Thursday, 31 December 2009

worth a thousand words

when i was in the city, yesterday, i had managed to get stranded on the local trains network (or line, considering there is not much of a network). although, the lack of punctuality and baseline services is not surprising, what is, is the fact that i had managed to sit myself beside a foreign journalist / photographer. checking one of those fancy slr cameras (something i am totally in the dark about), i notice he is trying quite unsuccessfully to do two things at once, and thus offer an assistance. obviously, this strikes up a conversation, and i am happy to indulge in one discourse that i can not find outside the academia i hold so dearly, and definitely not in the companionship of many.

indeed, i am no expert on the issues he is enthusiastically diving into, but with some ground compromise, we end up talking about 'pictures that changed the world'. which is what i chose to blog about today, seeing as it is thoroughly interesting, and that it allows me to post pretty pictures and forgo any typing. let's see how many pictures are familiar to the reader:








Tuesday, 29 December 2009

in which the second-in-charge takes lead

when the white man came to the western lands, when the white man came to the desolate isle of australia, they brought with them many things to tempt and seduce the indigenous people. perhaps, the promise of trinkets and the threat upon life were sufficient, but as all white men were, and some continue to be, there is no game in dissuasion, no certainty in false pretense, unless you have the proverbial ace in the hole. and that was manifest in cheap, adulterated and watered down beer. for the native americans, for the aborigines, for the indigenes of many aplace, your vice is alcohol.

when the world was young, and when people are not yet old, there are many predispositions on life that we do not conceive until age has bittered the mind and seasons have tainted the skin. as for those who dare to grow but resist to grow up, there is a special place in hell for us, and this place is known as earth. upon which we are continually, if not continuously tormented with a burden so harsh, so slate, that we have given it a name, and if you have not come to know of it, you will with age, and it is known as responsibility. for all men, especially those who assume power where they should not, for the presidents and ministers and kings and sultans, for the pharohs and maharajas, for the many among us all, your vice is violence.

when there was gender roles, unlike defined today, barring the homogeniety we falsely thrust upon the separate sexes, there may have been (i say with caution, in assuming the best in people, where i do not believe) irrepressible desire. and when the physique of man counted for more than what the tongue has to say, or the mind has to think, then by all purpose, intent and means, does the disinhibition of such longing take manifest. for the men, and man, sometimes to include women, but i highly doubt so, your vice is lust, and sex.

when there are many things to give upon us, the troubles and woes of the world, where indeed there should be none. where there is complication over the simplicity that is life, than many of us shall fall and have fallen, succumb to the nature of what the layman knows as stress. and for all the stressors in life, there is escapism, but unlike the indigenous and their liquid of lurid manifestations, there has to be something stronger, more potent and classier than simple, dousing potions - and the world introduces its brother: for the aristocracy of sinners, your vice is in drugs.

when there were things to consider, and decisions to make, we are often put in situations where the lesser of us are revealed, and the greater among us are rebuked. and all that comes with success is apparent (and apparently) not worth the sacrifices in idealisms. assuming one has any to begin with. for those who were pure, and righteous, and true, for those against whom a taint was never knew, your sins are aplenty, from foods, to words, to backstabbing, to knavery, to money - your vice is yourself.

when i am alone in this world, and a hand reached out is the same hand thwarted with emptiness, unbeknownst to even you, who glances passingly at it as if it were nothing. when i feel that there can be nobody else who can ease the haunted sleep and unwaking dreams. for me, my vice is my muse - and that is you.

Monday, 28 December 2009

life imitating fiction

last weekend i had attended a friends' wedding (congrats to the both of them for making it through from being highschool sweethearts!) and it was slightly surprising to see that i had a couple of readers in the midst of friends i had not even seen since way back when. aside from feeding my ego with the fact that in fact, there are actually people who read this blog, it added to the pool of data i had already had on what sells and what doesn't, and you'd be surprised at what people are actually inclined to read.

first off comes what strikes people off the bat - when i meet someone (or met someone at the wedding, for example), i expect to catch up on what's happening in their lives. and obviously, this is (generally) reciprocal, although there are exceptions (funny story, i should tell it sometime, but not here). in any case, one of the first few questions i get is: 'hey are you et cetera, and is your blog ... ?' by those who read. this is awesome (as per feeding ego) and slightly intrusive (in that my feigned anonimity wasn't as successful as i had intended). but, oh well, i cannot deny myself a serendipitous complement or two.

and they first mention the blog that they find most memorable, which is, contrary to any of my predictions - the one and only fictional entry i had written. now, i don't know what exactly about the post made it such that almost everyone who reads the blog refers to it first when meeting me in real life, but if that's really what people want to read, then by all means, i should give the (fictional) character more life and blog about him more often. or be half-assed and just make new ones up whenever i feel like it.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

broken-hearted buddha

hello, again, dear ardent readers. for those keeping track, i have been away for about a week, visiting the wonders of an historic siem riep, cambodia. what i thought would be an arduous and exhausting trip, turned out to be mildly tiring, if at all, considering it was a 3-day biking adventure, totaling about 120 km of dirt track, mountain roads and semi- to far-from-well paved tar streets.

for the low-down, you can visit the spiceroads cycling adventures website, and design your own adventure here, and i thoroughly recommend it as an outing for friends or as a family getaway.

i'm far too tired and slightly detached from my normally condescending mood (for which i expect many thanks) to detail the history of all that i saw; most of you know enough about the tonle sap lake, and angkor wat temple such that i need not elaborate, but i do want to point out that, apart from these two major attractions, i found the most beautiful setting for the many temples was for angkor thom, because it had been overrun with lush jungle and the blend of architecture meeting nature was something borne (and born) in fantasy and myth.

instead, i would like to tell you about a slightly peculiar encounter i had at the night market in siem riep - as i strolled down the alleys between rows of makeshift shops, waning in attention as the women of my family wile away the minutes (unerringly seeking thence-nerver-used trinkets and shiny baubles), i stumble across a quaint shop, specialising in the sales of figurines. there are many to its name, ranging from the hindu gods, mainly brahma, shiva and vishnu, to the many deities of folklore and religious mishmash, to the replicas of siddharta gautama. and as i pass, fleetingly my eye takes leave upon a particular figurine, that has in the place of its heart, a hollow, an emptiness where there should be none.

this is something new to me, as i have not encountered before, any reason for buddha's likeness to be represented with such absence, and i query the shop-keeper as to why this is so. in reply, i am told that, indeed, the normal depictions of buddha are whole, and justly this one should be as well. however, in the carving of this figurine, made of cheap timber, it was found that the raw piece of wood was damaged, probably due to insect or fungal infection. and hence, in product, it has come to be, my personal buddha with a hole where something was, symbolic of the yearning heart, and unbroken sheen of appearance, pretense to only a knowing of the resonant emptiness where a beating life should spring.

as per the shopkeeper, he would sell this to me for a 'cheap price' because it was, in paraphrasing his words, 'defective, broken and a mistake'. i only smile as i told him, buddha-san may be broken, but he is far from a mistake - he has passed a test of time, of himself, and to mend the abyss, all he needs is a little love.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

catching up

catching up, never though i'd find you here,
in the moment, disappear,
we all get lost.
i would wade, a little more than a hundred years,
in an ocean of faulty tears,
thence where you are.

under the blue mechanic light,
all my monsters dance in place;
in the shadows of your face,
the dawn takes flight,
but only for tonight,
yes only for tonight,
though only for tonight.

and wearily, haunt me in my dreams,
a reverie with stitched, burst seams,
there is no other that fuels this muse;
picking the ripest of superficial ennuis,
pockmarked, misshapen with eerie disbeliefs,
awakening to merely a feign, a ruse.

what more can i hope for, lightning, thunder; even as god would set sky asunder;
if the simplest request bequeathed with nay, when asked 'if only i could catch your number?'

Saturday, 12 December 2009


i read once, that nothing we do anymore, is original. everything that can be done, has been done, and we are just mixing and matching different concepts and ideas, to create variations of things already in existence. while this can only be answered on a personal level, depending on your interpretation on what is 'original' and what is 'hybrid,' there is little room for question that the concept is an interesting one.

on the one hand you have the adherent idea, that indeed, nothing is original. been there, done that. and for those who think this is far fetched, utterly preposterous, think again. a simple analogy comes to mind as a rubik's cube - it has been in the (pre-determined) perfect state at some point. and things have just been mixed up such that it seems random and disorder. but to the trained eye (or even mind, considering some people solve cubes while blindfolded), there is method to the madness. and coming full circle back to the analogue, the originality of each locus on the cube is permanent, even though the state of the locus is fleeting.

on the other hand, how is it that there is perpetuality in discovery? surely, if everything is 'known' and we just need to ruffle a few feathers to find the correct combination to answer specific questions, then someone would have come up with answers to those important questions. like where do you place your hand when you're kissing? or what colour of mascara says 'i'm affectionately sensitive' but avoids the 'emo' label?

but really, it's easy to create situations where both ends of the spectrum may hold true. maybe its duality concerning reality is where the truth lies, but that, again, i think is something to answer on a personal level.

what i do want to hear from people, is if you are unoriginal, or if you think that (independent of this idea) everything is dissimilar from what has been done, and everything anyone does, anywhere, is truly 'original' (returning to brackets because, again, it goes back to definitions), how do you cope with it? plagiarism and unoriginality is one of my personal pet peeves, which i can unbiasedly say is not shared by everyone, but still, i like to think that it's a question which we find disturbing on an ethical, if not professional level.

i think jean-luc godard summarised it best when he said:

“It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to."


Friday, 11 December 2009

insulting one's intelligence

i watched '2012'. the neutrinos are mutating? seriously? wtfits (what the eff is this shi-)? wasn't a horribad movie, i guess.

i nearly watched 'new moon,' but princess, who is a big fan of the series (i kid you not, i think she watched the first installment 4 or 5 times. although that's nowhere as hard core as a friend of a friend who went to watch 'this is it' [you know, that michael jackson movie / documentary] 15 times. in 2 weeks. that's like once a day. what what in the what), tells me it's disappointing, and overall bad. dodged a bullet with that one, i guess.

then i hear of 'ninja assassins.'


i hang out with some friends on tuesday, because the pillsbury doughboy is getting married in january, and i, have the precedented honour of being a 'witness'. i'm not sure how the legalities of marriage work in this country, but having a different set of witnesses for marriage registration than that from the ceremony itself is... redundant? it's not a murder case, and it's definitely not watergate. but i guess there's no harm in it, and it didn't cost me a cent so it's all good. in effect i did get to wring doughboy of a lunch and high tea, so free food is a good motivator.

we end up talking about politics. just freaking, ugh. horribaddible. i guess we're all 'growing up,' but if part and parcel of it is sitting at a table with your best friends and talking presumptuously about things that are both out of your hands and beyond your mind's grasp, well i'd rather stay a kid for the time being (or forever; refer to peter pan syndrome).

bringing it all together: i want to say 'stop insulting xxx's intelligence,' where xxx does not refer to any form of pornography. however, i really can't say that considering the coherence of my post is somewhat lacking. ah well, you'd be surprised what experimental mauves can do for the idle mind.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

a daydream with my imaginary quartet

it's actually a sextuplet, but never you mind that (giggity). again, with the crazy dreams, and this time, although slightly less vivid than 'the shit rug,' there is a residual tactile hallucination that literally makes my skin crawl. to elaborate on the dream:

the setting is in a desolate area, and as i am currently watching a cooking show where jamie oliver is up to his shenanigans with some navajo native americans in the arizona desert, my mind quickly adheres to this picture and so we shall use it as the backdrop. this is not in truth, the entirety of the situation, as any american will be quick to testify that arizona is not as desolate as one would think, and the picture i have in my dream really is dry, dessicate and barren. nevertheless, we move along, now to the characters of this build: many men and women, no children, and the protagonist, yours truly, sitting atop a hill, bordering a caved summit.

and there, we find that a women (somehow thinking of an aunt or mother, something along those lines) has been devoured by some alien-insectoid things and has turned into a cocoon (or for those pedantic, probably a chrysalis, due to its golden-brown colour).

in effect, this has caused the arousal of the local military (notice how my dream has taken upon itself the guise of some third-rate hollywood alien-invasion fotm flick) and has lead to the lockdown of the locale. one thing leads to another, and most of the details are lost to my fleeting mind, but the next thing i know, the pupa / chrysalis / cocoon has burst, releasing an infinite swarm of the alien-insects. just imagine one of those scenes from indiana jones where you've got millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, leeches (which, although technically are not insects, but you get the idea). add in a few mites and praying-mantises for good measure, that's a pretty picturesque ennui, is it not?

anyway, the plethora of aliens are soon upon me, burrowing underneath my skin, and eating away at the sub-dermal layers of fat that anchor skin to bone (or parenchymal tissue, depending on location), and i jump out of bed feeling the itch everywhere on my body, even many minutes after i'm out of bed and into the shower. shit's nasty, i tell no lie.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


i woke up today to find that my chessboard was covered with cat fur. orange cat fur, to be precise, which narrows down the choice of culprit cats to one of my three cats at home. upon closer inspection, all the white pawns were also smothered in velvety smooth sheddings (my sister had given all the cats a bath earlier in the week, and i must admit, it's not an easy task. one of our cats, which has a fond dislike for humans, seems only to have his misanthropy rivaled by his hatred for water. and considering a bath combines being handled for the duration of being soaked, well. this had not forbode well for either my sister or the cat. i digress.)

white pawns. and cat fur. interestingly enough, the cradle in which all the black pieces are holstered were clean enough, and the board itself was somewhat clean; had i not inspected the surface with more pedantic scrutiny, i would not have noticed the paw-prints which now cover the board in its entirety. i wonder, had i had access to a csi toolkit, would i have been surprised with the results of dusting the whole set? would there be some intriguing murder/rape case for me to solve? would i be entitled to don sunglasses and have my hands on my hips as someone in the background yells 'yeahhhhhhh...'? actually, i guess that's too cheesy, and nothing could warrant such blatant disregard for self dignity. but i wonder.

so i set up the chess set and leave it on the table where the orange cat, harry plopper, sometimes crouches. this also happens to be the same table where i set up my old skool laptop and do whatever it is we do on the internet. and so i go on with my daily routine, fully expecting plopper to start playing (as i had faced him the white pieces that he apparently prefers). ixnay on the hombre. no go. nada. zilch.

i go off to the bathroom and come back to see that the pieces have been moved (although not really in the stereotypical chess moves i have come to learn, but maybe this is some of those new-age versions of chess that i am yet unfamiliar with). and plopper is sitting there, caught red handed. or red pawed, whichever you prefer. with a black pawn in his mouth. staring at me with his unworldly ala-shrek-puss-in-boots saucer eyes, i can only imagine him saying: 'touche'.

later in the afternoon, i catch him, this time sitting on the chess board while facing the stairs, probably eagerly awaiting his next challenger (which, due to the lack of more cat fur, coupled with the fact that the other two cats we have are either too afraid or too apathetic to be involved with human affairs, i can only assume means one of us [humans] or the resident squirrels that sometimes jump in through the upstairs window.) and so i oblige him, warily humoring his feigned ignorance, by playing a game by myself as he watches on (sweet crustacian android jesus, i am getting really bored if i'm forced to play a chess game against myself). and as he slowly eyed each and every move, probably berating me for the simplest of mistake i had made throughout the game, i can but wonder if he's just playing me all along, having me gotten in a bit too much of his catnip.

or him and the mouse are secretly having a more civilised cat-and-mouse game, one which will spell the end of us all.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

there's a small matter of that $1.61

there's not many things that don't fly with me. however, some things just don't. like durian-flavoured ice-cream with whipped cream. like fake smiles. like cannibalistic acolytes who won't serve sweet carnivorous ewok jesus. like people who still don't believe in the end of days being brought about by genetically-enhanced super-velociraptors. but many of these things breach the realm of improbability (for example, amongst my listed, durian-flavoured ice-cream with whipped cream. really, whipped cream? why not just eat it with cholesterol extracted from myocardial-infarcted cadaveric atria?)

it's nowhere as delicious as it looks. at least with whipped cream added.

premise the 1st:
i went to the local grocery store and bought a bottle of that thai chilli sauce. labelled at $7.39, when they usually sell for ~$12 a bottle, i was happy enough to just grab a bottle and head for the check-out counter. note two things: firstly being that i intended to buy, and only to buy, a bottle of sweet thai chilli sauce, which is what i ended up doing, without diverging attention or coin to other products (admittedly i did browse the haagen-dazs ice creams for any new flavour, since i know for a fact that there is a new flavour out, dark chocolate and orange. but there was none, so we'll forget this slight sidetrack). and secondly, the bottle was labeled as having contents of 800 oz. this isn't 60's america, get with the times and start labeling in metric. the french, genevans and pretty much every other nationality in the world swear at you.

at the counter, while in line, i already count out my exact change to pay for the item, and i'm surprised to find that upon swiping the bar code, the cashier tells me it costs $9. now, before you can argue that maybe, i mistook the label per quote from the aisle, just, no. i check these kind of things at least thrice before even picking up the bottle to look at whatever it is i'm purchasing. so, just no.

to cut the story short (as i've got a second premise below), there's a small matter of $1.61.

premise the second:
at the local bookstore. and when i say 'local' this means i have to travel into the heart of the city, because there's no such thing as a good bookstore where i live :(. i'm searching for a specific book, lewis carroll's 'through the looking glass'. now, i've been to this bookstore, kinokuniya, before. many times, in fact, such that i know for a fact that there's a whole section of classics in paperback (hence, being cheap).

however, since the last time i've been there, things have been changed around a bit, and i have no idea where the classics are - could they still be under lierature? or are they now under classics? maybe they've just lumped all the associated books under the children's section? so i go to one of those electronic self-help stations and query the book, to find that there's at least 5 different versions of the book in question. being the pragmatic person that i am, i plot a course through the aisles. the first book i encounter is a combo of 'alice in wonderland' and 'through the looking glass' in the literature section. already having the latter book as a stand alone, i'm not too inclined to buy this book, but i pick it up anyway, and head to the next section, classics.

unfortunately, the whole section's been re-arranged and i couldn't make out where each book was supposed to be - i have to admit, i am still unfamiliar with the dewey decimal system, but this was supposed to be in trder of author surname, so...

off to the information kiosk we go, and i ask the lovely, although obviously uninterested and slightly annoyed girl (who can really blame her, as it's about 10 p.m. on a sunday night, when most people would be happy to lounge at home with their families or be out partying in some form or another). she types in a few words on her keyboard (far too little to be the title of the book i'm searching for, though) and clicks furiously for a few seconds before informing me that there's only one version of the book they have in store, which is, unbeknownst to her at this point, the one i already am holding in my hand concealed by the countertop. as she hands me a slip of paper directing me to the book, which is now not on the shelves anymore, i kindly inform her that i have already looked there, and have found the book she's mentioning; would she be kind enough to locate the other versions of the book in store that are cheaper and would be more to my preference. with a quick wave of her hand, straightly staring into my eyes, she says 'takde la encik, tu je yang ada' (i'm sorry, sir, that's the only one we have in store. i don't look that old to warrant an 'encik', do i? at least an 'abang' or something, i reckon).

anyway, i'm thoroughly unsatisfied with this explanation and effort (or, definitely, the lack thereof). coupled with the ample time i have in waiting on some people having dinner, i embark on a personal quest to find these other versions of the book. again to make the story short, about 45 minutes later, i end up with all 5 versions of the book, with varying prices from $8.50 to $35, the priciest being the one i had initially plucked off the shelves.

in the end, i leave the store with, instead of the one book i was looking for, four penguin paperbacks (with the standard price of $8.50 each, covering most of the classics that i'm interested in), and save one buck.

was the one odd dollar worth it? mos def.

joke of the day courtesy of my sister:

there's a toothbursh ad on telly:
'... with the ability to brush cheek and tongue...'

princess: why would you want to brush chicken tongue?

Saturday, 5 December 2009

i'm not sure...

where philosoraptor should be placed on the alignment chart.

Friday, 4 December 2009

adding up to more than 360

many people successfully separate their personal and private lives; we've all heard the phrases 'i don't mix work and pleasure', 'not between 9 and 5', 'what happens in vegas...' i think this is a very pragmatic approach to life, especially nowadays, when it's so easy to bring your work home on your blackberry or just opening your e-mail (or the opposite, when we spend hours of work time on facebook).

on the other hand, trying to do this has given me many problems - 'work' issues accumulate during my off-time and eventually start to overwhelm me on one of those black mondays. or was it black sunday? also, family and friends tend to judge (my) character based on the face value of my relaxation time. such common questions are 'don't you feel like doing some work?', 'wow, you've got so much free time', etc. i'm sure you've had that before and can relate.

it's particularly hard to explain this ideology to people who haven't the faintest idea of the separation between the two. for many people i know, work and play are just part and parcel of life - a duality of everyday existence such that, i've noticed, has caused the quality of both to be mediocre and, in my opinion, lacking as an overview. but, to each his own, i'm sure some people perform better with the adherence to such separation, whereas others don't, and all i ask is that one thinks about which results in what before jumping on the 'streaming movies at work' bandwagon because allocating work time for play is the other side of the coin that is 'once in a while checking my work e-mail on my iphone because it makes me seem like an important person in social circles.' or you could be altruistic and actually assume that person is truly compensating.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

in which 'kaya' smells like turpentine

suppose there is a bottle of your favourite spread, sitting on the tabletop. maybe it's jam, maybe it's chocolate spread, maybe it's 'kaya', or even mayonnaise. or if you're one of those crazy people who like lemon spread, or marmite, sure, whatever floats your boat. suppose, this is in a country where there is no change of weather, and it is constantly 25 degrees celcius, there's zero windspeed and the humidity is around 75%.

now, suppose that you open this bottle, and find that there is no cutlery around. nobody's watching so you dip a finger into the spread (not having washed it beforehand), and sample a bit to taste. and it tastes awful. not 'awful' in the sense that it's off taste, or it's a different flavour from which you prefer, but 'awful' here means that it's truly, undebatably horribaddible, with extra fail to boot.

now, go off with your twisted, but pursed lips, and wash your hands. proceed to re-cap the bottle, forget about it and leave it for about 3 months on the tabletop.

what taste, colour and smell would the contents be if you re-visited it? would you test the contents again? would you offer it to a friend?

Monday, 30 November 2009

open to interpretation

i like how various forms of art are so subjective that it really boils down to personal preference or appreciation. like how music means different things to different people, or even when they mean different things to the same person when the person is going through different things in life. same goes for other forms of art, including but not exclusively, movies, pictures, drawings... you get the idea.

anyway, i was driving my mom's car earlier today (because i fail at having my own) and the radio was set to some oldies station. on came a song, which i had not heard in ages. pretty much since my high-school days. and it really struck me - how the song had little to no meaning then, but today i just went 'yeap, so true, so true'.

i'm sure a lot of you have had the same situation happen and i guess it takes nothing more than a simple 10 seconds of reflection to have this happen. what's more interesting, however, is just how different people's interpretations are and why they are so. a little something of a social observation i like to make. i call it 'put yourself in my shoes' and where practice meets reality, sometimes it makes me see things i never really did otherwise. i guess, in that sense, people are open to interpretation - any why not so? people are the best form of art to begin with.

Friday, 27 November 2009

you don't change lanes in a roundabout

because, not only is it wrong, but it's also retarded and gay (apologies if anyone reading actually is retarded or homosexual, but i'm using the colloquial terms that are figurative, and not literal).

i've seen a lot of horribaddible driving, even though i don't generally drive. i'd much prefer to walk or take public transport, where i don't have to worry about all the hassle and stress of driving myself. but, even as an observer, i've been exposed to too much road-related failures to say that people, in general, can actually drive. sure you have a license, but in my book, that doesn't make you someone who can drive.

here's a checklist to see for yourself if you meet the standard ethics of being on the road:

- do you give your indicator signal at least 5 seconds before making a turn?
- do you switch lanes at ease, unerringly swerving into a neighbouring lane just to surpass the slow-ass car in front of you?
- do you stop at to let pedestrians cross the road (even if there's no zebra crossing)?
- do you actually stop at the 'stop' sign, even though there's no cars around as far as you can tell?
- do you cut that red light when you're alone on the road, in the middle of the night, and there's obviously nobody's around to catch you (or worse, run into you)?
- does the orange light mean slow down, or go faster?
- do you use your horn sparingly, or is it part of your leet driving rotation? (accelerate, clutch, shift gear, accelerate, jerk break, horn, rinse and repeat)

and let's not get started with the obvious faults, like the ones one of my friends acknowledgingly has (she's a girl, btw, for those keeping track about women's driving skills); such as the classics:

'the car has an indicator stick? what?'
'i don't know how to drive stick :(' (girl your boyfriend is one unlucky bas3rd :/ )
'can you get out of the car to signal me if i'm parking alright? i can't see below the dashboard' <-- okay so this is not really her fault, being short and all. but still.
'let's not park here, there's only parallel parking'
'at a t-junction, whomever gets there first, goes first, right?'

but, even though i would like to say i'm a pro driver, i'm really not. i don't drive and even if i did, i guess i'm pretty horrible at it. which is why i don't drive. which is why i'm bad at it. circular argument, and go.

but for those who do, it's still a catch 22: in some places i've been, the road is like evolution. on steroids. and lsd for good measure. it's ruthless and people pretty much gut you for being too ethical. it's a dog eat dog world and if you're not an alpha, you're not getting past the 3 block benchmark. is that an excuse for you to drive like a retard, though (again apologies)? not really, but i can see if you did. does it help you sleep better at night? i hope it doesn't, because if it does, you're really in the fail category to start with :/

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

you are (not) what you eat (or drink)

i like going to starbucks. it gives me an air of being yuppie. i sit there, in my short but baggy pants, maybe a sweatshirt or a hockey jersey (they keep me cold in the hot, tropical weather, you see). and i sip my coffee (which is bought at the local mamak stall, because starbucks' coffee is far too expensive for a cheapskate like me :p).

i'll spend 2 hours, maybe three. just sitting there idling. calm down, nobody ever sits at starbucks, so it's not like i'm doing any harm. it's all good. besides, the chairs are comfortable. i like <3. tables are usually a bit sordid, they should really fix that. doesn't fit my style.

oh yeah, and what yuppie would be complete without his laptop? should be a macbook pro or a mac mini (amagad super cute), but i'm rolling with some pc hybrid. conflicts with the yuppie thing but, eh. feign ignorance or something i guess. . gotta look busy with my clicking and typing - obviously this is impressing the chicks because when i glance up from my paper (substitute a third-grade magazine for the wall street, for convenience and practicality) every once in a while, i can see them checking me out. sister, if you want a piece of this, don't hate: appreciate. oh! rhymes, i'd better write that down. let's see. bookmarks, nothing much in here. oh yeah facebook, how could i forget. cool, could keep me here for a couple of hours, at least...

-the hippie yuppie-

Monday, 16 November 2009

et the cinematera

ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the time has come for the unveiling of the number one pick. numero uno. ichiban no eiga desu. wayang terhebat. awwww yeah, boi (cue final countdown soundtrack).

however, have you noticed how they show the 3rd place match before the finals at the world cup? how 'america's funniest home videos' awards 2nd place, followed by 1st/3rd? (by the way for 'how i met your mother' fans, bob saget is the voice of the narrator. how cool is that?) yeap, totally gonna leave you guys in suspense while i count down some of the movies that didn't make the list. what can i say, a good writer never gives the ending away when he can totally jerk you around one more time. not that i'm a good writer, but that's besides the point.

best romantic film
baz luhrmann's romeo + juliet

best animation
the incredibles

best mobster / cop film

best sci-fi film
the matrix

best fantasy film
edward scissorhands

best comedy
forrest gump

best drama
the shawshank redemption

best stop-animation film
the nightmare before christmas

best non-english film
shichinin no samurai (the seven samurai)

best psychological thriller

best action / adventure
indiana jones: raiders of the lost ark

best horror film
stephen king's it

best comic adaptation / superhero film

best war film
schindler's list

best random film
fight club shared with finding forrester

best hero
gregory peck as atticus finch in to kill a mockingbird

best heroine
gillian anderson as agent dana scully in the x-files: i want to believe

best villain(ess)
heath ledger as the joker in the dark knight

best soundtrack / score

turkey film of the millennium (worst film)
battlefield earth

aaaaaaaand apologies for the textwall list of movies. yeah, i actually had to cut down a few categories because it's ridiculously long. i'm sure some of you are already questioning my choices as there's loads of good movies that didn't make the list. but forget that, it's time for the number one film (more dramatic drumroll!):

1. requiem for a dream

this may come as an anti-climatic answer to those who have read my blog for some time, as i've already mentioned how much i love this movie. anyway, because of the extensive (although still not exhaustive) list i've already written, i won't review it. i guess the mysticism at this point adds to pique your interest in the movie, eh? eh? gonna watch it now? eh? eh?

p/s: i just finished reading 'love in the time of cholera' and i just found out there's a movie based on the book, which came out in 2007. only realised this because i was channel surfing today and it was showing on telly. yeah, i've been out of touch with movies for some time. anyway, i loved the book and the movie was mehhhh. i wouldn't be as harsh as the critics have been, giving it as low as a 29% rating. still worth the watch though.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

deus et cinema

continuing where we left off,

5. silence of the lambs
where v was the antithetical hero, hannibal lecter is the epitome of antiheroic deuteragonists. cunning, deranged, impetuous and especially charming; lecter is the kind of character you hate so much, you love him. now, a slight diversion from the review, i make a distinction between lecter's role and that of the villain in the movie (who, imo, is 'buffalo bill', the transsexual/cross-dressing serial killer), for many reasons - one of them being because he is not really everything one hopes to find in a cannonical villain. indeed, sometimes i find myself rooting for lecter more than i do for (clarice) starling.

just as i would not have focused on v in his film, lecter is not the mainstay of 'silence of the lambs'. a stellar performance by jodie foster in the role of clarice starling makes the story very down-to-earth and at times, i felt like the movie is more of a tragedy than a drama, especially when it comes to the psychological banter between the two.

for those who cannot resist a good thriller that swoops in and attacks your ethics and ideal from every angle, this is a must-watch. at the price of yet more sleepless nights. quid pro quo, clarice.

4. se7en
yet another dark and dreary film, se7en comes highly ranked in my list not just because of the immensing storyline, but due to the great effect (and affect) david fincher brings out of the film by setting subtle atmospheric elements. the rainy, unnamed city; biblical references to cardinal sins; oldfag vs. newfag personas in morgan freeman and brad pitt, respectively; the elusiveness of john doe, the greater evil; and so much more. every aspect of the movie has a disturbing artistic value that makes you question morality to the core. cultural ethics out the window, establishment hierarchy down the drain, the time is nigh to question your own beliefs and ideals. will you fall short?

3. back to the future (ep. i)
let's leave all these mind-fu*ks and psychologically-scarring films behind and move on to greener pastures. sci-fi, comedy, drama and a dash of romance, back to the future is so epic, i don't know where to start. remember these moments / phrases?
flux capacitor
johnny b goode
88 miles per hour
flying delorean
1.21 gigawatts
think, mcfly
whoa, this is heavy
great scott!
a dog named einstein
the power of love
lightning strikes and badass flame skidmarks
back in time...

yeap, that's just a handful of the legendary awesomeness that is back to the future. really, i'm not going to write up a summary here - you know what i'm talking about. and if you don't, go watch it, pronto. for shame.

2. the lord of the rings: the two towers
for all i care, you could quote me as having said any piece in the trilogy at this point. unlike the other film series' i've quoted, this one doesn't really stand on its own, and i guess, that's part of why it ranks so high on my list. i may be biased towards the fantasy genre, and even moreso when it comes to movies based on (awesome) books, but when a whole lot of people agree with me on this one, you've got to admit: the lord of the rings is really a legendary movie (series). it does help, that i've read the book a billion times, and i cannot begin to stress just how much it had impacted my life back in highschool, however, this is about the movie and not the book. so i'll try to be slightly less biased.

you've got your classic outline here: good versus evil. underdogs vs. omnipotent bit*h-ass overlords. hope triumphs against overwhelmingly suppressive odds. all that jazz. then you've got your flavour fantasy characters - elves, orcs, hobbits (or halflings for the more general), you name it. add in a splash of amazing cgi. a muse-worthy music score. competent dialogue. and good looks for safe measure. what part of this formula doesn't equate pure win?

now, there will always be the haters - a significant amount of people i know actually dislike the movie (series). most of them never read the book, and it begs the question - has the book biased my view that much? or is it that haters will be haters? i think it's the latter, to be honest. if you can find people in the world who hate tolkien (and his legacy, which is pretty much most of the mainstream fantasy you'll find around), then there's no reason to believe that this is anything more than that. the only reason i mention this, though is the following: if you're a fan, then more power to you. if you aren't, than that's your choice - don't go messing it for people who are (like myself, obviously!).

1. (more drumroll)... amagad, to be announced in the next post. who will be number one? which movie is better than all the awesome ones i've already listed? will it be something predictable? another dark horse, maybe? THE SUSPENSE. it's killing me. i hope it doesn't kill you before the relevant entry!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

et cinema

jack, the cake-baker, boromir and myself have a running 'list of best ... movies' which encompasses various categories. every day, 'studying' at the common room we'll have a time-out and re-visit the list, usually with a new category. actually, now that i think about it, the nearer we encroached upon the exams, the more it became like list-comparison in the common room with time-outs to study. but that's beside the point. what's important is, we had some pretty awesome discourse about movies, and it's always interesting to see what top 5 movies we each had for any given category. so far, we've only had one movie as a consensus in our top 5 movies (consensus here defined as a movie which all of us picked in the top 5), and that's lord of the rings: the two towers for the fantasy category.

anyhow, since the semester has come to an end, and jack is leaving (possibly cake-baker and boromir, too, pending their research placements), i thought this would be an apt time to list the top 10 movies of all time (time... time... time...) from my personal list. unlike the post on music i made some time ago, this list actually had some thought input and isn't spontaneous, spanning weeks of research (lies) and multiple re-modeling of the list (more lies). last night, at jack's farewell party, we sat down and compared our lists, and, sadly, i don't think there was any consensus :/

the rules are simple: you can only list a movie that you've personally watched (hence why some of you might go wtf, why isn't xyz movie in the list. full of fail) and the list is a personal one, so nobody can contend your list. you might want to give it some thought and list yours, just for comparison.

without further ado, the winners are (drumroll):

10. star wars: the empire strikes back
awesome movie, i remember being a kid and watching this on tape multiple times. just rewinding and watching the millennium falcon zipping through the asteroid field in what-was-then state-of-the-art technology. shit just blows your mind. and, btw, just like any true star wars fan, episodes IV, V and VI are the only real episodes. episodes I, II and III are so full of aids and fail, it makes me a sad panda. that and jar-jar binks. i want to rip my ears out every time i hear 'me-sa retarded toad with failed comic value'.

9. jurassic park
this is one of the many steven spielberg movies that defined my childhood. it made t-rex incredibly awesome and velociraptors cunningly scary. i used to pretend that i was a raptor, for months and it goes without saying, i watched, re-watched and re-re-watched the video, which i'm pretty sure is somewhere back home, waiting for me to go find again. that, and the books were good, too. michael crichton, you da man.

8. saving private ryan
steven spielberg + tom hanks = pure win. simple formula. you'll see it again and again. in and on their own, they're already respectively a great director and actor, but when they come together, there's just some magic in the air. and this wouldn't refer to harry potter magic, either. but, about the movie. it's compelling, it's dramatic, it's heartfelt. and shit gets blown up. awww yeah. watch it. it's long but it's totally worth it (that's what she said).

7. v for vendetta
v is one of the most interesting antithetical heroes i've ever seen on screen. a cultured man with appreciation for the arts, philosophy and politics; a kick-ass western-esque ninja (dude, he effin stabs people. in the face); the epitome of forsaken heroes; a selfless mask for the people's unheard voice. v is all of these, and more. but, the movie isn't just about v. natalie portman isn't stellar, but does a well enough job as the enlightened heroine, evey, and stephen rea fits the narrator-third person observer role very effectively, as inspector finch. but what really takes the cake with vendetta is the multitude of philosophical, real-life, arts and thought-provoking events throughout the film, intertwined into a superfluous, linear storyline. watch it for the second time with your thinking caps on and be amazed.

on a side note, hugo weaving plays the role of v (although you never see his face, his voice is a dead giveaway). think of it, agent smith is elrond is megatron is v. how bat-shit awesome is that?

6. donnie darko
literally the dark horse in my list, nobody really saw this coming. i don't think many people even watched the film, to be honest, but if you have, you may agree. if you haven't it's totally worth the watch - screwed with my head for quite some time. as much as i want to elaborate on the film, i think, i won't, so as not to spoil the movie for those who haven't watched and intend to. i highly recommend it (duh). just like how 'a beautiful mind' gives us some insight to autistic schizophrenia, donnie darko has a very interesting take on the darker side of paranoid schizophrenia. it's pretty much open to personal interpretation (as stated by the director), but one thing i found common to most understandings of the film, is the parallel universe / time travel skew on what appears to be a linear film. watch it. frank commands it so.

list will continue in another post, seeing as this is getting out of hand. yeah, still need practice with the 'being concise' thing.

Friday, 13 November 2009

you scream, i scream OMG ICE CREAM

before my nerd mood expires (summer holidays, aw yeah boi), here's the 2009 nobel prizes in a nutshell:

nothing particularly mind-blowing here. ever done cell biology 101? then you might remember ribosomes. basically every cell in your body makes rna, and ribosomes translate rna into proteins. it's not as interesting, exciting and shiny as jellyfish science, but it's probably one of the more applicable discoveries in recent decades.

got a sore throat? taking antibiotics for it? half the time those antibiotics are designed to attack bacterial ribosomes, but not yours. see. science works. like magic. in your face, harry potter.

physiology and medicine

now, this is interesting stuff. you never really think about it, but every time your cells divide, it loses a bit of its dna. just like how i lose a bit of my soul every time i watch a harry potter movie. really, sometimes the pain is physical. but then, emma watson appears and makes it all better. i digress.

so, without going into the intricacies of how cells divide, let's just take for granted that your chromosomes (the bits of dna in your cells) have to copy themselves each time your cells divide. if every time they divided, they lost a bit at their ends, that effectively gives a form of mortality to the dna, right? you could divide only so many times before you ran out of dna. well, it's kind of like that - at the ends of each chromosome, you have these dna fragments which don't really code for anything (remember that dna is a template for loads of things, from proteins to regulatory cues to trna... yeah let's not go there). but you can't really keep cutting off the ends and losing information...

so you have these telomeres, which are non-coding dna repeats, that your cell can afford to lose each time it divides. still, that just means you've got a head start for division, but these telomeres are gonna run out at some point, right? yes and no. most cells in your body do have this limitation, about 50 divisions and it's done. throw in the towel. long kiss goodnight. wipe yourself off, you dead.

but some special cells have the enzyme telomerase, which just makes new telomeres. pretty neat, huh. well, i hope i didn't bore anyone too much. here, have a picture of emma watson. or daniel radcliffe, if you prefer.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

to ease the pain

when people ask me questions after an exam, i'm a bit lost for feelings - on one hand i am adamant about sharing any scrap of knowledge one might have, even if it seemingly insignificant; on the other hand, the exam's done and over with so i don't really want to dwell on it, and would rather move forward to the upcoming one. and so, when my friend asked me a question today, and i can't even remember the question (which makes me think that i may have overlooked it, and not answered) i, with mixed feelings, had to discuss it.

be that as it may, misgivings and all, i have to say, the stress and jilting of exams is something i actually enjoy. now, before you yell 'freak!' and proceed to throw proverbial stones, hear me out.

i dislike these things just as much as the next person. having your future in the balance of (what sometimes is not even in) your control is not a pleasant feeling. and this is much accentuated when you're pitted against your peers - the same people whom you joke with, the same people whom you chill out with, the same people whom you bitch about with.

now put that sentiment aside, and think about what happens in the absence of these external stressors. for some, it's the bliss of ignorance, for others it's the numbness of the mundane, and for others still it's the excitement of freedom and adventure. whatever floats your boat. for me, it's the bipolar swings between euthymia and chronic depression. and i say this not because it's cool to be emo, and definitely not because sympathy feeds my ego, but because i know for a damn-well fact: a week from finishing that final paper, i'll be plunged into that corner of self-doubts and existential crises i reserve at the side of my mind, the uncertainty of future events having a heisenberg nature to it, speed and momentum being replaced by happiness and wealth (at least for the moment).

anyway, the point i was trying to make is that, sometimes i need the little things to preoccupy myself with, so that the bigger picture doesn't bog me down into a rut all the time. true in itself, mayhap this applies to you, too? if not, i envy your ability to either look past the bigger picture, or tunnel-vision on the smaller things in life. either way, whatever numbs the suffering - much like how emos /wrists i guess, except in a mentally masochistic way.

until i can attain such enlightenment, though, keep asking me those exam questions, such that i may forever be blissfully ignorant. if only.

p/s: i may joke about it, but /wrists is srs bznz. a moment's silence for those who actually physically hurt themselves:

because the pain is the only thing that makes me feel alive

Friday, 6 November 2009

salam pemergian, kepada saudara

i know i said i wouldn't blog 'til after exams, but a good friend of mine is finishing our course, and i would like to pay a small tribute of respect to him. as you might notice, the title of this entry is in malay, and writing in malay is something i haven't done in... ages. so, forgive the bad vocabulary, and worse grammar. i wasn't planning on posting this, but since jack was pretty appreciative of it, i guess it's a well setup as a tribute. and if you don't like it, then, tough - jack did.

in the common room where i recently frequent, in feeble attempts to 'study', we have a small ongoing competition to gain the temporary title of 'common room chess champion'. the rules are simple: if you can defeat the current champion twice in a row on the same day, you become the new champion. (i guess i'd rephrase to 'the rule is simple').

anyway, my friend, jack (sparrow) is an ardent player, and he and two others are the regular contenders for said title. recently he had been pushing to defeat the then-current champion, leng lui (which means pretty lady in mandarin, i think. the story behind this pseudonym becomes apparent, once you read to the end of this entry). the following tribute stems from jack's success in claiming the championship, just about a week before his departure back to malaysia. again, apologies for the lacklustre malay:

jejaka gasah melangkah samudera,
mencari dewasa, merentas marcapada;
sebelum pulangkan ke bumi pertiwi,
sempat sejenak tarungan dilewati.
si gadis ayu lagikan bertakhta,
sudah terkalahkan seribu binasa,
dengan menangnya, jejaka raungkan:
'sekali lagi, demi perjalanan!'

- for jack; one more for the road -

a few things to put the poem in context: jack's catchphrase is 'one for the road'. again, there's some non-sensical and slang words in the poem, so don't hate on that. here's a feeble attempt to transcribe the poem in english, if you prefer. crossing the language barrier while trying to preserve the rhyme scheme is really hard ><:

a rugged man travels an ocean, briny,
seeking adulthood, transversing the contemporary;
a moment's breath before the homecoming life
warrants opportune for a blitzkrieg strife.
resplendent, a beauty sits atop her throne,
defeat, a thousand destructions are driven home;
and come victory, the man explodes:
'one more for the road!'

- for jack -

may your return home be smooth, and may your future be bright.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

my eyes are screaming

i was going to make another 'omg my dreams are freaky' entry today. but for the life of me, i can't remember the dream, now that it's been a few hours since i've woken up. instead, you get to hear me comment on the poll i've had up for the past week or so.

i'm honestly surprised with the results - a lot of the girls i know complain about the same thing every so often: why are guys all about getting laid? what's happened to chivalry and romance? where have all the cowboys gone? why is the juice sweeter when the berry is darker?

let it be known, henceforth, that girls (at least the modern-age girl, as they so like to be called) are just as much about lust as the guys are. for the guys out there, be sure to bookmark this page and every time your wife / girlfriend / social partner / etc. asks 'what happened to romance?' you can direct them here (don't mention the small sample size).

as with most people nearing exams, i've decided to postpone blogging 'til i'm done with that. yes, i've said this a hundred times, so once more won't hurt. i'd like to discuss the poll further, because when put into context of what i've chatted with some voters, there's some pretty interesting opinions and preferences. but i think i'll settle with reiterating that lust has won by a fair distance, and for those who voted so, we have the corollary that you guys are perverts, and since everyone else is the same, it makes being a pervert less unethical.

for the record, i would go for greed. because money buys happiness. including lust. go greed!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

silly norwegians, your attacks do not harm me. i'm the president bi*ch

i find it ironic that this year's peace prize has caused so much... hate. i'll reiterate as many times as i can - i'm not someone with enough authority to speak on this matter, so i'll let you form your own opinion. it's hard to go out there with an unbiased vantage, and it's harder to find articles that are unbiased, themselves. i finally found a neutral opinion on this issue at the nobel prize home page (which, like all the other peace prizes, and some literature prizes, lists nothing).

in any case, love obama / hate obama. he's still a better laureate than nominating kanye, don't you agree?

it's a dangerous world out there. here, have some hopenhagen.

Friday, 23 October 2009

religiously devoted to you

my girl works with me. same company, same building, same department, same floor. we practically wake up together, go to work together, come back together; to which there's pros and cons, and which i emphasise the con of not having any 'personal time'.

actually, when i say 'my girl works with me', i mean i work for her. gives a new meaning to the phrase 'she's the boss'. sigh. again pros and cons. we wake up, and i make her coffee. we go to work, and i ... do the work. she just tells me what to do. we have lunch break, and she tells me my datelines are up. my performance is down. revenues are up/down but i still can't expect a pay-raise. or a promotion. we go home, and i take out the trash. it's a 'smack yo' bi*ch up' world, except she's doing the smacking. which would be pretty awesome if that carried itself into the bedroom, but... cold fish.

saturday, i'm at my cubicle.

spreadsheets. domestic pressure. pie charts. mortgage bills. client complaints. wrathful significant others. overdue deadlines. deranged parents. missed opportunities. dwindling finances. the list goes on, and so do the minutes. this is probably some kind of divine retribution for leaving everything 'til the last possible minute. one extension after another: the story of my life.

phone rings.

who could that be? office line, nonetheless, instead of my cellphone. clearly someone knows i'm working (in the loosest sense of the word) at this infernal hour.

it's the boss / woman / crusher of souls.

'hey, just wanted you to know, i have church tomorrow...'

yes, i know this.

'... so i'd like the wayne papers in by the end of the evening, please.'

but, it's not due 'til monday.

'and, oh, this isn't really a request'.

yes, i can practically taste the sarcasm in your tone. it's like cheese. the blue-vein variety.

'more of an order. love you, toodles. also, dinner with my parents on christmas eve.'

at which point, i snap.

i am calm. poised. slightly aloof. 'that's it, we're through,'

'pardon me?'

'this is why we can't be together. we're just too incompatible. you're a catholic, and i'm a devout procrastant.'

oh yeah, we're still on nobel-prize-themed week. as per the story, i have been blessed (simultaneously cursed) with an extension till wednesday. rejoice! so here's some half-assed nobel-prizey stuff: it's named after alfred nobel. click on the link to find out more. if you already knew this, click on it anyway, because i'm out. friday night. party on, rar!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

i feel, therefore i am; she percieves, therefore...

i see a cat, you see a cat, he sees a cat,
as i wait for a grandiose fly, on the underground.
she sees herself and all whom she has ever met,
when she looks into a mirror, and in herself existence is found.

to feel, and think; to chose, to live, to hold,
in depravity, northern and frigid cold,
if god does not feel, then how can he ever be alive?
she has a brother whose name i cannot think of.
is neither crime, nor itself a punishment thereof,
and maybe to barely survive, is criterion to philosophise?

she sits upon the suit that walks aright (yes, it stands).
although hollow, a man without a head or hands.
how can you learn the meaning of a word, without the employ of dictionary?
upon a world she lives, before she is death and tax,
while chipping away at the icy sea, with an axe.
maybe by being ambiguous, condescending, interpreting with little wary.

'what would be a better way, to rend upon the populace,'
she thinks, 'to be the self i truly am', with pace.
'and maybe while i am, born again' - atheistic, agnostic, whichever you prefer;
hurries down a path of stimuli,
who would follow? verily not i,
and so i lost all sight of her, to someone else i now defer.

to someone whom she followed, not just for a while,
a being of malice - sinister, vile,
ah, i see this has taken upon itself a life of its own!
that's good and well, in its own cacophony.
for guidance is only an evil necessity,
as i contemplate whether to walk or run, she had already sprout white wings and flown.

it is hard to claim that i have lived, but she showed me that you need only exclude bad faith. 'but what of the people and their persistent, accusing stare?'
(because unlike her, i was not condemned to be free) to which she smiled and replied 'one does not simply arrest voltaire'.

- jean-paul sartre was a champion of the existentialist, and it would be impudence for me to attempt to summarise his impact on the world in a sentence or two. he was awarded the nobel prize in literature in 1964, which he declined, making him the first person to voluntarily refuse the prestigious award.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

i am bender. please insert girder,

still keeping in theme with nobel prizes, but extending to what the future holds. i know. i'm not really doing this chronologically. but hey, like i said, after friday, you can expect better quality.

moving on. say 'hi' to craig venter. he's a pretty crazy guy. admittedly experimented with drugs during his youth. and went on to become famous for the human genome project. and yeap, nobel laureate.

here he is, talking about synthetic life, and what awaits us beyond the genetic frontier, which could, in one majestic swoop, solve many of the huge problems that plague modern humanity: carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. dwindling fossil fuel supplies. global hunger and famine. clean, renewable energy... as venter says,

we are limited only by our imagination

oh yeah, dienococcus radiodurans is mentioned in his lecture. told you it's awesome.

Monday, 19 October 2009

we'll be back after a word from our sponsors...

i apologise profusely, for, even though i had said in my previous post that i would 'summarise' this year's nobel-prize winning concepts, i am severely burdened with some work that i cannot procrastinate more than i already have. as such, i will continue with said entry (hopefully) after the submission date of my lab reports, this friday.

however, in keeping with the theme of the nobel prize, all throughout this week, here's something i came across while doing literature reviewing for my labwork, the nobel lecture by kary mullis. it's far more approachable than any of the journal articles one would normally find in this kind of line, but holds enough authority that if my friend quoted in a conversation, he'd be getting the chicks. but, seriously, it is a beautifully written speech, which combines the scientific aspects with his life story, and sharply delineates between the two, should you prefer one over the other. do have a read, if you can spare 15mins, while logging on facebook during lunch break, or on your blackberry while waiting for the bus.

i know it's not really something people will follow through with, but in keeping up with my personal goal of posting once a day, as well as the idea that if i can entice at least one person to read the first couple of paragraphs, i have done more than i set out to do, i post this; with hopes that some of us (including myself) appreciate just how far science and technology has come in so many years, and more of us take nothing for granted -etc.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

a nobel dream

i had promised to write on this year's nobel prizes, and i am very enthusiastic on doing so, as it's a subject of personal interest (as are most of my posts, but this one has an exceptionally high ranking amongst them). however, in a discussion with some peers, i was to find that this is not a sentiment shared by the general populace :( and so i have refrained myself from doing an in-depth review of this year's prize in medicine & physiology. but, how could i! it's about telomerases! telo-wait-for-it-mer-fricken-aces (yeah, i made that harder to understand than i probably should, but humor me nps.)

anyway, in the same conversation(s) i find that people are more inclined and interested to hear a brief explanation about the subjects. as my friend appropriately said:
'well, i'm not into this research stuff and all, so i don't really think talking about this would grasp my attention for more than 2 minutes. if you were to tell me a summary, that's relevant...'

really, how?
'... because i would be able to impress chicks in a conversation. chicks dig smart guys.'

so yeah, this stems to the following, a summary of last year's (since i didn't have the opportunity to blog about it last year) and this year's nobel prizes in physiology & medicine, and chemistry (i would like to include physics, as well, but really, i don't know much about the subjects, myself).

physiology & medicine
the winners are harald zur hausen, françoise barré-sinoussi and luc montagnier, for their discoveries of 'the correlation between cervical cancer and human papilloma virus (hpv)' and 'human immunodeficiency virus (hiv)'. ok, so this is actually a pretty cool subject, because you guys probably know about hiv. check. and for the girls, you probably know about cervical cancer and hpv and pap smears and all that jazz. check. if you guys don't know, go ask your girlfriends. wow, this brief explanation thing is pretty easy!

note: the article on AIDS is (in my opinion) slightly outdated and controversial. it is wikipedia, after all. but the other articles seem legit.

to the laureates, osamu shimomura, martin chalfie and roger tsien for their discovery and further application of the green fluorescent protein, gfp. okay, so this discovery is freaking cool. it all starts when shimomura was studying jellyfish and their ability to go all shiny in the depths of the sea. what's odd was, the protein he isolated gave off a blue shinies, whereas the jellyfish gave off green shinies. kinda like going into a club with the wrong glowsticks.

so he does a bit more research and ends up with two different proteins, one being the blue flavour and another being the green flavour (hence, gfp). gfp would come to be so awesome because, integral to its own structure, it could absorb the blue light, and emit green light. for those familiar with fluorescence, the reason it doesn't emit the colour it absorbs, is because it loses some energy in the process, so the emitted wavelength is always larger than the absorbed (stokes shift). but, enough about that scientific jibber-jabber, i want to see shinies!

so anyway, chalfie hears about this, and goes 'wow, that's dope. this molecule be fluorescent on his own. don't need no brahs to hold him up, just keepin' it real. i'll go ahead and put this shizzle into some other creature and see if this nigz be fo' real.' and so he did.

introducing gfp into the translucent worm (nematode, actually, but roll with it. i've been simplifying stuff so far, anyway), c. elegans, he created a recombinant organism that expressed only gfp as an extra gene. the results were astounding.

people then went on to put gfp in other organisms, like this fruitfly. they even used other fluorophores (more shiny molecules) to emit photons of different wavelengths (different colours). this is where tsien comes in: by tweaking the chemical structure of gfp, he was able to make the different variants of gpf which are so commonly used today. in the c. elegans image below, three different types of neurones are coloured green, red and yellow.

so, what's so great about gfp? i have a dinosaur skeleton model at home that glows in the dark. where's my nobel prize? well, for one thing, gfp is a single, independent, small molecule. and you can 'tag' it on to many other molecules without interfering with most of their functions (refer back to the 'small' part, and how biological chemistry relies on a lot of steric interactions). for those interested in biochemistry, the possibilities were limitless. one super-awesome example would be the fluorescent labeling of dideoxyribonucleotide triphosphates (ddNTP) which can be used in automated sanger-sequencing. but that's a whole new area in itself. what's important is, gfp found its place in biological chemistry and hasn't looked back since. clearly fulfilling the criteria of a nobel prize in that it 'benefits humankind' and is 'widely applicable'.

huh. i ended up writing a pretty hardcore textwall. i guess i'll reserve the 2009 'summaries' for another post.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

physical trainwreck

as much of a nerd as i am, i advocate exercise. maybe not the hardcore stuff people use to try to get rock hard abs or tree-trunk biceps etc. (which, incidentally, is pretty common amongst my friends who attempt to get girls' / guys' attention by looking fit. come on guys, we don't live in the 7th century anymore). but having a baseline level of fitness is always good. obesity being one of the leading causes of morbidity in the world, leading to (or at least having a high concordance / correlation with) other diseases such as coronary heart disease, respiratory diseases, degenerative diseases etc etc. everything in moderation i guess.

but anyway, to say this, i must obviously practice what i preach. to an extent, i do exercise a bit. jogging once a week counts for something, eh. but that's nowhere near the suggested amount. so when some friends asked me to join them for a round of 'touch rugby' i was mildly enthusiastic about the idea. after some persuasion (there won't be much contact, it's just touch [rugby]. nobody's going to tackle you etc.) and attempted bribery (more on this another time), we set off. it was pretty comforting that in the car i went in, there were two other guys who were just about as skinny as i was, and probably slightly shorter. in retrospect, though, my kind of skinny is 'all skin and bones, skeleton' whereas their skinny would mean 'lean, mean, fighting machines. no fat, all muscle, baby'.

anyway, imagine my horror when we turned up to the field and everyone else looked like the picture below. that's right, cuh. you just can't imagine this sh*t up.

everything started fine, though. they did a bit of touch rugby, where, when you tap someone running the ball, they'd be considered out and would have to start a new run. that was cool. i even got the ball a few times and ran around a bit. god knows i had the motivation to run pretty fast seeing as i had a couple of buff-ass guys coming at me at about 67.39 kmh. i was having fun at this point. it wasn't that much ice-cream and candy when people started slapping me on the ass, but i'd place the 'fun' factor higher than jogging alone. and incidentally, probably lower than the fun one of these guys was having, tapping people's asses even when they didn't have the ball. i mean, i'm not homophobic or anything. but, really. someone has to draw a line somewhere. here, have a picture so that your life will be forever scarred. what has been seen cannot be unseen. although, i imagine the girls might be slightly turned on.

anyway. there's gayer things that could have happened. like someone dick-grabbing during the heat of things. or lesbo-chicks making out in the background. or someone pulling down another persons pants to reveal what would later come to be known as 'his cleavage'. not that i'm saying any of this happened in actuality, but you know. just saying. *shudder*

but yeah, then they said 'okay guys, warm-up's over. time to get down to business'. i was like, 'okay, cool, so now i have to run faster or dodge stuff. maybe slap someone's ass a bit harder' (giggity. get your mind out of the gutter, you dirty, dirty boy). but, you guessed it, that's not what they meant. what happened next, i can only describe with an analogy:

on a dark, but starry night, an elk is prancing through a forest. elegant, poised, venerable; the beast is majestic in every sense of the word. as our elk is rushing against the wind, steeplechasing logs and avoiding low-hanging branches of ash and beech, a small, slightly rotund object crosses his path. what is this? a rabbit, mayhap? or a cone of pine, whose dropping now marks the end of a winter? and our protagonist now, picking up this object unknown, sees in his peripheral vise, a glimmer of light. a will o' the wisp to which he cannot attribute a colour as yet (for elks have no colour vision. certainly not at this time of night, in a din darkened as soot would unto velvet). but rapidly, the light comes forward. momentum behind it, an approaching curve, relative to our unmoving elk. the seconds seem unerringly infinite, and our elk stares into the headlights of this being, fixated, unwary. BAM. MOTHAFU*KA GOT ROLLED BY A TRUCK, YO.