Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Must be due to the last-minute shopping of Christmas presents. Yes, that's it. That's what the movie "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is about.

Heh. Like the above image of the terrified Santa Claus. (The link includes another link to the poem titled "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore that consists the name of Santa's reindeer. No, Rudolph ain't mentioned.)

Talking about Santa, the comic Non Sequitur also 'exploits' the character. I remember once reading a series of Non Sequitur about 'Santa Dude'. It's about Santa going to Hollywood incognito--he donned his usual costume with an addition of sunglasses--to find out why there were more bad children than good ones. He's greeted something like "Hey, it's Santa, dude!" and eventually dubbed as 'Santa Dude'.

The following comic is not about 'Santa Dude', but it sure brings the story to mind. The image copied & cropped from this Non Sequitur page.

Wish you all a Happy Holiday Season. There's no Tiny Tim here but I'd like to quote his line "God bless us, everyone!".

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Different Seasons

‘Tis the season to be…different. I guess the King of Horror, Stephen King might have thought that way when he wrote Different Seasons. The genre is not horror, but surprisingly it is a very much pleasant to read.

The book is a collection of four novellas: “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, “Apt Pupil”, “The Body”, and “The Breathing Method. They are respectively subtitled based on the four seasons namely Hope Springs Eternal, Summer of Corruption, Fall from Innocence, and A Winter’s Tale.

The first three stories led to the movies: “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Apt Pupil” and “Stand By Me”.

If that is not impressive, I don’t know what is. Okay, so I am a fan. But I still retain enough objectivity to say “The Breathing Method” doesn’t take my breath away. It’s supposed to be a weird tale that achieves its objective too well. It’s weird and I don’t like it.

In contrast, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” is a story that inspires. I watched the movie version before I read the novella and I can’t agree more with the show tagline “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

Imagine you’re accused wrongly & sentenced to a jail where the worst trashes of the society were locked. Imagine the jail’s administrator was equally bad. How would you cope? Will you sink in despair or will you sustain a belief that things would eventually be better?

The main character, Andy Dufresne chose the later. He was determined not to let the prison dampen his spirit. Utilizing his knowledge (no, he didn’t have a prison blueprint tattooed on his body like Michael Scofield in the TV series Prison Break), he manipulated the prison’s guards to protect him. He was a banker before he was a convict. His financial expertise was needed and in one case, abused by the jail warden.

Oh sure, the story has a happy ending: Andy managed to escape. But how he did it and perhaps how long he took to do it—now, that is why you ought to read this novella!

Although enjoyable to read, the other two novellas, “Apt Pupil” and “The Body” were not that impressive. The former involves a psychological blackmail between an old Nazi commandant and a teenager. Witness how the role of a victim switched. “The Body” was about four boys' quest in trying to locate a corpse of a missing boy.

The two stories are credible. Reading them prompt you to ponder that such a tale is very possible to happen in real world. That by itself is something fresh, something new, something that you don’t expect from Stephen King.

The Hill of Peace, The Sea of Mist (@Mae Hong Son: Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu)

This is to follow up to Pai post which hinted about the beauty of Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, Mae Hong Son.

1. Trekking my way up to the temple through a misty path with a little misgiving that I might be lost. I had my fair share getting lost during the trip. Not that I complain, mind you.

2. Phew. I was on the right direction.

3. Guan Yin?

4. It was Sunday & there were a lot of people visiting the temple. They were given a bouquet which would be placed by worshippers near any of the Buddha statues--

5. --after which, the monks would retrieve them back for next worshippers to use.

6. Oh yes, I'm proud of this photo. Religion & technology in such a close proximity. ;)

Photo 7-12: Ineffable scenery. Or perhaps, I'm just too lazy to describe each photo. Love the mist.

13. Still at Doi Kong Mu hill, I hiked up to one solitary temple.

14. On my way up.

15. Jatayu or Garuda or ?

16. Can't comment. Undecided whether the door is supposed to represent a duality of good and evil or whether a fresh coat of paint is what the door needs.

17. Can't comment either. Intrigued with the long-haired lady in gold.

18. On my way down where I would meet the dogs earlier mentioned in this article.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lonely Road

Nice lyric. I don't recognize the song "Lonely Road", though. Now the above photo (taken in Singapore, not in Chiang Mai / Pai / Mae Hong Son. Am I that predictable?) is indeed about a lonely road (I counted only one or two cars at one time) just after the rain yesterday.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Entry prohibited to women (at Wat Buppharam, Chiang Mai)

and men, and all those without the padlock keys.

What's the story behind the highly secured well? Exercise your creativity, weave a tale why the well is guarded (the opening is barricaded, the door twice locked & chained). However, try not to be influenced by the well in the anime, InuYasha or the horror movie, Ring.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Bah, humbug!"

Received an email that started with "A beautiful story....makes you understand that everything happens for a reason." It's about a tablecloth. Beautiful indeed at least till the end part of "True Story - submitted by..." which triggered my automatic response of "True, eh?"

According to the link above, it's unproven--neither true nor false. I reckon if I were to forward the story to others, I'd substitute 'True' with 'Unproven'. Yeah, I think I'll do that.

Thank God It's Over (TGIO)

Attended the TGIO party last Saturday at Earshot Cafe.

Organized by the two MLs (Municipal Liaison): rozen and sarahcoldheart, the programme included reading excerpt of novels, participating in the NaNoWriMo not-so-trivial trivia quiz & announcing the winners for forum activity (who posted the most--the winner is halfcrazed, who could give the most interesting explanation about their user names--ellimist3, and who could give the best alternative words for the acronym TGIO--celia141). It's fun.

There were 19 of us: AikiChaos, avalon182, bruise_d, celia141, Chiquit, eatyourgreens, ellimist3, Ganoidyn, halfcrazed, jeremiahadolpher, kuaizi, nerwenfaelvirin, ravensilvers, red265, rozen, samjo, sarahcoldheart, and sunlitstranger.

Chiquit asked me whether all were students (I'm flattered. Heh). You've got to see her look of relief when I regretfully told her that I work. I guess she must have felt out of place as the majority were still schooling.

Stubborn flu mixed with work proved to be an ingredient for ensuring me to snap lousy photos. Poor timing, bad angle, shaken arm--you name the excuses. Bleah. So much for trying to post pictures like this 8@Earshot Cafe article.

Anyway, let's see how Singapore perform this year compared to last year. Impressive, isn't it? ^_^"

185 WriMos with Singapore as Hometown
235 affiliated to Singapore (includes above)
28 winners
Singapore came 105 out of 271 regions in the world with a total of 783,344 words.

192 WriMos with Singapore as Hometown
244 affiliated to Singapore (includes above)
35 winners (official) + 1 (unofficial)
Singapore comes 105 out of 304 regions in the world (official) with a total of 2,501,447 words. If the unofficial winner is included, Singapore would be in the 101st rank with a total of 2,551,493 words beating "Iowa::Elsewhere".

The unofficial winner was caramelmermaid. She did not manage to validate her word count on time. Couldn't blame her as she just joined this year. Congrats nevertheless! You know you did it. We know you did it.

And here are the screenshots (nabbed from here) of the 35 official winners from Singapore.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Battle of Wits

Remove the 'A' and it becomes a book title. Watched the show to reward myself for completing NaNoWriMo 2006. Bad decision. The air-con inside the cinema was killing me even though I was wearing a sweater.

Never heard about Mohist or Mozi till I saw the movie. Eagerly checked the external link that Wikipedia provides: Full text of the Mozi (Chinese with English translation). Browsed the list & tried to read 'Book 14'. Dang! No translation yet.

Book 14
- Fortification of the City Gate
- Defence against Attack from an Elevation
- Defence against Attack with Ladders
- Preparation against Inundation
- Preparation against a Sally
- Preparation against Tunnelling
- Defence against Ant-Rush

Interesting to note that they don't have a section about 'Preparation against Aerial Warfare'.

PS. the above screenshot was snapped from the official site which its 'English version' leads to a page still written in Chinese. Sigh. Touch-up keywords: crop & negative.