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Music Video Parodies by Wong Fu Productions – Why Can’t Our Graduates All Be Like Them? January 31, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's Philosophy, Drowmage's rants, Music, Music Videos, Wong Fu Productions.
2 comments

I just love stuff from these guys – Wong Fu Productions. Apparently they made a few music video parodies, with songs like Senorita by Justin Timberlake, I’m Yours by Jason Mraz, and Qing Fei Di Yi by Harlem Yu, back when they were in university. Check out those videos below :

Parody of Senorita

Parody of I’m Yours

Parody of Famous Chinese Song Qing Fei Di Yi

Alternatively, search for them on YouTube.

The Drowmage thinks that these guys don’t just have talent, they have passion. Passion for what they do.

Now why can’t our local unis churn people with talent? Oh yes, I keep forgetting. We’re not supposed to use our brains for creative things in school, only for cramming, learning useless things and being turned out into the world jobless.

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Scraping the Ground as a Writer January 30, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants.
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It sucks. It really does. Especially when you’ve thrown caution to the wind, declared that you’re leaving the oppressive politically-driven corporate world and decided to be a freelance writer, only to find yourself into the second month, scraping the bottom of your pocket to make sure you pay the bills.

I find that being a writer is not easy. Oh yeah, I love to write. I can sit on MSN and yak away all day,  I can sit down and rant easy on a blog.

But dedication to a topic? Wow.

And it’s something I’ve learnt in these past two months. Yes, it was nice to wake up at any time of the day, sleep anytime I want, relax around the house and still sit down and make money from writing.

But I’ve come to understand that it’s still a job, no matter what. Passion is great, but dedication reaps its rewards. Especially cold, hard cash.

I’m just like the average Joe out there, trying to make a living doing something I love.

So there… back to work now for me… and the deadlines. Hopefully, I’ll embrace it with more conviction.

Scraping the Ground...

Drowmage rants : Stupid, stupid flu. Die, you miserable, measly germs that threaten to destroy my week.

Did Rocky – or Did he Not? January 29, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Journalism.
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I just had to rant about this, because as I was surfing the net today, something truly amazing caught my eye. If you’ve been following the remarkable case brought upon the two political bloggers, Rocky and Jeff Ooi (who have now become more like celebrities already) by the News Straights Times for defamation, then you’d probably know that Rocky was in court this week. Here’s what the Star put up online today:

Star’s Article on Rocky

And here’s the information that was on Jeff Ooi’s blog :

I don’t know where The Star gets their online writers – but the journalist should have verified the information before writing the article, like going to the actual source itself?

And apparently from Jeff Ooi’s comments – which was in answer to someone else’s comments who noted the inconsistencies – the source of the article was AP , which The Star depends on for some of its articles.

This is a laugh and a hoot at journalism as we know it. The Drowmage knows that she is poking fun at her own field, but it’s still funny…. HAHAHAhahaha…..

According to Jeff Ooi’s comments, the Star was made aware of the errors in the article. It’s now been 2 hours since I read about this. No change so far.

—————————————————————————————

Here’s an Update when I checked at about about 2:50 pm :-

Star’s Article on Rocky Rectified

Looks like they managed to cover up the inconsistencies. Can’t find the original ‘wrong’ article now though.

We Should Never Stop Learning In Life January 29, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's Philosophy.
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I believe no one can sit back and say that they know EVERYTHING in this universe. It’s humanly impossible. There’s just so much to learn, and you never stop learning as you grow older, experience life and its ups and downs.

I’ve always tried to uphold the best values in my writing, and that includes NOT: plagiarising articles, blatantly copying stuff from other people yet taking credit for it, and also making sure I know what I’m writing about by making extensive research about it. If I’m going to write about a movie that talks about free-diving, I make sure I find out more about it. If I’m going to write about an actor who loves bungee-jumping, I have to make sure I know everything there is to know about that actor, and the damn sport.

Somehow, pure research has been lost over the years, by people who call themselves ‘experts’. These people claim to know everything about something, and yet, when you ask them a direct question about the fundamentals of that particular topic, they stagger and stammer.

I never profess to be an expert in anything, and always admit that I’m still learning. It’s good to learn, especially about new things, ideas, philosophy or just ways to make life more fun. I love to write, but I’m not the best writer out there and have never professes to be one. I love to cook, but have never said I’m the best cook around – I love cooking because it makes me happy. That’s good enough – but I never stop learning new recipes, new ideas, new styles.

So if you think you know everything, take a step back, and ask yourself this “Do I really?” Because, you never know what else you’re going to encounter on this journey of lessons.

The Drowmage is being a little philosophical, especially after catching a movie from Thailand called “The Tin Mine”. A movie review on that should be up here one of these days.

My Brother: Robbed and Nearly Axed- IN BROAD DAYLIGHT! January 25, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Events, Injustice.
4 comments

I just got off the phone with Mom, who had told me about my brother getting robbed in broad daylight by 4 men, with axes in Seberang Perai (known as Mainland Penang, the piece that is stuck to the huge chunk of land called Malaysia, set apart from our lovely Pearl Isle).

Here’s the story I have from Mom, which I will further embellish with details from Bro once I get in touch with him:

Bro had followed the boss’ son to the bank, to bank in some cash. I’m not going to say how much, but let’s consider it about enough for a spanking brand new Gen-2.

Now, Bro had stopped at the traffic light, and saw in the rear-view mirror that there was a Toyota Altis just behind him. Surprised, he saw two Malay men getting out of the car and walking towards them, but as the light turned green, he thought nothing of it and moved the car forward.

Bro stopped the Mercedes-Benz at the bank, and manoeuvred the car right in front of the bank’s doors. Just as they got out of the car, Bro noticed the same car from the traffic stop, now parked right behind them and two men getting out of the car.

He smelled a rat. Something was wrong, and with a shout to the other passenger, urged him to get back into the car as he did the same.

Upon seeing this, the men reached into their car and pulled out axes, before starting for Bro and his friend. The assailants reached the car, and started smashing the windows of the car, while the two victims were huddled inside, fearing for their life. Being a Mercedes-Benz, and not one of those sardine-can type Protons you see around town, it withstood the first few impacts, but not for long.

Soon, glass flew everywhere, as the pressure of the window began to crack. Broken glass pieces landed in the passenger’s ears and even his eyes, and Bro was cut by broken glass on his arms. Finally, the evil doers made a hole in one of the windows, and reached in to grab Bro’s laptop bag, along with the money.

Everything was in a blur, and in a flash, the assailants, along with their two other accomplices, fled in their gold-coloured getaway Toyota Altis.

In all this time, let us note 3 very important things :

1) It happened in Broad Daylight, in Town, In front of People
2) The security detail at the Bank was nowhere to be seen
3) No passer-by called for help or bothered to do something

One hour later, the police came and took their statements. My brother, thank all the hundreds of deities and Gods in this universe, was alive. But his sense of security had been threatened. His livelihood, in his laptop was gone. His sense of belief in this country, robbed.

And for the Drowmage, it sucks because such a thing, which you only read about in the papers, has happened to one of your own. Your own sibling, of your own blood which you share with your father and mother.

And now, my friends, I will rant about this.

What has happened to this fucking country? Why does a person, in broad daylight, get attacked by 4 axe-wielding degenerates, in front of a goddamn bank? Where was the help?

Where was the security guard of the bank? Do you mean to say that because it didn’t happen in the bank, that it was none of their business to help?

What happened to the surrounding people? Where were they? Did they bother to call out for help? Did they call the cops? Or did they feign indifference, as people often do in this fucking country, and go about their business? Were they busy writing down the license plate numbers, so that they could go off and buy numbers from the nearest 4D punter shop?

Someone cited a case some time back that this one good Samaritan had chased a snatch thief down an alley and was stabbed to death instead, thus perhaps why no one had bothered to help my brother and his friend. I shot back that if a group of people had chased the snatch thief instead, the situation would have been reversed.

So where was group unity? Where were the things which we were taught about in those books, those movies, those damn TV series about honour, courage, bravery, and human unity? Where the fuck were these values?

Were they lost in the education system that crammed exam tips and answers down the students’ throats? Were they lost in the so-called universities that seem to churn out more and more students with sheets of ink covered, mashed tree sap sheets called degrees, yet were jobless, unable to speak the same level of English as their grandfathers without bloody degrees did 50 years ago before the independence?

Where are the values, instilled by our forefathers of our previous generations? Has everyone in this country gone blind, when no one cares anymore?

Or was it because, these degenerates, in knowing that these values and good things no longer existed, dared to carry out their plan to destroy the lives and security of others, because they knew they could get away with it?

Tell me, because I no longer have any answers anymore. I’ve given up on the system and human values.

“Anike” Review – On Being Overdramatic and A Bad Audience January 22, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Events, Theatre, Theatre Review.
8 comments

For the full synopsis of the play, please refer to Cape Poetic’s website.

The Drowmage decided to watch the play “Anike” last Saturday at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM (Sokka-Gakkai Malaysia), not knowing what to expect, considering the last time the Drowmage had watched a play was about 2 years ago, back in Pearl Isle.

Delayed by about 10 – 15 minutes, the play soon got off to a rocky start. Or, in the Drowmage’s own perspective, a dull start. The two female central characters, Yasmine and Anike, were overdramatic, and Yasmine (played by Saw Jin Jin) was too soft spoken in the beginning. Anike (played by May Kung), on the other hand, had projected her voice enough, but seemed to over-emphasized every single word in a rather monotonous display. Both girls did not seem to deliver their lines with ease, making one wonder if they were reciting a poem instead of acting.
At this point, I begin to remember a joke about William Shatner’s acting in “Star Trek”.

Although the emcee had requested for everyone to switch off their handphones, it surprises me how many completely kiasu people there who don’t pay heed to this request. A handphone had the audacity to ring in the middle of this performance.

The overdramatic pronunciations soon begin to irritate me – and I start comparing this to the movie version of Shakespeare’s “Merchant in Venice” – where Ralph Fiennes spouts the famous “All the world’s a stage” quote, with such flow and finesse.

Yasmine’s voice and performance begins to pick up a bit later, when she tries to talk Anike out of going against the king’s edict. She becomes more confident with her lines, delivering them with better conviction, and the play begins to pick up at this point.

Same handphone rings again – and I recognize the ringtone as “Auld Lang Syne”. The owner of the phone quickly cancelled the call, or switch off the phone. Must have been the latter, because I didn’t hear a peep out of the phone after that.

After Anike has declared her intention to cut down her brother’s body from the tree, and perform a proper burial for it, the two girls hug each other and they soon leave the scene. Enter the Chorus elder, played by Sreekala Nambiar, who tells the audience a little background story to the events which led up to the two girls’ discussion.

Jayaram Menon soon comes onstage as Maniaka, the Raja (King). The minute he delivered his first lines, and cast a searing look at the audience, I swear I nearly cowered in seat there and then. (That’s what I call acting – to be able to draw your audience into the scene – to bring a suspension of disbelief that you no longer feel that you are in the hall watching a play, but that you are in the scene itself.)

The row in front of me had this 2 people, a guy and a girl, in probably their early 20s. They kept snickering through the play. What’s ironic was that they were sitting in the ‘By Invitations only’ seats. Friends of the cast? Perhaps they found their friend’s acting funny? I suppress my irritation here, out of courtesy.

The messenger (Aliakbar Campwala), who is also the guard in charge of keeping watch on Sirat’s body approaches the king in a way which made me wonder (and judging by the weak laughs from the audience) – if he was meant to be the comic relief – and as the dialogue progressed, I came to the conclusion… yes, he was the comic relief. Too bad he didn’t establish his presence as that in the beginning.

(Criticisms aside, I had to remind myself that the play was, after all, being spoken in verse, having been adapted from a poem. Nothing’s perfect in this world.)

The sound effects was not too bad, where it was required, but I kept missing some of the more important lines or words being delivered, as to the microphones which were placed at the bottom of the stage were not picking up the actors’ voices very well. The problem, I conceived, was due to the speech microphones that had been set up, which were normally used for presentations, speeches, etc. Later when I spoke to the director, Himanshu, and the sound engineer, Ashwin, they told me that they had hoped to get what was termed “Shotgun mikes”, which was used to pick up sounds from a further distance, without causing huge amounts of feedback.
Comparing Microphones for Events and Theatre

The Drowmage has no gripes about the lighting. I’m never one to concentrate much on lighting anyway.

The costumes were impressive, and I have to hand it to the designer, Mohammad Hanif. Although I realized in the beginning that the Rajah’s regal costume reminded me of Chow Yun Fatt’s armour in the recent “Curse of the Golden Flower”; when I mentioned this to Hanif after the show, he insisted that he had come up with the designs way before “Curse” started their production. I couldn’t help but joke, “So Zhang Yimou stole the designs from you?” amidst the laughter.

Maniaka vs Chow Yun Fatt Costumes

 

Anike and Yasmine come onstage to face the Raja for their crimes, and he sentences Anike to a dark and dreary cave filled with snakes. Again, their performance give me goosebumps.

Guy in front keeps shaking his legs throughout the play. Parents don’t seem to teach their kids manners anymore, I believe. I resist the urge to kick his chair. Manners, you see.

Intermission is announced after this scene, and I end up talking to Wong Pui Nam’s publisher from Maya Press, who gives me a free copy of the published “Anike”. Cheers to Maya Press!

Intermission ends, and we proceed with Act 2.

Here we finally see Nadim, the Raja’s son, entering the room and confronting his father for the punishment against Anike. Played by Lim Yao-Han, the character sounds instead like an American teenager. Remember Alex Pettyfer in “Stormbreaker”? His mouth hardly moves and he seems rather wooden. His voice did not project AT ALL – and with that, and the rather un-expressive acting, Nadim ends up looking like a defiant teenage brat who wants things his way, instead of a son who stands up for his beliefs and the woman he loves. The Drowmage doubts that this was what Wong Pui Nam was trying to express in the poem.

Himanshu Bhatt, the director, makes a cameo appearance in the play as the prophetic ‘Tok Seth’, a seer. His performance was good as the mad seer, especially when he goes all prophetic and begins telling the cruel king about the pain and suffering he will endure for the punishment he has placed on his subject.

The only other gripe I have were pauses in between the scenes, which took too long. However, at the end of the day, the three actors which held the play up were Himanshu, Jayaram and Sreekala, with very clear and precise pronunciation; and a great performance.

Jayaram had me caught up in a very dramatic scene, when he discovers his son dead after Anike has hung herself. Just as he was howling in anguish, the irritating duo in front of me began snickering and chortling. Until now, the Drowmage is still trying to understand which part of the jungle did the two of them crawl out from.

After the play, I cornered the irritating duo. “Hi there.”

They paused and looked at me, smiling.

“I was just curious, what was funny about the play?” I asked in a nice tone. I am, after all, really curious. And nice.

They giggled, and shot nervous looks at each other as I pressed on. “No, really, I’m curious to know. What was so funny about the play? You seem to be enjoying it and laughing, and I was wondering if I may have missed something there. After all, I didn’t find it funny.”

They giggled again, and the girl spoke up in badly-accented English, “The words are very funny!” and they both started giggling again. That’s starting to chafe at my nerves.

“I see… well, I didn’t find it funny, you see,” I smiled at them. “Thanks anyway, cheers.”

Invited guests?? Or merely freeloaders with no appreciation of the arts? You decide.

A friend did mention that it’s better if a play, especially a dramatic one, has a small turnout of intellectuals or appreciative audience, rather than a full house of <insert insulting description of choice here>. I concur. I recommend that you try to watch the play for its intellectual properties, its hidden message and its excellent performance by the senior actors.

Drowmage speaks: The review above is a critical opinion of the Drowmage, with no intention of harming anyone’s feelings. In terms of the sound quality, the Drowmage was, after all, sitting in the 5th row from the front; imagine the poor fellows who had to pay for their tickets and were sitting 10 rows all the way to the back.

“Sumolah” Coming Soon! January 22, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Celebrity Interviews, Movies, Sumolah.
2 comments

Afdlin Shauki has just put up a link to the website for his new movie “Sumolah“.

Sumolah Movie Poster

The site doesn’t totally look complete yet – perhaps it’s in a beta-testing stage. But the production and movie stills seem to have been uploaded, plus the synopsis and cast profiles are also up on the site.

A bit too much Flash, so please try to open the site while on Broadband or Cable (depends what you call it in your respective countries.) If you’re on Dial-up, I don’t really know how long you’ll have to wait for the page to loadup.

I’m really looking forward to this movie – caught a few tidbits of it during the dubbing session 2 weeks back before getting kicked out of the studio (apparently the ending was coming up and was not meant for public viewing yet, so of course we weren’t allowed to linger in there). But from what I saw – the movie looks fracking awesome!

It’s sad that our country’s audio equipment has to cost so much that we still need to do dubbings and voice-overs for our local movie productions, but I have to admit Afdlin’s team did a good job from the sneaks I had so far.

Gurmit Singh was hilarious as usual, Inthira Charoenpura was sweet as the half Malay-half Japanese girl, and Awie tickled my funny bone with his acting.

Drowmage rants: Never a trust a comedian – especially one who may have overdosed on six cups of expresso in the morning just before you’re trying to conduct a serious interview session.

Update: Sumolah” Release Delayed 

On Deadlines and “Anike” January 19, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Random Thoughts, Theatre.
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The Drowmage has been gardening, planting new grass and catching up on deadlines lately…

However, many exciting things to come up soon – having interviews with celebs like Gurmit Singh, Afdlin Shauki and Vanidah Imran plus much more.

In the meantime, if you’re free this weekend in KL, catch this play : AnikePoster for Anike

'Anike', by Wong Phui Nam, is a unique Asian version of the play 'Antigone' of ancient Greek playwright Sophocles.” - Description taken from http://www.capepoetics.com

The director, Himanshu Bhatt, is a good friend from my theatre days, and had asked me to help out. Still contemplating due to the articles lined up for submission tomorrow.

What am I doing blogging then?? No rest for the wicked….

————————————————————————————-

Update: Here’s my review on the play, plus additional rants on stupid audiences. 

Doomsday – Closer than you think? January 7, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's Philosophy.
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I know I promised a tasty bit on the GIFA Awards ceremony that happened here last month, but I couldn’t resist commenting on this article that came out in The Star Online:

“Israel has plans for nuclear strike on Iran”

Now my first thought was – “Frack! They’re really going to blow up the country!”

Complete with this favourite line : “Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, has said it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Check out these links for more on the news :

Focus: Mission Iran – The Sunday Times (UK)

Israel has Iran nuke attack plan – The Washington Times (US)

Looks like Doomsday is getting closer than we think. Pretty soon all the big boys with their big toys are going to start playing nasty, out of FEAR and PARANOIA.

I think I’ll start digging my fallout shelter right now, if you don’t mind.

Pearl of the Isle – Will Progress bring Destruction or Evolution? January 6, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Penang.
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Caught a little article on The Star today : Bleak future for Penangites

PENANG has grown at an alarming pace. So far, the charms of the place, thankfully, are still quite intact.

However, with buildings going up fast in the name of progress, we have a bleak future.

Penang island doesn’t have much space left. We have a ferry service and a bridge that connects us to the mainland. This is our lifeline and a minor disruption of bridge services creates chaos on both sides of the bridge.

Building another bridge will ease the traffic situation but it will choke our little island.

It’s a short-term solution bringing long-lasting damage to the island.

Penang has much usable land on the mainland. If better jobs are available there, people will remain on the mainland.

Developers are not giving us our breathing space. They are jamming every nook and corner of the island with buildings.

The worst example is Gurney Drive where 30-storey condos are springing up just for profit.

The Drowmage is obliged to agree with the writer on this perspective. The tiny island is the Drowmage’s hometown, with memories of how it was blooming with trees, nice seaside views and filled with less cars. You could drive around and still feel like there’s a nice combination of old and new in the buildings – an old heritage mansion, a row of war-time houses nestling between two office buildings and modern hotels.

Regretfully, the island is getting cramped. Every Chinese New Year, I dread going back. The island is filled to the brim with its original townsfolk visiting their families for the festivities, and yet there are enough obnoxious tourists from other parts of the states who clog the streets with their BMWs and big fancy cars, talking on the top of their voices and having little regard for the people.

The other day, a friend commented “Penang needs development in order for our lifestyles to improve.”

I don’t disagree. It’s a brilliant notion. But Penang isn’t just a tiny island lost in the Straits of Malacca. The island happens to be an extension of the mainland, where Penang’s other half is on the mainland of Malaysia itself. Partially still jungle, partially still barren land, and partially filled with housing estates and factories – it seems to the Drowmage that there’s still plenty of space left to be used.

So why are they targeting the island? Why are they tearing down houses to build horrid condominiums, as we try to emulate the lifestyles of the Hong Kong dwellers in their box-like environment? Why are they cramming another damn mall down our throats??

Oh wait. I remember. We’re still the pet of the nation. We need to have our hands held as we cross the road to success. For in order for us to be considered successful, we need to have our island turned in what Kuala Lumpur looks like. A concrete jungle. Such progress, with jams, broken down train stations, lousy service… I see.

So therefore it justifies the loss of our heritage and our culture. It justifies the rape of the hills in order to build ugly condominiums. And yes! it justifies us forgetting from where we came from, a unified and diversified island, where everyone knows everyone, in order to step up in the world.

Tomorrow the Drowmage will start with a brighter look at things – the snotty and exclusive GIFA awards which happened last month.