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Showing posts from June, 2005

Singa's Last Words

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On our way back from the world's best BBQ chicken wings last night (yes, again!), J and I cut across a playground where three girls between the ages of 4-6 were hanging around. As we walked by, I overheard one of them - short hair, slitty eyes, no front teeth - tell her friend, "I got one hundred lives". I think they were negotiating some game rules. GameGirl (from Kidnap News - cloth-bound,25 pp,9 copies left!) Kaypoh me interrupted their negotiations, "I got two hundred lives." They looked up, giggled. "I got three hundred," No-front-teeth challenged. "I got one thousand." Kaypoh auntie added. "I got two thousand." (you get the idea...kids can count) "I got ten thousand!" J now chipped in, using the monkey bars to do his chin-ups. They stared at the ape man who has upped the stakes in this competition. "I got ninety-nine thousand!" No-front-teeth shouted (her sidekicks still giggling). Their mot

Dream on!

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Somewhat still inspired by Mr Stephen Ooi's grand ambition , I've been thinking of the answers friends have generally given when I asked what was their aspiration when they were young. "Chuang Tzu's Ampulets: J dreaming he is a security guard dreaming he is J" Of all the lawyers, teachers and civil servant friends I've asked, none I think ever said that they, as children, had aspired to the lawyers, teachers and civil servants they are today. In fact, often after considering quite carefully my question, most folks say that they never really had an aspiration, an ambition or a dream of what they wanted to do or be when they were young. Grudgingly, a few might say 'doctor'. Most of the time, however, the conversation quickly switches to what they wished they could be now. Then laughingly, the honourable 'Tai-Tai' and 'househusband' would emerge as answers. Maybe I should have rephrased the question. Aspirations are somehow large,

Que Sera Sera...

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J and I took yesterday afternoon off work and walked around the city (ah, that's how life should be!). We spotted at the Speakers' Corner Mr Stephen Ooi's expression of his aspirations and hopes. No doubt, later that evening on those many podiums he has set up, he would share his vision and promises of the future if he were indeed Istana-bound . Fellow islanders, ampulets may not have the same presidential aspirations and hopes as Mr Stephen Ooi, but we give you here our wish too for a Better Tomorrow. Scene from a favourite restaurant#3: A Better Tomorrow (Click to see larger pic)

Just call me Greedy

Yes, friends, the mystery of the abandoned/lost Golden Retriever has been solved by my mother, the neighbourhood sleuth...and to think I was worried about this dog for 2 weeks! Mom: [Offering dog food] Come here, poor doggie. Stinky : Wow! Thanks! [Gobble gobble] Old Lady : You don't have to feed it... Stinky : Hey old woman, watch what you are saying - [Gobble gobble] Mom : Why? So poor thing, lost and so faithful. Old Lady : Haha, no no, it's not lost. Stinky : ...[Gobble gobble] Old Lady : It's just greedy. Stinky : Old woman, don't call [gobble gobble] me names! Old Lady : It belongs to that house over there, behind. Can see? It sneaks out almost every morning. Mom : Who's the owner? Old Lady : You never see him before meh? An old man with many of this kind of dogs? He feeds them once a day only, so this one is very greedy, comes and sits in front of my house to beg me for food every morning. Mom : Aiyoh. Old Lady : Yah, very greedy. Mom : And stinky.

Don't call me Stinky

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"Scene from a favourite restaurant#2: Animal Burger" For the past 2 weeks I've noticed a dejected-looking golden retriever in my estate on my way to work. It keeps its head low, and if it stood on its hind legs and had shoulders, the shoulders would be hunched. And if it had on clothes, the seats of its trousers would be worn thin - as with the balding patches near its tail. It stinks. It had a thing for one of the houses with a black wrought-iron gate, staring at its inhabitants (as it had been the past couple of days). Once, an old lady had come out of that house, and out through the gate, to trim her sunflowers by the pavement. When she went back in through the gate, the dog merely stared. Old stinky didn't exist for the old lady. For sure, I knew this house never had a golden retriever. Yesterday, my mom and I finally decided to foster the dog, bring it to the vet, and try to find its owner or to find it a new home. No way my mom's Rusty (aka The Killer p

The Impossible

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It is not everyday that you get an official email circular with the subject heading "Cessation of Prisons ". I admit that for a moment I had actually thought:"no more prisons in Singapore!". Then discounting that as impossible, it occurred to me that maybe there was going to be a day of universal president's clemency! Silly me. Of course, upon opening the mail, I immediately saw that it was just some prosaic announcement that a few drug rehabilitation and facilities were no longer to be considered prisons. It is late and I'm not quite sure I know what's the relation between the email and this picture, but here's the drawing anyway! "What I saw at my favourite restaurant #1: The Great Escape"

Thank You has never been this hard to say

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Retailers have probably tried to get people excited about Father's Day for years, but to no avail. Socks? Aftershave? A pen with his name engraved? DIY tools? Another shirt? Plus fathers are generally a non-communicative, unappreciative kind. Oh well, it is also hard to be THAT expressive about receiving yet another new shirt. In the case of my father, the "another new shirt" (thoughtfully selected nonetheless) from my brother and I resulted in this elaborate alternative to a simple 'thank you': "Why you buy this for me? Why you buy this type? Not nice! I don't want this kind of shirt. I won't wear it.... etc etc." (Hmm, at least this father can't be faulted for being non-communicative.) "Pater Dictator" Maybe this is why governments whose methods seem a tad bit oppressive are termed "paternalistic", while even the most naggy, mollycoddling state is never "maternalistic", only a "nanny". For moth

From boys to...

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I've heard many girlfriends complain when their male/boyfriends/husbands launch into "army talk". Inevitably, many women roll their eyes, make that trip to the toilet, or start making "we've heard that before" remarks. I must admit I love listening to guys talk story about their training/reservist experiences, because usually it's really very funny (even when the stories are repeated - and they usually are). One of my favourite is of J's army mate, who is blessed with the fortunate name of "Happy". No kidding. Happy, whose native tongue is Hokkien, has many a close encounter with authority in the army because of his name. Officer: Private, why are you squatting here? Happy: ... [Looks up] Officer: Why? What's your name? Happy: Happy, sir. Officer: I ask you what's your name, you say Happy? Why? You trying to be funny, is it, Private? Happy: No, sir, my name Happy. Officer: You don't be funny. James: Er, sir, really lah, his

Toto and the Beanstalk

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It seems apt that we used to call ourselves, and still live under the legacy of the phrase "Garden City". In another act of decisive nation building, the Garden City plan was invoked to counter those middling years of Singapore's rapid industrialisation and the risk of becoming a "concrete jungle". Unattractive as a "concrete jungle" may be, the idea of a jungle - organic in its growth - holds nonetheless a strange appeal for the garden variety (oops, bad pun)/coffeeshop dreamer in Singapore. But we are wrong to pitch one against the other. Both the jungle and the garden develop according to rules and uphold an order, however different the nature of those rules and order. But I was given a different take on this by the "Magic Bean Stalk". My brother, always game for a cheap thrill, bought one of these "Magic Bean Stalks" last weekend - pop the can, add some water, leave it under the sun and *magic* happens. It has grown since t

It's Turtle Time

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(I don't mean the TMNT . I didn't expect them to make a comeback after so many years - them and He-man . Why can't the more-than-meets-the-eye robots be on the weekend morning tv instead?) This is 1 of 24 illustrations planned for J's little poem (a metaphor gone slightly mad). Surprise, it's called "Turtle Time". Time crawls like a turtle to the dark sea in the evening - It has laid eggies down in a deep hole we saw it digging - We peer into the holes - find thousands and thousands of turtle eggs! Dinner. Turtle eggs. I am reminded of what J wrote many years ago only by how yawningly slow this past week has been. Ever since the June holidays started, the office has emptied out, leaving those of us still at work even more conscious of the sun outside the window (or the dark clouds...oh if only to laze in bed!); the teenager standing next to you in the train at 8.30am in her shorts & t-shirts, alighting at the next station for some fun; and teac

The Colour of Money

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Pink the colour of Health. Blue-black is definitely the colour of this somewhat bruisy, pent-up Monday. And green, is green the colour of money? Well, I wouldn't know. This is our first "commissioned" work by an organisation/corporation (it's mainly James' design). As such the subject is not a friend or someone we have any reason to be especially fond of - here's a < clue who she is. But really, it's still unpaid work. One day , it would be nice to be able to make some money doing this and quit the day job!

Biker Gang Boys and Girl

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Lazy me decided to sit at the "Study Corner" of the void deck while James ran. Armed with a pen and my sketch book, I continued a picture I had started drawing last Saturday at the Youth Park of a few teenagers working on their spraycan art. At the corner of my eye, I saw a bike approach - bicycle that is - and heard the voices of some boys. Ah, the neighbourhood teenager Biker gang. "Eh, construction, cannot sit here." A voice behind me. I turned around- smiled. A kid (maybe 14?) with a trucker cap and riding a beat up bike laughed. I went back to my drawing while more of his gang appeared. Soon, a group of some 6-8 boys, a few on equally rusty bicylces, crowded around me. Should I worry? "Construction lah, cannot sit here." The kid, now beside me but still on his bicycle, repeated and smiled. "What are you doing?" "Sitting here, drawing lah." Maybe I looked like another forlorn teenager, slacking at the void deck during the J

Read Reread Read More

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Just this weekend was the BookExpo America. OK, right, so? So it was the sheer cultural dominance of America that I knew the event had 30,000 booksellers/publishers attending, was held in New York, and spawned countless articles lamenting the death of reading. The American press was quick to declare not just the death of reading , but also the the death of browsing. Earlier there were speculations (inaccurate) that digital books inour PDAs would render books (lovely paper, binding, jackets and...dust) obsolete. Even earlier, of course, we have already been told that that the author is dead - though the author still outlived God. But despite such pronouncements, that weekend I called up a defence: 1. I marched to Kino, browsed, bought 2 books and read Toni Morrison's "The Dancing Mind" , in which she described as "disability" a privileged and successful young man's lack of acquanintance with the experience of reading for hours and hours in the company

The Secret of the Goatee

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(This post is dedicated to our friend who runs a t-shirt shop in FarEast Shopping Centre. Ask and it shall be given.) There is no self-respecting male creative type or wannebe creative type who has not tried growing a goatee (if he is not already the proud owner of one). Many have failed. Not because they lack the inspiration, the creative ability or the will power. But for the lack of good advice. Ampulets decided to conduct this interview with ourselves to reveal, once and for all, the secret to growing a healthy goatee. Y(vonne): Hello, are you free? Can I ask you a few questions about your goatee. J(ames): Can, I just finished doing my laundry. Y: OK, good. I can't grow a goatee. Thank goodness. But can you tell me why and when you decided to grow one? J: It's quite some time ago already. When I was in University. Y: That's a very long time ago! And why? J: Why? Er...could be...my ex. Oh oh. I think she suggested it. Y: Oh...... J: No no, it was my decision. Y: Yo

Tell this to Donald Trump

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Yesterday, a colleague circulated an article from Harvard Business Review "Breakthrough Ideas for 2004". One of those ideas is headlined "The MFA is the new MBA". The source, American Dan Pink , claims that as only 3% of applicants are accepted into the Chicago Art Institute or UCLA's postgraduate Fine Arts Programme, versus Harvard Business School's 10%, MFAs are far more valuable to have than MBAs. This is evidenced by the fact that American employers are on the lookout for MFA grads (while MBAs in America lose their jobs to $800-a-month MBAs in India). He reasons that with an increasingly crowded marketplace, products & commercial offerings must now be "transcendent - physically beautiful and emotionally compelling". As such, MFA graduates are useful people to have around to bring this about for companies. Of course, for a moment, those of us who are working on the Arts School project were determined to flash this piece of Harvard-endor