Monthly Archives: June 2005

Totoro's Near Escape

Last weekend a friend from Singapore came and visited us and stayed over for a couple of nights. They brought with them their 3 year old son, who is unbelievably active. I guess all kids around that age is hyper-active. We introduced Totoro to him and he loved Totoro at first sight and played with him, kissing him and all. Since it is now very near his birthday, my wife gave the Totoro to him without my knowledge. The story of this Totoro is that I bought it for her when she fell sick some time back and I wanted to give her a nice surprise. Since then Totoro has been accompanying her and we had some really good time together, especially when did our Chinese New Year MTV. Now that she is giving him away, I felt a bit sad and with a woman's 6th sense, the next day, she decided to buy a new Totoro for the kid instead. So we went to 1 Utama and found a nice one for the kid. Phew! My Totoro was saved at the last minute!!

While we were at 1 Utama, we watched the “Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy” and bought a book, “iCon”, an unauthorised biography of Steve Jobs. I am amazed by Steve Jobs all these while and this book will be the first one I read about his life. Apparently Steve didn't like the idea and banned the book, and all the books published by the publisher, from all his Apple retail shops. I read the first chapter already and will probably write something about it later.

“The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy” was loads of fun to watch, especially watching that depressed Marvin. Hey, he actually saved the day! The movie is not an easy movie to watch and can be boring. After all the action, you will probably emerge from the cinema hall and ask yourself what is going on and what's the point. But for me, it was enjoyable. I was looking forward to it so much.

The crowd in the new GSC cinema is fine but when I walked over to the TGV side, it is completely packed! Incredibly packed! And I suspect they are queing up for “Initial D”. I wanted to watch the movie on Sunday in Mines but it was fully sold out. In fact, news is that the tickets for the movie was fully sold out everywhere. With GSC now out of the game, TGV will find itself struggling hard to accommodate to the demand. People are complaining about GSC, and TGV more so.

“Why is GSC so stupid one? Never show also. TGV that place so dirty and smelly, if can also dun wan to go. Tickets also dun have. Pirate also dun have, if not go buy pirate better.”

Hmmm….. pirates also don't have? Surely they have, I am quite certain about that. Clear copy too. But they are not releasing it. Why? I probably know why but that's a story I cannot share here. If I see you in person and if you are interested, I will tell you the story.

Movies watched over the weekend include “The House of 72 Tenants”, directed by Chor Yuen. The DVD, original of course, was on sale for only RM19.90. I have watched that movie before but for that price, I can keep it in my collection as well as enjoy the special features, including, as I found out later, the dreaded commentary by Bey Logan. I think Celestial is not going anywhere with the Shaw library. They are significantly reducing the Shaw library content from their Celestial Movie Channel and changing strategy now to offer, as their main attraction, contemporary movies. It is all fine but they must not forget that they are here because of the Shaw library, and producing such cheapskate DVD extra features and downplaying the Shaw content on the channel is a terrible sin, at least committed against the Shaw library itself.

“The House of 72 Tenants” is an excellent movie. A comedy and also a social piece on Hong Kong during that era. People are genuinely nice to each other. Sacrifice for the collective good. And as one of the tenants said, “In these times, if we do not help one another, how are we to live on?”. Brilliant piece of work and superb performance from each of the cast. Apparently, besides that, my very learned friend pointed out that this film helped revive the Cantonese speaking cinema. Read her informed review here. And of course, if you all remember, Stephen Chow Sing Chi paid his tribute to this movie via his “Kungfu Hustle”.

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"The key to every man is his thoughts"

The above is a quote from Emerson’s “Circles”.

I was getting so fed-up with the spywares that made my computer crawl like a turtle and I finally did the thing – backed-up my files, re-formatted the drive and re-install everything back. Now, the computer is running so smoothly :)

Today, I went for the launch of the new Golden Screen Cinemas cineplex at One Utama New Wing. One Utama already has a TGV cinema there at the old wing, so this new cineplex is a direct competition. TGV expects to lose about 50-60% of its patrons to this new cinema, according to a source. Many new cinemas are coming up in the Klang Valley, even the Cathay group that manages the Mega Pavilion cineplexes will be coming in to The Curve, which is scheduled to be opened by end of this year. It is a pity, however, to note that all these are happening in the major towns and cities and the smaller towns, including those at the east coast states, still do not have cinemas. So, the pirates and TV still have quite a large market in these areas.

The new GSC cinema is fine, lots of space, a great Golden Class and all but it was rather warm and the lack of space to put up posters is a minus. And they compete directly with TGV. TGV is getting quite agressive now, with plans for many more cineplexes that competes directly with GSC, such as the one planned for in Seremban and Cheras, for example. GSC holds about 55-60% of the market share but if Cathay and TGV teams up and attempts to “fix” GSC, GSC can get into some trouble too, as witnessed now where “Initial D” will not be shown in the GSC circuit, and since “Initial D” is such a strong movie with so much hype around it, GSC being the big boy, will find itself in a very awkward position.

Right after that, we had a meeting with the new guy that has just joined one of our suppliers. With all due respects, he is a really nice fellow but my feeling for people who seem to boasts of his love for Formula 1 racing and begins to ask everyone if he is a F1 fan is too much. I do not go around asking people if they are Go fans. Then he said he loves watching movies and I got a bit excited only to find out that he loves movies produced in Hollywood, not movies as in movies. Then he began to tell us which country he has been to etc. etc. There are people like that in this world. But again, some of them are really nice people and do not have the intention to harm. It’s just that they are not very self-concious. That’s all.

I was reading Emerson again the other day and was wanting to post something here. Here’s an excerpt from his essay “Circles”:

“How often must we learn this lesson? Men cease to interest us when we find their limitations. The only sin is limitation. As soon as you once come up with a man’s limitations, it is all over with him. He lacks talents? has he enterprise? has he knowledge? It boots not. Infinitely alluring and attractive was he to you yesterday, a great hope, a sea to swim in; now, you have found his shores, found it a pond, and you care not if you never see it again.”

This passage rings true to me in every way. People must have a continual effort to “raise himself above himself, to work a pitch above his last height”. If not, there will be stagnation and the person cease to grow, and therefore our interest in such a person ceases as his mind becomes more and more dead by the day. Also, don’t you all think it more interesting knowing a new person who interests you? There is so much mystery, so much secrets, so much thrills and fun. But when you get to know the person up close and personal, and you found his/her shore, your amazement ceases. Your interest ceases. And you begin to look elsewhere. The fireworks are no longer there.

Next I have drawn this and wonder if I can share it here:

hmmm….. need explanation?

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The Smiths and The Masses

So, I have finally watched “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, and what do I think? hhmmm….. one word – Hollywoody. Predictable plot lines, lots of expensive action, beautiful lead players, romance, formulaic love story designed to make you “feel it” and of course, the regular and also rather formulaic humour. Boy, am I in a bad mood or what… but I am quite certain that this movie is forgetable and I won’t miss it if I have not seen it, I think. But then again, who is to tell the future? I may dream of Angelina Jolie tonight, but right now, I have very low opinions of that movie, and also the key players. Good entertainment to some people, and at certain points I felt entertained as well. I am not denying that. The crowds’ reaction in the cinema hall confirmed that the movie is successful and it’s entertaining.

Finally, I have updated my website with some photos from the Malacca (should be Melaka, la) trip and also the section on movies have also been updated as well.

Next project is to translate the Sam Hui song….. the lyrics are really tough…. which probably meant that the people in the olden days have a better appreciation of prose and words. Lyrics nowadays are much easier to understand. Perhaps this is the same case as our “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” – art is now for the masses and the masses are generally mediocre in taste and opinion (now whack me for saying that).

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Packed weekend.

As expected, the last weekend was quite rushed, due to a trip down to Malacca on Saturday, then rushing back for the Beethoven 9th concert at 3.00p.m., with the pre-concert talk at 2.00p.m.

It is really nice to catch up with friends once in a while. I mean, people of course catch up with friends all the time, but in this case, to catch up with old friends in a group situation. 7 families gathered in Malacca, with their respective children (!!). It reminds me of how age and life is catching up. Seeing friends' children grow, all around 3 years old now, reminds me that I am quite behind time and I am off my production schedule. That said, some of my other friends are not yet married, or have not have children yet, but somehow, I sort of envy those who already have children. Maybe I believe Lin Yutang when he said, in one of the chapter in his book “The Importance of Living”, that the chief object of mankind is to reproduce and all other things are invented by mankind to take focus off this main object. He wrote a very interesting essay on this and if I have the time and can find it, I will post an excerpt here. Whether you believe what he said or not is not important. Great ideas and thoughts are not to be accepted wholesale anyway. They are meant to be debated and falsified.

Malacca is quite nice but was unbelivably hot the last weekend. We did the usual round in the A-Famosa area for the sake of the children. Everything is really small scale, actually. Famous food in Malacca include the Satay Celup and the Chicken Rice Ball. To be honest, I have never enjoyed either of them. The Satay Celup is gross, with thick peanut gravy and you put your food inside the boiling pot, sort of like the fondue. It didn't taste nice to me and it looked quite dirty. (See the dirty picture by clicking here). The Chicken Rice Ball, however, is my major complain.

I love rice. I have a lot of respect for rice. And I think rice is the Creator's (if there is one) gift to mankind (or, ahem, Asians). But this Chicken Rice Ball thing, what they do is to squeeze the rice into a ball (almost the size of a golf ball), and therefore, when you eat the rice, it's as if you are eating a ball of starch, not rice. And the chicken was not superb either. The chicken in Ipoh is nicer.

Okay, enough of Malacca bashing, but I really enjoyed the hospitality of my friend. The barbeque was superb. The alcohol was superb. The talking and all were superb. It's really nice to gather and do this more often.

Beethoven's 9th was okay, but no big deal. I think either the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra deteriorated or the conductor really sucks. There is no passion nor coherance in the playing. Luckily the choir saved the day with a superb, energetic, and passionate finale. When Benjamin Zander came and conducted the MPO for Mahler's 5th, the playing was really great. Even a Mahler crazy fellow like me, albeit under-educated in music, can praise the playing, then it has to be up to some good.

Movies watched since the last post on 14th June:

1. “AV” (2005) – Hong Kong
2. “Arahan” (2004) – Korea
3. “Love, So Divine” (2004) – Korea
4. “2 Young” (2005) – Hong Kong
5. “Girls without Tomorrow” (1992) – Hong Kong
6. “Swordsmen II” (1992) – Hong Kong

With the brand new website, I plan to do a section featuring, on a monthly basis, one movie that I feel is great. I think I will start with recommending “Yi Yi” by Edward Yang. And perhaps I will include short opinions on the movies that I have watched. The point of doing this? Perhaps no point, perhaps, hopefully, to be able to share some feelings and some stuffs that I think is great with the few people who cares to know what I think about certain things :)

Yi Yi

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Another lyrics..

Here's another lyrics from the theme song of the movie “Tempting Heart”, one of my favourite movies of all time.

Here is a translation I got from the internet.

How long has it been since we last met?
Thinking of where you are now
Suddenly I realize
You have always stayed in my heart
Keeping me company

How far is the distance between us now?
Your scent no longer lingers
Your shadows are still around
I just need to look into the past
And I could still see you

Let the past be the past
I couldn't love you all over again
The white clouds sailed over the blue skies
If we can't walk together forever
At least let us have the courage to remember
Let us have the strength to hold each other
Let me have the chance to let you know
that my heart has been touched before

I still wish to see you
Have been trying to find your news
Actually you have always been with me
In my heart, you are the guardian of my memories

************

The song in mp3 can be downloaded here (if you are using Windows, you can right-click on the link and choose “Save Target As”.

Tempting Heart

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New website

I jumped into the internet bandwagon quite some time ago, not very long, but I think about 10 years ago. I was fascinated by it the first time I knew it. I remember spending so much time on the internet, and especially online chatting. I recall using the ICQ and Yahoo! extensively the last time, and chatting with people, mostly Americans, on all sorts of topics, but particularly on religion and philosophy. Boy, how much have changed and I hardly chat nowadays, except when I am logged onto the Kiseido Go Server.

I recall learning how to create webpages using just the trusty Notepad, no fancy-fancy software. Every line was hard-coded. The plus point is that I learn the basic language. The minus point is well, Notepad is really the simplest HTML editor out there. I had my first website in 1996, I think. It was hosted by Geocities and there is nothing much there. Then it was completely revamped, and I put in all sorts of contents that interests me at that time, which was mostly Chinese history and philosophy. Then came Mahler. That was the first time I learnt to use two of Macromedia's superb softwares, Dreamweaver and Flash. Then life goes on, and nothing gets updated.

Now, I have just created a whole new website at Bravenet.com and this will reflect my current interests. It will have a link to my blog here, will have a photo album, some information on things that I am passionate about, and also a section which I tentatively call “Notebook”. This section will be used to put up whatever thoughts I have, whether its an extention of a blog entry where I feel like elaborating, or an original feeling not published on the blog, or reviews of recent experiences, whether memories on travel, movies watched, music listened and/or books read, or just some ramblings which will amount to nothing.

All these are self-indulgences. I think I am not doing it for anyone, it's just something I like to do since the very first day I got acquainted to the internet. I am just fascinated. So, let me begin this indulgence now all over again….

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Spywares

As you all already know, the internet can be really great but can also be dangerous and annoying. I have applied for a fixed telephone line so that I can connect using the broadband service but before I even get to broadband, I have over 20 spywares already lurking in my PC. I do not have this problem when I used the CDMA to connect to the internet and this problem started only after I switched to the fixed line. I first noticed it when my modem kept sending and receiving information even though the browser is idle. The following is from Microsoft's website.

“Spyware is a general term used for software that performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal information, or changing the configuration of your computer, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent. You might have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer if:

• You see pop-up advertisements even when you're not on the Web.

• The page your Web browser first opens to (your home page) or your browser search settings have changed without your knowledge.

• You notice a new toolbar in your browser that you didn't want, and find it difficult to get rid of.

• Your computer takes longer than usual to complete certain tasks.

• You experience a sudden rise in computer crashes.”

The full article can be found here.

Out of the 5 points above, I have experienced 4 of them.

A friend recommended that I visit the Microsoft site and download the anti-spyware program. That I have done and I felt slightly relieved after the software detected those spywares and deleted them for me, the feeling is like having the stone removed from your shoe while you are walking, or to empty your bowels after one week not being able to do so.

If you have a similar experience and do not know what to do about it, please visit the Microsoft site, and download this anti-spyware.

My next step before getting the broadband service is to install a firewall and to update my anti-virus programme. By the way, my modem still indicates massive activity even as I type. I just don't know what my computer has received and what information has been sent out.

Lan Yu

Movies watched over the past few days:

1. “Last Life in the Universe” (2003) -Thai

2. “Lan Yu” (2001) – Hong Kong

3. “Born to be King” (aka “Young and Dangerous 6” (2000) – Hong Kong

4. “Beyond our Ken” (2004) – Hong Kong

To watch within the next few days:

1. “Casshern” (2004) – Japan

2. “Love, So Divine” (2004) – Korea

3. “2 Young” (2005) – Hong Kong

All these are old films. Will want to watch “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “The Interpreter” in the cinema, but maybe not so soon. This weekend is very tight. Looking forward to watching “The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, “Initial D” and “War of the Worlds” (I wonder if Spielberg will do a better job on screen than Orson Welles on the radio).

Just a paragraph to stimulate your thoughts before I end this post. I was reading the chapter on Luis Buñuel in Anthony Lane's “Nobody's Perfect”. Quoting him:

“The first thing to say about Luis Buñuel, movie director and disturber of the peace, is that he looked the part. The great filmakers, however rare their own appearance in front of the camera, almost always come to resemble their collected works. No one could sit through a Hitchcock season, for example, and imagine that its creator was a carefree and sexually contented beanpole. Godard is he mad professor, beloved of his students and nobody else; Howard Hawks is the sly jock with money and girls to burn; Billy Wilder grins like a miniature devil from the margins of a gilded manuscript – the imp who knows too much. Buñuel beats them hollow: that square, sawed-off head, the ripe, amusable mouth, the martial breath of brow and chin. And, most of all, there are the eyes. Hooded above and pouched below, they shimmer with the virtues, or vices in disguise, of the Buñuelian gaze: dignity, lubricity, and doubt. You can easily picture yourself being hypnotized by this man; sit through a sample of his movies, and you will think you have been.”

Belle de Jour

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