Possibly The Most Narcissistic Entry To Date!

(And in eight years of online exhibitionism, that’s saying something!) Yup, I did the Facebook meme, because why the hell not?

1. I lose any game of luck. Every visit I’ve ever made to horse or dog races, I’ve won nothing. The last time I got anything in a lucky draw was a scratch and win KFC towel when I was 7.

2. I dress like a grandmother. For my granny’s birthday, my mum suggested I buy her a new handbag, something simple with minimal compartments to confuse her with (she is 88). After some shopping I ended up buying her the same handbag I carry to work because it seemed the most suitable candidate. At Christmas, I bought her a blouse which turned out slightly too small for her. So I kept the blouse and have been wearing it myself.

3. I am really, really good at a 90s arcade game called Tumblepop. When I used to play it in arcades, sometimes people gathered round to watch me.

4. When I was a kid, we didn’t do any gourmet eating and the only Parmesan I knew was the powdered stuff in the green Kraft canister. My mental name for it (which I possibly also announced in front of other people from time to time) was “vomit cheese”.

5. I get why some people like affirming, self-esteem boosting mantras, but they are not right for me. I need to be constantly aware of where and how I suck, or else I will always be too lazy to improve.

6. I get irrationally annoyed when people ask me whether I’ve permed my hair, even if they have the best of intentions. Because WHY WOULD I PAY MONEY TO MAKE MY HAIR LOOK LIKE THIS???!!

7. I get irrationally upset when people do nice gestures, however small, which don’t get fully appreciated for whatever reason. Once, my Chinese tuition lesson got shifted two hours earlier in the day. I didn’t tell my mum, and she brought home some snacks for us to enjoy during the tuition session, except of course that by the time she arrived the lesson was over. It was totally inconsequential to her and the snacks just got eaten some other time instead, but I felt shattered and still remember it to this day.

8. Books and moving images have almost never made me cry, but music has brought me to tears countless times.

9. Oh wait! Actually, TV quite recently brought tears to my eyes. It was Yodsaenklai and his mom on The Contender: Asia.

10. I spend the work week suppressing almost every aspect of my personality, because it would not be well received in my work environment. I accept this as part of adult life, but also think I’ve withdrawn into myself as a result, and sometimes I struggle to bring the real me back to the surface even when I’m out of work with more like-minded people. I wish I were better at finding the balance.

11. I love watching lion dancing, especially the music that accompanies it. The rhythms of the crashes and bangs give me the same happy feeling that good drum’n’bass does.

12. My most hilariously undeserved life achievement to date is my Distinction in AO’level oral Mandarin. I got an Ungraded on the first try, which was fair. Then on the second try, the conversational topic was something damn easy like “How do you spend your spare time?” so I listed whatever hobbies I could actually name in Chinese (whether I actually did them or not), and tacked on the indispensable coda of BUT OF COURSE IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO ALSO SET ASIDE TIME FOR MY FAMILY AND AGING PARENTS.

13. To tolerate and/or fake enthusiasm (if it feels polite to do so) for babies/kids that don’t endear me, I pretend they are cats, because every cat endears me, even the ones which aren’t cute and behave badly.

14. I love temperate climates, including the darkest, shortest winter days.

15. I wish I knew which of my friends actually read my blog, not because I feel I am owed such attention, but because I don’t like the idea of boring people when we converse in person/email by recycling stuff I’ve written about there. I have other stuff to talk about, of course, but sometimes the blog stuff is fresher in my memory.

16. I eat unhealthily when I eat out, and quite healthily when I cook at home. This is because my top unhealthy loves (deep-fried stuff and rich creamy cheesy stuff) are more inconvenient/expensive to reproduce at home than simple vegetarian meals (which I often cook if I’m feeling too stingy to buy nice meat). I’m glad being cheap and lazy at least benefits me in one way.

17. I have never eaten yong tau fu in my life. It looks so totally unappetizing when other people eat it. [Edit: As a result of the rather entertaining comments that resulted from this list on Facebook, a friend has insisted that I allow her to introduce me to the joys of laksa yong tau fu, so I will be losing my yong tau fu virginity soon. This meme has CHANGED MY LIFE!!]

18. One of my happiest recent memories was when Alec threw me a surprise birthday party. I know it’s probably no big deal to other people but I’ve always had birthday angst and had secretly wanted one my whole life. It was a genuine surprise too!

19. My primary school collections included stamps, stickers, erasers, miniature metal airplane models, pencil lead (as in, if your colour pencil broke, I would ask you for the broken bit of lead and put it in my little container) and pencil sharpenings (a short-lived collection, the upkeep was messy). These days all my collections are digital, and include a Google Doc of dirty jokes.

20. I did a couple months of relief teaching in my old school to pass the time before university. For my last lesson with one of my classes, I was ahead of schedule with the lesson plan and had some spare time. So I told them dirty jokes. I acknowledge this was inappropriate.

21. Before the Internet, I used to listen to the American Top 40 every week and record each week’s list in an exercise book. I couldn’t imagine a day when I would not recognize any pop song on the radio within 10 seconds. That day has come, not because I stopped loving pop music, but because I started hating radio personalities.

22. In the early-mid 90s, there was a CD shop in Katong Shopping Centre which rented out CDs for $1 a day. They had a fairly good indie selection including Smashing Pumpkins, Sugar (can’t remember if they had Husker Du itself, but Sugar is what led me to Husker Du), Sonic Youth, Jesus And Mary Chain and the Velvet Underground, among others. I was shy at the time and barely exchanged words with the person working there (not sure if he was the owner), but if I could meet the owner today I would probably not stop thanking him/her for hours.

23. The chapel of Newman House student hall in London is a very special place to me. In a perfect world where expense and inconvenience to other people were no object, I would have wanted to get married there.

24. The day I left London to move back to Singapore was one of the most miserable days of my life and involved public sobbing at Heathrow.

25. I married my first boyfriend. Not a very 21st century thing to do, but when happiness is this easy, you hold on to it.

Ten Book Meme

Yish tagged me to do this. In other news, go buy Yish’s book, y’all! If you can get your hands on a copy, that is – I understand the bookstores carrying it are sold out.

1. One book you have read more than once
Which one to choose, anyone who loves reading and procrastination has read multiple books multiple times. I guess I’d single out Jane Eyre, which I first read at 8 and reread at 23. On second reading I suddenly realized that the first reading seemed to have moulded so much of my attitudes and personality, without me even knowing it.

2. One book you would want on a desert island
The Bible. Sorry, not the coolest of choices but it’s hella thick so I’d have lots to read, and if I can think of one good time to reconnect with my faith, being stuck on a desert island would be it.

3. One book that made you laugh
Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn is funny most of the way through, but there’s a scene near the beginning which is just spectacular. The enjoyment’s all in the reading so I won’t bother summarizing it, but for those of you who have read the book I’m talking about the scene in the ER when Lionel’s Tourette’s syndrome is making him erupt with fragments of the lame joke he was telling his dying mentor in the car.

4. One book that made you cry
No book has ever made me cry, but Dan Rhodes’ Timoleon Vieta Come Home once came close. If I’d been reading it in a different context I’d probably have been fine, but I was in a train on the way to see a friend whose mother had suddenly passed away, so I guess I was feeling emotional to begin with.

5. One book you wish you had written
The Power and the Glory (Graham Greene). It showcases everything I love about Graham Greene, who showcases everything I love in a writer. If I could only write with such frugal elegance, such precise insight, and such deep compassion, I might come a little closer to displaying those traits as a human being. Oh, and it actually has a plot. I’d never write a book with no freaking plot.

6. One book you wish had never been written
Can I have a series, please? All ten million volumes of Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time saga (I quit around volume 6 and am stupefied as to why I stuck around that long). Ye gods, there are more likable characters in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich than in these books.

7. One book you are currently reading
Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves is probably the one most worth mentioning since Kafka On The Beach is an utter pile of poo so far. It’s a damn hard book to explain though – go read the Amazon synopses.

8. One book you have been meaning to read
A hilarious cab ride with Olive, Erik and their incompatible reading tastes reminded me that despite meaning to read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest for the past eight years and borrowing it from my local library about five separate times, I’ve never started on it. Olive’s view: Lucky escape, hon. Erik’s view: READ IT! IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Which brings us neatly to…

9. One book that changed your life
I’m sorry but in all honesty I can’t come up with one. I mean, it’s like asking me to name one food that changed my life. No one food changes my life but obviously I can’t imagine life without food. (Man, I’m deep this evening.)

10. Now tag five people:
Remarkable Things [done!]
Shoopscoop [done!]
Solitary Fish [done!]
Atarashi [done!]
London Calling [done!]

Clan Of The Nick Cave Barenaked Ladies

This Coudal Partners contest on book/band mashups (via Daryl) is fun! Here are just a few of the entries that took my fancy:

  • Charlie and the C&C Music Factory
  • Chromeo and Juliet
  • Qur’an Duran
  • Courtney Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Bridge over the River Jamiroquai
  • The Odyssey and Cake
  • Pop Will Eat Shoots And Leaves
  • The Sun Also RZA (probably my favourite)

The contest’s over already, but as usual with these sort of things I couldn’t resist coming up with some of my own anyway.

Children’s books:

  • The BFG-Unit
  • Harriet the Spinal Tap
  • The Little Bonnie Prince Billy
  • The Curious Incident of the Snoop Dogg in the Three Dog Night
  • (double mashup!)

  • Smokey Robinson Crusoe
  • Alec Empire Of The Sun (okay objectively this one isn’t great but I’m sure you understand why it amuses me)

Penguin Classics:

  • Of Mice Parade And Men
  • East 17 Of Eden
  • Northanger ABBA
  • To The Lighthouse Family
  • The Autumn Of the Patrick Wolf
  • Mason And Dixie Chicks
  • Pnine Inch Nails
  • The Chemical Brothers Karamazov
  • Donna Summer Quixote
  • Tess of the D’urbervillage People


  • The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay Aiken
  • Kafka On The Beach Boys
  • We Need To Talk Talk About Kevin
  • If On A Winter’s Night A Blues Traveller
  • Anil’s Ghostface Killah
  • New Thom Yorke Trilogy
  • True History of the Kelly Gang Starr
  • Last Exit To Crooklyn Dodgers
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Ketchup

So awful that I just couldn’t leave them out:

  • W-iliad Grant Conspiracy
  • The Anticon-Tiki Expedition (yes, I know, record label)
  • The Bonjovifire of the Vanities
  • The Alcutchemist

Let’s hear yours!


I’m not generally into memes unless they’re about music but Little Miss Drinkalot tagged me, and at the moment answering the meme seems a lot easier than writing about King Kong, the Chronicles of Narnia (the movie plus, well, my entire childhood), the Lunarin gig we attended a couple of weeks ago, the Mormon who evangelized to us on the way there, the emergency surgery my family’s second cat (not Casey, we have a newish outdoors one I never got round to writing about here) had to undergo this evening, or Truman Capote’s The Grass Harp which is kicking my ass with its wonderfulness.

I avoid memes because they too easily become subterfuge for lack of content, but hey, today I’m using this meme to compensate for an excess of content! Which makes it okay! (Well not really, but I needed some token introductory paragraphs. Onwards.)

4 jobs you’ve had in your life

  • Relief teacher (In my old school, Katong Convent. Loved it.)
  • Tuition teacher (To one of my students there who needed a little extra help. Loved it.)
  • Recording for an automated phone voice message system ($100 per hour! Pity it only took 2.)
  • Lawyer (As part of my scholarship bond. It’s fine so far.)

4 movies you could watch over and over

  • Coming To America (Sexual Chocolate – best band name ever)
  • This Is Spinal Tap (“They were still booing him when we came on stage.”)
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (“You are HAIRY! Like ANIMAL!”)
  • The English Patient (Gorgeous book, film, lead actor.)

[Very different answers would have been given if this had asked for my 4 favourite movies. I only tend to do multiple viewings of movies that make me laugh or make me horny, but I still love many films that do neither.]

4 TV shows you love(d) to watch

  • The X-Files
  • ‘Allo ‘Allo
  • ________ Idol
  • America’s Next Top Model, baybee!

4 places you’ve lived

  • Bedok, Singapore (5 years)
  • Fitzrovia, London (1 year)
  • Bloomsbury, London (3 years)
  • Katong, Singapore (16 years and counting)

4 places you’ve been on vacation to

  • Istanbul (among other places in amazing, amazing Turkey)
  • Dubrovnik (totally worth every bit of energy and expense it took to get there)
  • Berlin (apart from London, the most fascinating city I’ve been to)
  • Krakow (you think you’ve heard it all before about Auschwitz, but you go there and realize that was all just…words)

4 places you would rather be

  • London
  • London
  • London
  • For variety’s sake, Berlin. But it’s really London.

4 of your favourite foods

  • Salmon sashimi
  • The McSpicy burger!
  • Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia
  • Garlic, any time any place any way

4 websites you visit daily

4 tagged

[Don’t worry, I totally won’t be offended if you don’t do memes and don’t want to do this. But it’s just that I’d be interested in your answers. :) ]

Waning Lyrical

I haven’t found time to write about my fantastic weekend yet, but gracet helpfully gave me a meme to fill the silence with:

“Find a song that everybody knows and put the lyrics into the Babelfish (http://babelfish.altavista.com/). Translate them from English to German, then German to French, and then French to English. Then post here with 3 clues. See who gets the song right first.”

I deliberately chose a song which had incoherent lyrics to begin with, but I still think this is pretty easy.

Translated lyrics:

Freight on rifles
to take in top your friends,
him it recreation is to lose
and it is a panel itself to pretend
more ensured me
white which I know
has word salts

Hallo (X 16)

the lights him we are here are maintained
maintaining to us less dangerously than I believe
than stupidly and contagious
here we are now maintained has us
Moskito of the Albino
has my Yea

me are more badly above than I make well
and for this gift
that I believe our small whom group
is always been and always the will at the end blessed

Hallo (X 16)

with the lights of him we are here maintained
it believes that stupidly and contagious
here we are now maintained has us
Moskito of the Albino
has my Yea

and that I precisely forget
what that it takes to us,
and but I estimate that it forms me smile
that I find to be hard hard for him, good OH-
found that also always, nevermind

Hallo (X 16)

the lights him we are here are maintained
now less dangerously than I believe
than stupidly and contagious
here we are now maintained has us
Moskito of the Albino
has my Yea


  1. A close friend of Neil Gaiman has regularly covered this song in her gigs.
  2. A parody of the album cover featured a donut in place of the greenback used in the original.
  3. The lead singer’s child is apparently middle-named after a legume.

Insert Cryptic Verbiage Here

This new ILM idea – Here, a thread featuring translations of song titles from their commonly known designation and into ACADEMESE, and then involving guess-work as to the original nomenclature in order to make a competition from this endeavor! – is really quite challenging! Here are some of my favourites. The first three are classic oldies, the fourth and fifth are recent pop hits, and the next three should be familiar to any (indie) music geek worth their salt.

  1. Let r1 be defined as the quantification of an undefined locus’ tendency to exist at a great distance from the Earth’s center. Let r2 be defined as a similar quantification of a layer of refractive aberrations in the Earth’s atmosphere, such that r1 > r2.

  2. It is hereby demanded that you will be romantically exclusive with me and assume an infantile moniker.

  3. Immense objects, in which every part is equally distant from one point within, in the state of a rapid, self-sustaining exothermic oxidation process.

  4. I liken the entire material and physical manifestation of your organism to a fictional world inside another fiction, a meta-world as it were; in particular, one put forth by the amateur pornophotographer and mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in the title of his most celebrated children’s tome.

  5. The question of investiture is moot.

  6. The central figure of Western religious culture under unique ownership designated to an individual.

  7. Urgently, such that the unstated presupposed occurence will actualize in mere seconds, minutes, hours, or similar temporal measurements which seem fractional (or perhaps even irrelevant) in comparison to normal tests of human patience. [I think this one is impossible unless you know that the artist is “My Sentimental Greeting Thoroughly Mauled”].

  8. Darkly colored iron-based alloy in the moderate time segment of great generalized disorder.

My rather average attempts. I wasn’t so good at academese, so for the second one I tried legalese. The first is a classic covered by everybody, the second is one of the cheesiest songs ever.

  1. At each and every point existing on the continuous surface of a man-made multi-level structure designed for outdoor surveillance, the name of which has also been adopted by a periodical first published in or around 1879 by a religious group or sect characterized, among other things, by its rejection of all Christian doctrine not believed to have originated in the Bible.

  2. I hereby assert my entitlement to copyright and all related authorial rights, including (but not limited to) moral rights insofar as these are recognized by any and all applicable legal regimes, with regard to lyrical and musical arrangements composed by me which induce vocal utterances perceived to be melodic by those emitting them, such vocalizations being emitted by all matter existing on the planet Earth.

(Answers can be found behind the link to continue reading, but it’s more fun if you give it at least a bit of a try before peeking!)
Read More “Insert Cryptic Verbiage Here”

And You Will Know Us By Our Nametags

Some of my favourite responses so far from the ILM thread Make A Band Name More Reasonable:

  • Slayer (But Only When Negotiation Has Ceased To Be A Tenable Option)
  • Aboveaveragedeth
  • !!
  • Death Cab For Anyone Who Needs A Ride
  • Strained Relationships Scene
  • A The
  • Carter The Hesitant Kissing Gadget
  • Jane’s Character Flaw
  • Optionalic
  • LCD Couple Of Guys With Some Music Equipment
  • …And You Will Know Us By Our Nametags
  • Warm Warm Warmth
  • The Current Sound Of Basingstoke
  • Groove Flotilla
  • Queensbundestag
  • The New Eroticists

My contributions to the thread:

  • Soundmanslaughterer
  • Meanwhile Back In A Russia That, In Marxist Political Theory, Would Be More Accurately Described As Socialist
  • DJ Penumbra

My First Meme

I’ve taken a while to grasp Mayee’s baton, but never let it be said that I would turn down a rod when extended.

1. What’s the total size of music files on your computer?
11.75 GB. I try to keep things under control through a tedious and unbelievably anal routine of tagging, compiling, burning, tracklist printing, and finally cramming (into grievously overcrowded CD shelves). Please don’t ask me for the number of songs, the files are already kept in three different places on the hard drive and I had to do some mental arithmetic just to get that first figure.

2. What is the last cd you bought?
Minesweeper Suite (DJ /Rupture), but it hasn’t arrived in the mail yet.

3. What is the last song you listened to before you read this post?
Whaddit I Done (Animal Collective), which ended conveniently in time for Alec to get to sleep. I don’t think it’s very easy to sleep to Animal Collective, unless of course you’re one of the people I saw them with in April 2004 (they were opening for Múm), who whispered “This is awful!” within the first five minutes of their set and promptly fell asleep. His loss.

4. Name four songs that you listen to a lot or that mean a lot to you.
I only get four? You might as well ask Mozart to pick four notes, the Pope to pick four Amens, and Bai Ling to pick four fucks. This is oppressive. But here’s a list, if you insist. (I write my own rhymes, yo.) It’ll probably be completely different if you ask me tomorrow, except for the first song.

  • ‘Cross The Breeze (Sonic Youth): Daydream Nation, and this song in particular, rewired my fourteen-year-old brain. I never listened to music the same way again.
  • Twice The First Time (Saul Williams): I was eighteen or thereabouts. Music downloading was just beginning to take off, but obscure stuff was still hard to find (online, let alone in Singapore). Out of almost everything I was looking for, this was the only song I actually managed to find and download, and for a while it was one of a very few mp3s on my computer. I listened to it obsessively, freaked out when I lost it in a hard disk crash, and was eventually joyfully reunited with it when Jeremy gave me Xen Cuts. (A recentish post where I show it some love.)
  • Complicated (Ben Gibbard’s cover): Because it’s hilarious.
  • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Daft Punk): Because it’s perfect.

5. Which three people are you passing the baton on to and why?

  • Benny: Because it’ll force him to update his frickin’ blog.
  • Don: Because he’s just started a blog, and I’d like you all to go read it. And because he not only makes music but is brave enough to play it to a bitch snob like me.
  • Laces: Because his answers would probably involve music I’m clueless about. Hurray!

The A-Z Of Obsession

I don’t usually bother with memes, but this one about choosing your favourite musicians from A to Z (from largehearted boy and previous sources) is fun, if agonizing. The distribution of great bands across letters of the alphabet is so cruelly uneven!

A: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
B: Beck
c: Calla
D: Bob Dylan
E: Missy Elliott
F: Fugazi
G: Grandaddy
H: David Holmes
I: Interpol
J: Michael Jackson
K: Knifehandchop
L: Low
M: Mogwai
N: Neutral Milk Hotel
O: Outkast
P: Pixies
Q: Queen
R: Radiohead
S: Sonic Youth
T: Amon Tobin
U: U2
V: Velvet Underground
W: Wilco
X: Xiu Xiu
Y: Yo La Tengo
Z: Zwan

The list of honourable mentions which only narrowly lost out to these is so long I gave up typing it halfway.