Death Race: Inferno (2013)

The other two Death Race movies had satisfying plots. This movie had what could have been a satisfying plot, but somehow it fell short. It just wasn’t really particularly clear what was happening or why, so it was hard to care about the characters and events. Moreover, the dialog was amazingly boring. Take away the drama, and it’s just cars and blood and death. Yuck.

The premise is that the moneymaking prison death race management company gets forcibly bought out by a first class jerk, who tells star driver Frankenstein that he in fact cannot win his freedom from prison by winning a fifth race as promised and that instead he is obliged to travel the world to compete and lose to attract fans across the globe.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/death-race-3-inferno/id576172893

SPOILERS BELOW.

Continue reading Death Race: Inferno (2013)

Accepted (2006)

I had never seen Accepted until yesterday, but even without seeing it, I knew how it was going to go. It’s basically Camp Nowhere (1994) with older kids. And yet, it’s not: it’s a critique of traditional higher education in America. And it’s got Justin “I’m a Mac” Long in it, who’s in Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) as well as Live Free or Die Hard (2007), which I didn’t like.

The premise is that a guy who didn’t get into college rents an abandoned mental hospital and invents a college, which then attracts other ‘rejects’ by means of its all-too-functional fake website. South Harmon Institute of Technology (SHIT) turns out to be the best thing that happened to any of them: they’re finally ‘accepted’.

The two key words—‘shit’, with its endless potential for humor, and ‘accepted’, which conveys a wistful longing for belonging—together perfectly encapsulate the movie’s spirit. The producers are Tom Shadyac and  Michael Bostick, those responsible for the enjoyable Jim Carrey comedies Liar Liar (1997) and Bruce  Almighty (2003).

https://itunes.apple.com/mn/movie/accepted-2006/id860430263

SPOILERS BELOW.

Continue reading Accepted (2006)

Transitive and phrasal verbs and taxis

The word ‘alight’ didn’t used to really be part of my vocabulary, probably because in the US we had a car and we drove ourselves everywhere we couldn’t walk or fly. In Singapore we use buses, trains and taxis to get around. So now I hear automated announcements that say something like:

The next stop is XXX interchange. Passengers traveling to YYY, please alight at the next station.

Please allow passengers to alight before boarding.

That’s all very well and good. I have nothing against the verb ‘alight’. I don’t think there’s necessarily a better word to use, if you want an expression more formal than ‘get off (or out of) the vehicle’.

No, what amuses me is when ‘alight’ is used transitively to mean ‘drop someone off’. Or when someone means ‘drop you off’ and only says ‘drop you’.

May I alight you here?

May I drop you here?

I don’t think it’s just taxi drivers who use ‘drop’ to mean ‘drop off’, though. I think non-Singaporean native English speakers say that too, don’t we?

This is language evolution in progress. Why shouldn’t any verb be able to take an object? Why shouldn’t we just kill off—I mean, um, kill—all those pesky phrasal verbs? Maybe this is the future.

Bangkok (March 2016)

Below are two dozen photos of a weekend trip to Bangkok. We stayed in Chinatown, tolerated the inevitable traffic, ate good Chinese and Thai food, visited the Suan Pakkad Palace Museum and window-shopped.

Out the window, I glimpsed a Ronald McDonald statue making the traditional Thai greeting (pressing his hands together); a business sign saying “Creative Accounting” that my husband finds particularly amusing; and a mural depicting two aliens in a lotus pond, one of whom looks like a wookie and is holding a popscicle (?!).

Fortunately, I spotted the alien mural while we were at a stoplight and took a photo, so you can see it, too. (The longer you look at it, the weirder it gets.)

Continue reading Bangkok (March 2016)

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha is a rambling quest for enlightenment with many mistakes and revelations along the way. It’s a classic, but it’s not really my kind of thing.

You can get it free from Gutenberg, but I would recommend buying it so that you get the benefit of a good translation.

When and why I read it

I wanted to download something free from Gutenberg to read on my Kindle while on a trip to Bangkok. This book was recommended to me by a neighbor in New Jersey several years ago.

Genre: fiction (literature & classics); religion and spirituality
Date started / date finished: 05-Mar-16 to 05-Mar-16
Length: 98 pages
Originally published in: 1922 in German
Amazon link: Siddhartha
Gutenberg link: Siddhartha

“Related” books

  • Buddhism Explained by Laurence-Khantipalo Mills
  • I have at least one other book on Buddhism…

Two Works by Oscar Wilde

I enjoyed the Importance of Being Earnest as much because now I don’t feel left out whenever I encounter a cultural reference to it as because it’s funny. It’s a story of deception, mistaken identity and revelation told in the form of a play. Now I really want to see the movie, starring Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon and Judi Dench!

I did not enjoy The Happy Prince and Other Tales. The stories are morbid and depressing as well as extremely moralistic (spoilers below).

Continue reading Two Works by Oscar Wilde

Telling Lies by Paul Ekman

Paul Ekman’s Telling Lies is a serious, important work in the field of psychology. It’s readable by a lay audience, but it’s not hawking ‘ten simple FBI tricks that anyone can use to detect lies at home and at work’. In fact, the answer Ekman gives as to whether a certain behavior is a clue to lying is always: it depends. There are as many ways to lie as there are people, and as many ways to tell the truth. Furthermore, as you may have guessed from watching spies outwit them in movies, even polygraphs are not reliable lie detectors. Turns out—surprise!—people are complicated.

Continue reading to find out more about Ekman’s approach and findings, what I thought of the book, what I learned about lying, and what else I’ve read on the subject.

Continue reading Telling Lies by Paul Ekman

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

Do not be turned off by the hard-sell marketing that surrounds every one of Edward de Bono’s books. Just because he over-touts his own work doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

It may even be that he only repeats variations on the same ideas in all his other books (which he periodically refers to). Having read only one of the many, I can say that there is at least one set of good ideas.

I’d seen the books for sale here and there and read a bit about them online, so I was really looking forward to reading about the thinking hats. I was not disappointed. It’s worth reading the entire short book rather than relying on information about the hats that’s available online.

To find out more about the hat system and why it’s cool, continue reading.

Continue reading Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This work of speculative fiction tells the story of an alternative present-day reality or near future in which the US government has been supplanted by an oppressive religious regime. Fertility rates are down. In the new Republic of Gilead, women have lost their independence. Some are assigned to deserving soldiers as wives, domestic servants or econo-wives while others are forced into prostitution or are made into handmaids—women who will symbolically bear children on behalf of the wives.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a controversial work. It is studied in American high schools, but some parents feel that its sexual scenes are inappropriate for teenagers. Others complain about the negative depiction of Christianity. I would say that it’s a book that, like many others, will not be fully understood by teenagers but is nevertheless well worth reading and pondering.

For more on the plot and themes, continue reading.

Continue reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood