Monday, June 30, 2008

Support our Local Theatre Scene!

Anyone interested? I looking for kakis to go with hehe ;)

Air Con - by Shanon Shah

Chep and Burn are top students in Sekolah Menengah Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Mukarram Shah, an elite school in Kedah. Head Boy, Burn, is the school's golden boy and his best friend, Chep, is feared and respected by the younger boys for his quick temper and skill on the hockey field. The school is well respected for its strong academic and sports record. However the discovery of a dead prostitute in the abandoned railway tracks near their school unravels the status quo and we discover a less golden world of bullying, sex crimes and violence. Best friends William and Asif go from innocence to experience as they are forced to deal with the repercussions of the murder. But who is responsible for the murder and will they be held accountable?

Air Con challenges and interrogates the hypocritical habit of turning youth into scapegoats in times of moral panic. Ultimately, it casts a gentle albeit unflinching gaze at the perilous path of male adolescence, and interrogates the heartbreaking ways in which society often expects boys to become men.

Written by Shanon Shah
Directed by Jo Kukathas & Zalfian Fuzi
Produced by Susie Kukathas

Introducing Amerul Affendi, Dara Othman, Firdaus Che Yahaya, Hazarul Hasnain, Nick Davis, Ryan Lee Baskaran and Zahiril Adzim. With Nam Ron, Chew Kin Wah, and Ismadi Wakiri.

Presented in Bahasa Malaysia (Kedah dialect) and English.
With English Surtitles.
For Mature Audiences.

3-6 July 2008
830pm (Thurs-Sun)
3pm (Sat-Sun)
RM 42, RM 27 (students, seniors)
Preview: 2 July 830pm RM 22 only

To find out more about The Instant Café Theatre Company as well as its FIRSTWoRKS Writing Program you can visit their website at

Sunday, June 29, 2008

End of the World 2012 - Can this be true?

part 1

part 2

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

Joe, if you're reading this, just wanted to let u know that it'z coz of you I'm reading his book haha I remember you told me about him before...about one of his books, can't remember the title exactly, but I stumbled on this book at a book fair. So I thought of trying him out.

This book is a compilation of Haruki's 25 short stories. I read 2 of them last night...The first one was the title story. If anyone of you habe read that story in this book, could you enlighten me pls on what's the author trying to say? I m still lost....

I kinda liked the 2nd story...'The Birthday Girl'. It tells of this waitress, who had the opportunity of delivering dinner to the owner of the restaurant she's working at. This job, is usually done by the manager of the restaurant. But because he was down with a stomach flu, she had to assume the responsibility. Coincidentally, it was her 20th birthday. And it was this special day that the owner of this restaurant gives her a free wish, with the promise that it'd be granted. Many years later, she shared this story with her friend, who asked her if her wish was granted and if she ever regretted making that wish. Then the protagonist asked her friend too, that if she was ever given a chance to make a wish, what would she wish for...and the friend who has never given that a thought,...couldn't give an answer...and the waitress said, 'That's because you've made the wish...'

As I completed the last sentence of that story, and closed my eyes to sleep...I asked myself, what would I have wished for if I were in a similar situation, and what was the author's message?

Hmm....i think this story is opened to interpretation....As I'm new to his works, and so far, I don't get what he's been trying to say in his first two stories, and feel utterly very stupid about it...I begin to think to myself, does everything in life has to be explainable? I've always searched for explanations and answers to everything that happens around me - why this, why that?

Maybe life, like his stories, is meant to be felt and not explained? Maybe I should just enjoy his stories and embrace his style of ambiguity....

My fav singer at the moment

Just thought of sharing this. I love duffy (and leona lewis)....i'm 'burying' amy winehouse 6 ft underground...her addiction problem is twitching my nerves. you reli need rehab lady.

ok so here it is....duffy's syrup & honey....!

did you notice the video progresses from black and white to colour?? ;)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sailing with Poppies

To be honest, I enjoyed every moment reading the first few pages of Sea of Poppies (If you're not familiar with literature, I'd strongly suggest you google some reviews on the book. It'd help a great deal). I mean, how could anyone not fall in love with descriptions such as this,

'the blooms lingered so long that people began to say that there would be no need to buy colours when Holi came: the flowers would be enough to drench the world in the joyful hues of the month of Phalgun'?

Just so you know, Holi or 'Phagwah' is the most colourful festival celebrated by followers of the Vedic Religion. It is celebrated as harvest festival as well as welcome-festival for the spring season in India.

Everything was a harmonious read till I came to page 15...Check this out:

''Afeem ship,' camethe answer. 'China-side, Yankee gen'l'um allo tim tok so-fashion. Also Mich'man like Malum Zikri.''


'''Malum Zikri! Captin-bugger blongi poo-shoo-foo. He hab got plenty sick! Need one piece dokto. No can chow-chow tiffin. Allo tim do chhee-chhee, pee-pee. Plenty smelly in Captin cabin.''

and it continues...

I quickly flipped through the rest of the pages, kept my fingers crossed, and hoped that the rest of the book would not be written in this manner (not that I hated it, but too much of anything is never good) but only to have found the constant use of that language throughout the book (though not as heavy as the ones mentioned above). So I sought for help at, and was glad that I did. Yes, Sea of Poppies has its own chrestomathy :P (You have to check it out if you're reading this book. It's pretty interesting. From what I've read about Ghosh, he has a strong love for language).

Amitav Ghosh is one of India’s best-known writers. His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, The Hungry Tide. His most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy.

And another thing which I thought was quite unique, was that, whenever he used a 'foreign' word, he didn't use the italic form. Meaning, the foreign words was almost like, urm,...being incorporated into the British English (ok I don't think I've explained this part quite well, but I hope anyone who's reading this get what I mean)

I've just completed chapter 5, where Neel Rattan was given an irresistable offer, which he had to decline...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Read While Waiting Project by Random Acts

I thought this idea was cool! Let's join in the fun ;) being able spend at least 15 minutes reading these days, is a luxury man....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Evening with Chiew-Siah Tei (20th June, 2008, Friday)

Her words of advice continued to linger on my mind even after leaving our meeting place at the One World Hotel, Petaling Jaya. Her smile radiates that of a very calm person with a quiet confidence – one that if shaken, can emerge victorious.

Chiew-Siah Tei was born and bred in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan, a small state south of Malaysia. She went to UK to study in the 1990s and now lives in Glasgow. Little Hut of Leaping Fishes is her first novel, and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2007.

Her first story was published in our local Sin Jiew Jit Poh, sent in by her primary school teacher. This was the story that sparked Tei’s interest and passion in writing. “I was really excited, seeing my work published in the papers,” she said with smile.

Little Hut came to being after her first trip to China in 1999. “I went to China as a Chinese, but I felt different. There were certain cultures and practices that were different too. I started questioning myself. What is it that’s making me feel so different in my ‘own’ country as compared to Malaysia? If I don’t ‘belong’ to China or Malaysia, then where do I belong? What made my great grandparents migrate?” With that, she began digging her roots, burying her nose in piles of books, and four years later, Little Hut was born. (Just google it to find out about the story)

On her writing style
When I first read the book, I thought Tei adopted much of her screenwriting techniques in writing her story, using montages, sound effects and play of camera angles. (Oh, I have studied a little on film & tv, so I know some 'stuff' :P)

“I wanted to present a film on the pages. I used my background in screenwriting and film studies, and made use of my knowledge in film language and techniques into this book (Yes! I was right!). My intention was to give my reader the cinematic effect, by allowing them to look at the scenes or people through the camera’s eyes.”

Such was seen in a sequence in chapter 19 when Mingyuan was in a feud in a market place (page 337) – a fast moving image of a knife, the blood and the scream (one line in each paragraph) – setting a fast reading pace for the reader with those montages displayed in the reader's mind. This was one of the many examples she applied for a cinematic effect.

On developing her story
I’ve been told, after speaking to a few editors on fiction writing, that when I write, I should let my story go with the flow (i.e. let my heart lead the way). But what I had in mind was to first have a structure of the story, then write. (I’ve been doing it all this while, when I write articles for my magazine). And I did just that when I attempted my first short story. But guess what? It didn’t work. One of the editors told me that the story didn’t feel ‘natural’ and was too ‘planned-out’. (And I spent sleepless nights structuring the whole story!)

So I posed the question to Tei, on structuring her story, hoping that she’d tell me what I want to hear. But I was dismayed when she said, “I didn’t have a plot to begin with. I began writing it with a concept of homelessness/sense of belonging. I wanted to write about a man who was discontented about his environment and wanted to change his life and the people involved in it. With that, I created the main character (Mingzhi) who was born in a feudal family, deep-rooted in their Chinese traditions and cultures for many generations.

In my story, I wanted things to happen when it should happen. I referred to the historical events and make my characters live along these events and create moments that became plots. For example, when reformation movement failed in 1898, I arranged for Mingzhi’s wife and unborn son die. I planted these details subtly. It’s kind of metaphorical.”

On her future plans
I commented on the abrupt end to her story. “I’m planning for a trilogy. The second book follows Mingzhi to Malaya in 1900 to 1930s, while the third book tells of the present – 1990s to the 20th century, when migration becomes a norm. With the past that has happened, and the present that's happening, the question to ask again is – where is home?”

Before I left, she gave me this piece of advice, “Keep on writing. Believe in yourself and be determined. Persevere. Read extensively! (I’m trying, I’m trying!)”

The two books which inspired her:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, and
One Hundred Years of Solitude (in Chinese) by Gabriel García Márquez

thanks again Kavita ;)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Little Launch of Two Writers

The moment I've been waiting for has arrived. I am finally meeting the author of 'Little Hut of Leaping Fishes' Chiew-Siah Tei. Her book, 'Little Hut of Leaping Fishes' was officially launched at the British Council, Kuala Lumpur yesterday. It was the first time that the British Council and book distributors Pansing had worked in partnership to organise this event. Regrettably, I wasn't able to make it. I was held up at another interview. Sigh...

Anyway, thanks to my dear friend, Kavita from Pansing, I am able to catch up with Tei and have a one-on-one interview with her at One World Hotel, Petaling Jaya, TODAY! And with this too, I'm finally launching www.hookedonbookz.blogspot, officially!

I really can't wait to meet up with her. And what's more interesting is, she and I both come from the same hometown - Negeri Sembilan! I hope we'll all have a good time. Kavita, thanks loads!

Here's one of the many pics taken at the launch:

Picture courtesy of Kavita Virik of Pansing


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