the2ndrule.com January-February 2006

0. Editorial
1. Drum n' Bass
2. Instant Cafe Radio Episode 34
3. I dreamt of a mountain
4. My Coffee Shop Boy
5. Nice is a Negative Adjective
6. Soweto, In My Memory
7. Of An Ending
8. Rewind


Speak, memory: on how we are remembered, the fragments, the trails we all leave behind, the inscriptions of our presence and our past. On the taste of death, on the taste of love ending. Because it is bitter - and because it is our hearts.

This issue's guest editor is Daryl Sng.

Drum n' Bass

I cannot remember what I was doing on the day John Lennon died. When George passed away, I was having a coffee with my friend Mun. Mun was having problems with his step-sister who was infatuated with him. I only realised that it had happened much later. George's death, that is. Mun was a Beatles fan and his music tastes developed along the lines of their early optimistic jangle. After George died, Mun sold all his old records and started to listed to hard house, break beats and later drum and bass. He would listen to music all day on his i-Pod during his deliveries and on his computer when he was home. When Mun eloped, half his suitcase was filled with CDs.

"The things that make us happy often don't last forever," he said one afternoon before he left. "So we make the best of the ones left behind, ya?" His farewell note was scribbled on a flyer and slipped under my door: "Just Ringo Starr and good old Paul. Just drums, just bass. Just them, just us. Dung-tada-dung-tak. Dung-tada-dung-tak. Dung-tada-dung-tak. Tak-tak.
Daren Shiau

What did you do with your life when you were 15?



I dreamt of a mountain

I dreamt of a mountain
Could that be a steep shoulder
I?ve once leant upon?
You stand at the window sill
As you always do
Looking afar, as my lingering silhouette
Shadows its presence under the moonlight
As I retreat, as would a kite
On the verge of breaking its freedom
That everlasting drift, is that freedom as it should be?
I?ve no idea. But alas, who has?
Those footsteps trodden my memory across
As if soaring towards an ancient legend
As heavy as steel they were, relics
Of a relinquished past
You cannot begin to save me
Time has the last laugh; it always does
Upon its descent I start to reckon
The last sunset was but a blink away
At a turn of the eye
Eternity it is named

I once dreamt
Of a mountain
Where the sunset that I last witnessed
Has anchored in the tide of your arms
Lee Tong King

Because some of us, like, like copyediting

My Coffee Shop Boy

i see you work
your delicate hands
cleaning cups
the way you cleanse my heart
so delicate on me

i love the way you
mumble the milk count
cream the dairy
sprinkle flakes
in hot liquid and
in clear strong strokes
wine glasses, steel tables, window glass
that sparkle so sure
under your shine

it is not genius
those hands
it's a physical thing
you control me with your hands
and my mind is for the first time free
Debbie Chia

Paste Magazine Culture Club

Nice is a Negative Adjective

At my funeral, I want people to stand up and go, "She ruined my life; she was mean, bitchy and hypocritical; she was a bisexual slut; she disrespected her father; she was inconsistent and untrustworthy; she had severe mental and emotional issues; she pushed the limits too far; she wanted too much and gave too little; she was too emotional; she was too distant; she was too honest when it didn't count, then lied when it did; she was too sexual; she spent too much; she saved too little; she loved too much and too fiercely; she despised a lot more than the objects of her hatred deserved - but she was the most interesting person I knew. And she was never, ever, *nice*."
Tsjeng Zhi Ying

Q&A with screenwriters and directors

Soweto, In My Memory

You claimed to bring true progress
And showed me this rusty machine
My culture you detest?
My religion you called sin

You said I worship? my dead parents
Told me it was idolatry
You introduced your religion
And said it was good for me

You paid me a hireling's wage
To work on my father's land
My sweat you wiped with princely rage
When all my strengths were spent

You taught me to despise my people
You and your sons alone were worthy and divine
You took away my gods, they are devils
And sat yourself on my shrines

You told me you came to save
And liberate my people from ignorance
Ignorant? That I am your slave?
Or ignorant that I was born your servant

Your culture was infinitely superior
I was taught to believe
But I knew you couldn?t be better
For causing so much pain and grief
Jack Said

The wit and half-wit of Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant, and Karl Pilkington

Of An Ending

Strange. I have been trying to revise for examinations I know I will not sit for. The endless repetitions of words flow into sentences; sentences form random paragraphs on pages after pages of a text with a title I can barely recall. I turn to the very last page of the book only to see a blank.I should have known. The symbolism of this knowledge that slips momentarily almost ridicules me.

The other day, I sat amongst the others in the lecture hall and the entire time, I was suppressing my laughter. It is funny, isn't it; that nobody had the least vague idea that there was a dying person sitting in the midst of everyone else. I guess they who never looked Death in His face would never recognize Him even if I were to walk up to them.

I ask for no burial plot, no tablet. There shall not be a tangible place where people can go to, to exhibit various degrees of grief for my departure. I ask not for loved ones to commemorate this cowardly act of mine. After all, flowers and prayers, they mean nothing to the dead.

The doctor sums up the time-span of my future to a lengthy four months. I can almost perceive them pleading me to live life to the fullest, as best as I can. My past years of fleeting existence have been pointless, what more a period of a few months? Does it really matter, the last few footsteps that I will take, when there are many others ahead that I no longer can?

They will question. I expect them to, anyway. Yes, perhaps it does take courage to end your own life. But to live on, that takes another sort of courage all together. Courage not spawned from weakness, apprehension, hopelessness or desolation.

Almost. Yes, almost. A word I use over and over again. Almost lived. Almost did not succumb to this unrelenting illness. Almost had the courage. Almost believed I was immortal. It appears that I must have overlooked the fairness of Death, He who does not discriminate.

It is getting late, but I shall not rest. The sleeping state is no more endurable than the waking. In slumber, I often dream of embracing Death, who took your form, only to have you disintegrate in my hold. A vagrant must have cast me that dream. I almost want to smile though.

My yearning for Death is as intense as my longing for you. I cannot stop loving you. Yes, even if I try.

I looked out of the window just now. And I wasn't quite sure if what I saw was paradise or an inferno of raging flames, that awaits me.

Take aim, and miss.
Rachel Koh

Because guest eds can do shameless self-promotion


Let's start at the end, shall we? Stops you from playing guessing games. The end is "Tracks of My Tears" playing on my stereo, me sitting on the floor of my living room because the couch feels too -- comfortable, I think -- and somehow I feel I have to feel something. Yes, it's a cliche and if someone looked on me right now filming it would be an ordinary scene in a made-for-TV movie; camera starts up from high and goes in, then circles around my head. Take a good look at my face.


We met during a heatwave in Boston, in those days when the Curious Liquids cafe was still around. Mercury at 100 -- 35 Celsius, now that I'm back here -- and sun bright enough that it was hard to look at the gold dome of the State House. I'd popped into the cafe for a drink, idly sat myself in one of the nooks downstairs, toying with a backgammon board.

Hot fun, summer in the city.


What's on hers? She never did care about music enough to have a breakup song. Unless there was a song that happened to be playing in the background, on the TV, and it could be any song. It could be Al Green, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?", all apropos; it could be the theme to Green Acres. Darling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue.
Daryl Sng

See you again soon!

Drum n' Bass © 2006 Daren Shiau
Instant Cafe Radio Episode 34 © 2006 Koh Beng Liang
I dreamt of a mountain © 2006 Lee Tong King
My Coffee Shop Boy © 2006 Debbie Chia
Nice is a Negative Adjective © 2006 Tsjeng Zhi Ying
Soweto, In My Memory © 2006 Jack Said
Of An Ending © 2006 Rachel Koh
Rewind © 2006 Daryl Sng

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