Thursday, September 30, 2004

Got to catch Thievery Corporation live last night! Awesome set. Great music that just got better and better as distinct tunes and songs segued into a seamless blend of Middle Eastern, Indian, funk, bossa nova and more, backed with an infectious foot-stompin' beat.

Left as much out of work committments as fatigue. I'd be more appreciative if I hadn't been only getting 4+ hours of sleep each night since Monday, and the sardine-tight crowds and smoky air didn't help either. But it's good music and fine company -- personality goes a long way.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ecotonoha is a project -- to nurture a virtual tree collaboratively, and at the same time contribute to the actual environment to cope with global warming. As you make Ecotonoha's leaves, the virtual tree will grow, and as Ecotonoha grows, real trees will be planted by NEC.
This is one of the most beautiful Flash animations I've ever seen. Stunning simplicity.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I knew The Terminal was going to be fluffy and contrived, which it was. In mitigation, I would never have seen it if not for the "friendly outing" (formerly known as a "date"). On hindsight I'm glad there was the third person, a mutual friend, to keep the moribund conversation chugging along.

Spielberg's cotton candy offering may have been inspired by a real incident, and the truth is far sadder, complex and less palatable to a mass audience. See The Guardian feature: "The Man Who Lost His Past". Also take a look at "Merhan Karimi Nasseri at Charles de Gaulle airport, France, since 1988".
Last Friday morning, just before leaving for work, I suddenly thought of a book (not really a book, but a photocopy of a book). So I went to the cupboard where I knew I'd wedged it more than a year ago when I unpacked my things from Chicago, rummaged a bit, and pulled Dazai Osamu's The Setting Sun (Shayou) out. Somehow that unread novel has been lingering in the back of my mind ever since I failed to complete it for a Japanese Literature class a lifetime ago, but that morning -- just that morning -- felt right for reading it.

I've since finished, but even typing that seems hollow when I don't understand it. Don't understand why the characters behave and think and feel the way they do.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Good stuff from Barcelona, reminescent of Pizzicato Five and blazing a cool trail of their own. Ladies and gents: The Pinker Tones!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Lo! Who is that, running amidst the mini-mall parking lot! It is Strangeknight, hands clutching a reflective halberd! And with an ominous grunt, his voice cometh:

"Brace yourself, oh human speck of dust! I destroy all in my path like a river of pure piranha!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Friday, September 24, 2004

If you've wondered where the smurf came from, it took over the slot on the Medicom website that used to be occupied by the much cooler Kill Bill 2 Bearbrick. I've since replaced it with a new avatar that will not inexplicably morph into something else. But there's a certain novelty to the idea of having my Blogger Profile image change without warning into something wholly unexpected.

btw if you're in the US and you like anime, support Operation Zeta!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

David gave an excellent criticism of my last post: that it implies I expect someone with less education to be somehow less morally upright. This link is, of course, a ridiculous assertion anywhere.

My first reaction was to wonder about the logic of the post. Was that what I really meant? The post says "A, yet B", so does that necessarily mean "not A thus B"?

I am uncomfortable using logic as a defense, nor do I like falling back on the easy excuse that it's the indelible result of the Singapore hegemony of ideas about education here. In short, I admit that bigotry tinged my last post to an extent -- what extent I leave to you to judge from the unedited post below.

That's why I need people like David to help me purge myself of these views. Thank you.

Today, a guy in my camp approached me and asked me to write an essay for his friend for admission to the University of Chicago. Naturally, I turned him down with a vengeance.

What disappointed me the most was that this guy hails from one of the top JCs in this country, yet showed utterly no scruples whatsoever in asking me to be dishonest. Halfway through our brief conversation, he burst out: "But who's going to know?"

Words cannot describe my contempt for this boy.
I had simple plans for this weekend, revolving mainly around the free screenings at the Japanese Association. But other things have cropped up in the meantime. Nothing bad of course. Just lots of reshuffling and hastily composed SMSes. What's life without a modicum of excitement?

Q 1) You are meeting someone for the first time, and you're watching a movie together. What do you pick?

A) Safe Spielberg Hollywood flick The Terminal?

B) Independent Malaysian film The Beautiful Washing Machine?

Date or no date, A is the safest choice. The two people I've asked this say so. My head says so. But I'm stuck on The Beautiful Washing Machine, here for the Malaysian Film Fest. Sunday's the last day.


Q 2a) If a third party comes along, is it still a date?

Q 2b) If your answer to 2a was "No" or an equivalent expression, would you still be bound by dating conventions e.g. a "safe" movie?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Seek her! Hunt her down like heat seeking missile! Be relentless!

Started my Sunday with the Terry Fox Run. 8km at a mostly leisurely jogging pace. Easier than I thought. I still have my doubts about where all the money really goes to though.

Went to the Zouk flea market in the afternoon, and walked out with a used copy of the Pulp Fiction OST. Most of the time I spent there was over whether to buy used Cospa Gundam T-shirts, or bootleg Galaxy Express 999 DVDs. Was surprised at the number of toys and anime-related stuff for sale there but Flea 'n Easy's the wrong place to be shopping for these things.

The Turkish Bazaar was a real letdown. Two tiny tentages dwarfed by the ACM Empress Place.

Dropped by The Arts House on the way back to check out the modern Japanese artists' exhibition Painting For Joy.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I don't think either was great, but I preferred the imagery (some of it was overstretched) and shots of Mango Yellow (Amarelo Manga) to the witty one-liners and musical-chair developments of Breaking Up (Separa��es).

Friday, September 17, 2004

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Japanese Film Festival is just round the corner! I'll probably be at the Japanese Association all of the 25th :p Want to watch the Tora-san movies as well, but haven't decided if I should watch them back-to-back or separately.

(Free movies = long queues. Ugh.)

btw, Midnight Eye has reviews for Taste of Tea (Cha no Aji) and Scoutman (Pain)

And after that's done, there's Insomnia48 which, as faithful readers of my rambling blog such as yourself will recall without difficulty, I've highlighted before on this blog.

Followed by a Friedrich Durrenmatt festival at the Arts House, Oct 9 - 31. Excellent!

First things first -- I'm heading down to the Grand Bazaar at the Asian Civilisations Museum this weekend. Will check out the exhibits too.

Anyone wanna join me? :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

You know, I would love to do a movie where every single time the lovers are together, it's raining. When they meet, when they go out together, when they make love, no matter what. Whenever they're together, it's raining [...] I think also that rain forces people together. In September when it rains, suddenly the people have to stay inside the house, they have to be together, and it becomes more intimate. It gives an atmosphere for more intimate things to happen, whether it's falling in love or in other ways sharing a togetherness. It affects their mood in some way. In the same way, I guess, if you're in a bedroom with a woman to make love and all the bright lights are on, that's one atmosphere. But if you turn it way down, and it's very soft lighting, the atmosphere becomes much more romantic and gentler. The same thing with the sunshine. If you take the sunshine away, it becomes more moody, more confessional. You tend to want to confess more and express your deeper feelings more.
-- Woody Allen, Woody Allen on Woody Allen: In Conversation with Stig Bjorkman

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Saturday night: I like the music, but it's the company that matters the most. Hanging out at odd hours with all of you, talking and chatting over milo beng, teh alia and other kopitiam staples -- those are the best moments of all.

Sunday's just a DJ set away:

The loot today:

Captain Harlock gashapon set, pictured above. The sculpts are excellent, as is the quality. Seams are visible but that's always a problem with gashapon. You'll notice Captain Harlock's laser sabre is missing -- I'm in the process of straightening the darn PVC thing.

Ibuki figure. Another gashapon to keep Taki company (Did I mention I have a thing for female ninja? ^_^; )

Bootleg Gundam shirt -- in the wash now. The back has one of Akitaka Mika's famous MS Girls. A Kampfer, in fact ^_^

Soseki's I Am a Cat and a guide for job interviews. Both picked up from the bargain corner at Kinokuniya Liang Court.

Also picked up a budget reissued volume of Matsumoto Leiji's Queen Emeraldas. That was the best purchase for me, 'cos I missed out on the previous volume. Posted by Hello

Friday, September 10, 2004

I know that other people have social lives of their own (and that those lives are probably far, far more interesting than mine), but I'm still not used to the concept that I have to plan my weekends a week or two in advance so I can "book" people. It feels to me like I'm asking my doctor or my dentist out.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

In order to explain why I find this figure and this one from Chara Hobby 2004 (oh, only the biggest anime/gashapon/action figure/garage kit/model kit convention in Japan) especially funny, I would have to explain Gundam and Azumanga Daioh to you.

I love both series, and I think I know how the connection was made from one to the other. It all has an otaku coolness about it that I love.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Monday, September 06, 2004

Just playing some Astrud Gilberto, on a rainy day.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Am down with food poisoning. Can't go out today. Would be a good time to watch that In The Mood For Love DVD -- except that I returned it to the library yesterday :(

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Along the way, the people of the interior seem to have adopted the attitude that whatever the foreigners can screw up they usually will, so you might as well focus on the few acres of rock and lichen you can control.

It's similar to the conclusion that came out of a big US study earlier this year discounting the role of positive emotions on cancer survival. A relentlessly upbeat attitude has probably been overrated in society.

If you really want arteries that will let you live to 100, you'd do better to follow the example of a Sardinian peasant and respond to everything, good and bad, with the same sort of droll fatalism. As Demurtas put it to me: "A girl once asked me, 'How can I live to be your age?' I told her, 'Don't die too early.'"

--- John Hodgman, Men Who Defy Death

Friday, September 03, 2004

Faithless's new music video for their track I Want More is made up of documentary footage that captures the preparation for and performance of a North Korean mass concert. Children and adults, men and women all leap, run, twist and twirl with robot-like precision, making these mass displays breathtaking and eerie at the same time. See for yourself -- click here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I'd understand Jay Chou (Zhou Jie Lun) better if he didn't slur so much, but he is a very good Chinese R&B singer/songwriter -- the best thing to happen to the moribund Chinese pop scene in a long while. Can't get enough of his evocative Qi Li Xiang. For the lyrics and a translation (with an explanation of the title that shows how horribly mundane English is compared to logographic languages) click here
Managed to pull entry for two into a media screening of Saved! last night. A typical high school comedy with the usual stereotypes:

  • Inept adult figures, especially the parents.

  • A super-popular, pretty, vain but stupid and mean-spirited young blonde who is, of course, the main antagonist. Mandy Moore hams it up in this undemanding role.

  • Stupider sycophants for the antagonist. Usually two.

  • The school outcasts. Usually a duo.

  • A protagonist who gains acceptance into the antagonist's group but later comes to realise that her real friends are the outcasts.

  • Cute guy who becomes an object of contention between the protagonist and antagonist.

  • A feel-good ending. The protagonist gets the cute guy. The social outcasts are vindicated. The antagonist realises she's wrong and is redeemed. The inept adults have their resolution. No-one dies or is grieviously hurt. Everyone lives happily ever after.

Saved! tries to rise above this hackneyed formula by spoofing fundamentalist Christian attitudes and practices throughout, transposing the relevant memes onto the secular American high school environment most moviegoers would be (for better or for worse) familiar with. Classrooms with colourful "Creationism" displays on the noticeboard, a large Jesus Christ billboard as youth project, Christian rock school concerts etc. By exaggerating fundamentalist Christian influences, the movie does take a dig at the tendency in some groups to see Christianity as some quintessence of being American. More importantly, the movie skewers human arrogance and hypocrisy. Religion here is a vehicle, not the target.

But with two-dimensional characters, a cliched narrative and passable dialogue Saved! is really another thin serving of American high school comedy, even if the protagonist is an unwed mother. Of particular note is Macaulay Culkin -- an absolute riot as Mandy Moore's sardonic wheelchair-bound brother and probably the best thing in the movie.