Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Beautiful Ain't She?

Congratulations to my friends Sean and Karen who just delivered their baby girl! I can't wait to get to carry her and introduce her to 'Kor Kor Bernard' (I refuse to use the moniker of 'Uncle' until I'm at least 30 years old). Many thanks to God for a safe and successful delivery!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII : Advent of Children

I've watched the movie, and I'll never be the same again. Sounds a bit far fetched? Not for me it ain't. You see, I am a true blue fan of Final Fantasy VII, which up til today ranks as my best gaming experience ever.

Ahh yes, I can still remember that day back in 1997. How eagerly I anticipated the game. I can recall the feeling I had when I finally managed to get my grubby hands on a copy. Slotting it into my then state-of-the-art PS, I powered up the console...

...and I was instantly transported into a world of adventure, peril, epic journeys, romance, love and despair. I remember the starting scene where the steam train pulls up into the city of Midgar. An industrial city of stained steel and bronze. A place where the rich dwell in magnificent splendour, while the poor languish in the slums beneath the city's foundations. It was indeed a special place.

It wasn't only Midgar however. Through the course of my journey, I travelled to far flung locations, visited strange villages, and met with individuals who would later on become my most trusted companions. I remember visiting Tifa in the shabby, rundown chapel, with her carefully tended patch of flowers blooming amidst the altar. Or the time spent with Aeris sitting on the rooftops of the slums, gazing up into the sky in all its magnificent splendour.

I have to admit, I will always have a soft spot for games. So you can imagine how eager I was to watch Advent of Children.

CGI Goodness

The movie definitely has some of the most mind-boggling, jaw dropping graphics to date! The quality of the textures, action sequences, special effects and hair are amazing. Did I mention the hair? It looks like what you would see in a Vidal Sassoon ad, not an animated movie.

In one of the starting scenes of the movie, you have Cloud, the hero from FFVII, standing on a dusty ledge with his truty bike. As he hops on his bike and rides toward the ruins of Midgar, he promptly comes under attack by Kadaj and his henchmen. This is the first of the many amazing fight sequences you'll be treated to throughout the movie. In this particular scene, sand creatures were summoned by Kadaj to join in the attack, all of which makes for some really good shite. Needless to say, Cloud succeeds in fending off the attacks of his 3 attackers, not without getting shot in the face by Kadaj though. Thankfully, the goggles he was wearing must have been some military-grade, super bullet proof specs coz the shot in the face only left him with a little scar. Only in the movies eh.

The rest of the movie featured many memorable scenes. Some of my favourites were the fight between Tifa and Loz in the chapel, and also the scene were Aeris appears in the end. Of course, its merely a coincidence that my favourite scenes both featured chun CGI babes, honestly.

The fight between Cloud and Sephiroth was a bit of a let down however. I was disappointed that Sephiroth was beaten quite easily, and whatever happened to all the creatures which could be summoned by Cloud? Sad to say, magic is practically non-existent in Advent of Children, so you won't be seeing any Neobahamut summonings by the good guys.

One thing which will always stick in my mind is the soundtrack though. It features the same tunes from the original FFVII game, but they were and still are absolutely amazing! Why, hearing the theme song is enough to bring a tear to my eye. Almost. In fact, I'm on right now trying to get my hands on an original copy of the soundtrack.

Yes, I am a bona fide propeller head.

Who is Tifa anyway?

Those of you who read my post below, and have no idea who in the world Aeris and Tifa are (I don't blame you. Only FF diehards would know), here's something for you. I couldn't find any pics of Aeris to post, but here are 2 good ones of Tifa taken from the movie.


Monday, September 26, 2005

My Seven Things

I've been tagged by my friend Bernice. So here goes.

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die
  • See my father come to Christ
  • Travel the world with my mother
  • Be active in missions, especially to the poorer nations of the world
  • Raise a family of my own with my wife
  • Embark on an epic drive from Paris to Istanbul along the Orient Express's original route
  • Sky dive from a biplane at 50,000 feet
  • Succeed in my business
Seven Things I Could Do
  • Have more compassion
  • Be more humble
  • Be more devoted in my Spiritual walk
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Make more of an effort to keep in touch with old friends
  • Cut down on my expenses
  • Appreciate the little things in life
Seven Celebrity Crushes
  • Angelina Jolie (Me and a million other guys, and girls even)
  • Jennifer Anniston
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • Eva Longoria (I could say I'm desperate for her. Corny, I know)
  • Aeris, Tifa and Rinoa from Final Fantasy (not geeky enough?....)
  • Kimberly, the piano playing girl from Jem and the Holograms (how about this?)
  • The Michelin Man (???)
Seven Often Repeated Words/Phrases
  • Bollocks
  • You know
  • Monkey
  • What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger
  • To-te-bayo
  • You are gay
  • There was this one time at band camp....
Seven Physical Traits I Look For in the Opposite Sex
  • No moustache
  • Must have female genatilia
  • No dorsal fin
  • Must not have a tail
  • At least 2 eyes
  • Must have hair
  • Must at least closely resemble a homosapien in physical form
Seven People to Tag
  • Nimal D
  • Anthony Leong
  • Yit Weng
  • Stephanie Yong
  • Winnie
  • David Lee
  • Lydia

Friday, September 23, 2005

An Unfamiliar Malaysia

A Wrong Turn

I got lost. I don't often get lost, but I did last night. It happened while I was making my way to a studio in PJ for a jamming session. I've been to this studio numerous times. I know the way there like I know the back of my hand. However, there must have been an aberrant gene in me which caused me to think "Hey, I think I'll try taking a short-cut".

How foolish those words would seem a mere 10 minutes later.

Familiar, but yet...

I was lost. I didn't even realise it at first. To me, based on my uncanny inner compass, I thought I was heading in the right direction. As I drove on, the roads began to narrow. I noticed more and more people walking about on foot, a strange sight indeed in our day and age of autmobiles. I passed by a brightly lit night market where traders were hawking their wares of fresh meat and vegetables. However, I only counted a handful of stores. It must have been a really small night market. No Ah Beng's peddling illegal DVDs, no dance music blasting from portable stereos, none of the stores which we usually associated with pasar malams. Just vegetables and meat.

The people looked different. Gone were the snappy outfits, designer jeans and funky hairdos which are ubiquitous in most parts of PJ. As Malaysians, their faces weren't alien to me, but their surroundings were. The houses became increasingly small and rundown the deeper I drove. Roads whittled away to become little more than badly tarred pathways, with debris and dirt strewn about. The streetlamps were cracked and dim, casting a desolate glow on the surrouding houses. Houses which by now, were little more than wooden contraptions topped with rusty pieces of zinc.

There were motorcycles aplenty. People rode about without helmets, pausing only to give me suspicious looks as they passed by. Although I was just within a stones throw from Bandar Utama, I felt like a complete stranger. Hastily making a u-turn, I made my way out. After driving for less than 5 minutes, I noticed my surroundings have changed again. This time, the roads were wide and smooth. The houses consisted of luxurious bungalows, with a host of Mercs and BMWs parked in the driveways.

Amazing how much difference 5 minutes can make isn't it?

Have We Become Complacent?

I know Malaysia doesn't consist solely of middle class and upper class folks. I know that there are many people who are living just above the poverty line. I pass by their neighbourhoods every morning by LRT as I make my way to work. I do notice the squatters and the slums which although at most times, seem invisible, are there just beyond our periphery. But I can't remember the last time I actually took a drive through one of these neighbourhoods, getting a close up look at just how the living conditions are for these folks.

I am glad I did however. To me, Malaysia is a land of gleaming skyscrapers, good food, a jumping nightlife and boundless opportunities. How different these people's experience of Malaysia must be. It must be of a Malaysia which is entirely unfamiliar to me.

I feel that everyone of us city folks in our relatively comfortable homes, with our cushy jobs and nice cars should take a break from our hedonistic schedules and take the time to actually see what is happening around us. So many times we complain because we didn't get that pay rise we wanted, or that new electronic gadget, or something equally as frivolous and insignificant. Have we forgotten that there are more than a billion people who live on less than a US Dollar a day? Or that there are 640 million children in the world without even a roof over their heads?

I know I am but one person, but hey, we all can make a difference. Like what a famous singer once sang (I'm sure you know him, the Gloved One), "I'm starting with the Man in the Mirror".


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My 5 Million Ringgit Bash

Party People!

5 Million ringgit is a lot of money. I wonder what kind of party you can have with 5 million smackeroos. I'm having trouble imagining it, but it must definitely be more fun than those fast-food restaurant parties whereby the mascot in the form of a clown, chicken, brown bear etc will come and cavort with you to the tune of 'It's a Small World After All'. Think about it, with 5 million bucks, you can hire a whole ARMY of clowns, chickens, brown bears etc to dance with you! I know that might be really frightening to some of my readers, but I think it's wayy cool! Imagine commanding an entire legion of A&W brown bears and directing them to lay siege to a nefarious McDonalds outlet.


Auld Lang Syne my dear director general

Those of you who've read the newspapers lately would know what I'm referring to. Our outgoing Customs and Excise director general, Tan Sri Abdul Halil Abd Mutalib was accused of blowing 5 million ringgit on his farewell party. Not bad eh for a guy who is basically a government servant. Of course, he didn't take that too well and proceeded to accuse everyone left, right and center of trying to smear his name and bla bla bla.

He also threatened to finger out the names of senior people in his department who have misappropriated funds if he were to be convicted. Basically, what he said can be summarized like this, "If I am going down, I'm not going down alone". Sort of like a 'You Jump, I Jump" but in reverse ("I fall, you fall" anyone?)

How respectable....yeesh.

Of course, the case is still pending with no verdict having been passed out. But seeing how 'upright' and 'honest' some of our customs people can be (especially the big wigs), I'm inclined to believe the accusations. For such cases, its definitely 'guilty until proven innocent'.

What I Would Do With 5 Million

Now, I'm trying to picture what I will do if I were given 5 million ringgit and asked to throw a party for myself. Hmmm, let me see. The party must definitely have:
  • A world famous band performing. Bands such as The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Maroon 5, Alleycats etc
  • Lots and lots of booze! Premium drinks such as Jolly Shandy and Kickapoo will be flowing through out the night!
  • A plethora of rich and famous people. To include luminaries such as Bill Gates, George Bush and Samy Vellu.
  • Eva Longoria, Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Anniston clad in bunny-suits, dancing around me while singing Happy Birthday.
  • A guest appearance by Rafidah Aziz. Who knows, she might give me a zillion APs as a birthday present!

Ahhh, the stuff fantasies are made of.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Stomp-ing Time

Attack of the Blurry Camera Phone

A thousand bucks to the first person who can tell me what's in the picture above. Serious. Can't do it? I thought so...hahah. Anyway, don't blame me for the crappy looking photo. It's the best I could do in such dim conditions and with a crappy camera phone (For all the P900's bells and whistles, its camera sure sucks big time!). Btw, the organisers prohibited the use of any cameras whatsoever in the hall, so yeah, the above picture is living proof that I'm a law breaking criminal at heart. Woo hoo!

Just in case you're wondering, what I was futilely trying to capture on camera was the stage at the Istana Budaya in KL, moments before the crew from Stomp were set to come on. Ah yes, I attended their performance last Saturday night and it was rocking!

Stomp Out Loud

The performance was held at the Istana Budaya in KL. Although the place was a merely stone's throw from my office (if you could possibly throw a stone 10km), I had no idea where it was prior to this. To the uninformed, the Istana Budaya is located opposite General Hospital. See? You do learn something new everyday.

From the moment the Stomp crew alighted the stage, the entire audience was captivated. It was truly amazing seeing what they could do with mundane household items. I've seen their performance on DVD before, but watching it live is a totally different experience altogether. Their first set consisted of brooms and sweeping motions. Lots of it.

Amidst the 'swish-swish' sounds of the brooms, and the 'ker-thunk' of its handles being slapped on the floor, you could make out several silhouttes of bobbing heads in the audience. Catchy, the beats definitely were.

What followed were several more sets whereby the crew made use of everything from newspapers, to rubber tubes to create a cacophony of beats and rhythms. My personal favourite was the one where they played with their balls. Their basketballs, to be exact. Excellent!

As the show ended, I walked out thinking how cool it would be if we Malaysians could come up with something as creative, if not more, than Stomp. I am sure we have the necessary talent here, but maybe the avenues to nurture such talent remains limited in our country. Ah well, give it some time. I am sure we'll get there.

In the mean time, I'll just practice slapping myself on my belly to see what sort of beats I can produce. Oooh yeah, as mentioned in my friend's post, hours of wholesome fun!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Drag Racing, Business Ideas and Birds with Diarrhea

My Weekend, In Retrospect

I have to say that I am truly, and utterly knackered. My body is protesting over the miniscule amount of sleep it had over the past weekend, and my throat is as sore as a breast-fed nipple. I contemplated calling in sick this morning (and every other Monday morning for that matter...hahah) but I thought, hey, if I am well enough to stand up without toppling over like some lalang in the middle of Katrina, then I am well enough to go to work.

Darn it! (maybe I'll topple over if I consume enough alcohol at 6am in the morning..hmmm)

My weekend passed in a blur. All I really remember was celebrating the end of another working week last Friday evening, followed by the beeping of my alarm clock as it rang on Monday morning. Whatever happened in between really flew by. Flew like the wind. Gone like the wind ....sighhh.

Gentlemen, Start your engines!

Saturday was spent preparing for the Sepang Drag Battle. No, I wasnt preparing a kick-arse tube-framed, wheelie-bar'ed, 1000 horsepower'ed monster for the drag race (I wish)...rather, I was helping my girlfriend set up her booth for the Sepang Drag Battle. Yup, we managed to secure ourselves a pitlane in the circuit (due to the generosity of to display my girlfriend's range of HIDs and lighting accessories.

There were loads of stuff to be carried to and from the car. Guess who got the 'privilege' of being the manual laborer? Congrats, you guessed right! Boy, am I thankful that I was born with rippling muslces for arms and rock hard abs for a stomache or else I would never have managed to cart all those stuff around. Ermm....alright, I seem to have gotten myself confused with Brad Pitt or something. I promise it will never happen again! Blame it on the lack of sleep.

In the end, we had our booth all set up, everyone had loads of fun, and most importantly the brandname of AURA got a lot of exposure.

The drag racing itself was strictly mundane. Heck, the fastest car which was competing that night 'only' managed to run a 11+ quarter mile. Whatever happened to the killer 9 second cars which competed in the last event? True, there were quite a few of cool cars brought down by Amprex. A supra running a 10.5 and a Skyline 32 running in the 9's....sweet. There was even a white Skyline R33 brought by Duke-R which ran a gob smacking 8.9 (For the uninformed, that's comparable with the speed of an F1 car)! Mad shite! Every time the car approached the starting line, the crowd would go wild. The cacophony of cheers were followed by the popping, crackling and whine of a souped up RB26 as it hurtled down the 1024. Ahhh, pure motoring bliss.

However, these cars were there merely for exhibition purposes. They didn't compete. Hence, the night was won by a Daihatsu Charade from Johor sporting a 4G63 engine and 4WD. Crazy, but not crazy enough to warrant paying 30 bucks to watch. Plus, there were no commentators. What the??! Don't they know that commentators are very important? How is the crowd supposed to know what is going on? Our local drag racing events sure have a long way to go before I see myself attending them regularly.

I need a kick in the #!$%#

Not literally of course. Whoever tried kicking me in the #!$%# will...ermm...ummm....get told on! That's right, I'll tell your parents! Scared now eh...bwahahah.

Anyway, back to the topic. The reason why I haven't been posting in this blog for a week now is because I've been really busy the past week preparing for my Nescafe Kick-Start audition. Yup, they actually short listed me based on my video-sharing business idea. Praise The Lord!

So yes, I got my powerpoint slides done, I prepared several colored hand-outs, did my market research and even printed out a large poster (with an easel) to help spice up my presentation. I am RM200 ringgit poorer as a result, but oh well, it was worth it.

I rehearsed my presentation so many times till I could literally recite it in my sleep. Even then, I could feel the butterflies in my stomache as I waited for my turn to present. Feeling a bit nervous, I said a silent prayer to God. My God can do great things ya know :)

When my number was called, they mic'ed me up, gave me a few pointers on where to stand and in I went. There were 4 judges and they looked really familiar. I guess they were some of our local celebs or business people. Anyhow, I shook their hands, gave them the hand-outs and began my presentation. It was quite an experience I tell you, standing under the glaring lights, with the TV camera trained on you, and the judges observing and judging your every movement and word. Now I know what an American Idol contestant must feel like.

I brought along a projector coz I wanted to project the presentation from my laptop. But I was told just before I went in that I can't use any projectors on stage...arghh. In the end, I had to face my laptop towards them so that they could see some of my slides. Thank goodness I didn't buy a laptop with a smaller screen...heheheh. (readers of my previous posts will know what I'm talking about)

Anyway, the business idea I presented on is the idea which I have been working on for the past few months. My video-sharing idea, which I have lovingly called 'Mooviq'. The judges seemed sceptical at first, but as the presentation went on, I could feel that they understood what I was getting at and they realised the potential of my idea. Thank God! A few questions were asked, but nothing which I wasn't prepared to answer. More thanks to God!

In the end, I walked out of the audition room knowing that I gave it my best. The presentation went really well actually. Now all I have to do is trust that God will see me through, if it be in accordance to His will.

Dinner at Bangsar

After the presentation, I went straight for a dinner gathering at Bangsar Seafood Centre. We had several short 'games', ate good food and bonded with one another. However, all I could think about throughout dinner was how good my bed would feel like...mmmmmm. As I walked to my car after dinner, it turned out that a whole menagerie of birds had decided to take a crap all over it. Argghh!!! A word of advice, NEVER park along the road opposite Bangsar One after dark.

So yes, I had to go home and wash all that crap off my car before I could go to sleep. Standing in the dark with a water hose in one hand, and a rag cloth in the other at 11pm is no fun I tell ya.

In the end, it turned out alright. I managed to get the crap off and headed of to bed. So here I am, on a monday morning, having had less than 9 hours of sleep throughout my whole weekend, and with a car covered in residual water spots (I didn't dry it after washing it you see).

Tired? Yes. Sore Throat? Ditto. Would I do it all over again? Definitely!...minus the bird crap part of course.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Blog Hiatus

Farewell, for now

Due to my hectic schedule this week, I wont be able to update this blog anytime soon. Hopefully, things will get back to normal by the end of September. Hopefully, I will have lots of interesting things to blog about by then :)