Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Q-tip and the sea

A great day for the beach.

June wanted to drop in on a couple of friends working at a promo booth on Siloso Beach and we thought Q-tip would like an outing.

Dogs are not welcome on Siloso Beach though, so we took a very long trek to Tanjung Beach quite some distance away, part walking her and most of the time carrying her 'cos we remembered what happened the last time we let her overheat.

Q-tip had a good swim, that is, as soon as she hit water she'd frantically paddle back to terra firma. Then we'd pick her up, put her back into the water and repeat the process for a few cycles. Silly dog can swim, but she's afraid of the water. Funny, that.

More pix? Click here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bad things happen to good people

Sam Raimi goes back to his horror roots with "Drag Me To Hell". These days, the Raimi name may be better associated with the "Spider-Man" movie franchise, but with DMTH he reminds us that his original claim to fame was through the "Evil Dead" trilogy. Yes, even if "Army of Darkness" was more slapstick comedy than horror, it just shows his versatility in directing many different movie genres.

Anyway, DMTH brings us back to straightforward campy, shocky horror. Young, ambitious loan officer competing for a promotion turns down a loan extension for an old crone (there's always an old crone!) who curses her with a rather disproportional punishment: to be tormented by an evil spirit for three days, then be taken to hell to burn forever on the fourth day.

Cue two kinds of horror devices Raimi loves to play with. The first is rising tension followed by shock, the second is the horror of contact with vile fluid substances (blood, bile, slime and others of that nature) on the skin, face and otherwise inavertently ingested in large mouthfuls. We get both in generous portions throughout the movie.

But looking past the fun of shock after shock, revolting situation after revolting situation, there is an understated psychological parable at work here as well. Christine Brown is essentially a good person. She has a good nature, a kind heart, she is a woman in love; the sort of person that does not deserve any evil to befall her. But she makes one small mistake against her conscience, and no matter how good she has been up till then, no matter how she tries to make amends thereafter, it is still that one mistake that ends up defining her perception of the world. It is her own guilt that turns her otherwise idyllic life into hell.

Y'know, according to Christian doctrine, the scary thing is that all of us bear this exact same curse. Regardless of how good we are, or think we are, or try to be, because of our inherent imperfections, we are still destined towards, you know, the place downstairs. I believe DMTH makes up only one half of a good old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone sermon. The other half -- the redemption part -- has been left out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Paid to stay in bed

Must be letting the notions of space travel get to me. Now I'm inspired to take up this job NASA's offering as a test subject for the effects of low gravity on the human being. It pays US$160/day and it involves lying in bed all day! Welcome to the life of a NASA "pillownaut".

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Never did like camping much

Did some nephew-sitting while Ling and June took a girls' night out. The Wii played a big part in helping me out. How did we use to get by without such an invaluably useful device? Anyway, in preparation for that big event, I went shopping for a game or two that would keep two rambunctious young 'uns occupied. "Space Camp", anyone?

Good thing I previewed SC before I tried it out on them. First off, SC isn't exactly catered to my age preference (right, anyone who suggests "Parcheesi" gets their head bashed in with my walking stick!), but even putting myself in the mind of an 8 year-old the game would have bored me to tears. Actually, it's more like work than a game. Even the in-game mentor, Jim, admits at the start that it's going to take "back-breaking work" to complete the story.

Ah, the story: the player's somewhat customizeable character attends Space Camp and for the lack of other buttons to press accidentally launches him/herself to the moon. Survivability is no issue. The player has unlimited resources to complete a series of tasks in order to get home.

The main complication is that the two main resources, Energy and Metal, are locked into moon rocks which we have to mine for in pre-designated locations on the map. And they just keep replenishing -- well, yeah, it's a big moon for one little kid. With a flick of the wiimote or via a mini-Grabber game we accumulate a pile of moon rocks for processing. We can also kick piles of moon dust to find these resources too.

Step two is to process these rocks through another mini-game to extract either Energy or Metal from them. Energy converts into rocket fuel for which we need to get home; Metal we need to fabricate into tools that help us open doors to new places for exploration as the game progresses. They also help to open locked containers of unique collectible items that fill up our inventory, which I think is intended as the reward system of the game.

Yes, completist that I am, I most anally hunted down every single collectible comprising unique SC patches, and various designs and colours of clothing and headgear the well-dressed astronaut should be wearing on a moon-jaunt.

Wii games are often a collection of mini-games, but in this case, they tend to be the same three or four mini-games over and over again. the only discernable variation is in the three difficulty levels which aren't all that difficult even for an 8 year old. The only one that drove me insane was the Meteoroid defense game at the highest difficulty level -- my reflexes aren't what they used to be -- so accomplishing that task was quite a triumph (stop sniggering, remember my walking stick?).

The nephews didn't get to play SC after all, 'cos I decided they wouldn't have found it any fun. They're the "Ravin' Rabbids" sort, and that kept them entertained all night. Hey, whoever said an evening with me had to be educational?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's alive!

So, that's why Rhumba didn't make it back to his docking bay before his charge ran out. Greedy thing was helping himself to the cats' kibble!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another day with dad

Got the news of the passing of Sha's dad. It wasn't unexpected -- we knew he was already on his last legs -- but when it actually happened, the swiftness of it was sudden and shocking.

Which is why today, I appreciated the time I spent with my own dad. June and I met him at service and with the rest of our family regulars at 1115 SAC, we went to lunch as a group. This isn't something we do every week. Our service timings are different but because mom is curently gallivanting in the UK we thought he might appreciate the ride home... and our company, of course.

Among the reminicences we always get to hear whenever family gets together was how my dad quit smoking. Daughters are indeed a formidable influence on their father's behaviour.