Monday, 28 August 2006

Out of My League at MPH

With nothing scheduled in my social calendar, I gatecrashed the E-Book Forum/Hi-Tea with Local Authors event at MPH, 1Utama yesterday. After catching the Gen-Y wave at KLCC last month, I thought I'd hang around people around my age. I mistakenly assumed that the forum was an invitation-only event, so I stayed outside the Booker Room briefly before wandering off. I'm not really for e-books - not where novels and poems are concerned anyway.

I returned later, just as the hi-tea was in full swing. Lillian Too, Queen of Afflictions had come and gone, which was fine by me (I'm not really a fan). I met Yvonne and her friend Cordelia, with whom I had an interesting conversation. I was full at the time, so I didn't eat a bite.

I also met towering personalities like Lydia Teh, Sharon Bakar, Xeus and Lim May Zhee, probably the youngest published chick-lit author in the region. While Vanitee Bee won't be appearing on my bookshelf anytime soon, I hope she and her talents continue to grow. If she writes something other than chick-lit, I might consider a peek.

Sharon and Lydia remembered me through my comment-box moniker, and the suggestions for fixing the sidebar menus on Sharon's blog. Normally anyone's head would swell, but I felt humbled. Gobsmacked. Just like when TV Smith remembered the name of BP Bites...! Version 1.0 on Geocities when I introduced myself to him during the PPS 2nd Anniversary Bash last year.

Other bloggers in attendance (for different reasons) were Boadicea and Kyels. Her Majesty Boadicea thought little of the coffee being served (if it's Nescafé, I don't blame her), giving me some ideas for a future post.

It was great to see new and familiar faces in the event. On top of that, I had a fanboy moment after shaking Reggie Lee's hand. Can or not?

Saturday, 19 August 2006

The PopCon Chicken Caper

Hi, I am BP, and I'm writing about my experience with KFC's Popcorn Chicken Shake nearly two years ago.

"Popcorn Chicken"? This marketing gimmick was simply chicken coated in KFC's special recipe batter and cooked into semblances of popcorn-like balls, served in an authentic popcorn box. Like most KFC specials, it had to be combined with various side dishes before it can be considered a meal. The Popcorn Chicken Shake promo just meant that you could add another dimension to your already flavoured chicken bits with a choice of three (or was it four?) artificial flavourings in small convenient satchets. The available serving sizes were Microscopic, Tiny and Small.

Being a creature of habit, and egged on by the ludicrous radio ads for the entreé for days, I took the plunge one fine day at a KFC outlet near the office.

There were about a dozen individual faux popcorn bits in my order. The shaker was a small paper cup with a plastic cover ripped off a 7-Eleven Slurpee stand. My flavouring of choice was smoky barbecue. I felt a bit foolish pouring the contents out of the box and into the shaker along with the seasoning. Surprise, surprise, there wasn't enough room for all the pieces. Nearby, a small family consisting of a bawling ill-tempered Brat, his mother and an elderly female relative sat by a window.

I tipped the contents of the satchet and started shaking.

shake shake shake

Oh yeah. I was absolutely suave and debonair doing this - not. I tried very hard to ignore the imaginary stares boring into my back and forehead.

shake shake shake

Ten seconds into this and I was totally embarrassed. Even today's kids wouldn't even give this a second look. Me and my curiosity. I opened the cover and dig in. I tasted very little of the smoky barbecue flavour, but it was there. Strangely familiar, too.

shake shake shake

Oh right! It's the Generic Smoky BBQ Flavour™ used in every food chain owned by KFC Holdings Malaysia. Mmm, yes. Nothing like the taste of home. Meanwhile, Brat dropped his toy on the floor for the third time and howled for its return.

shake shake shake

It started tasting more and more like chicken in barbecue marinade - after lying in an oven under medium heat for about three hours, that is: dry and totally rough. Brat dropped his toy for the fifth time.

shake shake shake

"The more you shake it, the better it gets™", huh? No kidding. There was an increasing amount of batter chips at the bottom of the shaker, which explains why the balls were tasting even more and more like chicken. I also spied some crystalline slivers of monosodium glutamate (MSG) among the batter bits. My mood does not improve. In fact, it gets worse as Brat droped his toy for the eighth time. I no longer kept count after that.

The meal started getting uncomfortable as the batter coating began tearing into the roof of my mouth. The orange-flavoured soda did squat for the wounds. The ill-mannered Brat was still at it. I began harbouring unwholesome desires to throw him out the window.

At long last, the ordeal was over. Many of the fast food promo dishes are mediocre at best, but rare were those that caused me such pain. I never ordered or accepted offers for KFC Popcorn Chicken ever again.

I emptied my cup of soda, and as I got up to leave, I saw Brat and his family at the top of the stairs leading to the exit. A man with a full tray was trying to get up, but Brat's mom refused to give way and squeezed past the fellow, followed by her entourage.

So that's where Brat got his manners from.

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Burning Passions

Silly season comes to Malaysia as the anniversary of our independence lurks just around the corner. The reason I don't join in is because I'm way too stingy and lazy to spend the money and effort to buy and install the flag; I have nothing to prove. Plus, this is nothing more than an attempt to stroke some really big, yet fragile egos who are merely riding on the sacrifices and successes of their predecessors.

Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin, however, has his own theories.

"Some people are shy to put up the flag at their houses. It is not embarrassing, so why feel shy?"

...those who did not fly the Jalur Gemilang were unpatriotic and had no love for the country. These people, he added, also did not appreciate what the country’s leaders had done and were ignorant of the fact that the comfort and prosperity they enjoyed today were the results of a long struggle.

If I had "no love for the country", I'd be dabbling in more exciting and profitable lines like drug trafficking, prostitution, sand theft, poaching and illegal logging, not to mention CD and DVD piracy. If I were "unpatriotic" I'd be spotting soft targets in the country for the likes of Jemaah Islamiyah or maybe Abu Sayyaf.

But no. Cowardly, honest me had to learn Malay to pass all my exams, take up an honest line of work cranking documents, pay my taxes, contribute to the EPF and endure inefficient bureaucracy for my driver's license, MyKad and passport. For the sake of family, friends and the wonderful cooks who make my daily staples, I decide to stay put and stay out of trouble.

Not only is that not enough, I'm being accused of being an unpatriotic, unappreciative, ignorant Malaysia-hater.

What did the Prime Minister say about lies and slander, O Minister of Information?

While the Jalur Gemilang (the Stripes of Glory - our flag) is being hoisted by those who gave in to your lame attempt at emotional blackmail, home-grown terrors still stalk the streets: loan sharks, snatch thieves, burglars, road bullies, loutish cabbies, carjackers, robbers and corrupt policemen. How about telling them to "love our country" and stop what they're doing?

Speaking of flags: The dagger-waving chief of UMNO Youth has given his underlings explicit permission to burn the flags of Israel - and if they feel like it - those of the US and Britain, in protest of the spat in Lebanon, with promises of a "tsunami wave of protest to force the mighty powers to bow to the demand for peace".

That's right, fear us! We burn flags! Repent and mend your ways or we will burn even more of your flags! And effigies! Tons of them! We'll reproduce your entire Senate/Cabinet/Parliament and set them ablaze! You will feel as if your own flesh is burning because of our extraordinary workmanship!

So what if it's currently the haze season? So what if open burning is against the law? We don't care!

The smoke from the piles of burning flags of the Great Satan, Evil Occupier and Subservient Poodle, while adding to the worsening quality of our air, brings us closer to the pain, the suffering of the victims of your scorched earth strategies! We will sacrifice our lungs, our sinuses, our eyes, our tonsils, every square centimetre of our mucous membranes in the name of peace and justice! So take that, you... youyou... you Minions of Hell!

...Oh yeah. That'll work for sure. Let me know when it happens; I need to book my oxygen tent and face masks in advance. Thank you.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

A Spirited Rant On Blackouts

Since the last blackout here, there have been two or three more, by my rough count. That's an average of one every... month? I was twice interrupted by blackouts while working on the PC, and things like that can't be good for the equipment. Sweating in my fanless, stuffy room last night, I was so furious, I was rehearsing a rant in Malay- and here it is. An English translation follows.

Wahai Mambang Kabinet; Mambang Rakyat Undi Masuk Parlimen; Mambang Jabatan Kerja Raya; Mambang Tenaga Nasional Tiap-tiap Bulan Aku Kena Bayar!

Baru-baru ini, bekalan tenaga elektrik ke kawasan Taman Overseas Union kerap terputus. Adakah ini sebab atau akibatnya harga bil elektrik seluruh negara "terpaksa" dinaikkan? Sudah dua kali ini berlaku semasa saya tengah guna komputer; satu kali semasa mandi. Tahukah anda semua betapa seksanya mandi dalam suasana gelap gelita?

Yang paling merisaukan adalah kemungkinan gangguan bekalan ini akan memudaratkan semua perkakas elektrik dalam rumah saya, khususnya komputer saya yang merupakan alat saya guna untuk cari makan. Saya pasti yang kamu semua tak akan menggantikannya sekiranya ia rosak.

Siapa dalang jenaka ini? Kalau bukan kerja Mambang Tenaga Nasional atau Mambang Jabatan Kerja Raya, ianya mungkin kerja Mambang Tukar Paip Air dari PUAS yang sedang berkeliaran di kawasan saya baru-baru ini. Mungkin juga disebabkan oleh jiran saya yang mempunyai sistem pendawaian yang rosak.

Negara ini bukannya sempurna sangat, tetapi saya tidak akan terima alasan bahawa ini satu "kebiasaan". Lebih-lebih lagi selepas mendengar khabar mengenai rancangan yang melibatkan Mambang Tenaga Nuklear. Dengan sikap dan cara kerja kalian semua yang membimbangkan, kebarangkalian besar nama sebuah daerah atau bandar negara tercinta ini akan menjadi semashyur Chernobyl.

Tolong selaraskan kerjasama di antara kalian semua dan pastikan kejadian seumpama ini tidak akan berulang lagi, sebelum kena bahang Mambang Api Keluar Mulut.

Sekian, terima kasih.

O Spirits in The Cabinet; Spirits Voted Into Parliament; Spirits of The Public Works Department; Spirits of Tenaga Nasional (Electricity Board) That I Have To Pay Every Month!

Lately, the blackouts in Overseas Union Garden have been rather frequent. Is this the reason or consequence of the tariff hike? Blackouts have occured twice when I was using my PC; once while in the shower. Do you know the torment of having to shower in the dark?

The most worrying thing is that this might adversely affect all the appliances in the house, especially the PC, the tool so important in my line of work. I'm quite sure you won't replace it for me if it's damaged.

Who's behind this joke? If it's not the Spirits of the Electricity Board or Public Works Department, then it's probably the work of the Spirits of Pipe Replacement from PUAS (water management company) that have been lurking in my area lately. Or maybe it's just one of my neighbours with a faulty wiring system.

This isn't a perfect country, but I refuse to accept the excuse that all this is "normal". Even more so after hearing the news of your plans involving the Spirit of Nuclear Energy. With your worrisome attitude and the way you work, there's a good chance the name of some district or town in this beloved country will be as famous as Chernobyl.

Please get your act together and make sure this doesn't happen again, or feel the heat of the Spirit That Breathes Fire.

That is all, thank you.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Let's Rock4Yvonne

Since it's all for a good cause, I'm doing my bit for one of my favourite ladies. Frankly, I'm a bit embarrassed. This charity should have zoomed past its halfway mark in less than six months.

I got my ticket from the Canaanland bookstore at Centrepoint, where publicity for ROCK4HOPE at this site is virtually non-existent. No posters or even a handwritten notice to grab the attention of passers-by. Is it any wonder ticket sales were slow? Considering the poor penetration of Internet media in the country, even this post will do jack. But I'm giving it a try anyway.

Performing Artists: Deja Voodoo Spells and A Day At The Zoo
Venue: Sunway University College, Multi-Purpose Hall
Date: 9th September 2006
Time: 7:30pm onwards
Ticket Price: RM20 only.

The concert's all about Yvonne's condition. There are other ways to help her out. Ticket sales details follow.

Get Your Tickets At:

  • Fantasia Music Studio
    32-B, Jln 20/16A
    Paramount Garden, Section 20
    46300 Petaling Jaya
    Tel: 03-78738991
  • Jaq's and Jan's
    (next to Victoria Station or Jake’s Charbroil steak house)
    Very Near Bangsar Shopping Center
    (so near in fact, you don't need to call)
  • Attributes
    No. 8 Jln SS 13/6
    47500 Subang Jaya
  • Canaanland (PJ Branch)
    F14, (First Floor), Centrepoint
    Lebuh Bandar Utama
    47800 Petaling Jaya
    Tel: 03-77260461
  • Canaanland (KL Branch)
    8th Floor, Menara TA One
    22, Jalan P. Ramlee
    50250 Kuala Lumpur
    (Opposite Petronas Twin Towers/KLCC)
    Tel: 03-21662601/03-21662602
  • Canaanland (Damansara Perdana branch)
    Unit 2-15, Perdana The Place
    No. 1, Jln PJU 8/5D
    Bandar Damasara Perdana
    47820 Petaling Jaya
    Tel: 03-77264233
  • AYA Cafe
    No. 34B, Jalan SS 15/8
    47500 Subang Jaya
    Tel: 03-56378737, 603-5637473

So it's only RM20. Where else could you possibly get rock concert tickets for that price? You probably won't see me there, because I can't guarantee my presence at that date. What's your excuse?

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Would It Be Wrong?

Picture this entirely hypothetical scenario: It's late at night and I'm having a shower when the lights go out, and - by a fluke of nature - the water stops flowing. I'm left in the dark, covered in shower cream, my hair glued to my scalp by shampoo and I can't see my hand in front of my face. It might be nth hours before everything is restored.

Can you imagine the pain? The discomfort? The terror? Would it be wrong, seditious or treasonous to call the ten Biblical plagues upon the heads of all I would hold responsible for my predicament? Are such outpourings considered threats to security and harmony as well? Will blogging it land me in jail?

We don't know. Nobody's saying anything.

I couldn't have put it better than Jeff Jarvis, who ended a related post thus: "Blogging was a helluva lot easier when all we wrote about was our cats."

No shit.

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Bourdain on Beirut

Safe at home, Tony B finally put down his feelings on the aborted Lebanon shoot for his No Reservations series. A full excerpt is available here, if you find the original ad-riddled article at a bit tedious.

There is no overwhelming anger towards the warring parties. He does not point fingers, or issue any clarion calls. Just pangs of regret at not being able to party, mingle, eat yummy Lebanese food, shoot it all and tell the world to drop by and get a taste of what might have been a great Lebanese adventure.

Along with the senseless fighting and loss of life, it's really among the saddest things about the current Middle East situation.