Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm moving!

It's about time it happened.  I'm starting anew at

And for all you loyal fans, a final one before I set this blog aside!

The Zimbabwe Dollar Watch:
How appropriate is it that I move to a new blog after Zimbabwe's currency had begun stabilising (somewhat)?  It's kinda hard to provide colour commentary these days when your subject of ridicule starts bucking up, putting on a suit and changing his image:

Pointless Fact of the Day:

You've all probably heard of the company, 3M, right?  Started out in mining and manufacturing, then Scotch tape, Post-Its and other assorted useful nonsense (oxymoron!)?  Well, they also make braces, drugs, golf gloves and even LCD TVs.  How's that for diversifying your business?

Zhen was here at 11:12 pm, 2 comment(s)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reports of my death...

...have been greatly exaggeratettedetted. It's been almost four months since I last updated, and so much have happened in the interim. Among others, I have finished my degree; all that's left is the graduation ceremony. So much to tell, so little time. Especially since I'll be on a plane to Bali in just nine hours from now. Catch you guys soon (all two of you who still read my blog; yes, you and you)!

The Zimbabwe Dollar Watch:
Ahh... Haven't done this in like, forever:

Okay, so the current exchange rate is approximately RM1 to $Z100. That's only an inflation of 63% over four months! Not bad, considering that estimates last year reached as high as 40 million percent inflation per annum. The power-sharing thing must be working out, somehow.

Pointless Fact of the Day:
When stopping at a traffic light (or stuck in a traffic jam), half of all people will brush their hair, pick their noses, pop their pimples, fluff their Garfields, etc. while the other half will be staring at the aforementioned first half in their rear-view mirrors. It's uncanny that some people consider the confines of their cars a private space.

Obviously, I'm a member of the first half. When else can a guy be bothered enough to get rid of booger?

Zhen was here at 12:20 am, 2 comment(s)

Friday, April 03, 2009

One dude, three concerts, all awesome

Concert No.1 - Jason Mraz

Those who have known me long enough would know that I'm a major fan of Jason Mraz. No, not the kind who only know the words to I'm Yours and have never heard his amazing live songs like The Dream Life of Rand McNally. The very first time I heard The Remedy, he was performing on David Letterman's show back in 2002 to promote his first album. To celebrate my 18th birthday in Singapore, I went to HMV and treated myself to a copy (the last one nonetheless) of his Live at the Eagles Ballroom album. I soon came to the conclusion that Mraz's live performances are a billion orders of magnitude awesomer than his studio recordings, and thus began months of fruitless proselytising to fellow ASEAN Scholars who dismissed Mraz because John Mayer was cooler (yeah yeah, Mayer has a couple of Grammies, but so does "Weird Al" Yankovic). Peh.

Fast forward four years and one studio album later, the great man himself decided to have a concert Malaysia (finally, since he's been to Singapore already). Desmond, Darren and I made the trip almost a month ago, on the 4th of March.

Us lying down on the floor like a bunch of hobos

Met Philip and his date friend from MPAC, Anna. The last time I saw her she was a hooker*

Mraz was pure pwnage. For someone with a pretty laid back demeanor, he works the crowd damn well, with none of those usual "Are you guys having fun?! I can't hear you!" routines. His backup was also superb, including three guys on brass (as opposed to in bras... man that would be weird). Toca Riviera was also there to kick ass, too. We did spend some time arguing over whether the guy on stage was in fact Toca or not, though.

Photos courtesy of Yin, who was standing at a different part of the stadium

This too

We adjourned to Hartamas (to send Desmond home to Mont Kiara) where we mamak-ed and listened to R&B/hip hop music on MTV, but not before waiting 20 minutes for the inconsiderate assholes who parked in front of us but did not have the decency to, after the show, drive their cars away immediately. Bastards.

Nevertheless, I still slept happy that night, dreaming of robbing liquor stores in Singapore.

*At least she was acting as one. It was the MPAC end-year production, and she got murdered by the end of the play.

Concert No. 2 - Sarah Brightman

On a fateful Friday afternoon, just two days after the Mraz concert, I received an SMS from a fellow choirmate, Boon Dat. Apparently, somebody was looking for a backup Tenor for Sarah Brightman's upcoming concert. Problem: 1) the concert was to be held the next evening, and 2) I was already booked to emcee the Monash Orientation Bash to be held the following day, in Port Dickson.

I decided that I've got nothing to lose, so I might as well enquire more about it. Boon Dat gave me the contact person's, well, contact number. Turned out that it was Doreen Tang, of (I only found out later through Googling because I'm ulu like that) M! the Opera and Tunku - The Musical fame. So, over the phone I made my sales pitch, telling her about my experience in a choir, my work ethic (I have one okay, especially when it comes to performing), etc. And then she started saying things that made me lose confidence in securing the thing.

"The scores haven't arrived... I'll probably only get them much later tonight, after the crew touches down in Malaysia."
"Well obviously you need musical background, because we're working with professionals here."
"I had to ask Boon Dat for help because the people we usually use are busy tomorrow night."

In all honesty, the reason I've managed to fake my way through tough choir music for so long (e.g. Lord of the Rings Symphony) is because I spend a lot of time practicing and memorising the music with the help of a notation program to play out the notes for me. I know close to nothing about music. I take forever to read notes written on a bass clef. The only instrument I play is blowing my own trumpet (in both senses of the phrase...).

Needless to say, confidence gone, I decided that it'd be better for me not to embarass myself and the others on stage by doing a shitty job within the ranks of professionals. Despite Doreen telling me that she'll keep me in mind, I later texted her Tracy's contact (one of the conductors at choir) telling her that Tracy would know people who were much more experienced and musically-educated than me.

So I went back to eating my lunch.

Two hours later, Doreen called me again, telling me that after much deliberation she decided to give me a shot despite my complete lack of experience.

Whot. Da. Freek. Ing. Hell?

I probably said thank you a million times after that. A chance to sing with the legendary Sarah Brightman on stage! I was ecstatic. I was elated. I was exuberant. I was baby Godzilla stomping on his first sandcastle. Sandcastle being Rachel, to whom I have already promised to emcee the aforementioned thing at Port Dickson... This was too good an opportunity to pass up!*

For the rest of the day though, I think might have been pretty annoying to Doreen (if I really was, sorry!). Not wanting to be a liability to the rest of the team, when night came I texted her several times as to the status of the scores; my plan was to drive over to her place immediately after she gets the scores so I can do my own notation and practice like crazy before our combined rehearsal the next morning at 10.30.

Then problem after problem popped up. Doreen did not get to meet with the crew and collect the scores, so the 10.30am rehearsal at her place got cancelled. Hence, the first time I met the other singers (there were only six of us) was at 2.30pm at the KL Convention Centre, but even then we did not get the scores to the show.

Finally, at 4.30pm, we met the conductor for the concert, and we were given the scores... literally minutes before soundcheck. To exarcebate matters, some songs had backup vocal parts but no scores were given so we had to improvise. Thankfully, the conductor was considerate enough to understand that it was through no fault of our own that we were put in such a situation. You see, handling backup singers was a low priority on their list of things to do because in Sarah's Asia tour, only the Malaysia and Indonesia stops do not follow the "giant stadium, lots of costumes, lots of dancers, lots of props" format. The search for backup singers only occurred at the eleventh hour as a result (I also found out later that Doreen only received a phone call about the gig the day before I contacted her).

All the chaos aside, we did manage to pull through relatively unscathed. Not only that, we got to listen to the absolutely mindboggling vocals of Sarah Brightman from up on stage, too... Twice; once during rehearsal, and another time during the real thing. The last note she hits in The Phantom of the Opera gets me every time I hear it on recordings, but listening to the song live and less than ten metres away from her gave me goosebumps throughout.

The only proof I actually sang with Sarah Brightman. Of course we're not allowed to bring cameras onstage! Plus I didn't wanna embarrass everyone by asking for a photo with her...
L-R: Zalina, Me, Doreen, Vincent, Chi Mei, Wen Chin

It took me a few days for the fact to sink in, that I was a backup singer for Sarah Brightman. And why not? It was a completely surreal experience, thanks to the series of highly unlikely events taking their course. Somebody's gotta pinch me, and I have Doreen and Boon Dat to thank for it.

*It turned out that the opportunity cost of a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with the great Ms. Brightman was the chance to mess around on a beach with a ton of freshmen, half of who were girls and a further quarter or so who frolicked around in bikinis.

Concert No. 3 - Buatan Malaysia

Let's start off with me apologising if I had been really pushy the past couple of weeks. We were trying really hard to push tickets as we were working with zero sponsorship for this production. Yeah, times are bad, but the performing arts industry probably got hit the worst. It's not like I get paid (not much anyway, usually just enough to pay for petrol) for doing these things.

Anyway, our debut concert as the Young Choral Academy Chamber Choir (what a mouthful) came and gone last weekend. We've only been practicing for three months, so it was a really rushed project. We definitely could've done better, but then again, we could've done much worse too; a mere week before the show there were still many loose ends to tie up. Fortunately, those loose ends got unfrayed and we made it through the weekend pretty well.

As I've mentioned before, the aim of Buatan Malaysia was to showcase the rich tapestry of our musical heritage, be it traditional music from Sabah, patriotic songs from the 60s, or popular music from P. Ramlee and Sheila Majid. However, I'd be wasting my breath trying to explain the music to those who didn't go, but suffice to say those who did can attest to how pleasantly surprised they were when they heard Malaysian music being sung that way (I'm looking at you, Izuan).

The crew, sans our director Melissa Teoh who was holding the camera

Our formation for One Thousand Million Smiles, originally sung by Sudirman at the Royal Albert Hall, London for the 1989 Asia Music Awards. He made the country proud by winning the whole damn thing

Jambatan Tamparuli, the aforementioned Sabahan song. We even messed around with traditional musical instruments

Melody, originally sung by Rynn Lim Yee Chong and featuring Sheila Majid, rearranged by longtime friend of YKLS, Ng Shyh Poh. That's me in the middle; this is the song where I have a rap solo

Including Melissa this time; three heads to my left and then one head down, that's her

All in all, Buatan Malaysia is certainly one of the more memorable concerts I've had the pleasure of performing in. Although we definitely could've polished our act more, this is one of those rare occasions where I actually like performing all the songs. If there's ever a plan to come up with a similarly-themed concert in the future, I'm definitely all up for it.

The Zimbabwe Dollar Watch:
No commentary today. Things have been pretty quiet over there recently... Or maybe I just haven't been following the news.

Pointless Fact of the Day:
For the past couple of days I've been sleeping pretty badly due to (overly) diligent monitoring of the American stock market, so I'm all out of gas for tonight. Anyway, I'll talk more about the blasted stock market in my next update (it begs ranting) but for now I really need my sleep. G'nite y'all.

Zhen was here at 2:00 am, 1 comment(s)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Say what? It's been over a month already!

Yeah, yeah, I totally screwed up the updating bit. But that's alright because it has been pretty interesting since the last installment of "WTF's up with Zhen's life?"

But before we move on to anything, I'd like to go on a short little rant about the traffic these days. Three times in the past week, it took me a freaking hour to drive the measly 8km to Monash. From 7am to 8am... A whole entire hour! I have friends who run 10km in 50 minutes! What the hell is wrong with the traffic these days?!

And now back on topic...

18th January 2009 - KLPac Open Day
I only just discovered that I have yet to blog about this. Let's start things with an evocative image:

That's me posing during my solo bit for the song Ellingtonia (the same song I was singing when this picture was taken). However, I vehemently opposed performing Ellingtonia for gigs/public performances anymore because:
  1. It was the very second score we received for our production last year (the first was In the Mood). Seven minutes long and full of choreography, it didn't take much for it to become YKLS's most rehearsed song of 2008.
  2. After our production, we performed Ellingtonia on three other occasions (KLPac Open Day included)... and each gig required its own series of practices.
Suffice to say, I think it was about time we took a break from that song already. Good thing that performing Ellingtonia for the very last time in the foreseeable future got me that awesome picture. Seriously, I need all the help I can get to look way cooler than I actually am. Heh heh.

10th February 2009 - Christy Comes Kristy Kommes
Some time back, a silky terrier randomly walked into our house. We believed it to be a neighbour's dog, but before we could do anything about that child of a bitch, it ran away. In any case, it sparked an interest in my brother and his girlfriend to get a dog.

Felicia the brother's girlfriend and Kristy the silky terrier

Christy's about 2 years old when we got her from one of my dad's colleagues. Apparently, this aforementioned colleague had a girl who owned Christy but could no longer take care of her because of college (wow, that was almost a tongue-twister). As a result, we got Christy for free, along with a cage and some food to boot. The only unfortunate part was that she hadn't been groomed in forever and she loves biting a little bit too much. Thankfully she's a small dog, so the damage is somewhat mitigated.

Anyway, we soon discovered that Christy doesn't really respond to her name, so we thought it might be a good idea to give her a new one. For what it's worth, I suggested stuff like Zelda and Chilli, while my brother wanted to call her (of all things) Cookie. In the end, we stuck with Christy except that Felicia thinks it looks cuter with a K (you can't say it sounds cuter because seriously it sounds the same) so Christy is now Kristy.

All together now... "Awww..."

Kristy is seriously just so adorable; she does this thing where she keeps one ear up and the other ear down (will have to get a picture of that someday). My mom, who once opposed the idea of keeping pets (especially dogs) have grown to love that little ball of fur. She now gushes about how Kristy listens to her, how Kristy doesn't bark at strangers as much anymore, etc. Kristy's fitting right into the family.

Yet that bitch still bites me pretty often, even though I play with her all the time... Oh well.

23rd to 27th February - Orientation, MOlympic Games, and Monash in general
Last week I was involved in what will possibly be the final orientation I will be involved in (unless by some sick twist of fate, I end up having to return next semester... Choi!). As usual, just a bunch of pictures (stolen from several Facebook albums)...

We celebrated Desmond's birthday, too

I was the emcee for most of the orientation, including the MOlympic games. As a result, I had free reign as to what type of music to lend to the event. I opted for the old school, feel good mood... The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, The Monkees, The Queen, Manfred Mann as well as Don McLean among others. The idea was that all music had to be from before the year 1990. Cici, who was pretty much the head honcho for the event, liked the music. Izuan didn't, but then again he can go huck fimself. *Wink*

MOlympic photos taken by Victor Yu (who was in my team last year):

The Purple Team (Purple Puff) and their mascot, a fairy (in both senses of the word, heh heh)

Blue Team had a rather freakay looking Smurf

The Red Team had an ASSMIT Ranger (Arts, Social Sciences, Medicine and IT). Yup, it's pronounced "Ass-Mitt"

Chicks playing tug of war (not the one in blue)

Unfortunately though, on the day of the Games the emcee table was set up next to the stage, right out in the sun. Because it didn't feel too hot that day, we (including Izuan, Leanne, Desmond, and sometimes Hasif) simply chilled (har har) out in the open.

Six-eyed monster. No, not the one-eyed monster, six-eyed

Needless to say we all got sunburnt. All in all it was as fun as the MOlympic games last year.

Oh, the Purple Team won again. Go Purple!

25th to 28th February - The Actors Studio Bangsar Gala Farewell
The Actors Studio Bangsar was established at the Bangsar Shopping Centre in 2001. Eight years later, BSC is now undergoing a massive facelift - of which TAS is unfortunately not a part of. So to bid farewell to the beloved theatre space, a group of performers, the likes of which includes comedians Douglas Lim, Afdlin Shauki, Harith Iskander, Indi Nadarajah, the Comeback Kings as well as Monty and Logi, dance groups Sutra Dance Theatre and the ASWARA (Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan) dancers, dancers Lee Swee-Keong and Mew Chang Tsing, and of course, yours truly with the Young KL Singers.

Lee Swee-Keong and his amazing contorting body (second picture stolen from by Nick Dorian)

The Sutra Dancers

The Young KL Singers... Who's that handsome guy on the left?

The comedians were hilarious. On one night, when Harith Iskander got onstage, he said, "I saw the Young KL Singers backstage. I looked at them... not so young. Some of them not even from KL! Talking Hokkien backstage... from Penang lah!" Which was quite an apt description of our motley crew, actually.

On the last night it became pretty emotional (i.e. there was crying) as a lot of our members had very fond memories performing on that stage. 9 out of the YKLS's 10 past productions were held there, and before the Young Choral Academy was established, that was where we went for rehearsals, too. I'll miss that place, but mostly because I really hate driving to KLPac.

Joe Hasham giving his final goodbye speech

Sayonara Actors Studio Bangsar!

Almost the entire cast and crew of The Actors Studio Bangsar Gala Farewell

The Zimbabwe Dollar Watch:
New updates from the land of the fuckups! On February 2, Zimbabwe decided to redenominate its currency, slashing away a whopping 12 zeroes from the Z$. Here's the new exchange rate:

Don't forget to look at things this way, though. If Zimbabwe did not redenominate its currency, the exchange rates would look like this:

20th Jan: RM1 to Z$5,172,816
3rd Mar: RM1 to Z$25,743,000,000,000

Did that blow your mind away at all? That's almost 5 million percent inflation in a month and a half! More updates as and when I update this blog...

Pointless Fact of the Day:
And we move on to the PFotD section. At the end of this month, I'll be performing (so will my girlfriend!) with the rest of the YCA Chamber Choir at a full-length concert at the end of this month. By full length I mean a 14/15 song spectacular. The concert is called Buatan Malaysia:

Here are some snippets from the blurb we were provided:
The Young Choral Academy (YCA) Chamber Choir, the result of the merger between the YCA Youth Chamber Choir and the Young KL Singers’ (YKLS) Chamber Choir, will be announcing their arrival in the Malaysian music scene with their debut production, ‘Buatan Malaysia’ featuring arrangements of Malaysian choral music.

Through this production, the YCA Chamber Choir strives to show the audience that any genre of Malaysian music, be it pop, folksongs or even – yes – patriotic songs can be a pleasure to listen to and perform. For the members, Saw states that this production is to help the performers learn and understand their own country’s music better, and through this develop a love for it.

This production features purely local arrangers, such as Geneviene Wong, Juliette Lai, Wong Shuen Da and the choir’s very own Assistant Music Director Tracy Wong. The audience will be able to enjoy original arrangements of songs that are close to the hearts of most Malaysians, even a completely different rendition of Jalur Gemilang along with some completely original compositions such as Not Alone Anymore and Tracy Wong’s Walk With Me.

Armed with a stage director, original arrangements and compositions, the YCA Chamber Choir’s debut production promises a reminiscent night for Malaysians with a twist as the audiences will hear familiar tunes to songs they probably know all the words to in a completely different light and will be introduced to the wonders of our very own Malaysian arrangers!

Venue: Pentas 2 of the KL Performing Arts Center (KLPac)
Date: 28th and 29th of March
Time: 3.00pm and 8.30pm on Saturday and a 3.00pm Sunday matinee show.

Tickets can be purchased from the KLPac Box Office (03-40479000) for a flat rate of RM25.
I already sent out Facebook invites to everybody who are unfortunate enough to be on my friends list. It's our debut performance and it's only RM25! We're working with zero sponsorship whatsoever so we really need as much support as we can. I promise that when you leave the concert, you'll be surprised at your own predilection to hum old school Malaysian tunes all the way home.

Ibu, ibu, engkaulah ratu hatiku...

Sinaran, mentari menyinari...

Getaran jiwa, melanda hatiku...

Piqued your interest yet? You can contact me at ZeroOneTwo TwoFourFour OneZeroNineFive, or drop a line in my tag box. Cheers!

The chick in the upper right corner's my girl. Am I a lucky bastard or what?

Zhen was here at 3:55 pm, 0 comment(s)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'd rather be a hardy stud...

...than being asked to study hard. Just so you guys know, I'm sitting for a deferred paper this Thursday. It sucks having to start cramming again all of a sudden after the part of my brain involved in memorising facts has atrophied from what is possibly the longest summer break ever in the history of the Australian education system.

In short, I'm just lazy.

Yes, I blogged today just to make that borderline witty pun.

The Zimbabwe Dollar Watch:
The exchange rate has doubled in the past week! Also, the Zimbabwean government introduced the 100 trillion dollar note to 'ease the inflation'. Those misguided idiots.

The article was quite interesting, in my opinion. There's talk about how people's salaries aren't even enough to pay for the commute to and from work, and that independent economists have estimated Zimbabwe's inflation to be around 40 million percent per annum. Makes Malaysia seem like a pretty damn awesome place to be living in by contrast, don't you think? Not that Malaysia isn't pretty damn awesome without comparison. We have nasi lemak!

Pointless Fact of the Day:
Wanna know more randomness about my life? Well, you know soap? Those little things you use to clean yourself with? If you need me to go on explaining what soap does my brain's gonna be freakin' Einstein next to yours.


My mom thinks it's a good idea to keep soap next to clothes because they give off a nice fragrance, counteracting the natural funk you get from old, dusty, wooden drawers. Sounds smart until the day you have to embark on a scavenger hunt around the house looking for bars of soap hidden between stacks of clothes when you realise that there's no more Lux in the bathroom to clean your arse (paper doesn't clean so much as it clears!) after nuking the toilet. Add this to the fact that you'll be wandering around half-naked with a towel around your waist for about 10 minutes before you finally give up and get your mother to find the stupid soap for you and you have a recipe for frustration.

"How come everytime when I look for the soap I can find it but when the rest of you does it, you can't?" my mom asks.

"Maybe it's because you were the one who hid them in the first place!" I throw my hands up in frustration. Well, not really, because if I did that my towel would fall and that would make for an extremely embarassing experience.

But sometimes it'd be worse than that, and after 15 minutes of searching my mom would come up empty-handed and resign to the fact that we've run out of soap and that the scavenger hunt idea was silly in the first place. So she goes out to Giant or Carrefour and get more soap... and hides them in drawers again.

Now I think I know how Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes feels whenever his dad tells him that stuff like these "builds character".

Zhen was here at 5:38 pm, 2 comment(s)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

And now for something completely different...

We interrupt the normal programming to bring you a special update on Zhen Yao's life. First of all, he would like to apologise for the lack of new material on his marginally popular (in other words, not at all) personal blog.

"I'm terribly sorry," he said, feigning remorse. "But I've been somewhat busy since returning from Australia, putting a damper on trying to finish the second half of "A Sale of Two Titties" (sic) for the public's enjoyment."

Indeed, Mr. Yin's life can sometimes be pretty hectic. The very same weekend he returned from Melbourne he was roped in to perform at a paid gig with his choir, the Young KL Singers. The following week was not much different, although this time around the choir performed for HSBC, a sponsor for their 2008 jazz-themed production, "Breakin' it Down!".

Zhen had a small solo part in the Breakin' it Down concert

In both shows, they performed the more popular songs from the aforementioned jazz concert, to which Zhen commented: "I'm so sick of performing Ellingtonia and In the Mood; they were the very first songs we learned at the beginning of the year, and by the end we were still stuck performing it! We've probably sung both songs at full-length at least 100 times by now."

At the same time, the Young KL Singers was also involved in the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra's production of The Lord of the Rings Symphony, an event that our Howard Shore fan couldn't pass up performing for. "When I was in Singapore, I'd study with Lord of the Rings music playing in the background. Actually being able to sing it live with the orchestra playing in front of me was just pure awesomeness," he mused. "When I heard the strings come on during "The White Tree" section in the fifth movement for the first time during our rehearsal with the orchestra, I nearly cried."

What a wuss, some might say. Nevertheless, the show, which lasted from the 19th to 21st of December was well reviewed by the public.

Photography was not allowed within the auditorium, hence this random picture in the foyer

The following weeks however saw the owner of this blog simply hanging out with his bestest high school pals, Darren (of whom most readers would already be familiar with) and Ben (who would be staying in Malaysia for two and a half weeks before heading back to Auckland). Most of the time, however, Zhen found himself to be simply relegated to the duties of designated driver as neither of the aforementioned pals could drive then due to "extraneous circumstances".

Thus, both Christmas and New Year's Eves were spent at Darren's place, wherein his parents organised "awesome barbeque parties with lots of meat," according to Zhen.

Before he knew it, 2009 reared its ugly head. On the beautiful Saturday morning of January the 3rd, Zhen, Ben, and a few others (including the former's squeeze, Ms. Carrie Low) joined their mutual friend Ms. Boey Yin Yin for a hiking trip to the Perdik waterfalls of Ulu Langat to celebrate Ms. Boey's birthday. However, the day turned sour no thanks to the incessantly pouring rain, multiple wrong turns and epic navigational failures. However, when the hiking party finally made it to the starting point of the hike, the rain showed no signs of stopping. After waiting it out for almost 30 minutes, the gang decided to just head back to Boey's apartments to chill.

Source: Not Reuters

"Good thing we went back too," added Mr. Yin. "When I tried taking a piss over at some bushes, it took me a moment to notice the twenty or so leeches rapidly making their way towards my feet. By that time I already had four of 'em crawling up my shoe! And all this while I was peeing..."

The leeches could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Boey clearly enjoys the company, what with flashing her thighs like that

Finally, last Saturday saw the long-awaited reunion of Standard 2/3 Kekwa students of SK Seafield of the 1987 batch. Because Zhen skipped the fourth year of primary school, he never saw many of his childhood friends ever again (save for one who ended up being his neighbour). This would all change thanks to the great social networking site known as Facebook.

"It started with Sharveen, whom I have not spoken to in 13 years, contacting me on Facebook sometime early in December," he explained. "I persuaded him to post our class photo online - I lost mine - and we went straight into tagging everybody whose names we could remember. Hao-Wei stepped up to the plate after that and organised a reunion at Itallianies. It's amazing how much fun food and 13 years of catching up can be!"

Pure awesomesauce

And that, dear readers, was how our humble blogger had been spending his time. No marinated fish were hurt in the production of this special update. Also, tune in this Sunday, 10am at KL Performing Arts Centre if you want to catch the Young KL Singers in action! If you're interested at all in the Malaysian performing arts scene, come pop your KLPac cherry this weekend! Full list of activities here (and it's packed like maaaaad).

Virginity's overrated, srsly

The Zimbabwe Dollar Watch:
This shit has hit the fan in our favourite failed African state. A month ago, the exchange rate was at RM1 to Z$15,778. Today, amidst the worsening health crisis, inflation has spiralled even further out of control.

The rate's a freaking RM1 to Z$2.835 million now. That's a 17,871% increase in over a month! Can you imagine paying RM1 for roti canai today and RM17,871 during Chinese New Year? You can't even cite CNY prices for that kind of financial absurdity!

Thus, for the good of all Zimbabweans I hereby vote for the assasination Robert Mugabe to suddenly go 'missing by accident'. Then again, the usual suspects that carry out such operations (the US of A) doesn't have any vested interest whatsoever in Africa. It all comes down to an unfortunate issue of "Why should we bother?"

Pointless Fact of the Day:
About a year ago, I wrote about voting online to get cities into the Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition. A recent trip to the local Toys 'R' Us made me come to the conclusion that it was a silly idea (the voting process) to begin with, mainly because the board now looks like it was conceived through a game of throwing darts at a spinning globe:

Call me petty, but Tokyo in the place of The Angel Islington (incidentally, the light blue spots are the most underrated on the entire board)? Where are all the South American cities? Why the over-representation of Europe? Three Canadian cities? And why the presence of places you've never heard of before? Can anybody honestly tell me that, off the top of their heads they know where in the world is Gdynia and Riga?! I am of the opinion that if your city isn't significant enough to be even considered a part in a Carmen Sandiego game, you probably shouldn't be on the "World Edition" (cue air quotes).

Goes to show how much of a shithole Gdynia and Riga must be; the people there must be bored shitless to have spent so much time voting for their city to make it into the game. Did you see the voting process? You had to sign up on their website, pick 10 different cities from a world map, and then wait 24 hours before voting again!

Of course, I'm just ranting because KL (heck, even Singapore) didn't make it. Bah. I'll never pay for that nonsense!

Zhen was here at 12:35 am, 0 comment(s)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities (Part One)

...which, were it Spoonerised, would become "A Sale of Two Titties".

Now allow me to tell you of my post-examination summer (the Australian summer) break trips to the Asian Down Under (Singapore) and the Real Down Under (Melbourne, to be exact).

But first, a little bit of introduction about the Singapore trip. Earlier this year, when Carrie and I first heard that Avenue Q was coming our way, we immediately made plans for to catch the show. However, when it was discovered that my exams and our YKLS concert will very likely clash with the dates of the show, not to mention the fact that it was the Filipino production, we evaluated costs and benefits and decided not to go after all.

But it was Avenue Q, after all, the only musical to which the both of us have memorised every song, its hilarious lyrics accompanying us on many an otherwise long and boring ride home from choir practice...

So when my dear old roommate officemate Cze Wien said that her sister wanted to get rid of two extra tickets for a date that didn't clash with my exams or the concert (and at a discount, too!), I just had to pick them up.

And so, on the Friday night of November 7, Carrie and I hopped onto a Midnight Train to Georgia an overnight KTM train from KL Sentral to Singapore.

Taking up the upper bunk. This photo was actually taken on the return trip, but as long as I don't tell you that you wouldn't know, would you?

It was actually really cozy and pretty comfortable compared to taking a bus, especially for someone who wants to read something on a long ride to nowhere. The only problem was that the train had to stop every five to fifteen minutes or so to pick people up at stations along the way. I was okay with it, but for a light sleeper like Carrie... I doubt she'll want to ride in another one of those things anytime soon.

Anyway, after 11 hours or so, we arrive in Singapore at 8.30am.

Day 1 - 8th November
We reached our hotel about an hour later, no thanks to it being located in such a secluded, inaccessible-by-car street.

On the street where we live

But it wasn't check-in time yet, so we left our luggage at the lobby and proceeded to walk all around town. Bugis Junction was nearby, so we went for a little shopping, look-see, and most importantly, breakfast.

It was deserted in the morning

I have no idea how this works; those streams of water spray upwards

We spent a whole lot of time mall-hopping and generally whiling until we could check-in. I bumped into a familiar face outside of Raffles City, though:

It was Yen Fen, sister of my pal Wen Ching as well as ex-colleague when I temp-ed at her company. I just saw her at their home a couple of days earlier, so imagine my surprise seeing her in Singapore. Which was kinda weird; I've been down to Singapore several times since I graduated from St. Andrew's Junior College, but besides planned meet-ups and such, I've never bumped into any of my ex-schoolmates. Yet here I am in Singapore and I bump into an acquaintance from back at home. Stupid thing, this Fate fella.

Anyway, after a ton of walking around, we were finally allowed to enter our room at 3pm. Check it out in its complete glory:

The sink is in the living room! That's because they couldn't fit it in the toilet. Anyway, the room was great considering its SGD80 per night pricetag (not including SGD20 peak season surchage), and they throw in breakfast too. Go to the hotel's website if you ever wanna make a booking; many budget hotels in the area are of similar quality and price range, too, so Google for them if you ever plan to have a weekend trip down there.

In the evening, we took a train to the Esplanade, where we ate at the Makansutra Gluttons Bay right outside the mall (sorry, forgot to take pictures; but the food was quite delicious!).

Inside Esplanade itself, there was this psychedelic art on display

Puppet nudity on stage (the puppet in questioned had very ugly breasts, though)!

And then the time came for us to actually watch the show we were down in Singapore for. For those of you not in the know, Avenue Q gave us such hits like "It Sucks to Be Me" and "The Internet is for Porn", and it won a Tony Award for Best Musical the year it first premiered on Broadway (2003). Let me begin by saying that the Filipino cast did not disappoint at all; heck, they sounded almost exactly like the Broadway cast recording that I play in my car all the time! Great props to them.

The only gripe I have is about the so-called 'official' merchandise; rather than replicate the T-shirts or whatever that they sell in other shows around the world, the Singapore Repertory Theatre chose to instead outsource it to New Urban Male, giving us a paltry selection of clothing none of which even sported the Avenue Q logo. If I wanted T-shirts with silly witticisms in 'funky' font, I'd head to Sungei Wang Plaza and save my money. Hell, even if I got those T-shirts printed myself I'd save money.

Our YKLS friends Jason and Alvin (whom we knew were watching the same show) ended up in the same row as we did; how's that for even more coincidence?

Anyway, after the show and after a little yumcha with the guys at Gluttons Bay, we headed back to the hotel to sleep.

Day 2 - 9th November
Breakfast provided by the hotel, of the Chinese vegetarian persuasion to be precise. The highlight was the abundance of delicious carrotcakes that they provided.

After checking out early and placing all our stuff in the lobby, we decided to drop by the (relatively) new mall in town, Vivo City in Harbour Front. But in all seriousness, what is there to blog about a mall? You've seen one mall, you've seen 'em all.

But they had Ben & Jerry's!

They also had a rooftop park with wading pools. It was really hot outside, though

And then we went down to Orchard road for even more mall-hopping at Plaza Singapura (incidentally my favourite place to hang out when I was still studying there). We shared a dinner of barbecued pork ribs (!!!) and salad at Cafe Cartel.

In a park outside Dhoby Gaut MRT that I never knew existed

Dinner! Spot the ribs

After dinner, we went back to the hotel to collect our bags, then killed time lounging and reading novels at a Starbucks in Bugis Junction for about an hour and a half... until it's time to get to the station for our train back home.

We arrived back in Subang Jaya the next day at around 7am. Later, after we've both showered and whatnot, I drove Carrie to begin her second week at her new job in Mont Kiara. Of course, thanks to the morning traffic, I left her place at 8am but only returned at 10am... Kind of a stark reminder that I was in fact back home in Malaysia.

What else is new?

The Zimbabwe Dollar Watch:
Holy cow! A lot of shit had transpired in Zimbabwe since I took a break from blogging some time ago, largely due to their idiot premiere Robert Mugabe. Sporting a failed power sharing deal, a worsening cholera epidemic as well as spiralling hyperinflation and you have a candidate for the decade's most fucked-up nation of the world.

Speaking of inflation:

Wow-wow-wee-wah! In October I said the following:
Well, a month later, and the Z$ value has dropped by another 100%. At this rate, the exchange rates would likely be RM1 to Z$60 by the end of the year, or worse.
This is a shitload much worse than I expected. Come on, RM1 to Z$15,778? Somebody go save that country!

Pointless Fact of the Day:
Izuan introduced me to this ultra-obscure government website about internet security some time ago, aptly named If it weren't for their hilariously cringe-inducing 3D-animated educational videos which caught his attention, this website would've gone unnoticed like the myriad of other government websites dotting the internet.

"Today we gonna tawk abowt cyberstawking!"

In all these videos you have voice actors that sound like they would much rather be somewhere else at the moment, and for some reason, somewhere along the way someone decided that the videos would sound better if the actors spoke with an American accent. Well it worked, if by better you mean that the videos are some of the funniest attempts at the aforementioned accent by Malaysians. If you thought that some of our radio ads were bad (here's looking at you, Ben), wait till you've seen some of the videos here.

Not only that, some of the advice/warnings given are simply nonsensical:

"Cyberstalkers can remotely turn on the camera or microphone on their victim's computer"

"I told you, Red. Never tell that you're a boy or a girl over the internet. Ever since you accidentally typed that you're a girl... there's creeps keeps (sic) bugging you!"

You so gotta watch this stuff. At the very least you'll be kept laughing your asses off while learning about obscure government bodies.

Zhen was here at 9:01 pm, 0 comment(s)