Friday, October 31

Jumping on The Bandwagon

Well, we're near the end of the month, Halloween's around the corner, and Dr M's stepping down today. I've been mostly silent about the whole change of leadership issue, probably cause there's so much already been said (by the more astute political observers and bloggers) and I needed some time to think about what I felt, and what I wanted to say.

Which in the end turns out to be not much.

I was born in '78, which means that by the time my brain had developed cognitive functions enough to identify and store memories, he'd already stepped up. Throughout my childhood years, my strongest impression of our country's leader was the portrait of himself in almost any government office in that blue baju melayu. Strange now that I've had the opportunity to see that portrait change over the years. That's change for you, I guess. I can't say he was the best we've ever had, simply because I never knew any better.

So today he leaves, and a chapter in our country's life (and mine) ends. We go forward and we leave the past behind. What do we say to a guy who's helmed a country for 22 years?

Get some rest, enjoy what's left of life and (this is for me) thanks.

Hopefully we'll be able to pick up where you left.

Have a good one, Dr M.


Thursday, October 30

Oh Boy, Fox

I really laughed my a*** off after reading this one. Seems like for once, the "sue" culture so popular in the states went too far.

I'm still laughing.


Piccies Galore

Hi folks. In case you're interested, I posted some pics I took during my trip last week. It's on my fotopage. Looking at em sure brings back memories, heheh..and these are just the ones I chose to publish!


Test of Patience, Indeed

Again they do it to me. I got a call from my Head of Department, asking me to sub for a new subject we're going to teach next semester: Lightwave and 3D animation. The lecturer in charge has been very sick and will only fully recover in three months or so. This particular course was actually slotted to be taken over by someone else (who I'll call K) but according to my HOD, since K's expected to leave for her PhD soon she suggested I take over. Which is fine.

Fast forward half an hour later. I'd already been to see my HOD to get the relevant course outlines and to discuss the possibility that I'll have to draft the syllabus and its notes all over again. Coincidentally, in a lab downstairs I bumped into K. Which is when I popped the question:

"So when are you leaving again?"

"Oh I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. Just hoping, I guess. But I gave Dr Y's subject to you since well, I'm too busy preparing for my own subject and I thought, well..YOU could do it."

I nearly jumped out of my skin. Okay. Wait a minute. Consider the scenario: two lecturers, each preparing their own course material for the coming semester. One gets the order to sub for a new subject, but SINCE SHE'S TOO BUSY and NOT ABLE TO PREPARE, she tells the HOD she'll be going off for study leave soon. Now what in God's name made her think that I'd been preparing for this new subject? At the moment, I'm drafting a new course outline for MY subject as well. Honestly folks, helming a course in animation's not a big deal. It's the way she went about passing the job that ticks me off. Here's what she COULD have done: gave me a call and asked me, nicely. Instead, she chose to go over my head and use the HOD to tell me. Probably so I won't be able to refuse.


Expect a slightly grumpier Ox this week, folks.


The Feeling That's Like That Irritating Tooth That Won't Fall Out

I should be sleeping.

Or reciting the Qur'an, or something. But there's this thread of uneasiness winding its way through me tonight. It's like I forgot something terribly important but can't put my finger on it. Grr. I'm anticipating something, but at the same time, I'm afraid of it too.

Is this good? Bad? Time will tell, and like all things, it'll be easier to manage in the morning.

Good night.


Wednesday, October 29

Ramadhans Past

As I was driving to work today, the sun's glare reflected in my windscreen and all of a sudden, I thought of the times I cycled to school waay back when. Ramadhan used to be really really hot back then, and cycling to school in the middle of the afternoon with the sun baking your back didn't help one bit. It wasn't very far though, certainly not as far as the distances my parents used to quote when giving the Standard Parenting Guilt Trip Speech. You know, the one that goes:

"When I was in school I had to walk x (where x is a variable, derived from z, degree of irritation) miles to school, and your Grandpa would cane us if we didn't do our work!"

I digress. Anyway, back then, my prepubescent mind would be concentrating on how hot it was, and how fast I could pedal without getting into an accident. More often than not though, I'd be fantasising about what kind of cold drinks I'd like to be having at the moment and how I'd enjoy them. A typical fantasy would include:

1) Some sort of bed made of ice.
2) Various pipes delivering cold, refreshing drinks (usually soy milk, or Coke)

Thinking about it now, it's kinda funny, I suppose. But more importantly, it marked a period in my life where the most important thing was getting a drink. It definitely helped move time along though, since usually before I knew it, I'd be home and in front of the telly watching the latest instalment of Rumah Kedai. (If you don't remember, don't sweat it. It was just one of the better Malay series to come along).
Anyhow, life's changed since then. The Daisy/Planta margarine ads are gone, replaced with Perodua/Celcom ones. Jejak Rasul is still going on, although I still believe the first few seasons were the best.

Fast forward 10 odd years and I'm driving to work on a similarly hot day. Only this time I'm not thinking of Coke delivery mechanisms on icy beds. My priorities have changed, like Maslow said they would, and I guess we're all looking for something different. But it's nice to remember a time when things were simpler, Smurfs were on TV, and Yeo's still made those yummy Soya Bean Jellies.



Tuesday, October 28

Movie Review: The Rundown

During my drowsy, jet lagged state on Sunday I had a vague recollection of going out for a movie with Jo and the others. Thankfully, I did. Not so thankfully, we decided to watch The Rundown. I admit, I was psyched to catch this one, since it got several favourable reviews. Unfortunately for this reviewer, it didn't turn out quite as favourable, notably because I missed the single biggest warning sign that this would be a B-Movie: the poster.

Yup, that's right, folks. The poster looked like one of those early 80s-late 90s direct to video efforts filmed in South America on a shoestring budget and more often than not featuring a hunky protagonist, lots of explosions, dubbed in voices and a boob shot (or three). But then again, far be it from me to judge a book by its cover, so without any trepidation (this IS the Rock by the way) I took my place on the house seats and prepared myself.

I should have done more preparing.

In a nutshell, The Rundown is not a bad movie at all. It's got a hunky, funny hero, very good action and a nice evil villain. Where it fails, ultimately is in the story and its execution. It starts simple enough: Beck (Dwayne Johnson) is a retrieval expert. You know, the kind that beats you up seven ways from Sunday when you don't pay your dues. Except that he's actually a very nice guy (Cliche Alert!) and dreams of opening his own restaurant one day. His boss promises to give him the payout of his dreams if Beck would retrieve his son from Brazil. What starts out as a routine retrieval quickly turns complicated as Beck gets tangled with an evil industralist-cum-gold miner (Christopher Walken) and his various Cliche Henchmen on the quest to find a mystical artifact made of gold. Oh, and there's a smoky, seductive bartender, rebel fighters, monkeys, funny get the picture. Before I go any further, let's take a second to list down all the cliches used in the making of the film.

1) The Hero is a goodnatured, antiviolent kinda guy who gets trapped in the wrong place at the wrong time.
2) The sidekick (Sean Michael Scott) is small and irritating. Amazingly, he's not black.
3) The beautiful bartender also happens to be the beautiful leader of the rebellion.
4) The Evil Industrialist employs a small army that also includes (here it comes) not one but THREE whip-toting henchmen, a jeep with a machine gun, a buggy and several motorbikes.
5) The Hero and the Sidekick search for the fabled missing Doodad of Gold.
6) There is fighting involving whips cracking chairs.
7) Near the end, the rebel leader lifts the Doodad up to the cheers of her people.

Sigh. There's more I can list, but I don't have the resources these people have, so I'm gonna keep it short. The Rundown starts off well, has plenty of well choreographed action to boot, and an exceptionally cast villain (Chris Walken for God's sake). Where it starts to falter is when it tries to tell too many stories at once, and doesn't quite manage to flesh out its characters (however, it IS an action movie, so I won't be so harsh). What I WILL be harsh on is the fact that it falls back on using every conceivable jungle movie cliche known to man! That in itself hurt what I felt could have been a really good action vehicle for the Rock (who is quite comfortable in the role, btw).

Anyway, The Rundown is an okay movie, and gives the Rock a chance to flex his ermm..acting muscles. It could have been better, but then there are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. Give it a try, I promise you'll like the Monkey part.

Ash.ox gives The Rundown a 2.5 out of 5


Monday, October 27

It's Barely 8 and I am Thirsty, LoL

Can't believe it's Ramadhan all over again. Feels like 03's moving so fast. It's good, cause it's one of my favourite times of the year..but it's also scary for a number of reasons. Religious issues aside, I'll have to come up with something concrete for my PhD proposal if I ever want to leave this year. Got a lot riding on it, so I hope the next few weeks will give me the clarity to actually start drafting the thing. Then there's the research, but hopefully I can tackle that.

In other news, looks like DVD aficionados in Malaysia can breathe easy again. Supply's back, and the range is as extensive as ever. Even saw Kill Bill Volume 1 and Underworld on sale, among other things. Made me realise something: in Germany, DVDs cost around 15-25 Euros. Which would be fine by me, especially if I was earning that particular currency. I think what gets on my nerves is that here we don't have that kind of purchasing power. A good original DVD would still set me back at least a hundred bucks, which sucks. Ditto for games. I'd stick with originals if I can help it, but not when they cost RM 299 each (and we're talking console games here, folks).

Sigh. Anyway, I managed to snag some DVDs yesterday, and may be putting up some reviews soon. I got:

1) City of God (Brazillian movie, looks good)
2) Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (intriguing)
3) Robocop 1 and 2 (I'm an 80s child, what can I say)

Joe snagged a copy of Kill Bill and Infernal Affairs 1 and 2, which should provide some solid hours of enjoyment. All in all, I spent a bit (insert guilty expression) but I thought it was worth it. In my very own twisted sense, of course. I highly recommend that other people not do as I do and concentrate on more fruitful pursuits, heheh. Well, I'm off..have a good week and a good Ramadhan!

P/s: Don't overdo it on the buka puasa, will you guys? (I'm actually quite proud of myself, had cornflakes for sahur instead of rice, heheh)


Sunday, October 26

Lagging Badly

Hi folks. The Ox is back, tired and very very horribly jet lagged. It's been a wonderful, interesting week, and about the only complaint I have about the whole trip is how FAT I look in ALL the photos. Thank God fasting month is upon us, it'll help me shed at least some of those hideous, ugly pounds (hopefully). Other than THAT minor detail, I had the time of my life in Germany.

I'd love to just gush off on all the intriguing things that happened all thru the trip, but then I realised that it'll probably take the better part of the weekend to do so. Besides, seeing that I owe some people coffee (and vice versa) it would be good to keep these stories for a relaxing hot cuppa (after buka puasa, of course). Nothing beats travel stories for a conversation topic. In any case, I think I CAN summarise the whole trip (especially the more interesting parts) as follows:

1) The public transport system in Germany is heaven.
2) Big ass Merc cars serve as taxis where I was.
3) Consumers in Malaysia have been had by shitty (and I mean ultra-hardcore shitty) kebab shops. There is NOTHING like a humongous Doner Kebab, piping hot.
4) Staying up late is always entertaining.
5) The "Ah" sound that comes out of the TV late at night more often than not denotes a phone sex line, instead of a porn movie.
5) Malaysians are sooo barbaric when it comes to boarding said public transport.
6) Amsterdam is cool.
7) Never stay too long in a souvenir shop in Amsterdam. The smell of weed burning can kill you (or at least make you see intriguing things).
8) German efficiency extends even to university negotiations. Very sharp.
9) 50 cent's PIMP video is chock full of naked women.
10) Sex shops are fun to browse in. Absofrickin hilarious!
11) Be careful when window shopping in Amsterdam. What you see inside may kill you.

So much to tell, so little brain cells at work. Well, I'll be seeing you guys soon I hope, whenever my body realises we're back in Malaysia already..which brings me to my final point:

12) Malaysia is frickin' hot.



Tuesday, October 21


It's Tuesday here, and it looks like there'll be an early winter coming, with parts of the UK already in snow, and not much sun anywhere else. It's cold, but very livable. We had rain this morning, and my breath was steaming as soon as I opened the hotel door. Had loads of fresh fruit for breakfast, as there was sort of an early fruit bazaar going on. Luscious strawberries, apples, grapes..I was in heaven...heheh. I guess the thought of returning during Ramadhan spurred me to devour all of these wonderful things. Lucky they're just fruit, tho. Since I was never a really big rice fan, I don't miss it all that much- yet ;-). Bread, meat and veggies = yum!

In any case, there's work to do, and I'll try to post updates as often as I can. Take care, people..and have a good week!


Monday, October 20

Blogging From Duisburg

Guten Tag!

Hi people. Managed to work in some blogging time between discussions. Am now on the UDE campus (University of Duisburg Essen) and waiting to go to lunch. It's lovely weather here in Germany, lowest was -1 C, which was fine. I had my German moment the instant I stepped onto the Hauptbahnhof (you know what I mean, Shey) and I think I must've been grinning like a little kid all along. Typing's a little slow since the keyboard layout's slightly different.

Hopefully I'll be able to sneak some time off to other parts of Germany or even Amsterdam (hehehe) by Wednesday. In any case, have a good week, people! Miss all of you loads!

Signing off from Deutschland,


Saturday, October 18

A Piece of Sad News

Sad, sad news. Thanks to Meesh, I found out this morning that Johan Ismail (of Joe Blogs) has passed away. I didn't know him, and only recently started reading his blog (especially his excellent pieces on the Mediface fiasco), but the sense of loss still hits me like a ton of bricks. It's truly a sad day for the blogiverse, and at the same time I can't help but marvel at how such a simple technology links so many different people, and affects their lives in so many ways. My deepest condolences to his family, and may God grace you with the strength to face the days ahead.


From God we came, and to Him we shall return.

Al Fatihah.


A Hot, Hot Week

I think plenty of people have written about the latest fiasco regarding our soon to be departing Prime Minister. I won't add to the conundrum, God knows there's been so much said, and almost all of it something new for me to learn. In any case, it'll be interesting to see what the ramifications are halfway around the world. As I've blogged earlier, I'll be leaving for Germany today and it'll sure be interesting to see the Germans' take on it, if they're aware (which they probably would be).

I'm only halfway packed, but the throbbing migraine that's been attacking me these past few days won't let me do anything more complex than open my eyes for longer than half an hour. Ugh. In any case, I should be done by afternoon, and I hope I've brought enough clothes, heheh. Thanks to everyone for their travel tips, and I couldn't have gotten ready for this without your help! Am very very excited (since it's my first trip to Europe) and I have every intention of enjoying myself. The digicam's loaded and ready, and I'll try to find a way to blog from there, since I AM going to be at a university.

In case I can't, I'd just like to wish everyone a good weekend (and week) ahead. I'll miss blogging and especially the PPS, but hopefully we'll see each other again in a week. Keep up the good work, guys, and to the TBRB, I am so very sorry I can't make it, but I'm sure it can't be in better hands. Well, I'm sigining off for now, and as always: If you can't be good, be CAREFUL!



Wednesday, October 15

Kuman Di Seberang Laut Nampak

So much has been said about violence and vandalism among schoolchildren and teenagers. Today, it's this. It's always easy to blame the West, TV, violent movies, video games, Linkin Park. But honestly, are we to believe that hooliganism is purely a byproduct of the media? I remember fights like this when I was in boarding school, and that was 10 years ago. Go back another 10, 20 even and I'm pretty sure this 'gaduh' phenomena was already there. I've heard enough stories to think otherwise.

So who do we blame? Let's start with ourselves. It's not as difficult as it sounds, really. Start with how we have more TV dinners than anything else. Start with how we expect children to follow what we teach, when it's what we DO that gets stuck in their brains. Ever overtaken a car on the wrong side of the road or the emergency lane? Your kid is watching. Threw rubbish out the car? Ditto. And then we yell, cry and point fingers at the evil, Zionist TV, or that devilish tool, video games.

So where's the Gajah, you ask? It's here. Right in front of our noses. P Ramlee made movies about it, and we laughed, not realising he was showing us what really was. It's our fault, ladies and gentlemen. We chase after the Big Buck, so we leave our kids with Indonesian/Filipino maids then get all miffed when they start speaking Tagalog better than Malay. Interest in a child's day? God forbid. It saddens me greatly to mention this, but about the only time I've ever heard a parent asking a 6-7 year old child how their day at school went was at BSC and in Hartamas. Did I mention they were all expats? Well, I just did.

So what about the kampungs, you ask? They surely don't have maids there. Like I said, watch any P Ramlee movie. Notice how there's always a Sarip Dol? There's been bullies in our villages and schools for ages. We all like to think that just by 'returning to our traditional values' all the evils will go away. Not so, IMHO. Traditional values will be nothing more than superstition if no effort is spent actually practicing and adapting them to our increasingly 'global' society. I guess the point of this rant is that before it's too late, we need to get in touch again. With our kids, and our families. I know it's easier said than done, but a little affection goes a long way. I can only pray that no more potential doctors, lawyers and astronauts are needlessly killed or hurt.



Tuesday, October 14


It's almost midnight. I am awake, suddenly nervous. Would you believe I've been spending the last hour or so trying to soak up on anything that may be useful for the coming trip (you may have realised that I haven't travelled all that much). Anyway, here's a secret:

Until 4.00 pm this afternoon, I did not have any idea what this whole trip was all about, or who was going. Sure, I half remembered several visiting professors from some uni there, but I was away from the faculty when they came, and thus missed out on the whole shebang. Okay. So tomorrow morning I'm to see the Deputy Dean of Academics for a briefing on my 'official' function on the trip, bearing in mind I am replacing one of the most senior members of the faculty.

Ooo - er.

Number two: Thanks to some of you, I now have a vague idea of what to pack. A big heartfelt thank you goes out to those of you who've offered to lend me your jackets/windbreakers. Still, with barely 3 days to go, the prospect DOES seem slightly daunting, because:

I have another 150 answer scripts to finish by Friday, one student in PTPL Shah Alam to evaluate Wednesday afternoon, and another one Thursday morning. And did I mention tomorrow (or today) is already Wednesday? Arrghh! So all I have to do now is finish up the marking, dash through the evaluations, get the jackets/suitcases what have you, shop for some additional stuff and pack it all in before Saturday.

Can I do it again? Arrghh! Panic attack!

Looks like it's gonna be a sleepless night for the Ox. Gah.

Stay tuned.


Help! Advice Needed!

Okay, I've got less than a week to get stuff to bring over on my German trip. Been looking at the weather reports, and it looks like it's gonna be a very cold one. Anyway, I'd just like your opinions. Anyone ever been there this time of year? What should I bring? The Ox is totally clueless in this regard, so any and all help is greatly appreciated.


Germany! Germany!!

Oh my God! I've been chosen to go to Germany for one whole week! And to think I was moaning and groaning just five minutes ago! Oh well, this is life for you. I'll prolly be busy getting stuff ready for the trip, and the tentative date is 18th to 25th Oct.

Hopefully I'll be able to blog from there, but in the meantime, keep tuning in!


Tuesday Doldrums

It's a hot little Tuesday and man, am I blanked out. It's not fatigue (since I had a good weekend and loads of rest), so I guess it must be a general quality of bleh-ness. The Uni's nearly empty, all the students have gone off for their semester breaks, I'm knee deep in marking answer scripts and theses... you get the picture. So here I am, feeling the oppressive heat of the sun seep through the walls of my room (which is made of corrugated iron, by the way) and also uh-ohing the fact that another episode of the doldrums is on its way.

A recent post in Strizzt's blog got me thinking: How far have we strayed from our dreams? Are we the same now as what we'd always envisioned ourselves to be? Can we STILL afford to dream? The Ox was a big dreamer once. Got toned down a bit when he realised early on that he'd have to fight for every little pleasure, every little thing he would ever want. In this respect, he's come to embrace what he feels is a fundamental principle of the universe: Murphy's Law.

If something can go wrong, it will.

So it goes. Especially in matters of the heart where he is most vulnerable, the Ox sometimes wishes he doesn't feel anymore and likes to pretend so. But every so often, he ponders the possibilities, the what might have beens and what-ifs. So he burrows his way into his work, coming up just for air (and perhaps food). He throws himself into the alternate worlds presented by his games, into lands where he is a warrior, fighter, king, jumping bandicoot, chipmunk. And in the end, he is so tired that there is no time to think of dreams, that sleep is the only thing he needs.

And it works, for a while. But day comes, and the Ox gets yanked out of Morpheus's land earlier than he would have liked (although it might be a good thing, since in sleep also there are what-if creatures). The cycle begins, and he realises that there are still dreams, and he still wants them to come true.

Alas, he is scared. Past wounds still ache, and some scars run deep. Does he dare hope?


Saturday, October 11

My Pirate Name

Arrr! My pirate name is Dirty Harry Flint, according to this website. Additionally, it says that :

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

LoL. Worth the time, just for a laugh. Try it, it's a hoot!


Movie Mania: Warriors of Heaven and Earth Review

I admit, I wasn't intending to watch WoHaE, although I did have it slotted for a later viewing. I wanted to go for the Tale of The Two Sisters. But as it happened, my sis lost her phone in college and to cheer her up, I bought her a new starter pack (since thankfully she was using my old phone and thus has a spare) and decided to take her for a good ol' Chinese yarn with action and drama. I walked into the theatre with no expections whatsoever, and was very pleasantly surprised. If stories of fighting, honour and comradeship are your cup of tea, then WoHaE is for you.

The story begins simply enough. Set during the time of the Tang Dynasty, a special agent on behalf of the emperor plies his deadly trade. An emissary from Japan, Lai Xi (played here by Nakai Kiichi) is forbidden by the Tang Emperor to return to his country of origin until he has tracked every last outlaw in the western plains of China. In the process, he is also entrusted with the safety of Wen Zhu (Zhao Wei, looking oh so delightful) the daughter of a former general. Lai Xi systematically cleans up every itinerant, outlaw, bandit and the odd Mongol, making the Plains a better place to live in. We also find out that he is tired of his voluntary exile, and wishes to return to his mother. As the agent is preparing to leave, he receives one final assignment: to capture the man known as Butcher Li (Jiang Wen in a shining role, IMHO). Butcher Li was once a famed Liutenant in the emperor's army, whose skill, courage and loyalty were legendary. He disobeyed a direct command to kill some civilians, however, which resulted in his fall from grace. Hunted and despised, Li hides away in the great Gobi desert while the other members of his unit also deserted their posts to live peacefully.

All that ends when a caravan of Buddhist scriptures is attacked by a freak storm, leaving only one survivor. Stumbling upon the remnants of the caravan, Li promises to escort it, picking up his old friends along the way, and inevitably, bumping into Lai Xi, the enigmatic Master An, an enemy who just won't quit and a relic that might save China. I can't say anymore without giving the story away, so I'll proceed with the rest of the review.

Thematically, the whole film reminds me of a spaghetti western (with dashes of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai). I'm unsure if the director's vision was to create an epic, sweeping story ala Crouching Tiger or Hero, but the finished product is more of a Musa. The story is holey in parts, sometimes asking the viewer to fill in their own explanations and plot devices (for instance, how does an abandoned outpost store so many NEW looking weapons, how the remains of Sakyamuni- oops!). Where the magic really shines through is in the characterisations. Jiang Wen is absolutely believable as a distinguished warrior, and he pulls it off so effortlessly. The commanding tone, the way he carries his responsibility, the little tap of sword against helm as he prepares to battle. It is easy to see how his comrades would follow him into battle and beyond. Kiichi is the slick, suave Imperial officer, whose swordsmanship is of equal measure to Li. Mostly silent but deadly, he learns in the movie that true honour is not always found in serving the court. As for Zhao Wei, for some reason she's vastly underutilised until the final act, when she dons armour to join the fray. I only wish her character had been sketched in deeper (although, as my sister pointed out, being a general's daughter she must have been very sheltered).

As for villains, Master An (Wang Xue Qi) is an Ernst Blofeld in the Silk Road. Charming but lethal, he is at once someone you HAVE to hate, but hope he doesn't know. Additionally, the supporting cast (mostly playing Li's former unit members) play their parts with gusto, tinging the whole film with a slight aura of nostalgia and making it even more believable. Perhaps the stark desert locale also helped flesh out what could have been a simple hack and slash flick.

In short, WoHaE is a good film in the vein of Musa and Hero. It doesn't aspire to much, and the effects are serviceable, but it provides some good action and acting, making it a perfect way to wind up a Friday (besides, it'll make you feel way better than My Boss's Daughter). Recommended.

Ash.ox gives Warriors of Heaven and Earth a 3.5 out of 5.

For more info, hop on to their website.


Thursday, October 9


Sometimes we get lost. Too caught up in our own worries, fears, uncertainties. We create little coccoons around ourselves, a sort of mini-universe, if you will, with us as its absolute centre. Can't reallly say that it's a bad thing, since I do it as well (poor justification, but hey). People tell me, take a step back, look at the big picture. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But more often than not, that big picture will show you something you didn't notice before. Maybe it's that cloud formation you never notice as you walk to your car, or the way the scenery on the road you take to work has changed. Take myself, for instance. I suffer from complete tunnel vision, sometimes. I keep my gaze locked on firmly ahead and bulldoze my way through. It's ONE way to make it, but I do wonder if there's so much I may have missed.

Enough jabbering. Take a look at this site. I don't know what it will do for YOU, but it really gave me something to remember, the next time I think I'm the biggest deal in the universe.



Wednesday, October 8

Elementary, My Dear Watson

Interesting reads from the net today:

It seems that our favourite American, Mr George W Bush, has a blog of his own! Zounds! What an astonishing development. I only wonder if he writes the entries himself, or do his eager interns do it FOR him (I'm inclined to believe the latter). Intrigued? You can access it here. Way to go, Mr Bush! No better time to hop on the IT bandwagon.

On a related note: those of us in the blogiverse who like to sneak entries in during work, might want to read this little article. I wonder if Malaysian companies will start creating policies for their blogging employees too?


Midweek Madness

Again, it's midnight and I can't sleep. It's been a cold couple of nights recently, meaning there's never been a better time to catch up on some shuteye. So many things to do, some directly my fault (since I am a Master Procrastinator) and others just seem to drop in me lap. Ugh. In any case, to chase away these omnipresent depressing thoughts, I shall share with you my a list of upcoming movies grouped by how I think of 'em.

Yay. What stimulating content. Here goes:

Movies I'm Psyched About
1) Kill Bill
Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Lucy Liu in a Tarantino flick? Count me in. Thurman is the protagonist, an assassin betrayed and seeking revenge from her mysterious employer, known only as Bill (Carradine). Martial arts action, violence, and even a dash of anime all thrown in Tarantino's peculiar style. I'm hoping it works.

2) Once Upon A Time In Mexico
What is it about Robert Rodriguez? I dunno. But with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek reprising their earlier roles in Desperado, as well as almost all the other actors from that movie, I'm definitely going to watch this one. Besides, it's got freakin' Johnny Depp! God knows I'll watch anything with him in it. And Willem Dafoe as a drug lord? Yaay! It should be showing soon-ish.

3) Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy
Finally! After a long hiatus, the film is coming to the big screen, under Disney, no less! Scripted by the same feller who gave us Chicken Run (closely based on Doug Adams' book) I'm crossing my fingers AND toes that I'll be able to see Arthur Dent and Marvin the Paranoid Android cavorting on screen! Yay!

4) Lord Of The Rings: Return of The King
All good stories should have an ending. And judging from the trailer, the final instalment will be one huge lip-smacking delight. Can't wait to see Aragorn and the gang again.

5) The Rundown
The Rock as action hero? I cringed during the Mummy Returns and Scorpion King, but reviews say this little piece of celluloid kicks butt! Am definitely going to see if Mr Johnson can pull off a Willis.

Movies I'm Curious To See
1) The Matrix Revolutions
Okay. I know bazillions of fans all over the world are sooo excited about this final episode, but I'm just interested to see how the Wachowskis will end the trilogy. Hopefully there'll be less pseudophilosophical gibberish and more of what made the first Matrix great. And for God's sake! Please, no more raves!

2) League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Having read the comic book, I'm just waiting to see if Steve Norrington can deliver a tight action package with a little British schoolboy hero flavour. Failing that, suspending my disbelief will do.

3) Darkness
Horror-thriller with Anna Paquin. Looks creepy, and everyone knows the Ox is a horror geek.

4) Underworld
Kate Beckinsale, fresh out of nurses' school is transformed into a werewolf hunting vampire. No, I'm not kidding you.

5) The Two Sisters
Korean horror flick, based on popular myth. I KNOW I'm going to watch this one, and most probably alone. Sigh.

Movies That I Just Don't Give a Sh** About
1) Superman
Yup, it's still underway, although no one can say for sure who's playing the title hero or if there's even a director! I'm sure they'll mess up the mythology anyway, so who cares?

2) House of 1000 Corpses
Rob Zombie's directorial debut? Word of advice: Direct to Video. Enough said.

Actually there are too many in the latter category to mention. I'll be adding more to the list as we continue on our spiral outside 2003. Till next time, people!


Tuesday, October 7

This Road I May Not Follow

Pieces of dreams
(past and present)
are nothing but.
From far enough away,
mine must look like grains of sand.

Did you know?
That the sand at the beach is made of the shells
of millions and millions of creatures?
The waves crash
and pound them
so little children (and adults, too)
can walk and run
and cuddle and laugh
(do you miss that too?)

I am:
What was, and what
might have been.

You have:
What may be
and what will be.

Sleep well, Ce'Nedra.
And walk safe.


Monday, October 6

Movie Monday: The Life of Brian DVD Review

It's lunchtime, I've got some time to burn, and I desperately need to escape an encroaching depressive episode. The game consoles are all at home, so what do I do? I write my review of Monty Python's second feature film, The Life of Brian, which my sister somehow found on DVD (don't even ask if it's a pirated copy).

For those of you yet unfamilliar with the Pythons, they were a troupe of British comedians popular throughout the 60s and 70s. Mostly producing short, satirical skits, they were known chiefly for their often blunt criticisms of Western civilisation. Surviving members include John Cleese (Charlie's Angels 2, Die Another Day) and Michael Palin (Full Circle with Michael Palin). Alright. Enough expository info.

The Story
Made several years after their first movie, Monty Python and The Holy Grail, The Life of Brian revolves around Brian Cohen, an illegitimate son of a Roman centurion and a Jewish woman. Born about the same time as Jesus (the same night, actually) he survived being visited by the Three Wise Magi of the East (who thought he was Jesus) and quickly grew up to be lanky young lad obsessed with the size of his nose. Having grown up rather quickly, he made a living selling snacks at the local colisseum. He thought (as all Jews did) that Roman rule sucked, and therefore recruited himself into the People's Front of Judea, not to be confused with the People's Popular Front or The Judean People's Front. As the story progresses, Brian gets sucked into a plot to assasinate Pontius Pilate, has sex with a fellow committee member, and gets appointed as the Messiah (in no particular order). The story ends with Brian being crucified (no nails, just tied to a cross) and being comforted by the other crucifiees with an amazing rendition of "Always Look on The Bright Side Of Life".

It's obviously not everyone's cup of tea. But still, if you're interested (and have the stomach to see several Pythons naked), The Life of Brian is a wonderful look at all the cornball biblical films of the era, as well as the obsession with celebrity that still holds true even now. It's not meant to be a serious film (obviously), but as Terry Jones puts it, "It's to show the life of someone growing up during the time Jesus was alive..all around Brian important things were happening..but he doesn't see them! Although the audience does.."

Audio and Video
This was supposedly from a Criterion Collection remastering, so it's pretty passable..although the print does show its age. However, compared to the footage from video cassettes also included, you can see that the audio and video's been jazzed up quite well. Don't go expecting your subwoofers to rattle any windows though.

We get 2 commentary tracks featuring four of the Pythons, a half hour long documentary on the group, original BBC radio ads, deleted scenes (with commentary) and the theatrical trailer. Not bad at all, especially considering the Pythons have so much fun on the comments!

Final Word
If you're a fan of the boys, then by all means. But if you're not (or less experimental), stay with B. Jones or Hugh Grant.


The Bloody Kahwin Thing

Before I proceed, let me just get one thing straight. I have nothing against marriage. Honest. I plan to enter that particular state too someday, have kids, the whole shebang. Just not yet (for a number of reasons). Anyhoo, what ticks me off is when married people try and enforce their particular views on the subject to us Singletons (thank you, B. Jones). Something a friend said today brought back a topic that I was supposed to blog about earlier but for some reason, forgot. I got so angry I nearly killed someone. Luckily, he avoided a messy death from 15 storeys up. Well, here it is.

THIRD DAY of symposium.


Dramatis Personae:

OX: CL, remind me to iron my shirt for tomorrow, eh?

CL: Sure thing.

IR1: You wouldn't have to do that if you were married, you know. (Other IRs snicker in background).

OX: What's the matter with ironing clothes myself?

IR2: Well, I COULD do that, but then the wife would be out of things to do! (All IRs laugh). Women are like that. What else can they do?

IR21: Yeah, you should get married soon. What are you waiting for? Now's the time, man! You don't know what you're missing. Besides, you can save yourself from sin.

(All IRs laugh)

OX: And I suppose those incest cases were done by single people? Never heard of an unmarried grandpa.

IR3: That's cause the wife's 'no good' anymore. (Gales of laughter).

OX: Well at least if I slept with a hooker tonight I won't be cheating on my wife.

ALL IRs : Wow! You're really wicked!

My dear friends, need I continue? If this in any way represents the mindset of my colleagues in the uni, then count me out, make that double pronto. I can take some ribbing, off-colour jokes and what not with the best of them. Yeah, I even got the grunting laughter down pat. But what gets to me is the sheer...irresponsibility of their remarks. It just hit me that these people stand for everything I despise and loathe in the male sex. The tendency to not look beyond the tip of their own penis (however short) astounds me. And this is not the first time either. It's like a national sport, this blustering about how they don't need to do the laundry, or how the wife never says no. Men like these make me ashamed of my species. And before any of you start labeling me, this has nothing to do with feminism or women's lib. It's about respect. Judging from this and other conversations, they regard their wives as only being slightly higher in station than a pack mule.

So go figure. Right now, practically speaking, I can't imagine myself settling down with a woman that doesn't have at least a tertiary education and a job, or better yet, a career. Want to call me a snob? Check out what IMHO justifies this statement:

1) Living costs are high, and we'll need every penny.
2) I'd like it if I don't need to look outside for mental stimulus, thank you.
3) If anything happened to me (death, crippling disease, etc) she'd be able to take care of herself and the family.

So there. At this moment, God's probably lining up someone who's the total opposite of what I've written down here to steal my heart, but right here and now, this is what I think. To the women reading this, be aware, men are a tricky species. Take time out to read, watch the news on the telly (if you're not working), learn a new skill. Don't let these bastards propagate the illusion that you NEED to do the laundry, that you're MEANT to be subservient. I just pray that I never turn into one of THEM, since a long time ago, someone told me never to forget that:

"It's always somebody else's sister/mother/daughter, until yours gets hurt."

Shit. This is getting to be too long already. Good night, people.


Sunday, October 5

Sunday!! Sunday!!

It's Sunday again! My mum's on the way down, since my Grandma's in the hospital and we're off to see her (I think). There's some family drama that I won't get into here, not yet. Anyway, been catching up on a whole week's worth of e-mails, and man, is it never fun. All the newsletters aren't current, there are people who think I'm lazy bastard (I am, sometimes) and there's the ubiquitious Spam folder to empty. Oh well.

I start marking exam papers tomorrow, and according to a friend of mine co-marking it, I'd better get a bin and label it 'Zero'. Sheesh. I had no idea it would be THAT bad. In any case, am reasonably energised after my three day weekend to actually start doing something work-related. Oh, and having good games to while away slow patches really helps. I hate to say it, but it looks like the Xbox is starting to show strong promise in its efforts to contend with Sony's now ubiquitious (does anyone notice I used this word twice already? I really need a thesaurus) PS2. I shall not digress into a gaming frenzy, since there's ample time to do that later in the week.

Well, I'm off to enjoy what's left of the Sunday, and maybe I'll decide to post more thought provoking material tomorrow. Or maybe I won't. The Insane Ox's still unsure if he wants to be one of those serious, topical-like blogs, or just stay, well, Ox-y.

Reminder to self: Sunday is no time for self debate.


Friday, October 3

Thank God It's Friday (and I mean it!)

It's half past nine on a Friday morning and I am at home. Every muscle and joint in my body's screaming for some sleep, but my mind decides otherwise (blasted force of habit!). Instead what I do is look out the window, at the kids on their way to school, the buses, the parents on their way to work. In the half dazed lump of tissue that is my brain the thought that I'm lucky as hell to be where I am now flashes and is quickly replaced by another one saying 'there's still a long way to go'. And there is. But today (on leave), right now, I'm just happy to be alive.

The past week's gone by in a massive blur. It seems like only yesterday (sorry folks, HAD to use that one) I rushed over to the Crown Princess to await the first shipment of equipment for the symposium. From that point onwards, it's been rushing from point A to B to H and back again, with last minute plan changes, registering delegates (and ferrying them about), lifting things, putting them back get the picture. Oh, and I was Master of Ceremonies throughout the whole shebang, which meant that the attendees had to endure my faux British accent for all of 3 days.


A lot of knowledge was passed around in those 3 days, and I missed quite a bit of it (scurrying around whispering on a two-way radio does not help an attention span). I WAS able to get close to some of the foreign delegates (thank God) since most of them joined the tour of Putrajaya and KL that I handled, during which I realised an interesting thing: Malaysian conferences rely too much on protocol. The opening ceremony was officiated by the Vice Chancellor of my uni, and as such we had to endure a huge mountain of protocol (who to mention first, next, last etc etc) as well as be careful not to step on any professor's little toe. What I found during the tour was that most of these researchers don't need such a formal atmosphere when they present their findings. They get enough of that in their own universities. And here they are, 5000 (or more) km from their homes, and we stick them with boring formalities and a speech that's more gilding the lily than anything else. I gleaned more knowledge (IMHO) talking to them in the bus, over lunch, and while walking than I think I did overseeing their parallel sessions (anyone don't know what one of THOSE is, don't worry). And best of all, I made some new friends.

There's Cristoph, the Swiss who's doing his doctorate in Hawaii. Carl, the big bad American with the PhD who has his own consulting firm and who I had loads of fun discussing comparative religion, knowledge dissemination and general geeky stuff with. Prof. Kargal Gurumurthy from Bangalore who kept me on my toes asking where the materials for building Putrajaya came from and oil prices, among other things..(not to mention he says we're lucky that Malaysians seem to be so rich),the funky guys from Pakistan, Dr Ponrudee from Thailand (her name's pronounced nowhere like how it's spelt).

You get the picture.

At the end of the day, I was sore, my feet were whole pillars of pain, but I felt good, for a number of reasons. For one thing, I received no end of compliments on how I handled the events and tour (hee heee). For another, it was good to see that all that hard work paid off, and I even managed to learn something. And finally, I'm slightly strengthened in my resolve to not stay with the uni. There's a whole wide world out there, and I'm not prepared to let someone else just trample all my hard earned work into dust. Risky, I know..but what's life without risks?

And what a beautiful life it is.


Thursday, October 2

Hiatus Ends!!

Hello people. The Ox is back after nearly a week chock-full of academic goodness. The first International Symposium of any kind I've ever handled in my life, and I must admit, it gives me a very very vain buzz to hear the compliments from satisfied attendees.

But more ego stroking later. As for now, I think that my "little grey cells" need some rest, and the doughy body too.

But anyway, regular transmission resumes soon! So have a good Friday, and if you can't be good, be careful.

P/S: Thanks to everyone who's dropped by this week! Am a very happy Ox!