Sunday, June 29, 2008

Read a good book lately

I'm a terrible fisherman, I don't have the patience for it and I can rarely bring myself to eat something that I've killed.

And that's why I never read Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It. Fly fishing is pretty alien to an urbanised Singaporean. Even when Robert Redford turned it into a movie with Brad Pitt in it, I still wasn't interested.

And then I came across the book's 25th anniversary edition in the library. It had a quiet cover with a simple pencil and ink drawing of a fly on it. Always one to judge a book by its cover, I borrowed it. Actually, I took it because it has a foreword by Annie Proulx and I was more interested in what she had to say because I've always enjoyed her books.

And I was -- err -- hooked. Line. And sinker. Except that I don't think there are sinkers in fly fishing. Right from the opening line -- "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."

In my -- err -- book, that's an opening line that ranks up with Austen's "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Funny how you can remember word for word a good opener of a book you first read 25 years ago. Guess I fall for a good pick up line anytime.

A River Runs Through It is one of the most beautifully lyrical books I've read in a long while. I just wonder how it was possible to capture it into a movie. Even if it's Robert Redford.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

You know it's football season...

I was sitting next to an elderly Malay man on the bus when another elderly Malay chap got on. They obviously knew each other because they did that hand-to-heart handshake and the second guy sat on the next row and the two began a conversation -- none of which I understood.

sdsdfjwerrjkv ... injury time... poiuder werjkjkl; rerwlj kj;jwer ... free kick ... sdfwejk @#!@#!!!

Aah, they were talking about Euro 2008.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Being Singaporean

I think we've met the conservative greyhead of the estate. You know the type. Elderly retired gentleman, used to being in a position of authority, has a view on everything and his view is always right.

We were walking the dogs, Rupert on leash and Queeni trotting alongside offleash. She usually ignores everyone and goes about her business but our paths crossed Greyhead's and he muttered something at her so she snorted at him and went on her way. Snorted. Not barked. Nor even growled.

Don't worry, she's tame, L assured Greyhead. Greyhead then lectured L about the virtues of keeping a dog on leash, "they could go wild on you anytime," he emphasised. "Oh really, you're an expert on safety?" enquired a now irritated L.

We're always mindful that dogs are really domesticated wolves. Queeni does get leashed when there are children about and we're always mindful of the Muslim neighbours. So I guess L felt really unjustified about the impromptu lecture on dog behaviour.

Greyhead clearly wasn't used to people talking back to him and launched into a monologue, building up for the grand conclusion -- which was addressed to me because by then, he had drawn level with me as L had fallen back with Queeni who was busy sniffing at a tree.

"Singaporeans!" he thundered.

By which he probably meant that we were ill-mannered, inconsiderate, discourteous louts, the usual complaints one makes of Singaporeans.

What I don't get is that he obviously is Singaporean too. He's one of us. Unless he somehow thinks that he's better than us. Well, he's quite beyond me.

All that while, the elderly lady walking with Greyhead, probably his wife, kept her head down, ignored everything and stepped up her pace. I bet she knew too well what Greyhead is when he's home.

A Singaporean.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)'

L and I went to watch Shine a Light yesterday evening. Great movie.

Only a few days ago, a colleague -- who had just recently discovered Scorsese's The Last Waltz but was dithering about watching Shine a Light because he had never been keen on The Rolling Stones -- had wondered if he should watch it on DVD or in the cinema.

Definitely the cinema. The big screen makes all the difference. It was like a front row ticket to a Stones concert. And at $7.50 for a movie ticket, it's definitely cheaper than the $500 for a front row seat to watch them when they came here a few years ago. (No, I didn't go. I didn't have $500. I figured I could spend that same amount on a whole, whole lot of CDs. L somewhat sourly said that he wasn't going to pay for a new liver for Keith Richards. He said it's been said that Richards gets a new one in Switzerland every year. Legacy of Jack Daniels.)

The only funny thing about watching a movie about the Stones in concert is that you get so caught up in the music, you forget you're not in a concert hall but a cinema -- and then you suddenly realise that nobody else is bopping around in their seats except you. The first five rows of the cinema were empty -- it was a weekday evening after all, and let's face it, it's a limited audience, you have to be of a certain age to want to watch the subject of this movie -- and I seriously debated if I should manouvre my way through all the people seated in my row and go sit in the empty rows where I could dance. Only having to move in the dark stopped me. And I had to stop myself from throwing my arms up mid-song or even clapping with the screen audience at the end of each number. It is not easy to sit to the Stones.

Just last week, another colleague laughed at me when I told her that Mick Jagger is my personal hero because he's proof that there's rock 'n' roll -- and hence, life -- after 60. The man is 20 years older than I am, and moves like he's 20 years younger.

There's something to be said for rock 'n' roll.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A conqueror's notes

When both humans are on the bed, try and wedge yourself between them. Then manoeuvre yourself to occupy the bed cross-wise. Make yourself as long as you can, stretch out your nose and your tail.

The humans will usually roll over and balance themselves on as little bed space as they can, without falling off the edge. Sometimes, you may even be able to prise one of them off the bed. They usually mutter something about going to the loo, and give you a sharp look as they stumble away. The loo is just an excuse. Victory is yours in terms of bed space.

When that happens, quickly occupy the vacated spot when it is still warm. But once it has lost its warmth, return to the remaining human and wedge yourself up against her. Take the spot between her legs if necessary, so she can't stretch them out properly.

It doesn't matter how much space there is left by the vacated human. The luxury of stretching out in that space is only temporary. The idea now is to take the remaining human's space.

And then the bed is ours!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Singapore's annual inflation rate stayed at 7.5 per cent in May, boosted by rising food, transport and housing costs, the government said on Monday.

As if to pre-empt that, the National Development Minister said on Saturday that fuel subsidies were not the way to go, and that even "neighbouring countries" are rethinking their subsidies. And recommended that people take public transport instead to cut costs.

I'm not expecting any subsidies. Hand-outs simply do not happen in you're-on-your-own Singapore. But I'm expecting a little less lip service from our ministers. This only looks slightly worse than the minister who, some years ago, drove to officiate a No-Car Day event.

I still haven't seen any of our MPs on the bus. But at least MPs in a "neighbouring country" have taken to biking to Parliament House. I've seen AFP pix so they must be somewhere on the Net too.

On yer bike, Mr Mah!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Queeni's turn

Just playing fair and following up a pix of Roop with one of Queeni. She's lying by L, belly-up, all the easier for him to give her a tummy rub. You'd think from the expression on her face that I was interrupting something.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Spa dog

L was using a piece to tissue to wipe his glasses and when he finished, he conveniently placed it over Roop's face. Roop just went to sleep, presumably assuming that someone turned off the lights.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Downward dog

It's easy. Just use the cushion as a yoga aid.

Oh, and all those bones next to Queeni do not belong to her. They're all Rupert's. HRH decided to annex them even though she doesn't really have the teeth for them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

His 'n' hers

And on the days that they don't want to share (read Queeni, really), he goes to his corner (in his crate) and she goes to her corner (on the sofa of course, she's the Queen).

If you can't make out what Queeni is doing, she is lying on her back, belly and all four legs up. Yup, she is revelling that the couch is hers, all hers. Queens are like that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Down memory lane

My misspent childhood is coming back to haunt me. The Osmonds are here on a reunion tour this week and so are The Wynners. The Osmonds everybody knows. And even if they did sell out Wembley in an hour, I'm not rushing for tickets to their concert, I'm just too embarrassed. I'd rather forget about my Donny Osmond purple socks era. I plead juvenile ignorance, I was about 10 years old then. I still remember bolting through dinner on Saturday evenings so that I could beat my mother to the TV and could tune in to the Donny and Marie Show instead of her Chinese drama serials. And rushing to the music shop round the corner from my school when word went round that there's a new Donny and Marie album. And buying Fanfare magazine when Donny was the pin-up.

The Wynners are only a vague memory. They were a Hong Kong pop group that a cousin was into. I listened for a bit, maybe even bought a cassette (yes, those things) or two. My uncle used to take the mickey by calling them The Whiners instead of The Winners. I could name the members of the group once but not now. Same like how I've forgotten the names of the rest of the Osmond brothers. Funnily enough, the Osmonds names and songs came back quite readily when I saw them on Oprah.

And now, Get Smart has been made into a movie. I'm as enthusiastic about it as the Osmonds in concert. It just feels so wrong to sit through a movie-length version and in colour. It's just not Get Smart if Max doesn't walk down a long corridor of doors closing on him, uses his shoe phone and the whole thing isn't black & white (look, I'm not that old; when I started watching Get Smart, it was in afternoon off-peak reruns).

This lack of enthusiasm must mean that I'm old and jaded.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bearing fruit

Somewhere in the housing estate across from my office is proof that teddy bears really do grow on trees.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hitting the wall

No real reason for this picture, other than the fact that I was still playing with the new cellphone's camera. It takes sharper photos than the old one. This is a shot taken at the office rooftop where I eat my packed dinner.

At first, I wondered why anyone would place a park bench facing a wall, instead of facing the flowers at the other side of the rooftop garden. Or facing the view of the surrounding rooftops.

But then I realised that staring at a wall is not so daft after you've been staring at a computer for hours.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Weighty things

Just testing the new cellphone camera again. This tree stands by the path to the mall and I pass it all the time. Today, I realised that its low branches have been so weighted down by the rain that they are touching the ground.

L says that he's seen a guy stand under it in the evenings, practising on his trumpet.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I'm an Apple fan, having always used Macs -- unless I'm at work and then the Windows PC is really my employer's fault. I still have Macs that I'm not using, like a dinky Mac Classic that is still in working condition -- only there's not much you can do with it in this day and age. I mean, who even remembers black and white screens these days?

But I'm going to pass on the iPhone. First, it took too long time to get here. Second, it wasn't until yesterday that the mobile service provider which clinched the deal with Apple announced that it was going to offer the new 3G model. Third, it costs way too much.

And more importantly, it's because I already have a 3G phone. So I don't need to be among the first in Asia to have a 3G iPhone. On top of that, my 3G phone came free. OK, so I had to extend my mobile contract for two years to get that but it was no hardship. My mobile service provider offered this lure last month when it probably already knew that it didn't get the iPhone deal.

For the first time in a long while, Apple has stepped in with too little, too late. Phooey.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning

2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Pretty much the same thing, just at a different place, for a different publication and a different pay.

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world:

1. Ice cream sundae with all the works -- hot fudge sauce, whipped cream. And a cherry on top, of course.

2. Cake with ice cream on the side

3. Cookies

4. Prawn crackers

5. Potato chips

Five snacks I enjoy in the real world:

6. Tapioca crackers with chilli sambal

7. Ice cream -- it has to have bits of stuff in it, like chocolate chips or marshmallow bits. Plain flavours get boring after the second mouthful.

8. Yogurt -- "normal" or frozen

9. Fruit -- freshly cut or a fruit sorbet

10. Popcorn

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Cut down on my working hours. I wouldn't quit, I like my job too much. But I would persuade my boss to let me work part time or just come in on the busy nights.

2. Buy some land and start a no-kill animal shelter. It pains me that Noah's Ark had to ship out to Johor because they couldn't renew their lease. Or maybe I'd just give the money to them, I don't think I have the resources to actually run a shelter.

3. Buy a car. L would have to drive. I never learnt how. Or I guess as a billionaire, I could get a chaffeur with the car.

4. Buy a weekend home in Bali. It will have to come with a private jet or at least membership into one of those pilot-and-jet services.

5. Set up a trust fund that will go towards funding Aids medication. If the government won't help people obtain live-saving anti-retrovirals, then dammit, I will.

Five jobs that I have had:

1. Salesperson in a book shop

2. Teacher

3. Reporter/journalist/staff writer -- different places, different designations, more or less the same job.

4. Sub-editor -- which is my current job. Good grief, I haven't done enough in my life to cover five jobs.


Five of my habits:

1. Must have coffee first thing in the morning. Tea on a day off.

2. Must cuddle the dogs in bed before I can settle down to sleep.

3. I need separate shampoo and conditioner. Can't abide the two-in-one stuff, it makes you wonder if you should rinse it off straightaway (you don't want the shampoo on your hair that long) or leave it on for a while (or how will the conditioner have time to set in). The bottles of shampoo and conditioner have to be at the same level.

4. I use bar soap in the shower on the alternate days that I wash my hair and shower gel when I'm not. I'm just required to list habits, not explain them.

5. I use facial scrub on the days that I wash my hair and a gel cleanser on the days that I don't.

Five places I have lived:

1. Coventry, UK

2. Hong Kong

3. With my parents. In Singapore. I'm out of places as in countries.

4. Small cosy rental house in Changi Village by the sea -- one of the nicest rental places I ever had.

5. A rental flat in Sengkang. We liked the township so much, we bought our own flat in Sengkang two years ago.

Five people we should all get to know better: (A nice way of saying TAG!)

1. Funny the World

2. The Dahn Report

3. E-Hung

4. Benedict Says

5. Compaunmeri

Monday, June 09, 2008

Littlest member of the household

If I didn't point him out, you would miss him. He's that tiny speck of a lizard. There, on the floor. Between the edge of the table and the chair.

All the lizards in the house are called Jimi. This stemmed from the early days when we first moved in and I found a lizard overhead, clinging onto the recessed part of the living room ceiling that is painted to look like a cloudy sky. You know, Jimi Hendrix's "Kiss the Sky".

It was Roop who alerted L to Tiny Jimi on the floor by performing springing goat-like leaps around the chair under which Tiny Jimi had tried to hide. He was lying still, squarely under the chair where Roop couldn't reach him, however hard he tried to poke his nose under the chair's legs. Even a little lizard has more brains than That Dog. Who had to be sternly told that little lizards aren't live food.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Is this bag me?

L was putting away the grocery bags when he decided to put them on Roop instead (don't ask me why). Then he filled one with toys and slung the handle round Roop's neck. Roop, of course, managed to contort himself to get the toys out.

This probably means that it's a bad idea to have Roop carry home the shopping, he'll only get the stuff out of the bags and eat them on the way home.

Drats. Back to the drawing board.

Friday, June 06, 2008

There isn't enough room in here for the two of us

OK, I know, this is really Rupert's crate. But as Queen, it's completely natural that I can annex it and roll around in it. Why should he have a crate that is bigger than mine? Even if he's bigger than me? I'm the Queen! And then that stupid serf has to barge his way in. How's a royal to get her beauty sleep?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Portrait ... with food

The only way to get a picture of the two dogs together is when somebody else is eating.