Saturday, December 31, 2005

50. Tabula rasa

The unformed mind, before it receives the impressions gained from experience. Untouched by prejudice or any preconceived notions. A direct translation from Latin is 'scraped tablet', and according to the John Locke (the 17th century philospher, not the character from the series Lost), it's the theory that the human mind at birth is a clean slate, and that the individual is free to shape his or her own soul from the sensory experiences they gain as they go through life.

It's the new year, and time for many to start anew with others on a clean slate. Maybe some deserve a second chance. It's the new year after all. Let's just see how this year end goodwill lasts eh.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

49. Happy Thoughts

I really should be writing more due to my long lay-off (which by the way has been extended by another two weeks), but somehow I've gotten myself preoccupied in doing what the common degenerate would do if he or she were faced with the predicament I've found myself in at this most festive of seasons, which is being forcibly stuck at home with extremely limited mobility. I've taken to planting myself in front of the television and errr, staying put for hours on end.

So far, in the two weeks since my injury, I've managed to download and watch two and half seasons of Arrested Development, the two full seasons (including Christmas specials!) for The Office, as well as one and half seasons of it's American version. I also managed the first season of Rome, and watched re-runs of the two seasons of the wickedly hilarious Entourage.

Ahhhh, such bliss...just soaking it in front of what Harlan Ellison infamously dubbed the "Glass Teat". Heck, even as I write this, I've got half and eye on the Merseyside derby (which Liverpool incidentally is leading 3-1 at the moment).

Anyway, out of those series I mentioned, just gotta say that Arrested Development is the funniest show on the telly now, pure genius. Too bad it's just so underrated. The Office is of course the funniest thing that ever was (the US version is not bad, but can't really scale the heights of it's predecessor). And for those of you who haven't heard of Entourage, I recommend you download it.

Right, this is going nowhere. Writing absolute rubbish. Ok, once I snap out of this stupour I've found myself in will try to write something of note. Which won't be anytime soon I may add. Cheers, happy holidays.

Friday, December 16, 2005

48. Kong is King

Rather irritatingly, I've gotten myself immobilised till the end of the year. A ligament injury to my right ankle sustained in futsal. Splendidly too is the fact that I also have a chip fracture on the outer side of the ankle. Apparently, the x-rays show that the bone was chipped on the inner side as well, something that must've occured in one of the numerous injuries I sustained previously. One can just burst out in song.

It's not too bad really. Sure I have to hobble about on a set of crutches two inches too short for me. And I have an uncomfortable cast to deal with for about two weeks, to be followed by few weeks of physiotherapy. All in all, it'd be another 6 weeks before I get to do any semblance of real exercise. Not too bad. Not too bad my bleeding arse.

On the bright side, the injury could've been worse. Like the time I dislocated the other ankle when I was sixteen. Now that was bad. Freaking ankle swelled up to the size of a melon. What came next was worse, oh so much worse. What once was dislocated, had to be relocated. Yes, that's how it works. Ahhh, the sweet sound of cracking bones as they snapped my ankle back to place still fill my ears now and then. The memory just makes me want to cry tears of joy.

Well enough of that self-indulgent history of my troubled ankles. There are more pressing issues that need addressing. And since it's way too late at night (or early in the morning?) to bog myself down in writing anything of note, lemme just take the easy way out by writing a spoiler-filled review of two films that I've been looking forward to most this year; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and King Kong. Be warned.

Rumble in the jungle

Regarding Narnia, I must say that I was disappointed, mainly because I expected greatness. It was pretty faithful to the book but we all know that being faithful doesn't necessarily mean it's good (see the film adaptation of the first in the Harry Potter series). I just felt that there was so much potential to expand on the source material written by C.S. Lewis that the filmmakers just didn't seize. The film may have been about magic, but somehow, there was nothing really magical about it. And was it just me, or was Aslan, supposedly the main heroic character that carries the tale, just a plain bore? I mean, Liam Neeson (in his 169th role as a mentor/father-figure type) played him to be just about the blandest talking lion that ever existed. Jeez, even Simba had more character. Not what the filmmakers had in mind surely.

Of course there were some good bits in the film. Tilda Swinton was deliciously wicked as the White Witch, all icey coolness and beautifully evil. Aslan's sacrifice at the Stone Table was also done well, yet strangely familiar in tone to another film about self-sacrifice by a certain Mel Gibson, kinda like the Passion of the Narnian. And some bits during the final battle between the Pevensie children (the so-called sons of Adam and daughters of Eve) and the good denizens of Narnia against the witch and her horde were quite cool. The kids performances were ok too, nothing approaching Dakota Fanning-like levels, but servicable to the story.

What was severely disappointing however was that the film just didn't rise above overall mediocrity of a humdrum straightforward fantasy tale, even though at times it seemed that it would. And for that, Andrew Adamson's direction has much to blame for playing it too safe. Yes, Narnia's a classic tale with legions of fans, but Peter Jackson was brave enough to take a few risks with another beloved masterpiece, the LOTR trilogy (though some of them didn't pay off) and look how great those films turned out. Narnia is by no means a bad film though, but it's such a pity that rather than not bad, it could've been great.

On a side note, I had no major problem at all with the Christian allegory in Lewis' tale like most non-Christians seem to have. It exists in the books, and it exists in the film. Lewis himself admitted to it, representing Aslan as Christ who existed in another world. In fact, because of this, Lewis' close friend and fellow myth-builder, one J.R.R. Tolkien (a devout Christian himself) loathed the Narnia series as a whole. He despised allegory in all forms, mainly because he hated to see an imagination constrained by the allegorical impulse. It is somewhat ironic that it was Tolkien who successfully converted Lewis to Christianity and that though Lewis was an avid sponsor of Tolkien's mythology, the same could not be said of Tolkien's opinion of Lewis' own fantasy work. The allegory is there for everyone to see if they want too, and I did find it slightly distracting because it detracts from the more fantastical elements of the story.

Now to Kong. Loved it. Absolutely brilliant. Peter Jackson's the man. Fucking hell yeah. Apart from the slow first hour, with an unusual build-up of non-key supporting characters who are discarded later in the tale, the film is excellent, by far the best film I've seen so far this year. We all know how the story goes and how it ends, but it's to Peter Jackson's credit that it feels like something we've never ever seen before. Mind-blowing. Don't take my word for it, go and see it yourself. For once, a film that lives up to it's hype. Just begs the question eh, how good Narnia would've been if only Peter Jackson was the director?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

47. Get With It

Some people you just can't reach...