Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: Interchange

Exiting the cinema after watching Interchange, I was overcome with intense anger. It has been a week and I have calmed down a lot.

This is me being personal: I was cheering for this movie. I wanted it to be good. Dain Said is my favourite Malaysian director for Bunohan, which I think is the best Malaysian movie ever made. So regardless how Interchange was going to turn out, I still consider him as number one.

At least until some other director makes a better movie than Bunohan, which, looking at some of the stuff that will come out, is not that far away.

I also know some personal friends who worked on the movie and I wanted to say nice things about their work.

Plus, 2016 has been a horrible year for a lot of people. The energy I have been sensing is mean-spirited and sometimes stupid or evil, which are basically the same things. I just needed to see some glimmer of hope, and I wanted Interchange - yes, a movie - to show me some hope.

BUT.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths, Synopsis first. Synopsis first.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
(As if it makes any difference.)

Interchange is about a series of gruesome murders that leave the victims drained of blood, with their veins and arteries on the outside. There are puncture wounds on the bodies, and tribal beads or something beneath their eyelids, plus feathers of extinct birds at the scene of all the crimes.

Detektif Man (Shaheizy Sam) is investigating the murders in his suit, because this is not Malaysia, but a city called Metropolis without Superman, and he ropes in forensic photographer Adam (Iedil Putra).

For a murder mystery, there is only one group of suspects working together - Iva (Prisia Nasution) , Belian (Nicolas Saputra), Sani (Nadiya Nisaa) and a guy running a photo shop (Chew Kin Wah).

Seeing Red

In short, I can say the movie is visually stunning. And nothing else.

There are some shots that are just splendid. One in particular had Adam (Iedil Putra) and Iva (Prisia Nasution) standing on the balconies of their apartments, facing each other. So close (just two elevator rides away) and yet so far. That's just brilliant work from Dain and cinematographer Jordan Wei.

Adam's introduction as he wakes up to a collage of photos he has been taking - all of the people 'trapped' in the modern birdcage that is urban living, the motif of bars and isolation to further reinforce the idea that these people are captive to something. It's just beautiful.

The neo-noir shots are good - the mood is all great and dark and whatever. The tribal stuff is cool. The locations made to look nothing like what they really are. All signs of expert handling of the camera.

There is really a lot of thought, care and effort put into these shots. I almost wish I had watched the movie with the sound muted.

Because everything else sucked. Like, really bad.

The Sound and the Fury

First up, the dialects. Was this supposed to be Sabah? Sarawak? Some weird amalgamation of the two states? Adam talks like a Sabahan with brain damage, which he could actually be. Detektif Man speaks KL BM. Iva and Nicolas Saputra sounds Indonesian, but maybe I'm biased.

Sani, though, sounded like she was channeling Siti Tanjung Perak. A most disconcerting inconsistency of dialects.

The characters are not characters - they are symbols. They don't talk like normal humans, they don't really move like you or me and the acting was stilted and awkward with no chemistry whatsoever. The dialogue was horrible simply because they are not what human characters would say and don't say things how humans would say it. They mouth off these lines because they are merely symbols - puppets for a concept.

This is crucial because halfway through the movie, I couldn't care less if all of them were attacked by Alfred Hitchcock's birds from The Birds or Big Bird from Sesame Street. When the audience can't empathise with the characters - because they are not human - then there's a big problem IF you want people to care about the stakes and the story.

Staking the Plot

Which I suspect the film doesn't want you to. Because there are no stakes whatsoever. And there isn't much of a story. There are so many holes in the plot, it hinders any suspension of disbelief. In fact, the suspension of disbelief was more on how could it be this nonsensical?

There was a scene when Adam first went into the evidence room of Metropolis PD. He just went in and flipped a few boxes over, until the lone security person who was manning the place came back and told him to knock it off.

Really? A police evidence room less guarded than my old high school library? Seriously? I had to do some Jason Bourne shit to steal books from my high school library. Even made some oversized pockets for my bespoke pants early in the year.

Anyway, consider this evidence room scene with the documents room scene in Apprentice. In Apprentice, you feel the fear of being caught, the claustrophobia and whatever intense emotion enclosed in just a tiny space. In Interchange, it was like "what the fuck are these boxes doing here, man?" And Adam did those things with no repercussion.

There are so many things that don't make sense, and it's not just a man turning into a bird like in Manimal.

The reveal was that the 'victims' of these murders were tribal people whose photos were taken by some white dudes. Because they believe that their souls are captured, their souls REALLY are captured in the photo plates and they become immortals.

And after a mere century, they are all emo tribal goths trying to end their lives because life is so unbearable. Really? After a measly 100 years? There are people today who have lived over 100 years. If you ask them today, would they want to die, I predict most would say no.

If it was 1,000 years, then yes, I believe that is plausible but then there would be no cameras back then. But I don't want to live that long anyway, so yeah, let's give that the benefit of the doubt.

And then, if you REALLY wanted to ensure your ritualistic suicide is not interrupted by, say, the police, you can just gather everyone in a warehouse or a secluded retreat and kill everyone, one by one.

Adam was roped in by a femme fatale (Iva) for absolutely no reason. Detektif Man, and Shaheizy Sam gave the most believable performance,  also at one point said, "You can take anyone else, but not Adam!"

WHY?

No relationship that would prompt such an outburst so close to the 'climax' was ever hinted at. Was it homosexual? Pedagogical? Financial, maybe? I dunno, man. Seems weird.

I was half-expecting Detektif Man (for mankind, maybe? How the normal man can't possibly fathom the intricate symbolism of these characters) to turn into a tiger and reveal Adam is the Chosen One who could kill immortals like him.

And then we'd have a Birdman vs Were-tiger thing in our hands and I would watch the shit out of that movie.

Some scenes are seared into my brain. Like how Iva awkwardly dropped a tribal knife in front of Adam. It was made to be so deliberate, I just. I just can't. Running out of steam here.

Nitpicking

Talking about steam... never mind. If you have too many plot holes, and all movies have them, the audience will stop focusing on the story and start picking on details. And there were so many to pick.

Iva had this thing about ice. She would chew on them, ask for them but NEVER ran the ice cubes down her body. What the fuck? Was she trying to be sensual? Signifying that she is so organic and passionate inside even though her outside demeanour could freeze your weekly groceries?

Then there's Belian. He's some sort of totem or God and his name seems to indicate him as either a diamond (in the rough?), or a dowry or some shit you buy.

In the end, the story of Interchange could have been about how we are all trapped in modernisation, colonialisation and whatnot, and the only way out is to let a birdman suck all your blood and take you to the skies. Perhaps the skies refer to lofty artistic ideals?

I am left disappointed with Interchange. But that's my fault. I had unrealistic expectations that it could never fulfill. I wanted it to be a movie and not an art-piece that by right should have been muted.

1/5

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hanyut: A Review Before I Forget

I had high hopes for Hanyut, along with Interchange. And we all pay for our expectations.

I mean, with an RM18 million budget, one of the most renowned directors Malaysia has ever seen at the helm, plus one of the best Malaysian actresses to have ever graced the silver screen, what could go wrong?

The answer, seems to be everything.

First, there are vicious behind-the-scenes stories that are even more swashbuckling than the tale and the characters in the movie. The fact that it premiered in Indonesia first despite being made in part with Malaysian taxpayer dollars has always been puzzling to me.

The movie was reportedly:


produced using the accumulation of a RM10 million loan from Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN), a RM6 million grant from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and a RM2 million investment from FINAS. 
- Source


That's enough money to make 36 bad Malaysian movies or three mediocre ones.

The buzz around the film festivals where it was shown was not that encouraging, and it even had two Facebook pages promoting it. One in English that stopped being active in 2013 or so and another that started right after that. Wonder what's the story behind that.

Anyway, after getting rid of a dreadful early poster and shelving all the backstage shenanigans, the film was finally going to open in Malaysia... to lacklustre fanfare.

Promotions for movies such as The Journey, Polis Evo and Ola Bola were so potent that you couldn't help but notice them. Granted, this cost millions of dollars but for a movie that cost RM18 million, Hanyut didn't even have a premiere or gala night, did they? This is something even small movies like Pecah had.

Anyway, though the tale of the making of Hanyut will entertain and confound humanity for decades on end, let's look at the film itself.

Hanyut is based on Joseph Conrad's Almayer's Folly. An early novel about a Dutch man in a Borneo jungle, looking for gold.

The movie starts quite promisingly, with a scene of Mem (Datin Sofia Jane) having her daughter Nina forcibly separated from her by her husband Kaspar Almayer (Peter O'Brien).

It seems, however, that the character Mem was broken from this point on to become a cackling, mentally-disturbed woman. And that's all she is. A bitter, spiteful hag who doesn't look like a hag because Sofia is a stunning woman.

Her talents are wasted as she gives a performance perhaps more suitable for a stage play rather than a movie. The emphasized words and manner of speaking feels so put on. The fact that she looks to be almost bursting out in tears in most scenes is quite disappointing, having known the actress' capabilities on screen and on stage with earlier roles.

Almayer's quests are trying to find the mountain of gold Mem's father had told him about AND finding a place for himself. Almayer's very obvious longing for home is shown with his constant talk of moving back to the Netherlands even though he has never been there, having been born in Singapore.

This was also represented as the unfinished construction of a grand house he wishes to live in. The house is called Almayer's Folly by some white people - as in it is a folly to try and build something like that in a Borneo jungle. However, this point, that is the title of the book it was based on, is hardly explored further than one or two throwaway lines.

Key to Almayer's plot to find the gold is his dealings with a Malay prince - Dain Something-Something (Adiputra). Now Dain (or Daeng? Ahaaaaa) is also seen as a pirate to some. Almayer needs Dain to go on an expedition to find the mountain of gold

There are other players in the fray - Raja Ibrahim (El Manik) and his deputy Orang Kaya Tinggi (Khalid Salleh), Abdullah (Alex Komang) and nephew Sayed Rashid (Bront Palarae) some white guys (the British) and oddly-enough, a scorned kuih-seller.

When an older Nina (Diana Danielle) arrives from Singapore, things get more complicated as Dain takes a liking to her and arranges to take her away with support from Mem, behind Almayer's back.

Sayed Rashid tried to marry Nina early on but was refused by Almayer. This plot point lead to absolutely nothing and Sayed and uncle Abdullah remains in the story as the designated assholes for the rest of the movie.

Nina is a character shown to have inherited her parents' longing for a home, like her father, albeit for a family with no more fighting as well as a sense of having been betrayed, like her mother.

Diana did a decent job, but there's nothing here to shout about. Dain's character seems intriguing in the beginning but in the end turned out to just be that. He is a schemer shifting between Raja Ibrahim and Almayer and that is good, for a while. His dialogue with OKT and Raja Ibrahim are some of the best in the movie, especially with the use of indirect language.

However, pity Adiputra as the movie deemed it necessary to subtitle his speech in English but not sub any of the white people. His accent is not atrocious or hardly noticeable at all,  or the Singaporean education system has failed as much as the Malaysian one. For a movie that shows how Malays dealt with the colonialists in the past, it seems to also demonstrate how we deal with them today.

Back to the story. Throw in a murder, gunpowder, treason and plot, and you have the ingredients for a very good Hallmark movie.

Unfortunately, the movie never managed to harness all these things or even go firmly in any direction for the characters or the story. Almayer's revelations about his motivations are patchy at best, and shifts between going back to the Netherlands and finishing his goddamned house. Decide, man! Or shift and make the shift noticeable. Or show you pivot between the two as a man on the brink of shattering his dreams and losing all hope.

Things are hinted at and not force-fed to the audience, sure, but it is like a run on sentence with no punctuation. Just like most of this review.

It was like the whole project was a nasi lemak with chicken chop wrapped together in banana leaf way too small to contain it. You end up with quite a mess.

2/5 stars.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ulasan Filem: Apprentice

Masa diajak pergi tengok filem Apprentice daripada Singapura beberapa minggu lepas, aku fikir dua benda je:

1. Alaaa, satu lagi filem artsy-fartsy yang akan membuatkan aku tertido.

2. Mesti buat lawak Donald Trump dalam The Apprentice.

Sebaliknya, apa yang aku tengok malam ni ialah sebuah filem yang amat kemas dan menyebabkan keyakinan aku pada filem aku sendiri goyah.

Ya, keyakinan aku pada filem aku sendiri semakin menurun sebab dua hari sebelum ini, aku menonton The Handmaiden karya Park Chan-wook. The Handmaiden ialah filem Korea paling hebat pernah aku tengok, dan aku dah tengok empat - satu kerja yang sukar sebab aku tak suka filem Korea sangat. Aku terpaksa menonton pelbagai filem buruk yang lain supaya keyakinan aku kembali ke aras lama - terlebih yakin.

Lepas tu aku pergi tengok pulak Apprentice. Lepas ni mungkin kena tengok lagi banyak filem buruk untuk jadi orang yang terlebih yakin kembali.

Anyway, Apprentice mengisahkan Aiman (Fir Rahman), seorang mamat penjaga penjara yang mula menjadi apprentice kepada seorang algojo atau hangman bernama Rahim (Wan Hanafi Su). Misteri latarbelakang Aiman mula dibongkar sedikit demi sedikit dan rupanya dia ialah anak kepada seorang penjenayah yang hukuman matinya dilaksanakan oleh Rahim.

Kalau pondan review filem ni, mesti dia tengok watak Aiman pastu jerit, "Mo-TIF?!" dan itu antara misteri filem ini - apa yang Aiman hendak sebenarnya? Balas dendam macam dalam filem Korea? Rebel menentang bapak dia yang memang penjenayah, atau nakkan jawatan algojo yang menjamin gaji lebih banyak?

Aiman tidak menjelaskan identiti dan latarbelakangnya pada tempat dia kerja - satu kesalahan yang berisiko. Jadi wujudlah satu keadaan 'kejar-mengejar setempat' antara Aiman yang mengejar butiran kematian bapanya dan pendirian mereka yang melaksana hukuman mati, Rahim pula mula mengesyaki Aiman selepas pada awalnya melayan Aiman seperti anak sendiri.

Filem ini mempertaruhkan hubungan dan interaksi antara Aiman dan Rahim, yang memang menjadi. Menonton Rahim yang membunuh ayah Aiman, menjadi ayah ganti kepada anak muda itu amat 'warm', sedih, dan mengujakan pada masa yang sama. Ini satu pencapaian penceritaan, arahan dan lakonan yang hebat. Satu emosi rumit dengan pintalan perasaan yang berkelumit antara satu sama lain.

Perasaan dalam penjara yang menjadi salah satu tema filem juga memang dapat dirasai, dengan kongkongan ruang dan penataan cahaya, mencerminkan watak-watak yang semuanya terperangkap dalam penjara masing-masing.

Aiman dengan motif atau tujuan yang kabur, juga rahsia yang dikandungnya mengikat perlakuan dan pergerakannya yang sedia mengikut disiplin ketenteraan yang mencengkam. Rasa bersalah Rahim yang telah melaksanakan hukuman mati ke atas mungkin ratusan banduan - satu perasaan yang disembunyikan dengan baik tetapi akhirnya terserlah dalam beberapa babak. Kakak Aiman yang terperangkap dalam peranan wanita Asia yang mengutamakan keluarga.

Tema kongkongan, ikatan dan pemenjaraan juga ditonjolkan dalam pelbagai alatan plot. Antaranya kabinet yang menjadi tempat Aiman bersembunyi ketika kecil - melambangkan persembunyiannya daripada hakikat dan dunia luar.

Konfrantasi Aiman dan Rahim dibuat dengan amat baik, penuh emosi dan sarat kenyataan sosio-politik tetapi mengekalkan gaya yang amat amat masuk akal. Dengarlah dialog semasa pertembungan mereka yang terakhir - jarang kau dengar Bahasa Melayu digunakan dengan amat berkesan dan bersahaja untuk isu yang rumit.

Pengakhiran cerita ini juga sudah sempurna, dengan konflik Aiman sepanjang cerita dikitarkan sekali lagi dalam masa yang lebih singkat dan padu. Pilihan setiap watak dengan penjara mereka di akhir Apprentice sememangnya buah yang berbaloi ditunggu selama lima tahun pembikinan filem ini.

Ada beberapa benda saja yang aku mahu tetapi tak dapat daripada filem ini. Antaranya, aku mahukan Rahim menjadi seperti Christoph Waltz dalam Inglorious Basterds apabila dia memberitahu Aiman yang dia sudah tahu rahsia Aiman dalam satu plot twist, dan bukannya ditunjukkan bagaimana dia mendapat tahu rahsia Aiman. Tetapi ini cuma personal preference.

Lepas habis tengok, dan mendengar susah-payah serta cabaran yang pengarahnya Boo Junfeng hadapi, serta kepandaian Junfeng menyelesaikannya, aku terus rasa rendah diri - satu emosi yang asing buat aku.

Maksud aku, fuck, ini barulah filem. Skrip aku tulis semua frivolous stories. Tapi lepas tu aku fikir, "Aku nak impress sapa ni?" Dan aku pun sedar yang semua orang tak berguna, jadi aku pun rasa best dengan diri sendiri balik dan boleh rekomen filem ni kat semua orang tanpa rasa terancam.

Pasal isu capital punishment atau hukuman mati, aku sebenarnya fikir sesiapa yang dipenjara wajar diberi pilihan sama ada hendak terus dipenjarakan atau memilih hukuman bunuh menerusi suntikan morfin yang banyak.

Aku tak fikir nyawa itu penting kalau kehidupan kau penuh kesakitan, tapi itu hanya aku dan belum tentu aku akan memilih kematian berbanding hidup penuh kesakitan.

Tak, aku memang akan pilih overdose morfin. Tapi itu hanya aku, dan aku tau apa aku mahu.

Apprentice membuat aku fikir pasal penulisan skrip aku, pasal filem, pasal nasib Interchange yang mungkin terpaksa berlawan dengan filem ini di sesetengah festival, pasal capital punishment dan pasal melepasi halangan membuat projek kreatif dengan cara yang bijak. Ini petanda karya yang bagus. Bukanlah filem terbaik dalam sejarah Asia Tenggara, tetapi memang antara Lima Terpenting.

Pergilah tengok filem Apprentice di beberapa panggung GSC (International Screens) sekitar Malaysia. Filem ni artsy-fartsy, jadi tak banyak panggung. Tolonglah pergi tengok. Layari www.gsc.com.my.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Eye of Paranoia

Imagine if Donald Trump follows through with his promises. He bans Muslims, deports millions of them, and helps set Baitul Muqaddis as the new capital of Israel.

Meanwhile, China endorses East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, pouring billions into building it, leading a reluctant coalition of Sunni Muslim countries.

Russia courts the Shiite Muslims.

China invests in South East Asia, getting support for its claim of the South China Sea.

France and later Germany join the right-wing club with UK and US as new Governments are voted in.

Certain Asian leaders begin to be targeted by the US. China calls foul and defends the leaders. Trump doesn't back down.

The first missiles were not even noticed by most people and most countries.

The winter that year brought a harvest of slightly radioactive potatoes. But who harvests in winter?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Psycho-Babble

They say many things. They say that how you treat others reveal a lot about yourself. I find this to be true.

People who want to threaten other people often try to scare them with what they themselves are most scared of. Physical violence. Financial ruin. Public humiliation. Depending on what they threaten others with, reveals what he or she is most afraid of, most of the time.

People like me, always conscious and paranoid of others psycho-analysing them, would always give false trails.

They say also that in order for you to not be angry or irritated at people, you have to understand them. Look at things from their eyes, from inside their heads, their souls.

For years - decades now - I have always been annoyed by people who try to get you to seek their approval.

These primitives use a tired and popular technique - they lambast or put down whatever you're doing, focusing on how what they think of the issue or subject at hand is paramount to whatever is supposedly desired by the target.

Consider a subject - Lisa - studying ballet, doing an arabesque perfectly. In comes Maya who proclaims, "I will only acknowledge you as a dance genius if you could do a grand jete perfectly!"

This is extremely stupid, because while executing an arabesque perfectly is nothing, so is a jete. And doing both will not make one a dance genius.

What we can see from this exchange is Maya, trying to dominate the relationship between her and Lisa by positioning her approval and acknowledgement as the main goal for Lisa. This is Maya inflating the value of her views and approval on Lisa's own self-image and whatever else.

I am not a trained psychopath, so I have no idea what this is called. I just know that it is an extremely primitive and basic attempt at manipulation.

If we study Maya's motivations, it could be caused by any number of things.

For one, Maya could be Lisa's trainer so it is true that Lisa should probably listen to her words and try to do a grand jete as per her teacher's instructions. Lisa must remember that her sense of self-worth should not be tied to anything Maya says or thinks, despite whatever relationship they have.

Another possibility is that Maya could be trying to compete with Lisa for a role, the attentions of an ambiguously gay man, food or shelter. Her primitive brain started competing with Lisa on all levels, until her mouth simply blurted out what was in her brain.

Lisa could want Maya's approval, or she could be totally oblivious to Maya's views. That is her choice.

This is all fascinating to me. How insecurities are infectious and the only way to survive and not allow the insecurities to infect your soul, is to stand there and allow the ego size fluctuation to pass.

Yes. The answer is to not have any reaction whatsoever.

The primitives will try again and again. But while energy and time are limited to all physical bodies, space - which is what you are when you remove yourself from the equation - is vast and infinite.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Malaysian Psycho

A lot of dumbass people on the Malaysian Twitter scene were talking about depression and other mental illnesses. And I was like, you fuckers don't know shit.

So I consulted a real-life psychologist. Cause fuck you and your dumbass parents and grandparents. I kill you so hard, your ancestors will die.

Me: Hello, psychologist.

Psychologist: Hello, psychopath.

Me: Now that we got the formalities out of the way, here's my question: what do we do with crazy people? Kill them, yes?

P: Define crazy people.

Me: Republicunts, of course. Politicians in general. And... yeah, how about that most mild of mental illnesses - depression? It's like having a cold, right? Take some oranges and sugar and you'll be okay.

P: What do you want? What kind of insight?

Me: Clinical.

P: Drugs.

Me: Really? What kind? I want to die of a morphine overdose at some point. Morphine - it's grrrreat!

P: Nah, I mean, treatment for mental illnesses is drugs.

Me: Lucky bastards. Okay. So what can normal people - cause people with mental illnesses are freaks - do for them? Cause we normals are so fucking cool and shit.

P: Well - depression - yes? Get them to focus on one thing. One goal.

Me: Like 1Malaysia?

P: No, like, quilting. Or writing a book. Or do something. Takes the focus away from the bullshit funk they're in. But it must not be something they think they are good at.

Me: Like if I get depressed, my one thing can't be fucking thousands of beautiful girls? Because having sex is how I define my self-worth and ego.

P: Yes.. I mean, no, ah... yes. It has to be something like a project.

Me: Lego? DnD? Drawing?

P: Yes.

Me: I see. Because idiots peg their value and sense of self-worth on things they do, doing those things as the one goal could trigger their dumbass depression again, yes? Tell me I'm a genius.

P: You are truly a genius.

Me: Of course. So anyway, what is the worst type of support you can give these depressed lunatics?

P: You mean, if you want them to keep their depression? Molly-coddling them.

Me: Ah, meaning? Telling them they're great? Telling them not to listen to those who 'make them feel depressed' and only focus on those who 'make them feel happy'? Because feelings are just a shadow-play created by the brain, hooked on endorphin, dopamine, serotonin...

P: Uhhh...

Me: And love is equivalent to eating lots and lots of chocolate?

P: Errr...

Me: Because this would prevent them from developing the skills necessary to face the world in general? It creates personality disorders that center their sense of ego and self-worth on validation and they then become addicted to attention, sympathy and a host of other things that could manifest in a deviant, manipulative persona that could also hurt others?

P: Hey, psychopath, you are NOT a certified mental health expert. SO you shouldn't-

Me: That's all the time we have today. Join us next week when we discuss the female G-spot  - myth or the Whipple's Tipple.

And that was the conversation I had with a health expert.

I myself suffer from some form of anxiety. Social, perhaps. Paranoia, definitely. I have a distinct aversion to anyone trying to mess with my brain or manipulate me. My response mechanism over the years is, once exposing the manipulation attempts, is to destroy everything.

This stems from my own insecurities about my intelligence that has manifested in me working very hard all my life to remain smarter than everyone else. And I am. I am the Greatest Mind of the 21st Century.

This is why it is difficult for me to form attachments with people, because most people have insecurities and trust issues that compel them to try and control other people through whatever way. I work in the media, and most of the primitive side of the industry is trying to control and manipulate people's behavior through communication.

Think of communication as some sort of programming language for people and you get the sense of deluded grandeur and self-importance these people have.

I have spent most of my life now, understanding people and what I have uncovered validates my misanthrope.

I also keep a very small circle of friends - people I deem as more sincere and secure than others.

I'm still a chronic approval-seeker. My anxiety issues compelled me to smoke and overeat until I had a heart attack that nearly killed me two years ago. I deal with these things on a daily basis. I wake up and I tune my mind. It's not easy, but it's not impossible either.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have several projects to focus on. Not for my depression, because I am the best at what I do. I do not attach my sense of self to these things. That, I save for porn.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mr Boron - World's Most Boring Man

So I had today all planned. There are some plumbing maintenance at my apartment, so they said there wouldn't be water till tonight.

I thought I'd go for a morning meeting, then spend time at my alumni's clubhouse, to use their swimming pool and restaurant.

I handled a few issues on my way to the meeting and felt like I was kicking ass on my daily chores and projects.

Then, in the middle of the meeting, I got an email saying something I thought I was done and over with a month ago resurfaced with new requirements. And that this information was not given to me in the past few weeks, because. Just fucking because.

This, threw all my plans out the window. I had to go home, hunker down and see if I could settle everything before the end of the working day.

Luckily, I was with a friend so I unloaded my anger and hatred - with the intensity of a thousand suns - how everyone is stupid but me, how I am a genius trapped in a dumb human society. I went on for about 15 minutes. And then I felt better.

On my way back, I decided to say yes to all the other things I said no to today because I had set today aside for just one meeting, some emails and a whole lot of swimming.

Now, I get to settle my water heather issue, go for another meeting at 8pm, work on two proposals, wrangle around two quotations and do a bunch more stuff.

This also means that tomorrow morning, I need to go and get some stuff binded and then sent somewhere, before my long lunch engagement.

I need to watch it. This is how I got the heart attack last time.

This is also why I can't take on any other job in the next three months. I'm full for the year. Plus, some projects look set for six months next year and there are ongoing things that need my attention.

I say this with gratitude. After my heart attack in 2014, I thought it would be almost impossible to work or get a job or do my projects like last time. I concentrated on recovery for a few months before a kind soul offered me a job. Worked at it for a year plus and then quit to focus on my business endeavours.

My businesses are very small. Almost miniscule. I know this after working with some big ass companies with revenue by the billions, employing thousands of people. The things that I do now are microscopic in comparison.

And yet I am happier than I have ever been. I still get angry, usually at the same old shit. People withholding information for no goddamn reason, especially. But I'm more or less okay.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Notes on the Run

Man, some of my friends are facing life-threatening illnesses. One guy got cancer, another got a heart attack perhaps similar to mine.

I told my sister I wanted to go to their homes and teach them how to cook healthful curries and dishes guaranteed to lower cholesterol levels. She advised me to let them decide what they want to do. It's their life, not mine.

Which is true, of course. But my ego is all based on how everyone else is wrong and I am right. My greatest fear, though, is if this is true. I do not want the responsibility of being the guy who's right all the time.

Unfortunately, I am right. I'm always right, I understand people and people suck. This is the story I tell myself. This is the root of all my stories - that I, a true genius, am surrounded by idiots and people who are wrong. WRONG!

I look at most people, and all I see are masses of insecurities - something I could only recognise because I embody all the same insecurities. Humans are driven by a survival instinct that is designed to fear annihilation. Annihilation can be physical death, being forgotten or deemed unnecessary with no place in society. Annihilation can also be a loss of unique identity - which is why so many people want to be special. Or be told they're special.

This is why, aside from giving them lots of money with which to buy special stuff that perhaps very few can afford, one of the surest ways to fuck a girl is to tell her she's special.

"You're the only one who can make me feel this way."

"Only you, can make the world seem right."

"Only you can make the darkness bright."

"Oh-Ohnly youuuu! Can take me choi sai keng!"

I believe that all feelings and emotions come from within. They are all merely shadow puppets played by our mind, our ego and our own whatever. None of it exists without us telling ourselves one story or another.

Fear, joy, sadness, anger, disgust are all our own reactions created from impulses as directed by our brains based on the stories we tell ourselves. Or maybe Pixar, or is it Disney?

I find that denying emotions make them stronger, but acknowledging them all leads to the one thing I find truly enjoyable - peace.

Peace, to me, is a state of nothingness you discover after accepting the cacophony that is your emotions and the world. Acknowledging and accepting them leads to focus on the void, the space between subjects and objects.

Atoms are constructed mostly of space. If you run a line through the diameter of the nucleus and the electron orbiting it, most of everything is space.

Since most of the world is made up of this void, connecting with it means truly being one with the universe.

And this is where I tell you I will be out of touch for a week or so as I allocate some time to be with my space. If I die, here are my last words: FUCK OFF AND DIE.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Feverish Wanking About Malaysian Films

I still have a bit of the flu and just went through 7 hours at the hospital. I wanted to sleep, but I keep getting these emails and messages so after replying to some in bed, I got up, ready to answer any more... and then finding no emails whatsoever.

So, I decided to write this shit I talked with a friend the last few weeks. These are mostly his ideas and I am merely regurgitating what I heard.

So anyway, I see the film industry as three separate components - the administration, the filmmakers and the audience.

In order for the industry or the shit to move forward, a few things will or need to happen.

The Administration 

The best thing for administration is to use the tax dollars gleaned from foreign movies to be used for the betterment of the industry. This money MUST NOT be used to make films, but to set up workshops, seminars, to send our filmmakers to festivals and other industries to learn from the best.

What are the best or better labour models employed by other, more mature industries? What are the tried and tested marketing protocols? What constitutes good films? What films are desireable to outside markets or scenes - either for prestige, marketability or both?

The taxes from foreign films must not be used to fund more productions, because that can lead to corruption. Actually, everything can lead to more corruption but there is less attraction for conmen when these programmes are the type that would interest hardcore and/or real filmmakers. Imagine the DOP for some of Korea's best films giving a workshop, or that Inarittu guy's team's camera team.

Or practical effects dudes in the States or Europe or Japan. Those kind of visits, talks to instill a real transfer of skills, knowledge and film appreciation amongst filmmakers.

Filmmakers lament a dearth of quality producers. Why not send them for training? Both in execution, marketing, etc.

It's not a exactly novel idea. Korea's film industry did it. I don't know how they did it, exactly, but they did it by nurturing this spirit of filmmaking. Lots of producers here nowadays don't even want to make films. They just want to make money, film be damned.

So the idea for this first stage is to expose the filmmaking community to best practices and connect them with what works in the outside world, in order for the industry to claw itself out of this stupid hole we are in.

Also, the funds from the taxes of foreign films should be spent on developing scripts. Stories and scripts and things with molecular structure and this is my boomstick. It shouldn't be too expensive and scriptwriters would also have to be honest and transparent with this shit.

Because once you corrupt one thing, the whole system collapses.

The Films

Next is adapting the films into two workable business models.

1. Tent-pole releases

These are for the Polis Evos and Ola Bolas and epics and whatever. Their promotional budget must be equal to their production budget and represent those movies that can make bank in the first two weekends by opening in all what, 70? 90 screens? All over Malaysia.

The promotion must begin even during pre-production. Trailers must be released months or even years before the damned thing is completed. If you can generate a sense of ownership among audiences along the way, that is even better for the bottom line and might help with some critics when it is out.

2. Limited-release indies

These films should open in fewer cinemas, but shown there longer - at least 6 weeks or so. Because they would benefit from positive word of mouth and audience numbers would, ideally, snowball.

The approach is like doing a theatrical performance - a stageplay. That's the model. If funds from this model is limited, then perhaps don't put so much expectations on it, financially.

In Indonesia, some small time studios rent out the cinema halls themselves and sell the tickets on their own. Those people believe in their product and are brave enough to put their money where their art is. Some enjoyed moderate, if limited success. Others failed, probably. But the effort and the idea is there.

There is a viable secondary market out there but in all honesty, there is no guarantee in any business. Anyone who seeks guarantees in businesses is an idiot and anyone who gives guarantees is a conman.


The Audience

And the audience can make their own minds and their own choices.

Bagaimana Menurunkan Kolesterol Dan Gula Dalam Darah

Aku baru lepas menghabiskan lebih 7 jam kat hospital. 95% masa tu dihabiskan untuk tunggu giliran aku je sebab takde sistem sesuai yang boleh bagitau pesakit berapa lama masa dia kena tunggu.

Sistem dia bukan first in first out, macam beratur biasa, atau ada priority-assigned clusters. Dia jenis cam amgbik nombor, pastu harap nombor ko naik, macam main nombor ekor. Dengan satu kelainan - ko akan jumpa doktor gak, tapi ko mungkin rugi masa.

Hari ini, aku beratur kat tiga bahagian di hospital dengan purata 2 jujukan nombor di setiap bahagian hospital.

Anyway, benda ni takkan improve sebab takde siapa yang dapat improve system yang telah digunapakai sejak zaman pop yeh yeh.

Seperti jugak takde sistem untuk handle orang bodoh yang ada di sekitar planet bumi ni. Kalau ada dah lama aku bunuh ramai gila orang dan tekanan darah aku akan turun.

Apa yang aku nak share kat sini ialah bagaimana nak turunkan kolesterol dalam darah serta gula dalam darah. Sebab results bloodwork aku amat bagus. Kolesterol aku jatuh ke 3.2mmol/L daripada 4, masa last aku test enam bulan lepas. Manusia normal range dia ialah 4-6 mmol/L. Blood sugar level aku turun jugak ke 4.2.

Apa aku buat simple je:

1. Tidur dengan cukup pada masanya.

Kalau ko tak tido, level kolesterol ko akan naik. Tak kira la ko makan ke tak makan ke, kebulur ke.

Ko kena tidur pada waktu malam, lebih kurang pukul 12. Paling lewat pukul 2am. Ko berjaga lebih-lebih, kolesterol naik dan ko akan sakit jantung pastu mati.

2. Kawal pemakanan

Nak kawal senang je. Pertama, pilih benda apa ko makan. Jangan makan benda berlemak atau berminyak. Makan buah dan sayur lebih. Jangan makan kulit + lemak ayam, darah, organ dalaman, butter, krim, processed food, kurangkan daging, jangan makan instant noodles, etc.

Kedua, pilih cara masak makanan. Makan grilled, boiled, steamed. Raw kalau boleh. Jangan makan benda goreng, gulai, masak lemak, itu semua akan bagi ko sakit jantung, darah tinggi, stroke atau kencing manis. Kalau ko millionaire takpe. Kalau bukan millionaire, jaga pemakanan ko.

Millionaires, bila diorang sakit, diorang sapu duit terus elok balik. Ko takde duit buat cara takde duit.

Ketiga - paling penting - kawal berapa banyak ko makan. Kalau ko biasa makan sepinggan, makan setengah pinggan je. Kalau ko biasa makan setengah pinggan, jangan makan langsung.

3. Tingkatkan pengambilan serat

Aku pengamal high fibre diet. Aku telan oats, psyllium husk, buah-buahan (aku suka forelle pear, betik dan epal). Kalau roti,  aku makan roti ungu sebab glycemic index dia rendah. Roti ungu tu pakai Canadian purple wheat yang bagus.

Psyllium husk asalnya dijaja dek Dr Oz dalam Oprah Winfrey Show. Sejak itu, Dr Oz kantoi tipu banyak benda, tapi psyllium husk ni memang bagus sebab dia takde apa-apa benda melainkan serat sahaja.

Kalau makan buah, jangan makan banyak sangat kalau dia manis. Sebab nanti kencing manis la pulak.

4. Pegi mampus orang bodoh

Kita, manusia biasa (Homo Sapiens) dan manusia ubahsuaian (Homo Sapiens Superior), dikelilingi oleh rednecks, mat dan minah rempit, juga anak-anak anjing, (Homo Sapiens Inferior) serta ahli politik (Pan Paniscus) yang akan menaikkan tekanan darah serta penghasilan kolesterol dalam badan.

Selain membunuh golongan ini dengan kaedah sula, cara paling pemalas ialah dengan tido tanpa hiraukan diorang dan beritahu diorang supaya pergi mampus atau pergi hisap bijik kelentit mak dia.

Spesis ni semua membazirkan masa dan menyebabkan badan ko menghasilkan benda tak bagus. Jadi fuck off and die.

5. Ketahuilah yang tiada siapa mampu paksa kau buat atau jadi apa-apa yang bukan diri kau yang sebenar.

Dan siapakah diri kita yang sebenar? Entiti tidak berlabel yang tiada had dan tiada batasan.

Dah. Aku nak pergi tido sebab dah seharian aku duk menunggu nombor je.

Walaupun sistem macam haram, aku still berterima kasih kepada petugas di UMMC/PPUM sebab mampu melayan aku dan semua pesakit lain dengan jayanya.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ulasan PekFourK

SPOILER ALERT! Kalau taknak tau ending dan beberapa benda penting dalam Pekak, sila berambus.

Aku berjanji yang aku takkan review Pekak (nama kat Twitter Pek4k, yang aku fikir dangkal, sebab dalam filem ni takde Fantastic Four atau Empat Sahabat) kalau filem ni tak best.

Jadi malam ni, bila aku join segerombolan penyamun, maksud aku segerombolan kawan-kawan, pergi menonton Pekak kat panggung, dengan bayar tiket pakai duit hasil titik perkumuhan sendiri, aku fikir senang kerja aku kalau filem ni tak best. Tak payah aku tulis panjang-panjang.

Aku dah berniat nak cakap kat Twitter, "PekEmpatK tak best, jadi aku takkan review" - satu kenyataan yang sebenarnya satu review. Ini untuk menghiburkan hati aku dan segelintir kawan-kawan yang suka jenaka bangang macam ni.

Malang buat aku, Pekak tidak tak best, maksudnya dia bukanlah filem yang teruk. Pekak juga bukan filem tempatan terbaik yang aku pernah tonton tapi mungkin terbaik tahun ini. Dia ada beberapa benda yang aku suka, dan beberapa benda yang aku tak suka. Yang penting, aku lagi suka filem ni daripada Suicide Squad mahupun Legend of Tarzan, walaupun dua-dua filem ni ada Margot Robbie yang aku kira penanda aras kecantikan wanita zaman ini.

Jadi, aku rasa nak tulis review. Atau ulasan. Kita pakai ulasan la ya?

Pekak mengisahkan Uda - seorang mamat pekak yang juga pengedar dadah industri kecil dan tak sederhana. Dia tertawan dan menawan (seperti dalam lagu Impressions) dengan Dara - seorang gadis yeng memberontak daripada kongkongan bapanya. Bapak Dara terlalu mengongkong dan mendera anaknya secara fizikal dan mental sambil memaki ibu Dara. Aku suka dinamik bapak Dara dan Dara dan TERIMA KASIH sebab tak selesaikan SANGAT hubungan bermasalah ini.  Pada akhirnya, Bapak Dara nampak menyesal, tapi takde babak dia menangis mintak maaf kat anak dia selepas anak dia confront orang tua tu.

Kalau kehidupan sebenar, memang biasa orang yang buat salah kat kau takde babak confrontation yang memuaskan atau dapat hukuman setimpal. Akhirnya, sama ada orang jahat terlepas atau kau pergi mampus dulu, menjadikan dosanya pada kau tak berbalas sebab dunia memang tak adil sangat.

Dara menjadi sasaran Kamil yang berkawan dengan Azman Picasso yang sering beromen dengan Melor. Sasaran maksudnya Kamil nak romen Dara.

Sementara itu, Uda tengah kumpul duit nak bedah letak implan koklear supaya dia boleh mendengar semula. Aku suka efek dia mengumpul duit dengan kaunter yang sentiasa dikemaskini di layar. Dan kalau kau fikir filem biasa, ini maknanya Uda akan kena rompak atau duit dia hilang dalam Second Act. Tapi tak. Ini bagus sebab bukan apa yang aku expect.

Tapi ada juga benda aku expect yang takde, yang bagi aku mengurangkan kebagusan filem ni. Antaranya ialah babak Joe Flizzow ajar Uda berjalan yang takde concern langsung dengan plot melainkan bagi ko gelak dan suka sikit kat Joe sebelum dia jadi douchebag later. Juga setup finale bila Melor confront Azman yang bagi aku tak masuk akal.

Juga tak bagus sangat - babak parti kat rumah Kamil yang tak best sangat dan tak dipendekkan. Ya lah, kita negara Islam, masyarakat yang bersopan, Mana nak parti macam American Pie atau Eyes Wide Shut atau filem Havoc lakonan Anne Hathaway yang agak sama dalam beberapa segi dengan Pekak.

Tapi babak last bila Uda duduk depan keretapi memang best. Filem ni mungkin nak build up ke babak ni, bila Uda dapat apa dia nak, tapi dia dah taknak.

Seperti tulisan Neil Gaiman - Dewa Semua Penulis - 'the price of getting what you want is getting what you once wanted'. Maksud dia, bila kita dapat apa kita nak, itu bukan lagi apa yang kita nak, tetapi sesuatu yang kita pernah nak pada masa dulu.

Ini antara babak paling bagus dalam Pekak. Tapi build up dia sedikit rapuh. Ada sesuatu yang terjadi dengan third act yang sedikit merosakkan filem ini, bagi aku.


Antaranya ialah terlepas peluang menjadikan cerita cinta dua dunia yang klise tapi mungkin ini yang sesetengah orang mahukan. Berani ko tak bagi apa yang orang nak? Bagus!

So Uda dan Dara yang bukan Muzikal Uda dan Dara yang menjurus kepada West Side Story. Sebab walaupun ada dua dunia - dunia orang lengkap pancaindera dan dunia orang pekak - benda ni tak diketengahkan sangat. ADA, tapi tak dijadikan salah satu point cerita sangat, yang bagi aku satu peluang yang terlepas.

Bukan takde. Ada. Contohnya bila salah satu point cerita ialah mesej voice mail dalam telefon Uda yang hanya boleh difahami oleh orang yang boleh mendengar.

Tapi bila dibandingkan dengan siri Aishiteiru to Ittekure (1995) lakonan Takako Tokiwa dan Toyokawa Etsushi, drama TV Jepun ni lagi feel jurang komunikasi dia dan juga lebih mantap hubungan visual serta sentuhan antara dua manusia.







Drama ni popular dulu kat TV3, dan ditaja oleh satu produk kosmetik mask oren or something.

Sebab walaupun dengan deria lengkap, aku rasa semua manusia pernah rasa macam kau pekak atau bisu atau buta dan susah nak menyentuh jiwa orang lain, terutama orang yang kau sayang. Inilah sebab manusia cipta puisi, lagu, tulisan prosa, lukisan, dan semua jenis seni. Seni ialah untuk komunikasi. Untuk menyampaikan apa yang tak tersampai dengan cara biasa.

Peluang yang terlepas, bagi aku, ialah untuk melihat apa jenis luahan seni yang melampaui tuturkata antara dua orang kekasih. Susah la. Tapi satu sasaran yang ada dan pernah dicapai oleh karya lain.

Apa pun, persembahan Zahiril Adzim sebagai Uda dan Sharifah Amani sebagai Dara memang bagus. Zahiril memang berjaya emote banyak benda tanpa dialog. Aku kalau tulis skrip kekadang menyampah kalau pelakon mintak line dialog lebih sebab nak cover diorang takleh berlakon tanpa dialog. So bila Zahiril buktikan ko boleh berlakon takyah dialog, dan jadi, memang bagus lah.

Sharifah Amani, aku risau sebab kalau dia jadi Orked lagi sekali memang akan jadi annoying. Bagi aku, Dara bukan Orked so aku rasa dia dalam trajektori yang okay dengan watak gadis murung dalam Pesiko Pencuri Hati dan Dara dalam Pekak yang bukan Orked.

Chemistry antara Uda dan Dara sedikit... kurang. Bukan teruk, tapi kurang. Dia macam ko lupa letak serai or something. Dia okay la, tapi intensity kurang.

Amerul Effendi menari di bibir jurang antara persembahan yang hebat dan villain gaya Sofi Jikan. Sofi Jikan main watak macam ni, dia biasanya akan push sampai extreme dengan sengaja and it works for whatever movie yang dia buat. Amerul berjaya bawa watak Azman Picasso dengan baik dengan watak yang juga berubah antara si pelawak yang bodoh-bodoh alang dan kejahatan yang tidak dapat ditahan.

Aku suka cerita ini bila orang baik tak dapat balasan baik... sangat. Orang jahat ... erm... aku lebih suka kalau tak jadi apa-apa. Secara asasnya, dunia ini menyeksakan, dan kemudian kau mampus dan takde sapa peduli sebab semua orang kisah pada diri sendiri. Ini realiti kehidupan. Kalau kau ada kawan-kawan yang berhati mulia, cherish them because the world is a cold and dark place and we only have each other to keep ourselves warm.

Aku suka ending last Pekak tapi seperti yang aku tulis tadi, build up dia sedikit pincang terutama dalam Third Act.

Satu karya yang tidak sempurna, tetapi filem yang sempurna hanyalah Babe. Secara keseluruhan, Pekak membawa penonton ke dunia gelap yang menjadi kian kelam, dan bila kau tak dapat meneka apa yang bakal terjadi, mungkin kau akan rasa terhibur atau kau rasa macam nak tengok cerita jiwang Jepun yang digunakan untuk jual kosmetik berperisa oren kat TV.

Apapun, kau patut pergi tengok Pekak kat pawagam. Kalau tak, macamana kau nak protes FFM nanti, kalau kau tak pernah tengok pun filem tempatan?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Two Year Anniversary

Today is the two-year anniversary of my heart attack in 2014.

1/3 of my heart is still dead and will never come back. I generally have my weight, cholesterol and sugar under control, though the most recent data was six months ago and I am due for a checkup in a week or so.

Last night, I had a chat with a friend who recently was diagnosed with diabetes. Due to his input on his condition and my own risks, I am restarting my salad/high-fibre diet.

I have slacked off these past six months because I achieved great numbers during my last checkup. I need to lose a further 15kg and maintain my cholesterol levels at a healthy range.

After my heart attack in 2014, I read up on a ton of material about the condition. For my thing, life expectancy is not that high for people in the States.

Normal humans have an ejection fraction (ratio of blood pumped out by the heart vs amount coming in) of 60%. Athletes might be 70%-80%. Heart failure is below 40%. My ejection fraction is 41%. This will never change regardless of what I do.

So on a study of 1000 people with heart failure in the States, life expectancy is between six months to six years. Nobody knows the stats for anyone with 41% ejection fraction, though I assume it is that plus a few years.

Of course, my father also had a heart attack at 39 and went on to live for ... 36 years or so, so far. I don't want to live for another 30 years. 10 to 12 is enough, I believe.

I mean, I have no complaints. I'm doing good work and have outlets for my creative stuff. I will be free from all debts by this year. I have cut off cancerous people and things from my life. Most of them, anyway.

I do have goals before I die, but I have no expectations. And if I fail, it wouldn't matter anyway. I'll share one of them with you - I want to tell stories.

I am currently writing a film script that will be turned into a comic book. I will only allow a production company and a team I trust to produce the film, if any are interested, but I now and in the future have total creative control over the project.

There are several things to be done with my comics publishing company - Maple Comics. The beauty of having a small company is I can work with whoever the fuck I want and say no to anyone. My decisions do not affect many lives and the growth potential is always there, since it is so small.

Still, in 19 months, we have published 12 titles and looking at 17 by year end. There are targets and milestones for next year and I am exploring other revenue streams within the business.

I work out 3-5 times a week and will soon join Persatuan Alumni UM and make use of their clubhouse facilities to get even healthier. I am only interested in improving quality of life and not prolonging it.

Several people have tried to hook me up with various girls, but I don't think it's fair for them because I will die soon. It would be extremely selfish and most of these girls are not that enticing anyway.

My dream girl is Angela Merkel's brain in Angelababy's body, after a decade of Thai food diet. You cannot have a smell. I am turned off by odours.

Anyway, I'm writing stuff right now. If I die before my next update, know that my final words to everyone is: FUCK OFF AND DIE!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dungeon Mastery and Old Reunions

Today, my DnD group allowed me to do my first session as Dungeon Master.

I sucked really bad and there were moments of sheer terror, but I had fun learning how fucked up things are as a DM. My group seemed to have fun because they are the type that could have fun on their own anyway.

Having had my first taste as DM, I'm more than determined now to host my own game and create a new world sometime down the line. You either learn from your fuck ups or you will always repeat them.

After the three hour session, we played Cosmic Encounters for another three hours or so. After that, I rushed to Kelana Jaya for a high school reunion.

My batch will be celebrating our 20 years graduation anniversary next year and the guys have planned some things to give back to the school, our celebration dinner and the like.

I used to have a problem with my high school and the society we created there, but we're nearing 40 now. In 10 years, how many of us would remain standing, much less 20 years from now?

I am in a period of my life where I am closing books and writing epilogues. I'm preparing for death proper. I've always thought of how to die since I was 17 and saying goodbyes to everything is one of those items you wish you could plan for properly.

Looking back, I have lived quite a good life, all things considered.

Born in the swamp, in a third world country that mostly would not understand my ideas or ideals, I have done everything I could ever want, much earlier than I thought I could. Being the DM for at least one session - no matter how stupid and terrible it was - ranks as one of the things I never thought I would do.

I have not and will not trust people. But people seem to trust me. I'm not feeling guilty nor boastful. I just feel a sense of gratitude to the world for these small mercies.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Dichotomy Diagnosis for Dumbasses

You're all stupid. Accept that fact. And then go kill yourself.

Which brings us to Suicide Squad. I haven't seen it yet, opting instead to watch Jason Bourne and Star Trek Beyond. Both are okay movies. Who cares?

But the dumb thing that happened with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Just-Ass (BvS) is happening again. DC fanboys went ape-shit at bad reviews from critics and are clamoring for the review site Rotten Tomatoes to be shut down.

The petition, started by Abdullah Coldwater, has since been withdrawn. But the sentiment remains. As much as the racist shit we see from Trump and Brexit is neither gone nor forgotten even after it's clear that both causes were not meant to win anything, not even a checkers game..

Fuck politics, but DC fans' bullshit - this is serious.

Personally, after I published my review of BvS, some stupid cocksucking donkey-fuckers started judging and labeling me as a Marvel fanboy. They were even surprised I gave X-Men: Apocalypse a bad review.

This is because their tiny little brains can't see anything in this world as being other than a dichotomy. You're either PS or xBox. BN or DAP. Democrat or Republican, Feminist or Men's Rights Activists.

It has been documented that these idiots are not even Homo Sapiens, but remnants from that time when Homo Erectus fucked a Pan Paniscus and we have today's typical idiot. Thy're a different species so we hoo-mans must band together and put them in camps and then gas them. I call them Pan Provectus. Provectus is generous, as the word stands for upgrade or advanced or some shit. Basically, they're advanced monkeys on the account that they have thumbs and wear clothes, badly.

This eagerness to put people in 'either-or' camps is of course, egotistical. These Pan Provectus shits, their sense of self is tied to being in groups. They NEED to be in groups to feel safer and lower their IQ further.

This is why EVERY FUCKING ISSUE must be either-or and EVERYONE must be either-or. Coke or Pepsi? How about none? Fuck carbonated sugary drinks.

I will review the shit out of Suicide Squad. I really don't care as much for those characters as I do Batman and Superman so whatever. But mostly I do it because we must stand up to Pan Provectus.

The greatest evil in this world is not evil. It's stupidity. And we neutralise stupidity by being our awesome hyper-intelligent self.

Fuck all of you monkeys.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Random Thoughts Before Bed

Darwin said the species that will survive is not the strongest, or the smartest, but one that adapts the best to change. Or something like that.

I'm thinking of the comics scene, as I leaf through the latest comic I bought - the 'last issue' of Ujang and Apo? - I got at Pesta Buku Selangor.




The issue is the first Ujang or Apo? issue in a year or so, and it seems to be its last. There is a 'surprise', though, as you flip the cover and find the announcement to a new comics magazine - Bekazone.

Ujang inherited the mantle of Gila-Gila, the legendary comics magazine that sold over half a million copies every issue in its heyday. Some old comics hands put the number at over 600,000. This was the age where people actually read magazines. Even the lesser-read magazines such as Batu Api, Gelagat, Gelihati and the rest sold decent numbers then, that would have made them top of the pile nowadays, in this post-Internet world.

Even then, the numbers steadily declined and Ujang - though the best comics magazine in its time - managed to reach 200,000-300,000 copies per issue. 

I don't have the actual or accurate data and everything I quote here is anecdotal, so take everything with a grain of salt. I'm pissed off with this, but there you go.

I have long petitioned for various comics organisations in Malaysia to collect industry data so as to chart the scene properly and be able to improve things effectively when they have the means to do so.  Right now, if you ask anyone how many titles are there or how many publishers, no one can give you an accurate figure. Somebody knows, somewhere, but are they compiling it? Even Sasbadi - known to me and others as primarily a reference book publisher - has a comics imprint.

That, is another rant for another time.

After the Ujang magazine had its infamous crisis on infinite earths and the team split, a few magazines such as Gempak, Kreko, Urban Comics and Rileks fought over the vacuum. Gempak was the best-run, with a kick-ass distribution and financial muscle - strong fundamentals and sharp business acumen.

Gempak remains a force to this day, and they were bought over or something - I don't know shit, man! - by a Japanese comics company. Gempak books are now sold in 1900++ 7-Elevens as well as toko bukus and small mamak sundry shops, aside from their presence in major bookstore chains such as Popular.

The focus, it seems, has also shifted from the magazine alone to trade paperbacks - collections of comics stories instead of a monthly format. Gempak once sold over 70,000 copies fortnightly. If they still are doing those numbers, they would be the most popular magazine sold in stores in the country (Astro Mag has a subscription model).

I come from the newspaper industry and we all agreed that magazines would be the first sacrifice to the new Internet gods. And so it was. I currently do not know anyone below 40 that buys magazines or even reads them regularly. And 70% of our population are below 40.

Meanwhile, let's talk about digital comics. As far as I can tell - and I might be wrong - digital comics are the future, but the future is not now.

In 2014, digital comics sales in the States was US$100 million while print comics is US$835 million. 100 million dollars is a huge amount, right? And considering that it was only US$1 million several years ago for digital sales, this is good right? Well.

For one, sales growth for digital comics sales have decreased over the years. It was 180% in 2012, 29% in 2013 and 11% in 2014. Here's the clincher: Digital comics sales went down in 2015 to US$90 million. That's a 10% decline.

Japan's massive manga industry is safe, right? The newspaper with the largest circulation in the world is Yomiuri Shinbun. Number 2 is also Japanese - Asahi Shinbun. Surely print manga and digital comics for the techno-savvy Japanese society would thrive right?

Well, sales peaked in 1995 and then went on a downward trend. Manga magazines, graphic novels, all went down. When they go online, they were met with pirates who upload their comics and people download it for free. In the era of globalisation and borderless, pre-Trump economy, you'd expect they'd do well when they license their wildly popular stuff to the lucrative US or European market? Nope. Scanlators outnumber legit platforms and it has been - sparsely - documented that Japanese digital platforms fare even worse than their US counterparts.

Personally, I believe people - especially Malaysians - don't believe in paying for online content. They don't even like buying most things online, except tudung. Running Maple Comics, I can tell you less than 10% of our sales are online, except for some freak titles. 

I really can't say much about the local comics scene - it's not even an industry - BECAUSE I HAVE NO FUCKING DATA. I don't even know how many publishers there are, how many titles are produced in a year, how many artists are out there. I don't even know how many comics are in bookstores because NOBODY IS KEEPING TRACK. FUCK YOU. FUCK. YOU. YOU FUCKING MONKEYFUCKER!

I do know - anecdotally - that physical books is the way to go, for now. I believe that one day everything will be digital, but that day is much later than you might think.

So what does that mean for Bekazone or any comics magazines or periodicals? I don't know. If I know everything, I'd be a billionaire by now. I do believe that trade paperbacks are the way to go but if you have the financial muscle, magazines could be a good flagship to have.

There are other challenges for any magazines in Malaysia. They go through stringent control by the Home Ministry. They have GST. And you always suffer from a very short shelf life. A July edition of a magazine only has 2-3 weeks to market and sell. After that, it's stale bread.

Still, there are some good news. Some major players in the publishing world are entering the comics scene. They will bring more titles and some bookstores will take notice of this and perhaps there will be a push. I got some good vibes from some but we shall see what comes out of it, by end of the year.

There is an emerging crop of new artists who are fast and talented - a previously rare combination. Some artists are finding massive popularity on social media and this usually translates to better sales of their physical books.

The most refreshing thing I have found with young artists is that they come in with little to no baggage. Some know the very low expectations of a small comics scene. Many know international royalty rates - meaning I don't have to explain to them that I am not an evil corporation like Shin-Ra out to steal them of their millions.

As for the audience? The readers? Well, I believe that if you create something that is consistently good, you will slowly build a dedicated audience. Some will lose interest and drop off, some will stay on and you can attract new ones. You can never control people, regardless of what the 'experts' say. 

Sources:
3. Icv2
4. CNBC

Friday, July 29, 2016

Three August Titles

Hello everyone, and welcome to a message from our sponsor - me!

Maple Comics has come up with three titles to be launched within these two weeks. The first is Merah, then Paradigma Guru and finally a recoloured, remastered edition of Beijing in 5 Days.



Merah is a comic book by Indonesian artist/writer duo of Amir Muchtar and Seno Aditomo. It was published by AM-SA Studio in Indonesia. Merah was translated into Bahasa Malaysia by Julie Anne.

The story is about a man haunted by a ghost in red. The entire book is black and white except for the ghost, whose dress and blood is a bright red.

This is a disturbing tale that will send shivers down your spine. I guaran-damn-tee it.

This is our second title from Indonesian artists, after Stephani Soejono's Tale of the Bidadari, and we hope to collaborate with more artists and bring more titles from the region to Malaysia. One more title by another Indonesian artist/writer collaboration is coming next year. I can only share with you the working title - Samudra


Paradigma Guru is a manga style supernatural rom-com from the excellent mind of Pokcik Fingernailz. Yes, that's his pen name, and we call him Pokcik even though he is 13 years younger than I am. The man's a tender 23 years old but has the comics sensibilities of a seasoned pro.

Pokcik has managed to use manga tropes and styles to tell a uniquely Malaysian story. I was impressed with the story structure, flow, characterisation and humour of Paradigma Guru that hints at Pokcik's well-organised mind. He is indeed a slick executor.




Coming to you next Thursday is the recoloured, remastered version of Beijing in 5 Days. This is Mimi Mashud's very first comic and her original print run was sold out last year so we agreed to recolour and reprint it with the participation of the sublime Tay 'Fishball' Yen Ee. Yen Ee will have another comic book of her own in print later this year, hopefully.

Beijing in 5 Days looks awesome, really. Amid Yen Ee's digital colouring, we can also enjoy Mimi's excellent watercolours.

If you are a fan of Mimi's work, you cannot miss out on this comic book. It further cements her reputation and we were not kidding when we said, 18 months ago, that we have found the next Lat and she's awesome.

You can get all three titles at the Maple Comics booth, N33, Pesta Buku Selangor, Shah Alam Convention Center (SACC) until August 7. Also grab our other titles - Invasi, Taubat Si Tanggang, Pelempang realiti, Jejon Di Jepun, Scenes of the Father, Komik Ronyok, and a prototype DonK we did for Taylor's University.

Beijing in 5 Days will be available next Thursday but all the rest can be bought there. Alternatively, you can get most of these titles at our website - www.maplecomics.com.my.

We have more coming in the final quarter of the year, so wait for the announcements to be made soon. We are targeting 17 titles by end of 2016, in time for our second anniversary.


Anjakan Paradigma Guru

Izinkan aku puji komik terbitan sendiri. 

Hari ini, Maple Comics telah menerima cetakan pertama Paradigma Guru - sebuah komik oleh Pokcik Fingernailz.

Ini ialah judul ke 11 atau 12 kami. Aku pun dah lupa sebab tak terkira banyaknya. Setiap satu judul itu amat istimewa bagi aku. Daripada Kuala Terengganu in 7 Days yang malar hijau hingga Komik Ronyok yang subversif dengan cara yang cukup genius, aku amat senang dan suka dengan judul-judul yang kami terbitkan.

Paradigma Guru amat significant bagi aku, sebab Pokcik Fingernailz telah berjaya menunjukkan contoh sebuah cerita yang amat kuat dan unik identiti tempatannya, menggunakan tropes dan gaya manga.

Kalau kau suka baca manga, kau akan senang membaca Paradigma Guru. Bahasa seni dan short hand manga memang digunakan dengan meluas dan berkesan, demi menyampaikan kisah seorang guru perempuan bertudung di sebuah sekolah menengah di Malaysia.

Gaya atau seni manga menjadi alat untuk menyampaikan satu cerita yang Pokcik Fingernailz saja mampu luahkan.

Ini penting bagi mereka yang seusia dengan aku sebab sejak aku mula kacau orang kat Internet, antara persoalan yang hangat dibahas dan dibincang (sampai tak buat komik pun, cuma bercakap pasal ini saja) generasi aku ialah di mana 'identiti komik Malaysia'.

Adakah pada melukis keris, atau rumah kampung, mengetengahkan rekaan senibina kayu Melayu? Adakah pada cerita Hang Tuah? Bagaimana dengan budaya Cina, India, Bidayuh, Iban di Malaysia - itu tak cukup Malaysia kah untuk diketengahkan?

Ini persoalan yang aku jumpa 18 tahun lepas semasa aku masih student kat UM dan berangan nak buat komik kat KL dan jadi jutawan yang ada kepak. Macam Wunan.

Aku dah tua. Dah 36. Nak mampus dah pun. Aku dah tak peduli benda-benda remeh itu dah. Namun malam ini, sambil aku habiskan sisa-sisa kerja aku, aku rasa yang kalaulah diri aku 18 tahun lepas membaca Paradigma Guru, aku akan menguatkan syak aku pada jawapan akhirnya:

Identiti komik Malaysia ialah komik yang hanya boleh diceritakan oleh seorang rakyat Malaysia, tanpa mengira kaum, bahasa, umur dan gaya senilukis. 

Untuk sesuatu benda, pergerakan atau disiplin berkembang, ia sepatutnya mendepakan tangan dan memeluk semua yang sealiran dengannya.

Dan yang paling penting:

Identiti komik Malaysia tidak akan wujud sekiranya tiada komik Malaysia. Semua perbincangan pasal identiti komik Malaysia hanya membazirkan masa yang lebih baik digunakan untuk membuat lebih banyak komik yang best dan memberi sumbangan kepada cornucopia identiti yang hendak dibincangkan sangat itu. Malah, nukilan ini juga satu pembaziran masa. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Anima


 Caption: PICTURE IS UNRELATED

I'm supposed to do work tonight but I decided to take the night off and do whatever. As usual, a night of quiet reflection for the Greatest Mind of the 21st Century, I turn to ways of improving our society.

I have come full circle, at 36, to what I was excited about when I was 18 - women.

I went to an all-boys' school, where I saw what kind of society and community can be created solely by boys. I lived for five years in fear of getting beaten up or raped, or even worse - mocked and ostracised. Such feminine fears, where the social risk is bigger than the physical, even in a society of men.

Disclaimer (to my schoolmates): I'm not dissing you, so don't get your panties in a bunch. Much of my fears were unfounded because I am not that desireable to men, neither am I all that threatening.

Anyway, when I finally escaped with my butthole relatively intact at 18, I was excited to rejoin regular society where women have equal say in things and I wouldn't have to be so afraid of a Lord of the Flies-like society.

My family is run by extremely strong women who don't give a fuck. For good or evil, they are the true executors of everything.

I was convinced, much as I had enjoyed my time with most of my female teachers and with my female-run family, that I would do well surrounded by women. That and the fact that I am a raging, flaming heterosexual, meant that I could put my dick where I want it to - inside vaginas. Or assholes connected just next door to vaginas.

Imagine my horror when I realised two things almost immediately:

1. Women are just as stupid as men

2. The world - the real fucking world - is still run by boys. Not men, boys.

I was like, what the fuck?

And so I trudged along and 18 years later, I have collected enough information and experience to reclaim my faith in women.

18 months ago, I started a comics publishing company. I fully expected a limited market of sweaty, overweight guys - just like me - enamoured by the romance of local comics. I fully anticipated interacting with artists who are all just huge dorks - all of them men and most of whom I already knew over 12 years of being in KL's comics scene.

Now, imagine my pleasant surprise when a majority of those who got excited with comics - local comics - are women. Tudung-clad or in sexy cosplay, the ones passionate about comics are women. And some of our best artists - a growing number and soon to be a majority - are women.

This is a surprise to me because I thought we followed the US model, albeit 5-10 years late. In the '90s, Neil Gaiman - God of Writing himself, wrote about how to get women into comics shops. This was necessary because more women were buying his stuff and that women were just going into comics stores back then and the normal guys like me would ogle and point and stare.

One of the earliest, biggest single, non-business customers for Maple Comics was a woman who thought it would be a great idea to buy our comics as a door gift for her impending wedding. I am still truly touched and would give her some free copies of our latest titles later.

In my working career, I have worked with many excellent female bosses. Some of them reintroduced me to geek culture or showed me this new way of management for the 21st Century workplace.

In writing fiction, one of my first editors and cheerleaders was an Israeli woman, mother of 7 or 9, based in America and manned a right wing website circa 98 or 99.

When I had my heart attack, my sister was the MVP. My doctor in the ER was an extremely capable woman. So were most of the best nurses in my ward, the nutritionist and physiotherapists, etc.

I have met more capable women whom I enjoy working with in the past 8 years than I have ever before.

And yet the feminists in this country are a fucking joke. Prone to bicker about nothing, taking all the attention away from serious, dire issues to focus their judgmental bullshit on trendy falsehoods so as to elevate their ego and perceived standing among the parasitic faux liberal community.

It is with great pleasure that I observe the women of this country march on progressively without the aid of these fake, hipster motherfuckers. Or is it uncle-fuckers? Point is, quoting Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons: haaa-ha!

Not all women are angels or whatever the fuck. These so-called feminists are women. All politicians are dumb, vicious assholes, and some of them are women.

I have also met the most racist, and therefore stupid, people and they are also women.

Aung San Suu-Kyi is a woman, I think, and I don't like her. Anwar Ibrahim is a woman, and I don't like him either. Am I insulting him? Whhaaaat? Is being a woman an insult?

The MalaysianOfficial1 might not be as ruthless as his 'plus 1', whom my friends tell me is a plus-sized woman.

So it's not all the perfect female utopia peppered with angelic beings who would all agree with me as I thought when I was 18. But we're getting there.

I am being sexist when I say I have great hopes for women, especially in this country. Yeah, the nation has serious issues, as all nations do.

I think the key for long-lasting key solutions is to allow for new ideas and what better place to listen to new ideas than the vagina?

In fact, I have been listening to a vagina all night. His name's Michael Moore. And he makes a compelling argument for women.

Anyway, to all who bought our comics, man, woman, kathoey, I would like to say thanks, yam's leaves. I truly appreciate it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Special

 
Caption: Gambar Sekadar hiasan


Last weekend, I went back to Kuantan for my sister's wedding. It's now official - at 36 and the youngest of my siblings, I remain the last human standing who is still single.

Some extended family members have fired warning salvos, voicing their intent to get me hitched to a random girl or whatever.

I know some of my relatives read my blog, sometimes, so these are my thoughts before anyone does anything.

10 years ago, if someone were to do this, I would have done things that would have been quite scathing and scandalous, to ensure that they would never try that again.

Unfortunately, I am quite old now and with my heart disease, my life expectancy has been severely reduced. This all works in my favour, but not to anyone around me, who might have to carry my body and bury me in hallowed ground, lest I rise again from the grave.

The truth is, I thought about marriage 8-10 years ago. I thought that I have been quite tough on Malay girls and I might have to spend some time with them - even the ones I make fun of - to ensure I was being fair.

It lasted a few months and then I decided everyone can go fuck themselves.

Marriage is a hassle and I have never met anyone worth all that trouble. In fact, if someone is in my room or at my apartment, I usually can't sleep.

I am paranoid - a paranoid person armed with a peculiar understanding of human psyche. All humans are fucked up. The normal human's driving force is to be or be seen as better than others. To be 'special'.

This is stupid, because we are all the same. And yet you can fuck any girl in the world today, just by telling them they're special.

"You're the only one who can thaw my icy heart. You're special."

"I choose you! I didn't choose Pikachu, I choose you!"

"I would never lie to YOU (not like how I lied to all these other idiots)"

These are all lies. There's only one person any human believes is special - him or herself. Humans are despicable and I generally do not seek their company.

And then there's marriage. Weddings are expensive and most marriages don't last. It's a silly industry - one I hope to exploit one of these days. I would love to own several wedding places so I could make money. LOTS of money.

And then kids.

Here's the thing. Have you looked out the window lately? Do you really want to bring someone into this stupid, violent, hateful world? Someone who would eventually realise that life has no meaning whatsoever, humans are stupid and deceitful, and whatever you do will eventually come to naught.

Basically, you get old, you get ugly and then you die.

Would you want to bring someone into this world of Trumps and Brexiteers? A world filled with Taylor Swifts? A bleak economic outlook and from what I can see, an impending world war?

If you do, I believe you are selfish. And extremely irresponsible. But that's just me and I generally hate people.

Yerah, sure, the world can be nice, life can be beautiful. But anyone who has the potential to inherit my vast intellect and deep insights can also see all its flaws. Someone with a similar mental capacity as mine would be able to see all the darkness and evil in this world.

It would take huge, serendipitous leaps of enlightenment to be okay with it all. And I don't think even anyone with a similar DNA structure to mine can pull off what I have done. Cause you see, I think I'm special. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rusty The Bastard Shit Thing Clinging to My Head

It has been years since I've written a creative script. Most of the stuff I've written since the last one were corporate stuff, with clear goals and elegant concepts. Well, if not elegant, then empirical.

I spent the past few hours trying to finish a story and I found myself a tad out of practice. I used to do massive amounts of writing till the wee hours of the morning but nowadays, I put the cap at 2am plus.

The reason is, LDL. Bad cholesterol. Most of our bad cholesterol or LDL - low-density lipids - are excreted by our own body, when we don't sleep at night. So yeah, I'm going to bed very soon. Also, nursing a half-flu the past few days have not been very kind to me.

Also, one of the greatest blocks facing any writer is the loss of faith in your story or skills. That suddenly you realise what a fraud you are, that none of the things you ever did were any good and you should just die before embarrassing yourself further.

I would like to say I have overcome that, but I won't since that would be a lie. I am always insecure about my work. The only discernible difference between me 12 years - nay, just a few years ago - and now is that I have isolated my writing insecurities with my approval-seeking.

I no longer care about what people think of my work, nor do I believe that what anyone thinks of my work has any relations to my self-worth. Because the truth is, I am worthless, and therefore beyond worth and therefore, priceless. Wank wank!

I mean, it's nice when people say, "You're a genius!" but even that is momentary. Fleeting. Ephemeral.

 Everything will not last. All structures are unsafe, said a Sufi thingy or whatever the fuck.

Anyway, off to bed. REM sleep, motherfuckers!