Salt Water Giant Arachnoid

salt-water-arachnoid
at an educational supply store called Nurture Craft at Forum The Shopping Mall

The front of the box says:

Children may be awesome and scary to this direct but simple eight-feet reptile animal. After the fuel battery is activated by the salted water, the metal magnesium plate (3PCS) can successively provide the spider with 4-6 hours of power. Do to it is too real-like, the player may stop it during the time of playing. You can simply remove the fuel battery module and just clean it with running water, hang and dried it. All the material applied on this toy are environment-friendly, safe and clean. There is no any other toxic substance or waste. It won’t produce heat as well, which makes it absolutely safe for the children.

Unfortunately my picture of the side of the box was out of focus, so I can’t show you what it said. I’m sure it was hilarious.

The giant arachnoid is also available on Amazon.

As you might imagine, reviews are mixed.

Hook (1991)

I loved Hook when I was a kid. I am so, so, so glad I didn’t hate it when I watched it again. If it’s cheesy, then at least it’s still my kind of cheese.

I remember the terror of Peter returning home to find the house broken into and scarred by a rip in the wall made by Hook’s hook.

Probably when I saw Hook as a kid, it was about the evergreen joy of flying and the dubious joy of slapstick, whereas now it’s more about Peter’s relationships with the other characters.

The plot, an exploration of fatherhood and missed chances, reminds me of the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” sung by Harry Chapin.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/hook/id531610019

Happy year of the Caprinae!

year-of-sheep-goat
in Chinatown

According to the Chinese zodiac, most of 2015 is the year of the 羊. The word 羊 (‘yáng’) can refer to both sheep and goats, hence the confusion over what to call this zodiac year in English (sheep/goat/ram). Wikipedia kindly informs me that the most accurate translation of ‘yáng’ would be Caprinae, a Latin word corresponding to the biological subfamily that encompasses sheep and goats.

Therefore, I wish you a happy year of the Caprinae.

Strikingly similar…

I just read Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles de Lint. My paperback has a shiny, metallic bluish cover depicting the character Elizabeth, who looks spunky. I went to put the book back on the shelf and look for another to attack next and discovered another Charles de Lint book. Also blue. Also depicting a spunky teenage girl. Titled The Blue Girl. For a moment I thought the publisher had perhaps retitled the work for the paperback edition, and that thus I unknowingly had bought two copies of the same book.

If they had done that, I wouldn’t blame them, or even think them sneaky… it would be my own fault, same as it was when I wound up with two copies of the same book, one orange and one brown, one purchased in 2005 and the other in 2007, about writing.

But no. Apparently Charles de Lint has written two entirely different blue-themed books featuring two entirely different spunky teenage girls. That’s a relief.

Kudos to Scott Fischer for the cover of Little (Grrl) Lost and to Cliff Nielsen for the cover of The Blue Girl. I know Cliff’s name because of some excellent Madeleine L’Engle covers. May your revenue stream never run dry, Cliff.

Lots of Robin Hoods

For a while now, I’ve had two Robin Hood mass-market paperbacks on the same shelf (one by Roger Lancelyn Green and one by Howard Pyle). Just now my spreadsheet told me I also have one by Henry Gilbert that I bought in 2010. My copy of Green is from 2008 and Pyle must have been before July 2004. So I have three versions. Plus Robin McKinley’s Outlaws of Sherwood.

I also have three movie versions: Disney, Elwes and Flynn. And a 2006 TV series from the BBC!

Reflections

Reflections at Keppel Bay
Reflections at Keppel Bay

Although I’m sure the architect would be horrified to hear it, I always think of this as “that condo near West Coast Highway that looks like french fries.”

http://www.reflectionsatkeppelbay.com.sg

There are so many new buildings in Singapore that some of them of course have strange designs, but I like The Interlace better. I also like its website better.

http://www.theinterlace.com/

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Triple bonus points for the scene in which the gravity turns off! Titan A.E., a cartoon, is the only other sci-fi movie I’ve seen that has depicted the failure of artificial gravity.

The novel mix of sci-fi and comedy strained my willing suspension of disbelief, and I’m not sure I like the main character, Star Lord, but there was much to enjoy: the ensemble cast, the setting, the plot, and the expensive special effects.

A lot of the world-building that was showcased in the Blu-Ray special features could easily be overlooked in the movie itself, which felt fast-paced even though it clocked in at almost two hours.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/guardians-of-the-galaxy/id899347364

Invincible

Invincible Summer
Invincible Summer

I bought this copper-edged plaque at a craft show in Philadelphia when I was living in New Jersey. It’s a quote from Albert Camus that says:

I finally learned in the midst of the deepest winter that there was in me an invincible summer.

The plaque was made by Barbara Hinchey (who, it seems, in the time intervening has allowed to lapse her website www.barbarahinchey.com).

The illustration says ‘Kay Womrath’ in the corner. (I’m really glad my family name isn’t Womrath, aren’t you?) Google tells me the artist’s full name is Andrew Kay Womrath, and that the illustration was actually done for a poem by Keats, which some enterprising soul on Zazzle will sell to you displayed on a variety of objects. But that is neither here nor there.

I call your attention to this object because I am stuck—stuck, I tell you!—in the middle of the deepest summer. A summer of epic, George R.R. Martin proportions. Look, I’ve been in Singapore more than six years now, and it’s always summer here. Six years times three extra summers per year is, let’s see, eighteen extra summers.

I don’t have to look in me for summer; it’s all around. What I have to seek within me is, in fact, any kind of winter that isn’t caused by air conditioning equipment. Or a carefully scheduled airplane journey lasting six or more hours.

Invincible Winter
Invincible Winter

And so I give you a new version of the plaque, with apologies to Camus, Womrath, Hinchey, and anyone who is offended by the mere sight of the overused font called Papyrus or appalled by whatever meagre Photoshop skills I have managed to deploy.

Even though at one point I came to believe that the original plaque was being a bit smug at me, I now believe I have had the last laugh. This is what creativity is for. Don’t like something? Change it. Can’t change it? Joke about it and move on.

One might even say, let it go.

Pesky conjunctions

The same taxi had two signs prohibiting eating and drinking. One said “no food and drinks” and the other said “no food or drink”.

“No food and drinks” is wrong. It assumes that the ‘no’ applies to one combined entity, food-and-drinks. One could imagine this syntax being valid if someone said, “You can’t come in, you have no suit and tie.”

It’s also weird that ‘food’ is treated as a noncount noun and ‘drink’ is treated as a count noun. It would sound slightly better, though still wrong, if the sign said “no food and drink”. Then I would, perversely, wonder whether it would be okay to have just food or just something to drink, as long as I didn’t have both. The ‘no’ doesn’t distribute, so “no food and drink” doesn’t mean “no food and no drink”.

Now I wonder why we don’t say “no food and no drink”. And what verb would you use? “No food and no drink is/are permitted in this taxi.”

I wonder why we don’t use ‘neither… nor’ on signs like this. “Neither food nor drink is permitted in this taxi” would be correct.

“No food or drink” sounds normal. At least, I thought it did. Now I’ve been thinking about it too much and everything sounds strange.

“No eating or drinking” would be good. It wouldn’t rule out someone bringing food and drink into the taxi, but perhaps that’s okay anyway. Certainly I’ve transported groceries, snacks and leftovers in taxis.

But not durians! Some taxis have signs specifically prohibiting them:

no-durian-in-taxi
“No Eating / Drinking”. That slash adroitly dodges the whole issue of the conjunction! Well done.

The reminder on the far right to “please state your preferred route” is to protect drivers from being scolded at the end of the trip for taking the surface streets when obviously going by the highway is faster, or for taking the highway when obviously going by the surface streets is cheaper, or whatever.