Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dispatch, I need you to run a plate for me...

After three weeks, somebody finally called the cops.

They came, took lotsa pictures and finally towed it away. The next day, we read in the papers that our car (hey, we found it) was used as a getaway vehicle for an armed robbery. Now, a Kancil* isn't exactly Italian Job-nimble, so we all found it a bit of a laugh. Then we read the next paragraph.

You see, not too long ago, there was a slashing in our office block. Like the good tabloid magazine writers that we were, we all went down to have a gander.
There was a pool of blood ending in a longish streak and the restaurant owner was screaming at one of his waiters to clean the bloody mess up. The owner in turn was screamed at by the cops for washing away evidence their crack CSI team could've used to solve the case within 24 hours. And though we only now realized it, the slashing musta happened about the same time our Kancil appeared, parked in a spot reserved for the resident optometrist.
Probably even the same day.

So. Our Kancil and the slashing were related, said the papers. We spent lunch going over all sorts of crackpot theories but by evening, deadlines and the pub beckoned so we forgot about it.

That was four years ago.

In my new office, on basement three, is an Isuzu Trooper which has been parked there for some time. We don't know how long, but the air has gone out of its tires and it's covered in dust. I had a peek through the windows.
The glove compartment lies open.
On the passenger seat are several brochures for an up-market service apartment in KL.
On the driver's side is a pair of high heels.
The road tax on the windshield expired in January.

*The Kancil is a Malaysian mouse deer about the size of cat. The car of the same name is only slightly larger, but just as well known.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Time travel and a brief sex change

Run days are good days. The alarm buzzes at 5:45am and I snap up soldier-quick, wash my face, down some granola bars and lotsa water. And I’m off.

After the first kilometer, my engine is running at optimum and with my iPod playing I am fucking flying. On Sundays especially, when the sun feels it should sleep in and there are no soccer moms in their MPVs on the road, my neighbourhood is the right kind of deserted. An entire housing estate vacated, streets cleared, children hushed because I want to run.

Then I feel a sharp stab of pain. Actually, the pain comes later. What I feel actually is surprise and shock and a blow to my head. I feel a whoosh and flying off into the distance is my assailant. A guided missile disguised in feathers and claws. A mafuckin' crow.

My shock turns to anger and I curse this winged spawn of Satan, this scavenger, and I swear to you if you try that again I'ma fucking kick yourohahmyGodhelpmeeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalp!!!

And suddenly, I’m ok.
I’m alone again.
I am in fact, 2 full streets – approximately 700 metres – from the spot of the first attack.
It was as if I somehow managed to fold space, skipping the distance between point A and point B instantaneously. I have no memory of making the journey. And for some reason, my throat is sore.

What happened of course is the very essence of Occam’s Razor - the right explanation is mostly likely the obvious one:

That I shat my pants, ran for my life like a yellow bastard, screaming all the way.
Like a little girl.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Neil Gaiman wil be in Singapore!

I don’t usually do this because I’ve never been a raving fan of any sort for anything.
Ok, that’s a lie.

If any of you:
  • Know of and love Neil Gaiman’s work
  • And are anywhere near Singapore
then PLEASE go see Neil Gaiman!
His Singapore itinerary is:*

Monday, 4 July 2005
Neil Gaiman Book Signing, Talk and Screening
Neil will be showing 15 minutes of an extended trailer and a complete scene from his upcoming movie, MirrorMask
4.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m., Orchard Cineleisure (Level 6)
Tickets: S$8 per session available from 17 June from Comics Mart Pte Ltd (at any one of their outlets):

Tuesday, 5 July 2005
Neil Gaiman Book Signing
4:30 pm, Kinokuniya Book Store, Ngee Ann City

Neil Gaiman Talk
7:15pm, library@orchard, Ngee Ann City

Wednesday, 6 Jul 2005
Neil Gaiman Talk and Book Signing
6pm, Borders, Wheelock Place

Spot, asmadi, mahi, are you reading this guys?

*Please don’t be giving me shit about the accuracy. We’re trying to drive down from Malaysia and we got this from the web, so we’re taking a risk too ok?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

I went and saw this against practically everyone's advice and caution (I know Mahi, I know), and it wasn't dreadful. It's other things, but not dreadful. Read all about it, chaps.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Is she, or isn't she?

She wasn't old and bent.
She wasn't blind.
The thing is, I couldn't really decide if she was pregnant.

If there's one thing I've learnt in my various male capacities (son, boyfriend, colleague etc) it's this: Never - not unless you see a fetus emerging from her lions, umbilical cord still attached and covered in afterbirth – never, ever imply a lady is pregnant. Even if it's to offer her a seat on the train.

At that moment, the only thing I could say is she looked large-ish.
And I wasn't alone.

There was a guy opposite me reading his papers, and a girl messaging someone on her cellphone. The three of us looked at each other in this triangulated crossfire of uncertainty. Because nobody wanted to be the one who got it wrong about this lady's physical condition (pregnant, or just wide and badly dressed?). It was way too early in the a.m. and way too crowded to be adding insult (hers) to serious injury (possibly ours).

After two stops, the girl looked down and tried to ignore Large Lady (look I gottta call her something ok?) the way we try and pretend we don't see the assorted homeless begging for change. That left Newspaper Guy and me.

One more stop passes and I decide to bite the bullet. I begin the rise when Newspaper Guy leaps up from his seat and offers it to Large Lady. I try to descend gracefully from my aborted launch, all the while looking to see if Large Lady will accept or give him the look of death.

She accepts. Everyone's visibly relieved. A few smile polite, approving smiles.

And then I see him.
Newspaper Guy.
Standing in the corner, looking all smug, his eyes saying "I beat you."

New review, and new post coming up

Just posted my review for Batman Begins on my movie blog. The blog's not completely there yet, but I feel like posting something soon.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Honey, it's only a movie

Things at the new place are coming along and I'll prolly start posting again in a week or so. My movie blog's back up though and I just posted a review of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I also wanted to do some new stuff with it.

I've been looking at some of my old stuff and looking at the memes I've done (gosh, that sounded a bit slutty), I'm thinking getting more casual with the movie reviews might be good.

The Kingdom of Heaven review is a good example. Reading it again, I still think it's a decent review. But it's the kind of review you can get in magazines and a lot of places on the Net. I need to remember I'm not writing for a magazine anymore. Of course I'll occasionally have something to say about stuff I feel strongly about (Revenge Of The Sith was an act of betrayal) for instance, but mostly I should be telling you like it was over coffee. Not at a film school lecture.

I'm also hoping anyone out there who enjoys TV - and there have been some nice things happening there - to speak up a little. And not just mainstream TV. I am a HUGE Cartoon Network fan and this shit ain't just for kids.

You are out there, I know it, and I wanna hear from you. I mean, I can't be the only guy who hates David Caruso on CSI: Miami. I know you're out there.

Talk to me people, talk to me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

There's a lot of unpacking to do

There's a tonne of baggage, a little housecleaning, and some things have to be replaced.

But it'll get there.

And it'll be great.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Like an open book

I got tagged by eM.
What, you want a preamble?

How many books I own.

After eM's (2000) and Jay's (800), I'm embarrassed to say I own a semi-literate total of less than 300.

The last book I bought.
Powers, #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. (Look, technically, it's a book. If people insist on calling it a 'comic' or a 'graphic novel,' I can't help it). It's about a detective named Christian Walker who solves crimes involving super-powered types. In fact, Walker may or may not have powers himself. There are now nine books in the series, and the first one is about Walker investigating the murder of a superhero named Retro Girl.

Bendis writes some very nice dialogue:

Coroner: You know how these things go. There's no guarantees.
Detective: Why's that?
Coroner: Why? Why do you think, Detective? Could it be that we might not be able to figure out how to break her skin to perform the autopsy? Could it be that we don't even know if she's biologically human?
Detective: Come on, we know she's human-
Coroner: We do? How's that exactly? Can you fly around the room and throw cars across a parking lot? Take many bullets, do you? The thing is, I can't when it comes to this stuff. There's no textbook. There's no manual. I have to retrain myself every day. I might as well throw my M.D. in the garbage. Throw it out! It's worthless! Bye-bye!!
Detective: Yeah, well-
Coroner: Do you have any idea what it's like every goddamn day? Fucking space lizards and orangutans with laser guns! WHAT THE FUCK?

Okay, you pedants, don't get all knotted in the knickers.
I bought a 'real' book too. Jeez.

Out by Natsuo Kirino. Factory worker's quite had it with her abusive husband and kills him. Turns to colleague whom she doesn't know very well to help her clean up the bloody mess. Colleague calls some not very well acquainted people of her own. Everything goes straight to H-E-double hockeysticks. I had to buy it.

The last book I read.
We Don't Live Here Anymore by Andres Dubus. If any of you liked the movie Closer, you'll like this. It's a collection of short stories, all about adultery and the reasons we give each other (and ourselves) about why we do it. It constantly surprises, no horrifies me, the extent to which people can fuck each other up. I got this at a second hand bookstore and creepy notations by the previous owner aside, I seem to have gotten lucky. The story's been turned into a movie starring Naomi Watts and Peter Krause. I saw the updated version (with the usual cheesy movie tie-in cover) and it has only three stories. Mine has four. I know why they cut it out – it's the only one that doesn't have the same characters so I guess it's not part of a 'series.' Which is a shame cos I think the new version's poorer for it.

Currently (re)reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It's so beautiful this one. I've read it a hundred times (it only takes 10 minutes) but it's so moving. If your eyes don't get a bit moist at the end, it's cos you're:
a) a hater
b) you have no tear ducts
c) a hater with no tear ducts.
My friend has practically given up asking for it back. I'm gonna get my own. Just one more read.

Five books that mean a lot to me.
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. It showed me you can make complex, technical stuff sound exciting. I used to think flowery, bombastic words were a sign of good writing but Crichton's prose is unsentimental. You won't find a lot of metaphor. If he says it looks 'like oil on water' that's because it looks like oil on water. Not all of his books are good, but they all draw you in, at least on the first reading. You may realize the loopholes and implausibility of it all, but only later. And not before you've raced through it, riveted all the way. I have read Jurassic Park 8 times and I never get bored.

It also got me interested in writing. Like many authors, Crichton puts quotes in front of his books. I was about to hand in my law assignment (on time for once) but I held back because it didn't look, I dunno, complete. Then I put a grey A4 sheet as the cover, and inserted a page before the table of contents. On it was a single line: "Law without force is impotent," Pascal.

My lecturer told me to stop "fucking with the format" and I had to re-print and re-submit. But I still have that copy in a box. I didn't know I wanted to be a writer then, but I knew I wanted to write.

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden. There are a tonne of books out there that try to inspire you by merely stating the obvious and I've hated every one I've read. If you don't feel patronised, you feel depressed because the author's way of coming across as a hardened expert is to tell you some hard truths you don't want to be reminded of. Arden basically confirmed all the bad things I suspected about my job. But he also somehow managed to say 'You can do this, or not. Your call.' I no longer monologue about how bad everything is. And though most of the shit I see won't change, I'm less prone to play the victim. Down to 2 woking days a week now. Hurrah.

The Wolves In The Walls by Neil Gaiman. I wanna do something like this. Go out and look for the book and you'll see. God, I wanna do something like this.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. So many books and movies escape with a lot of technical bullshit ("We designed a pixel extrapolation algorithm that could filter out the digital noise and separate the image into RGB layers. And THAT is how we knew Forrester was the real killer!"). The movie was fun but was nothing compared to the book for this very reason. Nobody writes undeniable logic anymore. Not like this. There are many ways around the 3 Laws of Robotics, but they are unbreakable. And by trying right before our eyes (and his attempts are brilliant) he proves it.

The Lord Of The Flies by William Golding. We know a plane crashed. We know children are marooned on an island. I have read it over and over again, but nowhere, nowhere does it say a plane crashed. And yet you give it to someone to read and they'll tell you: A plane crashed. How they fuck did he do that?

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I'm not religious and though I often want to believe there is a God (capital G) watching over us, I find it hard to believe He (big H) waits up all night to listen to our prayers, much less answer them. After all, if He answers our prayers for justice paid in blood, isn't He as human as we are? At the same time, if His only answer is 'You can't understand it. All this pain and suffering is for your good, and through it you will store up treasures in Heaven" He's just not human enough is He? I like the idea of a Heaven though. My version of it has always been a place where everything and everyone that you love is there. You can read comics and shop and your dog lives forever and of course you can have incredibly rude sex on the grass with your sweetheart. And to have it mirrored so exactly in a book, well, I start wondering again if there's a capital G after all.

Five more people to tag.
I can't wait.

Grafx Gurl
Madame Mahima
Couch Potato

And NM. Cos I think the answers will be interesting, coming from a wookie.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Based on a true story

The sign says in large friendly type:

So after some browsing, I grab two books I like and fish 20 bucks out of my wallet.

Cashier: 36 please.
Me: 36? Isn't it 18? Buy one, one free right?
Cashier: Only for hardcover fiction, sir.
Me: But they're both hardcover.
Cashier: Yes, but only one is fiction.
Me: But they're both fiction.
Cashier: Only this one is fiction (speaks as if to a mentally retarded child).
Me: As opposed to this one (points to book) a true story of vampires attacking a small town in Maine?
Cashier: Only this one is fiction, sir (obstinate now).
Me: And this one?
Cashier: Horror.

And he was right. It was. But not the book.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


From an episode of Six Feet Under
Nathan: Who do you prefer? An overeducated gas bag like Trevor, or a semi-literate fuck machine like me?

He and Brenda then fuck. Not make love, fuck.

From the office (where I work, not the TV show)
Me: Who do you prefer? An overeducated gas bag like BG, or a semi-literate fuck machine like me?

Lemme tell you something.
Reality is SO not like TV.