Thursday, November 29, 2007

Workout Journal - Personal Training Sessions

It has been almost 2 months and about 20 sessions in my current PT package that I paid for when I first signed on for my gym membership. I have to say that it has really been money well spent for me as I have begun to see improvement both physically and mentally from these sessions. No doubt that most would say that what ever you can learn with a PT, you can actually learn it for free by watching other people work out but I have come to understand how much personalized the training programs could be for the individual. Without having someone to really show you how it should be done, you might even, in the worst case scenario, hurt yourself.

My PT program started off with a little bit of this and that to help PT identify what was my strengths and weaknesses. Right off the bat, we set goals of what I wanted to get out of the session. For me it was to lose weight, gain muscle definition and learn the techniques that I could use in my own workouts. We also identified things that I am good at and what I need to improve. For me it was my stamina and recovery times which was quite good to begin with considering my level of fitness when I started. I already had be frame to support the muscle mass that I was targeting for but I had to build both definition and muscle strength.

Earlier in the program, my PT sessions focused on my learning how to use the equipments correctly and strength training to see how far I can push myself. Gradually, it moved from that to muscle building phase. My workout sessions currently are broken down to 3 components namely a cardio warm up, weight or circuit training and a cardio cool down. I used to just have an hour of PT session but the new program that my PT has designed for me at the moment makes me work for it for almost 2 hours per session. While my PT officially only has to spend 1 hour per session with me, we have an arrangement that I would start the cardio warm up session on my own and he’ll check in with me from time to time until my ‘official’ PT time slot. Cardio cool down is similarly done outside of the official PT slot but considered part of the program.

Since I can’t run worth a damn without looking like Richard Simmons being chased by a pack of lions, my cardio workouts have been mainly on the stationary bikes. I first started out on the Level 3 mark doing just manual cycling for about 20 minutes which was quite challenging for me when I began. Over time I have gone up the Level 5 mark while doing the built-in interval cycling program for 40 minutes. Intervals basically simulates cycling on along a path with different gradient hills. First 20 minutes or so wasn’t that bad but the second half of the programs consisted of me cycling 3 times with max resistance for the selected level. That’s when my legs normally would start screaming at me. To make things more interesting, I also have to maintain sprinting speed (between 100 – 115 rpm) for the last 5 minutes straight. After 2 months, I’m currently averaging about 17.5 km cycling distance and burning off between 290 – 295 calories per cardio warm up session.

After the cardio warm up, my current training plan calls for either weight or circuit training depending on the schedule. I’m currently going through between 6 to 8 different exercises with the weight stack machines per session. We currently combine exercises for a pair of muscle groups in opposite locations of the body per session so I would do chest-triceps in one session, upper back (delts)-bicep in another session and so forth. I currently have 4 combination sessions (chest-triceps, upper back (delts)-bicep, core muscles – abs and lower back, legs and shoulders) that I run through before I complete a circuit training session that hits all muscle groups and the repeat the cycle of sessions. I’m currently doing 3 sets per exercise with a reducing rep count for each set beginning with 12 reps but increasing weight load with each subsequent set. According to my PT, this will help me build the muscle mass that I want to achieve.

I’m not looking for big muscles that would make me look like someone who has to turn sideways just to walk through a doorway so I keep my weights on medium workout intensity. Just enough for me to put in an effort to lift them but not really too heavy that I get discouraged when I can’t. One thing that I have learned from working with my PT is that 9 times out of 10, I would sell myself short when it comes to how much I could do when it comes to weight training. I would tell myself that I would never be able to lift it only to find that it was just all in my head. Sure there was some amount of pain involved in getting to lift almost double what you’ve been lifting before but after the initial shock of realizing that you can actually do it, the pain was just something that I had to file away in the back of my mind as I focused on completing the reps.

Weight training or my circuit training sessions with the PT would normally last between 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how much time I take to rest between sets and exercises. That resting time has been getting less and less as the sessions progressed as my PT wants me to stay in active fat burning phase by moving quickly to the next exercise. Once that’s all done, I would return to the stationary bikes for a cardio cool down. Unlike the warm up at the beginning of the session, I usually set my cool down for 20 minutes cycling on flat terrain on a Level 2 setting. To make things a little more challenging, I set a goal of burning off 100 calories and maintaining a constant sprinting pace between 100 – 115 rpm for the duration of the 20 minutes. Suffice to say that I would be sweating profusely again at the end of workout session.

A 10 minute session at the sauna, cool down and a drawn out shower later, I would be ready to leave the gym after getting dressed. I’m currently spending almost 3 hours at the gym on each visit. Given that I go there 5 times a week, that’s actually quite a lot of gym time clocked but it’s not like I have anything else to do in the evenings anyway. Out of the 5 times a week that I’m at the gym, 3 of them with be sessions with my PT and the remaining 2 would be just me on my own using the knowledge that I have learned from my PT sessions. Most of the time, I would be focusing on working out my core muscles when I workout on my own since they would be the easiest ones to work on without someone to spot you. Good thing that those are the muscle groups that I’m most excited about developing.

I still have 6 more sessions with the PT which would last me until the middle of next month. I’ve already made up my mind to renew it for another 24 sessions once I get paid my yearly bonus at the end of December. It still costs a bomb to renew, the cheapest that I could get was RM 110 per session, but the results that I’m seeing from these past 2 months working with my PT has done nothing but reaffirmed that this was an investment worth it’s weight in gold. I’m also thinking of going to at least one of those free with membership GX classes that I have been to date too intimidated to join. I have been eyeing the spinning classes since I’m already doing my cardio on a stationary bike which makes sense to transition into. Other classed like BodyStep or BodyJam would be a bit of a stretch for me since with my coordination skills, I’m more likely to accidentally poke someone’s eye out with my flailing arms.

I have quite a ways before I look anywhere near like an older A&F model but at least I don’t look like an overweight troll that I used to before. Knowing that gives me hope that I can be better and that’s the crux of why I put myself through all of this.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Movie Review: Beowulf

I have never read “Beowulf” before in my life. It was neither required reading during secondary school nor was it required in any of my classes during college. So fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you see it), I do not know much of the old English epic poem. What little I did know was that it was about a hero how fought and defeated a monster called “Grendel” in a Norse mead hall. I knew that much from watching an old Star Trek: Voyager episode where the holographic doctor got stuck in the ship’s holodeck while it was running a “Beowulf” scenario. I never really knew that there was more than that part to the poem until I watched the recently released reinterpretation of the poem in a full length animated feature medium.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis who earlier pioneered the same animation technique used here in “The Polar Express”, “Beowulf” tells the story of the titular character’s exploits starting with his arrival to the lands ruled by the elderly King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) and his queen Wealthow (Robin Wright Penn). The King’s land has been beset by a horrible monster, Grendel (Crispin Glover), who had slaughtered his people as they were reveling in his newly built mead hall. Beowulf (Ray Winstone) and his crew of Geatsman arrived on scene vowing to rid the king of his monster which he eventually did in a great battle.

Grendel’s death in the hands of Beowulf did not sit well with his mother who immediately set out to revenge her son’s death. She massacred all of Beowulf’s companion save for Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson) who was sent to prepare their ship for their departure home. Beowulf was again dispatched to deal with the murderous monster in her lair only to find that it had taken the seductive form of a naked woman (Angelina Jolie) who tempted Beowulf with power and glory for exchange for him give her a replacement for her dead son and leave her to live in her lair.

Beowulf returned to the king with proof of Grendel’s death and not of the mother although he told everyone that the deed was done. Knowing what Beowulf had done, King Hrothgar proclaimed the returned hero the new king and promptly threw himself off the tower to leave him to rule his lands. The story fast forwards several decades where the older King Beowulf had to again face a monster menacing his lands but this time in the form of a giant fire breathing dragon. Unlike his battle with Grendel, the fight this time around was more personal to the king as his past sin had finally come to haunt him and all his deeds finally becomes undone.

From what I was able to read of the movie, several changes were made by fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman and co-scribe Roger Avary who wrote the screenplay to the film in order to create a cohesive connection between the different events detailed in the original material. Having not read the original poem, I could only guess what was added or taken out from the storyline but what was left was good enough to propel the movie forward. Beowulf’s character development from a boastful warrior to wizen kind was explained adequately through out the film. The story itself flowed smoothly throughout the movie although some of the quieter moment of the film as a bit of a chore to go through. I found myself almost nodding off while waiting for the next action sequence to start since nothing really substantial was provided to hold my attention.

“Beowulf” was a visual treat to watch with it’s many depictions of the open expanse of the snow covered landscape, blue flame strobe like effect during the Grendel’s fight scenes and the golden shimmering waters of the monster’s lair. All of these set pieces were meticulously rendered in wonderful detail which could better enjoyed when watching the IMAX 3D version of the film which I’m not sure will be shown in Malaysia. Nevertheless, the 2D version that I saw was still quite impressive to watch. Less impressive was the character rendering which although was quite advanced compared to the earlier attempt with the same technique in “The Polar Express”, still had a plastic mannequins quality to the real life actor reproductions. The technology has still a ways to go if it would be used to replace live action actors in a film production as it has not solved the problem of how to make the live actor representation look less creepy.

Voice acting from the stellar cast on “Beowulf” was particularly memorable for me as I tried not to be too distracted by the character representations. Ray Winstone’s voice gave Beowulf the commanding heft that the character required although the frequent pronouncement of “I am Beowulf” left me with flashback to a more superior Gerald Butler in “300”. John Malkovich as Beowulf’s jealous court rival, Unferth, was particularly enjoyable to listen to as he delivered his lines with such mastery of the character. The other actors also left their memorable marks in terms of voice acting which helped to make their on screen characters easier to relate to in an emotional sense even when visually they lack the emotional link.

The two main action sequence in the movie was also choreographed wonderfully to sustain audience attention. The fight scene between Grendel and Beowulf would be remembered for the hideously grotesque depiction of Grendel in his most murderous as well as the cutesy strategic blocking of Beowulf’s privates during the acrobatic battle given that he was stark naked when fighting the monster. Given that we see much more when Grendel’s mother appears on screen, the earlier cover up attempts seems to be a bit on the childish side. Thankfully, we also have an even more exciting climatic battle scene between Beowulf and the dragon. Visually rich, the aerial dogfight left me quite exhilarated by it and made for a really memorable way to end the movie. Special mention should also be made for the sea monster battle montage that came before the Grendel battle for being somewhat appropriately gory for a hero to boast of his success.

While it may not win any fans from those who might prefer the original material, “Beowulf” has some moments of brilliance to get people to come and watch it. Some may even try to guess if it would have made for a better movie had it was acted with live actors instead of representation of them generate with the performance capturing technique. It would definitely lost some of it’s visual richness had it been produced as a live action movie as the cost of having the same level of detail might be a bit too cost prohibitive. One could also wonder if it would not have been better to have the emotional gravitas that only live actors might provide instead of pale reproduction in digital animated form. Regardless of where one stand on the issue, “Beowulf” was still a visual treat to experience.

Just try not to fall asleep during the quieter moments.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Although it is a North American holiday (Canada celebrates it too but on a different date), I’m always partial to the idea of the Thanksgiving holiday. Having a day to stop and reflect on things that you are thankful for sounds such a good idea especially when we now hardly get to count our blessings when we go though our busy day. To me, Thanksgiving is also a day to take a step back and review that no matter how bad we thing our life if there are still things that we can be thankful for.

I still remember the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever attended. It was my first year in Madison and I have just been there for a couple of month. Prior to coming to the States, one of my American professors, who was returning back to the State at the end of the last summer semester I was at KPP, extended an open invitation to all of his students to come and have our first Thanksgiving dinner in the States with him and his family. A bunch of us from his class decided that we would get together once the date came and take up his invitation when we all reached the States.

Out of the 10 of us who attended his class that year, only 5 of us who happened to be at the same university managed to get together and make plans to go to my professor’s house. We had hoped that our other classmates from the other universities would make the journey but it turned out only us 5 who came. A flurry of emails flew between us and Prof as the date came closer to finalized details on how to get to his house in suburbs outside of Chicago. We were all really excited as the day came as it would be our first American roadtrip ever.

It so happened that only one of us had a valid drivers license to drive in the State so he obviously became the designated driver for the whole trip. I was assigned to be the navigator since I was the only one of the remaining people who had a fairly good sense of direction. The rest (who incidentally were all girls) were in charge of making sure we had all the items that we need for the roadtrip and the gifts that we would bring for the Prof. All 5 of us packed all our things into an old station wagon borrowed from one of our seniors and left Madison the day before Thanksgiving.

I don’t remember now how long the journey took but I remembered making quite a few number of stops whenever we saw something different to see during the journey. It was actually our first time ever traveling out of Madison and there was so much that we have never seen before on the journey. We made pit stops for bathroom breaks, meal breaks or just to be silly and take pictures of things we saw along the way. It was quite fun actually and really felt like a roadtrip especially when we didn’t really have a particular timetable to follow on our journey to Chicago.

We reached Chicago just as the sun began to set. Everyone was tired from the extended roadtrip and wanted to get ourselves to where we planned to spend the night. We had called ahead to some friends of ours in town and made plans to stay overnight at their place. We were lucky that the directions that they gave us was easy to follow since Chicago was much larger than we expected. Once we had our sleeping arrangements set, we went out with our Chicago hosts to grab a bite to eat before turning in for the night.

Early the next morning on Thanksgiving Day, we called up the Prof to get directions to his house and to know what time we should be there. Since we were already quite close to where they were, they told us to turn up early so we can pitch in with the dinner preparations. This was even more exciting for me personally as not only did I get to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal with our gracious hosts but we also get to help prepare it. We said good bye to our friends who also graciously allowed us to spend the night and went straight out to the suburbs of Chicago to where our Prof’s house was (unfortunately the exact name of the place where it was has slipped my mind now).

We reached the house just after noon and the preparation for the Thanksgiving dinner was well under way. The girls who came with us took it upon themselves to help out in the kitchen with Prof’s wife while us guys went to setup the dining room area for the dinner. Both the Prof and his wife did not have any other relatives to share Thanksgiving with and their children were still quite young at the time so they have been opening their home to students like us to share in the festivities for years. The year that I went there was actually quite special for the two of them as it was the first time that his Malaysian students from when he was teaching at KPP came to his Thanksgiving dinner.

We were all famished by the time that dinner rolled around. Our hosts really went out of their way to make sure that we had a choice of a variety of traditional American Thanksgiving meal dishes as well as making sure that they only used halal ingredients to cook them with. We had a huge turkey with all the trimmings, candied yams, home made bread, pumpkin pie and other dishes associated with the occasion. The dinning table was full of serving plates piled with food that it was hard to imagine anyone finishing it all. There were just about 10 of us (some of Prof’s other students in his then current university also joined us) but I could swear that there was enough food to feed 30 people.

Before we started our meal, we went around the table to tell everyone what we were thankful for that year up to Thanksgiving Day. For me it was very easy to put into words as the opportunity of being able to share in an American tradition in the United States was something that I would always be thankful for on top of the other things that I have been blessed with. Once everyone had they chance to share what we were thankful for, we shared a moment when our hosts said grace and we recite our doa makan to ask for the blessings of the food that we were about to share.

The meal was exactly how I imagined it to be from what I saw on TV. Prof carved the turkey up for us and we all took portions of the bird from the serving plate that was passed from one person to the other. Same thing does with all the other items on the table. We had good food, good drinks and really good company to share on that Thanksgiving night. For a time, we all felt like it was a big family while not related by blood but was strong nevertheless due to the bonds that we all shared. I remembered not being able to stop smiling at the thought that we all had a really great opportunity to experience a slice of American life that we would have never been able to do so had we not taken up the invitation.

Once the dinner was over, we stayed for a bit to help clear up before we had to make our way back to Madison as some of us had to work the following morning after Thanksgiving. Prof’s wife was really disappointed that we could not stay the night but we didn’t really have much of a choice. We thank our gracious host for opening their house and sharing their Thanksgiving meal with us. The Prof’s wife even made us take some leftover turkey sandwiches, potato salad and pumpkin pie back with us to have a long the way which was quite impossible since we were all filled to the brim with all the food we had before. We left their place feeling really happy that we had the chance to really experience the occasion first hand.

I will always be thankful for that opportuinity as I do with all the blessings that I have in my life. This year especially I have so many things to be thankful about. I continue to have a job that gives me the satisfaction and stability that I need. I have my health and the opportunity to further improve it since I joined the gym. I have old friends that I continue to appreciate as well as made a bunch of new friends that I would have never thought of making had I not made changes on how I accepted myself. I’m thankful that I still have my family around me even when we don’t see eye to eye on things sometimes. I know that they will always be there for me if I need them. I’m also thankful for the chance to know several special individuals that have made a large impact to my life this year. Above all I am thankful to received all the blessings that I have this year as well as being where and who I am.

Take some time out and think about what you are thankful for and keep them in mind so they can keep you warm inside even when you think that you’re down in the dumps.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Movie Review : Stardust

A lot of recent movie releases especially in 2007 have had their humble beginnings in the sequential art form also know as the comic book medium. With a treasure trove of story, plotlines and characters stretching back for decades, the comic book medium seems to the current ‘in’ source for movies as evidenced by the number of releases and upcoming movies in production. While this is no doubt a boon for comic book readers like myself who long waited to see favorite comic book characters and storylines realized on the big screen, there is still that fear that the movies would not be able to meet the comic book fan expectations and forever ruining the character in non-comic book readers. We have the utterly dreadful “Catwoman” movie to blame for that fear.

The latest addition to the list of movie released based on sequential art material, “Stardust”, was thankfully handled with the amount respect that a critically acclaimed graphic novel should be approached with. Written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated for Charles Vess, “Stardust” – the comic book, was both remarkable in it’s lyrical content and imaginative setting. An instant fan favorite, “Stardust” chronicles the tale of Tristan (Charlie Cox) who was on a quest to find a falling star to give to his aloof paramour (Sienna Millers) in exchange for her promise that she would marry him instead of another suitor. To get to the falling star, Tristan had to cross the wall that separated his village (also known as the village of Wall) and the magical kingdom of Stormhold.

Unbeknownst to Tristan, the falling star had taken up a human form and called herself Yvaine after she was knocked out of the sky by the enchanted necklace tossed out by the dying king of Stormhold. The king’s surviving sons had to search for the necklace which was now worn by Yvaine if they wanted to become the next king of the land. The falling star also had another seeker in the form of the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) who wanted her for her heart that she would feast on with her sister to gain an extension to their already unnatural lifespan. With a little magical assistance, Tristan was the first person to find Yvaine and while his original intent was to bring her back to his paramour, their journey became one filled with challenges to elude the other pursuers. Along the way, their love for each other begin to blossom and in the end, it was that same love that help them fulfill their destinies.

While at first glance “Stardust” seemed to be made for family viewing, much of the story and humor in both the original material and the movie was written with a much more adult sensibility. Distinctly dark in tone, this adult fairy tale is not one that has been sanitized for children’s viewing. Death, both of people and animals, were shown in graphic terms even though the dead end up being part of a hilarious chorus of ghosts who haunt the surviving prince looking for the enchanted necklace. A fair amount of deliciously witty entendre fathomable only by adults run through out the story culminating in scenes with the cross-dressing sky pirate no less. Nothing is actually overtly explicit that parents would not want to bring children to watch it but there was enough for adults to enjoy it in a whole different level altogether.

“Stardust” was also blessed with a multitude of brilliant actors who seemed to relish the opportunity to play against type. Both leads, Claire Danes and Charlie Cox, were serviceable enough in their roles but it was the non leads, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro (playing the abovementioned cross-dressing sky pirate Captain Shakespeare) who stole the spotlight of the movie in my opinion. In the witch Lamia, Michelle Pfeiffer displayed wonderful comic timing a portrayal very seldom seen in her other films. Her well timed eye roll when things don’t go her way never failed to crack me up. Also playing against type, Robert De Niro’s portrayal Captain Shakespeare ranks as one of the more memorable scenes I’ve seen in a movie this year not because of the character he played but because of the actor himself willing to have fun outside of the usual gallery of characters he portrayed before.

The story elements of “Stardust” were greatly supported by tight editing and pacing, unlike the other comic book movie released at about the same time, that at no time during the 2 hour screening time does the movie fall into dead space in between set pieces. The action moved in an increasingly frenetic pace as the main character faced increasing odds against their survival. Although the ending was clearly apparent to those who picked up on the foreshadowing presented in the beginning of the film, the journey that audiences took on the movie to get to the ending was one worth the payoff. This film did the original material proud and would be ranked up there among the better comic book to film adaptation by fans of both genre. It would definitely get into my list of the highly recommended movies to watch for this year.

Can’t wait for the DVD to come out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Movie Review : 30 Days of Night

It is hard for me to articulate what scares me nowadays. I’m definitely squeamish when it comes to snakes, loud pushy drag queens intimidate me and clowns in full makeup makes my skin crawl but they don’t really make me shiver with fright. Gory horror movies have likewise lost some of their luster with me over the years as I guess I’ve become jaded by the sight of arterial spray coming from ripped throats. I think that the last time that I truly left the cinema feeling really creeped out of my skin was after watching the first “Blair Witch Project” film. Fortunately for me, the atmospherics in films from the Asian horror cinema genre still could be depended on to provide me with a dose of real chills down my spine but I fear even that might become jaded for me after a while.

“30 Days of Night” comes to our shores with the tagline that it would be the scariest film you see this year. Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel written by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, the film is set in Barrow, the northern most town in Alaska, where the sun sets and never rises for 30 days in the middle of winter. During the enduring month long night, Barrow get overrun by a pack of vicious vampires led by Marlow (Danny Huston) who mercilessly start to butcher the population of this isolated town. Survivors, led by the Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) and his estranged wife, Fire Marshall Stella Oleson (Melissa George), has to survive the 30 days of darkness that surround them and hope that the vampires don’t find them before they get to see the sun again.

Directed by David Slade (“Hard Candy”), “30 Days of Night” did for vampires what “28 Days Later” did for zombies by returning them to the mold of the vicious bloodthirsty monstrous last seen in “Nosferatu”. The vampires in this movie were not tortured by their bloodlust like their brethrens in Anne Rice novels or were they the stylish high kicking martial art masters as seen in the “Blade” or “Underworld” film franchises. With their high pitch screams (which did get more annoying than terrifying after the first few times) and reptilian like facial features, these vampires were truly the kind you don’t want to be standing behind you in any circumstances. They hardly speak which means audiences don’t get much of a backstory for them and when they do it would be in an dialect specifically created for this film. The would rather play around with their meal rather than trying to turn them into vampires to keep them company.

Unfortunately for me, this was the only interesting aspect of the film for me with the exception of the memorable CGI crane shot they did to show the vampires taking the population of Barrow from their homes to slaughter them. Most of the non-vampire characters were blandly developed with most supporting characters undistinguishable from each other. The few characters that did get a little more screen time from the others were not that interesting to watch either. A lot of them seemed to fall into general horror movies archetypes that one could be forgiven for knowing before hand which one of them would be killed by the vampires first.

Pacing of the film was another aspect of the film that I felt could have been done better. Unlike “The Thing”, another film set in the snowy expense with a monster running around killing people, the tension in the “30 Days of Night” annoyingly comes in fits and starts. At several points in the film, the action grounds to a halt as the survivors start talking among themselves without really adding to the overall feeling of desperation of their predicament. Character revelations comes without any particular rhyme or reason other than to flesh out a character just before he/she meets their gory end. The action in the film also skipped long time frames with the things happening only on the 7th, 18th and 27th days which makes viewers wonder what they did the rest of the days. I was not expecting to see what they did on every day of their 30 days confinement but it would made for a more enjoyable viewing if we see their increasing desperation as the days roll by. Instead, what we get to see is this motley crew repeating the same cycle out hiding out then going out to a new location only to get someone else in the group killed.

Gore fans might be placated by the amount of gore on screen but I guess one could say that it was a bit tame compared to some of the other more gory films that have came before. There were more than a few decapitation scenes since cutting their heads off was the only way to kill these vampires. Vampire feeding were shown in very quick and messy cut away shots that emphasized the vicious nature of their attacks. Tons of blood gets splattered all over the place as the vampires seemed to be very messy blood drinkers who don’t really mind wasting the blood even though the existing people in Barrow might not last them the whole 30 days of darkness. There were a few action set pieces in the film that involved inventive ways of dispatching the vampires but they came in very few and far in between to sustain gore fan’s attentions.

I was told that some viewers hated the ending because of what happened to the main lead. To me the predictable ending was the only way that the conflict would have ended and to see anything else would definitely invalidate the whole movie. I just wished that there was much more of a character struggle to come to the decision that the main lead had to take instead of appearing to be the most convenient thing to do. After watching “30 Days of Night”, I am sorely tempted to get the original graphic novel that the movie was based upon to get more satisfying story to sink my teeth in. Weak characterization and pacing did the most injustice to a fairly imaginative premise. The film would be something that you would watch on a free afternoon but don’t expect too much from it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Deepavali Wishes

Wishing all who will be celebrating it a safe and Happy Deepavali (or Diwali) tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

They Know Me Well

Had to do a personality/behavioral survey today in preparation for my Management Mentorship meeting tomorrow. The results of the behavioral study was eerily accurate! I’m posting it here so I have a record of it to refer in the future. Of course I had to change my real name in the report with my blog name and it was written as such to be read by another person. I’m not crazy enough to refer myself in the third person … yet.

"Nickxandar tends to be incisive and analytical. He is usually steady, easygoing and relaxed. He may have difficulty sharing his feelings if it may disturb the relationship.

When the time is right, Nickxandar can stand up aggressively for what he believes. Nickxandar can be discreet and sociable as called for by the situation.

Loyalty and being a team player are usually his goals. He is a good, steady, dependable team member.

He needs time for some study and analysis, particularly when doing new or challenging assignments. This allows him to adjust to the changing environment.

He can be open, patient and tolerant of differences. His natural quality of being nonjudgmental is a great strength. Because he is receptive and listens well, he excels in gathering information. Patience, control and deliberateness characterize his usual behavior. At times, Nickxandar would like to slow the world down and cut out some of the activities people want him involved in.

Nickxandar needs to gather data and facts in a logical fashion. Logic is important when trying to influence him. He pays more attention to logic than emotional "hype." Making plans and following those plans is important to him. When challenged he can become objective, searching hard for facts and figures. This may be his way of defending his decisions.

Nickxandar can be sensitive to the feelings of others and is able to display real empathy for those who are experiencing difficulties. He prefers to plan his work and work his plan. Others may find it refreshing to have him on their team. When faced with a tough decision, he will seek information and analyze it thoroughly.

Nickxandar tends to be possessive of information; that is, he doesn't voluntarily share information with others outside of his team. This may be a blessing, or a curse, to his superiors. He likes having others initiate the conversation. He can then assess the situation and respond accordingly.

He can be outgoing at times. Basically introverted, he will "engage" in social conversation when the occasion warrants. Rarely does he display his emotions; that is, he projects a good poker face. Others may get the feeling that he is unfriendly, when in reality he is not.

Nickxandar may guard some information unless he is asked specific questions. He will not willingly share unless he is comfortable with the knowledge he possesses about the topic. He is not easily triggered or explosive, but he may conceal some grievances because he doesn't always state his feelings. Most people see him as being a considerate and modest person. He probably won't try to steal the spotlight from others."

I couldn't have described my work behavior better than this report.