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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, January 31, 2006

Milou the puppy

I sometimes forget that Milou is a puppy.

You see, despite being 9 months old, he is rather tall and long. His King Charles Cavalier genes has somehow gotten mixed up with some unknown breed so you can say he's quite a special KCV.

My mom has been bringing him around the neighborhood for walks. So he's been making friends with some doggy friends.

(My mom has been making friends too, including one "Christian" (false prophet) who claims that Christians cannot name their dogs after human names)

On some occasions, Milou has been rather shy, when meeting new canine friends. So he hides behind my mom, which to me, is terribly human and incredibly heart-warming.

This year is his first Chinese New Year. So there was this lion dance making a hell of a din downstairs. Milou was so frightened by the noise that he went mad, ran all over the house, including the bathrooms and kitchen. My mom tried holding him but he was truly afraid. My room was closed so my mom had to open it. Milou jumped in and onto my bed (something he doesn't usually do). I had to hold him real tight before he calmed down.

At night, he watched a lion dance on television. He barked repeatedly at the television.

Yes, Milou is still a puppy. He may be a young son of a bitch, but he's a sweet child of mine.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Polysyllabic Spree

The Polysyllabic Spree is Nick Hornby's monthly account of what he's read. He lists the books that he buys and the ones that he actually reads, and like me, his failure here is recalcitrant.

Yes, I'm guilty - yesterday, today and forever. Amen.

I hide my books. I can't face them all, knowing they remain unread. I have ruined their purpose driven lives.

What will Mr. Warren say?

And what about Shakespeare (Complete Works), McEwan (Atonement), Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude), Conrad (Nostromo) and Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath)? What will they say to me when I'm in book heaven?

Thou art false.

I will thus be cast out of book heaven, alongside those who borrow books but don't return and defacers of library books.

And what would I find in book hell?

In the beginning, wasn't the Word.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Year of the Dog

The Year of the Dog beckons.

After some initial inquires, I gathered faithful readers are optimistic and looking forward to a glorious beginning to the New Year.

Here's a little film review that will surely interest you. After all, it involves a dog and an awesome opening.


"A pretty girl sits on a couch reading, her face spotted with zit cream, her dog stretched out on the floor at her feet. She gets up, chain locks the door, and turns to look at her pet, splayed out on his back, his genitalia in full view. The next thing we know, the girl is running for mouthwash to the accompaniment of one of the best voice-overed opening lines in recent cinema history: 'My name is Amy, and yes, in college, I blew my dog.'"

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Civil Servant's Question

Pop quiz, hot shot.

Imagine a nuclear holocaust and the whole world is burning, burning, burning. You are the sole survivor of the idiot race and you must find a place to live the rest of a radiation-free existence.

Would you choose a library of books or a library of films?

The Civil Servant formerly known as The Curator asked me this last night, leaving out the apocalyptic background.

I am afraid Fellini, Welles and Kurosawa will be disappointed by my answer (more so if they have seen any of my 'films').

No hesitation here.

I will read, then I die.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The men of Robinsons'

Allow me the luxury of a cruel generalization.

The men, that shop at Robinsons', do not dress well.

I was there last night, between 7 to 8. A friend, no a brother, was trying his sub-$40 pants and here I was sitting between pants and winterwear, looking at nothing but men.

Staring at their chests and buttocks.

Gazing at their loose pants, faded fabrics and their dull colors.

And letting their abysmal drapery stare back at me.

We dress alike, the men of Robinsons'.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

low and humble principles

At this moment, I'm excited because I'm rediscovering the core fundamentals in life.

Like Thomas Hobbes, who when confronted with the Pythagoras theorem, "compared other philosophers unfavourably with mathematicians, who proceeded slowly but surely from 'low and humble principles' that everyone understood."

Low and humble principles, yes, I love this phrase.

I worry too much, and often about the unimportant things in life. Lately, I've been fretting about getting a cross trainer, how to spend vpost $10 offer, where to go with my airmiles, etc.

I should really be spending more time thinking about the low and humble principles in life like-

  1. How can I be happier
  2. How can I be healthier
  3. How can I improve my relationship with my loved ones
  4. How can I give more

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Walking into my American colleague's hotel room was somewhat illuminating.

We are both about the same age and do our fair share of traveling.

I always pack extremely light.

But not him. In the toilet, I see a big tube of toothpaste and a full-sized bottle of foam.

I see his clothes and his shoes and there are a lot more than mine.

A giant-sized packet of beef jerky sits on top of the television.

It seems a lot to bring.

I'm probably reading too much into this but I see America here: in all its bigness, its abundance and its excess.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Laughing Club

After watching The Laughing Club of India, I laughed.

For nothing. At nothing. I laughed.

I think it's sad (and funny) that the world has gone so wrong that a laughing club seem so right.

I have nothing against these laughter clubs considering there are more ridiculous things in the world like award shows, children starving and honest politicians.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Reunion Dinner

Reunion dinner for the Chinese New Year is problematic for the two of us.

My mom, while dependable, is not entirely imaginative. Lately, she has been mumbling and grumbling while figuring out what to eat.

My relatives, across the Causeway, had their share of problems too.

Last year, they had their reunion dinner at a well-established restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. After being served their first dish, the cooks went on strike.

Perfect timing.

So over 30 of my near and distant relatives had to trudge out of the restaurant and made the humiliating journey to a Indian stall where they had prata, kambing soup, roti and mee goreng.

Not entirely appealing, but considering we had pizza last year (delivery no less), they didn't do too badly.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Lolita: an excerpt

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.


The prose is sublime when beheld, ineffably ineffable when read.

My eyes have seen the glory.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What's wrong with the world today?

Today, I had lousy linguine.

Probably the worst I ever had. The Al Funghi was like Hell Flood Me. The sauce was soup-of-the-day watery and splashing all over my work shirt.

Pasta Mania.


This is exactly what is wrong with the world today.

Some years back, The Curator brought me to Scotts Picnic and we had wonderful cheap pasta. Now, these guys are spread thin, in their chase for the almighty dollar and the food has all gone to hell.

Branches, franchises, hopelessness.

I think about the smallest little curry joint in Tokyo where The Missionary and I had the humblest of meals. The people cooked, served, cashiered. It wasn't the best curry I had but the taste was unique. You can taste an individual cooking, the fine balance of spices, the sense of purpose. But if there's one word I'll use - it's an honest curry.

And so what's wrong with the linguine I had today as well as the whole freaking world is that it's dishonest, dishonest, dishonest.

Broken Flowers

There are 2 things I want to do after watching Broken Flowers.

1) Get a Fred Perry track jacket.

2) Drop in on an old friend, who is somewhere in Hong Kong, whom I once silently loved.

I have a budget so I have choose between these options and so let me analyze soberly the steps needed.

To get the jacket, I need to do 6 things.

1-1) Set aside $170

1-2) Choose a color

1-3) Order online

1-4) Set up a vpost account as they don't ship internationally

1-5) Pay vpost

1-6) Wait for delivery

To visit my old friend, I need to do 1 thing.

2-1) Ask myself why the fuck years ago did I not open my mouth, look into her eyes and tell her to come to papa.

I'm going to go with the jacket.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Law and Disorder

The Law isn't perfect.

Spray-can perverts desperately await the next festivities, authors fictionalise their memoirs and politicians tell lies that kill people.

Criminals get away everyday.

No, the Law isn't perfect.

For example, how do you legislate against people who play bad music?

I'm talking about the people who play loud music in their vehicles - in cars with the windows down, on bikes with sputtering speakers.

Is it just my bad misfortune that all of these exhibitionists tend to have very poor musical tastes?

I do have a suggestion for these showoffs. Of course, this can be a rather harsh label. Who knows these people might really love music. But that makes my job harder.

You can't cure bad tastes.

If you desire so much to stand out from the pack, avoid cheesy techno music and dance compilations.

Why not try opera?

Go watch The Shawshank Redemption, look for the scene where Tim Robbins plays Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

And listen, as did Morgan Freeman who spoke these words:

"Those voices soared, higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away."

Do not just assail our ears.

Affirm our hearts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

When will I be famous?

So sang Bros.

A friend of mine is leaving his job to focus on his career as a photographer. He's already got his photographs published and he is certainly going to be famous.

I told a close group of friends, not too long ago, that we're going to get famous.

But here I am.

Unpopular, unstated, unwanted.

I walk alone.

Undistrubed, unmolested, unpublic.

In the cinema. In Japanese porn shops. In cheap hotels.

At what price, freedom?

Monday, January 16, 2006


I find myself in awe of the Rabbi Abraham Heschel's God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. It's a book all Christians should read.


N. T. Wright, the eminent New Testament scholar, argues:

"It simply will not do to tell the story of salvation as simply creation, fall, Jesus, salvation. We desperately need to say: creation, fall, Israel, Jesus, salvation."

We are all susceptible to re-inventing Jesus, re-inventing the Bible and making erroneous assumptions based on our pre-Christian understanding of God, sin and redemption. (And don't forget our post-modern tendencies to please and placate the lost)

An understanding of Judaism and Israel will provide a context to understand who God is, who Jesus claimed to be and God's redemptive purpose for His people.

Fortune Teller

Bravo Milou!

My mother was taking a nap with Milou on her lap in the living room couch.

The front door was open but the gate locked.

A fortune teller at the door woke up my mom. He was asking to tell my mother's fortune when Milou sprang towards him.

That god-fearing and apparently dog-fearing fortune teller retreated immediately without even finishing his sentence.

Bet that charlatan didn't see it coming.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A perfect moment

A perfect moment, in my view, is a point in time, where you'll remember for the rest of your life for its sweetness, fulfillment and perfect timing.

I found an example of a perfect moment in an article on text messages by the Washington Post:

Text-based intimacy went on display during a recent Bon Jovi concert at the MCI Center, when Sprint Nextel Corp. invited the audience to send in text messages, which then scrolled across a gigantic screen behind the stage, including proclamations of love, birthday shout-outs and even several marriage proposals.

Robert Helsel III and his two sisters high-fived when their text message to their baby brother lit up the screen: "Todd helsel here in our harts."

"In June 2002 our little brother was killed in a car accident," said Helsel, an Elkton resident. Todd was 18 and a week shy of his high school graduation. "We grew up on Bon Jovi. We've always been huge fans; we always wanted to see Bon Jovi before we died," Helsel said over the din of the crowd. Seeing Todd's name appear over the stage was a kind of fulfillment of that, he said. "It was like closure. It just made it feel like he was right there with us."

Sadly, perfect moments have close association with pain, with evil, with suffering. Fortunately, perfect moments resolve. They bring closure, understanding and hope.

Truly, without suffering, there can be no joy. Without evil, there can be no justice. Without pain, there can be no comfort.

And without hope, life is not worth living.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Intrinsic Motivation Principle of Creativity

It's official:

1) We are more creative when we are internally motivated.

2) We should avoid high levels of time pressure if we want to be consistently creative.

3) Too low time pressure isn't good for creativity.

Thank the Harvard Business School.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Reading List 2006

Feb 2006

Fiction: The Man Who Was Thursday

Fiction: Crime and Punishment

Jan 2006

Non-Fiction: The Polysyllabic Spree

Fiction: Lolita

Religion: God in Search of Man

Fiction: Gilead

Fiction: The Elephant Vanishes

Comics: Channel Zero

Indian madness

I just had probably the worst day of my professional career.

Our Indian audio/vendor was spectacularly horrible.

Even though their website says they have worked with big coporations and done shows with at least 2 POTUS (President of the United States). Even though my Indian colleague has assured me of his high level of comfort with them, in their years of working together. Even though, it has been claimed, that they are one of the top vendors in India.

Apart from their incompetent technical skills, my other problem was their indifference. I have blank faces whenever I told them off. And no, I didn't start by screaming my head off at them but I nearly did. I did however, very harshly, asked them why they had to snigger when I told them about the bad sound they recorded.

We did have an amazing Indian colleague who went out of his way to help us. He saved our collective asses.

The only nice thing about this trip was the amazing food. Even the room service was amazing.

Here's another place to check out when you're in Mumbai:


Sunday, January 08, 2006

How to be good

How to be good?

I ask myself today. It's not a question I ask often. My faith doesn't talk about good a lot cos good doesn't bring you nearer to God. God brings you to God so we talk about being Godly.

But how to be good is a good question.

Some people say there is no answer. I say bullshit. There is an answer if you look for it. But it's not going to be easy. It may not appear overnight. You may die not knowing the answer.

The answer will lie with you. But you have to brutally honest. Crazily honest. Honest to goodness honest.

Which is damm hard.

And when you find your answer, you may find that being good isn't everything. Cos who determines what good is.

I think that's the ultimate question.

The really ironical thing in life is that people who have that answer aren't really interested in doing good.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Constant Gardener

I flew to India while watching The Constant Gardener.

Among the frequent dreams the past weeks, I dreamt about a lover's betrayal.

So it was almost painful to struggle with the possibility of infidelity in the film. It touched me, affected me and bothered me.

For the next half, I had to struggle with understanding how others have to suffer for me to enjoy advances in technology and medicine.

I had to struggle with poor people, oppressed people, suffering people.

And then, I come to India.

And then, I see slums.

And then, I stay in big fancy hotels where everyone knows your name.

And I learnt nothing.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Goal Free

I spent Thursday night contemplating quietly (is there any other way?) a reading of an interview with Steve Shapiro on Tom Peters' site.

Steve's book - Goal-Free Living: How to Have the Life You Want NOW has just been released and I must say that his main idea, expressed here:

"we should have a sense of direction and let life unfold naturally, rather than trying to force it down a particular path, which is what we typically try to do. This will allow you to have a much more experiential view of life, allowing life to come to you. You will meander and weave, and change direction as you find the things you're really passionate about."

may not be new but there are ideas that resonate with me.

It's great timing too - perfect way to start a year.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Just below my office, Osim got their fattest salesman to demo the incredibly vulgar iGallop.

The thin ones got the other gigs, but the fat one gets the horse.

I have to witness rocking rolling mounds of flesh on my way to lunch.

Which explains why lunch since the New Year is, in a word, rather subdued.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


As Roger Ebert says in his review about Elizabethtown, "this being a Cameron Crowe movie, there is a great deal of music in it."

I always look forward to a Cameron Crowe movie, especially to the music in his film.

I'm reminded of Secret Garden where thanks to the incorporation of movie dialogue from Jerry Maguire, a perfect song is raped and defiled.

I am upset but there are sadder things in my life.

Consider this:

She’ll let you come just far enough
So you know she’s really there
She’ll look at you and smile
And her eyes will say
She’s got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay
A million miles away

And weep.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Why I Am Single (The Short Version)

Yesterday, on MSN Chat, I was typing furiously away when instead of using the word unhappy, I unconsciously typed "married".

But it was sent before I realized the error.

Sent, captured, imprinted, recorded.


Now you know why I am single.

Monday, January 02, 2006


I spent $173.03 on comics today.

If you have some time to spare, I'll even tell you why I did it.

People say I am a dreamer (but I'm not the only one) and it's true.

I used to have a vivid imagination. Now it's gone stale and rather sad.

When I was younger and I had problems sleeping, I would fantasize (insert your own joke here) and that would do the trick.

Lately, I seem to be recycling the same fantasies and have problems creating new ones.

And it's worrying.

Truly madly completely.

I was madly in love with comics in the mid-80s. Part of that enjoyment was having another good friend who loved comics. We would visit one another and read each other's collections and think of alternative stories and line-ups of the supergroups (e.g. Should Spiderman be in the Avengers, etc).

We read many comics and we knew our stuff really well. And so much knowledge meant we had a fertile ground for our imagination to work.

I must say reading comics was one of the best things to happen to me. Since then, I have always been one of the more active contributors to ideas in group situations. I dare not say they have always been good but there have been some outrageous ones.

I'm hoping for some more outrage in my life and I'm turning to comics. Yes, the National Library has a great collection. But not really the mature titles. No. Which brings me to Kinokuniya today where I bought the following:

Ex Machina Book 1 and 2

"The first volume of the Eisner Award-winning series featuring Eisner Award-winners author Brian K. Vaughan and artist Tony Harris. Set in our modern-day world, EX MACHINA tells the story of civil engineer Mitchell Hundred, who becomes America's first living, breathing super-hero after a strange accident gives him amazing powers. Eventually Mitchell tires of risking his life merely to maintain the status quo, retires from masked crimefighting and runs for mayor of New York City, winning by a landslide. But Mayor Hundred has to worry about more than just budget problems and an antagonistic governor, especially when a mysterious hooded figure begins assassinating plow drivers during the worst snowstorm in the city's history! "

Fables Vol 1 - 6

"Where do fairy tale princes and princesses, beasts and beauties go when happily ever after is over? New York City, of course. After a dreaded foe known only as "The Adversary" drives the "Fables," as they call themselves, away from their ancestral homes, they have no choice but to establish an underground community in the heart of Manhattan. Careful not to draw undue attention to themselves, they are self-governing, with a Mayor and a policeman all their own. Above all they must not reveal their true nature to the "mundanes" of their adopted world. As our story opens, Rose Red, fairy tale princess turned New York party girl, has gone missing, her abandoned apartment a trashed and bloody mess. Fearing the worst, Red's fraternal twin sister Snow White, deputy Mayor of Fabletown, and Bigby Wolf, its chief constable, are determined to find out who among their fellow exiles is responsible for the gruesome deed . . ."

Testament #1

"From the imagination of best-selling author Douglas Rushkoff (Coercion, Club Zero-G), one of the most iconoclastic and acclaimed minds of our era, comes a series that exposes the "real" Bible as it was actually written, and reveals how its mythic tales are repeated today. Grad student Jake Stern leads an underground band of renegades who use any means necessary to combat the frightening threats to freedom that permeate the world of TESTAMENT — a world very much like our own. They employ technology, alchemy, media hacking and mysticism, discovering a modern threat that has its roots in ancient stories destined to recur in the modern age.With intricate, darkly detailed art by Liam Sharp (THE POSSESSED), TESTAMENT takes place in an unapologetically uncensored Biblical universe, chronicling the grim confrontations between humans and their angry gods. Those horrifying encounters full of murder, magic, monsters, sex and sacrifice, echo the forces at work beneath the surface of today's high-tech and highly ideological conflicts."

There's a lot to read. But it's all very promising.

At least I imagine it to be.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


2005 wasn't great.

In the beginning, it felt like one of those shirts you buy thinking it will look good on you. Only to maybe wear it once or twice and losing it to the wardrobe.

I have too many of those shirts.

Like I had too many of 2005s.

But maybe years aren't easy to classify like vintage wines. Of course, it's easy to say a particular year was great or wasn't. But you don't really have the benefit of hindsight.

When the years pass you by, great things don't look so great and bad things don't look so bad.

Still, one should resist mediocrity and hope and dream.

Here' s to a great year.