Archive for 2008 年 07 月

Pierce photoshoot

Haven’t been exercising these days, so i forced myself to bring my bike out for some sweating session. Was delayed when i had to pacify my niece so had to pedal more furiously to reach Lower Pierce to capture the sunset.


Project Love Sneakers

A couple of days after my birthday, i went down to Novena Square with two pairs of my old running shoes. Running Labs had organized the Project Love Sneakers to get people like me to donate old running shoes to the needy (Salvation Army) in Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand.

Now, there must be rewards for doing so. If not, I will take the trouble to go down there specifically on a hot saturday afternoon. And, i chose to go on the 19th because i will get a $70 voucher instead of the usual $50 on other days. And the offer is only available during 12~2pm.

When i reached the shop, i was pretty (but not really) surprised there was a crowd outside. There were several people queuing up, each with a pair of running shoes in his hands (there was no ladies in the queue). A counter was set up outside the shop with a guy inspecting every pair of shoes to ensure they are still in working conditions.

I joined the queue since thats what i came for. The guy at the front of the queue was rejected because his shoes were too dirty. The admin guy shook his head and advised the owner of the dirty shoes to wash and come back again if he wish to try again. The owner also gracefully accepted that his shoes were not presentable and went off. In a total contrast, the guy behind him came out with a pair that was almost new. This really caught the admin guy by surprise and he repeated claimed “Very good, this is very good~" and asked the owner if he was seriously donating the shoes off.

At this moment, i start to cast doubts on my pairs. Both pairs were Adidas and one pair was pretty old, around 4 years? while the other was around 2 years. The older pair was not worn anymore because it had uneven soles which made running very uncomfortable. Walking around was fine though. The other pair was one of my fav with the ClimaCool feature that really was very cooling on my feet. I gave up that pair of shoes because i think i should give it up to someone who can get a chance to wear something decent. The admin guy took a look at my shoes and said to me “I can only give you one voucher for these". While i was trying to figure out which pair didn’t make the mark, he said again “Only one voucher per person, both pairs are OK. Do you wanna donate one pair or both?" I thought, i am not going to come down again to get the voucher so i should just donate both. I gestured for both and he took them gladly and passed me the voucher.

Beside the voucher, i was also given a goody bag. I was not really expecting it, was kinda pleased and feeling sianz over it. I meant to go to take some photos after this and this good bag really was in the way. This unplanned baggage really spoiled my plans for that afternoon and i could only go home after this.

To satisfy my trigger happy finger, here is a photo of the goodies inside the bag.

The contents were one toiletries bag, one Clear shampoo, one Nivea sunblock, one Nivea mens facewash, one pack of Clorets, two bottles of VitC drinks and one small laundry bag. Not bad.

This donation drive ended in July.

Jack of no trade, Master of (Wrong) Timing

Yesterday nite, i was in a similar predicament. Remembered that i cannot forgive myself for getting the car at the absolute wrong timing? I am still trying to get over that.

As of last nite, the pump price for Shell 95 is at $2.029 per litre after discounts. This is the 4th drop in price since i got my car 2 months back, having seen the price once soar to something like $2.30. To say the truth, i am very surprised by the drop in price. I used to have the impression that all petrol companies are single directional when it comes to pricing and any chances of increasing the profits made must be taken. So, having seen a series of drop in prices, i am gladly taking my suzie out for rides, something i wouldn’t imagine doing few weeks back.

So, i tot, i should take my chance and pump petrol when the prices are low ($2.029 is the lowest i see in my car possession days). I thought the prices will be going back up soon.

Just imagine my face when i see that the price today in the Shell station displayed $1.934 for Shell 95.

It dropped another 10cents overnite, meaning, had i waited, i would have saved $2.00 for the amount i pumped last nite.

Yeah. Another mis-timed incident in the life of me.

Movie review – 赤壁 (Red Cliff)

Red Cliff is based on the famous historical battle 赤壁之戰 that happened sometime in the winter of year 208. 曹操 with his vastly superior army and navy, set upon the comparably weaker 東吳 ruled by a young ruler 孫權 who had just formed an alliance with 劉備 to dispel 曹操 whom they thought was trying to dethrone the young and useless emperor. This battle shows how a smaller weaker force overcome a larger one through schemes, wits and trickery. Also, this battle marks a point in history where the country was divided into three warring states thus beginning the time of 三國時代.

Pls click here if you wish to know more about this event.

I had waited in anticipation for this show ever since i got to know who-is-who for the casting. The supposedly cool, calm and brilliant 諸葛亮 is portrayed by the ever so yantao 金城武.

Was actually kinda disappointed when i saw 諸葛亮 flustered at the beginning of the show. My impression of him is, he is always in control of the situation and there is almost nothing that can un-nerve him.

周瑜 (梁朝偉)

In the novel, 周瑜 was a petty man who although was much more brilliant than his peers, could never outwit 諸葛亮. Not so in this show, at least for part one.

孫權 (張震)

趙雲 (胡軍)

Didn’t think that 胡軍 was the most suitable actor but he did impress me. Is a more important character than his master in this show.

劉備 (尤勇)

They always cast someone who looks ever so ordinary to be 劉備 simply because 劉備 was someone ordinary. He was not as good a fighter as his sworn brothers 關羽 or 張飛, nor was he as clever or knowledgeable as 諸葛亮. He existed because of his benevolence towards the common people.

曹操 (张丰毅)

Also portrayed differently from the novel in which he was the ultimate baddie. Scheming, suspecting and a very good battle commander, the 曹操 in the show is no different except he is very humsub as well.

關羽 (巴森扎布)

Dunnoe anything about the actor. He carried the role pretty ok in my opinion. However, the director likes to show him rushing towards the battle in the same pose and i felt that perhaps too much was done trying to show 關羽 in a fashion that most people would expect. A bit fake.

張飛 (臧金生)

Also another unfamiliar actor to me.

甘興 (Nakamura Shido, 中村 獅童)

The way he pronounced words can tell that he is not chinese. Funny to hear something like that in a chinese epic.

孫尚香 (趙薇)

What did she see in 劉備 anyway?

小喬 (林志玲)

The supposedly 5min bed scene with 周瑜 was nowhere to be seen. 33.3% was terribly disappointed with the bandage scene poor singaporeans are getting. Disappointing if you are watching this show because of her.

曹操’s substitute for 小喬 (who cares?)

1) Storyline – 22 / 30

Was kinda disappointed because the story went along kinda slow and a lot of stuffs were added in, perhaps to lengthen the show or to take the focus away from the battles.

2) Entertainment value – 19 / 25

Was expecting to see some intellectual exchange between 諸葛亮 and 周瑜 but there were few. There are a few times in the show where it was meant to be funny but i wasn’t sure. Before entering the theatre, i expect to see a something serious. During the show, i could be forgiven for thinking it’s a comedy.

3) Cast – 16 / 25

The actors weren’t bad. In fact, they are some of the most experienced actors around the industry. I didn’t quite like the arrangement of the roles and actors because i had some expectations (because of the novel) so it was not really the director’s fault.

4) Pace / Flow – 14 / 20

As i mentioned before, the show could have gone to the main battle on the river had not been for some scenes which is unnecessary in my opinion. Sad that i have to spend more moolah to finish the whole show.

Overall: 71/100

This show falls short of my expectations but should be interesting for those who have not read the novel or history books. Recommended if you are not planning to catch 林志玲 in the bed scenes.

This show pales in comparison to “The Dark Knight" i watched couple of days back. Although similarly at two and a half hours long, i enjoyed “The Dark Knight" tremendously while struggled a bit at 赤壁. I now understand that i am not enjoying the show when i catch myself looking at my watch too often.

Movie review – The Dark Knight

“The Dark Knight" is the second batman film by director Christopher Nolan following the success of “Batman Begins" in 2005. Christian Bale resumed as Batman/Bruce Wayne and this time, he teams up with Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) to tackle the mobs. Katie Homes is replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal for the role of Rachael Dawes, still a prosecutor now in love with Gotham’s new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Michael Cain and Morgan Freeman continue as Butler Alfred and Lucius Fox respectively.

But what is the really eye-catching, attention grabbing cast of the show perhaps, is Heath Ledger as Joker. He gained to fame through Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, a very well known gay show. His performance as Joker was nothing to do with gay. If you haven’t catch this show yet, be expecting a very strong, dark, scheming and sinister Joker, very different from the one by Jack Nicholson in “Batman".

His death on 22nd Jan 2008, after the filming of this show adds another sombre tone to the whole show. The already dark atmosphere and tone of the show dimmed more.

Ok, what is the plot? Pls stop here if you plan to catch the show and hate spoilers.

Batman has to some extent, become an icon in crime-fighting as well as an outlaw. Thugs are scared of him, police wants to hunt him down. So the mobs are desperate, Joker appears. He offered to help the mobs get rid of Batman, but he is ultimately not after the money.

He is out, on a philosophical level to prove that man, even the most noble ones like Harvey Dent and Batman, can be brought down and corrupted. He managed to do so with Harvey Dent. Even when the Joker was caught and locked in a police station, i cannot help but feel that things are not over yet. It was all part of his plan, one that got Harvey into a accident while Batman was trying to save him. Harvey became Two-Face and both he and Bruce Wayne lost Rachel Dawes.

There are conversations in the show, between Alfred and Bruce about what Batman should do, can do and cannot do. Joker has quite successfully exposed the weakness of Batman, that Batman, as a crime-fighter, cannot resort to under-hand means to achieve his goals. And there are occasions where Batman nearly lost it.

1) Storyline – 28 / 30

“The Dark Knight" picks up from where “Batman Begins" left off. This is not your typical super-heroes movies that focuses only on the superhero and his antics. Rather, this show take a deeper look into the mindset of Batman and Joker and Harvey Dent.

2) Entertainment value – 24 / 25

Extremely entertaining, even though the show is long at 150min+. Just when you think everything is coming to an end when Joker is caught, it isn’t.

3) Cast – 23 / 25

I enjoyed Heath Ledger’s performance very much. I think he really spent a lot of effort on this role, he really went into it. To prepare for the role, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character’s posture, voice and psychology, and kept a diary, in which he recorded the Joker’s thoughts and feelings to guide himself during his performance.

Bale didn’t disappoint too. He showed what Bruce Wayne’s struggle to continue as Batman and what it takes to bring a criminal like Joker down, especially when he lost Rachael Dawes.

4) Pace / Flow – 18 / 20

The story continues strongly and towards the last 20mins, it differs from other typical super-heroes shows by not having a climax fight. Rather, it ends off with the viewer feeling for Batman.

Overall: 93 / 100

Again, i must stressed that this is not your typical Spider-man, Superman kinda shows. While being extremely captivating, it also brings down the overall atmosphere and the viewer will leave the theatre a sadder person, entertained nonetheless.

Should make it to one of the top three movies of this year. Heath Ledger should get an award, at least a nomination for his role as Joker.

Birthday wishes

Today, 16th July is my 29th birthday.

I noticed that my feelings towards my birthday are not the same every year. I remembered looking forward to being sixteen but dreaded the “O" levels coming then. I remembered crossing over the teens and being twenty, something i saw as gaining adulthood. I remembered feeling a tinge of sadness when i was twenty-five, having cross the mid-mark of my twenties but here i am now, in my last year before i get into thirties.

How should one feel at the age of 29?

For some people i know, 29 is kinda symbolic becos it represents a year in which they make a final dash at their careers, hoping to reach another peak by the time they are 32~35. Some see 29 as the age to get married and settle down before 30. While i would like to carve out a career, i just don’t see how fulfilling and satisfying my current job can take me to. Engineering at my level is rather pathetic, a breakthrough in my current job is almost impossible and i can only look forward to every saturdays papers. While i would very much wanted a home of my own, i don’t see how it’s possible in the coming three years at least. HDB, in my opinion, did not set out to achieve cheap and reasonable prices for new homes to take care of people like me, but thats another story.

I won’t say i am very much looking forward to life after 29. Its just another year, another step towards working till the day i die and getting caught in a rat race like majority of the population.

So if there is one wish that can come true for me, i hope i can have the mental strength to take it all. By all, i mean:

1) Stop harbouring the hope that i am going to find an engineering job that is both satisfying mentally and fiscally. Engineering jobs suck at both for me. I should spend more time focusing on generating passive income but due to my laziness, complacency, i gave up trying.

2) Be receptive to how my parents’ health are not as good as before. I am not comfortable when i see that my father cannot perform simple daily tasks or my mother complaining of aches and pains. Its like some part of me cannot accept that as they grow old and with age, health problems will come. Some part of me just wish that they will remain the same, which is sadly, never possible.

3) Stop trying to be too smart. It was my own fault when i tot i had gotten a good price to buy my suzie. If i had waited, i would have saved a few grands at least, or may even have not bought the car. Yes, having my own car feels special (i won’t say shiok with the current oil prices and fucking ERP), washing little suzie actually feels refreshing (while the fad is still there) but there was really no need for me to get a car.

4) Stop reproaching myself on point above.

5) Find something really meaningful to do. I have always wanted to continue my japanese class but was not determined enough.

I wish i can be stronger, mentally, to take the daily challenges and whatever shit the gahmen throws at us.

1K servicing for my suzie

My little suzie hit 1k mileage sometime last week but i only managed to get a appt with Champion Motors at Pandan Cres for a servicing date this week, yesterday actually. By the time i arrived at the workshop, the actual mileage is 1319km and i was 10min late.

Nevertheless, my car was promptly sent to the workshop after the servicing guy ask me a few questions. I highlighted that i brought along my own engine oil, Carlube 5W30 which cost me $59.90 at Tampines Giant. Speaking of this, only on friday evening, i was jalan-ing at AMK hub NTUC when i saw the same oil selling at $39.90. I was disgusted that i lost $20 over one week’s difference. Pui~

Anyway, i found a comfortable seat at the waiting lounge and read the sat papers i bought earlier. Its gonna be a two hours wait so i better make myself comfortable and occupied.

I went to the showroom nearby to take a look at the rally SX-4 on display. Its not really a rally car per se. The spoiler, decals and larger rims set it apart from mine, not forgetting to mention the extra $5k in price too.  I was not really impressed, the extras-loaded swift caught my attention instead. Coming now with a touch-screen audio system with GPS, auto-folding side mirrors with indicators, new 3 tier boot, i think its really value for money and sure to give potential Jazz/fit buyers some serious considerations.

It was time to collect my car and they give it a good wash and wipe as well. The rims are clean again, they even gloss the tyres. The service guy noticed i had some deep scratches so he offered to apply some paint onto the scratches to prevent them from rusting. I am really satisfied with the service i got.