Archive for the ‘Significance’ category

And now for something different

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Like everyone, I don’t feel all that patriotic this Merdeka eve. Maybe it’s the son-in-law’s fault. The politicians. The blatant corruption, the subsequent denials when said corruption is uncovered, the attitude that if you say something loud enough and long enough it’ll be true. 2 + 2 = 5! True story.

This isn’t going to be the typical (as expected of someone at my age) bitter, cynical, world-weary message you’ve come to groan and cherish, though. While signs point to a Thailand-sque situation where the unenlightened working-class masses are in full support and the middle-class minority dissent since they know the full picture, I’d like to think we’re better off. Or not.

I don’t watch TV anymore, but I caught the most eye-rolling inducing advertisement today. It’s the one where that Chinese boy in primary school professes his love for his Malay girl friend to the camera with a little prompting off-screen. I personally find the “interracial-marriage cures all racism and evils!” propaganda disgusting, and I thought our dear Yasmin Ahmad could do with a little less self-insertion. Yes, we know you have a Chinese boyfriend. Get over yourself already.

And ending on that note, we all could do with a little less rose-tinted glasses right now. Who really cares about that kid sampling our national anthem (notice, boys and girls, that splicing it to fit into a song is not the same as mocking it)? We’ve got more important things to take note of. Good thing we’re all sitting up and paying attention.

Happy Birthday, Malaysia. I’ve never felt so indifferent about a birthday before — would usually just forget about it or remember it — but you’re getting along in age. It’s time we stepped in and cured your Parkinsons before it gets worse. Happy 50th.

Black holes and revelations

Monday, 9 July 2007

Catharsis at a table: there were four. Then there were three. And then now there were four again. Immediately after Hon Chien pointed out to me how in saying grace, my choice of words, “separated”, seemed fairly odd, but seeing how it was ages since the four of us had sat down at a table together, I thought that barely did justice to it at all. What’s life without a little dramatisation? Not a really colourful one, surely.

It was a guys night out at Sakura Crystal. The much awaited private celebration of Lukas’ 21st. For all its hype and anticipation, at least on my end, what transpired over the table exceeded my expectations. Almost-gossip. Truth. Revelations. Hilarity. Scandal. Precious conversation forever etched in memory. Things said that, as Jon paused to explain in his deadpan manner, would remain within the four walls country. Or planet. Or solar system, even. Is it a good thing that I’ve laughed more in the span of four hours than I have for half a year? I don’t suppose there’s the need to compare.

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iWant… ):

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

After a session of FF7, happened to notice that my feed reader had updated with news about the MacWorld 2007 Keynote. Some Mac-related blog I’d happened to add the other day from WordPress. It’s the latest in technology, quips the site. Something about by-the-minute updates, no refreshing needed. So I clicked on the link — not without some trepidation, because I’d to wake at 9 the next morning — and got sucked into the next two hours of streaming text and pictures.

I don’t really know how to go about this, so I guess pictures (from engadget) will be better.

It's beautiful.

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The other boy wonder

Monday, 18 December 2006

Sis turned 11 on the 15th, three days ago. I keep on thinking, “turned 15 on the 11th”. Not like I’d rather have it that way — she’s growing up so fast that even thinking about the possibility frightens me. Her school doesn’t really allow (bar the gymnasts or being authorized) girls to keep long hair so she’s always shorn it down to a tomboy-ish look, and during the holidays she revels in letting her hair grow. Naturally, she looks more grown-up. What a scary notion.

I got Attica for her. Being at Borders, and Borders, what being so far away, I took my time. Which was all well and good because I managed to stumble upon Eoin Colfer’s latest Artemis Fowl book. Wasn’t really eager about strolling down to the Children’s section to get anything, since I figured, what with Fern being 11 and all, she deserved an “upgrade”, but the shiny cover caught my eye. Realised the last time I read anything by him was a year or so ago, maybe more.

For those who were wondering — Artemis Fowl ranks a close second in my ranking of the five or so relatively famous, worth reading trilogies/quartets/quintets around. The list being, in descending order:

  • Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy
  • Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series
  • Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea quartet
  • C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series (what’s a set of seven?)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

That’s right, I don’t think highly of LOTR. Never have. No, it deserves all the credit heaped on it, all the critical acclaim, the literary merit, the made-up languages — all that jazz. What I don’t really care for is how it doesn’t measure up to its contemporary counterparts anymore. You’ve got to give credit to the man for all that work he put into writing that trilogy we’ve all come to know one way or another, be it from the movies or books, but it’s sad that he’s dead. Elves, dwarves, wizards, magic. Trolls, ghouls, other ghastly creatures. Been there, done that.

Artemis Fowl’s what he might have written were he still alive in this age and time, and if he were a fan of science fiction and detective mysteries. For that’s basically what AF is all about — fantasy with twists. I finally realised why I enjoyed Death Note — the manga, mind you, not the movie — so much while reading the fifth; it was all about the logical deduction plays, the copious amounts of brain and wit mingled together. The active mind-play employed by one, or both main characters, the antagonist and protagonist.

So about the plot, now: imagine a 12 year-old boy genius with all the time and money in the world. Give him a hulking mountain of an accomplished bodyguard, the quintessential father figure. Then take your elves, dwarves, centaurs, faeries, sprites and what have you — have them live underground, in secrecy from humans. Call them The People, and deck them out with the finest technology befitting their “magical” status. Pit said boy genius-bodyguard duo against The People — despite the former’s lack of technology, which isn’t an issue once you realise how brilliant he is — and you’ve got AF. Equal parts fantasy and sci-fi, thriller and mystery. Yet for all the dazzle, the series has heart.

Maybe it’s because Eoin (pronounced Owen, as the blurb on the latest book clarifies) Colfer has hit on that sweet spot. One book averages out at around 350 pages — no Bible-sized novels to trudge through, no unnecessary character bloat and world mechanics taking up the space. The circumstances in each book vary greatly, and the scenarios are highly original thanks to the variables that he throws in — all without hitting the cliché button like some cretins novelists are wont to do. You cheer for the sometimes anti-hero, hiss at the villains, gape at the ever-expanding list of technology that Colfer manages to improvise upon or create with each new novel.

And the latest, fifth one was no exception. Although I have an issue with how the series is heading thanks to the “Surprise ending for the next book!” epilogues that are almost always synonymous with AF, it blurs in comparison with the new and existing characters that populate the world — how they’re fleshed out, their little kinks and quirks colouring the landscape of the novel better than one would expect. And Artemis saves the world yet again.

Of course, the one drawback to this whole thing is that it’s an ongoing series. I’d take Philip Pullman any day, simply because Pullman was smart and kept his world in three books. There’s something to be said about quality beating quantity, and you can’t beat something based around John Milton’s Paradise Lost, among other sources. But that’s a yarn for another time… maybe her 12th birthday.

The process of asking around about what to get for Fern was a tough one, though. Girls I asked all answered “but books are your thing!”, much to my amusement. Yeah, I know my books alright, because they’re either published with the words “Classic” or “Literature” on the cover, or the magic phrases of “Man Booker”, “Pulitzer Prize”, “Nobel Prize for Literature”, things that evidently wouldn’t interest her one bit. Heaven forbid I not know what my sister’s into — C-Pop, comics, the usual fluffy novellas. I wanted something with more lasting value, something that would still be appreciated 10 years later.

Fortunately, all that effort seems to have paid off. A day after, I asked — and she seems to like it a lot.

In Nine Months

Saturday, 16 September 2006

See you then.

The man himself.

I suppose those who aren’t in the know should, so here’s a brief. Strangers, Lukas, who left for Cambridge — technically — today. Lukas, strangers.

It seemed like only yesterday that we were in our school uniforms after school, I think; it would be a Tuesday, or maybe a Wednesday if my memory serves me correctly. We’d meet in the idyll comfort of Jon’s house because you still stayed far away then. And then have Bible Study, and talk. The four of us — your martyred forbearing, Hon Chien’s long-suffering smiles, Jon’s idiosyncratic laughter, and my indulgent firebrand antics.

I have taken the four of us for granted in years. That happens, though, and sooner or later we all stop being ungrateful, or ungranted, if only for such a word. Aside from how I’m going to have to have next to no one with the capacity to debate without losing it like most do, or be one less person to keep immediate (immediate since you’ll hear all about it eventually, there’s the internet for you) records of my accomplishments — I guess you’re irreplaceable.

Have a nice one in Paris; in the meantime I thought the other two guys make a nice gay couple from afar while ordering my dinner, pointing to my seat. They obviously were in denial despite what was said, because this was their reaction- note the hand over shoulder bit.

Gaaaaaaaaaay.

Having you gone would probably be like this wonder of a lychee-lemon-honey drink I had for two-fifty during my meal — the price’s somewhat worth it, even more so when you realise how it helps me appreciate other drinks better; not because they taste any more or less, not because they’re cheaper or more expensive; but because I realised while typing this that I have a sore throat, and that the honey in the drink helped, and that this metaphor is absurd, to say nothing of it still being relevant in an abstract way.

If dispensing bad advice was a felony, then you’d have a spotless record. Thanks for all that. Be well. Oh, and enjoy Fruits Basket.

Awesome drink

Little Deaths

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Steve Irwin died. To a stingray. What a way to go.

And I wasn’t in the know until half an hour from midnight yesterday. It’s a terrible melancholy how other things that were hopeful thoughts at the stroke of midnight — when I was still abroad calling Jon and Lukas wishing them, amidst smses to friends and acquaintances, the best of ‘06 — are dying too. Or have died. Or are dead. Like this year’s New Year’s Resolutions, nestled in the second-last edited entry under Notes in my handphone:

#1 Jamie Cullum, Next Year Baby (over gone and done)
#2 A six-pack. (this is still possible…)
#3 Be more forgiving of people’s flaws. (I only managed a person and still broke #1)
#4 Makeshift / Perfidia (only wrote once in March, but there’s always December)

I wonder how that phantom limb syndrome that amputees experience feels like. It’s been there for so long, so you think it’s going to be there despite waking up to a stump of a limb everyday, and no amount of crying or screaming will bring it back. Pretty much nothing. So they use prosthetics, fake limbs that try to substitute the real thing, but it’s never really the same. Nothing much is.

And there’s the question of anaesthetics — temporary relief is no relief, yet it’s always marketed as the cure to everything. Trying to block out the pain either way’s a Catch 22 that leads to painkiller addiction later, or a process of ameliorating that jars the senses. So both sides of the coin still blow; and then there’s the concept of pain. Pain is a reaction of the senses to other stimuli from external or internal sources, real or conceived, physical or emotional. The next step to eliminating it is either conditioning the senses against it or eliminating the senses altogether… it’s an either/or.

[about ACIDMAN]
Two days or so until Slow Rain is out. I wonder how the single’s going to be like; will it be something along the lines of the balanced, uttermost brilliance that was equal, or the vivid imagery-audio aesthetic of and world? Isotope‘s getting the (second line) treatment, and repeated listening makes me wonder how you can improve on perfection.

ACIDMAN group photo

It still bugs me how I don’t know what I’m singing to, but maybe it’s all for the best. There is no better 3-man band out there.

Protected: The Secret’s In The Telling

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

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