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[sticky post] Books and Movies: 2013

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Movies
1. Mission Impossible III
2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
3. Zero Dark Thirty
4. Serendipity
5. Les Miserables
6. Stand Up Guys
7. Lincoln
8. Silver Linings Playbook
9. Step Up Revolution
10. Searching for Sugar Man
11. Braveheart
12. Wreck-It Ralph
13. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
14. Django Unchained
15. Pretty Woman
16. Limitless

Books
1. Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife : Eben Alexander
2. Damaged : Cathy Glass
3. No Easy Day : Mark Owen

FRIENDS ONLY

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Have decided to do this forreal this time. It's for security purposes, seeing that I tend to write a lot about hospital/medical lulz. Don't want the NHS bosses to be cracking down on an insignificant resident.

Most of the real-life entries (eg. parties, RL friends, work) will be locked, and the fandom entries will be unlocked. Please bear in mind that 90-95% of this LJ will be RL-related because I want a safe space for me to vent and rant about various politically incorrect issues in Real Life, but hey, if you still want to add me, please comment! Let me know who you are! As long as you don't work with me IRL, you're likely to be added.

Psst! The guy in that really hot semi-naked photo is Han Dong (韩栋), an up-coming Mainland China actor with brilliant acting skills and good-looks to boot. I won't be responsible for any nosebleeds since he enjoys stripping his top-half off in nearly every single drama he has starred in.

For those who wondering where Grammy!Mike went, let's say that I've placed him in a really safe and secure place in my heart, and he will forever be cherished as my brainchild and my baby. Nobody has been as epic as him, fact.

Fifty Shades of Grey

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After all the hype about E. L. James' Fifty Shades Trilogy, I thought I'll give it a go since I'm always up for a good book. Some book reviews call it 'mummy porn', some book reviews raved about how it is a liberating piece of erotic literature for feminists. The only time that I could remember such furor over a novel is Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code', rightly or wrongly so.

On a bright sunny afternoon, I sat down in a classy bar after lunch, and started reading the book on my iPad.

So, how did Fifty Shades fare?

The whole book is very moody, and it is written in first person, making the reading experience a lot more intimate.

What about the plot? Too predictable, I say. You get the mysterious powerful young man who falls for an innocent girl with a rebellious streak, and the innocent girl who is attracted to a handsome young man with a lot of money and hidden secrets. The whole story revolves around the girl trying to get the tortured young man to open up, and the young man trying to project his fantasies onto the girl. Oh, the drama.

Of course, the attraction in the entire trilogy is Christian Grey. You just keep wondering why he's so tortured, why he's so moody, what his motivations are, etc. He knows exactly what he wants, and he even prepares a contract for Ana Steele to sign before their 'relationship' progresses. Yet, he shows sensitivity and attention to detail. So does he really love Ana or not? That's the million dollar question that keeps readers enthralled.

The key to the popularity of the trilogy isn't because women identify with Ana Steele. It's because they want a man like Christian Grey.

The whole love-hate angle is a recurring theme in many romance novels, and many women (particularly STRONG WOMEN) fantasise about having a man who is dominant enough to tell them what to do i.e. having an alpha male in their lives. These women are used to go around telling what their male colleagues should do in the workplace, and similarly, many of these women wears the pants at home. Their husbands are relegated to being house-husbands simply because these women earn more than their husbands. It would make sense for them to be the breadwinner for the family whilst the men stay at home to take care of the kids and do the housework.

Now comes Fifty Shades. For a book which glorifies male domination and female submission, its popularity with womenfolk is paradoxical. Its appeal amongst young and well-educated women lies in the role reversal of their actual lives -- the secret wish to be dominated by a man who is not afraid to let a woman know what he wants. In each woman's heart lies a secret wish to be swept off their feet by a man who could kiss so passionately that their toes curl with anticipation. Instead of the highly-educated and financially independent woman saying 'I want this, I want that', we get a role reversal here.

Strong women do not want doormats. They want strong men in their lives.

At least I do, and Fifty Shades has hit the nail on the head.

However, if you really want to read a well-written trilogy with strong feminist themes, I would strongly recommend Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Now that's what I call a GOOD book.

Small print:

Execution-wise, the writing is bad. If I read another sentence with containing 'long slender index finger', I've going to hurl my iPad against the wall. Except for the fact that I can't seem to put the book down. It's like a train wreck -- it's so shockingly bad yet tantalising at the same time, so much so that I can't seem to scroll away from the book on my electronic device.

Astonishingly, this published novel reads like your typical run-of-the-mill fanfiction, and perhaps not so surprisingly, I found out that Fifty Shades is an incarnation of a popular Twilight fanfiction which was published on Fanfiction.net called 'Master of the Universe' (cue for He-Man jokes, menfolk). I have never been a Twilight fan myself although I'll admit here that I've been a huge Harry Potter fan during my late teens/early twenties. The Bella-Edward romance has never captivated me, and I do not see Christian as Edward and Ana as Bella because they seem to be very different characters. And yes, I have been read some really good fanfiction as well. On the scale of brilliant fanfiction which I've read, this piece of work is only above-average at best. I have certainly read better!

The trick is to delete the association between Twilight and Fifty Shades, and it makes everything more palatable! I imagine Ryan Gosling as Christian Grey and a younger Natalie Portman as Ana Steele. How's that?

Riots in Birmingham

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Dear friends,

Please pray for my city -- Birmingham, United Kingdom.

There has been senseless riots over the past 24 hours, and many shops have been looted, cars set on fire and people being assaulted. Tonight is going to be a long night.

Please pray for our safety.

Chinese Dramas

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Just recently, I've rediscovered my old passion for Chinese language television dramas. I grew up reading Jin Yong wuxia novels (金庸武侠小说)and watching various television adaptations of those books. My parents were big fans of those television dramas, and we used to rent the dramas from a video rental shop because Chinese costume dramas used to be banned on Malaysian terrestrial channels back in the early 90's.

I also remember disliking some bits of the television adaptation, and I was eager to find out for myself what the actual story was like. After all, they say that television adaptations can only translate 50% of the book's brilliance to the big small screen. At that time, my mum used to employ a Taiwanese teacher to teach me Chinese language -- two hours per week for 5 years. Even then, my command of Chinese language is simply too poor because I speak, read and write English as my first language (although not as my mother tongue -- Chinese, and I never really liked using Malay language anyway). My curiosity got the better of me, and I embarked on a project which would last 2-3 years -- I read ALL of Jin Yong's novels in Chinese (I think there were twelve novels in total?), and I used a dictionary to help me.

Oh, trust me, after reading twelve huge novels (split into several volumes each), my command of Mandarin improved tremendously, to the point where it was as good as a student who went to a formal Chinese language school for 10 years. However, after leaving my home country about a decade ago, I haven't touched Chinese language media because there was nobody to fangirl them with me, and I went to medical school, which took up a huge chunk of my time. Occasionally, I would watch a few Chinese dramas over the years, such as Legend of the Condor Heroes '08 (射鵰英雄传;胡歌版)and Legend of the Young Yang Warriors (少年杨家将;袁弘版), but I never really followed the Chinese entertainment industry.

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So, during those stressful two months when I was preparing for my last professional exam, I ran out of television dramas to watch. American dramas are too slow -- only one episode per week. I needed more to relieve the amount of stress that I was facing, and I decided to finish off the Cantonese drama which I never got around finishing, A Step into the Past (寻秦记).

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Then, I chanced upon, Palace (宫锁心玉) which provided mindless entertainment although I didn't like the second half of the series, other than the blatant plagiarism which was going on in there.

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Subsequently, I watched...

(1) Schemes of the Beauty (美人心计)
(2) Beyond the Realm of Conscience (宫心计)-- Unfinished
(3) Princess Pearl I (还珠格格I)
(4) Princess Pearl II (还珠格格II) -- In progress
(5) Strange Hero (怪侠一枝梅)

So, what am I anticipating this year?

(1) 步步惊心 -- no English title yet, but the novel is AMAZING. My favourite actor, Han Dong, stars in it too!
(1) Princess Pearl '10 (remake) (新还珠格格) -- I don't know how the remake is gonna be since the original adaptation was already epic in its own right, but hey, I'm still anticipating it!!

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I'm sure there will be more fangirling posts in the near future.
grammy mike
Once upon a time, there was a very lonely girl living on an island. Is this another boring story about how a boring girl who lives a boring life? Fear not, dear readers, for this author would not write anything which is boring to read. In fact, yours truly is very sure this short story would circulate far and beyond.

Back to this girl. Let's call her, Jasmine, after my favourite brand of tea. Maybe I shouldn't have named her Jasmine. What an insult to this beautiful scent.

Jasmine was young. Still in her teens.

She was so misunderstood, or so she thought, and she would write continuously about how people misinterpreted and misjudged her. She had problems controlling her temper, and she had problems making friends because one by one, her friends deserted her. To her, the Internet was the best invention ever. You see, the Internet is a very strange world. While some people like this author finds it an outlet for her to embrace her Mean Girls side, people like Jasmine turn to the Internet to fulfil all her needs in her deary life. Hours after hours, days after days, she would sit in front of her computer, trying to make friends and be popular.

Let's start off with facts. First and forth most, Jasmine idolised and worshipped a very popular, but deceased pop star. It started off with a few innocent forays into Internet message boards. There, on the message boards, she flourished. Jasmine had a real talent for drawing and writing -- there was no denying it, and slowly, she started to taste popularity. You see, popularity is addictive, and popularity inflated her ego beyond measurable means. However, Jasmine made a fatal mistake -- she failed to differentiate between REAL popularity and VIRTUAL popularity.

On one of the message boards, she started talking to a man who was nearly three times her age. This man, so she said, haboured so many similarities to her pop star idol. He had long hair, like her idol. He was soft-spoken, like her idol. He had three kids and was divorced, like her idol. He lived in California, like her idol. He was a sex god, like her idol. As she was stuck on an island, she had to rely very much on instant messaging and phone calls. She was so in love with this man that she even modelled her characters from in Role-Playing Game after this man. In Jasmine's own words, 'I modelled my character after him... The way he speaks, the way he acts, the way he fucks...'

Now, enter Susie, who was playing in this Role-Playing Game (RPG) too. Susie and Jasmine met accidentally. Jsamine was about to use her character to write a smutty scene when Susie wrote Jasmine a warning e-mail message. From then, Jasmine and Susie became 'internet friends'. Over the next few weeks, they made a great team on the game. However, Susie was getting very uncomfortable with Jasmine blowing up and throwing tantrums over the slightest things on the RPG. Typical tantrum: Why are you guys talking behind my back?

Reeks of insecurity, this author thinks.

The worst bit? Jasmine confided in Susie that her virtual boyfriend was 50-years old, and he was a popstar wannabe who acted EXACTLY like Jasmine's idol. Susie just felt nauseated, but she could only tell a few other people about her true feelings and concerns. How far could you stretch a fantasy? Would you fuck an online stranger just because he sounded/acted/looked like your idol? More worryingly, why is a 50-year old man dating a 18/19-year old on the Internet?

Reeks of insanity, this author thinks. Somebody was a pervert.

First incident involved Susie and Jasmine's characters playing out a scene on the game. As the game proceeded, the reaction from readers following the game live was at best, cold. In fact, cold was an understatement. It was downright awful. Jasmine could not accept such a hit to her ego. So, she took it out on Susie and the game. She departed the post in a huff and left Susie hanging in mid-air. Susie was not impressed, and later, Jasmine told Susie that the follower fans on one of the social networking websites starting with 'T' were 'bitches'. Susie told her that she was overreacting, but Jasmine blew up again and hurled a torrent of abuse at Susie. Susie, in her wisdom, ignored her. Why get upset over an Internet tiff? Just power down your laptop and it was all gone.

At that point, Susie already saw the warning signs.

As the months went on, the tantrums got more frequent. Jasmine's effort to put Susie down got more frequent, to the point where she was posting comments on various communities about how her character was so much more popular than Susie's. However, at the same time, Jasmine was trying very hard to impress Susie with her writing skills, and she went out of her way to keep Susie on her side -- drawing 'fan art' of Susie's characters, etc.

However, at one point, Jasmine came onto the social networking website in a strop and started hurling abuse because she was 'tired'. Susie, in her kindness, asked Jasmine to get more rest and thing would look better after some sleep. To Susie's surprise, Jasmine started sending very rude and unwarranted messages to Susie for 'being a bitch' and 'patronising' her. Susie lost her cool (and Susie NEVER loses her cool unless it comes to very extreme circumstances because she prefers to WALK AWAY) and called Jasmine out in general public. The next day, Jasmine realised that she looked very bad in front of all of her Internet friends, but she didn't have the choice but to apologise to Susie in public. However, her pride would not allow it. Instead, she sent Susie a direct message to apologise, and Susie accepted the apology.

Still, Susie could not get rid of the warning bells in her head.

As predicted by Susie, Jasmine continued throwing tantrums and taking her friends for granted. People say that popularity almost certainly brings out the worst in human beings, and this was the case for Jasmine. When her character started getting popular on that social networking site, she felt invincible. She lapped up the praises from those girls who she called 'bitches' like a puppy. To her, nobody mattered to her. She was free to hurt as many feelings as she could. She was free to stomp on her friends to elevate her ego. She was free to drag in other people to fight her corner during internal conflicts. In fact, she even attempted to start a fight amongst the mods within the RPG so that she could get a place on the modding team by telling different moderators different versions of her story.

At this point, Susie was already a mod based on meritocracy, and she knew that Jasmine was angling for a mod title. Susie ignored Jasmine's blatant attempts to weasel a place on the mod team, but there was a big turn of events (story for another day) that saw Susie walk away from the game. After all, it wasn't worth her time or energy any longer, and she nominated Jasmine to take over her place. If Jasmine wanted the mod position so much, why not give it to her and see how she fared?

Of course, from Susie's point of view, there were other parties involved, but there was going to be a story for another day. Again, Susie had chosen to walk away, and it was no doubt the best decision of her foray into the cyberworld. After all, aren't there too many things in Real Life to be concerned about over an Internet falling out?

On the day that Susie walked out on the mod team and Jasmine was promoted to mod, Susie made a bet with her friend, Jane. Susie bet that Jasmine would get kicked out of the mod team within a few months. So, did Susie's prediction come true?

After Susie walked out, she still kept in touch with a few friends from the game, and she was still kept in the loop, although some might have outright denied any contact with Susie for the fear of the game mods. Now and again, she would receive private messages about the on-goings of the game. Most did not interest her, but TWO incidents interested her greatly.

The first incident was how Jasmine found out that the 50-year-old man who she told Susie that she had sex with was actually a WOMAN trying channel Jasmine's favourite popstar. So, this begged the question: how did they have sex? Ah, my dear readers, it required imagination, LITERALLY. It seemed that Jasmine was not being entirely truthful to Susie when she spoke of her sexual exploits. It turned out that it was PHONE SEX that Jasmine had indulged in. Dirty chat. Cyber.

No wonder her cyber scenes on the game were realistic. As it turned out, she really did indulge in cybersex, and this author could not figure out why cybersex could be so satisfying to people like Jasmine, Keira and Ruby (ooh, the latter two were also fictional characters, alright?). Also? Under some prompting from parties who wanted to watch free entertainment, Jasmine stupidly trolled a few message boards and ended up getting banned from them for writing harassing posts about other members.

Bitch, if you wanna troll, troll from a sock. Learn from the master.

Now, the second incident was a total repetition of what Susie had endured in the beginning months of the year. Jasmine made some very insensitive and hurtful comments in public against a few individuals repeatedly, but when the tide turned against her, she quickly backtracked and attempted to apologise to a few people in private. Instead, with a goading from a couple of people, she quickly lost her temper and shouted nonsense at her 'friends'. Ooh, this author wondered how sincere her initial apology was.

Luck had finally ran out for Jasmine, and it was the straw that broke the camel's back. Unable to take the heat, she deleted her private journal account, and she deleted her social networking account too. What would she do during her free time now? She had lost her Internet boyfriend, although this author argues that you couldn't have lost what you didn't have in the first place. She had lost all of her Internet friends. She had lost her Internet popularity.

This authors wonders, how long-lasting is Internet popularity? You could be the most popular person right this moment, but you could be shunned from your 'friends' the next moment. Most importantly, how much should you let the Internet take over your life? If you speak to your Internet friends more than to Real Life people, this authors thinks that you should get a grip and re-evaluate the priorities in your life. The Internet is never the solution to loneliness and attention-seeking. Besides, what's the fun in getting adoration from the Internet? This author prefers REAL LIFE popularity and satisfaction.

The conclusion: The Internet is faceless. Do not put your trust in something which you could not see its brain, apologies to J.K. Rowling.



Author's notes: Hee! How do you like it? It's fictional, readers, but hey, if you wanna take it as the truth, be my guest. I just wanna write something about how depraved and unstable human minds can be. Psychological thriller, yo? Wanna see a sequel? PMs welcomed!

ETA: Yo, screened comments are coming in! I better disable comments. lol. ♥

Movie Review: Inception

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Alright. I seldom write movie reviews, but I'm gonna make an exception for Inception.

I've heard so many rave reviews about Inception, and I have been advised to watch the movie ALONE because you really need to concentrate to catch all the mind-fuckery going on. Honestly? I seldom get mindfucked. Didn't get mindfucked while watching movies like The Matrix or Minority Report. With Inception, I'll have you know that I was mindfucked by the ending.

Inception is possibly one of Christopher Nolan's best movies (IMHO, topping The Dark Knight) simply because it combines my favourite movie genre -- heist drama (in the vein of The Italian Job and Ocean's Eleven) with a psychology twist to it. Gotta love all the pseudo-science going on in the script, especially with the concept of different levels of 'dreams'.

Leonardo DiCaprio, as usual, picked a really good script. I loved him in Catch Me If You Can and The Departed, and he does play the part of a con man very well. Ellen Page was flawless, and I love the whole con team. Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- OMG, how did he turn from that geeky kid in 3rd Rock From the Sun into that smouldering side-kick?

Spoilers and Discussion AheadCollapse )