Sunday, 31 May 2009

Dinner at Teluk Gong.

Foo Yoo's birthday, we all had dinner at Coconut Flower Restaurant, Teluk Gong. They serves nice fried tofu ( of which Chloe took almost half when dip with the mayo), fish as well as oyster with eggs. They also serve nice fermented alcoholic coconut drinks (tody) which comes bottled in recycled softdrinks 1.5 litre plastic. Their most popular dish, sweet sour chilli mudcrabs with fried mantou for dipping in the sauce is great but unfortunately like always, I seem to have stomach pain after each meal there...luckily, Foo Yoo's driving and he's like an WRC pilot so we reach home in no time.

Chloe ~ swimsuit.

Went to The Curve on Saturday to let the 2 precious see some bird show but did not materialise as both became agitated due to lack of sleep the previous day. Esther managed to get a swimsuit for Chloe from one the stalls. It is a little too loose but its alright.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Terminator Salvation.

Watched Terminator Salvation this afternoon at Summit USJ. It is alright but still feel that more could be done to the overall storyline. No solid reason is given behind why Skynet is doing what it's doing on the screen. Why harvest the survivors? For raw energy? Why not just "terminate" them? Maybe to use as force labour to built the rather dull and lame looking Skynet city/factory. The only reason maybe I would re watch it again is the last 15 minutes whereby a chunky and beefy T-800 Model 101 (Arnie's face and body physique from the original '84 movie is CGI-ed onto Roland Kickinger) appears to take on John Connor (Christian Bale). Suddenly a wave of nostalgic feeling washes me over. And McG literally made T-800 into an "unstoppable, killing machine". Heck, he, I mean, it even chop an eight feet tall T-600 into half with just a swipe of its arm. In all its shiny chrome-ness glory and one which appears "muscular" comparatively with the original version. Maybe I should cancel that T-600 Hot Toys preorder. Initially I thought that the T-600 looks macho with a Gatling gun and huge but darn it, it is primitive, slow, dumb and fodder for The Resistance. Even a teenage Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) could trap and bring one down without any firing weapons. By the way I could not identify a single T-700 but I guess it is suppose to be in there somewhere. And the lines are corny to a certain degree (very much like Star Wars), particularly by John Connor, which makes him looks like suffering from super ego complex. I understand he is some sort of messiah to the survivors but darn, he can be irritating, particularly that "This is The Resistance...I am John Connor" broadcast. Also more should be explored in terms of John Connor's character and psyche. I mean, we are talking about someone who knows what is going on and about to happen and yet any "different" actions could potentially "wipe" off the current existence and timeline. And how does Connor deal with the fact that his natural father Reese is just a teenager and Connor would have to sent him back in time to conceive Connor which also means his death? Heavily pregnant Bryce Dallas Howard appears as Kate, Connor's wife and she appears to be wasted in her role as it isn't explored further in the storyline. And Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) turns out to be a hybrid Terminator with natural human emotions and certain biological parts still intact, as the perfect pawn to lure Connor into Skynet's command center. By the way, why the heck did the trailer reveal Wright as a machine? Wright and Connor made an agreement to infiltrate Skynet to locate Reese and other survivors. But Skynet plans the whole darn events from the beginning. Very smart. But Skynet did not take into account that his trusted pawn would turn and join The Resistance coz of all things, he/it still has a "human heart" who also fell in love with a Lt. Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood). But who wouldn't if you have the exotic beauty Bloodgood as someone who has saved you and keeps hinting "fall in love with me". Again her role is so flat that I thought she was a Terminator too. Skynet gets blown up nuclear style (makes me wonder how The Resistance protect themselves from all the radioactive fallout) which is also due to its own fault of being smart but lacking foresight for storing all the T-800 nuclear power cells un-protected. Connor got impaled by the T-800 before that and about to die but Wright made the ultimate sacrifice and gives his/its heart to the messiah instead. Then, Connor spouts the timeless, boring line whilst flying into a (nuclear) sunset, "the battle is won but the war is not over". I have a nagging feeling that this movie focus more on Marcus Wright, not John Connor. It's nice McG paid tribute to the original movies but maybe just a tad too much, without any newer, exciting plot to sustain the interest. Also, there is not enough attention to the characters development. Typical of McG, everything is very "showy" with fast pace, heavy edit actions and big, big explosions which scores on style but lacking substance. Here's hoping more could be done in part v, if there's one.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Star Trek 2009.

Dif-tor heh smusma (Live long and prosper) ~ Vulcan greeting.
I am never a fan of Star Trek. I find it boring with too much pseudo-scientific conversation. I am aware that like Star Wars, the franchise has a huge following with cult like status amongst its fans. When the Next Generation premiered two decades ago on TV3 on sleepy afternoons, I tried to watch it and see what's all the excitement about. I ended up disappointed. The series work better than a sleeping pill. So when Esther pestered me to catch a movie last Sunday, we decided to watch the latest in the movie series, known as Star Trek without any further descriptive title. The cast is filled with contemporary stars, like Zachary Quinto (infamous Sylar from Heroes), Eric Bana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Karl Urban with cameo appearance by Winona Ryder and even the original Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. And I am impressed. The storyline is exciting and there is never a dull moment. The movie begins with USS Kelvin encountering a massive star ship known as the Narrada, which is exiting from a warp. The Narrada is a Borg technology infused mining ship, manned by the Romulans and their leader, Nero (Eric Bana). On board USS Kelvin, the captain heed to Nero's request to go aboard and is killed. Acting Captain George Kirk then evacuated the ship personnel, including his then pregnant wife. Kirk sacrifices himself after locking in the USS Kelvin into the path of the Narrada. Years later, his son, James Tiberius Kirk, is introduced as a brash, devil may care character (James Pine). The film also introduces the famous half Vulcan human, Spock (Zachary Quinto) and his parents, including human mother played by a aging looking Winona Ryder. From here onwards, the original characters are introduced one by one, from medical officer Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban), communications officer Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldaña), helmsman Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), navigator Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin, who will also appear in Terminator : Salvation as Kyle Reese), and finally chief engineer Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg). The original Spock, Leonard Nimoy reprises his famous role in this movie. What had happened was 154 years in the future, around AD2387, a supernova about to occur which will threaten the entire galaxy. Spock devises the Red Matter, an artificial black hole which will absorb the explosion but he was too late in preventing it from destroying the planet Romulus. Nero, whose pregnant wife is on the planet, became insane with anger and swore revenge at Spock. However, before that, both the Narrada and a space shuttle carrying the remains of the Red Matter and piloted by Spock, were absorbed into the black hole's event horizon and displaced into the past. Thus, what director Josh Abraham has intended to do is to re-create an alternative timeline and origins of the Star Trek characters and ultimately re-introduces them to new audiences (like me) whom may not have followed the series. I personally think he also succeeded in re-freshening the characters to loyal Trekkies. The characterisation does not deviate much and the (suppose) core characteristics and personalities are still intact. Here's hoping that The Terminator : Salvation and The Transformers : Revenge Of The Fallen will generate the same excitement.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Elvis Presley.

Would you believe that yesterday
This girl was in my arms and swore to me
She'd be mine eternally
And Marie's the name of his latest flame
~ Marie's The Name (His Latest Flame)
You fooled me with your kisses
you cheated and you schemed
heaven knows how you lied to me
you're not the way you seemed
~ Devil In Disguise
Won't let our love survive
or dry the tears from your eyes
but let's don't let a good thing die
when honey
you know I have never lied to you
~ Suspicious Mind
Bright light city gonna set my soul
gonna set my soul on fire
got a whole lot of money that's ready to burn
so get those stakes up higher
There's a thousand pretty women waitin out there
And they're all livin devil may care
And I'm just the devil with love to spare
~ Viva Las Vegas

Johnny Cash.

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.
~ Man In Black.

Chloe's cardigan.

Esther knitted a nice cardigan for Chloe which she wore to Ikea today.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Mom's Bak Chang Dumpling.

It's bak chang time again, celebrated on annually on every fifth day of the fifth month base on Chinese Lunar Calendar...yummy. Mom makes it extra special every year by adding whole century egg yoke, chestnut, and the most crucial ingredient, the fatty portion of the pork, all wraps up in dried lotus leaf. Not really healthy but hey, its only once a year.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Microsoft's “Class Invariants By Abstract Interpretation”

Every now and then we have some marketing or branding blunders which use words representing something totally different in other languages. Even some Marketing or Promotional Strategy 101 dedicated an entire chapter to it. I could not recall historically any blunders on this scale which involves my mother tongue, Hokkien. It involves one of Microsoft's title of an academic paper by a researcher prior to joining the organisation called "Class Invariants By Abstract Interpretation" which if you know Hokkien (irregardless Northern or Southern) and Bahasa Melayu, the acronym translated to a highly vulgar word in reference to the female genital, usually use to swear at others. According to the latest source, Microsoft allows their researchers to post their past papers on their site, to enable the public to search across these researchers’ entire body of prior work. Microsoft also explains that the acronym which causes so much cyberlaughter across blogosphere, particularly from Pearl Of The Orient state all the way down to the Lion City State is not one of their apps or products (lucky them!), is unintentional and will be looking into removing it shortly. I wonder if the local employees of Microsoft is aware this rip roaring subject. And local stand up comedians must be having time of their life taking potshots at Microsoft.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Mamoru Oshii's The Sky Crawlers.

Oshii's latest anime, The Sky Crawlers (2008) is based on a series of novels by by Hiroshi Mori. The movie opens with an exhilarating dogfight sequence in what seems to be retro fitted fighter planes. We are then introduced to the main protoganist, Yuichi Kannami, a newly transferred pilot to the Urisu airbase, one of many, owns by Rostock Corporation, a warfare company which manufactures the rear-propeller Sanka B fighter plane. This is follow by a series of (painfully) slow montage like sequence, typical of Oshii style, only punctuated by occasional dogfight sequences. The visual is excellent and Oshii seems to pay homage to the 40s and 50s Americana and European influences, such as roadside diner, open top Cadillac with sunglasses wearing women, A-2 flight jackets, popcorns, beers and bowlings. Not sure what period or year the story is sets in but there seems to be sepia toned flatscreen monitors and desktops around. Communications during flight are all in American English. He also gives a nod to his previous movies, Jinroh and Ghost In The Shell.
Eventually through the course of the movie, it is revealed that Kannami is a Kildren, which is a term use for adolescent pilots manufactured exclusively for air warfare. A Kildren is "born" at adolescent level and does not age, due to the side effect of a patent drug use for genetic modulation developed by Rostock from the past. Since they are adolescent, their sharp reflexes remains intact, ideal for being a fighter pilot. It is hinted at that they might live forever and their memories may be implanted from other dead pilots or continuously recycle for future, replaced self after death. Maybe there are memories and DNA storage banks somewhere. This is revealed when "Westy" Yudagawa, a white haired youth with a penchant to fold the newspaper in a neat manner is killed and subsequently another lookalike with same behavioral trait appeared months later. Even so, their memories about the past remain sketchy at best. Kannami, it turns out, are formerly Jinroh Kurita, an ace pilot shot dead by base Command Officer Suito Kusanagi, not too long ago. Kusanagi is a former ace pilot who joined the base about eight years ago, as per revealed by Chief Mechanic Sasakura. Kusanagi fell in love with Kurita and has a daugther with him, Mizuki, although she informs Mizuki that she is her sister. She shot Kurita as requested once he realised that eternal youth is not such a good idea after all. A Kildren typically spend their time killing each other in designated battle theatres endlessly. Their only goal is to kill or be killed, which is frequent. If a Kildren lives long enough, such as Kusanagi's case, they began to question their sense of purpose, role or existence. A typical R&R for a Kildren is an endless routine of drinking, party and sex. Kusanagi survives long enough to be appointed an officer but becomes wary of life and the endless cycle of senseless butchery. Only one Kildren, Naofumi Tokino, seems to be able to accept all this with a pinch of salt. He gives a lot of hint to Kannami. In one scene before a disasterous major operation, Tokino says that every pilots from other bases look kind of the same. Somehow he has seen them before. Not Mitsuya, a bitter female ace who struggles with her own vague memories, who reveals all the above in a singular scene with Kannami as the story nears the end. The adults know but pretend not to. Kusanagi is further wrecked with nostalgia and survivor guilt as she sees Kannami who exhibits the same behavioral traits as Kurita and fell in love once more. Strictly speaking, are Kannami and Kurita the same person? Kannami realises this vicious cycle after the conversation with Mitsuya and seeing the "replaced" version of Yudagawa. Initially he doesn't seems to care.
The background of the story is not explained but there seems to be a perpetual sky warfare meant to both entertain and ensure that the peaceful societies and economies remain intact. Like a wrestling match or gladiatorial game except on a Battle Of Britain scale. Rostock's competitor (or enemy) is Lautern Corporation which uses front propeller, twin engined Rainbow and Skylys instead, but for all we know, they might be from the same side meant to ensure the war does not end. Reminds me of Orwell's 1984. It is also hinted at that if a particular base starts to win too often, curious incidents such failing engines or oil leaking issues will suddenly occur. And then there is the undefeatable unseen character "The Teacher", a former Kildren who chose to become an adult and works for Lautern. He is like a Red Baron bogeyman to the Kildren, meant to ensure that the battle victories are evenly balanced out. Kusanagi shares that "The Teacher" used to be working for Rostock and also a former lover from the days when she was still a full time pilot. He is identified from his panther motif fighter plane.
In the end, after preventing Kusanagi from suicide, Kannami flies off on what seems to be a routine group mission the next day but suddenly breaks off and engages "The Teacher" in one on one suicidal dogfight when he is spotted. Tried he might but in what is a heart wrenching moment, he still looses and subsequently shot to pieces, literally. Before that he says, "you can change the view of the road you walk everyday. Even if the roads are the same, you can see new things." Kusanagi waits nonchalantly at the base for Kannami to return, and so are the rest but knowing his final fate, they walks off, but then again, maybe they suspect that they will see him again in the near future thus engaging themselves in another endless cycle of life, love and death. Before the scene ends, the horizon shows another new pilot least this movie is more accessible, compare to say, Ghost In The Shell or Avalon. But still, sometimes those more than 10 seconds montages can put you to sleep...

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Chloe And Dylan ~ Cats In The Hat.

Esther bought a lovely baseball cap for Dylan from Poney. Chloe wants it too so probably will drop by this weekend to get her a newpaper boy cap which Esther thought is nice for Chloe.

The Smashing Pumpkins.

For years I've been sleeping
Couldn't tell a soul
Be ashamed
Of the mess you've made
My eyes never forget, you see
Behind me

Now we drive the night, to the ironies of peace
You can't help deny forever
The tragedies reside in you
The secret sights hide in you
The lonely nights divide you in two
All my blisters now revealed

It's a pity we're apart
It's a shame you broke my heart
But I've got a new girlfriend
She looks a lot like you dear
No-one could ever do dear
All the world must know
That I loved you so
Especially when you'd go
Away and leave me here
Go away and leave me alone
All the world must know
~ Pennies.

Try to hold on
To this heart alive
Try to hold on
To this love aloud
Try to hold on
And we are still alive
Try to hold on
And we have survived
Try to hold on
~ Try, Try, Try.

That you can change, that you're not stuck in vain
We're not the same, we're different tonite
We'll the crucify the insincere tonite
We'll make things right, we'll feel it all tonite
The impossible is possible tonite
Believe in me like I believe in you tonite
~ Tonight Reprise.

The original lineup of The Smashing Pumpkins led by perfectionist Billy Corgan is both cool...and weird. And loves their songs and hates it in equal measures. Never in between. Sometimes the songs would be so lovely to listen to that they are played endlessly. Sometimes I could not even go through the first part, often on numbers which feature too many layers of wailing guitars to the point of irritability. Kind of too self indulgent. But if it hits the spot, The Smashing Pumpkins can bring you soaring through the sky.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hot Toys MMS ~ Briareos Hecatonchires & Deunan Knute.

Masamune Shiro's Appleseed ~ The story took place in 22nd Century (2131AD) after World War III. Although the global conflict does not involve any nuclear weapons, it decimated the world population by 50% and left many nations crippled forever. The main protogonists are Deunan Knute and Briareos Hecatonchires, former S.W.A.T. members of the L.A.P.D. After being found in an area known as Badlands, they are subsequently recruited into E.S.W.A.T. (Extra-Special Weapons and Advanced Tactics), a paramilitary group serving as a counter-terrorism unit, crime response, and special forces branch of the Central Management Bureau, enforcing international law and keeping the peace in Olympus, the world's most advance city-state which arise after the war. Olympus is an experimental city-state constructed by the General Management Control Office inhabited by both humans and bioroids. Bioroids are half human, half clone, genetically engineered species created to serve humankind and manage all administrative tasks in Olympus. The city state infrastructure, including the override circuits which safeguard the Multi-ped Cannon, is control and run by Gaia, a supercomputer. The current prime minister of Olympus is Athena Areios, a first generation Bioroid herself. Bioroids emotion are surpressed during their creation, and with them consisting at least half of Olympus population, peace and order are easily maintained. They also do not have the ability to reproduce and have a much shorter life span than humans or the first generation bioroids. However insurgency activities are on the rise, usually due to human and bioroids differences in ideologies and views.

Briareos Hecatonchires
Deunan's point man in E.S.W.A.T. He is a former S.W.A.T member under the same unit as Deunan and her father prior to the outbreak of WWW III. He is also Deunan's lover prior to the war. After being severely injured in a battle which destroyed 75% of his body, he is subsequently restored with a cyborg body which has a unique controller known as the Hecatonchires system. He is the only survivor out of a hundred candidates tested for the system.
Std. Armaments :
Cyborg skin ~ elastic outer layer covering the entire body capable of extraordinary sense of sensation as well as adjusting the body temperature to the optimum degree. It also enhances the physical strength to a superhuman level.
Cyborg sight ~ eight eyes mounted to his head, four on his face, two at the bases of "rabbit ear" sensors and two at the tips for allowance to overcome blind spot as well as allows him to see around corners without exposing himself. It moves in response to Briareos' mood.
Cyborg brain ~ augmented by an auxiliary brain which is a information processor capable of handling information in a conceptual format rather than hard numerical data.
Hecatonchires system ~ named after the hundred handed giants in the Greek mythology who guard the lower depth of Hades, it is unique to Briareos only. It is a cybernetics controller capable of controlling dozens of mechanical limbs or other bioroid/cyborg bodies independently from one another, with no additional strain on Briareos. It is also said that Briareos could simultaneously control and operate a complex, complicated system such as an aircraft carrier or even satellite whilst go on his own task independantly.
Weapons ~ A pair of PROMETHEUS M-08 Pistols and ENIGMA M-117 Anti-Matter Cannon Rifle.

Deunan Knute
Deunan is a natural human. She is a specialist in weapons handling, explosive devices manipulations, formidable hand-to-hand combat expert, and an excellent Landmate pilot. She also trains herself to be ambidextrous. She is temporarily blinded in one eye during an operation against the Olympus Regular Army (ORA) uprising. Although does not possess the enhance abilities of a bioroid or cyborg, Deunan has continuously demostrated her capabilities in bringing down opponent far stronger and tougher than herself, a testament to the fact that in between post WWW III and pre-Olympus days, she has trained herself almost to the point of perfection in various battles that taken place in Badlands. Unknown to her is that her deceased father Carl Knute's DNA is part of the original Bioroid cloning process template.
Weapons ~ E.S.W.A.T Riffle HECATE STG 1002, E.S.W.A.T Hand Gun HECATE P-08, GUGES Landmate Exo Suit.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Terminator.

"I'll be back."

In a couple of weeks, The Terminator : Salvation would premier locally. Starring Christian Bale as John Connor, this would be the fourth movie in the series but other than that, I am not sure what the plot is all about. Saw some bits and pieces of the trailer on YouTube and some toy sites actually reveal who is human and otherwise. It also made me ordered the T-600 from Hot Toys (the T-600 will do as the T-800 is sold out everywhere). I am still considering whether to get Johnny though. One thing for sure, Arnold would not return as The Terminator model T-800. Generally without Arnold, The Terminator would be nothing coz Schwarzenegger is The Terminator. If there is no Arnold, someone would have to built him. Directed by James Cameron and released as a moderate budgeted sci-fi thriller back in 1984, this movie about a travel back in time battle for the future would go on to be one of the best cult movie of all time. I would not have thought about an assassin who is actually a cyborg disguised within layers of flesh to appear human. And good choice that Skynet, the future mother computer/AI who nuked the globe to get rid of the irritating homo sapiens by using a model which looks like Schwarzenegger. Afterall he is numerous times world body building champion. But then again maybe not, as eveything has a bydate. In Terminator 2 : Judgement Day, Arnie looks considerably much leaner and wrinkly. In T3, he looks like a prune. Maybe it is a good thing that in my mind, I kept saying The Terminator ended with Judgement Day. And Robert Patrick is just so worthy of being the antoganist, T-1000, a liquid shape shifting mimetic alloy. Like the exciting new Star Trek movie has done, here's hoping the fourth movie will re-ignite the faith once more.

Sylvester Stallone's Rocky And First Blood.

And the 80s also introduced me to Sly Stallone. I will forever remember him as two of the most memorable characters in American film history, the underdog boxer Rocky "The Italian Stallion" Balboa and one man army John Rambo. Although Rocky, directed by John Guilbert Avildsen was released in 1976, it is the movie which I first know the action star, again courtesy of VHS rental service and fellow movie maniac uncles. Also starring in Rocky are Talia Shire as Adrian, Rocky's love and eventual wife, Burt Young as Adrian's brother Paulie, the late Burgess Meredith (November 16, 1908– September 9, 1997. He is also The Penquin in the 60s Batman series), as Rocky's trainer Mickey Goldmill, and Carl Weathers as the champion, Apollo Creed. The first movie is about the timeless tale of a debt collector with a heart of gold who is also a small time boxer in Philidelphia. When the opponent of undefeated world heavy weight champion Apollo Creed gotten injured prior to a scheduled bout on New Year's Day 1976 which also happened to be US Bicentennial, Apollo came up with the idea of re-scheduling the fight to one where an unknown boxer would get a chance of a lifetime to have a shot at the championship title. He searches for a suitable boxer as his opponent when he came across Rocky's nickname The Italian Stallion. Apollo decided Rocky would be his opponent because he likes his nickname ("The Italian Stallion versus Apollo Creed. Sounds like a goddamn monster movie!"). This he also mused would not only capture the profits from crowd attendance but also in line with the spirit of the American Dream. Rocky is surprised but got his support from Mickey, Adrian and Paulie, even Gazzo his boss whom he collects debt for. One memorable scene include Rocky tried to get into shape for the bout by punching the carcasses in an abattoir. Another include the now famous sequence of running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (said to have been based on the training regime practised by real life former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier who appeared in the movie as a cameo). Rocky had a difficult start during practise to break his usual routine and get into form but he persevered and succeed. Before the bout began, he told Adrian that he is not aiming for the title but just to go the distance ie lasting 15 rounds of which nobody has done before when facing a champion like Apollo (inspired by a bout involving Muhammad Ali against Chuck Wepner). More importantly, it will prove that he is just not another "bum in the neighbourhood". The result of the match ended with a split decision which means Apollo gets to keep his title whilst Rocky embraces Adrian jubilantly for able to last all 15 rounds. The final words both men told each other at the end of the 15th round are "... Ain't gonna be no rematch" ~ Apollo. "... Don't want one" ~Rocky. And the main theme song "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti would end up to be one of the most memorable training song ever.
From there, I follow through the first Rambo movie First Blood (1982 by Ted Kotcheff). Based on the novel by David Morrell, the story is about a Vietnam War veteran and former Green Beret, John Rambo. After facing difficulty adjusting to civilian life, Rambo ended up as a drifter, searching for former war team members. He reached Hope, Washington where he seek out Delmore Barry but was told by his widow that Barry has died from cancer, presumably due to Agent Orange. He then gave the woman their team photo and proceed to Hope. However once there the town sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy) began to harass Rambo, probably due to his look. When Rambo disobey Teasle for not leaving the town, the sheriff charged him for vagrancy and took him into custody. At the station, Rambo is further subjected to harassment by the deputies. This triggered Rambo's memory of torture in the hands of the VC as POW during the war. His mind began to take a turn and Rambo started to think that he is still involved in combats. He escaped from the station in the nearby forest and Teasle began a manhunt. However, they are all no match to Rambo who defeated them all but did not kill any except for one who unfortunately fell from a helicopter. Even though this is not due to Rambo's direct action, Teasle has no choice but to call for assistance. Eventually the Washington State Patrol and 200 members of the Washington National Guard are called in to join the hunt. Also appearing at this point is Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), the former commanding officer of Rambo's old special forces team. Understanding Rambo's psyche during that time, Trautman recommended some time off for the manhunt and allow Rambo to settle down without any further casualties. This is rejected and eventually causes Rambo to rampage through the town, blowing up several buildings in the process. Finally, in the final confrontation within the sheriff's office, Rambo insisted to kill Teasle but Trautman managed to coax him to surrender. According to sources, the original novel has a much more darker, serious tone and Rambo would be the antagonist instead. He would also be suffering from severe post war trauma, going on a killing rampage whereby Teasle would tried to stop him. Rambo would eventually die from a gunshot in the head by Trautman.
Maybe due to nostalgia but I personally felt that these two movies represented the best of Sly Stallone. It is entertaining and pure action peppered with slight drama element. Of course I also rue the fact that these two movies indirectly started the trends of numerous sequels so popular in the 80s. And like all 80s movies, Rambo also gave a memorable soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith and that song "Its A Long Road" by Dan Hill.

Conan The Barbarian.

The movie which introduced me to The Governator of California. Directed by John Milius, this 1982 movie also starred James "Darth Vader voice" Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom, the film version's Conan antoganist, Mako Iwamatsu (December 10, 1933 – July 21, 2006) as a wizard who helped Conan and Max Von Sydow in a fleeting role as a King of Ophir. It is also memorable for its opening soundtrack, called Anvil Of Crom by the late Basil Poledouris (August 21, 1945 - November 8, 2006). And this is one of Esther's favourite movies from the 80s...make that mine as well.

Monica Belluci.

Someone asked me who is the sexiest celebrity currently. Of course Italian actress, model and sex symbol, Ms. Monica Belluci. First seen (rather fleetingly) as one of the three Count Dracula's vampiric concubines in Ford Coppola directed Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Belluci later starred in much more meatier roles in movies such as Malèna (2000) and higly disturbing and shocking French movie, Irréversible (2002). In 2003, Belluci appeared in Matrix sequel, Reloaded and Revolutions, as well as The Passion Of Christ. At 45, she still proves to be as irresistable as ever.

The Ramones.

Hey ho, let's go
Hey ho, let's go
They're forming in a straight line
They're going through a tight wind
The kids are losing their minds
~The Blitzkrieg Bop.
Beat on the brat
Beat on the brat
Beat on the brat with a baseball bat
What can you do?
What can you do?
With a brat like that always on your back
What can you do? (lose?)
~ Beat On The Brat.
Hey, little girl
I wanna be your boyfriend
Sweet little girl
I wanna be your boyfriend
Do you love me babe?
What do you say?
Do you love me babe?
What can I say?
~ I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.
Jackie is a punk
Judy is a runt
They both went down to Berlin, joined the Ice Capades
And oh, I don't know why
Oh, I don't know why
Perhaps they'll die.
~ Judy Is A Punk.
"With just four chords and one manic tempo, New York's Ramones blasted open the clogged arteries of mid-'70s rock, reanimating the music. Their genius was to recapture the short/simple aesthetic from which pop had strayed, adding a caustic sense of trash-culture humor and minimalist rhythm guitar sound." ~ Ira Robbins and Scott Isler, Trouser Press.
The Ramones, original members consisted of bassist and principle songwriter Douglas Colvin aka Dee Dee Ramone (September 18, 1951 - June 5, 2002), rhythm/lead guitarist John Cummings aka Johnny Ramone (October 8, 1948 – September 15, 2004) who is accredited with creating the highly influencial playing technique called "The Buzzsaw", the iconic lead singer and frontman Jeffrey Hyman aka Joey Ramone (May 19, 1951 – April 15, 2001) and drummer (sometimes lead guitar on albums) Erdélyi Tamás aka Tommy Ramone (the only surviving member from the original lineup and wrote one of the best pop ballad I've heard = I wanna be your boyfriend). America first recognised punk rock group which managed to fused pure tangerine sweet pop with loud, fast, straightforward musical style. Their debut album, Ramones, was produced for just USD 6400 during that time (1976). Listening to that album (in fact the only album I owned on this seminal band, others were just overheard or shared by friends to me), it was a surprise to me why it failed to chart at all. It is catchy and simple, fast and went straight to the heart.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Blooming Pitchers.

Well, previously I am kinda lost as to what does the N.Ampullaria ver green speckle pitcher is like and why is it called green speckle. Now, as the second pitcher has bloomed, I finally understand. The larger size helps and with enough sunlight, the color red eventually forms and cover the background, leaving only speckle of green. Lady Pauline also developed a second much bigger pitcher, with full coloration too. N.Ampullaria ver Red Peristome is still way far from what I deem should be red peristome coloration. It continue to develop small pitcher, completely green except for teeny weeny speck of reds and very very light red on the lips. Observed that these colors might disappear as the pitcher gets older! N. Hookeriana's third pitcher is huge but I do not know what happen to the lid...