Indocafe Coffeemix

This is the advertisement on the back of the JetStar inflight magazine.

Some people would never drink instant coffee at any time, but I am fairly confident that even people who really like instant coffee would never drink it while inline skating.

Congratulations, nameless graphic designer. The ad is certainly eye-catching. Baffling, but also definitely eye-catching.

Singapore Changi Airport T1 Cactus Garden

When you think of Singapore, you don’t think of cacti, and an airport is pretty much the opposite of a garden, right? Yet Changi Airport boasts a cactus garden.

How do cacti even survive outdoors in Singapore? My guess is they’ve worked out the right kind of soil to drain water away from the plants, but what do I know. My thumbs are about as green as a fire engine.

Below are 10 photos I took of the cactus garden at Changi Terminal 1 while waiting for the gate to open for our flight to Phnom Penh.

Don’t make fun of the “wildlife” tag on this post. Obviously, this garden is the opposite of wild. I guess I’m just using the tag as shorthand for “plants and animals (and mushrooms, which aren’t even plants)”.

Continue reading Singapore Changi Airport T1 Cactus Garden

Mobile phones make the wait more bearable

at Westgate in Jurong East
at Westgate in Jurong East

When I first saw five people sitting on a bench in a mall staring intently at their mobile phones, totally oblivious to their surroundings, I thought: Aha! Here’s an opportunity for me to comment about the idiocy of mobile phone culture—with phones in their hands, people seem incapable of paying attention to anything else.

And then I realized: They’re all men.

Presumably they’re all waiting for their womenfolk to emerge from some nearby store. They’d be bored to tears, or they’d not have come along in the first place, if they didn’t have mobile phones to help them pass the time.

Mobile phones may make people rude in some ways, but here, they’re making these men very, very patient.

Every icloud has a silver lining?

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast is one of my four favorite Disney animated films. I love the wistfulness and bookishness of Belle, the over-the-top bluster and brawn of Gaston, and the romance that’s anything but love at first sight. The talking objects, frankly, I could do without, but the ballroom scene with its unbelievably realistic computer-generated architecture and magical blue and gold colors will never cease to be utterly breathtaking.

I don’t remember whether I saw the movie in a theater in 1991, but I know I had the VHS tape because I still do. I also have the soundtrack. I watched the relaunch with the superfluous song scene (“Human Again”) in 2002 in the IMAX Theater at Navy Pier in Chicago with my then boyfriend, now husband. I am looking forward to the 2017 live-action version with Emma Watson; I enjoyed Cinderella (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016), so I assume they won’t mess up this remake either.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/beauty-and-the-beast/id439510925

See below for some things I noticed on this rewatch, including SPOILERS, as well as what I learned from an entire DVD’s worth of Bonus Features.

Continue reading Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Republic.com by Cass Sunstein

I almost wish I’d read the summing up chapter of Republic.com rather than the whole thing. On the other hand, the benefit to be derived from exposing oneself to alternate viewpoints is what the book is about, and I wouldn’t have wanted to read it if I hadn’t been interested in the topic.

The idea is that technology increasingly allows us to filter the news we hear; thus we are in danger of losing touch with (or, worse, becoming polarized from) our fellow citizens and the very government we ought to be creating in conjunction with them. The book is a call for increased awareness of the potential problem but also for individual and private action to combat the tendency towards excessive filtering… and also for top-down policy change (regulation) coming from the government itself, if necessary.

See below for more on what I thought.

Continue reading Republic.com by Cass Sunstein

“I don’t always send snail mail…

…but when I do, I use as many old stamps as I can get my hands on.” —Mom

Here are stamps from 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2012. (Because honestly, who restocks their stationery drawer in odd-numbered years?)

Wait, hang on, that Elvis one is from 1993! We Wertses had that stamp several years before we had email!

It’s not worth anything, though; I checked. Apparently the 1993 Elvis stamp was really popular, so the US Postal service printed tons and tons of them. Which is probably (part of) why the Werts house still had some in 2016.*

The Wertses aren’t the only ones to affix ridiculous numbers of stamps to things, though. I think the Hobors still hold the record.

 


*Update: Mom says at least some of these stamps (including the Elvis one) came from me! Apparently I gave her a bunch of stamps when I left the US in 2008 and knew I would not be able to use them to mail things from Singapore.

Madagascar 3 (2012)

The cover of my DVD of Madagascar 3 features a quote that says, “Easily the best one yet!”

Do not be fooled.

It is funny from time to time, and it must have been spectacular in 3D, but it lacks emotional depth. It made a ton of money, though, unlike Rise of the Guardians, which came out in the same year, and which must have been equally spectacular in 3D, and which personally I liked a lot better.

The premise is that Alex and friends get tired of waiting for the penguins and chimps to come back from Monte Carlo and take them to NYC, so they go to Monte Carlo to look for them. However, an animal control woman who can sniff out animals like a bloodhound and who has always wanted a lion for her collection of stuffed heads starts chasing them. They escape her temporarily, but crash land before they’ve gone far. How can a group of animals move around Europe without attracting notice? By running away with the circus, which becomes an all-animal circus when the penguins and chimps buy out the owner.

The whole thing gives me the impression that some committee decided to make Cirque de Soleil, in Europe, using the Madagascar characters, plus some Europeans with funny accents, and then hastily wrote a complicated, ridiculous plot that included all of the group’s ideas, instead of all of the group’s best ideas.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Not only do kids deserve good stories, kids especially deserve good stories.

Sigh.

At least they got a good light show.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/madagascar-3-europes-most/id909794795

More thoughts, with SPOILERS, below.

Continue reading Madagascar 3 (2012)

Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)

Okay, so when I chose to see Mechanic: Resurrection at the theater, I didn’t realize it was a sequel. To a remake.

Maybe someday I’ll see The Mechanic (2011) and The Mechanic (1972). I’m not in any huge hurry, though. This movie was clever but a bit bloody for me. Plus, bald-with-stubble is not exactly my preferred kind of action hero.

The premise is that a highly skilled assassin is blackmailed, by means of a rather shallow-seeming relationship with a lovely woman (who herself has been blackmailed, by means of some orphans in Cambodia) into doing some dirty work for a criminal boss guy. He is given three targets spread out around the world and some really really tight time constraints, and told that, as usual, the kills must look like accidents. Much cleverness and death ensues. I liked the resolution of the conflict, though the conclusion felt a bit tacked on.

Given what a male-centric kind of plot it was (it is an action movie, after all), I was impressed with how much the untrained woman tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to resist her kidnappers. She also managed to communicate a helpful clue to her rescuer. Moreover, she didn’t come across as an overly exaggerated Strong Female Character like Jane in the recent Tarzan movie.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/mechanic-resurrection/id1142118992

The Infiltrator (2016)

I expected The Infiltrator to have more tension, violence, and fear than it actually did. At the heart of the movie is (the real-life story of) a friendship betrayed; the core of this movie is not danger, or even justice or remorse, but sadness. I wasn’t expecting that.

They picked the perfect actor for the role; here you have Bryan Cranston again transforming (albeit temporarily) from a mild-mannered husband to an absolutely driven liar, imposter, and corrupt kind of dude (you know, like he did in Breaking Bad).

The deadly game that the character Robert Mazur plays is reminiscent of the antics seen in Catch Me If You Can (2002), only the consequences of exposure aren’t jail, they’re much, much worse. Bob is in the car when a contact he was meeting with is shot dead and the car flips over. So it’s not as if there’s no fear, no tension, and no violence at all.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-infiltrator/id1133650155

Keep reading for a detailed plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading The Infiltrator (2016)