Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Don't tell a blind man to walk straight

Spent quite a nice afternoon playing badminton leisurely at fren's place. He stays in a condo and there is a badminton court on the 5th storey (top of the multi-storey carpark).

Met V for dinner at TP and had a little bit of sundry shopping done in Tp central.

While waiting for the bus with V, we saw a middle aged man with a white cane asking for help. He was then about 15m away from us. He passed one of the queues and was asking help from anyone who was within earshot range. So some guys waiting for the bus asked him waht he wanted. So he replied he wanted to take bus 231. While he was asking for help, you can see some of these people (I don't want to describe them for fear of stereotyping) staring at the blind man as if by giving him the stare, they could either transfer some of their eye power to him or could make him disappear from their everyday life (no, there are no needy people in Singapore). Ok, I'm just being critical. But they looked like they were ready to help only if they were trapped on a deserted island and the blind man, with superior hearing ability can listen out for engine sounds from aeroplanes or ships. Ok, I'm mean.

Now I like this man. Because unlike me, he was upfront about the fact that he needed help. He was asking "Can you help me?" to anyone who would listen, and act. I like his t-shirt too. It says "WALK UNAFRAID".

So after the guys realised that he was gonna take bus 231, guess what they did, or rather, did not do? They simply said, "Zhai qian mian, zhou zhi zhi." (in hokkien it's "di tao zeng, ghiah teet teet", in English "it's infront, just walk straight") Like what the fuck man. How can you give such silly instructions to the visually impaired? And if he had walked straight, he would have missed the queue completely. Basically I think the guys just wanted to clear their conscience and push the responsibility to those nearer the 231 queue.

And the 231 bus he wanted to take just left.

Anyway, seeing that, I went straight up to him and asked if he needed help. I had to leave V behind because he was still about 10m away. Heh heh, luckily, I read in a blog somewhere about how to approach the visually impaired. It can be found here anyway. I told him he had just missed the bus but I will guide him to the queue.

I think we can at least try our best at being good. And sometimes common sense evades you. Because after guiding him to the queue, I was eager to go back to V whom I discarded (haha) behind without warning her my intent first. Left the poor man there at the head of the queue trying to thank me. He then asked other people in the adjacent queue about the bus again. He was the only person waiting for the service until this girl joined behind. By then our bus arrived so V and I went up the bus, leaving the blind man waiting for his bus, tacitly hoping that the girl behind him will help.

Narbeh, you can be blinded to the fact that he is abled, but it is a fact that he is blind and may not be able to "walk straight" you ninnypoops.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Myanmar's capital is Yangon no more!

It's now nearer to Pyinmana but the official name is actually Naypyidaw which translates to "seat of kings". All I know is that it's an anagram of "Pay Day Win". Which isn't too bad.

Anyhow, Malaysia's Foreign Minister left the country a day earlier than planned. No reason was given. He was there to "check on the state of reforms".

Even the flyers look dodgy

Some guy was distributing this along Orchard on Sunday:

So please do not "littel" in this fine country. It's our garden city. Eh wait, we now say Singapore is a city within a garden. Right.


Would you like to buy some of our branded ties, caps and scraps? We've got lovely scraps here. Yeah, we're really wasteful so we have little pieces of cloth and bits of lace here and there. Scraps you know? Wait, what? You mean you'd rather have scraps of food?

Looking for a Russian Doll?

Just came back not long ago from watching Russian Dolls. It's supposedly the sequel to Spanish Apartment but not entirely. You could watch one without the other and so, it's not a normal sequel.

These two movies are not the type of movies that make you go "Wowee Zowee!" They don't make you go "Wah piang eh, si beh steady!". They just make you go "Hmmm..." and perhaps a little smile breaks out in your heart that gets translated along the way and ends up appearing as a grin on your face.

Spanish Apartment was when Xaiver was a freshman from France studying in Barcelona. Russian Dolls is about Xaiver as a 30 year old singleman from this world on the cusp of becoming himself. <Publish Post- that was pure gibberish. but it makes sense to me and that's what really matters, actually. It moves like an mtv but still this french gem really develops the characters inside within the 2 hours. Seeing life through the eyes of a 30 year old, just about to find the love of his life and asking all the questions that haunt the modern male, "Is she the one?", "Is the next one coming along going to be better?", "Is this the one true love I have been waiting all my life?", "What is love?".... and along the way, in order to find the answers to these questions, you fuck alot of girls, you think they are the best thing, until the next best thing. The movie mentioned Harold Pinter whom Wendy (Xaiver's love interest) was making reference to when they were trying to write a love story together. In particular, she was talking about Harold's Betrayal which was made into a film. I really want to get my hands on that one. If you thought the chronolgical style in which Irreversible and Memento was cool, well, it's not exactly pioneering work you know? Harold is of course the recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature and famous for being very political these days. British and avery much against the whole messy affair in the middle east. He is famous, as a playwright, for inventing what is the "Pinter pause". And how the love develops between Wendy and Xaiver resembles a Pinteresque play as well:

A Pinter play confronts us as dispassionately as the mask of Greek drama. The enigmatic expression is neither sad nor cheerful, because it is both. Once the text is heard against it, it becomes tragic or comic by turns. Play and mask have an apparent calm that hides a turbulent and passionate emotional life which may erupt at any moment. What is hidden is felt by the audience, even though it may never be revealed. It remains one of the particular miracles of live theatre that this instinctive communication is always present. An audience can therefore sense what an actor is feeling, without the actor having to show that feeling. But the inner feeling must be specific and true. He must experience it, even though it does not need to be stated or revealed. Paradoxically, the mask does not hide, it exposes. So does the play.

There was a really nice scene that was overlaid with Beth Gibbons' song Mysteries in it. Though the lyrics, I thought, weren't exactly appropriate but the mood that the song conveyed certainly was.

God knows how I adore life
When the wind turns on the shores lies another day
I cannot ask for more

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I'll be there anytime

Oh mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I'll be there anytime

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I'll be there anytime

Mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I'll be there anytime

~Beth Gibbons and Rustin' Man

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Brokeback Effect vs Crash Effect?

After Brokeback Mountain fail to be awarded the Best Picture, there was a flurry of gay activists (of course, the non-gays, not anti-gays, pro-gays as well, just about every segment of the opinion polls less anti-gays) who were whsipering out loud that it was not a fair ruling. Before that, during the run up to Oscars, there were many movie reviews which bordered along the "social commentary" lines. Male reviewers admitting to shedding a tear or two. Female reviewers supporting Lee Ang's proclamation that there is a Brokeback moment in all of us, men in particular. Whether or not your head gear of choice is a Stetson or you smoke mainly Marlboros or you wear leather boots exclusively. Annie Proulx claims that Thrash Crash, distributed by Lionsgate, won purely by the Blitzkrieg method in which they used 130,000 copies of the movie's DVD to influence the votes during the run up to Oscar night. Man (is this a lousy pun?), both Proulx and about 800 fans separately put up advertisements (in the case of Proulx, an article in Guardian but seriously, what's the diff?) And this Tom Gregory guy, who is a gay activist paid US$100,000 for two used cowboy shirts in an auction on eBay. Was he ever as generous to society before? Who the fuck cares seriously? US$100,000 man, that's alot of money. See? Gays are not discriminated (ok, I'm sounding like a bigot).

And what about Crash? Nobody really thought about how the director felt. Or the cast when all this accusations were being thrown around. It was a good piece of work and all the reasons of Los Angelenos having some sort of tacit *wink wink nudge nudge* about the movie, well, what's the best affirmative action?

500,000 Los Angelenos walking down in unison, wearing white shirts symbolising peace, in protest of new US legislation to curb problems of illegal immigration. On top of the 500,000, there were tens of thousands more in various states and cities. Of course, I'm pushing the assumption here that Crash was the cause of this. But wouldn't it be nice if a movie can do that to a city? Just like how a movie can do for a disgruntled group of movie fans, gay-activists and a 70 year old writer?

Reina Sofia (or Call Flensted a "uromager")

I haven't got much mood to blog coherently these days. Alot of things racing through my mind and so like a normal Piscean, I move 1 step ahead for every 2 steps that I take.

Neither do I feel like doing something really funny. Not reflective. So useless.

So I'll just post some nice photos that I took on holiday in Spain about a year ago.

reina sofia

This is the interior garden within Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum.

reina sofia ext

This is the exterior of the museum. It's about 5 minutes away from the 11 March 2004 Madrid Train Station bombing.

I was there in Spring of 2001 as well. And there was something in the museum souvenir shop that I really wanted to get even then. No, that wasn't the reason why I return to visit in 2005.

It was a Flensted mobile.
Christian Flensted is a "uromager" which is Danish for "maker of things mischievious and always on the move". So either the Danes (haha, dawgs) are lousy at translating or they have special words for special people like Christian Flensted.

So when I went back to Reina Sofia, I was determined to get my hands on one of those mobiles. Yes, they are actually sold in Singapore. A "lifestyle" shop in Singapore used to carry it I think. It's a shop in Millenia Walk. I think it might have closed down since or stopped carrying them. The Flensted site indicates that Lyves and Company in Suntec City carries them now. Am I wrong to say that this other "lifestyle" shop has closed down as well? Gosh?! Is this the Flensted curse?

I nicked this from Mr Flensted's site. Hope he doesn't mind. The name of this mobile is Life Is Hanging By A Thread. Supposedly signifying that there are more things between heaven and earth than you or I dream of. It's about 4 feet across and 2 feet from top to bottom. The name of this mobile is really relevant to me right now. Hey, in these troubled times, you can never be sure when you're going to go right?

Anyhow, this mobile, along with my precious (Gollum's quivering accent here) series of 6 Tom Purvis posters for the London and North Eastern Railway will feature prominently in my home. When I have one.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I just watched Crash on Wednesday.

I am not going to comment on which movie, Brokeback Mountain or Crash, should be awarded the Oscar for Best Picture.

But I would want to say the story telling is not as tight as Syriana, it is not as beautifully shot as Brokeback Mountain, acting was not as strong as Capote or Transamerica or Walk The Line or Munich.

But there was something in the movie that made me think and rethink the movie tagline.

You think you know who you are. You have no idea.

At certain times, I thought I was some parts of one character and at other times, I was some parts of another. It was a very reflective movie unlike the other movies which dealt with "bigger" issues like middle east politics, oil industry, death sentences, was more personal perhaps because in Singapore, a multi-racial island that it is, situations in the movie seemed so real.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


We couldn't stop sniggering when we were talking about the Moro Islamic Liberation Force (MILF) .

If you don't know why, type "MILF" and run a search in any search engine.

Sometimes I am so dead on it worries me

Few days back I wrote about Indonesia and how we must continue to build on the current chummy relations we have with them to ensure our survival, then the President visits the country giving some form of assurance, affirmative actions.

Yesterday I wrote about Myanmar and Malaysia Foreign Minister's intention to check on the progress of reforms and today I read in AssTee that he is indeed been granted an audience but just no official date yet. Secret junta.


A Burmese relationship

Recently I attended a couple of modules facilitated by some staff from IDSS.
A while ago, well, actually a rather long while ago, when the last Asean - EU meeting was held, there were pressures from all quarters about Myanmar's membership into ASEAN. Recently, the pressure continued from the other side of the Atlantic - US, with threats promise of continued trade sanctions. Mainly this is because of the poor human rights record in Myanmar, with the military regime still refusing to free Aung San Suu Kyi and all that juicy stuff. While we are not sure how the western way of doing things is actually helping the people in Myanmar, ASEAN countries continue to exert pressure on the Myanmar administration through positive engagement. There are a million and one ways to bring about better lives for the Burmese and the west has chosen one way. While countries in ASEAN work on the other million ways. Myanmar was suppose to hold chairmanship of ASEAN this year stating it is undergoing it's "reform". Earlier this year, Malaysian Foreign Minister, Syed Hamid was suppose to be in Yangon to push the reform but Myanmar postponed the trip indefinitely stating that the country was "busy shifting the capital to Pyinmana". Interesting. New capital. Snubbing the Malaysia Foreign Minister.

Alot of what ASEAN countries can and cannot do is governed by the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation:

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, signed at the First ASEAN Summit on 24 February 1976, declared that in their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties should be guided by the following fundamental principles:

*Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
*The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;
*Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
*Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
*Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
*Effective cooperation among themselves.

The above 6 principles pretty much cripple all members in ASEAN when it comes to changing domestic policies of your neighbour. The simple answer to the question of "should we?", is "no".

It's like some relationships. Everything is rosy as long as it is not subjected to external factors. Once that happens, no mechanism exists to counter. What is left is this driver with an empty core called "interest". Is there anything to gain? Is there anything to lose? What effects does it have on the other? What are the short and long term effects? What are the direct intended effects? And may be the indirect unintended effects and all the other permutations you can have with direction and intentions.

And when your working principles are based on mutual respect and non-interference, there isn't much room to maneuver because you shouldn't be asking the question in the first place.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New T-Shirts!


Another 2+ weeks time?

Nobody else should get them okay?!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Found it!

I was at the NTUC over in Toa Payoh Central (near MRT/Bus Interchange). And guess who I saw? Towelie's friend of course!

Who am I talking about? It's the Soap from Health Promotion Board.

It's selling for 5x100g bars for only S$1.30. Amazing value.
The brand is Labour (Lam Soon brand) and it's billed as translucent soap. I don't know what that means.

Labour Don't you think it looks just like it? I mean, the colour and proportion all...

Monday, March 20, 2006

British Puppets

Beth Orton has got a lovely new album out called "Comfort Of Strangers" and the first single is "Conceived".

beth orton
See Beth with "swamp thing" and other puppets!

I think it's such a postive littly ditty.
The video features Beth playing her guitar with a number of puppets (you can have a look at her site, scroll down) that reminded me of the Rainbow - this British children's tv show. It's got a pink hippo and a zippered mouth puppet. I'm sure you can remember. Some of you at least.

And I found this video on ebaumsworld. And it can be shared from!

Suddenly I realise why I grew up the way I did.

Sample lines:

"Jeffrey's trying to get him up"
"I've got it in!"
"Playing with each other?"
"Do you have a special friend that you like to play with?"
"Jeffrey, yesterday we played with our balls didn't we? Are we going to play with our friends' balls instead?"
"Jane has got two lovely maracas."
"I was banging away all last night with Rod and Roger."


Click here to view the video.

Health Promotion Board vs Southpark

It has not escape from my attention that Singapore's Health Promotion Board has gone hip and cool by collaborating with Southpark!

If you have been watching the telly, you would have caught sight of a series of ads which features a bar of soap holding a towel? It's a way of reminding dirty Singaporeans to pay more attention to personal hygiene. The bar of soap is definitely Singaporean. It looks like a type of soap I used when I was in primary school to wash my Bata white canvas shoes. Actually, I wear BM2000 more. BM stands for Badminton Master. Don't play play.

So where is the collaboration? You see, the bar of soap is holding onto a towel and I have every reason to suspect that the towel is actually Towelie from Southpark! Google "towelie" and not only will you get to see Towelie online, you can listen to some of the terry-cloth's key phrases!

The resemblance is uncanny too. Similar in features and shape.

Towelie and Soap from HPB

I'm so darn proud!

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Was at Sirens last night. DJ Bento was starting for Tony Tay. FullScreamRiot started on the visuals. Amongst the usual gang, only V and I were there. Mong was in Sepang worshipping Tiesto - World Number 1 DJ leh. The rest, not really sure but I didn't sms anyone anyway.

Oh, and for those who know, Mark aka Bob was there too.

Think Tony was a little worried about the crowd. Talking to him, he said had he played a hip hop or trance set, it'll greatly pull in the crowds. Everyone knows that. But good thing he doesn't. A handfull of us are very happy about it. Maybe less of the "indie-pop meets breakbeats" stuff. Ok, so it wasn't Tony who played Starsailor's Four To The Floor, it was Bento. Bento's sets are increasingly appealing. Melodic, driving and coherent but perhaps not hard enough for the heaving crowd.

Was shuttling between Phuture and Zouk but I never did realise that it was James Lavelle in the main room. No wonder the floor was packed.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Brokenback - A Post OSCAR Best Picture ANALysis

single page aide memoir for presentation

I have added more stuff to my KoC performance review after reading Yeow Kai Chai's review on Life! section of AssTee.

And also read about Tom Brook's analysis on the Best Picture tussle between Brokeback and Crash. I recently attended this communication and management workshop and for part of the communication module, we each had to present a topic lasting no more than 4 minutes. Not wanting to prepare much for it, I decided to have a go at something I was rather familiar with and popular at the same time. I am not sure if this is common to those around me, but any activity done by two guys will always get some "brokeback" jokes about it. Even Taiwanese politicians are getting into it. Between Li Ao and some other hooligan politician. Haha.

Anyway, I was presenting something on why wasn't Brokeback Mountain awarded Best Picture. The analysis was so close to what Tom Brook said in his interview with Life!, I'm secretly proud.

mini spree

was walking past hmv at citylinkmall after the flipfantastic KoC concert when i decided to pop in for a look see. would have gotten the second and third goldfrapp albums if they were 1] below $21 and 2] available. they were. failed to fulfil one of the other.

so was browsing through the new releases and charted albums. tried out artic monkeys which are oh-so-hot right now. hey, i saved some money because i listened to them on the listening post and decided that i don't need their record smashing debut album.

grabbed feist's let it die because i saw it and it's quite a rare find. maybe still hoping she was somehow invited to mosaic music festival in her own right as a solo artist and guested KoC show. but none of that sort happened. beth orton's new gem is out. got the pack with the bonus cd. listening to the album, comfort of strangers, now. the title reminds me of my earliest blog entry. also bought belle and sebastian's latest, the life pursuit. somehow, BandS will never be repeating the style they had with their earlier albums like if you are feeling sinister, tigermilk....

listening to comfort of strangers now. bliss.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Army Daze - A W!ld Rice Production at Drama Centre

Caught Army Daze with pin, jade and mong. After dinner at Purvis Chicken Rice, we made our way there. Must remember how much mong loves her chicken skin. I have this stereotype that girls like roast chicken (shao ji) instead of the boiled white chicken (bai zhan ji). And that they don't take the skin. Especially if it's white chicken. She now thinks that it must be really gross for a girl to like skin so much. Thought it was ok just gotta watch the bad cholestrol going in. And stop eating chicken rice with other girls! Cause they will end up passing you the skin.

Alright, back to Army Daze.

It had a stellar cast: Hossan Leong, Emma Yong, Lim Kay Siu, Sebastian Tan, Shiek Haikel, Kumar, Robin Goh

The script was updated slightly: Instead of SDU, Kenny said Malcolm was rattling his background like he was on Mr X was Chairman, and had funny japanese accent instead of usual dodgy figure. A nod to memoirs of a geisha. References to Singapore Idol...etc etc.

BUT the army jokes were kinda anachronistic because, nobody I know of speaks like that in Army anymore. In fact, when I was enlisted in 1998, I didn't hear any of those stuff. But I can recognise the CB leaf, kind of, and know why it is called that. And no, I have never used if for camouflage training.

The antics were funnier and so was Sheik Haikel's belly. Sebastian Tan seems to be on an ah beng wave of sorts because his role as Ah Beng comes right after Broadway Beng.

Overall the production was quite good, polished feel. Prices were too steep though, if only I managed to get cheaper tickets. A price like $40 would have been great. Enjoyable evening needless to say. Adjourned to Breko for cheap beer and more chicken (spicy wings). Was shooting shit about friends, touchy-feeliness, marriage, relationships , absent friends and distancing friends, single-serving friends and about everything under the sun really.


It's St Patrick's Day!!!

The Queen is here!

Mosaic Music Festival Presents Kings Of Convenience

So I sat down in seat EE8 which I didn't think was so bad. Began surveying the concert hall. Nice and cosy. And some ambient track of discordant beats and blips. Sounds like an Intelligent (as oppose to "unintelligent"?) Dance Music track.

A while later, saw alot of familiar faces, people who frequented Zouk like xx's friend, pin's friend and mong's friend. Yeah, all of them are other people's friend. not mine.

This was the first sold out concert for the Mosaic Music Festival and it wasn't so unexpected because I bought the ticket on the second day it was released and the concert hall was already half-filled.

There were screens on the sides of the hall showing random visuals. Not entirely random either since it was actually coordinated by the opening act, this Singaporean guy who does IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). When he finished, a number of us clapped as he began shutting down his powerbook.

Couple on the Right
The couple seated on my right was adamant in not clapping. Instead they were wondering why should that clap for someone who was doing something useless. The lady was complaining to the husband(?) that she don't knnow what to make of the noise. And if only it ended earlier. As the stagehands were removing the equipment offstage, the husband pointed out that the useless performance further wasted time because the equipment had to be removed. These are "artsy" people okay. They attended Budak Pantai show before one okay? That was couple on the right.

Couple on the Left
Couple on left, the guy was trying to impress his girlfriend with music knowledge. Think the girl was the fan and not the guy. He commented that the crowd looks young and asked, "Are they sixteen? They look like they can't get into a club. Why would they be interested in Simon and Garfunkel songs?" This couple has tickets to jason mraz as well. But in the middle of the concert, the guy was looking so bored (as opposed to the people who can't enter clubs yet who were enjoying themselves thoroughly). Bigoted, with ego as fat as his waist. Pity the girlfriend.

Ladies and gentlemen......Kings of Convenience
Erlend and Eirik walked to the middle of the stage and pretty soon started the concert with the same song they always start with: Until You Understand (see below for full tracklisting).
They really looked relax and Erlend was soon engaging the crowd with some banter about how there are empty seats although the festival folks told them that theirs was a sold out show. Erlend thought the seats reserved for the sponsors were empty and encouraged people to take them and amidst the talking, they broke out into their second song: Love Is No Big Truth.
The empty seats were filled before the 4th song started.
The two were talking about how they found it really amazing to be playing before 1600 people in Singapore. They chatted about Bergen, Sweden and were teasing about each others' mums. Only the most optimistic of people will believe that two guys with two guitars can play halfway around the world in a sell-out concert after only two albums. Apparently Eirik isn't one of them. He was saying, "I don't consider myself as one of those optimists." and you can actually hear a number of female voices sighing like they would really want to mother him or something. In the same breath he introduced the next song: Winning The Battle, Losing The War.
Then it was a new track! Offbeat. Eirik was on the piano. Catchy refrain.
I was blogging sometime ago in january that Feist, the canadian singer they collaborated with on Riot On An Empty Street wasn't going to be around but they did Know How anyways with us singing along. Fun Fun FUN!

Imagine you are in Norway....
Then the whole concert hall was bathed in darkness as KoC lulled the crowd with Homesick, dreaming about Norwegian Christmases. We whistled along, providing the viola backing that usually accompanied Stay Out Of Trouble. I must point out at this juncture that both guys on my right were almost falling asleep (maybe they are!) and didn't participate in any of the humming, singing or whistling. Erlend tickled the ivories (lousy cliched phrased) and did an improv at the ending of a medley of Singing Softly To Me/The Girl From Back Then.

Eirik was bantering with the crowd when a lady screamed out, "EIRIK, YOU'RE THE BEST!" and I think he might have been genuinely embarrassed but remained composed. He then asked if there was anybody amongst us who was celebrating their birthday since there is a probability of 4 in 1600 of us being borned on 16 Mar. KoC then sang a traditional Norwegian birthday song (with some help from the dozen Norwegians seated in the hall). The title of the Norwegian birthday song is Bursdagssangen which I found out from this site: click here Erlend said he knew there were 2000 Norwegians in Singapore and was expecting 1600 of them to be at their concert and was thankful that wasn't the case. He pointed out that the Norwegians were the blondes, in case we miss them. Right.

We were humming along to Misread and when it ended, some guy shouted, "ERLEND! YOU'RE THE BEST!" and Eirik replied, "He knew that."
Things really got into the swing when they played I'd Rather Dance With You but they said it was their last song. Someone amongst us shouted, "LIAR!" haha. They soon got people to dance on the stage, only after much haggling with the security and pleading from Erlend. So about 8 ladies or so (no guys) went on stage and started some "round the mulberry bush" or "maypole" thingy. Erlend was showing some of his moves that really got us going. Finally he asked, "Hey, aren't you tired of sitting?" and it was all the catalyst needed to get EVERYBODY up. Yes, even the two guys next to me, after about a minute of refusals and denials. So there was dancing by just about everyone, on stage, off stage. When they finished, the ladies gave them hugs (the girl who thought Eirik is the best was on stage, naturally).

All of us were so bullish in getting them out refusing to stop clapping and begging them to come out. They finally obliged with two songs, Little Kids and Manhattan Skyline (A-Ha cover). By this time, everyone who had a camera was whipping them out and was trigger happy and it was really funny seeing security scurrying around, haplessly trying to stop them. Damn! No camera.
And when it was finally over, Eirik and Erlend took turns to take pictures of us from the stage. Erlend body surfed into the crowd and Eirik snapped a few more shots. I wonder how many of such shots do they have? And then it was all all over. Missed the autograph session. Drats!

Full Tracklist
1. Until You Understand (Track from UK Promo Playing Live In A Living Room)
2. Love Is No Big Truth
3. Cayman Islands
4. I Don't Know What I Can Save You From
5. Winning The Battle Losing The War
6. The Boat Behind (New song! Can't find it in any lyric search engine on the internet! I thought I heard Erlend say the title was Offbeat*)
7. Know How
8. Homesick
9. Stay Out Of Trouble
10. Singing Softly To Me/The Girl From Back Then
11. Toxic Girl
12. Gold In The Air Of Summer
13. Bursdagssangen (Traditional Norwegian Birthday Song)
14. Misread
15. I'd Rather Dance With You
16. Little Kids
17. Manhattan Skyline (A-Ha cover, from 1986 Scoundrel Days)

And for those who were there, we all sounded really fantastic when we were humming along to Misread, singing along to Know How. I am listening to it over and over. ;0) Thank god for iPod and iTalk.
*Just read Yeow Kai Chai's review of the performance. Apparently he heard it as Offbeat as well. But the KoC giglist puts it as The Boat Behind. You can hear the mp3 of the song online by clicking the song which was played even in June 2005. But he could be wrong as well, Mr Yeow, because, and I am being anal here, thought Homesick was the opening track for Riot In An Empty Street. I believe the album was Riot On An Empty Street and the opening track for the album, unless you have got the Mars release limited edition pack, is Winning The Battle, Losing The War.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Watching too much

I watched a movie and a half today. A movie and a half? Yeah. A movie and a half and a documentary.

It was followed by The Constant Gardener. So how did I come up with a movie and a half and a documentary? Well, The Constant Gardener felt like one whole movie and half a documentary while Loose Change felt like half a documentary and half a movie.

Let's go to Loose Change first. This little video should be on every Americans' computer. Everyone who felt for the victims of 9/11 MUST watch it. It's only and hour twenty minutes but I guarantee you, after that 80 minutes, if you are not trembling, you are either George Bush or you have no idea what 9/11 entails. The aftermath especially. I would love to go on with the conspiracy theory and how 9/11 had allow Americans' presence to be a welcome here in this region but....there are just somethings that I had better not talk about. Basically what this video tries to do is to as best as it can, explain why two Boeing Jets flying into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in downtown Manhattan would not have caused the towers to collapse. It was a commercial airliner that crashed into the Pentagon. And there wasn't any heroics done by Americans who averted certain disaster by downing their hijacked plane in Pittsburgh instead of the intended target which was the White House. It's very compelling. The facts seem less hodge-podge than Farenheit 911 by Michael Moore (which was still great anyway) mainly because there seems to be alot of physical facts given. Watch and be very scared.

Next was The Constant Gardener. Well, I suppose Rachel Weisz did deserve her Best Supporting Actress award on Oscar night. She was a firecracker from the start of the movie and finally a movie that can stretch her. Somewhat at least. The background story, which really was more gripping to me, was about the sinister acts that pharmaceutical companies are accused of doing - conducting live experimentations on poor Africans so as to reduce both the time and cost of perfecting drugs manufactured in anticipation of expected epidemics. In this story, the epidemic was TB and what the movie suggested was that Britain had benefits to bring in a pharmaceutical company, KDH, and conduct testing of a drug through an already established British company operating in Kenya, Three Bees. So the British High Commission tries their best to facilitate by conniving with both companies with the promise that KDH will open a pharmaceutical facility in Wales so as to provide 1500 jobs. Of course it is ethically wrong to test drugs on humans, Africans or not. Again bringing back to the point of why I think Africa will not improve much in the Pacific Century. There are lots of conspiracy work going on around like citizen spies, Big Brother controls, etc etc. The side story is of course the romance of Rachel and Ralph Fiennes. Lots of intelligent lines spoken by the main characters and super scenes of the African landscape. Somehow, this movie is more heart wrenching that Brokeback. But that's just me.

Observed that this year's Oscars is full of quality work despite some people thinking otherwise. And the topics that were handled were really tough ones. And many which addresses the big issues involving governments. Munich, Syriana and The Constant Gardener had focussed on this. Capote, Brokeback Mountain, Crash and Transamerica were more on the major social issues like race, capital punishment, transgenderism(?), homosexuallity....but the funny thing was, it wasn't a year where the major nominees were box-office winners as well. Not the same as Titanic, Million Dollar Baby, Forrest Gump, Lord of The Rings etc.

Better Japanese Engrish

If I could reach the stars I had pull one down
for you shine in on my heart so you could see the truth
that this love is inside is everything it seems
has for now I find it is only
in my dreams.

I think the English used on some of these Japanese stationery is getting better. You think?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Myojo Shrimp Tanmen

I have never known any other flavour of instant noodles until I was about 9 years old or so. I stayed with my grandma during the day while my mum and dad were out working. And because she always bought the Myojo Shrimp Tanmen instant noodles, I only ate that flavour.

It was only when I was when I was slightly older that I tasted two other flavours: Maggi Curry and Assam Laksa. Fell in love with alternatives.

Later still, it was Chu Qian Yi Ding's Sesame Oil flavour.

Then there was the Ramen which was a "dry" variety. And a short bit later, the Meepok Dry.

And when I discovered Indomie's Mee Goreng, there was no letting up on the MSG intake.

I just had a packet of Myojo's Shrimp Tanmen. With an egg and 2 fishballs (for those who thinks that I am eating fish testicles...yeah, I'm a Fear Factor alumni).

Brought back some nice childhood memories.

Images used without permission from

Anthony Reid

I just found out today that Anthony Reid is now the Director of Asian Research Institute here in Singapore.

It is housed in NUS.

He is the founding Director.

Monday, March 13, 2006

If we take China and India's dominance as a given

Let's do some silly projection. Imagineering the future.

Let us assume that China and India will indeed dominate the 21st century. Not too far-fetched.

Except the caveats are that US don't engage in a war against Iran which has many political and trade links with China. China needs oil, Arab states "controlled" by US (by way as suggested by the movie Syriana), Iran feeds China fuel needed for economic expansion. Iran, whose population as doubled since 1979 needs lots of consumer goods. China, the current workshop of the world fills the Iranian homes with durables and expendables alike.

The other caveat is that in an extremely strained situation in the Taiwan and China straits, US does not throw it's weight in. Taiwan, unwittingly, has got more to lose now because in a war down just the economic front, she will suffer tremendously.

These are simplistic caveats. There might be more, Tibet, Nepal, relations with Russia, Japan etc etc.

India on the other hand seems to be on a surer ride. Especially with the recent visit by George dubya Bush and the nuclear alliance formed. India has a more "enabled" population because of language and a more welcomed progression. Maybe not viewed similarly by the Pakistanis.

Let's say both countries, China and India got a smooth ride, miraculously. What happens next?

The remaining "under-developed" regions seemed to be just South America, Eastern Europe (Balkan states like Albania, Slovenia and newly minted EU countries like Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovakia), Africa and Southeast Asia.

Middle East by then should be either drying up (pessimistic view that carbon based energy source cannot sustain forever) or worrying silly (optimisitic view that alternative energy sources is cheap and replicable everywhere). Dubai and UAE might absorb more "Emirates", reclaim more islands into other weird shapes besides the current palm and world shaped ones. Dubai is moving away from oil-based industries. Tourism, shipping,'s like Singapore in the 1970s. And that may be the real reason why Congress is against DP World from taking over P&O.

Which of the above regions look poised for a economic surge after the "Pacific Century" is history? South America views US with lots of suspicion. Especially countries south of Mexico (haha). Unless they pick themselves up, the progress would be slow. Balkan states and the Eastern Bloc looks good. But it would have to be carried by an unsure Russian economy (which relies to some degree on oil) and a mature Western European economy. Africa? It's alot more diverse than we think it is. And the current disparity in development as well as the potential for economic growth, in my myopic and unqualified opinion, does not augur well for growth surges.

What remains?

Southeast Asia.

And the most important market then? Indonesia.

Why? Because if (and it is a very questionable "if" here) the world's 4th largest population can be blessed with stable leadership that maintains their "Unity in Diversity" ethos and focus on education, public health, infrastructure and sustainable economic development, the economic growth can spread from north of the equator to this archipelago.

What are the strategic plans for Singapore? Continue to wedge ourselves within the obvious growers - China and India. Become a bridge between these two engines of growth, ride on the wave. Where else can you find large groups of Chinese nationals living relatively harmoniously with Indian nationals. Well, maybe in Malaysia too. Build on our relationships with Japan. Overcome historic wounds before Hong Kong becomes the in-between for China-Japan trade. Foster greater relationships with neighbours, in particular Malaysia for obvious reasons. Continue to be the single oasis of perceived sanity of the Americans so that we can leverage on their military prowess and ensure continued participation and interest in this region. Maintain an autonomous global point of view to gain respect from China and Southeast Asia to show that we are not lackeys of the US. Lastly, to ensure continued growth for this tiny island nation, apply first-mover advantage in Indonesia. I am keeping my fingers crossed on this one. Indoneisa, being the country with the most populous muslims should rise in prominence within my lifetime if it is well-managed.

I'm just being silly of course.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jews of the East

I am reading a book by Milton Osbourne which is really a condensed Introductory History of Southeast Asia. In it, there were brief mentions of Angkor Wat and all the other ancient kingdoms here like Srivijaya (sounds like a shop I know along Little India). The decline of these once powerful kingdoms were attributed to factors that was expounded by Jared Diamond in this other book that I have been trying to finish called Collapse.

Reading these two books, made me wanna read another book which I came across about 5 years ago called Essential Outsiders by Anthony Reid and Daniel Chirot which in essence is likening Chinese in Southeast Asia to the Jews of the East. This phrase isn't new, some 80 years ago, King Rama VI of Thailand already coined that phrase.

Apparently it's for reference only and it is available only at Woodlands Regional Library. Why only at Woodlands? Your guess is as good as mine.

Transamerica and Capote

Watched more movies last few days. Wednesday it was Capote and Friday it was Transamerica.

Not so much a review here, more about how I felt about the movie.

Capote: I can understand why Hoffman picked up his Best Actor award for the Oscars. He was brilliant. With little touches here and there, including some possibly idiosycracies that just made his performance superior. The story was about his research work done for his non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood, how he got to learn more about the two murderers, his manipulative side and perhaps, at times, human side.

Transamerica: Not really sure if it was a comedy but there were really hilarious parts no doubt. Shit I am getting bored writing about movies. Especially after some time has elapsed. Anyway, I mistook Kevin Zegers, who plays Toby in the movie for Trent Ford who was in How To Deal with Mandy Moore. Fuck. This blog is getting boring.


BLU, the restaurant on the 24th floor of Shangri-La Hotel is having a Napa Valley wine promotion. It features the wines from Duckhorn, Shafer and Joseph Phelps vineyards.

There is a reason why wines from the Napa Valley are so much in favour by wine promoters. It happened in Paris, way back in 1976. What is now known by many as the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 (duh!). In a blind taste test put together by a wine merchant named Steven Spurrier, the top wines, both red and white, were won by Napa Valley vineyards.

The red was won by a cab and white was won by a chardonnay. Amazing thing was, both vineyards were established in 1972. Both vintages were 1973. Both bottles (one each of the red and white) are on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Steven Spurrier only sold French wine and thought it was a great way to humiliate New World wines everywhere with a show down but after the wine taste test, he was banned for a year from wine tasting tours. The French dismissed the results of course, and the judges attempted to recover by wanting to take back their ballots.

I have yet to open my bottle of White Zinfandel from Beringer. Bought it for $25 at Carrefour only to see the same bottle being sold for $23 at Isetan Scotts.

Anyhow, the Napa Valley Food and Wine Series at BLU is going at $245 (probably still got +++) for the set dinner with wine pairing per person or $145 per person without wine.

I don't have to think about this one. I'll pass.

'That is definitely a California. It has no nose,' said another judge - after downing a Batard-Montrachet '73."

Where do undergraduates in Durham wank?

Durham is a town 75 miles north of York. About an hour by car.

It is known as the Land of Prince Bishops because the powerful Bishops of Durham had for centuries ruled as a virtually independent state. They had their own army, nobility, courts and coinage, and they left behind a fascinating legacy which can still be traced today.

Durham Castle, which is a World Heritage Site, is a well-visited tourist attraction that houses University College, the foundation college for the University of Durham. Hence University College occupies the oldest university building in the country currently. Durham University was the Sunday Times University of the Year in 2005. This must make the current Chancellor really proud. The Chancellor happens to be Bill Bryson. York was awarded in 2003. *yippee*

So where do the male students of the University of the Year wank?


Thanks to jade for the email.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

You learn new things everyday

Was at the doctor's recently. There was this word that was written on my report which really piqued my curiousity.


Guess what it means?

Pupils Equal And Reactive To Light

Also this non-official acronym: CROTCH

Can Reach Orgasm Through Cock Handling


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Not your average Eureka! moment

I was having a shower when I thought about this really random thought.

I do mean random.

What does it say about a person (only referring to those who wear spectacles/glasses) if s/he keeps their glasses on while showering? I realised that I have been keeping them on for the past year or so....

So I, as it were, Googled "wearing glasses in the shower" and guess what? Apparently most girls who do that keep them on when they are shaving their legs in the shower.

But fuck. I don't shave my legs. So then what? Moreover, I hold onto the shower head instead of fixing it on the shower head socket thingie.

And then another thing came into my head.

When I am showering (and if I am not holding onto the shower head), do I face the shower head or face away from it? I remember when I was in Uni, I always face the shower head. Apparently that's not the norm. Does it matter how the door to the shower room is positioned relative to the shower head?

Fuck.....Archimedes' Eureka! moment in the bath led to him discovering the use of density. Mine's about shaving leg hair and fucking which direction people face in a shower?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - MBTI - I am INFJ|INFP|ISFJ - I can't decide

Since the warfare course ended, i've been attending a gamut of workshops in coaching, leadership, management, learning organisation etc today i had this workshop on understanding personality types, decision making and resolving conflicts.

Under the first portion, were introduced to this MBTI thingie (very familiar if you have gone for some sort of pastoral care and career guidance-PCCG thing). it's something about 16 typical personality types of which one should approximate yours and somehow it shouldn't change throughout your life (not true) and will determine many choices you make and stuff. blah...

what was interesting to me was how general the test was. but it provided some surprising insights. you can take the test online if you want. click here

Somehow I ended up somewhere in between INFJ and ISFJ. Took the online version of the test and came up with ISFP which I thought was more like myself. sorta. try it, it's fun! You'd be surprise (not me, but others) when you tell others that you are an Introvert.

Nothing much for the decision making workshop....some tips on controlling meetings or some shit like that.

resolving conflicts workshop was rather fun. it's following a model, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). What happened to C and M? I dunno.

anyway, the model explains that in conflicts, usually you will end up in one fo five situations depending on the level of your assertiveness and cooperativeness:

Placing these dimensions of a grid shows five main clusters of conflict styles:

1. Competing (high assertiveness - low cooperativeness)
2. Avoiding (low assertiveness - low cooperativeness)
3. Accommodating (low assertiveness - high cooperativeness)
4. Collaborating (high assertiveness - high cooperativeness)
5. Compromising (medium assertiveness - medium cooperativeness)

so, supposedly collaborative outcomes are the best cause you end up having high in both areas. So I did some questionnaire and what I got was that my primary mode is Collaborative. Yay! (yes, I'm just like the other 1,278,2873,290 who took this test but hell, we still have wars and shit). My secondary mode is Avoidance. Which is actually super weird, or logical, in a way. I'm Pisces. Comprehende? So when I am facing a conflict, in order to resolve it, I will strive to collaborate. If not, fuck, I'll just dig a hole and hide in till winter is over. Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction and i think this description fits me to a T actually.

But in order to be super well-like and stuff, you need to recognise this fact. Alot of people love themselves to most. So the best way to be loved by others is to be like them. Exactly like them.

Looking back at the peer appraisals that I got during the course, somethings begin to make sense....their comments....

During the coaching workshop, we were passing around a piece of paper to do a written appraisal for each other. Basically write down the first thing that comes into your mind.
Guess what I got?
Examples (real ones by the way):

He is our Thai boy. Hardworking, serious and humourous. A good friend I don't want to explain the Thai part. Let's just say I do a wicked rendition of the Tiffany Show Girls.

Party person who is also a very analytical person

Gay, deep thinking. Silent Brokeback continues to influence the batch...Deep...thinking....lucky not deep something else. See the obvious paradox? Party person who is silent?

HA HA HA Funny and lots of quick witted comments

Quick and witty

A mysterious & intelligent person. He is quite unconventional but quite mystery [sic]! Hehe. Mysterious? Looks like a case of Mulder and Scully.

A very funny and interesting person =)
sure, and so are you.

Black & White/Dangerous/HIStory/Thriller what the hyell?

Good Buddy

Very unique! Unique in humour, opinion, point of view
perhaps unique was the favoured euphemism for wrong or unacceptable

Really wacky ideas and not afraid to speak his mind sure sure.....

So who figured me out? So am I extravert or introvert? My guess is, if everyone can really figure out everybody with tests like these....alot of conflicts would not have arose at all.

I'd like to end this entry with this thought - Is the term "single choice" an oxymoron? Hobson's choice, anyone?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What I did with my Krisflyer Miles

I redeemed a large chunk of it for a return ticket to jakarta. Spent a relaxing weekend in jakarta and was away from the hustle and bustle of the city proper because V was staying at Sheraton Bandara. The hotel is only 10 minutes away from the airport but a good 40minutes from the main city area.

I brought my camera along but, I cannot believe this, I never took it out of the pouch. There were lots of photo opportunities but somehow just didn't muster enough enthusiasm.

After a prolonged period of inactivity in this blog, I kinda think I have nothing much to write about. So I am writing all this mundane boring stuff that doesn't provide much insight but hey, better something than nothing, right?

Ok, maybe I should just drag on with the jkt trip and really flog it for all it's worth.

Arrived on thursday night and kinda just showered than sleep. Woke on friday at about mid-day then just explored the sprawling hotel grounds (the highest floor in the hotel was the 4th cause land's not expensive in jakarta, especially when it is near the airport, surrounded by marsh). Had oxtail soup for lunch before reading Freakonomics at leisure. Was still full from lunch when V came back so skipped dinner.

Saturday was like Singapore weekend. Spent the day at Plaza Senayan and Plaza Indonesia. Both the shopping centres had similar shops.....the luxury brands and also spotted local brands like Pretty Fit, Beetle Bug, Charles and Keith, Bread Talk, m)phosis, GG<5. The Singapore clothing brands seem to charge a premium cause the prices were higher than those in singapore. Perhaps it's marketed as an international brand there? There's good old Mango and Zara to fall back on which I think made V rather happy.

Sunday was more rest with V going to the gym while I chill out by the pool. Caught some sun from late morning till mid day. Had lunch with V and watched some tv with her. Thereafter it was the long dreaded wait to take the shuttle bus to the airport.

It felt like a short trip cause I guess like they say, time flies when you are having fun. It wasn't fun fun but enjoyable to spend time with V with nothing to do. No agenda. Fuss free.

She'll be back on next friday. feels like a long way. i think she feels the same. working overseas isn't as fun as we thought it'd be. but if it wasn't jkt and it was hk instead, i'm sure it'll be much better. =)

I don't know what to blog about

So Lee Ang was awarded Best Director. Not wildly unexpected. C'mon, he was the "People's Choice" back when Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was out. Brokeback Mountain didn't get Best Picture. *yawn* The awards show was in Los Angeles, not that there was any blatant favouritism going on, I had my reservations with Brokeback Mountain getting Best Picture. Haven't watched Crash so wouldn't know better really.

Finished reading Freakonomics over the weekend when I was in JKT with V. More to write about but not now.

Kinda tired and not feeling top of the world at the moment. so.....good night.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Will be away for the shouldn't be able to blog.

Even a stopped clock tells the right twice a day

Brokeback Mountain - review

For those who are familiar with wuxia films will tend to agree that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was a lucky shot for Lee Ang. The film, for its genre, is far from the best. But because of some Hollywood star dust, shrewed marketting, high profile reviews and patronage, it won a number of accolades for Lee Ang. Zhang Yimou's Hero was better as a wuxia film, that's in my opinion, but perhaps it failed in getting good reviews from the arthouse pack, and was not commercially viable with obtuse story telling and ambitious aims to draw analogies.

Lee Ang is definitely a sensitive director. He is capable of drawing out emotions from actors and actresses, putting a humane touch to characters adapted from literature. He has a keen eye for sweeping panaromic scenes that reminds me of romantic paintings. Romantic, not in the long-stem roses, champagne and strawberries, but the awe that nature has over humans. You can see lots of it in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. And with the Alberta, Canada as backdrop, masquerading Brokeback Mountain, there were epic sweeps of the mountains, fields and rivers. Not as dramatic as Peter Jackson's Lord of The Rings. There is no need for that. A laidback, earthy, crisp air type of feel would suffice for this tragic love story between two males.

But is this the movie that should win Oscars? Best Picture?

The theme is not novel. Granted there are a number of Hollywood films that dealt with homosexuality. Stanley Kwan's Lan Yu, which I thought was at least on par with Brokeback Mountain (although it's not a fair comparison), covered the theme of true love between two males previously. Lots more movies did that.

Is it because it's Lee Ang again? There was so much hype around this non-summer release. By word of mouth alone...opening in a limited number of cinemas....yet the buzz around it could not be kept under wraps.

Somehow, I think the movie should garner a couple of biggies. Perhaps even a best director for Lee Ang. If he should win, I'd agree to it if it was the merit of his sensitivity and handling of human emotions and appropriate use of epic panaromas. I have yet to watch Capote, Good Night and Good Luck and Crash. So can't really get a good feel. Last year's Best Picture was awarded to Million Dollar Baby and Clint Eastwood was the Best Director. Lee Ang went home in 2001 without either. It may be a repeat this year. But there is just so much hype around these two homosexual cowboys....

I wish I knew how to quit guessing....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I watched it, finally.

I am going to write about Li An (or Ang Lee to the western world) sometime really soon. About his movie, Brokeback Mountain.

I cannot believe how lucky a director he is. There is obvious talent in him but....such luck. Unbelievable.

A connection! At last!

I was reading past copies of Time magazine and reread this article about Syriana and the story of how Stephen Gaghan together with ex-CIA officer, Robert Baer (who wrote the book See No Evil on which the movie was loosely based on) went about hobnobbing with sheiks, political figures and businessmen.

Here, Stephen asked Robert, if he had ever killed anybody. I lifted text directly from the article:

"I've made decisions that resulted in people's deaths, maybe hundreds of people's deaths, but I never lost a night's sleep. Never. Because I had 500 pages of U.S. law to hide behind." Gaghan's initial thought was that he had been fed a line--and a bad one. Gradually, though, he realized Baer's candor with a flourish was not affectation but a kind of verbal rosary. Baer had done some bad things, and he needed to reassure himself and others that he had done them for a good cause. "When I started this whole process, I ran across this Victor Hugo quote. 'Exile is not a material thing, it is a spiritual thing,'" says Gaghan. "And what ever happened to Bob inside the CIA, he felt to me like an exile."

That was exactly how Avner felt when he was in Brooklyn, talking to Ephraim.