Showing posts from August, 2005

Happy Teachers' Day

In Singapore, 1 September is Teachers' Day, a day for remembering the contribution of teachers. So a heartfelt thanks goes out to all those who have taught me in school and in life, whether across the Pacific in America or back here - and deep thanks to my parents, both of who were teachers until their recent retirement and who continue to be my teachers till today.

DJing on Wednesday

I've got another indie rock DJing gig coming up at Hideout , 31B Circular Road, this Wednesday 31 August - I should materialise around 9.30pm and spin all the way till whenever the night eases out. If you want some idea of the kind of music I'll be playing, here's a set list of an earlier gig. So, to summarise: Who: Slapdash (aka me) What: Indie rock music Where: Hideout, 31B Circular Road When: Wed, 31 August, 9.30pm till late See you all there! Early song requests can be filed in the comments. No guarantees of playing them though!

Katrina and the waves

Man, the news about Hurricane Katrina is quite devastating - 80% of New Orleans evacuated. That's the French Quarter above - deserted. Fingers crossed that its slight weakening wil save one of the world's most distinctive cities from being destroyed. Quotes like this are quite scary: The head of Jefferson Parish, which includes major suburbs and juts all the way to the storm-vulnerable coast, said some residents who stayed would be fortunate to survive. ''I'm expecting that some people who are die-hards will die hard,'' said parish council President Aaron Broussard. ( AP report , on the New York Times' web page) Sometimes we are all pawns to nature.


Random photo from my Flickr set from Germany: I just thought the way this tree grew on the wall was interesting.

The Ashes

It's Tests like the current England-Australia one that make me wish one didn't have to pay extra for cricket on cable. Sounds like a corker of a game. Chasing 129 to win, with Shane Warne and Brett Lee bowling well, England take it by 3 wickets. Excuse any terminology mistakes - I do sometimes let slip (ha) some baseball jargon...

The Hunting of the Snark

Paul Collins tracks the history of the T-shirt, and of slogans on T-shirts (with particular emphasis on those Happy Bunny tees), and I liked this little nuggets: I was astonished to discover this headline while paging through an old Chicago Tribune from June 10, 1897: MOTTOES ON REVOLVING SHIRT FRONT . Flippant Youth May Now Display Prominently the Phrase, 'There Are No Flies on Me.' It seems that Victorian hipsters realized one hot summer day that the octagonal celluloid shirt-bosom, which you could revolve around to display different designs, made for a handy personal billboard. " No Flies on Me " was the casual kiss-off of the moment, the "whatever" of 1897 slang; and so with a few strokes of a pen on their shirtfronts, these Chicago smartasses created a defining fashion of modern life. So snark on clothing has been around for more than a century. Now about that trend of faux-vintage T-shirts advertising random camps and obscure events...


Caught " Betrayal " at the Singapore Repertory Theatre yesterday. Haven't seen a Pinter play performed in years. Years, I said. And this is one of his best. Too sick to write a full-on proper review right now; that should appear somewhere over the weekend - but suffice it to say I thought the two male leads were really strong, particularly Simon Jones in the Robert role. All in all, a solid outing.

Singapore Public Art on Flickr

Together with Peter Schoppert (creator of the Public Art in Singapore site, but currently busy running the Singapore Writer's Festival ), I've started a group for Singapore Public Art on Flickr. So if you have any photos of works of fine art - sculptures or paintings, for instance - in Singapore that are in the public space (i.e. not in a museum or gallery), do join the group and add your photos. Works featured can be permanent or temporary - so if you have pics of the Botero sculptures that graced this city a while back, that's fine.

Linksfest: Faking It

How to tell a fake photograph . For Snopes fans. What a male Pill might mean. Interesting sociological implications. The Thumbsucker movie blog . Reminiscent of Zach Braff and Garden State . The stages of a relationship, as told through Hall & Oates song titles . Why, of all musicians in the world, do I share a first name with half of a particularly naff duo? (he asks as he proudly finishes alphabetising his album collection.)

Google Talk and other IM clients

Yes, I downloaded Google Talk. But since I figured it uses the Jabber protocol anyway, why bother adding yet another messaging client and wondering which one people use? So I'm sticking with Miranda . Here's instructions on how to use Miranda with Google Talk and here's instructions for GAIM/Adium/Trillian users . And I think all I've just said violates the plain English goal laid out previously. But speaking of Miranda, here's a random list of old school soft drinks: Miranda, Fanta, Green Spot, Kickapoo, Sinalco. Oh, and if you're reading this site from the US: Moxie . Edit: not like sniffing around the Net wouldn't tell you this, but my Google Talk address is daryl dot sng [at] gmail dot com. And my MSN and Yahoo ones are both dsng [at] yahoo dot com.

All set up

Finally, I seem to be mostly unpacked and set up. Does anyone want a collection of Mixmag , Muzik , and other DJ magazines from around 1999-2002? Anyway, I found a report I did in secondary school titled, simply enough, "Chicks: A Report", which cracked me up. (It was about an experiment relating the effect of feeding brewer's yeast to chicks, naturally.) Objects purchased to beautify the new room: tiny little money plant, 330-threadcount sheets, and a Karlsson clock .

No jargon

No Jargon is a "campaign for web simplicity ". I don't think this site qualifies - certainly there are moments where I am overly flowery - but plain English has always been a useful goal to strive towards.

Death of the blockbuster

The Guardian looks at the death of the blockbuster movie . So the 'event movie' is dead? Woohoo!

I Was Here

Francis Ng's sculpture "I Was Here" now stands outside the Esplanade is clearly playing with the idea of memory: how does one leave traces? Clearly sculpture and monuments have been methods of doing so in many societies - anything carved in stone is an attempt to preserve something about one's life beyond one's death. So Ng takes that act of memorialising to the logical extreme, creating a monument that states its symbolic meaning, combining signifier (stone monument) and signified ("I was here"). The work made me think of how stone momuments rarely serve the preservation function forever, in spite of their creators' intentions, a fact Shelley observed in "Ozymandias" : And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away. Ars longa, vit

Such Great Heights

Song on repeat at the moment: I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles In our eyes are mirror images and when We kiss they're perfectly aligned And I have to speculate that God himself Did make us into corresponding shapes like Puzzle pieces from the clay True, it may seem like a stretch, but It's thoughts like this that catch my troubled Head when you're away when I am missing you to death - The Postal Service, "Such Great Heights" ( Available for download on the band's Sub Pop site) I've never understood the "freckles in our eyes" bit - do people have eye freckles? But ahhh..... what a song. Non-cynical, heart on sleeve, and yet perfectly balanced so that it doesn't tip over into mawkishness. And yes, it's not new, and I've had it in my playlist for AGES, but for some reason it still feels fresh.

Public art in Singapore

Over the last few years I've taken occasional photos of public artwork in Singapore - both permanent pieces and temporary ones. (Pictured here is the excellent First Generation , by Chong Fah Cheong.) So I've created a photo set of those photos - haven't got many in it, admittedly, got to get down to scanning I guess. Any light you can throw on the artworks is welcome. For a comprehensive database, check out Peter Schoppert's Public Art in Singapore site .

Technorati, the death of a thousand cuts

Sometimes issues of scalability make for fun outcomes in real life - such as the mismatch of bridal gowns on discount to the number of rabid brides-to-be looking for dresses that constitutes the annual Bridal Event at Filene's Basement in Boston. But not in the case of blog searching. Kottke has written about something that's bugged me for a long time now: Technorati is getting worse and worse at its primary function of tracking down what bloggers are saying . Dave Sifry, creator of Technorati, had already noted the site's issues with scalability last month, which I thought was a good sign, but a month later the site is still really slow - that annoying "we're sorry, we can't complete your search, please add it to your watchlist" message pops up way too often for my liking. I'm more bugged out by the speed issue than the fact that Technorati misses links, but your mileage may vary. Indeed, from a user-interface perspective there are some minor annoya

Poetic License

A funny photo from the always-excellent Satan's Laundromat , an NYC photo blog: "Jesus, no smoking, bitch! I love New York." Now there's civic spirit for you. Taken from Satan's Laundromat Canal Street pics .

Esplanade Friday

Watched Dim Sum Dollies yesterday. I guess I didn't find it as funny as some of the rest of the audience seemed to: a decent enough revue, but not as side-splitting as I was hoping for. On the other hand, I did pass by " while you were sleeping ", a photo exhibition by Darren Soh in the Esplanade tunnel. Photos from Soh can be seen in the link - very stark and desolate, certainly not ways one tends to view Singapore. Bumped into Terz at the exhibit, which doesn't surprise me in the least, of course. Speaking of photos, here's a pic of City Hall and the old Supreme Court, as viewed through the lattice that is the Esplanade.

Desert Island Books

In response to a discussion over at a forum I frequent, here's a list of the 10 books I would bring with me to a desert island (assuming I don't need practical books such as the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook to teach me how to make fire without matches ): Shakespeare - Complete Works James Joyce - Ulysses Thomas Pynchon - The Crying of Lot 49 Nick Hornby - High Fidelity Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Love in the Time of Cholera Salman Rushdie - Midnight's Children Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita Monty Python - The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Words, Volume 1 Lenny Bruce - How to Talk Dirty and Influence People Paul Krassner - Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut Which is not necessarily a list of what I would think are the 10 greatest works of literature of all time - after all, on an island one needs to balance art and the need to laugh. Books I would miss, in no real order: Thomas Pynchon - V Thomas Pynchon - Gr

iTunes Library Updater

I'm quite particularly about how my files are organised, and I don't like how iTunes takes liberties to organise it by artist-album. Isn't that kind of against the singles spirit of MP3? You just end up with a lot of directories with just one file in them. So I'm loathe to let iTunes consolidate all my MP3 files, and I like how Winamp scans for new MP3 files within your music folders. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I was glad to discover the iTunes Library Updater , which updates all the files within your iTunes playlist to match the files you actually have on your computer. (Also very useful when I physically copied half my MP3 directories onto my external hard drive.) Technorati Tags: itunes , organisation

Southpaw Grammar

Okay, so I have a slight obsession with handedness ever since I had to learn to be left-handed for a few months after an army accident left my right hand broken (still use my chopsticks and mouse left-handed), but this article noting that most wild chimps are left-handed caught my eye: Richard W. Byrne of the University of St. Andrews in Fife, United Kingdom, who has reported on hand-preference in mountain gorillas doing complex tasks, said: "It now looks as if whatever gives a population skew to manually skilled behavior has its roots deep in the shared ancestry of humans and all other African great apes." Although of course, the article does also point out that the extent of handedness is overstated in people: Among humans, a right-handed preference has been estimated for about 90 percent of the population. But Byrne noted that the figure "depends on asking people which hand they write with, and in studies of nonliterate people's behavior, much lower figures (for

Graphic novels

Newsweek has an article on how graphic novels have become mainstream . Should've appeared much, much earlier, in my opinion - Persepolis and Jimmy Corrigan have been major novels for a while already. Since the article mentions the major American artists - Art Spiegelman ( Maus ), Daniel Clowes ( Ghost World ), Alan Moore ( The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ) - might I recommend the understated work of the Brit Raymond Briggs ? When the Wind Blows is perhaps one of the sweetest, saddest graphic novels I've seen on the topic of coming to grips with nuclear catastrophe. And Ethel & Ernest shows just how powerful nuanced personal history can be as a means of describing social history.

Roger Ebert pulls rank

Roger Ebert's review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo gets funny once it moves out of reviewing the film (probably too execrable to even make decent wisecracks about, but that's just my guess) and starts talking about the contretemps between Rob Schneider and the Los Angeles Times ' Patrick Goldstein, who had called the original Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo "a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic". Schneider retaliated by attacking Goldstein in full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter . In an open letter to Goldstein, Schneider wrote: "Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind ... Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a ca

Flickr? I hardly even know her.

Okay, I gave in and bought a Flickr Pro account - not that I needed the bandwidth, but my organising obsession meant I wanted to create lots of neatly-ordered sets for random photos from my past - slices of Singapore and America, travel pictures and so on. Here's one of the former police station at Hill Street, sans the colourful windows of its current incarnation as the MICA building but with the entire structure intact, rather than just the facade.

Fake Plastic Trees

I'm also quite into my Sony Ericsson K750i phone - the autofocus camera is really great to use, the tactile response of the keypad is superior to my previous phone, and while I never thought I'd find a use for Bluetooth, it really does make things easier. So here's a shot taken with the phone, the fake plastic trees of Changi Airport. A bit grainy, unfortunately - should have used the flash I think.

Singapore in the 1990s

While cleaning out my house, I came across a set of photos I took back in 1990 or 1991 around the City Hall area. Boy, a lot changes in 15 years: this is the junction of Coleman Street and Victoria Street, featuring a whole set of old shophouses that today is occupied by the Plaza Parkroyal hotel. More pictures can be seen in my Flickr page .

Linksfest: Every which way but loose

I should say this about last week's National Day Parade: I was involved in the parade three years back, in 2002, in a fun job - I was attached to Mediacorp for part of my National Service, and helped do comms. So it was nice to see the credits for the parade roll and some familiar names roll by - a big hi to Omar Palil. With that out of the way, here's a grab-bag of stuff I've chanced across this week: Man dies after 50-hour video game binge . A Flickr map of Springfield , town of the Simpsons, complete with notes. Now which way is Capital City? Also check out Map of Springfield . Lachlan vs Rupert Murdoch in the battle for the NY Post. Because I like these familial battles. Superdownsize Me: losing weight at McDonald's . Spurious? Car alarm rage . Okay, shooting the offending car is a bit too far, but who doesn't understand the feeling?

Women and computer science

" Why more women aren't geeks " was an intriguing headline, which I thought would lead to some sort of sociological discussion of what part gender roles played in the stereotype of "geekhood", but it turned out to be more ordinary than that: it was a reference to a study on what caused more women to go into computer science. Apparently compulsory math and science education at the high school level helps fight the common perceptions of what jobs men and women "should" do. most countries are influenced by the notion that men and women are naturally suited to different occupations. But what's different is that [German, Czech, and Belgian] schools do not require curriculum in math and science, and therefore encourage fulfilling those roles, according to the findings. Speaking of geekhood, apparently Napoleon Dynamite has sparked a liger resurgence . Technorati Tags: women , computer , science Carnegie Mellon Project on Gender and Computer Science

It takes two... or sometimes three

A Paradoxical Mind linked to a story from the Daily Telegraph headlined "Bigamist's secret life fell apart the day his three wives came to visit" . Now, I don't know what the Telegraph 's style guide says (Lord knows I don't read that paper), but clearly if you have three wives, you are not a bigamist. You are a polygamist. (And slightly mad, one might add.) The Telegraph actually uses the phrase "double bigamist", which is even more contorted: shouldn't a double bigamist have four wives?

What People Are Reading on the Subway, Part I

The main reason I prefer riding the MRT/subway to driving, sitting in a taxi, or taking the bus, is that it is only on the train that I can read, my propensity for motion sickness being what it is. I'm also an inveterate peeker - I like seeing what others on the train are flipping through. So, last week, I spotted - the newspapers, of course ( Straits Times, Today , and Lianhe Zaobao ). Virginia Woolf, Carlyle's House and Other Sketches a Malay to Arabic phrase book (I glanced over and caught "Restoran Arab ada?") D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers All this talk about likely/unlikely train reading makes a nice segue into Nick Hornby's article about a prison book club that had just won the Penguin/Orange Book Club of the Year award. I do think the use of the word "killing" at the end of the following paragraph was not necessarily the most judicious diction: I can only talk about a tiny percentage of prisoners in High Down, but if all British men we

Hot sauce (I'm coming)

Stumbled upon the Smoking Tongue , a blog dedicated to reviewing hot sauces. I have fond memories of trying out various ass-kicking hot sauces (in fact, I'm pretty sure one of them had that as its name: Ass Kicking Hot Sauce , complete with a picture of an ornery donkey in mid-kick). - and enough good hot sauce would add a nice fillip to otherwise bland dining-hall food.

So much to say

The nonquantum blog Schrodinger's Cat is Dead lists words to use more often , including "quiddity" and "propinquity", two of my favourites. I used to have one of these lists back in JC/high school, just words that tripped trippingly off the tongue. My own current list of words that I should employ more often seems to have lots of in- words: incarnadine; inchoate; iniquity. Technorati Tags: words

Grammar and semantics, the thug and slut

Language Log discusses the way grammar and semantics/meaning get personified with distinct genders: Someone should investigate the ways in which the grammar/semantics distiction is personified. Grammar is often cast as a fussy schoolteacher (a schoolmarm, in particular: Miss Fidditch) or some other kind of authority figure, a legislator or judge or priest (almost surely male). But grammar can also be seen as empty form, which on its own produces mere chatter without substance - a female stereotype. Meaning, in contrast, is configured either as substantial and significant (so: agentive and male) or as "natural", even earthy (so: passive and female). ( Link , via Feministe ) I suppose there's something in the human condition that makes it easier for us to respond to abstract concepts (such as grammar) when they are described human characteristics, but it's interesting to see how stereotypes can get buried in these personifications. Of course, who pays any attention to

The arresting image

Arranging my books, I've come to realise how often great, arresting images have compelled me to buy art books or to just stop and ponder. Which is both ordinary, because I do love art, and strange, because paradoxically, I don't think of myself as a person who thinks visually: if I met you and turned around, I doubt I would be able to say what you were wearing. So here's to the work of artists that have intrigued me, including Nan Goldin . (Image from - shows very well the level of intimacy that Goldin can achieve.)

National Day

It's a lazy National Day, with the country hitting middle age at 40. Funny in a way that my parents are older than my country. Anyway, since today's a lazy little Tuesday and I'm spending it organising my new rooms, I thought I'd put up a picture of the world's other cutest dog, the family dog Rerun, enjoying the new house. Rerun's a Cairn terrier, one of the few in Singapore. Like Coconut , he has a Dogster page . And, since everyone asks, he was named for the younger brother of Lucy and Linus in Peanuts . Ah, the Van Pelts.

Set list

A set list for Friday's gig is up. Very conventional stuff - haven't done hip-hop in a while, so I thought I'd stick to what I know. But as the fingers got warmed up it all came back to me; much fun. Incidentally, the music I really love, but I'm not ever sure would work in a bar/club, is old soul music - Motown / Stax / Atlantic stuff. (Am listening to James Brown's "Merry Christmas Baby" now.) I do know the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" seems to work in any setting, but that's such a great song I can't see it failing. Would be fun to try it out one day. Maybe it would be like that DJ gig Rob does near the end of High Fidelity (the novel), where he plays Solomon Burke's "Got to Get You Off My Mind": people gamely trying to dance. Ah, the wisdom of Nick Hornby: "When Laura hears the opening bars she spins round and grins and makes several thumbs-up signs, and I start to compile in my head a compilation tape for he

The V word

Apparently while an L.A. strip club could put "Live Nude Nude Nudes" as its sign, its new sign "Vaginas R Us" drew lots of complaints . Not quite Eve Ensler 's new play, I guess. And "nude nude nudes" seems a bit tautological. What, you mean, as opposed to clothed nudes?

Singaporean swims across the Channel

Just got off ICQ with PJ Thum - boy he's clearly exhausted. And small wonder: my congratulations to him becoming the first Singaporean to swim solo across the English Channel , doing it in 12 hours 24 minutes. A great physical feat. The Swim For Singapore training blog

On the Road, the film version

So according to the Hollywood Reporter, they're making a film version of On the Road , the classic Jack Kerouac novel, directed by Walter Salles ( The Motorcycle Diaries ). I guess, thinking about it, the Motorcycle Diaries does parallel On the Road in that it tells the story through the eyes of someone in thrall to a much more charismatic real-life character - Che in the former, Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady in the latter - and that's not always easy to convey in film. But despite liking that film , I remain skeptical of anyone's ability to adapt On the Road . On the Road was one of those books that made me want to go see America: the book for me felt alive with sheer manic energy, reckless and on the brink, sort of the literary equivalent of amphetamines. And that last paragraph - thinking of Dean Moriarty - always gets to me. In retrospect, I owe big thanks to Tom Katzenbach, my English 'S' paper teacher who let me go off and basically read whatever I wanted with

DJing at Hideout last night

Ack, forgot the flash attachment on my spankin' new cameraphone... but ooh, posting via Flickr. Quite cool. Thanks to all who came!


Some findings from the American Sociological Association's 100th annual meeting that might explain the behaviour that I tend to lump under "stupid macho bullshit": "I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Robb Willer, a sociology doctoral candidate at Cornell. Willer is presenting his findings Aug. 15 at the American Sociological Association's 100th annual meeting in Philadelphia. "Masculine overcompensation is the idea that men who are insecure about their masculinity will behave in an extremely masculine way as compensation. I wanted to test this idea and also explore whether overcompensation could help explain some attitudes like support for war and animosity to homosexuals," Willer said. ( Link via Neil ) Well, of course, support for war can stem from a variet

DJing on Friday, 5 August

Yup, I'm DJing again, this time doing a hip-hop set at Hideout , 31B Circular Road this Friday, 5 August. Jon Fong 's opening the night at 9-ish, and I'll come on around 11pm. Haven't played hip-hop out in a club in AGES. I'll try to blend in some mainstream and some more obscure stuff, maybe slip in a little old school... For those who've had trouble finding Hideout, it's on the top floor of a shophouse - 2nd floor is a karaoke joint - on Circular Road behind Boat Quay.

Feeling good

An interesting trend in advertising for women's products lately seems to be encouraging the consumers to be happy with who they are: Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty has its models plastered all over Singapore, while Always sanitary pads in the US now has a "Be Happy With Your Period" campaign . I guess ultimately it's still firms trying to sell things to people, but it does seem to be a step up from "make people feel bad so they feel a need to buy the product". Technorati Tags: women , advertising

Old time snacky goodness

Since moving has put me in a nostalgic mood, here's something for those who grew up in Singapore and Malaysia in the 1980s to wax lyrical about: (Via the Kinos Food Industries site .) Do they sell Kaka anymore? I mean, the company has a website, but I haven't seen it in stalls of late. Of course, "kaka" is also American slang for "poop" so I'm guessing the brand had limits to its expansion capabilities. Next up: Chickadees!