Monday, March 31, 2014

Two Popular Superstition Explained and Analysed.

(This might be turned into sequels if the article is successful in generating fantastic results in the worldwide box-office. Or at least RM3.00 to buy me two boxes of raisins which I live on these days).

Superstition has been part and parcel of our lives, or in most cases, those with pathetic miserable lives because we tend to cling on these beliefs like the stubborn phlegm reaching out for our upper lips even after we had just blown our nose. Especially picturesque if you have it draped on thick porn-star moustache. You are welcome.

But I have always had fascination towards the origin of these superstitious beliefs because, let’s face it, no matter how forward thinking you are, you still tend to be irrational when indulging certain actions.

For example, how many of us are preconditioned to stab the lift button repeatedly like Norman Bates in the seminal study on complex human behaviour titled Psycho even if we had already initiated it (the stabbing, not watching the movie) and the goddam lift is already coming down. Does multiple finger-poking (Kung Fu ala Three Stooges) of the incredulous button forcefully motivate the moving metal box to rush to our aid, while ignoring users from other floors who are probably indulging in severe act of intimacy with the lift button themselves even using non-human extensions like hammer or a tiny feline?

Anyway, let us examine some of the popular superstitions and I shall give the actual reason for their existence, and re-evaluate them. For example:
 Throwing pinch of salt over the shoulder.


It is for good luck they say. For a simple symbolic reason of talking away the sour part of life and retain the more savoury part. It is like taking away all the computer graphic imagery scenes off the movie Avatar and…oh wait….

The real reason

Here it is: you are cooking for the first time for someone, and your girl friend, boy friend, spouse, neighbour, colleagues, in-laws or political candidate on his or her rounds begging for vote approach you from behind to appraise your superior culinary expertise which mostly consist of dropping instant noodle onto a boiling pot.
In order to even out the situation so that you can be alone with your pots and utensils without unfavourable intrusion, you need to have a jar or a bottle of salt on standby. I shall reveal how.
As soon as an irrelevant personage who fancies himself or herself a vastly knowledgeable person makes an unwelcomed entry into the kitchen the following scene should ensue, as I imagined it:

Visitor: So, you are cooking eh?
You: Yes, I am. I wanted to butcher an African bison, but I misplaced the cleaver.
Visitor: Misplaced your cleavage eh? Hmm…err…what are you cooking now?
You: Stuff.
Visitor: Aha, I spot a sachet of curry flavoured powder there. You see_
You: (toss salt over the shoulder)
Visitor: (runs away, palms over the eyes) Aieeee…me eyes…me eyes…how am I going to, henceforth, watch the English Premier League sponsored by Tiger beer or is it Carlsberg? The horror, the horror, the horror…Brando, Coppola, Apocalypse Now, 1978.
So, you know why now. Of course, these sort of precautions should be taken with…err a pinch of salt. It might be me behind you.


In the movie Donnie Brasco, Al “hoohah!” Pacino teaches Johnny  “the pirate named after a bird” Depp to cook. And in the beginning of the session, Pacino throws not a pinch, but a “punch” of salt. It was beguiling to Depp and us the audience as he repeatedly asked whether it was a “pinch” to which Al “YELLS for no reason” Pacino corrects and affirms that it is a “punch”. Maybe Pacino did that subconsciously to excise the ghost of Marlon Brando, not the swelt “Stella!” Brando, but the latter day Marlon “Jabba the Hut” Brando. (Any writing with the mention of Brando more than once is worth the writer’s salt…okay, no more “salt”)

2.     Don’t let a black cat cross you.

I love cat and I find this superstition infuriating. Get it? In-Fur-riating. Haha. Well…er-hum…
Coming back to the superstition, apparently black cat brings you bad luck, no thanks to its association with witches and a fantastically eerie short story by early 19th century gothic/horror/alcoholic/possible murderer writer Edgar Allan Poe, which was titled, though the reason is unclear due to the unabashed subtlety, The Black Cat.

Apparently, if a goddam black cat crosses you, you are in for a bad luck. Like finding out that you girl-friend has been cheating on you, telling you that she is out to get a manicure more than once a day when she is actually a superhero saving the world. That backstabbing dung beetle. I mean, we blokes are smart enough to know that women get their manicure once a day five times a week right? Right?

The real reason
Actually it is so simple that I slapped myself silly for not even realising it in the first place. But of course, it also made me realise this, my self-inflicted full-palmed facial encounter can be inconsolably agonising.
There is a perfect good reason why a cat would want to face risk of being splattered by your poorly maintained sneakers, simply because there is a vermin around – a rat. Perhaps you brought the goddam rodent with you no thanks to your own possession of certain bodily odour that invites the snivelling creatures which has a pair of arse bigger than its head. And as the cat rushes to save you from the buck-toothed plague carrying terror, you are unable to see the former due to its natural blend with shadow during moments of poor lighting (when the world is lighted by either cinematographers Gordon Willis or the budget version, P.C. Sriram) only to have you crush the feline’s back.


We all know how black cats are indubitably associated with witches (played by Susan Sarandon and the delectable Michelle Pfeifer [dear, she was into me before I met you, but I dumped her after she played Catwoman, I have enough cats in my life]). It will earn the wicked member of the fair sex’s ire if you were to step on their cats. They want the cat to be perfect condition before it is lowered into a boiling cauldron.

Yikes, the end…
Well, I have to stop for now because this piece has hit over thousand words and that is a no-no in blogs where most folks lose interest right after they read the first word because in another tab of the browser someone has posted something in the Facebook walls about a lost cat with crushed back.

I shall be back with more superstitions explained, and you may even want me to do research on other popular pantang as we say it here in Malaysia. You can mail a US$1 trillion check to me as it can be used to do my research as well as balance the world budget from a secret lair I am intending to establish in the moon where there will be no salt or black cats, or salted black cats. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MH370: Arise leaders, commenters and jesters.

My sentiments exactly. Shuttup eccles!
The MH370 saga has ended, well not exactly. The announcement was made that all the contact from the plane was lost at the Indian Ocean, the southern Corridor closer to Australia to be precise. Even, then, I’d say that it was too early to make an announcement. Not when we have too many bankrupt comedians on hand looking for easy material.
As mentioned earlier, I had quoted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, through his creation, Sherlock Holmes, “Never theorise in advance of data”. In this case, the announcement was made in absence of pure concrete, conclusive data, as the physical proof of the wreckage itself was not found. But I suppose,  pressure from several quarters forced those responsible to make that dreadful announcement.

As mentioned (again, in my earlier blog post), at times like this, slimes rise from a stirred pond. In this case, some are showing their displeasure with the way the government handled the whole thing, turning it into their usual anti-ruling government venomous spitting match (sometimes they spit upwards, and you know where it comes back to).

The worst was the family, friends and displeased Chinese nationals who demonstrated in front of the Malaysian Embassy in China. They seemed to be pretty free to do so. Try that to their own government, and you will probably never hear of them again. Remember, the dissident and the tank? Or the infant ran over by a vehicle in China, which invited curious onlookers who seemed to be as interested as watching a blind musician making a living? Of course, we need not be reminded that China’s human rights record is as sterling as last year’s home frozen pork chop.

And to see citizens of last big nation, which is still hanging on to their socialist ideology like a Tom Cruise on top of the Bhurj, venting their anger at Malaysian embassy akin to a bullied child of a family throwing stones at the third house down the road simply the owner does car pooling with the kid’s abusive dad.

What is even more troubling is the fact that our own Malaysians spewing venom at the Malaysian authorities involved with the tragedy, for holding out vital information. In Tamizh, there is an expression, “vachukkuttA vanjakam pannurom (roughly translated as, ‘what is there to give when we have none’)”. What the Prime Minister, the acting Transport Minister (yes, temporary, not permanent, and he shed tears fer gad’s sake), the CEO of Malaysian Airlines and the director from Department of Civil Aviation, had was evidence as flimsy as a China doll’s costume (actually someone big who was videotaped cavorting with one of these eminent members of the said “fleshy” profession was displeased himself with the way the government was handling the aircraft issue. Maybe he lost his favourite “doll”).

I understand honestly that one can’t be conclusive with these mere bits and scraps of information that can hardly be put together into one big dinosaur exhibit. But the social media users are not used to this. Gone are the days when it takes time to solve mysteries. We are used to daily/weekly one hour TV series (including advertisements and trailers) of mysteries solved thanks to poor acting, horrific script, conveniently placed clues, and lots of choppy editing that makes the investigators more intelligent than Holmes, Dupin, Spade, Marlowe and Father Brown combined (look it up, don’t be lazy) when they are about as efficient as monkey with a wooden banana.

It is not that easy in real life. I banged into a car, almost a month ago, and the things I have to go through the same day, waiting for tow truck, to the police station, waiting for turn, writing report, going to the Sergeant’s office to get the copy of the report, getting the insurance people in took time…and I am still waiting for them to do my car. And it is just a simple road vehicle accident.

This is a goddam aircraft, with more than 100 passengers and crews in it, and its range would have given Marco Polo multiple orgasms, though the passer byes would have just sat and watched, if old Marc’s aircraft crash landed on the Great Wall. There wouldn’t have been pasta, anyway.

Still, the airlines record safety will still be the best among all the modes of transportation. Road vehicles kill more people in the world than Stalin did back then (oh wait, I need to confirm that). We have aircraft crashes here and there, and if there were no terrorism involved, then it was mainly because of matters that were completely out of the pilot and his or her crews’ hands. To put the blame on the government of the day is, how do I put it, a convenient way of swimming ones way into the deepest vestige of a human refuse treatment plant and prove that you are the brightest person in this side of the hemisphere. But such analogical practices are normal in Malaysia anyway, just look at the opposition political parties. Not to mention their supporters.

A lot of fingers are pointed (index finger, the rest are pointing elsewhere, duh) at the Prime Minister. Najib is Malaysia’s prime minister and he has made as much effort to help with the situation as he can, and, in the meantime, he has to deal with the rest of the Malaysian; deal with those residing out of this country who are still yearning for Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng and finding themselves filling up too many forms too often, and face some red necks who can’t tell Asians apart from Africans; deal with illegal immigrants wanting to come to this country (apparently there are, maybe they don’t read our alternative media wonderful portrayal of this country, poor blokes and gals); dealing with own country people, most of whom as trustworthy as a tarantula babysitting a butterfly; and in the middle of it all, deal with half-wit critics, poor man’s experts, toilet cleaner’s Einstein, and ungrateful citizens whose lineage can be traced back to the regions where poor treatment of the regular folks - not to mention the astute observation of the class and caste system - were a norm.

Death is certain. Tomorrow I can be crossing the road texting to someone about how frustrated I am with the acting Transport Minister who was not manly enough….crunch, I am under a steam roller. We have all lost many loved ones, some in terrible way like my cousin who was murdered and ran over a car. He didn’t deserve it. So many does not deserve these sorts of demises, but life goes on. Pointing fingers will not bring the deads back, which is not entirely an issue if you considered Hitler or Kim Kardashian (crap, she is still alive). If one is not happy with the government of the day, do what he or she can to in most civil possible way to change that government or influence the members to behave the way one wants them to behave. It is not an easy process, because truth is, many may not agree with you. Living in your own cocoon (social media) pleasing your cohorts (“like” clickers), bursting out your freedom of expression through keyboard clicks (that’s how pathetic technology have made us) gets as much exposure as a wounded bear in a cave in Antarctica.  

So far, I have not heard from the real heroes, those who face the media everyday taking in questions, sometimes really ridiculous questions, those involved in the search team, both in and off the field, bitching about the Malaysian government. Maybe the media like CNN which is as credible as my grandfather’s recounting of his rip-roaring adventure with Robinson Crusoe.

Rambling that I am with this post, the main aim was to salute those involved helping to shed some light to this tragedy, from the people in the sea, right up to the authorities and leaders who try their best to give the most credible, verifiable information available. It’s tough to the family of those who are lost. We should give them a break, as even the media was asked not to disturb these grieving folks.  

In the meantime, those who still bitch about the government and its inefficiency will continue to do so until they find something else to unleash their liquid refuse on. That is what their miserable life seemed to be about, as far as their online presence is concerned. Soon, I’d landing a full time job (I am unemployed now, how do you think I have time to write these long ramblings), and I feel sorry that I will have very little time to be entertained by these Internet court jesters. In the meantime, show me more of your brilliant deductions, analysis, commentaries and criticisms; I have coke and popcorn ready.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kajang by-election: A fence-sitter's view.

To be or no to...ouch.
If the recent Kajang election was a four digit lottery draw, there would be many winners, and too little cash to spread around. It was that predictable. Never mind that the original candidate for Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar Ibrahim (henceforth referred to as AI), was called back to the court of law rendering him unqualified to contest for that seat, he always has a backup plan, to have a replacement who is equally, if not more, brilliant, a great tactician, a proven politician that have served the Malaysians well for a long time in the past, a dedicated politician who puts the need of the people ahead of own family.

He chose…his wife.

But it was devastating to note that she had tough fight, not earning a massive majority as this writer expected. Maybe there were a few who felt that the opposing candidate from MCA look like someone they like to hit on who didn’t vote for Kak Wan (Wan Azizah, AI’s wife).

But something went wrong somewhere. It was AI (which interestingly is an acronym for Artificial Intelligence) who was supposed to be there, as the desas desus (Malay slang for rumour) noted that he wanted to become the Selangor Menteri Besar and there were pressure for the current MB to resign. But Selangor’s chief, a former successful corporate lion, refused to even move his mane, much less his posterior from the seat.

Truth is, clock is ticking for AI. He is not the youthful, idealistic, energetic, rousing speech-maker that he once was. Instead, we have an old man, with a familiar goatie that look like it would rather hang around with real goats, an eye which is enhanced probably by contact lens (he used to wear glass, but then again, I suppose, his wife, an optician or something, got it done so that he would have long, hey, wait, I am not done yet, I meant, both short and long sights), and eyebrow that he kept raising fearing that it might fall below his nose which would not be a bad idea as it would create the image of a swashbuckling Eroll Flynn (One of the first on-screen Robin Hood) in his 90s.

All if fine for this writer. My question is, what does his allies think of him now? Sure, they used him as “Victimised poor bloke hammered by ruling party” ticket, but is he going to be an hindrance to the allies growth. Forget about the allies, what about the poor blokes who were once young, idealistic worshippers of AI who hopped that they could join him, and possible pick up the baton from him when he is all shagged out, er-hum, and run the party and hopefully the country?

They still have to wait. As for the allies, they will have to be satisfied with their little kingdoms or states that they rule. Now, the Islamic Party (PAS) are the one which is going to be really pissed if the Selangor Menteri Besar is forced to leave (like sawing off his hand that stuck to the arm of his chair) as he is a quite favoured to be there.

As for DAP, they are still going to be the bitching, nagging, whining, frustrated blokes and gals who are in no way going to go to Putrajaya if AI is still going to be their jumping platform (he might heave them too high that they might end up in Sumatera). They need a break. They need to rule too as would any boys and gals with ambition would. They too have plan for the people of Malaysia, which they have been refining and polishing over the decades that you can actually see through it and see the DAP chief, Lim Kit Siang’s grinning face, the look of hope and joy as sincere as an alligator lost in a chicken coop.

Are these allies going to continue with their relationship with Parti Keadilan Rakyat, a party that was founded by AI that resulted from mostly the rumination culled from the exploits of his certain physical appendage? Or would they decide enough with an apple of dubious nature, and move on with their own strength which mostly has been noises. Plenty of them. Like firecrackers in the neighbourhood just when you thought your infant has taken its first step into the lalaland.

Nobody is perfect as they say, including one you worship, or so says the one who is not worshipping what you worship. Doesn’t matter to an agnostic like me. I am fine sitting on the fence, till the sharper bit start poking me arse. But that is not the problem with those who have issues with the neutrals. Fence sitters earn the ire of the supporters. Because A would think you are actually supporting B and B will accuse you of being pro-A and these two supporters are not anymore smarter than a 4 year old who can get beyond And B alphabetically.

But come election, the leaders of these factions would announce that they can woo the fence-sitters and it makes you ask whether are there actually fence sitters out there? They are. They could be both the silent majority and the noisy minority or vice versa. They could anyone, you, me and the dog named Boo. To me, fence sitters are also those who can be easily swayed by last minute emotional outburst, like the moment when you want to strike the waiter down because he brought you fried rice when you actually asked for fried Bee-hoon Singapore style. And he is not even from the Island.

Aside: There was this disgusting scene I saw once at a food court. A family sitting at the next table ordered drinks and the waiter, a Bangladeshi, got the wrong ones. The head of the family, father this time, gave an earful to the waiter. And it didn’t end there. His son, probably in his early teens, continued balanced out the whole thing by giving an earful to the other side, including a couple of table banging to prove his point. Proud father and son moment. This is what our country, used to be known for the Budi Bahasa (roughly translated as ‘courtesy’) culture, have become. End of aside.

I am writing this mainly not entirely because I am affected by the by-election result. Maybe a little. But mostly because I couldn’t sleep. And what better way to hit the hay then after you have unleashed your venom. But all these talks about AI, his actions and sitting on the fence are not making my ass feel better. Damn.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

To Kajang With Whole Lotta Love: My proposed campaign speech for Anwar.

Prelude: I am no stranger to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s speeches, though I believe he is chummy with mine…in case he wants my vote. Apart from the usual clips on TV news, after leaving school, I had direct experience of watching him give speech during a dinner function. It was a comfy event with minimal select group (my uncle was with a defence/politics strategy think tank organisation, hence my being there with him). I was blown away on how educated Anwar was, mostly listening him to spout quotes from various intellects and their books to support his points. I was 19 then. Now, I was thinking, being jobless and all, that maybe I should take a crack in becoming a political speech writer. Good moolah, better use of creativity and best living imaginable, especially so if your boss is as bent as his phallic treasure.

Here is something I would write for Anwar to canvass support for his wife in the upcoming election in Kajang. The points in parentheses are my notes for him, just, you know, he is in the right direction…End of Prelude.

 Prelude is sponsored by Artificial Intelligence Lubricant: AI Lubricant, Glide Your Way In.

Remember, the notes within the brackets are my notes/reminder/instruction for him.

The Speech
This will be the last speech before the rakyat (don’t say “people”, “rakyat” is the preferred word, just like innocent Mee Goreng, instead of Fried Noodle that comes with knowledge that it has enough cholesterol to give a T-Rex heart attack)go out voting for the Kajang constituency.

Yes, the last speech to garner your support to vote for my partner, Miss…I mean, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah, who have been with me through thick and thin and touched me (don’t touch your cheek; you know, I know, so leave it) with her dedication and strong will during trying times.

Let’s talk about Kajang. We all know what Kajang is famous for, the satay. Yum, stick it in the back of the flesh, like really deep (don’t get emotional here if it all comes back to you) and grill it. But I am not here to talk about cooking show (pause here, there will be roar of laughter from a bunch of blokes and gals we will be providing and to whom we will show signal as to when to laugh) but what is cooking in Pakatan Rakyat’s cauldron (seeing that many may not know that word, say it anyway to make you look smart), a cooking pot that is, which is meant to be served to the Kajang folks.

In a book called Gastronomy: An Insight on Gaseous Intestine and the Use of Methane, Jamie Oliver Cromwell noted that the best way into others heart is through the stomach. Which is weird, because the food does pass by the heart to reach stomach, huh? Huh? (pause again for audience laughter, if none, scratch your nose and proceed)

Speaking of food, there have been snide remarks on how Kajang constituency looks like that extinct bird, Dodo, on the map. What piffle statement is that? Add the letter “L” to Dodo, and it becomes Dodol, a sticky, gooey delicacy (pause for laughter from ‘audience’ and scratch your arms while you wait).
But should Kajang be satisfied only with the satay? How about the development here? The basic structure? 

In his milestone book, Erections of the 21st Century: Stimulating buildings and pulsating towers of the future, by John Cocksure, the author noted that, and I quote, “the orgasmic achievement by a towering erection is measured by the deepest involvement of the owner”, the owner he meant was the rakyat ourselves. If we are elected (elected, not erected, careful), we will definitely fill this city that has not been receiving any attention due to lack of landmark, despite the apartments and condominiums (condo-minium, not condom-minium, be careful) with awesome buildings and towers and gigantic appendages that will compensate our (not ‘my’) shortcomings (not ‘short-cumming’).

The ruling government pays too much attention in seeking attention of the voters, who are adult, that they tend to ignore the children. If you vote for us, rest assured, we shall make sure that the small ones are generously feted with toys, and especially, dolls from china. For boys, we have manufacturers from the US which is currently working on an action figure, called Super Anwar, which is designed to win cases in toy courts, judged by the evil Wig-Man, and defended by a toy non-action figure lawyer in wheelchair and Super Anwar is always saying, “Hi man!” in Jamaican accent.

I shall not take away the limelight from the star of this election. Be focused, and vote wisely. The future of Kajang is in your hands which means we decide what you do. Adieu and to quote Edgar Allan Poe when he conquered Monggolia, “I’ll be back”.

Friday, March 14, 2014

MH370: United States of America, you dear, are one …you know the rest.

US is an awesome country only because of its awesome factory called Hollywood. So many amazing products came out of that manufacturing site. But when it comes to politics, international arena that is, I have my reservation. No long blog post this time, but here is something I picked up from the excellent, perhaps, the best film directed and acted by my idol, Clint Eastwood who plays John Wilson (loosely based on director John Houston). Here’s the scene that struck cord with me, and felt is relatable to the current situation…
John Wilson: I would like to tell you a little story.

Mrs. MacGregor: Oh, I love stories.

John Wilson: Well, you mustn't interrupt now, because you're way too beautiful to interrupt people. When I was in London in the early 40's, I was dining one evening at the Savoy with a rather select group of people, and sitting next to me was a very beautiful lady, much like yourself.

Mrs. MacGregor: Now you're pulling my leg.

John Wilson: Now, just listen, dear. Well, we were dining and the bombs were falling, and we were all talking about Hitler and comparing him with Napoleon, and we were all being really brilliant. And then, suddenly, this beautiful lady, she spoke up and said that was the thing she didn't mind about Hitler, was the way he was treating the Jews. Well, we all started arguing with her, of course. Though, mind you, no one at the table was Jewish. But she persisted. Are you listening, honey?

Mrs. MacGregor: Mustn't interrupt Daddy.

John Wilson: That's right. You're way too beautiful for that. Anyway, she went on to say that that's how she felt about it, that if she had her way, she would kill them all, burn them in ovens, like Hitler. Well, we all sat there in silence. Then finally, I leaned over to her and I said, "Madam, I have dined with some of the ugliest goddamn bitches in my time. And I have dined with some of the goddamndest ugly bitches in this world. But you, my dear, are the ugliest bitch of them all." Well, anyway, she got up to leave and she tripped over a chair and fell on the floor. And we all just sat there. No one raised a hand to help her. And finally when she picked herself up I said to her one more time: "You, my dear, are the ugliest goddamn bitch I have ever dined with." Well, you know what happened? The very next day, she reported me to the American Embassy. And they brought me in for reprimand. And then when they investigated it, they found out she was a German agent. And they locked her up.

John Wilson: Isn't that amazing?

Mrs. MacGregor: Why did you tell me that story?

John Wilson: Oh, I don't know. It wasn't because I thought you were a German agent, honey. But I was tempted tonight to say the very same thing to you. I didn't want you to think I had never said it before. You, madam, are the - Well, you know the rest.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Top reasons why authorities should be careful about what they throw to the media.

At the end, its all about kittens.
The members of the media are an impatient lot. I know, I was one of them. But sometimes, their impatience should not be rewarded with tossing of scraps of information just to satisfy them like tossing a politician in a cage full of Rottweiler. The canines will die of food poisoning.

No thanks to the tragedy recently occurred (see my previous blog post), the media, instead of the victims are becoming more and more the centre of attraction. Former prime minister of Malaysia tweeted that Malaysians should behave themselves because the whole world is watching. Who is he kidding, we were the laughing stock of the world long time ago.

Of course, authorities should know how Malaysians react to tragedies and that is why I believe they are not going to be fast in dishing out information due to some of the situations I think is prevalent, like:

Alternate Media vs Mainstream Media = oh shit!

Mainstream media usually means printed newspapers, magazines and such. While alternate media denotes those you look at on the internet, or pretend to, while you have porn sites on another web browser.

Mainstream media is an expensive operation. Bales of papers, inks, sweats and bloods of the reporter, blood pressure pills and alcohol for the editors, and fiery phone calls awaiting the management are the sort of rigmaroles that goes into the final ingredient in form of nicely folded pages of papers that get tossed in your letterbox, outside your office, or in your porch if the dog has not sunk its teeth already.

Mainstream media usually go through shitload of checking before getting a story out. Every journalist out there has a story about how he or she had been called by an editor, deputy editor or even a sub-editor and given hell for writing pieces of unverified trashes, and worst still, writing trashes. I myself was given an earful for misplacing the decimal points in some goddam numbers.

In fact, I recall the first week working for a business daily, where I was called by a somewhat hung-over looking sub-editor the next day after submitting a story, accusing me that I got the order of the information wrong. Inverted pyramid they say, important message up, and least important bottom for them to cut if needed. Sort of like upside down food pyramid where the bottom most are the ones that will decide in what form they want to emerge into the toilet bowl the next morning. Of course, feeling tremendously guilty, I checked the edited work only to find that it was exactly how I reported it. The sub-editor did not last long there. I don’t know why.

I don’t know if these exercise of checking and re-checking and quoting and crediting goes on in alternate media. Most of the time I read “according to a source working in Acme Corp” or a “spokesperson from Nosedigger Bhd, under the guise of anonymity said…”  or a “representative from Digg Head Enterprise, who didn’t want to be identified said…” in many crucial news pieces, often by senior journalist. For all I know they might have pulled a fast one out of their ass and simply credit it to unknown source.

These people makes a mountain out of a molehill and it is not their fault – it’s the competition, plus they don’t want to earn the ire of their respective editors who didn’t get where they are now by writing piffles. Granted they may have slept around, but that takes lots of sacrifice too (especially when it involves not so great looking politicians or approaching past expiry date corporate figures).

Information may not be valid.

Nobody is perfect and this includes; I kid you not, and don’t call this a blasphemy, online social network users. I recall an old game we played in the classroom, where the teacher would tell a secret to the first student sitting right in front at one corner and ask him or her to pass it to the next student, and next, and next and finally to the last student at the corner who is probably taking the geographic advantage by looking at a porn magazine under the table.

And that student is asked to tell what the secret was. For example the teacher must have told the first student this: “A cat knocked down my vase”…and the last student might regurgitate “my dad smacked my arse”. The incestuous kinky revelation may not please the teacher but the student is not at fault. It was the dad’s.
But you get the drift. Information goes to various stages of editing, purification, addition (with no preservatives added), and when it reaches the intended audience the goddamn dog has lapped up the first paragraph. You just need to wait and hope that it didn’t digest.

Good news, or bad news comes to those who wait.

It may not be instant, but some news takes times to be revealed, such as that moment when your mother announced that you are going to have a baby brother or sister, despite the fact that you yourself are in your late-forties and your son is entering the high school.

Some events take time to unfold. Witness the farce that was the US presidency election back in 2000, everyone thought Al Gore won and bzzzzt, wrong answer. After scratching the head and the bum (not necessarily in that order), they had to do a recount, and the sequel to the Iraqi War was later announced by the real winner. It takes time, no matter how technologically superior we have come from the days when you have to wait for messenger on a horse, or a pigeon, or a pigeon on a messenger horse or vice versa to find out that the enemy is planning to launch an attack on your kingdom, and they are probably riding around displaying your severed head already before those four legged and fury messengers arrived.

Impatience breeds dirt suckers

Technology has made us impatient. Look at how people stab the goddam lift button more than once hopping that they have the magic touch that will make the lift answer only to your command ignoring other floors where someone is probably already smashing the lift button with his goddam elbow. At the click of a mouse, click of the TV remote control, and slight crack of your shoulder muscle for staring too long at screen(s), you expect information to jump out and flash itself like a five bucks stripper from a phony looking giant birthday cake

Many (this author included) hit on the search engine looking for precisely what they wanted to hear. For example, someone may have given the prestigious title “bitch” to your favourite actress. You would want to counter that and furiously make variety of searches looking for results that complements your own opinion, and upon finding a link, you would attach it in your Facebook status, tag your enemy and write “take that, sucker!” under which lies the prodigious link with the headline, “Hunger Game Actress Delivers Kittens”.  

That will make a big impact in the social media circle, with everyone lapping it up to the point that certain British tabloids may have to close down their business and start fish and chips lunch truck.

When all is done, it’s back to normal.

Gnashing their teeth, hissing through their nose with boogers stuck on their upper lips, arms akimbo, the readers and viewers do get finally fed the information that they are looking for. It was worth the wait, because they have left behind something that means a lot more to them – their own goddam pathetic lives.
I wrote about this in the previous blog. Things do go back to normal, dogs to be fed, children to be pet, husbands bum to be washed, wife’s make up kit to be arranged, or maids to be abused and not necessarily in that order. As I said, only those directly involved in the event the media informed about are impacted throughout the rest of their lives. For the others, life goes on.

Life, as Jeff Goldblum put eloquently in the greatest documentary since Jaws, Jurassic Park, will find a way.

Whatever I wrote above are something that has been bugging me the last few days. I hope I will never have to revisit this post again when another tragedy strikes and the blame game starts again. Because I would be too busy looking after Jennifer Lawrence’s kittens.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MH370: From deep within comes the sludge.

"It is a capital mistake to theorise in advance of data."
The recent tragedy involving the missing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, needless to say, is devastating. Friends, family, why, the entire nation (Malaysia as well as China and other countries where some of the passengers come from) is keeping their fingers crossed, some praying, some hoping, some believing that the passengers and crew are still alive. It’s nerve wrecking especially for those having sleepless day and night waiting at the KLIA airport and the hotel in Putrajaya where some are invited to spend their waiting hours.
In the midst of it all are the authorities involved with the investigation, the ministers, the civil aviation authority, Malaysian Airlines personnel, and eager beaver media folks waiting to feed readers and viewers any scrap of information available. And, among them comes the sort of sludge that arises from deep water when it is disturbed…the worst kind. The kind that take it to the worst possible media platform – the social media, especially the Facebook.

Of late, we see some nitwit from the opposition party mocking Malaysian Airlines, and indirectly the government on twitter, and he was lambasted. Then, it comes knocking in your own social media doors when you see disparaging comments on the people who are spending sleepless nights trying to recover the aircraft and its passengers. Calling the authorities moron, as if these users have had an IQ competition with the personnel involved and scored the highest, when they are probably resting at home, having iced tea, and knocking about the keypad or keyboard thinking they are the greatest gift to mankind since Sherlock Holmes; like finding fault with the authorities is akin to solving the Jack the Ripper murders.

I am pro-government, meaning I am for all good governance, no matter which party is on board. So far I am fine with the opposition running the state I am in right now (Selangor, when I have not stepped on KL). Personally the members of the Islamic party, PAS, are swell folks, still maintaining the Budi Bahasa Sopan Santun culture so prevalent back in days among the Malaysian, especially the Malay community. The buck stops when it comes to politics.

I still recall during the first day of working as a reporter for a business newspaper, I picked up News Straits Times daily, known for being staunch pro-ruling party, when a colleague took notice and said, “So, it’s true you are from Johor”. The joke is, I am from the very state which had been fiercely loyal to Barisan Nasional, the ruling party that has been in control of Johor for a long time.

No thanks to the firm grip on the state, when growing up in Johor, we treated those who are supporters of the opposition with suspect. But recently, when the whole Anwar Ibrahim episode come rolling down like an avalanche, the young blokes including those from my state found it especially endearing to be anti-government ie anti-ruling party, and support the former deputy minister and education minister (Anwar was the minister when our education system went downhill during the 80s, the very product that belched out these flag bearers).

Not my parents,  brothers and I. I have heard about Anwar and his escapades way back in early 90s, thanks to my brother who was working in Carcosa Seri Negara (where ministers and diplomats hang out or meet other minister and diplomat blokes and gals) and he said that he had never seen anyone as insecured as Anwar, barging down the lobby with security details that will make the US President cry “unfair”. Not the then Prime Minister, (now Tun) Dr. Mahathir who prefers to amble about on his own saying hi to the staff, do his meets and rush back to either his office or home.  

Now that the aircraft is missing, armchair political analyst are crying “Conspiracy!”. And one of it involves the very Anwar’s determination to take over Selangor state and make his way to Putrajaya, the country’s administration city (planned during Mahathir’s time, by the way). Very interesting theory that is, get a plane in which the majority are Chinese national, have it disappear so that the entire nation would be worried about the aircraft and its passenger, not a politician who is charged for (attempting to?) poking his sexual appendage at the legally prohibited hole. And in turn, earn the wrath of the very country which Malaysia can be proud of calling a friend while being as neutral as she can (the buck stops at Israel though, I got no issues with that, I don’t like the side braid).

Then, of course, the critics of the ruling party had a good time rolling down the social media aisle, laughing their posterior with hole in it off, when a Bomoh was called in to aid the search for the missing plane. If eleven countries got together, with technology that would make George Lucas have sex with himself, still have issues finding the goddam plane, I am sure desperate folks would insist on getting non-scientific help. It is not also helped that the Bomoh was said to have predicted that the aircraft was in air. The critics ran out of aisle to laugh their sagging buttholes off.

Then of course, the criticism that the authorities are unprofessional. I thought they were, they were polite too. I have been to and covered many press conferences where I felt like shoving my tape recorder onto the collective mouths of the blokes and gals supposed to respond to the media yelling, “say Aaaaah!” like a frickin dentist.

This time, the prime minister and the others at least talked and assured that it is too early to divulge anything because more than these poor reporters, it is the grieving family looking for answer, or closure who needs to know first. And frankly, they got nothing to say except that whatever was blown out of proportion by social media and some irresponsible online media is not true until verified.

This brings me back to something I posted in response to that, that was said by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle through his creation, Sherlock Holmes: “Never theorise in advance of data”.  In this age where data is available anywhere, everywhere, for anyone and everyone, information has no value. Revealing what they know so far about the missing aircraft is not going to hurt anyone. Because, once everything cools down, everyone will go back to their miserable lives, updating their Facebook statuses, sharing imbecilic jokes, copying and sharing uncredited quotes, or some positive self-help shit that is not going to get me a good paying job, or posting pictures of friends and family members that are as interesting as last year’s torn calendars; and waging keyboard war with another knucklehead which will have as much contribution  to the growth of our society as a pimple on an elephant’s ass. And that includes me too.

But the family who has lost their loved ones? They will continue to grieve. In the meantime, there would be another tragedy that would stir the pond and get the sludge called social media truth seekers out floating like ones our family once saw below the Kota Tinggi waterfall – human turd.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Ultraman: The Fear of Impotency.

(co-written with Nevin Shankaran Kumar)

Ultramen and their strategically misplaced sexual object.
On afternoons, back in early 80s, us kids would bundle around the Television (idiot box is an old joke, it has documentaries that will make you a dumbfuck), just to watch new adventures of Ultraman.

To the unitiated, Ultraman is kids TV series where a bloke, some cop or other, becames (or so I think, it’s unclear as he just brandishes a rod thing to the sky) Ultraman, a mouthless piece of being with glowing eyes and is suited in silver latexy thingy. And it’s a giant, big enough to fight monsters which failed the audition for the original Godzilla TV series.

It was quite a series as we kids devoured, perhaps, the first ten to fifteen minutes waiting patiently for Ultraman to come and kick the monster’s rubbery ass, and it literally does. Ultraman goes on kicking, punching, carrying the monster twirling it around, slamming it down and all without the gigantic ropes in the gigantic ring called Tokyo traffic.

Of course, like many TV shows and movies that showcases monster, we never get to see people get squished with the innards making their TV debut. It was a clean entertainment as far as we kids are concerned, no more violent than Tom the cat turning to pie-shaped being after being clanged by a rubbish bin top, or Sylvester the cat being repeatedly abused by the old lady with the parasol. Not to forget Wile E. Coyote that has been bombed to smithereens, smashed to pieces, torn to shreds, and blown into oblivion no thanks to its extraordinary efforts (and budget to spare notching up Acme Co’s share market) just to trap a goddamn road runner. All, to this author, didn’t matter as it meant, if you can’t for the first time, try and try again…till you see a TNT with burning fuse stuck in your ass.

Coming to back to the matter in point. The Malaysian home ministry has banned the Ultraman series (there are many Ultramans, of various shapes and sizes, some with horns and some not, but mostly without sexual devices I presume, though the buzzer in the creatures chest often gives warning red signals as if they have reached certain climax) and it annoyed many Malaysians, especially those who loved to see their kids enjoying same thing that the parents did when they were kids themselves: watching monsters being trashed about by another monster, a good one, till the bad ones explode, discombobulate, dismember, disintegrate and disappear in thin air.

The last, I suppose, was an alternate when the producer runs out of money for special effect.

Which is precisely the reason why I actually wouldn’t want my son to watch these damned men in latex suit superhero films in the first place. Look, if you are going to show some kids some awesome superhero flicks, make it look like a million. The early Batman TV series knew that and played it for a laugh.  

Then, came the Superman movies which were million buck entertainment and they still look good today. So were the Batman movies, never mind that somewhere they did the script smoking weird shit and tried to control the damage by having Arnold Schwarzenneger say varieties of ice related pun (it was smoking alright, from pan to fire). But they are watchable and they got the superhero thing right of late with the Spider-Man and Iron Man flicks, where, not only they spent millions, but they also added a human heart into it.

Not Ultraman, oh no. Ultraman continues with the 30 cents script and RM7 budgets per episode and tried its best to continue to hoodwink kids who are now already into mobile phone porn at the age of seven. You kidding me?

Ultimately, the shows are stupid. They belong to be in development hell, where they rot and if history is a good teacher what happened to the big budget version of Godzilla? Huh? Speaking of which, I sometimes wonder why Japanese are obsessed with size. If it is not about miniatures, it is about monsters, and why should we too? Don’t we have enough miniatures in form of politician brains from which spills innards of unbelievable stupidity. Or monsters in form of parents abusing kids, employers abusing maids, and leaders peeing over their minions?

We are now way beyond these monster shows. Dinosaurs movies came and took a hike. Size is scary. What used to be twin towers have since become mangled steel and burnt concretes. The new bad monsters in town are not terrorists and hackers, but what motivates them. But we can’t have TV shows for children where the monsters are religious zealots, corporate raiders, slithery smugglers, con artistes and big timers with loots stashed away in Swiss bank. No way, the politicians would want that to be banned as well. The last things they want a kid to see on screen is their own adventures.