Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Love According to Chinese Ballads

A new year is arriving in 5 days. This is the time of year to be morose and introspective.

Over the last two weeks, I've spent more time at in front of a karaoke mic than I care to admit, accentuating another part of my fading Singapore identity - the easy availability of Asian ballads. Music about love, hate, betrayal, rejection, set to terse, succinct lyrics that is the hallmark of the Chinese language.

Like it or hate it, growing up Chinese in Singapore means growing up to the music of Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau or (if you're younger) Jay Chou. If you'd grown up in a Chinese household like mine, you'd even be familiar with the songs of Theresa Teng, Yu Tien, Fei Yu Qing and Sam Hui.

For good or ill, the music, and the values they espouse, form a foundation for your value system. Singing them at a karaoke is more than a trip down memory lane. It is walking down the dark cul de sac you always knew was there but never dared walk down, complete with homeless in cardboard boxes, burning oil drums, and hoodlums lurking in the shadows waiting to rob you of your last twenty bucks.

A part of me wonders if I exagerrate, yet I know it is unadulterated truth. Asian ballads are either encourage the formation of certain values, or the songwriters grok Chinese male cultural mindset. I cannot tell which, and it probably doesn't matter.

Love is Sacrifice


- 苏永康, "男人不该让女人流泪"


How do I prove my loving kiss,
To protect your brittle soul
I will sacrifice my life to protect you from harm
Even if I am discarded,
Even if I sin,
I'll never leave.

Love is doing what you need to do. Love means no price is too steep, no sacrifice too trivial, no cost too high - even if unrequitted love is the asking price. Love asks the impossible, and a true red-blooded male will not only deliver, he will deliver until his broken, bleeding spirit can deliver no more.

What a terrible thing it is to love. If love asks such terrible things, who can we expect to love?

Love Inspires

- 光亮, “童话”


You said to me sobbingly,
"Fairy Tales are lies,
You can't possibly be my Prince"
Maybe you'll never know
From the day you told me you loved me
The stars in my night sky brightened
I am willing to be
the Angel in the Fairy Tales you love so much
And enfold my wings around you to guard you
You must believe that We
Like all Fairy Tales
Will have a Happy Ending

Love never asks for sacrifices. Sacrifices are offered, given, presented of free will. Demanding a sacrifice turns love into a transaction. One can never exchange the infinite for the infinite.

Love inspires. Love shows you that there is more in you, that there is always more in you. And when there's always more, you, in turn, inspire.

Love is Infinite, Humans are Fallible

-伍佰 & China Blue,“浪人情歌”


Let love blow with the wind,
Let love leave no scars
Let all joy, sorrow and all that is past be discarded
Let all thoughts and yearnings not be you
I can bear it no longer
I must forget you

Sometimes love does not work out. When love does not work out, it asks one duty of you.

Walk away with dignity. Bear the scars, swallow the hurt, but walk away.

And that, sometimes, is the hardest thing to do.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, and Happy Holidays to one and all!

Off to pick the wife up in 15 minutes. Don't do anything naughty while I'm gone!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Day 10 of Return

I had been meaning to write about my thoughts and feelings coming back to Singapore for a while. The emo entry I wrote when I first returned captures but a small aspect of what I am feeling.

Singapore, to me, seems like that odd midway-point between home and ideal holiday destination. I know it's only been 6 months, but even those 6 months were enough to throw me off. Marina was under construction when I left - and Carl's Jr didn't have a Singapore outlet. Several roads seem to lead to different places from what I remembered, though driving on the left hand side of the car seemed oddly familiar.

The greatest point of disjunct, however, has been food. It's no secret I've been hitting Singapore food pretty hard. I just never expected it to hit back so fiercely.

Last night, just before dinner, I developed bad abdominal cramps. I've had these before when I was in the States - it was when I discovered that I'd become lactose intolerant. This time round, however, no lactose was involved. The cramps got so bad that my parents had to rush me to a doctor for an injection. The injection settled my stomach for all of 5 minutes - where I promptly "merlioned" my dinner outside the clinic.

A graphic representation of what happened outside the clinic for those unfamiliar with what "merlioning" means

Needless to say, I spent the whole of last night feeling bloated and queasy. I threw up two more times before my stomach settled.

What does this have to do with local food, one might ask? The final time I threw up - I threw up the remnants of my dinner two nights ago, and the pain immediately ceased. It was a bowl of bak-chor mee. More accurately, it was probably the bak-chor, which tasted a little funky to me even when I was consuming it.

I am now recovering at home, with plenty of time to think about food misadventures mere days before Chirstmas. Perhaps even my stomach no longer acknowledges its Singaporeaness. I certainly had no problems consuming wasabe beef sandwiches recovered from the floor. Either that, or it's my retribution for tormenting Victoria about the availability of mee pok tar in San Francisco.

Perhaps there is no moral to this story, save for those manufactured by a morose mind.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bloggers E-Carolling

Note: My thanks to Mrs Lim for her wonderful carolling meme, without which I would not have thought this up.

The heart of Christmas is giving. Carolling is a way of giving - it sends forth a much-needed reminder that Christmas is bigger than presents, trees and a respite from work. There are, however, those that need more than a reminder of Christmas cheer. People for whom presents are a far-off dream.

I'd like to give something to these people. I'm sure you do too.

Here's the deal - send me a request to sing a carol or Christmas song, and I'll sing it and put it up for your enjoyment. If you like my rendition, all I ask is that you make a gift to a charity. You pick the charity, you pick the gift. Send me feedback and I'll put your name up beside the music link, along with the gift you made. It's that simple.

I look forward to your patronage.

FAQ for Bloggers E-Carolling

Q: How do I make a request?

A: You leave a comment, or email me at khaycelim-at-hotmail-dot-com. I will take any and all requests until 1 Jan 2006.

Q: Will you guarantee that you will fulfil every request?

A: I will do my best to fulfil your request. However, there are some songs that are completely beyond my ability to do a credible job, for example, "Santa Baby". If I cannot do a song, I'll let you know, and you can pick another song, or be very pissed off with me and never speak to me again.

Q: What if I already made a gift to charity? Do I have to make a fresh gift to request a song from you?

A: If you're already made a gift, kudos. Send me a request and I will do it, as my way of thanking you. No fresh gift required.

Q: Is this just a cheap publicity stunt to get traffic to your site?

A: Actually, it isn't. The traffic is nice, but I will be deriving no benefit from it. Any ad revenue that I get from this traffic spike will be donated to charity.

Q: Any amount? Any charity? You're kidding!

A: Different people will value what I am doing differently. Just give what you think my singing's worth. If you think I'm utter crap, don't donate. Different people will also have different ideas where their gifts should go. I don't care about where the gifts go, so long as they go somewhere needed.

Q: How do you stop people from cheating, i.e, requesting a song, then making no gift?

A: I can't. I however, believe that people who cheat charities during Christmas go to a Very Special Place, along with child molesters and people who speak loudly at the cinema. Let your conscience be your guide.

Q: Who the f*** do you think you are? Some celebrity?

A: On the contrary, I know I'm not a celebrity. I don't even have a high traffic blog. I'm just an ordinary Joe Bloe doing his bit for Christmas.

Q: How do I know you're not utter crap?

A: I've sung a few carols for Mrs Lim in her carolling meme. They are here, here and here. Sample them, and if you don't like them, don't make a request.

Q: I love your idea! Can I E-carol on my own site?

A: Absolutely! I'd love to have more people involved in this. As long as you carol for charity, I'll all behind you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

White Christmas

In the spirit of Mrs Lim's (no relation) Christmas Carolling meme, here's my contribution.

White Christmas

Added: What Child is This

More added: Last Christmas by request of Mrs Lim. My apologies for the bad syncopation - the song is damnably hard to do.

Now any blogger who reads this post must also do a Christmas carol. Muahahaha!

Dear Mr Brosnan...

You are in grave danger. On Monday, 19 Jan 2005, at approximately 8 pm,Shianux , Linda Chia and I were shooting the breeze when the conversation took a darker turn.

Somehow, the conversation turned towards rape laws in Singapore. Shianux brought up the fact that women are unable to rape men in Singapore, because the legal definition of rape in Singapore requires penetration. Upon gaining this knowledge, Linda's eyes gleamed in an unwholesome fashion. Moments before this, we had discussed actors that we liked and your name came up.

It is for this reason that I fear for you. Please heed this warning.


As is obvious, the coffee session on Monday went splendidly. Shianux and I had a lot to talk about. What can I say? Put two lawyers together and we talk shop. Even if we had all night, and an infinite number of jurisdictions, we would have talked those to death. Indeed, The World Is Not Enough.

Linda joined us at about 8.30. I don't think it's an understatement to say that she lit up the place like Dante's Peak. To our discredit, Shianux and I continued talking shop - which must have bored the Living Daylights out of her. She was, however, happy to discover some useful legal tidbits. Laws of Attraction, sad to say, almost always take mindshare precedence over boring legal discussions.

The conversation continued late into the night. Linda suggested supper. Shianux and I agreed. Shianux was hungry. I think he hadn't eaten After The Sunset. Besides, it was too early to be back. Since none of us were working, we decided to live for today, and Die Another Day - Shianux, Linda and I split an unhealthy but oh-so-delicious supper of sambal stingray, fried kway teow and roti john.

All in all, it was great fun. I hope to be able to meet all of you at the Tomorrow Christmas party. I hope that happens - the discussion about it seemed inactive for a while, and no venue has been confirmed yet. Nevertheless, I have high hopes. Even if individual discussions and news items do get shelved...
(wait for it)
Tomorrow Never Dies.

P.S: Forgive me Linda. I had to.

P.P.S: I ask my readers to pardon my pun-niness. I'm high on teh-o peng. Yeah. That's it. Blame the teh-o peng.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rivendell, Lothlorien and Lost Ones

Shyue Chou, Brian, Poon and I

The last time I met these guys was when I was 17. They were former co-residents of Rivendell and Lothlorien, two BBS sites where I used to hang out at back in the days of 2400 bps modems. There are people from that BBS I'd prefer to forget of course, but these are the people that I should have remembered but didn't.

Life got in the way.

We talked. The last time I had met them, I hadn't entered NS yet. That's three entire stages of my life where I had not seen them - NS, Uni and eventually career. We talked, we caught up, and out of morbid curiousity, I asked about some of the people in the BBS I'd rather have forgotten. I felt more than a little disappointed when I heard that some of these characters hadn't changed one bit.

All in all, though, I'm glad all of us managed to find our way around life eventually. At 16, we were angsty, depressed and angry at the world. At 29, we had or have successful careers, and can look back on our teenage days with a little embarassment, but much nostalgia.

There were several turning points in my life - and meeting these people on Lothlorien was one of them. As an angsty, wound-up teenager, finding out that you weren't as alone as you thought was a godsend - even if my sanity was often tried with this bunch.

I wish you all the best. Lothlorienites, Rivendellians, and all that have entered my life but, through my own lack of care, have dropped out of my life.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Coffee on Monday

I'm going to be at Liat Towers Starbucks at 8.00 p.m, Monday, December 19. I will be meeting Shianux for coffee (I think) and would love to meet more Singapore bloggers and my readers. Please drop by if you are so inclined, and don't be shy - I'm probably even more shy than you are and this arrangement is entirely uncharacteristic of me, but I do very much want to put faces to comments and blog handles.

I'll be the bald Asian guy wearing a polo T and cargo pants, reading a book. If I'm alone, please come up and introduce yourself - you're more likely to know what I look like than the other way round.

Alternatively, I will be happy to meet people for coffee at alternate times if you leave a comment or an email at khaycelim-at-gmail-dot-com.

Note: Edited for Tym's benefit. I wasn't aware there was any place in Liat Towers apart from Starbucks -to- have coffee, but I really should be specific about it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I never expected homecoming to be so surreal. I'm not even sure that "homecoming" is the right term.

My old room was exactly as I left it when I made my trip six months ago. My books. My graduation photos. My stuffed animals. All of them where right where I left them - less the ones I took with me to California. The absences were conspicious. Someone had ripped the most important parts of my life from my old room, and that someone was I.

I met up with friends from my old firm this afternoon. My old supervising partner looked pale and overworked. My friend told me about his recent hospital visit. My friend was busy and overworked. We met up with another old friend who has since moved on to another firm. We talked like I had never left. I missed them greatly.

Tonight, I suprised AC Drama with my appearance at their dance recital. After the recital we talked as if I had never left - about what I had done since I left. I talked about the time I had spent in my LLM program, about the freedom I had there. I talked about my schoolmates. I talked about how humbling, yet inspiring, my experiences have been. We made plans to meet. I missed them greatly.

There is more, of course. I learnt what the price of friendship was this afternoon. It was from someone I missed greatly, but I just cannot face right now. I pray that one day this person will understand all I ever wanted was to be able to face him without disappointment, and I cannot even do that. I shall miss him greatly.

Somehow, I'm home but I'm not. I've only returned to the life that I've left behind, and everyone else has moved on. I cannot help but feel disappointment, yet I have no right to. Somewhere, through the haze of jetlag and disappointment, the impact of being caught between 2 homes has yet to sink in.

It has however, landed the first cut.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Food For Thought

I finished my last exam, submitted my research paper and had a good dinner. I am amazed by the amount of time I had left over after every exam, and how much time I -didn't- need. Oh, and I passed my MPRE. Yay me.

I fly back tonight, near-midnight. A time warp will throw me in Singapore at about 11.30 am on the 14th of December. For fun and entertainment on the flight, I loaded up on onions and beans for dinner. That should make me real popular. I hope they upgrade me to First Class. Perhaps my -ahem- personality will be in first class while I languish in economy.

Then, it's a couple of weeks of enjoying Teh-O Peng with old friends and annoying the heck out of my productively employed friends.

Life is good.

Friday, December 02, 2005

How Do You Feel Sorry....

Is it right to feel sorry that someone who's life never intersected yours passes on? Is it right to write about loss when you've never read a single word of her writings?

I don't know La Idler. Yet, for some reason, I feel sad. I don't feel I have a right to feel sad, and this drives me nuts.

I fear death. Even though I am Christian and I believe in the Better Place, I still fear its arrival. I fear the end of things that I have yet to do. I don't know if any of these thoughts crossed Sondra's mind as she passed on. Perhaps my sorrow is only a pale reflection of my fear.

Perhaps there is a Better Place for Sondra. Perhaps not. I don't know what her beliefs are, and I don't feel right imposing mine on the dearly departed. What I do know is that I feel as if I've lost something that I never knew I had.

Or perhaps it is a stark reminder that we are all mortal, and we have but a short time. Perhaps it is a reminder to use my time wisely, and not let my fear of the unknown stop me from making sure lives intersect.

Rest well, Sondra. I knew you not, but thank you for your precious gift to me.

Tagged Yet Again

Victoria tagged me with this a while ago. I promised to do this after I'd finished writing my paper. Here it is.

1. KC
2. Khayce
3. Anthony (but not Tony)

1. Khayce
2. Sykobear
3. Keeper of the Scrolls (this one dates back almost 15 years)

1. My facial skin - few pimples, small pores.
2. My crooked teeth - makes my smile maniacal
3. My thumb reflexes - I've incredibly coordinated thumbs.

1. My curly hair
2. Skin on my arms and legs, which occassionally break out in itchy rashes
3. My flat feet

1. ACS
2. Chinese
3. Did I mention ACS?

1. Death
2. Not knowing what I have in store in half a year
3. Knowing that I can (and have been) taken advantage of.

1. Sleep
2. Internet Connection
3. Books

1. My glasses
2. My Berms
3. My grotty, hole-y, cotton T-Shirt

THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE SONGS (currently, anyway):
1. Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
2. Drops of Jupiter - Train
3. Unwell - Matchbox 20

1. Road to Damascus - John Ringo and Linda Evans
2. White Wolf - David Gemell
3. Magic of Incarnum - d20 book that has nice, game-breaking material

1. Intelligent conversation.
2. Quiet "alone" time.
3. Great sex.

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (in no particular order):
1. I've mooted in international mooting competitions.
2. I can do Yoda, Gollum, Grover and Ribena Berry voice impressions.
3. I've acted in 2 musicals and 3 plays.

1. A cute butt.
2. Mischevious eyes.
3. Nice Shoulders. (My intelligent wife pointed out intelligence was not a physical trait.)

1. Tabletop gaming.
2. Computer gaming.
3. Heck, all gaming.

1. Finish my exams.
2. Find a job for next year.
3. Not freeze because it's winter here.

1. Research Chemist.
2. Journalist.
3. College Professor.

1. Norway
2. Italy
3. China

1. Anton
2. Annmarie
3. Bobbi-Jo

1. Have and raise kids.
2. Find a job I actually -like-.
3. Sing for an audience one more time.

1. I solve problems, but not people.
2. I like watching American Football.
3. I like violent martial arts flicks.

1. I'm much closer to female friends than male friends.
2. I can pick out a stunning dress at 20 paces, just by walking by.
3. I hate putting on make up, cos it ruins my skin.

1. Angelina Jolie
2. Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas
3. Monica Belucci

1. Christian Bale
2. Johnny Depp
3. guessed it...Brad Pitt

I tag Richard, Brenda and Ada.