Monday 30 May 2011

Movie & Event: Short Circuit 2 & Happy 25th, 'Short Circuit!'

Image from
Well, talking about what I planned to post much much earlier, was the 25th birthday of Johnny 5, the robot which came to live on the 9th May 1986 giving kids hopes and dreams. 
Number 5 from Short Circuit

I'm really glad to see that there is still a website for him, called, some photos of him and some behind-the-scene photos of his movie, a forum for his fans to exchange thoughts and their own version of toy Johnny 5, and a Photobucket collection of his photos, and a museum called Robothut which keeps a reproduced version of Johnny 5 in it. I hope that some day soon we will see Johnny 5 again in the cinema, with 3D IMAX would be nice!!

Today, I would like to recommend the sequel of Short Circuit, if you still haven't seen the first one, I think you can consider getting DVD or Blu-ray now.
Image from
At the beginning of this movie, it seems like it simply talks about Johnny Five visiting New York and is attracted by many new things around him, as the movie proceeds, he went the wrong direction and made some indecent friends, learnt some indecent street tricks because he wants to mix with the people, but still found himself different and lonely. The first movie (Short Circuit) addresses the problems faced by a baby boy who first came to this world as a gift from God and the second movie (Short Circuit 2) actually goes to address the deeper meanings of the problems faced by a little boy or a teenager, and how Johnny Five eventually learns the difference between good and bad.

If you are parents, you are highly recommended to show these two excellent movies to your children!!

The inventor of Number 5, Ben Jahrvi, now trying to earn a living making toy robots, has Number 5 as his one-man assembly line. Number 5, however, has a hard time resisting the temptation to have "more input" out on the street.
Johnny 5 from Short Circuit 2
Color me surprised. Given its age and, well, genre—live action 1980s kid flicks don't always get the best high definition treatments—Short Circuit 2 looks fantastic on Blu-ray, miles better than it ever looked on DVD. 

Working off a nearly pristine print—there are only a few scattered white specks, and no major scratches or debris—Image Entertainment has assembled a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's consistently sharp and colorful. It doesn't appear that Image has tampered at all with the source material; grain is natural, DNR and edge enhancement are absent, and the image hasn't been boosted or altered in any significant way. 

No tampering is necessary. A few soft shots aside, the picture is surprisingly crisp. The back streets of Toronto— standing in for New York—are revealed in all their grimy, graffiti-covered glory, and the actors' faces and clothing all display discernable textures. 

Better yet is Johnny 5 himself, whose mechanical workings are rendered with satisfyingly fine detail. The film goes for a realistic, unstylized palette, with balanced skin tones, sufficiently deep black levels, and frequent splashes of vivid spray paint color. Finally, although the film sits on a single-layer Blu-ray disc, I didn't discern any apparent compression issues. 

This is definitely the best the film has ever, and perhaps will ever look. 

Toy Johnny 5 from Short Circuit 2
While it's unfortunate that the film couldn't have been given a full 5.1 presentation—there are, after all, sequences in Short Circuit 2 that practically call out for city street ambience and swooshing cross-channel effects—I have no real qualms with this disc's uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo track. 

Sure, some of the effects lack punch and there's little separation between the left and right channels, but there's really nothing wrong with this capable, if understated mix. 

The most prevalent element is probably David Shire's bouncy, stereotypically 1980s score—complete with popping slap bass straight out of the Seinfeld theme—and the music sounds as clear and dynamic as can be expected. 

Likewise, the front-anchored mix does what it can with the film's action scenes, and while there's little low-end presence, I can at least say the mix doesn't sound tinny, mid-heavy, muffled, or clipped

Throughout the film, dialogue is always well-balanced and easy to understand. The disc comes with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles, but the white-lettered subs are somewhat unnecessarily contained in black text boxes. 

There are just too many important things, people or characters that make up my life, and Johnny Five is definitely one of them. Watching its movie once in a while is like seeing an long-missed childhood friend healthy and energetic, makes me feel warm and comfortable. Johnny Five always touches my heart as being a robot that everyone wants to be friends with. Johnny Five is also voted as the 10th of the Top 10 Greatest Robots in Movies, but I actually think he should be the number 1, because no other robots has the facial expressions and emotions that Johnny Five has.
Image from
Long live Johnny Five! I miss you!!!


pristine -- (adj)  formal approving new or almost new, and in very good condition
scattered -- (adj) covering a wide area
speck -- (n)[C] a very small mark, piece or amount
scratch -- (n) [C] a mark made by scratching
debris -- (n)[U] broken or torn pieces of something larger
tamper (with sth) -- phrasal verb to touch or make changes to something which you should not, usually without enough knowledge of how it works or when you are trying to damage it
crisp -- (adj0 mainly approving describes sound or an image that is very clear
grimy -- (adj) dirty
graffiti -- (n)[U] plural noun words or drawings, especially humorous, rude or political, on walls, doors, etc. in public places
discernable -- (adj)  formal able to be seen or understood
render -- (vb)[T] formal to cause someone or something to be in a particular state
unstylized -- (adj) If something is stylized, it is represented with an emphasis on a particular style, especially a style in which there are only a few simple details.
palette -- (n)[C] [C usually singular] specialized the range of colours that an artist usually paints with
swoosh -- (vb)  [I] informal to make the sound of air or water that is moving quickly
qualm -- (n)  [C usually pluralan uncomfortable feeling of doubt about whether you are doing the right thing
punch -- (n) [U] [U] the power to be interesting and have a strong effect on people
prevalent -- (adj) existing very commonly or happening often
bouncy -- (adj) happy and energetic
tinny -- (adj) describes a sound which is of low quality or like metal being hit
muffled -- (adj) describes a sound that is quiet or not clear
clipped -- (adj) with words pronounced quickly and sharply, sometimes with parts missing, or in a very short and unfriendly way



milwaukeemachineman's album @ Photobucket

This Week in Movies: Cute Robots, Drunken Bridesmaids and Rampant Vampires @ Moviefone

Movie: Short Circuit @ Locky's English Playground

Short Circuit 2 Trailer @ YouTube

Short Circuit 2 Blu-ray @ 


Top 10 Greatest Robots in Movies @ Listverse

Thursday 26 May 2011

Medical & Vocabulary: "Hives" & Allergy

My Arm

Almost a year ago, 31st August, 2010, I suffered from heat rash after running under hot sun, I applied corticosteroid cream and I was fine. Yesterday, after I had had my shower, I sat in front of the computer and started feeling itchy in my buttocks. It got more and more itchy but I didn't realise what happened. Until at one point, I had to go to the toilet and I was shocked at the rash that was everywhere on my backside!!! Immediately I thought, it must be the mites on my chair, otherwise, why would it start only on my butt, so I quickly went to dilute some Dettol and wiped the infected areas.

After another hour, it spread down to my thighs, down to the knee caps, and slightly up my back. It became increasingly itchy and red and I found it difficult not to scratch.
My thigh
I tried to sleep anyway but when I got up, rash had covered my entire back and even up to the arms. I was afraid that it would spread to my face, and so I had to do something. I tried to apply some corticosteroid cream that was left from last time on my right arm to test the result, and after a short while, the rash had disappeared, so I applied it to everywhere I could see rash, and waited. Luckily, I was almost fine again before I left home to work. Took less than 2 hours to recover from the visual symptoms. (Although it is occasionally coming back in certain areas.)

What really happened I don't know. I was playing football in the rain yesterday on a muddy field in Happy Valley yesterday, and so were my students. I had shower in the public bathroom. I ate McDonald's for dinner. Which one of these could have caused the rash?

What kind of rash was it?

After a little research, I think this time, "Hives" is the most likely suspect. Medically, it is called Urticaria,
Hives is a common name in both English and Chinese speaking countries, meaning, the home of bees (beehive).
Image from
The cause of urticaria is often unknown, and it could well be allergy (food or medication), reaction to temperature changes, the sun, contact with poisonous plants, autoimmune, etc.

For my case, unless I'm allergic to McDonald's fast food or I took medicine which I don't know, all others seem likely. But I'm starting to think that mine is heavy-sport induced, just like heat rash I got last time. In fact, every time I have finished some sport, I do get some smaller ones on my arms, but not as serious as this one.

I don't like to take any kind of medication, I like to strengthen my body by making its immune system do more work and rely less on medicine, but I can't possibly go to work with hives all over my body. No choice.

Talking about allergy, a friend of mine told me that she is severely allergic to kiwifruit, and I found that quite surprising, so I went to find the answer, and from Wikipedia, the most informative paragraph is this one:
Image from

"Raw kiwifruit is also rich in the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidin, (in the same family of thiol proteases aspapain), which is commercially useful as a meat tenderizer, but can be an allergen for some individuals. Specifically, people allergic to latexpapayas or pineapples are likely to also be allergic to kiwifruit. The fruit also contains calcium oxalate crystals in the form of raphides. Reactions to these chemicals include sweating, tingling and sore mouth or throat; swelling of the lips, tongue and face; rash; vomiting and abdominal pain, heartburn; and, in the most severe cases, breathing difficulties, wheezing and collapse. The most common symptoms are unpleasant itching and soreness of the mouth, with the most common severe symptom being wheezing. Severe symptoms are most likely to occur in young children."[1]
Actinidain fruits: pineapple, mango, papaya

Never knew kiwifruits are so dangerous.
As mentioned above, "actinidain (or actinidin) is a type of cysteine protease enzyme found in fruits including kiwifruit (genus Actinidia), pineapplemango and papaya. This enzyme is part of the papain-like peptidase C1 family.

It is an allergen and commercially useful as a meat tenderizer."[2]

In some cases of severe allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock might occur [3], causing low blood pressure and inability to breath.

Is it that serious? Well, in House M.D. Season 5 episode House Divided, there is one episode when Dr. Chase went "into anaphylactic shock while taking a body shot from a stripper wearing strawberry body butter during his bachelor party."[4]

Anaphylaxis can be deadly! And one of the symptoms of anaphylaxis includes hives!! I better keep myself checked today because the symptoms can develop over minutes to hours.[3]

Medical & Vocabulary : Heat Rash and Bug Bites @ Locky's English Playground


Anaphylactic Shock @ YouTube

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Movie: Constantine

Image from
Mid-week recommendation, not a new movie, but for those of you with a thing for Shia LeBeouf of Transformers 1, 2, and the upcoming 3, Constantine can really give you a pre-star performance of the actor.
(Left-to-Right) Constantine, Midnite, and Chas standing outside of Papa Midnite’s bar.
Image from
But of course, the main focus isn't Shia LeBeouf, is Canadian actor Keanu Reeves! Oh, and the design of a nuclear-blasted world to be Hell is really a state-of-the-art too![1] Reminds me of how dangerous a nuclear disaster can be.
Hell @ Constantine
Image from

Adapted from the horror comic Hellblazer, Constantine talks about a cool but heavy-smoking John Constantine bargaining with Heaven by sending demons who made their ways to the "human plane" back to Hell. He then was involved in a murder investigation in which he discovered a much larger and darker plot.

"Welcome to my life!"
Image from Google
I really like the idea of having Heaven, Hell and the "human plane" all in the same dimension, and that there are the half-angels and half-demons who can cross these planes freely while human crossing the plane to Hell will need the help of a cat or to commit crimes before death. It is the first horror-plus-exorcist movie that uses cool high-tech Batman-James-Bond-like weapons -- The Holy Shotgun, the Gold Brass Knuckles blessed by the Bishop Anicott during the Crusades and Dragon's Breath, together with some traditional low-tech ones like Holy Water ampoules from the River Jordan and Screech beetle from Amityvilles, a piece of the shroud Moses wore to the mountain.[2]

John Constantine with Gold Brass Knuckles
John Constantine holding onto a Dragon's breath
Image from
Overall, I love this movie as the plot, the scene design, the theories are all making sense, it is really intriguing to be in the world of Constantine -- cool but filled with danger. The detective-and-conspiracy interlocks are thrilling and addictive to watch. A definitive movie you can't miss!

Image from

pre-star -- from the word "star" -- (adj) before becoming famous
brass knuckles -- (n) [plural] a metal weapon which is worn over the knuckles and is intended to increase the injuries caused when hitting a person
screech -- (n) [C] a long loud high noise which is unpleasant to hear


Keanue Reeves @ Wikipedia

[1] Constantine @ Wikipedia

[2] Constantine Script @ IMSDb

Constantine Trailer @ YouTube

Monday 23 May 2011

Medical: Thrombosis VS Embolism VS Atherosclerosis

Hugh Laurie as Dr Gregory House
Image from milliontalks

Another piece of information that I have learnt while watching House M.D. are these two terms, embolism and thrombosis.
Example of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and dislodging of a embolus
Image from daviddarling

Thrombosis "
is the formation of a blood clot (thrombus; Greek: θρόμβος) inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system." [1] In simple words, a dry ball made of blood get stuck in a blood vessel so the blood cannot flow.
"When a blood vessel is injured, the body uses platelets and fibrin to form a blood clot to prevent blood loss. Alternatively, even when a blood vessel is not injured, blood clots may form in the body if the proper conditions present themselves. If the clotting is too severe and the clot breaks free, the traveling clot is now known as an embolus.[1][2]." [1]

So, there is a medical condition caused by a travelling clot called embolism.

Image from blogspot

Embolism "is the event of lodging of an embolus ("any detached, itinerant intravascular mass (solid, liquid, or gaseous) as carried by circulation and capable of clogging arterial capillary beds at a site distant from its point of origin") into a narrow capillary vessel of an arterial bed which causes a blockage (vascular occlusion) in a distant part of the body." [2]

Image from

Now, do not mix up with Atherosclerosis ("also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease or ASVD), which is a condition in which an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol." [3]

Image from
The treatment to Atherosclerosis is through Angioplasty, "the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel, typically as a result of atherosclerosis. An empty and collapsed balloon on a guide wire, known as a balloon catheter, is passed into the narrowed locations and then inflated to a fixed size using water pressures some 75 to 500 times normal blood pressure (6 to 20 atmospheres). The balloon crushes the fatty deposits, opening up the blood vessel for improved flow, and the balloon is then deflated and withdrawn." [4]

If Angioplasty is performed in the heart's coronary arteries, it is generally called "Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)" or "coronary angioplasty." [4]
If similar technique is applied elsewhere, it is generally called "Stenting". [5]

However, thrombosis could happen during post-angioplasty and thus "Patients with stents are usually prescribed an anticoagulant, clopidogrel which is taken at the same time with acetylsalicylic acid. These medications are intended to prevent blood clots and they are usually taken for at least the first months after the procedure is performed. In most cases, patients are administrated this type of medication for 1 year. Also, patients who are doing dental work are advised to cancel it because there is a risk of endocarditis, an infection of the heart."

These medical terms are becoming more and more common in the newspapers, so we should all learn something about them so we can communicate with the doctors at the dining tables (or at hospital, touch wood!)