Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Sense Of Humour

I have a new theory. If you are fat and lazy like me, with no sign of doing anything that even resembles physical activity as of late, and then forced to run for 2.4 km out of the blue (up and down a hill if I might add), here me this. It will take you approximately 4 to 5 days for your calves to stop hurting and allow you to start walking normally again. Believe me, this theory is supported by an unwillingly done experiment recently. We spared no expense (just to quote Sir Richard Attenborough).

The question is, why in the world was I being made to run 2.4 km up and down a hill a few days ago? Or why was I dressed in a shirt and tie on a Sunday morning? Preaching about fog lights to an audience of about 20 people, which I guess mostly have no idea what fog lights are in the first place? Knowing very well indeed that I was up until 4 am the previous night celebrating Italy’s qualification to Euro 08 (unlike England! HAHAHAHAHA!!) alongside a girl named Ilyana, who happens to have very nice calves by the way, and as such to have a public speaking session the very next morning was probably not in my best interest. Then again, at the same time, it’s a session that I could not afford not to do well. But, in the end, it was all irrelevant really because when it comes to public speaking, I am a god. I was a god back then during orientation week at UTP and I am still am a god today, even better, judging by my performance last Sunday. It was the running part that I’m worried about. I think it is one of those karma things. The balance of nature, as they say. I’m particularly gifted in standing in front of an audience and captivating them even when the topic at hand is largely nonsensical but I turn absolutely horrid when it comes to physical endurance. But looking on the bright side is that I can do something about it. Kind of like that car bumper sticker. ‘I’m fat and you’re ugly but at least I can diet!’ Yes, ‘diet’. To me that’s a four letter word. I’m much more comfortable with the ‘f’ word. ‘Food’.

But of course, we are not going to talk about dieting or on how to stay healthy. Hell no. You have channel 733 for that. I have no intention of becoming the next Richard Simmons. Nor are we going to talk about what the hell I was referring to about all that running and public speaking I had to do. That, as in the words of Mr. Black, ‘will be divulged in good time’. Truthfully, what went on and its significance of it, is part of an ongoing process. Upon a successful completion, all matter will be revealed. If the outcome, however, turn unsuccessful, well then, I’m afraid you have to ask me in person the next time you see me, to get clarification, if you’re still interested at the point, you busybodies.

What we are going to talk about today is women. Ah yes, the primary purpose this blog ever made to live in the first place. For the sake of variety, I have written on diverse topics ranging from music, movies and even politics in the past. But nothing gives me more pleasure than talking about women. Not even football. Because women are such mysterious creatures to us men. Which leads to many sorts of questions and assumptions that may never see the end of it. And I hope we don’t ever. The mystery of it all has what kept it interesting all this while. I hope we continue to be baffled by a woman’s antics and their impalpable explanations. Because should we ever understood women and cracked one of the wonders of the universe, what happens next? What fun left to pursued and pondered? Nothing. And that is a very unnerving thought. But that is highly unlikely to happen anyway because you know why? Women themselves don’t know they are a mystery. As we, I reckon, as much of a mystery to them. Thus the search will continue in an infinite loop.

It is with this theme of opposing sides of man and woman that I want to approach the topic of sense of humor.

Now, we all know there is a wide range when we talk about humor. Every person out there belongs to a group of funny people or not so funny people, subjectively. And we tend to talk less to the unfunny people, again, subjectively. Especially the unfunny people who think they are funny. Faking a laugh can be so demeaning.

Then we integrate the question of gender. Take me for example. I’m a bloke who enjoys a certain type of humor. Then I meet another bloke who enjoys another type of humor. A type that thinks the resemblance of my name to the AF4 winner is something he finds amusing. To me such a comment just bordering on plain insulting. Chances are I would never speak to him again, ever. Surely I do not need another AF fan in my life, thank you very much. I would move on, end of story, and the thought would never bother me again. That, however, will all change should the subject turns out to be an incredibly attractive woman. An incredibly attractive woman who you want to know better of. Now, the tables are turned.

To be fair, men and women never quite enjoy the same kind of humor to start off with. But when multiple surveys that been done identified a sense of humor as one of the leading traits women look for in a man, then, gentlemen, I think it’s time we learn to adapt. But it’s going to be quite tricky.

Basic rules are, men love dirty jokes and women don’t. Well, maybe except during pajama parties. Even then, they still talk about fashion and shopping. Humor stems from the conversations we have. How else do you think we can come up with so much sex jokes?

To encroach the realms of the women psyche when it comes to funny things, you have to adjust and in most cases lower down your expectations for amusement. In other words, you have to be less funny if you want to talk to them and be annoyingly charming. And laugh at lesser jokes. This is the price you have to pay in order to gain the prize at stake. Which is, to score! Haha! But seriously, that is one way to look at it. But in general, if you want to talk to women by being friendly and funny, you can’t share the same jokes you have with your mates. Do that and they’ll automatically brandish you as rude. And we all know how women tend to forgive but never forget.

This revelation first occurred to me when I entered university. Something I wished I had experienced earlier on so I can come across this adaptability theory much sooner. But you know how it was. All male boarding school sort of thing. Which is good in a lot of sense, just not when it comes to the art of approaching women. But anyway, I began to grasp the concept much more vividly as time went on at the university. Which also pretty much explain my loath towards AF jokes, but that’s a different story. Women just seem to define humor in a different way than men do. And some of the jokes I’ve heard during one of those group conversations where women dictate play were, well, boring. And distasteful. Which I later realized why some of the guys I’ve met insisted on continuously being unfunny. They have been unconsciously brainwashed by the women they had intentionally intended to pursue. And some of them never recover. Poor people. They have become a mockery and don’t even realize it.

But not all women are like that. Some do share the same sense of humor like us men. I know I have my share bit. And if you do find someone like that and you fancy her, better make those intentions clear early on. If you decide to become friends be aware that that is a one way road. You could bring up the idea of romance later on but that is just unwise. Because ,one, you are boring, and two, you have to make it work. Because if you don’t, it’s not you, but your mutual friends will suffer. Just look at Ross and Rachel. When they broke up, who do you think had the worst bit? It was Joey, Chandler, Monica and Phoebe. While those two were bad mouthing each other, the rest had to be nice to both of them no matter what or how awkward. That is why falling in love with your friends is generally a bad idea. Which is why I was quite relieved when Kabi and Regina eventually tied the knot.

Anyway, coming back to the topic of humor, point is if you expect to find Mrs Right who would agree with you that Jackass is one of the top 10 movies of all time, be prepared to be disappointed. And even you already have this different mindset, adjusting your level of humor is easier said than done. I tried this too, a few weeks back, during Menon’s little BBQ party at his house. He had a few chicks coming in and they were quite the eye candies. Bubbly personalities, smell absolutely wonderful, flowing hair, simply a treat. I was typically excited. Then I was invited for a game of Taboo with them and I thought, well, this is a wonderful opportunity to get to know them better. And so I sat with them and started playing the game, which slowly turn into a bout of torture.

The things that find to be funny were just so unfunny to me. I couldn’t exactly recall what they were but I can remember being pretentiously amused by their banter. I was caught off-guard and stuck right in the middle of it. Fortunately the arrival of my SASOB mates gave me enough reason to flee the scene. And just in time too because Waris had joined in and there is no way I was going to drop to his level. I rather spent time with the boys than with a group of lovely girls. How wrong could that ever sound? The problem was not the girls because, honestly, I have heard worse sense of humor, but the act of lowering my amusement level was just too much to bear. Comedy is pretty much my life. To tone it down is like asking Messi to dribble less. It’s unheard of. And that experience has left me scarred and worried because I thought, was this the situation? I nearly wrote about that but thankfully didn’t at that time because something told me there was more to this. And rightfully so.

Last week I was invited to Hani’s surprise birthday party for Watai and it was such a blessing. For reasons, one, I now know that Kme has the capabilities to make a decent Tiramisu and two, there are still interesting women out there who do share our sense of humor. Maybe less perfume and not so flowing hair but still, a joy to get acquainted nonetheless. And to have met such an astonishing creature such as Ilyana who shares the same passion as me for the Italian football team was certainly an added bonus. I just hope Hani doesn’t get a hold of this. She might get the right ideas.

To sum it all up, it’s basically this. Men are just funnier than women.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Sound of Empire

I went to Tower Records the other day just to check out what’s new on the shelf. There’s Spears’ Blackout, Lopez’s Brave but none really interests me to actually to pay money for any of those. Until, my eye caught on an Empire Records Soundtrack CD. Now, for those of you who haven’t heard of Empire Records, shame on you because it is one of best movies you could watch growing up as a teenager. It is Liv Tyler’s breakout movie and it has an awesome soundtrack. I bought one, years ago and it was, is, in cassette form. I still have it. Problem is, how to play it considering the digital age nowadays? So when I saw the CD version in front of my eyes that day, I just knew I had to have it. Who knows when will be the next time I find another one.

So, I placed the CD on the counter to be paid while delighting myself with the thought of reliving my teenage years when interjectedly,

“Dah last one ni,” the cashier dude behind the counter suddenly voiced his opinion to me.
“Hmm?” Say what, dude?
“Tak tau dah mane nak dapat lepas ni,” his eyes pointing at the CD
A Tower dude acknowledges my purchase. Obviously, he knows about Empire Records. And his reaction just made me feel so cool. I rule!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Sister In Law

I think it’s time I deliver on my promise and due to some insistence from my advent readers (you know who you are), here’s my sister-in-law – in pictures:

This was right after the akad nikah.

As they made their way to the wedding hall.

This is her at work. Well, this was actually at Stockholm during one of her business trips. As if there is such a thing. She's the one sitting right in the middle.

And this, apparently, what flight attendants do on long-haul flights.

Well, Definitely Not This

By some freak of nature I somehow caught some of the highlights of today’s UMNO General Assembly earlier and there was this woman, a Wanita UMNO delegate who goes by the name of Zaleha Hussin vented her displeasure on Air Asia because the skirts of their stewardesses, in her opinion, is too short. Now, I don’t want to sound harsh but those comments are just plain stupid. Oh yes, there’s no two way about it. It was just stupid. You have the Prime Minister and his ministers in the hall with you, listening, plus extensive media coverage and all you can think about to say at an important assembly such as this is the uniform policy of a company? Are you missing a brain?

There it was a huge opportunity to address crucial issues to the people that matter (i.e. our leaders) and she decided to talk about skirts? How was this supposed to serve the betterment of UMNO? How does the length of an Air Asia stewardess’ skirt has any bearing on my life as a Malay? Okay, to be fair, let’s just say she gets her wishes and all the female flight attendants of Air Asia are required to wear long skirts. What then? Does achieving that lowers the crime rate? Does it help in curbing inflation? Does it enable more children to go to school? No, no and no. As like other private companies, Air Asia sells a product. And it’s not compulsory for you to buy it. So, if you don’t like the packaging, then here’s a tip, don’t buy it! Seriously, ride a bus, drive, something. It’s not as if Air Asia is being funded by UMNO anyway.

Can you see now the reason why young people couldn’t be bothered by politics nowadays? It’s because it baffles us why such ridiculous figures are given the chance to speak at such a momentous event when clearly the person lacks the competence. It’s an embarrassment, for crying out loud! And people like these won’t stop at that. After this I’m pretty damn sure she’ll find other petty and totally irrelevant issue pertaining to her job to complain about. Please, we are far more intelligent than this. And we deserve to hear better. This is the voice of the youth. Power to the people!

What's The Story?

Much time has passed, and yet I have absolutely no idea what my first book will be about. And the sad thing is, the only viable topic I’m pretty sure I’m good at is love. I don’t know much about courtroom dramas like John Grisham. I don’t have the advanced technical know-how of modern day science to be like Michael Crichton. And I don’t have extensive travelling knowledge to have my leading characters running through Europe to elude from a bunch of hired assassins like Sidney Sheldon. And not to mention heroines. Definite no no. It’s A GUY Thing, remember people?

On the other hand, have you visited the local bookshops these days? They actually have TWO sections for romance novels. One is Romance and the other is Chic Lit. They are both basically the same thing just the covers carry a different theme. The former is slight pornography and the latter decorated with a touch of humour. Women humour, that is. You know, things like ‘how my boyfriend dumped me and now I’m making apple pies’ those kinds of things. Or something along the lines to suggest utter hopelessness, a slightly pathetic life but sprinkled with a dash of wit to go along with it. And that what normally goes around my head as I went about exploring for ideas. Time and again a thought will occur and I’ll automatically go, ‘Oh, that would make one hell of a love story’ and then I’ll immediately go, ‘Damn it!’ because I know such thought are potentially fruitless. Every angle of a love story has been told one way or another. Or almost. Why do you think Titanic was a huge success? It offered a new setting for a love story. Against the backdrop of a sinking ship. A famous at that too, and it helps. And the hero dies in the end. Remember when I talked about tragic endings? See my point now? People haven’t seen anything like that before. And it showed through the box office. Then they made Pearl Harbour and it fell apart. Didn’t somebody tell these people the formula doesn’t necessarily work twice?

So, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that I have nothing! Absolutely nothing for my novel! If only I could emulate Jerry Seinfeld. He made 60 million dollars last year for his show about nothing. And the show has ended since 1998. (Yes, I too watch E!). Well, isn’t that nice? 60 million dollars for nothing.

Initial stages and already I’m facing a huge bump.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hidup, Cinta & Inspirasi

Quick question: what is currently the hottest show in town? If you’ve guessed P. Ramlee The Musical then you’ve got it right. Its final show is scheduled tomorrow, November 3rd. If it’s unlikely for you to catch the show, then, I’m sorry. But it is with delight to say I am one of the few lucky ones who have managed to do so.

‘How was it?’ , you may ask as that is the first question I usually get every time I tell people I saw it last Saturday. And that , to me, is the quintessential question of all.

The truth is it all depends on your expectations. Not in terms of quality but in terms of content. The full title is P. Ramlee The Musical…The Life, The Loves and the Inspiration. And what it is about is it tells the story of the actual man. His trials and tribulations that he had to endure throughout his career set against a musical backdrop. In other words, most of the songs performed were written by the songwriters of the show to accommodate the life’s journey of P.Ramlee. If you had expected to see another virtuoso performance by Datuk Siti Nurhaliza then you will be disappointed, like my grandmother, because the songstress was only allotted one song. And if you expected a continuous flow of P. Ramlee’s classic ballads such as Getaran Jiwa, Tunggu Sekejap or Engkau Laksana Bulan, then you too will be disappointed, like my mother, because none of them were existent. Well, except for Engkau Laksana Bulan which did manage a small preview. If you are like me, then chances are you’ll enjoy it. Because, well, I’ll admit one of the main factors I went to see the show because I wanted to see Siti perform live as I never had the opportunity before. And in that sense, I wasn’t disappointed. We all hear lots of gossips and hearsays about her private life which may or may not be true but in the end, the sole reason why she is still considered Malaysia’s most popular celebrity is that when it matters, she delivers. And that matter is singing on stage - live. And it’s true when people say that she sounds exactly as she is on her CDs. That woman’s voice is phenomenal. And you can hear that quality by the slight tingle at the end of her every pitch. One song it was but I can fully understand why my grandmother was very displeased by that fact. The other reason on why I rather enjoyed myself that night was that in terms of content, I wasn’t really expecting anything apart from a good show. I just opened my heart and views to be mesmerized. And I tell you what, I should do that more often.

One thing I love about the show is that as part of the younger generation, I learnt a lot about P. Ramlee the man. We all know about the movies and the songs, and P. Ramlee the celebrity, you might say. But the only love life I knew he had, before this, was with Saloma. But as it turns out, Saloma was already his third wife. Through the show I got to know that Azizah was his first love and although they never got married, the song ‘Azizah’ he wrote became his breakthrough hit. And there’s his first wife, Junaidah. The second, Norizan, and finally his third Saloma. He had to endure three heartbreaks and two divorces on order to gain what he had achieved. It was a story of a man who sacrificed a lot in order to devote his life to the art he cherishes and loves. It was pretty sentimental. And along the way (although I’m not sure whether these are true or not) it showed when the inspiration behind some his most popular songs came from. ‘Engkau Laksana Bulan’ was written during his happier times with Norizan (this is what I meant by ‘small preview’ as a sketch was shown him writing the song at his piano) and ‘Di Mana Kan Ku Chari Ganti’ was after he and Norizan decided to call it quits. Actually lots of his success came during his time with Norizan. At the peak of his career, Penarik Becha, Nujum Pak Belalang, Sarjan Hassan were all made during that period. Sadly, it also spelt his demise when it comes to his personal life. It was the classic case of neglect and loneliness for Norizan. She had no choice but to leave.

As for the casting, well, Siti’s performance as Azizah was satisfactory, I guess. As I mentioned, her singing is her piece de resistance. And it was good to see Melissa Saila back in the limelight. And I couldn’t believe how absolutely gorgeous she looks despite being married with two kids. But somehow the bitchy Norizan character doesn’t really fit her well. As for both Liza Hanim and Sean Ghazi, well, for them I reserve my best compliments. Liza Hanim was absolutely spot on as Saloma. The baju kebaya with the big sunglasses pose was hauntingly accurate. As for Sean Ghazi, first of all I do feel sorry for him because P. Ramlee is a subject nearly all Malaysians are familiar with. The way he speaks, the way he moves, the way he sings, his voice, his jokes, everyone has his or her own view of it. For that, it is nearly impossible to ask someone to play him on stage. It’s a huge undertaking. But at the same time, I don’t think there’s anyone out there right now who could portray the man as well as Sean Ghazi. And that is that best compliment I could give the man. It was largely evident during the re-enactment of the dancing in the park scene taken from Seniman Bujang Lapuk where Ramlee and Saloma sang Gelora. The scene where Ramlee got beaten up by Sharif Dol in the end.

P.Ramlee : Ini Ramlee. Samseng kampung…kampung…kampung apa ni?
Saloma : Entah.
P.Ramlee : Ha Kampung Entah, tapi samseng macam kau jugak.

And Sudin and Aziz came to his rescue after he lay there unconscious afterwards and had dinner then and there with some bread and curry as a group of friends. Okay I’m straying here, point is Sean and Liza did brilliantly well in recreating that scene. It was like taken straight from the movie, only it was in real life. And the singing was an uncanny resemblance. Ooooo bahagia~ Ooooo kakanda~ Ooooo adinda~. It was a performance to behold.

Overall, I think, when considering the message the producers of the show are trying to deliver, the show is best intended for the younger audience. The older generation already lived through his era and know everything there is to know about P Ramlee, and just came to the show for some good entertainment. But as a young adult, I was quite inspired by the life of P. Ramlee. Not the singer, not the actor or the director, but the man. The struggling young artist from Penang, the husband and as the artist who would give everything to better the art of film-making in the country. In a way, his life story reminds me of Charlie Chaplin’s. Both are geniuses on the silver screen and yet so much hardship they had to overcome to become the icons they are today. I am not involved in the entertainment business but even I am inspired by the story of the man. And it should bode well for the current young and aspiring film-makers. Unfortunately though, when I first arrived at the lobby area of Istana Budaya that night, it was like scene from Datin Diaries (for this, I would like to thank Watai for introducing that sappy TV show to me for if not, I don’t know what to compare the scene to). All the mak datins were there. With their oversized jewelries, coloured hair and the occasional pretty boys. It was pity the ticket price is little on the expensive side and isn’t actually affordable for the people that would most benefit from. But, to be fair, the show was made on a grand scale. I imagine to get Datuk Siti on stage alone cost a significant amount of the budget. And it isn’t as if they could run the show concurrently on 4 other different venues like movies do. On a side note, I did share the floor that night with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, among the audience. Again, I reiterate my comment that this show wasn’t exactly meant for the masses although it is unfair to associate such a view with regards to his Royal Highness.

As a closing story, funny thing happened when I came to pick up the tickets for the show, which was right before I went to Cameron. Parking space were very limited as usual as I guess the cast and crew were still having practices during the day time. But somehow, I managed to get this nice recently vacated spot near the entrance. After getting the tickets and came back a few minutes later, I saw an E46 estate hovering around, like I was earlier, looking for a parking spot too. He saw me walking towards the car so I guess he figured out I was leaving and decided to wait me out. As I walked by his car, even though he was wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses, I could swore I recognized the face and in particular that jaw line. I maybe wrong but I was willing to bet that the man behind that wheel that day was none other than Sean Ghazi himself.

And with that bombshell, I bid you goodbye for now and join me again, next time. Cheers.