Library @ Orchard (Life)


To be frank, I am not a frequent borrower of books, and would rather buy so that I can spend my own sweet time to read and reread something. The last few times to this library was not to borrow books as well: to watch a photographic exhibition, attend a talk, hang out with friends to chat at Cafe Gallilee. This is what this library is all about, it is more than a library.
When I interviewed librarians and the public for their views, most expressed their loss and disappointment. Although there will be two new libraries at Orchard, the feeling will never be the same again. Where will the books go? Where will the exhibitions goes? Where will we go in these 3 years?
Will the library be replaced by little fashion shops (that are already everywhere), or more artas high end shop (that we do not really care about?). Profits versus reality. When the library first started at a mall like Ngee Ann City, perhaps it should have anticipated its future. Everything enbloc, even the library can enbloc.
Must all old things make way for the new? Some things can just never be replaced.

Something Inspiring... (Life)


A listener smsed this to me when I was DJing this evening. Was quite touched and decided to share with all of you.





Gone Shopping (Film)


Director: Wee Li Lin
Cast: Kym Ng, Aaron Kao, Sonya Nair, Adrian Pang
RunTime: 100 mins
Genre: Drama
Rating: NC-16

Clara’s (Kym Ng) one desperate housewife. Like Mary Alice Young in Desperate Housewives, she starts the movie with in a low and monotonous voiceover, recollecting her past and wondering if her shopping items would love her.

She is mistress of a Taiwanese business after she decided SIA is a great way to fly, but not enough to buy. She is just a lonely tai tai who spends her time hanging out at hair salons and in and out of shops in Marina Square and CK Tang. Yes, she is desperate for love and attention.

This is intercrossed with two weaker stories. A man craving for manhood, and makes out with his best friend’s cosplaying sister in a park at Shaw Towers. The other is a feisty 8-year-old girl, lost in Mustafa Centre, in need of her parents love. This is a story about three desperate people.

Wee Li-Lin’s one of Singapore’s undiscovered directors, and her short film Autograph Book captivated me with its simplicity and sweetness. Gone Shopping has definitely the potential, but it lacks that one punch. Perhaps it was the two weak links. Perhaps it was trying to hard to balance commercial and art house qualities. Perhaps the intersection is more forced than natural. Perhaps it could not bring out the loneliness of shoppers. I am one who shops when I am lonely, so I know.

Kym Ng is one credible comedian, and her first cinematic breakthrough as a mature and lonesome shopper though nothing surprising, is at least satisfactory. But yes, she is one very gorgeous housewife that every man would like to have at home.

Gone Shopping - An empty shopping bag

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Film)


Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters
RunTime: 138 mins
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Rating: PG

This month is all about Harry Potter, isn’t it? Sorry for the late write-up. I suppose all is said, has been said. So I will dedicate this blog posting about three characters.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) – He has grown up to be a fine young chap, and as the series move forward, the maturity and character development that he portrays is indeed charming and respectable. At certain times, I would like to place his emotional depth at the same league as Anakin Skywalker and Peter Parker, but decided to wait to the final two to place my judgment. His first kissing scene as somewhat awkward, and not very sweet unfortunately. Better things will come.

Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) – Move aside Hermione (SORRY!). Luna has replaced you to be my favourite character from Harry Potter. Somewhat quirky, somewhat loony, somewhat honest, somewhat dreamy, Luna may not be an instant likeable character, but she adds a breath of freshness to the dark piece. Rowling has often said that Luna is the "anti-Hermion”.

Dolores Jane Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) – In her fluttery voice, girlish pink outfit, and repulsive laughter “hem hem”, she is someone everybody hates to love, and loves to hate. This installment is not about Voldemort, or Bellatrix, or Snape, McGonagall or even Dumbledore, it’s all about her sinister smile. She stole this show hands down. Shall look forward to more of her.

Though most would say The Order of Phoenix lacks action and fantasy and is all talk, it is a necessary transition movie for better things to come.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Not the best, but will leave you wanting for more

Alone (Film)


Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Cast: Masha Wattanapanich, Ratchanoo Bunchootwong, Vittaya Wasukraipaisan
RunTime: 95 mins
Genre: Horror (Thai)
Rating: PG (Some disturbing scenes)

Admit it. Nobody does horror movies like what the Asians can. Although Hollywood has churned out successful horror thrillers like Poltergeist and Sixth Sense, the really scary ones are few and far in between. Even Hollywood remakes of the Ring and Ju-On are at most, laughable.

Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpooms' last film Shutter was a box-office smash everywhere, and still stands as one of my favourite horror pieces. Alone is about conjoined twins Pim and Ploy, and one dies at the end of a separate operation. However, the memories and presence of the dead sister still continues to haunt the living one.

Acted by Thai-German pop singer Marsha Wattanapanich (who just came to Singapore) in her first film role in 15 years, she is a drop dead gorgeous and had an Angelica Lee vibe.

Alone survives by its typical stare tactics: loud, shocking noises, sound effects and distorted faces while the lead is in the midst of sleeping, walking in the dark, showering, or just alone in the big mansion. If you are a horror fanatic, then this is probably nothing new to you, except the walking scene at the beach.

I won’t say anymore because this movie is meant to surprise. If you want to run the ‘fun’ of watching this movie, go read some spoilers. Though not as well plotted as Shutter, it is actually a horror movie with a storyline!

Alone - Scary, but still can watch alone lah!

Paprika (Film)


Director: Satoshi Kon
Cast: Megumi Hayashibara, Tôru Furuya, Kôichi Yamadera, Katsunosuke Hori
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins

Genre: Anime
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity)

This is an animation not meant for kids. Although rated NC16 for nudity, do not expect some porn Jap anime flick. If you intend to leave your brain outside the cinema for a relaxing time, then don’t bother.

This is a movie about brains, and will engage your brain both in its visual kaleidoscope and mental challenge. Paprika is about the invention of a device called the "DC Mini," which enables researchers to enter the dreams of a subject and explore matters of the unconscious mind.

What is dream, and what is reality? Be ready for the visual explosion of pinned butterflies, singing dolls, jumping frogs, man-faced robots, lucky cats and every sort of fantasy creative moving in tune like a marching band. Many times the schizophrenic nature will drive you nuts, or allow you to indulge in that wild-like fantasy.

Although confusing at the start, the pieces place together appropriately towards the end. Once again, you admire the Japanese for their dedication to their piece of art (even though it is 2D), and brilliant way of thought-provoking story telling.

Paprika – Not for the faint brained

Ah Chew Desserts (Food)


Situated inconspicuously along Liang Seah Street (opposite Bugis Junction), this shop hidden among a row of eateries is a gem. To locate it, just look out for the never-ending queue of people eagerly waiting to have their sugar fix. With yellow menu tags hanging behind the counter, hard ebony wood furniture, and Chinese paintings adorning the store's walls, the décor goes well with the offerings and would remind many of dessert stores found in Hong Kong and Taipei. But the desserts have a local touch, with many of the desserts modified with ice cream or flavours to suit local taste buds.

I would broadly divide the desserts to three main types: the best sellers - Mango Sago and Pomelo; the healthy choices - Hashma boiled in Red Dates Soup, Ginko Barley and Bean Curd Skin which has ‘beautifying qualitites’; and local favourites - Black Sesame Paste, Peanut Paste and Pulot Hitam.

Some of the recommendations include: Rock sugar white fungus with papaya ($2.50), Red bean paste with Lily Bulb ($1.80), Mango Sago and Pomelo ($3.80), Yam with Sago ($2.00), and Fresh Milk Steam Egg with Red Bean ($3.00). Rest assured that the Mango Sago and Pomelo is made of fresh fruits as I have seen the staff cutting the ingredients on the spot. In this variation, a touch of coconut cream is added on top of the usual evaporated milk, giving it fragrance and extra texture. The sweetness of the ripe, juicy mango chunks is complimented by the refreshing, citrus Pomelo pulps that bursts and crunch at every mouthful! It reminded me of the version similar to Hong Kong’s ‘Hui Lau Shan’.

The Fresh Milk Steam Egg is so smooth that it trickles down your throat. You have the option of having it coffee-flavoured, or red bean-flavoured which would give it some bite. Eat it with your eyes closed and let your taste buds do the work.

For local favourites, the Yam and Sago was inspired by the owner after a trip to China. If you can forget about your calorie count, the yam is velvety and tasty, and the coconut milk does not have a sour aftertaste. Pure indulgence.

On the flipside, the very cramped space of the shop itself and the hard furniture can make eating a little comfortable, especially on a hot afternoon. There are also many people waiting for seats, and you feel bad sitting there a while more to savour that last drop of sweetness.

There are few credible dessert stores in Singapore to satisfy sweet cravings. Many provided at foodcourts or places which do not specialize in desserts, often leave you ending up with less than satisfactory experiences - they are either too sweet or do not taste fresh. At Ah Chew, you can be assured of quality desserts you which can match up to counterparts found in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Food: 5/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Value: 5/5
Overall: 4.0/5

Campus Relay Run (Life)


These are happy moments that I share with my colleagues off work. In the past, I used to hate running (and would skip every cross country during Hwa Chong days). Never woud I expect myself to organise a group in school for such a run.
Our main purpose was to have fun, and to win something. We didn't win the running awards, but hey... we got in FIRST... for best dressed team. :) Feel really blessed to find great colleagues to laugh and run.
Oh yes, I came in with a 'bad' timing of 6 min 20 sec for 1.5 km. Was hoping to hit below 6min, but my thighs were hurting after 2 days of running and step earlier on.
It was a tiring but enjoyable experience. The next step is the StanChart Marathon. I am in a dillemma. Should it be the 21 km or 42 km? Hmmm.....

Out of the Pan (Food)


It’s hard to miss Out of the Pan if you are a frequent shopper at Raffles City Shopping Centre. Located at basement one surrounding the central fountain, it serves a variety of unique crepes (pronounced ‘krep’) and sinful desserts, suitable for those seeking a light meal.
Although the concept is open air, the dining area does not feel crowded or noisy, offering customers a chance to people-watch, or to be people-watched. With its warm lighting and contemporary décor, small groups of friends will find it enjoyable to share crepes or waffles right next to the water feature.
My choice was the ‘Mega Menu’ which included a salad, savoury crepes, and a beverage ($20.00++). Crepes originate from France, but the menu here is modified to with international and local flavours which would appeal to those who love variety.
Some of the recommended crepes include Yum Yum Mushroom ($12.50) filled with sautéed shiitake, straw and oyster mushroom, Fish Masala ($15.50) inspired from Indian spices, Seafood Jungle ($15.50) packed with crabmeat, prawns and citrus fruits, Korean BBQ Pork ($12.50), and Beef and Bell Peppers ($13.50).
One of the best sellers is Peking Duck Crepe ($14.50) with thin whole wheat crepe wrapping around roasted duck with sambal olek, lychees and plum sauce. The result is an interesting union of dark salty-sweet sauce and roasted duck which is not too fatty. The lychees provide extra sweetness and juice to the combination, but are too few to make a significant difference.
The Green Garden Salad is a standard starter of seasonal greens with balsamic and olive oil. The Iced Tea is a surprisingly refreshing beverage which has a light fragrance and is not too sweet.
There are only two versions of the sweet crepes when compared to the savory choices. Opt for the Chocolate Mania ($11.50) of glazed banana wrapped in chocolate crepe with dark chocolate ice cream or the Strawberry Cream ($11.50) toped up with custard cream and vanilla ice cream.
The succulent strawberries and light custard are sinfully unforgettable.
My main gripe about the food was that the portions are too small for the price to pay. Unless there is a promotion, the individual items added up will cost quite a bit up to $30 per person. Also, while it is enough for an after-meal dessert, customers who want a full meal may go hungry. While the waiters serve with a smile at times, there are too few of them to go around. During peak hours, they are almost too busy to notice your requests.
The experience may be nothing divine, but Out of the Pan’s versions of crepes can be said to be creative and out of the box.
Food - 2
Ambiance - 2
Service - 2
Value - 3
Overall - 2.75

Vacancy (Film)


Director: Nimrod Antal
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson
RunTime: 85 mins

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Rating: NC-16 (Brief Nudity and Coarse Language)

Dear David and Amy,

Both of you probably haven’t watched any horror movies in your life. You need to watch more slasher flicks together, rather than bickering and quarreling which led to your divorce.

Lesson Number 1: Never, never ever take the short cut when you are traveling on a dark lonely lane. Not when you can't read maps.

Lesson Number 2: DON’T stay in a low-budget motel when you are the only visitors there, especially when creepy manager has screams coming out from his room.

Lesson Number 2: What i***ts! When the phone is ringing at the middle of the night, don’t pick it up! Huh? If the door next door is banging hard, you do not go and say “Hello?!” What is wrong with the both of you?

It took you so long to realize that the snuff film in your hotel room is filmed in your various own room. If cockroaches do not scare you, blood and gore will. Argh! Run, quick, run! Don’t hide in your room!

I wish you all the luck. Hopefully you can escape your ‘vacant’ hotel room.

Vacancy – A suspenseful B-grade horror with a A- cast and B grade


没后悔。歌神就是歌神。听的不只是个演唱会,而是一段回忆的旅程。我不识广东话,却能跟着哼哼唱唱。。。只想一生跟你走每天爱你多一些李香兰, 讲你知。。。







Manhattan Fish Market


With their signature fish and chip served in shallow metal pans with three types of sauces, Manhattan Fish Market is often seen as the closest rival of Fish and Co. Their similarities are uncanny, from the menu, décor to price. Both also had their first flagship store at Plaza Singapura.

A little on the background: Manhattan Fish Market’s director was a former operations manager in Fish & Co and started out an outlet at Malaysia during 2002, and subsequently in Singapore. After being sued and lost to Fish and Co during a court case last year, Manhattan had changed their serving pans and modified their ingredients as directed.

Despite the changes, this popular store continues to generate long queues. Expect to wait from 15 minutes to half an hour during peak hours. The guys at Manhattan also knew than other than your tummy, they could work on your smiles. Service was prompt and the waiters were quick to serve and refill water. Although they seemed somewhere nervous at times, the young crew was generally friendly and took initiative despite the heavy traffic.

Manhattan Fish and Chips ($9.90), Alaskan Pollock and Chips ($10.90), Grilled Norwegian King Salmon Fillet ($15.90), and Almond Fried Shrimps ($10.90) are some of their signature dishes. Unfortunately, they do not have the Baked Fish in Garden Herbs, and Barramundi topped with Sambal Sauce which are served in their Malaysian branches.

For a safe choice, opt for The Manhattan Fish and Chips with fish which is freshly fried in light batter, and do not have a strong fish smell. The straight fries, which are not too fat and thick, stay crispy for a long time.
The Manhattan Seafood Platter for Two ($29.90) is an all-time favourite for customers who want value for money. The portion is huge which includes one piece of battered fish, 4 flammed prawns, fried calamari, fried oysters, chips and garlic rice. Overall, the quality is comparable or even better than the Fish and Co version. The weakest link is the garlic rice which is slightly dry and unsavory.

One major selling point of Manhattan is a gimmicky ‘flaming’ of the grilled and seasoned prawns, done right in front of your very eyes. This ‘flaming’ made sweet mayonnaise-like sauce melts over the prawns and the rice and also brought out the fragrance of the buttery platter. This unique process made the prawns very juicy on the inside, and crispy with a touch of soot on the shells.

While many copycats are often inferior to the original, the American-styled Manhattan Fish Market proves that they have the potential to better their predecessor. As consumers, we welcome the additional competition.
Overall: 3.75/5
Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 4/5
Quote of the Day: "Imitation is the best form of Flattery."

Honour and Passion


First non-movie related post. Was asked to cover a press conference for my attachment. Honour and Passion is yet another army related drama series. As I interviewed some of the cast, I was suddenly reminded that Xin Bing Xiao Zhuan is actually first broadcast 25 years ago!
Some of my initial impressions:
Wen Yong Da-Ge: There is a reason why he is there today. An amiable personality who is really chatty.
Tay Ping Hui: Was rather cold and aloof, and 'joked' that the series is nothing good. Maybe he meant it. Was very eloquent in both languages. A breeze with the interview.
Nat: Led a big sign of relief when I told him I was helping Channel News Asia to cover. Wish him luck for his maiden attempt, and hope he doesn't do a 'Pierre Png'.
Felicia: The only person who offered to shake my hand, and mentioned that I was very effectively billingual. Is this PR or her true nature? Hard to say, but I would like to think it's the later. Nevertheless to say, impression of her was very good.
Quote of the Day:
Felicia Chin: "Any woman will look good in a uniform."

The Ex


Director: Jesse Peretz
Cast: Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, Mia Farrow, Donal Logue, Amy Poehler, Amy Adams
RunTime: 92 mins
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: M18 (Sexual References)

Although this movie is called The Ex, it has nothing to do with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. It was originally called Fast Track in the US, and the change of name was in hope to bring better box office in other markets.

If a movie cannot even decide what title and kind of identity it wants to be, then it is in serious trouble.

The story centers around househusband Tom Reilly (Zach Braff) and his lawyer wife Sofia (Amanda Peet), who face financial difficulty when they have a newborn.

When Tom decides to work as an 'Assistant Associate Creative', his boss Chip (Jason Bateman) happens to be his wife's 'ex', or should more appropriately put a one-night stand. When the handicapped boss on a wheelchair is interested in an employee’s wife, male ego clashes with male ego. Expect nothing else but immature men with hurt egos playing dirty tricks and little sabotages.

While the movie does provide occasional laughs with exaggerated antics more than clever lines, you will walk out of the cinema not remembering much and unclear about the purpose of the story. Although it is termed as a romantic comedy, there is less romantic than being mean spirited (towards the handicapped) and superficial.

Chicken Little's Zach Braff has been in 'neither here nor there' kind of movies such as The Last Kiss, and Garden State. The Ex will just add on to this list.

The Ex - Time to Move On

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros


Director: Auraeus Solito

Cast: Nathan Lopez, JR Valentin
RunTime: 103 mins
Genre: Drama
Rating: NC-16

Meet Maximo Oliveros, a 12-year old Filipino boy who prances around the gritty back lanes of the outskirts of Manila. He is a huge contrast with the surrounding. Dressed in tight yellow tee, a pink headband and a flower at the corner of his head, he radiates gayness and happiness. The place he stays in, dirty slums with sounds of buzzing hawkers, surrounded by burly guys with nothing better to do.

He is like the daughter, or even the mother of the household of thieves. He fusses over his father for dinner, and washes his brothers’ dirty clothes.

Just as he was indulging in his world of love movies and Ms Universe competitions, he is brought back reality. The man of his dreams, come face off with his family who could be involved in a murder.

This is not a typical gay film, but one which deals with the coming of age of a teen still finding his life, identity and belonging. Like a flower which has yet bloomed, you can feel with his heart beating as young Maximo can only watch his hero from afar, and attempts to plan a peck on the cheek.

Such innocence. Some simplicity. The fact that the setting is the harsh but real world of Philippines, allows us to see the world of a young growing boy and the world of a old growing nation.

However, the film does feel very unpolished and draggy throughout, with noises of the streets juxtaposed with random guitar playing.

Perhaps this film is about contrast. When the older Maximo meets the straight-looking (but may not be straight) police officer once again, the honesty of its portrayal tells us about the pain of growing up.

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros – Has potential to blossom, but the pacing slows it down

My Wife is a Gangster 3


Director: Jo Jin-gyu
Cast: Shu Qi, Lee Beom-soo, Hyeon Young, Oh Ji-ho, Jo Hi-bong
RunTime: 115 mins
Genre: Action/Comedy (Korean/ Cantonese)
Rating: PG

If you expect Shu Qi to speak some Annyong ha shimnikka in her first Korean outing, then you will be disappointed.

The story is kind of confusing. A-ryong (Shu Qi, a Taiwanese starlet who made big in Hong Kong category 3 movies) is a daughter of a Hong Kong triad head (Ti Lung) and a Korean mum. She has offended some rival gangs and goes to seek refute in Korea.

She hires an incompetent translator who speaks weird Mandarin, and stays with 3 Korean gang members who loves toilet and sexual jokes. Despite conversing in Cantonese, translating to Korean, and back to Mandarin, she falls in love with a muddle headed and useless Korean man. Ah huh.

This tight-lipped (silent) and thick-lipped (sexy) girl does a ‘kill-bill’ to protect her man from dangers, showing her prowess by beating 20 other hot-blooded Korean men with her sword fighting and punches.

I still do not understand why you would fall in love with that Korean nitwit. The audience also do not understand the many languages in a single movie. But who cares. Way to go girl!

My Wife is a Gangster 3 – Lost in Translation



Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Jon Voight
RunTime: 144 mins
Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: PG

This is truly a long wait. More than a decade for young boys who let their imagination run wild with their toys and a year after the space Beagle 2 trailer.

+ Plus Points
- Hot Megan Fox and even hotter Autobots (No wonder male prefer cars to women. Opps!)
- Optimus Prime (with the original Peter Cullen voicing it)
- Extended special effects and the transformation from car to robot is just way cool!
- That transformer ‘sound’
- Addition of humour

- Minus Points
- Shia LaBeouf being a rather uncharismatic and not very hot young male lead. (I may take back my words for his other movies, but we’ll see.)
- Bubblebee being a yellow Chevolet Camaro (Hello? Rampant product placement)
- Extended special effect fight sequences
- Bang Bang Bang, and more Bang Bang Bang
- Lack of humanity

Overall, while Transformers is full of fun that will excite that child in you, it was emotionless like cold-blooded robots (Er? Okay. I am corny.). But good news fans, there will be 2 more sequels. Director Michael Bay, after blowing everything in his movie (including Pearl Harbour and Armageddon) MAY not return. That’s better news?

Transformers – Just meets the eye, no more

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