austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Oh, how I love to pick them

Breaking tradition today, we went out for touristy adventures. On the TV Mobile on the bus downtown was playing a Kids Central show, The Adventures of Super Einstein, that I'd never seen before. It's a local production, starring Einstein (Some Indian last name I missed), who goes from his secret identity as an artist to the superhero, Super Einstein. In this guise he does simple arts and crafts projects to build what he needs to defeat Doctor Magination, played by Einstein Name like he's not trying too hard to impersonate Doctor Evil. Doctor Magination has a big pillow puppet stitched to look like a brain, and it talks back to him.

Today's action-packed episode had Doctor Magination stealing Singapore's rockets to launch his own imagination-stealing satellite network. Super Einstein did such projects as drawing a large receiving station to eavesdrop on the evil overlord's plan, building his own rocket out of a trash can and cardboard, building a bunch of model planets to get to the evil overlord's lair, drawing in a mountain range and space city for the final conflict with Doctor Magination, and creating his own cardboard jet fighter at Changi Airport. It's rather charming, although the amount of cutting cardboard with razor blades seem to make these projects ill-suited for the roughly seven- or eight-year-olds the show aims at. The evil scheme was foiled, by the way, though one does wonder, confronted with the mad scientist's three camera-fixed ray beams shooting at one, whether painting into the scene and thus building a mountain range and a domed city is the most efficient way of handing things.

It's hard to imagine that not being the whole day, but we were just going downtown to take in the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery and the Singapore Philatelic Museum. The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is, on the first floor, a collection of fire-fighting equipment and gear from Singaporean history, including special attention on major fires (there've been thankfully few) or collapses. It included a ``telephone'' which rang and, when answered, would give a brief talk of how, historically, fire fighting was organized in Singapore, as read by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or at least someone who sounds a lot like the book.

On the second floor things open up to bigger issues, with paramedics (including a very effective trick to peek into an ambulance, using that printed-with-open-dots trick that lets companies put advertisements on bus windows), search-and-rescue operations, and haz-mat outfits. They include a couple chances to put your head and arms into heavy outfits, lacking gloves, and get slightly musty water sprayed on you. We were just going over the various alarm sirens and making pencil tracings of iconic images and reading over Civil Defence procedures in case of war when we heard a gaggle of children coming in, so we made our way out.

And the Philatelic Museum was a charmingly eccentric collection, since postage in Singapore really doesn't have that much subtlety to its story. There's the time before stamps, British stamps, the Japanese Occupation, Britain Part II, the Malaysian experience, and independence. They spruce it up with cultural bits, and special displays. This month had displays on the Olympics and Olympic Stamps -- including stamps readied for the cancelled 1916 Berlin Olympics and the 1940 Olympics which, according to the very poor documents shown, were going to Tokyo and Helsinki. We assume one was the Winter and the other the Summer Games, but it isn't clear. And they had stamps for the 1906 Athens ``Mid-Olympic Games,'' which I've never heard of before.

The other big display was Hans Christian Anderson, who got commemorative stamps (it's the bicentennial of his birth) from Singapore earlier this year. The display included examples of the many commemorative stamps he's had over the years from many countries. We spent time in the gift shop, deciding whether we wanted the Singapore or the Space or the Animals stamp packages, and ultimately got none. The folks running the (small) museum seemed to sense this, and turned the lights off while we were loitering in the shop, thought it was the posted closing time when they did.

And on the way to finding something to eat, we encountered a dance school, ``Jitterbug Swingapore.'' Neat.

On an irrelevant note I saw the designs The New York Times ran as planned Shuttle-derived Shuttle replacement vehicles, manned and unmanned. Apparently the next generation of federal government spaceflight is going to be run by kitbashers.

Trivia: No specific songs were listed in the final script to 1927's The Jazz Singer. Source: The Speed of Sound, Scott Eyman.

Currently Reading: Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 11 (1949), Isaac Asimov, Martin H Greenberg, Editors.


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