Archive for December, 2007

Camera Obscura

Yesterday I had a finished roll of film with me when I went to Parkway with the buds, so I dropped it off at the developer. Being new to photography, using a film SLR camera is really learning it the hard way – without instant previews, the learning curve is that much steeper.

It’s not that I want to be atas-old-skool; it’s just simply because I can’t afford a digital SLR right now (Abba, I know you’re hearing this! 2008 yes?) and the film cameras my family has were left behind by my father.

However, the one thing a DSLR (or any digital camera, for that matter) can’t replicate is the ‘not-knowing’ and the excitement of seeing your prints before you get them from the developers. I was just thinking of that essential difference between film and digital, technicalities notwithstanding, and how it possesses a few parallels with life. The digital – eponymous with the characteristics of the very times we live in, the ‘digital age’ – is instant gratification, what-I-want i-get-now, effective, in-the-moment; film, however, requires patience, is cultivated through experience and is a ponderous passage through time as one waits for a roll to be finished and subsequently developed.

These are idle thoughts, really, put down here for future reference – but in many ways we can see how technology has evolved with the shifting tastes and perceptions of the generation of the age. I remember reading somewhere that advances in technology, or inventions, are not the precursors that causes such cultural shifts, but rather, it is the reverse that is true. Technological innovation is the speculation of the continual, if volatile, change of societal perspectives, tastes and behaviours.

And I add further, possibly to the detriment of the credibility of my positing, that I read a statement by Iron Man and Mr Fantastic (superheroes, geniuses and impossibly rich in the Marvel universe because of their inventions) who said they were successful not because they were inventors or innovators, but rather because they considered themselves as futurists. Essentially, it was their uncanny anticipation of creating or inventing technology for society at large even before society knew they wanted or needed them.

This has been a large digression from talking about cameras, but I am encouraged nonetheless: for our God is a God who is not constricted by time and space. Jesus was punished for our past, present and future sins therefore paying for ALL our iniquities. And our salvation is not merely restricted to the forgiveness of sins, for His blood has granted us the righteousness of God and thus ALL the blessings of the righteous man.

The simple truth becomes clear: Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The promises of God (the implication is wonderfully tremendous), is therefore not limited by time, space or chance. Because of the eternal and loving nature of Abba and the finished work of Jesus at the cross, the promises made unto us, the beloved, are irrefutable, irrevocable and always true.

But even if I forget all else, I just hold close in my heart that I am loved. By God himself. And I carry on.

Anyway! Here are pretty pictures to look at over that sudden and unplanned flurry of words written on an empty stomach.

These are just previews from the developed roll; I’ve just sent in another three rolls to be developed after I collected these:

Mabel after Christmas service @ Pepper Lunch (Novena)

Feed the Cheerleader, Save the World

Lost to me at the shooting game. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Beautiful CG @ Villa Marina, 22.12.07
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I Am Legend: Afterthoughts

On Thursday a bunch of us caught I Am Legend at Vivocity’s GVMax theatre.

This isn’t a review, though without explaining too lengthily why, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. I don’t think it’s an entertaining film where you leave your brain at the theatre doors; rather, it’s one that makes you think. However, the final act of the film is a letdown –  yes there’s lots of Hollywood action schlock, yadda yadda plus a convenient ending that will no doubt appeal to the mainstream moviegoing audiences at large.. but the first two acts makes it worth watching, especially if you’re a sci-fi buff.

Warren Ellis once quoted from Frederik Pohl who said, “Science fiction is way of thinking about things”.

If you look at the history of sci-fi you will realise how the technology imagined within the stories have now become a reality.. so the suspension of disbelief necessary for the premise of I Am Legend becomes a way of thinking, “What If?” and not quite so far from the world at present.

Interestingly enough, there was a trailer of Stephen King’s The Mist played before the film, which was basically about a group of people trapped in a store because of a mysterious ‘mist’ of killer insects. I first came to know of this story when I read an interview with comics writer Mark Millar or Brian Michael Bendis, I can’t quite recall; but what struck me was how he shared about how he was similarly inspired by Stephen King’s ‘method’ when it came to crafting a tale: taking an ordinary event, such as going to the grocery store and coming up with random events that turn it into something out of the ordinary. In this case, King asked, “What if all the people who went into the store were trapped in it by an attack of killer insects?”, thus giving birth to the idea for The Mist.

While the horror film genre has largely descended into pandering to the appetites of the mainstream film audience, I always felt that the best kind of spine-chilling horror would be clever and witty – through which it reveals that the real horrifying stuff is contained within the human condition. All the supernatural gaggle that accompanies it are just useful plot devices or metaphors.

The heart of I Am Legend deals with isolation, whether imposed or chosen, and explores its terrifying consequences. Will Smith is excellent in expressing Dr Robert Neville’s mental unhinging as the toll of his guilt and obsession wears down his resolve and humanity. Having lost his family as a result of his actions, he has no emotional anchor. Without fellow human beings, he loses sense of who he is at the core of his being.

It is a stark reminder of our own mortality and existence. It just simply reminds me of how much I need Jesus as my anchor. How much I need the Word to define who I am in Christ. How important are the brothers and sisters around me who sharpen me and allow me to learn.

Mad CG Christmas Dinner

I didn’t realise it’d be my last CG until later, but even so my spirit is not dampened. I love this bunch of people, having seen so many people come and go, but I know the Lord always brings us higher and higher. We’ve grown our roots and foundation in this place, before we leave to bless another. It has been good preparation.

It was a simple time at Villa Marina.. nothing fancy, some of us bringing food that we made.. such as Diana’s shepherd pie and roast chicken, Melissa’s calzonies, Esther’s strawberry jam and my ‘secret recipe’ steak. The rains came and while we could not enjoy dinner by candlelight, I think the huddling into the small hut served its own purpose.

This is how I’ll remember the CG by.. lots of love and laughter, with no pretenses.. the following link has a video shows you a part of it.. it’s a tad long to load, but entirely worth it 🙂

Ireen’s CG’s version of Jay Chou’s ‘Qing Tian’

Christmaaas!

I had a good sleep last night recharging the ol’ batteries after writing the previous post. Went over to Yoshie’s place to spend Christmas day with Yosh, Yukie, ZK, Hanyang, Cindy, Mabel and Yingling and Winnie who came later.

It was good, simple fun as we played Nintendo Wii, kept badgering ZK to play Love Actually instead of A Scanner Darkly (unsuitable content for Yukie) and his Studio Ghibli collection, marvelling at Yoshie’s spider-hamster and making pancakes. Yoshie also showed us an amazing 110 film cube-shaped camera smaller than a box of 35mm film that she’d brought back from Japan.

I later came home and found my mum had been making egg custard tarts:

Fresh from the oven, the crust was crispy and sat warm and happy in my palm. Now forget everything else, every fancy dessert or pastries-of-the-moment, this kind of freshly-baked home-made tarts just trumps all of that. And then some.

Love you, mum.

It’s Christmas

It’s 12.01am on the 25th of December, 2007.

And it is Christmas.

No twinkling lights or glittering trees with tinsel hanging from its branches. No laughter or the tinkling of flute glasses against each other in toast.

Just like in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago, today is a quiet night. I walked to my room’s window, leaned on the sill and stared at the sky. I looked at the full moon, so bright and proud, silent in the distance. There are no stars tonight; clouds fill and drift, slow and languid, through the expanse of the sky beyond me.

I closed my eyes and whispered, “Happy birthday, Jesus.” So there I was, only a boy and all alone in the world, celebrating my own quiet Christmas with Jesus.

I’d been craving for this solitude ever since I returned from Adventure Camp as I’d been whirled into a flurry of activity as soon as I stepped into my home on Friday. I need this; to slow down, stop and go back into my Saviour’s arms. More than I need life, or riches, or glory, I need Jesus. And on Christmas I am reminded again of Love come down as Man to rescue me.

Sleep tugs at my eyelids and I want so much to crawl into bed and sleep until morning, but I am compelled to write this before I do so. My heart is so full from what I received from Adventure Camp that begs to be written down and shared, but today is Christmas, and on Christmas I remember you, Jesus.

You who took every stripe, every blow, every pierce for me. You who suffered the most unimaginable degradation and humiliation and had every shred of dignity torn from you, so that I could restored in every way in fullness and to overflowing abundance. You never let go of me as you raised me from the abyss to sit beside you in glory and honour. How can I go on in this life without You?

There is something magic about Christmas and I love it every time it comes around. I like making cards, even as ugly and unassuming they always turn out. I will write long notes and draw a little something on the inside. That is usually the extent of my art & craft abilities, but it always makes me smile when I think about the person receiving the card and how it might make the other person smile as well.

Someone remarked to me once that making a card, writing long notes and decorating it with drawings ‘reeked of desperation for acceptance’. But I disagree. It has nothing to do with desiring to fit in or to feel that I belong; I do this, ‘without hope or agenda’, simply because I want to. For someone like me who so often feels so inadequate in conveying my heart through my speech, I write, and in a card, you write. Writing for me is akin to putting my heart on paper and saying all that I can or want to, where I feel the most free in expressing the thoughts and intentions that are contained within me.

This year, I rushed home after the CG dinner to finish the cards. I wrote and drew and inked and folded until 5.30 in the morning. As I scribbled on Desmond’s card, lying on my stomach on the floor, I fell asleep, tired beyond imagination. I awoke later at 7 to resume my work in earnest, finishing the rest of the cards. I was only able to leave the house at 9.45am, reaching the Indoor Stadium only to find a queue that was barred from entering the venue. As tempers began to fray from the long wait, I heard the sweet sound of Coach Angie’s voice emerging from within the stadium and filling the air.

I told Him, “Even if I’m standing here and not inside with the rest of the church, I can still worship You right where I am, Abba.” And immediately, a cool breeze blew in from the waters of the bay and I felt His sweet presence rushing in to embrace me. Standing there with a hundred other strangers with a secret smile on the inside of me, I never felt that I was missing out or was being shortchanged.

I was just glad to be there and to be able to give the cards I’d made for my brothers and sisters. (And even if you didn’t receive one from me, it doesn’t mean you mean anything less)

But fret not; I’m not saying all this to glorify myself or the effort I’d put in. I speak from a heart that has been restored and renewed and filled to overflowing by Jesus. I simply act from what He first placed within me as He loved me to wholeness and abundance. I have no expectation of recompense, for that is not the heart of giving.

It all comes back to Jesus, for I speak now from a transformed heart. And through a simple and flawed Christmas card that is not so much different from the many you have already received, what I would wish for you to remember is not this man who writes here; what I wish for you to remember is that you have been a tremendous blessing, whether subtle, unvoiced or still left unsaid, to a man who had once passed through a season of your life.

Thank you for blessing me. Merry Christmas.

Protected: Another Stab at Media Writing

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The Grand Steak Experiment

Got it on Multiply