Saturday, October 28, 2006

Nothing much to blog about this week except the usual movies... tv... slacking...

I admit, it's getting a little boring.

I went to watch AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. I don't really know what to make of this movie. I'm not really an environmentalist but the movie does bring out some very compelling points. Basically, the movie is like a filming of one of Al Gore's talks/seminars. He has been going around giving this talk ever since he lost the presidential elections. According to the movie, he says that this has always been one of his concerns ever since before he entered politics. Well, I dunno if it's a coincidence that this movie is coming out just as the US presidential race is starting up once again. I wonder if he is running again. If he is then this movie would give him pretty good publicity. The thing is: If everything in the movie is true, then it's kinda hard to understand why the governments around the world aren't taking a more serious/active stand to combat it. Of course, in the movie, he blames the weak political wills of governments due to the demands of the huge corporations. If you're in the mood for this kind of talk/documentary movie, then give it a shot, it's quite interesting.

I've also finished watching the TV series COMMANDER IN CHIEF. This is an excellent show! Geena Davis is great as the first women American President and the stories are really interesting. The issues they discuss are quite real. I wonder, will Singapore ever accept a female Prime Minister?

Today, I dropped by the X06 event. I was sorely disappointed. It was supposed to be some showcase of the xbox360 & Singapore is like the first stop in Asia. All I can say is... YAWN. It was quite boring and it wasn't very different from any demo booth at the computer fairs every holiday. Singapore really has far to go when it comes to these gaming exhibitions. There's supposed to be a big games convention in September next year. Hope it's infinitely better than this X06. Even the design of the domes was actually quite boring.. From afar, it jsut looks like two boobs...

I've finally confirmed my travel plans. Will be off to the US next week. Quite excited coz of a few reasons:
1. I'm doing a cross country (New York to San Francisco) again. It's been more than 10 yrs since the last time I tried this. This time, I hope to visit more of the southern states in the US.
2. I'll probably be going for a Star Trek 40th anniversary convention. Yep. I'm a trekkie at heart.
3. I'm actually gonna do a Rome stopover before going to New York! This is a first time for me. I've never EVER been to any part of Europe/London. The ticket deal was not bad and allowed me to do a Rome stopover, so I thought 'Why Not?'
4. I'm travelling by KLM. This is the first time I'm flying by KLM. Hope it's not too crappy.

After this trip, I'll really have to settle down and get a job.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sinking of Japan

The trailer for the movie looked quite interesting and furthermore, me being a lover of all things japanese, wanted to see how Japan could possibly be destroyed due to it sinking into the sea. So, I decided to catch the preview today. Boy, did the movie suck.

It was only about 1h 45 mins long, but it felt so much longer than that. In fact, I thought the movie was already ending (or maybe I was hoping it was ending) so I looked at my watch, only to realize it had only been an hour since it started. bummer.

The biggest problem? I think the director couldn't decide what kind of movie he wanted. He didn't know whether he was filming a disaster or romance movie or a documentary or... I dunno what. The movie was a mess. It had so much potential but nothing was really fleshed out. I mean, you have a movie about the total destruction of Japan, we ought to feel sorry for the japanese right? I dunno, but the movie doesn't really make me feel anything at all. They could explore the problems with relocating their citizens to the other countries, but it was touch and go. And the love story... sigh... the love story... it was so fake and unbeleivable.. and LAME. And then you have this scene where the girl tells the guy point blank, "make love to me". I almost laughed out loud coz it was just so out of place and awkward.. Then, guess what, the guy says... "NO"!!! lolz... and proceeds to give some lame reason which I really didn't understand... I wished he'd said "No... coz... I'm sorry, but I've been hiding this from you.. I'm gay!".. Now that would have given a much needed twist to the really boring story.

B-grade movies are fine. They are in a class of their own. But this movie is just plain boring. Don't even consider it. I guess as the saying goes "Go up a mountain frequently enough and you'll meet a tiget"... guess after the recent chain of good and not-too-bad movies, it was time for a bad one.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Like the rest of Singapore, I had to go visit Vivocity as well. Actually, I went there two weeks ago but I was too lazy to transfer the pics from my phone to the computer to blog about it.. until now. heh.

Going to Vivocity is really very convenient for me. Just need to take a feeder bus to the Serangoon MRT and from there, it's barely 30mins via a comfy train ride. Vivocity is really pretty huge, as everyone who has been there would say. But again, like what everyone says, it is basically one of Singapore's many cookie cutter malls. Yeah, they try to bring in special 'brand names', but when you look around, it's pretty much more of the same. Wonder how many more of such similar malls can they build.

The interior is quite nice. But what I really liked was the nice rooftop garden. Although somewhat spoilt by the haze, the scene was still pretty nice. I'm sure Vivocity will make use of this rooftop by holding events here to draw in the crowds.

Of course, I was there to try out the new GV Vivocity. The cinema was not bad, I watched World Trade Centre there. Fairly spacious seats. But the supposed huge screen didn't seem so huge... I thought it wasn't that much different from GV Grand's cinema 6. What I HATED, and I've said this before, is the totally disgusting exit after the movie. This was definitely one of the worst. Not only was it dusty and devoid of any signages, it was a nightmare trying to find my way back to the mall! I ended up going around in circles (with a small crowd of the other cinema-goers) and cutting across a car park just to get back into the mall. Total put-off.

Went to Toys R Us, which they advertised as one of the largest in South East Asia... like real lor. Although the selection was decent, it didn't really feel all that big. What caught my eye was the super SCARY geoffrey the giraffe (the mascot) at the entrance. Now tell me, dun u think it's pretty ghastly? Almost like it's been crucified.

Friday, October 20, 2006

This has been a really slack week. If it weren't for my toenail prob, I would have been on my way to the US by now. Instead, I'm stuck at home, trying to find things to keep myself occupied. Sadly, I appear to be approaching my super-bored-coz-there's-nothing-to-do stage. Well, went to see the podiatrist again yesterday and it seemd to be getting better. So, I might be able to go for my trip next week. Guess I'll have to keep my fingers crossed.

So, what have I been doing?

Firstly, watching TV series. Yep. After SURFACE, I've finished watching PRISON BREAK and am halfway through watching LOST. Quite tiring actually, but it's so much more fun to watch a tv series at one shot rather than wait week after week after week. Prison Break is really really good. The simple premise is how this guy has planned the entire escape from the prison and of course, how he handles the problems that pop up along the way. The characters in the show are pretty interesting... the serial rapist/murderer, the mob boss, the robber, etc, etc. Season 1 was awesome. Now i have to wait for season 2 to be available. I'm seriously considering getting the itunes card so that I can buy the episodes from the itune store. I'll look into that when I visit the US.

Movies. Yep. More movies. This week, I've caught The Prestige, Deathnote and The Guardian. Here are my mini-reviews:

The Prestige: Although there are many good reviews for this movie, I personally think that it's a so-so movie. Fine, the acting might be ok and there are interesting plots but there are two things which I didn't like. (1) I didn't like the direction. There are three time periods in the movie and it was really tough trying to decide which time period was going on because the director just kept switching from one to the other without any obvious markers. It made it worse when all the time periods concern the SAME people! So, everytime there was a scene change, I had to spend a couple of moments to try to figure out which time period it was. I found that quite irritating. (2) I wish there was more magic and less science. And sadder still was the fact that the science they used was kinda lame. I mean.. involving people like Tesla?? A bit far-fetched lor.

Deathnote: Let me first say that I've not read the manga, so I went for the movie without any idea what is was really about. I think the premise is quite interesting, a notebook where anyone whose name is written in it will die. While the whole story was not bad with some interesting twists, I guess I thought there could have been a little more moral conflict about the whole idea of killing criminals to make society safer. I guess that might have made the movie kinda philosophical and heavy-going. The CGI devil was decently done. Nothing too fantastic since CGI nowadays are generally pretty good. Quite a fun movie overall.

The Guardian: This movie is a bout the coast guard rescue team. It stars Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. It's funny. I dunno why Kevin costner seems to like water disaster movies. The movie was quite ok. It's basically made of two parts: the actual rescue events (which made up the start and the end) and the school for the new trainees (which made up the entire middle chunk). I must say that Ashton Kutcher was not bad in the movie. He was definitely trying to break out of his usual goofy roles and I think he succeeded to some extent. Decent movie. Worth watching.

The last thing taking up my time is comics. Been catching up with some of my comics and I started off with the collection of Infinite Crisis. Halfway through right now. Pretty good.

Oh yah, discovered this awesome site yesterday: www. It actually allows us to watch american tv over the net!! It's not prerecorded, just streamed. The connection is not too bad. I tried a few channels and it was quite smooth after the first couple of minutes. Awesome. Don't you just love the internet?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The new Sony Bravia Paint commercial

This is an excellent advert for the Sony LCD TV. It has exploding paint fairworks! Apparently, it's all real, no CGI involved. Take a look.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I wonder if this is how Ronald McDonald's baby will look... Creepy isn't it

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Today was a serious day of vegetating. I decided not to go anywhere today so I basically sat in my comfy recliner and watched TV pretty much the whole day. I bought this TV series 'SURFACE' when I was in Medan so I decided to get down to watching it. It's quite interesting. Basic premise is the discovery of a new species of giant mammals at the bottom of the ocean and how this is linked to the destruction of the world. There's this scientist who kinda discovered them, but her research was taken away by the government in an apparent cover-up. Then there's this guy whose brother was dragged away by the monsters when they were diving. And the last main character is this boy who finds an egg and basically breeds one of the monsters as a pet.

The irritating thing is... I've finished watching all 14 episodes of season 1 but I've found out that NBC has cancelled the series and there won't be a season 2. SIGH. So, I will probably never resolve the cliffhanger. Why do tv companies torture us like this?

Hmm, what next? Have plenty more dvds to watch... might vegetate a few more days! haha...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Toenail Probs again

Went to the Podiatrist again coz the toenail on my big toe was giving me problems again. I tell you... the pain was indescribable. The last time I went, it was a quick snip and I was done. This time round, it was a different podiatrist and she just went at it like doctor frankenstein on his project. Basically, it appears that the nail wasn't growing out well and had started growing in again and there was some inflammation. To add to that, the other side of the nail was also growing wrong. AARGH. She basically took out her tools and snipped and filed away at the nail... with the raw wounds surroundin the nail. It was an experience which I can only describe as being worse than being in a dentist's chair. Yes. It is that bad. I'll be honest. I closed my eyes throughout the whole thing. I wasn't gonna watch her mangle my toe.

Well, at the end of it, I saw bloody bundles of cotton on the table. And my toe was wrapped up tight. Now, I have to go back in a week and it looks like I'm gonna have to postpone my travel plans. Sigh. Ok, I guess the pain is not as bad as before, but it sure feels sore.

To my dear readers: please take care of your toenails. Yes. You'd better.

Movies, movies, movies

Been on a movie-watching blitz since I came back from Indonesia. One a day. Decided to do some mini-reviews instead of the long ones.

This movie could probably be any other disaster movie. The director, Oliver Stone, concentrates more on how the different families deal with the fact that they don't know what has happened to their loved ones. Of course, in the context of the Sep 11 attacks, it makes the whole movie much more real. Although a little slow moving at times, I must say that some moments are pretty heartwrenching. Those moments come from the wives and family members. One thing I didn't really feel was the enormity of the World Trade Centre towers coming down. Guess that's what the director was going for. The human side of the story. Watch only if you need some emotional stimulation. Don't expect special effects fest or action sequences.

Yes, it is inevitable to compare this to Infernal Affairs. After all, it was based on the Hong Kong movie. Jack Nicholson vs Eric Tsang... Jack wins, hands down. He is the epitome of craziness. He has this famous 'act like a rat' scene... hilarious... yet scary. Leonardo Dicaprio vs Tony Leung. I'm gonna go with Tony Leung. I think Tony made the character more conflicted, more sensitive. And his relationship with the Inspector came across so much more personal. Matt Damon vs Andy Lau. I'm gonna have to go with Matt Damon on this. But as far as I am concerned, I loved Mark Wahlberg. He wasn't in the Hong Kong movie. Mark was really good. I loved his foulmouth-ness. He probably never spewed so many vulgarities in a single movie. But the vulgarities were funny. So... hong Kong vs hollywood? Hmm... I am gonna say Hong Kong. Maybe it's coz I watched Infernal Affair first. But I think the characterization was tighter and I especially like the bond Tony Leung had with the inspector. (heh.. kinda strange to say that a Hong Kong movie has better characterization than an american one, considerin that most Hong Kong fare are quite lousy). Go watch (if you are 18 and above). Quite good.

I don't really kknow why I went to watch this one. I'm not a race car fan and I don't really like Will Ferrel. I think it's because (1) the reviews were not crap and (2) I had nothing else to do. lol. Anyway, TN:TBORB is a nonsense show, trying to have a heart/moral. Some of the jokes are quite in your face. You have the gay french guys, the foul-mouth kids, the sexy wife who only goes for winners, etc, etc. But for me, although the entire movie was a so-so, there was one scene which made it all worthwhile. It was basically a knife-in-your-thigh scene. And then how the others tried to take it out.... by twisting it... using another knife... you know what I mean? Hilarious and totally squirmy! So, I guess if you're a race car or Will Ferrel fan, than this movie is for you. Otherwise, maybe you can save you money.

OK, that was my movie marathon for the last three days. Hmm.. maybe I should go watch something today and make it four in four days....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

This is my first time to Medan and only my second time to Indonesia. Took the 8.40am Silkair flight there. The flight was quite uneventful. Actually, I slept most of the way. heh. I had a pretty late nite packing for the trip and ended up sleeping less than 2hrs. Service was not too bad. Must say that the flight attendants were quite cheery... at least they were cheery whenever I was awake lar. heh. Upon arrival, we walked down the gangway to the tarmac. Managed to grab a pic of the plane. It was quite funny, coz the bus we boarded travelled less than 100m to the arrival hall! haha... I think it was probably only about 50m or less. Could've just walked.

Medan is very similar to parts of Malaysia like Penang & Malacca. There aren't many tall buildings and I think there are only a handful of malls. While I was there, I went to the two bigger malls, the famous Sun Plaza and another one which I can't remember the name, but has a Carrefour in it. Sun Plaza is huge mall. It's kinda like Takashimaya mixed with Lucky Plaza. There are upmarket shops but also many small shops selling everything from pirated DVDs to children's toys. Shopping in Medan is quite so-so. I guess if you;re interested in clothes and stuff then it'll probably be a bit cheaper. But since my main interest is electronics, games & videos, Medan's shopping doesn't really appeal to me.

There aren't many sights in Medan. As far as I know, Medan is more of a trading port coz of all the plantations there. I spent a couple of days in Brastagi, about 1.5 hours from Medan. Brastagi is up in the mountains, so it was pretty cooling there. Although I pretty much spent my time in the resort coz of the workshop, I did manage to catch some of the beautiful architecture/structures on my last day. Here are some pics. Apparently, this architecture is influenced by the Batak culture in the highlands. It's really unique. just take a look at the pic of the church on the bottom right.

Grand Mutiara Hotel where the workshop was held. Just look at the beautiful sky. Oh yah, there wasn't any haze in Medan. The haze is in Kalimantan, not Sumatra, where Medan is.

The local marketplace. Plenty of local shoppers and tourists looking for souvenirs.

A monument in the middle of the roundabout of the small town.

A bus stop. If I'm not wrong, the people actually sat INSIDE. Just compare the beautiful designs to our clinical bus stops in Singapore.

Here's the church which I thought was really beautiful. Click to see the really detailed designs on the wall.

When I asked my former boarders from Medan, the one thing they told me to enjoy in Medan is... FOOD! Wow... Medan food is really pretty good. One of the places I went quite often was Taipan. This is a really beautiful chinese restaurant and the food is really really REALLY good. It's really hard to describe yummy food over the blog. If you are ever in Medan, give Taipan a try. It's a MUST.

Decor at the main entrance of Taipan

One last comment about Medan.

It's really interesting (and to some extent, a little disturbing) to see the huge disparity in wealth among the Medanese. There's really a huge gap between the have and the have-nots. You have to be there to really appreciate what I mean. And I guess, I wonder if there really is any way to narrow this gap. I heard stories of how even people holding diplomas end up simply being maids simply coz it's so difficult to find a job there.

In reflection, I wonder if this is happening in Singapore. Of course, there are the rich, not-so-rich, and the poor. The government talks about education & opporunities being the equalizing factors. But I think, even in my middle-class status, I don't really understand what the poorer Singaporeans go through. I plan my trips, buy my psp, ds, ps2, etc... and yet I think there are definitely Singaporeans struggling to make ends meet. I guess, here, it's just not so obvious. But perhaps, I need to get out of my small little ivory tower more.

Leadership Challenge in Medan

Have been very lazy the last two days. Actually, must admit there's no real reason for not updating my blog. So... I'll admit, I've just been super-slacking. :P

Last Thursday, I set off to Medan, Indonesia. It's my second trip to Indonesia. The last one was more than 10 years ago when I brought students to Jakarta. This time round, I was invited to go to Medan in Indonesia to conduct The Leadership Challenge Workshop for teachers in a school there. Although it was quite exciting to get the opportunity, it was also quite scary. Quite a few firsts:
1. It's the first time I'm conducting TLC for more than 70 participants! previously, only had to handle no more than 40 people. So this was quite a challenge - to capture the attention of so many participants!
2. It's the first time I'm conducting TLC for a diverse group of people from different countries. There were Indonesians, Singaporeans, Australians, Filipinos, Americans, Chinese...
3. It's the first time I'm conducting an actual TLC for adults. Previously, when I trained teachers, it was more about how they could use it to mentor student leaders. This time, it was about the teachers' personal leadership development.
4. It's the first time I'm working since I resigned! haha.. didn't expect to work until next year, but hey, when opportunity knocks, open the door, right?

So, with apprehension & excitement, I prepared my materials, reviewed my workshop, packed up and left for Medan.

The workshop was help on 7 Oct in Brastagi (up in some mountain), about 1.5 hours away from Medan itself. On the whole, I think the workshop went quite well, considering it was my first time. It definitely wasn't perfect. I think if I'm seriously going to do more of this, I'm gonna need to really go more in depth and do more reading/research. The participants were a very enthusiastic lot and I might add that they were pretty forgiving too. heh. At the beginning, I was kinda overwhelmed, coz it was really difficult to connect with such a big group. But the eagerness and warmth of the participants really helped. At the end, I think that majority of the participants were able to pick up some tips on how to apply TLC for their own leadership development. The feedback was quite positive. Still, at the end of it all, I wonder if this is something I really want to do in the long term. Something to think about in the next few months.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Back from Medan, Indonesia

Hi, have been in medan the last few days and the net access was not very easy to get, so no updates. Just got back. It's good to be home. :)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Saw this tree on my way to the bus stop... (yes.. I've been quite good in taking more buses & trains nowadays). My bio sucks and I have no idea what this is, but I thought it looked really ugly so I decided to post a pic here.
Went to Funan Centre on Sunday (my weekly pilgrimage). They were filming the chinese talk show ????. Saw Quan Yifeng in action. I know she appears kinda 'dao' in real life, but she really is a very good talk show host. You really can't beat her partnership with Bryan Wong or Kym Ng.
On Saturday, I went back to school and brought back most of my rubbish. What you see here... 3 big boxes and 5 small boxes... are the stuff I've accumulated (and didn't throw away) during my 5.5 yrs in RI. Of course, I would like to believe that my time in RI is not summed up/defined by the things in the boxes. It's certainly more than that... I hope.