Monthly Archives: July 2009

Something less depressing

Sometimes things like this is quite entertaining. An old school friend pointed me to this video via Facebook, quoting her, ” She makes me wanna be a lesbian for a night”. Hahahaha.

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Tora-San

Life has suddenly become quite boring and sometimes even depressing. I don’t know why I feel this way so suddenly. There are many reasons to it I think. Maybe a change in lifestyle or environment will do the trick. But I don’t know what. Anyways, I will let the river flow naturally and see where it leads. It should lead to the sea.

Anyways, to soothe the feeling, I watched Yamada Yoji’s TORA-SAN, OUR LOVABLE TRAMP again last night. I have not watched a movie during weekdays for the longest time. Probably a year now and it feels really good. In a way, watching Tora-san also reminds me of Yasmin since she also loves the Tora-san series. It is no small wonder why she loves it. Tora-san is a lovable chap, although I would say if he exists in my life, I would really hate him. But also it would be fun to have him around.

Tora-san is that kind of person. Someone that you really hate having around but will miss him if he is not around. Quite an oxymoron, isn’t it. This is what makes the film so good. “The little imperfections that made him perfect”, perhaps. Tora-san is such a fool, such a “baka”, and he almost always spoils everything he touches but he is at the same time, capable of deep emotions which is very pure and simple.

I am glad I watched that movie last night. At least it felt good for a while. And there are still so many other movies to watch.

Damn, I really miss the movies so much.

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The Passing of the Storyteller

Yasmin Ahmad passed away. When I heard the news last night, I was very much saddened to know that one of the brightest, if not THE brightest and boldest creative soul of Malaysia has left us. I started to recall the warm-hearted Petronas advertisements, I started to recall scenes from her movies, I started to recall her as a person who can be so vehemently stubborn at times but is always, always, so kind. Always so intelligent. Always speaking to your heart. And sometimes cheeky.

I remember the time I worked with her when I was managing the movie channel and we were organising a short film award. The dream that I had was to offer another opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to showcase their work and get an opportunity to get started. It was a dream and pet project and I got everything I wanted. We managed to get Tayangan Unggul to sponsor a filmmaking deal with them, we have the TV channel as a platform to showcase their work to all Malaysians, etc. And best of all, I managed to get in the team a group of creative people that I admire tremendously to help in the project.

So all said and done, we had help from James Lee, Osman Ali, Tan Chui Mui, Amir Mohammad, Ho Yuhang, Liew Seng Tat, Deepak Menon, etc. The gang of independent filmmakers that I truly admire, for their spirit, boldness and industry. And we almost had Yasmin Ahmad.

I remember her vehement opposition to the choosing of the winners at the end and she has written at length trying to convince us why she thinks such and such a work is better and more deserving etc. Wow, she can be just so creatively stubborn. When she believes in something, she will stick to it to the end. And in this spirit, I admire her tremendously and even though she didn’t make it to help us, we remained friends and she still calls me affectionately as “hdoong”, the nickname that I use when I commented on her blog, where I first got to know her and she got to know me.

Yasmin, Thank You and may you Rest In Peace. You will always, always be remembered.

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Movies

Ah, a post about movies. Have been wanting so long to write a post about movies. There are currently so many summer blockbusters in the cinema and one really is spoilt for choice. Big bang movie lovers love the summer movies, for all the visual extravaganza and entertainment, doesn’t matter mindless or not, so long as one is entertained for that couple of hours. Life is hard enough eh, so why not spend some hard earned money on some good fun entertainment. And there you have TRANSFORMERS, HARRY POTTER, ICE AGE, etc.

But for a true movie lover, ahem, or movie snobs, movies like TRANSFORMERS can rarely satisfy them. I for one must admit that I enjoyed the fun in TRANSFORMERS, the visual and especially sound effects, all the running with extra focus on Megan Fox’s upper body, etc. But truly, in terms of substance, what is there in the movie? There is hardly any new ideas, nothing to stimulate thoughts and feelings (except perhaps for the extra adrenaline pump).

But contra this to DEPARTURES. Not many people in the movie hall though but all those who went, I believe, took home with them a certain thought, a certain feeling. Yes, the movie does not have big bangs and loud sound effects and stunning graphical effects, but what it has is something that touches us more deeply into our heart. A message that penetrates our being. It is like eating a really nice dinner compared to eating fast food.

I think I have mentioned before in a post about TOKYO TOWER that one feels like giving our parents a call right after watching the movie. Japanese movies have this kind of effect on me. It really touches me deep. Yes, I do love movies by European filmmakers, for example, but Japanese movies moves me a lot more. A family drama in the tradition of Ozu, DEPARTURES tells not only about family issues but also opens our eyes to a rarely, if ever, touched upon subject matter.

The performance is first class (oh the so cute and lovely Ryoko Hirosue whom I last seen in BUBBLE FICTION, – who is Megan Fox compared to her? Nobody!). The music is superb, with a very strong focus on the cello and we see Pablo Casals’ records everywhere.

It’s a wonderful movie and I hope that you would have seen it before it leaves the cinema. It will be a great treat for yourself and whomever you bring along to watch the movie.

On another note, I think I owe SELL OUT! a short write up here although I have commented on the movie on Facebook when an ex colleague in TGV asked me what I felt about the movie. As I have said in the Facebook post, SELL OUT! is a bold movie. It refuses to follow the more traditional “Malaysian” movies’ footsteps. It criticizes but done in quite an amusing way (although I only really laughed at the opening scene of the movie). It is sort of a musical and may put some people off (I remember watching EVITA and overheard someone at the back saying “oh my god, they are singing throughout the movie! aren’t they gonna say anything??”.) But don’t worry, there are dialogues in SELL OUT!

Anyways, for whatever its shortcomings, the movie did successfully interpret the many ills and problems with our society in quite an unconventional way and this deserves praise. We need more filmmakers that dares to get out of the box.

A side note, SELL OUT! was produced by my ex-company, ASTRO SHAW and for whatever insider stories I have heard about it, from the making to the marketing to the distribution, kudos will have to be given to the boss (I think it was Ralph Marshall’s call) for supporting filmmakers like this.

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Sometimes it baffles

When I read the news of the Jakarta bombing, mixed feelings I have. First and foremost, I feel sorry for the innocent victims. Secondly I feel angry at that cowardly act of terrorism. And thirdly a mixed feeling of blessing because Marriott is the hotel that I stay in when I worked in Jakarta.

Should this happen a year ago, I will most probably be having breakfast at the time the bomb went off. On a count, I spend 30%-40% of my working time in Jakarta as I was also responsible for the movie channel there. That is really a high probability for me to be either dead or injured.

The act of terrorism is a disgusting and despicable act of the highest degree. I wonder what will it take to remove violence from the face of earth. Religion was once very promising in bringing peace to the world. But that is no longer correct. And no longer correct a long, long time ago. What then will bring us peace?

Perhaps the human race is doomed. We fight and kill each other. We plunder and destroy mother nature, which we shamefully call our home. But what other choices do we have? Do we really have a choice? Can mankind ever live peacefully? I mean mankind, not an isolated small community.(My answer is no. We can never really live peacefully for long without bloodshed. There is bound to be some idiots that will stir things up). Can mankind really sustain life without the irresponsible plundering of the earth resources? (My answer is yes. We can live peacefully with mother earth’s sustainable resources. We have a choice.)

From the Bhagavad-Gita.

“There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well wishers.

When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus:

Arjuna said: My dear Krsna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.

… I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krsna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.”

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Japanese Modern Visual Culture – Daicon

Yesterday and today morning we were at the Multimedia University in Cyberjaya as part of the Malaysia Weiqi Association’s promotion of Go in the Daicon event. It was really nice, full of youth and vigor. It is undeniable that the Japanese have been very successful in exporting their culture, from karaoke to manga to anime to J-Pop etc.

It has always been a wonder to me to see people dressed just like the characters in the manga or anime. But it is such a great thing that they did, do what they like, live the moment. Daicon is a great celebration not only of Japanese visual art but also a celebration of the spirit of youth.

Here are some photos (courtesy of my wife of course):

Figurines:

Cosplay:

Malaysia Weiqi Association promotion gang:

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Now That We Know – Secret To Winning Go

Now that we know that the object of Go is to get more points than your opponent, how do we then proceed to study Go so as to become stronger?

Recall from the post below that P(A)=pt(A)+pc(A), then to have more points, one has to surround more territory and/or capture more stones. However, unless your opponent is foolish enough to let you have your way, you will find strong resistance from your opponent so as to ensure that your points is lesser than his/hers.

Now, how does one learn how to create more points? The answer lies in the strategic and the tactical.

Strategic means study materials that increases your understanding of Go as a whole game. On the highest level, it involves the understanding of the basic strategic concepts of Go, such as miai, thickness, sente, gote, aji, value, etc. The next level will be thematic studies of things like thickness, direction of play, etc. Then the next level will be the study of various opening such as the san-ren-sei, Kobayashi fuseki, Mini Chinese Fuseki, etc.

On the tactical level, the highest level are things like positional judgment, strength and weakness of positions and stones, etc. The next level will be general reading ability to execute the strategy derived from skills developed in the strategic level and an indepth understanding of shape. Next level will be the basic tactical skills such as tesuji, haengma, joseki knowledge, yose skills and tsumego capabilities.

To improve on Go, one has to improve both the strategic and tactical skills, not just tactical skills alone which is the obsession of many Go players.

And the final thing is application. Application of the strategic and tactical skills in a real game. Therefore, when one plays a game, it is better to think and apply what one has learned, refine them, learn from the game and think about it again and again, and apply them again in games. Therefore playing games is extremely important to solidify the knowledge and skills. If not, the improvement is just only in your head, a make-belief, until you really start to win games against people you can’t win against previously.

Perhaps this is the way to improve Go.

P(A)=pt(A)+pc(A). P(B)=pt(B)+pc(B). If P(A)>P(B), P(A) wins. Reverse is true. R(B) is player B’s resistance so as to ensure P(B)>P(A).

R(B)={{[S(B)+T(B)] x E(B)]} + M(B)}, where S(B) is player B’s strategic skills and knowledge and T(B) is player B’s tactical skills. E(B) is player B’s experience level and M(B) is player B’s stamina.

If R(B) > R(A), then the chances are that P(B) will be more than P(A).

Ah hahahahahaha. There you have it. The secret to winning Go.

p/s: this is just a fun post done out of boredom. don’t take it seriously.

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