Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunlight - A Personal Enlightenment of who I am and the people I surrounded myself with

Personal Enlightenment 
Like the old proverb "A stopped clock is still right twice a day". I want to thank my "friends" who had contributed tremendously in my own personal growth. You know, anyone, even bad friends can teach us something. I stumbled upon this truth and it really awakens me that the friends I keep and meet often is actually a reflection of who I am. And honestly, I've been "bad". But thanks to them, I realised this fact and able to immediately move on with my own personal growth and not be like them. I feel this is an important entry because this entry will remind me and others in the future of what NOT to become. Basically, there are 3 types of "bad friends" - The Drama Queens, Babies and Hypocrites.

The Queens
Let's start with the Drama Queens. This sort of people simply must know everything about you when they start to become your friends. They will ask you about your sexual tastes/orientation, your work, where you stay, who you live with, your job, just about everything. The worst part is, once they know, they will begin to question the validity of the facts given, demanding, observing and questioning your behaviors and attitudes towards them. That's why they are called Queens, because they expected to get the respect and knowledge from you, and when it comes to their friends who do the questioning, they do not reciprocate. Worst, they always think they are right.

The Baby
Now the second sort of bad friends are The Babies. This group of people constantly yearns for others who are more good-looking than them, more "luckier than them, more just about anything than them. Their admiration for others are always expressed in repressed and sometimes sexual ways, very much like the cries of babies for milk. The problem is: they are already adults! They do not seek to make any effort in getting what they want, and simply just let things happen. Worst, they think they have the "aura" to attract others to them and constantly boast about their past conquests and achievements to others. Nostalgia and sentimentality is always the topic of their conversations. And when they don't get what they desires, they cries to each other, seeking some form of acknowledgement and validity for their wishful yearnings. What's awful, they look at me and seek my empathy like a baby. Babies also possess strong memory in keeping scores with you about the past.

The Hypocrites
The third part of bad friends are The Hypocrites. Be extremely aware of this group of friends, for at first they seem very friendly. They will cleverly speak of their thoughts and opinions in short bursts of words passionately, somtimes its funny, other times in great dramatic tones of voice, but always at the expense of bringing their friends down or correcting them in some ways in the end, through the disguise of "helping" them to understand themselves better. This group of people are often very vocal in a group situation, so as to cover up their own insecurities and changes their opinions often in tandem with the flow of the dialogue. Sometimes, they will do their own monologues, showing off their emotional selves, empathising others for their misfortunes, but never take the mirror and reflect on themselves. But soon, they will come back at you and scrutinise your behavior too and deem you not worthy to be called their friends.

You are whom you keep as friends
For aspiring artistes out there, be aware of these 3 groups of bad friends and try to stay away from them. You are whom you keep as friends. These type of people are repressed, and in real life often babbles like an intellectual. But of course if you have friends who are like these, then you can be like me and learn something out from it as a benefit. Immediately after last encounter with these bad friends, my mind began to open and realise how much time and energy are wasted in keeping those "friendships". Being a working artiste is even more crucial to clear your minds off this sort of negative influence, for truly, you have nothing to offer them.

Soon, I began to use my camera and capture pictures with the reflections of the sunlight on it. I find these pictures captivating and elusive. The shapes of the shadows and lights reflected on the surface are all temporary. Within the space of a few minutes, they are all gone! I feel my inspiration for the pictures taken, comes from the encounter I had with those "bad friends". They all know I'm an artiste, and perhaps they might be jealous or curious to know about my life. I believe their behavior and attitudes toward me is a precursor to  bigger things to come. The media reporters act just like the way they do, especially the paparazzi who are out to get dirt. But the big difference is, I accepted them as my "friends". A good practise for me as an artiste for I should be able to prep myself for more of such encounters. I am so thankful to come to this realisation through my "bad friends".

7 Lessons learned from "bad friends"
Now, the purpose of writing this entry is of course to share what I've learned, some I already know, but out from the "bad friends" encounter, the things I know seem to become even more prominent. Below are the tips all of us should strive to maintain, when having conversations or meetings with friends:

1) Being respectful to your friends means giving space to your friends when they do not want to share parts of themselves. Don't judge your friends and say they are "acting" in front of you, because they have the right not to share. Worst, when you force people to share, you might not get the truth.

2) Don't judge your friends as being unfriendly towards you due to their behaviors and attitudes towards you at certain places and times. This is because you do not know what he's going through. For example, if he's not giving you the eye contact when you're talking to him, don't immediately accuse him of being untruthful. Your approach could mean you are being too forceful in your questioning and intrusive.

3) Proof is not needed to uphold the statements you give, simply because we're just friends! Certain friends wants to see proof of what you said, but they have nothing to do with your work whatsoever. So don't bother about giving in to them. But you can still choose to share, if you want to. If they accuse you of lying, just be it. That sort of friendship is not worth maintaining. For example, one of my friend demanded proof that I am involved in a certain project. So I gave him the project details, and he type it in the internet to check out. But when the results were not what he expected, he quickly jump into assumptions, twisting facts on his own. Here's come the fourth point.

4) Be careful of your own assumptions, words and perception about others because they are in fact a reflection of yourself! I have this "friend" who was obviously a hypocrite, who often avoids speaking of himself, and often berate others of their actions. So uncool...and obvious to me, for I am observing him too.

5) Always remember that you are just a friend, not a mother. Bad friends always magnify little little things about you like your behaviors and attitudes, and questions your motives and intentions. They will delve into the psychology of your mind, bring up past cases just to show how clever they are in knowing you, but in fact they don't know anything.

6) Go back to the purpose of the friendship. Is it for work related? Is it for some shared interests? If the friendship does not meet any of your needs, but instead makes you feel worst than you already do, it's best to end it. It may be painful to cut off these ties, but pain only signify growth, and growth is what we seek. Growth is important for your healthy self-image.

7) And finally, just relax and enjoy each other's companionship. Don't sweat the small stuff because it's all small stuff. If you feel they are not the right friends for you, simply don't contact or go near them again. You can always make new friends and start afresh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Curious Encounter Between the Courageous Red Trunks Merman & the Evil Four-Eyes Sea Snake

Pretty Merman 
Horny Sea Snake

The pool where the snake lurks
So I was in the pool, swimming innocently like a child, unabashed, undisturbed by the world outside, just like a little merman doing my laps in the afternoons. Suddenly one older man swam next to me like a sea snake and hissed the way I swim is wrong and needs to move my belly sideways so I don't have to come up and gasp for air. What's all this instruction and order? In the first place, I don't even know this guy, and when I stopped to rest, there he was making his attempt to speak to me. Excuse me, wrong tone, mister. I don't know you, probably you're trying to "cruise" me, but your attempt is a turn-off. Then quickly, I went to the changing room, and there he was following from behind. When I was stark naked in the shower, he sneakily slided pass to see what I was doing. Gives me the have him staring at my wet bubble butt. Move away, you discontented snake! Didn't you have enough already?

Watch where you swing those bags, you *@$%!
Swing, swing, make it ouch!
Another incident is the way Malaysians, show their discontent in public. There were a few times in the LRT, when people will just rush and push each other, especially the ladies with their giant bags, and groceries after the day's shopping at Kamdar, Mydin or wherever, without regard of other people and just bang the bags over everyone next to her. Come on, no eyes? And to think there's going to be a train specially dedicated for the ladies, hey, the men are also in the danger of being harmed by ladies' shopping bags too! Where's the protection for the men, or more specifically a chinese guy like myself? The sides of the plastic bags are very sharp! And inconsiderately they swing their bags that way and this, not thinking it cut on other people's bare legs and arms.

New outside, same old inside
Why do I sense so much discontent among Malaysians? Look at them, walking in groups of specific races, no mixture of the utopian 1Malaysia. Malays talk among themselves, chatting so happily and relax. The Chinese mostly in the office clothes will talk about business, usually 2 or 3 in a group. No mixture of races when you watch them at coffee shops during lunch hour. Sour and serious faces plastered among the sitting and standing crowds in the train, being surrounded by so many new deco already to herald in 2020, but our internal self still trapped in the old ways. I know Malaysians want to change. But they are hindered, tied to, fearful of being looked down, frowned by others if they were to truly articulate how they feel. Where's the courage? So we keep it inside, put on weak smile (or frown) and just tidak apa-la (don't care).

Cannot say "Transgender, bi etc..."
Final order: we are all straight full stop
The radio station recently banned the words "transgender, bi, lesbian, gay" in the infamous Lady Gaga's single "Born This Way" from being aired. Not enough our TV dramas/films must contain the usual prim, proper, cookie-cutter good versus bad, end with a moral lesson plot for us to watch, now its even restricting what we hear! I'm a young man, and beginning to question why there's so much sheltering us from the so-called "bad influences"? Are Malaysians not mature enough to accept all these? Or maybe somebody up there wants us to remain in our small cocoon minds, forever without the reach for higher thoughts and reasoning, making us unable to form our own minds and instead follow the censored versions of our lives.

Where's my contemplate?
No wonder so many people are depressed and sad. Unhappy over their work. I was in the smoky cybercafe today, and this Chinese man was shouting vulgar Hokkien words (Kan-ne-ne, lanciau) .... at the computer screen! So much anger within him, and the only outlet for his deep seated anger is through his games on the Internet. Really you cannot blame his hyper-anger, for there seems to be no honesty in the media today to reflect and help him contemplate the way this Chinese man is feeling deep inside! Hopelessness and deep-wrought negativity already entangled our minds, tight-twisted by the need to uphold traditions and religion. So many people are lazy already, for they know there's no point making a change, take the effort to question the status quo. Subconsciously at a deeper level, we are all chided to follow the code. Like Neo in The Matrix encountering the choice of the blue or red pill? Here, we don't have that choice.

Choose a colour
Like the sea snake who only likes to preach and give orders about the correct way to swim to the merman - we cannot question one. Must take it seriously. It's my race, my religion. Respect that. Then it is SATUmalaysia. Come on, my Malay neighbors next door don't even give a hoot. Our very system (from education right to employment) has make us afraid to take a good look at ourselves, and be honest of what we truly want - liberation from fears of all kinds. Instead, we are advised to take the more censored views of ourselves and the world around us, to the point that we puke at our own fakeness, and forced to eat it as well. Enough, man! Just give me the red pill!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Malaysian 2011 "Mega Structures" Hits & Misses - Some you just want to poke your eyes out

City folks unfriendly? Who cares?
2011 is indeed a very special year. For a normal pedestrian like myself, I'm out in the public often and get to see the changes happening around. Because to me, I am very aware of the physical world surrounding myself, what's more being in the city. City life, people say can be lonely, and it's true in some respects. Everybody is too busy and full of themselves. For an example, a friend text message me to go to a movie, it was pretty last minute and I replied bidding him to go on without me. After a few hours, as courtesy, I text message him again and asked about the movie. No reply. He's probably angry or too smug of himself to reply a courtesy. Oh well, a lot of people lost their courtesy these days.

New bridge that connects station to post office
Unworthy humans. Only buildings, worthy.
But city life is not that bad, as some of my friends may profess. There are buildings and people around us. Especially this year, I get to see some interesting structures building up. For this one next to Pavillion, has the strange aluminium multi-hexagonic shape to it. Really eye-catching, and gives the impression of world-class. Further along and you'll see the new Yes (a telcos brand) promotional block of advertising. Eye-catching too.

Next stop: Central Market
I love taking the LRT, and the spot where the most developments happening this year must be the Central Market station. The first thing you'll notice after coming out the station is the bridge connecting directly to the Pos Malaysia office headquarter. It's convenient for people working in the area or folks like myself who needs to go buy stamps.

Giant "Wau" to welcome visitors
Of course, for people stopping at this station, you must visit Central Market. And there it is: the magnificent "Wau" arch entrance to welcome guests into the corridor, where there's all types of stores selling trinkets and touristy stuff we locals will never actually buy..tsk,tsk. But all the stalls look unique (and uniform) with its "rumah papan" (wooden house) concept. I also love the row of green pots that separates the carpark from the walkway into the corridor. Adds the much needed greenery to the atmosphere. I remember back in 2000, Central Market is quite worn out, and filled with street musicians and dancers and dodgy medicine man selling their lotions that extends, prolong or enhance the male genitals. Where are they now?

Where are the dodgy street traders & musicians? I miss them.

Petty traders & buskers, where art thou?
With all this new deco, I'm sure the authorities have shoo-ed them away from their trade. But they are the people back then that brings much life to the streets and I will just sit there on the walkway and watch them parading and shouting about their tricks. Pedestrians will crowd around these petty trade peddlers, listening to their words like a sermon in a church. Some would volunteer themselves to be experimented upon with their various snake oils and lotions. The area was filled with smoke and incense, making me feel carried away sometimes in their delusions of wonder and empowerment. I was very young back then, and easily swayed. disillusioned by all street nonsense. Maybe it was the loneliness that makes me give up myself to the whole wave of hoo-ha, but hey, it was fun - letting yourself go in the midst of activities.

Future hotel in construction
So walk back to the entrance and you'll see this giant building newly erected. It's going to be a hotel, but the building looks so similar to another building I saw before, where it was a newspaper building. I love the angle of the structure that has a nose in the end. Along the road, there's this huge drain, many mistaken it as the river. I notice some people even fish in the drain! On the walls of the banks, you'll see all kinds of graffiti art.

Covered from point A to Z
Sheltered walkway

Beside this huge drain, a newly hovered walkway roof is built for pedestrians (and now beggars) to sit and relax. I love the roof along it, for it extends all the way to the LRT station. Very useful during rainy times, for those without umbrellas. The LRT train rail hovers above the main road, which leads right into the tunnel. In between these 2 crossways, there's an opening, when during rain, a lot of water comes down onto the main pedestrian crossway. Now, there's a covering right on the top. But I wonder, what happens when the drain beside the walkway overflows with water and flooded it? Let's hope that day never happens....
Thoughtful top covering to protect pedestrians from rain

Here comes the sores, poke my eyes!
Take the train and go a bit further towards PJ, and one station later, I notice this giant stick of a structure that looks most peculiar. Any structure, in my opinion must serve some purpose, be it for branding purpose or serve as a landmark for the crowd to identify a specific area. But this one! I am not the sort that likes to belittle a work of art, but truly it hits me as something amiss. KL Sentral is such a huge place. It's like a thorn among the roses. Another "interesting" structure will greet you when you reach the Amcorp Mall station. To me, it looks like a geometric design derived from the beehive. The way the hexagon panels "clutches" the carpark building, seem to suggest it is invading the poor building, and serve to be a parasite.

Some final words - it's not all that bad...
Poke my eyes, please...
The beehive has invaded
So finally, it's not all that bad living in the city. Enough of those half-hearted "friends" who text message you in the pretense of asking you out for a movie, but with no courtesy to accept a "no" gracefully. You have all these "mega-structures" to cheer you up! So open your eyes and see the world around you. A good artiste is very aware of the world he/she lives in. Don't be a scared frog and live under the husk. Who cares if the city folks are unfriendly? At least we have new buildings popping up like mushrooms where we can sit on for us to critique....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A study on what makes the best TV series - why normal-looking talents being featured attracts more viewers than beautiful models

I don't know whether you guys watched "The Sopranos" or not. If you haven't, then you should. It was voted number 1, and still is the best TV series in The Guardian list, a UK-based media publication. I have my doubts at first when being given this piece of news. How can a story about the Mafia family be given the number 1 spot? I loved the X-Files, and it was listed as number 6 or something. Then finally, when I really put myself into watching, my, does this TV series deserve the spot.

A lot of the local producers will choose beautiful modelesque talents to be in the main-starring roles. They are deemed to be commercially-viable, with good looks. Of course we all love to watch beautiful people. But to watch them over and over again is another thing. Some of these "beautiful people" do know how to act, but not many, at least locally. Taking back at "The Sopranos" as a benchmark, you'll notice that almost all the cast are not very beautiful people at all! The main actors are all in the 40 and above, with the oldest being in his 80s! But the acting! My goodness, it is so good, because it is so REAL. I believe as an actor grows older, he/she becomes even better in the trade. This TV series will truly motivate those mature actors out there who still seek work in the industry. It is also a shining example to our local industry not to focus only the teenagers and model-like talents. Give those talents who are older and less than good-looking a chance too. My Artiste Training Course welcomes students who are older and mature too, not only for the young.

For the acting to show, the film direction has to come into question. I notice the camera truly does respect the all the actors' expression, being given space for them to do their work. There's no quick cuts unnecessarily to conjure some unwanted immediacy. The pace of the series are really well-done. It is not too fast or too slow, hence letting the story to develop on its own. The moments when there are no dialogue are simply the best, especially between the character Tony and Carmela. These moments "speaks" volumes to the viewers because the viewers are given the chance to feel the underlying tension brewing between the actors.

The other most important element is definitely the STORY. It doesn't follow the conventional way of story-telling where there's a happy ending or a lesson to be learnt. Each episode can actually stands on its own, if say, you miss an episode. That's a very important part of the story make-up because its a TV series. Some of the audience will certainly miss an episode. The focus of the story is also spread equally well among all the cast, with no one taking the "centre stage". This is important because viewers get easily bored with only 1 person to carry an entire series (like what most our local dramas do). It's simply too boring to see that beautiful person acting the scene after scene, carrying the same dialogue (at least to my ears). If you were to watch our local dramas, all of it must contain some form of moral value. But not The Sopranos, for morality is not dictated by anyone. People die. The villain becomes the hero. Justice that never see the light of day. True themes that affect everyday people. Something similar with the recent commercial I've starred in:

If only one day our local drama can produce such good TV series. And it doesn't cost much even to produce! The whole  anchor that makes a good TV series and movies lie in THE SCRIPT. I believe the standard of literacy in our country needs to be seen in a different way. It's not just good enough to be able to read and write, but most importantly is the ability to question certain status quo that is existing, portray everyday folks that is believable and not in some glamor, fake, good vs bad kinda archtypes that is getting too tiring to watch. The truth of the matter is: nothing in this world is so clearly categorized as good and bad. That's what acting is about too. A lot of people doesn't realise that. There's no right or wrong. My Artiste Training Course respects the talent, only seek to uncover and mould the talent to their full potential.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to take care of your Umbrella > You need to because of the unpredictable weather.

I love my umbrella big and strong!
My notebook is finally repaired! Cost me RM330. So happy to be able to be online at home again, and share some tips to my beloved followers here. For the first entry after a long hiatus, I will write about umbrella. You see, in a country like Malaysia, where there's rain at such unpredictable hours, an artiste need to carry an umbrella with him at all times. For me, I love my umbrella to be big and strong, but nice enough to fit into my bag. I broke a few umbrellas in my lifetime before, and learned my lessons in maintaining an umbrella. Now I'm departing all those knowledge, so you can use your umbrella for a long long time. Like anything else in life, an umbrella needs your careful upkeeping too. I know umbrellas are cheap and cost like RM10 per pair, but you'll be surprised how much money you'll waste from just buying umbrellas alone and everytime you throw away a spoilt pair, you are actually affirming your own carelessness. So why not learn to appreciate the little little things in life? More will be given to you in the future if you do. Or would you rather go into the rain and kiss it like Billie Myers?

1) Trim the edges so it looks smooth
Like my newly bought umbrella, use a scissors and trim the threads around the it. Even for a new one, I notice a lot of those stray threads around. It's better you trim those threads away, because if you just let it hang there, the thread will surely get entangled with your bag's zipper or your wrist watch or whatever, causing the thread to lengthen and make the umbrella's fabric surface thinner. Even umbrella needs to look presentable, like the bushes in your garden. Don't let any unwanted threads hanging here and there, looking unsightly.

2) Handling the umbrella
Taking out your umbrella for use and closing it requires you to be careful too. I used to be in such a rush to open and close my umbrella without realising how much harm I've caused my poor umbrella till it broke. Don't rush to take out your umbrella for use when you notice the rain coming. Stay calm, gather your mind and gently open your umbrella. Feel the handle extends out from the sheath and slowly opens the top. Be aware how intricate the insides, under the umbrella top with all the sticks and threads and screws supporting the opening above. I had one umbrella where the screw came off, causing the stick to loosen, jut out and fall from the supporting. The stick became sharp at the end and tore right through the top fabric of the umbrella causing a giant hole when I pulled up to open. A hole in the umbrella only allows rain water to seep into, so what's the point of using it? So becareful of how you open and close your umbrella. Open it slow, and one trick I've learned when you close the umbrella after use, be sure the button edges formed a circle enclosing the handle (refer to visual). That's the visual sign you've closed the umbrella properly.

3) Positioning your umbrella in your bag (or wherever you choose to carry it into)
Now, a busy entrepreneuring artiste like myself always runs here and there and on the move. So in my world, everything is in motion. I've learned my lesson in the past, where I placed my stuff in the wrong spot, causing it to mesh and squashed into a rotten shape. Same rule applies to your umbrella. Put it in the best spot/angle where you're free to move and doesn't hinder your way and motion. Depends where you put it, I almost always put my giant stick of umbrella at the end of my bag, where my bag zipper will end to enclose the top. That way, when I carry my bag on my shoulder, the giant potruding stick will not block my elbows and arms. Notice how firmly snug my umbrella is in the green cover with latch.

4) Finally, just let your umbrella "hang"
This is important after heavy use. Open your umbrella and place it on the floor or wherever that's dry. Never forget to take out the umbrella in your bag after heavy use, for it'll spoil the fabrics of your umbrella from the wetness or worst, leave mildew with a kinda strange smell in your bag! Remember it is wet, drenched in the rain, well, in urban cities like ours, are toxic dirty rainwater. You need to just open your umbrella and let it rest in the sun. That way, your umbrella will thank you for all the care you've put into it and bless you with many rainy days of trustworthy use.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blank Screen on my Notebook - Time Out, followers!

Too much stress can cause burn-out
Must be stressing my little notebook too hard. It is known that leaving it up and running too long can cause it to heat up and spoil the internal motherboard. And it happened one night. The screen suddenly went blank. Thought it might be the connection to the power. But everything was intact. Try pushing the power button on and off a few times. Confirmed! This notebook is not going back up.

No business for neighborhood
So went to the neighborhood  IT centre, and they charge up to RM450 to replace the motherboard, with reasonable doubt that it might occur again. Think again, for that price, might as well buy a totally new notebook. Finally decided to take it back to Low Yat Plaza, where it was first purchased. Thought I could give some business to my neighborhood, but seems like they are over-charging. What's more, they even charged me RM30 for the inspection. Good enough, thank you.

The level of customer service is so - blah!
First contact with the customer service officer, the price stated was RM250. Wow, that's very reasonable, say compared to the last. Of course after a week, still no news from them, so I called him up from the business card given. No answers, except a text message stating that the motherboard needs to be replaced. Heck, I know that already. And the price went up to RM350. I replied with an OK, and have to wait for 2 more weeks.

Blank screen equals blank mind
Finally, have some time to clear my mind up. The absence of my notebook in front of me, at first, makes me feel weird, and amiss. But my mind slowly becomes more focused, at the things I do. Usually I will multi-task: watch TV, surf online via netbook, eat, read, answer my calls. Now, my mind is clear, and it also forces me out to the public cybercafes (like now, as I post this entry).

Some physical outdoor-sy activity, finally
It's fun actually, to be out in the public. Get to do some walking, breathe the fresh night air, with groups of teens and young adults beside me engrossed with their online games. Being connected online is one thing, being in a group of people physically is another...much much better thing. But of course they were all engrossed in their own things. Hearing their constant jeering and cheering in the cybercafe really puts my need to focus, again.

Turn off the computer to get some perspective in life
As always, with every "negative" thing that happens, there's always a positive. Perception is key. I am really learning to adjust my perception. What's more being quite "public" figure, there are bound to be some parties who would misunderstood our actions, and demand certain actions from us to rectify their "losses", which we didn't even do anything in the first place! to have a proper perspective of life. If I did no wrong, then I need not proceed with the actions demanded. Perception is cleared! Thank goodness my netbook went blank. Keeps my mind all cleared up and buck up my ability to focus more clearly on this demanding artiste life.