Friday, September 23, 2005

Spent all of last night wiped out on the living room floor watching back-to-back episodes of ABC's "Lost." It's thanks to May's generousity that she's lent us her collection of this gripping TV series. I'm not surprised it won top drama honours at this year's Emmys.

The silliness of mysterious goings-on on the Island is just icing on the cake. The lead characters are strong, interesting people; and though their situation appears within the context of being marooned on a deserted island, the same situation could easily be duplicated in any other area of human interaction -- workplace or school, for example -- in which the same people come into contact with each other again and again over a prolonged period of time. It's the development of human relationships, the banding together of strangers for the common cause of survival despite the difficulties in communication between different cultures and their prejudices, and the so-human need to get out and explore the unknown that secured my eyeballs until um... sometime past midnight.

This eveningJune came home fuming mad from the office. Bad day, apparently. Best way to cheer her up is to get her fed so we took Q-tip with us to Jerry's in Jalan Kayu for a bit of indulgence. Jerry's has built it's reputation on buffalo wings and they did not disappoint. 6 large wings, plump and tender and smothered in a hot sauce (your choice from 3 degrees of intensity). They make one heck of a mess on fingers and clothes, but that's to be expected from this kind of generosity.

June got herself a gorgeous filet mignon while I went for the ox-tail stew. Both of us for different reasons had ended up skipping lunch so by dinnertime we just needed to tear into meat with our teeth and claws. No apologies for our carnivorous behaviour. So there.

Sated, we dropped Q-tip back off at home the went to catch a movie. Not much to choose from this week so we ended up with Jackie Chan's "The Myth." Guess it was good that we didn't have any expectations for it. We tended to be more forgiving that way.

A present-day archaeologist, Jack (how original), has recurring dreams of himself as a Qin Dynasty general whose duty it is to escort the Emperor's new concubine back to the palace, but through the trials and tribulations of the journey, falls in love with her instead. Complications arise when Jack's friend, William, takes advantage of these dreams to send him tomb-raiding across Asia in search of the truth while reaping the spoils of each foray for himself. The scenes bounce between the present and the past as Jack's memory slowly reveals itself, though sometimes the movie gets a bit rambling, losing focus as stunt after stunt, fight after fight pile on.

What I thought was the highlight of the movie was a priceless scene in which Chan fights 2 Indian policemen and 1 fanatic religious devotee on a conveyor belt that has super-adhesive qualities. At the same time, his gorgeous Bollywood co-star is caught literally in this sticky situation and both she and Chan have to perform a strip-tease in order to escape. Heh heh.

The premise behind the closing scenes sounds a bit hokey, but it does set up the zero-gravity fight scene as well. Yes, Chan makes strange films.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wow! College Alumnette and ex-librarian we can be proud of!

Hot bods

"Sweat" gets the fit and healthy to share their secrets
By Ng Sor Luan

21, NUS undergraduate and part-time make-up artist

Height: 159cm

Weight: 51kg

Exercise: I jog a lot, at least an hour every day, and I do the occasional biathlon where I swim for 40 minutes and run for an hour after that.

I started blading when I was eight, stopped when I was 10, but picked it up again when I was 18. I used to do speed skating, but I just skate for leisure now. I also do simple toning exercises like weight training, push-ups and squats at home.

Diet: My poor performance in one of my primary school sports meets prompted me to do something about my rather plump physique.

I would get rid of all the fat I see in my food, but my health suffered as a result: I was pale, my hair fell off, and I felt cold frequently.

I've since wised up and am not so particular about fat in my food, preferring to exercise more instead. I like brown rice and eat fruits and vegetables, making sure I get one serving every other meal. I take infood rich in carbohydrates on the days I run or do endurance training, and cut down on food on rest days. I drink a lot of water too.

(Found in Sunday Times, Sept 18, 2005)
Delivered a 2nd hand office chair to SMA this evening. He wasn't home but the parents were, so we took them out to dinner. Just a couple of hours ago they watched a programme on TV featuring satay at East Coast Park Food Centre and, of course they were itching to sample it for themselves. Our arrival was an unexpected godsend.

As usual, we over-ordered. Dad got us 40 sticks of some very chunky satay in chicken, mutton and beef. June got the beef noodles she had been dying to eat since the last time we were here and she had to abandon the queue that never moved. I got us some popiah which wasn't very good; it was unusually heavy and had a strong fish flavour according to Mom.

But the real treasure was when Dad made contact with a dusty, disused memory from a decade ago. Perhaps more. Back then, whenever we ate here we tended to eat from just one stall: Tembeling Porridge. The stall has since dropped the "Tembeling" in it's name and now just bears a large, prosaic "zhou" on it's signboard. But Dad remembered the old proprietor and ordered his long-forgotten fish porridge and a dish that doesn't exist on the official menu: fish-roe salad. Only those in the know would ask for it and, yes, it's still available.

The salad comprises a very generous handful of steamed(?) strips of fish-roe on a bed of shredded lettuce and sesame oil. It's not a dish everybody can appreciate given that fish eggs are likely to taste fishy (like a very unsophisticated caviar), but it is an experience quite out of the ordinary. The 4 of us struggled to finish an $8 platter. Quite reasonable, though I'm more amazed that after all these years the old boy is still here to be found.

Current state of being: stuffed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

SMA directed us on a scenic drive from our place to Jalan Kayu via the Yishun dam and through Seletar Airbase. If we had started a little earlier the view of the setting sun across the water would have been spectacular, but as it was, the road was quite a bit dark and I had to pay close attention to where I was going. It's a narrower, windier route than I'm used to and in the dimmness I had to focus on the road and not much else. Love to drive through that way again just for the sights.

We stopped for dinner at "ChaoZhou Porridge Culture," a little Teochew porridge place that stands out from amongst the other prata places one usually expects to find in the area. It looks expensive, but the setup is an all-you-can-eat buffet of clear porridge and accompanying dishes. Each table is required to order only 1 main dish and the rest is a free for all. We ordered a decent braised fish dish, then pigged out on braised peanuts, salted-eggs, salted veggies, stir-fried fresh veggies, brinjal, pickled onions and olives, tau pok, a couple of other bean-curd based things, and fresh cockles, which June claims the Wong family wouldn't get enough of if they had joined us on this outing.

Very friendly service from the youthful English-speaking staff, one of whom lamented that some of the more traditional, exotic Teochew dishes had to be taken off the menu due to their loss of popularity from either ignorant or overly-health conscious patronage. If we wanted goose, or jellied wild-boar, or kana-chai (an olive pickle side-dish) we'd have to convince the chef that there's still a mass-market for it.

I don't particularly like porridge, but the food was palatable and easily eaten in quantity. Not necessarily fantastic, but the price is appealing. 3 can eat as much as we want for $24. Can't go too far wrong there!

Monday, September 19, 2005

June came back from BKK late last night, ending my most dreary weekend of solitude with only non-human animals for company. As much as I love them, they're not exactly the most communicative of beings.

Determined not to make the same mistake as last year, I drove to the airport to collect her. I missed her so much, and it was just only for 4 days.