Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Closeminded Singaporeans

I recently purchased a coupla jazz CDs ... Shanghai Jazz .. 3 Shanghainese ladies, singing classic Chinese tunes. All arranged in a fusion of western styled Jazz musical arrangements and singing style. Very cool. This caucasian conceptualized and produced the CD.

I decided to play the disk in the jazz cafe last night cos I was so sure customers would enjoy it. Less than 1 and a 1/2 songs later, a table of 3 young women asked my waitress over and requested the CD be changed. Hmmm .... they said - we're not in the mood for such old tunes and we don't like these kind of music, please change the CD.

I changed it to the Ella & Louis Cd which was recorded in the 1950s and they stopped complaining. Shit this recording is decades older than the one i just played and they didn't complain?? If it is not because of the age of the recording, or the style ... then the only thing different is .. the language ...


Sigh .... hopes for the next generation .... Dashed .....

Update: (29 Sep 2005)
Since people are asking. The CDs are "High Society: Shanghai Divas" and "High Society presents Shanghai Jazz". I purchased them from That CD Shop, located at Pacific Plaza (opp. Lido, Shaw Tower). They said they were the only ones who carry them. Not cheap at $29.90 each, but they are HDCD ... nice especially if u have a good sound system. :)

Be with Me - 88%

Be with Me is Mr Eric Khoo's latest work. His previous work 12 storeys, was not exactly my cup of tea. I thought it was aimless and too pretentious. This new work from him though was sincere and touching, and he has Theresa Chan to thank for this. Most of the attention and marketing coverage of this film was for the lesbian part of the story, which ironically, was not the bane of the movie and is also the lesser tale. Another story is of a fat fellow who is secretly in love with a beautiful woman. And there's another story that is weaved into the movie was of an old man who lost his wife.

But the strength of the movie lies in Theresa Chan's tale, the woman who is both blind and deaf. The other 3 stories were there to offer different perspectives on the topic of love, but none were as compelling as Theresa's tale. I guess in that aspect, you could see the difference between a story inspired by a true story, and the stories that were made up. Theresa's life was inspiring, and the fact that she was basically communicating with touch and her senses from the nose, makes it even more incredible. This is a woman, who has accomplished much more than many abled people, but does not feel in anyway disadvantaged. There's a scene which described her visiting India, and being told that there are many people out there living on the streets with no foods. Then she mentioned how fortunate she is to have experienced so much more than most. We have much to learn from this woman.

Production value was good. It didn't drag and though it is an "art" movie, it managed pretty well without being too wannabe. This is a movie that found a nice balance between being artistic and also being commercial at the same time. The movie stands on its on and the topic is fresh and original. Kudos to Eric Khoo who really outdone himself. This has become one of my favorite Singaporean made movie, and considering that I am not a fan of his previous works, this says alot.

The movie ends its run this week. Don't miss it!

The Myth - 69%

Mr Jackie Chan is my hero. I watched almost every one of his movies, and the thing that shone in his every movie - his personality and his enthusiasm. Can I say that, almost every film that he shoots, and starred in, he's playing himself? He does not become Wong Fei Hong in Drunken Master, he does not become Jack in the Myth either. The characters become Jackie Chan. And in his latest work, Jackie Chan plays Jack, an archeologist who stumbles upon his past life in the form of a General, who falls in love with the emperor's concubine.

Things that didn't work are listed as follows:
- Jackie forcing a scene where he goes to show his capability (or incapability) at English. It always feels like he's reading lines. Super unnatural
- The Indian woman? What the hell was her for? She was attractive yes, but she was awkward. And the dance sequences?? Her dresses?? What were they thinking?
- The stones. They shouldn't have tried to even explain it or brought it back to the lab. It should have remained a mystery.
- The cheesiness feel throughout the film ... Argh ...

The story stumbles and the only saving grace was Jackie's actions scenes. Of special mention was the scene with the rat glue belt system, the sequence was ingenious.

But Jackie's charm and the action scenes ultimately could not outweigh the bad points throughout the show. What a pity. I really wish Jackie would make a good action flick, before he retires - and from the looks of the lines on his face, time is running out.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Suing Online or Offline

Last week, there was a headline article on the front page of Straits Times that addresses the recent debacle about 2 bloggers who were sued for sedition. Government's stand: Online or Offline, if you fan unrest and discord among the communities, you will be punished. People from left and ring wing all have their views.

Question is, were there evidence that discord and unrest were caused by those remarks of the bloggers? Their "remarks" probably were only brought to light because of the trial. The fact is, there were no fighting or unrest in the community (or at least on the large scale) caused by whatever racists remarks they made. So technically, they did not actually break the law - they were sued in expectations that their remarks will cause unrest. Isn't this prejudice in itself? (Brings to mind "Precrime"? Minority Report?) The fact that this lawsuit has brought incredible reactions from the community and certainly much more response (and dare I say "unrest" among the blogging community?) than the accused's remarks makes me wonder - who's causing more unrest and disturbances among the community? The government or the sued bloggers?

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Brothers Grimm -70%

Ok .. this movie has garnered pretty bad reviews everywhere. I being a fan of Terry Gillian's previous works (Brazil, 12 Monkeys), was really looking forward to this, and thus was pretty surprised at all these negative reviews. So with an open heart, here I go for the show.

Story is about, how 2 brothers Jacob (Jack?) Grimm and Whilhem Grimm, (played by Heath Ledger and Matt Damon respectively) go around towns and villages, and pretending to exorcize the evils there ... for a fee. Well, we really only see them do 1 village, and then they were caught by the French occupiers who doesn't believe in such mambo jumbo. The fact is, the brothers themselves don't either, until they come face to face with the real thing.

What works in this film are the magnificent sets and the relatively good performances by the actors (except for a little quip I have with Matt Damon).

What I do find missing is what I loved in previous Terry Gillian's works - imagination and a sense of awe. The whole experience was rather grim, and not very inspiring. The moments that were inserted as references to the fairy tales were not very witty, and seems to have been placed there for the sake of being. I felt like I was watching a darker, live action version of "Shrek". The humor in the film, never amounted to more than a cackle. And the bone I had with Matt Damon was his rather lousy attempt at a British accent. I watched this film with a British friend, and she said his accent was not consistent, switching from a Northern to Southern accent, which goes to show that he was not a "local". The story was rather inconsistent as well, and certain parts were not properly explained (whatever happened to the beans? or didn't? How about why the father jumped off the tower window with that mirror?? And the link with the Ginger bread man there??)

Hmm ... actually before writing this review, I wanted to say this movie was reasonable, and rather entertaining. But halfway through writing this critic, I realised there seemed more flaws than good. Well, I guess this movie was more of a mixed bag - you will find both what you like, and what you don't in this film.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wet Dream ...

Got the weirdest dream i had in a long time .... or any dream for that matter. I hadn't had dreams for a long while ... but this one's bizarre ...

In the dream, it was mostly night ... We're in a neighbourhood .. sorta like those US houses that clobber together in a given plot of land ... think E.T. .... anyways .. then there's also a school .. which obviously was empty at night ... but there's like a group of 3 or 4 of us out there ... trying to track down a creature ... sorta like those u see in the resident evil movies .... We're like in those futuristic military uniforms with heavy weapons .... but other than the monster i was worrying about, there was another concern ... I needed to pee ... and throughout the dream, i was trying to look for a place/ a corner ... or wherever .. so that i could pee .. without the monster having a chance to pounce on me ...

so i was going to the toilet (in the dream), and looking for a cubicle ... where it might make it more difficult for the monster to attack me due to the space, and I would have ample time to switch from peeing mode to shooting mode ... but then i figured the space might constrain my movements too .. so I was thinking of looking for a alleyway .. where i could back against the wall .. and pee straight onto the streets .. so i could see all the things in front of me and still have time for me to jump back into action mode.... But then the monster could still attack from the top ... and then i keep thinking .. while the pee was just getting too hard to hold ...

Well, of course .. the natural way was to .. end the dream and just head to the toilet ... but it was like .. i wanted to stay in the dream cos it was so cool to be where I was ... just like in a movie and I like'd to see how it'd turn out ... But it does makes u wonder ... don't those guys ever pee in the Resident evil movies .. or Alien ... or Terminator .... or ...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Service Level in Singapore??

PM Lee recently talked about the poor service level in Singapore, and I couldn't agree more. So just as usual, when the PM says IT, IT becomes the truth in Singapore, and all the media and people start discussing it like it is a newly discovered gospel. Man ... people (like me!!) have been lamenting about it for ages (Just ask those "quitters" who have left Singapore!! Well maybe not the main reason they left, but I am sure it certainly contributed ;P hehehhe) ....

So the recent talks on the media (specifically, a certain newspaper that sounds like "Ass Tee") was where do we learn from? Japan was cited, Hong Kong was cited, Korea, Thailand etc. They went into analysis of how different the level of services were offered, and even characterizes them. Like Thailand's service is like these, and Japanese are like that etc. Then they asked "What should Singapore's own style of service be?? If the attitude is how to create a service level that is unique to Singapore, I say we are just screwing ourselves once again. What is this problem with our people??? Trying to reinvent the wheel again??? Even with service level??? We are behind every cited country above in service level and we wanna talk about reinventing the wheel?? WTF!!? Maybe we should start by acknowledging our weakness, and learn from the leaders in these aspects! Then other than the good countries, we also put in the bad examples?? Why?? To make ourselves feel better?? Geeze!!!

And the article written, not just praises but also finds the flaws in the each of the country's own brand of service. So let's look at the criticism on Hong Kong's customer service - "Overservice", "Those smiles and all that attention - sometimes it feels a bit too fake, like they do not really mean it". What the hell?? Am I hearing it wrong?? Are Singaporeans so used to bad service, that when they do get it, they think it is overdone??? Would you rather have "Eh, Allo, What you want?" over "Hello, Good afternoon, How may I help you?". If the attitude of humility is not adopted among Singaporeans, always finding excuses for themselves, we will never ever improve!!!

What is Singaporean's main obstacles?? Our Ego! We are so bloody used to the Government pouring praises of our "great" our nation are, we refuse to admit our mistakes. And even when it comes down to talking about flaws, we must draw in some bad examples along so as to "pat ourselves on the back" and feel that "we're not that bad lah". Hey Wake up Singaporeans, we are pretty damn bad, and we should start with that angle so we can be more critical of ourselves, and thus change for the better. Drop the ego, admit the wrongs, and change for the better. And that goes with not just the people providing the service, but the people who are receiving it too. We are a rude nation, and we are ugly. We should stop finding excuses, and stop using "buts". If we don't look at our own behavior and improve, we should not expect courtesy from either side of the fences -customers and the service provider. The mentality has to change, and it everyone's job for the the better of our country.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ipod Nano .... the size of my brain

I have given in to temptation ....
Forgive me for I have once again hit the "Buy now!" button.
Thank you apple for answering my prayers for a color screen, jog-able, slim ipod

Sim Wong Hoo must be shaking in fear now ....

And yes .. there is a black one too ...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Internet Banking In Singapore SUCKS

I have put up with Singapore's lousy internet banking services for way too long.

Why does it have to fucking generate a fucking TAC # to your bloody cellphone in order to add a fucking Payee to your account!!??

Why internet banking has to be activated via a fucking ATM when it is Internet banking??!?! Or through a fucking form that you MUST MAIL, and not fax, not email .. and u can't even apply for it fucking online!! .. Then why call it Online banking!?!?!? WTF FUCK!?!??

Why do u have to fill up a fucking form to authorize a change of limit in your transferring of funds to and from your accounts??? Why go thru that when I can fucking log into my internet account securely!??! What is the fucking security for the internet banking login then???? And the form, HAVE TO BE MAILED??!!? NO FAX, NO email, NO other faster means?!?!? .. What's the fucking point of having internet banking??

Why do i fucking have to reset my password by heading to a ATM by mail, and not via the fucking internet?!?! Heard of email? Can't they fucking generate a random password to my personal email!!? Why do i have to fill up another FUCKING FORM??

What the FUCK are the banks obsession with forms when they want to move things online?!??! Fucking use their brain!?!? Learn from how the US banks (try out citibank man!) do it man and don't try to fucking reinvent the wheel and make a bloody mess out of it!! ...WORK SMART!!!! ... FUCKIN SHIT

Save New Orleans

Dear All Readers,

I am sure you have all heard about the disaster that has befallen New Orleans. I am very sad to see it happen as I've been there once in year 2000 and I love that city. It was my most memorable city visit in US while I was there for 6 years. I still find it hard to believe that the entire French Quarter is now destroyed. Death toll are up to at least 10,000 now.

Please do your part to help. Pray ... whatever ....

or you could donate to Red Cross as I did. Thanks!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Elite? Essence? 精英?精华?

I am writing in response to the recent Saturday Straits Times Insight article “Who’s afraid of Chinese Poetry?” It was an article that reached into me on multiple levels, as I love the Chinese Language deeply. One part of the article talked about the differences between “jing hua” and “jing ying”, and it got me thinking a lot about my own experience in both languages and my observations with the Chinese standards of Singapore. PM Lee mentioned that “the best is yet to come” and cited Mr Lim, a 31 year old businessman as an example of the "new generation" of Singaporeans who will excel in both languages. But Mr Lim do not represent what Mr Jack Neo said was a disappearing group of Chinese who are not just proficient in Business Chinese only, but proficient in Chinese Language on the whole. I disagree with PM Lee that the best is yet to come. I personally feel that the “best” will never hit the critical mass as what we saw in the previous generations. Here are my thoughts, in Mandarin:

这海峡时报所写的文章,给于我的感觉, 好似在为那些中文水平较低的“精英分子”,讨一个借口来反映新加坡的中文程度有“进步”的趋向。其实实际情况并非这报道以及李总理所说的乐观。梁智强说“精英”只适属所受英文教育者,而“精华”才适于其中文教育者用。李总理说他不同意这样的说法,还说“好戏还在后头”。总理也指出了31岁的林先生为这新一代的新加坡生意人,不仅能听,说,读,还能写商业华文。但总理不了解,林先生的出发点是从商,而不是因为他热爱中文。梁智强所称的“精华”为那些热爱中文以及中华文化者。中文及中华文化是息息相关的,一个人不能说只要已英语来学中华历史,就能完全掌握那中华历史的精粹。相同的,一个人单单为了从商的角度而学习中文,是无法体会到那中华文学的奥秒。在我所看得到的新加坡中文程度来说,只有每况愈下的趋势,而不是“好戏还在后头”。一下是些例子:
1)933 是新加坡人最多人收听的电台,虽然这是个中文电台,但那些DJ们所运用的中文都穿插了许多“不合格”的新加坡“中文”(Sing-darin?)。有一个八卦新闻的单元,就是已这“新加坡式”(变质)的中文,通过一个叫“不小心小姐”的人物来报道。这种节目在不受观众反对的情况下出现,只显示了这社会对中文程度大跌的容忍程度,已到达了一个令人失望的阶段。
2)新加坡社会仍把英文放在较为重要的地位。虽然这是作为一个多种族社会所必要的,但也很显然的,我们10年来推广“讲华语”运动的进度,未及一个“讲“好”英语” 运动的来的强。也许我国的政府觉得只要能讲华语,能做生意,不管是标准或不标准都不重要?
5)新加坡电视台中有好中文的艺人,多数都是上一辈(陈树辰,黄文永,向云 等),或是外国“进口”的(权怡凤,郭亮),新一代本地艺人有中文好的(锺琴,欧菁仙),却是寥寥无几。


Red Eye - 84%

So here's Wes Craven, departing from his usual horror fair, treating us to a nice little thriller called "Red Eye". I love the simple set up of the film, having most of the action in the confines of an airplane. And it never seemed boring. The intensity (and the chemistry) between Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy was great. Rachel McAdams shone through her performances in this one, and if this is any indication of things to come, we have one fine actress here in the making. Cillian Murphy played "scarecrow" in "Batman Begins" and now, another "scary" character in this one. He's good, but I hope they do not typecast him into all these creepy roles as he is one fine actor too.

Story goes like this: Lisa (McAdams) meets a man at the airport, had a drink with him at a bar, and ended up seating next to him on the same flight. What a nice coincidence? But things are never as simple as it seems. The pace picks up quickly and the movie bumrush from start till finish, keeping the audience at the edge of the seat throughout the entire film. The ending seemed a little too contrived, but it was still done respectfully. And again, it was the acting of the two actors that made it work. Wes Craven made sure the movie was kept serious and made no jokes about it, and it was also what made the movie seemed believable.

Only one complaint. The original teaser/trailer for the film was great! It made it seemed like it was a love story, and then bam! It hits you with a surprise that tells you, things are not as it seems. But the great marketing seems to have lost its impact when it was given away in the description, synopsis, and all the critics who basically gave away the premise that "this is not a horror movie". And they even went as far as explaining what the evil character was up to. Totally knocked the interest level down a notch. Not that it made the movie worse, but it certainly killed the element of surprise.

I recalled going to watch "Independence Day" without knowing who's starring in it, nor knowing what it was about. Imagine my surprise when the Aliens "attacked" instead of "we-are-here- as-frens" ala "encounters of the 3rd kind". The movie was still implausible, but the experience kicked ass.

Wes Craven made his name known as a horror movie director, and even the initial trailer/teaser made it seemed like a "supernatural" or horror movie. But I think I would have given it a higher score had I been a bit more surprised.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Next Up: Red Eye

I just watched this movie. It was good. Will post a review soon.

Hee hee ... well boys and girls ..go catch it ... it is pretty decent. Quite surprised to see this work coming from Wes Craven.

ttyl :)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Perth - 65%

Now now .. if Singapore film makers are all still gonna repeat what people like Eric Khoo and the other film makers are doing, then they will be better off not doing anything. Gloom and doom Singaporean movies are in abundance. But are these people in the majority? Nope. This is a movie about a Singaporean Taxi Driver who dreams of going to Perth, but didn't end up anywhere in the end.

What I would like to see, is more movies like "Forever Fever" as opposed to movies that tries too hard to deep and end up being crappy instead. I may be the only critic in Singapore to give this movie a bad review, but as much as I would like to support the Singapore film industry, if this is any indication of what things are to come, I think Singapore's film industry will remain like this for a fair bit longer than they would like it to be. Now I know many people would think me crazy to rate "The Maid" slightly higher than this, but at least "The Maid" was a tad more entertaining in a silly way. This movie is dogged with bad writing from start to the end. Straits Times last weekend devoted an entire page to review this movie and said this is probably the most coherent and authentic Singaporean film to date? The writing was atrocious and it was hardly coherent!

You could tell the writer tried to put in so many "references" and "criticism" of the political (Harry Lee?? We take care of our kind?) and societal (the "angmohs" in Singapore, the "eat kangtang" generation, the scholar officer etc) scenes of Singapore but they all seem to be merely cheap shots within the context of badly written dialogues.

The main character Harry is not credible at all. Here's a guy who speaks only English (obviously Eng-ed), couldn't understand Hokkien (with the exception of vulgarities) and Mandarin, and he prays to Guan gong? I'd believe it more if he doesn't pray to anything or goes to the church instead. There was a scene of him masturbating? Was it even necessary?? And if I am not wrong, it appears he was in pain when masturbating. Or was I just reading his facial expression and his screams in a wrong way? His wife speaks only Hokkien and Mandarin. You see another disconnect here? The overacting in the film could be attributed to Lim Kay Tong's background in theater, or simply, it was hard to see how he could act out those terrible lines that were written.

I was not disturbed by the film's gory bits, I watched tons of horror flicks in the past 20 years that were much gruesome that those in this film. And really it wasn't as bad as what people had warned me about. I really was looking forward to this film, but it is just another act of rebel without a cause - and in this age of reason, we really shouldn't put up with that.

And at the end of the show, I felt, the best element of the show, was the Cambodian Girl Mai, which isn't saying much really. She said "I don't know why Harry came to rescue me ... but now I am free". Similarly, I don't understand why the film is made, and what message is it trying to say, but at least it has ended.

Who's referencing and quoting who?

Now this is hilarious. Just when I was discussing about how "Ass Tee" is clamping down to hitting those who "quotes" and "reference" their articles without permission, here they come quoting from MY BLOG, without my permission nor prior notification. Bravo bravo! Only "Ass Tee" can do something like that. Here's a scan of the article ... And some of my questions (assuming fair dealing is not taken into account):

1) They ripped from my BLOG, without prior notice nor permission, is that legal?
2) Now that I referenced this article from the paper, obviously without permission, is that legal?
3) But this referenced article is from my BLOG, is it still illegal?
4) If whatever they published in "Ass Tee" are their property, then does it mean that my quote is now "their property"?
5) If so, am I infringing on "Ass Tee"'s property, by leaving my original post still on my Blog without their permission?
6) Is it illegal to quote my quote from another article that quoted me?? ...

I am going dizzy .... Oooo ....... This is messy