Thursday, May 31, 2007

Short Greeting

Welcome back, bro.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Movies, Anyone?

I finally got this in the mail today, my prize for winning the Movies on Spaces blogging competition way back in February. Yep, 6 months of free movies.

VIP Card.jpg

However, it comes with a whole bunch of terms and conditions, which I'll summarize below.
  1. It has to be presented in person at any Golden Village box office.
  2. It can be used for all movies (including screenings at Cinema Europa in VivoCity), except those showing after 5 pm on Saturdays and all Gold Class sessions.
  3. Maximum number of tickets redeemable per movie is two. Which means that if I've already redeemed two tickets to the unholiness that is Shrek the Third, the card can't be used to get any more tickets to that movie forever. And you can't fool the computer.
  4. It is "strictly non-transferable", and a signature is needed at the box office upon receiving the tickets. However, I have thoughtfully signed a simple version on the card, wink wink.
So, people, you know what to do next. To show my gratitude for your support, I will be happy to watch a free movie with you, or to loan you the card get tickets for you.

The lines are open.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Splinter Buster

While vacuuming my room this afternoon, a splinter from my wooden floor stabbed me in the foot and remained stuck.

Half an hour later, after much sweat, effort, and a minor operation by a crack team of hastily-assembled splinter-removers (a.k.a. Keith, with Jed assisting), it was finally withdrawn.

Immediately I went to Ikea and bought this - the Kolon floor protector. No more pesky splinters will stab me in my room again!

SISTIC's Reply

Their reply, in response to the letter I sent. To be fair, they did so on the actual day I sent it, which is a very decent response time.
Our apologies for the unpleasant incident you encountered and the inconvenience caused. We appreciate your feedback and have since looked into it.

Based on the recorded teleconversation between the staff concerned at Bugis Junction, the duty manager concerned at SISTIC and yourself, we noted the frustration you experienced.

Our investigation has shown that the staff concerned at Bugis Junction did not understand why your booking was not entitled to the early bird discount and hence communicated with our duty manager concerned in <language>. We have since highlighted the importance of customer service to both of them and counselled them accordingly. We would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that whilst our duty manager concerned was executing her duties in the daily course of her work, she should have been more tactful and used her initiative when handling this matter.

We have been in touch with <production company> and are pleased to inform you that they have acceded to your refund request. Zura, our Customer Service Officer, has since contacted you this afternoon and advised you to visit our Box Office before the early bird discount ends. In addition, Zura has explained the need for you to bring the physical tickets along in order for the exchange to be processed.

Once again, we thank you for sharing your feedback with us and look forward to your continued support.
And here's my final reply to that:
Thank you for your timely response. I have since replaced my tickets at the box office, and I would also like to extend my appreciation for your prompt action regarding the matter.

At the same time, I wish also to state for the record that my statements on the conversation between the counter staff and the duty manager have nothing to do with my feelings on their choice of language used; it was simply based on my interpretation of their tone and body language, which might have been flawed, considering my state of frustration at the time.

Basically, what I am saying is, I did not intend for my comments to be in any way racist, xenophobic or language-biased. Upon re-reading my original letter, I am aware that they could have been misconstrued as such, if one were reading very finely in-between the lines. So, if they feel that I have in any way sounded like a bigot, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for my poor choice of words.
Just in case. You never know.

Monday, May 28, 2007

First Prize!

27 May 07
Draw No: 2547
1st Prize 6368

Your Selections
6 3 6 8
6368 matches 1st prize 6368
Bet Amount
$1 Big $1 Small
Prize per $1 bet
$166 Big $250 Small
Your Winnings
$166 Big $250 Small
Total Winnings
You have won $416

First time I ever struck 4D. The previous time was Toto. Too bad it's only iBet, so it's only a small fraction of what it could've been.

Still, it's a nice feeling first thing in the morning.

I Think I'm Getting Alzheimer's

I went out to meet a friend for dinner. We ended up at a little eatery in Far East Plaza. After dinner and conversation, he needed to buy socks, so we walked to Metro at Paragon. Then it was off to Ben Sherman to look at what they had on sale (nothing significant) and then McDonald's for a quick drink.

He gave me a ride back to my place. I invited him into my house for a look-around, because it is a cool house.

My keys weren't in my pocket. We went back and looked in the car, but couldn't find them.

Nevermind, I must've dropped them somewhere. I can always make duplicates from my cousin, I thought.

Then halfway back to the house, I stopped dead in my tracks.


"What happened?"

"I left home with a bag!"

It had my new(-ish) digital camera (bought for S$500), iPod (bought for S$700) and Sennheiser headphones (bought for S$150) inside. So, not including anything else, the dollar loss would be S$1,350.

Fuck, indeed.

We jumped back into the car and he sped off to the McDonald's at Lido. Nope, they hadn't seen a bag anywhere.

Back to the eatery at Far East Plaza. Would they still be open? It was almost 10 pm.

Lo and behold, they were just about to close up. Did they see a bag?

The aunty looked at me. "You're very lucky you know. You left it right outside, anyone could've taken it. I only saw it when I came back after making a delivery."

The chef reached behind the counter and fished out my black sling bag which I've owned for over 10 years (yes, I'm amazed it's lasted that long as well - but then again my mom's repaired it before).

Camera - check, iPod - check, headphones - check.


Big thank you to the kind folks at Veri Good (#05-54 Far East Plaza). Also thanks to Jinhao for all the back-and-forth driving.

So yeah, I forgot I brought my bag out. It's still not as bad as Zing's friend, who once forgot that she'd driven her car and walked home, then had to walk back for the car. Ha.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My Saturday Afternoon

Half a bottle of vermouth, a chocolate-eating binge, some pure honey, peanut butter, biscuits and drunk dialing later...

It's nice to get drunk early in the day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Feel Good March

So I saw a whole bunch of movies in March, trying to squeeze them in before my China trip, and I didn't really have time to write them up. So here they are, grouped according to random themes. Let's start off with the inspirational, feel-good ones.

Rather surprisingly, there were four of those in March alone. I dunno, are people so depressed around that time they need major cheering up?

After years and years of crap, Sylvester Stallone attempts a comeback of sorts with Rocky Balboa, picking up years after the original series left off. And you know what, I liked it, which surprised even me. Perhaps it's the years of shit he's had to go through, but Stallone really throws heart and soul into the inspirational pep talks and soul-baring moments, of which there were probably too many. If you think you're way too cynical from the crap that daily life throws at you, this might be a good choice to try and get some of that original drive you had back. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve, but sometimes that's not a bad thing if it's sincere about it.

If Rocky Balboa is comfort food meant to pick you up in your time of need, then Music and Lyrics is like cotton candy - light, fluffy, and ultimately amounting to nothing much at all. Hugh Grant does his usual glib Englishman shtick which he's really very good at, and that's enough to entertain most of the time. And you also have to admit, celebrity has-beens are funny in and of themselves. Drew Barrymore plays, well, the typical Drew Barrymore spacey chick with her head in the clouds. Her character was rather annoying in the sense that her quirks were totally unnecessary for the character and seemed to have been thrown in in a failed bid to make a flat character interesting. There are rather hilarious send-ups of the music industry as well, and as far as popcorn entertainment goes, you could do much worse. Good songs, by the way, but I wasn't expecting anything less from the frontman of Fountains of Wayne.

Many people have said good things about The Pursuit of Happyness, but I'm not going to be one of them. Yes, Chris Gardner's story is great, mind-over-matter kind of stuff, but I'm not sure the slick Hollywoodization of it is all that fantastic. Everything has a glossy veneer over it, and it's all just too neat and pat and calculated to really hit me at my vulnerable spots. It's like watching a sports movie - you know the team of ragtag losers will win at the end, it's just watching them get there. And no matter how cute Will Smith and son are together, it's not enough to make me believe in the human element of it (yes, I do know it's a true story, just that there isn't enough grit and flaws for me to really believe).

Freedom Writers does nothing new, but it does it with heart. And hey, it's about writing, which I like. So even though the old story of a white teacher going into a crappy school and teaching all the kids that there's something of value in their lives and writing is nothing to cry home about, it's still an OK enough time at the movies. It isn't really good, but neither is it bad, which in the end amounts to a big bucket of mediocrity.


Sunday, May 20, 2007


I don't get what's up with these banks. When I apply for credit cards you reject me because I don't earn enough. Then all of a sudden a whole bunch of you start calling me up and offering them to me, all at once. Is there some kind of conspiracy going on? Or merely eager beaver recruits trying to hit their quotas?

2 cards (or perhaps even more) from new banks plus 3 new cards from Citibank (which I admit, I applied for myself because I wanted their discounts) equals a too-fat wallet. Out of all of them, the Citibank ones seem the most cool, because I can actually pay for stuff with my fingerprint. Biometrics, whatever will they think of next? Maybe in future I'll just have to spit in a jar and my bill will be paid.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Not One Wink

I did not sleep at all last night. And I'm still wide awake now.

Fuck. Maybe I should become an alcoholic. At least they have no problems passing out.

Letter to SISTIC

Since I couldn't sleep, I thought I'd write this letter and blog it as well. I'd really like to hear their reply to this.
I have been a customer of SISTIC for years, and while the service has not been great, it has certainly not been atrocious. But perhaps that was because I never really ran into any problems before this. Because once I had a pressing problem that needed to be solved, not only did the service staff not offer any solutions, their only response was to defensively lay the blame solely on me. This is simply unacceptable customer service.

On May 7, I bought two tickets for <show> on <date> online, mistakenly thinking that I would qualify for the Early Bird discount. Unfortunately, through my own carelessness, I did not realize that the dates were not valid for the discount, and even though the website showed this, I assumed that there was a mistake with the system.

On May 12, at around 8pm, I collected my tickets from the SISTIC counter at Bugis Junction, and only realized my mistake when the counter staff called the main office and clarified the details. I requested for a refund, but the counter staff said it was impossible. I then asked to speak to the person on the phone, who turned out to be an assistant manager, and she also repeated that it was impossible and against company policy to do so.

Now, I'm not asking for a change of tickets - I've brought the matter up to <name of company>, who are the organizers of the show, and they are taking care of the matter for me. My complaint is with the attitudes displayed by the counter staff and the assistant manager that evening - mainly with the assistant manager.

When I requested to speak to her on the phone, the counter staff was slow in responding to this. Instead I had to wait for almost a minute while he appeared to be chit-chatting to her. Granted, I do not understand <non-Chinese, non-English language>, so I cannot be sure what the contents of their conversation was, but from his demeanor and his chuckling, it appeared to be chit-chatting. At the very least, I thought, he could've told me "One moment, sir" or something like that, instead of making me stand there and just look at him.

When I finally got to speak to the assistant manager on the phone, she was completely unhelpful regarding the matter. While she wasn't rude, she did nothing except point out that it was my fault, and that I could've called before noon the next day if I suspected something was wrong.

Now, that was just unnecessary, because I knew that it was my fault already and didn't need her to tell me that. The more she repeated it, the more unhappy and frustrated I got, because it didn't help my situation at all. Furthermore, if I had suspected something in the first place I would've called, but the fact of the matter is that I didn't suspect anything was wrong. It was a completely useless observation.

Furthermore, when I asked if a change of dates was possible, all she could say was it was against company policy to do so, without providing any reason or detailed explanation. This was certainly no help in dealing with a customer who was getting angrier by the second, and only served to inflame me - and I must admit, I did raise my voice, and I apologize for that. However, it was purely out of consternation and frustration with the non-replies I was getting.

A friend of mine told me the next day that SISTIC is merely an agent, and all figures, etc are sent daily to the organizers, who are ultimately in charge of the ticketing and discounts, etc. As such, I would need to contact the organizers in order to exchange my tickets. She works in the events line, so she would know such information, and I doubt the general public does. I certainly didn't.

So what's unforgivable to me, is that there was no explanation of this policy or any suggestions on what steps I could take from the assistant manager. If she had explained the rationale behind the policy, instead of merely parroting the "company policy" phrase, I would've at least understood why she couldn't help in my request. Additionally, she failed to tell me that I could contact the event organizer to help with my request, when that would've at least helped me on my way to solving my problem.

Instead, all her stock replies did was incense me further, causing me to lose my temper and take it out on her. What purpose does that serve? SISTIC really needs to train its staff to understand customers' needs better and to provide helpful suggestions. Falling back on the old excuse of "company policy" is simply a lazy alternative to actually providing any real service.

I realize that SISTIC is pretty much a monopoly in the market, because all your competitors are too small to really compete effectively. This does not mean that you should rest on your laurels and become complacent, for this is what it looks like to me. Laziness and stock replies do not make good customer service. In this respect, SISTIC still has a long way to go towards decent standards, and it makes a mockery of the very values it purports to uphold on its website. I may continue to be your customer, because I'm hardly given a choice if I want to attend events and performances, but I'm disappointed to say that my goodwill towards your company has been extinguished by this pathetic exercise in customer relations.
Yeah, I admit, I'm an asshole who loses his temper at someone and then writes a complaint letter about them. Sorry it's not entirely eloquent at times - I'm prone to ranting.

God, I love writing vicious letters.

Addendum: Thanks to cherubin, I also sent the email to their General Manager and Customer Service Manager. Now they definitely can't ignore me.


Random Kitty.jpg

Sometimes I wish I was a kitty.

We've Got Crabs!

I haven't done a photo post for quite a while. And I think this must be the most quickly I've updated my blog, considering the crab dinner only took place mere hours ago.

Wall of Crab.jpg
Specials written on crab shells. Pretty cool.

CY Beehoon.jpg
Chew Yen loves her crab beehoon.

MX Beehoon.jpg

MX Claw.jpg

J Hamster.jpg
Jeannie doing her hamster impression.

Crab Trio.jpg
The crab ladies.

Z Crazy.jpg
Zing flips out!

Davy Jones.jpg
My best Davy Jones (from Pirates) impression.

MX Beak.jpg
As you can see, I love playing with my food.

Jeannie Full.jpg
Jeannie gets stuffed.

Very bizarre.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why I Bought a Bluetooth Headset

Because it was cheap, only about S$30 at this store in China.

Because I like to confuse other people by using it around them so that they'll think I'm actually talking to them.

And the number one reason is:

Because I can run phone errands (eg. call the bank) while I'm taking a dump.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


It should be against the law for zits to grow on the face of anyone who's 25 years and older.

That is all.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Haiku for a Demised Ashtray

All my fault. Wind blew
The mat off the parapet
And you fell with it.

Now my pretty white flowerpot from Ikea that has served me well for over a year rests in pieces in my trash can.

Adieu. I was truly fond of you.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007










Monday, May 07, 2007

The Worst of 2006

Crap de la Crap

3 Needles - It's clumsily-made and shoves the Message in your face every five minutes or so. The scenes set in China have different Chinese dialects flying all over the place, which is rather insulting.
Eragon - It looks cheap, has horrible acting and was written by a kid who stole every trick in the book, but lacked the skill to put it all together.
Hard Candy - After the brilliant opening scenes, it lurches downhill to become disgusting, exploitative and shamefully manipulative.
The High Cost of Living - It looks cheap, has horrible acting and seemed to be written by a kid who stole every trick in the book, but lacked the skill to put it all together.
Lady in the Water - Stars M. Night Shyamalan's Ego, and lacks any narrative sense whatsoever.
The Libertine - Tantalizes with a juicy opening monologue, but fails to deliver on all counts. Even Johnny Depp looks lost, as if he can't remember why he signed on for this piece of crap.
La Vida es silbar (Life Is to Whistle) - Magic realism and overt symbolism combine to form a long, painful, drawn-out mess of a film.
Open Season - The horror of fart jokes and lame cultural references overwhelm everything that could possibly be good about the movie. Not that there was anything that could have been good about it, since Ashton Kutcher is involved.
Question - Has the dubious honor of the film with the most sex I saw all year, but yet is one of the most boring.
人魚朵朵 (The Shoe Fairy) - This movie was Cute, so Cute I wanted to throw up. It also went nowhere at all.


American Dreamz - From the brothers that brought you About a Boy comes... a satire with no bite.
Cidade Baixa (Lower City) - The producer of City of God brings us this fine piece of trash with stupid, annoying characters running around having sex with each other and beating one another up.
傷城 (Confession of Pain) - I confess, I felt a great deal of pain while watching this pointless exercise in mopey navel-gazing, by the crack team that brought us Infernal Affairs.
Invisible Waves - The director's last film was well received by critics. However, this is complete shit, which was also shot shittily by Chris Doyle.
Nacho Libre - Jack Black playing a Mexican wrestler! What could be funnier? Actually, lots of things...
Snakes on a Plane - Didn't quite go far enough to enter the realm of Great Bad Movies, probably because it was so self-consciously trying to do so.
トニー滝谷 (Tony Takitani) - A Haruki Murakami adaptation, how exciting. Actually, some stories are better left on the page.
臥虎 (Wo Hu, a.k.a. Operation Undercover) - A cast that reads like a Who's Who of Hong Kong cinema doesn't disguise the fact that Wong Jing, the King of Crap, is involved in this.
World Trade Center - A sanitized Oliver Stone makes for really boring moviegoing.
X-Men: The Last Stand - Brett Ratner fucked it up. 'Nuff said.


The Da Vinci Code - Tom Hanks' hair was alive, but unfortunately the movie flatlined. How on Earth did it make so much fucking money?
The Departed - Marty, I know you won an Oscar for this, but Infernal Affairs did it so much better, and with far less showboating (then again, Jack Nicholson wasn't in its cast)
Glastonbury - An overlong and pointless documentary that has no focus besides "Look, isn't Glastonbury cool as fuck?"
Indigènes (Days of Glory) - Sure, it made the French government sit up and make amends for screwing people over, but it's still a rote war flick with no imagination.
Jarhead - Like the war, ultimately rather pointless.
Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist) - Rambling and unfocused; I don't know what the big fuss about it was.
NAGASAKI・1945 アンゼラスの鐘 (Nagasaki 1945 - The Angelus Bells) - Comes highly recommended by lots of Japanese government agencies. Then again, that should've been a warning to me. Dull, preachy and repetitive.
North Country - By the book and boring. Charlize Theron didn't make a difference at all.
Transamerica - Besides the lead actress, there's nothing to shout about.
U-Carmen eKhayelitsha - Sounds like an interesting idea, but falls flat in execution due to overlong song and dance numbers, as well as awkward, abrupt narrative choices.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Good Morning

So I only got two hours or so of sleep last night for some strange reason, and after writing the previous post, went outside for a smoke. That's when I saw this, and thought to myself, "It's a beautiful morning".

Kinda rare round these parts.

The Best of 2006

Since I can't sleep, I might as well blog. And what better post to write at 5 in the morning than one that's almost half a year late?

Disclaimer: Only films seen in 2006 are included in this list - it is not representative of the films that were released in 2006. We often get films, especially arthouse films, released much later here than in the US. Films which were released more than a year back and now screened as retrospectives, etc. in festivals are also banned from the Top 10.

Top 10 for 2006 (in alphabetical order)

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Quite possibly the funniest movie all year, and a damn sharp satire to boot. Did I mention that Sacha Baron Cohen is a freakin' genius? Also wins the Most Hilarious Display of Male Genitalia Award.

Brokeback Mountain
I don't really have to write anything about this movie anymore, do I?

A stunning performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman simply makes the movie.

The Constant Gardener
At its heart, it's a wrenching love story, beautifully told. Oh yeah, and there's lots of dying people in Africa too.

Little Miss Sunshine
Funny as hell, with lots of heart, love for its characters and situations that are completely absurd yet never seem forced.

The Prestige
Mindfuckery entertainment at its best. Chris Nolan does it again.

(Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles)
Simple, moving story of a father's quest to do right by his son.

Shooting Dogs (a.k.a. Beyond the Gates)
Visceral and moving portrait of (yes, again) strife-ridden Rwanda, which strikes out against the impotency of "aid". I dare you to sit through the closing credits without shedding a tear.

The world is fucked up by power-hungry governments and evil corporations. We all know that, but Syriana shows us exactly how it's done, and we feel like killing ourselves afterwards because there is no hope, and no escape.

Whole New Thing
It's a pity this is only now showing in the US, and probably will never make it to the rest of the world. A sensitive teenager falls for his English teacher, who, by the way, is also a male. Melodramatic clichés immediately come to mind, but the excellent script sidesteps all of them neatly, and presents a sensitive, moving, but still very funny coming of age tale.

Close, But No Cigar (or, the best of the rest)

父子 (After This Our Exile) - Patrick Tam returns with a measured, moving father-and-son tale. Aaron Kwok shows he can actually act, and rather well too.
Broken Flowers - Bill Murray works his magic again.
Caché - Nail-bitingly tense mindfuck of a movie where very little actually happens, but you're still on edge all the same. I Heart Haneke.
黑社會: 以和為貴 (Election 2, a.k.a. Triad Election) - Politics and gangsterism get ground up together (those who've seen this will recognize the phrase as an awful joke) in this darker and more brutal sequel by Johnnie To.
Good Night, and Good Luck - They don't make journalists like they used to.
Match Point - Lotsa fun from Woody, and Scarlett is lovely.
Me and You and Everyone We Know - Quirky and lovable little indie.
The New World - Gorgeous and evocative. Yay, Malick.
美滿人間 (Singapore Dreaming) - The Singapore Dream examined, dissected, and found sorely lacking.
Thank You for Smoking - A witty satire (and there are very few of those around) with sharp dialogue, perfect acting (except maybe from the kid) and assured direction from a newcomer.

Top-Notch Entertainment Top 10

Casino Royale
瘋狂的石頭 (Crazy Stone)
放逐 (Exiled)
Inside Man
Miami Vice
Mission: Impossible III
Superman Returns
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The Devil Wears Prada, unfortunately, fails to make the grade because it's only entertaining when Meryl Streep is onscreen.

Damn, there were a lotta good movies last year - a whole bunch I really liked couldn't even make the list due to lack of space. So far this year looks pretty shitty in comparison. Good night, and good luck.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

With Great Expectations Come Great... Big Movies

Finally I get the chance to post on a movie before Tim does, because Spider-Man 3 doesn't open in the US till May 4, while it premieres all over the world (I think) on the 1st.

As anyone who's seen the trailer can tell you, there's a lot going on in this movie. With Sandman, the New Goblin and Venom, the number of villains have tripled as compared to the first two instalments. The budget at a reported US$250 million is larger than that for Peter Jackson's overstuffed King Kong. So how does the movie stack up?

In terms of action setpieces, while there are probably more than there were previously, none of them have that wow factor of the train sequence in Spider-Man 2, both in terms of sheer thrills and emotional punch. The effects work is fantastic though, especially for Flint Marko's transformation into Sandman. When he regains a partial human form and reaches for a locket containing his daughter's picture, the barely-there face manages to evoke pathos beyond what most actors can achieve with their full face.

When watching the trailer, one concern I had was that the movie seemed to contain too many elements for it to work as a cohesive whole. I was both right and wrong on that worry, because while everything tied up with the theme of revenge and regret, the sheer number of plot points meant that many of them (along with many supporting characters) had to be dealt with perfunctorily in touch-and-go scenes. The Venom thread, especially, seems shortchanged with more questions than answers. In rushing from plot to plot, it also doesn't have time for subtlety, although Raimi does make time for a few chuckles - Bruce Campbell's cameo as a maître d’ is especially hilarious. While many subplots feel rushed, the second act where Peter turns to the Dark Side still manages, for some reason, to feel sluggish, and more judicious editing could have kept the movie under two hours as opposed to the ungainly 140 minutes it ended up being.

Still, I must emphasize that the flaws that the movie has is only in relation to the previous instalments, which were simply too well done. But I suppose that's quibbling, because when you hold it up to other examples of comic book movies, it still stands out from the pack (which include craptastic company like Batman & Robin, Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider). Sam Raimi never forgets that ultimately, it's the characters' story arcs that are the most important, and their humanity is what elevates it above everything else in the genre. Did I cry, like I did at the first two? You betcha. And if a movie does that, I can usually forgive everything else.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fuck It

Why can't people just come right out and say what they think? Wouldn't that make everything a lot easier, as well as cut down on miscommunication and time wasted?

Ah, fuck it.

Words from Kurt

I don't normally reproduce shit I find online, but once in a blue moon, something resonates with me, and I'm compelled to. Here's something I stole from The Onion AV Club.

R.I.P., Mr. V.

15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will
By Scott Gordon, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Sean O'Neal, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan
April 23rd, 2007

1. "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

The actual advice here is technically a quote from Kurt Vonnegut's "good uncle" Alex, but Vonnegut was nice enough to pass it on at speeches and in A Man Without A Country. Though he was sometimes derided as too gloomy and cynical, Vonnegut's most resonant messages have always been hopeful in the face of almost-certain doom. And his best advice seems almost ridiculously simple: Give your own happiness a bit of brainspace.

2. "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."

In Cat's Cradle, the narrator haplessly stumbles across the cynical, cultish figure Bokonon, who populates his religious writings with moronic, twee aphorisms. The great joke of Bokononism is that it forces meaning on what's essentially chaos, and Bokonon himself admits that his writings are lies. If the protagonist's trip to the island nation of San Lorenzo has any cosmic purpose, it's to catalyze a massive tragedy, but the experience makes him a devout Bokononist. It's a religion for people who believe religions are absurd, and an ideal one for Vonnegut-style humanists.

3. "Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand."

Another koan of sorts from Cat's Cradle and the Bokononist religion (which phrases many of its teachings as calypsos, as part of its absurdist bent), this piece of doggerel is simple and catchy, but it unpacks into a resonant, meaningful philosophy that reads as sympathetic to humanity, albeit from a removed, humoring, alien viewpoint. Man's just another animal, it implies, with his own peculiar instincts, and his own way of shutting them down. This is horrifically cynical when considered closely: If people deciding they understand the world is just another instinct, then enlightenment is little more than a pit-stop between insoluble questions, a necessary but ultimately meaningless way of taking a sanity break. At the same time, there's a kindness to Bokonon's belief that this is all inevitable and just part of being a person. Life is frustrating and full of pitfalls and dead ends, but everybody's gotta do it.

4. "There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."

This line from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater comes as part of a baptismal speech the protagonist says he's planning for his neighbors' twins: "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind." It's an odd speech to make over a couple of infants, but it's playful, sweet, yet keenly precise in its summation of everything a new addition to the planet should need to know. By narrowing down all his advice for the future down to a few simple words, Vonnegut emphasizes what's most important in life. At the same time, he lets his frustration with all the people who obviously don't get it leak through just a little.

5. "She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is doing."

A couple of pages into Cat's Cradle, protagonist Jonah/John recalls being hired to design and build a doghouse for a lady in Newport, R.I., who "claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly." With such knowledge, "she could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be." When Jonah shows her the doghouse's blueprint, she says she can't read it. He suggests taking it to her minister to pass along to God, who, when he finds a minute, will explain it "in a way that even you can understand." She fires him. Jonah recalls her with a bemused fondness, ending the anecdote with this Bokonon quote. It's a typical Vonnegut zinger that perfectly summarizes the inherent flaw of religious fundamentalism: No one really knows God's ways.

6. "Many people need desperately to receive this message: 'I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'"

In this response to his own question—"Why bother?"—in Timequake, his last novel, Vonnegut doesn't give a tired response about the urge to create; instead, he offers a pointed answer about how writing (and reading) make a lonesome world a little less so. The idea of connectedness—familial and otherwise—ran through much of his work, and it's nice to see that toward the end of his career, he hadn't lost the feeling that words can have an intimate, powerful impact.

7. "There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too."

Though this quote comes from the World War II-centered Mother Night (published in 1961), its wisdom and ugly truth still ring. Vonnegut (who often said "The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected") was righteously skeptical about war, having famously survived the only one worth fighting in his lifetime. And it's never been more true: Left or right, Christian or Muslim, those convinced they're doing violence in service of a higher power and against an irretrievably inhuman enemy are the most dangerous creatures of all.

8. "Since Alice had never received any religious instruction, and since she had led a blameless life, she never thought of her awful luck as being anything but accidents in a very busy place. Good for her."

Vonnegut's excellent-but-underrated Slapstick (he himself graded it a "D") was inspired by his sister Alice, who died of cancer just days after her husband was killed in an accident. Vonnegut's assessment of Alice's character—both in this introduction and in her fictional stand-in, Eliza Mellon Swain—is glowing and remarkable, and in this quote from the book's introduction, he manages to swipe at a favorite enemy (organized religion) and quietly, humbly embrace someone he clearly still missed a lot.

9. "That is my principal objection to life, I think: It's too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes."

The narrator delivering this line at the end of the first chapter of Deadeye Dick is alluding both to his father's befriending of Hitler and his own accidental murder of his neighbor, but like so many of these quotes, it resonates well beyond its context. The underlying philosophy of Vonnegut's work was always that existence is capricious and senseless, a difficult sentiment that he captured time and again with a bemused shake of the head. Indeed, the idea that life is just a series of small decisions that culminate into some sort of "destiny" is maddening, because you could easily ruin it all simply by making the wrong one. Ordering the fish, stepping onto a balcony, booking the wrong flight, getting married—a single misstep, and you're done for. At least when you're dead, you don't have to make any more damn choices. Wherever Vonnegut is, he's no doubt grateful for that.

10. "Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak."

Vonnegut touchstones like life on Tralfamadore and the absurd Bokononist religion don't help people escape the world so much as see it with clearer reason, which probably had a lot to do with Vonnegut's education as a chemist and anthropologist. So it's unsurprising that in a "self-interview" for The Paris Review, collected in his non-fiction anthology Palm Sunday, he said the literary world should really be looking for talent among scientists and doctors. Even when taking part in such a stultifying, masturbatory exercise for a prestigious journal, Vonnegut was perfectly readable, because he never forgot where his true audience was.

11. "All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental."

In Vonnegut's final novel, 1997's Timequake, he interacts freely with Kilgore Trout and other fictional characters after the end of a "timequake," which forces humanity to re-enact an entire decade. (Trout winds up too worn out to exercise free will again.) Vonnegut writes his own fitting epigram for this fatalistic book: "All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental," which sounds more funny than grim. Vonnegut surrounds his characters—especially Trout—with meaninglessness and hopelessness, and gives them little reason for existing in the first place, but within that, they find liberty and courage.

12. "Why don't you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don't you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?"

Even when Vonnegut dared to propose a utopian scheme, it was a happily dysfunctional one. In Slapstick, Wilbur Swain wins the presidency with a scheme to eliminate loneliness by issuing people complicated middle names (he becomes Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain) which make them part of new extended families. He advises people to tell new relatives they hate, or members of other families asking for help: "Why don't you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don't you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?" Of course, this fails to prevent plagues, the breakdown of his government, and civil wars later in the story.

13. "So it goes."

Unlike many of these quotes, the repeated refrain from Vonnegut's classic Slaughterhouse-Five isn't notable for its unique wording so much as for how much emotion—and dismissal of emotion—it packs into three simple, world-weary words that simultaneously accept and dismiss everything. There's a reason this quote graced practically every elegy written for Vonnegut over the past two weeks (yes, including ours): It neatly encompasses a whole way of life. More crudely put: "Shit happens, and it's awful, but it's also okay. We deal with it because we have to."

14. "I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled 'science fiction' ever since, and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal."

Vonnegut was as trenchant when talking about his life as when talking about life in general, and this quote from an essay in Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons is particularly apt; as he explains it, he wrote Player Piano while working for General Electric, "completely surrounded by machines and ideas for machines," which led him to put some ideas about machines on paper. Then it was published, "and I learned from the reviewers that I was a science-fiction writer." The entire essay is wry, hilarious, and biting, but this line stands out in particular as typifying the kind of snappishness that made Vonnegut's works so memorable.

15. "We must be careful about what we pretend to be."

In Mother Night, apolitical expatriate American playwright Howard W. Campbell, Jr. refashions himself as a Nazi propagandist in order to pass coded messages on to the U.S. generals and preserve his marriage to a German woman—their "nation of two," as he calls it. But in serving multiple masters, Campbell ends up ruining his life and becoming an unwitting inspiration to bigots. In his 1966 introduction to the paperback edition, Vonnegut underlines Mother Night's moral: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." That lesson springs to mind every time a comedian whose shtick relies on hoaxes and audience-baiting—or a political pundit who traffics in shock and hyperbole—gets hauled in front of the court of public opinion for pushing the act too far. Why can't people just say what they mean? It's a question Don Imus and Michael Richards—and maybe someday Ann Coulter—must ask themselves on their many sleepless nights.