Madness is Not a Bad Word

Revisited: Save the Day

The Dark Knight could possibly be the new Blade Runner. Reborn in a much more intricately weaved picture of the ever so bleak anti-hero plot. Complex, riveting and intelligently portrayed. This might just be Christopher Nolan's finest hour. I'm sure most would agree that Memento was probably his best work, but let's just agree to disagree just for the duration of this meandering post.

This film challenges many known conventions that Hollywood holds dear for decades. It questions the film industry's all-too-well known big blockbuster formulas. Hero has incredible (and sometimes superhuman) abilities, beats the bad guy to a pulp, saves the city (and sometimes the entire galaxy), saves the girl, kisses her under the oh-so-artificial purple sunset and lives happily ever after. It has been pretty damn nauseating watching different films with such similar plots. You only need to watch the first 20-30 minutes to be able to mentally carve out the entire plot of the movie, including the part where the hero and heroine do tongue Olympics like there's no tomorrow.

What I like most about the film is that it shows the entire spectrum of Batman's fictional story in it's truest form. It shows the reality of the film, the comic, the underlying narratives. There's no sunshine and rainbows, no dodging bullets, no impossibly drop dead gorgeous heroine, and no crazy escapes from certain death scenarios ala Ethan Hunt.

The Joker was obviously the focal point of the film, accidental or not. Although the movie is about Batman, Gotham's dark knight, The Joker somehow managed to effortlessly outshine Batman by a mile. No doubt I do personally find Batman's character endearing and rather interesting. Elements of duality and dichotomy in it's character is extremely strong. Complete polar opposites when brought together creates a very strong attracting force, and that's exactly why Batman, and other superhero characters, have managed to attract legions of frenzied fans like gravity. Apart from the fancy gadgets and tight leather suits, of course.

But The Joker was really something else. In Heath Ledger's own words, he said that The Joker was a "psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic with zero empathy". Well, we all have come across such characters in other films before. But what Heath brought to the film was truly unique. Just like how Johnny Depp brought life to Captain Jack Sparrow, so did Heath in playing the role of The Joker.

What I find interesting is the genius behind the madman's character. In the film, he was always a few steps ahead of the entire mafia, the police force, and even the almost infallible Batman. He masterminded the entire plot to shake the very foundation of Gotham's soul, and succeeded. He was completely out of his mind, but the measure of his intelligence, fearlessness and flawless execution was beyond doubt. It's usually the first assumption that crazy people are, well, just crazy. But insanity is far from being one-dimensional. The multitudes of creative possibilities that arises from the condition, or disease if you may, are unquestionable.

The eccentrics, the lunatics, the schizos, the manic depressed, the drug addicts, are a broken lot. But in between those cracks lies a silver lining that most are completely oblivious and unaware of. Even in the most wretched of broken things. Madness is the reverse of reason, and what is opposite of what we perceive as normal, scares us. It is only human to fear what we don't understand. But despite all that, and despite one of my most favourite dead person Michel Foucault's very convincing criticisms on the romanticism of madness, I believe there is some concrete truth behind the silver lining of insanity and chaos. History never lies, and it has shown that our world have been shaped by men who did extraordinary things, who thought outside of the box, who took the road less taken, who said and did things that were widely believed to be unconventional (at their own respective times in history).

But of course, I'm talking in the most general sense of the word. The "insanity" that I speak of here, does not mean that such a person is a "psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic with zero empathy". What I mean is that a person who is deemed to be "insane" is simply someone who embodies one or more characteristics that is against societal conventions. It is a strong word, no doubt. But it's merely a word nonetheless. A composition of letters. An idea.

I have always strongly believed in the idea of duality. Without either half, life and existence as we know it will cease to prevail. Nothing will make sense without the intertwining of opposites. Everything is relative. What little I understand from Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is that everything needs something to be compared to in order for it to be measured, calculated, weighed, and understood. Everything needs an opposite for it to work. An atom without an electron will not work. A married couple of two chatterboxes will not work. The cold hard steel pistons in your car will not work without slick, slippery grease. That Hugo Boss jacket won't come crawling to you without pushing for overtime at work.

"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction", wrote you-know-who centuries ago. I know there's a paradox behind that law, but scrap that and just think about it on the surface. It explains this whole duality nonsense in the simplest way possible. Newton's Third Law of Motion doesn't need to only apply on motion between objects (again, scrap the maths), but on the motion of life. The formula speaks of the movement between order and chaos, good and evil, life and death. The application of the law is far reaching, extending beyond the realm of science and into places that even mathematical equations can't fully explain in its entirety. I have an easy example. Think of karma; if you do wrong to someone, you will get it back. Bitch slapped right across your face, in this life or the next.

Without one, what will be the other? And more importantly, what will "be"? Will we ever know what is light if there is no darkness? Will we ever appreciate life if there is no death? Will we ever truly feel love if there is no suffering? Will we treasure something truly beautiful if nothing before it is ugly? Will we find our soulmate if we have never met all the wrong ones? Will we ever know what is real if we have never dreamt? Will we ever have faith if we have never lost it?

And of everything We have created pairs, that you may remember (the Grace of Allah).
- Surah Adh-Dhariyat, verse 49

“If my devils were to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well”
Rainer Maria Rilke

When Something Appears, Another One Will Tragically Disappear

My dad woke me up too early and handed me a new Guess watch this morning. Barely awake and yawning to no end, I strapped it on and fell asleep again.

Later that afternoon, I went around Bangsar to run some errands, do some shopping, and eat some food. Round and round I went, gleefully doing imaginary skips in my head, strutting down the mall in front of glossy windows with that ever seductive word SALE spanked everywhere, with plastic bags of new clothes (gasp!) hanging down my girlishly skinny wrists.

We went for one last round of window shopping, since the previous trips left me almost broke. Almost, but enough for next week I'm sure. Shoes shoes shoes here I come! Anyway. I drove back home, went upstairs and said hi to my parents who coolly said to me, "This is not our house anymore. We're moving to a new one in a few months time". I see.

So, I proceeded to my room, unloaded the bags, and realised that something's missing. I ran back to the car and threw everything out, short of stripping the entire car bare. Seats, steering wheel, carpets, and yes, even the cup holders. After a good sweaty 20 minutes of pillaging the car, I gave up. That was it. I lost it. My fucking favourite watch. The old one that I swapped to give way for the new one my dad gave me. I must have left it at any one of the three shops, at least.

Morning, I get a new watch. Afternoon, I lose my old watch. Both are of the same brand and both in the same colour. What are the odds?



To Keep A Long Story Short

Of polka dotted horses jumping over rainbow poles, great food and the beautiful Nurul.

(3Q Classic hosts the South East Asian League World Cup event, and its Equestrian Promotion’s Triple Crown of Show Jumping and Dressage)

I bumped into a friend at 3Q's equestrian event. I just found out then that she was riding for Malaysia. Surprise, surprise. The dressage was boring, I didn't really understand that part of the event much. The riders and their horses were just circling around the arena. Nothing spectacular really. The show jumping was a lot of fun. They had 3 stages or levels or whatever else you call it, and raised the bar each time. I think it went up to over 1.5m. When you're up on a horse, believe me that's pretty damn high. Two riders got thrown off their horses, where one of them had to be sent to the hospital for a broken thigh. Night time rolled in and the "party" started. They had fantastic BBQ food, karaoke and an open dance floor. Nurul (Ajai's ex, the songbird) was there. She is absolutely drop dead beautiful in real life. Among all the local celebrities I've met she might just be the nicest, warmest, most down to earth personality yet. She did a few impromptu numbers during the karaoke and man can she sing.

Of uber expensive t-shirts, man in mini skirt and hot MILFs.

(Zang Toi New York Fall & Resort Collections 2008 at Hotel Istana)

Zang Toi's charity fashion show was fun. It was held in the Grand Mahkota Ballroom at Hotel Istana. We were completely out of place, for sure. The invites wrote "Formal", but there I was in a tucked out shirt, corduroy pants and white sneakers. I saw a few notable models and some goodlooking MILFs. Hoo yeah. We were walking around, looking through Zang Toi's new line, and there he was, the man himself, coming out of the press conference wearing a black baby tee and a black leather mini skirt. How often do you see a sane, 5' 5" Chinese man, wearing a leather mini skirt in public and get away with it? Zainal Abidin was the guest performer that night, and sang a few numbers. One of them was his most famous song, Hijau. He was surprisingly pretty good. Later on after the show we met Zainal Abidin and Zang Toi to snap some photos.

Of an impromptu rendezvous, white washed cafe and shitty ventilation.

(Oh My God That's What I Call Music #2 at Cloth & Clef featuring Laila's Lounge, Telebury, the Stoned Revivals and Rashdan Harith)

Cloth & Clef was just around the corner so we decided to stop by and check out that night's event. The place looks like a Palate Pallete wannabe. The line up was good, but the Stoned Revivals played a tad too long I think. We were waiting for Telebury, but decided to bail out early since it was getting so hot and stuffy because the place was cramped up with so many people and the ventilation was utter shit. I'll think twice if ever there's another event there again.

Of pretentious wannabes, great music and wasted nights.

(Twilight Action Girl at The Loft, Zouk)

I think it's been at least a few years since I've been to TAG. I was in the neighbourhood, since the hotel is only walking distance from Zouk, so I thought what the hell. Bumped into a friend there, as always. The music was good. Though I was entertained more by the crowd than TAG itself. I don't know if they're pretentious, trying too hard or both. Thank god it was only a minority, but there were still some sore sights. I saw at least 7-8 people with almost identical black & white horizontal stripped tops in a crowd of about 30 plus people. See, that is what happens when people try too hard to look unique and artsy and all of them congregate at the same spot on the same night every week. Idiots. That night I got completely sloshed. And that was probably only the third time in my life I've ever gotten completely smashed. Funny thing was that I didn't get any hangovers the day after. Hmm.

Of over-budgeted events, Taiwanese rappers and Flo Rida.

(Hennesy Artistry presenting Flo Rida, DJ Latin Prince, Machi and Pop Shuvit with visuals by VJ Callen)

Last weekend's Hennesy Artistry was crazy awesome. The set up was completely mind blowing. I felt as though I was at an international event somewhere overseas. They must have spent at least millions (I heard from the grapevines it was a little over RM1.5 million) on the whole event; artists, visuals, stage, free flow drinks, etc. I'm not a big fan of any of the performers that night but I thought since the invites were free, why not? Among the line up that night, I enjoyed Machi the most. No doubt they were a bit pop-ish, but entertaining nonetheless. DJ LP was crap. Flo Rida was great. We managed to climb up the tiny podium right smack in the middle, barely a few feet away from the stage. What a view that was. If only I had that same spot at Sunburst when Incubus performed. Now that would've been insane.

Of late mornings.

My holidays are coming to an end. Thank god for that. Long holidays drive me crazy. I don't really feel like writing (explains why I sound so bleedingly boring). But I just had to, for remembrance sake. There's a lot of other things that happened in between, but none that I can recall now from the top of my head. It's probably written in pieces of paper or my notebook, somewhere in my room.

Oh well.

Anwar vs Shabery Debate

I have to take my hat off to Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

His showmanship on tonight's Agenda Daily "Hari Ini Bentuk Kerajaan Esok Turun Harga Minyak" Debate at Balai Budaya Tun Syed Nasir, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka was truly a work of art. He outperformed Dato' Shabery Cheek by a mile. We all know of his world-class oratory skills, and they were on full force tonight.

But that is all just surface, of course. On closer analysis, you will find that Dato' Seri Anwar used a lot of useless arguments. He has a knack of using powerful rhetorics and sensitive sentiments. Words such as "fitnah", "membantu orang miskin", "membantu nelayan", "ekonomi merosot", "rakyat merana", and many many more, were thrown in every rebuttal with reckless abandon. But of course, it wasn't just reckless, it was all part of his grand political plans. He used simple statements sprinkled with sensitive sentiments and repeated it many times to drive home his rhetorics. Anyone with half a brain who listened would've believed him to the death.

PKR's biggest weakness has always been the failure to get Malay votes. It doesn't help that Dato' Seri Anwar is close friends with Paul Wolfowitz, the former Secretary of Defense (read: Zionist, chief architect behind the War on Iraq/War on Islam) and former President of the World Bank (read: IMF). That definitely doesn't pan well with Malay Muslims. Middle class non-Bumiputeras are their largest and strongest supporters, rallying behind PKR's call for a non-sectarian, Malaysian Malaysia. Post-Mahathir times saw the masses supporting Pak Lah to the end, with almost a clean sweep during the 11th Malaysian General Election in 2004. The Malays were generally contented with Pak Lah and the ruling government at that time. PKR did not manage to sway the Malay votes in their favour. Fast forward to today, a few years of mismanagement and poor implementation of promised policies and changes by Pak Lah saw an unprecedented swing of votes. The urban middle class Malays have uttered their disappointments with the current government by voting against it. PKR, PAS and DAP walked away with a surprisingly large chunk of votes.

And then came the oil price increase. Barely months after the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, suffered huge losses in the recent elections. Again, the rakyat as a whole are grumbling, complaining, criticising, cussing at the 40% increase in petrol prices. Such an unpopular policy is bound to create noise and anger among the rakyat, be it Bumiputera or non-Bumiputera alike. Again, a quiet sway of votes are cast against the government, against Barisan Nasional. And then came the sodomy allegations against Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim. That, obviously, worked in his favour. Again, reminiscence of 1999, whispers of government conspiracy theories and invinsible pats on his back accompanied by sighs of "kesiaaaan dia kena aniaya, kena fitnah, kena seksa".

I believe that those events leading up to the debate has worked in his favour. The elections, petrol price increase, the sodomy case, to name a few, have all elevated his position that much more. And tonight's debate on national TV was exactly the kind of stage he needed. To throw around rhetorics, play with sensitive sentiments and tug at the hearts of the rakyat, particularly the middle and lower income grouped Malays. He understands the Malay psyche well enough to know how to toy around and manipulate it to serve his own political goals. You can see that the way he moves on the stage overwhelms the words that comes out of his mouth. His showmanship overshadows the measly facts he occasionally throws around.

If you ever studied the human body language, you would have noticed how effectively he uses that skill. Every great orator knows how to play the crowd. How to manipulate the viewers into believing in something, even though it is not based on concrete facts. The facial expression, hand expressions, intonation of voice, all play a crucial role in influencing the audience.

And if you noticed, when the both shook hands Dato' Seri Anwar's hand was placed above Dato' Shabery Cheek's, a stance of dominance. The person who wants to gain that extra psychological advantage, to exert his power, will always place his hands above the recipient's. Next time you see Pak Lah on TV, notice how his hand is always on the lower end, marking the sign of a weaker character. We all know how nice and soft he is, and that is one physical proof of his malleable characteristic.

I personally think the debate was a bad idea. In the name of democracy, freedom of speech and transparency, it was a good and important step. No doubt about it. But if you were to take a step back and analyze the current and recent political climate objectively, you'd know it wasn't a wise move by the ruling government to go ahead with the debate. Tonight was exactly the kind of stage that Dato' Seri Anwar wanted, and needed. He didn't need to take it to the streets. He didn't need yet another sodomy case. He didn't need his blog, and those thousands of other PKR supporter (or anti-BN, anti-UMNO, anti-Pak Lah) blogs. All he needed was a slot on national TV, in one of the most anticipated programs in media history, to take a stand and deliver yet another one of his infamous political speeches.

No doubt the debate was about the oil price, but he meandered so much with political talk I swear that the moderator was paid money to keep mum when he deviated from the topic. More than once, to say the least. Dato' Shabery Cheek did very well to hold his own. His closing statements, in particular, was very strong and hit home a clear, firm message to the masses. Though I do think that although it was all backed up by facts he shouldn't have personally attacked Dato' Seri Anwar too much, that was a mistake. But overall, his rebuttals were based on cold hard facts and his statements were crystal clear, free from emotional and political sentiments.

At the end of the debate, we were trapped in the building for awhile. The reporters went berserk. They were fighting and arguing against each other, pushing and shoving the crowd, throwing punches and kicks at the security guards, yelling at the cops. It was a mad house. Right outside of Dewan Bahasa the streets spilled with PKR's supporters, closely watched by police in full riot gear. I was kind of hoping for a riot to break out, just for amusement sake. But of course at the same time I hope it wouldn't, that would just be crazy.

It was a rather enjoyable night. Not as entertaining as the kedai kopi scenarios at the Parliament, but enjoyable nonetheless.

So Where was I?

I've been staring at this space for awhile now, long enough that I will not divulge such useless information that'll potentially embarrass myself.

The past couple of weeks or so have been comfortably busy for me. Not too little, not too much. I have so much to write I'm sure I'd forget at least half of it after typing out the first few sentences. It brings me great shame to say that it has happened before. No kidding.

I bought an overpriced notebook to jot down details that I might forget. Daily going ons, random phrases, one liners, conversations, names and numbers, quotes from books, and everything else. But what's the use of that when I constantly forget that I have a notebook to begin with? Well, at least I have something pretty and 'intellectual' looking lying around in my room to make me feel 'smart' and sort of 'responsible', no?

Today is my Irritable Day. Almost every other thing has irritated me on at least one occasion today. Those cinema copy DVDs my dad bought (few months earlier he bought a Blu-Ray player, go figure), shitty cigarettes, cold lasagna, driving, being forced to watch Hellboy 2 for the second time, my camera, the internet, my hair, the weather, well, should I go on?

I'm already starting to scratch that constellation of semi-invinsible micropimples on my forehead. If you knew me at all, you'd know that's a bad sign. And if I were to be holding up that sign, it'll say Back the Fuck Off, Fuckwad. And that's me being polite. Kind of.

I think I should stop here.

I'll be Bach soon.





Urbanscapes: Addendum

I had a fucking blast at Urbanscapes!

I was there since morning helping out my friends set up Young Posh & Broke's booth at Threadzoo. None of us had ever done this before, so everything was pretty damn haphazard. We brought along a printer and laptop to print the remainder of our In Case of Emergency freebies. But it ran out of paper halfway. Doink. We arranged and rearranged the tables, clothes hanger, shoe rack, and everything once every 20-30 minutes from noon till mid-day. Again, doink.

Although the event officially started at noon, people started to slowly come in around 11ish. We were terrible salespeople to say the least. Half of the time the girls were preparing unfinished In Case of Emergency freebies. The guys were just hanging out at the back, complaining of the heat, the expensive beer, and bathing our faces with ice cubes. Some of us would disappear every now and then, to get more drinks, check out other booths, snap pictures and god knows what else.

Despite all that, Young Posh & Broke was a real crowd puller. It was raining strangers on our booth from mid-day all the way into the afternoon. Artsy fartsy wannabes, punk rock kids, tudung-clad girls, aunties and uncles, and some local band members and celebrities came to check out and buy our stuff. Our booth was the loudest, thanks to Molly. It wouldn't have been the same without her really. Young Posh & Broke was the only booth that gave away freebies; old-school candies, bubbles, lighters and condoms. Random feedback later said people found them useful. Ehem. I bet. We were pleasantly surprised that the In Case of Emergency freebie tags were a hit!

All in all, we did pretty damn well. Considering the fact that Molly and Farah came up with the idea barely a couple of weeks before Urbanscapes and thought "Eh jom jual", and that half of our cap's printing came out a disaster hence forcing them to improvise and fix all of them by hand through sleepless nights, it all worked out in the end. Young Posh & Broke started out as a joke on Facebook. Molly created a group on Facebook and invited friends to join, just for the hell of it. And now, suddenly, it's a clothing label.

There are plans set in motion. With potential projects in the future, in KL and probably some place else as well, and buckets full of new ideas. There are offers to supply more trucker caps and orders all the way from Sydney have been placed. There'll also be a men's clothing line, mainly t-shirts. We have our very own domain, and hopefully will be up and running soon. It's amazing how many people are helping out Young Posh & Broke. Thanks a bunch to Brick, Opy, Zulie, Kim, Amer, Alia B, Deanna Ibrahim, Wei Chien, and others (you know who you are). Envy Magazine has also been one of our earliest silent supporters. Warms our hearts to no end, really.

We closed Young Posh & Broke's booth late in the afternoon, since almost all our stuff were sold (particularly the trucker caps) and decided to call it a day. I went on later to join some friends to enjoy the rest of the day. I didn't manage to catch the acts I wanted to see, particularly Paolo Delfino, Otam and Kokaina (the Acoustic Livehouse was crazy packed). I missed out on the screenings, I was dying to see Flower in My Pocket and Ciplak. I walked around to check out the photography and art exhibitions; They Art Studio, Creative United Movement, Lost Generation Art Space, Wondermilk, 24-Hour KL, etc.

They were also other things I missed out on. KL Poetry Slam (by Dram Projects & WordForward), Rather Peculiar Theatre, Air Con (by Shanon Shah, presented by Instant CafĂ© Theatre’s FIRSTWoRKS). Though I did manage to watch a teeny weeny bit of a play, but I'm not sure which one. I remember a large man prancing around in a baju kurung. There were also shorts, experimental and music videos curated by KLue, Cinejam and Hello Motion. I got to watch a bit of Pure Vibracion and Bittersweet. I passed by a crowd going nuts singing along and jumping and moshing around to Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. I'm not sure who was spinning at that time. Lap Sap or maybe Twilight Action Girl?

The Threadzoo was pure madness. Some friends of mine set up shop there too, Ladyesah, Not Frumpy and Button My Buttons There was a non-stop flow of sweaty wide-eyed people in that scorching hot tent. It was nice to see a lot of enthusiastic fashionistas, girl and guys and all those in between, shopping like nobody's business, indirectly helping and supporting the burgeoning local indie fashion scene. The Marketplace also included stalls by Tongue In Chic, Bijou Bazaar, The Threads Zoo, Kraftgrafik x Lapsap REMIX Junkyard, British Council, Angkatan Baju Malaya and more. There was also a last minute mini photography exhibition done by Futuna and helped out by her boyfriend, Xumb. Her prints are fucking amazing, I kid you not.

There were some fair share of unavoidable dramas that day. Most of which I'm not even going to bother to write about. It was yet another day full of encounters with my past. I still find it amusingly odd that all of my exes were there. I spent half of the day with one ex, the other half with another one. Had a brief drama session with one. And I think I saw another one of my ex somewhere in the crowd. Occasions like these have been happening once too often. How strange. We stayed back for the last act of the day, Bass Agents. I had so much fun my cap, t-shirt, pants, underwear, socks, shoes and everything were drenched in sweat!

But of course, I can't close this entry without talking about the best part of the day. I was with Zara and my bestfriend, lying on the grass watching Bittersweet. There was this adorable little kid, with chubby cheeks and big round eyes, loitering about near us. He was running in circles headbanging to the beat of the music. Stumbled and rolled around the grass, then sat up, still headbanging. He crawled around and picked up an empty beer can. I smacked it out of his hands, and he just laughed. He crawled around again, and picked up a cigarette bud. By that time his mother (or so I think), came and picked him off. He was so adorable, doing the most unchildlike nonsense. Which makes me wonder, are those signs of an excitingly bleak future for this cute innocent kid? Full of sex, drugs and rock and roll. As of now, he is officially the coolest kid ever.

Urbanscapes '08