Monday, 18 September 2006

Part-Time Ascetic

The light fever came just before I was getting ready to go home from work. I drove straight to the clinic. The same doctor I saw in July was in, so I'm in good hands. He's a tad more humble and friendly than some of the others on duty at the premises. What is it this time, you say? The old complaint, of course: my infected throat.

This time, he laid down the law. Plain gruel. Plain bread (with honey, if it gets too monotonous). Soy is OK too. No dairy products, no oil, no fruits and vegetables, no cereals, and definitely no meat, nothing cold, and nothing spicy.

"So, essentially, I'm going to have to live like a sadhu," I quipped.

"Ha ha, exactly," was the doctor's enthusiastic reply.

Hell. I'm back in Hell.

Friday, 15 September 2006

They Will Not Be Tamed

Two factions face off in the print and digital versions of The Star. The authorities have declared war on the illegal motorcycle racers collectively known as Mat Rempit, promising hell for the racers and their fans - once they figured out what kind of hell they want for the job.

The racers, meanwhile, have made their stand: unless the authorities build more racetracks to accommodate their favourite pastime, they will continue with what they've been doing. This comes after the antics of a group of racers and their hangers-on embarrassed Putera UMNO with their wild behaviour.

"Why are there so many golf courses in the city and so few tracks? It looks like nobody bothers about us because we have no money."

— Fairuz, 24, mechanic and illegal racer

Because golfers, unlike your pimped-out rides, don't roar like a swarm of gigantic mutant mosquitoes the likes of which only Godzilla can fight. Nor do their hobbies endanger the lives and mental health of innocent bystanders (barring that unlucky stray shot). Even if the anger from your frustrations is tamed, who'd be able to tolerate the noise? Then again, he has a point: why do we need so many golf courses?

"Mat Rempit will gamely take part in government-organised roadshows and convoys. But after that, it’s back to their cliques and street racing."

— Kechik, 23, student and illegal racer

What was that famous phrase? "Be, and it is?" It works both ways, it seems.

"All this negativity about us stems from the activities of a small number who were reported beating up people and caught for vandalism."

— Zaki, 25, IT professional and illegal racer

That will be little comfort for the victims of the small number, who will have to brave insurance claim hell, empty their pockets and live with the fact that the perpetrators of their misery may never be caught. If the illegal racing is nobody's business but theirs, they shouldn't drag innocent bystanders into it.

To be fair, some valid points were raised. Some of them have brilliant minds (to be expected of rogues "who can overclock a motorbike to go up to 200 klicks per hour"), like Zaki, who lays bare the motives behind Putera UMNO's re-branding exercise: "Looks like someone's trying to get political mileage out of 'taming' us."

So there you have it. They say they will not be tamed. Expect more shallow, cynical hair-brained schemes from Putera UMNO, and (unless something else is done) future clashes between these lawless thrill-seekers and the public, or the authorities.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

The ROCK4HOPE Report

I couldn't write about ROCK4HOPE - or anything else - earlier this week because the oyster omelette I had last Saturday night eventually 9/11-ed me. I had little sleep last night as well; the pressure from my sinuses and the headache from sleeping too much kept me wide, wide awake, forcing tears from my pressurised eyeballs.

For a rock concert it was a pretty low-key affair. That was the overall impression of the ROCK4HOPE event at Sunway University College last Saturday night.

I got there earlier than expected and spent about forty-five minutes at the foyer, pacing up and down or sitting down, while passing a bottle of mineral water between my hands. I helped two friends of Yvonne, CY and Cecilia, carry a huge plastic bag full of T-shirts to the multi-purpose hall (and back down to the parking lot when it was over). I also bought a button, from the folks who created, home of a stylised Martian giraffe. There were also door gifts: Cadbury chocolates and Halls' eucalyptus candies, courtesy of the sponsors.

The concert, nearly two hours of brain-jarring, heart-thumping, ear-deafening fun, started late, apparently to accommodate the late-comers. The turnout, however, was a complete disappointment. Attempts at espionage hinted at discrepancies between ticket sales and attendance (more sales, less attendees). A pity really. The bands played quite well and the event organisation went smoothly. Yvonne's book was also on sale, and the author herself was there to sign copies for the lucky buyers.

Bona fide head-bangers Albert and Her Majesty Boadicea were really into it that night, I can tell you (offers of medicated oil and capsicum patches for sore necks and shoulders were gracefully declined). And the bass man of Deja Voodoo Spells plucked the themes from Super Mario Brothers and Doraemon, much to the delight of the crowd.

"Betcha feel real old, don't you?" Albert said after the concert.

Well... yes.

Monday, 4 September 2006

Monday Mourning

I open the Yahoo! main page and - Crikey! Steve "Dances with Crocs" Irwin is dead...! Shanked in the chest by a stingray, no less. By now all of meatspace and cyberspace are afire with news of his passing. But no surprise here; many feel that his antics with animals too dangerous to even approach would eventually be his undoing.

Still, it is also the same infectious enthusiasm that has gotten people interested in wildlife conservation, and not just for his beloved crocodilian species. Lots of viewers, yours truly included, followed his adventures and misadventures with no small amount of trepidation, wondering when would the fatal encounter be. It's a tragic irony to be tagged by a stingray after so many close shaves with saltwater crocodiles and venomous snakes.

The late Crocodile Hunter joins a list of exceptional personalities whose pursuit of their passions led to their deaths. Among them are:

  • Joseph Slowinski, a herpetologist, died in 2001 after being bitten by a krait in a rural area in Myanmar. The snake was brought to him in a sack; he'd reached into it without even a peek at the contents. Too far away from any medical facility, the bite eventually killed him.
  • The Kraffts, Maurice and Katia, were a husband and wife team of volcanologists who were killed in 1991 by a pyroclastic flow at Mount Unzen in Japan, along with a number of journalists. The wave of hot ash and gases caught them completely off-guard.

Catch y'later, Stevo.

Viva La Bodega

As part of my continuing Misadventures in Getting A Life, I journeyed last night to La Bodega, KL for the final Troubaganger gig at that venue, titled Voices From Next Door. The emcees later informed the audience that the place was making way for a steamboat restaurant(!) and added cheerfully, "...maybe they'll have karaoke!"

Like Japanese words of a similar bent (Ringu and Ju-On come to mind), the very mention of karaoke fills me with stark naked horror. What a terrible thing to do.

After I raised the subject during a conversation, a friend decided to tag along, and maybe bring another friend with her. The catch was that I'd be driving. After a roundabout trip to a spot where they could park their cars, I played chauffeur to two gorgeous women: Sarah and her friend, Kuldip. Turns out both ladies had been to La Bodega before, so no difficulties in getting there.

When we arrived, the staff told us we were early; the gig was to start at 9pm (as opposed to 8pm, as advertised on the web site). No matter, we decided to have dinner there. We got seats on the first floor, directly facing the window. Dinner was some salmon with salsa verde, chicken fried in olive oil, and fried Mahon cheese, with lots of bread. I was tempted by the snails, but Kuldip would have none of it. Maybe next time.

Sharanya Manivannan was the first familiar face I spotted, although it was also the first time I'd met her in person. Kyels was there (surprise) and Sarah #2 (surprise, surprise). Jason Lo (whoa) was in attendance, too.

The gig's main aim was to promote a compilation CD, also titled Voices From Next Door. Sarah bought a copy; I decided to wait for its appearance at a record store.

Overall, the performances were great. Izzy Mohamed, Owen Nicholas and Kevin of Broken Scar were exceptional. Nicholas, in particular, threatened to bring the house down (with his foot stomping, if not his vocals). The performance by the soulful Reza Salleh, however, was marred by the band's loud instruments.

We had to leave at the half-time break; it was late, I had to escort the ladies back to their cars, and I had work tomorrow. And there was also a stopover at a mamak stall for a late-night bite. Maybe we should've had the snails. More bread would've been nice, too.

I had a real good time. Good food, good company, good entertainment. I could've done without all that secondhand smoke, though.