Showing posts from April, 2004

More Gmail Gmripes

And I guess I didn't know that I was only one of 1000 people invited to have a Gmail account , otherwise I too could have tried to make some money off it too. Heh. I wish Gmail would let me rename my account though...

Fame! Fame at last!

Wow... I'm quoted in the introduction to The Friendly Jane Austen . How flattering! And just below Sir Walter Scott too. Ah, I write a few facetious lines to an Austen mailing list when I'm 18, and they wend their way nicely into publication a few years later. Here's the quote, dear reader (and yes, I know that's Charlotte Bronte): "Reading Jane Austen has led me to read texts with much more scrutiny, to catch potential glimpses of irony. Now I read everything—novels, newspapers, cereal boxes—for the subtext, which is a bit paranoid. I blame Austen."

Gme some lovin'

As noted previously, I signed up for Gmail, but its vaunted spam filtering capabilities seem really bad at the moment. I'm getting loads of offers for prescription drugs that I don't need *ahem*. On the plus side, unlike Yahoo!, when you hit "report as spam" on Gmail it shunts off the mails quickly. Yahoo seems to take forever to do that. Or for that matter, just to load an e-mail - Gmail, like Google, seems much faster. Early adopters always have to deal with the issues, no?

Worst Song Ever

Blender magazine this month has a list of the 50 worst songs ever... the site only has #50-41, but I'm hard pressed to believe that "My Heart Will Go On" is only at #50. I suspect vote-rigging to entice people to buy the magazine. Apparently "We Built This City" is at #1... I put that in my list of "too cheesy/kitschy to be a truly awful song" category, like Charlene's "I've Never Been To Me". So what's a truly awful song? Hmmm. Off the top of my head, Jessica Simpson, "I Think I'm in Love" - I think I've gone deaf Limp Bizkit, "Rollin'" (and numerous others... man is Fred Durst lame) The Vengaboys, "We Like to Party" - destroying dancefloors everywhere! Ricky Martin, "She Bangs" - it blows. Collin Raye, "Love, Me" - too many mawkish faux-sentimental songs Dan Fogelberg, "Leader of the Band" - when we first were made to look at the lyrics of

Movie Review - Young Adam

Was feeling bored on Saturday, so I went to catch Young Adam at the Singapore Film Festival. I briefly scanned the synopsis before getting the ticket, and was completely unprepared for Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, and Emily Mortimer 1 appearing onscreen. The tone of Scottish desolation, with a blanket of fog-grey that seemed to rest upon the movie, seemed an appropriate reflection of 1950s Glasgow, and of my mood - after all, I was watching a movie alone on a Saturday night. There was a strong suggestion of an utter lack of options in that life, what with the claustrophobia of the boat and the desperation and despair in the sex scenes between Joe and Ella (McGregor and Swinton) 2 . The movie meanders near the end though - the tortured Joe-Ella affair and its parallel with the Joe-Cathy relationship is spoilt, one thinks, by the sexual omnivorousness of Joe, who can't seem to bump into a married woman without taking his pants off. But then I suppose one could argue that the cold

Japanese vending machines

PhotoMann has a collection of photos of Japanese vending machines , including the infamous ones that dispense "used schoolgirl panties". I suppose that's why the foreignness of Lost in Translation worked here in Singapore - Japanese society seems really different from almost every other....

Singapore Sox Fan

I've decided to move my baseball-related thoughts to a separate Singapore Sox Fan blog, so the main blog sorts out the baseball meanderings and focuses on the other miscellany that flounders in my mind. Such as this: I was reading an old issue of Glamour magazine and they had a list, "12 ways to be happier this minute". Number one on that list was "Remember a compliment you've gotten and let yourself believe it", which made me sad. Are people (or at least the target audience of Glamour , which I presume to comprise women in their 20s) so unwilling to believe compliments that a magazine feels the need to remind them? It seems rather self-destructive to shield one from feeling good about oneself, on the (off-)chance that the complimenter was insincere or inaccurate. Sometimes it seems people like to push happiness away...

Body Size and Health

I found this story on how the link between obesity and health is more tenuous than we're led to believe quite convincing. I like the logic of Paul Campos' central argument: making a large-sized person thin does not necessarily give him or her the health profile of someone who was more naturally thin in the first place. I guess I'll check out The Obesity Myth once it comes out, to see whether his evidence supports his conclusions. Incidentally, Paul Campos gets renamed "Paul Cosmos" in that Guardian online article. Was that the spell-checker being trigger-happy? Lord knows the number of times I've been renamed "Daryl Sing" or "Daryl Sung"....

Pat Tillman killed in Afghanistan

Wow. This is so sad: - Ex-NFL player Tillman killed in Afghanistan . A somber reminder that the war in Afghanistan still rages on, even though all the attention's on Iraq.

Jargon to hate: the '@' sign

Since a blog exists in part to let me get things off my chest, I shall start a series on jargon and other bits of English (mis)usage that I detest. It's purely aesthetic: I'm not saying these things I dislike are ungrammatical, merely that I find them deeply unappealing. Exhibit A: the use of '@' for 'at' in the names of buildings, stores, and the like. ( excite@home , anyone?) Perhaps one of the best things about the end of the dot-com (never, ever dream will be the demise of the sign. Using it always reminded me of the kind of father who talks about Michael Jackson (or Marilyn Manson?) in an effort to show he's "with it" - trying too hard, and still too far behind the times. Now it's 2004, and the sign instantly dates these places - it's rather like those "x-a-rama" names that date a location to the 50s.

Fort Canning Park

Spent last Saturday wandering around Fort Canning Park, site of many a youthful football game where the ball got kicked into the cemetery. It's been spruced up quite a bit since then, which makes for nicer paths although it's lost a bit of its ramshackle charm. I remember the old fort bits which us boys used to climb up: covered in moss, slippery as hell, and an adventure. My old primary school is now the National Archives building, and I discovered a path up from there to the park... here's a pic: Something I didn't know existed but which I was glad to stumble across was this archaeological site, where they had dug up some pre-19th century artifacts, such as pot shards, old Chinese coins (the currency of the region), and even a gold 13th-century gold ornament with a lion symbol. Here's pics of the site. It's nice when people remember that Singapore's history doesn't just start with the coming of the British in 1819... All pics taken using my Palm Zire 7

Offal Office

Mmm, Slate has an article today on the resurgence of offal in high-end restaurants . Here's my own paean to offal , published in FM (the Harvard Crimson magazine) in 2000... man, was I ahead of my time!

Movie Review - Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion

The Singapore Film Festival is on again. Unfortunately, while last year I could blog about the Festival to my heart's content, this year I have to work. So far, I've only caught Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion , an extremely moving documentary on the plight of the Tibetan people. Makes one really sad. I liked that they showed the supporters of Tibet to be a wide, varied group, including many Asians, not just the stereotype of New Age hippies. Indeed, the most embarrassing moment would be the scenes of the mosh pit in the Free Tibet concert; but somehow, I've never heard a more affecting singing of "Losing My Religion", if only because in the context of the film the lyrics take on both the original, metaphorical, end-of-one's-rope sense and the literal. To see the grief in the monks and nuns, to hear their descriptions of the tortures endured, and to see their determination to remain non-violent despite it all... all very moving. Makes me wonder whether those Ti

Juiced ball era

Talk about small sample sizes... you can start voting for the baseball All-Star Game now! So now Manny has one vote, at least... the game's at Minute Maid Park. Why is the brand Minute Maid called thus? I like to think of it as "minute", pronounced "MAI-nyute". A diminutive domestic helper, bearing glasses of OJ. Meanwhile, I just signed up for Google's Gmail , which is unsurprising given my general obsession with things Google 1 . I just think the ability to enter math questions, FedEx/UPS tracking numbers, flight numbers, conversion requests , area codes , and all of that is amazing... and then to add in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in-joke - icing on the cake! Hmm. It's wrong to be this loyal to any company's products... but is just so great. 1 Yes, I know about the privacy issues surrounding Gmail. But I figured I also use Yahoo!, and I don't object to them filtering the text of my e-mails to check for spam

Potty brain

Funniest headlines I've seen this year: " Rosie weds longtime girlfriend, slams Bush " " Bush satisfied with pre-9/11 probes " and in today's USA Today: " With interns, you get what you pay for " I need to get my mind out of the gutter.

Friendster logo?

What does this image that's now in the top-left hand corner of Friendster mean? Is this some sort of new logo?

Nicoll Highway

Spent part of today afternoon watching news of the collapse of part of the Nicoll Highway . So sad that one foreign construction worker died. What an awful fate, forced by economic circumstances to go to a foreign country to perform manual labour, only to die in an accident. So much of Singapore these days is built on the backs of foreign workers, but they tend to be invisible until something like this occurs...

Wishful Thinking

Some hopeful Yankee fan at ESPN has the Yankees leading the AL East, and indeed seems to have been watching a different set of April games from everyone else. This is ESPN's version of April: 2004 American League Standings E A S T W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA STRK L10 NY Yankees 8 5 .571 - 3-2 5-3 56 61 Won 1 5-5 Boston 7 5 .500 .5 5-3 2-2 59 56 Won 1 6-4 Tampa Bay 6 5 .500 1 5-5 1-0 42 51 Lost 2 4-6 Baltimore 4 7 .308 3 2-2 2-5 64 47 Lost 4 6-4 Toronto 3 9 .250 4.5 0-6 3-3 47 68 Lost 4 3-7 CENTRAL W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA STRK L10 Kansas City 10 2 .833 - 4-2 6-0 61 80 Won 9 3-7 Minnesota 8 4 .667 2 5-1 3-3 80 68 Won 3 6-4 Chicago Sox 7 5 .583 3 3-0 4-5 69 49 Lost 2 7-3 Cleveland 8 6 .571 3 3-4 5-2 73 76 Lost 1 6-4 Detroit 5 8 .385 5.5 3-3 2-5 77 72 Lost 1 5-5 W E S T W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA STRK L10 Texas 8 5 .615 - 4-3 4-2 68 61 Won 2 5-5 Oakland 6 6

Curiouser and Curiouser

Last weekend I devoured The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time , Mark Haddon's amazing book about a boy with Asperger's syndrome. Autism and its effects on language are really fascinating - I think Haddon does a good job of capturing the systematising tendencies and the strict antipathy towards metaphor of Asperger's. Was about to nap when I read the book, but I just barrelled through it, it was that fascinating. It won a Whitbread , and while I didn't have time to read all the books it was up against (as book award judges themselves sometimes admit ), it certainly seems a deserving winner. Incidentally, does anyone know any good novels where a character has aphasia ?

Trivial pursuits

Spent yesterday taking part in a pub quiz at the new Sanctuary bar at Wisma Atria . Dang, me and my friend answered the most questions, but we were pathetically let down by not winning points in any of the "bonus" rounds due to us not bringing enough rowdy friends to support our cause! Still, lots of fun, and I got to deliver a very rude innuendo-laden football commentary in the middle of Orchard Road.

Notes from an international baseball fan

Signed up with to watch the baseball games. The connection's good with my cable connection, not as good with my DSL one, but hell - the ability to watch my beloved Sox destroy the Yankees, even when I'm 12 time zones ahead is amazing. That's literally half the world away... The only drawback is that I had to watch that stupid Scooter thing that Fox dreamt up. It's supposed to explain baseball terms to kids. The blogosphere has rightly been on Fox's ass for dreaming up this idea, particularly for explaining a fastball at 10.45pm EST, where kids are usually off to bed. Let me tell you, I watched it at 11.45am and it was still the most annoying thing. And this is from someone who reveres Spongebob Squarepants . And Tim Wakefield's fastball is really not the fastball you want to show kids... his fastball's slower than Pedro's changeup. Oh, about - their tech support is good, but I hated the fact that I had to call the US to get a co

Da-n-da-da-n-da-n-da-da and here I am

Simon and Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York" keeps playing in my head. And I can't stop thinking of that wonderful scene in Tadpole where the song comes on. And I don't know which came first, to paraphrase High Fidelity : do I listen to the song because of the sense of urban desolation I feel, or do I feel that desolation because I listen to the song? Sometimes you walk around a crowded city and you realise, "hey, I'm really one in a million... and man, that feels like crap". "Half of the time we're gone and we don't know where..."

Everything I needed to learn I learnt from Hamlet

William Saletan has a good piece in Slate on George W. Bush's claim of credibility , keeping up his attack on Bush's general fealty to internal consistency over all else. What was it Emerson said about foolish consistency and little minds ? One is tempted to think of Polonius, the tedious old fool, proclaiming to Laertes "to thine own self be true", even when he himself is as deceitful and pompous as all get out. Incidentally, I hate it when people quote the "to thine own self be true" line without recognising the bluster and irony behind it.

Green Grow the Rushes

Oh, I saw "Singapore's first natural gas-powered bus" (I may be paraphrasing) last week! It was a 105, heading down Scotts Road. Makes me all warm and fuzzy to see environmentally-friendly developments. Now if they'd only introduce recycling in my building, so that I don't have to schlep all these cans and paper to the (quite far away) recycling station at Raffles Place MRT.

Mercy Mercy Me

Just finished watching Standing in the Shadows of Motown , about the Funk Brothers, the musicians of Motown. A nice parallel to Only the Strong Survive , which I saw in April last year. I feel it's so sad that the Funk Brothers never really got the acclaim they deserved... man, if I could say I played on any one of those great great Motown hits - What's Going On? , What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted? etc. etc. etc. - let alone a thousand of them, I'd be a happy man. Anyway, the Singapore Film Festival is back! Somehow the lineup seems to have fewer movies that I really want to see - Capturing the Friedmans , The Barbarian Invasions , Osama , and The Fog of War are the big-name ones, and scheduling difficulties kind of makes it hard to catch most of them. Sigh.

Subservient Chicken

Can I say that the new Burger King promotion in America, Subservient Chicken , is some seriously creepy stuff? And you can get a list of the things the chicken will do here ...

The Sisyphus Solution

While in Singapore demographics is front-page news quite frequently, when you see Time or Fortune or whatever do a story on the demographic aging crisis hitting (insert group of countries here: Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the world), you can be pretty dang sure it's a slow news week. So, my Woody Allen-inspired solution to this is to subtract one year of age from everyone nearing retirement age. That way no one reaches an age to claim their pension... hey, it's the same as raising the retirement age, but it makes everyone feel better about themselves. "Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!" - Bananas (1971)
Sights of last week: 1. Thurs, 8.45am. Coast Guard and police vehicles, and various policemen stood around the Singapore River, with a police boat moving around the river. Obviously something had happened. Someone fell in? Lord knows. People just stood at the bridge and watched, but no one could say for sure what had happened. River taxis and bumboats were halted on both sides of the bridge. Nothing in the news the next day 2. Thurs, 12.50pm. Old man pedals along on one of those bicycles with a side-car attachment. Very normal when you're near Chinatown. Weird part was, he had one of those old marble coffeeshop tables tied up on the sidecar! Man, I love those tables. Or maybe the weird part is that Singapore, a country that is 75% ethnic Chinese, even has a Chinatown...

Also, what's with suddenly getting all the attention?

Extreme Blogging

Following in the footsteps of extreme ironing , the words "extreme blogging" came to my mind but a Google check shows that it's been thought of before , Man, it's hard to come up with anything new these days... still, anyone out there have good examples of blogging in an unusual location?

Apparently, I am a Grammar God

At least according to a time-killing quiz: You are a GRAMMAR GOD ! If your mission in life is not already to preserve the English tongue, it should be. Congratulations and thank you! How grammatically sound are you? brought to you by Quizilla :) Also, in the random-trivia department, there are 600 quintillion ways for spammers to spell 'Viagra' .
So, a day in baseball arrived when the Tigers, the D-Rays, the Mets, and the Brewers were all in first place. Ah, the joys of small sample sizes.