Saturday, June 30, 2012

Patriotic, I am.

I'm having the worst case of lower back pain but yesterday I decided to give it a big f-you and go play squash.

It was my third or fourth time and I totally enjoyed it. It's a very intensive sport where you have to sprint in short distances during the whole match and hit the ball with all your might to ensure it goes bouncing at a high speed randomly across the walls and trap your opponent. Much like swimming, you don't feel tired while playing squash. But later when you've finished a match, you'll realize that you're sweating like a pig, you're crying for air, and you have never wanted water so bad in your life.

After the game, we went to pay and I saw this huge poster of Nicol David hanging next to the till. I was so proud that I blurted out to the guy, "Hey, you know that this girl is the best squash player in the world and she's Malaysian? I'm Malaysian too!"

The guy was like, "Of course I know Nicol David and that she's Malaysian." And he smiled at me.

I felt stupid. The guy worked at the squash courts, of course he's good at squash and naturally, he'd know who Nicol David was and where she came from. I am just so used to having to introduce Malaysia to the world that I forgot how, in some very specific fields, Malaysia doesn't need introduction.

Nevertheless, seeing a poster of a famous Malaysian athlete made my day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reading shit is better than not reading at all

I go to 9Gag for cheap laughs. Nowadays it's almost always repeat jokes and stale stolen gags from other sites, but for some reason I still find myself typing "9" on the address bar, scrolling down, and clicking on the first link every once in a while.

I don't get the double standard on that site. It mocks people who like Nicki Minaj, Twilight and Justin Bieber, but gives too much praise on Harry Potter as if it is real literature. Please, I don't see any difference between Harry Potter and Twilight. Both are void of aesthetics. Maybe they have storyline, but we don't read books solely for the storyline. In fact, I read books for the emotion, for the language, for the wonderment of how much thought the writer puts on a simple phrase, for the use of words, for the witty ways to describe each and every character so the reader can vividly imagine how he/she looks like, for the ways they qualify the crispness of the air, or the excruciating cold, or the sweltering heat, or simply the butterflies a little boy feels in his tummy when the babysitter he has a crush on comes to babysit him at 10 o'clock every morning while his mom goes grocery shopping. All of which cannot be adequately translated onto the silver screen no matter how much we try. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but it sometimes leaves out ten thousand more.

As my mom says, a book today is written in scenes, and we read them as if we're watching a movie, which is not what a book is all about. And writers like Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Stieg Larsson, John Grisham, Dan Brown etc., they don't write books, they write screenplays, and screenplays care a lot less about aesthetics which makes reading a lot less enjoyable.

That being said, I don't have anything against Harry Potter or Twilight. I mean, yes, I classify both of them as rubbish literature, but not a long time ago I realized that we shouldn't be against anything that gets kids today to actually read. Most people in the civilized world are literate, but people still make a huge deal out of people who actually read, and those who read are very proud of their penchant for the written words. We are living in a world where working out and reading are accessible to almost everyone, but are somehow regarded as activities for a chosen few. Of course I'd prefer if my kid would read Pushkin rather than Stephanie Meyer, but if reading Stephanie Meyer keeps them away from watching MTV, doing drugs, drinking, and getting (a girl) pregnant, then I'd buy them all the Stephanie Meyer books they want.

The point of this post is, 9Gag should stop its double standards on people's taste. If it wants to mock Twilight, it should mock all other writers of the same caliber. Otherwise they should stop making fun of people who read, regardless of their choice in reading materials.

Honestly, if I can get my youngest brother to read even Harry Potter rather than spending so much time on 9Gag, I'd be happy enough.