Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bad photos, japanese food

Dull Photo
I was sorting through my photos a few days ago when I discovered I had many photos taken of food. All shared one thing in common - terrible photography skills. I have come to the conclusion that I'm just a very bad photographer; especially on food. Most of it are not posted here as they are really really bad. Blurry, yellow effects can be seen on most.

Another thing that most shared in common? Most are photos of Japanese food. I have eaten more japanese food than say, European or Italian food. Sun with Moon, ichiban boshi, akashi, waraku, ton tom, tonkichi, ajitei, Shin Kushiya, and Marutama Ramen are some of the restaurants that I have patronised in the recent past.

Beef. That was delicious

My conclusion is that I really loved japanese food even though it is very expensive. Especially beef. Wagfu beef. But I cannot shared my joy in the food as the photographs I have taken are plain bad.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gackt in another movie?!

Gackt is in another movie other than Moonchild. Frankly I fear the result. That guy can act but...

In other news, gackt has his own myspace. I must be really updated as I just known of ot a few days. I guess he is finally expanding his fanbase outside of japan. When will he have a world tour? (with a stop in singapore!)

And his very own vocaloid. That really made me go O_O Gackt what were you thinking? lol. I suppose it will be nice and fun to make your own songs with gackt's voice. Too bad it's japanese only.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First Medal Since Independency

Singapore has finally won her first medal since 48 years ago. She won 3 - 2 to the South Koreans in which Feng Tian Wei, Li Jia Wei and Wang Yue Gu played impressively.

A sense of déjà vu overcame me when I saw Li Jia Wei struggling with her South Korean counterpart. I had watched the same semifinal 4 years ago where Jia Wei faltered and Singapore missed the medal by a brush of the fingertips. This time round though she had once again lost the single match, her team mate, Feng Tian Wei had won and ensured a silver jade medal at the very least.

I have no table tennis photo to post hence the flag.

The next match versus China will be held on Sunday. There is a sense of irony since the players are all from China. Nevertheless, this is a match that all of Singapore will surely cheer for.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Writings: Heat

Words: 318

He felt as though he was in a horrible sauna with its temperature going out of controlled. Even four hundred and forty four Degree Celsius in the fiery lake of sulphur cannot be worse than this, he thought to himself morosely. What a wretched existent I have.

His back was burned from lying on the rough texture of the sand. If only he could stand. He was too exhausted, both mentally and physically.

The pounding in his head was getting worse. It sounded as though as a team of construction workers were busily hammering away. And try as he might, he couldn’t disregard it. The insistent of construction team to make their noise echo in his head was too hard to ignore. He wanted to scream at them to SHUT THE HELL UP. But his lips were sticking together and he was thirsty.

“Water!” he cried out silently instead.

But there was none.

***
One… Two…
Three… Four...

The red crows flew around in circles above him. That, of course is ridiculous. The only birds in the desert are the vultures. The heat must be getting to me, he thought. And crows are supposed to be black not red.

He wondered if he was imagining. There were shimmering patterns floating in the air with the red crows. No, he amended, it’s the air. Spiralling, swirling, and spinning before him.

They distorted into all sort of shapes and sizes until he could see nothing else but red, red and red.

***

His eyes hurt. The light threatened to penetrate through his eyelids and was seeping red and bloody. He opened them. Immediately a voice admonished him.

“Silly boy! What are you doing, lying on the rooftop during midday? No wonder you fainted!”

All imagination of surviving a day in the desert was gone as the fourteen year old tried to explain to his mother the idea of experiencing novel new things.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Drafts and drafts

It is with no small amount of amusement when I realized that I only started writing again because of stress. Before that I was kind of stuck in limbo; I was busily playing mmorpg and going out that I hardly even read.

So it was both a good and bad thing when inspiration started striking into my brain. Good as I'm writing again! But bad as I was having an exam. Not exactly a good time to write stuff.

In any case I started writing and scribbling all over the place - on the my scheduler, on an old notepad I used for financial calculation, on a free notepad that my school gave, on pieces of paper torn off hastily, and a Carl Junior feedback form. Eventually - when I went to Batam - I bought a nice A5 notebook and began transferring whatever I could to it.

I call it the draft book. Writing manually is like a draft to me. The first time I wrote is a draft draft. The next revision which goes into the draft book is the draft. The final piece which I type on the computer is the complete piece. I do understand that this way of writing is extremely time-consuming but it's how I work. Ultimately I hope I improved enough that I can write on the draft book immediately.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A walk to the unusual

"Visit the zoo. It's one of the best in the world. Go cycling to Pulau Ubin. Eat Chilly crab. Have roti prata at Jalan Kayu. Walk through the CBD. Walk through Chinatown. Walk down Serangoon road on a weekend. Walk through the trails at Bukit Timah Reserve. Take the bungee jump at Clarke Quay. Check out the Armenian church, and the Mariamman temple. Take a trek trough Labrador Park. Walk around in MacRitchie reservoir in the morning. Visit the Times bookstore in Vivo City. Actually there are tons of things to do......and blowing money at Sentosa and Orchard road are not among them." - Soham Pablo, Life and other wierd things

I got this from the blog of an expat who lived in Singapore over the period of 1996 to 1997 and 2007 to 2008. He had a gripping post on Singapore's flaws and positive points.

As locals, we always complained that Singapore is mundane and drab. Yet, most Singaporeans are unlikely to have visited most of the places in this short extract. I certainly did not for all the years I had lived here.

fullerton04

Instead of lamenting on how the shopping malls in Singapore are homogeneous, we should visit the little nooks of our country. Take the treetop walk at MacRitchie Reservoir, take photos at fullerton hotel, visit the temples... We should move out of our comfort zones of air-conditioned shopping malls.

We can grumble about our homeland or we can take a step and make our lives more exciting.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Resident Tourist

Ever felt like you don't fit in Singapore? Even though you loved the island with all its little fleet of ERP and chopping seats? Read The Resident Tourist by Troy Chin. This is a comic about the journey that artist himself went through. I personally find the comic to be thought provoking - why do we stay or leave singapore? - and humorous.

One of the issue that The Resident Tourist touches on is the perception in Singapore that art doesn't sell. You can't work as an artist - music, art, writing or theater - in Singapore simply because no one will care or pay for your effort. Is this a self-fulling prophecy? Is it because of this view that art ultimately does not sell that disheartened Singaporeans leave the country and beyond?

This, I believe are leftovers from the period where Lee Kuan Yew had the mantle of power. People are encouraged to study science and maths - logical subjects - that will enable a good and stable job. Those people became parents and grandparents and passed this view to their children and grandchildren. This ends up perpetuating the fatalistic view of Art = No good.

The Resident Tourist

That of course leads to a situation where local talents in all arts industry are not fully developed. Take the music industry for example; our most famous singer Stefanie Sun established herself overseas first before she was even known in Singapore. The same goes for JJ Lin, Ah Do and others in the arts or writing industry.

Foo Swee Chin (or FSc as she is more commonly known), is one artist who has left Singapore for Japan to nurture her art (and where most of her fan base is). Her nightmarish gothic style won her critical acclaim overseas but made little splash in Singapore. Had she stayed in Singapore, she could have found few support for her work. As a matter of fact, it was only in recent years that more venues (Mugen etc) for creative work have appeared. Despite that, we still do not aid those artists; it seemed that only those who have gotten recognition overseas are deemed worthy of our attention. This indicates a serious problem of how we manage and groom talents.

I do believe that if this cycle continues, more Singaporean will just want to migrate. After all, there is no real culture of our own. Nothing that will make us stay. Our ensemble of big production local films and plays are pathetic; our mega play The Forbidden Palace is a pale imitation of a world class play the likes of Oliver Twist.

I do not have any viable solution. What I do know however is we need support our artists. The MDA can and should do more instead of encouraging safe and uncreative failures.

The Resident Tourist Part 1 and 2 can be purchased for $10 each at Ani-Play, Sunshine Plaza. Alternatively you can read online but do support the artist by buying a hard copy.

Disclaimer: This post is a whole lot of bull by the author. :D

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Food Review: Astons Specialties

I had dinner at Astons Specialties after watching The Lousy Movie that Made Us Face Vaulted today with my BF.

As we went in there quite early, there wasn't any queue. Thanks god.

Food
There wasn't much of a difference between the pepper steak (medium) and the prime sirloin (medium) apart from the sauces. Nevertheless, the steak was well grilled with juicy lovely pink in the middle. I prefer eating it without the mushroom sauce provided for the sirloin though. The sauce overpowered the taste of the steak instead of complementing it. The size of the steak was also smaller than I expected but the taste certainly made up for it.

You can choose your two side dishes. The Mash Potato taste like it was from instant packets (though the sauce was alright) and I recommend people to not order the pasta salad. It was horrible.

Price
Reasonable at 11.90 for the prime sirloin. Other dishes have lower prices. However I find the 'Includes Two Side Dishes' description rather misleading. There are no service charge as well. Only the dreary GST.

Ambiance
Not exactly great. The tables are squeezed to maximize the usage and it was really uncomfortable to be seated so closely with other people. I never went to the outdoor/smoking section so I can't give a comment on that.

Service
The staff seemed to be confused as to the role they are doing; are they still training the staff? I even have a staff who send the two bowls of soup to my table by mistake.

Rating: 7/10

Astons Specialties, Level 4, The Cathay

Movie Review: The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

*warning for some spoilers

When I stepped into the cinema, I wasn't expecting much. Perhaps a somehow coherent plot and entertainment. Well, I did get mindless entertainment - and a plot with so much holes that you can walk through it.

While I liked the CG in the show, it was both the highlight and the down point of the show. Seeing Jet Li in CG 80% of the time is so not worth it even if the CG was good. There are no spectacular fighting scenes and he only appears at the front and end of the movie.

I find it ridiculous that Jet Li, an emperor who lived 2000 years ago can somehow understand english. And how on earth does Michelle Yeo's character speak such good english? Her english was so good that she even casted her spells in english. Back in 1946, most chinese, except those who were privileged, were not educated in english.

The whole plot of this commander wanting to raise Jet Li to conquer the world is plain crap. Back then, there was a civil war in china. So how did this man manage to get soldiers to train? How on earth did the China's government not notice anything? And the most nonsensical part is how those same soldiers did not show any hesitation or fear when a flying three headed (western) dragon fly over them.

Oh and the flying dragon. As I recall, the emperor was chinese. So why does he morph into a WESTERN dragon?! Western and Chinese views of a dragon appearance differ greatly. Apart from 3 headed dragons, why did Yeti even appear - and make some silly goal signs - in the movie? It seemed to me that the producer are trying their best to plant in some action and deux de machine to excuse some part of the plot - if there was one.

No amount of flying can make this movie good.

Also, General Ming was torn apart by 5 horses(五馬分屍). It was hilarious to see his revived form with all his limbs but his left hand intact. And considering that those who died and buried under the wall are enemies of the emperor, why did they follow General Ming's orders? How did they even know who he was? These are some of the many plot holes in the movie.

Finally, they changed the actress - or rather the actress didn't want to act in the movie - for the female lead. On hindsight, that should have indicate to me that the movie was going to be bad. There was simply no chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello.

Conclusion: It sucks. If you have some knowledge of chinese history, don't watch it. If you want a good movie with plot, don't watch either. Only die-hard fans of the Mummy series and those seeking for mindless entertainment should watch it.

Rating: 2.5/10