Monday, August 31, 2009

December 21st 2012

31st August 2009, Monday

Coming soon on the big screen is another featurette from Roland Emmerich's long line of disaster movies including "Godzilla", "Independence Day" and "Day After Tomorrow".

"2012" is based off the hypotheses that the world as we live in might come to an abrupt end on the dawn of December 21st 2012 in conjunction with the end of the Mayan calendar while famed French apothecary Nostradamus who was known for his books of prophecy also had pictures and quatrains pertaining to events that had occurred were leading up to the "big one" when the sun meets the center of the galaxy.

It might turn out to be a hoax with very little scientific bearing but it still generated a lot of interest world wide with how ancient tellings seemed to match to that ominous date.

Caught the History Channel documentary "Nostradamus 2012" on Saturday night and not for the first time History Channel had been painting frightening pictures of how our earth will cease existence to causes beyond our controls.
It surely was depressing and did gave me a headache in the midst of it but for entertainment value, I still soldier on with the 2 hours special.

I would say I do harbor a belief in that apocalyptic prophecy but I am not overly worried about it with a good 3 years plus to go.
I have to say for the best part of my 31 years of existence, I have live life to the fullest and if we have to go, I would say I have no regrets.

The same thing cannot be said about the missus is still filled with dreams and objectives to fulfilled, so it was just gibberish of negativity to her when I told her.
I also told my mom not to splurge away and just live our lives as status quo for now though perhaps we can kick back and enjoy lives whenever we can from now on.

In retrospect, the prophecy actually guide me to stay positive from now on and live every day as if it's my last and not fret about trivial things, though in Singapore it is just hard.

Well the noir mood for the weekend was the viewing of a 2009 disaster film from Japan, "感 染 列 島Kansen Rettou" which talks about Japan in 2011 under the pandemic of an unknown lethal life-threatening virus known as "Blame" which killed up to over 50 millions people, putting the world's 2nd largest economy to a standstill and decadence.
It definitely was a frightening reflection of the situation with H1N1 virus now as well as the Avian flu (which the movie took reference from) and SARS of the rampant spread of a virus with high mortality rate

The film at 128 minutes is sure draggy but watchable as it banked on human emotions rather than Hollywood fabricated action sequences and what not.
Dashing actor Satoshi Tsumabuki was competent in his role as the protagonist doctor Matsuoka Tsuyoshi who was at the front of combating the virus and eventually lost his colleagues as well as the loved of his life to it.

It was not a happy ending but that's life isn't it?
Japanese word of the day: 世界終末 (End of the World) Where do you plan to be and what you plan to do on the 21st of December 2012?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Loads on My Mind

25th August 2010, Tuesday

If my professional life is as loaded as the things I had in my mind, I would not lament over the fact that I had become a leech to my workplace.
Having to pick scraps and bits from whatever we can render our help to since the demand for our platform had trickled so remotely since like the 2nd quarter, we now would just spend the day in front of our workstation while seeing how our colleagues slog off with their mounting work load.

I had tried to suggest me jumping over to lend a hand but so far there was no taker; it sure look like I would not be getting the "Employee of the Year" with the looks of it...
I can virtually kiss a fat bonus package goodbye come next May.

At some point I also started to miss the time when BY as well as a few closer ex colleagues were still around.
The coalition of new colleagues tend to cluster among themselves, perhaps due to their work scope and their sitting arrangement.
It looked ordeal to break in, not that I am aggressively finding my way in.

Think I am slowly to encapsulate myself in the way His Beautiness had done and he was thick enough to go through the motion for the past 7 years, money matters at the end of each month ultimately.

I wonder how my other comrades from the same platform felt with the lack of work, the lack of attention from the new boss as well as some of the newer staff gaining more of the attention.
Perhaps I had been thinking too much on my ample free time at work.

Eriko and Sou s' wedding invitation arrived last evening.
We made a U turn to the decision to attend their wedding after the missus first was hesitant to even giving up the thought due to her financial obligation to her car.
We knew it would be a really short trip to Morioka with no stay at Tokyo which had become a practice of sort.
However we could not make up our mind on how many days we are staying and whether if the newly weds have anytime to even entertain us after their ceremony on the 10th of October.
Some good news though was that Singapore Airlines had a new promotion for air tickets to Japan while Japan Railway had a flexi 3 days JR pass promotion... Merely buying tickets for shinkansen is setting our budget aplomb, a trip from Tokyo to Morioka cost like 14K yen!
Hope to secure the air tickets as soon as our Japanese friends gave us the actual plan for us through email.

Desmond called at the start of this workday, stating that he had been called up for the usual high key to Kao-Hsiung next March...yes March not April.
He got news that there would be an Aussie trip at the tailend of 2010 as well and we looked very much involved as well.
The thought of 2 overseas high-key in-camp trainings surely deflated my day but on the flip side, that would reduce the number I need to complete.
It is really a dilemma that on one side I wanna get it over and done with, on the other hand, I loathe the thought of going through the process.
How I wish I could have that remote control as in Adam Sandler's "Click" to fast forward that tepid time on board the ship...
Damn life for us Singaporean men surely is no bed of roses....

With the impending weddings, I needed to set aside a hefty budget for the gift money, the air tickets, spending money in Japan and a set of decent looking suit.
The hotel stay for the missus' birthday is not helping matters but I think I still have things under control for now...no unnecessary splurge though.

After reading "Bakuman" as recommended by EK which is the right sort of storyline I am sucker for, I really envy the aspiration and the courage to dream of the protagonists as they vowed to make a name as a professional mangaka.
This led me to think of my teenage years when I also aspired to be a mangaka...but my drawing was pretty shoddy and plagiarizing was how I usually go by with it.
However I did inspired my buddy TW to where he stand these days, so perhaps our dreams did not went out unfruitful.

How I wish I could have that drive these days...But I don't have that dream to begin with to keep the flame going sadly.
Japanese word of the day: 負荷 (Loads) Wanna clear some off my mind

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Good Football Films

24th August 2009, Monday

Trying to save a quid or two for big plans starting in October, I burrowed within my nest, basically just watching movies or Japanese doramas waiting in stack.

Beside a couple of classic American college fraternity comedies like "Revenge of the Nerds" and "National Lampoon's Animal House" who made one wondered how so many generation survived hazing and the chaos of living in a frat house in North America.
I also caught "20th Century Boys Chapter 2 ~The Last Hope~" which effectively is a cure for insomnia as I wonder if it really meant to be a cult hit despite the high production value.

But I must say the pick among the lot has to be a British film, "The Damned United", which chronicled the wretched 44 days tenure of the late legendary football manager, Brian Clough at Leeds United.
The film directed by Peter Morgan based on the novel by the same name by David Pearce which drew much criticism from the Clough residence and other past persona who was involved in the story for the discrepancies from what actually happened in real life which painted a less than illustrious picture of Clough

However it was a real good biographic film, starring a brilliant Michael Sheen who took on the role of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in another of Morgan's film, "The Queen"
The story was told by juxtaposition the days Clough was signed to take over Don Revie, whose successful stint with the Yorkshire club came to an end when he was set to become the English manager with the time Clough and his right hand man Peter Taylor was resurrecting fortunes at Derby County.

The film really gave viewers a glimpse of the muddy and dilapidated state of football back in the late 1960s and the early 1970s , be it the footballing grounds and facilities or the organization which was world apart from the state of the art stadiums found in the Premier League these days.

There was very little football as compared to perhaps the "Goal!" series but the story was mainly down to Clough and Taylor s; struggle within Derby County board in the latter years after differences with club chairman Sam Longson.
Those footballing shots were from stock videos with a shirtless Kevin Keegan after being sent off for a tussle with Billy Bremner in the Charity Shield which was Clough's first game in charge being the most noteworthy.

The acting of the likes of Sheen, Timothy Spall (as Peter Taylor, last seen as the mousey Wormtail in Harry Potter), Colin Meaney (as Don Revie) and Jim Broadbent (as Sam Longson) are a joy to watch as there was strong accents to add realism but not too strong to deem uncomprehensible.

There had been several decent footballing films from the past but I would rate "The Damn United" as one of the better ones together with "Goal!" which are basically biographic films rather than the usual underdogs rising to the top feel-good type of films. Though "Bend Like Beckham" was more about racial tension in the UK.
Of course Asian representatives like "Shaolin Soccer" and Singapore's own "One Leg Kicking" and "Kallang Roar the movie" are merely for entertainment and did not leave much impression.

The nice touch they did with "The Damn United" made me yearning for the stories of some famous English footballing managers to be put on the big screen including:

  1. Sir Alex Ferguson - Perhaps talked about his early days in Aberdeen, then how he nearly was sacked in Manchester United before Mark Robin's goal in a FA Cup game against Nottingham Forest kick started his legacy at Old Trafford.
  2. Sir Bobby Robson - The late legendary manager had a hand in transforming Ipswich Town's fortunes and had success at PSV and Barcelona as well as a heartbreak in World Cup 1990 at Italy. Surely will be a well scripted chronicles.
  3. George Graham - The former Arsenal title winning coach was known more for his dubious transfer dealings and "bungs" which would make a shameful tale George would not like to see.
  4. Sven Goran Eriksson - The Swede that many in England detested during his time as the England coach looked to go wherever money calls. With his bank account bulging and always in the company of beautiful women, a story about "it" would be great.
Foo mentioned he would love to see a tale on Neil Warnock and I am sure in due time Jose Mourinho should earn a biographic film as well.

Japanese word of the day: コーチ (Coach/Manager) Which football manager's story would you like to see made transitioned to the big screen?

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Welcome back David, Seeya Around Jimmy

18th August 2009, Tuesday

Last evening, there was a major shake-up in Star World's weekdays scheduling.
Being an avid follower of the Asia premier English language channel on cable owned by STAR TV, I had always liken to get myself entertained especially with a good laugh from the myriad of comedies, realty TV programs and of late TV talk shows after a "hard" day of work.

Gone was the back to back episodes of "Friends" which had made like its 20th re-run on the network but it's popularity is still undiminished especially to a sucker like myself who can laugh at the same joke over and over again, same case for "Seinfeld".
In replacement, the programmers astutely replaced the 7.30pm slot with re-run of "Everybody Loves Raymond", the multi-Emmy winning sitcom about a poor chap Raymond Barone (played by Ray Ramano) caught in between his wife and his overly-disruptive family which basically stolen the show in many instances.
I had caught an episode here and there of the 9 season long series but surely it was a tasteful addition to the daily broadcast of sitcom re-runs in tune of "Seinfeld,"Friends" and at times "Two and A Half Men".

After weeks of intense advertising, the network also welcome "The Late Show with David Letterman" or at least the "Best of" episodes for 2009 before the normal syndicated show, aired one day after the telecast in the States.
Back in 1995 to around 1997, the previous incarnation of Mediacorp's "Central (no okto)" known as "Premiere 12" used to show the CBS late night talk show that could rival NBC's "The Tonight Show" on daily basis.

From 11pm to 12 am, my buddy TW and I would stay tuned to the telecast and that together with several sitcoms (like "Friends", "Seinfeld" etc), were our first foray into American style sense of humor which had been a intrinsic part of my everyday life now.
Not that I am pro-star-spangled banner or anything but I could relate more to the humour of the American and usually of the dry humor of the British more than our local type which lacks form and characteristically shallow.

Back in those days, Letterman like many of his late night contemporaries would tend to make fun of anything and everything happening and current affairs in the United States.
The politician namely the incumbents in the White House are always at the brunt of the ribbing..back in those days, Bill Clinton was known as "Big Bubba" and his Lewinsky-gate could not escape the constant hounding by Letterman and we simply dug that.

When TCS (Mediacorp's previous persona) ended their reign of "Late Show", an important part of our lives had been disrupted but by then I was in the army and had not much time to watch TV.

Over the next decade, David Letterman can only be seen on youtube but it kind of defeat the whole purpose being a daily night talk show.

When Star World decided to bring in ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" since 2008 (or was it late 2007), I was enchanted by the energy of late night talk show and Jimmy being a young upstart in the field as compared to Leno, Letterman or O'Brien got his writers to make jokes which incoporate a lot of actual scene editing which really satirized the actual event.
Since the show is based in Hollywood, the guests are usually directors, actors, comedians, musicians etc who plug their latest works which surely was up my alley as it gave me a glimpse of some films that might ultimately come to Singapore.

I would have hoped Star World to place "The Late Show" alongside "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" but it was simply wishful thinking as they felt the viewers in Asia are not prepared to watch 2 late night talk shows side by side, so Letterman literally bumped Kimmel of the late night slot.

I have grew an affection to Kimmel and his motley crew of relatives and security guards like Uncle Frank, Guillermo, Cleto and the Cletones, Cousiin Sal etc, now I just need to reacquaint myself with David Letterman again with his Top 10, Paul Schaffer, Rupert Jee, Biff Henderson etc.
Japanese word of the day:夜遅く (Late Night) You don't expect me to sleep so early do you?

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Monday, August 17, 2009

No Point Being Petty over a few Dollars

17th August 2009, Monday

There was this kid who worked at La Tendo ages back (he was the first employee they ever had) whom I had little liking of.
As a brat in those days, he could get on one’s nerves for his petulant way of talking back to people and famous for his misdemeanor and was one of the least like person for myself.

I also wondered why I disliked him so much back then as speaking to him would have my blood boiling in some extent to JxMMy D and at times His Beautiness.

Once he had to concentrate in his tertiary studies and quitted his stint at La Tendo, the air seems a bit fresher at my regular haunt as I never envisioned crossing path with this bane of mine until last Saturday.

For some reason, he invited himself for a group dinner for the clique which had weeks in the making.
Vincent and Miyano s’ absences were felt but his presence was always to get my fuse shortened though the entire it was Tay-chan who clawed him relentlessly with swiping at his various little dining practices while coercing to do things he was unwilling to oblige.

After a truly filling meal filled with gluten-composed faux meat and meat analogues as well as the usual banter among the group, it was time to go and we foot the bill.

It came to me that the boy was residing around my neighborhood as well and was rather reluctant to send him home.
But my missus was much magnanimous than yours truly and helped him save a few pennies and dimes from taking public transport.

Then it came to my mind that we had split the bill without into consideration of his share.
Of course one would argue on his defense that he is still schooling without any earning capacity and the fraction per head of the bill was pretty hefty, so it would be kind of all of us to pay on his behalf.
But what had he warrant for the free meal? It was neither his birthday nor did we invited him over for the meal which we would have it just fine by ourselves.

I nearly wanted to blow the whole situation up with the rest of the gang till I felt what my mom mentioned was correct.
The perception of the rest on me would be a petty fellow who pick on a little boy without any source of income.
So it was not worth it be labeled so unglamorously because of a few dollars difference as everyone seems fine over it.

Anyway during the course of the dinner, we had the usual X’mas party group selection and gift exchange secret partner.
Then came to the agenda of the venue to host the party and Ferris looked pretty reluctant this time round to be the host which left me befuddled with his adverse reaction.
But the idea of going for a trip or even a cruise was brought on the table which got everyone pretty excited over it.
The idea began to take form when Karen and EK had been brainstorming on what is the best possible option if every single one of us agreed to go for it for this afternoon.
Let’s stay tuned what would be the outcome in the forthcoming weeks or months.

Had a walk around the Singapore Toys, Games and Comic Convention for this year and felt they surely had taken the effort to expand the space allowing human traffic to flow more regularly as it had been a scourge of last year’s edition.
Since our time there was much decimated due to Ferris’ late arrival to pick us up, we just walked briskly around the exhibition which had pretty much nothing that caught our eyes.
Caught up with TW who had been obediently manning his booth of his company/school and looked like he had pretty much hated the idea of soliciting for students over weekend on such a convention.
There is still the Anime Festival of Asia (AFA) latter this year to contemplate with.

Starhub had been enticing sports lover (more like football loving viewers) with the availability of Football Channel, Star Sports and the other channels in the package on the Preview Channel since the start of this month,
It really was a strategy to lure many who either had been deterred by the $25 fee per month or unknown of the allure of watching Barclay’s Premier League live every weekend, back to signing on to the plan.
I was adamant to be moved by it but I wouldn’t mind watching it for free was the starting weekend of the BPL filled my Saturday and Sunday evenings as Arsenal looked like a real deal with an unexpected 6-1 mauling of Everton at Goodison Park.
Man Utd also started with a win at home to Birmingham but was not overly impressed, then again it is just one game.
Not surprisingly, the German Bundesliga proved to be a much better source of entertainment over their English counterpart.

Japanese word of the day: 小さい~chi-sa-i~(Petty) I am a bigger person than that...or am I?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Money is Paramount in Singapore

11th August 2009, Tuesday

After a wholesomely welcome 3 days break, it was back to work with the usual routine and getting my body to shape after nights of snacking on some junk food which had plagued my personal life the past few months.

On Sunday, our budding nation celebrated its 44th birthday with the usual shenanigans which the old man pointed out much to the ire of Mom who felt he was all too negative but in truth he was part of a whole nation of disgruntled old men who felt the government had robbed them of something yet they would just complain vociferously on the sideline, knowing it was a lost cause anyway if they band together and went on a rally or something.

I had no love lost with my country, finding the place simply too restrictive and cramping our style but patriotism had never been in my blood maybe perhaps in sports.

One thing for sure our little red dot had been well fortunate to be sheltered from natural disasters like how Taiwan, China and Philippines had been bracing themselves from Typhoon Morakot.
With my cable TV package filled with Taiwanese cable news network, we had been exposed to the atrocities of how Mother Nature can create as torrential rain pelted indiscriminately from the south to the north of the island nation, resulting in monetary loss and of course loss of human lives.

Speaking of cable TV, while we are only going to be introduced with the high speed fiber optic cable connection in the near future unlike some nations like Japan who had laid it eons ago, we just had to make do with the typical cable provided from Starhub.

To me having cable connection for internet and paid TV subscription is paramount to living in a place like Singapore.
Once I realized the connection level of my apartment had been unstable since 2 weeks ago, I was prompt to engage the technical support from the service provider who responded in a speedy fashion to my satisfaction.
The outsourced technician recommended relaying of a new cable connection after finding my old one which was laid before the major renovation had been done to my nuptial room seemingly was the cause of the reduction of connection power.

A pair of friendly Hokkien-speaking Starhub-sanctioned contractors dropped by on Saturday morning and resolved the issue which luckily needed no major relaying of cable and now connection had resumed to the optimum.

The job needed to be paid and in addition to some unforeseen usage of money such as a couple of nights ago when I paid my respect at TW's late grandmother's wake, I saw my original plan to hold the fort in terms of expenditure been thwarted.
Certainly in Singapore, money is almost everything and one just simply go living off beyond their limit.

Now with the missus burdened with her car loans as well as other financial commitments for her mode of transport, I simply had to be the one footing the bill when we are out whenever possible.
Sometime one will wonder if a bag of money would drop down from the sky out of the blue.

That was simply a madcap adventure in the Dream Academy's National Day production "Sing! Dollar" which had a run at the Esplanade Theater and we had the opportunity to watch it as they extended the run over the National Day weekend.

I was first attracted by the play due to the stellar cast including funnymen Hossan Leong and Kumar, 2 names enough to buy anyone over.
Plus the Dim Sum Dollies (Selena Tan, Emma Yong, Pam Oei), Lim Kay Siu, Najip Ali and DJ Sebastian Tan, you have like who's who in the local theater scene honing their comedic skills.

At the end we had a great them simply floored by the antics they pulled on the stage even though our seats at the 2nd level balcony can be a bit strenous to the neck but as Kumar said we can just not been cheapskate and buy the more expensive seats right at the front.

With the backdrop in Geylang, the story was about greed of our kinsmen plus ribbing at how stereotypical we are with regards to people who traveled great distances here to earn some money (like Kumar's Bangledashi worker character, Emma Yong's Chinese prostitute Lan Lan and Pam Oei's reprisal of a Filippino maid).
The story which was scripted by the truly talented Selena Tan also intertwined many contemporary issue like the Mas Selamat fiasco, Reverand Ming Yi's case and even an uncontrollable rib on the Temasek Holdings.
With Kumar and Najip in the line up, there were always going to be referance to their recently deceased hero, Michael Jackson.

But overall the play was in right tempo, the songs were well receptive, the props were adequate and even spectacular especially the Chinese temple pillar in the last scene and of course the performances of all 8 actors simply wonderful.
Sadly I think Hossan was over-shadowed by the rest because of his part, nevertheless it was a great way to spend the Saturday afternoon with my wife.

It definitely had more entertaiment value than "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" which we caught with some of our La Tendo associates in the evening.
At least the film by Stephan Sommers who gave us "The Mummy" and "Van Helsing" was much watchable than the Transformers shit.
Funny to see how the kid from "Third Rock from the Sun" (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) had transformed into a hideous mad scientist and eventually as the manianical Cobra Commander while the benevolent pharoah from The Mummy (Arnold Vosloo) who become a shapeshifter who like to whistle kids' songs.

A play at the Esplanade with local flavor, a dinner at Carl's Jr, 2 movie tickets, some collectibles from La Tendo, some snacks for the remaining of the weekend and fuel and parking for the car and the budget for the weekend was blown out of proporation.
This is surely living a Singapore Dream.
Japanese word of the day: 帖当(Pledge) Did you say your pledge on 8.22pm on National Day?

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Monday, August 03, 2009

After Flu Bug is Exterminated...

3rd August 2009, Monday

I was decimated by a bout of flu over the course of last week starting on Saturday. The rhinorrhea (i.e. runny nose) concocted with the raspy tonsils to brought a wretched cough that affected me for days.

I had not had a flu for months now but still the immune system I had been aggressive;y trying to strengthen by doing regular workout did came on top by the end of the week and life is back to the norm.

During those days I am rupturing my larynx with persistent coughing, I together with my team were employed to help out the cardinal aspect of our work scope which was tedious, routine and repetitive that I developed some sort of spasm on my fingers'' digits at the end of it.

Fortunately there was ample manpower on show to expedite the process though His Beautiness was adamant not to get himself involved in something as painstaking as this.
This led to a rumpus over his non appearance by those group of us.

Back in the domestic front, nothing too elaborative over the weekend except for a trip down to Sembawang Shopping Center in the missus' "baby (Ford) Focus".
The trip to the mall was a yawning affair and the subsequent trip to La Tendo was not any much better despite the likes of EK, KJ and Bryan who had just returned from a transient Japanese escapade had some tale to share.

Internet access had been erratic over the weekend and I was relentless in my pursue of the truth for the multiple time the modem had reset by itself.
After buzzing the Starhub customer service hotline, the technical support managed to isolate the problem of the cable box showing low power reading and I had to make an appointment with a technician sometiime this week.
Let's hope the problem is not difficult and costly to resolve.

The highlight of the weekend surely would be a 2 hour long chat with CS on the phone as we reminiscencing the good ol' days when we first acquainted as well as the history of our ill capability to chase skirt back in those days.
I was always fascinated to listen to how wretched CS had manage to narrate his younger days as we agreed on more of such intimate sharing moments next time we meet which would be on coming Sunday, National Day at his place with the rest of the gang of course.

Surely looking forward to clear the rest of the week before a long weekend beckons as I will bring the missus to Esplanade to watch a theater play which look set to tickle the funny bone before hanging out with my buddies (finger cross it will happen) on Sunday.
Japanese word of the day: インフルエンザ (Flu) Some flu bug is more aggressive than H1N1 these days

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