Tim's Blog

30 May

DIY instant traceroute with this free website.
09:45:24 PM - timyang - No comments

I would have liked to write more about Robert, about my weekend with Robert and Vicky, the conversation that we had and my analysis of the latest book I read by Harriet Doerr called "Stones for Ibarra"... but I'm not in the mood right now. I'm supposed to be doing a lot of reading for my exam tomorrow.

Tomorrow I also have to go watch Pearl Harbor and shop for a digital camera and a tape recorder that I can use to digitalise conversations and sounds into RealAudio. (Ask me "Why?" and I'll say "Why not?")
07:51:50 PM - timyang - No comments

Sixties pop diary
Here is an amazing site that catalogs things that happened in the sixties in a year by year format. It's a source site for books, music, fashions and events that marked each year.
07:40:10 PM - timyang - No comments

Bush diaries
Madeleine Kane runs a fake online diary called the Bush Diaries chronicaling the life and times of President Bush in his own words. Here's an exerpt:
"China's makin us ship the plane in pieces on some Russian plane. I wanted to say no but they gave us some kinda ultimater -- whatever that is."
07:36:42 PM - timyang - No comments

Here's a website that tracks weblogs that have died. It's called Fucked Weblog.
07:31:55 PM - timyang - No comments

28 May

Looks like my itinerary is:

8 June - Paris, meet Laure, see Eifel Tower, experience Parisian cafe lifestyle, experience French jazz in Paris sewer bar
11 June - Brussels, meet Sharm, catch up, drink Belgian beer, eat Belgian rabbit and waffles, refuse to eat chips with mayonaise
14 June - Bruge, on the recommendation of Robert, see Belgian countryside, might visit the Hague depending on whether I am able to get in touch with Jules or not
16 June - Paris, then London, crash at Robert's place, visit Ms Louis my secondary school literature teacher and thank her for introducing me to critical thinking, go shopping in Harrod's, visit Tate Modern
18 June - Bournemouth, confirm that all the luggage has been picked up by TNT and delivered safely
19 June - Upload pictures and write stories of holiday
20 June - See Janice
22 June - Heathrow
23 June - Arrive in Kuala Lumpur, crash at Wolf's
24 June - Call Yasmin
26 June - Job interview with Leo Burnett (hopefully) and Ogilvy and Mather and with whoever else I haven't worked for or pissed off
04:48:06 AM - timyang - No comments

Robert and Vicky
Spent the day with Robert and Vicky today. They came down from London by rail to spend the day with me in Bournemouth. I met Robert several years ago while I was in Melbourne. I hadn't spoken to him since then. But I remembered that he moved to London soon after I left Melbourne. I looked him up as soon as I got to England, and lo and behold, he was still at the same address. What luck! I shall write more about my day tomorrow.
04:38:07 AM - timyang - No comments

Sorry if I'm snitty every once in a while. It's not you, it's me (haha! how many times have you heard that?)

Really. It's not because I'm cruel, it's because I'm just an insecure little freak who can't handle anybody making inquiries into my life.
04:35:47 AM - timyang - No comments

26 May

Alien Budweiser
Have you seen the latest Budweiser TV commercial? Bwahahahahaha! Don't ask me to explain it, just watch it.
08:03:08 PM - timyang - No comments

More bumper stickers
Another load of one-liners.
07:06:08 PM - timyang - No comments

Just a tip...
Here's another website that sends people you know an anonymous email so that you can tell them about their annoying habits or problems without the embarrassment of having to tell them yourself.
07:00:05 PM - timyang - No comments

Skanky bitches
'According to the most recent census numbers, Georgia leads the nation in percentage of single Dads raising children, a disturbing statistic some experts attribute to the high number of skanky bitches who live in the state.'
06:55:34 PM - timyang - No comments

Buzzword generator
This is fun! An engine that displays a new randomly-constructed buzzphrase every five seconds.
06:49:24 PM - timyang - No comments

25 May

Called Sharm yesterday
Made a call to Singapore yesterday and got in touch with Sharm, at last!

She said she left her Belgian mobile phone number with her family but they never passed it to me. I've been trying to get in touch with her for over a year (sent her a postcard and made calls) because I missed her. I haven't seen her in seven years. We just went our separate ways, literally. She went on another of her extended tours of Europe and I went to Malaysia to look for some kind of work that I wanted to do.

She was a classmate while I was at the polytechnic in Singapore. I always thought there was something there between us, but we remained friends. In any case, we could never be happy together. We could never be happy, period. She'd always want to be somewhere else and someone else, and so would I.

She always went out with guys from a variety of European countries, and she got them to sponsor her trips, if not just to have a place to stay while she was touring. That wasn't the most ideal of motives to get boyfriends, but if I were a looker like Sharm I'd have done the same thing.

She ended up in Brussels, god knows doing what. I wonder if she actually found happiness in the end? Anyway I'll be seeing her in a couple of weeks time.
05:46:23 PM - timyang - No comments

24 May

How to date young women for men over 35
Haha! This is one of the best prank books I have ever seen. An excellent birthday gift... provided you don't have many friends. :-)
06:32:29 PM - timyang - No comments

A Muslim, a Catholic and a Jew were having an argument over who had the most faith.

"I was riding my camel in the middle of the Sahara," exclaimed the Muslim. "Suddenly, a fierce sandstorm appeared out of nowhere. I truly thought my end had come as I lay next to my camel while we were being buried deeper and deeper under the sand. But I didn't lose my faith in Allah. I prayed and prayed, and suddenly, for ten miles all around me, the storm stopped and I was able to get back to my village."

The Catholic chimed in, "One day while I was fishing in a little rowboat in the ocean, a giant storm came from nowhere. 50 foot waves! I thought my end had truly come. I prayed and prayed to the Virgin Mary, and then, for ten miles around me, the storm ceased and I was able to row back to shore."

Both of them turned to look at the Jew who started, "I was in the middle of New York City. Suddenly, a black bag fell from nowhere. I put my hand inside and found it full of cash. I truly thought my end had come as it was a Saturday and we're not allowed to handle money on the Sabbath. But I didn't lose my faith. I prayed and prayed, and suddenly, for ten miles around me, it was Tuesday!"
06:02:14 PM - timyang - No comments

Towel Day
Spread the word! Tomorrow is Towel Day! It's to mark the passing of Douglas Adams -- everyone will carry a towel with them wherever they go. Beware the mattresses!
05:57:24 PM - timyang - No comments

Research portal
This is cool! I've always been looking for a service like this. It's a research portal for journalists, but good for the kind of business research I need.
05:51:15 PM - timyang - No comments

23 May

Too much internet is bad for studying
Irony of ironies. The origins of the internet lie in a network of computers set up by universities (and military organisations) to share information and to aid education. Now, it's been found that first year students suffer from internet overdose, cumulating in over-dosing before class.

Of course I never had a problem with that. Nope. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
07:37:31 PM - timyang - No comments

Bunny Luv
Pixis Interactive, the digital pornographers have created a character called Bunny Luv for the Playstation 2 and for the X-Box. Or as they put it, "compatible with PornStation 2 and Sex-Box". Woo-hoo!

Erm, I mean, that's so sad, soooooooooooo sad. Porno on a kids game machine. Tsk tsk tsk!

(Can't wait for "Poke-me" on the Nintendo GameCube!)
07:10:16 PM - timyang - No comments

Pearl Harbor
Finally. The movie will be debuting next week. The damn trailers have been playing in the cinemas since last August.
06:59:33 PM - timyang - No comments

22 May

Urban legends
Oh cool! An urban legends search engine! It collects stories and claims to figure out how they started and how true they are.
07:02:03 PM - timyang - No comments

Staples.com price hard to justify
Defining the sale price of any company is difficult. Projected earnings especially for a company in trouble tend to be very low.

However, a brand like Staples.com has an asset called Brand Stature which has been gained by its long-standing history of satisfactory trading and by a carry-over effect from its brand endorsement from the bricks-and-mortar Staples company. Brand stature as an asset can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. However, brand stature is often disregarded as an adequate asset because it is notoriously difficult to calculate.

But now, there has been research into brand stature that justifies the value of a brand, often called financial brand equity, as the brand strength (with monetary weighting given to a combination of awareness, loyalty, satisfaction and intention to purchase or re-purchase) minus the amount of money spent on building the brand.

Staples.com could have used that instead of worrying so much. It may not have made valuation any easier, but it would have been a good place to start.

Of course the brand stature principle could mean that a dotcom could buy a domain, set up a website, then blow their entire business budget on lavish TV commercials to reach peak awareness then declare bankruptcy and sell the brand and the business for a profit without actually selling a single thing. Haha. If only they knew.
06:51:47 PM - timyang - No comments

A whole bunch of gorgeous gals who describe themselves as "a bunch of craft-happy folks working to inspire other creative types with projects, recipes, personal essays, and interviews with those who craft for a living."
06:43:23 PM - timyang - No comments

Oh god, is this asshole serious?!
Has power gone to his head?! Is he trying to start World War III?!
06:36:38 PM - timyang - No comments

Europe here I come
Just found out that I have an excess of �1500 in my bank account with all my school fees paid up and my flight back to Malaysia bought. I think my sponsor must have thought I had an extra term in the UK.

I think I'll have a look around Europe for a bit. Hang out in the ganja shops in Amsterdam, listen to the French jazz in some Paris sewer bar, get shot at by some Spanish rebels. That sort of thing.

(I just wish someone had told me earlier that Munich was spelled 'Munchen'. Damn. For two weeks I thought the Death Star got to it first.)
05:50:25 PM - timyang - No comments

21 May

There's a body in the trunk
A police officer pulls a guy over for speeding and asks for his driver's license.

"I don't have one," said the driver, "I had it suspended when I got my fifth DUI."

"May I see the owner's card for this vehicle?" asked the officer.

"It's not my car," replied the driver, "I stole it."

"The car is stolen?"

"That's right. But come to think of it, I think I saw the owner's card in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there."

"There's a gun in the glove box?"

"Yes sir. That's where I put it after I shot and killed the woman who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk."

"There's a BODY in the TRUNK?"

"Yes, sir."

Hearing this, the officer immediately calls for back-up. The car is quickly surrounded and the driver is taken immediately into custody.

At the station, the police captain interviews the driver.

"Sir," said the captain, "may I see your license?"

"Sure," said the driver, handing the license over, "Here it is."

The captain checks it and it's valid.

"Whose car were you driving?"

"It's mine, captain," said the driver, handing the owner's card to him and the captain confirmed that the driver owned the car.

So the captain takes the driver to the car and asks him to open the glove box slowly. The driver opens it and there's no gun there.

"Would you mind opening your trunk?" said the captain, "You told the officer there's a body in it."

"No problem."

The trunk opened and there was no body.

The captain said, "I don't understand. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn't have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glove box, and that there was a dead body in the trunk."

"Yeah," replied the driver, "And I'll bet the lying sack of shit told you I was speeding, too."
08:12:18 PM - timyang - No comments

How about .it?
Why aren't American and British businesses taking more advantage of Italian domain names? If they don't, they're missing an opportunity because the '.it' domain name suffix can be read as an English word and would gain a relevant meaning if the preceding part of the domain name was a verb.

For instance, for an online bookmarks site. Since www.bookmark.com and www.bookmarks.com are already taken, why not www.bookmark.it? Furthermore, variants might be created by simply adding a word such as 'just' in front of the verb as in www.justbeat.it.

The Italians generally create domain names that are

a) meaningful in the Italian language
b) meaningful to Italians
c) part of a multi-national branding scheme such as www.amazon.it

By-and-large they'll ignore the English-language domain name possibilities. Especially possibilities with meanings that are slightly less than obvious such as www.eatsh.it (unfortunately, taken already). But I don't think it's Nike that has sussed-out www.justdo.it.

Darwinspacelabs offers a WHOIS service for .it domains.

(Remember, you heard .it here first!)
07:44:05 PM - timyang - No comments

20 May

The mullet
The hairstyle is back. It's apparently a very old style, the name having been coined by Mark Twain (I wonder if that's another fake Twain legend...). If we see it popularised again, the short-pony tail won't be far behind since that was the only neat way of wearing it. Visit Mullet Joe. He always said it would be back some day.
09:59:33 PM - timyang - No comments

Do you have a best friend?
I've never. Wouldn't know I had one if I did. And I sure wouldn't know how to keep one.

Even as a child I always knew I was different. That was one of the ways. Everyone I knew seemed so carefree as a child. I imagine they had fun, they hung out. And they always had stories to tell of how this person they knew did this or that. They could make fun of each other without reprisal. And they always had someone to tell things to.

With a best friend, you could say "Hey let's hang out" and even if he was busy, you could be certain you wouldn't get rejected.

Those four words have the same effect on me as if a captain of a ship told me that I had just been volunteered for a suicide mission.

I have always been afraid of being found out that I don't know anything about hanging out. Or just being there for someone. I feel very uneasy even when I've had five beers inside me. I will go stone cold quiet.

When it comes to relationships, even the platonic kind, the only thing I associate with them aren't the nice things. It's always the pain. I've watched as people I knew related stories of the crying. The mind games. The testings. The parts of a relationship where you have to be supportive. Or to be nice. To do things you don't want to do. Or fear doing. And those are things that have been bubble-gummed into me. I have never experienced the nice things about being a friend or having a friend to share with without paying someone $25 for fifty minutes on a couch for it.

I never knew how that started. But now I can unequivocally say that began sometime while I was having the crap beaten out of me or being yelled at and being screamed at by my sick demented mother.

And when no one came to my rescue, it seemed as though everyone I knew rejected me. From my relatives, to my teachers... and to my friends.

It seemed as though everyone had much better lives than I. I turned to watching a lot of TV to escape from this reality. But I think that made things worse. I became very jealous of the characters in the contrived sitcoms who always had happy endings and parents who, although defective, had a degree of wisdom and caring in them. I wanted so much to be part of their lives, that I even picked up mannerisms and phrases and speech patterns of the characters on TV. To this day I speak with an American accent, even though I have only met four and I have never set foot on anything American including dog doo.

I know a bit better now. Every one has their own baggage to carry. Every one has a secret or a weakness. Even those who have had care-free lives often turn their care-free existence into a source of despondency, like some kind of survivor syndrome.

It makes things a bit more bearable for me to know that. Although I must confess I do sometimes take advantage of it. I have developed an ability to peg someone from snatches of information and casual observation to spot a fragment of uneasiness and gently tweak it and enjoy watching that person squirm. For example if a person is arrogant, I'll immediately know that the arrogance is hiding some insecurity and I'll push that person's knowledge on a variety of topics until I hear the slight telltale quiver in the voice.

I'd like to make a friend. Even a very good friend. And I have tried to in the past. But it has been too easy to fall back on the old habits and to instinctively turn down invitations to parties with flimsy excuses. I realise I have to make myself more available just as much as a twenty-a-day smoker knows that he has to kick his habit or die.

But my situation is much worse. For instance, there isn't a 'Socially-Retarded Anonymous'.
02:18:49 AM - timyang - No comments

19 May

Ok this interview with a couple of strippers is pretty amusing. What can I say? I've got a Demi Moore fetish.
03:40:15 AM - timyang - No comments

18 May

Bringing out the dead
More things I don't want to find out about Americans. Hearse enthusiasts, huh!

But then again, why not? After all if you can have rice enthusiasts, why not cars that carry dead people too.
12:59:03 PM - timyang - No comments

Brand doctor
In a few weeks I'll have to do something frightening. I'll have to go back to work.

I like to think of myself as a brand doctor. People bring their sick products that don't sell and brands that exhibit symptoms of decline and I prescribe remedies such as injections of advertising.

But like doctors, I am always second-guessed by my patients and my colleagues. They question my solutions and it's hard for me not to take it personally. It upsets me to think that they might think I'm a dullard or incompetent. Within two months it will become a downward spiral of self-questioning leading to under-confidence. And that's when everyone will start to think they were right about me after all and I'll lose their trust completely. In the advertising business where millions in currency is riding on your personal assessment skills, trust is the only thing you really sell.

The result is that I won't be able to affect long-term solutions that often includes education for the clients and for the personnel involved in the process including other copywriters, the art directors and the account managers. As a non-management employee it may not be my place to suggest such solutions.

Sometimes I think I'm just selfish to think of such things because solutions like those will inadvertently take the pressure off me to perform as one of the few people who have been formally trained in brand management and marketing and spread the pressure across the board.

But that's like the same decisions doctors have to make. They can't perform miracles. In the end they can only help the people get back on their feet in order to take responsibility for their own health. And in my case, the performance of the brands under their care.

Either that, or I've been watching too much ER again.
12:45:35 PM - timyang - No comments

16 May

Souvenir from the UK
Nearing the end of my tenure in the UK, I gave some thought to the one thing I'd like to bring with me from my stay here.

It would have to be a symbol of the culture of the UK, something that lasted (I thought of getting some Irish stout and Welsh ale and Scottish whiskey, but they wouldn't have lasted longer than the 13 hour flight). It would have to be meaningful to anyone outside of the UK (so it couldn't be a symbol of the Tower of London, the Royals or Big Ben which are passe).

So in the end I decided on this BBC cap. The BBC is so prolific with its famous three-bar radio news broadcast jingle that its unmistakably British and has resisted change since the day it first played. As a news source, it is one of the world's longest-lasting brands with virtually impeccable credibility. Children who are taught English, especially in the Commonwealth countries, are always asked to listen to the stiff BBC ennunciation on the radio as a guide toward eloquence. It has an intenable place in pop culture. BBC radio has been heard in every movie and book set in the World War II era featuring a radio-operator. The latest of which has been Captain Correlli's Mandolin.

The cap can only be ordered from within Europe. And as far as I know, the counterfeiters haven't gotten round to making copies and aren't likely to because it isn't a luxury brand. So it's a rather unique product.

For me, the BBC symbolises a constant, something dependable. And that's how I'd like my memory of my stay in the UK to be.
08:33:54 PM - timyang - No comments

Gladiator girl
I was watching a TV programme the other night about a fascinating new archaelogical find near the centre of London. It was a grave site with one grave that archaelogists believe belonged to a gladiator. But this gladiator, the programme said, was a 30-something woman! Russell Crowe was a pansy compared to this woman! Apparently the Romans and the Londoners got tired of watching guys and animals fight all the time and they wanted a little variety.

Geez, those guys had orgies and debauchery but they never got round to the big invention -- female mud-wrestling.
07:52:01 PM - timyang - No comments

Education is wasted on the young. Part II
This 17-year old stuffs 161 straws into his mouth... and gets into the Guinness Book of World Records. The previous record was 151. I am never reading that book ever again.
07:43:08 PM - timyang - No comments

15 May

Fun in anthropology

A testimony to the strange fascination with youth culture? Or the strange fascination with marijuana?
06:15:05 PM - timyang - No comments

I've always thought of my blog as a piece of myself that I will leave behind when I'm dead.

The final moments have always weighed heavily on my mind and I'd like to think that someone might be interested in reading it.

My grandfather at 88 is nearing the end of his. He has lived through World War II as an entrepreneur while the Japanese held Malaysia and Singapore and survived through innovation and just plain luck. But I shall never find out about it because he never talks about his experiences. It makes me sad that no one will ever find out about how he lived his extraordinary life.

So my blog is much like an autobiography written while I am alive and kicking. It will track my life and my activities through the years. Perhaps one day I shall do something extraordinary, or perhaps simply being alive is an extraordinary thing.

I have always edited my blog not just as a matter of presentation but also as a matter of respect for those who might come later. Blundourous typos and poorly turned phrases for me shows a lack of consideration.

Is this honest? Is it true to my character? If I said that like all published authors, I'd like my work and therefore my life, to be seen in the best possible light, then 'yes' it is.
06:10:22 PM - timyang - No comments

Fresh air fiend
Currently reading Paul Theroux's latest book Fresh air fiend. Theroux is one of my favourite authors and is generally typed as a travel writer. But he has written several novels, one of the most famous is Mosquito Coast which was later made into a movie of the same name starring Harrison Ford which Ford has often said is his favourite movie.

Fresh Air Fiend is a collection of articles he wrote while traveling between 1985-2000. He has been to virtually every where around the world from South Africa, where he spent several years of his youth, to South America and all over Asia and China (experiences on which he based his book Riding the Iron Rooster).

I've found Theroux a garrulous writer, often meandering around the same theme in a rather disconnected way. His writing is something like that of a hermit muttering around to himself, but he does know how to turn a phrase. He often speaks of the isolation of traveling and what it feels like to be a stranger. And that's something I can identify with.
05:52:41 PM - timyang - No comments

Personalised email addresses
I've got several new email addresses such as timyang@baywatchextra.co.uk and timyang@braindonor.co.uk. They're all from another.com.
05:42:22 PM - timyang - No comments

14 May

Just studying for exams
I've got my brand management exam on the 21st, relationship marketing on 31st and interactive media on 6th June. Right now I am reading up on brand management.
06:43:21 PM - timyang - No comments

13 May

The Well
Hey, I didn't know Salon.com is actually a make-over of The Well. These mergers are crazy.
10:31:25 PM - timyang - No comments

Sunday service
If you can't get out of the house on Sunday, try attending an online service. This is an audio as well as a video service requiring RealPlayer.

Oh yeah, and this one is a presbyterian service. What's the difference between a catholic service, a anglican service, a presbyterian service and a protestant service etc etc? Nothing. They're all organised crimin... er, I mean well-intentioned organised religions.
10:26:33 PM - timyang - No comments

11 May

Bad bad bad
That went really badly. I babbled. And I don't think he was at all convinced.

Oh wait. I think he was convinced... that I'm a babbling idiot.
05:19:00 AM - timyang - No comments

A scare
Had a bit of a scare earlier today. I was expecting a call from an associate planning director from an ad agency in the States to interview me for an account planning job.

He didn't call. I waited for an hour. So I decided to call him. Apparently he did try to call, but I think he misdialled. After another false start, he managed to get through to my number. But he couldn't take the interview because he had another meeting to go through. Why me?

He'll call back again later tonight at 3pm CST. I hope he actually gets through this time.

It was supposed to be a webcam interview, but he couldn't swing it. I am better at face-to-face interview where I can perform and I'm more spectacular at. It's very unlike my usual dour personality... but hey, an interview only lasts for a short time.
02:24:41 AM - timyang - No comments

08 May

The Legend of 1900
Idiot savants are so called because despite an unfortunate deformity of the brain that hampers their perception of the world, they have a single remarkable gift which is often mathematics or music. But someone once told me that it is because of this deformity that they are able to perform so extraordinarily. It can't be explained in terms of poor genetics or synaptic nerves firing in the wrong direction. Rather it is that somewhere in their minds, they instinctively understand their deformity, embrace it and allow it to be their womb from which they can stretch the legs of their creativity in whichever direction they so choose.

In The Legend of 1900, the larger-than-life protagonist (played by Tim Roth) finds his womb in the form of the cross-Atlantic cruiser on which he was born and raised -- aptly named the Virginian as he has no idea who his father is. He is nicknamed '1900' because he was born on on the first day on the first month of the year 1900 which is yet another facet of his mythical improbability.

1900's deformity is that he cannot bear to leave the ship. His colleagues look upon him with pity because he cannot know the wonders of the world beyond the decks of the Virginian. Roger Ebert posits that 1900 cannot walk off the plank because he is in love with himself and cannot bear to put himself in harm's way and to experience the loss of his womb. In the end, he becomes a legend leaving behind only the memories within his passengers and colleagues and a broken wax record.

1900's particular gift is the ability to express the characters of the people he meets onboard the Virginian through the keyboard of a piano. He creates music so profound that it can only be characterised by the appearance of another legend, the jazz player Jelly Roll Morton, who comes onboard to challenge him to a piano duel. Consequently, he takes away Jelly Roll Morton's Virginian -- his self-opinion of his own greatness.

Each scene is a metaphor for the womb, from the coal-filled dungeons of the steam room to the piano halls where 1900 is showered and protected by the wonderous gazes of his audience. And each time that 1900 is offered an opening, he refuses to take it. The ship is not a prison, he says. It is his salvation and his freedom. ("Land is a ship too big for me.") The finite walls offer him the reassuring security that the big city and its infinite sprawls can never. It is only onboard the ship that he can make his magic. That may not be absolutely true, but that is the truth for 1900.

Do not look upon 1900 and those of his ilk who have found their contentment within their safety nets. All the great legends have found their Virginian. Napolean found it in Catherine. Beethovan found it in Johanna. Some people find it in things as Citizen Kane finds it in Rosebud. And though in the end it may even destroy them, they are in one way the lucky ones.
01:26:10 AM - timyang - No comments

07 May

Education does not make you smarter
The evidence is here for all to see at the traditional University of Michigan's Naked Mile.
07:06:03 PM - timyang - No comments

The lake
I had a dream last night that described an idyllic location of a luscious valley-incased lake whose waters were so clear and flat it took on a mirror-like appearance.

Children would make a mad dash and jump off a pier or a short cliff and, because the water was so flat and still, they could skip across the surface on their knees and shins like skipping stones till they reached the other side.

I can imagine that a lake like the Dead Sea with its salt-soaked waters might produce a similar effect because the viscosity of the liquid might create a tense-enough surface. I have yet to come across a similar location while reading National Geographic. But I'm sure it's out there somewhere.
06:52:16 PM - timyang - No comments

Dumb code
Here's a site featuring all the worst ideas in open source codes. "If you wrote it and you want it here, it definitely belongs here".
06:45:13 PM - timyang - No comments

06 May

Funny t-shirt site
This site sells funny warning t-shirts like "Do not set yourself on fire" and "If your watch slides off in the open wound of a sacrificial victim do not attempt to retrieve it" and "Do not taunt the octopus".

I can imagine Alex's favourite will be "Suspending of bodies by their nipples is not allowed beyond this point".
05:12:53 AM - timyang - No comments

05 May

Captain Corelli's Mandolin: the movie
The problem with producing a movie based on a book is that sometimes movie-makers try to turn the book into a movie.

The texture of the book is found in the detailed and poetic prose that describe a quirky anecdotes of the characters therein. For example, there is Father Antonio who gets alcohol poisoning because he is too greedy for the offerings his parishioners bring. There's Mandras, the idealistic and playful fisherman who finds his soulmates while swimming with dolphins. There's Carlo Guercio the gay Italian soldier who falls in love with another soldier who inspires him to heroic acts that even his Greek enemies cheer. The book is filled with these stories so much so that there's hardly any space left for the love story of Captain Correlli and Pelagia.

Captain Corelli's MandolinThe problem arises when the movie attempts to cram as many of the stories into the first 40 minutes. The book manages to pace itself with luscious descriptions of the island, but the movie (like all movies) with its finite time span and budget does not have that luxury. The result is that pacing is completely lost and feels hurried and cramped. It seems the actors felt the pacing as well and hurried in their speeches, especially Nicholas Cage. Certainly each scene by itself is a credit to the director, cinematographer and the actors in them, but the editor left hardly a pause for the audience to take a breath and inhale the atmosphere. I would have loved to see what the movie would have been like if it were three hours long instead of its paltry one hour and 50 minutes.

This is not to say that the moviemakers are completely to blame. The author himself bears a certain degree of responsibility. In his book, Louis de Benieres furnished each character with a chapter for themselves so that the wonderful tales of their lives and loves could be told. Yet conspicuously missing is the one for Captain Corelli. Captain Corelli in the book is more like a machine built for spouting one-liners and only appeared toward the middle of it. I posit that the character of Captain Corelli is nowhere nearly developed enough to centre a movie around. I've always felt that the best love stories fluorish with backdrops of drama and social and cultural tension. There's none of that during the occupation on the island of Cephalonnia thanks to the incessant camaraderie between the native Greeks and the Italian soldiers who occupy their island. Thus the love story in both the book and the movie has so little drama that it resembles a teenage crush story with all its awkwardness and assumptions. I would stick my neck out to suggest that de Benieres wrote in the character of Captain Corelli and named the book after him as a cynical joke played on his publishers after they insisted that a book of the inhabitants of a tiny Greek island during its occupation in World War II would not sell as well as a romance novel.

Having said all that, I would still recommend you watch the movie and read the book. In that order. You can introduce yourself to the characters during the movie. But allow the book to flesh them out for you. Trust me on this.
06:48:43 PM - timyang - No comments

04 May

Deadline reached
Handed in my dissertation today. It was a breeze. 30 days worth of work. No problem. Learned a heckuva a lot and it was kinda of fun. I think I'd like to do it again.
11:04:51 PM - timyang - No comments

02 May

Snow Wars
I wasn't in the US during the election campaign (probably just as well) so this is the first time I'm hearing that the new President wants to spend billions of dollars to build a missile defence shield.

Of the "least responsible states" that he wants to use the shield to protect the US against he surrepticiously fails to mention the one he's encountered most recently -- China. The US and China have never liked each other much. But you don't go around building a 10' high snowfort then throw a snowball at another kid and say "see, that's why I needed to build a 10' high snowfort!" when he threatens to pelt you.

(I think I must be half-French. I come up with the most inconceivable methaphors and analogies.)
09:34:44 PM - timyang - No comments

Good In Bed
'Good In Bed', the first novel by Jennifer Weiner, is about Cannie who is 'Fat. Alone. Unloved... Ally McBeal and Bridget Jones put together' and how she copes with her self-image. The book begins with Cannie finding out that her ex-boyfriend wrote a magazine article called "Loving A Larger Woman". She goes ballistic, taking her anger out on him in a parking lot after he asks to meet her. But when she actually finishes reading the article she is moved to tears because it was really sympathetic and decried the way that society treated overweight women.

The style is fast-paced and fun to read. It is humorous and the characters are charming with their self-effacing wit. It's quite Candace Bushnell-esque. In fact, it's quite like a lot of books that are on the shelves right now. It won't win any book awards. But if you like both Ally McBeal and Bridget Jones, my bet is you'll be a big fan of Cannie too. Er, no pun intended. (Well, not initially, at least.)
09:22:35 PM - timyang - No comments

01 May

Porno Farce
Remember that film genre from the 70s, Porno Farce? It was the kind of porn movie with dwarfs and moustachiod dictator generals and cheesy props like 20' high paper-mache dicks and plastic alien space-ship computer terminals when you had bimbo alien invaders. Remember that? That was fun!

The only problem with the genre is that it spawned fat hairy ugly bastards like Ron Jeremy.

The porno film makers seemed to have so much fun way back. These days you still get the occasional movie about alien bimbo invaders but it's more porno than farce. I think I want to bring that genre back.

I'm going to make a low-budget porno farce movie with character called 'Jackhammer Jack' who has the world's strongest hips and can't get laid because he keeps breaking beds and sends his partners flying leaving a woman-shaped hole in the wall. And it's going to have an army of little hairy porno dwarfs dressed like teddy bears and ewoks and they sodomise a helpless beautiful alien bimbo who only wants to find an esoteric object to repair her broken dildo-shaped spaceship called something cheesy like The Great Cum. And there are rayguns that make things disappear but are all broken when the spaceship crashed so they only make clothes disappear.

Er, stuff like that.
07:08:41 PM - timyang - No comments

Get your own porn star name
Some people in Cambridge have too much time on their hands. They came up with four lists of porn star names and created a random generator to display them.
06:36:15 PM - timyang - No comments

It was Wednesday
I had a nightmare last night. I dreamed it was Wednesday. That was a nightmare because my dissertation deadline is 5pm Friday and I haven't finished my literature review which is necessary for me to be able to conclude my primary research results.

I realised it was just a nightmare, got up and went to check my computer and the date read "Wed 2 May". Then I realised I was still dreaming, woke up and checked the date on the computer and it read "Wed 2 May". Then I said whoa! and I woke up for real and checked the date on the computer which read "Wed 2 May"...

It was one of those infinite goddamned circuitous dreams!

When I really really really woke up, I laid in bed for two hours. Without blinking once.
05:53:14 PM - timyang - No comments