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.