The Nightmare Before Christmas 怪誕城之夜

The Nightmare Before Christimas 如果在萬聖節想看套應節的電影﹐但又不喜歡過度血腥驚嚇的恐怖片﹐就很適合看這套萬聖節為主題的「怪誕城之夜」。這套電影是鬼才導演Tim Burton的作品﹐採用停格動畫方式拍攝﹐劇中角色大唱音樂劇﹐是套很另類風格的作品。這電影自從93年上映以來﹐已經吸引無數忠心影迷支持﹐成為一代cult片的經典。不少人更瘋狂收集造型趣怪的劇中角色的商品﹐真的不可以小看這電影的魔力。

這套電影是個很簡單的童話故事。話說有一個萬聖節鎮﹐居民每天都忙著準備慶祝萬聖節。有一年萬聖節狂歡過後﹐南瓜王傑克對年年也過相同的萬聖節感到厭倦。他在森林漫步散心時﹐無意中闖進了聖誕節鎮﹐被那兒聖誕節的歡樂氣氛吸引。於是他回到萬聖節鎮﹐總動員所有居民準備慶祝聖誕節。萬聖節鎮中各人忙著給小朋友做禮物﹐古怪博士給傑克做骷髏鹿車﹐科學怪人美女給傑克縫製聖誕老人的紅衣。傑克還把真的聖誕老人綁架了﹐在聖誕節前夕冒充聖誕老人﹐四週圍去給小朋友派禮物。結果如何大家可以想像得到﹐當然是搞出了一個混合萬聖節與聖誕節的怪胎節日﹐譜天同慶變成了譜天同嚇﹗

「怪誕城之夜」是音樂劇﹐戲中的配樂和演唱固然十分精彩﹐電影原聲大碟更加是百聽不厭。本該很恐怖的萬聖節角色﹐如吸血彊屍﹐人狼﹐科學怪人﹐在停格動畫的鏡頭中﹐卻變成很可愛很生動的得意公仔。故事的劇本沒有刻意的瘋狂搞笑﹐只是在微細的地方讓觀眾會心微笑﹐整套電影讓人看得很舒服。今天萬聖節檔期﹐迪士尼推出「怪誕城之夜」的IMAX立體版﹐很可惜在溫哥華沒有上映。這套電影是少數值得一看再看﹐看罷再三回味的好電影。

Textbook

School has started for almost 2 months, the textbook for my course has finally arrived in mail today.  Textbook selling in the university bookstore is ridiculously expensive.  A new paper back textbook is selling for $120, a well beaten used copy with lots highlight and dog ears is selling for $80.  For the same textbook, I can find a new one online for $70 including shipping.  It is obvious any reasonable man will order textbook online instead of getting rip off by the bookstore. 

Well… everything comes at a price.  In the university bookstore, you go home with the textbook in your hand.  In a online store, you have to wait patiently for the textbook arrive in snail mail.  The online book store, abebooks, I usually buy from is pretty reliable on delivery.  Somehow they screw up my order this time, the book never arrive, probably lost in mail.  So I have to cancel the original order and order a new one.  I end up having no textbook for almost 2 months.  Luckily a kind hearted classmate let me photocopy her textbook for the assigned readings.  I can also read some sections of the textbook on Google books.  I should order the textbook before school starts next time, so it will arrive on time.

Thank You for Smoking 吸煙無罪

Thank You for Smoking 零五年上映的「吸煙無罪」雖然獲提名金球獎﹐但沒有大明星坐陣沒有強力宣傳﹐只是一套叫好不叫座的小成本製作。這套影卻是近年我看過最好笑的諷刺喜劇﹐風格與Nicoles Cage的「軍火之王」(Lord of Wars)相似﹐但在黑色幽默中沒有如後者般叫人沉重。這電影改篇自Chistopher Buckley的同名小說﹐主角是在華府替煙草商工作的說客。這套電影並不是鼓吹觀眾吸煙﹐事實上電影中一個吸煙鏡頭也沒有。

電影是藉著主角的觀點﹐對過份政治正確的反吸煙文化﹐與在美國政壇無孔不入說客﹐作出一針見血的諷刺﹐以及各大五十大板的批判。戲中不乏精警扺死的名句﹐觀眾在笑聲過後﹐總不免要思考一下﹐究竟我們的政治生態出了什麼問題。不論是支持或反對吸煙雙方﹐每個言論獨立來看好像言之有理﹐但把左右光譜政客的言論﹐與他們在前後發表的言論﹐放在一起看﹐總是覺得有點不對勁。什麼地方不對勁總是說不上來﹐不過這並不緊要﹐反正人民的記憶是短暫﹐只要能通過今天的政治議題﹐明天的政治議題又新的開始。

故事是講述主角日常的說客工作﹐ 他四處替煙草公司說項﹐左右民意反對政府立法禁煙。開場時在電視上跟禁煙支持者辯論﹐妙語連珠扭轉觀眾的視線﹐肺癌少年也可以用來為煙草商作正面宣傳﹐不禁令人拍案叫絕。劇情上半部是一個連一個的小故事﹐無不幽默地玩盡觀眾對政治說客的偏見。主角和兩位好朋友不常有午餐會﹐分別是替槍械生產商和釀酒商作說客﹐每次見面一定有讓觀眾捧腹的黑色吐嘈。他們戲稱自己是死亡商人集團﹐還會拿三個行業導致的死亡人數比較﹐看看誰更加邪惡。主角會飛去荷里活與電影商開會﹐想點子讓煙草商讚助在片中大賣廣告﹐挑動荷里活電影過份商業化的神經。到了加洲順道去探萬寶路牛仔﹐用錢叫他封口不要向傳媒訴說自己患肺癌。當然財大氣粗地用錢撻人不會有用﹐主角動之以情說之以理的游說技巧﹐簡直如魔鬼般看透對方的內心慾望。

電影後劇情半部高潮起﹐主角給反吸煙恐怖份子綁架﹐給當記者的女朋友出賣﹐給變態禁煙議員窮追猛打﹐事業從重高處直跌入谷底。最後一場戲主角昂然步入國會聽證會﹐替香煙包裝不應加上恐怖照片辯護。主角一一化解來自禁煙陣營的攻擊﹐避開吸煙對身體有害的爭議﹐把禁煙教育的責任從香煙包裝轉回學校與家長身上。最後禁煙議員刻意刁難﹐既然主角為煙草商辯護﹐那他會不會讓兒子吸煙。明顯的答案是兒子年紀還少﹐讓未成年人吸煙是犯法的。禁煙議員再窮追猛打﹐問主角當兒子成年生日那天會不會鼓勵他吸煙。主角的絕妙回答容我賣個關子﹐只說他最後憑著急智口材反敗為勝﹐重拾失去的事業和尊嚴。

另條一貫終穿全劇的主線是主角與他兒子關係的轉變。 兒子最初不諒解父親的工作﹐受離婚母親的影響﹐認為父親替無良奸商工作的壞。到最後兒子鼓勵父親重新振作﹐以說客踏上國會聽證會替辯無可辯的煙草商作辯的為榮。主角與兒子的幾場劇﹐對白簡直是針針到肉﹐令觀眾思想與眼界大開。用小孩子也聽到的言語﹐把說客的工作與技巧解釋清楚。他把說客比喻為替死囚辯護的律師﹐就算是邪惡商人也應該有答辯的權利﹐況且是不是邪惡還不一定有定論。在兒子學校的家長日中﹐老師請家長介紹自己的工作﹐他在三言兩語間為小孩子反洗腦﹐用父母不許小朋友吃朱古力作為例子﹐讓孩子質疑禁煙份子常常說吸煙不好的說話﹐絕對他是三寸不難之舌的神乎其技。

最經典是他教導兒子身為說客的辯論技巧﹐用辯論朱古力與雲呢拿雪榚那味道好吃作例子﹐示範正確的辯論技巧可以讓自己永遠立於不敗之地。每一個政治人物也應該熟讀這場戲﹐政治辯論根本不需要說服對方﹐辯論最終目的是讓旁觀的第三者認同你的說法。只需要把自己立場方在對手的對立面﹐然後指出對方的錯處擊倒對手。拋出大道理來轉移視線﹐避開自己立場的弱點﹐絕大部份旁觀者(選民)就會覺得你所說的是正確﹐並不會深究其實就算他是錯也不等於你就是對。

香港政壇充斥著大大小小的政治化粧師(spin doctor)﹐我無意批評他們是對或是錯。他們把民意轉來轉去﹐其實與美國政壇的說客同出一轍。在成熟的民主政治中﹐這些人是政治生態中不可缺少的一環﹐可以說是必需邪惡(necessary evil)的存在。只是香港的政治化粧師的化粧技巧實在太差﹐不但不能影響民意還常常越幫越忙。本著敬業樂業做好一份工的精神﹐請他們向「吸煙無罪」取經﹐向美國的說客虛心學習。我也明白政治上無可避免有需要左右民意﹐不過請那些政治化粧師不要當我們選民是白痴。爭取我們民意可要多動些腦筋﹐才能夠說服(或欺騙)我們去支持你們啊﹗

Laetitia Daguenel

I am never a fan of any sport super stars. I don’t understand why anyone crazy about some strangers playing sport somewhere far away. What is the fun of watching other people play sports on TV? Isn’t it much more fun to play the game yourself? Why would people waste time, energy and money to follow sport stars? Finally I may have a glimpse into the mind of sport fans because I think I have became a fan of Laetitia Daguenel. Laetitia Daguenel is born in France, 18 years old and she is the IPSC world champion. Here is a video of her on youtube.

三枝國旗與三本護照

3 Flags

平日我很少行街買野﹐今天心血來潮去逛街看看﹐給我發現一間買國旗的專門店。這個專門店售買世界各國的國旗﹐百多個國家任君選擇﹐大中小不同尺寸也有。大慨主要買給這兒舉行的國際性會議作裝飾用﹐又或者買給中學生作地理功課。當然還有些像我這樣的散客﹐移民來加拿大定居﹐對出生地始終懷有一份感情﹐買支國旗支持一下祖國。三支細旗連旗座才不過十五塊錢﹐是既便宜又好看的裝飾品。最重要這三支旗﹐加拿大﹐香港﹐英國﹐對我有很特別的意義﹐因為我擁有這三個國家的護照。

加拿大在北美﹐英國在歐洲﹐香港在亞洲﹐三個不同的國家﹐三本不同的護照。大慨世界上擁有三重國藉的人應該不太多。香港是我出生的地方﹐加拿大是我現在生活的地方﹐擁有這雙重國藉很理所當然。我連到英國旅行也沒有去過﹐卻從父親那邊遺傳了本英國護照。加拿大護照去歐洲不用簽証﹐可見的將來又不會去歐盟做工﹐拿了本英國護照也不知有什麼用。除了講笑遇上恐怖份子劫機﹐可以看看對方是那路人馬﹐就拿出那本照護出來救饒。

別人知道我拿著三個國藉﹐總會有些人問我這個老掉牙的問題。若果所屬國家開戰﹐我會向那個國家效忠呢﹖其實這個問題帶有誤導成份﹐暗示上世紀國家主義的舊思維模式﹐人民需要無條件地向國家效忠。國家不一定永遠是對﹐當國家做錯時﹐人民就不應盲目的支持。國家發動戰爭是否合乎公義﹐也許每個人的看法有不同﹐但只要跟從良心﹐總可以找到自己應該要支持的那一方。沒有理由先選定一個國家﹐然後不論這個國家如何不仁不義也要誓死支持。當然世界政治很多時分不清黑與白﹐就算不講仁義道德只談功利﹐支持對自己有利益關係的國家﹐也不是個很艱難的決擇。

以前在網絡討論世局政事時﹐因為我這三重國藉的身份﹐給內地憤青罵過為三姓家奴。三姓家奴這個典故出自三國演義的呂布﹐除了自己生父外﹐先後拜丁原和董卓為義父﹐而最後呂布背叛殺掉丁董二人。在崇尚愚忠愚考的儒家文化中﹐三姓家奴原本是個貶義詞。但看漫畫「火鳳燎原」如何把現代思想套用在三國時代﹐呂布先殺丁原再殺董卓﹐正是有勇有謀機智過人的表現﹐不拘泥於迂腐的儒家禮教﹐是真正做大事的人。 國家主義是十八世紀的舊思想﹐在二十一世紀的今天已不合時宜。我們不應該再拘泥於國家這一個觀念﹐應該拋開地圖上人畫出來的國界﹐這樣才能放眼全球看清楚國際關係的轉變。

很多只擁有一個國藉的人﹐在談論全球化的問題時﹐往往受到國家主義的思想框框所限。因為他們別無選擇﹐他們對國家投射很強烈的感情。下意識地對國家和文化有自衛性反應﹐感情曚蔽了理性﹐讓他們看不清楚國家和文化中潛在的問題。若果能夠跳出自己國家和文化的層面﹐以地球公民的身份去權衡利害輕重﹐對全球化與本土主義的事情﹐就會有完全不同的看法。就算出國放洋喝過鹹水的人﹐思想上也許吸收多少外國文化﹐但骨子裏還是崇拜國家主義。夏蟲不可語冰﹐很難要求只擁有單一國藉的人﹐理解擁有多重國藉的全球視野。沒有多重國藉的人﹐只會高談闊論的講愛國﹐因為國家就是他們的一切。手持多重國藉的人﹐反過來會質疑愛國這一個慨念﹐用普世價值去衡量這個國家是否值得去愛。

 

Coconut Vitasoy

Coconut Vitasoy I love Vitasoy.  It is my favorite drink since I was a little kid.  Soya milk is healthier than soft drink and it taste good.  Over the years, Vitasoy has grown from having only two favors, the original and malt, to over a dozen of favors.  When I was doing my grocery shopping, I saw the new coconut flavor Vistasoy in supermarket.  I decided to buy a pack and give it a try.  I think the coconut Vitasoy is too sweet.  The coconut favor doesn’t taste quite natural, it seems come from artificial favor.  I will stick with the original or the malt favor Vitasoy.  Just like Coca-cola, the original Vitasoy always taste the best.  People drinking Vitasoy not because they want to stimulate their taste bub.  On contrary, they just want to recall the familiar taste, nothing less, nothing more.

The Gun Digest Book of the Glock – Patrick Sweeney

Gun Digest Glock 科技發展一日千里﹐但手槍在過去百多年間變化不大。大部份槍廠生產的手槍﹐依舊源用二十世紀初的基本設計。在槍械的歷史中﹐手槍不單是自衛武器﹐還是一件工藝品。每一枝出廠的手槍也需要槍匠悉心調較﹐才能發揮出有效的準確性和可靠性。半自動手槍保養麻煩﹐容易發生卡彈毛病﹐因此不少人寧可放棄上彈快的優點﹐
選擇簡單可靠的左輪手槍作為配槍。這情況終於在八十年代給澳地利的新進槍廠Glock打破了。Glock為手槍生產帶來革命性的改變﹐等同福特車廠對生產汽車一般地劃時代。

Glock原本只為澳地利軍方供應軍刀鏟子等戶外用品的小公司。八十年代澳地利軍方需要替換二次大戰以來﹐一直源用至今的舊款手槍﹐向不同槍廠招標。Glock看準一直以來各大槍廠手槍生產品質參差的問題﹐開發一枝採用全新的設計慨念的手槍。Glock引入工業標準化的生產線﹐改用塑膠合成物料生產槍身﹐確保每一件出廠的手槍部件尺寸完全相同﹐省卻槍匠調校手槍的最後裝組工序。Glock手槍不單成功奪取澳地利軍方的合約﹐更因為可靠耐用價錢合理﹐火力與準確度擁有的優秀平衡﹐迅速取代左輪手槍﹐成為世界各地警方的標準配槍。Glock亦廣受民間射擊運動愛好者歡迎﹐成為眾多射擊比賽健兒的首選槍械。當然由工廠大量生產的手槍﹐始終不能比媲槍匠精心打造的手槍。一枝Glock的價錢只需三分一﹐原廠開盒不需調較馬上可以使用﹐因此成為很多射擊初心者購買的第一枝手槍。

Gun Digest是美國最大的槍械雜誌出版商﹐它出版一系列的槍械書藉﹐是射擊界中甚有份量的刊物。這本the Gun Digest Book of Glock可以說是Glock的百科全書﹐內容包括Glock系列的發展歷史﹐槍械構造大解剖﹐進階保養DIY﹐不同口徑Glock與其他廠同級手槍的大比拼。書中除了有關原廠手槍的資料外﹐還大量升級配件的文章。從槍袋﹐彈匣﹐激光瞄準器﹐低後座力槍管﹐比賽專用改裝部件也有詳細介紹。這本書對於非槍械愛好者來說﹐用容無疑是太過艱深。我雖略懂槍械﹐起初看時也頗為吃力。不過從書中學懂的槍械知識十分有用﹐比起網上東拉西扯的免費資訊更有系統﹐閱讀起來很容易消化學習吸引。這本書是每個Glock的擁有者也應該閱讀的指定讀物。買槍不同買名牌時裝﹐不能盲目地的追捧潮流人買我又買﹐必需要清楚知道自己買了什麼﹐才是一個負責任的消費者。

Marriage PREP

Today is the last class of the 7 weeks long marriage PREP course and I have learned a lot from it.  Every Catholic couple has to take the marriage PREP course in order to have a Catholic wedding.  The Catholic church run this program to prepare the couple for the marriage life, as a mean to fight the raising divorce rate.  The course is very practical, with useful tips on communication techniques, financial planning, family consulting, etc.  Since the course is run by the church, it slips a couple boring talks by a priest on the role of God in marriage, which is kinda expected.  The course is run by the church after all.

I found the talk about marriage as a sacrament is quite interesting.  It talks about the theological meaning in the union of man and woman.  It also talks about trivial knowledge in the cannon law relate to marriage.  Other than informative talks, the course invited couples that have been married for years to share about their experience with us.  It is good to see how marriage work in other family and draw reference form their stories.

Take aside the useless religion stuffs, the course itself is very useful, I highly recommend it to all engaged couples. The increasing divorce rate is quite alarming, almost half of the marriages ended in divorce in Canada.  In sociology, family is one of the four major social institutes that builds the society.  Failure in the family institute will make the society less stable and hinder long term economic growth.  If people have to do a driving test in order to get a driving license.  Why can’t the government make everyone take some kind of marriage PREP course in order to get their wedding license?

History of Religion

5000 years of religion conflicts in 90 seconds

History of Religion

After seeing the flash movie, one thing is quite obvious.  The religions of the west, Judaism, Christianity and Muslim get into a lot more conflicts than the religions of the east, Hinduism and Buddhism.  I think it is due to the violent nature and the conquer all mentality of monotheism religions. Maybe there will be world peace if everyone simply convert to Buddhism.

Level 1 firearm training

Firearm training level 1

This weekend I attended the level 1 firearm training. I was a little bit cold feet last week, wondering why would I want to learn how to shoot a handgun. Isn’t shooting seems so easy on TV, anyone can just pick up the gun, point it at the target, pull the trigger and bang right on. I did quite well shooting the rifle on my own, just learn from the tips by the old folks in the shooting range. I could spend the tuition on ammos and get some more practice. In the end, I am glad that I took the class. Shooting a handgun require more delicate skill than shooting a than rifle. Shooting is like playing golf, it is all about muscle memory. If you have some bad habits when you first start shooting, it will be a lot of extra work to get rid of the bad habits.

The shooting school, Silvercore, trains armor car guards and associates with the police academy, so their instructors are top notched. Day one is the classroom module. We revise the safety rules, learn how to hold the pistol and practice dry fire on disarmed firearms. The right way to hold a gun is using the push-pull method. You use the left fingers pull the grip of the gun against your right palm. You should only feel pressure on the front and the back of the grip. If you squeeze the grip too hard with your right fingers, the gun will start to wiggle. You may able to hold the gun stable, but a bad trigger pull make ruin your aim at the final moment. We learned a cool drill to smoothen the trigger pull. Put a penny on top of the gun, pull the trigger and try to keep the penny from falling off. Then we practice with laser bullet that fire a red dot to see how well we aim. We also played a “state of the art” shooting simulator, which is just a computer game bundled with a laser gun. Day one is a bit boring, but learn the basics is necessary.

Real fun begins in day two. We have a whole day of non-stop shooting. We start off with practicing all three shooting positions. The weave position is the most common way to hold a gun 00in TV. One elbow bends sideway, the other bends downward. I don’t quite like the weaver position, is kind unnatural. The isosceles position is the most stable position and the easiest to shoot Both arms holding straight like a zombie. It is useful but it doesn’t look cool. I prefer the chapman position. Step back on one foot, shooting arm lock straight and the supporting elbow bends slight outward. In the afternoon, we also shooting with left hand and using only one hand. To my surprise, shooting from the weak hand doesn’t make a big difference. As long as you remember always to place both of your thumbs one the same side of the gun. If you forget and cross the thumb behind the gun, you will have a very bad thumb bite when the slider slides back when ejecting the empty shell.

We begin to shoot from 2 yards. I though that could be easy, but I still manage to fail hitting the bulls eye from 2 yards away. I tend to drop the gun slightly when I pull the trigger, so all of my shoots are too low. This is a very common mistake of all new shooters. I anticipate the recoil, so I try to compensate the upward movement by pointing downward. I should pretend the gun has no recoil when pulling the trigger, just let the recoil surprise me. Later in the day, we move back to 5 yards, then to 10 yards, as we are getting more and more accurate. We also practice flash shooting and double taps. In flash shooting you don’t have time to align the sights, just point your thumb to target and pull the trigger. Double taps is shooting two rounds back to back. A firm grip with good stance makes a big difference. The force of the recoil should push back the gun and transfer most of the force to you body instead of making the gun points upward. So you can aim the second shot with less distraction form the recoil.

At the end of the class, we have the a shooting test, which is a simplified version of the annual firearm examination of the Vancouver police. We have to fire 50 rounds while moving progressively from 2 yards to 20 yards. The police has to score 45 out of 50 to qualify for carrying a gun on duty. My score is 34, not too bad for a first day shooter. The instructors said two weeks of intensive practice should bring most people up to the standard. I am looking forward to take the level 2 training. For the mean time, just like every other sports, the only way to improve me skill is to practice.