So you know what really bugs me? The number of people I've encountered who, upon hearing that I loathed Attack of the Clones, declare in disbelief, "It wasn't that bad. I mean, it was okay."
Note: most of these people are not diehard Star Wars fans.

It boggles the mind, truly. Has the average moviegoer become so numbed by the mediocre pabulum churned out by Hollywood every week that they can't even tell when a show well and truly sucked, even by ordinary standards?

[Obligatory disclaimer: Loads of spoilers ahead, if you haven't seen this shitty film, which you really shouldn't if you haven't, so read on anyway.]

I'm not upset that AotC didn't live up to the expectations of the original trilogy; after The Phantom Menace, I wasn't expecting much. I'm upset that AotC isn't even a halfway decent film. I mean, it's one thing if a creator of a money-spinning, cult-inducing franchise decides, "Oh, fuck it. I'll just play with my nifty new CGI machines." It's far more heinous when he's so caught up playing with CGI and all the other funky technology that he doesn't realize that his film has more technical flaws than all the amateur fan-films out there put together.

Firstly, the pacing was awful. Whoever did the editing --- and I'm sure the almighty GL held up his end of the scissors --- doesn't seem to realize that even efficient scenes need time to breathe, expand, climax and wind down. Snip-snapping scenes all ove the place does not a movie make. (Oh, and Yoda's syntax? It worked in ESB; it doesn't work every time it's used to cover up bad writing.)

So yeah, pacing. Then there was the bad script. Then there was the self-indulgent overuse of CGI. And don't forget plot loopholes. And then there's the excessive CGI. There was also the bad acting, but I'm inclined to forgive the actors for that because they really didn't have much to work with. There was the campy Yoda bit --- it worked, initially, when Yoda confronted Count Dooku, but it crossed the line into camp when it was reduced to just a little green guy bouncing all over the cave.

I think the godawful script did it in, really. On my way back from watching the film and before I fell asleep that night and even the next day, all I could think of was how the same essential story (Anakin and Amidala fall in love, Boba Fett hands out some clones, Palpatine takes control of the Senate, Count Dooku is temporarily defeated, Anakin inches towards the Dark Side) could have been told with far less melodrama, planet-hopping and angst. Same story, just different treatment. And I'm not talking about any sacred Star Wars holiness that must be preserved; I just want to watch a good story, plain and simple.
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Okay, /rant off. I just have to go around saying, "I hated it, absolutely hated it," a few more times and then maybe people will stop trying to convince me that it was not that bad.


Meanwhile, work this week has been a surprisingly lenient affair. I think they haven't really cottoned on to the fact that I'm back, even though everyone has seen me and said hi and how was the trip and we've gone to lunch and everything. I spent most of my afternoons, truth be told, surfing the internet. I caught up with so many of my regular websites (the ones I'd neglected when I was on vacation) that as of 2:30 pm today, I had run out of regular hangouts and was bored out of my mind.

Not that I'm complaining, since I'd rather be bored and then go home on time, then be exhilarated with work and have to stay late everyday. Plus it's a nice way to ease myself back into the work rhythm --- inasmuch as I've experienced any kind of rhythm this week, other than having to wake up early again.

Socially, the week was hopping. Tuesday night was spent at a certain Irish pub that T is enamored with. T and Mr B drank potcheens (sp?), some kind of Irish potato spirit, sorta the Irish version of moonshine. It's wicked strong; I wouldn't touch it. T and Mr B, on the other hand, drank five shots altogether. Mr B proceeded to be hungover the next day. T, however, is on holiday (the month-long mid-year school break began this week) and had plenty of time to sleep off any incipient hangover.

Wednesday night we had dinner with my cousin and his fiancee. They took us to a nearby swimming club (which is like a country club, minus the golf) for a cheap dinner. However, we got back a little later than I expected so G, I missed taping about five minutes of this week's The X-Files for you. It was a letdown anyway, as this final season (thank goodness) has been. At least it's consistently bad, unlike a certain science fiction franchise I could name.

Thursday night found us having dinner with Miffy and her man. The evening began with a slight hiccup because we had wanted to eat at this place at Fort Canning, except it turned out that on that very night, Fort Canning was overrun by tons of people attending some kind of Festival Village that marked the opening of the annual Arts Festival. So the cafe wasn't serving its usual goodies and parking was a nightmare and T got grumpy as a result. We adjourned to Park Mall instead (and the aforementioned Irish pub afterwards), so the evening was neatly salvaged. However, my back hurt. I think it's going to take my spine a while to get used to the fact that I have to go back to sitting at a desk all day.

The downside to my sterling social life is that I didn't get enough sleep --- exacerbated in part, no doubt, by mild jet lag. I will atone for it this weekend.

I haven't written about my trip yet, but at least I'm sorta caught up on what's going on in the present, so I'll try to slip in a trip-related entry this weekend.

Okay, since I began this entry with such vitriol directed against AotC, I'll end with the only thing that's redeemed it for me so far: Episode 3: Yoda Goes Nuts and Hides in the Swamp by Chris Cook. It takes at least a PG-13 rating, by the way, if not just big fat R and it's filled with Episode 2 spoilers galore. Read at your own risk. At least it helped me pass the afternoon at work more quickly yesterday.


So today was my first day back at work after being "out of office" for almost two weeks. I'm clearly not very high up in the food chain because it took me less than an hour to clear all the unread mails. It'd have taken me longer to clear my personal e-mail account, had I not checked it on and off while I was on vacation.

The good thing about it being my first day back is that everyone assumed I was busy clearing e-mail and no one bothered me about anything new. So while about half my colleagues were having headless chicken days, trying to cope with the whims and vagaries of media requests and ministerial happenings, I got to hide in my cubicle and get my wrists used to maneuvering fingers across a keyboard again (my wrists have never experienced this mild ache before). I might've somewhat given away my leisurely status, though, when I volunteered to take notes for an afternoon meeting on behalf of a colleague.

Oh, the Frangos (mint chocolates from the Marshall Field's department store in Chicago) were a hit. No wonder Pat used to get some every time she passed a store.

In other work-related news, I came back from vacation to find that two colleagues have quit. Two! And I'm pretty close to one of them too --- I'd just gotten to a point after the last five months when I felt that we had a good working vibe going. What's really nuts, though, is that these two women have been in this department for about four years each. When they go, so does a lot of institutional memory. I am afeard.

But enough about work. My latest post-vacation financial resolution is to live on $100 a week. It's a bit extreme, but I did indulge in a leather jacket on this trip and without drastic measures, I won't even be able to get my hair cut before Christmas.

The vacation, leather jacket notwithstanding, was outstanding. The only thing that would've made it better is if T had been able to go. The weather was wintry, but I'll take that over the 45 degree temperatures I missed here. Seeing old friends was great. Watching my brother traipse around campus in his graduation garb was priceless. Having my mom steal the cap and gown and take pictures in them (she never went to college) was funnier still.

I would write more now, but I'm back at home and we're going out for dinner. Just in case any of you were still holding your breath in suspense after my previous pre-vacation journal entry, I thought I should tell you all that I didn't make it to Philly after all. The Force was not very strong with me (nor with Lucas, either, as the laughing shambles that is Attack of the Clones should tell you).


Most people don't understand my bizarre affection for the self-contradictory conundrum that is the United States, and especially dirty, grimy, uncompromising New York. I don't quite know how to explain it myself, without sounding like a well-fed, bleeding heart, over-thinking liberal.

But of course, this morning, I'm reading Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theatre on my way to work and there it is, on p. 198 (hardcover version): "antipathies in collision". That's it. That's all there is. It's what Singapore will never have --- okay, at least not in my lifetime --- and what is so intoxicating about big-city American culture, American life. The impossible cacophony of clashing ebony and ivory.


So the Philly friend called me back! And we talked for an hour. That was amazing. I can't remember the last time I talked to her --- maybe six months ago? Anyway, she's perfectly happy for me to visit, so all I have to do now is to sort out the money side of things, and the availability of flights. Watch this space for more details. Talking to my friend almost bummed me out a wee bit, because I frequently think about how my life is just passing me by while I'm stuck here in Singapore in this job till at least 2005. I mean, she's three years younger than I am and has done/is doing all these fantabulous things. Me? Well, my job doesn't suck, but it's not the most thrilling or meaningful joyride in the world. And as I was telling her about half an hour ago, I feel pretty directionless at the moment. I don't even have a long-term plan. Maybe that's why people have kids --- to provide stability in a world that otherwise whirls around every year or so, too quickly for you to figure out what you really want to do.

Bah. Get thee behind me, Discontent.

On a sunnier note, we have ordered Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, high on the ick factor to some of my readers, I'm sorry) and T aims to finish his exam marking today and I might be going to Philadelphia!

I still haven't gotten in touch with my Philly friend, so I don't know if I'm going to take up United's $109 offer or not. The trick is, reworking the trip will put me back in Singapore (assuming flights are available) the night before I'm supposed to go back to work, thereby eliminating the couple of free days at home I had planned, to get over jet-lag, get acclimatized to Singapore's heat, and to basically psyche myself up (down?) for work again. I haven't yet decided if I should take that risk. It's no fun coming back from a vacation, only to have to plunge yourself immediately back into Real Life, which negates any positive aftereffects of that vacation.


I'm also debating if I will join T in Hong Kong for two days. He'll be there in mid-June; unfortunately, the dates are also mid-week, which means I'd take leave Tuesday-Thursday of that week, but still have to work Monday and Friday. Is that better or worse than taking long weekends? Hm.


Argh. I wanted to write like every night this week but what happened? Fatigue hit me like a hard brick on my way home from work each day, and some evenings I didn't even log on to check e-mail. There are two possible reasons for this:

1. I'm getting old.
2. It was my Week to Get Tired even though I Didn't Do Much Work.

And I really mean I didn't. I went to a speechwriting course on Wednesday and Thursday, which might have accounted for the sleepiness --- as distinguished from the previously alleged tiredness --- because while the trainer was quite interesting and told plenty of good stories, he was also about sixty years old and spoke a little slowly and ran the course a little too slowly. So while I learnt stuff, I also spaced out a lot and expended most of my braincells thinking about stuff other than speechwriting.

On Monday, Tuesday, Friday and today, while I had to go to work, and while I did some stuff at work, I didn't have any headless chicken days. I didn't even have any too-busy-to-eat-lunch days. The week just took its time passing me by, and I guess it just effortlessly swept my energies and zest along with it.

Speaking of speechwriting, I came back from the course and immediately had to turn a few bare-bones facts about a particular event next Saturday into a four-page speech for one of our ministers. The speech is a throwaway one, really (i.e. of zero national significance and I'll be lucky if the event even gets reported in the press), but that doesn't make it any easier to write. The fact that a minister is issuing it means it has to have some substance, some points that sound as if they're made by an intelligent person, even when he's talking to kids who are 10-12 years old. And I had to make up all of that stat on Friday, so that I could get a draft to my boss by today, get her remarks back (which I had by lunchtime), tweak it a little more over the weekend, and then send it to the minister in question before I leave next week.

Yeah, that's the other reason I was hankering to write my web journal this week. I'm leaving on Wednesday for the Midwest and I won't be back till the end of the following week, so this journal is going to lapse then. If I feel like it, and have the internet access for it, and just can't bear to not have a journal going during those ten days or so, I may use my LiveJournal account to update things. But it's just a short vacation to see my brother graduate and see some college friends in the Chicago area, so I don't think there'll be much to tell. Watch this space towards the end of May for a full update.

So the big thing I have to do this weekend is to pack. I've decided that the only shoes I have appropriate for travelling, without sacrificing entirely on their hip value, are brown shoes. Therefore, all the clothes I bring (and I'm trying to travel light, as evinced by the distinctly small bag I borrowed from my mom today) will have to match brown shoes --- no easy task in a wardrobe like mine which is too neatly halved into Clothes Which Go With Brown Shoes and Clothes Which Go With Black Shoes. It means, for instance, that I can't bring my favorite black pants or my favorite but rarely worn black jacket. I know I agonize far too much over this, but I try not to clash brown and black --- it just sits entirely wrong with me even though I pass people everyday who wear both colors together and do not look hideously wrong.

The other reason I'm travelling light (or what counts as light, for me) is that I have to maneuver my bags and myself up and down a bus to Madison from Chicago, and later up and down the el within Chicago. The latter is a particularly daunting thought. I definitely couldn't do it with a regular-sized suitcase.

Aieeeeeeeeee! I just checked the United Airlines website (never a good thing to do when you've already bought your air ticket and made your travel plans) and found that they're having a fare sale on Chicago flights! I can go see KK for just US$109! Now I have to call her and see if that's feasible. I almost hope she says no, so I'm not tempted to spend more money. The current austerity drive, kept firmly in check by my handy Palm application into which I log every last cent I spend, is going well. But it's a fare sale, and I haven't seen this particular no-longer-in-Chicago friend in years, and I'm resigned to being flat broke for the rest of the year anyhow. I'm not going to kid myself: I know how I behave once I'm in a bargain basement or at a factory outlet, and I have never travelled to the US since graduation without successfully blowing my budget. (Actually, that applies to my one pre-college trip to the US too.)

Oh, evil, evil internet. How you tempt me.

Going to check on the laundry now. It's safer than surfing the internet.


For the record, yesterday morning was a wretched morning. It began with me ruining my only (and well-loved) black skirt that's suitable for work because I failed to check the iron setting before I applied the hot iron to the black cloth --- and voila, an irrevocably damaged skirt, achieved by a splitsecond gesture, brought to you courtesy of Tym's pre-caffeinated brain. To be fair to the iron, I wasn't even that sleepy when I decided I wanted to iron and wear that skirt yesterday. It was my fault for not checking, plain and simple. But that didn't stop me from being grumpy about it and staring at the melted material for a good five minutes afterwards

Naturally, that meant I had to pick out another outfit for work --- no easy task considering that most of my work clothes were sitting on the ironing board and I wasn't about to risk that again. (Also, I had to wait for the iron to cool down so I could clean off the black gunk.) After I picked out my outfit, I couldn't find a necklace that would go with it --- a necklace I distinctly remembered wearing just last week and I know it's either in front of the TV or in front of my computer or by the bed (you can see where I spend most of my time in the house), but I couldn't find it. It's not a major crisis to go to work unaccessorized --- not as bad as having no suitable work clothes to wear --- but it bugged me. And this was after I had to get out of the shower twice because I forgot to replace some toiletries.

Anyway. The rest of the day did not go badly, so I wasn't grumpy that long. I'm just glad I haven't spent much this past week so I have enough to go buy a functional black work skirt without breaking the bank.

Today, in contrast, was restful and calm. I even found the energy to begin overhauling my roleplay character pages (in the virtual identities section of this website), which are so outdated it looks like I've abandoned them. But I haven't! I've even figured out the basics of style sheets and I'm working towards updating the Terise section first. Go me.


The gods were angry tonight. There was a formidable downpour at 6:20 pm, just as my train pulled into my stop, and my pants and shoes were soaked by the time I got home, even though I ducked under shelter most of the way. The rain is about the only good meterological factor about living in the tropics: because it's hot so much, you really appreciate it when it's cool and wet. Some days, I don't even mind walking in the rain. Today, however, I was content to hide under my diminutive umbrella and hope for the best.

I woke up this morning very much not wanting to go to work because I had so much to do. Nevertheless, despite the odd burp in work from unanticipated callers --- including someone trying to con me into a 'free' holiday --- I got things done quick enough that I could waltz out of the office at 5:30 pm and make it home before sundown (the rain notwithstanding). We also had an early dinner at the coffeeshop downstairs, so by the time we got home and lolled on the couch in front of the TV, it wasn't even seven pm yet.

Today was also quiet because one of the Assistant Directors in my department is on medical leave --- she sprained her ankle. While I sympathise with her pain and lack of mobility, the good thing about her not being at work is that things are quietish. Tomorrow is a glorious day of meetings --- though I have only two while my colleague has three, running practically nonstop from 9:30 am till the late afternoon --- and I don't imagine I'll do much beyond the immediately necessary.

Last night's dinner was quite splendid, even though it was just satay and some add-ons. My uncle and aunt had prepared some fishcake, toufu and cucumbers, as well as green bean soup for dessert, and my mom made garlic bread. While garlic bread and satay aren't typically table-fellows at any fine dining establishment, it was good enough for us last night. Oh, and there was sake too. There would've been wine too, but by the time my parents remembered they'd brought a botttle, our meal was too wound down and our stomachs too sated for it. Dinner conversation ranged from parental and avuncular reminiscences about life in Singapore in the 1950s and '60s, to advice on planning a wedding for the cousin and his girlfriend. Needless to say, the former was far more amusing and far less embarrassing. We also learned that the younger cousin (not the affianced one) was starting work the next day (i.e. today) at a hospital near where I work. My first question, naturally, was, "So can you sign off on MCs yet?" Alas, the answer was not yet.

Time for Angel! My sad devotion to our television continues. Bon soir!