Monday, September 29, 2008

Gone in 60 Seconds

Plot: Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi) is a cocky young car thief working with a crew to steal 50 cars for a very bad man whose nickname is "The Carpenter." Being young and cocky, Kip messes up, so it's up to his big brother, Randall "Memphis" Raines (Nicolas Cage), to come out of car thief retirement and save him. With a cast that includes Robert Duvall, Angelina Jolie, Delroy Lindo, Cage, and Ribisi, it would be easy to say this story wastes all their talents--which it does, but that's not the point. This is a Jerry Bruckheimer film. A good story and complex characters would only get in the way of the action scenes and slow the movie down. No, Gone in 60 Seconds (based on the cult 1974 film of the same name) is not about the stars as much as it's about cars. Fast cars. Rare cars. Wrecked cars. All cars. Too bad director Dominic Sena (Kalifornia) doesn't come across as more of a gearhead; he seems less interested in fast cars than fast cuts. But is this movie fun? Absolutely, and it's fun because it's so stupid. With pointless car chases and hackneyed dialogue in one of the most predictable plots of the year, Gone in 60 Seconds is a comic film that's not quite a parody of itself, but darn close. --Andy Spletzer
My take: Yet another Nicolas Cage action flick. Can't you guys see he's just not on?

The Color of Money

Plot: Pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson finds the young, promising pool player Vincent in a local bar and he sees in him a younger version of himself. To try and make it as in the old days, Eddie offers to teach Vincent how to be a hustler. After some hesitations Vincent accepts and Eddie takes him and Vincent's girlfriend Carmen on a tour through the country to work the pool halls. However, Vincent's tendency to show off his talent and by doing so warning off the players and losing money, soon leads to a confrontation with Eddie.
My take: Makes you fall in love with pool all over again. Here's to Paul Newman.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bloody English

Only the English could've invented this language.

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes, but the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes. One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese. Yet the plural of moose should never be meese. You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice, yet the plural of house is houses, not hice. If the plural of man is always called men, then shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen? If I speak of my foot and show you my feet, if I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet? If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth? Then one may be that, and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose, and the plural of cat is cats, not cose. We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren. Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England. We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? We ship by truck but send cargo by ship. We have noses that run and feet that smell. We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway. And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on. And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop? And if people from Poland are called Poles, then people from Holland should be called Hoesl and Germans, Germs.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Les Choristes

Plot: Set in 1948, a professor of music, Clement Mathieu, becomes the supervisor at a boarding school for the rehabilitation for minors. What he discovers disconcerts him -- the current situation is repressive. Through the power of song, Clement tries to transform the students.
My take: Thoroughly enjoyable reminder of contract teaching. Shout "Silence!" when you want silence. And boy can Jean-Baptiste Maunier sing. =]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

AIG - Almost Incompetently Gazumped

They had us worried there. AIG's near collapse had my heart in my mouth when I thought about the jersey I have with AIG (Aaron is Great) plastered across the front. The 56.5m pounds Manchester United stand to receive in the next few years was suddenly at stake. Thankfully, the US government bailed AIG out with US$85b in return for virtual executive control. Oh well, as long as we get our money, though we can always negotiate a better deal given our triumphs last season.

Cluster Games 2008

Here's the PR talk first. Seng Kang Pri did astoundingly well at the N1 Cluster Games. The football team reached the semis and was the only team that the eventual champions, Xinmin Sec, failed to beat. Our badminton team finished with a 100% win record.

Now here's the truth. Our football team drew two matches against strong opposition in the round-robin, before running out of steam in the semis. We eventually finished fourth, though we should have got third if not for Kalai's injury.

Our badminton duo of Daniel and Mr Lim won their men's doubles match against local favourites Xinmin Sec. Then they were informed that the next match was mixed doubles. Since neither of them wore a skirt, they had to forfeit. Like, hello? How bad can the communication be that we did not even know that it was a team event of 8 people? Apparently Xinmin Pri, just next door, had no inkling of any badminton competition too. It's obvious to me that this was a shoddy last-minute job instigated by SOMEONE in N1, with Xinmin Sec drawing the short end of the stick to organise it.

Further evidence of incompetence abounded in the football tournament. Firstly, whose bright idea was it to have it during Ramadan? It's complete disregard for the well-being of our Muslim teachers. Secondly, there were no water points despite a blazing hot afternoon sun. We had to walk to a water cooler at the other end of the field. Thirdly, how can you get Xinmin Sec boys to referee games involving Xinmin Sec, especially when their teachers are right there playing? I don't doubt their integrity, but why put them in such a difficult position in the first place? Volunteers from remaining teams could easily have been drafted in to referee the games instead of the boys being referees and timekeepers. Finally, our third-fourth placing match was sidelined by the final, so we had no ball boys, and had to keep waiting for balls to be replaced. Apparently the ball boys were too engrossed in the final. Inexcusable - if you have a job, do it.

The last point I need to mention that points to this being a last-minute job is that Seng Kang Pri's very own Staff Games Day, planned so long beforehand, had to take a backseat to this event just because it's at cluster level. If this had been planned earlier, we could have deconflicted the schedule, allowing our fitter PE colleagues to take part.

The last word goes to the football team. Many thanks and congratulations to everyone for going further than we thought we would.
Azreen & Faisal - Despite your fasting, your self-sacrifice inspired us all. Your holding the ball up allowed us to get in the game, just as your runs to the side allowed us to spread the play. And Faisal, what a cracker! =]
Kok Leong - Our captain led by example, never once letting us down. A rock at the back.
Shou Fei - Your tireless running gave us some respite from fitter teams and you never gave up.
Kalai - Cramps notwithstanding, our creative hub that allowed us to create many chances that we did not take.
Daniel - For stepping into the breach when Kalai was down. Performed admirably and threw himself in the face of danger to save us from going further behind.

Let's do this again next year!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Thank God it went well. Managed time and the class well, despite the efforts of the visualiser and projector to sabotage me. Woo hoo!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

1 to 10 and Back Again - An Ah Beng's Tale

Form a story from 1 to 10 and back again. Do it Ah Beng-style. =]

1 day I go 2 climb up a 3 outside a house to peep. But the couple saw me, so I panic and 4 down. The man rush out and wanted to 5 with me. I run so fast until I fall 6 and throw up. So I go into 7 eleven and grab some 8 to throw at him. Then I took a 9 and try to stab him. 10 God he run away. So, I put the 9 back and pay for the 8 and left 7 eleven. Next day, I call my boss and say I am 6. He said 5, tomorrow also no need to come back 4 work. He also asks me to climb a 3 and jump down. I don't understand, I so nice 2 him but I don't know what he 1.

Croatia 1-4 Ingerlund

Whodathunkit? England demolish Croatia to exact some measure of revenge for the Euro 08 capitulation - and how. A hat-trick from Theo "not-good-enough-for-Arsenal-but-good-enough-for-England" Walcott knocked the stuffing out of Slaven Bilic's men, with Rooney a key architect. Theo "I-went-to-World-Cup-2006-and-all-I-got-was-this-lousy-T-shirt" Walcott - Wal-Cott for the World Cup! (read this out and you can hear the pun =] )

Friday, September 05, 2008

REM - Imitation of Life

The single's video, depicting a scene of an elaborate pool party, was shot in Los Angeles by Garth Jennings. Michael Stipe, in an interview with MTV UK in 2001, explained how the video was made. "The entire video took twenty seconds to shoot. What you're watching is a loop that goes forwards for twenty seconds, backwards for twenty seconds, forwards for twenty seconds, backwards for twenty seconds, with one camera, static, and then using a technique called 'pan and scan', which is a technical thing that is used when they go from a widescreen format and reformat to fit your television or DVD, moving in on certain parts of the entire picture. And you'll see that we do that picking up various people within the frame."
Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Visit to Science Centre

Brought the 10 winning students to Science Centre where we saw an exploding hydrogen balloon, live electricity, F1 simulators and many more.

Didn't get a thank you though. =[

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Teach Less Learn More with Spencer Kagan

I believe this workshop may just have revolutionised my teaching. Sure it sounds pretty easy to implement, but the hustle and bustle of a Singapore school does present an obstacle. Despite that, I will try to implement at least a few of the structures and examine the theory behind the eventual abolishment of traditional classroom practices.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tan Howe Liang gets $10K from NTUC

I'm all for Tan Howe Liang getting the recognition he fully deserves, but why did it have to wait 48 years before someone gave him the credit, and why didn't SSC or SNOC or MCYS or some other governmental acronym do it first? Kudos to NTUC for doing it because no one else would.

Free Time

Plan for my free time:

1. Agape
a. Teach guitar to Agapeans [Beginners: Angela, Kenneth, Yinglei; Intermediate: Shannon]
b. Meet/call Agapeans [Matt, Duncan, Edwin & Jayne, Seng & Sharon, Edgar & Jiahui]

2. Meet/call friends [Art, Amy, Hafiz, Chongkiat, Sab, Nat, Keh, Ting]

3. Professionals/Students
a. Follow-up Exco [Oct-Dec 08: Yewhock, Jasmine (Yinglei), Phyllis]
b. Plan Professionals retreat 2008; forge Professionals vision/mission [bookmark]; launch buddies pledge

4. Entertainment
a. Watch movies [Aviator, Listening with Your Heart, Pulp Fiction, Pursuit of Happyness, Tommy Igoe's Groove Essentials, Worms 2]
b. Read J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter 4-7, Jason's Top 25 children's books, Newbery Award winners

5. Spiritual/Physical Health
a. Drink more water, MRET or otherwise
b. Do more QT
c. Sleep ONLY 8 hours a day, before 11pm
d. Spring cleaning: files and books in the corner
e. Exercise: Before shower - push ups [spider, normal, triangle], climb more stairs; weekly - swimming, jogging, cycling, tennis & football [when better]; KIV - dumbbells [tricep, bicep, pectoral]

6. Wedding/Flat
a. Plan for 23 May 09 wedding with Angela, Yewhock, Sharon, advisors [TBC: Edwin & Jayne, Edgar & Jiahui, P Nettie]
b. Plan for Damai Grove (renovation)
c. Wedding favour [iTunes playlist on CD-R]
d. Counselling

Au revoir, Andrew...

Had dinner with Andrew this evening at Cathay Restaurant. Of course he tried to pay again, but we wouldn't let him. He even tried the "I'm going to the toilet" trick; eventually we realised that he really needed to go.

I'm gonna miss the guy, and I wish him and Jenny all the best. He really is taking a leap of faith I couldn't see myself doing. Jenny must be a helluva gal to leave family and forfeit quarter-million for. Well, Jenny, what I do know is that you have a helluva guy pushing his boat out by uprooting himself to UK. =]