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Monday, September 22, 2003

The big two-oh

Nothing happened yesterday. No frills, no fanfare — no cake or presents, if you still had to inquire — and not really bothered, typical when you're a university student like myself and surrounded by the like-fated: homeaway and wallet-watching, getting by on modest luxuries. I know, at least cake is possible by sheer goodwill of close-knit friends, as I've witnessed before, but perhaps only under slightly more approving circumstances.

Besides, there are always those strange dorm-dwellers' birthday customs that make you think twice about letting people know it's your "special day." Like getting doused with buckets of water at midnight (I've seen this inanely going around during my matrics year). And having to treat all of your friends to drinks — a curious role-reversal if you ask me.

At least I'm quite happy with birthday wishes by SMS. My parents scored points for that. Close-but-faraway friends back home however were guilty of needing prodding; I had to drop a hint to one before a domino effect caused a gratifying wave of well-wishes from the rest. Swift, sympathetic relaying of reminder appreciated.

Celebrated today — I have simple wants for occasions such as these — with good company. Hung out with S at Mid Valley; caught Pirates of the Caribbean: Something Something Whatever. A remarkable movie, if you wanted to hear it from me, and a superb performance by Johnny Depp.

I've always felt like I was 20 or 21 for a long time. Don't know why, but anyway it's now technically official.

Turning twenty is a big thing. You've stepped into a completely different realm. Things are expected of you. You've begun to solidify as a person. Your third decade is going to be, you hope, something wonderful; the peak of your lifetime — especially if you think your teenage years weren't (which is the preferred mentality though, unlike in some sad nostalgists like John Mayer).

Still, you can't help but look back on those years when you were younger, more reckless and thinking you're gonna live forever; there were those things that you did, and worse yet, the things you didn't. (Funny thing is, what's recently bothering me in fleeting preoccupation is that I haven't tried to overclock a PC before my 20th birthday.)

But it'll be nothing quite like your twenties, when you're going to be your own man, have a career, get rich, surround myself with gadgetry I've never been able to accumulate enough pocket money to purchase, travel, and just fuck around do stuff.

Meanwhile I will take delight in my very own quarter-life crisis.

Song in head: Radiohead - We Suck Young Blood.

| 9/22/2003 05:33:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Pearl Islands, ahoy!

I've been neglecting so much TV, living in the top floor of my block while the TV lounge is at the bottom. (Note to self: buy a TV card for the PC, negating the need to get down every Saturday morning to catch Dragonball-Z. Which I hardly bother anyway.) I particularly missed the entirety of Akademi Fantasia, the local version of the reality show Fame Academy I presume. Why do I complain? Because (1) it's Reality TV + Malaysians, which, like a damn car accident at rush hour, is gawkfest inviting. (2) people are talking about it. (3) nitpicking on other people's singing is something I'm quite fond of.

Friends suggested Smallville as great primetime. Nah. Well maybe, if only I had started from the pilot episode, which is an almost surefire way to hook me to a series. Alias totally grabbed me with a pilot that set the stage for a riveting character-driven spy drama. But not Charmed though; its pilot turned me off right there with the cheap special effects and an uninspiring story concept. A trio of sassy witches routinely banishing some weekly demon by means of a chorused incantation? We already have something like that in the Power Rangers.

But now I am committing an hour per week of TV, for — my only reason to drop whatever I'm doing and sprint downstairs on Friday nights — Survivor 7: Pearl Islands. Now this is great primetime. Personally, after S6: Amazon, I wondered how they were ever going to top that so great a season (aside from the horrifying, idiotic finale). From the looks of things, I think it's going to be another awesome one and far from a slump ala circa S4-5.

A pirate-themed Survivor following a hit pirate movie (Pirates of The Caribbean) can't be coincidence. After all, Pearl Islands — Panama, which had a history of high sea piracy — was already announced way back at the end of S6, long before anyone had a clue about such a movie coming to woo us and subsequently spark Talk Like A Pirate Day. (Sept 19. Arrr.) Evidently Mark Burnett has been keeping his eye on Hollywood, and pop culture by extension. He's way ahead of us.

And what a way to start the season! The castaways were immediately made to abandon ship taking absolutely nothing along (all that bag-packing: useless) but the Armani, scoutmaster and hippie-tie-dye clothes on their backs, which they were tricked into showing up with, ab initio. Jeff said, in effect: "The game actually starts now!" and Sandra appropriately said: "Oh shit." Great prank, producers! They were divided into tribes (or should it be "crew?"): Drake and Morgan, named after famous pirates. Yep, not Gobbledygook or Namapuakkami as tribe names this time; just prim and proper English ones. And so the 16 were befittingly shipwrecked — to keep with the theme of course.

Then they were sent off to a local village market with some money to buy — or just get, by any means — stuff they thought they would need to survive on a tiny tropical island. Decisions. Judgement calls. Impromptu. Haste. Purchase, barter, haggle. Locals speak no English. Figure it out! What an awesome idea: a special open-ended "challenge" to start off, and without annoying Probst probing to boot! And the other cool thing about this stop-at-market-to-equip-party-for-quest stint: it's like an RPG!

The "quest" that followed was to hire a boat with any money left to get to their respective islands. That's right, an island per tribe. And so they settled themselves into their new 39-day-or-less home, and thus we have ourselves another new documentary about the survival of the fittest in social competence and horse sense.

Here be commentary regarding the tribes and some of their notable members:

Drake tribe — A superb team (minus Jon, the infinitely irritating little Smee). Of note is Spanish-speaking Sandra who made the shopping sweep so fruitful. Here are three more:

Rupert a.k.a. Hagrid The Pirate — He looks and behaves the part of a pirate well, even as he simultaneously does as a Harry Potter character. Intimidating on the outside, amicable in soul, and a smart player too, which is above all what makes the game interesting. Tell-tale indication of genius: stealing the other tribes' shoes when the opportunity presented itself. I like the big guy already.

Jon a.k.a. Rob Cesternino Wannabe — "I go by the moniker of Jonny Fairplay. I don't play fair." No one I know likes this twerp starting from the second he said that. So he thinks he's a funny guy, eh? Breezing his way through a season as the lovable goofball? He's not even useful; at the immunity challenge that required them to heave a cannon though an obstacle course, all he did was carry the torch and yell back, "Hurry up!" Forget lovable; this bitch is obnoxious.

Skull On Axe a.k.a. The S7 Immunity Idol — Figured since Drake won immunity, this guy belongs in this tribe for the time being. Perhaps he'll even stay. Coolest idol ever so far, isn't he? I applauded during the unveiling, I really did. How'd ya like this one now, JoAnna S6?

Morgan tribe — They have all the wrong members. Including one girl who you can't understand a single word she says. Darrah, I think. Is this casting intentional? Cruel, isn't it? This is such an interesting loser tribe; I have four members to remark on:

Andrew a.k.a. Crappy Leader — Qualitites of a tribe leader: Supporting a fellow tribe member whose pants are dropping in the middle of a challenge by taking his own pants off, having Ryan O. show his loyalty by doing the same, and improving tribe morale after defeat by speechifying. Grand words, Andrew! I'm so gungho and inspired and I actually look up to you! Perks of a tribe leader: Feeling powerful and secure enough to dare name names in a game of tact. "Skinny Ryan is totally fricking useless," he practically declared matter-of-factly at tribal council.

Osten a.k.a. Really Huge Wimp — He's so pumped! He's so big! He's so inanely superfluous in girth, the protein supplements could feed a small African country! He also squeals in fright at a crab's tickle and the sight of a palm frond (which he calls a snake). Can't swim either. Furthermore, that girth unimpressively did nothing for his pants. Of course, Andrew's "strategy" was responsible for turning Osten's problem into a bigger one for the censors. Just imagine, getting stark naked on television — in a race — for no fucking reason at all. Warrants shrivelling up in humiliation once he gets to watch the show himself.

Ryan S. a.k.a. The S7 Immunity Idol's Twin Brother — Uh oh. Scrawny, geeky kid with poor social skills. How the hell did he ever get cast in this show? Sure he sounds like the brainiest of them in gameplay, but it isn't really making up for his flaws, is it? Isolating himself (and not to mention pairing oddly with Scout Mama Lill) isn't helping when he's already being isolated by the other men: the very fit 40-year-old, the brawny namesake, and the unfathomable (he probably thinks so) muscleman. Doesn't look like he'll last long.

Nicole a.k.a. Yet Another Dumb Blonde — You wanna kick out someone you personally don't like? Not this early. Tsk, tsk. At least she was very much aware of her mistake and accepted the consequence, I'll give her credit for that. In her last words, she said she knew that her biggest weakness would be not keeping her mouth shut, and that she'd either be the first out or the winner. (See how she guaranteed her own demise?) She couldn't zip it even for a million bucks. Can't help but *slap forehead*.

Unless you already make the most of your Survivor nights with drinking-game parties ("One each time someone says the word 'Armani'..." or "One for every censors' blur-out..." etc.), you can't just watch it on its own, lest you miss so much depth to the game. This is where the Web comes in. My choices of the unofficial companions to S7: Pearl Islands:
Reality News Online
Survivor Fire
Survivor Fever: Pearl Islands
True Dork Times

| 9/20/2003 05:20:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!