Saturday, January 27, 2007

Love equation

Someone wrote that LOVE = (LUST + COMMITMENT) x PATIENCE

Interesting equation. Simplistic, but if you think properly, it does come down to these three things.

The way I interpret it is that LUST is the physical attraction. It could be those big brown eyes or that smile that melts your hart every time or the way he blushes.

No relationship can survive without some level of physical attraction between two people. It doesn’t matter whether that spark flicker on the first meet or if it was slowly developed (like one day, you hit yourself hard for not realizing how adorable that left dimple is).

COMMITMENT is the other important ingredient. Things like personality, sense of humour, caring and compassion fades into the background if the other party can't commit whole-heartedly in a relationship. He might be the brightest person on Earth, have a fabulous fashion sense and all, but when it comes down to, it's the commitment to share your life with another person that counts.

OK, let's ignore those exceptions like open-relationships and menage-a-trois.

Last but not least, PATIENCE. A romantic relationship, heck, any relationship needs tons and tons of it. Patience to understand, patience to communicate clearly, patience to listen, patience to solve problems together, etc. Need I say more?

So a formula for love or rather, for a relationship to work and survive. Stripped to the basics.

Now, if only it was that simple in practice. There are many things that could undo formula. Throw in some stress, instant gratification, jealousy, lack of communication and boom, every goes up in smoke.

Still if one never tries, one wouldn't know. As cliche as it may be, it is true that it is better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

I was working late for the first time last week, on a Friday. Why oh why did I have to stay back of all days on a Friday, right before the weekend starts?

Anyway, to make up for it, a few of us went to watch the 2007 Golden Globes-nominated Best Foreign Language Film, Pan's Labyrinth. The movie was also nominated in the same category in the BAFTA awards and also for Best Screenplay.

The movie was absolutely brilliant and terrific.

Taken from IMDB,

Set during Franco's mopping up exercise after the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is a wonderful, dark fairy tale that, in a metaphor for Spain itself, teeters on the edge of nightmare dreamscapes of corruption, violence and the death of innocents.

This film is definitely not for young children. Although the fantasy sequences are gorgeously realised, and are fairy tales in the truest sense (in that they are dark, fey, dangerous and violent), most of the story (about three quarters of it, in fact) exists outside of the dreamland, in the even more frightening (and sometimes shockingly violent) world of a real life struggle of ideas and ideology.

Sergi Lopez is excellent as the brutal (and possibly sadistic) Falangist Captain tasked with routing out the remaining leftists from the woods and hills of Northern Spain. Into this precarious situation come his new wife (a widow of a former marriage, who is carrying his son) and his stepdaughter Ofelia (played to absolute perfection, by the then 11 year old, Ivana Baquero).

Uncomfortable with her new surroundings, suspicious of her stepfather and desperately concerned about the worsening condition of her mother, Ofelia uncovers a strange alternative world, and the chance to escape forever the pain and uncertainty of her everyday life.

Thus the film alternates between the world of Civil War Spain and the increasingly bizarre, dark and frightening world of the Pan's Labyrinth. As the twin plots progress, they intertwine, with the tasks of Ofelia becoming the choices faced by a Spain at the crossroads. The poignancy of the film lies partly in the fact that the victories of the child are reflected so starkly by the failures of the adult world.

I am not sure where I read this description before, but someone described it as Alice in Wonderland, but much darker.

Acting was superb all round, with the evil Captain played to perfection. He received his just desserts in the end, but the people he had killed and tortured seemed to deserve more than just the Captain's death.

Alternating between the real world and Ofelia's fantasy world was done seamlessly. Her fear for her mother's health and her dislike for her stepfather were reflected in the fantasy world, where she escaped to as a way to deal with all the uncertainty of the war and puberty.

In her fantasy world, Ofelia was a princess of the underworld, who came to the open world hundreds of years ago and now has to complete three tasks before she can return to her father, the king.

I had to admit that the fantasy gave me the jitters. There were creepy crawlies in the first task she has to complete, which was pure ewww for me.

The second task was stealing an item from the creature called the Pale Man, which I think is one of the scariest monster ever imagined. His eyes are in his hands and he sees things like this.

Ok, it may look hilarious instead of scary here, but in the movie, it was definitely the other way round for me!

It's a beautifully crafted story which managed to intertwine reality with fantasy. Kudos to director Guillermo del Toro (of Hellboy fame), who also wrote the screenplay.

There were also some scenes of violence and torture, which was edited out. There was one where the doctor has to saw off a man's leg as it can't be saved.

Even Wikipedia has an article on it and details the story in full, so beware of spoilers!

Visual-wise, the settings in the magical world is breathtaking. The camera work and angle tells the story in a captivating way, just like you were being read a fairy tale when you were young.

All in all, Pan's Labyrinth has my vote for Best Non-English Film of 2006. It even made it to the Oscar's shortlist for Best Foreign Film, whereas a certain story with lots of grandeur and boobs did not.

Highly recommended film. It has been a long time since an excellent fairy tale like this came along. I hope it will be shown in Malaysian cinemas. If not, go get the DVD! It will be truly worth it.

I rate it a high 4.75 out of 5.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Time to hold hands II

Last weekend, I spent two nights at some sort of a mini resort at Pasir Ris. Singaporeans call it a chalet, but really, they are just two-storey buildings with rooms that are no different from hotels, size and facilities-wise. No wooden walls or floors or airy windows or verandahs!

Anyway, there were seven of us who spent the two nights there, including a birthday boy who turned 21 on Saturday. No, there was no repeat episode of drunken prawn, thank you very much, to those of you who asked! ;P

We spent almost the whole of Saturday at this water theme park called Wild Wild Wet. Nothing too fantastic; I only screamed on this one ride, where two of us sat on a boat-like device and slide down a 75 degree slope at a roller coaster descending speed.

The park was pretty small that we went around and tried everything at least twice! Still, I had a fabulous time. We were wet from the rides and from the rain, which was pouring non-stop right till we left the place at 3 p.m.

Something that struck me as particularly interesting was how our group walked hand in hand almost everywhere we go. I mean, I have done this with them before when it was a smaller group, like 3 or 4 of us, but not like this! Our elbows interlocked and we walked in one long line, obstructing some of the human traffic on the walkways.

We even formed a circle when we floated on giant floats along the Lazy River and needless to say blocked the river way.

Of course, we weren't that selfish to intentionally do that. We de-linked our hands whenever people want to pass us by. Then we struggled against the currents and manoeuvered with some difficulty to join to form again the circle of gay men on floats.

Ditto when we were on the streets.

Even though I have stopped being self conscious about how I act and behave in public, I still find it hard to believe that I was actually doing that in public. My other friends didn't give a damn as well.

There might be some stares from the other passersby but I don't think I noticed because I was having too much fun talking and laughing with them!

Imagine locking your lips arms together with another guy in on the streets in KL or in one of the shopping malls. Like the two of you were walking down the aisle, arm in arm.

I actually don't mind doing it and most probably would, if the other person doesn't mind as well. ;P

But I am not sure, somehow, I feel it is quite unlikely. Strange even. Out of place, if I were to do in KL.

I am not saying that Singapore here is more open-minded or more liberal. Or maybe it is, to the straight couples. I have seen people kissing everywhere, on MRTs or even behind advertisement boards.

And of course, not forgetting this little incident I saw on the MRT.

It's just that well ... showing signs of affection in public in Malaysia seem to be frowned upon.

Many many moons ago, I have written something similar here. Which explains the title post.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bloodshed Diamond

With some resemblance to The Constant Gardener, where it was about how multinationals test research drugs on the people of Africa, Blood Diamond is about how the illegal smuggling of diamonds or conflict diamonds helped to fuel the rebellion and wars in that continent too.

From IMDB:
Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) - a South African mercenary - and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) - a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon - who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields - has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.

Even though that is that is the main storyline, the story also depicts very much about the violence and war in Sierra Leone, where blood or conflict diamonds originate. These are diamonds smuggled out of the country and sold to diamond companies and the money is used to buy weapons to further fueled the wars.

There are many scenes of violence, shooting and how young boys were taken away from the families to be trained to be so-called revolution fighters by these rebels. How they were given drugs and material possessions like CDs and TVs to keep them contented and do what their commanders ordered. The children have to do horrible things and even if they are saved from these "training camps", it takes years for them to recover, like how war veterans suffer something similar.

All these provide the background for something a story about compassion, humanity, love and redemption.

Excellent acting by Leonardo DiCaprio (he is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor) and he thoroughly deserve it. He plays a soldier of fortune of white African descend, Danny Archer, who would do anything for money because there's no other way. He thinks his ticket out of Africa, out of all these killings and wars, is to locate a rare pink diamond, who was found by Solomon.

Solomon, played by Djimon Hounsou (last seen in Eragon), is a father who would do anything to be reunited with his family. His son was taken away by the RFU, a rebel group and trained to kill mercilessly.

Jennifer Connelly plays a supporting role as an American journalist and provides the love interest for the Dicaprio. Her role is also important as the journalist who exposed the illegal trade of a diamond company which purchased conflict diamonds and mixed them with legal diamonds to be sold worldwide.

It's amazing how the producers managed to weave a wonderful story and yet to convey the message about conflict diamonds. The gritty realism is sometimes, well ... too real. The sufferings of the common people in any war, the merciless and senseless killings of the masses BY children to do such things ... it really is sick and yet this was and is still happening in some countries.

Go watch the movie for an enjoyable two hours plus of action, human drama and a man's love for his family. Watch it to see how senseless violence can be. A emotional roller coaster ride for me. I cried buckets a little towards the end, no thanks to some emotional manipulation Hollywood-style, though still heart moving for its portrayal.

How could God forgive us for all the the things (violence) we do to each other. But then, God has left this place a long time ago. In a continent so rich in culture and history, where the first humans come from, it is sad that it is still a humanitarian disaster.

I rate it a 4.25 out of 5.

P/S For some information about the actual situation, please go here. It might help to provide some background information for the movie.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Short recap of 2006

2006 has come and gone. It seemed to have whizzed pass just like that.

Time seemed like to have passed by faster since I came to Singapore. It felt like only yesterday that I was with family and friends back in KL.

Since I arrived, nothing of significance has happened. It has been mostly work and more work.

Of course, I have made some wonderful friends here. And I have known them for less than two months. The past two months have been the most eventful; more things have happened than the six months before that.

The times I had with CF seemed so distant, seemed so long ago. The good and bad, the sweet and sour, they are but a memory that I will always hold dear.

So basically, 2006 was marked by my new job in a foreign country and a significant other who came into and went away from my life.

I still can't shake the feeling that the year that was seemed the shortest that I ever had in my entire life.

I have stopped making new year resolutions. I mean, time period by years is a good time to take stock but why make it an annual thing only? Resolutions can be made anytime of the year. The important thing is to have a few and to make them come true.

Which is why I am keeping mine very broad.

I just want to be healthy and be able to live life to the fullest. Besides that, I think would be great that I consciously endeavour to appreciate the people around me more and to treat them better.

P/S Would love to reflect more, but haven't had the time to. Been working since last Thursday till about 11pm almost everyday. Drained. Yesterday worked till 1am. My mom screamed when she heard that! LOL

Thursday, January 04, 2007

NY in KL

I have arrived safely back in Singapore, without a need to do a No 2 at the rest stops.

It had been a great break for me. I got to meet up with old friends and get acquainted with new ones.

On New Year's Day itself, McDave organised a gathering for us to kickstart the new year. Thanks so much for calling, texting, pleading and cajoling all these people to come *muacks*

What better way to get 2007 rolling than being surrounded by good friends, delicious food, skanky companions, lots of jokes and merriment and coffee?

The usual suspects were there: McDave, Defiant, Alex, Harvey, Bunny, Clayton and last but not least, William.

Of course I was there too. We were to have lunch at Siam Square, Times Square.

I arrived a little late as I was at KLCC to buy a little belated birthday gift for Alex.

After a quick round of introduction by our real names and not my blog names (as someone said, blogging is soooo 2006!), we got around to catching up with what's going on in our lives. For the somewhat newcomers, more introduction followed (What?!! You're 26? You don't even look 20!)

Everyone got along just fine. A few people couldn't turn up last minute, but it was alright. The number of people was just nice (eight). Good sign, right?

It did take some time for the ice to break a little. Some of us were pretty quiet, either from the previous night's partying (or equivalent) or too shy. I do hope it was the former!

But by the time we finished our meals, everyone seemed to be in a chattier mood. Maybe it was the energy-replenishing food. Or the Thai coffee, which was the restaurant's specialty.

At the time I wasn't feeling so well already. I ordered fried flat noodles with prawns and it came in such huge proportions. I felt bloated, thus I didn't finished everything though. It tasted quite good and would have been more delightful if I was
feeling better.

Bunny was the target of most of our jokes (sorry, dear!) because of his partner-in-crime, which coincidentally wasn't there. Strapping Shane was strapped at home, no? He needs lessons in .... OK, I think I better stop before Bunny starts chomping me!

After lunch, we didn't know have anything planned. We wanted to watch a movie, but of course tak jadi if we didn't make reservations earlier because one, it was a public holiday and two, it was a public holiday.

What do a bunch of gay men do then?

We headed to Borders and then dropped by at the Underwear Shop for a bit. Alex and Defiant complained that the shop doesn't bring in new designs fast enough. It's the same old same old. Where's the 2007 designs?

By this time, Bunny had to make a hop as he needed to go to Melaka for dinner with grandparents.

The next best thing to do was to head for Starbucks. Naturally, all the ones in Times Square are packed, which of course would cramp our very loud and fabulous selves.

So we crossed the street and went to the one there instead. Which was practically empty save two other people.

We talked more about everything under the sun - movies, travel, breast cancer, penis size, etc.

Oh wait, I just realised we didn't talk about a popular favourite topic - cute guys. How strange is that?

I left at six with William. Harvey left too. The rest went on to do some shopping and movies, which you can read from their blogs.

It was all great fun. Even though nothing concrete came out of it, but that's not the point. It's all about catching up, chatting, enjoying ourselves and most of all, drawing us closer together as friends.

And we can't have too many friends, can we?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year 2007

I am blogging from home, in KL.

I usually spend New Year's eve away from the crowd, away from the countdown. Not a fan of crowds and sweaty bodies and body odour. And don't you say clubs because that doesn't count; I don't think anyone stands within inches of your face in clubs, unless that guy is your boyfriend!

Someone was kind and generous enough to take me out to watch fireworks at KLCC, but the location to look at them was from Bangsar. It was a nice and quiet way to usher in the new year; watching fireworks from afar, with an Oreo McFlurry in hand!


Wishing everyone a blessed 2007. May everything that is good come your way!

P/S Not sure whether I am getting more used to Singapore food or what (I hope not!) but I seem to visit the bathroom more often since I came back! :(