Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hunting for a Teenage Heart

Judging by the horrific retellings of beloved fables with increasingly disturbing revamps, you obviously can't judge a storybook heroine by her picture-perfect cover. If the wonderful Fables ( great collection of graphic novels btw ) would have its merry way, Cinderella would be a butt-kicking super-spy, Gretel would be an amateur witch and Beauty would be a murderous two-faced succubus. So who knows what hides behind that sweet gamine smile?

Even a seeming innocent like Pretty Panacea has some secrets to hide. Seems our local princess didn't spend all her time sewing samplers, strumming strings and singing serenades while locked up in a forbidding tower.

Panacea : I'm hardly Snow White! I have quite the unsavoury reputation!
Paul : You interest me greatly. Pray tell.
Panacea : Well I once had a brief connexion with a particularly dashing huntsman of twenty-three.
Paul : That's not particularly scandalous.
Panacea : I was barely fourteen.
Paul : That's not scandalous. That's borderline illegal. I feel like I should inform the respective authorities!
Panacea : But why!
Paul : The huntsman - a fellow I'd have to assume is a full-grown adult male - is stealing away the heart of a callow schoolgirl in pigtails barely out of primary blues!
Panacea : I was never callow. And by God, never pigtails!
Paul : A schoolgirl nonetheless.
Panacea : But the huntsman was extra charming!
Paul : Paedophile much? I would have taken an axe to him!
Panacea : He was always the gentleman. 
Paul : Let me put it this way, can you imagine me dating a teenager? 
Panacea : Eeew.
Paul : Precisely.

Am I the only one seeing how very wrong it would be for a reasonably mature man in his early twenties to dine and romance a vulnerable adolescent schoolgirl almost a decade younger? Isn't it just a little bit disturbing?

It's not the chronological age difference that matters to me but the immaturity of one half the relationship. Terribly old fogey of me but I could only think that the man has wickedly prurient designs on her virtue. Surely they couldn't have all that much in common to share - with him on the first rungs of the career ladder while she's busy cramming for her geometry exam.

Huntsman : What do you think of my new bar?
Panacea : You do know I'm underaged right?

Not that I would ever agree to it but could this be what our learned judges meant by speculating assumed 'consent' for the recent spate of disconcertingly lenient sentences for statutory rape?

As much as my heart - and other lower bits - might occasionally lust after the virile teenage youths in their secondary greens, I don't think I would ever act on it. Dewy smooth skin, firm young muscles and sweet innocence certainly couldn't compare with the frightening thought of dealing with the anger, angst and agonies of a hormone-stricken teenager. *shudder

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pop this Pitera Pill

Just take two a day and tweet me next week. 

And possibly look a couple of years younger if the preposterous hype is to be sincerely believed.

Believe me though, a bit of advertising works. Truly defy the hardest, stingiest hearts to turn down the tempting bargain bags of facial products being freely distributed to unwitting passersby on the main thoroughfares in Seoul! Being relentlessly pelted with facial masks ( snail mucus anyone? ) and moisturizers on every street corner certainly turned me into a wide-eyed believer. Coupled with a reasonably comfortable paycheque - and the ever-growing signs of aging on my face, that has certainly been enough to convince me to indulge in the finer things in life.

Or at least the semblance of a skincare regime.

Godfrey : Believe me, it works!

Something Fabulous Felix doesn't need any particular preconditions to do. Once the shimmering maroon bottles of SK-II for Men started appearing in exclusive stores all over Asia, Felix's covetous little hands just had to have them. Didn't take him long to join the choir of mesmerized devotees singing the ever-wondrous miracles of SK-II Pitera.

Supposedly the seven known benefits of Pitera are it helps adjust the skin's rhythm, replenishes and retains moisture, tones the skin texture, adjusts the pH level of the skin, controls the generation of dark spots, soothes sunburned skin and helps control the secretion of sebum.

Yes, it's a bloody mouthful.

Though I am rather dubious. Hopelessly charmed by the spell of Pitera and the immaculate looks of its admittedly attractive ambassadors Godfrey Gao and Yoo Ji Tae, Felix claims that his lethargic skin has been magically rejuvenated in a matter of days - but for a fellow who already had flawless baby-smooth skin prior, how can he possibly tell the minute difference? Microscopic enhancement?

Same goes for the two porcelain-skinned, perfectly groomed hunks chosen to advertise for the brand. If they had chosen a hideous troll who finds himself miraculously transformed into a droolsome prince after being drenched in torrential showers of SKII, I might have believed it.

Felix : Really, it works wonders. Try it for yourself.
Paul : Believe me, he doesn't get any commission out of this. 
Felix : See my face. The pores are smaller. The texture is smoother and less oily. The complexion is fairer. 
Calvin : Well I think it works for Paul. 
Paul : Wow. Seriously?
Calvin : Your face is fairer. And somehow bouncy. 
Paul : Bouncy? 
Felix : Bouncy? 
Calvin : Bouncy.

Tempted to say like a bouncy Fuzhou fishball?

Giddily buoyed by the uncommon flattery of my significant other, obviously I pounced on the nearest mirror I could find to primp and preen. Granted my skin does look fairer but I attribute that to vampire-hiding indoors during the unseasonable daylight hours. Not to mention the generous application of sunblock with SPF higher than my age, enough protection to last me through a UV radiation bomb no doubt.

Other than that, nah. Would take the superior skills of a plastic surgeon to recreate something reasonably human out of the troll-like leathery mess of my face. So not all advertising works. I'd probably need the hunky Godfrey Gao to personally convince me of its supernatural effects. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day of a Thousand Lanterns

Though not celebrated with quite as much fever, frolic and fanfare, the Mid-Autumn Festival still occupies a special place in my heart. None of the cacophonous cymbals, crackers and celebrations that usually accompany our typical Chinese festivals. Call her the restrained, subdued sister to the wild, flashy Spring Festival.

A softer, serene and entirely more sombre observation - one shared with close friends and family around a quiet evening meal under the light of a full moon on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.

And possibly more than a dozen pastel-coloured paper lanterns.

Paul : Out for a walk, are we?
Panacea : Yes, with my lantern! Made it with my own two hands!

Of late however consumerism and commercialization has dragged this quiet lil mouse into the spotlight. More than a month before the actual date itself, the enterprising stores here already have their tables laden with hundreds of savoury mooncakes of increasingly... exotic tastes in beautifully appointed containers. Seaweed and floss anyone? Snow skin mango paste? Cherry Black Forest?

I'll stick to the more traditional lotus seed paste ones, thank you very much. Served with my prerequisite double egg yolks. Yes, the perpetually-dieting health-conscious gym bunnies can just scream over the thousand calories contained within.

Old-fashioned me! That's why I still prefer the cheap accordion-style lanterns to the newfangled monstrosities out in the market these days :) Not to mention the beautiful airborne paper lanterns known as sky lanterns 天灯.

Recently co-opted by Disney in Tangled.

We had our chance recently to reenact the glorious scene from Tangled just last night when the city brass decided to release a thousand lanterns into the sky to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Since it was the first time the bumbling city officials had a hand in organizing such a major event, I don't blame them much for the crowd control snafus.

Even when they had hundreds of overeager participants stampeding over a rickety wooden bridge to receive their sky lanterns; more than a few irresponsible cretins trampling children underfoot. Nothing like handing out freebies to bring out the worst in people. Fortunately the bridge held under our collective weight. Certainly wouldn't have gone down well if the first celebration ended with everyone submerged in a mucky pool.

Paul : Hope the bridge holds up.
Felix : Lake doesn't look too deep.
Paul : If the bridge collapses, I'll probably drown the blockhead who bulldozed his way through. 
Felix : I'll help.

Damn. The times you wish you had a gorgeous brigand like Flynn Rider to help.

But even the awful almost riot failed to diminish the absolute wonder of a thousand lanterns drifting up into the night sky with dozens of artful hopes and wishes. For a while, all the raucous noise of the masses dropped to an awed hush as we stared at an endless stream of twinkling lights snaking its way to the heavens.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mother Knows Best

For the past week, Mercurial Marshall has repeatedly marvelled over the fact that I actually took over the running of such a large establishment when I first arrived. Far from hiring a good-sized estate such as Netherfield, our footloose bachelor prefers something simpler in the form of a cosy crofter's cottage.

Of course I wouldn't suggest dealing with such an enormous place all on my own. The combined efforts of my cohabitants, along with the weekly ministrations of our housekeeper Maid Mumbles and the occasional visits from the wandering gardener, is all that's needed to keep this ancient establishment standing.

Yes, you need to invest in the place just a little.

Otherwise Netherfield would start to resemble other ramshackle rented residences where faded doors are coming apart, broken windows lie ajar and the ceiling fixtures lie in tragic disrepair. Quite a common sight when it comes to those who refuse to part with a blessed cent for just a little upkeep.

Paul : Hiring a cleaner? 
Marshall : Doubt I'll need that. Maybe just sweep once a week. 
Paul : And the grass out on the lawn? 
Marshall : Nothing wrong with some wild grass. 
Paul : Maybe you should slap on some new paint. Would definitely brighten up the place.
Marshall : Much too expensive. 
Paul : How about some rugs or carpets? Maybe a new standing lamp for the living room? 
Marshall : Nah, it's okay. I'll just spend more time in the bedroom anyway. 
Paul : I can already imagine what your previous place looked like. 

Takes a lot of sweat, some effort and a bit of investment to turn a house into a home. Ignore the fact that it might be rented - and focus on the fact that you'll be living there for at least a couple of years.

Think I need to invest a little in the house.

Basically you really have to be a house-proud matron.

Occasionally - at least every once in a while - one of the frequent visitors to Netherfield would add a comment on the guestbook praising us denizens for the excellent housekeeping. Such unanticipated accolades never fail to put a smile on my face. Since far from taking pride in myself, I find myself quite a failure actually. Seriously, wait till you meet my mother.

Just moments after landing here, out she marches from the bedroom with her cleaning pail, that horrid mop and the ubiquitous industrial bleach. Despite my endless admonishments that I hadn't flown her here to be my mistreated charwoman, the woman persists in her thankless endeavours since nothing but the absolute shiniest floors would do for her.

I bet germs scream and flee at the sight of my mother.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Halal Gays

Think my love for fatty pork is already quite well documented. Summed up pretty well by Charming Calvin's oft-repeated dictum of sharing pork with the one you love. Seriously, screw the cholesterol. If you wanted something less fattening, go nibble on scrawny free-range chicken.

Yet these days, I find my group of friends - albeit the stereotypical perpetually dieting, gym-inhabiting gaybots - eschewing our poor pitiful piglets. Rather than any compelling religious or cultural reasons prohibiting them from being one with the pig, the indoctrinated fear of cholesterol-laden pork lard has them all grabbing their flouncy knickers fleeing in near-hysterical distress.

Bryan : OMG You're ordering pork? 
Paul : You're not? 
Bryan : Do people still eat pork? 
Paul : You're kosher? It's haram for you? 
Bryan : Yes! Pork is so fattening! All the calories! It's against my Gym God religion!
Paul : Oh yes, imagine thick crispy bacon that crunches beneath your teeth. Tender three-layered pork that melts in your mouth. 
Bryan : La la la la... I am not hearing this!
Paul : Yum.

Sigh. Seriously. When did we all suddenly turn into grass-munching, leaf-biting vegetarians?

You have pork? God, I'd do anything for a bit of meat...

Of course even with their recently acquired aversion to pork, that doesn't stop them from stealing envious glances over at my plate full of porcine goodness. Despite their deep reservations, the allure of the pig is obviously near irresistible - especially in comparison with the meagre leaves and branches on their sad platters. Even the very scent of freshly pan-fried bacon has their nostrils flaring with barely concealed lust.

Come on, take a bite. Live a little.

And if you wanna keep that hand, don't even think of slicing off the gelatinous fatty parts.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guidelines to Being Gay

Dirty politics in this country has gotten so highly nauseating that I try to keep my news media browsing to a minimum these days - else I would be hurling invectives right and left after my morning coffee. With all the mudslinging done by our unimaginative politicians, a mud-wrestling ring would be a better place for them than the parliament. But despite my daily filters, the occasional trash rag still finds its way into my inbox.

Enough to make me involuntarily spit out my caffeine intake.

So in case any of you guys actually missed this choice piece of offal found amongst the endless filth churned out by the current government, take a look at what our supposedly enlightened education ministry has come up with.

The Education Ministry had endorsed "guidelines" to help parents to identify gay and lesbian "symptoms" in their children so they can take early corrective measurements. The guidelines list four symptoms each of gays and lesbians:

Symptoms of gays:
- Have a muscular body and like to show their body by wearing
- V-neck and sleeveless clothes;
- Prefer tight and light-coloured clothes;
- Attracted to men; and
- Like to bring big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out.

Symptoms of lesbians:
- Attracted to women;
- Besides their female companions, they will distance themselves from other women;
- Like to hang out, have meals and sleep in the company of women; and
- Have no affection for men.

"Once the children have these symptoms, immediate attention should be given," the guidelines warn.

Yes, gay men are attracted to men. Colour them surprised, that's certainly news for the ingenious Einsteins at the ministry. Rather than focus on improving the sadly deteriorating state of education in our country, they have decided to browbeat the easiest homosexual scapegoats they can find.

Guess I'll be skipping the V-neck today.

Talk about a noxious garbage bag of the most inane homosexual stereotypes ever. Just short of a flaccid limp-wrist and a high-pitched whine. Don't know if the gay list is actually more insulting to my straight brethren out there! You mean the breeder boys these days have to turn into obese bovines in shapeless black round-necked burqas just to prove their straight machismo?

Forget about fashion sense! God forbid the metrosexuals successfully pull off a fitting V-neck sweater only to be accused of homosexuality.

And after dragging out the non-conforming unfortunates - regardless of their actual sexuality, what immediate attention and corrective measurements do these bigoted Nazis in the ministry intend to give? The infamous gay rehabilitation camps again? Maybe place a ban on tight v-neck sweaters? Or perhaps forcefeed the boys so they gain ungainly weight to be able to pass amongst the rest? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Snow White & Her Four Dwarves

Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a princess with skin as white as snow and hair as black as ebony. Her name was Snow White.

Unlike her contemporary in the west, no unseemly deaths occurred in her family to warrant the unwelcome arrival of a thoroughly contemptible stepmother so our fortunate Snow White remained cherished, coddled and cosseted by her overindulgent parents. From cradle to college, nary a harsh word was used on her - please, may I and thanks was all she heard - and she remained charmingly oblivious to the wild, wicked world around her.

Till the day her doting parents gave her a gentle yet irresistible push out into the world to search for her destiny. Without a magical map to guide her on her way, Snow found herself meandering into the depths of the dark forest right into the path of four grumpy old dwarves, none of whom were terribly impressed with her beauty, wealth or charm. Rather than offer her help as most of the docile forest creatures have done, the cantankerous four refused to even listen to her gentle pleas, preferring to delve into the inscrutable mysteries of the internet instead.

Damn, those dwarves play rough!

Which is how I found her abandoned and alone, weeping her poor little heart out on a fallen log at the edge of the gloomy forest. Even a passing robin hoping to cheer her with a happy tune failed in his attempts. No prince am I yet I couldn't turn my back on such a gentle soul.

Snow : Huntsman are you? Or a prince here to save me?
Paul : A gay prince perhaps. 
Snow : A happy prince?
Paul : You really have been stuck up in a tower for a long time, haven't you? So what brings you down here? 
Snow : The dwarves yonder who are working for me. I've bargained, begged and beseeched many a time - yet the dwarves four refuse to aid me. 
Paul : Heigh-Ho indeed. Have you tried other means of soliciting their help?
Snow : Offering them sweets and sugarplums doesn't seem to persuade them. They don't even want to dig in the mines! One even threw a shovel at me when I told them to whistle while they work!
Paul : Are you not in charge of these craven dwarves? Wasn't there a notice placed up on the town square informing everyone of your ascendancy?
Snow : Yes, I am supposed to manage these dwarves.
Paul : And yet you sit here whining, weeping and wailing as these laggards ignore your express commands? 
Snow : But how do I -
Paul : With a bloody whip. 
Snow : But I can't -
Paul : Speak softly but carry a big stick. Sounds like that's the only language they speak. 
Snow : But I am trying to be nice. 
Paul : They are not your friends. They are your subordinates. So don't phrase your needs as a sweet request, it's a bloody command. I'm not asking, I'm telling. 

Honestly I might talk real sweet but if my subordinates spoke to me in such a manner, I would have had their bleeding heart served for lunch.

Unfortunately life isn't a fairytale. Being the pampered princess is easy enough, being the draconian ruler takes a bit of work. Whistling a happy tune might get the merry birds a-dancing but a smile and a song isn't going to get the procrastinating servants a-cleaning.

Over here of course we know Snow as Pretty Panacea who is having difficulties adjusting to her new role in a managerial position. Turns out her lackeys aren't all that pleased to be told what to do. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

How To Lose Friends & Alienate People

I tend to lose my temper easily. Sometimes takes but a minuscule spark to set off the volatile fuse for the near-catastrophic explosion to follow.

Something most of my friends would be quick to repudiate since I tend to keep my cool around them. When the simmering rage threatens to boil over, I tend to bite my tongue and hold my anger in check lest the devastating blast effects threaten to scorch even the most innocent bystanders within range.

After all since our friends and lovers are those we know best, we tend to know exactly which particular sore spot to singe and scald. And I have always been a keen observer on the search for secret weaknesses.

Which is why I bite my tongue till it bleeds rather than risk the friendship with a searing personal comment that would leave that particular relationship inescapably charred in the resulting ashes. Charming Calvin would probably never guess it but there were times when I'd been left seething impotently after our occasional tiffs. In a deliciously diabolical brain like mine, dozens of viciously cutting replies come to mind but I tend to stalk away rather than give in to that reprehensible impulse.

 Seriously, don't place any dependence on the sadly well-worn adage that words don't hurt as much as sticks and stones. Bruises can heal with time but painful memories remain. Unquestionably I place more value on my friendships than on that one quick - usually sadly unforgivable - snap of heat. Being a friend grants you that little bit of immunity so Calvin doesn't need to purchase that impregnable lava-proof vest just yet.

Now there's a guy with anger management issues.

Unlike my new friends who have nearly come to blows with each other over a bit of miscommunication. And as the argument escalates, the inevitable mudslinging starts as personal grudges and slights come into play. So easy to find that vulnerable chink in the armour when you know each other so intimately.

Haven't they learnt how to bite their own tongues lest they say something irretrievable?

Sigh. They obviously haven't - which has led to a brief fall out amongst the group. A pity when that happens to friends.

Of course that extends only to friends. When it comes to those out of my short list of close confidants, I tend to fall back on my favoured scorched earth policy. :)

Friday, September 07, 2012

A Man and His Dog

They say you can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps. Even more so when you're talking about that furry, four-legged pal that slobbers over everything.

Never actually believed such unscientific crock till Fabulous Felix brought home his pup for a week when he first moved in. Gregarious golden retriever, all bright, sunny, bouncing energy with an affectionate friendliness that extended even to total strangers. Hence the irrational impulse to slobber over fearful mailmen at the gate rather than bark furiously over the unwelcome intrusion.

Paul : That's no guard dog. Isn't he territorial at all?
Felix : No. 
Paul : He's kinda dumb.
Felix : No, he isn't!
Paul : Your agreeable dog just galloped up to a passing stranger and licked him.
Felix : So? He's friendly!
Paul : Trust me, he'd probably happily scamper around your bloodied murderer after you've been stabbed repeatedly.    
Felix : Possibly. 
Paul : I'd want a dog who'd kill on command. 

Friendly, frisky and flirtatious. Yes, there is more than a passing resemblance between owner and dog.


Apparently we tend to favour kind of dogs that are a bit like ourselves. A hypothesis further proven when Mercurial Marshall, frightfully fearful all on his lonesome, decided to get a canine companion for his bachelor pad. Since he's ... what we'd kindly call vertically challenged, it amused us mightily when he chose a similarly petite pet. A tiny scampering Maltese with a high-pitched whine is exactly the sort of dog we'd have gotten for him.

Though Netherfield has space enough for a dog, I don't think I'd be able to commit the time and energy to training a new pet. Would be far too tempted to let the canine loose on the pesky birds next door. If I could though, I would certainly choose a German Shepherd or even a Siberian Husky. Wonder what that says about me!

Oddly enough Charming Calvin is into slinky felines. I would have thought he'd be paired with a gentle, docile basset hound.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Mistress Prerequisite

Shiny sportscars and trophy wives. Golf clubs and floppy hairpieces. Skinny jeans and fake tans.

Sure they're all painfully cliche - but these vividly sketched symptoms immediately leap to mind, quite rightfully sometimes, when you think of the fateful words 'midlife crisis'. Curiously enough an exceedingly common malady that strikes down reasonably rational men of a certain age with hardly any warning. Compelling such absurd symptoms as a pitiable but assuredly vain attempt to boost up their dwindling testosterone.

Considering I'm comfortably in my mid-thirties, I figured I'd still have a while before developing such embarassingly gauche symptoms. Don't see a need for fake tans and toupees yet. Besides I'm pleased with my rusty reliable Honda and haven't had the urge to trade it in just yet.

Evidently I was wrong.

Excuse me, are you looking for a toyboy?

Or at least my friend Fabian Fabulouso thinks so since he mailed me an entire string of messages populated by scantily-clad, physically buff hunks. Apparently all ambitious, financially motivated young men who wouldn't mind being kept by overly generous patrons. Think of it as ToyBoys 'R' Us.

Paul : Good God, are you a pimp? Where did you find them all!
Fabian : Isn't it time to indulge? Boys need their daddies after all.
Paul : Not wallowing in luxury but I guess I'm doing alright. Certainly not outrunning the creditors.
Fabian : So isn't it time to hire a few concubines for your all-male harem?
Paul : You mean there's a time to get a toyboy?
Fabian : Yes, why not? You can have your pick.
Paul : Like they are that easy to find?
Fabian : Just flash your income tax form.
Paul : Might as well get some shiny sports car to match.
Fabian : We might as well go all out for our midlife crisis.

Clearly Fabian is the unwelcome herald for midlife crisis of the gay kind. Just hit the right number of zeros in your paycheque and he comes knocking at the door like a perverse Pimp Fairy. Like all modern-day papasans, Fabian already has an entire stable of randy young stallions on his speed dial ready to serve.

Certainly titillated my salivating curiousity though, enough that I actually gave it some serious thought. Really, is it that easy to find a toy boy? Exactly what would my mistress prerequisites be like?

Sunday, September 02, 2012

How About That Peacock

With the inevitable smoky haze clouding my vision, I could of course bemoan the unfortunate fact that my imbecilic neighbours insist on adding to the murky miasma by setting off their own rubbish bonfires. But apart from the odd prank call to the city council with my litany of complaints, there's not much to be done to cure their patent ignorance.

Though I do covertly douse their fires whenever I can.

Now who do I call to complain about itinerant fowl?

Probably would be one of those curmudgeonly old fellows frequently calling up the complaint lines.

But even that can't compare to the latest nuisance brought about by my immediate neighbour. Obviously they figured Netherfield needed another featherbrained reason for bugging the aggravated councilmen. Not satisfied with burdening us with an entire chicken farm just steps away from my backdoor, the budding gentleman farmer has decided to purchase a peacock.

Yes, a peacock.

And not the delightful kind euphemistically spoken of by Katy Perry. I wouldn't have been quite as rankled by that particular display of bountiful .. peacock.

It's the feathered fowl variety that I'm objecting to. And rather than mildly irritating cockcrowing in the godless hours of the morn, we now get the oddly bloodcurdling cacaw noise from the lone peacock. Particularly chilling for being quite unexpected.

Though exactly what these amateur homesteaders intend to do with a peacock is beyond me. Purely for decorative purposes? Bred for feather harvesting? Trained to herd the marauding fowl? A fresh alternative for the Christmas turkey?

Now where did I leave my hunting gun?