Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Twilight & The Day The Earth Stood Still

We finally got woke up and out of the house yesterday to catch 2 movies.


Twilight felt so lame. Sigh. I did so want to like it.

The cinema was almost entirely filled with squeeling girls who gasped and twitched whenever Robert Pattinson/Edward Cullen appeared! But what the ... he's so wooden and stiff! I think he was better as a nice, smiley boy in Harry Potter.

I didn't really like the makeup done for the vampires. I liked Kristen Stewart/Bella's though, especially loved her hair.

Strangely, the movie made me want to read the books. I didn't really like the romance part even though it's really The Main Plot. I think the back stories are actually more interesting hahaha, like the feud between the wolves and the vampires. Rehashed but I like the way Stephenie Meyer added the touch about the Indian-wolf connection. I want to find out how it all ends.

Now feeling sorry that I didn't get the books during Kinokuniya's 20% discount period!!! Sheesh.

OMG, how could I forget this? I love the Cullen cars in the movie though. HOHOHO.

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Not an earth-shaking movie but good fun. Good pace, nice special effects.

Beautiful leads.

Keanu Reeves - Gorgeous - Wonderful casting, he's always good in this sort of role that doesn't require much emoting.

Jennifer Connelly - Sooo ethereal - Love her in soft focus - she's gotten so thin - I want to be thin like her - but I don't have the determination - but I want to be like her!

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who features hugely in our lives.

The Doctor Who boxsets I purchased arrived. They were my son's Christmas pressie (as he requested and I happily complied because I wanted them too haha).

Two of us watched them discs one after another. Even episodes that we've seen before, then saved some that we've not seen for the New Year's Day holiday.

I love the immediate connection we have in the shared memories and experiences of Doctor Who episodes. We both love David Tennant and are quite sad when we found out he's going to quit Doctor Who! We even discuss Doctor Who theories and timelines.

Imagine that. It blows my mind.

I can't even get grown adults to talk Doctor Who but my 9 year old can. There must be something good if even Neil Gaiman watches and discusses Doctor Who, so don't go dissing Doctor Who as something childish or mindless that adults couldn't possibly comprehend.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Magazines at Kinokuniya

I went to Kinokuniya on Saturday afternoon and the queues were so long that I decided to come back the next day to get my magazines. I was specifically holding a copy each of the Voce and Maquia Feb 09 issues. It didn't occur to me to reserve them. When I went back early this morning, there was not a single copy of Voce Feb 09 issue in sight and only a few copies of Maquia!

How can magazines disappear so quickly?

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Some New Books

Purchased at the Kinokuniya 20% sale: The Graveyard Book, Anathem and Queen magazine.

Currently reading Sepulchre, which I bought a few months ago. It's an easy read. Will review it when I'm done.


© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Bolt and Madagascar 2

I'm on a weeklong leave now and brought my son out yesterday for movies. We saw Bolt and Madagascar Escape 2 Africa.

Both Bolt and Madagascar 2 provided lots of laughs, good family entertainment and lovely animation. However, we agreed that we prefer Bolt, both for the storyline, the good comic sequences and the "cuteness" factor.

There really isn't much more that can be said, beyond what critics and reviewers have already written. The only recommendation is: If you can only watch one, go for Bolt. I personally liked how they captured the essence of animal behaviour in the animation.

In Bolt, it seemed like the animals were the main focus, meaning, they retained animal characteristics and did not become too humanised. I felt this was an improvement over the latest animal animation where the animals were like humans dressed up as animals. In the longer past, for shows like 101 Dalmations or even The Lady and The Tramp, animals retained animal characteristics and seemed less human. However in comparison, shows like Madagascar, made the animals, like the Lion seem too human, eg. walk on 2 legs too often and smile in human ways, that they lose the sense of being an animal.

Oh-oh I didn't expect to talk so much about the difference between an animal that looks like an animal who happens to be able to "talk" and an animal that seems like a human dressed up as an animal ...

I'm just often worried that people don't quite understand what I mean. It's hard to express certain ideas sometimes.

Anyway, if you get a chance to watch Bolt, let me know what you think?

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Plague

I bought this VCD on Saturday at SG$5 for some cheap entertainment and watched it last night.

In this show, children all over the world were suddenly attacked by fits and fell into a coma for 10 years, then woke up and started killing all the adults. There's no explanation for why the children fell into a coma or why they had to kill all the adults or why at the end of the show, the sacrifice of one man made them all stop the killing.

There were some good shocks but other than that, the movie was a lousy immitation of the usual zombie movies. It tried to do a little more by putting in some extra messages about love and how to bring up children but it was not developed properly. While I do like movies that give clues and let the viewer think for himself, this movie tried but failed to do that.

So, overall, it's such a silly show. Besides the senseless script, the acting is wooden and the special effects so terrible for a show made in 2006.

The movie is supposed to be based on something Clive Barker wrote or something inspired by him, but I can't tell how much influence he really had in this movie because it really was so bad.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Magazine Haul

On Thursday, a magazine distribution company set up a temporary stall at our office building and sold magazines at a discount. My colleague Big Star and I started looking at the magazines before lunch and couldn't decide, so went back again after lunch.

Although it was cheap, $10 for 3 magazines, I couldn't decide if I should get so many. In the end, we stood there dithering for so long that the seller decided to give us a further discount as he was packing up to leave.

While these magazines aren't as full of infotainment value as the Taiwanese or Japanese mags, it's a nice stack of leisure reading at a great price. I ended up with 9 fashion and food magazines and one yoga journal.


© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Doctor Who Discs

The New Doctor Who DVD box sets are on sale at Amazon at almost half the original price.

We already have Season 1 discs, have seen all of Season 2 and are still watching Season 3 on BBC Entertainment channel on cable. So, with all my Christmas pressie and personal makeup, skincare, shoes, bags, clothes, and electronic device lists, I am wondering whether I should even buy those discs!

They are so tempting though ... so many wants and such limited cash ...

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Monday, 24 November 2008


We stayed up to watch Vexille on Octo last night.

The way the storyline unfolded in stages, together with enough action sequences, kept me piqued and keen to continue staying up to watch. I liked the art work with surreal and beautiful scenes.

Here's a Wiki link to the plot summary of Vexille, but I'd say not to read it, but watch the anime first so that the story reveals itself slowly to you.

The only misgiving I had about this was the key premise for the entire show, which is also the turning point that reveals the main "secret". I felt it's an unrealistic one, as in why did "It" have to done to everyone?

Other than that, I felt it was an entertaining anime, worth staying up late to watch.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

The Woods are Dark & Out are the Lights, Richard Laymon

I read about The Woods are Dark at a blog that discussed the newly-released full original version of the book, which is filled with gratuious sex and violence that were edited out in the previous editions.

Not wanting to spend money and storage space on such a "trashy" book, I went to the local library to borrow it. I found a 2-in-1 edition, which also included another book of short stories, Out are the Lights, by the same author

The Woods are Dark is sufficiently fast-paced, gory and freaky, but I'm thinking it's the censored version that I read because I was shocked at several parts but it wasn't ever really too stomach churling. I wish the library has the new uncensored version for a frightening read.

As for the short story collection, Out are the Lights, not all the stories are well-written and some are actually quite corny, but there are a few gems in the collection.

Overall, these 2 books are easy and quick reads for light, scary amusement.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 31 August 2008


I'm watching the last episode of the last season of Angel, like, right now. Sob! I don't want it to end! I was glad to see Connor return for the final episodes to wrap things up. Haha, Connor's script had him lusting after Illyria and a line that goes, "I have a thing for older women..." Funny. Another older woman. Well, sob sob sob, the end of the Angel Fest. Never fear! I'm starting on Buffy tomorrow. Glad I have all 7 Seasons in my collection to indulge.

Some favourite/wonderful acting moments in the final season:

  • Wesley and Fred in love
  • Fred's death
  • Wesley's death
  • Connor
  • Angel as a puppet
  • Angel and Spike fighting

Most favourite, I think was Willow meeting Fred. Gawd! They are so alikey! LOL.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Thoughts on Angel

I'm currently watching Angel on DVD and I'm into the last season now.

It's so strange that though Season 4 was mostly "turgid supernatural soap-opera" (to quote Gunn in Season 4), I miss some elements that made it a family-romance soap opera - basically the Cordelia-Connor and Wesley-Lilah pairings. These 2 couples have such a lovely-weird chemistry.

Wesley and Lilah are so good together, I actually like Lilah very much! I was so happy to see her return for an episode in Season 5.

Connor and Cordelia are so weird, so absolutely weird, mainly because Charisma Carpenter looks older than her age and Vincent Kartheiser is extremely young-boyish in appearance. So even though they are 9 years apart in real-life age (1979 versus 1970), they look like they have a 20-year age gap between them onscreen. But I find they have more chemistry than Angel and Cordelia.

Both these couples are taken off the story-line in Season 5, and though Spike is back (I love Spike), I find I'm missing Connor and Lilah so badly. I'm also going to miss watching Angel!

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Monday, 25 August 2008

The End

So, we wake
from the dream.
The end of an era.

Hope, it's such a
frightening thing
that keeps you alive
as the tiger slowly
gnaws at your limbs.

But, the heart
that is weary,
ripped out of its home,

knows full well,
it's time to stop beating
to the rhythm of a song
that's no longer playing.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Friday, 8 August 2008


So, we'll know tomorrow.
What's there left to fear?
My spirit, anaesthetized by time,
has already let you go.

Anything's better than this limbo,
it's time to stop singing
Deception's sweet lullaby.

Peel away the putrid veil
and restore the bleeding inner eye.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 3 August 2008


How do you say "I'll miss you"
To a person you hardly know?
An emotion that seems
a figment of the imagination.

Seek solace in the fact that
moments together were few
and words spoken, trivial.

Only a brief scent of the perfume
that lingers from the wearer who casts
but a shadow that does not abide.

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Swamp Thing

Mired in the swamp
of inexplicable misery,
Luxuriating, immobile
the slow swirl.
Not even trying to get out.

Waiting for something.
A crocodile?
Come on, drown!

But it's too shallow.
Can't put the head under the water,
Not made of that
sort of stern

© Copyright. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

End of Once Upon A Time Challenge II

The Once Upon A Time Challenge II has ended and Carl has generously posted a wonderful set of gifts for a lucky winner to be drawn from the list of participants who completed the challenges. While it would be nice to win the prize, I also participated because it gave me a goal and made me read when I would otherwise procrastinate picking up my storybooks.

To review, here's the criteria for Quest the First for the Once Upon A Time Challenge II:

"Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time
criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or
mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres."

My completed reading list:
    1. Vellum, Hal Duncan
    2. Lyra’s Oxford, Philip Pulman
    3. My Sword Hand is Singing, Marcus Sedgwick
    4. Book of Dead Days, Marcus Sedgwick
    5. The Golden Compass, Philip Pulman

I am now reading The Subtle Knife, and will complete the entire Dark Materials trilogy before I attempt a review of the 3 books.

Monday, 19 May 2008


I watched Cloverfield. It was so achingly bad that I was compelled to continue watching it.

Very funny dialogue:

A: "What is that?"
B: "It's that terrible


A: "What the hell was that?"
B: "I don't know,
something else, also terrible!".


Monday, 21 April 2008

The Book of Dead Days, Marcus Sedgwick

The Book of Dead Days has been variously described in online reviews as "fast-paced", "spell-binding", "chilling" and "suspenseful". It was nominated for the Guardian Award, and was also shortlisted for the Sheffield Book Award and the Edgar Allan Poe Award. This book is not part of my Once Upon A Time II challenge list, but I picked it up after finishing My Swordhand is Singing for the challenge, so I might as well to review it for the Challenge review site, in case anyone else is interested in it.

Set in the Dead Days between Christmas and New Year's this is a young adult's fiction whose central character is a young boy simply named Boy. Boy serves as something of a slave to a famous magician Valerian. The focus of the story is Valerian's attempt to escape a devilish pact made 15 years ago before his time runs out on New Year's Eve. Aided by Boy and a young servant girl, Willow, Valerian runs about, encountering obstacles and detours, trying to find a book that will provide him with a way out of this death pact. There is a twist at the end of the story, that is linked to Boy and the solution to Valerian's problem.

After reading My Swordhand is Singing, I did not have unreasonably high expectations for The Book of Dead Days. I only wanted a quick and easy read, knowing that Marcus Sedgwick's writing is straightforward and plain, as it should be to be suitable for young adults target market. The Book of Dead Days began with some promise: descriptions of The City in which these adventures take place evokes a haunting and complex labyrinth of crumbling, dark structures and some interesting characterisations of Boy, Valerian and Willow. However, these promising starts did not continue into the rest of the book. After the first few chapters, the book ended up purely driven by plot. Sadly though, the plot was so contrived and peppered with so many awkward plot devices that I lost interest in the story! I only finished the book so I could evaluate its suitability for my 8-year-old son.

With the many loose ends and unanswered questions at the end of the book, the story is set up for a sequel, which I imagine the author hopes will leave readers yearning for more. But I did not even feel for Boy nor did I want to know how the story continues for him. I did not enjoy this book at all and I'm sorry to say that I will not be reading the sequel, but I'll ask my son to write a review if he decides to read The Dark Flight Down. For such a positively-reviewed book, nominated for so many awards, I think I'm really being very picky about the books I want to read! I've even lost interest in Interworld, which I'll ask my son to review, since I'm moving on to The Dark Materials trilogy ASAP!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

My Swordhand is Singing, Marcus Sedgwick

Amazing! I finished My Swordhand is Singing in 24 hours. The fun of reading an easy children's book! I didn't even spend all day reading. I started the book last night, did all my usual Saturday stuff today, then continued with it in the late afternoon, finishing it at about 0930pm.

I'd recommend this book for anyone seeking a simple and enjoyable escape. Set in Churst in the middle of winter, it is a story about a father coming to terms with a secret from his past and a son's coming of age, as they both confront a menacing evil in the form of "vampires" or the dead who return from the graves to terrorise and infect the Churst villagers.

The plot is straight forward and the writing refreshingly uncluttered. Despite the creepy subject matter, the scares are few and far between. Marcus Sedgwick instead relies successfully on mood and anticipation to build tension and suspense as the story unfolds. I think children will enjoy this fast paced story that reasonably does not delve too much into introspection or lengthy descriptions. It is also not too frightening or gory, so I wouldn't hesitate to let even my son read it if he wanted to.

I am pleased that I found several Marcus Sedgwick books on my trip to the library today. I borrowed The Book of Dead Days and The Dark Flight Down. I expect they will be equally quick and pleasant reads, and look forward to starting on them. I also found Neil Gaiman and Michael Reeves' Interworld. Since there is a due date to return these books to the library, I will be reading them first. I don't think it will take too long to read them, so I can afford to put off reading The Dark Materials omnibus for a few more days.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Lyra's Oxford, Philip Pullman

I read Lyra's Oxford in one sitting the other night, before I started on The Dark Materials trilogy. This is because I need to return the book to the library this weekend and also I felt I wouldn't lose much as I already know quite abit about the Dark Materials world from the publicity and fanfare of The Golden Compass film release.

Lyra's Oxford is a short story that takes place post-The Amber Spyglass and tells of Lyra's encounter with a bird-shape daemon, Ragi, his witch and the alchemist Sebastian Makepeace. In this short story, Lyra escapes from a death trap when she is assisted by various forces in Oxford, particularly the birds, and this leads her to believe that Oxford is protecting her.

I liked Philip Pullman's easy tone that draws the reader into the story quickly. I anticipate I will enjoy The Dark Materials Omnibus that I caved-in and purchased last weekend. I had been trying in vain to borrow all the books in this trilogy, so when I found it in the omnibus edition, I purchased it so I could read them all consecutively.

With this trilogy, Lyra's Oxford and Vellum, I am technically fulfilling the Quest The First criteria of reading 5 books from the Once Upon A Time II genres of fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology.

However, since I listed 6 books when I signed up for the challenge, and I have decided I can't bear to read Ink, I am replacing Ink with My Swordhand is Singing, by Marcus Sedgwick. It is a vampire story for children that I borrowed from the library, so I shall be reading this first, before I dive into The Dark Materials books.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Vellum, Hal Duncan

This is a difficult book to review.

First of all, there isn't a clear straight line narrative in this book. The plot and pace are sparse yet convoluted due to the lack of the linear progression. It's not an easy book to read. In many portions, it reads like an extended version of an epic poem with many remixes. This is clearly due to the fact that, as Hal Duncan admits in his Acknowledgements section, "large portions of this novel involve adaptations of various ancient myths, poems and plays." And Vellum is repetitious, mainly because Hal Duncan is out to prove a point, that I will mention in the next paragraph.

Secondly, I'm not going to lie and say that I understand Vellum. I'm guessing someone with larger and deeper knowledge of ancient mythology might do better than I did with this book. Hal Duncan seems adament about proving, through his novel, the theory of archetypes in myths that recurr in different cultures in different times. Almost all the subtexts, premises and underlying connections between the central characters in his book are based on knowledge of these myths. This also leads to the repetition of passages, used as a stylistic means for expressing the idea of cycles.

The tone, pacing and prose in this book is also very uneven. I was bored to death in certain portions and gave in to my frustration by skimming through several long passages and some pages. But in other portions, Hal Duncan's prose is lyrical, the imagery lush and raw. I experienced quite a literary rush reading those parts. And in 2 to 3 instances, where there was actually some plot driving the story forward, it became quite exciting to see ideas and events unfold.

My personal view is that if Hal Duncan wanted to dabble with or make an argument about theories, I think he might have done better to write an essay. There are some interesting ideas that he presents in this novel that I wish he expanded on, eg. the Vellum, the war between the forces of good and evil angels, etc. but he only keeps harping on the idea of beings trapped in cycles of action / fate / destiny. It's sad to see promising portions drowned in Hal Duncan's obsession with this idea.

I'm having second thoughts about reading his follow-up novel Ink, because to be honest, I'm not done with Vellum but I'm already thinking of giving up, at page 369 out of 499. But since I'm already amost done, I'm going to spend a couple more days with Vellum and see how it goes, then will read Ink and see how I feel about it.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Once Upon A Time Challenge II

I'm lazy, so I'll repost what I wrote in Carl's blog right after posting Vellum and Englishmen and then reading Chris' blog:

"I’m in again this year! Very fitting that I started on Vellum by Hal Duncan,
then chanced upon Chris’ blog entry about this challenge. Coincidentally, Chris’
blog was where I first read about the challenge last year!

My list for Quest the First shall be:
Vellum, Hal Duncan
Ink, Hal
His Dark Materials Trilogy & Lyra’s Oxford, Philip

Serendipitously, 3 of the above are books that I’d chosen from the library
just this morning!"

Oh no ... I just noticed I wrote 3 sentences with exclamation marks ... I'm so indiscriminate ... !!!


To review, here's the criteria for Quest the First for the Once Upon A Time Challenge II:

"Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres."

My edited reading list:

Vellum, Hal Duncan
Ink, Hal Duncan
His Dark Materials Trilogy & Lyra’s Oxford, Philip Pulman
My Sword Hand is Singing, Marcus Sedgwick
Book of Dead Days, Marcus Sedgwick