"I love your "Malaysian Accent", can you say it again?"
"几够力一下有没有"

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Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Word of the day: "stylite"

Last weekend was spent the way the special occasion was supposed to be spent - primarily alone, consuming my neurons in an igneous ardour of writing, reading, and computer-game-playing. Finally completed Mechwarrior: Mercenaries; what is it about 100-tonne walking tanks that so stimulates the male imagination?:) Was actually inspired enough to dig up old Battletech sourcebooks and whip through a few hours of the original PC game Crescent Hawks' Inception - ah. I remember when, in primary school, before Ral Partha took over the model franchise and FASA becamse another Microsoft whore, there was only one guy in my class who actually had Battletech figurines. It was incredibly fun moving those classic mechs: Commando, Locust, Chameleon, Phoenix Hawk - through their paces. Nowadays everyone knows what a Mad Cat is, but who remembers the good old Catapult? In any case - yeah. DFA!

Christ almighty, more example of human degeneracy.

*raves* No matter how much sick, whack, twisted, shit there is out there, no matter how many times I tell myself that nothing on the Net fazes me anymore, not the scheisse videos, the refluxophiliacs, the Satanic pedophilia, the incest stories, tentacle-fucking anime, but THIS -!

Someday I will re-post the link to the Smurf porn websites, and, if I can find it again, Enid Blyton gay fanfiction. The latter is not for the faint of heart, because it involves multiple-partners (most of Toyland), inter-racial (golliwog + everyone else), and prosthetics (Noddy is *wooden* for good reason..).

Books read this weekend

Mao Zedong's little treatise on guerilla warfare written during the Yenan period. (an odd buy I had forgotten all about in Australia and excavated only a month ago). Translated by Edgar Snow, of course - for that appropriately sycopanthic effect.
Stephen King - Different Seasons (purely for trashy uplift)
Scott Adams - God's Debris (for some reason it was listed in Borders under "metaphysical studies")
Elizabeth Wurtzel - Prozac Nation (believe it or not, never read cover-to-cover prior to this date)
JS MiIl - On Liberty (again, first time cover-to-cover, as opposed to cribbing notes and passages for essay/hao lian purposes)

*studies the above list* Hm. Trashy, light reads, mostly. These days I have very little appetite for embarrassingly difficult books - which is why even, to my horror, I find myself shying away from a new Umberto Eco or even the temptation to finish up Crying of Lot 49. It's easier to read the likes of Nick Hornby or Don DeLillo or Zadie Smith - it's the way they feed you pop profundity in pithy one-liners which can be uploaded for cerebral processing at whim.

Bipolar manifestation of quotes:

At 11:15am on Saturday, was simultaneously reading and exulting over Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption:

"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope"

Half an hour later, was reading:

"I had invented the monster and now it was overtaking me. This was what I'd come to. This was what I'd be for the rest of my life. Things were bad now and would get worse later. They would. I had not heard the word depression yet, and would not for some time after that, but I felt something very wrong going on. I felt that I was wrong - my hair was wrong, my face was wrong, my personality was wrong - my God, my choice of flavors at the Haagan Dazs shop after school was wrong! How could I walk around with such pasty white skin, such dark, doleful eyes, such straight anemic hair, such round hips and such a small clinched waist? How could I let anybody see me this way? How could I expose other people to my person, to this bane to the world? I was one big mistake.

I did not, you see, want to kill myself. Not at that time, anyway. But I wanted to know that if need be, if the desperation got so terribly bad, I could inflict harm on my body. And I could. Knowing this gave me a sense of peace and power, so I started cutting up my legs all the time. Hiding the scars from my mother became a sport of its own. I collected razor blades, I bought a Swiss Army knife, I became fascinated with different kinds of sharp edges and the different cutting sensations they produced. I tried out different shapes - squares, triangles, pentagons, even an awkwardly carved heart, with a stab wound at its center, wanting to see if it hurt the way a real broken heart could hurt. I was amazed and pleased to find that it didn't."

Right.

Had another horrible lunch/encounter with paterfamilias. But parental whinging is one of the most common - and banally - archetypical content of blogs. But so is giving away vague hints and then refusing to go into further detail out of some coy discretion! Argh! A Hobson's Choice of bad taste in blogging!

Aunts on the distaff side gave me a bottle of cheap vodka as a birthday present, along with a hipflask of some really weird 60%-alc. content Chinese liquor. (Note: My primary drinking partners here in Malaysia are my maternal aunts and uncles; there's some primogenital context which would be too sian to relate.) Took a couple of my cousins from up north for a little libation - although in hindsight pouring that much vodka into a 13 year old may not have been the wisest course of action. Washed down these spirits with a good deal of Ribena, and had a generally merry time, for a change (as opposed to the usual fits of melancholic stupor my friends accuse me of falling into when drinking). Much exchange of personal ribaldries.

Sunday continued the gameplaying binge - am halfway through Mafia; completed Medieval: Total War; and finished off Europa Universalis 2 and aforementioned MW: Mercenaries. Ah, the joys of unrestrained gaming, sans food, sans the usual depressive fits, sans contact with the outside world... I really must devote less time to the Internet, and more time to single-player gaming affairs. The computer; the books - now those are faithful friends. They talk to you when you need them. They fill the mind with pretty images and concepts and ideas that dance in your head and set your mind aflame with imagination. And they can be put away, but never too far; so when one lies in bed, one can be transported, as if by anagoge, to a world, a piece of Utopia inside your frontal lobe where no one and nothing outside can touch you....

If only the computer at work had a better graphics card... and a soundcard, for that matter.

Mafia's soundtrack consists mainly of Django Reinhardt's swingy piano jazz pieces! Freaking cool!

Other than that, it's a great game - although the superficial comparisons to Grand Theft Auto 3 will no doubt be made; the only thing both games really have in common is that you drive through a 3d city in pursuit of criminal objectives and can steal cars. In terms of gameplay, linearity, even atmosphere, they're worlds apart. But I have to confess, there is something.. oddly appealing, for a while, in jacking a Cadillac V16.. oops, I meant a Lassiter V16 (in a fit of licensing paranoia, the cars are all genuine 30s models, but the names have been changed) The Bugatti / Carozella is particularly striking, and the cars all have lovely reflective surfaces. Somehow though, I need a rocket launcher or a chaingun; the tommy gun doesn't quite cut it. And the storyline, despite being a straight lift of every Scorsese or Coppola movie ever made, still shines through
because gangster rise-and-fall type storylines are immortal:)

In comparision with Need For Speed, though, the physics engine does mean that racing two Ford Model Ts doesn't have the.. visceral kick.. of racing two Diablos.

After watching Road to Perdition, the country drive bits in a Chevrolet Six really hit home though:)

Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries left me oddly unsatisfied; although it's a good tie-in with the conclusion of the FedComm Civil War as chronicled in the various Twilight of the Clans and Mechwarrior novels which affocionados of the Battletech Universe will have been following for the last.. six or seven years now. (Final novel - Endgame - chronicling the Pyrrhic victory of Hans Steiner-Davion was released just in August). MW4: Mercs has three endings that all tie in very elegantly to various events of the above novel; although I have to admit that these tie-ins are a bit 'insider' - either you get their relevance and nod, or you won't.

But when your lance of Atlases and Templars are blowing apart a few enemy Daishis, who cares??? ER-PPC effects rule! But somehow.. there's a lot of wasted potential - the graphics engine has been updated but slightly and is showing its age; the missions aren't really that original or inspiring; the storyline doesn't have the very tight, focused premise that Mechwarrior 3 did (along with the brilliant idea of having briefings WHILE the map was loading), and , the perennial bane of Mechwarrior - the assault/heavy mechs will wipe out anything in their path (although they did at least fix the horrible "laser snipe leg" issue with MW3)

What someone once quoted to me: "Come in, and try not to ruin everything by being you."

From the same source:

"OK, we all have these terrible stories to get over, but.."
"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad... but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good."

Movies watched:

8 Mile - Hm. I'm an Eminem fan, for all the wrong reasons; because his pithy, commodified, marketable, paradoxically anti-social and raw and anti-pop and yet utterly mainstream at the same time - this kind of celebrity bigotry is fun to indulge in, particularly when it masquerades behind the cover of irony. "yeah, it's all a joke, we all get it, elton john hugged slim shady at the grammys". But in the movie, the nearly incomprehensible battle rap sequences speak a lot about a way of life, a way of thinking and of directing working-class anger that is the true root of the gangsta school and mindset. The glamorous money-hos-and-bitchas homeboy attitudes we see from the big success stories like 2Pac and Snoop Doggy only make reference to these roots; while coasting on platinum-sales figures from the kinds of teenyboppers and middle-class adolescents they're supposed to be gunning down in drive-bys.

Nonetheless, if you watch 8 Mile, you should watch it purely because in it, Eminem doesn't really have to act - he just has to be himself, with his pissed off smouldering glare and his abusive boozehound mother and all.. and because Detroit seriously resembles Hell on Earth in this movie.

Double Vision - hallucinogens, Dadaist grotesqueries, Tony Leung, and David Morse, the latter clearly slumming it. The double-iris effect is pretty damned eerie though.

Harry Potter part deux - Erm. As always, the book was better. (and that's not saying much.) I must confess, it's certainly getting grimmer - not entirely convinced that children should be treated to scene with a ghost who, as an abused girl sought refuge in a toilet, was slain by supernatural forces, and was condemned to an eternity as a spirit infesting septic tanks and toilet plumbing. Not to mention the line: "I was sitting on the toilet as usual, thinking about death." (sic)

However, the books are progressively getting darker, and so the movies should. I believe as of Harry Potter IV, he had lost a finger in ritualistic sacrifice, become an unwilling participant in the resurrection of demonic forces, *and* is developing into adolescence. Horror of horrors.

Didn't have time to watch Knockaround Guys. Pity.

Raging Bull - Considered by many critics to be one of the greatest films of the 80s; and most De Niro affocionados rank this with Taxi Driver as his greatest performances. Now, I can't really describe this show - but I can tell you that, as a male, the sheer.. psychological insecurity and fragility that manifests in explosive, shocking violence is nothing new, as a plotline. But in the context of the Italian ghetto in New York; in the context of a twisted relationship with a Lolita-like figure whom De Niro feels too abused to deserve and yet unable to love except in the most brutal of ways.... ah well. Enough pompous movie-critic talk. Go watch it. Go watch how De Niro lost 20 pounds in sheer method acting and reportedly went boxing in Bronx rooms to prepare for the role. (The real-life character on which this movie is based, who actually trained De Niro personally, has stated that De Niro was one of the best middleweight boxers he'd ever known).

Must.. finish.. Morrowind! And now with Tribunal installed.. the gaming... power.. overwhelming!

Sigh. On one hand, there's responsibility, and on the other, there's obligation. Nevermind. Shall continue fixated pursuit and working my ass off in order to secure a decent passive income in 5 years' time. (passive = no work.) Impossible? Certum est quia impossibile est. Besides, as Pascal would have it, what have I to lose?

Or, in the words of Adam Young - "Come and see."

Gabriel:

a) Like most things in Malaysia; there are halal segregations. Obviously the luncheon meat served at a rest stop would not be halal, but the curry chicken would be. And just what is it with you and the whole halal issue anyway?

b) Backpackers taking the bus.

c) I said I didn't smuggle pirated stuff in for *other people*. I do so for my own purposes. (In this case, the reason was ridiculously contrived - I had bought the CDs the afternoon at work; and didn't want to leave them in the office over the weekend, so I had to bring them to Singapore and back.

d) I agree with you that it's ridiculous that a half-glimpsed auroelae of some celebrity on an FHM cover is legal, while the fully revealed thing isn't. But as a matter of note, a scantily-clad person is often more sexually titillating than the ecdysiastic full monty.

e) I use a very few freeware applications, like IrfanView and Properties Plus, but generally, I'm not an open source proponent per se. I understand some of their intellectual arguments, and rational advantages, but the ratio ultima regum is this - most games are written for Windows. I'm not going to wait until Freelancer for Linux gets released.

f) The only reason the bloody 3d graphics in AOM look "good" is because 2d sprites that size are so bloody small and blurry anyway (even on higher resolutions) that who the hell can tell the difference? Not like we're talking Chaos Gate or Fallout sprites here (the latter having some of the best sprite death animations - blow the head off a Super Mutant and you'll see..)

g) I maintain my theory that Satan's Pariahs Beasts Terrorists is a secret code for something more ominous. A means of communication between conspiracies? Stranger things have happened.

h) What were you expecting? Love?

i) Maybe people are just tired of reading the rants. Much better that way, don't you think? More comfortable to know that no one is reading and/or absorbing what you say - you can be less restrained in your blogging. No longer an audience to pander to.

Onto interrupted chronological rant from last week. Organization? PAH!

Friday

Woke up the next morning, surrounded by usual feeling of disorientation. It was 11:30am; my scheduled interview was at 2:30 in Capital Tower on Robinson Road (the receptionist's helpful words were: "Just tell the taxi driver to look for the revolving balls opposite the CPF building.."). After some prolonged internal agonizing, I prevailed upon my friend's maid to borrow an iron - the aforementioned sling bag had proven to be of no use in preserving the shirt from the ravages of rumpling. My host and friend had gone out to camp much earlier in the morning; one of the very few people I know actually comfortable enough to let someone stay in their house after they and their parents have gone out for the day.

Did some hasty print-out of the actual address, floor, and person-designate-to-meet from hotmail (ah, the few brief moments of joy at being on broadband again). My friend's computer is on the seriously creaky, over-used, underoptimised precipice - the system tray contains enough programs to occupy two-thirds the width of the monitor. A quick visit to Run -> MSCONFIG increased start-up times by at least 350%. Geekdom has its benefits!

Also spent an hour or so doing last minute research. Now, I'm not entirely sure just how much value being able to spew relevant bullshit about an organization at an interview is. However, I've been assured by people in the know that many top-tier investment banking firms look favourably on candidates who take the time to thoroughly spew statistics and make favourable commentary of their latest mega-deals. So I did the same thing - after all, I figured the competition would be heavy, and every little edge helps.

Plan was to take a cab to Raffles Place, bank in a cheque for my mother at approx 1:45pm (fast cheque deposit - no queuing), then head on down for my interview. Usually, my trips to Singapore are punctuated with errands for my family. Headed out of the house, with sling bag (after all, at the time, I had no idea where to stay that night, as per standard modus operandi)

When I reached the Raffles Place area, I was caught by the instant smell of yuppiedom. The women in their Chanel, power suits, decent hemlines, and high but not stiletto heels. The styles range from the homely-receptionist, to the executive-bitch-from-hell, to the (horribly common) "I'm not quite over adolescence yet but I have to make some genuflection towards workplace etiquette"(characterised by shoulder-revealing, slightly more garish type of clothing, and either pants a shade too tight or skirts a tad too high. Occasionally an Ally Macbeal-esque scarf/ribbon around the neck. Multiple ear-piercings. That sort of thing.) The men were dressed the far more uniformly boring shirts and ties; with a few polo shirts scattered amidst the population. Some guys did display remarkable boldness of character; I spotted more than one Looney Tunes tie.

Basking amidst the flux of middle-class professionaldom, I suddenly had a horrible realisation that there was an vacuum in my pocket where the envelope containing parents' cheque should've been. After confirming irrevocably that, once again, I was a walking waste of oxygen, I sat down in a dull, vacant haze in front of OCBC for about 20 minutes smoking restlessly and watching people pass by with their happy, happy lives. Fortunately, someone I was talking to on the phone suggested the rational solution - "don't freak out, call Comfort Taxi Lost & Found to see if you dropped it in the cab, and if that fails, go back to the place you took the cab from."

Sweet pragmatism! If only I was capable of summoning it more often in extremis. Comfort Taxi L&F reassured me that they would get back to me after assigning me a report number.

Mustered sufficient coherence to proceed to interview. The building was a gargantuan edifice to the free flow of global capital; I was struck by how much the interior matched precisely how I always imagined Howard Roark's designs to be like. It's all the brutal, neoliberal economic certainty; the imposing, faux-Gothic sweep of rigid, efficient, corporate aesthetic. "Socialist realism", I think it's called. And there's a lot of the kind of marble/granite/bronze corporate art that's just waiting for a Tyler Durden to smash over.
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