Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Everyday is Nyk-day

On Wednesday
Me: When are we back going back to grandma's house, Friday or Saturday?
Mom: Not sure yet. Why? What plans you have that you can't wait?
Me: Just want to meet up with a friend.
Mom: Who? Nyk?
Me: Yeah.

On Thursday
Mom: Who are you going out with?
Me: Nyk.

On Friday, at Midvalley
Mom: Who are you meeting for dinner later?
Me: Nyk. He's coming here to Midvalley after work.

On Saturday
Mom: Who are you going yam cha with?
Me: Nyk.

Mom: You and him very close ar? You talk on the phone with him so much and you still want to meet him.
Me: *smiles*

Hope you get well soon, my dearest Nyk *hugs*

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Gay rights protected in Nepal

It's amazing that a small country which is deemed backward economically is able to come to such an important and significant decision, whereas another small country nearby does not.

It is indeed a great Christmas gift to Nepalese (not that they celebrate Christmas anyway). It is something we should all be proud of as at least somewhere, some place progress is being made.

Taken from here

Nepal Supreme Court orders govt to guarantee gay rights
KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's Supreme Court Friday ordered the government to enact laws to guarantee the rights of gays and lesbians, who have long complained of discrimination in the highly conservative Himalayan nation.

"The government of Nepal should formulate new laws and amend existing laws in order to safeguard the rights of these people," the judges said in their ruling.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex are natural persons irrespective of their masculine and feminine gender and they have the right to exercise their rights and live an independent life in society," the judges said in the ruling, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

The court also ordered the government to form a committee to study existing laws and provisions of foreign countries on same-sex marriage and prepare laws to give it legal recognition in Nepal.

Rights activists hailed the ruling as a landmark decision.

"It's a very encouraging and progressive decision. We all feel we are liberated today," Sunil Babu Pant, president of the Blue Diamond Society which works on behalf of sexual minorities in Nepal, told AFP.

The society along with three other groups had filed a joint petition at the Supreme Court seeking legal status and rights for sexual minorities in April 2007.

"There were no specific laws to protect the rights of sexual minorities but the Supreme Court's decision has opened the doors to enjoy our rights," said Pant.

There are no official figures on sexual minorities but rights group estimate that homosexuals and transgender people account for nearly 10 percent of Nepal's 27 million population.

Although homosexuality is not listed as a crime under Nepali law, "unnatural sex acts" can be punished by up to a year in prison.

"Now it's the government's responsibility to make new laws to guarantee our rights and we will put pressure on the government to act on the decision," Pant said.

His organisation was founded in 2001 to address the needs of sexual minorities, and has received financial support from singer Elton John and other celebrities.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Will the real metrosexual please stand up?

One of colleagues from another department, J, was going to Taiwan and I asked a favour from her, which is to buy a bottle of toner for me.

Not that it is a very special toner, it's from Neutrogena but just that I haven't seen that range in Singapore.

Colleague J: One bottle is enough? You don't want to stock up?
Me: I think one bottle should be enough. Can last me about six months.
Colleague J: So long? I usually finish one bottle in three months.
Me: You sure? Maybe your bottle is smaller?

Anyway, me being a little kiasu, I asked my own department's colleagues.

Me: So how long does your bottle of toner? More than three months?
Colleague K: Real men don't use toner.
Me: *rolls eyes*
Intern L: Huh? My boyfriend thinks the same. He doesn't use toner either.
Me: Let me guess. If he doesn't use toner, I suppose me he still uses soap?
Intern L: Yeah, he does. And I always tell him it's too dry on the face.
Me: It is! (my voice was a little high pitch with exasperation!)

In case it isn't obvious, K is a guy and L is a girl.

So it got me wondering, where are all the metrosexuals that are mentioned in the media? Are they just a myth?

Are they really just gay guys whom straight colleagues think are fabulous and beauty conscious?

Clearly they don't exist in my company, or at least in my department.

Needless to say, I am the designated "metrosexual" since I go to facials.

For my department's gift exchange / secret santa, I was asked what do I prefer. Nothing specific of course, but I was thinking about things like books, shirts, etc.

Instead, I asked what do they think I would want.

ALL of them said they would get me some beauty products like facial wash or something from Body shop.

And I did end up with something from Body Shop.

A very Merry Christmas to you, dear reader! *hugs*

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Doing it again

I can now understand why people would do things again, like rereading a book or watching a movie again.

I am not one to do such a thing, unless I find the movie or book to be extremely good or very moving, which is rare. I mean, what's the point of going through it again as the ending or conclusion is already known?

I suppose it's the journey and not the destination that matters.

I have reread one of the Harry Potter books though, but that was because I have forgotten some parts of the plot and what has transpired earlier.

Anyway, on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to watch the Golden Compass again, this time courtesy of my company's generosity as we were treated to Gold Class seats.

I thought I would have fallen asleep on those comfy reclining chairs with blankets provided, but no, I was quite enraptured with the movie.

Watching it again, I was able to observe some small details which I missed and to take in the story more acutely. It seemed as though I was watching it for the very first time.

And I must admit, it was pretty good and the story was quite cohesive though still a little rushed from one scene to another. My earlier opinion that those who didn't read the book wouldn't completely grasp the story, in retrospect, seem hasty.

Though from the lackluster box office receipts in the U.S., it does appear that a second movie is unlikely and to find out what happens one would have to read the books.

About books, I was reading one of the books which I bought earlier, which was SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century. It is a compilation of real-life stories of Singaporeans who shared part of their life stories. As I was reading it, it still stirred some emotions, which caught me by surprise a little.

I am always keen on trying out new things, reading new books, catching the latest movies but now I realised that perhaps revisiting the familiar is not so bad after all, as it could be a whole new experience again.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Golden Disappointment

Sigh, the movie was disappointing.

Goes to show one should never judge a movie by its trailer.

Those who have not read the book would be utterly confused, unless he can follow the whole proceedings of the movie attentively and put them all together in nanoseconds.

The story just zips through from one scene to another. Even though I know it is impossible to squeeze a 400 page book into a 2 hour movie or a 3 month long journey into 5 minutes, but moving through the whole motions at such a breakneck speed doesn't do the story any justice.

There were a few things which was changed from the book. Not too drastic a change but I can understand where the producers were coming from to make the movie more manageable and a few less things to explain.

I totally agree with Janvier about the whole daemon-human connection thing being lost in the movie. The scene where Billy Costa (in the book it was a different) was found after the intercision had no impact at all, as his parents and the gyptians didn't even blink an eye for his missing daemon.

If one were to read the reviews from IMDB, it would seem that those who haven't read the book found the movie to be good. Those who had read the book would inevitably say that the book is better, which is true. Movies very seldom can live up to the books, not even the famous boy wizard.

I strongly suggest that viewers go buy the book after watching movie. Or better yet, pay a little more and just buy the book and forget about the movie.

Overall, I would rate the movie 6 out of 10.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Kingdom

I watched The Kingdom on Monday and I came out with a headache.

Not that the storyline was very complicated that I had hard time understanding it, but because of the jerky and panning camerawork ala The Blair Witch Project.

I had dinner before that and somehow it made me feel worse. My full stomach coupled by the "gritty" feel intended by the director made me feel nauseous during the second half of the movie.

The plot, taken from IMDB:
Americans living and working in a secure American compound in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are out enjoying themselves playing baseball when suddenly terrorists breach the compound and begin shooting everybody in sight. The terrorists succeed in their mission, killing hundreds of Americans, including men, women, children, and an FBI special agent. A team of FBI counter-terrorism agents (led by Jamie Foxx) want to go to Saudi Arabia and investigate the attack, but the U.S. State Department says no, but with a little pressure, they end up going anyway. Once in Saudi Arabia they find themselves isolated and unable to investigate the crime scene by orders from Saudi officials. The governmental bureaucracy and cultural differences cause conflict between both of them. The Saudi troops know that the FBI agents are targets of the terrorists, and they dont want another disaster on their hands. However, when the American agents become friends with a Saudi police officer, they begin to work together to bring the terrorists to justice.

It was quite a good movie, fast paced, with a lot of shooting and explosions. It is also very relevant post September 11. This is the second movie shown here in Singapore about current affairs of the world as a result of terrorism. The first movie was Rendition.

I would have definitely enjoyed it more if not for the camerawork. The same reason I don't enjoy First Person Shooter games and avoid them like the plague. I prefer to be looking down at my character rather then from them.

Oooh, it's already Sunday and The Golden Compass beckons.

My company might have a movie outing to watch Golden Compass after our annual Christmas dinner and I surely don't mind watching again.

And judging from the reviews thus far, I think I am right!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eagerly awaiting for ...

This is one movie which I can't wait to watch. Talking polar bears, flying witches, daemons, what's not to like? I have seen the trailer months ago and it piqued my interest to go read the book from which it is based on by Philip Pullman. Before that, I haven't even heard about it before.

And I did buy the books. The whole Dark Materials trilogy - The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass and I am half way reading the third one.

Last month, a slightly longer trailer was out and it made me even more eager to watch it.

I am so eager to watch it that I have already bought the tickets! I can't wait for 8th December to come and watch it with my dear Nyk *beams*

P/S From the trailer, I think Daniel Craig is quite miscast as Lord Asriel.

P/P/S Asriel is an anagram of Israel which means there is religious undertones. That explains why this and this happened.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reading between the lines

Nyk usually calls me using iTalk, but sometimes he runs out of credit and uses my Time Gold account (an IDD calling service). Like the time when I was in Taiwan last month, I remember there was one night when we spoke for about half an hour.

My mom would usually inform me every month of the Time Gold bill amount as I am the one paying for it. Usually the amount that my mom uses is about RM10, the rest would be Nyk’s.

However, last month’s bill was higher than usual because of the calls to Taiwan. I think Nyk’s portion was about RM40.

As expected, mom will make a fuss about my “friend” using so much. The same thing happened when I was with CF too. CF used to call me using the same service.

See, she isn’t unhappy about the fact that Nyk calls me and previously it was CF, as much as she is unhappy about the amount that was used.

She knows there is only one other person who calls me beside her and that is Nyk, since I have told her that before.

I might be reading too much into this, but is this an implicit acceptance of my sexuality and indirectly Nyk?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Taiwanese movie (NSFW)

Remember the Taipei LGBT film fest which I mentioned about in the previous post? I said it was:
a condensed version of an upcoming Taiwanese film, which the title I can't recall. It's basically about how a guy whose boyfriend was away, started to organise sex parties at their shared apartment. The film snippet ended with the boyfriend walking in amidst a sex party. It seemed interesting too, but I felt it was more titillating than an experiential film.

Guess what? I came across some information of the film in another blog and also the title of the movie which is Fragile in Love, directed by Chen Jun Zhi. He was actually there during the film fest and I have blurry shot of him.

Here's the link to the 12-minute trailer.

And below are some screenshots from the movie.

As I said, the impression I got was the movie is merely skin deep with not much meat. But might be wrong. Could someone please tell me more after viewing the trailer?

Ooh, and I just realised this is my first Not Safe For Work post haha

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Taiwan trip Pt 2

Some interesting things about Taiwan:

When buying things at Watsons or 7-11, plastic bags would not be provided. You have to pay NT20 for a bag, which is usually unnecessary unless you buy many big items. The reason? To save the environment and I'm all for it.

All the dustbins I saw comes in two, one for recycling and the other for normal garbage.

People actually queue orderly for the MRT, unlike here in Singapore.

The sales staff are really friendly and nice and will go out of the way to serve you. I could really feel the warmth and friendliness

I love their milk tea! I had at least three cups a day, bought from either 7-11 or the tea stalls which can be found almost everywhere! I love the Oolong Milk Tea, Red Milk Tea, Green Milk Tea, Jasmine Green Milk Tea and I so miss them so much! There's nothing like that here in Singapore! (Or if there is, please let me know where!)

Taiwanese boys, I feel are cuter and they give me this feeling of being more cultured, more courteous. They dress waaaaay better too!

Some memorable things which happened:

We attended a local LGBT film festival on the weekend. Films shown were Formula 17, Kinsey, Spider Lilies and Transamerica. We chose to watch the local one instead, as I was curious to see what the local independent gay films would be like.

The entrance to the LGBT film festival.

However, I didn't manage to stay long enough to watch. There were 2 short films before the main one and when the time came for the main item, I had to leave for dinner with my ex-manager.

The two short films I watched, I would say they were quite interesting and managed to grab my attention, though I didn't understand 90% of the dialogue. One was about this guy from Taichung, who is an insurance agent by day but an opera performer at night. He talks about his life with his boyfriend and his mom, whom he is out too. Quite a charming short film, and it helps that the main character was quite cute ;P

The second was a condensed version of an upcoming Taiwanese film, which the title I can't recall. It's basically about how a guy whose boyfriend was away, started to organise sex parties at their shared apartment. The film snippet ended with the boyfriend walking in amidst a sex party. It seemed interesting too, but I felt it was more titillating than an experiential film.

By the way, all the films including the 12-minute trailer shown on that day, were by the same director.

I also noticed quite a few lesbians and I don't mean just at the film festival. Lesbians don't usually fall within my area of err ... view (sorry to lesbians!). Anyway, I don't really notice them in Singapore as I suspect it is because they are less conspicuous. There was the time I was on the on the bus and there were only so many people I can look at and it was not too difficult to not notice. Not just the bus, I saw a number of lesbian couples on the streets too.

Of course, I think most of my readers aren't too bothered about lesbians, so I shall mention the few incidences of gay sightings. On our trips to the outskirts of Taipei, we had to take buses. Three guys boarded together and right away my gaydar was ringing. Two of them were quite cute. One of them was wearing his jeans so low that one third of his butt was showing. The unfortunate thing is that I couldn't join the previous two sentences with AND.

But at last, my Mandarin sucks big time. Need my dear to start speaking to me in Mandarin already, like QueerR and Apollo. Haha ...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Taiwan trip Pt 1

I apologize for the lack of updates for I have been away to Taiwan from 17th till the 24th. It was a very enjoyable occasion with 3 other friends, LP, EU and SM.

I didn't plan to go to Taiwan, but since the three of them were going and there was a promotional airfare, so I just bought the ticket. It cost only S$280.

My flight touched Taiwan soil at 5.40 p.m. and it was already very dark outside. I thought a heavy downpour was coming but it was not. Apparently, it is normal to be as dark as 8 p.m. over here when it is just 6 p.m. I find this quite unsettling as later that evening when I was out at the night market, it felt like 11 when it was only 9 p.m.

As we stepped out of the airport, the weather was just perfect at 23 degrees. It was just comfortable enough, not too cold. Just like Goldilock's.

We headed straight to the hotel to check in, which was located in the Ximending area. Our hotel is called Neijiang and I was told that it a popular choice for Singaporeans and gays. For what reason, I am not sure. The receptionist Selina is really hilarious though.

SM's friend, KT, was supposed to bring us to the famous night market called Shilin, which according to my friend who is working in Taipei, is too touristy and lack the local flavours and feel.

Taiwan is famous for their snack stalls. We tried the famous large fried chicken (which I didn't find that special, there was too much breaded crumbs than actual meat), hor jien / oyster in eggs (not recommended, as some starchy stuff is added to the eggs) and herbal pork ribs (similar to KL's, but less herbal taste, milder but still very nice).

The famous fried large chicken stall in Shilin Night Market.

A snapshot of the Shilin night market.

After that, we went to a 24-hour book store. Ninety-nine percent of the books are in Chinese, so that didn't leave me many choices to browse. The only thing that caught my eye was that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were sold at NT649, which is like S$30 / RM70. Of course I grabbed that along with a gay magazine, Genre. There were quite a few other gay magazines sold like Attitude and AXM and they were displayed just like any other magazines; they were not hidden at all.

Absolutely kawaii ATM machines and with little pigs in pink to boot! We saw this on the way to the 24 hr book store.

As we ventured out of the hotel to explore the surrounding area the next day, we realised that we were staying very near to a row of gay bars and pubs. And you ask how do I know that?
With names such as G-Paradise, G-Bar, Q's Place, Bears Beer, one did not need to be a genius to know. I was thinking, just say the word gay already!

Speaking of which, Taiwan has a 24-hour straight porn channel, which was one on of the channels in the hotel room's TV. It was pretty tame though, no explicit images of pussy, just breasts and more breasts, a lot of humping and moaning, that's all. Slightly above soft core, I would say.

But could you guess what's this channel called? Irony of ironies, it is called the Rainbow Channel. Yeah, go figure.

The nearby gay area, called the Red Theatre Plaza. The row of bars and pubs are just behind this building/

The plan for the day was to visit the tallest building on Earth, the Taipei 101. The cost of the ticket is a bit expensive, at NT350 (S$16) just to go to the observatory on the 88th floor. But riding on the world's fastest elevator was amazing; we reached the 88th floor in about 40 seconds! It was really fast and quiet.

The structure of the Taipei 101 building on the ground floor.

A view from the observatory on the 88th floor of Taipei 101.

In the evening, KT brought us to a hot spring. I am not sure where it was as he gave instructions to the taxi driver, but I think it was in the Beitou area. It was in a mountainous area and there were many restaurants cum hot springs establishments.

It was quite affordable though at NT200. It is cheap because the spa doesn't offer anything else, not even drinking water or towels. As such, we have to bring our own.

The hot spring is sex differentiated. There was a cold water pool, another with jacuzzi and there was a steam room. Of course the biggest pool was the hot spring. The temperature was 42 degrees. I couldn't stay in there for than 5 minutes straight, I had to get out and then go in again.

Also, at such a temperature which is higher than the body's, the water doesn't feel like it become less warmer, no matter how many times I went in or stay in the water. There were some tips for hot spring virgins, like not staying in there for more than 5 minutes the first time and getting out if one can't take the heat and drinking lots of water after that.

Something which I learnt is to bring a bigger towel (and no, it's not to cover one's modesty) but to dry up after that. There is no point in covering up because hey, all guys have the same tools!

KT told us earlier that a hot spring is just that; it's not a cruising area or a gay exclusive place.

Anyway, it was quite fun. My skin indeed felt smoother after that!

We headed back into town to club at this place called Funky. It might sound like a cool place but my first impression was that it looked a bit dingy from the outside. In addition, the club was at the basement, which gave a sense of the gay scene being "underground" and somewhat illegal.

On the inside, it was OK though. In fact it was quite huge and well-lit. I say well-lit because I can actually see the faces of the patrons quite clearly, unlike here in Singapore where I usually can't.

We were there less than 15 minutes when the all the lights were turned on. The police was paying us a visit, which was my first time. It was more like a charade as the whole police checking for IDs only lasted about 20 minutes.

I wasn't high enough to boogie, so I waited for the happy hour to start which was from half past midnight till half past one. One can buy one-for-one drink coupons which could be used for the rest of the night. And it was cheap, only NT150! SM bought 6 coupons, which meant 12 glasses!

I had two glasses and they were enough to get me high, as I drank them quite fast and my last meal was more than four hours ago. I managed to dance with a 19 year old Taiwanese, trying to make conversation with him with my terrible Mandarin. He left after he found out that 1) I was not a student and 2) I am from not from Taiwan.

Not long after, things took a downhill turn. SM and EU got really drunk. I hadn't realised it till I playfully slapped SM on the face softly and he actually fell backwards on the dance floor! When I pulled him back up, he asked me why had I pushed him, which obviously I did not and I told him so.

SM was drunk but did not admit it and insisted on staying instead of going back to the hotel. We had to placate him and waited for him to change his mind. He was being taken cared of by LP and KT but still, there were a couple more times he fell on the floor before they managed to get him to sit down quietly. I was given the task of keeping an eye on EU, who was slightly easier to handle though he has a habit of walking around on his own and not letting other people touch him.

Finally, SM agreed to leave and we reached the hotel at 4 a.m. and we went straight to bed.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Clueless straight men

On a Monday lunch, the week after the coming out by Mr Otto Fong.

Colleague: The article is no longer on his blog.
Me: Oh, but I read it.javascript:void(0)
Publish Post
Colleague: How come you read it so fast?
Me: I knew about if from one the forums I'm subscribed too.
Colleague: How come you know all these things? I knew it ... you're gay.
Me: Yes, I am. So?
Colleague: Hahaha....

Two Fridays ago, I was wearing this bright pink polo shirt with yellow stripes to office. Some of you have seen before as I wore it for the YKLS performance.

Colleague: Wah, your shirt very bright le! Didn't notice earlier under the jacket you're wearing.
Me: Yeah, wanna be outstanding ma. Nice or not?
Colleague: Too bright already for me. Dare not wear le. I only have a dull pink shirt. You are the metrosexual. Well done!
Me: *rolls eyes*

Sometimes, I don't know whether I should strangle them or be secretly amused by their silliness.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just for you

Three days ago was Nyk's birthday and he blogged about it. He shared his thoughts and feelings about how far he has come especially for the past year.

He told me how happy he was on his birthday this year, because now he has a special someone in his life. Someone who cares for him and someone for him to care for.

It is obvious that I am important to him and that I have brought about significant changes in his life ever since we become boyfriends.

Being his first, that puts a whole load of pressure on me. Heh.

I love Nyk. He's sweet and caring towards the people around him. Perhaps too much so, like those whom I think should not be treated as nice.

I can't stand jerks, unreasonable people and thickheads. And I will gladly tell you so or at least made it known to the other person in a not-so-subtle way.

In our relationship, I am deemed the naughty one, the bad one. I am not too sure what are the reasons but from what I could deduce, it is because I have been in the gay scene longer, I had boyfriends before Nyk which none has lasted more than a year and I am in Singapore where there are plenty of cute guys.

Being in a long distance relationship is challenging. I thought I would never be in another long distance relationship when I broke up with CF.

But I am.

Not that I am complaining. A good boyfriend is a good boyfriend and Nyk is a great catch.

Nyk is perceived as the good guy. And he is actually.

He has his hang-ups, but who doesn't right? I have my own idiosyncrasies which he has to put up with. Both of us have to give and take.

But I seemed to be having a harder time dealing with an aspect of him. I am trying to come to terms with it. Not that it's something bad or anything, but it is just something I find mind-boggling and unsettling.

I'm just starting out, but I look forward to the journey ahead, with KH holding my hand.

You have asked me that before and I have promised I will. I plan to keep that promise.

Let's wade through whatever difficulties that arises, snip away whatever thorny issues that prick and overcome whatever bumps on the road. Together.

Happy Birthday dear and I love you.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

5 x 5

I was tagged by David two weeks ago, so here goes:

5 Things in My Bag
1. Bottle of water
2. Umbrella
3. Map of Singapore (I'm directionally-challenged!)
4. Tea Tree Oil
5. Keys

5 Things in My Wallet
1. Cash
2. Credit Cards
3. I/C
4. Namecards
5. Receipts

5 Things I Like Most in My Room
1. Laptop
2. Videos in my laptop
3. Books
4. Food (those who have been to my room would understand ;p)
5. The bed

5 Things I'd Like To Try
1. Bungee Jumping
2. Travel to exotic places
3. Ride a bike
4. Switching with Nyk
5. Cook a decent meal

5 Things I'm Doing Now
1. Doing this meme
2. Ready for bed
3. Choose work clothes for tomorrow
4. Eating biscuits
5. Missing someone *wink*

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't be a bonsai

Something big which happened in Singapore, which I think is worth mentioning is the coming out of a secondary school teacher in a well known school, Raffles Institution. He posted his coming out on his blog on the Saturday evening two weeks ago. On Monday, he was asked by the Ministry of Education to remove it.

I think I speak for all when I say that what he did was very brave and it was the right thing to do.

In fact, many of his students and parents of the students supported his move and his desire to be true to himself so that he could contribute more meaningfully to society.

Even though the article has been removed, this is the internet age we are talking about and it can still be found here.

What one student said:
I adorn a man with my respect when he shows me courage, and Otto Fong deserves it. I have never had the privilege of being taught by him but I know he’s a great man, and it will earn him nothing but veneration in my eyes to, so aptly put, come out of the closet.

The world would have been a more beautiful place, beseiged by less lies and less deceit. If people were more comfortable with being themselves. Proud of themselves. Less pain and less ignorance. Less hate.

There are more positive responses than negatives, from the comments I read from this site.

Yet, in today's newspaper The Straits Times, a front page read "7 in 10 frown on homosexuality, NTU survey finds".

The above survey also measured how religious a person was and how far he or she conformed to social norms.

No surprises in the conclusion arrived at: "intrinsic religiosity" - viewing religion as the primary driving force of life - was the strongest predictor of anti-gay sentiment. So did those who conformed to social norms.

Anyway, back to Otto Fong, the teacher who came out. He said
"I, Otto Fong, have always been and always will be a gay man. When you ask about my spouse, I will say he is a man. I am as proud being gay as you are proud being straight. I am not, as some people like to label gays, a pedophile, a child molester, a pervert or sexual deviant. I did not choose to be gay, just like heterosexuals did not choose to be straight. I am not going to hell (not for being gay anyway).

I am not going back in the closet. When you ask me who I am, I will answer: I am a son, a brother, a long-time companion, an uncle, a teacher, a classmate, a colleague, a part of your community, a HDB dweller, a Singaporean. And I am also gay."

Strong words, and how very true.

"Do you know what a bonsai tree is? A bonsai tree is an imitation of a real tree. It is kept in a small pot with limited nutrients, trimmed constantly to fit someone else’s whim. It looks like a real tree, except it can’t do many things a real tree can. It cannot provide shelter, it cannot find food on its own; its life and death are totally reliant on its owner. It is the plant version of the 3-inch Chinese bound foot for women: useless and painful.

Being in the closet, pretending to be straight, trimming our true selves to suit the whims and expectations of others, is just like being a human bonsai tree. By staying in the closet, we cannot even hope to be average, much less above and beyond average.

I felt that in order to reach my fullest potential as a useful human being, I must first fully accept myself, and face the world honestly."

Bravo, Mr Fong. Your bravery will definitely leave a mark in the society of Singapore and students of your school. Your courage is an inspiration to those who are still struggling with their identities, especially the teenagers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In 200 words

I haven't fallen off the edge of the world.

Actually, I haven't had the mood to write even though I have quite a few things on which I would like to pen down since I came back from KL.

Perhaps I should do snippets of 200 words or so, instead of my usual long postings of at least 500 words.

Work wise, my manager is as frustratingly directionless as ever.

Over the past month, I was in the darkened cinema halls approximately 10 times - The Brave Story, Ratouille, The Bourne Supremacy, 1408, Dead Silence, Rogue Assassin, The Home Song Stories, Me ... Myself and The Invasion.

Of the above, the ones to avoid are Dead Silence, Rogue Assassin and The Invasion.

I was out clubbing yesterday and also last week. It was fun last week as it has been a while since I had done also. Yesterday felt a little tiresome, but still I had fun.

And I am going again next weekend. I am definitely not stepping foot into one for at least a month after that.

Things to look forward to:
1) Going back to KL end of the month to spend quality time with my boy and catch Ry perform.
2) My trip to Taiwan middle of next month.

Perhaps doing a snippet is the way to go from now on ;)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back at home

Just came back to KL last night, immediately after work.

As it happened, I have a friend from KL who is in Singapore at the moment. He asked me out for dinner, which obviously I couldn't go. This was the second time it happened. The stars are not in our favour, it seemed. Sorry about that, Ry!

Something good that happened yesterday was my one-week leave in October is approved! Yay! I applied for the leave a month ago, as I planned to go to Taiwan with some friends then. And no, Nyk is not coming along, even though I would really really love him to.

Initially, it didn't seem likely that the leave would get approved. My manager and I had a little tiff over it, as apparently I am that important in the office and my absence would cause the company to collapse ... not!

So yeah, I am mighty pleased that it has finally been approved.

Let's see. Movies wise, I managed to catch Jay Chou's directorial debut Secret. I would give credit where it is due, and Jay has managed to come up with a commendable performance and story of young love with a surprising twist in the end. Anthony Wong who played his father was excellent and who had most of the witty lines.

The girl who played his girlfriend was great as well. She managed to capture the complexities of her character who has to keep a secret from Jay. Overall, a saccharine sweet movie for the romantics and the young at heart. And I love it because of that, even though Nyk wasn't there to hold my hand during the movie.

The weekend is here again, so have a good one, my friends!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Indignation 2007

From 1st till 15th August, Singapore has its own version of Pride. Of course in this Asian and conservative society, there won't be a march or party like what we see abroad. It's not even called Pride either, but IndigNation, so-called because it's National Day is in August. The activities are more subdued, like exhibitions, talks, poetry, film, outdoor and social events.

For the full program, please click here.

However, some of the programs were cancelled because the authorities didn't allow them. The first program to kickstart the festival, which was supposed to be a photo exhibition showing same sex kissing, was axed because the authorities didn't approve the license.

Honestly, I don't see how that is a influence to society. I mean, people who would go see the exhibition would definitely be either from the gay community or people who appreciate art, whom I assumed are open minded and be there for art's sake.

It's like preaching to the converted. It's not like the organisers are forcing those prudes and Christian fundamentalist people who don't want to see it, to see it. So why the hoohah?

Last year, the authorities banned an exhibition showing people sitting on the loo, shitting. The pictures mostly show from above the waist, nothing explicit. The point they were trying to say was that everyone does it, a cop, mother, student, lecturer, politicians, etc. They were in police uniform, school uniform, etc which showed who they were.

The point was to demonstrate that we're all the same, that we are all fundamentally human. The reason given for the exhibition being banned, if I remember correctly, was that some of the pictures shown were insulting to the police and students, as the latter was underage.

Erm ... does that mean they don't go to the loo? How is something insulting when it is something everybody does? Obviously it was a lame excuse to stop the exhibition.

As everyone knows, the moment you ban something, everyone knows. The best publicity is when is something is banned. Recall all those banned movies in Malaysia. The effect was that curiosity was piqued in the public and hence, everybody wants to watch said banned movie.

Anyway, this year's Indignation was held together with Adlus's 8th anniversary celebration. Adlus is a GBLT sports-oriented group.

One of the programs planned is the Pink Run this Saturday, where a group of people run in the Botanic Gardens dressed in pink. After the run, there is to be a picnic. Participation is opened to all.

Botanic Gardens is a public park where anybody can stroll, jog and picnic. I was there earlier this year for a morning jog.

Even this two harmless activities have been banned. I know, WTF right?

The run needed an application to be made to the park authorities. They didn't approve. Thus we can deduce that wearing pink while running alone or two is OK, but as a group of 20 people is not?

Someone pointed out that, the Singapore flag is red and white. If you mix the two together, what do you get?

Now, surely a picnic in a public park doesn't require a permission, right? So none was made. Even so, a letter from National Parks Board (NPB) was sent to Mr Alex Au (who they assumed is the organiser for the picnic), stating that the picnic is deemed to be an "organised gathering" held by an "interest group to politicise (its) cause" can not be held on the grounds of the gardens.

First of all, that was never the intention. I didn't know picnics are now political activities. The National Parks Board has read to much into it. It was supposed to be just a picnic, and that's that.

This is outright discrimination.

What if a group of heteros, all dressed in red, decided to have a picnic? Would they be stopped from doing so? Surely not.

But if a group of gays were doing that, it is not allowed.

With what the NPB did, it sure changes your perception of Singapore, doesn't it? I don't think Malaysian authorities will care so much. In this instance, their "tidak apa" (apathetic) attitude is better.

Other events that were cancelled were a talk by a Canadian law professor, Prof Douglas Sanders, on “Sexual orientation in international law - the case of Asia.”

A talk about his life, Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, which now boasts 250 congregations around 23 countries, with a combined congregation of tens of thousands was also not allowed. Troy was supposed to be speaking on the Gay Christian witness in the modern world, and what it means to start a new church that is affirming, accepting and supportive of GLBT individuals and the role that MCC plays in modern America.

However, Safehaven (the organiser) was contacted one week before the event by the police and immigration saying that the event needed a PELU license and a professional visit pass. Applications have since been submitted, pending approval. If approval is denied, a by-invitation event will still be held, with Rev. Troy Perry in attendance. It will start with a short worship session, followed by a reading of his book "Troy Perry, Pastor and Prophet". He will be available after the session for individual questions.

Anyway, I am going to take part in a treasure hunt this Saturday, organised by Adlus. Something to unwind after my exam yesterday! Woohoo! Finally it's over.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday blues killer

Obviously, I am in no mood or inspiration to blog at the moment, so here's something funny to cheer you guys up.

Original lyrics to Ain't No Other Man (Christina Aguilera):
Do your thang honey!

(Verse: 1)
I could feel it from the start,
Couldn't stand to be apart.
Something ‘bout you caught my eye,
Something moved me deep inside
Don't know what you did boy but you had it and i've been hooked ever since.

I told my mother, my brother, my sister and my friends
Told the others, my lovers, both past and present tense.
That everytime I see you everything starts making sense.

Do your thang honey!

Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do
(what you do!)
You're the kind of guy, a girl finds in a blue moon. (hey)
You got soul (yeah), you got class (ohh). You got style, you bad ass
Oh Yeah!
Ain't no other man it's true (all right)
Ain't no other man but you.

(Verse: 2)
Never thought I'd be alright. No, no, no!
‘Til you came and changed my life. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
What was cloudy now is clear! Yeah, yeah!
Your the light that I needed

You got what I want boy and I want it
So keep on giving it up!

Tell your mother, your brother, your sister, and your friends.
Tell the others, your lovers, better not be present tense.
Cause I want everyone to know that you are mine and no one else's!

Ooooh,oh oh!

Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you (to you yeah)
Ain't no other man (ain't no other man) on the planet does what you do (do)
You're the kind of guy, a girl finds (girl finds) in a blue moon.
You got soul (soul), you got class (class).
You got style, with your bad ass
yeah yeah yeah!
Ain't no other man it's true
Ain't no other man but you.

Break it down now!

Ain't no other, ain't, ain't no other, (other)!!
Ain't no other, ain't, ain't no other (LOVER)!
Ain't no other, I, I, I need no other!
Ain't no other man but you!
You are there when I’m a mess
Talked me down from every ledge
Give me strength boy you’re the best
You’re the only one who’s ever passed every test

Ain't no other man (woo), can stand (yeh) up next to you (next to you)
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do. oh..
You're the kind of guy, a girl finds in a blue moon.
You got soul (yeah), you got class (yeah)
You got style, with your bad ass - oh yeah!
Ain't no other man it's true (oooh)
Ain't no other man but you.

And now I'm telling you so ain’t no other man but you
Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you,,
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do
(what you do).
You're the kind of guy, a girl finds in a blue moon.
Baby, baby, baby Oooh!!!!!
You got soul (yeah), you got class (ohh).
You got style, with your bad ass
Don't you know!
Ain't no other man it's true
Ain't no other man but you.

Best part - anal with a man, it's true - Lance Bass, Clay Aiken, dunno who's the third guy and Katie's other half! LOL

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A weekend to remember

Sorry for the lack of updates. I have been busy studying for my exams, which in 10 days time.

Last weekend was eventful, when Nyk was down for the weekend. It was partially spoilt by my manager, which I shall not go into details.

On Sunday, we went to a Catholic church. First time for me, as I have never been to church on normal Sundays, only special events like Christmas. Can't say I was taken in by the whole thing, but I just observed and observed some more. A lot of questions popped up while whole ritualistic and symbolic goings on took place.

After that, we went to Chinatown and passed by a shoe shop. Nyk bought a pair of black leather shoes for work.

Then we headed to the movies for an anime called Paprika. It was a marvellous show with very vibrant colours and art and memorable music. The storyline was gripping yet slightly complicated, nevertheless it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Highly recommended. IMDB attests to it, with an average of 7.9 out of 10 stars.

After the movie, we headed to Orchard as SK needed to buy some Aussiebum underwear for her friend in Europe. Apparently, it is much cheaper in Singapore.

So New Urban Male was where we ended up. We spent quite some time there choosing. I even bought something for myself, a pair of CIN-2 underwear.

We grabbed some snacks as we were quite hungry, even though it was nearly dinner time.

We stopped at Metro to just look around, but ended up buying two pairs of Private Structure underwear, one for myself and another for Nyk. Luckily, the sales were still on and there was a 20% discount, so it only cost $14 each.

Dinner was at Dempsey Road. The place is inaccessible by buses or trains, so we had to take a cab. As we turn into the road, I realised what an expensive evening it was going to be. The place was dotted with Korean, Western, Italian etc restaurants, which were formerly army barracks.

We met Nyk's brother at Fabrikka, an Italian outfit. The food was great. Nyk has the photos, so I didn't take any. I can't remember the names of the stuff we had, but they were beef, swordfish and duck. I will let him post comments on the food on his blog.

Overall, I had a really good time with him. It was wonderful to see him again after so long. And we would meet again quite soon, which is next month.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A meme which turned into a post

Got tagged by Queerrant. Think there was another meme earlier, but that seems so long ago.

According to this meme, I am supposed to post eight facts or habits about myself.

I read this book back when I was university, called Personality Plus by Florence Littauer.

Basically, it's about the four major types of personalities. I am recalling them from memory, which shows how much time I have spent on this. When I was in university, I had to deal with all sorts of people in the society that I joined. Hence, understanding the different types of personality is useful.

Each of usually have a lot in common with two out of the four, with a little of the other two. Something like 40%, 40%, 10% and 10%.

The four major types are:

1) Popular Sanguine
These are the people who are full of energy, enthusiastic, the live wire of the party. They can make any stories come alive and tell the same jokes over and over and still make everybody laugh. Well like by everybody. They are spontaneous and crazy.

The not so good characters are that they are usually forgetful and disorganised.

2) Perfect Melancholic
These are the perfectionist. They are analytical, smart and as the name suggest, melancholic. They think they are unique and that no one understands them. Introverted and thus spend a lot of time reading and being introspective. Moody. Thus they are smart and deep people. Usually emphatic as well.

The down side is that they usually depressive. If you can draw a graph, with the y-axis as emotion and values above zero as happy, there would be a lot of deep valleys and few small hills. Taken to the extreme, could be suicidal.

A lot of geniuses are in this category, like Mozart and Beethoven.

3) Powerful Choleric
These are the leaders. Decisive and assertive. Know what he or she wants. Able to make the people around him rally towards a common goal. Inspirational and has charisma. Speaks well in public.

People who are extreme in this category may come across as bossy or unfeeling. They are very results-oriented and thus may neglect the fact that people are humans with feelings too.

4) Peaceful Phlegmatic
These are the people who avoids conflicts and usually are the mediators to arguments. They are easy going people and get along well with everyone. They genuinely care about the people around them and wants everyone to be happy. A good provider and giver and takes care of people well.

If you could draw a graph of their emotions, it would be almost flat. They experience neither extreme happiness or sadness. They avoid conflicts and thus may seem agreeable and pushovers. Hence, they usually go along with whatever decision others make.

They don't like to make decisions as they want others to do so and be happy. They lack initiative.

Err ... think I have digressed too much.

Still, for the first fact about me, wanna hazard a guess which two personalities am I?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thirteen: Game of Death

Last Friday, we watched this Thai movie called 13, Game of Death. Its synopsis:

13 is a new and very secret competition offering a grand prize of 100 million Baht. The contestants are chosen from those most afflicted with problems involving work, money, family and love. If they can complete 13 tasks, they'll receive riches beyond their wildest dreams. But there's a catch...the challenges will test them in every aspect of their lives from love to religion and even moral values. They may seem undemanding when they start but as they progress they become increasingly more intense until finally, they reach a stage where they are no longer sure if they are human anymore. As with every game there are rules and these rules must be obeyed at all times. If they fail even one of the tasks, they will be dismissed from the game. The rules prohibit them from giving up from telling anyone else that they are playing and from investigating the origin of the game. A man named Phuchit is delighted to be offered the chance to compete, little realizing that it will cost him his friends, his family, his sanity and perhaps his life...What wouldn't you do for money?

It sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

The first task was easy. Swat a fly with a newspaper. Task two: eat that fly. Easy enough to get the participant hooked.

But behind this simple game with, there are thousands of people who pay money to watch this kind of reality show. Phuncit, the participant chosen, is being watched all the time. What he did or didn’t do to finish a task immediately prompts a phone call from the organizer.

As the game progresses, the things he had to do become worse and immoral. He had to make 3 children cry, steal from a beggar and eat shit in a posh restaurant. Yes, you read correctly, he really had to eat shit, served with some brown sauce (chocolate maybe?). That scene was really disgusting.

Another scene which was memorable was how he was tricked into tying a wire across a street, where a group of illegal racers were heading that way. All of them were killed, with brains splattered on the road.

He finally managed to perform the first 12 tasks and reaches the final. Here, there is a twist that elevated the movie to beyond just gore and disbelief. In the end, he made the right choice and regained his humanity, but greed and evil still won.

Overall, I would rate this film a three out of five, for its interesting plot which was adapted from a comic book, even though the direction and pace were not that good.

I am really looking forward to Nyk visiting me in soon. I haven’t seen him for more than two months and how I can’t wait to spend quality time with him *snickers*

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All in the family

Taken from Oprah Winfrey's website, here and here. I think they were showing some interesting stuff about a few families, called All in the Family.

The eight Huckaby children—Jude, Joan, Jann, Jason, Janie, Jonathan, Jody and John Jr.—grew up in a small southern town. Raised in a close-knit, conservative Catholic home, the Huckabys' life centered on their family and their faith.

"All you had to do was walk in the house to know it. You saw statues of Jesus and Mary and Joseph and a whole bunch of saints," Jody says. "My parents showed all of us what it means to be family every day."

Every day the Huckaby children's father took them to school—and when they came home, their mom had cookies, cupcakes or other treats waiting. "We always felt as though [when] we went to bed at night, we had a good time," Jann says. "We had really lived a good day."

With all 10 family members living in a three bedroom, one bathroom house, space was a little tight. "It's kind of hard not to know what's going on with each other," Jonathan says.

Despite their close upbringing, four of the Huckabys were hiding one important thing—they were gay. "I was first [to come out]," Jason says. "It was about 1985 and I was studying to be a Catholic priest. I'd been in seminary for a number of years, and I came to the point in my life where I realized that I didn't want to live my life alone, that I need today to have a partner in my life." So he wrote a letter to his parents, telling them he was gay.

After receiving the news, the Huckabys' parents told the other seven children about Jason's letter, and Jonathan says they were "not pleased." "Even though it was very scary, I trusted that there was enough of a solid foundation there that it would eventually be a safe thing for me to do, to come out to my family," Jason says.

Jonathan and Jody say as they grew up, they, too, realized they were gay. "If only we had been able to talk about it. There were no parameters. We went to Catholic school, and you certainly didn't talk about that with the nuns," Jody says. Their parents' reaction to Jason's letter made Jody concerned to come out, but eventually, he and Jonathan each admitted their secret. Jody says a fourth brother is also gay.

At first, even their other siblings rejected their lifestyle. Their sister, Jann, says it took her more than a year to fully accept it. "I had prayed about it, and I realized that I did not need to judge. I needed to love," Jann says. When their brother Jude first heard the news, he thought Jason had chosen to be gay. "After the other brothers came out, I said, 'This can't be a choice. This has to be…the way they were born,'" he says.

Jody, who is now the executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), says his organization helped his mother find peace with having four gay children. "For me, it's sort of a full-circle experience, because all these years later, I'm running this national organization, and it's for parents, it's for family members and friends and straight allies to deal with these issues," he says.

I don't know which is more remarkable, the fact that four of eight of them are gay or that the whole conservative Catholic family is alright with it.

Blood is thicker than water.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A day at the swimming pool

I went for a swim in the evening. The weather is freaking hot these days and even the pool's water wasn't cool enough to make me forget about the heat for a while.

Heck, I was actually feeling quite warm in the pool.

As I was on leave today, I went to the pool about 6p.m. Nyk send me a message on Gtalk which said, "Enjoy dear, wish u lotsa eye candy".

Which was quite unlikely, as it was still early and most people would most probably still be in the office.

The pool was more crowded than usual. I blamed it on the weather.

As luck would have it, I was right. There wasn't any cuties. There were passable ones, but not many. Even though my visual disability doesn't help to discern the male faces and bodies, but I am pretty sure there wasn't any.

Anyway, I did notice this guy with yellow and blue trunks swimming while doing my laps. He got out of the pool an hour later. I still wanted to do another half lap, so I did that and I was out of the water about 5 minutes later.

In the bathroom, I saw the guy again. Let's call him Blue Trunks Guy (BTG). BTG was done cleaning up and was drying himself. He was totally naked and of course I looked.

The penis was small. That is only natural after coming out from the pool. His penis wasn't hard, but somehow it pointed about 45 degree from the floor or at about 8 o'clock.

I think he saw me looking. But he didn't seem to mind. He has a nice body, defined.

I went into the shower stall and cleaned myself up. Came out about 5 minutes later. BTG was fully dressed by now and was checking himself in the full length mirror.

I dried myself with a towel and put on my clothes. I noticed that BTG has left the bathroom by now.

However I did take my time, as someone quite hunky came in and I wanted to see him undress. But alas, it was quite disappointing.

As I was putting the last of my stuff in my backpack, I saw BTG in front of the mirror again. There really wasn't much more to adjust or beautify himself, I thought.

We left the changing room, almost together. He was about 20 paces in front of me.

After I exited the building, I noticed that BTG wasn't really sure of where he was headed. He was walking to another direction. I was slightly behind him and I turned a corner.

He followed me.

I was thinking to myself, is he really following me?

I walked slower than my usual pace, as my intention was to let him overtake him.

But he didn't. He was about 5 steps behind me and we walked in that way for 50 meters.

When the pathway widen, I walked towards the side a bit so that he was by my side. I smiled at him, he smiled back and asked in Mandarin "Are you going for dinner?"

I said yes.

"Let's go together then."

What a smooth and appropriate pick up line. Heh.

I now had a better look at him. He has a pleasant look. In fact, he actually resembles someone I know. His body is quite built, but not bulky. Nice muscle bulges in the right places, like those who work out in gyms.

Then the usual beginning of conversations began - where do I stay, occupation, etc.

I did tell him I wasn't proficient in Mandarin, but I did understand mostly what he was saying.

He didn't understand English much, so I had to use my smattering of Mandarin to converse.

Apparently, he is from East Malaysia, has been in Singapore for about 10 years and is currently unemployed.

I had no idea how he knew I was gay. I don't think I act that gay.

I believed this was how he got the confirmation that I am:
BTG: How do you like Singapore?
Me: It's so boring here. Nothing much to do besides shopping.
BTG: Boring? How can it be? Have you visited the gay clubs?
Me: Erm, yeah.

He also asked whether I have a boyfriend. I replied he's in KL. I asked the same question back and he said that he just broke up three days ago.

Hmmm ....

Anyway, right after we finished our meals, he said he had to go. The part that really got me, which showed that he really is a nice guy was when he said this:

"Xie xie ni pei wo chi fan (Thank you for your accompanying me for dinner)"

And he left. He went to a stall selling durians and bought some.

I went to the next stall selling other types of fruits. He came over and said, "The durians are sold cheaply." And he went off.

That was really kind of him to tell me.

And then it dawned on me that he might actually have been interested in me. If I was single, something might have happened. The 3 day breakup thing might just be a sob story and not be true.

I didn't realise it earlier but now everything seem to make sense. He was obviously staying longer than necessary in the bathroom, so that he could catch me leaving. The way he was changed his direction and followed me .....

So yeah, this really made my day. An ego-booster. I was smiling to myself whenever I think about it.

I think I have just been cruised for the very first time ;P

Monday, July 02, 2007

Toki wo kakeru shôjo

I watched an extremely good anime last Tuesday, called the Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It was the number one anime in Japan last year.

I think the title made it obvious what the movie is all about, which was about a girl Makoto who one day discovered she had the ability to leap through time but only to the past. Thus, she was presented with the opportunity to change things which she wasn’t happy about, like retaking an exam which she failed, eating a pudding which was eaten by her sister previously and avoiding the issue when a guy showed romantic interest in her.

The only person who knew about her ability was her aunt, whom she consulted with on what to do and her dilemma of liking her two close friends. Deep down, she preferred Kosuke but she went to match-make him and another girl who has a crush on him.

She has two close friends, whom she plays baseball with everyday, Kousuke and Chiaki.

Someone called Dick Steel has written a review on IMDB which is similar to what I thought:
The movie has light hearted moments, sometimes bordering on the slapstick, no thanks to the bumbling Makoto character. In a sequence, it was reminiscent of Chinese Odyssey starring Stephen Chow, where each time travel moment gets played ad nausem with different comedic effect. Undoing blunders as we see is not exactly Makoto's forte, and while she may be using her powers in a carefree way, with great powers come great responsibilities (sorry, can't resist that one!)

Another review, from THEM Anime:
After one day discovering that she has the special ability to “leap” back in time, a high-school girl named Makoto Konno decides to use her newfound powers for trivial purposes such as getting to school early, eating pudding and singing in a karaoke rental for prolonged hours.

In what arguably sounds like the most humdrum plot ever conceived, it’s almost surprising that Mamoru Hosoda’s first directorial venture with Madhouse turned out to be the real winner that it is; in what seems to be the first of two successful anime film-adaptations of original stories written by Yasutaka Tsutsui this year (2007 in the US), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time demonstrates that creativity can make even the most primordial of storytelling devices (in this case, the quagmire of contradiction and convenience that is time-travel) relevant, intelligible and a whole lot of fun.

What sets this sexy piece of Madhouse meat apart from other shows that may have dabbled in the playground of time and space manipulation is probably director Hosoda’s focus and creativity to make the re-interpretation of even the most menial of everyday tasks unequivocally entertaining. Makoto’s fondness towards her newly-discovered time-leaping abilities is liken to that of an innocent youth who was probably lucky enough to get her hands on a Nintendo Wii, at launch date, minus the endurance of having to line up at Target 5AM in the morning in the blistering cold; Hosoda manages to convey this sublime child-like innocence of delight through many of the movie’s characters in a manner that almost defies any amount of praise that I can humanly give it; there was just something so incredibly genius and pure about Makoto using her powers to go back in time just for the sake of contemplating the glorious satisfaction of getting to a pack of pudding before her little sister was able to partake in the joy of consuming it. Even Makoto’s self-righteous attitude when she’s finally able to experience the pleasure of walking to school early instead of using her bike to come in late (much to the amazing surprise of everyone in the neighborhood) came off as more real than it did pompous.

Indeed, changing the past may have cause undesirable consequences. Saving someone from disaster would cause someone else to be hurt or injured. There is no such thing as escaping from something bad totally, as that something bad will happen to someone else.

Which did happen. Makoto avoided an incident of splashing hot oil and small fire in her domestic skills cooking class but another person took her place. Three students blamed that poor guy for the incident and a cycle of pranks which grew to vengeful proportions escalated between them, which led to someone getting seriously hurt in the end.

Although Makoto liked Chiaki, she was somehow afraid when Chiaki professed his feelings for her till she had to go back in time a couple of times and changed the topic of conversation when the subject came up. She wanted to maintain her carefree days, playing baseball everyday, not willing to face the fact that her friends will grow up and move on to other things.

In a way, I like that. Youthful idealism which has to make way for the realization that things can never be the same in life, especially the things that we enjoy.

The movie also has the message of moving forward, to not dwell on the past but look forward to the future, which has better and brighter things.

It reminds me of myself. A lot of things are and can never be the same anymore, so it is always best to enjoy them while it lasts.

Towards the end, it was found out that Chiaki was from the future and he was in the present to look at a painting. That painting doesn’t exist anymore in the future.

The ending was slightly confusing (time travel stories usually are and they have loopholes) but Chiaki finally went back to the future. He promised to wait for Makoto and see her in the future. The farewell was quite sad, Makoto almost cried her eyes out.

That romantic bit was quite cute. Wished Nyk was there with me, so that I could hold his hand.

Another thing which I liked was the time travelling sequence. The scene is different and unique, quite unlike the usual myriad of fast moving colours.

The Best Animated Film of the recent Awards of the Japanese Academy and I think it fully deserved the award. This sweet and humorous tale is highly recommended.

Oh yeah, and the soundtrack. I really love the songs in the movie. Very soothing and romantic, the music complemented the movie well.

And I think that Chiaki is cute!

Oooh, oooh, guess what? Some kind soul has uploaded the whole movie on youtube, split into 12 parts. I will definitely watch it again. Heck, I want the DVD!

Overall, I would rate an 8 out of 10. IMDB’s rating is 8.4 out of 10.

Here is the first part. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Real men don't speed

Thanks to Howsy for this information.

You think it will work in Australia? I mean, straight man and their ideas on manhood and manliness, it just might. Most of them can't bear the idea of being thought of as less than a man, or worse, sissy or womanly.

Straight brain: If I am not a man means I am a woman which means I might be gay and arrrgh! I don't want to penetrated!

Wonder if it would work in Malaysia? I mean, Male Chauvinist Pigs MPs make degrading jokes about women "bocor" (leaking) monthly, surely they are man enough to accept an advertisement about them not a man by speeding?

Article taken from BBC.

Australian drivers hit below belt

A new Australian ad campaign is seeking to reduce road deaths by questioning the manhood of speeding drivers.

The series of TV ads shows women shaking their little finger - a gesture used to symbolise a small penis - as speeding male motorists race past.

The $A1.9m (£805,400, US$1.6m) campaign aims to make speeding socially unacceptable among young drivers.

The "Speeding. No-one Thinks Big of You" campaign will run on TV, in cinemas, at bus shelters and online.

The shock tactics of previous adverts that showed disturbing images of death and injury in road crashes have not worked, says the New South Wales state government authority behind the ads, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA).

Exposure to "computer games, modern media ... and horror films" had desensitised many young males to the violent images of those campaigns, RTA spokesman John Whelan told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

The new ads include one young driver revving his engine and rushing through traffic lights in front of two young women and another racing past a female pedestrian.

After both incidents the women wave their little fingers in slow motion with knowing glances.

"We will do what we feel we have to, to get the message through," Mr Whelan said.

Speeding is a factor in about 40% of road deaths in NSW each year, according to RTA figures.

The ad campaign coincides with the introduction of new restrictions on learner drivers, including a ban on all mobile phone use, limits on the number of young passengers allowed and tougher speeding penalties.

This is the TV advert.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Science of Gaydar Pt 2

Continues from Part One.

EXAMPLE D: Hand Dexterity (Male)
Gay men and lesbians have a 50 percent greater chance of being left-handed or ambidextrous than their straight counterparts.
(Derek: I am purely right-handed, but the bf is ambidextrous.)

Ironically, AIDS had also given LeVay opportunity. Before the epidemic, cadavers available for dissecting came with scant personal background besides age and cause of death. But because AIDS was still largely a gay disease, it was possible for the first time to do detailed neuroanatomical studies on the bodies of known gay men. (Being lucky enough to have no proprietary cause of death, lesbians were excluded from the study.)

LeVay decided to make the first detailed comparison of the brain’s hypothalamus, a small region at the base of the brain responsible for regulating everything from blood pressure and body temperature to hunger and wake-sleep cycles. And because it’s awash in more hormones than any other part of the brain, it also helps control emotions and sex drive and enjoys a reputation among neurologists, as LeVay noted in his book The Sexual Brain, for being “haunted by animal spirits and the ghosts of primal urges.”

LeVay suspected the secret to sexual orientation might lurk there as well. It was already known that in (presumably straight) men, a cell cluster in the hypothalamus called INAH3 is more than twice the size of the cluster in (presumably straight) women, a distinction probably created during fetal development when male hormones begin acting on boy fetuses and the two genders embark on different biological courses. LeVay designed a study to see if there were any size differences inside gay brains. His results were startling and unexpected. In gay men, INAH3 is similar in size to straight women’s.

This finding challenged a lot of what scientists believed. “The brain was considered pretty hardwired,” says Roger Gorski, a neurobiologist at UCLA who researches sexual differentiation. “It was male or female, period. Then Simon’s study shows that there could be intermediates. That wasn’t just a watershed—it pushed the water over the waterfall.”

At the time, LeVay presented his findings with caution, acknowledging that HIV or AIDS medications might have been responsible for altering brain structure. But more recently, an important study of sheep brains has replicated his findings. Sheep are among 500 animal species where homosexuality has been documented. They are also among the few who practice exclusive homosexuality, like many humans. In any population of sheep, about 8 percent of males show exclusive homosexual behavior. Little is known about the romantic life of Sapphic sheep because ewes tend to express their sexual interests by standing entirely still, yielding no clues about their partner preferences.

Slicing open the brains of ten ewes, eight female-oriented rams, and nine males who preferred other rams, researchers in the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine found nearly the same variations in hypothalamus that LeVay first noticed. Male sheep who were attracted to females had a significantly larger hypothalamus dimension than females or male-oriented males.

A second study in humans also found size differences, though less dramatic, in the hypothalamus cluster identified by LeVay. “There’s now more reason to think my results are right, that the gay brain has this distinction,” he says.

If LeVay’s research suggested that biology—not environment, vice, or sinfulness—was likely responsible for male homosexuality, the geneticist Dean Hamer, an author and molecular biologist at the National Institutes of Health, hoped to pinpoint the exact biological mechanism responsible. He scanned gene groups in pairs of gay siblings looking for sites where the relatives had inherited the same DNA more frequently than would be expected on the basis of chance. In 1993, he located a region in the human genome, called Xq28, that appeared to be associated with gayness, a finding that has generated some controversy among researchers who have not fully confirmed the results.

A large-scale study within the next year is expected to determine more conclusively if a gene (or genes) is linked to sexual orientation. Alan R. Sanders, a psychiatrist from Northwestern University, is enrolling 1,000 pairs of gay brothers in one of the largest sexual-orientation studies ever undertaken. With the experiment, funded by an NIH grant of over $1 million, Sanders will attempt to map genes that influence sexual orientation.

Why has it taken fourteen years to carry out such an investigation? Hamer says there is very little research money, and almost no glory, to be gained in the hunt for gayness. “At about the same time as Xq28 came out, we found another gene involved in anxiety—the target gene for Prozac, and since that time, there have been now almost 800 peer-reviewed publications on that gene. Whereas for the gay gene, every experiment has been done by three or four students, most of them my students.”

One of the riddles still vexing geneticists is why only 50 percent of gay identical twins share a sexual orientation with their sibling, despite being genetically identical. “We know from all sorts of research that it’s not your upbringing, not relationship with parents or siblings, not early-childhood sexual experiences and whether you go to a Catholic school or not,” says Sven Bocklandt, a geneticist at UCLA.

“What I believe is that it is the ‘epigenetics environment,’ meaning the environment on top of our DNA—meaning the way that the gene is regulated. If you have identical twins, the genes are identical, but they are used differently. Every man and every woman has all the genes to make a vagina and womb and penis and testicles. In the same way, arguably, every man and woman has the genetic code for the brain networks that make you attracted to men and to women. You activate one or the other—and if you activate the wrong one, you’re gay.”

I can’t ignore Bocklandt’s use of the word wrong in relation to gay genetic codes. I don’t believe Bocklandt has any agenda in his work beyond scientific exploration, nor do I have any reason to believe he is anti-gay. Rather, Bocklandt is driven, as he likes to say, by a voracious curiosity about all sorts of sexual orientations. “This is not about a gay gene,” he says. “This is about sexual attraction, and about love. And about why crocodiles mate and why pigeons mate. It’s amazing to me that we don’t understand how that works. It’s so fundamental. Life on Earth would be very different if heterosexuality didn’t exist. That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

But every discovery in this field ignites a new discussion of morality. Politically, there is something very powerful about the notion that sexual orientation is a matter of biology, not choice. In poll after poll, of the one third of Americans who believe homosexuality is socially influenced, in other words “a choice,” about 70 percent think being gay is “not acceptable.” But for those who believe it is biologically mandated, the statistic reverses, and four out of five Americans find gayness “acceptable.”

As Bocklandt’s slip of the tongue illustrates, subtle judgments abound in the field. It is true that homosexuality does not make a whole lot of sense biologically. It lacks an obvious purpose. That’s the reason evolution-theory scholars call it “maladaptive” and radio shock jock Laura Schlessinger labeled it a “biological error.”

But Stanford biology professor Joan Roughgarden points out in her book Evolution’s Rainbow that most homosexual activity in the animal kingdom serves a fundamentally social purpose. Japanese macaques, for instance, live in female-only societies, arranged in rigid hierarchies. Power and cohesion are established through lesbian couplings, which can last up to four days and seem to prevent violence and aggression. Among many species, in fact, gayness seems to facilitate complex societies. One species of bird has males, females, and “marriage brokers” of a third gender, there to keep the species perpetuating. As adolescents, male bottlenose dolphins perform a kind of oral sex on one another—or in threesomes or foursomes—in rituals that create lifelong friendships and defense partnerships against sharks and other predators.

If we identify how sexual orientation is set in utero, doesn’t that suggest a future in which gay people can be prevented?

But for most in the animal kingdom, same-sex pairing is either fleeting or situational. Even Silo and Roy, for six years the poster-penguins for same-sex love in the Central Park Zoo—they famously raised a daughter together—were not destined to last forever. Silo waddled off with a female named Scrappy in 2005, says zoo director Dan Wharton, adding that we shouldn’t worry about Roy’s hurt feelings. “Penguins are matter-of-fact about these things.”

That still leaves a million questions about those gay rams and humans like me, who fall on the far edge of Alfred Kinsey’s sexual-orientation scale, exclusively gay. In a universe in which we look for purpose in order to appoint value, what is the purpose of my gayness?

Dean Hamer sees one possible answer in the fraternal-birth-order studies. “In Polynesian cultures, where you’re talking about very big families, it was typical to have the last-born son be mahu, or gay,” he says. Explorers described young boys who looked after the family and sometimes dressed as girls. “They suspected that their families had made them that way. But you just can’t take a guy and make him clean up and have him become gay. He’s got to have some gayness inside. Maybe that’s the biological purpose to the mahu: taking care of Mom.”

He says this half in jest, I think, but some other evidence bolsters his argument, including the appearance of transgender younger sons among Native Americans (the so-called two-spirits) and in premodern corners of India, Samoa, and Indonesia. A survey published this year suggested that transgender fa’afafines in Samoa are more “avuncular” than heterosexuals—that is, more likely to care for kin. Another study says that female relatives of gay men may have more children; perhaps the very thing that makes their brothers and sons gay makes them more fertile, an ideal situation with extra babysitters on hand. You can slice this stuff any way you want.
(Derek: Here comes the lesbian part. If you're not interested, you can skip the next 4 paragraphs, but they are darn interesting stuff too. Like I have always believed, women doesn't have a fixed orientation like guys, not so hard-wired in the brain.)

Fewer studies have focused specifically on lesbians, perhaps because AIDS didn’t provide the same urgent impetus for studying female sexuality. But the research that has been conducted has yielded some interesting, though decidedly cloudy, results. According to some studies, lesbians are more likely to have homosexual relatives than nonlesbians. They also have notably longer bone growth in their arms, legs, and hands, hinting that they had greater androgen exposure during development, according to James Martin, a physiologist with Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. Another indicator comes in a 2003 study in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience that measured something called “prepulse inhibition,” which is the part of our startle mechanism that’s believed to defy practice or training—something hardwired, in other words. Men tend to blink less than women in such experiments; gay and heterosexual men had similar responses, but lesbians, it turns out, were more like men than not.

In many other studies, though, lesbians have appeared less unique than gay men, leading some people to wonder if their sexual orientation is innate. Michael Bailey—who, as a heterosexual researcher, is a minority in this field—even doubts the existence of female sexual orientation, if by orientation we mean a fundamental drive that defies our conscious choices. He bases this provocative gambit on a sexual-arousal study he and his students conducted. When shown pornographic videos, men have an undeniable response either to gay or straight images but not both, according to sensitive gauges attached to their genitals—it’s that binary. Female sexual response is more democratic, opaque, and unpredictable: Arousal itself is harder to track, and there is evidence that it defies easy categorization. “I don’t yet understand female partner choices very well, and neither does anyone else,” Bailey wrote me in an e-mail. “What I do think it’s time to do is admit that female sexuality looks in some ways very different from male sexuality, and that there is no clear analog in women of men’s directed sexual-arousal pattern, which I think is their sexual orientation. I am not sure that women don’t have a sexual orientation, but it is certainly unclear that they do.”

He contends that what they have instead is sexual preference—they might prefer sex with women, but something in their brains can still sizzle at the thought of men. Many feminist scholars agree with this assessment, and consider sexuality more of a fluid than an either-or proposition, but some don’t. “I think women do have orientations, but they don’t circumscribe the range of desires that women can experience to the same degree as men,” says Lisa Diamond, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, who is writing a book on the subject. “For women, there’s more wiggle room. You can think of orientation as defining a range of possible responses, and for women, it’s much broader.”

Bailey stops short of saying that lesbianism is a myth (although he has notoriously declared that true male bisexuality doesn’t exist and dismissed many transgender people as peculiar sexual fetishists, drawing lasting enmity from gay and trans groups). But it may be less hard-wired. And it appears to have separate triggers and correlates that haven’t been identified yet. In studies of twins, there is a lower correlation of sexual orientation between female siblings than male siblings, for instance. “We’re at a place,” agrees Diamond, “where everyone agrees that whatever is going on is quite distinct between the sexes.”

I suppose the main upside to this kind of work, besides any impact it might have on securing gay rights, is the comfort of self-knowledge. The secrets lurking in the hypothalamus (and the ring finger and the hair whorl) aren’t just about who we desire but about a more fundamental organization of our personalities, individually and collectively.

Still, some have dismissed all this field-guide work as wrongheaded. Gaydar can no more be proved than a sixth sense, they say. What’s being classified as fundamentally gay is nothing more than cultural signals that vary so much from one part of the world to another that they’re worthless as clues to anything. It is surely true that gaydar has its blind spots. When I traveled through Nigeria a few years ago, I was unable after nearly a month to say with any conviction that I had encountered any gay people along my way. No knowing eye contact, no species recognition. (Then again, it’s not as if I was able to measure index-to-ring finger ratios.)

Where were they all? In Lagos, the morning newspaper offered an answer. According to a tiny news squib, a court had just convicted a young man of sodomy and sentenced him to death by stoning. Two other death sentences were handed down to gay people in the few days before I boarded my airplane. I paid a visit to one of the top human-rights agencies in the country and asked why they weren’t protesting these cases. The director looked at me dumbstruck. “Because sodomy,” he said as if speaking to a child, “is illegal.” To survive, they were hiding, even from me—they had edited down their gendermaps to the barest minimum and disappeared.

Still, Dr. Lippa, the hair-whorl researcher, is publishing a paper in the Archives of Sexual Behavior later this year that seems to prove the existence of gay-typical behavior across the globe. Lippa is looking at a 2005 BBC Internet survey, part of a BBC documentary project called Secrets of the Sexes, which included more than 200,000 respondents in 53 countries answering questions about everything from their occupational interests to their sexual histories and personalities. Lippa, a tall and slender man who came out to his parents in his thirties, analyzed the data first along gender lines, then compared straight people to gay people. What he found, he says, is a cross-cultural confirmation of what amount to stereotypes.

“It probably comes as no shock to you that on average men say they’re interested in being mechanics, or electrical engineers, or construction workers, whereas on average women are more interested in, say, being an interior decorator or a social worker or an artist,” he tells me. “Similarly, the differences between gay men and straight men are pretty large. On average, gay men are interested more in what you would consider female-typical occupations and hobbies than straight men. Same with women. It’s not universal. Some gay men like football games and like working on cars and are electrical engineers. But a large majority answer this way.”

It could be that his study says more about the limited number of vocations where gay men feel comfortable expressing themselves, and we might be equally drawn to construction sites if we thought we might be accepted there. It could be that the study says as much about the globalization of culture as the biological nature of gayness.

Even Lippa hesitates to say that gay people are essentially different from straight. “Essentialism,” he explains, “is the enemy of a lot of academics,” because it shuts down inquiry into all the possible influences. Perhaps there are a dozen possible routes to homosexuality, any combination of which might produce a number of the traits being catalogued now. It might be that there is no single thing called homosexuality—that there are instead dozens of homosexualities, scores of potential outcomes in terms of personality, and endless potentials for describing them. “For example, do gay men who have older brothers show more or less feminine? Do gay men with counterclockwise hair have more masculine traits? One cause might create a more feminine homosexuality than another.”

Of course, biology doesn’t determine everything. And some critics of sexual-orientation researchers blame them for minimizing the role of experience in determining our affectional course in life. The feminist biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling has waged a constant battle against their research, which she calls “a big house of cards” that ignores the power of environment in creating personality. Nurture, she argues, can and should be studied as a link to sexual orientation. The baby penguin raised by her two dads is a potential case study—though genetically unrelated to either parent, in the last few mating seasons she has mated with another female.

The rush to declare a biological mandate is motivated by a political agenda, says Fausto-Sterling, the author of Sexing the Body, who is married to a woman after a marriage to a man. “For me and for any feminist, I think it’s a pretty fragile way to argue for human rights. I want to see the claims for gay rights made on moral, ethical, legal, and constitutional bases that don’t rely on a particular scientific view of sexual development.”

Especially if that view invites the opponents of gay people to consider dramatic interventions meant to stop the development of homosexual orientation in a fetus. What if prenatal tests were able to show a predisposition to gayness? How long would it be before some pharmaceutical company develops a patch to regulate hormone flow and direct the baby’s orientation? Michael Bailey, for one, isn’t troubled by the moral implications any more than he would oppose fetal screens for potential birth defects, though he quickly adds his personal belief that homosexuality is “a good” on par with heterosexuality. “There’s no reason to ban, or become hysterical about, selecting for heterosexuality,” he says. “That’s precisely what parenting is about: shaping the children to have traits the parents value.”

It’s bizarre to think some value systems might lump gayness in with—say—sickle-cell anemia or Down syndrome. As Matt Foreman from the Task Force put it, “It’s not playing with the number of toes you have; it’s really manipulating your very essence. So many people see gay people only in terms of sexual behavior, as opposed to what sexual orientation is really about, which is how you fit into the world. I don’t want to get mushy, but it’s about your soul.”