Monday, December 29, 2008

The Seven Deadly Scenes


2 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of dropping by to witness the theatrical debut of the Lovely Miss APLE ANG in "The Seven Deadly Scenes". For the uninformed, APLE ANG was a secondary school junior of mine, one of those bright kids you just couldn't take your eyes off.

So there I was, leaving office at 8.20pm (show starts at 8.30pm) and having no dinner plans. Knowing that this would be my only chance to catch APLE ANG in action, I threw caution to the wind and foolishly decided to catch the show. Mercifully, KLPac was only 10 minutes from my office. Couple that with a wrong turn, ticket buying plus some mad dashing, and you had me 5 minutes early at 8.35pm. In true Malaysian fashion.

(Note to APLE ANG: Up to 5 MINUTES before the show, I was still undecided on whether I should rush for it or just go home. 'Cos I've been late for a theatre once, and it sure sucked. Just thought you'ld like to know. =p)

Upon reaching, we were ushered into a room the size of 2 bedrooms and made to sit on the floor. Ever being the pampered theatregoer, I expected a theatre hall with big-time stage and lights. Kind of a letdown. But in the end, the small venue made for much more intimate and in-your-face drama.

Moving on to the story synop - oh what the heck, let's hear it for the SPOILERS! You've been warned.

This drama-ah, very creative-one. As the title suggests, they split it into seven scenes, each depicting one of the seven sins 'in a Malaysian context'. Though almost everyone was conversing in perfect gweiloh-accented England.

Scene 1: LUST

See the girl on the left? That's APLE ANG! Though she doesn't appear in this scene, just the promotional poster.


Truth be told, my mind was wandering throughout this entire scene. Maybe it was from the dash from office. Revolves around this young guy who's insecure-yet-appears-macho and his older girlfriend who regards him a toyboy. They share some not-Umum moments, then argue about his smoking, her disrespect towards him, his father, her exes, and more. And proceed to kiss and make, um, out. Suddenly he says something wrong and she storms off.

Highlights: My first time watching a live actor smoke, French kiss and have pretend sex. Hip hip hurray.

Verdict: Like I said, my mind wasn't into it. Tak paham lah, beb.


Scene 2: GLUTTONY
Before each scene begins, a short clip plays, ending in a quote. This one's was the delicious "Heaven sends us good meat. The devil sends us good cooks."


It all started normally enough. A young married couple having a meal at the dining table. They engage in some idle chatter before he presents her with a box of Belgian chocolates. As they continue blabbering away, she continues pigging out on the sumptuous spread. They go on about how she once fell in love with his cooking, an old friend who dropped by in the afternoon and vacation plans. But for some reason, something is amiss with the guy. He keeps a fake smile plastered on his face, as though hiding something, continually asking her about the food. She loves the chicken intestine soup. The meatballs. And the special red lady's fingers.

Finally the shoe drops.

He: "Where's your wedding ring, dear?"

She: "Uhh...I left it upstairs."

He: "You lie. You were having an affair with Ravi (the friend who dropped by) and took it off, so he wouldn't know you're married."

She: "What are you talking about? You're scaring me."

He: "So...how did you like Ravi's intestines?"

She: *pukes*

Scene ends with him knocking her to her knees and raising a knife to chop her fingers. Lights off. Aiseh.

Highlights: The guy's acting. At first he was sooo nice to her it became creepy. Then he kept getting this faraway look in his eyes. And at last he shouted at her lah.

Verdict: Looking back, the ending wasn't really hard to expect. However, I was so engrossed with the guy's acting and totally meaningless dialogue that it slipped me. Nice.


Scene 3: GREED
One thing unique about this drama is that they utilise seperate 'stages'. So you had everyone looking in front for Scene 1, then lights off and voila! Scene 2 starts behind, making everyone turn around on their butts.
This was one of only two scenes that used BOTH stages. I think it was the longest too.


Courtroom drama. What more can I say? A young starry-eyed lawyer teams up with an Ah Lian politician in an effort to win the judge's favour before a big case. In the end, the cunning ol' judge turns the tables on them, pocketing double their generous offers.

Highlights: During the court proceedings, the judge was on the front stage while the prosecutors pleaded their case from the back stage. Halfway through, he asks them to approach and they both walk THROUGH the audience, peppered with excuse mes and sorry-ahs. I had a really strong urge to push them and see what happened.

Verdict: Not my thing, and not their fault either. My mind just isn't cut out for these legal stuff.


Scene 4: SLOTH
Hands-down the best pre-show quote of the night. Clip depicted a guy just sitting there staring at an apple, cutting back and forth between a close-up of his eyes and the fruit for at least a half-minute. Finally: "I'm too lazy to quote anything. - Anonymous", leaving the floor in stitches.


Very innovative and visually impressive, this one. Scene starts with two slouches on beds, male and female respectively, each on an opposite stage end. Both exhibit ABSOLUTE laziness, rolling around and pretty much refusing to budge. When suddenly a frantic series of knocks on the door interrupt their slumber.

First it comes from the guy's side. He tries to reach for the door (while still lying on the bed!), but can't. So he tugs on this rope above his bed, metaphorically signaling the girl to get it instead. Eventually, the knocking shifts to her side, where she also buries her head under the pillows to drown out the noise. She tugs her rope too, passing the buck to the guy. This continues for some time, with the knocking going both sides and each tugging their rope in increasing frustration. Gradually the knocks become punctuated with desperate calls for help which they blatantly ignore.

Then swoosh!

Nobody saw it coming. A sudden green light shines in a far corner of the room, revealing a pale-faced girl, neck trapped around a noose. She is still alive.

"Help...me." she whimpers.

Once again, the two slouches tug at the rope, tightening the noose till she drops dead.

Highlights: The deadening chill in the air as the resounding knocks grew louder and louder with not a single word of dialogue uttered. And I still can't, for the life of me, figure out how the girl managed to sneak in there without anyone noticing.

Verdict: Sheer brilliance. Visual communication at its best.

Bonus Fact of The Day: That dead girl was APLE ANG~! Though I first failed to recognise her.


Scene 5: WRATH
After Scene 4, there was a 15-minute intermission. During the break, I managed to run across Jeremy, an old friend of mine and APLE ANG. Apparently, he was helping out in some finance stuff for the play.


Another of those 'did I get it or didn't I?' ones? Focus of the scene is on a blindfolded soldier being interrogated by his Sir Commander (both played by ladies, curiously). In the background, four spirits drift around aimlessly. It appears that the soldier is being charged for killing civilians in the name of war. As he incessantly protests, the spirits speak on behalf as his 'conscience', revealing the murderous rage within him. Curiously, the spirits are themselves the civilians he killed. As the interrogation reaches boiling point, the spirits finally remove his blindfold and shackles and watch as he strangles the commander to death.

Highlights: Some pretty cool acting, with the spirits saying their lines in unison with the soldier.

Verdict: More style than substance. If there were any underlying messages, they sure eluded me.


Scene 6: ENVY
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting... APLE ANG!

Scene opens with two sisters, Summer (APLE ANG) and Autumn, sitting beside each other on a bed. Summer is packing her suitcase furiously, ready to run away from home. Autumn tries consoling her, and they start reminiscing their childhood days. Summer was always the active one who got involved in everything from digging worms to ballet, while Autumn was always sickly.

Summer: (staring at a photo of an ex) "Remember what Mom always said to me? Don't get too close to boys, because they're all after only one thing. But you were the one who was sleeping beside a boy all the time!"

Autumn: "You mean Bert right? Hehe."

Summer: "Yeah! You got Bert while I got Ernie. Actually I always preferred Bert. But every time I sneaked into your room to get Bert, Mom would always ask me to put him back, saying, "That belongs to Autumn."

Sadly, Summer never got the parental love she craved for and always felt that their parents gave more attention to Autumn. Even her ambitions were stifled when the folks only sent her to an 'Ah Beng college in Wangsa Maju' (nice one, har har).

Summer: "They never loved me! All they cared for was you! They never even bothered to attend my graduation ceremony!"

Autumn: "But Jie, it happened to coincide with their 25th wedding anniversary mah."

Summer: "Oh, how convenient. And what did they say when I showed them my graduation photos? (mimicks parents' voices) "Autumn would look sooo nice in this." Autumn this! Autumn that! There's only so much I can take!"

Autumn tries consoling her some more but to no avail. Scene ends as Summer delivers her killer line: "Oh well, I guess it won't matter. Since you left after our first birthday party."

Highlights: Truth be told, I didn't get the ending at all. Not until I caught up with APLE ANG after the show and she told me, "Autumn was dead all along."

WHOA~!

Verdict: Shades of The Sixth Sense here. I love the way the dialogue dropped hints of Autumn's death, while playing nicely to the sisters' very real struggle with sibling favouritism.


Scene 7: PRIDE
Last one! Sob sobs.


Story of an old Kopitiam franchise owner preparing for a press interview. He goes through his polished PR lines, recounting the traditional secrets of his signature coffee. Suddenly a young chap pops in and blackmails him with knowledge of the true secret of his irresistible coffee - opium lacing. He strong-arms the old man into a 'business deal' which he grudgingly discusses over drinks. As soon they seal the deal and the young man prepares to make a clean getaway, he suddenly collapses in melodramatic fashion. Yeah, his drink was laced with poison.

As the old man and his lackey cart away the lifeless body, a young lady reporter steps through the door.

"Hi sorry, I'm Siti from - YA ALLAH!"

THE END!

Highlights: Ending was funny, and good to end the night on a light note. Gotta give props to the young guy for pulling off the old man role believably as well.

Verdict: A little draggy at the end, as the old man kept drawling for at least a minute too long after the guy died. Pretty ordinary.


THREE CHEERS for APLE ANG! Look forward to seeing you more on the big stage. =)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Wrestling Story That Changed My Life


This is an allegedly true story.

There once was a wrestling promoter back in the early 90s who wanted to broadcast his weekly program on live TV. Back in those days, weekly live wrestling broadcasts were unheard of, simply due to the costly disasters a live environment could potentially trigger.

And what did this wise man say to his detractors?

"When you're on live TV, nothing can go wrong."

No one had a clue what he meant. It just didn't make sense.

But what did they know? Eventually this man got his way, and secured a contract to broadcast his program live for the first time.

Everyone was jittery - the broadcast crew, the announcers, the man himself, but above all the wrestlers scheduled to perform in the ring.

And would you believe it - somewhere in the middle of the show a wrestler slipped and fell as he stepped through the ropes.

Right in front of thousands of pairs of eyes in the arena and millions more around the world.

It was live. It couldn't be edited out.

After the show, the wrestler dejectedly caught up with the man backstage.

"I'm so sorry. I don't know what happened."

And there again came the magic words.

"When you're on live TV, nothing can go wrong."

"What? Of course anything can go wrong! It just did."

"No it didn't. When you're on live TV, if you slipped it's because you meant to do so. If you fell down it's because you meant to do so. If you forgot your lines it's because you meant to do so."

The wrestler stood in stunned silence as the man walked off. What was meant as simple encouragement turned out to be a mantra that would change his life forever.

"When you're on live TV, nothing can go wrong."

This show we call life is indeed live, as live as it gets. And like it or not, we're going to screw up once every while, regardless how carefully we plan and foresee.

But what matters is that we believe in our decisions and give our all to them. Should they turn out wrong, pick yourself back up, learn from them and try something else.

If you hurt someone, chose the wrong job, lost something - yes, it was because you meant to do so. Live unregrettably with the consequences and wing through the rest!

Indeed, when you're alive, nothing can go wrong.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Life In General


Life In General,
Is meaningless,
Is uninteresting,
Is disheartening.

Life In General,
Is an overwhelming panic of discovering your purpose and place.
Is an endless cycle of working towards something you'll never reach.
Is the hopeless realisation of how worthless your dreams are, should you achieve them.

Life In General,
Is the constant fear of being alone.
Is the painstaking search for acceptance, reverence and love.
Is the bitterness of learning that for better or worse, things surely change.

Life In General,
Is the dread of bad things following the good.
Is the impossible wish of merriment lasting forever.
Is a series of problems strung together by fleeting moments of happiness.

Life In General,
Sucks.

Let us then,
Learn to live Life In Specific.
The moments, the present, the bits and pieces.

Life In Specific,
Can be good or bad.
You choose.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Letter To Ju Liang

Hey there mate,

How are you? I'm sure you're doing fine, as you've always been.

Guess what? It finally ended. VBS, I mean.

Seemed just like yesterday we were prancing about with Clement in your living room, huh? And remember that sensational joke about oversleeping through the VBS graduation and receiving 28 missed calls? Haha. Now that's what I call scary.

Gotta confess something here. I had actually been concocting the storyline since March, solely during lonely drives home from office. Up to the time of your funeral, it was almost done and dusted. It was supposed to be a Teresa Teng-inspired musical. I think we spoke briefly about it in our final conversation.

Very hyped up, I was. This year around, I wisely snapped up the talented assistants two months ahead. Namely Joyce for choreography and Yee Ling for props. Hohoho. It doesn't get better than that. Even started approaching students for the lead roles.

But you know... things change. On the Sunday 18 hours before VBS, a few of us had our first in-depth discussion of the Teresa Teng-ey script. Conclusion was what I had been fearing and Joyce had been insinuating all along: Too much emotional build-up required for a VBS stage. In other words, it was very dangerously close to becoming boring.

BORING~!

So there and then, we brainstormed for an alternative script. Or rather, they threw ideas while my mental hands feebly grasped at straws. I was in a daze, to say the least.

It all started from one insight you shared with me last year.

"Hey Daniel... ever noticed how every year the leng luis are underused like crazy?"

I shared it with them and insisted that I wanted prominent roles for the girls. More so since I expected extra girls than boys this year.

First came the idea of a group of missionaries landing on an all-woman island. Seemed like a riot at first, but I somehow imagined this more suited for the Chinese class. So I unselfishly passed it to Chi Yuan and his definite superstar Karlson.

Then it appeared. "How about Snow Brown and the seven dwarfs? With gender reversed roles!"

At first, I was totally clueless where such a story could go. It sounded more like a joke than a proper story.

But it would have to do. I had only 72 hours to put the script to paper.

*****

Everything fell into place during Monday lunch. I deliberately sneaked out to eat on my own. There it all came to life - the pseudo-Japanese-speaking ninja, the stone-faced translator, the vain stepfather, the handsome Snow Brown, the magic mirror, the seven lengluis and their funny names.

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to type out the script even by Wednesday morning (the first day of my leave). Worse still, I had TWO other jobs to complete within the same day. But you know what pressure does for me - skipped VBS in the morning, flew through one job and spewed out the entire script with jokes on-the-spot. Seriously, I was hearing voices in my head whispering lame dialogue.

*****

The students were great this year! Very independent and gung-ho. This guy Jonathan, who played the translator to hilarious effect, even went home and improvised two options for his brief scene. And they were quality options, trust me!

A smaller class this year meant more time working with them, and less trying to keep them under control. *shudders under visions of Austin with a football* Joyce took charge of the girls and their one dance scene, which turned out quite the show-stealer.

So capable and motivated were the students that by Day Two, everything was almost fully rehearsed. Day Three was spent practising with music, waiting for the girls to finish their handwork and putting the final touches to their choreography.

Saturday rehearsal was not bad actually, but I slightly lost my temper at the PA guys for fumbling up the music. Perhaps that's the best indicator of how passionate you are for something.

And Sunday oh Sunday, the longest day of my life. I was both songleading and emceeing the ceremony as well. And to make things worse, my computer just had to choose the night before to die.

Woke up, or rather decided that I couldn't sleep, at 6.30am. Managed to jot down a list of things to do for the day and some emcee ideas before rushing off to Sunday School. Another round of thanks to Joyce who actually chose and arranged the songs for our songleading later. Guess I owe her... er, two.

And Jeffrey was right. I was having major butterflies in the stomach.

*****

Sometimes, you know how things will turn out exactly. But that doesn't make the journey any more wonderful. As the crowd cheered for the day's final performance by Inter English, as the actors delivered their lines to side-splitting laughter, as the actresses danced to rapturous applause, as the songs were played out perfectly, as the students took their final bow, you knew something special was in the air.

Was it you? I could almost swear I saw you smiling and clapping along in the front row.

They're saying that there will be a revamp of VBS next year onwards. No more presentations. Could be a good thing. But hey, if this is to be our final VBS presentation ever, no regrets man.

It has been a year like no other. Look where we ended up. But the highest high will always be worth all the lows combined.

P.S. Sorry I ended up not dedicating the performance to you. Was dead set on it till the change to a 100% comedy script. Was afraid it would damper the mood. But I personally dedicated it you. =)

Till next time,
Daniel















Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November Rain

"What song are you playing?" she smiled sweetly.

"Huh?"

He was caught completely off guard. This was the first time she ever noticed him playing the guitar.

"Umm... nothing. Just a random tune."

"Ooh. Sounds nice." she chirped before walking away to talk to the other guys.

His heart sighed, like it always had, as he stared from afar at the girl he knew he would never have.

He lied. He wasn't playing a random tune.



When I look into your eyes

I can see a love restrained
But darlin' when I hold you
Don't you know I feel the same

Nothin' lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

We've been through this such a long long time
Just tryin' to kill the pain

But lovers always come and lovers always go
An no one's really sure who's lettin' go today
Walking away

If we could take the time
to lay it on the line
I could rest my head
Just knowin' that you were mine
All mine

So if you want to love me
then darlin' don't refrain
Or I'll just end up walkin'
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time...on your own
Do you need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time... on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone

I know it's hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn't time be out to charm you

Sometimes I need some time...on my own
Sometimes I need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
Nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain

"Hey," she called softly. "You going? It's starting to rain."

His lips slowly parted.

"Goodbye."

Friday, November 14, 2008

10 Promises To My Dog

As further proof of the recent dumbing-down of my blog, today we're gonna talk about A MOVIE I WATCHED!

YIPPEE~!


Some weeks back, I happened to come across an ad for this obscure Japanese film, in the cinema section of the papers.

It read:

"When 14-year-old Akari (Fukuda Mayuko) finds a Golden Retriever puppy in her backyard, her mother (Takashima Reiko) approves of her keeping the puppy on condition that she never forgets 'The 10 Promises' of dog ownership. Together, they name the puppy 'Socks' from her white paw markings, and Socks proves to be a faithful and devoted friend to Akari as she goes through many trials during her growing years. However, as time went by and Akari grew up (Tanaka Rena), she slowly forgets about 'The 10 Promises'... until one faithful day, when she is cruelly reminded of those of 'The 10 Promises' which she did and did not keep with Socks."

Awwww...~!

Who could possibly not fall in love with a storyline like that.

So after several weeks of trying, I finally managed to drag Wen Cheng to watch it with me this past Monday night. Just to be safe, I carried a packet of tissues with me into the cinema. WHATT... I was having a flu okay. No kidding.

Akari one day finds a stray puppy in her backyard...

And asks her mother for permission to keep it. The mom looks really sweet and motherly!

The puppy, Socks, grows, and so does the girl. Socks becomes Akari's constant companion through her troubled childhood dealing with a workaholic father and sickly mother.

Introducing the childhood flame who went overseas to study music and returned as a famous guitar player! Unfortunately, he looked much more handsome as a kid...


And what's a Jap movie without a heartwarming sakura scene?

Kudos to the dad, who managed to transform from the film's most slappable character at first, to the second most lovable. No prizes for guessing the first.

Sorry, that's all the pictures I managed to steal from the Internet.

All in all, a wonderful movie that's simple in nature, yet rich in execution. I'm sure I heard lots of sniffs in the cinema at the two scenes when Akari leaves Socks. Predictable as it was (oh come on, you KNOW who or what is going to 'what' at the end of the movie), tears welled up in my eyes. Such was the power of this refreshing tale of a girl, her dog, her family, friends, love and life.

And for whatever it's worth, here's the Youtube trailer:



"You'll always have school and friends, but I'll only have you."

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Toll Gate Girl's Special Ability

It's fun writing stories about random people! This story was actually inspired by the multitude of toll gate guys and girls I pass by every morning to and fro work. Though our lives never cross paths for more than five seconds, I often imagine how it would be like sitting there day after day, collecting the same amount of money from countless strangers. Wouldn't they get restless? Or did they secretly enjoy it? Or perhaps they were waiting for something special to happen. So many maybes that only a story could ever answer...

But that's just me, I guess.


(My apologies for the delay in posting this story. Had originally planned to get this up real quick and proceed to 'A Halloween Love Story'. Unfortunately, things got really busy at work and I once again failed in my 23-year quest to celebrate Halloween, thus preventing me from getting the proper inspiration for the story.)


There once was a girl who worked at a toll gate.

This girl, Jenny, was ordinary in every single way possible. All her years of living, she had dreamed of discovering this Special Ability of hers. But she never did quite manage.

What is a Special Ability, you ask?

In her words, a Special Ability is that "one talent God gave you when no one else was looking". It is something that everyone wishes for, yet you alone have. And it matters not how unremarkable you are. Your Special Ability sleeps beneath layers of conformity and doubt, awaiting its discovery someday to make your life yours.

For some reason, Jenny was highly attuned to this fact and wanted anything but an ordinary life. Since the moment she could speak, she religiously sought out her Special Ability. It was her means of escaping mere existence.

First she figured it was reciting the alphabet backwards. But then three other boys in her class could do it.

She next tried riding a bicycle with only one hand. Her sister did it with none.

Finally at the age of 18, she thought she found it. She could imitate the sound of an elephant trumpeting perfectly.

Sadly, the joy lasted only a month. She attended a friend's birthday party, only to be horrified by this entertainer who could mimic an entire zoo.

Between it all, life somehow passed her by. Before she knew it, she was 23, Special Ability-less and working as a toll gate girl. Day after day, cars drove past her carrying people eager to go somewhere. Some drivers were headed to places created by and for their own Special Ability, while most rushed to serve the Special Abilities of others. However, what mattered was that Jenny did not know hers.

One day, she shared this idea of a Special Ability to her workmate. "You're right," he nodded vehemently. "Everyone has a Special Ability. But how do you know if you find it?"

"You just know. It'll amaze people, and yet make you feel good."

"Bah. Nothing amazes people these days. Everyone's seen everything."

"That's because everyone thinks like you. So people are no longer willing to find their Special Abilities. They just want to go through life with their Normal Abilities."

He cocked one eye up. "You're weird."

"No I'm not!" she retorted. "All right. What if I discover my Special Ability?"

"How? You're going to amaze the cars?"

"If that's what you say. I make five cars go wow, and that's my Special Ability. Deal?"

"Erm, hello? You have a job here, you know."

"Don't you fret that. I'll only need 5 days to find my Special Ability." Jenny declared, immediately regretting it.

"Whatever." He walked off to begin his shift.

Fuming, Jenny vowed to stick by her promise of 5 days. If she could not discover her Special Ability in 5 days, she would never mention it again as long as she worked here.

*****

And so Jenny began her quest. How would she do it? Simple - if she could make 5 cars go wow with her Special Ability in a day, that was it!

Day One started off pretty well. WCV 5609 was impressed by the way she deftly transformed his two-ringgit note into eight sen coins. So was BHC 4248 and WJK 8020.

But that was all.

Perhaps everyone was in a hurry. It was a Monday morning, after all.

On Day Two she decided to try reading people's minds. She correctly guessed where WAT 7835, MBH 5856 and WLY 1964 were going. Sadly, the other cars considered it a waste of time and berated her for causing a queue.

No luck either on Day Three. Her finger puppet show wasn't very well-received. Only PBA 1413 and AJV 7451 responded with half-hearted smiles.

By Day Four she was starting to run out of ideas. There wasn't terribly much you could do inside a toll booth anyway.

There was one thing she noticed - most people didn't look at her. They would be busy reaching for their pockets, fiddling with the radio or illegally talking on mobile phones.

That was it! She would make them listen instead. Surely no one could resist a singing toll gate girl!

"The toll is one ringgit twenty! One ringgit and tweeenty...ooh wo wo, one ringgit twenty! One ringgit and twenty..." She warbled along to the tune of My Heart Goes Sha La La La La.

"Ha ha ha! You just made my day." beamed WHD 6523.

"That's very original." WFS 3773 loved it too!

"You're amazing!" And so did TAC 2094!

"Brilliant!" mused JCM 5595. Only one more to go!

Just ten minutes to the end of her shift, WAX 2510 eased into her lane. Yes! He's going to adore it, I'm sure. I just know it.

"The toll is one ringgit twenty!" She burst into song, face agleam.

At the end of her ditty, the driver, a merry old man of 65, couldn't help but clap. "You remind me of my niece. She sings very well too."

Mission accomplished! Her heart leapt as his car tottered off. She had finally discovered her Special Ability!

Or had she?

Wait... something didn't seem quite right.

"You remind me of my niece."

Didn't that mean someone else could sing just like her?

Jenny buried her head in her arms and cried.

****

"So Jenny, how's your Special Ability coming along?" Her workmate made that oh-so-annoying 'inverted comma' sign with his fingers.

"Oh, shut up."

"Hey, I'm sorry. But you know what? I believe you're still talented in your own way. Maybe you're trying too hard."

"Maybe."

"How about a movie tonight? Anything to take your mind off this."

"We'll see. Thanks. Hey, gotta get to work now. WJP 7380 is coming."

"Huh? How did you know?"

"There, can't you see? That green Proton Wira."

"But it's so far off! How on earth can you see the number plate?"

"I can't, silly! I just remember the number plates."

"WHAT?! You remember the number plates of every single car?"

"Well...yeah."

His eyes widened in amazement as her mouth fell open in similar fashion. Could she have possibly, accidentally, miraculously, at a time when life seemed destined for mediocrity - found her God-given Special Ability?

She had.

Within three months, Jenny became an instant sensation as the Incredible Memory Lady.

Sometimes, dreams are like butterflies. The more you chase them, the more they flit away. But when you trust and stay still, they come to you someday you least expect them to.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

VBS Memories... In Colour!

Why hey, it's that time of the year again!

The time when little kids get excited, youths reminisce about being kids, and adults try to act like kids! And no, we're not talking about my birthday here!

It can only be the annual VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL!

As I roll into my third year of being an 'official' helper of the Intermediate Class presentation, I've resolved to put on the best show ever seen. For selfish reasons, yes, but also because I believe that Ju Liang will be grabbing the best seat in the house and enjoying the show as well. Tee hee hee.

Thus, I have dug deep into and studied the famous moments of VBS Inter presentations past. And the results, my friends, are quite a sight to behold.

VBS 2001 - Wong Fei Hung
The year of Lian Juang! Indeed, this sketch is the shining moment of the Timothy VBS era. LJ plays a disbelieving Wong Fei Hung who attends VBS at the behest of his fiancée Sap Sam Yee. Not much of a story, but plenty of side-splitting antics to make this a performance that every older Canaan member will remember.





VBS 2006 - Tian Mi Mi
Another one for the ages! This was my first time helping out in a VBS presentation, and like all naivé directors I had my best intentions to do a full-fledged musical. Assisting me was the Inter veteran Ju Yuan and a very talented new church member called Teng Teng. The first few songs were pretty so-so, but this last scene was simply a KILLER.





VBS 2007 - Ya Pun Wa Wa
Fresh from the roaring success of Jasper's Tian Mi Mi, Clement had big shoes to step into. I remember his laidback attitude during practice that worried Ju Liang and I to no end. "Aiyah, don't worry lah... on the presentation day I'll remember my lines one." And boy, all's well sure did end well. Clement brought the house down, but it was this particular scene that sealed the deal.





And up next... VBS 2008! You better stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pastor Appreciation Drama

Consider yourself fortunate, peeps!

In view of recent calls for me to post more videos... I. Have. Uncovered. More.

The following sketch is one of those rare self-initiated church projects. I remember sparking it off from a mamak session with Ju Yuan and Ju Liang, where we imagined hilarious scenarios of holy-at-church pastors facing domestic troubles at home. You know - smoking kids, nagging wives and the like. At one point, there even was a song parody of 'We Are The Champions'. Eventually it grew into a cutesy drama we presented (without prior notice!) during the Thanksgiving segment of Watch Night 2005. Pardon the self-praise, but I still insist that this was one of the bravest things ever done on a Canaan stage. How dare a bunch of ignorant youths poke fun at the church culture of unappreciativeness!

Synopsis: Chi Yuan plays a pastor who is both unappreciated at church and tormented at home by a mother-in-law from hell. Hopeless and dejected, he eventually decides to leave for good - only for an unlikely intervention to teach him the true meaning of service. Additional synopses can be found in video descriptions.

Scene 1




Scene 2





Scene 3





Scene 4 & 5





Scene 6





One final note: At the time this drama was presented, Ju Liang had just been admitted to hospital. Zhi Yong was about to leave for Seremban. Jane had left for Belgium. And as for myself... well yes, I remember it was an emotionally difficult time for so many reasons.

Blah! It's all good now. =)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Man In The Computer Shop

An exercise in creative writing, you could say. Last week, as I was leaving office, I dropped by the computer shop downstairs to buy a router that would supposedly fix all my connection woes. (It didn't, eventually.) Most of the shops were closing, but the poor bespectacled man in this shop was still clearing up stuff. He wasn't exactly drop-dead handsome, and rather unpleasant to speak to. In fact, I often made fun of him by impersonating this Ugly Computer Guy in front of my colleagues.
But hey, let's just say...


There once was a man who owned a computer shop.

Every single day of his life was filled with printers, modems, routers, hard disks, USBs and whacamalits.

And everyone who knew him, only did so because he was good at the techy stuff they didn't care for.

The hardware and software were the only ones who loved him in return.

But all that changed the moment he fell in love.

Love is never something you can predict or control. That's why it's called falling in love.

It happened one quiet morning as he was arranging the DVD-RWs in order of capacity.

"Excuse me, do you have thumb drives here?"

His heart paused. When you hear the voice, you just know. He whirled around to gaze into the most perfect face he'd ever seen.

A sparkling set of eyes met his demurely. Rosebud lips that spoke a thousand words with just a smile. Flowing black hair that one could run fingers through endlessly. All standing before him.

"Hello there?" Her dimples made her ever more adorable.

"I, uh- yeah. Thumb drives. What sort?"

"Hmm...I dunno. What kinds do they come in?"

"Well, you have you 1 gig, 2 gigs, 4 gigs, even 8 gigs now."

"I see," Her forehead creased. "What's a gig?"

He almost burst out laughing. Fortunately, the cumulative forces of the universe prevented him from doing so at that very moment in time.

"Do you know what a byte is?"

"Uh-uh."

"See, a byte is a unit of information stored in a computer. So all the data you have - that's all bytes. Ten thousand bytes would make up a megabyte, or MB in short. A thousand more of those, and you have a gigabyte, or GB, or gig as we call it."

She nodded very, very slowly.

"What sort of files would you want to store in the thumb drive?"

"I'm starting my own fashion boutique," she enthused. "And I need to get some photographs of the clothes taken, to upload on the web. But then the file size is too large, and I need to get it in this format, that format, this resolution, that resolution. Argh... it's so confusing!"

"So I reckon you want to transfer the picture files with a thumb drive?"

"Yeah."

"Then take this." He slid open the glass case, withdrawing a 8-gig thumb drive. "You'll need this for the hi-res pictures."

She eyed it curiously. "How much?"

"I can loan it to you first. Copy your files and bring them here to me tomorrow. I'll help you upload them."

"Oh thank you so much! You're wonderful."

So are you, he whispered in his heart.

"No problem. Just doing all I can to help."

"Tell you what," she smiled at him. "I'll treat you to lunch tomorrow. As a gesture of thanks."

This can't be happening to me. He felt giddy as a malfunctioning computer fan.

"Wow. You're not kidding."

"Sure I'm not! I really appreciate what you're doing for me."

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The printer cables and CD-ROMs and external casings and speakers and optical mice grinned in unison at him. All those years he spent with them had ultimately culminated in this beautiful, wonderful moment. No more lonely nights. No more self-pity. He could finally become normal again.

Now he would have to change. He couldn't possibly keep talking about games and tech stuff. He had to read up on the latest movies and music and fashion trends. And speaking of fashion, it was high time too he overhauled his wardrobe. Perhaps a Clay Aiken cool geek-esque look would serve him well. Or how about that effiminate Korean rage? He knew a great many girls who dug that. But of course, none of those girls knew him.

First date. First movie. First coffee. First Valentine's. First kiss. How would these feel like? Would his inexperience show? She probably would have had several boyfriends before. What would she be like? Would she laugh at him? Would she find him boring? Serious? Intelligent? Girls liked intelligent guys, didn't they? But it had to be intelligent in an INTERESTING way, no? He was pretty interesting in some ways. He knew a lot of stuff that his friends didn't.

"I can take you to my boyfriend's cafe. It's not too far from here."

He froze.

My boyfriend's cafe.

Boyfriend's cafe.

Boyfriend.

"What say you?"

"I-I-I...."

"Yes?"

"I'm not free tomorrow."

She looked disappointed.

"And the thumb drive costs 60."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why I'm Always Working Late

Heya all!

First time this year I'm posting twice a month. How sad.

But I'm pretty sure this is cheating, cos I'm just gonna share some Youtube videos!

Of myself and the guys at work doing silly stuff, nonetheless.

Enjoy!



CC+J Bowling!



CC+J The Musical!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Old School

Note: I recently received feedback that my blog is too colourless, pictureless and updateless. So how does one solve this problem? Easy peasy! By posting a colourful and pictureful update!

Here we go!

Because nothing says old school like these.

Last Thursday, I somehow dug out my old school magazines for a quick re-read.

WHAT A BLAST!


Back in my day, I had this embarrassing habit of constantly writing stories no one wanted to read and make them read. These days, I just write stories no one wants to read, and no one reads them.

So anyway, I contributed to the school magazine yearly without fail - except for Form 3 when hormones took over. Form 4 saw the collaboration with a certain Boy-Who-Was-Too-Smart to pen the ill-advised Dark Destiny trilogy. Title sounds cool huh? Trust me, that was the only thing cool about it. It was so awful that I couldn't bring myself to read it again in detail. Serious! I was just skimming through words and sentences, the way one quickly glances at and away from a dead cat by the roadside.

The story - remarkably schoolboy-ish (but then again...). About some super-computer trying to take over the world, only to be thwarted by a hero out of the blue. Then parts 2 & 3, with the hero's son continuing the battle. Or something like that. Sheer horror.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, then came the Form 5 edition.

BWAHAHAHAHA.

I was in the Editorial Team that year, the way all gifted students should. And the Sub-Editor, no less.

2-pages-plus for a BM story. (Since when could I write in Malay?!)
4 pages for The Boy Who Was Too Smart.
3 pages for A Tale Of Two 'Poultries'.
4 more pages for Insanity.
1 paragraph for an excerpt in my classmate's article 'Life'.

All perpetrated by YOURS TRULY!

*hides head in shame*

I must have had a really difficult childhood.

No, seriously. Any Form 5 kid who submits 13-over pages to the school magazine without remorse should be sent for psychiatric counselling and spanked for good measure.

I even remember fantasising at that time of teachers crowding around the magazine in the Bilik Guru going: "Oooooh, look at him! Sooooo clever! Write sooooo much!"

Just like how I once imagined that my blog would get featured in the papers, simply because it contained stories.

And of course, none ever happened.

I guess one of the most important lessons of growing up is to take yourself less seriously.

So... WULIGAGA ANGKUKU~!

P.S. All the writings highlighted in orange can be found in the 'Desserts, Anyone?' section of my blog. Along with Bobo, these constitute some of my proudest life's work. Maybe I just haven't lived enough yet. =p

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ju Liang


In December 2005, I wrote about my friend Ju Liang who was diagnosed with leukemia.

This past Wednesday 11.18am, he succumbed to a relapse after battling the disease for almost 3 years.

So much has been thought, said and written. But I'm just going to post a speech I shared during Ju Liang's funeral service. Originally an email I sent out to a few close friends on the day of the death, this was something written completely from the heart and without planning.

I remember praying for Ju Liang 2 1/2 years ago when we first found out that he had leukemia. At that time leukemia sounded like something that happened only to people in movies. Not to someone like Ju Liang - the middle child of the Wong family I loved so much. The one who so wonderfully complemented his elder brother Ju Yuan's charisma and younger brother Ju Ping's athletic ability, with his intelligence, musical talent and creativity.

After a couple of years of chemo, he seemed back to normal. We even served together during last year's VBS (Vacation Bible School) in the music team and helping the Intermediate class with their presentation. It was one of the happiest times in my life, as we practiced together with Clement and Clifford at night in this very living room.

We started praying for wisdom on Ju Liang's part, as he decided what he wanted to further his studies in - Acturial Science or Business. Then when he had a relapse, we prayed for a donor. And God graciously granted him the donor from Taiwan.

One day after YTU (Youth Training Union), I called him and assured him that we would serve together during VBS this year. I even shared with him some crazy ideas I had for the Intermediate Class presentation. He told me it wasn't likely that he would be back in time, but I made him say that he would. And Ju Liang being Ju Liang, he joked about how lousy the hospital steroids were, making him weaker instead of becoming a buffed bodybuilder. He even asked me whether I had anything he could pray for.

After I put down the phone, it crossed my mind "What if this is the last time i speak to him?". But of course, I quickly brushed the thought aside. Ju Liang WILL get better, I believed. In time for VBS.

It really was the last time I spoke to him.

Up till Tuesday night, when I heard that his heartbeat was getting stronger and cancer cells reducing, I believed with all my heart that Ju Liang would have a second chance at life. I imagined him giving talks and publishing books "How God Healed My Leukemia". The doctor even said it was a minor miracle. And that was what we had been praying for.

And yesterday afternoon, as we drove home from Port Dickson after the No Apologies camp, someone broke the news to me. Ju Liang was gone.

I guess I felt cheated.

When I reached church, Pastor Siew Teng asked me to take care of Ju Ping. He still appeared fine, on the verge of crying. We prayed together with a few others, in the midst of the luggage bags. And he started crying again.

I didn't know what to do.

It still hasn't fully sunk it yet. It still feels like a weird dream, something I'm going to wake up from. I still expect to suddenly see him come online or show up in church with his glasses and white suit and black hat.

Pastor Siew Teng told me that Ju Liang wanted to share his testimony to others, if God willed him to live. So I pray that all of us here carry this task on and use his life story as a blessing to others. In his 21 years of life, Ju Liang experienced God in more ways than many people do in an entire lifetime. Surely that is a story worth sharing.

And I pray too, that his family - Uncle Ronald, Auntie Annie, Ju Yuan and Ju Ping - continues to live with the joy and hope of someday reuniting with him. For surely, Ju Liang is finally free from suffering, sorrow and tears. He is in eternal fellowship with God, rejoicing with the angels of heaven.

I don't know what to say anymore. I've never experienced the death of such a close friend before.

I just imagine that he's waiting for us now. It'll just be some years, as we pass through our temporary home on earth. And after that, we'll be spending an eternity with him in the future. There'll be so many stories to share then, of the passion and purpose we lived our lives with.

Till that day comes, I'll always remember this dear brother God has blessed me with and whom I had the privilege of knowing. I'll always remember Ju Liang.

******

It seemed such terrible timing at first. There we were, all fresh from the high that was No Apologies camp, and Ju Liang's death brought us crashing back to grievance.

But guess what? One of Ju Liang's last words before he entered coma was "God never makes mistakes, Ma."

And looking back, Ju Liang's death was no mistake or coincidence. In fact, there could have been no better time. It has provided a powerful impetus for a generation of youths in my church to be passionate about their lives and change the world for God, myself included. As I saw them comforting and praying for one another, I knew God had His plans and something special was about to happen.

These are exciting times, indeed. And do watch well, Ju Liang - we'll catch up again someday. =)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Top 5 Advertising Phrases!

As the sole author of the world-famous Twisted Tales, I often get questions of what is it I actually do for a living. You know, besides living off royalties and making TV appearances.

And the answer, ladies and gentlemen, is...

Advertising.

Ah yes. Over the last two years, I have secretly toiled in the dark depths of advertising, amassing along the way a noteworthy share of tears and spit. Big-shot corporates, small Chinamen, late nights, coffee, ugly ads and pretty designs - I may not have seen it all, but I've seen enough. Thus today, I stand before you as a self-proclaimed qualified writer on the topic of advertising.

And today... the Top 5 Advertising Phrases!

Or in simpler terms, The Top 5 Phrases Advertisers Use To Pull The Wool Over Consumers' Eyes. And yes, I may or may not have been guilty of using them at some point or another.

No. 5: Natural
The Guilty: Skincare products, health food

Mention natural, and images of sprouting leaves and gushing rivers spring to mind. Be it fancy moisturisers or new-age diets, every brand has a place for this spectacular new word: natural.

"But wait," you ask. "Surely there's some law against misusing the word natural."

Ah ah ah. Very sharp, you. Unfortunately, that applies only for organic. True, if someone claims something is organic, it must come from the ground; worms, dirt and all. Or a chicken's backside.

Natural, however, is a different animal altogether.

The problem with the word natural is that it doesn't just mean 'from nature'. It can also mean 'it just happened'. As in the phrase "They were naturally attracted to each other.". I present my case in the following sentence:

"Naturally formulated from rose petals, Hihihaha Lotion gently soothes your skin."

You see? The product could be naturally formulated from bird droppings, waste water or liquid nitrogen. That doesn't mean it's natural. It just means that the product so happened to come from some stuff somewhere.

But it doesn't matter. You still would perceive it to be...

Natural.

No. 4: Traditionally prepared
The Guilty: Herbal products

Why of course, nothing beats the good ol' days. When Ah Chong's dad used to plunge his hands into a muddy river, dig up some roots and wade home, wiping snot from his nose.

"Traditionally prepared from age-old methods, Nonomomo Essence is a trusted remedy for coughs and colds."

Oh so romantic! Throw in a hand-drawn painting of straw-hatted villagers beaming under the sun, and who wouldn't be enthralled by the sentimental timeless charm.

But well...

For all you know, traditionally prepared could mean a huddle of underpaid Bangladeshi workers slogging in a dingy factory on the outskirts of Nonomomoland. Faced with the daily struggle of malfunctioning machines, they resort to every possible mean to meet their daily quota of '500 bottles per person, filled to the brim".

And I mean every possible mean.

No. 3: One-stop solution
The Guilty: Service providers

What qualifies as a one-stop solution? Hmm, let's see.

If you sell Product A and Product B, yes.
If you sell Product A and some form of extension, yes.
If you sell Product A and accept cash or credit payment, yes.
If you sell Product A but cater for children and adults, yes.
For men and women, yes.
For professionals and non-professionals, yes.
For good times and bad times, yes.
If you sell Product A and also pack it for them, yes.
If you sell Product A at different prices, yes.
If you sell Product A in different colours, yes.
If you sell Product A in different languages, yes.
If you sell Product A wearing different costumes, yes.

But WAIT! What if you sell ONLY Product A, ONLY accept cash, ONLY cater for professional adult males going through good times, DO NOT pack it for them, ONLY at one price, ONLY in one colour, ONLY in one language and ONLY wearing a necktie?

Simple. Just erect a big roof and call it Under One Roof.

No. 2: Innovative
The Guilty: Technology companies, new brands

Let's say you have a new product, service or brand to launch. There you are, faced with the thrashing sea of competitors waiting to eat you up. What do you tell people about your stuff?

Hah! Of course! It's...it's...

INNOVATIVE~!

When you're innovative, you can do nothing wrong. Lousy results? Duh. It's innovative. You're not accustomed to it yet.

Awful packaging? Hello, it's innovative lah. Too high-tech for you.

Too expensive? Well, whaddaya expect. It's - all together now - ...

INNOVATIVE.

Being innovative is like being the six-year-old brat in the family. No matter what he does, isn't he aw-shoo-cuuuute.

No. 1: Dynamic
The Guilty: Big companies, smart alecks

And lastly, we come to the biggie -

DYNAMIC.

Open your eyes and it shall reveal itself to you:

"Zazawawa Inc is a dynamic company."
"The design concept reflects a spirit of dynamism."
"Our product features dynamic usability."
"That was a very dynamic presentation"

Never in history has a word been used by so many with absolutely no clue on its meaning. And I don't blame them. For deep down, no one truly knows what dynamic means.

It's the ultimate say-it-without-saying-anything word. I remember Friend A who once asked Friend B about the movie director Quentin Tarantino. Without batting an eyelid, Friend B replied, "Oh, he's a very dynamic individual."

Friend B had no clue who Quentin Tarantino was.

And now, my friends, the power belongs to you too!

"How was the meal?"
"How was the movie?"
"How was your day?"
"How are you feeling?"
"How's life?"

A-one, a-two, a-one-two-three...

DYNAMIC~!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Last Dance

"Your left arm wasn't straight enough."

The words resonated in his ears as he packed his shoes, opened the gate, limped out and shut it. He gingerly shifted his left knee. It still hurt when he put weight on it.

Melodic strains of a piano wafted from the house next door. It was already past sunset. The sun's dying rays led him past a playground of several chattering children.

He noticed a boy and girl, siblings, from his class. They swung high and free, without a care in the world. He smiled, slowly making his way towards them.

The girl, a charming little thing, came running at him, tugging at him to join them on the swings.

Struggling to smile, he obliged. They talked. About her friends at school. About his colleagues at work.

She proudly told him about how much she had improved. "But I don't like my new shoes! They make my feet all tangled up."

He laughed and showed her the freshly-ripped sole of his left shoe, drawing childish giggles from her in return.

"Mei, ah mee lai liao!"

Sis, mum is here already.
Her elder brother's call brought her to her feet.

"I have to go now."

"Okay." He paused. "Listen... I'll never see you again."

"Huh?"

"Never mind. Just go."

"Bye bye!"

And they disappeared into the car.

Shuffling his feet uncertainly, he took one final gaze at the house that he had so loved and hated for four years. The gentle piano continued to play. Swathed in relief, sadness, sentimentality and eagerness all at once, his heart was clearly too overwhelmed to lead him for now. Only one thing remained certain - it was time to go home.

After making sure no one was looking, he waltzed one last time under the flickering moonlight. One, two and three.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How To Win Parking And Influence Guards


A few weeks ago, my colleague alerted me of an apartment that had just opened downstairs of my office. It was spanking new, it was still resident-less, and most of all...

It had parking lots!

PARKING LOTS!!

Now, you would be forgiven for wondering why I'm making such a big fuss over simple parking lots. After all, everyone has one at home, right.

HAH! Try paying RM6 daily for parking (or RM50, for the really expensive lots owned by DBKL with attractive yellow line designs) and you'll emphatise.

The first few days of parking in this new-found haven was sheer bliss - too good to be true. When I first laid eyes on the sprawling parking lots - absolutely empty - I couldn't believe my eyes. Miles and miles of neat yellow boxes just nice to fit my car. I could park sideways, diagonally, upside-down, any way I wanted.

Unfortunately, all good things, as they hatefully say, must come to an end.

Barely a week after Parking Heaven opened its gates, a horrid parking machine sprouted at the entrance. It couldn't function properly yet, so an equally nasty guard was stationed beside it.

The guard's job was simple - grunt at any car trying to enter, and shove the driver a sheet to fill out his name, time of entry, vehicle registration number, block number, signature etc. Should he find the particulars satisfactory, in the car could go.

Things worked well initially, as the Nepalese guards were unable to communicate properly in Malay or English (OR Chinese, if you must). Hastily scribbled details sufficed. However, I deduced, eventually the guards would grow familiar with my face and realise that I wasn't a resident. And heaven forbid that I would pay RM6 daily like everyone else.

So came the masterplan of brilliance.

Once upon a time, this humble soul read in the aforementioned How To Win Friends And Influence People that the surest way to win a person over is through calling him or her by name. It reaffirms their importance and conveys care.

So such would be the idea:

a) Smile and greet the guard on duty every day, as I enter and exit.
b) Look at his name tag.
c) Memorise their names.
d) Eventually, call all the guards by name, creating the impression that I was a familiar-face-cum-resident.

MUAHAHAHA!

A splendid plan it was. Except for the fact that almost none of the guards wore name tags, making me having to resort to asking them verbally.

Now here's the heart-warming part of the story. Though I was asking their names for a supposedly ulterior motive, I started noticing how happily surprised they always were. They would be standing there as stereotypical grim guards up till I asked, "What's your name?". It never failed to tickle me, seeing them grin like schoolboys after school, answering in broken English.

Even on the countless occasions I forgot their names or - horrors! - called them the wrong name, still they smiled and corrected me. One even told me, "No, no...that one brother." Goodness. Guard Brothers?

Another one spotted me out of the parking lot today. He came over and asked me my name. A dark Nepalese lad, perhaps no older than myself. His name was Asoh. I accidentally called him Siva, of course.

It's nice calling guards, cleaners, gardeners and other members of society's wallpaper by name. It reminds them that someone still cares. It teaches us that they're just as human as we are.

Have you greeted a guard today? It could win you some free parking. Not to mention a friend. =)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ghostopia (Chapter 3)

Another month passes without ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happening in the world of Twisted Tales! A lot has happened in the real world, though - namely, the 12th Malaysian General Election. And boy, am I proud to have contributed to this unforgettable chapter in national history. And though wrongly skeptical, my poem 'There's Something In The Air' shall always be one that perfectly captured the emotions of the moment.
Ghostopia (Chapter 3)

"Anytime now," Mortie whispered to Darren. "You're a patient one."

They were in a dingy bar with neon lights screaming THE HAUNT. Several rows of tables with lifeless onlookers bordered a stage, where a solitary girl strummed and sang along to Nirvana's Come As You Are, face half-hidden in the dim lights.

"Here in Ghostopia, we only have music from dead artistes." Mortie winked at him. "Your John Denvers, Freddie Mercurys, Selenas, Aaliyahs and Pavarottis."

Darren nodded, genuinely interested. "Tell me again. When do we meet this group of yours?"

"This should be her last song," he gestured onstage. "Then we can start. Lester should be here already."
So she's one of the members too, Darren thought to himself. Will the surprises never end.

"And in case you're wondering," Mortie added. "We call ourselves Ezisa. It's Greek for life."

*****


"Fellow believers of life," Mortie sat them down around a table in a smoke-stenched room backstage. "May I introduce to you Mr. Darren."

Silence. Except for perhaps an inaudible sneer by the girl.

"Mr. Darren is the Luckbearer that I've been talking about. Mr. Darren, this is Mr. Lester, our Strongman."

Darren nodded at a long-haired brute opposite him. Like what Mortie said, he sure looked slow of mind.

"And this is Ms. Kat, our Swiftling."

"Don't call me that. I hate it." she snapped back. She was a girl of medium build, no older than twenty, with a noticeable penchant for gothic-inspired fashion.

"So long as you are in the Ezisa, you shall abide by my rules." Mortie reiliterated in a stern tone.

She kept silent, visibly displeased.

"Now that we're all finally here, it is time for the Great Ghostopia Escape to begin." Mortie handed everyone a sheet. "Pass this round."

It was a detailed blueprint sketch of a tower of some sorts.

"In 14 days, the Tower of Souls opens. The most massive construction project ever undertaken by the Ghostopian authorities. A central meeting point for soul collection, enforcement, administration and research."

"Inside the Tower lies a top-secret Exorcism Chamber - and therein is our key to escape. For he who steps into the Chamber shall gain powers of walking backwards through the gates of Ghostopia."

"Now," Mortie unfurled the blueprint across the table. "As this will be only time the Tower is accessible to public, security shall be at an all-time high. There is no way we can waltz in and out alive."

"But on the other hand, security shall be at an all-time low too, if you know what I mean. The sheer size of the crowds and traffic - an unimaginable logistics nightmare for the big boys."

"How do we magnify this advantage?" Mortie smiled. "We create more chaos and disorder. We blow up the place."