Archive for July, 2006


Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

What can I say about this week – I was very busy every day, staying until after 10 each night except Friday, when I only stayed until 9:00. Had training, went to a meeting, did some writing, had some meetings, it was all right. Didn’t write at all on my novel. Oh well…

Had a very nice weekend. Went to the open house of the local primary school. Very chaotic inside, with booths galore, prizes, MCs playing guess-the-name-of-this-song with old Dylan and Johnny Cash songs. Not too bad, but hopelessly out of date – those songs were “grandpa’s generation” for the kids actually attending the school. Went home ate, napped, went swimming, slept. But not early enough – I was still exhausted from my long week of 20 overtime hours. Got nothing done.

Sunday we woke up early, headed off to the botanical garden to eat breakfast. Looked like it would rain, but it didn’t. The front part, which has been in development for nearly four years, seems nearly finished. We walked through part of it, very nice. Went on the 77 bus – Naoko went to Cold Storage to buy stuff for tonight’s party, we went off to west mall to do one of those vinyl paintings that Zen loves to do so much, bought him Disney’s Tarzan on VCD, then headed home. Zen ate, watched the movie, then napped. We tidied and got ready for our guests. They came at 5:00, Zen and I went swimming with Robin and baby Ian, then Zen and I cycled off to see the Malaysia train. We picked up satay on the way home, then there was lots of eating and drinking and hanging out. Lovely evening. They headed off at 9:00 or so, and we got to sleep at a reasonable time…

Action shots of me and the airplanes. Zen is the photographer. Nice visual sense…

A pic of the swan at the botanical garden today.

Naoko mugging for the camera… Zen is the photographer again.
Naoko funny

We and our guest. Zen is the photographer again…

Two mamas with babies.


Saturday, July 15th, 2006

It’s been an interesting week. Monday and Wednesday were regular hectic days at work, with a nice event on Wednesday to attend in between all of the regular stuff. Tuesday I worked from home and got so much work accomplished – I wish I could work from home every day. I basically wrote 4000 words, which I could never accomplish in the office with all of the distractions, yay. In the evening I continued the momentum and wrote 2,500 words in my novel, yay. It’s near 60,000 words long, three quarters of the way to qualifying as a novel. I guess I could get there by the middle of September if I keep going at a modest pace. As I write, I keep getting good ideas about what I can do with the plot and events. Great, great, great. We also took Zen to see Superman Returns in the evening, which was nice. I’d review it here, but I think I already did that…

Thursday was an interesting day – I had a one-day business trip to Jakarta. I did lots of worrying about it in advance, preparing over S$200 worth of rupiah in cash, with a further S$200 as well, my credit cards, passport, ticket of course, and a briefcase for my magazines.

Woke up at 5:00, took a cab at 5:45, flight left at 7:30. I got to Jakarta airport agt 8:00 local t ime after a 90 minute trip (there’s one hour time difference betwen Jakarta and Singapore). The plane bounced a bit on the runway while landing, which was a bit scary, but we survived. The plane stopped about 100 metres away from the airbridge, so we got out and walked across the last bit of tarmac to get to the customs and stuff. Worked out well, got through customs quickly, found the Silverbird taxi stand, rented a VIP taxi for the day, and breezed into town. My five interviews went quite well, and it helped having a reliable driver to take me places. Traffic in the morning was okay, the weather was fine, the people weren’t pushy, just trying to get places. We drove by many nice monuments, also the embassy district and some good parks. I can say that Jakarta is a pretty nice city from the VIP taxi view of the place. By the end of the afternoon the traffic was total chaos, stop and go, it took me a long time to get places. I despaired at the thought of not making it in time from my fourth interview to my fifth interview. But as I was pulling into the place, I saw that my next interview was in a building just a vew houses over – I could walk there. That helped a lot, hooray!!

At the fifth place, I asked the lady I had an interview with “where is a good place to eat – I haven’t had lunch,” and she said “hey, let’s go have dinner at the executive club on the top floor.” I guess I’ve finally figured out how to get a free meal. The executive club was pretty nice, and the food was pretty OK too.

Took the cab to the airport. The traffic was really heavy for the first leg, which took 30 minutes, but then we passed a critical turnoff and it was easy sailing at 120 km/h. Got to the airport, sped through the check-in, and was way early. Had a Bintang beer and waited at the boarding gate for the airplane. Jakarta airport is very nice, with the boarding gates quite like pavilions in a beachside resort – dark lighting, lots of wood, high cielings, big windows, lots of greenery outside the window and a good feeling. I was burned out from a full day, and nothing to read anyway, so I doodled some strange stuff instead. Fun. The flight was nearly empty, I had a so-so meal and two more Bintan beers, and 90 minutes later we were in Singapore. Got there, took a cab, then got home at 1:45, took a shower, slept at 2:10. What a long day!!

Friday was your regular busy day, but in the evening met a banker who had come into town. Wanted to go to Harry’s on Boat Quay for the burgers and beer, but they were packed, so we ate at the Indian place next door. We were the only diners for a long time. Got home at 10:00, Zen stayed up intil 11:30, and then I could also go to sleep, exhausted.

Saturday was OK, Zen and I went downtown to his dental checkup, then went to see Naoko, went to Kinokuniya to check out the Amazing Frank Miller Collection box, volume 1, Sin City, only S$237. Ouch!! It also weighs about 10 kilos!!! Went home, just as we got there we saw Mitchan and Manachan. Good timing! They went downtown to do some shopping, then Zen and I napped. I slept for one hour, Zen slept for three. I did some computer, wrote 1000 words for work, then they came back and we all went for a swim. After the swim we all had pizza and beer. Naoko and Mitchan spent the whole evening chatting, will probably keep on chatting until after midnight. Just like last night – I was exhausted at midnight, but Naoko was watching TV. She says she’s so tired after work, but then stays up late anyway.

Here are some links for Afriranpo Youtube videos. These girls are supposedly the hottest thing in Osaka these days. Looks pretty fun – like eX-Girl, but guitar rock and not as irritating.

Limited Express (Has Gone) is one of those Osaka bands I was always interested in, but never got to see. They are a regular at Juso Fandango (or at least they were in the day…).

Here’s Fudge Tunnel, one of those good ’90s grindcore (or whatever) bands that nobody rever really cared much about. I once owned “Creep Diets.”

Here’s a great Godflesh video for the song “Mothra.”

Superman returns… and returns… and returns

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

So we took Zen to see Superman. I wasn’t expecting it to be very good (none of the previous Supermans were really good, but at least the second and third were entertaining. This film was supposed to be a sequel to the first two movies only, which confused me a bit until I watched this movie and realized how important it was to have this film follow on Kal-el and Lois’ “one night love affair” in the Fortress of Solitude. This film breaks from conventional Superman lore as well, and James Marsden shows up as Perry White’s nephew Johnny (or something). And so he’s in both the X-Men series (which was started off by Bryan Singer) and Superman Returns (which is directed by Bran Singer, who makes his second use of Kevin Spacey. Well, Spacey’s Lex Luthor is not too bad, but too bad he’s got a crappy screenplay to chew on. Oh well.

I wonder why the Superman movies never ham up the camp aspect of the Superman comics. With all of Superman’s super-abilities (super-hearing, super-reflexes, super-apetite, super-digestion, super-indigestion), a list of which mentioned in nearly sixty years of Superman could probaly stretch to several pages, couldn’t they have used more? And what’s this fascination with pitting Superman against Lex Luthor, who has no super abilities of his own. Oh well, at least my curiosity is abated, and Zen and Naoko did enjoy it…

Superman Returns


Saturday, July 8th, 2006

I bought some very cool CDs recently. Naturally I had to buy them from Amazon, since I couldn’t get things like that from HMV, Grammaphone, or (heaven help me) one of the stores in Singapore’s pathetic “That CD Shop” chain. Check out the reviews below.

I also found out about a live house here in Singapore that seems to have good live shows from time to time. I mean, I found out about it from my friend Matt, who sent me a youtube video as he was seemingly trolling for Masonna stuff… and found Singapore noise instead. The Gashaus is in Bugis and seems pretty cool. Oddly enough, it was at one time a bank! Have to check that one out…

CD reviews

Sunn 0))) – Flight of the Behemoth: Five songs, including two remixed by Merzbow (who also works with Boris – the connection between the three bands is strong, as the Sunn 0))) guys run a label, Southern Lord, that distributes Boris releases in the U.S.A.). The first song starts off exctingly, with a rising bass sound, but then goes on for over 20 minutes of booming and bass-heavy buzzing. In fact, it sounds like just a single bass groaning away, although I’m sure there’s more happening here than seems at first. Still, it’s very much like Earth for those parts. In fact, it’s practically indistinguisable from Earth on those parts. The Merzbow remixed tracks are a bit different, however, with layers of strange noises going on top of the bass, mesmerizing. The final track is called “F.W.T.B.T.” (the initials stand for “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” the title of both the Ernest Hemingway novel and also the Metallica song”. The full title is actually “F.W.T.B.T (I Dream of Lars Ulrich Being Thrown Through the Bus Window Instead of My Mystikal Master Kliff Burton)”, a bit WEIRD and agenda-laden. The track is more of the usual, but with some cool jazzy snare drums stroked with a brush in an almost Twin Peaks Angelo Badalamenti-sort of way. Very doom-laden and spooky, with some creepy moaning and groaning going on.

Sunn 0))) Flight of the Behemoth

Earth – Earth 2: Considered the grand-daddies of drone-core, the three songs on this CD are very long – 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 27 minutes respectively. Very heavy bass sounds throughout the first two tracks, and the last one is a single mono-drone for 27 minutes. Very much like Aube’s stuff, or maybe like “Pure 2″ from the Godflesh “Pure” release.

Earth 2

Melvins – Bullhead: I might not have bought Bullhead, had it not been out of curiosity over the song “Boris,” which is supposedly how Wata, Atsushi, and Takeshi picked the name for their band. I have about six Boris albums, and now I guess I have about six Melvins albums as well. Bullhead is plenty good music, but in the end really nothing that blew me away like the way Godflesh did when I first heard it, or even some of Aube’s stuff. Final song “Cows” is 8 minutes long, over half of it is a drum solo. So-so.

Melvins Bullhead

Melvins – Lysol: I like the Melvins a lot, and many regard this as their best album. Until now, I thought that maybe I liked the Crybaby the best, but then again – what do I know. “Lysol” has a Flipper cover on it, “Sacrifice,” as well as an Alice Cooper song “the Ballad of Dwight Fry.” Strange.

Melvins Acetone

Boris – Absolutego – Please see My Big Bad Boris Page for a review of this CD.

Boris play a blistering live show – great sound quality:

Boris’ drummer does some stuff with Sunn 0))) – lousy sound, strangely demonic:

More of that Boris strangeness, this time in Switzerlad – sound quality quite poor, editing cuts back and forth (pt. 1)

Boris in Switzerland, part 2: check out Wata’s guitar cord at 1:30, Atsushi’s great Chinese gong,

Boris – Akuma no uta: Please see My Big Bad Boris Page for a review of this CD.

Movie Reviews:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Anybody who grew up with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory probably has images of what tht world looked like. For the most part, director Tim Burton sticks to the formula, but I can’t imagine anyone ever thought that Willie Wonka, owner of the factory, ever looked like James Dean, the young Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Ryan O’Neal, Michael J. Fox, or… Johnny Depp. So Burton gets Depp to work his usual magic, i.e. model a character after a well-known character from popular culture – it had worked in the Keith Richard-inspired Jack Sparrow character from Pirates of the Carribean, so for Tim Burton why not deconstruct…. Michael Jackson! And so, added into the story are all sorts of clumsy flashbacks to Willie’s childhood, and allow Willie to reconcile with his father (Christopher Lee, harkening back to Burton’s treatment of Edward Scissorhands and another icon from old horror films, Vincent Price – hey, Burton and Depp aren’t creative geniuses, they’re self-plagiarizers!). None of this was in the book as I recall, where Willie Wonka was wacky, self-confident, and a little dangerous. In fact, I seem to remember the mean kids being disposed of permanently, quite sinister. The highlight of the film, besides Charlie himself and his unfortunate family, are the Oompa Loompas, played by a single actor. Nice touch, Tim. But if it had been me, I might have cast Kirk Douglas as Willie Wonka.

Johnny Depp and the Chocolate Factory

This is a bit more of what Willie Wonka should have looked like – Uncle Sam!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book

So here’s Gene Wilder cast as Willie Wonka, Hollywood was getting it wrong early.

Gene Wilder and the Chocolate Factory

The Man Who Knew Too Little

The Man Who Knew Too Little: Saw this movie a few years ago, mainly because I was intrigued by the title and also because it had Bill Murray in a leading role – it if was half as good as “Groundhog Day” it would be all right. I wasn’t too impressed with the Mr. Magoo-like tale of a simple guy who gets immersed in a cloak and dagger world but thinks it’s all an elaborate prank. But a few years went by, somebody gave me a copy, I watched it again, and liked it much more. Besides the fact that the London of the film is quite clearly a Hollywood stage. Lots of very funny scenes, such as when Bill Murray is being chased by the cops. The plot is very well constructed, with lots of clever coincedences preserving the appearance that a guy in this situatoin might actually be fooled into thinking that people weren’t shooting at him for real. Spotted Alfred “Doctor Octopus” Molina playing a Russian butcher.

Fela Kuti - Music is the Weapon

Music Is The Weapon: documentary of the amazing life of Fela Kuti, which comes as part of a 2-disc set of the man’s work. Showing Fela’s life at one scary interval around the time that thousands of Nigerian soldiers raided his compound and raped his women, threw his mother out a window, and violated every aspect of his life stopping short of actually ending it. An engaging personality with a flamboyand “I don’t give a shit” attitude (and this is a guy who really lived it), there is plenty of righteous rage in his long shows his live harangues, his mesmerizing musical journeys. Top marks for this one.

Wu Bai and China Blue

Wu Bai and China Blue: Xia Ye Wan Feng: Taiwan’s best rock ‘n’ roller and balladeer, a charismatic mix of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards onstage, this is an excellent DVD of a series of concerts where Wu Bai played 30 of his songs that I know best, such as “Last Dance,” “Tong Ku De Ren,” and “Ai Qing De Jing Tou.” Of course, it also has a version of the “Shima Uta” song that The Boom did so well a few years ago, except this time a rather weak version sung with Zhou Hua Jian. Oh well. The stage setting is dark with deep blue lights, sometimes with a live string section playing along, sometimes with a pretty female guitarist, sometimes with companion singers, he’s always mesmerizing. This is a good one to play in the background instead of having the radio on – after all, why not? Zen likes to play guitar and drum when he sees Wu Bai – after all, why not?

Lim Giong Insects Awaken

Lin Chang – Insects Awaken: The boring CD comes with a DVD containing three boring videos set to Lin Chang’s music. I seem to remember the third one was pretty good. Interactive stuff just recounts text that is already part of the cover art.

Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties: I watched the first film on an airplane out of boredom, with very low expecations. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a painful Howard The Duck-like experience. In my life – oh, man – I have seen MANY movies that are really the pits, and the first movie hardly came close to any of them. Now, my son wanted to see the new film, and I expected that it would be quite bad – if the first one didn’t suck, surely the sequel would. Well, wrong again – the second movie was pretty all right. Taking the concept of “sequel” for all it’s worth, the second film has two Garfields. Blasphemy? Well, apparently all of this “the Prince and the Pauper” stuff is worth recycling, and Garfield may or may not be related to a royal cat called Prince (if you’re expecting gags riffing on his Purple-ness, there’s only one – when the imposter is revealed, someone says “he’s not even ‘the cat formerly known as prince.’). For sequel, plenty of gags on duality, two, doubles, etc. Even a great copy of the much-imitated Marx Brothers mirror gag from one of their films (A Day At The Races? A Night At The Opera? Duck Soup? Help me out here…). Of course, by the end it’s all very dull, but the film is only 80 minutes long. Zen laughed his head off when Garfield farted. He’ll probably remember that for the rest of his life…

Garfield 2: a Tale of Two Kitties

Somehow I just LOVE this cover. ” Torture, thy name is Spider-man.”

Torture, thy name is Spider-man

Here’s another weird one… Aunt May, packing heat? What was the world coming to?

Torture, thy name is Spider-man

Boris Melvins Sunn 0))) Earth…

Friday, July 7th, 2006

Hey, I haven’t written on the blog for a pretty long time. Don’t remember why, maybe it is all of the little things I need to do that keep me busy. Every day this week I suffered a little frustration, a little setback. Nothing permanent, happily, but I was getting pretty frustrated for a while.

Some important points:

- I watched the Germany vs. Argentina game at the Ministry of Sound, a local super-disco. Germany won, and we yelled louder than the Argentina supporters, so it was fun. Unfortunately, one of the party organisers took my bag home (I got it the following Monday), and I got home at 5:00 AM after spending one hour searching for the bag and another hour searching for a taxi. Yucky.
- played badminton with Naoko’s friends. It was pretty fun and very sweaty, but we got home too late.
- Zen’s swimming lessons aren’t going so well, he cries and panics a lot. But he’ll keep trying. The coach is a nice guy, but I think Zen is a bit scared of the pool itself. When we take him on our own to another pool, he enjoys it much more.
- I worked from home Tuesday and Thursday, both days very much interrupted by stuff. Tuesday I got a call at noon, Zen was still complaining about sore legs, was lethargic and weepy, had a sore tummy. I rushed next door to get him, took him to the doctor, waited 90 minutes, got some medicine, and let him nap from 3:00. He slept through until the next morning at 7:00!!
- Talked to Zen’s teacher about Zen’s progress in school, she’s very positive about all of his skills, saying that he’s a very popular boy and lots of kids want to play with him (which is good – many of them have been in the school nearly thee years and Zen is a newcomer). Only in one area is he a bit slow – listening to instructions, sometimes he can follow what’s being asked of him, sometimes he can’t. Also, he has a bit of trouble solving problems, and tends to give up rather than try to work something out.
- bought some music from Amazon! Melvins “Acetone,” “Bullhead,” Boris “Akuma no uta,” “Absolutego,” Earth “Earth 2,” and Sun 0))) “Flight of the Behemoth.” Fun cool dronecore!

Working hard, late nights, trying to write and get stuff done, arrange interviews with bank heads, jazzy stuff like that, write articles, work on getting the magazine out, yay!

Recent pics:

Here’s a pic of Zen in his Spider-Man gear, on his way to school for the “costume day” event.

Zen took this picture of me. He loves taking pics, and knows how to do all of the simple operations on my digital camera.
Pete pic taken by Zen

Naoko and Zen today as we headed into to town together…
Naoko and Zen today at the bus-stop

Zen took this picture of us this morning. Actually, he took a whole bunch of pictures, but this was the best one.
Peter and Naoko - pic taken by Zen

Zen took this pic as well, but it’s a bit blurry.
blurry pic