Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Forget the Em-Dash, Go Semi-Colon

Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, writing about the beauty of the semi-colon.

Besides, the semicolon is supple as well. It may imply relatedness; it may imply contrast. With perfect clarity, it nimbly separates elements of a list that themselves contain elements of a list. For example, "These days, the semicolon exudes an aura of the fusty, the fastidious, and the defunct; of mildewed stacks, tight hair buns, and prissily sharpened pencils; of hesitancy, diffidence, and uncertainty, in contrast to the em-dash, which exudes a spirit of strength, flair, and decisiveness."

Full essay

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some films adapted from books feel so right - that is, until you watch it and you realise how the director got it all wrong; It was totally different from how you imagined it when you read the book.

I'm still hopeful that one day I will be able to finish reading all of Colette's books (and she wrote so much, some of which have gone out of print in their English translations). I also happen to be a big fan of Michelle Pfeiffer. Which was why my initial reaction to the news of Cheri - the film adapted from Colette's Cheri - was delight. Then I saw the trailer, and I was a little hesitant.

Why? Because it felt too light-hearted - almost as though it was a romantic comedy. For Colette, her body was her temple - but she was uncannily self-aware of the nuances and contradictions of human emotions. Colette's books are lush masterpieces where you walk through the labyrinth of the human heart. They are complicated, layered narratives. This trailer, in spite of the sheer beauty and perfect bone-structure of Michelle Pfeiffer herself - makes me suspicious of the worthiness of the adaptation.

Still, I want to see Michelle Pfeiffer - who is now 50 years old - as a cougar of the Belle Epoque.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Want Ice Kachang

I'm giddy with excitement right now, the reason being: I've just confirmed the flight for my home visit. This means, if everything goes well, I will be back home in Singapore from 25th July - 15th August. I will be spending the Singapore National Day on my native soil. I feel very patriotic right now. :)

Need to make a list of things to eat when I'm home. I have decided the first thing I want to eat when I touch down in Singapore is Ice Kachang. Ice kachang is shaved ice flavoured with syrup, mixed with sweetcorn, redbean, palm seed, grass jelly, agar-agar cubes at the bottom. I love it when they add the condensed milk liberally. It's cold and sweet - the taste I want for a homecoming.

I know it's only May right now, but I am looking forward to going home. More than the food, I miss the people that I care about back home. I miss the crazy girls at my old work-place who dedicated a cupcake to me - because we used to share cupcakes during lunch.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Matt Taibbi, Reza Aslam and Naomi Klein with Bill Maher

Matt Taibbi, Reza Aslam and Naomi Klein on "Real Time with Bill Maher," May 8, 2009.

I'm Into Facebook Mafia Wars

I'm feeling a little guilty about the lack of posts these days. I want to be able to write something on a regular basis - both as a form of therapy and as a means of disciplining myself. Life of course has a way of interfering with all our plans (and our blogs, of course). Recently however, my excuse for not reading or writing more is my addiction to the Facebook game, Mafia Wars.

Mafia Wars is basically a strategy game on Facebook where you are a gangster. You build up a mob by inviting your friends to play the game. You buy properties, do jobs, fight/rob other players. It's an absolute time-suck. I started playing Mafia Wars only about two months ago, but I am so proud to have reached Level 101, earning the title of "Consigliere". (It's absolutely geeky, I know!)

It's a fact of life, that we gravitate towards those that share our interests. I have also joined a Facebook group of women Mafia Wars players. We hav "tagged" ourselves and formed an informal "girl mafia". We watch our girls' backs and we try to help each other in the game. I love the estrogen in my gang of mafia girls. Most of my Facebook Profile posts these days are about my Mafia Wars activities - and it's funny how responsive my Mafia mates are to these posts. I suddenly find myself in a strange virtual community of very generous and funny ladies, all because of a game.

I wonder about the amount of time and energy that goes into playing this game, and imagine if we channel the same amount of time and energy for something else. Can you imagine just what we can achieve?

PS: Starting today, I have set myself the goal of writing a blog post everyday. (Exccept on days when I have no access to the internet or my laptop dies on me) This probably means you will be privy to too much information on my life and other obscenities. I can't guarantee that everything will be interesting, and I promise you, a lot of it will be fly-by-cuff stream-of-consciousness. If you do choose to drop by once in a while in spite of the information overload, I thank you for your attention in advance. :)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Naomi Klein on The Rachel Maddow Show

Naomi Klein, on the Rachel Maddow Show, talks about the current bank bailout and how it fits in with her theory of the Shock Doctrine.

The geek in me is just happy to see two of my favourite women in the same room together, talking about the state of the world.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Life Here and Life Back Home

My resentment at work has been building up lately. Recenty I found out about some "cost-saving" measures, and part of it involves Upper Management f**king with our health care benefits. This is a sore point with me as I really do not want to be ill in Dubai without health insurance.

My seething rage is evident to all the managers right now. They advise me to calm down. I need my cool when I deal with bastards like these. My quick-temper will only led me to mistakes.

I am trying to lay low and just do my work today - as advised. But it must be my karma that trouble comes looking for me; H has spoken to the Upper Management about her moving out of the apartment. Today, Upper Management spoke to my Department Manager about MY accomodation. Upper Management - or as I call him now: The Cheap-Ass Bastard - feels that I should not be staying alone in a 2 bedroom apartment. The Cheap-Ass Bastard asked my Department Manager if I would mind moving out of the two-room apartment into a one-room apartment? But it will only be for 3 months. Three months later, they will try to move me to a one-room studio apartment.

Notice that no one is talking to me about where I should be staying?

I am also offended that I should have to move out of my current apartment. I had no complaints about my current accomodation. It was H who decided to move out. I could have lodged a complaint when H kept inviting her "friend" over to stay the night in her room. I did not. I did not want to get anyone in trouble.

Except I learnt that H went to the Cheap-Ass Bastard first, and she made it seem as though I was the one making it difficult for her.

Bitch. Now it's her word against mine, and she got her story in first.


On a more personal front, my friends Alice and Wilkie are moving to Australia soon. They had a little girl, Avery a few months ago. I remember how Alice first broke the news of her pregnancy to us in a cafe at Vivocity. We were so happy for them. Then I came to Dubai, and little Avery was born. Now Alice and Wilkie's Facebook updates are filled with Avery's pictures. There are some ugly babies out there - but Avery is really cute. I mean it. She is adorable. I love the pictures of that little girl - even though Alice refuses to take my advice and name her baby after me. :D

I have known Alice since we were classmates in college. We were 16 then, and now we are twice that age.

I remember how many of us would skip the dull Economics lectures. We relied on sober, hardworking Alice to help the absentees "fake" our attendance - oh, and to help take the lecture notes. Then one day, the lecturer found out Alice was the only one from our class attending the Economics lecture. There was hell to pay then. When we look back on our school-days, we don't remember what was taught during lectures. Instead, it's memories like these - skipping lectures, being found out and punished for it - these are the real memories.

I am looking back at my time spent in Dubai the last 6 months, and I don't have these pleasant memories. Instead, I feel a sense of loss. I am absent from my friends' lives - even as they continue with their lives. I have never met Baby Avery in person. Now that Alice and Wilkie are moving to Australia - Avery will probably not be a baby when I finally do meet her.

This leads me to wonder: Why am I working here in a foreign land, fighting with unpleasant people - when what would make me happy right now is just to pinch Baby Avery's cheeks before she is old enough to resent it? Or at least, to be able to send Alice, Wilkie and Avery off at the airport, as they leave for a new life in a foreign land.

I came to Dubai imagining myself self-sufficient, free of emotional attachment. Life away from home has proved me wrong. I am more invested in my relationships than I had assumed.

If The Cheap-Ass Bastard wants me to move, maybe I should oblige him. Right now, I just want to move back home. I have a real life that I care about back home. It feels like I am sacrificing a real life for nothing that I care about over here.