Showing posts from 2011

Fourth of July

Today I celebrate my second Fourth of July in Washington DC, and my fourth in the US, having spent one summer in Boston watching fireworks on the Esplanade and one summer in New York watching fireworks over the East River. Since this is a day where Americans consider their founding, I will draw a link to Paul Revere's son-in-law. Joseph Balestier was the first American diplomat in Singapore, serving from 1837-52. The name has always resonated with me, for reasons entirely personal. My parents met as teachers in Balestier Mixed School in Singapore. My first apartment was in Balestier. But "Balestier" was always just the name of the district where I grew up, nothing more. It took a chance reading of a historical plaque during a walk around the district, in my late 20s, to realise that the name carried a link to diplomacy and the longstanding US-Singapore connection. Today I celebrate with my American friends in a position that is the inverse of Balestier's: a Singa

Dancing in the Streets

Attended a wedding in New Jersey over the weekend, where the band (the very good Time Machine ) played these various Motown and 70s funk songs to get the older folks out on the dance floor. Which suits me fine, since any glance at my vinyl collection will show that I love Motown and funk. But I was struck by a thought: I wonder what present-day songs wedding bands will play in 30 years to get soon-to-be-old-farts like myself out on the dance floor? [Secondary question: what will someone in his or her 60s look like dancing to Flo Rida?]

Food for thought

I love American produce. Really fresh, particularly the vegetables. Such crunch the tomatoes have. I'm especially fond of farmer's markets. Incidentally, why doesn't Whole Foods, despite the name, sell whole chickens, head and feet? Such a misnomer...

Oscar bait

Two sure-fire Oscar-bait pitches for 2011: A socially awkward King-to-be overcomes stammering by tapping into dreams of a lesbian couple's ballet-dancing toys. To help a girl avenge her dad's death, a boxer in the Ozarks cuts off his arm and pokes people on Facebook.

Year of the Rabbits

Amber and Toby say: Happy Year of the Rabbit! Enjoy the Lunar New Year, one and all, whether or not you get the days off. (Sadly, work never sleeps, so I'll be working throughout.) And love your rabbits!

On Amy Chua, and Tiger Mothers

It has been astounding to me to see how the whole "Tiger Mother" furore has erupted in America, considering that the original text is so flawed. To be the cover story on Time magazine? My first issue with the Amy Chua excerpt that was published in the Wall Street Journal is methodological. Setting aside the question of definitions of success, to extrapolate a whole category of behaviour by an ethnic group (which may or may not be an ethnic group, seeing how she fudges her definition of "Chinese" mothers) from anecdotal data is completely ridiculous. Having come from Chinese parents myself, I could state just as confidently from my 1-family sample that Chinese mothers are loving, supportive, and always listen to the child and give him the space he needs to grow. And that confidence would be misplaced. The next concern is sociological. I fear that the Amy Chua article reinforces stereotypes of Asian education, and specifically that of Singapore's. I worry abo

On tea

It's not often I quote Christopher Hitchens, but his Slate article is right on about tea, at least teas of the Indian/Sri Lankan variety. Tea goes first, then hot water. As per Orwell . So much bad tea abounds. Incidentally, best tea I had in 2010 was at Crema Cafe in Cambridge, Mass.  Disclaimer: I didn't go back to Tea Luxe.

Ringing in 2011

New Year's weekend in DC: went to Pho 75 in Arlington for pho. Why are all DC-area pho restaurants numbered? There's Pho 14, and even Nam Viet calls itself Pho 79. Also went to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City; Eastern Market, only to find it was closed (always call ahead!); and Great Wall supermarket in Falls Church. But the best thing of the new year was discovering an old treasure: watching The Age of Innocence on Netflix streaming. There was one shot by Scorsese that blew my mind, composed almost like Seurat's Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte . The ending, sage about the passing of time and about the collisions and separations of happiness and passion, was a wonder.


Two thousand-one-one, party over, oops out of time... Happy new year one and all! And to warm up the new year, here's Cute Overload's Top 10 photos of the year . My favourite's the seal.