Wednesday, August 19

this & that

Big Pooh and Little Pohh in da 'hood.

A playground with real sand. None of that primary-coloured foam crap.

The swing is my second favourite, after the merry-go-round, which I'm still on a quest to track down.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not very patriotic. But this is a nice display by my neighbour.

And who can resist bunting, nationalistic or not, fluttering in the wind?

Doggie at his favourite park. Actually, I'm not sure he really likes it there -- there are no other dogs for him to hump -- but it's the nearest one within walking distance.

Trying to finish up the roll of film before our first dance class. Even though I was so nervous I had a tummy ache before the class, I'm a bit sad now that it's all over.

choo choo

We went to the train station, but you probably can't tell from these photos which do not contain any trains. (Don't ask me what happened to this shot. I like that the film accident made it look sufficiently vintage.)

It felt like we were in Malaysia. Which we were, technically. (We could use S$ though.)

We got shouted at, rather rudely, for going onto the platform.

We truly didn't see the "No entry" sign.

No one could miss the rainbow sign though. The supposedly good Malay food there was only so-so, save for the Ramly burger which was excellent.

We ended wandering around the lane at the back.

This grill is all kinds of awesome.

I'm bad at taking photos of people. Real bad. Mostly because I'm not a people person.

This Malay dude obligingly struck a Vogue pose for me. I didn't catch it.

I cross processed this roll, but I'm really not feeling it. Everything looks so greenish.

My fellow photographers on this field trip took more snaps of a particularly lazy immobile cat than of trains.

Tuesday, August 18

snail mail

Like Griffin And Sabine, only better, because it is real.

Which reminds me, I still owe someone a typewritten letter.

Monday, August 10

weekend detox

Taking the chance to detox over the so-called long weekend (just a usual weekend for me as I am back to work on Monday), especially since my mother is away in KL with my neighbour, her new BFF.

Saturday: Breakfast
Freshly-squeezed orange juice
One apple
Handful of cherry tomatoes

Saturday: Lunch
Baby spinach salad with shaved parmesan and pine nuts
Power berry juice (includes cranberries, blueberries, acai berries and other berries I can't recall)

Saturday: Dinner
Tomato, egg and tofu dish, an inferior take on the recipe from Eating Asia which had inspired me
Potato, carrot and chicken soup (I didn't eat the chicken but saved it to make a casserole for Monday)

Sunday: Breakfast (above pix)
Power berry juice
Two golden kiwis
Handful of raspberries

Sunday: Lunch
Leftover tomato dish and soup (I overcooked!) from dinner the night before

Sunday: Dinner
Baby spinach salad
Leftover soup
Small portion of chicken casserole (supposed to be for lunch the next day, but I couldn't resist)

Sunday, August 9

i heart sg

"NDPs are depressing. They remind me of everything that is orchestrated, superficial, rehearsed, practiced, and devised from top-down in Singapore. They are artificial cauldrons of whipped up frenzy and heightened emotions where quick spasms of ecstasy are mistaken for patriotism."
~ From groundnotes

Been meaning to post this for some time, and today is the perfect day.

I've always hated the National Day Parade -- different from National Day -- even though I have been to countless ones in my childhood because my dad was in the Army. In my youth, I even took part in three.

In Secondary One or Two, I was in the choir. I recall that I was under an overhead mike on the actual day, after months of rehearsals, and purposely, gleefully, sang out of tune for the mike to pick up my screeching. Which it did.

In Secondary Three or Four, I was in the marching contingent of the Girls' Brigade. I remember trying very hard not to faint and not knowing what was going on during the entire parade. Once we marched in, we just stood still and could not see a thing. Once we marched out, we were fed cold KFC and could only hear what was going on inside the stadium.

In university, I forgot the lesson learnt in my youth and joined the marching contingent for NTU for the sake of a few meagre ECA points (to continue staying in the hostel). At least when I was in the Girls' Brigade, we had a smart costume uniform. The NTU contingent wore baggy track pants and polo tees. There was also no chance to see the displays in the stadium. Stone cold KFC was probably involved too.

Not only do I have bad memories, I also do not like having my emotions manipulated, which is why, in the 14 years since, I have not been to a parade or even watched one on TV. And I intend to keep it that way.

P.S. Not that it is at all significant, but this is my 999th blog post. Who would have thought I had so much rubbish to utter?

Friday, August 7


"Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop."
~ Ansel Adams

Obviously, I am not Ansel Adams, so I've picked 10 per cent of my photos from Project 365 as my "good crop".

1. bare naked ladies, 2. near extinction, 3. plastic fantastic, 4. going into the light, 5. doubleness, 6. merrily, merrily, merrily, 7. bon voyage, 8. straight & narrow, 9. plane blue, 10. power outage, 11. 看海的日子, 12. flamingo face-off, 13. crossed lines, 14. having a ball, 15. morning prayer, 16. pin cushions of the sea, 17. get fresh, 18. helter skelter, 19. no bikes allowed, 20. feet up take a break, 21. lost my marbles, 22. eeyore, 23. a piece of the sky, 24. bonus moon, 25. old news part 5, 26. back space, 27. high & dry, 28. sit, randolph, sit, 29. pink on pink, 30. laundry day, 31. don't fly off yet!, 32. 75A, 33. doggone it, 34. lace, 35. lotus position, 36. skylight

#16 & #19

I was going to string fairy lights -- from trusty Chatuchak, of course, for like $15 for 10 feet of lights -- over my bed, but I then developed a fear of them falling onto me and strangling me while I was asleep or bursting into flames and then causing my quilt to catch fire. All morbid thoughts, not fitting with such whimsical twinkly lights.

So I decided to drape them all over my mannequin, Jaime, who needed a new outfit anyway.

Talk about two birds with one stone, huh.

the definition of random

Out of the 35 shots from the latest roll, only these I like. For some reason, they were uniformly over-exposed and a lot of shots were not in focus. Not sure I can blame it all on the new processing place I used. Sad face.

Thai street food, from the lupsup weekend in Bangkok last month. Sorry, I can't tell you much because I have to toe the party line: "What happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok."

Hot, sweaty and tired in Chatuchak, where I took very few photos.

I like repetition (see photos above). I like repetition (see photos above). I like repetition (see photos above). Sorry, I had to do it.

Hot, sweaty and tired in Haw Par Villa. See a pattern here?

The pagoda of my childhood. Must dig up that old photo of me looking teary in front of it because my hair ribbon had fallen into the moat around it.

Tuesday, August 4

the pursuit of happiness

This piece from the NYT blog is so good and true, I just had to repost it here in full in case you don't click on the link.

Averted Vision
By Tim Kreider

In 1996 I rode the circus train to Mexico City where I lived for a month, pretending to be someone’s husband. (Don’t even ask.) I remember my time there as we remember most of our travels — vivid and thrilling, everything new and strange. My ex-fake-wife Carolyn and I often reminisce nostalgically about our honeymoon there: ordering un balde hielo from room service to cool our Coronas every afternoon, the black-velvet painting of the devil on the toilet that she made me buy, our shared hilarious terror of kidnapping and murder, the giant pork rind I wrangled through customs. Which is funny, since, if I think back honestly, while I was actually there I did not feel “happy.” In fact, as mi esposa did not hesitate to point out to me at the time, I griped incessantly about the noise and stink of the city — the car horns playing shrill, uptempo versions of the theme from “The Godfather” or “La Cucaracha” every second, the noxious mix of diesel fumes and urine, the air so filthy we’d been there a week before I learned we had a view of the mountains.

I was similarly miserable throughout the happiest summer I ever spent in New York City. I was recovering from an affair that had ended badly, and during my convalescence I was subletting a cool, airy apartment a block from Tompkins Square Park, with a kitchen window that looked out on a community garden. A theater troupe was rehearsing a production of “The Tempest” out there, and I got used to the warped rattling crash of sheet-metal thunder in the evenings. I happened to catch “The Passion of St. Joan of Arc” on cable for the first time late one night, a film I knew nothing about — it was grotesque and beautiful, astonishing. One of the happiest memories of my life is of sitting on top of the little knoll in the park with my friend Ellen, eating a sweet Hawaiian pizza and waiting to see what movie would play on the outdoor screen that was being inflated in front of us. (It turned out to be “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”) Even though this whole time I was preoccupied with thoughts of the woman I’d lost and torturing myself with jealousy and insane fantasies of vengeance, in retrospect it’s obvious now that the main thing I was doing that summer was falling in love.

I wonder, sometimes, whether it is a perversity peculiar to my own mind or just the common lot of humanity to experience happiness mainly in retrospect. I have of course considered the theory that I am an idiot who fails to appreciate anything when he actually has it and only loves what he’s lost. Or perhaps this is all just what Michael Chabon called “the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past.” But I think I recall that summer with such clarity and affection for much the same reason that I remember my month in Mexico City so fondly. The fresh heartbreak was, in a sense, like being in a foreign country; everything seemed alien, brilliant and glinting. It was as if I’d been flayed, so that even the air hurt. When you’re that unhappy, any glimmer of beauty or consolation feels like running into an old friend abroad, or seeing mountaintops through smog. Maybe we mistakenly think we want “happiness,” which we tend to picture in very vague, soft-focus terms, when what we really crave is the harder-edged intensity of experience.

We do each have a handful of those moments, the ones we only take out to treasure rarely, like jewels, when we looked up from our lives and realized: “I’m happy.” One of the last times this happened to me, inexplicably, I was driving on Maryland’s unsublime Route 40 with the window down, looking at a peeling Burger King billboard while Van Halen played on the radio. But this kind of intense and present happiness is heartbreakingly ephemeral; as soon as you notice it you dispel it, like blocking yourself from remembering a word by trying too hard to retrieve it. And our attempts to contrive this feeling through any kind of replicable method — with drinking or drugs or sexual seduction, buying new stuff, listening to the same old songs that reliably give us shivers — never quite recapture the spontaneous, profligate joy of the real thing. In other words be advised that Burger King billboards and Van Halen are not a sure-fire combination, any more than are scotch and cigars.

I didn’t always enjoy being a cartoonist. During the 12 years of my career, if I can call it that, I bored my friends and colleagues by complaining bitterly about the insulting pay, the lack of recognition, the short half-life of political cartoons as art. And yet, if I’m allowed any final accounting of my days, I may find, to my surprise, that I reckon those Fridays when I woke up without an idea in my head and only started drawing around noon, calling friends at work for emergency humor consultations, doing frantic Google image searches for “Scott McClellan” or “chacmool,” eating whatever crud was in the fridge, laughing out loud at my own jokes, and somehow ended up getting a finished cartoon in by deadline, feeling like an evil genius, to have been among my best.

But during the time I was actually focused on drawing — whipping out a perfect line, spontaneous but precise, or gauging the exact cant of an eyelid to evoke an expression, or immersed in the microscopic universe of cross-hatching — I wasn’t conscious of feeling “happy,” or of feeling anything at all. I was in the closest approximation to happiness that we can consistently achieve by any kind of deliberate effort: the condition of absorption. My senses were so integrated that, on those occasions when I had to re-draw something entirely, I often found that I would spontaneously recall the same measure of music or line of dialog I’d been listening to when I’d drawn it the first time; the memory had become inextricably encoded in the line. It is this state that rock-climbers and pinball players and libertines are all seeking: an absorption in the immediate so intense and complete that the idiot chatter of your brain shuts up for once and you temporarily lose yourself, to your relief.

I suspect there is something inherently misguided and self-defeating and hopeless about any deliberate campaign to achieve happiness. Perhaps the reason we so often experience happiness only in hindsight, and that chasing it is such a fool’s errand, is that happiness isn’t a goal in itself but is only an aftereffect. It’s the consequence of having lived in the way that we’re supposed to — by which I don’t mean ethically correctly so much as just consciously, fully engaged in the business of living. In this respect it resembles averted vision, a phenomena familiar to backyard astronomers whereby, in order to pick out a very faint star, you have to let your gaze drift casually to the space just next to it; if you look directly at it, it vanishes. And it’s also true, come to think of it, that the only stars we ever see are not the “real” stars, those cataclysms taking place in the present, but always only the light of the untouchable past.

Saturday, August 1

so corny

"Normal-sized cornflake, meet the largest cornflake in the world."