Thursday, October 31, 2013

KL Noir: White Launch at Kinokuniya

Last night, Fixi Novo - the English line of Buku Fixi - launched KL Noir: White at Kinokuniya, KLCC. I was the host as per tradition, because I am the editor for this edition. It's a tradition that started with the first volume - KL Noir: Red - so it happened just once before, but a tradition it is nonetheless.

It was a good event - good energy, good turnout. I arrived two hours before the event because I thought of planning everything - the flow, what to say, etc. However, the publisher said it is better to leave it organic as some writers might arrive late and there's no way to set up a list of readers to play off each other's strengths.

I'm big on planning nowadays, because I fucked up a few times in my life due to lack of strategy, so I started the event with some degree of trepidation.

I didn't even introduce the first reader properly, but hopefully nobody noticed (until now). But I believe I made amends after he finished reading. The rest was good - had some snafu here and there, but everyone who came got to read passages from their stories. 

Already, some early birds have picked their favourites and announced it gleefully on social media.

One writer came all the way from Dubai, in a surprise appearance. Some of my schoolmates showed up, and after what I said about SDAR previously, I am quite touched they bothered to attend and even bought several books.

All in all, it was a good event - we even finished ahead of schedule - and I wish the next volume success. KL Noir Blue is open for submissions starting today. Deadline is Dec 31 2013. You can find the details on the KL Noir Facebook page. Also available are photos:

You can purchase Kl Noir: White at Kinokuniya and major bookstores all over Malaysia. If they are out of stock, or if you prefer, you can get them online at the Buku Fixi website here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Separuh Masa: Tweets Pasal Filem

Aku sibuk. Dalam menguruskan tiga syarikat (aku ada tiga syarikat, bro. Siap ada auditor bagai), menjalankan projek-projek korporat dan kreatif, aku terjebak jadi curator @Twt_filem - satu akaun twitter pasal filem Malaysia.

Aku rasa aku tau sapa start, tapi aku malas nak menuding jari.

Sebenarnya, aku dah tanam semua impian aku nak buat filem. Aku dah tulis tujuh skrip filem feature, dan empat dah keluar wayang. Mende lagi aku nak? Nothing to prove, pasal aku best nak mampus.

Kalau pasal duit, aku mengusahakan kerja korporat dan kreatif aku yang bukan filem. Nak borak pasal buat filem pun aku rasa poyo. Aku lebih suka bagi connection kepada bebudak baru nak start yang takde connection.

Tapi, makin lama, aku rasa macam semua isu yang aku muntahkan balik jadi macam sesuatu yang baru untuk bebudak generasi ni. Diorang tak pernah fikir ke nak unionise? Tak pernah tengok jumlah kutipan filem local yang makin jahanam dan rasa industri ni menghala ke arah kemerosotan yang boleh dikira Apokalips X?

Nasib pekerja filem dan pelakon yang buat filem akhirnya akan mintak sedekah dan dikasihani, kalau tak kaya. Struktur sokongan untuk pekerja kreatif amat rapuh dan mungkin takde. Pasal apa sesetengah pelakon di masa tua kena jual produk? Kena bukak bisnes yang belum tentu ada untung? Apa insurans diorang ada, kalau tak beli insurans sendiri atau kalau tak ada anak?

Kalau aku pun tak berhati-hati, aku pun mati beragan. Mati kering. Yang akan menyebabkan aku kurus dan langsing.

Lepas tu, Datin Sofia Jane (Cinta Kita, brooo!) cakap ada ramai orang nak buat benda sama. Rasa best pulak Sofia Jane berborak dengan aku. Harry Boy, brooo!

Dan aku masih ada dua cerita yang aku simpan, tak bagi sesiapa buat melainkan aku dapat full creative control. Aku kerek, aku sombong, aku tak bagi orang buat melainkan dapat dibuat dengan sempurna.

Tapi, macam biasa, aku belum dapat tidur malam ni sebab aku fikir pasal sistem yang lebih bagus. Untuk SEMUA. Sebab aku superhero.

Satu dunia di mana rakyat Malaysia dapat menonton filem-filem best yang menghiburkan. Producer boleh buat duit tanpa menganiayai pekerja kreatif dan pelakon. Idea abstrak boleh disampaikan menerusi medium visual tanpa perlu mengira alignment politik atau kaum. Satu dunia di mana kebajikan rakyatnya bukan bergantung harap pada derma ikhlas untuk orang tua. Filem sebagai pemangkin evolusi beruk kepada manusia.

Malaysia tak sepatutnya jadi negara kebajikan. Negara kesian. Pasal jawapannya semua ada. Bagi aku, amat jelas. Terang lagi bersuluh. Nak mengerjakannya, bukan senang.

Ah, pergilah mampus. Aku ada meeting pagi esok. Aku pun nak melepaskan tengkuk aku sendiri je.

Friday, October 18, 2013

KL Noir: White

KL Noir: White
Click on the picture to purchase KL Noir: White

This is KL Noir: White, the latest installment in Fixi Novo's ambitious four edition anthology. KL Noir: Red has topped Kinokuniya's chart for months now and after White, there will be Blue and Yellow next year.

I am the editor for this anthology and I hope everyone - or at least most people - will enjoy the 18 stories by 18 Malaysian writers, all of whom are scattered all over the world. I believe most are in Malaysia, which is good because we are doing the launch on Oct 30 at Kinokuniya.

Editing it has been a joy as well as a traumatic experience. A joy to do it and traumatising whenever I find errors in an already-edited proof. But such is the way these things work. Keeps me humble, which is not a good thing. Haha.

You will find tales of the classic crime melodrama: murders both vivid and subtle, nuanced as well as hard violence, time travel and superhero stories, nostalgia, a bit of romance and heaps of passion.

They are all wonderful stories and I am honored to have worked with all these great writers. All their stories are great and all the faults in this book are mine.

I'd love to talk more about the stories, but I believe I'll allow the book to speak for itself, and also to talk about the tales spun more directly during the launch. So I guess I'll write about other things concerning the book.

The cover is inspired by a cigarette pack. I would often meet with the Fixi Novo publisher and every time he'd say, "Think of a cover!"

And I'd smoke away and then we came up with the cover. It's strange now, because I am in yet another attempt to quit smoking, but I guess a cigarette pack is hardboiled enough.

KL Noir: White is available on the Fixi website right now - as in, today - and will hit major bookstores two weeks from now. Please click on the picture to be taken to a page where you can purchase it directly. It is now available at a discounted price, as mentioned on the website.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Shinji Ikari: Motherfucker of the '90s

I'm a big fan of Gainax Studios - that damn animation studio set up by anime fans and for anime fans. A big fan, but not an Otaku. I don't know who started it, comforted by the knowledge that the info is safe on Wikipedia's servers. And despite my prancing around as knowing everything, I don't really want to know Gainax all that well, personally. Sometimes, it is best to keep a fan's distance to enjoy their stuff, and I have been enjoying their work for the past 20 years or so.

Three of Gainax's best work ranks high on my top 10 anime of all time - the sublime FLCL (or FuriKuri or FoolyCooly), the romantic Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (His and Her Circumstances) and the pop-culture defining Panty and Stocking (sometimes with Garter Belt). And yet one of the most intriguing characters in anime is from perhaps the most well-known of all Gainax creations - Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion (or Eva for short).

Shinji was a revolution in anime as much as the mecha designs in Eva and the highly philosophical and religious themes. The mecha designs of Eva moved from the manly Super Robot of the Go Nagai era in the '70s to the science-based samurai armour-inspired Real Robot era with Gundam and Macross to its signature concept - organic and feminine.

Shinji, meanwhile, deconstructed the typical mecha anime character - from the brash hot-blooded, death before dishonour of Ryouma and Kouji, the nihilist pragmatism of Hayato, to the cowardly, introverted, effete Shinji.

Shinji is a coward who runs away from everything. He ran away from his father's almost criminal negligence and reckless endangerment, he shuts himself from the world and other people by means of a Sony Walkman and more tellingly, hides literally in the womb of Eva-01 (the pilots are inserted via plugs into the belly of the semi-organic monster) which is later revealed to be carrying his mother's spirit or something. For all intents and purposes, Shinji ran away into his mother's uterus and sometimes gets reabsorbed.

It is a very graphic representation of wanting to have never been born.

As a young man, I sympathised with Shinji. I did not and do not want to crawl back into my mother's womb, but there were times in my life I would have prefered to have been aborted as a fetus.

I was a runner. And I also let other people run roughshod over me.

Around five years ago, I decided to turn around and tuck my chin to my chest and headbutted everything and everyone into submission. With varying degrees of success.

But success is not the point. The point is to stop taking bullshit and beat everything into submission. Especially if I encounter another Shinji who blames everyone and everything but does not take accountability for himself.

We all have a moral obligation to take care of ourselves. It's not a choice; it's a responsibility. I loathe to talk about responsibility because people who usually talk of responsibility are usually irresponsible. People who incessantly talk of honour are dishonourable. We are all walking paradoxes.

I just wanted to share this because I'm feeling combative. Itching for a fight. But I know enough to choose my battles. It is simple profit/loss. Even if I win, even if everyone agrees that I am right - and again, I do not need people to tell me I'm right; I KNOW I'm right - there is nothing at the end of it but stupidity and waste.

These days, I hardly fight. I just step aside and allow the laws of entropy to decay and destroy everything - to strip away the unwanted evil.

However, surging forward, I do feel the need to climb into a Pilder and dock with Mazinkaiser. Shinji and Eva might very well define the psychological, philosophical and religious aspects of '90s mecha, but my heart, my soul, burns with Fire Blaster.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mengejutkan Serangga Daripada Tidur Tapa

Dalam dua minggu lagi, member aku Roy akan balik Malaysia lepas bertapa dekat New York Film Academy. Apakah yang telah dia hayati?

Aku harap dia balik cepat sebab projek komik kitorang memang perlukan dia. Aku tak tergapai buat sorang-sorang.

Member baik aku sorang lagi pulak, Sunder, akan balik Kanada dalam dua minggu lagi. Dia dah berjaya menapakkan diri kat sana.

Fareeq tengah handle ahli keluarga dia. Aku taknak kacau sampai settle hal dia dulu.

Terserempak ada sorang member yang pernah bekerja kat tempat sama satu masa dulu. Aku nak masukkan dia dalam salah satu projek aku.

Baru-baru ini jugak, aku memutuskan untuk menghidupkan kembali satu usahasama yang lama terbengkalai. Terbengkalai kat aku, tapi diorang jalan terus.

Juga, ada satu lagi entiti yang dikepalai sorang lagi member yang aku nak tarik gak.

Aku masih berhutang dengan Chee, beberapa gambar.

Dalam kepala otak aku sekarang, semua benda ni berpusing dan melayang-layang. Jadi tak penat. Jadi best.

Aku ambik masa setahun untuk mengubat pembelotan lama. Namun, aku bersyukur aku masih waras dan masih hensem.

Liar dan Angkuh

Adakah aku sakit gastrik sebab Tuhan mahu aku menilai semula apa yang aku buat selama ini?

Aku tak seangkuh itu untuk fikir Tuhan peduli pasal aku. Aku self-worshipper, tapi aku tak self-centered. Nampak? Tak nampak, bodoh.

Aku fikir aku sakit gastrik dengan teruk sebab aku makan tak menentu, dan aku makan Naga Jolokia, juga disebabkan tekanan daripada kerja yang menimbun.

Aku biasa bangun, lepas tu tak makan sampai pukul 6pm. Malam aku makan pukul 12 tengah malam. Aku menulis sampai pagi. Tia-tiap hari. Dulu, masa muda boleh la. Dulu boleh tiga hari tak tidur. Sekarang ni, aku tak tidur sehari, seminggu nak recover.

Aku kelakar dengan sindiran seorang rakan beberapa minggu lepas yang mencadangkan bahawa aku seorang yang hanya tau berkata-kata tanpa buat apa-apa. Aku fikir balik, dalam sepuluh tahun aku bekerja, mengerja dan dikerjakan oleh KL, aku dah buat lebih banyak daripada ramai orang dalam seluruh hidup mereka.

Dan aku cakap ini dengan penuh rasa bersyukur, bukan dengan rasa nak berlagak. Aku tau aku bernasib baik. Walaupun kerja aku menyebabkan aku masuk hospital beberapa kali sebab tekanan, aku masih tak mati dan masih mampu siapkan kerja ikut deadline.

Aku asyik gelakkan dan mencemuh orang yang buat sesuatu untuk dapat recognition. Sebenarnya, aku tak berlaku adil. Aku dulu pun buat benda untuk recognition. Aku cuma nak cakap yang recognition daripada orang lain itu hollow. Kosong. Tak berisi. Sekiranya tidak disertai dengan recognition diri sendiri.

Terima kasih atas penghargaan dan pengiktirafan itu semua, tetapi tanpa diri sendiri menghalalkan apa yang diri sendiri sudah buat, kau takkan temui kepuasan.

Setiap benda yang aku buat akan menyebabkan aku berfikir panjang. Baru-baru ni, aku edit buku. Aku belajar banyak benda baru, walaupun aku dulu pernah jadi editor kat suratkhabar, dan ilmu yang aku dapat aku harap akan menyediakan aku untuk kerja-kerja yang lain.

Kebanyakan skill sebenarnya ialah pola pemikiran. Kalau kau boleh melompat daripada satu cara berfikir ke satu cara berfikir yang lain dengan cepat dan mudah, maka lagi banyak benda kau boleh buat.

Aku pun tak tau kenapa aku tulis semua ni. Mungkin, dengan menghargai perut yang tak sakit sampai guling-guling kat atas lantai ni, aku dapat rasa satu angin baru yang bakal membawa aku menulis sampai ke pagi.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Guts and Glory


Last week, I felt a sharp burn in my gut which left me rolling on the floor, not laughing at all.

So I went to a clinic where a doctor diagnosed me with gastritis. I have never had this condition before. I thought my guts were made of iron because I could eat the hottest things on the planet and still be unaffected. I ate the Naga Jolokia, South African chillis, and all the spices recorded by Asians.

Alas, my stomach is not immortal and this weekend saw me battling pain and drowsiness from all the meds I had to take.

Every time I was stressed out or even think about the word 'stress', I could feel a wash of acid descending on my stomach walls. I had to redo my breathing techniques and up my oats intake and swear off eating chilli until today.

It is yet another reminder that I will soon die. Thankfully, I did not grow old and ugly first.

Wanita Kosmos

Tonight, I met someone whom I consider a legend.

I am not a very big fan of many things from Malaysia - except for my own stuff - but there are a few things that stuck in my head.

Eight years ago, I was a judge for the now-defunct Malaysian Video Awards. It was the first time I met Yasmin and I was immediately annoyed by her extremely positive outlook on life.

However, that optimism was what you needed in order to sit through over 500 short films in three days.

Honestly, most of the shorts were just okay. Some were really bad. A few, though, stuck in my mind perhaps forever. One of those was Wanita Kosmos - an animated short by Diffan Sina.

It was done in a naive style of picture books complete with labels. There were jokes concerning Dr M's administration, but done in that light-hearted manner that few comedians have managed to do. Most comedy and satire often fall into being too light or too harsh. Wanita Kosmos was just nice.

It was satire without being too much, commentary without being pedantic and an overall good story.

Together with 6horts by Amir Muhammad, Wanita Kosmos made me want to do short movies.

It has been eight years. I have done exactly one short and then found myself disliking the task of directing. I don't care enough. I have so many stories, but no one to do them, and not enough time to properly execute everything myself.

These days, I only want to do movies if I can have a great deal of creative control, without being the director. Scriptwriters are often pushed to the side and I can no longer step aside.

I do, however, have a network of friends who want to do these things anyway. So let the the games begin.

Tonight, I met Diffan Sina and watched his short film Kekasih, amongst 10 other movies at Malaysian Shorts. I also met some people who still have the drive to aspire for things.

I am much too old, much too jaded and my energies focused on survival to focus on creating something, so I would have to work with other people just to create stuff for the hell of it.

But enough about me. Diffan Sina is one of those creators who take their craft seriously but don't take themselves seriously. Someone like Lat. So it was no surprise Kekasih bagged the audience choice award tonight, and I start dreaming of doing things for fucks.

Overall, a very good night. Most of my gastritis, I believe, stems from stress. Stress from chasing after some payments and dealing with reality. But tonight, tonight I will dream.