Sunday, February 29

Wedding Review, Or: How To Survive A Friend's Wedding, By Ash.Ox

Last night was a funny, funny thing. The friend I was supposed to go to the wedding arrived slightly late, resulting in both of us grimly fighting our way through what we thought would be unrelenting traffic on the way to Kelab Darul Ehsan. Fortunately, we arrived with time to spare, thanks to the KL-Ampang Elevated Expressway. As we made our way into the complex (shaking hands with God knows who) I took in my surroundings in a glance: the white clad girls (some of whom were very very pretty ;) ), the boys in baju melayu (obviously relatives of the groom) and other invitees, the men in their batik shirts and slacks and the women in the voluminous shawls/scarves/pashminas. Not knowing anyone but my companion, the groom and his bride (albeit slightly) I was a little uncomfortable, but as I am wont to do in this types of situations, I rushed for the nearest safe haven first: The loo.

In any case, the two minutes in there proved sufficient to calm my inexplicably nervous state. As we were escorted to the "bachelor friends" table, I could see that the guest list was a veritable who's who of academia. There were deans (including my own), professors, presidents of colleges etc, etc. Oh, and not to forget their wives. It took me awhile before I remembered that 1) my friend came from a very academic oriented family and 2) said friend's wife was chinese and half of the hall was filled with her relatives. Another mixed marriage, which I took to be a very good sign.

Dinner was catered by the in-house team (I think) and it being Tai Thong, I knew exactly what to expect (read: don't expect too much). 6 courses in all, served awkwardly by bumbling waiters who knew exactly when to spill what on who. If this has taught me one thing, it's to make sure I hire professionals (since I only DO plan to marry once, and might as well get it right). The groom's father (and the MC) made their attempts to address his daughter in law's family in Mandarin (which I found hilarious but excellent) and both not-so-newlyweds went out of the hall every half an hour to change into some different costume (more on this later).

Of course, before that there was the bersanding ceremony, with assorted relatives and datuks and professors going out front to bless the happy couple. Being naturally fair, the bride DID outshine her husband (which I taught was about right). That over, everyone proceeded to tuck in (trying not to get splashed, of course). One of the highlights of the whole night was when a friend of the groom suddenly leant over and asked me: "Don't you ever feel worried how yours is going to turn out whenever you go to one of these things?". I nearly didn't hear him (since I was busy eyeing a gaggle of good looking female members of family, dressed very nicely I might add) but I managed to take my busy eyes off to reply "It gets better with practice. After awhile, you get used to sitting at the bachelor table, and you just don't care."

Inevitably, questions of the "so when is it your turn" nature came along, and my companion and I (which was a guy, lol) managed to deflect them without too much hassle. It is my opinion that apparently the main cause for early marriages in Malaysia is having gone to too many weddings and asked the question too many times. Admittedly, it IS very tough for us Singletons, but practice makes perfect. Other highlights of the night included the many costume changes by the pengantin, including a horrendous colonial bow tie ensemble for the groom (which prompted a near simultaneous shudder from me and my companion).

Ah. Who said you can't learn anything from weddings? As the evening wore on, we were getting increasingly fidgety until finally we were released back into the wild. Thankful for the fresh air, my friend and I decided to hit Bintang Walk, where we sat there discussing the state of matrimony (and the world) until about three in the morning. As we were walking back to the car, we had to entertain several proposition of the "mau amoi ka?" variety. Tempted though I was, I decided being a Singleton was no excuse to get myself infected with some Godforsaken VD. Besides, I was broke.

Going home never felt so good. Gah. See you tomorrow, folks.


Friday, February 27

Movie Review: Lost in Translation

Before anything else, let me say it is an absolute crime to NOT hug Scarlett Johannson if she's in the same bed with you.
Very bad form. Anyway.

If you've ever had to leave someone in a foreign city you wish you didn't have to, then this is the film for you.
If you've ever spent sleepless nights, feeling lost and wondering where you've gone wrong, this is the film for you.
Even if you've never done either, Lost in Translation is worth a look.

I was hesitant at first to view this one, since Sofia Coppola has a penchant for deeply depressing storytelling. Very good reviews from all around the world (and the fact that it was shot in Japan) finally persuaded me to give this unassuming little film a viewing. And it was well worth it.

The story's simple enough. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a washed up (amazing how much this phrase pops up in reviews of this movie) actor who now makes his living endorsing a brand of whiskey in Japan. For the uninitiated, western actors/actresses/stars doing this is actually quite common. Even Beckham does it. Anyway, Bob is a typical middle aged man wrestling the usual demons: career, marriage and realising he doesn't know what he's doing. At the same time, Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson, yum) a young woman married to a photographer (rolls eyes, played by Giovanni Ribisi) is facing her own kind of depression: being left alone in a huge sprawling metropolis night after night. Inevitably, Bob and Charlotte meet. So you think, this is so formulaic. Sparks fly, they end up sleeping with each other and teary eyed heartbreak follows.

Actually, no.

What does happen is far simpler. Bob and Charlotte discover that by getting lost, it's sometimes easier to find yourself. Through a series of adventures (and some misadventures) the jadedness that pervaded them when they first arrive is replaced by that childish sense of adventure and perhaps more importantly, friendship. There are some who argue that the very notion of Charlotte falling for a man like Bob (which happens, alas) is sickening. But then again, the beauty of Lost in Translation is that it's never about sexual tension. These are just two individuals happy to have each others' company and their friendship.

Sofia Coppola chose to shoot everything on location, and the megalopolis is as much a star of the show as Bill and Scarlett are. The cinematography is nothing spectacular, but her lenses manage to capture the quirkiness and unpredictable nature of Japan in the short hour and a half that this film takes. There is a lot on offer here, from Bill's incessant channel surfing to the marvelously strange shopping district to the serene environ that are their temples. It's almost like a travelogue of sorts without stooping to typical Asian "put-downs". One notable scene is when Bob's employers send him a high class prostitute who insists he "lip" her stockings. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

As usual, there are some weaknesses. SOME typical Asian stereotypes do show through, and Bob and Charlotte remain absolute gaijin to the end (although this is highly realistic, IMO). There is not too much in the way of dialogue but Coppola ensure that every silence is filled with something else: and expression, a gesture, a look.

I won't spoil the movie by giving anything away. Suffice to say that it ends on a sad if hopeful note. It may not have been the ending we would have wanted, but it would have been the right one. It's a movie dedicated to the connections we make in our lives, and to the fact that sometimes it takes a journey halfway around the world to make a full circle.

Go watch it.

The Ox gives Lost in Translation a 4 out of 5.


Thursday, February 26

"You panic at the weirdest times."

How unfortunately true. Sometimes you need to hear it from people you care most for it to reach you.

I got an email from a prospective supervisor abroad, and for some reason I let it rattle me. It was just a cautionary note, asking me to think if I really was ready for the kind of project I'd be involving myself in: Lots of programming (both in concept and execution) and of the type I'm not really familiar with. Here I was, the epitome of "go-aheadedness", seeming so ready to jump in the fray anytime when that little email just threw me off track. Thanks to a conversation with a couple friends in the afternoon, I thought I'd put it behind me. I was wrong. The thing kept niggling at the corner of my mind but I didn't realise just how much until I got home and dialed a long distance number.

That conversation jolted me out of my self-involved dream. I forgot that there will always be moments when I won't be sure of anything, and that I should not let them get the better of me. Right now the familiar demons are around, along with their what-ifs and niggling, irritating doubts. Moments like these, I'm at my most vulnerable. I actually get scared. Funny, for someone who's so often giving out pieces of advice, I think I should let off of that and learn to take some of my own.

And also some from other people who often see things clearer than I ever can.
Thank you.


Sorry Dear, But You've Got Dirty Bits

Interesting News: Those among us who enjoy the occasional oral stimulation may have to take note: Oral Sex Linked To Cancer, screams this headline from Reuters, courtesy of

Thankfully though, according to scientists, the risk is smaller than that posed by heavy drinking or smoking. This doesn't mean we're out of the red yet, though. Apparently patients with oral cancer containing a strain of the human papilloma virus were three times more likely to have had oral sex compared with people who didn't have the virus.

Interesting, wot? Does this mean we have to start testing ourselves (and our partners) for oral cancers before consenting to the act? Perhaps. Will this put a dent into some of our more interesting life moments (bear in mind this applies for cunnilingus AND fellatio)? Maybe. But the more pressing question is, will oral sex ever be the same? The answer is a resounding perhaps, too. Scientists are even now working on cervical cancer vaccines that hopefully will work on the oral variants as well.

I'm sure that when (and if) a vaccine IS found, a collective giant sigh of relief will be heard across the globe. I for one, can't wait to see that happen (er, for altruistic reasons, of course).

Have a good day, and always watch what you put in your mouths.


Monty Python And The Surprise Wedding

Yesterday was a day of surprises, it seems. For one thing, when I got back from work (after driving through what can only be described as a horrendous storm) there was a nice package in my mailbox. Inside was something I never thought I'd have: the complete soundtracks to Monty Python's Life of Brian and the Meaning of Life. These are not only songs, mind you. Imagine the complete dialogue track plus songs (of course) in a whole CD. Though not many may understand why I like them so much, having the soundtracks (in addition to both DVDs) means I can now take the Pythons anywhere I go. Yay!

(Thank you, dear. You know who you are.)

The second surprise was on a different note. An old friend came up from Malacca to see me and to bring the news that a mutual friend (and former classmate) had gotten married in secret some time ago, and was inviting us to his reception this Saturday. It didn't strike me as being too significant until I realised that my Malacca friend who works in the same department ALSO just found out, resulting in his being more than slightly pissed. Apparently the season of marriage is forever upon us.

Anyhow, we decided that we would go, as a matter of principle. Only problem now is, I don't have a batik shirt. Gah. For some reason it completely escaped my mind to get a new one last year. Right. The thing's on Saturday, and tomorrow's Friday. Anyone got any spare batik shirts I could borrow? I'll be very careful, promise :)


Wednesday, February 25

Ouch! Love REALLY Hurts!

Good news for couples everywhere. Apparently it IS possible for couples to feel each other's pain, according to this study by the University College London. The article says, merely knowing your loved one is suffering can be enough to trigger similar discomfort by activating (get this) pain centres in the brain!


So now theoretically it IS possible that male partners get irritable whenever their other half gets PMS. I've even coined a name for this two years ago: Pre Pre Menstrual Syndrome, in which the men get irritable anticipating their partners impending menstrual cycle (and PMS). Hah!

"Our human capacity to 'tune in' to others when exposed to their feelings may explain why we do not always behave selfishly." Dr Tani Singer, researcher.

Amazing. They've even managed to find out why we do things for other people, thanks to the magic of brain imaging. Of course, the applications of this new finding are myriad. Members of a couple can now add "You never feel my pain!" to the list of reasons why they think their partner doesn't love them anymore (although I wonder if the pain that arises after making an expensive purchase is also shared. Hmmm.). In any case, this opens up a whole new dimension in relationships. Never again will the statement "I feel your pain" be taken slightly.

So ladies and gents, batter up. Do this simple, simple test: Ask yourself if whenever your partner is hurt, do you actually feel discomfort, or is that expression on your face the result of months of practice?



Tuesday, February 24

F**k Bracelets: The Next Big Thing?

Okay. I admit, I was planning to read my thesis continuously, with no interruptions. But this article really got my attention.

Fuck bracelets. Yup, you read that right. Curious? Go here. For those with short attention spans, here's the gist of it:

A grade school in Norway has banned kids from wearing bracelets, popularly known as Fuck Bracelets to school. This after the school teachers found out that they were used to denote sexual favours on offer or demand by colour. If say, someone tore off the bracelet in black, the said tornee (is there such a word?) would have to perform the connected sexual act (in this case, coitus).

Ingenious. If only they'd thought of this earlier. With grade school kids like this, I can only wonder what the teenagers are wearing.



'Sup, Dawg?

Interesting lunchtime reads, today. In between reading the thesis I've been stuck on and generally defending myself from people who think I'm a crazy-sex-maniac bastard or bitch (it's a long story), I managed to snag this article on Apparently Malaysia's not the only country where we see a sudden infusion of a new ethnic-group who I like to call the the Nuovo-Blacks. That's right. In between the punk rockers and the beat boppers (did I actually say that?) we have the immensely popular hip-hopper culture. The article, adapted from UK's The Observer noted that the hip hop culture now predominates their youth. So much so that there's actually a term for the slang they speak, namely Blinglish.

Oh dear. I haven't actually had the opportunity to check if our youths have gotten the bug as well, but from what I've seen so far, it looks like we're heading there and soon. Don't believe me? Check out any of our malls and you'll know them from the extra baggy pants worn under the bum, the caps skewed ever so slightly on their heads and of course, the general lingo. Hoppers are here, and they mean to stay. I have nothing against their musical/clothing preference, however funny I think it is. They're kids, and kids always want to experiment with being cool. They do provide entertainment for my tired eyes, and I'm always thankful for that. While the UK's wrestling with Blinglish, in the US, people are trying to reduce the occurrence of the word "like" in their kids' vocabulary. The general sentiment is that it's used far too much, according to this article.

Besides, having lived through some of the 70s and 80s, I have a feeling we'll ALL look back and chuckle on our oh-so-cool antics and articulations. Oh well. Right now I'm also stuck between joining this really cool sounding fencing class in MidValley and Kendo lessons in PJ. Decisions, decisions! Anyone got any opinions? I KNOW I really want to do fencing (been waiting for ages) but Kendo sounds fun, too. Maybe they'll even help get rid of the extra fattage I'm carrying around, heheh.

Aiiight. Till then, take care and remember to catch American Idol tonight!
Word (or as they say in the UK: standard).


Monday, February 23

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! Sex And The City Finale!

Okay, you people are really going to hate me. Thanks to this news-break from Yahoo! the world now knows the final fate of our favourite New Yorker Ms Carrie Bradshaw and her crew. Yup (as I always expected she would), she ends up with the mysterious Mr Big in the end. I can't tell you all exactly why this brings a smile to my face (since it would be weird, but I'll just tell you it involves artists) but I'll say it's a fitting end to the series as Big comes to her rescue (yet again!) and we finally learn his first name. Nah, I won't tell you here. Go and read the article yourselves. You'll also find out what happens to Sam, Miranda and Charlotte.

In a way, this news IS a bit disheartening. SATC has provided hours and hours of titillation, entertainment and education (in no way a small feat!) and I really am going to miss it. Still, executives say there might be a movie to tie up other loose ends and that can only be a good thing (if done right). So, while we're all waiting breathlessly for the DVDs to come in (I know I will) we'll just have to content ourselves with the thought that for all her trials and tribulations, Carrie finally finds her niche (and love!) in life. And if ever-problematic Carrie Bradshaw can, perhaps there's still hope yet for us other Singletons in the world.

Now if only our friendly neigbourhood pirates will get the rest of the seasons here ASAP!


New! Ju-On 2 Review!

I didn't plan to catch Shimizu's latest this early. But finding myself done with errands late this afternoon and absolutely trying not to spend more money on Taiko-no-tatsujin (more on that later) myself, my brother and my sister decided to give Ju-On 2 a viewing at Summit. I'd have to say it was one of the best RM 10 I've ever spent, as a horror geek.

Ju-On 2 continues the story (if you can call it that) set by the first instalment. For the uninitiated, Ju-On refers to the curse of a person who dies in a fit of rage. The curse will survive in the place where the person lived and will destroy anyone who comes into contact with it. Apparently this is the fourth instalment (but only the second film version) of the series in Japan, and director Takashi Shimizu shows his grasp of the material here. The curse of the haunted house is alive and well, with its first victims taken barely 10 minutes into the movie. This time the story revolves around a TV crew investigating the house, an actress involved in the making and also a schoolgirl that (I think) was involved starting from the first one.

Shimizu maintains his trademark "episodic" viewpoint while screwing with the viewer's sense of direction, time and place. Any attempt to pin the narrative flow early on only creates more confusion as layer by layer the extent (and to a certain degree) ultimate purpose of Kayako's curse is revealed. Four outings have definitely matured his sense of what's frightening, since the scares come at you hard and fast and you never can guess where the next one's going to come from. No, let me rephrase that. You KNOW something bad's going to happen, but you'll try and keep your eyes on every corner of the screen, hoping you'll see it before the victims do. And that is something you'll often do too late.

Admittedly, there are some flaws in his otherwise excellent execution. Viewers unfamiliar with the mythos and flow of the previous movie will feel slightly lost here, since he wastes no time with introductions but lets the story tell itself. Also, nearing the climax, some elements jar too much that we're left scratching our heads (while one hand covers our eyes, of course). And what IMHO constitutes the biggest weakness is perhaps his frequent use of POV shots (these are shots that are supposed to be from the Point of View of the ghostie) and some special effects glitches. But then again I'm nitpicking. These little blemishes should NOT stop any fan of horror cinema from watching this one. Please.

At the end of the day, Ju-On 2 accomplishes what it sets out to do: tell a story, and frighten people at the same time. I won't spoil any of the wonderful surprises for you, but suffice to say after watching this one, you'll think twice about driving home at night alone, and oh, (for those of you living in apartments) you really sure you want to know what that noise on the other side of the wall is?

Ju-On 2 is currently screening in GSC and TGV theatres, and is rated 18SG. The Ox gives it a 4 out of 5.



Saturday, February 21

Do You Poly?

I'm a polyphonic whore.

Yup, you read that right. I've been spending at least a couple minutes each night converting and tweaking MIDI tunes into SMAF format for my mobile. Ever since I got my new mobile, ringtones have taken on a new significance for me. Whereas previously I couldn't care less what my tone was as long as I could hear it, nowadays it seems I'm aware of every single ringtone that plays around me, down to actively trying to ascertain how many chords a particular ringtone has. Gaaah.

Most recently, I've absolutely loved the fact that I can keep the entire theme for Sex and The City as my ringtone for less than 3KB! (see what I mean when I say I'm a polyphonic whore?). This is weird. Waaay weird. Latest craze in the office is that little tone the girl uses in that new Hotlink ad. Oh well, I may as well enjoy it before my 40-chord phone gets eclipsed by the next big thing. Until then, I'll be hard at work trying to compress Kill Bill's Twisted Nerve into a decent tone.



More Hung Goodness

Right. It seems the world's still not done with Idol-reject William Hung. After getting booted off the show caustically by Judge of Doom Simon Cowell, the bloke seems to have gotten even more fame. Latest news comes courtesy of Yahoo! Some people are just destined for fame, I guess.

Which brings me to my own somewhat "perasan" attempts at singing. The first Kotaraya Karaoke Bash (well the second actually, if you count the one held loong ago last year) ended late this afternoon, and was considered to be a modest success, i.e everyone had fun (or at least seemed to). Attendees included my close friend Jo, Hani, Joliekins, Khalil and also Prema. Not as many as I'd expected, but I'm sure there'll be other KKBs in the future :-). It was exactly what I needed after a long week of dealing with student problems, thesis markings and my attempts at securing a PhD. All in all a nice little Saturday. Now I desperately need some sleep if I'm going to be able to wake up early to beat the jam to MidValley tomorrow. Another edu fair is on, and I want to bring my brother there.

In other news, Ju-on 2 seems to be screening in cinemas already. I may decide to peek. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Friday, February 20

Busy, Busy Bee

Besides being the name of a bookstore I intend to visit someday (wink, wink) these three words describe my day so far. For one, there's the neverending stream of assignments to mark (which I am so lazy to, simply because most of them are copy-and-paste affairs). Serves me right for trying to implement PBL (problem based learning, or somewhat). Secondly, the thesis students I'm supervising are all panicking and have decided to rush and tell me about their respective progress (or lack off).

Thirdly, I'm evaluating my students' video editing projects this afternoon. Add in all the last minute glitches and what not, and I'm sure we'll be in the hall for a couple hours at least. And last but not least, I've been scurrying around drafting a new CV, looking up past transcripts and brushing up on my material for my prospective supervisor. Since I'm hoping to leave by June, that doesn't leave a lot of time to laze around (though I'm tempted to).


So like the white bunny rabbit in Alice, this next few weeks (and months) will be a crazy mish mash of things to do, procrastinating and sundry necessities of life. However, I AM still looking forward to tomorrow's Karaoke. A little crooning is goood for the soul.

Have a good weekend, people.


Thursday, February 19

Is Your Life For Rent?

I'm having a melancholy attack. Driving from a meeting with a friend, this was on the radio: Bright Lights, by Matchbox 20. For an instant, everything blurred and I couldn't see a damn thing. Suddenly it hit me: I was driving home alone after meeting yet another person who surprisingly, is settling down. I have as yet no plans to do any such thing, but then again not having someone is something you never really adjust to. Not for a long while.


Idlan wrote about something I didn't realise I was thinking about until today. As she puts it,

"If my life was for rent, who, in their right mind, would pay?"

Surprisingly, I answered in a comment.

"..we rent them out to the tenants while we wait to give the room out for free."

And so it sat there, looking at me. It occurred to me then that all of us rent out part of our lives to someone/something/somewhen. We go through our lives letting (and sometimes even subletting) all the while hoping that we'll find the tenant to whom we'll charge absolutely nothing at all. And until that day comes, we rent our lives and selves to our work, friends, and various miscellany. We reinvent ourselves continually, all the while convincing ourselves it's the right thing to do, and the change can only do us good. Maybe it's the way you walk. Maybe it's the colour of your hair. Maybe you start to flirt a little bit more, or get aggressive at work. We change our self projections the same way landlords repaint a facade..since it's nothing more than that. We hope that elusive tenant notices our spiffy new coat of paint, or the nice view. Others may tout that their particular lives are built on more stable ground than others.

Whatever we do, we're all landlords, fishing in the biggest, meanest realty market of all: Life.

Maybe, maybe, maybe
You'll find something
That's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You can turn yourself around
And come on home

Bright Lights, Matchbox 20


Wednesday, February 18

...Let's Talk About You And Me...

I have a filthy, filthy mind. No doubt inspired in part by the eerie whistlings of Twisted Nerve from the Kill Bill OST (okay, downloaded) here's the second part of er, Sexually Charged Wednesday. One of my favourite sites has compiled a list of the Top Ten Songs to Make Sweet Love To. I know it's a bit late since V-day's just passed us all, but who says you need to have a special day to get the groove on with your other half (NOW I know why they call it halves!)? The list comes complete with several tips and recommendations on settings, so those of you who are in the habit of er, performing the said ritual will be able to add some more spice to the proceedings.


And oh, for those Singletons out there, do not despair. Scroll down to the end to see a list of the Top Ten Self Love Songs. Hey, even we S-tons need some accompaniment.

That's bloody it. I'm too hormonal for my own good. Gaah.

(Runs off to get yet another cold shower)


Let's Talk About Sex, Bay-beee..

Our desire to file, catalogue and compartmentalise everything has no bounds, apparently. Just when I thought I had the lingo down, another term/label comes up out of the blue to create another sub-group of people: Retrosexuals. Right. Thanks to that scintillating article, we now have a name to give that group of men who behave er..classically (for want of a better term). Think of most of our fathers. They'll be retrosexuals in that classic sense.

Which started me thinking: who the hell decides which group we belong to, how the hell do we know, and more importantly, does it even matter? I remember the days when things were quite clear cut. You could be:

a) Heterosexual
b) Homosexual or even
c) Bisexual

As far as I know, we can't be asexual (at least not yet) simply because of certain restrictions in the plumbing domain. Okay. The first three categories are, as far as most people are concerned quite straightforward. You either like people of the opposite sex, the same sex or even both. Hey, it's a free world. Whatever rocks your particular boat, as long as it's safe.

Now, spurred by various developments in the 21st century, we've added yet another one to the list earlier on: the metrosexuals. Apparently, should you fall into this category, you're a straight guy with the dress sense and aesthetic values of a gay one. You'll take very good care of your appearance, can possibly out-shop some women, and are generally popular with the girls. Ah.

Then there are others who insist that there are two more slightly dissimilar groups: the straight gay men, and the gay straight men. Gay straight men are somewhat like metrosexuals. Okay, so that's one down. As for the straight gay men, apparently they look and act straight, but are actually gay (phew, yeah I'm having problems keeping up as well). Incredible. I didn't know society could evolve so fast.

As for yours truly, I am just confused. Thinking about it, I may have some metrosexual tendencies, but the retro side of me shows up every once in awhile...which makes me a..semi-metro heterosexual with lapses of retrosexuality? Do I now put "other" in drop down boxes, and invent a new acronym for myself? Instead of PLU, do I now put PLM (people like me)?

What? Whaaaaaat? Grah.


Tuesday, February 17

Triple Tuesday Thoughts
Listening to today while driving to work, I was reminded again how much of a sucker I am for happy endings (or beginnings). The Irritators (as I name the two weirdos on air) were interviewing the winners of the Cornetto blind date contest. I guess the contestants got lucky: they actually seemed to like each other even after the unveiling. For this Ox, hopefully they'll stay friends at least. Every little bit of happiness (even if it is contrived) helps me along the day. Hmm. I wonder what this says about me?

Kill Bill. Kill Bill. Oh my God. I finally realised what I've been missing these past few months. I bought the DVD a couple days back and popped it into the player out of curiosity. I must say that it was perhaps one of the best hours spent watching any movie, and I mean ever. Rarely are new films instantly transformed in classics (in my book at least). Kill Bill is one of them. The story's your basic revenge affair, but the way it's told...ah Quentin. 70's camp, anime, his own brand of peculiar dialogue and before I forget, the copious amounts of blood spraying along (some courtesy of GoGo Yubari) instantly makes this one of the best films of the past year. And Sonny Chiba's in it!! *drool*.

Ahem. Anyway, I can't wait for the sequel. Till then, repeat viewings of Uma Thurman cutting off appendages will have to do. Related Trivia: Julie Dreyfuss who plays Sophie was a judge on Iron Chef.

We're inevitably pushed along our lives whether we want to or not. I begin to realise that after all is said and done, there can be no absolute certainty, not about anything. We try and give ourselves hope, create dreams so we can move on. Oftentimes promises turn out for naught and hopes are shattered. The road ahead's scary, since everything feels so rushed. Sometimes I imagine that all I'm going through now is a memory, and that I'm somewhere in the future reminiscing to my grandkids, that I've found what I've been looking for, fought for it and won it.

I'm weird that way. But then, thinking like that gives me hope that maybe I can win, even when it seems so far away.


Monday, February 16

V-Day: Battling the Horde

It's official. I'm ill. Having survived the recent V-day weekend (I use the term survive freely here, folks) I've found that for some inexplicable reason (yes, I know about viruses) I'm coming down with the flu. And it looks bad. All the tell-tale signs are there: general malaise (also known as malas), runny nose, itchy throat and slightly higher body temp. Oh great.

Reading PPS these past couple days, it's interesting to see the bazillion types of V-days our people celebrate. Surprisingly, self love isn't as isolated as I thought, which is a good thing (for me at least). Translate that as I'm not feeling too bad about myself (although part of me still wonders if I'd have gotten lucky if I'd went out and gotten myself drunk, or something). As for me, the first part of Saturday was spent battling the Horde Of Mothers. I'd forgotten how scary the Horde can be. For the uninitiated, the Horde refers to that select group of mothers who drag their post-SPM kids to the UPU counter and then yell at them for not knowing what to do. As my brother wanted to buy said forms AND the JPA/MARA scholarship forms, I had to join the throng. And honestly, even Gimli would think twice before throwing himself into that fray. As I tried to patiently wait in line, I couldn't help noticing the expressions on these kids' faces. There was anticipation, but mostly it was that quality I like to call Blurness and perhaps not so surprisingly, utter mortification.

Suddenly I remembered why I opted to do mine alone. The Horde can be relentless. They were pushing and yelling at their kids, the cashier, themselves. I couldn't help but pity the poor kids. Some of the boys were anxious to get home before the girls saw them with their mums, while the girls weren't faring so well either. I finally got my forms and left, breathing a silent thanks to God for giving me enough sense to go early.

Having survived the Horde, I proceeded to go back to my hometown, where I had a little showdown of my own. But that's another story.

Ergh. Headache time. I'll see you later, people. Maybe after a Setamol or three.


Saturday, February 14

Naturally, It's the 14th

Stuck in traffic on the way back from work, I found this tune very entertaining:

I was so high I did not recognize
The fire burning in her eyes
The chaos that controlled my mind
Whispered goodbye and she got on a plane
Never to return again
But always in my heart

This love has taken its toll on me
She said Goodbye too many times before
And her heart is breaking in front of me
I have no choice cause I won't say goodbye anymore

I tried my best to feed her appetite
Keep her coming every night
So hard to keep her satisfied
Kept playing love like it was just a game
Pretending to feel the same
Then turn around and leave again


I'll fix these broken things
Repair your broken wings
And make sure everything's alright
My pressure on your hips
Sinking my fingertips
Into every inch of you
Cause I know that's what you want me to do

Maroon 5, This Love


Friday, February 13

Friday The 13th Redux

Yay! Amidst all the hullaballoo (religious or otherwise) regarding tomorrow, I almost missed on one of my favourite days in the year: today! Home of one of filmdom's most infamous villains, Friday the 13th has a long history stretching back to the days of Christianity (or so they say). Oh well, before some other religious authority announces my impromptu change in religion, let me make myself clear. I enjoy having a day to freak out on and it's got no religious connotations whatsoever for me, okay?. As far back as I can remember, whenever a Friday falls on this date I whip out the vcds or DVDs and prefer for a night of rightfully earned horror.


Besides, as a Singleton, I think I have rightly earned to celebrate my own leetle day when everyone else's feeling all mushy and romantic and hazy. No hard feelings, people. Please, enjoy. And did I tell you that Bridget Jones' Diary is still a hoot to read even after so long (well it was either that or Fanny Hill)? So, in the spirit of things:

Friday 13 February

Weight: Too heavy
Calories: None yet
Alcohol units: None
Number of text messages almost sent: 15

Right. So while self is expecting V-day pain, shall indulge in spot of DVD shopping. Of course, mum expects self back at home on Saturday morning, but rather than being nibbled to death by cats (or Alsatians) shall instead buy v. big collection of totally romantic-less movies and gorge self on Pringles lite while watching. Whoever said technology was evil has not heard of Xbox. Love Bill Gates (wonder if statement sounds horribly homosexual, not that sex life is anything to go by). Maybe will say it out loud to see impact. MMm. Must remember to pack digital photos to show mum. She always gets in such a state when I forget.

Ooh. Am v. hungry, but fear will get bloated and even more ugly. Gah. Wonder how much liposuction will cost.

And with that, have a good weekend, folks.


Thursday, February 12

Today's Episode: Push Here, Dummy, or PhD

I was about to write a DVD review when I realised that there was a whole slew of things I need to be doing instead. Regretfully, this will mean that the review of Onmyoji I've been so excited about sharing with you guys will have to wait. Bah. Anyway, most of those things include necessary items if I'm ever to take off for my PhD. Whoever thought those three little letters would strike so much fear into the heart of a grown man (well as grown as I can get anyway).

Reading about people who've already left and are doing their own doctorates (Idlan's a perfect example here) makes me nervous. Do I have what it takes to do this, especially in the short time frame I've got to make sure everything goes through? Okay, so people say the first thing you do is outline the steps you have to take to get there. Right. So here they are:

1) Come up with proposal/fish around for topics and supervisors in other unis.
2) Get into some sort of agreement with supervisor candidate, leading to offer of admission from university of choice.
3) Get the letter to my uni, and get in line to be interviewed for uni scholarship.
4) Pass interview, and get name listed to be sent to the BTN for Kenegaraan training and exam.
5) Pass that, and maybe you have a shot at leaving.

Right. So it seems okay, with only five steps. So let's see the potential bogholes along the way:

1) As per step 1 above, usually candidates take up to a year to prepare their proposals, involving lots of readings, blah blah. This is because in the normal flow of work, once a person is appointed lecturer, he/she must complete several requirements (taking up to three years) before being able to make the list for overseas doctorates. I have a couple months, since my status as temp lecturer does not accord me certain benefits (that's another longg story) and senior colleagues have a a habit of throwing a lot of stuff my way (also long story). Plus, I DO procrastinate (ARGHH!).

2) The next interview for scholarship is in late March, and requires an offer letter from uni of choice. Trouble is, they're getting stingier and stingier, forcing candidates to seek other methods of financing (external scholarships, etc). SInce I was only appointed temp lecturer recently, this means I've missed several scholarship deadlines. Right.

3) Name list for the BTN has already been sent last week. And because of the National Service, this means less people/facilities are available for BTN training. And they only include you in the list if the uni agrees to sponsor you.

So there, in a not-so-small nutshell is my dilemma. I really would like to know how I'm gonna get myself out of this one. Gah.


Wednesday, February 11

It's That Time Again..

(This post inspired in part by Rudy and Jason Lo's antics on this morning)

So apparently, one of the most important (it depends on how you look at it) days in any couple's life is just around the corner. That's right, V-Day's coming (although I'm sure some men will have since named it D-day). Amazing how time flies, and as usual we can look forward to all manner of promotions, hair raising price hikes and a sudden profusion of red in malls, stores and restaurants, not to mention all sorts of fluffy toys, jewellery and the like.

How frightening it can be. Already some people I know are nervous (mostly men) wondering what to get their other halves, how much money to spend, where to book dinner (if you still haven't by today, you're probably screwed) and how (this is the most difficult one) to properly surprise the partner. Fellow Singletons lament the fact that they'll probably be in front of the telly eating in while attempting not to succumb to the temptation of watching whatever heart rending movie in on show that night. Fellas, do what I do and get mucho DVDs. Preferably action-chop-socky ones. Yet others hate the very concept, remarking again how gullible we are to be fooled by the marketing blitz that hits every February. And then let's not forget those who condemn it as an instrument of the Devil.


Since I am by definition a Singleton, I won't try and advise you people on what to do or not to do. There are as many different relationship types out there as there are stars (okay, I'm exaggerating, but then again don't think it's as easy as the mags want you to think) and as far as I know there's no sure-fire way to make whatever you've planned work. Except that teeny-weeny little thing called effort. In my experience, what dazzles a woman more than the actual cost or size (!) of the thing is the effort taken to procure/present it. It's all in the presentation, some might say. Did you do your homework? Did you notice what she hinted at liking/not liking? There are a dozen different variables for any given moment, but usually it all boils down to the thought, and once again, effort. It's no use getting her that humongous stuffed teddy when a smaller one to wrap up a totally care and fight free night of romance would do just as well. We men sometimes lack imagination, even when we have it in spades. So leave off fantasising over Jordan or Britney for a couple days and put it to good use. And always remember, surprises don't have to be expensive.

There. That's it. I don't know if it's even valid anymore, but it's worth a try. For those of you celebrating, have a good one. For those of you not, have a good weekend. As for me, I'll be in front of the telly, hoping I don't run out of DVDs.



Tuesday, February 10

Keeping Abreast of Things

Okay. So pardon the rude (and somewhat lame) wordplay. The fact of the matter is, this particular headline literally jumped out at me from my Yahoo page.

L O freaking L. Apparently people in the States are more "starchy" about nudity (and this I quote near-verbatim). So in The Land Of The Free, where most things are "Mom and Apple Pie" nudity is still a big no-no, even it if it is unintentional. Score one for the Europeans on that account. Not only do they have a healthier currency, they're also less relaxed about things popping out of clothes (of course this isn't to say Europeans can't be weird. Drop by Germany or better yet, Amsterdam). Hmm. Now don't get me wrong folks. I'm as much a proponent of honest to goodness decency (well, at least most of the time) as the next Joe, and am also a firm believer in the magic of Things Only Half Seen (heheh). It's just that you would expect stories like this to pop up (ahem) in the Weekly World News or some such tabloid.

On the other hand, it also strikes me as being hilarious that the Americans like to think of themselves as still being "homegrown" Puritans. In a word: wholesome. Talk about self delusional. Of course, what else would you expect when even the President miraculously falls asleep before the magic moment (referring to Janet here) on the SuperBowl. Such happenings must be an Act of God indeed. Perhaps we can sell this pitch for a new reality-show to the major networks and call it American Life. Oh well. As for me, this just reinforces my belief that the US is undoubtedly the entertainment capital of the world. Abso-freakin-lutely.

Ahem. Right about now, though, I'll see if I can get to watch Jordan getting loose in Australia. Have a good one folks, and don't forget to watch American Idol!


Monday, February 9

Monday Blog: A Soliluquy in Three Parts

Part One:
Inevitably, it's Monday.

So after all the "excitement" of the past two and a half months, it's back to the routine with an additional time-based task: getting a place in the uni I'm aiming for (which seems impossible given that noone ever answers their email there). Things are moving very quickly, and there's nothing quite like a death in the family to make a person all somber and reflective. Or make that same person purchase without a doubt what may be the worst movie ever made (more on this later). As I sit down behind my desk this week, I realise that events are taking place all over beyond my control, and I'll REALLY need to work fast. It's really been a crazy couple of months for the Ox, and as per Murphy's Law, it can only get crazier. My Uni's recently made it EVEN more difficult to go abroad, so much so several of my colleagues have opted to do their doctorates locally. Oh My God. I'm really scared.

Part Two:
I definitely need to go to Japan. Pronto.

Walking with my brother in the Japan Edu Fair at MVEC yesterday morning, I felt like I'd been caught in a time-warp of some kind. There weren't THAT many people around, but all the same there was this palpable charge in the air, of expectation and excitement. I saw families and students on their own booth-jumping, asking questions of the always-so-smartly dressed Japanese representatives. For a moment I wanted to go so bad, too. That's it, boys and girls, I've been bit by the official travel bug.

Now I know I really want to make it to Akihabara, so that's another thing on my to-do list.

Part Three:
There are times when a movie is so bad, it becomes good. House of The Dead is not such a movie. If ever in my life I pleaded for a movie to end, it was when me and my brother sat down to watch this one. After the funeral that Saturday we decided we needed to cheer ourselves up. A zombie gore-fest based on a video game should provide at least SOME comic relief, we thought. We were dead wrong. From the opening credits, to the cheesy oh-this-is-a-scary-moment music to the acting that makes a plank look like Robert Redford, this is one licensed flick that deserves to bomb. To make a long story short, here's a sampling of the "fun" to be had:

1) Within the first two minutes, there is a boob shot. It multiplies by a factor of at least three in the next five.
2) Victims one and two are killed in the first few minutes of the movie after going skinny-dipping at the beach. Oookay.
3) The only asian girl, named "liberty" knows kung-fu. Don't ask me how or why.
4) Every late twenties "teen" in the movie knows how to shoot multiple weapons effectively.
5) The director saw fit to include in-game footage every few minutes as a transition effect (what, run out of star wipes?)
6) Bullet time. If done well, not too bad. But seriously, bad Bullet Time just sucks.

There's more, but I'll save it for later. Well I'll be off now, people. Take care.


Saturday, February 7

Sensory Overload

Two people left my life today.

One for good and the other, well till I can get her back. My grandmother passed away this afternoon, and the love of my life flew away at the same time. It's been a tough day for the Ox. I guess I'm still in a daze, after going to see my grandma's body (and funeral rites are tomorrow) and sending the other one 10 000 km away.

I'll be honest, though. I regret not being able to be closer to my grandmother (or Uwan) during her last days, but that was mostly my fault. As I sat in the circle of relatives just now I realised I hardly knew any of them. My mouth went through the recitations of the Qur'an but at the same time I was far away. I was angry at myself, mostly because I didn't feel anything. No sense of sadness, no shock, nothing. Just a terrible emptiness that somehow rendered me useless. My father came with my siblings, and I was once again reminded how much I try to emulate his sense of responsibility as the firstborn. He came in, quietly kissed Uwan's forehead and sat by her body while we all recited the Qur'an. I wished so much I could comfort him somehow, but my relationship with him has always been formal. I know I'll have to try, especially if I DO leave this year.

As for the other girl in my life, I guess the time's not far away until I have to make up my mind what to do with the feelings I have. I could of course forget the whole thing or I could just give it one more try (in addition to getting a kick-ass PhD of course). Try as I might, I can't shake the feeling that if I don't this one last time, I'll always kick myself in the arse for not trying. And I don't think I can live like that. So we'll see, and I'll work at it. Maybe I can win her back, or maybe not. Smells like another adventure..

Airports are evil, and good. They're good for bringing back loved ones, and hugs and everything you miss. They're evil because they send the ones you love away. As I hugged her one last time all I could think of was how much I missed her already. The ball's in my court, like it or not.

I'll be getting to sleep now, friends. It's just been a long, long day...and I hate to be up alone.



Wednesday, February 4

Introducing Average Ox

It's Wednesday morning, I'm wide awake in front of the phospor well with light falling on a Paul Coelho novel. The night's eerily calm, something I wish was reflected in myself right now.

It's a month plus into the new year and I've just realised I'm starting to leave the mid-20s bracket I've so comfortably put myself in. Brrrr. May this year will see me turning 20 bloody six, and frankly I'm not sure if I'm at all ready. I once imagined that by the age of 24, I'd have at least some semblance of how I want my life to be. Man, was I wrong. It gets to you sometimes, reading all these mags with these stunning "eligible bachelors" in them not only looking (damn) good, but also with awesome careers to boot. Toss in the fact that they seem to be enjoying life to the fullest (not to mention attached or dating, regardless of orientation) and you've got a seriously worried Average Ox on your hands.

So yeah. You start the whole "New You" campaign. You (try to) lose some weight, expand your wardrobe, even learn previously impossible skills (like flirting, for instance) in order to improve your social life. In short, you develop a new persona. I knew it would involve a LOT of work, but boy was I unprepared. And usually in those mags they tend to leave out the problems: personal crises, family/monetary woes, getting your heart broken. Everything seems all hunky-dory fit-piece A into slot B kind of thing, much like an IKEA Billy rack. There's always another side to the coin, and it seems like most of us are living it.

It's a seriously buggered world we live in where quality entertainment is defined by how much we can demean each other, married men flirt consciously (although UN-consciencely) with other women, people lament how difficult it is to find the good men at the same time killing the same off, falling out of love is as easy as slipping off a sock (while getting someone to fall IN love with you is only a little easier than, well, digging the Suez Canal with a teaspoon) and other such phenomena.

Ugh. If I was a woman, I'd probably be pleading PMS. Unfortunately, I'm not, I'm just grumpy. And most of all, scared. There's a little discomfort down south that's worrying me, and I suppose if it persists, I'll have to make that doctor's appointment after all. Then there's all the other things that always try and make me worry about them but tonight I just don't have the bleedin time.

I wish (and there will be some besides God who can fill in the blanks here).
Goodnight, people.


Tuesday, February 3

The Remedy

I have a confession to make. The Ox is slowly devolving into one of those people you read about in the news: a bona fide reality-show watcher. Once proud of the fact that he "only watches The Amazing Race", I've startlingly realised that reality shows (especially good ones) have as much if not more drawing power than a similar episode of Las Muchas Crappas, or any other Uruguay/Paraguay/Argentinian soap our local stations tend to dish out after three in the afternoon.

Case in point: having mistakenly assumed that American Idol would be on last night, I was suddenly greeted by an unfamiliar little programme called The Family on 8tv (which is quite good, IMHO). A reality series with yet another twist in which this time the contestants are all members of the same family, and all of them are after the million dollar reward. Now the show isn't revolutionary in any respect, and the production values can be somewhat iffy as well. However, I now understand the terrible attraction shows like this have on the human psyche. The dynamics of a family undergoing a slow but steady breakdown all the while showing the most horrible greedy behaviour draws us in somewhat: we become some sort of an invisible jury, passing judgements and comments while at the same time breathing huge sighs of relief that it's not us under the limelight. I've been a student of human nature long enough to know that at least for some of us, we like to labour under the impression that we're not as bad as that. On the other hand, we know of course that we only see what the producers want us to see, but we play along because it's always good to find something wrong with someone else. We feel safe. Might it be partly correct to say that in a way contestants in reality shows become our sacrificial scapegoats, per se?

Earlier tonight I finally sat down and watched Akademi Fantasia for the first time ever. I'm thankful now I didn't join the craze. Sitting through those two hours made me think about the gladitorial battles in old Rome: how the lives of the fighters would be decided by the mob. In a crazy way I think that was why the show worked so well in Malaysia. The SMS voters became our mob. In short we had the power to decide the fate of several hopefuls and damn ain't that intoxicating. I know this is old laundry, but the impression I got was this wasn't really about talent. It was instead about who could move the crowd enough to vote for them so they'd last another week. And all the yowling at the end didn't help either. As Daisy wonderfully opines, we need a little more professionalism in our industry.

But then again, I'm little more than a semi-disgruntled viewer. I understand completely that to many people, AF was a wonderful piece of programming. Until I am swayed that way however, I'll stick with Simon, Randy, The Amazing Race and yeah, maybe even the Family.


Monday, February 2

When In Doubt, Buy CDs

Hello again, folks. Looks like I've been on one of those hiatuses (or is it hiatii?) again. Rather refreshing actually, to NOT have to blog every once in awhile. The past few days've passed in a very pleasant blur, and the Ox (while not actually excited about work) is rather looking forward to it.

What he's NOT so excited about is the prospect of a certain person leaving at the end of the week. Oh well. Let's not open that can of worms yet. In any case, there are several lessons the Ox has gleaned from his forays up north (and generally all over the Klang Valley too):

1. The phrase "Original Imitation Copy" can pertain to anything from watches to clothes. Try heading to Petaling Street (the real one, mind you) or Penang (heheh) to hear this magical phrase being spoken in fluent English by our esteemed vendors.

2. Never, ever attempt to get anywhere near Kek Lok Si on a Sunday. Doubly so if it's a public holiday. And once you're there, while enjoying the Assam Laksa, please under no circumstances look around anywhere but in your bowl!

3. Public toilets can surprise you. 'Nuff said.

4. A GBA is the perfect companion to while away those slow moments (waiting etc) you're bound to encounter. I should know. I've had 2 before. Waiting to get my SP soon I hope ;)

5. It is altogether possible for me to get fat. In fact, the process has indeed begun, no doubt hastened by the orgy of eating I've been indulging in throughout the month. I am Not Amused. Action will have to be taken.

6. A quasi-normal existence is still possible even when you're trying hard to woo someone who's going away :-P

Right. Since it's waaaay past me bedtime, I shall refrain from any more ramblings.
At least for tonight.

And er, does anyone else think Giselle so obviously should have been kicked out?

G'night, people. God bless.