Saturday, October 15, 2011

A fistful of flora

Finally, the last member of my generation is getting hitched! My very own kid bro will say, "I do", in the morning. Today, I drove June and May around to Sing See Soon Flowers and GG Fresh Flower, where we collected these white roses and other flora. We're counting on May's expertise to create the blushing bride's hand bouquet (above)...,

the bridesmaid's wrist corsage, as well as the VIPs' lapel corsages. The final products are chillin' in the study overnight where they should be safe from the undue attention of curious cats. One cool, refreshing night's sleep before being delivered bright and early at the wedding tomorrow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trapped with Norwegian dudes

Trapped on a research station during a blizzard in the Antarctic along with a small handful of fellow shut-ins, one or more of whom may not be what they appear to be. The Thing (2011), as did its previous two makes explores human paranoia in a castaway society, where predator and prey switch roles in a heartbeat.

A movie like this relies on constantly rising tension, building up moments of anticipation which it does quite well initially, both in the surprising attacks by the predator and by what human beings will do to each other when they're terrified out of their wits.

However, once the Thing has fully revealed itself, the tension drops off somewhat as it becomes a game of cat-and-mouse, with both parties equally capable of putting the hurt on each other. The cast list also suffers from having one too many Olafs -- Norwegian dudes who aren't so distinct from each other that it's hard to keep track of who's who before they fall victim to the madness of an alien first contact gone terribly wrong.

When the Thing starts rampaging around like a bull in a China shop, that's pretty much the end of the tension, turning a horror classic into something of an action movie with the diminutive character of Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) being the quick-thinking survivalist who makes it to the end (eh, that's not really a spoiler, is it?).

But it's during the scenes interspersed with the closing credits that all the clues start falling into place, and the significance of the events that had just taken place is revealed. Because it was hidden in plain sight, the last surprise was for me the biggest surprise of all.

... wait. What? You knew it all along? Well, I didn't read the literature on the movie before I watched it. Who asked you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

dNYel cook-off

dNYel bonding exercise took us to SoEZ Cooking Studio where in teams of four we learned to prepare a three-course set meal. Drawn at random, with me were Liz, Mdm Joojoo and Gladys. They're not people I normally work with, but each of us found a niche in the team to occupy. Since it was better for me not to handle sharp objects, SGL and Gladys focused on cubing, julienning and baton-ing the vegetables. Liz rescued my earlier attempt at making the sauce, which left me stirring the pot and timing when to throw what in next.

On arrival, the workstations were already laid out with the necessary ingredients in mostly the right quantities. Kitchen paraphernalia neatly arranged within easy reach. If you can't find something, it's probably in the shelf underneath the work surface. The instructor chef gives a demo of preparing the more complicated course, then we're on our own to interpret the given recipes from which we had to cook up our own culinary creations.

The instructions in the recipes were a bit vague, though. Specific quantities were not mentioned, so I didn't know that we needed to divide the chicken stock into three parts: one for the minestrone, one for boiling the vegetables that formed the bed and garnish for... the sauce the cod was supposed to be basted in. Result: while the others ended up with a pan poached cod, my group served cod stew instead. Observe below:

Cod and vegetables, served slightly underdone with a topping of weak, light soy sauce-based gravy. Just the way I like it. The veggies on the right is a fresh, crispy cold pumpkin salad. Raw pumpkin soaked in ice-water has a nice crunch, quite refreshing to nibble on. And minestrone with a touch too much salt under guess who's liberal hand.

Reflective of dNYel itself, I daresay we did ok despite the vagueness of our task instructions. Although not exactly award-winning, we still pulled off a "tolerably edible" rating... at least, by my standards.

Monday, October 10, 2011

enRaged and barfy

Grading media vs violence essay question inspired me to buy Rage. Now I can take it all out on the muties and bandits wandering around a post-apocalyptic wasteland while I attempt to complete random find-fetch-and-carry tasks for the friendly people in the neighbourhood. You build a sense of community very quickly with people who will provide survival gear, weapons, ammo and vehicles, though why they don't take the initiative to do things for themselves is beyond me.

But with my schedule, I've barely scratched the surface of what looks to be a deep, involving campaign. The depth comes from a huge number of gameplay choices available to the player. There are many weapons and ammo loadouts to master; vehicular combat and/or stunt-racing; and probably a few optional mini-games as well. Lots of loot to pick up too: different combinations of which offer weapon upgrades; survival tools or sellable items from which to purchase upgrades and um, more stuff.

Enemy AI is quite proficient at duck and cover, costing valuable ammo, so for a player like me, patience is the biggest virtue. It's also the biggest virtue because -- as long-time readers can remind me -- FPS games cause motion-sickness. Why do I never remember this before plunking down money on games that make me feel on the inside what the muties look like on the outside once I'm through with them? I'm going to have to take this game one mission at a time, and that looks like my Christmas holiday assignment this year.

And THAT's what I think of media-violence essays.