Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So You Think You Know Malaysian Traffic?

Every morning, God looks down from his heavenly throne upon the streets of Kuala Muddy. Little black dots zip along their designated paths; sometimes going exceedingly fast in a zig-zag manner, sometimes so stupefyingly slow that other dots zig-zag around them.
When enough of these dots come together at the same time, they begin to move slowly, and eventually stop. Then all try to move at the same time, but strangely none manage to. Some extraordinary dots go to paths they shouldn't go, and encounter white dots that stop them.
However, the most exciting part of this adorable dance is when two (or more) dots make contact with each other. Both dots freeze in place and produce a chemical reaction that slows down surrounding dots. Apparently, the scent is also highly attractive to white dots.
So, you think you know Malaysian traffic? Maybe you do. But knowing it and playing it are as different as a Malaysian signboard that leads to Pusat Bandaraya and another Malaysian signboard that leads to Pusat Bandaraya. Er...that is, they're both different. You get what I mean.
Forget those Undang classes you took - if you haven't forgotten them already - and sit back for the REAL hows and whys of Malaysian traffic!


Motorcycle: The noblest, most selfless warriors you'll ever see on the roads. Modern day equivalents of Japanese kamikaze pilots, every motorcyclist kisses his family goodbye before a journey and doesn't expect to return.
Also apparently immune to traffic lights and most other laws of the road.

Car: Most common vehicle. Can be found roaming plentifully along the highways and byways; too plentifully some would say. Unlike most other vehicles, however, cars can be modified beyond recognition. Cars are divided to 4 main categories:

Small - Kancils, Kelisas, Myvis, Savvys etc. Able to park in gaps between bad teeth and beneath door cracks. Seating capacity: 7

Medium - Wiras, Wajas, Sagas etc. Along with small cars, they constitute 90% of Malaysian traffic. Or at least that's what it feels like lah. Seating capacity: 6

Large - Hondas, Toyotas, BMWs etc. Including vans. Always gets the right of way over small and medium cars, unless of course if it's a Polis Diraja Malaysia Waja. Seating capacity: 5

Super - Rambominis (I might've gotten the spelling wrong) and other sport race-y cars with unpronounceable names. Big on noise, big on accessories, big on speed. Low on opportunities, unfortunately. You can sense the desperation when they go at turbo blast just to beat you to...the next traffic light. Seating capacity: 1

Taxi: Mercenaries for hire. Though they come under the medium car category, their privilege to right of way is equal to Large cars. Nobody knows why.
Another quirk of the taxi, if you've been in one before, is the strange *BzztbzztPuchongJayakeTamanConnaughtPuchongJayakeTamanConnaught
bzztbzztBukitJalilkeSunwayCondoBukitJalilkeSunwayCondobzztbzzt* female voice you hear. Legend has it that though all taxi drivers know this lady and abide by her, none have ever seen her face.

Polis Diraja Malaysia Waja: The distinctive navy blue and white never fail to right all the wrongs of the chaotic Malaysian traffic. As though by magic, when a Polis Waja passes other vehicles start going ridiculously slow. Signal lights flash uncontrollably, horns (of both kinds) turn into smiles and queue-cutters sucked to the back of the line. Bersih cekap amanah.

Ambulance: If any vehicle can claim to have a following, it's this guy. Another testament to the caring nature of Malaysians; where else in the world would you get dozens of well-wishers trailing a sick stranger all the way to the hospital? And you thought Moses parting the Red Sea was a miracle.

Lorry: A dreaded sight. Why? Because when you get stuck behind a lorry, that's the only sight you'll see. And it doesn't help that most lorries are either dangerous (carrying logs, crates) or morbid as heck (hanging dead pigs, live chickens stuffed into clothes drawers).

Trailer: A lorry on steroids. No dead pigs, at least.

Bus: Utterly agonising to follow behind. 10 times more agonising to wait for. They emit black clouds of toxic gas. They always cause traffic jams and accidents. And when you go on their lanes, you get fined heavily. Could there be any more evil vehicle in history?!


The Horn: Oooold school. Your clearest means of audio communication with the outside world. Used properly, the horn can convey a variety of messages:

One short horn:
"Eh stupid, watch where you're going lah."
"Eh stupid, green light already ah."

One medium-length horn:
"OI STUPID! Driving with your backside izzit?!"
"OI STUPID! Green light already ah, and I'm in a hurry."

One long horn:
"OOI!! STUPID!!! WANT TO DIE IZZIT??! NAHHH!!!" (switch to visual communication)
"OOI!! STUPID!!! Eventhough your engine died at a green light and it's none of your fault, I still feel like driving over your incompetent feet."

Two short horns:
"Hey, I'm here at your house...come out now."

Two medium-length horns:
"I'm too cheap to call you. Come out NOW!"

Two long horns:
"I'm an idiot."

Quick succession of short horns:
"I'm speeding, and I don't have the required skill to switch lanes. So get out of my way!"

Quick succession of medium-length horns:
"My idiot kid is playing with the horn."

Quick succession of long horns:
"I'm getting married. Just so you would know."

The Flash: Pretty much similar to the horn, but it's way cooler. Unlike the loud and provocative horn which you can brush away as the work of an idiot, the flash inflicts subtle trauma onto the mind of the flashee. It slowly eats away at your conscience for days, as you wonder in anguish what made you deserve The Flash. Eventually, you decay into a hollow shell of disexistence and everlasting misery.
Also great for making hesitant drivers take turnings.

The Rev: Vroom, vroom. Amazing how a couple of unnecessary accelerator presses can speak into the hearts of two men of honour. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, their burning eyes make an eternal vow to fight till the other is vanquished. Unless the poor guy really was revving because water got into his engine.

The Signal: Obsolete since 1996. Pretty useful for scoring in your driving exam, though.

The Double Signal: The second most powerful force in Malaysian traffic. With these two blinking lights alone, you can:

a) Indicate a left turn
b) Indicate a right turn
c) Indicate a still-undecided turn
d) Move at half speed
e) Stop in the middle of the road
f) Avoid summonses ("bang, kereta rosak lah")
g) Double your headlight power
h) Make it easier for your friends' cars to trail you
i) In extreme cases, park your car (refer to e)
j) Indicate emergencies (the proper usage lah)

And, finally...


The Passenger: As soon as he gets in a waiting car, the Double Signal is...destroyed. And the car is free to go. Unbelievable.

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's In Your Hands...Not!

And the countdown has begun! With Merdeka up on Thursday and compulsary leave on Friday, the following three days of work are nothing more than obstacles to bypass. Ah, yes...indeed life is all about having something to look forward to.
But... before that! A cracker of a blog post you ab-sho-lutely MUST READ. It's not from me, but it is someone I know. Simply one of the most hilariously dead-on ad reviews I've ever come across. Ta-da.

Be warned, though: you're gonna need some degree of understanding of conversational Bahasa (the Gila-Gila sort) to read. Paham?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Writer's Block (yep, a good ol'-fashioned one)

"You mean...a Writer's Block, as in, a Writer's Block?"
"No soppy poems?"
"No ridiculously far-fetched direct sales yarns?"
Nah. Not for now.
"No Starlight Cinema escapades?"
Hmm...just a little, just a little. But still it's a good ol'-fashioned Writer's Block!
The sort which, a quick run-through the archives tell me, we haven't had in three months!

Kicking things off...in a twist worthy of a Twisted Tale, I found myself at Starlight Cinema again last night, watching X-Men 3, courtesy of free passes from Noel (Apparently that guy has heaps of them lying around). And I wasn't late this time!
Would love to do another event rundown for ya, but why bother? Not when Zhi Yong has already written this possibly-hilarious bit.

Next! Should have posted this last Friday when I first found out, but...
Details, you ask? It's a freelance job from 95 Percent which I didn't get paid for...worked with Bala on it. Client's MPH and Perdana Leadership Foundation, they want to get the public to submit funny stories for A Collection Of Malaysian Anecdotes.

Well...there should be a JPEG of the ad here for you to click on, but being the self-praising jerk I am, I'm gonna have to ask you fork out RM8 for this month's issue of the MPH newsletter-cum-magazine "Quill". And kindly turn to page 39. Muahahahaha.

(And in another twist worthy of a Special Edition Twisted Tale, Beatrice actually forwarded the ad to me on Saturday, asking if I was interested to submit stories! =p)

Final item for the day: I haven't been updating the story for a full month. And coincidentially - or not - reader response has increased quite a fair bit. Okay, quite a lot. OKAY, there now is reader response.

Which proves my lingering suspicion that there are people who drop by every now and then...they just get "tuned out" by the episodic stories.

I find it tedious myself, having to sustain interest in the same story for months and months. And if I can't even enjoy it myself...

Fact is, it's becoming increasingly harder to both blog and tell episodic stories. Blogging involves jotting down random thoughts, poems, one-off stories etc that come to mind from nowhere. Episodic stories need to regularly be "immersed in". Otherwise the feeling is simply gone.

I've always known that Twisted Tales won't be able to retain the same formula forever. Heck, there shouldn't even be a formula. After close to 2 years, perhaps a revamp is due. Tonight, my pillows shall be stacked up high, my eyes on every inch of the ceiling, and my mind restless...

Zat'zall, folks!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

V For Vorst Movie Ever

Or rather, vorst movie experience ever.

Here's my story: Since my sister brought home the schedule last month, I had been waiting to catch Starlight Cinema. You know, that big outdoor cinema thing they have once a year.

So we scanned the schedule, and decided the best movie to catch would be V For Vendetta, screening 8pm, 9th of July. It also happened to be a movie I was dying to watch, as I missed it when it was first shown in the cinemas.

The plan was set. On the day itself - yesterday - my sister was to come to Mid Valley after work, and then we would go together. Only problem - she wanted to take the commuter train, while I thought we should drive.

"It's going to be jammed at this hour." she said.

Oh-kay. So that's how we wound up in a commuter train. It was 7.30 pm then, I think. OK-lah, not too late mah.

Of course, just as I was thanking God for having remembered the tickets, and imagining the dreadful consequences if I hadn't...we found out. That we were in the wrong train.

Scramble, scramble, panic, panic. Never mind lah, miss the first 10 minutes only. We got down at the Salak South station at 7.45pm. Come on now, train to Sentul!

"Harap maaf sekalian, keretapi ke Sentul jam 7.15 telah dibatalkan. Segala kesulitan amat dikesali."

ARGH! CONSPIRACY! Though I wasn't too sure how, or if, the 7.15 train mattered. Either way, we sat and waited. It finally arrived at 8.05 pm.

End of story? I wish!

Apparently we had to change trains at KL Sentral. More waiting.

You know those giant digital clocks they have at the KTM stations? The ones which you're forced to stare at while you wait. They make life seem so cheap. The numbers keep changing excitedly, but nothing else does. You mentally countdown to the next minute. Then it comes. Countdown to the next. It comes. It passes. Before you know it, you grow numb to the concept of time. The time could go backwards, and you wouldn't notice.

8.30 pm. And I could have sworn I was still having an Oreo McFlurry at Mid Valley 10 minutes ago. Man, if I ever get a 20 year prison sentence, I'm surely taking one of those clocks with me.

And the place. Is so dark. And depressing. A perfect place. For an evil bug mutant to kidnap a hapless soul. Like in the movie Mimic.

Eventually, I don't know when, the train came. Off to Sentul, Sentul...

Sentul at last. 9 pm. But horrors! The "short walk to the grounds" promised by the website turned out to be un-walk-able (too far). Good thing we managed to grab hold of a taxi craftily parked just outside the commuter station.

"Haha, you want to walk in here, have to walk till tomorrow lah boss." The Punjabi driver tilted his head jovially at me. Yeah, thanks for reminding.

But...who cares?! Cos at last we reached...STARLIGHT CINEMA!! It probably was almost 9.30 pm.

The ticket guy was so nice, he didn't have the heart to collect our tickets. "The movie's ending, man...it's okay, keep those tickets for another time."

So we smiled, thanked him, and happily kept our tickets marked "STARLIGHT CINEMA - ADMITS ONE. 8 pm, 9th July 2006". Yay?

No complaints on the event itself, really. It was a big grass field with a giant screen where the movie plays. The viewers bring their own towels or mats to sit on, none of the Americanised sit-in-car affair I was half-expecting. Apparently a lovey-dovey couple who thought they'd gotten the most behind seats weren't too pleased when we plopped ourselves down behind them.

"Darling...you said no one would be able to see us!"

"How the heck would I know that people would be coming in 1 and a half hour late?!"

OK, OK, I should be focusing on the movie. Haha.

Watching only the last 40 minutes of a movie like V For Vendetta is like having ice cream for dinner. It's appetising and sweet, sure, but...tak rasa ler. Slash. Boom. Climax. Yeah.

End of movie, and we called the same taxi to pick us up (He kindly gave us his namecard, because you need to walk a long way out to get a taxi). Back to KL Sentral, where we had to endure another loooong wait for the last train of the night back to Mid Valley.

As I reached home well after 11 pm, I couldn't help feeling a little "Bah. That's it?". In the truest sense of the phrase, the night had passed by like a dream.

But like they say in the movies...it's the journey that matters, no?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Press Releases Should Be Written This Way

Wahahahahhahaha. Pardon me, but I really can't help myself.
It was another slooooow Wednesday (which I believe is strongly underrated as the worst day of the week) in office, and I was supposed to be writing a press release. The product? Some about-to-be-launched cooking spray. Yippee.
The brief? "Highlight its convenience and versatility". Double yippee.
So I started tapping, tapping away on the keyboard...
And what started off as an uninspired headline and first few lines turned into THIS. Directly copied and pasted, enjoy! =D

Sunlico Cooking Spray Is The Best Sh*t That Ever Existed

Sunlico cooking oil recently launched cooking spray. This spray is targeted for busy people with no time. (As opposed to busy people WITH time?)

"Pouring oil the conventional way can be messy, especially if you're in a rush," says the Head Honcho of Sunlico as he reads from a prepared script. "But Sunlico TM Cooking Spray is much more convenient."

"The TM doesn't need to be read, sir." His assistant corrects him.

"Well, sor-ray. Anyway, like I was saying..."

"With Sunlico Cooking Spray, one quick spray is all it takes. The oil is spread evenly, ensuring your food is well-cooked to perfection."

The press applauds.

"Now that we've got that out of the way," he continues, naughty glint in the eye. "Let's talk about the REAL reason this spray exists."

"I-I would strongly advice against that, sir." His assistant stammers.

"Hush, you," he pushes her aside. "Now...consider yourselves fortunate. And check THESE out!"
Rip! Off comes his shirt to reveal a set of well-toned abs.

A collective hush sweeps through the room.

"Ever had trouble oiling yourself up...REAL...GOODDD...?" He strikes a pose. "Especially in those...you know, hard-to-reach spots?"

His assistant buries her head in her hands.

"Ooh yeah...light and easy...easy and light...Sun-li-co!" He prances around, whiffing a spray or two under his armpits. "WHO'S DA MAN NOW, HUH?"

A bewildered member of the press takes a snapshot, trembling. Then another. And another. Before they know it, the entire room is snapping away excitedly.

Wahahahahhahaha. I'm gonna be so dead if someone from office sees this.

Writer's Block Presents...So You Think You Know Direct Sales? (Part 2)

Confession time: I broke up this feature to two parts because:
1) It wound up much longer than I expected.
2) I had been spending almost two weeks writing it with whatever little time I could squeeze in between breaks in office. And a three-week absence can be pretty damaging to my prospects of Blog Of The Year.

So anyway, here's the thrilling conclusion to So You Think You Know Direct Sales?:

Scene 4: The Meeting

(You see him and take a seat)

X: Hey! How are you?
You: I'm fine, I'm fine.
Didn't you ask me that yesterday, dum-dum?
X: Heh, good to hear that. I'm fine myself.

(Some exchange of pleasantries and ordering of drinks later)

X: So...what're you doing now? Working, or studying?
Here it comes! He's gonna try convert me now!
You: I'm still studying...
X: Ah, I see...
X: Hey man, why so tense? Just wanted to meet you up for some friendly conversation, that's all.
You: Huh? For real?
X: Yeah! What were you thinking?
You: Oh, well...it's really really dumb...but I had this teeny weeny shadow of a thought that you might be...
X: Trying to get you to join direct sales?
You: Errr...yeah.
X: Hahaha, what a thought! Why, you're afraid of direct sales?
You: Kinda.
X: Oh, puh-leez!

(Mamak dude brings drinks to table)

X: You know, that day I was having lunch with a colleague. We were talking about work, when all of a sudden he started talking to me about direct sales!
You: Seriously! How did he start?
X: Haha, it was real funny! He started asking me, "Have you given any thought to your future?"
You: Hah! And what did you say?
X: Nothing! I just continued eating!

(He laughs. You try to laugh.)

X: Oh, man...I can still remember the look on his face...it was so funny.
You: I bet it was.
Okay. Only one quarter of the glass left, and I'm ready to leave. Maybe I will get out unscathed after all.
X: But, seriously...have you given any thought to your future?
You: Erm...what do you mean?
X: Like, what are you going to do after you graduate?
You: ...Work?
X: And then? Continue working till you're 55?
You: I don't know...never gave much thought to stuff like these.
X: If you're not going to think about it now, then when?

(You take a sip from your glass)

X: But fear not, it's still not too late! There still is hope for your future...your future...your future...
That voice...it's making me...sleepy...
X: You must do it for your future...your future...your future...
X: Millions have joined...and you're next...you're next...you're next...
You: I am next...I am next...I am next...
I am next...I am next...I am next...
X: Now sign it...sign it...sign it...
You: Yes...my Lord...yes...my Lord...yes...my Lord...


Blond spiky-haired skinny guy who slouches funnily when he walks:
X: Har? Meh si?

(You snap out of your daze)

You: W-what's going on here? What's this pen and form doing in my hands?
Blond spiky-haired skinny guy who slouches funnily when he walks: Wah! Dilect sell ah! Dilect sell ah!
X: NYARGHHHH! Curses! You've ruined...everything!
You: So you ARE a direct sales member! And to think I almost fell into your trap!

(He grabs his hidden briefcase and flees)

X: Today belongs to you...but tomorrow shall always be MINE!!! NYAH HAHAHAHAHA!

(Mysteriously vanishes)

You: Phew. I'll bet I haven't seen the last of him yet.
Blond spiky-haired skinny guy who slouches funnily when he walks: Yaloh, yaloh.
You: Hey, thanks for helping me out there. What's your name?
Blond spiky-haired skinny guy who slouches funnily when he walks: Pipper call me Varentino.
You: Varentino. Cool.
Varentino: Hee hee hee.
You: Wanna have a drink? In return for, you know, what you did.
Varentino: OK.

(You both sit down and order drinks)

Varentino: Ei...so VCD you ngam or not?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Writer's Block Presents...So You Think You Know Direct Sales? (Part 1)

Direct sales. The mere mention conjures images A through Z. Some have visions of grandeur and everlasting prosperity, while the rest of us less ambitious mortals scurry away to the nearest grandmother's birthday. Never in the history of mankind has the long-lost friend been treated with such fear and suspicion.
So you think you know all there is to know about direct sales? That's what all those suckas nodding their heads while stifling yawns at the mamak thought too.
Picking up from January's hit So You Think You Know MSN? (which, by the way, you can access by clicking here), today's is a must-read for the gullible eager beavers. Read it through and arm yourself well...you never know if the guy beside is waiting to sell you a jar of miracle cream!

Scene 1: The Call

(Phone rings)

You: Err...hello?
What you're really thinking: What the heck is he doing calling me?!
X: Hi! Long time no see! How are you?
You: Fine...
Can we end the call now?
X: I'm fine too!
You: Yeah...
Who asked you?!
X: Hey, we should meet up some time to catch up!
You: Uh...sure.
Maybe sometime in the 24th century.
X: How about next Thursday? Say, 8.30pm?
You: Hmm...don't think so. I'm kinda busy next week.
Actually, I'm kinda busy this entire century.
X: How about tomorrow night, then?
You: Erm...I'll see how it goes. I'll call you.
And my phone will conveniently run out of credit tomorrow.
X: Okay! I'll be waiting for your call!
You: Sure. Bye.
X: Buh-bye!

The Rundown: First things first. Learn how to spot a direct sales suspect from miles away. They usually consist of friends you're not too close to, or not too fond of.
A dead giveaway is the over-professional tone of voice and supposed enthusiasm. And! They'll always have very precise times for meeting up. (Seriously, who sets exact times for meeting up before the day itself?)

The Remedy: If you're the no-nonsense type, tell him off rightaway and say that you're not interested in meeting up. Hearts will be broken. Unless if you're made of softer stuff...just postpone the meeting indefinitely. Of course, "indefinitely" usually doesn't last long...

Scene 2: The Following Night

(Phone rings while you're at a movie)

You: H...hello?
X: Hello! Are you there?
You: Yah...
No moron, this is a voice mail.
X: So, are you free tonight?
You: Erm...not really...
X: Whatcha doing now?
You: Watching a movie.
Though I really wish I was bashing your thick skull wide open.
X: Ohh...so that means you're not free, right?
You: I guess so.
Nah, actually I can watch a movie while doing the marcarena and driving with one hand knitting socks to put over my feet which are pedicuring one another.
X: I'll call you again later, then.
You: OK. Bye.
Would it be evil for me to wish death upon you before my movie ends?
X: Buh-bye!

The Rundown:
The 2nd call usually comes at a least expected and appropriate time. Often, it is an invitation for you to reject him rudely. Bear in mind, though, that this would leave you at a disadvantage if he calls again. Who could bear rejecting the same person 3 times? So be wise...which each rejection, HIS POWER GROWS STRONGER YET. Rrrrite.

The Remedy:
Make it sound as though he caught you at a really bad time. Hushed whispers and short sentences are a good idea. If you're afraid that he'll call back at a bad time again, offer to call him instead. Of course, this requires a fair bit of phone credit - which most of us can't afford to spare on people like them.

Scene 3: After The Movie

(You call him back)

X: Hello!
You: Yeah, so what's up?
X: Oh, you mean when I called you just now?
You: Yeah.
That was so stupid I didn't need to insult you.
X: It's no big deal. Just wanted to ask if you're free for mamak later.
Talk about no big deal.
You: Mmmm...okay.
Let's just get it over and done with.
X: Great! The place near my house then.
You: Ok. Sure.
Great. Enemy territory.
X: Bye! I'll be waiting for you.
You: Erm...you wanna invite anyone else?
X: Nah, it's okay. Just us both.
Bleargh. Couldn't you have said that in a less gay way?
You: Okay, I'll see you then. Bye.
X: Buh-bye!
Lord, be my shepherd.

The Rundown: Best described as the "now or never" stage. Or maybe "now or bugged forever". It's getting harder and harder for him to take no for an answer. So spare the dance and meet up - the sooner, the better. 'Cause if you drag it longer, he's gonna go seeking advice and all. And then no force humanity has ever known shall be able to stop him.

The Remedy: Spare that little bit of phone credit and arrange the meeting on your terms. Steer clear of quiet, lonely places with no television to distract you. You're gonna need all the help you can get to come out of this unharmed.

Coming Up Next...Part 2: The Meeting! Is he, or is he not?!