Friday, 29 February 2008

My Fare Lady

Mr. Snyde: You know what date it is today, the all-knowing Dr. Jerkyll?

Dr. Jerkyll: Of course. Its the 29th of Febuary, a rare occurance every 4 years, a leap year. Is there a point you would like to make in regard to this, Mr. Snyde?

Mr. Snyde: Well, nothing except the bugging question of why the hell are you reading Sunday's Lifestyle section 5 days late?

Dr. Jerkyll: Oh, that. Well, that is because there is this particular article that really caught my eye. One titled, "Do Singapore women expect too much?"

Mr. Snyde: Sounds interesting, rather unexpected of such an article to catch your attention, but still, hit me with what you've got.

Dr. Jerkyll: Certainly. The highlight of the article was a survey conducted on some Singaporean women. And the results are as follows.

[Flips open the newspaper]

Dr. Jerkyll: Ah here we go.... it says that 80 percent of Singaporean women expect their boyfriends to pay on dates and 92 percent of men will do so.

Mr. Snyde: Well, you can count me into the 92 percent of obliging gentlemen. Most of the time, at least.

Dr. Jerkyll: Ahem. 50 percent of the women expect men to open the doors to cars and restaurants and 88 percent of the men will do so.

Mr. Snyde: Hmm, this is a tough one. I do the doors to restaurants and all, but cars, well... not so much. But I guess more so than not, so you can count me into the 88 percent of well-mannered gentlemen.

Dr. Jerkyll: I didn't really ask for your involvement in this statistics, but well, no matter. 90 percent of the women expect men to send their girlfriends home after a date and 94 percent of men will do so.

My. Snyde: Oh, for this case, I'm in the 94 percent of thoughtful gentlemen who would ensure the lady's safety. Well... again, most of the time, at least.

Dr. Jerkyll: And "most" being the times which happen to be convenient for you I would suppose?

Mr. Snyde: Tsk, tsk. Details, details.

Dr. Jerkyll: Of course, just some selective omission of some rather "minor" details. Carrying on, 96 percent of women expect their boyfriends to initiate the celebration of special occasions such as anniversaries and birthdays and 92 percent of men will do so.

Mr. Snyde: Hah. This I can say for a fact that I am very much in league of extraordinary gentlemen that make up the 92 percent, considering my repeated emphasis on the meanings behind such occasions.

Dr. Jerkyll: Of course, not to mention the exorbitant amount you spend at each of these "culturally and metaphorically significant" events, to the extent that the annual amount of celebrations you end up paying for in 1 year, outweigh your partner by 14:1. The 1 being your birthday.

Mr. Snyde: Hah. But money is but material, my overly practical Dr. Jerkyll; the meaning behind such memories stretch far beyond the dollar. But still, its not like someone as out-of-the-field as yourself would be able to understand.

[Looks down at the newspaper and reads out in a louder tone than normal.]

Dr. Jerkyll: 88 percent of women expect their boyfriends to dress up for special occasions such as Valentine's Day and birthdays while 79 percent of men will do so.

Mr. Snyde: Hah. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am in that 79 percent of well-groomed gentlemen, always dressed-to-the-nines with my hair almost always in perfect form, I'm sure even YOU cannot rebutt that fact, right?

Dr. Jerkyll: ....................24 percent of women expect their boyfriends to carry their handbags and 70 percent of men will do so.

Mr. Snyde: What? 70 percent of men are willing to be such idiots? I'm glad that I'm not one of these idiotic fools and I sure as hell am glad that ONLY 24 percent of bimbotic women have such expectations of their boyfriends.

Dr. Jerkyll: Amusing. So why are you not in the league of these 70 percent of extraordinary gentlemen then, my dear Mr. Snyde?

Mr. Snyde: Hah. The reason is simple, because I don't want to look like a stupid mofo carrying a gal's handbag and utterly ruining my previously mentioned always-dressed-to-the-nines image. There is a reason why I myself don't carry a bag, you know.

Dr. Jerkyll: So its all about the image then?

Mr. Snyde: Well, mostly. But a little bit because of the philosophy of "To each his own burden." And since I take it upon myself to minimize the things in my hands, why should I be covering the asses of gals who can't do the same, despite how pretty their asses might be? In turn, letting them enjoy the privilege that I spoil myself with my planned-minimalism at my expense.

Dr. Jerkyll: Unexpectedly convincing Mr. Snyde. You never fail to surprise me. But there is a greater point of worry here.

Mr. Snyde: What? What could be more important than looking like a stupid mofo?

Dr. Jerkyll: Well, if you would take a moment to step out of your over-indulgence yourself, then you would realise that the bigger issue at hand is actually the exorbitant expectation of Singapore women.

Mr. Snyde: So what bugs you so much then?

Dr. Jerkyll: Well, I'm a distinguished man of science and logic, and I admit that I have hardly any idea what goes behind the clockwork of romance, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the flaws the in concept of "equality" and "equilibrium" here.

Mr. Snyde: What does equality and equilibrium have to do with this?

Dr. Jerkyll: Well, in equality, there is a measurement of fairness; both sides of the scale have to weigh out to be worth the same amount of salt. Considering the mantras preached by these women state that they are worth the same amount of social salt as their male counterparts, it is bitterly ironic that their expectations of treatment from their counterparts stretch well beyond the boundaries of Equality, transcending very much into the realm of being the higher beings, thus deserving of such positively-discriminatory privileges. And what drives you to succumb to bestowing such privileges on the ladies then, Mr. Snyde? If you would please indulge me.

Mr. Snyde: Well, for me, as much as I do see a gal as an equal on a mental and emotional level, I am still more than willing to go the extra mile to give my dates such privileged treatment; not not because they want and expect me to do so, but purely due to the fact that I think that they deserve to feel special.

Dr. Jerkyll: So you are saying that such privileged treatment from you is more like a gift, one on a more emotionally-resounding level, perhaps?

Mr. Snyde: Well, you can put it that way I guess.

Dr. Jerkyll: If that is the case, and if it is entirely out of free-will as you so say, then would it be perfectly fine for you to stop the emotional-generosity and decide to stop handing out such privileges, am I right? After all, if it is a gift, then the power is entirely upon the giver to decide when to give or to not give the gift, isn't it?

Mr. Snyde: Well, yes. Theoretically, that would be the case. BUT, I wouldn't be getting any skirts if I decided to do that.

Dr. Jerkyll: And why so?

Mr. Snyde: Because I would fall way be totally ungentlemanly and probably turn them off big-time.

Dr. Jerkyll: Hah. but the point is, Mr. Snyde, that if it is the ladies are merely receivers of such "gifts" and privileges, then as the respective words suggest, they were entitlements given by the other party, and not anything that even came close to belonging to the ladies in the first place, is it not? Thus, it is wrong for them to form such "expectations" of receiving these gifts without having done anything to have earned them, is it not?

Mr. Snyde: I hate to say this, but in a way you are right Dr. Jerkyll. But still, no matter how logical it may sound when you put it on paper, the reality of the situation is that these "expectaions" have somewhat established themselves as the unsaid rules and invisible price tags in the Dating Game, rules that men have to adhere to.

Dr. Jerkyll: So the situation is that of a very twisted "equilibrium" then, is it not? 1 that exists without the notion of equality. With the unfair expectations developed by women, men have come to terms with forgoing the notion of attempting to achieve true equality and succumb to this unproportionate "norm", and furthering fueling the poisoning words of "should" or "only natural" or "I deserve" in the minds of women, allowing them to continue down this path of warped equality.

Mr. Snyde: Sigh. Sad but true, Dr. Jerkyll. But sader is the fact that this trend is probably not going to change anytime soon, at lesat not in Singapore. Everything on the island comes with a price, and fulfilling such expectations and probably seen as a sort of "fare" that men are willing to pay to even standing a remote chance of getting into skirts.

Dr. Jerkyll: Sadly, such are the circumstances that the thoughts of one man, no matter how distinguished cannot change.

Mr. Snyde: Why thank you Dr. Jerkyll, I think so too.

Dr. Jerkyll: ............................. Well, let's turn the tables around and talk about what you, as a man in the field, expect out of the women that you date then.

Mr. Snyde: Oh, that's easy. I'm a simple man, the gal just has to satisfy any single 1 of my 5 criteria to justify my dating her.

Dr. Jerkyll: Oh? And what might those criteria be, may I ask?

Mr. Snyde: Oh, nothing too tough. The gal has to be either:

#1 Classy and Sophisticated
#2 Sweet and Simple
#3 Hot and Sexy
#4 Cute and Friendly
#5 Cool and Character

Its a case of "or", not a case of "and"; nothing too hard to fulfill. Of course, the more fulfilled, the merrier, but still. See I told you I was a simple man.

Dr. Jerkyll:...................................................

Monday, 18 February 2008

Valentine's Day 2008: Morton's of Chicago

14th Febuary 2008

"Good evening. I will be presenting to you our menu for today," the waitress said, as she pushed a tray of plastic -wrapped food samples next to our table and started going down the list of items on the menu, in an excitedly-hurried tone.

For appetizers, we have..." she went on, as I stared at the five slabs of beef plastic-wrapped on the top of the tray, my eyes fixated on the second biggest piece. "Here at Morton's, we are known for our steaks," she continued, as my ears bent forward to pick up the name of the piece that I was eyeing. "Any questions, I hope you don't have any, because I''m so thristy," she quipped cheekily after finishing her drowning rant that was probably already deeply rooted into her memory.

My eyes glanced down the menu quickly, just for an affirmation of the name of the main course that I desired, before raising up head to absorb the ambience of the restaurant as she continued to stare down the menu, visibly indecisive on what to go with.

The restuarant was generally dimly-lit with the orange glow of candlelight that perfectly suited the required ambience for a Valentine's Day choice of locale. While the restuarant was drowned with the hustle and bustle of busy waiters and indulgant couples, the level of noise in the restaurant didn't deter it from its romantic ambience; albeit in a slightly different way.

True to the "Chicago" part of its name, the restaurant presented a very American vibe, one that had the necessary candlelight, the rowdy laughter and busy waiters, often seen in Hollywood movies; but yet, at the same time, similar to its Hollywood depictions, all the surrounding distractions were hardly enough for the involved couple to continue indulging in each others' gaze.

The Perfect Prop

I stared down at the complimentary opening dish, a dome-shaped loaf of bread, wondering how best to go about consuming it, as I stole glances at the surrounding tables for a hint on the direction of approach; before finally deciding to follow the cue of the elegant lady behind me, and use the most primal of utensils, the hands.

The bread was well-baked with a tinge of herb and spice akin to that of the bread used in tuna-buns, save for the fact that it was entirely blown out of proportion. "This is the filler-dish, the type of dish that ensures that you'll be full by the time you leave the restaurant," I told her, as we proceeded on to place our orders.

The waitress manouevured past the flurry of movement and action of the other busy waiters to serve us our appetizer. It was somewhat ironic that my mental and emotional refuge for the insanely busy week I was undergoing was amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy restuarant on Valentine's Day. But the sensation of being able to sit in the stillness of adorable company proved to be the calm eye in the storm of hastiness and speed; and proved to be entirely refreshing both on an emotional and a mental level.

A parallel to the refreshing taste of lemon that I exerted on over our Scallop wrapped with Bacon appetizer. Dicing it up into managable chunks, I rolled the piece in the provided apricot sauce and sampled the concoction. The taste of the dish was an incredible multi-layered sensation, that provided the fresh seafood juiciness of the Scallop, complimented with the freshness of the lemon as the base flavour, a salty outer-layer of perfectly-smoked bacon, and with a sweet finish thanks to the works of the apricot sauce. It was a pity that the serving only came in the magical number of 3.

Despite the small serving, the appetizers did their part in whetting our appetities and paving the road of anticipation to our main courses, the Grilled Salmon Fillet for the lady, and the very potentially-satisfying Porterhouse Steak for the Count.

The Salmon Fillet was of considerable quality, as the difference between the mid-ranged Salmon Fillet and the high-quality ones fundamentally comes down to the amounts of fine bone in the fillet. And as far as the Salmon for the night was concerned, it was a delight to consume; not to mention the complimenting cream-based sauce that drenched the fillet in aroma and flavour.

Cheerful on Contemplative

But the real star of the night was sitting on my side of the table. I knew she was "the one" the moment that I laid my eyes on her as the waitress narrated away on the menu for the night. The Porterhouse Steak was a slab of beef that has a fillet on one side, and a T-bone on the other. Perfectly grilled to a medium-grill of tenderness, juiciness and bloodiness (perfectly attuned to a Vampire's liking), the steak filled my senses with sparkly-eyed wonder as I took the first bite. Indeed, it was the best beef the Count has consumed since the aromatic Kobe Beef, and perhaps, it does indeed stay true to the restaurants given slogan, perhaps.

Utterly Convinced

In fact, the steak was so good that it even had the darling turning pagan and yearning for more after taking a starter bite. Speaking of which, there has probably been too much talk prior to the date on how Valentine's Day is considered the "Pagan's Holiday" and whatnot. All around, I hear dual-ended cliches, from the melancholic nocturne of "I don't believe in celebrating Valentine's Day" to the saccharine-sweet melody of "Everyday can be Valentine's Day."

Yet, nothing can compare to the sweetness that was the dessert that brought our Valentine's Dinner to a close. The trademark Hot Chocolate Cake was the incarnation of sin, and yet, every inch worth dying for. Served with Haagen-Daaz Vanilla Ice Cream, the hot chocolate fudge oozed out of the corners of the hot, crusted chocolate ring in a marvelous, beckoning splendour; and easily put lesser hot chocolate cakes to shame simply by the merit of the pastry alone.

Hell Freezes Over

Despite all the cynical talk of the over-commercialization of Valentine's Day, with the needless effort to fret over making a booking for a jam-packed restaurant, only to pay exorbidant prices, all in the name of a special occasion; I still believe that Valentine's Day is only worth as much celebration as one chooses to make of it. The detractors will never be convinced, the cynics will never beam in the light and the unintiated will never grasp the knowledge of the meaning behind the occasion. But for those, who can scratch deep under the sound and fury that is commercialization and delve deeper into the signified under the signifier, at the end of the rainbow of romance is the heart of the reason and cause for celebration, and a pot full of golden memories. No prizes on correct guesses on which side of the rainbow she and I are on.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Sex in the Box

Mr. Snyde: Can I ask you a question Dr. Jerkyll?

Dr. Jerkyll: Only if you stop dealing with rhetoric.

Mr. Snyde: Huh?

Dr. Jerkyll: Nevermind. So what can I do you for today, Mr. Snyde?

Mr. Snyde: Well, its about your recent tagline, you know, the "Sex in the Box" one, what in the blue hell does that mean?

Dr. Jerkyll: Well, take a guess. You've got nothing to lose.

Mr. Snyde: Well, if I didn't know you any better, I would guess that it is one of your supposedly witty puns, perhaps of a certain child's toy, the Jack-in-the-Box, perhaps?

Dr. Jerkyll: Partially correct Mr. Snyde, but not entirely. There is a reason for the missing dashes and a meaning far beyond the meaning of the 4 words taken alone.

Mr. Snyde: Hmm, indulge me then, the oh-so-wise-Dr. Jerkyll.

Dr. Jerkyll: Indeed I shall. The key word lies in the word "Sex," a physical drive that is held in regard as the ultimate emotional expression, call it what you like, "making love" and whatnot, but Sex is essentially, well, Sex, no matter how you slice it. And it is commonly believed to be one of the biggest outbursts of emotion that one can express.

Mr. Snyde: Now you got me listening.

Dr. Jerkyll: Ahem, anyway, as I was saying. So when you put Sex, an "expression," a supposedly "free" and "natural" thing, within the confines of the other 3 words, perhaps you will start to see what I am getting at.

Mr. Snyde: ...................

Dr. Jerkyll: Still don't get it? Hardly surprised. Not everyone has the same penchant for irony, I would figure.

Mr. Snyde: Who needs wit and irony when you have killer good looks and overwhelming charisma?

Dr. Jerkyll: Yes yes, who could resist? But as I was saying, so imagine, if even your strongest expression of emotion, through "Sex" in confined "in the box," what more any of your lesser emotions, like laughter, joy and sorrow?

Mr. Snyde: Wait a minute, that sounds awfully familiar, isn't this from a song?

Dr. Jerkyll: Perhaps you are more attuned than I had anticipated. But yes, it indeed is from a song. And as the rest of the song goes:

dream in the box, person in the box
vibe in the box, time in the box

Mr. Snyde: Ok, I'm starting to get it, so what you are trying to say is that all this; all we think, we hold true, we experience, we perceive; are all being confined within a supposed "box" right?

Dr. Jerkyll: Indeed. And no prizes for correct guesses on what that "box" is.

Mr. Snyde: Of course, its freakin' obvious its the walls of "society" and "societal norms."

Dr. Jerkyll: Perhaps there is SOME hope for you afterall.

Mr. Snyde: What did you say?

Dr. Jerkyll: Nevermind, I digress. The point is, everything we do, we think and we feel, are largely contained within this large box; our expression of emotions, our perception of time, our expectations of what it is to be a "person," even many of our dreams are still very much "in the box," no matter how you think that it is totally left to the freedom of your will to determine these things.

Mr. Snyde: Somewhat true I believe, depressing but true.

Dr. Jerkyll: So it begs the question then, what would it mean to be "out of the box"? Any ideas, Mr. Snyde?

Mr. Snyde: Hmm, "out of the box" is such an overused terms, especially from the mouths of educators today. I remember there was this one time, during this Physics class that I attended, and we were discussing the solution to this question that no one in the class could do.

Dr. Jerkyll: You in Physics lesson, this is new, hah. But yes, continue.

Mr. Synde: Ahem. So the tutor was presenting the solution, and after which he said the words, 'for this question, you have to think out of the box to be able to do it,' before he went on to scribble something on the whiteboard and turned around with a smuck look on his face obviously very proud of the work that he had done. Kinda looks a little like how you look all the time.

Dr. Jerkyll: ..............................

Mr. Synde: But the point is, as much as he touted his solution as "out of the box," honestly, I found nothing very out-of-the-box-esque about it. It was just a bloody common case of educators using it as part of their lingo and jargon to make students think that that was what it meant to think "out of the box", which was obviously not.

Dr. Jerkyll: Yes, I have met too many of these delusional cases and have heard the words thrown around too casually. It would seem that for every minute innovative thought that just happens to bend the rules by that little bit, the Hoi Polloi would love to think that they are thinking "out of the box."

Mr. Snyde: A casualty of the lack of introspection and extremely low self-evaluation standards, I guess.

Dr. Jerkyll: Surprisingly true coming from you Mr. Snyde, such resounding and accurate words.

Mr. Snyde: Only a tip of the iceberg my dear Dr. Jerkyll. I mean take it from me, being in the creative line, I come up with new dosage of ideas on a daily basis - good ideas. But still, even with all these new and innovative ideas I churn out ever-so-often, I would hardly dare call myself or my ideas "out of the box;" pushing the boundaries of the box perhaps, but hardly "out of the box".

Dr. Jerkyll: Indeed. For something to be regarded as "out of the box," I would figure that it has to be something radically innovative and utterly revolutionary, rather than evolutionary.

Mr. Snyde: For me, it has to be something, an idea or a concept that tethers on the edge of madness, and yet, it all comes together to make sense in its own very twisted manner. Since I'm a gaming man, I would name Super Mario for example. Plumbers who go down pipes, eat mushrooms to grow bigger, and battles all manner of turtles? Before 1985, if you pitched this to someone, he or she would probably think that it was some manner of extreme virtual insanity. Yet, 23 years later, this said "madness" is widely accepted as an icon. Now, that is truly "out of the box".

Dr. Jerkyll: Yes, even though I am not a gaming man myself, but I can see where you are coming from.

Mr. Snyde: Or how about the idea of using a small sticky ball to start rolling up stuff, accumulating in size, and being able to roll up increasingly large objects; from mice, to humans, to cows, to buildings and eventually, even the moon? Raving madness on paper perhaps, but in the gaming circle, this "out of the box" concept drove a little budget game, known as Katamari Damacy to become a cult classic.

Dr. Jerkyll: Well, enough of the examples. For my academic, prying mind, the burning question is: whether this capacity to think "out of the box" is an innate, in-born ability, or is it a skill that can be honed over the years if you were to sharpen it consistently?

Mr. Snyde: Well, to that, I am no idea at all. But I sure hope its the latter more than the former. Especially, since my livelihood depends on it. Then again, doesn't matter, since I believe I am already "out of the box" no matter which way you slice it.

Dr. Jerkyll: .......................