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.