Friday, September 30, 2005


I was walking to work last week and I passed the flashy signboard a few blocks down from my office. A few months after its placement, it finally got the better of my curiosity that day. I went up to the first floor and checked out the plastic surgery centre.

It wasn't because I think that my cheeks need to be deflated, or that I want to literally make mountains out of molehills (if you get my drift); rather, I was being no more than a harmless nosey parker or despicable snitch, depending on one’s outlook.

I took one floor up and was welcomed into an open office space with earth-toned walls and swanky white minimalist furniture. There was a sweet-ish clinical smell to the chilly air.

“How may I heptchoo?” asked the cherub-faced girl at the front desk.

Think fast, retard.

“Uuuuuuuuuhhh… I was wondering if you… do… um… mole removal?”

“Oh, no we don’t sorry.”

“So you do more of like, uh, cosmetic stuff… like… surgery?”

“Yyyyes, that’s right.”

“Oh. Okay. Thank you. I’m gonna take a business card here if that’s ok.”

I left with the sense of disenchantment looming over my head. As I toddled downstairs with the orange card in my hand, I flipped it to the back and read the words in fine print:

We Serve: Whitening + ComplexionPeelingTreatment + Slimming + DoubleEyelid + Eyebag + Rhinoplasty + WrinkleRemoval + FaceReshaping + Lipos-


Hey, that could work.

I strode back into the centre and made myself look convincing with a less-than-obvious squint.

“Hi again. Erm, I was checking out your card, and it says you do Eyebags…”

“Yes we do! Would you like to make an appointment with our consultant?”

“Yeah, ok… How’s lunchtime today?”

* * *

I came back at noon, where the front desk girl served me warm water in a teacup while I filled up a client registration form in the waiting area. A few minutes passed and I was lead into a small room with an elegant Mac flatscreen monitor flanking a wooden table.

The consultant was pretty; as she spoke to me I began to wonder if she herself was an endorsement to the company. She examined my face and said my left eyebag was in bad shape. She wasted little time in laying down the prices and procedure. It was RM1800 for non-surgical lipids removal, RM2800 for minor surgery and RM3800 for serious cases brought on by age. She suggested the middle price, since the non-surgical results wouldn’t be as effective as it doesn’t remove the excess skin. The surgery would last two hours under local anasethetic.

She drew a short arc.

“This is your bottom eyelid.”

She decorated it with miniature crosses.

“We will sew you up just at the lashline, so it won’t look very obvious...”

“Oh! Wow, okay. That’s great.”

Underneath the table, my fingertips burrowed into my thighs.

The swelling would subside within days, and the stitches would be removed in a week. In the meantime, it was strongly suggested that I don’t touch or rub my eyes. Fine, that’s obvious. And then she said I couldn’t get my eyes in contact with water. Fair enough.

And then she said I would have to abstain from crying.

A sensitive baby like me would suffer less trauma careening downhill in a car with faulty brakes.

She turned to the flat screen monitor and showed me before-and-after pictures of previous patients. The ‘after’ pictures were impressive, albeit a bit too perfect. The total absence of any sign of bags or dark circles made the faces look almost doll-like.

I confessed to her that I’d be doing it behind my parents’ back so I would have had possible trouble in the moolah area. The consultant scanned through the client form and noted that I was a ‘Student’. *Cue conniving snicker* She assured me that I could pay in installments if I wasn’t able to pay straight up. In the meantime, I would have to stay clear from college and parents (“You can tell them you’ll be sleeping over your friend’s house!”) at least for a few days until the swelling subsides.

I told the consultant nervously that I would still need some time to seriously consider the procedure, which she was completely cool with. She said she gets a lot of patients who are in my age range, especially with regards to double eyelid surgery.

I exited the centre feeling no different about my body image than before I entered it. In fact, what was supposed to be a pointless mission left me feeling more grateful for the facial features which my parents use as an excuse to give me lectures about clubbing too much. Whatever my face has grown into has become part and parcel of my character. So what if I look haggard. It’s proof of my life.

I'm happy with how I look. I however tend to wonder how different my perceptions would be if my appearance wasn't as socially acceptable: if my face wasn't as symmetrical, if my body wasn't as proportionate, if my physical flaws were more outstanding. If I was shorter. If I was bigger boned. If my ears stuck out. If my teeth weren’t aligned. If I had chubby ankles. If I had a crooked back. Would I think any differently of myself if I was born a different body?

Sometimes I despise how I take myself for granted.

Friday, September 23, 2005

8TV Dramedy (Episode 7)

For those who missed out on it on the 8TV Quickie last month, here is the seventh and final episode of 'A Better Change'.

The guy who has been playing my father all this while was John, an 8TV intern who is actually 3 years younger than me.

The food in the proposal scene looked darn scrumptious but it was stone cold; it was ordered earlier from a nearby western food stall. It was the very last scene shot on the first day. It was close to midnight and everyone was so unbelievably high on fatigue, even Peter the Creative Director was getting told off for goofing around. Consequently this was the longest shoot, but ironically the most delectable.

I doubt I would garner much debate when I say that the marriage shots are tacky enough for me to jump into a certain music video of a certain defunct British pop group.

The baggy shirt I'm wearing in the bed scene belonged to Peter. It smelt clean. Enough.

For those who have been following the show, thanks loads for your support. I hope you had fun watching it just as I did filming it and sharing it with you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

8TV Dramedy (Episode 6)

For those who missed out on it on the 8TV Quickie last month, here is the sixth of seven teeny weeny episodes of 'A Better Change'. Each file will be around 20MB in MPEG format and lasts a little less than two minutes.

This was one of the tougher episodes to film.

My first attempt at all-out doodling - in school I just painted my fingernails with highlighter - makes its TV debut.

For the film production scene, the director was giving me ideas on what to say to look like I was encouraging my subordinate, but at one part I didn't notice that he was talking to me and carried on parroting his expressions.

"That was a good shot!"
"That was a good shot!"
"No, I mean that was great!"
"No! I mean that was GREAT!"
"D!!! I'm talking to YOU!"

We are 'editing' an old episode of Malaysian Idol.

The sound room and presentation scenes required a lot of improvisation on my part. I only needed to look convincing, but I was still very self conscious about spewing out gibberish, even when I was assured that my voice-over will be the only thing playing in the final product.

The movie premiere scene was the first one shot on the second day. Still drained from the day before, everyone was snoozing around between takes.

At the part where I'm sitting down, I don't know if it's just me, but right at the bit where I sit down in the cinema, the makeup makes me look like a splitting image of the chick who co-hosts the 8TV Quickie itself.

I wish I knew how to updo my hair like that myself. I really liked it.

Check out Episode 5 here.

For a recap on this shoot and the original TV commercial, scoot over to this entry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Morning spritz

I take the car out this morning to get to the LRT train station, with my mom scuttling out of the house soon after to accompany me.

My nose tickles as I reverse out, and I lower my head to let out a forceful sneeze. I open my eyes and see a bit of transclucent goop clinging on to the front of my blouse. With no tissue around in the car, I grimace as I smash the phlegm between my fingers until it dissolves. I'm appalled at my grossness but no doubt relieved that I catch sight of it before getting to the office.

Mom gets into the car and we shoot off, listening to The Black-Eyed Peas chanting "No-No-No-No" to something or other. I get to the usual drop-off point and share a few more words with my mom before stepping out. Mom leans over, ready to take over the driver's seat, and her eyes freeze at my lower face. She lifts a forefinger and takes a scrape at my upper lip.

"What is that? You didn't wash your face properly. Looks like porridge..."

"Uh, Ma... I don't think you should have done that."

"Huh... Why?"

I gravely tell her the reason and simultaneously bolt out of the car as she breaks into violent convulsions reinforced with the choicest string of vocabulary.


I can't help but look back at the deranged woman and chuckle as I cross the street.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Last 'Eksyen' Hero

Last weekend saw me going for meetings for two movies which I'll be doing in the coming months.

* * *

The first movie I'll be doing is called 'The Flowers Beneath My Skin', directed by relative newcomer Kit Ong. It's a twisted love anthology of sorts; the theme running throughout will be the extreme sacrifices people make in the name of love. It will predominantly be shot in Chinese (2 dialects), my story will be the only one in English. I play a lesbian with a fetish for ancient Chinese foot binding.

A sweet petite lady called Elaine will play my girlfriend. We are using her friend's condominium as the location for the shoot. It's been newly renovated solely for rental purposes. Kit has a penchant for incorporating a lot of symbolic meaning in his films, so he loves how scant the place still looks. There will be no script (dialogue will be ad hoc), and no additional lighting will be used apart from what the apartment already provides. The film will be shot entirely in black and white on High Definition Video. Kit could have invested in another car for the amount he spent on the new camcorder.

Shooting will commence this coming Friday, and will carry on every weekend til November.

We did a test shoot on location on Saturday.

On the way to the condo

Elaine was supervising a painter when we arrived.

View from the window

L-R: Vincent 1 (Director of Photography), Kit, Jill and Jien (playing lovers for one of the stories)

Elaine, Vincent 2 (actor), Kit and Vincent checking out Kit's new toy

Rosheen plays a kindred spirit in the film.

Our shooting location from the outside

Kit treated us to a hearty lunch afterwards.

Kit has high hopes of premiering 'The Flowers Beneath My Skin' at a Singaporean film festival early next year. He'll be using the funds generated from it to shoot his next baby, a film based on the aftermath of last year's tsunami disaster.

* * *

The second feature-length digital film which I'll be doing has been in preparatory stages since Summer 2004, so it's been keeping me in a buzz for quite a while already. The cast and crew are awaiting the return of the director & scriptwriter, Arivind Abraham, from his studies in England. The movie's working title, 'Never Let Go', has been recently reconsidered and the new one is yet to be confirmed.

The Malaysian coming-of-age story will focus on five friends making life choices and finding their identity in a multicutural society. I portray Sze Huey, a girl who faces the trials and tribulations of being in an inter-racial relationship.

Since the cast was confirmed last year, Arivind has been keeping in close contact with all of us to guide the development of our characters. In the meantime, Bahir the producer has been helping us out on a more geographically accessible basis whenever issues surface.

My fellow castmates - Azimy, Angeline, Derek and Jayaram - are fantastic people; our chemistry is close to explosive. We haven't been able to meet up together as often as expected due to conflicting work schedules, but after our weekend meeting, we have decided to gang up at Azimy's house for weekly informal script run-throughs before the actual rehearsals begin in December. Shooting starts in January next year, with a tentative Spring 2006 release.

The cast and crew had a phone conference with Arivind on Friday.

Angeline plays Tehmina

Zimy plays Bahir

Derek plays Tsu Yang

Jayaram plays Ravin and court jester.

Syaril is Director of Photography

Derek chats with Arivind, Angeline tucks into her nasi lemak, Bahir hovers around

Jay, a big kahuna?...

...Now that's funny.

Fwens Fowever

The two movies will be maiden productions for their respective film companies. Everyone involved is new to the business of creating something for the silver screen. The things that are driving both projects are enthusiasm, anticipation, and the craving to make a statement through art, as boldy and innovatively as we can.

It hasn't hit me that I'm going to be an extremely busy kid from here on in. The real work has barely started, yet the "Don't forget me when you're famous" quote is already a standard remark amongst friends. I don't see myself as lucky, neither do I see myself as an avid go-getter nor bigshot celebrity in the making. My hobby just happens to involve a lot of public exposure, and I'm fortunate enough to meet people who can help me with what I like doing. I'll still pick up and eat Doritos which I've dropped on the floor, I'll still walk around in my notoriously fragrant New Balance sneakers, I'll still pledge loyalty to those who have courageously fought the temptation to cut friendship ties immediately after witnessing my acts of mass mental destruction.

Heck, being a retard has gotten me this far. Why stop now?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

8tv Dramedy (Episode 5)

Note: No more worries about expired links. A wonderful blogger, mob1900, has offered to host all of the Dramedy files from his server. Much gratitude to him!

For those who missed out on it on the 8TV Quickie last month, here is the fifth of seven teeny weeny episodes of 'A Better Change'. Each file will be around 20MB in MPEG format and lasts a little less than two minutes.

Mark, the guy who played 'Steven' in the original commercial, was not involved in the Dramedy production. He was replaced by a make-do body double, Peter the creative director.

The picture of Steven and Karina was never taken - he was superimposed into an old photograph. Ah, the marvels of graphic manipulation.

The trophies belong to 8TV; what the awards were for, I can't recall, but I reckon one of them belonged to Peter for Cornball Employee of the Year. For the flirting scene, bad pickup lines were rolling off his tongue as though he held a goddarn degree in it. I was holding a refrigerated slice of kaya-banana pizza, an alleged leftover from the night before. Putting my life out on the line, I got greedy after the scene and ate it.

Check out Episode 4 here.

For a recap on this shoot and the original TV commercial, scoot over to this entry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

8TV Dramedy (Episode 4)

For those who missed out on it on the 8TV Quickie last month, here is the fourth of seven teeny weeny episodes of 'A Better Change'. Each file will be around 20MB in MPEG format and lasts a little less than two minutes.

The scenes in this episode were the first ones to be shot on the first day, since it would be few of the only times where my natural hair would be styled instead of wearing wigs.

My roommate was played by Sarah, a brilliant intern at 8TV who wrote the script which you hear me, or rather Karina, narrating. She helped me heaps with the characterization, wardrobe co-ordination and moral support when the hours grew long.

My 'mother' was a last-minute addition, with one of the crew running around the building looking for someone who'd be available and willing to don old maid clothes and have white gunk put in her hair. We all gave props to her for being so sporting.

I ate a LOT of sandwiches for the phonecall scene. It was ham, but they were made specially for me, and I felt bad for not taking it. As much as I practice vegetarianism, I'm also very anti-wastage. I suppose it was just as well that I didn't have breakfast either.

Ursula aka Amakanchi, my good friend of mine from Swizterland, makes a 'special appearance' in one of the photographs hung on the wall behind me (third one from the left). We're wearing the same shade of blue and eating ice cream together on a night out in town circa 2002.

Check out Episode 3 here.

For a recap on this shoot and the original TV commercial, scoot over to this entry.

Friday, September 09, 2005

8TV Dramedy (Episode 3)

For those who missed out on it on the 8TV Quickie last month, here is the third of seven teeny weeny episodes of 'A Better Change'. Each file will be around 20MB in MPEG format and lasts a little less than two minutes.

The facial expression shots were unplanned, and shot in the final hour of production to serve as back-up material for the series. In the end, I was told that they came in a lot of handy so more shots were used than expected, and that we should have taken more expressions. After watching this episode, notably between 00:20 and 00:28 seconds, I couldn't have agreed more.

The computer/study room scenes in both Episodes 2 and 3 were the second-last scenes shot on the first day; it was getting tough to focus as it was touching 11pm and we had been shooting since 6am.

Click here for Episode 2.

For a recap on this shoot and the original TV commercial, scoot over to this entry.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

8TV Dramedy (Episode 2)

For those who missed out on it on the 8TV Quickie last month, here is the second of seven teeny weeny episodes of 'A Better Change'. Each file will be around 20MB in MPEG format and lasts a little less than two minutes.

The 'warehouse' scenes were taken in the wardrobe room of TV3, where garments were kept for TV presenters, cultural dancers and various onscreen characters; it was a textile treasure trove. In the shot where I'm taking stock count, hiding in the corner was a mysteriously gigantic roll of ancient-looking fur that caused a psychosomatic asthma attack.

The commuting shots was the only time the shoot was taken outdoors. We ventured to the 1 Utama bus stop at the New Wing, and by pure luck, a shuttle bus from Kelana Jaya station had just arrived. The crew asked the driver if we could 'borrow' the bus for some shots. He merrily obliged, so long as we were done by the time he got back from his 10-minute break.

Click here for Episode 1.

For a recap on the shoot, scoot over to
this entry

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Berry Bad

I enter the office this morning and inhale an aroma brimming with impeccable sweetness. I quickly realize something amiss with the situation. I scamper to the pantry, swing open the tea cupboard and gasp at my bag of cereal drink, with the opening I made ever-so-delicately now ripped mercilessly into a gaping hole. I turn to the sink and see recognisable little bits of oats and wheat flakes clinging desperately on to the aluminium sides. I peer into the wastebasket and my heart lets out a bloodcurdling scream of anguish...

I see not one, not two, but FOUR empty sachets of MY berry-flavored cereal drink. That's one fifth of the bag gone. Just like that. Into four less deserving tummies.

I am aware of the communal organizational structure and I do love my co-workers, but love won't bring back my precious berry babies. Quaker don't come cheap damnit.

Monday, September 05, 2005

8TV Dramedy (Episode 1)

For those who missed out on it on the 8TV Quickie last month, here is the first of seven teeny weeny episodes of 'A Better Change'. Each file will be around 20MB in MPEG format and lasts a little less than two minutes.

The bedroom set was created in the 8TV CEO's office.

In all the diary-writing scenes, I had the script dictated to me. The last scene was one which I did not expect to be used. I literally acted upon the word 'jump'. I wasn't meant to do that, but I guess it was kept to go with the whole so-cute-it's-pathetic vibe.

My voice has been stretched out in some of the episodes, including this one. I don't sound as dim-witted in real life unless upon request.

For a recap on the shoot, scoot over to
this entry

Friday, September 02, 2005

Blowin' in the Wind

Yesterday I was having a nice lovely walk to Aunty Nat's Restaurant a few blocks down from my office. I was going to have lunch there with my friends Az and Shelley before they leave for Boston. The weather was bizarre but pleasant... to my right was fluffy white sky, to my left, a potentially menacing gray.

I reached the restaurant's block when the wind gushing toward me started getting a little forceful, my flimsy slacks billowing like sails in bad seas. Anything likened to a gale in the middle of town is rare, and I pushed myself against it with a raised brow and measured footsteps.

I got a call from Az when I was a few steps away from the restaurant, telling me that he and Shelley had just arrived and found themselves a table inside. I hung up slowly as I set a glassy-eyed gaze on a large transparent object falling several yards in front of me.


The thick sheet of glass toppled violently to the floor with a deafening shatter. I recoiled in elastic shock. Before I could tear away from my veil of stupor, I was hit by something else. It felt like sand brushing past my entire body. The wind persevered... and I blinked in a mental register.

Holy Crap.

I hurried inside to where Az and Shelley was, who were oblivious to the situation. They stood up to greet me with hugs, but I jerked my bony palms up in front of them like a hostage proving his innocence.

"Don't touch me, I'm covered in glass!"

"Huh, how did that happen? Are you bleeding, are you ok?"

"Yeah I'm okay I th-OUCHIE OUCH!"

I staggered to the nearest seat and plucked a splinter from my big toe. Shelley immediately turned into temporary medic and plugged the minor injury with her trustworthy packet of tissue. Luckily that was the last sight of blood on me, and Shelley helped whisk tiny shards of glass out of my hair.

At the end of the block was a car showroom; I'm assuming that the glass door that served as the entrance was left open or ajar when the strong winds suddenly swooped in and unhinged it somehow. It was pretty freaky, but Az and Shelley eased me down with warm conversation.

After we had lunch, stepped out of the restarant, dodged glass pieces strewn across the tiled pavement and passed officials inspecting the accident, I couldn't help but feel a tinge of regret about misplacing the business card of the guy who pitched that insurance package to me last week.