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Showing posts from February, 2006

we've got balls!

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world ball by J Oblivious to the deaths of politicians, sliding earth and interrupted bombs, the 8.30am Marching Bands went on playing in and out of the train stations. Two members of that band were having a deep intellectual conversation about the intricacies of their post-industrial capitalist trap, braving the onslaught of the rival northbound band. Y : [sighs] What a waste. J : [yawns] Huh? Y : [marching] So many people. Can you imagine all that human energy, effort, time...? J : [glances at a pretty rival band member in a dress, marching]... Y : [marching] Every single person oiling the gears, keeping the machine working. We work so hard, so that we can get paid to buy the things that we think will make our lives easier, machines to help us clean our house faster, because we spend all our time and energy at work, and when we save more time or do something faster, we then use all the extra time at work, and then to buy more things...A self-sustaining machine. J : [stops marchi

tropical malady

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There must be days when you feel your mind is like a tropical jungle...no, wait, I mean the undergrowth of a tropical jungle - none of that majestic treetop experience, just the muggy, rotting, mosquito-infested mess of weeds, vines, stray branches and trees that will never see the sky. You may then wish to find a DVD copy of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's 2004 Cannes winner Tropical Malady . A narrative yin-yang - at once simple and mysterious, leisurely and tense. Split into two, the first part of the film is all the sweet disease of love - the palpitations of the heart and the alternating chills and heat of chase and touch. The second half of the film is set entirely in the Thai jungles, and I think every fear, hallucination, and drop of sweat you would experience in a tropical jungle is captured in that feverish, haunting 45min.

inseparable

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Perhaps it is the legacy of Plato's body vs soul dualism, but I guess many of us would more easily relate our "true" self to "soul" and relegate the body to be a temporal and somewhat "fake" shell. So it is our bodies - somehow separate from who we are - that fail us when we grow old or sick. Being with Ma J and learning more about what a stroke does to you makes it even easier at first to think of the body like some kind of a trap, a burden. The stroke affected her right hemisphere, so she has lost all feeling and use of the left side of her body. More than that, she has somehow "forgotten" that that left side of her body exists. And since the right hemisphere of the brain also controlled visual and spatial perception, she has a poor sense of time, loses attention easily and has trouble making sense of the TV dramas. Even her emotions sometimes seem a little out of her control. But the stroke also demonstrated that the opposite is perh

democracy?

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At the lobby of the Urban Redevelopment Authority centre, there's a really detailed model of our Lilliputian city. Every inch has been planned for. There's even a Parks and Water Bodies and Identity Plan . See and believe. Since J and I live in the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, where the PAP team is helmed by the Deputy Prime Minister himself, it is unlikely that any opposition party is going to do the foolish in contesting for this ward. So for the 3rd elections in a row since turning 21, I will no doubt be one of those Singaporeans this coming elections without a chance to participate in democracy's sacred act - the vote . Just across the street from where we live, residents of Potong Pasir will surely exercise this right on my behalf. For the past few years, the PAP candidate for Potong Pasir has been hosting dinners on public holidays and familiarising himself with the residents. This Chinese New Year, he offered Sharks Fin soup for $1 a bowl to the residents and, acco

it's only just begun

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A finger lickin' good wedding gift from L & G - a stuffed chicken wing and drumstick from G's 2003 "Dreamland Delicatessen" exhibition. Yumm, comfort food for daydreaming. The wedding was surprisingly quick and painless. So quick it was that J forgot to take photographs until towards the end, and we did not manage to get any photographs of friends who had so gamely turned up in their favourite t-shirts for our planned poster project. Thank goodness for a whole table of friends who are photographers or just real photo buffs . I think that table of 10 had more cameras and lenses than human bodies! Whatever pain there was at this wedding, I guess the bulk of it was somewhere inside Pa J . Graciously he had attended the solemnisation and lunch, and graciously he played host to some of the relatives. All this while, according to J's sister, this 72 year-old man has been waking up in tears each morning to an empty bed. The wedding is only the beginning. T

The Day Before...

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J and I, after consulting our folks, decided we should just go ahead with the wedding tomorrow despite Ma J's ill health. I did say this was going to be a busy week of firsts , though now it is busier than we had anticipated. So on the day before the wedding, J is out with his sis visiting employment agencies to see if they could hire a domestic helper to be with his folks when Ma J does finally get to go home. And I am actually at home after a week out running errands and hanging out at the Tan Tock Seng hospital - seated now by the ibook, downloading information on caring for stroke patients, sipping my coffee, while writing a 12 page report I owe my boss (as more things - always urgent - crop up at work), getting some distraction completing this drawing and trying not to think about what else I should be doing now. One step at a time! about the drawing J and I were talking last night about what it means to care for one's parents. Being the youngest son and having l

Ma J on the other hand...

This will probably explain why J's mom was checked into the hospital on Tuesday, her health further strained by the Chinese New Year diet and the feast she was busy making to offer to the ti gong ("sky god"). Her condition is still critical. So friends, please pray that she would get better and come to believe instead in the God who made the skies and all under it, yet desires no succulent roast duck offering from us.

Mr Baker I am not

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if he lived in the 50s, maybe he would aspire to be known as Graphic J, the Design Uncle One of the best things about being off from work (other than just physically NOT being at work) is being able to have a leisurely lunch with my mom. She retired from her administrative job 5 years ago after spending more than 30years with the same company. A quiet, diminutive woman - not someone you would take notice of (although in her youth, I was told, she had flirted with being a model...er, all 1.57m of her). But each time she tells me something about her life, there's always a story or two worth remembering. So over a plate of Rojak Bandung, J, my mom and I were indulging in some nostalgia and lamenting how all the "wet markets" in HDB estates have been upgraded , such that they are now these neat rows of individual shops that, when shut, are transformed into just large metal boxes. A trip to the market no longer required avoiding puddles or even entire lanes of smelly wat

7 Bad Habits of busy folks

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1. Trying to live according to a to-do list 2. Not having a conversation 3. Snapping when asked to repeat yourself (ditto) 4. Dehydrating. 5. Compromising sleep. 6. Waking up way too late (er, for the ill-disciplined variety of busy-ness) 7. Wishing you had slept/woken up earlier. It'll be a busy week for J and I, but it'll also a week of firsts. Today we have to get to some place (don't know where yet) to buy some 40 bottles of wine - that's a first...and probably a last. And having to manage an invitation list of relatives via an excel sheet. What will not be a first is me wondering if all of my books and their 25m of shelf space will ever fit into our Toa Payoh flat. So ampulets give you this picture in honour of the start of a new week. May none of those 7 habits ever inflict your lives!

Ah Q?

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Ah Q is probably the most "beloved" character in modern Chinese literature. Well, in later popular adapations of Lu Xun's 1918 work The Story of Ah Q , Ah Q is sometimes portrayed just as a simpleton, or a man whose delusions are, at worst, just laughable. A mere clown or a fool - to be ultimately pitied. But Lu Xun's intention is less generous. A poor and illiterate man, Ah Q often deludes himself in thinking that he is from a wealthy family or, later in the book, a victorious and heroic leader of the revolution against the Qing empire. Even the smallest setback, and however ridiculous his logic, Ah Q would find a way to claim a victory. When his delusions are exposed, Ah Q would nonetheless find a way to claim moral or spiritual victory...thus walking away satisfied. If Ah Q's behaviour is read as symptomatic of the Chinese people at that time, then Lu Xun is levelling a very severe criticism that China continues to fool itself with its false revolution

counting down?

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9 more days to this The family, over the obligatory Chinese New Year game of mahjong, shares this conversation: Bro : I warn you, my tiles are real beautiful. [ chuckles to himself ] Aunt : Pong! Bro : Wah, 3 flowers and a pong-pong game...that's 5-tai. Aunt : ...[ The real professional, she gives nothing away on her face. ] Dad : Eh, Y, pass me some egg rolls. Y : Ohr. Dad : [ munches, dropping the crumbs all over the green table top ] Oh, after a few more nights, you'll be married and then you'll no longer live here, that's fast - Bro : Pong! Game! Dad : Darn, look at my tiles - almost perfect already... Y : Aiyah! Mine too! Aunt : ... [ She smiles and dusts the egg roll crumbs onto the floor for the faithful family dog. ] Well, at least 1 person is counting down.