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Sunday, February 16, 2003

Time to hit the books

The exams are due in two weeks. I haven't been revising my studies for the past several. I've been wanting to. I fugging made a schedule for it. But I couldn't seem to get started on anything at all!

I was close to beating my head with a wall trying to summon the willpower to study.


Fortunately, very fortunately, I recently took the initiative to take my books and study in the hostel's multi-purpose hall at night, where other students regularly burn the midnight oil in this dark advent of the exams, and where there are gladly so fewer distractions than in my room (the games on my computer, and the damned bed). My comrades — regardless of faculty or course — gather there too, and they are my group support. A conducive environment. 11 to 3 nightly. It's a start. I'm gonna ace this, no matter what the fuck.

I declare hiatus! I'll be back blogging in early March.

On winamp: Some Vivaldi, Beethoven stuff. Whatever it takes to increase brainpower.

| 2/16/2003 09:42:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Friday, February 14, 2003

Baby lay down your arms

Song I can't get outta my head: Hogging my mental airwaves over even the songs off Pearl Jam's latest album, Riot Act, is an old ditty I have on MP3 — Soldier Of Love, the lesser-known of the two infamous Pearl Jam cover ballads (the other one is the ubiquitous Last Kiss). I've been humming and strumming it for weeks; it's almost sickening. Hope I don't go overboard, because I do like this song.

The first time I heard the single I Am Mine was in the music video on MTV (or was it Channel [V]?) I have to admit I didn't like it then. Must've been the video. It was boring, especially when you're used to seeing Britney skin, Britney cleavage and fast, flashy images good enough to keep hyperactive kids still for a while as music video material. Short hair on Eddie Vedder was something new though. Hell, Pearl Jam in a video is news by itself.

Of course, I liked I Am Mine only when I actually listened to the CD. This testifies that music videos are a bane to music. Bad videos can make great music look bad, and nice videos can make turds look like chart-toppers. I think I've wasted enough lifeforce watching the garbage that is MTV (and Channel [V]).

And something else:

For a loooong time I've had an unexplainable dislike for bands like Creed, Lifehouse and The Calling. They drive me nuts. It must be the voice. That deep, gurgling basso voice. It intensely bugs me. At its worst, it sounds fake, dishonest and extremely irritating. And that was as far as the rationalisation could go...

...until recently. I've been reading a lot about Pearl Jam lately since they decided to come back from the dead last year (stepping out of the shadows and getting comfortable with publicity), and some of it put forward the observation of "the Vedder voice" being ripped off by many of today's post-grunge bands. Suddenly I had my finger on the base of my prejudices against the Creeds and Lifehouses everywhere: they sound, if not vaguely, like someone else. No wonder I squirm.

But strangely, I don't quease at the voice of Eddie Vedder himself. His sounds so much more real and earnest, not even for the obvious reason that he is the original "Vedder voice." No one can sound or sing exactly like him, or copy his charismatic moaning, mumbling and accentuation. Nuh-uh!

Stranger still, I'm not the long-time die-hard Pearl Jam fan that I'm probably sounding like right now. No, I knew zero about Pearl Jam back in my school days except only for that cute song Last Kiss, when Nirvana was the grunge band for kids to worship at the time when the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys were at large. So it's quite a mystery how I could detect an imitation without really knowing what was being imitated...

At this point I seem rather unfair to the frontmen of Creed et cetera, because maybe that's how the fuckers really sing, and who knows. But too bad if they've sounded suspiciously annoying to me all this time.

Yet even stranger, I don't hate it so much in the local urban/underground scene. Not so much anymore now, come to think of it. (I didn't realize this until Donny pointed out the culprit-bands to me.) The frontman of Disagree, for instance, is a noted Vedder-soundalike, and a pretty good one too. The guy on the Edge of WOW radio show jingles is blatantly one as well. Same reportedly with one of those guys who sing and play guitar for cents just outside Central Market, KL. Once, we sat through the street performers' renditions of rock favorites all afternoon, waiting for "the Malay Vedder's" (that's what I call him) turn to front the pack just so we could hear him sing.

Donny himself wishes he had the elusive Vedder voice, which he could put to use when he starts another band some time. I'd love to have it, too, actually. How did this voice become so... esteemed? I've read somewhere that Vedder makes the difference between a good album and a classic. What does this say? That if you have that deep, signature voice your band would get instant status? I don't doubt that Vedder's is probably the most coveted frontman voice of all time.

(in sexiest Eddie Vedder voice imaginable)
Oh-lay down your a-a-arrm-ms... and love me peacefullyy-mmh... ehh...
Use your arms for sque-eezin 'n ple-eazin the one who loves you so-ouu...

Doesn't that sound good even in text?

| 2/14/2003 10:42:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Aliens vs Predator 2

This game, AvP2, is outright cool. Play, kill and die as a Marine, a Predator or an Alien. You gotta love the visual effects. And the background music (music effects, as I see it) adapts to what you do and what happens to you as you play... it's like playing inside a scary sci-fi movie, a la the Alien and Predator flick franchises. Oh, people say it's one of the scariest games around, but I say you soon toughen up as you progress.

I've been rushing through the game with the intent of not taking up too much of my time on nonproductive entertainment. My focus urgently belongs elsewhere. Hope this will be the last game I'll ever buy.

Oh wait, I hear there's a StarCraft spin-off called Ghost coming out this year...

| 2/09/2003 07:36:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Friday, February 07, 2003

I wanna get free

I'm trying to keep afloat in my studies, work on due assignments, get enough sleep, keep updated on the final exams scheduling, quit daydreaming, watch my expenditures, put my notes together, eat right, make time to cover twenty chapters, think, plan for the trip home in March, complete yesterday's lab report, shower daily, wake up early for breakfast, be there for separate social circles, keep promises, stay focused, rip my shirt off because it's getting hot in here, cut down on leisure, concentrate during class, go to church, keep my blog updated, regularly visit other blogs, stay abreast with the news, always look out for interesting stuff on the Web, finish off this Snickers bar, do the best I can.

But the site revamp must wait.

And I need to stop thinking about it so.

On the winamp for weeks: The Vines' Highly Evolved.

| 2/07/2003 01:03:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The Two Towers

A Two Towers pirated VCD did come my way. I knew it; I knew if I waited long enough, someone was bound to have the VCD, and then it's only a matter of borrowing it and spinning each of three discs successively in my H: drive while sitting back and eating crackers in the comfort of my tiny room. Without so much as a pang of guilt or dissatisfaction, at that.

Unfortunately, in appoximately the second hour, a good chunk of the film was missing. It looked as if our trusty pirate suddenly had to hide away his camcorder for ten whole minutes.

No matter. A fortnight ago I was out to meet up with a friend. On my suggestion that we go see a movie, he insisted The Two Towers while brushing off my proposal to see Hero. Oh well. It's a chance to catch whatever it was that I missed.

And so I saw it, in the cinema. Turned out they were very important scenes: Gollum innocently fishing from a pool that Faramir called off-limits, and then later Faramir totally spooking Frodo with his self-engrossed hypnotic yakety about the Ring (think Galadriel). And then it all came together; I at last understood why Gollum was an angry, smouldering little schizo at the end of the movie. That cost me ten ringgit, by the way.

The three other hobbits were scene-stealers in this episode. Samwise being the constantly protective companion of the Ringbearer Frodo, and launching into a "There's still good in this world" monologue near the end of the film. Merry going activist trying authoritatively to convince the Ents to help. And Pippin having the brave idea of going towards Isengard, which was something no one would've expected from anyone, much less this hobbit.

The most memorable part of the film would be the climatic attack of the Ents upon Isengard, wielding boulders, a furious river, and their heavy-duty wooden limbs. Being myself a nature lover and quite the environmentalist, I couldn't help but feel a great triumph for nature as the constructions and machinery of big bad wiz Saruman and his orcish army yielded helplessly to the might of the marauding Tree Herders. Yay! Obviously Tolkien was quite one himself.

All that made me want to play up WarCraft III again. I mean really. The obsession is back, I'm afraid. I found it exciting to relive those epic human-elven-orc battles, mix 'n match. And if you think Ents are cool, check out the similar walking, boulder-throwing, humanoid "trees" that make up the buildings of a night elf base. I have to get over this all over again.

Meanwhile have a look at these very revealing diaries of the LOTR characters. Who would've thunk that nearly everyone is gay? All guys rejoice, for now you have something to show your girlfriends so they may learn the truth about Legolas.

| 2/04/2003 07:47:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

More church news...

Incredible! At church last Saturday, I met Albert, who has been an online familiarity for like, three years? I thought I recognised him the second before he came up to me and introduced himself, quite simply, by first name alone. (His mugshots are everywhere: on his website, on XFresh, even on Rice Bowl Journals.) How did he know it was me? Apparently he had asked Bro Adrian to point me out, who is in fact (gasp!) his first cousin. Can you believe it? Two different persons I've been independently well acquainted with, and they're first cousins? What are the odds of that?! It's a damn small world I tell you! Or I'm in a frickin soap opera.

Well, he's better looking in person. I imagined him to be a little taller though. From my initial chance glimpse of him (while he was talking to cousin), he looked like somebody I should be taking interest in. I was thinking: have I seen that face before? Yet another local celebrity perhaps? Nah. (KL's a nest full of 'em.) I snapped out of my millisecond wandering and pulled back to the chat with some girls who were, for the record, Sarawakian acquaintances I haven't seen since matrics college. I was finishing off when Albert came up and... quite a handshake it was. I must've been starstruck or something.

He hit me as a Rangga of sorts, oddly calm and collected compared to me, and perhaps a bit stiff... well, it was a little awkward especially since I totally didn't expect him there ("Of course you didn't," he might say to that). But you have to like his frankness; "Gotta go pee" was what he quipped to necessarily cut our serendipitous meet short. I really wish we had time to sit and pick up from there and, in a sense, test our knowledge of each other from years of blogging and e-correspondence. With geek talk and all. But it was getting late; he had to go home with his family, and I had to be dragged off to some Christian group meeting...

Later I learned that Albert had the impression that I'm an amazing socializer with the elusive ablity to make girls congregate around. Well (grin), what can I say. That's flattering. While it's a pretty cool light to be seen in, explained simply, we're just Sabahan and Sarawakian university/college students — the majority being female — habitually lingering after Mass at the church entrance. Being a full-on chick magnet will remain as something I can only aspire. But of course, if you want to get in on the action — with females from any state in the country, or better yet, foreigners — you'll just have to (here's a tip) be around for the church's youth stuff, Al...

Then again, I must've been unusually extra charming that night. (Wonder why. Was it the checkered shirt I was wearing? What, that old thing?) Although it was my first time attending a Sabah Catholic Youth Group meeting, I was totally comfortable since I already know most of the seniors intimately, who were incidentally part of the group's committee last year. And as it turned out, we were to elect a new committee that night, and to my horror I was nominated for president. Leading a frickin prayer group is so not me (or is it not apparent enough). I voiced out my turndown, articulating some fabulous excuses of inexperience and noobiness. It worked. What a relief. If they ever try that on me again, I'm gonna make a run for it.

Oh, but they weren't finished with me. Afterwards, I was informally, personally asked to be the new treasurer. They can't seem to keep their hands off me! Since I didn't know how to politely reject another one, well, there I was. Being treasurer can't be that tough, right? Let this be a small victory for the silent community of the least-pious-members-of-any-spiritual-youth-group everywhere.

Song in head: Times Like These, Foo Fighters.

| 2/04/2003 04:00:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Chinese New Year in... lemme guess: KL.

I'm not back in KK for the holidays. Nope, not this time. Why? Because.

Anyway the college has been quiet these past few days. What do you expect; most of the residents, most importantly the Chinese, have gone away for the break. I could just nearly be the only one left here. I began to feel guilty, regretful, even superstitious about it. What happens when a person of Chinese blood does not join in celebrating CNY? Will he miss out on an all-essential "luck reload" of sorts for the year?

I keep thinking about what I'm missing. Annual five-hour road trip to small town Tenom, where the extended family on Dad's side come to reunite. Bathing with tangy hot water boiled (over good ol' firewood) with lime leaves for good luck. Me and my brothers strolling round town to look out for lion dances touring homes and shophouses on New Year morning. Reunion dinner. Pork. Mushroom-cupped beefballs. Chicken cooked in wine. I'm clueless when it comes to the names of the many motley dishes, but never the fragrant, mouthwatering (non-halal) aromas. Mmm-mm. Am I mad? Have I gone completely mad, having turned down all these?

I think I've taken Chinese New Year for granted. All holidays perhaps. Twice already I thought I could take a holiday away from home for the first time with absolute nonchalance, and then finding myself indiscriminately noticing things that are absent this time around: like Christmas presents, CNY angpows, and an uncle in a Santa suit scaring the hell out of the toddlers, to name but a few.

Consolation from friends came in this form:

"You celebrate Harvest Festival, Hari Raya, Christmas, and now Chinese New Year? That's not fair! You've had enough!"

| 2/04/2003 03:51:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!