31 July 2008

Cosplaying Catwoman, Marilyn and Indiana Jones

Just wanted to share a photo of the models in their costumes because I thought it was good cheesy fun.

Up on the roof

Trioon Fashion Shoot 2

Click here for more photos from this shoot.

Yet another improvised set up, this time at Trioon's boutique in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.

This is my first outing using Nikon's Creative Lighting System (which allows for the flash units to be triggered remotely) since I now have 2 flash units. Maybe in future, I can get more to create more dramatic lighting.

Camera Left (SB-900) Set up at hip level and angled it 75 degrees upwards to bounce off the ceiling. Settings: Manual; Power - 1/1; Zoom - 18mm

Camera Right (SB-600) Mounted on a tripod at eye level aimed directly at subject. Settings: Manual; Power - 1/1; Zoom - 14mm (with the built-in wide angle diffuser)

Once again, a big thank you to Weiling (Trioon) and Ruth (Model).

Trioon 170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #B2-13A Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, S588179

Contact Number: 9836 5601 Email: info[at]trioon[dot]com

Opens every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday from 12:00pm - 7:00pm. Please call or email for an appointment on other days.

29 July 2008

Randomly from Beatnik Picnic

I came across this event after catching Money No Enough 2. So I stuck around for since I had my camera to try to get some shots of the party.

More photos at my multiply account.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

It is amazing that a novel written in 1864 remains a contemporary inspiration. When Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) chances upon his brother’s notes-riddled copy of “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, he took his nephew, Sean on an expedition to Iceland in search of answers.

Set in modern day, this adapted cinematic experience references a number of the relationships and plot developments as told in the original novel while quickening the pace of the story with the help of technology and perhaps the tried and tested Hollywood storyline formula that effortlessly distills a one-week read to a 90-minute feature film.

Brendan Fraser once again plays his signature typecast of the goofy adventurer, (much similar to The Mummy series) guaranteeing plenty of laughter from comical moments amidst life threatening predicaments. Josh Hutcherson plays the reluctant nephew who will be best remembered in the show for leveraging on Google and hopping from one floating rock to another that is reminiscent of classic video games. Icelandic native, Anita Briem is credible, though plain, as the tough, rugged and beautiful mountain guide that incidentally doubles as the obligatory love interest and eye candy. The characters weren’t exactly complex and effortlessly likable, likely due to the target audience of children.

Intended as a 3D experience, Journey to the Center of the Earth on the normal screens is nevertheless great family fun and a geeky and thrilling theme park roller coaster ride of an experience. Though the 3D version would most likely be much more immersive as the screenplay is generously peppered with 3D gags allowing for the audience to be spit in the face, hit by a yo-yo and splattered by prehistoric mucus. The same technology would have made the mine cart ride sequence, the voyage through the underground sea of prehistoric creatures and a tyrannosaurus rex chase scene much more fun, exhilarating and visually spectacular.

While fast-paced and ceaselessly entertaining, it is a regrettably short and incomplete homage to the great vision and imagination of Jules Verne which would probably disappoint the discerning fans of this literary classic.

26 July 2008

Money No Enough 2

Ten years after Money No Enough, Jack Neo and his team return to bring us Money No Enough 2, once again casting the spotlight on the common local man’s life while poking fun at our uniquely Singaporean mentality and our government policies. At the same time, the movie hits home on common predicaments of families and addressing our eroding virtues.

Along with computer graphics (abeit tackily done), the movie presented snippets of local life in outrageously hilarious scenarios envisioned by Jack Neo. Then everything is zapped back to reality because Singaporeans are essentially only capable of complaining but yet afraid of challenging the status quo and facing the consequences.

Jack Neo, Henry Thia and Mark Lee are cast as brothers, each with varying income levels, representing the low, middle and high income groups in Singapore and effectively portraying the varied mentalities and attitudes towards money and how each earns his keep. Yet all share a common trait, the belief that money is never enough.

Funny and cringe-worthy at the same time was the numerous and shameless product placements generously peppered throughout the movie. Undoubtedly killing-two-birds-with-one-stone, getting funding from sponsors while taking an intentional stab at local film making where money is indeed not enough.

Also look out for impersonators of a certain amiable health minister and a member of parliament.

Yet Money No Enough 2 focuses as much if not more screen time on family, sending us a strong reminder to check our bearings on the moral compass. As true colors surface in crises, A strong underlying message that money is not everything, that one’s true wealth is having the company of his loved ones. A perfectly contrasting rebuttal to the government’s ceaseless push for economic advancement.

The surprisingly poignant plot brought out what could arguably be the best performances (though methodical) by Henry Thia and Mark Lee to date. Jack’s turn as the rich, vain, calculative, risk-taking second brother, in contrast, felt like a disconnected and gratuitous appearance, intentional or otherwise.

Henry’s role as the gullible and filial pushover of an eldest brother was realistic as he was endearingly comical. As husband and wife, the on-screen chemistry between him and Lin Ru Ping was heartwarming and sincere. Mark’s selfish, irresponsible, hot-tempered and loose-tongued youngest brother’s repentance for his wife’s forgiveness on his past mistakes was moving, even if it is conveniently scripted.

Additionally, Lai Ming’s performance as the Alzheimer’s disease stricken mother to the 3 sons was bittersweet and heart wrenching as her condition deteriorated. Her readiness to shower unconditional love despite her circumstances effortlessly tugged at heartstrings and served as a touching tribute to all mothers.

My only disappointment was perhaps a lack of stronger resolution and calls to action. Optimism was so briefly preached by the most improbable and maybe inappropriate of characters. The message of sufficiency and thanksgiving was almost mistaken as resigning to fate. There are even hints of government’s preachings.

Still, Money No Enough 2 is undoubtedly a must-see for all in this season as we celebrate the nation’s 43rd birthday. It will bring the much needed prescription of laughter and perhaps some tears.

21 July 2008

Cui Yuan Hong Shan Zhong Rojak

There are many variations of rojak available in Singapore, all of which are have the element of mixing its ingredients up. While I can’t say that I have a favourite kind of rojak, I do recommend this grilled variety.


Rojak from Cui Yuan Hong Shan Zhong

Incidentally, people might argue that this isn’t really rojak, but just a plate of stuffed taupok and youtiao. As for me, I’m more transfixed on the food. Who cares about debating if it should have pineapples and turnip before it can be called rojak anyway?

What makes the rojak or taupok youtiao here special is the use of a charcoal grill. Each item you order is toasted to perfection over the old school grill for that doistinctive smoky flavour you can taste in every bite. Everything is quickly cut into bite-sized pieces and generously drizzled with the black rojak sauce and a generous shower of crushed groundnuts.

End result is plate consisting of crispy youtiao that you wish you didn’t need to fight over among friends. Among that, stuffed taupok with that amazing fine, crumbly texture that goes so perfectly with the crunch of beansprouts and cucumber.

Of course, I personally like that the stall is run by an old couple in an old school eating places like Bukit Merah Food Centre.

Below is the address and a picture of the stall for identification.

Blk 163, Bukit Merah Central #02-20 Bukit Merah Central Food Centre Singapore 150163

The stall front

19 July 2008

Smirnoff Black Launch Party

I got an invitation to the Smirnoff Black Launch Party.
The dress code was “Classic Black”.
All I wanted to say is, I was concentrating on the oyster shooters throughout the event.

Anyway, a caucasian lady was sporting enough to let take a comical shot of her gorging on oysters.

Click here for more photos.

Visiting Vietnam - Day 5

We got up early to catch the morning coach back to Dalat. I was a little sad to be leaving this quaint little town. Still I was looking forward to returning to Ho Chi Minh City to catch up on the shopping and sightseeing we might have missed. Got to buy lots of stuff back as evidence, you know!

A last look at Dalat’s morning sky

The 7 hour coach ride was plagued yet again by the ceaseless honking by the driver. It almost seemed like the horn was meant for the passengers inside the coach instead of the other motorists.

In between, a stop over for the passengers to empty our bladders. Almost like those stopovers in Malaysia, they had stalls hawking various foodstuffs. The first one we stopped at sold mainly fruits. I had to take this photo of the local variety of avocados which were so much bigger than the ones we import into Singapore, and lots cheaper.

Vietnamese avocados, not to be mistaken as mangoes

We returned to Ho Chi Minh City at around 12.30pm and checked into Madam Cuc’s. Unfortunately, we were allocated a room up on the fourth floor…

The stairwell

Fortunately, they had a motorized pulley to hoist our luggage up to our floor through the open stairwell.

Having dumped our stuff in the room, we proceeded to lunch. We returned to Bun Bo Hue, like the way a less adventurous traveler with a weak stomach should. Plus, we were captivated by their spring rolls and combination rice cakes.

With our stomachs filled, we returned to Ben Thanh Market for another round of shopping before we linked up with Jingjing’s friends and their friends to have a tour of The Reunification Palace (or The Independence Palace).

Turns out that we were almost too late to get in. Thankfully the people at the counter allowed us to get the last tickets for the day. It was a pretty rushed affair, but we managed to take a good amount of photos for memory’s sake.

A pleasant lady in an Ao Dai stepped forward to ask if we would like a guided tour of the palace. We agreed since it was free and it should spare us the ordeal of getting lost in the premises. The most memorable part of the tour has got to be the guide’s Vietnamese accented English as she rattled off a memorized script at every specialty room we were brought to. We managed to capture about 30% of what she said on the spot and I retained about 1% at this point of time…

So after running around the palace, we ended up in the kitchen, where the guided tour ends. Adjacent to the kitchen was a photo gallery of the historic events that took place at this monumental palace. This was the photo that left the deepest impact.

It was closing time, so we made our way out of the palace and proceeded to a really nice but noisy seafood restaurant with ceaseless live music for our dinner. The place was so loud we literally gave up chatting with each other.

Still the food was pretty good and fresh. As for the atmosphere, well, I guess we weren’t in the right state of mind to enjoy it. But nevertheless a great experience. We then adjourned for ice cream.

Before we split groups, we asked for recommendations to a good massage parlour, and we ended up at Golden Lotus for the masseuse to untie those knots in our aching bodies.

With that, we returned to our hotel and knocked out. Tomorrow, we would fly back home.