Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Witnessing a road accident is not the peachiest thing.

My mom was driving my brother to a shopping mall near our house so he could catch the latest Star Wars episode; I accompanied them in the front passenger seat. On the way there, a blue pickup truck carrying an unsecured gas cylinder came out onto an adjacent lane from a junction to our left, and the swerve caused the cylinder to topple out from the back of the truck and spin into oncoming traffic. A motorcyclist directly behind the truck desperately tried to avoid the cylinder in his path, but it was headed for him way too fast, and he ended up ramming straight into it. The bike skidded on its side, the motorist hurtled across the road, somersaulted through the air, bounced off the tarmac, rolled through the air again and somehow landed on the kerb a good 7 metres away from the impact. He propped himself up, looking dazed and shaken but definitely very much alive. In the duration of these six seconds, my mom and I were swearing as though we had sold our mouths to the devil.

Mom tore down the highway to chase after the pickup truck, horning and darting in and out, ironically like those "crazy young punks who deserve to die" she's always talked about.

We finally caught up to the truck and I took down the license plate number. We sped up to the driver's side where two guys were chatting away, oblivious to what had just happened. I rolled down my window, threw my arms out and waved like a madman to catch their attention and signalled them to pull over. They did so and my mom came out in a flurry of urgent anger to inform them of what had just happened, telling them to turn around and check up on the accident. It took a while for the two young men to form startled looks on their faces; they either had been on something the night before or they just possessed the cumulative IQ of a celery stick. They did eventually realize that their cylinder was indeed missing, and they drove up to the next U-turn.

My mom drove back to the shopping mall, still cussing at their carelessness. My body remained frozen in my cringing position, clammy hands keeping a firm grip on my collarbone. Throughout the entire affair, my brother kept silent in the backseat, probably just annoyed at how messed-up drivers could have cost him a good seat in the cinema.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Where's Your Head At

I have a morbid fear of getting my collarbone bitten, slashed, fractured or smashed to smithereens by a mallet. It all started a few years ago. I don't know how or why I suddenly feel extremely vulnerable when I stretch my neck or any part of my upper chest feels a draft; sometimes the feeling of fragilty would just creep up on me for no reason. I would suddenly hunch up and wrap my pashmina around my neck at work, or wedge a pillow underneath my chin before I sleep. And when there's nothing to cover up with, then I just lay my hands there, Egyptian mummy style.

A friend theorizes that it's a result of some trauma which my brain has suffered in the past, or a disturbing dream which left something behind when I was suddenly awoken. I was thinking more along the lines of sustaining an injury there in a past life, maybe even dying from a vampire attack, public beheading or medeival torture device. (Indeed, being an X-Phile does leave its profound effects.)

The paranoia has flourished over recent months. It now annoys me on an almost constant basis and I don't know how to get rid of it. Heck, my collarbone is rattling as I type this out. Can someone just decapitate me and end my misery?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Mates, skates & cake

I left my book in my cast-mate Nigel's car on the day of the ad shoot, so we agreed to meet up for dinner with his friends last Friday so he could pass it back to me. He also invited me to a party which sounded interesting enough for me to say yes.

We dined at TGI Fridays, where I got acquainted to his buds who proved to be nothing more but a bunch of grown-up hooligans. With the restaurant crew coming out so often to sing funky TGIF birthday songs at every alternate table, Nigel's friends decided to exploit my naivety and informed a waitress about the joyous occasion at our own table. As the decoy birthday girl, I was not spared from the chair-standing ritual. I found it hard to contain my excitement.

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Apparently it was done for the free chocolate cake, but they inevitably chucked the entire slice in front of me after getting full from seemingly significant crumb-picking.

The Black Union Party was pretty cool. I didn't dance too much; I tried my hand at wallflowering with the guys, although I felt completely out of my element. The free flow of stout was overwhelming, and my request for a Sprite seemed futile.

'My Goodness, My Guinness'
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I went out for a drink with good school buddy Ashvin the next day. After months of hardcore clubbing, it was the first time in a long time that I had seen his face in one continuing light, and been able to speak to him at natural volume. We yapped for hours and he dropped me back home at 1.30am. John, a friend who lives down the road, happened to be driving by as I opened the gate to my house. He asked me out again, seeing me as the only medium of release at that time from a sugar rush and severe case of verbal diahorrea. We drove around our road and I suggested that we park somewhere since it was roadkill peak hour, so he took me to his house where we reflected on love, career and life in general until the sun came up. Which wasn't such a good idea, as his mom awoke earlier than expected and I had to stay hidden in his bedroom until she left for church. Which she did at 8.45am, then his dad woke up. We were forced to make an espionage escape during his father's loo break. John dropped me back where I then sneaked into my house, put on my jammies and jumped into bed without waking any of my own folks. I was fairly impressed with what I've learnt from MTV.

I finally found time and balls to have a go at my new skateboard. My main objective was to just get a feel of the board, how much I could tilt it before my arms start flailing. Six additional wheels does make a vast difference, so it's going to be a while before I can show the toddlers in the park how cool I am again.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Revenge of the Retards

I think last Sunday was Retard Day.

My family was discouraging me from going for the Malaysian Idol auditions, particularly my sister's boyfriend. He advised me not to do it for fun - that if I wanted to take part then I should go for vocal lessons and rock the judges next year, instead of ruining my burgeoning potential pseudo-celebrity reputation. He had a point there, but what he didn't understand was that I had a reputation to keep.

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I coerced my friend Stephanie into waking up at some ungodly hour to make our way to Berjaya Times Square early enough to beat the crowd.

We arrived there at 7.30am, and I can modestly say that we did a fairly good job.

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The registration booth opened at about 9am, and we were told that the doors to the waiting room would open at about 10-ish, so waited we did, and the crowd started trickling in.

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The tv station crew made their rounds picking out random people and making them sing for the camera and everyone else present. Stephanie and I sighed with relief when they looked in our direction and pointed at a fellow sitting right next to us. He sang Josh Groban's "Where You Are," bottle microphone and superhero cape included for dramatic effect.

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The doors to the waiting room opened at 10.15am, and several queues were formed for candidates to get their audition numbers. Stephanie and my numbers were among the first called out in the waiting room, to be included in the first batch of wannabes for the day.

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Stephanie was planning to sing Taylor Dane's take on Barry White's "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love". (Ok, the office radio just started playing that song as I typed his name. I am Jean Grey.) I was still deciding on whether to sing Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke", George Michael's "Freedom" or Jamiroquai's "Return of the Space Cowboy". I sang all three to Stephanie, and she preferred the last one. But as we were ushered up to another floor to wait outside the first audition room, I decided vocal power over tunefulness, and went in to perform 'Freedom' in front of the preliminary elimination crew. I regretted it the moment I opened my mouth. I managed to hold my notes, but I sounded like I stepped out fresh from a meat freezer room. I didn't expect to be so nervous, since I've done stupider things in front of a camera. Stephanie went in right after me, and after both we were done, we were asked to remain sitting outside until our batch was done.

We were then all asked to enter another room that had a table facing a bunch of chairs. After we seated ourselves down, a crew man came in and asked casually who was not from Kuala Lumpur and had travelled down just for the auditions. The guy next to me put up his hand. He also asked if anyone had 'interesting jobs'. Noone answered. The guy then told the first row to stand up, and asked about 80% to step forward, Steph and I included. The crew guy informed the last two guys standing behind us - including the out-of-town guy next to me - that they had made it through the preliminaries. Misunderstanding the guy's muffled Malay, I squealed with delight and planted a big smack on Steph's cheek. I suspect she and many other people thereafter wanted to smack me back in a different manner.

Steph and I were feeling a tad disappointed; we weren't intending to win, nor even make it to the final 100. It would have been at least a little cool to hear feedback from the three actual judges. The losers from our batch theorized that the success rate would be higher if you were young, not working, and came a long way from home (which explained the crew man's probing questions in the elimination room). Plus, we were not bad enough to be entertaining.

We comforted each other and parted ways, knowing that everyone is, in our hearts and Paula Abdul's ever-hopeful mind, an Idol.

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Retardation rating: 67% Must try harder next year to get myself performing Ren & Stimpy's 'Happy Happy Joy Joy Song' on national television.

After the audtions, Stephanie needed to pay her bills at a bank in Ampang, so we hailed a cab driven by an fat elderly Chinese guy. We got in.

Translated from Malay where applicable, this was the dialogue that ensued:

*Cabbie starts conversing in Mandarin*
Steph: Eeerr, we don't speak Chinese.
Dav: No...
Steph: Uh, we are.
Steph: Erm, no.
Cabbie: ... YOU ARAB?
Steph: No. We're Chinese.
*Cabbie asks question in Mandarin*
Steph: We don't speak Chinese.
Steph: No.
Dav: No.
Cabbie: HOKKIEN?
Steph & Dav: No.
Cabbie: ... BUT YOU CHINESE!
Dav: We Chinese, we don't speak Chinese!
*Steph and Dav look and each other and laugh uncomfortably, cabbie turns around quickly to look at passengers*
Steph: Eer, yeah...
Steph: ...White.
Cabbie: HAH!?!? WHITE MAN AARR??
*Steph laughs*
Cabbie: BOTH OF YOU?
*Dav looks nervously at Steph*
Dav: ...Ya!
Steph: (In hushed tone) Just play along, ok?
*Dav nods*
Steph: Uh, not yet!
*Cabbie turns around to check out passengers*
*Dav and Steph laugh nervously, cabbie continues to ogle as vehicle stops at traffic light*
*Cabbie starts making strange noises and looks at car waiting next to his*
*Dav and Steph laugh nervously*
Steph: No, pay money out!
*Cabbie stops car outside bank and leers at passengers*
*Cabbie starts making strange noises again and smacks his lips*
Dav: Uhhh... thank you!?
*Dav and Steph bolt out of cab door and run out screaming*

Retardation rating: 93% Dirty old men say the darndest things.

My sister's boyfriend was taking one of my family dogs out for a walk in our neighborhood when he came across a plastic bag that was rustling next to a dustin, as though something was moving inside. He opened it to find 3 newborn kittens: furless, blind and silently screaming in hunger. He took them back to his apartment, and is temporarily taking care of them whilst seeking a new worthy owner for them. If anyone is looking for a new feline pet/s, please let me know. (It would sorta help that you're not numbskulled enough to believe that anything tied up in a plastic bag and left by the kerb will instantaneously transform into lifeless trash.)

Retardation rating: 434% I've been ambitiously outdone, and for once I can't find a reason to feel insulted.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Japan-easy, not

I arrived at the advertising agency at 6am, where the 3 talents would be taken to the filming location of the TM Net commercial. It was in my very own neighborhood but in a recreational park which I had never come across before, Rimba Kiara.

There was a breakfast spread and I wolfed down some french toast and tuna sandwich before getting my makeup done right away, and my co-star Nigel started getting a crash course in Japanese pick-up lines by the speech coach, Jeffrey.

The sun rose quickly as I dressed into my outfit and got my hair done, all the while with no knowledge of what I was looking like. My only reference was the crew's fascinated reaction when they saw me trod on set for the first take of the morning.

Crew members softening the sunlight over the bench where the shoot will take place
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Makeup artist Ferlina adjusting my leg-warmers
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Ferlina was asked to help attach a tiny microphone underneath my blouse. "Stick it on her bra, or somewhere on her cleavage," one of the sound crew told Fermina. Ferlina unbuttoned my top, peeped in and probed around for a suitable spot, which probably took her a while as I have the chest of a prepubescent boy. Meanwhile, a sound guy behind me was trying to discreetly clip the battery pack onto the back of my underwear. My attire compounded my momentary state of innocent vulnerability; the men standing around in close proximity pretended not to show interest.

The scenario was that a Japanese schoolgirl's crush (played by Farez) would try to win her heart with the help of his friend (played by Nigel) who would translate to her on his behalf.

Jeffrey taught me a line which my character had to say ("Mo... Shin ji la naaaiii!"), and having so much trouble with that one line alone, I was unable to fathom Nigel's mental challenge of sounding like a fluent speaker.

Nigel's cue card
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My skirt was a little shorter than expected, so trying to comply with the regulations of the national Censorship Board, I was required to cover my hands over my knees for the entire duration of the ad. The camera was angled in such a way that I had to also make sure that my knees were locked together at all times. Harry was the only guy to keep reminding me to stop flashing, at one point even mentioning that he saw the color of my knickers. Yeah, so it was his job to be a perv. But I personally think flourescent orange lycra deserves a bit more slack.

Director Off throwing around ideas
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I underestimated the ease of shooting such a short scene. As the camera rolled, I had to keep in mind the position of my legs, my reaction to what was being said, my non-english line, its intonation and pronounciation, when to grab my schoolbag, how to keep my skirt down while standing up, where to walk off and how to do so without muffling my microphone... A commercial twice the length would have spelt 'aneurism' for me. The long hours started to manifest themselves on our weary faces. Nigel's tummy growled and I clawed at my mosquito bites.

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The day was pleasantly cloudy, but the lights on set made everyone sweat buckets. My main issue was my upper lip, which leaked like a faulty tap even with the makeup artists coming over every 5 minutes to dab us off. A fan would be switched on between takes to cool us off, and I was strongly advised to stand in front of it whenever time allowed it. It was during one of these little fan breaks when I felt compelled to pull a super kawaii moment.

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At one take, the director suggested that Farez gaze at me and that I also "get lost in his eyes and his love". Getting lost in his love required acting. Getting lost in his eyes didn't. They were big. And bright. And a gorgeous labryinth of hazel.

We shot take after take of several versions of the storyline; I recall the final count going over 35. The shoot lasted until 1pm. Thirteen seconds to be selected from 5 hours' worth of film... You seriously gotta hand it to post-production.

Crew watching the playback
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After the park shoot, lunch was served and Farez and the crew and to rush off to the production house to shoot the final scene. While the equipment was being disassembled, word got round that it was my first-ever tv commercial experience, and I was congratulated by the crew on a job well done. I cocked my head, put my hands to my heart and let out a sheepish "Hontoohh?"

I could get used to this.

Ferlina and clothing guy Darren
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Retard, Nigel, Farez
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Crew and official ad mascot
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Turning Japanese? I really ting so.

I got a call the other day from a talent agency informing me of a casting call for a "soccer girl - someone who looks rugged but still looks presentable."

Brilliant! I've always wanted to portray a soccer chick, especially since I was perpetually delegated to the defense position by the boys back in high school. Any sight of the ball coming my way was treated like a gift from the gods. Now here was my chance to really show the grit that I was truly made of, and on national telly too!

I psyched myself up for a physically demanding audition, and entered the casting studio with my tomboy strut and flames flickering from my eyes.

The advertising woman welcomes me and turns to her colleague.

"Hey Harry, what should we cast her as?"

A guy leans over from his desk, casts a long hard look at me and loudly chirps:

"Japanese girl!"

Good freakin' lord.

Disappointed and spiteful, I did my most disgusting impression of Card Captor Sakura, complete with shameless American voice dubbing.

I got a call a few days later from the talent agency.

"The clients love you! You're 99% confirmed for the job. However, the only reason why you're not 100% confirmed is because they have a problem with, uh, your eyebags..."

(How do you respond to something that makes you feel like gold and garbage at the same time?)

"...So before the rehearsal with your other cast members, make sure you get LOADS of sleep, put stuff on your eyes... whatever it takes to get rid of those bags, because if they still show up on the camera after makeup, they'll choose someone else."

Wow. Now that's pretty serious shite. Not only do I have the jaw of someone who's just stepped off the set of The Contender, but I've now got the eyes to match.

I didn't do jack to my peepers, neither did I increase my sleeping hours. I went for the rehearsal, tee-heed excessively, flashed numerous V-signs and twirled around screeching "Moon Cosmic Power, Make Uuuuuup!"

I received a call the next day telling me that I snagged the part.

My ad shoot for TM Net is tomorrow at 6am. I've been briefly informed that the ad will be one in a series of five to be aired heavily during the commercial breaks of Malaysian Idol starting in late May.

It's already been tough all these years evading the curiosity surrounding my ethnicity, and now my days of being perceived as a Malaysian have never looked bleaker.

Serves me right, I suppose.

*Cue unnaturally large sweat drop forming next to forehead*

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Show me no money

This tooth right at the back of my mouth is taking its own sweet time to grow out at my expense. Today it feels like someone has delivered a clean upper cut to the right of my jaw. I can't bite, yawn or even smile without grimacing first. Quite pitiful, really.

For lunch, I tried out a foodcourt which I have never ventured to before but my colleagues have raved about. It's at the lower ground of the shopping mall. Tucked away within the shadows of the carpark, it's a secret gastronomic haven targeted at blue collar workers and broke executives.

I walked around the stalls. Considering it was post-lunchtime, there wasn't much variety left but I've always been an advocate of no-frills cuisine. After browsing around, I stopped at the very last stall, got a fried egg & 3 types of veggies on my plate and asked the vendor for the price.


"Excuse me?"


More than half of what I usually pay for my lunch? Ridiculous. I passed him my RM10 note in hopes that I had misheard. Alas, he plonked back into my grubby hand RM8.50.

To further provoke my state of befuddlement, he mistakenly gave me an extra 10 sen coin.

As I munched on my cauliflower drenched in palm oil, I stared at the change I left next to my plate, blinked hard and opened my eyes again. Yep, still RM8.60.

One ringgit and fifty sen. Forty US cents. Twenty one UK pence. Eleven Dominican Republic pesos. Anyhow you say it, I was performing daylight robbery.

I finished my lunch and walked over to the stall to give the vendor back the additional 10 sen. I walked a few steps away and felt thoroughly stupid, so I whirled around and gave the vendor an extra ringgit.

"The food is good," I frankly told him. He gave me a puzzled smile and nodded.

By this time I was pretty convinced that this homie had never heard of the word 'profit'.