Review: Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials trilogy (aka The Golden Compass novels)

[Golden Compass] – nicksheldon on Flickr, 13 Oct ’07.

There was this 40% discount voucher from Borders I had awhile ago, so it was put to good use. The entire box set of His Dark Materials trilogy was selling at $39.90, which was quite a steal. Throw in the added discount, and the final price came to what a single book usually cost: approximately $23. And yes, trilogy = three books.

Having watched The Golden Compass where the characters in the movie were seemingly fascinated by the mysterious Dust, I was pretty sure the books (as usual) had alot more to offer on fleshing out the storyline.

[Northern Lights aka The Golden Compass] – Lara Wannabe on Flickr.

The first book aka The Northern Lights was a little dry (I dozed off while reading it!), but warmed up after the first half, and the pace gradually quickened with the subsequent books (The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass), leading to a miserable ending. I must say, the story is an endless tragedy with people dying all the time. It’s a good thing there’s only three books, so the reader’s not inclined to be that attached emotionally to the characters (unlike Harry Potter!).

[The Subtle Knife] – Fenners1984 on Flickr.

All in all, it’s a pretty good read but the chase ends all too soon. The pieces of the story come together in a manner which is quite unexpected; Philip Pullman (that’s the author) does a good job. That being said, I’m not too certain how the movie plot’s going to progress though; there is already a distinct divergence from the book in this aspect. We’ll wait and see.

I’m starting on Matthew Reilly in the meantime, Ice Station is proving to be a nonstop ride so far. And yes, I think I’m gonna be buying the rest of his books as well, hmm.

And incase you were wondering why I left the cover of the final book out:

[The Amber Spyglass] – Mince on Flickr.

Here you go.

-~-

Addendum:
Let Us Keep On Dreaming of a Better World – now this is my idea of a perfect world! (via funtasticus)

10 Things You Can Do to Cheer Yourself Up (via dumblittleman)

Gundam00 continues to prove itself enthralling, climaxing at episode 21 with Lockon‘s sacrifice to save gayboy Tieria. NOOOO LOCKON DON’T DIE!

– Bored at work? Give Bored At Work a go then.

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Random writings, random ramblings, random links

[Random*] – imapix on Flickr, 19 Jun ’06.

I’m getting bored too : )

Had a meetup with some HOTL mates today; Adri, Aloy, Andrew and FL. Kenny Roger’s chicken, endless gaming talk (what would you expect from a bunch of gamers? V was intensely bored lol), and a pool session with Andrew which saw a 6:0 trashing. (I was on the receiving end unfortunately, blah.) Still good nonetheless, to have friends that you can talk comfortably with.

Last night saw an attempt to resume my long abandoned writings. I recently reorganised the contents of my hard disk, and created a folder titled Story ideas. Half-baked literary inspirations are kept inside, in the faint hope of seeing the light someday, fully fleshed out with details, plots and all the nitty gritty bits that make a coherent story.

Here’s something I idly wrote last night, and stopped about an hour or so thereafter:

(There’s no working title yet.)

Life was perfect. At least, as perfect as it could be. He had a job that he liked; he wasn’t exactly in love with the boss, but that wasn’t too bad as far as things went. A wife who loved him with every fiber of her being, and took good care of the house.

A capable housewife she was, but Elise was absolutely hopeless when it came to cooking, as Jon realised early on in the marriage. A week’s worth of dinners that were either burnt or raw taught him that. A month of tentative experimentation in the kitchen soon proved that he was the better chef, and that was the way things came to be in their little home. Jon prepared their meals, and Elise ran everything else in the house with a firm hand.

They had no children of their own, and Jon had been talking about adoption. He loved kids, and passionately believed in imparting the proper values to “the next generation who will inherit the earth”, so he always said with a twinkle in his eyes.

And that perfect life came to a screeching halt one day, when Jon did not return in the evening. It was so unlike him to be late without a call, and Elise waited patiently. If he was held up, it had to be something important. She sat waiting, the minutes ticking by as the dinner slowly grew cold on the table.

The evening shadows lengthened, and turned into nightfall.

Still, Jon did not return.

Something did not feel right, and Elise longed to see him walking up as he usually did, with his rather tuneless whistling and a weary smile from the day’s chores.

-~-

ohmmmmm.

-~-

“Waii.. hello.. this is Henry Chow. I am rapping for you today.. somefing about a hard life. because my life is hard.. very hard.. like a rock.”

Hilarious ;p

-~-

Achmed the Dead Terrorist by Jeff Dunham, seriously funny shit.

SILENCE! I KILL YOU!

-~-

Addendum:

Facebook has an application called Secret Crush, which turns out to be spyware instead of harmless fun. Might be good to get rid of it if you did install the thing : ) – via Network World via PCMech

50 Things Men Wished You Knew. (An upgrade of the article in the previous post, so it seems.) I am a total convert of point number 6, which reads “6. Shopping is a chore, not an activity.” Amen : ) – via Men’s Health

– There’s this new Gundam anime series out which looks to be pretty good; check out the Mobile Suit Gundam 00 wiki. Pretty dumb robots, but awesome plot methinks. Intricate politics combined with pitched mecha battles *and* dysfunctional characters, how cool is that? It’s standing at episode 13 now, so watch ’em while you still can catch up!


Exia of the Seven Swords – via dannychoo.com

Mayday‘s Ashin aka 阿信 (陈信宏) designs tee shirts as well, woot. There’s not too many designs yet, but take a look at Stay Real! – via SH


Here’s one of the tee shirt designs. – via JUMP! with Mayday!

Hot Fuzz: review (and lotsa other stuff)

[Untitled] – Adri‘s Flickr, 7th Apr ’07.

First off, I’ll like to share some pictures Adri took on her recent trip to China. I wish I was there to snap some as well, ugh.


Beautiful eh? Somehow I always appreciate breathtaking nature shots much more than the ones with humans inside.

-~-

Next up, movie review. I certainly haven’t done any movie reviews for quite some time, no small thanks to the fact that I didn’t watch any movies, period. Australia’s pretty steep on the movie ticket prices, and AUD$8.50’s about the cheapest you can get. That’s Tuesday (Tight-arse Tuesday, everyone calls it) daytime prices; night tickets are AUD$9.


Dinner at Ajisen, same franchise prob. This was ordered by one of the guys, the ramen’s called Aussie Outback. Not too difficult to see why eh? Look at the stuff that’s inside.

Anyway, I was out with the people from my school’s taekwondo club, and we ended up watching this show called Hot Fuzz. It was supposed to be a comedy, but hmm I suppose you could call it a comedy. In the broadest sense of the definition that is.

You can read the synopsis yourself, but I’ll go on with my review. I seriously have no idea whether to call this film good or bad. Probably more bad than good. I pretty much liked the way they shot the movie, lots of action sequencing cuts. But the plot went from predictable in the beginning to outright insanity after that. Gees, talk about the lack of a plot -.- Total nonsense. It was kinda like you just simply stared on at the movie, unable to comprehend what the hell and why the hell were these things happening, while going “duhhhhhh” in your head.

I liked the dialogue though, lotsa humor in it.

For those who like mindless violence, this one is for you. Plenty of gore and blood, probably even more than 300 heh. Ironic isn’t it ;p


Comfy movie seats, and nowhere as freezing at the ones back in Singapore.

-~-

Culinary (or the lack of it) update : )


Fried noodles with sliced carrots, pork, capsicum, eggs and veggies. This one’s not too bad.


Stir-fried beef with capsicum. Bad move, cooked the beef for too long. And yeah, I know I’m not supposed to cook it for too long but then again, I had no idea what too long was. Now I know -.-

-~-

Addendum:

– Bill Gates, on 640K of memory being enough for anyone o.O Did he really say that?

Netcosm, funny thing that turns your network into a 3D game heh heh. I don’t know why it’s useful though, other than being eyecandy.

– In the recent Naruto manga chapters, Sasuke begins his own evil empire as he finishes off Orochimaru (so it seems).


Soraya Ghadery on YouTube, totally awesome.


Gang poem recital, part uno. Link courtesy of an old poly mate.


Gang poem recital, part deux.

Death Note: review

[Death Note Portada] – Enki on Flickr, 28th Jul ’06

Finally (bloody finally!) caught the movie on Saturday night with V. I wouldn’t be too far off the mark if I thought that everyone around me’s watched it already. Still enjoyed it though : )

Ikea had a promotion going on at Golden Village Tampines Mall that day. V and I were wondering at the stream of movie-goers with Ikea cushions (you could see the tags) who were coming out of the theatre initially. Until we walked into the theatre and woot, most of the theatre seats were strewn with bright huggable yellow and blue cushions (Ikea’s corporate colors, incase you were wondering) to proclaim that yes, Ikea would be coming to Tampines real soon! It’ll be near Tampines Ave 10 though, not that accessible if you ask me.

I was wondering at meaning of the soft toys attached to the cushions though. Owls, snakes and a fish? Hmm. And yep, you could bring ’em back home.

-~-

[Death Note (デスノート)] – Yang Kuo on Flickr, 4th Nov ’06

Pretty ladies holding on to the second Death Note 😀

-~-

Tsubaki of Anime Desho Desho? has written a pretty good review of the film if you’re interested.

IMO Raito sucked. Big time. He looked nothing like the manga Raito in personality or looks. Were there no other choices for the actor-character?

[death note] – Baki on Flickr, 14th Sep ’06

In contrast L was very, very good. Everything from walking barefoot, dark circles to his way of holding everything with two fingers: he was everything I’d imagined the manga L to be like in real life.

Considering the limited time the movie had, it wasn’t too bad. A little shifting of the plot details and the addition of Shiori (Shiori certainly didn’t exist in the manga) as a lead role. I suppose it had to be done that way to capture the feel of Raito’s unfeeling inhumanity. The flow of the story was pretty good, despite the length of the story captured. Not too many chopped up sequences, good work there.

Notice the end of the movie when L was munching on chips, the exact flavor Raito had earlier. Given that L is a fanatic about eating sweet stuff, it sort of hints that L had found out about how Raito had managed to pull off his stunt isn’t it? : )

In case any of you missed out on the trailer that came out after the movie’s credits:

[Death Note: God of Death] – SiuYuen on Flickr, 2nd Nov ’06

V and I missed out on that too, and we didn’t know until her sister told her about it. It’s actually a preview of the second movie that’ll be coming out later in the year. Note the new Shinigami Rem (the white coloured one), the appearance of the second Death Note and its owner : ) It promises to be a much more exciting movie, but I’m quite sure an entire chunk of stuff’ll be chopped yet again.

*sighs*

Watch out for Death Note: The Last Name! (It’ll be hitting Singapore late December if Wikipedia‘s right.)

Prince of Tennis, live in action!

[?] – Twitch.

Fans of the Prince of Tennis series should have heard of this: a POT movie done by real actors! I was really eager to check this out when I saw the trailer.

The movie turned out to be a compressed version of the anime series, from his entry into Seigaku to being a regular and on to the match against Hyotei Gakuen. Make that very highly compressed.. Kaido used his Boomerang Snake right at the start, as did Momoshiro with the Jack Knife. And Echizen knew how to use Fuji’s Hakugei at the end, WTF? His Cool Drive resembled a nuclear missile or something lol.

  • Tezuka was portrayed very well, managing to bring out the feel of the calm and resolute Seigaku captain.
  • Echizen wasn’t too bad either.
  • Kaido was very good too, with his menacing look. I was kinda surprised he didn’t do his trademark hissing and Momoshiro didn’t go on and on about calling Kaido mamushi. No usual fighting in the movie for the two of them.
  • Atobe was decent too, except for the fact that he didn’t have silver hair and didn’t go with his usual “na, Kabaji?” I miss that.
  • The actor for Kawamura was quite all right too, with his “BURNINGGG!!!” He really sounded like the anime seiyuu, damn.

I was kinda disappointed with a few of the choices for the characters though.

  • Inui wasn’t tall enough and looked kinda nerdy, not to mention his weird hair.
  • Momoshiro wasn’t that tall and was tanned o.O
  • Oishi’s hairdo looked just like the rest of the guys. I had a hard time telling who Oishi was at the beginning.
  • Nanjiro looked like any other middle-aged fellow, unlike the athletic and perverted Nanjiro in the anime.


On the whole, I enjoyed the movie. If only it wasn’t so chunky from being fast-forwarded, bah.

*猪猪乐园‘s a clue, if you’re wondering. Hmmmm..

-~-

I’m recommending that you buy the Japanese DVD of course.. but IF it so happens that you come into possession of the DVD rips (nooooo I’m not saying that you should download it, merely IF you happen to have them wink wink) and want to watch the movie with the Chinese subtitles hmmm, it gets a little tricky.

Anyway, here’s how you do it:

  • Download VLC media player and install it.
  • Download a Chinese font (I used SimSun) and place it anywhere other than C:WINDOWSFonts.

Now we’re done with the tools.

  • Select SettingsPreferences.
  • Under VideoSubtitles/OSD, look at the Text renderer option.
  • For Font, choose the font you downloaded earlier.
    *Note: this font cannot be in the WINDOWSFonts folder if it is to be used.

This is to select the proper font for displaying subtitles.

  • Make sure the .srt file is the of the same filename as your .avi file.
  • Use FileOpen File
  • Select the correct .avi and .srt files. Check the Use a subtitles file box.
  • Select Advanced settings, choose GBK for subtitles text encoding.
  • Click OK, and OK again.

Your subtitles should show correctly now : ) Enjoy!

How ’bout a mug then?

[Untitled] – Melissa Webb on Flickr, 28th Jul ’06

For the past week, my world has consisted mostly of the bed, the study table (PC and miscellaneous online distractions included), the dining table and the toilet. Oh yeah, insert fridge in moments of random hunger pangs. I sleep in the wee hours of the morning and usually wake up somewhere in the afternoon, lazing around until I get into revision mode. Yes, this is how exam revision is like for me.

I miss going to the gym, ugh.

So it’s bloody 0500hrs in the morning, here I am staring at my notes (some of them for the first time even!). I’m reading about ATM networks (not the ATM where you poke a card press some buttons and it spits some cash back at you nono), mobile networks (pretty interesting stuff, now I know how they work in theory) and going on to wireless networks (heavy theory reading ahead). One more chapter before I hit the sack.

And might I add that I am feeling absolutely famished. Famished for food, and probably affection as well since the significant other is like ten gazillion kilometers away. I’m feeling groggy from lack of sleep as well, but no coffee thankyew. (I’m not a member of the kopi club the way ahlong is.)

V must be tired and cold over there, she probably fell asleep on her bed without turning her laptop off just now. Talk about lousy 4-star hotels with no heater and thin blankets and the 10 odd degrees Celsius weather there. Lousy combination, I say.

Updated: Oh yeah. Screw the fcuking internet connection over there as well. I think almost half of her MSN messages got dropped and didn’t reach my end. *spits*

I wonder what she has planned for her weekend *ponders*

.. ‘cus I have no doubts about what mine is going to be like. Bah.

  • The last six chapters to be covered later tonight.
  • Hopefully I can squeeze a movie in somehow.
  • A meeting with the partners on Sunday
  • Followed by a recap of the first four chapters.

What partners? I’ll reveal that at a later time. For now, let’s keep it under wraps incase it all falls apart.

For now, lemme get my fix of wanton mee before I sleep.

-~-

Nice little piece from Ms E‘s previous hideyhole (I wonder if she’s actually forgotten about this post) titled è®°å¾— (Remember). Real life story about a lady who talked about the most important thing in love.

“穷不要紧, 开心就好, 要记得.” (Poverty matters not; it’s the happiness that counts.)

.. Ha ha. Har har har.

Excuse me while I let loose some of my pent-up sarcasm; it’s been looking for a way out for weeks. No shit, the lady who spoke the phrase is an absolute saint IMO. I seriously wonder how many women in this world would actually feel happy while living in relatively impoverished conditions: their husbands must be some piece of work.

If everyone thought like what the lady did (and prolly still does), divorce rates would sink like a rock and disputes would definitely hit an all-time low. Money’s the root of evil and all that shit, agreed? I should spread the word on this heh.

And in fact, I believe there’s a famous saying which goes like this:

爱情是不能当面包吃的. (You can’t live on love alone.)

The ladies should love this one. Money makes the world go round, no money no talk blah blah it all comes down to the same thing.

Nothing to this little sidetrack anyway, the feminists out there can stop sharpening their knives. I’m merely bored and you know what they say about an idle mind being the devil’s workshop.

Time to sleep.

-~-

Addendum:
Naruto manga spoiler alert: Asuma kicks the bucket in chapter 328, woot.
Prince of Tennis manga chapter 321: Fuji loses, WTF.
One Piece manga chapter 431: The Straw Hat Pirates look to be getting a new ship soooooon!
– Longstanding rant: where the fcuk is the next season of the Gantz manga!?
– Even more longstanding rant: where the hell is my Bastard!!! volume 24!

A humorous perspective

[Maggi Mee! in Manchester] – Zijian on Flickr, 20th Dec ’05.

.. of modern relationships, as described by the mother. She looked at it as Maggi Mee-style: quick to form and quick to end. No way to long romantic courtships, so she says.

That was normal. The funny bit was her talking about relationships as..

一二三, 上床跳跳跳 (What we would call wham bam thank you ma’am in English.)

-_-|||

I couldn’t stop laughing when she first said that. Now that I think of it, that’s not really a weird light to paint it by. Funny, but true. Loneliness brings people together, and yet expectations drive them apart. Perhaps the basic principle here’s never to take your significant other for granted.

-~-

Addendum:

Bleach‘s manga chapter 246 is fcukin’ hilarious, especially when the un-Hollowlike Hollows find out Ichigo’s true identify as a Shingami. Methinks this reveals a new perspective to the world of Hollows. And the sudden appearances of.. !


“WTF!!!”

One Piece‘s manga chapter 430 paints an emotional farewell of Luffy and gang to their beloved ship. Where to next?

Naruto‘s manga chapter 326 plods on with the fight against seemingly immortal Akatsuki member. (Asuma looks to be meeting his maker in the next chapter.)