"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."Ring Out Wild Bells (1850) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
It was after midnight and I was in the company of some roti canai, a cup of teh halia panas and a Malay gentleman I happened to be sharing my table with at a streetside warung. I had my headphones jammed tightly in my ears as a measure to deter unwanted conversations with strangers (I sometimes wear them even when I'm not actually listening to anything) because most everyone, I had long discovered, are terribly inane in their thoughts and speech. At one point, I looked up and noticed that the mouth of my accidental table-mate was moving - and it wasn't because he was chewing something either. He appeared to be making an attempt at the dreaded Small Talk. With a mental sigh, I unplugged myself and inquired as to what he had just said to me.
"When is Gong Xi Fa Cai?" he asked in Malay. I felt my colons flinched. Gong Xi Fa Cai is not the name of the holiday but a common Mandarin greeting of the season which essentially amounts to wishing someone a prosperous New Year. While I'm on the subject, Chai Shen is not Chinese Santa either. And since I'm Chinese, I'm not going to call it the Chinese New Year. To me, it's just the New Year.
"I'm not sure," I replied. "I think it's next week, maybe?"
Look, I wasn't being deliberately obtuse. I honestly had no idea. The New Year can come to me whenever the fuck it wants to - I'll know it has arrived when I receive a text message telling me to turn up at whatever time and date and at whichever venue designated for the reunion dinner. I only just found out that it's going to be two days later courtesy of the Long-Suffering Girlfriend™ who, after three whole years, is still flabbergasted at my cavalier disregard of the calendar.
Small Talk Bloke expressed disbelief at my ambivalent answer, and I think he suspected that I was feigning ignorance. One good thing came out of the exchange though - he gave up on his unrealistic notion of friendly conversation with yours truly. Yay.
Anyway, I got a new banner up as you can see,
It's basically the same design. I inflated the slogan and replaced my old mascot, the Bloody Shakespeare (a bastardised Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare), with the Spooky Bard, which I derived from the controversial 1610 Cobbe portrait through a modest bit vandalisation. I also added the ironic Scarlet 'A' of the modern atheist movement. The more literary-minded would recognise it as the same letter which Hester Prynne wore in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. For the unapologetically philistinian, it's what Emma Stone's unbelievably hot character stitched onto her skanky outfits in the 2010 teen comedy flick, Easy A.
And just to remind everyone of how awfully amateur and kitsch the previous one looked like,
Personally, I think the new one's an improvement, to say the very least.
In-house graphic designer,
k0k s3n w4i