Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas revelry



The angel with the halo was held down to have this picture taken. Just so you know that sometimes, things are not as they seem, not even with halos. Queeni froze the minute the halo was put on, and refused to co-operate. Rupert, on the other paw, acted like he didn't realise there was something on his head. Eventually, he even fell asleep on the couch with the antlers still on.

L is wearing beer-tinted glasses -- a matching present for Rupert's bottle of beer. We figure that since he is 3 -- making him 21 in human years -- it's about time he had a drink. That was one present I couldn't resist, I love how it looks exactly like a bottle of Heineken, down to the label and the red star on the bottle cap. And it's called Houneken, how cute is that?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas reading


I really don't know what made me pick this up at the library other than the thought that it would be supplementary reading for the usual passages from Isaiah and the Gospels over Christmastime.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Read any good books lately?


I finally got round to reading Khaleed Hosseini's The Kite Runner. Hosseini spins a good story and there's enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. But then again, so does Dan Brown. I think the only reason why this book, and his subsequent book, has captivated so readers the world over is probably because of a renewed interest in Afghanistan. And Obama's recent surge will only keep Afghanistan in the world theatre for a little while longer.

It's kinda like not too long ago when every Chinese woman who made it out of China and was living in the West churned out a spate of literature, fiction and non-fiction, set during the Cultural Revolution. There's a fine line between starting a genre and overkill and that red tide somehow was on the excessive side of the line.

So I don't really know, maybe the novel setting du jour has moved from Cultural Revolution China to Taliban Afghanistan. But there's always a story in there somewhere.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Time flies

When we first moved here, we were -- like many of our neighbours -- newly married and settling into our first home. It was only when the neighbour upstairs invited us for his second child's first month celebration that we realised it's been quite a while. Not that long ago, he had invited us for his firstborn's first month. Do years past by so quickly?

We watched the mak cik's daughter next door get married, move out and now mak cik's a grandma. We watched the young couple across the landing come home from hospital with their first baby. We watched the kid take his first steps and now he's running around driving his parents stir crazy. Soon, we'll be watching him go to school.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New world order

First off, a disclaimer. I don't watch beauty pageants on TV, nor want to have anything to do with them. But Saturday night TV programming gave me no choice -- it was either Miss World or the SEA Games. It was truly between a rock and a hard place.

One thing interesting came out of the Miss World pageant though -- the talent segment was quite a mixed bag. Miss Canada was an ethnic Chinese who performed a soprano aria; Miss Korea was a classical ballerina; Miss Australia was a white woman who did a Bollywood fusion dance; and the most amazing of all was Miss Sierra Leone, who perfected the traditional Chinese opera art of "face changing". Now that's globalisation for you.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Boy bands


There are some music groups that I follow loyally to the extent that I'll buy their new albums unquestioningly, even if I haven't heard the new songs yet, because I know they'll deliver.

That's why I picked up the new Bon Jovi when I went past the record shop. Then I noticed that The Priests also have a new album out so I grabbed it as well. I never thought that I'd be groupie-ing after a trio of priests.

I was rather amused that they had abandoned the sober, classical approach of their first album for a rock-star pose in the cover of their sophomore album. I was even more amused to find that the last track of the album was You'll Never Walk Alone. Maybe they're secret Liverpool FC fans. Although they did take pains to point out in the liner notes that it didn't originate as a football song but a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What I get up to

A meme, courtesy of The Dahn Report

Things you have done during your lifetime:
( ) Gone fishing in the snow
( ) Saw Elvis in Vegas -- saw a lot of things there but Elvis wasn't in the building!
(X) Lived on a barge
( ) Danced on TV
( ) Performed at Disneyland
( ) Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school -- who hasn't?
( ) Gone snow-shoeing
(X) Watched someone die
(X) Been to Europe
( ) Been to Canada
( ) Been to Mexico
( ) Been to Florida
(X) Gone White-water rafting
(X) Gone Kyaking
( ) Been to Texas
( ) Been to Pennsylvannia
(X) Been to Hawaii
(X) Been on a plane
( ) Been on a helicopter
( ) Been lost
( ) Gone to Washington, DC
(X) Swam in the ocean
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
(X) Recently colored with crayons
(X) Sang Karaoke
( ) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't.
(X) Made prank phone calls
( ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain-naked -- I danced in the rain but not naked!
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Been bowling
(X) Sailed a boat
(X) Played tennis
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating
( ) Drove a dune buggy
(X) Gone roller skating -- fell more than I skate though
(X) Gone to the movies
(X) Been deep sea fishing
( ) Driven across the United States
(X) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
( ) Gone snowmobiling
(X) Lived in more than one country
(X) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser in person
( ) Seen the Statue of Liberty in person
( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
(X) Been on a cruise
(X) Travelled by train
(X) Travelled by motorcycle
(X) Been horse back riding
(X) Ridden on a San Francisco Cable Car
(X) Been to Disneyland/ Disney World
(X) Truly believe in the power of positive thinking
(X) Been in a rain forest
(X) Seen whales in the ocean
( ) Been to Niagara Falls
(X) Ridden on an elephant
(X) Ridden on a Camel
( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
( ) Been water-skiing
( ) Been snow-skiing
( ) Been snowboading
(X) Been to Westminster Abbey
(X) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
(X) Been to the Great Pyramid in Egypt
( ) Been to a Major League Baseball game
( ) Been to a National Football League game
( ) Been to Jamaica
( ) climbed a waterfall
(X) Climbed the Eiffel Tower -- I didn't climb, I took the lift

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wild life


Spotted a monkey in the grassy area next to the playground in the flats across from the office.

And I thought the only monkey business in Toa Payoh North took place within the office building.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The business of war



It's interesting that after checking out The Science of War from the library, which is an academic's take on the business of the US armed forces, accompanied by copious statistics down to divorce and suicide rates in the military as compared to civilians (not much difference), I go down to the train station and am confronted by Navy recruitment ads.



It's all glamour, no divorce and suicide rates here, not even a mention of death as a possible job hazard despite some rather challenging missions packed into a day. Don't military personnel in countries that are not at war ever consider that between "launch torpedos" and "prepare to surface", a thousand things could prevent you from surfacing, say a couple of mines or depth charges; and that "dinner under the stars" sometimes means being shot at?

I'm getting the picture that this country is defended by boy scouts who get to go home to mummy every night.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It takes a woman


This is the Christmas tableau at the suburban mall down the road from where I live, the Christmassy scene where parents stand their kids against for a photo. It's the Singapore equivalent of having your kid sit on Santa's lap and getting a pix. I have no idea who this lady is, I don't think she's Mrs Claus since Santa is conspicuously absent. I think she's the Fairy Godmother.

I think I could warm up to this little old lady. This Fairy Godmother isn't all about ball gowns; instead, she's all about books. She's obviously a reader, with a shelf full of books behind her, and more on the floor. Not a single toy in sight. I think she's better for the kids than Santa.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ready for Christmas


Christmas last year came right after the 100-day mourning period following my father-in-law's sudden passing so the festive season was rather muted -- I put up the dogs' stockings but not the Christmas tree and didn't have a wreath on the door.

This year, all the works are up -- and before Thanksgiving and Hari Raya Haji even. I think what's making things really Christmassy isn't so much the tree and the fairy lights but the dog wearing antlers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not all subs are evil

Boo hoo, Neil Gaiman hates subs. From his blog: When I was a journalist, one of the things that stopped me wanting to spend the rest of my life journalisting was sub-editors who made me feel embarrassed by carefully introducing mistakes or slight distortions into things I'd written, or into headlines.

Thank god he liked my Tshirt first.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things that make me smile, #2,311

Being able to remember the choreography in dance class, and then being able to keep up with the teacher when everyone gave up and stopped following, matching him move for move until we're the last two left standing, err dancing.

It is so nice not to be the class duffer for once

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's not what it seems

A copy of Mein Kampf tossed carelessly onto a taxi dashboard. Like it's telling you that the cabby isn't driving a taxi because he got laid off from his job but he's some PhD candidate or something.

Was he reading it, I asked the cabby as I paid the fare at the end of the ride.

Yes, he said, a little self-consciously. Why, did I find it surprising, he asked.
Well, it's not light reading, I answered. The cabby's reply was that he wanted to know why Hitler did what he did. He's a asshole, said L (Hitler, not the cabby), you don't need a few thousand pages to tell you that.

Guess some people like to find things out the long, hard way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Things that make me smile, #2,310

The aunty seated next to me on the aisle seat of the bus, when I had to interrupt her close reading of a prayer book so that I could get past her and off the bus, told me to have a nice day at work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things that make me smile, #2,309

Watching through a bus window a woman walking two fluffy white dogs. The Westie-looking one was straining at its leash, trying to get at a flock of pigeons that were taunting it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Poop patrol


I've spent enough dollars at the pet shop so they gave me a free gift with purchase -- a little plastic cylinder that holds a roll of plastic poop bags, along with several refills of poop bags. I guess it's the pet shop's version of corporate responsibility -- all that dog food they sold has to come out the other end.

I think I should put it round Roop's neck and send him round to all the irritating dog walkers who never pick up. Look at this charmer, isn't his earnest face more personable and effective than a sign that merely warns you of a fine if you litter?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Inside Rupert's Brain



Although Rupert is quite possibly the sweetest dog I've ever had, he is also a Dog of Very Little Brain. So that's why I giggled when I saw on the library shelf a book entitled Inside Rupert's Brain. It also helped that it was a very small book.



When I pulled it out of the shelf and saw the cover, it had a picture of Murdoch's face on it. It was about that Rupert. And the moment was lost.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Neil Gaiman likes my Tshirt


He said so as he looked up while signing my battered, yellowed copy of Good Omens. I had given up finding an ankh pendant so I used a fabric crayon and drew an ankh onto a black tee. Incidentally, earlier, the cute guy in front of me in the queue to get in also liked my Tshirt. Then his girlfriend showed up and that was the end of the conversation.

I asked Mr Gaiman if it wasn't too much cheek signing a book of which he only wrote half. I had brought a whole bag full of everything Gaiman that I own but we were allowed to offer only one book per person for Mr Gaiman's autograph. So I chose Good Omens, it was the first Gaiman I ever read, the first time I ever knew he existed. Mr Gaiman owes Mr Prachett a great deal. I didn't get into the Sandman until much later -- I had missed out on comics in my childhood because my mother wouldn't let me read them, she thought I should read "real" books rather than stuff where the text comes out of mouths in balloons. I wonder what Mr Gaiman would say to her.

Anyway, Mr Gaiman's response was that he was proud of his half of Good Omens, and who knows, maybe Terry Prachett wouldn't have come up with such a great book if he, Neil Gaiman, didn't write half of it.

L chose Anansi Boys to be signed, and he wanted the dedication to be for: "Queeni, Adeline". "Queeni??" Mr Gaiman looked up. "My daughter," answered L, but never explaining that the daughter in question wasn't human.

We had queued for an hour, maybe an hour and a half for the signing. L said sniffily that he didn't do this even for Elton John. The truth was that it was pelting down so we couldn't leave anyway. After the signing, we ran across to a nearby restaurant. After some wine and before the food arrived, the rain lessened, and L wondered if he should go back to the Gaiman signing queue. It should have petered out by now and what's there to stop you from joining the queue again, with another book?

A bouncer, that's what. Mr Gaiman's minders put the guy at the end of the queue so they knew that was the end of the queue. But L pleaded, it's our anniversary and he wanted Gaiman to sign his wife's Sandman omnibus collection as a present.

And whaddaya know, bouncers have heart and L was waved through. Mr Gaiman looked up at him and remembered: "Ah, Queeni, Adeline?" And that was the point at which L became a Gaiman groupie. The Man remembered.

My copy of Coraline was left unsigned in the bag but what Mr Gaiman did was to draw two button eyes on an illustration of The Doll's House -- kinda like killing two birds with one stone.

So now I'm not the only Neil Gaiman groupie in the house. And the next time Mr Gaiman returns, It's L who will will suffer ankh angst for a Sandman costume.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ankh angst

It was pointed out to me that the confluence of obtaining tickets to a Neil Gaiman event on Halloween evening is a sign from the Endless Ones that I should go in costume as a Gaiman character. Death from his Sandman series was the glaringly obvious choice -- short of the kohl and ankh pendant, I already had most of the get-up.

It shouldn't be that hard to find an ankh, I thought, as I set off to hit all the trendy streetwear shops downtown. I even tried two suburban malls. I was, err, deadly wrong. I found enough skulls to fill the killing fields, enough crosses to ward off a whole other world of vampires. But no ankhs. I also found out that the trendy 'in' pendant now also looks just like my front door padlock, complete with a key -- if I'd only slung that round my neck instead of using it to lock my door, I'd actually be very hip. I also found that Ican be very 'in' if I wore L's car key around my neck.

I just can't find an ankh outside of Egypt. My next choice is dress as Delirium. Also easy enough -- spray colour my hair orange and purple, and mess it up. But then it was pointed out to me that people would just think I'm going as myself on a bad hair day.

I think I'll just use fabric paint to draw an ankh on my black top. Otherwise, ankhless, people will just think I'm going as Neil Gaiman.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The elephant in the room

I don't know how some of my colleagues do it -- cover a ministerial conference and file on the creation of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and its mission to promote and protect human rights in Asean. All done with a perfectly straight face while behaving oneself in a roomful of ministers as Burma shuffles her feet in the corner of the room.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wave motion

... because that's how Fortune rocks you.

First off, the disclaimer is that I work in a place with people whom PR professionals feel the need to make nice to, thus resulting sometimes in free donuts, free concert tickets and travel junkets.

And that's when Fortune starts you on an up and down cycle.

Neil Gaiman appears at the Singapore Writers Festival the coming weekend. Tickets to the event are free. But it's the same collocation of if you need to know how much something costs, you can't afford it: If you need to know where and how to get hold of those free tickets, there won't be any left to get.
Score: -1.

Someone posts on the e-bulletin board at work, hoping for Gaiman tickets. Maybe someone had returns, she hoped. I add my name to the wishlist. If someone can get lucky there, I could try and get lucky too.
Score: Hope springs eternal.

My company is one of the sponsors of the festival. So we received some complimentary tickets. To be divided among 3,000 staff across the group. Of which 2,999 are probably Gaiman fans, 2,990 the rabid variety, especially the graphic artists in various artrooms in the building. Fastest fingers to email corporate communications win.
Score: Improving.

I was off for two days. And came back to find that I've scored tickets to Who Killed Amanda Palmer. There're only single tickets to the Gaiman talk on fantasy novels. But that's OK. Who Killed Amanda Palmer was the event I really wanted, and I could give up my place on the wait list for the other events.
Score: Yay!

I also came back to find an email saying that there're free tickets for the New York Philharmonic. On the night that I was offf. So I could have gone, something I couldn't possibly do on a worknight. The email came on the day that I was off. So I didn't see the email. Missed NY Phil on their Beethoven night. That I was informed that they did the Egmont Overture as an encore didn't help.
Score: Fortune gives with the right hand but raps your knuckles sharply with the left.

My supervisor messages that there's a press trip to Krabi. It's smallish, very exclusive, guests are being flown there by private jet. Over the weekend of the Gaiman events. Do I put myself in the draw for the trip? I felt guilty about not using the tickets that was given to me.
Score: swinging. Fortune is really effing with me today.

Husband practically berates me over the phone. Put your name in the Krabi ballot, he thundered. Neil Gaiman will always write another book. You'll never have the chance to fly to Krabi on a private jet for a spa and sea sports weekend.
Score: still guilty but hopeful. If Fortune had smiled on me for the Gaiman tickets, maybe she'd be even nicer with Krabi.

Only three people are in the ballot for Krabi. That's a one in three chance.
Score: on the upswing

I did not pick the short straw.
Score: I still have Neil Gaiman.

Friday, October 23, 2009

One born every minute

The other evening, I was walking through the HDB estate across from my office when all the stray cats hanging about there came running up to me, meowing expectantly. Clearly, there's a cat feeder who goes there regularly and they must have mistook me for her.

I would have thought that the smell of two dogs on me would have driven off any stray, street-smart cats, I told my colleagues.

It's the SPCA T-shirt I was wearing, one said. "Cats can read," she laughed.

Nah, I have "sucker animal lover" in neon on my forehead that only strays can read, laughed another colleague.

Sigh. That welcome sign that's only visible to animals, mentioned by my mother in the previous post, has now somehow plastered itself to my forehead.

So what was one to do but to go to the provision shop at the end of the street for cans of Whiskas.

I challenge you to say no to a hungry animal that's looking expectantly at you. It's much harder than winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

That or there's one born every minute.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding the lost


This is Rupert jumping up at Jacky, a black mix of terrier and indeterminate something else, who lives in the next block, when he and he and his human dropped in for a visit.

We meet quite regularly on our respective walks downstairs, where Jacky sometimes gets let off leash -- he only runs speedy circles round his human, never away from her. A couple of days ago, we heard her shouting, looked out the window and saw him dashing off with his human in pursuit, and thought uh oh, he's made a break for it.

Only to hear scratching at our front door. Jacky made a break only to run up two flights of stairs up to our flat. He'd clearly remembered the way from that one previous visit.

My mother thinks that the flashing neon sign, the one that says "lost animals welcome" -- visible only to animals such as the lost collarless boxer that showed up at her driveway, the terrapin that somehow crawled up an adjourning six-foot monsoon drain into her garden, and the stray cat that crawled under my dad's car to breathe its last -- has now somehow moved from her house to my flat.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yes, he can

When I got into work on Friday, a colleague who was monitoring the wires looked up from her computer and informed me -- with a somewhat taken aback expression -- that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm ashamed to say that my first reaction was: "For doing what?"

It's not that I'm not an Obama fan. I am. It shouldn't matter to someone on the opposite side of the globe who the US president is since we have no say about the matter. But yes, I was happy that he was elected. And was one of the interested millions watching his inauguration on satellite TV.

But I really don't know what he's done so far to win the Nobel Peace Prize, especially as nominations reportedly closed on Feb 1, and there really wasn't much time for him to do anything by that date. An opinion piece in The Guardian newspaper in the UK remarked that he probably won it solely on the basis of not being Bush. Well, that I can live with.

It didn't help that the current issue of The Economist that I just got in the mail on the same day has a feature on Obama's mounting woes, with the week's political cartoon showing him struggling with an unwieldy Afghanistan, and after he had managed that, only to be confronted by a weighty Pakistan.

Other Nobel laureates worked long and hard before they were honoured: Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, last year's winner Mohammad Yunnus. Even Jimmy Carter got his some 20 years after leaving the White House and Al Gore had to share his with a whole bunch of other people.

That Obama got his on the hopes of what he can achieve rather than what he has already done can only make us wonder what else he might win once he's been in the White House to actually achieve mighty things.

Oh, and my next reaction on the news: Has anybody got a soundbite reaction out of Bush yet? Nyah, nyah, nyah.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nyah nyah nyah

It's bad enough that the episodes of the Ellen Degeneres talkshow that are being broadcast on the free-to-air station here is six months behind the US screening.

It's even worse that they are shown at 3am. (I catch them because I happen to watch TV at that time of the night after coming home from night shift.)

But it is unforgivable when a whole episode goes missing.

I was watching the show last week when I saw on the little crawler that flashes the next day's guest: Portia Di Rossi. Who also happens to be Ellen's spouse. Now that would be a nice episode to watch, I thought.

The episode never materialised. Play It Safe Broadcast Corporation didn't just apply their usual (insert sarcasm here) light censorship hand, they took an axe to the whole episode.

To say that I was piffed off was an understatement.

But then, I figured there was no point getting angry, writing in or complaining. Play It Safe Broadcast Corporation would only say that they had to follow the Media Development Authority's broadcast guidelines on undesirable content or risk paying a fine.

They probably thought they got away with fooling an audience of maybe 5 people at 3am. Maybe they thought that we didn't notice the crawler. Or that we blinked and missed Portia's guest spot. Or maybe they thought we're stupid.

We're not. We know what you did. And we know how to YouTube. And there it was. Two people glowing with happiness when they talked about their wedding day because they could share their life together. A gay couple who outshone a straight couple when they played The Newlywed Game, the game that tests how well you know your partner.

What's more morally reprehensible or more of a threat to the insitution of marriage: a gay talkshow host who proudly introduces her wife on the show, or a straight talkshow host who recently confessed to having sex with his staff when he was in the middle of a long-term relationship with his partner?

Suck it up, Prop 8 and Section 377a. And suck it up, Play It Safe Broadcast Corporation.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mathematically speaking


This isn't my usual reading material. I only picked up Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry because the Keats in the title intrigued me. And the blurb seemed kind of interesting -- the exploration of symmetry as a mathematical concept. Symmetry has always been key in music, art, dance -- forms that I'm familiar with -- but apparently, symmetry is also the central idea in the theory of relativity, quantum physics and string theory.

I'm no mathematician. I took Maths at AO Level in junior college and failed my first year exams with the astounding grade of 3% (at least one mark was awarded out of pity than for getting an answer correct). The Maths Head of Department hauled me up and sorrowfully pointed out that it was the lowest Maths exam score ever in the history of National Junior College. You need to understand that NJC proudly produced a President's Scholar every year. Up in the assembly hall was a plaque with the names of the scholars, one, sometimes two, a year, every year, in the history of NJC. That year, the year was already inscribed, it was only waiting for a name to go alongside it. I'm sure my record-setting math exam score had nothing to do with it, but my cohort was the only batch that failed to produce a President's Scholar. There was no name to go next to that year. How our principal must have been humiliated.

Anyway, I digress. But not far enough to emphasize that maths is just not my kinda thing. But I'm beginning to realise that it can be an interesting subject and not the dreary quadratic equations I was forced to solve. This month's National Geographic had a really eye-opening article on how origami is more than folding paper cranes, and is a mathematical puzzle involving an algorithm for folding a piece of paper into a three-dimensional object. And it was origami that helped engineers figure out how to fold an airbag into a car dashboard, how to unfold a telescope in space, and extend a heart stent implanted in an artery. Gosh, I should have paid more attention in math class.

Still, the book was hard going in places where mathematical formula were involved. Those were the bits I skipped. But still, it was amazing. For instance, I realised that in calculating frisbee trajectory, my dog was actually working out calculus -- the quickest route between two points. My stars, Rupert, that dumbo who still can't get it right where not to pee, is a mathematical genius.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Community reading


I picked this up at the library, it's one of those fluffy books you know you'll enjoy without much effort. What made it really enjoyable was a post-it note stuck to the index page which listed in short the 100 reasons why dogs make you happy. The post-it note added two more reasons. How thoughtful of that reader. Now I feel like I have to keep this chain going and add reasons of my own. It shouldn't be too difficult. I have expert help at my ankles.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

God goes high tech

In a previous life, I used to work in a publishing company that also had a tele-marketing department. That was really just two kids sitting down with a phone directory and methodically calling every phone number listed in it.

Now, tele-marketeers have computers to do the dialling for them. Some even have recorded messages to do the hard-selling.

What I didn't expect was for God to do the same. L picked up the phone today and was somewhat startled to hear a recorded message informing him that Jesus loves him, and that if he wanted to know more, he could call a certain number. Thank goodness he didn't. It could be a long-distance call scam, and god knows how much it'll cost to call Heaven.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's not happy. Period.

There's a feminine product here that has followed its American cousin in using a new advertising tagline: "Have a happy period."

It could only have been dreamt up by a male advertising guy. Because if he were to bleed from his penis for a week, he'd understand that there's nothing happy about periods. You cramp, you bloat and you bloody *bleed*. I bloat so bad even my fingers swell and I can't wear anything that requires doing up buttons or a zip at the back because the bunch of bananas that my hands have become can't manage them. Not a happy camper at all.

Never trifle with a menstruating woman. She can bleed for a week and still not die.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Getting into a good book


Was cruising the library shelves under C for Artemis Fowl books (Eoin Colfer) but he wasn't on the shelf so I ended up with JM Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year. And it turned out to be the most amazingly structured book I've ever read, possibly outshining Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.

You've got an author writing a serious essay, who gets the pretty girl upstairs to type it for him, and her boyfriend's suspicion over her new pastime. Three narratives going on concurrently, down the page. I don't know whether to read down the page and jump from one narrative to another or to read one narrative straight through to the end and then go back to the beginning of the book for another.

I am going to have so much pleasure reading this book, and I know I'll read it more than once, and in different ways.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dumbing down

One of the things I got to do with four days at home was to watchTV, which included a lot of quiz shows. Does anyone remember Magnus Magnusson in Mastermind? Now, that was a real quiz show. I can't remember how much it paid out, but the point wasn't really winning money but the laurel wreath of being really, really smart.

As opposed to the winners in Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader now on TV. You could win a million dollars by knowing the answers to the stuff you were *supposed to know* when you were 10 years old. It must be why we've gotten collectively stupider over the years, when you could win a million bucks for knowing what the measurement oz stands for instead of boning up to be quizzed on say, sexual politics and power play in Shakespeare's tragedies. Or string theory. Or the periodic table. What's the point of being learning so much nowadays when popular TV has taught you that it doesn't really pay?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

No place like home

I had worked enough public holidays and Sundays to accumulate enough off days for a long four-day weekend. Much of it was spent with a dog on my lap. This, I discovered, was an automatic effect. For instance, the deck chair came with a self-regulating furry seat-belt. The minute you sat down on it, a furry seat-belt will instantly drape itself lovingly and protectively across your lap. How you want to remove your seat-belt so as to get up to get another cup of tea is a different matter altogether.

I don't spend enough evenings at home watching the sunset. I think having a dog on your lap actually helps the sun go down a little better, even if the sun can do it on its own without any help on your part.

I also organised the music in my iTunes, and have rearranged a new folder named Tenors. Which made me realise something -- why does Italian sound so magnificent when sung? I don't even mean the Puccini and the Verdi arias, but the fact that Il Divo's Unbreak My Heart sounds a whole lot more resounding in Italian than the original Toni Braxton English version. Same with Paul Potts' Memory, Lloyd Webber's English version from Cats didn't have the oomph that the Italian version did, as beautiful as it was.

The other realisation was that I have 4 or 5 different versions of Ave Maria. For some reason, every tenor who records a CD feels that he must include it, and always the Schubert version. Why?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dog nap

I have a Peantus cartoon strip clipped out of the paper from many, many years ago. Each panel shows Snoopy sleeping, in a different position, curled up, stretched out on his front, on his back with his paws in the air. In the last panel, Charlie Brown is explaining to his teacher that he didn't do his homework because he was too busy watching his dog sleep.

I could say the same, just watching mine. Rupert had his chin draped over the edge of the bed, so as he fell deeper into sleep, his head lolled forwards, and the motion awoken him a little. When that happened, he wagged to himself and then fell asleep again. And then his head dropped again and he was awoken again and he wagged to himself again and the whole cycle continued. I never saw a dog who enjoyed napping so much that he'd wag in his sleep.

The cats must have been on to something a long time ago. Catnap is a legit word, but not dognap. And kidnap is a bad thing for kids.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Giving voice



I don't know what it is about a soaring tenor voice that gives it the capacity to make you go weak at the knees. Or sit up and take notice. Well, both, really -- even if it seems like mutually exclusive actions. Like the Three Tenors, Bocelli. Put a few tenors together like Il Divo and you've got the effect quadrupled. And it also helps that some, like Josh Groban, are nice to look at. It also doesn't matter if others, like Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts, aren't much to look at. The voice is everything.

Then I stumbled across a tenor boy band that can give Il Divo a run for their money -- The Priests. Thus called because they are priests. Irish priests. Catholic priests. Irrevocably single priests. Lordy, I gotta stop being such a tenor slut. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another dog day

When I got into the office and booted up my PC, a single strand of white dog hair was very noticeable against the black keyboard. I don't know how Rupert's fur can be found in the office he's never been in. But I didn't brush it off. I looked at it and smiled, and placed it gently on another part of the keyboard where it wouldn't be knocked off as I worked. I like having my dog with me. Even if it's just a piece of his fur. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More dog days


Jon Katz has more explaining to do. I started on Dog Days where, after the flyleaf dedication and before the title page is his note: "No dogs die in this book", a nod to a promise made to a reader in his previous book.

No, but a donkey dies in Chapter One. That's bad enough. And a dog with a troubled past that has romped through his past two books is not in this book, already dead before the narrative begins. There's a short backstory in Chapter Three -- it was put down after it bit several people.

That's already quite sad even if it's not exactly Old Yeller and l disagree with Katz: a dog does die -- even if it's offstage -- in the book.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And after that


Quite by chance, I started on A Home for Rose after weeping over The Art of Racing in the Rain and was comforted right at the preface where the author says that no dog dies in this book, a promise that he made to a reader. Whew.

L eyed the pile of books on my nightstand and I told him The Art of Racing in the Rain was particularly brilliant but I also added the disclaimer that the dog dies. He dropped the book immediately like it bit him. Maybe he should start on the "no dog dies" book first.

So he started on The Dogs of Bedlam Farm. And it was only when we were both halfway through our respective books that we realised we were reading the same book -- just different titles for the US and UK editions. I've seen books that have different covers for different sides of the Atlantic, but never different titles before.

WTF. I bought two versions of the same book. Jon Katz had better explain his publisher's motives or he owes me another book.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Racing through


I stayed up all night and read The Art of Racing In the Rain right through at one go. Let me say this first. The dog dies. But it's a fictionalised novel. I wept anyway. And had to get up a few times to pet my sleeping dogs. All the events are what Enzo the dog recounts the day before he dies. Still, it's best book I've read in quite a while. Move over,
Marley.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dog days



I walked into the bookshop to get a book. Just one book. It's a dog-related book, which meant that I had to go into the pet section. And of course I walked out with more than just one dog book, my credit card about $200 lighter. Of course you saw that coming.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More nutty ads


Given that Avalon is where undead kings wander around, I'd think twice before putting this in my mouth.

Incidentally, there's also a condo here called Avalon. Maybe Arthurian faerie folk co-exist peaceably there with human Singaporeans. I'm not sure that I want to live there though. You'll never know who's coming to dinner.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shame

Say you're sitting at home and someone a few deities short of a full pantheon says that God told him to swim across the lake to gatecrash your house and warn you that someone will kill you. As a result of that, *you* get sentenced to 17 months' imprisonment. (And he gets 7 years' hard labour.)

Now, the EU is preparing sanctions against Burma that include restricting trade with state-owned firms and barring top junta officials from entering the bloc. Singapore's Foreign Ministry merely expresses "disappointment" at the sentence that Aung San Suu Kyi received. And the country continues to Burmese gems and lets the junta leaders fly in for medical treatment.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Michael Jackson

Finally. Buried. Laid to rest. Took a while, didn't it? You'd think they'd bury a body before it started to decay. Funny thing is, the alleged burial is all over the British tabloids and Indian papers, but there's hardly a peep from the US press.

I didn't blog about it when he died. I think millions of people, bloggers or otherwise, the world over had said enough. There was no "where were you when you heard" moment for me. He wrote some good music, was an even better dancer but I didn't think much of him as a singer. To me, a greater voice was silenced when John Lennon was shot, when Freddie Mercury died.

Poor Farah Fawcett. Died on the same day as Michael Jackson, and after a prolonged battle with cancer. And buried within days without any hoo-ha. I guess angels don't need as much fanfare as kings of pop.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Keeping watch

Yesterday, the neighbour downstairs held the annual festival to honour Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. They set up the altar a little distance away in the garden pavilion that was out of our line of sight so we didn't see the rituals but we had a grandstand view of the entertainment afterwards, which included a puppet show and some dancing lions.

Here's the three dogs (L is born in the Year of the Dog, he considers himself one of the Three Dogmigos that live in this house) watching a few very big cats.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Let's get real


First, there was yogurt with "real fruit", then almond-flavoured soya milk with "real almonds", then dog food with "real meat".

I could have gone round the supermarket snapping pictures of "real" food.

I've had mock meat before, made from soy gluten for vegetarians, but if fruit and almonds weren't real, then what's the alternative? Pretend fruit and bluff nuts? Or worse, meat masquerading as fruit since soy can be disguised as meat?

So what are you having for dinner today? Real food?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Only in Singapore...

Will there be a Chinese national manning the Indian prata stall at the food court.

And no, she couldn't toss a prata, she could only reheat pre-made ones. And if you wanted thosai, that had to be freshly made, you had to wait till the regular Indian cook got back.

Happy National Day.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

More incredible TV ads

Voiceover to scenes of grass rustling in the wind, ocean waves crashing in a swell
"You won't always see me...
But you will feel me...
For I am here...
For a higher purpose..."

You'd think that God Himself was advertising.
Nope. Just the Air Force. Almost as good as God.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

What's in my Walkman


Once in a blue moon, there comes a new CD release that you know you won't be wasting your money on even if you bought it ... err, what's the aural equivalent of sight unseen? Sound unheard?

Like the Travelling Wilburys, Chickenfoot's pedigree is enough to make you sit up and take notice. Quite literally, they are Satriani meets Van Halen meets Red Hot Chilli Peppers. What is there to go wrong? In a nutshell, they sound like Satriani with singing. Finally, a Satriani album you can sing to.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Losing half your audience

The TV ad for the Volkswagen Golf G77 shows the car doing some slick manoeuvres and then it fades out to the words:
"Men drive it.
Boys dream about it."

Either the creative director was a man or they are not interested in selling to women.

Somebody has forgotten that "women hold up half the sky". I hope their sales fail and their mothers/wives/sisters/daughters give them hell.

And their competitors run a similar ad with their car doing the nifty moves, the same tagline, only it cuts away to final scene where a woman steps out of the car. Oh, ok, she can remove her crash helmet and shake out her long, blonde tresses....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Culture shock

The ongoing Singapore Heritage Festival has a lot of events going on all over the island. Some are pretty good, like Chinese hand puppet shows and Indian dance performances.

Some are well ... you wonder what it's trying to achieve. The instalment at the shopping centre near where I live takes the form of an exhibition on childbirth and how the different cultures in Singapore welcome a new baby. And it draws this whopping conclusion -- that a child is the glue that holds a family together.


Which I find incredible and also somewhat insulting. I know enough families who have children that have become unstuck. And I know families who have no children and who are doing fine, thank you very much.

I have two children -- only they each have four legs and a waggy tail -- and while their needs take centrestage in the family scheme of things, this family -- any family -- would be on dangerous ground if a child is required to bind it together.

I do understand though, what a newborn means. But surely it can't be the be all and end all of family living. Children, in themselves, are sort of worthless. They are practically useless and must be cared for. Their importance lies in the long term: the promise of things to come in the future -- much like a Warren Buffet investment.

Given that National Day is approaching, I have a feeling that all this is part of the propaganda to address the falling birthrate and a sneaky way to press my womb into National Service.

Maybe I'll just adopt another dog.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chain of errors

When I cancelled a credit card earlier this year, I had forgotten that there was a cash guard insurance policy riding on it. It was only brought to my attention in May when the insurance company sent me a letter when it failed to deduct the annual premium from the now dead credit card.

I had been paying them S$70 every year without realising it, for the past 6 or 7 years!

So I got back to them and a very nice customer service officer sorted it out and said that they could attach the policy onto the new credit card. And reminded me to check my credit card statements. Since this was an annual deduction, that must have been why I overlooked it, and forgot all about the policy, he suggested. And since the premium deduction was imminent, he suggested that I email them the new credit card number instead of going through the usual route where he would send me a form, I would fill it, and send it back, which would take weeks to process.

And so I did. And received a return email from customer service which said that they have my new credit card number and would forward the details to their billing department.

Well, the billing department must have been out of the loop because the next thing I got was a letter saying that my policy had been cancelled. But if I wanted to reinstate it, I could do this, that or the other. Which involved calling them. On the customer service hotline. Which takes you through a loop through eternity before you can even talk to someone human. And there's no way of calling the nice customer service officer who handed your problem. You had to call the central line. Which loops through pressing numbers for everything except what you needed.

In the meantime, someone else from the same insurance company called me, trying to flog other insurance products. Since I had someone human on the phone, I directed her attention to my problem, adding that I'm obviously not in the mood to buy anything from your company till it fixes that problem.

She was as nice as the first guy. She had the relevant people sort it out, and called back to check that it was sorted out. And I thought it was.

Until on Thursday, I got a letter saying that the policy was reinstated and that henceforth, the monthly premium would be deducted from the new credit card.

Except that this was supposed to be S$70 annually. Not monthly.

Back I went to customer service hotline's runaround hell. I sent them an email too. At least when you hit send on an email, it does go somewhere. Unlike voice recorded phone hotlines.

And today, I get another letter. This time they got things right. Policy reinstated, annual premium deduction. Yada yada. No apologies. No signature. Computer-generated letter.

Do they really think I would buy their products the next time they call?

Listen, AIG: If you can't take care of the small things, you can't settle the big ones.

Their bailout cheque should have been this:

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Turn-down surprise


In five-star hotels, you get a chocolate mint on your pillow. In two-dog homes, you get a knobby hard chew-bone. Always check the pillow before you rest your head.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Yoga With Dogs positions



The human is maintainining a tree (supine) position, one leg bent, with the sole of that leg on the thigh of the other leg.

The schnauzer is in downward dog (prone).

The fox terrier, as always, is in something of his own making. We call this one the grasshopper kungfu pose.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Last dinosaur left standing

I should have seen it coming. A month after my ISP migrated its email servers, it sent me a letter saying that by end-June, it would no longer continue to offer dial-up services. Because the nation had gone wired and broadband was easily available etc. Basically, it means that I'm a dinosaur and it's not worth their while to service me.

I like being a dinosaur. When I moved in, there was already a phone line and I had no reason to switch broadband because I don't surf the Net much. I spend like maybe an average of 15 minutes on it a day, mostly for email, update this blog, follow other blogs. And dial-up suited all that just fine. Not to mention that it cost peanuts. The cheapest broadband package comes at twice that price and with all the hoops and whistles that I don't need.

Of course, I could do much more if I had broadband. But the point is that I don't want to do much more. An average of 15 minutes a day on the Net suits me just fine (and this includes loading pages on a 56K modem). I don't want to spend hours on YouTube viewing friends' baby videos, I don't want to make new friends on Facebook and poke old friends. If I had broadband, I'd be doing all that and given that I still only have 24 hours a day, that's less time I have for other things -- like making friends in the flesh and visiting friends to laugh at their babies' actual antics.

If I really want to connect via broadband, I have free WiFi at the library, thanks to my tax dollars at work. But the real reason why I haven't got broadband at home is because when we moved in almost three years ago, we wanted to get a broadband/cable TV/phone line package that the telcos offer. But we didn't have a cable-ready TV. Hell, we didn't *have* a TV. My parents gave us a spare portable set that got its reception from rabbit-ears antennae. It was supposed to be temporary. But with a procrastinator in charge of getting the TV and the broadband package, what was temporary extended to almost three years. So blame it all on L.

If this blog becomes extinct after June 30, it's because the dinosaur's Net access has been pulled out from under its feet.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good afternoon


And this was how Roop got woken up. He had gone into his crate for an afternoon nap, turned over in his sleep, rolled around a bit, and then forgot which way was up when he opened his eyes.

The laws of gravity do not apply to those who are not of this earth.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Good morning


I had the camera-enabled mobile phone on the nightstand next to me, and this was what I woke up to. A furry and somewhat concerned face. Concerned over his bladder's contents, that is.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Three heads are better than two


It's either a pathetic individual or a dog parent who will post about dog toothbrushes back to back. If Friday's find of a double-headed toothbrush was brilliant, then today's find of a triple-headed one was beyond brilliant. (Just don't ask me what I was doing at the pet store twice in two days. Those dogs sure get spoilt.)

This toothbrush has been christened The Anaconda. Just right for fox terrier teeth so stained, he looks like he's been chewing tobacco. Actually, his teeth look pearly white, but that's only on the outside. It's when he yawns and you see the inside of his teeth that he really needs some help from The Anaconda.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Instruments of torture


That's what HRH would call the toothbrushes. I found a new dog toothbrush at the pet store yesterday. It comes with two heads, designed to be able to brush both the inside and outside of a dog's teeth. Previously, with the so-called dog toothbrush that doesn't look very different from a human toothbrush, I could only brush the outer side of the teeth efficiently.

L calls this new two-headed toothbrush The Cobra. You have no idea how brilliant I found it to be -- almost as brilliant I think, as liver-flavoured antibiotics that don't have to be disguised or catapulted into the throat of an uncooperative dog.

Rupert thinks the new toothbrush just a new fangled eating implement that lets him swallow more poultry-flavoured toothpaste.

People generally think of great inventions as something that has made life easier and better. Well, I wouldn't quibble that the wheel is generally a good thing to have; that air-conditioning makes life comfortable in the tropics; and sliced bread is quite handy too.

But I still think liver-flavoured dog pills and double-headed dog toothbrushes rank up there with the wheel.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Day off at home

I have the day off and I'm spending it at home, stuck to the couch, because all my days off the past few weeks have been spent running errands and doing housework. So I'm feeling lazy today and in lieu of writing, am posting an at-home lazy-type picture instead.



Notice how HRH has the spot of honour on Sucker Dad's lap while the minion is relegated to the floor cushion?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mundane existence

I haven't blogged lately and this entry has got nothing terribly interesting to say -- it's really just about how a new underground line opened on Thursday; so now, my daily commute to work has gone from a train and bus combination to a weather-proof all-train combination involving a switch on three lines, shaving about 15-20 minutes of travel time.

Like that is really rivetting and like that really matters to you.

I need to get a life.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In a pickle

But in a good way. I once posted about a hard to find British delight that I'm quite partial to. I could only get it at an upscale supermarket downtown, which catered mostly to expatriates.

Then the supermarket down the road that I go to remodelled, and has expanded its range of offerings to include a lot more British and Australian foods. That must say quite a bit about the changing tastes of Singaporeans.

At first, it was a bit frustrating to shop there as they were remodelling while still open for business, and shelves were being shifted about so the whole layout of the place has changed. It's disconcerting because you thought you know where to find everything in your regular supermarket but now nothing's where it used to be.

But today, something made up for the confusion -- Branston pickle, in three sizes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dying profession

A couple of years ago, we were shocked that B, a friend of ours, in his mid-40s then, was hospitalised for a heart attack and had to have a quadruple bypass. He worked in public relations.

Last year, E, another friend, never regained consciousness after a massive heart attack. He was barely 40. He worked in public relations.

Last night, we met up with M, who said that he'd quit his job and was taking a break. He then told us that he had a minor stroke last year, and he's only in his mid-30s. He realised that there was more to life than work. His job? Public relations.

Not that hard to see the thread running through these three individuals. And that's why L isn't going back into PR. Not that he hasn't tried. I just won't let him. He used to clock in 14, 15-hour days and his blood pressure would soar like a kite.

L mildly tried to remonstrate with me for putting my foot down. "Who are you to tell me what to do?"

"Your wife. The one who has to bury your corpse."

End of argument. Wife wins. As always.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pink party

There was no issue finding the place at all. We just followed the river of pink out of the tube station as soon as we got off the train.



Even the dogs came in pink.



L said I should get patented the slogan I had crayoned on our T-shirts. And then mass-produce them for sale. We had so many people coming up and asking if they could take photos of us. Must be what being a celebrity feels like.







Better, ie pro, pix here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In the pink



We're ready for Pink Dot.

I'm actually a little disappointed by the reactions of some people, friends even, to the event which would actually be to their benefit. Some are so caught up in the bitching in the community that they can't pull together for a common good. Others are so embittered and angst-ridden from years of injustice and unfairness that they're just plain cynical. Nobody ever helped them, so why help the cause?

It's the same Singaporean self-focused blinkered psyche that doesn't see the person behind, that lets them slam the door in the face of the person behind them instead of holding it open.

We've had years of courtesy campaigns, but it's less to do with good manners and more to do with the inability to look beyond our own noses.

Sometimes I wonder why I bothered to the extent of getting a pink Tshirt for the pink dress code and even personalising it. I mean, this shouldn't even be my battle.

But if nobody cared beyond their own noses, people would still be slaves, women still wouldn't be able to vote, and a black man wouldn't be the leader of the free world.

If not me, who? And if not now, when?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Infamous

There was some pop concert thing on the TV and a guy I didn't recognise was doing his stuff onstage.

"Who's he?" I asked L, who was watching.

"Chris Brown."

"Who's he?" Obviously, I don't follow latter-day pop.

"The guy who beat up Rihanna."

So he can sing, he can dance, he can do it all but that's what he's going to be remembered for. Serves him right. And it's not even like I like Rihanna's music. I still think she cribbed from New Order.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

I had to work today but was sent off fortified by cinnamon french toast with a heart-shaped centre.


Yup, it was a happy day.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Curtain protection

Over the weekend, the swine flu alert went up one notch. And practically the whole country switched into the SARS mode of a few years ago and put up the ring fences.

At work, we prepared to split our operations into two separate locations. Visitors had their temperatures taken and their contact numbers noted. That also applied to visitors at the hospital where my dad is. It is a facility for step-down care. It doesn't have an accident and emergency unit, so it does not take in unreferred outpatients, least of all sick Mexican tourists. But it stuck to the policies that the other fully fledged hospitals were implementing. Which also included a strict policy of one named visitor per patient was enforced.

Today, dad had to leave the facility to return to the hospital where his cardiologist is, for a follow-up appointment. When he returned to the step-down facility, he was considered as a readmitted patient. Simply because he had busted the ringfence. He had to be quarantined.

He was put back in the same bed, in the same room, with the same people.

So how was he isolated?

By having the curtains drawn round his bed.

And all because he breathed the air outside the ringfence.

And swine flu isn't even in the country.

The health minister called a press conference today and said that if nothing deteriorates, he will lower the flu alert one level, and this means no temperature taking and lifting the one-visitor rule at hospitals.

However, quarantine still applies to visitors entering the country from affected areas.

He didn't say if it applied to an old man who left one hospital for a few hours to see his doctor at another hospital.

And if a curtain round a bed can stave off germs like a N95 mask.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Gourmet dinner


L got inspired after watching Emeril Lagasse do a spot of guest cooking on the Martha Stewart Show. I don't know what the recipe is actually called, but it's best described as chicken layered with stuffing. As opposed to chicken stuffed with stuffing.

You basically cook up the "holy trinity", as the celebrity chef called it, of onions, carrots and celery in white wine and stock. Then you line a baking tray with pieces of bread, layer the veg over it, then layer some chicken fillet over that, then bung the whole thing in the oven.

And BAM, as Lagasse would say, chicken and stuffing. Without having to stuff anything. Easy as pie.