Tuesday, September 30, 2008

World Changing Albums That Didn't Get Cut (Another Fantasy Bites The Dust)

The only album cover I ever designed in my short life.
Album would have been awesome if we did the demo properly.

(Weeps quietly in a corner somewhere)

I'm sure there's still opportunity for groupie following, rock superstardom for over 30's.

(Weeps harder in a more quiet corner somewhere else).

(Cue Queen's bass line from Another One Bites the Dust)

Monday, September 29, 2008

How seriously should I consider something?

Sometimes I think I possess little sense of perspective in my consideration about things. I seem to take seriously things others don't and vice versa. Or finding humour in places where others don't. And of course humour vanishes once explained. Which is why I hate explaining jokes. If you didn't get it, that's it. Sorry. Too bad. Jokes are not like freaking leftovers that you can reheat in retelling. They're like orgasms. You either get them, or you don't. You never say I think I had an orgasm. Because if you do, I got news for you. That wasn't it.

So. Back to the mains. How seriously should I consider something. For example, how much of my thoughtful effort should I apply to a rock as opposed to say a poem or a piece of music or a pen or a planet, for example. Why should I not spend 30 minutes in thoughtful consideration of a garden rock as opposed to a dead bug. I could easily spend more than 30 minutes contemplating about either one for example, where the rock is concerned: what is its' colour, its shape, its weight, its volume, its height, its distinguishing features, where it is placed, where such rock came from, how it was formed, which 'family' of rock does it belong to, how it is extracted, going even lower, its atomic composition, how I could use it in a story, etc. You get the trajectory (if not, please re-read)? An ancillary question would be how deeply should one think about things too. Should we consider some common rock in great depth? 

Interest, needs and inevitability would dictate relevance. A natural sense of curiousity and inclinations would have some influence in expanding that area of relevance. 

But even then how deeply enough do we know of what is required of and of interest to us?

We can only exist within a plane of middleness.  

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How I Came to Type Fast

This is not a boast. Most people are rather impressed with the speed at which I type. Not that I'm that fast lah, but I think I can bang it out at a decent rate in English that is. My speed slows considerably when I'm writing in Malay (or Bahasa Malaysia, to be more precise) or in truth, in any other language. They also tend to be impressed with the fact that I do not have to stare at the keyboard to look at the keys. I realized that typing fast and accurately is a very important skill in the computer age. It may not be so important in the next generation when they have perfected the capturing and transcribing of actual dialogue. And I am often asked how I came upon such a skill. Did I take typing classes? Was there some software that could help train them to type fast? Did I study from a book? Yes, those are all the ways in which you could learn typing but no I didn't learn it that way. I had a more circuitous but fun route. Two words.

Computer games. 

Or more precisely, early PC adventure computer games. Lots of it. When I was young, I used to go over to my cousins' house which was five doors down from mine every day to play their computer games. Their parents in their wisdom bought the Apple II which had a lot of excellent games going for it at the time. Games like karateka, loderunner, Saigon, Wyndam Hill, and many others were the rage at the time. I played all of them and finsihed most of them. So my poor other cousins usually just watched me I had no computer at home. For some reason my parents had more important things to do other than to look into this deficiency of mine. 

So whilst I played many games on the Apple, it did not develop my typing because most of the controls only required either a joystick (haven't heard that one in a while; and get that grin of your face you goddamned pervert) or a few of the keys on the keyboard to move about. The groundbreaking moment came as a result of my parents foresight and ignorance. They had the foresight to realize that I should be computer literate but ignorant about computers. I should also be thankful that I had no choice in the computer because I would have certainly bought the Apple II as well. As it turned out they bought me a PC. One of the very first around - an 8088 chipset. I don't know what exact microprocessor that was (the 80188 or 80186) but it was definitely one of those because I remembered upgrading to the 286 several years later and it being somewhat a momentous occasion!

Back to the PC. I still remember we went to this shop near my old house in Damansara Utama one afternoon when my parents talked to some guy about computers and pointed at me. I remember being deliriously happy about it even though I would later discover that it was not the computer I wanted. I did overhear that the cost of the computer was around four grand. This was sometime in the early 80's, so now that I look back on it, my parents must have suffered for me to have that computer because they were not earning much at the time. How puny those specifications would be for the current computers. I think even my current PDA/Phone has more processing power than my first computer. 

Anyway, the PC came about a week or two later. I jumped on to the computer the moment it arrived and grew quite disappointed when I realized I was not able to intuitively take to it and that it had far less games than the Apple II. I was so disappointed that I ignored the PC for a while and continued to go over to my cousin's house to play on their computer. I found a few games here and there like Digger (a variant of Pac Man) and Pong (which was ping pong) which were uninteresting and little better than those games on console boxes at the time like Atari, Commodore 64, and what nots. This went on until I discovered a computer game for the PC at the Pineapple shop in Jaya at Petaling Jaya. That shop for a long time became my PC game mecca until I graduated to the Pentium and the game I found there was to be the first of many for myself and for the series - King Quest: Quest for the Crown by Sierra Games. 

It was one of those rare adventure games that came out on the market which had an great storyline and challenging puzzles. I fell in love instantly. I played the game for weeks until I managed to solve and complete it. Finishing the game of myself gave me a huge sense of accomplishment because I solved all the puzzles myself. The King Quest was one of the several lines of adventure games that were produced by Sierra at the time whom I felt were the masters of their craft. I enjoyed and completed almost all their early adventure games in the other series as well such as the notable Space Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry for the same reasons - excellent storylines and challenging (not impossible) puzzles. I suppose that is why even these days, my first choice of game is the adventure one and not the FPS (First Persons Shooters) which I have almost no interest in, except where it concerns the graphics because this is where most of the cutting edge technology goes to. 

So how did those games help me out? Although one still used some keys to direct the character in the game, the difference now was that you had to type in the commands for the character. Like 'Get Book', 'Give Book to Sarah' or even longer sentences. I still remember the breakthrough very vividly because it was at a very crucial and difficult part in the very first Police Quest. The quest I was tasked with was to question a particular suspect who was also a biker. What I had to do get his attention was to push down a row of bikes in front of a bar. This was get him out of the bar after which I had to subdue him when he attacked me with my tonfa which my character carried. The difficulty was that the moment my character pushed down the bikes, I had a very short span of time to type 'Use night stick on biker' and the game didn't let me pre-type the words. On top of that it would lock me out the moment I pushed the bikes for a very short while and I could only type what I had to do after that short while was over and there was no indication to show when I could commence typing. So alot of it was hit and miss. I did it so many, many, many times until I could get the timing and accuracy perfect because anything short of it would see my character being beaten to death. 

When I finally surmounted that particular problem, I realized that I now had a skill. Sure it was mostly to type that stupid line but it sparked the idea that I could type faster than I did, and all I needed was practise. And practise I did with the slew of not only visual adventure games but also text ones like Planetfall and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy for example. I think it's a bit of a shame that we don't have any more text based games anymore and it's all just graphics and mouses these days, because I felt those games had more substance on average than games with graphics. 

Computer games were not the whole story but it certainly was my breakthrough. I refined my skills to a higher level in University when I would raid libraries with my friend, CS Lim and also transcribe lectures and tutorials from recordings I had my friends take. I spent many hours listening to poor recordings and transcribing faithfully every word spoken by the lecturer or tutor because I had a terrible time waking up for lectures in the morning (anything before 12pm was early). But were it not for those countless adventure games I played, I doubt if I should ever have acquired such a valuable and necessary skill in this day and age.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Foot Soldier (Reloaded)

When Qatar was young he wanted to be a soldier in King Urias' royal army. Those regal soldiers with their erect and firm bearing marching in their glistening shining armour and long swords in their intricately designed though much scarred scabbards he saw when he was four years old left a deep and smouldering passion for the military. Qatar, however, did not want to be just any ordinary foot soldier. And no, he did not want to be a specialist soldier either.
He felt his destiny when he was five. He knew that he wanted to be one of those robed and hooded men that had a soft, blue or green, gentle throbbing glow - a spellcaster. To Qatar, they did not just walk, they glided on a . Though they appeared frail or harmless, they wielded great power through their spellcasting and conjuring abilities. Often they made up the bulk of the King's personal platoon of elite combat troops.
But the army recruits spellcasters young, at the age of twelve. Natural spellcasters usually stumble upon their abilities earlier, as early as seven. If the army decides you are worthy and if you wish to pursue a career then you immediately join them. The most important requirement that the potential spellcaster should possess is magick intuition.
From that day he decided he would study spellcasters and learn as much as he could about magick. And so he did until his twelfth birthday when he presented himself at the Royal Academy of Magick Studies only to be turned away. He did not possess sufficient magick intuition. He was a good guesser and successful more often than not, but real spellcasters did not guess. Their intuition guided them through the intricacies of casting a spell with unerring accuracy. This was a necessary ingredient to powerful and higher plane spells. Those without intution would often lose their way amidst their casting. In more complicated spells, the consequences of failure was death or ending up a slave of demons. Qatar could cast a few spells because the less powerful the spell, the less precision was required.
Though he was bitterly disappointed, this did not put him off the army. When he was eighteen, Qatar enlisted in the army as a foot soldier. He had just completed his twelve month training when he heard that war had broken out between King Urias and some warrior king from a distant land. Apparently King Urias refused to have his little flat plained kingdom surrender to the unknown warrior. The battle was to take place at the southern plains of Whoonfey where he and other neighbouring kingdoms supplied their respective armies to fight off or defeat Tanoth there before he invaded their own kingdoms. The unit Qatar was in was one of the first sent out into the battlefield despite their lack of experience.
In the early morning on the day of battle before the sun had peeked over the horizon, Qatar was dressed in his full armour standing in line waiting for his turn to be blessed with physical ability enhancements and protective magical spells by the spellcasters in the highly raised platform before them. A crowd of murmurring spellcasters shimmered in their electric glow stood in a semi-circle, each within their own glowing glassy cocoon as different coloured bolts of lightning leaped from their hands and glow and into the soldiers below and cause the crowd to glow.
At the break of dawn, Qatar's unit marched on to the top of a gentle sloping ridge. On their march there they met many armies that joined them. It was a bright and early morning when the twelve regiment strong of the kingdoms' armies met Tanoth and his eight regiments at the Fields of Narah.
Qatar was at the head of his regiment so he had a view of the front. He could feel the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He knew the horn would go soon because Tanoth's troops had already begun their charge up the gentle slope.
Then he heard it.
Right after that he heard the loud whisper of arrows whipped into the air. He saw some soldiers fall in the distance. Then suddenly he saw this fast moving abnormally large shape rushing through the army. Another whisper of arrows. More men fell, but the shape grew larger and larger in its relentless approach, ignoring the arrows as he easily deflected them.
Qatar heard the order to charge.
This was it. This was what he wanted was it not? His hands trembled as his legs did. Everybody around him shouted charge so he did too. But his skin began to crawl. His hair was on edge. This was death, he thought to himself. He blinked his eyes hard.
Everybody whipped out their swords. Automatically, he did too. Then they charged. The large shape now grew larger and larger as Qatar ran towards it and finally saw that it was a large man - more than eight feel tall on a huge powerful black horse that looked his equal.
He heard somebody cry, oh Lord Mala help us. It's Tanoth.
In his right outstretched arm was a large and long serrated sword. He glowed a deep maroon as he galloped towards them, the ground seemingly trembling at its hoof falls.
Tanoth quickly drew close to Qatar's unit. He raised his sword to strike.
Everybody around him were shouting and screaming. Qatar could not hear them. He was completely focused on Tanoth. This was it. He wanted so much to kill him. He wanted so much to unleash all the hurt, the shame and hatred he suffered as a result of his early disappointment on him. Maybe this time, for once he would be a a hero. For once he would be appreciated. People would look up to him for a change. Maybe then Yuna would think more favourably of him. Allow him to call on her at least. If only.
But the last thing Qatar ever saw were Tanoth's eyes; his pupils - which were a deep, dark, burning red, as was the colour of the white of his eyes.
Eyes which burned with rage and hatred.
And then his world fell into darkness.

(This story is related to the Final Battle.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


You had wanted to speak with me, I gathered. And so we met again. Your pale whitish face almost had no emotion. You were almost a pale shadow of the self that I had known. But beneath those eyes I knew you were almost drowned in melancholy. You looked down when I was looking into your eyes. As if you could not bear the thought of being observed. As if you were afraid that your iris might tell me all of your secrets.

You came nearer to me. And you pulled my shoulder. You rested your head on it. And you began sobbing. I could feel the warmth of your tears slowly flowing down my neck. Your hands pulled my body towards you ever closer. Almost clutching me. Like you would never want to let me go. I put my hand around you. And I ran my fingers through your hair at the back of your head. We were like lovers. Long lost lovers who had suddenly met again. I could feel you. Felt all of your anxieties. Your pains. I thought I could see all your hopes, your wishes, your dreams. I walked through the valleys of your emotions, swam in the rivers of your fears, crawled on the sands of your desires. I knew you. I had known you for hundreds of years. And I realised I had lost you for quite a while.

You were trembling. Your hands gripped my back and I felt a sharp pain on my back. I felt something wet running down my spine. It was my blood!  Suddenly you shook me hard. You pushed me and  I saw your face. Your eyes were filled with thousands of bloodshot veins. Your hair had become unkempt. Flowing down your neck and shoulders. I looked at your hands. Your nails have become long and black.

With a voice that sounded like a growl of thousands of hungry wolves, you screamed, "I am going to take over.....I am going to take you over....."

Friday, September 19, 2008


Last night I saw you, in all your naked glory. You were standing there, in the corner, under the dim lamp. You looked content. Almost peaceful. But you were still. And you were silent.

It was when I was about to touch you that you turned and walked away. You stopped by the window and you turned around towards me. You looked intense. Almost angry. Your eyes looked deeply into mine, piercing through all my thoughts, deciphering them, translating them. Suddenly you had a knife in your hand.

You ran towards me. Pushed me to the floor. Sat on me and slashed me. I was bleeding all over. Numbed from all the pains. You dragged me up by my hair. Sat me down on the chair. With your knife at my throat, you forced me. To write this...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

digging the grave

1.1 Malaysia in transit

Malaysiakini.com yesterday reported that Najib Razak will take over as Minister of Finance from the Prime Minister while the later will assume Najib Razak's portfolio in the Ministry of Defence. The raison d'etre for this portfolio swap appears to be the smoothening of the planned power transition, whereby Najib Razak is to be given an "important portfolio" which is traditionally held by the Prime Minister. Abdullah Ahmad was quoted as saying:

"It is an important portfolio, taking into account the current economic situation, the uncertainties and the challenges that we are facing...for all these we need a plan so that we can stay strong economically"

Abdullah Ahmad also left open the prospect of him stepping down as the UMNO President and Prime Minister before the planned 2010 transition. On this, he was quoted as saying:

"I will decide when I want to go... I will not be staying more than 2010 naturally...It depends on the progress of the role I am giving to Najib. Let's see what he can do...Handing over is a process. We will study the process and as it goes along, we will decide accordingly."

The first thing which came to my mind upon hearing the news was a question. And the question is this. When will our so called leaders would act with the best interest of the country, and not the interest of the party or any other extrinsic interest(s) in mind? Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch are both in financial disarray and the former is now under Chapter 11 administration in the USofA. AIG might follow suit. The whole world is suffering from the ripple caused by the downfall of these financial giants. Bursa Malaysia might go below the psychological barrier of 1000 points soon. The Ringgit is free falling. The economy is not so hot. Foreign funds outflow for 2008 has far outstripped 2007 outflow. And all our so called leaders are concerned about is the swapping of 2 very important portfolios in order to smoothen out the planned power transition of UMNO.

Just like the various policies taken by the Education Ministry to solve whatever problems the schools, school kids and teachers are having, which would later be reversed, turned over and re-implemented, resulting in the poor school kids being overturned in the process, this latest portfolio swapping is but another furniture moving exercise for which this leadership is so well known. It lacks purpose, objective, direction and of course, class!

What is even more worrying is when Abdullah Ahmad was quoted as saying:

"Let's see what he can do..."

Yes. Lets see what Najib Razak can do. If he is good, than Abdullah Ahmad might step down earlier than 2010. Or whatever. Well, what if he is not good? Oh, not to worry, if he is not good, I would re-take over the Ministry of Finance and he would re-take over Ministry of Defence, is it?

Perhaps it is time Abdullah Ahmad, Najib Razak and their ilk (Mahathir Mohamad included) should be reminded that the various Ministries, which collectively form the Government of Malaysia, are not their private properties, or the properties of their party, which are to be distributed, parked or divided among each other willy nilly.

I have a suggestion. Recently BN MPs were sent to Taiwan and Macau to learn about agriculture, just so that they could argue and debate the 2009 budget well. If there is so much concerns about Najib Razak's ability as a leader, why don't he be sent to somewhere to attend leadership courses?

1.2 Wrong prescription

Dr Mahathir insisted that the reason for UMNO's colossal defeat in the 2008 General Election and the recent Permatang Pauh by-election is not because the people are unhappy with UMNO or the state of things but rather it is caused by the people's unhappiness with Abdullah Ahmad and his leadership (or lack of it). Well, I have got news for him. Dr Mahathir, you are wrong!

The truth is the people are fed up with UMNO's policies. It is just unfortunate for Abdullah Ahmad that he is the President of UMNO when this unhappiness swells to an uncontrollable size and intensity. You can put whoever at the top of UMNO and UMNO would still lose the General Election and by-election. It is not the people at the top. But it is the policies which these people represent which the people are unhappy with. And the policies which these people represent are the policies of UMNO. The are policies which involve the politics of fear, discrimination, unfairness, arrogance, corruption and cronyism which fuel a continuous unhappiness of, if not hatred, for UMNO. And the sad thing is nobody within UMNO's current so called leadership will be able to cure the current malady with which UMNO is infested. Why?

Because 22 years of totalitarianism has produced absolute yes men who can't think for themselves; who are incapable of differentiating the good from the bad; who are unable to see a problem when a problem exists, let alone grasp it, analise it and solve it.

When Margaret Thatcher was forced to resign as Prime Minister and not seek a re-election as the head of the Conservative Party in 1990, the party was in a turmoil. The Iron Lady had until then ruled Great Britain, and the Conservative Party, with an iron fist. She would steamroll her way to whatever decision she thought was correct, even to a point of overriding her colleague's decisions, both from within her own cabinet and the party. She left a weak Tory government in tatters. And also a weak Tory Party. After being challenged by Michael Haseltine for the party leadership, she was succeeded by the nice, straight faced but downright boring John Major. He unexpectedly won the general election in 1992. In 1997, finally, the Conservative was defeated by Tony Blair's Labour Party in a landslide defeat.

If history teaches us anything, the above episode shows that once the people have decided that enough is enough and a party must go, it really does not matter who is at the helm of the party. John Major was the nicest politician the UK had ever seen, a man whose father was a music hall artist; who rose among the poor to just obtain 6 o-levels; who professed to have been educated in the "university of life." But during his premiership, the people's unhappiness with the Tories was at its peak, fueled by hatred towards Thatcherism, a form of economics and political policies which were not friendly to the people on the streets. And the Tory went down like a led balloon (to borrow Keith Moon's expression).

Change Magaret Thatcher to Dr Mahathir; John Major to Abdullah Ahmad; Conservative Party to UMNO; Thatcherism to Mahathirism and the UK to Malaysia. And I really don't have to write more.

Allow me to give some advice. The power transition, regardless of whether it happens smoothly and as planned in 2010 or earlier or whether it happens during the coming December party election is not going to change anything as far as the people's perception of UMNO is concerned. UMNO has far exceeded the people's tolerance level and it will sink like a stone regardless of who its leader is. To win the people, UMNO itself must change. Take a look at the mirror, find out what is really wrong and correct it. In short, UMNO's current policies must change.

A change of faces just wouldn't do.

Pure and simple.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

and then there were two...


Richard Wright, Pink Floyd's keyboardist, passed away Monday the 16th as reported here. 

May God bless your soul Rick. May you meet the Crazy Diamond up there. And may both of you Shine On.

*my tribute to the Crazy Diamond is here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Of Contemplating Myself

The deeper I contemplate myself and my condition the easier it is to contemplate humanity.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Final Battle

The fire cackled and burst sending up little fireflies that barely managed to escape the flaming tongues that darted and flicked lasciviously. Five men sat cross legged around and stared at it. They sat on rattan mats made soft and smooth from prolonged wear.
'They said he can take down entire armies,' said the man in velvet blue robes, His face was hidden by the hood. Little slivers of electric occasionally emerged from one part of his body only to leap to an area nearby.
'They said he does not bleed,' said the man with dark brown leather armour. He had a bow on his back. His sword lay sleeping beside him. 'I know a man who saw the whole length of a sword plunged into his chest. He said Tanoth didn't even flinch. After he had killed the man who stabbed him, he pulled out the sword out with his right arm and went on fighting.'
'He is no man,' declared the oldest looking man amongst them. He was dressed in robes of liquid that gave the impression it was shifting about even as he sat unmoved. He turned slowly toward the young unassuming man dressed in almost plain brown clothes and spoke to him. '
'And that is why Greshen. You are our last hope.
Greshen kept on staring intensely into the fire.
'May I not fail all of you,' he finally said wearily.
'Are you sure Greshen is up to this? He is but a boy who has not seen battle,' asked the man dressed in light chain mail. "And Tanoth is a Lord of War. He has been in the thick of many great battles, if not single handedly brought them to an end himself.'
'What choice do we have Marlock? You have seen from afar how Tanoth has levelled whole armies in a day. If we save Greshen, are you his equal?'
Marlock turned his eyes away from the fire to the night, as if to cool them. The cackling seemed louder all of a sudden. A gentle breeze danced with the fire, swaying it this way and that.
'But neither is Greshen,' he said resigned.
'But the prophecies...' began the blue robed man before he was cut off.
'Damn the prophecies!' Marlock suddenly swore. 'Almost none of them came true. You see how we lost in Minath and Kilonth? You see how painfully and miserably we lost those cities? Nobody could imagine those cities falling to Tanoth. The only prophecy that came true was that of Tanoth.'
'Tanoth was the first of the prophecies,' retorted the old man.
'So it will be the only true one?'
'No, but perhaps Greshen's prophecy is the last and it too will be true.'
'Perhaps. Perhaps. I've had enough of your perhaps, Ti. I have...' raged Marlock before he was interrupted.
'Enough!' shouted the man with the leather armour. 'It is enough that Greshen has to face him tomorrow with our aid. Do we now need to ruin his spirit and ours the night before, Marlock? You think we do not think as you do Marlock? You do not think we have been so disappointed and let down by the failure of the prophecies? But what choice do we have? What other means do we have? Our armies are exhausted. There is no magic or weapon that we possess to defeat him. So do not blame Ti. He has helped guide Greshen this far. And though this is a great gamble. It is the only chance we have. The prophecies he may cling to may be wrong but his heart just like ours is true to our cause. If this be the only topic of conversation tonight, I suggest we all catch what little sleep we can. We leave at the first break of dawn.'


The morning sun shone upon the battlefield that was littered with endless corpses and bloodied body parts that lay between the light green grass and shrubs. The five men gathered atop a little hill beside the battlefield. Below them three large regiments were marching into the battle field with their flags flapping excitedly in the strong wind that blew.
'Commander Ullok will lead the initial attack. We hope to weaken him somewhat or at best distract him before we commence our own attack. He will give the signal for us to attack.'
Greshen watched the three large regiments grew thinner and smaller until they finally looked like little bumps on the horizon. Moments later he heard a brassy horn being blown which indicated the battle had begun. Soon after, Ti directed the party to commence their descent and journey to the heart of the battle. As they got closer to the battle, Greshen could feel a warm sadness filling the air. The screams of sheer agony filled his ears. His feet splashed into puddles of blood. Then in the distance he saw swaths of men falling down just after a large sword flashed in the sun before descending to the crowd of screams and limbs.
Suddenly Greshen could hear his heart beating in his ear. His legs grew weaker and weaker the closer he got. The thin short dagger at his side grew cumbersome and almost loathsome. He tripped over a cleanly severed arm and stained his brown clothes with blood.
He felt a soft touch on his right shoulder.
'Are you ready Greshen?' asked Ti gently.
'I don't know if I'll ever be,' replied Greshen.
'You will truly ever know when it is over.'
'Perhaps it is best that way.'
Then a low mournful horn blew.
'It is time,' said Ti.
The mob of soldiers in front of them slowly parted until Greshen could have a clear uninterrupted line of sight to Tanoth. His other four companions stood beside him on both sides, their weapons drawn and with their murmurs afoot to cast the defensive and offensive magick. Tanoth was tall and large even at a distance. When he disposed of the soliders before him, he saw Greshen and they locked eyes. Tanoth was a massive eight and half feet tall clad in what looked like enchanted leather armour. His black and damp shoulder length hair clung to his deep red face. He had red eye pupils that trembled with rage and hatred.
He lifted his massive serrated sword and pointed it at Greshen, his arm perfectly straight, without effort.
Greshen could now feel his heart beating wildly as his chest swelled. He felt a small bead of perspiration slide down the right side of his face. His eyes suddenly stung and he wanted to cry. He was paralyzed with fear.
It was then that Greshen very carefully drew his dagger.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Other Thoughts On Love

Those who believe that love at its first flush is representative of love for all time are in for disappointment, said the heavily wrinkled face beneath a cap of brilliant white hair.

Deep disappointment, he added as if his earlier words did not sufficiently impress its depth and ended with a sigh. He looks down at the various shades of pigeons; some stalked about purposefully on the ground, some of them look at him expectantly. He flicks some seeds on to the ground and the volume of cooing immediately swells and there is a rush of feather.

Love in her seduction of us, lures us with her best colours at first. Then teaches us her harder more painful lessons. We learn of her harshness, her single mindedness, her conquest, her encumbrances, her obstacles. Because Love is not easy, he said. You have to work for her. You must be able to offer her reasons when she requires them. There is no respite in your duty to her. There is nothing you can offer in substitute. Blood and tears are the only currency with Love.

The cool twilight wind that blew through the park ruffled his hair with a lover’s careless caress.
Blood and tears, you understand, he says.

And Love’s fickleness and betrayal. I am familiar with those equally influential advisers of hers. She may take you down so deep and mazy a corridor and then leave you there. Alone. And without her grace. She can be cruel like that, he said. But she does that to help us to live without her as we do with her.

The hint of sun was quickly fading. The night drawing back the day, stripping the night of all its deepening and now more vivid colours.

But I never hated her, he thought to himself.

The pigeons have gone. The breeze has stopped.

Never, he said breaking the stillness of the night.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sleep Over

Mat was at Ayob’s place tonight.
Mat scored the PS2. Ayob scored the weed.
Mat earlier bought a few sports games to play from their usual pirated software store nearby. Ayob was looking forward to play the games stoned and high as much as Mat.
Ayob hoped Lok scored the better stuff this time.
They played, laughed their asses off and smoked up all night.
Deep into the night.
The weed was moist, potent and calming.
When Ayob opened his eyes, he saw Mat’s arm lying on his bare chest.
Mat too was shirtless.
They were on his bed.
Ayob lay where he was and waited.

Friday, September 12, 2008


They are face to face. He cannot read her face. It's inscrutable.
She is beautiful. He has not seen any one so hypnotic as her. Even when she's upset.
But this time he did not notice her beauty. All he wanted was to know.
After a long silence, she gives her head a short quick shake.
Despite his calm exterior his heart was beating wildly. He forced himself to control his breathing so as not to surrender to his lack of control.
It's going to be okay baby, he said and reached his outstretched right arm to her across the cheap plastic red table, as if in offering.
No, it's not okay, she said a matter of factly.
Come on baby. Hold my hand please, he cooed to her.
Please baby.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

nailing the coffin...

1.0 Lies

When you are lied to the first time, you tend to get upset because you  have been lied to. When you are lied to by the same party many times, you would not only get even more upset and angry but you would also develop a sense of distrust of the lying party. However, what is even more upsetting than continuous lies would be lies which are so stupid and so unbelievably astounding that it is a gross insult for the perpetrator to actually think that his or her lie will be believed by us.

The audacity with which the current government is lying to the people would make the ruse involving a certain wooden horse pregnant with soldiers in its belly seems meek, if not downright tame and uninventive. "Bersih rally by 4000 people", screamed the government gazettes last year. It was of course a blatant lie. When the whole world could see the truth from photographs splashed all over the internet, one began not to get upset only by the fact that they have been lied to but also from the audacity of it all. It prompted me to write and send this letter. It of course did not get to see the light of day.

"I don't have anything to do with Jean", said the PM. He of course married her not too long after that. "I am not going to dissolve the Parliament", again, said the PM. The very next day, when the ink on the newspaper quoting him saying so was barely dry, he dissolved the Parliament. Malaysia holds many world records, among which, the longest ikan bakar grill in the Milky Way. Add to that is the fastest time in which a major newspaper headline is proven untrue or incorrect.

The latest is of course the lie about the trip to Taiwan and Macau being a trip arranged for the Barisan Nasional's MPs to learn about agriculture in order to enable them to better argue and debate the budget in Parliament! Why don't they just say that the trip was arranged to enable the BN MPs to visit a UFO site where aliens with solution for our racial integration problems; budget deficit; inter-faith issues; incompetent Judges; corrupt politicians and civil service and men with small dick had landed? It would easier for all of us to swallow.

1.1 Maths and Science - to English or not to English

No less than Khairy Jamaluddin has critisised the "half-baked" (to borrow his own words) policy of improving the standard of English among Malaysian students by teaching Maths and Science subjects in English. I don't really know what motivates him for doing so but the odd thing is he now seems to be critisising his superior in UMNO Youth. As we all know, that policy was mooted and implemented by the current Education Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein who is of course the Youth movement's chief. So, is this a sign of a sudden surge of intellectualism within UMNO Youth or is it some kind of a political posturing or both, one wonders?

Be that as it may, I have been saying all these while that that policy is not half baked but it is actually baked in an electric oven without the mains switch being switched on. Just imagine a 14 year old students in Form 2. For 8 years of his life he has been learning Maths and Science in Bahasa Malaysia. "Add" means "campur" to him. So does "fraction" mean "pecahan". His English is not good. Suddenly they teach those subject in English. How does that help him to improve his English? And we have not even begun to talk about the teachers. These teachers were all from Bahasa Malaysia school. They themselves were taught Maths and Science in Bahasa Malaysia. They were trained in Bahasa Malaysia. And one day, they woke up, brushed their teeth, took a bath, went to school and they had to teach these subjects in English. You don't have to graduate from Oxford to know that that policy will not work! In fact, it is a burden on the students and teachers alike.

The problem with this government is  its inability to grasp a problem, analise it and come up with a holistic solution for it. It is so used to sweeping things under the carpet so much so that when it is confronted with problems, it's knee jerk reaction would be to come up with stop gap measures. In other words, it knows next to nuts about governing!

Dear Ministers, please read this. I am no expert in education but I think I am blessed with a slightly clearer head than all of you put together. The low standard of English among our students is a product of a wrong education policy which started in early 1970s. That was the era when the then  government suddenly thought that efforts must be made to "mendaulatkan Bahasa Melayu/Kebangsaan/Malaysia/Baku/Kebangsaan and back to Melayu" again. Lets not go into the rationale for that policy. Lets just accept the fact that the result of that policy is that most students - and even graduates - nowadays can't even construct a decent sentence in English. Students did not just wake up one morning and found out that they could not speak English. It was a rapid evolution, if ever there was one. (Well, it could be a slow revolution, if you want to be argumentative).

A holistic approach towards  solving this problem would be to start all over again. There is no fast cure -nip-in-the-bud kind of solution. So, what needed to be done was to start training teachers to teach whatever subject in English. Lets say we start doing so next year. It takes 3 years to train the  teachers. So, 3 years from then, we would have to start teaching whatever subjects in English and make English more prominent in the curriculum from the standard 1 intake of that year, namely, 2012. Than we continue doing so until the whole system is filled with such curriculum. That is how we should do it.

Mr Prime Minister, you asked the people to work with you. Here I am. I had just done so. When will I be invited for tea?

1.2 The Unholy Trinity

Of all the news this week, this takes the cake. Muhyidin Yasin, a vice-President of UMNO, has managed to persuade Dr Mahathir to rejoin UMNO. Just how much persuasion did Dr Mahathir, the has-been of UMNO, who had left UMNO 3 months ago in disgust over the ineptitude of the Prime Minister cum current chief-in-command of UMNO and who vowed to never return to UMNO as long as the Prime Minister remains as such, need? Did Muhyiddin have to cry like Rafidah Aziz when Dr Mahathir announced that he had wanted to resign on stage before? Or was Dr Mahathir tied up, beaten like Anwar Ibrahim while he was in detention in 1997 and forced to submission? Or was it all it takes was a simple pact involving Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah challenging Abdullah Ahmad for the UMNO presidency and Muhyiddin challenging Najib Razak for the number 2 spot this December? That's all? Or is there more? Something like Dr Mahathir becoming some sort of a Minister Mentor  or puppet master or whatever?

Dr Mahathir Mohamad. I just love that name. I love that name in the same vein I do the name Mawi. Or George Bush. Oh, Mugabe too. This is the guy who wrote a really rude letter to Tengku Abdul Rahman in 1969 after the 13th May riot. He was then sacked from UMNO. Then he rejoined. IN 1987, he was challenged for the UMNO Presidency by non other than Tengku Razaleigh. He won by a mere 46 votes (if memory serves me right). 12 UMNO members (later reduced to 11 as one withdrew) brought a court action challenging the validity of the voting process as there were representatives from unapproved divisions attending and voting. The younger generation now do not actually know what happened in Court in that UMNO 11 action. Let me tell you what actually happened. You can make up your own mind whether Dr Mahathir loves UMNO, as he says he does, or whether he is just in love with himself. What I am about to tell here are facts, nothing but facts.

The UMNO 11 action was never aimed at obtaining a Court order to declare UMNO illegal. Remember that. The UMNO 11 were just asking the Court to declare the voting process invalid because of the above reason. That was all. The order to declare UMNO illegal was never asked for by the UMNO 11. The UMNO 11 were represented by Raja Aziz Addruse, if I am not mistaken. Dr Mahathir's camp was represented, among others, by Gopal Sri Ram, who was then a practising lawyer. Now he is a Court of Appeal Judge. During the hearing, it was agreed by both sides that there were in fact representatives from unapproved divisions attending the assembly and voting. Under the law, societies, such as UMNO, must be registered. Not only that, the societies' branches or divisions must also be approved by the Registrar of Societies before they could be established. And UMNO at that time had several divisions which were unapproved.

If unapproved branches or divisions existed, the Societies Act provide that not only the unapproved branches or divisions shall be illegal, the society itself shall be illegal. This ridiculous law was enacted by the BN government than to catch PAS, which was known to have many unapproved branches. So, during the hearing, suddenly, and out of the blue, Gopal Sri Ram submitted that UMNO was illegal! It was not Raja Aziz Addruse or the UMNO 11 who said so but it was the lawyer acting for Dr Mahathir's camp who said so! That lawyer must have instruction to say so or otherwise he couldn't have said so.

Raja Aziz was caught by surprise with that submission. I vividly remember he was reportedly saying in the newspaper that that was a "kamikaze defence"! He then reminded the Court that he wasn't asking for UMNO to be declared illegal. But the Court declared UMNO illegal instead. Dr Mahathir, in all his speeches and writings have always blamed the UMNO 11 for causing it to be declared illegal. But it was Counsel acting for his side who submitted that point to the Judge. And it was through his sheer negligence that unapproved UMNO branches/divisions existed and were permitted to send delegates to the assembly to vote.

Who destroyed UMNO? You tell me.

All Dr Mahathir cared about is himself and  his position as the Supreme chief of UMNO, Barisan Nasional and Malaysia. After UMNO was declared illegal, Tengku Abdul Rahman, Rais Yatim (if I am not mistaken) etc out of their love for the party formed a new party called UMNO Malaysia. Of course, the registration of this new party was strangely blocked by the Registrar of Society. The registry comes under the Home Ministry and it does not take any imagination to guess who the Home Minister was at that time. After that, Dr Mahathir formed UMNO Baru and he managed to register it. Strange. The earlier one was rejected and unapproved but the later one was accepted. Funny? Well, you make up your own mind.

Then Dr Mahathir passed a new law which says a new party with a certain percentage of members from an old party can retain the old party's name. Hahah...and so UMNO Baru was back to UMNO. Meanwhile, the rejection of UMNO Malaysia became a Court case. And Dr Mahathir fought that case as if his life depended on it. If he loved UMNO so much, why didn't he work together with Tengku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Malaysia to re-establish the real UMNO? You tell me.

Then he changed UMNO's constitution to make it real difficult for anybody to run for the office of President or Vice-President against the incumbent. This, according to him, was to make sure that only serious contenders would run for such office. Like, wow!

The rest, as they say, is history. Before he retired, he handpicked Abdullah Badawi, in the true tradition of UMNO, the passing-the-baton adat. He thought Abdullah Ahmad would be submissive to him and his ilk. He thought Abdullah Ahmad was a meek lackey who would yield to his whims and fancies. Little did he know what was to come.  Now UMNO has lost all credibility and is destined for  extinction. Who caused it? You tell me.

He now admitted that it was a mistake for him to pass the baton to Abdullah Ahmad. He asked people to oust him from UMNO. When that did not yield result, he left UMNO hoping many others would revolt and follow him. As it turned out, only one of his son and his wife, and Sanusi Junid followed him. Even baby Mukhriz did not do so! He failed. He then complained that the provision in UMNO constitution, which he inserted, makes it difficult for Abdullah Ahmad to be challenged. Irony personified!

Now, he has ganged up with Muhyiddin Yasin and his old nemesis, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to challenge Abdullah Ahmad.The guile of this man. Would make Nicollo Machiavelli proud, this one.

UMNO Baru/UMNO Lama/UMNO Asal whatever is a sinking ship because of Dr Mahathir. All this void in the party's leadership is caused by him. He never appreciate dissent. Any voice of rationale or dissent would be  perceived as opposition and would quickly be killed off. UMNO "leadership" has always been, under Dr Mahathir, about listening to  and following him and doing what he wants. That creates a big hole in its leadership. When Dr Mahathir left, UMNO was like a headless chicken. That is why UMNO is where it is now. It is not because of Abdullah Ahmad.

But the  again, Dr Mahathir will never ever accept this fact. 

1.3 Transfer of cases

Under the law the Attorney General has the power to transfer any criminal case from the lower Courts to the High Courts. I think the validity of this law has been argued and determined. It is apparently a valid law. This power is exercised at the sole discretion of the AG. He doesn't even need to give reasons for it. All he needs to do was to sign a certificate of transfer and that's it.

Now he wants Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy case to be transferred to the High Court. Apparently because of who Anwar is (whatever that means!) and because of public interest. Well let me tell you something Honourable AG. Nobody gives two hoots about Anwar's sexuality.

Frankly, this absolute power to transfer is unconstitutional, I think. It gives a lot of room for abuse. It even gives the possibility to the AG to choose a Judge. It should be struck down as unconstitutional because it transgresses the very basis of our legal and judicial  system. An accused person is entitled to a fair trial in a Court not of the AG's choosing but in a Court which has the proper jurisdiction over the offence of which he is being accused.

That's my two cents' worth.

Selamat Berpuasa.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Can intelligence be felt?

This question has occupied me for some time now. I think it occurred a while back when I did or said or wrote something that somebody thought was clever or smart or something like that and complimented me on it. The truth is I forgot how the question came to be asked, but I remember the sensation when it was. It was a sensation of confusion, puzzlement and certainly disbelief. I felt this because I felt the compliment was misplaced in the sense that I did not deserve it. I felt like I wanted to give some super witty retort like 'Heh, really? I know some guys who shit cleverer things!' or 'Thanks, but the truth is I'm like super stupid. Want to colour some books?'

I just could not accept it which is why I suppose I then end up getting into a protracted and occasional vicious bout of me denying, refusing and denying the compliment on my perceived intellect with a barrage of explanations about my limited intelligence to the complimentor who after his patience has worn out has to end up forcing me to accept the compliment. It's like this with all compliments (me looking slim, me supposedly clever, me actually possessing some skill worth announcing to an ant, etc.) I get except those perhaps directed at my hair, which I'd like to think is fully deserved (where it relates to its softness, body and elegant blending of the white with the black) and happily accept.

But coming back to the mains - ever since that schizm of perception , I have been thinking alot about intelligence and whether we can gauge it from a purely subjective stand point without any other comparison. The simple reason why I reject those compliments on my intellect is because I feel stupid most of the time. If I were clever, surely I should be able to feel it, to know it, to be certain of it. Surely, if I had such intelligence, I could feel its weight on my soul, be able to trace the contours of my cleverness, to wield my intelligence like a surgeon would his scapel. And some people seem confident in their intelligence, they walk around with a little swagger, leap into discussions arse first and bounce back on top of everybody. I feel nothing, just the hollowness of my mind, the faint echo of my thoughts that hover like fine mist that disappears at the touch of an outstretched hand. I feel no shape, no weight, no colour. Sometimes I imagine my intellect to be like a multi-faceted diamond suspended in the air and slowly, ever so slowly turning. But I know its not like that. It's not so nuanced. It's like a flat blistering desert where the constant whimsical winds shape and re-shape the endless dunes, never allowing a path to form.

I often wonder, what it must feel like to be like those terribly clever men, like Bertrand Russell, John Kay, Einstein, John Ruskin, John Nash... okay maybe not because he was nuts too, but men like that. No one can deny their intellectual fortitude and magnitude. And they looked it too. Their intelligence resonated in photos of them, there was this personal field of gravitas whenever they spoke or opened their mouth. Hell, I bet they even looked regal when they shat. Our eyes may see the same thing, but what else are they thinking when we look at the same things? How does their mind work? Is it arranged in a particular pattern? Perhaps the gears in their minds are finer, smaller, more precisely made and mine are from make shift bullock cart spare parts. Or its vice versa and they are better able to use their bullock cart spare parts better than I do those small annoying gears.

What's funny though is that you don't need a lot of intelligence to identify stupidity. And I can certainly feel the weight of my stupidity. Perhaps I cannot feel the weight of my intelligence because it is lighter than my stupidity. Or perhaps stupidity is that lightness of intellect that I feel.

Maybe I need a drink.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dara #6

debudebu rindu di dinding sepi kala menyusur malam
dinihari terjaga menjenguk di luar jendela suram kelam
segala rasa di helaian kertas putih menjadi kata di baca
ganti diri mahu disentuh namun semua impian belaka

saat-saat begini
tidak mampu lagi
aku berdiri
di kakimu aku
jatuh tersungkur