powerful political and religious figures to harbour and nurture cannibals and serial killers, or for bad guys to not kill the good guys when they had a chance. Oh well. Still, it’s great, gruesome fun, and certainly better than most of the crap destined to be coming out this summer (Kingdom of Heaven, Fantastic Four, War Of The Worlds).

DVD review – A Grand Day Out: Funny fun Wallace and Gromit fun, although a bit clunky as Nick Parks’ first claymation rendering of the not-so-dynamic duo. Weird villainous moon robot, quirky touches, awful rendering of Wallace walking down the basement stairs, funny tic-tac-toe bit.

DVD review – Finding Nemo: Borrowed this from Sean, but will have to buy it for Zen soon. “Are you my conscience?” conversation in the dark is funny. Albert Brooks is good as the voice of Marlin, but basically he talks too much. Dory, as his foil, is very good – she talks less, and barely says anything of importance, but is charming all the same with her stupid “memory loss” problem. The “talking whale” bits were pretty hilarious, though. Willem Dafoe is good as a scary fish, although I thought at first he was James Woods. A shark called “Chum.” Good names, like Gill, Bloat, etc. Anchovy impressions were good, as was the sea of jellyfish (scary, man!!). Amazing how they can wring real emotions out of… computerized fish!! Quite a roller coaster, both physically and emotionally. Surfer turtle, swordfish swordfight, dolphins, scum angel, and “the Surly Mermaid” were all funny parts of the film. “Hop inside my mouth if you want to live.” Interesting…


Zen looking very zen (but actually he’s really into Finding Nemo)

Naoko Zen

Naoko and Zen

at the Botanical Garden...

In Palm Valley at the Botanical Garden…