Sunday, April 30, 2006

A belated follow up.

For this article. Here are some of the photos taken.

The touch up is minimal: to merely enrich the colours with "saturation". Again, courtesy of Serif PhotoPlus 5.5 (one day, I shall have the promised software: Adobe PhotoShop).

And the light reflections? Yeah, they're still there. Especially annoying for "4:30" & "The President's Last Bang". Blend nicely--although still visible--with "The Book of the Dead".




290406 – Lost (Season 2) Summary / Spoiler

The past week article: here.

290406, instead of 270406. An encore telecast. Didn’t watch it on Thursday. Didn’t catch the repeat one from the beginning, either. From what I was told, though, I didn’t miss much.

The flashback scenes are about Shannon. She’s told that her father passes away in an accident. She & her mother visit the hospital. Has a wake. Boone, her brother is there too. She tells her plan to him about joining an internship program. A letter comes with a good news: her internship application accepted! She will need money to move. That money is denied from her mother. Her step mother, to be precise. Boone comes to offer his saving to Shannon who refuses it as she accuses Boone of not believing that she will be successful in her internship.

Back to the Present. The journey of the Five (Ana-Lucia, Mr. Eko, Bernard, Libby & Cindy) as well as Michael, Jin & the injured Sawyer continues. Mr. Eko challenges Ana-Lucia’s plan to follow the beach line as it takes longer. He suggests to cut through the jungle. Ana-Lucia rightly accuses Mr. Eko for being concerned about the condition of Sawyer who is getting worse. Libby tends to Sawyer's wound & reveals herself to be a psychologist (Sawyer's version is a "shrink").

Sawyer's condition deteriorates. He faints. Upon Michael’s insistence, a stretcher is made. Not without an argument with Ana-Lucia who as-a-matter-of-factly seems to prefer leaving Sawyer behind.

Michael argues that they should be safe enough as the Others stay in the different side of the jungle. Ana-Lucia hisses that the jungle belongs to them. The Others are smart. They are animals!

Michael demands to know what has happened to the Five’s other members.

Ana-Lucia tells him how in the first night when they are stranded in the Island, the Others take 3 of them. Two weeks pass, another 9 are taken. No mention about the fate of the remaining 6.

They continue the journey in silence. Slowly this time, as they have to carry Sawyer in a stretcher. In an uphill part of the river bank, they lift him with much difficulty. Ana-Lucia in alarm notices that Cindy is no longer with them. Ana-Lucia blames Mr. Eko for choosing this route instead of her longer-but-safer one via the beach.

This is when the incomprehensible whispers suddenly heard. Surrounding them. Ana-Lucia takes out her gun (the one taken from Sawyer) & yells, “Run!”

Take a pause here. Let’s see about the group in the other part of the Island.

Sayid has a surprise for Shannon. A hut just for her. They make love there, after which Sayid leaves to take water & Walt appears in the hut. Could be dripping wet again, but I didn’t ask that. Shannon is freaked out & upset when Sayid dismisses it as a dream.

In the next day, she brings a dog to smell Walt’s cloth. The dog brings her to the place where Boone’s buried. Shannon sits there & Sayid comes telling her it’s not safe to be there alone.

The dog abruptly runs to the jungle with Shannon & Sayid follow it closely. Shannon loses the dog. As she sits in the floor, she reveals to Sayid that Walt is not in the raft anymore. That she has found the bottle with messages in the beach. As they hug each other (after a brief whiny exchange of “I need you to believe in me!”, “Yes, I do”, “Oh, no, you don’t. You’re going to leave me once we leave this Island!”), the eerie whispers fill the background.

And voila, Walt pops up again. Out of nowhere. With a gesture to hush them. This time, Sayid sees him too.

Ignoring the hushing gesture or even worse, ignoring the whispers, Shannon calls Walt & runs after him as he moves away.

Sayid runs after Shannon. Suddenly a gunshot is heard.

Shannon is shot. In the end of the episode, the shooter is revealed to be…Ana-Lucia. Holding Shannon, Sayid glares at her in an expression that is either angry or confused as along with Ana-Lucia, he sees Michael & Jin. (I wonder what happens to Sawyer. Is he still in a stretcher? Is he cast away aside after Ana-Lucia tells the rest to run? Or is he still with them as they are not yet running away?)

To be continued…

The “Unremarkable” Intermission.
Featuring Locke, Claire, her baby & Charlie.

Locke shares a little trick to Claire to how to quiet the baby. By enveloping the baby with clothes. He comments that it’s only when the baby grows up, he’ll want to be free. Claire seems amused at how awkward Locke at holding her baby.

Claire shares her worry that Charlie may be a religious fanatic as he has a Virgin Mary statue with him all the time. The statue that contains heroin? Locke frowns.

He later points to Charlie that it’s ironic he brings up an issue of Responsibility (Charlie complains that Claire is not a good mother & resents her decision to give her baby up for an adoption), especially when the topic comes from a “heroin addict”.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Night Scene Mode - Revisited

New Cathay 270406

Shot on 270406 - The New Cathay

A slight improvement than the previous shot. The higher resolution (2048 x 1536) & uncut version of the above photo is however a proof that I should use a tripod as recommended. A bit shaky. Not that clear in this zoomed-out image, though.

Friday, April 28, 2006

My fire burns.

As angry as one could be. I mean how difficult it is to ensure that the VCD/DVD was checked before the screening day?

A classic case of no one is taking initiative or everybody is just waiting for somebody to do the bloody job which as how corny & predictable as it turns out, nobody does.

Sure, I could always put a positive spin. I finally met that Beautiful Girl. Managed not to do the stupid stuff people do when they encounter such a girl. Like asking whether she has a phone. *snigger* Instead, I did what I believe was proper (hardly "nice"--anyway, who am I to argue when a Beautiful Girl gives me that compliment?) i.e. sending her home.

Moreover, I got a chance to shoot some pictures. Shown below. Digitally manipulated using Serif PhotoPlus 5.5 & Microsoft Photo Editor (keywords: layers, graphic pen, opacity & background color).

Next (maybe): "My poison stings" Or "My fire stings; my poison burns".

In addendum:
Meanwhile...the email had been sent to the Organizer & a topic "A problem with Sorano: No English Subtitle!" has been started here. Under the category, "Film fest discussion". Let's see how the feedback is handled & how the rest of audience reacted.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Contract With God

Written & drawn by the late Will Eisner.

A Contract With God is a book that I admittedly would borrow if there's no other graphic novel in the library. The characters are roughly sketched. It's printed in sepia which I find plain (the introduction, however, explains the purpose of such a colour--it's a colour of dreams or memories.). In addition, there are too many words to my liking. Granted it's a graphic novel where stories are supposed to play more significant role. Still I'd have expected more drawings than words.

I borrowed the book. Always keep an open mind, right? No other graphic novel to be picked, anyway. Read it yesterday & no regret.

There are four stories in the novel. A Contract With God is one of them. The most memorable one as it deals with a humane expectation concerning religions. Or God. Do good & you'll be rewarded. Do bad? Be punished. The foundation of all religions.

The story features one old Jewish man who since he's young has done good things to others & in return, blessed by good things. He's sent to America with the money donated by people of his village (one of the blessing as he has a chance to survive as the village is under constant attack during a war. He writes that contract with God on a stone on his journey). He adopts a baby girl abandoned in front of his doorstep (another blessing as he now has a family).

But later on, the girl, who has been growing up as a loving daughter, suddenly dies. The father angrily accuses God of not respecting the contract. He throws away the stone. And he decides to stop honoring the contract.

He uses the bonds entrusted to him as a collateral to buy an apartment building. He raises the rental fee. Mercilessly. He's rich within 1 year.

He acquires more buildings & as the story suggests, Luck has been kind to him. His return of investment is impressive. His timing? Superb. He becomes very rich. Has a mistress. Luxury. Everything!

Yet he feels empty. And one day, he returns the bonds (once used as a collateral for his first purchase of property) to the rightful owners: the synagogue leaders. The bonds plus the interest. What he asks is the leaders to draft a new contract between him & God.

The leaders eventually agrees. Not without a lengthy discussion among them. But yes, a new contract is meticulously drafted.

The old Jewish man is glad as he feels he has made peace with his God. He has accepted the possibility that the breach of the first contract (the one in the stone) is due to him writing it as a kid and thus, the contract is not properly written.

He wants to do good things in life. He wants to be back to how he is before. Doing good things & be happy. As simple as that.

Guess what happens next? When he's still joyful reading the contract--all smiles, knowing God will honour this new contract, a heart attack hits him. He dies.

Life and her unique sense of humour. Heh.

PS. The image is set to be 'negative' for the caption, 'A Graphic Novel' on the cover to be more visible. Original design: here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

SIFF 230406: GIE

Damn…this show makes me proud of being a Chinese Indonesian. :) Kudos for the director, Riri Riza for selecting such a theme.

I can’t offer a briefer yet all encompassing summary about Soe Hok Gie. The official SIFF site has a concise depiction about him: an idealist, a teacher, a writer, a rebel & a central yet unknown political activist in the 60s, the darkest era of Indonesian history.

Unknown? Nah, not really. I called my father to ask whether he recognized the name. He did. Okay, perhaps for his generation, Soe Hok Gie had truly become a proud proof that Chinese Indonesians do care about the country. Which is a fresh change of the usual stereotype of Chinese Indonesians being filthy rich & care only to enrich themselves without any regards to the nation--a stigma that many might still endure.

Perhaps the way he passed away when he climbed the Mt. Semeru is the reason why he is not well-known to the later generation (I admit I never heard his name before). Because of inhaling a poisonous gas. An accident that should not have happened for him who was a frequent mountain climber. (He could have been more remembered if he were to have died 'tragically'. Being tortured or killed, for example? There's always a need of a martyr regardless of the era, as one might sarcastically point out.)

Some might even argue that it was not an accident. That it was a suicide. That he being an idealist was very much disappointed with what he saw in the “new” government. That could be the case. If we are to rely from the movie, the scene prior to he going to the mountain--to be precise, when he was laughing by himself at the fences of his close friend/loved one, Ira’s house--may suggest the deteriorating condition of his mental state. Heck, even his last letter to her implied that he's just tired of fighting a losing battle.

Past article: Official summary.
Other links about the show: IMDB, Official Blog (?), Wikipedia articles (in English and in Bahasa Indonesia – two different contents).

The director, Riri Riza during the Q&A - Photo shot & touched up by a_x

PS. After my question was answered by the director that "GIE" was also shown in Indonesia (starting last year, July), I also asked whether there's any difference between the version of the movie shown there with the one shown in Singapore. Was the one shown in Indonesia suffered the scissor of censorship more? Or was it required to go through more 'edit' before it could be screened here?

Thankfully, it's exactly the same. Censorship always irritates me. But the only scene cut, according to Riri, was the six-second kissing part. And that's all.

What's in a brand?

SbriteApparently, a lot.

Take this one for instance: "Sprite". In arabic lingo, it's written & pronounced as "Sbrite".

Taste-wise? Just like the real thing! I drank it yesterday myself. Although the tiny print-out about the year of production (2004) rather worried me a little. :(

Sprite...Sbrite...right. Okay, at least it is not as bad as Coca Cola. If this Urban Legend Reference Page were to be believed, anyway.

It's about how Coca Cola or how the Chinese pronounced it as "ko-ka-ko-la" which eventually metamorphosed to "k'o-k'ou-k'o-le", courtesy of the Advertising Dept(?). Just to give a sensible meaning of "allow the mouth to be able to rejoice", instead of the nonsensical "bite the wax tadpole".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Effective use of colours (or lack of them)

The keypoint is effective. Rightly make a choice to achieve the art's objective. Take a look at the images here. Both share a similarity that they are simply sketches. The difference is one relies mostly in black & white whereas the other is enriched by colours. Both, however, achieve their objective. Being attractively appealing to eyes.

The left image is a poster of the movie "Love Story", directed by Kelvin Tong. The phot was shot on 22/04/06. The right image is from one shopping area of Bugis Point. Taken on 23/04/06.

I try to imagine how the left picture looks like if it were to use colours as lavishly as the right photo does. The image fails to materialize in my mind. Likewise I also try to visualize how the right image if it's merely in black & white. While it's easy to do so (hey, you could just 'greyscale' the image & play with the 'contrast'), I think it will fail its purpose to attract the potential customers to step into the store.

The bottom line? It's not about colours. It's about the objective. It's about what the artist tries to achieve with his/her design. And to do so effectively.

It may take months...

...but I finally found Orson Scott Card's "Lost Boys" & even came across his "Red Prophet". [1]

Visited the National Library after watching "It's Only Talk". Made a big roundabout (it was a dark Saturday evening, mind you) before finally realized on a bright Sunday afternoon that the Library is just located straight across the theatre.

As I already reached the quota of 4 books, I planned to return some books & to borrow "Lost Boys" on Sunday. (I already bought "Red Prophet" -- this 2nd book of Alvin Maker storyline was only "available" one last time & even that was not "borrow-able" because it's kept in the Area 51, namely "Repository Used Book Collection". Glad that the Library set a budget to restock. At the moment, there are 3 of them.)

And on Sunday, I got the book! =) I love Life!

PS. [1] Might be considered as a follow-up for this Oct 2005 article.

SIFF 220406: It's Only Talk

Nah...not a spoiler.

I observe how I tend to write in details about shows, but being vague about books. Perhaps it's because I know that it is more likely for me to enjoy re-reading a book than re-watching a show. But I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching this show again. So I’ll make the write-up as brief as possible.

I attended the screening of "It's Only Talk" last Saturday. Came early to the place, took some pictures of the posters, being chased away by one old cinema operator who warned (in Chinese, mixed with Malay) that it's not allowed to take a picture in a cinema (Didn't see any warning displayed. But since I already took the images, I didn't bother to argue). Oh well, those pictures would be posted later. Maybe.

Before the show started, the SIFF organizer introduced the director, Ryuichi Hiroki & announced that there would be Q&A session later on. Through his interpreter, the director gave a very short opening speech which did not say anything about the film but that “Singapore is a very hot country, but don’t worry this show is cold.” Heh. I was just grinning as I suspected what he meant with "show" was actually "cinema". It’s evident that he’s more comfortable talking through his film than talking to the audience like this.

The official summary about the show has aptly described it as a tragi-comedy. The main character, Yuko lets the audience have the feel how it is to be a manic-depressive (nowadays the illness is called "bipolar disorder"). When she passes her days highly cheerful & energetic to when she suddenly suffers extreme depression & lethargic on the next day. Which also lasts for a few days. When she loses her appetite, claims to hearing voices & when all the curtains in her apartment are pulled down as she can’t stand the sunlight.

Only in the end of the show, the audience were allowed a glimpse of what she thinks when she grieves of the sudden passing of her cousin. She hears him calling her (in a repetition of one scene) & that’s it: The End.

During the Q&A (after the show), one of the audience asked the director what the message of the show. After a pause that might indicate his surprise of such a question, the director replied that she just had to feel it. He laughed (so were the audience) & continued to explain about his intention to portray a life of a manic-depressive & her courage to keep on living & that even a manic-depressive could live like the rest of “normal” people.

The Interpreter & Ryuichi Hiroki - Photo shot & touched up by a_x

Past articles: Official summary & poster of the show.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Blooming Phoenix

Or Pang Tong from Romance of Three Kingdoms? Or the prelude to incoming articles about RoTK? Or just a (modified) logo of the Hotel which I happened to pass after I watched those 3 shows? Or why I should carry a digital camera with me all the time?

Bleah...need to improve on how to name an article.

Anyway, the photo is tweaked (To view how the photo looks like before modification--true, rather poorly taken, isn't it?--please click the above image) using Serif PhotoPlus 5.5 with two basic steps:

1. Play around with Image, Adjust, Gamma.
This will result to the original blazing red of the phoenix to be given a touch of a few other colours (I'll let Wolvie to list down the percentage of those colour. Heh)

2. To give a flickering/dizzying effect, go to Image, Blur, Blur Effects. Choose the effect of Zoom & adjust its intensity.

200406 – Lost (Season 2) Summary / Spoiler – What’s going on in The Island

That is in continuance of this article.

After the Five (Ana-Lucia, Mr. Eko, Bernard, Libby & Cindy) discuss about what to do (they do it separately, not involving Michael, Jin & Sawyer who comments that the Five will eat them), Ana-Lucia instructs Michael to lead them the next day to the Michael’s group.

Defendit numerus, eh? Safety in numbers? Makes sense.

In the next morning, the group is split. Ana-Lucia, Bernard & Jin go to the beach to net for fish. Libby is assigned to gather for fruits in the jungle with Michael. Mr. Eko & Cindy stay to guard the injured Sawyer (an introduction is made between Sawyer & Mr. Eko which explains why he’s called “Mr.”)

Unable to communicate, Jin sits in the beach condescendingly looking at Bernard & Ana-Lucia attempting to catch fish. Upon being scolded in English (guess by who), he grumbles in Korean & throws his net to the other side of the beach. Upon pulling it back, he triumphantly shows the few fish caught. (Well, he is a fisherman’s son. He knows where to cast his net).

Libby & Michael go to the jungle gathering fruits. Libby forbids him to go to that way of the forest because there is where the Others come from. This prompts Michael to run to that way of the forest to look for his son, Walt.

Libby returns to the group & tells that Michael has just left.

At first, they do not know why until Jin says repeatedly “Walt…”

Ana-Lucia decides to speed up the plan to go to where Michael’s group stay before Michael is forced by the Others to reveal where the Five are currently hiding.

Jin starts to leave the group to pursue for Michael (thumbs up for the team spirit, Jin!) but Mr. Eko stands in his way, telling that Jin does not know what he’s doing. Jin throws his punch & hits Mr. Eko straight at his face. Still standing, equally quick Mr. Eko butts his head against Jin’s & sends him fall to the ground.

Jin immediately stands & continues to leave the group.

Mr. Eko gives him way & a man-made wooden spear & the correct direction for Jin to go. With a club in his hand, Mr. Eko follows Jin. He tells Ana-Lucia to lead the rest to leave for the other side of the Island. He will track them later.

Jin runs deep into the forest. He is abruptly stopped by a movement of the bush by a large, strange-sounding & unrevealed animal that runs & hits him. He falls & when he stands up, he sees a decomposed body lying near him, pierced by a piece of shaft. Mr. Eko nods & grimly says that the dead’s name is Goodwin.

Looking at Jin’s ring, Mr. Eko asks him whether he’s married & whether his wife is in the plane too. Jin in gesture says yes & sort of asks if Mr. Eko is married. He “was” is his short reply (his wife is killed by the Others too? Or divorced? Or…?)

They continue their trek in silence & Mr. Eko’s ability to track is evident. They find Michael’s footsteps & Mr. Eko explains to Jin that these are not the Others’ footsteps because they leave no trail.

They reach a part of the forest where Mr. Eko suddenly pauses & listens hard to the surrounding.

They quickly prostrate inside a bush & witness how the Others barefooted (well, their point of view is limited into legs only) walk very closely in front of them. A slow, cautious & noiseless steps by this group of people. (which puzzled me whether this is the same “The Others” with the group who kidnaps Walt in the sea).

Oh and it seems there is a kid in this group as well (barefooted too, unlikely to be Walt as he/she also walks like the rest) who drags along a soft toy bear with a string.

After some time, Mr. Eko and Jin leave their hiding place & rest by a river. Mr. Eko remarks how lucky it is that Michael’s track shows that he is going to the different direction than the Others. When Jin drinks, Michael suddenly appears at the opposite bank & tells Jin not to follow him. But Jin does.

Michael runs away shouting for Walt. Jin pursues.

They reach a small waterfall where Michael shouts for the Others to take him, instead of Walt. Jin & Mr. Eko finally reach him. They calm Michael who seem to agree not to search for Walt.

Meanwhile the injured Sawyer delays the progress of the group by having to stop for a break. Ana-Lucia gives him a bottle of water & threatens to leave him behind. Sawyer retorts that she won’t be able to find the place where he comes from especially since Michael & Jin are not in the group. Ana-Lucia says that they can always walk along the beach & eventually find the place. Quickly changing the topic, Sawyer asks whether she’s married. She rolls her eyes (being irritated that such irrelevant question is raised, yet flattered at the same time?) and says No and Sawyer points out that it’s too bad as she can be a very nasty wife. She returns the question whether he’s married. And after his No reply, she jokingly asks whether he’s a gay. They grin & the hostility between them subsides.

In the other side of the Island, Sun Kwon is seen washing clothes together with Claire. (This is the opening scene of the episode, by the way). Sun Kwon suddenly realizes that she loses her wedding ring and frantically looks for it.

Jack tells her how he once loses his too & how obsessed he’s looking for it before finally getting a replacement made.

Hurley suggests her to recall what she does the day before as she may lose it then. When she says that she feeds the dog, Hurley comments that the dog might have eaten the ring. They follow the dog around waiting for the dog to defecate & Sun Kwon remarks how stupid it is. Hurley tells her that he has a dog once, Buster, whose diet is weird. He asks whether Sun Kwon has a dog too. She says Jin gives her a puppy, named (sound like) “poppo” which means “a kiss”.

Sun Kwon is seen alone in her garden tearing apart her plants in frustration. A calm Locke appears & Sun Kwon asks him whether he sees what she’s doing. See you destroying your plant? No…I didn’t see it. That and Locke's serious face are enough to make her laugh. Locke tells her that there are times before when he is like Sun Kwon. Angry and frustrated. Sun Kwon comments that she never sees him losing temper in the Island. Locke says about how he is not lost anymore.

Kate guesses rightly that Sun Kwon’s anguish is actually due to her worry about Jin. She assures her that the people in the raft are alright. Sun Kwon loses her temper yelling that she is tired hearing that Jin is okay. She tells Kate about the bottle (it seems that the knowledge of the finding of the bottle with the messages is just limited between Claire, Shannon & Sun Kwon) & how she buries the bottle.

Kate insists to take a look at the bottle. It’s unburied & Kate skims through the messages. Sun Kwon admonishes her. The messages are private & should not be read. Kate says something about not saying good bye. Sun Kwon mutters one name. Sawyer? Kate nods. (And I am lost! There’s something between Kate & Sawyer in the previous season?)

Kate points out at the ring half buried in the sand. It’s found.

To be continued…

200406 – Lost (Season 2) Summary / Spoiler – The flashback scenes

Looking back at the previous synopsis, it is indeed easier to read when the flashback scenes of the episode are grouped as one.

So I shall post two articles: one is for the compilation of the flashbacks & another for the happenings in the Island.

Let's start with the flashback first.

Sun Kwon & her mother are going to attend a matchmaking session. Her mother gently scolds Sun Kwon about why she never finds the right guy during her university days. Sun Kwon in cute-but-irritated-kind-of-way remarks that she goes to university to earn a degree, not to find a husband.

The scene turns to Jin dressing up for an interview. His roommate teases him for being so hardworking & asks him what to do if Love were to call. Tell Love to wait, his grinning reply. Jin is advised to take out the price tag of his tie. He tells his roommate that the tie can still be returned to the store if the tag is still intact.

The interview goes smoothly. Jin manages to impress the Seoul Gateway Hotel manager with his past achievement. Jin is one of the very few employees who are “promoted from within” by the hotel—which has a reputation not to “promote from within”—where he previously works at. The hotel manager accepts him but critically points out that Jin apparently is not from the city & that upon knowing where Jin comes from, he tells that’s why Jin smells like a fish. Still staying extremely (unbearably, I’d say) humble, Jin just nods & doesn’t even protest when the manager tears the price tag off Jin’s tie.

Sun Kwon & her mother meet the matchmaker in front of the hotel. They enter as the hall porter lowly bows and opens the door. The hall porter is Jin.

Inside the hotel, a young but bald Mr. Lee (Somehow he reminds me to Lex Luthor of Smallville.) is introduced to Sun Kwon. Two of them are left together enjoying their drinks (Orange? Who drink oranges in the hotel these days?!) in the hotel lobby. A graduate from Harvard, Mr. Lee charms Sun Kwon with his honesty (he admits he doesn’t know anything about art – the subject that Sun Kwon specialises in Seoul National University & he concedes it’s puzzling how he ends up managing the hotel even though he studies Russian Medieval Literature in Harvard).

Apparently they have good impression about each other & they meet for another date. Mr. Lee tells Sun Kwon since they both like each other company, he wants to meet her more often. Our family will be thrilled, he beams. (Sun Kwon just blushes.) And both of them won’t be nagged by the family! he adds (Sun Kwon still blushes). And thus the next six months will be peaceful for them and when he returns to America, he could marry his American girlfriend. (Sun Kwon stops blushing). The change of her looks prompts Mr. Lee to realize that Sun Kwon may have taken wrongly his friendly gesture. She excuses herself, something about to go for another appointment.

(Note: Mr. Lee is not the manager who interviews Jin for the work.)

Jin continues his duty. An unfastidious-looking man brings his son to the entrance of the hotel requesting Jin to let the son go inside to use the toilet. Jin politely replies that the man to use the toilet in other building across the street. But the man pleads that his son can’t seem to be able to hold it & after Jin confirms that with the son, he lets them to use the hotel toilet.

The nasty manager—the one who interviews Jin—immediately jumps to the picture & gives Jin a stern warning. About how he should remember not to let this kind of people to enter the premise. Jin's explanation is ignored. Jin takes off his gloves and resigns on the spot.

Jin walks along a riverside. He turns back to check a girl out & he bumps into Sun Kwon. Her purse is dropped. Jin apologizes and picks the purse. They see eye to eye for the first time and with their smile that suspiciously suggests it is a love at the first sight, the 200406 episode is ended.

To be continued…

Coming soon: the article “200406 – Lost (Season 2) Summary / Spoiler – What’s going on in The Island”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

No catch…

…as twisted & as funny as Catch-22. Overdue to write about this book. Partly because I was rather intimidated with its introduction where it mentioned that it took 8 years for the author, Joseph Heller to complete the novel.

So I postponed reading it. I read Anansi Boys first (mentioned here) which was a delicious treat because I’m already comfortable with Neil Gaiman’s style of writing.

But Catch-22. Heh. The storyline is hilarious, characters are wacky even though the ending’s kinda lame. Couldn’t tell more about it [1]. Just take a look what Catch-22 actually refers to. Quoted:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.

PS.. [1] Not to avoid spoiling the story. Frankly I do have to re-read this book. Could only recall the peculiar way of naming the chapters with all the novel’s characters except for two chapters. Any particular significance of these 2 chapters? This is what I need to re-read this book for.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Probably the best solution: Inaction

Negativity was clouding my mind for the last few days. How could it not? I was in the very likely situation not to be able to go for the screening of the two movies that I have booked way earlier last month.

Imagine how conveniently hopeless it was when the new project just popped into existence and required me to attend it from Friday to Sunday. And by attending it, it means me not being in Singapore.

On the one hand, I was so tempted to stand up and say no and tell my manager how the planning for the shows had been done in advance and why these Shows are important to me. During the ‘rehearsal’, I failed to sound convincing. Even to myself. :(

On the other hand, it is a matter of Responsibility. So let it be. The best that I can do is not to let it deteriorate my already grim mood for the days. Act normal. Act positive. Why prolong punishing yourself for something that’s beyond your control.

So I've been acting normal & positive. I'm not proud of it because the bottomline, it's still acting. And acting means not being true to oneself. That's how I see it.

Today, however the acting has thankfully stopped. I was told that the project will clash with the other project that also just popped into existence, which will require my presence in Singapore and thus, I should still be able to catch the Shows.

Inaction is sometimes the best solution. Sort of like the Zen proverb: “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself”. (Although the cynic me can’t resist to add, “But you still need to tend your garden as grass indeed grows by itself but so does weed.”)

Monday, April 17, 2006

130406 – Lost (Season 2) Summary / Spoiler (Extra: “The Kite Runner”)

Nah, not much a summary or a spoiler like this previous one. I was distracted throughout the show because I was feeling rather sick reading “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. Don’t get me wrong. The book is highly recommended. It opens one’s eyes to other culture, even if that culture is already (partially) lost, no thanks to the new “regime”.

“The Kite Runner” is realistically written, I almost believe it’s based on a true story. With its altogether humane portrayal of its protagonist, which leaves a reader feeling a nauseating mixture of symphaty and disgust. Till some parts of the book reveal that it’s definitely a fiction. Especially with all those convenient coincidences that bring characters who once appear in the past to have proper “closure” later on. (Recall Assef? Or even a 'minor' character like Kamal?)

Anyway this is going to make one crazy article if I try to combine both issues as one.

Talking about crazy, that’s how the Lost episode screened on 130406 started. A crazy dream of Hurley. Where he wonders at the amount of food inside the hatch. He starts devouring them. Jin appears. Jin speaks in English. Hurley remarks how strange it is. Hurley is told that he is the one who speaks in Korean. Hurley is heard speaking in Korean. Comical. One guy in a chicken suit appears beside Jin.

Zzzz…huh?! And Hurley is woken up by Kate who reminds him to enter the codes into the computer.

Hurley is the star in this episode. The flashback shots are all about him. Starting when he watches the lottery announcement and realizes that he wins the top prize. When he quits his job in a fast food restaurant after the CCTV catches him eating the chicken drumsticks. When his good friend, Johnny who also works in the same place with him, quits his job at the same day with Hurley as a gesture of support. When Hurley finally finds courage to ask a girl out. When Johnny eventually knows Hurley is the lottery winner and looks betrayed that his friend doesn’t tell him. When Hurley looks sorry that he wins the lottery because he loses his friendship with Johnny.

Enough flashbacks. Unless this Johnny character will later appear to haunt Hurley. Hmm…that will be too much impossible, won’t it?

Back to the Island.

Charlie tries to find out more about the hatch from Hurley who's keeping mum. Charlie knows about it from Locke. Charlie subsequently demands Hurley who is in charge of the food stored in the hatch to give a peanut jam to the young mother, Claire. Hurley firmly refuses. He entrusts Rose’s help instead to compile a list of the food.

Meanwhile Sayid finds another door inside the Hatch that is cemented. He informs Jack about it and Jack notices a very strong magnetic force from behind the door from the way his key (hung on his neck) pulled into the door. They try to find the way to pass the door from the foundation. What they find in the end of the tunnel is not a light of new discoveries but Kate who's enjoying her shower with a newly found shampoo that she takes from the food store.

Claire finds a bottle consisting a message (it is previously brought together by Michael, Walt, Jin & Sawyer with the raft) on the beach. Together with Shannon, she tells Sun Kwon who silently grieves at the prospect of losing her husband, Jin in the sea.

Hurley is continually pestered by Charlie about that darn peanut jam. Hurley decides to explode the food store. Rose stops him in time.

Hurley talks to Jack about distributing the food to the rest. Jack agrees.

In the other side of the Island, Lucia and Mr. Eko start believing that the captured trio are indeed from the same plane as them. Michael, Jin and Sawyer are released.

Sawyer is again being hit, literally, by Lucia when she warns Sawyer to drop the stone that he carries. Till the count of three, she says. Or else. She counts to two and she suddenly throws a swift punch. Sawyer lamely protests that it’s not three yet. Ouch.

They are brought to another cemented cave, an entrance kinda like the other hatch. Along the way, Michael learns that there’re 23 of them. They reach the hiding place. Inside there are only 5 people seen. Michael is told that there “were” 23, not “are” 23. (The trailers for next week episode shows a brutal kidnapping of the people of this group. Note: so it’s been clear that these 5 are not “the Others”). Bernard introduces himself and asks whether there’s a survivor named Rose in Michael’s group. He’s the husband who Rose in Season 1 always believes to stay alive. He cries in relief finally learning that his wife is alive too.

In the other part of the Island, Hurley becomes very popular when he distributes the food. The atmosphere is pleasantly relaxing and calm except for Sun Kwon who without words digs a hole & buries the bottle with the message.

To be continued…

This one, however, IS a Two Way Monologue

By Sondre Lerche. (Now you know what the previous article’s title is inspired from) One of those songs, which I can only like after watching its video clip. It happens to have nothing to do with its lyric but still fun to watch. A singing competition between a simple guy and a stylish, rich, but-in-the-end-proven-a-phoney beau.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

“It does not follow”

Or “Non Sequitur”. This has been one of few comic strips that I enjoy both in full colour or in black and white. Its Sunday edition is published in colours and usually makes a series by itself.

Some have even been later published as a book. Like “Homer, the Reluctant Soul: The Halo Tours”. This book is not available in local libraries, though. Is it because the topic is deemed too sensitive? When religion is involved, everybody is getting very cautious. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Blue Gold by MD Jewelry

"Are we going to be introduced to green gold, blue gold, etc in the future?" testily Sonic deplored in his blog. Okay. Sorry. *grin*

I just need some (lame) preface before I could show how blue gold might look like.

Presenting Blue Gold. For those who are adventurous. Obsessive. Self-motivated. You are strong. You are tempestuous. You're like Ahab.

The Case Closed.

To follow up my past article, Dan Brown had been acquitted from the allegation of “stealing key elements” for his The Da Vinci Code book from the "The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail" (HBHG), by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh who were slammed with a duty to pay approximately 1.3 million pounds for legal cost. Details here.

No idea how much Effective Advertising costs. So, perhaps this 1.3 million pounds are well spent if the purpose is to have people aware & interested to know more about HBHG. And ultimately, to buy the book.

But like I wrote earlier, the only winner is Henry Lincoln, the other co-author of HBHG who did not join Baigent & Leigh in the legal skirmish versus Brown. Well done!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Film Art (090406): El Hijo de la Novia + Short Cut: George Lucas In Love

El Hijo de la Novia or Son of The Bride (SoTB) is one of those shows which remind the audience to take life easily. Either that or face the 15-day ICU "therapy" when your heart refuses to comply with the pressure that you exert.

Anyway, I'm going to start taking life easily, by posting the link of a review about the show. What an excuse... *sneer*

George Lucas in Love was what shown after SoTB. Hilarious.

With a simple message of "best stories are in plain sight", the fans of Star Wars would easily identify people that Lucas encounters which lead to the creation of Star Wars' characters: Obi-wan Kenobi (his roommate with his cool philosophy), Darth Vader (his rival with a breathing problem), Yoda (his final year project advisor with a unique Verb-Subject speech), Han Solo & Chewbacca (two people he comes across while they're repairing their car), Leia (his girlfriend/muse with her Hairstyle), and many more.

This site has some of the photos posted. Even if you don't understand the language (it's Spanish?), you still can take a look at the screenshots & guess the "obvious".

"The Fish", "One Shot", "Replay Revenge"

So far so good. I manage to catch the shows according to my plan.

Please click the image to enlarge the official summary from SIFF site:

The Fish. What's this animation about? Using a combination of pencil and crayon and with minimal usage of colours (mostly black, grey and light brown), this show seems to portray a typical life of a roaming member of a school. The audience will see from the fish's point of view. The way it swims. Till when it's captured by a fisherman. If there's any message of this 5-minute show, it lost me.

One Shot. As how I wrote once, I usually dislike documentaries. This show is not an exception. A slow 60-minute show which consists of mainly a poor Blair-Witch style of video recording, interviews with (ex) snipers, and a few redundant (we all know that snipers--whether they like it or not--are killers, thank you) shoots of men in mask swinging scythes in a slow motion in the dawn.

But seriously, who's in his/her right mind could be entertained by such a show? It's not meant to be enjoyed. Can't forget about one of the interviews where the (ex) sniper admitted to sleep for two days straight after his first kill.

Replay Revenge. In contrast to One Shot, this documentary is meant to present a lighter side of the dark issue of Israel-Palestine conflict by the use of animation & interviews with people (some of them just finish partying. Heh) about their view of revenge.

Of course, there are also thoughtful parts where an Israeli couple are interviewed. Their daughter was killed in the bus, no thanks to a suicide bomber. The Palestinian's side is equally represented as well. With an interview with an old man whose daughter was also killed. As a suicide bomber.

Too bad this particular show was abruptly ended (15 minutes before its actual end). Due to technical problem.

PS. For other views about the show, pls refer to this article by Sonic.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Photographs of Sound", "Wonder around, have fun. Travel", and "Life as my mum & grandmum view it".

Those could be the alternative titles respectively for Coffee and Milk, Lonely Planet, and She3.

The following images are taken from the SIFF site. To read the official summary, click the images to enlarge.

A story about how a boy falls in love with a deaf lady, much older than him. And his genuine attempt to to introduce sounds to her through his photographs. By the way, "Photographs of Sound" is the name of his compilation which he gives to her. The lady explains to him in sign languages that it's just not possible and that the boy just hurts her. Painful, I'd say. But thankfully most of what the lady 'says' is not understood by the boy. Only through her expression, it's clear for him that he fails to make her happy.

He then concentrates on what she has, instead of what she lacks. She can smell. And it just makes you smile to see how he tries to capture the after-rain smell into his plastic bag. The shows ends with him presenting that gift to her. Impressing her with a few sign language that he learns and giving her a series of still images of him, which when they are flipped, they will make a moving picture of him mouthing "I just wanted to say that I love you". The audience laughed here. ;)

A more serious tone is introduced in "Lonely Planet". About two close friends, one of whom decides to leave Hong Kong, to travel the world before going to Belgium.

After some time, she returns to Hong Kong and stays in her friend's place. The friend eventually decides to quit her job and to start travelling too.

The audience were forced to think about the reasons why these two friends choose to travel. A little clue during the karaoke session might explains about the first girl's reason. She apparently breaks up with her boyfriend. From the way she sings the song. Nice (translated) lyric too. "I know very well who's nice to me and who is not."

Whereas the second girl's reason is just simple like her answer when she's asked in China whether she studies there. Just wonder around and have fun, she cheerfully grins.

This documentary is about three women. The daugher--only her voice is heard--is the one who's holding the videocam documenting her conversation with her mum & grandmum. As well as their activities.

I usually dislike documentaries. But this one...I don't know...there's just a mixture of amusement and sadness when you see it.

Like how the mother is preparing herself to sing in a dinner party. And how after that it is shown that she's rather quiet and refuses to talk to the daughter. And in the later scene, the daughter asks her why she likes to sing and why she doesn't pursue that hobby. The mother is like saying how busy she is when she starts the family. The kind of answer that is meant to be factual, but often makes other person feel awkward. Especially if that other person is the daughter.

And the grandmum who's so self-conscious while being recorded. And how the daughter coaxes her by saying how beautiful the grandmum is & trying to convince her that beauty and age are not correlated.

PS. Why no actual screen shots were taken? Because the Auditorium is too small and I'd definitely need a flash to get a good picture and that would definitely disrupt other audiences. Okay, and I won't want to be banned as I still need to attend as planned: "The Fish, One Shot, and Replay Revenge" later.

At least a 6000-word article!

Because a picture's worth a thousand words. Reached the Goethe Institut last night a bit early to catch the 3 shows (here). The place is small and cozy, nothing unusual, except the walls are adorned with foreign movie posters. Stylish. Since I had some spare time, with my digital camera (brought to steal shots for the 3 shows because I needed better images to accompany a little commentary that I'll do [1] ), I took the following pictures [2]:

Remark: Unhappy with this glass-framed poster. The reflection--even if it's mine, even if it's strategically placed in the middle of the poster--annoys me. Tried to take it from an angle, but it looked even worse.

Remark: No light reflection, but required to touch up the image. The above is after enhancing its sharpness.

Remark: Didn't touch up this image. Dunno what "masai" is. But I like its gentle use of 'layers'. :)

Remark: Didn't touch up this image, either. Will be more satisfied if only the lamps were not reflected in the poster.

Remark: Ditto. No touch up. And who says reading a book is not cool?! Smoking, on the other hand, is not. See, how's the girl scowling?

Remark: Ditto. No touch up. Light reflections again.

PS. [1] The next article will be about the 3 movies (Coffee and Milk, Lonely Planet, and She3). Also about why no photos were taken during the shows.
[2] Flash was disabled. Illumination was sufficient and I didn't want the brilliant light (of the flash) to be relected on the posters.

Friday, April 07, 2006

060406 – Lost (Season 2) Summary / Spoiler.

Previously in Lost, as written here.

060406 Episode (or The One Where The Flashback Scenes Focus on Locke. Heh. Sounds like Friends-ish)

It starts in the beach where Sawyer and Michael see Jin running towards them and a group of hostile people approaching. With clubs on their hand. One of them—the sinister-looking black guy which according to this site, named “Mr. Eko”—single-handedly defeats the unprepared three.

Back to the Hatch, Jack is annoyed with the calm Locke who at any moment has the risk of being shot by Desmond (correction: it’s not a riffle with which Desmond threatens Locke. It’s a gun).

Flashback scene to Locke. In a group meeting (something about anger management class?) and Locke is seen laughing at a girl who’s rambling about her lost of $30. A laugh that makes one of the other participant interested in him. She later introduces herself as Hellen and makes a move about how she likes a bold man (which Locke denies that he is) and how she can wait (for Locke to be bold).

Back to the Hatch, Kate continues crawling the ventilation duct. She escapes from the duct and finds a riffle. She attacks Desmond from behind and in that skirmish, a bullet is shot and hit the computer. Desmond panics and repeatedly mutters, “We’re all gonna die.”

Flashback scene again to Locke. Locke leaves Hellen in her bed. Apparently someone manages to be bold eventually, eh Locke? He is in his car waiting outside a house. His father sneaks inside his car. A brief conversation as Locke bitterly asks about why his father lies to him (for the sake of getting his kidney for transplant). The father advises him to get over it. And to stop watching his house as his presence is not wanted. Ouch. Locke stares blankly as his father leaves him.

Back to the Hatch. Kate tells Desmond that Sayid might be able to repair the computer. She leaves the Hatch using the other door (the one that does not require her to climb up). Jack starts questioning the distressed Desmond. I am a bit lost here. It’s about how 3 years ago, someone named Kelvin, who he's now long dead, brings Desmond to the hatch. Telling him that it’s crucial for after period of time, to key in the numerical codes and to press the execute button. Jack and Locke are equally lost. Desmond points to them to see the Orientation Disc themselves. From a book cabinet, Locke retrieves the Disc.

Back in the Beach. The different beach than the one in the starting episode. Hugo (or is he called Hurley?) remarks to Sayid that he never thinks that they will survive the night. Kate finds Sayid.

Back to Sawyer, Michael, and Jin. They are held in the caged hole in the ground. Sawyer tries to escape with Michael and Jin lift him up. A knife is thrust near his face as a warning. The cage is opened and the same sinister guy who beat them in the beach, drops in a girl. A new character.

Back to the Hatch, Jack and Locke watch the Orientation Disc using a projector. The Hatch is named as “Station 3 – The Swan (okay, so the yin-yang symbol that I thought earlier is actually a swan. Bleah). The organisation, the Dharma Initiative is introduced by a Chinese/Japanese/Korean-looking man. About what it is all about. Plenty experiments (Damnit. I was lost. Especially when it mentions that the organisation covers about zoology as well and the screen shows two polar bears. Recall that there’s one episode in Season 1 about a polar bear). The significance of pressing the code is poorly explained (or just poorly understood). It’s about how every 108 minutes as the ticker indicates, the (execute) button must be pressed after keying-in the correct sequence of codes. And about how there should be two people doing it. The show ends. Locke wants to watch it again (So did I!). Jack leaves Locke alone.

Flashback scene to Locke. He is having a dinner with Hellen. The latter gives him a present because it’s their anniversary after 6-month together. Locke apologizes for not having any gift to her. The present reveals itself to be a key to Hellen’s apartment. Hellen sets a condition: not to go watching his father’s house anymore. Locke accepts.

Back to the caged hole. An introduction is made. The girl’s name is Lucia and she claims to be another survivor of the flight 815 but from the different section of the plane. She claims to survive alone by herself till she is recently captured. Michael asks her whether she sees his kid, Walt. While Sawyer is more concerned about the numbers of “the Others”. Showing his hidden gun, Sawyer tells Lucia about how the Others are going to be surprised.

Back to the Station 3 aka The Swan aka The Hatch, Jack argues with Desmond about how the whole thing is just a sick experiment to see whether he will continue to follow the order about pressing the button. Desmond concentrates in his attempt to repair the computer. He fails. A sudden blackout. Desmond panics. The ticker shows 48 minutes more to go for the next (execute) button to be pressed. He is hurriedly packing and leaving the Hatch. Jack follows him. Locke stays.

Flashback scene to Locke. Locke lies to Hellen. He still spies his father’s house. Hellen finds him in his car outside his father’s place. Locke is accused of being “scared of moving forward”. Hellen asks him to choose between her or his father. Locke hugging her seems a rather inconclusive answer. A goodbye hug or a hug that says “I choose you”?

Back to the Hatch, Kate finds Locke. Sayid and Hurley are awed with the Hatch. Kate and Hurley tries to find the electrical breaker to switch on again the electricity.

Back to the cage. Lucia’s interest about the gun raises Sawyer’s suspicion. Not to mention that he might be annoyed too with Lucia’s irritating question of why the gun is not used earlier. His snappish answer—kinda paraphrased—of “Because I was busy having my face being hit by the club?” injects a little humour in this otherwise tense episode. Sawyer is caught by surprise with a quick punch by Lucia and the gun is taken from him. The same sinister guy takes her out of the cage. A betrayal? Lucia is part of “the Others”. If this other group is indeed the same with the one who kidnaps Walt in the sea.

In the forest, Desmond is seen running away. He falls and Jack catches up with him. Still holding a gun, Jack tells him to stop. Desmond challenges him to shoot. It’s about how Jack could be very right or very wrong (about the whole button pressing issue), but Desmond does not want to be around to find out. Desmond eventually recalls who Jack is. Rather slow, aren’t you, brother? Desmond asks him what happens to the patient (refer to here for some idea about the significance of the patient). Jack in distraught manner answers that he marries her. From Jack’s reaction, Desmond states the obvious that it seems Jack no longer marries her. Desmond leaves Jack alone and continues running. Before that, he reminds Jack about the codes to be keyed in.

Back to the Hatch, the talented Sayid repairs the computer. The breaker is found. The light is switched on. The computer is found working okay (well done, Sayid!) Time is running out. 3 more minutes to go. Locke keys in the codes. He says loudly the number as they’re keyed in. 4, 8, 15, 16. Hurley looks alarmed and starts to warn Locke to stop. Locke testily ignores him and continues with 23 and 32. Hurley knows that the last no is wrong (hey, he’s the one who’s haunted by the cursed numbers) and shrugs that it doesn’t matter, anyway. Jack enters the room. He tells Locke that the last number is 42, not 32. A brief distrust look by Locke, but Jack doesn’t seem to care whether Locke believes him or not. A quick change of mind, Locke decides to believe Jack. He urges Jack to be the one who presses the (execute) button. A heated argument from Jack about why it is so easy for Locke to believe which is equally challenged about why it is so difficult for Jack to believe. Time is running out. Locke points out that Jack actually believes. Why else he returns to the Hatch. Jack looks defeated and presses the button. The ticker shows back to 108 and starts counting down. Locke volunteers to take the ‘first shift’ manning the computer.

To be continued…

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I love LIFE.

Even if she plays a joke on me.

After being impressed by Jadeite’s concise 10-word-or-less (9 words in fact) summary about Chiang Mai compared to other Thai destinations like Bangkok, I’ve decided to go to Chiang Mai. Of course after applying 14-day leave from my boss and using his own words to us earlier in the meeting about how life is not just about working (He’s referring to the tragic death of a 55-year-old Singaporean, 1 of 3 workers killed in a local shipyard on Tuesday morning. The deceased according to the newspaper insisted to work because he told his family that he’s bored to stay at home. He’s resting well now. In peace. Your loved ones will come to accept their loss.)

Now in retrospect, it does sound rather insensitive to have this mixture of contents under such a title, "I love LIFE". Yeah, I’ll find time to berate myself.

Anyway, my boss agreed—I guess he must be impressed that I was listening—and I set to book the air ticket. According to the Rough Guide book that I read, the best months to go to the Northern Thailand are Nov - Mar. Cool seasons. Low average raindrops per day.

Couldn’t get the ticket for Nov.[1] Okay, October then. The raindrops are higher than those of Nov to Mar, but still the lowest compared to the rest. I booked and I got the ticket. 14 days to explore the North. By myself. Let’s see whether I can survive it. Heh.

Last night, when I read the newspaper, I found a number of advertisements about Thailand and there was one where you could get brochures about the country if you send or fax a little form to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Nice. I feel guided. Good sense of timing eh, LIFE? ^_^

But today during lunch time, when I browsed TAT homepage about Chiang Mai, I was dismayed with this finding:

For years, tourists have mistaken Chiang Mai as the northern junction and the base from which they can explore other provinces. The phrase "a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around" was common. Today, tourists are surprised by the fact that there is always something new to discover Chiang Mai. Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes coupled with breathtaking scenery makes Chiang Mai one of Asia's most attractive tourist destinations. Two weeks in Chiang Mai may not be long enough for serious travellers.

Uhm. Two weeks. In Chiang Mai. Not long enough. That’s the joke, huh? And here I am. Thinking to explore the North. Perhaps to limit the trip to the followings:
- Chiang Mai
- Chiang Rai
- Sukhothai

Some trivia:
Chiang Rai is 182 kilometers north of Chiang Mai.
Sukhothai is 298 kilometres south of Chiang Mai.

So tentatively, the route shall be:
Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai – Chiang Mai – Sukhothai – Chiang Mai
(unless there’s a direct way from Chiang Rai to Sukhothai)

Feasible for 14 days? Feel free to comment on this.

PS. [1] This article is a follow up of what I wrote here. That explains why I didn't try to book the air ticket for Dec or Jan - Mar.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

UFO here. UFO there.


Many Unidentified Flying Floating Objects. See their relection on the water? So the boat was rocking. So you couldn't shoot those twinkling little teases on that night sky. So, why not test whether you could reproduce that accidental image using the Night Scene in the situation where you surely couldn't stand still.

Exaggeration aside, it's not a lie. I couldn't identify which ships they were. Couldn't see their names. Too dark. Thus, unidentified. ;)

This picture makes me proud.

Nah, almost.

- Because I aimed to have the handrail captured stretching from the top left to the bottom right corner. (This objective not achieved)

- Because it was snapped on the launch rocking, where one couldn't stand straight. (The picture taken without me being thrown to the water)

- Because Serif PhotoPlus is still needed to touch up the image. Mostly to enhance its contrast and sharpness. (That class of "How to shoot a digital image satisfactorily without having to tweak the picture later" to be attended)


I Could Be Vrong…

Because I was rather distracted while watching “V for Vendetta”. I was trying to find the infamous scene where it’s rumoured that the armpits of Evey (Natalie Portman) stay hairlessly smooth throughout the captive.

Also a bit distracted with my thought about the detention centre where the character V is originated. Remember the flashback scenes from the coroner/doctor’s diary? Where she recalls about how the prisoners in Cell I, II, III and IV are dead. But he of Cell V is still surviving?

Oh, no. Please don’t make this Vertigo/DC’s answer to Marvel’s Weapon X *groaned*

Perhaps this is not in the graphic novel written by Alan Moore? Is that why he refuses to be associated with the show as his name is not mentioned in the credit lines? The cheeky use of the cardinal number which many would then accept as a code-name that refers to an alphabetical letter.

I checked the significance of the detention centre with a friend and I was told that the detention centre is merely a place to test virus and that the V character survives because of the natural selection. And that his superb reflex (I just love how he slashes and makes the knife trails so gracefully – reference to the slaughter scene in the Victoria Station) is a result of vigorous physical training, driven by his need of vengeance.

Of course the following V-talk by V has become the most quoted speech of the show:

V: “This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.”

Evey Hammond: Are you like a crazy person?
A credit ought to be given to Evey. I would have thought under that circumstance, she'd incredulously reply:

Evey Hammond: Vhat the…?! Are you, like, a crazy person?

I like the successful attempt of making a circular reference. Bleah. I do have to search for the right terminology for it. Recall again the flashback scenes from the doctor’s diary? About the emotionless, stoical innmates queue and given an injection? Recall that the exact scene is then repeated during the part where Evey reads the autobiography scribbled on toilet papers by the previous occupant of the cell, named Valerie?

Oh, and the symbolism of fire and rainwater. Opposite element, yet conveying the same message: freedom. For V, it’s an actual freedom from his containment and for Evey, freedom from fear.

Enthralled. Enough said. =)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The past week has been kind to me.

Really. I mean, hey, despite the negative stuff about the issues on April Fools' Day and how Indonesia and Australia seemed to run a campaign against canines, I actually have had a good week.

And may that continue.

I finished reading Anansi Boys. I managed to catch the two-hour premiere of Lost (Season 2). I got the tickets for "GIE", "It's Only Talk" and "Tori/Sorano" delivered to me.

I unwittingly solved the puzzle with a clue of a certain keyword: "elves", leading to "faery", leading to a wrong click that however resulted to The (right) Answer of Who The Chosen One Is.

Vaguely speaking, that is. A potential for a future article. ;)

The week was also closed by a thought-provoking article by Jadeite about Moving On. I wanted to post a comment in that article of her about how moving on is not about forgetting, but it's about accepting. Accepting that what could have been a beautiful dream might have been better staying that way. Just as a dream.

And to accept that although things have gone wrong, it never warrants a court order that you ought to completely forget that other person.

Take this one for example. To repeat about how "elves" led to "faery", I came across this link from one of the blogs that I frequently visit.

I was impressed by that particular photo from that link. Agree that the photo was well taken. But I'm especially impressed because that shadow reminded me of someone who's used to be very important to me. But I know I have moved on. Because the bitterness of the past is no longer there. Only the sweetness of the memory of her lingers.

I read something from that link about the blogger's element being 'fire'. Huh? Ok. Right. But what if...what if the picture were to be given the same shade of fire?

A quick touch up with Serif PhotoPlus 5.5 (Image, Adjust, Gamma), voila! And the result is quite otherworldly hot, isn't it?

I did ask the permission of the owner of the original photo to have the modified photo featured in my blog. Sent the email consisting the modified photo below to her on Sunday afternoon. (Which means that it's not influenced by the poster of "Good Bye Lenin!" No, thank you. Dislike that poster anyway because it fails to portray a son and his mother. More like a brother and a sister.) Read the affirmative reply from the owner of the original photo just now. It's a long story why I opened my email at this kind of hour. Yeah, yeah...another potential for a future article.;)

So, anyway...let me present you:

The Imp

Monday, April 03, 2006

Film Art (020406): Good Bye Lenin!

Click the image to go to the Official SiteYes, could be a spoiler if you intend to catch the show one day. But for those who watched it yesterday in Arts Central, which parts of the show impress you?

One of the amusing parts would be when the mother saw the Coca Cola banner out of the window which makes his son, Alex with the help of his colleague named Denis, soon create a ‘recorded’ live TV news about how Coca Cola is actually the socialists’ invention.

The gripping part (The audience held breath whether she's going to die of 'shock' or she survives the amazing change in her surrounding) is when the mother finally leaves her bed and starts wondering by herself out of the flat. She sees a new neighbour shifting his stuff to the apartment building and observes that he is from West Germany! She is later found by Alex and his sister, Ariane. And in the following night, another “recorded” news tells about how West Germany crumbles and many refuges choose to escape to East Germany.

A lot of lies follow suit.

In the end, however, if my interpretation is correct, the mother knows that Alex is lying to her for her own good.

Recall this: after Alex knows the truth about his lost father (the mother previously admits the failure of the System that makes their family break with the father has to escape to West Germany…and builds his own family there) and as time is running out (the mother experiences the second heart attack—this time, it’s going to be fatal—after spilling the truth to Alex and Ariane), Alex tries to bring his father to meet his mother for one last time.

So Alex leaves the hospital, goes to his father’s home, gets introduced to his younger step brother and sister who share the same hobby with him when he was a kid, that is, to watch a cartoon show called the Sandman. And comes face to face with his father.

They go back to the hospital.

And before Alex goes into the hospital room where his mother stays, it is shown how the mother is arguing with Lara (she is Alex’s sweetheart who is also a nurse).

What the exact argument is is never explicitly told. As Alex is more concerned to let his mother know the “truth” that the nation is no longer separated. Before she passes away.

So he plans one last Lie with the help of his cosmonaut idol, who after German unification works as a taxi driver. The cosmonaut in the ‘recorded’ news is claimed to be the Party Leader and he announces that West Germany is no longer under the influence of capitalism and that they choose the much better and proven system of socialism like in East Germany.

So the Berlin Wall is destroyed (the ‘recorded’ news also shows the clip of it) and how the people of Germany joyfully celebrate it.

Throughout that ‘recorded’ show, the mother looks more into her son than to the TV. As if being grateful that the son is willing to go through so much troubles and lies just to make her happy.

And in the end of the show? She dies.

She dies happy knowing the Truth about German. She dies happy knowing that Alex never knows the Truth that she knows Alex is deceiving her for her own good. A true mother to the end, she won’t disappoint Alex by telling him that she knows he’s lying.

All in all, it’s a show about a lot of well-planned, well-executed and most importantly, well-intended Lies.