equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
30 Mar 06

A Quiet St. Patty's Among Others

Thumbnail: Old film Canon
Thumbnail: Lindsay's place
Thumbnail: Darren
Thumbnail: Lindsay
Thumbnail: Incense
Thumbnail: Digsby the cat
Thumbnail: Candelabra
Thumbnail: Scrabble game
Thumbnail: The look

Darren and I had orig­i­nally planned on dri­ving up together, but the tim­ing didn’t work out, so we arrived when we could and played it by ear. Bronny was the point of my visit, while Darren was there to see Lindsay. After a dri­ving from pub to pub, each one full of St. Patty’s day partiers adorned with green horns and hold­ing green pints, the four of us ended up at a small restau­rant, and even­tu­ally at Lindsay’s house.

It was Bronny who made the most inter­est­ing com­ment to me after­wards. “Darren needs to be with someone…deep”, she said, “Someone intel­lec­tual”. I still won­der what made her think so. What did we talk about? As far as I could remem­ber, there was no par­tic­u­larly inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion, just a bunch of us hang­ing out.

But she was right.

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26 Mar 06

A Girl's Room

Thumbnail: Green Ikea hanger
Thumbnail: Belts and bracelets
Thumbnail: Dream journal
Thumbnail: Sextrology book
Thumbnail: Valentine's card
Thumbnail: Sweetums

Some of this movie comes from, you know, from me, sure. But it’s not, you know, I’m never going to be able to make a movie that doesn’t, you know. Even if I’m mak­ing a movie about the turn of the cen­tury, I think you’re gonna, it’s always going to be per­sonal. It’s just in the detailed stuff; the horses in Sheryl Lynn’s bed­room, with the rib­bons on the wall, and you got sis­ters or you got a girl­friend who loves to ride horses and all this stuff. And those lit­tle details that you remem­ber, I’ve been lov­ing to put those in a movie.

I think, you know what, when I grew up in the val­ley, I lived there, I was really embar­rassed for the longest time that that’s where I lived and that’s where I grew up, cause I knew I wanted to make movies. And I would look back to my favourite direc­tors, and think, okay, there’s Howard Hawks, and boy, he served in the war. And there’s Ernst Lubich who escaped Germany, you know, and all these won­der­ful sort of things going on in our lives that you could, you’re sup­posed to bring to a movie, you know. But, I don’t have shit to bring, I was like, I’m from the fuck­ing val­ley, you know. And, I was really embar­rassed about that for a long time, I guess, until one day I just woke up and said, “Well, I’m from the val­ley, and I remem­ber things like lit­tle plas­tic horses and the blue rib­bon on the wall with the fuck­ing girl­friend, and you know, I guess that’s what I have to make movies about.”

—Paul Thomas Anderson, Boogie Nights director’s commentary

A girl and her things.

Memories of burn­ing can­dles, sham­poo scents. The colours and the smells give me a total over­whelm­ing sense of poignant nostalgia.

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been in a real girls room, and being there, in the mid­dle of all the dainty things and the dif­fer­ent fab­rics, I didn’t know what was more embar­rass­ing: the fact that I felt like I was 17 again, or the real­iza­tion of how much I’ve missed it.

And this is all I can write about.

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23 Mar 06

Greyhound To Her

Thumbnail: Greyhound decal
Thumbnail: Toronto city
Thumbnail: Bronwen on bed

They call it the red-eye for a rea­son, and although I’m expect­ing to sleep through most of the ride, I’m not pre­pared to wake up every half hour. The bus was sup­posed to be half-full, being 12:30 on a Friday morn­ing, but when I arrive at the sta­tion, the line stretches across the hall­way, dash­ing my hopes of a win­dow seat. The guy beside me watches movies on his lap­top, while the old man across the aisle works on an assort­ment of papers with the only light in the bus on. He sits alone, away from the win­dow, a big fuck you to any­one who may want a seat. It’s his light that keeps me up.

The grey­hound is sup­posed to stand for speed, named after the fastest breed of dog used in dog rac­ing, but for me it stands for free­dom. The cost is a stranger sit­ting next to you, a cou­ple hours of leg cramps, and a lit­tle over a hun­dred dollars.

The lay­over is an hour and a half. As I sit in the ter­mi­nal, I think of how close my par­ents are. I haven’t seen them since Christmas, and even though they’re an 45 minute drive away, I won’t be see­ing them this time around.

This bus brings me to her.

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19 Mar 06

New Lens Path

Thumbnail: Current lenses

Thumbnail: 70mm long

Thumbnail: 16mm wide

So I’ve devi­ated from my pre­vi­ous plan to wait until the new Canon 17–55mm f/2.8 IS came out before mak­ing any lens pur­chases. Aside from the fact that I would have had to wait until the sum­mer for reviews that may be less than favourable any­way, the main rea­son is that my two dream lenses, the Canon EF 24–70mm f/2.8 L and the Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8 L were being sold refur­bished and used respec­tively. I make it a habit to check one par­tic­u­lar pop­u­lar online retailer every morn­ing in case of any such deals, since they update their stock some time around five in the morn­ing and most lenses are gone by nine, L glass espe­cially. Although I had no plan on buy­ing either lens (I had yet to see either up for sale until this month), I couldn’t pass up the oppor­tu­nity. It saved me close to $2000 in total.

Now I have my ideal focal range cov­ered with a lens that goes as wide as 16mm for my envi­ron­men­tal and land­scape shots, and another one that goes as long as 70mm for por­traits. Both have ring ultra­sonic motor focus­ing sys­tems, which makes aut­o­fo­cus­ing beau­ti­fully slick, smooth, and quiet, with sup­port for full-time man­ual focus­ing as well. They also go as wide f/2.8, which is per­fect since I do a lot of low-light, indoor shoot­ing, and the extra aper­ture blades pro­vide but­tery smooth back­ground blur.

The trade-off is that both lenses are heavy, one heav­ier than the cam­era body itself. This comes from the fact that the con­struc­tion is rock-solid and weather-sealed, being made from metal and ground glass. There are sto­ries of peo­ple drop­ping their L lenses onto asphalt or rocks and sur­viv­ing with only cos­metic scratches.

After all the money I just spent (more than twice as much than on the cam­era itself), not includ­ing the extra hand-strap/bag/filters that went along with it, I’m try­ing not to think of my next pur­chase. In the back of my mind I know that I want a macro lens or a full frame body, but I think I’ll be sat­is­fied for the next lit­tle while.

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11 Mar 06

Only 19

And she’s all­l­l­l­l­l­l­l­l­lll mine.

Thumbnail: Bronwen model

After four months, I finally have the per­fect pic­ture for my frame. Ordered a 12x18 print that should be in next week.

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10 Mar 06

Table Tennis Growth

When I read the order of play to Norm, he laughed. The first group­ing was against Hit-And-Miss, and being such an active mem­ber in the com­mu­nity, Norm knew them well. Against this team of three middle-aged, white met­ro­sex­u­als and their buddy Chinese cap­tain, we fared what can only be described as holo­caus­tic. They wore tight-fitting shirts, styl­ish tear­away pants, and had the strength, and speed to match.

Except for the Chinese guy. He had a bit of a pot belly, a bit of a scruff, and a very feared, well-balanced, pen-holders grip. And he spoke great English.

It was a plea­sure to lose to such nice guys.

I asked them about the next team we were up against, and they told us that they trashed the two lit­tle guys at the last league meet. Little guys? Kids. But I can already tell that both have improved since last month, the capain told me.

No chal­lenge for four fit men in their thir­ties plus one Chinese guy (40 give or take 10 years). A lit­tle more dif­fi­cult for me and my team­mates, Norm, a calmly pas­sion­ate Chinese guy in his 50’s, and Andrzej, a Polish man who picked up table ten­nis this year after a 40 year break, both of whom are bet­ter than I am.

I never would have believed that an 11-year-old and his seven-year-old brother could be so intim­i­dat­ing, a very FRENCH Olivier and Laurent. As cap­tain, I had the deci­sion to make as to who was play­ing first.

In table ten­nis, as with chess, the strongest player on the team is usu­ally signed to the first match so that the matches may end before the weaker play­ers have to play. Captain 1 signs the play sheet for the order of play for his team, and hands the sheet folded in half to Captain 2 so he can’t see, and use such infor­ma­tion to his advan­tage by pair­ing up oppo­nent styles against their weak­nesses. Out of five matches, there are two sin­gles at the start, a dou­bles in the mid­dle, and two more sin­gles at the end between the first sin­gles oppo­nents reversed, for best out of five matches.

Confused yet?

Before I signed the play sheet, Norm let me in on a lit­tle secret; when Olivier was 10 last year, Norm beat him in the league. Gambling that this would still hold true, and our oppo­nents would fol­low form, I put Norm first, me sec­ond, and Andrew with Norm as dou­bles. That way Norm had the best chance at beat­ing the older brother, I would have a chance at beat­ing the younger brother, they would win dou­bles, and that would be it.

Unfortunately, they decided to play the younger brother, Laurent, first. He could only see about a foot over the table, and I could tell his move­ments were strained from the height dis­ad­van­tage. He spoke no English, except for the phrase “Backhand?” dur­ing warm-ups, and “One mo!” when he was at 10 points. Sometimes he would mimic the table ten­nis pros with lit­tle grunts of sat­is­fac­tion when he got a point. Eventually, he lost to Norm gra­ciously (for a seven-year-old).

Then I was up against the Olivier, the older brother. Believing that a pair of descended tes­ti­cles to be my only advan­tage, I played with a lump in my throat, and he returned like a machine, sur­pris­ing me at every point. I could never keep him off bal­ance, or run him around the table. He just kept land­ing the ball on my side.

I lost. Then we lost at dou­bles, a tremen­dous upset. My mind was out, and I was forced to play the younger brother next. I lost again, although I won one set after Norm told me to serve to the far side of his stance (they had a time-out and eas­ily adjusted for the next set). By that time, we lost three out of five matches, and they were deter­mined to be the win­ning team, but Olivier asked to play Norm for the final match any­way. When Oliver won, he walked over and shook Norm’s hand, a look of proud accom­plish­ment on his face.

And this is what Norm loves the most. To see those younger play­ers grow up and improve and become national team players.

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07 Mar 06

Card By Louise

Thumbnail: Gift card from Louise

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05 Mar 06

A Jumble Of Emotions

I’ve been a jum­ble of emo­tions lately. A mix of excite­ment and worry, fun and stress, unset­tling uncer­tainty and crossed-signals. On top of it all I keep get­ting all sorts of BULLSHIT from peo­ple, when it’s the last thing I need.

I gen­er­ally don’t like this feel­ing. To grow, and this is espe­cially true for me, one needs a foun­da­tion of sta­bil­ity. Once the basic things are con­stant, there can be changes and adjust­ments made to improve. Now I find myself strug­gling to keep the sim­plest things under control.

It’s cer­tainly been an inter­est­ing year so far.

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