Wednesday, May 31, 2006

a love story not worth pursuing

no i'm not talking about my own life ;) but a movie i watched yesterday. it was a case of fronting up at the cinema, and trying to pick out something to see. of the few options which were deemed watchable, 'love story' was the shortest wait by a few hours. i had figured that it's been some time since i watched a chinese movie, and since i'm in a country where access to such films in the cinema is more readily available, why not take advantage of the opportunity? even when i was informed that it is a local production (which i did not initially realise), i was still hopeful for something passable in the form of a mildly entertaining or touching romantic drama.

how wrong i was.

from the opening sequence to the closing credits, i was lost. and frustrated. so much so that i could not be bothered trying to figure out what was going on in the screen in front me, and at one stage i almost fell asleep -- a rarity in my cinematic outings, overnight movie marathons not withstanding. i really can't even be bothered trying to explain why this movie sucked so much, other than to say "arty farty" (which is so not me), and to quote from the review linked above:
Unfortunately, Tong [director]’s own lofty ambitions in his script, punches a large dent in this curious and often erratic film. His insistence and overuse of highly derivative, metaphysical and experimental story-telling techniques leave much to be accomplished. The plot meanders too much midway and it starts to become a chore just to keep up with the writer’s own extremities in dealing with the abstract boundaries of fact and fiction. It becomes arrogant in its self-consciousness and is devoid of a personality.
yeah. don't bother man. the closing statement speaks thus: A brave and exciting new direction for local cinema, but becomes too much of an effort even for the most willing. i really don't know whether i would use words like brave and exciting if this is the direction in which local cinema here is headed... but i can certainly attest to the "too much of an effort" for this rather unwilling viewer.

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speaking of unwilling viewing and falling asleep, i caught 'perhaps love' on the flight over here. well, caught some of it at least. i had heard about this movie when it was showing on the screens at a local eatery back home. this place (coffee square) is a place i tend to avoid, because it feels too honkie for this non-chinese speaking chinese person. i almost feel some sort of reverse discrimination whenever i'm there. the place does not have an english-friendly feel (possibly different if you are/look non-chinese), and i only went this time to follow the crowd, which included two honkies :p

they stuffed up my order (my theory being that the waiter's english wasn't up to scratch and thought i meant "portugese" when i actually said "mexican"), which meant i had to wait extra long for my food. anyways js gave a brief synopsis of the movie as we waited, and so i saw a few scenes and had enough familiarity to be able to recognise it when i saw it in the inflight movies lineup.

another arty offering with bigger budget and more famous actors. didn't have as much trouble following the plot (which was still somewhat confusing), though it certainly didn't help that the small screen meant rather hard to read subtitles. i tried with this one... but tiredness got the better of me and i gave up halfway in, opting to try for some sleep instead.

didn't manage much success with that either, and i'm slowly trying to catch up this week. oh it's nice to be able to sleep in!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

travelling crocs

i've been wearing my crocs more and more since i first got them about half a year ago, more recently they've become my footwear of choice for the office (i love being able to dress casually for work!). they draw comments from the odd passer-by, with some who have seen them before, and many who haven't. some of my friends thought the shoes were funny, but i think the novelty factor has now worn off. someone in the lift asked me about them, saying that they looked really comfortable. a few other people have asked about them, wanting to know where they could get a pair. i should become the australian ambassador for crocs. spreading the word about a product that you personally use and genuinely endorse -- that should be the way for all salespeople, no?

one troubling thing i've found is that as the winter season approaches, i seem to be a lot more static-y when i'm wearing my crocs. they're made of neither rubber nor plastic, but something the manufacturers have termed proprietary closed cell resin (PCCR). i don't know what this means, but in practice it does appear to have rather good (electrical) insulation properties. so much so that i'm getting zapped multiple times a day.

no such problems in singapore, where i'm planning to put said crocs into much use. they're a lot more widespread here, and seen in their full spectrum of available colours. i've even seen some fake crocs... though i really shouldn't be surprised that a good and successful idea should be copied...

having caught all of about 1 hour of sleep during my overnight flight, i'm still battling weariness on top of my usual and chronic lack of sleep. but i'm enjoying the break from work and life as i know it, feeling the relative freedom of going with the flow and not having too much planned. not to mention the plentiful and cheap food :D having said that, it's always a struggle for me to choose when confronted with so many options at your typical hawker centre. sigh... spoilt for choice, and dunno what is good. been snapping away a bit these last few days - selection of photos below:

unfortunately picasa does some undesirable things with cropping in the collaging process, so some of the photos are missing bits... can't really complain about a free product and a collage function that takes but a few mouse clicks though! anyways will post pics in full aspect ratio online sometime down the track. for now, it's time to head out again :)

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related posts: yes virginia, i do speak english

Monday, May 22, 2006

clay getaway weekend

spent the weekend out of town with some the clay folks on our first ever getaway. destination: noosa avalon cottages. princejay and i navigated our way there with the help of his GPS receiver and PDA, which i had a bit of fun playing with... it was my first real experience with GPS ware so i took a video clip from our journey just for the heck of it. we ended up off the map.

yup, it was farm land country. complete with the dark darkness of night you never get with the ambient suburban lighting of urban landscapes, cow patties dotting the fields like a heavily mined warzone, the crisp smell of cool rural air and some of the accompanying fauna. a bit out of the comfort zone for some, but we all survived with liberal doses of bottled juices (not everyone was keen to drink the tap water), catered food (thanks to our volunteer cooks), music and song (some pre-recorded, some from our own voiceboxes), bible study, review/discussion on the immediate future of the group, games of chess, cards and cranium, and general bonding/hanging out time. [photo album | slideshow]

(been mucking around with, where above album is hosted... might start using it more now that there are no more limits :) site seems to be a bit on the slow side at times though... )

anyways we capped off the weekend with a visit to the sunshine coast chinese christian church, where we sang a song, prayed for them, and shared in a late lunch of curry and rice which chatting to some of the local folk. then it was off to the beach - i don't know whose idea it was to go in the first place but when we got there we just ended up sitting around a table huddling in the cold breeze, with not one person setting foot on the beach itself... (sand on the footpath doesn't count!) so after a while of getting cold we turned to head back home.

most of us met for dinner again, deciding on "shanghai cuisine" when the original choice (a nearby taiwanese joint called "7-8" which i've not yet tried) was full. it's been years since i last ate at shanghai cuisine, and i was glad for the reacquaintance. we ordered the 8-person set meal consisting mostly of a selection of dumpling type foods cooked in various way, plus a dish of veges which some of the girls had been craving (our weekend diet was not high in greens content :p) all for a rather satisfying $9 per head.

much better than the $10+ i paid for lunch the sunday prior when i waited over half an hour for my "com xa xiu" (simple dish of steam rice, char siew pork and some cabbage which would only take 2 minutes to cook/put together on a plate) at the viet hoa chinese and vietnamese joint in west end. verdict = two thumbs down - one for the wait/poor service (most of our table had to wait quite some time for their food too), and two for the lack of value/stinginess -- the dish tasted quite bland, as there was hardly anything with which to flavour the rice. so i had to steal some of the fish sauce from people who had ordered a broken rice dish (a vietnamese staple of mine which i should probably learn to stick to), but even then they were only given a measly looking bowl full (don't even want to call it a bowl cos it's that small) to share between them. same deal (about sharing a smaller portion than what you'd get individually at most other places) with the bean sprouts and veg for those who ordered the noodle soups.

i know which place i'll be going back to in future!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

the housesitting hours

i'm more than halfway through my current housesitting stint. am enjoying
  1. the solitude
    not that it's hugely different to when i'm at home, but it's still not quite the same when you have a whole house to yourself :) don't know that i'd want this as the norm for a life, but in short doses it's good. i do somewhat regret not being able to share/make use of some of this time with friends... a few years ago when i housesat another place i took advantage of the opportunity to host a casual dinner party for some friends, and that was a really good evening and time well spent. but i've not been able to replicate that effort the last few stints - is it just bad timing, or the all-pervasive clout of busyness? oh for some spontaneity...

  2. foxtel
    i've never really desired subscription tv for myself, but i tend to be interested to see what's on whenver i come across it in other people's homes. this time it took me all of about 5 minutes to come to the conclusion that there's really nothing good on. the main reason i may consider subscription tv is for the movies, but they're not part of the package at this place, so i'm limiting myself to viewing

    • NBA on ESPN
      it's conference semi-finals time. the games don't seem to be quite as exciting as i remember them to be (but it's been many a moon since i last watched NBA, and i'm sure those memories are hazy at best :p), but this is a one off thing so a peek or two will satisfy me.

    • Whose Line Is It Anyway (US version) on the comedy channel
      speaking of spontaneity, these guys are masters of the game where as they say, everything's made up! some of the material can get a bit beyond PG, but in general i'm just amazed at the creativity and quick-witted improv by these performers, especially when it comes to the singing segments. some good and genuine belly laughs to be had here, and it's a rare treat so i'm lapping this baby up while i have the chance :)

  3. haruki murakami
    i'm actually listening to the haunting sounds of the background music from the site as i blog away. no idea what tune it is, but it's kinda groovy :) i first came across the name of this japanese author on another blog, but didn't read much into that particularly entry cos it seemed too literarily intense. i did venture into a short story of his a month or so back - one which i found rather strange. then, upon glancing over some of the books in this house, i saw the name again, and so without really knowing much about the author or the book, i decided to set myself the task of finishing norwegian wood before this stint is over. i'm behind on my schedule. come to think of it, the last few times i housesat i've picked up books to read which i probably would otherwise not start on, either because it's something i would never look for, or it would be something i know about but have been too lazy to pursue, even if it means trying to borrow a free copy from the local city council library. when it's right in front of you though, i guess it's a slightly different proposition! (there's also a copy of amy tan's "the bonesetter's daughter" which i had hoped to read too, but that was probably too ambitious an aim... might have to borrow that one... or wait for their next holiday, hehe)
well, enough of this. one thing i've not been able to enjoy is getting any more sleep than i usually do. *yawns*... here's to trying to not make the problem worse :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

ju-on // mayfest

ever since finding out via my parents a few weeks ago, i had been wondering how (if indeed i would need) to field queries on this. maybe nobody would really care, if indeed anyone would even notice. but i couldn't avoid the inevitable, such as this from a friend of mine:

fom: hey are you going tomorrow?
me: nah i wasn't invited.
fom: really?
me: yeah. the rest of my family was, but not me.
fom: wow she really knows how to carry a grudge...

well i don't know if he's right in labelling it a grudge, but it's definitely something and i know when i'm snubbed. oh well, nothing to lose sleep over.

so instead, i slept in. then went to get lunch from mayfest. it seemed a lot bigger this year, but that may be because previously i had never really ventured beyond the food stalls. i was actually a bit worried when they weren't where they in their usual spots... so i wandered a bit more and found them (along with lots of other happenings) on the oval. after surveying the food offerings, i walked around a bit more to see the rest of the attractions and took a few snaps before returning to satisfy my original purpose for coming - makan!

besides the roti canai guy who i know and who i've come to expect to see at mayfest, i was surprised to see some other familiar faces at the stalls. the line for roti was quite long and slow, so i bought some satays ($1.50 each!) to keep me company while i queued.

even then the wait was longer than i bargained for... good thing i had time and a vitamin D quota to fill :p a couple who were behind me gave up and walked off at about the halfway (betweeen end of queue where we joined and the point of ordering) mark. but i don't think they knew what they weren't getting - i wonder if people were willing to wait that long because they valued what they knew they would get at the end, or maybe they just wanted to see what the fuss was. either way, it was a well patronised stall. didn't stop the masses from grumbling though - about the sun, the wait, and the seeming inefficiency of the production line...

didn't hear any gripes about the prices, which i thought were a bit steep. but it's not often you get freshly cooked (to order) roti canai in these parts, so i shelled out $11 for one serve of "the works" and one of roti with egg and curry. while waiting for my order to be served an elderly gent came alongside me and asked what the food was, as he had never seen anything like it. maybe i shoud have asked for a discount for the free promotion i gave :p don't know if he queued up later to buy any though. anyway, i couldn't wait to get these babies home and tuck into them... they left my stomach and taste buds quite satisfied :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

steven curtis chapman concert

they kept saying how it's been 18 years since he last came to brisbane, and that hopefully the next time won't be another 18 years. i didn't know who he was 18 years ago... but in the past few years i've become somewhat acquainted with the music of steven curtis chapman, and last night i went to see him live in concert.

i took a video too, but the sound turned out pretty bad cos i think the mic got overloaded by the loudness of the music and the pumping bass with enough kick to make your whole body feel the movement of air. of the two albums of his that i own, one's all about love and the other has a fair few slower songs, so i had kinda forgotten that i actually don't generally like SCC's music all that much, mostly because his style is rockier than where my preferences lie. i only started listening to more of his songs after looking closer at some of the lyrics and finding them to be helpful, and they're the drawing card for me to keep listening. i suppose that's the way it should be; as one speaker at church once commented in relation to the controversy over Cliff Richard's "The Millenium Prayer" (setting the words of the Lord's Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne) -- there is no sacred music, only sacred words.

anyways, the concert was an average-ish experience for me, partly due to the loudness/rock factor, and partly due to my only being familiar with a selection of his work. i did appreciate his giving of background on some of the songs, and sharing from his life. there was a fairly extended segment on the whole adoption thing which his family has increasingly supported in the last few years. i first found out about this while reading the liner notes on the all about love album, and think that what he and his family have been doing and championing is just such a great thing to do, and for very biblical reasons. check out shaohannah's hope for more info.

as the above pictures bear witness, the view wasn't the best when people were standing (which was for probably half the concert). perhaps it would have been a more memorable experience (and better photos taken) if i had stayed longer after the concert. i didn't leave immediately, as some people did, so i did get to see the encore. but i missed out on the chance to get CDs autographed and photos taken with the man himself. it actually never crossed my mind that such an opportunity would exist, but a friend of mine who stayed longer than i did just that. oh well... not that i'm much of an autograph hunter and celebrity chaser... but maybe next time -- he promised it won't take another 18 years!

Monday, May 01, 2006

and on labour day thou shalt play

i don't really know much about the origins of labour day - i'm just happy that it's a public holiday which means i don't need to go to work, i can sleep in, and i can play :) i guess it's fitting that labour day celebrates (in part?) the move towards less work, which you could say leaves more time for play :p

although i've lived in australia for most of my life, there are a few games/activities which i only first tried when i've travelled outside of australia. one example is (tenpin) bowling - there are a number of bowling centres around town, but i didn't bowl a single ball in australia until i had first bowled a few games in taiwan, singapore and malaysia (and i think that was all during the one holiday). since then i've played a few games in australia, and my aim is always just to break triple figures - something i don't manage all the time...

another example is the board game risk, which i've only played once in singapore last december. it was quite an unexpected thing as i'd dropped in on a group of strangers and they were about to start a game so i joined in. dropped in on another group of people today (not strangers this time) and they were about to start a game of risk too, so i played my second game. this time i managed to win, hehe... with a fair amount of luck on my side i might add :p

for dinner, we walked out of a japanese joint cos the food we wanted to order was going to take 40 minutes (probably should have asked before we sat down), and settled on coffee square. i've been here a few times and never really felt comfortable there cos the joint does not feel very english friendly - maybe it's ok for the non-chinese who eat there, but as a chinese person who doesn't speak cantonese in this honkie establishment, i feel a lack of welcome and service. tonight they got my order wrong, which meant waiting an extra 20 mins for the right dish to be brought out, by which time my friends were either fully or mostly through their meals. at least it tasted pretty nice, and was filling.

then it was back to the house... js had brought his ps2 and i happened to ask if there was anything easier to play (he was playing some dragonball game in between his turns at risk, and i pretty much stopped playing computer/video games when they got beyond having 2 or 3 buttons to control :p). this was when i had my first experience with the eye toy! we fired up eye toy: play and we had quite some fun waving our arms about and generally getting a bit of a work out - so there was some amount of labour involved after all! ;)