Monday, December 26, 2011

This day, 30 years ago.

Irony of life: People who love giving advice on relationships are usually the ones who are bad at them.

I've never had a real, super serious relationship, so I try to refrain from giving unsolicited advice on how to make a relationship work because to be honest, I don't know how. The weird thing is, people who've been through a lot of relationships that didn't work out are the ones who are the most generous with the tips and tricks.

On the one hand, they've had a lot of experience so they might be wiser and know better. On the other hand, if they've failed in all their past relationships, maybe there's something they've done wrong but kept doing over and over again without learning from their mistakes, so they might not be the best persons to take advice from.

I don't really believe in soulmates. The universe doesn't really take a particular interest in your love life so if there's someone out there who might be perfect for you, the universe is not going to play matchmaker and make both your hearts beat in sync whenever you pass by each other. That being said, I don't believe in coincidences either. If somehow you meet someone who is really that piece of the puzzle that snugly fits into yours, it's just because you have things in common that make you gravitate towards each other in a natural manner. Either way, no matter how perfect you are for each other, you still have to put effort to make a relationship work.

Good things will only come out of hard work. If you think finding your significant other is hard, I think it's harder to keep them, and it's even harder to keep the flame alive. I know old couples who stay together for the kids or for fear of being alone, but you can see there's no longer chemistry between them, and I pray to God not to let me be one of them.

Which is why I would like to wish my parents a very happy 30th anniversary. Even after all these years, you can still see the love they radiate towards each other. God knows it has not always been smooth sailing, but they managed to ride through the waves, keep the mast upright, and patch up the wear and tear of the sails along the way.

Love you, Mak and Abah. Always have and always will.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Annoying People Part XII: Pretending to be Inadvertently Snobbish

Someone just posted a link on Facebook about why people need to go travelling.

He was all like, "Yeah, people! Go travel the world and you'll learn and see a lot of things from different points of view and not just be trapped in your own cocoon and think in a uni-dimensional way."

I totally agree with him, of course, but I don't agree with the way he urges his friends on Facebook to start travelling around the world because that's just really inconsiderate. Listen, spoilt kid. Most people don't travel because they can't afford it, and it's not really a choice. If given the chance, I think most people would do it in a split second, no questions asked. You putting a link on Facebook asking people to globe-trot is like preaching to the penniless converted.

People don't need convincing that travelling is good, douche. It's just financially impossible for most of them. You're just lucky you've got the chance to see the world with the government's money. Putting that advice column on Facebook is just a way of implying that you have seen the world. If you want people to benefit from travelling, why not put it in writing, telling people what you have seen during your travels. That way you can impart your knowledge or even small anecdotes about other regions of the world. If all you want to do is tell people that you've been somewhere far away, do know that people would really prefer that you shut your trap.

Next thing you know, you'll be telling homeless people that sleeping on a bed at home is better than on a cardboard box in the street.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Dangerous Method


I just got back from watching A Dangerous Method starring Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley. It's a story about how Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud crossed paths which led to the birth of psychoanalysis.

Let's do negatives first. First off, Keira Knightley. I wasn't convinced by her acting and I can't say I care much about the incoherent Russian accent she tries to do. The casting would have been spot-on if it wasn't for Knightley's presence which stands out like a sore thumb. The only Keira film in which I think she did a good job was Bend It Like Beckham, where she was most believable as a tomboyish English girl. I can't actually spell out my criteria of a bad acting. All I know is that whenever Keira was on screen, I saw her as the celebrity Keira Knightley and not as Sabina Spielrein. The thing is, Sabina is such a pivotal character to the movie, the very reason of the clash between Jung and Freud. Knightley could have easily carried the whole movie, but in my opinion, she fell flat.

Secondly, I think the film is too short and condensed resulting in the story of Otto Gross being grossly (ha!) underdeveloped. I didn't quite get the whole conflict between Jung and his wife as things went so fast. The movie is so compressed that it seemingly took only two therapy sessions for Jung to completely cure Sabina who is supposed to be this hopeless suicidal nutjob. I completely understand the difficulty of squeezing a parallel biopic of two important figures in psychoanalysis within a short time frame, but such a film largely deserves a much longer running time in order for the viewers to really grasp the intensity of the dispute between the two protagonists and for the emotions to seep in. I really would have loved to see more of Sigmund Freud's character since in this movie Freud doesn't get enough screen time. The short, intermittent bits we see of him somehow make him come off as the bad guy who's cocky, intransigent, extremely self-righteous and even slightly racist. Then again, you cannot go see a movie hoping it would be as detailed as the book it is adapted from. So I'll try reading the book when I have time.

Now we'll start on the positives. Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen nailed it as Jung and Freud, respectively. Vincent Cassel, despite having only five minutes of screen time, did a pretty good job depicting Otto Gross, a fellow psychoanalyst who's also a polygamous sex addict.

The movie is set in Switzerland around the turn of the century, so you can expect breathtaking sceneries of la belle époque. The script is top notch. Not too difficult for the uninitiated in psychology, and not too simplified so as to insult the viewers' intelligence. People still need some notions in psychology in order not to get completely lost, but usually people who decide to watch A Dangerous Method are those who already know who Freud is and have a vague idea of what he did to change history.

This film is based on a true story so it doesn't have the usual beginning-conflict-climax-resolution narrative structure, and I like that.

All in all, I think this is a great movie with very heavy but not superfluous dialogues. You have to listen to every bit, every analogy and every retelling of dream.

It made me think, and it taught me things. I love going out of the movie theater feeling that I have learned new stuff.

I went with a friend who is not at all into psychology, and all he could say at the end of the movie was, "Bodoh punya cerita. Nasib baik Keira Knightley tunjuk tetek."


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Self-racism in the Asian community

Loosely quoted from a friend:

"People in Asia look up to the Whites too much. Asians approve of everything the Whites do or have. If you see an Asian talking to a white person, you'll see the 'I want to please this white person' smile and the excessive nodding and the timid, self-conscious laughter. Asians just love to get approval from white people. 90 percent of Asian countries are extremely west-centric, and in these countries white people get special treatment in a lot of things, especially in the service sector. A lot of Asians associate fair skin with beauty, and beauty with superiority. This instills an inert inferiority complex in Asian children vis-à-vis their white counterparts. Sometimes I wish I was White, just so I'd get the same special treatments as well."


There's an awful lot of truth in what he said.

I just wished he hadn't said the last sentence. If he were to be white, it would certainly solve his problems with Asians, but the problem of inferiority complex in the Asian community as a whole would still persist. It made him sound somewhat selfish to want to get rid of the problem by joining the enemy (not that White people are enemies, but you get what I mean.)

Instead, he should have wished some Asians were not as bigoted towards their own people as they are now. Countless are the times I had people telling me to get a French wife (by saying French, white is automatically implied) so that I'd have beautiful white-mixed babies. I don't mind people telling me that because statistically children of mixed heritage tend to be considered good looking. However, I once got pretty disturbed when I heard someone say, "I know this girl who's of Chinese and orang putih heritage, but she looks more Chinese than orang putih, so she's not very pretty. Her little sister on the other hand takes a lot more after their orang putih dad, so she's really beautiful."

I would lobby for that last sentence to be chosen as the definition of 'self-hate' in the dictionary. You know, when your ultimate dream in life is for your kids not to take after your genes for fear they're going to be unattractive, you should not even consider reproducing at all because I wouldn't want you to pass that ugly self-hating gene either.

If you were a sample in my genetic algorithm project, I would eliminate your stupid genes from the population so fast you wouldn't even have the time to finish putting on that eighth layer of whitening cream on your butt cheeks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I spent weeks to actually begin to comprehend a project I'm about to embark upon. It's a project involving genetic algorithm based on Darwin's natural selection theory, and I'm about to digitalize evolution. That's right. I'm going to code computer programs which can simulate the process of evolution, and apply that algorithm in fluid mechanics. I'm thinking of creating a program to optimize the wings of a jet subjected to constrains imposed by the user.

Hope the above paragraph made sense to you. I promised myself never to talk about school on my blog mainly because my school stuff bores people, especially those who aren't interested in engineering. Besides, I'm at school everyday and people there only talk about school stuff, so this blog is a vent for everything else which is not related to my studies.

But this time I'm making an exception because it's been bugging me a lot. It took me weeks to really get a good grasp of this project. And now my German teacher wants me to explain genetic algorithm to the whole class. In German. She was like, "Don't worry about complicated engineering terms. Do away with them. Keep it simple. The important thing is your German should be correct and fluent."

How can you do away with complicated engineering terms when it's a 100% engineering project? It's like asking me to describe a computer without mentioning the monitor, the mouse, the keyboard, the operating system, the hard disk, the CPU and the Internet. It's just not possible.

I have a hard time explaining my project to friends in French, a language I'm at ease with. I can't imagine doing the same damn thing in German, a language so hard it made Hitler go mad and kill a million people.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Pointless Jab At Our American Friends

One big problem with Americans is they don't use the metric system. Out of 204 countries of the world, the United States are one of the THREE countries that don't use the metric system.

Three out of 204 doesn't sound like a big deal, because it shouldn't be a big deal. But it's America we're talking about, and they're ALWAYS a big deal.

I'm constantly finding myself doing mental acrobatics to understand the Americans. During my travels, the Americans I met would always stick out like a sore thumb because they're always saying sentences that don't make sense to anyone else like, "Wow it's, like, 110 degrees out. Luckily I drank, like, 2 gallons of water this morning so I won't get, like, dehydrated walking to the Prado museum which is, like, 20 blocks from here. Like, like, like."

110 degrees? In any other country, that temperature would turn you into a braised human, ready for consumption. 2 gallons of water? I have no idea how much that is but it sounds like a lot. 20 blocks? If you're talking about my Lego blocks, then the Prado should be merely one step away.

I have my own ballpark method to convert Fahrenheit into Celcius. I just take the Fahrenheit number, subtract 32, and divide by 2. It's not accurate, but it's close enough estimation for weather purposes. It's a simple calculation, but every time I'm faced with this kind of conversion problem, I ask myself the same damn question: How can a powerful nation of 300 million people still stick to this grossly inaccurate system of measurement?

I remember one discussion I had with some American dude about Shutter, a Thai scary movie. In the movie, an invisible ghost sits on a guy's shoulders so when he weighs himself, he clocks in at 120 (kilograms) although he's a lean man who would weigh 65kg tops. But this American dude was like, "So why did he lose weight at the end of the movie? Did the ghost suck the life out of him? Did he sell his soul to his pictures? Is there any symbolism behind this weight loss?"

He didn't lose weight, dumbass. In fact, he gained some, because the ghost sat on him. 120 kilograms is equivalent to 264.5 pounds, and that's heavy for one single guy.

The American dude was like, "How are you so sure of that? Did you see "kg" written on the scale?"

I replied, "No, but it's a Thai movie. Why on Earth would Thai people count their weight in American avoirdupois pounds?"

He didn't reply, but I bet he was still puzzled. It must be eye-opening to know that other countries besides The United States do exist.

The Winter Soliloquy

"Damn. My room is an oven. A very, very cold oven."

"If it's cold, then it wouldn't be an oven."

"But it's just as unbearable. Imagine living in an oven, but an extremely cold one."

"You're stupid. Just say your room is a freezer. Fits better."

"Yeah, but saying you live in an oven is more terrifying than saying you live in a freezer."

"On what basis are you saying that?"

"On the basis that God created Hell because he knew people are more afraid of being burnt than being frozen. Which is exactly why the oven is more terrifying than the freezer."


The Consumerist Soliloquy

"I need some new gym shirts. And underwear. And socks. I always run out of those. I need to go buy some."

"Or.... you can try doing your fucking laundry."

Oh. Right.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Phones in Horror Movies

I just watched The Ruins, an American horror film. Yes, I do have classes. And I do go to them. I just know how to squeeze a movie in between things I have to do.

It's about of a group of friends going somewhere remote and deserted (somewhere in Mexico) only to end up being killed one after another by something or someone mysterious. Wait.. did I just sum up every horror movie ever existed?


Everyone has a mobile phone these days, and phone coverage keeps getting wider and better, and that has become an obstacle for every horror screenwriter because if every character in that movie has a phone, then they can call for help and there's no movie. So the first thing to do in every horror movie is to render the mobile phones useless. In most films (Quarantine, Identity, Saw, House Of Wax, Wrong Turn etc), they use the "no signal" or "flat battery" excuse, because those are the simplest ones and no coverage means no mobile phones for ALL of the characters. Problem solved.

In One Missed Call, the flip phone was broken in two AND thrown into an aquarium. You know, just to make sure it really can't make calls.

In The Ruins though, only 2 characters out of six have phones and NONE of the girls brought theirs (something very unlikely to happen in real life because I don't know any girls who don't have their phones with them 43 hours per day). And one of the phones has no signal (shocking!) but the other one works because "it's on Vodafone" (this screams of blatant product placement).

It's the first time a working phone is allowed to be in a horror movie. Faster than I could say, "I would like to see how this whole phone thing pans out", all of a sudden a group of Mayan people ambushed the group, killed one of them (the Greek guy who doesn't speak English) and confiscated the working phone.

You have to give it to the producers. Using Mayans to get rid of a working phone in a horror movie? That's brilliant. Might be the second most original phone-ridding scene after Hostel, where the guy conveniently holds his phone far from his body so it can be snatched by some gypsy kids running around.

I am eager to see how horror movies of the future are going to keep up with all the different communication devices to make sure they cover the otherwise glaring pothole in the movies.

One important thing I learned from this movie is, if you want to be in American horror movies, make sure you speak English because it's always the guy who doesn't who gets killed first.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Unprofessional Businessman

I'm still looking for ways to talk about money with people I like without it being awkward. In my experience, money is the biggest enemy to any kind of relationship, because relationships are built on trust, and somehow the emblem of trust in our world is money. If you can trust someone with your money, you can trust him on anything.

When a family member borrows money from you and you need to know when they can pay you back, it can get very delicate. You don't want to come across as insistent and pesky, but at the same time you need to know that you're going to get that money back. And you don't want this money thing to make things awkward because after all, these are the people you've known for a long time and probably will keep on bumping into for the rest of your life.

It's funny how the very mention of money can turn everything sticky.

I have a friend who asked me to translate his website from English to French for a fee, and he asked me to name my price. I've done translating jobs before, so the translating part is not a problem. But it's the first time I'm doing it for a friend and I have never established any 'friends and family' rates. Of course, I can keep it strictly professional and just name my normal price, but then I'm afraid that the moment money is being factored into a friendship, it's forever ruined.

It is definitely very naive of me to think so, but I owe it to the child inside me who still thinks that a real friend is someone who would help you out unconditionally without expecting anything in return. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and I'm not going to get far with this kind of naivete. But somehow I wish I wouldn't change.

So my question of the day is: How do you negotiate business deals with friends or family?

Ghost Town

Stupid movies are my guilty pleasure. And I just finished watching Ghost Town.

If you aren't familiar with Ricky Gervais, you might not find him that funny. But I've watched The Office (the original British version) and he was hilarious so the hilarity of Ghost Town kinda feeds off of his The Office and Golden Globes host persona.

Ricky Gervais plays a dentist who can see ghosts so there are well-dressed ghosts following him around town asking him to talk to their living relatives. So you can say that's it's not an intelligent film, and it's not the best film ever made. But it's exactly the film you need on a cold Sunday morning when you don't feel like doing anything remotely intellectual.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Goldfish in a Bowl

This is another post about me not liking football.

It pisses me off that people are still talking about United's 6-1 loss against City. I get it. Manchester United losing to City, that's practically football blasphemy. And 6-1? That makes it even more pathetic.

It's football. Sometimes teams win, sometimes teams lose. Sometimes it's a tie, sometimes it's 3-0, sometimes it's 2-1, sometimes it's 4 to nothing, other times it might be 6-1, and it can also be 1-6. And sometimes I just don't give a shit anymore.

The thing is I don't see fans of other sports riling up the way the football fans do. Take rugby for example. You don't see the Kiwi fans rubbing it in on the French fans for a whole week. And they won the Rugby World Cup! That matters much, much, MUCH more than just a stupid EPL derby match, but the rugby people just know how to keep it professional. The winners had their day and the losers promised to do better next time, end of story.

I'm not questioning people's obsession over football. I'm just questioning their childishness when it comes to victory and defeat.

Sometimes they just to fail to just fucking GET OVER IT.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Home

Extreme Makeover Homemade Edition.

I'm pretty pleased with what I've done with this blog. It represents everything about my origins, down to the littlest details.

And I have a feeling it's going to stay this way for quite a while. Get used to it.

By the way, I changed the name of this blog because The Couch Potato Diary just doesn't have the same ring to it anymore.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

With All Due Respect, You Suck Elephant Dick

There are certain ways you can sugercoat a criticism or an insult in order to soften the blow. But a criticism is a criticism, one can throw it like a boomerang or one can get down on one's knees and hand it on a silver platter, but if it's about something you hold dear, it'll still hurt like a bitch.

Knowing this, people are gradually changing the ways they give criticism: they just lash it out. After all, there's no good way of telling someone they suck, so why not save yourself the trouble of being diplomatic and just say what you think. Who cares if it's offensive to the other person, because he had it coming anyway.

Or, you can start your sentences with well-established excusatory expressions like "with all due respect" before telling someone what you really think. I hated it when people do that, but after a while, I'm starting to find it better to say "with all due respect, you look like shit today" rather than just a flat-out "you look like shit today." Somehow it gives me the impression that no matter how I look any day, you still have the obligation to show me some respect. It's comforting.

But I still can't stand it when people say things like, "You're wearing a green shirt? No offense, but I would never wear green if I were you." Well, it might sound like 'no offense' to you, but all I hear from what you said was, "You're wearing a green shirt? Are you blind, stupid, or just plain retarded, in which case it would still be unacceptable because even my autistic nephew wouldn't be caught dead in something as ugly as what you're wearing right now."

(That would be an awfully bitchy autistic nephew, by the way.)

I give criticisms on a daily basis, so I think I should compile a list of soothing expressions I could use before telling someone off.

You know, just for good measure.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lame Book Names

Did I tell you I just rediscovered Twitter? And did I tell you how awesome it is? I just learned about Twitter trends and stuff, and it's pretty neat.

I had fun reading tweets for #LessExcitingBooknames which is trending right now. Among the best ones I found was:

The Grapes of Mild Displeasure
For Whom the Taco Bell Tolls
The Godmother
V for Vegetable
Journey To The Center of the Mall
The Profile Picture Of Dorian Gray

But the best one in my opinion is:


The Importance Of Being On Time

I literally laughed for a good 3 minutes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Favourite Catwoman

Michelle Pfeiffer is hot. I know it's a redundant fact to echo because she was, after all, Catwoman. So her being hot is a given. No one had ever looked so good in a catsuit. And who can forget that 'meow' that makes a building explode?

Even her name is sexy. Try imagining her pronouncing her name in a slow manner a couple of times (put more focus on the movement of the lips), and you'll see what I mean. Muh-chelle... Ffeeiiffferrr....

She's really aged well. She's my favourite Catwoman. No offense, Halle Berry. You were hot in that catsuit, but the movie was a hot mess.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Going The Distance

A very good friend of mine left for an exchange program in Argentina. She had never gone out of France on her own, let alone lived in a foreign country thousands of miles away for an extended period of time.

We write to each other often, and she just told me how she feels very alienated. People are very nice to her and all, but somehow she doesn't feel like she fits in. It might be the language barrier (she speaks decent Spanish but with a heavy French accent), or it might be that she's only been there for 3 months while all her classmates have known each other since freshman year so it's already a too close-knit circle to break into. Either way, she's having a problem blending in.

Upon reading her emails, I just smiled. It's not schadenfreude mind you, it's just that I know the feeling all too well. Been there, done that.

At least she's white, so she still looked like everybody else in Argentina. In freshman year, I was one of the very rare specimens of the Malayo-Polynesian species, and I didn't speak perfect French so people knew I was a foreigner, but they couldn't really put a finger on my origins. I don't really look Chinese. I'm too tall to be Vietnamese. My double eyelids say I'm not from East Asia. They're like, "Are you Mexican? Peruvian? A mix of Chinese and something else? Or are you just French with a funny face? Seriously what are you?"

It was nerve-wrecking.

As a foreigner in another country, people will be interested in you for like two seconds. After the exotic factor dies down, you're going to have to make real friends like everybody else. And this is when it gets tough. A friendship gives you a sense of belonging and acceptance, and this can only be done if you have things in common. What did I have in common with these French people? Nothing. I didn't look like them, eat the same food, speak the same mother tongue, practice the same religion, get all the French films references and quotes, or come from the same cultural background. My French was bookish and extremely pedantic, and the people around me were speaking 'youth French', with their verlans and derived expressions and corrupted vocabulary and SMS language and Franglish. I couldn't be any more different. Heck, they even had a different handwriting! In France there's a standardized handwriting they teach you in primary school so believe it or not, they ALL have the same handwriting. This standardized handwriting is so well-established that you have French Script as a font in Microsoft Word.

The only thing that saved me from being shunned into oblivion was the fact that I had a knack for languages (so it didn't take long for me to adapt to their French), and that I was an avid reader. Really, my years of being a bookworm finally paid off. In a prestigious French public engineering school, you have this highly educated environment where people actually READ, where they know how to have fun but still maintain their academia. They have this ability to switch from speaking vulgar French into formal French using proper enunciation, elevated register, specific vocabulary and impressive articulacy in a split second.

You can't keep up with that unless you have varied reading materials. I didn't know a lot about European history, and the French are a bunch of very Euro-centric bunch of people for whom Europe, with its long history in philosophy and literature, is the cradle of human civilization and thus, they are very proud of it. So I did a massive amount of reading, especially in areas of European art, music, literature, history and philosophy. To really know a people, you have to speak their language and know where they come from.

And I wasn't afraid to speak up. I wasn't afraid of getting and standing corrected, I made up lame jokes, I asked a lot of questions, I answered a lot of them too. You can't hope to survive 5 years of college without blending in with people, or you're going to end up depressed. College years are supposed to be the best years of our lives.

So yeah, this is what I told my friend who went to Argentina. The lonely feeling will creep up sometimes because of homesickness, but only if you don't keep yourself busy. And friends keep you busy.

Well I don't know why I'm worried about her. She's a party girl. So she'll be fine.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Ain't No Scrub

I put my iTunes on shuffle and suddenly it played No Scrubs by TLC.

That song was huge 12 years ago, and is considered a modern classic by my generation. But I bet no one really knows the exact words in the chorus so everybody always sings, "No, I don't want no scrub... a scrub nanananana in no love from me..."

And the rest of the song is also a series of indecipherable ghetto mumble. Heck, I didn't even know what they actually meant by 'scrub' until five minutes ago when I looked up the lyrics and saw the very first verse:

A scrub is a guy who thinks he's fly
And is also known as a buster
Always talkin' about what he wants
And just sits on his broke ass
So (no)

So thaaat's what 'scrub' actually means. And all this while I thought they were talking about a doctor's scrub. Like, why would an an all-female R&B group make a song about a garment worn by medical staff in the operating room? Shouldn't they be singing about the empowerment and emancipation of women like they always do?

And I couldn't help but chuckle when I read these lines in the second verse:

But a scrub is checkin' me
But his game is kinda weak
And I know that he cannot approach me
Cuz I'm lookin' like class and he's lookin' like trash
Can't get wit' no deadbeat ass

I'm not criticising ghetto talk, but a girl "lookin' like class" should never say "can't get wit' no deadbeat ass". Besides, how can a girl possibly thinks she's looking like class when in the music video she's looking like this:

Or this (oh God what is this?):


"They say I'm a woman of colour, so I decided to own up and actually be one."

Did they change the definition of 'class' to "slutty bikini top, weird-ass threeway ponytails and chola tranny make-up"? Because if they did, I must have missed the memo.

That being said, I do think the word 'scrub' should have caught on more because the world does need a catchy word to describe people who talk the talk, but never walk the walk.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Life Lesson from Bears

I've always wondered if I could ever be a vegetarian. I tried soy meat a couple of times and I didn't find it disgusting. In fact, if it weren't for the somewhat airy texture, I would've believed that it was real meat.

I can go without red meat for quite a long time (the longest was maybe 2 months?). The only thing that'd be really difficult to give up is seafood, but then again being in a region of France where the sea is nowhere near, I don't get to eat seafood that often anyway.

I remember five years (or so) ago my savings were running really low so I had to really cut corners every which way I could. So I decided to eat egg salad for a month and a half. I would sporadically add crab sticks, but only when I was feeling particularly fancy. Whenever I had hunger pangs, I would just eat apples, or just chew on my nails. And I survived. I felt very healthy during that period, and I lost around 6-8 kilos.

So today I got back from school and I turned on the TV. And I saw a commercial for Discovery Channel. There were two bears chasing after a salmon travelling upstream. They both got to it at the same time, so they grabbed it and violently pulled at it, tearing the poor salmon into two parts, revealing its pink flesh.

And in that gory, tear-jerking, bloodshed moment, under my breath I said, "Wow.. that looks.............. delicious."

That's when I knew for sure that I can never be a vegetarian.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Հայոց գրեր

I was browsing through a friend's photos on Facebook (stalking pervert alert!) and came across one showing a subway station in a foreign country, with signboards in a writing I've never really seen before. It wasn't even remotely familiar. At first I thought it was Georgian but it lacked the "springs" (look up Georgian alphabet on Google Images and you'll see what 'springs' I'm talking about).

So I finally gave up and read the photo caption - it was a subway station in Yerevan, Armenia. So the mystery language was Armenian. You know, the land of the Kardashians.

Naturally I wiki-ed Armenian language and alphabet. Good God, Lemon! It seems like I've been missing out on a lot of interesting stuff. The Armenian grammar is very complete and extensive (somewhat comparable to English, but still not German) and it seems like they have a very long history in literature. I've always believed that you can easily judge a culture by its literature, which is why I think the Greeks are in a mess because they've had too many thinkers and philosophers but not enough people who would actually do something. Haha.

So yeah. Today I discovered a new language.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Annoying People Part IX: "I Dropped Out Of College So I'm The Next Bill Gates"

We all know that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and those Google guys dropped out from college and went on to become multi-zillionaires. Which is cool, because that shows how drive and vision alone can drive people to the top.

I've been in the scholar system for way too many years and it bugs me when people ask me, "Why did you choose to get a Master's degree again? Don't you know that the richest people in the world are all college dropouts? A degree is just a piece of paper. You can be smart on paper, but it's a whole different thing in the real world."

Well I appreciate their concern. After all everybody around me only has my best interest at heart. FALSE. Some of them just want to see me fall so they can say "Hah! I told you so."

But let's see. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, the best university in the world for decades. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the Google duo, dropped out of their PhD program, meaning they already held a degree. And they dropped out of Stanford, also one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Steve Jobs dropped out of college already knowing what he wanted to do in life.

My point is, even if most of these people are college dropouts, they dropped out of world-class universities, meaning they already had the genius in them. And most of them dropped out because they had brilliant and lucrative projects in mind, and knew that it would be better than college. They didn't become successful because they were college dropouts. They became successful because they already saw a path to success in life and college was becoming an impedance to reach their goals.

If that is your case, then by all means, go for it. Carpe diem. Follow your dreams, and success is within reach.

But if you want to drop out of college because you're too lazy to wake up at seven in the morning, because classes bore you, because you prefer spending your days watching Entourage and playing video games than listening to 3-hour lectures, then don't come to me and say, "I'm dropping out of school because it's useless. I don't know what I want in life, but I'm sure college is not it. All the successful people are college dropouts anyway."

Listen, kiddo. I hate to be the one to break it to you but those people, they are successful because they're smart (both book and street), they're driven, they know what to do in life, they have passion, they were brave enough to get out of their comfort zones and follow their dreams, and most importantly, THEY WORK THEIR ASSES OFF. If you think they got to where they are by lazying around watching TV series, then I suggest you eat rat poison and get into fetal position right now.

And that "I don't know what I want in life, but I'm sure college is not it" bit is pure, raw, first-grade bullshit. It's not that you hate college. It's just that you hate waking up in the morning, dragging yourself to school, and using that God-given thing between your ears.

I respect people who dropped out of college to follow their dreams, but only the ones who flaunt it when they've made it. If Bill Gates came to me and said I'm a fool for being the slave of tertiary education, I would bow down to him and said "Yes, master" with absolute sincerity. Because he's already successful.

If you're just some random college dropout who doesn't have any remarkable accomplishments in life yet, but who just loves to use that 'successful-dropout story' to brag about your probable success in the future, then please just shut up. Do your job, work your ass off, be thirsty for new opportunities in life, and show people that you're worth your weight in crap. If one day you become successful, then you are free to flaunt it, blow your on horn and rub it in the faces of people who looked down on you. You can even write a biography if you wish, and I might even buy it.

But till that day, just shut it. Because looking at where you are right now, I sure as hell won't believe for a single second that you're the next Bill Gates.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life As A Sheep

I've had it with people going around saying "Cover your aurah or else you'll burn in hell! You'll be hanged by the tongue, and hot molten tin will be poured into your skull!"

Come on, Muslims! Why can't we stop disseminating fear, but instead focus on explaining the benefits of doing good? 

I'm so pissed at people just threatening each other into doing good, "or else in hell you'll be turned into a dog, with fire going into your mouth and out of your anus." Seriously? Is that how we do our dakwah?

People are not sheep. You can't scare them into doing something, even if it might be good for them. Allah actually bestows everyone with a grey matter in the brain, which makes them capable of thinking and choosing what's best for them. Ergo, if properly explained (without condescension and/or Holier-than-thou attitude), people are going to listen and they might actually do it because of the benefits, not because they're afraid of punishment, and not because they've been bribed with the idea of heaven.

We should focus more on instilling the do-gooder instincts in adults and children, so that doing good comes naturally. And sincerely.

I really, really, really, really, hate it when people become arrogant because they think they are more Muslim than others. It defies the purpose of religion, which is every man is equal in the eyes of God. If I'm not as good a Muslim as you are, tell me, teach me, and guide me. Be a friend, be an equal. Don't reprimand me, alienate me, and condemn me to Hell. You're not God, and you'll never be.

Some time last year, I talked to an atheist French guy in my class about religion. He asked me why I was a believer, and I told him why. He asked me a lot of stuff, about how severe the punishments in Islam are, and I said I tried not to look at the punishments, but instead I concentrate on why we are told to do things a certain way. He asked me if it is hard to deprive myself from forbidden foods, I said it depends on how hard you let yourself be tempted. If you don't surround yourself with temptations, the feeling of deprivation is just non-existent. And at last he asked me one very tricky question: "If heaven and hell didn't exist, would you still do all these so-called good things that you do?"

I said yes, because I know why I do them, and I can see the benefits I get from them. Even if heaven and hell were taken out of the equation, I think I would still benefit from these so-called good intentions.

Several months had passed, and after the summer holiday he told me he had converted to Islam, and he finally felt peaceful at heart.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pierre Desproges

I'm reading a book by a famous French humorist, the late Pierre Desproges, called Chroniques de la Haine Ordinaire (The Chronicles of Common Hatred).

If I were to make a comedy film, it would be heavily influenced by Desproges' sense of humour which I think is very similar to mine: deadpan, sarcastic, a bit noir and a bit vulgar, and most importantly, jaded. I think the best jokes aren't the ones that need to be told by shouting or making funny faces. And I, too, tend to hate people I don't know.

I hate being one of those oh-so-sophisticated Malays who always look down on Malay humour, Raja Lawak, recent Malay comedy films etc. But I am one of them, because I fail to see how those things are funny. Yet, the funniest movies I've seen are P. Ramlee movies which involve 100% Malay humour. In his films, the humour is sharp, not just infantile. It's clever, not just insulting your intelligence with easy jokes. It's always several-layered, not simply to be taken at face value. It's pregnant, not empty and void of morals. Most importantly, it's mostly verbal, and not just slapstick or gestural. Slapstick jokes are easy to get, but they're easier to forget. Verbal jokes are harder to create, but the good ones will stand the test of time. Is it any wonder that after so many years, P. Ramlee movies are still heavily quoted in the Malay society?

Which brings me back to Pierre Desproges' book. It reminds me a lot of the jokes I love in P. Ramlee movies. He loves playing with irony, and whenever he points out the hypocrisy in the French society, it's always subtle but spot on. The last funny book I read was The Alphabet of Manliness by Maddox (what was I thinking?) so the bar is pretty low. Very low. Which is probably why I'm really enjoying reading Desproges.

It's a shame that they don't publish Desproges books in English because this book deserves to be introduced to a wider audience. Then again, a lot of the jokes are impossible to translate so even if it did make it into the English-readers market, I doubt it would be as successful.

Rest in peace, Pierre. We need more people like you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Just a week ago we still had sunny days and hot weather, but now it's all gloomy, rainy and cold. So it's official. Summer has ended.

And I don't know where autumn went, because it's mid-October but it's already winter-like. My apartment is a fridge.

Since I don't intend to turn on the radiator and see my gas bill triple, I decided to take advantage of this wonderful capitalist-cum-consumerist society and bought the awesomest human invention since the lightbulb: the Snuggie.

It's a blanket with sleeves. Yes, it's just that. Sounds stupid, but it's actually a brilliant product. Every time I sit in my living room couch to watch TV on winter nights, I have to drag my comforter with me to keep warm. And if I feel like making coffee, I'd have to get out of the comforter and face the cold. Now with the Snuggie, I can do whatever I want without feeling cold.

It's just a fleece blanket with sleeves, but it's more than revolutionary.

First World Bullshit

And to complete my posting earlier, I just read the biggest bullshit ever: "Your birthday gift doesn't have to be fancy and expensive, as long as it comes from the heart."

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Because if you only give someone a two-dollar birthday card that says "You're my best friend in the world, I love you dude" and there's some other guy who gives him a Mini Cooper AND a boat, you can bet your ass that your hope of becoming the best man at "your best friend's" wedding has just been reduced to zilch.

First World Problem II: Gift Ideas

A friend's birthday is coming up and I still have no gift ideas. Yeah I know, celebrating birthdays when you're old enough to be accused of pedophilia is lame, but if there's one good thing about still being a student at 23 years old is you can act like kids all you want and it's somehow justified because you know, you're still studying.

So I don't have any idea for a gift. Here comes a very first-world conundrum: What do you give a guy who already has everything?  By everything, I mean, everything. He has a car, an iMac, an iPod, an iPad, a Blackberry, an X-Box with Kinect, 3 headphones, gym membership, nice watches, perfumes, shoes, sport shoes, and he's already seen Manchester United football matches live at Old Trafford multiple times. 

Any gift I buy will pale in comparison, which is why it's so hard to buy gifts for someone who already has everything.

And that's exactly what I put in my Google search this morning: Gift Ideas For The Guy Who Has Everything.

Google is nice and all, but you know what she came up with? Remote-controlled bugs. I shit you not.Yeah, remote-controlled bugs, because even if a guy already has everything, he'd always forget to buy remote-controlled bugs. In case you're wondering what the hell those are, these bugs are exact replicas of real-life bugs and they can be commanded by remote control. Well done, Google. You know exactly what a guy needs.

The other suggestions are all expensive stuff like silk ties or diamond cufflinks or cashmere socks or a cruise on the Nile. What gives Google? All my Google searches have always included the words "cheap" or "low cost" or "discount" or "I'm filthy broke", so Google should be able to read my mind by now and know that I'll never buy diamond cufflinks.

Following my unhappiness with Google's performance, I decided to be more precise with my search keywords: Gift Ideas For The Guy Who Has Everything From A Guy Who's So Broke He Borrows Money From an Obese Middle-aged Hooker.

And that search, as expected, returned nothing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

First World Problem: Soggy Cereal

A friend was telling me something about his not so exciting life and he started his sentence with, "I poured some cereal and milk into a bowl, then I had to do some stuff and totally forgot about it. When I came back, my cereal had become soggy so I threw it out, and rushed to school. Which is why I'm feeling really hungry now."

Boring story, I know. But when was the last time someone came up to you at 8 o'clock in the morning with a kick-ass, life-changing story? As far as I know, all people have to offer that early in the morning is crankiness. And bad morning breath.

My resolution this year is to always look at the bright side of things. So I managed to find something interesting in that unbelievably mundane story, which is: Why would anyone throw away soggy cereal?

Cereal has always been my favourite breakfast ever. When I was 5, I even asked my mom to pack Koko Krunch in my kindergarten lunch bag. But cereal can get too hard on the gum, sometimes causing mine to bleed. So I'd always wait for the cereal to get real soggy before eating it, something I still do up to this day. The benefits of eating soggy cereal are four-fold:

1) You can eat it with minimal chewing, thus minimising energy waste.
2) No harm to the gum.
3) More time for the milk to absorb the taste of the cereal, so in the end you'll get a bowl of milk with great chocolatey taste (or whatever taste your cereal has).
4) Have you ever eaten cereal in front of the TV and you couldn't hear a damn thing because of the loud, crunchy chewing noise? With soggy cereal, you can eat it while watching TV without any hearing impairment.

So, as an advocate of soggy cereal, I encourage every one of you to stop being a brat who throws out perfectly good food for nothing because soggy cereal is, hands down, better than crisp, crunchy cereal.

Besides, if you hate soggy cereal so much, why do you even bother with the milk?

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Perfect Movie

My definition of a perfect movie is Almost Famous. Why? Because it transcends all kinds of cinematic boundaries. You can be a fan of road movies, biographies, comedy, musicals, drama, coming-of-age teen movies or romance, there's something for everybody in Almost Famous. Cameron Crowe is a genius. If you can write a screenplay like that, you can do anything.

Screenplay is what makes a movie. You can have all the money in the world, but your film can still be forgettable. Just look at Avatar. It cost a lot, and it earned a lot more. But does it stay in your mind? Nope. When I was in my "I want to be a screenwriter and movie director" phase, I remember going to bed every night wishing I had written Almost Famous. It's just that perfect.

I remember obsessing over Kate Hudson for a good six months after watching Almost Famous the first time. And this movie is how I came to know the genius that is Elton John (after the famous bus scene where they all sang Tiny Dancer). And the use of Simon & Garfunkel's America at the beginning when Anita was going to become an air hostess? Just another stroke of genius.

In case you're wondering, I just watched Almost Famous for the umpteenth time and that's what prompted me to write this post.

And after all this time, it's still the perfect movie.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Overlooked Thespians

This was supposed to be a blog about movies. So let's all go back to our roots and talk about overlooked thespians or better known to IMdB forum freaks as 'underrated actors'.

I've always thought Selma Blair and Helena Bonham Carter were terrific actresses and deserved more attention than they've been getting. Selma Blair can pull off comedy roles as wonderfully as she can serious ones. For the past 15 years she's been highly prolific, with 4-5 films per year. Yet, she's still virtually unknown. Helena Bonham Carter has always been visible as well, but her unorthodox looks combined with the quirky characters she always plays make it hard for her name to become household. I'm not a big fan on Tim Burton, but if there's a reason to go see a Burton movie, it's to see Helena in action. But of course, my favourite film of hers is Fight Club.

As for the guys, I think the actor who deserves the most recognition than he's actually getting is Greg Kinnear. Every time I see him on screen, I can be sure that he'll deliver. And he always does. He gave an impressive performance as the gay artist in As Good As It Gets (a movie I've seen like 5 times which is still not enough for a Jack Nicholson film) and the caring father in Little Miss Sunshine, for which her on-screen daughter Abigail Breslin was nominated for an Oscar. He even guest starred in Friends as a paleontologist (Ross' nemesis in the pursuit of Charlie). If that's not enough, he was in You've Got Mail alongside Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Fast Food Nation, and Baby Mama, playing Tina Fey's love interest, an ex-lawyer who opens up a juice joint. In other words, he's been in a number of very high-profile movies and yet, his name doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as some other actors whose acting chops are questionable at best.

Honorable mentions: Christina Applegate, Jaime Pressley, Benjamin Bratt, John Cusack, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Connelly, Tim Roth, Liam Neeson, Ellen Burstyn. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Annoying People: Part I-Lost-Count

Okay I'm going to lavish you with 2 annoying people stories.

The "I'm Lightyears Cooler On Facebook" Guy

Do you have a friend who, during hangouts, would say nothing do nothing everything nothing? As in, s/he just sits there, holding his/her phone, looking at the others condescendingly or even not acknowledging their presence? Of course you have. Which is normal, I guess. In a group, there's always that guy. But it pisses me off when I get back home and guess what I see on my Facebook newsfeed? "That Guy just checked in at The Cool Hangout Place with (tagged all of us)."

Followed by a Twitter-synchronised status (Tweetdeck?) saying, "Hanging out w/ my old-time buddies."

Followed by "Laughing so hard, almost choked on my cappucino."

Followed by "Is having a blast."

Followed by "Coolest gathering EVER."

Followed by "(That Guy just posted a photo in the album Cool Gathering)" Photo details: Self-taken where friends are laughing in the background and he's in the foreground doing the Jagger tongue and the "Rock On!" hand sign.

Yep, we get it. You lead a pretty cool life. But only on Facebook. Want to know what kind of photos I would have put for the real you in the RealLifeBook? Here it goes: A photo of you looking down at your phone. Another photo of you glancing at the others for 2 seconds before looking back at your phone (this would be a GIF). Another photo of you just sipping the teh tarik you just called 'cappucino' while texting someone. Another photo of you joining the discussion but someone just hollered you on Twitter so you stopped talking and started getting finger busy again. Another photo of you laughing for no reason with your eyes fixed on your telephone screen. And a photo transcript of the 4 words you actually uttered that night. Dude, there are more words used in your photo caption than what you actually said the whole night. Cool beans!

So next time you see someone saying they're having a blast and flooding your newsfeed with their awesomeness, DON'T believe them. If they were actually having a burn-down-the-house marvellous time, would they actually have the time to flood your Facebook and Twitter newsfeed? I mean, when I'm busy having a great time, I would, you know, make the most of it and actually have a great time. Not stand there with my phone TRYING to make people believe I was having a good time.

Okay I forgot who the other annoying person is, so forget about it. One should do for this time, I guess.

Monday, September 26, 2011


If there's one thing I don't mind splurging for, it's food.

I'm a firm believer that you are what you eat, and that's why I don't buy junk food. I don't buy chips, I don't drink a lot of soda, I don't eat instant food, and I eat lots of veggies even those that I hate (like endives). I can see myself paying for exorbitantly priced seafood like lobster in a Michelin-starred restaurant, but I can never see myself owning things like an iPad or a luxury car. People say it's crazy to spend so much on food because it only lasts 30 seconds in your mouth, 8 hours in your intestines, and forever around your waistline. But I think it's crazier to spend so much on electronic gadgets because seriously, I don't see how an iPad is so different from a laptop that a person would need both. A friend of mine, an iPad owner, told me, "With a laptop, you have to flip the top open for it to function, but with an iPad you can just touch the screen to activate it, and it makes life so much simpler." Yeah, of course, I can see how your unwillingness to take 2 seconds to flip open your laptop justifies your purchase of the iPad.

So now, are we all agreeing that splurging on food is better than splurging on other stuff? Good.

Because I just purchased two different kinds of truffles and they cost me a lot and I refuse to feel guilty that I just used the taxpayers' money to buy them. I've never tried truffles before, and I've heard a lot about them. Today, I saw those fancy small truffle-filled jars so I just picked two of them, closed my eyes, and made the purchase.

I'll tell you how it tastes when I find the courage to actually pry those jars open.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Because To Your Whys

Recently I've been writing more on this blog than on the other one.

At the risk of sounding like an asshole, I must say that it takes me half as long to write something in English and given the fact that I don't have that much free time anymore, it's a lot easier for me to write here.

I love the Malay language to death which is why I rarely use short forms when writing, but I just can't afford to spend more than 15 minutes to write a blog post anymore.

Hope this clears things up.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Still Hate Crocs Though

A couple of years ago I was trekking somewhere and I saw this German guy wearing a pair of five-fingered shoes. It looked so ridiculous my friends and I had to pause for a bit, give each other the eye, and laugh for a good 15 seconds.

I mean, what the hell are those? Some kind of feet gloves? Feet condoms? He didn't care that we were looking at his shoes the whole time, because it was not just us. Everyone on the trip kept glancing at those peculiar shoes.

So the other day during my summer holidays in Malaysia I went jungle trekking. My friend told me it would be a picnic but bitch was probably delusional. It was actually jungle trekking and hiking on a barely visible steep trail. Sometimes we even had to hang on ropes and climb on huge rocks to go forward.

Don't get me wrong, I love hiking. The harder, the better. But if I knew it was going to be a hiking trip, I would have worn proper hiking attire. I wouldn't have been in my cotton Marks & Spencer shorts, green polo, and slippers. And I definitely wouldn't have brought that red picnic basket, 2 picnic mats, a laptop bag where I put all my clothes, and a freaking beach towel. It would have made the trip so much easier.

But I did.

So the whole time we were trekking I felt so out of place. I even went barefoot because slippers and hiking are uh.. just.. no. I mean, every time a person goes hiking in slippers, Sir Edmund Hilary would roll in his grave. Going barefoot makes it easier for you to move, too, because you feel the soil on your skin. If my primary school scout teacher saw me doing this he would have laughed his ass off. I mean, I was such a good scout in primary school. I remember camping at Templer Park and we had to look for bamboo and build furniture out of them. I built a kitchen plate rack like a boss, and won the competition beating 50 other schools. And I was always one of the better ones at hiking too, and this continued all the way to secondary school.

Anyways, I was with my picnic basket and towel and all, when our way was blocked by a huge rock. Bewildered, we looked at the map and yes, we actually had to fucking jump over the rock in order to continue. And to do that, we had to step on this smaller, sharp and pointy rock, swing one foot upward on the huge rock, and hold on to some tree roots and fallen branches for support. So imagine me doing that, barefoot.

During that moment I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if there were shoes that were shaped like real feet, with toes and all, so that you can feel the movement of the earth on your soles, have better grip by moving your toes, all the while having your feet protected? That'd be awesome."

And images of that German guy with the five-fingered shoes flooded my mind, there and then. So thaaat's why he was wearing those ridiculous shoes. Because it was just super practical. With looks like that, those better be comfortable. And I bet they are.

Now that I know how you can hike better barefoot, I'm dying to get my hands on those five-fingered shoes because then it would feel like wearing a condom on your feet. You feel it all, yet you're completely protected. Yep, I'm biting the bullet and eating my own words.

... And On Top Of That, He's Rich.

I want to be rich, of course I do.

But I don't want money to define who I am. I have a cousin (I have lots of cousins) who start getting noticed in the family because for the past couple of years he's been earning big bucks doing some oil and gas stuff. So every time his name is mentioned in the family, it's always followed by "You know, the one who's been going offshore and earning lots of money."

I'm happy for him. I am. But I hope I don't end up being like that. I don't want to live life just being a breadwinner, toiling for money and more money, and be known only as the rich guy. I don't want 'being rich' to become the only thing people remember me by.

I'm currently defined by my family as "the one who's studying in France." And I'm okay with that, because in a couple of years, it's going to be "the one who studied in France, and who's now _____."

But what I want the most in the future is for people to say "You know, the one who's a good friend, a good listener, funny, a good son, a good brother, a good boyfriend/husband, a cool person to hang out with, and a good Muslim. Oh, and he's rich too."

I want the 'rich' part to come last, because it's cool to be rich, but not if that's the only thing that makes you stand out.

Because if one day you get stripped off that wealth (and in today's world this happens very easily), you'll at least have a million other virtues to fall back on and to keep friends by your side.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Put Yourself In A Rapist's Shoes

I read a joke on date-rape drugs on a website (not gonna tell you which one for fear of being called lame and stupid) which I found mildly funny. I was compelled to click on the comments because I sensed a debate was going on.

A lot of people said rape jokes aren't funny OR original, and we shouldn't be laughing at them. My pretentious self had to agree, but my true self actually laughed at the joke so I thought maybe I'm a sick person. Or maybe people are just hypocrite bastards who would secretly laugh at anything but in front of people they'd put on a straight face and say it's sick and wrong to find those things funny.

Someone (a pseudo-troll maybe) said something along the lines of "If a girl lets a stranger buy her drinks all night long and let him around the drinks alone, she deserves to be raped. At least she should have watched him take the drinks from the bartender and give them to her, because then he wouldn't be able to put in the drugs. Didn't her momma teach her better than that?"

And all the other people were like, "So now it's the girl's fault for getting raped? No one deserves getting raped under any circumstances. She should have been more cautious, yes, but she shouldn't have gotten raped."

I agree with both stances, but I agree with the pseudo-troll more (so he/she might not be a troll after all). I'm the only feminist guy I know, so sue me for saying this, but when it comes to sexual stuff, Islam got it right all along. A woman, like it or not, is an impetus. Everything about a woman is a hand grenade waiting to explode. Even smelling a woman's hair from afar can get a guy riled up.

How do I know this? Well, I'm a guy. I have amazing willpower and self-control, but I have a lot of friends who don't. They're not rapists, mind you. But some of them can get off by just looking at a fully-clothed girl's photos on Facebook. And these are normal-looking people you'd find in offices and on the street. How can you tell apart rapists from other men? It's simple. You can't.

My point is, women today can't be too cautious. Someone (ahem) even told me a story about a
16-year-old girl in Pahang who got pregnant by her 13 year-old brother. That's why women have more aurah to cover than men, because women can radiate sexual vibes from the most unsuggestive body parts. And that's why in Malaysia we need at least 3 bedrooms in a household so as to separate the parents, the boys and the girls.

It's still not their fault for getting raped, but it's their fault for not having enough common sense. If you see a landmine with a sign saying "This MIGHT be a landmine", would you still go and step on it? No. And if you did, is it your fault that you just lost a limb? No, it's the fault of the aforementioned landmine, because if it weren't there, you wouldn't have lost a limb. But is it your fault for being so stupid so as to step on it despite the sign saying it MIGHT be a landmine? Absofuckinglutely.

So if a girl dresses provocatively, goes to a club and lets an unknown guy buy her drinks without supervision, I totally see why she MIGHT get raped. It's not her fault that she's a woman, but it is her fault for being so stupid.

You can't just happily jaywalk in a war-zone, assuming the best in people and HOPING there wouldn't be landmines scattered everywhere, now can you?

That Would Be Cool

The most polite travellers I've met during my travels have been the Americans.

While everybody else keeps showering praises on their homelands, Americans seem almost apologetic when saying "I come from The United States." As if they knew how the world sees them so it is each citizen's duty to apologize for the stupidity of their government whenever they go abroad.

Come to think of it, no, they never say "I come from The United States." They'll directly tell you which state/city they come from as if people know where it is (and people do know). Like these girls I met in Galway, Ireland, when asked where they came from, they answered "California" because they assumed people knew they were Americans. Just last week I met a cute elderly couple who got lost in Paris, and they said they came from "San Fran."

Ah, the beauty of being the American traveller. You don't even have to say you come from America. Heck you don't even need to say San Francisco. San Fran would suffice. Sometimes people will even ask "Where exactly in San Fran?", because American cities are just too well-known like that.

I'm not complaining about Malaysia, though. I don't want to be American, otherwise I'd be fat and miserable ("But you already are fat and miserable?" Yeah, shut up and go play in traffic.) I don't want my country to be so well-known that people the world over know more about my country's politics than I do. I remember talking to this Kansas girl about the American economy and she was like, "Really? They do that?". It was cute but also disturbing at the same time.

However, it would actually be great if my saying "I'm from Malaysia" wasn't met with confused reaction, prompting people to ask the following questions, "Where exactly is it?" "Is it part of Indonesia?" "Oh, that country wedged between Singapore and Thailand?" (How can Malaysia be wedged by Singapore and Thailand when Singapore is not even a tenth of its size, not to mention both countries are separated by sea? That's like saying an elephant is wedged between a tree and a gravel stone across the river.)

But the best question I've gotten in the past is, "You're Malaysian? I'm sorry if this sounds racist but... you don't look African at all?" I guess she confused Malaysia with Mali or Malawi. A couple of years ago a French friend of mine asked me "So, how poor is Malaysia?". I told him in an obviously sarcastic manner, "Very poor. The most recent technology we got was the curtain." He actually believed it. It is disturbing to know that your country is so obscure that people would believe it if you say you still live in the jungle with the chimps and the gorillas.

I dream of the day when Malaysia is known all over the world and I don't have to tell people that we, too, have TV and the Internet, and no, we don't live on trees. Would it be great if I could just skip the whole "okay here's the map of the world and Malaysia is right over here" thing and just tell people I come from Cheras? No, not even Kuala Lumpur, not even KL, but Cheras, and everyone would recognize it.

And if I'm lucky enough, people will ask me "Where in Cheras, exactly?"

That would be really cool.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Went to Old Town Coffee. Asked for an Iced Lemon Tea, and the waitress said "Do you want your iced lemon tea hot or cold?"

I was intrigued. Hot iced lemon tea sounds tempting. To find a barista that is able to defy the laws of science to keep an iced lemon tea at boiling point, now that's quite a pickle.

But I didn't want to be a smart-ass so I asked for a cold iced lemon tea.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Best Torture?

I'm watching something on TV that reminds me of this girl in my Islamic education class in Year 5. Yeah, like 13 years ago.

We were learning about reproduction, and it was actually the first time we learned the actual names of reproductive parts. Well of course a lot of the terms are derived from Arabic as if they sound more elegant in the holy language.

The teacher was very matter-of-fact because she was trying to be clear and informative. You know, it's never easy teaching kids about sexual intercourse but I think she nailed it (pun totally intended).

So there's this one girl who kept making sad faces while the teacher was very graphically explaining how to do the nasty and get babies. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "I can't believe what my parents had to go through to make me. It makes me love them even more. To think that I have 4 big brothers and sisters, meaning that including me, they had to do all those things 5 times! I'm glad my mom told me I'll be her last child. That means she'll never have to go through all that sex stuff ever again."

Come to think of it now, that was very cute of her. She actually thought that sex was some kind of torture you have to endure in order to beget a child.

If that were the case, I'm pretty sure teenage pregnancy wouldn't be as rampant and rapists would be non-existent.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device via Vodafone-Celcom Mobile.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Believer's Real Home

A couple of years ago, I met a Persian guy somewhere in Italy. We talked about a lot of things. And by a lot, I mean we actually spent hours just sitting and chatting in front of this square overlooking a huge fountain.

"You're a Malaysian Muslim right?" he asked me. I nodded. "Ramadan is coming. Are you really going to do it? It's summer, it's like 40 degrees out, and the day is reeeeally long."

I told him I'd try. I've been doing it my whole life in Malaysia and it's not exactly chilly there either. It's all about willpower.

"Why are you asking? Aren't you going to have to do the same thing as well?" I asked.

"Nahh.. I was born and raised a Muslim, in Iran. But now I'm pretty much agnostic, I don't do Ramadan," he replied.

"So you don't believe in the afterlife? Hell and heaven?"

"Well, I do believe in God. But all the other stuff sounds made up," he said, followed by a pregnant pause. He obviously was thinking of something and choosing the right words to express his following thoughts.

"The thing is," he continued, "I watched my people get oppressed since my early childhood, all in the name of God. Hell I, too, was oppressed, only I was too young to realize it and thought that was how Islam was supposed to be. When I had the chance to go overseas, I saw different things that made me second guess my culture and eventually give up my faith altogether. By the time I discovered the real teachings of Islam, I was already too pissed to actually consider going back to it."

His voice trailed off, so I remained silent.

"Every time my people got shit thrown in their faces, the only thing they'd say was 'Let's all just persevere and get through this. We'll all get the best reward in the end. Jannah (heaven). That's what God promises us.'"

He then looked me straight in the eye and said, "And those wishful words make me hope there is actually Heaven, because these people really deserve to be in it."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The only way not to give a shit about something is to actually not give a shit about it.

If you complain, or rant, or become infuriated, or write a Facebook status saying "You don't like me? I don't give a shit", that means you actually give a shit. In fact, all kinds of reaction towards something are signs enough that you give a shit.

For example, a bush on the roadside is something people really never give a shit about. Nobody ever tweets, "Wow, a bush on the roadside!", since people are very genuinely indifferent to bushes on the roadside because bushes don't really have any impact on their lives. 

If you really don't give a shit, the only way to show it is by not acknowledging it at all. If someone unfriends you on Facebook prompting you to write "Who do you think you are? It's a good thing you unfriended me because honestly I don't give a shit", you're clearly the sore loser in this battle because you just proved to the world that you actually give a whole lot of shit to his unfriending your sorry ass.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Wagyu Beef

For all steak lovers out there, you just have to try Tony Roma's Wagyu Ribeye Steak. I had always wanted to try the very sought after wagyu beef, and after my first taste of its heavenly juiciness, I know for sure that all the other beefs are never going to be good enough anymore.

It costs a pretty penny, but if you really really love steak the way I do, I can guarantee that it'll be well worth the money. It literally melts in your mouth.

That is, if you order it rare or medium rare. If you're thinking of ordering it well done, then there's no use in forking out RM 120 for the wagyu. Might as well just go to a run of the mill steakhouse and order a normal black pepper steak.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Manama, Bahrain

Dear Bahrain,

There's no use having a 3000 sq ft of duty free stores if you don't have any ATM machines.

Mr. Too Cool To Carry Cash

Last week we were frolicking at the beach in the south of France when someone broke into my friend's apartment where I was crashing, and stole a whole bunch of stuff including my perfume (so if you see some scruffy, barely literate person walking around the south of France smelling so good, you know you've found the thief). So now I'm walking around unscented and have the smell of 9 hours on an airplane on me. That's when I thought I should buy a new perfume. So I asked the guy at the airport info point where the nearest ATM machine was. His infuriating answer was, "We used to have 4 machines. Now we have none."

It was as if someone told me Starbucks stopped selling coffee. It makes zero sense.

"So how are people supposed to purchase stuff from your humongous duty free store?" I asked, annoyed.

"They go to the money changer and get themselves all the dinars they need," he said with a smirk.

This is one of the drawbacks of relying too much on your credit card. When you're in a foreign country where ATM machines are scarce (even at the airport WTF??) and stores don't accept credit cards, you don't know what to do. I scraped my bag for every piece of euro notes and coins that I had, and in the end I managed to get the money changer to give me 7 Bahrain dinars which is just enough to get me 2 hot dogs, a Sprite and fries at JASMI'S, the local fast food chain.

Bahrain is an oven. I've been to Dubai, Qatar and Jordan and I know how hot it is on this side of the world. But that doesn't mean I'm used to it. We're in the middle of summer but it was still 15°-20° in Paris when I left France, so I'm not really used to practically having the sun breathing on my back. Taxi drivers here (like taxi drivers everywhere) are big cheats. The trick of the trade is to appear nonchalant when hailing a taxi, and act like you know Manama (the capital city) like the back of your hand. That's what I did, and I was charged 4 dinars to get to the city centre.

Okay need to look for power source for my computer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Impending Death of 3D Movies

Let's talk movies.

This year has been very disappointing, movie-wise. I saw Bad Teacher last week and it sucked. Well, granted, I saw the Spanish-dubbed version because I was in Valencia so I didn't get all the jokes but even then, I could still see that the film sucked ass. As for Justin Timberlake, he's as good an actor as David Hasselhoff is a singer, and that's NOT a compliment. Moral of the story is: Stick to what you do best (not that David Hasselhoff is an excellent actor, but for Hollywood, he's tolerable).

Then again, Justin Timberlake is still lightyears better than Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in the latest Harry Potter. Yes folks, I watched the last installment of the Harry Potter series for the sole reason that someone literally dragged me to the movies, paid for my ticket and forced me to watch it. I fell asleep for 15 minutes before waking up, more determined than ever to understand the Harry Potter hype once and for all. I remember sitting through the first movie and telling myself that Emma Watson was really cute, but she had no clue about acting. During the last movie, I still thought she was cute (maybe even 'hot', now that she's no longer a minor) and her voice has matured, but she's still as stiff as a morning wood. It's surprising to see Daniel Radcliffe still struggling to be convincing as an actor, because he's done Broadway, and Broadway is the birthplace of excellent thespians. As for the ginger one who plays Ron, I think he did okay. And Ralph Fiennes is great as Voldemort, but then again he's always been great so no surprise there. And the film itself? Personally I think it's shitty. Well, I might not be in the position to judge because I've never read the book and I don't know what the hell they were running around, fighting gargoyles, chasing dragons, lashing out stupid Latin terms at strange looking creatures for. But I do know that the film wasn't as good as it should have been, because a friend of mine who's possibly the most gigantic Harry Potter fan (the one responsible for dragging me to the movies) said so.

And I still think 3D movies are a rip off. I strongly believe the novelty of 3D movies has worn off and in all honesty, we can all do away with those 3D glasses. It gives me headache, and it's not all that magical.


I was browsing through the magazine section of a Relay store at a Parisian railway station, thinking I should probably start reading more printed newspaper and magazines. I've always read books and novels on the train, but sometimes it bores me. Yes, I do get bored with books sometimes, especially if the book I had intended to read through the whole journey turned out to be crappy and I've no other reading materials.

I had forgotten how many magazines there are in circulation today. And at any Parisian train stations, given the number of tourists, they always have a whole section dedicated to foreign publications. I was spoilt for choice. I remembered buying a lot of magazines as a kid, and everytime I went to the bookstore I would feel like I was already in the future because in the beginning of June, you can already buy the July issue of any magazine. Now somehow, I felt weird browsing through the magazines. It's like I was revisiting an old hobby.

It's funny how at the forefront of the store they always put the trashy magazines, with headlines ranging from "Which D-list celebrity cheated on her E-list celebrity husband" to "How To Intensify Your Orgasm". And women flock to these magazines like moths to flames. I'm not judging these women because you don't need an intellectual read for a 2-hour train ride. And these magazines cost a mere 1 euro, and with the amount of who-cares crap you can know about your favourite TV star, it's actually value for your money.

And for the guys, they had all kinds of themed magazines, and it's surprising how specific these themes can be. You have "Sports Cars" or "Headphones" or "English Premier League" or "The iPad Magazine" or "Speakers" or "The Hunting Digest" or "The Fisherman's Digest" or even maybe "The Hammer Magazine". You name a masculine tool, I can show you an entire magazine dedicated to it. My knowledge of hammers is limited to "they drive nails into things", and that's about it. So I wonder if these magazines are issued every month because with almost 200 pages per issue, this must mean that there's a HUGE SHITLOAD of things I don't know about hammers. Or maybe hammers have a kinky lifestyle of their own in a parallel universe that you can only discover by buying the magazine. I, for one, don't care about hammers all that much so no thank you.

Since I had a 10-hour train ride, I needed something insightful, with varied topics, not too heavy (like Business Week), not too trashy, not too adult but not too young. And most importantly, not too expensive (all the imported magazines cost quite a penny). After much deliberation, surprisingly I chose GQ France. In other countries, GQ is the magazine with topless women on the cover, and it covers topics like "How To Get Her Off In 10 Steps". But to my surprise, in France they've chosen a completely different route, a lot classier and a lot more French. They put the legendary footballer Michel Platini on the cover and they talk about sportsmen, about stars fallen from grace like Mel Gibson, they interview female politicians and ask them about their lives in a male-dominated world, they had a geography section where they discuss Namibia, they have articles on obscure French cologne brands. They have French footballer Florent Malouda posing for the fashion spreads, making it appealing to the mostly male readers because, although they're not homophobic, seeing effeminate men modelling men clothes doesn't really speak to them.

And it cost 3.50€. So I bought it, and after a 10-hour train ride to the south of France, I reckoned it was a good choice.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Napoleon Dynamite: Story of My Life

Someone told me I should loosen up and stop being the nerdiest, most boring person ever.

Let's see. Every day, at 6.05pm without fail, I'll be in front of my TV to watch Questions Pour Un Champion, a French general knowledge quiz show akin to the American Jeopardy. I even registered myself on their website to be a contestant. Earlier this year, the production came to my town and invited me to participate in the preliminary test comprising of 50 very difficult, random general knowledge questions encompassing themes from science, mathematics, mythology, art, literature, cinema, gastronomy, music, history and everything in between. I got 13 answers right, but I needed at least 20 to qualify for the second round. And I was the only person in the room who knew the answer to "What is the name of an energy center in tantra?", the answer being "chakra". I was quite disappointed for not making the next round, but I was still quite proud of myself for being one of the youngest participants that day and the only non-French in the room.

I spend my days reading books or surfing the net just reading trivial stuff. My favourite Internet-related pastime is clicking on a random Wiki page and just keep on clicking on subsequent interesting links I see on each page, just reading away. Since I was young, I love committing silly little facts to memory for no reason.

As much as I say I hate computer-related stuff, I can get very easily engrossed in computer programming. I remember spending 3 straight days of April in front of my PC building a math program using C language. To do this, I had to construct algorithms from scratch and by the end, I had almost 15 pages of algorithms consisting of mathematical equations transformed into loops. Programming is all about the maths. I told everyone it was hell, but actually I secretly enjoyed it because after all the debugging was done, I had a beautiful, flawlessly functioning program that allows people to solve complicated matrix problems like a boss. And as much as I hate computer-related stuff, I managed to repair my old computer quite a number of times on my own, and it worked great for 5 years.

I like watching old movies, all the way back to the silent era. I have a huge collection of them, and my friends used to call my external hard disk "the hard disk of death" because according to them, just browsing through the list of films I had made them want to hang themselves. I organize my movie collection based on the genre, then the year of release, and then the director. In two weeks, I'll be attending a Stanley Kubrick retrospective held by a small movie theatre in my town.

I love museums. I can spend hours just looking at one painting. I studied about art movements. I read extensively on impressionism. I love Claude Monet, and one of my biggest dreams is to go to the MoMA in New York.

I love philosophy and can talk for hours about Jean Paul Sartre.

Most of all, I'm finishing my master's degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I'm fascinated by fluid mechanics.

So in short, yes, I am the most boring, nerdiest person in the world, and I'm actually proud of it. What's wrong with being a nerd anyway? A couple of years ago I tried to be one of the cool guys, but I felt like I fell short.

Being cool is awesome. Everyone adores you and wants to be like you, but at the end of the day all that pretense wears you down and all you want to do is just be yourself and do the things you really like no matter what people say.

Since I was a little boy I've never been one of the cool kids. Even in my family I've always stood out as the nerdy bespectacled boy (I'm the only one of my siblings to wear glasses). So I don't see why I should start caring about being the cool kid now. If being a nerd means being ambitious, having goals and a passion in life, then please God let me be the biggest nerd out there.

So to all the nerds out there, don't let the cool people bring you down. Do what makes you the happiest. If people slag you off for being a nerd, just remember that Jim Parson, the actor from The Big Bang Theory, is one of the highest paid actors on TV right now for playing Sheldon Cooper, the most humongous nerd of all time. So who's cool now, eh?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's Just All Get Along

"Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Adolf Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers."

- Yusuf Al -Qaradawi, 28 Jan. 2009, Al-Jazeera

Since when are religious leaders allowed to incite the killing of another human being and segregate people by choice of faith? In this day and age, I don't get how people can still endorse the Holocaust. This man, who is considered to be the most respected Islamic ideologist in the world, has set Islam back 200 years and give it a bad name. How can Hitler's killing of the Jews be considered 'divine punishment' when neither Hitler, nor the Nazis, represent divinity?

If that's not enough, his blatant criticism of the Shiites being heretics has probably incited civil wars between the Sunnis and the Shiites, both being of the Muslim faith. So, not only he wants the Muslims to hate the Jews, he also wants them to hate other Muslims from different schools of thought. He knows that there are people who hold on to his every word, those mindless fanatics who live without bothering to think for themselves. Thus, whatever he says can have major consequences on the Muslim world, and how Islam is perceived by the outside world.

If there's one thing in common among the Bahrain Uprising, the Cyprus dispute, the Lebanon conflict, the Bosnian war, the Palestinian war, the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Liberian conflict, the Mindanao unrest in the Philippines, the South Thailand insurgencies and even the great American War on Terror, it is the use of God's name to justify mass murders (and I don't think it's a coincidence that all of the conflicts stated above involve Muslims). Where religion is supposed to guide people and give solutions, it has become the cause of the problems.

I love Islam and have seen its beauty in depth, but the Muslims are the problem. The hypocrisy, the hate and the intolerance. I've never seen more hypocrites than in my country Malaysia, where people judge people for almost everything and where the holier-than-thou attitude is just widespread. It's like everybody's looking around for bigger sinners than they are. Those who pray five times a day would see others as slacking Muslims. Those who don't pray five times a day would say, "At least I still wear the hijab and cover my aurah." Those who don't wear the hijab would say, "There's no use putting on the hijab if the rest of your outfit is body-hugging." But both would agree that people who drink alcohol are worse than them, and people who drink alcohol would say, "Well as long as I don't eat pork." And those who eat pork would say, "Well what's the use of being a devout Muslim and praying 5 times a day and not eating pork if you're doing it just to show off to people that you're a better Muslim. That's riak (bragging) and the Prophet frowns upon that, it's the worst thing ever," and that brings us back to the devout Muslim who prays 5 times a day and who doesn't eat pork and who judges people who don't perform their 5 daily prayers, and so on and so forth.

In the end, everyone finds a bigger sinner than they are and they'll live happily ever after. The vicious cycle of hypocrisy benefits all Muslims.

So in the words of the aptly named band War, "Why can't we be friends?"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Living On Plastic

I rely a lot on my debit card. I seldom carry cash around, for two reasons: coins are heavy and banknotes get lost easily. And of course, because most shops in France accept debit/credit cards.

I love it that I can just go out anywhere carrying just a piece of plastic. It's like having a very, very thin wallet, only thinner. Aha. If I'm carrying cash and it gets stolen, it's real money I'll never see again. On the other hand, if my card gets stolen, I can just call my bank and cancel it without a cent of my money budging from my account. That's the beauty of having the Carte Bleue system in France. All debit/credit cards are smart cards with PIN codes, so if they get stolen, the only way they can be used is using the Internet. Even then, they can trace where the Internet purchase was being made and might catch the thief. Either way, the cardholder will not be charged.

When I go back to Malaysia for good, I'll insist on having a debit card, not a credit card. With a debit card, the money is taken from your bank account right away after payment, and payment is refused if you don't have enough funds. This way, I'll be prudent with my money and only buy things I can afford. Using a credit card is basically just borrowing money from the bank and repaying the debts at the end of every month, which can be very, very dangerous because swiping your credit card at the cashier really feels like you're creating money out of thin air.

Now I have another reason to be prudent: my banker just called me and offered me a Visa Premier (you know, that shiny gold card) due to my "unwavering loyalty and trust in our services". Translation: We see you as a big spender and we'd like you to spend even more. I told him I thought I was too young to carry such a fancy card ('being too young' is my excuse for everything). But he pointed out that in the past 4 years I've called him many, many times to ask for an override in weekly payment limit, because sometimes I needed to pay for things like flight tickets and hotel bookings and stuff, and the payment limit of my current card doesn't allow me to. He told me with Visa Premier I would have a much higher payment limit, so this very irritating problem can be avoided.

I was still on the fence, until he told me the other advantages I would get with a Premier card which include travel insurance (flight cancellations for any reason and lost luggage), and 25-30% discount on car rentals. On top of that, since I'm not yet 25 years old, the exorbitant monthly fee for Visa Premier is waived. And in certain airports I might be able to enjoy the airport lounges as a card holder. That was when I got sold hook, line and sinker. It's a win-win.

But I told him I still needed him to call me every few months to advice me on my spending, or every time there's an anomaly in my Visa activities. That's why I love my banker. I don't know if it's me being naive, but he always seems like he has my best interest at heart. Our relationship might be platonic, but it's one of the most meaningful relationships I've had in recent years. He even called me when I was on a cruise in Turkey 2 years ago to remind me about the Euro-Turkish Lira currency conversion rate and to tell me how much I've spent up to that point of my travel and that I should be careful not to splurge on unnecessary stuff. It's kind of like having your parents breathing on your neck all the time, but I feel like I needed it otherwise I'd spend beyond my means without realizing it.

I know I'm contributing to the capitalist system, but I've never thought of capitalism as a bad thing. So the guilty conscience just doesn't exist. Some people regard the use of payment cards as evil, I see it as a practical way of spending. I can be a big spender, but I'm never reckless with my spending. As long as I don't feel the urges to live beyond my means and abuse my credit cards, I think I'll be fine.