Saturday, October 9, 2021

Catography and other Poor Animal Pics

Both cats that we rescued nearly a year ago are still thriving in their new homes. Above is Harvey, whose fur is so much thicker now that you can see his tabby stripes.
Did you say fur? Moose's fur is 7cm long now! Since we got to cat-sit both of them lately, I tried my hand at catography.
It's not an easy skill, because most of the time they're doing silly things like this. Moose likes a touch of houseplant, and Harvey prefers mug water.
Cats love boxes, and humans think that's cute, so there's a win.
It's hard to get them to look at you, but when they do, you can get this kind of masterpiece!
Although looking up is also cute.
Most pictures show cattitude. Especially if adornment is involved.
I also poorly photographed some unexpected wildlife. This is the White-throated Kingfisher, which we hadn't seen before.
And another uncommon one, the White-headed Munia, which is only 11cm tall!
We've seen the changeable lizard before, but I hadn't noticed her toe extension!
Finally, this is the first snake I've actually seen in Singapore - a Green Tree Snake. I was keeping my distance, since most snakes here are venomous, but this little lady was friendly.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Lessons form Haw Par Villa 4: Vices and Virtues

Given that traditional deity tales are confusing, Haw Par Villa also provides more modern lessons that have been used to scare children for decades.
Let's start with some simple messages. Drugs are bad. You can see here, that this guy is going downhill with his opium troubles and neck beard. Luckily, Mustache man is war hero Lin Zhe Hu, who used Confucian principles to help China fight the British in the Opium wars.
A wise Singaporean once told me I could never understand Confucian principles. So instead: other vices are also bad. This scene allows the clever parent to create their own tale, providing customized child fear and shaming.
You gotta respect your elders, work hard, be loyal, frugal, and avoid gambling and theft, or there will be retribution! This man gambled his hat away, and the cards seem to have melted his hands. Unlucky, but check out his stylish shirt!
I told you - bad stuff goes on if you get this wrong.
Prostitution is not explicitly mentioned, but there are a lot of unexplained dancing women in these dioramas. 
Debts. Very bad.
If you're not frugal, and/or gamble your money away, not only will you have to sell your children, but they'll take your wife away too!
You may not have known this, but if you go out drinking or gambling, your children may get run over by cars.
Finally, if you try to run away from wolves faster than your friend, you'll still die. The lesson here is to be loyal, but I'm not clear how that would have helped. I prefer carrying around cat snacks, just in case.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Lessons from Haw Par Villa #3: Deities

Through my rigorous study of Haw Par Villa, I've learnt that there are three secrets to survival: weapons, friends, and ideally being some kind of hybrid human animal.
As you can see, turtle man and floral fishlady are doing ok in this otherwise grim scene.
You're still at risk, though. Above, a fishperson stabs a personfish. Below, snailman seems to suffer, while the singing lady seems unperturbed.
It's hard to absorb the overall scene, which is the story of the eight immortals invading Neptune's palace. The Queen of the lake of Jade allegedly intermediates, although I don't see that going on.
In Chinese culture, there are many deities.
Above if the god of longevity, below the god of prosperity, both recurring themes.
Even for frogs!So you get to worship a lot of things, if you like. Here are some temples in which to do this.
Buddha also has different forms. I tried to research this, but got confused, worried I'd offend those more scholarly on such subjects, and gave up.
So let's instead consider the weight difference above and below!
Barry was also considering this.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Lessons from Haw Par Villa #2: Kindness, Consent, and Fat

When Haw Par Villa reopened in July, I vowed to revisit it with anthropological precision.
This was harder than I thought, as many of the sculptures have limited explanation, despite the new museum room detailing the lives of the Aw brothers, who founded Tiger balm and this park.
Also, the park has a medley of mythical creatures, moralistic lessons, animals, and themes. I believe the above is where Bali meets the muppets.
Haw Par Villa is about learning important Chinese lessons and morals, right otters (above), and, um, scary blob below?
I have always been surprised at how empty Haw Par Villa is, especially given how instagrammable it is. I assume that this is because many adults were traumatized by this place as children.
Let's start in the waterworld part.
Here, there is a tale of a giant shipwreck where everyone drowns.
You can already see the childhood trauma potential, but that's not the lesson.
This guy is saved by a tortoise! Why? Well, he's Wang Qing, who bought the tortoise one day to free him from slaughter and returned him to the sea. The lesson is supposed to be about acts of kindness, but it seems a bit more like vegetarianism to me.
Two suspicious notes: Wang Qing seems to be having a party for one onboard the tortoise as everyone drowns, which doesn't seem too kind. Secondly, a suspiciously similar looking tortoise is engaged in dealings in another scene. I don't know what's going on with the sketchy deer, fox, rabbit, rat, and weird poster, but it seems that the fox is married to the rabbit in a potentially carnivorous relationship, and I suspect the tortoise of being part of this underworld.
There are repeated themes in the park about consent, and I don't think this rat was feeling like having her cheek pinched by piggy pants.
A surprisingly curvaceous chicken seems to be making similar appeals, in what might be a fowl love triangle? There is definitely a lesson on consent here.
Finally, a diorama that is explained! Here, the lesson is chubbiness is good, which is recurrent in Chinese culture. Emperor Kang Xi had a less successful twin brother, and to prevent harm from happening to him, he ordered him weighed daily and the staff punished if he lost weight. Sounds like a good gig.