Thursday, December 30, 2004

Eve of NYE



Mood liao.

Over the air: Aguas de Marco by Jobim

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting... Hoo!! Hah!!


Kung Fu Fighting
Carl Douglas

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down
It's an ancient Chineese art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and kicking from the hip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

There was funky Billy Chin and little Sammy Chung
He said here comes the big boss, lets get it on
We took a bow and made a stand, started swinging with the hand
The sudden motion made me skip now we're into a brand knew trip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they did it with expert timing

(repeat)..make sure you have expert timing
Kung-fu fighting, had to be fast as lightning


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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sunday, December 26, 2004

A New Year Beckons: What Do You Want?

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.

Revelling in the Christmas Spirit



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.

*snort*

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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dying with Grace


Monday, December 20, 2004

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?



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

I Got No Choice

How often have you heard someone justify his action by saying that he or she has got no choice?

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.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Saturday In & Out & In & Out...



Just attended a wedding service today. The couple's marriage has been long expected - after all, they'd been dating since '96 and survived the most arduous period when the groom spent 4 years studying abroad.

Even so, during the solemnization ceremony, I was genuinely moved by the sight of them holding each other's hands and also by the weight of their wedding vows.

I'm beginning to truly realize - beyond simply being informed - that marriage is a lifetime of commitment to one another and it takes deep love for a relationship to mature and mellow well over time.

I don't wonder when I will get married. But I wonder what it would entail - what would compel me to propose to someone to cross the line into this lifelong agreement.

Once while talking to a recently married friend, I made a reference to her husband as her boyfriend but she didn't realize my mistake till I corrected myself a minute later. Hmmm...

I wonder what it feels to be married.

I wonder if I'll ever find that someone.



Every time I watch Six Feet Under, it leaves me feeling thoughtful and temporarily sad.

It makes me wonder if the majority of humankind is perpetually meshed in a series of unhappy states.

The funny thing that I've realized about the show is that the binary notion of happy/sad doesn't exist - or for that matter, a spectrum of v. happy to v. sad. Man simply is.

When Claire audibly breaks into tears at her mother's 2nd wedding, it seems that she's overcome with joy. But as she begins to bawl, the viewer is left wondering if her emotional floodgates had simply been triggered.

Are you happy?



Eggshell skull: a fragile person who is incredibly affected by the pettiest and most trivial of events or circumstances.

I know of someone who is one.

He's petty and relatively poor. He's lonely and self-centered. He's emotionally needy yet socially outcast. This most unfortunate combination only leads to constant unhappiness.

I wish I could help him but being a true listener is so tiring.

Well, if you think I'm talking about you, then at least my blog's making an impression.

But I'm most probably not.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ed Dives In

TGIT, 1 day before friday :)

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

It's My Life... Stories...

Nope, not a Dick Lee fan.

It's interesting to hear of the life experiences of others around me - me being a 25yo S'porean Male with few stories of death-defying acts to boast about.

Can't elaborate much during lunch time...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Desert Places

Robert Frost

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

Botero @ SAM

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Saturday Out

Friday, December 10, 2004

TGIF

Day 5 of work in Mindef (yes, tt's muar new workplace in case you don't know).

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*

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Brave New World

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Of Money & Matchmaking

It's amazing how chummy colleagues of similar age & backgrounds can get. To the extent where money matters & joining matchmaking services are freely joked about.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pounding the Asphalt before Dawn

Ran a half-marathon (that's 21.5km) for the first time in my life. T'was a great run!

(ok, I confess, I walked almost the entire 3 hours of the one Army Half Marathon but that was only a defiant show of active lackadaisicalness)

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 :)

Until the chauvinist in me chokes helplessly in disbelief in the dust kicked up in the wake of an overtaking female.

I love to run. And I hope you do too.