Category Archives: comics

Korean War Memorial


bloom county war
Cartoon by Berke Breathed (Bloom County Babylon: Five Years of Basic Naughtiness)

The cartoon kinda sums up my confused state of mind.    When I was a wee lad, I grew up  on a diet of television series like “Combat”, movies like Chuck Norris’ “Missing in Action” and Commando War Comics. All of which tended to give a glorified and sanitized portrayal of war, in that, the bad guys are usually clearly viciously bad and deserve to be killed by the virtuous good guy heroes who almost always just get flesh wounds.

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And so, I grew up playing soldier and even cowboys and Indians.  Only later did I begin to understand that war is almost never clear cut black and white and it’s not just the bad guys that get killed.  I learned about “collateral damage”, “civilian casualties”, “killing fields” and “genocide”. I began to see that war wasn’t cool.

Today, I consider myself to be firmly in the peace-loving, pacifist, flower-power camp.  Or at least, that’s who I grew up to be.  And yet, I confess that I was excited to have the opportunity, with my brother,  to visit the Korean War Memorial and their open air collection of war machines.  Please forgive this relapsing war-junkie as I guiltily present some photos from that visit.

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Enter Korean War Memorial (Photo by LGS)
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The front of the Monument showing the brave and valiant fighters (Photo by LGS)
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The rear of the Monument showing perhaps the suffering of the people (Photo by LGS)
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F86L Sabre (Photo by LGS’ brother)
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F-51D Mustang (Photo by LGS)
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The opposing MIG 19 (Photo by LGS)
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LGS valiantly defending against air attack (Photo by LGS’ brother)
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The Hardware of War (Photo by LGS)
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American Tanks (Photo by LGS)
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Cool-looking attack boat (Photo by LGS)
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This Patrol Boat actually took place in the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong and still carries the scars of the battle to repel a North Korean naval incursion in 2002 in which 6 South Koreans lost their lives. The red holes are battle damage. (Photo by LGS)
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Choosing Sides


When I was young, I spent a lot of time reading comics.  And now, some of those same comics have made it onto the silver screen in a big or should I say, a MEGA way.  The Marvel-Disney stable of movies now account for four of the five movies with the biggest grossing opening weekends of all time.  The Marvel comics movie franchise has now earned more than Harry Potter, James Bond, the Hobbits or even Star Wars.

All of which merely underlines the fact that I had a wasted youth. If only I had studied my comics more diligently instead of wasting my precious time with trigonometry, science and history at school, perhaps today I would be enjoying my share of the Marvel bonanza. If only. Yes……a wasted youth is a sad, sad thing.

Anyway, I just came back from watching the latest Marvel movie, “Captain America: Civil War”. It was a great movie. I enjoyed it; my wife enjoyed it; my young nephews enjoyed it; someone I know who is really into comics really enjoyed it; someone I know who doesn’t read comics at all went to see it twice! So this means this squirrel gives it a 5 acorn rating.

But without letting the cat out of the bag (and us squirrels prefer the cat not to be running around loose), Captain America and Iron Man find themselves on opposing sides and the rest of the Avengers and superheros have to make a decision about who they support. All of this leads us to this most important and potentially divisive question being asked of all the fans, “Are you on Team Capt. America or Team Iron Man?”

When asked, Wally the Corgi said, “I’m Team Cap because he’s got a cool frisbee.” (Editor: a good enough reason!)

And what about us squirrels?  Well, actually we are great friends with Black Widow so whoever she sides with is just fine with us. Although, sometimes we can’t tell if she is on this side or the other as so often she is playing the double agent. All very confusing really.

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Squirrel Girl hanging with good friend Black Widow and some weirdo.

So whose team are you?

The Literary Bum


Long term groupies of the Realm (all two of you), will know that I quit my longtime job about two years ago to make time for unemployment, starvation and the pursuit of other ambitions.  One of my ambitions was to live the life of a beach bum.

I am happy to report that I am halfway there …………. I am now definitely a bum.  Unfortunately, apart from a short week in Bali, this bum is beachless.  Hmmm, have to work on getting that beach!

Another of my “other ambitions” was to take up writing and to become a rich and famous novelist.  Now I admit that I was motivated to do so after seeing how some rather poor quality story telling and writing had become best sellers, been made into movies and was raking in the big bucks. ( I don’t want to mention any names but one of them involves pale guys that sparkle in the sun and often topless but buff Native Americans who smell like wet dog after running in the rain – you know who I mean).

I thought to myself, ” I can write as bad as that too ……..let the fame and fortune start rolling in!”  But lo, fame and fortune has not rolled in.  Instead, I find myself doing countless re-writes because I am having trouble getting the first line right.

I think my problem is that perhaps the literary geniuses that have been a big influence to my art may not have been the best choices.  Although I can say that I am greatly influenced by the works of Maxim Gorky, most of my writing lean more heavily on the works of Snoopy and his “it was a dark and stormy night…..” approach.

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Here are some more opening lines which I may have wrongly used as my inspirations (most of them are winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest)  What do you think?

  • Adventure:-When the dead moose floated into view the famished crew cheered – this had to mean land! – but Captain Walgrove, flinty-eyed and clear headed thanks to the starvation cleanse in progress, gave fateful orders to remain on the original course and await the appearance of a second and confirming moose. — Elizabeth (Betsy) Dorfman, Bainbridge Island, WA

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course. — Ron D Smith, Louisville, KY

“Die, commie pigs!” grunted Sergeant “Rocky” Steele through his cigar stub as he machine-gunned the North korean farm animals. – Dave Ranson, Calgary, Alberta

  • Romance:-

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil. – Molly Ringle

As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta’s face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows. – David Pepper

Sex with Rachel after she turned fifty was like driving the last-place team on the last day of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, the point no longer the ride but the finish, the difficulty not the speed but keeping all the parts moving in the right direction, not to mention all that irritating barking. – Dan Winters

The Cunard “Carinthia” glided through the starry waters of the Bering Sea, 843 passengers aboard, including Harriet Dobbs, resignedly single for over a decade, while a nautical mile due west slunk the K-18 submarine, under the command of lonely Ukrainian Captain First Rank Nikolai Shevchenko: ships that passed in the night (although the second technically a boat). — Dr. Sarah Cockram, Edinburgh, U.K.

  • Crime:-

As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this … and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words. — Rodney Reed, Ooltewah, TN

Chief Inspector Blancharde knew that this murder would be easy to solve – despite the fact that the clever killer had apparently dismembered his victim, run the corpse through a chipper-shredder with some Columbian beans to throw off the police dogs, and had run the mix through the industrial-sized coffee maker in the diner owned by Joseph Tilby (the apparent murder victim) – if only he could figure out who would want a hot cup of Joe. — Matthew Chambers, Hambleton, WV

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Inspired by the great Spike Milligan, I offer two more possible first lines;

  • Our hero was sitting on the park bench feeding the pigeons when suddenly………..nothing happened.  But it happened quite suddenly.
  • When I interrogated the murder suspect, Joe Smith, the suspect told me that no one had called him “Joe” in years but instead they all used his nickname ……”Nick”.

Name Game


Be prepared for another rambling post.  It’s a mystery where the post will end up.  Let’s start……

Here is my Chinese name ………

chi leongMy very wise parents chose this name for me and I am often told either that the name suits me or that I have lived up to the name given me.  It is pronounced “ci liang” and means “kind and good”.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be named “rich and famous” but I  guess that is not a bad thing to have a name like “kind and good”.

One has to be careful with Chinese names because characters with similar sounds can mean something totally different.  For example, my brother’s name actually means “kind dragon” (which I think is really cool to be called a ‘dragon’, don’t cha think?).  However, with just a slightly wrong pronunciation and accent, such as might be said by a Westerner with no experience with the Chinese language , then “kind dragon” will suddenly be transformed into “pig sty”.

It is precisely because of all these mispronunciations of my name when I studied in the United Kingdom that I decided to adopt an Anglicized name.

I chose “Calvin”.  I like “Calvin”. However, in retrospect, it was not the wisest of choices.

If you were to look up the meaning of the name “Calvin”, it has only one unfortunate meaning…………”bald”.

BALD!!!!

Oh, yea.  Good choice there squirrel.  Can you imagine a bald squirrel?  No bushy tail?  Not a pretty sight, I think.

Many years ago, I went to Geneva, Switzerland and got to see a statue representing a rather famous “Calvin”……………John Calvin – a key historical figure of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.  The statue is part of a series of Protestant figures in what is called the “Reformation Wall“.

Photo by LGS
Photo by LGS

 

Calvin is the second from the left.  Now, I am not 100% sure, but don’t they all look bald to you?

Apart from being an important church figure, they also named a beer after him called Calvinus Beer.  I tried it.  It’s okay but not great……certainly won’t put hair on your head.

Strangely, there aren’t a lot of famous ‘Calvin”s.   The 30th President of the United States was a ‘Calvin” but he is mostly known for being a bit strange and being a man of few words. The story is told that a matron, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, “I made a bet today that I could get more than two words out of you.” He replied, “You lose.”   Another tale relates  that upon learning that Calvin Coolidge had died, Dorothy Parker reportedly remarked, “How can they tell?”

The only other ‘Calvin” that people seem to have in their consciousness is “Calvin and Hobbes”.

A Boy and His Tiger (comics by Bill Watterson)
A Boy and His Tiger (comics by Bill Watterson)

 

Now I don’t mind that association cause Calvin is kinda cool but it gets a little tiresome when people keep asking me “Where’s Hobbes?’

Anyway, what does your name mean and are you happy with it?

Moo-ving!


Hi Guys and Gals,
I know I have been neglecting this blog and I am sorry about that. But am rather busy packing up and moving house. The house that I have been staying in is falling apart. The plumbing makes a racket but the water only dribbles out in a weak stream. When I shower, I can only wet 10% of my body at a time! The roof, however, seems open to the heavens when it rains and I currently sleep with buckets all round me. The ceiling fan ( a real boon in the hot humid tropics) has given up the ghost! The wooden flooring is all coming loose causing stubbed toes to be a common ailment! Etc. etc. etc.

Some might say that this is only to be expected from an old house but I blame the gremlins …….or maybe stupid, stupid rat creatures!

Anyway, gotta pack up and move to a tiny apartment in the next two weeks. The workmen then come in to do damage to my wallet and hopefully we get to move back in about 5 months.

I will try to get back to blogging in a month’s time but until then, I will try to come by to visit all of you.

Unburied Nut from 3rd December 2006; "Thoughts on Happiness and Chasing After Puppies"


Every once in a while, I uncover an old post that I feel could do with another brief moment in the sunlight. Many of these are my early posts which existed at a time when the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel was an extremely quiet place with virtually no visitors. Ah, the good ol’ lonely days.

“Felicitas est parvus canis calidus”. This is Latin for “Happiness is a warm puppy.” It is actually a quote from the cartoon strip, Peanuts from the 1950’s. I’m not that old, but I probably came across it in my early teens and somehow that phrase has stuck with me all these years. It is clearer to me today, than all those facts on human metabolism that I spent months revising for my final university exams.

Happiness is a warm puppy. Is this statement true? How many of you would agree with it? The fact that I remember it so well through the flight of time must imply that it has struck a deep chord with me. The pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence as one of the unalienable rights of the people. Honestly, there is a lot of pursuing happiness going on in the world today and it’s not just the Americans but everyone that’s doing it. But are most of us looking in all the wrong places? Might we finally find it in a warm puppy?

Singaporeans used to be told that they need to have the 5C’s in this life and this consideration should guide them in the choice of a life partner. The 5C’s has today increased to 7 C’s and are Cash, Car, Certificate (i.e. University degree), Country club, Credit card, Career and Condominium. (Ladies might even have the 8th C which is Carat, i.e. insist on a diamond ring). The idea is that happiness comes from wealth, prestige, elitism, superior intelligence (with a certificate to prove it), achievements at work and the best creature comforts at home. Singaporeans are also famous for not wanting to keep up with the Joneses. No, Singaporeans strive to be ahead of the Joneses and to rub the Joneses noses in it.

Before, Malaysian-Singaporean relationships deteriorate further, let me say that I use Singaporeans to describe a phenomena that is really spreading throughout much of the world and especially so in Asia. Happiness is cold hard cash, a cool reputation and a classy lifestyle. The pursuit of happiness as envisaged above lead many to put career and wealth ahead of family and friends. Fathers who work hard for their children’s future but do not have time to know their children and for the children to know them. Reminds me of a song called “Cat’s in the cradle” by Harry Chapin.

I have worked with native, jungle dwellers and been part of efforts to assimilate them into modern life so that they might have a better standard of living. While it is true that many will benefit from better health care and better schooling for their children, it is equally clear that they were very happy living in the ways of their ancestors in the jungle and transferring them out of the jungle into settlements has not brought them joy. Often, peaceful communities are torn apart by the introduction of money and the concepts of property amongst peoples who used to share the forests bounty with each other. Some of these projects have improved their economic situation but I really do not know whether it has brought happiness.

So, I return to “Felicitas est Parvus Canis Calidus”. I think it is a beautiful metaphor that all of us need to feel warm, secure and to have the feeling of loving and being loved. It has to do with people; friends and family. Happiness comes from being secure and content while surrounded by the mutual love and support of friends and family. If we are loved and supported for who we are, we do not need wealth or any other trappings to be happy.

So, Snoopy, I think you were right but it was not just because puppies are warm and cute. Perhaps you were more profound than you thought. Cat lovers, I can’t help you.