Friday, July 30, 2004

New words in my block

The primacy affect is quite pronounced when it comes to learning words by Word Of the Day. The first few words are still quite clear. Flummery et al. are easily recalled, yet recent word acquisitions are not so salient in my mind. Anyhow, I am sure my story making is etching at least some of the words into my mind, like a lapidary quote on a ancient stone wall. Here is my latest mnemonic story:

The princess sat in the courtyard of the castle twiddling her thumbs, when suddenly her beau ideal for a suitor strode in. Her knowledge of charm and seduction was restricted to a sciolism of such skills observable in nursery rhymes and the folk-tales her mother told her as a child. So with a treacly song, she tried to ensorcell him.
On hearing her voice, his feet appeared to stick to the floor, as if glued, preventing his progress. He looked around to see her. She was jaw-droppingly stunning, and while his guard and jaw were lowered, his gaping mouth dried rather quickly. So he pulled a small bottle from his pocket and swigged from it twice.

The drink acted as a roborant, strengthening his machismo, and making his cheeks a bright incarnadine.
Momentarily, his advance toward her was halted in order to release an eructation of some note (a note much higher than you would expect). Then he came to her side and in a well-practice manouevre, reaching for her hand and kissing her from her wrist to elbow.

"What's a pretty princess like you..."
"Where can we go? We need a place where no-one will find us!" she interrupted assertively.
"To the aerie!" He cried. Lifting her over his shoulder, caveman-style, and ascended the stairs.

(to not be continued)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

When good feet go bad

Or should that be when bad feet go worse? The day I was going to resume running, my foot almost failed my fitness test. The weather was terrible so I pushed my run day further back. I have worn my foot brace for most of today, and will do so tomorrow. If it passes the test Saturday morning, a run will be done.

Cryptic when we meet

It seems wherever I go, there are crypticians about. Or at least people to be enticed into the fold. At my last practicum, I found a couple of teachers chomping at the bit to do cryptic crosswords together. It has become more apparent that I am far from alone, nor expert, compared to some of my classmates in my course too. One such classmate is Tiri is a case in point. She tells me she hardly had a chance to start the crossword, then reveals half of the gaps being filled with letters. Her knowledge is what is even more stunning, cracking the following two:

Where those for the ferry were always late (4) -> STYX (which I can understand but wouldn't have a chance in Hades of getting)
Well, it's near a disturbance (8) -> ARTESIAN (which is a well, apparently)

This is only a sample of what was an amazing demonstration of clue-cracking. I am training another classmate at solving clues but she may have surpassed me in two days penetrating the concise:

Outstanding Manager (4) -> BOSS (as in outstanding is something that has been embossed).

My contribution was restricted to the more arcane ones:

Attractive perch on top of the world (8,4) -> MAGNETIC POLE (to which I leaped in joy for getting)
Not an area of growing importance in Asia (4) -> GOBI (which is hardly direct, but proved ARTESIAN, which Tiri intuitively remembered being a word)

On the bus, with only one go, I cracked the final really cryptic "cryptic clue".

Not a figure of speech! (6) -> STATUE (like who could get that? I was lucky to have two "t"s so I could aimlessly fit words into it).

Mind you, the above might not be right (we'll see tomorrow morning), but it is complete. My newly learnt words from this single crossword are: Artesian, outre, unbred, mal-de-mer and sea fever. Quite extraordinary.

I am feeling I am bringing a nerdish element to the lunchroom at the School of Education. But everyone is convinced I am a genius. "If in doubt, ask Daniel."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Coz' this is the aftermath

The first week back from practicum was a struggle but it is only in the second week that the smoke has really started to clear. Post-practicum trauma was a hidden epidemic that is only now coming to light. I was stricken but with the eventual meeting with the course co-ordinator allowed me to release my burden and by doing so I have prevented another person being stuck with such a pedagogically deficit practicum school. Yesterday (Monday) I bumped into another agrieved classmate who was quite determined to go to the student who was due to go to her school in the next practicum and tell him how terrible it will be. I calmed her down and said that we should go to the administrator first. But she didn't come today. Then, in the middle of a lecture another disgruntled student suddenly unleashed pent up frustration upon a lecturer mid-lesson. It was embarrassing and awkward for everyone. The lecturer, being put on the spot, politely asked to meet with this person but was spurned twice.

After class, I met with another few students and we discussed things and then other concerns and worries arose.

There is a right way and a wrong way to air such problems. I think it is interesting that people still struggle to air their worries in a proper forum.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Das Experiment

The lab rat that I am, I am using myself again in an experimental way. People say that eating fish is good for the brain. Well that is fine, because my brain is really getting drunk on its own stupidity. It is scrapping the bottom of the cerebral barrel, at the moment. I have lost my umbrella again. I almost lost my second orange cap. I lost my bus card and now owe $9 in overdue fees for a library book.

If I were to start eating fish again for a period of time, would I noticeably remember more or think more clearly? Well, I am going to find out.

Fish are back on the menu.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Endless Sunshine on a Spotless Mind (ESoaSM for short)

(this is long, first is a bit of theorising, which may be fiction but is my analysis based on my minimal knowledge of film-making history, but I like the writing which provokes thinking, and then after all that, there is a review of the movie itself)

The end of the 20th century might be noted for a change in the key players in movies. In "arty" movies of the past, the director was key. Looking at such movies, you might not note any star actor. Hollywood movies were the opposite, the director is just a hidden man behind the stars who are the ones you remember about the film. There were a few blips in the past of course. Stanley Kubrick movies were clearly his. George Lucas also became a famous name Maybe they were the leaders.

But later, in the 1990s, "Hollywood" directors seemed to become more prominent. They seemed to want the movies to be identified as their own, and in that way reduce the importance of the stars. Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg are directors that easily come to mind. Tarantino's style was clear but Spielberg's movies are varied in their style though, and the content still not particular to his (this is not to detract from the quality of his movies, but to say that they are not uniquely his in style). M. Night Shyamalan began created movies with a particular distinct style. He was also brave enough to make his name bigger on the advertisements for Signs, than Mel Gibson (!). This seemed a big statement to me. Perhaps, there is now an trend towards bringing "Hollywood" and "arty" together. Or at least fill in the middle-ground. More arty movies are showing at Village Cinemas, which could be showing that they are becoming more financially rewarding.

I like this trend. 
Charlie Kaufman, like M. Night, has created a genre of films that are virtually identifiable as his own. They usually are bound to an unlikely, unreal pretext. Take Being John Malkovich where there is a porthole to a particular person's mind. They often contain eccentric characters seemingly unrealistic characters, take Adaptation's lead brothers. His movies are all swathed in complex formats, with flashbacks, circular plots and voice-overs (which as one of his movies intones, is a movie-making sin!). But soon as these factors are set, he sets about making all the characters and the film as serious as possible. Any parody or irony is done with deadpan seriousness. All plot-tricks are done with pinpoint precision. All oddities are applied consistently.

(the following is the review section, there are spoilers in it)

ESoaSM seems to be a distilled pure form of his previous movies. It is much more simplistic than Adaptation in format and concept, but still is delightfully complex (if you can understand that).  The concept is flawlessly pulled off. The concept being: Joel's girlfriend impulsively gets her memory wiped of all her memories of you after a tiff, so he does likewise but in the middle of the procedure finds he wants to keep the memories and tries to fight the treatment, trying desperately hide his memories of her wherever he can.

The lead actors Jim Carrey (Joel) and Kate Winslet (Clementine) are wonderfully in with the spirit of the film. Carrey shows again that he can act very competently outside of the realm of facial and scatiological humour. Of course, he has his chance to show that experience in that form of humour can pay off in other movie types. When his childhood bully picks on him, it is just hilarious. Kate is just awesome to watch. She has distinguished herself as a capable actor in all the films I have seen her in. But this might be her best. I might see Iris another day to see her act there.

Frodo (read: Elijah Wood) also appears early, requiring a double-take, in the beginning and through the movie. And so does the technique that made Frodo look so small in the LOTR trilogy. I just love the size of that cookie toddler Joel was holding!

The format is a jumping timeframe with flashbacks and the present time spliced, which at first is disorientating, but is easy to follow once you observe the cues. The dent in his car and their "second/first" courtship serve as signposts to align the timelines correctly. Of course, many of his memories are jumbled and the timeline can be filled in. And the movie wouldn't work without the jumping timeline, and it serves as part of the magic of the film.

Also interesting is the fact that there is a nice moral to the story. Memories, painful or not, are important. If you wipe them from your mind, you are almost bound to do the same mistakes. The ending is smooth too. It doesn't try to make things sweet and stick them back together. The reality of their past is too much to keep them together. Forgetting their differences doesn't make them any more compatible.

I got into the film for $7.50 because I am a poor beneficiary and got in before 5pm on a Friday. I would say this ranks equally exceptional with Adaptation. Adaptation had more variety and was more witty, but ESoaSM was clinically done and done with simplicity that I enjoy. (For the record, I only ranked Being John Malkovich good but with aspirations for exceptional, while ranking Confessions of a Dangerous Mind as mediocre, with aspirations for craphood)

And that is the end of my film watching spree. I won't watch one till I use my free ticket sometime between now and mid-September. I must say that this has been an enjoyable set of movies.

MISTAKE: Sorry, Charlie Kaufman is the scriptwriter not the director, but is the scriptwriter for all the other movies too. I think my point in the theorising part is even more compelling if you think that even scriptwriters are being identified through their work!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Sunrise, Sunset
A now to be expected "unexpected" cancellation of a lecture allowed me the time to take advantage of $10 B-grade movie tickets on a Friday morning. I saw Before Sunset, a sequel to the movie Before Sunrise.

If you haven't seen the first movie (a recommended movie), it goes a little something like this: A young American and a young French woman meet by chance. They wander around Vienna incessantly chatting about philosophy, life and love. They irritate each other at times, but naturally and believeably fall in love. But the hook is that he has to leave on a flight early in the morning so their whole relationship is the night. They promise to meet 9 years later. It is thought-provoking, humorous and touching.

Before Sunset is an incidental meeting between the two after circumstances prevented the promised meeting to come to fruition. It is in the same format, walking, sitting, sailing but all that time talking. He will be leaving back to America at sunset so, of course, they must do their catch-up within that time. The movie is quite different from its predecessor in terms of emotion. The first movie was primarily optimistic. The second film we can feel the pessimism, the bitterness that their experience earlier had prevented them truly bonding with their partners. It is a logical contrast of the enthusiasm of youth versus middle-age dissatisfaction.

Both movies in the series are surely the complete opposite of Goodbye, Dragon Inn with any action in the movies being completely incidental, and the lengthy dialogue the heart and soul. The first movie was very likeable and also touching, but I always had a feeling of it being too fantastic. It reads like a story I would write (but not as cryptic) where philosophical points are illuminated in each turn of sentence. The endless fascinating conversations flow far too easily and it seems they both had saved them up just for this encounter. They are all the discussions you dream of having with someone. But if you can surpress that feeling of disbelief, these movies are wondrous.

In terms of the two movies, the second tends to trump the first in terms of feeling, but that is natural. It is more affecting and you can feel the frustration that exists between the two. But I don't think these two movies should be judged separately, as the second could not happen without the first. Both of them are very good movies, but not exceptional in my estimation (addendum) But I would say together they make an exceptional movie experience.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Corporation

Well, a 140 minute documentary, enthralling? The Corporation does what Farenheit 9/11 could probably never do (although I have not seen it). It captivates you with brutal facts and the unambushed words of real people.

The Corporation takes the words of CEOs, real life people and cases to both shock and give hope. There are plenty of voices including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman and of course Michael Moore. In fact, it is mostly composed of voices of others rather than the manipulating voice of a narrator (a la Moore),

One of the interesting sticking points of the whole movie was that in America, through the unlikeliest of processes, an incorporated company has the same rights as an human individual. This is true in New Zealand too apparently. Therefore it is legal to hold property, sue, be sued etc. But, as the film would like to point out, if it is an individual, does it have morality? What is its personality? If we consider the actions of some corporations, they would fulfill all the requirements to be considered psychopaths as per the DSM-IV psychiatric assessment. Do we as a society have control of these undesireables? Yes we do, if we want to (the whole punchline of the film).

At some points, it made you cringe (Monsanto's sins take a lot to swallow). It is often ironically humorous (Michael Moore was comic relief but the words from actual people's mouths is perhaps the most startlingly humorous). Its production is excellent. At the end, you are certainly in a state of information overload, but you can't help but be affected.

The director Mark Achbar was there at the start and end willing to do Q&A and explain deeply some of the details of the "making of" and his thoughts on the current system. Interesting questions did come up although he had to give it to other people sometimes, "How much would our tickets cost without the sponsorship of Telecom?"

As a documentary, it MUST rate as an exceptional one. It was affective, and served for me as an antithesis to my musing on political liberalism. It didn't answer everything though. For example, it raised the example of Cochabamba (a city in Bolivia) of why water privatisation was flawed proposition. BUT, it didn't say how the necessity for water privatisation was controlled. Of course, I can research that.

The last phase of the movie was one thing that set it apart in that it made many suggestions for the forms change could take. I am glad I watched it.

Total Eclipse of the Herald~

And so it has come to pass, that in a single day, within 7 hours which included 5 hours of lectures, I completed both the cryptic and the normal crossword for the first time ever.
Another interesting dream... 

This was quite interesting just because of the negativity of emotion (not that common for me).

For some reason, I was on a trail, sometimes following a few people, sometimes on my own.  On the trail there were numerous obstacles, and sometimes I had to walk on along a precipice. Eventually I crashed or fell or maybe just got stuck in a room. And suddenly their were lots of people around me. It annoyed me a lot. One put his hand on me so I grabbed his hand and tried to pierce it with my thumb. Everyone joking said, "He's annoyed, leave him alone."

Well there was more to it than that but my grip of the images was loose although I think this is the same as what remembered at 9am (it is now 4pm). Sometimes I wonder if my memory constructs some of the details to my remembered dreams.
And now for another episode of WordCity:

"The leadership of the city was ineffectual in every extent of the word, leading the citizens into debauchery that is unheard of in the last few millenia. In a desperate  attempt to stop the exigent threat of complete chaos, the councillors implemented draconian laws to restrain the rioting. They obviously lacked the social acuity to notice one important salient detail: The rioting was for the purpose of overthrowing their foolish governance, of which their current measures were a symptom! Pandemonium ensued. Suddenly a supernal force flew down from the skies entreating them all to be silent. The drunken quit their libations. The ringleaders halted their agitations. The anxiety-pandemic, that had since infected all other regions, ceased momentarily and peace prevailed ever so slightly. Everyone was so shocked that they wandered in a hypnagogic state not knowing if they were dreaming or otherwise. But the aliens really did want a quieter Universe so were quite unsure whether extermination or persuasion was necessary to cut down the noice pollution of this excessively raucous planet."

Don't ask me what happens next~!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Timetable
University administration must be a diabolical job. At least, what I have seen today strongly evinces such. Most students (many of whom were rather stressed about impending assignments and the thorn-in-the-side Thursday test) got up early to come to the timetabled 9am lecture... in a classroom, which in radical style had OCCUPIED by a group of DipEd(Secondary)... for their scheduled lecture. And the room timetable attested to the fact that we were not the rightful people to fill that lecture-room. OK. Most of us then bullrushed their way up to the computer room to seize the scarce supply of computers. 10am came. And again we clogged up the hallway to the lecture room (about 80 of us all in a small hallway), to find, no our class would not be here as another class was booked in. We held our printed timetables aloft and said "No!" in solidarity. It was then that a frazzled looking replacement course co-ordinator jumped up the stairs like a spring rabbit, with apologies blazing, and explained a compromise, that we start our paper at 12pm and go until 3pm. "All-righty!" we called and swarmed our ways back to the computer room, which in our distraction, had been filled with the DipEd(Secondary)s! Agh.
Anyway, order has come back to this chaotic campus offshoot. In the meantime, I have probably given my assignments the biggest growth spurt since day one (when it burst from nothingness, like the scientifically not 100% substantiated Big Bang).

Monday, July 19, 2004

You know your holidays are over when you get home and collapse on the couch. Oh dear, not even the invigorating effects of Lady Grey could stir me.
Once I arose, however, in an unusual burst of energy I tidied the decay and tartar that had accumulated all over my desk and floor, increasing available space two-fold. I am still to floss the cupboard, but that can be done in time. Strange how this never really happened during the holiday.
Two assignments handed in today, but they are not the ones to be feared.
Oops, it did it again~
My morning fitness test (getting out of bed) revealed a still very sensitive, and not so kind inside ankle. Being a patient person, I am prepared to give it a bit more time to mature and refrain from being so temperamental. Till then, no run.
Being at school again is quite a treat. I got up at the wrong time in that I set my alarm clock for the time I thought I usually set it, but that time was actually the time I had to get up for my practicum school on time, rather than University. But I feel rather relaxed with so much time to spare. I will even hand in my assignments in the morning to get them off my mind immediately.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Family Thicket~
My latest review will be on the locally made movie headlining the film festival, In my father's den. It is a story that was the portrayal of a story by a NZ author (Maurice Gee).
Small town life is something that I was born into but left before things really got tricky. Some movies go into the depth of the hidden side to this quaint life, where the secrets are thicker than water, and so is the blood of the families that form small communities. This is one such movie.
To understand the characters, we all need to have some sense of depth perception. The protagonist, Paul, is quite pained at the best of times. In fact, we can see pain in many of the characters. But the search for the root of the pain is the quest of the audience, as much of it is known to the characters.
Simply put, it is a story of homecoming, alienation, friendship and a disappearance possibly due to foul play, or is it a run away? There are hsalf's and flashforwards that are crucial to the story but often to the detriment of the orientation of the viewer.
As a production, it is most impressive. The acting shows that New Zealand does have much depth. The cinematography and sets were stunningly realistic. As it was a premiere we got to see those at the heart of bringing it together including most of the cast.
One thing that came across quite coincidentally was the links between the very different film I reviewed before, Old Boy. Both have strange hidden plots of real, accidental and imagined incestuous relationships. The hearts to both puzzles lie with the question that is not focussed on. And similarly, when the final pieces of the puzzle is put in the story becomes credible. For me, I would rate it as a good movie, also possibly stretching into the exceptional category.

Things that go.....
In the night, I had an interesting dream. It was diverse with lots of different strands, with a dark gothic feel. Somehow the first dream was converted into a book I had written in the second dream. Apparently Ying read it in that dream and said it was good and I should publish it. And the third dream had a nasty supercreature in it. Anyway, in the morning I found one of my curtains had been pulled open and my pyjama top removed. Aside from the possibility that there is some c r e a t i v e burglar who doesn't take things, I assume that it was I who did these things. I have no memory of it whatsoever. Maybe it is the sleepwalking streak coming out again. It has been a while since I did something completely without awareness and memory in my sleep (of course sometimes I can't remember things well when awake...). When I was young I once let my eldest sister into my house without remembering.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

So, it had to happen some time. But this morning I gained a cranky right ankle/shin. It was fine last night, I know because I checked. And then this morning it was rather tender and not nice to walk on. So back goes on the ankle support and I will rest from my alternating-day running schedule for the weekend.
Oh man~ Crypticity sure is abound!

It is now quite apparent that
outdoing themselves in terms of
giving the hard-working
blogophiles toys, with which
to amuse themselves!
I have also done the duty of adding "outdoing" and "blogophiles" to their spelling dictionary. Is that wrong?
  • No, because blogophiles has a natural meaning which can be appreciated by all.
  • No, because language is founded on neologisms!
  • Yes, because you have added a non-Greek word (blog) to a Greek suffix, idiot!!
  • Yes, because who made you Commissioner for cyber-language. The has already got plenty of good words like "flummery" to revitalise rather than weigh everyone elses minds down with your fanciful creations.

Anyway, all's well that ends well: Well.

Friday, July 16, 2004

How do you feel?

I have seemingly dropped in a pit of melancholy without the choly, from which my limbs can get no traction. I am not one to feel sad about much. In a recent "Bar News" described depression as anger without enthusiasm. Well I might be stricken with depression without sadness. Ennui, but without the exotic sounding charm.

I hate to say this but: The sooner this holiday is over the better. I can get start doing stuff with consistency. I will hand in substandard assignments and have to wait weeks before the "punishment" in receiving a grade.

Anyway, distracting myself for a moment, I was thinking about the depression of others.

Nuch of the modern music I listen to is often done by seemingly-depressed people. I cannot imagine Radiohead, Tricky, the Eels, Coldplay, Massive Attack, L'arc~en~ciel, Tool/Perfect Circle or TaoZhe producing a cheery song (David Bowie can though). There is real feeling there though. Not the unfortunately popular strains of pop you can hear to readily. Looking through the blogs of others, it is easy to see that there is a self-tormenting, dare I say it "artistic" bunch that like to wallow in sadness. Perhaps it does make for affecting words, music and art. I have a theory for this of course, although it is hardly original. To have a desire for greatness, people need to suffer. I think that is something I have lacked in my life actually. In the past though, there was plenty to be vexed by. Poverty or war and the like.

But those who have some desire towards experiencing and producing exemplary art (regardless of its form) need to delve into those things that can cause suffering in life, bring them close to mind, taking themselves into the coldness of life, and its natural vicissitudes, a strain of existentialism perhaps. Even from the comfort of modern life, there is suffering without pain, or with pain if they want to self-administer.

And hopefully from this hurt emerges a truly feeling voice or a simple expression of real expression and not the saccharine pipe-tune of some life "charlatan". Like me.

Probably real genius doesn't depend on the tempering one's heart with fiery coals of despair. It can emerge with force and passion without. But such tapped talent is rare. I cannot think of such. Or maybe all geniuses are destined to suffer a little which triggers them. Or maybe those talented who are not subjected to despair or self-brutalised are those that don't find an emotion on which to hinge their ability onto.

Either way, I am not seeking to be an artist of the kind that is recognised as an artist. I simply want to get some direction to overcome the inertia.

I jogged around the greater block in 16:35. I should be able to shave 1-2 minutes off that should I actually press myself to run (provided I can make it to the end).

Movie news

Anyway, my movie review for today is "Goodbye, Dragon Inn", which I saw last night.

Before going to such a film, it is advisable to be familiar with the kind of movies the director makes. Vive L'amour was the first movie I saw of his. It was devoid of almost any dialogue or script. It made an art of understanding feelings and intention purely from the action observed.

Goodbye, Dragon Inn is done by the director Tsai Ming-Liang, a Taiwanese director who seems to enjoy this sort of movie. It takes some adaptation of the viewer to enjoy watching them. If someone were to inadvertently see this film without understanding that they might be somewhat confused.

The movie is set in a cinema, whose popularity has somewhat dwindled. That being said, there seems to be many people wandering through its cavernous architecture. There are few seeming real people there, but one is a young man who sneaked into the cinema, who we only find out later, is Japanese. He seems out of place in amongst the other denizens (much like someone who doesn't understand such films might feel). All he wants is someone to light his cigarette. So he tries languageless cues to get people's attention. He fails most of the time. All through the sounds and artificial dialogue of the movie being echoes throughout the place, emphasising the lack of speech from the "characters". There are some bizarre scenes. With a door shutting by itself. Another opening. Possible homoerotic themes. And then the endless people passing through the passageways the Japanese guy finds himself. In the first dialogue of the film, eliciting applause from one of my fellow theatre-goers, it is revealed: "This cinema is haunted," and then followed up by "It is haunted!" We never know if the Japanese man understands but he finally gets his light before saying in Japanese-accented Chinese "Wo shi ribenren" (I am Japanese). "Sayonara" comes back the reply. Regardless of whether he understands what was told to him, later, in probably the most comic moment he is scared witless and runs from the cinema.

All the time, the lady at the front desk (who has a whithered or prosthetic leg) struggles around the cinema on different quests.

On the whole, I enjoyed the movie (more than Vive L'amour, but perhaps only because I had checked my expectations for the movie). I wouldn't rank it any higher than "Good", just because it doesn't have in a movie everything I look for, but it was a nice excursion into a completely different world. It is these kinds of movies that you can lose yourself in easily though. Another theatre-goer remarked the similarity of the screen flow and that of the movie. The movie on the screen in the movie was a martial arts movie. But often in such movies, it is just lurching from one fight scene to another with justification in between, before ending and fading without a trace. Goodbye, Dragon Inn had this without the fighting.

I may see one of his other films What time is it there? in the future.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Heh. This will probably be of no interest to anyone but Radiohead. But "this is what you get" when you take songs from a band and put them to a banjo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

What was that you said?

In amongst my chronic short-term amnesia stories, comes the truly classic. This one precedes my morning run just reported. I already knew I had misplaced my watch the previous day so I knew that had to be found first to time my run. I then realised my ankle support (which I use for my running) had also wandered and needed a search party. The ankle support was in a conventional hiding-place (the laundry basket) but the watch came out in a truly bizarre fashion. I was hunting through the piles of Uni-related stuff for it when suddenly I saw a book I had on 3-day short loan that had to be back two days ago. Short-loan books sometimes are charged overdue by the hour, so I raced to my computer to check if I had received a notice etc. But just before I arrived at my computer I found that I had, in my hand, my watch...

I have no idea at what stage I picked it up. But there it was.

After the panir cheese experiment of 2 days ago with lemon juice (very successful, very yum!), I am now trying the alternative recipe using the yoghurt that I made a few days previously, it looks promising so far!
Where is the asymptote?

I ran this morning and registered 9:10, a mere 7 seconds faster than last time. My ever-receding target time is now just to inch my way past the 9 minute mark. I think where any extra speed will come from is the beginning where I am usually sluggish and usually have the same doubts whether I will actually be able to do the whole circuit without stopping. I have two time markers to check my progress. The 2:48 intersection and the 6 minute roundabout.

So up steps plan B! I will shift to the greater block for a week before coming back to the lesser block. Practising the greater block will give me a bit of variety and stretch my endurance rather than speed.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Use it or lose it

"In every rowdy party, where most of the revellers drink with gusto, congeries of teetotalers are to be found. Sometimes there is one in each corner of the room. Dry but controversial discussions are started and sometimes things get heated. Overweening self-righteousness amongst a group tends to lead to acrimony after all. The more rational would speak with impassioned polemics, which the more radical take as pure unctous flummery. Of course, there would also be the happy-go-lucky member whose ludic comments and mimicry would break the tension momentarily. Usually the discussion was something as irrelevant as how we should remunerate the politicians. This kind of subject would drive most to drink in short time."

Well, that was a week of "Word of the Day" words all incorporated into a vaguely sensible story. Don't ask me what happens next.

Decreasing MRI

Another run this morning, and my marginal rate of improvement has plummetted! Ah well: 9 minutes 17 seconds.

It was rather frosty this morning which almost made me unable to turn off my stopwatch due to numb, uncoordinated fingers. Instead of nausea after the run, I gained a cough. Maybe my respiratory system has noticed that in order to increase efficiency it has to clean up my airways.

I think so too, at the start of my run I was struggling and thought I wouldn't even get close to my last time. But as is usual when you are improving, speed gains just come from nowhere.

Sunday, July 11, 2004


To have disbelief in predetermination is a rational thing to do. That is, if you subscribe to the same logic as Pascal's wager.

If you believe in predetermination, and predetermination exists, you enjoy that things are secure and will work out. But if predetermination weren't true, you'd be left disappointed or confused.

However if you don't believe in predetermination, and predetermination is true, you will end up wherever you are meant to end up, and if predetermination were a false belief, you'd be right and thinking correctly.

So to disbelieve predetermination is a win/win situation, whereas there is a risk of disappointment in belief.

That being said, I have had lots of moments to think that something guides the coincidences in my life. But it is far more interesting to think they are pure coincidences.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

"Who are you calling old? Eh?" (not an actual quote from the film. Posted by Hello

Old Boy

I will review movies I see from now on on my Blog.

I started my Auckland Film Festival campaign last night with the Korean film "Old Boy".

The premise of the film is simply that one night, a quite drunk man, is abducted and kept in a makeshift prison hotel room for 15 years. Every now and then valium gas washes over him. Knocking him out for haircuts, new clothes and things like that. Food is given. He doesn't know that it will be 15 years that he is in for and doesn't know why. He verges on madness many times. And then... He is released, waking up on a rooftop, with nice clothes and eventually he is given a cellphone and a wad of money. At this point I could honestly say that I couldn't imagine a way that this would ever acquit itself logically.

If a film hinges itself on plot, then the plot must come through for it. I like movies that can come up with a unexpectedly decent end. I can say that was part of the reason I liked Matchstick Men, it was well-crafted (although, apparently with a couple flaws) and it has a kicker of an ending.

I enjoyed Old Boy in a similar way, perhaps more so. It delivered a visceral, explicit tale of revenge (in more ways than one!). There was nothing concealed except the plot, which although I had my doubts at different points, clarified all of those doubts and more in the long end sequence. It is a story about revenge bur perhaps more importantly shame.

The acting is great. Some of the scenes are improbable, but entertaining all the same. If you cannot take scenes showing the excessive infliction of pain, or sex scenes (that become much more 'illicit" by then conclusion of the movie), then don't see it. It was a funny, enjoyable movie. Recommendable by me. In my ratings of films it easily makes it into the category of "Good film", while potentially challenging "Exceptional Film".
It won the Grand Prix award at Cannes.

One small side note is that the epilogue (the bit at the end, concluding the drama) was filmed in New Zealand.

Park Chan-wook was the director, whose work includes Joint Security Area (an exceptional movie in its own right). So I think I will be looking out for his future efforts or his other work, the interestingly named Sympathy For Mr Vengeance.

Sound and Vision

"Don't you wonder sometimes
'Bout sound and vision?"

Sound: In my classical music tastes, I don't particularly like Mozart (except for Symphony no. 40) to anything like the appreciation I have for Beethoven. And there are many composers I like better than Beethoven. Dvorak is one that I am interested in exploring. Serenade in E major is to die for.

Well, with the sound out of the way, now for the vision.

Vision: For most of the year, actually since the disappointment of the way my previous birthday party logisitically went, I have been contemplating another kind of an event. This crystallised in to "Strange Night", a possibly regularly organisable event, which is constructed by people, rather than by a person.

Well, that was the idea. But ideas tend to just sit and observe as time goes by. Without the vision for the event, there is nothing to provide one with the drive to get it done~
Suddenly last night, I was inspired. It was not that what I thought and then proceeded to scribble down was anything revolutionarily great, but that suddenly I caught how I would like such an event to go. An idea of perfection, a goal, something to strive for. And so now all I need is to clarify a date, send out an e-mail and it will be done. Cool, eh.

"I will sit right down
Waiting for the gift of sound and vision
And I will sing
Waiting for the gift of sound and vision.
Drifting into my solitude
Over my head

Don't you wonder sometimes
'Bout sound and vision?"
Time and Change

I whipped around the lesser block in 9:33 removing 1:04 off my time, which was pleasing at first, but easily rationalised. What runner, when starting running again, does not get big gains? Also, I can remember that the first time I ran I was being gentle on my cobweb bound legs, and started at a conservative speed. This time at the start I automaticallk launched into what would have been a natural speed, which with my fitness was not going to be easy to maintain. I have to learn what my sustainable speed for a distance is, and then constantly push this. I felt a little nauseous after the run, meaning that my body was stretched. Either way, I hope to get within +/-5 of 9 minutes on my next run.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I can see you! Yes, this is a test~ Posted by Hello
Slow start

Holidays bring out the worst in me, I am sure. I am so lethargic and distractable and currently running at about 20% efficiency at everything.

Anyway, on a mildly different strand.

I, for the nth time, started running again. Getting back into running fitness is very much a new challenge for me, because ever since I was 8 I went running with my sister (she was a budding athlete) I had a good degree of latent fitness. When I went running at high school, it took only a few runs to get into "gear", find the "zone" and dash around.

Now, after the inactivity of university and teaching and the intervening foot problems, that foundation has been eroded. I struggled to keep running for 10 minutes 37 seconds for a run around the "lesser" block (there are two different "blocks", the lesser is naturally the smaller of the two). In my running days, I think I may have been able to whip around it in 6-7 minutes.

Remembering back to when I was at high school, I would almost have the fantastic motivation for running that I had to be fit and ready in the case of an imminent terrorist take-over of the high school (because you would need to be able to outrun etc.). Fortunately it was just the fitness that I saw as necessary, I didn't go to the firing range to practice using a firearm.

I need to get something to make me continue running. Maybe I should go back to competing against myself, trying to ground that 10:37 down to 8 minutes, while run walking, then running the "greater" block. Ah well, it is a plan.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Fruitfall (a.k.a Fruit F'all)

They covered the ground,
Which was more orange than green
Dewy grass wet my feet
The wind blew again
And no matter how many I pick up
There always seems like so many on the ground

Is the neighbour watching?
Don’t catch her eye, or else she may wave and come out
Pick up the oranges
And check for holes and slugs,
Fungi and bugs.
But still so many remain fallen down

The Foodtown plastic bag is near full,
It might very well break
Throw the little ones back
And feed the tree and birds
I have too many to eat
Does anyone want any?

Honestly! I have lots, come and get them
What problem?

And so, despite my prognostications and mildly uneasy open thoughts on the subject, my blood test has returned without any cause to be alarmed. No need to even go in for a chat with the doctor apparently, or so said the message on my cellphone. I want the raw numbers to compare with those from my preceding tests but otherwise I am pleasantly relieved.

But then what of my run of illness?
Maybe I wear myself down too much.
Maybe there is something wrong with what I eat.
Or perhaps, I should just remind myself that getting sick is all part of the rite of passage for a beginning teacher, and that is what I am becoming~

Maybe I have been thinking too much.
A chronic illness perhaps.
I wonder whether I should go through with getting the health insurance I was getting.
But I can wipe medical fees from my budget for now, and that has to be good for my liquidity until October the 1st.