Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Land Surrounded By Water

I wanted to post an entry yesterday but all of a sudden my internet connection started screwing up. And whenever I'm totally free to blog, there seems to be nothing to blog about.

When it comes to the weekends, one of the most popular activities is going to the movies. Which is why I hate going to the cinema during the weekends. Why? Not only is it expensive, but it's crowded as well. And I hate crowded places. But for those who don't mind mingling with the crowd and have some cash to spare on a movie, the most obvious question then arises, "What movie should I watch?" Nobody wants to waste $9.50 on some lame movie.

So this weekend in order for you make get a good return on your $9.50, go and watch The Island. Forget any reviews that you've read. This is a great movie.

For me, there are 3 elements that make a good movie. The 1st and most important element has to be the plot or storyline. If the storyline sucks or doesn't make sense, no matter who the actors/actresses are or how good the visual effects are, it won't save the movie. When you ask someone who hated the Matrix trilogy whether he/she (mostly it's a she) understood the storyline, most of the time they'll say they didn't understand what the hell was going on. But they'll agree the visual effects were amazing.

The 2nd element is the acting and the visual effects. In other words, how well the storyline is brought to the audience. A good example is the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The acting, music and visual effects were so good that even if you didn't give a rat's ass as to what happened to Frodo and his gay gardener, you'll get absorbed into the film once you watch it.

The 3rd element is how well the movie showcases the genre it's supposed to be in. If it's action, how good are the action scenes in the movie? My friend said Ong Bak was a great movie. "Damn action-pack", he said. "How about the storyline?" "Aiyah, the storyline simple la. But damn action-pack." Also, the more genres the movie can touch without compromising the plot, the better. I like those movies where they include brief moments of humour at the right time. Or when there's a little suspense in the midst of all the action.

A movie that can effectively bring out each element and combine all of them will definitely be a great film. And that's why I'm recommending The Island. It does exactly that.

I had heard that movie was really good from my friends, so I went to watch it with my super super super lovable girlfriend. Most of the time when I decide I want to watch a certain film, I won't read the reviews. I'll just look at the number of stars or the rating score alone. Sometimes I feel that reading the reviews spoils the movie for you in a way because they reveal certain details that take away the fun from watching the movie.

For example, I didn't know that Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson were (highlight if you want to know) clones (a fact that was revealed in many reviews which I read later). When I was watching the film and found out that that they were actually clones, that came as a plot twist to me because I didn't expect it at all. It's the small, small unexpected details like these that can enhance the fun in watching the movie.

This commercial was used in the movie

Aside from the cool storyline, the great visual effects and the HOT Scarlett Johansson, the action scenes were great to watch. There were a few times when I literally went, "Woah" because the action was so fast and intense. You know the style of cinematography where they film the action scence on a hand held camera? The shots then become unsteady, messy movements as you follow the actors and the action, which gives you the feeling as if you were right there in the scene running with the actors. (If you don't understand what I'm saying then never mind. Haha.) It's one of the most common kind of shots when it comes to actions movies. Now most of the time I hate that kind of cinematography because you can hardly see anything at all. All you can see are blurred motions, and unclear shots of people running or fighting all over the place. Your eyes can hardly focus on anything because of the unsteady movements.

This was done in The Island as well, but surprisingly, I could see everything clearly. Nothing was too blurred or moving too fast that I couldn't who or what it was. And I was even seated in the 5th row. That not only shows how good the action was were, but how well the scenes were shot also.

So if you're going to catch a movie anytime soon, be sure to catch this one. =)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Best Team Of 10 Years

A poll from Soccernet:

Agreed. Anyone has to admit Arsenal's 49 game unbeaten run was great, but that was only in 1 competition. However, to win 3 trophies in a single season like Manchester United did, it takes consistency right from the beginning of season until the very end.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Foot Coverings

I got tagged by Claris to this baton and since I'm quite free right now, here it is.

Total Number of Shoes you own:
1 pair of football boots
2 pairs of sports shoes
1 pair of leather shoes

Apparently I don't have a lot of shoes.

The last shoe you bought:
An Adidas Tuscany. Mine's a bit different from the picture though. The stripes are black instead of blue.

How many shoes do you have underneath your work desk:
I don't have a work desk but I probably won't put any shoes underneath it.

Five people to whom I'm passing this baton:
Whoever wants to do it. I'm starting to feel sleepy to think of anyone.

Time for an afternoon nap. Only had 5 hours of sleep last night. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Another Day At Work

I just came back from work and I feeling really tired so I'm going to try and keep this entry short.

Today's banquet was pretty easy. The occasion was the founders' day of a certain girls school. Before it started, I was a bit nervous because it was only my 2nd time working for a banquet dinner. But I wasn't as nervous as the first time because this time we were able to do the portioning of the food at our side station, meaning we didn't have to portion the food in front of the guests.

When the doors opened and the guests started coming in, I saw something that I'd never seen before. Everywhere I looked, there were girls taking pictures. It wasn't that taking of pictures that was unusual. But it was the fact that it went on ALL NIGHT LONG. I mean, they just wouldn't stop. Even while we were serving the food, they would be standing around, taking pictures with their friends.

The good thing was that serving the food on the tables was a breeze because everybody was standing around so there was lots of space on the table itself. You just had to be careful while walking around with the food.

It was like a mini adventure navigating around the tables. Most of the time I was carrying orange drinks on the oval tray because it seemed like everybody was asking for it. You had to watch your path and make sure there was no one in the way. However, most of the time was you're walking, someone or a group will start taking a photo right in front of you and you have to quickly go another way. There were even times when I was trapped by girls taking pictures behind and to my right and left. It was only when someone speaking or performing on stage that they stopped.

I don't blame them though. It's only natural for girls to want to take lots of nice pictures on special occasions like these when they dress up. If I was one of them, I'd be taking photos too.

I actually thought of finding a replacement for my work today because I didn't really feel like working. But I'm glad I didn't. After all, what could be better than being surrounded by over 700 pretty girls?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Would You Like Some Coffee?

I've worked 4 times at my current part time job as a banquet waiter. It's been alright so far, but the crappy thing is that each time I work, I'm assigned to a different place. So every time I work, it feels like my first day on the job because I have to get used to a different kind of environment and learn a different way of serving the guests.

The first time I worked at a Chinese dinner. My second time, I worked on a meeting floor where we had to serve the food to each seated guest on the table. The third time, I worked at a lunch buffet where it was pretty simple. All we had to do was clearing and then fixing up the room after that. On Thursday, I worked at another meeting floor where all the refreshments were outside the meeting room and we had to make coffee for the guests upon request.

I made some mistakes each time but not too serious ones. I'm learning something new each time. One time, I didn't really know how to operate the coffee machine and when there was a slight malfunction, I didn't know what to do. Then the guest started to do everything by herself as I helplessly looked on. My captain then saw everything and came to help but I got a small scolding later on.

I've learned to carry the big oval tray as well. I was a bit afraid to carry it at first, because I've heard of stories where other waiters have dropped it and had their pay docked. Although I didn't fall, I did have a backache when I woke up the next morning.

The people I've worked with have been nice enough to help and guide me as well. Some people will just answer you with a "dunno" whenever you ask them something. The aunties are pretty good to work with as well. They seem to know everything like the back of their hand. It's just that sometimes they get very fussy over the small details and end up having to do unnecessary work. Like my captain said, "This job no need nice nice... I want fast fast."

Another thing I've learned is that common sense isn't so common after all. Sometimes when you thinking you're working fast enough, you'll see someone else doing in another, faster way. I thought that moving 6 or 7 chairs at one go was tough, until I saw a China guy moving 12 chairs. I thought that it was tough rolling 1 table, until I saw another China guy moving 2 tables at the same time, 1 hand controlling each table. Some of these guys are just amazing.

Looks like I've still got a lot to learn. But in the meantime, I'll rest my aching feet.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fantasy Premier League

Anyone out there know how to play the Fantasy Premier League? Got this via lancerlord:

"attention all blogging EPL soccer fans.....the new game season in Fantasy Premier League has just started. So sign up and join the league! =)

Pass code to join : 3463-812

So hurry before the season starts! I believe the league has a max quota of 50 players."

So if you do know how to play, go ahead and enter the league. The more the merrier. Here's my first 11:


My cousin finally told me that they'll be getting DSL soon here at home. Yes. Finally I can surf aroound without having to spend half the time waiting for the page to load. I can read more blogs too. Alright, I'm ending here. I have to report for work in less than 8 hours. Time to get some sleep.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bloggers By The Bay

I'm finally online! My internet access was temporarily cut off over the weekend. I've been using my school's ex-school's top speed 56K dialup system for my internet. So now that I've graduated, I think they've removed my account from the network and that was why I couldn't go online anymore. But a good friend has helped me out and now I'm able to use the dialup again.

Talking about the dialup, although it's a bit slow, I've gotten used to it. Besides, it teaches you patience. The crappy thing is that when I blog hop, some blogs take really long to load and I just give up waiting. And it's also the reason why I can visit your blogs as often as I would like. Visiting every blog on my blogroll and leaving a comment would take me a few hours.

Lots of things were happening these past weekend. There was the 2005 Convention! To be honest, I wanted to go. Just to look around and see what was happening. But I wasn't able to find anyone to go with me. My super lovable girlfriend had to stay home to study for a test and Donavon chose to check out the girls at Sunset Bay instead. Looking at all the pictures now, I really should have gone.

I ended up going with another group of friends to watch Baybeats 2005 at the Esplanade. Although it was really close to DXO and we even passed by once, all my friends were non bloggers, so I didn't want to be an extra and drag them into something they weren't interested in nor did I want to go in alone.

As for Baybeats 2005, we were only able to catch a few bands. We managed to see Vertical Rush, Surreal, an unknown band and this American band which I think is called Brandsten or something like that.

The music wasn't really that good in my opinion. I don't know if it was because I didn't like the genres they were playing or if it was because it was super super super croweded that might have made me a bit biased but the bottomline is that I didn't really enjoy myself. I thought Vertical Rush sounded like an amateur pop-punk band. Is that the genre of their music?

Perhaps another reason why I didn't enjoy Baybeats as much was because I was too busy thinking of the 2005 Convention. Although I missed it this year, I sure will be attending the next one in 2006. =)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Money And The Kidney

The whole NKF-SPH saga. I know that everybody's been blogging about it and that I'm a bit lagging behind, but nevertheless, let me do an entry on it anyway.

The first thing that makes everybody's wide open when they read the article about the NKF CEO is that of his salary. Immediately you'd hear some go, (or you might even say it yourself)

"WAHHHHHHHHH..... 600K...."

I have to admit, that was my initial reaction too. To most of us, $600,000 isn't exactly viewed as "peanuts". And you wouldn't expect someone working in charity organization getting that amount of money, even if he is the CEO. But after reading and thinking more on the issue, I realized the real question should be whether or not Mr Durai deserves his salary.

And in my opinion, like Guo Xing on Oikono, is that he deserves it.

From the New Paper:

"Mr Durai graduated with a law degree and worked in the government legal service for six years until 1977.

During that time, he also studied for and obtained a master's of law in London.

In 1979, he joined law firm Rodyk and Davidson and was there for four years. He later left and was a director in several companies before taking up his CEO position in the NKF in 1992."

If you're good enough to be become a director in several companies, I think that having a high salary isn't surprising at all. Now when NKF hired him, what they hire him for? They hired him for his expertise. Having been a director in several companies, NKF probably realised that this guy had what it took to run their organization and make it a better one. And was Mr Durai successful in doing his job? Let me quote from Oikono:

"He made NKF one of the largest (if not largest) charity in Singapore, in financial terms. NKF is a successful charity with reserves of SGD$187 million (correct me if this figure is wrong). NKF is also internationally recognized as a success with similar organizations in the US seeking to emulate its performance."

So to me, his $600,000 salaray is well deserved.

When I explained this, a friend then said, "But it's a non-profit organziation! He's paid way too much la."

That's true, the NKF is a non-profit organization but that doesn't really matter. What we're talking about is whether this guy deserves the money that he earns. If I hire someone to do a job that's worth, let's say $3000 a month, when payday comes, I'm going to have to pay him $3000 whether my company's a non-profit organization or not. I can't say, "Oh sorry, we're a non-profit organization so we can only pay you $1500." Likewise, it would be absurd and unfair to pay someone $1500 to do a job that's worth $3000 just because you're a non-profit organization. If you want the best, be prepared to pay the price.

Like Mr Brown said:

"If you think about it, a CEO who manages $200 million and is making $500 to $600k a year, is really underpaid. VCs who handle that kind of money are usually paid much much more, usually more than a million a year. Heck, I know of Creative Directors, who are not responsible for this kind of money, being paid more than $25,000 a month.

Of course, if you don't consider the NKF a business, then this point is moot. But I do think that it is rather naive to expect $200 million to be managed by someone being paid $60k a year. I'd be worried if that were so."

However, it's obvious that Mr Durai and the NKF do have other issues to settle aside from his salary.

First off, it's NKF's lack of transparency. When you use the statement, "Every cent counts", it's only fair that you give a backing to that statement. If the NKF had been transparent, people wouldn't have felt so cheated when they found out where all their money was really going to. All along people have donated thinking every cent go to the patients when that wasn't the case at all.

Also, what's up with those bonuses, first-class air travel and golden fittings? Come on, a 10 month bonus is a bit kua zhang (exagerrated) don't you think? I've never heard of anybody get such a big bonus before. As for the golden fittings and air-class air travel, bah, I won't even bother explaining how unneccessary they are.

Lastly and most importantly, the fact is that NKF LIED to the public.

1) They overstated the number of patients by 1000. How do you explain that? Someone accidentally added a few zeros here and there?

2) I'll let the comments left on mrbrown's blog speak for themselves.

"The money donated from the public did not all go towards offsetting the dialysis fees of the patients - in fact, the patients are forced to pay $24m of the $31m, with the remaining $7m coming from the donations."

"When your patients pay 27 million out of the 31million spent - you DID NOT SPENT 31 MILLION".

3) NKF said they had reserves to last only 3 years. It turns out they had enough to last 30 years. In my opinion, this is the worse lie of all. To plead and ask for money claiming you're in need when you're actually filthy rich, that's just downright disgraceful.

After this whole incident, many people have cancelled their donations while others have gone to the extent of vandalising the NKF building. Well for me, I think it would be wrong to stop donating to the NKF altogether. But since they have to much money now, I'll simply donate to charities like the SPCA who need my support more than the NKF.

Maybe in 30 years when they really need the money, I might reconsider donating again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Nationality And Race

Here's an interesting post from La Mason which I found via Tomorrow. It's regarding racism in Singapore. I have to say that I agree with him wholeheartedly on the points he raises in his entry.

Here's an excerpt:

"I can never understand why there is a need to state your race on the identity card. Wouldn’t it be sufficient to know if the person was “Singaporean”? Why segregate the population further by categorizing them according to race? I thought the idea was to minimize racial distinction and make ourselves more as one, being Singaporean first and your race second? Incidentally, classification by race on identity cards was a colonial practice (in fact, the IC was a colonial practice too) when the British Administration thought up an ingenious method to rule over the largely immigrant population."

I've mentioned this point to a few of my friends before. Why do you have to state your race on your IC? Doesn't that go against racial harmony by dividing and categorizing the people? If you're a citizen in France or Germany, no matter if you're Indian, Chinese or any other race, your passport will simply state that your nationality is French/German. That's it. No categorizing of race.

One friend asked me once, "So what race are you ah?"

"Erm, Filipino."

"No, that's your nationality. I mean, you know, like here in Singapore, your nationality is Singaporean, but your race is Malay, Chinese or Indian. So what race are you under then?"

"Eh, I don't know leh. I guess my race and nationality is the same. It's like that in other countries too right?"

And that's when I realized that the system of race and nationality here causes people to adopt race as a part of their identity. It's a double edged sword I guess because remembering your roots and culture is always a good thing but at the same time this categorization causes division among the people.

Here's another excerpt:

"I guess the Singaporean Chinese are the most racist of the lot. Granted, the Chinese are proud of their roots and ancestry (“5,000 years of glorious Chinese history”, as the older generations would exclaim), I see no way racism can be justified at all. There is never such a thing as a “superior race”, as Adolf Hitler found out, rather tragically. Towards the end of the war, Hitler himself admitted that his claim that the Germans were racially superior was merely a convenient means to drum up support for his maniacal ambitions."

Now before I continue, let me say that I'm not anti-Chinese or anything. In fact most of my friends are Chinese. I'm just trying to say things from my perspective and trying to being as fair and unprejudiced as I can.

Referring back to that excerpt, I have to agree with that point too. However, I think that prejudice comes from the social standing of the Chinese here in Singapore. Whether you like it or not, the Chinese have the highest social standing here compared with the other races. And because of that, other races are looked down upon. My friend probably summed up this mentality when he said, "... That's why you don't see any Malays in Shenton Way."

Everybody knows how ugly and destructive racism can be. It destroys relationships and can scar someone's self esteem. But how do we get rid of it?

I was having talking with a friend one day when the topic of racism came up. He said that it was perfectly alright to be racist. I replied and said, "Since I wouldn't want anybody to be racist to me, I don't want be racist to anybody else."

I don't mean to get all religious here but Jesus Christ said it best when He taught these 2 things about living one's life.

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you ..."

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

That's the attitude everybody needs more of.

Postscript: After reading the comments on La Mason's blog regarding this entry of his, it seems like some people think that his comment, "I guess the Singaporean Chinese are the most racist of the lot", implies that the whole Chinese race here is racist. I don't know if that was La Mason's intention, but the way I understood it, I don't think so. When I agreed with his point, I wasn't saying that the entire Chinese race or that every single person who is Chinese is racist. I was just saying that in comparison with the other races.

I apologize if I was sending the wrong message across.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I'm Glad

YES! My uncle's sister, her husband and their little girl have moved out! Her husband went back to his place in Hougang and my uncle's sister and daughter have gone back to the Philippines. I thought they would never go back. FINALLY there's more space in the house, no one to fight with over the television and lastly, this house is no longer overcrowded. Even our maid seemed happy that they went back as I asked her about their whereabouts this morning.

I'm so happy right now, I'm dedicating this entire post to celebrating their departure. =)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Driving Sideways

I finally managed to catch Initial D just a few days ago. I've been a fan ever since I watched the anime 4 years ago so I was quite excited when I heard that a real life movie was going to be released. I didn't have high expectations though, because I felt that this movie was just made to make a profit out of the anime.

And after watching the movie, I'm sure any Initial D fan will tell you that the movie sucked. The development of the storyline was really bad. Parts of the plot didn't link well and the some of the characters like Natsuki (Anne Suzuki) were not properly introduced or neglected like Nakazato (Shawn Yue). Just count the number of lines Shawn Yue has in the whole movie and you'll wonder why he's even there in the first place.

The most important things in the anime like the driving techniques and cars were not elaborated or talked about enough. Takumi's famous gutter run technique wasn't even talked about at all. The technique is actually real, used by rally drivers and it works by grabbing the gutter with the inner part of the tires to counter the centrifugal force, enabling the car to going around the corner without losing much speed.

Also, there are so many things that they changed from the anime. And that's exactly what fans hate the most. Failing to stay true to the story. So let me try to set the facts straight for all those who have never seen the anime before. For the benefit of those who don't remember the names of the characters (aka the Jay Chou groupies), I've added the name of the actor behind the character's name.

(Spoiler Alert)

1) Contrary to their image in the movie, Nakazato (Shawn Yue) and Ryosuke (Edison Chen) are not buddies. They actually have no relation and talk only once in the anime.

2) Ryosuke (Edison Chen) is supposed to be much older than Takumi (Jay Chou) and has a younger brother called Keisuke, who drives a yellow Rx-7 FD. Their father is the medical director of a big hospital and their racing team is called the Akagi Redsuns.

3) Yuuichi (The gas station manager) and Itsuki (Chapman Ho) are not father and son.

4) Major characters like Keisuke (Ryosuke's younger brother) and Iketani (Takumi and Itsuki's friend, fellow worker at the gas station and the leader of the Akina Speedstars) are left out in the movie.

5) A race between Nakazato (Shawn Yue) and Itsuki (Chapman Ho) never happens.

6) In the movie, Nakazato (Shawn Yue) is suddenly passed by Takumi (Jay Chou) while driving one night but in the anime it's actually Keisuke who gets passed.

7) There is no female worker at the gas station.

8) Bunta (Anthony Wong) is not a drunkard nor does he beat Takumi (Jay Chou). He's actually a good father to Takumi. All he does is smoke a lot and drive with his eyes closed.

The God of Drifting

9) In the movie, Takumi (Jay Chou) eventually races because Bunta (Anthony Wong), in order to settle a nightclub bill, asks him to. However in the anime, the events that eventually lead to Takumi's first race are as follows:

The Redsuns (Ryosuke's team) challenge the Akina Speedstars to a race. Iketani, the leader, agrees but after watching them practice, realizes that they are no match. He hears a rumor from their gas station manager that the best driver on Akina is an AE86 who delivers tofu to Akina Lake every night. After suffering an accident while practicing, Iketani realizes Takumi's father makes tofu and has an 86. In a neck brace, He begs Bunta to help them race to save the pride of the local drivers. Bunta merely answers that he may or may not be there.

Takumi asks his dad, Bunta, for permission to use the car for his date with Natsuki. Bunta agrees to lend him the car plus an additional full tank of gas only if Takumi goes to defeat the Redsuns. Takumi doesn't want to race, but running a bit low on cash, the thought of a full tank of gas eventually brings him to race against the Redsuns.

10) Takumi (Jay Chou) and Natsuki (Anne Suzuki) didn't kiss on their first date and Takumi wasn't a klutz like Jay Chou when he got kissed.

11) Itsuki (Chapman Ho) never buys an AE86. He gets conned into buying an AE85.

12) Contrary to the movie, Itsuki (Chapman Ho) and Takumi (Jay Chou) never have a fight.

13) Takumi (Jay Chou) eventually finds out about Natsuki (Anne Suzuki) and her sugar daddy due to someone leaving him an anonymous note in his locker and then dropping him a phone call to tell him where to find them.

14) Kyoichi (Jordan Chan) is not a professional driver.

15) Bunta (Anthony Wong) never ever goes to watch Takumi (Jay Chou) race nor does he take Takumi for a ride around Mt Akina. Yuuichi (The gas station manager) is the only who goes to watch Takumi race.

16) Takumi (Jay Chou), not Bunta (Anthony Wong), is the one that installs the tachometer in the new engine.

17) The AE86 only gets the black carbon fiber hood after Takumi (Jay Chou) joins Ryosuke's (Edison Chen) new team, which happens much later.

18) The new engine's rev limit is actually 11,000 rpm not what is said in the movie: "... the real power of the engine is after 11,000 rpm".

19) A 3 way race never happens.

20) Ryosuke (Edison Chen) copying Takumi's (Jay Chou) gutter run technique never happens because at point during their race in the anime, Takumi is behind Ryosuke.

21) Nakazato's (Shawn Yue) GTR drifts in the movie but in the anime he uses grip driving because he doesn't believe in drifting.

Maybe now you can see the huge difference between the movie and the anime.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More Like Boring

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I've been kind of busy this past week or rather, I haven't had the time and opportunity to sit down in front of the computer and write an entry.

Last week I went to watch A Lot Like Love. From what I heard, it was a movie that many people wanted to catch, after they saw the trailer. And I'll admit that I was one of those people too.

According to the reviews in the papers, this movie was rated quite poorly. Most of the reviews gave 2 or at most 2.5 stars out of 5. And you know what, those reviews were right.

When you catch the trailer, the main thing that captures your attention is the storyline. The intriguing story of 2 people meeting out of chance and becoming friends and then falling for each other at the worst possible moment.

Sad to say however, the storyline fails miserably. Everything happens as expected without any twists in the plot. Well, you may say there's one twist towards the end that enables our 2 lovers to get together, but it's so easy to anticipate that I wouldn't call it a twist at all.

The second attraction, of course, is the comedy. Unfortunately as well, the jokes and scenes weren't really that funny. The level of comedy hardly goes beyond what you see in the trailers. I didn't laugh out loud that many times and neither did anyone else in the cinema. For me, it fails miserably in these 2 areas and that's why it's such a disappointing movie.

So what I recommend is, just wait for the VCD to come out and then borrow it from someone. It's not even worth spending money on. At least I watched it on a weekday and saved myself $2.

More like boring