Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Happy New Year...

Listening to: 11.11 - Regina Spektor

Less than 6 hours from now, and it'll be 2007.

This year has felt as if it was 15 months to me. Time tends to stretch when you're kept busy with work and your hobbies. Especially when its your first job...

It was also the year where a small bunch of folks in Penang started a tiny alt-film club. Attendance has been decent, with 10 to 12 people per screening. As of now, we haven't decided on a name...

Anyways, I'm avoiding Gurney Plaza at all costs. It'll be jammed to the brim with hordes and hordes of people, and I don't want folks jumping up and down on my car. Its pretty hard to get spares for an Oldsmobile...

I'll be spending the night with some pals, including several who are in a band. Mr. Jack Daniels and Dr. Jim Beam will be joining. If it means waiting till daylight for the alcohol to drop to the legal level, so be it. Once again, its hard getting spares and collision repair for a 1961 Oldsmobile. And Life has no "Load Saved Game" you can use if you ever get killed.

Drive safety. Drive wisely. Mr. Daniels can be a good friend, but never let him get behind the wheel with you.

So Happy 2007 to everyone!

And Selamat Hari Raya Aidil-Adha to the Muslim bloggers & readers like Walski, Kris, and Yasmin. And who could forget Menj too, despite his bile regularly thrown at those Khristiens, Boodheests and Hindues?! :-D

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Who Knew Suburban KL Could Be This Depressing?

Question: What do James Lee, Tan Chui Mui, and Ho Yuhang have in common?

I) They use a lot of long drawn-out shots in their works
II) They believe film must be used to project the glory of one's race.
III) Very little dialogue is used in their movies
IV) They believe Turkish Star Wars is the best movie... eva!!

A) I only
B) I and III only
C) II and III only
D) IV only

To get the answer, read the review below...

A month back, I met Tan Chui Mui at a screening of various short films at Han Chiang College. My friend and I chatted with her and her pals on bits and pieces of stuff about local alternative films and our still-unnamed film club. Her directoral debut "Love Conquers All" was set for release on Dec 21st. I got several leaflets for her movie, and I was going to be her unofficial "Minister of Propaganda and Advertizing" in the Penang area.

The film had won a couple of awards at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival earlier. All the more to see it, methinks...

Come Dec 21st and I went with several friends to the theatre. There were only five people in the theatre at first... all my friends. But later, we were joined by two more pals and later another ten strangers came in and sat at the back.

One thing I hate about Malaysian cinemas are the barrage of commercials they roll before the film actually starts. Back in 2000, ads never exceeded 15 minutes total. Now, you have to endure 35 minutes of propaganda for beer, cameras, cellphones, cellphones with cameras, sanitary pads, cars, "lifestyle massage chairs" and other stuff. You pay RM9 for this assault on your eyes. Something must be done...

We Malaysians need to act on this commercialist overload. Not by tossing rocks, popcorn, or small animals at the screen (that will get you kicked out), but with sarcastic remarks whenever those adverts play. Feel free to make fun of how Jessica Alba probably never drank more than one sixpack of Tiger in her life. Or those insurance ads where a typical Malaysian family is running around in a field of buttercups and fir trees that probably isn't near Tanjong Malim.

Hey, if you have to endure 30mins of adverts, you may as well make the best out of a terrible situation. Always look at the bright side of life... as Monty Python says.

Anyway, back to the film... which started after the irritating 35 minutes of commercials. Our heroine/protagonist/airhead Ah Ping (Coral Ong) has just moved over from Bukit Mertajam to a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. She gets a job behind the counter at her relative's economy rice stall, located inside a coffeeshop... that looks just like the thousands and thousands of Chinese coffeeshops spread out around the Malaysian landscape.

One thing Tan Chui Mui succeeds in this film is to make everyday items & objects seem mundane and at worst... depressing; all-metal chup-fan stalls, generic kopitiams in single shoplots, public phones, even the all bright-orange bowls, plates, chopsticks and spoons that Ah Ping, her cousin Mei (nicely played by Jiun Jiun Leong), and her aunt uses for their meals. A sense of suburban loneliness and ennui haunts most of the film; occasionally broken thanks to the young Mei with her young optimism and childish but amusing innocence.

In comes Stephen Chua's character, John. Taken in by Ah Ping The Small-Town Girl, he starts following her around to the point of creepiness. And this is where I call Ah Ping an airhead. Because when you have a dodgy looking stranger shadowing you through dark streets and proclaiming his crush on you, basically you should have alarm bells going off in your brain and your hand ready around the pepper spray. But no... she eventually falls for John, even after he takes her on a psycho ride in his Ford and refusing to stop the car unless she professed her love for him. And John's car went on and on till next morning, finally running out of gas in Mukhsinland.

To explain that word a little, they both ran out of petrol near a rural village (kampong). From the urbanized brick n’ concrete of Lee, Ho, and Tan’s world, John and Ah Ping had crossed through the portal into Yasmin Ahmad’s dimension. I expected to see Orked pedaling past on a bicycle at some point.

And here is where our benevolent, all protecting Film Censorship Board displays its numbing ridiculousness: John steps up to the front door of a village house and wishes… “TOOT!” And again… “TOOT!”

Hm, did he say “Fuck you”? No

Did he threaten “Hey old man! Open the fucking door NOW or we’re busting in… ‘Straw-Dogs’ style”? Nope.

It was “Assalammualaikum”, the Arabic greeting. Apparently non-Muslims and Muslims aren’t supposed to greet each other in a language used by Muslims, Christians, and sometimes Jews from the Levant and Arabian Peninsular. Funny, as my Muslim friends and I have done that on many occasions ever since primary school, untill today.

Well, I can now sleep soundly knowing we’re on the right path to much-needed racial and religious understanding in this country. Under the benevolent eyes of our moral defenders in the Censorship Board.

Later, a side character utters “Kan Nin!!” back at Ah Ping’s economy rice stall, uncensored and unbleeped. That means “Fuck You!!” in Cantonese. The censors obviously missed that one.

* * * *

"Girls are stupid. They think love conquers all..."

So says John to Ah Ping, after they both meet his Thai or Indian cousin at a mamak stall. He explains his "cousin" apparently gets a new girlfriend frequently... and then manipulates them into prostitution. A forecast of what's to happen. A warning. Straight from the lion's mouth. And still, Ah Ping hangs onto him.

Love Conquers All. As my friend who came along pointed out, perhaps thats the irony in the title and plot. And love conquered all in this film. All, including Reason, Logic, and Streetwise-ness. Which made Ah Ping cheat on her current boyfriend in Penang and hook up with this... person.

Perhaps, as my friend added, its TC Mui's way of criticism of the media and society's view on the concept of love & relationships. On societal norms that pressures single folks to quickly look for a mate as fast as you can... speed over compatibility. "Happily Ever After", "You're not complete without a man/woman", "When you getting married? You 24 already ah!"

But at the end, where one story ends sadly, another may just be beginning… fuelled by cheeriness and optimism.

Those of you who've seen "Rain Dogs" and James Lee's "Beautiful Washing Machine" would have observed MANY similarities between the three films. No surprise the three directors and have been involved in each others films, in one role or another. Like Lee and Ho, Tan Chui Mui uses visuals extensively to tell the story. You'll find little dialogue between characters. The scenes and their body language shall tell the story more than their own conversations.

James Lee's cinema style is prevalent here... characters are filmed with their backs to the camera and followed around. You'll see it in "Washing Machine". You probably saw it in "Rain Dogs". And you'll see it here too. Complementing the use of visuals and less dialogue are the very long outtakes. However, sometimes those loooong scenes will drag on focusing on the character(s) who seem to be doing something like walking, or using the phone. And then the sudden cut to the next scene...

And this is where I have the thankless task to throw a brick or two...

Tan Chui Mui does well in her first film in shrouding the suburban KL scene with a fog of depression. However, as another friend put it, she doesn’t really do much to tell in a new angle, the all-familiar cautionary tale of a girl who falls into bad company in the big city. I found the use and execution of the long takes to be very overdone and repetitive, nearly making the movie unbearable. A few were somewhat pointless, like the one of a coconut palm filmed against a backdrop of blue sky. Nice perhaps, but does it add to the story and background of Ah Ping & John hanging out in the front porch of the kampong house?

While The “Beautiful Washing Machine” and “Rain Dogs” transitions its scenes somewhat finely but with bumps here and there, Tan does hers rather suddenly. It’s as if you’re driving at 80 on this segmented concrete bridge, and each segment is five to six inches higher than the next.

It would be great if the Three Directors explore new grounds and innovations in their filmmaking, especially the cinematography. I fear that eventual reuse/overuse of the same formula in their next films may result in disappointment amongst local film-goers who have been looking towards fresh offerings from Malaysia’s alt-film world.

Despite its drawbacks, Love Conquers All is a decent, although rough debut for Tan Chui Mui. There is room for improvement in her later works. All in all, I have to give Love Conquers All 2.5 stars out of 5. To be more accurate, 5.3 on a scale of 10.

Another review by Ben McKay at Kakiseni.

How about another by Swifty?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Do They Know it's Halloween?

Listening to: Nothing

Penang to the Klang by bus takes an average of 5 hours, assuming your coach doesn’t stop at that traffic purgatory called the KL Pudu bus station. As I had not bought my ticket a week in advance, the only Saturday ticket left was on an "SE Ekspres" bus. My favourite company “Triton” had all sold out. For those of you who had the misfortune to ride "SE", you might have some horror stories of dirty seats and insane drivers who will take an aging bus with a dead-stiff suspension close to the speed of sound, perhaps overturning a few Kancils in its wake.

On my first trip with “SE Ekspres”, the bus was barreling straight through at 110kph, even through those treacherous downhill bends before Ipoh. When it rained near KL, the driver would not slow down from 100+. The Dutchman and his girlfriend sitting at the front will have some very interesting stories to tell their pals when they got back. The second trip was much safer, but I spotted two roaches crawling on the seat in front of me. The old man seated there didn’t notice. Well, perhaps what you don’t know about won’t kill you…

Fortunately, the bus operator for yesterday’s trip could not provide an “SE Ekspres” coach, either because the old wreck had broken down or had crashed en route to the Sg. Nibong station. They offered a “Bandar Ekspres” instead which was much cleaner, although the rear suspension was pretty fucked up. The driver was safer, though it was a little unnerving when he overtook that fuel tanker in the Ipoh tunnel. It was almost 8PM when I arrived.Klang has seen a rapid growth in development during the past 6 years when I was in the States and Penang. New townships have sprung up; more McMansions, cookie-cutter terrace houses, and identical shophouses where estates used to be. A whole lotta oil palm trees had been bulldozed over for a new township, ironically named “Bandar Botanic”. Glass seemed to be the rage among architects, as many of the buildings constructed in the past 3 years appeared to use it in liberal doses, despite the tropical climate.

Sunday morning, I set off in my family's old BMW; an ageing 2nd-hand car purchased many many years ago from an uncle. In an unsuccessful quest to find the legendary Istana Mat Deros, I took a journey to neighboring Pandamaran. It had been a while since I drove the car, and because of its age it had developed several interesting traits; the fuel gauge was always at “F”, and Reverse takes several seconds to engage. At least the Straight-5 engine was still reliable, although it consumed more petrol than before…

Well, I hope you had a nice Xmas on Monday…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I Got Coal This Christmas!

Listening to: Nothin'

I'll be back home in Klang/KL this Christmas weekend. A well deserved (or perhaps undeserved) rest from the past two weeks at work; where my team and I have been rushing to meet deadlines before the Xmas season. That explains the lack of updates to this site lately. Apologies for that, assuming if anyone reads this...

As for me, I got not just one lump, but three train-wagons full of coal from Santa. But every cloud has a silver lining. I sold them all to the local power station for a fair bid of money. Now I can buy myself an iPod to replace that CD/MP3 Discman of mine. Ho Ho Ho!

Anyho, Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Hillarity Of On-Blog Advertising...

Listening to: Nuthin...

I've decided to keep my site free from adverts, especially those automated ad panels on the sidebar. Thats because AdSense tends to take words from your articles, and then display irrelevant advertisements that coincidentally had those words in it, sometimes (if not mostly) to hillarious effect. For example, I could be writing about the risks of a potential nuclear
holocaust from North Korea, and then Adsense will display an advert about meeting Jewish women (you'll probably have to go to Penang for that), or buying yarmulkas online.

Complain on your blog about your
Sony television that broke this afternoon, and you'll get a link to a shady website guaranteeing you a PlayStation 3.

Talk about Kramer from Seinfeld's racist boob on TV, and next thing you know you have links to breast enlargement pills & pr0n sites on that little panel on the right.

Another one is this method called Pay Per Post where you get apparently get paid to whore... I mean endorse products and services in your blog entries. Now thats great if you write an adblog about Al's Line N' Tacles and your blog's about your fishing hobby. However, its a little er... contradictory if you're an anarchist in Malaysia and blog about this great credit card deal thats only applicable to US residents (excluding US islands territories and Puerto Rico). Or lets say you blog about how corporate interests has fucked up music & how you only listen to bands which no more than 5 people have heard of and have emo hair... and then next write an asskissing glowing review about Paris Hilton's newest album out on MTV. Way to go you sellout!

To Adsense's credit, if they're not situationally hillarious, they're much less irritating than those damn popup ads. Especially those that flash "
YOU ARE A WINNER!! CLICK HERE!!" at 200 frames-a-second, as if they're trying to give you seizures.

Two cases in point...

Put Jesus (Jersey No. 6) in midfield, next to Landon Donovan...
(pic from

Where religion & sex mix

And by the way, a post I agree with...

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm Busy, Don't Bother Me!

Listening to: The Corrs Unplugged

I've just gone to that newly opened Borders bookstore in Penang. The slightly disturbing thing is athough in the States, Borders is considered as yet another chain bookshop which you can find in almost every strip mall, by Malaysian standards their selection is considered "diverse".

I got meself a music mag & a Tintin comic and now I'm reading about what The Shins are up to. So I won't be posting stuff 'bout last week's gig & movie at 60 Weld Quay, or me being at Paku's recording for their new album.

Here are a few links for you instead:

The Best Page In The Universe (it says so!)

The Asylum

Run your own nuclear power plant

Its Dot Com!

Welcome To Ancient Egypt!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Ultimate Act In Kiasuism?

Listening to: Nothing again...

Kiasu: A Hokkien Chinese phrase (Kia-Su)
that means "afraid to lose". In colloqial Malaysian and especially Singaporean terms, this is a psychological fear of losing out or appearing inferior.

Among the Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese (although this applies to all ethnicities today), a harsh social and economic environment of cutthroat competition has caused many to adopt a kiasu mentality in their life and retations with family, friends and society itself. Singaporeans were, and still are considered by many (including Malaysians) to be ultra-kiasu... however in the 90s, fast paced development and the eventual economic meltdown in 1998 has led Malaysians to levels of kiasuism occasionally rivaling their Singaporean counterparts.

But still, the consensus is Singaporeans hold the No.1 spot for Kiasuism. You can celebrate that fact, Singapore... and perhaps declare a National Kiasu Day for that too...

The kiasu mentality leads to all sorts of amusing stories, as the overly competitive person applies it everywhere to the point where courtesy and civilized behavior is sacrificed for personal "prestige" and selfishness. Examples that you may be kiasu:

  • Getting a new BMW 3-Series just because your neighbor Mr. Woo just bought himself an Audi. (Meanwhile, they're both laughing at my "junk" Oldsmobile 88 from 1961)
  • Overtaking me in my Oldsmobile 88 just after I passed you in your new BMW on the expressway. For some reason, no car is permitted to pass you in your new car, especially one from 1961. And you have to do it with NO INDICATOR and nearly clipping my front bumper in the process.
  • At a restaurant/hotel buffet, you pile an obscene replica Mount Everest of food on your plate... not because you intend to finish it but because you paid $30 for it. After all, its your right to do it, no? Nevermind that half of the food will not be consumed by your greedy gut and left to waste.
  • You always compare your children to Mr. Lim's children, who always gets full A's in their exams. And you have to forcibly enroll them for piano lessons, violin lessons, karate classes, Mandarin classes, ShiFengshou rapid calculation classes*, in addition to the extra classes they area already taking after school.
  • If you're Singaporean, you drive across the Causeway to Malaysia so you can buy cheaper groceries, and save $40 in the process. Nevermind that it takes you at least 4 hours and 1/3 a tank of gas.
  • If you can't have it, nobody can. You'll go all out to discourage or sabotage others trying to achieve something; be it some material item, success, or their lifelong dreams simply because you know you can't, or are too scared to try to achieve it for fear of failing and appearing a "loser" to others. See: dog in a manger

For my brethren from Yankeeland, equivalents of kiasuism include the following; the dog in a manger scenario, "following the Joneses", overcompetition, or consumerist sheep mentality. Example: Malcolm's mum from "Malcolm In The Middle". Actually, that describes most suburban parents in the West nowadays... but that's nothing compared to Singaporeans and Malaysians.

Anyway, this has to be the most disgusting act of kiasuism ever applied. Surprise, surprise... It had to be done by a Singaporean:

Flat dweller hanging condoms out to dry irks neighbours

HANGING laundry out to dry from a flat window may be acceptable, but condoms?

A Singaporean high-rise dweller is said to have resorted to recycling used condoms by “air-drying” them from the window of his flat, according to a report in China Press.

More than 100 used condoms were put out to dry, according to a disgusted neighbour.

The woman, known as Tan, was quoted in the daily as describing the act as “gross and disgusting”.

“This is sickening. You can see from afar that some of the condoms had turned brownish,” she said, adding that the unit belonged to a middle-aged man living with his wife and two children.

Tan, who has been staying there for more than 20 years, said the act should not have been allowed by the authorities as it was unhygienic, especially when it rained.

“Rain water will be dripping from the condoms onto pedestrians walking on the ground below,” she pointed out.

> Nanyang Siang Pau reported that 94 people at a religious camp in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, were believed to have come down with food poisoning on Wednesday after consuming fried mee and rice with other dishes prepared by the organiser.

So far, 85 had been discharged after receiving outpatient treatment while nine others were warded at Hospital Tuanku Jaafar Seremban.

It is learnt that most of the participants started to feel unwell after lunch, with the first patient sent to a nearby clinic at 5pm the same day. By 11pm, the organiser had to hire a bus to send the other participants to the hospital for treatment.

According to the hospital's medical report, 90% of the victims experienced dizziness, frequent vomiting and diarrhoea.

A total of 712 people, aged between 14 and 28, participated in the camp held at a private college in Nilai.


FUCKING GROSS! I hope the council fines his ass off so he'll realize its not just pure revolting to hang out his condoms to dry, but also cheaper to buy new ones instead. Anyway, I doubt he knows that condoms are single-use items only.

* In the mid 90s, there was this craze among folks to send their kids to learn ShiFengshou Rapid Calculation. Developed by Professor Shi Feng Shou (duh!) from China, you could apparently do arithmetic in seconds without a calculator.

My younger sister was among those pressed by parents to learn how to count sums like '43 X 31', '423+23', etc. & etc. by mental power. Well, she left after 2 months and RM200 (U$55) in total fees, including 8 Saturday afternoons lost.
Eventually parents Malaysia-wide realized an RM50 calculator (batteries not included) would, though a little slower by 0.5seconds... accomplish the same thing with much higher accuracy. Plus, it does square root too! And you don't have to pay RM100 a month to learn how to use it.

Suffice to say, the Shi Fengshou branch in Klang is now an empty shoplot.

Friday, December 08, 2006

In Praise of Polyurethane

Listening to: Nothing

Polyurethane (PU) is a plasticy-rubbery material resistant to many forms of damage that would usually destroy/deform other stuff like fiberglass, plastics, and metal (well, deform it in this case). Anyway, the reason why i'm writing this is not because of a potential U$29 check from the Alliance For The Polyurethane Industry (API) but rather two incidences in the past month or so.

At my workplace, we have hi-tech machines which uses a particular component made of a tough temperature-resistant material. It was tougher than the previous material we used, but the problem was it was too tough. It more than occasionally damaged the sensitive substrates we use in our production floor, creating scratches or dents in the substrate material. Also, it was pretty expensive to fabricate these components; about RM600 per piece. This damage and high sticker price got the management breathing down our necks.

Then someone decided to use PU instead, which was just as durable, and much cheaper. Problem solved. For now.

The second incident happened just yesterday when my colleague's Suzuki Swift got rear-ended on the way to work. From the photos taken with his cellphone, the rear fender was initially badly dented .An ordinary fender would be permanently damaged badly at that speed. But being made of PU, the rear fender resumed its original shape eventually save for a small dent above the exhaust.

But he's still claiming from the other guy...

Ok, I better get to sleep now before I start talking about Teflon or Vectran. Lack of sleep does "wonderful" things to the mind...

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Question To Anyone Reading This...

Listening to: Nothing at the moment

If there's actually someone who reads this, I have something to ask. Can you explain what James Lee's "Beautiful Washing Machine" is really about?

My take is its about the "spirit" of the machine who escapes its confines of a green washing machine and its preset role to clean and wash stuff. In the form of a young woman. However, even in human form it ends up being taken for granted by its masters, used, abused, and distrusted.

That reminds me, I've gotta do my laundry....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Upon seeing this movie, I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced...

Listening to: The Execution Of All Things - Rilo Kiley

I downloaded and watched a Turkish movie called
Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam, or known as "The Man Who Saves The World" several months back. Filmed
during the early 80s, this movie was supposedly a Turkish (duh!) remake of Star Wars, hence earning it the unofficial title of "Turkish Star Wars". At that time, foreign films were difficult to import into Turkey, leaving local directors the choice for remakes with a all-Turkish cast, setting, and an ultra-low budget. Among the result of reproducing sci-fi blockbusters with cheap sets, costumes and a low-budget, my friends... is called "Turkish Star Wars".

Godawful this film may be, but it holds a centain camp value... thus qualifying it for the "So Awful, Its Great" category. At least for me...

I will be writing a review later so you can decide whether to or whether to NOT see this movie. I don't wish to reccomend it and later receive death threats from some unknown persons who felt they had wasted their Streamyx "broad"-band to download this monstrosity of a film and a further 90-plus minutes to see it.

Meanwhile, across the coastal expressway, a massive structure has been slowly rebuilt throughout the past year into a shopping mall. My housemate mentioned that construction on the building was interrupted several years ago due to financial difficulties. Under new management, construction was resumed and just yesterday, this Death Star of a shopping complex was finally opened.

The thing with Penang Island is there are too many malls for too little people. The opening of a new shopping complex tends to scavenge a majority of customers from the other previous No.1 mall on the island. Hordes of shoppers descend upon the new one like a mass of consumerist herd animals, blocking roads in the area and raising traffic and tempers dramatically. Those ever stuck in Gurney Drive on a Sunday afternoon know what I mean.

As for the previously hip complex, it now has to deal with a drop in customers. And when another newer mall opens, the results are even worse. The high-end tenants move out, and the pirated DVD stores move in... preferably on the upper floors.

When asked about their status as the Newest Mall in Penang, officials from Queensbay only had this to say:

I'm not the one too keen over this. I tend to keep away from gargantuan malls as I don't feel good in the strangest of places like long lines that make me wait and especially mall parking lots. I just hope they have a "Rock Corner" over there... one stocked with nice records like the branch in "1-Utama".

In the meantime, I now have to deal with heavier traffic everytime I exit the junction...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How the hell did he get one of those???

Listening to: Swordfishtrombones - Tom Waits

Dato' Nik Sapeia got into a little trouble several months back when he was charged with discharging pepper spray in the general direction of former Malaysian Prime Minister & National Supreme Overlord Dr. Mahathir several months back. If I met this guy, there will be three questions I'd like to ask him:

1. Did you do it? And why?

2. How much in road tax are you paying for your Cadillac limo?

3. Can I have your auto dealer's contact?

Ok, that was four questions.

Dato' Sapeia turned up for his court hearing in this... a Cadillac limousine with a 7.5L engine:

"Ya see, the horsey pulls the limo. Thats what I call REAL Horsepower.
D'ya know how much I save in petrol?"
(Pic from the Sta)

Probably the only Cadillac limo in all of Malaysia. I'm sure that would impress the judge in his trial.

And as for me, nope, I'm not planning to get a stretchhhhhhhh limo or anything like that... I'll leave those vehicles to luxury hotels and airports. Besides, it'll be a pain in the ass to park in my apartment's lot.

Rather, I'd be curious to know from his dealer how much for a right-hand drive 1961 Oldsmobile 88.

A couple of photos of my fave car. Color would come in dark blue...
(Courtesy to Larry for the first pic)

Yep folks, this 24-year old's dream car is a 2 door Oldsmobile 88... not a a Porsche, Ferrari (especially the Enzo, which looks like two car vacuums welded together), Merc, Beemer, or those sweet Japanese sportscars my peers all lust after. Yea Yea Yeah(s)... go ahead... feel free to call me crazy... although I prefer the term "unconventional".

On the other side last week's been busy for me, hence no posts for that time being. Last weekend was spent at the European Film Festival at Gurney, and a screening session of short movies at Han Chiang college. 'Twas at this screening where a couple of my pals and I bumped into Tan Chui Mui, producer of last year's critically acclaimed "Chemman Chaalai". Her latest work, "Love Conquers All" recently won an award at the Pusan International Film Festival and will be released on local screens December 21st, or thats what she said...

I had a small chat with her and her colleagues regarding the local independent movie scene, future plans and work, and the assorted challenges they face including from those inactive hippos at the Malaysian National Film Development Board (FINAS). Hey, did you notice their website is being upgrade (sic)? Crucial to this discussion were plans to expand and improve the little alternative film club we had formed a month ago (and already had two screenings)

Earlier this Tuesday, I read a little article about her in the Berita HAIRAN. Which is somewhat "hairan" (Transl: confusing) given the newspaper's hostility toward non-mainstream film directors. The photo in the paper had her in the same olive green tshirt we saw her in that weekend.

Oh yes, trailer for "Love Conquers All"...

* * * * * * * *

Bonus link... and definetely unrelated to the stuff above: Music video by Regina Spektor...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nineteen Eighty Four, Chapter 5

Listening to: (Miniluv unallow music to resume goodthink fullwise)


The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and the staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime. Processions, meetings, military parades, lectures, waxworks, displays, film shows, telescreen programmes all had to be organized; stands had to be erected, effigies built, slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated, photographs faked. Julia's unit in the Fiction Department had been taken off the production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets. Winston, in addition to his regular work, spent long periods every day in going through back files of The Times and altering and embellishing news items which were to be quoted in speeches. Late at night, when crowds of rowdy proles roamed the streets, the town had a curiously febrile air. The rocket bombs crashed oftener than ever, and sometimes in the far distance there were enormous explosions which no one could explain and about which there were wild rumours.

The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the Hate Song, it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged on the telescreens. It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly be called music, but resembled the beating of a drum. Roared out by hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying. The proles had taken a fancy to it, and in the midnight streets it competed with the still-popular 'It was only a hopeless fancy'. The Parsons children played it at all hours of the night and day, unbearably, on a comb and a piece of toilet paper. Winston's evenings were fuller than ever. Squads of volunteers, organized by Parsons, were preparing the street for Hate Week, stitching banners, painting posters, erecting flagstaffs on the roofs, and perilously slinging wires across the street for the reception of streamers. Parsons boasted that Victory Mansions alone would display four hundred metres of bunting. He was in his native element and as happy as a lark. The heat and the manual work had even given him a pretext for reverting to shorts and an open shirt in the evenings. He was everywhere at once, pushing, pulling, sawing, hammering, improvising, jollying everyone along with comradely exhortations and giving out from every fold of his body what seemed an inexhaustible supply of acrid-smelling sweat.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Beautiful Junk...

Um... wrong, that ain't me. My hair isn't that spiky...

Listening to: I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One - Yo La Tengo

The area between Birch Street, The Jetty, and Penang Road is one of winding streets with crumbling pre-war shophouses. Many buildings here lie abandoned, the symptom of urban decay in Penang's post-Rent Control Act years. Repeal of the act years ago left many folks unable to afford the huge jump in rental, forcing them to move elsewhere. Smack in the middle is Armenian Street's Galeri Seni Mutiara, a shophouse refurbished into an art gallery. Last Saturday's "Beautiful Junk" would be held there.

For those of you and me who are unfamiliar, Beautiful Junk is an alternative art + music exhibition held yearly in Penang. Location varies. I had been distributing some flyers for this event at my workplace's cafeteria... hopefully, one or two from another department turned up.

It was only around 5:20PM that I arrived at the gallery; I had parked in front of the old graveyard near Upper Penang Road was. This mistake was due to be being told earlier that the gallery was "near Chulia Street"... in reality it would be a 15 minute walk all the way to Armenian. Once I got there, the band Nao was already playing. Also, those Damned Dirty Apes had cancelled their appearance... Pedram et all.

The narrow but long shophouse-art gallery was packed with various types of Penang hipsters, a number of them in the standard black tshirt with slogan or bandname and a few with those black thick-framed glasses. One guy, back against the wall, was going Interpol/My Chemical Romance-style in black with red tie. Not bad, though that must be pretty stuffy here. Poster prints of various artworks, mostly in the neo pop art style were hanging in mid air around the gallery. In the middle, was the band "Nao" halfway through another song. I stepped outside again to roll a cig, chat with the folks of "Panic Overdrive" who had finished some time ago, and escape the humidity inside for awhile...

Probably my favourite poster amongst the works...

Talked with a friend of mine who I had earlier failed to notice sitting in the corner. Now living in Malaysia for the time being, she used to be among the management of a nightspot in the States back in the 70s-80s that attracted lots of punk rock acts & other period rock groups. The Clash, Ramones, Lou Reed, Sex Pistols, Bob Dylan, etc. etc. etc.... seen them all live. In fact, its probably easier to ask who she had NOT seen. You gotta give a lotta respect to someone like that...

When it came to Citizens Of Ice Cream's turn, it had started to rain. And then...

On that chair in the middle is the biggest cassette tape you've seen, balanced above a puddle of water and a nasty electrical shock

You see, the stage area was once an airwell before they roofed the top over. What still remained was the drainpipe that served to discharge rainwater from the roof onto the floor, before being carried out through a small drainage hole. As it was raining heavily, our stage had started to flood.

Electricity and water isn't a very wise combination... especially when you have hi-powered amps and mixers on the stagefloor.

Eager not to let some water fuck up their plans, the guys of Ice Cream & the helpful hipsters/semi-hipsters proceeded to do a nifty balancing act of cables and amplifiers on chairs plus moving the whole drumkit to the higher floor. Then it back to rocking... with space-rock.

The show must go on...

I chatted with Rizal and Lina from Paku who had arrived sometime at 7 o'clock and were readying their gear on the staircase. They were slotted in after a metal/trash-metal band which was now pounding and screaming the stage fullblast. My ears don't really have a taste for metal, and the neighbor in the shoplot next door OBVIOUSLY was allergic to it. After a good 30 minutes of heavy metal, she had a good talk with the gallery manager and... uh... threatened to call the police over the noise. The show already had a visit from some disapproving cops earlier in the afternoon and had passed the gentleman's agreement made with the neighbor to stop at around 8PM. The organizers decided to end the gig immediately before the neighbor got fed-up and called the cops to show up... perhaps with a paddy wagon in tow and several "Hairan Metro" trashporters eager for their next "Black Metal/Punk" frontpage scoop & goat sacrifices.

The tabloids will somehow put a goat in these pictures. A black goat

The plan was to adjourn to Church Street Cafe to continue the gig. Once I got there however, it seems the owner there was unwilling to let them play, even under the banner of an open-mike-night, as as he didn't have a permit and didn't want to play dice by sweetalking any cops who came for a visit. At least he led Paku play, if only for several songs. After them, I guess we could officially call Beautiful Junk 2006 closed for the day...

* * *

Anyway, I won't be surprised if the posters ended up on some future indie artiste(s) album cover...

The guys of "Nao"

"Paku" at C.S.C.

Lina from Paku, with bro Rizal on far left...

More pictures can be seen at: (Posters)

The bands that came:

Citizens Of Ice Cream

Nao -- (No English/Malay translation?)



Panic Overdrive

...and many more...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My new cubicle is like a low-cost flat, and I believe you have my stapler...

Listening to: Nickel Creek - Nickel Creek

Last Friday the whole department moved to a new office space in a faraway corner of the building. Is it any better for us? Lets do a comparison:

Old Cubicle=

pros - big space
cons - noisier, boss cubicle is just behind me in full view, sharing with 3 people

New Cubicle=

cons - still sharing with 3 other people, smaller
pros - its small alright, but its cozier. More privacy, and its closer to the cafeteria. Plus, you get your own desklamp.

The new smell still hasn't gone away yet...

Anyhow, more updates on last week's Beautiful Junk tommorow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Note To The Americans...

Listening to: (see below)

Anyway, before I start...

If you ever do any of the following:

1. Drive at night down the streetlit roads of a city, any city be it Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Chicago, New York, or even Penang...


2. Relax at night on your sofa, with a glass of Jack+Coke/Jager+Sprite/Gin+Tonic/50-50 Apple Juice+Sprite (if you don't drink).

...then a good album to listen to would be Interpol's 'Turn On The Bright Lights', or 'Antics'.

Back to the topic. If any of you Americans are reading this, I'd like to congratulate you all on the recent win of the Democrats in the recent election. You folks sure taught those Republicans and the Bush-Dick duo a lesson. You know... those guys who have held power for too long and had gotten drunk with it.

I was in the States from 2000 until last year and was in the midst of the '04 Presidential elections where sadly... Kerry lost (you folks should've stuck with Dean). I could still remember the dejection of my American pals... who along with me acting as a "foreign observer", had gathered in a friend's dormitory room that day to watch the results... along with bags of doritos and beer/soda. The concentration of disappointment of 11 odd people cramped in a dirty 15X10ft room was overwhelming.

By the way, as fucked up your electoral system is, at least you have a good chance of removing arrogant, lousy politicians who abuse their power. I would like to borrow it for a little while. You see, we have a little problem in Malaysia.... no wait, make it a big problem. For example, we have a councillor in my hometown who built a big massive mansion without registering it... on land cheaply obtained somehow through devious means. Instead of punishing him and demanding he resigns all his political positions, the Toyol has decided to go easy on him. Now that the media circus has moved on to the Mongolian explosion (which has nothing to do with a sudden interest in Genghis Khan), it appears he's gonna get away with it.

We also had another politician who blatantly interfered with Customs after they withheld the shipment of some merchandise imported by his own company. And he had also complained publicly that the Customs had at one time, refused to reserve the best luxury cars for him to buy... at a very cheap price. All this complaining about not getting the nice things in life which he wants, while forgetting that he was elected firstplace to serve the people.

These two are just the tip of the iceberg... there are many people like these in government; from the seats in Parliament to the city councils. And perhaps the universities too.

While in the States, I've seen Governors, aldermans, city council representatives, senators, (but not Presidents, sadly) step down immediately after their shenanigans were exposed. But not so in Malaysia, where they make all sorts of lame excuses and hope the furor will pass before the next election, where the electorate would have hopefully forgotten about it and start voting with their checkbooks in mind.

So we need to clean house. Any chance we could borrow your system for awhile? Please?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Last Sunday's Silibin Incident, As Told With Owls

Last Sunday a fake text message spread like wildfire regarding a Sunday baptism in Silibin, Perak. The incident can be read here and here. I've decided to retell this story in a different manner instead.

Let us start...

Photos taken by Amit Dutta, Pieter Mullen, and various other owl-shooters....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm not a fan of Kylie Minogue, but...

...I couldn't think of a better song to listen to get into the mood while writing this piece.

Beware of butts and hotpants, bytheway....

You see, the past week or so has been pretty interesting in Malaysian politics and local news in particular. If Sesame Street (or Taman Sesame) were to film an episode for this week, it oughta be brought to you by the word "Spin" and the letter "S" (as in aSS). Spin is particularly prevalent over here when it comes to the fine art of PR, and its used to basically portray events and facts so it will be favorable (hopefully) for your subject, even though it actually isn't.

Say for example, you got into a shitstorm for selecting your brother, sister, 2nd sister, sister-in-law, and 3rd uncle's brother twice-removed to management positions in your huge corporate firm. The shareholders are pissed at this nepotism especially since all of them has zilch experience in the corporate world. You and your Spin Doctors (not the band) can always say that "there aren't anyone else as qualified", or "you believe that so-and-so" has potential. Present facts/excuses to support your stance, while covering up the negatives. In Malaysia, use of ad-hominems and red herrings are accepted.

Of course, even the best Spin Doctors can't match the power of the Newspaper Editor. Having one of these guys as a minion will do a great boost for your image (or lack thereof) than the best PR execs money can buy.

Anyho, I'm gonna recap on three events that happened recently. Like anything nowadays, the amount of PR bullshit can also be summed into a rating of 5-stars max. Instead of using stars, I'm gonna use various pics of washing machines as it would be MUCH more appropriate. Keep in mind these are going by Malaysian standards, which like the cigarettes, are stronger than those used in the EU and US.

No washer: Guy's telling the truth. Corollary: The person is not a politician.

One washer: A little PR bullshitting being used.

Two washers: Your lawyer's doing the talking

Three washers: "Oral sex is not adultery"

Four: Your lawyer's doing the talking, in circles. And you'vehired someone from a Public Relations firm

Five: Full Spin Cycle. Not even Johnny Cochran can save you from this mess, dude...

Event One: Nobody expects the Malaysian Inquisition! Especially at 2AM!

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Randal Barnhart. A retired Caucasian couple from the United States, they've decided to settle down in Malaysia. Were they trying to escape the ever numbing idiocy of the Bush-Dick duo? Doubtful, since Malaysia would least likely be a final destination for anyone fleeing the hairbrained antics of politicians.

Anyway, the Barnharts were rudely woken in the early hours by an unexpected visit... not from the Spanish Inquisition, but from some Islamic officials knocking violently on their apartment door. For those who don't know, Malaysia has a state-sanctioned Islamic Department that sees themselves fit to police the faith and morality of the local Muslims. Something like Saudi Arabia's muttaween, just not as extreme. Part of their work includes going door to door to Muslim households... busting unmarried couples as they go. Their jurisdiction fortunately doesn't apply to nonMuslims, especially Caucasians with the surname Barnhart. Well, upon seeing the very-white Randal who had opened the door after his repeated assertations that they were Christians, the goons must've been shocked to catch a very angry Mat Salleh instead of a Mat Ahmad. But instead of apologizing for the disturbance, they further demanded to "see his woman", and after getting an eyeful of his also-Caucasian wife clad only in a sarong, the goons next wanted to see their marriage cert. I won't be any more surprised if they next wanted the duo to recite the Lord's Prayer to prove they were really Christians, but I guess that would mean exposing themselves to 'kafir' and 'syirik' incantations. Which might mean they may start praising Jesus, Mary, or The Jesus And Mary Chain.

The next few days, the Tourism Ministry got wind of this and are now um... "looking into it". However, the State Religious Department instead turned on their washing machines, claiming their goons were following procedures during the raid. Yes, "we were following procedures..." says they...

Ahem, Memo to the theofascists... Always check beforehand who fucking lives there before you go in for a raid. You can't go around busting nonMuslims as friendly fire who do not fall under your jurisDicktion.

I'm reminded of a similar case where a friend from church was fined by the Selangor religious department for eating during Ramadhan. Although she was a nonMuslim Serani (those of Portugese descent), the theofascists still proceeded to write a summons even after viewing her IC. What the fuck?! Up today she refuses to settle the fine, (and it should remain so) as a little monument to the brainlessness of the religious officials.

Now I wonder if such abuses of power was highlighted only recently since it happened to a white Mat Salleh couple? How many nonMuslims have become "collateral damage" to these roving religious Kempetai, especially those who "look Muslim"?

As for the Barnharts, they've decided to abort their stay in Malaysia after being overwhelmed by such elements as fear and surprise. I'm sure their friends, associates, ex-colleagues, and relatives are keen on visiting Malaysia upon hearing their tales. Guess I can't really fault my pal from Minessota for her being afraid to visit our country...

I've decided to rate this 3 Washing Machines for the excuses coming out from the state of Kedah's religious dept.

Event Two: "Its 1984 already!" ~ Tun Dr. M

In the latest Livejournal drama between Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi and Mahathir, the latter has accused Badawi of turning Malaysia into a Police State. Also included are accusations that Chief Rempit No.1 @ First Son-In-Law has been receiving business favors. Well, hate to break it to you sir but Malaysia has already been a Police State since the late 70s, or mid-80s at latest. You're just a little 20 years late in your observations. The signs were alrea..... Hey, waaaait a minute! Isn't this the same Mahathir who I remembered, did the following?
  • Ordered Operasi Lallang where scores of social workers, politicians, activists, educators were arrested and detained (including ol-dinosaur Lim Kit Siang)
  • Detained various people under the ISA during his tenure. Criticize the government? Go To Jail. Do NOT pass go and collect RM200
  • Kicked out his dissenting deputy and just like in an Internet Forum (where you're called a fag if you disagree with some 13-year old boy on an online discussion) ... labelled him a homosexual with false charges of sodomy thrown at him.
  • Muzzled the press, controlled its editors, removed anyone who showed the slightest sign of disloyalty, and turned newspapers into his political attack dogs.
  • Helped foster an environment where corporate and political corruption thrived in Malaysia during the 80s to 90s, until in 1997 when the bubble burst.

A lame duck the present PM is, but I doubt folks will easily forget Dr.M's shenanigans above during his tenure. No one's allowed to criticize the PM, perhaps... but that was indeed the case when Mahathir was in power. Anwar, Salleh Abbas, and Old Dinosaur Lim found out the hard way. Hey, at least no one's gonna throw you into ISA like you did with hundreds of folks, and you can still keep your advisory positions...

4 Washing Machines. Malaysia mungkin mudah lupa, but we still remember.

Event Three: Dato. Zak's Palatial Palace of Pandamaran

Klang Bandar Di Raja is known to have one of the richest Municipal Councils in the state. Growing up there, I recall all those annual "beautification projects" repeatedly done always to spruce up the city, where healthy decorative plants, trees and flowers planted last year would be torn up again by the same ol landscaping contractor. However, little cash was spent to help address the ever rising crime rate, poor bus and taxi system, flooding risks in low-lying areas, and the holey roads that were blessed with Immaculate Potholes. Instead, we got:

  • The council building decorated to look like a casino, complete with a green-domed gazebo on the roof. I bet it houses a jacuuzi where the councillor can soak in with a bikini girl or three.
  • A food court built on the hulk of the old Fort Bridge, over the stinking Klang river. Now, I know Malaysians have this notorious trait of eating anywhere even in a crumbling filthy shophouse, but no one was willing to dine over a river polluted with sewage, industrial chemicals, and the occasional drowning/murder victim from upstream. So, the whole project was a waste... several million ringgit in all. Who the hell did they hire as our town planner?!
  • Several horses to... don't laugh... fight crime. RM 250,000 in all. Andrew Sia has a good article on this which he also published in The Star newspaper.
  • And various other pork-barrel projects for their contractors and supporters

Meet Dato Zakaria Md. Deros, the former Councillor of Klang now awaiting re-elec... I mean selection to another term in office. The former railroad crossing keeper and two other relations have been "chosen" to fill various posts in the city council. Tis the year of the in-laws. Not just that, it was also revealed that he had constructed a 4-floor mega McMansion in Pandamaran. Without approval. On government land that had been alienated to his wife. Oh boy!

Dato. Zak's McMansion, complete with penis extension on the roof.
Note: Single floor dwellings of the lowly rakyat of Klang in foreground
(pic from The Star Online)

Oh yea, did I mention he also had a separate satay restaurant built without approval? And illegally on state land?

Not pleased at Zak was the Sultan of Selangor, and he was summoned to explain such nonsense. Zak instead declined, citing health reasons but he was found to be taking a vacation over at his hideaway in Malacca . And any PR bullshitting Zak did was undone by his capos' and minions who assaulted a crowd of protesters that had gathered in front of his McMansion.

BrightEyes: It is claimed racial slurs were tossed about by Zak's minions. [1] [2]

Ok, this really PO-ed the Sultan and Don Zak was this time ordered to the palace where the Sultan had some advice for him. Frankly, the Sultan's advice to the Don could be put this way...

As for his illegal McMansion, the penalty is death... for the house, of course. You see, illegally built structures are by law supposed to demolished. But the Klang Council only tears down building extensions, houses, stalls, built by nobodies, not million buck castles built by Big Men. When confronted about what to do with the mansion, Selangor Chief Minister Dato Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo only had this to say:

“I have been told I must be fair; to act without fear or favour. If so, then these properties and building extensions are also subject to demolition,” Dr Khir told reporters yesterday.

“Such properties include temples and even the headquarters of political parties. If I go strictly by the book instead of taking into account public interest and racial harmony, imagine the outcry if I were to execute the demolition orders.”

Ah yes, a "friendly government" to the rakyat. Would you like some fabric softener before the next spin cycle Dato?

Perhaps Khir Toyo(l) is right. We shouldn't demolish the mansion. Thats a big waste of resources & manpower. Instead, lets take this suggestion from KC Lee, a reader of The Star; Seize the property and turn it to a library for the Pandamaran area. Speaking of libraries (or lack thereof) in Klang, do you know our present City Library is a tiny single floor building opposite the Convent School? I'm sure we could always have another one. Actually, we could have at least 4 total, serving the various areas and housing estates of Klang. Thats better than spending money on useless road decorations, horses, and that non-functional decorative wall by the Klang river.

5 Washing Machines over this pathetic wishy-washy attempt by these Selangor politicians.

PS: A attorney friend of mine was part of a legal team sent to negotiate with Klang council's top-brass. He mentioned that Zak was a very "interesting" character.