Sunday, December 19, 2010

Signs of Aging

1. 
You remember when letters used to be written on actual paper with actual ink and smeared with an actual hand if you're left-handed like me. You also remember when you signed off on such letters in the bottom right corner if it was an informal letter, and the bottom left for a formal missive.

Or was that the other way around?

2.
You remember that there were different formats for letters used for different purposes, but can't remember the formats themselves to save your (shorter) life.

(actually, surat rasmi + tidak rasmi should about cover it, no??)

3.
You start to wonder when baby carriages became baby buggies and began looking less like baby transporters and more like aerodynamic space voyaging pods. Seriously, some look totally equipped to tackle a 4WD jungle course!

4. 
You also find it baffling that most of these contraptions have the baby facing outwards. I would imagine that a (new) baby sees the world as an alarming jumble of sights and sounds that are probably quite unpleasant when taken in large doses. This probably accounts for the number of screaming children you see in the mall.

Also, you'd think that a parent would prefer to look at a product that took 9 months to complete and god knows how long to create, rather than turn it around to face said alarming world during mall excursions.  

Everyone knows that the best parents are the people who don't have children.

5.
You begin to wonder when the heart throbs started getting younger by the day (yes, I know it's not their fault). I'm talking about you, Skandar Keynes.

6.
Christmas becomes less about presents, and more about sneering at the crass mass consumerism of the season.
 
7.
Any holiday occasion is just another opportunity for capitalist business pigs to wheedle away as much of your hard earned money as they possibly can before you shake off the hypnotic stupor that comes with shopping. Grr. Argh.

8.
Your days begin and end earlier, and fuzzy slippers begin to sound like the ideal footwear. The idea of buying new kitchen implements is dizzyingly exciting.

9. 
You come up with a list like this. Doh. 

10.
Er... I forgot what I was talking about.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On misplaced affection

Normally I scoff at silly females who name their appliances. Why the hell would anyone call a laptop Bernie, or coo over a huge kitchen mixer whom they've named Alfred?

Alfred?

Well, you know what happens when you scoff at something - you wind up doing the same damn thing you mocked. Currently, I'm so enamoured of the wicked little red peeler I got from Daiso on Sunday that I think of it as my "little 5-inch wonder".

My new best friend.

The sound of mocking laughter echoes bitterly in my head.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Urban wildlife: two sides of a coin

Living in one of the greener corners of Kuala Lumpur, we enjoy the benefit of free exhaust fumes every weekend as thousands of visitors descend on the park across the road. There is an up side and down side to living so close to the "wild":

The up side:

- The wonder of nature is close at hand as small woodland creatures like wild shrews, wee squirrels and your neighbour's semi-feral cats* frolic and play in your garden.

- In-depth observation of the ant's industrious ways is always possible.

- Birds attracted by the flowering plants in your garden let loose with a joyous burst of melodious song every morning, getting the day off to a great start.

- Nothing is more relaxing than seeing a butterfly flutter around said flowering plants.

The down side:

- Ants will want to share your sweets.

- The shrews will eventually be overcome by a burning desire to investigate your house. They will get as far as the living room before deciding they need to poop.

- The cats will be attracted by the shrews and pad in quietly after them. After failing to catch them, they will stroll in to the kitchen and scare the everloving life out of you by begging for some of the chicken you're slicing for dinner.**

* They go home to where the food is, but poop under your car.
** At least they're polite enough to sit quietly beside you and wait for you to notice them

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No-brainer decision of the week

Girl has two (2) choices when looking for a new coffee press:

1. Ikea
Capacity - 1 liter
Price - RM49.00
Materials - heavy-duty high melting point plastic, heat-resistant glass, stainless steel
Origin - China

2. Some polysyllabic European name she can't pronounce
Capacity - 250 mL
Price - RM99.00
Materials - heavy-duty high melting point plastic, heat-resistant glass, stainless steel
Origin - China

Making a choice was so hard.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking out for one another

Bro2 and I are watching the first (and very unsettling) episode of The Walking Dead. The following heartfelt conversation* ensues between scenes of (censored) gun violence**:

Bro2: If I ever turn into a zombie...
Me: Yes?
Bro2: Run away.
Me: What, why?
Bro2: So I won't eat your brains.
Me: Aw, that's sweet, but you know I'll shoot you in the head.
Bro2: Why?
Me: Cos that's how you make zombies dead, innit?
Bro2: I don't want to die lar--
Me: But you'd have to be dead to be a zombie. I'll use the meat cleaver if that makes you feel better.
Bro2: asdfghjkl; just run away and don't kill me dammit.
Me: I'll just walk away quickly, if you don't mind.
Bro2: This is why we don't talk.

* Usually we just hurl verbal abuse
** If you don't see the gunshot, did the zombie really take a bullet to the brain? I think not.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One Buddha a day

This is just a supplement to the previous statement that I was born on the day of Reclining (not Sleeping) Buddha. However, there are also some who assert that Tuesday is Sleeping Buddha day.


Sleeping Buddha image from Buddha-Images.com

What's the difference? Reclining Buddha was just chillin' and some giant (Asurindarahu) came up to him frontin', so Buddha made himself appear even larger than the giant and showed him the grandeur of heaven, as it were. That did the trick.

On the other hand, Sleeping Buddha represents the moment he went to greatness entered Nirvana.

On the other other hand... others use "reclining" and "sleeping" interchangeably, which is confusing and threatens to eject me from my Zen zone. Either way though, Tuesday's child has a major dose of the laidback.

Click here to determine on which day of the week you were born,
then refer here to see which Buddha pose is "yours" and what it means. Have fun!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Notes from Chiang Mai: day 1

The hardest thing about returning from a holiday is returning from it.

A.M.

- the flight is 2.5 hours. I want to advise the German passenger behind me to pony up the extra RM15 (?) for her next Air Asia flight so she'll have more space for her knobbly knees and the person in front won't have to receive an unsolicited lower back massage, as I did.

- Chiang Mai International Airport is small, but our guide is smaller. Mum and I were expecting a dude!

- our first sightseeing spot of the day: Doi Suthep temple. There are a few stories regarding the origin of the temple, but the most-repeated one is the legend of the White Elephant.

- the temple is located 30,000 feet above sea level* and the route to the top of the hill is long and widing. On a haze-free day, a vista of the city is yours to behold.

-  there are 300,000 steps leading to the temple, and if you cheat and take the tram up, you will not receive any merits.


- there is a little Miao tribe girl with whom you can take photos for a small "donation". Yes, she should be in school.

-  since it's still early (about 9 a.m. local time), all is quiet and cool. The ceramic tiles feel slippery and cold under our bare feet (no shoes in the temple, see) and I notice the stray dogs** lolling in the sunshine have glossy coats and appear very well-fed. Go, Thailand.

- Mum makes her first purchase of the trip: wind-up butterfly toys. Her first launch crashes, but the trader doesn't seem to mind.

- even though it's still morning, we have lunch right after we leave the temple and descend the hill. The pre-planned Thai laksa doesn't pan out as Mum vetoes anything with santan in it; I have regular tom yam noodles and she has pork 'n' rice.

P.M.

- it's still too early to check in to our hotel, so we visit the Royal Flora Ratchapruek garden.***

- The place is so dead that we don't even bother to hop off our tram, shortening a 30-minute ride in half.

- it's with much relief we trundle up to the check-in counter at the Suriwongse Hotel an hour later. The place is just around the corner from the night market (which, I dunno) and a Starbucks outlet no local would be caught dead at.

- our heads (or maybe just mine) are still spinning from the efficiency of check-in when we reach our room on the fifth floor in the new wing. It overlooks... the back lane.

- clearly, ours is not a "family" room, given that a window from the bathroom opens to the rest of the room, and there is no lock on the bathroom door.

- dinner is a khantoke-style repast, where the food is presented in artful little servings ala Korea (as many refills as you can wolf down barbarously):


- I have a mai-tai and decide I should've stuck to plain water.

- dinner is joined halfway by a performance incorporating Lanna culture.

- on a totally unrelated note, the khantoke dinner place releases giant lanterns for the benefit of the European guests. Us Asians see all that during CNY.

Fun Facts

- hunger + lack of sleep + driving ala Thai (all gas, no brakes) => impending car sickness.

- there is one Buddha for every day of the week; except Mondays and Sundays, where there is one each for morning and afternoon.

- Tuesday (my birthday) is the day of the Sleeping Buddha.


- Thais don't plant bougainvillea in the home as it implies that the husband may take on a mistress.

- Malaysian tom yam: redolent with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves; tomatoes are always present, as are shreds of chicken meat/beef/seafood.

- Thai tom yam: a layer of chili oil glistens on the top; slices of char siew abound, and there seems to be no end to the chunks of minced pork. The noodles and spring onions appear to have been added as an afterthought, and the serving is garnished with enough deep fried lard to clog an elephant's arteries.

-  Thai tom yam merits its own poetry.

* this is an approximation
** mastiff-Labrador retriever combinations, it would appear (!)
*** Originally conceived as a tribute to the King in 2006, the place has since become a white elephant (see what I did there?) that rivals our own, uh, Rakan Muda activity centers.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I think I've made it: Part 2

Drafting a vacation response is only for grownups right?

Grownups who have jobs and
make $$$ (yeaaah) and
who make grownup decisions like going on holiday to some foreign country (aren't they all?) and
enjoy grownup beverages like, uh, iced tea and
expect work-related emails from other examples of arrested juvenalia grownups to arrive in their inbox when they're away.

That's what grownups do, no?

I feel like someone's going to call me on a bluff at any moment now, HEHE.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Me so punny

I like watching cooking shows because there's always something to learn. I know I won't be writing for one any time soon, though, because I won't be able to resist slipping in, "Now, it's time for thyme!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

That's not how it's supposed to go

Ever since mum retired from active government service three (?) years ago, I have gradually taken over her duties as Interior Minister of Domestic Affairs. This was largely due to her appointment to a new portfolio: Executive Committee President of Personal Fitness Management.

Among the changes I have instituted was the purchase of a carbon steel/cast iron wok. I don't know what metal it's made from lah, but any hawker char kuey teow man would be proud to own it.

Culinary department developments appear to have culminated thus:

Mum: Today's veg is so tasty!
Me: I know right?
Mum: What did you do?
Me: The usual, pour my heart and soul into it.
Mum: Nah, that's not it.
Me: Fine, I used BIG fire. And different cooking oil.
Mum: Yeah, that's what I thought.

I may be due for a bonus soon (let's buy a deep fryer!).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Don't hate the player

Part of my routine includes collecting Dad's ironed laundry from the dobi. The dobi proprietress, Jane, is a chatty sort who seems to get a kick out of the fact I'm one of the few females who visits the place.

She addresses me as "hot stuff" and "hottie" whenever she sees me, which makes the other (male) customers take a second look, given that I tend to roll up in the daggiest of house-wear (tatty shirt, saggy walking shorts, hair in a careless ponytail).

She was working at the counter when I showed up a few days ago. The conversation went thus:

Jane: Wah, hot chick, how are you ah?
Me: Good, and you?
Jane: Same-same lah... your boyfriend how ah?
Me: Same-same la, hehe. How was your holiday?
Jane: Good-oh! Eh... you still freedom ah?

I was about to tell her that while I'm happy with Enfant Terrible, I also like not being married before I realised what she actually meant.

Me: Oh, you mean freelance issit?
Jane: Ya la!
Me: *pedantically* But you said "freedom" leh.
Jane: Aiyah, freelance... freedom, same la! You can go out anytime you want!
Me: Oh, ya huh!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Do 3 sets of 10; rinse, repeat

So, it's still pretty early this morning when I get my running shoes on and am about to traipse out the house when my mum wanders out of her bedroom.

"Where are you going?" she says.

"Gonna have a jalk," I reply.*

There is a moment's silence as she, who attends yoga, aerobics, resistance band training and something called "BodyPump" on a regular basis, mulls this over and eventually says, "Whoa... why?"

Because I've lost 3 kilos so far and would like to keep them off, THAT'S WHY. 

* jog-walk. I'd say "wog" but I'm not Carol Thatcher (wog -> gollywog -> Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, apparently)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I think I've made it

A sure sign I've become famous is when complete strangers send me emails that don't ask for my help in moving millions of dollars from an African bank account:
Have a beautiful Day ! 
Dear Angela [pseudonymous surname],  
in the small Polish town of Olesnica, there is a particular library. Please allow me to introduce you to: 
The Foreign Language Social Library, a part of the GLOWINSKIS' LIBRARY 
The Foreign Language Social Library (a part of the Glowinskis' Library) is a very special one in part because all of the library's books, as well as its huge gallery of illustrations (digitals and pictures), have been donated by not only the illustrators and writers themselves, but also by librarians, publishers and people with large hearts from around the whole world. 
I would be honored and delighted if you would consider donating anything of your work to our library. Your own book (with autograph or dedication), illustrations, and the like, would be most appreciated by our readership and by me personally.
The Glowinskis' Library lends books at no charge, and I work in the library as an unpaid volunteer. We depend entirely on people like you - large hearted people who love the printed word, books and illustrations - to make what we do possible. 
Please visit our website below to see who else has generously agreed to donate a small item of work to represent them at our library:
http://glowinski.olesnica.pl/index.php?lang=en&page=galeria 
http://glowinski.olesnica.pl/index.php?lang=pl&page=swiatowyksiegozbior 
Thank you for your time and consideration. 
With best regards from Poland, 
Tadeusz Glowinski Librarian
The best part is, this guy is TOTALLY FOR REAL. I totally looked him up. He's 63 years old. He's been carrying out this one-man crusade for years. PEOPLE REALLY DO SEND HIM THEIR OWN BOOKS.

You see the problem here, of course. If I adhere to his stipulations, then the only thing I can send him is my dissertation. That might actually be a good idea...

In the mean time, I shall settle for spreading Teddy's email around. I'm sure we can work something out. It's also an incentive to take NaNoWriMo seriously, no?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Emphatically so

It's a bad idea to watch something like True Blood in the wee hours of the morning - you have to stop yourself from squealing in (self) recognition when Eric Northman, the Sheriff of Area Five, coolly informs the vampire interrogator that Fangtasia's basement is spotlessly clean because "I'm a Virgo".


Then, you surf over to the sports channel and have to stuff your knuckles in your mouth (to keep quiet) because there's a sweaty, muscled Spaniard slowly, but surely, pounding a raffish-looking Serbian in to submission.

Conclusion: late-night TV is bad for me.


(As usual, full-sized images are available at a click)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Things that seem romantic until you say it out loud #478944321

"You know, darling, you should gain 10 kilos so I don't feel so obsessed with spending every waking moment with you."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

If it looks like chicken...

... but smells like month-old used socks, then you might have a problem.

Speaking from experience (yes, really), you only get a pong like that when the meat's been in the chiller for more than 4 days.

Sadly, it had actually been sitting in the freezer for 4 days, and the stench of rot hit my unfortunate nostrils the moment I peeled the cling-wrap off the thawed meat.

Really, [locally-owned chicken vendor], how could you?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not Cinderella aka That was completely uncalled for

Mum is cleaning out the shoe corner for a reason none of us can fathom, and unearths a shoe box. Opening it, she queries, "Whose Bata sandals are these?"

I think therefore I am for a moment before claiming them.

(I'm the only person who wears anything from Bata in this family)

"Unpossible!" says the mater.

"Why not??" quoth I.

"These are clearly TOO SMALL to fit on your monstrously long feet!"

So I hurry over for a look and, lo and behold, they are indeed my Bata sandals that I stopped wearing last month.

Too small indeed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to tell if you're ill, not awesome

First off, I should known something had gone horribly wrong when, to the great bemusement of Enfant Terrible, I chortled my way through Vampires Suck. The movie didn't have much to offer other than the cast's spot-on parodies of the characters from Twilight and clever jokes were thin on the ground.

This is just a guess, but I think the excitement of coming back from China combined with squid on the wrong side of fresh means that you'll visit the loo again and again. And again as your insides keep disagreeing with whatever's inside them.

Next, you'll go to bed, only to wake up a few hours later for yet another visit, and this is where the fun begins. Signs that something is terribly wrong with you include:

- cold sweat
- a face that feels simultaneously flushed and chilled
- the urge to drool uncontrollably
- a swift loss of sensation in your extremities
- swimming/blurred/sparkling vision
- a roaring sound in your ears that deafens you to everything else
- the feeling of receding from the world as the darkness closes in around you

If you're anything like me, you lurch off the commode in a bid to prevent tomorrow's excruciating headline ("Diarrhea fatality found in em-bare-ass-ing position"), and somehow make it to the bottle of rehydration solution you cleverly prepared earlier but stupidly neglected to sip.

The excitement continues as you reel back in the direction you came, only to have a doorframe stand in the way of your face before you do your best impression of a bull in a china shop. Fortunately, your memory is dead-on and the porcelain throne is exactly where you left it.

Madly chugging the solution as though your life depends on it (and it probably did), you feel consciousness fight its way through the fog and slowly win. Your brothers will get involved here as they're still awake despite the odd hour, and provide you with the means to carry out a task that should only be confined to a Jackass production.

I think I'll watch some tennis now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

On the importance of paying attention

It must be me, because I can't imagine why anyone isn't tickled by the religious incongruity this month:

Hungry Ghost festival (Buddhist/Taoist/ancestor worship) - spirits of the dead, who didn't receive a proper send-off, offerings or misbehaved when they were alive, are set free to roam the earth. The living burn offerings and whatnot to appease said spirits.

Ramadhan - demons are chained up during the fasting month. I presume this is to ensure mankind is only tormented by temptations of its own doing?

I don't visit the park expressly to eavesdrop, but it's hard not to listen in on someone's conversation when they're talking so loudly that even monkeys on the other side of the hill flee in surprise.

After squealing over a meter-long snake that threatened to chase them (it was still shaking off the cold, mind), Miss UK began honking on about movies and whatnot and her two local friends* tried to keep up in terms of enthusiasm and volume.

Miss UK: What's a movie you've seen recently that really made you think?
Friend 1: Inception was cool.
Miss UK: OMG YES WASN'T THAT AN AMAZING MOVIE??? Which bit did you like best?
Friend 2: Oh, ya, I liked that show, especially the part where the Chinese guy went in to limbo...

I'm sure it was an easy mistake to make, given that SAITO was travelling in a BULLET TRAIN headed to KYOTO.

* It's funny how locals tend to shape their accents to complement that of Westerners. It never sounds natural, but it's such a compulsion that resistance is futile.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Instructional: How to handle a dead body

The same way it doesn't make a jaunt through the pasar ramadhan more romantic, attending a wake on a rainy evening does not make the event more poignant.

This is because:

a) It's not a bloody movie
b) It's bloody reality (which means there isn't anyone like Arthur!Inception around to give you a saucy "kick")

If anything, it annoys you because you have to contend with the cold rain trickling down your neck, fogged glasses and worry that you will disrespectfully trek mud up and down your aunt's porch as you pay your respects to her deceased husband.

My uncle, who was the fifth of my mother's six brothers (true story), died after being struck by a second heart attack, the first of which took place maybe 2 hours prior. At least, that's what I gathered from my aunt's recollection. 

Aside from deciding that mourners gathering around to express their condolences to my bleary-eyed aunt and cousins was a horrible spectacle akin to rubbernecking at an automobile accident, I also learnt how much it costs to organise a funeral. 

A minimum of RM18,000* will ensure that Nirvana Memorial Services (NMS) handles everything from notifications to peanuts to purification rituals. RM20,000 more will get you a better hearse and cort├Ęge arrangement and 200 SMS notifications instead of 100. Also: more chairs.

My role at the funeral was to observe quietly and marvel at how NMS have refined the postmortem ritual down to a well-oiled operation. Points of interest included:

- Everyone younger than the deceased has to wear a white sash, knotted on the left and accessorised with a red ribbon to ward off bad energy.
- Uncle #2 kicking up a prolonged fuss when he discovered that my grandfather's name was written on the banner instead of his brother's, not because he cares, but because he's a bitchy old man whose sole purpose in life appears to be kicking up a fuss.
- Turning away when the coffin was brought out to ward off bad energy.
- Uncle #2 being led away to prevent emission of more bad energy (kidding).
- If you don't know when to bow, take your cue from the monk/nun at the altar.
- The monk/nun announces the departure of the deceased, presumably to the Emperor of Heaven (or Hell), chanting out his name, dates of birth and death, and, um, his address.
- They do love them marching bands at Chinese funerals, don't they?

After paying our respects at the home, mourners proceeded to the NMS crematorium across town. More observation ensued:

- If only places for living people were as peaceful and inviting as the memorial park.
- Buddhist funeral chanting, dry ice and a benevolent image of Buddha from whose third eye a green laser emits to play across the coffin as it slowly rolls in to the cremation chamber makes for major eye-rolling.
- Being a stone-cold killer scribe counts for nothing as the finality of death virtually hits you across the face with a two-handed backhand of horror thanks to the protracted farewell that eventually takes its toll on your battle-hardened self (so that's why it goes on so long!).

A great way to end the afternoon was to have everyone reminisce about the deceased over a catered lunch (we did, sorta). Unfortunately, death is serious business, and an offer to tour the memorial grounds soon became a sales pitch for those who were interested in "investing in the future". I would say something clever here but I'm much too hungry right now.

* this price excludes the cost of a cremation urn and a "unit" in their columbarium

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Separated at Birth Fail

So I watched a bit of  the World Cup and was struck by the resemblance between footballer Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez (Mexico) and one Jensen Ackles (actor, Texas). I wanted to do a side by side comparison but couldn't find a good shot of Hernandez. This will have to do: 

Bless his eyebrows

Is one of them a cross-border brother from another mother or are they just two dudes who look uncannily like one another? Either way, they're a big timely reminder from this lovely universe that honest to god bishies have a place in every country and society.

The good thing about knowing nothing about a person is that you can project anything you want on them. They both look like the stoic, muy macho type who keeps everything inside, but just as you're about to break up with him for being so secretive, he mutters, “Te amo,” and stalks off.

Bless his, er, oh god, where do I start?

I'm also bracing myself for the onslaught of breathless badfic that is sure to result when slashers realise that Hernandez joining the BPL* (from C.D. Guadalajara; the first Mexican player evar!) will set the stage for a cross-continental encounter of the Iberian kind:

“The one they called 'Little Pea' stood uncertainly in the doorway, wishing he could flee the carnage before him. It was what BPL execs called a 'welcoming party', only no one had thought to furnish him with a translator. Chicharito's textbook English was never going to cut it here**; his thoughts were already back in Mexico, pining for the almost forgotten warmth and raucousness of his own family.

Just as the unhappy Mexican newcomer was about to slap himself on the forehead, mentally berating himself for making such a hasty decision, a voice like warm honey melted through the swirling torrent of homesickness and regret.

'Hola,' said Fernando Torres. Receiving no answer, he cocked his head quizzically at the young man, who was staring at him with the brightest, most beautiful green eyes he had ever seen. He tried again. 'You speak English, no?'

'Si!' Hernandez answered hurriedly. 'I mean, yes. Yes, I speak English.' Why was he so flustered? Maybe it had something, or everything, to do with the handsome Spaniard looking at him, a friendly smile playing on his lips. He couldn't help but admire the casual, loving manner the Spanish player's shirt draped his broad shoulders, its bright red colour the perfect complement to a shock of golden hair that fell carelessly over clear brown eyes...”

* He'll probably move his family there, away from the Mexi drug cartels, at the first chance he gets! /stereotyping 

** not true, really 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Strategising on Saturday



these are my notes from yesterday’s rehearsal session for my graduation ceremony on Tuesday:

8.50 a.m. - skip breakfast and ignore road etiquette to get to UM on time for the rehearsal session.

9 a.m.  - pray fervently that Malaysian timing comes into play.

9.20 a.m. - prayers answered (not proud of it).
 - the hall is barely full. these are the thousands of graduates due to receive their scrolls next week?

 - curse under my breath as the announcer announces that the post-grad briefing will only take place at 11 a.m.

 - decide to listen to the undergrads’ briefing anyway.
10 a.m.  - bursting for a pee. the toilets are still clean. great!
10.30 a.m. - everyone laughs at the undergrad who presents a deep, 90-degree bow during the practice session.
11 a.m.  - post-grad briefing begins. it’s a rehash of what was presented earlier, but with a facilitator from the institute of post-grad studies instead of the exam unit and no practice.
 - the guide on how to put on academic dress is in video format.
 - refrain from growling “I’m the Batman!” when the model lifts one arm, then the other to show how the sleeves should fall correctly.
11.30 a.m. - realise that even though the facilitator promised to speak in English and BM, his English is actually less fluent than that of the facilitator from the exam unit.
 - excitement ripples through the audience when it is announced that we will be receiving our scrolls from the Pro-Chancellor of UM @ his royal handsomeness the crown prince of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah. FFS he’s 53 this year!
12.15 p.m. - leave. the sun is too bright.


I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to do already.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Here and now

I was driving one day when Adam Lambert came on. Hearing him screech the first lines of If I Had You* filled me with such manic glee (or depthless despair? I don't know) that I felt like putting my foot down and driving straight into the nearest immovable object.

Death, like your dream wedding or how many children you want to have, is one of those things people don't talk about unless persuaded with red hot pokers or Lady Gaga's Alejandro (once is bad enough). I guess it's taboo because you'll jinx yourself somehow, and die on your wedding day or while making said imaginary children.

In any case, I want a cremation when I'm daed. There's no need for me to lie in state like Uncle Ho or get a ridiculous granite gravestone so that whoever's left behind has to think of something pithy and brief to put on it, because I didn't expect to die so soon and hadn't thought of anything memorable yet. Did you know that "pithy" and "brief" mean the same thing?

Anyway, I don't intend to sit in a jar in a crematorium, forgotten until it's my birthday or death day. No, if I can't be a star while I'm still alive, I want to be sparkly in death. Like a Stephenie Meyer vampire, but more deader.


So, yes, I like the idea of a company like LifeGem. It may not appeal to some people, but having a dead loved one in portable form and always close by sounds like a nice idea. Besides, if you really cared about that person, you'd get over your squeamishness and fork over the minimum of $3499 needed to turn them into a 0.2-0.29 carat blue diamond (above).

They don't even need the entire body; just 200g of ash or a lock of hair and you're set! That means you can donate the rest of the junk to science and/or organ banks (if everything is still in working condition, that is).

For an Asian slant (ahem), I believe there's a Taiwanese company that does something similar, but it turns you into jade instead.

* "So I got my boots on, got the right 'mount of leather/And I'm doing me up with a black color liner/And I'm workin' my strut but I know it don't matter" … I think the video will be the visual equivalent of driving ice picks into my ears. It could be a good thing…

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm…"

Have you ever noticed that the people who drink the protein shakes are the ones who are never around when heavy lifting needs to be done? Imagine lil' ol' me lugging a pail of rain water to the kitchen so we can do our bit for the future while Bro2 looks on idly from his seat at the PC.

This college dodge ball hero makes his protein drinks every day without fail and with clockwork precision at precisely the right time. And he watches like a lord as everyone else carries out the chores. He might be thinking, "A successful alarm dodges near the dash." That's a stupid phrase, by the way, and I don't know where I picked that up.

You see things like this everywhere, the most glaring example being the big hero swaggering through the mall with 5 or 6 wee children all under the age of 10 (wtf???) trailing merrily behind him and trying to pull their mother in 4 different directions. Said mother has a resigned look on her face that shows she totally didn't sign up for this shit.

Okay, maybe it's been a bad day for me but it could be worse. I could be Ronnie James Dio hahaha.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Culinary Conversations

Dad comes home after an exhausting evening of boozing. He heads to the kitchen to see what I've cooked for dinner.

Dad: Wah, so much pork!
Me: Uh-huh.
Dad: *lifts the kuali lid* Oh, no green veggie.
Me: That's (light green) cabbage!
Dad: But it's not green.
Me: What colour is it then?
Dad: Cabbage is white.

I also now know Laura Calder is a fraud who spends all her time leaning towards the camera because it's the only way she can keep an audience's attention. She was roasting a chicken and said she loves breast meat because it's the best bit off a bird.

Everyone knows deep-fried/roasted crispy chicken skin is the only thing that matters.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weirdness of the Day/Week


So there I was, happily trotting along in my lovely new running shoes past some houses when a geezer strolls out from a side road up ahead.

I shoot a glance at him and recognize him; everybody needs a morning stroll every now and then. You may get slower with age, but it doesn't mean you have to stop completely.

He sees me, and I nod and smile in acknowledgment. Just as I pass him, he says, "You remind me of my daughter."

Moral: people can get lonely, more so old people. It's okay to have a chat as long as they don't offer to bring you somewhere "nearby" for tea (context).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekend Dilemma


Q: Do I watch Ip Man 2 or Iron Man 2?
A: Yes.

Donnie Yen is no Tony Leung and knows it. To his credit, he doesn't merely sleepwalk through the bits where he has to emote, instead providing a competent performance as Ip Man the family man, Ip Man the faithful friend and Ip Man the Champion of the Chinese. The latter, of course, is the most convincing, but I shouldn’t be postulating because I don't know what Ip Man the (actual) man was like.

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I shouldn't pretend to be a film analyst either, but Sammo Hung has come a long way from the days of performing kung fu slapstick with Jackie Chan. He, like Simon Yam, is probably one of the most underrated actors of their generation. Sidelined from leading roles due to their lack of matinee idol looks, they spent their time in the shadows cultivating subtle nuances that make their characters memorable despite the relative lack of screen time.

Of course, Hung is always memorable thanks to his prodigious girth (oh yes, I said it).

True to the 1950's style characterization, the villainous Brits are stereotypical caricatures. Enfant Terrible and I couldn't get over how carefully "English" their enunciation was. In fact, they took such pains to sound English; we were convinced they weren't English at all.

Darren Shahlavi (of Iranian-British descent), touted by director Wilson Yip as "a martial artist who has been a fan of Donnie Yen", was interesting – his character brims, no, seethes with barely repressed homosexuality and seems completely incapable of using his indoor voice. I understand he's called "The Twister" as in "a tornado", but he really should've been named "The Tantrum".

However, I commend him for his ability to sneer and snarl without getting any face cramps, and the ability to make his veins pop without any apparent strain.

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(This man manages to look both baffled and angry in most of his scenes)

The action scenes were what the crowd came for, and they were certainly worth the ticket price. It may sound like contradictory when I say the first Ip Man movie was better, but that's only because it was so awesome. This sequel, which was pretty awesome in its own right, thus pales in comparison beside it.

Trivia pulled from Wikipedia says Hung underwent cardiac surgery prior to principal filming. He apparently plans to "challenge" Yen in subsequent films because their duels in IM2 were restrained by the script. I'd buy tickets to that.

When I told her about the trailer, my mother she say: aiyah, when they're fighting they only film them from the waist up lah! My mother, she was totally right.

In the meantime, I'll be practicing that signature pigeon-toed shuffle. You know the one I mean.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Random Letters

Dear Adam,

I really liked you when you were on American Idol. I was unhappy when you wound up runner-up but was sure that you would eventually do better than Kris because you were FIERCE dammit.

Your album cover had me wondering if some restraint could've been exercised when it came to creative control. Ditto your preponderance towards screeching, and your apparent ambition to channel Queen Elvis.

I'm still not over your costume choice when you were in Sydney for Mardi Gras either. I didn't even know codpieces came those sizes; were you trying to be seen from outer space, by Ziggy Stardust perhaps? I hate to break it to you, but Ziggy don't play that way no more.

Also, you might want to go easy on the carbs.

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Careful, you're gonna have someone's eye (or other body parts) out!

The only cause that allows me to hope for better things in your future is how nice you look when you stop overdosing on eyeliner and styling products (but I won't say anything about the pancake base, okay?).

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See (if this really is you, then carry on)?

In fact, you and that nice Johnny Weir would make such a cute couple. I can't imagine why anyone hasn't slashed the two of you already. You'd have such catty (but cute!) fights over whose turn is it to wear the (leather) pants.

Always yours,

Auntie Kaypoh.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I May Be Gone For a While


Dear world,

I'm sorry if we haven't been in touch, but I've been watching Lady Gaga's Telephone video at every chance I have lately. I refer, of course, to the full-length explicit version that runs for nearly 10 minutes and is (still) available on her site, so you don't have to visit YourT00b to whet your curiosity.

I think I could watch it a hundred times and still find something new, because there just seems to be that much going on in it. That's to say nothing of the blatant product placement that just seems to work because the whole thing's a live-action cartoon, albeit a nasty one.

Everyone knows about the use of Tiberium, but there's also the Michael Jackson tribute as well as the reference to an earlier video (Paparazzi) in the form of the Mickey Mouse sunglasses. I'm sure there's an entire shipload of references I missed because I'm not from New York/USA/wherever Jonas Akerlund is from (SWEDISH DEATH METAL BAND).

On another occasion, she looks uncannily like Mara, the leader of the creepy alien children in Village of The Damned, when she puts on her pokerface in well, Pokerface.
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Then, there's that sexy take on Gandalf in Love Game (that might just be me though). And, dancing with a bunch of parkour-esque-istos like Madonna? Really? Not to mention writhing around dressed in only rhinestones and body paint ala a certain Ms Spears at a point in her life when she was hot. Did she really wanna take a ride on a disco stick that badly?

Don't even get me started on Bad Romance, which is Pan's Labyrinth + James Bond but gone all sorts of wrong.

And there you have it, almost half of her entire discography and enough pop culture references for an entire thesis. Either she is very clever or considers videos of yore her very own bag of pick-n-mix.

I like watching her gyrate but her face confuses me because she looks like Marilyn Manson. Come to think of it, Mr. Warner has been very quiet after the release of Eat Me, Drink Me, hasn't he? He's clearly moving in a different direction, and I must say that fetish lingerie suits him.

On the other hand, we shouldn't be surprised at all, given the way he dressed in the band's earlier days. It should be noted though, that his mastery of walking elegantly in ultra-high heels is commendable and impressive, although not wholly surprising.

In the meantime, I remain thus occupied, trying to get Bad Romance to load. Didn't you hear, it's the most-viewed vid on YouTube now.

And, because that was really long (it's been ages since the last post), here is a comic I just don't get.

p.s. - You know what one of the cutest things about Date Night is? The fact that the entire adventure kicks off on a Friday evening and is resolved at the end of the night, allowing them to spend the weekend relaxing and reconnecting. Genius.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Something Something

 An incongruous sense of serenity overcame me when I listened in on my neighbour blasting Hujan (or someone who sounds like them) in the still, breathless vacuum that preceded an awesome thunderstorm.

Only, it didn't rain all that hard in the end. Or at all.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Your Chance To Be A Superstar!

I picked a great day to read The Malay Mail on Tuesday. Fly halfway across the country at my own expense and pay a "processing fee" for a job I may or may not get? Sure!

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 (click for bigger version)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Something Is Wrong With This Picture (Contains Language)

I need to get something off my chest, and I'm not talking about an under-filled bra.

1. Dad gets to work a half-day today thanks to Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg of the Petronas racing team. As you know, the F1 carnival has come to town and everyone who's anyone will be begging for tickets to the paddock. It will be like a giant car show, only you don't get to sit in the car, honk the horn, wrestle the steering wheel and test the suspension.

What does his [North American] high commission have to do with two Europeans driving for a Malaysian outfit? Nothing, expect that the roads around their building and the general area will be closed from 2-7 p.m. today for some race demo thing, so they've been advised to leave early.

I remember dad mentioning how the route has been newly tarred to provide a smooth driving surface. We don't want to be known as the country whose potholed capital city killed two competitive drivers, do we?

2. I thought I was jaded as far as Malaysian "punctuality" goes, but even I cringed when Robert Rainford had to wait 1.5 hours to serve his painstakingly prepped barbecue stuff. It's okay to be horrendously late for a gala dinner as long as you're a "dignitary". I'm not a fan of barbecue, but I felt sorry just looking at his disheartened mug on the TV screen.

For shame, you as-yet-unidentified "VIP" (the minister of tourism, really?). If the proles, bourgeoisie and hoi polloi can arrive on time, early even, without the assistance of outriders, then what's your excuse?

I missed the first 15 minutes of the show, which was filmed in June 09, so I didn't see how six (6!) of X number of chefs wound up going AWOL on the big day. I know when that happens though, you're definitely in Malaysia and it doesn't bode well for the rest of your day.

3. Watching E! News makes me hate myself. The presenters chortle about the latest celebrity sex scandal (tape/mistress/mistress on tape) and in the next breath, squeal about how disgusting it was to hear that Lady Gaga asked Boy George to sign her v-a-g-i-n-a (he declined because he didn't have a pen).

In fact, they work themselves into a state of near-apoplexy trying not to say the word, settling instead for clever euphemisms like "nasty bits", "down there", "hoo-ha" (what the fuck, are you in grade school?) and (my un-favorite) "vajayjay".

I feel like Joseph Conrad's savage. How can you gleefully report who's having sex with whom and yet shrink away from pronouncing anatomic terms correctly? That is some serious fucked up bullshit.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Operation Losing It: Day 35 Progress Report


I… have been derailed. I've bought a(nother) cake recipe book and can't wait to try it! You can't blame me, there was a sale! Pineapple upside down cake! Surprise cake! Is there no one who doesn’t like cake??

Not all is lost though, as my revved-up metabolism continues to allow me to wear my clothes without looking like an overstuffed sausage as long as I hold my breath.

Today, whether you want to know or not, I will explain what palm-sized portions constitute:

Every portion of food you take (meat, veg, carbs, fruits, SWEETS) should be able to fit into the cupped palm of your hand. I'm sure you already knew that. Eating this way can make you feel like you're depriving yourself, but it reinforces the habit of eating constant but smaller meals, which provides a continuous source of energy.

That is the theory. In practice, your life will not be a happy one if your hands are as small as mine are. There's also the 9-inch theory and the 1/3 theory, which leads me to believe "methods" such as these were dreamed up by men, since they're always so geeky about numbers and sizes and things like that.

Thank you and good night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Progress Report Day 28: Diversion

This week's report has been held over because:

#1 – speculating what Smuggler the Shady Neighbour may have gotten himself into is more interesting, and,

#2 – no one really wants to read about how adopting better running posture, decreasing stride length and increasing cadence has helped me run more comfortably, although it has and I'm very chuffed about it. I feel ready to justice to a marathon right now hur hur hur. No, not really, but close enough.

So, my neighbour from one door down is an object of curiosity for me. He keeps to himself, and I used to pretend he was a smuggler because he comes and goes at the oddest hours and his car windows are fully tinted (mum: you are so kaypoh, you know that?).

On the other hand, he has the coolest garden, which has a sort of shabby neglected chic vibe in which bird-of-paradise flowers thrive very well. Maybe I'm just a sucker for cinderblock structures and Buddha heads entwined in vines.

However, other people's business is not my business, until last weekend, that is. On Saturday evening, Smuggler parked his shady-looking car under his porch instead of outside on the drive as he usually does and the license plate had been covered up. It was just sheets of white paper stuck together with cellotape, but what morally-upright member of society does that anyway?

When a police car stopped near the house on Monday night, I was absolutely certain that they'd found the body and traced it back to Smuggler. Instead of kicking down his doors though, they questioned some other guy who'd apparently been sitting for too long in his car for some resident's comfort.

The car remained "inside" all weekend until yesterday. Mum reported that visual contact of Smuggler had been made and there was a moving truck outside his house. Clearly he's going to go underground for a while.

The Effort Counts

Bro2 (uncertainly and apropos of nothing): Dad made me a sandwich once.
Me: Huh.
Bro2 (face twisted in distaste): I took a bite and was like, "Eargh, what is this?"
Me: And?
Bro2: And he said, "Garlic butter and jam!"
Me: *rofl*
Mum: That's not really a sandwich.*
Bro2: Garlic butter and jam!!!

It's certainly nothing you find on a sandwich menu. As far as I know, there's no jam in the fridge either.

* A sandwich is two or more slices of bread with filling (meat, veg, not butter) in between.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Solomon Kane makes me stupid


What a big… sword you have there, Solomon Kane.

Viewers, meet your antidote to the execrable Percy Jackson.

I've been trying to write about Solomon Kane ever since I watched it on Tuesday but this is all I get: LONG LEAN LEGS WAHWAHWAH LONG STRAGGLY HAIR WHY IS HE SO HOT DROOLDROOLDROOOOOOOOOOOL OMG IS HE POUTING. Suits you, James Purefoy.

What I found incongruous though was how quickly he turned from snarly, evil bandit-type scoundrel into a sniveling, cringing "God, why hast thou forsaken me?" sap upon being told his soul is DAMNED.

That was not a spoiler. In fact, it's the entire premise of the movie. You might even be tempted to draw comparisons to Angel in BTVS, but without the sex and ultimate happiness bit. This is because Solomon Kane is a Puritan (this is important).

Anyway, dude has fought, raided and slaughtered his way across the Dark Continent, presumably in her royal majesty's name (?). Did he really expect to get to heaven for his deeds? Oh wait, Solomon Kane is a Puritan. That explains everything. Puritans don't go to heaven, they go to America, and they angst a hell of a lot on the way there too.

This means there's no romance in the movie. I hate romantic movies. Romantic movies suck. I didn't watch Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day is a movie for young girls and people who don't actually have romance in their lives and can only get some at the cinema. Or who have major, desperate joneses for Shark/Wolfboy.

I'm not bitter, just unkind. The best romance I ever saw was between the Joker and Batman.

Solomon Kane angsts over everything. He broods when he's not angsting. Maybe he's upset at how much he resembles Hugh Jackman a la Van Helsing. It's possible he carries more emotional baggage than Bruce Wayne. Speaking of Batman, Enfant Terrible is certain Batman would win a fight against Solomon Kane.

They're both superheroes anyway, because they both wear cloaks. Sorry, capes.

Because Solomon Kane* is Puritan, it also means there are a grand total of two topless scenes in the film, both completely contextual. I love alliteration and that was not a spoiler either.

You know what Solomon Kane should jettison though – the dialogue. Dialogue appropriate for speech bubbles doesn't translate very well into actual speech. I liked the setting though. There was loads of mud, ensuring that all misery displayed was authentic.

Here is a brief evolution of the Solomon Kane look:

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Classic


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Dream, is that you?

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Well, hallo thar!

Love the hat. All the cool dudes wear one. Alucard has one.

Fun facts: Doug Jones (recently seen in Hell Boy I and II, Pan's Labyrinth, Quarantine… Richie Rich) does not play any of the monsters in this movie.

* There's just something about the name that requires it to be said in full, like Chuck Norris, e.g. Solomon Kane doesn't angst, he anguishes.