Monday, May 25, 2009

Not the Best time to be in Singapore

25th May 2009, Monday

Friggin' hot is an understatement of how the weather is like for now.
It was so warm and humid even at night when air is still with almost no breeze even when you are outdoors; I would start sweating even through the mere process of respiration.
It was time like this you have to thank Mr Willis Haviland Carrier, for the invention of modern day air conditioning.
Don't know what I'll do without it.

The previous week ended pretty nicely with my renewal of contract after the bloating of the bank account, at least it is another 3 years in the same job with much security unless I committed a grave error at work or the department got disbanded *TOUCHWOOD*.

A wake, a wedding banquet and a dinner with my in-laws occupied my weekend.

It was supposed to be down to Jalan Besar Stadium for Friday night football but a sudden change of mind made me decided to attend Vincent's Grandma wake at Jurong West instead.
The change of mind was largely due to the fact that the chance my team making a triumphant return was pretty bleak (which they did, by sheer luck) and it was galvanized by the fact that my usual partner-in-crime had totally looked like turning his back on watching the live football.
I cannot blame him altogether as the time could be put for better usage that watching listless footballers dishing out football to treat insomniacs.
I was rather perturbed by his lack of interest thus far but the words of my missus who on a day off from work and gave me company on my way home off work soothed me, stating that it had happened before and most likely will occur again.

So off to meet some friends who might be truly worth my effort on the humid Friday evening which was partly the reason why I was so cranky before we set off to the west.
It was also one of those rare occasion I had hoped we had our own car...that's a story for another day or maybe not.

The whole gang with notable absentee Chan who was caught up with his night shift again, had arrived in force to show final respect to our friend's paternal grandmother who might has passed on peacefully, nearing the centurion mark.
The entire Buddhist style wake was pristine and peaceful. Despite all dressed to the occasion (no flashy bright colored clothings), the mood wasn't too somber as the gang unleashed the chipmunks in them, chomping away on peanuts and watermelon seeds the entire evening as we chatted heartily mainly on Vincent's lack of neck (a topic in warmly inititated by his other half), Vincent's judo club adventure and his trophy-winning swimming era as well as how I advised EK to slap Steven Gerard when he and his Liverpudian chums came down to Kallang Stadium in July.

The entire gathering concluded close to 1 in the morning and the intention of watching "Night at the Museum 2" hadn't even been brought up.

Saturday was pretty laid back as of these days Saturday and Sunday mornings were filled with rerun marathorns of episodes of "Friends" which was already shown on weekday evenings.
I wonder if it was an addiction or it had become a part of my daily routine that I still religiously catch this sitcom together fellow classic NBC "Must Watch" entree, "Seinfeld" despite I can already memorize the lines.
Each viewing still never fail to tickle my funnybones....

Andy's wedding banquet was held at Carlton Hotel which is located in town, Bras Basar to be precise.
Beside having to enter the ERP-gantried region, the traffic can be intoxicating as we had to travel on the longer route to avoid a sudden twist of traffic jam when we boarded CTE.

It was a poor attendance for Andy's banquet from our side but we did have a rare appearance of Johnny who we hadn't seen since our own banquet back in 2006.
The even more shocking cameo was Kenneth who couldn't try to stay on time of what the invitation card has stated like he did during Edmund & Jing s' banquet.

I was non-chalant as usual in front of my University friends as usual and it was well-documented how local wedding receptions always bore me to tears with the same usual shit.
But at least the company was quite interesting this time round with Sherry being the joker entity while Kenneth always up to his old devious way to try to sabotage the newly-weds.

The bride came from some "Lam-kee" clan which I postulated to be from Hong Kong but now spread all over the world with her parents been residing in Mauritius, and looked very eloquent and outgoing, certainly not like most local ladies I presumed.
There was a 3 men band crooning endearing romantic tunes with the groom himself dedicating Ronan Keating's "When you said nothing at all".
Then like what the Caucasians would usually do, they got to the dance floor (or how limited the space before the stage) and did a slow dance with their parents which was something different than the usual perhaps.
There was also the apearance of a Mediacorp actress which perked our interest a bit.

Sunday was mainly back to my new hobby of writing before joining the missus and her whole family down to the newly renovated Sembawang Shopping Center for dinner at "Fish & Co.".
It was apparent she really basked in a rare opportunity for a family dinner with her family and surely is a happier time than those tumultuous years before our marriage.

One time Premier League title contender Newcastle Utd, a luminary of the early days when Kevin Keegan was in charge and earn the adoration of a growing herd of fans in Singapore for their gung-ho attacking style, was relegated on Sunday together with their Tyneside rival, Middlesborough.
Both had been despondent the entire season and in the case of the Magpies, even the return of the prodigal Alan Shearer as the stand in manager couldn't inspired them to escape the drop.
Their fellow relegation contenders, Sunderland and Hull City weren't exactly putting a fight till the very last day as all 4 sides lost, surely not in the same wavelength of those days when West Ham valiantly battled to the 40 points mark and yet got relegated.

A late viewing of "Troy", one of the Blu ray I bought recently very much ate into our sleeping time, ill preparing us for the long work week ahead which she lamented.... as usual.

Japanese word of the day: 時間の無駄 (Waste of time) Apparently some friends are a good waste of time while others are definitely not

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Not an Angel but definitely not a Demon

18th May 2009, Monday

Managed to catch the film rendition of Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" by Ron Howard on Friday.
Many people might had the misconception that it was a sequel due to the prior production of "Da Vinci Code".
However it sure seemed like director Howard and producer Brian Grazer had the intention for this adventure to be following the events of their earlier film.
Renowned expert in iconography &symbology, Robert Langdon portrayed by Tom Hanks looked much older as the actor himself had shown signs of aging in recent years.

Personally I had read the story after "Da Vinci Code" as well. While I marveled at the mastery of Dan Brown to cook up that conspiracy behind Da Vinci's work with religion, I must say I had a stronger inclination to the prequel.
The story which saw a race against time within the Vatican City and nearby City of Rome was vivid in my mind with alot of detailed description of the smallest nation in the world as well as the works of Raphael, Benini and other great artists who had contributed to the epitome of Catholicism in that era.
There was also the in depth research on the "anti-matter" which in recent times hit the headlines as a similar Large Hadron Collider was in construction in Switzerland leading to an Indian girl committed suicide in fear that the black hole would be created from the particle collison within the Collider.

The movie very much truncate a seemingly detailed novel which would be too dry for viewing pleasure.
While it captured the essence of the wild ride around Rome in his quest to rescue the 4 kidnapped cardinals from the Illuminati, the movie still lacked something that the novel possessed, which I find it hard to describe.
There was no chemistry between Langdon and the heroine, Professor Vittoria Vetra unlike in the novel, a romantic spark was imminent from the start which even lingered to "Da Vinci Code" when the pair broke up.

The film was very much a showcase of the beauty of the Italian capital which brought a lot of reaction from my missus who reminiscenced on her time in Italy back in 2006.
The musical scores by Hans Zimmer also brought out the mood of the story especially in the frantic search for the anti matter bomb.

Somehow the film quality from Cinelesiure was pretty shoddy, much resembling a better quality bootleg DVD, world of a difference as compared to the clarity of "Star Trek" in digital format we caught last week.

In the end, Karen who bought the tickets days before treated us for the movie as the gang had the usual after thoughts while lingering outside the theater before calling it a day.

Two little surprises lit a rather uneventful weekend as the pay had been put in since Friday instead of today which didn't really matter much but always happy to see my bank account bloated.
My Amazon order came in on Sunday delivered by a little girl no more than 12 years old to my doorstep, merely days when I foot the shipping bill. I was taken aback by how fast it was sent.
The Blu-ray discs and DVDs came in right time as almost all the drama series and sitcoms I am following from the States had reached their finale.
Especially "Lost" which left some sort of cliffhanger as avid fans will want to unravel the truth in the final season, starting late this year.

Got news of the passing on of the father of one of my junior back in university.
Although we aren't exactly considered chums as myself had been alienating from my friends from that time period, I find the lad a nice chap who made an effort to attend my wedding when many closer ones failed to.
I had intended to attend the wake on Saturday but couldn't find anyone to tag along, so in the end I gave it a miss.
I wonder if there would be any repercussion but from the frown on my missus' face, herself preoccupied with her seminar the entire weekend, it seems like I hadn't be the "angel" she had hoped to marry.

Japanese word of the day: 天使~ten-shi~(Angel) I wish t have a guardian angel to bless me in this period when I think my job might not be that secured.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Change of Mood

12th May 2009, Tuesday

If ever in my life I hadn't experienced a bout of Monday blues, yesterday might seem to be the epitome of the bluest Monday I had ever gone through.

Woke up on the wrong side of bed and still yearning for more sleep on Monday with the prospect of 4 such wretched mornings to pick myself up from the comfort of my comforter, things surely didn't start off the best way.

On the way to work, I was feeling really groggy from a combination of wanting to sleep and a bit under the weather. If I hadn't scavenged for the elusive seat to begin with, I might lose consciousness in the usual Monday human traffic stuffing on the train. Schools and some workplaces gave their students and workers respectively a Monday off from the Vesak Day that fell on Saturday but still the train was really cramped; imagine a typical Monday morning!

The lack of work to be done let my mind wandering else where as I lamented over a matter which had been bothering me since the beginning of this month.
My contract would be up by June, and under such climate where a job, much less an ideal one, is readily available, I just wanted to secure with the fact that I can secured employment for the next 3 years.
Well it was surely a waiting game till I get the green light from the Human Resource.

Although we had dreaded bringing up the elusive letter which indicates the amount of performance bonus we'll be getting, we were all anxiously anticipating for it and knew it would be this week before the pay day comes. But a Monday went by and no letter was seen.

To add salt to the wound, the delivery of my recent amazon purchase was undelivered and seemingly needed someone to pick it up from a nearby US Postal Service office. I would do it if I was at Portland, Oregon!
I contacted vpost which was the service I used to send the parcel (starting to regret as I might had gotten the parcel by now if I had allowed amazon to send it directly to me); and started wondering they would bother to handle undelivered parcel just to earn that few dollars in shipping...bummer...

A storm swept the island before lunch time and came on and off for the rest of the day. Rain meant that I could kiss climbing the hill to the gym goodbye as the lack of shelter just ruined the mood. I still find that it made no sense carrying an umbrella just to go work out.

Lack of sleep, lack of usual aerobic exercise & my dosage of endorphin, the second half of the day was rather lethargic as I had anticipated and couldn't pit myself to commit to work properly.

Foo once again will be a no show for the live game, at the furthest western stadium, Jurong West. Somehow I had read the signs with my tea leaves for his reluctance to make the trip West.

It didn't take long for me to reach Pioneer MRT station being like mere 20 minutes from Bouna Vista. I had intended to have a quick dinner by myself at the coffeeshop just on the left of the station.
But boy people in Jurong don't eat home cooked food as the place was well crowded with hungry diners.

I thought I might grab something light at the stadium then. There was a couple of restaurants in the Sports and Recreational Center (pretty impressive compared to the puny and dilapidated Hougang Stadium) but didn't fancy spent like more than $10 on food which that might not whet my appetite.
So I just rummaged the 7-11 convenience store there and went on to spend like $6 on virtual tasteless sandwiches.

As expected my team lost the game but in the most heart-breaking fashion with schoolboy errors in goalkeeping and defense.
Gutted with no rewards at the end of it my day ended as I at least got a free ride home.

Slept pretty late so it was no surprise strong sense of reluctance when all the alarm clocks buzzing this morning.

But for sure the blues were extinguished as I got my work out at last despite rain came at the wrong time, strandling me at the gym.
We got the letter and was slightly better than I had expected; even got news from the HR lady that the contract renewal was put on the backseat due to the preparation of the letter. Crossing my finger that I get the renewal before the month ends.
However we also got the news that for sure we are now incorporated to the new group with the imminent departure of Shitty Green...uncertain times ahead, so enjoy while it last.

Also checked the status of my parcel marooned in Portland had been delivered on the 2nd try, so it's all good for now in this 2nd day of the week.

Japanese word of the day: 上昇(Upturn) Surely had been a contrast in events and thus mood within 2 days.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trekking & Love Shuffling

11th May 2009, Monday

The Vesak-Mother's Day weekend combo went pass nonchalantly as I didn't feel at shred of festivity in my blood.
Didn't bother to jump on the propaganda bandwagon like many of my foolish countrymen to hit the restaurants and what not to shower their love to their mothers.
I would bring my folks out another day when places are less congested (like there would be any).

It was a "boys out" from the La Tendo clique on Saturday except Miyano of course as we hit AMK Hub to catch the new rendition of "Star Trek" by J.J. Abrams and fellow Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof.

A thorough fanboy machine when Abrams worked on the alternate reality option with the time-space continum shit when the story focused on James Tiberus Kirk and Spock in their youth and sprawling to carve a niche in the Federation and their progress were hastily rushed when a renegade Romulun troop from the future came back into the past and caused a lot of chaos.

It was hell of a ride with alot of action and several take on the classic series to appease the most avid Trekkies out there.
Thought Chris Pine did a decent job as the character that shot William Shatner into fame. That blue-eyed American hero was a stereotype nonetheless.
Zachary Quinto or Sylar from "Heroes" got on the Spock persona well though I found him less stoic that Leonard Nimoy who made an appearance to dispel all the claim that he was dead from many years back.
Karl Urban (Eomer from LOTR), John Cho (Harold from Harold & Kumar) & Zoe Saldana all did good with their reprisal, though my words aren't justifiable for I had never caught the classic Star Trek series.
The one that steal the show for a while has to be Anton Yelchin who was the Russian navigator, Chekov who's instruction on the PA in his strong Russian accent put everyone in the theater into fit.

We caught the show in the digital theater though I couldn't really differentiate that to a normal version.
Nonetheless "Star Trek" looks to be the Dark Knight of 2009, easily will garner the movie of the year in my book; others in the coming weeks and months have a big shoe to fill.

On Sunday, just laze around with the missus as we went on a Japanese dorama marathon.

The show in focus this week was a TBS series from the 2009 winter season, "Love Shuffle".
The series talked about 4 executive-style neighbors who got acquainted only when trapped in a lift breakdown during a blackout decided to play a "love shuffling" game after all showing signs of jadedness in their relationships.
So in a talk over dinner while enticing their respective partners, the 4 couples agreed on playing the Labu-Sha (short form) game which on weekly basis, everyone rotate their partner to gauge how they would feel with someone new while allow the others to analyze the partner.
The story itself made use of a lot of Japanese pun to create some jokes between the cast which will be bewildering for non-Japanese speakers.
Hiroshi Tamaki, the main lead nicknamed Usagi was in his usual frantic best as a paranoid boyfriend who always thought he was 2nd best for his wealthy fiancee, Mei.
His frantic nature resembles alot of his previous roles including Chiaki from "Nodame Cantabile" and even as Sakamoto Ryoma in "Atsuhime"; but his boy-next-door nature plus a young chap with alot of dreams made him lovable in this dorama series, cemented his "prince-like" status further.

The cast had been pretty decent for the ladies viewers as joining Hiroshi is Matsuda Shota who played a really cool photographer who showed a passionate heart despite his aloof hide.
Daigo, the lead singer of Breakerz as well as a talent with ascending popularity in Japanese TV played the wealthy yet eagerly seeking for true friends, Yuki and the dashing Tanihara Sosuke (from "Handsome Suit") played the gentlement psychiatrist, Kikuta.
The show reunited Hiroshi, Matsuda and Tanihara from "Top Caster".

As for the male viewers, actress-model Karina will always be an eye candy assumes the only female neighbor, translator Aiai (nickname) while a seemingly fresh face on the rise, Yoshitaka Yuriko (now can also be seen in "Shiroi Haru") as the suicidal poor artist, Kairi.
Usagi's girlfriend was a relative unknown, so was the sexy vixen wife of a poltician, Reiko.

The concept of Labu-sha was interesting but can be detrimental when you have developed an interest for the other party's partner.
The story also came with a twist in the middle which really perks things up but the chummy happiness among the group had been enveloped with the suicidal tendency of Kairi, a character who spoke more than 1 sentences each time.
The show which featured some high end executive lifestyles in Tokyo surely is not the best thing to be seen in current economic climate; one would even felt the whole game was something rich, self-centered young Japanese would play out of boredom.
However it did got a bit more real when Usagi quit from his job after a fight with some gangsters and found it hard to survive with his lack of actual qualification.
His pursuit of a career which could give him dream and aspiration led him to be a politician which also delved into some pain the sprawling youth of Japan is facing now.
However that supposed to take a backseat for the love comedy which is the main theme here.

Nevertheless the script by famous trendy dorama innovator, Nojima Shinji was rather entertaining and I found myself liking almost all the characters, including the creepy Kikuta.

Japanese word of the day: 混合(Shuffle) I wouldn't mind weekly shuffling of partner with the likes of Karina and other Japanese actresses of my liking

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Taking Up Dead Space?

4th May 2009, Monday

The May Day long weekend was pretty well spent in my books.
With my folks off to another Northern excursion back to Mom's relatives' place in Johor, we were left in charge of the apartment again.

Got to hook up with 2 of my buddies as well as managed to watch a whole chunk of backlog of doramas in my computer.
I even caught a nearing 3 hour long commemorative special from Fuji Television, on their 50th anniversary, reminiscing some classic dorama series from the past with the slew of top billing actors and actresses we had watched since young surely helped to make the occasion even more meaningful, especially yours truly who is infatuated with nostalgia.
The show was hosted by SMAP, and perhaps Tsuyoshi's last live appearance before his scandal. Anyway heard he will not be charged, and could make a comeback soon...we'll see.

My weekend really started on Thursday when TW came over for some Pro Evolution Soccer fun.
I actually had intended to organize an impromptu gaming session at CS' place on Friday but seemingly my wife-doting buddy had to commit his time to his bride, and felt perhaps we could catch up on Thursday itself.
We sure had a good time taking Spain national team (our favorite outfit in the game) and simply wallop our opponents (in amatuer mode of course); but the penultimate objective was to totally humiliate England which we both loathe (in the game and perhaps in real life) but after umpteen attempts we just couldn't win convincingly.
The playing took a toll on the missus who was gracious enough to leave the room for us.
A good chat to catch things up with each other ended at around 2 when he hailed a cab home, very much similar to another of this session back in December.

While the missus went on a hiking trip with her business partners at the South Ridges walk, I decided to find my own program when I called up CS who as usual in the comfort of his home, playing his beloved games.
Things sure got a bit lonely without TW or Foo but we made the best of things when he showed me the latest in the game industry, the usual of whetting my appetite even when I find it hard to squeeze time to concentrate in engaing in console games (hard to multi task unlike playing FM).

The bulk of the time there was when he let me have the hands on on a chilling game he even had chills down his spine while playing in the day time, "Dead Space".

This horror game from EA Games is much unlike any other of the same genre such as Capcom's "Resident Evil" series.
The game which very much inspired from the 1997 sci fi horror flick "Event Horizon", will create a spine-chilling atmosphere as the protaganist, engineer Isaac Clarke unraveled the mystery over the annhilation of the crew onboard the Ishimura Planet Cracker ship.

CS left me on my own for most of the time and as much as I had a strong disdain towards such game despite an urge to pick up Resident Evil 5 though, I found the control easy and not too nauseous.
The developers surely know how to create the morbid environment which at times you as the player would not be sane enough to explore.
Fans of grotesque slasher movies like Saw would love the amount of blood and innards that one can generate while dismembering those alien creatures, which love to sprang out from no where to scare the shit out of the player.

The game won many awards and accolades and for a casual player myself who got intrigued enough to continue on, it sure deserves to be rewarded.
On some level, the game is much more than just blind slashing and killing, there are several stages when you need to seek the best solution with your other skills like Statis and Kinesis to get machineries to work.

The game took me to 1 plus when I saw CS was pretty bumped up for the night though he was cool enough to give me a ride home in his brand new Mitsubishi Lancer with all the dazzling gadgets as we would expect no less.

Saturday was basically home bound with the missus who was preparing for her make-up competition on Sunday with Karen as the model.

A couple of good results going for the teams I support with Man Utd beating Middlesborough in a rather yawn-inducing affaor but one wouldn't have time to even bat an eyelid in the El Clasico at Santiago Bernabeu with the irresistable Barca machine went riot over the hapless host, Real Madrid with a 6-2 scoreline which could be more for the Catalans.
Both teams are on course for their domestic titles and I hope to see them squaring up against each other in the Champions League final, though Barcelona surely deserve to win it as in all competitions they are in, for showing the world such delightful positive attacking football.

I didn't had the chance to catch up with the final of my Wrecker buddy as Foo sort of bailed me out (but to spend time with his other half is definitely take the precedence) as I made the journey to Tampines alone to catch the Cup preliminary round which didn't end up good in terms of the scoreline (as I have expected) but the spirited display and the cheers I heard for the team was pretty heart-warming.

Japanese word of the day: 恐怖 (Scare) There were moments we just scared each other, pretty silly that we couldn't stop laughing

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