Archive for July, 2005

Brian Johnson vs. Bon Scott

Monday, July 25th, 2005

Saturday was a fun day – we slept in, because I forgot to set the alarm, then panicked and rushed through breakfast and all that so that Naoko could get to work. OK. Took the bus into town, got to the 7-11 at Centre Point and picked up two passes to see Slipknot. Turns out that there are no problems getting these free tickets – you spend $25 on beer, you get a free ticket. I’m still wondering what the catch is. Maybe the only catch is that you have to actually drink the thick Baron’s Strong Brew, which is mighty rich, pretty strong (8.8 percent) and usually the beverage of choice of old men who have nothing better to do. Zen was desperate to be on a train, so we took the rain looping up northbound, got out at Choa Chu Kang and rode the mini-liner LRT in a loop, then took the regular train to Bukit Batok, another bus to home. Ate noodles, Zen slept, I did some work and learned a lot about agents in New York City. Well, not really that much, but enough to make me feel like I know something for now. I guess I’ll know nothing until I’ve actually met one. Zen slept, I worked, I sampled Baron’s Strong Brew, a few of them, then Zen woke up and I took him downtown to meet Naoko for dinner. We had good Chinese food, then wandered around and bought some bicycle helmets, and took a bus home. I was so sleepy in the evening, could barely read Zen bedtime stories, but in the end he fell asleep, I did a bit more work (keep finding more addresses of agents) and then went to sleep. Sunday was a fun day – woke up, walked down to the clinic, took a number, waited 1 minute and then went in to talk to the doctor about Zen’s cough. All three of us left blood samples for testing. Got more medecine. When we left, the lobby was full of people – I guess we had good timing. Makes up for all the times we waited there about two hours or so . Went out, had some breakfast, went to get coffee, then home to clean and all that. Zen made great trains and played quietly by himself, didn’t beg to watch movies, read books. Very well-behaved. Had lunch, then he went to sleep, I did some more work, he woke up and we all three of us snuggled and had a nice time, then I took him off to see the Malaysia train again. I took him back, went to the doctor again to check out a bulging tummy that we think is a new hernia, again nobody waiting so we just swept in, friendly Japanese-speaking doctor, Zen very well-behaved, when we went out the lobby was so full of people! Got home, ate a yummy dinner, hung out, watched Charlie’s Angels, had a nice evening. Stayed up until 1 A.M. doing all the little things I need to do to need to do what I need to do. Busy it seems…

Lonely Zen at the bus stop…

Zen at the bus stop

Zen and papa trying out our new headbanging gear prior to the Slipknot concert


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Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

Hey, another week done. Finally, finally Friday. Wednesday was a pretty regular day. Although I forgot what exactly I did, it seems like it was pretty mellow. I think. Had a laugh eating lunch with two Indian women and two Filipinas. I was the only Canadian and the only guy, so I invented a male Canadian friend. Ha ha. Worked very hard getting my boss’ travel schedule together, but it was a success. Thursday was a very busy day, I researched and wrote an article, turned it in at 6, then started proofreading stuff. Sheesh. Around 8:00 we got the news that the Chinese government had done something about revaluing the Renminbi, finally, so my first thought was “groan, this will occupy our Friday.” Took a cab home late, ate dinner late, fell asleep in my clothes right after dinner. Sooooo… tired. Friday I spent the day chasing new interviewees for my boss, and interviewing people related to the news in China. Ha ha. Got it all done, though, happily, and next week will be smooooooooth sailing. Walked out the door after 8:00, saw that 7-11 has some sort of Baron’s Strong Brew/Slipknot promotion, so I went for a look. Turns out that if you buy 5 beers at a regular price, you not only get a pewter mug and a Slipknot button, but you also get a free tickete worth $60!!! I was planning to go to the concert anyway… Yes, laugh if you wish, but life in Singapore is pretty boring, and among all of the live bands that have come in the last two years (David Bowie, ABC, Air Supply, Level 42, Nana Moskouri, Tortoise, Linkin Park, Black Eyed Peas, yawn…) Slipknot seems to be the edgiest, most interesting, most exciting, most… scummy. OK, so I’ll give it a try. So I chatted with the girl promoting the stuff for a while. I asked her if she likes Slipknot, she says that they’re great. I asked her which album she likes, she didn’t know, I asked her which band member she likes, she didn’t know. I think she has never heard of Slipknot. Nobody at work seems to know who they are either. What’s going on – Singapore is the only place in Asia Slipknot is playing and nobody here knows anything about them? What’s going on? Check out the bizarrre Baron’s Strong Brew-linked website that gushes something about “effervescence.” Can you understand what this copy is talking about?

Monday, Tuesday

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

Hey, it was another Monday yesterday, Naoko watched over Zen at home while I worked a 14-hour day in town which included meetings, phone calls, and I wrote an article. Very busy, took a cab home, hung out, went to sleep by midnight. Tuesday Zen went back to school for the first time in over a week, Naoko stayed at home and relaxed. I worked, called, called, interviewed, called, called, wrapped up early. Got home, looked after Zen for a while, and played play doh with him. Nice and fun, he went to sleep at 10:15. Naoko is tired after a day at home and is sleeping already at 10:30.

Zen plays Play Doh!

Zen's Play Doh letters



Monday, July 18th, 2005

Hey, another dull Sunday. Naoko went off to work this morning, so I saw Mitchan and Manae off, took Zen to the doctors, and did laundry and other chores. Zen went to sleep around 2, and I did some computer, then when he woke up at 5 we went off shopping and to see the Malaysia train, yayyy… In the evening, nothing too exciting, of course, and then some sleep early. Here are some funny pictures of Zen and Manae from this morning.

Perfect pose…

perfect pose...

Not-so-perfect pose…

nott-so-perfect pose

Just So On The Pillow

Sunday, July 17th, 2005

Heey, another few days gone by. Monday I had a very busy day at work. Don’t remember quite how mind-numbingly busy it was, but it sure ws busy. Tuesday I stayed at work until 11 PM, making sure to transcribe interviews, call to set up appointments, and do all the things I needed to set myself up for a few days of working at home. Ouch! Wednesday I stayed at home with Zen, making sure that he was OK and stuff like that. I took him for a bike ride in the morning, then let him sleep, took him to watch the Malaysia train at 6:15, he was disappointd that there was only one train and not two, then did some work in the evening after Naoko came back home. Watched a bit of Nausicaa, the first 50 minutes or so. Thursday took care of Zen again, did some work, did some calling, emailling, playing games. Took Zen for a bike ride in the morning and to see the Malaysia train in the evening – Zen was hoping that there would be two trains, and I told him that it wasn’t likely that there would be two trains, but sure enough when we got to the platform there were two trains – one Singapore-bound train waiting on the side track for the Malaysia-bound train to pass. We went up to the driver to say hi to him and smile and wave, then the 6:15 to Malaysia came through, and a few minutes later our new friends headed off to Singapore. Saw another family, who had probably also come to see the trains, standing on the other side of the track. Zen was disappointed that he couldn’t see three trains. Worked until 1:30 AM, was absolutely exhausted when I finally went to sleep. Friday I got the insets to my CD done and photocopied, so I cut those and put them into place. Finished off and submitted six articles, set up appointments, called, emaimlled, arranged, shuffled, and got tons accomplished, while also looking after Zen. I’m a hero! It rained massively all afternoon, and Zen slept and slept, but around 6:00 I decided to take Zen to see the train after all, so I woke him up, jumped on the bike, and off we went. Met nice people in the station, and we saw one train come through. Again, Zen was disappointed that he couldn’t see two trains. In the evening tried to finish watching Nausicaa, but Zen became sleepy and I had to shower him and put him to bed. Fell asleep with him, when I woke up at 11:00, I was too fantastically sleepy to stay awake, slept like a dead man for the next 10 hours and woke up nearly as sleepy… hard to get out of bed, but there’s a new Saturday ahead of me. Ate breakfast, then did a ton of cleaning all over the house, including the marble floor and the fishtank. The VCR repairguy came along, then Reinhard and Christina walked in! Not quite finished with the fishtank, but never mind. Hung out, chatted, listened to Octopus Sun, watched DVDs, ate a yummy lunch, watched Zen warm up to them, and at 2:00 Mitchan and Manae came along. Then finally late in the afternoon we went off to Bukit Batok Nature Park by car – 7 of us in one little Proton, interesting. Got to the park, and saw huge bunches of red berries on the mini palm trees, how nice. Went off to see the berries, then discovered a huge monitor lizard scampering off into the jungle. Interesting. Zen and Manae played on the jungle gym, some German kids were about, we went to the reservoir to see turtles, then hiking around and walking. Back home, watch a bit more DVD, then they went off and we said “bye bye Reinhard and Christina, have a great honeymoon in Australia!” Had dinner with Mitchan and Mane, yummy pasty and salad and sausages. Great!! At 8:00 Zen got so sleepy – he hadn’t taken a nap that afternoon – and I left my food to shower him, brush his teeth, get him to sleep. After finishing dinner, got on the bike and did a trip tot Lim Deli to buy stuff we needed, got back and found out that Mitchan wanted chocolate bread and stuff, so I did another trip. Got back and took a swim, now I’m updating. HEH – PEP!

DVD review – Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle: The sequel to the much-superior Charlie’s Angels offers a weak version of more-of-the-same, except this time the ideas that seemed so clever in the first film just fall flat – Lucy Liu refusing to listen to more than two words from a guy who’s trying to hit on her, the “three very different girls” origin stuff, Bosley’s entrance – all the things that seemed ad-libbed and fun in the first film here are a bit forced. The trailer to the film is definitely ten times as much fun as the movie itself, and you can save yourself all the time of watching the stupid thing by just sticking to the that little three-minute masterpiece. This film tries to innovate by going into Drew Barrymore’s past, and it tries to be innovative by ignoring race – Lucy Liu’s father is a very white John Cleese, while Bill Murray’s brother is a very black Bernie Mack. The opening Bond-esque scene was just too unbelievable to stomach (helicoper falls into precipice, Angels start it up in mid-fall and fly away in it), and other scenes are just too CG-laden (the pointless BMX bike race, Demi Moore and Cameron Diaz fighting) to take with just a grain of salt. I was prepared to be disappointed by Demi Moore, who I just don’t like, and her grandstanding was something even I wasn’t quite prepared for. The bikinis and the oversized golden guns – yuck! I’m trying to remember a scene that was fun and quirky and true to the spirit of the original, but I’m not coming up with anything. Oh yeah, there was the continued poking fun at Mission Impossible – in the first film it was the rubber masks, in this one it was the MI:2 billboards. Funny… kinda.

VCD review – Nausicaa: Need three attempts to finish watching this film, which will probably be my favorite Miyazaki film for its ambitious legends and weird other-worldly geographies. Fantastic insect-laden worlds pulse with spore-infested life, noxious gases, and the pulse of human hope for a sane world. Weird Lovecraftian ancient spectres or cyclopean horror, as well as pre-pubescent nymphette assassins, not to mention wild arial battles and daring mid-air rescues and explosions. Crazy. Cool.

VCD review – Laputa: The fantastic Miyazaki Hayao film about Johnathan Swift’s flying city talks about dormant power and greedy princelings with overreaching ambitions. Sure, everybody can be undone by a pair of cute spy kids, and the hyper-kinetic ariel battles and chases are fantastic to behold, as are the cool robots in Miyazaki’s employ, even if they do look slightly like something seen in a Superman cartoon from 1941. The robot, along with princess Nausicaa, first appeared in an episode of Lupin the Third, also directed by Miyazaki.

DVD review – the Motorcycle Diaries: No, not the Basketball Diaries, about punk poet Jim Carroll, but the Motorcycle Diaries of Che Guevera, the Argentine who, as a young man, drove around South America on an old motorcycle with his good friend. As young men, torn between hormones and ideology, Che is remarkable interested in the latter while his older friend is clearly interested in the former. Okay – a two hour film can never get close to desccribing the gargantuan task that these two undertook in their epic journey, and it is just as ambitious in trying to get under the skin of everybody’s favorite martyred revolutionary. Of course, this is Che the real guy, not Che the inspirational t-shirt, and the tale is quite fantastic and well-told nonetheless and the tale of friendship gets back to his friend, now a very old man living in Havana.

Here comes Zen…

Here comes Zen...

… and there goes Zen!

... and there goes Zen!

Zen and papa

Zen and papa

Red berry tree

red berry tree

Mitchan and Manae

Mitchan and Manae

Peter, Reinhard, Christina

Peter Reinhard Christina

Zen and Manae playing

Zen and Manae playing



Octopus Sun

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

Yay, I did it, I finished my big musical project. First it was one CD, then it was two CDs, now it’s a triple CD project – kind of like “All Things Must Pass” (but longer, since that triple-album fit on two CDs). There are 21 original songs on the album and 37 covers, most of them acoustic “demo” versions, and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Stigmata” are “studio” versions. Of course, longer doesn’t mean better, because it’s just my doodling, but it was fun. I’m calling the unit Octopus Sun, and the release “Just So On The Pillow,” all taken from my poetry.

Disc 1:
1. “You Got The Wrong Guy”
2. Blue Pill/Red Pill
3. My Song
4. Thomas the very useful Noise Engine – special guest Zen Hoflich
5. Love Profusion (acoustic) (OA Madonna)
6. Casuitry
7. If chaos is natural, why create order?
8. Strummin’
9. Country Zen – special guest Zen Hoflich
10. “Perfect Human World”
11. the Mercy Seat (acoustic) (OA Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
12. Hanemono (acoustic) (OA Spitz) – special guest Naoko Hoflich
13. Z-E-N Song – special guest Zen Hoflich
14. Green Eggs and Zen – special guest Zen Hoflich
15. Find The River/I’m a Little Dinosaur (OA R.E.M./Jonathan Richman) – special guest Zen Hoflich
16. Sabbath Funky Sabbath (OA Black Sabbath)
17. Idiot Slumber
18. Warrior Goddess
19. Your Hundred Guesses

Disc 2:

1. NOISE!!
2. 60 bpm song
3. Je t’aime (acoustic) (OA Spitz) – with special guest Naoko Hoflich
4. Especially, Perhaps
5. (Take Me Home) Country Roads (acoustic) (OA Spitz) – with special guest Zen Hoflich
6. the Warden Wanders Watanabe
7. Just and Benevolent Ruler
8. Stigmata (OA Ministry)
9. then… as magically as it thad… it was…
10. Wicked Game (acoustic) (OA Chris Isaak)
11. 90 bpm song

Disc 3:

1. the One I Love (acoustic) (OA R.E.M.)
2. Never Talking To You Again (acoustic) (OA Husker Du)
3. the Ketchup Song (acoustic) (OA Stomin’ Tom Conners)
4. Juanita (acoustic) (OA Gram Parsons)
5. Redemption Song (acoustic) (OA Bob Marley)
6. Tong Ku De Ren (acoustic) (OA Wu Bai)
7. Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (acoustic) (OA Leonard Cohen)
8. Tequila Sunrise (acoustic) (OA the Eagles)
9. Mad World (acoustic) (OA Tears For Fears)
10. Cause Cheap Is How I Feel (acoustic) (OA Cowboy Junkies)
11. Suzanne (acoustic) (OA Leonard Cohen)
12. Dead Flowers (acoustic) (OA the Rolling Stones)
13. the Story of Isaac (acoustic) (OA Leonard Cohen)
14. Millionaire (acoustic) (OA the Mekons)
15. Apeman (acoustic) (OA the Kinks)
16. Suicide Is Painliess (acoustic) (OA Johnny Mathis)
17. Hurt (acoustic) (OA Nine Inch Nails)
18. Brimful of Asha (acoustic) (OA Cornershop)
19. Pocahontas (acoustic) (OA Neil Young)
20. Wish You Were Here (acoustic) (OA Pink Floyd)
21. Famous Blue Raincoat (acoustic) (OA Leonard Cohen
22. Me and Bobby McGee (acoustic) (OA Kris Kristofferson)
23. Misguided Angel (acoustic) (OA Cowboy Junkies)
24. Turn The Page (acoustic) (OA Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band)
25. Highway Patrolman (acoustic) (OA Bruce Springsteen)
26. So Long Marianne (acoustic) (OA Leonard Cohen)
27. the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (acoustic) (OA Gordon Lightfoot)

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Sunday, July 10th, 2005

Hey, another week gone by. Monday I did a lot of research on my two new articles, Tuesday I did a lot of writing and stayed late. Yoiks. Wednesday I worked again on my articles, and did some other stuff like setting up interviews – calling, emailing, checking websites. Busy. At lunch I went out and bought The Best of Elvis Costello, looked at a bunch of other cool stuff – Grammaphone is a cool shop all right! Got home eand finished watching the second part of Charlies Angels 2 – I saw the first half Tuesday night. Thursday it was more of the same, but before I went home I picked up the Best of Seal double CD that I had been looking at (but didn’t buy) on Tuesday. In the evening I did more music as Naoko watched Charlie’s Angels 2. Friday started off normal, but when I got Zen to school I told the teachers about his red dots on his chest, and they told me to get Zen to a doctor to confirm whether or not it’s chicken pox, since it has been going around. Waited over an hour, and then the doc told me that, yes, it is chicken pox, and Zen needs to be out of school for up to two weeks – yoiks!! Took the bus, Zen got on and proudly told everybody on the bus “I have chicken pox!” So I spent the day at home with my little darling, playing the guitar and doing a bit of work, hanging around, enjoying life. It was hot!! Zen and I went off to the Malaysia train at 6:15, it came and went. Got home, ordered pizza. At 8 I went over to Sean’s so that we could go out for beers. Zen cried a lot as I went out, which was difficult, but I couldn’t allow him to control my actions so I went out anyway. After Sean had a bite, we hit the Maple Pub, near where we live, and had a beer. Sean played a $2 game of pool, and I listened to the bad music. Went to Busk pub, where they sell the cheapest beer in town – $3.50 for a glass. Cute bartop dancer Ginny came over and tried her hardest to sell us tequila shots. She went off to do some bartop dancing, and she was very good, even though the music wasn’t exactly suitable for dancing! Then she came back to our table for more hard selling. Of course, after a while we had to give in and we had our tequila shots. They weren’t as cheap as the beer, of course… Went to the place next door, which tried harder to be a classy place, but actually it was kind of crappy. The waitress tried to be sweet, but in the end she was rude and weird. I told Sean that, although busk had an all-male, televised sports-loving clientele, it actually had better atmosphere, and then the waitress came up and made a comment on the atmosphere. Sean and I exchanged a nervous glance – could she overhear what we’re saying in a noisy bar like that? Creepy!! Then went back to Busk, and were eventually convinced to buy more tequila shots. Sean played another game of pool, we had some friendly converstion with the local dudes, and then went home. So this is where local dudes hang out!! Sunday, woke up late, Naoko and Zen already up at 8 or so, a bit of a headache. Oh well. Spent the morning tidying up, then made lunch for Zen and put him to sleep around 2. I did a whole bunch of recording, which was nice. Took Zen off to see the Malaysia train at 6:15 of course, this time we were surprised to see one train heading INTO Singapore, it went off on a siding, waited for the usual Malaysia-bound train to come by, then saw off the Singapore-bound train as well. Cool. Gorgeous evening, we saw nine helicopters fly by, four jets, and a big old airplane, not to mention tons of birds. Very nice. Went home for dinner with Naoko, then hanging around singing songs and watching famiy DVDs. Zen spotted a sliver of a moon hanging in the sky, very excited – “moon, moon!!!” We called our Austrian friends Norbert and Therese, they told me that new houses are being built next to theirs, sounds tempting. It must be nice living in Austria! Now it’s time to go to sleep, but there’s a big black creepy moth in our bathroom, yuck. Closed the door, turned off the lights. Hope it flies off eventually…

Zen and a picture of Thomas

Thomas the tank engine

who’s that other calomine-lotion clad kid over there?

a week

Monday, July 4th, 2005

Hey ho, another weekend bites the dust. But this one was pretty good – I hung out with Zen, we went to the Science Centre, and then to uncle Ron’s house for a barbecue and some singing and music. Don’t seem to remember anything interesting about Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, other than on Friday when I went to a bank event at the Fullerton that was pretty interesting – with LOTS of great food! But I didn’t eat too much because I was lost in conversation. Oh well. Friday night I came home and watched half of Charlie’s Angels with Zen (his new favorite movie), then half of Laputa with Zen another night, then the other half of Laputa, and the other half of Charlie’s Angels another time. I’m big on watching half movies – I still haven’t watched the second half of “The Motorcycle Diaries.” Maybe tonight. And… went to see the Malaysia train on both Saturday and Sunday. Zen was so happy. Saturday Zen and I went to the Science Centre in the morning. He loved it, especially the kinetic energy display in the front hall, with the balls that go along little tracks and knock drums and bells and go over levers and stuff like that, very clever. Inside he enjoyed the tree house, the aviation display, and the air pressure rocket activity, as well as some of the optical illusions. Nice stuff, some of it not so amazing, but good fun nonetheless. My parents warned me that Zen would be too young for the Science Centre, but it turns out that that wasn’t the case at all, he had a great time. Saturday night I worked on recording songs, got a lot done. Sunday we spent a lot of time cleaning and running errands, then in the early afternoon we went off to eat at a friends house, lovely barbecued stuff, great great great. Zen had 3 other kids, age 2.5 to 5 to play with, and Naoko and I had 4 other adults to chat with. Ron and Bev once played in a bar covers band, so it was nice to chat with them about music and stuff. I pulled out my guitar and played a bunch of stuff, but Ron of course is fantastic – I hope he shows me how to do some stuff later, i.e. how to play better. Got home, had a smiple dinner, and time to rest. Naoko is tired, so I won’t do any recording tonight. Looks like the only time I’ll be able to do that will be on weekends, so I guess whatever I can’t get done one Saturday night will have to wait for the next Saturday night. That’s not so great…

Zen strikes a pose…

strike a pose