Open your heart

I’ve had to work much harder than this
For something I want don’t try to resist me

Open your heart to me, baby
I hold the lock and you hold the key
Open your heart to me, darlin’
I’ll give you love if you, you turn the key


If I were to have a dance icon, Madonna it would be. Thank God I ain’t Catholic. She’s such a fabulous songwriter and dancer. Who can thrust those hips like that, driving men crazy? Lots of hidden meanings between the lines. Here’s a suggestion to Spotify to add this into their bedroom jams playlist 😀

Transitions

I had not been very regular at the young adults ministry in my church for a couple of reasons.

The place is chock full of girls, women, dressed to the nines to attract the handful of guys present. Very few guys are present, indeed. And out of these few guys, only a fraction of them are worth a second take. Yeah. How boring can it get, spending every other Friday night at a place that does no justice to your relationship status.

Well, actually, that one reason is major enough make you decide to skip service. But recently, I’ve gotten closer to the Lord due to a myriad of circumstances which are kinda lengthy to explain. So, I’ve decided to give church another shot and listen with an attentive heart.

Surprisingly, it was as if the message had been specially tailored for me everytime I went. To my situation, my season, and I have always left feeling recharged and renewed, on a spiritual high.

As for a life partner, I guess I will have to join the massive marriage market on dating apps, and see where fate takes me. I had this conversation with an ex-prof, and we were on the topic of dating. So I was rather adamant that finding love had a lot to do with luck, to which he retorted with an analogy- If you don’t buy TOTO, you can’t complain that you never strike cos you never will. Very true. I used to think that dating apps were the final destination of the single, desperate and ugly, which made me rather  hesitant to put my picture out there floating around with the rungs of the unwanted. However, increasingly, many of my friends are using these apps, and they have gotten attached to relatively attractive, cool guys. Cooler than the average church dude actually. Time to dump those preconceived ideas of mine and start finding love the 21st century way.

Absolutely Blooming by Dior

Have you ever bought a bottle of perfume and got bored by the scent well before finishing it? Well, to meet the whims of my short attention span, I think it’s more cost effective to buy designer perfume in mini 5 ml vials, the miniature version of the exact usual-sized ones you see at Sephora or department stores.

So I wandered down the alleys of Lucky Plaza to hunt for the shops that sells these vials at the cheapest pries. Finally somewhere you can put these haggling skills to good use, when you thought it was a passe housewife trait confined to the exchanges with wet market butchers and fishmongers.

I really love the flora, sophisticated scent of Absolutely Blooming by Dior. It also has a slight hint of sweetness, that makes my Kenzo Flower pale in comparison. Very feminine, very sexy, yet professional. Something you can wear to a boardroom meeting with your LBD and updo for that extra enchantment, without being judged for trying too hard.

So here’s my little vial perched on top of my laptop. Very proud of my little prize. You can expect me to wear this till something else captivated my olfactory faculties.

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Also, while roaming around Sephora, I chanced upon Laura Mercier lipstick, and one of the shades that caught my eye was the Palm Beach one. Perfect for everyday wear, a cross between coral and pink. Perfect for fickle people who cannot pick between the two shades. Very moisturizing, and the color has staying power. Also another shade I’ll be seen in for the next few months.

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Nah these ain’t my lips, but they look close 😉

 

 

Design thinking

Ecosystem thinking has become an integral in product design today. We don’t just work along the linear train of thought to make a product marketable to a consumer; it involves considering the various entities that affect the consumer’s decision, and how the product fits into the whole web/ecosystem revolving around a consumer. For instance, how it leverages of other factors in the ecosystem of services/products to gain its way into a consumer’s home. Traditional business models in most organisations still remain horizontal in nature. While the horizontal model still works to reach a consumer, it’s probably good to rethink this in light of today’s economic landscape and the fact that no product exists in silo, but it’s marketability is determined by a host of other factors.

In the drive to make accurate decisions on product design quickly, useful data patterns are holy grail, in a world flooded with information. We’ve heard of instances of wiretapping by governments to obtain civilian data, but for businesses, getting accurate data through receptors in the community is especially important. There must be meaning in data, if not it’s just contributing to noise and complication. In the quest to design objects that meet consumer needs, we need to look into the crystal ball of data algorithms for answers. A mishmash of the Engineering and Design fields results. Speaking of which, the Singapore University of Design and Technology seems to be a really exciting place to learn how to solve real-world problems with engineering technology, translating into practical designs. Universities that overemphasize on academics are becoming passe. Also, businesses these days cannot be compartmentalized into a fixed discipline/line. For instance, Apple is a music/ hardware/technology company? Confining disciplines to strictly ‘Computer Engineering’ or ‘ Art and Design’, may not be relevant  in the changing business context. However that being said, companies still value candidates with solid skills in their major discipline.

Also, we see the advent of Singapore start-ups trying to emulate Silicon Valley, having creative working spaces, a warrior mentality to boot- horsepower to last 16 hours straight on coding. Some people wonder if Asians are just experts at copying their American counterparts. Taking a step back, considering our cultural differences, would it be better to allow our start-up culture to develop organically in the local context, rather than conforming to the American model which may not necessarily suit an Asian country whose education system had been so deeply rooted in rote learning? But in reality, Singapore wants finished products quick without hassle. To bypass the usual time required for an organic start-up culture to develop, copying may be the way to go for now, rather that researching on a business model that is original and innately beneficial in the local context.

Many people have lamented that AI may one day usurp jobs, leaving behind a catastrophe of mass unemployment. However, at the present moment, AI capabilities are limited to monitoring trends on the ground and keeping humans informed; sure, they could do jobs that involve a combination of fixed patterns, i.e. drafting contract laws. Decision-making or forming improbable connections, at the moment, seems confined to the realm of human thinking faculties.

la la land

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How would you feel if you saw someone walking in the dream you had for yourself, holding the hand of the girl you had always dreamed to spend the rest of your life with, and he walks away with her into the future? And the last memory of her would be that longing back glance and wistful smile before she made her way? I guess life could have a funny way of spurning your story in ways you would not have imagined, leading you to marry the man who’s there at the right time when things are supposed to happen (provided he’s decently attractive), than the man whom you loved with all your heart at the wrong time.

I started listening to the film’s soundtrack on Spotify before watching it (City of Stars is playing in my head as I write this), and jazz never fails to move me with its poignancy and richness; its classic date night music that has the power to transport you away from the oxymoron of mundaneness and mayhem of modern life, giving you a touch of 1960s America, when people had the time to date properly, when a guy would bring you out for dinner and watch big band jazz. Ryan Gosling is ever so dapper in his Canadian slur and sleepy smile, and Emma Stone with her bug-eyed gaze has an interesting seductive charm I can’t really put my finger to. They make an amazing partnership onscreen. Personally, I love theatre. I can imagine the pain involved in the dream of making to Hollywood. It’s akin to some arrival into the promised land of milk and honey, where the line between success and failure is that thin, between living from paycheque to the next, wondering when would your next break would be. Or walking down glitter-studded red carpets and having cameras flashing in your face every so often, that you’re looking for a way to beat them like a fugitive.

I am aware that film plots are fictional and scriptwriters have a wonderful knack for giving life to stories, but I cannot help but pine for that kind of organic, unmechanical kind of romance that unfolds. No, not the Korean drama kind that involves some rich spoilt brat and a silly blur girl with the whole world at their disposal, but the kind of love that is open to whatever that comes, and lets go when it’s time to. It’s so beautiful to knowing that something could happen out of nothing because it was given the free space to bloom; nothing forced or overtly planned. Maybe it’s just a figment of my imagination, that’s why I like this film so much; there’s a punny play on the title as well. Perhaps how it all happened, or could have happened if things worked out, are in the realm of la la land.

My Life as a Courgette

I usually don’t give animation films the same regard as the regular kind, partly because I am a feeling person, and I need to look into the character’s eyes to their soul to feel the exact timbre of that tinge of sadness/wistfulness, or that flicker of excitement dancing in his iris. Therefore, animation has always resided in the cutesy realm, not to be taken too seriously or used to detail sombre subject matter. My Life as a Courgette, breaks the rules by employing cutesy characters to depict complex subject matter like family dysfunction and abandonment of children. However so, with its feel-good happy ending, watching this film is a nice way to end off a wintery year, especially in the days leading up to Christmas.

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Little Courgette gets sent to an orphanage by a police officer following the death of his parents. He gets holed up with a bunch of other kids who get sent there because of dysfunctional families. There, he meets a special girl, Camille, and a magical bond is forged between the two. Camille’s aunt, a witch in her own words, decides to take her back forcefully, as France provides child support funds for her to raise Camille up. The kids in the orphanage devise an elaborate plan to thwart the wicked aunt’s plans to take Camille away, and Courgette and Camille eventually return to each other’s company again. To sum up the feel-good factor, the police officer, whose own son had abandoned him, decided to take in Courgette and Camille as his own. The film ends off with the police officer marking Courgette’s and Camille’s height on a wall, with their names tagged, to commemorate the day they moved into their new home, and found true family.

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The animated effects are pretty cute; the characters have huge billiard-ball-lookalike eyes, oversized heads, and speak French in hushed tones. There are cute interpretations of innuendo jokes made by the kids, a reflection of their experimental phase, with descriptions of sex like ‘his willy exploded into flames’, ‘she starts sweating a lot and goes oui, oui, oui, oui , and stops after a while’. I thought the snowball fights and disco parties during a vacation planned for the kids were heart-warming bonding times.

While this film may not reflect the actual state of the French welfare/ foster care system, it does reveal a graciousness of the French society toward children from marginalised or dysfunctional families. Kids in orphanages have access to decent education, meals, and even time-out such as vacation. Elitism exists across societal strata, and the more fortunate naturally have a better headstart in life. However, it would be a shame to dismiss someone’s potential, because they were not given the chance/born into less favourable circumstances. It seems like Western societies have that innate moral stand to ‘leave no child behind’, which impacts societal cohesion in the long term, for a happier well-integrated society that values civil rights.

24th Israeli Film Festival – Firebirds

It makes me happy for some odd reason, to be in the company of the sons and daughters of Jacob, at the Israeli Film Festival held at the Projector. Lots of warm banter, wine, thick Israeli accents, and the unison of chortles when when an inside joke unfolds in the film.

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Firebirds

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This film derives its title from the second most commonly done tattoo in the world, after the most common one: notoriously ubiquitous number code inked on condemned Jews destined for the gas chambers. Bearers of that cursed mark recollect their miracle of survival with regular gatherings to celebrate their escape. Surprisingly, this club of survivors forged together by the common horror of the Holocaust, has outsiders seeking membership. A broke old bloke who messed up his life with creditors seeks to discard his old identity, taking on a bogus identity of a Jewish refugee. His elaborate plan of surviving his remaining days include scanning through obituaries of Holocaust survivors, and crashing their funeral services to offer support to their grieving widows, claiming that he had known the deceased back in the concentration camps. What he looks for: lonely hearts and a fat bank account.  Ugly and pathetic as this bogus Romek Stein is, he manages to upkeep his facade as a Holocaust survivor, making his sneaky way into the hearts of two old ladies (also Holocaust survivors), and eventually their pockets. He even got himself a fake Auschwitz number code tattoo to back up his tapestry of lies. Ironically, the tattoo artist is pro-Nazi, and accepts odd requests like Auschwitz code tattoos for a hefty price. Anyway, what an accomplishment for a broke pointless man to snag flings with a Vocalist and an ex-surgeon.

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Romek trying his seduction tatics on the surgeon

During a face off with his two lovers, he tries to take his own life by plunging a blade into his chest twice. The third lady who plays the Vocalist’s assistant, clearly disgusted by the old man’s flirtatious and conning antics, finishes the job by cutting into his aorta and the leading man from whole drama, for the time being.

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Face off

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Amnon with his ex wife

Detective Amnon, who was charged to solve the case against his wishes, added the cool-guy factor with his dry humor,  attitude, and his fuzziness displayed to his little girl. His laid back attitude toward life and his dogged insistence to solve the case draws attention to the effect of the Holocaust in a Jew’s life. For instance, tapping into his estranged wife’s contacts to search for legit Holocaust survivors, clocking late nights scouring through Holocaust survivors linked to the case. On his laidback side, he helps his daughter tape a video account of his mother’s Holocaust experience, to which he rolls his eyes at his mother’s tongue-in-cheek fictional version, with unicorns and rainbows in the story. I could almost feel him scoffing at the murder victim for devising such despicable means, capitalizing on macabre events of the Holocaust, to get money. In addition, that reluctance to accompany his mum on boring theatre shows, late payments for child support to his ex wife, and that standoffish attitude to his demanding boss, lends an edge to his character. He has an interesting wit to join the dots and connect seemingly disparate points into a complete puzzle, sadly only lacking the evidence to prosecute 3 shrewd old women who cleaned up their tracks so artfully, without a sliver of a trace left. What could have resulted in a turnaround in Amnon’s lackluster career was wasted, and the animosity still lingers when he crosses path with the old surgeon lady, months later, at a Holocaust reunion night he attends with his mum. The thorns in their eyes, with the feisty waltz music in the background, strikes an amusing discordance.

It’s also interesting to note that the human desire for attention and flirting does not decrease with age. Some of the more intimate scenes did leave me cringing. It has nothing to do with being ageist, but rather, the disgust at Romek’s rottenness and scheming. The sagging skin and and loose chunks of flesh clinging onto bones only amplifies that grossness.

You weren’t born to just pay bills and die, you must suffer a lot.

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Dark humor amidst dark times. Can’t imagine I’m posting such stuff on my birthday. As time goes on, I realised how imperfect life can get, and I wonder how my parents made it through. Respect. Detours, valleys, uncertainty, disappointment. Just now when I was taking a walk in the park, it suddenly dawned upon me that I had made it through 25 years on this crazy planet. I mean, I could have died in a car crash or given up on life, but here I am, alive and breathing, walking into the future after braving massive storms. I think I deserve a standing ovation for having made it thus far. Happy blessed birthday, Stephanie, I love you. One day you’ll look back and understand, that perhaps, everything had happened for a purpose.