Monday, June 29, 2009

Any news besides MJ?

I'm wondering whether there is anything important going on in the world, because all I see on TV is news about Michael Jackson. Not so much about his death--which is news--but about his life. All of the media outlets have been gleefully putting out everything they have about the guy, and there is no sign that it will stop. At least not until something really big happens.

And what's with all the interviews with the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? I don't recall either of them being MJ's personal spiritual guide. They'd run over a bunch of old ladies to grab the spotlight.

I never cared for Michael's fashion sense, but his moonwalk was impressive. Personally, I never became much of a dancer because life played a curious trick on me. While growing up I would watch enviously as my parents got all dolled up for a night at the ritzy Miami Beach nightclubs. There was the Fountainbleau, the Eden Roc, the Castaways, and the jewel in the crown: the Playboy Club, where the waitresses wore those outrageously sexy bunny costumes. Mom and dad were having cocktails and listening to Frank Sinatra, and the babysitter was putting me to bed at 8:00. Throughout my youth I waited for the time when I would be old enough to make that scene. Finally I was old enough to get into clubs and enjoy that glamorous lifestyle and what did I get? Disco! As Dean Martin would have said, “ain’t that a kick in the head.”

So I never did amount to much on the dance floor, and just managed a few basic moves to get by. My entire generation acquired the same modest level of skill. Most of the guys I know would dance at clubs to meet girls, dance with them during courtship to keep them, dance with them at their wedding to keep up appearances, and never dance with them again. For some reason their wives often resent this. My wife does, and has told me many times that she was wooed under false pretenses. Nonsense! It’s the most natural thing in the world. Throughout the animal kingdom birds, beasts, insects, and fish perform similar mating dances to impress the females of their species. But you never see them going to animal discos afterwards.

That's all I have on MJ. I hope something BIG happens soon so I can get some fresh grist for the mill.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book is available

Getting Into Singapore is starting to appear on the shelves in bookstores throughout Singapore. It is also available in most ebook formats at for only US$3.99.

My first book, Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?: Lessons in Effective Communication, is also on sale in ebook form at for the same price.

While I'm old school in that I like books made of paper and ink, there is something to be said for ebooks. They are cheaper, more portable, and save space as well as trees. They are the wave of the future.

I promise my next post will be more interesting!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bizarre TV Commercials

Watching TV is such a passive experience that most people don’t even notice the junk that is flashed into their heads. A couple of TV commercials aired recently illustrate the point.

The first one is for Nutella, a chocolate and hazelnut spread that is delicious on crepes or croissants. In the ad a mother and teacher (Australian, judging by the accent) praises this sugary treat. She even goes so far as to call it “energy for learning.” Now the stuff is tasty, but I wouldn’t want to face a classroom full of kids hopped up on it at 8.30 in the morning. It’s a great example of spin, but has the company no shame?

Another ad features a Singaporean auntie who used to love eating out with her friends. At least she did until denture problems made her reluctant to join them, and they stopped calling her. Fortunately, she found a new denture adhesive that works wonders! Her confidence is back, and she and her old friends are once again storming the buffets like a plague of locusts. What kinds of friends are these? Have they nothing in common other than eating? Is food the sole basis of their so-called friendship? How sad. What’s even sadder is that many Singaporeans can probably relate to her plight (and I don’t mean denture problems.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In the Eye of the Beholder

I was blessed with a rare visit from an American relative in the form of my cousin Hana, a college student in Boston. I’d like to say she came all the way to Singapore to visit, but I can’t. She went to China as part of her course of study in international affairs, and made a side trip for a few days.

We visited the Singapore Art Museum to get a little culture, and I got more than I bargained for. I had an epiphany, and I am now looking into a career change. Specifically, the creative spirit within me is busting out, and I plan to become an artist.

Would you believe I was so inspired by the beautiful expressions of imagination and skillful renderings that I decided to devote my talents to similar expressions? No? I didn’t think so. In fact, I was just amazed by what passes for art these days, and I decided I could do it at least as well.

One piece was a series of 12 square cards arranged in a sequence, each one a darker shade of pink than the last. I could do that.

Then there was a group of television monitors playing videos of “performance art.” One screen showed a man taking off his pants. I do that every day. More than once, if I’m lucky! Another showed a man taking a swig from a bottle of water and forcefully spitting it out. I could do that.

There was also a Michael Jackson style jacket suspended from the ceiling by strings, as though an invisible Michael Jackson was getting ready to “Beat It.” I could do that, too.

Then there was a cardboard box from an overnight delivery company that had been shaped into a crude house. In the “front yard” was a bunch of nail clippers, files, and other manicure tools. Wait a minute; that sounds bad. It was an arrangement of nail care implements. If you describe it the right way someone might actually pay money for it.

When my daughter builds a house of blocks and leaves her toys scattered around I used to think she was just making a mess and refusing to clean it up. Now I know better—I have a budding Duchamp on my hands. I had better stop giving her time out for that, lest I squelch her artistic genius.

My favorite—meaning the one that made me laugh the hardest—was a collection of old fashioned, lacy infant clothing, each suspended from the ceiling by strings, as though they were being worn by infant ghosts.

I got the feeling that some art class assignment was to create a piece of art by suspending objects from the ceiling with string, and the ones that didn’t pass somehow ended up at the museum.

I hate to sound so negative, but most of us artists are of a critical turn, and quite opinionated as well. So, in the interests of equal time, let me say that there were a few nice paintings, sculptures, and ceramic pieces.

There is also a Glass Hall with fantastic, colored glass bowls. I’m not so sure I could do that. These babies were not suspended from strings, but they were mounted high on the walls. Some genius decided that this room would be a great place for young schoolchildren on field trips to play, and the kids were throwing objects all over the place. So if you appreciate glass, you should definitely check it out. But hurry!

In the meantime, I will contemplate my first masterpiece. I’ll get started as soon as I find a large spool of string.