Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Finale

In a few hours 2008 will be over. As such this is an almost guaranteed last post of the year. Unless some shit happens and I’m stuck here in front of the PC without any plans unlike some people who went to Langkawi without telling others!

Anyway, looking back at 2008, I had one simple resolution. Nothing difficult like losing weight (although, after an appointment with my physician this afternoon, I think that what she was pushing me towards for). I would have liked to have a trip abroad with my friends. No girls, just the boys. And it doesn’t have to be Europe or anything. Indonesia or Thailand would be superb enough. Strangely, it never happened. The opportunity never came. Truth be told, I’m quite gutted actually. We’re only talking about a 5 days 4 nights trip. Nothing too ambitious. You wanna talk ambitious? A roadtrip across seven states throughout the Peninsular in under two days. Oh yeah. That we did. But that’s another story. Something I don’t think can be bettered anytime soon.

I did have an overseas trip this year but it was with my family. Don’t get me wrong, it was good considering it was the first time I get to use my passport in the last 5 years. I get to hug a koala and went on a coaster ride that accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 2 seconds. But every time we went back to the hotel, I have to pretend that I didn’t notice the strip club situated right across the street opposite the hotel’s entrance. Without a doubt, if I was with the boys, that would be the first place we’d check out. And the night after that. And the night after that. And be seriously broke afterwards.

Which is why for 2009, I am determined to make this trip a reality. That’s right! All in the name of strippers! Although, I must admit, having the same resolution as the previous year does sound unimaginative. Maybe I should lose some weight. Riiight.

Well, I’ll think of something. In the meantime, the awesome all boys trip and, with any luck, strip club visit included. And I have to put up my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition calendar. Ah, the year looks promising already.

Happy 2009, people. And be naughty about it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reborn Is Rather Rubbish

This Reborn Adidas thing is almost a scam. First of all, a pair for a pair. Not two old pairs for a new one with a RM100 reduction price like I was previously hoping for And that new one has to be priced at least RM 250. If not, they don’t qualify for the campaign. Which brings the question, what kind of shoes that costs more than RM250 a pop? Oh I should also remind you the Reborn does not cover the Adidas Originals line. And for the ladies, no Stella McCartney for you. What up, right? Because those where the really cool stuff and most of the prices hit above the specified range are. Plus, the futsal shoes I’ve been eyeing? They cost RM199.90 across the board. Pissed? Oh that’s the least of my problems. The ones that are priced above the RM250 mark are the running shoes. I mean, seriously, how much running do we Malaysians actually do? We couldn’t even bear the thought of parking a farther 5 metres away at the Carrefour entrance because it meant extra walking.

So now, I have a pair of old shoes that I can trade for new ones which I don’t need and for the price which is more than I previously estimated. I can’t believe I endorsed this campaign to you people. Sorry, guys. Again, duped by the big corporations. The only reprieve you get if you wish to go along with this is that the safe knowledge that your old shoes will be disposed off responsibly and probably even recycled for some of it parts. In tune with all this eco-friendly mentality we got going on right now. It beats getting a hybrid.

So, my predicament now is that whether I want to trade my two old pair of shoes for two new pairs worth RM500 for RM400. Or two new pairs worth RM750 for RM600. Or RM1000 for RM900. You know, they could just easily point out that basically, they just want to give a 20% discount. Like one of the salesperson did. And it all suddenly made sense to me. Why didn’t they? Oh that’s right. They want to confuse us thinking we’re getting the better end of the deal by putting all those words in. Like me. Nice.

And another thing that I noticed. Ever since they started Reborn, the amount of choices suddenly dwindled. Not much but there’s certainly a lack. These people are clever. Never underestimate these guys. Well played evil executives.

And why doesn’t Adidas has any trainers category? Like Nike’s? The all purpose shoes? The one Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer did an ad together on? The one you can do more than just run in it? That’s what I’d like. I have my futsal shoes and I have a pair that I can do everything else in. Because you never know when you need such a pair. Its’ like an umbrella. You don’t need it most of the time. In fact, most of the time you don’t even remember you have it. But that one time you do need them, you wish you have a good pair with you. And that’s my aim. Who knows when I’d like to go on that ATV trip at Kemensah. Or when I had to leave for the weekend for that second stage PTD assessment thing at Tg Malim. While the Bounce running shoes do have that funky look to it in an almost space exploration kind of way, I’d prefer not. Sometimes I just want a pair of Lunar Trainers. But Adidas don’t have them. They have something called Adventure. Which looks like something you’d wear if you’re planning a hike on Kilimanjaro.

Since Reborn is due to end on the 31st, I still have a few weeks left to contemplate. But, one thing for certain, I’m beginning to lose faith in Adidas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Reborn With Adidas

I almost, almost bought a navy woven tie from Gant yesterday. I was cooing and stroking it gently when thank goodness I managed to snap out of it. That was too close. Seriously, I could not afford another relapse. The Club Monaco incident in February 08 is still fresh in mind.

Anyway, dusting myself off from another potential unnecessary purchase, I had my eye on the Adidas store and I saw that they have a nifty little campaign going on called Reborn.

Basically you turn in any of your old sneakers and get a RM50 or RM100 rebate on a new pair of Adidas shoes. Of course, terms and conditions apply. Don’t they always? Anyway, let me put the ad:

Terms and conditions apply:
• Campaign duration: 1st November – 31st Decemebr 2008. Bring in any old sport shoes and receive an immediate RM50 reduction on adidas shoes worth RM250 & if you buy adidas shoes worth RM500 and above you are entitled to an immediate RM100 reduction.
• Each discount value is applicable for one item purchase only.
• Any brand at any value of old items in decent condition is accepted.
• Only sport shoes are accepted, high heels, sandals, slippers will not be accepted.
• This promotion cannot be applied with any on-going promotion.
• We reserve the rights to change the terms and conditions without prior notice.
• Offer not applicable to Bounce medal, adidas Originals, adidas Gold and Stella McCartney range.
• For every 20 pairs transaction, adidas will donate 1 pair to Harvest Centre Bhd.

This promotion will be available at the following adidas sports performance stores:
• KLCC: Lot 310, 3rd Floor Suria KLCC, 50088 Kuala Lumpur
• SACC: Lot GS-03A, Ground Floor, SACC Mall, Jalan Perbadanan 14/9, 40000 Shah Alam
• Pavilion: Lot 5.01.01, Level 5, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
• The Gardens: Lot T-220, 3rd Floor, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur
Now, here’s what I think. I’m thinking of getting a new pair of futsal shoes since, well, it’s been so long I forgot when. Safe to say I was considering it for a very long time. Problem is none of the recent designs has really caught my imagination. There are some good ones but all of them were already adorned on the feet of most of the people at Samba. And the last thing I want is to be caught wearing the same pair as the guy next to me when I step onto the pitch. Call me fickle but I prefer to call it being unique. I know I’m not that good at playing to be so particular on footwear but I honestly do not care. Besides, they’re my feet.

However, with this Reborn campaign. I’m willing to be less ‘unique’. RM50 rebate at least, man! I don’t know about you but that’s incredibly tempting. So, it’s most likely my faithful pair of Adidas futsal shoes for the last, oh, I don’t know, 5 years? Maybe more. It will finally give way. We’ve been through good times. You shall be remembered. Also, I have another pair of old shoes. A pair of Nike trainers, although lately I begin to suspect that it’s a knock-off version because of its continuing episodes of falling apart. But, hey, the campaign says any shoes any brand so I guess that’ll go too. This one will not be affectionately remembered. It has caused me nothing but agony. Chances are I’ll probably get a RM100 rebate now. Yeay!

You know, talking about new shoes, it gets me giddy. I’m feeling the itch. It’s time for the New Shoes song. Hit it Paolo!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bring On The Russians! (The blond, tennis-playing, female kind that is)

That McEnroe guy is pretty funny. I’m not entirely sure he meant it that way. At times he does look kind of serious. But, same thing was said about Sarah Palin. Then again, she has moose for dinner.

However, in all seriousness, you can’t really compare John McEnroe with Sarah Palin. McEnroe is a former World No.1 with 7 Grand Slam singles titles to his name while Palin is, well, basically McEnroe is a true champion. And the Showdown of Champions at the Putra Stadium last night provided an ample opportunity for young adults like me who missed his glory days to see the man in action.

Pitted together with one of his rivals, Bjorn Borg and along with the likes of Swiss ace Roger Federer and James Blake, it was truly a memorable exhibition tour for the local tennis fans. And, quite honestly, I didn’t expect such a huge turnout at the event. It was evident even from the TV screen. No, I wasn’t at Bukit Jalil myself and there’s a reason to it which I will indulge later in the post. Still, I was quite surprised by the amount of tennis fans in the country. I guess we have to thank Astro for that for bringing us all the live tournaments. Another sport to love and cheer.

Now, the reason I stayed at home and watched the matches within the comforts of my living room (which is always a good reason) is that it was held in the middle of the week. Why oh why? The National Sports Complex isn’t exactly located next door. From where I am staying, I have to cross the city to get there. And on a Tuesday evening, good luck with the traffic. I should know. I went to the Chelsea game. Honestly, what is it with these event organizers? Haven’t they heard about weekends? You know, when most of the people DO NOT go to work? When the evening rush hour is non-existent? Would that not result in a higher turnout? Please, correct me if I’m wrong. The way I see it, it’s just bonkers.

However, I should point out that traffic is not the true reason I didn’t bought tickets for the Showdown of Champions. While I have the greatest respect for McEnroe, Borg and especially Federer, okay maybe even Blake, truth is, taking away all the success and glamour, they were just four guys playing tennis. Two of them are dancing around the age of fifty. So, excuse me for the lack of enthusiasm for paying good dough to see a couple of old farts banging a green ball around with a racquet. Same argument last time Federer came to town. He was with Pete Sampras back then. Again, huge respect but really? He’s balding, for God’s sakes.

What I really loved to have done is to cross the causeway not long after the Sampras-Federer matchup because our good neighbours Singapore had a similar tennis exhibition match going on. Only they have someone named Maria Sharapova coming over.

See what I mean? It’s like the F1 story all over again. We have this great sporting idea and the Singaporeans took the same idea and bettered it. Instead of thin-haired, short-fused retired male tennis players, why couldn’t we have some blond Russians running up and down our courts? Do that and I’m sure as hell to be one of the first in the ticketing line. No matter what day it’s held.

Nevertheless, you do have to give credit to the people who have made the effort to bring these former pros to our shores. You can see what they’re trying to do here. That is, hosting our own ATP/WTA tournament. I mean, when you look at it, it’s not such a far fetched idea. They already have one in Bali and that place has a dark history of being notoriously targeted by terrorist. Twice. Over here, the only thing that gets blown up is ATMs. Don’t place one near the courts and we’re good.

Of course, to be included in the ATP/WTA calendar is not as easy as it seems. Exactly, like making spaghetti. With F1, you can build a world-class circuit and you’re good enough to be considered into the championship calendar. But, our facility-building expertise counts for nothing when it comes to tennis tournaments. More like in golf. Everybody has a world-class venue in their backyard. So, one way to do it is by bringing the number one player of the game to play in an exhibition match and only then people will take notice. Although, things haven’t quite turned out as well for golf.

Hopefully, this latest venture will succeed in bringing the likes of Nadal and Federer (again) here but this time for a competitive match. And, fingers crossed, Sharapova and her friends. Wouldn’t you like to experience the Siberian Siren in the flesh? I know I would. Or Dementieva. Or Kuznetsova. Safina, for that matter. Don’t even get me started on Ivanovic. My God, the list is endless.

If you would excuse me, I’d like to go and start collecting tennis memorabilia. You know, just to be ready for the meet the fans session. Cheers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Art of Craig's Dimple

This is going to sound incredibly gay. But I love Daniel Craig. Honest to God, I could not get enough of him. It’s the only reason I bought my first ever copy of Time Out KL. Countless times they’ve put scantily-clad babes (and some of them well-known) on their covers and not once had I flinched even to be merely interested in buying them. This month they put a picture of him on it plus an exclusive interview inside and suddenly I’m a sucker of consumerism. But since I was on my way to see Abby when I picked it up, this was a sucker with a purpose.

There is a nice full page close up of Craig in the mag and I showed it to my ever trusting, gorgeous-as-hell hairstylist and, pointing to his head, asked, ‘Can you do something like that?’ And she answered, ‘Yeah, sure’

To be completely truthful here, yes, I do currently sport a hairdo akin to the new Bond but it is not that noticeable. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, I’m not blond. Two, I do not have a chiseled face. And three, most importantly, I’m not Daniel Craig. However, in my own private universe, I’m as happy as a bloody peacock. And that, is what really matters. Even in actual sense, it does not deviate incredibly from my usual do. Sadly though, considering the growth rate of my hair and the current climate, it’ll most probably outgrow by this time next week.

But, hairdos aside, that is not the only aspect that I can take cues from my newly found affinity for a male celebrity (ever). The biggest reason why I love Daniel Craig so much is the way the man dresses. It’s fuckin’ immaculate. You know the reaction girls give every time Orlando Bloom comes on screen as Legolas in any of the LOTR trilogies? That was my reaction watching Quantum of Solace. Only that I didn't sound like I suddenly ovulated. I was transfixed as a man would in the presence of a better man. Plus a lot of under the breath cursing. It was embarrassing at times. That man can pull off almost anything given to him. Well, yes, he does has his suits specifically tailored by Tom Ford but still, even with the cuts and bruises, rumpled hair and covered in sand dust, he still looks better than some of us on our best days.

But while dressing up in a suit on a regular basis is not something that I’d be doing in the near future even with the hope permanent employment, it's because simply it’s not in our local work culture. And, therefore, not really imperative to take down suit tips. However, people here at least do have the decency to wear ties. And I’ve recently discovered the sartorial importance of the tie dimple.

I have known its existence for years but I never been quite fond of it. Because, basically, it’s a heightened flaw. Now, why would anyone do that? Isn’t dressing good the overall point? So, for years, I have perfected my Half-Windsor knot to not include the dimple. And I have been a smug every time I look myself in the mirror admiring my accurately formed piece of fabric fastened around my collar. Oh what a fool I have been.

It is not until recently that I have discovered what the dimple actually represents. It is a symbol of finesse and sophistication on a man’s attire. It's the imperfection that. It's the same thing with the rumpled shirt and the single-buttoned jacket. And despite its relatively small contribution to the overall wardrobe, it does lend a difference from the next man. And we all know how important that is.

And so, having practiced the wrong way all this time, it will take a considerable amount of time to learn the new, or should I say, proper way of tying the tie knot. Of course, like making spaghetti, it easier said than done. Practice makes perfect, they say. Just put your finger flat on the fabric below the knot before you tighten it, they say. Well, if I have a requirement to wear a tie every day (e.g. to the office) to provide ample opportunity for practice, I would not complain so much, but alas. There will come a moment when I will need to wear a tie and I will not be able to do the proper dimple. And that is just an annoying thought. I can not spend half an hour standing in front of the mirror knotting and unknotting all the while perspiring from all the anxiety.


On the subject of ties, I do have to remind myself not to buy anymore. I went through my tie drawer the other day and I could not believe how many I actually own. Including an Armani which I totally forgot I bought for the sake of a Black and White dinner party and have only worn on that occasion alone. It’s still perfectly preserved in its original packaging. Funnily, despite my vast array of choices, I still do not possess the quintessential bright solid, dark striped and textured. I do have a bright solid which looks very dated. And not so bright. What I do have is the supporting cast. The black, the yellow and even a beige. And have I told you I finally found myself the dark grey wool like Steven Alan’s. I found it at My Tie Shop and, curiously, it’s not made out of wool. It’s 70% cotton and 30% silk. But it does look and feel wooly. Good enough for me. And the shade is just perfect. I even bought matching pants.

And so, even reminding myself not to purchase any more ties, it does seem inevitable that I will do exactly the opposite. I can’t believe it. I’m a tie nut. And I don’t even get to wear them.

And the tie dimple. Damn. How does Daniel make it look so perfect? Have I told you much I love the guy? Sigh. Dress well, men.

The perfect dimple. Sorry, best pic I could find. I blame Sony.

Friday, November 07, 2008

And There Was Crichton

I was at the car repair shop going trough Olga Kurylenko’s interview in Time Out KL when the news came on the radio. It was from one of those dull RTM’s stations which I initially planed to listen half-heartedly. But, apparently, according to the man who obviously was born without the fun or sense of humour genes, a well-known author by the name of ‘Krishnen’ had died the day before. Funny, I thought to myself. If he’s so famous, how come I haven’t heard of him? Was he local by any chance? As you should know, car repair shops aren’t exactly serene in its surroundings. Even MPs would have trouble making themselves heard around here. Not that they have anything important to say anyway.

The news went on about how his books had sold more than a 100 million copies worldwide and translated into 30 languages. Well, he must very famous then, I wondered. And it continued ‘Among his notable works were Jurassic Park and ER among others…,’ Oh dear fuck.

Michael Crichton had DIED!? Michael Crichton fuckin’ died!?

The revelation hit me hard on the head. Suddenly the image of Olga in a pink frilly dress, her legs widespread in full glorious colour just seemed oblivious. I was standing now. Hand on hips. Shaking my head in disbelief. I was distraught. My favorite author had died. Michael Crichton was the reason I began reading novels in the first place.

Growing up my father made me read the classics. Treasure Island, Moby Dick and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea which I’m not sure I finished but all the while they were good (hey, they’re not called classics for nothing) it was not until I picked up Sphere that my world was turned upside down. It was the first time I read a book that I wished never ends. As I’m sure all avid readers had come to experience at one time in their lives. I can remember going through 20,000 Leagues and I kept checking how much left I still have to go to reach the end. But I can never get enough of HAL.

I finished Sphere and it gave me such a satisfying feeling afterwards I was convinced I had found my fix. So while the other boys were busy learning how top lay the guitar and take up smoking, I was hell bent on reading up on every Crichton’s work. Of course, like making spaghetti, it is easier said than done. Especially for a boy studying in boarding school. It’s pretty difficult to convince your parents that leisure reading is among life’s top priorities apart from food and intuition. In which they justified RM10 a week was more than enough. Sigh.

But, boys will be boys and although The Terminal Man didn’t quite strike a chord with me, I was totally embroiled with both Congo and The Andromeda Strain.

The one thing that differentiates Michael Crichton from other writers and the reason I love his work so much for it, are the ideas that he comes up. They are so ambitious and so ridiculous let alone absurd at the time of writing it seemed like a bad joke. But through his scientific explanations, by the time you finish the book you will be asking yourself ‘my god, could this actually work?’

A dinosaur park? Ridiculous, right? But by extracting ancient DNA from mosquitoes fossilized in amber and injecting them into present amphibian eggs, it does sound kind of possible. Jurassic Park.

A virus that could kill a human being in 3 seconds which would make the Ebola and HIV look like play things. Physiologically impossible? Instead of attacking the nervous system, what if it just, by chemical chain reaction, clot your entire blood circulation system? That’s Andromeda.

A lost city in the jungles of Africa with diamonds the size of fists scattered all over the ground begging to be grabbed. But wait, the guardians are ruthless gorillas that kill humans on sight by smashing the skulls between two large stones. Seems unlikely since gorillas are known to be shy and gentle creatures despite their size and strength. But what if they were trained to do so? By humans themselves, no less, done a long time ago. And while the ancient tribe had long gone extinct (for very suspect reasons. Hint: killer pets) the gorillas continue to exist and the ‘skills’ passed on to generation after generation. Welcome to Congo.

The other thing about Crichton’s work, in my opinion, which also contributes to its cool factor, is that it does not belong to any category. Yes, you can put it under fiction but that’s about it. Technically it is Science Fiction. But people tend to associate that with Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica. One that involves spaceships, aliens and photon rays.

But you can’t also put in under Thriller which mostly includes serial killers or vengeful spirits although the depicting scenes are probably quite similar to Crichton’s books. Something goes wrong, all hell breaks loose, chaos and people get trampled by dinosaurs. Which elevates Michael Crichton from being more than a simple research expert.

While he argues his ideas are so interesting and exciting and even theoretically possible, there’s the old saying that what ever can go wrong, will go wrong. Aeroplanes are still statistically the safest way to travel. But a miniscule mistake will end up with passengers thrown out of their seats, bouncing around in the cabin like a pinball and there’s blood and vomit everywhere. Not to mention the luggage and the 6G reinforced seats flying around as well. Lethal debris. You’re on board Airframe.

Ever since The Lost World came out, my elixir has always been the next time Crichton publishes a new book. Unlike my younger days, I have been able to purchase brand new copies of Timeline, Prey, Sate of Fear and Next (in which I have Zalina to thank for).

But now, one of my life’s greatest joys has come to an end. There will be no more new Michael Crichton books. Well, there is his last one, to be released posthumously in May 09. Pushed at a further date out of respect. It would have been this coming December.

There has been a few authors for whom I admired their work but have since past away. The likes of Robert Ludlum, Mario Puzo and to a certain extent, Sidney Sheldon. But the loss of Michael Crichton deeply saddens me. He was my kind of author. Sphere is a treasure I will always hold close to my heart. All the best for you, Michael. You will be missed.

As for now, looks like I’ll be reading more of Mike Gayle. The male version of chick lit. Oh the hell be it. Otherwise, there is that Dan Brown fellow...

from The Star, NOV 6, 2008

NEW YORK (AP): Michael Crichton, the million-selling author who made scientific research terrifying and irresistible in such thrillers as "Jurassic Park,'' "Timeline'' and "The Andromeda Strain,'' has died of cancer, his family said.

Crichton died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 66 after privately battling cancer.

"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand,'' his family said in a statement.

"While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us - and entertained us all while doing so - his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes.''

He was an experimenter and popularizer known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of "The Andromeda Strain'' or the dinosaurs running madly in "Jurassic Park.'' Many of his books became major Hollywood movies, including "Jurassic Park,'' "Rising Sun'' and "Disclosure.'' Crichton himself directed and wrote "The Great Train Robbery'' and he co-wrote the script for the blockbuster "Twister.''

In 1994, he created the award-winning TV hospital series "ER.'' He's even had a dinosaur named for him, Crichton's ankylosaur.

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park,''' said "Jurassic Park'' director Steven Spielberg, a friend of Crichton's for 40 years. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. ... Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.''

John Wells, executive producer of "ER'' called the author "an extraordinary man.

Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful.

"No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation.''

Neal Baer, a physician who became an executive producer on "ER,'' was a fourth-year medical student at Harvard University when Wells, a longtime friend, sent him Crichton's script.

"I said, 'Wow, this is like my life.' Michael had been a medical student at Harvard in the early '70s and I was going through the same thing about 20 years later,'' said Baer.

"ER'' offered a fresh take on the TV medical drama, making doctors the central focus rather than patients. In the early life of "ER,'' Crichton, who hadn't been involved in medicine for years, and Spielberg would take part in writers' room discussions.

In recent years, Crichton was the rare novelist granted a White House meeting with President George W. Bush, perhaps because of his skepticism about global warming, which Crichton addressed in the 2004 novel, "State of Fear.'' Crichton's views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that the author was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

If not a literary giant, he was a physical one, standing 6 feet and 9 inches (1.8 meters), and ready for battle with the press. In a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, Crichton came with a tape recorder, text books and a pile of graphs and charts as he defended "State of Fear'' and his take on global warming.

"I have a lot of trouble with things that don't seem true to me,'' Crichton said at the time, his large, manicured hands gesturing to his graphs. "I'm very uncomfortable just accepting. There's something in me that wants to pound the table and say, 'That's not true.'''

He spoke to few scientists about his questions, convinced that he could interpret the data himself. "If we put everything in the hands of experts and if we say that as intelligent outsiders, we are not qualified to look over the shoulder of anybody, then we're in some kind of really weird world,'' he said.

A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.

One of four siblings, Crichton was born in Chicago and grew up in Roslyn, Long Island.

His father was a journalist and young Michael spent much of his childhood writing extra papers for teachers. In third grade, he wrote a nine-page play that his father typed for him using carbon paper so the other kids would know their parts. He was tall, gangly and awkward, and used writing as a way to escape; Mark Twain and Alfred Hitchcock were his role models.

Figuring he would not be able to make a living as writer, and not good enough at basketball, he decided to become a doctor. He studied anthropology at Harvard College, and later graduated from Harvard Medical School. During medical school, he turned out books under pseudonyms. (One that the tall author used was Jeffrey Hudson, a 17th-century dwarf in the court of King Charles II of England.) He had modest success with his writing and decided to pursue it.

His first hit, "The Andromeda Strain,'' was written while he was still in medical school and quickly caught on upon its 1969 release. It was a featured selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and was sold to Universal in Hollywood for $250,000.

"A few of the teachers feel I'm wasting my time, and that in some ways I have wasted theirs,'' he told The New York Times in 1969. "When I asked for a couple of days off to go to California about a movie sale, that raised an eyebrow.''

His books seemed designed to provoke debate, whether the theories of quantum physics in "Timeline,'' the reverse sexual discrimination of "Disclosure'' or the spectre of Japanese eminence in "Rising Sun.''

"The initial response from the (Japanese) establishment was, 'You're a racist,''' he told the AP. "So then, because I'm always trying to deal with data, I went on a tour talking about it and gave a very careful argument, and their response came back, 'Well you say that but we know you're a racist.'''

Crichton had a rigid work schedule: rising before dawn and writing from about 6 a.m. to around 3 p.m., breaking only for lunch. He enjoyed being one of the few novelists recognized in public, but he also felt limited by fame.

"Of course, the celebrity is nice. But when I go do research, it's much more difficult now. The kind of freedom I had 10 years ago is gone,'' he told the AP. "You have to have good table manners; you can't have spaghetti hanging out of your mouth at a restaurant.''

Crichton was married five times and had one child. A private funeral is planned.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Think I Love Jeans

It feels weird wearing jeans. It’s surprisingly comfortable. It has been ages since I put on a pair. I could not remember exactly why but I do think it has got to do with my earliest memories of wearing denim. It’s always tight at the crotch. And don’t even mention the seat. And, looking around at that time of people wearing jeans, that’s how they like it. I mean like, jeez, don’t you wanna have kids? Even I do. Well, maybe not back then at such a tender age. As a matter of fact, not even now, at a not-so-tender age.

But fast forward to today, after a few persuasive advice from friends and fascinating articles on denim from GQ and Esquire, I’ve decided to give it another chance. And, I’ll admit it, I get what people has been banging on about. Never mind they’re comfortable, it adds a certain dimension of coolness to it. And the key is it doesn’t have to be tight at the seat and crotch. Well, you can if you want to but it’s entirely up to you. Why haven’t I realize this before?

Anyway, point is, I think I love jeans. In fact, I’m already thinking of getting another pair. I would by now if not for my current acute gout attack which has forced me to be on house arrest since last weekend. I know, I know, I’m too young to have gout yada yada yada. I can’t help it if my enzymes could not break down uric acid as efficient as most people. So bite me!

Back to our story, despite my new found love for denim, I already can detect a potential fashion faux pas with it. That is falling in love too much with jeans. Oh yes, it’s not uncommon. I didn’t see it before because I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about people wearing jeans back then. But, as I look around today, it seems everyone wears jeans. Be it at the shopping mall, at the market, a car repair shop and most definitely, the mat remps. The problem with jeans is that they tend to be too comfortable that people wear them to everywhere. I mean, EVERYWHERE. Even at wedding receptions. Unless you’re working for the caterer, wear something more proper. Okay, exception maybe for the kind of reception with the huge canopies strewn across the street in front of the parents’ house. But the ones at night, held at 5 star hotel ballrooms? Please. Are we not decent? And if by weird justification you think there’s nothing to could possibly top jeans as a fashion statement, make sure it’s a decent pair. Not the same one you wore since the afternoon while washing your car. It shows. Make it dark, no holes (artificial or otherwise) and hemmed appropriately at the sole (your James Dean impersonation can wait, elsewhere).

And this is where quality plays a part. I bought my first pair of jeans in years from none other than Levi’s. And it’s worth it. If you hadn’t had steak for awhile, where would you go for one? Certainly not NZ where the beef lacks any form of texture. You go to Jake’s Charbroiled. Same principle here. Yes, once in a while you buy a pair at a pasar malam and it is just happens to be perfect. The colour’s right, the cutting fits and it cost less than RM50. Be it known though that such events are a rarity. Buy 10 more at the same place and it is a guarantee the rest will be crap. Instead, for the price of 10, you can get 2 decent branded pairs. And it is always better that way. And yes, it shows. It’ll last longer too. People always think buying expensive clothes are a waste just for the sake of the brand. I always think of it as an investment. Plus, it makes me happier when you unpack at home. It gives a warmer fuzzy feeling.

Dress well, men.

Monday, October 06, 2008

All About The Number Five

I've been tagged by Sasa Bloomwood. Here goes:

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tag 5 people and post their names, then goes to their blogs and leave them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged. Let the person who tagged you know when you answered the questions.

What were you doing 5 years ago?
I was slacking off. I was chasing around chicks. I drive a fancy blue car. I was awesome.
Kinda like now...just with better shoes.

What were the 5 things on your to do list today?
1.Pay the house bills.
2.Pay the Accord loan
3.Get my awesomely framed The Godfather movie poster from the shop which will now go majestically on my bedroom wall.
4.Drop by The Curve to see if they have the Black/Black Manchester MacBeth shoes in stock (and snag a pair if they do).
5.Get a massage.

What are 5 snacks that you enjoy?
1.Homemade chocolate chip cookies.
5.I know they are more like appetizers but those nifty little French loaf sandwiches at Aritha's buka puasa jig was really delicious it's haunting.

What are 5 things that you would do if you were a billionaire?
1.Find the most fancy schwancy architect around and say, 'Redesign my house. Money no object'
2.Buy my impractical dream cars - 1963 Aston Martin DB5, a DeLorean, Jaguar E-Type
3.Have my birthday party at the Playboy Mansion
4.Date Anna Kournikova
5.Buy Chelsea FC

What are 5 jobs you’ve had?
1.The IT go-to guy at RnZ
2.A lower-than-dirt external audit junoir staff
3.Very part part-time accountant for the Studioq
4.Yonf tau foo seller
5.Aspiring writer

Tag 5 other Blogger…?
Please, I shall not torture any more further bloggers in the blogosphere.

Raya Stories

The question on everyone’s lips is do I ever get tired of listening to Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around every time I visit my own blog?. The answer is a resounding YES! But I do have to be honest with you, it hasn’t stopped me from bopping my head or at least sing along to the tune every time either. It does give some life to my blog actually. Being a party tune and all. But, I do realize, every good thing must come to an end so yes, I’m writing in the slowly continuous hope to push the Timberlake entry further down and out of the loop. Which may take a few entries more. But fret not, just as they say, slow n steady, brader.

Right, as Mila would say it, wassup wassup!! (or as Caon like to imitate)

It is the 6th day of Raya and I can’t stop appreciating how the Islamic calendar, for once in my lifetime, coincide with the Roman calendar. We just look at the date, oh it’s October 6th, so it must be the sixth day of Raya. Even back during Ramadhan, someone asked, how many days have we fasted on one unparticular day? Well, it was the 21st of September. Go figure. For once, I was not totally in the dark about the exact day of Syawal 1st.

As for my celebrations itself, things are kept at a minimal this year. The family were supposed to get back to Kelantan for my cousin’s wedding on the third day of Raya but as fate would have had it, my sister in law had an awkward fall at the mosque where we had our Raya prayers that 1st Raya morning which ended up her having an MRI and an appointment with an orthopedic at Prince Court. Suffice to say, my brother now could not join the trip which would mean only my mother, sister and me are the only ones left to drive the atrocious 10 hour journey with traffic conditions which can only be described as ‘insane’. And from the looks of it, if we had gone through with the plan, most likely than not, I’ll be the one left to do all the driving. To and fro, in consecutive days. The original plan was to take turns behind the wheel between my brother and me. You know, I love driving, but not that much. In the end, we saved up a lot on travelling expenses by just staying put. It was how I preferred it anyway. Guilty about ditching the family get together, yeah, but happier too. It was one of those days when I couldn’t care less what anyone else says. Especially if they’re my relatives.

So, by staying put in KL, I have discovered, you know that myth when people talked about how deserted KL feels every time it’s Raya season because more than half of the city folks went balik kampung? I say myth because it’s not true anymore. Yes, loads of people left the city for the few days but I think there are just too much people in the city these days that even a huge exodus does not render the city streets completely free. There were still some considerable amount of vehicles on the road during the first and second day of Raya. I’ve experienced less traffic on a regular Sunday morning. And this was further proven when my brother visited the famed Jln Masjid India during the final night before Raya. It was pretty lenggang the few nights before as we were under the assumption many had done their shopping and were already on the road back home. Apparently, it seemed every one was on the know nowadays about the peddler’s practice of having selling at rock bottom prices at the last night as the streets were suddenly thronged to the limit. It was like during mid-day at mid-Ramadhan all over again. It was crazy. Someone should write a paper on this. It’ll be easy marks. ‘The Myth Behind the Raya Exodus’. It might even get you an Ig Nobel prize.

As for my next Raya plans, well, I do hope to get plenty of invites to open houses in the next coming weeks. I already have one tomorrow at Seremban at Kerel’s. Should be fun if enough of the boys turn up. Talking about open houses, that reminds me, it has been a while since I received an invite to Ara’s annual open house. I was terkilan (ghetu) when it first happened but to be fair I only attended once. And, besides, it’s not that I actually know anyone there anyway. Well, yeah, there’s Ara’s clique from UTP, but, you know, they’re her clique. And I’m pretty sure the guys don’t even watch football. You know what, I think it’d be less awkward if I do not get an invite. But, there are sure to be plenty of chicks there. Something Barney would have jump to. Quite literally too. We’ll see how this goes. In the meantime, I think I’ll do that thing Sasa tagged me to do. And in the next entry, I might talk about the naughty trip to Thailand. Cheers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Discovering Yong Tau Foo

It’s dawn September 20th. That means it’s the 20th day that we are fasting and 19 days since I last posted anything here.

Beyond the halfway mark, I think it’s rather frivolous to wish Selamat Berpuasa now. So Selamat Hari Raya everyone! Chances are, I’m probably the first person to wish any of you this coming festive season.

It’s not that I didn’t want to post anything or just being lazy about it. Actually, laziness did play its part somewhere but I’m good now. Well, today, at least. That is, before my stomach begin to make funny noises.

I’ve been busy y’see. Believe it or not, for the past 20, err, make that 17 days (I did took a few days off, including today), every evening I have been present at Ampang Jaya’s pasar Ramadhan, not as a customer, but as a seller. Well, more of an assistant really. Cipoi, a former schoolmate aka fellow SASOB, is the pioneer. I just help out. And we are yong tau foo sellers! And yes, we have the best yong tau foo in the area. Because we are the only ones selling them. Ampang Jaya is our hood! Recognize!

Hard to believe isn’t it? Me, a stall trader? Tell me about it. Every day, as I stood behind the collapsible table donning my red apron and Che Guevera barret, I still think, am I actually doing this? But every time I still smile and answer myself ‘Hell yeah!’ because it’s a blast!

All this time I have been on the other side i.e. the consumers and now, crossing over as a vendor, I realized what a placid view I had all along. It is really an eye opening experience. I could not remember learning so much in such a short space of time like the past 3 weeks or so.

In the past, visits to PaRam have always been a leisurely excursion. I get there, I buy some food, I go home. But now, I began to get an inkling of what these small time vendors go through every single day. And we are only doing this during this Ramadhan. As yong tau foo sellers, our work is basically nothing to shout about. The raw materials are bought from a store and the sauce is prepared by the people at Cipoi’s grandmother’s home. Cipoi and me, well, we are merely the link to the consumers. Packaging and sales. He does the boiling, I ration the sauce. But even that took a toll out of us. I cannot even begin to imagine what the nasi campur people go through. The early morning trips to the market and the preparation for the multiple type dishes. Sounds like a nightmare for me. Suddenly I found a new level of respect for those makcik-makcik.

And another thing I’ve learnt which really gets my goat which never quite bothered me before are the RM50 notes. I used to feel a small amount of guilt every time I had to pay these little businesses using an RM50 note for something that cost below RM10, or worse RM5. Now, being on the receiving end, it’s turns out as one hell of an annoyance! I once had to give change to a lady who owed us RM3.60. And since the customer is always right, you can’t do anything but smile. But evil knows the torment that woman caused me. Small change, lady! We need small change! What are we? McDonald’s!? And if you think it’s troublesome for us to go to other vendors to ask for their change, it is! I could not describe my feelings last Monday when I had to deal with three RM50 notes in less than 30 minutes! I nearly blew my top off! It seemed everyone just had a visit to the ATM machine. But, of course, service with a smile. Besides, they are handing me their money.

Among the other things of being a vendor at a PaRam is that we are totally immune to the usual evening rush because, basically, we are the rush. As the crowd began to pile up at PaRams everywhere as the clock ticks past 5.30 pm, that’s when we roll hardest. We feed on your greed. Again, it’s an interesting perspective.

While some of you were unfortunate enough to get stuck in traffic when it comes to break fast or the ones at home during that agonizing feeling between 6.30 and 7.15, time flies us by for the vendors. When it is time to break fast, we simply snoop around between fellow vendors, getting food and drinks for ridiculously cheap prices or most of the time free of charge, pull out our stools and enjoy a cool and quiet evening.

After a few nights such as that, consuming meals which rarely cost above RM5 per person, I can’t help but feel ridiculous for all the money I spent in the past at fancy buka puasa spots. The PJ Hiltons, the Salomas, what a waste it has been. You don’t eat that much anyway. Was it really worth RM90++? I have such a function this evening at Seri Melayu, which will cost me a cool RM70++ and I am certain after weeks of breaking fast with nothing more than a piece of roti john and a big bag of air tembikai, there will be some awkward feeling later this evening. I’d rather spend my money at William’s. Now that’s food.

Lastly, Ampang Jaya is great spot to be operating in. It only covers a small area which means it’s homely and not as crowded and hectic like the one at Melawati but it also means it’s not as glamorous as TTDI’s. Apart from being the monopolist of yong tau foo, Ampang Jaya does have its own share of hot chicks and celebrities. Being a customer, even if Erra Fazira goes to the same PaRam as you do, it is still unlikely you’ll be there roughly the same time as her and crossed paths. As vendors, if there’s someone famous who comes along, we’ll definitely catch sight of them. So far we had Adlin Aman Ramli, Azwan Ali, Que Haidar, Linda Jasmine and Sasha Saidin among others but sadly none of them dropped by our store. That is, until last Thursday when Maria Farida decided to make a stop and ordered three pieces of kuey teow to go. It was a milestone. We had a celebrity customer! And an incredibly hot one at that too. I could easily say she’s the hottest mom I had ever seen. Surpassing even the Albas and the Jolies.

I do realize some pics would definitely make this posting much more interesting but we are working there. Time is of the essence. And not to mention if the weather would be digital camera forgiving. Maybe I’ll take a few shots this Sunday. Najmi will be there. You want to see how a metal band member tries to sell yong tau foo? Anything could happen. One thing for sure, it’ll involve lots of laughs.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Alexa, Not The Piano Girl

I thought it was just me. But, the truth is, E! is just so annoyingly addictive. Everybody just have to watch it. Including people who usually don’t watch TV. And I’m not just talking about my female friends here. They thrive on it, of course. But I mean adult men like me. And I didn’t realize the full extent of its influence on the modern man until a recently chance meeting with Caon, a former member of the now defunct (but maybe in line for a short comeback) metal-ly band DTR but now a happily married man who is still very much a clown and can’t get enough of fart jokes. I don’t know how the conversation turned out the way it did but suddenly he was suddenly enthusing about tanning sprays. The likes of Beyonce and Mariah are very fond of. He said something about catching 25 Celebrity Style Tips or something something on E! and boy did I not see that coming. I just gave him a perplexed look. Like a guy gives another guy when the first guy confessed about something that he shouldn’t have been doing in the first place. Like naming his favorite character from Disney’s Hannah Montana. Of course, it was all bullshit because I myself saw that show. It was not that I wanted to but I was hooked! Those E! shows grip your attention like a vice.

I don’t know how they do it but every time I stumbled upon E! News, the next 25 minutes of my life can be safely considered gone. I just can’t turn my head away. And it doesn’t help The Daily 10 comes right after. So that’s 50 minutes of my life, basically down the drain.

And Aritha wondered how her husband is familiar with the terms VPL and LBD (which translates to Visible Panty Lines and Little Black Dress to you un-hip people!) while she probably thinks they are abbreviations for newly discovered STDs. Newsflash Sweet Beetle, he and I are suffering from the same thing. And I don’t need to tell you how damn contagious it is.

However, despite my own disapproving taste of E! and especially Kimora Lee Simmons (who I think is no more fab than Leina Hangat on her worse days), I do find an interesting programme on the entertainment channel’s listing. And that’s the True Hollywood Stories (THS) series. So far, the worst I saw was Liz Hurley’s. I mean, I could not think of a reason why the people at E! went through all the trouble of making one based on her life anyway. The chunk of the show documented how she met Hugh Grant, how when they were together and how they broke up in the end. And now she spends her time wearing saris and practicing Hindi. It should be called TBS if you ask me.

But the one they did on Michael J Fox was certainly worth a watch. I never knew he had a tough time doing Back To The Future, because, it was revealed that while he was doing the movie at night, he was playing Alex P Keaton on Family Ties during the day. He was lucky to get any sleep at all during that period. And to pull it off on both fronts successfully was a testament to the man himself. And the revelation of his true motivation behind his work on Spin City and the aspect that he didn’t tell anyone, even the show’s crew, about his struggle with Parkinson’s until the show was well into running and his co-stars began to get disgruntled as his perceived lack of commitment while in truth some of the days, he just could not pull it together. And he had no choice but the let the cat out of the bag in the end. It was heartwarming. It made me all fuzzy inside.

On a lesser note, the most recent show I saw was of Christie Brinkley. She’s really not that famous on this part of the world but since she’s a former model who once made the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuits hers for three consecutive issues, I thought, this should at least be better than the one on Liz Hurley’s.

Truth be told, her life was not that spectacular. Aside from the fact that she was THE face of the 90’s and went through four marriages. But, most interesting point to note is, and this is what I want to share here, her second marriage was to Billy Joel. And, out of this marriage, they had a daughter named Alexa Ray. And she, is the stuff Hollywood dreams about.

Aged 23 this year, Aleaxa Ray Joel is blessed with her mother’s looks and her father’s talents. And something tells me we might be hearing a lot more of her in the coming future. She has already done a couple of shows in the US including a spot on Jimmy Kimmel. Although she has yet to refine her onstage persona, she’s quite the decent singer. And most importantly she writes her own songs. Like Alicia Keys and India Arie. If you’re intrigued enough, you can check out Alexa’s MySpace page yourself because, honestly, I think I have put too much video on my blog lately to offer a quick sample.

On it you can watch all her performance clips and hear her songs in which I particularly recommend you listen to Now It’s Gone which is about her step father’s (her mother’s fourth husband in this case) illicit affair with an 18 year old chick and, yeah, I know (18 hombre! Damn!)

She has an EP but according to her it’s sold out so fat chance of getting it here, even if it weren’t sold out. But in this digital age, as if that would stop you from finding other means to it (like me). Sorry, Alexa, but you do need to educate your distributors about markets outside the US (particularly SEA).

So, remember this name, Alexa Ray Joel and where you hear it first. As for E!, well, who are we mere mortals?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brother From Another Planet >Robert Downey Jr delivers the most controversial - and damn funny- performance of the summer in 'Tropic Thunder'

There are performances that take balls. There are performances that take the kind of stones that makes Hillary Clinton’s vote-counting look like amateur hour. And then there’s the role of Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder.

On its face, the idea is ghastly. Robert Downey Jr. stars as an Oscar winner who plays as African-American soldier in a war epic. And if you’re thinking there’s no way anyone would be dumb enough to play blackface for laughs in 2008, well, that’s exactly what he does. The whole thing is a high-wire act over a pile of chain saws, but Downey blows co-stars Jack Black and Ben Stiller clear off the screen with his unblinking commitment to the gag. As Lazarus becomes more and more convinced he actually is black – to the alarm of his colleagues – the unhinged joke becomes clear. It’s about race. It’s about spoofing puffed-up Hollywood vanity. But more than anything else, it’s about that essential element of all great comedy: danger. Somewhere, Lenny Bruce is smiling.

-Dan Fierman, GQ august 2008-

What I've Learned: Jenna Jameson

Actress, 34, Los Angeles

C’mon downstairs. I just got a new couch. We can break it in.

The first thing that comes out of my mouth is always right.

If I have daughters, I wouldn’t want them to go into pornography. That’s not really a conflict with who I am. You don’t ever want your children to struggle. You want everything to come to them beautifully and perfectly. My industry is not cut out for harmony. I don’t want my little girl to have to worry about whether or not those whispers are about her.

Don’t let your son read my book until he’s sixteen.

Duxiana. It has this technology that doesn’t allow you to bounce all over the place, yet it’s still really supersoft.

Getting a tattoo should hurt. It’s a rite of passage.

I’ll be out having a good time and stick my gum on the side of my cup -- I know, it’s a horrible habit -- and people will steal the cup. I’ve had girls come up in crowds and rip out my hair. Not because they’re being mean. Because they want a piece of me. It’s really weird.

Women’s vaginas go back to their normal size after sex. They don’t stretch out. Whatever you’re born with you’re kind of stuck with. And once you have a baby, you can always have extra stitches put in, right?

I did my bathroom like that on purpose. The photo of Jean Harlow. The one of me spread-eagle across from the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I think what you see is such a beautiful contradiction. That room is me in a nutshell.

I’m a paradox wrapped inside a paradox.

Yeah, I see those “Increase your size” e-mails. So sad. To have someone actually put some implant into your penis -- that’s crazy! If I were a man, for me to even think of doing that, it would have to be inverted.

I’m a powerful woman. I think that’s intimidating to a man, on every level. That’s why I always go out of my way to be ultranice and ultrasweet and coy, because it makes people feel comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable around me before I put them in a headlock.

I would never cheat on the person I’m with.

I think more people out there need to have more sex.

There are certain things that I just didn’t feel comfortable with on film, and anal sex was one of them. It’s just too intimate. To this day, I equate doing it with only someone that I 100 percent trust. It’s very private for me.

Dancing at a strip club is a job. Men don’t want to feel like they’re giving us money to do what we’re doing. They want to feel like we’re doing it on our own. Guys have to realize that the money they’re giving a stripper is paying rent and making car payments.

I hate getting political and stuff, but when really right-wing people get into office, they worry about things that should be the least of our worries. Whether or not I’m getting it doggy style from a black man should not be their concern. They should be worrying about health care, about our homeless, about the war. How about bringing the troops home? Call me crazy.

George Bush has read my book. Don’t act like he hasn’t.

What the news is feeding us is so different from what is happening.

When I was first approached about debating at Oxford, I was like, How am I going to do this? I barely got a diploma. How do I debate against professors? But my husband at the time said, “Do you think those professors know more about pornography than you?” So I wrote a ten-minute speech. But I never looked down at it once. The passion just poured out of me. I could see how many people in the audience were against me in the beginning. But as I got into my story and talked about all the things I’ve learned along the way, I could see the tide turning. I could see the women in the audience understanding that I’m just a normal girl, and slowly they started to relate to me. After a debate at Oxford, the audience can walk out of one of two doors -- one for pro, another for con. I stood there watching nearly everybody go through the pro door. It was beautiful. There are certain moments in my life that I remember kind of stepping back and thinking to myself, Please print this on your brain, because this is something that you want to be able to tell your children. That was one of those moments. I win, motherfucker. I win.

When you’re fearful, you stumble.

My definition of courage is never letting anyone define you.

I don’t know what happens next. At the end, I just want to feel completion. What’s completion? I don’t know.

I remember finishing my book and thinking, Okay, now I’m going to settle down, have kids. I’m going to ride off quietly into the sunset. Now look. It seems like I will forever be that crazy girl who never rides off into the sunset. I’m always going to be the one riding the fucking bronco. In assless chaps.

Jameson was crowned porn's best new starlet in 1996 and inducted into the industry's hall of fame in 2006. She left acting behind to write her memoirs and launch a clothing line: House of Jameson.

by Cal Fussman, Esquire August 2008-
-photo by Shawn Mortensen-

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Grey Tie Infatuation

Retail therapy is evil. Therapy itself was invented by the devil so the wicked could justify their actions. At least, that’s what Ray Wise told me.

Retail therapy only gives you a temporary sense of pleasure, until you realize how much you’ve actually spent. Or worse, when you pay by plastic, because you’ve spent money you don’t have. Which would explain why the term ‘credit card debt’ seem so common these days.

Usually this problem rarely concerns me because, usually, it belongs to the feminine world. Men aren’t familiar with the term retail therapy or any problems associated with it. In fact, most men aren’t familiar with the word ‘retail’ at all.

However, on few rare occasions, it decides to infect one of the male species and it becomes quite the worry. Especially when it decided upon me as its latest victim last Monday.

All I wanted to do was to get a fresh Himalaya facial wash to replace for the one I had run out and be done with it. And it is usually a hassle free errand even if it is at Suria. I’ve been there a million times. What could possibly go wrong?

And I was telling myself exactly that while I was standing in the middle of Parkson, at the men’s tie section. In front of me resting snakily on the display table was a gorgeous D&G grey silk tie.

‘I could use one of those’ I said to myself.

But that would be impulsive buying. And you know how I am not into that. At least, for the time being. So, I decided to check out other places. Besides, it’ll only take five minutes to the Himalaya store. And so it began.

What started out as a simple browsing exercise turned into an obsession to find that elusive grey tie.

Why a grey tie? I’ll tell you why.

While a slim black tie will always be on that go-to basics on hand list, this fall a simple grey tie belongs right beside it. One that’s matte silk or wool – there’s nothing essential about a shiny grey tie – in a medium-to-dark shade. It’ll add balance to solid-colour shirts and go well with a crisp white shirt, too.

Tie by Steven Alan

And, since in all of Parkson the D&G tie is the only one to come close to the shade I’m looking for, I began to suspect that the lesser brands were so obsessed with patterns to even considering offering their customers a plain grey. With that in mind, I just couldn’t help myself but to designer-store hopping.

But, before we get there, let me tell you something about designer stores. The ones in Malaysia, that is. They can be so arrogant at times. If I’m led to believe, designer stores in Europe (particularly in Zurich, and some even say Frankfurt) really pamper you as customers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t buy anything in the end. Upon entrance you are offered a seat AND a drink. And you’re there just to look at cuff links.

Over here, well, I’m sorry if I don’t look Middle Eastern enough but the people at Dunhill did not even acknowledge my existence when I walked in. I could have bought something, you know. I have the financial means, you bunch of plonks. But I wouldn’t now for that insulting lack of attention. At least the people at Aigner greeted me, before immediately carry on with their own business (which is sucking up to their Middle Eastern customers). And, sadly, Hugo Boss did not fare quite well either. Greeting, yes, but then the stalker move by the attending store staff which as if to suggest I was looking to steal something rather than pay for it. I say ‘sadly’ because I have tremendous respect for the Hugo Boss line. I guess, that as far it’ll go for the time being.

The better ones were Ferré, even though they don’t offer men’s ties, which they politely pointed out. And, of course, Giorgio Armani. I had to decline ‘assistance’ from them twice. Mainly because they didn’t have any plain grey ties. I left without being offered any champagne but it was flattering nonetheless.

However, despite my visits to numerous designer stores, which includes Zara and Ralph Lauren, none had the right one. All my hope laid rest on one more stop: Isetan’s men’s section.

And, although the tie section once again disappointed, I finally rested my eyes upon a fine piece at Raoul’s corner. It is grey, it is plain, it is silk, it is perfect. I went to pay for it almost immediately. And, at 50% discount, it was quite a bargain.

I was making my way home a delighted man, having coveted a stylish looking tie. The euphoria was insurmountable. That is, when I finally arrived home and took out the latest addition to my wardrobe again to have a closer look. All by myself in my room, without the glitz of a shopping mall, I realize my grey tie look ominously like a silver tie. And how I begin to hate myself for it. It’ll be one of those ‘why did I bought this?’ moments.

It does say ‘grey’ on the tag but it could easily pass as silver. Which means it is not the medium to dark shade that I was supposed to look for. Which means, my efforts were ruined. Well, maybe ‘ruined’ is a bit strong. I mean, it is a Raoul tie. Couldn’t be that bad, could it?. It just means I need to find a darker shade grey tie next time. Now, how hard could that be?

And while at it, I could probably scout for my other three ties. Because, truth is, there’s no such thing as a tie for every occasion. Sorry, there’s just isn’t. The good news, however, is that a man can survive on three ties alone. A dark stripe, a bright solid, and a subtle pattern like the ones shown here are versatile and classic, and between them you’re ready for whatever life throws your way.

And a grey one (among others e.g. Donald Trump's gold) would compliment the three.

From left: Ties by Brooks Brothers, Hickey Freeman, DKNY

Oh, just so you know, I did manage to get myself a new Himalaya facial wash in the end. I told you retail therapy is evil. See what I mean?

Bring Out The Gray, Will Welch, GQ August 2008
Esquire's $5000 Wardrobe

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What Everyone Will Be Talking About: Movies

This is hard to believe but Penélope Cruz has become one hell of an actress. Even in English. See her (naked!) alongside Ben Kingsley in Elegy, a surprise bit of Oscar bait that mines male commitment phobia. Then watch her (kissing Scarlett Johansson!) in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which thankfully, is more Match Point than Scoop.

-Mickey Rapkin and Kevin Sintumuang, GQ August 2008-

"It's really the least sexy thing you can ever imagine!"

-Scarlett Johansson on that kiss-

You're Not Hot

Now, here’s a hypothetical question.

Let’s say, you want to piss off someone, who would it rather be? A US Senator or a 20-something blonde socialite? And you may answer, ‘Why would I want to piss off a 20-something blonde socialite?’ Exactly. But that's what John McCain did.

You should notice flashes of Brit and Paris before Obama’s face came up and it is the McCain camp’s strategy to liken Barrack as a celebrity akin to those two. ‘It’s beyond dispute that (Obama) has become the biggest celebrity in the world. But do the American people really want to elect the biggest celebrity in the world?’ asked Steve Schmidt, McCain campaign strategist.

And, (surprise, surprise) someone did not take this lightly. But you know what? It wasn’t Barrack.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

(Here's a direct link if the video won't just fuckin' appear)

I think we all can learn a lesson here. To mess with a US presidency candidate is one thing, but don’t you even dare crossing paths with a billionaire heiress. Especially the one with a pet Chihuahua.

Monday, August 04, 2008

But I'm Still Not Calling You JT

Quality time with my mother usually involves spending time together in the living room watching the TV, apart from the occasional trips to the movie theatres. And she’s the one holding the remote during these important family moments. Which means, if there’s no Jennifer Lopez movies on either HBO, Cinemax or Star Movies (which would offer me some form of entertainment), she’d flicked on to the Asian Food Channel. And, as of luck would have had it that day, Sugar was not on and neither was Michael Smith. So, I had no choice but to endure the Hallmark channel as she pressed the numbers 702.

But, in truth, it is not that bad, really. I mean, that Doc Martin can be quite amusing at times. And, wait a minute, actually, it can really be that bad. But Hallmark just had to pull out its trump card on me that day. They just had to do their worst.

Oprah was on.

And my mother was more than happy to settle on that. Oh the things a son must do for sacrifice.

However, surprisingly (and I really do hope this does not turn out to be a trend), I rather enjoyed this particular show, as I had the chance to see this:

This performance was so good it gave me goose bumps. I mean, I did not even notice Scarlett Johansson wasn’t even there.

I honestly cannot believe that I am writing about Justin Timberlake again. I used to have so much beef about him. For some reason I could not shake off his former N’Sync image. To me, he’s still that ginger haired teeny bopper doing his Bye Bye Bye routine. And, somehow, managed to bed Britney, then Cameron and now Jessica. Not to mention sharing the pool with Scarlett. I was so envious of him that I fucking hate him! And now, he came up with this. For which I cannot lavish enough praise upon. Suddenly, I no longer see the boy band. Suddenly, I see Justin Timberlake as one seriously cool guy.

And now, I no longer hate him for snogging all those women. Well, bravo. I mean, the closest I ever got (and the rest of the male population) to seeing Britney’s private parts is through those famed pictures. Although I may have to thank Paris for that. She might have convinced Brit with that whole ‘breeze’ thing. Nice going, Paris. Seriously. But back to Justin.

And, may I add, the only person I know who can successfully pull off that half-beard look. I tried to imitate but I only managed once, by accident, when I forgot to shave one day. And it only lasted for an evening. The next morning, I began to look like a homeless person.

And one more thing about Justin is how incredibly funny the guy really is. I know The Love Guru has been receiving awful reviews but the moment I saw the trailer, I can’t get enough of his Quebec Pizza joke. Y’know? Like in the porno? And that was just that beginning. He soon followed it up by hosting the ESPY Awards and he suddenly became a world of his own. I know chances are he was not involved in any of the writing. Okay, possibly a bit. His last name is not DeGeneres. But, then again, I could not recall any pop stars who can pull off a comedic performance so well as such as he did. Could you?

He’s funny, he was, is and probably will always be dating Hollywood’s best looking babes and all the while selling millions of records. And don’t forget that half-beard.

It seems, at long last, I have to admit that Justin Timberlake has earned a respectable notch in my book. You are the man, Justin. But I still think Bringing Sexy Back is a stupid song.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Change Of Style: Malaysia ala Arsenal

When Man United finally released a club statement saying they would not be coming to Malaysia for the friendly match following the Asian Cup furore between FAM and AFC, sometime late July last year, football fans throughout the country cried foul and branded the dispute ‘stupid’ as in the end, it was football who were the ultimate losers.

Few, if any, would have noticed, but it could have turned out to be a blessing in disguise after all.

One year later, at the Shah Alam Stadium, Malaysia was to take on Chelsea and fans were coming in droves. And I don’t think they were mainly consist of Chelsea fans. Well, obviously some do came to support the national team but I looked around and some of them were wearing Barcelona, Man United shirts and one even wore an England strip with the name ‘Rooney’ at the back. I think, coming to see Luiz Felipe Scolari and one of the finalists of last season’s Champion’s League is one attraction, but some quarters were there just to witness world-class football. Period. More so it has been quite a custom in recent years to have some fancy football team coming to our shores for a warm-up game before their actual season starts in Europe or a summer tournament and with last year’s dispute which left Man United unable to come and appease their fans, that hunger and anticipation never went fulfilled and you know when temptations are left unsatisfied. Suppress that for a year and the result is a near capacity Shah Alam Stadium. There were at least 50 000 football crazy fans present and Steve Darby correctly put it ‘This is what Shah Alam should be’. Because, honestly speaking, rarely has Shah Alam experience such a crowd, even when Selangor were doing well.

A huge crowd? That’s it? That’s your blessing in disguise? Well, I haven’t finished yet. The huge turnout was only the first part. The second part was the football match itself.

Chelsea, one of the elite teams in Europe against Malaysia, a team ranked 166th in the current FIFA rankings. Quite simply, it was a David vs Goliath match. What’s more, Chelsea thrashed their previous two opponents, Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals and Chengdu Blades 4-0 and 7-0 respectively. Certainly the omen did not look good for Malaysia. The coach promised a fighting display but we all heard that before. Usually a smokescreen for the inevitable.

However, the inevitable did not happen.

Malaysia, quite remarkably, played surprisingly well. And there was at least 50 000 people who bear witness to that. Probably millions more after Wednesday’s delayed telecast.

Finally, after years of frustration, the Malaysian national team came onto the field and turned on the style. And they did it, in the most acrimonious fashion yet. On home soil, against a team led by the England captain and in front of more than 50 000 local fans.

Sure the team lost and Chelsea only viewed it as a ‘match training’ but when you’re ranked 166th in the world, coming head to head even against Scott Sinclair’s explosive pace is a challenge in its own right. It did not matter Chelsea was not taking it seriously. Point is, Malaysia did and it showed.

No more evident were the long balls we were so accustomed to when the national team takes on foreign opposition. Balls were played out of defence. Attacks were coordinated through a series one-twos and short passes to take advantage of off the ball runs. Quite frankly, they were similar to Chelsea’s way of play. But of course, they are stronger, quicker and more technically gifted.

Even so, looking back at the result, a 2-0 loss is quite commendable. ‘2-0 is a football score. While 7-0 is not,’ pointed out Steve Darby. And those two goals were legitimately conceded. It was not a result of stupid or individual mistakes. They were not from corners, penalties, free kicks or own goals. The first one needed a pinpoint through pass from Joe Cole to release Anelka while the second came from a cleverly disguised shot from Lampard to feed Ashley Cole right in front of the keeper. Chelsea was made to work for them. Apart from that Mohd Helmi had blocked a shot well from a rampaging Michael Essien into the penalty area and took care of that volley from Deco. On the other end, Petr Cech was not left alone scratching his buttocks and was made to work on a couple of occasions. Including inside three minutes when Amirulhadi Zainal came bursting through only to drive his shot millimetres wide of the right post. Overall, despite Chelsea enjoying the bigger share of possession, Malaysia gave a good run for their money. As the statistics would show, each team had 10 attempts on goal. Chelsea had 6 on target while Malaysia had 4. Again, not bad. I even think that’s even better than some Premier League teams could manage.

Which now begs the question of how, by the power greyskull, did we manage to achieve that? How did we get the nerve and audacity of not just holding the world stars of Chelsea at bay but also trying to beat them at their own game of carefully constructed build-up play? Where did that composure, finesse and overall confidence come from? And almost successfully pulling it off? I’ll tell you one thing. It is not something coincidental. There’s a reason behind this change of philosophy. And akin to every football team who had experience such a transformation, credit can only be due to the head coach. As in this case, will the real B. Sathianathan please stand up?

Witnessing, then and there, how Malaysia put on a brave fight against the mighty Blues, it has become apparent that the Merdeka Tournament victory was no fluke at all. Far from it. It was rightfully earned. I would not lie to you that when Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah personally appointed him as the new head coach of the senior team right after the victory ceremony, I was one of the skeptics doubting his abilities.

Surely enough, the World Cup Qualifiers did not present any new surprises. Malaysia never stood a chance against the likes of Bahrain. And when the 2007 SEA Games came along, a priority tournament, we managed to get 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss in the group stages which, inevitably, prevented us from reaching the semi-final stages for the first time since 1999. It was the same old story for Malaysia.

But as any frustrated and arrogant Malaysian football fan, I never actually saw those matches. Nor did I give much care. I only saw the results and dismissively disregard them just as much. And that is not how you assess a football team. Not even by watching them play on the telly. No. As that only gives you half the story. You do it just as how Sven-Goran Eriksson does it. By attending the matches yourself and seeing the action live on the pitch. And I am pleased to say that I was one of the thousands of people in Shah Alam that day who had their eyes opened of what’s really been going on with our national team. The enterprising play was uncanny.

Which again brings us the question. How did B. Sathianathan achieve what other previous national coaches have failed to do? That is, improving the national team and most importantly introducing a new style of play, which may well be offer something solid to fall back on in future development. And I think I know the answer.

Before the nation celebrated its emphatic victory in the Merdeka Tournament, before B. Sathinathan became a household name, before he became the coach of the Under 23 side, he was a coach for the Arsenal Soccer School Malaysia. Which means, at one point in time, he was working with a guidebook from the Emirates hierarchy that would include personal insights from Arsene Wenger himself on how to make your players play as he makes Fabregas & Co play. I knew there was something oddly familiar about that performance in Shah Alam. I was right about it being a little BPL-ly.

So, Malaysia following the Arsenal blueprint. Is it the right thing? Well, it should be. Too long now has the national team has been playing ugly football and you can only get way with it by winning something just like the Greeks did with Euro 04. Malaysia has not and that makes it rubbish. At least now we know how to play sexy football. And that, we can have no complaints. Kind of like Arsenal fans. And, kind of the Arsenal team, we’d probably win nothing either.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Alternative Oscars

Best Gratuitous Nudity: Marisa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Actresses tend to be more willing to get naked onscreen when they’re young, unknown, and hungry. Lately, though, there’s been an influx of long-established celebs who suddenly become allergic to clothes as they hit middle age and the ingenue roles start drying up: Meg Ryan (In the Cut), Jennifer Aniston (as close as she’s ever come in The Break-Up), and now Tomei, who spends much of Sidney Lumet’s heist-gone-wrong picture parading around topless for no particular reason. Not only does she look delectable at 43, but her casual exposure gives this contrived and glibly cynical film a disarming frankness that it desperately needs.

-Mike D' Angelo (Esquire, March 2008)-

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Unofficial Football Fan

I really need to call Mei.

There’s certainly some form of payment to be involved but it’s fair considering the service I’m asking her to do for me.

I am a Chelsea supporter. For the past decade or so. I remember every triumph, every memorable goal and also every heartache. I have the current team roster at the tip of my tongue. Including their jersey numbers, positions and nationalities. To a non-football person, I seem like an ardent fan. Which I am but I don’t like to be viewed as one (except in cyberspace). Which explains why I am not a registered member of the Chelsea Supporters Club Malaysia despite being aware of its existence for a few years now.

It all seems too die-hardy for me. Because, let’s be honest, I was born in KL and it’s thousands of miles away from West London. And to refer ‘Chelsea’ as ‘we’ (as some devilish supporters tend to do when referring to their football club of choice) just seems too pretentious. As well as going to Modesto’s every Saturday and having a binge around a football match. So the thought of not joining CFC Malaysia never actually bothered me. That is, until yesterday.

Chelsea are playing Malaysia tonight (Tuesday) and being one of the top four teams of the BPL, they just can’t have a match here and not having any sort of commercial stunt while they’re at it. And for Chelsea, that stunt was an autograph session at the Adidas store at Pavilion KL yesterday evening.

Of course, I was all giddy and excited to at least get up close with John Terry or Frank Lampard despite finding out that it was to be a closed event merely hours before the actual thing. Meaning, permitted inside, along with the footballers, were guests of Adidas and select members of CFC Malaysia. At that moment I was beginning to lament my decision not to join up the club. But, hey, if I could just catch a glimpse of them from outside the store, I’d be happy enough.

As it turned out, as I made my way off the escalator, the size of the crowd assembled in front of the store was quite overwhelming. The whole entrance of the store was totally blocked out of view by the crowd. As I try to find way through the whole mess, as if like clockwork, chants of ‘Chelsea! Chelsea!’ began to resonate out of nowhere A clear sign the stars had arrived. People with camera phones, digital cameras and SLRs were all vying for viewing positions. To avoid the risk of being labeled as an asshole, I jostled only a bit and for all that trouble, in the end I only managed to get a glimpse, through the armpit of a mannequin at the display window, of what I think is the back of Michael Ballack’s head. My lament of not signing up as a fan club suddenly turned to regret.
Suddenly a late comer to the event bossed through the crowd, while talking on his phone, showed the security people his CFC Malaysia membership card and duly gained entrance. By then, I was tormented with rage. My decision, or lack of it, of not taking the trouble of merely signing up has came back to haunt me and it bit me right in the ass.

Collecting any sense of determination I had left, I inched myself towards the front of the crowd thinking if I didn’t catch them on their way in, maybe a little hope pose on their way out. As I edged towards my objective the security personnel stationed at the entrance suddenly held up his arms and announced something inaudible. His voice drowned out in the agitated crowd as I couldn’t make out his words as rather surprisingly, the crowd began to slowly disperse. Before I could figure out what exactly had happened, someone broke the news - The Chelsea players had left the premises. They exited through the back door. My hope evaporated. I was left a broken and exasperated man.

Exhaling heavily, I flicked open my phone and scrolled down the phonebook to ‘Mei (Chel Msia)’. A directory I entered years ago but never actually dialed the number. She is the contact person should anyone want to register as a member of CFC Malaysia. She will ask for a registration fee, no doubt. But, hey, if by it I could meet with Chelsea football players in the future in an event such as this, I’m way for it. Even if it is three years away, probably the next time they decide come to town but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that dampen my spirit. Plus, I could use a Chelsea key chain right now.

I really do need to call Mei.