Thursday, December 30, 2004
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Abandoning all art-fart snobbery and reservations about watching a Hong Kong comedy, I caught Stephen Chow's Kungfu Hustle last monday. And amazingly I genuinely enjoyed it (perhaps because it was in the company of long-time pals).
Kungfu Hustle is a cheesy mix of comedy, action and melodrama. Amazingly, this mix of essential elements is well-balanced: its slapstick and parodied moments are totally hilarious; its slick kungfu action is absolutely enthralling; and its stereotypical portrayal of Stephen Chow the hero & childhood-lover is nicely packaged.
I deem it an East-meets-West, postmodern parody of the traditional Chinese kungfu flick. Admittedly I'm no movie critic, but intuitively the film has embodied the fusion of the two fronts in many ways.
At the beginning credits of the film, Columbia Pictures' foray into the Asian film market is plain for all to see through its collaborations with various Chinese companies. But I do hope Kungfu Hustle's distribution in Western will be better managed than Miramax Films did with Shaolin Soccer (as if I have a personal stake...).
Opening sequences of dancing tuxedoed mobsters and the like charging with top-hats and axes spoofs Gangs of New York, while a superfast speedchase on foot between Stephen Chow and an obnoxious, Kungfu-enabled landlady brings to mind the Road Runner. Not sure if others catch this, but there are allusions to Western flicks of old in the showdown scenes.
Through the liberal use of CGI, the lightning-fast Jackie Chan fighting scenes Chinese audiences are used to are slowed down and stylized a la The Matrix - and thankfully well-delivered without appearing too incredible as did Ekin Cheng's ridiculous flying exits in A Man Called Hero (1999). This is probably one of the show's major success factors.
Personally I like how the kungfu master stereotypes have been broken down and recast with quirky idiosyncrasies. Instead of an authoritative and dangerously calm pugilistic master, we have an effeminate tailor sporting red underwear. Of course, this isn't really new for Stephen Chow and other masters of Chinese comedy have been employing this for ages.
International reviews of the show have been good and its box office takings continue to rise - all of which attests to the winning formula honed by Stephen Chow.
I wonder how non-Chinese audiences will be able to appreciate facets of the film peculiar to the Kungfu genre. After all, they wouldn't know how Andy Lau and Leung Ka Yan have immortalized Return of the Condor Heroes? Then again, in translating Cantonese to Mandarin, some nuances have already been lost.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.
James Arthur Baldwin
As the year draws to an end, some of us stop to reflect upon the hits and misses through our endeavours (or the lack thereof) in the past 12 months.
Where am I going? Where am I headed? What do I want? What does my family expect of me? What does God have in store for me?
One thing we must never take for granted is life itself, for we never know when and how any of us will go - just like how thousands across Asia were killed by sea surges while we blissfully celebrated Christmas.
Thank God I live in Singapore, sheltered from the like of such natural disasters.
Choosing directions in life and devising plans to reach our destinations is not a once-a-year exercise that takes up 2 more pages in your diary; it is a daily effort that demands fixing your vision on personal goals and aligning your actions and activities towards achieving them.
Of course, I could have copied all of that from a motivational book somewhere right?
The real challenge is in putting this mantra to work and actually making things happen.
I often taunt G's dog - aptly named Dog - by asking it agitatedly, "WHAT DO YOU WANT?!"
Dog then jumps enthusiastically in response and caninely communicates his immediate pressing desire, be it a doggie treat or his favourite bear that is out of reach or an overwhelming urge to check out the excitment elsewhere in the house.
He's annoying in that way and if his desires are unmet, Dog will most certainly resort to incessant whiney objection coupled with heart-melting puppy eyes.
What do you want?
Wanna run a full 42km marathon? Wanna start a business? Wanna muster up enough courage to date that girl from another department? Wanna do something about that bad habit of picking your nose in public?
Just as David of Channel I's Six Weeks and, closer to home, my sec 2 English teacher (that's Kam Choo Choo for those in the know) both reminded me, we must live everyday like it's our last.
This year, more than ever, that magical feeling known as Christmas - and its accompanying soundtrack that sounds suspiciously like Metro's Christmas ad of old - hardly registered.
As I've been lamenting to G, it feels awfully commercialized and I have absolutely no desire to go out.
My main source of "good will and peace toward mankind" were the newspaper's countless ads blandly trumpeting Christmas sale after Christmas sale, day after day. On Christmas day itself, one was already promoting its post-Christmas and pre-Lunar New Year sale.
Read: Christmas is about giving... so give us your money! Come fulfill your consumerist needs through our festive discounts and exclusive credit card privileges!
As I did the customary Tour de Orchard Lights, the only eye-catching decoration this year were the gyrating Christmas trees - brought to you by Visa.
As usual, as if milling in shopping-crazy and sale-motivated crowds ain't bad enough, the malls have to go and play cheesy Christmas music that only drives the musical snobs in us mad.
Back in the office, there's the numerous gifts of chocolates (1000kCal per serving) and the omnipresent logcake (500kCal per slice) which you grudgingly accept while making a mental note to run an extra km or swim an extra lap to compensate.
Eventually Christmas loses its appeal for all of us. If you're 25 and still bounding out of bed on Christmas day to flick the TV on in the morning to scan for worthy cartoons, it's time to ditch the ninja turtle PJ's.
Christmas simply isn't congruous with Singaporean culture - or our sweltering climate, for that matter. If Santa did make it here in his ridiculously thick outfit and generous beard, he'd suffer a heat stroke. But first his reindeer convoy would get detained by the traffic police and it would take him 2 years for the traffic police to grant him a license to drive his quaint but admittedly green vehicle.
If my generation couldn't believe that Santa would squeeze down the rubbish chute in HDB flats, today's Gen Y certainly won't be distracted from their hyper-electronic lifestyles.
Filling out greeting cards en masse with pretty/witty but generally meaningless Christmas phrases became an impersonal, time-consuming chore years ago. Hence receiving cards from me is now a privilege reserved for close friends (though for others, it's simply another tool in their account servicing strategy).
Of course, my homemade cards were a hit with my fans this year, if I do say so myself.
There was no Christmas tree at home this year, instead palpable grumpy boredom and flashes of irritation.
How did I spend Christmas day? T'was an evening, not with family but with close friends, complete with BBQ foods & Christmas spirits that flowed late into the night.
Monday, December 20, 2004
But there's the occasional free breakfast! :)
*cue cheesy Hokkien song playing in background with female singer talking love-talk during the song-bridge*
As I plonked down at Bukit Merah Central hawker center this morning to quietly tuck into my bowl of hot tau huey, a hawker auntie appeared and enthusiastically but politely pushed me an innocuous packet of food in a pale blue plastic bag.
"This fried beehoon is for you - free of charge."
"Our new stall just opened," she explained in typical S'porean auntie chinese upon seeing the surprised look on my face. "Please come back & buy more if you like."
I could only stammer & smile. "Ok, thanks!"
Behind her, I spied her stall of local breakfast favourites - its bright lights & brand new banner conspicuous in the morning laziness. Most stalls were still closed.
The greasy smell of busy frying was in the air, interjected by bright clanging from the wok from within the stall.
Right in front of the stall was a table with several plastic bags of freshly fried beehoon laid out on it.
The auntie diverted her attention to other passer-bys while I focused on finishing my tau huey.
"Xiao jie, harlow! Xiao jie..."
Everyone else was just as surprised as I was and some visibly shied away from her as if she were hawking insurance or snake medicine.
Some courteously accepted but a few maintained their wariness & rejected the free breakfast even after she explained her intentions.
How odd, I thought to myself. I had believed almost any Singaporean would clamour for a free lunch. While some genuinely don't like fried beehoon, I guess most really don't believe in a such a thing as a free lunch.
In the end, my morning schedule at work only permitted me 2 bites of cold, clumpy beehoon & the rest was thrown away.
At least the sambal chilli was good.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Life consists of a series of choices and then living by the consequences of those choices.
One thing G made me realize is that we all do have a choice, in every single thing that we do.
How we spend our time, our money, our brainpower, our emotions etc.
How we define happiness, how we love people around us, how we choose our friends etc.
Valuing work-life balance over a high-paying job is a choice.
Valuing your family's financial security over personal ambition is a choice.
Yet it's so easy to say, I've got no choice.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
And yet again, Ed plods along in his lifelong journey of discovery of self and the world around.
Alright, no referring to self in 3rd person perspective.
Yesterday at the swimming pool, I saw this boy - what, 7yo? - swimming alongside me. As I passed him by, he pulled himself through a few strokes of breast stroke.
What an curious sight, I thought to myself. So young, yet swimming rather elegantly.
Of course, he was too small to move fast enough; it must have taken him 50 strokes to swim 1 lap. Yet he was undaunted by the full length of the pool. Instead, persistence saw him through to the other murky end of the pool.
This morning I learnt yet another lesson in workplace smarts. A story for another time, but I've really got to learn to appear less raw & needy for guidance.
And it's the end of yet another lunchtime blog.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
The woods around it have it - it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.
And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
From "A Further Range", 1936
Friday, December 10, 2004
TGIF, but not because work's stressful (not tt work isn't stressful either). But we all love a weekend, 2 days of... whatever we do on weekends (duh).
Like most working people, I now live life by the weekends. Yes, it's a consequence of giving my precious time to my employer in exchange for remuneration.
Just blabbing here. Have a good weekend, y'all!
*funky hip hop move with peace sign & jingly bling-bling*
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Now the lower half of my body is weak and sore (but no abrasions in embarassing places). All in all, I'm happy and at peace :)
It's the 2nd time I'm taking part in the Singapore Marathon. This year's turnout is terrifically high, with about 20,000 participants. So didn't stay to cheer and clap for the winning marathoners.
Once a rather physically prosperous acquaintance remarked to me, you're so skinny, why do you need to run?
I simply smiled and said, I love to run.
Yes, I love the rush of wind in my face, the exhilaration of pushing my body to its limits - cramps, stitches and all. And the sudden, liberating spurts in tapping a wellspring of energy from within.
An ever-springing joy, a challenge both physical and mental, a revelation of body, heart and mind... Running is all that to me.
And I've to admit, the feeling of overtaking slower runners is quite an ego-booster :)
I love to run. And I hope you do too.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Had my farewell lunch, did my "lap of honour". Next, the goodbye email of positivity & appreciation - understandably brief becoz of my short 4mth stint here.
It's definitely been a good 4mths of learning about the job, on the job, about working & working with people, & most importantly, about myself. I entered full of hope and enthusiasm, and I am still leaving full of hope and enthusiam.
Though I hardly feel attached to this office, it is with genuine sadness that I leave this place. In moving on, a sense of loss generally ensues. Not to get too sentimental, but I'll miss friends and potential-friends that I've made here.
Sigh... moving on...
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Ultimately what's important is we all get home at the end of the day.
A tad cheesy, but I think it's apt.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
At the SOUA, I met my secondary school principal, who has retained the spark in his eyes and an impressive eloquence, despite aging - the accompanying signs very much apparent.
For those in the know, I'm referring to Prof. Lawrence Chia whose namecard displays an intimidating list of acronyms (half unknown to me) trumpeting his life's achievements. But for all that, he was very much affable and took time to ask about me.
Interestingly, he mentioned an AC Psyche - one that is distinctively driven and willing to take on challenges. I'm tempted to declare "that's me!" but will let my future namecards do the talking.
It's amazing how one's formative years are so absolutely important - the friends you make, the people you meet, the things you do, for that matter, the things you didn't do! A personality is being moulded and a life is really being charted out.
Yet as my colleague lamented about her youthful idleness, "I regret not planning my future while I was younger".
To this, I replied that it's about nature and nurture - one's nature and how one is nurtured. But we are all free to create our destiny - nope, not a winning Anthony-Robbins' catch-phrase, but a truth that carries hope.
Alright, too many motivational words there, though it is the truth. But as Jack Nicholson agitatedly reminds us, "you can't handle the truth!"
This morning, I attended NUS' State of the University Address (SOUA) by NUS President, Prof. Shih. He had very aptly made a metaphorical reference to the challenge of establishing base camps and scaling Mt. Everest.
I'm no orator/toast-master but I think his address served its purpose - one of stock-taking & vision-sharing.
And it was thought-provoking in many ways. I wondered why Prof. Shih was so energetic & full of optimism... while juxtaposed against a bureaucracy. But I must admit that this kind of energy is often infectious and compelling - even if one doesn't agree with the given task.
I wondered why organizations need an annual CEO address. And most importantly, I believe, he outlined NUS' collective challenge & how that translated into individual challenges. He painted a vision of scaling greater heights amidst increasingly difficult conditions.
For "without a vision, the people perish".
Monday, November 22, 2004
You can't walk in them; they wear you out. I've seen how G suffers in them. And most seriously, they can cause spinal problems over the long term.
If that's not enough, here's an incident that happened today:
Together with several thousand other cubicle drones, this individual - muar - was milling down the staircase at Clementi MRT. In front of me, this lady in HEELS tripped and also rolled down the stairs.
Tell me again why women's gotta wear high heels...
Sunday, November 21, 2004
I loved the 1st 2 installments :)
But 3 was just inane.
Seeing Austin Powers 2 on TV brings back fond memories. Mainly of NS (coz that's when it was screened in SG).
Of course, this is just 1 stupid movie. I'm sure there're lots of other shows that wouldn't capture our attention now as they did many years ago.
Remember Smurfs? Carebears? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
I was watching re-runs of Wonder Woman on TV a while ago. It's quite amusing to spot how they tried to create the illusion of Wonder Woman being super-humanly strong.
It's amazing how much I used to spend on TV, esp. waiting for the late night Top 20 Mandarin MTV's to come on.
Sigh, the shows I used to love...
Well, first of all, why do guys hate wearing pink - that is, if they hate it in the first place? What does it mean when a guy dresses in pink? What if it's pastel pink? Or hot pink?? And does it really take absolute confidence?
This is really more than a sartorial issue.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Science Canteen: sliced fish mee sua (great for cold days), yong tau hoo, claypot dishes (beef & tau hoo), ban mian, malay food (rendang is sedap!), chinese food (freshly cooked & high turnover), indian food, Spinelli's coffee, milk tea with less sugar from drinks stall, and fresh waffles from Dilly's
Bizad Canteen: western food (esp. chicken chop), indian food (naan!), dumplings (only available on thu, beware garlic breath), tau huey & blueberry milkshake from dessert & fruits stall, and freshly brewed coffee, fresh sandwiches & piping hot delifrance pastries from toscano's
Engine Canteen: indian food (best indian food on campus)... erm, that's all i've tried and like :)
Arts Canteen: Jap food!
Engine viet cafe ("Trung-something-something"): fresh drip coffee! otherwise food sucks...
NB foods at Fratello's & NUS staff club are not bad, but generally quite pricey.
For al fresco dining on a cool day, Gecko's nice. Food is ok, drinks are cool.
Gee, I'm really gonna miss NUS... Funny that I'm feeling this so long after graduation.
Love the big trees & lush green patches...
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish would be heard
and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
All of us under its spell. We know that it's probably magic.
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
So, moving on, I am.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Peter, Paul & Mary
All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go
I’m standing here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’, it’s early morn
The taxi’s waiting, he’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome I could cry.
So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go.
I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
I don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go.
There’s so many times I’ve let you down
So many times I’ve played around
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing
Every place I go, I think of you
Every song I sing, I sing for you
When I come back, I’ll wear your wedding ring.
Now the time has come to leave you
One more time let me kiss you
Then close your eyes, I’ll be on my way.
Dream about the days to come
When I won’t have to leave alone
About the times, I won’t have to say,
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
A baby caught my attention on the train today...
Those eyes so big & bright,
You wonder what innocence is thinking.
Those cheeks so chubby & full,
Wistfully beckoning for attention.
Those hands so small & pudgy,
Flailing about in wonder.
Those feet all warm & protected,
A path waits to be trodden.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Saturday Morning@Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
5 eager yuppies-to-be filed excitedly through customs and headed straight for DFS. (only 5 becoz Mr. Tian came later)
How much more hard-up can we get huh?
dW bought a box of smelly cigars (which we had to help smuggle back to S'pore becoz he couldn't finish them).
Saturday Noon@Bintan Ferry Terminal
More queueing and waiting. Ray entertains thoughts of us flying through customs while pretending to be a Taiwanese boyband. He forgets how unglam he looks with NTUC plastic bags of bottled drinks & cheap snacks.
Murphy's law prevails; we're the last to clear customs, even though our queue was the shortest. Perhaps we should have prepared bribes.
Saturday Afternoon@Mayang Sari
Checked in! Had our complimentary drink of ultra-sweet syrup/water concoction.
The beach looks wonderful...
Saturday Afternoon@Indra Maya Villa
Ferried via buggy to our villa, complete with private pool, floating coke tray, open bath & our own buggy!
Oh, joy & serenity!
Indulgence task no. 1: Book ourselves for spa treatment!
Indulgence task no. 2: Slather on sunblock, test the pool & simply laze in the sun!
Thankfully weather was bright & sunny all throughout. Absolutely no gloom & doom to dampen our fun.
I've been named Raoul the man-slave, coz I look like a latino hottie serving-boy in speedos :)
Saturday Mid Afternoon@Nirwana Gardens Resort Hotel
So easy to lose track of time. Had satisfying lunch of nasi & rendang & stuff. Real spicy...
Off to the beach! More soaking... while Ray & Val relived band camp by singing familiar tunes.
dW compliments Ray for his salamander hair.
Saturday Late Afternoon@Nirwana Gardens Resort Hotel
To the free form pool! More soaking...
Discovered the pool bar. For a truly authentic beach holiday, Pina Colada's a must, says Val. She even had a malibu-scented perfume.
Off to the open jacuzzi! More soaking...
Oops, time to fetch Mr. Tian.
Saturday Late Afternoon en route to Villa
Headed back to our villa. Detoured to take pictures.
Seriously now, it's back to our villa. It's confirmed: Ray's a dangerous driver - he can make a buggy do a wheelie!!
*Ed bails out*
Indulgence task no. 3: Communal bubble bath! T'was Ray's stupid but admittedly fun idea. First water was too hot, then it got murky & tepid... It's amazing what 25yo's (& 1 23yo) do to entertain themselves.
Saturday Evening@Thai Restaurant along beach
Indulgence task no. 4: Thai dinner! All had the dinner gastronomique or something, a sumptuous course of exquisite Thai food, including a platter of Thai favourites - green curry & seafood! Mr. Tian & his taste buds kept hogging the conversation.
Stars look wonderful, but it's rude to be craning your neck towards the heaven all the time during dinner.
Saturday Late Night@Villa
It's Cranium! Lots of laughs & physical action to yank us out of post-dinner drowsiness. Too bad our award-winning actress, G had to mug.
Then, just when I was all tight & snug in bed, the boys tapped on my window & beckoned.
The stars... wow... full of awe... Shooting star!! Heh... Ouch, neckache.
Ok, finally to sleep...
What?! 9am & I'm up! Body clock too well-tuned... but apparently so is everyone else's. Perhaps it's too great a holiday to while away in bed.
While Mr. Tian slathers on tinted sunblock, I try to wake the sleepyheads next door. Val tells me to go away. Hmph.
Sunday Morning@Mayang Sari
Raoul gets 1 free coconut with his hot latino looks. Heh.
Buffet breakfast!! Another big, heavy meal! Scrambled eggs seems to be quite popular. Mmmm... I love white bread.
After breakfast, it's off to bake on the beach. Too bloated to move... feel unglam in trunks.
Sunday Mid-morning@Mayang Sari Beach
I spy an old man trying to body-surf! After the customary Singaporean photo shoot, off we go to hit the waves!
Absolute exhilaration!! Never had so much fun riding the surf before! Who cares if seawater keeps entering my nostrils?! Time comes to standstill.
After an hour, we're totally spent...
Partying in private pool! Complete with hits to boogie to! Lunch is junk food & white wine. Mmmmmm......
Shucks, it's time to check out. Byebye, villa! *wistful look*
One final round of photos.
Sunday Afternoon@Asmara Tropical Spa
Val's a good haggler. She MFA one ah, dun pray pray!
Spent an hour under the skillful hands of a masseuse. My first massage ever, was wincing a lot though. But it was good... feel like a totally elastic slab of meat afterwards.
Time passes ever so slowly... *contented sigh*
Sunday Evening@Mayang Sari Restaurant
The holiday's almost over... Everyone's too tired to talk during dinner.
Sunday Evening@Bintan Ferry Terminal
Long queue... oh well.
Spend the ferry ride discussing Singaporean Chinese social idiosyncrasies & how they manifest in conversations and mutal interactions. Hmmm...
Sunday Evening@Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
Ray & Mr. Tian head to Balestier for Boon Kee chicken rice.
It's home sweet home & home-cooked food for me!