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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

No time for the mediocre

I'm reading Harold Bloom's How to Read and Why, among other things.

In Amazon.com's review, the writer explains Bloom's sense of urgency as a result of his old age and therefore has no time for the mediocre.

I am 31.

Last week, at the Esplanade library, I picked up Laws of Attraction, apparently a romantic comedy starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore.

I was deciding between that and Hou Hsiao Hsien's Good Men, Good Women.

You could have told me this, but I ended up wasting 90 minutes of my life watching the very poor Hollywood comedy.

Maybe it's just me. But whenever I see a new book/DVD in the library, especially a fresh virginal one, I tend to just want to grab it. Devour it. Smell it.

Do you smell that? It's a new book, son. Nothing else on the world smells like that. I love the smell of new books in the morning.

To plagiarise Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now.

Thanks to my nose, I end up reading and watching contemporary work that is as soulful as the new Supreme Court Building.

I have less patience for bad food though.

Last night, I was at Pizza Taglio. I understand the name and its facade will undergo a revamp, with BreadTalk buying their way in.

Let's hope their food and eccentric service will go away forever and never come back.

There's been too many bad experiences lately with food. Drinks even.

What about people?

Don't ask.

Thank God for books. And Milou.

Monday, August 29, 2005

two items sold at Blush!

Name ANY two items sold at Blush!

I'm taking part in a Discovery Channel contest.

I'm into contests nowadays.

I'm into winning all my life.

I'm disappointed most times.

Anyhow, I was embarrassed to put in bra and panties. They might appreciate something more technical.

So I Googled "Blush Singapore".

The first hit I got was:

Welcome to Jurong Birdpark, Singapore Bridal Fair - A Touch of Blush -The first time u kissed, your cheeks failed to... Visit Singapore Zoo website · Visit Singapore's Night Safari website ...www.birdpark.com.sg/Main/ - 24k - Cached - Similar pages

Somehow, it seems related but I'm not sure how.

So, Blush does not have a web presence.

I put in sleepwear and panties instead.

And blushed like hell.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Life and Times of Michael K

''Let me tell you the meaning of the sacred and alluring garden that blooms in the heart of the desert and produces the food of life. The garden for which you are presently heading is nowhere and everywhere except in the camps. It is another name for the only place where you belong, Michaels, where you do not feel homeless. It is off every map, no road leads to it that is merely a road, and only you know the way.''

"I have become an object of charity, he thought. Everywhere I go there are people waiting to exercise their forms of charity on me. All these years , and still I carry the look of an orphan. ...They want me to open my heart and tell them the story of a life lived in cages. They want to hear about all the cages I have lived in, as if I wre a budgie or a whilte mouse or a monkey.... When my story was finished, people would have shaken their heads and been sorry and angry and plied me with food and drink; women would have taken me into their beds and mothered me in the dark. Whereas the truth is that I have been a gardener, first for the Council, later for myself, and gardners spend their time with their noses to the ground...."

"It excited him, he found, to say recklessly, the truth, the truth about me. 'I am a gardener,'..."

200th post

As I understand from Blogger, this is my 200th post.

For this special occasion, I will encourage myself to write simply.

And to write well.

I am not there yet. But I will get there if I work hard and think straight.

As a gift to you, I like to introduce the BBC News style guide. It is full of good advice and juicy details (e.g. the difference between an embassy and a High Commission).

I thank you for reading and your interest in my life.

Milou sends his greetings.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Educating Milou

Milou is a dog.

As such, he does not speak. Neither does he understand what we say.

Except for "No" and "Sit" (so far).

But my mother has high hopes.

She speaks to Milou everyday in a smatter of English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Not just a few words but more like a long monologue.

She evens appeals to Milou's rationale.

Just now, television was on - Animal Planet. Mother played with Milou. Strange jungle sounds came from the television. Milou startled.

Mother: (in Cantonese) You see, it's a bad bad world outside. So, you must behave yourself. (in English) Good boy, no biting.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Burmese TV

Great news for Burmese friends here.

If you have seen Burmese television before, you know how depressing it is.

Especially the news.

In a heavily controlled media environment, the newscasters read directly from a script in front of them. They are not allowed to ad lib and nothing must be added to the script.

It's funny how when you're traveling, you switch on the television to somehow counter the loneliness.

In Burma, you will rather switch off the television cos it can be really depressing to watch the news or the really cheesy music videos.

Then again, the hotel I was at (Summit Parkview) was showing the VideoFashion channel.

Naked boobs and all.

You can argue that Burma has a more liberal media environment than Singapore.

By the way, I love a hotel with table tennis facilities. In Burma, the Sedona has a great room with mirrors.

Monday, August 22, 2005


This is one of those games that makes you want to buy the Nintendo DS.

According to an article in Wikipedia,

"The game has been well received by critics, and in the May 2005 edition of the notoriously unforgiving Famitsu magazine, Nintendogs received a perfect 40/40 score. Only four other games have attained this score"

And yes, they have a King Charles Cavalier version.

Day 33

I'm slowly getting the hang of it.

Milou is too clever for its crate. Actually, he is too clever for me.

On several occasions, I reach home, only to find him out of his topless crate and happily running around, messing things up.

So for a while, I put him under my table, so as to prevent him from jumping out. Soon enough, he has learnt to push the crate so that he can jump out of the opening created.

So I had to try something else.

My mom reached home one day from her Buddhist retreat and called me and asked me why I put poor Milou under the table and a chair with 16 kg weights in front of the crate.

Before I could answer, Milou - the strongest dog in the world, managed to push the 16 kg weighted chair away and jumped out of the crate.

He ran out of the room.

That was what my mother screamed into the phone, with amazement, wonder and some humor.

Welcome back to the real world Ma.

Now we leave Milou in the crate, but he's leashed to a table leg next to it.

Last Saturday, I left Milou alone for 2 hours. Later, my mom told me that she came home to find Milou out of the crate. He was sitting on a chair next to the crate, looking really comfortable. He didn't even bother to get up when my mom came home.

Next up - I'm going to have to dog-proof the kitchen so that Milou can stay safe and have some space when we have to leave him alone for a longer period of time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Care Bears

I have a crazy friend who is crazy about the illuminati.

Actually, he's pretty smart.

So how can a smart person be so overwhelmingly consumed by this?

It's a conspiracy.

My theory:

Smart people are smart because they are curious. They have an insatiable intellectual hunger for answers and they are always seeking, asking, probing and irritating what were once their friends.

They have a brain full of intellectual energy that needs to be directed, distributed and drained off. (I feel like that sometimes but we're talking about the wrong organ.)

So smart people here in our land, in order to get rid of all these excess energy, either join the civil sector where they pour themselves into the abyss of bureaucractic meanderings or get rich and jump into the hee-haw bandwagon of consumer spending.

Of course, smart people all over God's green earth do that. But they do have a third option.


They can demonstrate, remonstrate, protest, stand for presidency, criticise and make political films.

Of course, we can do all these here. (Even making political films which is really against the Films Act, but nobody in the world really knows the defintion of "political" since its so ambiguously stated in the LAW) . Then again, I'm sure people are looking for more encouraging examples other than those imprisoned, sued for libel, made bankrupt and the maligned.

So then, I don't blame my friend for using the illuminati as an outlet for his intellectual frustrations.

Incidentally, for security reasons, we call the illuminati "care bears" as a kind of code between us. Come to think of it, it's highly appropriate.

The care bears are a safer enemy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bloody disappointing

I took part in the 100 word epic challenge.

Winners were just announced and I'm most disappointed.

Not that I didn't win. Mine was pretentious and weak but really the winning entries were terrible too.

At least, I read better entries. And they didn't win. Nor were they popular.

I hate this American-Idol style of voting. The undeserving always win.

Ok, maybe not Taufik.

My monstrous myths

She asks first.
Google can disappoint.
Karaoke speaks truth.
Her cat dances.
Better than him.
Her bouncing belly.
His bleeding heart.
The wallet vanishes.
Goodbye online redemption.
Hello Faye Wong.
A fair maiden.

He stays home.
Rising love pills.
Moveable feast’s leftovers.
Yesterday’s resurrected wheels.
Mischievous modern art.
Hollow and howling
His dog unfed.
Puppy no more.
Puberty is cruel.
Behold mummy comes.
All is well.

The steely oceans
Mirror synthetic skies.
All my dreams
Width and breadth
Length and depth
Shifting growing proportionately
Games won today
Are memorised and recycled.
Desire is infinite.
Finite is love.

My monstrous myths.

Lunch Time

Every lunch time, I see the cleaning ladies congregate to have lunch.

I recognize 2 two of them although they change into their civis for lunch.

I keep wondering why they have to do that. For hygience purposes? Or is their pride responsible?

Anyway, I'm proud that like them, I eat at the cheapest food stall in the Suntec area. It's the food court next to the Rock Auditorium. A plate of chap chye rice costs $2.80 and so far that's the cheapest decent meal I know.

They don't call it economic rice for nothing.

Since having Milou, I've been eating there.

On bad days, it's $2.50 for 3 vegetable dishes and no meat.

Shoot the Dog

On my good days, I think I'm funny.

Must have got it from Mum.

This morning, I told her to bring Milou to the market for a walk.

Now, Milou doesn't have a dog collar since I don't have a cheque book to pay the AVA $14.

$70 for a bitch.

So my mom refused, saying that if Milou goes out, he might be shot as an unlicensed dog.

Background- my cousin's unlicensed dog was fatally shot by the authorities in the law-abiding, shoot-first-ask-questions-later country known as Malaysia (blame it on the colonization mentality- remember the poor Brazilian man shot by the Brits).

Still, I can't imagine Milou, a small lovable puppy, taking a walk at the neighborhood market, being shot at.

Run, Milou, Run.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Eye of the Milou.

From a distance, he eyes his toy and without warning, pounces at it. Like a tiger would its prey.

I hope he doesn't think he's a cat.

Anyway, I think he enjoys it and really deep down inside, he's an animal.

At least, I'm glad he's playing with himself and having fun, apart from sleeping, shitting and eating.

2 Sundays ago, I played badminton after a long absence from the game and it felt really really good.

Last Sunday, I was over at the Settler's Cafe playing Giza and Pit. It was my 2nd time there but first time playing board games.

Settler's is a "board game lifestyle cafe". You pay a package fee ($30 for 4 persons for 2 hours). This includes 4 drinks, snacks and a choice from over 200 games.

Giza was fun although some of my friends were less enthusiastic. Pit was overwhelmingly enjoyed by everyone. I won the first round and it was awesome hitting people with The Hammer.

It's a sure sign that I need more fun in my life, which is most definitely lacking. I will have to learn from Milou who is really enthusiastic about playing and having fun.

But I'm definitely bored and frustrated. Perhaps its sexual. Like another single friend, who told me recently in a more subtle way - she's burning with passion.

Really, deep down inside, we're all animals.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Friendship remains and never can end.

If you take out your old autograph books, you will probably see it scribbled at least 200 times, the acronym FRANCE.

Wouldn't it be fun to hunt down these jokers who write these trivializing lies and give them a nice kick in the ass?

But I bet you don't even know where to look for those remains-and-never-can-end friends of yours.

Been thinking about friendship lately. It's a different thing to different people. I distinguish between friends, acquaintances, colleagues and lovers (imaginary and rarely real ones). I know others have more generous attitudes to friendship ("everybody is a friend", "if she wears a skirt, she's a friend", etc).

I count myself to have few friends and I'm supposedly proud of this. I have many acquaintances and of course, this is what I like to think.

In truth, I'm an island. Lost, mysterious and with treasure (although no one can find it).

I am a Mr. Independent with a fat ass.

Don't get me wrong- I owe my success to many people. That is for sure, although I wrestle hard coming to terms with my success or rather, the lack of it.

The Neighbor from Hell is not happy. Old friends who un-singled themselves are too busy to catch up. Of course, she needs only to wait for The Cold War / The Break Up / The Quarrel /The Misunderstanding before friends find themselves back in her arms (qualifier: girl-to-girl only and really effeminate males).

I think a very safe definition of a friend is:

Someone who sacrifices a big deal so as to serve your best interests.

Based on that, I think my parents are my only 2 friends in the world.

Of course, its hardly fair as I have not needed that much from someone else. So what this definition of friendship is most true and valid, it is not practical and entirely pleasant.

Here is a useful definition and valid till the 2nd coming:

Someone who knows you and inspires you on a personal level.

Which brings me to S(a)tan. A friend who inspires me to write, to live, to die without fuss but with words, with wit and with semantic agony.

Thanks for the friendship.

Dog Training?

I feel dirty, tired and very unpresentable.

I told my colleague over a cup of coffee.

She has 2 young kids and I guessed she understood how I feel.

I wash my hands 200 times a day.

I told my friends over an empty table at Mac's.

I'm reading books on dog training. But really it's all a scam. It's not about dog training, its about training humans.

Over the last month, I have been training to handle shit, poo, sleep less, wake up in the middle of the night, finish work with more urgency so I can be at home on time, clean the house, make better use of my time, be patient, be loving and be creative.

So far, I'm failing badly.

When it comes to disciplining a dog, there are many diverse views. Many people have encouraged me to discipline the dog with a rolled-up newspaper. One of my favorite quotes I learned is this:

"A rolled-up newspaper can be an effective training tool when used properly. For instance, use the rolled up newspaper if your dog chews something or has a housebreaking accident. Take the rolled up newspaper and hit yourself over and over again on the head and repeat to yourself the phrase "I FORGOT TO WATCH MY DOG" ... " I FORGOT TO WATCH MY DOG"... If your dog laughs at you when you do this, praise him."

Someone should start hitting me...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Kafka Was the Rage

Finished Kafka Was the Rage last week.

Love its prose. Here are some excerpts:

"When I came to know her better, I thought of her as a new disease"

"The sadness of the building was literature. I was twenty-six, and sadness was a stimulant, even an aphrodisiac"

"I had conceived of lovemaking as a sort of asking and answering of questions, but with us it only led to further questions, until we seemed to be locked in a philosophical debate. Instead of the proverbial sadness after sex, I felt something like a semantic despair"

"It seemed to me that a penis was a very primitive instrument for dealing with life"

"We become doctors to prevent death, lawyers to outlaw it, and writers to rage against it"

"The energy of unspent desire, of looking forward to sex, was an immense current running through American life. It was so much more powerful then because it was delayed, cumulative and surrounded by doubt."

"When a girl took off her underpants in 1947, she was more naked than any woman before her had ever been"

"Girls were trained to listen. They were waiting for history to give them permission to speak. They led waiting lives - waiting for men to ask them out, for them to have an orgasm, to marry or leave them. Their silence was another form of virginity"

Chuang Tzu

The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.
- When the Shoe Fits, Chuang Tzu

What more can you ask for when you're seated comfortably with great company and great poetry at The Coffee Connoisseur?

(Besides better food and better drinks?)

Anyway, Chuang Tzu got some things right. There is no right way, there is no easy way.

But the right way doesn't mean the right way, if you read the poem rightly. There is no right way to begin a thing. The right way is found at the very end - when the shoe fits. Only when the shoe fits, then we know its right. The foot has to go in. Right.

Don't you just love poetry?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


"The whole concept of 'the perfect meal' is ludicrous... I knew already that the best meal in the world, the perfect meal, is very rarely the most sophisticated or expensive one....Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life." -Anthony Bourdain

Was over at The Coffee Connoisseur with the Goat Man and Neighbor from Hell. I was complaining about the brainless music they were playing. You know those elevator types, fillers, music you can ignore kind of junk.

Which brings us to National Day songs.

The whole lot can go to hell, for all I care. Undemanding, brainless, shameless.

At least most of the time.

Like the Mafia Masterchef reminds us, it all depends on the context.

I found myself singing some of these songs when I'm overseas and extremely stressed up during drama shoots late at night.

I am undemanding, brainless, shameless.

If something like 9/11 happens here, I wonder which song they will sing. If they have any taste at all, they shouldn't sing any. That's what I'm trying to say- none of these songs are real, genuine and sincere.

Although I will make an exception for Dick Lee's Home. I love that and think they should give him an award just for that.

Oops! Thinking like a Singaporean. Award this. Award that.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Wheely Willy

This chihuahua is amazing.

Despite his disability, Willy is cheerful and full of life.

I saw him on National Geographic and thought it was hilarious that the paraplegic Willy was tied to helium balloons on his hindquarters to get it to walk. Instead of walking, Willy floated up in the air.

Read more about him here:


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Dance Dance Dance

Finished Dance Dance Dance couple of days ago.

One of the reasons I like Murakmai is that the most fascinating things happen to the most boring people.

"Then she came over next to me and did things nobody in my thirty-four years had ever done for me"

There are also many interesting characters that are not strictly speaking, people.

"The Sheep Man is kind of like my caretaker, kind of like a switchboard operator"

The main character, so far for me, is usually a writer and sometimes he reminds me of me.

"I'm not stubborn. I just work according to my system"

"I just hate sloppiness in money matters"

And the dialogue can be really funny, with its references to popular culture.

"People dying left and right around you, eh? At this rate, you'll never make friends and influence people"

"Makimura had bought me a prostitute. But it was only sex. Erection, insertion, ejaculation, that's all folks"

Day 17

Milou is doing well. He eats greedily, sleeps a lot, likes to chew anything in sight, pees everywhere. All you can ask for in a puppy.

But he does have some major separation anxiety issues. At night, even if I leave the room to look for my designated spot to relieve myself, he barks crazily. Since then, I have learnt that by shaking a empty can with some coins in it, he barks less.

I have taught him to sit. But he associates S-I-T with a treat all the time and looks really disappointed when his only reward is G-O-O-D B-O-Y.

I heard from Mrs. Hunk that Hunk likes to mimic the way I say G-O-O-D B-O-Y. Maybe I should consider giving him a back rub to hear that for myself.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Above all else, it hurts to be ignored.

Like you're not there. Invisible Wallpaper in a Different Dimension.

Today, desperate Indian lady asks Chinese lady to buy tissue. Chinese lady totally ignores her. She swerves her body out of the way, like you would a crazed dog, an insurance agent.

Yesterday, colleague told me that his email to an ex-colleague for a job opportunity remained unanswered. Not even a keep in view note or a polite "keep you informed". A wall of silence.

More than once, I hold the lift for someone. Keeping the door open and making sure people get in safely. Many ignore your act of kindness. No smile. No thank you. No nothing.

Everyday, the cleaners, the security guards, the ones who work the longest hours and get the lowest pay, are ignored. No hellos. No thank yous. No "how is it going".

Of course, on the blogs, writers have no comments from the readers.

Vote for Me!

I took part in the singapore writers festival 100-Word epic challenge.

If you like, vote for me here:


It's the one that begins:

She asks first

If you have to ask, Milou makes a special appearance...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bruce Springsteen

"She's got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay a million miles away"
- Secret Garden, Bruce Springsteen

"We'll keep pushin' till it's understood
and these badlands start treating us good"
- Badlands, Bruce Springsteen

"So when you look at me
you better look hard and look twice
Is that me baby
or just a brilliant disguise"
- Brilliant Disguise, Bruce Springsteen

"well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days"
- Glory Days, Bruce Springsteen