Friday, February 29, 2008

Total Defence Day

Two readers have replied to the sweet potato article, saying exactly what I wanted to say if I had mustered the courage to go against MOE policy and write to The New Paper. Kudos to Kiara Chua and Matthew Lee, who basically said that it was unfair to stereotype students as spoilt due to the different lifestyles they have, and that the academic staff should have been put through similar treatment to prevent hypocrisy. I rest my case.
28 Feb 2008, 1834hrs
Read in our favourite TNP today about Total Defence Day. You know, for a front page headline and page two story, I thought they'd entrust it to someone better than two newsroom interns. I do know how difficult it is to write a piece in a few hours, so my sympathies there.

But what followed was a very biased piece whining about how soft and spoilt our children are nowadays. The blame was laid very squarely at the children's feet, but I feel this is very unfair. While I agree that some of them do have life good and could be taught better manners and behaviour, is it really the children's fault that they don't know how to eat sweet potato? Or that they complain when there is the fan in the classroom is turned off? Children nowadays have a very "different lifestyle", as a vice-principal astutely put it. The children can only experience what they are put through. If the parents do not put them through relative hardship, are the children to go looking for it? Don't blame them for being spoilt when there are people more than willing to spoil them with air-conditioned comfort and domestic help.

And please don't blame them for complaining at being hot after PE or recess in a stuffy classroom. Classrooms are relative heat sinks; having been in front of one many times, I know how it feels even with the fan on. On a hot afternoon, it can really stifle the life out of you. I actually pity the children, especially those with skin-related problems. I can imagine how they would have itched and scratched. It is really unfair to put them through such discomfort and imagine that they will accept it gratefully as a lesson. I'm sure our pioneers did grumble here and there about the discomfort as well.

Personally, I can identify with the students who complained about the staff room having air-conditioning. Is Total Defence something only our young should learn about? What does it say to them when the teachers justify the importance of Total Defence in the sweltering classroom and then retreat to the cool climes of the classroom to curse Total Defence Day? It's like justifying talking during the national anthem and then pulling out children for talking.

How can children be content with what they have when they haven't had the opportunity to compare it to anything else?

Now, regarding the sweet potato. Personally, I don't mind the stuff. But you are comparing an adult to primary school children. Surely they are allowed to protest if they are given something they've never tasted before to eat? I imagine that adults would complain at being given fried grasshoppers, so why do we expect a different reaction?

It's simple really. The New Paper has always been willing to treat our education system and children as a ever-present story generator. They rise up in mock outrage when mundane things happen and stir up a hornet's nest at the slightest inkling of a story. It is unfair, unhelpful and honestly irritating.

Bad English

If our newspapers are the paragons of good English, then I'm afraid we are doomed. Just within two sports pages in The New Paper, I found these gems:

"We received an overwhelming number of mails for the question: Who would you want as striker in your team - Wayne Rooney or Fernando Torres."
OK, since when is mail countable? And when does a question not have a question mark?

"This match will be free entry to public, compliments of SAFFC."
So much for the S-League.

"Matches as follow:"
Is the letter 's' at a premium here?



The haze is back, but not as bad. Those Indonesian idiots are at it again. And how is the Asean Charter supposed to help with their perpetual pollution?


Another exciting episode in Jasmine's catalogue of mishaps.

Q: Jasmine was opening a box of chocolate biscuits which was wrapped in foil. Think Arnott's Tim-Tam. Upon pulling the tray out of the foil, a stack of the biscuits promptly dropped to the floor. Why?

A: Simple gravity, my dear readers. She had failed to see big blue words emblazoned across the packaging that said 'THIS SIDE UP' and had opened it upside-down. Sigh.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Writing activity

Observed a writing activity conducted my Ms Lim Swee Ching. Ms Lim is my main CT and she's really, really nice. Prepared a file for me and all. If only all CTs were like Kok Siang and her, and the world will be a better place.

She did what I did not think was possible - take P3 kids through a four-period lesson:
First, she revised some good practices in writing, alluding to the introduction, ending, adjectives, adverbs and direct speech.
Then, she gave detailed instructions for group work, before releasing the children to generate vocabulary for the group composition.
At every point, she tried to stretch this above-average class by rejecting some of their simple words and asking them to try harder. This was stretching the children in practice. They were also advised to refer to their writing guides for ideas.
For weaker groups, she provided them a list of words that described emotions. This was differentiated instruction in action.
She then consolidated the groups' work and showed good examples to the class, including some of her own words.
The children were now tasked to write a composition in their group. Cue pandemonium, pen grabbing, arguing over who goes first etc. right? Wrong. By and large, this class was able to distribute work thanks to their well-defined roles of leader, quiet captain, resource manager and timekeeper. Only minor intervention was required.
Work all done, these pupils were supposed to write individually the next lesson, where it'll be graded and recorded. Let's see how it goes.

William Gallas: Captain Underpants

Many have come out and said that William Gallas should be stripped of his captaincy. Here I present Exhibits A and B.
First, he kicked out at Nani when Arsenal were 4-0 down. Then, in another match against Birmingham, he kicked advertising hoardings and sat down by the touchline crying like a baby when Clichy conceded an injury-time penalty. Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira must be hiding their faces.

Nani seal juggling

This is class. Really rubbed salt into the Gunners' wounds. Got the Gunners' knickers all in a twist.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Excursion to Singapore River

Went with 3 Meticulous to the Singapore River under the blazing hot sun. They were quite a handful though I could empathise given the weather and the inability to hear the guide at any given time. The girls are fine really - already have some favourites - but the boys seem to have ants in their pants. I don't know how some of these more experienced teachers build up a tolerance to rowdiness. I hope I'll find out one day.

Church Retreat meeting

Had our first real meeting with the Church Retreat workforce. Working with Pastor Nettie is a breeze - our responsibilities, the agenda etc. were already prepared - such is the effectiveness! Seems that I have the most to do: I hope I can balance this with board responsibilities, practicum and wedding preparations.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Real Madrid 0-1 Getafe

Wah, stupidity. Arjen Robben thought he'd scored then half the team went to celebrate. But someone was offside so Getafe counter-attacked 4-on-2 and scored, for real this time. Stoopid. Rafizah, eat your heart out!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jasmine Tang vs Eric Tsang

Jasmine has lost her voice and doesn't know where she put it. Now she sounds like Eric Tsang, the guy in the middle who hosts Super Trio. I can't talk to her without laughing. =]

Eduardo's broken ankle

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wedding meeting

Angela, Yewhock, Sharon, Jasmine and I met for the first time to outline what we needed to do for our 23 May 2009 wedding. There were so many things to discuss over dinner at New York New York that we started getting stares at the 3 1/2 hour mark. We managed to achieve a lot and basically everyone knows what to do. Plus a bonus: we got our queue number for Damai Grove - 589! And there are 676 flats to choose from so we confirm can get a flat. Just depends how picky we are.

How to fold a t-shirt in two seconds

Friday, February 22, 2008


Flixster Plot: The largest storm to hit Oklahoma in more than half a century is brewing, and it promises to drop multiple twisters into Tornado Alley. It's the storm that two rival groups of scientists--Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) and her band of brash university students, and corporate-sponsored Dr. Jonas Miller and his sleek, crack cadre with their state-of-the-art research vans--have been waiting for to earn their place in meteorological history. Each team wants to be the first to launch their own equipment pack inside a twister to transmit valuable scientific data about tornado behavior. But to do so, they must put themselves directly in the path of the marauding monster--and stay always just ahead of the swirling twister, anticipating its every move. Adding to the charged atmosphere, Jo's soon-to-be-ex-husband, meteorologist Bill Harding (Bill Paxton), reluctantly joins Jo and his old crew for this last, epic chase.
My take: Amazing graphics for the F5 tornado. Not bad for a 90s movie. And I think I saw Rob Schneider somewhere in there. Can anyone verify?

Dilbert's In-duh-viduals

"We were given our yearly evaluations and handed our objectives for the upcoming year: "Everyone must exceed the Team Average in sales dollars." My boss explained that this was not a case of exceeding a previous average; all ten of us were expected to be above whatever our current average was."

"I love it when it stays light out until it gets dark."

"If my father were alive he would be turning over in his grave."

"I'd like to wish a happy 15th anniversary to our extinguished colleague."

"Man, I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous!"

"You couldn't pay me to work on commission."

“They’re going through paper like it grows on trees.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Listening & Speaking lesson plans

Finished both, including my calculator activities. Now for practicum.
Took me ages to complete one. I think I'm gonna just die at practicum.

Under the Tuscan Sun

Flixster Plot: After a brutal divorce, Frances (Lane) is persuaded by her friend Patti (Sandra Oh) to take a tour of Italy--where, on a whim that she hopes will rescue her from her desperate unhappiness, she buys a rundown villa and sets out to renovate it. Along the way, she gets advice from a former Fellini actress, meets a scrumptious Italian lover, and helps support Patti after her own relationship derails. The conclusion of Under the Tuscan Sun holds no surprises, but the deft turns and observations along the way are delightful. Lane carries the film effortlessly but surely, exuding both heartbreak and re-awakening passion. --Bret Fetzer
My take: Nothing special here, just a well-written story that ends all too familiarly.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Flixster Plot: At his best, director John Woo turns action movies into ballets of blood and bullets grounded in character drama. Face/Off marks Woo's first American film to reach the pitched level of his best Hong Kong work (Hard-Boiled). He takes a patently absurd premise--hero and villain exchange identities by literally swapping faces in science-fiction plastic surgery--and creates a double-barreled revenge film driven by the split psyches of its newly redefined characters. FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) must play the villain to move through the underworld while psychotic terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) becomes a perversely paternal family man while using every tool at his disposal to destroy his nemesis. Travolta vamps Cage's tics and flamboyant excess with the grace of a dancer after his transformation from cop to criminal, while Cage plays the sullen, bottled-up agent excruciatingly trapped behind the face of the man who killed his son. His attempts to live up to the terrorist's reputation become cathartic explosions of violence that both thrill and terrify him. This is merely icing on the cake for action fans, the dramatic backbone for some of the most visceral action thrills ever. Woo fills the screen with one show-stopping set piece after another, bringing a poetic grace to the action freakout with sweeping camerawork and sophisticated editing. This marriage of melodrama and mayhem ups the ante from cops-and-robbers clichés to a conflict of near-mythic levels. --Sean Axmaker
My take: Typical overcooked John Woo largesse.

The Recruit

Flixster Plot: "Nothing is what it seems" in The Recruit, a guessing-game thriller that employs plot twists and conflicting loyalties as its primary raison d'être. Surrounded by potential deception, a newly recruited CIA officer (Colin Farrell) must determine if his manipulative instructor (Al Pacino) is being honest when he identifies Farrell's fellow recruit and love interest (Bridget Moynahan) as an enemy "mole" assigned to steal a dangerous computer virus from CIA headquarters. While claiming to offer an insider's look at CIA training methods, this engrossing yet ultimately predictable plot is pure Hollywood fantasy; any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental, leaving the perpetually unshaven and scruffily coiffed Farrell to fend for himself in Pacino's cynical arena while tracing his familial roots in the spy game. Wearing its cleverness on its sleeve, The Recruit is an adequately elaborate puzzle of perceptions. "Everything is a test," as Farrell soon realizes, and attentive viewers will enjoy piecing it all together. --Jeff Shannon
My take: Pretty riveting stuff. Nothing special though.

The Stockdale Paradox

Something Pastor Koo mentioned that was rather interesting in his sermon When Life Sucks:
"Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. At the same time, confront the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be." - Jim Collins in Good to Great

The name refers to Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War. Tortured over 20 times during his eight-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoner's rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again. He shouldered the burden of command, doing everything he could to create conditions that would increase the number of prisoners who would survive unbroken, while fighting an internal war against his captors and their attempts to use the prisoners for propaganda. At one point, he beat himself with a stool and cut himself with a razor, deliberately disfiguring himself, so that he could not be put on videotape as an example of a “well-treated prisoner.” He exchanged secret intelligence information with his wife through their letters, knowing that discovery would mean more torture and perhaps death. He instituted rules that would help people to deal with torture (no one can resist torture indefinitely, so he created a step-wise system—after x minutes, you can say certain things—that gave the men milestones to survive toward). He instituted an elaborate internal communications system to reduce the sense of isolation that their captors tried to create, which used a five-by-five matrix of tap codes for alpha characters. (Tap-tap equals the letter a, tap-pause-tap-tap equals the letter b, tap-tap-pause-tap equals the letter f, and so forth, for 25 letters, c doubling for k.) At one point, during an imposed silence, the prisoners mopped and swept the central yard using the code, swish-swashing out “We love you” to Stockdale, on the third anniversary of his being shot down. After his release, Stockdale became the first three-star officer in the history of the navy to wear both aviator wings and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

You can understand, then, my anticipation at the prospect of spending part of an afternoon with Stockdale. One of my students had written his paper on Stockdale, who happened to be a senior research fellow studying the Stoic philosophers at the Hoover Institution right across the street from my office, and Stockdale invited the two of us for lunch. In preparation, I read In Love and War, the book Stockdale and his wife had written in alternating chapters, chronicling their experiences during those eight years.

As I moved through the book, I found myself getting depressed. It just seemed so bleak—the uncertainty of his fate, the brutality of his captors, and so forth. And then, it dawned on me: “Here I am sitting in my warm and comfortable office, looking out over the beautiful Stanford campus on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I’m getting depressed reading this, and I know the end of the story! I know that he gets out, reunites with his family, becomes a national hero, and gets to spend the later years of his life studying philosophy on this same beautiful campus. If it feels depressing for me, how on earth did he deal with it when he was actually there and did not know the end of the story?”

“I never lost faith in the end of the story,” he said, when I asked him. “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

* * *

I didn’t say anything for many minutes, and we continued the slow walk toward the faculty club, Stockdale limping and arc-swinging his stiff leg that had never fully recovered from repeated torture. Finally, after about a hundred meters of silence, I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”

“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.

“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say,‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to me and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

To this day, I carry a mental image of Stockdale admonishing the optimists: “We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”


Test item construction

I can't believe I put in so much work to try and get an A by doing P5 geometry. Why do I try so hard for? I don't even get a bonus for good results; the futility of it all.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Flixster Plot: Fifty years from now, the sun is dying, and mankind is dying with it. Our last hope: a spaceship and a crew of eight men and women. They carry a device which will breathe new life into the star. But deep into their voyage, out of radio contact with Earth, their mission is starting to unravel. There is an accident, a fatal mistake, and a distress beacon from a spaceship that disappeared seven years earlier. Soon the crew is fighting not only for their lives, but their sanity.
My take: Angela, special effects aside, I still don't see what the fuss is about.

Budget 2008

Two main goodies from Minister Tharman:
1. 40% subsidy for part-time degrees at local universities:
This will save me about $10K. It'll help Jasmine and me out in our savings too.

2. $600 in Growth Dividends:
I think this is the amount I should be getting. Money's money!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Gems reunion dinner

Well, it was a reunion of sorts, as we haven't had ALG meetings since last year because of the restructuring. I was so glad 16 people came; I had no idea so many would come. Thanks to all of you for making the supreme effort to come from all over the island. It wasn't the best laid plans as we gave up the steamboat idea to go to a kopitiam instead, but in the end it was OK. Thank God.

Here's looking to a blessed Year of the Rat for Agape and Gems!

A Whole New World recording

Urbanwire alumni

Met up with Mr. Yee, Keh, Haris and James at the Urbanwire launch party. It's now been five years since my time there. The emperor hasn't changed at all, but it all feels like another part of my life altogether. Miss Agnes, Karene, Jude, Sab and the lot. Those were the days. "In the forest..."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Readers' Theatre

It's finally over. I think we did well despite some last-minute changes to the timing in the morning. Our combined cab fares came to $50! The performance went ok, but I wasn't so sure about the assessment. There's a vast difference between stuff that'll work in theory and what happens in reality. I haven't quite grasped it yet.
4 Feb 2008, 2159hrs
My groupmates selected my script as the one to be performed, despite being half-completed. I hope to repay their faith in me. That means sending it out by tonight. The good news is I do feel a little energised, so I might be able to pull this off.
3 Feb 2008, 1959hrs
Managed to get the skeleton out, thanks to Jasmine. Now it's some intra-solar system getting-to-know-you party, seeing the planets' orbits have not intersected for 4.6 billion years. So the Sun invites all of them for a house-warming (geddit?) party. Interesting conversations entail.
2 Feb 2008, 1059hrs
Learnt some new befangled EL integration strategy where students perform by reading from a script that's been dramatised from a fiction or (less commonly) non-fiction text. Our assignment requires to write one such script and perform it at Juying Primary. It's supposed to be 15 minutes long. I'm just thinking of the sheer number of words I need to fit in. And it's due Monday. =[

Richard Clayderman's Ballade pour Adeline

Old skool man.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


These refer to words that look the same whether you look at them upside-down or right-side-up. An alternative to this is one word that looks different when you look at it either way. This is one that reads as Chinwei and Yuenhar at the same time!

You can find more at

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Aiping was asking me to interpret a section of the Companies Act of Singapore. It didn't seem like English at all, and I concluded that even lawyers need English teachers. A sentence of over 60 words ran on without a single comma, semi-colon, colon, hyphen or whatever - it just ran on and on, conditional clauses and other sentence fragments notwithstanding. Here it is in all its glory - you make sense of it:
"Accounting records and systems of control"
4) If accounting and other records are kept by the company at a place outside Singapore there shall be sent to and kept at a place in Singapore and be at all times open to inspection by the directors such statements and returns with respect to the business dealt with in the records so kept as will enable to be prepared true and fair profit and loss accounts and balance-sheets and any documents required to be attached thereto.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New Police Story

Flixster Plot: Inspector Wing of the Hong Kong Police Force has become the victim of a gang, led by the evil Joe. When his entire team is killed, Wing becomes a hapless drunk, feeling guilty for the deaths of his team. A young man with a troubled past pretends to be a police officer working on the case with Wing, to get him back on his feet and begin an adventure to get revenge on the evil Joe and his Gang of Five, especially when it becomes personal.

The Source of Love

A radical reevaluation of spiritual beliefs is on the cards for island resident Chen Hon-ming (Chung King-fai) in Christian movie The Source of Love. Viewers meet the aging school teacher as he reaches the end of his career, threatened with redundancy yet working hard to support his ex-junkie daughter Kar-yi's schooling abroad. At home Chen's wife keeps pulling away his wine bottle, he's out of touch with his stuttering preacher son Ah Kit and his senile father has been packed off to an old folks' home.
Chen's simmering troubles start to reach boiling point after Kar-yi sneaks back to Hong Kong pregnant and single. When the young woman makes her return known with an arrest for assault, dramas come to a head and it's not long before religious messages put forward by Ah Kit gain increasing strength.
The Source of Love presents a belief-reaffirming rather than evangelist message in a straightforward and pleasing production. Shot on 35 mm, Stephen Shin's movie is a low-key affair largely focused on faith and a family unit, and the Christian theme dwells on difficulty in persuading people to reject traditional customs for new beleifs. Chen in particular is suspicious of a foreign god, and others point out the apparent uselessness of practices like worshipping ancestors. Study of writing is used repeatedly to show Christianity's relevance in a Chinese setting, showing again and again how the character for "lamb" connects to characters for "eternal" and "righteous". A paper cutout technique to produce a cross and key Chinese and English words also appears more than once.
Noteworthy asides appear in spirited comment on contemporary issues, like Hong Kong's falling English standards and rising unemployment, to keep the production current and some successful light comedy dots the script. An uninteresting side story with local gangsters also runs concurrent to the main narrative. Location work is anchored on peaceful Cheung Chau island settings, while brief diversions into the city include interesting environs like Sai Ying Pun. The score by Chan Wing-wah ranges from acoustic guitar to overly dramatic arrangements, at one point drowning out a prayer. Chung King-fai and Tomi Wong turn in classy performances as parent figures while Peter Yeung Kwan adds subtle humour to his grandfather role. Elsewhere Taiwanese singer Samuel Tai is fine as an evangelising youth, cheery Scott Smyth shows more command of Cantonese than acting and Gabriel Harrison appears briefly as an unpleasant ex-boyfriend who exits with a brick to the head. The movie is dedicated to the late Roy Chiao, who commenced work on the production before his death in 1999.

The Longest Yard

Flixster Plot: Pro quarterback Paul Crewe and former college champion and coach, Nate Scarboro are both doing time in the same prison. Asked to put together a team of inmates to take on the guards, Crewe enlists the help of Scarboro to coach the inmates to victory in a football game "fixed" to turn out quite the other way.
My take: Oh this could've been funnier, if Astro hadn't bleeped out every other word. Can't you say 'shit' anymore?

Chinese New Year

An uneventful affair this year, with low takings in ang pow and even lower in entertainment. Eat, sleep, watch TV, read a book, type out an assignment, scold a cousin/nephew/niece, swat mosquitoes/flies etc. The only interesting things were learning poker and driving my cousins' cars.

Why Me, Sweetie?

The Skinny: Uneven romantic comedy which is as magnificently manufactured as they come. The film ends much better than it begins, but that isn't necessarily a saving grace. Louis Koo and Cherrie Ying fans will probably be happy, though.
Review by Kozo: Though he started in the horror and triad genres, Louis Koo has since become Hong Kong Cinema's romantic comedy golden boy. The Man with the Tan has played romantic foils to such screen queens as Gigi Leung, Sammi Cheng, Cecilia Cheung and Miriam Yeung, and the result has been generally profitable if not overtly good motion pictures. Koo has thankfully shown good comedic presence, and has never been afraid to poke fun at his own ladykiller image. Why Me, Sweetie?! plays to those strengths, and Koo performs gamely. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the film is good.
Koo is Don, a studly baker who runs a small but popular bakery in Beijing. An avowed player, he nevertheless is smitten by Ding Ding (Cherrie Ying), an American Born Chinese who charms him with her energetic, offbeat ways. Despite knowing that Don is a player, Ding Ding allows herself to be roped in, and things actually seem to head somewhere for the two. Then the plot device hits. When Don seems to have totally fallen in love with Ding Ding, he suddenly turns red and collapses. When Ding Ding sees him next, he's back to being a total player, and professes not to know her. And, given Koo's smarmy performance, it's hard not to believe him.
But Ding Ding learns the truth thanks to the intervention of Dr. Chie (Tats Lau), Don's longtime pal. Chie tells Ding Ding that Don has a selective memory disorder, which he gained due to the tragic death of a former lover, who ironically looked exactly like Ding Ding. Chie believes that Ding Ding can somehow help cure Don, and even if he isn't cured, the two can continue their relationship anyway. They use a notebook of Ding Ding facts, temporary tattoos, and many pictures to constantly remind Don of who he's supposed to love. And it seems to work, for a while at least. But can the two actually make a long-term relationship work when one is a part-time amnesiac?
The concept for this romantic comedy is utterly manufactured, but that's no real surprise. Given the fact that most Hong Kong—and even American—romantic comedies feature a paper-thin premise, one should be able to forgive Why Me, Sweetie?! for its narrative silliness. Sure, all of the couple's problems could easily be solved if Don visited a real brain specialist (Chie is actually a dentist), but if that happened the film wouldn't be able to employ its nifty Groundhog Day/Memento devices. Since Koo is dashingly handsome and Ying is refreshingly adorable, it should be a pleasure to watch the two fall in love again. And again. And yet again. It's like five movies packed into one.
However, instead of five movies packed into one, Why Me, Sweetie?! feels like one movie stretched on for eternity. Director Jingle Ma makes his actors look good, but his pacing and construction leave a lot to be desired. The film starts with lots of needless fast motion, overdone histrionics, and sometimes grating comedy. Then the film does a complete flip-flop and gets overly dramatic and saccharine for a protracted second half. It's like Ma felt obligated to give us both comedy and drama, but didn't know how to intertwine the two. His inability to handle the material makes the manufactured pathos seem magnified and doubly obvious. The result: an uneven and annoying film that manages to affect, but only because they lay it on so thick at the end. Romantic comedies are preferable if the audience isn't pummelled into buying it.
Still, the actors are certainly attractive and even charming. Koo and Ying both overact like idiots during the silly scenes, but they handle the dramatic sequences decently. Koo is convincingly lovelorn and teary, a combination that probably sends his swooning female fanbase into throes of ecstasy. And Ying possesses a photogenic charm and energy that's very winning. She could have the makings of a real star, though she should sometimes take it down a notch. Like most ingenues, she doesn't really know how to regulate her performances, and spends too much time mugging and pouting. Hopefully she'll find a way to tone it down in the future.
Then again, this could all be Jingle Ma's fault. In the past, Ma has taken good resources and made workable entertainment, but his actual ability to craft a film has never been established. His direction of a script seems arbitrary and without any discernible purpose, and he's never shown the ability to direct actors. This can be seen in the uneven performances of the leads, and in the no-name supporting characters, who are utterly faceless and uninteresting. Ma is lucky to have Louis Koo, Cherrie Ying and Tats Lau (in an amusingly droll performance) to bring some life to his manufactured script, which possesses the depth of your average kiddie pool. Ultimately, Why Me, Sweetie?! has far too many cloying and unnecessary moments to make it a truly compelling motion picture. But it also has a lot of Louis Koo and Cherrie Ying, which could be enough for some people. (Kozo 2003)
My take: Cliched, but all in all not too bad. Quite enjoyable.

Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

Flixster Plot: Today is a special day for Conrad and Sally Walden--even though they don't think it is. It seems that Sally and Conrad, different as black and white, have pushed their single mom, Joan Walden, to the limit. Conrad's endless rule breaking has his mom seriously considering military school for her son--an idea planted by her just-this-side-of-smarmy neighbor and suitor, Lawrence Quinn. Sally, tightly wound though well-behaved, has bossed away every friend she has, and divides her time between upbraiding her brother and putting new 'To Do' lists in her junior palm pilot. And all the while their mom is just trying to keep domestic peace while balancing a successful career as a real estate agent for her germophobe boss, Mr. Humberfloob. However, on the Saturday that she is to host her company's party, Joan's preparations have fallen prey to Conrad's shenanigans. Thus, she lays down a mom-sized decree: Sally and Conrad are not to leave the house while she is at work; furthermore, they are forbidden from making a mess or misbehaving in any way. The kids are left with little to do besides sit and stare out of the window, while their babysitter, Mrs. Kwan, dozes in the den. Until their unexpected guest--a six-foot-tall talking feline, sporting a red-and-white-striped stovepipe hat--appears. The original party animal himself arrives to turn their world upside down by showing Sally and Conrad that "it's good to have fun--but you have to know how!"
My take: Lame shit. Watchable for Dakota Fanning alone.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Brain teaser

What do these words have in common?

Answer: No, it is not that they all have at least 2 double letters.
In all of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the
end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word.

De Coder's Cafe

Board game haters beware! There's a new board game cafe in Newton called De Coder's Cafe. They have an interesting pricing system so it might be worth checking out once. Check it out:

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Christian lo hei

Red envelope which contains pepper
“Praise the Lord, for peppering us with your loving kindness.”

Green envelope which contains five-spice powder
“Praise the Lord, for accepting our labor as a fragrant offering to His plan.”

“Praise the Lord, for the grace of God to be fishers of men.”

“Praise the Lord, for the oil that keeps us burning in this fight of faith.”
“Praise the Lord, for anointing us with the oil of joy.” (Psa 45:7)

Plum Sauce
“Praise the Lord, for the sweetness of your Words sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Psa 119:103)

“Praise the Lord, for the street of pure gold that you have prepared for us to live in eternity.” (Rev 21:21)