Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011 (back in Singapore)

IN AN EFFORT TO STAY AWAKE (PART I).... WATCH WORKERS WORK: The plane landed about an hour ahead of schedule, at 4:45 a.m. Sunday Oct. 30. Essentially, I bypassed Saturday entirely, having left Newark at 11 p.m. Eastern Time--just ahead of the wicked storm that struck Saturday and Sunday. The day's main task was to STAY AWAKE. One way I did that was to stare unthinkingly out the hotel window at a couple of remarkable building cleaners (right). They resembled Spiderman as they "walked" along the exterior wall of the neighboring Maybank building. They performed without a net, but, presumably, with plenty of good rigging and hooks and ropes around them. This kept my attention. This kept me awake.

IN AN EFFORT TO STAY AWAKE (PART 2).... WATCH A HALLOWE'EN DANCE TO MICHAEL JACKSON'S "THRILLER": One of the first things we did on Sunday morning, within hours of arrival from Newark, was to take a walk around Marina Bay. All was as I remembered it, until we arrived at the city's signature Merlion statue. When we left in May, the scaffolding and walls were being dismantled from around the waterfront statue, ending a weeks-long exhibit that put the Merlion INSIDE a temporary hotel room. Now it stands, uncaged, in all its water-spewing glory.
Anyway, on the E'en of Hallowe'en, we heard the distinctive strains of one of Michael Jackson's great tunes, "Thriller," coming from the area around the Merlion. As we arrived, we found a group of costumed youngsters (above) dancing to the music, in bright sunshine and nearly 80-degree weather. They were, indeed, "sweatin' to the oldies."
From a distance, I spotted the organizer and noticed the shirt she was wearing. When she turned her back to me, I thought the image above the words showed a profile of Vietnam. Or Italy. Or my spleen. Then I got close enough to read the writing: "His music will live forever." Indeed.
I heard nobody mention the ongoing trial in L.A.
IT would have been great if one of the costumed kids had shown up wearing a "CPDRC Inmate" costume.

IN AN EFFORT TO STAY AWAKE (PART 3).... WATCH WORLD CUP TABLE TENNIS: How lucky can we be? We discovered from the Straits Times that Singapore was hosting the Volkswagen 2011 Women's World Cup--in TABLE TENNIS. Sure enough, Sandy--gamer that she is--needed only moderate convincing-cajoling-cooing. After a pilsner and Cobb salad at Brewerkz on Clarke Quaye (site of our February Super Bowl viewing), we caught a cab to the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.
The hall, which probably seats about 2,000, was nearly full. (In the photo above, Sandy and I are inside the circle to the right.) (None of my photos came out. The players moved too fast. I did get a photo of Dr. Tony Tan, right, president of the Republic of Singapore, who, fortunately sat quite still for at least one moment.) The thundersticks (aka, ballonstix, cheerstix, bangers, bambams) were prominent. (Too prominent, actually. Sandy nearly got whacked on her left ear a couple of times by an thundersticker with a large wingspan.) The table tennis (aka ping-pong) was, in a word, outstanding. The hand-eye coordination was amazing. So, too, was the hitting.
This was an excellent break from other sports:

Unlike tennis, there were no ball boys or ball girls. The competitors have to track down the wayward pong, or is it a ping. Maybe neither. Each had to go get the ball. If the ball bounded beyond the low walls surrounding the playing area, people (often cameramen) tossed it back in play.

Unlike baseball, they use the same ball throughout a game. They might have switched balls between games, but there was none of the annoying ball-replacement that slows down an already-slow baseball game. This is more like cricket. The same ball seemed to be used throughout--certainly during each game. As the ball "aged" and "cured" throughout the game, the players kept pace. I think they were using the official 2.7-gram, 40-mm-diameter celluloid sphere.

Unlike American football, there was no "posturing" or "trash-talking" or "taunting." Displays of celebration included a subtle fist pump. There were some grimaces. Definitely no "woofing".

Unlike cricket, the scoring was straight-forward and, dare I say, intuitive.

Unlike Rest-of-the-World football, there was no faking of injuries.

Unlike American college basketball, there were no 20-second timeouts that last long enough to accommodate a 45-second television advertisement. (During a timeout, an official emerged and placed an LED clock on the ping pong table, at the end used by the player calling the timeout. The LED showed a clock ticking down.)

Unlike, say, the Georgia-Florida football game, there was no tail-gating.

The winner was Ding Ning of China. Most of the crowd was interested in the match for third place, which featured fourth-ranked Singaporean Feng Tianwei (shown below). But she lost to Hong Kong's Tie Yana.

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