Go with a smile!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Barcelona vs Inter Milan

I took leave to watch the Lyon vs Bayern Munich match last week. Ostensibly. Then in the end I didn't, because I couldn't wake up. Later that evening, though, I ended up watching a SIFF film with Nat and another colleague.

If I had woken up last week, I would have found out something that I found out today. I missed the first alarm on my clock. But I thought, "I can make it till half time". I drove to 1 24 hour coffee shop which I knew screened live matches, even in unearthly hours. They weren't showing Barca vs Inter Milan. Then I drove to another coffee shop. No dice either. See, that's what happens when English teams don't get into Champion's league. They don't show them at coffee shops.

So I have to see what the soccernet report says. Harry Redknapp had asked me what I wanted to bet. The only thing I was willing to wager was that Barcelona would win the match outright and I wasn't sure about that. In any case, I was right. Well stupid me. But I could have been wrong. Inter could have gone for an early goal, which would kill off Barcelona because they they would need 3 goals to get through.

Last week when I was looking at the odds, I thought about buying Liverpool eat ball vs Atletico Madrid. I would have won that one too. Dammit...

Inter Milan had a 3-1 advantage from the first match. That is a good lead, except that the next match is Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Barcelona had a ray of hope when an Inter Milan defender got sent off in the 30+ minute. After that, Barcelona had 85% possession, and had 15 attempts on goal (compared to 1 or 2 for Inter). They weren't there to play football at all. If it were anybody else, it would be outrageous. Since this is Jose Mourinho, you'd expect it of him, he's that cynical. I remember the lyrics of a spoof somebody made about him when he was at Chelsea, "Jose and the Amazing Technicolour Overcoat":

"A corner kick is just enough,
A header on from Damien Duff,
The ball flies right into the net and we are one nil up"

Sums up his counter-attacking philosophy perfectly.

In the end, though, Barcelona "won" this match 1-0. Inter went through. It was the closest of margins, because if Inter Milan conceded 1 more goal, they would have been dumped out, and Barcelona would have completed one of the great comebacks at this stage of the competition.

A piece of trivia: Some journalist mentioned that he wanted to know what the Barcelona dressing room of the 97-98 season was like. That was when Louis Van Gaal (now manager of Bayern Munich, UCL finalist) was manager, Jose Mourinho (manager of Inter Milan, other UCL finalist) was a trainer, and Pep Guardiola (manager of Barcelona) was captain. Another piece of trivia: the UEFA Champion's league finals will be at the Bernabeu stadium, home of Real Madrid. Samuel Eto'o (stupidly sold by Real Madrid to Mallorca, now at Inter), Wesley Sneijder (stupidly sold by Real Madrid to Inter Milan) and Arjen Robben (stupidly sold by Real Madrid to Bayern Munich) are going to play there. Frank Ribery (stupidly not bought by Real Madrid, but suspended for Bayern Munich) will be on the bench.

If I had caught the match, I would have left right after the final whistle. And then I would have missed this:

Similarly, last year, I was watching Barcelona "beat" Chelsea. I also left after the final whistle. I missed this (background: Chelsea were denied 4 plausible penalties by the referee):

So good, they even did a remix of it:

But who cares when you have youtube?

The Europa league semis are tomorrow. I hope that the Europa League final will be between Liverpool and Hamburg, because these are the two cities most closely associated with the Beatles.



Blogger Nat said...

I am not a soccer fan, but I never would have thought Mourinho was capable of emotional outburst like this. Hilarious.

9:53 AM

Blogger 7-8 said...

When Mourinho was manager of Porto, and when they scored that goal that knocked out Man U on their way to the Champion's league, he also celebrated wildly.

The person confronting him was Barcelona's goalkeeper. It would have been great if he tried a sliding tackle from behind on Mourinho.

3:56 PM


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


They started nicknaming blackberries as crackberries. (Crack is a form of cocaine which is smoked, and extremely addictive.) The constant need to check your email every 3 minutes is a pathological form of behaviour. But people still need it.

It’s hard to believe that I actually lived 19 years of my life without the internet. I can hardly remember what it was like, but back in those days, people were criticising television, instead of the internet.

I’m writing this because I had woken up from a nap while on leave. I turned my computer on, thinking that I was going to check my mail. Maybe somebody would have written back to me? Maybe I would have made a sale on my books? Then I found that the internet was down. I was pissed off.

I briefly considered taking the car, and driving down to the library to use the internet. But you know, what they said about climate change. I wasn’t going to put carbon in the air for nothing. (I know that at least 1 of the readers thinks that it’s stupid to worry about putting carbon in the air but I don’t agree.) I thought, I’d better train myself to be less dependent on it. No internet for you. Or at least wait until it’s up.

So I wonder what’s the real cost of our fast-paced life, where problems are solved so quickly, and so well, that you’re always expecting it to be that way. Businesses are always greedy. That’s the thing about capitalism: it works, because it forgives mankind for being impatient and greedy. But the cost is, if you keep on forgiving them for being impatient and greedy, won’t you make the problem worse?

The last 5 years of the millennium were the dawn of the internet age. At the turn of the millennium, our love affair with “the future” had the semblance of a teenage infatuation. Everything was going to be level. Anybody and everybody could be an expert at anything. Great achievements, and great art were no longer going to be the sole domain of experts. You could get video on demand. You could get access to anything and everything.

What happened? I see a lot of editorials decrying that the noughties were a terrible decade. I suppose you could compare it to the end of the 80s and 90s where there were great euphorias (fall of communism and dawn of internet, respectively). And part of it was the realisation that these great futures did not seem to materialise. Not for a lot of people.

When people talk about the great novels, we talked about the 19th century. It was the time of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Woolf, Dickens. It was the golden age for novels. The world hasn’t been a more interesting place in the 20th century, yet it seems as though the human race collectively failed to produce works that people acknowledged as masterpieces, on the same level as your 19th century greats. So was the problem that great novels were not being written, or that they were not recognised as such?

Was it that when life became more full of modern gadgets like the TV and the telephone, it somehow fatally affected the great amounts of concentration that you needed in able to produce a novel? Remember that one of the few 20th century novelists to have produce a work on par with the 19th century was Proust, and he was, because of his asthma, virtually a prisoner of a room lined with cork. So a 20th century man had to be locked up in a room for 10 years in order to be able to write like a 19th century man.

Movies have not been up to par in the last decade. Was it due to the fact that Hollywood is faltering, and the system simply does not allow you to produce great works of art anymore? You could never have a film that caters to people whose attention spans are greater than zero. It’s almost as though the internet has turned us all into zombies, and those zombies are now running Hollywood.

Music? I don’t know. A lot of the music in the 90s I’ve grown to like are those where I’ve had to be patient with it, and give it time to sink in. Is this possible in the age of iTunes, where if a piece of music doesn’t grab you within 10 seconds, it’s consigned to the dustbin?

Well, enough bitching about forebearance (and more importantly, the lack of.) I’m going to save this blog post in word, and post it out tomorrow when hopefully the local network is back up again.



Blogger Nat said...

The impact of avoiding driving to the Library is negligible in the grand scheme of things. But it is the right thing to do. One less car on the road means someone went home earlier, some cyclist did not get killed and some asthmatic guy breaths easy. You get your karma points :)

10:08 PM


Saturday, April 24, 2010

3 interesting biographies

It’s funny how these things come together. In a short span of time, I read 3 intriguing biographies of people from the Guardian, all of them are to some extent tragic.

In the first and the most tragic, a baker wins 5 million pounds in a lottery, and his life goes downhill from there. He becomes an alcoholic, spends his money on race horses, loses his wife, and dies of a heart attack 5 years later.

He blames it all on the lottery, but I know a thing or 2 about addiction. You can pinpoint the time when you got addicted to something, you only need a taste of a certain something to activate the self-destructive circuits that are there in your DNA. You only need to experience it once, then you like it, you do it a few more times, and then you’re an addict. The baker’s destiny was to become an alcoholic, and he was just lucky that he was past 50 by the time he started off on alcohol. (In case you’re wondering what my addiction is, I’m not going to tell you.) Whereas his downfall was due to the lottery, I think the causation is indirect.

The second story involves a high flying political career brought down to earth. John Edwards was a philanderer just like Bill Clinton. However, in Bill Clinton’s case, he was lucky enough that both his wife and the public were willing to accept him as a political leader and close 1 eye about his affairs. John Edwards, in contrast, had always portrayed himself as a decent family man, and neither his wife nor the public would have expected that he had affairs. I had already known, from the synopsis of “Game Change”, one of the most interesting books about that most interesting of presidential campaigns, that John Edwards’ campaign faded away because he was having an affair. Not the Bill Clinton one-night-stand kind of affair, but a long drawn out affair.

The third story is not really a tragedy, but a story of hope. (Although a lot of it is tragic.) A former editor of the Sun (that’s the UK version of the New Paper, the national trashy tabloid) comes out and admits that he’s an alcoholic. Because of the way that the UK is being run, this means that he is one of the most powerful men in the UK, and without the public responsibility and accountability to go with it. Why? Because once you don’t like somebody, you can publish a not nice story about that guy, and you could finish off his career at a stroke of a pen. I’m not even sure that the Prime Minister of the UK has that power. (Rupert Murdoch is widely regarded as a big asshole because he turned The Sun into an organisation who does this sort of thing.)

That is also the reason why he managed to keep his alcoholism under wraps: because he was always capable of taking revenge on editors of other newspapers if they tried anything funny.

But I found most remarkable about his story is that he managed to change the political orientation of the Sun. Once he found out that his real parents were leftist activists, he decided to make the viewpoint of the Sun more liberal. Eventually, he managed to quit drinking before his wife died of cancer, and be at her side.

In a perverse way, therefore, I find that his story is uplifting. In spite of his alcoholism, he was able to reach the top of his career. In spite of his working for the Sun, he managed to do something good for gay rights. At the end of the day, he managed to overcome his alcoholism.

And that is the paradox, I think, of a lot of people who manage to rise to great heights. They do it in spite of a weakness. It’s even possible to say, they do it because of that weakness. Like that asthmatic who knows how important it is to win the struggle to breathe, and later on becomes a world swimming champion. Like the man who was born of a humble background, and is blind in 1 eye, but becomes the Prime Minister of Britain (but not for much longer, I think – this is Gordon Brown). Or the street kid who, in spite of having grown up in a brothel, whose health is atrocious, and who has a string of unhappy love affairs, is nevertheless one of the best loved singers of all time in France. (Edith Piaf).

In a way, the third story is the mirror image of the lottery winner, who got a windfall, and it turned out to be the greatest curse in his life.

I don't know much about alcoholism but here's what I know. It's a little strange that something that most of us can consume without that much harm can end up wrecking peoples' lives. I don't know how it happens, but one of the symptoms is delirious tremens, or the "shakes", where if you don't get enough alcohol, your body will seize up and start shaking. You need alcohol to function normally, and of course, this constant drinking is the thing that makes your alcoholism even worse.

Some of you might remember a film more than 10 years ago called "Leaving Las Vegas", which was also the rare times you heard "Nicholas Cage" and "Oscar" being mentioned in the same sentence. It was adapted from a book about a man drinking himself to death, written by a real life alcoholic, who committed suicide 2 weeks after finding out that it was going to be made into a movie.

I'm halfway through it, but it describes the routine of an alcoholic. The trick was to make sure that you had alcohol throughout the day. You had to be very careful to stock up at 2 am when the bars close, because from then, it's 5 hours to 7 am, when the earliest bars which serve alcohol open. Then at 11 am you don't have to confine yourself to the crappy bars that open in the morning, you just hang around any bar you choose. From there it's "hor seh liao" until 2 am.

If you feel disgusted reading that, I did too.

My sis described to me what it was like treating alcoholics. Basically they weren't allowed to give them alcohol. So what do you do when the shakes come on? I suppose she just injected them with something that had alcohol in it. After all, alcohol is unlike many drugs, in that withdrawal syndromes could be fatal. There's probably no such thing as cold turkey when it comes to alcohol. You just have to drink a little bit less every day.



Blogger Nat said...

Where do you come off comparing Sun with the New paper. Sun has great 3rd page articles ;)

3:31 PM

Blogger 7-8 said...

Maybe I should not have made that comparison. In terms of trashiness and sex factor, probably the Shin Min is a better comparison.

10:22 PM


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Darth Vader

There was this guy at work, I had often referred to him as Darth Vader. He was a capable person, good at his job, and is actually fairly high on the hierarchy, but is one of the least well liked people at work. He doesn’t scream at people or anything like that, but you always felt that he kept up his sleeve something hidden, like he had a knife sheathed somewhere that he could always pull out and do you in with if he felt it necessary. It was like he was the dark side. I heard stories told of him, that he would complain to your bosses if he didn’t like your face. That he was capable of underhandedness when he was in the mood. That he took people down very easily.

People could work with him, and he could be reasonable most of the time, but they would be fearful of making mistakes, and in a way he stifled them.

But one day, somebody told me a story at that Darth Vader told at his mother’s funeral. He had a hard life. His mother was a schizophrenic, and he had to deal with it for most of his life. His father refused to divorce her because she loved her, but he had to deal with not having a caring mother, or one that was constantly liable to do crazy things.

Aside from this, it is all conjecture. But who could resist imagining the effect this had on the young Anakin Skywalker? The sullenness, the rage, the hurt. It is so much more difficult to open your heart out to people when you know that something terrible awaits you just around the corner. The terrible feeling of having to keep secrets from people, because there are things you couldn’t confide in just anybody. The sinking feeling of futility, where there is a lot of suffering, and there is no end to all that suffering, because the source of it does not go away.

People have said before, that which does not kill you only makes you stronger. That statement, by the way, is utter rubbish. Because it’s like saying that everything is either good or bad, that everything either moves up, moves down, or stays the same. Duh. But what it does tell you is that adversity is a transformative experience. Some people feel that they triumph over adversity and take away from that experience a newfound confidence to deal with life’s challenges. Others get tossed and turned by the tide, and get callous and hard. The self defence mechanism that come up to deal with the problem becomes a permanent mask. The cynicism turns outwards, and where before it was possible to treat people with compassion, suddenly life becomes a process by which the strong crush the weak, and the only purpose in life is to avoid defeat.

Something bad happens to you, then you end up saying, “life is unfair”. That is the first step on the slippery slope, because it quickly leads to: “life is unfair, so fuck everybody”. Then later on it becomes: “boy, it’s fun to fuck everybody”. (I use “fuck” here in the sense of cause harm to, rather than have sex with.) Then you put on glasses. Everything looks different when you have them on. Nobody has good intentions. Or they may just be good today and turn around and screw you tomorrow. Or I could want to be good, and everybody could want to be good, but it’s just so much easier to continue our old I fuck you you fuck me relationship.

Why am I telling you all this, other than to get into big trouble with my bosses at work? Because I recognise that there is a (hopefully mild) version of this darkness in my own very heart. The times when I treat people more coldly than I should. The times when I hold people at 1 arm’s length. The times when I just lead people on a wild goose chase so that I don’t have to tell ppl too much. (OK, there are good reasons for being discreet, like other people don’t really want to know, other people don’t have much in common with you, other people won’t understand, etc.)

To be fair to him, I have heard a lot of stories about him in the past. But not in the last few years. It could have been that he's toned down, it could have been that he's risen to a position that he's finally happy with. In any case, it could have been that he's changed.

Anyway at my workplace, there was an initiative to make people behave more positively towards each other, and some of us were startled when we went for a course, and who else should deliver the opening address than Darth Vader? I suppose people were also surprised that Richard Nixon, a nominally conservative president, should have been the one who reached out to Communist China. But if even a conservative like Nixon thinks that US should not have a cold war with China, then it must be true. Similarly I think that even if Darth Vader thinks that it's important to be careful about personal relationships, you have to sit up and listen.



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Emotional avoidance

I think I have to face up to it – I am a cold person. It’s only when you admit that you have a problem, then you are on the first step to solving that problem. The problems exist because you are not aware of it. People have characteristics, their brain is wired to ask some questions more prominently and others less so. So something like “what is the other guy like, what’s he thinking?” is something that unfortunately doesn’t rank very high on my list.

There was this chick I had a short internet fling with some years back. And this wasn’t even like codfish because I had never met her in real life. At the end, after saying goodbye, she said, “you’re a little cold, you know.” At that time, I thought it was just some lame excuse, until it occurred to me: I probably did come across to people like that. But was it that I was really cold, or did I just seem like that?

Then there was a friend Ghost. After 1 drunken tirade at Sniper (the same one which earned me the moniker “The Man”), he also proposed a nickname for me: ice. I thought it was funny at that time but have come to realise that it has some meaning.

When I think back upon the times I played football, I was never good at it. My preferred position was usually central defence. Partly because you didn’t need a lot of skill, partly because I was big. My strength was that I didn’t panic easily. My weakness was that I was too passive. Both are the sides of the same coin. I was the iceman.

When I spent 4 years in a cold and dark place, I paradoxically told myself that I loved winter, in spite of having grown up in a tropical country. It suited me because inside I was a little frosty.

When I helped my sister move out of her North Carolina place, there was a dog who was scared of lightning. During a thunderstorm, it would come and look for me. I bitchily called it an "emotionally needy canine" and while my sister laughed at that, I think inside she must have been thinking, "this guy needs to open his heart".

It’s true, that I make a lot of crazy jokes, but they help to counterbalance the coldness. I try to do the right thing, but when that happens, it’s because reason is guiding me, rather than because I know by instinct what the right thing is. I have to think about whether people are happy or sad, I have to find reasons. I have to be mindful and watchful.

There has always been one constant in my life: I have had very little need for human contact. I have only ever felt truly alone on 2 occasions. One of them was when I was hanging out with a clique and I knew that nobody in that clique really liked me. But that was just a while. The other occasion was college. It was an extreme situation: being in a foreign country, I knew a few people, and I was alone most of the time. The winters were long and cold. But I was good at keeping myself occupied with things, trivial things and such – I probably suffered much less from this than most people in my situation would have done. Even when I was a kid, I remember that I was emotionally avoidant. It definitely wasn’t only that my mother was pushing me away emotionally, I was also doing the same to her.

I was infamous at family gatherings, as a kid, for being the one who refused to kiss ppl goodbye. On one hand, it’s true that kids should not have to be subject to that bullshit. On the other hand it could not have been very endearing to the aunts that I would kiss them goodbye and wipe my lips afterwards. I was not Marcel Proust. I wasn’t born to thrive on human contact. My sister used to kiss me in order to irritate me. It worked. I would then make up stories about how her saliva was the most vile poison known to mankind (believable because she’s a scorpio).

I have never excelled in inter-personal relationships. There are plenty of people out there who have much better relations with their parents than I had with mine. I don’t think my parents are bad people by the way. Even my mother who I consider to be a flawed person, has her strengths. But it could be true, as my sister once complained, that there is no love in the family. It’s easy to blame the parents for that but I think everybody (including myself) shares some responsibility.

It’s too easy to blame your parents for teaching you the bad things. But this is from a book I read about relationships by Judith Rich Harris. What happens is that both the parents and the children have the genes that make them difficult to get along with. Then the parents and the children don’t get along, the parents aren’t very nurturing, partly because they are not inclined to be nurturing, and partly because the children are assholes. In this way, it is everybody’s fault.

In brief, in many respects we are the typical asian family.

Now that I have badmouthed my family, it’s time to give them some credit. My family, especially my father’s side, have gone through really tough times. My mother’s side also has a few strong characters. Surely I’m not alone in this: it’s an Asian thing. And the Asian way? Stoicism. We talk about fortitude, we talk about stamina, and we talk about ren3. That infamous word, which when written in Chinese is a knife blade on top of a heart - endure. And it is a very double edged concept, because while it is very useful for fortifying yourself against shit, it also has the effect of inviting people to give you even more shit. You had a great leader like Mao, he gave China the greatest famine of the 20th century, as well as the cultural revolution, and you still think he’s a great guy. That would make me think that Chinese people are the greatest fools on earth if not for the fact that recently North Koreans have proven themselves to be more worthy of that title.

My problems have been different at different times. When I was younger and more clueless, I was blithely unaware of stuff that was going on all around me. When I was older, as a teenager, I got too wrapped up in my troubles that I was hardly aware that it would have been easier telling people about it... well actually a little hard because normally your family would be the first people you turn to for help. Sometimes my parents were there for me (especially if those are things they are interested in, like education, or sending me to the hospital when I break my bones). But I have never sought help from them for emotional problems for various reasons, one of which is that they themselves were a big source of those emotional problems. Again – some fairness. I don’t tell them my problems. And they have criticised me for not telling them my problems. But then again they haven’t been very good listeners either.

Now that I’m an adult it’s a different story. There’s this scene in Zhang Yimou’s “Hero”, where the assassin is granted an audience with the emperor he was sent to kill. The emperor, well this was the Qin emperor and obviously no fool. He asked the assassin, are you here to kill me? The assassin said, “what makes you think so?” and the emperor pointed to a grid of candles between them. “There is evil qi emanating from you. You see? You have even managed to deflect all the candle flames.” Well, not that I want to kill people, but there is evil qi flowing out of me a little too often.

Seen in this context, I would say that my brief, online relationship with codfish was one of the strangest, most atypical episodes of my life. It was almost as though, in 1 brief year I more or less compensated for the emotional barrenness of the rest of my life.

But come to think of it, I don’t think it was hardly a coincidence that this took place when I was in college, at the one time when I was the most deprived of human contact – and yet when you are among Americans, you see a whole range of human contact you wouldn’t normally see among Asians. (To put it in a nice way). And she was an online entity to me. Your brain fills in the things that you cannot see, and it probably generated the image of a perfect girlfriend (until she started to mess up). When you have a real girlfriend, I’m sure you will find 1001 annoying things about her.

When was the last time I did something for love? To be frank, a very very long time ago. I have to be a nicer person. Both for my own sake and for the sake of those poor ppl who have to occasionally put up with me. That will require some change. And I’m wondering where it will come from.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Caped Crusaders

This is so cool. Guess who I saw the other day? The nice guy who wrote this letter to me. But I didn't say hi because he probably didn't know me, and even if he did, I don't want him to know that in spite of all the effort he took in writing that letter to me, I have just decided not to go ahead writing.

Since there is nothing much to write about I will indulge in another bout of nostalgia. The other day, I was in a bookshop and I saw this famous Singaporean playwright. He was a buddy of my old form teacher who was a director in a theatre group of which he was the playwright. That reminded me of my favourite play (among those I wrote) – “Caped Crusaders”.

This happened one day when I was half as old as I am right now. I was submitting an entry for a playwriting competition, and the winners would be staged as school plays. I thought that I was going to put an entry in, but for the longest time I couldn’t think about what to write. Suddenly, 2 weeks before the deadline, inspiration struck. I was a serial procrastinator, as you guys know. I only started writing the thing 2 days before hand and I had to plead for an extension of 1 day while I wrote the thing through the night even as I attended school during the day. After 2 hectic nights, I finished it. I knew what the punchline was going to be, and I wrote the easy parts (ie the climax of the story) first. The more difficult parts, which dealt with the set up and the character development, I just had to tikam it. Towards the end, it became more and more forced. I just had to will myself towards the finish line, like I did in my marathon 10+ years later.

I dashed to school on a Saturday morning, and dumped it into the teacher’s mailbox. (Anyway, you might know that I’m typing this at the same desk which used to house that computer that I typed the play on. So some things don’t change very much.)

I don’t think I will put the play online. Some people might recognize the title of the play and my identity will be outed. Unlikely but you never know. And there is no need to: there is precisely 1 aspect of the play that I was proud of, and that was the plot. And it was after writing this play that I told myself, fundamentally, the most important aspect will always be plot. If you have a good plot, everything will take care of itself. So here is the plot:

A few boys live in a kampong. One day, a developer comes and tells them that he will tear down their kampong and build a condo over it. They decide to stage a fightback. They conduct a series of childish pranks on the developer, but at the same time, they have a friend who’s a journalist, and the newspaper coverage turns their fight against the developer into a cause celebre, and a media sensation. They become known as superheroes. A Tiananmen style face-off develops, and many people rally to their cause. The kampong leader starts to let fame and fortune go to his head. They stage a faux hunger strike, but allows the kids to nibble a few titbits here and there. All in the name of more media coverage. Impatient to get the project going, the developers send in their bulldozers. Worried that the developers will uncover their stash of canned food, some of the kampong kids throw themselves in front of the bulldozer, and get run over and killed by accident. It is a sad ending and the main leaders of the kampong fall out over the incident.

It’s a good plot. In fact, I think that it’s one of the best stories I’ve ever told. I got the initial idea looking at a spiral staircase in my school. Then that spiral staircase became a treehouse, and it became a hangout place for a few kids. When I conceived this idea, it was very similar to the “Bridge to Terabithia”, which I watched a few years ago, and saw the similarity to what I was driving at in that play. Basically the first strand of the plot I had was: paradise lost.

For me, it was about innocence lost. I was growing into an adult, but still very unwilling to let go of my childhood. I probably was quite resentful about not having a gang to hang out with when I was a kid and wrote this to compensate for it. Yes, it was one of those classic deprived childhood stories.

But there are more dimensions to this dichotomy. It’s not only that adulthood encroaches and you’re willing against it, you’re yearning to fight back. It’s also a more innocent, rustic kampong existence that’s being lost to the more sophisticated, modern lifestyle represented by the condo development.

The second strand of the plot was similar to Ziggy Stardust, an invention of David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust was a character, and he started a band. Became very popular, and a darling of the media. Until the fame got to his head, and he imploded, the media rounded on him and destroyed him. He got destroyed by his excesses. This was the ultimate hubris-nemesis thing in Greek plays.

The third strand of the plot was the story of Tiananmen square, the heroism / martyrdom of the young people who were ultimately no match for the PLA. Obviously my first instinct is to be on the side of the students. This was a David vs Goliath struggle. The bulldozer running people down was – you know how this relates to Tiananmen, I don’t have to tell you.

The fourth strand of the plot was Chee Soon Juan. He staged a hunger strike in the early 90s, in case anybody remembers. I was thinking to myself, what’s this for? I don’t understand. It was martyrdom. It was dying for nothing. I remember a chance remark by my grandmother: “maybe he’s hiding all the food somewhere and cheating”. We wouldn’t know. But we didn’t have a good impression of Chee Soon Juan.

In the end, the killing of the kampong kids reflected my ambivalence about the whole thing. It was a bit like saying, “come on, who are we trying to kid? This is not a fairy tale, things that were going to happen were always going to happen.” And I didn’t want to seem overly critical of the government, and that’s why I made the kampong leader to be an anti-hero in the end.

The killing of an innocent child in the end was also a feature of “Bridge to Terabithia”. Was it justified? As a form of moral justice, you could say that the kampong leader was punished because he overreached himself. But that was in spite of his heroism in leading the kampong resistance?

As a form of poetic justice, you could say that the death of the child resonated with the death of the kampong. It compounded the tragedy and it was a clear message that the kampong could not be saved in any case. Going back to my equating the kampong with the innocence of childhood, having somebody die is something that irretrievably cuts you off from the past. And in a tragedy, if something is presented to you as being a thing of beauty, it will probably die soon. Some of the more perceptive viewers of the play would have seen it coming.

So when I thought of the plot, I was excited, because basically some of my favourite stories were in there. Some of my favourite themes were in there. Best of all was the surprise ending: at the beginning, I set the audience expectations that this was going to be a comedy, a kind of a farce. Then I put in the part about them being a David vs Goliath struggle, and made them succeed, improbably, against the odds. Before I punched them in the stomach with the tragedy at the end. Yes, you have to manipulate your audience’s emotions a little. I may have been young, but I was already cynical enough to realise that. But in another way that play reflects my approach to life: make everything look like a comedy at first, before you reveal your true intentions.

My play was selected to get performed as a school play. Victory was sweet for me, but I half expected to win. I thought, in any case I will attend this performance. Either my play will be performed I have to attend it, or there will be 3 plays that are better than that, in which case I definitely want to see what the fuss is all about.

Victory was sweet because my parents were complaining about why I was spending all this time on an ECA when I could have studied for my exams. I’ll tell you: I knew very well that I would rather have had this play written than to get 1 more A1 for my exams. I was very clear about that. Another bone I had to pick was with my English teacher who was a real prickly character, and who told me that I was a “Maths genius”. I wanted to show her that I was a genius, period.

One of the judges was one of the more prominent local playwrights, and he stayed on as a consultant for the drama production. (In fact what prompted this blog entry was that I saw him one day walking through a bookstore. Not that I would have said hi, he wouldn't have recognised me.) My cast and crew were, unfortunately, not happy with the play at all. They couldn’t see it from my point of view. I thought they sympathised more with the condo developers. But later on I felt that there was probably a more cynical reason: my play was a little anti-government. People were probably thinking that maybe their careers would be evaporating before their eyes. There was definitely a conflict with their values. I wrote to the consultant for help, and to my surprise he wrote me a long letter.

Now that I think about it, I can guess why he wrote that letter. I had attended the Creative Arts Program, which was an outreach program run by the arts community, you had some people who were interested in various forms of art, and they would attend talks, and be in some environment which immersed them in the performing arts. At the end, some of them would be assigned a mentor, and they would hopefully get a leg up to develop their talents. Well I attended that program didn’t get assigned a mentor and maybe they realised their mistake the second time around. I was a little sore about that but truthfully the stuff I submitted to them for consideration was really not very up to scratch. That must have been the reason, rather than that the play was something special, as I had initially assumed.

Writing that play was – let’s be a little corny – it was my defining moment. It typified a few things I wanted.
1. It was one of the rare occasions that I got something done through will and persistence. (But frankly, I wish that I had been a bit more persistent, because I never got around to polishing up that play to be much better than its original form.)
2. I defied my parents and I won. Well I didn’t exactly become a top student for my “O” levels but I ended up getting into the school of my choice, which is really what counts. So in a way their fears that it would affect my studies proved unfounded.
3. It was a nice “up yours” to my English teacher. Well writing a play is like talking, and being able to analyse a play with essays is like listening. I probably am a better talker than a listener.
4. It started my playwriting career, and probably achieved one of my life goals. I was sneaky about it to keep it quiet until it was my time to step onto the big stage. (But I was too sneaky about it. By the time the play was staged – and it was staged by my juniors – my cohort had already left the school. Therefore not many people knew about my play.)

I suppose a lot of it is a reflection of the person that I am.



Football Betting Season 2 Week 13

On Saturday I didn’t see anything worth punting on. On Sunday I considered punting on 2 matches – Blackburn vs Man U, and Tottenham vs Portsmouth. Blackburn vs Man U - I thought that Man U had to win this match if they wanted to continue to be in the hunt for the Premier League. But then I remembered how Blackburn had sabotaged me by drawing with Chelsea a few weeks ago. So I decided not to punt. Good for me, the match was a goalless draw, with Man U showing how badly they missed Wayne Rooney, and how inadequate a replacement Berbatov is.

The other decision I made, to punt on Tottenham vs Portsmouth is something I had cause to regret. On paper, it seemed like a sure win situation. Tottenham was chasing 4th place. Portsmouth were already relegated. They were in administration, the first team to enter administration while still in the Premier League. But I should have taken a few other factors into consideration.

First, Portsmouth have a lot of players on pay as you play. That means that a lot of their best players were not available for the Premier League (which is why they did so badly in EPL). But the club evidently decided that the players could take a shot at the FA cup, which is why they did so well in the FA cup. This also means that a lot of their best players are still fresh, as opposed to other players in Tottenham who had to give their all week in week out.

Second, since Portsmouth are down, a lot of their players are looking to leave the club. They obviously can up their game in this match, since a lot of people will be watching. I don’t know whether they still have their bonuses for winning the FA cup.
The fact that they managed to beat Birmingham city in the last round (and Birmingham have been the best side this season outside those competing for the top 4 places) should have been a warning for me.

Well, incredibly, they will meet Chelsea in the final. I don’t remember a team being relegated and reaching the FA Cup final since Middlesborough played against Chelsea in the 90s. (In fact Middlesborough reached the finals of both domestic cups, and lost both. Chelsea won the FA cup.)

Portsmouth – a real sad story. There was an article the other day when David James, their keeper and one of their star players, said that winning the FA Cup was the beginning of the end for Portsmouth. The players were promised bonuses for winning the FA Cup in 2008, and paying out that bonus was something that effectively bankrupted the club. The managers thought that it wasn’t going to happen.

Indeed, looking at the stats in the 2008 FA Cup, it was a topsy-turvy year. An incredible year for the FA Cup where a lot of sides were dumped out by teams from lower divisions. Portsmouth were very lucky to have won that FA Cup, because they only ever had to play 1 other team from the Premier League. (OK, that team was Man U in the quarter finals.) From then on, in the semis and the finals, they only had to beat WBA and Cardiff, both in the lower divisions. Which means that Man U, if they had managed to beat Portsmouth in that match, could conceivably have won the treble again that year and equalled the amazing 1999 season.

This year, though, it was remarkable. They beat Sunderland, Birmingham and now Tottenham in the FA Cup. Not bad for a team in relegation form. So since Chelsea is going to play in the Champion’s League, does that mean that Portsmouth gets to play in the Europa League next year? Not bad for a bankrupt team in a lower division.
Well Man U have screwed up, and it’s up for Arsenal and Chelsea to capitalise.



Saturday, April 10, 2010

(500) Days of Summer

Just watched (500) Days of Summer. I hadn't dropped by the company clubhouse's VCD collection for a long time and when I did I was amused to find that there were only 3 VCDs that I really wanted to watch. I suppose they haven't been making a lot of acquisitions lately.

A real boon for VCDs would be if all of them came with subtitles. The picture quality is so so only but OK. The worst is the muffled sound and you can't really hear the dialogue, so you sorda have to guess what's going on. Well luckily this one has subtitles! Yay!

Anyway (500) Days of Summer is a great movie. No, actually it is merely an excellent one, but what makes it special is that it really reminded me of my own experiences. Seasoned readers of my blog should know who I'm talking about (and in case it's not absolutely clear, no, it's not about Teapot).

The premise of the plot is simple. Boy loves girl, girl doesn't really love boy, they part. They tell you the ending in the beginning so you already know that. Even the title tells you that they broke up in the end. So it's not the outcome, but the process, which is the point of the tale.

If you want to watch it, go ahead. It's good. The leads are likeable (this is very important in a romantic comedy. Zooey Deschanel is gorgeous, even though she's a little distant and cold as well. The guy, can't remember his name, has that constant tortured look on his face that you see on Bryan Robson every time he's reminded that he'll never be as good a manager as he was a player. What follows are spoilers.

All this is familiar: the guy falls for her, then denies that he's in love with her. All the same he's a pain in the ass to his friends who have to deal with some of his emotional baggage. The guys warn him about her. Is she attractive? Yes she is. The balance of power in the relationship is tilted towards her? Yes. Would they have made great friends, if you forget the love bit? Probably. The way they play acted as real lovers was familiar. Even the arguments they had - whether or not he could be called a "boyfriend" - are familiar. Even "Let's not put labels on anything" sounds very very familiar. Even the singing of Clash's "Train in Vain", which was something I listened to quite a few times when she left, is familiar.

There were a lot of good reviews for this movie, and evidently this was one that touched many hearts. There was even a centre spread on my paper that complained that this movie was overlooked by the Oscars. That's a bit of an exaggeration but it's true that romantic comedies get short shrift at the Oscars. There is a lot of this movie that is smart and funny and true, and when you take away that pretty indie-art flourishes and stylish touches, it still has a real heart underneath. The few that dissented complained that the movie does not say anything that's already been said before. While this might be true, all romantic comedies are done to death. Together with the action movie, this is one genre that has been over-saturated. Then again, to paraphrase Tolstoy, "All happy relationships are happy in the same way, but all unhappy relationships are unhappy in their own unique way." This was the justification for his writing yet another book about families. But it's a valid one.

The twist in the movie is how some of the nuances have changed. It was said at the beginning that the guy believed in a one true love, whereas the girl didn't. At the end, we'll see, the truth is somewhat different. Some people have criticised the movie for focusing exclusively on the guy's point of view, but as somebody's noted, Zooey's is a static character, somebody who doesn't change or grow throughout the movie. If there is any mystery to her, it's only because the guy is so smitten with her that he can't see clearly. Otherwise, by the end of the story, we can piece together what she's like.

From the guy's point of view, she was stringing him along all this time. She was using him for her ego, sending him mixed signals, alternating between pushing him away and pulling him back with some physical affection.

From the girl's perspective, it's simple: she likes him a lot, but mostly as a friend. As with all my best friends, I don't want him to leave, but I don't want him to be my boyfriend either. I'll wait for him to realise his mistakes. I don't have a problem with that, but she should not have been intimate with him. Maybe she wanted to convince herself that they could be lovers, since he believed in that so badly. Is she a cold robot, as he accused her of being? An equally valid argument could blame him for being too stubborn to read all the signals. She was presented as being somebody who loves her hair, but also loves how she could cut it off. Beautiful women get to pick and choose and they can seem awfully cold if and when they exercise this privilege.

So the twist is: even though she professes not to believe in true love, she's the one that gets married in the end. They even give a hint of this happening when they both attend a wedding and she catches the bride's bouquet. (In angmoh culture the person who catches the bouquet is the next to get married.) She believed in true love after all. She met THE ONE not long after she left the guy. It wasn't that she didn't believe in love: he was just not the right one for her. It was the central issue underlying everything that took place in the movie, and yet it had been glossed over time and again. Either way, he should have seen the light, and let her go.

A few scenes showed them dating ogether, and there were already some subtle hints that they weren't getting along: watch how many times he makes fun of her for choosing Ringo Starr as her favourite Beatle. Watch how he seems to be having a great time, and is seemingly nonchalent to the fact that she's not feeling the same way. And if women end up saying cruel things in the end, sometimes it's the only way the guy's going to take the hint and leave.

Therein lies one great disadvantage of being a chiobu. You attract the wrong company, the guys who think with their dicks. He really really enjoys your company, but he's also not thinking hard enough about whether you're compatible.

The events are presented non-linearly, and I was glad I was watching this on VCD, because I was then able to piece together the general gist of it all: the first hundred days were total bliss. 200-300 were when all the cracks started appearing. They met again between 400-500, although she neglected to tell him that she was already seeing somebody else and later got engaged. And it was at this, most bitter period that he had to put his life back together.

500 days is roughly 1.5 years, also approximately the span of my whole involvement with the girl in my version. But for me the first 100-200 days had quite a bit of chasing. But similarly, it was not until day 500 that I managed to pull myself together.

Towards the end, the show made for uncomfortable watching. The guy was practically a wreck. It probably wasn't so bad for me but it was still uncomfortable. Unfortunately or fortunately I was distracted by the travails of living in a foreign country. It took a long long time for the guy to recognise that he should let it go and cut loose. For me, I knew almost right from the start that this was going to be a short term relationship - I was only in it for experience points. But I got sucked in and carried away, and gradually believe that there could be a happy ending. This was not to be so and I had to revert to my original beliefs, although by that time, it was harder than I had imagined to let go.

Then there is the very obvious difference that our relationship was carried out in cyberspace rather than in real life. But the close reading of her words, the scanning of them, reading between the lines for anything hopeful - that transcends whether this is cyberspace or not.

It was a happy ending for the girl in the movie, but not in my case. In my case, the girl got married, but it wasn't a happy ending. And the girl in my case, intelligent though she is, never had as level a head as Zooey's character.

I thought about what it meant for him to be a greeting card writer. Was he supposed to be an expert at manufacturing illusions? Are greeting cards necessarily insincere? Or was he in love with a shiny cold surface, the same surface you see on a greeting card? Was their love meant to be as beautiful and colourful and ultimately disposable as a greeting card? Why does he switch back to architecture? Is this a sign that his next love will be more meaningful and lasting? LA is not the first place you would think of for great architecture, but this movie has done a great job showing the artier side of the city, as opposed to our stereotypical notions of it as a vast cultural wasteland.

He finds some chick in an interview, vying for his position. And he feels a spark, thinks that something could happen in a place like this. The girl's name is Autumn. Heh heh.

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Blogger Nat said...

Incidentally, Zooey is also singing. Not a great voice, but she seems like a talented chick. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_&_Him

11:32 PM

Blogger 7-8 said...

Yeh, as a regular reader of Pitchfork.com, I have heard of She and Him. Musicians have become actors with more success (David Bowie, Tom Waits, Lyle Lovett, Elvis Presley, Mariah Carey, Nico) than the other way around.

But there are people like Milla Jovovich and Zooey, so good for them!

3:05 AM

Blogger Nat said...

Nilla Johovic is a bad singer and an even worse actor. Well she is hot and that helps a lot :D

9:30 AM

Blogger 7-8 said...

I think she made a pretty decent album. Even when you discount the fantastic front (not hers but still...).

OK, maybe her acting's not fantastic.

I also think about people like Keanu Reeves and Johnny Depp. You may not know that they also made music, and I have not cited them earlier to spare them embarrassment.

Another singer, Bjork, crossed over into acting, did such a great job that she won Best Actress at Cannes. Unfortunately, she met an asshole director and decided to end her acting career. This is partially why I don't like Lars Von Trier.

12:51 PM


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Football Betting Season 2 Weeks 12

Usually I would write about the times when I did not put down a bet, and congratulate myself on my prescience because a lot of predictions I made would have been wrong. This time, though, I have to talk about how I passed up some opportunities to make money.

Take last week’s matches for example. I would have supposed that Man U would have beaten Bolton, but I’m not sure. I would have supposed that Tottenham were better than Portsmouth, but I’m not sure. I would have taken Man City to beat Wigan, but I’m not sure.

Then there were matches I wasn’t sure about. Liverpool vs Sunderland, Chelsea vs Aston Villa, Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid, Mallorca vs Barcelona and Arsenal vs Birmingham. Except for the last one, the stronger team on paper won. And the last one was the one I had the most doubts about. So I could have ended up with a lot of money if I had bet on all these matches, and picked the stronger team to win. Except that I wasn’t sure about Chelsea, and had probably overestimated Aston Villa. Chelsea are very inconsistent but they are top of the table – says a lot about what the league is like this season, really. Well – more accurate to say that Chelsea’s form comes in spurts, with bad streaks alternating with streaks where they are just banging them in for fun.

This week, though, I reverted to the ultra cautious approach and only bet on Man City to beat Burnley. The match isn’t over as we speak, but I should be safe: Man City are up 0-4 after 20 minutes. It would be one of biggest upsets of all time if Man City fail to win this match. I might bet on Real Madrid to win Racing Santander, and why not, since they no longer have the Champion’s League to distract them from La Liga.

This week provides some evidence that you’re never completely sure that matches will go according to the form book. Aston Villa, so abject against Chelsea last week, managed to beat Bolton 0-1. Bolton were supposed to be more improved under Owen Coyle but they seem to be losing a lot of matches recently. Sunderland were thrashed by Liverpool but they broke Tottenham’s winning streak by beating them 3-1. Portsmouth were supposed to be relegated by now, but they held Blackburn 0-0. This is the same Blackburn which held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw a few weeks ago and made me lose $20. And Arsenal had to play 5 minutes of injury time before beating Wolves? No wonder they don’t exactly inspire confidence.

About the outcome of the Premier League, at the moment Chelsea are ahead. People used to say that Arsenal had the easiest run-in, but that’s no longer true. Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal no longer have to face each other, and each of them has to face exactly 2 of the 4th place contenders – (Liverpool, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Man City). Man U has lost Rooney. Arsenal has lost Fabregas, Gallas, Van Persie and Arshavin. The good news is that Barcelona will probably knock them out of the champion’s league and they can concentrate on the EPL. Chelsea should win the EPL if they don’t cock up between now and the end (and you know, that is a very big if). Man U can win it if Berbatov can perform (but he can’t). So it will be very close between the 3, although Arsenal is the least likely of the 3 to win it.

You know that the EPL is an absurd thing when one of the most compelling things is who will end up 4th. The favourites are Tottenham and Man City, but both of them have difficult run-ins. Which means that Aston Villa and Liverpool are still in it, although both of them have relatively lousy form at the moment.

Among the relegation candidates, it looks straightforward. Portsmouth and Burnley will be relegated. The last relegation place will most likely go to either West Ham or Hull, but it’s possible that Wigan and Bolton could make a “late charge” for the championship. It’s very amusing that West Ham is threatening to sue Fulham for not fielding their best 11 against Hull, because they had to pay 30 million pounds to Sheffield United a few years ago for illegally playing Carlos Tevez, who did more than any other West Ham player to avoid relegation.

There's one more thing that puzzles me about the EPL, and that is how a lot of Singaporeans use "we" to talk about their favourite team. To be fair, a lot of EPL club fans all over the world also talk about "we" too. If you're a Scouser and you go to the Kop every weekend, if you're the owner of a season pass, you can say, "we". But if you're just watching something on TV, then what gives? You wouldn't identify so closely with Chen Liping on your channel 8 serials, you're not even sure, when you watch Home United (oh the irony of that name) and you see a Brazilian pass the ball to a Camaroonian, whether they are "we". (But let's be fair to Home United - I just looked at their squad and it seems like they have comparatively few Singaporeans.)

I was at a gathering of a few classmates, and I wasn't a football fan when I was in school, so this was the time for me to find out for once who was with who. Well at least people follow the English tradition of having your own "club" and being a fan for life. There was an Everton fan, a Tottenham fan, a Man U fan and a Liverpool fan. You have to give them credit to sticking to English football after 1985 when English teams were no longer the best in Europe. But still, "we?" If you were talking about Fandi Ahmad and company, yes you could say "we". If you talked about the 90s when it seemed that Malaysia was going to catch up with Singapore, when people still went to Johor without the fear of getting beaten up, you could see Singapore vs (some State team) as a natural thing, you could have the wonderful Malaysia Cup where every match was a derby match.

In England, locality is very important. Especially if you were one of two teams that made up the same city (Manchester derby, Northeast derby, Merseyside derby, Birmingham derby, East Lancashire ie Blackburn- Burnley derby) you identified yourself by which tribe you belonged to. How do tribe affiliations measure up when it's a bunch of youngsters huddling in a pub thousands of miles away, or some old men pencilling some boxes onto an optical sheet, and then bringing those chits to a coffeeshop with a cable subscription?

I think there's so much talk about football - you don't really want people to talk too much about politics in Singapore, neither do you want them to be talking about religion, unless in a church or a mosque. You don't want them nosing around and talking about the economy, so what do they talk about? Ever noticed that they're a lot of people talking about football in Singapore, Thailand, Dubai - relatively prosperous countries which aren't really that democratic?

People talk about football because they want to avoid all these things. Because we were also talking about the integrated resort to these same guys, and one of them mentioned about the first law breaker at the casino. I said, "well they have a jail cell there, isn't it? The same one they used to put Chia Thye Poh in, just dump him there." There was a short, abrupt silence for a 1-2 seconds, and then the conversation continued somewhere else, but it was long enough, and noticeable enough for me to conclude that that wasn't quite something people wanted to comment on.



Friday, April 02, 2010

Teapot part 2

Part 1

I was silent for a while before she asked me, out of the blue, if I was going to participate in some company games. I said no, curious about why she asked me that. A few weeks later, I had some reason to ask her for stuff. Later on, on a whim, I just asked her out. We met, and then had a steamboat dinner. We were originally going to catch a movie after that, but since that movie was “500 Days of Summer”, where the guy gets dumped in the end, I was happy not to watch it. We had our first good talk. But she did ask me a few uncomfortable questions which seemed to hint to me that I might not be what she’s looking for. But it went well, and she even talked about me giving her piano lessons.

We thought about going to the cinema afterwards, but in the end, we just said goodbye. I walked her home. She was in a good mood that night, and was humming to herself on the way home. Because of that I was in a good mood too. However it was a Wednesday, and I had foregone doing something that I normally do on Wednesdays, in order to make it on time for a date with her. I went right back to office to get it done.

After that, I thought about how our lives were drastically different. She was somebody who moved around people the way a fish moves around water. Her life was centred around people, and she just hung around as many people as she possibly could. I, on the other hand, had a few pet projects to do, and I’ll do my life’s work (or at least I’ll try to do it) during my own time. I appreciate the people who pass through my life, but that’s not the main thing. We have very different priorities.

Funny thing was that the piano she had in mind was in her office building, even though it was a secluded part of the office building. I thought it was weird. But it was weird that we had to date, possibly in view of the other people in her office watching. Then again, it must have seemed even more weird to her that 2 people in the same company were going out, and we had to be secretive about it.

I can’t remember much of the exchanges that took place around that time. Later on, we went on another date. This time, we talked about going for a simple movie. It was “Astro Boy”, and I agreed to go, even though I didn’t like the movie. Unfortunately, the day before the date, I stayed up late. First, there was tennis at night, and after that, I was messing around with the main computer that my household shared. To my consternation, it crashed. I stayed up, trying to make it work again, I succeeded, but not before sleeping at 2. The next day, I was yawning throughout the movie, must have seemed really obnoxious to her, especially if it was clear that I didn’t enjoy it. I could tell that things weren’t going well that night.

Of course, the thinking about what to say to her took mental effort, even though I should have been wary: I’m not cloistered around a small area. I live in a relatively large world. I read many books, I’ve seen quite a few things. And same goes for her. And if 2 people who live in such large worlds don’t have anything to say to each other, then what hope is there? That’s the problem with our world today. It’s become so large, that people can just live in their niches and pass through each other like ships in then night. It’s not like the old days where people all had to have common lives, common interests that they may not completely like, even though it gives them something to talk about to each other.

You had to think of her life, and what she valued. She valued her friendships, her relations with her department. I hardly knew them. It was going to be awkward in any case. Ultimately the odds were stacked too heavily against me.

There were a few conversations that stood out. Like how she said that she was always busy. I said, well, OK. Good people are busy. Then she asked me if I thought that I wasn’t a good person. Why the hell would I not be a good person? Was she fobbing me off now? I bored her. That was when I suspected that it was not going to work out.

Impulsively, I told her that I liked her a lot. That was very cold of me. It’s like saying, “you either continue going out with me, or we can end this friendship right now.” It’s my way of slamming the door on her. But in the end my motives were suspect. Why did I go after her when I wasn’t sure I wanted her as a friend? When a girl wants you as a friend, it is a way of allowing herself to not feel so bad about rejecting you. But I didn’t want that. We should just go back to being strangers.

I felt upset for 2 weeks after that but I got over it quickly, as far as I can tell. It’s easy to say that you’re OK, and easy to say that you’ve forgotten her, but these things leave their traces behind, in the form of the attitudes that you take in the future. Maybe you’re not going to be as enthusiastic the next time around. Maybe when you meet the next one you will just want her to suffer a little bit more. Anyway the sting was nowhere as long and as deep as it had been on a certain previous occasion.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m still not sure who I should be going after. Maybe in a way I’ve never been in love, or never got past that drug hit of being in love for the first time, to the more solid footing of a steady relationship. The way I put it to myself after leaving codfish was “it’s just like being a drug addict isn’t it? It’s just needing her all the time, the way you need drugs all the time.” It was just something shameful and degrading.

OK, I called her “teapot” because she was short and stout. But also because she’s hot. I suppose it was somewhat superficial why I went after her. I wasn’t really thinking of her as a girlfriend. But she was approachable, which was probably the main reason why I made an attempt. I didn’t think we were especially compatible. What was attractive was that she seemed so normal, seemed to have a social life. She was possibly the sanest person that I was attracted to (although she’s a little too emotionally involved to be working for my company). There are some ladies who would remark that I'm too nerdy. True enough, but a lot of the times the girls would be not nerdy enough. Where's the geek talk about philosophy, movies, politics? Geeks have standards too.

I don’t see her much after that. But at least I found out if things were going to work out. (They weren’t.)