Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Hugo Chavez, Mr Freeze

His Majesty, King Hugo I has frozen ties with Colombia because its President chafed at King Hugo's disregard for the Colombian government's guidelines in dealing with the rebel group FARC, and hurt • his • feelings by suspending his involvement in efforts to free some rebel hostages. Mr Freeze also put relations with Spain on ice because its king (a real one, by the way) hurt • his • feelings by cutting short Chavez's rude and unstatesmanlike interruptions towards a speaker at the Ibero-American summit.

Such is the Icemeister's self-righteous indignation. He must've forgotten that only in Venezuela can his oil-funded security and military institutions save him from spontaneous human combustion by shutting up all who opine that His Majesty is in fact a belligerent, self-aggrandising boor. Outside his country, however, he's fair game - and he makes it so easy for anyone who wants to push his buttons.

Oh no, climate change isn't because of burning fossil fuels, illegal forest fires or cattle fart - it's the heat from those voices of dissent, calling for freedom, justice and rationality! If they criticise him and not hero-worship him, his heart will stop and he'll drop dead! And then, he'll melt and eventually raise sea levels by half a kilometre, and drown us all!

So, is Chavez going to start carrying his indignation home after every meeting abroad like an infuriated child, and freeze • all • ties with the offending nation every single time he gets his feelings hurt by locals annoyed at his grandstanding and ceaseless diatribes?

Monday, 26 November 2007

Snarksmith, Meet Wordsmiths

Last month's Readings wasn't particularly noteworthy, but Midnite Lily was there - finally! So glad we could meet up before you went off to Sydney.

This month's, however, started off with a bit of drama. I woke up with a very numb left arm, and became alarmed when it drooped lifelessly as I stood up. Fortunately, it wasn't far gone yet (no shades of blue or green), and a quick rub with some finger-flexing finally returned the arm to full use.

Another bit of drama came along during lunch time. Irene was coming to her first session, and she was bringing Erna Mahyuni along. She called me up asking for directions while I was savouring iced coffee at Yang Kee's Beef Noodle restaurant. Pumped up and goofy with caffeine, I was absolutely no help at all. I made up for it by standing outside the venue, making sure to wave when her car whizzed by.

All the usual suspects were there: Sharon (as the emcee her presence is mandatory), Eugene, and Leon, plus a couple of surprises: Amir Muhammad and Man Booker Prize Nominee Tan Twan Eng. Or someone that looked like him... I think.

There was much fuss over Erna's newly-acquired curves and new hairdo. Irene, who has since ventured into freelance writing, passed around her new business card, a sexy number in sleek, chic black with a gigantic Q embossed on one side. At one corner, went, "IreneQ - Wordsmith".

Hello, Wordsmith, meet Snarksmith. Who is perpetually useless with directions.

Snarksmith then announced his decision to resign and bemoaned the shrinking pie for freelance writing, a claim Erna (aka Senior Snarksmith/Wordsmith) dismissed. Wordsmith offers some words of encouragement: "Go on! Take the jump! Live dangerously!"

While the lineup was impressive, the star of the show was definitely Shahril Nizam, poet, illustrator and poster boy for a particular Diana King single. With a bit more practice, he could add lyricist to his list of talents. A surprise reading of a letter by a tax person capped off the event.

Since my first session, I've found that Readings provides a great way to relax. So much so that I had, as I told Leon Wing, withdrawal symptoms when it had to take a break for some festival in Bali.