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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

Friday, September 30, 2005

La Bamba

Movies are too expensive nowadays.

$9.50 on a weekend is probably $4.50 too much.

I remember a time when I paid $3.50 at Orchard cinema. I was 11 then.

Orchard cinema was one of my favorite theatres then. Among the films I watched there were Ghostbusters, The Woman in Red, Dead Poet's Society, Good Morning Vietnam, La Bamba and Ishtar. I'm sure there were more but that's all I can remember now.

Some of the films that made a great impression in my childhood were La Bamba, Ghostbusters, Dune and Top Secret.

La Bamba was really special.

As we speak, I'm listening to The Best of Ritchie Valens which is always very strange as the soundtrack which I'm so fond of was performed by Los Lobos.

I didn't know then but it didn't matter. The music was amazingly good. It was one of the films that you'd pay to see it again - just for the music.

Till now, Donna is one of my favorite love songs. I still remember how he would sing to her over the phone and it's really a sweet sweet scene.

The acting by Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales was intense. Esai's performance as the tortured, self-destructing brother was especially mesmerizing.

The other thing that worked for me was the sad ending. Till then, I haven't seen many films that end on a down note. The fact that it's a real story makes it a lot more poignant.

I saw another telemovie about Buddy Holly, who died in the same plane crash as Ritchie (of course, you know this). It wasn't half as good but That Will Be The Day is another extraordinary song.

In recent years, I haven't seen many movies like these. I did enjoy Almost Famous very much and That Thing You Do much lesser.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Toilet GaGa

If Tan Pin Pin's Singapore GaGa has taught me anything, it is to pay attention to the sounds surrounding us.

To listen. To absorb. To appreciate. To live.

Being the obedient Singaporean I was brought up to be (although some say that my upbringing was an abysmal failure but enough talk about the A Levels), I have since learnt to listen.

To absorb. To appreciate. To live.

So here I was. In the toilet. At work. (This is problematic as it implies I work in a toilet but no, although at times, the shit hits the fan, if you get my point)

And a big Caucasian man comes in. He pees.

I work in a cosmopolitan office. And big Caucasian men are everywhere.

Oh my, the sound of his pee is deafening.

Having recovered from the shame of my hushful, lightweight act, I was thinking how interesting it would be if we listened carefully to the pee of different nationalities.

I'm sure this will make a most interesting documentary. After all, I'm sure some will find this a most absorbing subject.

To appreciate.

Naturally, filming this will pose some challenges. Wisely, I will not film this at work as I'm sure many of my colleagues will not find this conducive to workplace harmony. I will say this, shamefully- art will have to make way for the monthly pay cheque. I need to keep my job.

To live.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Soulless and unpersonal

From Hornby's A Long Way Down. Hits the spot, don't you think?

"People go on about places like Starbucks being unpersonal and all that, but what if that’s what you want? . . . I like to know that there are big places without windows where no one gives a shit. You need confidence to go into small places with regular customers — small bookshops and small music shops and small restaurants and cafés. I’m happiest in the Virgin Megastore and Borders and Starbucks and PizzaExpress, where no one gives a shit, and no one knows who you are. My mum and dad are always going on about how soulless those places are, and I’m like, Der. That’s the point."

Apology to self

Note to self:

I'm sorry for not blogging. I've been busy. But it's no excuse. How do you become a writer if you don't write? I'm being ridiculous. No, I am ridiculous.


Hmm, it's funny how I started with "note to self". Isn't a blog your very own note? Guess, I've been writing for people, rather than writing for myself. Writing for laughs, when I should be writing for progress, for truth, for peace.


I've busy being a leader. I've stepped up some weeks ago, agreeing to lead a team of volunteers to run a website that inspires youths to dream big, take action and live the dream.

It's been a while since I was a leader. At least in the official sense. Can't say I don't enjoy it but means there are things you don't do as much as you like to. Like reading and reading and reading.

I guess I don't do very much.

I was working on 2 presentations yesterday and finally committed many of the thoughts that have been swimming around my head. Writing is indeed powerful.

I can see clearly now.

On paper, it looks great. It feels great. Is it great?

Still, on paper, it looks great.

One of the message I'm getting out is how we work in the organisation. Our working principles is to empower, act and reward.

This is consistent with our objectives - dream big, take action and live the dream.

In dreaming big, we are inspiring our community to believe that nothing is impossible as long as we put our minds to it. We are empowering mindsets.

In taking action, we are saying dreaming isn't enough. It's time to act. So act now!

In living the dream, we are recognising the importance of creating the future now as well as the importance of reward in learning. We want to reward those who have taken action. A rock star wannabe who has taken action will be given a backstage pass to a concert and if possible, follow a singer for a day to see what a rock star's lifestyle is.

I want to empower the team so that we can act fast and decisively and reward them. With praise, with food, with strong, good, honest feelings.

Anthony Robbins talks about primary questions. My primary question is now this : How can I empower my team?

I'm reading Bill Jensen's Simplicity. He wanted to find out the question that most employees would like to ask in handling changes in a company. 60% of the questions was among Jensen's Change Behavioral Communication Model:

Why change?
How is this important and relevant to me?
What do you want me to do differently?
How will I be measured and what are the consequences?
What tools and support do I get to make this change?
WIIFM -- What's in it for me? And for us?

The answer was tools and support. People wanted to the "right tools, right time, right way" so that they do less and focus more.

So empowering people is a great way to work. I need to work hard on getting them the tools, the budget, the people to run our programmes.

Like I said, it looks good on paper.

It's up to me to make it happen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


It's been a while since I cried.

That was before I watched Cinderella Man.

It isn't a typical come-back movie. Still, it is moving. I cried several times.

Like the Great Depression, the transition from riches to rags was swift and ruthless. It wasn't explained. We were not forewarned.

It just came.

The film resonated with me for several reasons.

A silent, suffering hero. That's what I try to be. Already I'm silent and somewhat suffering. Not too sure about the hero part though.

A man of integrity. Guilty again - of not being the man I want to be, of not being the man I almost is.

The love between a man and wife. Not partners, not friends, but the love between a man and wife. In sickness and in health. Till death do us part. Cliches yes. But let not words get in the way of life.

I pause to remember the devastating scene of the provision shop owner at the deathbed of his wife in Khoo's Be With Me.

A great depression. A loss of jobs, no food on the table, work with hands. And God is where?

The film had such an impact on me that I went straight to the bookstore to look for the biography of James Braddock. They had only the book adaptation of the movie which is usually almost always a spawn of Satan.

The Central library has a copy - a biography, a real book.

I was hoping to cry again at the Emmys. No such luck.

These days, a man has to buy a ticket to cry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

a perfectly useless afternoon

“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.”
- Lin Yutang

I know how to live.

Do you?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hornby Excerpts

Read these excerpts from Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down.



Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block? Of course I can explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block. I'm not a bloody idiot. I can explain it because it wasn't inexplicable: it was a logical decision, the product of proper thought. It wasn't even very serious thought, either. I don't mean it was whimsical - I just meant that it wasn't terribly complicated, or agonised. Put it this way: say you were, I don't know, an assistant bank manager, in Guildford. And you'd been thinking of emigrating, and then you were offered the job of managing a bank in Sydney. Well, even though it's a pretty straightforward decision, you'd still have to think for a bit, wouldn't you? You'd at least have to work out whether you could bear to move, whether you could leave your friends and colleagues behind, whether you could uproot your wife and kids. You might sit down with a bit of paper and draw up a list of pros and cons. You know:

CONS - Aged parents, friends, golf club.

PROS - more money, better quality of life (house with pool, barbecue etc), sea, sunshine, no left-wing councils banning Baa-Baa Black Sheep, no EEC directives banning British sausages etc. It's no contest, is it? The golf club! Give me a break. Obviously your aged parents give you pause for thought, but that's all it is - a pause, and a brief one, too. You'd be on the phone to the travel agents within ten minutes.

Well, that was me. There simply weren't enough regrets, and lots and lots of reasons to jump. The only things in my 'cons' list were the kids, but I couldn't imagine Cindy letting me see them again anyway. I haven't got any aged parents, and I don't play golf. Suicide was my Sydney. And I say that with no offence to the good people of Sydney intended.


I'd spent the previous couple of months looking up suicide inquests on the Internet, just out of curiosity. And nearly every single time, the coroner says the same thing: "He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed." And then you read the story about the poor bastard: his wife was sleeping with his best friend, he'd lost his job, his daughter had been killed in a road accident some months before.... Hello, Mr Coroner? Anyone at home? I'm sorry, but there's no disturbed mental balance here, my friend. I'd say he got it just right. Bad thing upon bad thing upon bad thing until you can't take any more, and then it's off to the nearest multi-storey car park in the family hatchback with a length of rubber tubing. Surely that's fair enough? Surely the coroner's inquest should read, "He took his own life after sober and careful contemplation of the fucking shambles it had become"?

Not once did I read a newspaper report, which convinced me that the deceased was off the old trolley. You know: "The Manchester United forward, who was engaged to the current Miss Sweden, had recently achieved a unique Double: he is the only man ever to have won the FA Cup and an Oscar for Best Actor in the same year. The rights to his first novel had just been bought for an undisclosed sum by Stephen Spielberg. He was found hanging from a beam in his stables by a member of his staff." Now, I've never seen a coroner's report like that, but if there were cases in which happy, successful, talented people took their own lives, one could safely come to the conclusion that the old balance was indeed wonky. And I'm not saying that being engaged to Miss Sweden, playing for Manchester United and winning Oscars inoculates you against depression - I'm sure it doesn't. I'm just saying that these things help. Look at the statistics. You're more likely to top yourself if you've just gone through a divorce. Or if you're anorexic. Or if you're unemployed. Or if you're a prostitute. Or if you've fought in a war, or if you've been raped, or if you've lost somebody..... There are lots and lots of factors that push people over the edge; none of these factors are likely to make you feel anything but fucking miserable.

Milou's girlfriend

Milou has a new girlfriend.

She cost $7.90 from Watson's.

While stocks last.

As we speak, he's banging her.

I came home, the first day they met, and my mom told me this:

His thing came out.

What thing?

His thing. When he's on top of her.

I didn't fully understand this till one day while he was licking me. To my horror, I saw a extended red shaft.

It ain't pretty.

Milou's only 5 months old. Guess that means he's reached puberty.

At least one of my mom's boys is getting some action.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

ass like that

Today, Miss Fat Ass came to sit next to me and nearly crushed my flesh, bone and marrow.

She made the wrong part of me go, in the words of The White Poet, doing doing doing.

She was hard but I was so so off, that you have no idea.

Fat people should be aware of their fat asses. I am so I'm really conscious who I sit next to in buses. I typically shy away from fat asses and really big people (who aren't fat, they are just big). But I do deliberately sit my fat ass down beside selfish people who occupies 2 seats with their puny asses and bags and don't like to move into the inner seat despite crowded buses. Like thin attractive people, I use my body to my advantage.

I know I'm cheap.

Anyway, we were at the back row. The most astonishing thing was when the guy next to her got off, she didn't give an inch and our asses were stuck till she got down at Lucky Plaza.

Lucky me.

Monday, September 05, 2005

a mystery

Consider this quote, from George Orwell:

"All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery."

I dare not call myself a writer, but let me claim all her qualities.

There is something most mysterious going on with me.

As it is mysterious, I do not have a clue to my predicament.

If I can call this a predicament.

What I know is I'm finding myself more and more in agreement with Absurdism.

I'm pushing, dancing, puffing and soon I will break into pieces.

And so will you.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Little Red Dot

"It shows that even a country that has been likened to a "little red dot"can make the world sit up and take notice."

I'm weary of cliches.

Someone described Singapore as the "little red dot" for the 231,789 time today.

And I mean Today.

It's crazy.

Why do people write like that?

In another article, Catherine Lim describes us a society that does not read.

A society that does not read does not think.

A society that does not think get others to think for them.

A society that gets others to think for them repeat what others say.

A society that repeats what others say is guilty of cliches.

There is no worse cliche than a little red dot.