Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Don't move heaven & earth for what you want

Would it be wise to move heaven and earth for what you want?  Sometimes watching a simple movie can raise that awareness.

The story was about a man going through an elaborate scheme just to please his mother.  He conspired to have a surrogate wife bear a child for him as his wife was barren.  He even had the woman live in his house under false pretenses to keep everything above board.  But, unfortunately, the whole scheme spun out of control as humans are shown to be incapable of staying consistent to promises or with strong enough character to keep their promises.  In the end the man lost his life.  The mother gained a grand-child but lost a son.

Another case of wanting something badly enough to go through hardships and sacrifices is one that a woman went through to gain a son.  Even when told by the medium that the son would be born handicapped she wanted to take the risk.  And just as promised she bore a son, but the boy was mentally retarded and became a burden to the father who was recently widowed as the mother died of cancer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Watch out for the side effects

If you have a phobia for something, don't try to overcome it without watching out for side effects.

I realized I have a phobia for the telephone.  Funny isn't it, in this day and age?  It's not the telephone per se, but what that contraption actually brings.  And I also figured out why I became the only member of our family with hypertension.  We have no family history.  We had no telephone at home until I was in my twenties.

In the early days of my working life I  used to pace the floor nervously every time I was asked to make a phone call.  Taking a call was like having a gun pointed at my head.  After the call I seldom remember correctly what was said to me.  Years down the road I finally overcame that phobia to a certain extent.  But still, I put off owning a cell phone for years.

My job was much easier when telephones were not so easily available and extensions were not an essential part of telephone lines in the workplace.  But that didn't prevent phone calls from getting to me.  One such call was from a quality control person from our sister company.  As soon as I took the call, instead of discussing the issue at hand and finding a solution, she proceeded to rip my guts to shreds.  I could not understand why I didn't hang up there and then.  Arguing with her made no sense.  Instead, I heard her out.  After that I refused to take her calls even though I knew that the MD's son was backing her.  The next chance I got I left the company.  I was lucky I got away.   A couple of years later they closed shop.

At the new place every work desk had a telephone extension.  It got to a point that whenever the phone rang I jumped.  Which was why I turned the ring tone down to almost minimum.  But I couldn't get away from it.  I tried to ignore the phobia since it wasn't doing me any harm.  But it seems I was wrong.  It did a lot of harm without my knowing it.  It set a silent killer out for me.  My BP went up steadily edging towards the danger point.

A year before I was to retire I was placed in charge of a transfer project.  The project manager based overseas often called for telephone conferences.  The once-a-week conferences eventually became a daily affair as the project progressed.  So did my living nightmare.

My mind seemed to go blank after the first few minutes into every meeting.  It got to a point when I wouldn't go into a conference without the various representatives of the project for fear that I wouldn't be able to answer questions put to me.  But the fact was, not everyone would be available on a daily basis.  I to had answer for most of them.  And I fumbled and stumbled.  And all that time I would be so nervous I had no idea what I was saying or doing.

One day, on a hunch, I went straight from the conference room to our infirmary to have my BP checked.  The nurse told me not to drive home on my own.  I was having stage 3 hypertension.  The next day the doctor put me on permanent medication immediately.  As for the project, I went all the way to the top and said I wanted out.

I had to own a cellphone though just so my family could know where I am.  Except for sending messages I still hate to call anyone with it unless totally necessary.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Movie review - Shall we dance?

ReviewReviewReviewMay 18, '05 3:34 PM
for everyone

Genre: Romance
For those who love dancing.

A beautiful down-to-earth story of a middle-aged guy who's got everything in life except that little spark that makes it all shine..... He enrols in a dancing class. His wife gets suspicious when he comes home each evening with more 'shine' in his face than usual. She hires a private detective to follow him and finds out what he's been doing after work.....

Richard Gere plays convincingly, the innocent husband, a successful will-writer who loves his wife and family to a fault, while Jennifer Lopez awkwardly plays the stand-by dance instructor who's dancing is of course better than her acting. There are colourful characters like the seasoned private investigator and his philosophical but clumsy assistant, the other dance learners, their dance teacher and the hero's lady dance-partner who almost made it with him into the dancing contest finals. Well, almost.

Movie review - The Terminal

ReviewReviewReviewReview                   posted in on Jul 13, '05 4:43 PM

Genre: Romantic Comedy
A Steven Spielberg movie starring: Tom Hanks (of Forrest Gumm) and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Tom plays Victor, a traveller from a small nation in Bulgaria arrived in New York airport with only a few words of English, only to be told he could not enter the USA because he was now a person with no country as his home country no longer existed, meaning that his passport and paperwork were no longer valid.

As a man without a country, he had to stay in the terminal itself. After finding himself a job inside the terminal, he began to befriend the staff of the airport and also got involved with an airline flight attendant (Zeta-Jones).

His mission in New York?: You have to find out for yourself.

Classified as Comedy and Drama with running time of 2 hrs 8 mins.

Movie Review - Mr & Mrs Smith

ReviewReviewposted in on Jul 17, '05 9:06 PM

Genre: Other
The scene: A bar/reception of a hotel in Bogota, Columbia. A lone man with a crew cut wearing dark glasses sat at a bar, drinking. Just then the front door burst open and a bunch of cops swarmed in to the place checking everyone in the vicinity. Lone man turned around and watched the goings on. Barman said someone killed a “barracuda". They’re looking for tourists traveling alone. The lone man’s hand went to his gun tucked in his waistband behind his back as he was asked by a cop if he was alone. Just then a lady walked in through the door and was accosted by the cops. Lady was asked if she was alone. Her hand went for a knife strapped to her thigh hidden under her dress. She looked towards the lone man at the bar. Both kept their hands off their weapons and walked towards each other. Man put his arm around the lady and they went into a room. Once inside the room, man closed the door and introduced himself as John Smith. Lady said she’s Jane.

A few scenes later they became Mr and Mrs Smith and were a model couple in their neighborhood. Neither knew the other was a trained assassin. Both kept the nature of their jobs from each other until one day both ended up trying to hit the same target. Eventually, both became the targets of other assassins.

Great neighborhood they live in though. After they discovered each others’ dark secrets, and sparks began to fly, only a few dropped by to ask how they’re doing in spite of the racket they raised with their fast cars and heavy artillery right until they blew up the house itself. The reasons and logic behind all that banging, slashing and fireworks was blurry and lost somewhere in that messy melee.

If you love Tomb Raiders, perhaps you’ll enjoy this one as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book review - Angels & Demons

ReviewReviewReviewReviewReview    posted in on Sep 2, '05 6:55 PM

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Author:Dan Brown
I haven’t read a good book in ages… Correction. Change that to: I haven’t read a book in ages! And my verdict is; this is worth my time.

A spell-binding tale that takes you to the intricacies of the election of a Pope in the Vatican, the details of the discovery of antimatter, a highly volatile substance by physicists, the dark thoughts and evil mindset of a trained assassin, the race against time by a Harvard professor, Robert Langdon using a 17th century guide in the form of a poem to trace the route to locate a hideout used by an ancient cult called the “Illuminati’. The story works out like a modern day reality TV program that takes you on a treasure-hunt around the Vatican City, except that this case ends up with many corpses, unexpected heroes and villains.

The story has its twists and turns as intricate as the secret underground passages of the Vatican itself. Written by Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, the tale finally takes you to a climax and an ending which is largely unexpected but still comes through convincingly as one that deals with the contrasting views between the advocates of science and religion and ends with a compromise between the two entities, after the demises of the main contenders.

Book review - Moon Dance

ReviewReviewReviewposted in on Sep 17, '05 10:20 PM

Genre: Romance
Author:Mariah Stewart
To while away the time as I stood in the car park waiting for my carpool colleagues, I continued reading Moon Dance, which I thought was suitable only for insufferable romantics. I presumed my sentiments were caused by the nailing biting thriller, Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons I read previously. One woman colleague wondered out loud how come an ‘uncle’ like me is reading a romance novel. I thought, “Huh? What’s wrong with that?”

Although this book started rather uneventfully, I soon became absorbed in its build up of the various characters and the heroine’s decision to leave her lack-luster dancing career under an abusive troupe manager to chart a new course in her life. She ended up staying at a farmhouse owned by a relative and egged on by her passion for dance, innovatively utilized the place for a dance-school. She soon became involved in a whirlwind of events that took her through farming activities, fortune-telling, shipwrecked treasure hunters, a kidnapping, arson and not forgetting a heart-fluttering, head-spinning romance with a young veterinary doctor, who happened to have different plans as to what he wanted to do with the farm-house.

In spite of the simple plot and some long winded less-than-necessary details to tie the storyline together it is still a good read. Perhaps it’s her ability to drop certain hints to arouse the reader’s interest in the rest of the story that stands Mariah Stewart apart from ordinary dime-novel writers.

Movie review - Flight Plan

ReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewposted in on Oct 24, '05 9:03 AM
for everyone
Genre: Mystery & Suspense
Jodie Foster played a young mother with a 6 year old daughter bound on a flight from Berlin to USA. It was just after the sudden death of her husband under mysterious circumstances. To add to her misfortune, she woke up mid-flight to discover her daughter missing. Incredibly, nobody believed her story as there was no record of any child passenger traveling with her. But she was no ordinary mother. She was a trained engineer specializing in aircraft design. She practically took the jumbo jet apart and risked the lives of 400 passengers just to find her daughter.

Jodie again, as in "Panic Room" gave her unequaled performance as a vulnerable yet tough woman who would go to the extremes to protect her child. I won't spoil the 'nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat' suspense of this movie for you by telling you more. Unfortunately, the movie didn't arrive in SP. Instead, SPians are still dizzily ogling at some fleshy Bollywood siren in Jacky Chan's mythical "Myth" for more than a month now. That's only my shallowest opinion of Jacky's latest effort. Don't wallop me for that OK? The publicity people didn't highlight what's in the movie itself. Only that....

For my Flight Plan, I had to make do with the VCD version. Except for the scratchy first few minutes, the rest was worth every second of it.

Book Review - Country of the blind

ReviewReviewReviewReviewposted in on Nov 4, '05 1:02 PM
for everyone
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Author:Christopher Brookmyre
A seasoned investigative journalist Jack Parlabane, teamed up with a rookie lawyer, Nicole Carrow, when he found out one of the dead pawns in a power game was his friend. It started as a simple burglary in a Scottish country mansion. Unfortunately, the owner together with his wife and two bodyguards turned up dead as proverbial doornails, and the burglars fell into the slot as the prime suspects. The case landed on Nicole’s lap as she held the key to their innocence. The plot brewed from a power wangle between the rich and powerful millionaire who thought he owned the politicians while the politicians thought they were the chosen ones who decided who called the shots. So, burglars who were main fall guys, together with lawyers, reporters, lawmen and hit men were laid on the high profile chessboard and the game was played out, leaving a good number of dead bodies in the Scottish landscape.

Christopher Brookmyre writes with realism which includes lots of real life profanities and Scottish country mispronunciations and dialectical quirks thrown in. You’ll have to figure out the meaning of some of those jargons to make sense of the plot. There are also familiar political phrases such as “spin-doctoring” and the likes being used. What irks me about the writing style are the meandering descriptions of unnecessary details outlining the thinking processes of some of the characters.

Overall, this is a fairly good tale of political intrigues which seems all too familiar in this day and age.

Movie review - Corpse Bride

ReviewReviewReviewposted in on Nov 7, '05 2:01 PM
for everyone
Genre: Animation
Brought the whole family to Gurney Plaza's GSC but paid for only one ticket for this movie. HSBC credit card's free movies program provided 4 of the tickets. (I just had to spend RM100 on a single receipt to be eligible to enter the lucky draw.) Anyway, that's the only moive that appealed to everybody. After seating ourselves, wifey and I thought we were the oldest folks in that theatre until another couple shuffled in before the movie started. They looked like they were in their sixties. Guess that's why it's rated Universal.

Now, about the movie.

Victor Van Dort was about to be married to Victoria Everglot, whom he hasn't met before in his life. His parents agreed to the match. But he happened to meet her by chance on the day before the wedding vows. In that short moment together, they discovered some things in common. What they didn't know was Victoria Everglot's parents schemed to get her married into the Van Dort family to save themselves from the poorhouse. Unfortunately, Victor's nervouness during the rehearsal caused him to screw up his lines so badly, the priest called off the wedding until he could get his lines right. In frustration, he went into the woods for some peace and quiet moments and to rehearse his lines. While acting out his rehearsal, he hooked his wedding ring onto the roots of a tree, which turned out to be the spirit of a girl who died of a broken heart while waiting for her beau with whom she planned to elope. Meanwhile, the Everglots who found their plans running into a dead end, decided to call off the wedding as they thought their young groom has probably got cold feet.

Enter, a knave who paraded as a young rich noble proposing to marry Victoria, but actually eyeing her family fortunes, or so he thought, while the Everglots were equally hoodwinked into thinking similar thoughts of him. The masquerade ended when the truth was discovered. But the typical fairytale happily-ever-after ending was brought about by the great sacrifice made by the corpse bride who decided at the last moment to do the right thing.

To be honest, it was worth the trip and the one ticket I had to pay for. Funny, a little scary, hilarious musical comedy. Not too bad but not quite as thrilling as Chicken Run.

Book Review - Mind Catcher

ReviewReviewReviewReviewposted in on Nov 12, '05 10:45 PM
for everyone
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Author:John Darnton
Tyler Jessup – A teenager, who grew up with a doting father, was brought into a New York hospital in a near death trauma with a brain almost irreparably damaged, penetrated by a camming device dropped by a fumbling rock climber while on an outing in the hills with a close friend.

Scott Jessup – Tyler’s father, a professional photographer whose whole world revolves round his only son after the death of his beloved wife in a plane crash. Initially, unable to accept losing his son, he agreed to allow an experimental procedure to try to save him, only to reverse his decision later when he found mysterious messages on his computer. Messages which he knew could come only from his son and no one else.

Dr Warren Cleaver – Research scientist with no qualms about breaking the rules to achieve his ends using psychiatric patients as his guinea pigs for his experiments.

Dr Leopoldo Saramaggio – A brilliant but egoistical neurosurgeon, whose professional ethics were somewhat blurred by his dream to perform a breakthrough surgical procedure for the sake of personal glory and to earn a place in the history of medical science.

Dr Kate Willet – A promising young surgeon who became emotionally involved with the father and son throughout their traumatic nightmare.

John Darnton writes with a matter-of-fact style and a plot that moves from scene to scene smoothly, with some flash-backs to add depth to each of the characters. A compelling and convincing story.

Book review - The Honey Trap

ReviewReviewReviewReviewposted in on Nov 29, '05 11:58 AM
for everyone
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Author:Clive Egleton
"In spy terminology honey trap has been used by Soviet and Eastern European intelligence services defining a woman entrapping businessmen and officials from the West in sexual liasions to retrieve intelligence and subserviance." –quoted from:

Peter Ashton is a Grade 1 Intelligence Officer of the British S.I.S. Unfortunately, he has to answer to Jill Sheridan, his highly intelligent ex-lover who managed to worm her way up to become his immediate superior. Gender sensitivity is not his problem though. His problem is Jill's ego and her preoccupation with safe-guarding her position which clouds her judgment and once in a while puts him in a precarious position. His counter-parts in other departments refer to him as a "loose-cannon" due to his unorthodox methods of solving problems. Unlike James Bond 007, Peter Ashton carries no weapons for his job. He's a married man and would rather work 9 to 5 and looks forward to a vacation with his wife once in a while. His survival on the job depends on his sharp mind, accurate memory, connections, quick reflexes and lots of luck. And also his ability to stay out of the honey trap.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review - The Horse Whisperer

ReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewPosted in on Jan 9, '06 5:07 PM

Genre: Romance
Author:Nicholas Evans
Tom Booker was one with a gift of healing powers in his voice, his touch and his mannerisms which can calm wild horses and heal broken spirits.

Magazine editor Annie Graves was an aggressive, intelligent go-getter who never took “No” for an answer. When her daughter Grace MacLean became crippled and her favorite horse turned savage after a serious accident, she took it upon herself to find a solution to set their lives straight again. She sent for Tom Booker, but when he arrived in New York and saw what they’d done to the horse, he turned right around and left. When mother, daughter and horse arrived at his doorstep all the way across the continent to Montana, he was convinced he was not just healing a horse with a broken spirit but he had to deal with all three entwined lives together, into which he couldn’t avoid being personally drawn, such that eventually he found himself being drowned in it.

Nicholas Evans writes with great attention to detail for each individual character and sets each apart from the rest. He writes so well that a reader could feel the various emotions invoked by the way he narrates each scene or by the conversations of the individuals in the story. Such, I believe, is the mark of a great story teller.