A few weeks ago gutierrez mentioned he'd be coming to Singapore, on the pretext of a conference. Rather quickly we started hoping to meet up, to discover that he has very little time in town, and much of it was rather tightly scheduled around conference activities. In fact, the past week has been a volley of my e-mailing him to report that I'm not available because of class work -- or, today, a medical screening appointment I had forgotten -- and him e-mailing that he's not available because of conference obligations. I was ready to accept we weren't going to meet this trip when I got his e-mail that he was free; could I meet him at 7:30? Since it was 7:00, and he was downtown, this could be a challenge, but I leapt in, found the buses too slow, waiting in an exceedingly slow queue for a taxi, and got a cab ride from a driver who kept talking. I assumed he was talking on his hand phone, but I have the disconcerting feeling he was talking to me. At the least he kept muttering ``Hah'' or ``Right'' at traffic.
So I got there late, but that was fine, as he did too. With the vague idea of finding dinner we started off along Orchard Road, marveling at the Christmas decorations, and soon ran out of Orchard Road. So we turned around and walked the other way, towards the Mos Burger, through speakers playing a lot of Christmas tunes from ``Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer'' through to ``Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time''. A fast food dinner may not seem like much, but I like the pop cultural feel that an ordinary place like that gives you. So we had a pleasant dinner, some odd rice-bun-based burger-class sandwiches and a side of butterfly prawns, and talked over all manner of things. Somewhere during dinner the restaurant's radio switched from Christmas Tunes to 1980s Pop.
He showed me (through his camera) many of the photographs he'd taken of Singapore and of attractions like the Jurong Bird Park, the Orchard Gardens, or miscellaneous places. He reported frightening incidents in places like Sim Lin Tower, an electronics center with very aggressive clerks which I just can't take what with my temperament; or Little India or Arab Street or Chinatown, with similar brushes with merchants. I countered with anecdotes where available, and with helpful comments like, ``Oh, were you able to get to (the reverse bungee, the Japanese kitsch store one mall down, et cetera)?'', all of which he wasn't and all of which he would have if he'd known.
We finished by trying to find Smarties, the chocolate candy. As we walked up the road gutierrez said something like, ``We've been walking 20 feet -- where's the 7-Eleven?'' On the next step, a 7-Eleven sign peeked out from behind an advertising board, and I could thank the God of Setup Lines. Unfortunately they didn't have Smarties, and neither did the 7-Eleven on the next block, nor the one on the block after that. Eventually we gave up on the Smarties, with some regrets, and got Sprite Ice to drink; gutierrez guessed the difference between Sprite and Sprite Ice is menthol.
Also, we concluded that zombies do not have intellectual property rights because every time they get their shambling hands on intellectual property, to wit, brains, they eat it. I'm not sure why, but at the time, this was a sensible thing to talk about.
Trivia: After a brief subsiding of the disease in September 1918, New Jersey residents reported at least 300,000 cases of influenza in October, November, and December 1918. Source: New Jersey: America's Main Road, John T Cunningham.
Currently Reading: Quiz Craze: America's Infatuation with Game Shows, Thomas A DeLong.