The organised chaos

A post about being Hainanese

I just devoured a hefty plate of delectable, authentic Hainanese chicken rice by myself and I am feeling fat and satisfied. It had cost me only $2 but boy, was it good. I finished every morsel of it, from the last grain of oily rice to the last bit of fatty smooth skin.

Go to any hawker centre or food court and you will definitely find a so-called Hainanese chicken rice stall in it. Based on my personal experience, what differentiates the frauds from the real McCoy is the chili. The real thang will never come with those silly sweetish orange-red chili that you find in the Loy Kees or the whatnots. We, the real thang, will use ginger, mashed and pounded to perfection. Some might mix it with chili and others just dunk their chicken pieces into pure, pounded ginger and let the chicken roll in ginger juice.

I like being a Hainanese. I like how it’s not too common, that when people ask me for my dialect, they will exhaust their list of the usual Cantonese, Teochew, Hokkian etc. before I inform them, pertly, that I am a Hainanese. It helps, too, that people always say that Hainanese girls are pretty, that we have nice eyes (hur hur hur, no mention of the men though). I like it that the dialect doesn’t sound too coarse, and that it has not been mangled to death by expletives-spouting NS boys. This is especially important when you want to curse someone (“buay lor mai!”) and that person has no idea what you are talking about (actually, neither do I).

The best thing that I like about being a Hainanese is my empowering surname. It’s so uniquely Hainanese, I still haven’t found someone from other dialects who bears this name. When I was a kid, I used to bask in the glory of it, because everyone who had just found out about my surname would inevitably ask me, “Which Chinese word is it?” And after I had explained it to them that yes, it is Dragon (roarrr!), their eyes would widen in astonishment.

In fact, I love my surmame so much so that I wish my future offspring could take the name. This means that I would either have to marry a man with the same name (what if we share the same great-great-great-grandfather?) or persuade my husband to let the kid-that-I-had-carried-to-term-for-nine-months-and-then-subsequently-had-a-painful-labour-to-pop-it-out take my name. Hmm.

Because both my parents are Hainanese, this makes me a 100% pure product. Maybe I should go find a nice Hainanese boy to be my future partner and together, we can create more 100% Hainanese products too.

Arts & Entertainment

The Time Traveler’s Wife

I’m an avid reader of monoceros weblog, a blog which I had stumbled upon by accident while googling “Corrinne May”. I was immediately drawn to Vanessa’s (the author) elegant yet simple style of writing, which I very much prefer to Singapore’s most famous blogger (let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…), and have been surfing regularly to her blog ever since.

In one of her postings, she waxed lyrical about a book, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and her review, together with the synopsis, piqued my interest. I finally bought the book recently, thanks to my 20% discount coupon from Kinokuniya.

And she was right, the book is indeed excellent, and I was left wondering why it took me so darn long to buy it.

Imagine this: Clare meets her future husband, Henry, when she was six and he was 36. When they were married, she was 22 and he was 30. How is that possible, you ask. The premise of the book is that Henry suffers from a genetic disorder, causing him to time travel. He gets pulled back into the past or hurtles forward to the future, by neither his will nor control. He brings nothing with him when he travels but his own self – no clothes, no money, nothing but flesh, skin and teeth.

While it sounds incredulous and totally sci-fi, rest assured that it is not. Author Audrey Niffenegger delves deep into an exploration of Clare and Henry’s relationship, weaving a tale about the intense joy and love they share while together in past, present and future, the piercing worry – and sometimes jealousy – that Clare feels whenever Henry disappears and the heartbreaking trials and tribulations they go through in their quest to remain as “normal” as possible. The narration alternates between Clare and Henry, bringing the reader into the bizarre yet poignant world that they share.

The book leaves you pondering about the nature of Time, and its fluidity. Time is both consecutive and concurrent, the past, present and future are co-existing in the same realm. Time is not absolute, it flows and changes at will. Time loops and is also parallel to itself.

While Vanessa felt that the book was reminiscent of the Korean hit movie, My Sassy Girl, the movie that came to my mind immediately was the critically acclaimed Before Sunset, which I so loved. Like the movie, I had felt as if I was quietly observing the world of Clare and Henry as someone who knew them. With every turn of the page, I found myself pondering their fates, hoping against hope that they will beat the odds.

This is truly one of the most compelling reads I have ever come across. Don’t believe me? Try a sample chapter and you will definitely be hooked.

The rights to the book were apparently bought by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, pre-divorce.

[Let’s play tag! ]

The organised chaos

An interview with yAnn

This is quite a nice website, yAnn.
Why, thank you! Don’t you think that my new website is just gorgeous? Wait, don’t answer because I had meant it to be a rhetorical question. Of course, this is the prettiest website you have ever seen. I know, because the website designer happens to be my very sweet and wonderful boyfriend. Right, gush gush gush.

How much did it cost you?
Err, nothing? Maybe a hug and a kiss. But that’s it.

You cheapskate. How long have you been blogging?
I’ll have you know that my hugs and kisses are highly sought after. The queue goes all the way to JB. Even my hair stylist flirts with me and no, he is not gay.

Anyway, this is the third incarnation of my blog, having started with Blogger‘s the organised chaos back in 2003. A year ago, I moved to be a cyber squatter with in transit and now, I have a little web space of my own.

Why yannisms?
Because that’s my name?

My family has been calling me Yann ever since I was a wee kid and yannisms is really a term for all the things that I say and do. I used to say that all the warped logic that I spout are the “yannisms of life” and it just stuck, I guess. So there you go.

I thought you were going on a “hiatus” not-so-long ago. Is that warped logic too?
Yes, I did say that I was going to take a break but then I realised that I couldn’t stop writing. It’s just in me to write, writing is part of what defines me as me. It’s either wasting bytes or killing trees. Since I have grown to prefer typing to writing, I decided to choose bytes.

Why do you blog then? Is it because you are a narcissist at heart?
Why do you think I plaster pictures of my beautiful self all over my blog? Of course I am narcissistic! I’m just one stop short of putting up my nekkid pictures on my site. Actually, I thought about it and decided not to, in case those pictures drive away what little audience I have. I am not that snowing girl (as Ash calls her), you know. I’ll be happy to get 80 hits a day, let alone 8,000.

Why do you think you even have 80 hits?
I’m not sure either, you know. Initially, my blog was used to keep in contact with my university friends, affectionately known as bloggies. And then somehow, people just started dropping in. Even my ex-colleagues got onto the act and started hollering at me across the office to say that they have read my blog. Bizarre.

But I did get email from people to say that they identify with the things that I write, that they appreciate my frankness and openess, that they feel comforted that they are not the only losers in the world. Not that I am a loser, of course.

If you say so. What can we expect from your site next?
I’m trying to get my photos page up and running. Still haven’t decided if I should use photos from my Flickr page or host them on the boyfriend’s server (cyber-squatting again).

I am also toying with the idea of writing, not blogging. Writing prose, poetry….stuff that I used to do in school. Ah the good ‘ol angsty times when words and thoughts just flowed so eloquently.

Well, thanks for your time. Isn’t it time for bed soon?
Nah, think I’ll go catch an episode of Lost before I sleep. And then get to work late the next morning. Brilliant. I hope my current employers don’t know of the existence of this site.


Hurray! yAnn’s gorgeous site is up and running!

[Let’s play tag! , ]

Little Miss Shopaholic

Have bag, will summer

Ever since the Great Singapore Sale has started, Little Miss Shopaholic’s haul has been less than impressive. The most expensive outing she had recently was at bookstore Kinokuniya, where she utilized the 20% discount coupons to great satisfaction, causing her to be $50 poorer. Yes, LMS is an intellectual reader/bargain hunter and she bought four books on discount!

Unfortunately, shops in Singapore bore her periodically. Which is when online shopping comes in handy but then again, shipping can be such a bitch.

Tsk tsk, no more negative thoughts.

LMS recently underwent a Coach phase, where she would surf to the Coach website and look longingly at the pictures of the gorgeous Coach wallets and bags. There was one summer bag that caught LMS’ discerning attention – a cutesy straw bag with butterflies and flowers appliqué. The straps were in white, brown or black leather and they were little boxy handheld totes that were just the perfect accessories for the summer. LMS imagined holding on to this teeny baby, wearing her new strappy straw wedges and a brightly-coloured babydoll smocked dress.

But alas, LMS could only look and swoon because the cost of that cute tote was prohibitive. Imagine then, to her immense surprise, she found look-alikes in Charles and Keith!

Now, we all know that Charles and Keith is a homegrown shoe boutique that has made good here and elsewhere. Applause please! But sadly, LMS has lost interest in the brand, for the designs were never kitschy or attractive enough for her to be willing to plonk S$30 for them. She would rather pay a wee bit more at shops like Substance, Tangs or Hue.

Back to the story of the Coach look-alikes. Yes, there they were! Little boxy totes in different sizes, with black, white or brown leather straps! The resemblance was just uncanny. The prices were competitive too, about S$35. When LMS was at the suburban Sengkang outlet, she saw likeminded women snapping up those bagseys.

LMS says: Go grab them for what’s left of summer!

Coach bags wannabes

PS LMS was a thrifty diva and hence, did not buy the bag. Watching bank accounts grow can be fun. And these are not the real thang, but other doppleganger.

Arts & Entertainment

Corrinne May in concert

I’ll be catching Corrinne May live in concert this coming August, and I can’t wait for it!

She’s been one of my favourite singers ever since a kind soul loaned me a copy of her debut album, Fly Away. I could listen to those 12 songs on that album over and over again without ever feeling bored or sickened. Such is the beauty of her mellow voice and poignant lyrics.

While her voice is not as haunting as Joni Mitchell or Sarah MacLachlan’s, her songs are similar to theirs. Reflective, musing, open…they are great for those late nights when the world has fallen silent and your heart is at peace.

She performed at the Esplanade this year for the New Year countdown and while watching, I found that my cheeks were wet with tears despite the none-too-perfect open air acoustics, on/off rain and hordes of people crowding around the amphitheatre. And now that she is on tour for her new album, Safe in a Crazy World, I could not pass up the chance to see her sing live again.

Highly recommended.

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Details here.

PS She’s got a blog too.

[Let’s play tag! ]

Everything Else

Different strokes, different folks

Okay, I did say that I was going to go on a hiatus and was planning not to come back till the website is up (yes, Zhiyang, it’s my very own domain yay!) but I’ve been surfing around and I’m rather unsettled by what I am reading.

So, there was this gigantic hooha about She-Who-I-Shall-Not-Name (henceforth known as SWISNN) and her nude photos which she had posted on her blog. Discussions ranged from her right to do so to the (ab)normality of her nipples.

I’m not interested in all that. Frankly, I think she has a nice body, puffy nipples and all, and if she enjoys that wee bit of exhibitionism, then that’s her choice. What is more disturbing is bloggers’ reaction to the small Stra*** Tim** article which picked up on her blog posting.

There are those who have bashed the article, wondering why the local press ran the story. Big brother is watching! they rant. Why are you intruding in our privacy and publishing our blogs, they harangue.

I’m genuinely puzzled. When the press doesn’t write about issues which the blogging community deems as ‘big’ or ‘important’, they smirk and say that the media is not catching on to breaking news fast enough and question the professionalism of journalists. And now that the naked SWISNN picture has created a stir in the blogosphere and the journalists write about it, they are considered as being intrusive and their professionalism is questioned.

If SWISNN doesn’t enjoy the attention, why would she put up her nude photos, debatable nipples and all, on her blog which has a healthy readership of 3,000? If nobody likes the attention, why would people gush coyly about being browned and tomorrowed? You enjoy attention, here, it’s served to you on a silver platter.

The Internet is an open world. There is no such thing as privacy. Simply put, if you won’t want people to pick up on it, then don’t publish it.

But it’s the way the journalists have portrayed SWISNN that pisses us off, they argue.

I have read the article and I dare say that it was pretty unobjective, factual. I didn’t come away feeling as if SWISNN had been wronged or portrayed as a slut. She gave her comment, edited or otherwise, and there was no judgment made on her by the journalists. They ran a comment that was for her, and one that was against her. They questioned a lawyer about the legality of the issue. In what way was she ever portrayed negatively?

Look, all you journalists like to edit comments that render them out of context, they sneer.

Of course the comments are edited, there is only so much space in a publication for a story. In this case, looking at the supposed original comments, I don’t think the published ones deviate very much from them.

If you agree to be interviewed, please do not expect all your comments to be published. And as much as edited comments should retain their original meanings, there can be times when journalists have to extract certain quotes to fit the chosen news angle.

You as an interviewee may have your own idea of how the story should go but ultimately, the journalists and the editors are the ones who pick the angle. They are the ones in the business of media, not you, and they know what would appeal to the wider audience that their publication targets. You may have written it with a different angle but that’s you, targeting your audience.

Little Miss Shopaholic

Go forth and experiment!

There are times when the feathers of Little Miss Shopaholic get so terribly ruffled.

See, LMS does not believe in wearing “safe” outfits all the time. While she enjoys going back to the basics on occasion, she does not think that basics equates to everyday. Sure, that pair of legs-lengthening Levis topped with a cute little camisole looks grrrreat but dahhling, you cannot wear that sort of combi everyday, you know. So boring.

So LMS tries to mix and match, and put together contrasting looks. A tube dress doubling as a tunic worn over a pair of chocolate-brown tight jeans. A business shirt in white and blue stripes made casual by pulling one side over the other to form an asymmetric neckline, instead of the normal straight buttoning. A glittery, baby blue and white paisley top with this season’s favourite city shorts, ending with a pair of ballet pumps. White, resort-y gauchos and a brilliant blue snug polo tee, paired with blue suede wedge heels. Black pleated babydoll chiffon top over a tube top, topped with a cropped khaki shrug, a la SJP in Sex and the City.

But alas! For all her imagination and creativity, LMS is often the recipient of comments like “You look strange”. Or “these don’t go”. Sigh, no wonder Singapore has such a disastrous lack of artists!

LMS is still on the right end of the trailblazing 20s’ and she refuses to be apologetic for being daring. As a local fashion scribe says, it’s alright for a lamb to look like a lamb or a mutton, but totally gross for a mutton to masquerade as lamb.

So LMS says, “If there’s any time for fashionable lasses to experiment and try, it’s now!”

Don’t be afraid of snide comments, of cynical second looks, of discouraging shakes of heads. LMS gives you her blessings to go ahead and be a daring trendsetter instead of looking just like any other girl on the street!

Cool bermudas

Who says bermudas cannot be sexy?

Friends, Photography

Darth Maul at Upper East Coast Road

Star Wars @ Upper East Cost Road!
Originally uploaded by yannie.

Talk about cheap lightsabres, these people were using hollow tubes made of cardboard back in 2002!

‘Twas a costume party for VC and the theme was Movie Madness. Oh, the fun we had then! We had Sherlock Holmes (Nelson), Medusa (Sandy), Titania (Jane), Austin Powers (GQ), Juliet (Dee) and Hogwarts students (Popartgirl and me). The best thing was that most of us had no inhibitions, we weren’t thinking to ourselves, oh I look stupid and we were just hamming it up in front of everybody.

Sadly, we never had that much fun in another VC party ever. Most of the new people after that were just not into such kitschy crap.

But it’s alright. I have memories of ‘Darth Maul’ and ‘Imperial Guard’ to elicit a chuckle out of me once in a while.