Saturday, September 17, 2005

Last night was a packed working/social evening. NBS and I finally went on our book shopping spree that we had been anticipating since June (the month, not the wife). We need to stock the college library with books for the New Subject so next year's kids can have something to read when they take it up. We went to Kino, Orchard, and pulled an assortment of stuff from the Mythology, Philosophy, Media, Mathematics and General Science sections. Filled up 2 baskets and did a rough calculation: over $1K worth of reading material in under 1 hour of shopping. Whoever said that education was cheap? Kids better appreciate the expense, else grrr....!

Then we took the MRT to PS to meet Vince, Amy, Yee, HP and her sis, SP for dinner at the food court. Got news from them that Amy has finally beaten each of us Gutter Boys at least once. They had gone training in the afternoon and through a Pearl Harbour maneuvre (actually Yee was just blur) Amy hit him with a 139, her personal high to date. I think she's ready to replace Anthony next week. Yes.

By 9 NBS had to go home before she turned into a pumpkin so we waved goodbye to her while we went on to watch "The Brothers Grimm." Yee had already watched it so he took care of his own agenda. Think I'll review "Grimm" after I watch it with June (the wife, not the month) next week.

After the movie, Vince got hungry so it was teh alia (tea with ginger) at Rosyth and miscellaneous chat and gossip till way past midnight. Hence this late entry.

Today was a completely different social dynamic. Just me alone with Q-tip and Mimi. Haven't heard my voice all day today except to order food; oh, and to murder the songs I sang along to played off my 'pod. If no one's around to hear me, I can indulge myself, ok?

It was a beautiful sunny day, so I took the dogs to Sentosa for lunch at the Trapizza. I owed them a major outing for neglecting them all last night. Ordered the Trapizza Linguini, a seafood pasta in tomato sauce. It was ok, though not quite what I hoped for. But if you asked me what I had hoped for, I don't actually know either.

Q-tip flirted with an Aussie couple on the beach and Mimi was an embarrassment, screaming her head off at a larger dog just passing through and minding its own business.

Evening I abandoned the dogs again and went into town looking for dinner. Was feeling restless and needed to take a long drive and blast music at the same time. No parking available anywhere in the Suntec City/Marina Square/Esplanade area. The whole of Singapore must have come out early to party downtown or something. Settled for parking at Funan Centre (again!) and found a beef noodle thingy in the basement food court. My order tasted like offal and tripe, gravy over-salty, beefballs mushy. Yuck. Couldn't down the whole thing but I still tried to eat enough to look respectable.

Whiled away a bit more time with a black forest ice-blended, a welcome change of the taste in my mouth after dinner.

Now back home again with a couple of comatose canines for company. How exciting.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

June's off in BKK again, some family time and annual shopping pilgrimage. Left to my own devices for the weekend, though she left me with lots of provisions to keep myself contented and occupied.

But training goes on as usual. This time at the new alley at Marina Square. Primitive scoring interface, but authentic wooden lanes. Pins don't fly well. There are occasions where pins skim across the surface of the target area and still remain upright. Frustrating, that.

And our neighbours on our left were a bunch of good 'ol boys presumably out on a company function or something. Noisy and with very little bowling etiquette. They take a long time to line up for a roll, chatting while they aim. Occasionally they will decide not to roll after all so back they go to continue that thread of gossip they had left off. Irritating, but they were out to have a good time, so whateverrr.

Yee's getting better with his new ball and is now striking more often, I still have problems with consistency. Boo hoo.
Cirque du Soleil's "Quidam" is a perfect blend of physics with art. Loosely based around children's toys and games, the performance involves the use of leverage, gravity, acceleration, and lots of pendula in different designs. But these basic tools of a physics lab when fused together with the aesthetics of music and dance and physiological movement bring a tear to the eye. To take the whole composition in is to experience such amazingly breathtaking beauty.

The set is cleverly designed around 4 overhead tracks that fly props and performers in and out quickly and efficiently. These tracks get a lot of mileage by constantly changing new sights for the audience to look upwards and gape at. As the show's inspiration is child's play, there is ample excuse to fly in various swinging contraptions suspending artistes in mid-air all the better to exploit the audience's acrophobia. As for toys, the diabolo spinners and the jumprope item were spellbinding in their precision timing and group coordination.

The theme seems so appropriate to the show. When else in our lives have we truly let ourselves go physically and imaginatively into our fun and games other than in our childhood? As I watched, I thought back to my own days of yore and how much enjoyment I got out of playing on the jungle gym, on the swings, slides, monkey bars and other devices that put kids' lives and limbs on the line. What I watched today were basically the stunts I could only imagine myself pulling as a kid, testing my physical limits in the playground. 'So dangerous,' as parents today might say, but oh so much fun as well.

How do these artistes allow themselves to be tossed into the air so easily, and to tempt fate by risking falls from great heights? What does it take for them to let go of their secure handholds and footholds and go soaring into the air like they do? First, they have to conquer their fear as they subject themselves to performing that which normal, ordinary human beings would naturally shy away from. This wouldn't be easy to do unless there is the most implicit trust in their equipment and in their fellow artistes who stand ready and are well-trained to catch a flying body, thus preventing injury from occurring.

The trust and faith performers draw upon to go flying isn't a blind faith, though. They spend years training together, understanding each other, coordinating with one another. They check and religiously maintain their equipment again and again through a boring but necessary routine. And they discipline themselves too through personal conditioning. They train themselves to form the shapes that allow them to be caught by their fellows, 'cos there's no point having people stand by to catch you when you, yourself, remain uncatchable.

Flying doesn't come naturally to us, human beings. It's a learning process and during training and rehearsals there are going to be mistakes. I'll bet the performers all have a litany of bumps, bruises and worse to their names as a result. But if they weren't ready to accept their hurts as par for the course, maybe they wouldn't have thought of wanting to fly in the first place.

How about that? Philosophy of the Circus 101.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yee got himself new ball. A black Ebonite, 14lbs, drilled for a hook shot. Think he's still getting used to the hook, being a straight bowler for so long. Hopefully with a few more practice sessions, he and his new ball will help pull us out of the slump we're in -- 4th from the bottom of the table in League standings. Our last outing was such a disaster.

We're also going to have to cope with Anthony who'll be out of country in the next tournament game in a couple of weeks. Who can we get to replace him? Hmm...

Anyway, bowled ourselves silly and now I'm paying for it with aching legs and knees. Ouch.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My blow-up with June last week was one of my most difficult experiences to take. While the full impact of what happened fell on me, being pretty much the sole cause of the crisis in the first place, it also sent ripples and resonances through the Gutter Boyz as well. Crisis does things to a group dynamic and it does seem -- to me at least -- that our relationship with each other has changed a little.

When we first started socializing, then training in earnest, most of the time we got together just for the laughs. We had fun, and we chatted and joked around a lot. We pulled each others' legs mercilessly and then it was just great entertainment for all of us.

Last week, during the crisis, the Gutter Boyz became a solid support group offering their encouragement, understanding and their prayers for which I will always appreciate.

Today, from the 2 conversations I had, and I'm guessing from the other interactions around me as well, we started talking about something new. Instead of cracking inane jokes all the time we really started sharing deeper issues with each other. Hurts, fears, vulnerabilities out on the table. We started taking each other seriously and a new element of trust, I believe, has grown between us.

Today, we started seeing each other in a more human light rather than as just a bunch of clowns and cartoons. It's not that I hadn't taken our friendship seriously in the past, but I think we've progressed to a new level of friendship and I'm really happy about that. My crisis may have shaken us up a bit, but I think our ties are now stronger than ever in spite of it.

Adversity last week, a new perspective this week. God does indeed work in mysterious ways.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

4 years ago today I caught events as they unfolded in New York through Yahoo!'s news feed. It began with an item I had very little interest in -- a report that a plane had crashed into the WTC building. I had thought it was just a small private jet that had inadvertently strayed off-course and met with the unfortunate. But as the story kept updating I knew I was 'witnessing' something that had once been only thought of in works of fiction.

When news came in about the second tower being hit, I just had to stop surfin' and watch events 'live' off CNN. I could only gape in horror at the many-times repeated replays of the 2 impacts and when the towers collapsed it was totally unbelievable. It felt like I had stepped through a portal into some alternate reality and there was no way back.

People say that 9/11 was a day that changed the world. In a way it did. America expanded its idea of 'national security' beyond its own borders; we began to wake up to the idea that ordinary people who weren't necessarily combatants in any clearly-defined conflict could still be considered valuable targets by hostile parties; and as such we took comfort in having armed guards patrolling our public places where it wasn't necessary before.

But in a way, the world also remains the same. Life goes on for us and we have other crises to deal with, sometimes more immediate than always having to look over our shoulders to see what the 'terrorists' are up to. For example, the US has its hands full dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It's not just the physical damage to infrastructure and human life but also the 1st-hand experience of how quickly chaos can take over and rule once law-enforcement services are even temporarily disrupted. Barring a nuclear explosion, no terrorist attack could ever top this catastrophe.

Over here we're dealing with a huge dengue fever epidemic and trying to come to terms with the number of spectacular homicides that have occurred in recent months. Disasters both natural and inhuman. With news like this, it's hard not to think of the world as a scary place.
Oh, before I forget, I'd like to state for the record that I really do appreciate the support and prayers of our friends who stood by June and me and believed in us during our time of tough testing those last couple of days ago. It's great having friends like you. :)

Tina's do was a long table at Turkish restaurant, Cappadocia. Guests were a nice mix of old friends and some very new faces. Light, easy-going conversation kept our spirits up along with red and white wine (coke for me). A very pleasant evening indeed.

Birthday girl makes her thank you speech Posted by Picasa

Tina's thrilled with the first pressie she opens Posted by Picasa

June orders 2 coffees, Shirley just wants 1 Posted by Picasa

John and Shirley pause in mid-conversation to pose for a picture Posted by Picasa