Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I've always wished it'll do well but even this caught me by surprise. But extremely pleased, nonetheless.
We're getting there, people.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I was ushered to a seat right in front of center stage (which wasn’t really a stage but a just a mic and a stool) as soon as I arrive. At first I thought it was reserved for writers or more explicably writers who are reading to the audience (already I was letting it go to my head) but when I saw my mother (the only woman in the place wearing a tudung) take the vacant seat next to me, I realized they were just filling in spaces.
Reading his story, currently, is Brian Gomez and he looks exactly like his photo in KLue a while back. Down to his cargo pants, tshirt and army cap. A simple dresser he may seem (as opposed to me, dressed in a sandy taupe Massimo Dutti sweater coupled with a Club Monaco shirt adorned with a black knit tie), I look up to him because he has a published book of his own, Devil’s Place. More so, his discussion on What Do Gay People Eat? is both funny and intriguing.
As Brian finished his reading and returns to his seat, Amir, the host, begin to talk about me and, of course, my father’s name, and why it’s the only reason I was included in the book. I joined in the laughter just to be polite. Seriously, I have been getting that stick ever since that other Nik Abdul Aziz came into power. So you can imagine how friggin’ long that was. It’s like being Paul McCartney and is constantly asked to sing Yesterday. Still, unlike Sir Paul, I’m willing to tolerate it every time I meet new people.
Anyway, I was primed to come up and read my story (which I volunteered for a weeks back, not because I wrote a masterpiece) but since I haven’t got hold of the actual book just yet, I was given a pass to get myself acquainted first with the edited version of The Friendship Dictator.
Taking my place in the meantime is Shanon Shah. I may look up to Brian Gomez, but as far as Shanon is concerned, his accomplishments are the things I can only dream about emulating. He’s a singer, songwriter, he won a Boh Cameronian Arts Award, wrote the successful play Air Con and even has his own Wikipedia entry! And judging by the reading of his essay Muslim 2 Muslim, he is one hell of a writer too. His talk about being different, especially in a Muslim world where the unusual are normally ridiculed and tormented, evokes a deep sense of emotion. Perfect, considering if before I have to upstage Brian Gomez, now I have to upstage Brian and Shanon as well. No pressure, right?
In the end I managed to make it through. Not great but well enough, I suppose. My jokes didn’t work and I even got tongue-tied on my own words. But, hey, there’s a first time to everything.
Another writer, Cheryl, came up to read her piece as well and hers just about ends the reading segment. As a sign-off, Amir announced that they are now planning to create another Body2Body but in BM. So, another open call. Am I up for it? Let’s just finish the day off first.
As everyone start to mingle, Pang (one of the editors) shouted for the attending writers to gather at the end of the room so that anyone who wants their books signed can do so with ease.
So I made way there, thinking how many would actually come up to me and to have their books signed? At least by going up reading earlier they can put a face to my name. Little to my surprise at the end of the room is a long table covered in white cloth with empty seats aligned on one side. This is going to be a proper book signing session! I am gob smacked. Never have I thought I’d be on the opposite side of the queue at a book signing session. This is so exciting! And it gets better. Just as I am making myself comfortable, Shanon Shah pulled a chair and sit right next to me. This is so fucking cool! I wonder if I can ask some tips for the Kakiscript Playwriting Competition.
But the best part of all, he doesn’t carry all this accomplished aura around him. He is really easy to talk to. And, opposite to what he displayed earlier, carrying a serious tone of voice while reading, he is quite a jovial character. At one point, when I realized this is a proper book signing and I don’t have any pen on me, I asked Amir, who happen to walk by, ‘Amir, do you have any pens?’ Know what Shanon say? ‘Kau tanye die ade pens ke tak? Nasib baik die tak bukak seluar,”
Shanon Shah just made a dirty joke at me! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the ultimate ice breaker. Once two strangers share a dirty joke, awkwardness is no longer a possibility. By the way, Amir did hand me a pen. The one you write with, that is.
In between signings and chatting up fans (him: many, me: none), we managed to talk a bit more (and I just want to point out that my story comes right before his so we were like duos in a tennis match, taking turns hitting the ball) and one thing I realize why he is so easy to get along is he reminds me so much of Ikzal. In fact, they are almost exactly the same. If they are both seated side by side, I’d be downright confused. Soon I was giggling thinking about the uncanny resemblance.
After doodle-ing about 30 odd books, I managed to get Brian’s and Shanon’s signature, including Cheryl’s for my own copy (it’ll be priceless!). And as an added souvenir, I received a Seksualiti Merdeka t-shirt from Annexe.
The book is launched, now let the feedback come. That what’s on my mind as I walked back to the Dayabumi car park with a proud mother in tow. That and the new nickname Shanon just gave me.
Anyway, I swear I saw that phrase printed on a food packaging somewhere but now that I think about it, that makes no sense at all. But I do love that phrase. I loved it so much that it stuck with me throughout these years. And I am reminded again of that intriguing phrase today as I am writing this.
I have my kill. It’s there for public viewing. Spread across Kinokuniya, Times and Borders all over the
Ideally, I would have preferred to emerge into the local literature scene with something like My Legendary Girlfriend or I Love You, Beth Cooper. A story about love from a man’s point of view told in an incredibly humorous way. But I guess being one of the 23 contributing writers for an anthology about gay, lesbians and bisexuals in
However, despite whatever minor inhibitions I have about writing for Body2Body, make no mistake I am still damn proud of my work. As I have said before, what I have achieved by just sitting in front of my computer, typing rubbish, for just one whole day (as compared to you office working folks doing it for the whole week) is nothing short of a miracle. And, maybe it won’t be a runaway bestseller like a Harry Potter novel but I do know this – it’s one hell of an important book. Plus, it’s controversial. Really up my alley. Because, seriously people, one thing about controversies, it gets people talking. It elicits response. Even powerful and emotionally charged at times. Nobody remembers what happened at the end of As Good As It Gets. But mention M Butterfly and people will recall. Or Sorority Boys for the younger generation for that matter. It’s how I started out his blog anyway. And how eventually I got myself into trouble. But that’s old news.
But, as I said earlier, The Friendship Dictator (in the end, I couldn’t come up with a better title) is my kill. What next? A natural progression would be to write up some more short stories. I mean, how hard could it be, right? Well, unless you’re me (already I can hear Watai saying, ‘negatif!’). I am much too comfortable with my life. I live in a nice home, I drive a German car. Sometimes I go see a movie, sometimes I go out with friends. Sometimes I go out with even more friends. Sometimes I meet a nice girl. Most of the times they don’t want to meet me. And that’s even before Thursday.
I don’t live in the slums of
Damn, I need to get out more.
The only things I know are football, food and women. Probably in that order too. And what man does not know about football and food anyway? Women? Who are we kidding? I know jackshit about women. What man does?
So, in the meantime, while I seek around, if possible, for new ideas for my own anthology (cewah berangan), tell me what you think about The Friendship Dictator.
At stores near you!
BODY 2 BODY: A MALAYSIAN QUEER ANTHOLOGY is in limited release. More than 100 Malaysian shops that normally stock Matahari Books titles will NOT be carrying it. Because this is a special book that, erm, deserves special treatment :-)
Let's support the 4 shops that have it right now:
1. Kinokuniya KLCC, in the Social Science section (Tel: 03 2164 8133)
2. Times Pavilion (Tel: 03 2148 8813 )
3. Times Bangsar Shopping Centre ( Tel: 03 2095 3509 )
4. Silverfish Bangsar ( Tel: 03 2284 4837 )
As well as these 6 that will be stocking it in the next few days:
5. Borders The Curve (Tel: 03 7725 9303)
6. Borders Berjaya Times Square ( Tel: 03 2141 0288 )
7. Borders The Gardens (Tel: 03 2287 4530)
8. Borders Tropicana ( Tel: 03 7727 9203 )
9. Borders Queensbay Mall, Penang (Tel: 04 646 8758 )
10. Bookzone Penang ( Tel: 04 226 5585 )
Please call ahead to make sure it's in stock, and reserve if you wish. You can cite the title or the ISBN: 978-983-43596-9-0 .
If you want to be absolutely certain of getting it, you can order online from Kinibooks:
Kinibooks is run by Malaysiakini, an organisation whose take on expressive freedom I find more agreeable than the stance taken by, erm, some actual bookshops.
By contrast, it will be more widely available in Singapore from next week. It's primarily the Singapore orders that have ensured that the book goes into its 2nd print next week.
For those outside the region, there's Amazon:
Thank you for your support lah :-)
Friday, August 07, 2009
In Down To Earth, when Lance Barton’s life was taken a slight too soon by an incompetent angel, Heaven agrees to give Lance another body to continue his life on earth. The body is one of a wealthy but greedy, old white man. The thing is, Lance was played by Chris Rock. And he’s an aspiring comedienne.
One of the first things he did with his newfound wealth is to buy a small comedy club where he can practice his materials every single night. And this is where I thought, why don’t we have anything similar here in KL? Not the rich, old guy thing but the small comedy club scene. And it soon became one of my life’s ambitions to check out one of these establishments myself if I ever get the chance to travel abroad. To this day, the farthest I ever got was to Gold Coast. Not exactly a renowned comedy scene. Plenty of dolphins and koalas but not so much in the form of Russel Peters in sight. Besides, I went there on a family vacation. The wildest night time activity was going doner-kebabing. For take away. From a middle-eastern eatery right across the street opposite the hotel entrance where we were staying. The meat was wicked.
Anyway, not all is lost, because comedy has finally found its way here! Yeay! I should probably wish for a strip joint to be establish here too. Who knows maybe that will also come true. I’m thinking Lorong Haji Taib.
Anyway, back to comedy. Thanks to my new fav local mag, Time Out KL, I was made aware that we do have our own comedy scene right here and it’s been around for more than a year now. My first show was coincidentally their 1st anniversary and I was quite lucky as they were having a special night and they have 8 comediennes to perform that evening (it’s usually 5 or 6 at most). For 10 bucks, that’s one hell of a bargain. Even the likes of Douglas Lim and Harith Iskander were among the attending crowd that night. So you can imagine this is something promising going on here. And that’s why I haven’t missed a show yet. Even if one time it did cost me a photo opportunity with Yuna. But I’ll op for Yuna the next time around.
But, as with any shows, you tend to have a bad one once in a while. Like last night, for instance. It wasn’t really disastrous but it did lack the usual energy. But you have to give them some credit. Most of them are first-timers and amateurs. It really takes some guts to go up on stage and try to make people laugh. Comedy is tough, man. Jerry Seinfeld said that.
I felt sorry for Davina. She’s Miss FHM September 09 and the only female comedienne of the Comedy Thursday scene (apparently, she’s a little loony too). Last time she was on was during the 1st year anniversary and she was quite good that time. She talked about the calendar photo shoot and how fake she looked from the end result (she looks to possess the smoothest arm pit ever!) and it’s always an interesting subject to discuss. Especially when you have a large male crowd. But her horoscope angle last night did not hit off quite as well. But, come one, she’s miss September. She could just stand there just holding the mic doing nothing (which she did for a few times) and still be pleasing to the eye even if only dressed in a pair of sneakers, cargo pants and hoodie.
But there were a few lifesavers yesterday. Notably Jimmy North, a Canadian expat with an American accent and just loves life in KL. He performed his updated version of his ‘I Hate
And the always funny Kavin and his legendary curry-flavored condom story. He found it being sold out of a vending machine at the airport the first time he landed in
Apart from the TOKL organized show, we have something called the The Comedy Club KL which came up recently. Now this is the more pimped up version of stand-up comedy. No first timers here. Only well established comediennes are invited to perform and, yeah, mostly from abroad. So, no 10 bucks entry charge. More like RM50 plus. But guaranteed laughs. I haven’t tried this yet. But maybe soon enough. Like TOKL’s, their shows are monthly and held towards the end of the month as opposed to TOKL’s early month trend.
Truth be told, KL is still light years behind the likes of
Just another thing to do in KL. Oh, by the way, I drove there last night and the show ended at half past eleven.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
I have been frequenting Time Out KL’s Comedy Thursday for the past few months. I mean, 10 bucks for a good 2-hour of stand-up? Who wouldn’t mind that? Especially in these dire times.
It’s held the first Thursday of every month and their previous ‘homeground’ has been Little Havana at Changkat Bukit Bintang. But since Little Havana are going under new management and a considerable amount of renovation at the same time, TOKL has moved its comedy nights to the Velvet Underground at Zouk.
Now, I know the Changkat area so I’m familiar with the sweet and free parking spots. For Zouk, on the other hand, I have never been to the damned place. They never had anything that really made me want to check it out over there. Until last month that is. Since I have no clue where the parking lots are (and if I do, they’d probably cost me another tenner at least) and one could only imagine what the traffic is like at that part of Jalan Ampang at around 9 pm Thrusday evening. It’d be hell.
So, I thought, why not go there by train and just walk the distance? It’ll be night time anyway so it’ll be pleasant. I figured they would end right before midnight so that would provide me ample time to hop on the last train home. Sounds like a plan, eh?
As it turns out, as I expected, the traffic was nightmare and I, for once, am glad to be on the sidewalk making considerable pace compared to those in the cars. And it was a pleasant walk. It was cool, a little breezy. A bit deafening from the traffic noise but all was well. Even Zouk turned out to be a very nice place. Velvet is certainly cozy. The air-conditioning was well ventilated. Plush cushions everywhere. And a lot roomier too than Little Havana. I didn’t have people brushing against my shoulder every 2 minutes.
And the show? Well, let’s just say if there ever was a Papi Zak fan club, I would very much like to sign up.
But this when things start to become rather askew. Despite it says 9 pm as starting time, Matt Sully (the host) only came on stage a quarter before 10. That it turn push the end time a little beyond midnight and that means train services has ended for the day.
Like it or not, I had to get a cab, at double rate since it’s past midnight, but couldn’t get all the way home because I had to pick up my car at Taman Melati. So instead of saving a few quid on petrol and traffic headache, I ended up spending more than if I had bothered to drive myself all the way to Zouk and pay the damn inflated parking charges!
Well, today is another brand new Thursday of a new month and it’s at Velvet again. Would I go? Haven’t decided yet. But if I do, I’m certainly not going there by train.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The verdict came from the Short + Sweet people a few weeks back. My 10-minute play didn’t make the cut. Naturally I was disappointed. Even though I know, even at the structural level, the script had telling flaws. I guess Steve Coogan was right when he said in Hamlet 2 – writing is so hard! But, again, it was a last minute effort. I can’t help it. It’s hard-wired into my brain. This time it was even worse than the Body2Body episode. At least, back then, significant progress can be seen 4 days before the deadline. This time however, 4 hours before submission time and I was still staring at a blank screen! You have no idea how tempting it was just to give it all up during those final edgy moments. But I couldn’t have forgiven myself if I did. And so, I trudged on. Albeit unsuccessfully. At the very least, I gave it a shot. If this was kindergarten, I would have received a participation trophy.
However, looking back, maybe it was a good thing my script was unsuccessful. A kind of blessing in disguise. Just like when Iniesta scored that injury time winner. Shit, that still hurts.
Anyway, Lady of the Evening (which is a rubbish title, by the way), should it had been accepted, I think would have driven my complacency level to an all-time high. Look what Celebrating A Birthday (the Body2Body title) did to me. Since those so-called final hours before deadline, I haven’t written anything worth reading. Anything! Or, as Davina Goh would put it – I got jackshit! At least, after this S+S setback, I managed to write a decent history for Incarnation’s press kit. It wasn’t a classic but still there are a few nice touches in there. And, c’mon, it’s a press kit. It’s dope.
As for future endeavors, well, for starters I need to come up with a better title to replace Celebrating A Birthday. The Matahari people think it’s too generic. A fair argument considering I came with it in under two minutes. It’s definitely not Love in the Time of Cholera.
So, they came up with a few alternatives. They are Segregated, The Party Addict and (their favorite) The Friendship Dictator. First of all, ‘Segregated’ reminds me of the movie Partition which tells the story during the difficult period when Pakistan was separated from mainland India and starred an incredibly smoking hot Canadian.
Still, it’s a sad story and I do not do sad stories. Or anything that reminds me of it.
The Party Addict, on the other hand, suggests a bucketload of joy. Problem is, it sounds too much like a Candace Bushnell title. I enjoyed SATC but chic lit isn’t the kind of theme I’m aiming for here.
As for Friendship Dictator, well, the word ‘dictator alone conjures up images of Mussolini and that German guy with a funny moustache.
Bottom line is I hate all of them. None of them carry the right message that I want to portray. First of all it’s supposed to be kind of funny which makes the use of negative words in the title a big turn off for me. And it’s also about friendship, loyalty and some of the outrageous things that can go on when a group of 20-something friends get together on a Saturday night. Although, I’ll admit Celebrating a Birthday does sound generic. But the absence of an alternative title really bugs me down. And it does boil down to me. The Matahari people have 20 other stories to worry about. It is up to me to save Bianca and her buddy friends.
Bianca is my female protagonist. Although not clearly defined, when you do finally read about her, imagining her as a somewhat Chritina Ricci lookalike wouldn’t hurt.
As for a reminder, Body2Body will be launched sometime in August. Let me repeat that: A-U-G-U-S-T. Even though I do appreciate the support of friends who continually asking me the same question every time I see them, please, ask me again in one and a half months time. Especially Najmi. Dah, jangan ang dok tanya aku lagi.
Apart from that, well, let’s solve this first. My brain is beat. Forcing oneself to be witty tend to do that. Writing is SO HARD!
Monday, May 18, 2009
There was a moment in time when I thought this will be the last time I’ll be writing about her. I’m moving on. There are certainly far more beautiful women out there. And they are. Example in point, the hot chick from Mawar’s birthday party years back. Of course, I forgot her name but, damn, what a rack!
Yet, here I am, late into my twenties, reminiscing about her, putting it into words, again. Haven’t I learnt my lesson? Will I ever move on? Hopefully, yes. Because if this is not closure, then I don’t know what is. It’ll be the perfect transition from hopeless romantic to creepy stalker. Not that’s anything new. Especially when Ellie comes to mind.
As to how much it hurts, well, I have been through worse. Whether that’s a good thing or not, it’s kind of like Darth Maul’s lightsaber – double edged. But the fact that it did, still surprised me. Even if it is was just a little twang. But, in a way, it did call for it. Considering the significance of the news and the fact that I did not heed any sort of warning. I think the denial part of me may have something to do with that. But, if I had to do it all over again, I’ll do the exact same thing. Men~.
The wedding reception will be held in Kedah, of course. The one I’m invited to anyway. But, Kedah? That is way up north. Waaay up. I know I’ve been to KB and Segamat on the same weekend for the same purpose of weddings but that’s for bros. Bros are always before hoes. However, an awesome did come to me. Well, it was her suggestion really when I gave her a call. Yes, I gave her a call. And I was totally cool being ‘just friends’ and all. I even cracked jokes about her fiancé. See how awesome I was? Could you see Vince Vaughn doing that to Jennifer Aniston? You’re right, he probably did. Point is, when you talk about Kedah, a boat trip away is that magical place called Langkawi. And so, why not? In the afternoon, you go to the wedding, dress properly, put on a happy face, say your congratulations although deep inside you wonder, what if that had been me on the pelamin? But then, you look up towards the sky, and slightly angled your head eastwards and you imagine the half-naked tourists sunbathing on the beach and thinking, in a few hours I could be on that beach, in my shorts and sunnies, sipping a cool drink watching the sunset. And this, I believe, is what we call a ‘what-up?’ moment.
Now, I need to pitch this idea to Tompok.
Oh, by the way, the chick with the nice rack at Mawar’s party? I think her name is Lynn.
Or it could’ve been Syikin.
Nah, it’s definitely not Eiwa.