Thursday, July 2, 2015

The 5 things about Fifty Shades of Grey movie that (maybe) makes it worth watching


You’ve heard the hype. You’ve seen the billboards. But is the film adaptation of EL James’ 2011 blockbuster really worth seeing? Here’s five reasons why you could be tempted to give it a sneaky watch.

1. Satisfy your curiosity

There has to be a reason why so many readers – 100 million to be precise – have picked up and read the book from cover to cover. The chances are that you’ve been involved in at least one conversation about the book that has rocked the world of a certain demographic. You will have nodded blindly as your friends/ colleagues/ family discuss the fate of the two main characters, innocent and demure Anastasia and alpha male millionaire Christian Grey. And whilst you may have feel a little smug that you haven’t been sucked in, aren’t you just a tiny bit intrigued?

2. It does not glorify violence

Much has been said about 50 Shades of Grey glorifying violence, through the portrayal of a sexual relationship that has BDSM at its heart. But as Hollywood movies go, the sex is actually fairly tame. Yes, Mr Grey entices Anastasia to stray way outside of her comfort zone, but there are safe words put in place and Anastasia can, and indeed does, leave whenever she feels uncomfortable. Compared to the amount of gruesome violence that has become commonplace in 21st century movies (have you seen Jurassic World?), a touch of rough and tumble between two consenting adults should probably be the least of our worries.

3. It is not as misogynist as critics make out

Perhaps the biggest criticism of the story is its portrayal of women. But the film reveals a rather different side to the feminist debate, and this is in large part due to the performance from accomplished actress Dakota Johnson. Her version of Anastasia is much more kick-ass than the book. By the end of the movie Anastasia is a very assertive and self-assured young lady. This feminist approach may be largely due to the gender of both screenwriter and director (all female), a rare thing in today’s Hollywood.

4. It’s very well cast

There was much anticipation about who would play the main characters in the film, but Dakota Johnson and relative unknown Jamie Dornan are pretty perfect – both very good looking in an understated way and they have great chemistry. I suspect avid 50 Shades fans won’t be disappointed.

5. It will take you less time than reading the book

If you’re still not convinced, think about the time you will save! At just under two and a half hours, the film is a much quicker option than the 500 page book. And now it’s out on DVD, (and widely available from retailers like Tesco and Best Buy) so you can watch it in the comfort of your own home too.

But most importantly, make up your own mind about 50 Shades. Love it or hate it, it’s worth finding out.

Image by Bruce Berrien used under the Creative Commons License.

This story that leads nowhere: #1 - Him

He has suffered identity crisis his whole life. At least, that is how he felt. All 24 years of his life. Which is not long, by the way, in our eyes, especially to those who are older than him. What is 24 years of existence as compared to 50 years of sweat and toil? Or 75?

"You are still young," they would always tell him whenever he complains about his life. "Still so much to experience." As if that would make him feel any better.

Still, if you look at him in comparison with others, you would be forgiven to question if what he is going through can truly qualify as "suffering". There are those who clearly have a fate worse than his. Much, much worse. Those who fear for their lives every day. Those without access to basic water and food. Those who do not have the luxury to question their identity because each day is a struggle to survive.

According to Maslow, a relatively famous psychologist, only those who have their basic needs met, such as food, water and shelter will have the opportunity to question their own purpose in life. Questioning your existence is a form of privilege, not a necessity. A person would not have the time to think about their purpose in life when the stomach is empty and the throat is parched. You will be too busy trying to survive than to think of questions that do not feed you.

By that token alone, he is clearly not "suffering". He clearly has a better life than a significant portion of people around the world. He has a job. He has access to clean water and food. He can sleep soundly at night in an air-conditioned room. He knows this too. He was taught of this in school.

So why then does he feel so burdened and bothered by this issue? That every day and night, the worry will find a way to creep into his mind, like a persistent bug? That no matter how much he tells himself that his life is good, no matter how much he is reminded to be thankful, his mind will stray back to this question?

The question of whether he is living a fulfilling life?

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Reacting to the LGBT ruling as a Christian


My Facebook feed has erupted into a rainbow war of sorts after the recent same-sex marriage ruling in the United States. As Christian, my stand should be clear, as how some of my fellow believers put it. That I should be against the ruling. That I should feel sad and angry that today, the definition of marriage was “defiled”. That by the ruling, we Christians have “lost” the battle.

Some of my friends are in fact acting in such a way. Like they have lost an important thing to them That their belief is under threat. That the need to defend the correct way of life is ever stronger. They claim that the institution of marriage has been defiled and that dark times are ahead. What's next after LGBT? Pedophilia? Polygamous marriages? Bestiality? Where do we draw the line?

As a Christian, I find myself to be stuck in a rather peculiar spot. Because if I support the LGBT movement, I would be labeled as a heretic. A non-believer. A misguided Christian who has lost the plot. Some Christians who oppose the LGBT would view me as a traitor to the belief. Perhaps I don't read the bible enough.

But if I oppose the LGBT movement, the same thing would happen, perhaps with a different tone. I am then labeled a close minded conservative. Someone who is no different than those who supported racism and sexism in the past. A hateful bigot who loves to impose his beliefs unto others.

It's a tough choice to make in the debate, to be honest. But I am not alone. There are those who think like me, who when asked, simply don't have an answer to give. What is my stand on the whole issue? I don't know. It's ambiguous at best. I am neither for or against. Because it is just too complicated a decision to make. One that I think I am not qualified enough for. But if I have to explain, my line of thought goes like this:

1. Do I think that LGBT is against my belief?
Yes. Like it or not, the bible explicitly states so. This is not something that is clearly ambigious where there is no mention of the issue. It may be in the Old Testament and among verses that we don't really follow nowadays, like mixing our clothes together, but it is there for a reason. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed partly due this reason and God is clearly unhappy over this. Nowhere in the bible was homosexuality portrayed in a positive light, and the evidence is stacked against LGBT.

HOWEVER,

2. Do I see a need to stand up and fight against the LGBT?
No. Although I see it as a sin, I see many things else as a sin. Divorce, lying, slander and discrimination are examples of it. But I am not doing anything against the other sins, so why is there a need to be so worked up over just a particular one? I see it as a hypocrisy if I make noise over one sin but keep quiet over the others, where divorce for example, is explicitly stated by Jesus to be wrong.

In Matthew Chapter 19, Jesus said specifically that: “...that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate... 9 anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

While many of the LGBT proponents are using the verse of God creating Male and Female as the basis of the argument, a lot of them ignore the rest of the sentence, which received a much heavier emphasis than the first part. I don't see any groups lobbying against divorce as much as against LGBT. And the divorce rates continue to climb across the years but yet almost no one is speaking out against it.

Aren't we being hypocrites, a trait that Jesus absolutely hated, by cherry picking the laws that we want to follow and throwing away those that we disagree with? It is this fixation on the LGBT issue that bothers me. It raises more questions than answers. Why LGBT specifically? Why not issues that are shown to be more detrimental to a child? Until we can address the issues that Jesus specifically mentioned in a more urgent if not equal manner, those who preach anti-LGBT messages are no different that those who preach prosperity gospel messages. Where we read the bible in a narrow way.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE NEXT POINT

3. What matters more here? Loving or hating?
Love your neighbours as you love yourself. That is one of the most important commandments in the bible. Jesus ate with sinners. He did not shun them. He accepted them. Prostitutes, tax collectors and lepers, he hung out with them. They were the minorities, the oppressed. He reached out specifically to them.

You know who are the ones who shunned the sinners? The pharisees. They were the ones who avoided the sinners like a plague and judged Jesus when He ate with them. They discriminated against the minority, the ones that Jesus loved the most. If Jesus came to our world today, who do you think He would hang out with? Those of us who are comfortably hanging out in church? Or those who are out in the streets, who are shunned by us?

We are first called to love, not to judge. Jesus mentioned specifically before that we need to first take out the plank in our eyes before judging others. But this is not the case today. We call gays “fags” and oppose their way of life, viewing them as if they're some kind of scourge. If through our actions and words we alienate non-believers, how different are we than the pharisees 2000 years ago? Where through their own self-righteousness that they cast away the people who needed help the most, until Jesus came along?

As a Christian, I believe that it is my first commandment to love than to judge. I know we need to keep each other accountable, but if a person does not see error in his/her way and loves God just the same, then I believe it is a matter between the person and God, not me. After all, I am a fellow fallen human being too.

FURTHERMORE

4. Do unto others what you want others to do unto you

Just as I don't want a person of another faith to impose their beliefs unto me, so will I not do the same to others. It boils back down to the question of hypocrisy. We wouldn't like it if someone comes up to us and say our bible is wrong and believing in Jesus is stupid, so what gives us the rights to tell others that their beliefs is wrong too? We are called to be salt and light of the world, but nowhere it is mentioned that we need to force our salt and light unto others. After all, didn't Jesus say to the disciples that if a town does not believe their message, shake the dust off their feet and let them be?

We may argue that LGBT will be worse off parents but are the heterosexual parents doing any better on average? No! There's still divorce, single parents, domestic abuses and what not. LGBT is clearly not the issue here, but rather our lack of love for one another.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

5. This is not a war

A lot of us view the LGBT debate as a battle. One where we fight against these “infidels”, in lack of a better word and one that we must win. Any gain by the LGBT community is view as a lost to us, which causes us to be more hostile and hit back harder. What most of us don't realise is that by winning these LGBT battles, we are essentially losing the war on souls. How many LGBTs who came up to us and say their lives turned for the better because we told them their lifestyle is wrong? Often the opposite that is true. The more we refuse to acknowledge and the more we fight, the more hurt we generate.

This is not a war we are fighting. Adopting an under-siege mentality is the wrong way to go. It is never a battle in the first place. What are we actually fighting to defend? What exactly happens if we legalise LGBT? That suddenly everyone turns gay and all hell breaks loose? That no one would want to marry you anymore? No! Why can't we realise that the more we try to stamp down on something, the more it will grow? That was how Christianity originally grew. By framing this as a war we are achieving exactly the opposite of what we want.

THE CONCLUSION?

Jesus hated hypocrites more than anything in the New Testament, which was why he was so against the pharisees. They were the classic hypocrites. Given the state of the world we're in and the state the church is in currently, I believe that we first need to get our act straight before bothering on what others are doing. Because the more we go down this current path of ours, the more we risk driving away people from Jesus.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

No more those dull looking mice!

I woke up to a mysterious package lying outside of my door today. Something in white with black marker writings over it. Half-awake, I wondered what on earth could the package be until I wore my glasses and saw the label clearly.


Aww. #bestfathersdaypresent #waitiamnotafatheryet

It is not always that you get to receive a package that praises your looks. Though naming my blog lukeyishandsome(dot)com is one way to increase the chances of this happening (I did that on purpose).

Anyway, the early morning package contained a mouse (not the black furry one) from Logitech, that came in the design of a fox. It's a mouse that looks like a fox. Or rather have a fox design painted on it. Confusing? I intended it to be that way. So what exactly is in the package? This:


Aww x2. One thing that I like about Logitech is how good they treat bloggers.

Back to the mouse, it's part of Logitech's wireless mice series with cute designs. Earlier I received the m235 series with different colours other than your conventional black or any other deep colours, and m238 is a continuation of that. It is a good mouse to use in the workplace as it is designed to cheer you up with their cherry looks. There are other animals in addition to the fox I received too.


If you're bored of the usual mice design, do consider the m238 mice series as a break away from the routine. It can be a good way to express yourself too! Before I end this post, compulsory blogger pose with the product:


Camera with filters ftw.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

If only we can travel all the time



The saddest part about travelling is always at the end, knowing that you are leaving and not knowing when or if you're going to return. Osaka has been a magical experience, something that I have always wanted to do since young. Stepping into Japan and seeing an entirely new culture from my own eyes, not just from a screen, is truly a humbling experience.

I was amazed by how friendly and polite the Japanese people were. Turns out that the stereotype is indeed true. Despite us not knowing a single word of Japanese, the locals were kind to us. We figured out ways to communicate despite our language barriers. And at the end of each conversation, there was always a ‘thank you’ followed by a smile. I saw first-hand how it is possible for an entire population to be kind, gentle and polite.

It's no wonder why St Augustine said that “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” or Mark Twain who claimed that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”


The entire experience got me thinking. How great it would be if we could travel all the time? That we could do so without the barriers of money? That travel be made compulsory for everyone? Why can't we have a world where travelling is possible for anyone who wants to?

Because right now, travelling is still restricted to those who either have loads of money or those who are overly adventurous. To travel constantly, you must be rich or you must be willing to throw down everything that you have and take a leap of faith. For people who are caught in between, you can only travel once a while when you save enough money.

It's a never ending cycle. You slog hard in your normal life just to earn enough for the occasional trip. For some, it's like we're solely working just to get the little reward at the end. Vacation abroad is our ‘reward’. It's a little sad, don't you think?

I wonder if there is such a way where everyone in society can go wherever they like, whenever they want to? Surely the world will be a happier place if that's the case, no? But of course, all these are just overly idealistic thoughts.

Stay tuned for my post-Osaka post!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Twenty Random Thoughts #030615: Maybe it's just about appreciating the small things


1. Life is where you open up your social media every day and see how tons of other people have a better life than yours. That person who is constantly on a trip, the news about the 20-year old who is earning millions and that douchey friend of friend of yours who got featured on TV. There are tons of comparisons out there.

2. Meanwhile you're just caught in the average life of yours, barely trying to scrape by. Your bank account hits zero at the end of the month while your loan stays forever the same.

3. I know all the talk about how we should not measure our life by how high we have climbed but rather the flowers that we have smelled along the way.

4. To me, that kind of talk always sounded defeatist. Like what people who cannot accomplish much would say to console themselves.

5. I know the importance of appreciating what we have instead of fantasizing about what we don't, but the problem is that we humans are not made that way. We are not designed to just be content with what we have. We were given the ability to dream big and the motivation to achieve the impossible as well.

6. It is our drive to constantly reach higher that propelled our species forward. It was those who dared to dream big that advanced our society, not those who were content just smelling flowers.

7. It is the exact same reason why those who made big achievements were celebrated and glorified, not those who smelled the flowers. Songs, movies, books and anything entertainment that we consume all have the same message: The only way to have an awesome life is to do something big.

8. Now, not all would want a life of glory and a significant amount of us are just happy with being average, away from the limelight.

9. Besides, we all have different abilities. To reach the top and to achieve a significant amount of change would require an incredible amount of talent and abilities. Which may be why we celebrate those who eventually do it.

10. The problem then occurs when you're given this motivation and dream to do big things and to change the world, but without the necessary skills and talents to accompany it.

11. To make it big, we all need an area of niche. An exceptional skill that makes us better than the majority of people around us. Only then can we stand out from the crowd. To be appreciated. It could be our speaking ability. Our affinity for science. Anything that makes us better.

12. When you don't have that, when most of the skills you have cluster around the average level, it's much harder to break away from the curve that is at the middle.

13. Your pay will be average and your worth will be around the same as well. Sad, isn't it? How our human worth is judged by the amount we're earning?

14. But I guess this is all depressing talk. If you really want to look at it from a pure practical sense, it is very hard to live on when your life is far from your ideal.

15. Which is why most of us switch our ideals, adjust our expectations. Perhaps this is what they call the cynism of old age.

16. While we wanted to change the world and be the top when we're young, we gradually realize that not everyone can be number one, and we slowly adjust our expectations to a lower level. To fit the grim reality.

17. Still we can choose to be happy with what we have. To just play the cards that we're given to the best of our ability.

18. Sure, smelling flowers may not amount to much, but they're still fragrant nonetheless. It's how we make do with it. Be it a simple picnic, picking up a new skills or travelling around the world with Jetstar promotions, we have to make do.

19. Why such an emo post? Maybe because my life now is what my 16 year old would absolutely hate but there's just no option to turn back time. And even if we did, I am sure that things would not change much.

20. Maybe a good sleep would change things.

Photo credits by Hygge. Pronounced Hu-ge.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Because we all need a little optimism (Review: Disney's Tomorrowland)


“Even when they're faced with the image of their imminent destruction — instead of running away in fear and changing their damaging ways — they gobble it up in movies, games and all forms of media. And that is why they deserve to go extinct,” - paraphrased from Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland, Disney's latest movie starring George Clooney, has had its fair share of critiques and articles examining it since the first day it was released. Most of them were bad, criticising the movie's lack of plot and comparing it to the likes of Mad Max, and the movie holds a 49% stale rating on Rotten Tomatoes. There are a lot of other reviews examining why it flopped too, giving reasons such as the lack of attention for originality to our preferences for dystopian messages.

I had my fair share of doubts before deciding to watch the movie, wondering if I was going to make a really bad choice — like the time I distrusted ratings and decided to go ahead with one of my greatest Disney regrets of all time: Maleficient. But the message of optimism piqued my interest — for personal reasons — and I decided to take a leap of faith to see what the movie is really about. Like what kind of optimism is it trying to sell?

Personal disclosure here. I was born an optimist. A dreamer, as how the movie puts it. Growing up, I wanted to change the world, make it a better place. However, like George Clooney's character in the movie, somewhere along the line I grew disillusioned, wondering if a fellow like me can ever truly accomplish anything worthwhile. I grew disillusioned with the human race in whole as well, where we are constantly bickering over small issues without really solving anything.

In a way, I could feel myself becoming more of a cynic old man day after day. One that sees our world as doomed and without hope. Which was why I liked the movie so much, despite its flaws, because the central message is something that I could relate strongly with.


Sure, the story and the minor details are not exactly perfect. I find the main actress to be wholly annoying since the start of the movie with her constant bombardment of questions — constantly feeling like she's being out of place — and it was not easy to relate to her. Thank goodness for George Clooney. The backstory of Tomorrowland was not explained properly as well — why it was founded, why there seems to be a shift in politics despite it claiming to be free of it and why was the robot army built — left most of the audience guessing most of the time.

But in my personal opinion, I don't those flaws overpowered the good of the movie, and to focus on them would be nitpicking. Tomorrowland did offer a thought provoking message that we tend to gloss over in our obsession with dystopian thinking — something which I am increasingly guilty of — and forgetting that at the end of the day, the world is in our own hands. It is us who has the power to make a better life on earth for ourselves and there is a need to start believing in the message of optimism now more than ever.

Of course, there's no world for us to escape to and to have one is extremely unethical and elitist, after all, who gets to decide who stays and who leaves? But underneath all the flaws of Tomorrowland hides an important message: which is the importance of hope and dreams. Something that we have forgotten for far too long. Something that we ought to remember instead of just giving in to despair and hopelessness. That it is useless to fight the system. And that itself, is enough a reason to watch the movie in my opinion.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Don't shoot complain, shoot also complain

Earlier this morning, Singaporeans were greeted by the shocking news of a man who was killed while trying to escape from a police barricade, nearby Shangri-La Hotel, where a high-level security summit is taking place. Of course, the first reaction that some of us had in mind when we first see the headline, is whether it has anything to do with terrorist attack, considering the recent report of the arrest of two radicalised youths.

The assumption was quickly dispelled when as we read more and the news updated, with police reporting that only drugs were found in the vehicle, not explosives or firearms that we would expect should it have been a attempted terrorist attack. It would seem that it was an unfortunate accident where the drug smuggler was caught in a security check not intended for him and attempted escape in a moment of panic. In the Singaporean term, he was suay.

What I don't understand, however, is why some people like the admins at the All Singapore Stuff Facebook would want to sensationalise the entire incident, posting up headlines that question the police motives and to fit it to their anti-government agenda. Screenshots copied below:



After realising that the picture only showed one bullet hole, they went and change the headline, but without first acknowledging the "riddle the car with bullets" line.


We may be calling for more freedom of speech from the government and telling them that we can be trusted, but when people go and do stuff like this, it is really hard to justify our demands. After all, how can we expect the government to trust that we are mature enough if all that we're looking to do is to stir trouble and be mischievous? Where no matter what the government does, our sole aim is to blame the government and pull them down? 

I am sure if the police officers didn't shoot, the captions would be somewhere along the line of criticising the police officers as well, asking that why they are so coward not to shoot and what happens if the driver is indeed carrying a ton of explosives in the car. Of course, with the government being the government, the more you push them into a corner, the more they will clamp up and refuse dialogue. In the end both sides lose.

But I suppose the page like ASS is not looking for dialogue but hits instead. This is not the first time the page called ASS (not sure if they named it on purpose) have posted articles with such agenda-laden headline though. Their posts are usually really anti-foreigner, akin to what The Real Singapore used to do. Heck, if you ask me, they may be very well TRS's spawn. Just look at how they caption and hashtag a video from Hong Kong.


The modus operandi is really similar. Stir animosity and ill-feelings towards other groups for the sole sake of creating trouble, without suggesting concrete solutions or raising legitimate issues. Just capitalise on the ground unhappiness and fan the flames. The saddest thing is that usually it's the controversial stuff that sells.

Some people just want to watch the world burn, don't you think? 


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Where's my bow? - Trapped.SG review


I have my fair share of Escape Rooms by now, but I am always game for new challenges when they pop up. I enjoy a good brainteaser and puzzle solving, and there's a certain sense of accomplishment when you're able to “escape” from the games. I happily said yes to Trapped.SG when they invited me to try out one of their new rooms in Bugis and brought my housemates with me, hoping to conquer yet another escape room (actually I have never really completed any escape rooms, contributing mostly to the failure rates).

The room that we tried was called Hunger Games, which you guessed it, was based on the Hunger Games series. The story goes that Katniss was in hiding, we had to find her bow in "her house" and deliver it to her in one hour's time, or the evil President Snow will kill us all. Something like that. If you have always wanted to be part of the Hunger Games universe, this is your chance.

One thing that I liked about the game was the amount of details put into the game to make it as real as possible, rather than just going into a random room to solve whatever puzzles that you can find. The designers of the room tried to tie as much narrative into the set to make the game immersive — there were “writings” from the characters that tell their story — that make you feel as if you're one of the characters of the story. They did spell Katniss as Catniss though, which I suspect may have been an attempt to hide her true identity from President Snow.


The rooms were well designed with a lot of props that add to the authenticity of the game, though sometimes it may get a little confusing when you're desperate. As usual, the game proved to be well beyond our capabilities and before we knew it, we were already asking for clues just 10 minutes into the game. Note to self: If you're going to an escape room that is inspired by a popular story, be sure to know the characters' name well enough.

Despite our constant calls for help, the staff who helped us, I think her name is Hendra, was kind and patient enough to guide us through the puzzles whenever we got stuck, which is embarrassingly quite often. Despite that, we did manage to escape the room before the time limit, thanks to Sir Victor Goh Alot who has magic fingers with locks (he credits it to his NS experience) without exhausting our lifelines. Like the first time in my life.

Okay lah, must admit that we had quite a lot of help during the second stage of the game where Hendra literally walked us through the puzzles, which I must say was quite confusing — as there were two layers of puzzle built unto one — and may need someone with an IQ of 150 to be able to spot the solutions. Also, one of the clues were hidden in a dimly lit area that we would have no idea to look if was not for Hendra pointing it out. I guess that's part of the challenge in escape rooms. And hey, challenge completed!

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It was an evening of fun and if you happen to be in the Arab Street area, do check Trapped.sg out. The pricing is quite affordable — around 24++ SGD — and the rooms were interesting and challenging. Worth the price. The most important part is that the staff are friendly, I remember going to one escape room where every staff was like a sour grape, which makes the experience much more enjoyable. There are several other different rooms as well, so be sure to check them out at their website: trapped.sg.

TRAPPED @ *SCAPE
2 Orchard Link #02-20/21/22 (S) 237978
6636 9722

TRAPPED @ KAMPUNG GLAM 
42 Kandahar Street (S) 198896 (near Arab Street)
6292 2177


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