Rev Head

Friday, November 14, 2008

Accuracy of Death 死神の精度(2008) aka Sweet Rain

On my recent flight I managed to catch a movie starring Takeshi Kaneshiro - Accuracy of Death 死神の精度. I guess I might not have watched the movie if it was titled Sweet Rain ;-) would probably have watched The Incredible Hulk or something else.

The story is based on a best selling novel by Kotaro Isaka, and in the movie Takeshi Kaneshiro plays Chiba - a Grim Reaper (or shinigami) whose work involves him dealing with individuals who are scheduled for unnatural death in 7 days. He is given the task to determine whether they should be given another chance to extend their life or the progression of death should be allowed to "Proceed". He mulls over his decision while shadowing the "candidate" and sounding off his thoughts with his doggy sidekick.

The movie revolves around three mini-encounters with mortals - a meek customer service representative Kazue Fujiki (Manami Konishi), whose job is to receive complaint calls, a ruthless mafia leader who has a faithful follower and an old hairdresser who lives alone in the countryside.

The cinematography by Takahide Shibanushi doesn't disappoint starting with a foreboding withering of a flower presented to Chiba, the gritty sumurai style showdowns in the mafia scenes, and the melancholic showers throughout the movie. The visuals complements the mood of the mini-stories very well which is further enhanced by the Music.

During his time on earth, Chiba takes whatever opportunities he has to listen to music, and he meets other shinigami occasionally where they talk shop and swap stories. These chanced meetings show Chiba as a more reserved Shinigami who does not sample life on earth as much as his compatriots and is rather careful in his dealings with mortals. This however changes as the story progresses. His interactions with the candidates reveals more of his work and personality while the plot twist and turns adds to the story - revealing an additional dimension to his character.

Takeshi plays the role very well and carries the movie:

Takeshi Kaneshiro makes death almost seem like an attractive option; you may be dead, but at least the person judging you really seems to care, and he's a swell, likable dude who you'll trust instinctively. It's hard to believe that anyone could embody such a fantastic and shallow character - but hey, Takeshi Kaneshiro can, and he does it very, very well. The man has skills. (Kozo 2008)

The lovely storyline is further enhanced by a beautiful soundtrack, Manami Konishi's voice links the 3 stories in an unique way.

Music Video


Friday, May 26, 2006

Wine or Grape Juice?

Going to attend my firm's Happy Hour event this evening, just reminded again that some Christians are surprised that the Bible does not prohibit drinking of alcohol but rather drunkedness.

Many are even surprised that there was a specific instance when it was encouraged ;-)

"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities. " (I Timothy 5:23)
The latest scientific findings show drinking moderately is helpful for our heart and lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure. Guess early Christians were thousands of years more advance with their medical advice, maybe its time to visit the Holy Land to improve your health ;-)

There is a very good article on The Bible and Alcohol by Daniel B. Wallace. One of his paragraph is especially insightful and I think applies not only to Christianity but to most religions:

"Christians tend to compile rules and regulations that go beyond what is written; and when such grey zones are considered evil, ... It is a tragic irony that as one matures in the faith, all too often his life collects more and more oppressive chains of legalism. As much as there may well be good reasons for one to personally hold to certain convictions, we must be very careful about extending such beyond ourselves. "

Hmmm .... the much rioted over cartoons come to mind.

The writer has also pointed out that Wine’ occurs 236 times in the New American Standard Bible, 214 times in the New International Version, 230 times in the NRSV, and 210 times in the REB, although not all the statements are positive, they are not overwhelmingly negative as well.

Wine is so often connected with the blessings of God, it is strange that many modern Christians view drinking as the worst of all evils. It seems that many legalistic Christians automatically associate any forms of enjoyment as sinful. Unfortunately, this means that non-Christians will only know the Bible as a book of ‘Thou shalt nots,’ and God as a Person that creates anything enjoyable or beautiful just to deny us of that enjoyment.

The best balance on this issue can be seen when you compare Jesus and John the Baptist. John's Nazerite vow precluded him from drinking not only wine but he couldn't drink grape juice or even eat any grapes. (See Numbers 6). Jesus did not abstain from wine.

"For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children." (Matthew 11:16-19)

The most important point was that both respected one another and both recognized that their individual lifestyles were not universal principles.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

The DaVinci Code was first published in 2003, and has since sold more than 60.5 million copies and has been translated into 44 languages.

I read the book a few months ago and watched the movie last Friday as my company's rec club was giving out tickets. The movie is watch-able but a little messy- plotwise. I think this was because of the attempt to balance certain views by using Robert Langdon as the voice of reason against Teabing's wild assertions.

The treatment of Silas - Paul Bettany's albino character is interesting. Contrasting other's perception of him as a "white ghost" or as an "angel". Unfortunately if you have not read the book you might have missed that comparative imagery and not will not feel any sympathy for his character. The Bishop seems to be portrayed as more of a villain in the movie.

The storyline proposes Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married, had a child, and that a powerful organization linked to the Church conspired to commit murder to keep it secret.

Although some church leaders expressed outrage at the book and the movie, Pope Benedict XVI, has not voiced an opinion either way on the novel or the film. Interesting contrast to the mass revolt over the Danish cartoons.

Dan Brown's conspiracy theory hatched with the combination of anti-Catholicism, psychotic monks, a beautiful heroine, pseudo-facts masquerading as history, and international locations certainly makes a fast and compelling page turner, almost as fast as the figures on his bank account.

A badly researched novel, however, is not merely that; it has certain implications for the reader. A fact does not cease to be so - just because we believe otherwise. Similarly no matter how much I believe that the universe revolves around the earth, it does not make it so.

Divinity of Jesus

Dan Brown claims at some length that his writings are fact, and most importantly many readers who recognise just some of the explanations as being plausible starts to treat the rest of the writings as fact.

Referring to the Council of Nicea, Brown claims that "until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet, a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless."

In reality, early Christians overwhelmingly worshipped Jesus Christ as their risen Savior and Lord. Jesus is called "God" 7 times in the New Testament and is referred to as divine on dozens of occasions. He was not crucified for being a prophet or a rebel championing a Jewish nation against Roman rule, He was crucified for claiming to be the Son of God.

Many early Christians were persecuted and martyred just for claiming that Jesus is the Son of God.

There are recorded sources in the form of writings and letters from pagan and objective writers from the first and second century, describing how Christians believe Jesus to be divine; including one written to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who died in AD 180. All these writings pre-date the Council of Nicaea in 325AD which affirmed that Jesus was the Son of God was a central doctrine to Christianity.

Dead Sea Scrolls & Gnostic Gospels

The characters in the book then asserts that The Dead Sea Scrolls are the earliest Christian writings in existence and that The Gnostic Gospels frequently mention Mary Magdalene and her marriage to Jesus. I suppose any historian worth their salt or any individual with access to the Internet can tell you that the Dead Sea Scrolls are Jewish writings and have no direct connection with Christianity at all.

Quick Facts about The Dead Sea Scrolls : (More information can easily be found on the web)

  1. The Scrolls can be divided into two categories, biblical and non-biblical.
  2. Fragments of every book of the Hebrew canon (Old Testament) have been discovered except for the book of Esther.
  3. There are now identified among the scrolls, 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms .
  4. The Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact, is 1000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah.
  5. In fact, the scrolls are the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found.
  6. In the Scrolls are found never before seen psalms attributed to King David and Joshua.
As for the Gnostic Gospels, there are no mention of Jesus being married to Mary. These books were rejected by the Church because they were written relatively late in Christian history, the authencity cannot be established, and have been found to be mostly inconsistent with the established New and Old Testaments.

Dan Brown cites the Gnostic Gospels of Philip and Mary, to prove that the Mary was Christ's "companion," meaning sexual partner. The apostles were jealous that Jesus used to "kiss her on the mouth" and favored her over them. He lifts these out of the equally dubious passages quoted in Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation and even picks up the latter's reference to The Last Temptation of Christ. What these books neglect to mention is the infamous final verse of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. When Peter sneers that "women are not worthy of Life," Jesus responds, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male.... For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

Hmm ... does that seem like a likely way to "honor" one's spouse or sacred feminine?

In fact the Dead Sea Scrolls further confirms the authencity of the Old Testatment which predicted the arrival of Jesus as the saviour of the world and Son of God before way before any of the Gospels. The Nicaean Council was not a great conspiracy to deny the facts in those days but one of adopting only the authenticated books, already commonly used by the early Christians.


"The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine."

Interesting ... hmm doesn't Dan Brown know that the Old Testament existed before the birth of Jesus, and the New Testament began to take shape at the end of the first century. More importantly the "The Bible, as we know it today" was finalized at the end of the fourth century. Constantine died before that.

The early Christians did not have any political power as claimed by Brown, they were constantly persecuted and matryed - Portrayed commonly by stories about the feeding of Christians to lions.

Dan Brown is right in saying that Constantine was a pagan emperor, upon coming to power Constantine unilaterally ended all persecution in his territories, even providing for restitution. However, his personal devotions wre firstly to Mars and then increasingly to Apollo, reverenced as Sol Invictus. Well guess that was another of the few things he said which STARTED right ... What follows however has been omittedtted from the book.

One account reports that during the night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, Constantine was commanded by Jesus in a dream to place the sign of Christ on the shields of his soldiers. Another account was that a sign of the cross of light and the words "by this sign you will be victor" (hoc signo victor eris or) appeared to him in broad daylight on the road to Rome. The new battle standard became known as the labarum and resulted in a great victory for him.

Whatever vision Constantine may have experienced, he attributed his victory to the power of "the God of the Christians" and committed himself to the Christian faith from that day on. Constantine did not receive baptism until shortly before his death. In the fourth and fifth centuries Christians often delayed their baptisms until late in life, in the belief that their sins were actually washed away by the baptism, as such it makes sense to have it as late as possible in one's life.

In the years 325-337 Constantine continued his support of the church even more vigorously than before, both by generous gifts of money and by specific legislation. At the same time, he became more inclined to suppress paganism; we know of some specific pagan temples which were torn down upon his orders, while in other cases temple treasures were confiscated and the proceeds fed into the imperial treasury.

Shortly after Easter (3 April) 337 Constantine began to feel ill. He traveled to Drepanum, now named Helenopolis in honor of his mother, where he prayed at the tomb of his mother's favorite saint, the martyr Lucian. From there he proceeded to the suburbs of Nicomedia, and there he was baptized, as recorded by both Eusebius and Jerome. A few weeks weeks later, on the day of Pentecost, 22 May, Constantine died at Nicomedia, still wearing the white robes of a Christian neophyte.

Brown a historian ?

Well he didn't claim to be one, however he does claim that distinction for his sources as in "The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ has been chronicled in exhaustive detail by scores of historians."

The historians he lists are Margaret Starbird, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Clive Prince, Lynn Picknett and Michael Baigent. But, like Dan Brown, these people aren't historians either. Baigent has a basic degree in psychology and is working on an MA in mysticism, and Picknett and Prince are best known for their work on the occult and UFOs.

The Name of God - YHWH

Jesus is often acknowledged as a progressive male, always showing repect to woman. Brown writes that YHWH, the Jewish sacred name for God, is based on the word Jehovah. "Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah."

Hmmm Brown's confusion is a little shocking frankly, when I was 13, I've already known from reading numerous sources that YHWH doesnt come from Jehovah, but Jehovah from YHWH.

The pronunciation of the tetragrammaton YHWH was lost when the Jews avoided its usage for fear of descrating the holy name (cf. Exod. 20:7). Its meaning was established in the Old Testament when Moses asked for God's name. (Exod. 6:2-3).

YHWH was used thousands of years before Jehovah came into existence in the late 16th-century. Translators consistently avoided using the name and substituted the title Kyrios ("Lord"). This reflects the Jewish practice of reading Adonai (Heb. adonay) "Lord" for YHWH or reading Elohim (Heb. elohim) in place of the Hebrew compound yhwh adonay to avoid the duplication of adonay.

The vowels of adonay (a-o-a) were placed under the tetragrammaton to remind the reader that he was not to pronounce YHWH but instead to read the word as adonay. Christians who were unaware of this substitution read the vowels as if they actually belonged to YHWH, which resulted in the English form "YeHoWaH" or JeHoVaH" (the a of adonay having been reduced to e under the y of yhwh).

Many scholars accept the widely held opinion that the tetragrammaton is a form of the root hyh ("be") and should be pronounced as "Yahweh" ("He who brings into being"; cf. Exod. 3:12, "I will be with you" and "I will be who I will be", vs. 14).

In fact, goddess worship never dominated the pre-Christian world. Not in the religions of Rome, Egypt, or even Semitic lands where the hieros gamos was an ancient practice. Nor did the Hellenized cult of Isis appear to have included sex in its secret rites.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Online TV?

Video streaming and downloads have been with us for a while, its especially useful when you are based in China and you really wanted to watch programs that has not been edited to death by the Chinese government.

Just noticed the sudden increase in video uploads and video links available in the last few months. You really get to catch up with tv programs from around the world. With YouTube, Google Video etc., you even get to watch political rallies online!!

Even found this interesting clip on YouTube showing an interesting pub scene in Taiwan. Guess it will be worthwhile visiting 台中again soon ;-)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Books I'm reading

I'm currently reading Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. Just finished reading Naked Empire. Not sure whether to read the prequel Debt of Bones first or start on the ninth book Chainfire.

Debt of Bones (Legends) set a few decades before the events in the main series was edited by Robert Silverberg and published as a short story in the 2001 Legends anthology. Later the same year, it was published as a stand-alone novella.

When i started the first book Wizard's First Rule I was reading it on a train, and of course being in a nation of mainly non-readers ... i get a guy nudging his girlfriend and laughing at the title ... saying out loud Wizard's First Rule as they snigger

The following books have been released:
Wizard's First Rule (1994)
Stone of Tears (1995)
Blood of the Fold (1996)
Temple of the Winds (1997)
Soul of the Fire (1999)
Faith of the Fallen (2000)
The Pillars of Creation (2001)
Naked Empire (2003)

The Chainfire Trilogy:
Chainfire (2005)
Phantom (to be released June 2006)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Posting via Email

I'm testing out posting messages via email.

Made some unsuccessful attempts to use the Yahoo Widget. The problem is that it requires the use of free smtp servers

Monday, March 06, 2006


Tammy是一個样子甜美稚氣猶存, 在新加坡南洋理工唸書的十七歲女孩,一個不小心遗失了手机,后果竟然如此般严重: 本來只是一段记载了一對小情人翻云覆雨的 私人的写实录像 ,影片竟被人上载到短片網站,在数日已內令Tammy NYP剎時成了热门的授寻词句。

Start Ranting

I've been lurking in the blog sphere and forums forever reading Mr Brown and Miyagi's blogs and after reading my long time friend's blogs, most recently I've been inspired to start a blog of my own.

Of course the recent media attention over Tammy NYP and the amount of comments and discussions over the blogs makes blogging seems like an even more interesting activity ;-)

Oh ... note of caution Looking for Tammy videos? DO NOT download any material from sites offering zipped files of "love chat messages" and video. Some P2P networks distribute fake tammy vids that are files containing worms or trojans. Some sites are pretty devious, posting FAKE messages from "members" who claim to have downloaded the files with no trouble and that the files had really good quality images that were better than the original videos.