Tuesday, 31 March 2009


With the re-issue of Pearl Jam seminal debut, Ten (in four different versions no less), it brought back memories of those years. I haven't been listening to any of the bands for these few years...and why there is no definitive version of Nevermind anyway?
Any one who experiences his/her teenage formation years in the early 90s would have been exposed to grunge...yes, that lyrically angst driven music that has its roots in rain drench Seattle, although the actual first sign of its emergence is way back in mid 80s, when everyone, including myself mostly, is still into one hit wonders, stadium rockers like U2, GnR, big hairdo poodle rockers like Bon Jovi and the rest...locally there is Search, Wings and Lefthanded to rock the scene as well as to churn out enough lagu kilangs to keep graveyard shift production lines boys and girls awake and in love. Grunge came at the time when acne crops up on my face, I am either too cool for the geeks or too uncool for the indie types, girl issues crop up, hormonal rage comes in waves and general loathing of myself and others.
A grunge musician is deeply rooted in punk ethos, they looked unkempt and grimy (although later generations would incarnate into cool looking dudes and babes with DM boots and checkered shorts/skirts), with a knack for multi-layered flannel thrift stores shirts to keep the cold at bay...its unfortunate that like all fashion victims going with the times, I have personally observed some friends aping that sort of gear in tropical weather like in this country...torn acid wash jeans are still okaayyy but...flannel in the tropic...nuts, either you ended up nearly passing out after a night moshing in the now defunct Pyramid in Dsara or drenched in so much foul smelling sweats and facial oils that anyone could fry an egg. The babes are not exempted either...during then, all of us lives off our parents as students and could not afford those high end, water proofing makeup stuff so, most pretty gfs ended up look like ghouls/neo goths with all the makeup smeared and trailing lines of eye shadows down the cheeks. Grunge musicians also generally like to take lots of drugs and paid the price with their lives. I took alot of dubious club whiskey and nearly paid the price with my liver.
When Nirvana's sophomore album, Nevermind, went up the stratosphere in terms of sales, the entire world went grunge with them. Suddenly, there are Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney (one of pioneers), must get releases from labels like Sub-Pop, Soundgarden. It also open up doors from other great bands who influence or is influenced by it like Sonic Youths, Dinosaur Jr, Nine Inch Nails, nice indie single artists, not heard on airwaves before, Stone Temple Pilots, as well as...hundreds of imitators. New local bands here in the tropics began to form overnight as well, emulating their grunge heroes, but mostly unsustainable. Some are great, some are outright bogus...there are truly some classic evergreen songs from this era, particularly Nirvana's first two albums and certain live versions, as well as some from the first generations of certified true blue grunge bands like Pearl Jam, AIC and even Stone Temple Pilots who aren't even from Seattle...although I always have a nagging feeling that Pearl Jam is kinda over hyped...
Then when the general public knows who is Kurt Cobain and co, that's when you suspected that the entire thing is now so over bloated that it will implode anytime soon...like the law of diminishing return, the entire genre sounding category become so saturated that I begin to switch my attention to the Brits, particularly Oasis, Blur and other emerging Britpop (which will eventually saturate as well...) bands who are more creative and offered more varieties with their songs, with greater optimism and youthful playfulness too. There can only be so much angst to sing about...it is not going on forever. Also I reckoned throughout the years, maturity and responsibility kicks in, the acne went away (it gotta do with diet), I made some good lasting friendships with both geeks and indie types, I came to accept myself as an individual and respect others around me, girl relationship comes and go, but its alright...grunge and its theme gradually losses its relevancy to me...
Then in 1994, Kurt Cobain suddenly took a bullet, resulting in Nirvana disbanded, AIC soldiered on but eventually disbanded in 1996, followed by Soundgarden in 1997 whilst Pearl Jam during that period continued to be stifled and stuck in a quagmire of legal tussles regarding their live performances. I finally tune out for good when the so-called post grunge bands came on, like Live, Creed, Bush, Collective Souls and etc etc etc...soulless cardboard bands.

Monkey Cups ~ Update.

The N. Ampullaria w Red on Green speckle seems to be on suspended animation, with the only lone large pitcher still existing when I got it from Fauzi. There are signs of 2 pitcher formation on the tips of the leaves but it seems to be forever that size and not developing/blooming...the same goes for the N. Rafflesiana...usually it should be not enough light and humidity but the N. Bicalcarata and N. x Hookeriana have been successfully developing a new pitcher each, although the N. Bicalcarata's new pitch is smallll....the N.Ampullaria w Light Red Peristome has came out with a new pitcher as well but man, it is tiny....I assume there is nothing wrong with the plants itself as the leaves are green and looks healthy with no sign of general infection. Could it be the substrate? I uses perlite, peat moss, lava rocks, verticullite, orchid mix and top up with long fibered spagnum...I recently learnt that perlite gave out floride in time...no good for Nepenthes...arrgh...observed Fauzi uses cuts of those green sponges mix with large quantity of coconut shavings...The lighting and humidity level is same across the plants, generally direct morning lights up till the mid afternoon when the shading becomes about 60% bright light and then in total shades from 4pm onwards... I can't comment about humidity...all I know is that it is been quite hot and sweaty these days although it rains in the late afternoon...I have decided to stop watering the plants with tap water too, at least for an interval of couple of days or if there is sign of dry out...still continuing misting though with tap water...could it be because of the water as the tap water generally is hard and causes builtup of minerals...hhmmm again need to observe further...I uses Orchid fertilizer 30-10-10 which is blue in color but very diluted on the foliar twice a day...this practise I stop as well...or maybe extent to twice a month instead...it encourages algae growth on the spagnum instead...I also stop using cockroach as feed...lesson learnt as it destroyed the N.Bicalcarata and N.Rafflesiana's previous pitchers due to overinfestation of bacteria, resulting in them breaking down and turned black within 48 hours...I hope it is not due to shock as well, as I tend to transfer the potting media once I get from Fauzi in the evening...as for the highlanders N. Lady Pauline and N.Rajah, well I expect them not to bloom generously, and possibly even stunted but I am hoping them not to die out and give up on me that's all :P

Sunday, 29 March 2009

N.Rajah ~ Reload.

...and finally, the return of the king.

N. Ampullaria Hot Lips

And the Hot Lips version, which is redder peristome than the light red one...although, I could do without the light red one...next up would be Brunei Red and the reddest them of all (well...according to The Man Fauzi), William Red. Also on the lineup include a Hookeriana Harlequin version (!). I previewed the Tricolor version and kinda impressed. I wonder what is the difference between all these Ampullaria...Cantley Red seemed to have some greenish tint at the bottom of the pitcher, Harlequin has a different tone red speckle compare to the red on the pitcher and has red peristome, Brunei Red is all single tone, darker red, including the peristome whereas I have not actually see William Red but Fauzi said it is dark red with burgundy. So many versions!

N. Ampullaria Harlequin.

Finally...the famous Harlequin version which I got from Fauzi today...

Earth Hour 2009

Earth Hour 2009...Esther and I actually have a small discussion on whether to follow suit on the unrelenting media barrages on the event today, to switch off all electrical lights between 8.30pm to 9.30pm. We decided not to, because we believe the entire event is too hyped up. Celebrities, local starlets all over the local media about their supposedly environmental inspiration and stuff. Boring... And yet we all still drive up the carbon emission on daily basis...just look at the early rush hour during weekdays...We want to chip in, for the sake of our kids and help but not in such manner...if everybody REALLY wants to help sustain or even rejuvenate the depleting resources of the planet, everyone should do it on REGULAR basis, and the entire socio-political groups in this country should rally for a change...for real. Reduce consumption and waste, recycle, create more green lungs...there is so many ways to go about it and if only there is a collective consciousness to drive it on REGULAR basis, then Earth...no, our kids and us, might still have a chance to savour what She could offer.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Blade Runner : The Final Cut.

"I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain... Time to die." ~ the soliloquy of Roy Batty.

Blade Runner is the second masterpiece shot back to back with Alien (1979) by Sir Ridley Scott. But unlike Alien, Blade Runner is not a box office hit during its initial release. It was also critically panned at that time because majority of the audience was reported not being able to truly grasp the essense of the storyline. It did not help that in 1982 it also had to face off tough competitor, in particular one of the highest grossing movie of all time called E.T. The initial release version also did not get the final approval of Scott who faces numerous issues making this movie. Fortunately, history would prove otherwise, thanks to a small group of fans who continue to stand by it. Eventually after several more releases of various versions, Blade Runner eventually gains its rightful status as one of the best neo-noir sci-fi movie to date.
The movie is loosely based on the late Philip K. Dick novel, Do Android Dream Of Electric Sheep? (1968). Instead of direct adaptation, scripwriters Hampton Fancher and David Peoples decides to concentrate on the selective ideas of the novel, disgarding the more indepth themes and background informations like religion and mass media (Mercerism and Buster Friendly), fertility and sterility of the populations (due to World War Terminus and subsequent radiation fallout), real emotions (Penfield Mood Organ) and what it takes to be human.
Reportedly affected by his brother death from cancer, Ridley directed Blade Runner based heavily on the theme of life and death shrouded in noir-ish atmosphere. The cool sounding title is taken from a novel by Alan E. Nourse of the same name.
The story begins on November 2019 AD with an atmospheric view of L.A. which has evolved into a sprawling megacity covers in heavily polluted haze not unlike KL during the Sumatran open fire crisis several years ago. In the center of the megapolis lies two massive structures which belongs to the Tyrell Corporation. It is hundreds of stories high and is the major economic lifeline for the city. Within one of the levels, Blade Runner Holden (William Paull) manages to detect one latest version of Replicant call Nexus-6 (which is virtually identical to human and uses as slave in Off World Colonies for occupations deem hazardous to be carried out by humans) by the name of Leon (the late Brion James) via Voight Kampff Scale test (an empathy test to differentiate human from Nexus-6) but is shot with a black hole gun. Down on the streets, recently retired Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is interrupted by Gaff (Edward James Olmos) while having a meal at a sidewalk noodle stall. Gaff, a mysterious Cityspeaking (a mix of Eastern European and Asian language) police officer with an imppecable dress sense, wants Deckard to follow him immediately. Deckard pretends not to understand of which Gaff retorts, "Lófaszt, nehogy már. Te vagy a Blade ... Blade Runner." (Hungarian: "Horsedick, no way! You are the Blade ... Blade Runner). Gaff told Deckard that the Replicant Detection Division Captain Harry Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh) wants to see him of which he then oblige. At the station, Bryant briefs Deckard about an escape of six Replicants from an Off World colony on board a space shuttle. They found the shuttle adrift with all 23 passengers dead. And Bryant wants Deckard to resume active duty in order to track and "retire" the Replicants due to Holden's permanent injuries but Deckard refuses until Bryant issues a thinly veil threat to him ("If you're not cop, you're little people!"). Without any choice Deckard reluctantly accepts the task for a final time. At the briefing room, Bryant shares the profile of the Nexus-6 Replicants to Deckard. There were originally six Replicants but two were killed whilst walking through an electrical field. They are trying to break into Tyrell Corporation. The remaining Replicants are Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), their leader who is a combat model with an A Physical Level (superhuman strength & endurance) and an A Mental Level (genius level intellect) ; Leon Kowalski (Brion James) who could load 400 lb nuclear-warheads all day with A Physical Level and a C Mental Level ; Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) a A Physical Level and B Mental Level Replicant who is a member of a political homicide squad on an Off World colony; and Pris (Daryl Hannah) is a "basic pleasure model" with A Physical Level and B Mental Level. Bryant also explains that the Nexus-6 model has a four-year lifespan as a failsafe to prevent them from developing emotions and desire for independence. This also means the Nexus-6 possess extraordinary abilities in order to maximise their worth. Deckard then goes to Tyrell Corporation with Gaff watching his every moves, to conduct a Voight Kampff test on a Nexus-6 there as instructed by Bryant. Deckard is received by Rachael (Sean Young), Tyrell's niece. Then Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), the genius who founded the Corporation and created the Replicants for Off World Colonies introduces himself. He wants Deckard to prove the reliabilty and effectiveness of the Voight Kampff by test on Rachael. After more than hundreds of cross referencing and questioning, it turns out Rachael is a Replicant with implanted memories of Tyrell's deceased niece. Tyrell explains that with memory implants it would provide the Replicants a sort of cushion to cope with the sudden emotional development. Intrigue, Deckard then leaves with Gaff to check on Leon's former residence at Hotel Unterwasser. There Deckard picked up a piece of scale on the bathtub as well as taking a stack of photos belonging to Leon. Unknown to them, Leon is standing outside the hotel observing them and later joins Roy who is at a Videophone booth. Roy is deteriorating as his limited lifespan is getting near. They go to see the artificial eye creator Hannibal Chew (James Hong) at his Eyes World laboratory. Tearing Chew's artic clothing apart and leaving him to the point of being frozen to death, Roy forces Chew to reveal to him who could extend the four years lifespan. Chew told him to see Tyrell but only J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson) the genetic engineer who suffers from accelerated aging called Methuselah Syndrome would have access to him. Later, Rachael visits Deckard at his apartment to prove her humanity to him but leaves in tears after Deckard coldly tells her that her memories are implants. Meanwhile Pris makes her move at Sebastian by deliberately crashes into his vehicle outside the Bradbury Building where Sebastian is the only residence. She then strikes up a conversation with Sebastian and began to manipulate his loneliness and feeling. Sebastian invites her to his apartment where he spends time making toys who also doubles as his friends as he are not allowed to migrate to Off World colonies due to the genetic disorder. Meanwhile Deckard is seen in his apartment drunk and halfdreaming about a unicorn before he gets back to work and uses a computer scanner to go through Leon's photos of which he finds the image of Zhora. Deckard then goes to check on the origin of the scale and is informed that it is a snake scale which is manufactured by Abdul Ben Hassan, who owns a shop at the Animoid Row. Interrogating Hassan, he informs Deckard that the snake was purchased by someone who works at Taffy's Snake Pit Bar, a strip club down in Sector Four. Deckard questions Taffy Lewis (Hy Pyke) but fails to get any information from him. He calls up Rachael to meet him there but is rejected. He subsequently watches Zhora performance and later pretends to be an investigating officer who questions Zhora in her changing room but she suspects Deckard is a police office, swiftly delivers a blow to his throat and escapes. Deckard chases Zhora through the streets before shooting her dead. Captain Bryant and Gaff arrives to sarcastically commended Deckard for the job well done but instead of three Replicants now there are four to be retired as Rachael has been missing from Tyrell Corporation. After they leaves, Leon suddenly appears and savagely beats up Deckard before Rachael shoots Leon in the head with Deckard's gun. Rachael follows an injured and equally shaken Deckard back to his apartment where they have physical intimacy. Back at the Bradbury, Roy arrives at Sebastian's apartment and seeks his help to bring him to see Tyrell. It seems that Roy and Pris are also lovers. Sebastian knows they are Nexus-6 but only agrees after being coyly asks by Pris who is also reaching her lifespan expiration. Under the pretext of a corresponding chess move, Roy and Sebastian manage to see Tyrell personally where Roy confronts Tyrell on the four year lifespan issue. Tyrell explains that many experiments and tests have been carried out but all fails, resulting in the subjects being dead. Roy seemingly resign to his fate, then seeks for absolution from Tyrell as he has done many actions deem "questionable". Tyrell brushes this aside and instead praises Roy for he is the most perfect Replicant Tyrell has come across and Roy should "revel in his time" for these extraordinary capabilites. Insulted, Roy crushes Tyrell's head with his bare hand and goes after Sebastian. After receiving news about the death of the two men, Deckard arrives at the Bradbury and is ambushed by Pris who eerily pretends to be one Sebastian's toys. She nearly kills Deckard until he manages to reach for his gun and shoots her. Roy arrives immediately after the shooting and begins to taunt Deckard in a game of cat and mouse throughout the dipilated building although he is deteriorating away fast. Finally, Deckard runs out of space to escape from Roy, he tries to jump over the adjacent rooftop but fails to do so and hangs on his life by a hand on a steel beam. Roy sees this and jumps effortlessly over. He looks at Deckard and says, " Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave." As Deckard slips, Roy catches him and lifts him up to safety with one hand. Roy, staring at Deckard and with pigeon in his arms, says, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments...will be lost in time...like...tears in...rain. Time...to die." He is then gone and turns white as procelain. Deckard could only looks in disbelieve what he has just heard and gone through. Gaff arrives on the rooftop and again sarcastically commends Deckard for task accomplish. He then tells Deckard, " It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?" Back at his apartment, a frantic Deckard looks for Rachael and finds her. Glad that she is alive, both leaves the apartment and on the way to the lift, Deckard comes across an origami of a unicorn.
Blade Runner has the same visual impact on me as Alien has done, although in different manner. This movie introduces me the term, "cyberpunk", even though this concept is not really express in it. Due to budget constrains, many of the sets are "retro-fitted" which adds to the realism. It is also a movie which kinds of "foreshadowing" the future development of multi-cultural major cities around the world today. Cityspeak for example, which is a language forms from combining words from different languages and dialects. Singlish, Manglish? Massive billboards on the side of buildings are a norm nowadays but Blade Runner highlights it in popular format first. And there are scenes on the streets which shows a potpurri of various cultures, much like a modern metropolis. Then there is its influence on virtually every other sci fi tv shows, movies and even animations. There are so many ways to interprete the movie. Roy saves Deckard because in his dying moment, he values life above all and should appreciated tremendously. Because for Roy, his fate is like a goldfish in a bowl, a built in death sentence. I am not sure why Gaff allows Rachael to live though. And yes, I concluded Deckard is a Replicant. But this is very much depends on the versions. The Final Cut made it clear, without any doubt because his eyes glow in one scene, he has a daydream about a unicorn and Gaff made an origami of it. Gaff also made a stickman with an erection, just prior to him and Rachael make out. Thus like Deckard reading Rachael's memory file, his too are being made known to Gaff. At his apartment, there too are stacks of old photographs like Leon fonds to do. The movie also question the timeless concept of what is it that defines human. Like Friz Lang's Metropolis, the Replicants seem to seek "humanity" whilst others like Byrant and Tyrell seems to have lost it and become cold like a machine.

Friday, 27 March 2009

LV Utah leather briefcase.

I need some retail therapy at times like these..illogical but could do with a nice LV leather bag and wallet. I have been eyeing the Utah leather, "Apache" briefcase for quite a while. I think it captures some vintage vibe. More importantly it is not in their signature "loud" LV monogram, discreed with that oh so lovely brass buckle. Problem is it cost at least MYR 10 grand here...

Chloe 1st Birthday!

Photos from Chloe's first birthday last year. We celebrated it in grand style, true to the tradition which mom said we must follow. We set up a buffet and invited no less than 50 guests to our house. Esther bought her a special dress for the ocassion and also ordered a home made special cake for her. I made a best I could paper cutting of her name and stick it on the ceiling. Hard work...Prior to that, as per tradition, I am not sure from where or source, we gave Chloe her very first chicken drumstick which she tried to bite but to large for her and eventually gave up hehe..we sliced it for her later I think. Mom also held a special prayer ceremony for her in the morning. Chloe looks so cute and plump-ish.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Chloe!

Today Chloe turns 2 years old. Very fast. Mom prepared Lam Mee (Hokkien style) for her. I bought her a present from Toys R Us which is a replica of a kitchen with all the utensils, since she has been asking for a cooking set for quite a while. Esther bought her the same thingie but on smaller scale from Jusco. When asked whether she likes it, she beamed, smiled and say an assuring yes. We invited Suetch and Sasa to join in today with the rest as well for a small scale dinner. I bought a bucket of KFC, and Kuan's mom chipped in with some delicious satays. Chloe isn't feeling well since yesterday, down with fever and her throat is pretty red. I brought her to the Dr. Kwek and he prescribed her some fever, antibiotic and a couple of sweet tablets for the throat. Earlier this morning I went to this cupcake specialty store called A Taste Boutique to collect her cake, which is in the form of 20 cupcakes with icing figurines. The icing on top of the cupcake is a tad too sweet, but the cake is nice. Whilst taking photos, Chloe cried after seeing Kuan's girlfriend whom he brought to introduce to us first time today. She only settled down after much persuasion. Mom mentioned that Chloe may be having fever because of her birthday and adviced us not too mention loudly in front of her, something which gotta do with tradition and superstitious belief. Well, anything to make her well, I tried not to say it too obvious in front of her.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Alien : The Director's Cut.

"In space no one can hear you scream"

Undisputedly one of the greatest masterpiece of sci fi horror genre, Alien (1979), directed by eventual uber director, Sir Ridley Scott, set a new standard in terms of suspense and fear of the unknown. Based on a script written by Dan O' Bannon with Ronald Shusett, the story begin in year 2122 AD with a crew of seven "space truckers" on board of commercial towing vehicle Nostromo bringing a massive refinery processing 20 million tonnes of mineral ores back to Solomons, a mining colony on Earth from Thedus (located on the Outer Veil sector). Approximately halfway through the journey, the onboard AI known as Mother, interrupted the crew stasis due to receiving a transmission of unknown origin, presumely an SOS. The crew's captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), briefed them about the transmisson and based on the terms and conditions of the company (Weyland-Yutani) of which they are contracted for, any signal intercepted would have to be investigated or their shares would be forfeited. They proceed to the source of the transmission which is traced to a planetoid (Archeron or LV-426, a moon orbiting an unnamed gaseous ring planet) roughly about 1200km in radius located at ζ2 Reticuli (one of the binary star system located about 39 light years away from Earth). The rough weather on the planetoid causes Nostromo to breakdown during landing. Whlist awaiting Chief Engineer Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Enginering Technician Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) to repair the ship, Dallas, Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) and a reluctant Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) decides to walk to the source of the transmission, closely monitor by Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) and Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as they go along their journey. They eventually come across a derelict spaceship and proceeded to enter inside. At this point, their cameras seem to be disrupted and Ash as well as Ripley could not see or hear audibly what is happening. Within they encounter a hugh dead alien "pilot"(the space jockey). Dallas mused that the alien must have been dead a long time as it seems fossilised. Dallas also observed the body and curiously its "ribs" seemed to have been blown from inside out. Meanwhile Ripley began to re-interprete the SOS and suspected that it may be a warning instead. However, when conveying this to Ash, he brush off the discussion. Back at the derelict ship, Kane sees an opening on the floor and proceeds inside. Within he comes across a massive holding bay which houses numerous egg like objects. The eggs are covered with a protective layer of blue mist which reacts with a humming sound when broken through. Kane walks precariously along a narrow ramp separating the eggs but slips and fell through the mist. Face to face with one of the eggs, he curiously reaches out for it where he observes a small leathery object within. As his hand goes near, a hiss occurs (as well as droplets of moisture seem to drip upside down) and the top of the egg steadily peels open. Kane peek inside and suddenly the small leathery object (facehugger) ejects out at an incredible speed and force. The impact broke through Kane's helmet and attaches itself to his face. Back at Nostromo, Ripley refuses to allow all three to re-enter the ship due to quarantine procedure but the main hatch door is manually override by Ash, much to Ripley surprise. Immediately, Dallas and Ash proceeds to check on Kane. Trying to detach it, the tail of the object tightens like a noose, threatening to crush Kane's neck. They then try to cut through its finger like legs but it spills out pure concerntrated molecular acid which subsequently burnt through three levels of the hull. Ash suggested to wait and see as any further attempt would probably kill Kane. Meanwhile Parker and Brett announces that Nostromo is 90% restored and would be able to takeoff, much to crew relieve. Back in space to continue their journey back home, Ash informed Dallas, follows by Ripley that the object has detached itself from Kane. After awhile, Kane awakens but could not remember anything. Having a meal before the stasis, the crew chats happily amongst one another when they are interrupted by Kane who appears to be choking. As it appears to be getting more and more dire, Kane goes into a fit and began to convulse violently, as well as gurgling from within. As the crew tries to restrain him, a blood patch suddenly appears on his shirt. Then, in one of the most horrific scene in cinematic history, Kane's chest tears apart as a small snake like creature (chestburster) explodes through. The creature gives one horrific shrek at the crew before quickly slitters away whilst Kane convulse in the background before passing on, covers in a sea of blood. The crew decides to capture the creature and dispose it. Brett comes up with a cattle prod like device whilst Ash manages to cobble together a range sensor machine. Divided into two teams, they begin to search for the creature but Jonesy, Ripley's cat causes false alarm thus Brett is assigned to capture it. Inside the landing gear room, Brett corners Jonesy but from the back, a massive creature descends from the ceiling via the air vent system and kills a horrified Brett by using its jaw to punch through his skull. Parker and Ripley arrive too late but manage to glimpse the creature as it hauls a screaming in pain Brett away into the air vents. With everyone at wits end, Ash suggested to use fire to force the creature out from the air vents and into the airlock in order to eject it out into space. Armed with a flamethower, Dallas volunteers to go into the air vents to flush the creature out into the airlock. However, the range sensor device does not function properly, resulting in Dallas being ambush by the creature. They could not find his body nor traces of blood. With the absence of Dallas, Ripley resumes the first in command. Being suspicious of Ash from the beginning of the incident, Ripley goes to seek Mother for solution directly. She manages to log into a company directive meant for science officer only. The confidential directive is to ultimately preserve any alien lifeform they would come across, even at the expense of the crew lives. Suddenly Ash appears beside her and tries to explain but Ripley would not have any of it. As Ripley goes to seek out Parker and Lambert to reveal the shocking information, Ash stands in her way and began to violently slam her against the wall. He seems to be sweating "milk". Then he attempts some form of sexual assault by stuffing a magazine into her mouth. Parker and Lambert arrive and tries to stop Ash but are overpowered instead. Lambert then uses a fire extinguisher and slams it hard onto Ash's head, decapitating him. It then turns out that Ash is an android. Still functioning, Ash attempts to attack Lambert but is finally stopped by Parker who has to use a electric prod to short circuit him. With Ripley, they then interrogate Ash by reconnecting only his head. It turns out Ash has been protecting the creature all along from the beginning which confirms Ripley suspicion. Ash also admires the creature calling it the perfect organism whose act is devoid of any morals or feelings. Finally Ash sarcastically told them that they have his sympathy as it would be impossible to kill the creature and their chances of surviving the ordeal would be zero. Having enough of it, Parker then torches Ash. Clinging on any threads of hope, the three decides to take their chances on board the life boat Narcissus which could only support one crew member but not before destroying Nostromo by making it self detonates. As Ripley goes to manually override Mother, Parker and Lambert are confronted by the creature in the supplies room where both are violently killed. Seeing their bodies, Ripley attempts to abort the self destruct sequence to buy time but to no avail. Running through the corridors now fill with vapours as Nostromo begins countdown, Ripley comes across the body of Brett and a barely alive Dallas in the landing gear level. Both are stuck to the walls in sitting position, cover in glutanious substance. The entire surroundings look almost unrecognisable. Brett's body already changes into an egg-like form whilst Dallas pleads with Ripley to kill him of which she did by torching the entire place down. Ripley then took Jonesy and proceeds to Narcissus in time to reach a safe distance as Nostromo explodes. Unfortunately for Ripley, the creature is also onboard. Changing into her space suit, Ripley opens the shuttle door and then shoots it with a grappling gun out of Narcissus but the creature goes into one of the engines. Ripley activates the engines jet and blast off the creature. Finally, Ripley goes into stasis after logging a report of the entire incidents, clinging on a glimmer of hope that she would be eventually found.
The movie is a box office hit and won numerous accolades and awards. It would also spins off three sequels and two crossovers with Predator as of date. By engaging Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger and uses his designs, the movie captures the "alien" aspect perfectly. His works are applied on the planet surface, the creature, the larvae and eggs, as well as the derelict spaceship and its pilot. Majority contains certain level of erotism, probably due to Giger's influence. The creature's head look like male genital. The entrance into the derelict spaceship is very much vagina like. Within, the walls seem to look like ribcage. For the non-alien aspect, Rob Cobb designs an excellent interior of Nostromo, very claustrophobic and fills with iconography and given it a certain degree of realism. Scott also ensures that the Nostromo's interior looks worn and covers with grime to give it a used feel. The visual beats the CGI effect anytime. Jerry Goldsmith made the soundtrack and although heavily edited by Scott, it manages to capture the flow of the storyline which heighten the suspense and fear. In terms of the storyline, there are numerous edits to it which I think worth mentioning. Dallas originally has a relationship with Ripley and they have a love scene on board. In another, Ripley is sitting in Ash's Blister when a tapping noise occur and is caused by the body of Kane floating around there. Lambert originally suppose to meet her demise violently within the air lock by being sucked into vaccum through a hole cause by the creature's acidic blood with a diameter of one inch but the visual effect at the time has not reach that stage yet. This is where Parker suppose to have spotted the creature entering the air lock and Ripley shut the door on his cue but only manages to cut off its tail and leaves Lambert trap within. Also, a lot of speculation occurs as how Lambert actually died. The movie shows only her naked lower torso covers in blood, dangling midway with a broken toe. Her bloodcurdling scream could be heard through Ripley's intercom as the creature attacks her. Some fans say that she is sexually assaulted by the creature whilst some say the creature strips her clothes off in an attempt to pull her into the air vent. The part where its tail slowly creeps in between her feet is actually shot for Dallas. Also, Lambert wears cowboy boots, not sneakers. Finally, Scott wants Ripley to die in the end by having the creature ripping off her head and then mimics her voice into the final log entry onboard Narcissus. The producer vetoed this violent ending and thus Ripley would survive her ordeal and destined to battle one of moviedom most memorable monsters for the next three sequels spanning several centuries. In the first movie, one could not see the creature very clearly which is intentional in order to raise the fear of the unknown. The creature life cycle (inpired by insects, in particular the spider Ichimoid) is more disturbing prior to the first sequel made by James Cameron in 1986 which introduces the Alien Queen. The alien would capture hosts either alive or otherwise to be metamorphosised into eggs. After implanting the embryo within the chest cavity of the host, the larvae known as facehugger would cease to function. Very quickly, after bursting out from the host, it would molt and developes into a full size adult. Initially the biomechanical adult would look transparent and becomes darker as it goes on. The adult would possess part of the physical trait of its host, such as a human like skull on the front, bipedal but walks in a crablike manner. It would then proceeds to capture host to repeat the cycle. The creature is also said to be able contort itself into tightest space in order to hide or ambush its prey. The derelict spaceship and its sole dead occupant is said to be a bomber-carrier, intend to drop the eggs onto targeted planet as a sort of biological weapon of mass destruction.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

N. x Lady Pauline.

Got a new plant from Fauzi today called Nepenthes x Lady Pauline, a hybrid consists of N.maxima x N.talangensis, which turned out to be a highlander (!). Hopefully it will thrive accordingly. Fauzi also appeared in tonight's Majalah Tiga documentary. Whilst having a short conversation with him about the business aspect of this hobby, he said that it took him at least three years to yield some results. Many have exited from this business, and some organisations took at least several decades to thrive. Nevertheless he advised that patience is the most important aspect to succeed. He started from sratch and researched independently on his own most of the time. Right now, he is experimenting with seedlings which is the most difficult steps in the business as it is prone to factors difficult to control. He also shared his inspirations and hope that eventually, people will notice the fact that these wonderful plants are occuring naturally in this country.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Chloe & Dylan.

A pic of Chloe and Dylan playing in their baby cot. Which we bought for Chloe, now handed over for Dylan. Chloe still has fondness for it. Dylan is getting very active. Both are fascinated with the camera as well. Chloe would mischeviously grap it straight from me when she's close enough whereas Dylan would crawl the distance as the first glance, climb all over you and reach for it. However, I have to be careful for him not to taste the camera and salivated all over it.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Once Upon A Time In China (黃飛鴻)

One of my favourite Chinese martial arts movies of all time is Once Upon A Time In China (1991), also known as Wong Fei Hung (黃飛鴻) and its sequel directed by the famous HK director and producer, Tsui Hark (徐文光). Arguebly the movie which set off a slew of martial art flicks from HK in the early 90s upon its successful box office takings, the original spins off 4 sequels, numerous non-related series and introduced then Chinese martial art champion, future superstar, Jet Li to the global audience.
Wong Fei Hung is a Chinese folkhero based in Foshan (佛山), Guangdong (廣東). Being a folkhero, the line between facts and fictions are often blurred. The movie is a highly fictionalised account of this legendary figure.
Wong Fei Hung is the son of Wong Kei Ying (黃麒英) who is one of the Ten Tigers Of Guangdong (廣東十虎 a grouping of ten top martial art masters in Southern China). Wong is a medical practitioner as well as a formidable martial artist. His martial art knowledge is rooted in the famous Hung Branch style (洪家) (one of the major five Southern Chinese branches, founded by Hung Hei Kun -洪熙官), taught to him by his father. Wong Kei Ying appears in the second sequel but is nearly defeated by Kwai Keuk Chat aka Clubfoot, who eventually became a student of Fei Hung. This is abit ridiculous, afterall Wong Kei Ying is a formidable master himself but maybe he is getting old.
Wong's most famous style is said to be the Shadowless Kick, rumoured to be so swift that one can't even see the shadow. In the first movie, this style is depicted as a basic swift kick but in subsequent sequels, it became a chain of kicks, kicking the opponent many times before landing. Now that is abit far fetch. Another is the Fist Of Ten Forms, a combination of punches incorporating the basic movements of the Hung Branch style. This is briefly mentioned in the first movie. His favourite weapon is said to be the wooden pole as well as the southern tiger fork, although the later is not depicted.
Wong is also rumoured to be an avid lion dancer. In the second but poorer sequel, Wong participated in a special "King Lion" lion dance competition organised by Empress Dowager which eventually turned into a massive battleground between different opponents. As a medical practitioner, he owned Po Chi Lam (寶芝林) clinic which he uses as both his home and occasional practise ground for his students. He often involve himself in revolutionary ideas and this landed him in troubles which gave him an opportunity to showcase his fighting skills, in the movies at least. The stories took place the end of the increasingly turbulent period of the 19th Century Southern China as the nation is increasingly tearing itself apart and as well as the influx of Western forces. Tsui Hark inserted couple of historical figures and associations liberally, like Liu Yongfu (劉永福), the general of the Black Flag Army, the White Lotus Society (白蓮教), Dr. Sun Yat Sen and Lu Hao-tung (陸皓東), both revolutionary figures.
Prior to this movie, the most profilic depiction of Wong Fei Hung is a series of movies starred by the late Kwan Tak Heng (關德興), who acted as the titular role for at least a staggering 77 movies, between 40s to 70s. Actor Shek Kin (石堅) who, after playing so many antagonistic roles against Kwan Tak Heng, became synonymous with villainous roles. As bad as Shek Kin as the saying goes.
Without doubt, Once Upon A Time In China and its sequels contained a strong nationalistic message and deal with Western imperialism throughout. Wong is said to protect the Chinese pride fiercely.
The best aspect of the movies are the fighting sequence. Smooth and breathtaking, it is something which was not seen before. Of course there are bloopers. An obvious one is a sequence where Wong did a somersault and one can clearly see the wig hang out halfway.
There are two memorable antagonists whom Wong faced. In the first movie, there is Yim Chan Tung (Yee Kuan Yan), a down and out martial art master who practises the Iron Body Stance whereby swords and spears could not penetrate his body, as well as being able withstand powerful counterpunches. He is obsessed with challenging Wong and claim his place as the number one martial art master in Foshan but alas, Wong went one up on him and delivered couple of high powered kicks and punches to his face and head instead during the final fight, causing him to suffer from severe head trauma. Eventually he is killed in a hail of bullets.
The second movie featured the now famous Donnie Yen as Lap Lan Yin Shu, a general of the Qing government who is a master of the Four Gates Pole Stance and the infamous Cloth Staff style. His showdown with Wong is simply breathtaking for its time, both using long weapons to try to overcome each other. Its no wonder as the action director is non other than Yuen Woo Ping. In the end, Wong managed to slice through the Cloth Staff using a splinter from his broken wooden pole and slashed Lap Lan's neck, effectively killing him.
Wong has numerous students under him at one time or another but the most profilic and often depicted in movies are Leong Foon, Lam Sai Wing aka Porky, Leng Wan Kai, Ngar Chat Sou aka Bucktooth and Kwai Keuk Chat aka Clubfoot. With the exception of Lam, whether the rest really exist is unknown. Each of the above students are depicted in the movies as colourful characters. Kung fu actor Yuen Biao, a contemporary of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, starred as the first movie Leong Foon, thereafter, now retired actor Benny Mok took over the subsequent roles. Both added a different dimension to the character.
Wong is said to have married four times and have ten kids but in fiction he has only one true love, his Thirteenth Aunt (十三姨)(the former beauty queen, Rosamund Kwan). Technically, she is only his aunt due to her father is a sworn brother of Wong's grandfather.
Eventually, the too numerous sequels and inferior spinoffs led a to saturation point and eventually, all Wong Fei Hung related movies disappeared all together from the cinema by end of 90s.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Wrestler.

Never would I have thought that Mickey Rourke, actor of R-rated movies like 9½ Weeks (1986) and The Wild Orchid (1990), last seen with a heavy makeup as Marv in Sin City (2005), would have starred in this 2008 drama about a washed up former superstar wrestler, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, real name Robin Ramzinski, whose life now is reduced to renting out a cabin in a trailer park, doing whatever jobs available for him at a local supermarket and spending time in a strip joint. Whatever glories he experienced when he was at his peak 20 years ago has left him; now he is broken and all alone. Still clamouring for past glories, he wrestles during the weekend, taking a cocktail of drugs to maintain his performance and keep in shape. Based on some interviews I read, the director, Darren Aronofsky, insisted for Mickey Rourke as the lead whose tale is somehow loosely reflective of Mickey Rourke's often turbulent real life persona. Mickey Rourke certainly drive this movie and his acting is somewhat natural and managed to bring out heart-wrenching moments in a subtle way. He also looked different, somehow aged alot, possibly because he underwent some surgery on his face during his brief stint as a boxer. The beautiful Marisa Tomei also gave a strong performance as the aging stripper, Cassidy. What is shocking is a full nudity shot of her, something I could only imagine previously ;) as her previous roles are usually quite modest. It is no wonder that both are nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively. One memorable moment is perhaps when Randy is rejected by his estranged daugther (Evan Rachel Wood) for missing a dinner date with her. Before that, his attempt to get close with Cassidy is also brutally turned down. This is the turning point in Randy's life. All hopes seem to fade and suddenly blown away. From there, Randy concluded that only in the ring will he still be accepted and loved. Only his fans, who still chant his name every time he climbs into the ring, will he be still recognized, without any emotional backlash. This pulls him back to the world where he has attempted to move away from. Thus he agreed to the main event of which is life threatening because he had just underwent a bypass due to all those years of substance abuse. Cassidy, realising her folly in rejecting Randy after a subtle scene whereby nobody take notice of her anymore nor give tips whilst on the center stage, desperately persuade Randy out of the final match. In the final scene, although his opponent pleaded for him to conclude the match, he climbed up the rope, despite the ever-growing pain in his chest, and executed his signature move, The Ram Jam...then the movie cut to black. I will never know whether Randy survives or not. This is definitely not one of those feel good Rocky movie...more in the vein of Million Dollar Baby (2004). The movie also offered the audience a slight glimpse into the daily going on of the wrestlers, and one particular hardcore match involving Necro Butcher with Randy is really hard to swallow. Definitely one of my favourite movie right now.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Fauzi interviewed.

It is great to see Fauzi the man to be interviewed by The Star newspaper today under their Star Two (pg.2 to 3) section. In it, he spoke in great length about his passion about pitcher plants, how he started and his vision. I wonder if Fauzi is looking for a business partner :)

Voluntary Separation Scheme...

Well, woke up to an unpleasant news of being targeted as one of the employees "recommended" for voluntary separation scheme (VSS). After working for about 6 years at this steel mill, a local arm of a famous Australian coating line located in Kapar, the business went from bad to worse within 2 quarters after riding high for a period of 6 months before that. Plagued with tens of thousands tons of steel coils, purchased at a higher market price before the commodities and global economic meltdown, the business is now trying to cope with losses in millions (not including USD exchange rate losses) by initiating a first wave of costs cut back by offering VSS to its permanent employees across the board. Well, not across the board anyway.
To my surprise, irregardless of what the official communication was, actually there are a bunch of employees being "tagged" for "highly recommended" to take VSS. I am one of them. The reason behind this is quite murky. That's the problem. VSS is voluntary, not via indirect duress of being asked to go for a one on one meeting with a sales manager for a "chat". I think that took the dignity out of the whole process. I did not debate in length the reason for being asked so but the situation is this, if the VSS is not fully subscribe to its desired number of employees, and meet the so-called "forecast" to sustain the business, since they are scaling back its fiscal budget, thus creating redundancy, the second wave to be considered would be retrenchment. And in between that, those "tagged" would be indirectly put into "cold storage". Better to take VSS right? However, it is a highly risky move for me as I have a small family to raise, as well as with the economic situation right now, would I be able to bounce back into the labour market in time?
Ah well, que sera sera, I have had enough of all the shenanigans anyway. Hope to roll with the punches now...

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Full Moon Party.

Attended mom's cousin's son's son full moon party at Puchong today with everyone. They stayed just a couple of roads down from sister's place so we walked there. Took pics in twilight mode. Everytime pics did not turn out properly, I would tell Esther that it's "art" heh. Yeah, right. Nice buffet they prepared. Embarrassingly, I forgot to prepare angpow for them. Luckily, sister gave an packet to me and we quickly stuffed the money inside and pass it back to them on the way back to Subang.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Happy Together (春光乍泄).

In my personal opinion, Happy Together (春光乍洩) (1997) constitutes the last "great" output from WKW. About the relationship of a gay couple, it was controversial and also sensationalized during its release as including a "love scene" between the late Cantopop heartthrob, Leslie Cheung and "ladies man", Tony Leung. The movie got a "Category 3" in Hong Kong in terms of viewership admission ie "R-rated". Re-watching that infamous scene, which lasted about 4 to 5 minutes, I felt that Tony Leung looked kinda "tense" whilst Leslie Cheung is looking every bit at ease heh. But this movie is beyond that, and what WKW has done is giving an intense look into a vicious cycle of love-hate relationship between the two main characters. There is nothing "happy" about it (in fact if the characters were to be a man and woman, it would give the same intense feeling). The songs featured, amongst others, are I Have Been In You by the late Frank Zappa, and the haunting scores by Astor Piazzolla.
Set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the film started proper with Ho Po Wing (Leslie Cheung) telling Lai Yiu Fai (Tony Leung) that he was bored with him and ended their relationship whilst in the midst of their journey to see the famous Iguazu Falls. The breathtaking Falls served as a metaphor of a sort, as Ho had previously bought a lamp depicting it, as an ultimate destination point of their turbulent relationship, of which neither could reach together happily. Lai narrated that this was not the first time they broke off, and got back together. They came here from Hong Kong, in the midst of the pre-handover from the British to China, to run away from Lai's father, as Lai had stolen a sum of money from his father's business old friend to fund their lifestyle and trip.
Lai then had to grudgingly work as a doorman earning tips at a tango bar to re-coup cash to return to HK. He had spent all his money on the trip as well as on Ho. But Ho (whether consciously or by co-incidence) showed up one night in the arm of another man at the bar, noticed Lai but both ignored each other. Ho then continued to purposely went to the bar in the arms of various men, to hurt Lai emotionally and arouse his jealousy. Then out of the blue, he phoned Lai at the bar which Lai promptly ignored. He then called Lai's place of residence, asking him to visit him. Lai ignored this invitation but did show up in drunken state at Ho's apartment whereby Lai unleashed his emotions and pent up frustration at Ho. Ho later gave a gold wrist watch to Lai so that he could get some cash, but the next day, asked Lai to return it. He appeared to have been beaten up. Lai promptly returned the watch but warned Ho not to contact him again. Presumably, the watch was stolen by Ho, he had been beaten up badly the second time around as he showed up at Lai's doorstep. Lai emotional defense melted as he saw the state of Ho was in, and took him to the hospital. Up to this point, the entire movie was in chrome-like black and white. The coloration came in at this point, reflecting the blossoming emotions of the characters.
Lai later allowed Ho to stay at his rented apartment as Ho's both hands had been injured, and nursed him back to health. There are some lighter, humour infused moment here, as Ho tried to seduce back Lai. In time, Lai accepted Ho again and their relationship blossomed once more. Lai seemed most contented when Ho is back with him. This might hint at Lai being driven to point of being possessive because of insecurity whilst Ho seemed to be unable to hold on monogamous relationship, and took Lai for granted as a temporary, solid emotional ground to hold on. He could "see" that Lai is very much in love with him and manipulate this to his advantage.
The momentary "happy" re-start was not to last as once Ho fully recovered, he quickly became bored and continued his wayward, promiscuous attitude when Lai was not around. By this time, Lai had worked in a Chinese restaurant as kitchen helper where longer hours are required for more money. He also met Chang (Chang Chen), a travelling Taiwanese, who may be a homosexual himself. Lai and Chang became friends at the work place.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Lai and Ho deteriorated further. Ho began to come back late from his nightly activities, leaving Lai alone in the apartment, after work, waiting for him. When Lai questioned him, Ho would get defensive and berated Lai for being such a tightass. The issue came to ahead when Ho confronted Lai as to where his passport was, of which Lai refused to return it back to him (Lai had kept it secretly during Ho's recovery period, possibly to prevent "losing" him again). Ho, in his tantrum, beaten up Lai and left. Lai, unable to give up the memories of Ho and lost him once more, became very depressed again and may even be suicidal, at this stage. Chang consoled him by accompanying him on a nightly drinking sessions. He also asked him to pour all his repressed emotional pains into a tape recorder as he will bring it to the end of the world (Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego) . There is a lighthouse (Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse) there which one could drop all their sorrows. Chang may also served as the strength and pivotal point to Lai to break "free".
Chang then left to continue on his journey. In the meantime, Lai tried to cope with his depression and loneliness by engaging in casual sexual encounters with other men in public places. He also encountered Ho again but did not acknowledge each other. During this period, he had undertaken a job at a local abattoir because of higher pay and moved to another apartment. He also wrote an apologetic letter to his estranged father. Ho, in an apparent same cycle as before, tried to contact Lai again but to no avail. Ho then rented Lai's old apartment where they spent time together and waited desperately in vain for Lai to return. This is the most poignant scene in my opinion. It seemed that Ho is perpetually "trapped" in the relationship on his own now, whilst Lai has managed to break free and moved on.
Eventually, when Lai saved up enough money to return to HK, he successfully dropped by Iguazu Falls, reflecting and reminiscence of his failed relationship with Ho. There, Lai was shown standing at The Devil's Throat section of the Falls, holding on to Ho's passport. He narrated that Ho and himself should be there together. This surmised their relationship all this while, a relationship which could and should have been elevated to another stage of maturity, rather than running to a stand still in a non-conclusive, emotionally exhausting cycle.
The final closing scene had Lai stopped by Taiwan on his way back to HK, to visit Chang's parents food stall where he took a photograph of Chang standing beside the lighthouse at the end of the world. Chang had told him previously that if there is one place Lai could "find" him, it would be there. Stability finally entered Lai's turbulent life all these years. At this point, Danny Chung's version of The Turtles' Happy Together kicks in, giving a sense of hope to the character.
An alternative ending with Tony's character killing himself is documented in Buenos Aires Zero Degree making-of documentary. The documentary also captured the ever changing thought of WKW. The original plot is way different from the final released version. WKW also removed all scenes featuring HK Cantopop star Shirley Kwan. I preferred the released version and am glad WKW did so, as the way I see it, the original plot is way too dark and nihilistic.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Dylan - recovered and tried to stand up.

Dylan's recovered fully, not only from the fever which caused me severe anxiety but also from a bout of itchy rashes which the doc said is not serious. Whew! Today, he even tried to stand up to reach the telly.

Kite from Subang Parade.

Went to Toys R Us last Saturday to have a look at what gift Esther and I should get for Chloe's birthday. In our mind is a masak-masak set. After making sure we know the sort of price range to be expected, we decided to wait closer to her birthday before getting one. We saw some good ones like a kitchen set with all the accesories. Wanna make sure that the toys are suitable for her age too. One of the convenience of modern toys is that the manufacturer put the kids age category on the box itself. Helps me make the right choice..with a price of course...in the tune of several hundred ringgits...but then again Esther keeps reminding me that if I could blow several thousands on some worthless jeans and collectable toys, several hundreds should not stop me from getting on what we think Chloe wants...okie. Esther then got a kite for Chloe whilst we ponder...problem is flying it...it was more difficult than I thought...also the mosquitoes were attacking us (Subang should be renamed Mosquito Coast)...promised Esther to bring the kite back to Malacca on our next visit as the wind there is noticebly stronger...wayyy stronger than Subang...by the way, aren't kite used to be free...at least when I was about six or seven, when I was still staying at my late grandma's house in Batu Lanchang, people would make them out from couple of lidis and pink plastics...then double coat it in glue with glasses for a sky battle.