Archive for November, 2007

Post-HK thoughts

November 26, 2007

Days 4 and 5 of HK were terrible because my running nose suddenly decided to take a turn for the worse, and self-medication didn’t work.  I actually had to pass up exploring on Saturday evening and stayed in the hotel while WS orgas-ed herself shopping at Granville.  Managed to drag my sick ass to the Avenue of the Stars for some hazy skyline pics on Day 5, then caught the delayed flight home and paid a visit to the doc this afternoon.  After two doses, things seem to be looking up but I’m not so keen on venturing out – you wouldn’t believe how much sniffling, wheezing and coughing I had to put up with in HK.  It seems everyone’s coming down with something.  All in all, I can’t say it was the best-est trip I had, because being sick while on vacation is really sucky, but it wasn’t at all bad, even though we didn’t get to go to explore Citygate @ Tung Chung because somebody had to return to Tai Koo on Day 4 to exchange a pair of shoes.Couple of things struck me about HK and her people, now that I’ve had more time to think it over:

  • HKers really work hard. I mean hard.  For example, it was close to midnight and this woman who was hawking her company’s massage services (no I don’t mean that kind of service) was still hard at work trying to pull in customers.  They don’t seem to get a moment’s rest, that’s what I observed.
  • HKers do things really fast and get impatient with you if you are not quick on the uptake. Witness how quickly they grab the available seats on the trains.  And no smiling go-out-of-their-way-to-make-you-feel-privileged or anything.  Their cold efficiency – from hotel concierges to salespeople – makes Singaporeans look and behave like Mother Teresa.  WS is pretty pissed with them cos they don’t seem all too concerned about service excellence.  I say, who cares?  They’re out to make a living – niceties be damned.  Money talks loudest in HK.
  • Still, there’s a buzz in HK that you don’t get to see in SG.  From the grittier parts of Kowloon to the polished designer togs of Central and LKF, there’s an edge about HK that is akin to life in New York City. Plus the weather – 19 to 25 degrees – is so much better than in SG.  If given a chance, I’d be willing to spend some time working in HK.  At least that’ll give me an opportunity to brush up on my very halting Cantonese.

Pictures some other time – after I retrieve my camera cable at work.

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Watching the evening lights twinkle at The Peak

November 22, 2007

Day 2 of HK, and reflecting on what’s happened while drinking mocha while the evening lights twinkle on The Peak, I’ve realised why the HK girls look so good – with the great weather and the abundance of cheap, fashionable clothes available.  As far as my booty is concerned, I just got an Esprit windbreaker and belt, a bottle of Gio, and a couple of 9/11 documentaries.  That, plus Moya Brennan’s Signature, which I couldn’t find in HMV Heeren.  Yung Kee’s geese is highly recommended, but we ate so much today at lunch we couldn’t order dessert.  Central is so much cooler than Shenton Way, with taller scrapers and more hip people.  Will probably not venture into LKF, but am trying to score a walk down TST Promenade and the Avenue of the Stars.  Will definitely check out Citigate at Tung Chung way down in Lantau, but SZ is still up in the air at this point.  Maybe a trip out to Macau, I’m not sure.  HK combines old world charm with cut throat modernity, and that’s possibly why it’s such an inviting place to live in.  Even the MTR display panels have lights indicating the stations – now why can’t our MRT do that as well?

Gotta stop here and decide where to head off to next.  WS is diarying even as we speak, but she’s doing it the low-tech way.

Fragant Harbor-bound, I

November 21, 2007

So here I am, performing the obligatory blogging-before-departing-the-airport-gates ritual. It’s 5.25 am and apparently 24 degrees over in HK.  Have psyched myself for 5D4N of eating, shopping and whatever unexpected will happen with WS.  Then again, it should be fun.  This is my second trip – my first was barely exploratory given the short time (2D1N) that I had back in 2003.  Given my workload next year, I’d figure I better enjoy myself while I can, travelling curveballs be damned.  Have a stupid running nose that won’t stop running but am valiantly waiting to board the UA flight.  Boy, UA has the best timings but their security is pretty tight.  Well, if you had colleagues on 2 flights ruthlessly eliminated on one blue fall Tuesday morning, you’d be paranoid too.  At least they didn’t ask us to take off our shoes.

Doesn’t lionise the GWOT, but offers lamb answers instead

November 17, 2007

lions for lambs poster

After some procrastination, I finally caught Lions for Lambs, to hear what more could be said about the GWOT and America’s foreign policy of preemption in response to it.  Unsurprisingly, the film didn’t go as far as it could have gone, beyond positing the often-posited issues: blind patriotism vs apathetic bitching, the media’s compromised role as the fourth estate, and the military’s half-assed tactical understanding of the game in Afghanistan as well as Iraq.  Was Glenn Close supposed to be a female Woodward as well as the Judith Miller apologist?  Were Finch and Rodriguez really thinking that what they were doing during the mountaintop face-off was ‘engaging’ the enemy as opposed to needlessly getting owned because some Wolfowitz-type White House wannabe still holds on to a ‘whatever it takes’ strategy to get them out of a mess they had no business getting into in the first place?  In short, Lions doesn’t really try to clear the air, so much as muddy the waters.  If anything, they should have threw in a shot of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial just for the hell of it.

‘Razor’ brings back BSG’s edge

November 14, 2007

kendra shaw, kitchen hand

Just had a major BSG fix recently, now that the special DVD-length movie ‘Razor’ is available for viewing. A special mention goes to Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen, who plays the conflicted Kendra Shaw (above), haunted by a terrible secret she’s had to live with since her introduction to the Pegasus. You gotta love the Aussie accent, but also how she gradually loses her doe-eyed innocence to the brutal necessities of war and becomes herself brutalised by what she has to do in the name of survival.

On the brighter side, we also get to see Marcia “Showboat” Chase (played by Stephanie Von Pfetten) again, if only for a short time. God she’s hot. Please, please, give her an episode of her own. She owns the Pegasus (and now Galactica) deck, man.

I want to read something that doesn’t depress me

November 13, 2007

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? You would think so. As I scour my unread piles of stuff, I realise there’s very little uncomplicatedly light reading. It’s all GWOT and Islamofascism and why the world’s such a screwed, effed-up place. Either that, or it’s guidebooks which means I really have to get started on planning the HK trip. Which I want to but somehow don’t want to. Someone, please, recommend me something really inane to read.

McCreary triumphs again with sophisticated musical offering

November 13, 2007

bsg season 3 ostJust finished listening to this, McCreary’s 3rd offering since breaking all the TV series soundtrack scoring rules for BSG with the Season 1 soundtrack. Season 3’s brutal, grimy storylines are perfectly accentuated by McCreary’s musical maturity and additions from the ethnic music bag. Of note is his sitar-infused reinterpretation of the Dylan classic, “All Along the Watchtower”, which has already garnered rave reviews when the season finale aired. Another is his poignant interpretation of Starbuck’s Theme during the episode Maelstrom, particularly the deathbed scene with her mother.  Very powerful stuff.  Can’t wait for the Razor soundtrack, dude. Based on what I’ve seen and heard, the Kendra Shaw theme will be another winner.

woodward’s hedged account

November 13, 2007

bush at war cover

Am a little surprised I got through Woodward’s first book on the wartime Bush administration in just 2 days, but more surprising is how Woodward’s account seems – depending on which camp you’re in – cunningly hedged or plainly objective. Like Suskind, Ricks and Hersh, Woodward makes plain the neocons’ (read Cheney and Wolfowitz) thirst for war and preemptive unilateralism, but treats the subject of GWB, and to a certain extent Tenet, with velvet gloves. Dubya is potrayed as both piously idealist (in the international relations sense of the word) and more strategic in his world view than Suskind or any of the others give him credit for. Woodward is by far less critical of Rumsfeld than the other accounts, and one wonders if the gloves do finally come off in Plan of Attack and State of Denial. Well, might as well finish the trilogy now.

A fiasco, indeed

November 11, 2007

fiasco cover

You know, the more I read about the Bush administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq, the more depressed I feel.  Particularly if authors like Suskind, Hersh, Ricks – and probably Woodward as well – start chiming on certain things; ie. the intellectual and ideological naivete and/or arrogance underpinning the lack of realistic pre-combat and post-combat planning. the close-mindedness of the civilian defence leadership, the inflexibility of military doctrine etc etc.  Now I’m really not sure if I want to read Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City or Woodward’s Bush at War.  

But back to Fiasco: Ricks writes a good and detailed book, and particularly affecting for me were his anecdotes of soldiers dealing with the new kind of combat in Iraq that they were ill-prepared for.  Another highlight is his consistent references to counterinsurgency doctrine, in particular David Galula’s work.  This will probably be an area that I’ll venture into in my next reading phase.  That is, if I don’t get sidetracked into reading two of Richard Crockatt’s titles regarding 9/11 and the turn in US foreign policy – America Embattled: 9/11, Anti-Americanism and the Global Order and the more recent After 9/11: Cultural Dimensions of American Global Power.

i wanna goa party!

November 8, 2007

anjunabeach-ad1.jpg

Sadly I know I can’t….sob….