Undead Nuts from October 30th 2006

on Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I wish I had time to do a good post for Halloween which is one date that I look out for. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do so. instead, I have used unholy science to resurrect a dead and buried nut from 2006. Beware.......it stinks!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Spirits of the Season: Fright or Hide

(Pennywise the Clown from Steven King's "It".)

What thrills you? Gets your adrenaline up, gives you a buzz that lights up our smile and your sense of general well being. In fact it makes you feel like superman. The scientists call it the “fight or flight” response; our bodies are being prepared to fight or to run for our lives. Either way, the adrenaline tones our muscles in anticipation,
our blood rushes oxygen and we feel powerful. For some, they get this high from riding roller coasters and kamikaze rides. Not for me, I just become catatonic – completely rigid, neither capable of fight or flight, not even sound unless you count moans.

However, since it is Halloween, let us consider my other favourite way of getting thrills which is to watch horror movies or read a scary book or listen to a campfire ghost story. I call this the “fright and hide” response. This is where once again the adrenaline courses through the
body, getting the heart beat up and blood rushing but the muscles are not primed to run but to crawl under the blankets and hide. A really powerful invocation of the response is manifested by other symptoms like “tingling in the spine”, “goosebumps” and “chattering teeth”. I love it. I much prefer this than actually risking my life on a roller coaster. Horror stories is just safe entertainment with no real risk of being flung to your deaths from a roller coaster ride. After all, there are no such things as ghosts and monsters………… right? Er, right?

What makes a good horror story? I much prefer good story telling than an over reliance on mutilated bodies. Hence, I discount movies like Halloween and Scream and such slasher movies as body count movies. Most times, a couple of dead bodies can be scarier than a bus load.

Camp fire ghost stories are just great because it makes use of our imaginations which is usually far scarier that special effects. Although, I did not think that the Blair Witch Project was exceptional, it made use of simple things to great effect. Think of the sounds outside the tent, the strange arrangement of twigs, the disappearance of friends. You never see the horror but you get hints of it. Right at the end when you see the man at the corner with his feet not touching the ground; well, you knewthen you had it even though you still did not
see the horror. But you could almost touch it. Or worse, it could touch you. Brrrrr.

Perversion of innocence is another scary tool. This is where you take something sweet and innocent and turn it into evil personified. This worked well in “It.” A clown is turned into a monster with pointed teeth but he still looks like a clown all the way down to his red nose and balloon animals. If you can’t trust a clown,……. Just imagine cuddlying up to Barney and then seeing him transformed into a velociraptor. Now that’s scary. It did not work with “Chucky” because that doll looked like bad news even before he showed his demonic side. Children are also meant to be innocent and that’s why they can be very scary. In “The Ring”, we are actually led to sympathize with the girl, Samara. Oh poor little girl, how she was mistreated by her parents. Later, when we realize that the parents were actually scared of her that we feel the full impact of her evilness. Yikes.

Removing our comfort zones. Some of us have no problems watching movies about
old haunted mansions or about werewolves lose in the Everglades. Why? Because we know that nothing will ever drag us to go to a haunted mansion or camp in the Everglades. It is far away from our comfort zone. Movies on Vampires in Transylvania? No problem since the last I checked, there were no direct flights from the Kingdom of Darkness to our international airport. However, what if the horror came into our house? What if it visits in our dreams even though we are tucked in our own beds? That is the premise that made Nightmare on Elm Street so horrifying (the sequels degenerated to a body count movie). What if hell itself wanted to draw you in through the static of the TV screen as it did in Poltergeist? Yaaaaah!

I think Hollywood horror movies have lost their way of late and have acknowledged that by
copying or reproducing some of the scarier movies from Asia. The Ring, Dark Water and The Grudge are some examples. Even in the case of The Grudge, I would still recommend the Japanese version despite the fact that I am a Sarah Michelle Geller fan.

A few more that I would recommend from Asia include;
a) Shutter (2004; Thailand; The moment the hero finally understands what was happening was truly chilling.)
b) A Tale of Two Sisters (2003, Korean; Is it real or is it imagined the evil that seems to appear?)
c) One Missed Call
(2003, Japanese; Okay, not one of the top ones but I like how they use an everyday item like the handphone to rock us out of our comfort zone).

Happy halloween. Sleep well. Have pleasant dreams and watch out for your teddy bear.

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Meme from Meggie

on Monday, October 29, 2007

This is a meme and Meggie made me do it!

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night?
My wife always makes me laugh.

2. What were you doing at 0800?
Cursing the alarm clock.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Trying out Facebook.

4. What happened to you in 2006?
I grew older. Darn it!

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?
"Are you hungry?"

6. How many beverages did you have today?
Just floral tea and water today.

7. What color is your hairbrush?
If I had a hairbrush, it might be black with white tips!

8. What was the last thing you paid for?

9.Where were you last night?
I was down at the local shopping centre trying to protect terrified little old ladies from punks skating around in leotards. Or I might have been having a boring night at home.

10. What color is your front door?
Dark Brown.

11. Where do you keep your change?
I have a little soft toy in the form of a beagle that has a zip and a pouch for coins and it hangs in my car. His name is Bobby Brown.

12. What’s the weather like today?
Hot and humid with scattered showers.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?
Vanilla. It's gotta be vanilla.

14. What excites you?
Certainly not writing about what excites me.

15. Do you want to cut your hair?
No, I like it loooooong.

16. Are you over the age of 25?
I am so far over the age of 25 that.......what was the question again?

17. Do you talk a lot?

18. Do you watch the O.C.?
Nope. But my better half does.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?

20. Do you make up your own words?
No but I steal other people's made up words.

21. Are you a jealous person?
Seriously, no.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’.
Andrew. Not sure how this is any use to you.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’.
Hmmmm. Need more friends.

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list?
A work colleague.

25. What does the last text message you received say?
Sadly, that was work related as well. Hmmm. Getting a little depressed here.

26. Do you chew on your straw?
Afraid so.....when the service is slow.

7. Do you have curly hair?
Most of it is straight.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to?
Probably Thailand but again work related.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life?
Currently, my boss.

30. What was the last thing you ate?
Open face sandwich topped with fish cooked with chilli and coconut milk.

31. Will you get married in the future?
Too late. Been there, done that.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks?
I haven't seen any in the past two weeks.

33. Is there anyone you like right now?
No, I am one grumpy, grouchy grinch.

34. When was the last time you did the dishes?
Couple of days ago.

35. Are you currently depressed?
Grumpy isn't good enough?

36. Did you cry today?
Naw. Sorry to disappoint.

37. Why did you answer and post this?
Beats doing something original. Also I suspect Meggie of having underworld connections.....better safe than sorry.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey…
Those 5 already did it! Okay, here's hoping the following will play along; 1) medstudentwife , 2) Leslie , 3) Cheryl , 4) Ruth and 5) Kimber.

A Fabulous Mess

on Sunday, October 28, 2007

It has been a topsy-turvy month for me. Starting with my dad's brief illness and then his passing; all those trips to the doctors, hospital, arranging things, family and friends visiting etc. Then between that and my nephew's wedding in Australia, I was forced to do a lot at the office to clear my work before I left to attend the wedding. I was a week in Australia and then straight away on my return, off on a field trip and working right through the weekend.

During that time, the All Blacks were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup at the quarterfinal stage - which as I have mentioned before is an omen that all is not right in the world. I did not have time to post about ghost stories and Halloween. In fact, I didn't even see any horror movies which is another sign that the world isn't as it should be. Finally, I have been darn right negligent about maintaining my blog and acknowledging my fellow bloggers.

Yet, it was in the midst of this topsy - turvy milieu, that one kind and generous blogger threw some cheer into the mix in the form of an award. I apologise to Claudia that it has taken me this long to acknowledge the award and to pass it on.

Well, after this last month, I don't feel very fabulous but hey, thanks....I needed that.

Below is the definition which I have stolen from the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary.

Main Entry: fab·u·lous
Pronunciation: \ˈfa-byə-ləs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin fabulosus, from fabula
Date:15th century

1 a: resembling or suggesting a fable : of an incredible, astonishing, or exaggerated nature (fabulous wealth) b: wonderful, marvelous (had a fabulous time) 2: told in or based on fable

I would like to pass this award on to Meggie for providing us with life's free treats. I am still confused about quilting but otherwise, a visit with Meggie is often a rewarding experience as she regales us with wonderful tales and observations of people she has met both past and present. These wonderful, nay, fabulous tales, can only mean that Meggie is a fabulous people person and deserving this award.

Conquering the Bridge

on Thursday, October 25, 2007

Photocredit: Bridgeclimb
My wife is afraid of caves. As far as phobias go, this is a relatively good phobia to have. It does not interfere much with daily living. After all, few of us today need to enter a cave in daily life. I imagine she would have had a lot of trouble if she was born during the last ice-age when caves were the "in" thing but it's no inconvenience at all today. I don't get any opportunity to tease her about it cause she just steers clear of caves. Her phobia does extend to tunnels which provides the only opportunity for me to rib her a little when we drive through a long road tunnel. Strangely and sadly, when I try to convince her that shopping malls are very similar to long, covered tunnels, it has no effect on her at all.

I, on the other hand, am afraid of heights (acrophobia) and this gives my wife ample opportunities for merry-making at my expense. Invariably, I find myself trying to conquer my fear on suspension bridges, mountain gondolas, helicopters, fun fairs and mountain climbing. I would be sweating buckets to the sound of my wife's jovial and unsympathetic laughter.

One of her long time desires and my long-term source of panic is to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge. This last week, an opportunity arose and I bit the bullet and got us registered to do the climb. Well, actually, my brother got us registered for the climb and I just whimpered my agreement when he suggested it.

Ah, the things that love makes us do. Well, on the 17th of October 2007, I risked falling to my death, heart attack and/or catatonia and actually climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Now that I have done the climb, I can say with pride that it was a "piece of cake", "a walk in the park". "The 3.5 hour ordeal is nothing." you'll hear me say through clenched teeth. Why, it is a mere 503 meters long and a trifling 134 meters high at it's peak. That's a 134 meters asl. which stands for "above sea level" or as us acrophobics prefer, "above splat level".

As the tour operators will tell you, the first and last 15 minutes of the climb are the worst. You have to physically climb up on scant and shaky ladders and stairs, walk on flimsy, catwalks suspended under the bridge and over both roaring road traffic and the waters of Sydney Harbour. There's also the little bit where you have to climb up between two lanes of the busy bridge road. If you can make it this far, the rest of the climb is indeed a pleasant and exhilarating experience. Walking the arch of the bridge is a wonderful experience which is rewarded by a beautiful panorama.

I recommend going for their dusk climb. You get to see Sydney in daylight, at sunset and after twilight. Beautiful. It also makes the return trip easier as you can no longer see how far above ground that you are. A big advantage to acrophobics.

I believe that climbing the bridge has earned me some bragging rights. So, what did you do last week? Heh, heh, heh.

The Witness Protection Agency presents Mr. Jacko Lantern and Ms. Cherry

The Masked Lone Grey Squirrel and Mrs. Squirrel; "Hand over all your nuts."

Down Under Report

on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It has been a very hectic last two weeks and the madness will continue for at least another week. The net result is that my posting will be a little bit irregular for at least another 10 days. Sorry about that in advance.

I shall actually be flying back from Australia later today but here is a short summary;_
1. Faced one of my greatest fears.
2. Took part in one of the happiest occasion ever.
3. Watched my family grow and also my waistline.
4. Visited a beautiful garden and shared something with dinosaurs.
5. Having faced one of my greatest fears, I stuck out my tongue at it.

Good night Possums. play nice.

The Men in the Dame's Life

on Thursday, October 18, 2007

In my last post, I included a video clip of an amazing Australian woman, Dame Edna Everage. She recently celebrated her 50 years as a celebrity on stage and television in 2006. She has become such an icon and representative of Australia to the world that the Australians have chosen to commemorate this anniversary by placing her image on both the new fifty cent coin and on postage stamps. The city of Melbourne has even named a street after her.

Dame Edna is a widow with three children as any of her fans will tell you. However, apart from her late husband, there were three men of great significance in her life. One of them is Barry Humphries who found himself also commemorated on stamps at the same time as Dame Edna. Little is known about barry in the tabloid news as he generally tries to keep a low profile while at the same time promoting the welfare of Dame Edna.

The next man in Dame Edna's life is a big surprise. He is none other than the infamous Sir Les Patterson, the one time Australian Cultural Attache to the United Kingdom. They are like direct opposites. Where Dame Edna is sweetness and charm and everything nice, Sir Les is uncouth, chauvinistic, a drunk and a womaniser. Yet despite Dame Edna's publicly stated disike for Sir Les, they have often worked together and appeared together on talk shows.

A bigger surprise was the recent revelation by Dame Edna that she had an affair when she was very young with a mysterious Spaniard painter by the name of Pablo Picasso. She could not really explain why it happened. She was young. Perhaps she was foolish. Perhaps she pitied him because he was such a bad painter that none of his images looked at all realistic.

The biggest surprise of all for those who do not know Dame Edna well is that she and Sir Les are one and the same person as Barry Humphries. Indeed, both Dame Edna and Sir Les are his creations and he has been playing them on stage and TV for the last 50 years. Below is a clip commemorating this fantastic achievement.

Where in the World is LGS?

on Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Lone Grey Squirrel is traveling on a secret assignment. He is not in Malaysia. Your mission should you chose to accept it, is to figure out where in the world is LGS. To help you along......let's just say that this lady is a wonderful representative of her country.

One Year Old

on Sunday, October 14, 2007

With so many things happening, I missed the occasion of my 10,000 visitor and I almost missed my one year blog-anniversary. However, I started my blog on October 9th 2006. I have done 220 posts and have had almost 11,600 visits to my blog. However, these numbers mean less to me now than when I started because I have made many friends in the blogosphere and these are the real rewards of blogging.

It has been a roller coaster year for me and I thank those of you who have joined me for that ride and for your support.

Where do I go from here? I never imagined I had enough material to churn out 220 posts. I don't really know how much material I have left and how much further it will take me. I have no intention to end anytime soon but I imagine a day will come when I will stop before I scrape the bottom of the ideas bin. In the meantime, you can take the poll on my sidebar or leave a comment and I might just take up some of your suggestions.

My Father

on Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Father passed away last week after a short illness. He was 93 years old and had lived a long and happy life. I knew, of course, that I would be writing this post but I have wrestled over just how I would write it and what would I say. How does one compress 93 years in one short post? You just can’t. Instead I will just share my thoughts about him.

He was 48 years old when I was born. By then, he was already at the peak of his successful career and had already been a father to two boys and a girl. It had been 8 years since there was a baby in the house. Being the last child and coming so late in his life, I missed out on a lot about my father.

For me, he was never a hands-on type of dad and yet my brothers will tell you that he was very much like that. Their memories are full of family rides on the motorcycle and later the car. They remember him teaching them how to fly kites and the great disastrous day when they let him down and much to his chagrin, failed to hold on to the kites.

For me, he was not an affirming and encouraging dad either. Again my siblings would beg to differ and our family photo albums are full of moments captured of my father posing proudly with his children on the occasion of some academic award or other achievement. I missed out on that too as he seemed too busy with work to be involved much with my school activities and my interests.

My father was a quiet man; a man of few words. It took a long time for me to learn more about him. Most of my childhood, I knew my dad only as the successful office executive who led a conventional but unexciting middle-class life. It was only later that I learnt that early in his life, his work involved him traveling through much of the country at a time when it was certainly adventurous and not particularly safe to do so. Indeed, on one occasion he was robbed and tied to a tree in the jungle.

I never knew the man who was the life of the party, who frequented the lively night-spots or who knew all the smooth dance moves. He surprised me when he danced the cha-cha-cha at my wedding dinner. I never knew.

I believe that life is about choices. My father was not the adventurous, flamboyant playboy because he made a choice and gave it up to be a family man. He chose to be my solid, quiet, constant and dependable dad, who put his family first above all things. He provided me with a stable, happy environment to grow up in.

I know that I am like him in many ways. I am also a quiet person. Like him, I have a passion for books. Through his example, I learnt to be content in any situation. He was scrupulously honest and some of that rubbed off on me. I inherited his passion for food too, perhaps a little too much.

Many people are tempted to claim that their father was the best father in the world. I don’t see how anyone could really know that. When I think of my father and see him with through untinted glasses, I see is a man who could have been much more but who chose being a father and providing for his family as his priority. And he did this to the best of his ability.

I love you dad and I thank you for all the unspoken lessons that I learnt from your life and your example.

Dance, Dance

on Monday, October 08, 2007

Claudia seemed to think that I would have interesting stories to tell related to dancing and she tagged me to do this. Hmmmm, Claudia, I think you have been misled. Phil Collin says it all for me in the following video:

I did try to learn how to dance and took some classes in jazz dancing. I enjoyed that but luckily I didn't have to sit for any exam cause I would have failed. I struggled for weeks to learn how to do the waltz so that I could dance with my wife on our wedding day. Apart from that, my other dancing efforts could be described as being similar to Animal from the Muppets after twenty cups of coffee.

My latest effort was to try to do the traditional bamboo dance. The idea is that according to the song rhythm, the dancers are to dip their feet between the clapping bamboo poles. With correct timing, the feet are in the bamboo when they are held open and the feet are out when the bamboos are clapped. This beautiful professional dancer gets me on the stage and showed me what to do. The beat starts slowly and we get to try it out really slow. No sweat!

Photocredit: LGS

The beat picks up a little. Still no problem. You tell yourself that all you need to do is keep to the rhythm. The pace picks up. Still no problem. The pace increases. I am still doing this well. I am actually impressed with myself. This of course awakens my self doubting ego. "Who are you trying to kid? You are a klutz and will always be a klutz."

I begin to falter. The pace builds up again but this time....*WHACK* "Ouch!".....*Whack* ....Ouch! Suffice to say, the whacking picks up speed and I am soon hopping about, not to music but in pain. My dance partner tries to get me back on track but ....Whack* Whack* Whack*. The pain. The humiliation. The sound of Phil Collins singing..."I can't dance."

Nature doesn't like a dancing klutz.

Oooookay. Now is where I tag 5 others. Who might have interesting dance stories to tell? I tag geewits, eastcoastdweller, gina, jessica and mago.

Half Post, Half Mast, Full Life

on Thursday, October 04, 2007

Flags Half Mast @ York Regional Stations for Bob Smallbone
This is just a short post to mark my father's passing. After a short illness, at 6.20 pm on Wednesday the 3rd of October, he drew his last breath and peacefully went to be with the Lord. He was 93. He was alert and aware until the last moments and experienced little pain. All his children were able to come to see him before he passed on. God has indeed been gracious. The whole family will be busy with funeral arrangements for the next couple of days.

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