Ernest Hemingway once wrote "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed." This is the place where I pour the blood out of my Libran heart. The best use of blood in my view.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Only Singapore Film @ Indie Can Film Festival

This short post goes out to all my friends who've been wondering what exactly has happened to that film that I promised everyone that I've made. All of you have not seen it and all these past three years I don't blame you if you've been thinking that my film is actually an imaginary friend that I've made up. Thankfully, I now have prove of its existence for you. The loophole of course is that you'll actually have to take a flight to Toronto, Canada in order to see it.

On October 4th 2009 at 1.30pm, my film "25 to Life" will be premiering at the Indie Can Film Festival held at the campus of the University of Toronto, at the Innis Town Hall Theatre in Toronto, Canada.

It's been a long time coming but I finally found a film festival that was supportive enough of independent filmmakers to show my film. It is only one of a small handful of feature films shown amidst mostly short films but to me, its a little reward for all that I've gone through for this small passion project of mine.

It's kinda unfortunate that Jan and I couldn't be there for the premiere but hopefully I'll be able to get a Singapore viewing done so that all of you can finally see what I wasted these years of my life for. It's by no means my best work (ha! far from it) but I think its a testament of my perseverance, my belief in myself and my passion for film. That I think endures more than any articles and scripts that I have written. The pic you see above is a version of the official movie poster of my film done by yours truly. If you want a full sized movie poster sized one, just drop me an email and I'll email it to you! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seiko Watches, Eco Cars and Crazy Emails

I did a weird thing the other day. I sent an email to Seiko watches that talked about something totally unrelated to watches at all. The email was so crazy I thought it just might make for an interesting entry for my little-read blog. Ha..ha...

So what's the significance of Seiko watches to my story? Well, to tell a short story long, it's about my favourite watch in the world - the Seiko Kinetic. See, more than thirty years ago, my mum bought my dad a very expensive watch for his birthday. It was a rugged, square-faced Seiko watch with a hefty metal strap. And it was a Seiko Kinetic. Now, for all you non-watch fans out there, a Seiko Kinetic is a watch that has a tiny dynamo within it which can utilise the movement of your hand to recharge the battery inside your watch whilst you're wearing it. The watch can run forever without ever needing a change of battery. I once saw a documentary on TV about the Seiko Kinetic watch. Apparently, there are gyroscopes which capture the movement of your wrist and through gears and spindles, these gyroscopes amplify your wrist movements at a geometric rate to a tiny spindle which spins at incredible speeds, generating current to store and charge the battery inside your watch. A watch which doesn't need a battery replacement! What a cool watch, right?

Do any of you still remember we used to ride bicycles which had these lamps which were powered by dynamos attached to the bicycle's wheels? A metal dynamo with a gear was attached to the rim of your bicycle wheel with a wire connecting it to the lamp. Whenever you pedalled on your bike, the revolution of the wheel would turn the gear and the dynamo would convert the motion into an electric current and your lamp would light up. Simple idea, right?

Well, I've always wondered why the concept of the dynamo could not be used for the motorcar. Turns out it is being used. But in a very small way. See, every motorcar on the road today has a dynamo called an alternator. The alternator is connected to the fan-belt of your car's engine. Whenever your engine is running, the fan-belt will also spin. The alternator would then convert the fan belt's kinetic energy into electrical current to recharge your car's battery. In this way, your car battery lasts longer. That's why you should never leave your car light on after you finish parking. It will exhaust the battery cos the car's not moving and thus the battery won't be recharged.

Notice that I mentioned that the battery is connected only to the fan belt. Now, when you drive a car, what are the parts of the car which picks up the most kinetic energy? The wheels, right? So why isn't the battery connected to the wheel axels then? Well, for a conventional internal combustion engine, the battery actually doesn't need all that much juice.

However, things are different for an electric car run on batteries. But there are hybrids like the Toyota Prius, right? Don't those cars recharge their batteries whilst they are running? Well, they do and they don't. See, the weird thing is that the batteries on all hybrid cars today are recharged by Regenerative Braking. That is, whenever, you apply the brakes on your car, the force exerted by the brakes is transformed to recharge the car battery in the hybrid car. So what your hybrid car is actually doing is recharging your car whenever you stop moving. Not when you are moving. The largest and most constant source of kinetic energy that your car generates is totally laid to waste in your car today.

But what about other hybrid cars that are coming out like the GM Volt? Those claim to use your engine to recharge your battery, right? Well, yes. New plug-in hybrids on the horizon do utilise the car engine as a generator to recharge the batteries in the car when the batteries run low. But they do not utilise the kinetic energy of your car wheels in any efficient way. What they propose to do is to use fuel to power the internal combustion engine, which then runs as a generator to power the car and recharge the car batteries running your car. This is essence means they are merely using oil in a less direct way to power your car.

Now imagine you could actually harness the motion of your car wheels to recharge your car battery. Won't that be wonderous? Simple, right? Well, not quite. See, in those good ol days of your chopper bicycle, the light of the lamp on your bicycle would actually flicker when your pedalling speed decreased, and would go out whenever you stop. Now, how can that recharge all those car batteries in your hybrid, right?

Well, that's where the Seiko Kinetic watch comes in. See, the Seiko Kinetic watch doesn't simply convert the movement of your wrist to electrical current on a one-to-one ration. If that was the case, you would have to flap your arms like a windmill to get even an hour of juice. No, the Seiko Kinetic uses gyroscope and gears the size of the watch face. These gyroscopes and gears turn ever smaller gears exponentially until the energy is transferred to a wire thin spindle which spins at an astronomical rate. The result? The Seiko Kinetic is able to exponentially increase the energy of your arm movement to a considerable amount of electrical charge. This electrical charge is then stored and can be utilised whenever the watch needs battery power.

Of course, a watch is not a car. How much battery does your watch need right? Well, that's true but how fast do you move your wrist, right? Now imagine how fast and often your car wheel turns when you drive. Now imagine how much your wheel axel has to turn in order to make your car wheel turn. The movement of your wheel axel is exponentially higher than the movement of your car wheel. Now imagine how much motion is generated by your car wheel to your wheel axel. Now imagine how much electrical energy you can generate off of all 4 car wheels on your motor vehicle? If you can somehow harness the technology of the Seiko Kinetic watch, you would be able to capture the kinetic energy of your car and relay back to the battery cells in your electric car and recharge your car. The electrical system of the car could be set up such that half of the battery cells would be in use for discharging and running the car whilst the other half of the cells would be recharged by the Seiko Kinetic alternator attached to all four wheels.

Sounds like a simple idea, right? Well, it is. Of course, if the idea is so good, somebody should have thought of it by now, right? Well, somebody definitely have. But with the oil industry and motorcar industry as powerful as they are, who would dare introduce a device which would potentially wreck the money making ability of the oil barons around the world? That's part of the reason why the car industry has resisted using such technology in their hybrids. Thankfully, there are companies out there which are slowly coming around. There is a which has come up with inventions like sensitive floors which can convert the energy of people walking on the floor to electric power and similar alternators for cars.

Wait a minute... so what was that crazy email about anyway? Well, ridiculous oaf that I am - I actually wrote an email to Seiko watches Japan on their website, asking them whether they were thinking of utilising their Seiko Kinetic technology to recharge electric cars. Crazy, right? The email will probably be junked, right? Well, that's definitely true. But I'm hoping that there is a Seiko employee on the other side of the world reading my stupid email. I'm hoping that the stupidity of my email makes him laugh so much that he'll mention it in passing to one of his colleagues. I'm hoping that his colleague will repeat that joke to his friends in other departments. And hopefully, just hopefully, someone crazy in some small department in Seiko's R&D department will hear about my stupid joke of an email and decide that my idea just might be crazy enough to work. I mean, crazier things have happened, right? :)

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Trailer for my movie

Its been a long time coming but I've finally cut a trailer for my movie... ha..ha... Check it out below...

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blast From the Past

Got a blast from the past this week. A friend of mine informed me that one of her friends has finally set up a film company and that I should check out his website. I clicked onto his homepage and found a little filmlet that was produced almost 10 years ago. What is this filmlet? Well, its a 4-minute short film that my good friend Brian and I starred in almost 10 years ago. The film actually was shortlisted in the top 10 of a short film contest organised by Tiger Beer. It was so funny looking at ten year old images of Brian and I hamming it up for the cameras. This is and most likely going to be the only time you'll see me acting. Ha...ha....its so funny looking at it again. Thought you might want to see how skinny and young we all were last century!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Big Apple In 5

Jan and I went to LA and New York from Jan 18 to 29th. We spent 5 days in LA and 5 days in New York. Here's how our New York trip went...

Getting In/Out of JFK

New York City is big. The last thing you want to do is to be seen lugging your suitcases all around the subway looking for directions. Arriving at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport at eight in the morning, our yellow cab took a half-hour to get us to our hotel in midtown Manhattan. We paid a flat fare of US$45 (excluding tips) as the State of New York has instituted a flat fare of US$45 for passengers boarding a cab from JFK to Manhattan. (There’s no flat fare for cabs going to JFK from Manhattan. To avoid paying a hundred-dollar cab fare on our return trip, we took a coach ferry service from our hotel for US$22 per person. )

Having booked a hotel room online, we arrived at the Red Roof Inn at West 32nd Street and 5th Avenue for check-in. Located along Korean Way right in midtown Manhattan, the Red Roof Inn is literally a block away from the Empire State Building on a street lined with Korean restaurants. We deposited our bags at the hotel and decided to visit the number one stop on everyone’s list - the Empire State Building.

The Empire Strikes Back

Since 9-11, security has been stepped up at the Empire State Building and other major buildings all across New York. After passing through the security check queue at the hall of the building, we took a lift up to the ticketing station where we paid an admission fee of US$20 per person and a little extra to get a souvenir map of the city. From there, we walked to another lift leading directly to the observatory deck.

The New York skyline beckoned us as the lift doors opened. There, through the gleaming clear glass and steel façade of the observatory room, was a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. Stepping through the heavy steel doors to the observatory deck, we could see the Chrysler Building, Times Square, the Metlife building, Hudson River - the whole of New York. We had to run back indoors to the observatory room periodically to keep warm throughout our time on the deck (it was -8 ˚C) but the incredible vistas of New York we saw that day are memories we’ll cherish for a long time to come.

Hotdogs, Pretzels & Pizzas

Food stands are everywhere in Manhattan and they are a must-try. You can get pretzels, knishes, and Danish pastries in the morning and hotdogs by lunchtime. Jan and I shared a pretzel at the pretzel stand right across our hotel. We also had a hot dog each, stuffing our New York dogs with sauerkraut, relish, mustard and ketchup. They were fantastic!

Next up on our list was pizza. From the New York thin slice to Chicago deep dish, pizzas with eggplant, broccoli and mushrooms to the classic pepperoni, we weren’t let down by the mind-blowing spread at Bravo’s Pizza (at midtown Manhattan between 36th and 37th Street). My wife and I shared a deep dish with everything on top and an eggplant pizza. They were heavenly. We didn’t manage to get to the most famous pizza place in the Big Apple but for those of you who want to go to the pizza place featured in Seinfeld, the Simpsons, and Sex in the City, Famous Ray’s Pizza of Greenwich Village at 11th Street and Sixth Avenue is the ticket.

Shopping in the Big Apple

Sex In The City fans know that Manhattan is a shopping Mecca. After lunch, we took a short walk to the biggest departmental store in the world – Macy’s. Located at 151 West 34th Street in Manhattan, Macy’s takes up an entire city block and is so big it’s divided into Men’s and Women’s with different entrances to boot! We found great bargains at the cosmetics counters and Macy’s own Charter Club clothing line. We spent the better part of an afternoon at Macy’s and it was worth every minute.

We also dropped in at Conway’s, a bargain store. Located right across the street from Macy’s, Conway sells clothing at ridiculously low prices. Although not your latest top of the line fashion, there are great bargains to be had. I bought two virtual knock-offs of Gap pullovers at only US$10 each. They almost made me regret shopping at Gap!

We spent the bulk of our fourth day in New York at the famed Century 21 departmental store. Located right across from Ground Zero (at 22 Cortlandt Street between Church and Broadway), Century 21 is the place to go if you’re looking for brand name clothes at a deep discounted rate. Filled with Armani suits and countless designer brands, there are bargains galore here. An Armani suit at Century 21 costs less than US$300.

Being lovers of video, photographic equipment and gadgets, we also stopped by the B&H Video store on 9th Avenue on our fifth and last day in New York. One of the world’s leading retailers of imaging products, B&H has the best prices on professional photographic equipment worldwide. If you’re shopping for that elusive camera light that you can’t seem to find in Singapore, this is the place to head to.

Manhattan Transfer & The Liberty Trail

New York has one of the best public transport systems in the world and taking the subway is the best way to get around New York. We got a 7-day Metro Pass for US$24 at the subway ticketing booth which got us unlimited rides on the subway and bus. Be sure to get a copy of the subway map guide of New York too as taking the wrong train could lead you to Harlem or the Bronx instead of Brooklyn or Manhattan.

From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigrants passed through the immigration depot at Ellis Island. Now a museum, no trip to New York is complete without a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. Taking the train to the Bowling Green subway station, we got a ferry ticket to both the islands. We also paid a little extra for a tape-recorder audio tour of the Statue of Liberty Park along with our ferry tickets. We dedicated our second day in New York to this trip, starting really early in the morning as the last ferry back from the islands was 4.30pm.

On the island itself, the tape recorder tour took us through the various spots on the park and the museum exhibits on the history of the Statue of Liberty. Although the stairs to the top of the statue’s crown has been closed off since 2001, we were able to climb to the top of the base of the Statue for a bird’s eye view of the harbour. It was a beautiful sight indeed.

At Ellis Island, the ranger guide tour of the facility treated us to a history lesson on the procedures that immigrants had to go through back in the old days. Walking through the historical exhibits in the cavernous halls of the building, it was one photo-op after another as we tried to take in all the history around us.

Little Boat Quay & the Land of Yatta

From the Bowling Green station, we took the subway to Canal Street, walking to Little Italy on Mulberry street, intent on finding our way to those charming Italian restaurants we had seen in so many Woody Allen and Godfather films. Unfortunately, the whole area was a bit too touristy for our liking. We had a hard time choosing a restaurant but eventually settled on the Amici’s II restaurant. We ordered the squid ink pasta with prawns and the (Goat’s cheese spagetthi?). The squid ink pasta tasted ok but we were missing the much touted ‘American portions’ that we had heard so much about from our friends and somehow we kept thinking of how Pasta Brava (back home in Singapore) would’ve whipped this restaurant’s ass.

After dinner, it was on to Times Square. Stepping out of the Times Square subway station, we were instantly wowed by the neon signs of Virgin Megastore, Hard Rock Café and multitude others. Looking around, we immediately spotted a curious sight. Right smack at that famous road divider on Times Square were a bunch of young men lining up to take photographs. Their arms outstretched, heads looking up, they took their turns yelling “Yatta”, mimicking a trademark scene from the American hit television series “Heroes". Hiro Nakamura would’ve been proud!

Headlined by a huge Neon sign of its name, the Toys ‘R’ Us in Times Square is a must-see. The store is so huge it actually has a full-sized ferris wheel within it! There was also a snarling, full-sized, mechanised tyrannosaurus-rex, a life-sized Superman figurine protecting you from a falling 14-wheeler truck and a giant Spider-man spraying a gigantic glop of web over your head. A surreal experience indeed.

The Table Where Sally Came

No trip to New York is complete without a trip to a delicatessen. On our third day in New York, we visited Katz’s Delicatessen - reportedly the best deli in New York. Located at 205 East Houston Street, Katz’s Deli is the delicatessen where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm in the movie When Harry Met Sally. Famous for its pastrami sandwich, we made our way to Katz’s by subway, taking the train to Washington Square station, a five minute walk away from the restaurant.

Essentially a self-service deli with full service booth seats at the side of the restaurant, the pastrami sandwich was heavenly - moist and flavourful as only a New York pastrami sandwich could be. My wife’s corned beef sandwich was equally tender but the piece de resistance has to be the chopped liver. Soft and flavourful like chilled foie gras, the liver was sweet and brilliantly textured.

Several doors down, we visited Russ & Daughters Appetizers, a shop reputed for its smoked fish, caviar and specialty foods. Established since 1914, Russ & Daughters is the best place for caviar in New York. We also bought the Super Heeb bagel sandwich – a smoked salmon salad bagel sandwich with horse radish cream cheese and wasabi flying fish roe – a must have for lovers of fish roe!

Washington Square Park & NYU

After a glorious lunch at Katz’s we visited another landmark - the Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Flanked by New York University, the Washington Square Park is home to the Washington Square Arch – a mini version of the Arc de Triumph found in Paris. This was the place Meg Ryan dropped off Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally and the home and laboratory of Will Smith in the film I am Legend. The trees and the arch are incredibly beautiful and the in-built chess boards in the southwest corner of the park are also home to chess players from all across New York. Stanley Kubrick was known to be a frequent chess player here in his youth too. Featured in the 1994 film Searching for Bobby Fischer, the chess tables also form the cornerstone of Manhattan’s “chess district” as the area around the park has a number of chess shops.

Museums, Art & Trains

Taking the subway back from the Washington Square station, we headed to another fa mous site in New YorkGrand Central Station. Featured in the cl imax sequence in The Untouchables, Grand Central Stati on is the place where you can purchase tickets for Greyhound bus rides and out-of-city trains. A grand building with wall-to-wall marble, the beautiful architecture of Grand Central Station is a sight to behold.

After browsing through the Grand Central Station mall, we walked through Pershing Square on our way to 5th Avenue and the New York Public Library. A grand, imposing building with Greek-Roman architecture, moviegoers will remember the library as the place where Peter Parker got Uncle Ben killed in the film version of Spiderman.

From the Public Library we walked along scenic 5th Avenue and the Museum Mile - a lovely stretch of 5th Avenue - and visited the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Mueseum of Art (Met) and the American Museum of National History. Fridays are a good day to visit as you get in free at the Museum of National History whilst the Met allows you to decide how much admission fees you want to pay on that day too.

(Above: The Papua New Guinea exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This section of the museum was featured in When Harry Met Sally too.)

Korean Food

Retreating back to our hotel, we finished our third day in New York with dinner at one of the many Korean BBQ restaurants next to our hotel. We treated ourselves to some Bulgogi (BBQ beef), BBQ pork, BBQ shrimps and spicy kimchi cod soup. With the order of more than one BBQ dish, we got to have the Barbie right at the grill at our table, grilled and served to us by a waiting staff. The meal came with a free flow of tasty authentic kimchi too! Our BBQ orders actually came with crab and squid kimchi, which was a rare treat indeed.

Chinatown and More Shopping

We explored Chinatown on our fourth day in New York. Located around the Canal Street area, Chinatown is easily accessible by subway. We had lunch at Hong Kong Station, a Chinese eatery along Hester Street selling Rickshaw Noodles - a Hong Kong noodle dish which lets you to choose the type of noodles you want, the soup base you prefer and the ingredients you want in your noodle soup. From garlic soup bases, mushrooms, stewed beef, tripe, fish balls to vegetables and tofu, we got a nice, hearty meal at under US$5 here.

We spent the rest of the day shopping at Century 21 before heading to the flagship Apple Store at Fifth Avenue. Located underground, this Apple Store is renowned for its gigantic, transparent glass cube exterior, adorned only by a solitary glowing white apple icon. We also stopped by FAO Schwarz next door. A high-end toy store filled with exotic stuffed animals, FAO Schwarz is perhaps best known for being the toy store where Tom Hanks played an actual, working, life-sized piano keyboard with his feet in the feature film Big. Kids will love the life-sized keyboard which has now been turned into a central store attraction – manned by two enthusiastic store employees with happy feet.

By dinnertime, though, we were seriously missing Singaporean food. Thankfully, we were able to find the next best thing in Chinatown – a restaurant serving great Malaysian food! We had Roti Chanai (prata done Malaysian style), Satay, Bak Kut Teh, sambal stingray, Sambal Kang Kong and Ipoh beansprouts at Nonya Restaurant along Grand Street (near Mulberr Street). It really hit the spot!

We spent our last day in New York shopping. We picked up some bargains at the Old Navy store along Broadway and got some great stuff at B&H too. The next morning, we took a coach to the airport and flew back to Singapore.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pics from my LA & NYC Trip

Just came back from a trip to Los Angeles and New York with the missus from Jan 18 to Jan 29th. Check out the pics at

Monday, August 13, 2007

Class Reunion at Beach Hut, ECP!

Went to East Coast Park for my secondary school reunion last Friday. Was really great to see the guys (and Gals) again and their kids! After 16 years, we were literally twice the men that we were back when we were 16! Anyway, thankfully, my friends had cameras on them and I finally have photos to post on my blog. Check out my fat face... sigh..really must go on a diet...

Sec 4D - 16 years later and still fab! (top row from left): Felix, Lingbin, me,
Wanxing, Jeremy, Royston, Rengpei, Yingwen, Zhonghai, Riming, Deming
(middle row from left) Daniel, Guangqiang, Steven
(seated row from left) Nellie, Lifang, Huizhen, Ruihong, Qinghui, Tammy,
Zhiliang, Rongda

Sec 4D 16 years ago...Can you spot who's who?

The guys and me..Clockwise from top row left, Steven,
Riming, Lingbin, Zhonghai and me

Daniel and me talking about the cheap way to set up a
recording studio

Class Sec 4D in congress... That fat face on left is me...

Partners in crime... Daniel and me at the reunion...

(From Left) Me, Rengpei and Deming hamming it up for
the camera