Saturday, July 23, 2005

Finally got to catch the Fantastic Four last night. So backdated I am with the movie scene.

I worried about how the presentation would turn out. I have been a long-time fan of the foursome and I felt there was no way any movie could capture the grand-scale adventures that the first family of superheroes always found themselves in.

Much credit to the director who knew the limits of his medium and focused his movie on the strongest feature of the four: family and friendship. Sure, the look was cheesy (self-referred to as "Armani meets astronaut," by the Torch himself) and the CGI no great shakes -- obviously cartoony and without any pretentions towards making them 'realistic' -- but it's the simplest, most ordinary of human relationships that hit us the hardest.

The frustration of the Invisible Girl, who can't make the man she loves see her the way she sees him. The frustration of the Torch with his enormous ego caged in by his own unadmitted sense of responsibility to his loved ones. The frustration of Mr Fantastic whose mind is a tyrannical ruler over his heart as far as the woman he loves is concerned, along with the guilt over the fate of his best friend. And the pathos of the perennially unfortunate member of the group, the Thing, whom Mike Chicklis plays with such sadness in his eyes that his sense of rejection and outcastness is almost palpable as he reaches down for his wife's cast off wedding ring and can't pick it up because his fingers have turned into bricks.

Doom, however, plays an odd role in this script. There was really no call to empower him with special 'powers.' In the comic books, he is already disturbing enough as a seriously twisted human being whose brilliance of mind makes him more than a match for the four combined. Luck is seldom on his side, though. Guess there wouldn't have been enough movie time to explore Doom's history properly so it just got conveniently subsumed under the same plotline as his nemeses'. That was disappointing.

One thing I had to question is the crowd's reaction to the chaos on the Brooklyn Bridge. There was so much damage, so many lives put at risk, not by any supervillain attack but just a chain of events caused inadvertently by the Thing. Yet when the danger passed, everyone cheered the four and they became celebrities. If it was the X-men, the story would have been different. Perhaps it's this fundamental plot thread following the four that it's impossible to make a dark Fantastic Four movie to compare with our favourite leather-clad mutants. Fortune favours the four.

The movie isn't just about a bunch of superheroes but about the coming together of a family, dysfunctional as they may be, who fight amongst themselves as often as they fight their enemies. In comicdom, the oft spoken tagline of the Fantastic Four reads, "They were the first, and they were the best." I wouldn't say that of this movie, but an open mind did bring both giggles and tears. It was a fun ride.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Flitting from flower to flower in its endless search for precious nectar, a little butterfly landed on my shoulder. It gently fanned my face with its wings while it rested there, and I appreciated its trust. I made no sudden move so it would not take fright and fly away too soon. But after a time, it did fly off. It had other flowers to visit, other places to beautify.

A moment to be treasured.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Boss Lady dropped in on me in class today to observe me at work. A bit nervous, but I muddled my way though thanks to the cooperation of the kids.

Yay! Finally collected the Potter book from the Post Office during a break between appointments in the afternoon. It won't be to my benefit, though. I'm still too busy to read it and I will still have to wait until June is ready to relinquish it back into my possession now that she has claimed first dibs.

Meantime, only Amy, June and I bowled tonight. Amy confirmed her improved standings with a 5-game average of 111, while I'm still at an unimpressive 145. June needs to practice throwing the ball more.

Oh... and despite numerous reminders, I have neglected my homework for tomorrow's SMU course. NBS will put me on her hit list since all the reminders came from her. Maybe I can squeeze in some time before classes tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Another cycle has passed and a new one begins. Farewell to the Drama Club of '05, and welcome to the Drama Club of '06. Today the new exco got elected, into whose hands the reins of leadership has passed on. Congrats to Fran, Nyt and Des, the new face the Club will wear in the coming year.

The new Club is different from the batches that came before it. The members comprise people who are really interested in theatre, who want to experience the life of performance without the added lure of CCA points scoring -- a system that is now dead and long may it stay that way. The Club membership is small, but everyone is a hardworking, committed unit for whom the performance is more important than ego. This is not to run down the alumni who have delivered fabulously for us in previous years, but rather to voice my hopes that boundaries can be pushed further back in the coming year thanks to a group that has shown its ability right from the start that it can balance improv, fun and serious work for the sake of a good production.

Wish I could be as pleased with bowling training tonight. Personal average down to a level I haven't seen for a while. Still managed to beat Vince overall, but it wasn't the trashing I promised him yesterday. My 3rd game was so dire I lost to Amy who has improved her game considerably. Instead of a random game breaking the 100 mark, she posted a consistent above 100 average tonight over 5 games. If we had given her her usual 50-pin handicap, she would have been the one doing the trashing, leaving our fragile male egos shattered, scattered and trampled into the dust on the ground. Not a good night.

Game must pick up in tomorrow's practice. Tournament is next week, so better buck up!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Irritated. Frustrated. It's an emotional state that cannot adequately be expressed in words. It's something like having your own copy of the latest Potter book but it's locked up at the Post Office 'cos you're not free to collect it; or having a spanking new pair of inlines waiting for you to try them out on the weekend, but it's only Tuesday.

Things tantalizing within reach, but just out of touch.

The last weekend and a couple of other incidents before, I remembered the joy of movement powered by a once healthy body. The sweat, the huffy breath, the adrenaline. Now with muscles atrophying and joints stiffening it's a struggle to do all that stuff with the ease, confidence and form that 10 or so years ago I might have taken for granted.

I can still pretend that my 4th decade isn't rapidly charging towards me like a steer with a poker stuffed up its butt; that my life hadn't really began 10-15 years later than other normal people's, but the body doesn't lie. And sadly it doesn't forget either.

And it doesn't help either when your contemporaries from secondary school (class of '81) have finally tracked you down and started talk about a possible 25th anniversary reunion.

Can I stay in denial, just for another month? Please?

Monday, July 18, 2005

A really wet afternoon, but at least I can say that I have had a clean car for almost 24 hours before it rained. This event is a near world record and is worth noting on this page. The wet weather had me scrambling, umbrella in hand, to join Anthony and Vince at Acacia for lunch. I had to negotiate the numerous ankle-deep puddles in Bishan Park, trying as best as I could to keep my trainers dry. I hate wet shoes.

It's sad that few people eat at Acacia. This afternoon we occupied one table and had the full attention of the lone wait staff to ourselves. Just because the food tends to be too salty doesn't mean there's a need to have a general boycott of the place. You have a mouth, so just ask for less salt. I'm sure the chef will oblige.

Had to rush lunch as I was on duty at YJ, and I arrived just shy of my appointed briefing time. Anyway, I got caught up pretty quickly to what was going on, so that was ok. Listening Comprehension Exam. In Chinese. The exam text gets broadcast over the radio on the station playing Classical music, Symphony 92.4FM.

I guess there's a reason to use a serious radio channel for a serious exam, but the kids are seated at their venue just after lunch, half-an-hour before the paper commences, they're confined to their seats and maintain communication silence throughout. To hit their MTV-tuned minds with such "soothing music [qtd. from invigilators' instruction sheet]" and watch them slowly nod off to lala-land one-by-one seems like an inhumane thing to do. After all, shouldn't kids have the right to take their exam with a fresh, alert mind instead?

Maybe we should hit them with a dose of Good Charlotte or Green Day or Simple Plan instead so they'll stay awake and bopping for that interminably long lag period, and maybe it'll focus their minds on issues of social responsibility too while we're at it. Too bad it's not me making policy around here.

Lost my chance to collect my copy of the new Potter book again. I had it delivered to my Post Office instead of my home and for 2 days running I've been arriving a half-hour after closing time. That's kind'a frustrating. Mei says it's not worth my $40, but I've already paid for it so I'll have to enjoy it now like it or not. But first, let me get my hands on my copy!

Our Neverland Foursome met again tonight to watch War of the Worlds, which we had intended to watch since KL but never got around to doing so. It was a mad rush to catch the 7pm at Toa Payoh, at least for Vince and Amy. Let's not time it like that again, seems to be the consensus after today.

By our current set of expectations from a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster, the plotline from this Victorian age proto-sci-fi tale is ludicrously disappointing, and Spielberg's cutsey alien designs don't help much either in raising tension. But then again, as in similar stories, it's not the aliens we're meant to fear, but rather people in a crisis who simply lose their heads and become nasty, irrational, selfish and desperate, whatever they may have been before the crisis hits.

Other observations from WotW:
The New Yorkers standing around gawking as the first tripod rises from the ground parallels the behaviour of the beachgoers before the Tsunami hit.
The aliens are damn inefficient as exterminators -- those 2 beam weapons each tripod is equipped with will take forever to kill people off one at a time.
After an EMP attack, stalled cars get conveniently pushed to the side of the road clearing the way for other working vehicles.
In case you're wondering why Grandma's house (heck, her neighbourhood!) isn't affected by the goings-on in the world, it's because we need to look at the mythological resonances of 'Gramdma's house' rather then the literal. Grandma's house is the ultimate safe-haven. It promises reunion, conflict resolution, home and acceptance, the end of the journey, and so it is for our protagonist and his own. Else, how will we know when the movies over and we can go home... right?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Dropped in on Mike and Angela for breakfast and discovered that I am now an independently published 'auteur,' ahem, ahem. Mike Googled his kiosk and found my review from a couple of weeks back and he printed it out for his pin-up board. Thanks for the mutual publicity! *waves at Mike and Angela

Later in the afternoon, I acted on a classified ad I found in yesterday's papers -- inline skates (Nike, Rollerblade) 50-70% sale. The establishment was a 'blading school and it was packed so full of customers the staff was simply overwhelmed, swamped and frazzled. Customers helped themselves as best they could and kept replacing the sample models in the wrong display locations so that after a while it was impossible to tell which price was meant for which model. Chaos rulez!

Apparently, the mega discount applied to members of the school while the rest of us had to settle for a lesser discount. Fine. I'm in the market for a pair, anyway. I decided on the Rollerblade Aero 7 ALU

and though June thought it was below $150 (must have been put together with the wrong price tag) it actually cost slightly over $200, probably due to the aluminum frame as opposed to the cheaper plastic type. We also purchased 2 sets of protective gear to replace the old, tatty ones we once had.

And now, it's time to re-prioritize physical fitness back into my life!