Saturday, July 29

there's still room

The search for a housemate to rent the third room at my place is still on.

So far, people interested include:
-- a Filipino insurance exec [she's the one who bailed on us two days before moving in cos her boyfriend proposed to her and they're moving to Hong Kong]
-- a Thai doctor [a friend recommended her, but she's been too busy to come see the place]
-- a Malaysian salesman [he sends SMSs with everything spelt out and perfect grammar and all]
-- a Korean travel agent [she hardly said a word, my friend who brought her did all the talking]
-- a Chinese engineer [he looks decent enough, ie. not the tikopek type of Chinaman]
-- a French chef [as in he is from France and he cooks for a French restaurant down the road]
-- a Singaporean journalist [this is our first choice cos she lurves cats]

I've shown the house so many times now, I've got the spiel down pat. "There are two bathroooms, but we usually use the one upstairs, there is a washing machine and dryer, there is fan and aircon, the room is a good size and faces the backyard, so it's quiet..."

If you know of anyone looking for a room, email me. I'm tired of acting like a property agent.

Friday, July 28

luckier tan

For those who miss him, here's Lucky Tan's new home.

But he is a poor substitute for my fave horse, Rockson.

lights, camera, inaction

Channel U is filming a segment of some fashion/beauty show at our place today. So it was up at the crack of dawn -- ok ok, it was 8am, but that's too early for an off day! -- to vacuum the carpet of cat hair off the sofa and prepare for the crew's arrival.

They are out for lunch now, so I can take a break from sitting quietly and doing nothing. I'm bored outta my brains, need a nap dreadfully, and can't wait for them to be gone, though I know I should be grateful for the free publicity.

The programme is on 21 August on Channel U and is called Follow Your Dreams, whatever that means.

Tuesday, July 25

open the box

I'd read about it but didn't believe the hype, until sweet Jess blogged about the miracle of Pandora. Yeah, I know, like, duh, who doesn't know about Pandora, duh. And my playlists are, you know, so embarrasingly so not with it, but, okay, whatever.

Just key in any song or artist you love and it will create an entire radio station for you based on that.

I was plugged in all day at work. It made my day. It will make yours, too.

waxing lyrical

Check out whitedogbobby for more such adorable and subversive stuff. I bought the Flicker candelabra -- "Wind Proof Flame. Curtain Friendly" -- at the Maad flea market on Sunday.

Swirl will be at the flea market this coming Sunday. Please come support support!

Venue: Red Dot Museum, Maxwell Road [You can't miss it, the building is fire-engine red!]
Date: 30 July
Time: 11am to 7pm

Friday, July 21

don't fudge a book by its cover

From The Observer Blog:

Ridiculous as it may sound, publishing's latest obsession is the repackaging of classics.

You might have thought that there would not be much mileage in giving poor old Dickens and Eliot whizzy new covers and panting new jacket blurbs but, if so, you'd be wrong, fulminates Rachel Cooke.

Publishers think this stuff makes a difference and they have the sales figures to prove it. 'We find that when we publish multiple editions of the same title, they always work,' Adam Freudenheim, the publisher of Penguin Classics told The Bookseller recently. 'You end up reaching more readers by a different format, a different look.'

This year has brought us two new editions of Jane Austen - one from Penguin Red Classics, and one from Headline. Both look pretty awful, if you ask me - Georgette Heyer meets Jane Green is the best description I can come up with. Likewise with Bronte's Wuthering Heights or Nabokov's Lolita: have a look yourself.

The publishers would say that I am simply being snobbish. Their watchword is 'relevant'; they don't want to 'intimidate' readers; a great story is a great story - full stop.

Why, I wonder, must everything be made to seem so easy?

Jane Austen isn't a writer of mere romances; she's far more complex - and savage - than that. In this week's arts column, I'm asking if this isn't just a kind of cynicism on the part of publishers: are they duping people into buying books that, once they've opened, they will find unpalatable, even unreadable?

Or is anything at all that increases sales of classic novels something for which we should give grateful thanks? Are there less well-known classic novels that you think could actually benefit from a marketing push for today's readers or should we leave well alone?

How many times have I bought a book solely for its cover?


... is a sign of a troubled mind.

What does it say, then, that I've hoarded these photos of the stuff I hoarded in my old room at Gillman and only uncovered them now?

Monday, July 17


The strange death of modern advertising
By Maurice Saatchi
June 21, 2006, Financial Times

Sometimes I feel as though I am standing at the graveside of a well-loved friend called advertising.

The funeral rites have been observed. The gravediggers have done their work. The mourners are assembled. Most of them are embarrassed to say they ever knew the deceased. “Advertising?” they say, “I’m not in that business.”

At the age of only 50, advertising was cut down in its prime. Advertising holding companies used to boast about their share of the advertising market. Now they are proud of how much of their business is not in advertising. How did this happen?

The first stage in the illness, they said, was sociology – the family no longer gathered to watch television. So they said, the 30-second commercial was finished.

The next symptom was technology – because, they said, even if family members were all in the same house, they would not all be watching the same screen. Laptops, mobile phones, iPods, games – all brought more media fragmentation, more channels, more choice, more complication.

Now, the diagnosis is that it is all in the mind – it is all a question of psychology.

Today, social scientists divide the world between digital natives and digital immigrants. Anyone over 25 is a digital immigrant. He or she has had to learn the digital language. The digital native learnt it like you learnt your mother tongue, effortlessly as you grew up. The digital immigrant struggles and forever has a thick, debilitating accent.

The latest affliction, according to neuroscience – and this was the death knell – is that the digital native’s brain is physically different as a result of the digital input it received growing up. It has rewired itself. It responds faster. It sifts out. It recalls less.

This, apparently, is what makes it possible for a modern teenager, in the 30 seconds of a normal television commercial, to take a telephone call, send a text, receive a photograph, play a game, download a music track, read a magazine and watch commercials at x6 speed. They call it “CPA”: continuous partial attention. The result: day-after recall scores for television advertisements have collapsed, from 35 per cent in the 1960s to 10 per cent today.

So, they say, sociology, technology and psychology have put advertising in its box. If you are in advertising, you are about to be buried. What to do? There is only one option left: to pray.

Conveniently, a Bible has been placed beside you in the box. Because you are a God-fearing person, you open it. Through divine good fortune, it falls open at the exact right page to show you your escape route.

You find the way out in the gospel of St John:
In the beginning was the Word . . .
You read on:
. . . and the Word was God.

No copywriter could put it better. The word is the brand’s guide, protector, defender and saviour.

The word comes first and it is singular – one word, not several words. For a brand, the word comes before all actions, in all media, at all times.

Two words is not God. It is two gods, and two gods are one too many.

The word is the saviour because in each category of global business, it will only be possible for one brand to own one particular word. And some of them have already been booked.

Each brand can only own one word. Each word can only be owned by one brand. Take great care before you pick your word. It is going to be the god of your brand.

Try this simple test on your own company’s products or services.

Pick a brand. Any brand.

Now, think of what you are trying to say. Can you precisely describe, in one word, the particular value, the characteristic, the emotion, you are trying to make your own?

If it runs to a sentence, you have a problem. A paragraph? Sell your shares.

Why? Because nowadays only brutally simple ideas get through. They travel lighter, they travel faster.

What I am describing here is a new business model for marketing, appropriate to the digital age. In this model, companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind.

This is “one word equity”.

In this new business model, companies seek to build one word equity – to define the one characteristic they most want instantly associated with their brand around the world, and then own it. That is one-word equity.

It is the modern equivalent of the best location in the high street, except the location is in the mind.

For example, the word “search” is now owned by Google. For 20 years, “favourite” was owned by British Airways. Sony used to own “innovation”, but that word has probably now been taken by Apple. Royal Bank of Scotland, in its US marketing, will soon own “action”. The same applies to political parties or countries – Britain’s Labour party won three elections with the word “new”. America’s one-word equity is “freedom”.

The challenge is to find the word, the word that guides everywhere. And once it is found, never to forsake it. How do you find that word? There are 750,000 words in the English language. How do you know which is the right one? It is difficult.

To reduce the complex to the simple without being simplistic requires, in the words of Bertrand Russell, the painful necessity of thought.

The pain comes from the ruthless paring down of the paragraph to the sentence and the sentence down to the word. One-word equity is the most priceless asset in the new world of the new technologies. Discover it and you have the route to salvation and eternal life.

So says the advertising mogul who is the executive director of M&C Saatchi. I feel reassured that Swirl is just one word.

Friday, July 14

tupperware party

I chanced upon a Tupperware outlet on my way to run my elf errands at Arab Street. And the friendly promoter auntie -- who probably earns more than me with the MLM scheme she was trying to recruit me for -- is going to get my 20-year-old container replaced.

They weren't kidding about that lifetime guarantee.

My current objects of desire are this salad spinner and this sleek microwave-able set. Mmmm...

Thursday, July 13

on a grey sunday afternoon

He1 gave me his car, grudgingly. Or rather, I nicked it while he was puffing on a cigar. When he found out, he said: "Okay, you can keep it to remind yourself not to message the idiot. Look at the car when you want to and remember my derisive scowl."

He2 gave my bangs a trim, grudgingly. Or rather, I grumbled about it poking my eyes all the time, while he looked pained and said: "Why do you keep wanting to cut your fringe?"

He3 gave me a call, grudgingly. Or rather, he texted me to apologise for the way he behaved the night before and I looked at the car and conjured up a derisive scowl. When he couldn't take the silence, he called: "Are you okay?" I told him to forget it forget it forget it-- although I'm not sure what "it" was.

1: He who calls me "xiao mei"
2: He who is the hair nazi
3: He who must not be named

P.S. He1, he2 and he3 are three seperate people. Sorry for the confusion.

Tuesday, July 11

my first chinese post





Friday, July 7

private jokes

Gumption, I shot this on the day I saw the one on your blog, cos I happened to be wearing my Drew Barrymore tee too. Would Outstanding be proud of this mirror image? Or at least proud of my pun? Mirror image, geddit geddit?

Strict house rules apply in the Gumption & Outstanding abode, including no shoes beyond the doormat and no outside clothes on the bed [sorta reminds me of those "no outside food allowed" signs]. But I graciously allowed Outstanding to roll all over my bed, since he was leaving the next day.

I miss Gumption & Outstanding!

Thursday, July 6

and then some

I'm somewhat upset over someone and something.

But since I'm not gonna blog about someone -- What else is there to say that hasn't already been said? This game is getting old -- I'll blog about something instead.

One of the covers of my mother's beloved retro Tupperware got warped in the microwave. Look at it, all outta shape. It'll never fit ever again and my set of four will be incomplete forever. And this is something, as my mother would say, "Got money also cannot buy". Goodbye, yellow cover, you have a lived a useful airtight life for more than 20 years.

I know I need to get over it, but it's just something I can't let go. Ditto the someone.

Tuesday, July 4


I'm afraid sometimes
you'll play lonely games too,
games you can't win
because you'll play against you

~ Dr Seuss

Saturday, July 1

taste test

Do you remember the first time you ate...

... sundried tomatoes? As the intense flavour exploded, I thought, "So this is what all the fuss is about."

... Mentos? I was about five, and my aunt gave me what I thought was a perfect, smooth pebble. I played with it for a long time, rolling it on the ground, before she said it was a sweet. Then I popped it into my mouth. Anyway, the singular of Mentos is Mento?

... couscous? It was a Middle-Eastern-Mediterranean restaurant in north London, sourced from TimeOut.

... seaweed? Primary school tuckshop, recess time. My nemesis forced me to eat a sliver, not expecting me to love it.

... strawberries? I'm not sure if it was my first taste of it, but I have most vivid memories of plucking the sweetest, freshest, plumbest berries on a farm in Perth.

... Krispy Kreme? Before I'd even finished my first original glazed, I was pleading, "Can I have another one?"

... a bagel? Brick Lane's 24-hour bagel shop with its 24-hour queue. With or without the salt beef, equally yummy.

... pig's brain? I only had the teeniest nibble and wanted to puke, even though it tasted like tofu.