Friday, March 31, 2006

“Premiere – Lost (Season 2) – beware: might be a SPOILER.”

As I wrote previously, I watched enough of the Season 1 of Lost to know that there are always flashbacks in each of the episodes. I guess the purpose is for the audience to get to know more about the characters before they’re stranded. Something about character developments that I find well placed while tensions escalate in the island.

Season 2 starts with a guy inside a what seems like a typical room in a typical house exercising. He is pedalling a stationary bicycle, pulling up and doing some sit-up. His face is not shown. Some soothing music at the background. So I thought this must be one of those flashbacks. Till some alarms are sounded and the guy abruptly takes his riffle and seems to check through a periscope.

(Then the camera leaves this mystery guy…away…away…does some turns here and there…up…and ends at the manhole of THE HATCH!)

Is he living inside the hatch? He is living inside the hatch!

Above the ground, Jack decides that it’s impossible to lower down the rest of the people (43 of them?) into the hatch. Oh yes, it also explains why they want to open the hatch at the first place. The French woman who has been in the island way before them warns that the Others (you really can hear the capital O is used when she says the Others) are coming. She warns them to run away, hide or be killed.

That is when Locke tells his finding of the hatch to Jack which leads to the four of them (+Kate & Hugo) go & retrieve dynamites to open the manhole.

Jack remarks that it’s going to take time to lower all 43 of them into the hatch. They leave the hatch. The word of “quarantine” inside the cover of the hatch rather worries them too.

Jack asks Hugo why the latter shouts to prevent Locke to light the fuse. At that time, the mystery of the numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42) is explained (or perhaps repeated? If Season 1 already covers this, I didn’t watch it). About how this series of number brings fortune to Hugo (winning millions of dollars in lottery) but later brings bad luck to him.

They go back to the cave where the rest of the people wait for them.



Meanwhile, Shannon loses the dog (left to her care by Walt) and leaves the cave to look for it. Sayid goes after her, warning her it’s not safe to be alone by herself.

Shannon sees the dog. Runs after it. Falls and sees Walt all wet. He gestures to Shannon to keep quiet.

She is stunned because Walt is supposed to be in the raft (and the people in the island does not know yet that the raft is intercepted & destroyed by the mysterious people—are they the Others?—of the boat).

Then Sayid finds Shannon. She turns back and lo, Walt vanishes.


Back to the ‘camp’, Jack tells the finding to the rest. He explains that it’s not feasible for them to seek shelter (from the Others) inside the hatch. Some flashback about Jack who’s advised by his father—both are doctors—about how Jack ought to give hope to a patient. Even if it’s a false hope. In that flashback, while being watched by his father, Jack earlier tells point-blank the severity of the damage that his patient suffers.

Jack may then recall about it. About giving a false hope and try to assure the rest that “everything is going to be alright” and they just need to stick together in the cave. Wait for 3 more hours for the sun to rise. And everything is going to be alright.

Locke leaves the cave. Admitting that Jack might be alright that it will be safe to wait in the cave. But he’s just tired of waiting and he’s going into the cave. Alone.

Some conversation between Jack and Kate and Jack lets Kate to follow Locke.


In the open sea, Sawyer saves Michael from drowning. They are stranded in the remaining of the raft. The ingratitude Michael just continues shouting for his son and some flashback is played to give justification on his apparent protectiveness. Suffice to say that he’s separated from his son when the latter is just a toddler because the mother chooses to leave the country to marry/live with the other guy.

Sawyer and Michael starts arguing. Michael blames Sawyer for making him fire the flare that brings the boat to find their raft. Sawyer in turn blames Michael for bringing Walt with them in the raft because the boat is out there looking for his kid at the first place.

Sawyer is forced by Michael to swim to the other remaining raft. You just have to pity him. With his right shoulder wounded by a bullet, he swims and later, by himself takes the bullet out.

I like Sawyer’s transformation from a mere jerk (at least that’s how he is in Season 1. In those shows that I watched) to a heroic…jerk. He cares for the missing Jin and shouts for him. Okay, still a jerk I guess because when Michael tells him to stop as Jin is surely gone, Sawyer sarcastically retorts about how it is okay for Michael to shout for his son and not okay for Sawyer to shout for Jin?!


Back to the hatch, Kate is lowered down into the hatch by Locke. Her lamplight falls. She goes deeper to retrieve it. Some screaming of Stop! and a blinding light from inside the hatch beams up which surprises Locke. The cable is cut. Kate is missing. Locke is unsure what to do.


Back to the cave, Jack leaves to check how Locke and Kate are doing. Some flashback about Jack walking up and down in a stadium. There is another guy who is also running. Jack slips and that other guy helps him. They introduce themselves. The other guy's name is Desmond and Jack tells him about his frustration of not being able to fulfil his promise to the patient and Desmond talks about believing in miracles.

Jack goes back to the hospital. He’s waiting by the side of the patient. The lady wakes and Jack tearfully tells her how sorry he is that he couldn’t fix her. She’s going to be paralyzed from her waist down. But the lady moves her toes and they’re both laughing in joy as apparently the surgery is not a failure. Or a miracle just happens.

Back to the hatch, Jack reaches the place. Nobody is there. Not even Locke. He goes down. He walks. Some graffiti on the wall. A surveillance camera installed on the wall moves. He peers into it. A sudden loud music is played.

He takes his gun and reaches a place whereby there is a table and a computer switched On. It’s not using DOS for sure because the prompt is like this “>:”. He moves as if he wants to investigate the computer.

Lockes suddenly appears. He warns Jack not to touch the computer.

Another voice behind Locke tells Jack to drop his gun. He has his riffle pointed to Locke’s head. Something about how the voice addresses Jack and his use of “brother” brings a flicker of recognition to Jack.

“It is…you?” Jack asked him (the audience gasped. Is the mystery guy Desmond? The same person whom Jack encounters in the stadium who talks about believing in miracles to him?)


Then a slight confusion which I eventually understood.

It is sort of flashback to Locke when he realizes that Kate is missing. He goes down into the hatch and further inside the room, he finds Kate gaining her conscious. The mystery guy--with his riffle--pops up and asks Locke, “Are you him?” Two or three times. Locke just smiles and says that he’s him. Whoever ‘him’ means. Another puzzle.

The mystery guy decides that Locke is not ‘him’ and tells Kate to bind Locke. Locke manoeuvres out of it by telling the guy that Kate should be the one who is bound because she’s dangerous. She is a fugitive! Kate protests. Locke binds her and slips a knife into her pocket.

They leave her inside a room. A brief struggle against her bind with the knife and she’s free. Kate finds a light switch and notices that the room is a warehouse. With plenty symbols that I seriously find kinda similar with a yin-yang logo. She decides that she can leave the room from the ventilation duct on top of her. She takes a box to step on it to reach the ventillation. Some bars of chocolate are inside the box and which what I find amusing, she eats the chocolate. Seems very much enjoying it (a blessing amidst troubles, eh, Kate?) and takes a few of the bars filling her pockets and continues with her escape mission.

She crawls into the ventilation duct.


Back to Locke and the mystery guy. The latter asks Locke about how many of them are out there and whether any of them are already sick. The puzzle about the “quarantine” writing is almost solved? Locke seems to ponder about it as well.

He finds out that the mystery guy’s name is Desmond (the audience went “See, he is the same Desmond which Jack encounters in the stadium!”)

The alarm sounds. Intermittently. Desmond forces Locke to key in some numbers into the computers. Yes, you guess it right. The numbers are the same “4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42” and once Locke presses “Execute” the alarm stops. Why the alarm sounds? Why those numbers must be keyed in? More puzzles.

Another warning signal, an Intruder Alert? And Desmond peers into a periscope seeing Jack peering into the other side of the surveillance camera although he seems not to recognize Jack because of his different hairstyle since their first encounter.

Desmond panics, seeing the gun hold by Jack. He starts that loud music.

Back to Kate, she’s still in the ventilation path above the room, which has the computer in it. She sees Jack but her shout is muffled by the loud music. She can’t warn Jack about the mystery gun with the riffle is nearby.

She can only witness when Jack comes face to face to the mystery guy who has his riffle behind Locke threatening to shoot unless Jack drops his gun.

And it’s back, repeated to the previous part when Jack asks him, “It is… you?”


Back to the sea, the remaining part of the raft where Sawyer rests goes apart. He swims to Michael’s remaining part of the raft and together they come across a more solid part of the raft and as Sawyer swims to that, Michael saves him by shooting at the shark that tails Sawyer.

Understanding begins to develop between them and Sawyer has enough grace not to say anything when Michael weakly admits that it is his mistake for bringing Walt with them in the raft.

Morning comes and they realize that the draft brings them closer to the island. They reach the shore and Jin is seen with his hand bound behind his back, wounded at his temple, running to them and warns them in a very rapid Korean language.

And he eventually mutters his first English words in the Season 2: “Others…the Others”. The cue for some people to appear. They look fierce. Wielding clubs, they approach the exhausted Michael, the wounded Sawyer and the already-captured-but-escaped Jin.

To be continued...to the episode 2.

PS. Anybody could tell me the song titles? The first one when the mystery man exercises? And the later part when Jack goes into the hatch?

Prelude to “Premiere – Lost (Season 2) – beware: might be a SPOILER.”

It was aired yesterday, a two-hour special opening for the new season. Lost.

I didn’t watch all the episodes of Season 1. But I watched enough to know there are plenty puzzles introduced earlier. And even some of the answers. Like, the small toy plane that Kate seems to treasure very much. That puzzle was introduced in Season 1 and so was the answer. And I watched it.

I saw only the later part of the final episode of Season 1. When Jin, Sawyer, Michael and his son, Walt left the island with a raft and encountered a boat whose people demand to take Walt with them. I like the distressed way of Michael resisting them, “I ain’t gonna give you nobody!” Or something like that. Heh.

Sawyer reaches his gun. The other passenger of the boat shoots him first. He falls into the water. Jin jumps to help him. Michael is pushed into the water when the boat passengers kidnaps the kid. A bomb is thrown to the raft. Boom!

Meanwhile in the island, Jack, Locke, Kate and Hugo tries to open the hatch with dynamites. Hugo gets panic seeing the numbers (? Okay, I didn’t watch Season 1 enough to understand why he’s get excited with the numbers. Although it’s sort of explained in the premiere of Season 2) and shouts to Locke not to fire the explosive. Locke looks at him and fire away. Boom!

The hatch is opened. Jack, Locke and Kate peers into it. (The camera slowly zooms out away from them from inside the hatch giving an impression how deep the hatch it.) Season 1 ends.

Plenty questions: Why it is Walt who they want? What’s inside the hatch?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Magic (of) the (one who’s late for) Gathering

Sorry. Couldn’t think of another title. Not that I’m playing the card game: Magic the Gathering. Ole’wolvie would be the right person to approach about the game.

This article is about one of those few magics that still thrives in the present.

The spell would be more aptly named as “imposing-your-importance-by-making-others-wait”. And it’s not limited to just for a gathering, it's often used for a meeting, an appointment or any other arrangement that requires two or more people to meet in a designated place in a designated time.

Certain people have a knack of casting this spell.

Some are able to recognize the spell, but couldn’t do anything about it. You know, the usual frustrating stuff that losers say about how they ought to tolerate others (who can’t even respect them by coming late?) and the use of the much abused term of friendship.

For me, I am proud to say that I don't give a damn about the spell.

Yes, I can detect it. Yes, I hate the spell. But I don’t resent the people who cast it to me; they might genuinely not aware that they are casting the spell. Ignorance...isn't it sweet? I just refuse to let the spell works. I refuse to give the satisfaction to the person who cast it, to let him/her know that he/she is one bloody important person that I'm willing to wait for.

Contrary of what people may believe, magic doesn’t work because the one who casts it is of the high level of wizards, witches etc. Magic needs those flickers of acceptance lying in the nearby people’s mind before the intended effect of the spell could materialize.

For example: one might cast a fire ball. Fire ball. Fire ball. Come & destroy this wall...(Insert some foreign-sounding gibberish here) But that fire ball won’t happen if the curious audience who witness the act have a very strong belief that this is just a crazy person threatening a wall with some fire balls and some foreign-sounding gibberish. The curious audience cannot accept that fire balls could be that easily created. Lo and behold! No fire ball. See, I told you so.

Disclaimer: I just make up the above two paragraphs for illustration purpose. Difficult to prove/disprove my hypothesis about how magic works, especially because I don’t believe it works. But of course, it works. Just like the spell of “imposing-your-importance-by-making-others-wait”. Many believe that it works. Many have the spell cast to them. Many cast that spell to others. Damnit, thus I have to fight it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trouble, but a rubble.

This topic is inspired by Jadeite. Yes, I’ve been reading her blog regularly these days. Learn a lot about how a brief article could be very rich with content (or comments). Brevity over loquacity, eh?

Anyway, there was this other inimitably short article of hers about “trouble”. A vague article which might have best been ignored without any comment. Yeah, yeah…you guess it right again. ^_^" I posted a comment on that article. I posted about how she should have fun & enjoy the experience.

Now why should I say that?

Not to mean to be defensive. Nor to argue why one should not be negative about ‘trouble’. I mean, c’mon…it’s so easy to feel positive when one thinks that he has no trouble.

Exactly. So treat this article as a message for my future self who could have been mercilessly battered by troubles. Read. This. Article.

"Temper gets you into trouble. Pride keeps you there." That’s an Anonymous saying. (Way to go for being creative if what you do is just changing the sequence. Heh. Remember this one? – where it’s ended with an Anonymous quote).

With this kind of thinking, no wonder people view troubles negatively.

Now let’s look at this one by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 - 1881), a Russian novelist: "Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it."

Not exactly giving a positive spin about troubles. It's kinda neutral. About how if one does bother to tabulate his joys versus troubles, he'll come to realize that they are in balance.

And then there was this: "There are people who are always anticipating trouble, and in this way they manage to enjoy many sorrows that never really happen to them." By Josh Billings (1818 - 1885), a US Humorist.

At last, troubles seen favourably. (True, but somehow I disagree. It’s like a mother who tells her kids to finish their dinner and not to waste them because there are plenty children starving out there. How would that make her kids regain their appetite?)

“...to enjoy many sorrows that never really happen” could simply mean to persevere with your current troubles as they could always be worse and be appreciative that they are not.

The Prentice Trump

The Apprentice is one of those reality tv shows that I wish is aired earlier than 10 p.m. on Sundays. I have not kept track of the show. Used to watch without fail its first season. Nowadays, it’s either I sleep early as I would tend to fill my Saturday night with a trip to the realm of long lost passion of books or I have some other books to read that Sunday night.

Talking about the show, I feel the main attraction is not about Donald Trump. Of course, the remorseless way of him saying “You’re fired.” in the end of each episode is without comparison. He just can deliver it firmly. No emotion. Not even a trace of exclamation mark in the end of the sentence.

However I think what appeals me most—or shall I say “who”—are Trump’s associates: George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher. They are what Trump says as his eyes and ears.

No, they do not merely become a spy for him.

They observe. They listen. They analyze.
And they do it fairly.

I just like it the way Trump respectfully ask their opinions and like it even better knowing that in the end, it’s Trump who makes the decision.

People might not like him. For whatever reasons: mostly because he's filthy rich...and we're not? Heh. Still one has to admit that Trump is a good leader as he has successfully recruited and retained people like Ross and Kepcher.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A “Colourful” City / A Week of Books / A Destination Not Found

Read Frank Miller’s Sin City: Hell and Back. The detail is here. Might contain a spoiler, too. Beware.

Like the rest of Sin City graphic novels, the art is in black and white. In Hell and Back, however, there are a few pages in full colours: the part where the main character, Wallace is hallucinating.

Interesting to note too that two of the lady characters, the antagonist ones with the killers’ body—they are indeed killers—were drawn in a dress not coloured in black and white. (It’s still a single color like blue and orange for each of them. Not exactly full colours. Noted how the same effect had previously been used in the movie, Schindler’s List. Recall that the only colour in that show is that of the red coat worn by a girl who appeared only twice? The first one when she was alive. Second when she was laid dead with the rest of Jews. Didn’t grasp the significance of this one – although Wikipedia does offer one that admittedly makes sense. Click here)

Back to Sin City, I guess the artist’ intention for having the dress coloured other than in black and white is to convey how the killers’ beauty is dazzling & disorienting, i.e. same effects when one is having hallucination.



Count my blessings for last week (I’ve got to make this a habit. ^_^"). I came across “Stardust” and “Anansi Boys” side by side (both are written by Neil Gaiman). Managed to complete reading the former continuously throughout my Saturday night. A fresh change after reading the grim Sin City. Like the simple & classic happy ending of "Stardust"...just like the rest of Faery Tales but with a touch of modernism. Check the part when the star falls and the "grumbling" that follows. Hilarious.

Succeed to borrow in one single occasion: “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller and “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. Now the challenge is to savour them with the same level of momentum like how I did for “Stardust”. Unlikely. Still going to try, though, with Catch-22, Anansi Boys, followed by The Kite Runner.



And the week was ended with a summarized show about Lost, titled Destination Lost. Catch its Season 2 this coming Thursday, 30 March…a two-hour special in Channel 5. Amusing, isn't it when one is positively biased about the show, it's so easy to forgive the fact how the characters in the Lost poster (in that Channel 5 link) appear so damn-they-look-great-unlike-those-in-Survivors-reality-show.



PS: the links for Catch-22, Anansi Boys, and The Kite Runner would be posted after I finished reading them books.

No day but today

That’s the tagline for the movie “Rent”. The poster of the show in the Friday newspaper captured my attention. It’s in black and white. I didn’t know what the show is all about. And the tagline of “No day but today” is hardly telling anything about the show (Remark: the tagline is shown above the movie title--however, not shown below in the poster).

As displayed in this site, the poster is originally printed in colours. Though, I still think it’s somewhat more appealing if it’s in black and white. Like this (edited for, yes, non commercial purpose):

Saturday, March 25, 2006

It’s a bird! It’s a plane!

It’s…Jatayu. Not Jayatu. With reference to one of my previous articles (Mentioned in here). Thanks to Sonic for pointing it out. Which in turn, compelled me to double check it.

The quest of checking out the name has led me to this site. The painting shown in that webpage, titled “The Death of Jatayu” rightly captures the violence--yet, without any blood spilled!--and how nonchalant Rawana is in killing the bird. It’s the episode in Ramayana where Rawana kidnaps Rama’s wife, Shinta and in the process slaughters Jatayu who tries to protect her. Although I wonder why Rawana is not depicted with his other 9 heads. He’s supposed to have 10 heads! But then, the painting might look kinda messy.

Anyway the above webpage also has the link to ‘Mahabharata’. I once was hooked with this story because of the artist, named Teguh Santosa. He drew the epic ‘Mahabharata’ and although the one that I read was printed in black and white, his drawing and sketches are just so neat & very detailed.

I didn’t read all his Mahabharata, though. I did read most of Ramayana. Or at least the exploits of Hanuman, the monkey hero & a son of the Wind God, who is one of central characters in Ramayana.

Thus my pleasant surprise when I managed to borrow Mahabharata from the local library (Sorry, that was way before I blogged. I didn’t jot down the title of the book) & discovered how Ramayana and Mahabharata relate.

In particular, the linkage (or “retcon”? heh) between Hanuman and Bima.

The latter is one of the five brothers (called Pandawa) who is a son of the Wind God (the other brothers are offsprings of other Gods. Long story.)

There was this little chapter in the book, where Bima undergoes some quest to a distant mountain by himself and encounters an old monkey who is resting on the path and thus blocking his way. Bima arrogantly tells the monkey to let him pass. As the son of the Wind God, Bima might have boasted about his “heightened strength”. I guess the monkey is pissed off (who won't?) and challenges Bima if he could move the monkey’s tail, the monkey would respect him properly.

You guess rightly. Bima fails to move the monkey’s tail.

And quickly as his arrogance turns into humility, Bima requests politely the monkey’s identity. And that’s when the monkey addresses him as a little brother as they have the same father, the Wind God.

Gosh, I just so love it to find out that the two epics share some sort of continuity. Never realized about it before! =) Never even tried to examine that possibility.

Note to self: One day, to hunt for Teguh Santosa’s complete artworks of Mahabharata. To find time to check whether he did Ramayana too.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Gotta catch 'em all.

Darn. The title sounds suspiciously like the Pokémon slogan. Heh. Right. ^_^'' Can't help but admire the ingenuity of Japanese animation. Create a TV series with adorable 155, 151 before being 'expanded' to 395 pocket monsters (More info here) with the potential of marketing them as merchandise: dolls, mugs, etc. Gotta buy 'em all, they would then urge you.

Anyway, enough digressing. This article is meant as a reminder for me to catch the following shows. These are the shows that I'm interested & should be able to see:


Location: The Goethe Institut (GI) 163 Penang Road #05-01 Winsland House II. Nearest MRT Station: Somerset

Friday, 7 April 9.00 pm
-Coffee and Milk
-Lonely Planet
-She3

Saturday, 8 April 9.00pm
-The Fish
-One Shot
-Replay Revenge

Location: Prince 2 (P2) 100 Beach Road #06-00 Shaw Tower
Nearest MRT Station: Bugis/City Hall

Saturday, 22 April 4.15pm
-It’s Only Talk

Sunday, 23 April 4.15pm
-GIE

Location: National Museum of Singapore (NM) Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road. Nearest MRT Station: Dhoby Ghaut/City Hall

Thursday, 27 April 9.15pm
-Tori
-Sorano

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Not a trick to get to 200th posting earlier...

...I just had a problem to upload this image together with the previous article. ^_^""

It’s Only Talk and GIE

Finally, bought the tickets for these 2 shows! These are two out of 11 under the category of Silver Screen Awards - Asian features. =)

Quoted from the website, the summary of “It’s Only Talk”:

Three lovers – three different identities. Yuko is 35, single, unemployed, manic-depressive and divides her time between a variety of men - her university friend, a self-confessed pervert, a manic-depressive gangster, her cousin, who is separated from his wife and dumped by his lover. Ryuichi Hiroki explores the essence of “being alive” and “continuing to live” in this tragi-comedy.

Besides the repetitive usage of ‘manic-depressive’ which I find a rather failed attempt in parallelism, I nevertheless am interested about the intention of the show to examine the meaning of ‘being alive’ and ‘continuing to live’.

And the synopsis of "GIE":

Idealist, teacher, writer, rebel and a central yet unknown political activist in the 60s, the darkest era of Indonesian history – that is who Chinese-Indonesian Soe Hok-Gie is. Even as the people around him adjust to Suharto’s new regime, he continues to fight. His uncompromising idealism drives those close to him away – his friends and the woman he loves. Awarded the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam for its content and artistic value and winner of the Best Movie at the 2005 Indonesian Film.

Just to satisfy my curiousity about the phenomenon namely Chinese-Indonesian. Why they must be called that way? I mean Indonesia consists of so many tribes and we never heard the term Sundanese-Indonesian or Minangese-Indonesian. Of course the show has nothing to do with it. Still it's good to recognize that not all Chinese-Indonesians are known as good-in-business only. Many are patriotic about the country. Many feel that they are Indonesians.

The spirit is willing (to watch more shows during the Festival). The time is reluctant. Sigh. Thus only these 2 shows are booked…for the time being.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

And this will be “C”!

Reaching my 100th post. *sotto voce* Reaching my 100th post. Reaching my 100th post. Reaching…*groan* Stop experimenting with italics to emphasize your point, will ya?

It's not even my goal when I started this blog. Feels good, though. ;)

Ever realize the curious thing about goals? You just have to set them higher. Again and again. Having a fixed and rigid objective, like merely to reach 100th post, might make you feel empty once you achieve that. Might make you think, What's next? So set the goals higher. Let them tantalize you. Strive.

Another interesting thing about goals is that you will be more committed once you’ve written them down. I did that for the last year NaNoWriMo & I made it. No, of course it’s not necessary that you have to post it in your blog like how I did in my post (later part of Oct 2005). For example: you don’t have to declare that you plan to go backpacking to Thailand for 2 weeks before your 30th birthday. But perhaps you should, if by doing that you may get some advices, tips or even that “Lonely Planet” book about Bangkok. Heh.

By the way, talking about “Lonely Planet”, do you know that it's also the title of a 25-minute short film shown during the 19th Singapore International Film Festival in this coming April? There are a LOT of shows from many countries to be shown. Yes, Wolvie...there is even this "Asian Anime" section too. Check them out (the listings, the summaries and the schedule of screenings) here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Purple Dusk

Just negate the previous article's pictureTo follow up from this article. A simple 'negative' effect from that picture will result into the above image.

Right there waiting.

I was at Soekarno-Hatta Jakarta International Airport—-I like best its previous name of “Cengkareng”--yesterday morning. The flight was supposed to be leaving on 11.30 a.m. I was early. Way too early because I hate to be trapped in the traffic jam, that’s why I left my house on 5.00 a.m. It took about 45 minutes to reach the airport. Zero traffic jam.

I reached the airport, armed with my backpack, which was quite heavy with books inside. Yes, I was well prepared to wait in the airport.

I couldn’t go to check in. The counter was not opened yet. I chose a corner and started reading Joe Sacco’s comic journalism, “Palestine”. It was amusing and depressing at the same time. To my surprise, it did take time to finish the 285-page book.

It’s amusing to see how he took note of small things that many might have taken for a granted. One example is about how often he was offered tea by those Palestinians whom he interviewed.

The torture part is, needless to say, depressing and about how being sent into jails was like a routine for them. Sacco made an observation too about one of the Palestinians who looked ashamed admitting he’s never sentenced into such jails.

Sacco also presented the Israelis’ side of the story although that was not his initial goal. He happened to meet & became a tour guide for two Israeli’s ladies who in turn invited him to Tel Aviv.

One memorable part would be when one of the ladies recounted about how trying it had to be for the young Israelis soldiers with those heavy guns and constantly in dread of being thrown a stone to their faces by the Palestinians. Sigh. Surely given a choice, the Palestinians would prefer having a gun to wielding a stone as their weapon.


The check-in was quick. The request for the waive of the out-of-country tax was smoothly granted as well (just remember to have the photocopy of your passport; the page with your photo in it & the one with your Singapore address shown. This out-of-country tax is only applicable for Indonesian citizen, mind you. I believe it’s something uniquely Indonesian. Heh) .

I chose a strategic seat. Near the toilet and quite far from the smoking place (There were designated smoking places provided in the airport. Two types of them: 1) the glass room where up to four smokers can go inside and standing while they kill themselves with nicotine and 2) the couch where two can sit and have the smoke sucked by the Local Exhaust Ventilation positioned above them. Both proved effective as I didn’t smell the scent of death. Still, it’s unsettling to witness humans acting like a chimney. I’d rather not see it).

I sat nearby the stall selling CD & cassettes. Now, that’s a perfect place. Reading while catching up with some Indonesian songs. There was this particular one that made me grin. I recognized that the song was an old one being ‘modernized’ and was sung by a group of singers. Couldn’t recall the title. The mostly repeated lyric was “Marilah kemari” (or "Please come here"). The ‘modernized’ part must be was when one of the singers says something about “if you’re dating, don’t be just two of you. Because my grandmother says it can be dangerous”.

Other songs were quite catchy to the extent that the opposite stall, a small stall selling t-shirts, were now having a live performance of the two counter girls dancing. That was quite a sight. Of course there were no customers at the moment, but still they made people who passed by to smile to see their indifference to their surroundings and just moving their bodies & heads following the rhythm. It doesn’t take much to be happy, does it?

Despite this (sweet) distraction, ehm…I managed to concentrate & to finish reading “Palestine”. I stretched and took a walk.

A few observations:
1. They have “Esplanade Lounge” for those travelling in business class with SIA. Fortunately they have enough sense not to decorate the lounge with the durian-style of the Esplanade.

2. The Garuda statue (or is it Jayatu?) near the “Esplanade Lounge” is grand looking. Too bad I didn’t have my digital camera with me.

3. Tiger Beers are sold in the café, it costs the equivalent to S$6 to S$7. Only slightly more expensive than the local brand of Bir Bintang (or Star Beers) which is about S$5.

4. There is only one bookshop. It is small but with good collection. Especially the travelling section. There was this small “Lonely Planet” book series about Bangkok ($40) that I was interested to.

5. The Airport doesn’t have free Internet service like the one in Singapore does. However they have a cybercafé which charged the use of Internet as much as S$3 for 15 minutes. No, thank you.

There were still some time to kill and I only have the latest “Intisari”—it’s like “Reader’s Digest”—with me. Reading the same magazine was apparently a trigger for a middle-aged lady to open a conversation. But that would be another story. Maybe. A try on scriptwriting?

Friday, March 17, 2006

A flight delayed. A lunch paid.

So we were invited for a lunch at the Cafetaria. The old lady beside me didn't know what to order. Her husband told her rather loudly (not yelling, the poor wife might have some hearing problem) to just choose the most expensive meal since it's paid by the airline anyway.

And that meal was char siew rice at S$9.00. In what some may recognize as a herd mentality, most of the passengers ordered the same menu.

Have you GEMS-ed today?

I was trying to find some last-minute stuff at NTUC Fairprice at Changi Airport Terminal 1. You know, the one at the basement? So I was contemplating seriously whether to buy the raisin-enhanced bread (ok, I won't mention the brand as this blog begins to suspicously seem like a site to advertise all these merchandises. And bear in mind, I'm not even paid to do this. *grin*). The difficult choice was whether to buy that bread or the one with the banana flavour.

That was when this particular staff approached me and started explaining me in Chinese that there was this other raisin-enhanced bread which was cheaper & came with a free bundle of another plain bread.

He was talking so enthusiastically, I felt rather bad if I were to cut him in the midst of his sentence with the usual cold, curt & rehearsed reply of "Sorry, do I look Chinese to you?!"

Maybe I was in a good mood. So I just humored him. Nodded now and then. Before I finally agreed to purchase the alternative bread that he offered.

At the counter, I noticed this pink (yuck!) card with a white "Thank You for the great service" text--it's also in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, but in a lighter pink--in front. The card is part of the government program, namely GEMS (Go the Extra Mile for Service) and the intention is for you as a happy customer to give the card to the staff that you think have provided such a service.

I took that card. I wrote my name. And no, of course I don't write my contact no (hey, it's optional!) and passed the card to that employee and thanked him (in Chinese) and told him (in English) that I couldn't speak Chinese & although I didn't understand what he was telling me earlier, I still appreciated his effort.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Emerald Dawn

Guess what this image is originally about before being manipulated. The steps are not included as I'm just doing this for fun. ;) No element of repeatability.

“Art has its limits”

Thus quoted from one commenter in my recent article. Not to take it out of context, yes, I know he might be in self-deprecating mode (must be due to lack of sleep eh, bro? ^_^)…but I’m intrigued with his statement “Art has its limits”.

I personally feel that art is relative. Some people might enjoy it. Some don’t. And something that is relative should not and would not have limits. That’s my view.

Frank Zappa (1940-1993), a musician, singer, & songwriter opined that “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” On the other hand, Amy Lowell (1874 - 1925) a critic & poet perceived art as ”…the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.”

The former pointed out the infinite possibilities of creating something out of nothing (okay, and selling it too. Hey, even an artist needs to earn a living, right?) whereas the latter emphasized the art is but the desire of a man to express himself.

The desire is something relative. It’s intangible. It’s volatile. It’s unpredictable. It’s, in short, infinite. Hence, the similarity of the two definitions.

A Japanese proverb remarked that “art is the illusion of spontaneity.”
No argument there. In fact, I like the ‘illusion’ part as it explains why some people can appreciate art (as they can look through the illusion) and why some can’t.

Lastly—since I’m so biased for all things got to do with “Anonymous”—I’ll end this with an anonymous saying which elaborates the concept of art as “…a deliberate recreation of a new and special reality that grows from your response to life. It cannot be copied; it must be created.“

The keyword is recreation. An act of creating again as well as an activity that renews your health and spirits by enjoyment and relaxation. Something that you do & you’re happy doing so.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Memorable…memory…Olympus!

Welcome to “Her” Digital Story. It may no longer be broadcast in Singapore TVs these days, however this advertisement never fails to charm me.

By the way, I’m not an Olympus user, so yeah, this is not a product endorsement. I'm more into a Sony Cybershot really. But that will be another story.

The ad is dominantly gloomy, what with all those shades. The moving pictures are aptly blended with the still images to the effect of the memories being played in the main character’s mind supported with the evidence of her photos. Effective use of voiceovers with just a right amount of a background song. The song that fits the theme. This is not even my digital story, but I’m in awe.

Note: Click the title of this article for the 30-second ad—the first one titled “My Digital Story / Mju Mini”

Monday, March 13, 2006

Memorable Advices

Two that immediately come into my mind are the song text of “Wear Sunscreen” and the movie poster of “Trainspotting”.

About the former, I like the way the ‘advices’ are interwoven one after another with a varied length of sentence and a witty kind of cohesiveness--or lack of it.

For example: take these coherent ones.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

And this that lists some advices which are not at all cohesive:
Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Expect a totally different style from the Trainspotting text. It employs parallelism (Ah, I never get tired of it. Yet) that starts with “Choose…”. It sounds more like a series of instructions than of advices. But I like the way the ‘instructions’ are delivered. You couldn’t just escape the mixture of frustration, honesty and worldliness thrown to your face.

Yes, the instructions start reasonably well with “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family”. Before it’s continued rather radically with “Choose a fucking big television.” Followed with a mundane nudge to “Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers.”

Then the pattern sort of returns to the ‘good’ manner: “Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends.”

And it begins its downhill slide with “Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace you.”

In what I feel as a desperate attempt to steer back the advices to the ‘right’ direction, it innocently ends with “Choose your future. Choose life.” A complete circle that starts and stops with “Choose life”.

Ought to clearly credit those wonderful advices to these wonderful people:
1) "Wear Sunscreen" -> columnist Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune.
2) "Trainspotting" -> either the novelist Irvine Welsh or the screenwriter John Hodge.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Featuring...me.

Because I'm vain & it's my picture after all.

Because I'm empathic of those who prefer signing their comments as anonymous & in tomorrow.sg, they are addressed as Anonymous Coward. Bah! To prove we, of the Anon clan, dare to step up--at least myself.

Because I'm cautious & would think thrice to step up using my unedited photo.

Because I'm arrogant & just need to show off this edited picture.


And the truth? It's because I'm creatively clueless & not sure besides some parallelism, with what else I can fill this otherwise blank space. Might look rather messy if the screen resolution is other than 800x600.

Courtesy of freeware Serif PhotoPlus 5.5 (latest is version 6.03, downloadable here) & the classic Microsoft Photo Editor.

I miss Adobe Photoshop, though! Lemme digress a bit. Ever use the software? Ever have fun in playing with its many functions that produce results that impress you? So you save the altered pictures, you display them to your friends. Yet you're unable to tell them what steps you took that led to the eventual product. Not because you are secretive. It's just there were too many steps that you went through and not recorded.

But not this time, pal. Here are the steps:
1. Tweak with Photoplus: Image, Adjust, Hue / Saturation / Lightness
2. Then go to Layers, Duplicate
3. Image, Blur, Blur Effects. Select the type: Motion. Play with Intensity
4. Layer Manager window, vary the Opacity value between 0 - 100%
5. Unite the two layers with Layers, Merge All
6. Export the image, save it in JPEG format (File, Export)
7. Finally use Microsoft Photo Editor: Effects, Edge, choose Thin Edge.

Remark: Adobe Photoshop has a History window showing what steps you have taken. However once you save the work, the history won't be able to be restored.

Friday, March 10, 2006

But definitely a good nosey-parker.

Now, ‘good nosey-parker’— is it an oxymoron? I reckon so. I suspect the sense of shame (refer to the previous article about the disrespectful behaviour) had been lingering like a cancer and affecting me more than I expect.

It’s disturbing. And it took an outlet of my other hovering doubt about whether it’s a good idea to post comments in strangers’ blogs.

Yesterday I was hit by the realization and guilt that accompanied it whether I might have done more damage than good. I checked with a friend of mine who was wise enough to ignore the inquiry as he definitely realized that this must be one of those times when silence was the best answer.

I shot him the lame question of whether he minded if I were to post a comment in his friend’s blog. I just had to ask. Even though the other part of me was kinda yelling, “Of course you can. Why the question? Why now?! That’s the risk those people must face and must already anticipate when they let the ‘post comment’ feature is included in their blogs! If they can’t handle the comments, they should have disabled such a facility in the first place.”

But damnit…even if my intention is good—no, nothing's noble about being a busybody for sure, heh—and as I am one of those who believe that kindness by a total stranger is of the highest degree, I do admit the proven adage of “intent and outcome rarely coincide”. Perhaps, it’s about time that I learn to keep my mouth shut and trust other people to sort their own lives.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Not a good audience. Not a good salesman.

There was a work-related seminar yesterday somewhere near Jurong East. The content was okay. Educational. There were 4 speakers, who obviously from their credentials, had a good knowledge about the issue.

However, one of them did really need a course on how to present in much more engaging manner. He just simply read verbatim from the slides. And as everybody was given the print-out of the presentation, I decided that I’ve got enough of this insult and continued reading the print-out myself.

Then I took the book, Dune from my bag. Yes, normally I find this behaviour disrespectful. Ought give a face and should act as if I was staring hard at the screen like the rest of participants & listening to that speaker.

But what’s the point?

So I entertained myself with the book instead. The seminar was ended with Q&A which I just came to realize in horror that some people like to ask questions for the sake of asking (and introducing themselves?) without realizing that the questions were irrelevant and the answers were darn obvious (if you only paid attention to the speakers or in my case, if you just read that print-out. The answers were there!)

I just contemptuously shook my head and peacefully continued reading those 3 appendices of Dune. Like the way the glossary is included too. No index is provided, though--the book is not that thick.

Once finished (the seminar), I walked to Jurong East library and there, I was trying to sell the concept of savouring a graphic novel to one of my colleagues. “These are comics! Just for kids!” he exclaimed. “No, no…take this one for example (I showed him Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman 10th book: The Wake)”.

“Read this blurb? It’s for mature readers.”

He looked sceptical about it. I didn't want to give up. I picked another graphic novel from the rack. “See this one? By Joe Sacco. I’ve read his “Safe Area Gorazde. The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95” once. Now I finally find his other work “Palestine: In The Gaza Strip”.

He was still sceptical about it. I gave up.

Perhaps it’s not a good idea to promote The Sandman (especially if it’s the final book) or the cartoon journalism about Palestine. Or I’m just not a good salesman.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Perhaps some question is best not asked.

As what Robert M. Pirsig might try to tell in his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. And the question that the main character in the book (or he himself if the claim that the story is based on actual occurrences were to be believed) is about the definition of Quality. He relentlessly pursued the answer himself to the extent of ….. (Ah, let me leave it blank. Will not want to spoil the story).

By the way, you may want to consider reading the Afterword first before reading the book from the beginning.

PS. Clicking the title of this article will lead you to the site where the complete text of the book is available online.
PPS. This is also a book which is surprisingly categorized under "Travel" in a local library.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Missed the “Road to Perdition”

Have been looking for this show. It was scheduled to be aired on TV on Saturday but I missed it! No thanks to Frank Herbert’s Dune. The book managed to glue me to continue reading it. ;-)

I was a sleepy man working on Sunday. I could live with it. So could the company. We both the stout believers of "With not-so-great power, still comes great responsibility".

The little regret I missed the show is mainly because I couldn’t compare the movie with the graphic novel--yup, read it already--it was originally adapted from. I was not impressed with the drawings of the book, but the storyline is quite a treat. Simple with enough twist. Violent, but touching.

A little trivia (taken from Wikipedia), it was said that “Road to Perdition” was inspired by the manga "Lone Wolf and Cub" by Kazuo Koike. Has this (manga) been translated to English yet?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Give that boy a Valium...

I was at the library yesterday and this boy (5-6 years old?) was just plain noisy. He ran across the aisle of the book racks and looked enjoying himself playing alone. No parents were around? Or they simply brought the menace here to share the annoyance with the rest of us?

Sigh. I just can’t understand how some parents think.

Anyway, the whole episode reminded me about one of my friends who once claimed that he was given a pill of Valium when he was a kid so that he could be calmed down (Correct me if I’m wrong, Sonic. And no, I am not referring him as that ‘one of my friends’. Heh).

So is this medicine widely available? Can it be obtained with a doctor’s prescription? I was contemplating to slap the boy’s parents with an insult by giving them a box of Valium, claiming that it’s courtesy of the library (can’t let them suspect a personal donation, can I?) and with a look of pity on my visage as if saying “Look, it must be tough being inconsiderate parents like you. Here’s a little something for your son. And trust me, I have a good friend who was once like your son. He was prescribed a Valium and now when he grows up, there is no (visible) effect to his well-being.”

But first, I need to find out who much this wonder drug costs.

A Single Lynx for Links

Time to do a little bit housekeeping on this site. Let me start by creating a leaner group of links that shall comprise all sites that I visit regularly.

Here we go, the frequently-visited blogs. The “nominees” (for the sake of staying faithful to one of my earlier articles) are:
1. Anonymous X (note the lack of an underscore) with “Anonymous X
2. Sonic with his “Scratchpad
3. Sarah Lee: "leemeixia's Comic Journal"--update on 23.09.06
4. Ole’wolvie: “The no brand blog
5. Buttercup: “Feel Like Taking A Breather and Have Some Life, Dear?”
6. Sentosa: “Sentosa.. not an island but a human
7. Dasugi: “Inane Mundanity

The above list is not exhaustive. And arranged in no particular order. Except for the obvious Female-Male-Female-Male pattern which I swear is purely coincidental. *grin*

PS: Proud to say that I manage to resist the temptation to set the title of this article as "One link to rule them all".

Update on 31.03.06 (& continually revised as the blogger incessantly renames her site.)
8. Jadeite: burnt sugar, israeli sunrise, a thousand miles, flutterby, love/fiction, : nighttime kisses :, “sprouts and pouts

Update on 20.05.06
9. Angie Bern: "my restless journey continues..." and her MOTM's "Touched By The Angel"--update on 25.11.06
10. KaiRiNu: "K for Komplexity..."
11. The Imp: "Faerie Land"

Update on 17.02.07
12. Wei: "Shane+Wei"
13. Mann: "Life of Mann"
14. (Not a blog - but an online graphic novel) NYC2123

Update on 10.11.07
15. (Ditto) Comic Strips on The First Post

Update on 10.12.08 (what?? it's been more than 1 year since I last updated this list?!)
16. Verine (And this one is a blog): My LifE BoX - A Malaysian live in Ireland
17. An autobiographical novel by talented Troy Chin in The Resident Tourist in "drearyweary | online playground of troy chin".

Update on 07.06.10 (hey, this one takes almost 2 years to update?)
18. 17 Sensational, Free and Downloadable Graphic Novels

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Historical Fictions.

Bernard Cornwell in his trilogy of Arthur (The Warlord Trilogy: The Winter King, Enemy of God, and Excalibur) touched on the possibility that the holy grail concept might have been the adoption of the local pagan tradition or legend of a magic cauldron—one of the twelve druids’ treasures that according to the legend, when the artifacts are gathered, the Old Gods could be evoked back to Earth.

Not so sure whether his idea is original. Didn't mean to question it, either.

What I find fascinating is the down-to-earth description about Arthur and his band of warriors or knights, but you better get rid the image of knights in shining armours as it's just plain impossible for that kind of era yet, metallurgy-wise. The book offers you a fresh and realistic theory about “the King who never was” and a lucid explanation why it is difficult to find a written record about Arthur's courageous exploit. (It’s got to do with the Christian growing influence against the local pagan practice and how he was not in good term with the Church. And with good reasons why).

With wonderful works of research, Cornwell has managed to weave a fiction that is admittedly inferior--romantically speaking--compared to Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. But the former’s work is absolutely more sensible. Your choice.