A morning at the museums

Graffiti galore

It's International Museum Day today, which meant free admission at quite a few museums, which meant I really had to get off my ass and go see all those art exhibitions I'd been talking about.

Step 1: Find a friend who would be equally keen in seeing some artwork on the weekend.

Step 2: Make plans around his schedule, so that I won't feel that it's one of those wishy-washy slash "flexible" arrangements that I can bail out on. Even if it means meeting him at 9:30 on a Saturday morning.

Step 3: Go go go!

Our first stop was the Matthew Ngui retrospective, Points of View, at the National Museum of Singapore. I hadn't seen much of his work before, so it was cool to wander around a darkened space, looking at videos and installations that seemed to be all about fragmentation and deconstruction. My favourite piece: Swimming: at least 8 points of view.

Swimming, by Matthew Ngui
Image taken from The Kakiseni Blog

Next, we cut across SMU to the Singapore Art Museum, which was sadly much less populated, even though it was free admission there too. I wanted to see the Alberto Giacometti exhibit, because I'd stumbled across quite a few of his sculptures during my museum rambles in Paris and London last year and liked them very much indeed. As it turns out, the visiting exhibition here consists mostly of his pencil sketches, which are nice too but not as fun to look at as the sculptures.

Since we were already at the museum and they had a whole bunch of other stuff for us to look at, we ended up wandering from room to room at random, seeing Xu Beihong, various Southeast Asian artists and a whole dollop of contemporary Vietnamese artists who were probably the most colourful of the lot. Ironically, the Vietnamese art galleries were the most deserted in the entire museum --- yet they were also the most interesting (to me, anyway). Note to self: visit more art galleries the next time I'm in Vietnam.

Because the museums were having free admission, there were more people than usual for a Saturday morning. Nevertheless: the parents at the National Museum were all making a beeline for the child-friendly Mozart: A Child Prodigy exhibition (we didn't bother going in because it was so crowded we'd've had to take a number and wait our turn). I saw less than five kids in the Matthew Ngui exhibition right next door; ditto in the entire Singapore Art Museum.

I know that "kids" and "modern art" are terms that don't generally occur in the same sentence (unless the sentence is a dismissive "A lot of modern art looks like it was made by kids"), but the only way kids will get less afraid of art they don't immediately recognise or understand, is if they have the chance to run around, look at it for as long (or as short) as they'd like, and go away knowing that they don't have to fully "get" its "meaning". While I was predictably grumpy as a kid whenever my parents schlepped me off to some art exhibition, seeing all kinds of weird (to my pre-adolescent eyes) shit went a long way towards normalising the idea of visiting a place with artwork.

I still don't get most of what I see, but I like looking at it and I know it when I really, really like it.

International Museum Day activities continue tomorrow and Monday. No more free admission, alas, unless you happen to be a senior citizen, but there's still plenty going on. I might pop by the Viet Fest as the Asian Civilisations Museum tomorrow, to see if I can ferret out a fresh spring roll or two ...



Not aliens, just an uncontacted tribe

BBC News has images from the Brazil National Indian Foundation of an uncontacted tribe that lives along the Brazil-Peru border. First of all: cool. Second of all: there are still uncontacted tribes? Third of all: Is it just me, or do the images make it seem as if they're a species on an alien world being visited by us?

It's the aerial perspective, I guess, not to mention the fact that their bodies are covered in red and black paint. Every time I see one of the men wielding an arrow or spear at the photographer-interlopers, I wonder what they're thinking. Do they think the helicopter (I assume the photographer(s) travelled in a helicopter) comes from the gods? Another planet? Other civilisations?

It boggles my mind to think that I'm sitting here, blogging about this, a blog post which could potentially reach any wired person in the world, while talking about it on IM and Facebook --- and I'm looking at an uncontacted tribe.

Okay, I'm going to go look at the images some more ...


This is neither here nor there

So I know my tastebuds haven't fully covered when even several pints of Heineken don't taste right.

Nevertheless: an interesting conversation with an Australian pilot who used to fly beer, fish and government officials around his home state of Queensland. When quizzed about what race he thought I was, his verdict was not Chinese, not Malay, he wasn't sure what. (He's been living in Asia for seven years, so he's not unaware of the niceties of Asian appearances.)

It's been a strange sort of week. Only half my tastebuds are working. I don't have that much work, so I feel like I'm forgetting to do stuff when there just really isn't that much to do. The best friend is having an extended hospital stay due to complications instead of home with her new baby, which makes me worry but I can only do that from a distance since she needs lots of rest as opposed to visitors or long phone calls.

I feel like I'm in limbo, waiting for life to resume its normal transmission.


An occupational hazard of being an editor

This week on Facebook, I announced that I was geeky enough to have read The Economist Style Guide, prompting two friends to step forward and say that they, too, had done it. Along with Suzie, who recommended the book in the first place, that makes three people I know who've read it.

What impresses me is that the other two not professional editors. And they're guys --- almost everyone I know who loves quibbling over the placement of a comma or the capitalisation of a word is, like me, female. Make of that what you will.

Speaking of The Economist Style Guide, I was reading it on the bus and an older gentleman (probably in his 60s) sitting beside me keep glancing over my shoulder at the pages. Eventually he asked me what the book was. I showed it to him and he nodded approvingly, then asked where he could buy it.

Even geekier than reading the Style Guide, I realise, is triumphantly spotting typos in it.

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What you missed hearing me whine about this week

"I have no tastebuds. I can't taste anything. Okay, I can taste like the first bite, but after that, that's about it." This morning, I could taste the first few bites of a McDonald's breakfast. And here I'd only ordered it because I thought I'd be immune to its taste.

"I, er, don't really have any work to do." It's been a light week, which is a novel experience for me. I didn't broadcast my availability too much because I was still recovering from last week's cold and not being able to taste was making me crabby. Plus it'll be nice to coast along for a bit till I go on vacation in mid-June.

"I can't believe the Myanmar 'government' is still being an ass." I don't think this point needs any further explanation.

"The weather is crazy lah!" Feels like the hottest it's been yet, though it could also because I only just realised this week that the afternoon sun falls squarely on the front of the apartment where I live. And as everyone keeps reminding me, it's not even July yet (which is traditionally the hottest time of the year).

See? Even though I didn't blog, you didn't miss much.

Today is all about humming the Indiana Jones theme. Now I want to watch the original trilogy all over again ...


I have no tastebuds

I thought the Coke tasted a bit flat yesterday, but maybe the warm weather got to it. I thought the beef bourguignon didn't quite turn out right, but maybe I'm just a bad cook (plus the cousin had certain views on the recipe I followed).

But when today's green tea and sashimi left the same sensation of a missing taste over lunch, I knew my tastebuds were in revolt. So much for getting better. It's very frustrating to try and obtain a taste, any taste, when every successive attempt seems more futile. Besides the Japanese food, I tried mint tea, a mini Milky Way and a mini Mars bar, and some pizza. Only the pizza yielded some flavour because I sprinkled chilli flakes all over it. The only thing that tasted "right" today was water.

My mom says I should try to eat and drink stuff that is sourish, so maybe tomorrow will be all about tom yum soup and lime juice.



Emerging from the sickbed

After three days of almost constant medication and sleeping as many hours as a baby, I finally feel more like myself again.

This was the first time that my falling sick coincided with a period when I didn't have that much work to do, so I could take it relatively easy on Friday and not panic about losing work time. Even so, lying about for two days and not having the energy to do more than watch some TV (I didn't even feel like blogging) made me feel like the days were just passing me by.

I think the cats were mystified by how much I slept. This morning, Ink tried to remedy that by waking me at 7:30 with some very insistent mewing. I thought he wanted food, so I got up and fed him (and Sisu). They ate quite happily, but as it turns out, Ink's mewing might have just been about trying to get to the top of a particularly high cupboard.

I'm actually feeling well enough to cook a real meal for tonight. We'll see how it turns out.



What is wrong with these people?

I had to work this past weekend, so no book-reading day for me. It's also hard to relax when every time I so much as glanced at the news, I would get angry with the Myanmar government all over again ---

(This is what happens when you prop up crazy military regimes, you know? You can keep saying that economic development will pave the way for political liberalisation and development, but now more people are dead than the mind can comprehend and the country's self-appointed leaders have shown once and for all that they really don't give a damn about the dead, dying or the living --- in short, about anything other than themselves. How do you like them apples?)

--- and getting angry at the Myanmar government makes it difficult to blog about anything else. As a friend just said on her Facebook status, it's amazing, "the difference in coverage between the [Myanmar] hurricane and the [China] earthquake."


Click on it --- you know you want to

Is it any surprise that the most popular BBC News story right now is, "Great tits cope well with warming"?

Oh, human beings --- so predictable. If an alien race wanted to come down and trap us all so it could take over the planet, it would just have to label its trap with the words "great tits" and its work would be done.

I clicked on it too. But that was in the email of daily BBC news, which had it listed as the top story under Science/Nature rather than Health, so I figured it was about some odd creature rather than, well, you know.



Brand loyalty

Reason to buy the same brand of cell phone year after year: so that when one of the cats (Sisu, I'm looking at you) chews through the cord of my phone charger, I'm not too panicked because I've got plenty of spares.

This does make me nervous about all the other wires I have lying around though ...



The laziest weekend of them all

Yesterday, I woke up at 11ish, met a friend for lunch at 1ish, came home after and surfed the web desultorily for an hour or so, then passed out for an hour and a half --- before waking up for a carbo-laden birthday dinner that nearly sent me right back to bed again. Thank goodness that the friend whose birthday it was kindly invited us all back to his place for (Irish) coffee afterwards, so sleep was postponed for several hours.

To forestall a repeat of that sort of embarrassing sleep schedule today, and since I was sick of the internet and my laptop, today I betook myself off to a cafe to read for the afternoon.

First stop: the Cedele outlet at Frankel Avenue for decent coffee and lunch to go with the reading. There was chocolate cake too, which is no Lana, but still very good indeed.

A little weekend reading

Then there was Starbucks at Parkway Parade, because the friend who'd joined me for lunch likes working there, and he needed to be working today. Which gave me plenty of time to finish Anansi Boys, and buy breakfast for tomorrow, and window-shop a little, and just daydream the rest of the time away.

I have read only 6 books this year and one-third of the year is already over. Maybe every Sunday should be book-reading day.



Lianhe Zaobao in the news

I know I spend a lot of time slagging off on the local mainstream media, but let's give it a little props where it's due: Lianhe Zaobao gets mentioned today on the BBC as having exposed the story of Taiwan losing US$30 million of public funds meant for diplomatic negotiations with Papua New Guinea.

It's nice to have the country's press mentioned in a somewhat do-gooder fashion for a change and without an interjection like "government-friendly". Maybe it helps that Singapore and Taiwan don't have official diplomatic ties (even though the army boys still go there for training).



Instead of cooking

I had an inexplicable craving for delivery pizza tonight, so for the first time in over a year, I called Sarpino's and put in an order (with a friend standing by to help with the eating). The best part was that between us, we polished off the two 10" pizzas and side order of chicken wings, so there were no leftovers for the fridge, hurrah!

I would've cooked dinner but I've run into plumbing problems again: one of the pipes running from the kitchen sink has sprung a leak. A friend is gonna help seal it up this weekend, but meanwhile I'm avoiding any kitchen activities that would entail washing the dishes with soap. The hardest part is, predictably, not being able to make coffee in the morning.

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