Monday, April 26, 2010

Giving voice

I went to Tempvs Fvgit yesterday. I've heard polyphonic sacred music before, but I've never seen it in a performance. What the group of six men did was to stand in a circle and sing. Which meant that each individual was singing in another person's face. It's sort of interactive, in the sense that you had to listen to your neighbour as well as yourself. And they had their arms draped over their neighbour's back or shoulders, so each person could literally feel the other breathing, and as they went on, you suddenly realised you weren't listening to six men singing but one organic entity with six voices. Lovely.

PS, this link might be better if you want a listen.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Some things are still best done the old-fashioned way -- with an old-school Haselblad camera using black and white film.

Pictures with thanks to Thomas Tan.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


When Iceland's economy died, its final wish was to have its ashes scattered all over Europe.
(attributed to a Facebook posting)

Monday, April 19, 2010

At the dog park

You want me to *run*?!

Queens do not run and chase frisbees. They have minions to do that for them.

It helps that the minion wants you to throw the frisbee till your arm drops off.

I know I've never met you before, and you're a spunky Jack Russell and all, but you need to know your place before the Queeni.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's not my bed, really

We took down the ikat cloth that used to hang over the bed from the carved wooden hanger -- I call it a hanger because I don't know what else to call it, it's a carved Indonesian wooden piece you hang weaves from to display them. Now, a very McGyver combination of binder clips and S hooks are holding up two Ikea LED lamps from it. I'm not sure if you can technically call it a lamp, it's LED lights embedded in a cardboard covered with fabric. You're supposed to roll it up and stand it up on its end so you get a cylinder of starlight, but I thought they looked prettier hung flat like a canopy of stars above the bed. The starlight effect doesn't come out with the idiot-proof camera's automatic flash.

Oh, and Queeni is lying on her spot under the aircon draft. And to let you know, the bed is hers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Real Madrid versus Barca

And we're not even talking football but potato chips. I can hardly wait for Liverpool versus Manchester United.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The joy of tax

It's surer than death. I received a letter from the IRAS dated April 3, outlining my provisional tax for the year of assessment 2010. The letter arrived on Saturday, so it took a full week to arrive -- which either shows how slow the post office is or that the IRAS did not pay for first-class next-day delivery.

April 3. A full 12 days ahead of the April 15 filing deadline, they are already telling me how much they expect to squeeze out of me. They are so out to get my money. Maybe they need it to pay for first-class postage.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sweet nothings

No real reason for this post, other than a surfeit of peanut brittle, chocolate drops and sugar cookies makes a pretty picture.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Welcoming foreign talent

The senior minister, at a community event where he presided as the constituency's MP over the weekend, urged Singaporeans to make immigrants feel welcome.

Well, I don't need to make them feel unwelcome -- because his government has already done that. I didn't really pay attention to the business side of the Budget report in Parliament in Februrary. I knew they revamped the scheme for issuing employment passes to foreign workers -- it's now more expensive for an employer to get a new Employment Pass or to renew an existing Employment Pass for a foreign worker, and also the quota of Singapore workers to foreign workers have changed -- all supposed to gear employers towards hiring local.

I didn't think it would concern me. I was dead wrong. Now, the restaurants in Little India are reportedly affected. Restaurateurs are having problems in the kitchen, which is usually helmed by a cook from India. This goes the same for zi char stalls and Chinese restaurants with a chef from China. No cook, no authentic food, no business. So they've got to hang on to the cook. But they can't hire more Singaporeans to renew the foreign cook's Employment Pass because there's only so much wait staff you need. And if it costs more to retain the cook's pass, of course the cost gets passed on to the customer.

This much I know from one of our reporters -- that at least one restaurant lost seven chefs in a span of two months when they were unable to renew their Employment Passes. The boss was told to switch those Employment Passes to S Passes. And S Pass-holders are capped at a ceiling of 25 per cent of a business’s total workforce.

And on a more personal note, my dance master, who is from India, is also now facing employment pass problems. He is hired to teach at a yoga school, and not unsurprisingly, a good half of the yoga teachers are from India. That probably means half of them will have to go. And wasn't welcoming foreign talent the mantra only yesterday?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

If music be the food of love, pay on

I just bought four concert tickets -- for Tempvs Fvgit (just one ticket, going alone because they do sacred music and L thinks that it'll be too churchy for him), T'ang Quartet (going alone again because L thinks that they're just a bunch of Nigel Kennedys, ie nothing more than spunky haircuts) and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (finally, a group that L agrees with me in that they're brilliant) -- and altogether, they cost me less than *one* cheap-seat ticket to Sam Mendes' The Tempest. From where Prospero could not be heard, I again add.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Tempest in the theatre

I enjoyed The Bridge Project's production of The Tempest even though it wasn't exactly my favourite Shakespeare play and even though Prospero could scarcely be heard from the cheap seats -- the second level circle where I was. Not that the $140 ticket was exactly cheap by my standards. If I didn't know the play and didn't know that the final scene had him asking the audience to release him with their applause, I wouldn't have clapped and he'd still be there now.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Preparing for a visitor

Last week, a banner went up at the bottom of our block of flats, saying that the residents warmly welcome the constituency's MP. That's a bit presumptuous, it assumes everybody in the block is eager to shake his hand. I haven't decided whether I want to meet him -- and tarik the hell out of him -- or put a rebel flag up on my door.

Then yesterday, there was a flyer in the mailbox, reminding of the time of his visit (this Sunday) and stating the purpose of his visit:
1) To get to know you.
2) To listen to your suggestions/problems, etc

Well then, this changes things slightly. If my MP wants to get to know me, then heck, I should let him get to know me. I have no problems for him to solve, I don't need help to find a job, don't care if I have a covered walkway all the way to the bus stop and train station. But I would like to know if we're selling arms to Burma.