Saturday, January 05, 2008

'Fluke' could have been a bleeding-heart appeal to "save the whales" but author, Christopher Moore, avoids all the maudlin and instead spins a tale of great imagination and wit, conjecturing the purpose and meaning behind whalesong, and offering an unusual perspective on why hunting the great whales to extinction isn't exactly a good idea.

Fortunately, the novel isn't about the whales themselves, but rather focuses on the lives of a struggling whale research team which comes so close to deciphering whalesong that someone or something begins sabotaging its operations in order to preserve the secret.

What's fun is the question of who is in on, and what motives lie behind the conspiracy. Is it a rival researcher, or a business or military interest? Hmm...

I like the idea that although trust is an issue between the team members, suspicion fails to drive them apart. Instead, they continue to trust each other to do their jobs as part of the team despite their personal flaws and mysterious backgrounds. This team truly believes in (I'm inferring this) not jumping the gun; nobody's perfect; innocent until proven without a shadow of a doubt guilty; and everybody has something to contribute to the effort.

Each of the main and a couple of the minor characters grow and develop. Either by discovery, learning or revelation, they eventually experience a transformation that gives their initial passion a purpose and a new perspective and direction in life. Yes, I know this is supposed to happen in a good narrative, but it's good to see the team also getting stronger as a result.

Despite the weirdness about mid-way through, 'Fluke' is a compelling, easy read. Moore liberally peppers his narrative with situational and dialogue humour. There is also some exploration on the issue of dealing with sexual attraction in a professional relationship, though the situation between the older male lead researcher and his perky, cute, smart-as-a-whip assistant who has every guy on the island drooling after her is too conveniently and unconvincingly resolved. Few of us are ever gonna get that lucky.

So, let's see... this past hols, I've managed to read Gaiman's "Interworld", Maguire's "Son of a Witch", Moore's "Fluke", and Gaiman's "Marvel 1602" (a graphic novel). I'm getting slow.

Oh, yeah. Anyway, "save the whales!"

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Visited Sentosa twice in three days! This time it was to accompany our new J1s while they ran around the island on their orientation activities.

EmL kindly let us have the run of her house in Sentosa Cove, so we set up an impromptu base of operations in the most luxurious of surroundings most of us have ever seen in our pathetic little poverty-stricken lives.

There was nothing but exclamations of 'wow!' from the entourage as we went room-to-room on our grand tour. From the living room that seems to float on a koi pond, to the open-concept glass bathrooms, the backyard boat-dock, the swimming pool surrounding the house, the roof-top bbq facility, to the comfy, comfy things that people sit on (including the massage chair that nearly ate Baggy), to the four continental cars in the driveway, we're like, how on earth does anyone ever live in so much wealth and yet still be the down-to-earth, normal, all-round ok person we all know her to be?

'k. Enough gushing.
Madoka's arrival threw our lives into utter disarray. June went home to stay with her mom, we neglected our pets, destroyed our diets and drank into the night, foregoing sleep for entertainment.

And despite all the bitchin' and whinin' I've been doing, I had a really great time! We showed her as much as we could of S'pore in the short time she had, and in so doing did some amazing things that we normally wouldn't have done if we didn't have a legitimate excuse.

Hopping the barrier along the river to get a better view of the new year fireworks was one. Having our feet nibbled on by fish at Fish Therapy, Underwater World was another. Jostling with the crowds at Mustafa's while laughing at tacky souvenirs was an eye opener -- whoever would buy a plastic merlion that lights up and sings 'Rasa Sayang' at the flick of a switch? Oops, sorry, B-lo! Hogging a comfy, secluded spot in Muddy Murphy's (pix) and enjoying the cool easy listening tunes of Take 5 at the Raffles Long Bar, mocktail in hand, over two nights was kinda' special too.

But full credit to Cammy, without whom this trip might have been a horrible disaster: an embarrassment for us and a total bore-fest for her. With all his non-stop prattle (which would have driven me stark-raving nuts very quickly if I had been his sole audience), he kept Madoka entertained, flirted with and cared for throughout her stay. Between June and myself, we didn't have much to talk to her about. Language was no barrier, but we just couldn't find a common wavelength with each other. I felt so 'uncle' beside her, particularly as I found myself carrying mineral water in an unglam Watson's plastic bag on one day, and a large umbrella to ward off potential rain on another.

If anything, I was behaving like an indulgent otosan with his favourite musume. Now, that was an interesting brush with my paternal side. But Cammy, same age, same interests, his eagerness to learn language from her, and his all-out eyeball-rolling attempts to be amusing at all cost saved the day for us. So glad we brought him on board.

Well, hope Madoka has had a holiday to remember with fondness. And things are settling back to normal at home. Phew! :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Too many late nights and early mornings. My brain is suffering sleep deprivation... can't... conentrate... Meanwhile, Madoka's pix (yet to be captioned) are here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year 2008! Got home late from watching the countdown fireworks at Marina Bay. This view from a "secret" location in Tg Rhu isn't bad... except for the two tall trees near the Flyer blocking the lower rockets.

Consider this a temporary post. Rushing off now for another day on the town...!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Madoka arrived in the midst of the worst rainstorm I've ever driven through. Visibility was severely down through my windshield while my wipers and lights were operating at max. And we were late. Her plane had already landed ahead of schedule even as we were getting ready to drive off to meet her at the airport. Fortunately, the torrent didn't last and we were able to take her around and introduce her to S'pore's most favourite pastime pretty much as soon as she arrived:

Yup, our eating culture. This is at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant, ECP, where we -- me & June, with June's colleagues including Cammy (at right) whom we assigned to escort Madoka on the grounds that he needed to train his conversational Japanese since he is looking for a posting in Japan soon -- demolished three chili crabs (it's been a crabby month for me!), cereal prawns, scallops in yam, and the house not-on-the-menu specialty: some tofu/nametake dish.

We took her downtown after dinner to Suntec City to have a look at the big fountain. We needed to buy time to let the crabs, et al, digest a bit so we could attack dessert!

(R-L) June, Madoka, Jamie, Jamie's hubby, Cammy and yours truly look seriously well-fed after cheesecake, chocolate milk, a brownie and ice-cream. NYDC rox!

Oh, and a small reprieve for us. We're putting Madoka up at M-i-L's instead of our place. She'll certainly be more comfortable in a proper guest room than the meagre lodging we can afford her at our place. Hope she can get along with Mimi ok. We'll see how they pass the night...