Tuesday, March 29, 2005

11. Worm Food

Life is short, then we die. I've heard and read countless varieties of that phrase my whole life. Bugger that, I've heard it so many times that if I had a dime for each time, I'd be rich enough to be eating sushi off naked women. Ok, so maybe not.

Right, so it didn't surprise me one bit when I heard those famous words uttered again the other day. This was the day that the world stood still (for some Malaysians at least) when the shock waves from a second quake off the coast of Sumatra hit us over here. Cue mucho hysterics, wide-spread panic, and an exodus of sorts from high rise condos and service apartments alike. Cue lots of doomsday text messages flying about and frantic calls to loved ones. Cue CNN going mental on their coverage (as usual), interviewing every Tom, Dick and Harry even remotely related to the incident (heck, they would've even interviewed my barber on account that he visited Indonesia once. How is this anyway related? Precisely). Cue a photo appearing in one of the local dailies depicting our brave policemen (the pride of Malaysians everywhere) bent over studiously observing the waves as if the fate of the world depended on it, with the caption going something like "...local policemen check for signs of tsunami..." no less. No doubt they were discussing theoretical developments concerning water waves dynamics while they were at it.

Strange how on the night, I received some frantic phone calls from friends and colleagues alike describing in vivid detail of how their respective buildings trembled and shook for an hour or so, and how their beds were flung from one corner to the next, and how their furniture was violently tossed about. Even stranger yet that the tremors lasted for a mere 3 minutes in Sumatra, closest to the epicentre.

So anyway, for the purposes of this purely deep scholarly discussion, let us take a deeper look into what this short and undoubtedly profound sentence tells us. Life is short, then we die.

Firstly, life is short. Well, let's see. Unless you're Michael Jackson and have already booked a place in some hi-tech cryogenic chamber where your inanimate body will be put in deep freeze and subsequently brought back to life some day ala Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky (having the delectable Penelope Cruz as company in your dreams, one might add) then yeah, sure, it surely is (though I think in Jacko's case, it won't be women, at least adult women, he'd be dreaming off). Before you know it, one day, you'd be old and grey, maybe alone or maybe not, and thinking, what the eff? Is that all to it? I mean, where's all that self-actualisation shit that Maslow was harping on about? I mean, what the fuck dude??? Well, unless you're Gandhi or Ron Jeremy, it's a safe bet to say that neither you or me would get to experience any form of self-actualisation anytime soon (well, at least without the help of special pharmaceutical products that is). So there, life is surely short. Just like that Xbox commercial where the baby flies through life at high speed, aging till he ends up in his grave.

Then we die. Well, I guess that's pretty self-explanatory to you and me. Those poor souls fleeing for their lives from their luxurius condo units were undoubtedly thinking that very thought (though it was probably something along the lines of idunwannadieidunwannadieidunwannadie). I've heard of how one of my buddies almost fell sick to his stomach when he saw a young teen couple fleeing down the stairs poetically holding hands as they did. He could almost hear Celine Dion singing in the background as he overtook them (running down a flight of stairs whilst holding hands slows you down, fact). I get the feeling that he was tempted to give Leonardo there a kick up his backside as he passed them. Or on the opposite spectrum, a friend of mine was awoken by his macho cousin who shouted out: "We're all gonna die! Run for your lives!" and promptly abandoned all hope and reason and fled without looking back. Now, that'll set the ladies hearts a fluttering. Another friend thought he was in the midst of a poltergeist attack and was too frozen to move. Yet another one just went back to sleep till he was forced by his in-laws to abandon ship.

Ah, so I guess it just proves to show of how differently one would react to the threat of (perceived) impending death. Some might say: bugger that, I need my eight hours, wake me up when it's over. Or some would say: you jump, I jump. Others just go postal (like my buddy's cousin). Then after it all, when everything is all safe and nice in the world once more, and the cloud has passed, they would say it. Life is short, then we die. It's just too bad that it sometimes takes the thought of almost being disembowled or decapitated to make them realise it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

10. Cool Stuff

To read...

1. Nick Hornby's High Fidelity - No one 'gets it' more than this guy.

2. DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little - Kinda like 'Catcher in the Rye' for the Eminem generation, or maybe not.

3. Stephen King's IT - This and The Stand were his best work when he was in his prime, check it out, at 1.000 plus pages, it'll keep u occupied for a bit.

To watch...

1. Grave of the Fireflies - One of my top five favourite films, and i've only seen it once, way too under-rated, and way too important to be missed, don't believe me, ask Roger Ebert.

2. Garden State - That scene with the fast-food knight doing the Klingon speech was gut-bustingly hilarious, plus there's Natalie Portman in it, need there be more to be said?

3. Tres Lounge - That 'weird' looking fella's directorial debut...the characters in this film are so utterly pathetic that u can't help but feel sorry for them...and the thing is, I know some people who could just end up like them; displaced, alone, dimmed and worse, indifferent to it all...

To listen...

1. Damien Rice's O - That song "The Blower's Daughter" (from Closer) is worth the price alone.

2. Radiohead's OK Computer - An oldie but goodie, in my opinion, the Best Album Ever, and Let Down the Best Song Ever.

3. Disagree's At the End of the Day - Good melodies, good vocals, kinda lame lyrics though (of the standard grunge-teen-angst variety.

Friday, March 04, 2005

9. Racism, Service Apartments and King Kong

Great article here by Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London in the Guardian today.

Here are some excerpts...

"Racism is a uniquely reactionary ideology, used to justify the greatest crimes in history - the slave trade, the extermination of all original inhabitants of the Caribbean, the elimination of every native inhabitant of Tasmania, apartheid. The Holocaust was the ultimate, "industrialised" expression of racist barbarity.

Racism serves as the cutting edge of the most reactionary movements. An ideology that starts by declaring one human being inferior to another is the slope whose end is at Auschwitz. That is why I detest racism."

And then some...

"To avoid manufactured misunderstandings, the policies of Israeli governments are not analogous to Nazism. They do not aim at the systematic extermination of the Palestinian people, in the way Nazism sought the annihilation of the Jews.

Israel's expansion has included ethnic cleansing. Palestinians who had lived in that land for centuries were driven out by systematic violence and terror aimed at ethnically cleansing what became a large part of the Israeli state. The methods of groups like the Irgun and the Stern gang were the same as those of the Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic: to drive out people by terror.

Today the Israeli government continues seizures of Palestinian land for settlements, military incursions into surrounding countries and denial of the right of Palestinians expelled by terror to return. Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, is a war criminal who should be in prison, not in office. Israel's own Kahan commission found that Sharon shared responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacres."

And finally...

"Today the Israeli government is helping to promote a wholly distorted picture of racism and religious discrimination in Europe, implying that the most serious upsurge of hatred and discrimination is against Jews.

All racist and anti-semitic attacks must be stamped out. However, the reality is that the great bulk of racist attacks in Europe today are on black people, Asians and Muslims - and they are the primary targets of the extreme right. For 20 years Israeli governments have attempted to portray anyone who forcefully criticises the policies of Israel as anti-semitic. The truth is the opposite: the same universal human values that recognise the Holocaust as the greatest racist crime of the 20th century require condemnation of the policies of successive Israeli governments - not on the absurd grounds that they are Nazi or equivalent to the Holocaust, but because ethnic cleansing, discrimination and terror are immoral."

You can read the article in it's entirety here. Mr Livingstone has some pretty interesting views, and as you would expect, he's getting some pretty heavy stick from the Jewish community in the UK. Read his views and make up your own mind if he's an anti-semitic hack or someone with something important to say.

On the home front, these days, all talk is about deporting illegals, hence all the special ops going about. That's got me thinking...these guys come here, under perilous conditions one might add, to make a better life for themselves and we, of course, greet them with open arms. They build our service apartments and condos, our shopping malls and office buildings, they wash our cars, clean our houses, do our gardening, they mind our parking lots, they take care of our kids and they also provide horny lonely men with the means to satisfy themselves. All's fine and well, eh? But then, suddenly, someone notices that hmmmm, well, seems that there's an awful lot of them around suddenly, and that these days, rather than robbing and killing each other, they've gone on to robbing and killing us Malaysians too. And what of all the sex crimes and such? Well, it's surely their fault! Those pesky immigrants, those pesky illegal immigrants, let's get rid of the lot of them and all will be well with the world.

Kinda funny methinks, 'cause the only reason they're here in the first place is that us Malaysians are just too lazy to do the jobs they happily accept in the first place. Now then, with all these guys gone, just who the heck are gonna finish building our nice service apartments and condos that's popping up everywhere? The last thing anyone needs right now is the sight of loads of half-finished projects littering the KL landscape. We've got enough problems as it is with the encroachment on Taman Cahaya (speaking of that, are we all to believe, as the officials tell us, that there's nothing out of the ordinary happening there? Sure there's nothing happening there, sure. The trees just uprooted themselves and went for a quick walkabout eh, eh?). On the subject of service apartments, click here to get enlightened.

And finally, for something completely irrelevant, click here. Bring on Peter Jackson's Kong.