Friday, August 12, 2011

love never dies - sequel to the phantom

on july 9, we took the train from glen waverley station to the city. we got off at flinders station and walked to collin street to the regent theatre to watch the 2.00 p.m. matinee session of the andrew lloyd webber's musical 'love never dies'. the title reminds me of the very popular mandarin song 'love without end'. although the ticket was supposed to be cheaper, it still cost aud$125.

we had watched the phantom of the opera when it was staged at the kallang theatre in 1995. we were truly impressed by the props, the singing and we enjoyed the songs thoroughly. it cost us - a family of four - $500 in all, the tickets as well as buying the cd and the programme.

kallang theatre, the venue for various events, among which were the two former prime ministers' national day rallies, university of singapore convocation ceremonies and the sing singapore competitions. it was also at this venue where i watched my first musical - les miserables.

regent theatre reminds us of the english theatres where we watched 'miss saigon' and 'beauty and the beast'.

it is inevitable that people will compare the sequel to the first story. although i was not totally disappointed with the sequel, i must say it cannot measure up to the 'phantom of the opera' in terms of story-line and the songs. from the 'phantom', i can remember songs like 'music of the night' and ' all i ask of you'. i did not find any songs from the second musical outstanding even though i have purchased the cd.

it did not play to a full-house. the last time i watched a musical at the same theatre - regent - it was a sold-out performance but at the matinee show, there were a number of empty seats around me. at the end of the performance, there was some semblance of a standing ovation but it was a lukewarm one and it did not really take off.

will i watch it again when it come to singapore? no, not the sequel. although it was visually appealing, it did not captivate my interest as much as the 'phantom of the opera'.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

bicycle's dynamo and ring-lock

i wanted to use this picture (from the national archives of singapore) to show that in the past the lighting for bicycles was generated by a dynamo, usually located near the front wheel of the bicycle.

then the registration plate on the bicycle caught my attention. so, i will talk a bit about the registration of bicycles.

some bicycle owners have recently clamoured for the registration of bicycles to be re-introduced. registration of bicycles in singapore was stopped in 1981. the registry of vehicles (rov) decided to do away with registration because the $5 fee was not enough to cover the adminstrative cost. the main reason given for scrapping the registration was that only 2% of stolen bicycles were recovered.

registration of bicycles in singapore had been done before the war and it resumed after the war. during the japanese occupation, there was also some form of register for bicycle owners. at one time, owners had to renew the licence on a yearly basis, and when the ownership was transferred, a small fee was also charged for the new registration.

(mcs stands for municipal council of singapore)

this bottle dynamo or sidewall dynamo, which was affixed very close to the wheel, usually the front wheel, could be engaged by depressing a lever or catch. when engaged, the roller would be in contact with the tyre.

when the wheel was in motion and the dynamo roller was engaged, electricity was generated as the tyre spun the roller. this would translate into light for the headlight of the bicycle. the faster the wheel spun, the brighter would be the light.

however, even at its brightest, it was not very bright because the voltage was rather low. the bulb tended to blow once in a while, so it was necessary to have replacement bulbs on stand-by.

when engaged, however, there was some resistance, so the rider would have to pedal slightly harder than when the dynamo was disengaged.

this ring-lock used to be a standard item on ordinary bicycles in the past. when the lock was effected, the shaft would come between the spokes of the wheel. it would immobilise the rear wheel to prevent it from being moved. it was not a high security kind of lock as it could be broken or unlocked without the need for great force.

i had thought that these two items - the dynamo and the ring-lock - on the normal bicycle had gone out of fashion until i saw them on several bicycles in sweden.

in singapore, these two items are like antiques. i have not seen them around for a long time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

frog porridge

in my previous posting, i had wondered if i would have attacked frogs the same way that we did the toads. i know i would if the frog came in a clay-pot and there was the porridge to go with it.

i do not think i will ever get to eat frog porridge in melbourne. the westerners - and australia is very much a westernised country - consider frog meat too exotic a dish. if i ever move here, this is one dish i will really miss.

back in singapore, the two better known places for eating frog porridge, as far as i know, are located in geylang. i have eaten at the one stall along lorong 9, opposite the popular beef kway teow shop. another frog porridge stall recommended by some friends is the eminent frog porridge at lorong 19. it seems to me that all the places that sell frog porridge cook the frog in the same way, with more or less the same ingredients.

the frog is invariably cooked kung pao style with ingredients like dried chilli, spring onion and ginger and condiments like dark sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. it is always served in the single-handle clay-pot.

the soft and gluey porridge is sold separately. however, the two items are like pod and pea; they always go together. when you eat kung pao frog meat, it has to go with the porridge.

each frog costs $8 and each small pot of porridge costs $2. to make the porridge more flavourful, you have to add the sauce or gravy from the pot of frog meat.

many people say that frog meat tastes like chicken meat. i think frog meat is tenderer, smoother and sweeter than chicken meat.when i crave for frog porridge, i do not head for geylang. instead i go to one of the lorong 9 branches at 567 balestier road. it is in a coffee-shop at the base of the road leading to balestier hill primary school.