Checking in

I'm nowhere as hardworking as the esteemed Mr Wallace, but here's what I've been doing for the last four and a half months since I posted a blog entry:

Sunday in the park at Bishan

Unrelated to work, I have also been:
  • Running at the splendid Bishan Park.
  • Drinking an awful lot of tasty cocktails and whiskey.
  • Taking short vacations in the region (in fact, I'm off again tomorrow).
  • Watching movies in the cinema (Mad Max: Fury Road on the big screen --- oh yes).
  • Dealing with various personal things, as you do.
If you want more timely updates, I'm mostly on Twitter and Instagram these days. Also, I don't necessarily write in bullet points.

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#fridaynightcocktails redux

I was going to blog properly tonight while waiting for my hair to dry, but then I got distracted by emails for some of the things I'm juggling in addition to the day job:
The day job, for those of you keeping score at home, is working [freelance] on the revamp of the Singapore History Gallery at the National Museum. Today that meant looking at some World War Two artefacts. It's quite harrowing, when you think about it, to be looking close-up at something that was worn by someone on the frontline. Suddenly every scrape and stain on the object seems laden with meaning.

Edited to add (10 February, 8:50 a.m.):
I inserted "[freelance]" in the last paragraph. I'm not a full-time museum employee and it should be clear that I'm not writing in that capacity.

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Things you learn from watching reruns

I've been idly, irregularly watching reruns of the first season of The X-Files, after I happened by chance to tune in last week just as the first episode was airing on cable. I've never watched any of the seasons fully, and certainly never the pilot --- so it was something of a novelty to see Mulder and Scully right at the start of their grand adventure, back when Mulder seemed like nothing but a one-dimensional obstinate fanatic and the show hadn't quite nailed down how to portray Scully's intelligence yet.

Tonight's find: the actor Mark Sheppard, whom I first adored as Badger on Firefly and then as the excellent offbeat lawyer Romo Lampkin on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (which I've also been rewatching on my own). It turns out one of his earliest appearances on-screen was in The X-Files (season 1 episode 11, for those of you at home taking notes), as a man with pyrokinetic abilities. He didn't have that many lines, but he already had that trademark creepy, wide-eyed stare down. And the charmin' Irish brogue, of course.

Seeing him made me think of the "Hey! It's That Guy!" section of the website Fametracker, which like many gems of the late 1990s/early 2000s Internet, is now defunct. Between that and the fact that I was watching this on cable, I feel pretty old retro right now.

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Educating my iPhone

A phenomenon otherwise known as "damn you autocorrect". From today's recorrected autocorrects:
  • onsen, not Ibsen
  • jaunting, not haunting
  • prata, not pests
  • fyi, not duo
I can't believe the iPhone autocorrect doesn't know "fyi".

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Hey there

Three times today I had to tear parking coupons, and three times I caught myself just as I was about to pop out the tab for January, in time to switch to the correct tab for February. At a work meeting, I also started to tell someone, "We'll send you the document in late January ... er, I mean in the next couple of weeks."

By tonight, though, I got it right when I told ampulets that my birthday is next month. He said, "February?" and I got to retort, "No lah, today is February already."


Switching on the light again

"Fade...", a photography exhibition by Tan Ngiap Heng at the National Museum of Singapore, as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2015.

I've never been very good at New Year's Resolutions, so now that it's the last day of January, it seems to be as good a time as any to dust off the blog and acknowledge a few baby steps I've taken towards a few things I would like to get done this year:

1. Exercise more
I've signed up for a Pilates class with my old instructor (this will be the third time that I've taken a basic class with him) and at some point in February, I shall endeavour to acquire a pair of shoes that are suitable for more vigorous activities.

2. Revise the novel
After one year and one month away from the last draft of my first novel, I've dusted that off as well and started making notes on all the rewriting I need to do. Some parts of the draft are not as bad as I'd feared, others are worse and still others are just plain mystifying (was there a point to this scene/remark/character?). Miles to go, etc. For those of you who have been patiently asking, "So how's the novel?", well, now you know.

And yes, first novel. Because the idea for a second has been brewing for a while now, but I'm determined to get the first into better shape and give it a fighting chance out there (just load up on the sports metaphors, why not) before I work on the second.

3. Redesign this website
It's looking pretty mid-2000s around here, I know. More to come before 31 December 2015.

Unrelated to the above three non-resolutions, what prompted this post was reading "What Andrew Sullivan's exit says about the future of blogging" (via @sivasothi), which linked to Sullivan's farewell blog post as well as Lockhart Steele's "Back to the blog". I'm not making any grand declarations about blogging or my own posting frequency, but I thought I'd just send this post out while these things are on my mind.

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Say Anything

On Friday night, to unwind for a bit, I started to watch Say Anything, which I've never seen before. It's a teen romance classic, many websites and best-of lists have assured me, plus I've always thought John Cusack was cute, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I only watched the first 45 minutes before sleep got the better of me and I went to bed, but this is the impression that still lingers with me today: not the dated, cringeworthy pseudo-teen fashion of 1989, not how lanky and limber John Cusack looked, but the damn telephones and other technologies that populated each scene. In one of the earliest scenes in the movie, the cassette tape playing in Cusack's car gets jammed in the deck, and he smoothly wedges a piece of folded card between the tape and the deck to get it going again. Later, at a party scene, anonymous hands are popping cassette tapes in and out of a stereo with multiple tape decks; one even inserts the tape upside down (a detail I suspect would be lost on a modern-day teenager).

Back at the graduation ceremony, there's a scene --- obviously meant to be comical --- where the camera focuses on a whole crowd of parents holding up massive portable videocassette recorders to record the valedictorian's speech. Most tellingly, the teenager characters call each other on landlines using rotary dial telephones they carry into the bathroom for privacy or, in the case of a wealthier family, a cordless flip phone (a forerunner, no doubt, of early Motorola cellphone design).

This film is only 25 years old, but if they remade it today, the social dynamics and beats would be very different. If nothing else, filmmakers are still experimenting with how to represent texting in film without impairing storytelling.

I don't feel old, but I'm reminded once again that the trappings of modern life change very quickly.

On a related note, it turns out that a number of iTunes users today don't know who U2 is anymore and have been pretty candid online about it (link via Adrianna on Facebook; context: Apple is giving away the new U2 album free and it's automatically downloaded to one's iTunes account). Which makes me think about cultural touchstones as signifiers in the long run, and how they are read and remembered compared to, say, technologies. Which is also linked to why I think Friends is still relatively entertaining even though it's 20 years old and counting, but that will be a longer post for (I hope!) another time.

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