When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, July 03, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Misquotation is, in fact, the pride and privilege of the learned. A widely- read man never quotes accurately, for the rather obvious reason that he has read too widely." - Hesketh Pearson, Common Misquotations (1934), Introduction


Tasmania Travel Journal, Part 3:

General Comments

In Launceston there was a night tour available to go and see Fairy Penguins (aka Little Penguins). But unlike for the more popular and commercialised Penguin Parade on Phillip Island near Melbourne, non-flash photography was allowed on this one, unlike for the former (for which they're still offering a semi-lame explanation).

In Singapore, my mother's room is like a freezer, but overseas she dresses like she's in the arctic. Go figure.

Aussie coins are wretchedly big and heavy.

Apparently guilingao contains turtle :0

Day 5 - Launceston

In the morning, I felt that there was a buildup of pressure in my alimentary canal. My mother claimed that it was due to over-consumption of carbonated drinks, though past empirical evidence had shown no correlation between the two.

At breakfast, I didn't eat much - perhaps a few grams of scrambled eggs, a few baked beans, a small sausage, a poached egg minus the yolk and a small bowl of cornflakes. On returning to the room, I wanted to spend an hour or so huddling beneath the blankets and feeling sorry for myself, but my parents, not understanding the concepts of fixed and variable costs and the old adage "penny wise, pound foolish", forced me to go on a 3 hour long Launceston city tour because it had "already been paid for". Using similar logic, I suppose I would have had to go even if I had just been discharged from hospital following a car accident.

For the first part of the tour, I didn't feel so bad. We visited the City Park and saw an enclosure with Japanese Macaques.

After a while on the replica tram, though, I started feeling sicker. Listening to the guide drone on with obvious pride about the town's 19th century buildings (including one in which anaesthesia was used for the first time... in Australia), which Launceston had a lot of since they stopped tearing down in 1950, didn't help, since 19th century buildings do not impress me if the only thing they have to recommend them is their age (you need 17th century, or at the very most 18th century buildings to do that).

The tour ended at some pub-restaurant, with a complimentary hot drink. My parents wanted to each lunch there, but by this time I was already so sick that I had lost my appetite. Letting my parents enjoy their complimentary drink and eat their lunch, but not consuming mine (pity, since it had already "been paid for"), I strode out of the restaurant and headed to Cataract Gorge.

Just "15 minutes walk from the centre of the city" (it took me maybe 10), Cataract Gorge was a sight to behold. The chairlift across it was proclaimed as (according to which source you read) either the longest single span (you knew there had to be a qualifier, didn't you?) chairlift in - wait for it - the southern hemisphere (Hah! Fancy that. And as if Zimbabwe and Argentina are much of a competition) or in the world, which apparently has had a 100% safety record since its opening in 1972. At least they weren't as implicitly dishonest as the people who proclaimed the chairlift at Arthur's Seat "Victoria's longest chairlift".

The chairlift cost $7 for a one-way trip and $8.50 for a return ticket, and one of the men operating it told me that there was a trail to return to Launceston from the side of the gorge from which I'd disembark, the "Zig Zag track", which would only take 5 mins longer to walk than the main trail, so I decided to try it, wanting to look at the view and scenery from and at the other side.

I was conned. The damn thing was actually a hiking trail: rocky and uneven, wet and muddy in many places, so steep in many others that I had to climb down rather than walk or step down, with no signposts along its length and with numerous side trails branching from it at various parts. Once again, I felt the characteristic heart pounding in chest, lungs gasping for air, waves of heat emanating from my body feeling that I seem to be getting at least once during each recent holiday.

After I finally emerged from the wilderness, I skipped Penny Royal Gunpowder Mill due to a lack of time to go to the Queen Victoria Museum at Royal Park. I was rather pissed off because my Fodor's 2002 Australia guide had said that admission was free, but when I went there I discovered that since their opening of another premises at Inveresk, they had started charging A$10 in a joint ticket for admission to both places, and I didn't particularly want to see the exhibits at the other place.

Besides seeing Tasmanian Devils, I also wanted to see Thylacines, albeit stuffed ones, and saw 2 I did. The museum also had a bronze age bracelet and spearhead - with no note as to where they had filched them from, a collection of stones (so now I know what such funky rocks as malachite, galena, aragonite and crocoite crystals look like) and the largest collection of snail shells that I had ever seen. Just like the Singapore Science Centre, they also had a sneaky money-raising exhibit, disguised as a scientific demonstration: what you do is drop a coin through a slot, and it will roll around a vortex, accelerating as the distance it travels each cycle lessens, until it reaches the bottom of the vortex, and the diameter of its orbit is almost zero - then it falls through a hole and is collected at the bottom of the apparatus, to be collected by the janitor at the end of the week.

The most exciting thing in the museum, however (besides the Tasmanian Tigers, of course) was the "No Touch Sanitary Unit" made by Initial. Notice how the motor keeps the lid up without you needing to use your hand. Ah, the wonders of modern technology!

Later, I was walking in the shopping district and I saw "scrunchie ponytail holders - also can be used as a bracelet or anklet". Bah. It's evil marketing like this that makes people screwed up.

Day 6 - Cradle Mountain

This day we went to Cradle Mountain National Park, along the way passing through and stopping in Sheffield, a town with many murals.

Thanks to Cradle Mountain being further inland and higher in altitude than Launceston, it enjoyed snowfall from time to time, like the day before we arrived and the day we were there.

I think I hadn't seen snow since Plaak, and its novelty had not worn on me (and still hasn't). With all the luscious, clean snow, it was a pity I had no one to have a snowball fight with (I threw a snowball at my mother but she didn't get the hint and only complained that it was painful).

Day 7 - Launceston

Our coach back to Hobart was scheduled to depart at 3:30pm, so we had about half a day to wander. I wanted to go off somewhere earlier, but my father said that he wanted to go there as well, so we should go together. I waited for him and we left later with my mother, but then they suddenly decided to go off in a completely different direction, wanting to walk through the park and recce the (short and distinct) route to the bus terminal for our afternoon transfer. So once again, I set off on my own, despite the paranoid protests of my mother, who was afraid that "something might happen".

Since I had the joint ticket for admission to the other premises of the Queen Victoria Museum, I decided to use it, even though the exhibits there weren't exactly captivating. There was an art gallery of ghastly modern art, for example. Even one of the better ones wasn't exactly impressive - in "Girl reading" (1955) by Jack Carington Smith, the girl looked more like a boy.

On our arrival back in Hobart, it was already 5:30pm or so, so it was cold and dark, and we didn't want to take any chances with what food outlets were open on Sunday closing before we got our dinner, so I lugged the luggage back to the hotel while my parents went to eat at Fish Frenzy and pack dinner for me. It wasn't quite as nice packed, but somebody had to lug the luggage back to the hotel and check in.

Day 8 - Hobart-Melbourne-Singapore

We flew Jetstar to Melbourne, but this time I didn't miss hearing my boarding sequence number, so I had time to examine how Jetstar didn't have as many characteristics of low cost airlines as I thought it should have:

- it had an inflight magazine
- there were reading lights
- instead of a plastic covering at the headrest, they still used the classic disposable paper cover
- there was a tray table for dining

We had almost 5 hours to wait for our connecting flight from Melbourne to Singapore, so I got to know all the airport shops very well. At one of them, they were selling weird CDs:

- "Mystical Orbits - The music of HILDEGARD von BINGEN and BIRGITTA of SWEDEN with Rumi poems."
- "The Holy Grape CD - BAROQUE & RENAISSANCE WINE DRINKING MUSIC for connoisseurs."
- "Drive to Work - The music of ANTONIO VIVALDI and HAIKU MEDITATIONS for traffic jams."
- "Get fit with JS Bach - Listen to divine music and Follow 11 illustrated exercises."
- A "Slow Down Madly Romantique Kit", including a CD with 18th century music and "ancient fragrances" (rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and sandalwood) to smell when listening to the music

Our flight back to Singapore was on British Airways. BA's "World Traveler Plus" (aka Economy Plus) Class lets you play video games from your seat, but normal Economy doesn't have any. Bah. Also, there are no individual air-conditioning vents for each seat, so we were very hot throughout the flight. However, the adjustable headrests on BA Economy seats are better than the ones on Emirates; on Emirates the headrests can be moved in the same direction that your head would move if you shook it vigorously. However, when you lean on the headrests, they tend to fold back to their original positions, so this is very annoying. On BA seats, however, the headrests can be moved in the same direction that you would nod. Thus, when you lean on them, they are firm and do not collapse.

As with Qantas, I liked BA's censorship policy. It wasn't explicity stated, but I inferred that it was similar to Qantas'. For example, "Something's gotta give" was rated "12A" - "May be unsuitable for children under 12. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult". Its content was not so explicit as to deserve the next highest rating of "15" - "This film may have a fairly adult theme. It may contain some scenes of sex and violence or some bad language".

So children over the age of 12 were treated, on the flight, to a brief shot of Diane Keaton's frontal nudity. I recall that when the same show was screened in Singapore, albeit under a PG rating (which actually means almost the same thing, for I doubt children under 12 watch movies alone), we did not get to see her aged teat, due to Singapore's insensible attitudes regarding non-sexual nudity.

Singaporean censors seem to think that glimpsing a female nipple will suddenly magically corrupt our youth. Somehow, though, exposing the rest of the breast is okay - just make sure to cover that brown bud or you'll lose that PG rating! It's also fine to make explicit references to sexual acts and activity, or even to show people in the act of coitus, as long as no female nipples can be seen. In an ironic way, I guess it is analogous to many Singaporeans' hypocritical Victorian attitudes about prurience - they publicly condemn and revile it, but secretly revel in debauchery in private. Similarly, prostitution is legal here while porn is not (the reverse of the situation in most countries. Interestingly Singapore is probably the only non-Communist, non-Muslim country to ban porn).

I was reminded of the scene in Goodbye Lenin where a West German was walking around the apartment naked. The scene was totally non-erotic: arguably it was just social commentary by the director about the decadence of the West Germans who walked about naked at home in blatant displays of immorality. As was the clip from a porn video of a woman licking whipped cream from her unnaturally huge breasts; it expressed a negative opinion about pornography (or at least that mindless variety) and painted it in a bad light.

Incidentally, I wonder what rating Eyes Wide Shut would get under the current movie rating system. The first impression it probably gave everyone was of being a graphic depiction of various mass orgies disguised as an arthouse film, due to its esteemed director. In reality, content-wise the film is as far from being a porno flick as it is possible to be, especially given the graphic sexual content in most modern media. Not only is it coldly unerotic, greatly disturbing and thus libido-dampening: the film promotes the good old fashioned values of fidelity, trust in your spouse and the futility of participating in mass orgies, even if they are quasi-religious tantric rites. Surely this is what our government, soundly grounded in traditional Asian Values (TM), wishes to promote? Anyhow, rating something R(A) or R21, if you prefer, just makes it more desirable and thus more widely watched - exactly the opposite effect they are presumably aiming for. And as a side effect, it increases piracy, so the movie industry suffers as well.m

Friday, July 02, 2004

Random Playlist Song: Mozart: Requiem - Introitus
This movement in Karajan's 1976 version is much too ponderous for my liking. At many times, the slow and drawn out singing, devoid of energy makes me desire requiem aeternam myself, if only so I won't have to listen to it. So much for branded music.

He Who Must Not Be Named: is it me or are you incredibly pretentious with regards to your music criticism?

Me: I have always maintained that I have very plebian tastes, and my observations and critiques rarely use proper terminology


I have another gmail invite languishing in my account.

To thank all you fans/groupies for your support, I am once again putting it up for grabs.

Get it while it's hot.


Fulsome praise:

"This is a very intelligently written social comentary on life in RJ, life in the army, and life as an ostracised retard. Agagooga is Rafflesian of course. And my evil long lost twin. His lifestory reads like mine, until the instant he put RJ over Hwachong in his JC application. Now you can read how the tragedy unfolded after that here."

Pity the site is static, or I'd contact my (good) long lost twin.


More on Gunther:

"This is the worst song I've ever heard. It's hilarious, I admit, but Gunther looks like a 1970's trucker or something, and the video is like cheesy soft porn, which makes me laugh until my sides hurt. "you touch my tralala"??? Is this for real? I know it's a huge hit in Sweden, and I guess if you're at least a decade behind, this would appeal greatly. Not that anything "up to date" is necessarily any better. :T"

"Gunther rocks my world HE'S SO SEXY!!! I LOVE this song!!! let me touch your tralala Gunther!!!"

"You are the man, the myth, the legend. Rock on!"

"Gunther is the MOST SEXY THING ALIVE! I love this song, even iff it is laughable! And how could you NOT love the Gunther Mullet! It's so 80's hot!! I would totally be this guys lovetoy!"


Maybe he should be my new idol. But I already have 5 idols, 2 of whom are singers, so it would be a bit of a squeeze. Unless I kicked someone out.

"And remember...
The four main things in Günthers life are Champagne, Glamour, Love and Respect!"

Günthernet now has a "Günther lovecontest 8 weeks competition"! 8 lucky winners get to be in the next music video with Günther! Too bad I don't live in Sweden, Norway, the UK or Germany.

"Thats right! I want to surround myself with people who enjoys champagne, desires glamour, drinks champagne and who loves a lot. So, just get that phone and be creative! Dazzle me! Record your vision of me and my way of love, tell my your feelings for the "Günther way"... or me ;) And I´ll take the best and put her/him dancing in my next musicvideo. So you can be famous too! And - of course - help me spread my vision of true love!"

It goes on to say: "If the winner is under 18 approval from parent is necessary, in case of any travels to filming location, a parent must accompany.'

I leave with you the Günther ecard
Quote of the Post: "People who have no weaknesses are terrible; there is no way of taking advantage of them." - Anatole France

Random Playlist Song: King's Singers - What's in a tune?
Yet another of the songs from my old, super-long playlist that I've finally found again, this piece is a medley of popular classical music pieces like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Air from BWV 1068, Brandenburg Concerto 3, Water Music (I like the way they imitate trumpets). Now if only I could find Sourwood Mountain...


In the days of yesteryear, formal letters written for Chinese exams were always addressed to 10 Kay Siang Road (Xiang Lin Lu) and to 5 (?) Kim Hua Road (Jin Hua Lu), the former being the address of the old MOE.

Now that MOE has shifted to Buona Vista, and 10 Kay Siang Road is now Republic Polytechnic, do they still use the same addresses?

My research so far has been inconclusive.


About the best advice I've gotten about growing my hair out is Yiliang's "wear a cap", since that supposedly makes it softer. I'm sure there are many more tips out there!


Another priceless Foxtrot strip. To think that this guy has a physics degree.


Venturing onto Chinese MP3 search engines, I found "八骏赞". Well, three versions actually but only two were what I was familiar with, and one was a 22kbps 22khz WMA file. Unfortunately, I couldn't find "云飞天不动". Damn. And the first version of "远方的客人请你留下来" I found sounds like it was sung by sluts and pimps (thankfully I found a proper one after sifting through many versions hateful to the ear).

The Chinese really like to sing to synthesised music. Maybe they can't afford real orchestras or even pianists. And some of their soloists have this overblown way of blasting notes,.

There was also "这是一个小世界", but I don't think I would have liked that :X


"I've no objection to boy singers as such, quite the contrary in fact since I've gone out of my way to hear the best boy choirs in the world (various English cathedral choirs). No, the problem is these particular boys, compounded by Harnoncourt's direction. To my ears his boys do not sound like choirs of angels (which I believe Bach intended), but rather like the boys from the 'Lord of the Flies'. Their lack of beauty and innocence may be a social artefact, perhaps reflecting Germanic notions of 'masculinity', but more likely it is indicative of the decline of a once great Germanic choral tradition."


Fondly Fahrenheit (On the right wing ruckus about Fahrenheit 9/11):

"If ever a president deserved to be the subject of a vitriolic, one-sided, emotionally manipulative diatribe of a documentary, Bush is it.

[...] But if [the movie] does play a little loose with the facts, omits some key details, implies more than it can prove, and generally takes after Shrub with a cinematic hatchet, I won't be surprised. But I also won't mind.

For years now, Limbaugh, Coulter and their inferior imitations have been passing off their slanted misreadings, unproven allegations and flimsy lies as factual reporting. When caught out on a lie or a smear, they either ignore the evidence, or - like Limbaugh - retreat into the phony defense of arguing that all they're doing is expressing a subjective opinion. 'I'm just in the entertainment business,' Rush likes to say.

Well, now there's someone on the left who knows how to play their game, and play it brilliantly. Moore may be an egomaniac, and a huckster showman in the best (or worst) tradition of P.T. Barnum and Walter Winchell, but man, he's effective. He's learned to play the mainstream media like a Stradivarius.

No wonder the right wingers are scared of Moore - he's even better then they are at using the media as an unwilling amplifier. Which is why all the conservative caterwauling and all disapproving tut tuts from the 'responsible' press have only helped ensure Fahrenheit 9/11 a wider distribution.

In other words, Moore's managed to break the code. He's figured out how to sell an angry radical (or at least semi-radical) message to a mass audience.

That's a major accomplishment. And if the end result isn't exactly my idea of a civilized political discourse (I'll reserve judgement for now) it clearly is a powerful and successful example of fighting fire with fire.

And right now, a little fire may be what the American left needs most."


Shoveling coal for Satan

"Courage is a willingness to face real risks—your neck, or at the very least, your job. The journalist with courage would have threatened to resign rather than repeat George Bush's justifications for invasion before it began. I don't remember anyone resigning last winter... If journalists had courage, they would form unions and refuse to work for any company that made decisions about editorial content based on the bottom line, on profit."

Journalists report, they do not necessarily try to verify everything they say, for if they did they'd die of exhaustion. Reporting George Bush's alleged justifications for invasion is one thing. Parroting them mindlessly is another. And as I recall, even at the time there were people who questioned his justifications.

News is not and was never meant to be truth.


Is nature ever evil? Religion, science and value (edited by Willem B. Drees)

This collection of essays, billed in its blurb, as marking "a fascinating contemporary return to a persistent cultural debate" is largely clunky and flummoxing (at least to laymen and those who aren't students of philosophy or theodicy).

You can't totally fault the book, for it is really a collection of papers written for a conference, "Is Nature ever Evil, Wrong, or Ugly? Neutrality and Engagement in the Scientific Study of Reality", but the thing is that it is placed in the category of "Popular Science" when it is nothing of the sort, containing, as it does, talk of Bayesian models, probability equations like: P(E|D & K) >> P(E|~D &K), and talk of monozygotic and dizygotic correlations

Nevertheless, there are interesting nuggets here and there:

"Tragedy versus Hope. What future in an open universe?" by Arnold Benz:

"Thesis 4. The new does not emerge from nothing, but is a new organization of existing or decaying entities.

Physical theories describing the formation of the universe are still very speculative and unproven. Nevertheless, it is imaginable that the universe could have formed from a vacuum containing zero energy but obeying all physical laws known today. It could have 'borrowed' energy against gravitation during a fluctuation in the primary vacuum. It would follow from this vacuum hypothesis that the universe did not originate from nothing, but from a physical entity, the vacuum, and according to pre-existing rules."

Intriguing, for is not a vacuum literally "nothing"?

The next bit is slightly longer:

"Thesis 7. The universe and its development appear to be optimal for human beings. However, there is no scientifically provable hope for new beneficial development.

The universe has properties that are necessary for the developments that have led finally to the evolution of living beings. The basic physical parameters are precisely such that life could arise. The properties of the carbon nucleus, for instance, are favourable for its easy forming in nucleosynthesis, but this is not so for oxygen, the element that would have depleted carbon otherwise... There are many more such fine tunings of the universe that are necessary for our existence.

The anthropic principle states that the observed cosmic and biological developments are the a priori condition for the possibility of cognition: 'What we can expect to observe must be restricted by the conditions necessary for our presence as observers' (Carter 1974). To put it more simply, to make it possible that we can wonder at all why the universe is as it is, the universe must be exactly as it is, for otherwise we would not be there to wonder. This principle proceeds from the tenet that the human being is part of the universe and has originated according to natural laws. It reminds us that, as for any observation, the limits of the measurement apparatus (in this case the observer himself) must be taken into consideration.


To explain coincidences on the level of the whole universe, there appear to be three possibilities:

1. There are physical reasons, which we still do not understand, why the universe must be exactly as it is (a casual explanation).
2. There are many universes. We inhabit one that has the correct characteristics for evolution and for life (a selective explanation).
3. The universe is given a direction, the goal of which is to create life (a teleological or purpose-oriented explanation)."

I would say that the coincidences do not need explanation, for that is the nature of probability, and as pointed out earlier, "the observed cosmic and biological developments are the a priori condition for the possibility of cognition". Alternatively, as Stephen Jay Gould is quoted in another essay:

"something has to happen, even if any particular 'something' must stun us by its improbability. We could look at any outcome and say, 'Ain't it amazing. If the laws of nature had been set up just a tad differently, we woudln't have this kind of universe at all.'"

"Improvable nature?" by John Hedley Brooke:

"In a memorable aphorism [Darwin] wrote that the contented face of Nature is but a mask. The unmasking was a staggering experience because one was brought face to face with the enormour extent of extinction. Once unmasked, what were Nature's imperfections? For one thing, the sheer volume of pain and suffering... Nature could be repugnant as well as diseased. The revulsion Darwin experienced when thinking of the egg-laying habits of the Ichneumonidae is well known. Such behaviour meant a gruesome death for the caterpillar in whose body the eggs would hatch. This was one of the 'horridly cruel' works of Nature on which a 'devil's chaplain' might write.

The instability of Nature was arguably another imperfection. During the Beagle voyage, Darwin witnessed the devastating effects of an earthquake. Would Paley's natural theology have been quite so plausible if England had been ravaged by such disturbances?"

I'm sure Paley would have found a way to reason backwards from his a priori conclusion to rationalise England being ravaged by an earthquake, and reconcile it with his Natural Theology.

Anyhow, my next read is definitely going to be less dry and technical, for today I collected the book I bought from Amazon.com:

Atheism: The Case Against God
George H. Smith

"Does a god exist? This question has undoubtedly been asked, in one form or another, since man has had the ability to communicate. . . Thousands of volumes have been written on the subject of a god, and the vast majority have answered the questions with a resounding 'Yes!'"

"You are about to read a minority viewpoint." With this intriguing introduction, George H. Smith sets out to demolish what he considers the most widespread and destructive of all the myths devised by man - the concept of a supreme being. With painstaking scholarship and rigorous arguments, Mr. Smith examines, dissects, and refutes the myriad "proofs" offered by theists - the defenses of sophisticated, professional theologians, as well as the average religious layman. He explores the historical and psychological havoc wrought by religion in general - and concludes that religious belief cannot have any place in the life of modern, rational man.

"It is not my purpose to convert people to atheism . . . (but to) demonstrate that the belief in God is irrational to the point of absurdity. If a person wishes to continue believing in a god, that is his prerogative, but he can no longer excuse his belief in the name of reason and moral necessity."

"Should be taken seriously by Christian theologians..." - The Christian Century

". . . welcome, hard-hitting." Publishers Weekly

Perhaps one day I will get the other books in the Skeptics Bookshelf series.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Latest completed project:

Shaw vs van Swieten: A comparison of the lyrics in Robert Shaw's take on Haydn's Creation with the original's

Nick Jones notes, in the booklet accompanying Telarc's 2 CD release of Robert Shaw's version of Haydn's Creation (with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus), that the English libretto prepared by Baron van Swieten in parallel with the German version was:

"weak, straining with over-flowery language and convoluted word order to match the poetry of Milton, and van Swieten's command of English was not nearly so good as his German. The resulting English version is often incomprehensible, at times downright ludicrous, speaking, for instance, of the 'flexible' tiger where 'supple' would be a happier choice; in the description of new-created man we find:

The large and arched front sublime
of wisdom deep declares the seat"

Thus, Shaw undertook to come up with a new translation:

"not only to repair the worst lapses of the published libretto, but also 'to unite Haydn's minutely picturesque musical language with the colorful and understandable English text which it deserves'"

Some, purists especially, might take issue with Shaw's rampant and liberal rewriting of the lyrics. It is not the mission of this page to evaluate the relative merits of Shaw's translation and the original, but merely to compare the two translations. I started on this page after failing to find Shaw's lyrics anywhere, and hope that this will be a useful resource for those who seek to compare the two librettos.

The Shaw lyrics are as printed in the booklet accompanying the CDs, and the original lyrics have been taken from a site at random (http://www.geocities.com/thedarkrequiem/bvscreation.html) and edited for spelling. They seem to be the lyrics that the Academy of Ancient Music under Christopher Hogwood used in its 1990 recording of the work; there probably exist no definitive set of lyrics, so if the version below does not concur with the one you might know, I do apologise.

Comments are welcome, at: gabrielseah[at]hotmail[dot]com or with the feedback form.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Quote of the Post: "A nation is a society united by delusions about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbors." - William Ralph Inge


Tasmania Travel Journal, Part 2:

General Comments

Although we signed up for the Tasmania trip at Super Travel, there weren't enough people to form a group, so what they did was book the flights and coach trips for us, and put us on local tours, and left free half days here and there so it was almost like being on a free and easy holiday.

I think that if I travel with my parents again, I am going to bring my own phone and spend the $5/month to activate roaming. Besides making communication with my parents easier if we split up, it also frees me from their superstitions - my mother has this idea that a handphone battery lasts less than 5 minutes on a full charge, so it cannot be used for any but important calls.

Day 3 - Tasmania (Hobart)

The travel agency which booked out flights was very sneaky. For the transfer to Hobart from Melbourne, we were booked on Jetstar - a new low cost airline set up by Qantas. My experience with them was alright, except that at the airport, I somehow, though I was not sleeping, missed the announcement of my sequence number for boarding. What's more, I also did not hear the pages made for me.

When we arrived in Hobart in the mid-morning, I discovered that the Antarctic Adventure had closed down, so going there was out of the question. The agency had been unable to book us on the Hobart-Richmond tour, so we were free for the rest of the day. Now, there was no wildlife-related item anywhere in our itinerary, and I surely couldn't leave Tasmania without seeing a Tasmanian devil, so I found and booked a suitable tour.

De rigueur for any trip to Australia is a trip to see Kangaroos and Koalas. Since I'd been to Australia a few times already, I'd seen the two more than once, but the Bonorong Wildlife Park did not stop at those 2.

Of course, this being Tas
mania, there were a lot of Tasmanian devils. They were much more aggressive than I'd expected - watching Looney Tunes cartoons doesn't quite prepare one for the experience of seeing a devil in the flesh. Swee Shoon had told me that they were very smelly, but the keeper at the park said that this was because the devils usually make their homes in enclosed areas, and that they actually are quite clean animals.

There was also a tame wombat - apparently they bite humans usually, but this one had lost its mother so it had grown attached to humans. In a few months though, it would turn feral and silly tourists like myself would no longer be able to pet it.

We were given packets of kangaroo feed to feed the kangaroos and wallabies with. It seems that too many people have done this already, for the moment the kangaroos saw us, their pavlovian reflex kicked in and they crowded around us for the food. My mother was spooked by them, so I had to save her a few times when she got cornered, by distracting the kangaroos with food so she could make a hasty escape.

Other animals the park had: a bettong (a curiously rat-like marsupial), emus and 2 eagles crippled in hunting accidents. Unfortunately, the quolls, echindas and possums were hiding somewhere in their enclosures, so I didn't get to see them.

After that, we were driven to Richmond, billed as a "historic" town. Having seen a million and one "historic towns" in England with nothing to recommend them but the historic foundation stones of their wells, I wouldn't fall for that trick again. To be fair, Richmond had St John Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic church... in Australia, the oldest surviving bridge... in Australia and Richmond Gaol, the oldest (still intact) gaol in - you guessed it - Australia!

It might be a matter of local pride for your town to have the third oldest continually used Seventh Day Adventist Church in Australia with its original roof intact, but outside of your small, parochial community, it doesn't count for much.

At Richmond Gaol, we got off the bus for a while. My mother and I went to look at the gaol, but my father didn't think the visit worth the entrance fee, so he went to walk the streets of the town.

On arrival back at Hobart, we walked down to the waterfront, in the face of chilling antarctic winds. Though the waterfront was mostly deserted, there was one restaurant that was bustling - Fish Frenzy, so we had our dinner there. The restaurant was like a slightly upscale British Fish and Chippery, in that the food was served in brown paper cones, there was the traditional Fish and Chips vinegar and an order of "small" chips was too large for even me to finish unaided. The fried fish (available with beer batter, tempura batter and crumbed) was superb, but the grilled blue eye (trevella) we also ordered was heavenly - perhaps the best fish I have ever tasted. My only complaint was that the tartare sauce cost $0.50 for a small container, and tasted like a mix of horseradish and wasabi.

Day 4 - Hobart

On Thursday, we went on a cruise to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory at Claremont. Handphones and cameras were banned because they, ah, didn't want anything to fall into the chocolate (right). The tour wasn't quite as organised as I thought it would be, in the sense that they didn't show us how they made their chocolate from scratch, but I suppose it wouldn't be too exciting, for they probably receive a lot of their inputs processed already (cocoa butter, as opposed to raw cocoa beans, for example).

We learnt quite a few interesting facts on the tour. For example, only 10% of the chocolate made in the factory is exported outside Australia, and the Chocolate made for Australian consumption has more sugar in it than the chocolate meant for export. That doesn't bode well for Australians' health. Interestingly, after sampling the Australian Cadbury's chocolate, I found that I preferred the export version, as the higher sugar content in the Australian chocolate obscured its richness and taste, preventing full appreciation of its merits.

At the end of the tour, I bought a bottle of Schweppes Traditional Sarsaparilla with "the authentic taste". It had a very interesting tagline, one that wouldn't increase its sales in East and South East China.

Notwithstanding its tagline ("The Real Sars Flavour", for those who can't see, it was vile, with a very medicinal flavour. It's no wonder that no one makes authentic tasting Traditional Sarsaparilla anymore, instead making Sarsaparilla-flavoured drinks. After that experience, I dared not try their "authentic taste" Traditional Cream Soda or Lemondade.

At the shop in the factory, they sold chocolate at supposedly cheaper prices, but after factoring in the exchange rate, it wasn't that much cheaper. Besides which, most of the chocolate was essentially the same, being only variations on a few themes, which is also why I asked my sister not to ship any chocolate back to me from the UK.

The factory and its environs were quite ugly, but there was a cute doggie walking around.

Arriving back in Hobart, we still had some time before our coach transfer to Launceston, so we walked to Salamanca square, apparently a place so poor that people steal the toilet paper in public toilets.

At one of the souvenir shops, they were selling so-called "dancing animals" which were actually vibrators in the shapes of wombats, koalas and kangaroos, for the only thing they did on their strings being pulled was vibrate. There was also "Tasmanian Devil Dung" - "from the wilds of Tasmania, Australia. A must for somebody who thinks they have everything".

In the early evening, we got on a coach to Launceston. Local regulations were that hot food and drink were banned on coaches because in an aircon environment, the smells would circulate and nauseate further those with travel sickness. How considerate of the lawmakers (really).

By the time we arrived, it was pitch-black and raining to boot. A kind woman called a taxi for us; on arriving at our hotel - Sandor's on the Park - and checking in, it was too late to go out and eat, so we ate at the hotel restaurant, which my parents judged as mediocre but which I was fine with. The Polynesian chef was quite nice though - he saw my mother glance repeatedly in his direction (there was a big table of guests who had come before us, so our order took a long time in coming), so he sent us a plate of some garlic bread with his compliments.

It was quite late by the time I went up to the hotel room, and I let my parents bathe first, so by the time I got into the shower, it was past 11pm. I was expecting a nice bath to end the day, but to my shock, I found that there was no more hot water! I called the night manager and she said she'd look into it. After half an hour, though, there was still no hot water. My mother claimed that "I'll look into it" was a code phrase meaning "try again tomorrow", so I went to sleep without a shower :( (Though it being winter, it wasn't really necessary to bathe everyday) Incidentally, in Launceston there had a unique establishment - "Aquarius Roman Baths", complete with Tepidarium, Caldarium, Laconicum and Frigidarium (with a cold plunge pool!). The only thing missing was the olive oil and strigils. I would've tried it, but we had no time and besides, the 54 degree and 68 degree (celsius, not fahrenheit) rooms would have killed me, to say nothing of the 80 degree room.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


From time to time, I receive queries from users that defy all explanation. I am listing them here and hoping that someone out there can shed some light on these mysteries.

* 'I was unable to boot on IBM ThinkCenter 8183, NetVista old and new generation but the same CD works with other computers, as if the BIOS can't find the CD boot sector. I tried many things: a CD with just the original cdshell (works), then with just the /boot folder (works), so I tried to add other folders. The CD didn't boot when I add /docs. Why?' - Pellegrino Sylvain"

(Ultimate Boot CD)



Reality TV roundup:

"Clean Sweep"

The skinny: Oh, this show is painful. An organizer, a designer and a carpenter show up to make people sell and/or throw away things they've stored for years. Nostalgia? Who cares? Your "junk" is making it tough for wifey to back out of the garage properly. We wouldn't be surprised if that's how John Kerry tossed out his war medals -- they didn't really go with that taupe Ikea couch.

I should nominate my sister and brother in law for this show.


"This Fall, Dr E.L.Kersten offers executive and managers everywhere a revolutionary new vision for leadership and employee relations.

And it ain't gonna be pretty.

The Art of Demotivation (R) Coming this Fall. Only from Despair.com"

Finally - a management guidebook worth getting!


I get an email. Subject: "muslims attack troops"

What's inside?

"Increase your sperm count dsfbsdjz
Increase the width of your penis ubfjbk
Increase the length of your penis hkjpecj
Increase testosterone levels fqyyxe
Have harder,longer erections axhtu"


I should sue them for deceptive advertising.

The ones with "hi" in the subject line are especially bad, because people I don't know sometimes email me with "hi" in the subject line.


Just got a Musical Offering by Harnoncourt. Am very pleased.

"It's certainly the best performance I've ever heard, and worth mentioning is the fact that this performance also is the only one (as far as I know) which contains the correct performance of the canon in augmentationum contrariu motu; which makes it one of the most beautiful three minutes of music I've ever heard."

Okay, I don't know what "augmentationum contrariu motu" means either. MEP students?

I also acquired The Academy of Ancient Music's Creation. Am also in the process of getting a complete version of Art of Fugue - neither the Glenn Gould "best of Art of Fugue" nor the Delme String Quartet versions I have include the canons.

RV 588 and 589 not only have the same title, they are in the same key too. Bloody hell.


Share the Music - "The [RIAA] argues that file sharing is directly responsible for the widely reported slump in CD sales from 2000 to 2003... But this simple narrative is a bit more complicated. The two primary direct competitors for young music buyers' dollars — video games and DVD's, both also widely and freely traded on the Internet — continued to do quite well... At the exact moment file-sharing activity rose, so did CD sales."

Troy's Blast Cushion Stands Proud - The guy who made the bear proof suit has now crafted a "light infantry magnetic blast cushion", made with "specially treated Kevlar, ceramics, metal alloys and the force-absorbing system from his Ursus Mark-VII bear suit". In tests, it was impervious to weapons ranging from a .308 sniper rifle to a powerful .223 penetrator to a .375 elephant gun.

Judge rejects slave trauma as defense for killing - "A Portland lawyer says suffering by African Americans at the hands of slave owners is to blame in the death of a 2-year-old Beaverton boy... African Americans today are affected by past centuries of U.S. slavery because the original slaves were never treated for the trauma of losing their homes; seeing relatives whipped, raped and killed; and being subjugated by whites. Because African Americans as a class never got a chance to heal and today still face racism, oppression and societal inequality, they suffer from multigenerational trauma, says DeGruy-Leary, who is African American. Self-destructive, violent or aggressive behavior often results"

Man killed for singing Sinatra off-key - "A 25-year-old Filipino man has been stabbed dead for singing a Frank Sinatra classic out of tune during a birthday party."

Mojo Dojo Guide to ACJC Canteen Stalls - "The ACJC canteen is certainly one of the many memorable locations in a student's life here in this hellish institution. Every virile schoolboy will gladly remember the time he upskirted his first unsuspecting girl right from the comfort of the canteen benches/chairs, making eyes at each other and of course, the everlasting casual banter and hot gossip."

Schoolgirls sniff gold in pantie crackdown - "Naughty Japanese schoolgirls lost one of their greatest sources of pocket money earlier this month after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government outlawed the trade in soiled knickers from the underaged... But that doesn't mean the trade in soiled skids won't continue. 'Underage sellers aren't punished under the ordinance, so the girls are pretty composed about the whole thing'"
I like the video I saw somewhere of this guy who thought he was smelling used female underwear, but was actually smelling panties worn by some male Japanese teen who danced to DDR to get them sweaty.

'No sex' message doesn't ring true - "Is it cool to be a teenage virgin? In America - yes, increasingly so, if the popularity of Christian teen-abstinence group Silver Ring Thing is to be believed. But when a 30-strong troupe of Silver Ring Thing virgins arrived in Britain this week on an evangelical tour, they hit a few snags... Three shows on Silver Ring Thing's concert tour, due to blast off last night in the village of Claygate in Surrey, have already been cancelled due to lack of interest; one in Leeds, and two in London. Indeed, when The Times visited Claygate in advance this week, its reporter could not find a single teenager who would confess to being a virgin."

Iranian woman 'gives birth to frog' - Maybe they need an Iranian Book of Records to note this wondrous event.

The Buttafly Guide to Interpreting Friendster Photos

More on Zladko “Zlad” Vladcik - "Zladko “Zlad” Vladcik rose to prominence in 2002 when he won Molvanian Idol in controversial circumstances - the other finalist, Ob Kuklop, pulled out due to a serious throat condition after one of the judges tried to strangle him."
Alternatively, see this Guardian article.

Weird Foods from around the World

Monday, June 28, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." - Mel Brooks


Tasmania Travel Journal, Part 1 (with pics!):

General comments

On the whole, it is more relaxing travelling with only my father than with both my parents. My mother tends to take a confrontational approach to everything. For example, when something gets lost or misplaced, she shouts on about how she took so long and put in so much effort to look for it, as if others had deliberately hidden or thrown the object in question just to spite her.

My mother also has some odd superstitions. Among the travel-specific ones: you can't use the number locks built into luggage, because knocks may jar the mechanism and you'll have to spend hours trying to crack the disturbed combination (no word on if we shouldn't use normal locks, for surely falls can jar their mechanisms as well); at the same time, nefarious luggage handlers may put drugs into baggage, so it must be locked with a separate lock (no word on luggage with many outside compartments, not all of which can be or are locked.

The sheer number of types of electrical sockets used around the world is immensely frustrating. It's as if the various countries had conspired to frustrate travellers by deliberately making their sockets and plugs incompatible - this page lists 13 types of plugs, and I know that there are variations on these 13 types of sockets.

The disadvantage of having flat feet with complications is that they always hurt like mad when I walk a lot. Which is what I do when I go on holiday. It's almost not worth the reduced headache that the SAF gives me.

Flight to Melbourne

Our code-sharing flight to Melbourne was on Qantas (the return was on British Airways). Their in-flight entertainment has a slick interface: among other things, there is a page providing information about each movie, and on switching to a video channel, a little notice will pop up telling you how many minutes have passed since the programming on the channel started. But of course, SIA's video-on-demand beats this.

I like Qantas's policy on censorship: "We respect your right to choose, so our policy is to screen all movies in their original cinema version". Contrast this with the rampant and shameless bowdlerising of Emirates, the excising of material unacceptable only in the Middle East and similarly socially backward places.

Making calls from your seat is already old hat, so Qantas has gone one up: you can send and receive SMSes from your Qantas seat. At an exorbitant price, naturally.

Day 1 - Melbourne

Our flight arrived at 4+am, so we were all zonked out. On arrival at the Duxton hotel, we (or at least I) spent a while snoozing on the couches since there was no room available for us.

I spent the rest of the day walking the streets with Andrew. I also visited his flat, viewing his not-so-messy room and sitting on his overly-full beanbag. For lunch we had Quail Souvlaki, among other things. It was very succulent. Freakily, though, the toilet was lit with a UV lamp. He then brought me to a shop in Chinatown - "Pink Fashion", which stocked the most garish and tasteless clothes and accessories I'd ever seen outside a museum or off a catwalk, was staffed with Hong Kong-accented, Cantonese-speaking Chinese girls and had a nail painting machine.

For dinner, we went to Shark Fin House (sic) - a place we (sans my mother) had visited 2 years ago. At that time, my father had used his (almost) unerring knack for finding good food to choose that place to have dinner in and we were not disappointed. As with the last time, there were some discrepancies between the (Old) Chinese menu and the English menu - meaning those unable to read Old Chinese would miss out on some of the more exotic and exquisite delicacies, but I think they had lessened.

Day 2 - Melbourne

There were many Singaporeans at the Duxton hotel - I think fully half the guests I saw were Singaporean. My suspicions were further confirmed by the spread at the hotel's buffet breakfast - in addition to mediocre fried rice, there were bowls of Chilli, Thai Chilli and BBQ sauce.

After breakfast, my parents and I went to walk around the Queen Victoria market. There was the usual dodgy merchandise that one would expect in a market of this sort. For example, a "magnetic copper bracelet. Magnet controls your blood pressure", the maker of which evidently does not know that copper is not a ferro-magnetic material. In another part of the market was "Tuscan Naan" - it must be something from fusion cuisine.

As we walked past one stall, we heard a strong PRC accent calling after us (in Chinese, naturally). The PRC stall owner then proceeded to offer us rates for his merchandise far below their listed value - special rates for "zi4 ji3 ren2" (Translation: the kindred that is the Chinese diaspora), which disturbed me slightly. He was a very good merchant - insistent, warm, enthusiastic and seemingly sincere, so even my mother ended up buying probably more things than she wanted from him (though she tried to bargain the already low prices down further, just for the heck of it).

Later I met Andrew and he took me to St Kilda's beach, where someone who shall remain unnamed used to wander at 2AM (go figure). And it's not even a particularly nice beach in the first place. Maybe they should've imported Arabian/Californian sand like Singapore.

There was this interesting shop - "Urban Attitude" - selling all manner of novelties: things that would be nice to have at home, but which you would think twice about spending money on. For example, they had:

- A "Mr Wonderful" doll-keychain (which interestingly enough, I saw on TV a few days later), billed as being "Carefully developed with today's modern woman in mind. He is complete with good looks, sense of style, sincerity, charm and is genuinely sincere (sic). The perfect gift for any woman whether single or married" and which said things like "I seem to be lost. I think I'll pull over and ask directions" with a squeeze of his hand
- A "love spring" in the shape of a mammary gland to squeeze to "relieve stress"; strangely, it was rated for "ages 5 and up"
- something to test the breath for alcohol and so determine the blood alcohol level
- Rubber chickens! I've always wanted a rubber chicken. I credit the Muppet Show for my rubber chicken obsession
- the Librarian Action Figure that I had read about in This Is True

Somewhere down the road there was a plant shop, where I finally got to see what flax looked like. There was also a butcher's shop somewhere, with a sign in the window warning vegans that the Vitamin B12, impossible for them to ingest as part of their diets, was necessary for proper brain growth.

As the sun set, we sat by the water front and had a romantic chat :)


I suddenly have a strong urge to write Bananas in Pyjamas slash, especially since I couldn't find any.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, B1?"

"I think I am B2"

"It's *** time"


Meanwhile Tym has her own travel journal, of sorts.
"Weird Al" Yankovic - Trigger Happy

Trigger happy, trigger happy

Got an AK-47
Well you know it makes me feel all right
Got an Uzi by my pillow
Helps me sleep a little better at night
There's no feeling any greater
Than to shoot first and ask questions later
Now I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day
Trigger happy every day

Well, you can't take my guns away
I got a constitutional right
Yeah, I gotta be ready
If the Commies attack us tonight
I'll blow their brains out with my Smith and Wesson
That oughta teach 'em all a darn good lesson
Now I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day
Trigger happy every day

Oh yeah, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Oh, baby I'm trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Oh, I'm so trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Better watch out, punk
Or I'm gonna have to blow you away

Oh, I accidentally shot Daddy
Last night in the den
Shot daddy in the den
I mistook him in the dark
For a drug-crazed Nazi again
Drug-crazed Nazi again
Now why'd you have to get so mad
It was just a lousy flesh wound, Dad
You know, I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day
Trigger happy every day

Oh, I still haven't figured out
The safety on my rifle yet
Bop doo wop shoo wop wop doo wop
Little Fluffy took a round
Better take him to the vet
Bop doo wop shoo wop wop doo wop
I filled that kitty cat so full of lead
We'll have to use him for a pencil instead
Well, I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day
Trigger happy every day

Oh yeah, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Oh, baby I'm trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Oh, I'm so trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Better watch out, punk
Or I'm gonna have to blow you away

Come on and grab your ammo
What have you got to lose
We'll get all liquored up
And shoot at anything that moves

Got a brand new semi-automatic
Weapon with a laser sight
Shoot to kill, now, shoot to kill
Oh, I'm prayin' somebody
Tries to break in here tonight
Shoot to kill, now, shoot to kill
I always keep a Magnum in my trunk
You better ask yourself, do you feel lucky, punk
Because I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day
Trigger happy every day

Oh yeah, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Oh, baby I'm trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Oh, I'm so trigger, trigger happy
Yes, I'm trigger, trigger happy
Better watch out, punk
Or I'm gonna have to blow you away

Watch out or I'll blow you away
Better watch out, punk
Or I'm gonna have to blow you away
{Repeat to fade}

Sunday, June 27, 2004

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.
Quote of the Post: "I was a vegetarian until I started leaning toward the sunlight." - Rita Rudner


Some of the 452 medics met up yesterday, and we went to Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurant in Plaza Park Royal, featuring "wushu trained tea servers known for their acrobatic tea pouring" with their long-spouted kettles of hot water.

Most of the dishes we ordered (ie most of the dishes on the menu) were good, which explained why the restaurant was full for most of the time that we were there (almost 3 hours). And as a bonus for non-chili eaters like me, there were much fewer hot dishes than one would expect at a Szechuan restaurant. Among the dishes were the best Fried Kailan I have ever tasted; Sweet and Sour Pork in Szechuan style which wasn't hot at all, and the first serving of which was quickly devoured by the 9 of us in under 2 minutes; a deep fried Soon Hock which Yiliang grumbled was not actually Soon Hock, but which tasted great anyway; Beancurd with Shrimps where the beancurd was smooth, the shrimps bouncy, and slightly tart cherry tomatos were added to the dish to impart a unique flavour; and a prawn dish where I swear I bit into a cube of Nata De Coco. Allan Tay liked the food so much that he made a reservation for lunch the next day with his family!

In the end, we ended up sampling 3 of their 4 whole fish dishes, and all 5 of their prawn dishes. I think our blacklisting was sealed by our dessert orders.

This was what the waitress brought out for the first round of dessert (we later added 2 bowls of mango pudding)

37 bowls of dessert and 7 Sesame Seed Balls

37 bowls of dessert, 7 Sesame Seed Balls and 6 bowls of Tea for effect (to complete the chain of concentric circle)

Interestingly enough, I didn't, at any point, get the feeling of being overly-full.

The only disadvantages of going for the lunch/dinner buffets at this restaurant are that you need a minimum of 4 people, and they charge an exorbitant $2.80 per head for their "Eight Treasures Tea" (even for those of us who had iced water), so the prices of $28.80 per head for dinner and $27.80 for lunch are a little misleading. Luckily, Nigel's UOB card got us a 20% discount. Interestingly, before presenting the bill, they gave us fortune cookies - something I thought was done only in Chinese restaurants in America. Perhaps it was to lessen the shock at the $2.80 tea.


For those who missed the guest food review I did for Luther 2 weeks ago, I reproduce it in its entirety:

Rabbit Brand Seafood Delicacies

Lut's Food Review #6: I eat the food for you!

Lucky us! Today we've got a guest review by Gabriel aka Agagooga of Balderdash! fame.

[Rabbit Brand Seafood Delicacies]

Rabbit Brand Seafood Delicacies
Outlet 1: #02-114 Lucky Plaza. 304 Orchard Road. Singapore 238863 (Tel: 67379722)
Outlet 2: 11 Circular Road. Singapore 049367 (Tel: 65570874)
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

When I first saw the pamphlet for this place, I couldn't believe it. $8.90 for Buddha Jumps Over The Wall + Bean Sprouts, Rice and Chinese Tea (with free dessert - white fungus and red date drink)?

Rabbit Brand Seafood Delicacies advertises that it has set menus at factory prices (though I doubt factories offer set menus). If that's the case, we're really being ripped off by all those Chinese Restaurants.

The joint at Level 2, Lucky Plaza (the one I went to) was non-descript, as befits a no-frills outlet, and the interior resembles one of the cheap cafeterias that office workers go to at lunch for $2 economy bee hoon.

My family tried 3 sets: Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, Baby Abalone and Braised Shark's Fin.

The servings sizes weren't very big - more of a snack than a meal, really, and I was still hungry even after 1 1/2 bowls of rice. Also, the Seafood Delicacies were not served unadulterated - they even put crabsticks in the plate with the Baby Abalone! The bean sprouts were nice though - tender but not mushy, firm but not too raw.

The Buddha Jumps Over The Wall was probably the best of the lot, relatively speaking, with a rich stock and various mysterious Chinese Seafood Parts floating in it. The Baby Abalone was fair-sized, and came with 3-4 pieces of Baby Abalone - rather generous. The medley of vegetables and Assorted Seafood Pieces accompanying it included tender mushrooms, but I was riled by the crabstick (sacrilege, even in a budget outlet!). The abalone sauce was mediocre, though, and tasted like it'd come straight from a can. Lastly, the Shark's Fin also had Assorted Seafood Pieces (including Fish Maw) in it, to cut costs, naturally. The characteristically thick soup thus did not have the pure taste normally associated with Shark's Fin soup.

Overall, the food wasn't too bad, but it definitely wasn't anything to write home about (except about the price). Of course, the prices are much lower than in places such as Ah Yat (*the* place in Singapore to go for Abalone), so I'm not complaining.

Eat at Rabbit Brand Seafood Delicacies if you want cheap thrills, are on a diet, or don't have money to burn.

Rabbit Brand's Set A (Buddha Jumps Over The Wall + Bean Sprouts + Rice + Chinese Tea + Free Dessert)
Price: $8.90
Rating: 8/10

Rabbit Brand's Set B (Baby Abalone in Sauce + Vegetables + Rice + Chinese Tea + Free Dessert)
Price: $7.90
Rating: 7/10

Rabbit Brand's Set C (Braised Shark's Fin in Claypot + Bean Sprouts + Rice + Chinese Tea + Free Dessert)
Price: $5.90
Rating: 7.5/10


Tiresias was the son of Everes and the nymph Chariclo; he was a blind prophet, the most famous soothsayer of ancient Greece.

The most famous account of the origin of his blindness and his prophetic talent is as follows. When Tiresias was walking in the woods one day, he came upon two great serpents copulating; he struck them with his staff, and was thereupon transformed into a woman. Seven years later, she/he passed by the same place and came upon the same two serpents copulating; she/he struck them again with the staff and was turned back into a man. Some time later, Zeus and Hera were arguing over who had more pleasure in sex, the man or the woman: Zeus said it was the woman, while Hera claimed men got more pleasure from the act. To settle the argument, they consulted Tiresias, since he had experienced life as both sexes, and Tiresias sided with Zeus. In her anger, Hera struck Tiresias blind. Since Zeus could not undo the act of another deity, he gave Tiresias the gift of prophecy in compensation. (Source)
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