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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jasons


The Singapore food market for expats and Mercedes-driving locals is Cold Storage. It's run by Dairy Farm Holdings. Now Dairy Farm is a place in Singapore, so that makes us think that it is a local company, right? But people, it's, um, not really. Not at all in fact.

It is managed out of Bermuda (as if Singapore's taxes weren't low enough), and uber-owned, surprise-surprise, by the Jardine Matheson group. Those are the charming fuckers who made it big by sneaking around and eventually usurping British East India Company's monopoly on trade (in particular opium) with the Chinese in the early-mid C19th. The drug trade caused the death and suffering of countless Chinese and was threatening to bankrupt their place, but it was raking back in all the silver the English had paid for tea and silk, so England didn't seem to care.

All this triggered the Opium Wars and, as they say, to the victor go the spoils, such as Hong Kong, and J-M haven't looked back since. Well maybe they were glancing back a little bit in the lead-up to 1997's Handover. However, to put them in perspective, it's probably accurate enough to consider them the Mexican drug cartels of those heady (woozy) times.

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Cold Storage's specialty, top-end, Australians only/mostly, woah-expensive, organic only/mostly supermarket brand is Jasons Marketplace, or in some manifestations, Jasons The Gourmet Grocer. Jasons it is, note, in a Finnegans Wake sort of mythical plurality of Joyce's here comes everybody trope, calling upon the Platonic concept of the ideal Jason, not Jason's.


They now have stores in Taiwan as well.


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FYI, Dairy Farms' low-end, peasant-level consumables are slapped up at Seven-Eleven, and cheap, peasant-level consumable furniture at their IKEA stores.

Singapore expats, being equal with HK expats (often indistinguishable, often the same individuals) as the world's most conspicuously conspicuous consumers, love throwing away their money at the place. S$19 for a tub of strawberries? You beaut!

There's a new Jasons opening around the corner from E@LGHQ vewwwy vewwwy soon. You can bet E@L will be there whenever his recipes call for organic fennel bulbs (which used to be a giant weed growing free and untended along the riverbanks of the Barwon River in Geelong) and biodynamic rhubarb, chia seeds, or gluten free peanut butter.

BTW, the Hong Kong brand equivalent Cold Storage is Wellcome, and Jasons is known in HK, I believe, if I believe Wikipaedia that is, as MarketPlace By Jason.

They all seem to be doing very well, with 2013's world-wide total sales "in excess" (redundant*) of US$11Billion, thank you very much.

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However, on another little island with a more celebrated military history**, Jasons didn't really work out all that well...


Valletta, Malta


E@L

* since when has $11Billion NOT been an excess.

** the whole frackin' island was awarded the St George Cross! I bet the Maltese people, 1,300*** of whom had died as the Italians and then the Germans carpet bombed the place, were satisfied with that...



*** just over half of the number of people in the Nigerian towns around Baga killed by Boko Haram Islamists two weeks ago. (No medal awarded.)



(Point of this post? These photos of course.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Six Sentences


1. When Michel Faber was writing his most recent, and last he says, novel, his wife was dying.

2. Writing is a solitary career: you have be alone and uninterrupted to write, he told the interviewer from Guardian Books.

3. You can't write a novel and yet be physically with the woman you love, even while she is incrementally dying in the next room and you know your days together are limited.

4. But she wanted him to keep on and to finish writing the novel, because she loved him too and knew that he needed to finish writing it, perhaps because it was a novel about love and separation, coincidentally.

5. She offered him a compromise: That he write six sentences day.

6. This he did, and he finished the novel before she died.



(paraphrased by) E@L


[I couldn't quite place his accent - is it Australian? I had always thought him Scottish, perhaps because of Under The Skin. Turns out he was born in Holland, went to school in Australia, where no doubt that soft, ESL, accent was developed, and now he lives in Scotland. All these countries claim him as their own.]

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tontine Therapy

The trusty old CPAP has its benefits, that is for certain.

A recap:

Among E@L's many deviations is his septum, thanks to his nose's interception of a speeding, suddenly expanding in size and eclipsing the batsmen and the steel pole of the net off which it ricocheted, cricket ball, way back when No1 son was a rising star in the juniors and his own weaknesses in those left-arm round-the-wicket mediums were becoming obvious, slipping to well-bashable slows and he was ignominiously dropped to the 3rds, were no one could bat so it didn't matter that he could no longer bowl (shin splints, rotator cuff). Add precipitous weight gain to that, also thanks to cricket, viz: the copious beers and sausages in wrapped white bread and ingested in a thrice weekly ritual (the game and training) integral to the social aspect of playing in the 3rds, in a 2nd Div district league of a non-descript provincial city in a distant country girt by sea, and you have a person who snores, a person whom someone can easily HATE. E@L has told you all this..

That shattered ethmoidal plate has restricted his air intake capacity too, and he finds it difficult to breathe with sufficient efficiency when right lateral decubitus. Those BreatheRight nasal strips help, but only so much, and they don't prevent his snoring.

Industrial strength snoring, as mentioned. And eventually he developed sleep apnoea as well. It took an inordinate time for E@L to discover this, and its severity, sleeping as he used do back in that land-girt, open-cut mine, alone. No doubt much of the blame for the brain-rot which afflicts his cogitative abilities and his (what was it again?) memory can be directly directed at these frequent near-ischaemic episodes. There was no-one there to prod him, gently or otherwise, out of his semi-comatose state, to rouse him, to shake him, to kick his shin, to stuff a pillow over his face and press, press, press until the snoring stopped.

So E@L snored on: he dropped his soft-palate, stopped breathing for 20secs and, spluttering into state just below consciousness, took a great last gasp in order to breathe again for a few seconds. And the cycle of little-deaths started, and so he grew dumber and dumber and... [fuck, this is starting to sound like a fairy-tale!]

~~~~~~~~~~~~

E@L is using his third CPAP, one especially designed for travelling: it's lighter, smaller, etc... His main machine sits at home, unloved for long periods like this current three week stint in Thailand, and it has a humidifier, which makes it a bit bulky to cart around. The small portable one's base is a bit slippery so he places it (upside down so it doesn't suck in all the bed-bugs) on the bed next to the pillows. The hose he wraps over the pillows and the nasal-plug mask is light and barely noticeable if he keeps his nose-hair and moustache trimmed (hence the hipsterish half-height mo). It is a simple matter to turn off the machine, easily de-nasalify the plugs and trundle off to the toilet...

AIYAH! those bathroom lights. Why so fracking bright!

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There are several advantages to sleeping with CPAP.

Well, number one, fucking obviously, is that he can breathe properly and not wake the sleeping hooker(s), nor, in the cheaper places E@L stays, the guy in the next hotel room and his hooker(s). And not choke and effectively cut off the blood supply to his (E@L's, not the guy in the next room) brain by dropping his oxygen saturation to coma level in that apnoeic half-minute.

Second, or third if you count the last sentence which is really a follow on from the number one benefit, he can sleep under the sheets.

Third/corollary to Third/Fourth/whatever: he (or his hooker) can fart while his head is under the sheets because his air supply is coming from the CPAP on the outside! Brilliant!

Fifth (fuck it): E@L has never tried this, but he supposes he could use it as a cunnilingus snorkel if he were that way inclined (to sexually gratify a hooker, pffft!). Carefully clean with an antiseptic wipe after each use.

And sixth, he can sleep on his stomach, face into the Tontine, and not suffocate. Awesome, as he often tosses this way and that as he tries to drop off, and might end up face-down [end UP face DOWN ha!] a few times.

But why (other than the hypothetical cunnilingual point) is E@L under the sheets, you ask. Not just to see if he can Dutch Oven himself faultlessly, but also to hide his alcoholically lucifugous eyes and, by extension (the optic nerves), his brain, from the all those hotel room lights: eerie green and red USB chargers, the red glowing fuse-confirmer of his multi-plug extension cord, the slow blinking fire-detector, the ineluctable glow through curtain which never quite closes off the big city's 24hr bright lights. But all this candle power is never enough to light up the path for his 4am trip to the bathroom and to enable him roughly determine the correction of his direction. And so, on go those retinal blasting lights every time.

But new on the scene is an eyemask, one from Singapore Airlines. Black. From First Class, the time he got that well-overdue upgrade. (Yes you can ask for them anytime, and you get them in business class, but not the black ones - it's like the black Amex, they are only for the high, um, fliers.)

What E@L does now is sleep with both the CPAP and eye-mask on. And, get this, with the blinds open! That way, when his bladder wakes him there is enough ambient light to either wake the AEI-worker for another go with his piss-hardon, or to trundle to the loo and not turn on the lights!

Why didn't he think of this simple life-hack earlier? It's brilliant, amazing, life hacking, he means life-changing. He is even considering sending it to Corey Doctorow so it can go viral on BoingBoing, or even LifeHacker itself.

~~~~~~~~~~

But! (There's always a "but", like when females tell you that they love you, bu-u-ut something about why they hate you as well. "I love you bu-u-ut you fucking snore like a fucking demented animal, getoutofmylifenow!" for example.

Bu-u-ut, the dye in the black eyemask comes off.

Oh NO!

It's not onto E@L's face thankfully but, to the horror of the hotel's laundry (he anticipates), it does silhouettes of itself onto the pillow, like the shadows of evaporated humans on the walls of Hiroshima. You can almost track E@L's nocturnal movements (body movements, not bowel) from its telltale marks. Oh dear.


Ah well, he sighs and admits to his privileged, arrogant, white-mans-burden, post-colonial self, it's a small price to pay for not having to turn on the bathroom lights.

He means it may be tough on the laundry staff, but it's a small price to pay for

E@L

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Gone

The thoughts have flown, as they always do, 'twixt shower and computer, and I seem to be at a loss for what it was I thought so urgently a few minutes ago, under the aquatic flux, needed to be said.

It was important, deep, worthy of writing in stone. It has instead been drained in water.

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It was, I vaguely recall, on the loss of the muse. A frequently expounded theme.

I was looking for something back in old posts and couldn't find it - perhaps it was on the previous, pre-Blogger, no-longer-visible (some PHP parsing change has completely fucked it) E@L blog. But this allowed me to wallow in some nostalgia with the 800 odd posts still available here on Blogger.

Fuck, I was funny. Even when people didn't think I was, I was: I knew that jokes were nevertheless hidden in there. Jokes only I cared about, only I got, because they were so personal and obscure. I don't even have that anymore.

I can't do that anymore.

I can't even sit down and write properly anymore: instead I wallow in this disgusting and unreadable self pity.

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Hey! Great bottle of way-overpriced wine at Gaucho's, the generally overpriced Argentinian restaurant in BKK. (Makes my Woolloomoolloo places in HK and Singapore look ... about the same). Torbreck's Woodcutters - their easy, early drinking Shiraz. I normally take a bottle of The Standish, but this tasted superb after a coupla months of my eschewing of red-wine (mostly, Monday didn't count) as it gives me all sorts of unmentionable intestinal issues (never trust a fart!). Beware the next coupla days.

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Now I am still a little pissed and aware of my failings.

How about you?

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But I did a review for Goodreads. No wonder I am feeling melancholy.

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The Nice Old Man and the Pretty GirlThe Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl by Italo Svevo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Ah. Ah. The characteristic mild mix of pathos, ironic humour and profundity that permeates all of Svevo's work.

An old man (about my age) falls in... love? lust? with a beautiful young woman as she drives her trolley (what we in Melbourne might call a tram) in Trieste at the start of the Great War. Well, we've all been there (I certainly have), falling in love, I mean, with a lovely, clean (she bathes once a day) young woman, inappropriately. She comes around to see (euphemism) him at his insistence a few times, and he gives her some money, but he decides to slow it down for it seems his conscience is troubling him. Then he has a severe angina attack (we've all been there - I certainly have) which makes him reflect on both his mortality and then further on the morality of what they have been doing.

He decides to write something to instruct her (as well as continue to send her money) - but this turns into a larger work on the morality of the responsibilities of age. What does youth owe to old age, and how should old people instruct young people; those who, although they are incapable of understanding this, will become old and near death one day themselves? As his heart keeps giving out (not a metaphor) he tries to prepare this treatise for publication, hoping that it will explain the moral dilemma he faces to the world, but his doctor, who listens to his arguments, is not impressed...

What is to become of this quandary, what will his treatise achieve? As he admits on his last written pages: Nothing, nothing, nothing.

~~~

This is stylistically not his best work by a considerable margin, the story doesn't flow quite perfectly, but Svevo nevertheless skewers the guilt and regret of men as they age, as he did so remarkably in Zeno's Conscience and particularly As A Man Grows Older. And I am currently experiencing it.

The term "tragico-comic" could have created just for Svevo. Or for me.



View all my reviews

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Yeah. Sad old man.

E@L

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Religious Certitude 101



20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Joshua 6 (NIV)


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Gaza = Jericho. Discuss. Calmly if possible.


E@L

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dinner For All


Just a little indigression on food to avoid posting food pics and waffling on in a most nostalgic way on FB.

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As you all know by now, E@L and Izzy (SPGica domestica) and her beau Danijel (how many frackin' guy called Dan does E@L know? fuck!) traipse off around the world a coupla times a year. Summer here, summer there. Often with Odette, Izzy's sister, as well. Absolutely the best times of E@L's recent life.

We've done the Croatian coast, Cambodia and Laos, Tuscany, Belgium, and Cebu. Probably some other unforgettable places that E@L can't recall just now. All fantastic. E@L only had two heart attacks on these trips. One involved an inappropriate lust attack in Hvar and the other involved an inopportune angina attack in San Gimingaino. Won't tell you which was the more painful.

 Cat, Izzy, Danijel, Odette: Split, Croatia

Arty-farty camera tricks: Luang Prabang riverside, Laos

The front lawn/breakfast/dinner nook in Tuscany

Six types of lobster: ?Antwerp, Belgium

The ferry from Negros to Cebu, Philippines

~~~~~

And now, as in soon, as in a few weeks, we are going together to Malta.

Malta.

At first, like you, E@L be thinkin': Malta? Meh.

But as it happens he had recently read Empires Of The Sea, about the 16th century siege of Malta, amongst other nautical shenanigans involving the Ottomans and the Kerniggets Hospitaller the Hapsburgs, and found it fascinating - educational and entertaining, erudite and mildly erectile. And speaking of which, of course, as E@L twigs eventually, Thomas Pynchon's V. is set for a considerable chunk of pages in Valletta (as imagined from his Baedeker and library researches of the place) - so E@L reread that not unsubstantial tome. And realised there were several obliquely prurient scenes that he used to masturbate to as younger man. (Hmm. Not on the plan to revisit those periods of his life, but hey, whilst the tissues are handy...)

The reason for this trip to Malta, much less sensually, seems to be that Valletta was used in some outside shots as Kings Landing in Game Of Thrones, first season.



These friends of mine are obsessed.

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Another of the things that Izzy and D are passionate about, as are all cool people, is good food. Or at least expensive food. And home-cooked expensive good food. On our trips they usually have a hit list of top places to eat and sometimes we have to book in advance to get seats, but also they like to experiment in the kitchen - with food, E@L reminds you correctively - when back home in their cozy nook in The Hague just up the road from the Escher museum.

We experimented with poached eggs last time E@L was there, for example. And roast carrot soup and jellied tarragon infused vodka or something...





All sorts of activities in The Hague (note the crisp sage leaves).

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So E@L is currently working up a dinner plan for New Years in response, when they (E@L presumes) come to Singapore for a few days prior to our next Southern Hemisphere trip.

The experiment tonight was Roast Cauliflower Soup, with a few of his own crispy sage leaves on top. Why the fuck not.

Step One: put the oiled up cauliflowerettes into the overheated oven and burn the fuck out of them in 15 minutes. No photo, lots of smoke.

Step Two: walk to shop and buy new head of cauliflower.

Step Three: oil up, etc, but don't have the oven as hot and keep checking!

Step Four: sweat onions and garlic then add chicken stock (not home-made) with the browned cauli and simmer for 15-20mins.


Step Five: add coconut milk and whizz around in the Kenwood Over-The-Top-Complicated (it was on special) Food Processor what E@L used for the first time today.


Step Six: Put in bowl and garnish with brown-butter crisped sage leaves and a rescued roasted flowerette and observe how it looks for all the world like hummus.

Tasted very good, but it was too thick and the cauli was still slightly rice-like. Maybe E@L didn't put in the complete 3 cups of chicken stock, or maybe the cauliflower was oversize for the proportions of the liquid... And perhaps one could mash it through a sieve or something to make it look smoother.

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Followed up by some lamb chops supposedly encrusted in thyme and rosemary salt, cooked to grandma's specifications (i.e. well done so you can eat the crisp fat without gagging) and with some simple steamed veggies (and a dobbed knob of butter).

Mmm-mmm. Definitely maybe the start of a menu for the anticipated end of year dinner party at E@LGHQ.

Keep checking your mail for the invite.

E@L

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Storming Of The Pastilles



Happy Bastille Day!

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Showing his mastery of Photoshop is...

E@L

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