Monday, April 25, 2005

Return of the One-Word Movie Review

So I've seen a whole bunch of movies in these three weeks. To write on them all would be tedious, hence I'm reviving the One-Word Movie Review!

Swing Girls - Kawaii ("Cute" in Japanese)
Install - Insufferable
In Good Company - Dignified
Color Blossoms - Ludicrous
Spanglish - Competent
3-Iron - Graceful
Singapore GaGa - Vocal
Sahara - Dry
When Beckham Met Owen - Unfocused
The Assassination of Richard Nixon - Intense
Earth and Ashes - Dusty (in a good sense)
The Ring Two - Self-plagiarizing

On the filmmaking front, I received an email from the MDA saying that they were going to the Cannes Film Festival, and making a compilation DVD to give out to people. They wanted to include Pictures On the Wall, and were asking if this was OK with me.

I was like, "Fuck, yeah!"

At least they're actually doing something and putting their money where their mouth is. I can't say the same for the Singapore International Film Festival people, what with their heads stuck up their asses and all.

Not that I'm putting all my hopes in this though. I know it's akin to the little packs of shampoo you get in the mail. Some people try them out, others toss them away immediately. Maybe if I'm really lucky, someone somewhere will like my shampoo enough to want to buy it.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Medical Run-Ins

So it took quite a while to finish all the posts on the vacation, and I'm really far behind in terms of normal everyday blogging. Three weeks, to be precise, and lotsa stuff can happen in three weeks.

This is a post about all things medical.

While I was away, Kiwi had his spinal operation, for some unpronounceable affliction. Apparently he was in quite a bad state after that, and I'm sorry I wasn't around to visit him then. I've seen him twice since I returned, and I'm glad that he's much better now. In fact, when we visited him last night with lots of food, he felt good enough to actually leave the house. He had to wear a back brace, but at least that's a step forward. We went to Meihui's and played with her doggie, and he was even up for dessert afterwards. Here's hoping he makes a speedy recovery and rejoins our Friday night suppers soon.

Apparently I was kept too busy with work to find out, but my 15 year-old cousin broke his hand just a few days before I left for vacation. I hate this. Just because you weren't around when they first discussed it, they assume you know and then no one ever thinks to update you on it anymore. But anyway, it's a funny story.

See, apparently he was very quite pissy already about something or other, and playing some game on the PC. His eldest brother comes into the room and rebukes him about something or other, at which point the little hothead gets rather furious. He leaves the room. The next thing the eldest brother hears is a loud CRACK. The silly boy had punched the wall in anger, breaking a couple of bones in his hand. He even needed an operation to insert some metal rods inside. I wish I had pictures of the x-rays; his brother was showing them to everyone that came around. Anyway, I'm not too worried about him; kids heal fast. Besides, this might be good downgrade fodder when it comes to National Service.

As some of you may remember, I have a wart problem on my feet. No, they're not gone yet. The previous treatment was rather useless. My regular doctor thus referred me to the National Skin Centre for more intensive treatment. I went for my first appointment two weeks ago.

After the doctor looked at them - a pretty cursory examination, might I add - he sent me over to the treatment room where a nurse would administer the liquid nitrogen treatment. She looked harmless, and I thought, "How bad could it be?" She seemed to be rather adept at using the blade to scrape layers off. Then she took out this scary-looking canister with a trigger and nozzle and all. "It may be a bit painful," she said helpfully.

Understatement of the year. I tried very hard to be all manly and not show any major signs of distress. Then she stopped. Whew, it's over, I thought.

She looked up and smiled. "One more time, OK?"

O Devil Nurse! I might have whimpered at this point. Honestly, the details are fuzzy. But I do remember having Audition flashbacks to the nurse going "kirikirikirikirikiri" while inserting needles into the guy's eyeballs.

Anyway that treatment left me with a huge blister the size of a quarter (or a 50-cent coin) on my right sole, and pain (but thankfully no blister) on my left. I was also left a cripple for about four days. I spent the rest of the day with Angeline as I'd promised to see a movie with her, but it was certainly no fun hobbling around in Orchard Road with all the speed of a 90 year-old grandmother, wincing with each step. One of the biggest tortures was being less than 10 metres from a traffic light and seeing it start from green, the walking man blink, and finally come turn red just as I got to the edge of the pavement. This happened almost every single time I had to cross the street. It didn't help that the movie really sucked balls.

The second treatment a few days ago wasn't that bad; I only limped around for half a day or so. Hopefully it'll get better as time passes. I can see the ones on my left sole are almost gone, which is a good thing. Just a few more sessions...

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I Think I'm In Love

These are pictures of my new crush:

8800 Open

She's a shy one; her camera's hidden, and she only shows it on special occasions:

Isn't she pretty? She's not quite available, but I can wait.

I want her rather badly, I'm afraid, even though my finances don't really allow for it right now.

Perhaps I should go for a cheaper model, one of the black, red and chrome ones like Angeline.

But she's so pretty, and I'm a sucker for slider phones.

Oh, what a dilemma.


It's been almost three weeks since I returned from vacation, and I'm still feeling the fallout from it, and will be for quite a while yet.

First, the total costs came up to about S$10,000 for me. It's a rough estimate, but I think it's pretty accurate. A good portion of that is an advance from my dad, and I think I've returned him about 10-20% as of now. I'll get some of that back from Jingli, but it'll take time, and I'm still waiting on ATA for a possible refund. Still, a pretty substantial bit remains. However, there's no hurry, at least not on an overt level.

Oh yes, and the costs include my mobile phone charges, which were atrocious. I hate US telcos, they're pure evil. My charges came up to be S$766.61 (about US$465), leaving any previous records way back in the dust. A combination of factors led to this amazing result.

One: Stupidity, or, forgetting to use the SmartRoam option. Jingli made a bunch of calls lasting a total of around 20 minutes back to Singapore. Cost using SmartRoam: around S$15. I made one call lasting 15 minutes to Singapore. Cost using regular US roaming rates: S$75. A 45 second call to Singapore that wasn't answered cost me S$4.50, and so on. Rates to US numbers weren't much better.

Two: The fact that they start charging from the second the phone starts ringing. A huge portion of the bill was due to unanswered calls.

Three: People who don't answer their phone. I think that one's pretty self-explanatory.

Four: Ridiculously high US per-minute roaming charges. Ditto.

Anyway, that's gonna be a real bitch to pay off, considering my average account balance at the end of the month is usually only about S$200. I was beyond expletives for a good while when I received the bill. Now I'm better.

Paying for this trip is kinda like radioactive fallout from a nuclear bomb, it just keeps on going and going and screwing with things for a good while afterwards...

On a happier note, I just got a pay increment and a bonus. It's kinda pathetic, and will barely cover the price of my domestic US flight, but it's better than nothing. I was also told that they normally don't give newcomers bonuses and increments, so I'm supposedly rather privileged already.

I need more money, quick. Donations will be greatly appreciated.

More Pictures from S.F.

And you thought I was done posting about the trip! I thought so too.

These are pictures from San Francisco that were in my portable hard drive and unaccessible until I bought a replacement USB cable recently. They were taken Monday and Tuesday, 21 and 22 March.

This is a staircase outside Weisheng's apartment.

Staircase B&W

While we were driving past, I managed to snap this shot of the Bay Bridge from our moving car.

Bay Bridge Day

There's always a bunch of sea lions lazing around Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf. They're loud and stinky but kinda fetching in their own peculiar way.

Sea Lions

Lombard Street is the known as the crookedest street in the world. It was built that way to deal with the extreme 40 degree slope of Russian Hill. It's not a very good picture, but I couldn't find anywhere to take one from a higher angle.

Lombard Street

The architecture in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (or SFMOMA) is pretty cool.


SFMOMA Ceiling


A quick shot in the street.

JL Silhouette in SF Street

One of the more acceptable pictures taken from the cable car we rode in. The bunch of them turned out pretty crappy. You can see the Bay Bridge in the background.

View from Cable Car

Alcatraz, which we never managed to visit. Oh well, next time then.


En route to the Golden Gate Bridge...

Golden Gate 1

Shooing backwards out the cab window...

Golden Gate 2

And finally, at the lookout point.

Golden Gate Bridge

Us at Golden Gate

This is the view from Twin Peaks (no relation to the David Lynch TV series). Cameron drove us up there, and the wind was a killer. My hands were probably shaking from it. Imagine what a great view you'd get in the daytime.

View from Twin Peaks

Us at Twin Peaks

Why do I always look like I'm smaller than Jingli in pictures? This baffles me.

An Unfortunate End

Saturday 2 April 2005

Ran errands in the morning, and I wanted to get Quizno's for brunch. When I got there, I saw they weren't open till 11 am. Our flight was at 12.20pm, so there was no way. Lazy fuckers.

As we did our final packing, I had a realization: I'm a terrible person.

I swoop in with company, crash at their place, hardly see them, don't even hang out much, and in the blink of an eye, I'm gone. I hate doing this to the guys, especially Nate, since it's the second time we've had to say our hard goodbyes. It'd fuck me up.

Nate, Zach & Me
They're very tall people

We've had good times, but who knows when we'll meet again? I certainly hope that some day in the not too distant future we'll have an opportunity again, and I promise I'll be less of a heartless bastard then.

We said our awkward goodbyes, and Zach drove us to the airport in his good ol' Chevy Nova. I missed that car. During the drive, I remembered how I sat in Eileen's SUV that morning half a year ago, making the same journey. It was hard then, and it was still hard now.

There was an amazingly short line at O'Hare. In fact, I'd never seen a shorter line there. Within 15 minutes we were all checked in, cleared security and all inside; a new record for me.

A Quizno's was glimpsed, and there was rejoicing. But once we partook of it, there was disappointment, for it had the quality of a Subway sandwich. It was not unpalatable, it just was not up to the lofty standards of a typical Quizno's establishment.

I thought I'd booked a flight that transited at Narita, but in actuality we were on one to Hong Kong. This was a bad situation because the plane was shittier, and we had lousy seats, smack in the middle of the center section, with nowhere to stretch our legs. Oh, and the flight was longer too, about fifteen hours. I don't know how we survived.

Oh well, at least we'd be able to understand the porn in Hong Kong.

At one point, the screen helpfully told us we were flying over Siberia. That was real cheerful to know. If we crashed, we'd be in fucking Siberia. Yippee.

There was a succession of terrible movies, that much I remember. Meet The Fockers was painful in every sense. Shall We Dance? was just so sad because no matter how hard they tried, there was just no chemistry between the leads. And a movie that needs to tell the audience, "Spectacular. This is spectacular," really isn't. The only good thing I can say about it is that it's set in Chicago.

Thinking back, I think I probably should've bought less shot glasses. That was silly of me. And I should've found time to eat at more of my favorite places. There were two foods I forgot, cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory and pancakes from IHOP.

Sunday 3 April 2005

I really need to write my thank-you list. So here it is:

Thanks to Weisheng and Colin for putting us up, and Weisheng especially for being an amazing host. Cameron for showing us San Francisco when we needed you to, and driving all the way up to L.A. and just being wonderful in general. Arielle and Dan Viney for your beautiful apartment and company. Danielle and Naureen for letting us stay in your cool old place. Mun and Joyce for picking us up at Midway. Nate, Zach and Aaron for the wonderful apartment at Noyes, and together with Sarah and Eileen, for making me feel loved. To everyone who dropped by to say hi. To everyone whom I met that said hi and made me feel welcome. And to everyone for extending their generosity, friendship and love to Jingli. You didn't have to, but you put in the extra effort to make him feel at home in a strange land, and I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.

And apologies again to everyone I didn't manage to see, and to everyone whom I met too, for being such an asshole. It was far, far too short to do any of you justice.

Here we are on the flight to Singapore from Hong Kong. We're sad.

Sad to Go

But little did we know that the worst was yet to come.

So we touched down, bought our duty free liquor and was about to waltz through the sliding doors. We were home, nothing else could go wrong. Or so we thought.

We were chatting normally, and I was doing what I tend to do during walk-and-talks, letting my eyes wander all over the place. Bad mistake. My line of sight drifted unconsciously over two uniformed personnel standing near the sliding doors. For an instant, one of them locked gazes with me, then I looked away. I think that was the deciding factor. Of course, it could've also been the fact that I just looked like some young punk in need of a lesson. Damn, I should've worn a hat, and maybe my coat. That would've made me look more respectable. Or maybe it was my fiery-red ah beng shoes.

In any case, one of them came over. I forget which one. Perhaps it was the Indian fellow. The other was a woman in her forties or fifties; let's call her Menopausal Bitch, or MB for short. We were asked if we had cigarettes. Fuck, we were less than five metres from the sliding doors, beyond which lay freedom. So close, yet so far. Anyway, we claimed we didn't. Rather weakly, I thought - after all, we were both actors at some point in our lives. They then said they wanted to check our bags.

This made us reconsider. Jingli went ahead and declared the two cartons he'd bought for his friends, and I took out the two I'd bought for my colleague. I still had two pretty well hidden (or so I thought) in my suitcase. MB then asked if we had any more. No, I insisted. She pushed again. I refused to budge. She was really pissing me off, she had such a high-and-mighty attitude. She reminded me of all the discipline masters and mistresses I'd had before in school, and nothing makes me madder or more stubborn than people like that.

Then she insisted we pass our bags through the x-ray machine, after which she asked again if I had anything else to declare. "Nothing," I answered, like a petulant schoolboy. Somehow I'd latched onto Angeline's mantra of "admit nothing". Granted, she meant for the mantra to be used if she was ever caught having an affair, but for some strange reason I thought it might be a good idea to use it now. I was even thinking, "Maybe they'll miss it in the x-ray, since I've hidden them so ingeniously under everything." I guess my brain must've shut off or something, or maybe I was just too pissed at MB.

They then started going through our bags by hand. I just stood by, all pissy and trying to restrain myself from slapping her. I tell you, I'm forever getting screwed over by Menopausal Bitches like her. They're the worst kind. It's like they're made of pure evil and spite. This was when my parents decided it would be a good time to call. I answered it, glad to have a distraction. I think I managed to hide what was happening from them pretty well. When I finished the call, she'd already found the remaining cartons, and was looking pretty smug with herself, giving me a self-satisfied smirk. Fuck you, bitch. I may be breaking the law, but that doesn't mean you can't be civil.

At this point, the Indian dude found the porn I'd gotten at Hong Kong. Now, I'm not ashamed to admit this - yes, I look at porn. So what? If a man claims that he's never looked at porn in his life, 99.9% of the time he's a fucking liar. At least I'm honest about it. Yeah, I say it's for my brother, and it may be his, but that doesn't mean I can't look at it too, right? And this may be the wrong place for a rant on the subject, but I believe that porn is a basic human right, and we should all have free unhampered access to it. Fuck you and your archaic moral high-horse, silly Singapore laws!

Anyway he finds the magazines, and starts looking through them page by page.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk, what's this? What's this?" he says, rather too loudly for my benefit.

Gee, what do you think it is, Einstein?

"Where you buy?"

"Hong Kong."

"Tsk, tsk, tsk." (shaking his head)

What a hypocritical fucker. If you really disapproved, you wouldn't be looking at them so slowly now, would you? He was really taking his time, enjoying every page. Assholes like that deserve to be raped by a gang of horny monkeys.

"You boys are in a lot of trouble," Indian Hypocrite said.

Boys? Boys?!! I was this close to throttling him. Now I knew why African-Americans feel so much about the term "boy". It's really extremely degrading. And I knew the extent of the trouble we'd gotten into, and it was nothing. People do this all the time, and if all of them were thrown in jail, there wouldn't be enough room. At the most it was going to be a slap on the wrist fine, I was convinced of that.

We were led over to the customs office and waited at some seats. I could see Jingli was worried sick, so I tried to reassure him. "It'll be OK," I said. He didn't look convinced.

You know what pissed me off most about those fuckers? The fact that they traumatized him so much. You can fuck with me all you want, I can take it, but leave my friends alone. Don't fucking touch them, or I'll curse you and your entire extended family to hell and back. I'm that vicious. Fat lot of good that does me.

He went into the offices first, and when he came out, he told me he'd chosen to have the cigarettes destroyed rather than pay the duties. Then it was my turn.

These customs people were really nice and friendly, compared to the assholes outside. I hope those two (and everyone they love) die horrible deaths. I know, I'm a terrible person, but hey, I can live with that. That's what you deserve for fucking with my friends. Anyway, I had to pay a fine of a little over S$1000 (about US$600) for the two cartons of undeclared Davidoffs, and could choose to pay import duties for two cartons and destroy two of them, or have all four of them destroyed and pay nothing beyond my fine.

One of the guys advised me to pay the duties. "If you don't think about the fine, which you're going to have to pay anyway, it's still cheaper than getting them on the street." Knowing that they'd just raised cigarette prices yet again, I had to concur. Duties were about S$75 per carton, and all in all that little incident knocked me back somewhere in the vicinity of S$1250 (about US$760).

It was all very civil. Many pleasantries were exchanged, and this went a long way in making me feel less pissed about the whole thing. Seriously, if everyone could be a little nicer to each other, the world would be a much better place, and I wouldn't feel the need to commit mass murder sometimes.

I was also told that a notice of the confiscation of my porn would be sent to the Media Development Authority, and they would decide if they wanted to do anything about it. Honestly, I don't think anything will come of it, since they must receive hundreds of these a day. In my opinion, they're probably only interested in the big fish, the distributors and such. Me, I'm small fry.

One irony though, the Singapore Film Commission did give me a grant to make my film, and it's also under the MDA. Perhaps this will lessen my chances of getting future grants. But you know what, I don't think so. There's just so much bureaucracy in the government sector that I'm sure the various departments never communicate with each other apart from the annual office parties and dinner-and-dances. The red tape in my company is bad enough, I don't even want to think about the shit they must have in government offices.

I think we managed to conceal our trauma pretty well when we got home. We could blame it on jet lag.

Anyhow, yeah. A spectacular ending to our vacation. Sodomized by The Man, less than five metres from freedom.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Our Last Full Day

Friday 1 April 2005

April Fool's Day. Our last full day in the United States.

I love that the guys took my pair of sai and made them into a coat of arms.

Coat of Arms

Lunch at Potbelly's. Mmmm.

Stupidly, I decided to follow MapQuest directions to Purdue. Yes, I fucked up again. We wasted 45 minutes on little suburban streets before we hit the I-90. I should've just listened to Zach and taken the Lake Shore Drive-I-55 route.

Apart from the bad decision that started it off, the drive was relatively uneventful. I think Indiana should be known as the Armpit of America; it's just so fucking boring. Apparently some people like to defend it by saying, "There's more than corn in Indiana!" Perhaps. But not so much. I almost fell asleep, not from tiredness, but out of boredom.

Purdue looked suitably depressing for a school in the Armpit. The only sign of civilization seemed to be a Potbelly's. Jingli met his friend Eric, after some misadventures with switching cellphone providers between states. He seemed very Taiwanese, because, well, he's from Taiwan. Overall a real nice guy, and they seemed happy to be meeting up.

Not only did MapQuest give stupid directions to Purdue, they gave completely ridiculous directions to the outlet mall at Michigan City. We were told to get off the interstate 12 miles before the proper exit, and travel 20 miles on tiny shitty roads. Fuck you, MapQuest. Of course, it was so dark that once we exited the interstate we couldn't see which road to turn into. It was decided we'd do better following signs on the interstate instead, so we got back on. As it turned out, that was the right thing to do - finally I'd made a good driving decision!

It was the emptiest I'd ever seen that outlet mall; it was like a ghost town. Well, I guess it was a weekday, and close to closing time, but still. Every single time I visited previously it was bustling with life; it was especially crazy the day after Thanksgiving. Now we didn't have to walk anywhere, we could just drive from store to store. It's remarkable how the mood of a place can affect your shopping. When a place feels dead and the salespeople look like they'd rather be somewhere else, you don't feel like pulling out your wallet at all. We got shitty service at the Levi's outlet and everything looked disappointing. It was one of my saddest shopping experiences. We spent less than half an hour there.

Dinner at Steak 'n' Shake and back to E-town.

I'd planned on visiting some people and chilling, especially with Tim Brayton, but when I called he was busy that night. In the end I opted for a quiet evening at the apartment instead, swilling wine, smoking and packing. Karen dropped by, which was really sweet of her.

Security Mirror

I wish I had one more week to see everyone. It was ridiculous and stupid of me to think I could somehow manage to show Jingli Chicago, drive him to Indiana, and still somehow see all my friends within the span of 3 1/2 days. Pure hubris, I suppose, and blind, silly confidence. In the end I saw probably about 20% of the people I wanted to see. They're all graduating and moving out in the summer. I missed my one chance, it didn't happen and I have to live with it.

I'd originally planned to spend the entire vacation in Chicago, and maybe only venture out to visit other people and places in the Midwest. Somehow, somewhere along the way the trip turned into an incredibly ambitious behemoth and everything just raged out of control. I guess I have no one to blame but myself.

I don't regret the trip, not at all. I just wish we had more time.

The Magnificent Mile, A Disappointing Drive & Sin City

Thursday 31 March 2005

It was official. We were running out of essential items of clothing. Laundry had to be done. For some reason, Jingli felt an overwhelming desire to play basketball in the park, so we did so in pretty biting wind. He was ecstatic that for the first time in his life, he didn't sweat after a game. Me, I just sucked.

JL at Noyes
At Noyes Street

Lunch with DeYoung again, at Philly's Best this time. As I sank my teeth into that epitome of sandwich perfection known as the Philly's cheesesteak, I knew I had attained Nirvana. Of course, this means that at one point in my life I was attaining Nirvana possibly three times in a week, but I'm not complaining. It was so big Jingli had to pack up part of his sandwich for later, another first for him. What a momentous day.

We went to Peter Galassi's apartment with Nate to say hi and stuff. He wasn't home, but the apartment was unlocked. It was also gloriously unkempt, exactly how I remembered it. I left a rude note on his computer. However, as we were walking out the door, who should come along but the man himself. After a quick chat, we bought tickets for the Sin City premiere tonight. That should be exciting.

I felt awful that I couldn't hang out with more people because of our tight schedule, though I admit it's my own fault for trying to squeeze too much into too little time. However, we did serendipitously run into people, like Jon Volk and Carol Sweeney in Belmont yesterday and Emir on the El today.

JL at El

El Tracks
Under the El tracks

Silhouette Street

Jingli looked down today at the Magnificent Mile; he was probably still beat-up over his lost pictures. He wasn't in a real mood to take many pictures, even though the weather was beautiful, and the Chicago architecture as stunning as ever. I had to persuade him to take them; I didn't want him to regret it later.

Gargoyle Saints

We started at the Water Tower and John Hancock Center, and proceeded down Michigan Avenue, walking past all the fine (and really expensive) stores. As usual, the Apple Store lured me in, though I'm proud of myself for not succumbing to the temptation to consume.

John Hancock
The John Hancock Center

Something that annoys me about clothes in the U.S. is the fact that all their designs are so goddamned safe. No crazy designs, no weird-ass prints, they just look the same: blah. It's sad that you have to look to the European labels like FCUK or Australian ones like Quiksilver to get cool-looking stuff.

Sun in Wrigley Building

Wrigley Building

Anyway, we passed by the Wrigley Building, which still looked as awesome as ever. The gothic-looking Chicago Tribune building, the stately Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River; everything was as how I remembered it.

Tribune Building
The Chicago Tribune Building

Tribune Building Reflection
The same building reflected in another one that no one really cares about

Skyline feat. Wrigley bldg

JL Eating Against Skyline
He finally finishes his Philly's cheesesteak

Chicago River
The Chicago River

JL on Michigan Ave Bridge
On the Michigan Avenue Bridge

Millennium Park, with its giant metal jelly bean all covered up (bastards) was further down the street. The huge video screens with their faces spitting water were still there, and they still looked as stupid and pointless as ever.

Shadows in Millennium Park

MX at Tribune Sign

JL hail cab

We ended the walk at the Art Institute, and it was a pity we didn't have time for it on this trip. I know, it's criminal, but we didn't have a choice. Something had to go.

Art Institute Steps

Sun in Silhouette Street

Once we got back to the apartment, we hopped into Sarah's car (Thanks Sarah!) and set off for Purdue. The plan was for me to drop Jingli off there and return to Evanston in time for the Sin City premiere at midnight. We were already setting off late, so that wasn't a good start.

Along the way, I realized I'd forgotten to get gas for the car. As the levels were getting dangerously low, we had to stop at a gas station in the South Side, after which we got terribly lost. Construction work on top of shitty signs and dark streets just don't make a very good combination. We ended up on a different freeway than the one we were planning on taking, but it would've been fine had we not also run into a massive traffic jam that stalled us for over an hour. Three hours after we set off, we decided to call it quits and head back, because we would've gotten to Purdue too late for him to do anything. I felt terrible to disappoint him yet again, especially since it was really my fault. He didn't show it, but I know it must've been a terrible let down.

Sin City was l-o-n-g. It was two hours, but felt more like four. There can be too much of a good thing, and I found the main problem to be the same one that the first two Harry Potters had. It was much too faithful to the original comics, packing too much stuff into the movie and taking too much time for many sequences. Three stories plus a framing sequence is really just a tad over the limit for a good, tight movie.

However, it did look fantastic, with gorgeous black and white compositions with occational splashes of color. There's really nothing like a stripper in a sleazy bar shot in black and white. Mickey Rourke was amazing and Rosario Dawson unbelievably hot. Elijah Wood had a cool appearance; him and Nick Stahl must have had tons of fun playing against type as crazy murdering bastards.

I saw Martha for the first (and as it turned out, only) time during the trip at the movies. It was wonderful, but alas, all too short.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Lazy Day

Wednesday 30 March 2005

Got up bright and early - well, relatively speaking - to show Jingli around the ol' NU campus. It was really nice walking around and seeing the campus again. Very comfortable, like slipping into a pair of old worn shoes. Even though the campus isn't as pretty during this time of year, it's still something. I still haven't forgotten the irony of seeing the lake lit up for the first time only on my Graduation Day. We slowly meandered our way through the buildings, heading for the Lakefill. No matter what, it's still the nicest spot on campus, in my opinion.


Lakefill 2
Lake Michigan behind

Louis Hall was next, and we met some people at The Cage: Brian Perkinson, Jim Joyce and Kevin Richey. A little tour of Louis ensued, and I took almost perverse pleasure in pointing out the exact little editing room where I lived for a few months (Avid 2, for those wondering). We went around the TV studio, the graphics rooms, the Avids, even the sidewalk where me and Martha used to lie down, smoke and look up at the sky. It felt good.

We were about to head back to the apartment when we ran into (rather amazingly) Anthony and Win-Sie outside Louis. I couldn't very well just walk away, so we ate with them at (shudder) Norris. Catching up was nice, but I don't think I'll see him for a very long time.

Anthony & Me

Back at the apartment, Jingli found to his horror that there was something wrong with his CF card. A week's worth of pictures had mysteriously disappeared, and a number of those remaining were corrupted and wouldn't show. Some of them were even from this morning. We tried hooking up his camera directly, taking out the CF card, any combination of things, and nothing worked. I checked out a website, which seemed to say it could be salvaged, so we decided to leave it for the time being. I mean, what could we do about it?

Lunch was a nice picnic in the park with #1: sandwiches from Rollin' To Go. It was a really beautiful day, with a good breeze and nice sun. When I'm staying in Noyes everything feels so relaxed, I just want to take things easy and chill all day.

DeYoung thinks

Jingli had a go at the swings, and I think that image will stick with me for a long time. He refused to let me get a picture, and I'm still kicking myself for missing the chance. Sometimes you see something, and what's happening and how it's laid out just speaks volumes, and you know you need to take that picture. Well, I felt like that, but I didn't take it.

As we waited on the El platform at Noyes, I couldn't help but notice Jingli was really withdrawn and quiet. I'm sure it was pretty traumatizing, finding out your pictures are gone. Poor guy, he looked so sad sitting there, I thought he was gonna cry. But then he doesn't like to show any weakness; he's such an alpha male, it can get a little infuriating at times.

I tried to cheer him up by wondering aloud if the soaking in NYC had damaged my portable hard drive (I know, it was a stupid idea, bringing it out). Not only were there pictures from this trip on it, but all my college digital pictures were on it, including my graduation pictures. No backup. If they were gone, that was it. I think I'd be beyond crying at that point. I'd probably just nod, then go out and shoot someone. I'd left the USB cable behind at Arielle's, so there was no way of checking, and the end of the cable that connected to the drive was sufficiently weird such that I had to go back to the store I bought it from to get a replacement.

(By the way, I eventually got a replacement cable a few days ago - i.e. mid-April - and thankfully everything on the drive was fine. I have since moved everything on it to my laptop. The drive was rather shaky anyway, and I intend to sell it to some unsuspecting shmuck online.)

I don't think my attempt worked. It was rather weak, anyway.

Belmont had cool stores, and actually the Haight-Asbury region in San Francisco really reminded me of it. We found a great poster store and went nuts again; I swept up some H.R. Giger designs at a really good deal. There were also a whole bunch of vintage stores and a hip army surplus store. A bunch of shit was bought. As we walked around I felt rather sad I hadn't taken the time to really walk around these stores before this. I mean, I was only familiar with the army surplus place and one or two of the stores.

It was close to dinnertime by then, and a quick subway trip later, we were at Pizzeria Uno, only the best pizzeria in the world. They serve an unbelievable deep dish pizza, with heaps of fillings that taste like heaven. I would seriously kill for it. In fact, I bring everyone that visits me in Chicago there, because if you haven't eaten here, you haven't been to Chicago. Amazingly, the wait was only twenty minutes. When I've waited for almost three hours before, twenty minutes is nothing.

After we finished dinner, it was pouring outside. New York flashback. But this time, it even hailed at one point. I shrugged. Chicago shows its crazy weather again, big surprise.

Street Night

I was going to bring him to the Magnificent Mile and show him the pretty lights at night, but it seemed that wasn't going to happen. We went to the Improv Olympic instead, because improvisational comedy's kinda fun. The girl at the counter told us there was a show that had started half an hour ago. I remembered the shows lasting a really long time, so I thought it was fine. It ended twenty minutes later. Boy, did we feel cheated. She never told us anything when we bought the tickets, she just kinda looked at us weird. Bitch.

Signature Lounge

The rain had stopped, and the Signature Lounge seemed like a good idea. We went back to the Magnificent Mile and took a 96-storey elevator ride up the John Hancock Center. It really is the best way to see Chicago from up high. For the price of a drink, you get a great view. Why get ripped off by ridiculous observation deck entry fees? And the view beats the Sears Tower's any day, with the coastline laid out before your eyes.

Lake Shore Coast

Navy Pier

Above is Navy Pier, which I'm ashamed to say I've never been to. We didn't manage to fit it in this time round either. There's a sweet ferris wheel and stuff.

Chicago Night

We had drinks and chilled, taking tons of pictures for lack of anything better to do.

JL sepia

JL BW mood CU

MX mood CU

Thru the Glass

MX Mastercard

Money CU

I think we must've spent hours there, until I called Sarah to find out what they were doing and realized that a whole bunch of them were waiting for us back at the apartment. Eileen had baked a chocolate cake, and they had been waiting for hours, apparently. Feeling terrible, we left immediately.

Me & My Girls
Sarah (L) & Eileen (R)

The girls were there, and crazy Nate Eddy, and even Dana. Some people had apparently came and left, and I feel really sorry about that. Nonetheless, the cake was delicious, and it was wonderful hanging out with everyone.

3 + 2
On couch, L to R: Nate (#1 - DeYoung), Zach & Nate (#2 - Eddy)
In mirror, L to R: Me & Eileen