Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Letting Go

A bit sad, upset even, I was feeling when I heard my wife telling my 8-years-old daughter she’s registered her for another weekly tuition in Chinese language. I was already not happy about the first tuition, which started last year and teaches most of the subjects in school except Chinese.

Being a democratic family, I don’t, and frankly, can’t always insist matters of our children to be decided solely by me. After all, it’s the child’s benefit that’s behind the decision, and there are bound to be more than one way to achieve it. Of course, avoiding a quarrel with the wife also stands prominently amongst the reasons in giving ways.

There were two reasons why I opposed to tuitions for our children at this stage. The first reason shattered when I realised that our daughter is enjoying the tuition and friends she meets in the class. The second reason is as valid and as strongly felt as before.

But, I’m probably being selfish.

One of the reasons, I think, I’m enjoying fatherhood so much nowadays is that I find great satisfaction and pleasure in being able to impart what’s within me to my children. It’s not always easy. At times it involves threats of taking out a cane, and the kids bursting into tears under my overly high expectation. I have to admit that there are truths in how parents may not be the most effective teachers.

But I do find joy and have always yearned for opportunities to share quality times with them during my “tuitions”. Perhaps it’s something to do with “legacy”?

So, if it’s for the good of the child, and I oppose because I feel that I was denied access to the pleasant experiences of fatherhood, I’m probably being selfish, right?

Perhaps this is part of the process of me letting go of my lovely children as they grow older.

If this is indicative of what it’s like letting go, I think I’ll have a hard time. In fact, I have always known that I will have a hard time.

But, hopefully, by the times they step into their teens, they might grow to be so annoying that I'll frown and sweep them aside whenever they're in sight.

At least, it's much easier to let go in this way.



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wall-E

Wall-E is not that good, I thought.

And I blame it on all the reviews I read before I went to the movie.

It’s been a long while since I started to go for movies regularly. So long that I forgotten my movie-going golden rule no. 1 – do not read any review of the movie you intend to watch. Without expectation, I always find that I would be able to enjoy the movie, even if the critics say otherwise. Simple entertainment – that’s what I look for with the ticket I pay.

I only realized that I’d breached my golden rule when I was wondering why I was left a bit flat by the movie coming out of the cinema. I set my expectation too high.

Still, coming after so many CGI movies, Wall-E doesn’t seem to provide any breakthroughs.

After toys, ants, grasshoppers, cars, trucks, rats, panda, snake, praying mantis, etc were being made to walk, talk, fight, dance and suffer through emotions like us, I’d expect some ground breaking animation with robots (again I blame all the reviews I read). Apart from the angel looking Eve, I don’t think I’ll remember Wall-E for its robotic cuteness (didn’t Wall-E looks a lot like a shrunk Johnny Five?).

And when the sky, or outer space, or the outer of outer space is the limit with CGI available, I thought the storyline could be a bit more outrageously creative. I don’t think I’ll remember Wall-E for its storyline, either. But then again, this is a movie for kids. And maybe I’d already known the plot before I went into the cinema (and again, I blame those damned movie reviews).

But there was something that caught my creativity-seeking antenna when I watched the movie. I just couldn’t pinpoint it when I left.

On our drive home after the movie, as I was blaming all the reviews I read earlier, the movie’s "creative breakthrough” lurking in my mind surfaced.

Amid the music from the car radio, my kids at the back were going, “Wa, Waa, Waal, Waallll, Eeeeee,” and then, “E, Ee, Eeeev, Eeeevvee,” in their squeaky voices.

Those robotic voices of Wall-E and Eve!

That’s what I’ll remember the movie for. I can’t seem to remember any more lingering voices of any animated figures than those two.

So, at least I was satisfied in one way. But I still blame the movie reviews I read.

I’m sure after I have watched Wall-E over, and over, and over again with my kids on DVD when we get it, it’ll boost up my admiration for the film.

Oh, did I mention? My kids love the movie. And they think it’s, “G, Gr, Grrre, Grrreee, Grrreeeeaaaattt!”




Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Should I or Should I Not?

Apolitical.

That’s what I am. I am and never was politically left, right, center, up, down, front, back, in, out or anything.

The recent gibberishes in my blog regarding local political scene are results from my hyped-up, let down, excited, disappointed, confused, perplexed, and mainly upset sentiments as a citizen. Upset by the apparent manipulation of feelings by our politicians to achieve their own agenda under the guise of “people’s interest”, a thought that seems least related to their talks and actions.

If I was so unconcerned about politics, why should I let my thoughts being dragged into it in recent times? A question I’ve been asking myself lately.

Perhaps the myriad of possibilities made possible by the recent election, and the perceived thin line between hopes and realities resulting from it have awaken my political mind’s slumber. Or simply perhaps now that I started a blog, it provides me with writing materials.

Whatever the reason, my aroused political interest are slowly dampened by recent political development. The often incomprehensible walks and talks by both the government and the opposition have slowly dampened that fire, and put me back into a resigned and perhaps self-ridicule mode, maybe the only ways to endure such mind-numbing political moves.

But then again, within a basic democratic society, it’ll probably take years to change our political and social fundamentals, for better or for worse. And it doesn’t matter who’s in charge of our government. By the times all the changes start to affect me, perhaps I’ll already be a senile old man, sitting in my rocking chair at my porch, staring blankly afar and couldn't care less of what's happening around me.

So, I probably shouldn’t care anymore.

But then yet again, when I turn to the two beings under my wings, whom I value more than my own life; and when I realize that what’s happening now will affect their future, perhaps, I should care.

Indeed I would continue to be concerned.

In the mean time, before I adjust my blogging mood back to the happier writings on parenthood and all things nice, here’s one more gibberish:-

Poof!

And then there’s nothing




Saturday, September 20, 2008

Poof!

<Previous post>

“Poof!”

Suddenly, smoke rises around the character. Within seconds, the character has submerged into the rippling smoke.

The crowd gasps, caught surprised by the sudden explosion.

As the smoke slowly thins out, the character is gone.

“Che!”, “I knew it!”, “I’ve told you so!”, “Aiyoh!”, “Why like that one!” – are comments heard from the disappointed crowd. Amid the deflated atmosphere, a certain section of the crowd starts to leave.

“Poof!” Another small explosion erupted at the same spot, just as things are starting to quiet down.

The character re-emerges within the smoke, standing still.

As the smoke rises slowly towards the clear sky, the swords are no longer in sight. Lying next to the character is a coil of rope.

The reappearance of the character draws back some departing spectators.

As the crowd settles down, the character picks up one end of the rope and hurls it towards an empty space. The end of the rope leaves his hands and darts towards its intended direction like a flying serpent. As the flying end of the rope pulls itself up from the coil on the ground, it never reduces its speed. The crowd, amazed by the strength that let flies of such speed, gazes at the flying rope intently.

Right before the rope straighten itself completely, the character sprints towards the flying end of the rope. Just as the rope is starting to reach its end, and the blurring image is within the touching distance of the speeding end, the character slows down, puts down both his hands, thumps his chest in arrogance, and gets hold of the end of the rope before it drops to the ground.

Holding the end of the rope in one hand, he stands still.

As he puts the rope down onto the ground, the crowd erupts in applause.

The crowd studies the rope that’s lying silently on the ground. It spreads out to the length of more than 222 people. As they notice the red ribbon tied at the center of the rope, “Tug-of-war!” a child yells out, in excitement.

As the crowd begins to understand of what’s going on. The father explains to the child, “It’s not, son. It’s sort of like tug-of-war. But in this game, strength doesn’t matter. It’s the number of people on each side that determines the winner. See the words sewn onto the rope?”

The child focuses his sight onto the words pointed out by his father - “Vote of Confidence.”

The character turns towards a figure within the crowds, and utter slowly, “9!” putting up both hands, which he needs to put up nine fingers; “2!’, a V-sign his hand makes; “3!”, and an OK hand signal.

By this time, a section of the crowd has already started to leave the place. For they understand that the whistle required to start off this game is in the hand of the other character, who is being challenged to blow the whistle. And they know he would most likely ignore the daring call. Everyone can sense the uneasiness of his frowning face, perturbed perhaps not only by the character in front of him, but also by the rumbling sound behind him.

Knowing nothing is going to happen, again, the crowd begins to dissipate, in droves this time. After all, they have their jobs, and chores to attend to. The show, or no-show, provide a brief respite to their daily worries of rising costs of food, fuel, and finances, and the falling of stock markets, purchasing power, returns on investment, and the stagnant level of their incomes and salaries.

Part of the crowd, who were chanting “916” along with the character before, remains rooted to their place, as the rest slowly leaves the arena …


<Is there more?>


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chang! Chang! Chang!

“Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang! Chang …. CHANG!”

As the gong stops its ear-piercing noise abruptly with its last bang, the head of the central character make a sudden twist towards the spectators. Both swords in his hands, which he has been swinging gracefully while twisting his body into various positions, simultaneously come to a stop. Slowly, he glances across the spectators. Holding their breath, their eyes meet the sharp gaze of the character. The place shrouded in silence.

Then, without any indicative sign, the deafening silence is suddenly broken, “916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916 … 916!”, the character sings, as the banging gong resumes.

By this stage, the spectators are already very excited. Their expectation have been hyped up by posters seen everywhere around town, announcing the arrival of the show and what’s been written and promised by those posters. Yet, they can’t shake off the lurking sense of suspicion behind their mind that all these might yet be a hoax.

As the spectators are left trying to figure out the credibility of the propaganda, the character is focusing on his dance, and goes “916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916! 916 … ”

All these times, the spectators' eyes are following the movement of the swords, which have "31" carved loudly onto them, attempting to discern the nature of its destructive power.

And they wait in anticipation …


<What's next ...>



Saturday, September 13, 2008

CUT!

“CUT!” the director sitting at the chair behind the camera yells.

“That’s it for the day,” he announces, as a group of people clad in police uniform walk away from the set. The “blogger”, the “reporter”, and the “politician” smile at each other expressing relief as their parts are finally completed.

“Sir, the actor who plays the never-say-sorry figure’s asking whether he’s needed for the last scene,” the assistant asks the director.

“Why are you asking me this? Don’t you have a script? READ IT! And don’t forget we still need the airport props for the last scene,” the director yells angrily, while flipping through his own script.

“Hmm … the court scenes, the airport scenes, the election, the protests, the press conferences, and the arrests scenes are all done. All scenes leading to the big climax have finished according to schedule. Good,” the director reflects.

“You, get everybody and everything ready for the final shooting in three days time, OK? I don’t want any mistake. This show is going to be HUGE, ” the director turns to his assistant. The assistant nods gingerly.

As the director walks away, his mind is still playing out all possible ways of filming to ensure the finale will be as farcical as the earlier scenes …


For all the “all-too-obvious-why-it happened” events that’s been happening towards the much-awaited dateline of 916, and the ensuing “think-the-people-is-na├»ve” explanation of the actions, somehow, I couldn’t help but feel that when the fated day arrives, someone with a gigantic megaphone will yell out “CUT! Good show, everyone,” across Malaysia. And then, life will go on as normal for us common people.

The events that had happened and their timing are so senseless that only the “CUT!” scenario will straighten my bewildered mind. I feel that the events actually have to beg to be believed if it's real.

Won't we all feel like fools if, three days later, “CUT!” is really yelled out to all Malaysians, and we realize we’ve been taken for a ride?

But, then again, we could be bigger fools, if this is not a “show” and we’ve been taken for a real-life roller coastal ride by our politicians, whose maturity and regards to the intelligence and well-being of the common people, surely, need some serious questioning.

Is there any other way to make sense of what’s been happening?



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

51?

51.

At the risk of over-simplification, that's how many people are required in a democratic society with a population of 100 to change its government. Or 51%.

(Following is nothing more than an observation of a current event and a resulting thought that bears no political or moral inference. It provides no analysis on the legitimacy, propriety, or justification or otherwise of the events.)

The recent political development (people wanting the current prime minister to resign and their protests) in our neighbour, Thailand, had thrown a spanner into my clockwork of thinking regarding democracy.

The spanner?

How many people within a democratic society are required to change its government?

At the peak of the protest, the number of protesters reached 40,000. These 40,000 represent about 0.06% of Thailand population of 65 million. To date, this 0.06% had been able to force the government to hold a referendum to determine the continuity of its administration. If the protesters succeed in their objective, through the referendum or otherwise, that would certainly make my first statement, sort of, wrong.

Won't it?

Let's switch our focus.

(AGAIN, following is nothing more than an observation of current events and a resulting thought that bears no political or moral inference. It provides no analysis on the legitimacy, propriety, or justification or otherwise of the development. BUT, it's written with a bit of confusion, disbelief, disappointment, indifference and maybe even disgust.)

In a country with a population of 25 millions, and where recent buzz words in the political scene include sodomy, "penumpang" , 916, timely overseas farming study trip, etc, how many people are required to change a government?

12.75 millions (*), or 51%?

Or 0.0001% - 30?

* I realise it's an over-simplified view regarding the actual working of democracy. The relevant numbers should be the number of eligible voters; but, still, doesn't it make you wonder?


Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Face With No Name

“Oh, let there be a fire break out somewhere; or some masked men running out of a boutique amidst blaring security alarms …”

Those evil thoughts are slowly emerging while my mind is working into my memory.

It’s Saturday night and we’re strolling in the shopping mall after dinner. My wife and kids are somewhere shopping for new shoes, while I was happily sitting on a bench observing the people traffic, trying to come up with my next blogging materials.

While one part of my brain was trying to be creative, the other part was trying to come up with a name to match a face I met ten minutes ago. The lady smiled at me while we were going up on the escalator as she traveled the opposite direction. I smiled back politely, knowing she’s an acquaintance of some sorts but can’t match the face with a name, a place and a time, and felt relieved for not getting myself into an embarrassing conversation in which I don’t know who I’m talking to.

Later, I regretted I smiled. For smiling back means I recognize her and she’s now standing in front of me, in a conversation with me.

While my mind’s trying to dig up a name, I dare not miss a word she says. Hoping to find a gap within her stream of words to counter attack and pry open some information to unlock my memory.

As my mind is flipping through names and places all the way back to my primary school years, I’m getting a little bit uneasy.

Until now, I can only be defensive and stop the flow of exchanges by answering her every question without countering with a question. Fearing the question would expose my failing memory.

By this time, three minutes into the engagement, it would already be too embarrassing to ask, “You are … “ and let her complete the sentence.

However, knowing I won’t retain any memory while I was floating in my mother’s womb, I stop my futile search and start to work on another strategy to get away from this what-her-name person.

I reach my hand into my pocket, trying to feel the button on my handphone and try to make it ring by changing the ringtone. But the complexity of the correct key sequence stops me half way, and makes me drop my planned conversation into a non-responsive equipment.

Plan B.

I take out my handphone and try to look not too casually on the time shown, hoping she’d catch the hint.

None taken.

By now, I’d have guessed that with her unrelenting, strong tenacity on the conversation, she’d most likely be an insurance agent whom I met not too long ago. The assumption that she’s not a personal friend makes my participation in the mostly one-way exchange easier.

Finally. At long last, she looks at her watch.

One last hurdle though, “Don’t mention my name, just say goodbye and go.“ I know I won’t be able to respond in kind.

Then, it strikes, “I gotta go. See ya, Michael,” she waves her hands, while I stand still.

Barely twenty seconds later, my wife and children appear. Surprised to observe my pensive expression, she taps my shoulder, “What’s wrong, Peter?”



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Top 10

The musical notes dancing to the tune Symphony of Love fill the room. The room I call The Orange Derange Lab. Deranged, by the countless futile attempts to convert picture in my mind into words. Deranged, by the lack of comments received from my hard work. Deranged, by the difficulty experienced in trying to meet my self-imposed dateline. Yet, I'm sitting here. It's the place where I live my so-called blogging life.

I stare blankly at the screen in front of me, while my mind is toiling away trying to tear down the fortress that's guarding my writing muse to get the task done. Toil as I may, the mesmerizing melody of the Symphony circling in the air leads me to a separate trail, away from the task at hand …

“With moments of our lives being shared amongst us through these virtual connection, around the globe, is Friend FurEver a far-fetched dream? We’re probably sharing thoughts that we’ve never thought of sharing with another soul …”

However fondly my absent mind follows down the heart-warming path of friendship, the glaring screen in front of me serves as a loud reminder of my unfinished task. The experience from the up, down and sometimes insane world of freelance writing has served me adequately, just, in the past, but this … though technically easy, is far from a stroll in the park.

Not one who shies away from difficult path, focused, confident, and fearless, down the road to victory, iWalk, U2?

Now that August’s passed and September just starting, the clock ticking non-stop, indifferent to all who beg for her to stop or slow down, it’s best for me to stay focus on the task in front.

Now, how, how do I put “Life with Kim into this thank you notes for my top 10 Entrecard droppers in the month of August? How indeed …

Any idea?


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