Two short gay films: Nessun Dorma and Ageless

I was scrolling through Yahoo News! Singapore, and came across a link to a short gay film called Nessun Dorma (2012). It’s Filipino and in Tagalog, with English subtitles. I loved it. It’s so well done. For a three-minute show, you get a well-encapsulated story of heartbreak, intimate and raw but not painfully over-dramatic, and two actors who are not only hot but talented, carrying the story convincingly. I was very entertained by this short story by writer Ronald Genato and director Jedd Rommel. And did I mention it was all of three minutes?! Stunning.

*

Nessun Dorma put me in the mood for more so I moved on to YouTube to check out some other short gay films there. Some good, some not so. One I really like is Ageless (2013), written and directed by Heath Daniels.

It’s a sweet, funny story that had me smiling throughout. I was also going “damn, those two gentlemen look good” at the older couple of Charles and Howard. I mean they’re in such great shape. How old are they supposed to depict? 50s, 60s? I hope I’ll look good like that if I get to that age.

At the end of the credits, it flashed ‘Shot entirely on the iPhone 5‘ which of course was amazing to me. I hardly ever use my phone to take basic photographs, let alone with those fancy filters you see online. In fact I hardly ever use my phone for anything other than phonecalls. I don’t even like to text. So this Daniel Heath shooting an entire short film on a phone… I find that impressive.

*

Related:

  • Vimeo.com – Other works by Jedd Rommel available for viewing
  • Youtube.com – Heath Daniels’ channel

Basic Chicken Soup from marthastewart.com

Chicken soup cooked 3rd Jan 2015

My partner has the flu real bad these past couple of days. I wanted to cook some chicken soup for him as a nice surprise to cheer up the poor guy. Most of the time it’s him cooking for us. I’m not very good in the kitchen, which is why I’m only inspired to cook like maybe once or twice a year. Basically the interest just isn’t there.

So I felt relieved to quickly find some chicken soup recipes that seemed really simple when I googled just that: ‘simple chicken soup‘. And they require so few ingredients to buy too which is a nice bonus. Chicken, carrots and celery. That’s it. The rest is just onions, garlic and salt, stuff we tend to already have at home.

I chose to try a recipe from Martha Stewart’s website. It even has an accompanying video as the recipe was demonstrated on Martha’s show by Sarah Carey, Food Editor of Martha Stewart Living. It was simple enough to follow on its own, but the interesting video featured was a welcomed bonus.

Click here for the link to the recipe.

*

We both loved it. It was so delicious. And of course I loved that it was so easy even for me. I definitely want to make this soup over and over again.

Notes:

  • Part of why it’s such a breeze to make is that there is no separate stock to make. I loved that I didn’t have to use any bouillon cube for flavour. The soup was already so rich and tasty from the chicken and the vegetables, especially the thinly sliced onions. Four whole cups! That’s a lot of onion to me, but mmmm it made the taste of the soup so lovely.
  • And not a single drop of olive oil or any other oil either. The oil from the fat of the meat and the skin is enough. Update 4th January: In fact Bert just mentioned it was a bit too oily for him in his condition, with his coughing and all (ooops!). So next time until he gets better, I’ll remove whatever fat and all the skin except on the wings.
  • I used 3 carrots instead of six as stated in the recipe, since it’s just the two of us.
  • I took about one and a half hours to make this soup. More than an hour of that was just leaving the soup to simmer, partially covered.

You’re the one that I want, covered by Lo-Fang

There are many things I love about the gorgeous film Australian director Baz Luhrmann did for Chanel, starring Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen. Most of all is the rendition of the beloved You’re The One That I Want from the 1978 movie Grease. The haunting cover is by American singer Matthew Jordan Hemerlein, better known by his stage name Lo-Fang.

I will forever love the original as sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, but Lo-Fang’s lush treatment propels it to another swooningly glorious dimension. He took it to a stunningly unexpected direction, and what blossomed from the effort is a sparkling beauty that taps gently at your heart and quietly asks for a hug.

*

I had seen the Chanel film some time ago, was enamoured by the music and meant to note it here but didn’t at the time. Recently, (okay fine, at work this afternoon when I was supposed to be working) I was led to it again when I was browsing through Buzzfeed and came across this post, which introduced me to the name of the leading man. Watching it again I was reminded that besides the music, the suave and oh-so-sexy leading man with the Javier Bardem vibe was another thing that made me go ‘mmm, nice‘.

His name is Michiel Huisman, a Dutchman. He’s only 33. I thought he looked older in the film. Must be the beard. Which adds up to why I think he’s so sizzlingly hot since I tend to find mature men more attractive. Among the shows the actor has worked in are several popular television series including Nashville and Game of Thrones.

tumblr_ndhnjegrh01sffuv1o4_500

Michiel Huisman, in a still from the video. Image from the tumblr site Daily Michiel Huisman. Click to go there.

*

And here is of course the charismatic original version of You’re The One That I Want.

*

Related:

Cat delivers his verdict on Mac & Cheese: ‘Oh yum! Oh my God!’

I must have watched this short clip ten times, cackling away. I first saw it on tastefully offensive. It’s so funny. I have a black cat too and he is quite a character as well. Dog (the cat in the video is called dog) is so adorable.

I’m not crazy or anything (no, just kidding, I am crazy) but I swear I heard:

  1. Ohhh yum!
  2. Ohhh my god!
  3. Ohhhhhhh…….. YUMMM!!!
  4. Ohh my god
  5. Ohh my god
  6. Oh yeah!

And then he turned and gave a verbal hi-five to the kitchen cabinet before swaggering away. Probably ‘hell, yeah!‘, or ‘hell, yum!‘ or something.

***

I’m reminded of one of the stray cats who we fed and who came and went as they pleased, a neurotic little thing we called Marco. We wanted to adopt him as he was such a sweet creature, and we felt sorry for him and protective of him as he was such a nervous wreck. One of those restless lone rangers who didn’t quite get along with the other strays (I can relate to that haha).

DSCN1996_01

Now who couldn’t love that sweet derpy face? Marco at his preferred point of entrance and exit: the kitchen window.

But he just refused to be homed and would wail to be released back outside. I guess the bond just wasn’t there because he was already a grown adult when he came to us, and not as a kitten. I think I read somewhere you have up to 10 weeks for a newborn kitten to know you and get used to you, otherwise they’ll never have a bond with you and be totally comfortable with you. Or something!

Anyway, Marco continued to come and go for a few more months, until he disappeared for good, and that’s when I really wished I had tried harder to keep him. I was worried sick. He seemed like such a fragile thing and I was sure something bad had happened to him, the poor guy.

DSCN4342_01

Like Dog, Marco was a very ‘appreciative’ eater (read: noisy) which always cracked us up. God I really miss him. It’s been probably close to ten years, but I still remember him well. He left quite the mark in my heart.

 

 

When giving in to pressure ruins innocent lives

Pressure from family and society. Coupled with one’s own shame.

I was thinking of this subject, gay men who not only deceive themselves, but innocent women into marrying them to uphold an image, after I watched this heartbreakingly sweet video by Doug Locke for his song This Could Be Us.

Of course, my interpretation of the video is only mine.

The song is great too.

***

Doug’s video reminded me of another one with a related theme, for a Malay-language song called Bukan Wanita Sempurna (Not a Perfect Woman) by the massively talented Malaysian singer Ning Baizura. It was released in January this year.

I first saw it a few months later but didn’t feel like noting it here even though I thought it was groundbreaking in terms of storyline, because the execution was pretty bad and cheesy. I just cringed at some parts of it. It’s too bad because I adore her. Ning’s voice and delivery is really something special, and as a performer she just stands out to her fans.

This video is an example why. For more than twenty years now as an artiste, she has always been known for her originality and uniqueness, so I’m not surprised that she’s the one who rises to the occasion to tackle this subject that is considered very sensitive for many in her audience including Malay-Muslims. Because it’s so radical is why I wish the end result was far better, to do the noble intention justice.

I do like the spoken words featured in the beginning, setting the tone for what’s in store.

(Love is a commitment

To always be honest

To be able to accept all flaws)

There is a very beautifully sensitive and compelling review of this video by Pang Khee Teik, an arts programme director who is also co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka. It’s more than just a review, it’s a profound analysis which I would be so flattered by if I was the producer or director of the video. Click here to read.

***

Please note: I think it’s heinous for a gay man to involve and hurt innocent people like wives and children just because he wants to hide his homosexuality, whether due to pressure from family and society or whatever else, especially if he goes on to have affairs with other men behind his wife’s back. And especially in today’s society where there is enough freedom where you don’t have to resort to such extremes.

Having said that, I wouldn’t condemn anyone. Everyone has his own personal story. For example, not all gay men discover they are gay in their teens or twenties, but later in life. So some of those who marry women may discover they are gay or bisexual only after they have done so.

***

Related:

Depressing signs

I’m putting here pictures of three that I came across and snapped in the past few weeks.

***

The first one below was taken at Ikea, and it just cracked me up when I saw it.

DSCN4262_01

DSCN4261_01

Probably laughed way more than I should, but I was just so tickled by it. I was thinking, why the hell is such a sign necessary? Why would anyone think that a toilet bowl in a showroom is a functioning one, and why would anyone there want to use one in the open in the first place?

Then I thought, ahh okay, it’s for those crazy parents/grandparents of young kids who I’ve seen before letting the kids relieve themselves in public, like into a drain. And hey, these days, even in Singapore it’s not just the kids anymore, going by the stories in the links below.

So, yes, that sign (complete with acrylic sheet covering the whole toilet opening so nobody can insist on peeing or shitting into it! haha!) in Ikea is sensible, I guess. I shudder to think if such signs were originally brought on by any smelly messy incidents, whether in Singapore or in any of their hundreds of stores elsewhere in the world. Eeww. Poor cleaner.

***

DSCN4350_01

A blogger I follow, Laura of Texas on Thames, who is an expat in Singapore, featured a similar Crime Alert sign in a post just recently where she wrote about staying attentive in Singapore even though we have a low crime rate. I was just commenting on her post about how such signs seem to be appearing with more frequency, which is worrying.

So when I came across this yet another new one just last week or so, it’s such a bummer. I mean, these signs themselves are great because they serve such an important purpose, but at the same time when they start to seem more common to me, it does seem to point to an increase in crime, generally. And, ugh, ‘obscene act‘. What is that, like a flasher? How rude. My sympathies to the victim, and I hope the authorities apprehend the offender soon. I think usually I see the alert for ‘shoplifting‘ or ‘housebreaking‘ or something like that.

By the way, this Crime Alert sign was placed outside Botanic Gardens MRT Station, Exit A. (for if by any chance anyone reading this was at the time and place and saw something,)

***

The third sign I snapped made me sad too. It was captured on a public bus.

“No assault on bus captain.”

(Perhaps for another post on another day, but by the way why are bus drivers in Singapore called bus captains? To give the occupation a fancy name? If so, why? And would that mean we look down on bus drivers, so much that we need to give them a fancier sounding name, to make the job look better? I just think that would be friggin’ ridiculous. Driving a bus is not just an honest and decent living, but honorable. The safety and lives of hundreds of passengers are in your hands every single day.)

DSCN4278_01

There must have been some ugly incidents for the bus company to deem such a sign necessary, and the thought is just depressing.

Just a couple of weeks after I saw the sign above and wondered about it, I read about how in Penang, Malaysia last week, a bus driver was stabbed by a female passenger, for not acceding to her request to stop by the roadside. Please be warned that the photo of the victim contained in the following linked article is graphic, showing blood: Rapid Penang bus driver stabbed by a passenger.

Damn. Imagine being attacked and injured so seriously, but as the driver you still need to think for everyone’s safety, so you have to struggle to stop the bus safely even as you’re struggling to fight off your assailant.

Looks like Malaysia should follow Singapore’s example and put up “No assault on bus driver” signs to remind passengers to control their temper if riled up by the drivers, if they haven’t put up such signs already. How bloody screwed up, that all these signs are necessary.

***

Update 17 October 2014: Related: Unemployed man jailed for punching bus driver (Stomp.com.sg – 15 October 2014)

Of burning down houses or keeping lovers warm

I really like this spoken poetry thing, or spoken word, rather. Well at least the bunch of videos I’ve been watching earlier this evening, one after another. Maybe I came across the art form before, I don’t remember, but a post from Gaybros led me to the following video featuring this gentleman named G.Yamazawa.

He just blew me away. It’s almost painful to hear his words, yet I’ve watched it a few times now.

I’ve felt a phrase fall out of my mouth like an atom bomb without knowing the effects will radiate for years.

I wish I can say I’ve only been the recipient of such atom bombs. It’s always better to be hurt than to hurt. But I know that, just as I’ve been hurt, over the years I too have said some awful things to some people I wish I can take back but of course I can’t.

***

Another one I really enjoyed, because I can relate to it as well, is the following featuring Kevin Yang.

***

He’s ready for his close-up

A few days ago, I was browsing through Stomp, a Singapore ‘online journalism web portal‘, and came across a hilarious Thai ad for Watsons, a health and beauty retail chain with many stores in some Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

This is not the first creative ad from Thailand I’ve enjoyed. I think I have come across quite a few so far.

This one promotes their beauty products, and it just cracked me up. I like it a lot. It’s funny thanks to the cute, impish actor who was perfectly cast for his role.

 

Down With Love (2003)

This post is part of ‘The Essential 60s Blogathon‘ hosted by Nuwan of the blog I follow No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen, which I’m delighted to take part in. I love both movies in general and those set in that decade. The music too. Fashion, art, interior decor. Fascinating stuff.

First I had to decide on the movie, and I wasn’t sure which I had seen that qualified. I looked through several Wiki pages related to films set in the 60s. I spotted Little Shop of Horrors (1986) in one list. That’s one of my favourite musical films, which I had actually already written about a bit here. I finally decided on the romantic comedy Down With Love. Seeing the title put a smile on my face as I remembered how much fun it was.

***

A fun, fluffy chick flick that had me tittering merrily because it’s such entertaining silly fun. Set in New York City in 1962, and starring Renée Zellweger as writer Barbara Novak and Ewan McGregor as journalist Catcher Block, this movie pays homage to Hollywood romantic comedies of the early 1960s, like the movies of Rock Hudson and Doris Day such as the much-loved Pillow Talk.

Barbara Novak arrives in New York City to promote her book ‘Down With Love’ at a publishing house, a self-help that persuades women that they don’t need men and that they should be as free as men are to enjoy sex without commitments. The male executives at the publishing house refuse to publish her work. Barbara’s editor Vicki Hiller (played by Sarah Paulson, more recently seen in the TV series American Horror Story) decides Barbara could ask Catcher Block, a journalist and notorious playboy, to help her promote the book. Catcher, however, is too busy with his conquests and keeps postponing their meeting, infuriating Barbara.

Barbara and Vicki manage to get the book published without his help (but with Judy Garland‘s! More on that later.), and it becomes a worldwide bestseller. Catcher is now intrigued by Barbara and wants to meet her, but now it is she who blows him off. When Barbara proceeds to embarrass him on television by naming him as an example of ‘the worst kind of man‘ while discussing a chapter from her book, Catcher vows revenge. He intends to prove that Barbara doesn’t really believe what she preaches in her book, by making her fall for him. Taking advantage of the fact that they have not met and she does not know what he looks like, Catcher poses as a simple and sweet gentleman to woo her.

***

I absolutely love the 60s aesthetics, especially the interior design but also the entire look and feel of the style. The production sets of the apartments and offices are delightful, especially the nifty James Bond-esque elements of Catcher Block’s apartment so suited to his playboy character. The magnificent visual spectacle is one of the aspects of this movie that entertain me most.

Another main draw is the performances by all four actors; the two leads and two main supporting actors, the abovementioned Sarah Paulson as well as David Hyde Pierce, whose best-known work I think is as Dr. Niles Crane from the TV series Frasier which I really enjoyed. Here he plays a similar executive-type role, as Catcher Block’s boss and best friend Peter McMannus. It was fun watching these actors take on the script and comic acting style of romantic comedies from the 60s, in keeping with the spirit of the genre from the era.

Ewan McGregor is an absolute joy to watch here, as he usually is in any movie. An incredibly talented actor who has taken on so many varied roles, his Catcher Block is all cheeky smiles and charmingly wicked. It’s a more boyish portrayal of a ladies-man compared to the more manly quality of Rock Hudson’s roles, and a charismatic performance I enjoyed very much. He has great chemistry with Renée Zellweger too. At the end of this entertaining battle of the sexes, there is an unexpected twist, delivered in an impressively long speech in one take, in a sweetly ditzy way that I can’t imagine any actress other than Renée pulling off, all breathless and squinty eyes and all. Her adorable performance here is really under-rated.

As is the whole movie. Down With Love is not very well-known, I believe, and it did not perform very well at the box office when it was released in 2003, which to me is a great shame. It was something ‘new’ and interesting; an unconventional, smart and stylish offering in the romantic comedy genre. It still is.

Below is a video of Judy Garland singing a song called ‘Down With Love’ in 1964 for an episode of her The Judy Garland Show. A captivating performance that was cleverly scripted into the 2003 movie as a promotional event for Barbara Novak’s book which led to its global success.

***

Related:

***

The Essential 60s Blogathon_Easy rider

This Ramadan, I was taught kindness and forgiveness by a Catholic.

Ramadan is coming to a close. I was thinking of this holy month. Of what it means to me. If I had learnt anything more of myself from it this year. I even typed ‘spirit of Ramadan‘ online, hoping to read posts of what that means to other Muslims. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that without a doubt, the most impact an individual has personally had on me this Ramadan is Mr. Sim Siak Heong, who is a Malaysian Chinese and a Catholic. Through his actual actions. Not just words, or prayer, or advice but through actual deed.

67-year-old Mr. Sim was the victim of a terrible road bully incident earlier this month, where he had accidentally hit the new Peugeot car of 30-year-old Siti Fairrah in a car park in Kuantan, Malaysia. She not only got out the car and heaped abuse on him like some crazy thug, and demanded cash on the spot, but hit his car repeatedly with a steering lock.

Thankfully it was recorded on video. It was very painful for me to watch the video as I can’t help but feel really bad as a Malay and a Muslim. I also felt angry that a senior citizen was abused so badly. I actually had to pause the video several times and considered closing the page, but I forced myself to watch it till the end. I am glad for the existence of the video recording. I look at it as a valuable lesson and reminder of what can happen if I experience rage at someone but fail to control it and rein it in.

Each time I watch the video, I am reminded yet again of how lacking my character is compared to Mr. Sim’s. Because he forgave her, but as for me I don’t know if I could, if it had happened to me, or worse, a loved one especially an elder relative of Mr. Sim’s age. And amazingly, not only did he forgive her, he expressed sadness when she was subsequently charged and punished by the courts, saying that she did not deserve the punishment. I read in this article that he said:

“I feel sorry for her. She doesn’t deserve it at all.”

“I have forgiven her and I urge the public to do the same. There is no need to condemn her anymore.”

I hope the person who took the video pats him or herself on the back for doing such an important public service. It’s because of the video, which understandably outraged a lot of people, that the police pursued the case. Siti Fairrah was fined RM5,000 and ordered to do 240 hours of community work after she pleaded guilty to intentionally causing damage to Mr. Sim’s car.

Kudos to the Malaysian police as well for still going ahead and taking action against her despite the saintly Mr. Sim declining to lodge a report, even when the police advised him to do so. And to the general Malaysian public online regardless of race and religion who condemned the road rage incident. And yes, to Siti Fairrah as well, for admitting what she did was wrong and for apologising to Mr. Sim publicly.

***

I’d like to put here an excerpt from a beautiful post I came across on a site called Islamway.net, as I was surfing around online finding and reading what ‘spirit of Ramadan‘ means to other people.

Ramadan is a celebration of God’s guidance to humanity, through the Quran, which is a guide for doing good and a warning against evil. In order to bring the soul into harmony with the Quranic ideals of belief and virtue, fasting is prescribed as a way for individuals to come closer to God and to lift their souls to new heights of piety. In doing so, the entire human body is able to transform itself into an agent of positive moral and social change that seeks to replace miserliness with generosity, anger with patience, revenge with love, and war with peace—in effect, replacing good with evil in the world.

Of course, kindness and forgiveness are for all times, not just Ramadan, but I feel that’s when we Muslims, as we fast, are more reminded to think and do more for the lesser off and to reflect on our character.

When I say ‘spirit of Ramadan‘, I am also referring to virtues like patience and calm that Mr. Sim had displayed when confronted with such an ugly face of road rage, and the provocation it challenged him with.

I think it’s such a beautiful thing when we are taught these virtues from people of other religious faiths or even people with no religious faith as well. It reminds us that there must be mutual respect. Because at the end of the day, life comes down to treating everyone else the same way we ourselves wish to be treated. That sounds so easy and logical, it sounds so easy to remember, yet strangely and unfortunately it’s apparently so easy for some of us to forget.

***

hqdefault

I can’t seem to find a decent photo of Mr. Sim. This one is taken from a still of a video. From forum.lowyat.net, via Google Image. Click to go there.

The following video is the Astro Awani interview of Mr. Sim from where the image above was from. It’s in Malay.

http://youtu.be/ti_Ch8ITkyc

I just sighed in sadness when I watched it. Damn, what a terrible thing to have happened to such a kind soul.

***

“I am a Catholic. In our religion, and in all religions, it teaches us to love the ones who wrong us.”

 – Sim Siak Heong

Thank you, Mr. Sim.

***

Related: