Monday, January 28, 2008

Celebrating Humanity Through Arts!

Yesterday was KL Performing Arts Center (KLPac) first open day!!! Weee!

KLPac in Sentul Park
KLPac in Sentul Park

What a magnificent sight to behold! The perfect exemplification of Malaysian triumph and epitomisation of mankind's intellectual progress and potential!

Built on the sturdy foundation of a disused KTM sawmill factory, the KLPac building is a brilliant and vivid fusion of the Malaysian colonial past and the current modernisation and expansion of local lifestyle. Parts of the old building still remain, most notably is the arched wall on the left where it contains the stage of Pentas 1 and the brick wall on the right. Apart from that, the wide roof tiles of the old sawmill are laced as interior decoration for Pentas 1 too. Three storeys tall, two Pentas and 8 studios: truly this building is what Malaysia needs for her people and a supportive platform for local arts scene to expand.

Since early primary days, I can't help but ponder endlessly the unwillingness of our Ministry of Education to view arts as a worthwhile investment for young Malaysians. Oh no - definitely not perdagangan, prinisip ekonomi, prinsip akauns and other dull subjects that are not even artistic in the first place. I'm talking about real arts: performing arts, music, dance, creative writing, literature, photography, paintwork, filmography etc - arts that allows one to be aggresively expressive and defy boundaries of any means. And hell no, I am certainly not referring to the muzik class installed in primary school syllabus that all students ever learnt are nursery ryhmes, partriotic songs and playing the recorder. Or the pendidikan seni that is clearly a no-no for Picasso wannabes where the order of nature is the supreme rule of the poster colours and drawing block.

Anyway, those are the closest things that students in national schools could get to arts. For children from poor families, being enrolled in national schools is of no difference than being sentenced to be artistically-doomed for the rest of their childhood. Tut tut.

Although it might be very much liberal in universities, somehow arts still find itself very hard to just POP up in one's head. And the most absurd thing that ever surfaced is that these varsities are so artistically-dilapidated that they are not even equipped with a language club, particularly ELS, or at least a functional one. It is arguable that clubs like music and dance certainly do not need any language to run smoothly. However, where does one who shall make the remark above expect the varsity he is in going to stand, or the direction of all the operations conducted in the uni are heading when the language is not placed any importance while English is the de facto and most basic message delivery? After all, language is the foundation of arts in many ways.

Without that, what value does other clubs or societies hold or are signifcant with? If it is so, there is no such needs to comtemplate farther to establish any science societies before a drama club or reading and literature club where rapid growth of knowlegde is in crucial need of language - especially when science is believed to be the salvation of the today's damaged Earth and longevity of humanity that most people are desperately seeking for to avoid extinction lest to be placed equal to other potentially-endangered species that are not so bright like us. Universities are always wrong to assume that science faculty does not need arts societies/clubs and vice versa - but they are too blind to see that both the elements complement each other to create the perfect and beneficial society. Meanwhile, it is also very unjust and unfair that such utter assumption does not present the proper opportunities to the students to develop holistically. Tut tut tut.

Remember, diversification has always been the key to stability.

When science does not make sense anymore, there comes arts. Arts has always been linked to artistic freedom. But in fact, it is freedom. The word 'artistic' there holds very little worth and in fact, a redundancy for art is everything - but only used by those who insists that arts is a disorder of nature. It allows us to explore everything from the unimaginable to the unquestionable, it does not conceal truths, but it does not hinder the possibilities of the unthinkable either. It prompts us to question the very foundation of being 'us' and what makes us 'us'. Arts even causes one to ripe with wisdom and mature with shine. It always present you a different sight no other else could have seen it - and most of the time they renew your perspective on life. Although they flow along, but arts never recognised any rules and frontier. And most importantly - it has the ability to change the world.

That is called 'arts', for a word of three letters are not enough to sum the whole paragraph, nor a paragraph can ever do it as well. A society that embraces arts will never decline. That's why even the ancient Greek realised and placed heavy emphasis on it. There's no barrier that stands even stronger before arts that can halt the progress of human civilisation.

As old as of primitive man himself; think of 'infinity', think of 'arts' - celebrating humanity has never been this good and fun.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The coolness from the marble floor seeped through my cotton socks to the soles of my feet was pleasantly refreshing. The relaxing ambience of Joshua's apartment was glowing in a mixture of yellow and orange. The moon was perfectly round and gleamed beautifully that night, with most of the time if not covered, was decorated with small clouds at its side.

On the drive to his apartment, my friend related to me that he is living with his uncle - just that for now, his uncle is in China as an English lecturer there and won't be back for quite some days yet. My curiosity seized control of my mouth and vocal projectability while we were marching to his apartment. 'No', Joshua said firmly that his uncle isn't a bachelor and that his beloved wife passed away a few years ago. I was deeply sorry.

Before I could scan the whole surrounding of the apartment properly, a lady of a black-and-white photograph in wooden frame was smiling radiantly to me in one of the cabinets placed against the wall on my left. I approached it without much hesitation to get a better look at this lady who was warming my heart at first sight. Her smile was so lively despite it was only a picture where she posed her shoulders and tilted her head brilliantly to make her smile outstanding. But intuitionally, she was Joshua's deceased aunt. At the bottom of the picture, there were two lines of words sandwiching a date in between.

I travelled further into the apartment to the living room. With a spacious balcony equipped with a BBQ grill, an exercise machine and a table with two chairs at the opposite end; the room itself has video & audio equipments, two sets of comfortable sofas and an oddly tall coffee table compared to the average ones. Below the surface of the table, lied a thick book with hard covers which I mistook it as the family bible at first. As my fingers ran through the pages of the book, I realised that it is a photo album that Joshua's uncle holds dearest and closest to his heart.

The first few pictures in the album are the most recent ones, where his aunt looks pale and dons a colourful snow cap. In few of them, she is seen on the hospital bed with oxygen tube connected to her nostrils. She is rarely to be seen without her snow cap in her pictures, and constantly being surrounded by people, young and old but mostly young, in unfamiliar places to me that definitely are foreign lands.

The tour down her memory lane took me further into her teenage, or most probably, her early 20's years. She looks gorgeous and flawlessly pretty, and I think I saw her then husband as a young, handsome man standing next to her. Throughout all her pictures, the one most distinctive thing that survives time and even prevails death is the same memorable, radiant smile of hers. At the end of the tour, her smiles in every picture drew away my weariness and replenished my hope and faith towards the things I believe and the ones I cherish the most.

Again, curiosity got the best of me. Joshua replied that her aunt passed away due to breast cancer. Upon hearing it, my heart was deeply saddened as if I have known her for a very long time. And I felt that it was cruel to her husband and pitiful for him. For a man to bear the loneliness after the departure of his wife where their love pronounced in the church is meant to defy sickness, death and time; I couldn't seem to imagine the pain of living up everyday and coming back to home without seeing her for the remaining years, especially when all the children have grown up and left the house to start families of their own.

A drop of tear almost rolled down my right cheek then. Of course, I know I was childish and naive then. Some men handle these things better - I don't know how, but maybe because they got what they have prayed for every night and making the best out of each other every moment of their supporting presence, which at the end of the day when they are gone, nothing is lost and wasted and memories together with wishes of the departed ones thrive on as the inspirational source of living regardless how big the tinge of missing them might be. That's why people always say love works in a mysterious way. Joshua further told me that his uncle took it very acceptively and willingly, particularly when her aunt had been suffering for quite some time from the disease that corroded her life but not her smile and strength from time to time until to her deathbed.

Even though it seems that I might never have the chance to meet this wonderful couple who placed great love in each other, I dedicate this entry to both of them. I may not be His believer, but with the utmost sincerity, I hope that she will continue smiling radiantly as ever and has found peace, while God gives the man who has given his heart and life to her the strength to move on so that he is able to fulfil his life on this Earth as a meaningful man and to pass on her smile to everyone he sees like what she had done unto me.

The first line of the few inscriptions at the bottom of the picture I remember reads:

"Joyce Forever"

See you, Joyce.


Thursday, January 17, 2008


WARNING: This post contains small dosage of spoiler to the movie Cloverfield. Best viewed using Opera browser.

As I was pacing out from Hall 2 with hands snuck into my pockets, I was in fact trembling. The cinema was really cold, since it was barely 5 or 6 persons including myself according to my faithful memory trying to make sense of where the story was heading during the first 10 to 15 minutes. Or maybe because I just got jolted by unknown but high amount of suspense, disbelief, fear - I was terrified.

What felt like moments before the credits started rolling was running endlessly, scaling tall heaps of rubbles, got bathed by dust and risked of being squashed to death by chunks of debris, got attack by spider-like creatures while trying to avoid crossing the path of the gray, collosal creature of unknown origin performing mass destruction on New York and Manhattan, and of course, trying to keep the video camera alive and running well despite the hindrance it brought to this survival race.

Overall, the movie - in my opinion as a self-acclaimed film critic - managed to score a 7.5 out of 10. It's totally compelling, however it might not suit most people who are especially used to the conventional method of story telling with narrations and dialogues. One might find it closely related to the earlier 1999 horror-documentary The Blair Witch Project where the story is being untangled through the lens of video camera and the limited perspectives of the people captured by it rather than the general overseeing narration of situation and people involved in most other stories. Truthfully, for the first 10 minutes, I was being brought on a rollercoaster ride of motion sickness due to the uncertainty of video camera. However, this method proves to be really successful in conveying the story especially when it is done the 'ordinary people' way as proven in Cloverfield where it captures the emotions, fear, eye-witness experience and the gripping, unpredictable suspense efficiently in such panic-and-run situation that puts audience into the shoes of those people, particularly through the eyes of the one recording the whole event.

The story begins with a group of people in a farewell party right before a series of strong but short tremors hit Manhattan. The next thing they know is that huge explosions have taken place and the head of Miss Liberty somehow ended on the road near them after being flung easily like a baseball. Obviously, it is something huge with limbs that can only carry out that feat. But still, we are not sure of what it is and where it is from then until to towards the middle of the story. Though it's kept secretive at first, but the plot revelation is good to elevate the suspense and provoke the interest of the ones watching, and everything including the monster's appearance seems to be at the right time and purpose.

Right even before the release of Transformers last year, teaser trailers of Cloverfield had been released in cinemas all over America to build the anticipation up. It was short and without title, but only mentioned JJ Abrams as the producer of the movie from the Lost fame. The trailers only depicted that Manhattan suffered from destruction but not knowingly what was that, and it was observable that the degree of damage and the flying head of the Statue could not be due to terrorism or something of today's arsenal. Funny it sounds, cinema-goers at first mistook it as the teaser trailers for Transformers itself. Unconfirmed speculations made by the public include alien invasion, monster ala Godzilla style, and the less convincing one - terrorism. Some went as far to conclude that it's a Cthulhu based on a book by H.P. Lovecraft. In an unaccredited source, it is confirmed by JJ Abrams himself that the humongous alien is - in fact - an alien.

Extra measurements were carefully taken by the producers to ensure that no leak could reach the public until today in Malaysia and certain parts of South East Asia. Our not so-near-neighbour, America will only get to watch it a day later than us. I have to admit and be amazed despite the massive shoots of scenes all over the crowded Manhattan and the huge amount of people were involved, there was no information that was leaked to the public until the movie being reeled in cinemas globalwide. Now that's what I called a brillliant marketing strategy and it won huge response there - but it is not so heavily promoted in Asia. That explains the reason behind the scarcity of audience in the hall today although today's the premier.

For that 90 minutes; I felt like being transported to Manhattan, witnessed the monster with my own eyes, running away from disasters all the time, being manipulated by the uncertain but strickening fear, covered with ash and dust and lost all hopes within the rubble of Manhattan. I might have considered giving it a 8.5 to 9 rating over 10, but the video camera motion-sickness - damn.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fake Fate

Call me stubborn. Call me blasphemic. Call me a faith-nihilist. Call me anything you want.

Or say that I will burn in the hell inferno. Say that God will pass his verdict unto me. Say that I am sinful and a disgrace. Say anything you want. You have every right to practise your liberal freedom of speech.

But I am never a believer of fate. Luck, destiny - whatever you call it - never once. Nor will ever be.

Whether I am sipping a cup of coffee (heavy caffeinated), in the lavatory preparing the dough for sewer-brownies, or in the train gazing at the scenery beyond the window like a 9mm film reeled in high-speed motion; I can't help but laugh sillily to myself thinking that up there far beyond the visible sky is someone - or a being - much more supreme and of course, divine than me is the one who is controlling all my doings, actions, thoughts - and including who my wife is supposed to be! Simply saying: there is an holier-than-thou control freak up there trying to determine everything about my life including drawing out the possibilitiesy of my future direction.

WOAH Woah, hold on a sec - though I am non-theistic, but I am not declaring a war with anyone from any religious backgrounds, nor being religiously hostile and offensive. I am just merely remarking the absurdity behind certain individuals' belief that always bear the slogan of 'Let It Be, Let It Be' as if Sir Paul McCartney is convincing them that things are the way they are today is not due to their own doings or anyone's. So here they are trying to implicate that their lives are being intertwined with each other and interfered by a much more...oh well I don't know if they are referring to an ephemeral abstract or humanoid being, or any entities of supreme power with uncertain form. Or maybe it can also mean a being that actually co-exists harmoniously in the sub-conscious, and maybe the imagination of the human mind - like the big fat purple freak Barney the Dinosaur that even my younger god-sis aged 6 refuses to watch.

"Thou shalt submit thine life to me!!! And together we shalt rule...oops - imagine the future of thee - MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! GLOOOORYYYYY!!!"

As a friendly reminder, it's my pleasure to re-assert the fact that confusing me with an atheist is very risky to anyone's intellectual and rationale improvement. Unlike Mr There's-No-Such-Thing-As-God, if He were to be really of existence and to manifest in front of His people to silent the ensuing debate - probably the hottest one in the history of human civilisation - I can still sleep very soundly at night even though the bed bugs might be biting me. But to dwell on such triviality of His existence, cummulative time that possibly stretches all the way back into formation of the Pangea has already been wasted. OK, I might be overexaggerating here, but it's the very truth that each second spent arguing of whether is He a protozoa, exists, humanoid or anything can be put into other better use especially benefiting others.

No matter how elevated or lowly is our belief and faith towards His existence; there is no solid answer that unifies all fields and principles of religions, science, sociology and economy that demonstrates whether He truly exists or not. To say that He exists will provoke the debate and invite massive troubles of another, to say the opposite will trigger extremism and the collapse of today's religious institutions. Either way will cause uneasiness, and maybe havoc, among the public members of diverse beliefs and cultures. Hence, it justifies my position as a non-theist - but I ended up being deemed as a coward by extremists before indirectly stating that I am being a conformist in the end in my own nature as accepting His presence into my life will change everything from A-Z i.e. creating a helluva mess out of my life. Well, you have every right to argue that as well.

By eliminating the concept that God has already forseen the fate of all mankind as if he is looking into us like an 8-ball and ordered the The Fate sisters to play with their scissors and spunning wheel so that they can learn some scout knots with our life threads, it's clearly painted out that the position of where I am today is a testimonial of the effort I poured from a second ago to all the way back to my childhood. To put things in a simple edible manner to the human understanding, if one is conscious that exam is coming but still prefers to procrastinate even to the very last minute - and of course, we don't need God to predict that he did far below expectation to see it ourselves. So, unless you're rationalely and intellectually challenged, you would have already know who is to be blamed. If your family is poor, will you just sit on a boulder the whole evening cursing at the sky while you are not lifting your finger one bit to improve the situation itself? Think about it...oh, but don't see and think of me as hardworking like a bee. I enjoy daydreaming and sparking up my imagination into life most of the time.

You might want to argue that some man born wise, some born with a silver spoon in the mouth, while others might born into families that are trying to make ends meet or, become autistic or with cerebral palsy. You venture to the extent of labelling all these things that you are unable to control in the first place as 'fate' - but the truth is you're deluded. Or among the crowd on that day, you are the misfortunate one whose pants got a hole to reveal the Garfield boxer you are wearing or your expensive high-end mobile just got stolen. Just because you are unable to see it coming, doesn't mean you have to blame it all on luck and just forget about it while you are not anticipating the possibility that it might strike you again any moment. I have friends who lives with disabilities - some of them are congenital, I see people sleeping on the streets with teary eyes when approached with food and clothings, I see my lil sister defied death twice and now persevering to play and run like a normal child despite having mitochondriac disorder, I see her mother ever showering her with love and unwaned patience taking care of her though it means sacrificing all her time and strength but not her will, and I see children everywhere in the world struggling to attend lesson while working to support their families.

They never complain, they never do, because life's too short to complain while there is so many other things to fight for. We don't live in slums like the Vietnamese, in the cemetary like the Philipinos or in war-torn areas like the Africans and Middle-East people. We get clean water and rice, noodles and even breads everyday. We have lights to ward off the teasing darkness. If you want to complain that how unlucky your day is or why isn't your destiny bringing you to a bed of roses - try to take a glimpse at the others surrounding you without looking across continents and oceans, and you will know what I mean. We are blessed with almost infinite options and bountiful solutions. But the question is: "Has anything you done make your life better?"

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ashen Snow

Wish I
LIke them; people
Papers that they throw away
Litterred with scribbles
Of dissatisfaction
Of lustrous love
Of hate
Of unending worries
Of crying jealousy
Of ugly
Of our blackened heart
Into the wastepaper basket

Wish I
Like them
Be bathed in negligence
Be basked in ignorance
Encased in the Oblivion Sphere
Of the illusive happiness
Drenched with bitter tears

Wish I
For them
To cast those papers into the fire
Burn us of our filthy emotions
To leave only the bones of compassion

Oh ashen snow
Arised from the burning fire of doubt
Winds shall lift you
And let you who bear all the bad
Be flown gracefully - away; perished!
For you will only melt into the feelings of men
Your deceiful pulchritude

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