Saturday, April 29, 2006

Everyone goes to vote!!

So the election is upon us ... and we're off to vote for who should be in our government, and who's not. Oh but then, not everyone gets to vote, only those who's GRCs are being contested. So I guess only those who happens to be in a GRC where PAP has to put up a fight, do they get a chance to voice your opinion.

So how's the rules for this election? Fair? No way, cos even PAP said so, that there are no level playing field, in politics. MM Lee said that there are no ruling party in the world that would actually try to provide advantages for their opponents. I do agree with MM Lee for this statement. Take for example in a football match (the Real football, or soccer for u americans), the richer teams can afford to "buy" better players, and afford better coaches etc. It doesn't make sense to say, hey, let's give some of our opponents a better chance by giving them a portion of our earnings.

However, I find it a little odd when the rules for the game are being set by the ruling party to begin with. You don't see the umpire or referees of any games being owned by the teams? You don't see the match's rules being decided by the reigning champions. So who makes the rules for how the election is being held in Singapore? PAP? But I would dare say, not entirely. I would say it is history that makes them make decisions/rules the way they are today. You see MM Lee and many of the MPs using history as the reasons why certain rules must be kept the way they are.

Well, they are not wrong in the way they came to that decision. Though do I agree? I don't. Can I say anything about it? The PAP's method of shutting people up would be, "do you have a better idea?". So if I don't have a good idea, I should shut my mouth up. If I think I do, what are the ways I could voice it? Let me look at my options:
1) Write to the ST forums, and pray that they do not censor you?
2) Put up a blog. Only if you register with the government and get it approved?
3) Raise it at those MP Feedback meetings?
4) Join the opposition party?

The methods above are highly regulated and watched and thus I dare say the barrier to entry to voicing an opinion on how our country is run is high. Regular people like those in kopitiam, who wants to voice a opinion can only keep it within the kopitiam. However, the governent would be happy to have it kept within kopitiams. But would they be able to hear it? Nope .... Younger people, do not hang out in kopitiams like the previous generations. The younger generations of Singaporeans communicates and hang out with their friends through this medium called the internet these days. And chatting programs, online forums and blogs are arguably the electronic kopitiams of the younger generation. However, even that is being regulated by our government.

It almost seem like the government is making it very very hard for anyone to openly talk about any opinions about the government without "getting their permission". This is very very unhealthy for the society.

Not too long ago, MM Lee held an "open discussion" with a bunch of 30 year olds (media people, journalists) on TV and after watching it, I feel it was quite an useless exercise for both parties. As a "young" Singaporean, I didn't walk away convinced by PAP's "best" representative. Not to say I was impressed by my peers who were represented on the show as well. But the fact was that, it clearly marked the "generation gap" between the ruling party and young voters. It seemed that PAP didn't end up convincing the young people on the show that they are the best thing for our country today, and the young ones didn't put up too strong a fight either.

But at the end of it all .... after all the campaigning and the selling of their "go yo" (chinese medicine), we voters will get the chance to voice ours choice. For young people like me, the blog would be the best place to share my thoughts about who I think should win or not. But I can't since they would lock me if I did so without registering. But then again, is this posting even political? What would consitute a political blog?

So ... I guess the only way to voice it, is through my/your votes. So I am here to urge everyone, regardless of what you think who will win, let this be your chance to voice your opinions. Please not just think of what "go yo" the party that's fighting in your GRC is promising you. Please think in terms of the nation's well being too. Though the GRC system has forced people to think in terms of the tangibles for their GRC, and not in terms of the welfare of the entire naton itself, I hope everyone would think in a broader manner. This is your only chance to make your voices be heard. If you do not make any action, it would be 0% votes. But remember, at a 5%, 10%, 25% or 49%, though it is a minority, would still constitute a signal - all it takes, is your vote to make that signal be represented.

But alas, I can't vote even if I wanted to ... cos my GRC is not being contested. So much for the "General Election". Guess my vote can't count even if I wanted it too. ;P

Monday, April 17, 2006

Eight Below - 65%

Ok ... movie about dogs. My friend came back from Hong Kong for the weekend and gave me a call Friday afternoon. I was like "hey dude, let's hang out! Before u go back!" He said, "Yeah! ssure. We're planning to watch a show with the gang. Eight Below! I'll buy the tickets first." Then I wondered, "huh?? you're back for the weekend and u wanna catch Eight below? This better be good." And I tried to recall what was the last animal film I've watched (Neomo doesn't count), and it was "Beethoven". And it was a rental. I got a bad feeling this one's better as a rental ... and it turned out .. yeah ... go rent it instead.

There are those kind of movies that you watch, and you really don't quite like it, but you feel bad giving it a low score because of how "nice natured" it is. This usually happens to children's movies and this one, I don't really know how to place it. It seems like it is trying too hard to please different types of audience, that ... it kinda lost its identity. I don't know whether to say "hey for a children's movie, it is good!" or "This is a crappy movie for adults!". Cos I really don't know who they are trying to target. Maybe the movie was made just to sell huskies? Or to entice people to go to Antartica before global warming destroys it all?

Anyways, I think they meant to add drama to an animal documentary, and end up not serving each of the ends well. The special effects were shoddy. And I think the biggest problem I had was with the dogs, or should I say, the way the dogs were directed. Man they are dogs! Stop making them seem like they can communicate and behave like humans. They tried to put in human politics into the dogs ... and it makes them looks stupid instead of smart. And half the time, I can imagine the trainer off screen giving the dogs instructions on "ok doggies, come here now", "ok dogggies, eat (lick on?) the stuffed birds now".

Ok ... so how's the movie? ... It is a rental, for when you are in the mood for a silly drama that looks like it is sponsored by the animal planet.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bird's Nest ....

It was a busy busy day ..

Whole day shoot. My new short film called Bird's Nest (working title) is almost done ... well .. 90%
First foray into High Definition production. And my 4+ year old Quicksilver is really showing its age .... no more RT effects :( ....

Man, directing kids is very very strenous .... this is a 7min short film .. and We took like .... 7 hours? ... Wow .... was dead beat by 4pm ...

There'll be another shoot on another day. Will be a short one. Anyways .. can't wait to show itto you guys ;)

Here are some of the production shots ...

1. My DP, Steven Liew and his son, Darren.
2. My Lead :) John Tay
3. Yours Truly ;)
4. Mr Alan Wong, the coolest grandpa I know ;)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Talking about water ... and what they expect to be free.

Good to see a discussion on free water (or the lack of) issue at restaurants being brought up in Straitstimes. Well I didn't quite read the article since I didn't subscribe to it, but someone told me about it and I was glad to hear about it. As some readers might know, I run a restaurant, and I do give free water. However, I wanna stress that if I am given a chance to open another restaurant, water will not be free.

And really why was water free in the beginning in my joint? Because of 1 factor, the Japanese curry which is my restaurant's mainstay, is deem to make pple "thirsty" and I was told by my Japanese Chef that Japanese would expect the water to be free at a Japanese restaurant. And since day one, we have pampered our customers with free water, or should I say, I've been paying for my customers to not purchase my other drinks. Ironically, it turns out many Japanese did end up ordering other drinks more often than not, usually beer. And Singaporeans, typicallly would be sitting there and looking annoyed if we did not serve them water while waiting for their friends. We typically even asked them "would you like a drink while waiting?" 8/10 times the answer would be "Can I just have ice water please?" Or "Warm water, not too hot". I refer to these customers as the "aquamen".

I do want to point out to customers in Singapore, who expects so many things to be free, that we are not running a charity. And they should see these "free" things not as a requirement but as an act of good will. Let us see what are the things that I provide for free in my restaurant and the hidden costs to me:

1) Free Water - Cold and warm.
Firstly we do have to pay for it. The fact that some huge restaurant have to hire staff specifically to handle these water issues, should serve as a wake up call that hey, we are already doing way beyond what we should. And secondly, again to point out, the cold water is cold because we have to pay for an ice maker and the electricity to run it. The same goes for warm/hot water. Water needs to be boiled, contained, and kept hot/warmed - and they all cost money.

2) "Service for extra 10-15 plates for my gang to celebrate birthday with a cake that I purchased elsewhere."
Guys, we lose sales for your "outside food". We're literally paying for you to buy your cake elsewhere and providing you with all the utencils and then also having to hire a staff to clean up your mess, and wash your plates after that. By the way, using a plate once for a stupid slice of cake and expecting us to clean it is a surefire way to make you look like an asshole. Sometimes this is a courtesy that we extend to customers who often overlook the kindness and see it as a requirement. Reminder, we are doing you a favor here, and you're not paying for it. We could jolly well charge you a "corkage" fee for your cake from outside instead of buying ours, but we had spoiled our own market.

3) "Extra seat - to put my precious bags cos they can't touch the floor." There are many, and I re-stress, many many customers who come into a restaurant and expecing to sit at a table for 4 when then there's only 2 of them. the reasons include 1) I want to put my bag on the chair 2) I want a bigger area to feel more comfortable 3) The restaurant is still empty what! You can afford to gimme that luxury! 4) I am a customer and I want to sit where I please!
Let me remind customers that, hey, when you are going to a restaurant, and especially those small family run types, they often don't have that many tables to provide you with such luxury. And a square or rectangular table can only provide combinations of table for 2 or 4, not 3. When you request to sit at a table for 4 when there's only 2 of you, you are effectively 1/2-ing the restaurant's capacity - as well as takings. If you call the restaurant petty for this, we call the customers unthoughful and selfish for this. And please don't make things worse by taking up a table for 4 and having 2 person sharing 1 dish. Final point, your freaking bag can be placed on the freaking floor.

Those who claim that "hey, I pay service charge, so water should be free". Sorry, if 10% of the service is to purely pay for the water or the drinks that you are buying, then I'd have to make the entire restaurant self service. Either that, I'll raise the service charge. For those who looks at the food and calculate how much margin we're making, please also put into perspective all the hidden costs that you can't see. If you think the 10% service charge that you pay can cover all of the above losses and expenses and opportunity costs, then you are seriously not being realistic. And truth be told, even if I provide you with free water and not charge you service charge, would you be kind enough to leave a 10-15% tip? Nope. Singaporeans are used to having things served on a silver platter to them and they think they deserve the best service in the world for every cent that they pay. But they also don't realize that, you shouldn't be expecting be served like a king, if you are not at a castle and if you are not paying like a king. We treat you like a customer and service you like a guest, not to be your slave. Expectations level have to be re-adjusted on both sides.

And if you realize, the above behaviors all point to being a rude and thoughtless person in general, not just a bad customer. And eventually, it is not just about being a a better or nicer customer, it is about being a nicer person. And any good restaurant love good customers - just as mine. ;) Actually just ask anyone who has run a restaurant, or worked as a waitress before, they will tell you that "angmohs" are better customers than Singaporean ones. And no, it is not because they spend more, but it because they are nicer people in general.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

董沁, 野百合·春天- Chinese Jazz Recommendation

Was in Sembawang music, just randoming shopping for CDs while waiting for a friend. I picked out a CD from the rack which interests me, some Chinese Jazz CD, titled 野百合·春天 (which was actually a old chinese tune which I haven't heard in a long time). The singer was 董沁 (pronounced "qin4"). Ok, the cover wasn't exactly the nicest, and it really look like some Cheap Cover artist thing.

This guy came up to me and asked me if I wanna test it. Think they are learning a thing or 2 from That CD shop.... Anyways, I was a little relunctant since I wasn't really planning on getting anything. He keep reassuring me "hey it is ok... really ok no problem, can test one" and as he said those words, his hands were busy ripping the shrinkwrap and taking out the CD. Win already lor. I see him wasting the shrinkwrapper, I also paiseh not to buy liao.

But hey, upon taking a listening, oh damn this is a hidden gem. The songs were remakes of old chinese classics in a jazz style. Chinese Shanghai-nese artistes seems to be re-igniting a Jazz renaissance and this is one of the best recordings I have heard. There are 2 Teresa Teng's songs in there, and Dong Qin's rendition is so very sincere and it did in someway reminded me of Teresa herself, but with a modern twist. Crisp vocals and excellent pronounciation. And the price is very reasonable too. Highly recommended. Couldn't find it at many places. Try Sembawang Music.

Highlighted Tracks:

Media firms need to progress

Recently was just shopping at Sembawang randomly checking out some CDs. Was just looking at some China imported CDs and thinking to myself, damn, these guys are cheap. Well of course not as cheap as the real pirated stuffs, these are more like parellel imported CDs that are not "legal" by the distributors definition. Sigh ... after so long, these media companies still think that we're living in the 60s. The world is getting smaller and the rules of how the market used to work needs to be revised. It still saddens me to see those stupid region codes on DVDs creating so much problems for customers these days who are so much more "international" than before. Don't they realize that in the process of planning so many versions of their discs to "maximize profits" in the different regions, those profits are being eroded by the ease of customers these days have access to products from different parts of the world now. And not to mention the kind of money that they have to pay for research and development for things like DRM, DeCSS and the lawyer fees from tracking and suing people around that world for cracking the codes.

Note to media companies: Move on with the times.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Apple Sets Up a Bootcamp!!!

Oh this is big news .... So bloody big. Apple now officially supports dual booting feature on their intel macs onto windows!!! Of course, they claim that they do not support windows of course. But really, aren't the rest of the PC makers out there the same - they will help u with the drivers on their machines, but if u have problems with windows, they'll ask u to call Microsoft anyways. ;)

I spoke to some PeeCee users about this, and one of them had this to say, "ah Apple finally had to give in to Windows. They have to acknowledge the fact that they can't survive without Windows." Man this person is so not getting it. And I afraid lotsa PeeCee heads are thinking the same. Apple do not need Windows to survive. They are now using Windows as a trojan horse to lure PeeCee users over to the mac. Hey if you wanna get a mac machine just to run crappy windows, Apple don't care - since you'll be paying them the cash, and you'd need MacOS to be installed to enable the dual boot anyways. ;)

Also, we get some people discussing how MacOS will now be as vunerable to viruses now that it "supports windows". Shit are people so stupid?? Almost all viruses are not "cross platform", and that's why they will not affect the MacOS! And some pple are also discussing "luckily the file system is different, so the viruses will not cross over so easily yet". WTF??? Do they even know what the hell are they talking about?? Unless a virus is cross platform, it will not affect the mac side! Why?? It is the same reason why a PC game will not work on the Mac unless it is compiled for it!! It is not because of the bloody filesystem! And the same people who thinks MacOS running on an Intel chip will make the MAcOS susceptible to virus attacks, needs to go for some computer classes before they write for any tech magazine or newspaper.

In the end, this is a great great move for Apple - and MS too. Afterall, MS makes money on every copy of Windows installed on a Mac, and Apple will also make money for every Mac sold. Many people are seeing this as Windows infiltrating Apple, but what they do not see, is that Apple is now the only Windows PC supplier in the world, that sells machines that can run the coolest OS in the world - The Mac OS.

The Hills Have Eyes - 72%

Hey hey ... a remake of a classic horror movie from 1977. Being the horror movie fan that I am, this I so gotta check. I have not watched the original, so I will not be making comparison. I'll just be judging this version on its on. So how did it entertain? Well, being a slasher film, I really didn't have much expectations from its storyline, and if you have the same kind of attitude to it, it is pretty well done. In fact, what I liked about it was how the characters who survived had in some ways, had to change their ways of thinking to survive. The city dweller, gun-hating democrat ended up behaving in a way that he wouldn't imagine that he would. The boy who was so gung-ho about using guns to solve his problems, had to start using his brains to think and strategize his next moves.

But hey .. this is afterall just a slasher movie. The typical rules that a typical slasher movie abide by are still there - the most obvious ones who will die, will really die; the road that looked like it shouldn't be taken, was still taken; the gas station in the middle of nowhere must still be run by a stereotypical weird freakish character that shouldn't be trusted; and of course those who seemed like they shouldn't be trusted, was still trusted. ;) So, in a way, everything still turned out pretty predictable. But hey, if these ideas were featured in the 70s, they could have been rather fresh wouldn't it? Or would it still seemed like the logic of those people seemed pretty whacked?

But I guess if you wanna judge this film on the logic of the story, you probably would rate it like a piece of crap. However I chose to view it like a ride into a bloody wonderland, and man it was quite a wild ride. ;) But be warned, this is one of the most gory and violent films made. Damn, they keep outdoing themselves do they?