Archive for November, 2005

One Eeeek!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Another week has gone past, this time with fewer videos or pictures. Monday was pretty regular (although I was on the 6:00 PM TV news for a short commentary on Japanese banks), Tuesday was dull, (although I was on the 7:30 AM TV news for a short commentary on Japanese banks), and Wednesday I worked from home. A very busy week indeed, with many overtime hours, and so was Thursday – a private banking function in the morning for a new Swiss bank setting up in Singapore, in the afternoon an audience with the global head of a bank’s private banking division with the same unit’s head of Asian operations (wow – just came up last minute too!!), then in the evening a lecture for University of St. Gallen (in Switzerland) alumni that was a bit boring because it was about stock market analysis, but afterwards there was a fantastic Swiss buffet and lots of time to nibble and bite. Yum! Got home at 10, went to sleep. Friday more of the same – long meeting in the morning, then off to a credit card event near the Merlion, then another long meeting, then to a banking event from the same new private bank, except this time to the grand opening ceremony of their local branch in the CHIJMES chapel, where there are often weddings. Very pretty inside, and a very nice buffet with great wine. I ate a lot of spinach and paneer (Indian curds) stew, which is fantastic. Went off to a wine bar for a staff event, sayonara party. They don’t take reservations after 9:00, and the meeting was for 9:30, so I had to go there early and hold the place. The place was freezing freezing freezing with the air con on full blast. Some bodacious woman came in wearing a glittery thing that showed off her cleavage and was totally bare at the back except for a thin strap. Sexy, but her back was oddly muscular – she either does more yoga than Madonna or she’s a he! Her group got bigger and bigger and they seemed like they were having a great time. After a while, three others joined my group and we had two bottles of wine, but I was pretty tired – went jogging in the morning, then to three events, and had been drinking wine and champagne since 6:00 or so. Took a cab home, got there at 1:30 or so, then woke up at 6:15 on Saturday morning to go jogging. Wow! Didn’t get too much done, as I was pretty tired, but it was nice to be running. Many mornings recently I was either sick (had a cold for about 10 days), or it was raining, or I had work to early to squeeze in a jog (Monday morning meetings, or a TV thing). After that, we went downtown by bus so that I could mail off the Christmas presents to Japan, which was good. So that’s taken care of, yay. Went down Orchard to see the Christmas decorations, then saw big old picture exhibition along Orchard showing fantastic natural and rural sites that were photographed from a plane, including a heart-shaped island, pics of camels in the Sahara, and many other fantastic and colourful things. Amazing. Went in to Naoko’s work, took a pic, went on to Ngee Ann City where they have a huge huge Christmas tree, yay yay yay. Went to the trains, to Clementi for lunch, then Zen slept, we went along home and slept, I did a few things, then went off to see the Malaysia train, came home and watched a Japanese movie called Ping Pong on VCD, it was so-so. Sunday got up early and went for a 90-minute jog, my last chance for a long jog before the half-marathon run next Sunday. Looking forward to it, the experience was so great two years ago. Nice run, up and down the hills, and it went OK for the whole time, I should be fine next week if it doesn’t rain. Today it was already muggy at 6:00 when I set out, but then a strong cool wind blew in and kept things nice. Happily, it didn’t bring any rain, just stayed breezy and cool, perfect jogging weather. Stayed that way for the rest of the day, in fact, which was also nice. Hooray! Did a lot of computer and reading and napping and loafing, didn’t go anywhere except to run a few errands. Dropped off photos, so that means that tonight we have real print-out photos to put in our album, a year’s worth of prime pics. Nice. Did some lazing around in the afternoon, then Zen woke up and I took him to see the Malaysia train, nice. Monday was a regular Monday, just did all sorts of work and went home at 7:00. I think there were a few meetings too… Tuesday was a fun day – went for a jog, got a lift to Zen’s school from Christy, then off to work – I wrote an article, got a lot done on another, and appeared on prime-time news again, although this time I wasn’t so good. On the way home, found the 30th anniversary box of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run,” so I bought that – great value with a CD and two DVDs at only S$32. They must have under-priced it – Amazon is selling it for US$32!! Got home, loaded it up into the computer, wrote blog, hung out. Akane and her mum were here when I got back, and I was expecting Akane to cry when she saw me, but I said “hello” in a friendly voice before I even walked in, smiled and hugged Zen, and this time Akane didn’t burst into tears!! How nice, for a change.

Funny things that Zen says:

Zen: Papa, I’ve got a small big big nose, you’ve got a small small nose. I’ve got good eyes, I’ve got bad teeth; you’ve got bad eyes, you’ve got good teeth; mama’s got bad eyes, mama’s got bad teeth.

Actually, Zen doesn’t really have too much funny to say. If you want to hear a kid who’s pretty funny, check out my brother’s son, Evan and his blog.

Naoko and Zene and Agnes at work... Peter Zen Christmas tree Zen and tree Zen and tree

Book Review – “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” by D.H. Lawrence: D.H. Lawrence’s 1928 novel, banned for many years in Britain, is freely available in straight-laced, pornography free Singapore. So how bawdy can it really be? Well, pretty bawdy, as Lady Chat’s husband comes back from the war a paraplegic, unable to perform sexually… but also, it seems, unwilling to think too much about the unseemly act of love. Lady Chat soon takes up with a lover, and that is the book. Nice early swearing, long knee-tremblng love passages. Pretty good stuff, really.

Lady Chatterley's Lover

VCD Review – “Battlestar Galactica” mini-series (2003): The doom-laden, gloomy, minimalistic three-hour pilot “mini-series” for the TV show that is now in its second season. The much-loved original, with its bizarre tale of space-Jews (the twelve tribes, with their planets destroyed by Roman robots, go wandering in the deserts of space… probably for about forty years or so… under a wise, grey leader, searching for a fabled 13th tribe) escaping a vengeful enemy, was good fun and full of easy-on-the-eyes babes like Maren Jansen and Jane Seymour, and fuzzy fun guys like Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict. The update is grimy and dour and full of military protocol (is it, after all, post-Iraq invastion). Many complaints – Starbuck and the President, while “strong female roles,” are either boring or unsympathetic. The sexy cylon is a bit too creepy (she’s supposed to be sexy, but her sexiness is also creepy), and the soundlessness of the space battles is a bit annoying too. The “V” meets “Dune” thing is strange. The drums are stylish and interesting, but where are the robots? Are they saving them for later? C’mon, don’t be so stingy with the chrome!! The series starts off with lots of sex – the actors must have taken courses in aggressive necking. Martial theme, as directed by David Lynch. Kind of like Starship Troopers, kind of post-Top Gun. They revive the old “frak” euphemism, so there is plenty of “frak off,” “frak me,” “for frak’s sakes,” and “frak this.” Ground crews, nukes. “God’s retribution.” “God didn’t create cylons, man did, and he didn’t include a soul.” “In case you haven’t heard, there’s a war on!” “You are beyond insane.” “A New Hope.” Kobol hamgul. Waterworld ending. “So say we all. Edward James Olmos slurps noodles.

Battlestar Galactica

VCD Review – “Ping Pong” (2002): A kind of high school “Dodgeball” for adult actors starts off well, but eventually becomes a kind of boring “Visionquest.” Good relationships between characters, funny “date the coach” scene – Takanaka Naoto is quite alright here. Pretty good techno music soundtrack.

Ping Pong

VCD Review – “My Sassy Girl”: The weird Koreann love story of a sadistic/sad girl and a masochistic/dopey guy, broken up occasionally by slapstick violence and freaky fantasy scenes about martial arts terminators from the future. Cute, funny ending shows that maybe – just maybe – in this world there are people who love each other, but will “break up” and stay away from each other for nearly five years for no special reason. Yelling on mountaintops – “that was her way of saying goodbye.”

My Sassy Girl

Sunday with the kids…

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Hey, another nice weekend nearly all gone!! Saturday we had a nice nite, Mitchan and Manae were here, we ate hamburgers (Zen said “yay yay yay!!!”), and beer, the kids had a bath together and then played a lot. Zen and Manae had a great time reading Richard Scarrey’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” book with Naoko, then Zen tossed and turned before finally falling asleep at 10:30. I stayed up late watching “Jules and Jim.” Sunday we woke up near 8:00, Zen and Manae played a bit over breakfast, then when they went off to their appointment Zen wanted to go along, so off he went in the car with them. We were surprised that Zen would just go off like that, because normally he’s so shy but it was nice in a way for him to play more with Manae. 10:30 we got a call that Zen was complaining that he wanted to go home, but we told him to hold on, and in the end he came back after 1:00. Since it’s a monthly meeting, they had cake for all the kids who have a birthday in that month, so lucky Zen got some more mileage out of his birthday. I worked on a new DVD of videos from us and family. Nice. Made a new train track with Zen, and then he went to sleep, I edited DV footage and watched a Star Trek episode. Yawwwwnnn… Zen woke up, took him to the train, with a mission to buy nira and negi for our Korean dinner, but I only found one of those, sorta, so it was a disappointment and a lot of wasted energy, but happily it tasted OK. Now Xavier is over playing with Zen, nice for the kids!

Zen and Manae the four Zen Manae on bench 46A Zen Manae Peter Naoko Zen

DVD review – Jules et Jim: Joyful bliss, friends and lovers. Guys in 1912 translated each other’s poetry before going on to their roles as aristocrats and living in nice chalets in rural settings? Nice scenes in town, indifferent to money, living in cafes. “Et maintenant – a le douche!” Bridge race, sprightly lark, Truffault freezes Jeanne Moreau in her best views, nice touch. Stunning Catherine jumps into the canal. “Jim was late, as usual, because he was an optimist.” Similar mood to Jim Jarmush’s “Coffee and Cigarettes,” same black and white feel. Rich in small scenes, blasting earh, “un curieux – write, travel, translate, learn to live anywhere, there’s a future in it.” I wonder if this describes me! Tale of the guy who conducts a correspondence romance with a girl he’s met only once. “Your breasts are the only bombs I’ve ever loved.” Parallel internal war, died the day before Amistice. First kiss as bug crawls on window, gritty, every day a holiday. “The sky was so close to them.” Ominous cra. She won’t have much happiness. Pajama surprise. Book burning on TV, like Truffault directing Fahrenheit 451.

Jules et Jim Jules and Jim Jules et Jim

Jeanne Moreau, by the way, has a fantastic voice! Here she sings “Femme Fatale,” self-referentially, of course.

Jules et Jeanne Moreau Jules et Jim

Video review – Au Bout de Souffle: I tried to watch this, but the video was such poor quality I will try again at the library – maybe next time a clean DVD version of the movie will be available.


CD review – Madonna, “Confessions From the Dance Floor”: I liked Madonna’s last album (and songs like “Ray of Light,” etc.) so much that I bought her new one the day it came out. The opening song is the best on the album, with its sample from the Abba song “Gimme Gimme Gimme (a Man After Midnight),” and parts of the other songs are pretty funky. The “Sorry” song is annoying in some parts, but it also has really excellent bits, great production. Nothing on this that I like as much as songs on American Life, things like “Hollywood,” “Love Profusion,” “Easy Ride,” “X-static Progress,” or “Nothing Fails” (but, thankfully, nothing is as horrible as “Die Another Day” either).

CD review – Sonic Youth “Goo (deluxe edition)”: Nice reissue of Goo, along with demos of most of the tracks, along with some extra songs and the promo stuff which is just wanky surreal babbling from Thurston Moore, neither funny nor ironic. Strange guy.

Sonic Youth

Ten Days

Saturday, November 19th, 2005

Hey, it’s been a while since I wrote, so in the past few weeks I’ve done quite a bit. Don’t remember too much about the end of the week before last (i.e. Wednesday , Thursday , and Friday ), but I think I saw a few DVDs, I went to a pool nite at a PR firm (free beer, good company, OK music, and pool!) Saturday we started our big adventure, that we’d been planning for a while – a train trip to Kuala Lumpur (KL) and back, with a gorgeous overnight stay at the Shangri-La KL. Yay! Unfortunately, on the morning we left we made a series of bad decisions… Train tickets bought in Singapore are paid in Singapore dollars, those bought in Malaysia are paid in Malaysian dollars, which ammounts to half the cost. This is a ripoff, so I bought online. Wondering whether to book out of Singapore downtown or from Johore Bahru (JB), I decide on JB. So Saturday morning, with two hours to go, we left for JB by bus. Normally, this 20 km journey is fairly slow, but we thought two hours would suffice. I guess it could have, but we waited patiently in a terrible traffic jam, then didn’t get out on our first opportunity to get to the border crossing, then the bus took 45 minutes to swing around and get to the border station, and we rushed through and over. By the time we got to JB station, we had missed the train by 20 minutes. D’oh!!! Zen was terribly upset, and couldn’t understand why we were at the train station but couldn’t take the train. We were frustrated that we’d needed over two hours to travel 20 kilometers. Got a bus ticket to KL, the bus was leaving 20 minutes later, so rushed to the station… Got on the bus, but it still took 45 minutes to actually get on the highway and leave town. This is the frustration of travelling in Malaysia. The bus stopped once at a groovy highway spot, we took this funky picture of a big ugly statue.

highway fish Naoko Zen

Kept going on the highway, then got off at another highway stop, waited a while, then we got on the REAL bus that was going to KL. This one seemed to have better suspension at least… Got to KL, took the train to KLCC (part of the Petronas Towers complex, also known as the KL Twin Towers, for a time the tallest building in Asia, etc.). The overhead train took us one stop, then we went into the Bombardier subway. Some time later we were at the KLCC, then took a cab to the hotel. It was waking distance, but we didn’t know in what direction, and we were tires, so we took the cab. The cabbie didn’t use the meter, so we complained, then he said M$5, and I complained, then he said “OK, no charge, no charge, you don’t pay!!” But we gave him M$5 anyway. Suckers… The hotel check-in was OK, and the room was great – Zen loved it and was saying “yay yay yay” and jumping on the bed. We asked for an extra bed for him – he could have slept in the bed with us, there was enough room, but he rolls around a lot and it would have been hell for us. Housekeeping said that the couldn’t bring us a bed, there was not enough space in the room for an extra cot. Well, the room was pretty big, it seemed that there SHOULD be plenty of room, but they relented, and suggested a baby cot. I thought this was pretty stupid – when we reserved the room, we mentioned a four-year-old, why would they give us their smallest type of room (although it was pretty big)? The cot came, and Zen loved it – he wanted to take it back to Singapore!

Zen's crib

We went down to the pool and swam around a bit. The pool was nice, but the water seemed a bit salty! Later went downstairs, got a cab, went to “Chinatown,” wandered the stalls. Someone wanted to sell Naoko an Adidas jacket for M$60, we walked away and she yelled out “50…40… 30… 20… 10!!!” Amazing that she stopped at 10. Ate crappy food there, the bill was small, took a cab to the KLCC so that we could see it at night time, took a bunch of pictures. The moon was up.

Zen Petronas Tower KLCC

We walked through the shopping mall for a while. Zen found a Thomas carousel and somebody else put money in and Zen got a free ride. Lucky Zen!

Zen riding Thomas

Lots of bank towers: Petronas, AMBank, HSBC, Deutsche, Citi. Great scenery. Walked back home, past the nice pubs, got to the hotel, wandered around the lobby, saw the Philipina performers dancing and singing on the roof of some bar thing. Looked cheezy, but they were cute as buttons, oh well. Nice long sleep in the airconditioned room. Woke up at 8:00, went down for the buffet, had a leisurely two-hour munch on great yummy Indnian, Chinese, and western breakfast stuff. Great goat cheeses too!!

Zen Hoflich and the chocolate fountain

At 10:30 or so we went to the pool to hang out and swim. Some 55-year-old-looking guy was there with a sexy little local 25-year old, weird. Checked out around 12:00, then to the KLCC again to do a bit of shopping and looking around.

Peter Zen cow Petronas Towers by day

Took the subway to the train station early, hung out at the train station buying stuff to much on the long ride. No beer to be found anywhere, bummer! Big disappointment. Got on at 2:30, drove on and on and on. Zen was fascinated by the scenery at first, then he drifted off to sleep for a while. I tried to read, but it was too bumpy and bumpy… Nice scenery – hills, palm trees, banana plantations, kamphongs (Malay-style villages), kids on scooters driving around, farm fields, rivers, monkeys, rhinos, lions tigers and bears… Nice little towns with teeny train stations, other places had trainyards with rotting equiptment. Very interesting. Got to JB, bought our onward ticket to Singapore, spent about one hour at the customs, bypassing all of the people in the terrible queues on their way back to Singapore, then back on the train to go to Singapore. The train stopped at the Bukit Timah Station because another train needed to pass by, so when that train was gone we jumped off and went home by the 77 bus. What a long journey!! Jeez, eight hours from departure in KL until we got to our home. The way up was longer, nine hours, even though the JB to KL bus was actually pretty fast – it took us nearly five hours to travel our first 50 kilometers, then only four hours to go the rest of the way. By the way, Singapore and KL are only 313 km. apart and are connected by direct highway and train lines. A bullet train in Japan could do 313 kilometers in just over an hour.

Naoko and Zen on the train sleeping on the train

Monday was yer regular day, I worked a bit late and took a cab home – feeling sickish, but not sure if I’m going to be sick. The cab got stuck in a traffic jam, my first on the highway home. Some accident, but when we passed it the wreckage had already been cleared. Ended up being quite expensive. Tuesday was a busy day – went to a data centre opening in the morning, then off to a conference held in town by an international investment bank that was held at the Oriental Hotel, just opposite the Esplanade. Wow – what a cool hotel!! The inner courtyard rises up to the top floor of the hotel itself, and you can see all of the levels of the hotel going up from there, kind of like open hallways for apartments like we had in Japan, but all interior space. Very swish. Nice Japanese bento lunch, very yummy. Went to a speech and Q and A from a former CEO of a foreign-owned Japanese bank, then to his press conference, then back to the office to do more work. Bought the new Madonna CD on the way home, its first day of release in Singaore. Feeling sick now, so I went home and had a quiet night. Wednesday, Naoko had the day off and was going to do all sorts of housecleaning, but I still had to run around like a moron all morning getting her and Zen up and running. Got out, there was my neighbour getting in a cab and asking if I wanted a ride. It was on my way to the Oriental, for day two of the conference, so I went along. We split the ride, but with all of the surcharges it’s just about my most expensive ride into town so far. Got there early to interview the CEO of a bank, then kill a bit of time before the next thing – Japanese bento lunch again and a presentation from a senior economist. In the meantime I went to the library with my colleague and got out some movies – two DVDs of Star Trek Episodes (“The Menagerie” and “Day of the Dove”) and two Truffault films (“Jules et Jim,” and “Au Bout De Souffle”). After the presentation, a press conference by the economist, then a press conference with a senior China expert, then a one-on-one interview with the same guy. Had a lot to chat about – he’s fluent in Chinese and getting by in Japanese, so somehow has the same experience as I do. Very sharp guy. When it was all over, just went home direct. Suffered a bit on the bus – air con is so heavy! I had frozen like a popsicle during the eight hours on the train from KL to Singapore, then the Oriental Hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday was Arctic, and the buses and taxis were all deep-freezes. Got home, lay down and was lazy, felt sick and coughing, went to sleep at 9:30 or so, slept until nearl 7:00. Nice. But if I’m sick like this, I don’t know how I’m going to do any training for my half-marathon that’s only two weeks away! Thursday was a regular day, tried to get a lot done. Got home not too late, watched Star Trek episodes. Friday had a 7:30 meeting at the Intercontinental, what a nice little art deco hotel. Pretty good breakfast buffet. With all of this good food, regular Singapore hawker centre food sure is starting to taste like mud! I’m starting to doubt Singapore’s repuation as a good place to get yummy food cheap – I’ve eaten a lot of crappy food recently. Got to the office early, got a lot of work done, had a meeting or two, ate a yucky lunch, went home at 7:30, bought Sonic Youth’s Goo Deluxe edition double CD on the way home. Been listening to a lot of Sonic Youth on the MD walkman recently, as well as plenty of good Hong Kong and Taiwanese rock and pop from the ’90s like Wu Bai, Liu Zhen, Ke Siyin, Lin Chang, and others. Watched some Star Trek episodes at night. Saturday and we have to think of something to do. What can we do? I know – we can go to the Singapore Science Centre again.

In the 66 bus on the way to the Science Centre. Zen pushed the button on this one all by himself.

Zen and papa in the bus

We’ve only been there ten times in the last three months, since we now have a membership and get free admission, but isn’t today the first day of the Star Wars Exhibition? Yeah! Zen and I got in the 66 bus, went off to the Science Centre, and found it abuzz. The last visit was a bit crappy, because there didn’t seem to be a lot happening, but now they’re playing the new Harry Potter movie, they’ve opened up the new water sports park up front, they’ve got some science show on, plus the Star Wars exhibit. Zen was very keen to play in the water park, but I had already bought the tickets to the Star Wars, so I told him we’d see the robots and monsters first, then go to the water. He didn’t enjoy the exhibition too much, although he did watch some of the George Lucas “making of” documentaries, where latex mask specialists (i.e. geeks) gush nostalgic about how cool it was to design Darth Vader’s mask for Episode III. Nice models of the ships, cool full-size depictions of TIE-fighter pilots, storm troopers, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Boba Fett, blasters, light sabers, and others. Kind of like the things you’d find in a hobby shop. But, whatever. Zen liked the monster models a bit, but was mostly whining about going to the water park. Left the paid area and got out into the lobby again, now all of a suden there were a lot of short people in masks walking around, certainly Singaporean geeks. Imperial guards in red and black, TIE fighter pilots, and two kinds of stormtroopers. There was also an Asian Han Solo, an Asian Luke Skywalker, and an Asian Jedi and an Asian Padme in full make-up. Lots of Star Wars t-shirts. Zen shook hands with a TIE fighter pilot and a storm trooper, but was too shy to go too near them by himself. It was a lot of fun, and a carnival atmosphere.

with Stormtrooper Wookie! Darth Vader

Zen and Darth Zen and Star Destroyer Peter Zen Stormtrooper

For the first day opening, it wasn’t too full, but I suppose it will get darn crazy soon enough. After a while, I heard deep breathing, and saw that Darth Vader himself had come out too. They were selling cool light sabers that were fairly realistic-looking. Zen wanted one desperately, so I got him out of there and to the water park and he soon forgot about it. We stayed there for a while and Zen ran around playing in all sorts of water things in the noonday sun, his favourite being a big fountain that you throw light plastic balls in, and it swooshes them around and they go down whirpools and along rails and back down to ground level. Fairly clever, but the balls are too light and get jammed, but still tons of fun for Zen. Got out of there and went to Bukit Batok for cafeteria food. I wanted to have a salted duck egg, but when the lady cut it open she found that it had gone bad. Yuck! The food was pretty disgusting and I couldn’t even finish it. Discovered that I had forgotten my treasured Hanshin Tigers hat at the Science Centre, so back we went to fetch it. Zen got to enjoy the carnival a bit more, and there were now tons of people there. Seems that the Science Centre really is one of the happening family spots on this side of the island, wow. Took a cab back, and Zen went to sleep by himself, but he’s already awake two hours later. Mitchan and Manae are coming today, and it looks like they were already here, left the car and a little backpack of stuff at the doorway. Now we’re going to wait for them to come back so that we can all eat hamburgers together or something…

DVD Review – Kind Hearts and Coronets: The tale of a peniless nobleman who is eighth heir to the title of duke. He has a plan to quickly become duke in order to impress the snob he’s loved since childhood, but his undoing comes about when, in the process of murdering the eight who stand in his way, he falls for another woman. A very clever tale, that is not nearly as black or as fast-paced as it could have been (but, mind you, this was 1949). Alec Guiness is a standout playing all eight of the murdered nobles. “I regretted our acquaintance would be so short.”
- “He wants to improve his mind.”
- “He has room to do so.”
- “He’s the most boring man in London.”
- “In England.”
- “In Europe!”

Kind Hearts and Coronets

DVD review – the Duellists: Ridley Scott’s gorgeous first feature film, based on a Joseph Conrad short story (!?!) about two men with an unfathomable, unexplainable, undying hatred for each other (well, it’s one-way at least) and over thirty years of the Napoleonic era they on occasion come together and duel. Great suffering ensues, and plenty of fight-to-the death. A great study on a them that has fascinated Borges, natural enemies, and a topic I also wrote a little short story about. Fantastic scene in 1812 in Russia as they are about to go at it with pistols, despite being close to death and in enemy territory on retreat from Moscow as winter advances over the wind-blasted Russian steppes. Bad dialogue: “I’ve literally picked through his brains.” “Send a tomcat to get a tomcat,” echoing “the Dancer Upstairs.” As usual, the film is more style than substance, but what style!! Great scene of Keith Carradine, his chest bandaged after being slashed viciously, trying to prevent a sneeze. Keitel and Carradine, by the way, look really cool with waxed moustaches and braided hair. The DVD comes with a nice 25 minute short film, apparently Ridley Scott’s first student film, called “Boy and Bicycle” which is just that – shots of the boy, Ridley’s brother Tony Scott (the director of Top Gun, Vampire’s Kiss, and True Confessions) riding along the roads and down to the beach. Yawwwwwnnnnn…

the Duellists Boy and Bicycle

DVD review – Star Trek: A series of episodes, many of them about illusions tricking the crew of the Enterprise, among them “The Menagerie,” “Day of the Dove,” “the Man Trap,” “the Naked Time.” The first and last of these are about “alien beings -the last of their race.” The first is about big brains who use illusions to build up a menagerie. It very cleverly incorporates footage from the original pilot of the series (which was in black and white, involves a certain Captain Christopher Pike, and only has Spock as a character carrying over from that pilot into the actual series) and builds on the story, which ended on a bleak note, but this somehow becomes a very poetic, apt, wry, win-win feelgood well-rounded happy ending, normally rare for a Star Trek story. “The Man Trap” is the story of the illusion-building deceptive shape-shifter who craves salt. Very clever, and once again we see “the two Kirks.” “I’m the real Kirk.” “No, I am.” “The Naked Time” is a crappy story about a smart virus that enters the ship and drives people insane as they suffer under delusions (similar to illusions, I guess) of grandeur, spendour, or whatever. Bad dialogue like “”I don’t like mysteries, they give me a bellyache, and I’ve got one right no!” “Unknown to us, a mystserious disease hhas entered the ship.” If it was unknown to them, how did HE know? Funny image of McCoy using a butter knife to defend himself. “The Day of the Dove” is one of those classic Star Trek episodes, also about illusions, where the crew of the Enterprise and the crew of a Klingon vessel fall under the spell of an ethereal alien being (i.e. a ghost) that floats shimmering, protoplasmic, around, feeding off of hostility, aggression, and hatred. Nice fake swordfights. Kirk seems pretty buff under his polyester uniform, but somehow it also looks like cotton padding. Chekhov has great lines, like “the Klingons butchered my brother Igor.” Of course, the earthlings, vulcans, and klingons all have to have a hearty laugh to make it fly off in disgust. Weird. But wonderful. “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” the longest and most pretentious title of any original Star Trek episode. It’s a cheezy story about space Mormons in Buck Rogers suits, but it’s kind of like how they’re living in a Truman Show-kind of place. Ha ha ha… Not the greatest Star Trek episode.

Captain Christopher Pike pictured here – preceded James Kirk as captain of the Enterprise and also was Spock’s commanding officer for 13 years…

the Menagerie Talosians Star Trek Day of the Dove

Video Review – Ren and Stimpy, Ren’s Brain: Five stories, all of them disgusting nearly beyond belief. “Ren’s Pecs” carries over from “the Cat That Ate The Golden Hairball,” where Ren is selling Stimpy’s hairballs to raise enough money to afford his pectoral implants. In this one, after he’s insulted on the beach (see Charles Atlas’ infamous “the insult that made a man out of Mac“), he goes for those pecs after all… with a little help from Stimpy, who this time ends up being the spurned one. “Ren’s Retirement” is one of those nasty things where Ren is victimized into thinking he’s old – “it’s all in the head, man!” “Ren’s Brain” sees Ren being separated from his brain by Stimpy, part-time experimental brain surgeon, with Stimpy falling in in love with Ren’s physical side (a vegetable) rather than his emotional/intellectual side (a walking brain). The ending is truly… frightening. “Insomniac Ren” is about Ren being kept up late at night, standard stuff. “The Last Temptation of Ren” is a spooky episode, involving extra-lumpy oatmeal, a dead Ren going up to heaven and meeting… God’s gardener? Ren, of course, becomes a aesthetic, and gives his millions to Stimpy, who takes them, then proceeds to ignore him (again, standard stuff). Yes, Ren and Stimpy, more than even the most generic of cartoons, does follow certain distinct patterns.

Ren's Brain

Video Review – Ren and Stimpy, the Stinkiest Stories: Three episodes that I’ve seen many, many times. “Ren’s Toothache” is about just that, and it introduces the Tooth Beaver, and the Nerve Ending Fairy. And, of course, Ren’s stinking gum-holes. Best scenes are Stimpy’s excessive oral hygiene, and the accompanying sound-effects – classic TV. “Nurse Stimpy” again has Stimpy’s excessive hygiene, and a sick sick sick Ren. Very disgusting indeed. The famous “The Cat That Laid The Golden Hairball” rounds out the stories, with tales of Stimpy’s hairballs, which have more value than gold, and Ren’s plan to start a factory to make himself rich enough to afford those pectoral implants that he’s always wanted. Naturally, Stimpy needs to munch up all the hair he can find… and not just cat hair! Unfortunately, his hairball gland begins to malfunction and… what then? The tape also contains two great “Powdered Toast Man” (“It tastes just like SAWDUST!!!!” one little girl exclaims with glee) episodes. “Powdered Toast may have Vitamin F, but it sure doesn’t make kids any smarter!”

The Stinkiest Stories

Video Review – Ren and Stimpy, More Stinky Stories: “Mad Dog Hoek” tells the tale of Ren “Mad Dog” Hoek and Stimson “Killer Kadoogan” Cat. Naturally they are tortured and twisted into strange shapes before… the end. “A Yard Too Far” is a sad tale of our starving heroes hungering for some “hog jowls” (the full sack of skin from a slaughtered pig), but are kept away from by a bilious baboon pet protecting the yard of the house. I.e., instead of an apple pie in the window, waiting for – I don’t know, the Little Rascals? the Three Stooges? – to steal, it’s hog jowls and Ren and Stimpy. Okay, naturally plenty of skin-separated-from-flesh jokes here. “Big Baby Scam” shows Ren and Stimpy kicking out two nasty babies as they take their place for pampering. Naturlly, it’s not about babies but about TOTAL DEMENTIA!!!

Ren and Stimpy More Stinky Stories Baby Scam

Zen’s birthday

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Sunday was a relatively mellow day – we thought about spending the day lazing around the house, seeing how rainy it was in the morning, but after a while we got bored and I took Zen to the LRT line, it was fun going around that line again. Zen was pretty well-behaved. Naoko stayed with us until West Mall, then left to buy cake and groceries. Got home, had lunch, set Zen napping, then watched some movies, etc. Zen woke up, we took him off to see the Malaysia train, but it was 30 minutes late, so I told Zen it would be late and he said “hmmm, okay, let’s go home.” Spent the evening hanging out watching Ren and Stimpy videos. Monday, Zen’s birthday, woke up early, Zen got up around 7:00 and pulled the paper away from the calendar, “yay yay yay, it’s my birthday.” Happy kid. Naoko took him to school and I went to work, very very very busy, but I got out at 6:00, took a cab home with Sean, who works near me and was coming to the party, and got home around 6:45, changed, helped set up, welcomed Sean and Mihoko and Kai and Hana, ate sushi and drank beer and wine. There were fried spring rolls, and because Zen wanted to eat sausages (his German heritage showing?), we had plenty of those as well. It was pretty quiet to start with, with lots of chewing sounds to be heard, but the volume built up and up and up and around 9:00 it was PRETTY LOUD!!! Christy and Dominic and Xavier came at 8:00, then when the kids were playing outside they spotted the new Japanese family that has moved in next to Dominic’s. Zen told them “it’s my birthday,” so Naoko went over and it was the perfect opportunity for them to meet their new neighbours, as well as a Japanese/British family from the next building. They’re quite nice people too. The kids played until about 10:00, then they went home and Naoko and I did dishes and tidied and Zen played by himself and cooled down. He got his shower at 11:00, and was sleeping by 11:30 – late, but birthdays only come once a year. Zen got some cool presents, among them a train station and railway crossing from Oma and Opa, a train track intersection from Uncle Ralph and Auntie Nicole, five small high-quality metal die-cast airplanes and a die-cast helicopter and a bunch of play-doh from us, a toy electric guitar from Sean and Mihoko, and two Thomas the Tank Engine VCDs from Dominic and Christy. “Yay yay yay!!!” The party was very busy and lively, with Naoko staying with the parents, and me helping out the kids. Whew!! I worked out the train staiton and the railway crossing for Zen, tidied, fussed, did my thing. Ralph called at 8:30, and mum and dad called at 9:00, we ate a big strawberry cake at 9:30. The best part of the party may have been at the end, when Zen settled himself down to sleep, and went to sleep by himself. He’s always wanted one of us (usually me) to sleep next to him, so we’d read him a book or two, then turn out the light, then wait for him to drop off, but a few weeks before his birthday, we started telling him “when you’re four years old, you’ll go to sleep by yourself, right?” and he’d say “okay.” So later he started saying it himself – “when I’m four years old, I go to sleep by my own self. By my own self.” And then sure enough, he really would!! So, after Zen went to sleep, I stayed up later watching a 50-minute Star Trek episode before going to sleep myself. Tuesday I woke up before 6:00, so I thought “well, might as well get right up and go jogging.” And so I did! Got back, showered, breakfast, school, bus, train, work work work. Yesterday was Zen’s birthday, but it was also my colleague’s birthday. Since she’s from the Philippines, where people treat their friends when it’s their birthday (nice system), she took us out to a lunch, very nice. Worked all afternoon straightening out many little things, then on home at 8:00. Bad luck – I waited a long time in the MRT station, then when I got to the bus stop my bus was JUST pulling out. Crap. I took a cab home instead. Ate dinner, hung out with Zen helping him install his new train “intersection” piece, then onto blogging.

Funny Zen-speak:

Zen: “I’m all wetty.”
Us: “Huh?!?!”
Zen: “I’m all sweaty.”

Zen the jukebox hero: this guitar makes weird electric beats, and when you strum it, it makes strange feedback sounds. It’s kind of strange, but also very cool. Zen has already been seen a few times walking around the apartment singing “the Ants Go Marching Down.” Here are also some nice pics of the day.

Jukebox hero Zen 'n' Papa wee three Zen 'n' friends

The Ants Go Marching In

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to suck his thumb
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two,
The little one stops to tie his shoe
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching three by three,
The little one stops to climb a tree
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching four by four,
The little one stops to shut the door
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching five by five, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching five by five, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching five by five,
The little one stops to take a dive
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching six by six, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching six by six, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching six by six,
The little one stops to pick up sticks
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching seven by seven, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching seven by seven, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching seven by seven,
The little one stops to pray to heaven
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching eight by eight, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching eight by eight, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching eight by eight,
The little one stops to shut the gate
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching nine by nine, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching nine by nine, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching nine by nine,
The little one stops to check the time
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching ten by ten, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching ten by ten, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching ten by ten,
The little one stops to say “THE END”
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!


Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Got sad news today – there was a van accident in the New Jersey on Friday, November 4th. Inside the van were musicians from the Japanese band DMBQ. Drummer Mana “China” Nishiura was thrown from the van and died shortly after that. It’s a really sad moment, because she was an amazing drummer who was a vivid part of the Japanese music scene, having performed with dozens of bands, among the legendary units such as Music Start Against Young Assault, Jesus Fever, Shonen Knife, TEEM, and Rashinban. A quiet, yet passionate individual, she’ll be sorely missed by people who met her over the years, as well as her many fans. RIP China, you deserved better.


Beans taste fine

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Here’s a picture of some funny Poo-Poo snacks from Malaysia. Naoko thought that they taste too fishy and catfood-like, but I didn’t find them fishy at all and actually rather yummy. Zen didn’t eat too many, though…

Popo snacks. Zen loves his Popo!

Popo snacks Zen loves his Popo

Black wine

Saturday, November 5th, 2005

Hey, another crazy few days. Wednesday Raining in the morning, no jogging. I went to work, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Most of the day was occupied by a four-hour meeting, then had to rush off to meet a friendly PR girl for coffee, and met a cool IT guy for wine and snacks after work. Went home, watched… something on DVD. Thursday, raining in the morning, no jogging again!! Went down to the botanical garden, it looked like rain but we went in anyway. Hung out at the orchid garden square, kicked the ball around, went to the visitor centre to have lunch and chill out, went back home and hung out, relaxed, chilled out, watched “Nobody Knows,” the Japanese film, and some “Charlie’s Angels” episodes. Watched “Brief Encounter” in the evening, went to sleep. Friday it was raining in the morning, again, very heavily, but happily our neighbours gave us a lift to Zen’s school, yay yay yay, so that wasn’t a night mare. Had a day at work, another 2.5 hour meeting to cap it off, nothing great accomplished, but it’s the end of a lazy week with two national holidays. Hooray. Off to the Esplanade, rented Les Diaboliques, some Star Trek episodes, Kind Hearts and Coronets, and the Duellists, Ridley Scott’s first film. Watched half of Les Diaboliques, went to sleep at 11:30, woke up at 12:30 when Naoko came to bed, started coughing and sneezing, felt like I was coming down with a cold, then slept at 1:30. Gave up the idea of going running in the morning, not wanting to make my cold worse, but woke up at 6:00 on Saturdaymorning on my own and went for a short anyway since I was feeling better. Weird. Did some tidying up and some laundry, then off to the Science Centre to hang out and see the new fighter pilots IMAZ movie. It was cool for the first five minutes, because it showed jet fighters taking off, which was pretty amazing, and gave you that weird roller-coaster feeling that IMAX films give (which made Naoko nauseous, since she hates carnival rides), but got to be pretty Top Gun obnoxious after a while. Just big boys who still want to play with toys in their adulthood – deadly, multi-million dollar toys. Went out with five minutes left to go since Naoko and Zen had had enough, and so did I in fact. Looking forward to the new exhibition opening next week – the Art of Star Wars!!! Went into the garden, then up the tree-house, saw the healing herbs and spice-plants and all that, then slowly back to the 66 bus and off to the hawker centre at Bukit Batok, then to McDonald’s for ice cream, then to 77 bus to go home, I stayed on it and went downtown to buy p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s for Zen’s birthday Monday, got some good ones. Also checked out the new Apple Shop, That CD Shop (crap), and the gorgeous outdoor nature photos, mostly ariel shots of natural wonders from around the world blown up poster-size. Great outdoor stuff. The mall where Toys ‘R’ Us is is very kids oriented, nice. Took the bus home, Naoko and Zen are still sleeping, must be exhausted, but I’ll wake them up and take Zen to see the Malaysia train soon, his dream.

Zen and Naoko. Ooops!! Where’s Zen’s hand!!

Zen and Naoko Flower Zen PNZ

Things that Zen does: I keep wanting to record some of the things that Zen does and says that are cute, but I am bad at that – I keep this somewhat meticulous log, but Zen’s development is not a large part of it (outside of the pics) and I feel guilty. We’ve noticed that Zen is getting better at kicking the ball, he is speaking full sentences now and can express himself very well, and he also eats a lot at meals. He’s also learning how to say please and thank you every time, and he is conscientious about doing things the right way after he has learnt from us – after he cries because he can’t do something, next time he speaks up and says “I can’t do this this this because that that that.” Sounds like he’s brainwashed, but it’s not really so. He’s very well-behaved. He has just discovered Ren and Stimpy, thanks to my co-worker. He knows that every time we take the bike we should wear helmets, and if we’ve forgotten he reminds me. Today he wanted to tear three papers off of the day-by-day calendar, but I explained that we tear one every day, and 30 minutes later he understood it and was repeating it. Hmmm… He’s saying “yeah” a lot now, which is interesting and new. Yesterday he said “the balloon is upping” instead of “the baloon is going up.” We bought white wine from the store, and he said “we bought white wine, not black wine.” BLACK WINE!?!?!?

When Singaporeans Turn Inconsiderate!!!: Singaporeans are supposed to be kind-hearted, considerate people. Singapore is supposed to be the spot in Asia with the best infrastructure. I would agree with the statement that Singapore has good infrastructure, and the statement that Singaporeans are kind, considerate people. But these things are forgotten when it comes to one thing – walking spaces. I don’t know if it’s because Singaporeans have become lazy and won’t walk in the hot sun, if they are too addicted to their air conditioned places, but walking spaces are not part of the big scheme of things – bridges and subways will be state-of-the art, but good luck trying to walk in a straight line. A few pictures will illustrate the situation, be it shops spreading out into the sidewalk or sidewalks clogged with potted plants (WHY?!?!?):

Before and after:


A car parked across the sidewalk, with the carport empty, the elderly car-driver reading a newspaper in the background. This is a relatively busy sidewalk near a busstop.

car and sidewalk

“No!! This sidewalk is mine!! Nobody walks on this sidewalk!! My potted plants are more important!!”

potted plants

Please step onto the road, if you would like to pass by. My potted plants need their place in the sun.

otted lants

A gentle reminder that this walkway is not meant to be walked upon – my potted plants say so!!

restaurant potted plants

DVD review – Felicia’s Journey: opening shot of eggs, the symbol of the soul – or so Robert DeNiro tells us in “Angel Heart.” Interesting Atom Egoyan film about a serial killer who has strange methods and reasonings for his madness. Interesting bit of detective-work from wee vieweers, which is fun. Felicia is stunning, Bob Hoskins is cold and bizarre. Not sure why he’s killing young girls, after befriending them first, but it’s clear after a while that it’s all a contrived act by him to be a fearsome person – he doesn’t really buy the act himself, even though he’s so good at it.

Felicia's Journey

DVD review – Nobody Knows: Urban camping – the mother leaves her four kids unattended for months on end, and the oldest son has to assume all of the responsibilities even though all he really wants to do is to go to school and be a regular kid. The three other kids are worse off – they are not allowed to leave the apartment, although still they are innocent and goofy in their way. Befriending a girl who is cruelly bullied, they somehow make ends meet, until the climax of the end. That’s not the point of the film, even though the film must have a point of sorts, but this case it’s all about who they are and how they get by in their unusual circumstances, kind of like “My Left Foot” in some ways. Yagira Yuya, who played the eldest boy Akira, won the best actor award at Cannes in 2004 for the role, when he was 14 years old. The story is loosely based on a true story, which occurred in 1988, when four siblings were left to fend for themselves for six months, which “shocked the nation.” Filmed chronologically over the course of a year (the apartment is rented for a year, cameras are set up, scenes are filmed in the four seasons with Chrirstmas cake at the local convenience store on December 24th, the cherry blossoms in spring, the sounds of the cicadas in deep summer, the kids hair grows out, they get taller, etc.

Nobody Knows

DVD review – Brief Encounter: A most somber love story, with two married people meeting on the train platform (more proof that every successful movie needs a train in it), a freaky hat lady to make the genteel people a bit more shaken up, a David Lean masterpiece, and moments of sober control rapidly intermixed with passionate Dostoyevskeian chest-clutching. A few brief kisses, a chance for a consummating encounter in an apartment, otherwise lots of cups of tea at the platform mixed with a few films like “Flames of Passion.” Nice film, very nice indeed.

Brief Encounter

DVD review – Les Diaboliques: Another film with a train in it, also a Sharon Stone-like temptress and a sweet Isabelle Adjani-like femme wife, teaming up to rid the world of a wretch of an individual. Sure the flames of passion run deep, but what are we going to do about that murky pool, the black and white photography, the crazy ’50s France just coming off memories of a bitter Resistance? What indeed…?

Les Diaboliques

All Saints… Day

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

Wow – November!! So, what have we been up to? Friday I worked hard all day getting stories done, then rushed off to hear bank results – rather strange meeting somhow. After that, went to the Esplanade for the first time in ages and took out a bunch of movies, such as Charlie’s Angels Season One, Felicia’s Journey (Atom Egoyan), the Children of Paradise, and Brief Encounter. Went home watched one episode of Charlie’s Angels, then I think we went to sleep early… Saturday went for a long jog, 45 minutes or so, then off to take Zen to school by bicycle for his concert. Back home to relax for two hours, a rare moment when Naoko and I were on our own without Zen around at that time of the weekend, and a bit of privacy. Off to the school at 10:30 for the concert and graduation ceremony. Hooray! Some disco dancing from othe six kindergarten-2 kids, then out came Zen and his class in little duck costumes to sing the little duck song in Chinese. Zen was in the back row, and he may not have had all the moves down right, but he was beaming from ear to ear and just looking like he was having the time of his life – he was very enthusiastic. Later they came out again and sang “Wiggley Woo” in overalls, then later again for “the Ants Come Marching In,” wearing overalls but also pipecleaner antennae attached to their caps. Zen ran out with all the kids, ran back, then they came out one by one. He was the 10th ant, so he was last out, but it was still cute. Afterwards, there was a nice lunch of fried food, then we all went home and napped. In the evening we went out to dinner, a nice place on Sixth Avenue called Ubin Seafood that is very popular – lots of people queued up for that one. A Japanese and a Muslim place next door were totally empty. Nice places around there, including Brazil which has an all-you-can-eat barbecue menu for $38 or something. Went home, to sleep, and I watched the first half of “The Children of Paradise.” Sunday Naoko went off to meet her friend, so I took Zen to the park and we played for a while, then back home so that I could start tidying the house. After a while Hana and Kai came over and a wild rumpus began. I swept and washed the floor, cleaned the electric fans, polished the mirrors, ironed some shirts, dusted behind my computer and put away stuff I don’t use any more (printer, external HD), cleaned the toilets, and a bunch of other things. Zen took a nap, I worked on finishing up three articles, and Naoko came home. Quite tired by evening, but that’s OK. Watched the second half of “The Children of Paradise,” then went to sleep. Monday was a regular busy day – had our meeting, wrote our perspectives, then more meetings. Naoko took the day off to look after Zen, since he wasn’t going to school because of a holiday, they went to the new central library, then we were supposed to meet for lunch, but I had meetings and couldn’t make it. No matter, the company ordered pizza to celebrate the two national holidays this week (Deepavali/Diwali, the Indian festival of light, and Hari Raya, the end of Ramadan, celebrated by Muslims) as well as Hallowe’en. Actually, we were supposed to dress up for Hallowe’en, but we didn’t really, just threw on some stuff. Benny wore a feather boa and a wig and he was a beggar, Elena wore a funky shirt and a sparkly top hat and she was “Wonder Girl” or something, Saleemah wore wings and was a fairy, Faye had a fake knife through her head, and Vasagi wore a witch’s hat. I wore all green clothes and a green fright wig and I was supposed to be either the Joker, Alan Greenspan, or the green figure from the “walk signal.” Started real work late, after delays, got some things done, then went home. Quite exhausted, so I went to sleep early, napping from 9:30, then sleeping proper from 10:30. Tired. Tuesday, national holiday, the first in months. I woke up at 5:50, went running for an hour, Zen was awake when I came home and after a while we all went to eat breakfast outside. Nice!

Zen sing the duck song in Chinese, he’s obviously enjoying himself immensely!

Zen duck

Zens sings and dances the “Wiggly Woo”

Zen hula

Zen sings and dances “the Ants Come Marching In”

Zen ant

Zen and two friends Zen and Naoko at the school

At the Ubin Seafood restaurant

Zen drinking coconut Zen eating satay

three kids riding the same broom – Harry, Hermione and Ron they’re not…

riding a broom

DVD review – The Children of Paradise: Masterpiece of French cinema that tells the tale of a woman loved by four men, some similarities to Berman’s “Smiles of a Summer Night” in its characterizations, but this one is set in Paris and in the theatre, as the rivalry between the low and high theatre is highlighted. One a sensitive pantomime, one a cold intellectual self-absorbed killer, another an aristocrat, and finally the pompous actor. Pantomime masterful, lion-like, Pygma-lion. “Loving is so easay, you resist on purpose.” The mime can’t express himself truly, the actor’s passionate, the director’s insane. “Novelty is as old as the hills.” “The spring broke in the music box – it still plays the same tune, but in a differrent key.” They came to kill him before a duel – “a matter of life or death – yours.” Turns tragedy into a farce. Baptiste’s performance. “He’s like a sleepwalker on the roof – if you call him, he falls.” Everyone’s dressed like him at the Carneval.

Children of Paradise les Enfants du Paradis

DVD review – Charliei’s Angels, season 1: How many times have I watched the Charlie’s Angels movie when I’ve never even seen the original episodes when they played on TV! I was restricted from watching much TV as a kid, and Charlie’s Angels was on too late for me to watch even if we were allowed to watch adult programming, so I never watched it for that reason, and years later it wasn’t really syndicated or replayed much. Anyway, I’m in the weird position of seeing the episodes and comparing them to the remake. Of course the ladies are lovelier than Liu, Barrymore and Diaz, but they sure don’t kick ass! The pilot has David Ogden Stiers, also known as Charles Winchester III from the later M*A*S*H* episodes, in all his three piece suit, balding, barcode-hair glory. A guy who looks like that just wouldn’t make it on TV these days, except to play a serial killer maybe, but the ’70s were different! The pilot was interesting because it had Tommy Lee Jones, cool, suave, and with a full head of thick hair! Jail episode cool – supermodel prison guard, great bell-bottoms, shampoo ad. Potatoes falling from truck – “mashed potatoes.”
Best line:
(to Jill, who’s under cover as a preacher’s daughter) “What denomination are you?” “36-24-35.”
Other good lines:
(When they’re in Charlie’s mansion) “I hope Charlie has clean sheets.”
(Charlie, on the phone to the Angels responding to a question about “what’s that noise in the background, Charlie?”: “That’s my plumber – she’s been cleaning myy pipes for the last few days.” Of course, the plumber is a sexy woman.
(Kelly, to Tom Selleck, who’s supposed to be an MD, after some soul-searching) “I thought you were a surgeion, not a shrink!”
(Kelly later, again to Tom Selleck): “It’s not you, it’s me.”
(Kate, to her ex-husband, after a brief argument): “It sounds like we’re still married.”
(Turnkey, in the pen): “Get cute in here, and you can get hurt – understtand?”
(When they’re walking around a junkyard, their wrists shackled): “Hey, look – boltcutters!”

Charlie's Angels first season Charlie's Angels

Tommy Lee Jones in the Charlie’s Angels pilot episode. Check out all that hair!

Tommy Lee Jones

Hollywood’s Hunkiest Hunk of the Seventies, with nary a Ferarri or strand of chest hair in view. He sure seems to dig Kelley… but wouldn’t you?

Tom Selleck 1 Tom Selleck 2 Tom Selleck 3

Dirk Benedicts, a.k.a. Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, playing a corrupt cop who corrupts young women by inviting to eat a steak TH-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-S thick.

Dirk Benedict

Kim Basinger, looking about 18, in the days before she dated Prince, married a Baldwin, or on an Oscar.

Kim Basinger 1 Kim Basinger 2

Timothy Carey, veteran of the films of Stanley Kubrick and Sam Peckinpah, acting circles around anyone who’s ever appeared in Charlie’s Angels, in an intense bit part as a rough hoodlum.

Timothy Carey

Video review: Ren and Stimpy – the Stupidest Stories: Episodes – Stimpy’s Big Day, The Big Shot, and Robin Hoek. With some “Ask Dr. Stupid” vignettes. Wuite nice, with Stimpy getting excited about winning a Muddy Mudskipper contest, and Ren discouraging him. Of course he wins, gets rich, Ren has regrets, is left alon while Stimpy lives the good life. Yah yah yah… Not the best collection, although Robin Hoek is good – Stimpy can’t remember how the tale goes, and it gets pretty weird.

Ren and Stimpy Stupidest Stories

Video review: Ren and Stimpy – Have Yourself A Stinky Little Christmas: Kind of crappy story about Stimpy going off into the cold to find his missing fart. Happy ending is intended to be funny and bizarre, but is actually just the latter.

Stinky Christmas