Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oscars 2009

The Oscars are finally over. Not many surprises in most of the major acting categories.

I am extremely glad that I managed to catch Slumdog Millionaire last Saturday, just before the Oscars. I could definitely see why it is hugely popular. It is edgy, vibrant and essentially a message of hope.

But it did tug at my heartstrings that Mumbai kids are living in poverty and violence. They are begging and scrimping on food. Preying amongst themselves just to get by. It seems quite impossible for them to escape from poverty and violence in a city of 14 million people.

I had expected Slumdog to win Best Movie, as opposed to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The latter is quite good as well, taking an interesting concept and making it into an engaging story. Brad Pitt was candy to the eyes as he became more yummilicious as he aged.

However, it did feel a little draggy at times. It also had a lot of similarity with Forrest Gump, which is not surprising since both the screenplays were written by the same person.

And Cate Blanchett wasn't even nominated for Best Actress! She was absolutely brilliant and completely outshone Brad Pitt. But Brad Pitt was the one who got nominated for Best Actor pulak.

Of course, Sean Penn fully deserves his second Oscar. Kudos to Dustin Lance Black too for his original screenplay award.

Kate Winslet performance was good in The Reader, but it wasn't that great to win an Oscar. Apparently, she was much better in Revolutionary Road which she wasn't nominated for.

All in all, I am extremely pleased to have watched most of the Oscar-nominated movies. The only two that I have yet to watch is Frost/Nixon and Departures. The latter is the winner for Best Foreign Film and it will be shown next week! Yay!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To be ourselves

I suppose it is easier to live a life when you know what is expected of you. It is much harder to create your own choices and expectations. Takes effort to redefine ones roles and responsibilities.

I do realise that it is not easy to do so either. Many years of social conditioning can do that to people. Things like guys making the first move to ask girls out, girls not encouraged to show affection first; these things confound me.

Of course, if one is happy to live within these rules and boundaries, then it's alright. But when one is not, isn't it time to change?

We have only one life and I believe we should live it the best we could. We should be the captain of our own ship and not let the wind and seas dictate where we go.

Being true to oneself could be difficult especially when we feel obliged to please the people around us or to fulfill their expectations. I have realised that it is pointless to do so. Why live up to other people's standards? Why make others happy when you yourself is not?

It might sound selfish, but isn't there a saying about being liked and accepted for who you are, rather than someone you are not, is much better? Because in the end, the choices that we make or don't make that affect ourselves the most. People around us might prefer that we make another choice, but it is not them that live our lives. We do.

Be true to yourself, and be proud of it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day 2009

Valentine's Day was yesterday (like duh!). I don't find it to be any special compared to other days. Except of course retailers and restaurant owners and everyone else who sells something don't think so.

I seldom credit straight men for their intelligence and Valentine's Day is a huge illustration of that fact. I simply couldn't imagine spending $10 for a stalk of rose. Or pay a meal that is at least 2 to 3 times more expensive than other days.

I was out for gym at 11 in the morning. Had a really good workout and then headed out to Orchard Road. Love wasn't in the air yet; they were still in bed. There wasn't that many people out and about yet. No roses, no pink-wrapped gifts, no matching T-shirts.

I was thinking, "Wow, I could really enjoy this day being outside. No cliche display of mushy lovey dovey affection. Thank God for the economic recession."

I headed to Takashimaya and found that they were having a post-CNY sale. 2xist underwear were selling for $10-$15. There were not many sizes left, but I still managed to grab some.

Then I headed back to California Fitness to meet William. By this time, lovebirds had awaken and they were seen everywhere. The spirit of entrepreneurship (or taking advantage of suckers) was alive as there were stalls selling flowers and teddy bears on the street.

I ignored them.

We headed to Shokudo for lunch, which is like a Japanese Marche. I had the tonkatsu omu rice which was quite good. William had tonkatsu ramen. He also ordered a cold sake. It was my first time having sake. The alcohol taste was strong but it tasted smooth and slightly sweet. I quite like it.

After that I watched The Wrestler, the movie which Mickey Rourke is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. He was pretty good playing the role of a has-been wrestler who tried to escape from his downtrodden life. I quite enjoyed it even though it didn't have a happy ending.

I was supposed to meet the gang at City Hall for dinner, but I was running a bit late. Wanted to eat at the Thai restaurant at Shaw Tower but unfortunately they had closed for the day. We ended up having Vietnamese at the Suntec Convention Center instead.

The plan for Valentine's was to spend time with my dear friends. There is not only romantic love to be thankful for on Valentine's. We had a great time playing board games. We laughed, we had fun and it was indeed a memorable Valentine's. Thanks for coming guys!

Of course, I would have preferred my Valentine to be with me but yeah, I would have to make do. He was deeply missed in my heart.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Hidden trail

I took half day of work a few days ago to go trekking, right in this urban city of Singapore. I wouldn't have thought that the city has something like this to offer, what with the low Bukit Timah as the highest natural ground in Singapore.

I was with PL and her two friends. Our objective was to see the Henderson Wave. It is the tallest pedestrian bridge in Singapore and its shaped like a wave, hence the name.

We started trek started from somewhere near Vivocity, after having lunch at Superdog. As an aside, it was my first time eating at Superdog and I quite like the fish burger that they serve. Oh, their fries come with a beef-and-onion sauce, which I think is similar to the kind of sauce on A&W's coney dog. The fries were lovely when eaten with the sauce.

Anyway, we started with the Marang trail and ended up at Mt Faber. Mt Faber is where the expensive Jewel Box is, which houses a few high-end restaurants that has a wonderful view of the harbour and Sentosa.

View from Mt Faber, at the Jewel Box

The weather was just great with the sun mostly hidden behind clouds. It was a pleasant hike to Mt Faber. It is like trekking in wild forests, but with nicely paved paths. Not quite back to nature where the trail itself would be soil and not tiles or cement.

Some of the fauna which we managed to catch sight of.

The lizard above was pretty well camouflaged on the ground but one of us manage to spot it. Its shiny scales were deceiving; I thought it was a very short snake. But really, it was beautiful and utterly motionless while we were snapping pictures 3 feet away.

Finally we reached Henderson Waves. It looks like the deck of a ship with its wooden floor and sail-like wave design. There was a cool breeze blowing which enhanced the effect of being on a ship.

From Mt Faber to Henderson Wave, it took us about 2 hours as we stopped quite often to take pictures. I was pleasantly surprised by the very existence of this trail. Indeed, one of the hidden gems in Singapore.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sweat the small stuff

Relationships are hard work. Two people, with all their imperfections trying to create something fulfilling, meaningful and mutually beneficial.

No relationship is without its arguments and disagreements. It is how it is solved that matters.

Experts always warn about issues like money, children, chores and other differences in expectations of major issues as main conflict points. But sometimes and possibly quite often too, it is the small things. Little things that no one expect to be an issue become one.

There must exist the commitment to overcome them. That the relationship is more important than issues. Give and take has to occur. Patience, buckets of them, are needed.

Ultimately, communication is key. Problems cannot be solved by keeping quiet. Issues will not go away just because it is not spoken.

For me, I am glad that my relationship has been going well despite some hiccups. There are things which I do not like and do not understand, but I do or not do them because Nyk is happier that way. And he does the same.

Because of that, our relationship continues to grow and strengthen.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

How now, brown cow

I am back in Singapore and tomorrow it's back to work for me, while Nyk has still another day off (it's a replacement public holiday for tomorrow in KL).

My parents was quite worried about my job, what with reports of companies cutting jobs everyday. No wonder they are spooked! Still, I think I am pretty safe. No signs of bad new yet. No new is good news, I suppose.

Still, I understand that there are still vacancies available in my line of work. So it's not as bleak as other industries.

CNY this year has been pretty quiet. I didn't go out much for pai nien as most of my friends have gone back to work on Wednesday itself. It was only Nyk and SK who came for visit on the second day. That's about it.

I also got to savour my favourite pineapple tarts. The traditional ones, not those where the jam is wrapped or covered.

This trip back to KL was quite fruitful, as I got to spend quite a bit of time with Nyk. We went to this restaurant called The Cave, where the interior was designed to look like well ... a cave. It was a pretty interesting concept and it was definitely reflected in the food prices.

We ordered the set lunches. The food was decent, but nothing great.

On Saturday, there was a gathering of my high school friends in the afternoon but unfortunately I was already on the bus ride back to Singapore.

A new start to the working year. Here's wishing everyone a good start to the Year of the Brown Cow, which actually starts this Wednesday.