Friday, September 30, 2005

Rendezvous with Raffles

With one night and one day to go, I decided to visit my old haunts. Never mind that I still have a mild fever and flu since yesterday. After a quick dinner at Lucky Plaza, where I met a couple of former colleagues from Manila, I proceeded to Raffles Place. Once you get out of the station, you're surrounded by some of Singapore's tallest buildings. Somewhere near the UOB Plaza is a sculpture by Salvador Dali called Homage to Newton. Go through the buildings and you end up at the mouth of Singapore River. This spot affords a great view of the restaurants along Boat Quay, the Asian Civilizations Museum, Sir Raffles' Landing Site, and Fullerton Hotel. To your right, you'll see Botero's Bird - so round and plump.

Continue to your right and you'll pass by Cavenaugh Bridge. My cabbie tells me that Cavenaugh Bridge is originally patterned after London Bridge, which can be raised an lowered to allow tall ships to pass through. (Or was he referring to Tower Bridge?) Anyway, the bridge was named after Orfeur Cavenaugh, who was appointed as Governor of the Straits Settlements by the East India Company in 1859. The bridge was built in 1867 to commemorate the establishment of the Straits Settlement as a crown colony. To your right is the magnificent Fullerton Hotel, which used to be the General Post Office building. Further down is Anderson Bridge, constructed between 1908-1910 and named after Sir John Anderson, Governor of the Straits Settlements (1904-11) and High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States. It was built because Cavenaugh Bridge can't handle the increasing traffic. If you go back to Cavenaugh, there's a notice which states: "The use of this bridge is prohibited to any vehicle of which the laden weight exceeds 3cwt. and to all cattle and horse."

From Anderson Bridge, cross the road, go down a flight of stairs, and you'll end up in Merlion Park. There's a mini-Merlion facing inland, and behind it is the real Merlion facing out to the bay with a stream of water gushing out of its mouth. From here, you can see the whole of Esplanade quite nicely.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Peranakan Dinner

After so many trips to Singapore, this is the first time I've had a Peranakan dinner. From what I was told, Peranakan (aka Straits Chinese) is a term used to refer to Malaysian Chinese or Chinese Malaysian. I took the MRT to Yio Chu Kang, then walked to my friend's flat in Castle Green. From there, we took a bus to Bukit Timah, then dinner at Ivins. A typical Peranakan dinner would probably consist of crabmeatball soap, honey pork, prawns with spinach in ginger sauce, and rice because that's what we ordered. Turns out my friend is allergic to crustaceans so I had to finish most of the dishes. For dessert, we went to another place (actually a kopitiam), and we ordered durian prata and ginger tea - only because I've never tried them before. Not too bad, but probably not the right combination.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Shall We Dansu? in My New Shoes?

First saw this movie (Shall We ダンス?)many years ago during a Japanese filmfest in Manila. Can't say what drew me to it. Is it because I took social dancing classes before in university? Or maybe I found the idea of a shy, timid loner accountant getting close to his unreachable dream girl appealing? Anyway, since then I've been searching for a copy of Shall We Dansu? (Don't even mention that American remake to me.) The counterfeit video stalls in Paranaque don't have it, neither do the DVD shops in Funan. So I was quite relieved to find it in the video shop of Best Denki on the top floor of Takashimaya. Also bought a VCD of The Iron Ladies, which is about a team of mostly gay Thai volleyball players, who went through a lot of difficulties and eventually won the national championship.

What else did I buy? Two cans of almond cookies and pineapple tarts, some cool daylight bayonet-type fluorescent bulbs, and a pair of Nautica Hydro loafers.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Albert Goes to Melaka

Dutch SquareAt the center of the Melaka old town is the Dutch Square. At the center of the square is Queen Victoria's Fountain. Surrounding the square are the Malaysia Youth Museum, Christ Church, and the Stadthuys - all of them in bright salmon pink. Off to one side is a clock tower (also in the same color scheme) called the Tan Beng Seng Clock Tower. Beside it is a big cannon. Due to time constraints, I concentrated on the Stadthuys. A fine example of Dutch architecture, the Stadthuys was built in 1650 as the official residence of the Dutch Governor. StadthuysIt now houses the Historic and Ethnography Museum. The entry ticket is actually a 5-in-1. Once inside Stadthuys, you also have access to the Governors Museum, the Democratic Government Museum, the Literature Museum, and another one which I already forgot. The museums are not really that nice - just some paintings and artifacts and metalware and pottery and mannequins in traditional clothes and old books, etc. I walked through most of the museums in half an hour or so.

St. Paul's ChurchAtop St. Paul's Hill is the ruins of St. Paul's Church. It was first built in 1521 by Portuguese Captain Duerte Coelho, and was originally called Our Lady of the Hill. This church was later enlarged into two storeys and a tower was added. A' FamosaWhen the Dutch came, they renamed it as St. Paul's Church and used it as a place of worship until Christ Church was completed. It is said that St. Francis Xavier used to visit the church. He was later enshrined in the open grave in 1553 before being shipped to Goa, India. The church fell into ruin, and was used to store gunpowder by the Dutch and the British. Inside the church are still tombstones with Latin/Portuguese/Dutch(?) inscriptions on them. Outside, a statue of St. Francis stands guard with his right arm missing. On the grounds of the church lie many graves of Dutch noblemen. Proclamation of Independence MemorialAt the base of the hill are the ruins of A' Famosa. When the Portuguese captured Melaka in 1511, they built a fortress to protect themselves. It sustained heavy damage during the Dutch invasion, and would've been totally demolished by the British had Sir Raffles not stepped in in 1808. Further off are the Malacca Sultanate Palace and the Proclamation of Independence Memorial.

Dutch GravesIt was getting late, so I had to force myself to face the issue of getting back to Singapore. After asking a few people, I found some buses at the back of this shopping mall. I got on one of them, and fortunately it brought me back to Melaka Sentral. I went to the ticket counters to find that most bus tickets to Singapore have been sold out for the day. (A lot of Malaccans go to Singapore for work.) Worse, I don't have enough ringgits on me for the fare. Maritime MuseumI went to the information booth, and the lady informed me that the money changers have all gone home. If I want to change my SGD, I have to go to the city. But I don't have money to the city, and I wouldn't even know how! She then suggested I go to one of the booths, which might be able to help. And help me they did. Due to increased demand, that particular bus company decided to field another bus, and yes, they accept SGD. I was so relieved to be on the bus, I didn't even mind my talkative seatmate. Come to think of it, that's 10 hours of travel time (round-trip) and two hours of actual sightseeing. Bah!

(Hopelessly) Lost in Malacca

En Route to MalaccaOf course I know that buses to Malacca leaves every hour on the hour, and the earlier I get to Malacca, the more time I have to explore the city. However, being the optimistic procrastinator that I am, I woke up late, so I go: "At least that means I have an extra hour to enjoy my buffet breakfast." By 8:30am, I was running along Orchard to get to the MRT station. I got to Lavender by 8:45am. The 10-min. walk to the bus station became a 5-min. sprint. "A ticket for the 9am bus to Malacca please." "The 9am bus has been cancelled. Next bus leaves at 10." WHAT?! Cancelled? "Yeah, no one made bookings for 9am." What does that make of me then? I was short of breath, and the look on the lady's face assured me the cancellation is going to remain a fact, so I let it go.

En Route to MalaccaThis tourist originally thought that since Malacca is so close and no visa is required, maybe the passport is optional. Ah, don't we all love naive tourists. At the Malaysian border, everyone had to get off the bus, go through immigration, then back to the bus. Repeat at the Malaysian border. By 1pm, we made a pit stop at this roadside depot. And this is going to be the first of my many misfortunes: I don't have a single Malaysian ringgit on me. It's true that I'm not tempted by the food they're serving or the fake CDs and VCDs they're selling, but that's not the point. Good thing the lady at the groceries section also sidelines as a money changer. Her rate is S$1=RM2. She obviously knows I'm one of them tourists, so I'm thinking, "Is she ripping me off?" Of course I can use my mobile to browse, but that would rude. S$10 then, I said. Thinking back now, she must be pretty amused.

En Route to MalaccaThe bus arrived at Melaka Sentral around 3pm. I started worrying again because 3pm doesn't give me much time to explore Melaka. But I've got a bigger problem - I don't want to go to Melaka Sentral; I want to go to the Melaka old town, where the tourists are, where the old churches are; not another bus station! I assessed the situation, and it's not looking good. I'm not where I thought I'm going. I don't have a description of where I'm going. I don't even know exactly where I am. Malacca TrishawsThe Melaka old town could be just a few hundred meters away or it could be another hour's drive. Worse, I have no idea how to get back to Singapore as the bus drove away in a puff after dropping everyone off. Some of the locals must have sensed my fear, as they started approaching me with the international greeting, "Teksi? Teksi?" Yeah, right. Like you're not gonna take me on a wild-goose ride and demand me to pay double the normal rate as the meter is broken, even though my destination is just next door.

Malacca QuaysideThe thing that every tourist need to know is never give any hint that you're lost, clueless, or afraid. Walk in a direction as if you know where you're going, even if it leads to the washroom. Technically, I can ask around until I find a local who understands English, and get him/her to help me, but that's going to give me away as a lost/clueless/afraid tourist, so I didn't. It's just my luck that I spotted this Japanese tourist carrying a backpack almost as tall as she. She got on this beat-up, decrepit bus, so I followed. I didn't even tell the bus conductor where I'm going because I have no idea. I simply handed him a bill - hoping that he'll give me back my change if there's any left or that he won't berate me if it's not enough because I wouldn't understand him. Turns out the fare to wherever I'm going is a measly 80 RM cents, which is good. The bus is jampacked with people. There's no airconditioning. Most of the metal surfaces are rusty. The windows have bars. Somewhere, someone is smoking. I would've liked to get out my camera and take a few shots of the places where passing through, but I didn't feel safe enough to do so.

Later on the bus ride, I spied the Japanese girl taking out her travel guide and staring at some maps, and I start worrying again. We pass by a busy plaza with lots of tourists, which eased my mind a bit. Worst case, I can always jump off the bus, then walk back. A few hundred meters away at a shopping mall, some locals got off. Both of us followed suit. I introduced myself to the girl and asked her if she knew where she's going. No such luck. She said she's looking for her hotel in Chinatown. We eventually managed to get proper directions for Chinatown, and we parted ways at the plaza we passed by earlier. At 3:30pm, I start my tour of Melaka.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Chinatown in Singapore

The MajesticYes, Virginia, there is a Chinatown in Singapore. And no, it doesn't encompass the whole Singapore.

My tour of the area starts from the Chinatown MRT station. Right across the street is Yue Hwa Chinese Products emporium, which used to be the Great Southern Hotel. Said to be the first hotel in Singapore to have passenger elevators. Right beside it is The Majestic. Pagoda StreetIt's now a shopping mall, but it used to be called the Tin Yin Dance Stage. Local tycoon Eu Tong Sen built it for his wife after another opera house refused her entry. (Ah, to be rich.)

From New Bridge Road, take a left to Pagoda Street, which is the mail shopping alley. Shops and stalls offer everything from souvenir items to Chinese crafts to CDs/DVDs to toys and trinkets, etc. This is also where the Chinatown Heritage Center is. It's sort of a like a museum on the local history with recreated rooms and video displays depicting how life was then in old Chinatown. Sri Mariamman TempleAt the end of Pagoda Street is the Sri Mariamman Temple. Said to be Singapore's oldest, it is built in 1827 and dedicated to the Mother Goddess, Sri Mariamman. I usually get Sri Veeramakaliamman and Sri Mariamman confused as their facades are very similar. There are bells on the front door. As devotees enter the temple, they ring the bells to make their wishes come true. To the left the temple is Masjid Jamae. Notice that the structure is not aligned to the grid of the street. That's because it is facing Mecca, as all mosques do.

Chinatown Food StreetFurther down is Smith Street, more popular known as Chinatown Food Street. The food stalls open from 3pm to 11pm during weekdays, but starting from Friday, they close later at 1am. At the corner of Smith and Trengganu is Lai Chun Yuen, a former Cantonese opera house. Famous opera singers from China and Hong Kong would perform here during its heyday. Across the intersection is the Chinatown Complex, Market and Food Centre - part hawker center, part wet market. Trishaw ParkFollow Sago Street and you'll end up at Kreta Ayer Square. Formerly a market square, this is now where the old-timers hang out. Also in the square is the Trishaw Park, where you can hire a trishaw for S$36 for a memorable tour of Chinatown.

Telok Ayer GreenTwo temples not to be missed in Chinatown is the Al-Abrar Mosque and the Thian Hock Keng Temple. After all that sightseeing, take a break at the nearby Telok Ayer Green. Enjoy the shade and the sculptures.

Little India

Little India Art's BeltToday is supposed to be Malacca day, but I sort of got lost finding the bus station after getting off Lavender station. I do have a detailed map drawn by a friend, but some of the street names were mixed-up. Took me an hour before I found the bus station where the Singapore-Malacca Express buses are. By then, it was too late in the day to make the trip. No worries - it only means that tomorrow will be smooth sailing all the way. I decided to explore Little India and Chinatown instead.

Flower Garland ShopNever been to India, but I reckon Little India should be very close to the real thing. Getting off the Little India MRT station, the place is just packed with cars and people. Indians outnumber the Chinese 50:1. (Just my own estimate; don't quote me on that.) Beside the station is the Tekka Market, filled with stalls selling household items, bargain clothes and shoes, fresh vegetables and meats. Next stop is Little India's Arts Belt along Kerbau Road. Here you'll find Art Deco-style shophouses selling Indian crafts, jewelry, traditional clothes, textiles, flower garlands, etc.

Masjid Abdul GafoorThere are two mosques that are quite famous in Little India: Masjid Abdul Gafoor and Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Masjid Abdul Gafoor is quite impressive with its Moorish-Islamic architectural style and its yellow-and-green color scheme. At the entrance is a sunburst design with 25 rays donating the names of the 25 chosen Prophets. Remember to take off your shoes before approaching the mosque - something which I don't suggest on a sunny day as the polished floor can burn your bare feet. (I'm speaking from experience here.) Sri Veeramakaliamman TempleWhen I got to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, it was still closed. (The temple is closed from 12:30pm to 4pm daily.) The temple is dedicated to Kali, Goddess of Power and incarnation of Lord Shiva's wife. Tuesdays and Fridays are when the temple is at its most active. For now, I have to be content with taking pictures of the main facade.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Authentic Chinese Dinner

Tonight I take a break from my duties and responsibilities as a tourist and have a quiet dinner with a friend. We were supposed to meet up at the Watson's outlet at Suntec. Turns out it was closed for renovation. Good thing I was able to locate it. We went around the Suntec Fountain Terrace looking for a good restaurant. The air outside was so warm, I started sweating again. I decided on this Chinese restaurant (without looking at the menu) just to escape the heat. I mean, it's a Chinese restaurant, what can go wrong?

For one, none of the staff speak English, and they were asking/telling us things which I can't understand. I dug deep into my broad knowledge of Mandarin, and said, "Hao, hao." The restaurant is authentic Chinese. I can tell because the menu is only two pages, instead of the 10-page booklet from the Hong Kong restaurants. You make your choices, then make tick marks on the order form, which comes in triplicate. I was surprised when the bill came. Three dishes, rice and dessert amounted to more than S$50. That's quite expensive if you ask me. My friend insisted on paying the bill, instead of splitting it. No problem, my turn next time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Singapore Night Safari

Been to the award-winning Night Safari before, but I distinctly remembering it was no fun. I and a colleague followed some walking trails. There were some signs indicating what animals were nearby, but we didn't see any. There were tigers and lions and leopards behind thick glass, but they're all nodding off. Since then, a lot of people have told me that it's great, so I decided to go again this time and try to change my impression.

The place opens at 7:30pm. I got there 8pm for an early start. First thing I noticed upon entering is this long queue of people waiting for the tram rides. The tram follows a 3.2-km trail that traverses the whole park. Now, why didn't I notice this before? Anyway, the 45-minute tram ride alone is worth the entrance fee of S$18. You get to see the nocturnal animals up close and personal in their natural environments. Passengers are advised not to use flash photography as this will disturb the animals. I had to switch my digital camera to night mode, which ups the ISO level, resulting in grainy, noisy pictures. If you look closely, you can still see the animals though.

I headed straight for the Creatures of the Night show after the tram ride. The show repeats every hour, but it's always jam-packed. A pair of binturongs opened the show by walking across a thick vine tightrope. They must be really hungry because they kept salivating. Next are the owls soaring above the heads of the crowd. A member of the audience was called onto the stage to play with the racoon. He (the racoon) was able to point out which closed fist is holding a grape. Quite neat. Best part of the show are these environmentalist otters. During the demonstration, they would pick up plastic bottles and cans with their two hands and drop then into the proper recycling bins. One of the small-clawed otter by the name of Pedro is actually "adopted" by Nokia. (A word from our sponsor.)

Spent the rest of the evening walking the leopard, forest giants, and fishing cat trails. Not much people around, so it wasn't that fun. And my digicam's no good in low-light conditions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Tonight I went back to Funan to check out some digital cameras. They're cheaper here than Sydney, but even so those digital SLRs are still quite expensive! Doubled back to the City Hall MRT station where I took some pictures of St. Andrew's Cathedral. It's grounds have been under redevelopment for like years now. So I passed through City Link Mall and ended up at Suntec City Mall. The shops start to close at 9pm, so I went to Marina Square next. The whole place is being renovated, so there's not much to see, unless you're into renovations and stuff. Ordered a meal of mixed meat noodle just before the food court closed. Would've preferred my favourite chicken rice, but all the other food outlets have closed already. Finished off the night with pictures of the Esplanade and the Merlion Park.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Training in Shopping

One good thing about working in a multinational company is somehow it makes the world feel smaller. Doesn't matter which country you're based or where you go for training, you tend to meet the same people. Our instructor used to be based in Espoo, and he's been living in Singapore for three years now. One of my classmates is the same guy I worked with in Kuala Lumpur a year ago. Another classmate flew in from Sydney for today's 1-day course. And there's this girl who's my classmate 5 years ago under the same instructor, I think. Small world, indeed.

The day went by pretty fast. By 6:30pm, I'm back on Orchard Road doing my tourist thing. Spent the whole night browsing the shops at Funan IT Mall. LaserLight and Sembawang on the ground floor are good places to look for CDs and DVDs. There are other shops out there selling cheaper CDs, but they're dodgy. I'm not saying they're fakes - there are no counterfeit CDs anymore in Singapore. Sim Lim Square reformed a long time ago. What those cheap CDs are, they are original fakes. The CDs are original all right, but not the singers. Get my drift?

Another good CD shop is Gramophone CD along North Bridge Road. Wide selection of normal and audiophile CDs and DVDs. I was on my way back to the hotel when I chanced upon That CD Shop. Yes, that cd shop. They carry lots of imported CDs and the genres range from techno to house to lounge to chill-out to Latin to jazz to fusion. The salesladies are very knowledgeable about their music and quite helpful and friendly, too. I, um, ah, didn't buy any though. They have branches in Pacific Plaza, Tanglin Mall, and Great World City if you're interested in the salesladies, I mean, CDs.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I Want My Broadband!

There's only three things I look for in a hotel room: a working thermostat, a comfortable bed, and free broadband. Too bad Royal Plaza on Scotts doesn't offer the last one. There's an in-room vault, but who would want to steal my Philippine passport. The free mini-bar is a nice touch, but I prefer to stay away from beer and softdrinks. The welcome chocolates are great. Looks like I'm only welcome on the first day, as they didn't replenish them the next day. There is ample lighting, the TV platform swivels, and the hair dryer is kept in the office table drawer. I could never figure that one out.

An hour later, being the quintessential tourist, I'm already prowling the streets. Some tips for fellow tourists out there:

  • Familiarize yourself with the hotel surroundings. Note the street names - might come in handy if ever you get lost. (In Singapore?!)
  • Get yourself an EZ-Link card - works on the MRT, buses, and even in McDonald's and some cafes.
  • Make the Singapore Visitors Centre your first stop. Get your fill of street maps and brochures on the latest events and happenings.
  • Check out the shops, get a feel for what you want to buy, but don't make any purchases yet. Who knows? Prices might go down the next few days or the shop next door could be selling it cheaper.
  • Wear the lightest of clothing. It's always hot and humid in Singapore. I would've gone out in shorts and singlet, but I'm not too sure if there's a fine for that or not.

My Cabbie Is a Tour Guide

I don't know why, but every time I come to Singapore I take the airport shuttle bus which is shared among 6 to 7 people, instead of taking my own taxi. It's true that the fare is cheaper at S$7, but it's not really the point - the company pays for the transportation costs anyway. Just a habit, I guess. Now, this taxi driver we got is a talkative one. By the time we got to the city, he has already interviewed us - where we're from and what we're doing in Singapore. He also gave us a short background of Singapore's history and a few important facts and figures.

Did you know that:

  • Singapore has a total area of about 700 sq. m.
  • It's about 130 kms. from the equator, which explains its tropical climate.
  • It was founded by Sir Raffles about 200 years ago.
  • Population is about 4.4 million - 75% Chinese, 18% Malay, 5% Indian, and others.
  • 80% of the people lives in HDB flats. Don't ask me what HDB stands for, but it's government-subsidized apartment units.
  • A 3BR unit would cost around S$150k; a 4BR unit is around S$250k, while a 5BR one will set you back by S$350k. A condominium unit is around S$500k. If you've got money to spare, landed property starts at S$1.5M.
  • Most of Singapore's highways are flanked by raintrees, also called the 5pm tree because it's leaves fold up during that time. When its leaves fall off, they shrivel and shrink, and are easily carried away by wind.

SQ Movie Marathon

What do you do when you're strapped onto your seat for 8 hours with no mobile, no laptop, and no PDA? Watch movies, of course! As usual, KrisWorld has quite a good selection of regular Hollywood fare, art films, and a mix of HK/Korean/Japanese/Bollywood movies. I was feeling adventurous, so I went for Hollywood.

Liked the jokes and the banter, but this is not a movie you're likely to watch again. The animation is good enough, but nothing groundbreaking. The voice talents are great, except that they are so distinctive, I'm actually "seeing" Ben Stiller and Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett-Smith when their characters talk. The plot's a bit thin - makes you feel like it's really a half-hour TV episode peppered with jokes and situational comedy to make it a full-length film.

I especially liked the penguins. They still walk funny and flap their wings. Who would've thought they break out of zoos, know karate, commandeer ships, etc? And the lemurs dancing to "Move It" are so funny.

Now this is the romantic comedy for me. Aside from the few interracial stereotypes and contrived ending, I quite liked the film.

Story is about this anonymous Date Doctor called Hitch who advises shy geeks on how to win the girl of their dreams. Hitch will be your personal trainer for the first three dates, where he'll teach you everything you need to know to make a good impression on your target. From then on, you're on your own. So Hitch gets this fat tax accountant called Albert as his client, who has his eyes on celebrity socialite Allegra Cole. It's almost certainly mission impossible, but Hitch probably feels it's a challenge. Hitch walks Albert through the tricks of the love trade - from playing hard-to-get to dancing to kissing. Everything's coming up roses, but little does Hitch know that his new love interest Sara, who's a gossip reporter for a tabloid, is on to him. In a way, she felt Hitch was playing "the game" with her, so she makes an expose - and all hell breaks lose. Now every woman in New York who has met her husband in highly coincidental ways wants to know if Hitch is somehow involved.

This being Hollywood, all loose ends are quickly and happily tied up. Taking a cue from Albert, Hitch makes a big fool of himself in front of Sara, and that's how he won her affections back.

Some choice quotes from the movie:

  • You cannot use what you don't have. She wants the real you. It's your job not to mess it up. Listen to what she's saying and respond.
  • 8 out of 10 women believe that the first kiss will tell them everything they need to know about a relationship.
  • Life is not how many breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away.
  • Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.
  • Basic Principles - no matter what, no matter when, no matter who... any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet; he just needs the right broom.
  • Relationships are for people who are waiting for something better to come along.
  • Basic Principles - no woman wakes up saying "God, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today!" Now, she might say "This is a really bad time for me," or something like "I just need some space," or my personal favorite "I'm really into my career right now." You believe that? Neither does she. You know why? 'Cause she's lying to you, that's why. You understand me? Lying! It's not a bad time for her. She doesn't need any space. And she may be into her career, but what she's really saying is "Uh, get away from me now," or possibly "Try harder, stupid," but which one is it? 60% of all human communication is nonverbal, body language; 30% is your tone, so that means 90% of what you're saying ain't coming out of your mouth. Of course she's going to lie to you! She's a nice person! She doesn't want to hurt your feelings! What else she going to say? She doesn't even know you... yet. Luckily, the fact is that just like the rest of us, even a beautiful woman doesn't know what she wants until she sees it, and that's where I come in. My job is to open her eyes. Basic Principles - no matter what, no matter when, no matter who... any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet; he just needs the right broom.
  • So how does it happen, great love? Nobody knows... but what I can tell you is that it happens in the blink of an eye. One moment you're enjoying your life, and the next you're wondering how you ever lived without them.
Gosh, it's movies like this that gives hope to ageing bachelors everywhere.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith
This movie is probably for people who'd like to see for themselves if there is really something going on between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Well, I've been a bit behind my gossip columns and women's magazines, so I decided to go for this one. Big mistake. That's another two hours wasted from my lifespan. This movie is just incredible. Not incredible as in "Wow! Great!", but incredible as in, "Who would even think of making this movie?!" What's even more incredible is that this movie made a killing at the box-office. Figure that out.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith spent the first part of the movie ignoring each other - exchanging pleasantries and enjoying home-cooked dinners over a very long table. You would've thought that two married people will be more interested in what their spouses are doing; especially when assassins are supposed to be inquisitive and paranoid by nature. I mean, living in the same house with your spouse for 5 (or was it 6) years, and not having any hint that he/she kills people for a living?! And that scene where Mr. Smith intentionally let a wine bottle slip, and Mrs. Smith caught it in mid-air without even looking. It's crystal clear to everyone then that their covers are blown, but noooo, Mrs. Smith simply dropped the bottle onto the carpet, and the two hypocrites rushed off to get the towel when in fact they were off to get their favorite weapon. Why the pretense when after that incident they spent a good part of the movie hunting each other down?

Ok, so later husband and wife join forces to take down their employers. (How's that for employee loyalty?) This is the part where their on-screen chemistry should start to kick in, but all we get is bickering, bickering, and more bickering. The car chase scene is quite good, but marred by their incessant chit-chat and one-upmanship. And that big showdown at the department store - Mr. and Mrs. Smith were being bombed at and shot at by scores and scores of professional killers, but they still managed to kill off everyone without getting hurt. Jeez, I guess love conquers all.

The flight's not long enough for me to finish this movie, but I like it. When I saw Adam Sandler in the cast, I went, "Oh no, not again." Surprisingly, Mr. Sandler toned down his OA antics. Acting by the Mexican housekeeper and her daughter is natural and made the film feel authentic. The chubby daughter in the movie is quite cute - especially when the breaks into her toothy smile complete with shiny braces.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Peter vs. the Wolf

This is another presentation by the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra as part of the Spring Festival celebrations. Note that the title is Peter vs. the Wolf and NOT Peter and the Wolf. An Australian premiere based on Justin Locke's sequel to Prokofiev's musical, and produced together with actors from the Phoenix Theater Productions.

The story continues from where the original left off. The Wolf breaks out from the zoo and ends up in the concert hall. He tells the audience he was framed and proceeds to tell his side of the story. In the courtroom, the Wolf defends himself against charges of first-degree "duckicide" by Peter and the DA. The Willoughby Symphony Orchestra is on hand to provide live accompaniment with different sections of the orchestra representing the cat, the duck, the bird, the wolf, Peter, his Grandfather, etc. During the cross-examination, some orchestra members were even called to the stand to "testify" with their instruments. Educational and entertaining!