Saturday, December 13, 2008

Green Fingers

I got myself 3 lovely plants, at bargain prices too, at the Penang Botanical Gardens Floral Festival 2 weeks ago.

The pride of my collection is the begonia (RM10). It has red and green leaves, and with a silvery sheen on the surface of the leaves, it looks as if some really fine silver confetti has been sprayed on them. Although I'm pretty sure the silver part is real, I'm not too sure about the reddish leaves. I think they may have put some red dye in the soil or water when it was growing. Still, it's such a lovely combination, I can't resist getting it ....

Asking the stallkeeper about a low maintenance plant with flowers, he pointed immediately to a purple plant and recommended the lavender. Huh ? Lavender ? Doesn't that grow in mild season countries only ? He was too busy to entertain me, so I just accepted his recommendation. After all, it only costs RM8, and the lavender looks nice, although I keep expecting all the flowers to drop off before I can get it back home !

The first thing I do when I reach home is to sniff and sniff at the lavender :) Not a whiff of lavender smell at all :( Still unconvinced, I just have to find out if this is really lavender. Took me quite a bit of online research, but I finally found the name : Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'. Apparently, it is a sucessful hybrid plant that is becoming a hit around the world. Hhmmm .... how can it be called a success when they left out the important lavender smell ?

Feeling Christmassy at this time of the year, the fern(RM5) is a must-have. The stallkeeper mentioned Taiwan species , so I guess it is a Taiwanese fern.

Glad to say, all 3 plants are still surviving after 2 weeks , but the lavender does look fragile and a little droopy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

On Film Musicals

Having just watched Mamma Mia , set me on thinking why some musical works for me and others not.

The classics would be oldies like My Fair Lady,The Sound Of Music and Oliver but my favourite is Hello Dolly for it has a nice balance of singing and dancing. In fact , I used to think that dancing waiters and ladies with parasols defines a musical.

More contemporary musicals would be Moulin Rouge, Perhaps Love and The Phantom Of The Opera , which works for me simply because I love the songs. These films use the 'play within a play' concept, where make-believe and reality is somewhat blurred, so seeing characters burst into songs anytime works too.

And the latest craze is The High School Musicals which I really enjoyed. I think it is brilliant to incorporate ideas from both the classics and the contemporaries, as it has great singing and dancing set in a high school theatre, and is given a fresh feel by adding in some MTV-style hip hop flavour to it.

Sad to say, although I really like ABBA's catchy tunes, I did not really enjoy Mamma Mia. Having established stars like Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth sing and dance is just a little painful on the ears and eyes. And I can't help thinking that I am watching a Bollywood, Greek style musical here. The only part I like is the fresh faced Sophie and her nice singing. A great bore, Mamma Mia should have been just left on stage !

One last thought, with globalisation in the entertainment world, it is only be a matter of time before Bollywood invades into Hollywood. Not that I'm against this , in fact, I think it would be great if the combined talents can produce good entertainment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


At last , I have read the finale of the famous series. I'm so happy to reach the end, if only to find a closure to this much over-rated series. To celebrate my completion of the series, here is a recap of what I think of each book.

Book 1 - The Sorcerer's Stone
Short and enjoyable, I think of it as a boarding school story (ala Enid Blyton's Mallory Towers) with a magical twist to it.
Book 2 - The Chamber Of Secrets
A little more elaborate than the 1st one. Still ok as a simple children's story. I really enjoyed her inventive ideas on Muggles, Squib, Quidditch etc.
Book 3 - The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Here is where JK Rowling starts getting more creative, and more long winded. Very enjoyable , and the climax of the story regarding time manipulation is a nice touch.
Book 4 - The Goblet Of Fire
The best book of the series , here is where things really gets exciting. A highly inventive Quidditch World Cup starts off the story, an exciting Triwizard tournament and it ended with the resurrection of Lord Voldemort. With both the good and evil side gearing up for the ultimate battle, I just cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.
Book 5 - The Order Of The Phoenix
How I wish the series will just end with Book 5 . Instead I have to suffer 3 more books before I get the ultimate battle promised in Book 4. Back to Book 5, this one is a real yawn , lots of teenage angst and romance, and what the heck is The Order of the Phoenix , again ? Yawwnnn ...
Book 6 - The Half Blood Prince
More problems for the teenagers, more underground rebellion for the adults . And oh yeah , for this book, I know what the title means ... the Half Blood Prince refers to Snape, but why is he half blood ?? Don't remember , and don't care to remember ....
Book 7 - The Deathly Hallows
More red herrings thrown our way ... the Deathly Hallows ? I find that I don't even care to know what the Deathly Hallows are, just gimme the ending fast !

And it finally did end .... a little sad to say goodbye to the Boy Who Lived with us for like 10 years. And we know that he did get married and have kids and probably lived happily ever after. Kids ?? Yikes ??!! Can there be a Harry Potter The Next Generation ?

Much Ado About Something

Far from being a trivial pursuit, job hunting is one of the most STRESSFUL experience for me so far. Let's see, this pursuit has bugged me for 5 months ....

Step 1 - Preparing a perfect resume
You can't say you are looking for a job until you have done this essential step. Being quite a perfectionist, it took me 2 weeks the craft the resume to my satisfaction.

Step 2 - Looking for the perfect job
Haha, there is no such thing as the perfect job, and good jobs don't come falling from the sky. It took me like 2 months before I found a satisfactory one in a satisfactory company. Other than combing jobstreet and newspaper, networking aka asking frens helps too. I know I am being quite picky, but I can't imagine being stuck in a new job that is worse than my old one. You know, the fear of jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Step 3 - The dreadful interviews
Time to brush up on those long forgotten technical stuffs and basically, practice and practice on how to sell yourself during interviews. Having 3 interviews within the span of 1 month is truly stressful. After each interview, there will be a suspenseful wait for THE phone call, only to be told, congrats, you passed this one and there will be a next one coming, and so the whole crazy cycle repeats.

Step 4 - The haggling
I expected to be over the clouds at being offered the job, only to be send down by yet another 'not so nice' experience - negotiation over salary. I honestly do not care too much on $$ but I do have my pride and do not like being short changed in any way.

Step 5 - The resigning
The final step - handing over my resignation is also a very hard thing for me to do. As much as I look forward to a new job, I do hate leaving behind my frens and colleagues. Is there something wrong with the human minds, that we tend to remember only the joy and the laughter , and forget the pain and the tears ?

I do so envy those that sails through many jobs effortlessly. For me, this is one experience I do not wish to repeat, at least not within the next few years.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fantasy Books to Movie Adaptation: Love Them, Hate Them

Would I say I love or hate the way many classic fantasy books have been adapted to movies ? Well, I cannot say that I truly hate them, for I am always excited whenever Hollywood announce such projects. I do not really love them too (except maybe for the Peter Jackson's LOTR) , for what we usually get are dumbed down, Hollywoodised fantasy turned into action movies.

Reading any book , especially fantasy genre , requires a huge dose of imagination. I would say my imaginations usually exists in 2 dimensions, rather like figures in a comic book. In a movie, to see my imaginations take shape in 3D, in full colours, in impossibly beautiful scenery settings is wonderful, but at the same time sad. For these beautiful scenes will overwrite my initial visions. The feeling is just not the same anymore, and even if I reread the books, I find it hard to recapture the initial feelings. And then, I realise these new visions does not even belong to me , but to the directors' , and shared by millions of viewers.

In the end, there is only hope. Hope that the producers and directors do their best to keep true to the story. It is a good chance book lovers to share with movie lovers in the wonderful stories, and along the way, also bring new fans that will read the books because of the movie.

Prince Caspian: The Chronicles Of Narnia

I approached this movie with trepidations, wondering if this movie will rise above the "really a kid's movie" I bestowed on it's predecessor , The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Well, glad to say that it was better than the 1st movie, it deserve to be described as "an above average teenage movie" (well, the kids have obviously grown up here now, so it cannot be a kid's movie anymore , rite ?).

The four main leads have much improved, unlike the 1st movie where they hardly make any impressions at all. Maybe that was the problem with the 1st movie, it feels ridiculous for four kids to be proclaimed Kings and Queens of Narnia. Now that they are older and more mature , it was somehow more acceptable. I do look forward to the next installment now, if only to see how Edmund and Lucy will blossom in their characters.

However , the newcomer as Prince Caspian does not make much an impression on me , other than being quite cute and having a soulful gaze. But luckily the much touted additional romance element between Caspian and Susan was not too bad. Except for a not so subtle first look at each other (roll eyes ...) and the compulsory "hero save the damsel"(roll eyes again!) moment, it was very barely there. And I actually think that the impulsive kiss by Susan at the end of the movie was kinda sweet.

Another major gripe is the many silly jokes inserted to lighten up the movie, which I feel is totally unneccessary. I mean, this story was set in 1940s England, an era where people do NOT make smart retorts or silly remarks . I would not mind a few jokes, but there were way too many that I keep rolling my eyes whenever yet another character make yet another cute quip ! Most jokes were so typical "American sitcom-like", I could almost hear the prerecorded laughter.

As usual there were many big battles and special effects thrown around the movie. Most were reminiscent of The Lord Of The Rings, but then which fantasy movie does not? So I shall keep my peace on this point here.

All in all, much better than the 1st movie, much better than I expected, and I can now safely look forward to the 3rd one.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Iron Man

Usually I do not like superheroes movies unless they are really good , and Iron Man is one of the more enjoyable one. Okay, the main reason I gave this movie a chance is Robert Downey Jr.

He is a critically acclaimed actor who unfortunately often made headlines for the wrong reasons. I have always liked him since his early films like "Chaplin" and am glad he cleaned up his act and made good this comeback movie.

I had some misgiving at first about Gwyneth Paltrow providing the eye-candy in this movie. Well , eye-candy she definitely is not, for she had quite a washed-out look throughout the whole movie , but that is in line with her character as the harrased , unappreciated assistant to Tony Stark aka Iron Man. She is the perfect foil to the irrespressible Robert Downey Jr. I only wish she didn't have such a silly name - Pepper Potts !

As for the bad guy, you can spot him one mile off. No surprises here from a typical villain, well, at least he didn't do the evil laugh routine , which really turns me off superheroes movies. As for superheroes moments , I would say there are very few here . No saving a busload of innocent schoolkids or catching a falling damsel in distress ala Superman - good !

All in all, quite a fun and enjoyable movie.