Archive for January, 2006

Say what?

What are people in Singapore talking about? Find out at Overheard in Singapore. It’s modelled after Overheard in New York, which I love because it provides a taste of the New York zeitgeist without having to download any audio files. Hopefully, the Singapore site will do the same.

If you live in Singapore, contribute something today! (I would’ve already if this hadn’t been one of those lazy, rainy Sundays spent at home with the husband, which doesn’t provide much in the way of opportunities for eavesdropping.)

Who says that ads don’t work

AIDS campaign poster

Originally uploaded by warheart.

Spotted this at a bus stand outside my home. For those outside of Singapore, the bus stands over here have medium sized glass frames which have advertisments placed in them. I froze when I saw it. Basically, the aim of the advertisment was about the prevention of AIDS, but the concept rocks. You really don’t have to say a lot in advertisments, but make sure you put your point across in the neatest way possible, and this is one great example imho.

This is freakin’ morbid. But then I’m morbid too. Totally dig it.

Road side hawkers

As a kid, I never had the chance to sample the sometimes stomachache causing delights of roadside hawkers like my parents had. As a result, I’m some what immensely curious whenever I see those small illegal bus stop/MRT food sellers peddling their wares of curry puffs and what not.

Its only until recently that I’ve began to realise that these food might have actually been home cooked — and that in my books is food far better than what I can get at Old Chang Kee.

Perhaps I’d give these food a chance the next time I see a hawker selling them. Of course, I’d bring along my charcoal pills for safety’s sake.

Is that a napkin in your lap or are you just happy with your food?

Darren Barefoot wonders, how do you protect your lap? — which got me thinking about napkin use here in Singapore.

Most times, in a casual eatery that offers napkins as part of the table place settings, I see people ignore the napkin until the end of the meal when they use it to wipe their lips (unless some kind of spillage or splashage during the meal precipitated its prior application). But in more formal restaurants, or at least those establishments that offer actual cloth napkins, people tend to lay them on their laps, no problem.

I’ve laid a disposable napkin on my lap before, and sometimes it’s weird when the napkin’s so thin you know it probably wouldn’t offer much protection against any food stains anyway. But I do it out of habit, which I picked up when I used to live in the States for a bit: everyone seemed to automatically stash the napkin in their laps, regardless of how informal the restaurant was.

Of course, what’s de rigeur here when eating out casually is the packet of tissue paper! Handy when not only dining at hawker centres, which typically don’t provide any napkins or serviettes, but also to chope (reserve) your seat when it’s crowded, so that your seat’ll still be there when you get back from ordering your food.

I used to think carrying a packet of tissue paper was a girl thing, but most of my guy friends aren’t shy to whip one out when the occasion demands it, so I’m happy to report that on this front, at least, there need be no battle of the sexes.

Do you diligently lay a napkin on your lap whenever you’re eating someplace that’s nicer than a hawker centre?

Rules of Chinese New Year design

Red tidings overhead 红包拿来 My eyes, my eyes!

The Chinese New Year is almost upon us, which means it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the rules of Chinese New Year design:

  • Use as much bright red as possible, accompanied by as much gold detail as your heart can take. Repaint your home red and gold, if possible.
  • Make everything as large as it can be. Don’t let minor considerations like good taste or cost hinder your creative impulses.
  • Strike a good balance between using traditional Chinese characters and motifs like oranges (in gold, of course) with modern innovations like cartoon animals that sing and dance!
  • Did we mention to indulge in red and gold already?

Ah, the Chinese New Year — giving everyone an excuse to be tacky.

Bookstores past and present

Mega chain bookstores have a bad rep in the US, where they’re accused of, among other things, exerting disproportionate control over the book publishing industry, putting independent bookstores out of business and promoting mainstream tastes at the exclusion of all else.

In the Singapore context, however, I can only express undying gratitude to the two mega chain bookstores that set up shop here in the last ten years: Borders in 1997/8, I believe, followed by Kinokuniya’s opening of a megastore in 1999. Before that, what did we have to put up with? A plethora of Times the Bookshop outlets — with their countless shelves of marketing, self-help and children’s books and little else — and a smattering of MPH outlets, which was marginally better but far from being a real bookstore.

And it wasn’t as if I had terribly esoteric reading tastes. I remember ploughing through the shelves at Times and MPH when I was in school, trying to find some solid literary fiction or science fiction/fantasy tomes, only to be confronted with the same mind-numbing selection of bestsellers and marketing nonsense. Thank goodness for Sunny Bookstore at Far East Plaza, which had a far better selection, assuming you could put up with the fact that all their books were stamped irrevocably on the opening pages with the purchase and rental prices.

And then Borders opened, and Kinokuniya showed us what it was really made of, and there was cause to hope again.

I don’t know anything about the book retail industry, in Singapore or elsewhere, but I can imagine that the reason that I can find all sorts of esoteric titles at Borders and Kinokuniya, not to mention a wider selection of regular fiction than anything Times or MPH together used to offer, has something to do with the fact that they benefit from economies of scale and such things that smaller outfits like Times and MPH don’t. And I’m not saying we should support the big chains exclusively because they bring us all kinds of books that small ones don’t; there are independent bookstores like Tango Mango at Tanglin Mall that are well worth the average consumer’s time and patronage, assuming that their interest is best served by the kinds of books the independent bookstore specialises in. But I don’t mourn Times’ and MPH’s consequent decline because I don’t think they added anything in particular to the local book scene (unless one is supposed to patronise them sheerly out of some nationalistic impulse).

Anyway, what prompted this little jaunt down memory lane was the fact that I spent an hour in Kinokuniya last night doing research for a job interview, which is something I couldn’t’ve done in the pre-Borders/Kino days. It wasn’t research I could’ve done at the library, either at least not without a great deal more inconvenience. Which makes me think I ought to write a post about what’s annoying about the National Library’s loan collections next…

Quality TV Programs

Okay. Perhaps I have no right to complain because it isn’t justified to spend that much extra cash each month for cable channels I probably wouldn’t have time to watch, but its depressing to know that after a hard day’s work (or school) I’d come home to crappy programs on the television networks we have.

If not for the internet I think I’d truly go mad. Now to hit up Grey’s Anatomy Season 2.

Pragmatic pragmatism

So it seems that we here are a pragmatic lot, whether it comes to the political system (which I won’t attempt to delve into), or when it comes to anything to do with donations and sponsorships. To be brutally honest, the important question here would probably be “what’s in for me?”. Sounds mercenary, but hey, principle of equivalent trade.

A friend of mine is currently leading her team of water polo girls for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, but they don’t seem to have a sponsor, which I found strangely odd. As a result, they had to pay for their own tickets there. What? they’re competing for the school and they have to pay to play on BEHALF of an organisation? That’s lame man. Currently, she’s raising funds for the group by selling tickets for Memoirs of a Geisha at a higher price. I bought a ticket as a show of support, even though it probably means that I’ll have to eat a little cheaper for the rest of the month.

I don’t really know the exact details of why no sponsorship was offered so I shouldn’t be pointing fingers in random directions, but I sure hope the reason is not due to the fact that the girls’ waterpolo team has not shown much results yet, being formed just recently. If I’m right, I’ll really be quite disappointed.

Just a funny thought.

Recently our Civil Defence force conducted an island wide (so to speak) exercise involving multiple bombing scenarios with elements of chemical and biological attacks thrown in. As interesting and probably inconvenient as it might be, the exposé by Channel News Asia kind of leaves me with a very weird feeling.

For one, Channel News Asia some how made things look fake. I don’t know about other people, but the general vibe I got from watching that program was one where it was meant to show off and not really as an exercise.

Even more worrying perhaps is the fact that terrorist might actually be able to use information from the program on free to air TV as well as the news network that spans the region.

I don’t know, I just feel weird about the whole thing. Perhaps its because I spent my NS in the Army and not the Civil Defence Force.

Funny Radio Ad

When I was in Singapore and was riding in my dad’s business partner’s car, I kept hearing this rather funny ad regarding fish tanks. This guy wanted to buy a 30 ‘foot’ fish tank.

Yes, you heard me, 30 feet. Not gallons.

The kicker was the end of the ad, where the seller offered to sell fish to go with the tank. The offered fish? Dolphin, Stingray, etc.

The point of this post is a small plea to the lazyweb. This is one of the funniest ads I’ve ever heard, and I was wondering if someone can score me a recording of it?

Also, you s’poreans are fricking hilarious. Creative, and hilarious. =)

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