Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Umbrella: The Social Experiment

So it's been raining a lot the past few days and I have had this idea for a while now so I'm going to write it down here.

Have you been out and about when it starts to rain heavily, you know, the kind of category 1 storm that grounds planes and makes it easier for cars to inconsiderately splash you as they drive past? And have you gotten even more disgruntled when you search your bag and realize that, for the love of god, you've forgotten your umbrella again, and now you have to stay there stuck until the rain actually gets light enough to use your bag or until it actually stops before you can trudge out into the puddles?

So what I thought was, let's have a social experiment. Let's put a stash of umbrellas at major public places like MRT stations and shopping malls, that people can use if they forget their umbrellas. The only thing is that it's not for them to keep; at the next possible opportunity, they should put it back at the nearest Umbrella-Share station (what the stash of umbrellas is called). So it's like a public service, which is completely free, with initial investment but depends on the social conscience of the people who use it. We'll see how long it is before all the umbrellas are gone in sticky-fingers Singapore.

Actually, I've already thought about sharing umbrellas with complete strangers. It just seems to be such a nice thing to do, especially for people who are already halfway across the street with a newspaper over their head. The catch is that people obviously thing it's a violation of their personal space, no matter how dry they've become, and they'd rather stay wet and catch colds that stand within two feet of a guy with an umbrella. Yet I've done it once, albiet for a schoolmate. It was exam time and I figured it would be criminal to let him stand in the rain while waiting for the traffic light to cross to school, before freezing in the stupidly subzero exam hall. I've never talked to him before, and he never talked to me again. But, it's a start, I guess.

Under my umbrella, ella, ella, ey.
The Edna Man

Monday, March 29, 2010

How to Tame your Dragon

...if you know what I mean.

But seriously, it was a nice movie. I have to agree with the reviews that the art in this movie is also very spectacular, more than Dreamworks' usual, in fact. If they're aiming for Pixar's artistic quality, that's a step in the right direction for them.

I don't really have many witty things to say about this movie. I mean, they're the most Scottish vikings I've ever seen (Craig Ferguson voiced one of them, apparently), and Toothless looked a hell lot like Stitich, and Boey and Darrell said that Astrid is a tsundere, but that's about it. Oh and a dragon that huge should be physically impossible to fly. Just saying.

But you just gestured to all of me,
The Edna Man

Saturday, March 27, 2010


So I've talked a lot about being different from the vast majority of the normal people of society. It's one of those issues that is constantly on my mind, because I am constantly being reminded of it. Take today for instance.

I got this small job doing voice acting for some Health Promotion Board podcast thing, so I went down to this home recording studio in the realm of Yio Chu Kang. It was an interesting experience, doing voice-acting (for the first time!) and I wouldn't mind doing it again. I had to play this adopted son who was dragged to the beach by his adopted parents to reveal to him that he was adopted. Quite fun, so I had to act stunned and hesitant and completely "WTF" most of the time.

The people there are very... interesting. As in, if I had to describe them, they would be what Ally would be in about twenty years' time, but with like ten times more sophistication. They're really open and don't mind sharing stories and everything, even of the misdemeanours and evasions they did in army, of their repressed sexual fantasies and their overseas escapades. Perhaps that's quite new for someone like me, who is used to dealing with guarded and conservative Singaporeans. I'm going to hazard a guess and say that they were educated overseas, probably in the US because of their personality and command of the English language, and also the references to western pop culture about three decades old. It's a whole different type of body language. They don't even ask the normal questions that I've come to expect from adults. Anyway I think I'm making $200 from an hour's work. Not bad, huh?

So I was going home after the thing, and I was walking with the lady who was there to play the adoptive mother of my character. The sound guy/composer (who is quite a cool guy) brought us out to the main road and gave us directions. When we walked to the bus stop, I pulled out my street directory (I had to get there somehow, didn't I?) and told her that I think I'd walk to the MRT station since my card was out of money. I noticed that she stared at my street directory for a full two seconds before snapping out it. It was as if she had never seen a street directory before, or at least never seen a person carrying around a street directory before. I got the feeling that she was quite happy to get shot of me as I walked off. Oh well. At least I probably gave her an interesting story she would be quite happy to share with all of her friends.

I think that the people in this society is too focused on tiny details. I don't mean that tiny details are bad all the time; I keep telling the girls at OM to remember small tiny details in body language and movement when they're doing acting and performing. But as in the small tiny details in life, like if the colour of your shirt matches your pants, or if you need to walk a few bus stops to the MRT station, or if you... eh I can't think of any more on the fly right now. But my parents do it a lot, especially my mom.

Perhaps I've been influenced by Hermen Hesse's Siddhartha. I know it's cheesy to be influenced by a literature book about religion, of all things, but I now believe that I need to experience things instead of just reading or watching about them. That's why I've started walking from places normal people deem too far to walk to (or from). I'll never know if I can do it until I do it, right? That said, I don't have the courage to do a lot of things yet. A lot of things involving people, especially complete strangers, that's still quite a bit out of my reach. I guess it's the paranoia that my parents inculcated in me.

The Edna Man

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shiny New Computer

So here I am, typing at my brand new computer. It's sleek and shiny and missing all the stuff I had from my old one. Ah well. At least I can play games on it now! Not that I couldn't before; I mean I can play more games on it now. I finally cracked open two-year-old birthday presents (to offset this year's lack of them) and I find Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars to be quite difficult, seeing as I haven't played any RTS in a long long time, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance to be a spiritual successor with few of the good qualities of X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse. But I have to say: Spider-Woman is HOT DAMN.

Windows 7 is really weird, but I guess I'll get used to it. I'm not used to the fact that there isn't a Quick Launch toolbar anymore, and it's really awkward to have to keep shuffling your windows around on the toolbar. The monitor's also 16:9, so it's great if I had movies to watch, but I don't, so I'll have to get used to my head swivelling a lot. Then there's also the thing about the apostrophes, which I think is being used as a hotkey for something, because whenever I press it, it signals the keyboard to come up with funky characters like é and ç and I don't know how to turn it off yet. So I can't type the word 'ços' because it comes out like that. Sigh.

On the plus side though, it's now super-fast and super sleek and super shiny, so it's distracting me from all these other unpleasantries. Ah well.

The Edna Man

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

5 Centimetres per Second

Today I watched 5 Centimetres per Second, my first anime feature film/movie. It’s also the first non-happy anime I’ve watched in my currently very insignificant repertoire of Japanese animation. I guess I didn’t feel as sad as I expected to, maybe because Jonas kept making guesses at what was going to the characters, but I think that was better, because I’m quite sure I would have cried if I watched it myself.

There is a story about this particular anime. I think back in 2008 Jonny sent me the link to the ending theme song, and said that it was one of the saddest things he had ever seen. So I watched it, and I found I had to agree with him. (I’m sorry I’m a hopeless romantic.)

So two years later, I’ve started watching anime, and Boey is trying to introduce me to anime that he likes. He says that he doesn’t like sad anime, and at that point I remember that ending theme that Jonny sent me so long ago. I sent the link to him, and said that it’s from a freaking sad anime that Jonny watched. By sheer coincidence, Boey was watching THAT EXACT SAME SHOW AT THAT EXACT POINT IN TIME. Apparently Zhang had told him that it wasn’t a sad anime, so Boey decided to watch it. Of course, after that, a hilarious conversation ensued with both me and Boey discussing whether to watch it or not because of the emo factor and if his parents were home and would he cry and stuff. MEMORY OF THE NIGHT: He asked me if it was sad because the guy/girl died (he had been watching too much Clannad) and I said no, it was worse than that. Then he said, “OMG IT’S A FATE WORSE THAT DEATH I’M NOT WATCHING IT”. That made me crack up.

So anyway. I had read the plot summary on Wikipedia before watching the show. Even though I knew what was going to happen, it’s nothing like watching it unfold in front of your eyes. I guess this is the one type of story that you can’t spoiler, because the plot isn’t a mystery, but it’s more of the emotional rollercoaster ride which it pulls you through. It was really sad.

5 Centimetres per Second is a collection of “three short stories about distance”, as the subtitle says. It tells the story about a boy and a girl, who grew so close together when they were young, but due to circumstances, had to move apart. Of course, they had to fall in love, which made it worse. Another girl fell in love with the guy, but of course didn’t have to courage to tell him, because she realized he was always looking into the distance for something else, and she felt that she could never give him what he wanted. So in the end the first girl got married and the guy was still searching for her in his heart. Apparently 5cm/s is the speed at which cherry blossoms fall.

In a way, this anime is the most realistic one I’ve seen so far (not that I have much to compare it with). It deals with life, a very real and tangible problem in our life today. It’s painful and depressing at the end, and I found myself wanting the circumstances to work out, even though I knew the story was going to end otherwise. I think the saddest scene comes at the end, where the guy thinks he spots his original love at a train crossing, but when he turns around to look, A FREAKING TRAIN PASSES BY and when that train has almost finished passing, ANOTHER FREAKING TRAIN PASSES BY IN THE OTHER DIRECTION and by the time both trains are done blocking his view, the girl has disappeared. DAMMIT LIFE HAVE YOU NO COMPASSION AT ALL?

The story aside, the other awesome thing about this anime was the exceptional artistic quality of the execution. The background art was amazing, highly realistic, and with such detail it was astounding. No surprises that it won some award for best art or something. But it’s not just that, the sound as well; the trains had a Doppler effect as they passed by, which I thought was very impressive.

All in all, it was a fantastic, depressing experience, and I advise all of you to go watch it.

Drifting through life at five centimetres per second,
The Edna Man

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Like I said, I’ve started watching anime recently. I have to say, it’s a whole new style of storytelling. All this time I’ve been more exposed to western-type stories; but it’s not just the stories that are different. The characters, themes, and especially how love is portrayed, is completely different. Quite interesting, comparing the two.

I can only claim to have watched three series so far (only season one of The Melanchly of Haruhi Suzumiya but both Gatekeepers and Gatekeepers 21 so I guess that evens it out?), but they all have some similarities. Oh and 5 centimetres per second too but that’s not a series. Not really. I’m just wondering why all these people seem to be falling in love at like, sixteen (Akikan) or eighteen (Gatekeepers) or twenty (Love Hina). I mean, I’m already nineteen; AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE? Sigh. Never mind. Maybe I need to go search up all those childhood sweethearts that I had. Oh wait. All-boy school. Sigh. NEVER MIND.

You know how you can learn so many different things from each story? Well the lesson I’ve learnt from anime is a very fundamental one:


So I realized that the characters in anime will never act that way in real life, and then I guess I realized that people in stories – western or otherwise – will never act that way in real life. Or in another way of saying it, nobody in real life will act as “dramatically” as in a story.

Complementing this great epiphany is the week-long intensive OM session I had. So with all the acting and dramatization and creativity and stuff, I started wondering about this phenomenon. I guess going to all the university talks and being vaguely interested in courses in psychology doesn’t help. Perhaps I should call this meta-psychology, or maybe meta-social skills. So why don’t people act like characters in a story?

I understand that characters in a story have to act more dramatically, with the situations more contrived and coincidental. Actions (in movies and performances) have to be larger-than-life, which is strange, because isn’t art supposed to emulate life? We spin tales based on real-life experiences or observations; why don’t people act in that same way? Maybe it’s because imagination comes into play, and the observations have to be exaggerated to make it more prominent or believable. Or maybe we’re just not that good at observing human actions? But that can’t be true since the overly-dramatized kinds of actions are really obvious: shrugging means uncertainty or is a sign of passiveness; holding your hands behind your back and shuffling one foot while standing on the other means shyness or nervousness; and so on.

So why don’t people act like characters in a story? I think anime is the most exaggerated of the lot. Granted, I’ve not had a lot of experience or chances to observe girls who have a crush on a guy and are afraid of confessing (which always seems to be a major plot device of romantic anime for some reason), but I’m sure that they wouldn’t be that nervous with all those actions and body language (one fist under the chin, one on the hem of your skirt, with the obvious blush and downcast eyes).

It’s especially the “corny” feelings that seem to be attributed to being overly-dramatic or flamboyant or awkward. If you notice, our society is not conditioned to telling the truth; the people in anime seem to be able to say serious things or comforting things or emotional things at the drop of a hat. But in real life, in this society, I know a couple of people who have to hide their compliments behind insults or snide comments; or even feeling corny when giving words of comfort or telling something you truly feel. It’s so strange.

Of course, all this may just be because a) I naturally just don’t see all these things happing in real life, or b) I don’t have enough experience reading people’s emotions and body language to identify all these things in real life, or c) I’m looking at reality and trying to see fantasy but failing. So yeah.

I see stories,
The Edna Man

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


So somehow my last selection of books from the library all happened to be about codes. It was quite interesting in a way; three different genres but all about a similar thing.

Kaimira: The Sky Village is my favourite of the three. It's a fascinating story about two different children on opposite sides of the world in another post-apocalyptic setting. But the story is actually very interesting. I love the whole idea of the beast/human/mek trinity and how humanity is somehow in the middle between the two other extremes, but it's not just the 'golden mean' but possibly a third aspect as well, so it's more like a triangle. And I'm freaking interested in the story now but it's book one of five and the other four haven't been published yet which is really really irritating since now I have to wait for it to come out. Sigh.

The Riddles of Epsilon was quite interesting. It's more supernatural fantasy, but the whole story is based on the codes and riddles which this girl finds in the stone cottage behind her house, which contains the solution to stop these freaky cultists from finishing some ritual about some cursed artifact. I found the riddles quite cryptic and fascinating, and the whole story was done really well, and it had a chronological quandary which can rival any comic book storyline I've ever read.

Finally the Jonah Wish trilogy: Thieves Like Us, The Aztec Code, and The Bloodline Cipher. Code-breaking action in a more modern setting, it's a story about a group of five youths who work for Nathaniel Coldhardt (what a name) as an elite team of thieves who specialize in stealing historical artifacts which are steeped in lore and superstition. It was a very well-executed series, and very thrilling, especially with good action sequences and a very intriguing plot.

I'll see what strange coincidental theme my next trip nets me.
The Edna Man

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Today I listened to music until around 2am on my aunt's laptop. I woke up at ten. I played a bit of DotA. I went for lunch at Island Creamery's Burger Shack. I met Bryan and Juzzie at Serene Centre. I got a free scoop of ice-cream at Island Creamery. We bummed around the comics shop for a bit. Juzzie and I waited for the rain to stop so we could get home. I played a bit of Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance on my aunt's laptop. My family brought me out to dinner at this ramen place. After dinner I followed them as they walked around the riverside. When I got home, I ate some cake and came up with a few OM problems. Then I went to sleep.

Well. I guess they can't all be special.
The Edna Man

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Genius of Tim Minchin

Hi. Today we're here to talk about the genius of Tim Minchin. Warning, most of the content of this post is NSFW.

I'm going to call Tim Minchin a mixture of Jason Mraz and Weird Al Yankovic. He does novelty songs, but he's such a manipulator of the English language it's mind-boggling. And it's not just that, but his piano is some unidentifiable rock-and-roll/jazz-blues mix which sounds really awesome. It's satire, nice music and wordplay. What else could you want?

5. Some People Have It Worse Than I

Nice satire here, and a nice melody. His ending riff is quite exciting. And just listen to the content.

4. Rock and Roll Nerd

Starts with a ballad, and it shifts to a rap-rock hybrid thing. It's hilarious. Listen to the words, they are awesome.

3. Inflatable You

Another hilarious song, its rhymes are brilliant. VERY NSFW. I love the way he rhymes in this one.

2. So F**king Rock

Not much words in this one, but awesome music. I have always been a fan of the way you can start with one instrument then build up individual kinda-loops of each instrument and put them all together in an awesome melody. He says the f-word more than an army sergeant, so use headphones or turn down volume, but only into the middle of the song. His lip-syncing and actions are also really well done.

1. Prejudice

This one is (obviously) my favourite. Misdirection is not only used by magicians and con-artists, but man when comedians use it, it is freaking hilarious. And the wordplay: MAN. Channeling Mraz's spirit, or something. I mean, it's not only the rappers who can do it, right? Epic brilliant.

Because only a ginger can call another ginger 'ginger',
The Edna Man

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Family Antimatters

I love my family. I love my parents.

So today I get a call from this modeling studio who scouted me last month and said they would like me to come down for an interview on Monday. Well, obviously I had no idea I looked this good, and I am actually quite excited about going for an interview and seeing what the modeling career is all about.

I tell my mom. And she immediately freaks out and switches to her high-pitched "what-the-hell-did-you-just-say?" voice. She freaked out because I told her the interview was at five and she doesn't understand why they "have to interview me at night". She freaked out because "This isn't for some audition or anything, right?" when I told her it was in interview. And she freaked out and asked me to bring a friend along because she asserted that these places are dubious.

I tell my dad. His first words: "Don't waste your time, lah."

I love having open-minded, supportive parents.

I'm sure if you had them, you'd love them too!
The Edna Man