And they ask where all the good students went. Some of the better ones we lose to bad influence and drugs. Others have to give up their education to take care of the family for financial reasons. And yet others we lose in senseless acts of violence. Good, intelligent, hardworking kids. Lost to us forever because sometime somewhere someone took it into their heads that it is perfectly justified in taking another person's life. I'm talking about this, of course. Adding insult to injury this school is one of the top such institutions in the country, perhaps one that may produce the next generation of enlightened Muslim scholars. Sadly, I know better now.
Violent behaviour in hostels is nothing new. Every boarding school will have its own stories of ruthless seniors ragging, bullying and pulling their weight around. This is not to say I condone it, God forbid. I went through some hard knocks of my own in my days while generally staying on good terms with the heavyweights, but not all of my friends were as lucky. Some got beaten up at night for accidentally tackling a senior's leg during a soccer match. Others just because "I don't like your face". What riles me is that (at least as far as I know) this is more of a problem where the student population is predominantly Malay. What disease infests us that we put our rational thinking (and in this case religious education) aside and hurt a person so badly both his kidneys rupture? What kind of a person are you? Do the classes and the teachings mean nothing next to your own insecurity?
As an educator, this saddens me greatly. In my line of work, you learn to appreciate the ones with the "it" factor. They may not be the brightest, but they work damn hard for their results and are usually fine students. They may be quiet, shy and even retiring, but you know when you look at them that there's a spark in there. The world will never know what Mohamad Faris would have contributed, and it is our loss. As usual, I don't expect this to lead anywhere. The hullaballoo will arise, fingers will be pointed, perhaps some sackings done.
And then it's life as normal, until the next kid dies. I can only pray we can find out the root of this and stamp it out. The Malays have enough problems with their cultural identity and achievements without us being named the gangsters and bullies of society. Or is it perhaps that we LIKE it like that, since it affords us the recognition and "glamour" good honest work simply cannot get us?
Go on, harp about your rights and your quotas. Until further notice, I am disgusted.
Tuesday, March 30
DVD Review: Irreversible
Warning: This movie contains ONE very gruesome violent scene, ONE rape scene and several sex scenes. Partial and full frontal nudity (both male and female) should be expected. Heck, it's French.
I can't lie. I feel cheated. Very bloody cheated. I've just spent the better part of 90 minutes alternately being dizzied and making incredulous faces in front of my TV. The reason for all this of course, is what some people have hyped as the sickest (and best example thereof) piece of film they've ever seen: Irreversible.
My response after viewing is this: man am I disappointed. Not even Vincent Cassel (The Crimson Rivers, Les Pacts de Loups) and the always delightful Monica Belucci (Les Pacts de Loups, The Matrix sequels) managed to really carry it off. By now I'm aware that I am deliberately spitting in the face of the legions of fans out there. Well this is only my opinion, and in my opinion this is an art experiment with some violence, sex and lots of shots of male penises.
Irreversible is told backwards, much like the slightly earlier (and to me way better) Memento. There isn't really any way to tell you how the story refolds without giving everything away, and trust me there isn't much to give. Buzz on the internet has focused on two things: the violence and the supposed artsiness of it all.
Well, here's a reality check. There's only TWO scenes of real violence anywhere in the film **SPOILER ALERT**. One involving Vincent Cassel, as his friend bashes in a pimp's face with a fire extinguisher (with quite believable gory results) and the other involving the rape and sodomy of Belucci's character, Alex. Other than that, there's a lot of nudity (gratuitious if you ask me) and not much else. The violence when it comes looks and feels plausible, and the rape scene probably earns its stripes as one of the longest and gut wrenchingly sickest ever put on film (unless you count in rape pornography, which I'll not talk about today). Oh, there's also a long scene in a gay bar, complete with a self-fisting man. The rest of the film is amazingly humdrum, and after the first 30 minutes you begin to wonder if it'll end, not how it begins.
And now for the artsiness. I'm no great student of the arts, so forgive me my untutored impressions. Telling a story backwards is no easy feat. The director Gaspar Noe makes use of a mind numbingly strenous camera technique as transitions, and after a while you just end up feeling dizzy. Yes, by the end of it you realise that the sunny "ending" is actually the beginning, and the horrifying fate that befalls Alex is a descent into nightmare. Even the tonality of the colours used are so evidently significant. The latter part of the film is in pastel and floral shades, while in the final "beginning" everything is in red and black and orange. As always Cassel and Belucci are more than adequate in their roles, with their passion and emotion very evident and very real. There is also a vast amount of affection/emotion going between the three primary characters (Pierre, played by Albert Dupontel is the third) as Alex's old flame also becomes embroiled in the chaos. Dupontel's main role is unclear at first but as the film progresses you realise that Marcus' (Cassel) character, for all his blustering and anger at the assault on Alex is but a shade of that of Dupontel's. At the end of the day Pierre finally vents his frustrations (caused by his previous break up with Alex) and is the real hero of the tale.
As a film, Irreversible is a slightly pretentious but worthwhile addition to any shock cinema fan. The violence (when it DOES happen) is disturbing, and one can actually feel the difference between the beginning and end. This is perhaps the first time I've actually compared an American film more favourably than a French one! However I have a feeling the director slightly overreached himself on this baby. The narrative could have been tighter, the camera angles not TOO experimental, and the pacing fixed. Perhaps my sister summed it up best:
"It's like having a friend tell you he was in an accident today, but before that he was at the mamak, and he was...."
Tomorrow: Dawn of The Dead (1978) Review
The Ox gives Irreversible a 3 out of 5.
Monday, March 29
So How Much Is Enough?
I'm slightly pissed. I work in the IT faculty at a local university, and for the past four days we've had no internet access. Go figure. However, this is not today's story. Today's story is somewhat different.
A close colleague of mine asked me over lunch this afternoon (while we were finishing our drinks): How much money is enough? The answer that unconsciously leapt to my mouth was the standard "for us, there can never be enough." I stopped myself in time though, and only told him "enough is different to different people". That set me to thinking the rest of the day. I saw why he was asking me that particular question. He's one of the youngest children out of 9 siblings, and he's struggling to survive with his meager pay when other people his age are getting paid almost treble every month. In a sense, I know exactly how he feels, since I was in that same spot before, and it gets to you, too much sometimes.
Exactly how much money would be enough? I have colleagues who though they hold high posts in the hierarchy still have to scrimp and save for a family trip to Langkawi. Someone once told me that having three million dollars in the bank would be enough. Some other people I know spend their money like water, going on shopping sprees every other day and indulging in lunches/dinners at places I know would severely dent my bank balance. Others still have mysterious sugar mommies/daddies who indulge their every whim and fancy. And then there are those born into wealth, who I'd like to call the ones with "old money".
Unfortunately I belong to neither of the above. Like my colleague, I'm working my arse off just to stay afloat. The sad truth is academia in Malaysia is largely a reward-free job both financially and psychologically, which explains why so few ever actually apply. Even the ones who do sometimes do it for reasons other than a passion for teaching/research. They live near campus, lead simple lives and are generally content. Sometimes I wish I could be like them. Sometimes I think maybe they know how much is enough. As I thought about my friend's question, I felt that I needed to define when it would be enough for me.
Of course, I'm living in Subang halfway supporting my sister. That in itself drains a lot, what with the bills and surprise expenditures (my crazy car for one). So until I figure that out (or at least make more than I do right now) all I can do is rely on old fashioned discipline. I try to limit my jaunts to Coffee Bean/Starbucks to twice a month, I buy a new piece of clothing once a month, a new book that's NOT from Pay Less Books in Carrefour once a month..ONE good dinner every two weeks..you get the picture. I DO get envious of other people who don't have to be as frugal (and this happens more often than you think), and sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I was the millionaire's son, royalty or born with a silver spoon between my Ox teeth. Often I'd stop and look at the people in the Golden Triangle or in my neighbourhood and for a short while wish I had just that little bit extra for that book, or that tantalising lunch at that restaurant.
But then I think again and I decide that if that were the case, I'd be a totally different person with totally different views and values. Maybe I won't feel as passionate about some things. I'd never know what it felt to ask the neigbours for some rice or flour, or do extra work for other students to save enough to augment my student loan. I don't know. Granted, we could always use more money, but I've accepted that we all have different lots in our lives, and it looks like this Ox has to end up being self made. Perhaps then, I'll get the answer to what constitutes enough in our lives.
And along the way, maybe I'll learn some more about where I'm going. Hmm.
...and yet after all that, I'm just glad I survived another weekend. There is always something amazing to discover about the human condition. In a heartbeat things change, realities mutate and someone's whole existence can be expanded beyond reckoning or shrunk to be as significant as a gnat's egg. The Ox and I we have a long way to go. That ray of sunshine may still be bloody elusive, but all in all I was happily occupied (except for slight recent mishap) and am anxiously looking forward to this weekend.
Now if I can only skip the rest of this week. Have a good one, people..and God bless.
Video Games Inside: Solutions to Rainy Days?
As of the time of writing, I have only been at home for about an hour or so after an intense 7 hour marathon in front of the telly playing multiplayer Champions Of Norrath: Realms of Everquest on the PS2 at Jo's apartment. Having woken up early today (since I was tasked with delivering a PC to the owner in the morning) I met up with Jo and Lia, had brunch and proceeded to spend the rest of the muggy day adventuring in videogame land (and Lia took part, this time as the Dark Elf warrior).
By this time a lot of you will have realised that I love my video/computer games. No matter how much I try to set myself against being biased towards a particular platform, as of late I'm finding myself drawn more and more towards console gaming. And before the flames start pouring in, I'd just like to tell all those PC gamers out there that yes, PC gaming (especially multiplayer) is probably the wave of the future, and that the crop of games that are starting to ship this quarter are truly what the until-now ailing platform needs to revive itself. I've personally tested Far Cry and Unreal Tournament 2004, both what could be THE most anticipated releases of the year (although their minimum requirements far exceeds what my brontosaurus of a PC could possibly achieve) and found that they have the promise and expandability to make PC gaming universally cool again.
That being said, personally I just think that for face to face human interaction in gaming, nothing can quite beat the multiplayer capabilities of a game console. Any gamer worth his salt would remember that intense feeling of exultation when he/she beat that pesky lil kid at Street Fighter/Tekken/Mortal Kombat/(insert game franchise here) in the arcades, that shocked look of defeat on your opponent's face, and the knowledge that you owned that person in one of the most intimate ways ever. Heck, about 12 years ago one of my first memories of multiplayer gaming on the PC was of my brother sitting next to me pressing the space bar as I maneouvered the ship in Xenon 2: Megablast. That trend continued when we got our first consoles, him and me blasting God knows what to who knows where in too many coop games to remember. As PC games evolved, he would still be sitting next to me as I played Doom, Wolfenstein, Rise of The Triads etc as my navigator, marking powerup spots and locked doors. Same thing happened on the consoles, as the hours upon hours of time spent trying to beat Super Contra and Silkworm could attest to.
So what's the point? The point is that like it or not, for face to face human interaction, nothing beats a multiplayer session on a console system. Whether it's beating the crap out of each other in Tekken or watching each others' backs in Baldur's Gate or Halo, the console experience gives you something no voice chat technology can: actually see your opponents'/partners' faces and reactions. Sure it's fun trash talking some guy all the way in the Ukraine or giving out orders to your teammates halfway around the world but sometimes it's just the best to simply be able to say " You Suck!" or "Good shot, man!" to a buddy next to you (with online capabilities built into consoles these days, there's always an option). Even developers have taken notice. Peripherals for consoles seem to be geared more towards a shared gaming experience than those for the PC. Look at the options: the maracas for Samba de Amigo, DDR's dance mats, Taiko no Tatsujin's drum controller and most recently Sony's Eye Toy and mic combo for Karaoke Revolution. There's a multitap for connecting more than 2 controllers to the PS2 and the Xbox ships with FOUR controller ports. More and more games are starting to ship with multiplayer coop or similar features available straight out of the box. I don't know what the pros say, but it looks to this gamer that spending a night in with the games console is not a long way from being accepted as normal.
Which brings me to today. As Agent_Smith the barbarian warrior, Liarr the Elf and Leglolas the Ranger retired for the day, the human players realised it'd been some time since we'd had so much fun. There were shrieks and screams (especially during the fight with the Big Spider Momma) and the haggling over items, but we all conceded that it was bloody fun.
Bloody fun indeed.
Saturday, March 27
Feel Good Weekend?
So while some of Malaysia's more celebrated bloggers had dinner and drinks in Alexis, the Ox had himself a pleasant little chat with a reader, and also made a new friend (yay!). Turns out a long time reader of mine decided she was interested in a little meetup over coffee, and thanks to a mutual friend it turned out to be very enjoyable indeed. Not only do I now have a fellow horror movie fan, but a good conversationist (and listener) to boot.
I still find it amazing how things work in the world. I swear I have never had anyone listen to me talk non stop like she did in a long time, and I know how much of an earful I can be. But at the end of the day, I'm just glad to have made another friend, since expanding the social circle is always good, especially for this lummox.
So right now as I'm preparing for bed after an intense gaming session (details later) I feel a pleasant little buzz in my head that makes me feel it may be a good weekend after all. I've got several plans lined up (including a tentative visit from me mum, ouch) and I think I'll just ride the wave for as long as it lasts.
Erm, good morning, folks. Enjoy the weekend, and as always:
If you can't be good....
Thursday, March 25
I'll Pass On The Foot(y) Please
My friends, here is yet another in my long series of public internet confessions.
My name is Ash.
I'm not a footy fan.
Not to say that I don't like the game. I happen to think it's truly one of the most international sports in the world and that it is a beautiful team game. Sadly though, I belong to that shrinking minority that is absolutely clueless about the fan culture surrounding football or any kind of sports for that matter.
I think it's evident enough in just about everything I do. When I get my hands on a newspaper, I don't scro- (ooops!) I mean flip towards the sports section first (in fact, I can count on one hand the times I do that in a month). I start at the beginning, and stop right after the entertainment section. I don't subscribe to the sports channels on Astro unless there's something really good (ie heavyweight boxing match, footy/rugby world cup) and even that is a rarity. I can't make heads or tails out of any discussion involving buyouts, transfers and the like.
Sometimes I wish I could be a part of the worldwide camaraderie. Sometimes I wish I too could say I support some team or other and have the vast historical knowledge that seems to be inherent in every hard core footy fan. Truth is however, I don't.
Which brings me to the question:
Am I a freak? Will other guys not want me to hang around them since I'm not manly enough to be madly in love with football and its players, clubs and statistics? And perhaps more importantly, am I doomed to a life of endless, dateless Singledom because I have broken a cardinal rule of manliness which is a passion for sports? Will girls view me as a weakling for not being able to embrace the culture that is popular sports? Are these questions making sense? Should I stop now?
Wednesday, March 24
Flying Fallopian Tubes
There are days when I am amazed beyond belief at what my students' pens spout. This is one of them. For those of you who're interested (yes, all THREE of you) this semester I taught two subjects: A/V Editing Technologies and Introduction to 3D Modelling. In the course of drafting exam questions for both papers I tried to encompass the syllabus as much as I could in addition to asking questions that would actually make them think. Easier said than done, yes, but the feeling of being totally in control is exhilarating. Anyway, as some of you know I've been engaged in marking the answer sheets for much these past few weeks. Here I share with you some gems that manage to pop up and make my life somewhat more interesting:
(Questions and answers have been translated from the Malay, so forgive any hiccups)
Question: Using a suitable diagram, describe the workings of the human ear and how sound travels to the brain.
Best Answer: "....after entering the ear lobes, the sound then travels through the Fallopio (sic) tube to the eardrum...
Right. Anyone didn't get that? Read that again. I have a feeling I need to examine this student's ears closely. God knows what else she has up there. I wonder though, if it qualifies as harassment, checking her tubes?
Question: Give your opinion on what is the positive and negative aspects of using 3D graphics in the near future.
Majority Answers (and I count at least 60%):
..irresponsible modelers will use their knowledge to design models that are sexy, or wear indecent clothing...
...the sophisticated models may be used in the quote blue movie unquote industry...
...these new models will be so realistic that they can have indecent uses...
Oh my dear God. I have to admit when I designed the question, I didn't expect so many to answer along those lines. As my colleague puts it, "Cikgu kencing berdiri.."
Malay proverb: Teacher pees standing up, kids pee running..
Translation (very rough): What the teacher does, the kids echo better.
So what does that say about what I teach?
Well, back to Comedy Cent- I mean work.
Tuesday, March 23
Work = Bliss?
I can safely say that today has been one of THE most productive days I've had at work in the past 3 months. Since about 9 am I've not even been online (except to log in to the uni system) and instead have been cutting through the piles of answer booklets on my desk like a hot knife through butter. Right now, a few smidgens away from 7.30 pm, I'm tired as hell but relieved at the thought that there's a few more stacks waiting to be done tonight.
You think I'm mad? Perhaps. All I can say is at this moment, my biggest fear will be of running out of things to do once I'm done with this lot. Things didn't use to be this way. I used to dread any form of hard work. I'd once thought that it was one of the many ways God manages to make us humans punish ourselves (a small voice in my head interrupts, saying it still thinks that way). Fast forward a couple years and I seriously think that it's probably the second life saver I've discovered after blogging. Heck, thinking about it, I think it's the first...
The year was 1999. Nearing the end of my final semester at uni, I was struggling to finish my degree thesis/project. Normally, this would not pose a problem. However (as I am now accustomed to) I was reeling after an especially terrible breakup. And I mean really terrible: family hysterics, threats, the whole shebang (full story one of these days, perhaps). My housemates were sympathetic, but they were busy with their work and their love lives as well (most of them are married or will be at the time of writing). So that left little ol' me at home alone most of the time. I weighed my options: I could molder in my defeat, or I could pour out my frustration into my thesis.
No points for guessing which one I chose. I worked on it like a madman, drawing/animating/recording/editing/typing half the day away, with breaks only for lunch and supper. At night I'd go on until the early hours of the morning, after which I'd finally slump on the mattress I had handy on the floor. Around noon, I'd wake up and the cycle would continue. It worked, though. The days passed by in a blur and I hardly had time to think about the hurt or that feeling of loss. I managed to complete the project in time and presented it barely awake. No, the hard work didn't really pay off, but I survived.
Thinking about it now, I realise I withdraw into my job the moment I feel something's bothering me. The thought of having nothing to do scares me like nothing else can. I actually space out my duties to the extent of making sure I'll always have something to do near the deadline, because that's when I do some of best work, under pressure. There is an insane feeling of delight, of aliveness (if there is such a word) and of purpose whenever I'm racing to draft proposals, write lecture material, schedule student evaluations. Purpose. Perhaps that's it.
The Ox can't live without one. He needs an ideal, he needs something to work for. Without it he withers and dries up. So until he finds something better, he'll happily enslave himself to this job, hoping to make a difference while at the same time riding the wave to the next deadline.
And the next one after that.
Riots in Terengganu?
About 11.30 I got a text message telling me there was a riot in K. Terengganu by some Opposition supporters, roughly **1000 of them. Anyone still awake, tune into the news or confirm this in any way. As for me I'm gonna wait for the next news update, roughly at 12.40.
**Update: Just watched the news, and confirmed some unruly behaviour on behalf of the supporters. Ouch. Also verified that number was less that the few thousand previously reported. Good night!
Monday, March 22
Last Post About Sex This Week (Promise!)
I was cleaning out a travel bag today when I found a packet of condoms I have no recollection of ever buying. Even though there was no holiday (why, Pak Lah? Why??) I didn't go to the office. The stacks of student answers arranged on my desk and floor looked at me gleefully, knowing full well that no matter how hard I stared back, they would win.
Buggers. Anyway, back to the condoms. Since I don't really have a sex life (yes, thanks Meesh for pointing that out Saturday) due to my self-enforced Oath of Celibacy (who am I kidding?) I account religiously for any contraceptives that find themselves in my pocket, bag, or hands. Expired condoms are a big no-no, people. Anyway, I thought my brain'd recovered from Saturday's hormone/libido attack when I came across this and more importantly, Sixthseal's excellent guide to HIV testing in Malaysia. To make it a triple whammy, Oprah this morning had an hour put aside solely to discuss the ramifications of sex in the 21st century, complete with young girls and their mothers spilling the beans about their heretofore hidden sex lives. Amazing.
Right. Anyway, said condoms were apparently from the Pink Triangle, which means that I must have been given them sometime in the past. Whatever their origin, it's my opinion (no doubt disagreed with by many) that giving them away is perhaps one of the best things to do in this day and age. Better to be prepared and informed (to me, anyway). Which is why I can't stress enough: go and read Sixthseal's article. Even if you don't really agree/approve of what you find there, at the very least you'll walk away slightly better informed.
So yeah. For the guys, give yourselves 20 seconds to think before doing anything (I know it's difficult, but TRY). How much is that 10 minutes of pleasure worth? Certainly not a lifetime of pain and hurt. Ditto for the girls. Heck, I'm giving myself advice here. Here's where I like to put one of my favourite lines: If you can't be good, be careful. And if you are good (and a virgin) head to Cuba. I hear they have openings for a very special job over there (read: Cohiba).
Have a good (and safe) week, people. Remember: Coitus Interruptus doesn't always work!
Saturday, March 20
Pheromone Chocolate Aphrodisiac
Oh my dear God. Forgive me, for I have sinned. I have sipped of the forbidden nectar of the ancients, and have been fighting off impure thoughts all day. My brain is withering under the assault of the images, oh my dear lord the sensations, those innumerable little pricklies that inundate my nerves with every manner of lewd imagery. And all because of a small porcelain cup in KLCC.
It started innocently enough. A breakfast break at Chocz KLCC. I succumbed to the temptation of the infamous Aztec (Najah, you're evil) while my companion (somewhat a veteran) had herself a dark bitter chocolate drink. When it arrived, I remember looking into the irregularly shaped drinking vessel, wondering if the stories are true: if this is truly one of the strangest, most intriguing drinks man ever invented (for the uninitiated, it is a blend of dark mysterious chocolate, milk and chili powder). A quick stir later and I gingerly took a preliminary sip. No taste explosion, no sudden rocking of the world, at least not initially. As I swallowed, the warm thick liquid coursing down my throat, I was aware of a warm tingling in my mouth. Several sips later it blossomed into a steady warmth at the back of the throat, going down my esophagus.
It is true: the world slowed down. My senses became deafeningly acute, I could hear my heart beat, every word spoken took on extra clarity. It was like being in Bullet Time. I had a distinct sense of my face heating up, and my pulse racing. I lost track of time. I DO remember however, feeling incredibly sleepy. So much so I nearly couldn't drive to GE Mall later. As I floated between the planes of existence, everything took on an incredibly hazy, pleasant sheen. That was just the beginning, I found out.
As of the time of writing, I have only just recovered. Among other effects of this strange brew was, to put it very simply, an insane awareness of how intensely sexually stimulated I was (read: horny). Of course this may have been the result of looking at huge strawberries dipped in chocolate as I drank, but I know something for sure: the Aztec is a dangerous, dangerous thing. That particular feeling only subsided a few minutes ago, leaving me somewhat unfulfilled, wanting more, and craving human contact.
Oh dear. Imagine the myriad possibilities that could arise in foreplay. God save us all. In case anyone is interested, the author is agreeable to be accompanied on further forays to Chocz, KLCC.
Pompadourrrs and Dutch Nurses
Fudge (no points for guessing what I really wanted to say). I just finished writing an unsually cheery review of my evening out at shopping and the movies, but then Streamyx decided to disappear on me, resulting in nothing in my post window. Thank you oh so freakin much (yes yes I know I should have copied and pasted, but hey).
So anyway, before my newfound grumpiness affects me again, let me just reiterate: It was a bloody good evening with good company, a little shopping done and topped off with a movie that just made my day. I managed to go book hunting, with the pleasant result of getting Jennifer Government (damn it's good) and finding another Brit author I'll add to my collection: David Lodge. The bloke writes books about academics and their adventures (most of them carnal). Nice to know even us boring old lecturers can get some if we want, even if it's only in fiction.
We were planning to catch Something's Gotta Give, but to my complete consternation the Malaysian moviegoing public decided to surprise me yet again by completely buying every single ticket to that and Big Fish. Luckily I had my trump card: Ja Zuster Nee Zuster, the Dutch musical I've been aching to watch since last November. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, may end up being one of the best movies nobody has seen this year. It's nothing too ambitious: just a feel good musical tale of a nurse with a heart of gold and her measly landlord. There are elephants, trapeze artists (amazing how I always spell that as artits first, yup I know where MY brain is, do YOU?), singing in the rain and hairdressers with humoungous pompadours. If this sounds even vaguely appealing to any of you, I'd urge you to catch this little comedic gem before it ends its run (which is probably Monday morning).
Right. I even managed to get myself a shirt from Topman, which some of you MAY be able to see me in tomorrow morning, hahah (I wanted to get some more stuff, but my dear wallet was heartbreakingly empty). So with a new shirt, a new book and roughly about 90 minutes of laughter, I can safely say (in my best Simon Cowell impression) that today has been one of the best Fridays I've seen, no doubt about it. What could have been an absolutely horrendous Friday night has been turned into quite the opposite.
It's 1 'o clock on a Saturday morning, and I'm ready to hit the sack with Jennifer. So have yourselves a good weekend, and hopefully most of you'll be sober come Sunday morning. I heard there's a voting thing going on. Some hullaballoo around it (though why it's so beats me). Later!
Friday, March 19
Okay, So It's Over, Geddit?
I give up. Barely one day into my supposed break from blogging, and I find that I don't need it. Not anymore. I feel kinda stupid about announcing to the world about the supposed hiatus and yet not even lasting one day but heck, I don't give a shit. The truth of the matter is, there's nothing to take a break from. The only thing I was trying to run away from was myself.
No amount of soul searching will give me the answers I want. What it does is give me the facts as they are. Admittedly they're not pretty, but if everything was all sweetness and light all the time, I don't think I'd be able to handle it, either. So here it is, folks. The hiatus (or the farce that called itself one) is over. Finito. Done.
The Ox is back online. Not better than ever, not leaner or meaner, but just back. He's not even bitter. What he is, is what he's always been: a sometimes full-of-himself bloke who likes to think he knows something about this loan called life God gave him. Simple as that. There are no profound truths to be found (unless of course you happen to know something I don't) and if it's pearls of wisdom you're after, you're better off plunging your head somewhere into the sea near the coast of Japan. The game plan right now in also quite elementary (not to be confused with alimentary): survive, and make the best of this short ride I can.
So expect the usual angry, sometimes somnolent rants. Expect more reviews of movies sane people would not be paid to watch. Expect long tirades on the nature of love, life (especially as a Singleton) death, sex (or the lack of it) and whatever it is that passes through the grey matter between my ears. Expect stupid opinions on things I have no grasp of (punctuated with the odd burst of vulgarity) and as always, expect that Bovrilesque flavour that the Ox brings.
So welcome, friends and strangers. Dust off your mouse pads and check in with me every day or so. There'll always be something here. It may not be vanilla, but then again, you're not here for that, are you?
I thought not.
Thursday, March 18
Life Saving Badgers
Okay. So I know that technically hiatuses (hiatusii?) are supposed to last longer than one night. But heck, I figure something that brings me THIS much joy should be shared with the world.
It all started with this link. Some have called it an irritating Flash gimmick. Yet others, the ultimate in psychological warfare. Listen to it and let the badgers (and the mushrooms) seep into your soul.
And yes, I have more clips from around the world.
Right. Back to hiatus.
Wednesday, March 17
Hiatus, Again or The Road Ends Here
It's amazing how 24 hours can change everything. Today I laughed, cried, went window shopping, had a long conversation over coffee, came home, and laughed till I cried yet again. It's done. It's over. Finally I have to admit that there is a chapter gone in my life, and I have to do a lot of rethinking. For the next couple of days (at least) the Ox will not be blogging, not until he's sure where he's going. In fact he's not sure if he'll be back at all (trust him to be melodramatic). So for all you folks out there, thanks for dropping by. I can never thank you all enough for sharing and caring, and the pieces of advice and support.
I'll miss you guys. So till we meet again, have a safe week, and God bless all of you.
Where ever you are.
Tuesday, March 16
"Click to Meet Potential Soulmate" - the email subject screams. So what is it about me that lands 20-30 of these mails in my Junk folder every other day (besides the numerous pleas from Nigeria and substances to make my plumbing equine)? Is the internet context-sensitive now? Are my keystrokes statistically significant in a way that shows how absolutely single I am right now? Do my fingerprints get digitised and sent to a great big server where it's decided I'm in sore need of companionship (and money) hence the Soulmate ads and African pen pals?
I wouldn't be surprised if the internet IS context sensitive. Cookies and malicious bits of net code aside, sometimes you begin to wonder if the net hasn't become sentient in the past few years and is now slowly digesting all our information streams and building one big-ass metaserver that envelopes us, and our data. Am I paranoid? I don't think so. I'd gladly be absorbed into the hive brain, if just for the kicks. Right now the net probably knows me better than my own mother (although that can be a good thing..no one should know what I've been typing in search engines).
I remember KaZ blogging about biorythms in a recent post. I think I may even have to have mine scoped out, if only to find something to account for the low motivation, morale and overall endorphin count. Graah. Maybe it's delayed Monday blues, since I escaped mine yesterday. Whatever it is, I hope it passes. I can't feel crummy again. It's too familiar.
I wonder why they never send me "Find Your Perfect Antidepressant!" e-mails.
Monday, March 15
This Is Who I Am (Even When Sick)
ENTP - "Inventor". Enthusiastic interest in everything and always sensitive to possibilities. Non-conformist and innovative. 3.2% of the total population.
Wait: There's More:
ESTP - "Promotor". Action! When present, things begin to happen. Fiercely competitive. Entrepreneur. Often uses shock effect to get attention. Negotiator par excellence. 4.3% of total population.
personality tests by similarminds.com
personality tests by similarminds.com
Thanks to Fische for the link. Anyone hiring?
Calm Before The Storm
Here I was thinking the worst is over. It's only just begun. I'm sick again, bloody high fever. Expect no updates, till I can walk without reeling over. I've got meds, so I shall just stay in bed, read and if I feel like I can, mark exam papers. Yeehaa.
By the way, watched Primal Fear last night before dropping off. Richard Gere's character, objecting to Laura Linney's character asking a policeman what he thought a passage from The Scarlet Letter meant to him:
"He's a policeman, not a calligraphist!"
Linguist maybe, but calligraphist? Damn, Hollywood's dumber than I thought.
Saturday, March 13
Lives Left Behind
Conversations between friends these past few days have started an avalanche in my head, if that's possible. Early this morning as I was waiting for the PAS procession in Bangi to subside on the way to work, it suddenly hit my sleep-deprived head: am I clinging to a life that should be left behind?
Perhaps I am. I've realised that as much as I think I've changed in the past few months, part of me still clings to the old life, and to the hope that maybe it is still within reach. Preconceived notions and beliefs, habits and attitudes. Maybe it's because once you've tasted bliss (for me at least) it's kinda hard to live without it. Maybe it's because we're inherently resistant to change. Someone once asked me, "do you believe in second chances?". In my opinion at least, I think they're bloody common. You hear of people getting second chances all the time. What you rarely hear is of people who get THIRD chances.
They say the third time's the charm, either way. Either you make it on the third try, or you don't. I dunno. Right now I'm just concentrating on shedding my old life, like a snake skin. It was a good one, but I don't think I can live it anymore. There are pieces missing, and it doesn't work like that. If I'm lucky, I may get one of those fabled third tries. If I'm not, well, chalk it up to another lesson in that vast blackboard which is the school of life.
Enjoy the Sunday!
Friday, March 12
PORN: Professional Opinions Really Needed!
Okay. So I admit my Setamol addled brain couldn't really come up with something original and inventive. Pah. Anyway, seeing that a sizeable percentage of you bloggers and readers are professionals (or something like it) I'd like to pose a little question. I'm currently angry at someone, and would like to know if it's justified. Don't hold back, just tell me what you think, okay?
Here's the deal. A month back I was absorbed into a research group for a short term project (I won't bore you with the details). Anyway, since I was busy that time, I couldn't really attend the meetings thus was quite out of the loop for a little while. There are 4 researchers involved in this project: Y, the project leader, S (a female colleague), myself and O (a male colleague). A necessary characteristic of projects like these is that the allocated budget be less than RM 5000 (yeah so ask me again why our research is so crap) and therefore out of that amount, apparently RM 1000 was to be divided among S, O and myself (this I found out later), to purchase equipment such as thumbdrives, etc.
A few weeks ago, after a particularly long presentation session with the students, myself and O bumped into S at the parking lot. She asked us if we were inclined to use our halves of the budget anytime soon. At that time, since I had yet to receive a full briefing on the extent of the project, I tentatively said not yet, but she was free to use hers. Bear in mind that in our (mine and O's) thinking, we'd have no problems even if she exceeded her allocation by a hundred or two since we thought she'd have to justify her usage anyway.
A few days ago I attended a proper meeting for the first time (where S was absent all of a sudden). As Y outlined the scope and methodologies, she also remarked offhandedly that there was still the issue of the RM 1000. Of course, now that I had the full picture I said I'd only be needing about RM 200 to purchase a thumbdrive. Imagine my chagrin when Y informed us that S had already used RM 990 for her own, leaving only RM 10 (up to this day I still have no idea what she used it for).
Which brings us to the question of the day: am I justified to feel somewhat angry, or is this all irrational? I admit I DID imply that I didn't need the money YET, but that was based on incomplete information at the time. I guess what riles me is not that I didn't get to use the RM 200 (I can still afford that). What DOES rile me up is the fact that S took the liberty of using up 99% of the budget without even telling us what she was going to do with it.
So throw me a bone, folks. Tell me what you think. Am I just being a sour puss because I missed out on using the budget, or is this uncomfortable heavy, angry feeling what I'm supposed to feel? The fact that she magically didn't turn up for the meeting didn't sit well with me and O as well. And let's not even get me started on how I had to single-handedly kick-start the bleedin' research (since obviously no one had any idea how to even begin). Bah.
I now await the wisdom of my peers.
Wednesday, March 10
Ugh. Not good. What started off as a mild irrating discomfort between the temples this morning grew into a humongous Mother Of All Headaches that persisted throughout my working day. Managed to at least get some work done before giving up and driving gingerly to home (and dinner). THAT was good, with excellent company and delicious food. Before we were done however, the familiar signs of an uncomfortable cold reared its ugly head, and I drove back to bank in some cheques.
I am DEFINITELY getting sick. So what's a Singleton with no TLC (or the very least someone who has five minutes to fuss over him) to do?
I went over to my friendly neighbourhood Drive-Thru and got myself an Oreo McFlurry.
Good night, folks.
Midweek Movie Madness: Ichi The Killer DVD Review
This is it, folks. Another Miike Takashi DVD review is up. One of THE most prolific Japanese directors of the past decade, Miike seems to know no bounds in his usually over the top depictions of violence and insane narrative styles. Ichi The Killer is almost legendary in the sense there are so many versions of it floating around that it's next to impossible trying to get an uncut copy (much like the cult hit Battle Royale). The version I have for review is (sadly) the Hong Kong category III edit, which though already very gory, leaves out the best (or sickest, depending on your point of view) scenes. Hong Kong category III films are the nation's equivalent to softporn flicks, featuring well known actors and actresses in some of the weirdest roles I've ever seen.
The titular Ichi (played here by Nao Omori) is a repressed, often bullied young man who is traumatised following the memory of witnessing a rape during his high school days. Recruited by the enigmatic Jijii (Shinya Tsukamoto) he is turned into the ultimate killer. The goal: to eradicate a band of Yakuza known as the Anjo clan, with masochist Kakihara (Asano Tadanobu) as the captain. What follows is a descent into gang violence hell, as Ichi wrestles with his own demons while the gang members get offed one by one, and Kakihara resorts to often sadistic methods to find out who Ichi is.
Their meeting in inevitable, as Kakihara and Ichi are perhaps two sides of the same coin. Kakihara is a masochist, who believes pain is the ultimate pleasure (observe how he has slit his face to produce a Joker-esque grin, while using safety pins to hold them together), while Ichi, unaware that he has been manipulated by Jijii turns extremely deadly when he is upset, driven by the intense desire to avenge his perceived hurts by the world, and by his feelings of guilt after witnessing the rape. This is a very, very graphic movie, no doubt about it. There is violent sex, blood and guts are sprayed (literally) everywhere, with decapitations, body halving and even a nipple removal (which was edited from this version). Another interesting scene is one where Kakihara tortures another gang boss by hanging him from hooks on the ceiling, pouring hot oil on his naked back and then piercing him with long steel needles.
Again, this is not for the squeamish. Needless to say, Ichi is a warped journey that ends on a very nihilistic note. Recommended for Miike fans and for the stout of stomach. And no, though I enjoy movies like this, I in no way condone any kind of violence towards men, women or any other life form (except in video games, perhaps). So view this at your own risk, and remember, it's just a movie.
It's a bare bones release, with some trailers and a few cast/director bios and filmographies. Subtitles are generally good with accurate translations. Audio is clear all around and the video is nothing worth shouting at. Fans may want to snap this up while waiting for the uncut version to arrive, but if you're experimental or if you liked Oodishon (Audition) you may want to give it a look.
The Ox gives Ichi The Killer a 3.5 out of 5
Now Where Have I Seen Her Before?
Apparently some people are intrigued by the "intimate" picture I have on my Mobile Pic O The Day image (I even got a phone call asking me about it). Comments ranged from her looking very satisfied to resembling Bjork! As much as I'd like to carry on the charade for a little bit longer, I have to confess that the photo did NOT come from my mobile (although it IS a mobile phone pic).
TV watchers will recognise the girl from that strange Japanese themed Hotlink ad that still runs every once in awhile. A friend MMSed it to me a few days ago and I thought I'd see what people'd say if I posted it. Apparently this is a shot from her pre-Hotlink days (although how my friend got it is beyond me). It's a nice photo to look at, and one DOES begin to wonder what it would be like if...well look at Vlad's comment in my tagboard.
We all wish, don't we? Well, it's the midweek, and expect the aforementioned DVD reviews coming up!
Tuesday, March 9
One Time Only: Election Rant
I guess it was inevitable. After almost everyone's done it, it's my turn. Yup folks, the Ox is actually going to be all serious and stuff and talk about (gasp) the coming elections, and my thoughts on the whole hoo-haa.
Disclaimer: The opinions presented herein are mine and mine only, and have been coloured by the different events that have taken place in my life. Under no circumstances are these to be considered attacks to anyone's beliefs, party ideologies or the like. However, if you still feel like you've been offended in some way (or that I'm wrong, wrong, wrong) leave a comment or click on that nifty little "X" symbol on the upper right.
That said, let's begin. It's going to be no secret that my parents will be voting the opposition all out this year, as they've been doing ever since the whole 1998 shebang (if you have to ask what happened, you're probably worse than I am). I for one, have nothing against that. As far as I'm concerned, better vote for something you believe in rather than what people tell you to. It's all over the place: the banners, the posters, the funny comments and posturings in the papers. Even the blogsphere's gotten all tensed up, with all manner of observations and rants (quite possibly including this one). I see people suddenly walking with a new sense of purpose after spilling out of their respective HQs/action stations/what have you, their faces resolved and grim. If there's ever a time when I feel like the whole nation's on its tiptoes, it's election time.
So what do I have to say about it? Nothing much, actually. Or probably nothing that hasn't been said better by the more astute political observers and activists out there. You see, the Ox is probably typical of the lay voter. I have a general idea of what's going on, and will probably only make my mind up properly as I approach the booth. Right now, I'm probably biased towards casting my vote a certain way (that is, until I get new info that forces me to decide otherwise) and in all probability I'll be sticking with it. Oh I'm aware of the issues all right, I wade neck deep in them whenever I go back to my hometown. And that's probably where this story is going.
Anyone who knows me (or at least who's been reading for any particular length of time) would by now be able to infer that I don't really care where your political allegiance lies (or for that matter, your religious beliefs). Call me naive, but I strictly adhere to the concept that my vote is secret. At the same time, I understand that campaigns have to be run, and promises made. All part of the election process. What I cannot fathom, is the tendency of some people to simply stuff whatever they've been told in their gullets and expect to force the same on others. What I cannot stand is when the issue of who you're voting for gets blown up beyond all comprehension until insults are exchanged, friendships broken and families torn apart (think I'm exaggerating?), not to mention the brainwashing kids have to go through.
Picture this: a 7 year old child spitting loudly whenever he sees a picture of a former leader, or when he appears on the tube. Picture the same kid cursing whenever a police car drives by, referring to them as "dogs". I wonder: does he actually know why he's doing that, other than because his mum told him to? Imagine a family not buying any newspaper other than the "alternative" for 2 years. Imagine siblings suddenly drifting apart leaving their children confused as to what's happening to the family. Blood is thicker than water, you say? Not when election day's coming. Don't like stereotypes? Here's one for you: go to KL and you'll find 9 out of 10 people with pierced navels walking around everywhere. I admit I don't go clubbing much but everywhere? Anyone who's seen this, let me know.
If I sound bitter, it's because I've seen firsthand evidence of all this, and more. I've seen how a small town can have two differing Friday prayer congregations (because one is of course, a govt Imam), faces that don't turn up at kenduris, little children going for Raya celebrations getting asked "Are your parents UMNO people?" followed by harangues (they're kids for God's sake).
So yeah. If by now you're thinking I'm sick of it, you're right. But I don't blame the elections. I don't even blame any particular party. It IS a contest after all. Maybe I just don't like the supporters, or the way the do things (and this applies to both sides). So in about 2 weeks, we'll all be voting. Don't fret about what your friends are going to say, or what your family would think. Cast it for whomever you believe will be doing the job.
Cast it for you.
Monday, March 8
The Truth About Cats and Dogs
Thanks to Minishorts, I have a valuable addition to my blogroll: Dina Zaman's Gongkapas. I like what she said in her latest post, as sort of a conclusion:
"These days, you try to grab love wherever you can, because unlike in our parents' age, love in the 21st century is elusive. Oh you can love a person deeply, but one day you'll realise that love is not enough.."
How unfortunately true (with a caveat later). In that post, Dina discusses the her POV on the intricacies of relationships, and of blurred lines between love and lust, monogamy and infidelity (I avoid the term polygamy since so far, I find it an abhorrent concept). As much as we hate them, affairs DO happen. Sometimes we plan for them consciously but most times (well, as much as people tell me anyway) they just do. An accidental meeting, a mutual friend, drinks after work, comments in a blog..anything can spark one off. All of a sudden it's all new again: the breathless chemistry, the furtive text messages/emails, that knot in the tummy as you breathlessly wait for that elusive call to come, for that day when you can meet. Perhaps that's what drives people to infidelity: that search to feel new and wanted. Maybe we call it sensuality, or passion. Sometimes it's just sex (although how some people manage that without emotional attachment of any sort amazes me, cause after awhile even shared orgasms need something else to make it worthwhile).
I would venture to say that love in our parents' age wasn't easier, or any less elusive. Times were different, and expectations were different. People either fell in love and got married, or were engaged by their parents and married off. There was no such thing as "passion" or "sensuality", well at least not in the terms we use now. When you got married, you were expected to stand with it not for you, but for the family, for the children. Women who bucked the trend were considered unwholesome, and relegated to less tasteful roles in society: the cabaret singer, the single mother. All pariahs (don't believe me, try and watch ANY film made back in those days) but I digress. There was an implied question in Dina's post: women look for romance and chemistry, so what do MEN look for?
Tough one, that. In my opinion, exactly the same thing. A person can love another as much as is humanly possible, but lust over another equally as intensely. For some men, the line between love and lust is as clear as night and day. I've heard stories of men who engage prostitutes night after night and defend their actions by saying "..but it's nothing emotional, it's not like I'm cheating on my wife, I'm a good husband/father..it's just sex..". Others want the thrill of the chase as they see their declining years (once so far off suddenly frightfully close) start to approach. They want to feel young and desirable again. Still others are just bent towards infidelity. These are the ones who whistle at young girls and talk loudly of cleavages and past indiscretions (amongst themselves, since partners must never know).
In the 21st century, the playing field's evened out. Men and women cheat, and perhaps with less reservations. Of course, stereotypes remain: the man is "sowing his wild oats" while the women are almost always sluts and whores. There can be no guarantee that a partner will never cheat (or get tempted to, to answer Minishorts) in any situation. As Dina says, love isn't enough anymore. There needs to be more. Inventiveness, perhaps..to create new passion where it was once dying or nonexistent (this is also tough). Honesty (it is a rare couple indeed that can be totally, brutally honest with one another, even to the extent of "honey, you're just not hitting that spot right"). Or maybe it all boils down to my favourite e-word: Effort.
Passion and chemistry are all well and good, but like anything else, they are not infinite in supply. Their resources within ourselves are limited sorely by the amount of effort we put in. It is grossly unrealistic to imagine that a relationship can survive on passion, sensuality and excitement alone. As I've noted in previous posts, after that bout of I-can't-get-enough-of-you passes, reality sets in and the couple either has to work at it or give up and move on to their next "passionate" encounter.
So yes. I understand the importance of those little gestures, smiles and hugs. I miss a trusting hand in mine. I miss that scent on the pillows. I miss the shared winks and inside jokes. I miss the innuendo in the SMSes and emails. Yes, I DO miss the sensuality, knowing that at least one person thinks you're the sexiest thing on two legs. But I DO know that when (if ever) I next enter a relationship, there'll be more to it than simply feeling those butterflies in the tummy.
Sunday, March 7
Drenched DVD Fest
Fresh out of the interesting dreams I had last night, I managed to sneak in some DVD hunting today (in between catching up on rest and the many many errands). The 3 hour long chat I had with Nick and his cousin on general geek stuff last night really set my brain at work I think. In Summit managed to find copies of not only Ichi The Killer (more on that soon), but also Sharkskin Man and Peach Hip Girl as well as (geeks, gasp now) Cronos! The one and only original cult hit is out on DVD!
Okay. Most of you would be wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Since it's near my bedtime and I can't be arsed to write a proper post (let alone a review) I'll just give out a sneak preview of what's coming in the next few days:
Ichi The Killer DVD Review!
Unfortunately for me, this also proved to be one of the many cut versions of the film circulating in DVD format. Still, harbour no illusions about the level of gore in Takashi Miike's gangster opera. Apparently they only omitted some of the more risque scenes of bloodletting, but a review will be up as soon as I can scrounge the time. This is one SICK film (anyone remember Audition?). Mmmm.
Sharkskin Man and Orange Hip Girl DVD Review!
This unlikely title jumped out at me from the folders, and seeing Tadanobu Asano (also in Ichi) on the cover I took a gamble and bought it. A nice little yakuza/road movie combo that makes for an entertaining afternoon. Reviews later, promise!
Also unfortunate, I ran out of funds thus was unable to secure Guillermo Del Toro's Cronos. Rest assured this will be rectified. Okay boys and girls, the Ox is sleepy and I'll see you all tomorrow! Have a good week!
Missiles In The Sky
Dream update: KL was attacked, and there were missiles exploding. It looked like something out of Band Of Brothers or The Longest Day. There were booms and flashes as what I could only guess were AA batteries pummeled the sky. All of a sudden the city went dark, and I was on the roof of a building. Did I mention there were missiles, too? Going down stairs I knew there would be something more, and there was. The building was already haunted. There was evil in the air, so thick it was choking. It was in the corridors (strangely labeled as such) and the meandering stairways that forced you to go down them but didn't really take you anywhere. I could hear voices as I went down some screaming, others whispering. "This is a crazy dream," I thought, but that didn't allow me the luxury of escape. My dream feet kept on walking, opening every closed door, seeing that brief flash of white on black that could only be (woman, long hair) something bad.
I made it downstairs finally where it was suddenly bright, ghosts were just beyond my field of vision (the walls, they were behind the walls, and behind your eyelids) and two guards were investigating a bag full of horrendous Hawaiian shirts. I couldn't help thinking of Rob Schneider, and then luckily (for me, of course) I woke up.
Man, I need some funding. This would make a kick-ass short.
Saturday, March 6
Nice Saturday. Niiiiice Saturday.
It's 8.00 pm, I'm pooped as hell and taking a breather before going out to have a quiet chat with a newfound friend. Today's been one of the most entertaining Saturdays I've ever had in awhile (yes, I am THAT sad). Starting from my stint today invigilating for my second paper in the morning to the strangely smooth drive I took home, I think it's safe to say it's been a wonderful day, in fact (barring my poor Xbox).
Yes, Gentle Readers. My poor console has taken ill. Something's apparently wrong with the power supply, and I DO hope they fix it by Monday. Am having withdrawal symptoms already. Anyway, my invigilating stint early today was rewarded with Meesh's impromptu blogger meet in Chinoz, KLCC. It was good to see some familiar faces (Meesh, Najah, Hani, KaZ, Vlad) and some new ones (Edrei, ChooKi, The Amazing LowYat.net master). They were there early to enjoy pancakes (the evil people!) and when I got there about an hour and a half later, they were ready to adjourn outside. As with any blogger meet, chaos reigned. I had both halves of my brain working overtime trying to catch up on the geeky side of things (moderated by Fische) and the girly side (moderated by Meesh). Good, good fun. Thanks are in order to the organisers ;)
Next me and Vlad decided to hit Sg Wang. He was bored, and I welcomed the company. Finally managed to get my ailing console to the shop, where they were stumped and promised to let me know by Monday (please God). The odd hour we spent there was quite eventful, and we managed to concoct some weiiird plans (later). Coming back, I jumped into the car and sped home, deciding to try the new Penchala Link (I must say the tunnel is damn cool. Oh man, this is turning into one of those "this is what I did..." posts...Gah).
In any case, I'm reasonably pooped, but am looking forward to meeting Nick Chan tonight. A fellow Star Wars and 80's nostalgia addict, I'm sure a quiet chat over drinks will be just the wind down I need for tonight.
Life may not be perfect, but who's counting? As of this moment, everything's just peachy.
Friday, March 5
Fluid Lenses: The Next Big Thing?
Someone tell me this is not cool. According to a Yahoo! report, Philips has come up with a new technology that enables low end digital camera lenses to not require mechanical parts! Instead, they will rely on a fluid concept that is similar to that of the human eye. If you'd clicked on the link, it'll open the official press release from Philips. Methinks this technology opens up wondrous new possibilities for mobile camera applications. I, for one, am stoked.
Whoever thought electrodes and fluid would help us make mobile camera lenses?
I dunno if anyone of you out there's ever received this before, but I found it freakin' hilarious (maybe cause I think I'm guilty of the same). It's an email containing popular research phrases and their meanings. I'll paste some of the gems here:
"While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions..."
"An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published..."
"These results will be shown in a subsequent report..."
"I might get around to this sometime if I'm pushed."
"It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of the phenomenon occurs..."
"I don't understand it."
Anyone else who thinks this is funny (and would like a copy) lemme know. Don't worry, all mail will be virii and worm-free. Enjoy your Friday!
Thursday, March 4
I remember someone telling me that it's French for cruel stories. Trust them to make something as macabre as that sound good. Anyhow, I'm still reeling this morning. I dreamt I died, last night. And what a ghastly death it was, too. Thank God I still remember the details (I've always been good at that):
I was walking with my brother and sister along this kampung road, with houses on our right and paddy fields opposite. As we walked I distinctly remember an old-style phone booth (the yellow kind) in front of one of the houses. For some reason I knew instinctively that the house that was fast approaching us had something bad in it. So did my siblings. However we couldn't get off the road, for some reason (dreams are like that). As we approached this particular house we could hear yelling and screaming from the inside. It wasn't until we got near it that we realised the screams were directed at me. I thought I was mistaken, but the voice inside (a shrill woman's voice) yelled at me for stopping, and suddenly we all could hear the words: "I'm coming to get you. Don't you dare go away."
So we ran. I remember we ran like the wind, to this other house that strangely looked like a mosque, and there was lots of people inside. We could distinctly feel something behind us, catching up. When I glanced to the side, my siblings were gone and there was this friend of mine that I could swear I never met before (but for some reason I knew he was a friend). We ran toward the door of the mosque/house and just before I touched it I felt something cold come up from behind me, and I fell to the ground. I couldn't move. I remember crying out in frustration, but suddenly no one heard me. I felt myself lifted into the mosque, and I was sobbing and crying "shit not like this" but strangely I felt like there was a thick membrane between me and everyone else. It was then I realised I could look down and see myself stretched out on the floor. I was dead. I yelled, and yelled but no one heard, except my friend who only shook his head softly.
I remember flying around the building, calling out to people, to anyone who would hear me, but everyone was attending to the body: my dead body. Someone who looked like he was in authority seemed angry. Things started spinning, and it got dark.
I woke up. I was shuddering, and didn't dare open my eyes. I forced them to open to slits and fumbled about for my mobile. The time was 2.30 in the morning. I didn't even have the luck to have it been sunrise. Slowly my breathing slowed, and I made my way to the light switch. I was scared.
And I think I still am. I guess reading that horror anthology I bought must've rubbed off. Lucky for me, my sister's Cleo was lying around. A few minutes of celeb gossip (and before that, copious ayat Kursi) I was back to sleep.
Wednesday, March 3
Miaouw And Me
This is Miaouw. He's a stuffed cat-pillow. I got him as a gift recently, and now he spends most of his nights with me. He doesn't really have a choice, actually (although as you can probably see, he tends to look disapprovingly at me). Apparently he comes from a family of pets under the Zense label (I dunno, I don't come up with these things). Seeing that I don't have my live cats with me anymore, Miaouw is a welcome addition to the household, not to mention an absolute nice thing to have near me at night.
Actually, sleep sounds nice about now. C'mon, Miaouw.
In Pursuit of Company: The Ash.ox Story
Okay. So it's a title more worthy of a Sunday afternoon Cinemax matinee. Hey, if you're here, it worked. Anyway, I was just lamenting the current trench my social life has sunk into yesterday when all of a sudden Meesh invites me (okay not just me la, everyone of you bloggers) to a yummy sounding pancake eating fest. With company. Good company. Right, so everyone (well just you) is probably thinking: so what's the catch?
It's on Saturday, breakfast time.
What am I doing then?
Invigilating an exam.
Admittedly, they probably WILL still be there when I arrive (after the prerequisite rushing, of course). However, I'll have missed out on the pancakes and other breakfast goodies (not to mention morning conversation!). This makes for a slightly grumpy Ox. Oh well. I suppose self will have to scramble and whip up something else to make up for.
For those of you about to rock,
I salute you.
Enjoy yourself people, and have a good week!
Tuesday, March 2
Fat Men Jump Off Stage: News At Eleven
I never realised I'd actually cheer to see a grown slightly overweight man do a stage dive in the middle of a rock song. I did, anyway, and man was it good. As I write this entry, the strains of Jack Black's School of Rock band are still in my head, along with the rest of the (dare I say it?) rocking soundtrack.
Every so often comes a wish fulfillment fantasy that doesn't pretend to be anything else. Sometimes, they can be dark (like Willard) and sometimes they can be pink (observe: Legally Blonde). More rarely, they come in an all inclusive feel-good feet tapping combo like the School of Rock. By this time I guess everyone and their pet turtle Harry would've at least heard of the plot: washed out rocker Dewey (Jack Black) teaches a class of snotty prep school kids the art of Rockin' and they go on to win a band contest (yeah, definite Mr Holland's Opus vibes there, only more fun). Typical story for a movie like this. What makes it atypical however, is the delivery.
That's right folks. No amount of character acting can really deliver the passion and love for music that Black's character shows. He sings, he plays, and more importantly, he's real. Having been in a rock band in real life really helped flesh out Dewey's character. There is love for rock, for music and for life. All of which is evident the moment he picks up the guitar. And did I leave out the kids? How could I? From keyboard king Larry to diva Tomika, everyone of these kids don't just act. They also (here it comes again) rock. And they enjoy it, too. Casting did an absolutely bang up job of picking these kids (especially the bassist girl. I have a feeling she'll grow up to be a Christina Ricci of sorts) and it's only right to say that without them, School of Rock would have been just another lame old direct to video flick.
Which brings us to another major star of the show: the music. Much of it is bad-ass old 70s and 80s rock anthems infused with Jack Black. Which works, in the end. Anyone out there holding that Underworld soundtrack? Put it down, and get this one instead. Is it evident yet that I like the movie? I do. And it's rare that a movie like this works on every level. Never work with kids, some Hollywood people say. Happily for Jack Black (and the producers) they'll be laughing at them all the way to the bank.
That was like, awesome, man. What, you're still here? Go get it already.
The Ox gives The School of Rock like a, 4 out of 5. Y' know?