Friday, December 31, 2004

...And An Inappropriate Follow-Up

And I'm following up that introspective post with a totally inappropriate one, given the prevalent mood in the land.

For fans of Frank Miller and Sin City, check this out. It looks so fuckin' sweet, I was filled with orgasmic bliss. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

A Response to the Madness...

I've been getting some concerned emails from friends who heard about the tsunamis and were worried that Singapore was somehow affected. You can lay those fears to rest, since Malaysia and the other bigger countries around us kinda blocked all the waves, I think. But hey, if the waves really did hit Singapore, we'd probably all be feeding the fishes now, eh?

Since I don't read the papers (except to find out movie times) or watch the news or listen to the radio (iTunes pretty much nixes that), I've been feeling strangely detached from all this. People around me talk about it, and I smile and nod, or make sympathetic sounds at the appropriate times, but I don't really feel anything. I think back, and what I felt during September 11 was really quite similar. You watch images, you look at pictures, and yet because you're not there, it doesn't really hit you. Perhaps that is the way things are in the world right now. After all, didn't tons of people die in Iraq as well? And didn't Bush just go on sending troops to continue the killing? Numbers of dead are just that, numbers. Pictures are just pictures, images nothing more than moving pictures. Isn't it ironic that things that are supposed to reduce the distance between people in the world actually distance them instead?

Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I need to be less self-absorbed. Spend less time in the movie theatres. Read some news. Make a donation. Stop boycotting the media. Try and feel something for someone for once. Stop being a selfish motherfucker.


I don't believe I'm incapable of feeling. Why do I feel like I have to search for it in the movies when there's so much to get from real life? Is it mere escapism I'm after? Shouldn't life be about more than that?

Ah, fuck it. Fuck me. It's all me. Even now, when I try to think about something that's Important, it all comes back to me. What a self-absorbed little shit. Godammit.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Perils of Location Scouting

So I was in a seedy area of the island today scouting for a house. The actual house in reality was somewhere there, so I thought I might start in that general area. This girl comes up to me, and the following conversation ensues.

"Kor kor, good time?"

"Um, no thanks."

I walk on, but stop after a few steps and turn back. She smiles hopefully.

"By the way, do you know if there are any houses around here with a garden in front?"

Blank look.

"Sorry, I no speak English. You speak Melayu?"

"No, afraid I don't. It's OK, thanks anyway."

Ah, the perils of being a location scout.

Moving on. Yesterday, at around this time...


I was amazed to discover a dish that I never before knew existed. Here it is, the Blandest Noodles In The World:


If you're in the mood for a meal with no taste at all, you can find it at the Tampines Interchange foodcourt. There's fish, bean sprouts, and noodles in it, but absolutely no hint of flavor, and it's available for the unbeatable price of S$4.50.

On another note, I just got some sweet-ass JBL Creature speakers. Here they sitting nice and pretty next to my iBook and iPod.

i Family

Don't they all look so cute together?

Some Notes on Sequels

Ah, sequels. The bastard children of good movies, or maybe just movies that made good money. In any case, these offspring generally have a harder time making good for themselves, since they have to contend with the (mostly) favorable opinions audiences had of the original.

Sometimes, against all the odds, they succeed. The Empire Strikes Back, The Indiana Jones movies, the Back to the Future flicks, Blade II, X2, Spider-Man 2. The Spy Kids were still pretty entertaining. And in Arty-Farty Land, Before Sunset was lovely and enhanced the experience of Before Sunrise.

But oftentimes they fall flat on their faces. And audiences look at them on the ground, point and laugh, and for good measure, spit on their backs before walking away.

For these two recent sequels, I guess you'll have to decide if you want to be that cruel. I'm a nice guy, and pretty forgiving, so I'll stop short of the spitting.

Things I Loved About Ocean's Twelve
Catherine Zeta-Jones
The "Lost in Translation" scene at the pub
The tongue-in-cheek, self-referential Julia Roberts affair
The little Chinese guy muttering to himself in Chinese all the time

An example of his (probably improvised) muttering:
"I don't get it, when my parents gave birth to me, I was normal. There's nothing wrong with me. It's just these American girls, they're too damn tall."
Hilarious stuff.

Um, that's about it. Yeah, it was pretty blah, especially since Eleven was so slick and choke-full of Cool. Somehow in Eleven everyone seemed to have a personality, whereas in Twelve they all seem to be playing caricatures that kind of blend into one another after awhile.

Things I Learnt From Blade: Trinity
Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson are among that rare breed of actors who can somehow manage to emote every single line, whatever the context may be, in exactly the same way. Kristofferson does it in "Relaxed Redneck" mode, while Snipes is more "Guy With Stick Up His Ass".
Jessica Biel is hot. Scratch that, I knew that before I saw the movie. And the shower scene was so completely gratuitous, you have to love it.
Macs and iPods are apparently must-haves for the new breed of vampire slayer.
I want the earphones Jessica Biel has. Any earphones that can stay in place while she somersaults, high-kicks, slashes and stabs are worth their weight in gold.
It's actually highly amusing to see someone (Ryan Reynolds) try their damnedest to play a character from a Kevin Smith movie, and fail spectacularly at it.
Parker Posey has so much fun being the Evil Bitch, she makes everyone happy too. It's infectious.
Amazingly, a 119 minute movie can feel shorter than a 95 minute one (Kung Fu Hustle), even though dialogue is probably worse, and the action not as cool. You're just so busy laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it you don't even notice the time passing.
Whoever wrote the dialogue is either atrociously bad or borderline brilliant. It really doesn't matter which, though.
Dracula is alarmingly metrosexual.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Finally! Movie Stuff!

For a Cinewhore, this blog hasn't exactly been full of movie posts lately. Hopefully this does something to remedy that situation.

Let's start from an old one, shall we?

Comme une image (Look At Me)
Yes, I know Angeline didn't have good things to say about it, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit. As they say, my meat, your poison. But I admit it's a movie where you have to work very hard to like, since none of the characters are particularly likeable in the first place. It doesn't help that the performances tend to go for the nuances and subtlety, making their spoken dialogue all the more empty, since they're never saying what their body language is expressing. To me, that's beautiful, and real, because how often, especially with people we don't like, are we telling the whole truth? I love your dress = Did you dig that up in a dumpster? I was caught up with work = I can't be bothered to be on time since it's you. I'll get on that right away = Ha, you wish!

Anyway, back to the movie. Personally, I felt it was a sharp observation of social circles and power relationships. A clever and biting script that doesn't let any of the characters off easily. But hey, maybe it's just me.

Kung Fu Hustle
The higher they climb, the harder they fall. At least, it seems that way for poor Stephen Chow. After the wonder that was Shaolin Soccer, he got a shitload of money from Miramax to make his next movie, and this was the result. It's not bad bad, it's just very blah, especially after Soccer. The man is a gifted comedy actor, but that proves both to be a blessing and a curse in this instance.

See, it appears that he was trying to make a serious martial arts homage film with this one, what with the paper-thin plot recycled from every kungfu movie ever made, the cameos by old-timey kungfu stars, etc. However, it being Stephen Chow, audiences expect comedy, and so there are funny bits spliced uncomfortably in-between the action. Unfortunately, the comedy here ranges from blah to side-splitting, the best being a bit in the first half that involves three throwing knives with an uncanny ability to ricochet. Nothing else quite matches up to that though, and there is enough of a cartoon-ey feel to most of the action sequences that you end up not giving a shit if anyone lives or dies. You just don't feel it. The cut-rate CGI certainly doesn't help matters much, and neither do the rip-offs of The Matrix movies (Burly Brawl, Bullet Time, anyone?), Pirates of the Caribbean (and every other skeletal-warrior movie) and classic Warner Brothers cartoons.

Like I said, the tone shifts (or tries to shift, at least) so rapidly that you never quite know what you're supposed to be feeling. Case in point: In the opening sequence, a police officer gets hot water spilled on his face, and then later a gangster gets his leg hacked off by a flying axe while he's running. As far as I can tell, they were meant to be completely serious, but still, there were people cracking up in the theatre. Were they doing it merely because it's a Stephen Chow movie, and they expect everything to be funny?

Should I start on the heavy-handed set-ups, which lead to no surprises plot-wise? Or the non-existence of the female lead? (He even makes her a mute, for crying out loud) How about his recurring motif in his last couple of movies of having someone piss on the lead character? Or maybe how annoying it is that the two most interesting characters in the movie are reduced to providing exposition in the final battle? Perhaps even mention how the best fight scene is the one near the midpoint, involving a pair of really cool blind assassins that kill with their music, which makes the finale look really lame?

Maybe this is just a phase of his he goes through - one shitty movie, one good movie, another shitty movie, another good one. Before Shaolin Soccer was The King of Comedy, which was pretty bad (again, it was the uneven juxtaposition between humor and pathos that killed him), and then now we have this. Perhaps when he gets too passionate about his subjects (acting and martial arts, in the two cases), he tends to let himself go. Some restraint would be appreciated. After all, it's not a good thing when a 100 minute-long movie feels like it's over two hours.

誰も知らない (Dare mo shiranai - Nobody Knows)
This little gem played at Cannes to rave reviews, and apparently opens next year in the US. The 13 year-old boy, Yûya Yagira, was the first Japanese, and the youngest in history to win best actor at Cannes. But it's not just him that shines, it's virtually impossible to fault any member of the fine ensemble cast, especially amazing considering they're mostly kids.

What else do I like about it? I like the slow, subtle set-ups and payoffs that rely on visuals and not dialogue. That's smart writing, and there's a bravery in trusting your audience to notice details and understand their significance. For example, a static shot of an empty bottle of juice, and four empty glasses surrounding it leads one to deduce that the eldest boy has brought his bottle of juice home and shared it out among his siblings. It's simple to do, but hard to think of - it's the very essence of cinema and photography, to distill an entire sequence down to a single image. With that one shot, you've eliminated possibly a whole afternoon's worth of shooting and lots more time editing, and said the same thing in a simpler, more elegant way to boot. What's not to like?

I like the rampant symbolism that's there if you're looking for it, but otherwise almost invisible. Everything's handled with a light, deft touch; nothing is heavy-handed, unlike so many other movies. And yet almost every image speaks volumes: a monorail train speeding away into the night, a row of weeds growing out of cup noodle containers stretching towards the sun, a smear of nail polish on a little hand, a tear rolling down a woman's face as she sleeps, a hand caressing the top of a pink suitcase, a noodle-container "flowerpot" falling and splitting. "A picture paints a thousand words" is a real cliché by now, but in this case, it is entirely appropriate.

I'm a big fan of structure, and especially of mystifying openings that seem puzzling at first, but are later recognized as the key moment in the film. Try to picture this in your mind's eye. A 13 year-old boy rides the monorail. His hand gently rubs the top of a pink suitcase. His fingers are grimy. He looks out at nothing in particular. A young teenage girl sits a few seats away. Her presence is almost invisible. It is night outside. His face is reflected in the window. The lights twinkle in the darkness out there. Opening title. Fade to black.

The next scene is entirely unconnected to this one, except for the boy, who looks cleaner and younger. The film goes on, and as we meet the rest of the characters, we almost forget about the opening. Still, it's there, sitting in a little corner of our mind. Until the instant when we realize where the sequence falls in the timeline of the film. And at that point we see that everything in the opening is full of power, urgency, and poignancy. And that is a great opening.

Finally, it's entirely successful in doing what I tried to do with my thesis film: To take a potentially melodramatic situation and strip it of all the melodrama possible, leaving only the Truth, the Essence of things. However, it goes a step further, by eschewing the flashy editing and camerawork that I relied on, and doing things in an almost documentarian style, it takes things one step closer to the Truth. The performances are completely naturalistic, and often feel improvised - again, enhancing the reality of the situation. Again, closer to the Truth.

Perhaps one day I'll get there.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

More Complaints

While we're on the subject of complaint letters, here's something else I wrote a while back.

On the whole, I have usually enjoyed my visits to KBox. Generally, the service and facilities at most outlets are more than adequate.

However, there is one particular branch which seems to tarnish the reputation of your successful chain.

Among my various group of friends, we have come to the conclusion that your Tampines branch is a disgrace to your operations. This is mainly due to the remarkably un-customer friendly attitude that most of the staff there seem to have.

Here are a couple of incidents that have led us to that conclusion:

  1. Over a month ago, a group of six of us arrived at the Tampines branch at about 1.30 am on a Friday evening / Saturday morning. We were under the impression that your branches operate until 3 am. However, the receptionist on duty gave us a sour look when we asked for a room, as if we were a bother to her, and turned us away, saying that they were closed. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a very good lie, because we could plainly hear singing going on inside, and there was no reason the branch would be closed so early on a weekend night. We checked the operating hours on a poster downstairs, and it stated very clearly that the branch operated until 2 am. We left, disgusted.

  2. About a month ago, a group of five of us returned to that very same KBox. We were willing to give it another chance, so to speak. We arrived at about 9 pm, and were told that we could only have the room until 12 midnight, because we hadn’t made a reservation. This was a surprise to us because we’d always been able to just show up and get a room till closing at other branches. If I recall correctly, it was a weekend night as well. We asked if there were empty rooms available after that, because we wouldn’t mind switching rooms if necessary. We were told to wait and see. At 11.45 pm, we were told abruptly that our time was up and we had to leave. We asked the receptionist if there were any other rooms available, and were told there were none. This was obviously a lie because we had seen many empty rooms on our way out, and people were still walking in off the street. We called the branch at Marine Parade to ask if they had any rooms, and they said that they did. This furthermore increased the doubt in our minds, because if such an established branch had rooms available on short notice, why wouldn’t the Tampines branch have them (especially since the Tampines branch was bigger)? In the end we continued at the Marine Parade branch and ended up paying double for the night, once at Tampines and once at Marine Parade.

  3. This is copied from a post that my friend has on his blog about his experience yesterday afternoon. I feel it would be better to let you read it in his own words:
    "I was at K Box Tampines with my juniors today for some KTV. I was warned before that it really sucked in terms of service. I was willing to give it another chance. So it started off with no one attending to us for around an hour. We had to go out and ask them to get drinks for us. It's a bloody big labyrinth at KTV Tampines and all the f***ing workers are lost in it, finding where they skived was tough. They were all unapologetic with their mistakes, epitomized by this one f***er who demanded us to pay the bill who behaved like we owed him money. In the end, everyone wasn't feeling too good about that place and we vowed never to go back there again unless absolutely necessary."

In view of these incidents, I hope the management at KBox will look into the practices of this particular branch and make changes if necessary. I realize that not many people will step forward and complain about bad service, and usually I’m pretty tolerant of it if it’s a one-off thing, but the incidents show that the terrible quality of staff at the Tampines branch is an ongoing problem.

And here's the reply I got:

Thank you for your email dated December 16, 2004.

I have already made a thorough investigation regarding the poor service you received when you visited our Tampines K Box recently.

Firstly I would like to apologize to you for the inconvenience it had caused you. The incident was most unlike our usual standards of service and courtesy. I am sorry for the Time Duration incident you had experienced with our member of staffs in Tampines, this is due to the high turnover rate for rooms during the weekends and the empty rooms that you saw was newly painted thus the pungent paint stench still lingers in the rooms that is why we closed the section off. Our service staffs probably do not know how to explain it to you. I regret to tell you that some of our staffs are inexperience and they are especially poor in their explanation or speech.

I have already sent your feedback to the Outlet Manager and he had taken the necessary actions with the service staffs. The receptionist and service staff who were rude to you and provided you with the wrong information have been called in for review; they also expresses their regret about their attitudes and our management has issued a warning letter to them.

My management is very concern with this problem that you had experienced. We will scrutinize the performance of our staffs at Tampines.

In order to provide an excellent service to our customers, I hope you could give us some time and your patience. Our management is seriously looking into the Customer Service area and giving training to our staff in this aspect. We hope that they will learn from their mistake and cushion disappointment to our customers.

We seek your understanding with the above matter.

I will enclose 1 complimentary voucher for 2 COMPLIMENTARY DRINKS VOUCHER that you may use at any of our K Box outlets as a token of appreciation for your valuable feedback. Please furnish me with your name and mailing address.

If I can be of any further assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me at I will be looking forward to your reply and hope that you continue to patronize K Box for karaoke sessions. Thank you.

With warmest regards,
Geraldine Tay
Marketing Executive (Guest Relations)
Office: 6334 3113
Fax: 6334 6823

Gee, thanks, I always wanted complimentary drinks.

Funny thing is, all the subsequent emails I sent them got bounced back because their "mailbox was full". Might I be on the blocked senders' list? Might I also suggest they check their emails for grammatical errors?

Pissed At AppleCentre

Something I sent off to the Apple Feedback Page online.

God, this pisses me off so much. I'm boycotting AppleCentre@Orchard from now on, and you should all do the same.

On Christmas Day, I purchased an iPod Carrying Case with Belt Clip (40GB) from the AppleCentre@Orchard. From the pictures on the box, I could not see the front of the case, and thought I would be able to access the buttons and click wheel on my iPod while it was in the case.

I notice that on your website it says that this product does not support iPods with click wheels. However, the label on the box said it did. I even asked the cashier while I was paying if it would work with my 40GB 4G iPod, and he said it would.

When I returned home, I opened the package and realized that I did not have access to the buttons and clickwheel once I put my iPod inside. This made the case essentially useless to me, for I was intending to replace my Marware Sportsuit Convertible with it, and the latter has all the access to buttons I want.

I replaced everything carefully in the box, and brought it back to the store on Monday, 27 Dec. The manager Ronnie and his Director at the store flippantly dismissed my requests, saying it was store policy not to accept products that had been opened. It didn't matter to them that I had wasted S$70 on something I couldn't use. In fact, they even blamed me for not checking with the salespeople in the store. The truth of the matter was that the salespeople were swamped on Christmas Day, and I needed to make a quick hit-and-go purchase.

After much discussion, they finally offered to put it up for sale at a reduced price for a week. If no one bought it, I would have to bear all the costs. Apparently they thought that was a very generous offer, but in my opinion this is completely unsatisfactory. I still took it because it was the best thing I could do at the time. Now they called me saying they've sold it, but still, it's a terrible option.

Since apparently the Director of the store is involved, there is no point in me complaining to the store. What I can do is raise the problems inherent in its store policy and customer service to a higher authority, and hopefully something can be done.

The attitude of the staff leave much to be desired, being lackadaisical and dismissive in tone. Quite simply, customer satisfaction was not at the forefront of their thoughts. I do not understand why they insist on following this store policy to the letter. Is it not impossible to return the item to the supplier who can put a new plastic wrapper on it and make it good as new? What is the point of burning your bridges and making your customers - potential return customers, mind you - angry to the point that they will never patronize that store again?

I have always had a high opinion of Apple products and customer service. Unfortunately, stores like this only tarnish whatever reputation you have and are a smear to your good name. Yes, Apple products are great. But unfortunately customer service in Singapore is pretty terrible. I hope you can remedy the situation.

"Apple is committed to your satisfaction"
I hope the above line on your website isn't just for show.

Addendum: They called me to say they sold it for S$50. Big fucking deal. I'm still pissed. Maybe I should raise it to CASE or the Straits Times Forum Page or something.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Another Day Gone

What a complete and utter waste of a day. Over half of it was spent sleeping, and the rest of the time was spent renaming and rearranging my mp3s in iTunes. It felt really weird to stay home the entire day, I haven't done that since... I can't remember.

Or maybe it wasn't a waste. After all, I probably haven't been getting enough sleep for the past few weeks. Perhaps it's a good thing to catch up on my shut-eye. And the mp3s really needed to be sorted out. That's the anal-retentive neurotic in me speaking.

Do I really need to be running around all day? Probably not. Why do I do it then? I have tons of distractions at home already - a closetful of DVDs to watch, mountains of books to read, weights waiting for a workout. Why can't I just stay home and do all these?

I guess I just don't like to stay home then. It might be any or a combination of factors, including an unpleasant environment, other people's shit everywhere, parents who insist on looking over my shoulder, no decent entertainment system, an unpleasant environment (did I say that already?), etc.

I wanna move out, dammit.

I'll upload songs into my iPod tomorrow. Yay.

Work awaits on the morn. Boo.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Lame Listing

Christmas Morning was spent unconscious in bed.

I helped wrap presents at my aunt's. Had pretty awful food for lunch at the catered buffet. Sat around doing nothing in particular for a while, then left.

The rest of the day was spent weaving my way through crowds at Orchard Road, consuming like the good little whore I am. Now I have to return the iPod carrying case I bought at the Apple Store, because I can't reach any of the controls once I put the iPod in it. Useless piece of shit. Told the staff at the M1 store my SIM card was spoilt and they gave me a new one.

Got Cai's Kinokuniya card off him before he left. Got myself a bunch of books. I love the Bunny Suicides.

Dinner. Hmm. Excellent company. That's about all I can say.

Had to wander around for about an hour before meeting NU people for drinks. Rouge at Emerald Hill is a pretty cool place to chill. The drinks were OK, music was great, dancing was tons of fun. We hadn't danced like that for a long time, and I think the three of us basically got everyone started on the dance floor just by letting loose some good ol' bump and grind.

Smoked way too much the entire day.

Fell asleep at the table. And in the cab home. I get sleepy when I drink. Hurled up a little waterfall downstairs into the drain, I hope they cleaned it up. Passed out in bed.

Boxing Day morning was spent unconscious in bed.

Addendum: As was the afternoon.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Evil Cult

I happened upon this page while searching for websites to link to for my concert post a few days back. I was doing a search for "Jay Chou concert", of all things. Unbelievable. The contents are absolutely hilarious, but yet very very sad at the same time. A perfectly normal young man, corrupted by a pseudo-religion, brainwashed into being an anonymous sheep, following blindly and stupidly.

Seriously, if you get seats in a restaurant after waiting for a long time, it's only natural. Don't go around crediting these "minor miracles" to God because you'll just look like an absolute moron. I don't pray, and I get seated all the time. What do you say to that? If you have someone you knew who was dying and you prayed and they got better, then fine, by all means, put that in and believe in a miracle all you want. I'll give you that. But this, this is beyond lame, this is just abso-fuckin'-lutely ridiculous.

If God existed, and he really was answering these incredibly inane prayers of these fools all the time, maybe that's why the world's so fucked up.

"Oh, I've performed my quota of miracles today. I gave tables to 4 million people, helped another 2 million get cabs, found lost shit for 2 million and gave good weather to another 2 mil. There's a kid dying of AIDS? Sorry, can't help. And I don't really feel good about letting that old lady get dragged fifty feet by a speeding bus, but these Christians really needed a table, and they'd been waiting for fifteen minutes already. It was one or the other, you know? Gee, and George W. Bush was made President again? Oh yeah, I remember him asking me for that."

Anyhow, I saw that the entries on that page ended in June last year, so I thought, well, maybe he came to his senses. Or maybe he died. But then I snooped around some more, and found he was still alive and well, and still part of that Evil Cult that has grown exponentially in recent years, Harvest-ing the City of its fruits of labor and its young people. Why am I not surprised?

Honestly, if the authorities don't keep them in check, it would only be natural that they attempt a coup in the near future, return Singapore to the stone age in terms of "morality" (oh, how I hate that word), stone every homosexual to death, force everyone who isn't Christian into slavery, and quite possibly embark on a Crusade to wipe out our Muslim neighbors. Are you listening, Uncle Loong? Or are you part of Them already? I hope not, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, but one never knows.

It's not the religion I'm opposed to, even though I don't hold high opinions of organized religion at all (which is kind of an understatement). It's the same thing everyone says about Muslims. "The 'normal' ones are fine (whatever that means), it's just the extremists and fundamentalists we're worried about." While this is condescending to Muslims in general, I think it's pretty appropriate to apply it to these stray branches of Christianity. If you claim to love everyone, then it should be all-inclusive, and not just include people who believe the same things you do. Heaven should be an equal-opportunity place, and not just purely for believers, for really, what kind of standards can you claim to be upholding if you automatically let fucked-up people in just because they claim God is on their side? Real Christians, and Real Muslims, and Real (Insert Your Own Religion Here) care for everyone. And you know what, these Real Believers wouldn't force or coerce or persuade you into any organized religion, because that's not right. You have to go of your own accord.

This is why I'm against organized religion in general, because these fuckers are always trying to get people to convert, whether by forcing pamphlets down their throats, canvassing at hospices where people are busy enough dying, or through marriage obligations.

And since we're on the topic, I saw this sign at a house of God in Sengkang some time back. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me at the time, and it had been replaced with another sign spouting some equally lame religious propaganda the next time I passed by. So, no picture.

Professionals Built the Titantic
Amateurs Built the Ark

I guess God's spellcheck function wasn't turned on that day, huh?

The Christmas Post

As the clock struck midnight on Christmas Day, I was having the last few drags of my cigarette outside Superbowl in Marina South. It was a Davidoff Light, with half the filter cut off so it could fit in my cigarette case. I was fucking exhausted and about to fall asleep on my feet.

Yam watch

I don't think I ever believed in Santa Claus. It's kinda hard to when you live in an HDB flat and you read that Santa comes down chimneys. Since our window grilles were locked up when I was a kid, there was simply no way that I could envision him coming in and leaving presents. Anyway he never left presents; if I got any I knew for a fact that my parents had bought them because I'd seen them do it.

I don't know if Christmas was ever a very special day. We weren't Christians, so it was never a big deal. For a couple of years we had a little puny tree, about half a metre tall, made of shitty plastic, that we'd kind of try to decorate. It always looked sad, and we gave up after a while. The best thing was probably the presents, I guess. My aunt who was Christian and very generous to us kids always gave the best presents, because we'd go shopping together and she didn't seem to have a limit to her budget. She also never complained that the stuff we chose was useless, which it generally was, us being kids and all. I remember one year she brought me to a Christmas service. I was probably bored. I never went back.


After she got hitched, we'd go to her place for Christmas parties. Me, my brother and my cousins would just sit around all day and watch TV, pig out and play. Soon she had kids, and since they were mostly born around December, the Christmas party became their birthday parties. We got older, the new kids were too young and not much fun, and soon it became a yearly hassle. I'd go there, stay a few hours, and then leave early to go out with friends. She stopped giving us gifts because she didn't know what we wanted anymore, and we were too "busy" to go shopping with her. She just gave money instead.

In my teens, I really got into writing and sending Christmas cards for a few years. Buying a whole bunch of cheap-ass cards, writing individual greetings and mailing them became a ritual. It was almost an elaborate dance of sorts, as you figure out who sent you one the year before, who never sends cards in return, who sent you one this year so you have to send them one, and so on. And it was kinda like sorting through all your friends and acquaintances and filtering them, seeing who made the Top 40 (or however many cards you were sending out that year).

Yam CU eye

I forget when that stopped. Maybe it was when I was in the army. There was just no time anymore, and by then, Christmas had lost whatever little amount of magic it had. Possibly I'd grown cynical, overwhelmed by the crass commercialism it had become over the years. Looking back, it was probably this commercial all along, only I'd never realized it. December just became a month with good sales, so it was a good month to Consume and buy shit for myself. There were probably Christmas gatherings a couple of years before that with friends, where we exchanged little gifts. That stopped as well. The gift exchanges, I mean, not the meet-ups.

Christmas Eves, have, in general, been uneventful the last few years. Dinner in Chinatown, pool, karaoke, driving around. I can't honestly think of much else. It doesn't matter anyway. We're just hanging out because we don't want to be alone. Nothing more, nothing less.


Actually, I think I prefer it this way.

Christmas is just like any other day now, except for the fact it's a day that many people make a big fuss over. Honestly, what is the point of a countdown to X'Mas, if the day means nothing to you? As I finished my cigarette today, cheers and other merrymaking sounds filtered out through the glass doors of Superbowl. I turned away and sucked harder on the filter. It seemed incredibly apt. Someone who doesn't give a shit, standing outside smoking sullenly while other people cheered inside. I didn't feel sad, just apart from it all, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.


I've decided that from this year on, "I don't do Christmas" will be a mantra I follow around this season. I have not said "Merry Christmas" to anyone yet, and I don't intend to. So please don't think I'm rude or anything if I don't reply to your SMS or email. I've been deleting them all day, both from friends and from part-time actors from the sitcom I've been casting, and while I appreciate the thought, I no longer care. The most I've come to acknowledging greetings is when people say straight to my face, "Merry Christmas", and I say, "Same to you."


I don't find anything wrong with Christians thinking December 25 is a big deal. After all, it is their religion, and people can believe whatever the hell they want. I just have a problem with non-Christians viewing it as an Important Day. It really isn't, it's just a public holiday. A very commercial public holiday, probably the most blatantly commercial of them all.

Today we sat around and ate log cake, kueh, and ice cream in the studio while gossiping about local celebrities. It's fun to hear dirt about celebs from the mouths of other celebs. Who had an embarassing incident, who was trying to seduce whom, who was sleeping with whom. All good fun. And at night I went out with old friends. Nothing fancy, just people hanging out. I had a good time.

Yam big face

And that, I think, is all I can ask for, and all I ever want at this time of year. In fact, at any time of the year.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A Meaningful Story

In the spirit of Christmas, where people start circulating emails with warm loving messages and Meaningful Stories with Morals, I have decided to write my very own Meaningful Story. Feel free to circulate this to whoever you know, and spread the love around.

Greg and Julia were painfully shy kids. They met in kindergarten, and already thought the other was really cute. However, they never exchanged a word. They just sat by themselves, in separate corners of the classroom or playground, and sneaked peeks at each other furtively. It was no wonder they were alienated from all the other kids and never got picked at games. In fact, everyone thought they were autistic, but they were just shy.

They were in the same class all throughout school, for fate works in strange ways. They were even seated side by side, yet never said anything to each other. The furtive glances continued. He would write little notes to her, but always faltered at the last instant, and tore them up and swallowed them instead.

When they were twelve, Julia was on her way home from school. As she passed by the deserted gym, a group of sixteen year-old boys grabbed her from behind. She was dragged into a dark corner, where they ripped off her clothes and tried to rape her. Fortunately, young Greg was stalking her from afar and rushed to her rescue. With the skills he learnt from his fascination with martial arts movies, he quickly dispatched of the boys and saved her from a terrible fate. Without a word, he took off his clothes and gave them to her, saving her the embarrassment of going home naked, for all her clothes were torn. Silently, he departed in his underwear. Tears of gratitude fell from her eyes, but still, they did not say a word.

At their high school prom, Greg was alone, as usual. He wandered the hall, weaving among the dancing couples morosely. It was then that the girl gang of popular bitches set upon him. They slapped him, calling him names and taunting him. "Sissy! Loser! Faggot!" they yelled. He endured everything silently, for he was not the confrontational sort. Julia saw this from the corner of her eye and her heart broke. She glided up to him and swept him away from their harpy claws, and they danced all night. They didn't get voted Prom King and Queen, but it didn't matter. They were already the King and Queen of their own little silent kingdom.

The night of their high school graduation, they took off for the lake behind their little hometown. Sitting there by the waters, looking at the stars and the moon, they were perfectly content. They looked into each other's eyes, and Julia could tell what Greg had in mind before he even needed to open his mouth. She nodded.

They got married two months later. It was a lovely wedding, in a beautiful little church bedecked with flowers and lace. When it came time to exchange their vows, they didn't say anything, but just kissed each other with all their love. It was enough, and everyone beamed and applauded with joy.

As Greg and Julia exited the church, all seemed perfect with the world. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and the scent of Spring wafted all over the little town. But a dark cloud was about to cast its shadow over the proceedings. At the bottom of the church steps was their car, waiting for them, with a huge "Just Married" banner on it. As they drove away, everyone waved goodbye. They turned to wave back.

As Greg's eyes returned to the road, he suddenly saw an old lady on a walker crossing in front of him. Being the considerate sort who would never run an elderly person over, he swerved hard to the left. Julia screamed. In their path now was a cute little kitty wearing a bell. It was white and fluffy. The kitty, that is, not the bell. Greg swerved again, to the right this time. He was also not the kind of person that would run a cute kitty over, especially one wearing a bell. The car slammed into a lamp-post. Julia was wearing her seatbelt, but Greg was not. He was catapulted out of the car by the impact, shattering the windscreen and bouncing three times on the road surface.

Julia held her breath. Was he dead? She struggled with her seatbelt, which was stuck, frantic with worry. Then her eyes lit up. Miraculously, Greg had survived with only a twisted ankle. He got up slowly and hobbled in her direction.

This was when a runaway steamroller ran him over. Just a little though, such that he was only badly injured, but not dead. Julia screamed and finally yanked her seatbelt out. She threw the car door open and ran towards him, but was cut off by a passing parade. An elephant was leading the parade, and right before her very eyes, it stomped on Greg's broken body. He gave up his last breath. The elephant stopped, and looked down, puzzled at what it had just stepped on.

Julia ran to Greg's side and cradled his head, which had cracked open like an egg. With his blood and brains running over her hands, she looked into his wide-open, unseeing eyes and opened her mouth. She tried to force the words out. They had never said "I love you" to each other. They never thought it was necessary, for they had always communicated well enough without words. But now, when she wanted so desperately to say them, the words wouldn't come to her mouth. It was too late. He was already gone. And anyway, they were mute, so they couldn't have said the words in any case.

Then the elephant decided to take a dump, and shat all over them. As her tears mixed with the dung in her hair, she could only sob, her heart filled with regrets.

Whenever you feel tempted to take your loved ones for granted, remember this Story, and slap yourself in the face for even thinking that. Go find someone you love now, and tell them How Much They Mean To You. You never know when you'll get another chance, especially around the holiday season when everyone's running around drunk as fuck. I love you. Three simple words. Just say them.

Forward this to all your friends and make them realize this important Moral. Really, they would never reach this conclusion unless you shove it in their faces by sending them emails like this. Do it, now, to show how much you care. There can never be enough love in this world.

More On Blogging

I've been informed that I haven't been online much lately. I beg to differ. I'm online almost the entire time I'm in the office. I'm just never around at my desk long enough to write anything. Hence I check email, my MSN group, the comments on my blog, other people's blogs, everything but write in my own. The perils of work beckon at every turn.

Hence, when I awoke at seven in the morning today (a rare Event), I thought I'd better make it up by blogging furiously in the morning before I left for work. Hence the two posts, one after the other.

I've written about stalking other blogs almost obsessively. The truth is that I'm not the only one. Even some who don't keep blogs have started stalking them. Like me, they get disappointed when they don't see an update every time they go online. Like me, they despair at how pathetic this is. Unlike me, they struggle with the feeling that they're sneaking a peek at someone's diary. I never feel that guilt because, well, whatever's on the web is fair game for anyone. And the more readers a blog gets, the happier the owner is. Usually, at least.

I also enjoy the different writing styles that people seem to develop. I think mine's more along the lines of a conversational tone. Others are more literary, playing with form and structure. Some even delve into experimental territory, making their some of their posts challenging to read. I don't mean this in a negative way; in fact, I embrace it. Not everything should be easy to read or watch. I enjoy putting in some effort now and then. It makes things so much more interesting.

I'm thinking of trying out new writing styles once in a while. But not for now. My eyelids are shutting on me.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Jay vs. Dick

I've gone to two concerts in the last two months, not exactly a huge number, but then again I've been kinda busy. I mean "kinda" in the "Jesus fuckin' Christ please stop the insanity" sense, of course.

The first was Jay Chou's Incomparable concert, back in end November. Yes, I do realize humility may not be one of his strong suits, given the title of his show. The second was Dick Lee's 30th Anniversary concert, just held over the last weekend.

Since I haven't had the time nor opportunity to write about Jay Chou's yet, I shall do the both of them together. And I can't really write about two similar events in a single post without comparing the both of them, can I? So let's find out how these two measure up against each other. Note that the opinions expressed are completely objective and the rating system 100% arbitrary.

Jay Chou
6 years in the biz: +6
Writes and performs his own music: +20
Has written songs for stars like Jolin Tsai, S.H.E., Landy Wen, Jacky Wu: +10
Likes to include different musical influences in his music, both east and west: +20
Unfortunately, most of it is limited to musical arrangements: -10
Fan base mostly consists of silly teenage girls: -100
Given to impromptu "twisting" of his own tunes and lyrics, and they still sound good: +20
Overly-flashy and silly-looking costumes: -40
Guest stars: Landy Wen & Nan Quan Mama: +50 Hot Factor for the former, +10 for the latter, -40 for not having her sing the duet Rooftop.
Sings horribly in Cantonese, but luckily it only lasts for half a song: -30
Humor quotient = zero: +0
No swearing at all: -30
Has lame-ass groan-inducing fighting sequence makes one slap one's forehead in dismay: -50
I know all the songs: +100
He doesn't seem to make an effort, has a lackadaisical stage presence: -40
Plays the piano well: +30
Plays the flute horribly: -50
I paid S$130 for a ticket: -130
Overall a disappointment: -100

Dick Lee
30 years in the biz: +30
Writes and performs his own music: +20
Has written songs for mega-stars like Jacky Cheung, Sandy Lam: +20
Likes to include all kinds of influences in his music: +20
This is even reflected in the melodies, as opposed to remaining on the more superficial level of the musical arrangements: +10
Fan base mostly consists of middle-aged people. Or does he even have a fan base? He does have rabid fans flying in from Japan though, so I guess that counts for something: -50 for the former, +50 for the latter
Given to strange phrasing when singing live, which sounds incomprehensibly annoying: -20
Mostly flamboyant suits hinting at ambiguous sexuality: +20
Guest stars: Tanya Chua, Hossan Leong, his brothers and mother, his ex-wife Jacintha: +20 for Tanya, +40 for Hossan, +10 for his brothers, -10 for his mother, and +50 for Ja.
Sings horribly in Cantonese, for an entire song: -60
Humor quotient was pretty high, even though it was kinda lame sometimes. This included making up new lyrics for familiar favorites (making fun of the holiday season, political figures), inviting Hossan Leong to be a guest performer, inane banter, etc.: +50
Sings "gan ni na bu chao chee bye" at one point, and many Hokkien innuendoes fly around throughout the evening: +69
Has funny Bollywood-esque choreography in Mustapha, and Dick's fake Indian accent is hilarious: +15
I've heard about 70% of the songs before: +70
Tries to banter, is not very good at it, but tries anyway. Has good stage presence though: +50
Plays the piano well: +30
Does not try playing any other instruments because he knows he will suck: +20
I went for free: -0
Overall pretty entertaining: +100

Now for the score...
Jay Chou: -354
Dick Lee: 554

And the clear winnah - Dick Lee by a whopping 800 points!


A Silly Post

First, something very juvenile to start:

Phallic Plant

Of course, having (or being) such a tool inevitably leads us to the next picture...

Love Lick Chill

I bet if more people loved to lick we'd all be chilling out more often.

And finally, don't you just wish you could take an Emergency Break once in a while, just to recharge? But still, you need to be cautious of... stuff in general, I guess. They aren't very clear about what exactly to be cautious of. Still, you never know what might happen.

Emergency Break

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Day of the Dead

So unbelievably tired. Went to the Dick Lee concert last night, courtesy of Angeline. Unfortunately it was after a crazy day of shooting, and on top of the four hours of sleep I got the night before... Let's just say that after sending everyone home, I crashed so hard when I finally got into bed. Sleep was just a huge blank - no dreams, no nothing. When I opened my eyes to the sound of my mobile going off today it was as if I'd just shut my eyes a minute ago.

The call was from the AD for today's shoot. Apparently one of the actors only had an early version of the script, which had been completely rewritten since then. So I had to rush to the office (where I am right now) and fax him the new one.

Right now I'm in such a zombie-like state, I don't even know what I'm typing. The cigarette I just had didn't do anything to alleviate that, even though normally I'd be a little perkier after one. I even asked Jingli to go for lunch, forgetting his current condition. I just want to go home, crawl into bed and not get up for the rest of the day. And there's still a shoot tomorrow. Yay.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Running On Empty

Ugh. That's about the only way to describe the past working week. It has just been a roller-coaster of successes and failures - mostly failures - in the attempt to procure celebrities for the scenes to be shot today.

It started off innocently enough, with an almost casual conversation the producer had with me on Monday. He said, maybe we could try getting some celeb cameos on Saturday. I said, I could try. He tossed out names, I tossed out names. Then I got the bright idea of getting two stars newly-thrust into the spotlight because of a huge mega-event. He seemed happy. I started calling.

Their agent said cool, but her boss tossed me back to ask the permission of a certain annoying Department within the Corporation. Now, even though we (and I shudder to use the word) are within the same Entity, I have an immense hatred of that particular Department because they can be the most dense and moronic people. Of course, because of those qualities, they are also a Department that wields considerable control. Such is life.

They required me to write a synopsis and other shit like that, which I dutifully complied with. Then I sat back and waited. And waited.

In the meantime I'd secured one celeb from elsewhere. That wasn't too difficult.

On Wednesday afternoon, after much harassment from my end, they finally agreed in principle to it. Of course, this being an idiotic Organization, I was promptly bounced to the very people I'd called in the first place, the agents.

The person whom I'd been dealing with all along wasn't there, so I left plenty of desperate messages. Finally, that evening, one of her colleagues told me the celebs weren't available because they'd previously agreed to appear at a promotion for a certain Telecommunications Provider all fucking day. I was flabbergasted.

I managed to reach the person whom I'd first called early Thursday morning and proceeded to alternately bitch at/plead with her. After all, if she'd only told me that on Monday I could've looked for someone else right away, and all in all, we only needed them for an hour or so, since we could cheat the shots. After all that bullshit, it was still a no-go. I was still stuck with finding two replacements, two days before the shoot.

After some screaming and bitching and lots of suggestions from various people and phone calls to various people, one was locked down yesterday. It was made doubly difficult by the fact that the management over at the Radio side were hesitant about letting any of their fulltime DJs appear on the same show as the celeb I'd already locked down initially, because of a certain Incident involving panties earlier this year. I tried a Chinese station, but apparently all their people were out on events and shit. Over on the TV side, almost everyone under the sun was involved with rehearsals for a charity show coming up. Typical. It's always the case - it's almost impossible to get help from within, it always has to come from without. At least, that's the way it seems to work in the Corporation.

Another was on the verge of being locked down when some colleagues raised a Big Issue which I was unfamiliar with. Apparently she'd Had Problems with the Corporation before, and Things Turned Ugly, and Very Public. That was late Thursday night. I slept on it, and asked around a bit more Friday morning. The impression I got was that I was treading on a minefield with a blindfold around my eyes, and almost any step out was going to get me maimed at the very least, or scatter my body parts around half of Singapore at the worst. I decided not to step.

So now it was noon on Friday, and I was left with one more spot to fill.

Someone recommended a veteren DJ. Apparently he wasn't as restricted by Evil Corporate Politics because he was freelance. Wonderful. And he was a nice guy to boot. A trip to the radio station and a few phone calls later I had him.

I had a breather, and possibly ten cigarettes. And thought about how much I'd smoked over the past few days, and felt mildly repulsed. If I had a peptic ulcer it probably would've exploded by now.

So now it's Saturday and I'm all good on the celeb front. I should go because I have to be on set soon. I didn't have to be, but the AD has been feeling a lot of pressure lately and I should go to help ease it a little. An actor has family issues so I have to take over a bit role. And finally the kids have been giving problems lately so I think it'd be good to have someone to rein them in a little. If those aren't reasons enough to go on set despite having only four hours of sleep I don't know what would be. So yeah, long day ahead and I'm pretty much running on empty right now.

Seeya soon, if I survive.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Hair... Revealed

I thought I'd better take the picture and post it before my hair changes color any further. My colleagues commented today that it was already visibly different from what it was on Monday.

So here it is, in all its glory:

Le Hair

Yep. I like it. You should too.

And yes, I did get my left earlobe re-pierced. Did it yesterday, too, at the same doctor's where I took out my previous piercing. It cost almost four times as much as what I paid in the shitty little store, but I felt much safer. Hopefully this time around it'll last. Oh, and it's shiny too. Shiny's always good.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

About Wakes, Funerals and Such

The first wake I ever attended was that of my maternal grandfather. I was thirteen, and it was a pretty exciting time. Not to sound callous or anything, but he'd always been a distant sort of person, preferring to hide away in his room doing God knows what as opposed to playing with us grandkids. After his stroke a few years before, he'd been bedridden and really quite senile. In the months leading up to his passing he was worse, hurling abuse and expletives at everyone who ventured into his room.

So when I got the notice at school, I was pretty damn excited. My mom and I drove over to his place, where I got to see and touch a real-life dead body for a the first time. I remember poking his arm, but I don't remember what he felt like.

The whole thing was pretty much an adventure for us kids, I believe. We got to go to the void deck of their apartment every day after school, pinned little squares of fabric to our sleeves to signify our mourning, hung out at the wake till late at night or stayed over, made games out of folding and burning the paper offerings, pigged out on the snacks and all that jazz.

At the funeral, I remember my uncle breaking down and screaming as the coffin entered the furnace. I don't remember feeling very much. Perhaps I managed to squeeze out a tear or two, perhaps not.

That's all I remember of it all.

Then followed Angeline's father's wake. I believe we were all pretty shocked, most of all herself. I remember it as being an awkward visit. We sat around and talked about pretty much nothing at all. Then sat around some more.

Later in the army I got to go to my second funeral. A section mate of mine in BMT had apparently thrown himself off a high-rise building. We were called back at midnight on a Saturday for an investigation. We answered their questions as best we could, which meant that we really couldn't tell them much at all. He was a pretty quiet guy who kept to himself most of the time. In general the consensus was that he should try to lighten up. But it was a little too late for that.

As his section mates we got to go to his funeral before we headed back to Tekong for our field camp. I don't think I dared to look at any of his relatives in the eye. My platoon commander was there too, and I recall the very brief conversation between him and the deceased's brother as being tense. No one in that room wanted to be there, it was just a horrible place to be at a horrible time. We left as quickly as we could afterwards.

Why do I mention all this? Well, last week I visited Angeline's mom's wake three times. The thing is, I don't know what I'm supposed to do at a wake. Physically, you spend hours there. But in the end you don't know if it made a difference in anything. We had a competition with other tables in folding paper offerings, which was kinda fun, although it would've been more fun if the other tables actually knew we were having a competition.

Angeline was bustling around most of time, trying to juggle her different groups of friends and relatives. It seemed as though she was trying her best to make everyone feel better and more at ease. Even though I suppose that was necessary, I don't think she needed to do it. She didn't need to be feeling more stressed out and under pressure than she was already. I guess I'm the sort who believes that the bereaved should be allowed to just sit there and grieve while everyone gives them hugs.

The first night, she asked if we wanted to see her mom. We were brought to the coffin and peered through the glass. I awkwardly took a quick glance. Perhaps it was too quick, who knows how long is appropriate duration for this kind of thing? Too quick and you're being dismissive, too long and you're being macabre. I didn't think I needed to look for that long. A quick glance was sufficient to see that the person lying before me was vastly different from when I'd seen her about a month ago. We quickly retreated to our tables, where we drank disposeable cups of mineral water and ate peanuts and folded paper offerings and talked of this and that, seeming to avoid discussing what was at hand.

I guess overall it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. I dunno. We're meeting later for shopping and a French Arthouse Movie so I can feel culturally superior to the masses. Maybe we'll talk, maybe we won't. I'll just see how it goes. I might add more to this post in a revision later. For now, I have to go.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ooh! Pictures!

Testing out this photo hosting thingy from Flickr. Apparently they're the only way to go when I'm using a Mac.

Here are some people I hang with.

JC Eye

JL Eye

KW Hand

JY Eye

I love macro pictures. Unfortunately I was a tad tipsy when I took most of those, hence the strange focus, or lack thereof.

The Calm Before the Storm
Calm Before the Storm

Just Chillin'...

...and GO!!

Heh heh heh.

I'd love to post bigger pictures, but unfortunately they have certain default sizes in Flickr and for the next size up, the pictures go over the edges of my columns. So unless I figure out a way (maybe if I only post pictures from someone else's BloggerBot program) to do otherwise, we're going to have to stick to the small ones. I can't do it from work because apparently BloggerBot doesn't work on proxy servers. Boo.

Addendum: I'm leaving the above paragraph for posterity, as a testament to my genius. Yep, I figured out how to change the size of the pictures. Yay.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Burn, Motherfucker, Burn

I actually have a list of topics and stuff that happened that I plan to blog about in the near future. Some of them are tough, some are kinda lame, but hopefully all are interesting.

I'm not going to write on any of those now because I have something else to write on. Something which I did today, which is really fucking cool.

I dyed my hair.

Yes, I know, I've done it often enough before, so what's the big deal now?

The big deal is that it's really the first time that it looks just the way I want it to.

It's also the first time I spent so much on my hair. No cheap-ass neighborhood salons this time, nosiree. I did it at Reds this time, and paid an unprecedented (at least for me) S$200.

Is there some correlation between the amount I pay and the satisfaction I get?

Am I really happy with the color or am I forcing myself subconsciously to be happy just because I paid so much for it?

I dunno, I just know that for the first time in my life my dye job is a wonderful color that I'm very very happy with.

It's an ash grey. A really cool grey. I am amazed at how cool I look. And how superficial I can be.

Of couse, I think I got suckered into buying some expensive shampoo and conditioner, shelling out S$60 for the two, but after spending so much on the color, I kinda want it to stick around for a while.

The sad thing is, I was told by my Friendly Hairstylist Leo that I couldn't go swimming. Not if I wanted the color to stay. In his words, "Once you step in the water, the chlorine will wash out the color, and it will change. Into what, I don't know."

Was there a time limit on this, I asked. No, came the answer. I was devastated. I depend on swimming for exercise because I hate running, and it also gives me a tan. Perhaps I'm going to have to convert to being a runner instead. Or swim with my head above water all the time like a fucking dog.

I would post a picture so everyone can revel in my newfound coolness, but unfortunately my no-good brother has taken my digital camera to Shanghai. Without my Crumpler case and Canon lens adapter and lens cap. I called him up the day after and screamed at him for destroying my camera, as he inevitably would wihout any protection. He lamely argued that he put it in a Ziploc bag with lots of air as cushioning. Bullshit. If he breaks it he gets me a new one.

Besides the price tag, the coolness came with another price - excrutiating pain. I thought I was tough. After all, I'd had a tattoo, and hadn't felt anything when the doctor froze my warts. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The first bleach went ok, I didn't feel a thing. The second one kinda stung a little. When it came time to apply the color I was told that it might sting more than the bleach. Leo asked if I wanted to put some lotion on my scalp to make it less painful. I didn't see the need to. He smeared some coloring on the back of my head as a test. It was a good test, since he'd put it on a part where the hair was the thinnest.

Three seconds later I was screaming like a girl.

Actually, I wasn't, but I came pretty close. My exact words were "Oh-KAY. NOW I'm feeling it. Oh wow. Dammit. DAMMIT."

I was rushed to rinse off the damn thing. Another hairstylist laughed at me. Fucking bitch. Lotion was applied. And then care was taken not to put the color on the scalp. Yet.

When most of the hair was done, they started on the scalp. It burnt, God, did it burn. My entire head was on fire, I was drumming my feet on the ground, thumping the arms of the chair with my hands, making strange guttural noises. After they finished applying everything, I rushed out for a cigarette, hoping to distract myself from the flaming inferno that was my head. It worked, kind of. Five minutes later I got used to the pain somewhat and actually managed to sit through the entire ten minutes that was needed for the color to take effect.

Twenty minutes later, after a Color Saver treatment, the entire process was completed. It had taken four whole hours from the time I'd walked through the doors of the salon. I'd downed three cups of tea and two packs of biscuits, read an issue of Men's Health, and half the screenplay of Jacob's Ladder (I completed the writer's notes and afterword though).

Now my scalp still feels like someone tied a huge rubber band around my head and cut off the circulation. It's somehow numb and throbbing and tight at the same time. Bizarre.

Anyway I'm looking forward to going to work tomorrow and seeing the look on everyone's faces as they view The Hair for the first time. I love days like these.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

What A Fucking Lame Post

There was almost a week's gap in between my last two posts. In those six days, it seems that tons of shit happened. I don't like to make lists, but this is just to facilitate future posts on these, if I get the chance. Actually I lie. I like to make lists. It's just that I forbid my blog to become a lame list of all the crap I do.

Crazy workdays where it seemed like I was busy all day, every day. Managed to get most of my cast, but I'm not quite there yet. Hopefully it'll be done by the middle of next week, then I can start to really relax.

Went to the pool on Sunday, then played lots and lots of pool in the afternoon. And there went an entire day. It felt good though. Somehow we decided it would be a good idea to play mahjong at night, and ended up at my grandma's doing just that. I won some money, which is always nice.

Monday morning I get an SMS from MH, telling me Angeline's mom just passed away that morning. Could it have happened during our mahjong game? I wondered.

Visited her wake on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. More on that next time.

Had my screening on Tuesday, but you know that already.

Uneventful Friday night. Could've been some fun if things had turned out the way I was hoping, but I guess not. Oh well.

Why doesn't Safari allow me to compose in the normal way I do? Only the damn html composer window thingy opens up.

What a fucking lame post.

Friday, December 10, 2004

First Local Screening

I had a screening of Pictures On the Wall Tuesday night at the Substation, and I guess on the whole it went fine. It's really too bad the room was so tiny, more people couldn't come. Another unfortunate aspect was that the sound system was so completely shitty, all the amazing things Crotty did with the sound design were lost. No high ends, no low ends, clipping in loud parts, basically everything you expect from a pair of cheap-ass computer speakers. That was pretty disappointing.

Overall, the two other films were also disappointing. I'm not begrudging them for lack of funds or sophisticated equipment or anything like that. I'm begrudging one of them for lack of focus, both in a metaphorical sense and in a physical sense (how can the background in a 2-shot be in focus but not the subjects? And it was shot on video, so you can actually see what's going on while you're shooting it). The other lacked a punch and also lost its focus, story-wise, here and there. However, in comparison, it fared better than the former.

Of course, the majority of student film I saw at NU was shitty too, so no big surprise there. However, I consider myself lucky to have been involved with so many grant movies and stuff like that, so hopefully that means my standards are a little higher.

Does that make me sound like an arrogant film snob? I hope not. Even though I can be an arrogant bastard a lot of the time.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel everyone, but especially a director, has to go on set knowing exactly what he wants, and knowing how to get it. Even if it is going to be improv, he still needs to have some idea of what exactly is going to be needed, and what is to be discarded. You can't go in blind or partially blind and expect to get anything good out of it. There's a word for this. I think it's called "Professionalism".

A good ol' Q&A session followed the screening, and I'd like to think I handled that pretty well. Questions ranged from decent to completely inane to absolutely ridiculous. An example of a ridiculous one: This guy asked why we shot on our respective mediums, claiming that to him, film and video looked almost the same. I sighed inwardly, dumbstruck. I don't know if I was giving him too much credit by assuming initially that he had a film/video background, or at least I assumed that before he voiced the latter part of his question. But I mean, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, at least until they reveal themselves as completely fucking incompetent. So I guess that was really an "Umm..." moment for me. I then launched into a short impromptu lecture on the differences between film and video - look, response to light, fps, etc. - and tried my very best to refrain from being nastily sarcastic.

In a one-on-one conversation later, someone compared my movie to Tarkovsky. Another "Umm..." moment, since (a) I hadn't seen much Tarkovsky at all, and (b) it's a little ridiculous to compare a student film to a Russian Master, I think. But whatever.

And it's kinda funny but sad at the same time, for it seems that about half the people who asked questions were foreigners, and almost all who hung around to inhale my secondhand smoke later were non-locals. Was my movie really that alienating just because it had American actors and was set in the US? I'd like to think grand, lofty Themes (insert self-deprecating joke here) like Life and Death are kinda universal, no? Oh well, whatever. I guess I'll have to be an unappreciated Artist (insert another self-deprecating joke) in my own land.

Overall, good feedback, I guess. And I can't really do much to change it now either way.

I think I should get off my lazy ass and start submitting it to festivals again. Maybe I'll be able to get some free air tickets off the Singapore Film Commission that way, if it gets accepted.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Fucking Myself Over

Why? Why am I doing this to myself?

The last couple of days, I've found myself waking up at ungodly hours and then being unable to fall back asleep for some reason or other. 4 a.m., 5 a.m., it matters not a whit, it still sucks. I potter around the place, surf the net for a bit, do my whole blog-stalking, email-checking thing, and two or more hours later, finally fall into bed, exhausted. I wake up the next morning almost inevitably late for work and of course, completely fucking wasted. The entire day passes by in a drowsy haze, and then the cycle repeats itself that night.

Or sometimes it gets worse, like when I slept at 2 a.m. this morning and woke up at 4:30, which explains the insanely early hour this is posted at. And on a Saturday, too! This is just getting from bad to worse. Now I'm just going to be a fucking zombie tomorrow, and there goes any chance of actually enjoying my weekend.

I really don't know what to do. I'm just fucking myself over, day after day after day. This can't go on without me just completely losing it eventually.

Ooh, maybe I can get a day off then. That doesn't sound so bad.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Warts Up, Doc?

I hate the fact that my title-creation skills are limited to lame puns, much like the headlines in Singapore papers.

I also hate the fact that I have warts. I only knew they were warts today. Viral warts, as a matter of fact. No, not the gross kind that you get from a lady of the night. Mine are on my feet, and they probably arose from walking around on dirty carpet for nine months when I was in Evanston.

I only had one on my right foot initially, and I thought it was a corn, since I'd had those before, but they didn't seem to respond to the medication I slapped on them. It didn't hurt at all, so it was easy to just ignore it. Then slowly, after I returned home, it started spreading, and now I have three. Except I don't really know how they spread because two are on the other foot.

They're actually not that disgusting when you look at them, more like uber-calluses than anything. But they were annoying enough because they were there, such that I finally caved and saw a doctor today.

That's the best thing I can think of about my job, by the way. The medical benefits. I pay five bucks, and that's it. Especially when I feel like slacking taking a day off. Paying five bucks for a medical certificate in exchange for a day off work, that's a great deal.

So anyhow, the doctor looks at it and pronounces his verdict. What can be done, I ask. He says he will shave them down and then freeze them. It might have to be done several times over the next few weeks. I say, bring it on.

He brings a little kit and takes out a razor. That looks sharp. I never really liked sharp things, I get nervous around them. You know, because they cut and all. Then he attaches it to a scalpel handle, which doesn't exactly make me feel good. Then the shaving begins.

With little back-and-forth sawing motions, he shaves off one layer of callused skin after another. It almost looks like someone shaving the skin off an apple, only more gross. I look on in fascination, and also just in case he cuts off anything important, like, oh I dunno, a toe.

He shaves for a bit more, then goes, "This is a deep one." Well, it has been there for over six months. Good thing it's only dead skin and doesn't hurt. He does it for as much as he feasibly can without taking any flesh off, then moves on to the other foot. Those are a lot shallower.

He then gets out a little canister. I ask if it's liquid nitrogen. "Something like that," he replies. There is an attachment on the front, like a thin straw with a cotton ball on the end. He presses the cotton end into the biggest wart-crater and presses down on the button. "This will sting a little, so tell me when it starts to hurt."

Seconds pass.



More seconds pass.

"Still nothing?"


"It's really a deep one."


"OK, maybe I'm feeling something."


He stops, and moves on to the next foot. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure I felt anything. Maybe I was doing it just so he wouldn't feel bad.


"Anything yet?"






"Uh-huh, a little."

He repeats it for the third and final wart.






"You're really..."

He trails off. I'm assuming he thinks I'm tough. I hope. Or maybe he thinks I'm just dead inside.

"Sure you feel nothing?"

"Actually I don't know if what I feel is the freezing or you squeezing my toe."

He lets go of my toe and does it again.

"OK, it wasn't you squeezing."

Maybe I should've told him how my tattoo hurt less than I thought it would. If I can take a tattoo, this should be easy as pie.

Anyway I'm supposed to see him in ten days, and put salicylic acid on them in the meantime. Let's hope it works. Meanwhile, don't wear my shoes. These damned things can spread.

Crunch Time

It's been a whirl of activity at work lately, as crunch time approaches. We start shooting the next batch of episodes next Friday, so I need to have the cast ready by then. If not, well, it won't be pretty.

So the last few days have been the complete opposite of the couple of weeks before. Instead of spending hours staring at my computer and surfing the web, I now have to make phone calls all over the place and update lists and Excel spreadsheets up the wazoo. Script meetings, getting people to come in for auditions, trying to get celeb guest stars, calling up old friends and friends of friends to offer them parts that I can't trust an extra with but are not worth auditioning or hard to audition for... Just stuff, mostly. At this point I'm more concerned with filling up the cast list than anything, and it doesn't help that one of the scripts has to be completely rewritten from scratch, which means there's a whole new set of characters that I don't even know of.

I haven't gone to the movies in over a week, and I'm starting to get withdrawal symptoms. I linger on movie review sites, look at showtimes in the papers way too often, and make up lists of movies I have to see and movies I wouldn't mind seeing. As of now, only Alexander and Look At Me are on my must-see list. My don't-mind list includes Bridget Jones, Shutter, The Polar Express, After the Sunset and Christmas With the Kranks. Yeah, I know, all the commercial, critically-panned ones. That's why I wouldn't care if I saw them or not. I'm excited for Alexander though, because Oliver Stone is a guy who knows what he's doing... most of the time anyway. I still get tingles when I think about Any Given Sunday, whatever The Onion may say about it. If Alexander's half as good, it should be a decent movie.

I've also been spending way too much on Ebay, trying to snap up all the engineered jeans I could find after I realized they just weren't being sold in Singapore any more. Five pairs of jeans in less than a week, with bids of up to US$50++, adds up to one rapidly depleting bank account. What a fashion whore I am.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


I happily plugged my ADSL modem into my iBook just now, and nothing happened. Of course, I forgot to install the software. Even my Windows XP laptop needed the installation CD to run and recognize it, so I took the disc out. Then I stopped, speechless. Nowhere on the disc did it say "Mac". I dug around and couldn't find a Mac installation disc. So, that means my iBook is just a big hard drive that I have when I'm home, and I have to keep on using ol' Pinkscreen here.

Had a bitch-out session about my bottom-level pay at my JC class dinner earlier, and was flabbergasted to learn that entry level civil service jobs pay almost S$600 more than mine does a month. I was the object of much sympathy. Godammit. I have a job that sounds cool even though it isn't, and I get paid peanuts. Gee, thanks, Almighty Corporation.

I didn't get any Singapore Idol tickets, so I guess I won't be making a fast buck anytime soon. Apparently they gave only ten tickets to my entire division, so lots were drawn and obviously I wasn't one of the winners. The show's tonight, and I'm seriously considering placing a vote for the Malay dude just so the bloody talentless punkass bitch that's his rival doesn't win. I know, it's pathetic.

Actually I feel really stupid and silly, and more than a little guilty to be writing such drivel when Something Important is happening to people around me. I'm sorry I'm such a whiny, ungrateful bastard.