Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Matt the Cat And The Vet


Note:;The poem is my own... the picture, though, was AI prompted.

There was once a cat

Whose name Matthew or Matt

He went to see a vet

Coz Matt has been rather sad.

But the vet said

"I can’t do ain’t no nothin’

For I just medicate

But can’t stop your sulkin’.."

And the Matt the cat

Was angry, pissed and mad

“what do you mean

Can’t do ain’t no nothin’?”

“It means what it is”

said the vet, getting pissed.

“…you either ain’t gettin’ it

Or just lackin' some wit”.

Unperturbed Matt the cat said

“The language is poor and bad

Filled with quadruple negatives.

For I can be very attentive”

And that was when 

Both realized, that 

Sad Matt is sad no longer

For he was now in anger

“Hey, you’ve been cured”

Said the vet, enthused.

Matt’s gloominess was gone

He will no longer mourn.

He thanked the vet

Said that it was a bet

That his friends had already paid

That Matt, instead, might be spayed 

RKP – 09/04/2025

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Gals and Moon

It took me more than two decades to feel secure with my writing skills. There was, however, when I first started out with this profession, the cockiness set in, and I told myself that I could write about anything (non-fiction, in a magazine feature article-length piece). With a bit of research, I was ready to go.

Then, the food poisoning happened. Yes, I was hired to write reviews on food, and after a trip to a few places, I had diarrhea so intense that the darkest region in my posterior still quivers in fear just thinking about it.

The confidence (not the arrogance) has somewhat returned, especially after I started contributing to an online portal, because the subjects had been pretty varied, and even recently, I attempted writing about politics in the country. My late brother, Balan, who first encouraged the writer in me, would be proud.

So, imagine my surprise, strangely, that on the very same day, two ladies—one my editor at NMH and another, someone whom I consider an intellectual sparring partner—challenged me into writing something about their own chosen subject.

I accepted both, having now written the piece for NMH. Now, what was my beloved frenemy (I am a cat, she’s into dogs) wanting me to write about?

Women and the moon cycle. She may as well ask me to write about nuclear fission.

After cracking my head, I thought, How would AI respond to that? And I asked ChatGPT the same. The sonovabitch gleefully rattled a piece; here’s the screen cap.

It is still enthusiastically writing... until I shut the browser on its face. Yeah, I can be mean to technology.

Anyway, while I was in deep thought on this subject, something occurred to me about the effect of the moon on living beings. Werewolves!

As everyone knows, legend has it that some normal guys and gals who have been attacked by werewolves themselves will turn into one—on full moon night. They could be anyone you know, from your school bus driver to your grandma’s sex therapist.

So, what does that tell you about women’s monthly predicament and the effect of the moon on both gals and wolves? They are both immensely angry. Werewolves will kill you. Girls having periods will tear you from limb to limb if you accidentally walk into their brooding moments. Be careful!

And what are the connections between werewolves and women? Actually nothing. I just tried to link 'em up.

Anyway, back to the given topic, I did learn that over the centuries, womenkind found a close link between the moon and their own period cycles. The article here says: “Traditionally, women bleed with the new moon and ovulate with the full moon. This assumption has been built into work with moon phases.”

Also, after telling us (thank you) that during the ovulation period, gals bodies are most fertile, Then, moving on, the goddamned articles started giving colours to the periods! White moon, pink moon, mauve moon, whatever. I am colour blind.

Which means I have a perfect excuse for me to no longer research this stuff. If it involves colour, it ain’t my gig.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Writing about Writing

Not a random Internet pix. That's my horrendous handwriting alright.

Since I have been doing this for sometimes ( two decades plus), I feel comfortable now sharing some of my views, experiences, or knowledge - if at all they are of any value - in writing. I shall disseminate some, hopefully, useful pointers from time to time. No plans. Just by whim. Instinct. I started writing out some pointers last year and have pointedly abandoned it. Let’s restart it. Here you go.

Writing about writing #01

Long Sentences.

If you are writing long sentences, use commas adequately, and if it necessitates, use them generously, as is demonstrated in the very sentence you are reading. A lack of commas in a very long sentence will put the reader in a coma.

You see, punctuation gives a reader breathing space. Which, in turn, allows her a fraction of time to think, process, and figure out what the hell was that had to be read in a long stretch. Putting a comma before “and” is referred to as an Oxford comma. You can avoid it. It's pure snobbery at best. So, to summarise:

Write short sentences.

Like this.

Ciao – RKP 27/4/23

Writing about writing: #02

Using abbreviations

Or short form. Chat speak, that is. 2moro, stf lk tat.

Fine, I am okay with that. Having crossed the bridge from the analogue to the digital age, I am sort of able to adapt and understand, but at the same time, I am fond of the languages enough to not have to read them—by looking at what appears to look like pigeon’s diarrhea on screen—and I have to spend additional time deciphering them like bloody wartime code.

But it's okay to use them. Only be prepared to be misunderstood. It needed to be translated to whichever language the reader has in her head, from the chat language to the proper sentence, back to the mother tongue—not to mention the state of mind the person is in. A lot, I mean, shitload can be lost in that translation after translation, which leads to...

….misunderstanding. No? Think. Switch that flashback button. More on this later... RKP 28/4/23

Writing about writing: #03

Thoughts on why writing and speaking are different.

Those who speak well may not write just as well. Likewise, you would find great writers who are not quite as “flowing” and “flowery” when they talk. Some are just as gifted as both. When you write, you have the freedom of pausing, formulating thoughts, and kneading them into a fresh sentence. The best part is that you can correct, or even better, delete, the whole damn thing. Try that when having a conversation. You can go back, saying, “Oh, wait, erase what I said just now." Life doesn’t work that way because you are also erasing some of the better reputation you have been saving up until then. The media guys, though—the reporters on any platform—are fast. So, you will find them to be good conversationalists too. They can talk as they go. They appear on talk shows and dominate the proceedings. But you will still notice the difference in the way they write and talk. Choices of vocabulary are more apt and functioning in writing, not so when they are talking. This is especially true in a country like ours, where most of us have different mother tongues and learn another dominant language in school.

When talking in conversation, the audience varies. In writing, the group is larger, so you may be able to throw gravel and hit some of the right targets. Many would be clueless and would never be able to discern what you are trying to convey. Worse, they may not get your joke. But who knows? Slowly,  the masses may gather at your beckoning.

More, some other day, perhaps... RKP 14/2/2024

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Lal Salaam (2024)

I have two issues with this film, and the fault lies with the director, Aishwarya Rajinikanth. One, the incessant to and fro flashback (I call it flashbackitis, a disease that has long afflicted Tamil films) that at times you are not even sure which part of the narration you are in. 

Two, the voice over narration. It was not necessary (she did it herself, I could hear her dad's rhythm in her voice) as the audiences seemed to be able to understand what's going on. But then, considering the flashbacks can send you into a narrative spiral, it may be useful after all.

Otherwise, I loved the film. It's a decent, watchable and, at times, exciting. Rajinikanth is the third character, sort of important supporting role, but you know he is the hero despite his lesser screen time this time around. 

In fact, he is not new in playing cameo roles, and appearing as a guest start in the past, and in almost all of them, he stole the show right under the leads respective noses. He is dangerous that way. Kamal Haasan knows that. 

Speaking of which, I actually caught the glimpse of that naughty, free-for-all Rajini of Ninathale Inikkum (1979) in a scene here where he is joyously flinging the murukkus and palagarams. Really, if you are a long time fan, take a look.

Coming back to the flick, Aishwarya Rajinikanth manages to ride the slippery slope of having the audience investing emotionally on the characters – not on the faction, i.e, religion. It doesn't go on Ram Rahim Robert path of elementary  level national unity preaches. It says things as it is. It doesn't take side. 

Following 3 (Moonu), her directorial debut, Aishwarya should have named this 2. Because it involves two main leads, two religions, Islam and Hindu, and two villages. The friction that starts from cricket matches, leads straight to religious fracas,  and it is good to know that none of the factions are cast in bad light. Well, I would say the rotten ones are the Hindus here. The muslims are borderline stereotypes you see in most Tamil films, with those cotton beards and headwear. But they had characters.

In fact, during the opening fight sequence, Rajini's Moideen Bhai lets his right hand man to do the brawling – an older, kain pelikat and Kopiah wearing big guys who just flattened the opponents like Incredible Hulk. I really enjoyed that sequence.

And the riot scenes. Aishwarya captured them well, without having us lost geographically, and knowing well the fates of the characters at that moment. They are perhaps best shot sequences showcasing riots in that industry, which often tried to portray chaos but often lose out to low budget and poor planning. They look good here. Convincing. 

Speaking of convincing... everyone, I mean, everyone, even those lesser characters performed well. It's not easy and I am glad that whichever plot holes, or ridiculous narration (it's Tamil film, after all) notwithstanding, good performances from the actors can pull you into their world. And she even got the semi-retired comedian Senthil to give a strong, emotional performance. Bravo!!

The leads, Vikranth and Vishnu Vishal are believable, and is present throughout dividing the audiences in loyalty. Damn, that Vikranth guys is a much better actor than...oh, I better shut up.

The other thing which disappointed me was the background score. I refuse to believe that A.R. Rahman himself worked on that. The songs were strong, apt, and really were powerful, enhancing some of the scenes. But when it time for background score, the Rahman energy seemed to have petered out. 

Now, the man of the hour. One scene. One scene. He made me cry. Yeah. That's the power of Rajinikanth the actor, as opposed to the superstar. I am glad that in his twilight year, he is going back to his root and explore that original fire, the actual Rajinikanth – a powerful character actor. It's all over here. This is not a cameo or guest role, it is a lead role. You may not see him in many scenes, but his presence can be felt. 

I was prepared to be disappointed, thus lowering my expectations, But what the hell, I got involved. It's a good film. I know many will dis it, especially as the promotions and PR were pretty low-key, if you put aside the audio launch. But I love it. It's good. There are powerful moments, very consistent performance among the players and it didn't feel like the work of a director early in her career. Even if this flops, I know Aishwarya is ready to roll with the big guns. 

Additional note: I shared this as What's App status on 13/2/24: Most of the reviews of Lal Salaam are bad. Okay, I read them to find out what's the issues. It's the same issue that's rotting many Tamil films, nothing new. Then it struck me.  Of course! Rajini plays a Muslim leader, and the Muslims in the film are portrayed virtuously. Most of the f***ers who reviewed it are Hindu p****s. Ass that to a woman directing a film amidst toxic male worshipping industry. Of course, they wouldn't like the film. F**ktards! AthigamAna Asterisks payanpaduthalukku manikkavum.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Art of Correspondence In The Age of Emojis.

Me during the Early Ages you can recognize from the last patches of hair struggling to exist on the head.

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”

The above was attributed to many writers; some say it was by humorist (one of my major inspirations) Robert Benchley, and some quarters say that it was by Mark “the Mustache” Twain.

After almost two decades of writing, only now do I have an itsy bitsy of confidence in my writing and have actually started liking some of it, especially at this blog site. A bit. Therefore, I feel safer now to disseminate some tips, advice, or guides on the craft of writing. Also, I suck at everything else, including admin, accounts, and missile gyroscope settings.

I was prompted to write this when, just now, my colleague asked how he would write something to tell off the other party, but diplomatically.

That brought up the question: How do you deal with thorny issues in email or other forms of social media correspondence? Emailing is still prevalent in the corporate world, though other social media apps are taking over, making conversations more and more informal and requiring much time spent decoding the gibberish sent. Okay, not all have this issue, but I do. I write with long hands and often grapple with messages that look more like broken, pre-cooked instant noodles.

Let’s take this scenario. Your client says he or she is canceling the previous order because someone snitched on you and told them that you sniffed glue or something. How do you respond to that? Fret not, here’s a sample:

Dear Ms. or Mr. (whatever you use to address LGBTQrstuvwxyz),

I humbly accept your cancellation of the order. I understand very well that you did that in opposition to my personal habit of involving the respiratory system and squeezable stationery.

But I beseech you: please do not let the wonderful service provider/client relationship hit the iceberg of cancellation. We had a great time together, with you supplying the product and you paying through both of your nostrils (note the preoccupation with sniffing here).

Indeed, I am now on both knees, typing on the laptop on the floor, begging you not to let go of our services. A lot can be done for you while I am on my knees.

Note that you have humbled yourself to the point where your client starts feeling guilty and decides that the only act of repentance is to forgive you and continue the business relationship. Also, he or she might take it the wrong way, especially the last sentence, and would reciprocate with a sexual harassment lawsuit.

In any way, you have been diplomatic despite the severity of the issue. But what if you want to tell off your client in the nicest possible way, not to hurt him or provoke him into using a voodoo doll against you? Diplomacy, tact, and loads of humility come to play again.

Dear Mr. XXX (not Vin Diesel, but you can imagine him here),

Allow me to first inform you that I am of the lowest creature, even less than Spirulina, a consumable bacterium with a girl name. It is not my place to find fault in you or your organisation.

However, and pardon my tenacity in doing this, we found that you owe us several months of payment, which is up to RM 767.85 to be paid one cent coins as promised.

This showed that despite our kindness, you treat us like an aging cow, milking us our products and services till we bled from our t_, err. You get what I am saying.

Despite indulgence in fantasies involving the wringing of your neck, we still have hopes of feeling Rm 767.85 in coins in our pockets. But now, we can only feel a bunch of organic stuff there. Hence, we would truly appreciate it if you could settle the outstanding amount immediately, or we shall activate the bomb planted at your office’s underground parking during lunch time in kind consideration of others.

I'm awaiting your response.

Yours humbly.

See, it’s not difficult. We Malaysians follow the Budi Bahasa concept, as taught in primary school. Of course, Malaysians become nasty as they grow older and nastier netizens, but in real life, we are just chickens and have to resort to being tactful and diplomatic.

But what if things have gone south, milk has turned sour, grapes have become raisins, and goats have become mutton varuval? What are you to do? What if the client slaps you with a lawsuit? Can you slap him back with your hand on the account that's cheaper?

No, it’s time for another tactful, diplomatic, very PRish piece of content:

Dear YYYY,

I have received the notice from your side and found many grammatical and spelling errors. Therefore, I don’t understand jackshit. I don’t know what you are saying. I saw some courts, suits, and all that. All I can say is that I don’t wear suits to basketball courts. Forget it, man, whatever you want to tell me. I don’t know.

Yours brilliantly.

What if the client himself turns up with a briefcase and a rat poison-carrying lawyer (his sustenance)? What do you do?

You can go back and pen another query letter as to their sudden presence.

Dear YYYY,

Imagine my surprise when, this morning, I opened the door and there you were. This was without warning, and in as much as a notice ahead of your visit. The guy next to you must be a lawyer, as I judged by the forked tongue he used to lick a fly off his face.

At this stage, I will pray for you.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Tell It To Brother Bailvan Bhairavan: Podcast Edition

A followup to a post I wrote 19 years ago about a Bhailvan (Tamil for rogue, big-sized, rowdy-ish character) who wrote an agony column. But time marches on like IDF soldiers.

Since we last met Brother Bailvan Bhairavan (BBB), he has become a political analyst. Gone are the days when he bullied young people and their messy little problems. BBB has since become a political consultant who anal-ised (sic[k]) geopolitical situations locally and internationally. When asked what “geopolitics” is, he just nodded and said, "It's about looking for the location of ticks that marry multiple times.”.

He still wants to help those with relationship issues and stuff and has turned to podcasts, with me again as the in-between host. After feeding him several cheap liquors (an old habit which die hard with liver cirrhosis) BBB was more than happy to take on calls and deal with ‘em like any big burly men would.

This is the transcription of the podcast we had recently.

Me: Welcome to Tell It to Brother Bailvan Bhairavan, the podcast edition. Here we shall look at the comments and share some with BBB’s response. Haha, BBB sounds like barbecue, but triple the size. Haha, right?

BBB: Like the size of a swollen, cracked nose you are about to get now?

Me: Haha. I mean. Err… Anyway, let me remind you, BBB, that in the current politically right, woke, whatchamacallit era, you gotta be very balanced. For example, your answers should not be skewered toward the right wing types.

BBB: pOdA, my answers are not for barbecue.

Me: Right. Let me read the first comment. User Cr8t. Crate? “Hey ya, BBB. When your agony column was online the last time, I was never born.”

BBB: Now that you got to know me, you would wish you were never born.

Me: Aww, come on, BBB. That’s too harsh.

BBB: Haha, you know things have changed with me, especially after I became the disciple of Swamji Beataroundthebushananda right?

Me: Really, I wouldn’t have known that. Considering you have had about 5...6...hang on... I lost count. You change your gurus like underwear.

BBB: It’s more of an upgrade.

Me: To boxer shorts then. Okay, we have a caller. Hallo?

Caller : Hi, I am Leela.

Me: Get right to it, Leela. Brother Bailvan Bhairavan will take a crack at your issue.

Leela: Hi, BBB. Listen, I believe in feminism, women’s rights, and all that. But my fiancé is too traditionalist. He wants me to be in the kitchen, give birth, and take care of the kids.”

BBB: He does the career, you in the kitchen. What is he working for?

Caller: Systems analyst.

BBB: Tell him that if he is really a traditionalist and wants you by the kitchen. It should be fair that he too goes back in time and goes according to tradition. He should be working in the field, taking care of cows, and becoming a dung analyst.

Me: Haha, you don’t mean it, right, BBB? .........okay, right. He really meant that, Leela; he just gave me a laser stare that killed a few hopeful follicles on my balding head. Next, we look at a comment. Here’s from DaddyKiller, who says:

What has the world come to? Why does everything suck nowadays? Music stinks; it's war out there. Political instability. Prices go up”. How, BBB. There is some serious stuff there.

BBB: Before I became a thug, I was a thin, scrawny coward. I get beaten a lot. Then, I work out, and I eat a lot of anything that flies, runs, crawls, etc.

Me: Like a domestic lizard, ah?

BBB: Shutup. I got stronger. Then I do all the beating up.

Me: So, what's it got to do with Daddykiller’s complaint?

BBB: If you want to be ready to face issues, build yourself up for them; you can face any problem around you. If you remain like how you were—same old thinking, same old job, same old policies and stuff—surely you kena hit by all those problems. Music will continue to suck, war will continue to be profited by the military industrial complex, and politics has never been stable; only we never noticed it, but now we are making noise out of it. Prices have been going up, but we are not ready for it at any given day when we wake up to the news.

Me: All those will look little, puny, or even nothing if we hit the gym and eat domestic lizards.

BBB:...(*cricket sound*)

Me: Next, and this is definitely sensitive. In a comment this time, User ForgedDieldo says: 

I am a millennial. Everywhere I turn, all the previous generations are bullying us. Calling us lazy, we get everything easy. Take your phone away from us; we cannot survive. It is not that we asked for them all. We were born into it. Why hate us?"

BBB: Its because people of my generation hate the people of previous generations, who used to bully us. Saying shit and stuff like they walked to school for 20 miles, and they sharpen kitchen knives with their teeth. Half of the time, those are b.s. We can’t hate them because most of them are buried or cremated anyway. So, we transfer the anger to... you buggers.

Me: And how are they going to deal with that? Transfer that to a later generation?:

BBB: That’s the discipline.

To be continued when the author is not lazy...

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Sherlock Holmes, Gossips and Then Some Bad Stuff.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson examines a piece of gossip.


The general impression is “gossip” is bad. It’s talking behind someone’s back – often mentioned in same bitter tone as “stabbing someone’s back” – no not the sexual stabbing. It was not until I started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories that I had a totally different view on gossips, and the activities of gossiping. 

Gossip is defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true”. Means, not fact. But what is fact, then?

Here’s what Holmes said about fact ““There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” When the fact that is being dealt with is murky, hazy, such as ghosts? Holmes has this to say on two occasions, if not mistaken, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

There has to be some truth that is the basis for the gossip, those things you have to ‘eliminate’, the untruths. But the husk would not emerge, if there are no hard shells to protect. They say when there is smoke, there must be fire. Likewise, gossips do not stem out of nothing. A supposition, a presumption, some guess work, or random thoughts can push for an embryonic version of the fact. It may not be full born human, but it can be a potential xenomorph. 
Like that baby alien, gossips are harmless as we go down the age group. As schoolkids, gossips are about who smokes after school, or which boy is seeing which girl. We hear, too, about dating teachers. At that stage, no one really gets hurt, except the smoking boy, because gossips can lead to snitching. 

At that stage, facts are those in the text books, newspapers, or whichever your parents say you have to do because, dammit, you shut up and do. Things like, praying or the use of right hand to eat. Facts are so often buried in tradition. Traditions are based on fear. Fear is the weapons of the ruling class. So, we are susceptible to believing anything that is being told to us, no matter how much the original fact has been edited, cut off, modified, re-shot in different location, and have brand new soundtrack in it – its state now has completely deviated from the original script. But we love the end product, its spicier.

The flows of news that may and may not influence our day to day decision making are usually factual, unless they issue an apology note few days later. These would end up in print, or are blared out on audio or visual medium. Other forms of gossips are told in hush noises in kitchen. The former are just that….news, while the latter, no matter how accurate they are, would immediately qualify as gossips. 

Some of these gossips are sold down to the children as cautionary tales. “Aunty X has left Uncle Y because of his drinking. See what drinking does?”. Never mind years later you learn that Aunty X was banging co-worker T, but hey, you were too young to hear that. A made-up story is explained to you, it then became the basis for gossips to follow and circulate among the family members, relatives and then the community of course; and of course, the same gossip will be remembered each passing anniversary of Uncle Y’s suicide.

Of course, not all gossips are bad. In form of rumours, some have saved lives and some, led to catastrophes. 

The best thing about gossip about us is they are kept out of our reach, at best possible way. We are purposedly shielded from it, because people want to be in our good book. Then ones that has stopped talking to you at least has a working conscience. As to being at the receiving end, know this, the gossip monger:
1. - would have told you his or her version, edited it to make him or her look good in the process – you know, the risk taking messenger that they are. In the process, the gossip delivered becomes a heavily modified version when it reaches you. Its like pizza that gets repurposed several times till it finally became dog food. 
2. – is a sadist who gets hard-on (or whichever version of hard-on gals get) looking at the misery and anger, or whichever reaction the receiver gives. It’s cruel, sadistic, disheartening and makes a great reality TV show.

Monday, January 01, 2024

“2024 Year In Review: A Passable Sequel To The 2023 Horror.”


If I were a 19th-century journal keeper, I would have summarised last year as follows:

“….I have still not recoiled from the utter horror as the entire year of 2023 has been nothing more, nothing less than the beastly compilation of innocuous incidents, inevitable expiration of lives, peaked by the tragedy of our premiership that was piloted by mere ambition, not heartfelt desire and drive to drag the countrymen out of the muddy turmoil of financial despair, diseases, and destruction of commercial endeavours. If 2022 ended in the dreaded horror of fatal ailments, this year climaxed with explosive barbaric termination of lives, mature and green, men and women, and hope of humanity drowning amidst the muddy crevices between wheels and tripods of destruction machines. The horror... the horror... the horror..."

Feature Presentations.

Forget the last sentence I wrote in the intro, which I copied directly from Kurtz mouth in Joseph Condrad's book (Heart of Darkness) and my all time favourite flick, Apocalypse Now.

Horror? Was 2023 any better than the dumbass of a year, 2022, which I subtitled as year of diarrhea in my review last year? In many ways, the fear of disease caused by virus towards the end of last year, is replaced by disgust at Zionism towards end of this year - Call me anti-Semitic but I have no idea which is the worst of the two diseases. I am no longer buying Israeli’s victim cry. You see, I am in the midst of reading a huge book on Mossad, its intelligence services centre, which brags about the deftness of the agents and how awesome it is. Oh, how the reputation is going to hit the ground splat like a foiled Wily Coyote.

To cry victim because it didn’t anticipate the October 7th attack sounds phoney to me. I refuse to believe that some agencies have no hand in it and other agencies, especially the Americans which managed to sniff Sadam Hussein out of some god-forsaken hole (they are good at sniffing out holes, all kinda holes, those whacky Americans), did not have anything to prevent this attack. It’s the attack that was motivational enough for Israel to go on bombing spree as they wiped out civilians in Gaza. So the “victim” ended up not only killing Gazans, but….killing their own people as well. Oops, collateral damage. Israel, a mighty military power, is now a Leslie Nielsen flick.

I detect another round of falling empires, namely the US and its boy wonder, Israel, both – its not far off. The superpower bullies days are numbered. But let me go all the way back to January and watch the major foul up (which was the replacement word they used to use to dub f***ed up in an old Steven Seagal flick)

But that’s only a glimpse of the explosive finale for the years. Let’s go back to the beningging, err, beginning.

How do major media view 2023? “The year 2023 was marked by a weak ringgit that plunged through new lows against the US dollar on the back of widening interest rate differential between the overnight policy rate and the federal funds rate. – says The Edge. It’s a business paper, so they either report of hopes or disappointments backed by numbers.

So, let’s drop that and let us have some pinches of optimism. Let’s start with the most important event happened in 2022 in our country, the general election, where Anwar Ibrahim, whom I had dubbed as Political Miss Havisham*, finally got to be our Prime Minister.

Aside: I remember, back in 1994, going to an official function with my uncle, who was an analyst at a think thank that worked for deputy Prime Minister (then) Anwar (the same). So, when Anwar was walking over shaking hands, my uncle said, “you will be shaking hands with the future prime minister”.

I was thinking, yes, just a matter of few years time. How would I ever know that the whole shithouse would go to flame in just five years.

Back to the review.

January arrived with hopes. As when queried by The Malay Mail, Malaysians had stuff like better infrastructure (roads and potholes), better public healthcare, stuff like that. The news piece, however, neglect to mention if those interviewed had tongue firmly planted against the cheek (otherwise, how would they talk), or had their fingers crossed (perhaps fear of losing non-Christian readers).

But dammit, these sort of “wishes” which are actually “self-defeating sadistic hopes” keeps the world running. But everything remains the same.

Take UMNO for example. The once giant of a political party (the Republican, the grand old party, as they say, of our country), has taken beating every other time since ex Prime Minister Najib got off the office. UMNO is not only a shadow of its former self; it has become a parody. A kitsch. Stuff Chaplin forgot to include in his seminal satiric flick The Great Dictator (1940).

So, how do they deal with it? Fire some asses. It was, as reported here, the month where “Umno president and current Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi in one fell swoop expelled or suspended those who had spoken out against his decisions for the party, including his decision to become bosom buddies with the party's long time arch nemesis DAP.”

This means, for years, those who had been supporting UMNO, badmouthing DAP, or basically kicking DAP in the nuts when they are down, are now forced to lick back their spits and rejoice over this great “union”. Many did. Equally many were disgusted.

On the international front, somewhere in April, the world saw the mighty US shoot down....a balloon.

An operation was underway in U.S. territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean to recover debris from the balloon, which had been flying at about 60,000 feet and (I kid you not) was estimated to be about the size of three school buses.”

That is an actual description. Americans who have never embraced the metric system, despite the fact that they have been now been number one superpower in the world for about err...three donkey ages.

Somewhere in May, the United Nations – which has been as useful as sixth finger – declared that Covid was no longer a threat. Many threw away masks that made everyone suspicious of being a snatch thief or molesters (some may actually be rejoiced by the latter), though we were told to throw caution in the wind. We threw the masks.

And guess what? Like all great successful bad movies, the damned virus is making a comeback, right now, as I type this. We love great comebacks, whether its in films, sports or music. But dammit, we ain't gonna welcome the bloody disease that killed millions (almost 7 million now) and help create juicy scandals, even here. But what the hell, Malaysia's top glove manufacturer, err, Top Glove, which saw slump in their glove sales during the non-Covid time, are in for a treat, just like their glory days.

Speaking of comeback story, our PM Anwar got made it to the headlines when reality smacked him in the face like a used condom after all the promises he made, when he had to deal with a student's question on Bumiputera quota system.

Netizens erupted in displeasure dissatisfaction with Anwar’s response . Among others, according to the news report: (Anwar) cut her ...off before she could explain and then said he had already answered a similar question previously..... he said the student should have refrained from discussing the quota system.....He also allegedly criticised the student for being unfair to Bumiputera students in rural schools.”

The student should have known better than to ask question to a man who said that if he (and his party) wins today, the petrol price will go down tomorrow and gave a lame explanation for it. You gotta love that “you fellers are dumber than me” condescending look he had mastered arising from years of self-delusion.

Speaking of “you are dumber than me” demeanour, the world was shocked... oh well, not really, considering that scandals afflicting churches are dime a dozen. But this one, the whole church had to declare bankruptcy, amidst “... potential sexual abuse lawsuits”

According to the linked report, “The Maryland Attorney General’s Office released a 456-page report identifying 158 clergy, teachers, seminarians and deacons who allegedly abused more than 600 minors in the Archdiocese of Baltimore since the 1940s….”

Under the purview of God almighty? Cool.

Speaking of almighty, Tesla faced backlash when the company performed poorly at the stock...oh who am I kidding. No, their bloody car kept catching fire.

I mean, for heaven sakes, look at these headlines:

Though, I must admit that the driver ejected story looks honourable, as if the Tesla sacrificed itself and pushed the driver away heroically.

Speaking of heroes, Britain finally got herself a King. Like Anwar, poor Charles was waiting at the corridor for decades to take over his mother so that he can wear funny clothes.

Apart from being the source for the success of many tabloids, King Charles is an assurance that the citizens feel a lot better if they were to put a dumbass at the throne. Even the coronation was an indication of what is to come, especially when it featured.... the muppets.

Speaking of little ones, India finally became the most populated country in the world, beating China, which had actually start panicking earlier when they knew that the end of the race is near, and no way they are going to compete with the horny Indians. So, they dropped the one child policy, and have adapted three child one. Despite helping to boost the sales of toys and diapers, the people were having none of that. Nobody tells 'em what to do with their privates, so basically the plan failed.

Otherwise, to me, the most significant event of the year has to be the Barbieheimer. Yes, it has its own Wikipedia page. The healthy competition between a live action film about a doll, and the inventor of the nuclear bomb was most unlikely. They got nothing to do with each other, except one was a blonde bombshell and the other was a bomb in shell, and that facilitated the success of both films (the duo ended up in the top ten highest grossing films)

A lot of have happened of course, but I am running out of patience and am just too glad that that year is over. How do I feel about this year? I already put a pix up there. Welcome 2024. Be kind. Keep Tesla and Gaza fire free.

*At least Havisham saved from bad marriage if one existed. Malaysians are not so lucky.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Rest in Peace, Captain!

"Captain" Vijayakanth (1952–2023)


“Captain” Vijayakanth’s passing did not come as a surprise. Not to many, not especially to his fans. The news that he had already passed away was circulating long enough to cry “wolf” that when it actually happenedWhatsApp and other social media-consuming folks had to do something they usually don’t: seek the veracity of the news.

If that is sad, it was sadder still that Vijayakanth had to endure a long health radual decline, fading into the occasional rumour headlines with regards to his health and his being. If it is any consolation, some of his hardest detractors, those who did not see him as having made any good contribution to the film industry, including yours truly, have softened up and started searching for some gold dust, at least in the stream of films he had made over the four decades of career.

Well, he did have a place in the industry, that’s for sure. As himself, Captain, a name he retained after playing the title character in Captain Prabakharan (1991),

In the realms of the Tamil film industry, usually the “TOP TWO” reign as kings of cinema, beginning with P.U. Chinnapa and Thiyagaraja Bagavathar, quickly followed by MGR and Shivaji, and as the bell bottoms showed up, the two had to make way for Rajini and Kamal. Kamal’s disco was MADE for bell bottoms; as dis Rajini"s to help balance that haphazard ball-bearing cracking tun of his. But there ought to be a third force.

This third figure usually lurks, especially during matinee shows, in households with a large family, often entertaining those who don’t care one way or another about the TOP TWO. I tried to search and can’t ascertain who it was during the PUC and Bagahavthar eras. The ChatGPT too threw up its AI hands, saying (I cut and pasted this), “I assume you are asking about the third most popular actor in Tamil cinema after Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and P. U. Chinnappa. Unfortunately, I could not find any reliable information on who that might be.”


But the closest has to be Ranjan, the daredevil, the Errol Flynn wannabe who would have dispatched Baghavatar’s mantle if not for someone else who actually looked like Errol Flynn, downright to the dimple on the chin—MGR. And as Sivaji Ganesan came along just as MGR was rising, the industry knew who the next two were. The fans were not bothered about Bhagavathar's throne; he was in the slammer anyway. During this time, Jai Shankar provided the third option for thrill, danger, and a bit of family action. He basically took over from Gemini Ganesan, who always looked like he’s playing the second fiddle, even if he is a goddamned hero of the flick.

Like Jai Shankar, Vijayakanth was famous for working with and encouraging upcoming directors, introducing them, or giving them some sort of discount, and putting in additional efforts. It can sometimes be quite telling because he hardly seemed to be pushing himself onscreen—just doing some recycled acting and mouthing punch dialogues. Like Rajinikanth, who pursued spiritualism and spent his energy there enough to come off looking like a husk in some of the films he did post-90s, Vijayakanth’s political pursuit deprived the artist in him of more ambitious roles. The tongue-roll-bite antic became an easy mimicry tool for the aspiring impressionists.

So, during the reign of Rajini and Kamal, he was the number three for quite a long time. Some would have their turn, like Mohan, Prabhu, Karthik, and Sathyaraj. But Vijayakanth remained on his middle-level throne. As Tamil film fans are obsessed with their heroes and also need to be saviours off-screen, Vijayakanth had to be content with a double reputation, depending on who you wanna listen to. On the bright side, you have the “good heart" and “charitable” side brands, with many comparing him to MGR. Then, there’s the darker side: alcohol and “easy access to certain pleasures in the industry." side that we don't want to discuss now. But most visible seemed to be the imbibing, which has been denied by his wife, of course. She’s now the general secretary of the party he founded, DMDK. I wonder why. I mean, how?

I personally liked Captain in some earlier films, where he was very effective. His early roles include one in Visu’s Dowry Kalyanam (1983), a film I enjoyed very much as it worked like a thriller (race against time to get resources for girl’s wedding), and Nane Raja Nane Mandhiri (1985), where he excelled in a comic turn as a doofus who has high esteem for himself, pairing with the vivacious Radhika.

He did not push himself in the acting department like Kamal Haasan; he didn’t have an almost mythical presence like Rajini onscreen, but he managed to capture millions of hearts—the early box office proves that. Even in the latter stage, he continued to enthrall his fans, even earning grudging respect from non-fans. Speaking of which, I suggest you guys get hold of Chatriyan (1991), a film directed by K. Shubash, who had just come out of Mani Rathnam’s shadow (perhaps literally) and tried to construct pseudo-Mani lights and shadow pretentious drama but actually ended up making a thrilling cop flick.

And so, rest in peace, Captain. We will remember you, alright. You made your mark. They all may vie to be the next Kamal or Superstar, but your gig is unique. I don’t think that, as far as the Tamil film industry is concerned, there will ever be another Captain.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Indiana Jones and The Dial Of Destiny

Apparently I didn't post this here, found it in my Facebook (July 1st, 2023). That's how insignificant it is. But I better have this here for the record.

*There could be spoilers here*

I'll rank 'em first.

1. Raiders 

2. Crusade

3. Doom

4. Crystal Skull

5. This damned thing.

The film had already been getting bad press post it's Cannes preview despite the "standing ovation" Harrison Ford received. It was, I suspect, for Ford's career ...not for this dull fest of a disappointment.

The "jump the shark" climax was a bit too much for me to take, and I didn't even had any issue with Crystal Skull's alien ending. But man, Archemedes himself, guys?

The first half was good fun, almost classic Indy. Almost. Because the "wit" is missing...that sparkle that can only come from Spielberg/Lucas magic. It's none. Many moments just passed by heavily investing on Ford's frown.... actually, frowniest here. That Indy cleverness is almost none, remember those private moment we have with him where he knows, and we knew, not the other characters, that he's gonna get out of the mess somehow? That silly excitement of anticipation? None.

It's not the age thing. Ford looks great here, and may be shuffling a bit when rushing but for an 80 years old, he's believable during some of the scenes. But those scenes don't work. The action scenes are choppy, lacked the grace, that balletic quality we've always come to associate with these films.

The supporting characters are unmemorable on top of that. There's been complain that Phoebe Waller Bridge who plays Indy's goddaughter sort of overshadowed him...no, thankfully she was less annoying than Mutt character Shia Lebeuf played in Crystal Skull

The third act was a mess...or, I don't know...I got bored and sleepy and it's still morning. The plot involving time travel just drifted pass my consciousness like a harmless domestic fly. I didn't care. And when it happened, it was perhaps one of the worst time travel schtick I had witnessed on big screen (it didn't help that we are getting bored with these time jumping, multi verse thingy).

This movie shouldn't have happened. Not how Indy should end (if indeed that's the case, the hat never get to be hung long). I'd be genuinely surprised if this film make some decent collection.


Monday, December 11, 2023

Napoleon (2023)

More than half a century ago, Marlon Brando played Napoleon in Désirée (1954), a film about Napoleon’s love affair with the title character during the earlier phase of his military career. The film was dull. Worst, Brando was dull and this was during – like Napoleon himself- early stage of his career, the same year he gave his Oscar winning performance for On The Waterfront.

Cut to almost 7 decades later, Ridley Scott made a similar film, focusing on Napoleon’s relationship with Josephine, the marriage and how it fell.

This was reason for the very depressingly slow pace, taking up more than the mid section of the film, the tracing of the trials and the tribulations of their marriage. It could have been terrible if not for Joaquin Phoenix’s wonderful portrayal of one of the greatest military tactician in history.

Ridley Scott managed to get the hit seat after the likes of Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg abandoned plans to make a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte.

His touches can be felt during the battle scenes, something he mastered after the excellent Gladiator (2000), and he pushes the mastery of the craft even further.

Unfortunately there was nothing much he could do with a dull script, filled with duller scenes, dull dialogues that can only spawn dull performances.

Well, not for Joaquin Phoenix though. He walked through it carrying the weight of the world. This is blasphemy, but he was even better, way more effective than Brando

His presence helped me through those scenes. I snoozed twice during Martin Scorsese’s Killer Of The Flower Moon, and that’s my favourite film director. But here the energy Phoenix brought with him reminded me of his performance in Gladiator. I recall hating him after watching that Russell Crowe starrer (also directed by Ridley Scott) only to realise that it was his character that I hated, and that was the power of Phoenix’s acting.

But this film is not Gladiator, doesn’t even have that glowing aura of a saintly hero, because here Napoleon is portrayed from the filter of Shakespearean tragedy. It's also made with a bit of prejudice against France, when the Brits started to control the climax. Scott is a Brit of course and I am not judging here.

The battle scenes, during the opening and before the climax were what we expected from Scott. Violent, brilliantly shot, putting us in the middle of the battlefield with the clarity of knowing who’s who, it was a triumphant filmaking. Alas, those were the best part of the film. I endured the long dull scenes because of Phoenix, and even to some extent Vanessa Kirby who also had to work from the boring pages.

The critics are overall not happy, with 58% rating at Rotten Tomato and meager 6.6 points in IMDB (Vijay films are luckier, with the latest outing getting 7.4…democracy). I have a feeling they might change their minds few years down the road, especially with the 4 hour version prepared for the streaming services.

Matt the Cat And The Vet

  Note:; The poem is my own... the picture, though, was AI prompted. There was once a cat Whose name Matthew or Matt He went to see a vet Co...