Friday, March 30, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

The good thing about making a movie based on a classic with many female characters is that there is no need to create and stuff in extra characters so that there can be at least 1 pretty bimbo on the set (like in King Solomon's Mines, a male-dominated story...) Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has got to be a movie maker's dream come true - many pretty young ladies, and handsome gentlemen. I have, in the past, read this book several times so when I saw the DVD for the movie - Pride and Prejudice (2005) I was eager to watch it. Recently, I re-read some parts of the book, and then, got the DVD out and watched it again. I remember being mildly disappointed when I first watched it, but this time (having my memory of the book refreshed), I am downright exasperated!

First of all, the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet is extremely poorly portrayed by Keira Knightley. Elizabeth is supposed to be smart and sensible, not cheeky; light-hearted and likes to laugh, not a constantly giggling air-headed girl; strong-willed but not a total stubborn ox! And although Mrs Bennet is a lot of times silly and ridiculous, Elizabeth is never rude to her, unlike how it is in the movie. I cannot think of any English word that more appropriately describe Keira Knightley's Elizabeth than very menyampah and totally 38. Sigh.

As if having a substandard Lizzy is not enough, the portrayal of Mr Darcy by (let me copy and paste his name from imdb -) Matthew Macfadyen is equally, if not more, disappointing. I quote from the novel, where Mr Darcy is first introduced:

"... but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased ..."

Mr Darcy is most of the time proud, arrogant, full of himself, and very charming in the novel, but Mr (wait, I need to copy & paste his name again...) Macfadyen's Darcy, besides being far from handsome, is withdrawn, doleful and miserable, with a hurt look permanently etched in his eyes. How pitiful - you'd feel like offering him tissues. He cannot be more un-Darcy-like than that. Sigh, sigh.

As for the other characters: Jane Bennet is not beautiful enough; Mr Bingley's warm and friendly disposition is replaced by nervousness and brainlessness; Mr Bennet does not seem half as sensible as he is supposed to be; and the other Bennet girls hardly has any attention from the camera-man.

The worst thing however, is how undeveloped the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy is. When I saw Darcy proposing to Elizabeth, it gave me the incredulous feeling of - what?! since when were you attracted to her, since when did you fall in love with her? (or could it be I was so convinced that nobody could love that 'Lizzy'?) In the book, the uniting of Darcy and Elizabeth is eagerly, almost desperately anticipated - but in the movie, you'd never see it coming, if you hadn't already read the book, or know the story (or read this post). Sigh, sigh, sigh.

The characters that are more appropriately represented: Mrs Bennet (sole objective in life is to see her daughters married), Mr Collins (boring and silly, but managed to be funny while being), Lady Catherine de Bourgh (haughty, high-and-mighty face - really good!), Kitty and Lydia Bennet (extremely silly, vain), Mr Wickham (very handsome and impressive, but a bad, young man).

There - another beautiful classic butchered by movie makers. Sien.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Excerpt from *click*:

Now scientists create a sheep that's 15% human

Scientists have created the world's first human-sheep chimera - which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells - and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer.
Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent seven years and £5million perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into a sheep's foetus.

He has already created a sheep liver which has a large proportion of human cells and eventually hopes to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep.

The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor's bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep's foetus. When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant.

"We would take a couple of ounces of bone marrow cells from the patient,' said Prof Zanjani, whose work is highlighted in a Channel 4 programme tomorrow.

"We would isolate the stem cells from them, inject them into the peritoneum of these animals and then these cells would get distributed throughout the metabolic system into the circulatory system of all the organs in the body. The two ounces of stem cell or bone marrow cell we get would provide enough stem cells to do about ten foetuses. So you don't just have one organ for transplant purposes, you have many available in case the first one fails."

At present 7,168 patients are waiting for an organ transplant in Britain alone, and two thirds of them are expected to die before an organ becomes available.

Scientists at King's College, London, and the North East Stem Cell Institute in Newcastle have now applied to the HFEA, the Government's fertility watchdog, for permission to start work on the chimeras.

But the development is likely to revive criticisms about scientists playing God, with the possibility of silent viruses, which are harmless in animals, being introduced into the human race.

Dr Patrick Dixon, an international lecturer on biological trends, warned: "Many silent viruses could create a biological nightmare in humans. Mutant animal viruses are a real threat, as we have seen with HIV."

Animal rights activists fear that if the cells get mixed together, they could end up with cellular fusion, creating a hybrid which would have the features and characteristics of both man and sheep. But Prof Zanjani said: "Transplanting the cells into foetal sheep at this early stage does not result in fusion at all."

My friend, the polar bear, asked me if I thought it ethical to do such things. Well, I suppose it really doesn't matter what I think - there will be lots of people and groups of people who will fight for or against these researches, and each will have valid argument points. I won't even bother giving my opinion because there is no point in saying things that are probably already said, and will be said again many times. Then, he said he believed that we will be having teenage mutant ninja sheep soon. And I was thinking - mermaids, perhaps?

Ringing Phones

"No handphones should ring during class" Wait, did I say "ring"? I must rephrase...

I always make this announcement on the first and second lectures (yes, I repeat myself at least once, for the benefit of those who skip the first lecture). I realised my error, when once, within half an hour after my announcement, a guy's phone went "hahahahah". It managed to stop me in mid-sentence. OK, technically, he didn't break my rule, because my rule was that phones were not allowed to ring - I didn't mention anything about whether they were allowed to "laugh".

Hmmm... I would have to evolve to match the modern phones that can make all sorts of tones, wouldn't I?

There then, for the many following semesters, I rephrased my announcement to "No handphones should ring or laugh or sing during class" That had worked all right for some time.

This semester, during a lab session, someone's phone burst out shouting "I want to f*ck you", and the unashamed owner actually allowed the phone to be vulgar several times before taking the call. The class seemed to enjoy the "fun", but I (maybe being too old) failed to see anything funny. And just today, during lab session (again!), while the students were being tortured by an exercise which they had to complete and submit by the end of the class, someone's phone actually chanted a couple of verses of Buddhist scripture - the kind you'd hear in temples or at ppl's funerals... I don't know which. (Gosh... the exercise was that tough?)

So there - time to rephrase again: "No handphones should ring or laugh or sing or curse or chant, during class"

Compulsory Blog

Can you believe that blogging is now a coursework component for a certain subject in a certain prestigious local university? I know this poor fella has no interest nor inclination to blog (blogging simply couldn't be everyone's cup of tea...) but well, do visit and read his posts - they're compulsory anyway :D

Btw, I hated Engineer and Society... we had this dumbo lecturer who made us do a stupid 40~50-page assignment and reject each group's printed drafts (must print for him to "inspect" before submission) like 4 -5 times before finally accepting them. Crazy freak!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Malaysia MEMANG Boleh

Excerpt from The Star today:

Survey: KL Courtesy level has risen

THE nation’s capital has redeemed itself in terms of courtesy level after a shocking readers' poll last year by Reader’s Digest which labelled Kuala Lumpur as the third rudest city in the world, Kosmo! reported.

The latest survey conducted by Canadian-based international rating agency found that Kuala Lumpur was the 33rd most polite city in the world.

New York topped the list, followed closely by Zurich and Toronto. The first of its kind, the study involved 35 cities and was done in collaboration with the United Nations and the US Central Intelligence Agency.

However, the capitals of several Malaysia neighbours fared better.

Manila stood at 22nd place while Bangkok was placed 25th, followed by Jakarta, Indonesia (27th) and Singapore (31st). Kuala Lumpur, however, beat Bucharest and Mumbai.

Ranked 33rd most polite out of 35 surveyed == 3rd rudest la! (which, in fact, means this recent survey only confirmed the credibility of Reader's Digest's poll last year...) And they are sooo proud still!