Sunday, April 30

hokkien slang

This is too priceless not to share. What do you say when something -- such as a crispy piece of BBQ beef fat melting in your mouth -- is super shiok?

"Song song gao Jurong!"

decadence is...

...arriving in a Mercedes for a mahjong game, shuffling bling bling Louis Vuitton tiles while sipping champgne.

Sunday, April 23


Looked down on my right hand as I was typing. A tiny pus-filled blister was forming.

Told him that I wasn't going to talk to him anymore. Told him to goway. He said ok.

Made warm tuna salad for brunch. Popped more antibiotics. Checked e-mail. Napped.

Coughed myself awake at the crack of dawn. Brushed teeth. Crawled back in bed to try to recuperate.

Slept fitfully. Still felt hot and cold.

Hugged TPL many times. Congratulated Ivan many times, too. Went home at 3am, all tired out.

Drank tap water, orange juice and cranberry juice. Got burned by reckless cigarette waving dude. Attempted to dance while perfectly sober.

Told him I was back. Told him I was sick. Told him I missed him. Told him to come pick me up. He said he couldn't, sorry.

Made it to party after midnight. Amused myself by laughing at drunk people, since I was the most sober one around. Amused others with my croaking.

Rushed from Bangkok to airport to go home and change for TPL's wedding party. Bathed at top speed but lost time with slow application of make-up. Felt hot and cold.

Sunday, April 16


In praise of boredom

This week an academic claimed that boredom was good for kids. That may be true, says Zoe Williams but it takes an adult to really appreciate it

Friday April 14, 2006
The Guardian

Strictly speaking, you should not have a newspaper yet. You should not even be out of bed. It is a holy day. You should be lolling about on that tightrope of boredom where you are at a perfect equipoise between getting up and going back to sleep. Oh, you have children, you say. They are on holiday. You need to teach them Greek, and fast, because they've got kayaking in the afternoon, and the interactive What Does The Inside of My Intestine Look Like? exhibition at the Science Museum closes at a quarter to midnight.

Article continues
Parents worry a lot about keeping their children entertained. In the holiday season especially, the thought process goes: we are a lot older than their fun little friends, plus we both have a hangover. Must entertain little bleeders. Must entertain and improve.

In fact, you could not be more wrong. According to research by Dr Richard Ralley, a psychology lecturer at Edge Hill College in Ormskirk, Lancashire, boredom is valuable for children. It is an evolutionary necessity, like rage and fear. It might or might not constitute some kind of emotio-intellectual recuperation. Dr Ralley does not know yet, but he hopes to have some results soon. He had this idea, you know, in 1999, but didn't start researching it until the beginning of 2006.

I asked him about this hiatus yesterday, and a curious meeting of minds occurred, wherein he was slightly too bored to give me a proper answer, and I was slightly too bored to listen to the partial answer he did give. So I don't know, but I do know that it has something to do with Americans.

The interesting thing about boredom, Ralley says, is that: "Boredom is unpleasant. You would expect an unpleasant emotion to have a really straightforward motivational effect, so being bored would make you get up and do something. But that doesn't seem to be the case - where people have written about being bored, they describe just sitting about more. You withdraw from things, so maybe there's an energy-conservation function going on. But at the same time, it is still unpleasant, and the unpleasantness could be a protection against your withdrawing completely." What a delightful emotional knife-edge.

Naturally, you don't need an academic to tell you there's a causal link between being bored and sitting about not doing anything. My office friend used to describe this as the Three Bs: Busy, Bored and Behind. Interestingly, neither of us has a job anymore.

What Dr Ralley is forgetting, of course, is that whether or not you get taken to Alton Towers and fed chocolate on a Good Friday, childhood is and will always be full of the most unbreachable, yawning, demonic chasms of pure boredom - there you are, minding your own business, and your mum says, "Do you want to come to the shops?". You think, "Why not, it'll break up the day a bit, and maybe there's a Curly Wurly in it for me," and you're innocently trotting alongside her, you might be holding her hand, when bam. She meets some "friend"; they barely even sodding know each other; they decide to rectify this by talking for 40 minutes, except that, of course, since they hardly know each other, they're talking rubbish. And that's before you factor in advert breaks, which are unbearably tedious for children, and baths, whose interest palls after the thorough cleaning of two or three digits.

And ha! I haven't even got to school, which I genuinely, at 13, thought was designed, not for learning, but as some kind of preparation, some breakage of the spirit, for the appalling boringness that would later constitute the world of work.

I was totally wrong, of course, since school is way more boring than work will ever be. I was misled by the works of Martin Amis, specifically London Fields, which you should never read until you're old enough to know not to take people like Amis too literally. Its heroine, the only proper femme fatale of his oeuvre, is Nicola Six; she does an acting class at one point in which they're all asked to cry, and while all the other chicks are thinking of dead parents/pets, Nicola is thinking of seminal moments of boredom - lost plane tickets, administrative tedium ... she hates nothing more than to be bored. She can conjure tears out of hypothetical boredom, that's how much she hates it.

How cool, think I (13. Idiot!). That's what a real woman is, someone who can't, can't, can't stomach a moment's ennui. I hope I'm like that when I grow up. And lo, I'm not like that at all. I love being bored. I can stay in a bath until my fingers look like toes. I've stared out of my window for so long, on occasion, that I've seen every member of a six-strong household set off for work, and one of them had already come back by the time the last one left, though maybe she'd just been to the Spar. I've made some of the major discoveries of my life while bored: how long you can chew any given nail, before you make your finger bleed; the best possible angle to position a millet pillow (my mature advice is, never buy a millet pillow. Or anything else made of millet. I don't think you can eat it, either).

I've read instruction manuals to items I don't even own, just because it was the nearest reading matter to hand, and I couldn't be fussed with moving. I would say categorically that, yes, it is emotional recuperation. Often, after a period of solid and unbroken staring, I feel my emotional batteries have really been recharged, and I wouldn't put it past myself to have the most florid tantrum later that evening.

And yes, Dr Ralley is quite right - the staring is never so good that I think, "I'd like to sit and stare for the rest of my life". It's always got a sting in its tail, catatonia.

What I would say, though, is that boredom is like olives, or antiques, or green vegetables, or black-and-white films. Children might get force-fed with boredom just in the run of things, and it might actively be good for children, but only adults will really appreciate it. Only adults realise what a valuable place it is, this emotional state of not actually being asleep that is to all intents and purposes, being asleep. Only adults realise that the 70s chant "Why don't you just switch off the television set and go out and do something less boring instead?" was actually meant ironically (like, why on earth would you?). Expecting a child to understand is like expecting it to have a mature and thorough grasp of Freud, or agricultural policy. Though possibly, the more bored you make your children, the quicker they will pick this stuff up.

Start today; respond to their every request by just staring. In 10 or 15 years, you might see some fractionally diverting results.

all the time in the world

This is what happens, when instead of sorting out last month's accounts, you lurk around blogs of acquaintances. You learn about Rube Goldberg and how it relates to some of your fave movies.

Apparently, Amelie [and A Very Long Engagement, by the same director, which I've yet to watch even though someone very recently highly recommended it] expand on the idea of Rube Goldberg, moving from the physiological to the metaphysical. As noted by Philadelphia City Paper's Sam Wood, fate itself operates as a Rube Goldberg device, "an endless chain of tricky coincidences whose final result is utterly beyond prediction".

What the heck is a Rube Goldberg device, you ask? Check this out. Brings to mind those nifty but useless contraptions in Wallace And Gromit.

Next up on Zann's Useless Trivia: MacGuffin.

hen night, chicken dance

You know it's a good party when...

... you get back at 6am and instead of going to bed after showering, you decide to laugh at and upload the photos.
... the organiser is Lisa, the party organiser extraordinaire.
... the venue is known as the Minister's Suite and the guest of honour can simply be called the GOH.
... it starts with high tea and ends with supper at dawn.
... there are manicures and massages, food and champagne, music and dancing.
... there are no photos of the best bits, which involve the GOH crawling away from a male stripper.
... even Kumar is left speechless by the GOH's incredible booty gyrations.

Wednesday, April 12

Can two "just friends" still call each other "baby"?

Just felt like posting this.

Harry: Would you like to have dinner?... Just friends.
Sally: I thought you didn't believe men and women could be friends.
Harry: When did I say that?
Sally: On the ride to New York.
Harry: No, no, no, I never said that... Yes, that's right, they can't be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can... This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted... That doesn't work either, because what happens then is, the person you're involved with can't understand why you need to be friends with the person you're just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say "No, no, no it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship," the person you're involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you're just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let's face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can't be friends

Saturday, April 8

yes, no, maybe

Can two people who have the hots for each other go on a purely platonic "date"?

Can two people who want to play hooky watch a movie together without hanky panky?

Can two people who have flirted outrageously become... just friends?

[Sidetrack: We were helping an ang moh woman who had a toppled shopping trolley lug her bags of groceries home and she asked, "Are you guys married?" I raised my eyebrow at him and he raised his back at me, before he answered, "We're... just friends."]

Can two friends sleep together and still love each other in the morning?

Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally: Why not?
Harrys: What I'm saying is -- and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form -- is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: You only think you do.
Sally: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: How do you know?
Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry: I guess not.
Sally: That's too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.

Sorry, but you will have to make do with Harry and Sally's conversation.

Thursday, April 6

wet wet wet

On my first day of not having to go to work as a part-timer, I woke up deliciously late, julianned too much cucumber and carrots for a cold noodle brunch, cackled over Nancy Lam on TV, dozed through a taped episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and woke up to find dogs and cats pouring down.

So instead of going for dressmaking class, I wound up standing in my backyard, facing the sky, not caring if the neighbours saw me in my skimpy tank and shorts, getting drenched on purpose, until I was shivering.

I didn't know what I'd hoped to accomplish, but whatever it was, it didn't work. I felt exactly the same as before I got soaking wet.

Tuesday, April 4


For weeks, the phrase had been on the tip of my tongue, but I just couldn't spit it out. It lingered and tingled and bugged me like the beginnings of a bad sore throat, until suddenly, with a harrumph, I got the phlegm out.

The phrase I was looking for was "instant gratification". And that sums up me, with my lack of foresight and planning, my haphazard bumbling through life, my severe inability to see further than three months max down the road, my shortsightedness about money, my recklessness about love, my addiction to the instantaneous replies of SMS, my love of instant noodles and microwavable food.

I feel slightly better, having having purged the phlegm, even though it doesn't change a thing. I still want it all and I want it now, consequences be damned.