Phone zombies, beware!

This sign warns pedestrians to pay attention near the entrance to a construction site between West Coast Plaza and Clementi Woods Park.

Forget your fear of swimming near sharks or camping near bears; walking around holding your phone under your nose is much more likely to kill you!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sign like this before, but perhaps such signs will become ubiquitous, like the mobile phones we are apparently obsessed with.

Self-portrait with Teapot; or, The Problem of Transience

I think I’ve been to the Paradise Dynasty restaurant at Ion twice now. I really like the decoration, which you can sort of see here on the restaurant’s website.

So many restaurants in Singapore seem temporarily perched in some unit in some shopping mall; the lease expires, the rent goes up, the restaurant dies or moves somewhere else. So although every shop and restaurant does some interior decoration for branding purposes, the environment often feels like a cardboard set, too superficial for comfort. You eat there, and the food is fine, but you feel like the experience is just a flash in the pan.

Not so with Paradise Dynasty.

Even though the color-changing LEDs behind the curtains serve as a constant reminder that you’re in one of the countless flashy shopping malls built within the last decade, the plush red chairs, dramatic lighting, wood screens, and stone floors make the place feel older and more authentic.

I recently learned that Nanbantei, my favorite Japanese restaurant in Singapore, has a new outlet at Chinatown Point.

There it is!

Even if I were already in Chinatown, though, I would probably go to the Nanbantei at Far East Plaza. I don’t know how long it’s been there, but it’s all wood and brick and cozy inside, whereas this just looks like every other Japanese restaurant, more or less, and I know it hasn’t been there long at all. I’m pretty sure the unit used to be occupied by a French roast chicken restaurant called Poulet.

Like I said, high real estate prices make every business vulnerable to rent fluctuations. Poulet’s Westgate outlet has also closed down, and not long ago when I went to the Japanese restaurant I liked at Westgate, it was only after sitting down and ordering that I realized that the place had been converted into some other Japanese restaurant. My husband’s favorite Japanese restaurant (Aoki) is now undergoing renovation, and his second-favorite Japanese restaurant (Chako) closed permanently just before the building (Hong Leong Garden) was knocked down and replaced with a newer one (NEWest). The closure (in 2013) of the authentic Swiss/German fondue restaurant Stammtisch at Sixth Avenue might qualify as the worst of them.

I wish I knew of more great restaurants that feel like they’ve been here forever and will outlast even me, but things just keep changing. Whatever it is you like, enjoy it while it lasts; blink and it’s gone.

Dispose vs. dispose of

This bathroom sign says:

Kindly dispose sanitary pads in the sanitary bins provided. Please do not throw them into the toilet bowl as it will choke the sewage sewerage. Thank you for your co-operation.

There are several things I’d like to point out about the sign, including the use of ‘dispose’. See below for details.

Continue reading Dispose vs. dispose of

Buying books in Singapore

Brick-and-mortar bookshops in Singapore (as elsewhere) face high rent and stiff competition from online sellers, so they’ve been dropping like flies. The major chains and a handful independents are still scraping by.

See below for lists of:

  • Book Shops at Bras Basah Complex
  • Other Indie Book Shops in Singapore
  • Local Sources for Children’s Books
  • Local Retail Book Chains
  • Local University Book Shops
  • Local Online Booksellers
  • International Online Booksellers
  • Special Book Sales
  • Person to Person Websites

Continue reading Buying books in Singapore

We Love Toa Payoh by Urban Sketchers Singapore

Urban Sketchers Singapore has produced books of sketches of:

  • Toa Payoh
  • Katong
  • Queenstown
  • Little India
  • Bedok
  • Chinatown
  • Tiong Bahru
  • Geylang Serai

I should really get the Chinatown one of these. Used to live there.

When and Why I Read We Love Toa Payoh

This is an attractive locally-produced book (featuring a Singapore neighborhood I’m not personally familiar with).

Genre: non-fiction (art)
Date started / date finished:  25-Mar-17 to 25-Mar-17
Length: 96 pages
ISBN: 9789810736231 (paperback)
Originally published in: 2012
Kinokuniya link: We Love Toa Payoh

Constellations by Nick Payne

Constellations, acted by Edward Harrison and Stephanie Street at the Singapore Repertory Theatre, has a parallel-universe premise built on some very hand-waving “physics”.

The play has just two characters, Marianne and Roland. They appear in a series of short scenes on an empty stage below a light fixture of 100 LED “stars”. The scenes tell the story of one couple, but the two lovers don’t have just one story, they have many differing stories. Sometimes they never get past an awkward hello.

More below about the play and why it was entertaining.

Continue reading Constellations by Nick Payne

Today Special

Let’s have a look at a strange sentence.

My class today was fun.

Which word is “today” modifying?

It’s an adverb, and the verb is “was”, so “today” must be modifying “was”. Easy, right?

Not so fast!

I think the sentence above is trying to say:

The class I had today was fun.

in which case “today” is modifying “had” because otherwise we’d say

My class was fun today.

So if you say “My class today was fun,” you’re either using Chinese syntax (which requires adverbs to go in front of verbs) to say that your class was fun today, or you’re using the word “today” to modify a verb that’s not technically even in the sentence but buried inside a possessive adjective.

You could say “Today’s class was fun,” using “today” as a noun but transforming it into a possessive adjective; then you’d be missing “my”.

In Chinese, I believe you could say “My today’s class was fun” because apparently there’s no rule against doubling up demonstratives like that; I’ve heard people say things like “my the other one is nicer”. In English.

In Singapore maybe you could also get away with “My today class was fun.” After all, “today” is an adjective on all the signs outside restaurants that say “Today Special”. Such signs are of course attempting to say “Today’s Specials”, but they not only fail to transform the noun “today” into a possessive adjective, they also fail to pluralize “special”, an adjective acting like a noun.

Why do we even have different parts of speech? Words change part of speech constantly, and people “misuse” them, and start fights about whether they are in fact misusing them or not, and yet we all manage to understand each other anyway. Most of the time.

Maybe the concept of parts of speech survives for entertainment value—and to provide jobs for English teachers!

Speaking of which, back when I was a teacher for a company called I Can Read, I posted about using “I can…” to test whether a word is a verb. The word ‘window’ hilariously failed my test.

Or so I thought. Shakespeare would disagree.

Antony and Cleopatra (IV.xiv.72):

“Wouldst thou be windowed in great Rome…?”
It just goes to show:

(a) Shakespeare is awesome,
(b) the internet is awesome, and
(c) you learn something new every day!