Monday, October 31, 2005

Writer's Blocke de la Anniversaire

In another desperate attempt to boost readership, I've resorted to pseudo-French headlines designed to make you feel sophisticateur! Feel the raw genius lingering thick in the air...
Felt it? Good.
It's the final day of a festivity-laden month, and time for me to pick my butt up from the comfort of having finished a satisfying Special October Feature to deliver the Year In Review piece I promised. My, my, the things I do for y'all. Now, it would be extremely tempting here for me to rattle off a foot-long post, but you know how self-praising and delusional I always end up in those. So short and sweet'll be the order of the day.

I guess I've always been the sort of person who needs a project to tend to at all times. Heck, everyone's like that. Whether it's our wardrobe, our car, our households, or ourselves, we all need something to nurture and keep adding on to till we get that warm fuzzy feeling inside. I was having a conversation with a friend about how crazy we used to get over Utopia (an online game which requires you to log in about twice a day at least). We'd stare with unblinking eyes at the same page for almost an hour comparing how the networth of our provinces fared against others, call each other daily discussing kingdom issues, even organise MSN chat sessions devoted entirely to taking down enemies at get the idea. And don't even get me started on setting the alarm clock to go off at 4am so that we could attack an enemy province as soon as our armies returned...of course I've don't wake up at unearthly hours to blog, but it's become the new Utopia in my life.

So why "slog" (that's "story log" for you) in the first place? You might recall me mentioning in "I Interviews Myself" that the idea for Twisted Tales started from my friend Tommy talking about Dungeons and Dragons, a pencil-and-paper role-playing game where you have a game master conjuring scenarios for the rest of the players to react to. Based on their reactions, the game master would continue developing more little storylines till the mission was complete.
Take that, a realisation of the blogging medium, combined with a restless mind, and you had the catalyst for Twisted Tales.

Of course, it's difficult to get enough reader participation to make it totally D&D-like, but the odd suggestion or two is always welcome. Slogging is the perfect solution for someone like me who wants to blog all the time, but isn't exactly able to make mundane things like going for class and having dinner seem like a must-read. So simple enough; I blog when something interesting happens, I slog when nothing does!

If there's anything I've learnt, it's that writing stories like these isn't all about fun and putting down what comes to mind. True, there should be a certain degree of "feel" to it, but relying too much on such spontaneity produces something fit only for a good laugh with friends. Real entertaining storylines, which is the first requirement for stories when you dissect it, need proper planning with a set opening, middle and ending in mind.

So's been a wonderful year of learning stuff like that and so much more. The high times - like the first month when "Blogspot" was flowing freely and the visitors were pouring in - were real high indeed while the lows - Ghostopia's premature ending, boo hoo hoo - still had silver linings to be found, and through it all the rush of discovering a new unexpected tag on the chatterbox has always been the biggest motivation. Yups, that's my cue to thank all of you who've ever dropped by or given a shoutout! It makes all the difference, really.

What then, should I hope to do in the next 365 days for Twisted Tales' sake? For starters, re-write Ghostopia and get it posted up here...I'd hoped to kill two birds by writing it for that NaNoWriMo thingy (National Novel Writing Month), but November's too much of a killer. Probably December, January, or February's better. Should also stop being so overly careful in my writing, which is what's making me spend so much time blogging anyway. And yadda yadda yadda...may I continue to reach out and touch the hearts of millions around the world with my continually-improving stories and poems...unroll your eyes, you.

That's it. I've said all I wanted to say. Yeah! Everyone, dim the lights, light the candles, and bring out the cake! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TWISTED TALES!


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 1)

It is upon us folks - the grand finale, the moment of truth, the pinnacle which every last post to ever grace the pages of Twisted Tales has held lofty dreams of someday scaling! If you've been following this series so far, you'll know how I've laid claim to so many past entries on the chart to be "one of the best", "one I'm proudest of", and all that. Therefore, Pick Number One should be no less than something so utterly brilliant, so magnificently thought-provoking and beautifully prosed that nothing else I've written for a full year can hold a light to it, right?

Well, you could always put it that way. Of course, do remember that the best things in life are seldom number one.
Anyways, enough with the forced suspense! Our Special October Feature concludes with today's piece, "Paper Frogs" which tells the familiar Christian message of salvation. It's one of my earliest Writer's Blocks and also my first Twisted Tales poem, but all the right ingredients were there for one heck of a message.
Each time I read it, the first two frogs remind me more of people I know who simply will not accept a very logical explanation to life and the afterlife. It's cutesy when you're able to read the poem like a "big picture" and laugh at how foolish the frogs are, but as we go about our lives from a much lower point of view, are we not paper frogs ourselves being watched by Someone waiting for us to acknowledge that we cannot make ourselves jump?
Twelve months of posting, over 200 posts, and it's come down to this - my most favourite Twisted Tales post E-VAA! Ladies and gentlemen, a rousing applause please for...

Pick No.1: Paper Frogs
First posted on 23rd January 2005

Three paper frogs
Sat and talked.
"What do we do?
Now that we're here."

"We should jump,"
Said one frog.
"That's what frogs
Do all the time."

"Why should we?"
Asked another.
"We seem fine
Just sitting here."

"I have heard,"
The third frog quipped.
"That to jump
Is to be free
For eternity."

The frogs frowned.
"How do we jump?"
"Who can we ask?"
"Why should we jump?"

"I wish to jump,"
Said the first frog.
"By all means,
I will find a way."

"Bah, nonsense."
Second frog scoffed.
Jumping because
Others tell you to."

"Here's a thought,"
The third frog said.
"Create ourselves,
We did not.
Wouldn't it then,
Be fitting that
We seek help from,
He who made us?"

The other two
Listened and thought.
"Too much trouble."
Yawned the first.
"I never liked
Chasing others.
Are there no Easier ways?
I think I shall
Seek answers

"You bunch of fools,"
Laughed the second.
"Frogs need not jump,
They can crawl.
Jump to be free?
That's funny.

Sadly the third
Shook his head.
"Very well then,
Let us part.
I hope we shall
Meet once more
And be happy

With that the frogs
Went their ways.
Time passed on
They lived on.

Then came a day
All frogs dread.
He picked the three
And dropped them
In a hollow.

"Where is this?"
Cried One and Two.
"It's a dustbin."
Replied the third.

"What happens next?"
"We get disposed."
"And then where?"
"Filth, stench, dirt,
Rotting trash,

"No!" They both weeped.
"What can we do?"
"I'm sorry
You chose this path."

With one last tear
The first frog
Looked at his friends

"Come, join me."
A voice smiled.
First frog rejoiced
As a finger
Pressed his rear
And made him jump
Out of the trash.

Where he jumped

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 4

After a full week of not updating this story, here we go again - not a moment too soon? It really kept me tossing and turning the whole week, deciding if there were any better ways to tell the story. But guess I'll have to end up trying the time-tested method of thinking as I write...the stage is yours, Chapter Four!

Second day of her so far less-than-thrilling time at her new school, and already May was standing face to face with one of her biggest foes - the basketball hoop. It was PE class, and the girls were taking turns throwing the ball through the hoop. With much success, noted May uncomfortably.
It was her turn. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Saras sniggering to her gang. Jean, meanwhile, was only smiling faintly.
May pursed her lips, aimed with a face so focused it would've put any NBA player to shame, and flung the ball as hard as she could. It sputtered midair five feet away from the hoop and bounced back feebly on the floor. Drat.
" good," the coach, a woman in her thirties whom Jean liked to call "Mrs. Frumpy", frowned. "Try again."
Saras coughed loudly on purpose as May strode over to pick up the ball. May flashed a brief scowl at her and went back to the three-point line. Aim and toss, but once again the lack of skill - not to mention height - told. Nowhere near the target.
Mrs. Frumpy shook her head. "Next!"

"Hello, May," an ominous group of Indian girls blocked her path as she was walking to the canteen for reccess. "Where's that good friend of yours?"
It was, of course, Saras and her gang. They quickly spread out, somewhat pinning May to the wall.
"Jean? I dunno, she went somewhere."
"So you two are like best buds now, huh?" Saras drew her face closer, making May feel uneasy.
"Well, she's been the only one who has bothered being nice to me."
A collective Oooh rose from her gang, prompting Saras to corner her with their help. "You've got some nerve to say that. Do you know how many friends I have around here?"
May remained quiet. She had been a prefect in her old school, and she knew Saras' sort. They wouldn't be satisfied till they established their superiority over others. Sometimes, if you were lucky, they preferred picking on those who fought back instead of those who gave in.
"Jean must have told you a lot about us," Saras said. "Did she say it yet?"
May shrugged her shoulders.
Saras clicked her tongue and slapped her mildly. "Don't play dumb. Did she say we're witches?"
"I really don't know."
"That's it. Take her money, girls."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 2)

Sorriesorriesorrie...late again! By a mere matter of hours, but late nonetheless! Guilty I plead! Haven't been posting as much as I'ld like to this past week, but things are perking up with a week-long break next week. A torturous November, and then we'll be staring at the back of 2005 soon! Yippee!
Can you feel the tension in the air as we approach Number One?! It's so thick, you could cut it with a knife! But then again, you could cut most things with a knife.

Blunt jokes aside, we have here today what I call the epitome of the Cendol Series - Part Two of Three. You might be interested to know that this was originally planned to be Number One, all the way till last week. However, interesting read as I think it is, Another Cendol Story doesn't deliver an impactful enough message to deserve it. It is, essentially, a story about ordinary people interacting in the most everyday of surroundings God conveniently places. Not my best piece yet maybe, but very definitely one I'm proudest of.
And what a pity...I never had another good bowl of cendol after that.

Pick No.2: Another Cendol Story
First posted on 17th March

Like I had several times before, I found myself alone in Seri Petaling at 4pm after a foolishly-spent RM9.18 KFC lunch.
Alas, this tale gets off to a most predictable start: a blazing hot Malaysian afternoon. However, this time around I was a man with a mission. I knew what I wanted, and where I was headed. There. Tucking itself neatly under some trees was the Cendol Stall Of Lore. The one which would deliver me from the sun's unrelenting rays.
And like the script says, I park my car, order a standard bowl of cendol, refuse his offer for rojak as well, and kiasu-ly ask for lebih kacang. Round and round his machine grinds the ice, giving birth to my beautiful bowl of cendol (okay, maybe that's taking it a bit too far).
As I take the first few sips, a wind starts swooshing to life. Little droplets land themselves on the table, and I, fearing for the blemishing of my pure cendol, make for his sheltered van.
The cendol man sat there on his stool, smoking a cigarette. He looked at me briefly before resuming his smoke. "Nak duduk kah?"
"Tak payah lah, uncle."
He was a cheerful-looking Indian man, probably in his early forties. Murugan. He looked every bit like a Murugan. I didn't have the nerve to ask him his name, but I felt quite sure he was called Murugan.
Casually I chatted up with Murugan on how business was. "Aiyah, ini hari teruk lah...lagi-lagi hujan, mana ada orang datang."
As he spoke, the small drizzle turned into a considerable downpour. Not the sort that'd send you scurrying home totally soaked, but enough to put any sane person off cendol.
Apparently Murugan had been selling cendol for quite a number of years, having moved his stall from Old Klang Road due to increasing competition. He had two children, the older one aged 14. Quite a difficult time for the pockets.
Though he had lips forever curved upwards, Murugan's eyes revealed some degree of hardship and toiling. There was a certain weariness in the way he sat smoking, looking at cars and people passing by in hope they wanted to buy cendol.
"Ini hujan takkan lama punya." I nodded instinctively to agree, then paused. Was he making a statement of affirmity, or was it one of hope?
"Baik jugalah hujan, hari-hari pun begitu panas."
Simple words, but ones which I felt spoke deep into the heart of an ordinary cendol seller. Many times in life, we are torn between what's best for ourselves and what's best for others. On one hand, Murugan needed it to be unbearably hot so that he could earn more. But on the other, he, like any other one of us desired a clear blue sky. What Murugan was selling - comfort from the heat - was suddenly being given for free by God.
I placed my empty bowl on the counter, and handed him one ringgit.
"Dah nak balik?" he asked.
"Yalah, bos. Hujan."
"OK lah. Hati-hati."
And so ended my latest Cendol Moment. Now, if I could just find an ice-cream man...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 3)'s been a seriously hard-hitting day, the sort that makes you sit down and reaccess the things going on in your life now. Not to mention 7 more minutes to go before my 20th birthday! And not a minute older do I feel. ;^)
Second irrelevant issue to address would be my failure to break the record of most consecutive number of daily posts by not posting yesterday, but that's...irrelevant. If it ain't Guiness, it ain't good, so they say.
Oh yes, NOW we get to today's featured piece. Again, it's one that I'm extremely proud of - a very unconventional, very controversial poem which criticises, laughs at and showers praises on our Tanah Tercinta Malaysia all at once. The sort you'd only get away with posting on a blog.
At the end of the day, however, it just reminds us that as cool as dissing the government seems, we need to empower ourselves actively much more. After all, doesn't loving someone or something include learning to look past their faults and imperfections? Or are we merely fair-weather citizens?

Pick No.3: Eventhough
First posted on 30th August 2005

Eventhough your favouritism irks us so,
When scholarships, PRs, to the undeserving go.

Eventhough your drivers are reckless and mad,
They drive too fast, too slow, and just plain bad.

Eventhough to you corruption sticks like a flea,
We've all seen the cops and their duit kopi.

Eventhough your people are rude and thoughtless,
They litter and spit like it's nobody's business.

Eventhough your politicians hold less than your average ape,
Bickering about how tudungs decrease rape.

Eventhough your values are conservative and Asian,
Banning all under the sun but Siti Nurhaliza and Raihan.

Eventhough your education system is the work of harebrained fools,
Students forget all the moment they leave school.

Eventhough your streets are as safe as a loon with a dagger,
Everyone's just waiting for the next senseless murder.

Eventhough your prices go up high, high, higher still,
Petrol now costs more than the cars it fills.

Eventhough we are seen as Malay, Chinese, Indian, or Lain-lain,
Melayu babi, Cinakueh, Aneneh - all good-natured humour, no need to refrain.

But we love you still, flaws and all,
Land of Manglish and the mamak stall.
Let us not just use our mouths,
But our heads and hearts,
Till death do we part.

(Views expressed above are not neccessarily my own - Happy Merdeka Day to all!)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 3

Am on quite a streak is gonna be the 7th day in a row I'm posting. According to the archives, this has only happened ONCE before (back in April), and if I manage to post just for the heck of it tomorrow, I'll beat the all-time record! Woohoo!

"Nah, don't you fret," Jean tried to calm her as they followed the rest back to class. "They're big-time jerks, that bunch. Nobody likes them anyway."
Apparently May had just encountered the purported bullies of the class, Saras and the rest of her gang whom Jean claimed to have forgotten the names of.
"So what other stuff are they into? Or do they just act all nasty towards newcomers?"
"Huh. You'll be lucky if they don't collect fees from you every once a while."
"What?" May half-shrieked, making some of the other girls look her way. "You mean...extortion?"
"Shhh," Jean put a finger on her lips. "It's not exactly like that. They'll just borrow money from you or get you to pay for their food sometimes, that's all."
"That's still extortion. Why don't you guys tell the teachers?"
Jean sighed. "We can't. Someone tried that once, and something bad happened to her."
"What happened?"
"All right, make sure you don't tell anyone else about this," her voice became almost a whisper. "Saras and the rest are actually witches."
"Come again?" Now this was getting far-fetched.
"I said, they're witches. They practise black magic."
"So they voodooed the girl?"
"They had to take her away. The doctors said there was something wrong with her." Jean paused to add more dramatic effect. "And we never...saw her again. Ever."
Suddenly she burst out laughing and slapped May's shoulder, as if she'd cracked the funniest joke in the world. May didn't know if she should join in laughing.
"Here, have a sweet." Jean handed her a little red cube. "Don't you worry too much, you'll have a great time here."
May popped the sweet into her mouth. Ugh. It tasted horrible. But compared to Saras, Jean's weirdness, and her introverted classmates, it was the least of her troubles.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 4)

Talk about a barrage of long posts! Today at No.4 we have "Tammy And The Mirror", which must rank up there in the list of my longest poems. And it comes hot on the heels of that dumb tag which took up more space than I expected, too.
No matter anyway, this one's a nice ol' "story poem" which doesn't require much brain power. Not much of a story to boast of - I scribbled the first few lines in the toilet, in fact - and like most of my stories it steered away from the original ending midway. Our little Miss Tammy, however, clawed her way to No.4 on sheer force of rhyming alone. Nobody ever said rhyming makes a poem better, but then again make-up can't you a better person too, can it? =p

Pick No.4: Tammy And The Mirror
First posted on 10th June 2005

Mirror, mirror, oh so new,
How I wish I could see you.
What are you like? Who's inside?
Oh do come down, sit beside.

To the fields went little Tammy,
She skipped and played with little Dee.
Along came Scott, they laughed in glee,
Running as far as their eyes could see.

Mirror, mirror, hanging tall,
How I wish I could see more.
Show someone else, it's always me!
How about us? Tee hee hee.

To high school went older Tammy,
Studying next class to Scott and Dee.
The three were best friends still,
Sitting together for breaks and meals.

Soon Scott and Dee became a pair,
Everyone assumed it was fair.
Dee seemed to like it a lot,
But otherwise Scott thought.

He called Tammy, spilling it out,
Suppressed feelings, all said loud.
She tried hard to make him feel better,
Counsellor, comforter, listener.

Mirror, mirror, all asmear,
How I wish you were more clear.
Why is there so much out of sight,
When the reflection looks just right?

It had to happen sooner or later,
The calls started becoming regular.
No one had a clue, not even Dee,
They fell for each other gradually.

Months passed - the prom was near,
Dee still had no idea.
The secret was kept safe still,
Though a few already knew.

Tammy urged Scott to let Dee know,
She wanted no more of this show.
He too wanted to do what was right,
The three would meet up that very night.

Eight o' clock, their favourite cafe,
Tammy came first, unsure what to say.
Dee came hand in hand with Scott,
Would she take it well or not?

"Dee," went Tammy. "It's so hard to say,
But something must be settled today.
Scott and I are in love secretly,
It just happened - please understand me."

Dee stared at the floor, lips pursed tight.
She didn't cry, scream, scowl, nor fight.
"It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.
If you're happy, there's nothing I'll say."

Tammy and Scott were both delighted,
At how easily she'd accepted.
Everything cleared - no more charade,
The two of them could publicly date.

Mirror, mirror, shimmering bright,
How I love your colours and sights.
All's perfect looking into you,
Turning lovelier with every view.

Get a job did adult Tammy,
Scott and her kept in touch with Dee.
They hung out still, but things had changed,
Being with her, Tammy felt strange.

Whenever they asked, Dee wouldn't tell,
If this was making her go through hell.
She smiled and shrugged it all away,
"I feel fine, we're best friends anyway."

Soon they both were getting engaged,
Tammy feared Dee might be enraged.
But no, the same reaction stuck.
She simply beamed and wished them luck.

Mirror, mirror, now hazy,
How I wish I'm just crazy.
You seem so smooth and so all right,
But is there a crack deep inside?

Tammy wanted them three to meet,
And get to the bottom of it.
Eight o' clock, same cafe as always,
It sure felt a lot like the old days.

"Dee," she said. "I've been worried sick,
You always act like it's nothing big.
Surely it hurt you in some manner,
When Scott and I got together."

As always, she kept quiet only,
A few moments passed quite awkwardly.
"Come on, Dee, don't be so mysterious,
You know you can be honest with us."

Dee did not reply, she shook her head,
Tammy then felt her patience fade.
"You're lying to me - I can see it!
Stop it, you cheat!"

Still no answer, she sipped her drink,
Calm, collected, not even a blink.
"Settle down, Tammy," chided Scott.
"Let's not be so nosy with her thoughts."

Suddenly a wild thought struck Tammy,
Why was her boyfriend siding with Dee?
She stared at them, heart beating fast,
They were a couple in the past.

The movies they'd been to together,
Popcorn they'd shared with one another.
Those sweet nothings he always told her,
Dee probably heard them much earlier.

"YOU!" Tammy was losing control,
"So you think I really don't know?
How you made me think you were my friend,
Backstabbing me and stealing my man!"

Dee stood up, shaking her head,
"You've lost it," was all she said.
Scott was saying sorry to Dee,
That was the last straw for Tammy.

Fists clenched tightly, she got up to her feet,
"I've lost it, huh? YOU THINK I'VE LOST IT?"
She reached out for Dee's throat, choking her,
Harder still, till her face changed colour.

Blinded by rage, her fingers tightened,
The other diners became frightened.
Scott rushed forward to pull them apart,
But she pushed him aside really hard.

Dee's face turned pale, she gasped for air,
Thrashing wildly to grab Tammy's hair.
Tammy's grip tightened still further,
Till Scott at last could restrain her.

Everything next happened so quickly,
No one knew what came over Tammy.
She was found guilty, for the record,
Though Dee did not want to go to court.

Twenty years for attempted murder,
Tammy broke down - too much for her.
Day by day, engulfed by self-pity,
She lost her own mind, her sanity.

Mirror, mirror, there you are,
Now you don't seem so far.
You're all I have, my life, my world,
In you I see...a boy and two girls.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Writer's Block Presents...mOkKiEs' Reluctant Attempt At A Tag

As if it hasn't been a strange enough day already - almost an entire day of rain, nothing but slow instrumental songs on the radio, and then the passing of our beloved First Lady, Datin Seri Paduka Endon Mahmood. Of course, the latter might have or have not caused one of the former to happen. Either way, one really wonders what sort of superman our Prime Minister has to be to continue pulling through in a situation like this. Shouldering most of the blame of the common folk for the perpetually bad economy doesn't help either.
Pray. Do pray.
But that bit of grieving aside, we move on to what must be one of the most ridiculously absurd posts in recent history. Alas, I've succumbed to peer pressure and am now in danger of revealing more about myself in this one post than all the previous ones combined. You guessed it, I...I...I...have been TAGGED!
Oh, the incredulity of it all! It's like Spiderman taking off half his mask! COME ON! Surely Mr. My-Blog-Is-Too-Cool-To-Talk-About-Daily-Personal-Stuff-That-No-One-Else-Cares-About-Like-The-Rest-Of-The-Retarded-Population isn't going to forsake his values and answer to a girly ol' tag?
He isn't, right?

Oh, mannnn....

7 things you plan to do before you die

1) Get married and have kids? No, seriously. Hopefully I'll be able to do it in that order, wink wink winkety wink.
2) Write some sort of book and get it published and sold? No, make that a series of books. And then you - yes, YOU, staring at the screen - can say, "Ohhh...I've been reading his stuff since X-number-of-years-back, when he was posting them online."
3) You know, lately I've been wishing I could teach something I'm good in to a bunch of kids. Not neccessarily kids, but a group of people whom I can see grow and learn from me. But no PMR/ SPM tuition please; that is so...erm, lifeless.
4) Of course, I gotta have some sort of ambition related to my supposed line of work. I wish that I can utilise the powers of Visual Communication to address some of societies' problems! Not sure how or when, but it's surely gotta be done.
5) Perform onstage in a theatre or musical! I'm still spellbound after watching Romi and Joo Lee dan Lain-lain. Not that I should, but...
6) Wanted to note down "travel" at first, but that's so generic. More specifically, I wanna go watch a live WWE event! Yummy yummy...not one of those dumb tours where you know who's gonna win and all though.
7) Go around being an ambassador of God...however, this really doesn't seem like one of those once-in-a-lifetime things you wanna do at least once before you die. It should be something you do everyday around the most boring people in the most boring places, no?

7 things I can do

1) Be late! It's in my genes, I tell you.
2) Be lazy and indisciplined! There's always this little voice in my head that does a remarkable job of sweet-talking me into lazing off every time I feel like doing work. So again, no fault of mine.
3) Be lame! HAH! I admit it! And I'm proud of it! But of course, too much of a good thing is never good...
4) Recall jokes and riddles! I'm pretty sure now I have a prepared joke or riddle for 70% of situations.
5) Imitate friends, lecturers, family members, and animals. Some claim I can bark more like a dog than actual dogs.
6) Conjure games of all sorts, given time - I used to spend a lot of time doodling board games, card games, party games, and even computer games that would "someday" be marketed worldwide. Oh yeah, check that for "Things I plan to do before I die" as well.
7) Watch TV with no sound, no clue of what the story is about, and who's starring in it till 4am.

7 celebrity crushes

1) Blossom of the Powerpuff Girls. Wipe that smirk off your face, smart alec. At least it's not Bubbles.
2) Leela of Futurama. Oh, and I suppose you've a better chance of dating Britney Spears?
3) Farah, 2nd runner-up of Malaysian Idol 2.
4) Diana DeGarmo, runner-up of American Idol 3. Hah! I'm into Idol losers.
5) Nell Ng, who played Joo Lee in the aforementioned play. No lah, just main-main suka only.
6) You know, I was into this band called B*Witched a long, long time ago. You might remember them for hits like "Blame It On The Weatherman", "Rollercoaster", "C'est La Vie", and "Baby Hit Me One More Time". All right, so I was kidding about one of the songs.
7) Myself. Whaddaya mean I'm not a celebrity? You're reading my blog, aren't you?

Yeeps, there doesn't seem to be a single trace of normalcy in my list. All right, all right, you may have my place, Nicole Kidman. And that's just because I like Moulin Rouge!

7 often repeated words

1) Ah ee leh (actually derieved from the religiously-insensitive "Ya Allah").
2) Oh shoot (notice the absence of a comma).
3) Ting lei (borderline Cantonese swear word, meaning "block you" - don't ask).
4) For lack of a better word (used when I am...uh, for lack of a better word, at a loss for words).
5) Ok lah, erm... (try as I might, I simply CANNOT start a sentence without that - you might've even noticed it spreading to some of the dialogue my characters use).
6) Aijorrr... (variant of "Ah ee leh")
7) Please stop praising me (self-explainatory).

7 physical traits I see in the opposite sex

1) Alas, I don't look at the opposite sex - they look at me.
2) Hahahahahaha!
3) Oops, sorry. Ahem.
4) Now let's get serious.
5) Uhhh...does not wear overly flashy clothes? Cos you know who's gonna be paying for them eventually - now that's what you call long-term thinking.
6) Doesn't talk too fast. I'm intimidated by people who spew 5 second paragraphs at me, then demand an intelligent response from me.
7) Speaking of which, intelligence! But not more than that which I possess! Ooooh, feel the male chauvinist pigginess of it all! Oink oink oink! Okay, what I really mean is that she doesn't end up being a show-off obsessed with pointing out your mistakes - it happens to both guys and girls.


All right, so I cheated on the last one. Sue me.

Hey wait...I'm supposed to pass it on to someone, am I not? Well, you know what they say: somtime, somewhere, someone's got to make a stand. And I'm putting an end to this madness - DO NOT CONTINUE THIS TAG! DO NOT! Cos if you pass it on to:

1-2 people: A 600-pound gorilla shall swallow you whole.
3-4 people: A 600-pound gorilla shall chew on you slowly, then swallow you whole.
5-6 people: A 600-pound gorilla shall snare you upside down for 3 days, chew on you slowly, then swallow you whole.
7-8 people: A 600-pound gorilla shall threaten you with obscene phone calls for 3 weeks, snare you upside down for 3 days, chew on you slowly, then swallow you whole.
9-10 people: A 600-pound gorilla shall threaten you with obscene phone calls for 3 weeks, snare you upside down for 3 days, chew on you slowly, swallow you whole, then spit you out and threaten you with obscene phone calls for the rest of your life.

And if you don't pass this tag on to anyone: Said gorilla shall run out of handphone credit, buy a snare two sizes too large, bite his tongue chewing you, and get indigestion from you.

Peace! ;^)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 2

Been writing and re-writing this countless times in my mind...a million things could go wrong here, narrowing it down to doom and gloom in the latter stages of the story. Btw, I'm seriously entertaining thoughts of not having a single "he" for this one. =p

May smiled at a curly-haired girl she recognised from her class on her way to the canteen during reccess. The girl smiled back for a split second, then looked the other way.
Sheesh. The same thing had pretty much been happening since she came. The other girls chatted and laughed with one another, but once she tried to mingle with them they hushed up and walked away. It was a newcomer's worst nightmare.
Thankfully Jean stayed faithfully by her side the whole time, pointing out everything about the school worth noting to her. Almost each time a classmate or teacher walked past she would start rambling off about how the person acted in class, what she felt about them and lots of other stuff May decided to take with a pinch of salt. Apparently, the others didn't talk much around Jean either.
"Oh, wow," Jean checked her watch. "Five minutes till reccess ends. Better grab a bite quickly."
"Sure," May replied. "Uhh...Jean? Mind if I ask you something?"
"Is it just me, or is everyone ignoring us?"
The ever-present smile on her face disappeared for a while, then popped back up again. "Oh, don't be silly. They're just shy, that's all."
Weird, thought May. Shouldn't she be the one who was shy?
"Hey," Jean whispered to her. "Better hurry up. They're here."
"Them," she pointed with her chin. "Saras and her gang."
May looked up and saw the group of Indian girls she noticed in class earlier. The way they walked reminded her very much of those stereotypical cheerleader cliques in American teen movies - one leaderlike girl at the front flanked by less outstanding ones, marching proudly in a triangular formation.
They stopped at the food counter where she was. For reasons incomprehensible to May, Jean started tugging frantically at her sleeve. "Why, hey," the leader sneered at May. "You're the new girl in our class. What was your name again?"
"May. Yours?"
"This is such a coincidence! I'm called May too!"
"Wow! No kidding?"
"Of course I'm kidding," the girl laughed, prompting the rest of the gang to echo in cackles. "I've a much cooler name, duh."
May felt her face go red. They were plainly making a joke at her expense, but she didn't feel like retorting or anything. She was, after all, the new girl.
Then the bell rang. Perfect timing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 5)

Continuing in the ever-popular Cendol series, today we have the final installment sitting pretty at No.5. I was at first apprehensive about writing this, fearful of adding too much to what was already good. But as you sharper ones might spot in the last line, it was a decision I ended up not regretting - it provided the neccessary closure and affirmation that there would be no more Cendol stories. Kind of like how Luke Skywalker defeating Darth Vader signalled the end of Star Wars. But then again...

Pick No.5: A Final Cendol Story
First posted on 6th July 2005

The sky was cloudy, maybe even to the verge of a late afternoon downpour. My car rattled down the starkly empty road in Sri Petaling back home, me and Friend putting up a great fight to stay awake. For my part, at least. Nothing, and truly nothing, would stop me from getting home and curl up in bed ASAP, I told myself.
Already the strangest time and place for A Final Cendol Story to take place. And yet it did.

Before I even realised it, my car had parked itself by the road, right before the Cendol Stall of lore. It was by no means a calculated decision - I was still deadset on giving in to my sleepiness at the traffic lights five seconds ago. Something about the lonely white Cendol truck framed by waving trees, gloomy clouds, and everything but people just struck me. The same manner run-down houses rumoured to be haunted always made you look twice, and sometimes even go in.

Only a middle-aged Indian lady stood there, tending to both the rojak and Cendol. I couldn't recall seeing her there before, there usually were some Indian men in funny black and white costumes.
"Dia adik saya."
Oh. She was the elder sister to one of them, in case you didn't get that.

Without me even noticing, she was already filling two bowls of shaved ice with brown sugar solution and coconut milk. The ladle hit the bottom of the big pot, echoing a half-hearted thunk, thunk. Two scoops of beans for me, two scoops for Friend.
I sipped long and hard. It was, as the woman had earlier asked me, nearing six. Soon cars of tired people longing to forget the day they'd been through would throng the streets. Yellow and black buses ferrying yapping kids home where they stopped yapping. Even the Indian man in black and white, who appeared from nowhere, was folding up the tables and packing the stall umbrellas. A big curtain drew itself down on the whole day. It felt like something big was about to happen, something everyone was preparing for. The night? The rain? Their homes?

The last of the plastic chairs stacked up. We had apparently been their last customers for the day.

"Well, that was...neccessary." Friend said to me as we drove away, the Cendol stall fading in the distance. I winked back. "Told ya."

Monday, October 17, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 1

Alllllll-ritey then, crack your knuckles and stretch real wide, 'cos after an agonising story-less week, we're geared up for a neuuuuuuu e-raaaaaa!
All right, so the final outcome deviated HUGELY from what I had in mind, but we seem to have something in the vein of "The Secret Room" here. Not overly fanciful nor "deep", but entertaining enough to last a good 20-plus Chapters. Ending's not set in stone yet, all in all don't expect too much and we should have enough reasons to spend more time online in the coming months. =p

Hoh boy. Here it is.
May's eyes darted all over the unimpressive brick building. The weathered walls ran across the tall blocks inside, as if trying best to hide the occupants inside from prying eyes. She followed them all the way back and to the front again, leading to a big steel door which boomed "ST. FRANCESCA'S GIRLS' SCHOOL"
Sigh. May was, as you might've already guessed, the new girl in town. She'd just moved into town, albeit reluctantly, with her parents last week and it was to be her first day in school.

"Oh? What did you say your name was again?" The plump lady lowered her glasses and peered at her.
"May Leong See Mei," she repeated.
"Hmm," the lady flipped through her register. "Oh yes, I see your name here. Take a seat."
Of course, a million pair of eyes were now studying her thoroughly like a Chemisty textbook.
May made her way to an unoccupied desk at the back, clutching her backpack tightly in front of her for mental security. Meanwhile, some fleeting glances of her classmates revealed a class not unlike her previous one - mostly Chinese, a smattering of Indian girls sitting together, all with the same disinterested look on their faces.
"Pst," the round-faced girl sitting next to her whispered. "Hello. Name's Jean."
She smiled back. "May. Nice to meet you."
Before they could continue, the lady in front cleared her throat. "Now, everyone please be nice to May and make her feel welcome. And in case you didn't know, I'm Mrs. Ruby, the form teacher."
She nodded sheepishly, expecting everyone to greet her in some manner. However, not a squeak was heard, save for some stifled yawns.
Well hey, it's just the first day, she thought as she started taking down some notes from the board.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 6)

I know, I know, this should've been up yesterday, but I was hoping to save it for Sunday to make it even more that's what I call a sorry excuse. All apologies aside, today's piece is quite simply one of my most heartfelt ever. I'm not the sort who regularly runs around claiming to have been "touched" or "spoken to" by God, but divine inspiration or not, I dedicate this to all who've ever been asked why they spend so much time in boring ol' church. May we continue making him smile the way a baby does when she says "Papa" for the first time. =)

Pick No.6: Fools In Love
First posted on 8th March 2005

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart

Sunday morning in church. As usual, I could've easily said. But suddenly I stopped singing and looked around. Something just seemed strange today.

I'll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

A thought crossed my mind. How would I feel if this was my first time here? It was a remarkably absurd sight. Old ladies, retired men, housewives, working adults, college students, and school children were standing staring at an LCD screen. A lady stood on stage, but they weren't listening to her sing, nor was she listening to them sing. In fact, nobody was singing for anyone else to hear. It was as though they were singing for themselves only, yet everyone sang their hearts out.

I'm coming back to the heart of worship

As if on cue a large portion of the crowd lifted their arms in the air. Some raised one arm, some raised two. A good number put them over their hearts, and there even were those who performed actions for each verse.

And it's all about You
It's all about You Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You
It's all about You Jesus

The lady on stage motioned her hand in a circular manner, signalling for the pianist to play again. She said some words many in the crowd had been hearing all their lives, yet they nodded like they were truly touched. Once again they repeated the song from the beginning, word for word. Not a very entertaining thing to do.

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart

Incredibly, everyone was still listening to it like it was the first time. Every single word spoke to them like the most beautiful piece of poetry ever written. And this was an often-repeated song they'd sang over and over again.

I'll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I smiled to myself. How foolish they appeared to the world. Indeed, they were fools. Fools in love.

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
It's all about You Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You
It's all about You Jesus

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 7)

Yikes, No. 7 already? Today's piece, a rather recent one, touches on the oft-mentioned subject of time management. Ouch, what painful words. The inspiration for this came at the time of the year when everything was moving at full speed and everyone was complaining how busy they were - resulting in a delightful ditty poking fun at how our 24 hours always seem "stolen" from us. Otherwise, it's a reflection of how terribly I waste my time - how very, very ironic that I spend so much of it blogging.

Pick No.7: Borrowed Time
First posted on 12th July 2005

'Scuse me sir, 'scuse me sir,
Mind sparing a pinch of Time?

Of course not, you haven't given back
That chockful you borrowed last week.

Oh, that! I think Mr. Homework has it
I recall him saying he was running short.

But didn't that happen last month?
That was quite a handful I loaned you.

That was no fault of mine, no it wasn't,
Miss Friends came and demanded for it.

She couldn't have taken it all, surely!
There was more than your share.

Yes there was, but have you forgotten?
That Lil' Sleep came begging for scraps.

And you gave him more than he needed?
I couldn't say no to those tear-stained eyes...

Sigh...will you ever learn?
What about that gift-wrapped box I gave you on New Year's?

It would still be here, had they not come knockin',
Aunt Leisure and Uncle Laidbackness.

Those two, never up to any good,
What did they say to ask for it?

They needed to feed their hungry children
TV Junior, Compudear, all the rest.

That ladle, filled to the brim, while the holidays?
Oops! Left it in Grandma Family's home.

How about that cartful on Sunday?
Ack! Stashed it in Pastor Church's coat.

And that one glass I passed you over the fence?
Hmm...don't know, don't know where it went.

Truth be told, I think you got it all wrong
They told me there was a prowling thief
He might've sneaked your Time off
Oh's a last pinch I can spare.

Why, thank you, kind sir!
I'll manage this one the best I can.

The Hardest Writer's Block I've Had To Write

Hey, you there.
Why the strange title, you ask? Sighhh...let me explain.
Ghostopia has been discontinued for the time being. Yups, you heard it here first!
It's never easy putting an end to something, more so when it's something you've grown so attached to you spend hour upon hour nurturing it, wishing it eventually becomes something you can be proud of.
Problems start appearing and you try to fix them, but they breed more problems and before you know it, what was supposedly perfect is now riddled with flaws. That's when the what ifs and if onlys come out.
What makes people drag themselves on in such situations? It borrows references from the Battered Wife Syndrome - you know, about wives who are abused daily but still continue living with their husbands. One, there always is this glimmer of hope that things can change. You keep looking at it from all points of view that ultimately come only from yourself, and draw the conclusion that things aren't all bad.
Then, there is the matter of pride. Pride not in the regular I'm-better-than-you way, but in not admitting that you were wrong all the while. Knowingly or not, all of us have this hidden in some part of us, be it seen to others or not. For a battered wife to walk away from her marriage would be akin to painting a sign that says "So I was a fool all those years" for all to see, and that's difficult in more ways than we can imagine.
End of referencing, I sincerely apologise if any lines were crossed.
The past 2-3 months have been a constant struggle for me to maintain the balance of entertaining readers of this blog and actually furthering myself as a writer. At the end of the day, I always have to ask the question of which objective I set out to accomplish back when I started this blog. Or is there any way both can be fulfilled at the same time?
And when exactly did my blog stop becoming entertaining?
Of course, the lesson learnt is that writing comes in many forms and mediums. There's a time and place for dramatic fast-paced tales, and another for long-drawn multi-layered "novelisations". Twisted Tales is meant for the former, and Ghostopia is the latter. I know, I know, I've mentioned this countless times in previous Writer's Blocks, but this really was the problem all the while. In fact, I'm kicking myself now for not noticing it when I've been mentioning it in almost every Writer's Block. Nope, Ghostopia did not suck, and I'll do a whole lot of word-eating if I don't manage to turn it into something brilliant in the future.
Indeed, it makes me feel very much like a lousy writer and a fraud that I won't get to deliver the climax after having led all of you on the thrilling-at-times ride that was Ghostopia. But unpopular decision or not, I don't care - I desperately need the rush I felt writing new twists three times a week. Hey, that reminds me why I named it "Twisted Tales" in the first place! =^)
So goodbye Darren, goodbye Kat, goodbye Nelson, let's fire ourselves up for the - FINALLY! - fourth story. I see, with my mind's eye, a story inspired by the movie "Simon Birch" and a conversation by two secondary-school boys I had some time back. Aha...the mists are parting, and I see a secondary school...some rowdy gangsters...of course, a slapdash of puppy love lies in the midst. Interested? I know I sure am.
New story's likely gonna be up in a week, if I'm a man of my word, and every chance I get I'll re-write that darned Ghostopia. Will have to work out a system for that - either posting each Chapter or the whole story straight. Lots of structuring to fix, plus getting rid of those plot devices I ended up not using. Remember the mysterious girl who sang at The Haunt? That was supposed to be Kat's alter ego, hohoho. And I still can't believe nobody noticed - every performance in that place was by a dead artiste! Selena, Elvis, John Lennon, John Denver, Kurt I hear your foreheads smacking?
Well well, that concludes the hardest Writer's Block I've had to write. And it just had to come right smack during our big month of October. But everyone knows there's good and bad to all, so do check back for the good!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 8)

Check it out, I think you're all gonna be surprised at the inclusion of this one in the Top 10. Of course, "I Interviews Myself" won't be winning any awards for Most Thought-Provoking Article anytime soon, but oh, does the tongue-in-cheek-ness tickle me so. If anyone were to ask what the deal was with my blog, I'd direct them straight to this piece - it's a total introduction of sorts to how Twisted Tales works. And before anyone can say "schizophrenic", let us take a good look at...

No.8 Pick: I Interviews Myself
First published on 28th June 2005

To commemorate the recent 100th Chapter posted on Twisted Tales, we had our ever-eager journalist I sit down for a talk over some buttered bread and tea with esteemed Twisted Tales founder, Myself. Some textbook formalities and complimentary chitter-chatter later, here we are:

I: First off, Mr. Myself, what do you think makes Twisted Tales different from the multitude of blogs we have out there?

M: Different? Of course my blog is different! You dont' see any other blog where the blogger talks to himself via a fictional interview, do you? (chuckles to self) But seriously though, I wouldn't call my blog totally one-of-a-kind. True, you don't see many other guys posting continued stories as 90% of their blog's content, but this sort of thing has certainly been done before in other formats. To answer your question then, I'd say my blog is more marketable than regular blogs. Marketable not in the sense of ripping off cash, but it's less personal and more accessible to both people who know me and those who don't.

I:'re not earning any money from this, are you?

M: On good months, I can get up to fifteen thousand bucks, but June was pretty poor - less than six thousand. OF COURSE I'M NOT EARNING ANYTHING, BOZO.

I: Where did you get the idea to start Twisted Tales from?

M: Now that's tough to say. I became aware of the blogging culture only a few months before my blog started, mostly from friends who pestered me to visit theirs. Few months later, and I was half-torn between starting one myself, but I quote a collegemate: "Oh no, you're starting one too? I swear, 80 percent of the blogs of our friends are all about 'Stress/ Exams/ Backstabbing'. That's when I knew I had to do something different. Couple that with my recently-surfaced intention to start writing stories again, and you had this "slog" (story log) thing coming up. As for the "random stories with characters that appear out of nowhere, with everyone adding in their two cents' worth" element, I credit that to my friend Tommy who related much about his D&D (Dungeons and Dragons, a pencil and paper role-playing game) endeavours to me.

I: How much time do you spend on your blog? It does seem like you spend most of your online time blogging.

M: Can't deny that, I do spend a lot of my online time blogging. Maybe it's unfair to say most, but a lot is true. A good Chapter usually takes at least 45 minutes, depending on inspiration and how much effort I'm willing to put in. However, sometimes I get away with less than 20 minutes for dialogue-heavy Chapters - which are much easier to write and fill up the "Space Quota" faster. On the other hand, some writings stretch out over a period of days - for example the recent "Tammy And The Mirror". Just between you and me, those darned reCAPPENINGS are becoming quite a nuisance too.

I: Wow! 45 minutes for a Chapter? How do you go about writing it anyway?

M: Hohoho, I bet you're thinking I plan it out nicely on paper, do bits of research from books and the Internet, write it once, then tidy up a draft. Neh-heh! That's what professional writers do, and yours truly's not even sure how to spell "professional" correctly. I take so long because I have a terribly short attention span, what with MSN, checking mail, surfing, homework, and the phone. I know, I know, I should lock myself in a room and get into "the zone" if I'm serious about writing, but we can't all be that disciplined. I do, however, run through my drafts at least once before posting them.

I: A reader recently asked where you get your ideas from, and you said the bathroom. Do elaborate.

M: Wasn't it clear enough already? You can't do much but think while you're bathing, can you? Singing's not really my thing, unless there's no one at home.

I: Maybe I should change the question to "Where do you get your ideas from?".

M: (clicks tongue) A predicatable question like that deserves a predictable answer: Ideas aren't things which pop into your mind when you snap your fingers, they require a step-by-step thought process, coupled with a clear intention to get ideas in the first place from stuff you read and see. This process is what many people just refuse to call creativity. The more often you engage in this mindset, the more creative you become. In my humble opinion, of course.

I: Interesting. Now, what's this about you thinking Ghostopia has flopped? You're not going to just ditch the whole story, are you?

M: Good gosh, no, I never said anything like that. Maybe I did imply in some Writer's Blocks that some parts of Ghostopia were flawed or lacked something, but in no ways it has flopped. It still, I'm sure, will turn out the strongest story I've written yet. It's just that we're now at the middle part of the story where the novelty is lost, and the end is nowhere to be seen yet. It's kind of like Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, it ain't too good or too bad, but you just need it to pull through. If there's one mistake I've made with Ghostopia, it's making the story too big for it's own good. Not enough character development to go round for everyone.

I: It has been observed that the language used in your stories is excruciatingly "clean". What say you about this?

M: Just shows how creative I am for using clean words to do dirty jobs, huh?

I: All right, we're gonna have to do a last question here. You're not going to stop writing so soon, are you? Where do you hope to go with Twisted Tales?

M: That's two questions, isn't it? You lousy interviewer. I can't make lofty claims of running Twisted Tales forever, seeing that there's nothing at the moment preventing me from stopping. I mean, I could just end Ghostopia in the next Chapter, leave the site idle, spend the rest of my life playing online games, and there wouldn't be much of a squeak. There was this recent article in The Star on famous blogs, and surely there's this hollow in my heart that wishes I get featured in one of those someday. But nahh...if you do it for fame, then you're not passionate. And if you're not passionate, you don't deserve to earn fame. Hmm..I'm talking in circles again, am I not? Perhaps Twisted Tales is to me what a sketchbook is for an artist - he sketches pictures of beautiful things he comes across, then brings it home to refine on canvas. The stories on Twisted Tales are mightily ripe for improvement, seeing how the format of a Chapter per few paragraphs isn't at all conducive to continuous writing. So yah, sometime in the future those 43 Chapters of Blogspot and 25 Chapters of The Secret Room might end up being refined into an actual story. Who knows?

I: So you mean Twisted Tales might not make it big, but the ideas that result from it could?

M: In a springboard sort of way, yes. My, my, amazing what talking to me has done for your intelligence. You should hang out with people like me more often.

I: Will try to, Mr.Myself. Well, thanks lots for your time, I'll get this written and posted up in no time. Now let's do the Handshake Of Mutual Respect thing they always do after interviews.

M: Beh, get lost. No way I'm shaking hands with myself.

Isn't it sad what happens when you run out of ideas for your blog?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 61-66

Kat's story continues: While walking home dejectedly after the bad rehearsal, her father unexpectedly shows up in his car and tells her that Mr. Rogers is in fact his old friend. Her father is trying very hard to scout for better pianists so that he won't take in Katrina. This, plus the poor rehearsal, makes her very dejected till Mr. Harold tells her that Mr. Rogers still wants her very badly for his rehearsal next Sunday.
Fast forward to the day of the rehearsal, and her bus is late. Suddenly her father appears again and offers to give her a lift. After much thought, she finally relents for fear of being late. On the way though, they start arguing over her dad's divorce. This leads to her enraged father bringing her on a terror ride to an unknown part of town. Terrified and not knowing what to do, Katrina causes the car to overturn by pulling the emergency brake.
When she comes to her senses, she becomes even more fearful of beind put in prison for causing the accident. She flees from the scene, ignoring the pain caused by her weak heart.
She finally ends up at a deserted alley, too tired to continue running. As she collapses to the ground, the pain becomes so severe that she cannot move. The more she fears for her life, the more painful it becomes. Unable to breathe, Katrina feels even more terrified when she sees a man coming for her. This proves to be the final straw and she dies, leading us into Chapter 67.

(And for all you forgetful ones who have no clue where we were before Kat's story began:)

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters, 51-55

Darren and Nelson find themselves at The Haunt, waiting for the meeting to start. Kat appears to tell them that the meeting has been cancelled, reason being that the Spooks have discovered their meeting place and are coming to arrest them.
The three then flee through the back door, meeting Mortie in the back alley. Nelson tells Mortie that he shall be joining their meeting, and even offers to hold the meeting in his place. Mortie agrees to that, tells Kat to inform the others, and they're off.
When they reach his place, Nelson begins asking Mortie about the previous escape attempt. Suspicious, Mortie finally figures out that Nelson was one of the three survivors.
Things get more complicated when Kat, Fletcher and Amelia walk in (Todd and Scarlet have been arrested) - Nelson recognises Fletcher and Amelia as Lucas and Andrea, albeit them having changed their names to hide from the authorities. Fletcher and Nelson then get into a minor argument over how Nelson left the group previously, and it boils over to a debate, invloving the others, about living again.
Suddenly, Kat speaks up on her reason of wanting to live again - simply, hate. This prompts her to begin the story of her death, leading us into Chapter 56.

Writer's Block

W-W-Waitttt...didn't I say there'ld be no Writer's Block for this month? But fret not...this ain't gonna be a "moment of inspiration" entry, rather a review of the just-concluded Kat saga which might have overstayed its welcome.
Again, I have to be straight-up: you could tell from the start it was going to be nearly impossible making it brief, interesting, and revealing all at once. I had to build up three vastly different characters in Kat, her mom, and her dad from scratch, AND create situations that would eventually lead to her death without being too direct or boring - all in the space of eleven chapters (Okay, so that last one was the equivalent of two). Not enough.

Once more, my two worst fears lingered throughout - poor planning and over-ambition. Throwing in a whole new story in the midst of my Ghostopia build-up was probably a mistake and momentum-killer. However, I still hold strong that it wouldn't work so well if Kat "told" the story to them. Much shorter, sure, but ten times more boring. If I were to rewrite Ghostopia, I'd rather shelf the three stories of Kat's, Darren's, and Nelson's deaths to the start, before Darren comes in, or neatly intersperse each story at junctures of the story. That way you could also easily switch between the story being told solely from Darren's point of view to other characters as well. Yes, that would be really good. =)

So yeah, the sudden throw-in of Kat having a weak heart seemed pretty random and unbased. What can I say? That's where the "poor planning" came in, forcing me to change gears midway. She was originally supposed to die wholly out of "fear", but I suddenly realised how cringe-worthy that would be. Plus, the plot device that I wanted the "fear" to facilitate would benefit if I chose this ending instead. My, my, aren't we talking in riddles. Would love to elaborate more, but that would be running risk of leaking out spoilers for the upcoming parts. One last thing to note: gotta remember to tone down the exaggerate-ness in future. It reminded me of Final Destination.

To answer Charmaine's question: nope, this isn't the ending to the story, it's just the ending of Kat's story. We've still got a climax to attend to, remember? However, I really am clueless where we go from here. If anything, I gotta first work out what Kat's story achieved. Does it make Nelson less protesting of their escape? Does it make Darren want to live again more? Or is it the first domino in a long chain of events linking everyone together into the ending?

It does make for very interesting possibilities, if you think about it. Only problem is how incredibly difficult it would be to execute them while giving each character enough room to perform. And of course, sustain your fickle interests. Oh well, I used to get depressed by problems like these, but let's just see what the reel plays out. This is, after all, just a blog.

Till the next Chapter, stay safe and don't do anything I wouldn't do! 8-D

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 66: Kat's Story, Conclusion

(For the first time in history, I shall be skipping a reCAPPENING! Or rather, I'll delay it for a chapter. 'Stead of your regular multiplies of five, this one's gonna be held till after this chapter 'cos I figured it'll be much neater to just tie up the whole Kat saga in the next reCAPPENING. Not like anyone cares anyway =p)

When Katrina's eyes opened the first thing she saw was the stiff body of her dad trapped beneath the mangled wreck that was the floor of the car. There was a deep gash across his temple, blood gushing out of it in a most unsightly manner.
She tried to move. A jolt of pain shot to her neck, the sort you felt after a bad night's sleep. Multiplied by thrice, probably.
"Katrina..." he seethed. "What have you done?"
A crowd had gathered outside, some looking on curiously and some trying to help them out. Several burly men were removing the doors by the hinges, yelling at them all the time if they were okay. She didn't know what to say or do.
"Someone's going to have to pay for this," her dad kept repeating. "The car was brand new."
At last they managed to get them both out. Apart from a sore neck, Katrina wasn't all that injured. Her dad, on the other hand, was screaming in pain every chance he got.
"Get me the cops!" he yelled, then turned to glare at her. "I'll let them know this was no accident."
The blood drained from her face. Without even realising it, she had presented him the perfect chance to get rid of her. The cops would come, listen to her dad's story, dust for fingerprints, and successfully convict her of attempted murder or something. Then everyone would say bad things about her. Mr. Rogers wouldn't hire her.
What would mom say?
She felt dizzy, almost unable to stand. She kept closing her eyes, hoping each time that the car wreck would disappear when they were opened. But all it did was become uglier.
What would mom say?
As the crowd began to swell, ominous grey clouds rumbled in the sky. A light drizzle was starting to come down. Were those police sirens wailing in the distance?
What would mom say?
The overpowering rush of fear and desperation was all too frightening for the sixteen-year old girl to bear. Amidst the staring faces and scattered voices, she got up and fled the scene.
"Katrina!" she heard her dad call out. "Where do you think you're going? You're mad!"
Maybe she was. Katrina kept running and running till her shoes were all muddied. Every once in a while she would stop to clutch her aching sides, but when she heard her father's voice in her head she plodded on in agony.
Finally, drenched and utterly breathless, she found herself in a narrower-than-usual alley. They shouldn't be able to find me here.
How long had she been running? Maybe twenty minutes or so - she couldn't tell. All she knew that she could run no more. She slumped beside a wet garbage bin and suddenly realised how exhausted she was. Her heels were numb. Her arms were limp. And the pain in her chest - it was coming back. She didn't feel it at first, but every time her heart pumped it became more stabbing.
What has happened? Oh, what in the world has happened?
Katrina looked up. The tall aged walls stretched high to the dark sky, as though making sure she couldn't escape. Stacks of precariously-arranged cartons piled up at the far end of the alley. All around there was not a soul to be seen.
I don't know where I am now. And even if I did get home, I would be in serious trouble with everyone. Dad. Mom. Mr. Harold. Mr. Rogers. Mom especially. She wanted it so badly for me, and now I've ruined everything.
Katrina couldn't hold back her tears. "Help me," she wept to nobody. "I don't know what to do now."
Then the pain came again. She tried her very best to ignore it, but this time it was so terrible that it felt like a vice around her heart. The more she tried to control her breathing, the tighter the vice squeezed. There was no strength left in her to scream.
Breathe! I must try to breathe!
But she couldn't.
At that moment Katrina experienced it. It was far worse than any stage fright, any fear of being scolded, or even the fear of being in the accident. It was all of those fears rolled up together and made into something so utterly monstrous, far more than an average young girl's mind could take, that it left her paralysed on the ground. The fear of knowing that her life could end right here.
Very quickly the crippling effect spread to her whole body. She couldn't tell if her inability to move was due to the pain or the fear. The two seemed to have melded into one.
For a very long while Katrina lay there, trying to move.
She didn't even know if she did - all she felt was the pattering rain washing her strength away.
Help me, she tried to scream. I don't want to die.
Was that a man standing in front, looking down on her?
She couldn't tell. She died the next instant.

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 9)

Whoopsie...a day late, am I not? Blame it on the still-in-progress conclusion to Kat's saga which whished my whole day away yeterday, making me forget about this till it was too late. No worries though, that means you're gonna be getting the next installment in a mere TWO days! Let the good times roll, I say.
Speaking of good times, today's number is part one of a very popular Writer's Block series I still cherish a lot. It's doubly satisfying when I know that I was never one for descriptive writing - the sort where pretty much nothing but swaying palm trees happens. Yups, you guessed it - "The Cendol Stall" is the closest I think I've ever come to a regular spur-of-the-moment inspirational blog entry. After the overused portrayal of mamak stalls and Indian barbers as muhibbah places, it suddenly struck me how simple and down-to-earth a cendol stall could be. No frills, no Bangsa Malaysia, just a shelter for all trapped in the heat.
Unfortunately, I still regret the last third paragraph which seems overly personal and VERY out of place. But hey - I shouldn't be harping on that if I'm gonna be learning from the moral of the story. So grab a rickety stool, find a shady spot, and enjoy your delicious bowl now!

No. 9 Pick: The Cendol Stall
First posted on January 14th 2005

It was a blazing hot afternoon, like most Malaysian afternoons are. You know, the sort that makes you all sticky and agitated and envisioning mattresses and pillows everywhere? Yeap, it was 3 something in the afternoon, and there I was, driving back home...
Oh sun, go hide behind a cloud or something. I could barely keep my eyes open. My brain was overflowing with...brain-dust, if I may coin that term.
Down a long, long stretch of road in Sri Petaling. It wasn't really that long, but it did seem so, given the speed I was driving at (why does my petrol meter like the letter "E" so much?). Noo! When would this ever end? Traffic light! Great.
Oh joy, a red light. Condemning me straight into the deepest bowels of misery. I could almost feel the wicked, wicked traffic light cackling away.
Green. It HAS to turn green now. I said NOW. NOW! HEY!! WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM ANYWAY? There were no cars coming from the opposite direction, and still I @#$(^%*#@%>:{&^?!!!!
Abandon all hope, laughed the hysterical red light. I have captured Green Light and taken him far, far away where you shall never find him.
Aha! But what was that coming from the opposite way? Another car from afar, racing full speed to try and make it just before the lights turned red.
Consider yourself fortunate, snarled Red Light. I shall get you next time. The other car slowed down, coming to a halt eventually and I realised that THIS WAS IT!! Vroom, vroom, GREEN! I was FREEEeeEeeEEeEEeeeeee......till the next traffic light.
Then it appeared. A beacon of hope, so inconspicuous that anyone could've missed it. An oasis in the midst of the desert of hopelessness.It was a cendol stall. How much I would've loved a bowl, but this little guy in a suit and tie, sitting on my shoulder said: forget it, you're broke. Save every bit you can.
But there was no possible way I could resist. Just one bowl. One ringgit wouldn't make a difference.
And so my weary soul (not to mention butt) plonked itself onto a tattered plastic stool. Deftly the Indian man scooped a spoonful of red beans and those long green stuff into a bowl. Rrrr, rrrr, rrr went the spinning block of ice as it was turned into shavings. Then came the syrupy brown sugar and my favourite part of all, the giant pot he opens and ladles coconut milk out of. Clonk, clonk.
This seemed familiar. I'd once always sat down for a bowl of cendol before going for tuition back in Form 3. Back then things, I simply had to let go of the past. It was dangerous to keep harping on memories. Faces came to my mind, faces of friends whom I had knew and loved through the years. It wasn't like I would never see them again, but it just wouldn't be the same. It was more than the people involved, it was the circumstances and the times.
I took another slurp of the sweet liquid, worried. Sooner or later, this bowl of yummy cendol would come to an end. And it was time to pay for it and go back into the hot sun. I had still so much to learn, to see, to experience, and I just didn't know how. A final gulp, and I was done.
"Terima kasih, bos."
Then the sun went behind a cloud, casting a much needed shadow over the people at the stall. From the hardworking Indian man, to the loud-mouthed Chinese businessman, to the chattering Malay ladies, all continued tucking into their cendol with much pleasure.
Have you had your bowl of cendol today?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Special October Feature: Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales (No. 10)

October 3rd is the day, and like I promised - choice No. 10 for my favourite entries of the past year. It's from the "spiritual" era of my blog, back when the meaning of life and all was contemplated quite regularly by me. Should be doing more of this stuff when Writer's Block resumes, no? Anyways, this ditty isn't exceptionally fresh or anything, but I like the language in certain stanzas. Does make for a good throw-away read too. And since self-praise is no praise, let us now go to...

No. 10 Pick: The Snowman
First posted on February 27th 2005

The snowman grinned at me
I saw not why he chose to.
"You, my friend, have not a clue
What shall soon happen to you."

"Here you stand all alone
Laughing kids pass you by.
They talk, they skip, they run
All you can do is sigh."

"It shall not be long
When out comes the sun.
Weep in vain, cry in silence
Your life will then be done. "

"Eyes to stone, nose to sticks
Body to snow, limbs to twigs
Much as you try to resist,
You must die for Death's sake."

Still he stared right at me
Eyes of stone twinkling bright
It befuddled me ever so
How he took his death so light.

And behold! A cloud parted
In pride came his murderer
With great pity I gazed
Seeing him leave forever.

"You once were adored
A reason for living
New ones will take your place
Who remembers your being?"

Silently his body drooped
It spread across the ground
Once a grinning snowman stood
Now here remained a mound.

"Oh, how dark it is today
For one to depart this way
Nobody knew, nobody cared
Nor was there a call to stay."

A child scooped up the mound
Carried it across the field
She patted it on a patch
Where a new snowman was built.

If only I knew
Why the snowman grinned
If only the human
Knew why I grinned.

Ghostopia, Chapter 65: Kat's Story, Part Ten

"Aren't we there yet?" An eternity seemed to have passed, yet the car wasn't stopping still.
Her father kept staring ahead stoned-faced.
"Dad?" Katrina repeated herself, louder this time. "You better hurry up. We're already five minutes late."
"We're not going to the rehearsal."
A lump grew in her throat. "What?"
"I said, we're not going. There're some things we need to make clear between the two of us first."
Her lower lip quivered. The car was moving too fast for her to escape in any way. "'re scaring me."
He didn't say anything. They were now in a shoddier part of town which was certainly out of the way to Mr. Rogers' place.
"Stop it!" she tried in vain to stay calm. "Where are you taking me?"
"This won't take long, dear. We just need to settle our differences, that's all."
Katrina grew frantic. Didn't he mention in the phone call that he could easily "arrange an accident" for her? It wouldn't be beyond him to do something like that. And there was no way she could make the car - which seemed to be going way too fast - stop.
"DAD!" she grabbed his hand. "Stop the car right now!"
The side of his mouth cocked up wickedly. He accelerated even more, terrifying her on purpose. She wanted to wrest control of the steering wheel away from him, but was afraid this would make the car go out of control.
Oh Lord, what am I going to do now? Katrina could feel her clammy hands trembling. Her breath was coming out in short, frenzied bursts.
"STOP IT, DAD!" she yelled hysterically. "STOP IT!"
He let out a low laugh and went faster still. Everything outside whizzed past in a blur.
A sudden pain stabbed Katrina in the heart, making her wheeze and clutch her chest. She gritted her teeth so hard her jaw ached, trying to forget the pain.
"Good," her dad smiled. "Your illness is working up again. I won't even need to dirty my hands."
So he IS planning to kill me, Katrina thought. I have to make the car stop somehow.
Only one thing came to her mind - the emergency brake.
Often in desperate situations the mind refuses to think rationally. That was what happened when Katrina shot out a hand and lifted the brake firmly.
She didn't see her dad's eyes bulge in disbelief.
She didn't hear his cry of fear as he tried too late to slam the brakes.
She didn't even feel the car spin crazily and overturn.
All there was was total darkness.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Writer's Block

Well hallelu-yah, it's finally come! After the driest month in Twisted Tales history, we shall waltz straight into a bumper month of posts. Open wide and blink not, for October has AH-RIVED! A month of Celebration A, Celebration B, and Celebration C! A being the 20th birthday of moi, B the birthday of this site, and C the promised October feature I've been hyping since August.
And now...meow. The cat comes out from the bag.
Quite simply, it's called "Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales". Say it once again, folks - "Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales". I've been combing the archives, and my my, it brings a smile to my self-appreciating face to see so many gems there. It is a pity, though, that they all look the equivalent of forlorn old men sitting alone on porches watching sunsets. So what I'm gonna do is give them another fifteen minutes of fame by re-releasing them throughout the month. Sort of like a washed-up boy band's "Greatest Hits" album, geddit?
But lest you start worrying about 10 Chapters of "Blogspot" or "The Secret Room" every time you drop by, take comfort that only the krem de la krem will be making it back for a second shot. Yups, you guessed it...a US Billboard-esque Top 10 Countdown!
I'll be posting one entry from my personal pick, starting from Number 10, every three days from Oct 3 all the way to Number 1 on Oct 30. Then, time allowing, I might do a brief "Year In Review" for y'all. (Okay, for myself...)
Ghostopia? Heheh...this Kat saga is taking longer than I expected. I'd planned for it to be done in 5 Chapters, but then it struck me how her dad was still your regular villain bent on global domination 'cos the director ordered it. Should take another two Chapters - either that or I cram it all into an extra long final Part 10 - and we're set for pre-End Game of Ghostopia. However, why do I feel that everyone's forgotten where we even left off in the first place? Admit it, you undevoted idolisers of me...
And lol, a final thing I should note...I practically had to *ban* myself from getting any sudden inspirations for Writer's Block poems/ articles the past month, for fear of messing up my all shined-up Top 10 list. Anyway, the nostalgia factor would nosedive if I posted entries less than a month old, would it? It's supposed to be a time of reflection and rememberence, so quit digging into the archives and just let me do my job of telling you what WAS good, people. However, a plus point would be that those subconsciously stored "inspirations" might instead make their way out this month. Hey, wait a minute...I'm not *supposed* to have any inspirations this month too!
Crap. Make it November, then.
That concludes today's...for lack of a better word, edition of Writer's Block. Run along now, but do remember to make a 180 degree turn on Monday and check back for...Ten Things I Love About You, Twisted Tales!