Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunburst-ing This Saturday

I hope it doesn’t rain. Because that was the only downside last year. And we’re not talking about a 5 minute drizzle here. It was one of those monsoon-like downpours. Water droplets so big it hurts when it hits you. And, if I remembered correctly, it lasted for nearly two hours. And it didn’t stop there. Consequently, they were pools of water everywhere. If that didn’t ruin your shoes then the globs of mud formed afterwards definitely will. Thankfully, it was a 12-hour long event. So, eventually, the water dried up, the ground became less squishy but, sorry, your feet will continue to stink long into the night. Just don’t ‘air’ them until you get home.

Any hoo, Sunburst will return this Saturday. (Can I get a boo yah? BOO YAH!!) And all music fans nationwide rejoice. Even though it almost didn’t turn out that way.

All I can say is, thank you, Korn, for agreeing to come and give us something worth to shout about.

I am one of those who bought the early-bird tickets so that I can save a good 60 bucks, especially important in these economic downtimes, and, I’m sure as with quite a few people, I did have my doubts. It was the final day before the RM60 discount expires and in that moment in time the headliners were N.E.R.D. and below them, Butterfingers. No disrespect to these people as they are much better musicians than I can ever hope to be, but I did gave a pass on seeing Rihanna and Jason Mraz because I thought paying that much to see them perform just wasn’t worth it. You think I’m going to spend 12 hours outdoors for an event that culminates with Pharrell Williams and friends ‘moving’ people? Exactly my thought. But, there I was. Sitting in my car, a Sunburst ticket in my hands, shaking my head in disbelief. I could be making my first big mistake of the year. But, if anything to go by, they had to make it better, right? That’s what you normally do after a successful first outing, right? Much to my chagrin, and I think with all early-bird ticket holders, all we can do is hope. Like when Liverpool had to play at Old Trafford. See how well things turned out over there, eh?

Rumours from last year said they were planning for Smashing Pumpkins. That never even comes close to materialize. But the one people keep hampering about was Coldplay. Judging from the success of their latest album, they are certainly big. And I mean globally. Publicity wise, it would have been brilliant for them to come to Sunburst. But, for me, personally, Coldplay isn’t exactly what I’d want to finish off a music festival. They’re sort of mellow. Sort of soft rock. You couldn’t really imagine a mosh pit forming at a Coldplay concert, do you?

But, thanks to that Grammy win, they’ve raised their price a bit (or so goes my theory) and so Coldplay no longer became an option. And I couldn’t be more excited when I found out Korn was the back-up plan.

I have wanted to see Korn live for so long that I’ve given up on that dream. Now, it became so ridiculously simple. This Saturday I’ll be seeing Korn live. With my early-bird ticket. I’m psyched. And, come to think of it, I don’t care if it rains.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Best Calendar EVER!

Meet Jarah.

Jarah Mariano, 25, was born in Kauai, Hawaii, and raised in Mission Viejo, California. At age 15, she was stopped by a scout in Santa Monica and hasn’t stopped modeling. After high school, Jarah moved to NYC where she attended Pace University, earning her degree while modeling for Victoria’s Secret, MAC, Armani Exchange, Roxy, Quiksilver, bla bla bla…you know what? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Jarah now features on the door of my bedroom. Whoo! Go Jarah!

I’m happy for my door. It used to be such a lonely door in 2008. Not a single scantily-clad babe for the whole of 12 months. It was such a dark and gloomy period. But the good times are back again!

Ever since the Malaysian version of FHM magazine came about, there was only one thing I really was excited about. And that is their annual calendar. Because, before we had our local version, I once came across the said calendar but from the UK edition FHM. Needless to say, the semi-nude (and some topless!) women, posing in great provocativeness, printed on high quality paper just drove me berserk. From then on, I couldn’t stop wishing how I would love to get one of those some day. So when Malaysia decided to have its own version of the male magazine, my prayers were answered. Or so I thought.

Take the 2001 edition, for instance. It was filled with celebrities. Normally, this should be considered a good thing. But when you talk about Paula Malai Ali, Asha Gill and Kavita Sidhu, these are established industry players. They have achieved fame. They didn't need to expose too much skin just to make a staement. Let alone topless (well, maybe not Kavita, but that’s another story). Sexy poses, yeah. But most of them were fully clothed. Like Louise Redknapp and Joey Mead (Okay, I’m not too sure about Joey Mead). And some of the choices were awful. Alicia Silverstone? Lene Nystrom? You wouldn’t believe some of the difficult months I had to endure. Suffice to say, I was disappointed. But, just like our national football team, it’s the best we’ve got. No use complaining. There were no other alternatives. It sure as hell beat nature themed calendars. And, even with contempt, I continue to adorn my bedroom door with Malaysia’s FHM calendar year in year out.

Until late last year.

I was still bummed out for missing out the calendar issue for 2008. It had to do with my laziness that I’m trying to curb nowadays. Generally, I was PO with myself.

But then, the trip to Gold Coast happened and I’ll be forever grateful for the day before we had to come back home.

The trip to Paradise Country to see the kangaroos and the koalas ended surprisingly early. It was just a half-day affair. So the family had plenty of time to spare. And, naturally, with Mom leading, we ended going to the largest shopping mall in town – The Pacific Fair Shopping Centre. Personally, I’d rather lounge all day at Hooters (and remains one of my many life's obsessions). And, since her children are no longer 12 and share almost nothing in common interest, we decided to split up and venture where ever we please individually and meet back at a spot after a designated time. Fine.

As I walked around, trying to look for some Oakley shades with the hope that they cost less over there (they don't), I stumbled upon the new Mustang displayed on centre court as part of a marketing gig. I was stoked, of course, because it’s quite a nice car, even more in real life, and what’s more, there’s no chance I’ll be seeing one on Malaysian roads.

However, half an hour later, with no Oakley store in sight and a black Mustang smothered with my breath and finger prints, I head back to the family meeting spot. Along the way, I’m not sure but it was probably habit, I stepped into a stationery/convenient store. I was walking along the magazine aisle and almost stopped breathing when I came up to the calendar section. There on display were some cool calendars. A very funny Dilbert and Futurama calendar, among them. But I couldn’t take my eyes off the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar. Right there, on the shelf. It was a gem. I stood there, motionless and just couldn't believe my luck. I picked up a copy and today, it hangs beautifully on my bedroom door. I think it goes without saying, it’s my best calendar EVER!

Jarah Mariano is one thing. I had Brooklyn Decker for January.

And there’s still plenty more where that came from!

Life was good. I was basking in glory. Adorning my door is one hard-to-get-locally item and it’s hot and I smuggled it from 4000 miles away. I was happy. I’ve never been so excited to look what date it is every time the occasion calls for it. But, perfection was not to last.

Something really did ruin my euphoria a few weeks later I returned from Australia. Again, my habit kicked in again and I walked into a Borders store and just guess what I came across on the shelves displaying calendars for sale. The same Dilbert and Futurama calendars. Okay. But, beside them, the exact 2009 SI calendar that I had painstakingly flew in from another f-ing continent! Damn it! And mine had Australian holiday reminders on them! Just what the heck is a Waitangi Day!?

At least a dose of comfort is that the one at Borders would cost me RM52 to get. While the one I bought at that stationery store at Aussie sold at 15 dollars. That’s about RM36. RM16 difference. Damn right I got the better bargain! I refuse to think otherwise.

However, even though my SI calendar is no longer as unattainable as I would have liked, it does provide the future with good impetus. From 2010 onwards, I could kiss goodbye to FHM’s calendar and get my hands on SI’s. Even if they are not stacked close by to men’s lifestyle mags like Zoo and Playboy Australia. (No, as much as I would've liked to, I didn’t smuggle them). Lainla kalau ade orang nak bawak balik kan utk aku dr US. kann, Aritha?

But, for the sake of fun, I also bought this year’s FHM calendar and guess what? It continues to disappoint. This time they have this Girl Next Door theme but how am I suppose to get excited with chicks named Moon Ko and Chan Siong Meay? (but I have to hand it to Jezamine Lim and Gail James. They are hawt!) What’s more, the air-brushing techniques is just so telling. They’re so obviously fake as Pam Anderson’s boobs. Although, I wouldn’t deny SI also does its fair share of air-brushing but theirs is so much more difficult to distinguish. Besides, when you have someone like Jarah, you wouldn't even bother for such things. And, last but not least, I appreciate the swimsuit route taken by FHM but swimsuits are one thing. One-pieces are another. And on some of them, where the words Arena and Speedo can be clearly seen, doesn’t exactly translate into hotness. Lainla kalau Jessica Alba tu pakai D&G. Always two-piece. Always full-bodied view. And why, are none of the girls wet!? How can you have swimsuit shoots without water? You are getting way too sloppy, FHM.
'Til then, join me next time for more gender biased discussions. Aloha.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Body 2 Body and Curbing Your Laziness

I didn’t know why stopped buying KLue. It’s a pretty decent mag. It’s colourful and lists down all the very interesting things happening around KL during the whole month, unlike some mags which usually concentrate just on the nightlife. Plus, it’s dirt cheap. It’s about one fifth of the price I pay for the silly foreign mags that features a naked Jen Aniston on the cover. And Gisele Bundchen in boys underwear? Megan Fox in a pink bikini? Oh the nerve!

Anyway, I bought a copy of the January issue because, I can’t exactly remember why but I think it’s because I had one of my ‘why not?’ moments. And maybe it was because Top Gear was sold out and the thought of leaving the store empty handed is slightly annoying. Could be that. But I was glad I bought that copy of KLue because it offered me an opportunity that could pose a significant moment in my adult life. Yes, using the word ‘adult’ to define anything towards my own personal context is quite freaky.

Matahari Books and Amir Muhammad (the man behind Malaysian Politicians Say The Darndest Things series) made an open call for entries for their latest anthology project entitled Body2Body which carries the theme Alternative Sexuality. Think Will & Grace and The L Word. Or Olivia Wilde.

Naturally, I’m excited as Hammy about his. Mostly because I blew the last chance such an opportunity came along – the KL Stories project, which now available on MPH bookshelves across throughout the country and titled Urban Odysseys: KL Stories. And it hurts to think that it could have been my name among the contributing writers.

As such, the hell I’m going to let this one slip away. Although, truthfully, I almost did.

I bought the mag around mid-January and let me iterate how much it was truly a lucky break since they were the only representative from the print media to sound it out and it could have been a big possibility to have missed it. Unless you’re an avid follower of Amir’s blog.

Anyway, I bout the mag in mid-January and the deadline for submission was Feb 28. Which means I had about a month and a half to come up with a piece of my own. And, although as Hammy as I was, the theme alternative sexuality is not something that I am familiar with and hence, not much ideas going around in my head to conjure up a tantalizing story then and there. I needed help. Normally, I’d give up at this point but in this case, I am filled with determination. And when there’s a will, there’s Nieta, one of my more colourful friends which springs to mind (I thought of Kak Seri Siantan but since all of his mis-adventures usually concerns racy topics, I gave it a pass). If there’s one person who can shed light on this topic for me, it is him. Or at least I though he was.

And, just to add unnecessary drama to the creative process, my penchant for procrastination nearly come full swing again and almost costing me the same mistake twice. I had the idea of meeting up with Nieta for weeks beforehand and it was only during the last 7 days before deadline that I actually did meet him. Not really a clever move, I know. Personally, I blame it on global warming.

But, as it turned out, meeting up with Nieta became one of those moments. You know, when you sat down and try to remember those funny stories that you always tell to your friends during those get-togethers and nothing comes to mind? And that what exactly happened. Not really helpful when considering the time constraint. But he did direct me to Cik Sal in which he says a prime source for hilarious anecdotes. And Ms Sasha Fierce also helped in handing me Imah’s latest blog add (which is always good for a dose of humour).

And let me explain why I decided to go with humour. The thought brings me back to Silverfish New Writings 2 (in which I haven’t returned to Cipoi since I borrowed it nearly a year ago *hai saigok*) and it was filled with morbid stories. Technically the writings were excellent but I end up being depressed every time I finish a story. So I thought, screw that, I want to be entertained when I read something. I’m going to write comedy because, let’s face it, every body likes comedy.

So, I decided to go funny. And Imah and Cik Sal were good sources for these lighthearted tidbits. As the week dragged, I became more confident in getting a piece done and beginning to see a way.

But, my procrastinativeness was still a problem as my conversation with Cik Sal only took place by Wednesday evening and by Friday morning, I was still looking at a blank Word document. I had a few plans for the weekend but it seemed some of them had to scrapped. One of them being playing futsal with/against Ellie (I hope that’s the correct way of spelling it). If she had come, that is. (Ellie :)~). Futsal with Bonzek can wait another month.

So, it was crunch time. I worked out a draft and by 4am Saturday morning, I was a writing machine. I was in the zone. Taking breaks for only meals and baths, and the occasional stretching.

And I learnt a few things about my style of writing along the way. One of them was, since the limit was set at 3000 words (4000 if you couldn’t help yourself), I was initially worried that this can be quite a challenge and of course, I worried too much. I ended up writing more than 3500 word spanning 8 pages. No writer’s block there.

And second, it was probably I was inspired the Royale with Cheese conversation between John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson from Pulp Fiction, which forms the basis of my story, but I tend to include a lot of dialogues in my writing. So much, it almost resembles a screenplay. Which gave me the thought, maybe I should do that one day. God knows how rubbish the writing are these days on Malaysian TV and most part of the movie industry (a haunted congkak? Really?).

I finally managed to finish at around 5 pm Saturday which roughly translates how much time I had spent in front of the computer monitor. Still, some editing work was due and after going through it a couple of times, I was ready to submit and did rightfully so at around 9 pm. The earlier optimistic thought of probably submitting a second entry just so to increase my chances of getting published evaporated almost as quickly realizing the level of exhaustion I was under.

Funny thing is, looking back, it was the first short story I have ever written, more so to be considered for publication. And while I am proud of it, and the glorious prospect of getting published, there were a lot of things I wished I could have improved. The too much dialogue is one thing but the flow as well. It’s not as smooth as I would have liked it. And there’s too much characters. And some of the character’s name, oh you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to create a fake name, was so troublesome. You just can’t create a common name off the fly. It has to be unique so it will stand out and remembered. And it has to fit with the personality of the character. And since ambiguity is a strong notion in my story, that made it much more of a challenge.

However, in the end, as Amir Muhammad declared, a total of 59 submissions were received and 20 will be selected to be compiled into what will become Malaysia’s first queer anthology. So it seems I have a pretty good chance. Although, mathematically speaking I only have a 33.8% probability. Not exactly favorable but I’ll take it as it is.

So, fingers and toes crossed, come August 2009, if things go well, I’ll achieve my 2008 resolution (or was it 2007?).

Which brings me to my 2009 resolution. Apart from the trip to Ko Pha Ngan which now seems more difficult to be realized since more and more of my friends are tying the knot (3 in the last month alone), I want to add another for this year. That is, to curb my laziness. From now on I just want to do things. I used to think a lot before committing myself to something but I want to skip that part now. This can also be linked to my newfound ‘why not?’ mentality because that is always the more interesting question. Needless to say I was inspired by the Yes Man trailer and more so by the movie. Red Bull!

But I have to warn myself and maybe to some of my friends, this is a resolution. Don’t expect a miracle. Laziness has a very strong relapse tendency. It’s not like quitting alcohol addiction when you have to go to a pub (or in some cases the nearby 7-E) to slip back. Or sex addiction when, well, that really takes a lot of work. But while we are on the subject, at what point does sex become an addiction? It’s not exactly abusing the body like Heroin or cigarettes. And, honestly, is three times a week really that much to ask for?

Anyway, nothing ever comes close to laziness when it comes to overcome it. Because, you know how easy it is to relapse into laziness? You can do that by just doing nothing. And men are big fans of doing nothing. In fact it’s one of our favorite things to do. Which explains a lot to why we love watching sports on TV and take long toilet breaks at the office.

So, curbing my laziness is, at this point, quite an ambitious project. And one of the first things I’ll be doing to mark this new vigorous me, is take up Italian lessons. Mainly because it was always one of those things that I want to do but never got around actually doing it. Plus, I watch too much mobster movies and never got tired of Marisa Tomei in Only You. That’s right. Il destino. It is written in the stars. Capische?

‘Til next time, folks. More on the ‘why not’ mentality. Cheers.