Monday, October 31, 2005

For Your Enjoyment

New Arrival

I have the feeling Kinokuniya bookstores might be stuck in a time warp. Since when does Pride and Prejudice constitute a "New Arrival"? In the 19th century, maybe...

Lastest Name

Yes, I'm convinced. MacGregor's really is the lastest name in golf.

Dark Orange Milk

Whatever the hell it is, I don't want to drink it.

(It's actually a sign listing the different flavors of chocolate at a stall)

Lamp Chop

Mmm. Lamp chop. What's next, TV dinners? Ha, I kill me.

Smoking Chicken

And further proof that Disney is evil. Look at Chicken Little, corrupting our youth with his filthy habits! Next thing you know, we'll see Minnie Mouse giving blowjobs for crack.

Happy Halloween, folks.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


It's a typical sports movie, so it's predictable and safe. Your run-of-the-mill guts and glory story of an underdog who makes it to the major leagues. Nothing amazing, it seems to work, which is all I ask for from the genre.

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Absolutely gorgeous. I can never understand how people can do stop-motion animation. I'd go mad taking everything frame by frame. I thought it was more heartfelt and bittersweet than The Nightmare Before Christmas, though the latter was more fun. Loved it.

Four Brothers
Just plain blah. 'Nuff said. I wouldn't have seen it if not for the free tickets.

童夢奇緣 (Wait 'Til You're Older)
An uneasy gelling of tones makes this movie rather uneven. It also tends to get too heavy-handed, but apart from these, there aren't any real complaints. What's funny is that my companion seemed really affected by it. He even claimed to have shed a tear.

Rather slow-moving, and the plot twist turned out to be just too far-fetched for my liking. The director went overboard with unnecessary camera moves and slow motion when he wanted to question Jodie Foster's sanity, which was completely unwarranted. Here you have one of the best actresses of her generation, and you want to spoil it by not trusting her and resorting to cheap MTV-style tricks. Jodie always plays the role of the desperate mother-in-a-crisis well, and this time is no exception. Too bad about the rest of the movie.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Loved it, loved it, loved it. What I thought would be a cool, stylish flick turned out to be a meditation on the nature of revenge instead. Not that the movie doesn't have style in abundance. Just when you think the film is headed for an inevitable conclusion, Park Chan-wook draws back the curtains and reveals yet more layers to his morality play, widening the scope such that we look upon our own souls at the same time. I don't have to say more about the scripting, acting, design, cinematography or editing. Suffice to say they are all impeccable, scoring especially high in the cinematography department, with every shot a gorgeous masterpiece of framing and lighting.


I just broke my personal all-time record and saw seven movies in a span of 24 hours, hence the title of this post. In fact, as I'm starting this writing I'm still within that 24-hour period. I think I can either be thought of as a cinephile (or cinewhore, whichever you choose) or the term "wasted youth" might justifiably apply.

The first two were just for fun, and the next five were part of a horror film marathon that ran till 7 am this morning.

Transporter 2
Completely ludicrous, with plot points telegraphed way ahead at every turn, cartoonish (and for some, shrill) performances, and (very) clunky dialogue. But it is rather fun, if you leave your brain at the door. There's a girl whose attire of choice in battle consists of a trenchcoat over skimpy lingerie and semi-automatics strapped to her sides. For no reason whatsoever. And I shall refrain from mentioning the oft-mentioned "flip your car upside-down and use the hook of a crane to remove a bomb strapped to your undercarriage" scene. Oops, I just did. Unfortunately, some sub-standard CGI spoilt certain scenes for me. Look, sometimes boys just need to have fun. More specifically, fun with high-speed chases, guns, explosions and scantily-clad females.

The Legend of Zorro
I liked it. It felt familiar and nostalgic, like the old action movies I used to watch on TV as a kid. Back in the day when Indiana Jones seemed to be rerun every fucking public holiday. Nothing beats a good old fashioned swashbuckling adventure for entertainment, that's for sure. Lucas can take his computer-generated crap and stuff it up his ass. I have to say though, that the most amazing special effect in the entire movie has to be Catherine Zeta-Jones' decolletage. She's running around, jumping up and down and fighting evil-doers, with every move a potential spillage risk. How that neckline manages to stay up is beyond me.

Great psychological piece depicting the mental breakdown of a ridiculously beautiful Catherine Deneuve. The initial slow pacing builds up to taut sequences of tension and then explosive murder. Hallucinatory scenes are artfully done with awesome sound design and none of the annoying flash-jump-cut bullshit of psycho-crap movies today. Probably the best work of Polanski's I've seen so far (I haven't seen Rosemary's Baby in its entirety though, so that opinion might change). But I think by far the most impressive special effect must be Catherine Deneuve, who manages to look absolutely drop-dead gorgeous even when she's a dishevelled madwoman.

The White Reindeer
It was going to be hard to top Repulsion, and well, this movie obviously didn't. An old 1950's Finnish film with the feel of a silent movie and sporadic subtitling, this was really rather repetitive and boring. Perhaps it would've been scary ages ago, but now, there's even a distinct lack of mood. I've seen rave reviews of the gorgeous landscapes and evocative scenery, but all I see are very blah-looking stretches of snow. Add to that over-the-top, bordering on cheesy performances (an early "seductive look" was especially hilarious) and a tissue paper-thin plot that takes forever to get to the point, and you get lots of people nodding off. Basically, woman wishes husband to stay at home more, so she gets a spell and changes into a white reindeer which "no man can resist" and starts luring men to their deaths. Then her husband kills her. The end. It was hilarious how as if to make up for the lack of subtitles throughout, the distributors felt obliged to add pages of text after the end of the movie, basically re-telling the last third of the film.

An American Werewolf in London
By far the most entertaining of the lot. This was a good movie to put in the middle, when everyone's starting to feel tired. It definitely got the audience up and awake, especially compared to the deathly pace of the previous film. What can I say about this that hasn't been said before? Great balance of dark comedy and horror, check. Jaw-dropping (in more ways than one) special effects that are awesome even in the age of CGI, check. Snappy dialogue, check. A finale that begins in a porno theatre - two thumbs (among other appendages) up! Pure genius. How I wish See You Next Wednesday was a real movie...

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Tedious, overwrought, melodramatic, and pretty much a bore. Some nice cool character designs for bad guys, but nothing more than an excuse to draw nifty characters jumping and carving each other to bits. The characters just talk and talk and talk about how bad they're feeling, and spill out their guts (pun fully intended) and past histories to anyone at the drop of a hat. Then sometimes they fight. There's an attempt at a forbidden-love story between a human and a vampire, but seriously, who the fuck cares? Everyone was too busy snoring away.

The Hunger
Ooh, an arty horror movie. And directed by the King of Excess, Tony Scott, no less! It's pretty evident on hindsight that he was in the process of forming his crazy-jump-cutty, MTV-on-speed style, but compared to his more recent works, this seems rather stylish and cool. I guess the story was decent, but I nodded off a couple of times. There's supposed to be a controversial lesbian sex scene between Catherine Deneuve (still impossibly stunning in her middle age) and Susan Sarandon, but either that was cut by the censors, or I was asleep. Still, I was amazed I was able to formulate a theory about the film at 5 am in the morning. Best thing about it? Bowie, definitely Bowie.

I was fairly uncomfortable throughout the marathon, and in truth couldn't wait for the night to be over. Not only did I have to deal with a cold, and all the dripping of fluids it entailed, I also sat next the Stupidest Girl On The Planet. I don't even know what she was doing at the marathon in the first place. Probably accompanying her boyfriend. Or maybe they mistook it for a Japanese/Korean gorefest.

She's the kind of person that has the habit of making comments that either (a) state the blatantly obvious, or (b) are stupid questions. Here's an example.

Woman hacks man to death with a razor blade.
Stupidest Girl On The Planet: Eee...
Woman then flips over a couch to cover the body.
Stupidest Girl On The Planet: She's mad.

Of course the woman's mad. It was fucking obvious an hour ago when she started imagining cracks appear on the walls and having rape fantasies! Yet her comments on those were:

Imaginary cracks appearing in the walls.
Stupidest Girl On The Planet: Why her house like that one?

Woman having rape fantasies.
Stupidest Girl On The Planet: Who's that guy?

Here are more:

Man gives little reindeer doe to woman.
Stupidest Girl On The Planet: So cute!

Woman bares fangs and leans towards her victim. Cut to snow bank with the sound of his scream.
Stupidest Girl On The Planet: What happen?

Upon The Hunger's ending:
Stupidest Girl On The Planet: Why like that one? So what happen?

That was a question that she often repeated throughout the night.

Seriously, there are people like her walking around with huge sections missing in their brain, or maybe their synapses are burnt out, or something. It's like they're unable to make any connections between events or people. Their powers of reasoning and logic are completely absent. And yet the connections to their mouth and vocal chords seem to be functioning perfectly. It's mind-blowing.

Fortunately as the night wore on the Stupidest Girl On The Planet seemed to get less and less vocal as her tiredness increased. If not, they might've found her head in a trash can or something. I'm not saying anything, just that it could happen.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


I had a look at Jingli's video project recently.

For someone who's new to all this, it's a pretty decent piece of work. Believe me, I've seen far worse. But still, I'm reminded of this undeniable fact about my industry. Telling a story visually isn't as easy as it seems. And telling that story well is pretty damn hard.

What I'm surprised about is how they seemed to be unaware of the tools that we use to tell these stories. It appeared as though they were simply given a camera, shown a few things on Final Cut Express, and told that they were now ready to make a video.

Things you take for granted, like the 180-line, cutting on action, match cuts, just basic stuff that's used to keep things flowing, they didn't appear to know. Not to say that it was awful, but there was quite a bit to fix. And luckily, most of them were fixable.

They should have been taught all these in class. If not, what the hell were they going to classes for? And speaking of which, a video plus a website seems a little over-the-top for their first semester in school, does it not?

When I was pointing out stuff to him in the lab, apparently some of his classmates noticed. When he got good reviews for it, someone started passing rumors that he'd had professional help. When asked what I thought about that, I replied, "Tell them if you'd had professional help, you wouldn't just be getting good reviews. It'd be fucking perfect."

Yeah, I'm an arrogant S.O.B.

I just find it demoralizing that he's having to deal with all this backstabbing bullshit even in school. It's bad enough that you find it in the workplace, but you're supposed to be given room to breathe and even fail sometimes in school. But how can you be free to be yourself when there are all these motherfuckers around?

One of the things I miss most about NU is the student film community, where you feel like you're part of something bigger than yourself, and everyone is so incredibly generous with their time and their knowledge. Or perhaps I'm just looking at it through rose-tinted glasses.

Irregardless, he's still mighty proud of his video, so do check it out. The website looks pretty slick. But I guess that might be because I know nothing of web design.

And not to be a wet blanket or anything, but enjoy the feeling while you can, young padawan. One day, you too will look back on your early projects, and cringe with embarrassment. Oh, how I have cringed. We all will, someday. Perhaps next time too, you'll be able to experience the wonderful things and see the great results that can come with a true collaboration.

But for now, enjoy it. Soak it up. You earned it.

Oktoberfest Wedding! (Not)

Last Saturday. A wedding in the Botanic Gardens.

The first thing almost everyone said upon receiving the invitation was, "You're getting married?!" The second was, "Is there air-conditioning?"

There is, in fact, air conditioning. But it's confined to such a tiny area it might as well not be there. The 15-minute hike uphill and downhill from the Visitors' Centre got me sweating like a pig even before anything started. I brought a jacket I'd tailor-made in Shanghai along, but couldn't even stand the sight of it most of the night. In fact, I don't even have any pictures of myself in it - I'll have to wait till the bride shares them with the office.

Speaking of which...

Here Comes the Bride

A simple solemnization ceremony kicked things off. It was a good move, because it got people in the mood for the evening. I'm usually pretty immune to shit like this, but I'll have to say it did feel rather nice and romantic.


And here's my favorite picture of the night, bar none. It's an exclusive too, since I was the only one in that position. Everyone else with a camera was on the other side, so they only got the mother's face and not the bride's.

Boo Hoo

I like everything about it. The raw emotion, the tenderness, the anxiety. Even the framing works better than the one I took just before this, of the father and bride.

The rest of the evening was spent talking and mixing and smoking and, well, basically trying to have fun. Tiki torches are fun.

Light My Fire

These people are responsible for one of the most-watched shows on Singapore TV.

Crime Watchers

It's always fun corrupting a decent woman. I think she's hoping her sons will never see this picture. Maybe they won't. But the internet's a scary place...

Corrupting the Innocent

There are pros and cons to having a buffet-style reception at your wedding instead of the traditional 168-course Chinese dinner. The good thing is, people can start eating right away, and do so at their own pace. They don't have to be confined to their seats and wait for each course to be served. The bad thing is, precisely because of the reasons above, once they've finished eating, people tend to just fuck off without so much as a wave goodbye.

The happy couple had certain things planned that evening, such as throwing the bouquet off a balcony, but unfortunately by the time they did their toasts at each table, they realized the vast majority of their guests had, in fact, buggered off. Never fear though, her colleagues remained behind, and by this time everyone had quite a bit of wine in them. So she kicked her shoes off and got down to business.

Kicked Her Shoes Off

This "business" included standing on a chair and making a speech thanking every single person present at the top of her voice, leading some crazy-long "yam-seng"s and playing a game in which she was blindfolded and had to guess who her husband was by fondling a series of asses.

Grabbing Edwin

This was downright hilarious, especially when she rejected the groom, saying his ass felt "too plastic".

Grabbing Luke

All in all, good times. Even though I'd planned to leave earlier, I'm glad I stayed. One funny thing was, I was mistaken for an official photographer. Probably because my G5 was too bulky-looking, and because I was snapping away all the time. Everyone thought it strange that an official photographer would be taking more pictures of himself and his friends than of the proceedings, but no one asked me anything until a week later. Whatever.

Then the next day was the Erdinger Oktoberfest held in China Square.

Early Toast

There was great company, decent food (although far from the best), good beer, and rather insane music.

The Band

The band was Hüttenpower, who the program claims have "orchestrated a very unique 'Happy Power Sound' in their performances". I think what it means is that they performed as though they were on speed.


In the Strongman competition, if you're the one who hits the bell the greatest number of times in the entire evening, you get a carton of beer. There was this crazy old man who basically just stationed himself next to the setup and gave it a shot every two minutes or so. He hit the bell over a hundred times. That's just sad, and very kiasu.

The Drinking Competition

In the speed drinking competition, Jingli came in second. And to think the emcee was pointing out that he was the smallest in stature among the three guys. I guess he swallows pretty fast. Must be all that singing and vibrato, making the throat more supple. But the winner though, that guy put it away even faster than I drink water. He was done when the rest were only halfway through. Ridiculous.

Late Toast

There were lots of communal toasts, dancing and singing strange lyrics later on in the night. It was a helluva night, full of fun, drinks, and more drinks. And possibly some mild vandalism to follow too.

There are more pictures that I don't have right now, and they're a lot more fun than these are. I'll put them up once I get them.

The haul for the night: 1 one-litre Erdinger glass (bought), 2 Erdinger 500ml glasses ("spirited away"), 1 Erdinger/Vil'age T-shirt (bought), 2 Baron's Oktoberfest polo tees (free), 2 Baron's watches (won), 2 Erdinger limited edition boxed sets (1 won and 1 bought), $50 Vil'age vouchers (won), various keychains, flags, etc. (free).

But I guess the best thing was still the company and the sheer exuberance of the event. All that other crap doesn't hurt though. Oktoberfest next year? Count me in.

Beyond the Chalet

A very late post, from way back (two weekends ago, actually). It was a rather packed weekend, since I was hopping from the Beyond concert to a chalet organized by my secondary 4 classmates.


The concert was really unexpectedly cool. But what can you expect from the grand olde kings of Hong Kong indie rock? I found out I actually knew more of their tunes than I originally thought, and the crowd was crazy, with the majority on their feet whenever the band performed.

There were a lot of young'uns (read: younger than me) there too, which I found curious since the band really started in the 1980s and hit its heyday in the early 1990s. It's strange but also kinda cool that they're so into the granddaddy of HK rock.

Things that sucked: It began early; only twenty minutes late. Normally concerts don't start till at least half an hour past its scheduled time. Angeline and I just had dinner, so we were a little pressed for time. It started without us, and we missed a song and a half.

They also said there wasn't going to be an encore. The fans thought they were bluffing. They weren't. That blew.

For a much more in-depth article, click here.

4A Chalet Group

People who turned up at the chalet. There's quite a number. But the funny thing is, when you're younger, everyone's clamoring to stay overnight in the chalet. Now it seems everyone's busy finding a reason to leave. You used to have no problem squeezing five people onto a bed meant for two, but now you shudder at the thought of it.

After an almost-entire night of mahjong, a mad doctor dragged everyone out to see the sunrise at the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. unfortunately by the time we got everyone out of bed and rubbing their eyes, the sun was already rather advanced along its path of rising.

After parking at Fort Road, we walked.

On Highway

And we walked.

On Bridge

And we walked some more.

It's kinda fun, walking along the highway with cars and trucks zipping by you. Even though your heart's in your mouth most of the time because the aforementioned mad doctor insists on going into the lanes of traffic to take a picture of everyone walking.

From the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, you get a damn good view of your surroundings, like so:

Tanjong Rhu
Tanjong Rhu

Marina South
Marina South

Back at the chalet, I witnessed a miracle. There's a face in the wall!

Face in Wall

Communication was not established.

Then I spent most of Sunday curled up with a book in the chalet before joining people for dinner. Why do so many people have to work on a fuckin' Sunday?

That was pretty much my weekend, right there. Stay tuned: The next weekend involved a wedding. I've been a busy little bee.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Singin' in the Rain

Crazy storm last night. I was trapped in the rain and had to borrow an umbrella from Qinwei's mom.

I would've loved to just say, "Fuck it," and walk home in the rain. Rain feels nice, with each individual drop exploding on your bare skin. It only feels shitty when you're trying to do something or go somewhere, and can't get to somewhere warm and inviting that easily; then it becomes a bother. Otherwise I like it. Walking in it, dancing in it, singin' in it, whatever.

Too bad I was carrying my iBook. It doesn't seem to like rain all that much.

Since the monsoon season is upon us, I expect there will be lots of chances for me to take a stroll in the rain. I look forward to it.

I'm Only Joking...

My friend, who's working in some firm that deals in IPOs and strange things like that, said earlier at dinner, "I had to deal with this damn sleazy company today. The husband is the chairman and the wife is the vice-chairman..."

I cut him off, "That sounds like Ter-mah-sehk Holdings."

OK, it's not the right spelling, but you Singaporeans know what I'm talking about.

I thought it was funny. We all did.

But please don't sue me, oh great and mighty company. I am but an insignificant bit of dust.

If you must know, the sleazy part wasn't about the blatant nepotism, OK?

Watch This Movie

Just a quick note to my peeps in the US.

Three... Extremes (which I saw and wrote about over a year ago) has just opened over there.

It is very cool and you should all check it out; it's probably unlike anything you've ever seen. It also has a nifty website.

I just saw Sympathy for Lady Vengeance today and I'm such a Park Chan-wook fanboy right now, you have no idea. Unfortunately I've never seen the first one; I'd kill to see it. Or maybe not, considering what happens to killers in his films.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Great White Man

Has anyone not seen that new Visa Platinum ad starring Richard "I'm so fucking good-looking" Gere? Am I the only one that hates it with a passion?

For those who haven't seen it, here's a brief recap.

An Indian Boy puts his luggage away at a jetty.

An Indian Merchant leads our hero, all soft-focus and glowing, through a rustic open-air market. As he shows the White Man all the birds in cages around him, he tells him that they bring good luck.

A little Indian Girl runs past them, bumping Richard Gere in the process. He gives a bemused smile, all benevolence towards this silly little native girl who doesn't know better, and is probably too poor to afford paying for dirtying his crisp white clothes.

Sure enough, the Indian Girl runs up to a Bird Seller. "My brother is going on a long journey. I wish to bring him luck. Five birds please."

"But that is only enough for one bird."

She looks despondent, but agrees that one will do in that case. Richard Gere looks on, a gleam entering his eye. Perhaps she will grant him... favors later should he do something nice for her.

She leaves, and the White Knight presents his Visa Platinum card with a flourish to the Bird Seller. He looks at it and mutters in approval. Someone with such a card could probably buy the whole of India. And he's doing it to please a little girl. How incredibly generous!

The Indian Girl arrives at the jetty and catches her brother's eye. She raises the single birdcage in her hand, pleased with herself.

And around her, hundreds of birds flutter skyward, released from their cages. The entire market is standing there, and in a prominent position is, of course, The Man himself - Richard Gere.

She looks at him, puzzled. This is the clincher. He catches her glance, then coyly looks away and pretends to be uninvolved in what's happening. He knows he's got her now. Tonight she'll be in his bed.

The End.

Why do I hate this ad?

Well, apart from the sexual connotations which I've pretty much spelled out above, I also hate it for being ridiculously condescending. The White Man swooping in to rescue the poor Asian Girl and giving her a better life. How much more literal (and insulting) can you get?

I also hate Richard Gere for looking so goddamn smug and full of himself. Ooh, I've got a Visa Platinum. Ooh, I can afford the entire GDP of a third-world country. Ooh, you little Asian traders just love my American money, don't you?

I hate him more for the stupid coy look at the end. That just makes me want to slap him.

Is this how Asia should be viewed? As a land perpetually in need of "saving"? Are we all wallowing in such persistant poverty we need some good ol' White Man and his capitalist revolutions to lift us out of our slums?

I don't deny that a great portion of Asia is poor. But that doesn't mean that it's right for their image (real or fictional) to be exploited in the guise of a lazily-conceived ad for a product owned by the very rich.

I hate whoever thought this was a good concept. If you want a good Visa ad, try the one with Catherine Zeta-Jones and monkeys. At least that was cute. And it had monkeys, which make anything beautiful.

I'm sorry, I'm not usually so sensitive to shit like this. In fact, I got pissed in my Asian-American literature classes because the people in it spent all their time obsessing about how repressed they were by the White Man. I don't know why I'm feeling so strongly about this ad. I mean, it's just an ad, right?

But every time I see it in a movie theatre I wanna throw something at the screen.

Maybe the problem with the ad wasn't because it was offensive. Maybe it's because there are no monkeys in it.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Shanghai: The Funny Chapter

As we all know, the Chinese aren't exactly known for their command of the English language. Here are some examples from my recent trip.

From an ad for some "high-class" housing project:

Real Estate

The fine print reads:
Encompassing the nature leisurely, the purest space, the romantic household, emerging your glory, loading your all-life desire.

I'd sure like my glory to emerge.

Alien Employment

In the trip, we also found E.T.'s employment permit. Seems like he made an unscheduled stop in China and has been there all this time.


So the opposite of "recycle" is... "unrecycle".

The following two photos were taken in the hostel we stayed at in Hangzhou.


They translated "remote control" as "robot". God knows why.

And this is a real hoot. Here are the rules of the hostel.

Hostel Instructions

1) To guarantee a nice rest for you and the other friends, pls don't cry at any place in the hostel.
2) Pls care the public sanitation. Clean the rubbish omnivorously. Pls turn off the light and air condition when you go out.
3) Pls cherish the public property. Pls inform the reception in case of damnification, you need to pay for it and draw for new ones.
8) All entertainments close at 12 pm. The gate of the hostel will be closed. To avoid infection to the others, pls keep quite after 12 pm.

Wow. Is this a hostel or a prison camp? You're not allowed to cry, you have to clean the rubbish omnivorously (whatever that means), you're at risk of damnification (begone, Satan!) and you need to keep quite (keep quite what?) after noon to avoid infection to others. I'm not sure I want to stay here.

Electric Power Hospital

The Chinese seem very proud of the fact that their hospital runs on electricity.

They also have stores selling interesting things, for example:

Juvenile Articles

Elephant Dress

This isn't that funny per se, but it really sounds like some rude Hokkien phrase. Not any specific phrase that exists, but if you read it out loud it seems like it should be something rude.


And this is for all the NU Singaporean folks. Ha! I bet the guy in question will be flattered.

Wuyi Rd

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Decision

Been strangely out of sorts lately, like my brain's stuck in a rut or something. It all seems to be going around in circles, and neither my life nor my career seems to be going anywhere at all.

What the fuck is going on?

What the hell can I do?

I need a change. And not just a silly little one, like shaving my head or dyeing my hair or getting another piercing or tattoo. Those are only temporary solutions; they're not going to change much in the long run. Well, I guess mostly temporary, except the tattoo.

I've decided I need to move out on my own. Pronto.

I know, I've said this before, but I've never really acted on it. It's all too easy to just let it be when you run into roommate problems and all. But I've made my decision.

I will move out by the end of the year.

With or without roommates.

It's time for a new start next year.

End of the Road

A week ago.

We gave it our best shot. We tried, we really did.

JL Semi

MX Semi

But it didn't happen.

And this is where we get off. The journey continues without us. It's been a good ride. C'est la vie.

That night, I got to thinking: Is this it? Is this what I'm capable of? Just this? Am I this mediocre? They were silly, depressing thoughts.

Luckily, my self-defence mechanism, i.e., my huge ego kicked in and reassured the fragile little geek inside. He's OK now. He got startled again during The 40 Year-Old Virgin when the toys got crushed by Steve Carell and Catherine Keener on the bed, but I beat him into submission. He's now whimpering in a corner, crying for his mummy.


Thanks to everyone who came, and to everyone who sent well-wishes. Much appreciated.

Peiyun was mentioning to me the other day about how rare this thing we have is. That everyone will come from all over the island, regardless of where they work or live, to support a friend.

I afraid to say that maybe I've been taking all this for granted.

So let me say this now: Thank you once more. Thank you for being there, thank you for continuing to be there, and thank you in advance for being there in the future.

Thank you for being a friend.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Dirty Dozen

Dug back through my records and managed to scrounge up 12 movies I saw over the last two months or so which I've failed to mention here for some reason or other, usually laziness.

Napola - Elite für den Führer (Napola: Hitler's Elite; a.k.a. Before the Fall)
Rather predictable. You have your brave lead character who's not afraid to stand up for what's right. You have the weak/gay/artistic (delete whichever's inapplicable) best friend who eventually will kill himself because he can't win. You have oppressive societal forces or authority figures. And that is how you make a typical coming-of-age film, folks!

The Maid (女佣)
Starts off promisingly, and even touches on issues of alienation and loneliness for foreign labor. However, cheap scare tactics abound and it quickly degenerates into a ludicrous mess. The final plot twists are especially laugh-out-loud ridiculous, and unfortunately you also see them coming a mile away.

Land of the Dead
I thought it'd be a fun B-movie. It wasn't fun enough for me.

Red Eye
A tight little thriller that delivers the goods. I had a great time, and Rachel McAdams is smokin' hot.

36 Quai des Orfèvres
Backstabs, betrayals, and tons of intrigue in the world of shady cops and moral ambiguities. Nicely done, if a little plodding at times. Fantastic performances all-round though, and it's nice to see that Gérard Depardieu is still alive and not making a fool of himself.

Night Watch
Slick, very slick. Even the subtitles are smooth as silk and have their own visual effects. An über-cool sci-fi/fantasy epic reminiscent of The Matrix (the first one). When people find out it's the first of a trilogy they're chomping at the bit. The Russkies have really outdone themselves this time.

The Brothers Grimm
Um, it was fun? That's about all I can say for it really. I guess Terry Gilliam really tried, but the script is kinda paint-by-numbers. The different methods of kidnapping the kids - all cool - were just about the best things there were about this movie.

A Bittersweet Life
As a Korean movie, it's really quite a decent one. But that's because I've been hurt far too often by bad Korean film. But on it's own, it's really just rather blah. The sentimentality feels far too forced, and the violence seems somewhat half-hearted, perhaps because the movie lacks a true emotional core. Sappiness and strings do not make for the heart of a movie; real relationships do. And only when violence intrudes into those real relationships is it felt. Otherwise, it's just lots of noise and flash.

長恨歌 (Everlasting Regret)
Superior to Stanley Kwan's previous work 藍宇 (Lan Yu), which seemed like a shallow coming-out anthem for him. Yet it still fails to engage the audience on a deeper emotional or intellectual level. Sammi Cheng's acting seems to have improved, but she still pales in comparison to a veteran like Tony Leung or even some of her supporting cast. Production design is excellent and everything looks very pretty, but you feel detached and bored and eventually just don't give a shit about anything anymore. Some people have said that their everlasting regret about this movie is not being able to get the time they spent on it back.

The Bow
I'm sure it's meant to be a parable or whatever, but frankly, the setting is rather far-fetched and just plain boring, not to mention mostly predictable. Old man rescues/adopts/kidnaps young girl and raises her for ten years, wanting to marry her once she comes of age. One day a young man arrives on their boat and surprise, surprise, the young people fall in love. I'm sure you can see where this is going. Usually I like Kim Ki-Duk's non-dialogue, but this time it gets annoying as all they do is pout and look pissed off with each other. No one really does anything much, and when the climax (pun fully intended) comes, it's bizarre and fails to be moving in any way. Only 90 minutes, but it feels like forever.

Dark Water
I saw the Japanese original a couple of years back and liked it. Now I have to admit I like this American remake as well. I can't say which I prefer, since there are good things in both, but if you could put all the good things from each one together you'd probably get a movie I'd love.

I'm amazed that they actually managed to find an apartment building that's even shittier and scarier than the Japanese one. That looked rather dingy and creepy, but this - this is an apartment building on the brink of hell.

I liked the additional facets they gave to Jennifer Connelly's character, so she wasn't just The Mother, she was The Disturbed Mother Who Might Be Nuts. I also enjoyed the supporting cast, who were hugely over-qualified for this, of course. I thought the ghost in the original was creepier though, and I missed the absence of the fucking cool elevator-doors-opening-and- letting-out-a-deluge-of-gross-water scene. Still effective though, and had a nice little final scene that might bring tears to some (not me though, I was still sore from seeing The Bow).

The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Steve Carell is da bomb, the supporting cast are amazing, and the writing is sharp and fucking hilarious. But I'm sorry to say I couldn't enjoy this movie as much as I thought I would because I was tired out from the two before. That was Reason One. The second reason was probably because I'd heard such good things about it, and you know, build-up and expectations and all inevitably leave you going, "Oh. That's it?" So dammit, if you think a movie is the greatest fucking thing on Earth, just tell me you liked it and don't tell me it's the greatest fucking thing on Earth, because I'll be expecting the greatest fucking thing on Earth and then I'll never think it's the greatest fucking thing on Earth.

I remember going in to see Anchorman, thinking it was going to be a silly movie from the trailers I'd seen. And when I came out of the theatre, I was laughing so fucking hard and loving the movie. It was a silly movie, but it was also fucking hilarious, and mostly because everything had been a surprise. And it wasn't even as well-written as Virgin.

So it seems that if I go into the movie thinking, "This is going to be great", it very rarely is. Strangely enough I also felt rather distanced during the screening, like I was standing outside my body watching myself laugh. Sort of like I was my brain, and I was telling my body, "Here's a well-written joke. Now laugh." And while my body would respond, it wasn't a real response, not a gut-heaving thigh-slapping now-that's-fucking-hilarious moment. It felt choreographed, artificial, acted, observed.

I don't know why I get that way - that emotional detachment - sometimes. Maybe I'd invested too much, or tried to invest too much (couldn't do it for The Bow though, because it sucked too bad) for the movies I saw before. Now I think about it, it's rather sad. I invested myself in Dark Water? What the fuck for?

Or maybe it's all because of the fucking filmmaker in me who keeps on wanting to jump out and impress me with how much he knows. I wish I could shut him up sometimes. He does go away with a bit of liquor though.

I'll say one thing: I was terribly impressed with how the writers managed to put offensive jokes into situations that made them much less so, or twisted them around so they were completely inoffensive. You know, like the guys trading "I know you're gay 'cos..." one-liners, Al-Qaeda jokes, and so on.

So yeah, I think I should try Virgin again and see if I can respond appropriately this time round. Fresh, unthinking, and a little bit drunk.

Have I mentioned how much I love the tagline? The Longer You Wait, The Harder It Gets. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

And only gentle, geeky souls can compare an action figure in its original packaging to a man's virginity. Not to mention write a heartfelt scene with the guy saying goodbye to all his toys.

Addendum: Here's an interview with Steve Carell all you Virgin freaks might find interesting.

Additional Addendum (16 Oct 2005): I take back my statement about Everlasting Regret being superior to Lan Yu. Upon racking my hazy memory of that film, I recalled several powerful scenes in that movie that elevated it above the tedium that surrounded most of it. Unfortunately, Everlasting Regret didn't have a single scene like that, and so it is the lesser of the two.

The End

Thursday 6 October 2005

A hangover and lunch do not mix well at all.

I insisted on doing the touristy thing and taking the Maglev (magnetic levitation) train to Pudong Airport. It was a long cab ride to the train station for that, and then the actual train ride was under ten minutes. Still, I'm told it's probably the fastest way there.

This was the view outside the train when it was travelling at top speed. I think my camera's pretty powerful. I set it to the fastest shutter speed and there was no blur. I would've liked some blur for effect, but whatever.

Outside train window

Top speed: 431 km/h (268 mph).

431 km:h

Spent a long time in the airport because we got there so fast. I had to wait for the check-in counter to open (that's never happened before), and then a long time later for my flight too.

Shitty airport food for lunch. Noodles with fatty meat - all fatty meat. I couldn't stomach much of it. I take back what I said about Pudong Airport. It only looks OK, the amenities totally suck ass. I hate it now.

So finally I went in and had to wait (again) for boarding. Give a bored man a good camera and lots of time, and he'll go nuts.

Waiting Lounge

Control Tower


Plane on Runway

Plane Takeoff

Sun Thru Window


Blah flight. It was half empty, so I got to change to an exit row seat. Finally, legroom! Hooray.

In Plane

I put my jacket and my hat on so I'd look more decent, and I guess it worked, since I didn't get stopped by Customs. Another hooray. But I was a good boy and didn't really sneak stuff in. Well, a little bit doesn't count.

Biggest regret? That I didn't get a chance to taste dog meat. That'll have to wait till next time, I guess, or maybe..? Jovi, Momo, come here you cute cute puppies...

So yeah, end of trip. Finito. A little anti-climactic I suppose, but that's how it goes.

Let's Party in Shanghai!

Wednesday 5 October 2005

Woke up for lunch again. We had oysters and clams in a little sidewalk restaurant. Had to go to the bank to get more RMB. Bought a ton of pirated DVDs for my brother, which I will never watch. My stand on video piracy is this: I will get them for you if you so desire, but I will not partake in them.

Anyhoo, I'm drinking as I'm writing this, so forgive me if it's not entirely coherent. It's kinda appropriate for the contents further on anyway.

Picked up my tailor-made shit. They looked good.


Leather Coat

Went for a walk in the French Concession Area, which was supposed to be a nice place with pretty houses. Could not see the fucking houses from the street because of all the fucking trees blocking the view - goddamn foliage! - and what I could see was pretty dull and boring anyway. I mean, European-style housing may be a rarity in China, but I see them all over the fucking place every-fucking-where.

Hmm, I seem to swear a lot more when I've had a drink or two in me. Ah well.

Took a walk in nearby Fuxing Park (復興公園), which is a real nice park with fountains and statues and shit. The coolest thing was, there were also a bunch of clubs located in it! You can see one of them in the picture below (the red building). Damned if I remember its name though.

Fuxing Park

There was also a long wall with every page of the day's newspaper tacked to it. All very nice and communal (or communist). No one shall be left behind; the people will have their news!

Newspaper Gallery

Also spotted: A statue of the Fathers of Communism, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. They looked kinda gay. I mean that in the most positive way, of course. Ha.

Marx & Engels

Also, there was a huge-ass 24-hour Party World KTV in the vicinity. All of this makes me think that Fuxing Park is an awesome place indeed.

Party World

Dinner is a blur to me now. But after that we went across the river from the Bund, where they had a nice park by the bank, where you could see the pretty lights across the water. And of course they'd build the nicer park here, because it had a better view than the other bank did.

There was a bar and restaurant called Red Dot, which was kinda funny because Singapore is always referred to as a "little red dot" (which it is on the world map), but it's not run by a Singaporean.

Red Dot

Tower & Red Dot
Red Dot and phallic tower

So yeah, nice views of the Bund all round.

Me Agst Bund 1

Me Agst Bund 2


Bldgs & Buick

Red Sea

Blue Sea

And also some crap along the riverbank.

Crap Under Haagen-Dazs

We saw this huge neon billboard and I couldn't resist.


After that giggle we began the night proper with drinks at Paulaner München. A pretty good Filipino band was playing, and I got to take home a souvenir Oktoberfest mug.

Paulaner Munchen

Next was DKD - Decadence Kills Depression, which I think is a pretty awesome name for a club. It played decent techno/trance. By decent I mean that even I could get into it, so it's a good place to check out if you're ever in town. The (very) reasonable cover of 50 RMB included one drink. Vodka-redbull, anyone?


By the time we got to DKD it was almost midnight, so technically the rest of the post should be under the next day. But who cares?

Number Three: Zapata's, a Spanish-style bar with no cover charge. The crowd was mostly Caucasian expats and the music was OK when we walked in; some latino-flavored dance number. But it quickly shifted gears into retro. When the familiar strains of Y.M.C.A. began and everyone - and I mean everyone - in the club started going wild and singing along, I knew it was time to split.

In the cab riding away from Zapata's we passed another Paulaner's. This one was located in a mansion. A fucking mansion. Full of Paulaner's. I tell you, Shanghai's a crazy city, man.

The final stop was GuanDii (官邸), an awesome hip-hop place in (where else?) Fuxing Park, owned by (ex-?) MTV Asia VJ David Wu (吳大維). I'd been deprived of good hip-hop for so long (in clubs, anyway) it was a welcome relief. Nothing like some ol' bump-n-grind to get you in the party mood. Woohoo!

And that was my last night in Shanghai.