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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Bloggers outing -- karaoke!

Since I'm not supposed to blog about someone's wedding, I can't tell you about how I slipped into the sanctuary one minute before the bride entered, or about the very beautiful ceremony (or the boo-boos), or about the buffet lunch, or the cameraderie with fellow bloggers, or our photos.

Drinks and microphone
Instead, I'll talk about our karaoke session in the afternoon. We had been planning one for the longest time, but there were always scheduling conflicts. This time, the stars were in alignment, so we walked to the nearby KBox.

Our session lasted from 1:30pm to 5pm. I lost count of how many songs we sang. Almost all of the songs were Chinese. That's one thing that makes me feel weird about going to karaokes: it seems that people tend to sing Chinese songs.

I don't have a problem with Chinese songs. I listen to the occasional Sinopop, e.g. when it's played over someone else's radio. And I've attended enough karaoke sessions to memorise "小薇" (I think those are the characters), though not the more fun Hokkien version. I also learned that I liked "Superstar" from Taiwanese female pop group S.H.E. after an ex-colleague sang it, haha.

So given my limited knowledge of Chinese songs, I always feel like the odd one out when I sing my selection of English songs. Which can lead to the occasional bout of boredom. Of course, I could either increase my repertoire.

My playlist of the day: Air Supply's "All Out of Love" (accidentally keyed it in), Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight", "小薇", Andy Williams' "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (but gave up halfway because of the stupid video), Hoobastank's "The Reason" (darn it, I can't reach the high notes!), and t.A.T.u.'s "All the Things She Said".

And then it was a two-hour bus ride home.

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Party political broadcast -- round one

Singapore Democratic Party -- "We're not rich."
Workers' Party -- "Everyone wins!"
Singapore Democratic Alliance -- "Democracy -> multiparty (or is it multiparty -> democracy?) -> creativity -> good for Singapore."
People's Action Party -- "We've done it before, we'll do it again."

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Craving for durians

Every once in a while, I get a craving for durians. So I headed down to my favourite durian seller. I arrived at his stall and was surprised to find it half-empty.

Usually, it would be filled to the brim with customers. There would be a lot of yelling and hollering as orders for the exotic fruit were placed by hungry customers. And the owner's assistants would be lugging durian after durian tirelessly. It was a well-oiled machine that did one thing very well: satisfied the customers' craviings.

I saw that my favourite seller was on the phone and decided not to bother him. But he saw me and called me over. Pleasantly taken aback, I joined him in his office. He ordered teh for the both of us, then offered some cakes.

I asked him, what had happened to his business? He looked at me, then shook his head with a loud sigh. Had I seen what was going on nearby? he asked. I admitted that I had heard some rumblings, but hadn't paid much attention to it. So he filled me in.

Apparently, some other durian sellers had set up shop. Now, my favourite durian seller had been plying his trade for a long time. Not only had he turned in a tidy profit, he had also built up a strong reputation. He had nothing to worry about. As long as his durians were of the XO grade, customers would buy them.

But this time, somehow, somewhere, his competitors had brought in better durians than before. These still were not of XO grade, but delicious nonetheless. And they had peaked the interest of durian buyers.

And that irked my favourite seller.

Was he worried?

Sure, he was worried! Who could survive losing half his business? Like everyone else, he needed to earn a profit too. But he was a wise businessman and had prepared for competition. He took out a durian and passed it to me. I inhaled its sweet aroma. Mmm. Good, right? he asked. I nodded.

That's why he wasn't overly worried. As long as he sold good durians of XO grade, he was confident that his customers would return. This was normal business, he said. Sometimes, someone new will appear, and customers would flock to him to sample his wares. But they always know who sells the good stuff. And they would come back.

I had to go then, so I thanked him for the chat. When I wanted to return the durian, he told me to keep it. You're a good customer, he said. I trust you. I like you. Keep my durian. Eat it. Enjoy it. And when you want more, come and look for me. I always sell you top grade durian, he promised.

So I thanked him again for the durian and went on my way home, my craving satisfied... for now.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

New job!

Associate Media Planner at XM Asia Pacific.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

"Where the Truth Lies"

Where the Truth Lies
The first Atom Egoyan film I watched was "The Sweet Hereafter". Even though every review raved about it, I never quite understood it. Fortunately, this Egoyan film, "Where the Truth Lies", is more accessible to me.

On the surface, this is a murder mystery movie set in the rockin' 1950s to 1970s. Thus there's a lot of eye candy, from the fashion to the houses to the incredible hairstyles. Underneath, though, is a story about sex and money and friendship and celebrity worship.

The overall story is easy to follow and understand. And as usual, the twist at the end is that the person you should be suspecting the whole time is the person you're most likely to forget about until the final reveal.

I enjoyed watching Kevin Bacon's Lanny, who swaggers and swoons like a good ol' charmer, but who can also turn into this dark, intensive sex object. And then there's the fun of watching Colin Firth, who usually plays a gentleman, but portrays a deviant who can't control himself in this movie.

And then there's Rachel Blanchard, who starred in family dramas like "Clueless" and "7th Heaven", but in this film, she plays the streetsmart, seemingly virginal college undergrad.

Hmm, seems like this was a show to see the actors break out of their stereotypes.

Finally, an Egoyan film that I could get.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Another reason to live in an opposition-controlled constituency

Following up on my previous post, I found another reason to live in an opposition-controlled constituency in Singapore. It can be summarised in Singaporeans' two favourite words, "cheap" and "good", and coupled with our perennial indulgence, food.

Apparently, the cheapest McDonald's outlet can be found in Potong Pasir. There are hundreds (thousands?) of McDonald's outlets in Singapore. Although the menu is the same, there are small price differences, usually dependent on the outlet's location. For instance, an outlet in town could charge $0.10 or $0.20 more for the same item as compared to an outlet in a far-flung part of Singapore. And it turns out that Potong Pasir is the furthest flinging part of Singapore.

That's the "cheap" part.

It's not just McDonald's. Because opposition-controlled constituencies are denied receive government funds for upgrading later, the food centres in Potong Pasir are still pretty much untouched in terms of fanciful floor tiles, tables, and newfangled food stalls. Yup, the old food sellers are still doing their thing there, and they've been doing it for years, so their foods retain their unique tastes.

And that's the "good" part.

So if you want cheap and good food (a very difficult combination to find in Singapore), you know what to do. No, no, not eat in Potong Pasir.

Vote Opposition!

I admittedly have not stepped into a Potong Pasir McDonald's outlet, nor have I eaten at a Potong Pasir food centre, but my sources for these bits of information are reliable.

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Good Friday and "The Passion of the Christ"

I feel sorry for Mel Gibson. Ever since he made the epic movie, "The Passion of the Christ", he's been losing thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Unlike other Biblical movies, for example, "The Ten Commandments", the events in "Passion", i.e. the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, are celebrated by Christians the world over every year. And church leaders think that their congregations should watch it every Good Friday so that we are reminded of why we are Christians.

Clips from the movie were shown in my church as part of the youth ministry's skit. For my part, I closed my eyes and tuned out, although I contemplated storming up to the pulpit and rebuking everyone for contravening copyright law.

Millions (billions?) of Christians sitting in thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of churches worldwide watching a commercial movie -- for free. In Singapore, a movie costs $9.50. Christians make up about 1/5 of the population. There are about 6 million people in Singapore. That's 1.2 million x 9.50 = a s**tload of lost money.

Mel Gibson's lawyers are either underworked or ordered to lay off for "good PR".

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

A call in the... day?

So there I was, at my computer, just checking my e-mail. And there, among the new messages, was one titled "I'd like to meet you" by some person named Avril Sagua. I had never heard of her before, but since Gmail hadn't sieved it out as junk mail, I figured it should be legitimate.

In it, she said that she and her colleagues had become very interested in my blog and wanted to meet me in person. She provided a phone number and asked me to call her back. The number looked legitimate, a local landline number starting with "6". No reason, nothing. Just "Hi, we read your blog, we're intrigued by you, please call us."

On the other hand, it did read like junk mail, and I don't know of any Avril Sagua, so I just deleted it and went web surfing on my own. If it was important, she would've provided a fuller explanation, right?

And then, I got an instant message. A stranger wanted to add me to their ICQ list. (Yes, I'm still on ICQ, can you believe that???) Normally, these would be invitations by desperate mainland Chinese women seeking companionship "and more".

This one was different. It said: "Wanna meet u -- avril sagua".

Whoa, twice in one day? This was more than coincidence and required some sleuthing. Tentatively, I acknowledged the message. A chat window popped up, as expected. The conversation went something like this:
avril: hi
me: hi
avril: we read your blog n wanna meet u
me: who r u?
avril: u really shld meet us
me: i m not meeting any1 unless i know who u r!
avril: u wrote abt sedition?
me: ya
avril: u wrote abt politics?
me: ya
avril: u said, "dear govt, u suck" several times
me: some of the services suck
me: who r u? wat do u want?
avril: as u know, elections r coming
avril: we think u hv potential
me: wat do u mean?
avril: lets meet for tea
avril: wait 4 our call
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At this point, I got really paranoid. Who was watching me? Why was my blog so interesting? More importantly, was I getting in trouble because of what I had written? I rushed to my Blogger and LiveJournal sites and prepared to delete every single entry there. I didn't want to be AcidFlask number 2.

And what was that about tea? The only political tea sessions that I knew of -- and which is public knowledge -- are usually recruitment sessions by a certain political party. What was going on??? A million thoughts ran through my head. I was going crazy.

And then my handphone rang.

I nearly jumped out of my skin. Gingerly, I picked up my phone and looked at the caller ID. Gasp! It was the number in the e-mail! The phone rang and rang as I pondered whether to answer it or not.

Finally, I flipped it open and put it to my ear. "Hello?" I said slowly and softly.

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