Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscars 2007

I used to watch the Oscars religiously when I was a Film Studies student. I say I used too because I haven't been following the Oscars in the past few years. Now I just read about it in the papers.

This year's Oscars, I didn't even knew who were the nominees until I started watching the repeat. I watched the ending of the live telecast this morning. I didn't think Martin Scorsese should have won for Best Director (for The Departed) and The Departed shouldn't have won for Best Film.

Don't get me wrong, I like Martin for a long time. He makes great mobster movies. However, for all the movies that he has made, this is one he shouldn't have won for. I feel a little outraged that the Academy did not give recognition to the Hong Kong movie it was adapted from, Infernal Affairs. Even the announcer at the Oscars got it wrong and said it was based on a Japanese movie. Tsk tsk.

If you've watched Infernal Affairs 1 and The Departed, you would haven noticed many similarities. Not just in term of story arch, but even in cinematography and dialog. Some scenes had the same camera angles. Ridiculous!

Come on Martin, you’re the uber director. Everyone looks up to you and hold you in such high recognition. Why make a remake? You had such originality in movies like Raging Bull. That is one hell of a boxing movie. Its got great cinematography and dialog.

Hrm, I can only theorize that Martin being the most widely known mob movie director, was copied by the directors of Infernal Affairs and the whole thing came full circle when Martin copies those copying him.

This year was the weird Oscar year. I was surprised even a former Vice-President can win an Oscar. Now we all heard of Hollywood actors moving into politics. We had Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even that former wrestler who turned governor of Minnesota who I shouldn’t name. Anyway, congrats Al Gore. You didn’t win the presidency to change the election but winner an Oscars is something. I think the American public preferred an ‘oil’ man instead of a ‘green’ man. If Al Gore hadn’t made that shitty speech in Malaysia about Reformasi a long time ago, I would have supported him.

I feel sad every time I see the tribute they pay to those that past away. Its always a passing of a previous generations that makes way for a new generation. Goodbye Scotty!

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I must say I have been procrastinating a lot on my university application. The last time I did any application to a university was in 1996. I only applied to one university when I was looking for a university in the US.

Back then when I was studying in KDU doing the American University Transfer Program (AUTP), I didn't know which university to apply too. Two of my friends were also doing the same major as me, Siva and Kay. Kay said she was applying to St. Cloud State University as one of our senior Fiona was also studying there doing what we wanted to do. So I said, "okay, that'll do, I'll go there".

I couldn't afford all the dream universities I really wanted to go too like NYU or UCLA. Back then, I frankly didn't even know where St. Cloud was. I when to the resource centre in KDU and looked up the map for Minnesota. All I saw was that it was near the great lakes. I thought, "Cool, it's got water nearby".

My parents didn't agree with my choice at first, telling me it was going to be really cold. I thought to myself, "Ah, cold ain't so bad... after all, I've been to Genting, sounds like fun!" Man, sometimes I wish I would have listened to my parents back then. They even got my aunt to come over to explain to me about winter. My aunt said, "winter is so cold, even your jeans wouldn't be enough, you would have to wear something under it." I thought it sounded silly... wear something under your jeans? What? So hot already some more want to wear stuff under it ah? Where can?

Anyway, I send of the university application and crossed my fingers and waited for a reply. I didn't tell my parents it was the only university I applied too. Hey, it was St Cloud State University. No one had even heard of it, they wouldn't reject me right? If I was applying to NYU then maybe I'll start putting out applications to other universities. So foolhardy of me.

After a long wait, I got my acceptance letter... woohoo! I took the I-20 letter and when to the embassy to get my visa. Back then security wasn't as tight as it was now. So there were the 3 of us... me, Siva and Kay that got accepted to the same university. Of all the dumb thing, we all applied to go in the winter quarter. While most university had the semester system, SCSU was still using the quarter system (quarter system divided one academic year into 4, while a semester system divided one academic year into 3).

So I when shopping for winter clothes. I found the cheapest red fluffy jacket I could find. I think I bought it at Isetan. I found a nice pair of gloves to go with it. I tried on the jacket and thought, "damn, so hot wearing this... I think this is over kill".

Soon, the time came to leave. Back then, we still used to old Subang airport. Wasn't too far a drive from my house. Only a handful of my friends came to see me of. Back then it was a tradition to send of all those from AUTP who were leaving for the US. However, I was in KDU for almost 2 years so almost all my friends had already left by then. Me and Siva got on the plane and flew to Changi airport in Singapore to meet up with Kay.

It was quite a long flight and I don't remember much. We transit in Narita in Japan and then in LA then to Minneapolis, the capital of Minnesota. When we touched down at Minneapolis. I walked out of the plane and into the tunnel connecting the plane to the terminal. I saw a crack in the joint and it was full of ice. I looked out the winter and it was snowing heavily. I thought to myself, "hrmm, a bit chilly here... just like Genting at night!".

So we all walked of to wait for the connecting flight to take us to St. Cloud (it was actually only 1.5 hours drive away). Like flying from KL to Melaka! It was a small plane, kind of like what Air Asia uses so we had to walk out to the tarmac. We were all excited as we were finally going out into the snow. We put on our jacket, gloves and head gear. I was thinking, "cool! finally get to experience winter!". There weren't many people waiting for the plane. Was only a handful of people. When they opened the door and we walked out, this extremely cold blast of air hit me in the face. I could instantly feel the chill going straight through my extremely "thin" winter wear. We all ran to the plane giggling. I managed to scooped up some snow while running to the plane to examine the texture of it. I thought, "aik, just like the frost in the freezer yah!"

While we were sitting in the plane on the tarmac, the pilot announced there was a slight delay as they had to de-ice the wings of the plane. Damn, there was a heavy snowstorm and the flaps of the plane was all frozen over. As the plane was going down the runway, it was really bumpy and that was really scarry. Through out the flight, it was really bumpy because of the snow storm. I kept worrying whether the flaps of the plane would freeze over. I looked out the window and all I saw was white.

Even though it was only in the afternoon, it was already pitch black as evening comes early in winter. When we finally landed in St Cloud, it was a really small airport. It was modern, but small. Kinda reminded me of the Ipoh airport back then. Fiona was there with a few of her friends to greet us. I was glad we had someone to pick us up, because the airport was a really lonely place. On the drive back to campus, I looked out the window and everything was just white. I couldn't tell the building from the trees or from the cars. It was still snowing heavily and sitting in the car, I was already shivering as I wasn't able to move.

Later only did I found out that the temperature was between -25F to -30F. The news report said it was colder than the weather in the Antarctica. Damn, straight from hot sweaty Malaysia to -25F St. Cloud.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The state of journalism

I’ve been reading a lot of articles and blogs about journalisms. I find that in Malaysia, most journalist are not really trained to be journalists but have ‘fallen’ into the profession by chance or for the sake of trying something different.

I still call myself a broadcast journalists. I’ve been absolutely lucky in the fact that I had the opportunity to study in the American university system. I believe it’s the best system to train one to be a journalists. Why you might ask? Well, for one, a journalist is a Jack of all trades, master of none. He has to have a broad view of everything. In the American university system, one is encouraged (and sometimes required if you’re a journalism major) to take up various courses outside of the field of mass communication, which journalism falls under.

While I was looking up a copy of my university transcript I looked back at the classes I have taken and looking back I’m glad I took those classes even though some of it I barely scrapped through with a C (okay, I admit, I failed one!). In my first semester in uni, I took the history of Rock & Roll for my music class. I know, it sounds totally frivolous but trust me, I appreciated it so much now. When ever I try to pick a song when I’m editing something, I look back at the various genres of music that I have learned and know at least where to start searching. I still beam with pride every time I see the A that I got for the class. The professor graded the class of about 200 students on a bell curve so only about 10 students got an A. I was so into the class I totally forgot I hated studying.

A good journalist would have a strong interest in the humanities like psychology, sociology, economics and also geography. Originally, I wanted to be a psychologist and I took quite a number of classes in that field but eventually I thought I might end up like Hannibal Lecter, using my knowledge for evil instead (okay, that was a bit paranoid). I find that the psychology and sociology classes really useful in the sense that it helped me better understand society and people better. I forgive people’s for their actions better because I understand sometimes they don’t have control over their anger, its their personality trait.

I took geography with my roommate Klye one semester and I only managed to get a B. The class was a really basic geography class where the professor just showed us a map of the world and named every major city and that was our test. Looking back, now I know most obscure countries or capital cities.

Sometimes I wonder how come I was never interested in all these subjects when I was in secondary school. I did miserably in the science stream but yet, I loved studying history and biology on my own.

Anyway, going back to what makes a good journalists. I think ultimately, a good journalists should be a good story teller. The journalism profession is a continuation of the old profession of the bard… the journeying story teller who sang about the people he has met. He has to tell his story in an interesting way and also know what would interest his listeners.

The journalism industry is an industry only for those really passionate about it. Those who enter it with other intentions or glorified and romanticized views of it don’t last long. They don’t last more than 3-5 years in the industry.

When I audition or interview people who want to enter the industry, what I look most for is passion… the desire to make the world a better place. Deep down, I want to find someone to take over my work when I’m not around anymore and hopefully, they’ll find someone just as passionate as they are. The learning curve is quite high for those without the academic background, but I still believe passion is what is most important.

I rather have someone prove me wrong and who can argue passionately about issues with me in an interview. Looking back, that was what I exactly did in my job interview. Maybe that’s what got me hired.

Tell me you believe that the world can be a better place and you can help and you might have a job.
Tahun Babi

I haven’t been writing for a while. Not that there wasn’t anything to say or I was too busy. It’s just I realize some things are best left unsaid.

It’s been the usual Chinese New Year. My relatives from my father’s side came over on the eve and everyone brought a dish for the pot luck dinner. I’m rather lucky they do it at my house as I get to hide in my room once it gets a little too hectic. I can see some of my cousins dozing of on my couch or looking bored.

Everyone was watching the video I shot at my grandmother’s 80th birthday last month. My grandmother kept watching it over and over again last night. Everyone had a good laugh watching themselves. I guest I’m jaded when it comes to watching stuff on TV, too used to it.

Today, the whole clan came over again today for lunch. I woke up really late, at 11:30AM and I could hear people arriving already outside my room. I was watching a DVD last night so I slept really late. I jumped into the shower and when I came out, everyone was discussing about lunch. I think there was a problem with the logistics, because there was a miscommunication about the food. Looks like no one brought the lunch and in the end we ended up eating last night’s leftover. My aunt brought over 4 boxes of pizza but by the time, everyone was done eating already.

Everyone else settled down to a game of cards. I don’t gamble or drink alcohol so I wandered of to my room. I took a nap and by the time I woke up, everyone was gone already. I like celebrating my Chinese New Year like that… sleeping. Its about the only time I get to rest.

As I said before, I don’t talk to my relatives that much. I find it hard to open up and share my life with them, or with anyone else for that matter. Today my uncle asked if I had any superglue. I ransacked my toolbox but only found glue for rubber & plastic. I asked them what the glue was for and they said it was for her shoe that came apart… ah, the perfect glue to use. My mother wasn’t too pleased I was fixing her shoe and I got another angpow for my uncle.

I’m not overtly superstitious about things like this. I only respect tradition only to please my parents and those around me. However, I do go against tradition if its against practicality. For instance, fixing my cousin’s shoe. I had giving her the glue, she might have ended up gluing herself to the shoe. Better I do it instead.

This year, no one wants to mention it’s the year of the pig on TV in Malay. The pig is so offensive, it’s a taboo word for most Muslims. Now here’s a fact you can run away, the pig is an integral part of the Chinese culture (though, I must say its not an important part of the Buddhist world). When they have an animal sign named after an animal 50% of the Malaysian population find in disgust, it’s a huge dilemma. I wonder how broadcasters handled this problem 12 years ago (an animal sign is rotated every 12 years).

What we do now is we just mention its Chinese New Year and we don’t specifically mention it’s the year of the pig. However, I do relish wishing my friends “selamat tahun babi” just to see their reaction.

I remember the dialog between Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction about pigs. I looked it up on the internet and found this:

Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don't eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all.
Vincent: Why not? Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals. Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got enough sense enough to disregard its own faeces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don't eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we'd have to be talkin' about one charmin' motherfuckin' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?

I always remember John Travolta saying “Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.” Everytime someone tells me I shouldn’t eat pork, I say that line with a little modification, “Bah Kut Teh taste gooood. Char Siew taste gooood”. Anyway, haven’t been eating much pork lately, all these fear of chemicals in it has turn me of plus there’s just too much fat in the pork I eat.

Selamat Tahun Babi kepada semua orang!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global peace

Uploaded by luxen
I shot this at the Global Peace Forum at PWTC. I read about it in the papers a few weeks before the event. The thing was suppose to start at 9AM and Norzie wanted to hitch a ride with me to the place. She called and said we'll meet in the office at 7:30AM.

I woke up at 6AM to send Chui Yan to the LRT station at 7AM. Reached the office at 7:30AM and Norzie just woke up, we finally left the office at 9AM and reached PWTC at 9:45AM, 5 mins after Tun Dr. Mahathir started his speech. Missed the first part of the presentation. We ran into Sufi, Tun's press secretary on the way up the escalator, he help lead us through the security in the hall.

There was a lot of camera crews (still and video) when I went into the hall. They were all crouched in front of the stage taking his picture. I thought what the heck, since I brought my new camera along I did that too. There was a bunch of VIP's sitting behind me as I crouched in front of them shooting visuals of the stage and Tun.

The hall was fully packed with people. There were people of different nationalities everywhere. They started adding chairs for the other reporters that were standing. I sat down next to this lady who whispered to me that their were no foreign diplomats in the hall and I pointed out the front VIP seats that they might be seating there instead. Awhile later, she whispered that they were clapping for Tun. I thought that was amusing that she's such a pro Tun supporter. I got up to go shoot more visuals and then sat next to Ifa who was there with Anwar to report on the event for my show.

After Tun finished his speech, we when of to the press centre to watch the rest of the presentation. I saw a lot of bloggers there in the press room on their laptop. Even Malaysiakini was there editing their video. I had the most horrid piece of Roti Canai. I think it was a defrosted Roti that was heated up. It was hard and tasteless. Norzie pointed out to me this kwailo reporter that was seating with us. She was eating the roti canai too except that she had spread the curry very carefully on top of the roti like jam to eat it. The roti was so hard, it was like toast.

After that, we when to the opening the war crimes exhibition by Tun. They let in all the VIP's first and asked some of us to wait. There was a few old dudes wearing tags that said 'Participant' and were getting inpatient finally they pushed their way in saying they were with the press. I thought, fuck it, I really am with the press and I walked in too. Earlier, I had given my media tag away to the Harakahdaily reporter, she needed it more than me. I was already wearing my company vest and holding a video camera. I think it goes without saying, I'm most probably with the press.

Who ever did the exhibition on the war crimes were really good at it. It was really graphic, they had a sign out there saying no entry to those under 12 years of age. There was a lot of disturbing images in there. They had people screaming playing on a loop over the speakers. Just a few months ago, in the same exhibition hall, I was there for the UMNO's exhibition on Rancangan Malaysia Ke-9 and they had astronauts and what not. Now, the hall was totally different and it turned into a house of horror. There was part of the exhibition with strobbing lights and I felt faint walking through it. Those with epilepsy problems should avoid that area.

At the end of the exhibition, they played John Lennon's Imagine. You could still hear the screaming from the other speakers and the song was playing from a different speaker... was wierd.

After all that gore, Norzie said she was starving so we when back to the press room to find lunch. The rest of the 'pirahnas' had already eating almost all of the beehoon. There was just enough for half a serving so I gave that to Norzie. After awhile, it was time to go interview two of the speakers.

We spoke to this former Democrat senator. She was just dripping with praise for Tun. For a Malaysian to hear what she was saying, it was a bit out of this world. Another lady we interviewed was this scientist who did research on Depleted Uranium. She was an odd lady... I'm not sure if she was always like that or she changed after 'finding' herself after getting harrassed because of her research. She said she was a quaker and she supported both sides of a conflict. I was holding the microphone in my hand and thinking, "yeah... right. whatever! So this could be another side effect of Depleted Uranium".

The lady was trying to explain the side effects of Depleted Uranium (DU). She said, the radiation has been blown by the wind to every part of the planet and that is why there is an increase in breast cancer and also diabetics in worldwide and also regions closest to the warzone. She said there was no cure and nothing we can do about it now except prevent futher use of DU. I thought, "fuck, we're all going to die! Damn you Bush for using DU ammo!". I asked her then where was the safest place to be on the planet and she said Malaysia would be a good place since we're on the equator. She said how the wind patterns work, the DU would be the least around the equator.

Though I'm a bit sceptical about all her correlation between cancer, diabetics, low sperm count and DU, it is a scarry thought if it was true. Ini semua salah orang Amerika!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Old & New

Uploaded by luxen

Norzie and I when to the Global Peace Forum at PWTC and we ran into their MC, Wan Zaleha Radzi. It was the meeting of the old and new host of M3. Cool isn't it?