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There were three of them. Lightly swaying in the frosty wind, I think they might have smelt faintly of mustard. But then again, that could have been my lunch.
There were three of them on the ridge. Climbing up you could see their features a lot better. From a distance, you couldn?t see anything that could positively identify them. Trudging along that narrow path you could almost taste the tension building up. The fog was thick and they were barely visible now. Walking on, one could faintly make out a fourth.
But the mist closed in and they were alone.
Who can resist mentioning Christmas now, when it?s less than a month away? You can even feel the mistletoe invading and see the sales staff smiling. It comes swiftly like a swarm of migratory wild geese, cackles a lot, and then runs off to Australia where they have summer. Even the weather changes when Christmas comes. It becomes a chilly twenty-two degrees where thirty-two is more common. The department stores dress up too. They wrap themselves up in mistletoe and red scarves. That means Christmas is approaching. Or is it just some kind of ersatz substitute?
Where did Christmas go?
I've always felt that Mozart sounds funny. Now I think I know why: it's the bassoons. When they play they sound wickedly comical. Mozart wrote the worst bassoon parts. Tchaikovsky made it sound noble, Prokofiev made it sound gruff and Stravinsky made it sound like a call from man's distant past. But Mozart's bassoon solos are the bane of art music. They turn a serious concerto into a musical joke. When you hear a violin melody it sounds expressive and romantic; when the piano plays it sounds delicate and nimble. But bassoons playing Mozart always remind us of childish naïvete.
As I stood by the lake in the cold foggy morning I heard the swans. The swans are beautiful creatures. But it's a pity their voices are absolutely disgusting.
I couldn't see the swans; all I could hear was a loud cacophony. Evidently a brood of young swans had just been hatched. Hidden by the sedge and cattail, their voices cut through the pre-dawn mist like cleavers.
I ventured closer to the sound. It was a beautiful sight, the seven young swans and two fully-grown ones. Exactly like those Walt Disney films. Until the full-grown swans flew straight at me.
Three creepers grew up against the wall. Baking in the strong sun, in the most barren of hot deserts, these creepers grew. And - how audacious! - they had even flowered.
A scorpion marinated in the heat by the side of the wall. Nestling down by the pile of rubble, she paused to ponder the meaning of her own existence. Clearly puzzled, she decided to snuggle in the pile of rubble and go to sleep instead.
"Damn, you?re asleep," thought the little green snake as he stared lovingly at the cute sleeping scorpion. "I'll give you another day to live."
But the cute scorpion was nowhere to be seen the next day. "Damn again," thought the snake, as he slid over to the other side of the wall for one last meaningless search. Glancing upwards, he was startled to find a pair of brown leather shoes in his field of vision. Hissing at them for the comfort of his own voice, he unexpectedly alerted the owner of the shoes of his presence. Slithering away as fast as he could, he could not help but hearing the young human ask of him, "I am the little prince. Does your venom hurt?"
I walked into the garden. It smelt of springtime. Flowers bloomed in intense shades of red, blue, purple, yellow. Dew glistened in the light of the friendly morning sun.
Making my way leisurely into the shade afforded by the pavilion I inadvertently disrupted the activities of those butterflies. Flitting away, they seemed to be participants in an ancient dance, a rite of spring. They clearly seemed to feel a certain maliciousness towards me.
Sitting down in the shadow of the pavilion roof I watched the birds flying from tree to tree.
Then the butterflies attacked, banishing me from the garden.
I understand the perfect way to start a conversation is to talk about the weather. So I shall do just that, and it will be thought provoking and all, and you, the reader, will feel good about reading all this.
Well the weather is bad here. How?s yours? It shines at the right temperature to turn an egg into charcoal on the pavement here. If it doesn?t then it?s raining. When it rains after a sunny spell you can hear the water fizzing on the concrete floor as it boils immediately after hitting the pavement. How scary is that? Very.
Would you like to know how to keep an idiot busy for a long time? Simply read the next line.
Try reading the next line to find out how to keep a dumb person busy.
Curious about how you could keep a moron busy for a while? Just go on to the next line.
Wonder how to keep a fool occupied doing something really stupid? Find out in the next line.
If you want to know how to keep someone busy for a long time, read on.
I think this is starting to sound like one of those condominium adverts.
Life is downright wet in this part of the world. (Aha I saw a thought flit through your mind just then. Don't deny it.) It's raining again and gosh no we don't want that do we? We love the sun. The bringer of warmth and happiness and Mediterranean (heavens where would we be without spell checkers? We would probably be hanging around those what d'you call its? dik... dic... dixonarys.) beaches and suntan. The sun, oh beautiful thing, little globe just out of reach hanging out there defying gravity. Giver of heat and energy. I wonder how much it's paid?
Where would we be without the sun? We wouldn't be sitting in front of computers using Microsoft products. Microsoft is evil. It charges tonnes of money for software that doesn't work. Like Microsoft Works. It doesn't, believe me. It doesn't even work with Microsoft Word.
I don't like Microsoft because of Visual Basic. I bought Visual Basic 6 some time back and the next month they released Visual Basic. Net (pronounced Visual Basic dot Net). That shows a surprising lack of tact. Moreover they release so much new software each year that they're wasting the Earth's resources. Horrible isn't it?
Like the environmentalist who can't give up his car, I can't live without Microsoft. Believe me, I've tried. I used StarOffice for a while until it stopped being free software. I have 4 different internet browsers on my computer: Netscape 7, Mozilla Firebird (or is that Firefox?), Opera, and of course Microsoft Internet Explorer. I use Opera but keep IE because some blasted sites like the school holiday homework portal can't run on anything but IE. It's not that I care about holiday homework, just that I want my head in the place it is and not as someone's footstool.
There is something fundamentally wrong with holidays. Every time we have a long holiday, the computer's down, the throat's sore, the car's getting sent for repairs, the pets die. Why does everything start acting up when we're supposed to be enjoying ourselves? And they never do in term time. The stars are not in our favour. I think we should move everything one month behind, so the December break becomes a January break. This should be implemented from next year. And while we're at it, why not shift everything once a year so that we get an extra holiday month?
Can you wheeze in the key of A flat? I bet you can?t. I woke up this morning and started coughing and wheezing. Then I stopped to think: hadn?t I heard that before? But before I could carry that thought any further another fit evicted it from my brain. After that quietened down I mentally prepared myself for serious blood loss, and inhaled slowly. There was no doubt about it: I had just wheezed an unsteady A flat. Exhaling slowly again, I heard a scale starting on E flat and going down. How fascinating. I can even do vibrato now.
I don't think many people think about their own lives a lot now. They just live on in their little government-subsidised (or -unsubsidised, as the case might be) concrete-and-metal high-rise cages with no gardens driving to work and driving back and watching the black box with the little people and sitting in front of the grey box with a CD drive attached to it and a messy thin metal monster at the back. Here I would like to quote the first line of Queen's wildly popular Bohemian Rhapsody
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Ask yourself that.
I can't help but think that, just as everyone's mass-producing music these days, everyone's now mass-producing profundity. It used to be manageable with those nifty little proverbs they used to throw in like "too many cooks spoil the Chicken Soup for the Soul" but now everyone bandies one-liners about like it's nobody's business. Profundity is really becoming a cliché. And like those art-illiterate people who go to the Louvre and gaze at the Mona Lisa and say 'wow I could never paint that', we look at people who say profound things and say 'wow I could never think of that'.
It is difficult to understand why many Chinese Singaporeans hardly speak Chinese. The explanations given (difficulty involved in learning Chinese, and lack of usefulness) just don't seem adequate. My guess is that Chinese simply does not have the richness of vocabulary present in English. How many insults in Chinese can you think of? (Chinese dialects don't count.) How would you translate "I'm going to watch Phantom of the Opera - the movie, not the musical - and have lunch at Burger King"? Granted, it isn't impossible, it's just that we don't have the time to consult a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary.
I am finally beginning to appreciate the difficulties involved in writing one hundred words every day. Most days, we just don't have the inspiration to write. Just like today. Saturdays are good days, after Friday but before Sunday so you can relax after finishing a run of awful weekdays but still look forward to one more day of indolence and apathy. Saturdays are made so that people can have one day to not give a hoot about life.
It's also a week before Christmas. Christmas is a wonderful time of gift-giving and rejoicing and all that heart-warming tear-wrenching emotional stuff.
The weather is getting worse. I looked through back entries of my hundred words and realised that on the 8th it was too sunny and getting really warm, and on the 10th it was horribly wet and raining and all that. This is really going too far. I think there should be a legal limit to the number of weather mood-swings per month. 3 would be a nice number, but it's up to the astrologers and astronomers and weather-people (we must be gender neutral and everything remember?) and chemists and ornithologists and copyeditors and geographers and civil service to decide.
What makes root beer fizz when you add ice cream into it? Some pedantic idiot told me it's a reaction between something in the ice cream and the root beer and that makes lots of carbon dioxide and you should make sure there's enough oxygen around you and if there isn't you'll make carbon monoxide instead and heaven knows we wouldn't want that, would we? 'Cos carbon monoxide is bad for you and hugs your blood cells and doesn't let oxygen come in and you'll die. Muhahahaha.
Ah the nice people in white have come to talk to me again.
Continuing my thoughts from yesterday (continuity is a good thing, they tell me) I think that guy was talking rubbish. Root beer doesn't fizz because of some evil reaction. It fizzes because it likes ice cream. Now I can relate to root beer. Relate-to-root-beer. Relatetorootbeer. Relatorobeer. Reltrobeer. Retrober. That's something you have to do, the people in white tell me. You have to try to relate to people. Relate-to-people. Relatetopeople. Relatople. Relple. Root beer can relate to me because we both like ice cream. It is effervescent with joy and love for all icecreamkind. It is simply bubbling with happiness.
Mendelssohn's Octet is effervescent with joy and love too. Whether it is joy and love for all icecreamkind, or Christmas, or little elves dancing around his head, I do not know. We are not likely to find out either; he's been dead for a while. But his Octet is effervescent with joy and love. That's what's important. And it sounds perfect for Christmas. Everything is bubbling and mixing about and swirling with beautiful colours. Like those big Christmas crowds swirling around Orchard Road. But those Christmas crowds don't swirl for joy and love; they want to do their Christmas shopping.
The MRT is not my friend. It is an evil animal which hates everyone who gets on its trains. The MRT is Singapore's equivalent of the Tube, but ours has toothpaste inside so everything moves slowly and there's no space. It is air-conditioned, which makes it different from the Tube. In Singapore, air-conditioning means that we bring a touch of Siberia into your life. Also, be careful of old people who "lose their balance", laugh, and land on teenagers (or tourists) trying to keep their feet on the ground. They invariably think that losing their balance is a wonderful experience.
It's Christmas eve! But I'm not going to talk about Christmas. That's so boring and predictable. Instead I'll talk about obesity. Obesity is a bad thing. It is especially bad in crowded supermarkets. If you go to a supermarket's ice cream section, you see tonnes of obese citizens carting tonnes of ice cream to the cashier. That's the only exercise they get, so that's one good thing. But why does it have to be ice cream? They should be slimming down so that they don't clog up supermarket aisles and crush people on public transport. Not just eating ice cream.
Christmas was really hot in the morning and cold in the afternoon. I suppose that's because Christmas is a time of getting together, so the weather in Australia and the weather in Norway decided to meet. Not a bad thing - boosts tourism, all that visiting. But when that happens, hot air rises, because cold air is denser. So the Australian air was here, and the Norwegian air came over and displaced it. That creates a... cold? warm? cold? Yes that's it. It creates a cold front. And because hot air has more moisture, it starts to rain. A lot.
I went and got a marvellous set of speakers today. Altec Lansing, 5.1 (which means you get five speakers plus a subwoofer). The sound is beautiful. I'm living with the wires dangling all over the place now but I'm planning to hang the rear speakers from the ceiling. To test it I started with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches. The sound isn't too loud but because I'm surrounded with speakers I'm surrounded with sound. I tested Stravinsky's Firebird too. It's a lovely piece, because it starts off with only the double basses and cellos murmuring a slow motif extremely quietly.
Music is incredibly useful. For instance, without music, we would have scenes in the movies where they say "I love you" before kissing each other for ten minutes too long and turning blue and suffocating because they were so embarrassed about stating the obvious earlier. Movies are not about stating the obvious. They are about people finding meaning and happiness and love and joy in life. Music is there in movies so that it can do the job of telling the audience the painfully obvious, so they can blubber a bit in their seats, say "awww..." and cry a little.
They stood threateningly around him, like a pack of wolves circling round an injured bird. Lashing out, he said, "I want to know how this school functions. Teachers release students late, causing them to be late for other teachers' lessons. Tell me, how does this school work?" 'Tense' isn't adequate to describe them. I mean, grammatical tense was, yes, but tense as adjective describing mood, no it wasn't. You could hear an ant cough. Someone replied, "This school works on the understanding that people will do their jobs well; and not walk out in fits of anger." He walked out.
Even though Suntec City's underground parking space is gigantic enough to lose cars in (actually the biggest in Singapore), it may be full if major public exhibitions like travel fairs (where tour organisers promote overseas trips to an appreciative public) are going on. As such, the occupancy rate of the Suntec City carpark (at the time of a large public exhibition) may be taken seriously as an indicator of Singapore's economic health and spending power. During periods of economic recession, you may easily find a parking slot next to the lobby. This year it's nearly impossible. Malaysian drivers, be warned.
I realise that the last sentence yesterday might have been construed as the ranting of some xenophobic weirdo. When I said "Malaysian drivers, be warned" I meant they should find out about Singaporean roads before driving here. I said that because there are a lot of Malaysian drivers around here these days. They drive in and get lost and swindled in some car park in the CBD which charges $4 for half-an-hour's parking. One driver stopped along Evans Road to ask me what was the nearest way to Johor Bahru. It was actually Bukit Timah Road, just ahead of her.
It's actually the last minute of the last hour of the last day of the year. Incredible. It has not been a terribly wonderful year, but it hasn't been that horrible either. For one, I got my Grade 8 in double bass from ABRSM this year. With 140 out of 150 marks too. I have survived the depredations of time and Singapore's MRT system. I have gotten a funky phone, funky PDA and funky surround sound system. I hardly fell sick these holidays. And (this is unprecedented) my computer hasn't died for one year. In short, I rule the world.
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