Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Read: Blood Canticle by Anne Rice, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Good Earth by Pearl s. Buck, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, Tales of a Chinese Grandmother by Frances Carpenter,
Reading: Books of Blood by Clive Barker, The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester, The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Favorite song: Mr. Brightside by The Killers
Playing: none (I'm done with Emperor. Most probably will continue with FF7 but still don't have the mood for it yet)
Watching: The Apprentice 2, Grounded for Life, Frasier, CSI, American Idol 4, The Amazing Race 7
*No. of times asked if I have a boyfriend: 2
*No. of times asked when I will get married: 9
*No. of times asked when I will have kids: 1
Note: * Since I started this blog of course. I've been getting these questions lots of times before but you can't honestly believe I would count them, right? I just thought of this lately. It's interesting to know the average number of times a single girl at a marriageable age get that million dollar question. I hope other single bloggers would do the same. Maybe we can write a thesis on it! I also change "ppl" to "times" since one person can ask all three questions.
Other news: The shop I was working in was closed down. Now I'm posted to the head office which is way further than my old place was. *sigh* I need a new job.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
So I would be very grateful if someone can recommend a very good site to download MP3. I don't mind paying.
And while you're at it, know any sites that I can download music video too? and movies maybe?
Friday, March 25, 2005
I was on the floor trying to figure out which book should be kept in a box and which one should remain outside, a very fickle exercise, when I looked up at my window.
Through the panes, I can see a woman but only the back of her head. Her hair was long but not taken care of. It was all tangled and puffy like she hadn't seen a comb for quite some time.
She was slowly but swiftly sweeping the sidewalk. She was swinging the broom back and forth, already in her comfortable rhythm and it puzzled me. She's no one I know. Can she be a new maid? I'm sure she's not a neighbour. What is she doing sweeping my sidewalk?
Suddenly she stopped and turned to look at me. I saw that she has this haggard but serene look as if there's nothing wrong with what she was doing. But I know that something doesn't fit. She doesn't belong here. She's not suppose to do that here at my house.
I went to my mother. She was leaning against my car at the front of the house, probably trying to catch some cool breeze while enjoying some quiet time by herself.
I asked her, "Mak, who's that woman?"
"That woman who's sweeping our sidewalk."
"Where? That woman? I don't know. Let's ask her."
My mum called her and she walked towards us without a doubt or question on her face. All she has was the same haggard but serene look that she gave me earlier. It was like she expected to be called over.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" My mum asked her.
She didn't say anything but her expression changed to one of sadness. Slowly she lifted her hand and touched the back of her neck.
"Why? Anything wrong with your neck?" My mum asked her again.
Again, she didn't say a word, she just turned around.
In such close proximity, we can see what it was that's bothering her. Right at the base of her neck, among those thick messed-up hair, a knife was embedded right up to the hilt.
We were frozen to the spot. We didn't know what to do except watch her as she stood there, one hand drawing apart her hair so as to give us a full unobstructed view to the cause of her sorrow.
Seconds past but it felt like hours to me. The woman was still standing there, her back to us. The way she just stood there, oblivious to the fact that she was scaring the hell out of us, invited this feeling in me. It seemed that she was asking for help.
Like a dream I saw my mother's hand moving closer and closer to the hilt of the knife. Oh my God! Is she going to take it out! I can't look!
I would rather see the darkness behind my eyelid than witness what was happening in front of me.
When I opened my eyes I saw a familiar sight. I saw a towel rack with my towel slung clumsily on it... and my computer... and my bedroom door! Thank God it was a dream!
But knowing it was a dream didn't stop me from reciting a few verses, anything at all that I can remember from the top of my head, to slow down my racing heart.
This was probably the scariest dream that I got involving an unexplained being. My nightmares usually consists of being chased by a meat-eating animal, dunked in a pool full of meat-eating creatures or getting bit by a snake
There's a theory that you would most likely dream about the last thing that crossed your mind before sleep takes over your consciousness. So I thought real hard what could I've been thinking to induce such a frightful dream. I did wash my feet (I think) and I might not have said the doa sebelum tidur (prayer before sleeping) Ahh... it must have been the double dosage of Conan Doyle's supernatural tales and Barker's Books of Blood.
Yeah I brought these two books to bed with me that night. Doyle's stories were not that scary however. They may have been back in the 19th century but for a 21st century reader, they're nothing new. But I can't say the same about Barker, the master of gruesome horror.
I only read the first story to see if it's any good. It's the story from the book title, which is also used to set up the rest of the stories proceeding it. Judging from my unconscious reaction I guess I got what I was looking for.
Does this stop me from taking this book to bed? Heck no! But I do keep Amy Tan and World of Fairy Tales by my bed. Just in case.
A review on Books of Blood
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
The highest spike was when I talked about TAR6 and the one at the far right was for yesterday's post. [Courtesy of StatCounter]
I'm reluctant to admit it but it sure felt good seeing the graph spiked above 100 (Hey! that's good enough for me awright!). So what else can I do but keep talking about tv shows.
And tonight I want to talk about the other tv show I've been watching - American Idol.
I like the new format where they straight away select 24 wannabes to showcase to the public audience for them to vote. It sure saves the audience from watching painful mediocre performances and wasting their phone credits on the ones that may have look good on TV but just a pain to the ears. And just after three weeks we are served with the final 12.
But wait, what's this? Someone's backing out? Damn! He's one of my favorites too. What a loss. But he's quickly replaced by the next best thing, Nikko Smith. Read the whole story here.
I found out a week ago that Nikko is the son of Ozzie Smith, a baseball legend. My twisted mind started reeling and you know what came out? Here's what came out.
Kampung Gal's crazy conspiracy theory:
What if someone casually 'asked' Mario to leave. Mario, realizing that he can never compete with Bo and so cannot be the next American Idol, finds this request more profitable. Citing 'personal reasons' he told the producers that he's qutting the competition. The producers were dumbstruck. They cannot believe that someone would want to give up the chance to be seen by 60 million ppl worlwide and be in a flimsy Ford commercial every week. What can they do? They must have 12 contestants in the finals. If they don't, they have to fill up the extra 3 minutes with a longer version of a flimsy Ford commercial! NOOO!!!!!
So they flip over the rule book looking for solutions and yes! They found it.
Rule 3245 (xxiv) : Forfeiture
In the impossible case of a contestant unwilling to continue with the competition, an eliminated contestant with the highest amount of votes on the day he/she was eliminated will be eligible for the final round. Additional rule for Season 4: The eligibility depends on the gender of the quitting contestant i.e. a male if a male contestant quits and subsequently a female if a female contestants quits.
See also: -
Rule 56 (xxxvi): Gender Equality
Rule 197 (xiv) : Voting methods
Rule 215 (mcmv) : Counting the votes
Rule 848 (i) : Rules of elimination
And what do you know Nikko Smith, son of baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, fits the bill.
Welcome back Nikko!
My theory is strengthen by the fact that even his family was shocked by his decision. They themselves couldn't understand what the 'personal reasons related to the family' were.
Disclaimer: The so-called 'Rules' are a product of Kampung Gal's wild imagination. She hasn't seen the book before and not even sure it existed. It was created just to keep the drama rolling.
---------End of crazy theory---------
But I don't think he will get far and even daddy can do anything to get him back on this time around. However, he still has the various engagements to look forward to, the special appearances, the concerts, the possible record deal. Oh well.
Stupid Mario! Why did you have to back out now? You've been through so much!
So now that Lindsey's out too (no tears from me), we're left with:
Mikalah (Streisand look-a-like and sound-a-like)
Nadia (the femme-bomb!)
Carrie (the blonde country farmgirl)
Jessica (the other blonde)
Vonzell (I don't know how to label her)
Constantine (the very tall rocker)
Nikko (the boy Paula got a big crush on)
Bo (the experienced rocker)
Anwar (the sweet music teacher who could be Paula Abdul's husband)
Anthony (the sweetest whitest boy you'll ever see in the show)
and Scott (the snuggly-wuggly teddy bear)
Kampung Gal predicts:
1) Mikalah will go out tomorrow (even though I adore her)
2) Bo, Anwar, Nadia, Constantine are posssible idol materials and will be in the final 4.
Go Bo Bice!
PS: Who thinks that Paula should just shut up and let Simon talk? Before this I thought it was cute but tonight she was just obnoxious!
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Let's continue the series with Abang Ali. It doesn't really involve any vengeful act but it does make a funny addition to this sombre post.
Getting extra help
Like I mentioned before, Abang Ali has a 'gift' and one day a girl came up to him. She has a crush on this guy but she's too shy to make the first move so she asked for Abang Ali's help. Now Abang Ali is a good guy and he does not use his gifts carelessly but he did help this girl. I don't know what he did exactly but I'm thinking somewhere along the line of making her more noticable and desirable in the guy's eyes. It worked and the girl and guy hooked up.
One fine day, the girl came back to Abang Ali asking for his favors again. It seems that the effect is wearing off and the guy is not devoted to her like he used to. But Abang Ali refused her immediately. The girl didn't give up and pursued him relentlessly, calling him day and night asking him to help her again.
Then one day Abang Ali, not taking it anymore, said to her,
"Saya tau apa yg kamu buat kat rumah laki tu dari 8 pagi sampai 8 malam!"
[I know what you did in that man's house from 8 am to 8pm!]
The girl, shocked with what he said, immediately stopped hounding him.
Ok, if you still don't get it here's what happened. The girl had pre-marital sex with this guy. Abang Ali is known to use the holy words of the Quran so of course the effects got cancelled lor. She knew that Abang Ali knew what she did but I guess she didn't expect him to know the exact time and place of the offense.
That was one good story. I will never forget this and I will tell it to anyone I know and that's why I want to share it with you. Don't expect to get any 'extra' help without doing your part of the bargain ya!
This next story I'm sorry to say hit too close to home. My sister's home to be exact.
Striking unlawful vengeance
My brother-in-law worked at a pharmaceutical company for a few years until a friend asked him to join in a business venture. This was about 12 yrs ago. My BIL agreed and he packed his whole family (my sister and son) to Kelantan. He seems to be doing well and they stayed there for a couple of years.
I guess the business didn't do well and his family moved back to KL and rented the house owned by my parents.
A few years passed and now they have three kids. Suddenly my BIL just can't hold a secure employment anymore. Everything was just not right for him. Until one he didn't work at all. Money becomes tight and he even had to sell his car. My sister stopped working when she got married and so didn't bring in any steady income. But she makes it up with whatever limited skills she has. She did anything and everything like babysitting and sewing just to pull her family through, everyday praying that her husband will have enough sense to start taking responsibility.
It's very hard to raise three kids with no steady income. And I think my parents did help by not demanding the rent and most probably gave them money sometimes. They can't let their grandkids starve for God's sakes! Please take note that I'm not mentioning my BIL's family since their 'presence' were not felt during this period. Just leave it at that.
This goes on for a few years and I can only imagine the weight that my sister (and my parents) had to bear seeing her family like this.
One day, another friend of my BIL came over for a visit bringing someone along with him and they spent the night there. The next day this friend of my BIL's friend came up to my BIL and my sister and said, "There's something wrong with this house". After getting my BIL's permission, he scouted the area and detected that there's something foreign buried in the front lawn and something is smeared all over the pole of the front porch. My sister found out later that one of the materials used was dog's pee. Ugh!
Anyway, the guy managed to clean up everything. Just a few months after that my BIL got hold of a good employment. But then there's the question of who was inconsiderate enough to do such a thing to him and his family.
The answer came pretty easy actually. Because my sister told me that she remembered some time back the driver of my BIL's ex-business partner turned up at their gate. Since it's rude to turn guests away, he was welcomed and he end up spending the night there. He must have did all the horrible deeds, burying the thing and smearing the pole with dog pee, sometime during the night. Must have been his idea of a great gift for the host ha? I guess he acted under the order of his boss but maybe his balls weren't big enough to say no.
These foul things were probably put there to slam shut the pintu rezeki and killed all the prosperity that the family might have. That's why my BIL just can't seem to hold a job. Must have been his ex-partner's way to get back at my BIL for leaving the business. I can't stand this kind of ppl.
"Kalau tak puas hati cakap depan-depan la!" [If something's bothering you, talk face-to-face la!]
Don't be such a coward and send your driver to do the dirty job for you asshole!
I've seen the shows on TV and living in a Malay housing area, I've heard the stories too. But it had never crossed my mind that something like this would happen to a member of my own family. Makes you think what kind of life you'll be having with all these negativity around you.
But I'm not a person who's easily scared. I don't read horror just to close it before it ends. I know there's a risk for a girl to travel anywhere alone but it doesn't stop me from doing anything or going anywhere I like. But I do practice caution and thank God until today I've never had my bag snatched or worst, get killed. Unless, I was killed and this blog is haunted...
Okay that was a bad joke.
But how do you protect yourself against something that you cannot see?
"What can men do against such reckless hate?"
Returning the favor is one good option but then you will just be as bad as them.
"Don't play with pigs. You'll get dirty and they're gonna love it."
I just can't find any definite answer for this question. So for now, the least I can do is pray to God that my family and I are protected against the dark hearts of malicious human beings and the dangerous things that they are capable of.
I can only pray and pray I do.
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Monday, March 21, 2005
It was kind of funny watching last week's episode. After Phil announced what it was they have to do I thought, "Man! I would rather take the penalty than eat pork sausage. I won't care if I'm first or second last!" It was like after swallowing a mere quarter of what they were supposed to eat, the racers have this weird look already. Someone's gonna puke! And there goes half a pound of Alex's stomach content.
Not taking it anymore, Rob decided that taking the 4-hour penalty is better than sitting there stretching his stomach and neck muscle. To guarantee that he won't be last, he persuaded another team to take the penalty as well, not a very difficult thing to do since Deana immediately admitted that she won't be able to eat the 4 pounds of meat even before she sat down. And what do you know he was right and they finish at fifth place out of eight. One point for Rob.
I think that Rob and Amber are totally mistreated by the rest of the teams. From the very first leg all the teams are plotting to ensure the downfall of Rob and Amber be it not sharing info and even yielding them the first chance they get. Come on! Be a sport. It's a competition! Just because they've been on TV before (and thus have more screen time than the rest of them) doesn't mean they don't have the right to win. Like someone said earlier in the race, "It's a good thing that no one can get voted off in this show." Exactly. So anyone who's still in the race deserves to be in the race.
Frankly, I think all this hostility towards them will only fan their desire to win this race. They know that everyone is plotting against them and they will be yielded the next time someone has the chance. So nothing left to do but make sure they are always at the front of the pack so the rest won't have a chance in hell to even exercise the yield on them.
So I guess I'm supporting Rob and Amber this season. I must admit Rob is pretty smart for a construction worker. Yeah, he did kind of blurred the line between winning strategies and loyalty to friends the last time we saw him on TV, but I can tell deep down he's a good guy.
One thing I like about Amber is that she's not whiny, a very rare trait among girlfriends/fiances that I've seen in all seven seasons of The Amazing Race (apart from Kris from AR6 of course). She even kept quiet when Rob stole Debbie and Bianca's cab. Her silence says it all, she didn't approve but she thought it wouldn't cost anyone the race anyway because all the teams ended up waiting for the parking lot to open at 5AM. She doesn't say much throughout the race and the only remarks you can hear from her are words of encouragement to Rob. I think they work well together and this might take them to the final pitstop as winners.
Debbie and Bianca were okay too, apart from their initial stupidity of wanting to discuss about everything and the constant animosity towards Rob and Amber with no apparent reason. They could have been the first all-girl team to win the race. I think Rob knew that Debbie and Bianca are their main competition. He admitted to the camera that they are "tough chicks" and predicted Debbie to finish the Roadblock first instead of Patrick. But they didn't and they were eliminated. I think Rob would be pretty sorry to see them go.
Very exciting season and it's only just the first three episodes.
Go Rob and Amber!
Last month, apart from Charlotte's Web, which I talked about in a previous post, I also read Seasons of Splendour: Tales, Myths and Legends of India, and Tales of a Chinese Grandmother, among others.
Seasons and Tales are filled with folktales from India and China respectively. What I find interesting is that they both incorporate stories with a certain date and celebrations in the year.
It was with this book that I learned the many festivities that Indians celebrates and its significance like the Dussehra (The Festival of Victory) is when they remember how King Ram defeated Ravan, Holi is the festival of spring, and Karvachauth is when wives fast and pray for the long life of their husbands (cue images from Dulhana Dilwale La Jayenge).
I don't really know much of Indian customs and traditions. The ones that I know of are the ones celebrated here (Deepavali and Thaipusam) and those that I saw in Hindi movies. It doesn't help that Bollywood likes to glamorized their movies instead of telling it as it is. That's how I deduced that Holi is a festival for single boys and girls to mingle and throw colored powder to each other if by chance they get to mark their future mates (cue images from Mohabbatein). What I didn't know is it is also the time when ppl would give thanks to the gods for a bountiful harvest. It is also when they build a huge bonfire to remember Holika, even though wicked at first throw herself in a bonfire to save her innocent nephew. Pretty dramatic if you ask me. You never get to see that in Bollywood movies.
All in all this is a very nice book to get an idea of Indian custom. It is well balanced with a mixture of folktales and legends. And the occasional personal sentiments by the author gives you the sense that between all the tales, myths and legends she's also telling you her life story.
The central character, Lao Lao is the head of the large and quite well-off family since her husband died. She's the eldest member and so deserved the highest respect from the whole family. Kind of like Empress Dowager of The Forbidden Palace. I don't know if the stereotype of a matron as a controlling freak and a tyrant is clouding my judgment here but I find it hard to believe the loving and respectful relationship that this family has. She even pass punishments lovingly. Her grandson was asked to pray for forgiveness from the ancestors since he didn't answer when the whole household is looking for him and because he was fighting with his sister, they were 'condemned' to listen to a story of the Kitchen God. No lecture on etiquette, no dissing the parents for raising them badly. Hard to believe.
Well, I learn to ignore this element of the book and concentrate on the stories that the grandmother tells. There are a total of 28 stories ranging from legends of Pan Ku the man who made the world, Gwan Yin the Goddes of Mercy to moral stories in The Wonderful Pear Tree and The Grateful Fox Fairy. There are some good stories like The Mandarin and the Butterflies and The Painted Eyebrow, the latter telling a story why Chinese ladies prefer to paint their eyebrows. A very sweet story actually.
But there are also some unbelieveable stories like The First Emperor's Magic Whip. A legend says "spirits of the mountains themselves helped to roll the stones into their places, and a magic white horse dashed ahead of the wall builders to lay out the way". And the Jade Emperor gave each workman a cord to bind on his wrist so that they can work faster and easier. The Chin Emperor found out about the cord and stole them and braided all of them into a whip. With it he was able to make the rivers stand still, the rocks bleed and continue his ambitious endeavor. The Jade Emperor might as well send a messenger to stop the Emperor in the first place. Unbelieveable.
Another story that kind of tick me off is The Big Feet of Empress Tu Chin. This part of the book started with Yu Lang (the granddaughter) crying in pain because her feet has to be bound. And the grandmother consoled ber by telling the story of Empress Tu Chin. She sleepwalked every night and her husband was concern for her safety. So he decided to cut off eight inches from her twelve-inched feet so that she won't sleepwalk anymore and thus guarantees her safety. At that time big feet was all the rage, so the Empress cried over her ugly small feet. To console her, the emperor ordered every woman in the palace to cut their feet as well and so began the era if small feet. At the end of the story, Yu Lang thanked her grandmother and said, "That is a good story Lao Lao; I have almost forgotten that my poor feet are aching". Unbelieveable.
The fact that one is written by a local and the other by a foreigner might be the reason why I find Seasons more enjoyable than Tales. Tales do have some nicer illustrations but the stories are poorly executed. However this book does not prove that an outsider cannot write about the locals. I've read The Good Earth and I think it's a very good rendition of a Chinaman's life considering Pearl S. Buck is an American. But she has lived there most of her life while Carpenter draws stories from other literary sources. So there's a difference. I guess it is safe to conclude that you must live it to write about it. Must be the reason why most aspiring writers like to live it rough to be inspired (cue images from Moulin Rouge and Try Seventeen).
Which makes me wonder, is my life rough enough? Am I inspired enough? What does it take for me to become a great writer? I want to be immortal! I want my great literary works be praised and admired years after my death! I want a Booker prize! I want a Pulitzer! I want a Nobel Prize! I want it all!!!!
Oh well, I can still dream right?
Friday, March 18, 2005
I think he's brilliant in Punch-Drunk Love and the recent Spanglish. I wish he would take up more dramatic roles but a check at IMDB reveals more comedies.
It's weird if you look at his career path closely. He started with Saturday Night Live where he's famous for his quirky Chanukah and Lunch-Lady songs. Then he move over to films where his roles would usually consists of down-trodden oddman who always gets the last laugh (and the girl!) like The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison. And then you have the occasional cameo appearances in The Animal and The Hot Chick. I don't know what he was thinking when he did Little Nicky. From weird tasteless comedies he suddenly end up in Spanglish.
He went from this
This drama has some funny bits but instead of physical comedy, the comic relief comes from the script which needs proper execution.
I like how the movie played with the various authoritative roles that each character has. Usually it's like mother-husband-wife-kids-maid-maid's daughter. But in this movie it's not really clear who's the actual authority figure in this little household. The mother is an alcoholic, the husband holds high respect for the maid, the wife doesn't really know what she's suppose to do, the children suffocating under the rule of their mother, the maid feels sorry for the kids and the maid's daughter tries to make sense of it all.
In the beginning it was husband-wife-mother-kids-maid-maid's daughter. Then it becomes husband-maid-kids-maid's daugter-wife-mother. There was a time when it was wife-husband-mother-kids-maid's daughter-maid and suddenly it changed into maid-mother-husband-wife-kids-maid's daughter. Just watch it. It's quite a gem.
Forget about Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle or Casablanca. I think 50 First Dates is the most romantic movie I have ever seen. Romantic movies usually involves one party having to sacrifice something to be with the one he/she loves. But in 50 First Dates, Henry Roth has to face the possibility that one day he would lose his mojo and cannot make Lucy fall in love with him again.
You know how men sometimes become less loving after they got the girl? Well Henry won't have a chance in hell to do that. He has to keep the passion alive each and every day to keep her. And he still wants her even though he has the challenging task of winning her heart everyday. If that's not romantic I don't what is.
To conclude, let me say this again - Adam Sandler is one under-rated actor.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
It's quiet but interesting. You kind of have this sense of being in a kampung but still happening enough, for me at least. It's rich with history and culture and thriving with development. It's tradition and modern all roll into one place. Wish I could live there.
During the Chinese New Year holidays back in February, I turned tourist and went there for a visit. Yes, for all those who's been following my blog since January, I took Option 1.
Blur? This is Option 1.
I reached R-Mka's house at about 12:30 pm Thursday. Her parents were not home because they went for Haj but all her siblings were there. We just hang around not knowing what to do since all the interesting places will be close in a few hours and it won't be worth going. Constantine just open that day. Even though I told ST I will see it with her, I just can't wait and ask R-Mka if she wanted to watch the movie. Also a Keanu fan, she agreed.
We ate a late lunch and went to Mahkota Parade. Thankfully there were tickets available. Wow! You can never get tickets on opening day in KL.
After the movie, we took a drive along Jonker Street. We were hoping that someone from the Baba Nyonya House was workaholic enough to open the house to visitors a day after CNY. No luck there. But cruising along Jonker Street with no traffic was such a pleasant experience. Since it was also the CNY season, the whole street was decorated with red lanterns. I wanted to get some photos but we thought we can do this tomorrow after the trip to the zoo.
We got back at about 7pm, took a shower and went out again for a seafood dinner with her family. Got back and with nothing left to do we went to sleep. Boy, did I sleep early that night.
I wanted to go to Zoo Melaka but since we're going to pass Taman Mini Malaysia anyway, might as well go there first. The ticket is a surprising RM10 for adults and an additional RM5 if you're bringing in a camera. I could have snucked in the camera but what the hell, I'll consider it as a donation. I know these places need all the funds they can get.
We walked in with Noraniza Idris' songs blasting through the air. The person who checked us in told us that there's going to be a culture dance show at 3pm and 4pm. Neat. But we wanted to go Zoo Melaka so we may not be able to see it.
The place is quite nice. It showcases traditional houses from 12 states in Malaysia. Check out the photos here. 15 minutes in, we started to enjoy the place so much that we decided to skip Zoo Melaka. You know how hot February was and it was so nice to be there. Cool breeze was blowing all around, the trees were rustling, you get to visit different houses, get to lepak in each and everyone of them. And we can even catch the culture show too.
We were there from 11:30am until the show ends at 4pm. I had a very good time there. I love traditional houses and getting to see all the different variations at one place is remarkable. Not only that, they also extended the place to include a Taman Mini Asean where they showcase different types of houses from the Asean region like Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Filipina.
It was a day well spent. And it is even nicer when you spent it with someone who enjoys the place as much as you did.
The next plan was to take a walk at Jonker Street and see if I can get some good shots there, but we were kind of tired. (God! Are we that old?) So, we went back to R-Mka's house and I took a short *gasp* nap. At about 8pm I head back to KL. Back to the hustle and bustle of the city and to the chaotic atmosphere that is my house.
Spend a night at one of the hotels at Jonker Street and Zoo Melaka.
Monday, March 14, 2005
I've heard so many stories about this kind of thing that I thought I'm going to pull a Hustler and share some of the stories with you. All names have been changed to protect their privacy ya!
Crushing the competition
My friend's aunt is a very good cook and opened her own restaurant. She did very well at first but things started to go downhill from there. It seems that not many customers come to her place anymore. Eventually she has to close the place. After some time she realized why no one came to her shop. Because my friend also told us that she once went to visit her aunt's restaurant but just can't seem to find it. Even after she walked around the area a few times.
What happen to 'healthy competition'? Don't they realize that if you keep doing this your life will never be happy in the end? God works in mysterious ways you know! I bet you the ppl responsible for this is bankrupt with 2 kids in jail for drug charges, a daughter married to an alcoholic who ended up murdering her husband while they themselves are thrown to the streets begging for food at newly opened restaurants!!!!!!!
*Kampung Gal taking deep breath*
Ok. Not good to dwell on negative things. Let's just leave that up to God, shall we? Now let's get to the next story.
Last weekend I went to Ipoh for my friend's wedding. On the way back, the topic of langsuir (female ghost with entrails hanging on to her bodyless head) somehow cropped up among the many things we talked about. Some time ago, someone actually found a lock of very long black hair snagged on his car and this was featured in Misteri Nusantara. Ooooohhh... I'm getting goosebumps. Ok, no more talk on langsuir.
Well, from there, my friend suddenly remembered a story that involved her friend. Let's call this friend of my friend Siti.
Holding a grudge
Siti is a student at a local U and shares an apartment with her college mate (Minah). They took the same course and lived well together. For a while.
Like most responsible roommates they would work together to take care of the apartment and even prepare dinner for each other. One day Siti started throwing up all the food she has eaten, no matter what she ate. But mostly it would be the ones prepared by Minah (you can guess what this is all about la). And now Siti is so miserable, she's sick all the time and it's disturbing her studies.
My friend and this Siti happens to know this guy, Abang Ali. And he's a bit knowledgable about things out of the ordinary. So he prepared some air jampi (blessed water) for Siti to take. After Siti drank the water, she threw up all her contents in her stomach. A bit nasty but at least she was able to empty out any 'alien' content in her body. And with God's grace, she got better after that.
During the weekend, Siti went back to her hometown and visit her grandmother, who also has this 'gift'. Her grandma asked Siti to close her eyes and she said,
"Nampak tak?" [see anything?]
Siti actually saw a vision of Minah but not able to believe she would do such a thing she just said,
"Takde la. Belum lagi." [No. Nothing yet]
"Dah nampak dah tu. Nenek pun boleh nampak." [You've seen her. I can see her also.]
So it's confirmed. Minah was the one causing all this. And her grandma warned her not to eat any more food prepared by Minah.
For Siti's 'therapy', her grandma took an apple and said some enchantment over it. After some time, a white powdery substance would appear and covered the whole apple. My friend told me that the powder cannot be wiped off even if you scrubbed very hard. I don't know how but that's the way she told it to me and that's the way I'm going to tell it to you.
Siti has to take a few apples, about 20 of them. And everytime her grandmother said the chants the white powder will appear and each time some new patterns would form on the apple too. But the powder appeared less and less with time and Siti recovered from this ordeal in the end.
It was not clear why Minah suddenly would do this to Siti. They thought about it and the only reasonable answer was because Siti has changed to another course without telling Minah about it. It seems that this new course is a bit easier than what they were both taking before. So I guess Minah felt betrayed and alone.
I wonder how a girl can do these things over a small matter. Get over it! It's not like Siti is the only student taking that course with her. There must be other students that she can turn to for help in her studies. But I guess with this kind of attitude it's a wonder that she even has friends at all!
They also found out that this Minah has 'saka' in her family. That's why she has the ability to do this kind of thing. As far as I know, 'saka' is an entity that would follow a particular family and will usually hang around with a particular family member in each generation. It usually started when a family member 'acquired' this entity by certain means. A lot of ppl do this in the old days for various reasons, mainly for protection, but more and more family today opt to release it because it can go against Islamic principles.
So the 'saka' was following Minah's father for a generation. And when her father died it was accidently passed to her. You see, her father didn't want to pass it to her because he knew that she will only abuse it. But he didn't perform the proper ritual to release it either before he died. Minah was nearby when he passed away, so not knowing where to go, it got stuck with Minah.
I'm not really clear of what 'saka' really is but it can give the owner certain powers. In Minah's case, she used it to do harm to others, and even get herself a boyfriend. She will just calit (touch) any guy that she wants and he will be her own little puppy dog. And once she's done, that little puppy dog will just be left in the streets, not even considerate enough to send him to the dog pound. This variation of 'love potion' can be pretty dangerous you know. I've heard some ppl can go insane when the one responsible just leave them like that.
Wow, it seems this story is quite long. Not meant to bore you with long post I will stop here. True to Hustler's style I will post the rest of my story with Perils of Men Part II. Stay tune...
Kampung Gal apalogizes to The Hustler for stealing his style.
Friday, March 11, 2005
I'm so happy not just because it took me so long to finish it but I think I found another favorite author. Isn't it wonderful when you find something that you like and knowing that there's more? In this case, you read a book that you enjoyed and find out that the author wrote other books as well.
I wonder why it took me so long considering that I enjoyed it from the beginning. The text is not particularly hard. I mean it was not a heavy drama like A Tale of Two Cities with the French Revolution setting (which I have no idea about). It's a comedy with simple subjects. It's very long with 777 pages of small typeset. But then I picked up The Yearling and I was hooked on that one so the Pickwickians was left at the backseat. After I finished The Yearling I started The Grapes of Wrath because I went to Bali at that time and I didn't want to bring the bulky Pickwick Papers. I picked it up again after I finished the Steinbeck book. And 3 months after I read the first page I reached the last page.
This is the first Dickens that I've read after The Christmas Carol, which I didn't really enjoy. With all the films, cartoons, puppet shows with various adaptations and interpretations, you just begin to not care anymore. So why did I finally read it? It was because I saw this nice illustrated HC edition at a bargain price so I just have to buy it. And since there are some nice pictures inside I might as well read it too.
I bought other Dickens' books after that like A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations but never got around to read them. I bought Great Expectations because I found a nice illustrated HC edition at a bargain price and I just have to buy it (do I sound like a broken record here? So now you know I'm a sucker for illustrated HC classics at bargain price). I bought A Tale of Two Cities because I saw this movie (I can't remember which) where a 15 yr-old black student proved that he has learned how to read by reading this particular book to his teacher. When I heard
It was the best of time, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of encredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness...I just fell in love with it. And lo and behold I went out and bought the book. I got to the end of the first chapter before shelving this one.
So how come The Pickwick Papers interests me enough to make me read it till the end?
I've always love literary works where the author is honest enough to depict his own people in a comic way, kind of like Jane Austen though her comic sense are more subtle.
In The Pickwick Papers we get to see London where the men can be greedy and selfish, the women's lifetime goal is to get a wedding proposal, the children are fat and lazy, and the servants are not always stupid. It's about 4 distinguished gentlemen, lead by the robust and bubbly Mr Pickwick, who are sworn to observe and chronicle any interesting events around them. Their 'interesting' events includes a fight in the street where they meet the ever-charismatic Mr Sam Weller (my favourite character), Mr Pickwick's terrible predicament with his landlady, an elopement, a few misadventures with a Mr Jingle and some other smaller events. Along the way they met some very interesting and memorable characters like Mr Weller (Sam's father), two politicians and two feuding newspaper editors. Well ok, maybe they're not members of some secret society sworn to protect the location of a holy relic or even good looking men who's on the lookout for the love of their lives but with an artist like Charles Dickens behind the pen, anything will be interesting enough.
Even the chapter titles are funny.
- How Mr Winkle, instead of shooting at the Pigeon and killing the Crow, shot at the Crow and wounded the Pigeon
- How Mr Winkle, when he stepped out of the Frying-pan, walked gently and comfortably into the Fire
- Illustrative, like the preceding one, of the old Proverb, that Adversity brings a Man acquainted with strange Bed-fellows. Likewise containing Mr Pickwick's extraordinary and startling announcement to Mr Samuel Weller
- Too full of Adventure to be briefly described
Dickens true depiction of a debtor's prison brought the comic level down a notch. Like life itself, it was not all funny and amusing with this book.
One thing that many new readers would notice about this book is that it is very 'wordy'. It is filled with long sentences making it obvious he was paid by the word. But having read a few English literature I just think it's a common style in the 1800s. Don't you think English ppl in those days do talk on and on over the simplest thing?
One thing I learned from this book is to read the introduction after reading the text. I've tried reading them so many times with other classic literature to sort of prepare myself of what I'm getting into and find out what to look out for. But I always gave up after a few pages. Even though it's called 'Introduction' it is actually more like a critical essay talking about something you haven't delve into. It doesn't help that it usually comes with a smaller typeface than the already small font for the main text.
This time around, I read the Introduction after I finish reading the book and I understood what he was trying to say. I found out that what appeals to me about this book was also the reason why this book got so famous when first published in England. Apparently, the general readers back then were quite taken with Sam Weller too. I find it amazing that a book can bring the same affect to someone half a world away 100 years in the future. One good way to define classic literature.
Malcolm Andrews, the introducer, even shared a story how his grandfather would sit in his rocking chair with a pipe in his hand and this book on his lap. It's very easy to point out the parts that "tickled him", Andrews said. Just find the pages with "powdery gray ash caught in the spine". To know which part he enjoyed more, just compare the size of the ash traces .
I think I'm ready to get me some more Dickens. Maybe I'll start on Great Expectations but wait! I don't know which box this book is in. Maybe I'll go for A Tale of Two Cities then... Hmmm maybe too difficult for current state of mind. That leaves Bleak House... sounds pretty bleak to me... hmmm ok maybe I'll give Dickens a break for now. At least until I can find another of his comedies.
And I apologize for the cheesy title. I can't help it, I just had to do it.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I remember way back then when life was much simpler and when there's nothing wrong with just hanging out with your friends doing nothing but talk about silly things for hours. And one of those silly talks involved what kind of titles we'll be getting when we got older.
"I want to be Datin Siti."
"No la, Puan Sri Aminah lagi best."
"If like that, you have to marry a Datuk or Tan Sri."
"Ok la tu." said Siti and Aminah.
"I'd rather be Dr Kampung Gal or Datuk Dr Kampung Gal and maybe Professor Tan Sri Kampung Gal. Ok tak?"
Ten years passsed and I'm still a long way away to getting that 'Dr' in front of my name, and don't even consider the Datuk or Tan Sri.
Plans didn't work out. My struggle to get an American Degree in Computer Science was left in the dust. And I have to settle with an Australian Business Degree that I got through a twinning program. My marks were not that impressive either. Does it increase my value as a human resource? I don't know yet. I'll just have to see if I can get a better employment with that piece of paper first.
Then my sister walked in and I heard my Dr Cousin said, "Where's the Puan Hajjah?". They hugged and congratulate each other. So there they were, both about the same age, both a mother. But while one pursued a career in education, the other stayed home even though she has a degree from an American university and has a future in banking. And I thought, "Hey, my sister, the housewife, achieved something too."
Which got me thinking.
How do you measure a person's achievement? Isn't the General Manager of ABC Corp as successful as each and everyone of the Ibu Mithali recipients who nurtured and invested their time and money on human commodity instead of property? Does all the Datuks and Tan Sris deserve more recognition than the Teacher of the Year who gave all his energy to ensure the next generation is well -learned? Does Siti Nurhaliza deserves more respect than the people who picked your garbage three times a week so that your house doesn't smell when you're watching Siti on TV?
Well I guess, the answer lies within yourself.
Ok ok that line sounds corny but there's no better way to say it.
It's just like in the last few scenes of LOTR the movie. The four Hobbits, after going through the biggest adventure anyone could have had and completing a mighty quest to vanguish all darkness in Middle Earth, finally returned to the Shire. Was there a hero's welcome? No. They celebrated their first night home at the tavern drinking ale. They have received the highest honor when a king, all his subjects and even the great Elven people bow down to them. But back home, oblivious to what went on in the west, the people of the Shire were more excited with a big pumpkin. But even if they're not appreciated among their own people, these four knew that they have achieved something great and so does the rest of Middle Earth.
As for me, I'm not where I would want to be right now. But what the hell. At least I have a degree and I'm working in an industry that I care about. I'm healthy, I have food in my belly and a roof over my head. What matters now is what I'm going to do with the time I have left. So, I guess that Phd is not so unattainable after all.
As for you, the next time you feel like such a loser, look again. Because what you are is what YOU make of it and don't let anyone say any different.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Vlad: Poor thing get to see Sting's face instead of Keanu's in Hellblazer.
Kampung Gal: You know what? Sting is in my list of hot guys too actually. So I got it good either way.
It got me thinking. Who are the people on my hot guys list anyway? What better way to celebrate International Woman's Day than to list down my favorite guys.
I never think about boys until much later in my teenage years. I don't grow up reading Teeny-Bop, Teens or even URTV. So I don't care much about cute stars either. Most of the time I was just jumping on the bandwagon which I clearly remembered I did with New Kids on the Block.
I was in Form 3 and the kind of music I was listening to was the ones on my sisters' cassettes. It was Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler), Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel), Drive (Cars), Luka (Suzanne Vega), Elton John, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, you know, the basic 80s classics.
So when all the girls were going crazy over NKOTB, I hopped, skipped and jumped on the bandwagon too and bought their casettes. Well, at least they were not that bad, they dance, they have catchy songs and yeah they're cute too. While most of them like Jordan, I prefer Joe myself. But still he was not the all time 'hot guy' for me.
Thankfully I grew out of NKOTB. I got into a boarding school and met a whole bunch of new friends. We were always laughing and talking about everything.
Well one of the topics that we would talk and laugh about is the celebrity we like the most. I can't remember all the names that we mentioned but I do remember one of them just adored River Pheonix. And to keep the conversation going I mentioned Johnny Depp.
But in time, what started with Johnny Depp expanded to include other celebrities. Here are my all-time list of hot celebrity males.
1. Johhny Depp
2. George Michael
3. Viggo Mortensen
4. George Clooney
5. Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock
The old rocker. He has a great voice and wrote some of the greatest song ever. Apart from his great talent, why I think he's so hot is also due to his upper body (I've never seen the rest). He has this tall, lean yet muscular look. Well at least when he was younger. To see him perform with nothing but pants and a guitar is a nice treat.
7. Keanu Reeves
8. M. Nasir
9. Daniel Wu
10. Yutaka Takenouchi
Since I have travelled across all continents to pick up these hot stuff I realized that I didn't picked any from India or Africa. I considered a few but they didn't make it on the list. They just lack the staying power that the ten guys I mentioned earlier have.
When everyone was going ga-ga over Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan I was going ga-ga over Salman Khan. Maybe it's the eyes. After some mediocre movies and very bad publicity I lost interest so he's out. And then there was Hrithik Roshan. But he's not consistent and I don't get to see him much so he's out too. As for Africa, I don't know any celebrity from there.
And then there's also these regular guys on any hot list: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Orlando Bloom, and Jude Law. I just knew some ppl will get offended with what I'm about to say. But how can you explain why you like certain things and not others? The least I can say is that Tom, Leo and Brad in my opinion are not so versatile in acting. It's like if you see them in one movie, you've seen them all. While Leo as himself is pretty interesting, I think Tom is shallow at times and the answers he gave in interviews are mostly what people would want to hear. I have this feeling that he's still acting even after they say 'cut'. While Brad, well what can I say, he's not that great an actor and he doesn't really appeal to me in terms of looks. Orlando and Jude? They're just too skinny for my taste.
So do these ten guys represent my ideal man? Well yes in a way. If I can get a man that's tall, lean, handsome, musically talented, quiet, naughty at times, smart, sweet, funny and not gay, I would fall on his feet anytime.
So, that's it then. I'm never getting married
Friday, March 04, 2005
The adventure of the Joads is quite common to Southern Americans in the 30's. Driven off from their own land by the big bad banks they are forced to find another stead to rebuild their home. They put all their hopes in a handbill offering work picking fruits and started their journey from Oklahoma to the golden state of California with an old beat-up truck and about a hundred dollars in their funds. As you may guess, it's not all that 'golden' in California.
But what makes the book so amazing is that it offers the cold hard truth on how big corporations in America can take advantage of their own men for the sake of profit. They don't care if the ppl are already poor enough as it is and that the children are dying. All they know is the fruits need to be picked and labor cost minimized as much as possible. The fact that they have to employ more guards and buy more guns to control the riots just slipped their minds. But I guess nothing change much with American corporations. They take care of their own now but manipulate ppl from other poor countries instead.
I only discovered that this is actually a children's classic literature after I worked at the bookstore. I'm not that knowledgeable when it comes to children's lit. I grew up with Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, the common books that most federal schooled children know of. I remember my favourite series when I was in primary was the 'choose your own adventure' Malay books. Even though my parents encourage reading they don't buy that many books for us so I just settled with whatever I can find at the school library.
So I was amazed when I see a whole load of wonderful titles that I've never even heard before. It was like discovering a treasure trove. I unearthed Where the Wild Things Are, Elmer, Runaway Bunny, P.D. Eastman and Dr. Seuss. I found out that the creator of Babe, one of my favourite movie wrote a whole bunch of other stories as well. But now let's get back to Charlotte's Web.
I can't help but compare this book with The Sheep-Pig, one of the reason being both of them has pigs as the main character. While The Sheep Pig is delightful and humorous, Charlotte's Web is a bit sombre in its tone. The ending was spoiled for me when I was reading a discussion on "books that make you cry" at Abebooks.com Community Forums. I already knew someone's going to die so maybe I'll be emotionally prepared and I was. But the way White described the conditions following the character's death just makes you feel so sad. So my eye did get a bit watery at that time.
I also read Seasons of Splendour in one seating. It's about Indian folklore written for young readers. But I'm not going to say anything more about this yet. I'm planning to compare this with Tales of a Chinese Grandmother, a book about Chinese legends also written for young readers.
Reading the novel was not as good as watching the movie. And I don't mean it's because I can't see Keanu's face on each page. I have no problem conjuring up his face anytime I want . There are certain differences with the movie. Certain things were not in the movie like Ellie, and some were not in the book like Chaz sassing the bouncer. I don't wish to elaborate on this. Go see the movie first.
While other favorites of mine like Michael Ende's The Neverending Story, Clive Barker's Imajica, Weaveworld and Abarat are considered as fantasy, they still have some connection with this world that we're familiar with. It's just that they insinuate there's another world out there co-existing with ours. The authors tell such wonderful stories that it can make you believe that there is a sickly princess waiting for us to name her, that a world exist in a single yarn of an old rug, or that there is an Abarat beyond our very own shores. Will I ever try fantasy again? Sure, why not. But as long as I feel this world is good enough to live in with all its manipulative corporations, selfless friends and reluctant heroes, I'll let fantasy rests for a while.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
I guess Eastwood's win was inevitable. I should've known better. Next time always go for the movie that makes you cry. Yeah... yeah... you caught me. I cry at movies okay.
I guess the Academy has also learned not to wait until someone dies to give recognition and so Morgan Freeman got his golden statue. I guessed wrong for best supporting actress but I did told Portman to watch out for Blanchett, didn't I?
All in all, I got the rest of the main categories right except for best song. That was a lucky guess anyway. I thought since Phantom is such a great musical then the song should get an Oscar as well. But after I get to hear all the nominated songs, it didn't have a chance really.
Anyway... the reason why it took me 3 days to talk about the Oscar is because TV3 did one hell of a f***ed up job airing the prime time telecast or 8TV did one hell of a f***ed up job recording it in the first place. There. I said it. It's sooooo good to get that off my chest.
I am so damn serious about the Oscar that I always took the day off to watch the live telecast (Yeah I'm a freak. I don't need anyone to tell me that). But since I changed jobs that's not possible anymore. So I eagerly waited for night to come, hoping that I won't 'accidently' hear the results on the radio. It was also the one time that I'm grateful that I cannot access the Internet at my office.
First of all, they didn't show the red carpet segment. Then, they screw up the audio for 30 freakin' minutes and only indicated they know about this after 15 minutes of distorted sound. And most annoying thing of all, they cut out parts of the show. What the hell? No wonder the show can end in 2 and a half hours. After they announced best actor I was like, "Wait a minute... they're not suppose to do this yet." For all you know they announced best picture and everyone was getting out of their seats. I felt cheated.
Who are they to decide which parts that we want to see anyway? Before I knew it I didn't get to hear Learn to be Lonely from Phantom of the Opera, and I didn't know why Chris Rock's accountants wanting to talk to Sean Penn should be funny.
I was puzzled as to why some parts were not shown. Did one of the presenters moon the audience?
Did a winner flipped the finger to show his appreciation?
God! I think I wasted 3 hrs of my time which could have been invested to other more important activities... like blogging for instance
Don't they practice professionalism in broadcasting? What's wrong with putting up a notice before the show like, "This program has been edited to fit the time constraint". I would totally understand that.
Eventually I did get to see the missing parts when Star Movies showed it last night, though I have to switch channels a lot because CSI was on. But then it has to rain at that time and you know how Astro is. So I didn't get to see much of CSI either. Anyway, I get to hear Learn to be Lonely and I finally get the accountant joke.
I wonder who Beyonce has to sleep with to be featured in 3 out of 5 performances? Or should I be asking who Jay-Z has to sleep with? Is Hollywood running out of talents already? I would have loved to hear Minnie Driver sing. How come she didn't just go ahead and sing all the nominated song anyway? Maybe she knows her limits. Thank God. I mean can you imagine her singing Accidently in Love and does she even know Spanish?
It's wonderful that Jorge Drexler's sang a portion of his song as his acceptance speech. I don't think he speak English anyway. But then, why not? Who cares what they can and cannot understand. We took the effort to learn their language didn't we? Man, if I were to receive an Oscar I would deliver my speech in Malay. Let them be the ignorant s.o.bs for once.
Additional thought (4 Mar 2005): Better yet I will hire some aspiring actors and place them among the audience. On my cue they will laugh very loud at my Malay jokes and then the rest can truly feel like the ignorant s.o.bs.
And I missed the first episode of The Amazing Race! Can you believe it? How can I forget? I need to start noting 'important' stuff like this in my diary.
In an unrelated event, this is officially Kampung Gal in the City's 100th post. Hey! If TV shows can celebrate their 100th episode then I can celebrate my 100th post. So take out the sparkling water and drink up!
|Happy 100th Post!|
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