Monday, 30 November 2009

open to interpretation

i like how various forms of art are so subjective that it really boils down to personal preference or appreciation. like how music means different things to different people, or even when they mean different things to the same person when the person is going through different things in life. same goes for other forms of art, including but not exclusively, movies, pictures, drawings... you get the idea.

anyway, i was driving my mom's car earlier today (because i fail at having my own) and the radio was set to some oldies station. on came a song, which i had not heard in ages. pretty much since my high-school days. and it really struck me - how the song had little to no meaning then, but today i just went 'yeap, so true, so true'.

i'm sure a lot of you have had the same situation happen and i guess it takes nothing more than a simple 10 seconds of reflection to have this happen. what's more interesting, however, is just how different people's interpretations are and why they are so. a little something of a social observation i like to make. i call it 'put yourself in my shoes' and where practice meets reality, sometimes it makes me see things i never really did otherwise. i guess, in that sense, people are open to interpretation - any why not so? people are the best form of art to begin with.

Friday, 27 November 2009

you don't change lanes in a roundabout

because, not only is it wrong, but it's also retarded and gay (apologies if anyone reading actually is retarded or homosexual, but i'm using the colloquial terms that are figurative, and not literal).

i've seen a lot of horribaddible driving, even though i don't generally drive. i'd much prefer to walk or take public transport, where i don't have to worry about all the hassle and stress of driving myself. but, even as an observer, i've been exposed to too much road-related failures to say that people, in general, can actually drive. sure you have a license, but in my book, that doesn't make you someone who can drive.

here's a checklist to see for yourself if you meet the standard ethics of being on the road:

- do you give your indicator signal at least 5 seconds before making a turn?
- do you switch lanes at ease, unerringly swerving into a neighbouring lane just to surpass the slow-ass car in front of you?
- do you stop at to let pedestrians cross the road (even if there's no zebra crossing)?
- do you actually stop at the 'stop' sign, even though there's no cars around as far as you can tell?
- do you cut that red light when you're alone on the road, in the middle of the night, and there's obviously nobody's around to catch you (or worse, run into you)?
- does the orange light mean slow down, or go faster?
- do you use your horn sparingly, or is it part of your leet driving rotation? (accelerate, clutch, shift gear, accelerate, jerk break, horn, rinse and repeat)

and let's not get started with the obvious faults, like the ones one of my friends acknowledgingly has (she's a girl, btw, for those keeping track about women's driving skills); such as the classics:

'the car has an indicator stick? what?'
'i don't know how to drive stick :(' (girl your boyfriend is one unlucky bas3rd :/ )
'can you get out of the car to signal me if i'm parking alright? i can't see below the dashboard' <-- okay so this is not really her fault, being short and all. but still.
'let's not park here, there's only parallel parking'
'at a t-junction, whomever gets there first, goes first, right?'

but, even though i would like to say i'm a pro driver, i'm really not. i don't drive and even if i did, i guess i'm pretty horrible at it. which is why i don't drive. which is why i'm bad at it. circular argument, and go.

but for those who do, it's still a catch 22: in some places i've been, the road is like evolution. on steroids. and lsd for good measure. it's ruthless and people pretty much gut you for being too ethical. it's a dog eat dog world and if you're not an alpha, you're not getting past the 3 block benchmark. is that an excuse for you to drive like a retard, though (again apologies)? not really, but i can see if you did. does it help you sleep better at night? i hope it doesn't, because if it does, you're really in the fail category to start with :/

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

you are (not) what you eat (or drink)

i like going to starbucks. it gives me an air of being yuppie. i sit there, in my short but baggy pants, maybe a sweatshirt or a hockey jersey (they keep me cold in the hot, tropical weather, you see). and i sip my coffee (which is bought at the local mamak stall, because starbucks' coffee is far too expensive for a cheapskate like me :p).

i'll spend 2 hours, maybe three. just sitting there idling. calm down, nobody ever sits at starbucks, so it's not like i'm doing any harm. it's all good. besides, the chairs are comfortable. i like <3. tables are usually a bit sordid, they should really fix that. doesn't fit my style.

oh yeah, and what yuppie would be complete without his laptop? should be a macbook pro or a mac mini (amagad super cute), but i'm rolling with some pc hybrid. conflicts with the yuppie thing but, eh. feign ignorance or something i guess. . gotta look busy with my clicking and typing - obviously this is impressing the chicks because when i glance up from my paper (substitute a third-grade magazine for the wall street, for convenience and practicality) every once in a while, i can see them checking me out. sister, if you want a piece of this, don't hate: appreciate. oh! rhymes, i'd better write that down. let's see. bookmarks, nothing much in here. oh yeah facebook, how could i forget. cool, could keep me here for a couple of hours, at least...

-the hippie yuppie-

Monday, 16 November 2009

et the cinematera

ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the time has come for the unveiling of the number one pick. numero uno. ichiban no eiga desu. wayang terhebat. awwww yeah, boi (cue final countdown soundtrack).

however, have you noticed how they show the 3rd place match before the finals at the world cup? how 'america's funniest home videos' awards 2nd place, followed by 1st/3rd? (by the way for 'how i met your mother' fans, bob saget is the voice of the narrator. how cool is that?) yeap, totally gonna leave you guys in suspense while i count down some of the movies that didn't make the list. what can i say, a good writer never gives the ending away when he can totally jerk you around one more time. not that i'm a good writer, but that's besides the point.

best romantic film
baz luhrmann's romeo + juliet

best animation
the incredibles

best mobster / cop film

best sci-fi film
the matrix

best fantasy film
edward scissorhands

best comedy
forrest gump

best drama
the shawshank redemption

best stop-animation film
the nightmare before christmas

best non-english film
shichinin no samurai (the seven samurai)

best psychological thriller

best action / adventure
indiana jones: raiders of the lost ark

best horror film
stephen king's it

best comic adaptation / superhero film

best war film
schindler's list

best random film
fight club shared with finding forrester

best hero
gregory peck as atticus finch in to kill a mockingbird

best heroine
gillian anderson as agent dana scully in the x-files: i want to believe

best villain(ess)
heath ledger as the joker in the dark knight

best soundtrack / score

turkey film of the millennium (worst film)
battlefield earth

aaaaaaaand apologies for the textwall list of movies. yeah, i actually had to cut down a few categories because it's ridiculously long. i'm sure some of you are already questioning my choices as there's loads of good movies that didn't make the list. but forget that, it's time for the number one film (more dramatic drumroll!):

1. requiem for a dream

this may come as an anti-climatic answer to those who have read my blog for some time, as i've already mentioned how much i love this movie. anyway, because of the extensive (although still not exhaustive) list i've already written, i won't review it. i guess the mysticism at this point adds to pique your interest in the movie, eh? eh? gonna watch it now? eh? eh?

p/s: i just finished reading 'love in the time of cholera' and i just found out there's a movie based on the book, which came out in 2007. only realised this because i was channel surfing today and it was showing on telly. yeah, i've been out of touch with movies for some time. anyway, i loved the book and the movie was mehhhh. i wouldn't be as harsh as the critics have been, giving it as low as a 29% rating. still worth the watch though.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

deus et cinema

continuing where we left off,

5. silence of the lambs
where v was the antithetical hero, hannibal lecter is the epitome of antiheroic deuteragonists. cunning, deranged, impetuous and especially charming; lecter is the kind of character you hate so much, you love him. now, a slight diversion from the review, i make a distinction between lecter's role and that of the villain in the movie (who, imo, is 'buffalo bill', the transsexual/cross-dressing serial killer), for many reasons - one of them being because he is not really everything one hopes to find in a cannonical villain. indeed, sometimes i find myself rooting for lecter more than i do for (clarice) starling.

just as i would not have focused on v in his film, lecter is not the mainstay of 'silence of the lambs'. a stellar performance by jodie foster in the role of clarice starling makes the story very down-to-earth and at times, i felt like the movie is more of a tragedy than a drama, especially when it comes to the psychological banter between the two.

for those who cannot resist a good thriller that swoops in and attacks your ethics and ideal from every angle, this is a must-watch. at the price of yet more sleepless nights. quid pro quo, clarice.

4. se7en
yet another dark and dreary film, se7en comes highly ranked in my list not just because of the immensing storyline, but due to the great effect (and affect) david fincher brings out of the film by setting subtle atmospheric elements. the rainy, unnamed city; biblical references to cardinal sins; oldfag vs. newfag personas in morgan freeman and brad pitt, respectively; the elusiveness of john doe, the greater evil; and so much more. every aspect of the movie has a disturbing artistic value that makes you question morality to the core. cultural ethics out the window, establishment hierarchy down the drain, the time is nigh to question your own beliefs and ideals. will you fall short?

3. back to the future (ep. i)
let's leave all these mind-fu*ks and psychologically-scarring films behind and move on to greener pastures. sci-fi, comedy, drama and a dash of romance, back to the future is so epic, i don't know where to start. remember these moments / phrases?
flux capacitor
johnny b goode
88 miles per hour
flying delorean
1.21 gigawatts
think, mcfly
whoa, this is heavy
great scott!
a dog named einstein
the power of love
lightning strikes and badass flame skidmarks
back in time...

yeap, that's just a handful of the legendary awesomeness that is back to the future. really, i'm not going to write up a summary here - you know what i'm talking about. and if you don't, go watch it, pronto. for shame.

2. the lord of the rings: the two towers
for all i care, you could quote me as having said any piece in the trilogy at this point. unlike the other film series' i've quoted, this one doesn't really stand on its own, and i guess, that's part of why it ranks so high on my list. i may be biased towards the fantasy genre, and even moreso when it comes to movies based on (awesome) books, but when a whole lot of people agree with me on this one, you've got to admit: the lord of the rings is really a legendary movie (series). it does help, that i've read the book a billion times, and i cannot begin to stress just how much it had impacted my life back in highschool, however, this is about the movie and not the book. so i'll try to be slightly less biased.

you've got your classic outline here: good versus evil. underdogs vs. omnipotent bit*h-ass overlords. hope triumphs against overwhelmingly suppressive odds. all that jazz. then you've got your flavour fantasy characters - elves, orcs, hobbits (or halflings for the more general), you name it. add in a splash of amazing cgi. a muse-worthy music score. competent dialogue. and good looks for safe measure. what part of this formula doesn't equate pure win?

now, there will always be the haters - a significant amount of people i know actually dislike the movie (series). most of them never read the book, and it begs the question - has the book biased my view that much? or is it that haters will be haters? i think it's the latter, to be honest. if you can find people in the world who hate tolkien (and his legacy, which is pretty much most of the mainstream fantasy you'll find around), then there's no reason to believe that this is anything more than that. the only reason i mention this, though is the following: if you're a fan, then more power to you. if you aren't, than that's your choice - don't go messing it for people who are (like myself, obviously!).

1. (more drumroll)... amagad, to be announced in the next post. who will be number one? which movie is better than all the awesome ones i've already listed? will it be something predictable? another dark horse, maybe? THE SUSPENSE. it's killing me. i hope it doesn't kill you before the relevant entry!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

et cinema

jack, the cake-baker, boromir and myself have a running 'list of best ... movies' which encompasses various categories. every day, 'studying' at the common room we'll have a time-out and re-visit the list, usually with a new category. actually, now that i think about it, the nearer we encroached upon the exams, the more it became like list-comparison in the common room with time-outs to study. but that's beside the point. what's important is, we had some pretty awesome discourse about movies, and it's always interesting to see what top 5 movies we each had for any given category. so far, we've only had one movie as a consensus in our top 5 movies (consensus here defined as a movie which all of us picked in the top 5), and that's lord of the rings: the two towers for the fantasy category.

anyhow, since the semester has come to an end, and jack is leaving (possibly cake-baker and boromir, too, pending their research placements), i thought this would be an apt time to list the top 10 movies of all time (time... time... time...) from my personal list. unlike the post on music i made some time ago, this list actually had some thought input and isn't spontaneous, spanning weeks of research (lies) and multiple re-modeling of the list (more lies). last night, at jack's farewell party, we sat down and compared our lists, and, sadly, i don't think there was any consensus :/

the rules are simple: you can only list a movie that you've personally watched (hence why some of you might go wtf, why isn't xyz movie in the list. full of fail) and the list is a personal one, so nobody can contend your list. you might want to give it some thought and list yours, just for comparison.

without further ado, the winners are (drumroll):

10. star wars: the empire strikes back
awesome movie, i remember being a kid and watching this on tape multiple times. just rewinding and watching the millennium falcon zipping through the asteroid field in what-was-then state-of-the-art technology. shit just blows your mind. and, btw, just like any true star wars fan, episodes IV, V and VI are the only real episodes. episodes I, II and III are so full of aids and fail, it makes me a sad panda. that and jar-jar binks. i want to rip my ears out every time i hear 'me-sa retarded toad with failed comic value'.

9. jurassic park
this is one of the many steven spielberg movies that defined my childhood. it made t-rex incredibly awesome and velociraptors cunningly scary. i used to pretend that i was a raptor, for months and it goes without saying, i watched, re-watched and re-re-watched the video, which i'm pretty sure is somewhere back home, waiting for me to go find again. that, and the books were good, too. michael crichton, you da man.

8. saving private ryan
steven spielberg + tom hanks = pure win. simple formula. you'll see it again and again. in and on their own, they're already respectively a great director and actor, but when they come together, there's just some magic in the air. and this wouldn't refer to harry potter magic, either. but, about the movie. it's compelling, it's dramatic, it's heartfelt. and shit gets blown up. awww yeah. watch it. it's long but it's totally worth it (that's what she said).

7. v for vendetta
v is one of the most interesting antithetical heroes i've ever seen on screen. a cultured man with appreciation for the arts, philosophy and politics; a kick-ass western-esque ninja (dude, he effin stabs people. in the face); the epitome of forsaken heroes; a selfless mask for the people's unheard voice. v is all of these, and more. but, the movie isn't just about v. natalie portman isn't stellar, but does a well enough job as the enlightened heroine, evey, and stephen rea fits the narrator-third person observer role very effectively, as inspector finch. but what really takes the cake with vendetta is the multitude of philosophical, real-life, arts and thought-provoking events throughout the film, intertwined into a superfluous, linear storyline. watch it for the second time with your thinking caps on and be amazed.

on a side note, hugo weaving plays the role of v (although you never see his face, his voice is a dead giveaway). think of it, agent smith is elrond is megatron is v. how bat-shit awesome is that?

6. donnie darko
literally the dark horse in my list, nobody really saw this coming. i don't think many people even watched the film, to be honest, but if you have, you may agree. if you haven't it's totally worth the watch - screwed with my head for quite some time. as much as i want to elaborate on the film, i think, i won't, so as not to spoil the movie for those who haven't watched and intend to. i highly recommend it (duh). just like how 'a beautiful mind' gives us some insight to autistic schizophrenia, donnie darko has a very interesting take on the darker side of paranoid schizophrenia. it's pretty much open to personal interpretation (as stated by the director), but one thing i found common to most understandings of the film, is the parallel universe / time travel skew on what appears to be a linear film. watch it. frank commands it so.

list will continue in another post, seeing as this is getting out of hand. yeah, still need practice with the 'being concise' thing.

Friday, 13 November 2009

you scream, i scream OMG ICE CREAM

before my nerd mood expires (summer holidays, aw yeah boi), here's the 2009 nobel prizes in a nutshell:

nothing particularly mind-blowing here. ever done cell biology 101? then you might remember ribosomes. basically every cell in your body makes rna, and ribosomes translate rna into proteins. it's not as interesting, exciting and shiny as jellyfish science, but it's probably one of the more applicable discoveries in recent decades.

got a sore throat? taking antibiotics for it? half the time those antibiotics are designed to attack bacterial ribosomes, but not yours. see. science works. like magic. in your face, harry potter.

physiology and medicine

now, this is interesting stuff. you never really think about it, but every time your cells divide, it loses a bit of its dna. just like how i lose a bit of my soul every time i watch a harry potter movie. really, sometimes the pain is physical. but then, emma watson appears and makes it all better. i digress.

so, without going into the intricacies of how cells divide, let's just take for granted that your chromosomes (the bits of dna in your cells) have to copy themselves each time your cells divide. if every time they divided, they lost a bit at their ends, that effectively gives a form of mortality to the dna, right? you could divide only so many times before you ran out of dna. well, it's kind of like that - at the ends of each chromosome, you have these dna fragments which don't really code for anything (remember that dna is a template for loads of things, from proteins to regulatory cues to trna... yeah let's not go there). but you can't really keep cutting off the ends and losing information...

so you have these telomeres, which are non-coding dna repeats, that your cell can afford to lose each time it divides. still, that just means you've got a head start for division, but these telomeres are gonna run out at some point, right? yes and no. most cells in your body do have this limitation, about 50 divisions and it's done. throw in the towel. long kiss goodnight. wipe yourself off, you dead.

but some special cells have the enzyme telomerase, which just makes new telomeres. pretty neat, huh. well, i hope i didn't bore anyone too much. here, have a picture of emma watson. or daniel radcliffe, if you prefer.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

to ease the pain

when people ask me questions after an exam, i'm a bit lost for feelings - on one hand i am adamant about sharing any scrap of knowledge one might have, even if it seemingly insignificant; on the other hand, the exam's done and over with so i don't really want to dwell on it, and would rather move forward to the upcoming one. and so, when my friend asked me a question today, and i can't even remember the question (which makes me think that i may have overlooked it, and not answered) i, with mixed feelings, had to discuss it.

be that as it may, misgivings and all, i have to say, the stress and jilting of exams is something i actually enjoy. now, before you yell 'freak!' and proceed to throw proverbial stones, hear me out.

i dislike these things just as much as the next person. having your future in the balance of (what sometimes is not even in) your control is not a pleasant feeling. and this is much accentuated when you're pitted against your peers - the same people whom you joke with, the same people whom you chill out with, the same people whom you bitch about with.

now put that sentiment aside, and think about what happens in the absence of these external stressors. for some, it's the bliss of ignorance, for others it's the numbness of the mundane, and for others still it's the excitement of freedom and adventure. whatever floats your boat. for me, it's the bipolar swings between euthymia and chronic depression. and i say this not because it's cool to be emo, and definitely not because sympathy feeds my ego, but because i know for a damn-well fact: a week from finishing that final paper, i'll be plunged into that corner of self-doubts and existential crises i reserve at the side of my mind, the uncertainty of future events having a heisenberg nature to it, speed and momentum being replaced by happiness and wealth (at least for the moment).

anyway, the point i was trying to make is that, sometimes i need the little things to preoccupy myself with, so that the bigger picture doesn't bog me down into a rut all the time. true in itself, mayhap this applies to you, too? if not, i envy your ability to either look past the bigger picture, or tunnel-vision on the smaller things in life. either way, whatever numbs the suffering - much like how emos /wrists i guess, except in a mentally masochistic way.

until i can attain such enlightenment, though, keep asking me those exam questions, such that i may forever be blissfully ignorant. if only.

p/s: i may joke about it, but /wrists is srs bznz. a moment's silence for those who actually physically hurt themselves:

because the pain is the only thing that makes me feel alive

Friday, 6 November 2009

salam pemergian, kepada saudara

i know i said i wouldn't blog 'til after exams, but a good friend of mine is finishing our course, and i would like to pay a small tribute of respect to him. as you might notice, the title of this entry is in malay, and writing in malay is something i haven't done in... ages. so, forgive the bad vocabulary, and worse grammar. i wasn't planning on posting this, but since jack was pretty appreciative of it, i guess it's a well setup as a tribute. and if you don't like it, then, tough - jack did.

in the common room where i recently frequent, in feeble attempts to 'study', we have a small ongoing competition to gain the temporary title of 'common room chess champion'. the rules are simple: if you can defeat the current champion twice in a row on the same day, you become the new champion. (i guess i'd rephrase to 'the rule is simple').

anyway, my friend, jack (sparrow) is an ardent player, and he and two others are the regular contenders for said title. recently he had been pushing to defeat the then-current champion, leng lui (which means pretty lady in mandarin, i think. the story behind this pseudonym becomes apparent, once you read to the end of this entry). the following tribute stems from jack's success in claiming the championship, just about a week before his departure back to malaysia. again, apologies for the lacklustre malay:

jejaka gasah melangkah samudera,
mencari dewasa, merentas marcapada;
sebelum pulangkan ke bumi pertiwi,
sempat sejenak tarungan dilewati.
si gadis ayu lagikan bertakhta,
sudah terkalahkan seribu binasa,
dengan menangnya, jejaka raungkan:
'sekali lagi, demi perjalanan!'

- for jack; one more for the road -

a few things to put the poem in context: jack's catchphrase is 'one for the road'. again, there's some non-sensical and slang words in the poem, so don't hate on that. here's a feeble attempt to transcribe the poem in english, if you prefer. crossing the language barrier while trying to preserve the rhyme scheme is really hard ><:

a rugged man travels an ocean, briny,
seeking adulthood, transversing the contemporary;
a moment's breath before the homecoming life
warrants opportune for a blitzkrieg strife.
resplendent, a beauty sits atop her throne,
defeat, a thousand destructions are driven home;
and come victory, the man explodes:
'one more for the road!'

- for jack -

may your return home be smooth, and may your future be bright.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

my eyes are screaming

i was going to make another 'omg my dreams are freaky' entry today. but for the life of me, i can't remember the dream, now that it's been a few hours since i've woken up. instead, you get to hear me comment on the poll i've had up for the past week or so.

i'm honestly surprised with the results - a lot of the girls i know complain about the same thing every so often: why are guys all about getting laid? what's happened to chivalry and romance? where have all the cowboys gone? why is the juice sweeter when the berry is darker?

let it be known, henceforth, that girls (at least the modern-age girl, as they so like to be called) are just as much about lust as the guys are. for the guys out there, be sure to bookmark this page and every time your wife / girlfriend / social partner / etc. asks 'what happened to romance?' you can direct them here (don't mention the small sample size).

as with most people nearing exams, i've decided to postpone blogging 'til i'm done with that. yes, i've said this a hundred times, so once more won't hurt. i'd like to discuss the poll further, because when put into context of what i've chatted with some voters, there's some pretty interesting opinions and preferences. but i think i'll settle with reiterating that lust has won by a fair distance, and for those who voted so, we have the corollary that you guys are perverts, and since everyone else is the same, it makes being a pervert less unethical.

for the record, i would go for greed. because money buys happiness. including lust. go greed!