Archive for October, 2004

Back from Shanghai

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

Long week, very busy. Monday , forgot what I got up to, but I think I wrote an article or something. Actually, it was Michael and Ivy’s birthay, so we ate very rich chocolate cake, then I went off to the TV station to say some stuff, and back to work to do some writing. Took a cab to work in the morning with Nako, took a cab home in the evening with stuff for the Shanghai conference. Tuesday I called a cab, put the suitcases in the taxi and went off to the airport, dropping Naoko off at work onthe way. The flight to Shanghai was OK, sat next to Michael the whole way and chatted, listened to music, read the Bang Devils – 100 pages. Michael slept, I drank beer. Didn’t bother trying to watch the stupid movie. Got to Shanghai, got picked up by the driver that had been arranged for us, he sped through the city like a race car driver, we got to our fairy castle hotel in no time at all. Checked in, freshened up, rushed off to the main hotel for a rendezvous to go off to the speaker’s dinner. Sat around there drinking red wine, hobnobbing with senor bankers of local and foreign banks in Shanghai. Nice food in an old villa, great courtyard, elegant tables, ate crab and pickled sea food and other yummy stuff. Sat with a banker from South Africa and another guy from India, but working in a foreiegn bank in Shanghai. Some nice speeches, some card exchanging, and then a tour of the place. Nice old trees. water and fire coinciding (a fountain with little nooks for candles, actually, a huge urn for water, and a green leather Gucci sofa that Jackie Chan always wants to sit on when he comes. OK. Got back to the hotel, had a late meeting, then some sleep. Wednesday was a busy long day. Got up at 6, showered, didn’t breakfast, then off to the hotel. Speeches all morning, lunch, speeches all afternoon. An interview with a senior Chinese banker, and lots of moving around. Nice cocktail session in the late afternoon, then off to another ritzy dinner with the Shanghai Bankers Association at 3 on the Bund, some famous building that is just full of ritzy restaurants. This one was OK – nice view of the Huangpu River and the buildings all lit up, and a nice private room in the middle of the space just for us, with a nice bar, and all that. Drinking more red wine. Great. Chatting in Chinese, hearing speeches. Great food – Italian, I think, and some fantastic fricasseed cod. Back to the hotel, late meeting then I got to work on a report from the event. Ouch! Writing in the boss’ room, he fell asleep, I let myself out, then off to my hotel. The cab took less than 2 minutes to get there late at night. Funny – I thought the place was further away, but I guess not. Slept at 2, up at 7, then off to do work at 8. What a day – so busy, no time to shave, have breakfast or even lunch. Did a talk, some interviews, and then at 5:30 it was all over. Went to eat with the whole gang, we had lovely crab again, pan fried snake, other fun stuff. Lots of beer, new friends, good laughs, and then off to Xintiandi, where there are discos and pubs. We tried one, then finally settled on another. There was a Philipino band playing. They were quite good, but the first songs that they played didn’t exactly inspire boogie feet. Then, after a few glasses of champagne, it was off and running and dancing. Great fun. My boss was itching for us all to go out, including the ladies, but after me nobody followed. Oh well, I had lots of fun, got my exercise, made a few new friends, and when we left around 1:30 I was pretty worked up. Took a cab home, the cabbie got lost and drove us all over the place, even though we showed him the hotel’s card with the address and a map on the back. Incompetent. Oh well. Got to sleep late. Friday woke up at 8, went for breakfast at the hotel’s crappy buffet (the setting was marvelous, but the food and selection was uninspired). Went back and wrote a report for the day, that was good. That took a while, and we hooked up to the interrnet and had a really hard time getting our pages up. Frustration. Went off to buy DVDs down the road from the hotel. Found tons and tons of good ones: two Korean films Everybody Has Secrets and Oldboy, five Wang Kar Wai films (Chungking Express, Days of Being Wild, Happy Togetherr, In the Mood for Love, and 2046), Coffee and Cigarettes, Fahrenheit 9/11, Spiderman 2, Dodgeball, the Matrix, and Kill Bill Vol. 2. I also got Season 1 and Season 3 of 24. I hoped to get Season 4 of the Sopranos, but they didn’t have it. I was eying the Godfather box and the Star Wars films, but in the end I didn’t get them. Had a nicie lunch of Shanghai noodles with beer – 2 people ate for S$10, which is cheap. Off to the airport in a cab, on the way there we got a call asking us to come back and pick up stuff to take with us back to Singapore, but by that time it was too late. Oops! The flight went OK. A creepy Shanghai lady sitting next to me, chatting a bit, but she slept later on and I finished my book and listened to the Beastie Boys and Nagisa Nite. Nice. The book was OK. Michael seemed to have made a new friend who talked to him throughout the whole trip. Drank quite a few beers, but low alcohol level, nice premium Shanghai beer. Got through customs, met Naoko and Zen, took a cab home. Stayed up late checking emails and fun stuff like that, talking to Naoko aboug Shanghai, and other fun stuff. Saturday we woke up at 8, I dropped Zen off at his school, then went back home. At 10 we went to the school and watched Zen’s performance. It was fun – Zen came out and held up two wants with stars at the ends as part of a shapes song. He was in the back row. He didn’t do much, but he was smiling the whole time and having a ball. Different from last year when he was spaced out, cried, then walked off from his dance number. Then they came out and did the carrot-pulling farmer song/skit. He was the mouse, so he came last. Apparently, he was supposed to be dressed up as the dog, but didn’t like the look of his costume, so he became the mouse and came out last. Nice skits, good dancing among the 5-year-old girls, and afterwards we all ate a nice lunch and hung out… Zen played with some of the kids, then we went back to the apartment. Tried to get Zen to nap, but that didn’t work so well. We tidied up the apartment, then Yuping came over. We chatted a lot all afternoon, Zen was kind of misbehaving. Tired and sleepy, but wouldn’t sleep. Then at 5, as we were watching Spiderman 2, he finally dropped off. So late! We let him sleep until 6:30, then woke him up. And now we are about to go out for Indian food.

Shanghai Scenes:

Joanna on the Bund

All things good or un-good

Monday, October 25th, 2004

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go. Today was a bit of a letdown. Went downtown by train and bus to look into buying a few things. When we got on the bus near our home we saw Zen’s Chinese teacher on the bus, so we chatted with her for a while. Zen was shy and wouldn’t look at her, but later took her hand as we walked from the bus to the train. She explained the mystery of what Zen sings in Chinese all the time. He has a performance next Saturday and is often singing things to himself. Got off at Doby Gaut and went to Plaza Singapura to the Yamaha music shop to look into buying Zen a tin drum. Naturally they didn’t have any. They did have a few left handed guitars, so I tried them out. They sounded better than the Korean guitars I tried last time. I sure would like to get a new guitar, something different than what I’m playing now. Maybe my loved ones can get together and buy one for me for a Christmas present this year. I am pretty much decked out in clothes and consumer electronics at the moment. The only thing I “need” at this moment is a guitar, I guess. And maybe some software for the Apple. Hint hint. They also have a cool “bass guitar pack” that I am thinking of for Naoko. With Zen on drums, Naoko on bass, and me on guitar, we will have a band. That sure will be fun! After the Yamaha shop, we tried looking at Carrefour for a drum, no such luck, so we got Zen a toy bus instead. After that, up Orchard looking for lunch. We thought we’d try a sushi carousel place. Looked OK from the outside, but when we saw the sushi we were a bit turned off. One squid sushi was really disgusting. We ate 7 plates, 13 bucks, and then out of there. What a disappointment, but now we know better. Went up, it started to rain, ducked into the Paragon to check out the celebrity photo exhibit and the “Walk Don’t Run” carpet, then up Orchard to look for cell phones. Almost signed up for a 2-year deal with a free Nokia thrown in, but then the goofballs discovered that our work permits are expiring within 6.5 months so we were disallowed. Bugger. What a waste of time – failed in our two missions and had a crappy lunch to boot. At least Zen got a nice new toy bus out of the deal. Went to McDonalds for coffee and icecream (ice cream is on ly 35 cents!!), paid by contactless card (the one that we usually only use for transportation). Nice. Then Naoko went off to work, and Zen and I went home. Zen wanted to take the 67 bus, although there was no 67 bus coming to the bus stop. I told him we had to take 77 bus. So he asked me to sing him the “67 Bus Song.” So I made up something on the spot to make him happy. Zen fell asleep in the bus, I got him home and into bed, he slept from 2:45 to 5:45. I watched the end of “Snow White,” and a bit of “Bambi,” then did some prep for work and took a nap for an hour. Zen woke up, peed his pants and the sheets, I did a load of laundry, folded the dry laundry and put it away, took Zen for a walk, cooked dinner, washed the dishes, and washed Zen. At 9:00 mum and dad called, at 10 Naoko came home, and at 10:15 Zen was sleeping. Now it is 10:45. Might go to sleep now…

Turn left, turn right

Sunday, October 24th, 2004

Hey, another nice Saturday. Woke up, lounged around, went to the bank at around 11:00 to set up checking accounts, fun stuff like that. The staff girls liked Zen so much, they were swooning over him, how cute he was, etc. One girl even told me “he’s more handsome than you are.” Gee, thanks. Naoko had to go to work, so I went with Zen by bus to one of the MRT stations, then rode the train for a while, then back to Clementi station, then by bus back home at 2. Ate a quick lunch, then sleep. Zen slept for nearly 3 hours, and even I slept for 2 hours. Woke up and put Snow White into the VCR. We have had this video for a while, but haven’t watched it yet because Zen always insists on Winnie The Pooh. Snow White was pretty interesting, in an old-looking way. It must have been quite something at the time. I never realized it before, but Dopey is clearly modelled after Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers. Funny… Zen woke up, we watched Snow White, then Pooh, then off to buy daipers, then Naoko came home, then dinner, and a long walk. While we were out, Naoko’s motherr called, so Naoko mentioned the plan to go back over new year, which made her really REALLY happy. After skipping 2 new years in Japan, it is really time we should go. Well, not we, but Naoko and Zen at least.

DVD Review – Turn Left, Turn Right: sappy, sometimes funny romantic comedy about a man and a women who find each other, lose each other, find each other, lose each other, and then in the end of course they find each other. Their lives intersect, but because they are constantly JUST missing each other they never really meet. Well, of course they do, but that is how the story builds on an interesting yet difficult premise. Quite a good film, but ultimately pretty sappy. Based on a book of drawings that was all the rage in Taiwan a few years ago, apparently. Funny caricatures o f insane suitors pursuing the couple, who are never named and only go by their student numbers. Funeral for a merry-go-round. Crap cake. Good stuff. Good Polish/Chinese parallels at the end, and then the unlikely earthquake…

DVD Review – Snow White: The story, well known by everybody, but nice to finally see from start to finish. Great picture, funny singing (totally different than what would go over in a Disney movie now). Funny dialogue: “Our cobwebs are missing.” “There’s dirty work afoot!” Strange nightmare sequence in the forest with scary alligators nearly parallels a nightmare I had as a kid that I still vividly remember to this day. Weird. I noted how the dwarves are singing “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go” as they are coming home FROM work.

eating eating eating...

Friday Friday is a good time to shine

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

Because you can only walk down main street so many times.

Today was an OK day. I went to the Ministry of Manpower today because I got something in the mail. Went before work because it is near my work. I haven’t been there for nearly a year. Got there and saw a sign that informs that they have moved. What a drag! Got to work and did a few things, then myy co-worker told me he was going to the real MOM, so I went along with him, got my stuff, found out that I can mail it in and I only need to show up one more time to get my paperwork. Cool!!! Went off to the library and returned my DVDs, then back to work with a Subway sandwich. Did work all afternoon, but somewhat dejected. Worked until 7, then picked up some gin and went home for dinner. Zen was already in the bath. Got him to sleep by 9:30, but by that time Naoko was already asleep. Funny. Watched that Tintin VCD “Flight 714″ that I bought ages ago but Zen never wants to watch. He constantly wants to see “the Crab With The Golden Claws,” never wants to see the second Tintin that I bought. So I finally watched it to the end. It is OK, a bit different than the original comic. What is most different about the two is that in the comic the reader can know what Snowy is thinking (through the thought bubbles) but they don’t carry that over into the animated version. Well, they exploit this point to give “Flight 714″ a very clever ending indeed. I guess the guys doing the show know what they are doing after all… So, now I am drinking gin, suffering from an oncoming cold, and writing this stuff. A cold wind is coming through the windows, it has just started to rain lightly, I can hear thunder in the distance. It will probably be pouring heavily within an hour or so. I wonder if tomorrow will be hot, or just very warm.

In the walkman: Boys Next Door, the Feelies, Syd Barrett, the Kinks, Ziggy Stardust, Salk Vacchim, Saboten Brothers, eX-Girl, Christine 23 Onna, U.

The Zen Report: Zen is really into doing things by himself now. He will pull off his own shirts now, just starting to do that, and take off his daiper (he still wears one to sleep and pre-poo, since he uses the toilet to pee but never to poo), floss teeth, brush teeth. He even demands to have his seatbelt put on. Smart kid. He often askes me to sing strange songs. Like he attaches a word to a song. Like “butterfly.” “Baba – ‘butterfly song’… PLEEEEEESE?!” (Please is said in a higher tone than the stuff before it – try saying it that way out loud to get a feel for the method he has mastered at such a young age). The other day he asked for Godzilla song, so I sang him the old Blue Oyster Cult song. I had some of the lyrics committed to memory, but not all of them. I’m sure he didn’t notice. Zen recently got these simple phonics readers from his neighbour, Sun-wu, they are about 8 pages long and really simple. They are in a series, and he’ll request them by number. “Seven.” “Ten.” Also, he is interested in time, but he is kind of in denial about it. I mean, his favorite time of the day seems to be 7 o’clock. Like it will 8:00, and he’ll say “babba, seven o’clock?” And I’ll say truthfully “no, it’s eight o’clock.” He’ll scowl and tsk and say, “noooooo. Seven O’CLOCK!” Silly kid.

Zen and Manae

Catches fiends just like flies

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

Another Thursday, not too much done today except lots of hard work. Went to the cool little tofu restaurant just across the street from work, and found out that today is the last day that they are serving tofu – they shut down next week. Say it ain’t so!!! Bummer, man. Some glum moments, some laughs, then back to work to write write write. We’re on hyperdrive to get the next issue together, hope it works well. Got home at 8 and watched Winnie The Pooh with Zen. He went to sleep a little earlier today, which is good – third day in a row or so. Hope it is always before 10. He was very clever today – he managed to pull his own shirt off. He is getting better at doing things. We put his daiper on, but he puts the rest of his school uniform by himself in the mornings. He shampoos his own hair and we wash his body, so showers aren’t endless any more. Our little baby is growing up!! He is singing Chinese songs to himself, which is cute and funny. A school performance coming up.

DVD Review – White Zombie: Yes, the band named themselves after this flick, just like They Might Be Giants, Fine Young Cannibals, National Velvet, many more… This Bela Lugosi shocker from 1932 is a creepy tale of newlyweds who get married at a strangere’s mansion in Haiti. Why? Who knows. But Bela Lugosi is an evil magician lurking about. The bride is enchanted, the zombies do the bidding of their evil master, and there is terror. Zombie falls into a grinder, a candle girl, thre are ghostly visions, and those terrible eyes. “Better to see hatred in those eyes than this dreaded emptiness.” Bizarre split screen editing is amusing, and Bela’s expressive face is like Zatoichi’s in the old serial. The main guy looks like a young Harvey Keitel. Spooky seaside castle, giant sets, “the white zombie obeys the evil commands of its demon master…”

lost work

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Something just happened which barely ever happens – I just typed a long entry, and then Safari shut down. I lost everyhing. This sucks.

Today was a good day. Zen was well-behaved, went to work by bus and train in a timely fashion, went off to Raffles Place to listen to a guy talk about Risk Management. It was interesting, but I was really there for the benefit of my colleague, who couldn’t make it. Got to work at 11, did a bunch of stuff, went out to lunch with my colleagues. Found out one of them had once interviewed Iron Maiden. I should ask him how it was – he’s more of an Alphaville/A-ha (and maybe Nik Kershaw) kind of guy, but he said that they were just normal guys. In the afternoon I sat down and wrote a press release. Plans… Stayed late, got home at 8:30. Naoko and Sunwoo were watching Winnie the Pooh. How cute. Zen went to sleep around 9:30. We sent naughty e-cards to Yuki, it is her birthday today, happy 32, Yuki. Then watched a bit of Zatoichi. After Zataoichi… I wrote this… for the first and second time.

DVD Review – Zatoichi 7: Zatoichi and the drunken camera as he tries to nap, but is bothered by a pesky fly. Slash slash slash, the fly ends up in 3 pieces. “Zamamiro.” Take that! So there!! Getting shot at, falling in a hole (kids)), then a dojo fight – 5 on 1 with wooden swords. Cow chewing, talking and eating (this seems to be a Zatoichi theme), “not hungry,” then throwing food on a nasty guy’s tatamia. Zatoichi throws his lot in with a kind boss who is in the midst of a feud with a stuttering psychopath over a river-ford concession. There is a wild underwater fight. “In the dark, I have the advantage.” Kind of like a slasher film, only no “let’s split up.” Bloody head, fireworks. Zatoichi destroys an army, a la Rambo.

Book review – Gates of Eden, by Ethan Coen: an excellent book of short stories by Ethan coen, one half of the dynamic Ethan brothers film directors, presented on a cassette tape, as read by some of the Coens favorite actors such as John Goodman, John Turturro, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi, and also a few nice guys like Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Liev Schreiber, and Bain Boehlke. Naturrally the stories revolve around the typical Coen themes – film noir, geeks, salesmen, gangsters, and cheating wives. There are also many references to Moorhead Minnesota and Fargo North Dakota. John Goodman tells the tale of a tryst gone wrong to some stranger he meets in a bar, very Walter Sobchek somehow. John Turturro tells the tale of the short-lived Minneapolis mob (great Italian accents), as well as the interesting tale of a father who takes his two nitwit sons camping (shades of The Return, but not as grim). William H. Macy tells a story about California’s toughest weights and measures enforcer, seduced by a Japanese woman named “O’hara.” Steve Buscemi tells the tale of a record executive scumbag who is trying to help the cops make sense of a murdered bunny in his bathroom and going through a list of possible suspects. Ben Stiller reads (not very well) about some Jewish murderer remembering traumas from his childhood. Matt Dillon describes the adventures of a college-educated boxer who is slumming, working for gangsters trying to get picturees of each others wives cheating. Crazy, nutty stuff written about a world gone wrong, a world that just… is. Liev Schreiber talks about a guy whose eccentric uncle Morty comes to visit, and also the story of a young Moorehead Minnesota boy and his strange talmud school classmates, particularly one little psychopath who is suddenly “cured.” Great, great stories, if a little bleak, and just as interesting and intense as any of the Coens’ movies.

We three, on the beach


Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Cool, Tuesday’s gone with the wind. But what about Monday? Delays and missed trains, still managed to get to work early. Had our long Monday morning meeting, did some work, wrote some, got an article together, which was nice. Ate lunch with the researchers, which was nice. Other people had meetings, not our team, which was nice. Then I got home – late. Got home and found out that my upstairs neighbour, who I had hepled with some proofreading, had come by witht a bottle of wine and a nice pene and keychain set (I had just bought a nice keychain for myself! Still, it is probably the nicest pen I have ever owned… recently). Stayed up watching Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton (so-so). Tuesday I worked at home. I… er… used some of my morning to phone up the Apple help line in Bangalore, talked to the lady there for two hours to try to resolve my computer problems so that I could usue the computer for work. OK. Nothing resolved, I hung up the phone and did the rest of the work myself. Also, guiltily, I spent some time exchanging political rant emails with some guy who went to my high school and is part of my high school Yahoo group. Yeesh – some people have never heard about Treasury Bonds. OK, whatever. Got to work and wrote three articles, which was nice – finally, out of the way. Wrote until late into the evening. Sigh… Naoko came back around 4, I went to pick up Zen around 5. It was raining so I took a taxi. OK. Found out that Zen has been misbehaving in school recently – by yelling his head off and not listening to the teacher. Goofy kid. We talk to him and he understands that he shouldn’t do that. I hope he mends his ways. He went through a period when he was 1 year old, for maybe a weeke, when he did a lot of screaming. I hope he gets over it. Lovely dinner of liver and tofu and vegetables with rice. Zen surprised us by eating a lot of it, gulping down the vegetables and tofu. Wow! After dinner we went for a walk, and I talked to Tony, then back to do more writing, while Naoko and Zen watched Winnie the Pooh together. Zen was sleeping by 9, so Naoko and I opened the bottle of wine (white) and sat down to watch “the Day The Earth Stood Still.” Naoko got drunk after half a glass and 15 minutes of the moviee and went to sleep. Now it is past midnight, and I am writing writing writing…

The Zen report: he wakes up singing. He sings Chinese songs throughout the day. He wants to pull off the day of the calendar. He gobbles down tofu and liver and vegetables. He loves rice. He tells me “papa, I like school. I like bus. I like taxi. I like this elevator. I like Godzilla. I like King Kong. I like Xavier. I like Sun-woo.” He colours things that we draw for him. He wants to do everything by himself – press elevator buttons, close the house door, button shirts, wash his own face, shampoo his own hair, towel himself off, turn the pages of the book.

DVD review – Kiss of the Dragon, the Return, Heartburn: Kiss of the Dragon – Jet Li as “Mr Smith,” anger issues, creepy gangsters everywhere at the beginning, tense setting, Inspector Richard, savage sadistic beatings, heavy firepowerr, iron fighting, no French spoken among the French, no Chinese spoken among the Chinese, gay government minister. “Theh French are nice people when you get used to them.” Hooker alley run by the evil police. Clumsy attempts at levity, pecker shot off, commando army, scooter as a weapon, tendfer unkle, whoretown Chinese cracker shop, expressive “no!” “I’m not gay!!” NERD “Lapdance” playing over Bruce/Kareem rematch, death of innocents (of course), kidnapped daughter (of course), creepy sensittive guy, “all my Barbies are working,” grim humor. Flag fight, Jet takes on an entire kung fu class. Come. no, you come! The Return – Russian art film, slow start, quiet, water, jumping, cast of fivie, then cast of only three. Grgeous cinematography, mother-in-law doesn’t have lines, money and gangsters, learning lessons, boat to an island, setalng knives, throwing plates, falling, sinking boats. I thought that the ending would be long-suffering, but it was over quick. Heartburn – Jack’s expressive face, flirting, drunk acting, public first kiss, watching a moviei in a movie (Nora Ephron, no wonder), “very bourgeois,” “when we’re married, I want this once a week,” gay waiters trading recipes at weedding while drinking champagne, DROLL HUMOR, talky marriage fim, “divorce is only a temporary soluton.” Long wedding scene, singing baby songs and eating pizza. Masteriece Ttheatre send-up. Kvin Spacey “why does evryyhing happen to Rachel?” “Give him the kids.” “I’m in a buyer’s market.” Mery’ls acting, Jack and creampie, bad kiddie singing, terrible Carly Simon songs. Jack Nicholson and Mike Nichols – third of four collaborrations, Meryl Streep and Mike Nichols, second of four collaborations, Jack and Meryl first of two collaborations (with Ironweed of the following year).

David Byrne self-interview: extra on the Stop Making Sense DVD. “It’s like 60 Minutes on acid. Big suit man vs. four interviewers. “Id like to write a song about hairdos.” I’m sure you wouuld David. “I try to write about small things. Paper. Rabbits. Love – that’s a big thing. Black guy, Geraldo, old man, stoner, lady interviewers, all played by David Lynch. Super strange.

Arbuckle and Keaton 1: cigarette from mouth trick has been repeated, Buster and Fatty both do it. Triple haircut. Fatty as romantic lead (creepy!), money fight, runaway train, Fatty in drag, running on the top of the train, a “hands up clock,” shootout in saloon/bloodbath, Fatty going nuts. Bottlesmash on head, Matrix-like scene with many Smiths and also slow-mo fighting.

The Day The Earth Stood Still: An interesting film from 1951, created at a time when political tensions ran high and making a peace film was liaible to be deemed “unpatriotic.” Sounds familiar. Funny scene of doctors talking about life expectancies as they light up cigarettes and talk about going to get drunk. Excellent special effects for 1951, excellent dialogue, tight script, even the child actor who played Bobby was quite OK. Naturally, the suitor is a creep, and the main actor of the film is a square guy, but othewise excellent. “My people have learned to live without stupidity.” A pprisoner of peace and hisyeria. Naturlaly, everybody suspects the Russins (and not the Canadians). “They dn’t have any wars.” Gee, that’s a good idea.” Klaatu’s phyics lesson. “I like you Mr. Carpenter, you’re a real screwball.” Luscious kisser. “It isn’t faith that motivatees science, it’s curiosity.” Cool UFO interior. Mom mind-fucks kid. “OK,” says Bobby. Wet grass shoes – nice touch. GORT! Klaatu baradu nikto. Scream!!! “The phone doesn’t work.” “Well, call the phone company.” “I don’t care about th erest of the world.” OK. “The elimination of aggression” is an aggressive act. The trailer is also very good, since it contains the line “the screen has never conceived a creature as this.” DVD also contains a newsreel of the time that shows how tense the situation with China and the USSR was at the time. Bizarre to think…

Zen and Manae at the garden center.

pissed off

Sunday, October 17th, 2004

Hey, a crap day today. But I guess I should start with Friday…

Friday I went to work, went around, did many things, went off to lunch on the Singapore River. Pizza at Harry’s. That was nice. Then off to the Esplanade to return DVDs and books, and to get more DVDs. Got White Zombie, the Day The Earth Stood Still, Zatoichi 7, and a Buster Keaton/Fatty Arbuckle thiny. Nice. Went back to work, than at 6:00 went off to the Fullerton Hotel to hear a Bush/Kerry talk. Pollster John Zobgy was in town to talk about this sort of stuff. Presenting several interesting points of view, then there were a few economists to give their views about the outcome of the election – which guy should win and the eventual outcome. Zogby said that 98 percent of Americans polled could not name 5 Canadian states. It made me wonder how many could even name one Canadian province? How many were aware of Canada? How many thought that Canada was a part of the US? Or how many thought it was a part of China? Yes, it could fall any way. Naming five US states is quite easy, acctually, if you think about it… Afterwards there were drinks and snacks. I met two bankers and stayed way too long. I was hoping to get home early…

Saturday Mitchan and Manae were to come over. We woke up and did lots of sweeping and cleaning. Gee, that was fun. They came before 9 before we were finished, so we hurried up and then went off to the East Coast Park together. Went down to the beach, then rented bicycles. We got a bicycle built for three, and Mitchan and Manae got one for two. Nice. Drove around for two hours, then went and got some food. Aggravation, but the kids had fun playing. Zen wanted to see the train ride in the abandoned amusuement park down there. He loved it so much he wanted to stay in the blisetering sun to enjoy it. Oh, great. He fell alseep in the car, and we went home. Naoko and Mitchan watched some Japanese drama while Zen slept. I did some computer stuff, although didn’t get much done. Then off to see the flower center on Clementi Road. Nice place, cool to relax in. Saw two dalmations, took some video, hung out, enjoyed the flowers and trees. Then drove off to Jurong Point to have dinner at Seoul Garden, all you can eat barbecue. We had to kill 30 minutes before we went in, so we went to a furniture store and bought a mini-step for Zen, the shape of a fire truck. He loves it. Seoul Garden is kind of crappy environment, although the food was OK. The drinks were terrible. Oh well. Zen freaked us out by standing up on his chair and pulling down his pants, making to pee. Took him off to the toiilet for that. I hope he doesn’t get into the pee-anywhere habit. Got home, rode off to get some beers, the kids fell asleep, and we watched half of Zatoichi 7 before we got sleepy. I went to the computer and downloaded the chords for “My Way.” Turns out it is not too hard to play, although it does use the icky B minor chord. Oh well.

Sunday we woke up at 7:30, went off to do grocery shopping while Mitchan and Manaee went off to their church. Zen was a bit naughty in the mall, he was fighting to push the cart, but then after a bit of crying he changed his tune in the taxi and was a nice boy. Thanks, Zen. Were home early, so I went for a swim with Zen. He enjoyed the water a lot. He did his peeing thing again after our swim, but I managed to pull him to the gutter. Ate lunch, Zen slept from 3:00 to 6:30. Massive, MASSIVE rainstorm in mid-afternoon. First it got darker and darker, a huge thunderclap that sounded directly above us scared the life out of us, then it started to pour rain. I worked at the computer, but unfortunately managed to screw up my settings. I can no longer use my email, and I can’t see my pics in the pics program, my music in the music program, what a mess. I am back to square one. I need to get some help on this one, obviously. I also need help setting up Naoko’s Japanese side. What a mess. Who knows when this is going to get resolved, if ever…

cool books, cool films

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Nice day today. I worked from home, which meant a bit of goofing off, but it also meant I could take Zen to school by bike, watch part of a DVD over lunch, do some household chores, and chill out. I also wrote a ton of stuff and was probably more productive than I would have been at the office. No commute time, chatting with colleagues on Messenger, being productive, gorgeous sunlight coming in through freshly laundered shears, great. Now Zen is lying in bed with Naoko, they are getting ready for sleep. Zen is calling me to read a book with him… A gorgeous evening to top a gorgeous day, nice cool breeze coming in through the windows…

Tuesday was an OK day. What did I do – wrote an article in the morning, went for a riverside hamburger with Alex and Elena, saw another colleague at the same place, ran into the CEO of a local bank as we were walking over, enjoyed the sun and the boats passing by.

Wednesday… I did a bunch of small things at work, ate Risk Management Chicken (Thai sytle), listened to Gates of Eden, an audio book by Ethan Coen narrated by the usual gang of Coen brothers actors (Steve Buscemi, John Torturro, John Goodman, etc., also Matt Dillon), came home at 8, took Zen for a short stoll, then after he went to sleep stayed up late watching Pandora’s Box. I was sooo sleepy…

DVD review – Stop Making Sense: The great tour film of fantastic songs by the great band Talking Heads is really a David Byrne experience throughout. The film starts off, you see a shadow, then a leg, then DB walks through the backstage area, gets onstage, and sings the wonderful “Psycho Killer.” Then Tina Weymouth comes out for the next song. Then Gerry Harrison for the third. Then Chris Franz for the fourth, and with each song more and more people come out. Great. Most interesting of the film is to watch DB himself, his eyes popping out of his head, a white man who can dance (sorta), wired and wiry, compellingly handsome somehow, intense eyes. Creepy stare. Weird epileptic Nazi performance, no tie suits, Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” performed, unfortunately, but is made up for the fact that the next song, the excellent “Girlfriend” features Byrns in his big suit. By the end of the concert, there is plenty of goofing around with the onstage musicians, and there are about 12 people onstage. Cool guitar jam for the final song, “Cross-eyed and Painless,” a song I was not familiar with.

DVD review – Pandora’s Box: A German film, made in 1932, probably one of the sexiests films I have seen, largely due to the stunning performance of the slnky Louise Brooks, an American actress who beat out Marlene Dietrich for the role of Lulu, a slutty chick who flirts with a bunch of creepy guys, innocent yet carnal. Sure, the themes of sex, prostitution, and murder are implied, but they are nevere actually shown and large parts of the narrative don’t really make sense, but who cares – Lulu lights up the screen.

Book review – Lobotomy, Surviving the Ramones, by Dee Dee Ramone: Dee Dee’s book reads part sensitive narrative by a confused soul, part nonsense from a nutcase who turned to drugs out of some sort of weirrd, helpless desperation. Out of school from an early age, he somehow wrote some of the Ramones’ greatest songs. Plenty of depravity with Johnny Thunders and Sid Vicous, tales of Nancy Spungen and other lowlifes in the early New York punk scene, 17 years of touring taking its toll on Dee Dee, who became a rapper, lived in Holland for a spell, and hung out with David Lee Roth. Funny tales of admitting to liking the Bay City Rollers. In a sense, thtis book was more enjoyable than the Neil Young biography, although the massive drug taking is just as senseless, as is the hatered of fellow musicians Joey and Johnny. Rest in peace, Dee Dee.

Many Movies

Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

Today was an OK day. Got some things done, got scolded by the boss, got good news, had long meetings. Ate a nice lunch, enjoyed my new Agnes B. keychain and new Agnes B. cardholder. Simple pleasures. Fun reading the Dee Dee Ramone story. What a nut. I’ll never forget the recent Onion headline “Ramones Reunion Nearly Complete.” Yes, three of the original four Ramones have died, only Tommy Ramone survives. For how long? Zen was happy when I came home and wanted to sit in my lap as he ate his dinner. Funny kid. Now I am here trying to get my email to work. Sighhhh…

DVD Review – Triumph of the Will: An incredibly chilling film or Roman spectacle. Flyght s hots magestic, airiel shots of Nuremberg and friendly crowds yet ominous imagery. Hordes of Hitler Youths frolicking in the camps, brianwashed youths who would all probably end up being eaten by the machine. If any of them are alive today at all they would be 90-year-old men. Strong healthy fun for the shovel brigade, “you are not dead, yo ulive in Germany.” Military mood of a non-military groupings, but everybody is small next to Hitler, the little man. Quiasi-religious activities and the intriduction of a rogues gallery. Each group had its own uniform and dagger while being outwardly “non-military.” Yeah, right. Interesting commentary. Apparently goose-stepping was hard on the knees and heels. Go figure. The DVD contains another Leni Riefenstahl film called Day of Freedom. Shows Germany’s small military of the time, going through pointless exercises. Neither interesting nor suitably chilling.

DVD Review – The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl: The natural companion piece to Triump of the Will, a film about “the most important female director of all time.” Portrayal of a beautiful young dancer and actress who devoted years to the editing floors. Probably more a produce of perserverance and influential friends Riefenstahl, who died a few years ago, is a batty 90-year-old woman who talks with conviction of her innocence and deep sadness of the destiny she had to live, yet is not repentant. Spoke of hitler’s demonic magnetism. Replays Triumph of the Will endlessly, remarking at the small scenes. Made some crappy films at the 1933 Nurenberg Rally, nothing like the 1934 scenes that end up in TOTW. Looming close-ups of Hitler in the film were the first most Germans had ever seen. “You must be peace-loving,” he says aggressively. Like Sadako’s video in Ring. Three men seen from afar are Hitler, Goebbels, and Hess. Scary… Leni apparently had a hard time walking and talking at the same time. Strange protests. Lived in Africa with the Nuba tribe, now extinct, for 8 months, sleeping on the ground, and was happy. Weird underwater photography with bubbly bubbly sounds.

DVD Review – Zatoichi 4: See Zatoichi try blind sumo – of course, he is invincible. He fights assassins on the beach, becomes involved in complicated politics, has a showdown at an old house. Naturally, everybody stitll wants to kill Zatoichi, who cannot be killed. He meets a woman from his past, now a fallen woman, who is too confused to know what to do. Corny ending with an old lady, a couple, and a bad samurai.

DVD Review – The Fearless Vampire Slayers, or Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are In My Neck: Wild Roman Polanski black comedy he made with Sharon Tate, whom he married, and who was pregnant when she was murdered with some friends by the Manson gang. The beginning has barely any dialogue, then nonsense after 45 minutes. Strange spider webs, fearful bumbling vampire hunters sleep in the same bed fearing a Jewish vampire in a cofffin boat. A search for the real vampire? The professor puts his pants on two legs at a time. Castle hijinx and the frozen professor. No reflection scene with the gay vampire is quite funny, as are many other scenes, like the ludicrous and creepy book bite scene that is apparently quite famous. Fun chase, magnificent use of architecture, and a nutty baroque dance scene where the living are obviously living, the dead are obviously dead, a dance woo, and mirrors give our heroes away again. Nice snowboard coffin, and fantastic ending to the whole film.

DVD Review – : Nutty opening scene of Zero Mostel wooing old women. The first 30 minutes of the film are in the producer’s apartment and it feels very much like a filmed play, but then escapes to the romance in Central park. Hilariously sadistic grandma and her blanket. Zero’s facial expressions are priceless. Casting for Hitler, Lorenzo Saint Dubois (LSD). “Psychadelically speaking…” Campbells soupcan necklace, pretzel bra. Depressing third act of the play “Springtime For Hitler.” They chose not to stage the Metamorphosis because it was “too good.” “I love my adopted country.” A really over-the-top movie, but different from The Fearless Vampire Killers.

DVD Review – Kill Bill Vol. 1: Scary opening with too much personal violence. The film gets into gear quickly and devolves into a hopeless display of personal violence with groaning villains slashed open and an armless bitch flailing around, but very much still alive after losing nearly all of her blood. “I’ve been alseep for four years!” How did she know? Buck’s truck, kind of like “Zed’s dead, baby, Zed’s dead.” Elle Driver the coolest thing in a trenchcoat, her eyepatch adopting a red cross. It’s the little things that make the difference. Like the multiple sunglasses on the dashboard in the small town sherrif’s car. Cool Bill never seen in the first movie, Charlie Brown the Japanese wiaterr, Go Go the psycho 177-year-old stands the best chance against the Bride, then the snoy courtyard and the brains. Yuck. Cool scenes of the 5,6,7,8s and the bare feet onstage. Nice DVD extras like a video for the 5,6,7,8s song. Thank you.

DVD Review – Grease: Cool animated opening, pretty OK songs, but this film is nowhere near as good as Saturday Night Fever, never in a million years. One of the most interesting things about this PG film is the ammount of sexual innuendoes that abound, and the massive flirting among the individuals in the film is quite hilarious. Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, humping dancerrs, Travolta’s pink socks, “the Blog” at the drive-in, sexy movie hot dog and bun, Rebel Without A Cause and pod race references, and “Among you may be another VP Nixon.” Danny Zuko as a letterman, and a slutty Sandy very funny.

Political Speech Review – Bush vs. Kerry 1 and 2: OK, so the two goons made speeches. Bush is a whining guy who sounds like he is protesting his decisions, then repeats himself numerously. Kerry has a chance to get angry, to point out that Bush lied to the American people, but doesn’t bother. REPETITION! Kerry pushes his website. Domestic issues finally get addressed halfway through the second debate. Finally! Blue and red ties, Bush’s rising tones, personal anecdotes that are fake-sounding and rehearsed. The looks on George Jr.’s face while Kerry was talking were so priceless – kind of like “this is the first time in four years I let some other guy talk and I had to button my lip – I HATE IT!!!”

DVD Review – Zatoichi 5: Zatoichi swears he won’t kill a woman. OK. He beats up gamblers that are trying to cheat him, he slices a candle before he goes berserk in the dark – excellent fighting. People try to ambush him, bad move, he helps a nobleman’s daughter who has been kidnapped, helps people, plays mind games with bad guys, nasty scene where he forces a bad guy to ead a persimmon he has sliced in half. Sharp!! Slaughter at the end is chopped off, just like the second film. Strange Zatoichi endings, but always good.

DVD Review – Sherlock Junior and Our Hospitality: Two astounding Buster Keaton films on one DVD. Our Hospitalityy uses the same situation as in the General – Buster is a poor guy in the south trying to impress a girl whose snobby family won’t have anything to do with him, except this time it is about a family feud. Well whatever. Buster hides out from people who want to shoot at him, everything very clever. Very funny train scene. In the scene at the end, he has a terrible problem in a river getting washed away, nearly going over a waterfall. A stunning scene to consider that he was his own stuntman. Would Jude Law risk his life to do a spectacular stunt? I don’t think so. Really edge-of-your-seat stuff, even in this day and age when we think we have seen it all, Buster Keaton has already done it all. Sherlock Junior is just as good, with a nasty scene where Buster is hanging onto a water pipe, is then blasted off by a raging torrent of water coming down the chute. Apparently he broke his neck after that stunt, but never went to the doctor and just allowed his terrible injury to heal naturally. A fantastic shot as Buster jumps into the movie screen and moves around into surreality. Great scene in a pool room as Buster shoots to avoid the exploding number 13 ball, very well staged. Later he jumps THROUGH an old lady. How did he do that? Funny parallels to Les Vampires as Buster has a sidekick just like the detective in Les Vampires did. Old American streets are really a jump back in time to see what things were like at the turn of the LAST century. Fascinating. Buster on a solo bike, drives safely across the roofs of 2 trucks (Buster is never really in harm’s way), cool bass music, and excellent sailboat car. Funny ending as Buster cribs from the movie to woo the girl.