Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 31

Silvester in Singapore

Soundtrack: Et barn er født i Betlehem, i Betlehem, a Norwegian translation of the 14th C Latin Hymn Puer natus in Bethlehem, sung by Bukkene Bruse, a Norwegian folk group. Words and music may be found here.

Why's the title of this post 'Silvester in Singapore'? I discovered recently that Germans, Poles, and Central Europeans refer to New Year's Eve as Silvester/Sylvester because 31st Jan is the feastday of Pope St Sylvester. Fascinating!

Had dinner with my parents earlier - a Shanghainese feast. We decided that since I won't be in Singapore when Chinese New Year comes round in Feb., we might as well move our traditional Chinese Reunion Dinner to the earlier New Year's Eve. Traditions were made for men, not the other way, after all.

I got a text message from a friend today - he's a trained nurse, and he's volunteered to go to Sri Lanka for 2 weeks as part of the humanitarian relief programme. He leaves tomorrow, and I have the greatest respect for him. Nicholas Wong, we salute you.

A rather curious way of describing my grandmother having returned to health passed my mum's lips.... an amusing cantonese expression: "可以打老虎" - literally, "able to fight a tiger". Ha, very cute.

Πέμπτη, Δεκεμβρίου 30

Dii Hoc Avertant Omen

Soundtrack: Taedet animam meam from Cristobal de Morales' Officum Defunctorum, sung by the Hilliard Ensemble.

All of us already know of the horrible disaster all over the coastal regions of East Africa, India, Sri Lanka and the West of Southeast Asia. Whichever religious tradition one may belong to, say a prayer for those departed and those left living, and make a contribution to the relief funds.

It's a sobering thought - my flight from London to Bangkok was full (to every last seat) of Brits heading for the summery paradise of the Thai islands from the wintery cold of the British Isles. How many of those were on the islands struck by the Tsunami, I can only guess. I'm moved to quote some extracts from the Latin Requiem Mass - the service for the departed.
Lux aeterna luceat eis Domine
cum sanctis tuis in aeternum:
quia pius es.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine;
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Cum sanctis tuis in aeternum:
quia pius es.
Let everlasting light shine upon them, O Lord
with Thy saints for ever:
for Thou art merciful.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord;
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
With Thy saints for ever
for Thou art merciful.

I've heard that some detection agency in India claims there will be another earthquake and tidal wave coming. I hope it's just dodgy Indian technology.

Dii hoc avertant omen - may the Gods avert this omen!

Goofy North Korean Blogs

Several spoof Kim Jong-Il blogs, all hilarious:





Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 27

Two Articles from Lew Rockwell

Soundtrack: Ebben?..Ne Andrò Lontana from Catalani's opera La Wally, in a lounge-ish version by Paul Schwartz from his album Aria II.

It’s Time To Put the Christ Back in Christmas…and in Christianity, Too -
American Christians increasingly see the babe in the manger as sweet but irrelevant when it comes to the way we treat others at home and abroad.

Many Christians today see Jesus as their ticket to heaven, and little more. When it comes to political philosophy, they much prefer the wrathful, violent images of God that are found in selected verses from other parts of the Bible.

Christians who take seriously the Sermon on the Mount may not be in The Moral Majority, but that doesn't mean we're wrong: It means we're The Christian Minority, following Jesus at a time when many Christians are following men.

This Christmas, let us celebrate the passions of the Christ – the teachings he gave to a troubled world – and honor him by bringing him back into Christmas, and into Christianity, too. Jesus called for a revolution of the heart and the soul. Let it begin with us.

Christmas Flap -
It is stupid and intolerant in the extreme to ban the singing of Christmas carols by school choirs or glee clubs. Much of the most beautiful music written has been inspired by religion. I've never heard of anyone claiming that a symphony orchestra that performed Handel's "Messiah" was attempting to establish religion. Singing religious songs is not establishing religion. It is recognizing that much of the world's great art has been religious-based.

People who claim to be "offended" by the sights or sounds from another religion brand themselves as bigots. Beauty is beauty, whether its inspiration is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist. In a plural society, there is no room for such bigotry. Religion as art or history is allowable in public schools. Timid school administrators should just say to bigots, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, and if you think hearing 'Joy to the World' is going to make your ears fall off or endanger your soul, then don't attend the concert."

Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 25

A Sad New Carol: Go Ye From Bethlehem

In the town where Christians believe Christ was born, the Christians are leaving.

Four years of violence, an economic free fall and the Israeli separation barrier have all contributed to the hardships facing Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, one of the largest concentrations of Christians in the region.

An estimated 3,000 Christians in the Bethlehem area have moved abroad since the Palestinian uprising began in 2000... there is a consensus that 10 percent or more of the Christian population in Bethlehem and two adjoining towns has departed.

The continuing exodus has left Christians accounting for only about 21,500 of the 60,000 Palestinian residents in the area, or about 35 percent, according to Mr. Sabella. "Christians all over the world need to know this reality," said Hanna Nasser, a Christian who is the mayor of Bethlehem. "If there is not a breakthrough in the peace process, this trend will continue. Imagine the town of Bethlehem without Christians."

Bethlehem's central square should be packed for Christmas celebrations, but the tourists and pilgrims stopped coming when the fighting began...

Bethlehem was more than 90 percent Christian until the middle of the last century.
Link from Serge's Blog

Pagans for Proper Churches

A heathen Aussie despairs of modern cheap-jack ecclesial architecture and (jokingly) suggests she found Pagans for Proper Churches as a remedy. If even the postmoderns are criticizing the current artistic void within Christianity, we, my lords, ladies and gentlemen, are in deep existential poo. Insightful stuff from Down Under.
- from The Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

Well worth a read, worth the registration.

Music Shuffle

As per Mr Brown
1. Open up the music player on your computer.
2. Set it to play your entire music collection.
3. Hit the "shuffle" command.
4. Tell us the title of the next ten songs that show up (with their musicians), no matter how embarrassing. That's right, no skipping that Carpenters tune that will totally destroy your hip credibility. It's time for total musical honesty.
5. Write it up in your blog or journal and link back to at least a couple of the other sites where you saw this.
6. If you get the same artist twice, you may skip the second (or third, or etc.) occurances. You don't have to, but since randomness could mean you end up with a list of ten song with five artists, you can if you'd like.

1) Kastalsky: Lord I have cried unto Thee - sung by the Novospassky Monastery Choir, on the album Russian Chant for Vespers.

2) Wu-Wei - from Klause Wiese's album Ming Noir.

3) Obrecht: Jay Pris Amours - played by Fretwork, from the album Petrucci - Harmonice Musices Odhecaton.

4) Bella, placa lo sgedno - a random recitative, from Marc Minkowski & Les Musiciens de Louvre's version of Händel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto.

5) Sonata Op.3 No.5, II. Aria: Gratioso by Les Musiciens de Louvre, dir. Marc Minkowski, from Mondonville: 6 Sonates en Symphonie.

6) Passacalles por la X - played by Rolf Lislevand, from Sanz & Santa Cruz - Lute Music from Spain.

7) Stabat Mater (RV 621): Eja mater, fons amoris. Largo - by Andreas Scholl, Ensemble 415, dir. Chiara Banchini, from Vivaldi: Stabat Mater.

8) Fascinating Rhythm - by Stephane Grappelli & Yehudi Menuhin, from Menuhin and Grappelli play Gershwin.

9) Les Soldados - by The Harp Consort, dir. Andrew Lawrence King, from La Púrpura de la Rosa.

10) Quarte Versets Du Motet: Ignitum eloquium - sung by Sophie Daneman, with Les Arts Florissants, dir. William Christie, from Couperin: Leçons de Ténébres.

Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 24

Brain Usage Profile

Your Brain Usage Profile:

Auditory : 11%
Visual : 88%
Left : 47%
Right : 52%

Edward, you exhibit balanced hemispheric dominance and a strong visual preference. It is the intensity of your sensory preference which may more determine your learning style.

The balance of left- and right-hemisphere usage is very helpful to a highly visual learner. You absorb your environment, selecting out details and simultaneously embedding them in a context, an overall perspective which adds nuances of meaning. Given the prodigious rate that you input information, you naturally utilize the services of both hemispheres more or less equally.

You are active and searching, which produces energy. Because you can process multiple inputs comfortably, you do not experience the indecision of a person with mixed sensory preference. You are able to focus on more than one aspect of a situation and push for resolution.

You can tolerate ambiguity, which is good, since you will experience a lot of it due to your input style. While a part of you will always seek completion, the other part will accept the process as it is. You may occasionally get impatient with yourself. You will always be able to work through problems in a logical sequence or given order, but you will have other options available to you as well.

You may find that you have insufficient time to reflect on your experiences and thus lose a sense of meaning, not appreciating your "inner being" as much as you might otherwise.

Many people would envy your combination of characteristics. Constantly seeking stimulation, you are artistic without needing to be "odd," an active learner and yet reasonably logical and disciplined.

(So where's the bit that says I get distracted by the hunky boys? Ah, that would be the 88% visual I suspect...)

More Silly Quizzes

You Are Green Tea Pocky

Your attitude: natural and zen
Peaceful yet full of life. Deep and thoughtful.
You're halfway to tantric bliss!

Va-Va-Voom! You're inner Bombshell is Mae West.
You've definitly got a lot of wit, a lot of
smarts, and you know how to use people to your
advantage. Ever heard the phrase "doesn't
take any crap from anybody"? Well that's
you! Just like Mae you never want to settle
down, and can't imagine being with just one man
for the rest of your life. You don't care about
conventions and have no filter from your brain
to you mouth. Check out the movie "She
Done Him Wrong" to see your inner
bombshell in all her voluptuous glory!

Who is your inner bombshell?
brought to you by Quizilla

You Are From Mercury

You are talkative, clever, and knowledgeable - and it shows.
You probably never leave home without your cell phone!
You're witty, expressive, and aware of everything going on around you.
You love learning, playing, and taking in all of what life has to offer.
Be careful not to talk your friends' ears off, and temper your need to know everything.

Bah Humbug or Leg of Lamb?

Soundtrack: Assorted Christmas carols sung by the Smurfs. No, I'm not kidding.

I'm cranky. It's Christmas Eve on the Gregorian calendar. I'm tired and jetlagged. My parents are out of town, taking care of Gran, who's been unwell (recovering well now, thankfully). So even though I don't celebrate Christmas on the same date (I observe 7th Jan), it's still annoying to be alone and tired on Christmas Eve. Can anyone blame me for being cranky?

So, taking Maria's advice (that's Maria from the Sound of Music, not some Filipino/Mexican maidservant), I'm remembering my favourite things, and then I won't feel so sad!

First thing that comes to mind is holiday food, and I'm reminded that I haven't posted my recipe for Roast Lamb with Hungarian Pickle Sauce yet, so here it is!


Now, I won't tell you how to roast a leg of lamb - you know how to do that already. Just make sure to stud it with lots of garlic before roasting. Rosemary is optional (I don't use it for this dish). Once the leg of lamb is done, remove from roasting pan and place aside for 10 minutes to cool down and allow the meat fibres to relax.

Naturally, the roasting pan will be full of lovely juices and brown sticky bits of pure flavour. What you do is put in a cup of hot water or wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula/spoon to loosen those brown bits, and basically ensuring all the juices and stuff gets dissolved into the wine/water. This is called deglazing. Boil till reduced by half. Reserve the liquid (strain it if the brown bits are really large, but I personally don't bother).

Now, for the pickle sauce, you'll need:

8-10 pickles/gherkins (2"-3")
handful of fresh parsley (if available)
handful of fresh thyme (if available)
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
the deglazed juices from earlier

Finely chop the pickles and give them a quick cooking in the saucepan with a good amount of butter. Once the pickles are cooked, add the deglazed pan juices from earlier, and the mustard. Heat till bubbling nicely, then add the thyme and parsley, the lemon juice, and the cream. The ideal colour is a very very very pale yellow-green, almost off-white. The mixture may be thickened with a little cornstarch.

The sauce is surprisingly good, as the tartness of the pickle and the lift given by the mustard go very well with the richness of the lamb. It also goes well with beef, as I discovered the next day, attempting to use up the abundant leftover sauce. I'd like to see how readers like the sauce - do give it a go and let me know!

Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 19

Ah, Anglicans...

Was at the King's College Christmas Carol service on Thursday. This is a lower-key service (in comparison to the Advent Carol Service series, which is very solemn and popular) for families. The Anglican chaplain invited children and anyone else, to come up into the sanctuary and draw their own Nativity scenes. Crayons and paper were provided. Oh, and of course, glitter.

Music was good, very old-fashioned.

One amusing moment was during the 'address', when the chaplain said "I'm going to say a few words about prayer, as there will be a point later in the service when we're going to pray". Uhm. Okaaaaaay.

This, incidentally, is the same chaplain who sent out an email to all the college email accounts, inviting everyone to evensnog.

The Most Annoying CV. Ever.

This is probably the most annoying CV EVER. You know you're in for a treat when it tells you that Flash is required to view it...

Also, you can also read about the guy who unleased the biggest productivity killer of all time.

- both links from the Old Oligarch.

I'm the French Guard???

French Guard
I'm French! Why do think I have this outrageous
accent, you silly king-a?!

What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 18


Soundtrack: Courante from Suite in A Minor for Harpsichord by Chambonnieres, played by Hanneke van Prosodij.

Ah. It has been a lovely few days.

Watched Blithe Spirit with René on Wednesday night- it was delightful. I so want to stage it now.

Naughtily, I watched The Woman in Black with Glenn on Thursday night. Not bad at all. I say naughtily, as I had a Latin test on Friday. Which went alright, Deo Gratias!

Had a brilliant evening last night out with Paul Engeham, a retired Royal Navy Lt Cmdr. 6.30 at the Army & Navy Club - there were 8 of us in total, worth a mention are Joseph Whited (25, US Navy), Mike Tench (20, First year, Real Estate Management at Oxford Brookes, kinda cute but SO young), Troy (34, former US Navy, now in Real Estate in Virginia), Owain Mulligan (21, final year Modern History, Christchurch College Oxford) and another fellow from Oxford whose name escapes me (and he reads something unmemorable... economics or something like that). The three Oxford chaps were all part-time junior officers or something like that.

Dinner was excellent, very old-fashioned, in a dining room with walls covered in old oil paintings of military figures. Port followed. We then adjourned to the East India Club for another round of drinks. Next stop was the Red Lion just round the corner. Then the Oxford & Cambridge Club for several more. Paul taught us all a fabulous drinking game, which I shall be sure to try out on anyone who asks!

In case anyone doesn't know, these are all Gentlemen's Clubs, located in Pall Mall, affectionately known as "Clubland" by the upper crust of British high society. Quite an experience - in these places, for hundreds of years, women were not permitted, and affairs of state and business were conducted here in the hushed drawing rooms and dining halls - one almost feels as if the days of the British Empire and the Raj were still alive and well, instead of being as dead as the bit of steak (incidentally, rare and very tasty) on my plate.

Oh, and my cellist friend Glenn from Singapore is here with me, auditioning for Trinity College of Music, and taking lessons from a Professor of Violoncello there. Pics of his visit (and a few of me) may be found here.

Πέμπτη, Δεκεμβρίου 16

Rosary during an annoying sermon

On all the beads, say:

"Dear God, when will it end?!"

Probably appropriate during most Novus Ordo services and all Protestant services (High-Anglican ones excepted). May also be used at any other unpleasant time.

Sic fatur lacrimans...

So I've filled out my examination registration forms.

I'm really glad I'm living in Central London again. One and a half years in Walthamstow, in Zone 3/4, was not fun, even though I was with a dear aunt. The travelling time really was a killer, not to mention travelcard expenses. 6 months in South Kensington... that was very, very nice. 1 month in Baker Street. then some 8 months in Hammersmith/Barnes was wonderful, a rather smart and upmarket area (i.e. no blacks or south asians). 1 month in Canning Town really was the pits. 8 weeks in Gower Street was fun - everything was within walking distance.

And now, I'm back in W1, in Fitzrovia. I'm 20 minutes from the Institute of Classical Studies and UCL, and some 40 minutes walk from KCL. This means I no longer have to pay some £25 a week for a travelcard, saving some £100 a month. Sure, I still buy weekend travelcards and the occasional day travelcard or day bus pass, but it's still a great saving of money and time. I can now finish a class at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, go home and vegetate/shower/change before going out to dinner or an evening out on the town.

Also, I can now stay out late with the fencers! as the pub we adjourn to after the University of London Union bar closes, is a mere 5 minutes drunken totter from where I now live.

Last night, after fencing, at the Union Bar, there was a visiting American naval officer, young, excellent fencer. He couldn't get used to the fact that British universities all have several bars/pubs in their Student Union buildings. In America, where the legal drinking age is 21, parents wouldn't stand for having a bar on the campus where their children study. In Britain, students wouldn't stand for NOT having a bar on campus where they study. Ah... culture shock.

Oh, more Mirko updates soon!

Dante. He was having a bad time at the court of his patron, Can Grande Della Scala. A conceited idiot at the court was being treated much better than Dante and one day this man asked the poet: "How is it that I, who am so ignorant, should be so rich and favoured while you, who are so learned and wise, should be a beggar?" Quick as a flash Dante gave the fool the perfect reply: "The reason is that you have found a lord that resembles you and when I find one who resembles me I shall no doubt be as rich as you."

Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 15

The Dutch Church

Growth of a 'new church': the Dutch experiment - This link was written in 1988 and explores the self-destruction of the Dutch Church and the underlying factors which paved the way. It's a worthy, but very depressing, read. - taken from The Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

A friend of ours (met over this blog!) told us of his encounter with some Dutch students. He asked, for whatever reason, how their grandparents were. "Grandparents?" the students asked. Yeah, you know: your parents' parents, everyone has them... "There are no grandparents in the Netherlands," was the dead-serious reply. They all move to France for fear they'll be euthanized.


I'd forgotten to mention I got a call from the airline last thursday morning - I now have a confirmed place on the flight home much earlier than I'd hoped! How that happened, as I was told I was 40+th on the waiting list for that flight, I don't know, and as long as I get home... I'm not about to ask what happened!

  • Meanwhile, Gran was in hospital in Malaysia over the weekend - heart failed, but she's ok now (apparently). Dad and mum are there keeping vigil. She's nearly 90. I'm just happy Gran's ok. We're nowhere near the same wavelength, but I love her to bits and vice-versa.

  • In other news, a few weeks ago René brought back a copy of the Imperial College newsletter Felix, where in a review of the play Becket they had a picture of a 13th Century manuscript illumination, and said anyone who could translate the Latin in the picture would get an honourable mention in the next issue. René and I, both budding palaeographers, figured none of the science nerds at Imperial would be able to decipher the script (which admittedly was full of abbreviations and misspellings), much less translate the Latin. So we scanned the picture, transcribed the text, filled out the abbreviations and corrected the grammatical mistakes.. and translated it (that was quite straightforward). We emailed our worked solution to the magazine and the editor nearly fell off her chair. In the end, she gave us a pair of tickets to watch Blithe Spirit at the Savoy Theatre tonight... HOORAY!!!

  • A third reason to be happy is that a friend of mine, Lt Commander Paul Engeham, recently retired from the Royal Navy, has invited me to sup with him and a few friends this Friday evening at the Army & Navy Club in Pall Mall (that's pronounced Pell Mell for those in the know). Very smart. I shall have to wear a coat and tie, yippee!

  • From the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, comes this brilliant article about the conjectured origins of flossing and exploding entrails (WELL WORTH A READ!).

  • Oh. Over the holidays, I'll be filling you chaps in on what's been happening in London - I've just been too busy to blog regularly these few months. Akan Datang - Coming Soon!

  • Trust Me...

    Soundtrack: La Piemontese by Louis Couperin, played by Blandine Verlet.

    The other night I was at Coptic class, and I suddenly remembered I already had a Coptic Grammar book at home. So when I get home, I search for it and found it. And to my annoyance, it's for the Bohairic dialect - what I'm doing in class is the Classical Sahidic dialect.

    Trust me to have handy a grammar of an obscure language... and for it to be in the wrong dialect.

    Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 14

    You Are a Bright Star Soul

    Like a shining star, you have no trouble being the center of attention
    In fact, you often feel a bit hurt when all eyes aren't on you
    You need to be number one in everything, no matter how trivial
    And it's this ego that both hurts your confidence and helps you acheive

    You're dramatic and a powerhouse of pure energy
    You posess a divine quality or uniqueness that's hard to define
    A natural performer, it's likely you'll become famous in some circles.
    Just learn not to take everyone's reaction to you so personally!

    Souls you are most compatible with: Newborn Soul and Prophet Soul

    Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

    You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
    An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
    You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
    A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

    You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

    Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 13

    I am Drama (yeah, like I didn't already know)

    You are Drama.
    You are extroverted and like to show off, but can
    be very subtle and intelligent when you want.
    As an expert at story-telling, you love
    attention and have developed the skill of
    keeping it.
    You get along well with Literature and Film.

    What form of art are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 11

    Bass Instincts

    Soundtrack: Prélude and Fantasia in C minor BWV 921 by Johann Sebastian Bach, played by Robert Hill on a Lute-Harpsichord.

    I've been singing Bass since I was 16 and playing Basso Continuo in Baroque and Renaissance music... and I've realised there's a curious side-effect to this.

    When I hear any music in the Western tradition (this excludes music of other cultures), I almost instinctively sing the bass line. Either that or I start improvising and humming a bassline to fit the melody.

    I only realised this when I was clubbing earlier this evening and friends said I was singing along, but singing the bassline...

    Now how weird is that?

    Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 10

    Obese passengers break seats on cruise liner

    Overweight American passengers have broken dozens of seats on the Queen Mary II, the world's biggest and most luxurious cruise liner, according to Britain's The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

    The Beauty of Islam

    The forced conversion of the wife of a Coptic Orthodox Christian priest. How typical of the Mahometans. Dear God, when will it all end? In case any of my readers aren't aware, this sort of nonsense has been going on since the Arabs invaded Egypt in the 6th Century and forced the Christian Egyptians to convert - this persecution has not stopped since and continues today. The predominantly Muslim Egyptian government sanctions and turns a blind eye to anti-Coptic hate crimes such as arson, torture, murder, and the abduction, rape, and forced conversion of young Coptic women. Although Egypt’s native Christian Copts—numbering between 12-15 million and constituting approximately 15% of Egypt’s population—have long been targets for Muslim extremists, a recent rise in anti-Coptic sentiment has prompted an escalation in violence against Copts.

    How badly are they treated? Take a peek here - Coptic demands.

    Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 8

    Snarky Virgo

    You are 93% Virgo

    You Are a Snarky Blogger!

    You've got a razor sharp wit that bloggers are secretly scared of.
    And that's why they read your posts as often as they can!

    Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 7

    I am an Enzyme!?

    You are an enzyme. You are powerful, dark,
    variable, and can change many things at your
    whim...even when they're not supposed to be
    changed. Bad you. You can be dangerous or
    wonderful; it's your choice.

    Which Biological Molecule Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 6

    Bits of Trivia

    In Lebanon men are legally allowed to have sex with animals, but the animals must be female. Having sexual relations with a male animal is punishable by death.

    Uh... okaaaay....

    In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman's genitals, but is prohibited from looking directly at them during the examination. He may only see their reflection in a mirror.

    Supposedly because when an exposed sexual organ is seen through a mirror, it's much less sexually stimulating. I can't figure it out. Coincidentally, my friend Re-minscence muses in a recent post about having to look at female nether regions as part of his job (he's a doctor and doesn't like it). His comment was "All that stuff about looking up women's cracks is a load of bollocks... I think the twits who say that inspired them are just trying to cover up their crass love for money with a supposed obsession with sex." Click here for the full post.

    Muslims are banned from looking at the genitals of a corpse. This also applies to undertakers; the sex organs of the deceased must be covered with a brick or piece of wood at all times.

    I can't imagine why anyone would want to...

    The penalty for masturbation in Indonesia is decapitation.

    Of which head, I wonder...

    There are men in Guam whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time. Reason: under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry.

    I wonder if they have namecards with 'Virgin Surgeon' as their job description... this sounds like something Branson could syndicate...

    Matters Culinary

    Soundtrack: Something by Gaultier Le Vieux, played by Toyohiko Satoh on a baroque lute.

    Last night, on my way home, I found a nice leg of lamb on sale at Sainsbury's. I figured I might as well bring it home and cook it. The flatmates, naturally, didn't object. So alright. I roasted it in the usual way, with lemon juice and lots of garlic inserted into slits all over the leg. I also made a pickle & mustard sauce according to a hungarian recipe. They seemed to enjoy it. Hurrah! If anyone likes, I'll gladly post the recipe for the pickle sauce... (but not the roast lamb - who doesn't know how to roast a leg of lamb?)

    Recently I've been experimenting, trying to re-create a dish I enjoy whenever I'm in China - 魚香茄子, literally 'fish-flavour aubergines'. It doesn't taste fishy in the slightest - it's called 'fish-flavour' because it's a dish that combines spicy, sour, salty and sweet flavours in such a way that is typically used for cooking fish. It's also fabulous as a stir-fry sauce for pork strips(or turkey too, i've discovered) - then it's called 魚香肉絲 or 'fish-flavour meat strips'.

    So I tried making this dish some 2 weeks ago, with aubergine and turkey. It worked out quite nicely! While picking up a few things at Chinatown last sunday, I noticed a packet of 'fish-flavour meat strips' flavouring - from China. I thought 'oooh, it must be good then'. I picked it up, cooked with it... and it turned out not as good as the version I made. So then, I tried the dish in Chinatown - together with rice. It was awful there, to my surprise. Then I thought about it and the reason for that became obvious. The dish is a northern dish, and all the restaurant cooks in London's Chinatown are southerners, as are most of their customers. I shouldn't be surprised that the dish is inauthentic or has been tweaked.

    So alright, I can now make 魚香茄子/魚香肉絲 better than anyone else... I'm quite pleased. I don't know how many of my blog readers want to try this dish out - if you do, give me a holler and I'll happily post the recipe!

    Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 1

    Travel Nightmare

    Soundtrack: The sound of Ed pacing up and down his bedroom floor.

    Things aren't looking good on the travel front.

    Now, term ends Friday 17th Dec (I can't leave before that as I have a test on that day).

    The latest confirmed flight Thai Airways can give me back to Singapore (via Bangkok) is 14th Dec, and naturally, I can't take that.

    So alright, the next earliest confirmed flight they can do departs 2130 hrs on Christmas Eve 24th Dec and arriving back in Singapore 1800 hrs Christmas Day 25th Dec.

    Now, I'm not quite sure I want to spend new calendar Christmas Eve in an airport or in midair. I'd rather be somehwere (ANYWHERE) helping out a church (ANY CHURCH) with the music for a service. So perhaps I might take a flight out of London on the 25th or 26th instead?

    If I stay in London for western Christmas, I can either go help the Romanian Orthodox with their music, or give my friend, the choirmaster in the Tridentine parish, some help with Charpentier's Messe de Minuit (he's asked me to be alto solo if I'm around). Tridentine Roman Catholic... New Calendar Orthodox... anyone... even High-Anglicans!

    Aaargh. While it's true I celebrate Christmas according to the Julian Calendar on 7th Jan, the cultural and social pull of 25th Dec is undeniable... and I've never been away from my family on 25h Dec before.

    *think think think*

    Looks like I may not have any choice.