Last March 8, I went on a free hugs day together with my friends from CouchSurfing. Despite the valiant efforts of Mall Of Asia's security to shoo us away from the bayside area, we still managed to spread the love. People of all ages, shapes, gender and even nationalities volunteered to be hugged, and well so did we. The smiles on their faces were truly genuine - it's this random kindness from strangers that lifts up your spirits, when you're facing the doldrums. Free Hugs is a campaign to hug people, after all, like the Beatles said, all you need is love.

Free hugs all around at Mall Of Asia

We came, we hugged and we spread the spirit. Now, can anybody suggest a nice place to spread the love next time around?

Free hugs right here!


Remember the Great Hard Drive Crash of December 2007? Not to be confused with the Crashes of January, July and August (that's how unreliable my laptop is), I had bought a backup hard drive, but it is only now I have gone to re-archive my CDs. I'm currently at 96% archived, with about some 30 more CDs to copy. I also have to recopy the audio files I burned into audio CDs back into mp3 (thank goodness I did that). I remember blogging about it some years ago (was it last year?), well, another Holy Week has arrived, and I'm doing the same thing.
Friday, March 07, 2008

I Want To Live Here

Before I move on with the rest of my life, I must blog about the wonderful experience I had in Melbourne. Contrary to the rest of the famous world cities, Melbs is not an ostentatious, in-your-face, glamorous city. But one word that I have never used to the places I've been to - it's very liveable.

It was summer, and the going was definitely easy, save for the face-painted, Aussie flag-wearing tennis hooligans that squeezed in tram ride. That's a testament to the sport-crazy home of Grand Slam tennis, F1, cricket, footy, and other sports-what-have you in the land Down Under.

I went biking, and a city that you can bike in, much less walk around with no fear of death, of rotting your lungs away sounds like a good idea to me.

Webb Bridge at the Docklands. Really interesting melting pot of architecure, art, and, well, construction.

They've got a shopping district that closes at 5pm. And yes, we will mock their "unsophisticated" (unlike here, it's rampant!) shopping schedules. Hahaha.

Same photo I found in Lonely Planet Melbourne. How interesting.

Here's the state library of Victoria. They've got a replica outside half-sunk onto the city streets.


And...the only World Heritage Site in Australia that is man-made, The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens.

Somehow, I still got to fondle a kangaroo....

ps. I stand corrected - Sydney Opera House was added just last year.
Don't judge me, but I incorrectly entered the PIN to my ATM card. No money, well, no nothing. So, it was time to catch up on the DVDs I wanted to watch. Academy Award winners, almost-rans, weepers, creepers and whatnot filled me over the weekend.

1. Atonement

Beautiful landscapes are everywhere in Atonement

It took me three days to watch the movie, dozing off every 15 minutes, but by Day Three, I was fully captivated by the arresting scenery and deviously tangled story of Joe Wright's movie. A much deserved Oscar win for Best Original Score, but what stands out is the chemistry of the leads. There is something that will draw you to a half-lusty, half-yearning Kiera Knightley when she breathes "Come back to me", and a shaken-from-rage James McAvoy bellowing "Honestly. I'm torn between throwing you down the stairs or breaking your neck." Not really a fan of the romance, nor war movies, nor period pieces, but this one stands out as a beautiful exception.

2. The Lookout

A backward solution to a bank heist...

Equal parts heist movie and recovery-from-trauma tearball, indie favorite JGL turns in another great performance as a partially disabled janitor caught in a nasty friendship. Shades of Memento, anyone?

3. Once

A musical movie that does not rouse you into song, but softly tugs at your nostalgic sensibilities

Well deserved for this year's Best Song written for a Motion Picture (both Oscars and Grammys). The awesome singing-writing-acting duo not only amazed us on their singing skills, but also on the earnestness that they showed in the film.

4. The Last King Of Scotland

It's the poster for the book! I didn't want to use the movie poster.

I am now officially a fan of Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy. Whitaker scores a homerun with a terrifying, yet magnetic portrayal of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He starts genial, warm, yet comes out childish, then into an absolute terror. It's really an eye opener to see how leaders in Africa started out.

5. Hallam Foe

No, it's not a manual, younger voyeur movie, you perv.

With Jamie Bell rescuing the acting disaster that was Jumper, I decided to catch up on his other films - have seen Billy Elliot before and it was a laudable movie, story- and performance-wise. Similar with this one, except that the story was a bit too muddy for me, and it felt that it meandered uselessly elsewhere. Anyway, the soundtrack is a treat too, so do check it out.

6. The Kite Runner

Central Asian landscapes in full glory in this movie

Is Kabul really that beautiful? It's just sad that whenever one mentions Afghanistan now, a different picture is painted. Well done movie, and while the whole ensemble is a triumph, the real tragedy is seeing a wonderful desert flower like Kabul being ransacked into a ghost town.