So My Buddy Popped the Question … to My Sister

What an eventful week.  Just when I thought I could sit back and relax because I have written a whole week worth of blog entries, my best buddy in Singapore popped the question … to my little sister.  So time to dig up one of the old photos that my pa has recently digitalized and start writing.

I began today like every other day, happy and energized, and then my phone beeped.  I have one new message, from my sister.  That’s odd.  We are in excellent term, of course.  But we seldom communicate.  I opened up the message and she said Benny has proposed!

Wow!  I must have felt like I have won a million dollar lottery at that moment.

Flash back to my previous short visits to home in Hong Kong over many years, inside a low lit living room my ma and I sat opposite each other.  My pa was asleep in the bedroom with the door ajar.  Our dog rested comfortably on his bed looking curiously at us.  And I would start the conversation, like I always did, with “So, has sis hinted anything yet?”  My ma’s response varied but both of us would end up sighing, staring at space, and I would say, “Look ma, all in good time.”

Now, at least we don’t need to think of when my sister will be getting married.  Yay?

So I met up with Lora for dinner and I couldn’t wait to hear about our parents’ responses.  “I called this morning waking ma up from her dreamland,” she said.  “You did?” I asked.  “Yes, and she was initially happy, then she paused,” my sister paused.  “And?” I asked eagerly.  “Ma asked if I have said yes,” she continued.

Did my sister say yes?!

I laughed so hard.  OK.  I personally don’t think any response other than a yes would be possible.  And my sister would have had a lot of explanations to me had she even said maybe.  Seriously … ha ha ha.

Anyway, knowing how dramatic my family is, I was eager to hear my pa’s response.  “He was excited of course,” my sister said.  “Of course,” I replied.  “And he asked if the proposal was sincere,” she smiled.  “What is a sincere proposal?” I asked in puzzlement.

It is good that both of our parents are so supportive.  Being a big brother, my response was totally business-like.  After a business-like congratulations as though Lora has just won a million dollar deal, my action oriented nature kicked in.  So I advised, “You have to perform a stakeholder analysis, sis.”  “A stakeholder analysis?” my sister was awed.  Yes, we have to figure out what Benny’s parents’ expectations are like, what about our parents, what is the time line like, and budget, and have you started to think of the brothers and sisters team, who are the event organizers, are there going to be two wedding dinners in two different locations, formal versus informal, who will be there, Church wedding, which country will go first, outsource versus insource …

I bet Lora was amazed at what went inside my head.  But seriously, there is nothing to be amazed about.  Success is when preparation meets opportunity.  I have been dreaming of today for a long, long time.

Back to my pa’s response that got me puzzled, I called home after we reached home.  5 minutes had passed and he was just asking about me.  OK, did pa get it from my sister at all?  I didn’t want to be the first to break the news.  “So pa, Lora is getting married, are you happy?” I casually asked.  He replied, “She is not getting married.”  I paused, panicked, and continued, “Yes she is.  Hasn’t she told you this morning?”  “She is getting engaged,” my pa said it as-a-matter-of-fact.  “Pa?!” I screamed, “It’s the same!”  “Did she say yes?” he asked.  “Pa?!  Of course she said yes,” I laughed.  “Was the proposal sincere?” he queried.

Uh-huh?

“How would I know, pa?!” I genuinely didn’t know.  “Did he get on his knee when he proposed?” he asked.  “How would I know, pa?!” I genuinely didn’t know that either.  “What century are we in now?  People don’t do that anymore in real life,” I added.

Do we?  Maybe people do.  Maybe Benny did.

And as of this very moment, my ma is still outside partying and celebrating so I have yet to speak with her on the phone.  Anyways, many congratulations to my beloved little sister and my best buddy Benny.  Stay tuned.

So Cynthia’s Going to Learn Spanish (Working Title: So Spain Has Won the EURO 2008 Eh?)

My [male] bimboic approach to football tournament – no offence to the fans out there – is more like watching the American Idol.  And hence, my only contribution to the blogosphere (if you can call it one) is my quick drawing of one fine Spanish player who scored the golden goal.  Spain has won the UEFA Cup first time in 44 years, so I read.  44 years is a long time.  I for sure am much younger than that.  Ha!

Before I met Cynthia, who is one football fanatic, I seldom watch football matches on TV.  I can’t remember the name of this dude whom I’ve met in an International school back in the UK, when I was 17.  I think he is an Malaysian and on his wall, he had this huge tournament chart that tracked the World Cup progress.  What a hardcore fanatics he was.  Not only that, he had a large collection of magazines and I remember there was a ring binder – from a magazine publisher I suppose – that contained some of the finest moments in the soccer history in forms of illustration and writing.  I guess that was what people did prior to the advent of Internet, filing contents month after month.  My friend would show me all the wonderful passes from the world famous sorcerers using the materials inside this ring binder of his.  Pele, he pointed out, is a legend and here is why.  I have not met anyone that passionate about football until I met Cynthia.

She is really one of the kind.  And because of her, I found that watching football matches can be entertaining.  For the past couple of world tournaments, I have religiously watched every single match live, even more so than Cynthia.

This year, because no one talks about football in my work place, I can afford to watch some of the recorded matches during the sane hours.  Still, we took leave and watched the final match live.  Cynthia joked that she would pick up either Spanish or German as a new language depending on the outcome of the UEFA Cup final.  I guess it is going to be Spanish then.  And ya, we love the music played whenever there was a goal.  Both of us would jump out of the sofa, hands waving in the air – that is if the goal is not against the team we support.

PS. Interestingly, I have also equated watching the football tournaments to the American Idol back in the Word Cup 2006.

It is Diablo III – So the Wait is Over?

I seldom blog about video gaming but this one is big.  The Diablo franchise has a new installment, and from one video I have watched, it’s a quantum leap.  The graphic is jaw dropping and we can now realistically interact with the environment such as the collapse of the structures as we battle.  The control for the battle seems engaging.  Check out one boss fight and I bet you have not quit seen something of that scale before.

I always try to seek a balance when I blog, a little something for everybody.  From the business point of view, Blizzard Entertainment – a division of French Vivendi Games – is one gaming company that I admire deeply.  Why?  They don’t have many games and they only have three major franchises – Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo.  They are not inventive but they enhance and implement the genre so well that all that they create are legendary, a huge gap for the rest of the companies to close.  Starcraft is a 10 years old game and it is still played today.  Recently, it is announced that Starcraft II is on its way.  Warcraft has gone through a cycle of 3 installments and the MMORPG spin off (massively multi-player online role playing game) is a worldwide success taking the genre to a height that never has seen before.  10 million worldwide subscribers (Cynthia and I included) and it is a four years old game still going strong.

Another great thing I admire about Blizzard Entertainment is that unlike other gaming companies that are pressurized to release games even when the games are not ready for the shelves, Blizzard has the reputation of non-committing release dates.  They will only release the games when they are ready.  On top of that, they are not hesitate to can a project (like the venturing into the console gaming platform) if it doesn’t turn out right.

There is a pending merge of Vivendi Games (1 billion in revenue) with yet another giant Activision (3 billion in revenue) and the new entity is going to be called Activision Blizzard Inc.  Now, I do want to own some of their shares.

Below is the cinematic teaser and if you like what you see, don’t miss the video that demonstrates the actual game play (click here and then click onto “Play Gameplay Vidoe” on the right).

Gecko in the Sky: One Man’s Pest is Another Man’s Pet

O lovely creatures that roam my home and keep the bad insects in check.  I can’t comprehend why some would smash your species into blood and gore, spilling guts on the walls and on the floors.  I would never do that.  Uh-ah, never crossed my mind.

At times I see some of you in my kitchen, on my bathroom floor.  It is good to have good living creatures in my home because I don’t even keep plants.  I can’t recognize your faces, of course, but I can recognize who are the babies, who are the well fed grown ups that have double, quadruple your infant size.  Because of that translucent skin of yours, it often amuses me to see your dark bulging stomachs, full of flies and ants, spiders and other bad, bad insects perhaps?

From time to time, my shower area is infested by fat and tiny, slow flying creatures.  I would have to smash four or eight of them flat prior to my shower.  What an annoyance!  And they fly onto my face!  Then one of you would arrive, clean the area up.  Now I don’t even see flies in my bathroom no more.

You don’t make me jump.  Except that one time when one of you fell onto my shoulder while I was showering.  I laughed away and really, no harm done.

PS. Picture taken by Cynthia on March 24, 2008.

10 Promises to My Dog – A Sweet Japanese Movie That Has Mass Appeal

Ask ten people who have or had dogs as their companions and you may hear ten unique, at times breathtaking stories.  Without giving out any spoilers, “10 Promises to My Dog” is not one of those typical Hollywood films that involve a dog that saves the world.  There is no adventure of that sort.  Instead, it’s a story of a young 14 years old girl Akari, her parents, her childhood friend, and a dog named Socks.  A simple story that emphasizes on the little events in life that bond companions, difficult choices and sacrifices people make in the name of ‘family’ (and in this case, Socks included of course).  The story is then being fast forwarded to 10 years later when Akari grows older, reunited with her childhood friend, and something in life do change, some don’t.

Within this rather depressing storyline, the magic of the casting (again, Socks included) turns the entire mood of the movie around, like a fireplace in a cold winter night.  The 14 years old young and sweet actress Mayuko Fukuda (福田麻由子) is certainly one of my favorites.  Such a sweet personality and smile she has that matches so well with the puppy (a Golden Retriever?).  It is such a joy to watch the younger version of Akari.  The amazing thing is that the actress who plays the older Akari, Lena Tanaka (田中麗奈), is just as sweet.  If I am to pick one tiny detail to critic, I would say that while the casting of the 28 years old Lena Tanaka is still believable, having the 34 years old actor Ryo Kase to play the supposed to be 24 years old childhood friend of Akari is a bit far off.  My friend TK and I thought that Ryo Kase is selected because he is a professional guitar player in real life as demanded by the plot.  After some research at home, he is actually one of the actors who played in Clint Eastwood’s “Letter from Iwo Jima”.

Anyway, details.

Besides the dog and the girl (or girls counting the young and older ones), I also enjoy watching the acting of Akari’s father – so loving, so sincere.  I would suppose the ten promises Akari has made to the puppy are a good reminder to those who already have pets as their companions as well as those who consider keeping one.  There have been rather sad stories of owners abandoning their pets after realizing that there is a certain responsibility in keeping a companion.  And I personally think that some of these promises are good reminders on how we shall treat our own family and friends too.  If I could take home one theme, that would be the so-called obligations or sacrifices made however restrictive and confining at times don’t necessary make my world smaller but instead, make me a real person (as in not living in my own world I guess).

In the end of the movie when the theme song sang by BoA was played, Cynthia’s eyes were swollen with tears.  I asked when she has started crying and she told me that since the puppy appeared on the screen.  Oh dear, how can one cry for more than an hour in this 117 minutes movie?

Below is a movie trailer without subtitles.