Thursday, October 19, 2006

Special October Feature: Aku Sebatang Pensel (Part 2 of 5)

"You know my father?"

"Of course. Quite good friends, we were."

"Why did he write this?"

The Pakistani eraser stared at Little Pencil's note. "You could call it a warning. To the future generations of pencils."

Little Pencil frowned. This eraser was speaking like a character out of The Da Stationeri Code.

"Your father is not dead yet, you know. I saw him last month. But he wasn't the same as before, not at all. And I don't think he ever will be. Not after that man bought him."

Little Pencil's mouth went round as a mirrored sharpener. His father was not dead yet. "Where is he now?"

"I don't know. They haven't caught him yet."

"Caught him? For what?"

The eraser glanced left and right nervously. "Come here. I'll show you."

Little Pencil followed him to a disused glass case. "Here," he nudged out a sheet from the edges. "The second part of your father's note."

Akhirnya sampai juga kami ke kedai buku. Ah! Memang ceria suasana di situ, seperti yang aku jangkakan. Ramai alat tulis lain disusun rapi mengalu-alukan kedatangan kami.

Tidak beberapa lama kemudian, kawan-kawanku mula pergi satu demi satu. Setiap kali pelanggan melangkah masuk, kami tahu salah satu kawan akan berpisah. Masing-masing berdoa di lubuk hati yang bukannya dipilih.

Namun, tiba juga giliranku akhirnya. Suatu petang, seorang lelaki bermisai hitam masuk. Dia menoleh ke arahku.

"Pensel kasi satu." ujarnya dengan kasar.

Tuan kedai mengangguk dan terus memetikku dari kelompok pensel. Lelaki tersebut menghulurkan wang kepadanya dan meninggalkan kedai denganku.

Aku mempunyai tuan baru.

Translation: At last we reached the stationery shop. Just like I expected, it was a barrel of fun. The neatly arranged stationery welcomed us cosily.

Soon after that, my friends started leaving one after another. Every time a customer stepped in, we knew someone was going home with him. We all silently prayed it wouldn't be us.

Alas, my turn eventually came. One evening, a moustached man entered. He looked my way.

"Gimme a pencil." he said gruffly.

Mr. Shopkeeper nodded and plucked me out from the cluster of pencils. Just like that, the man paid for me and left.

I had a new master.

The note ended.

"'s still not complete."

"Well, yes. There is...oh, no! Go away! Go away! He's here!"

Little Pencil swiftly rolled underneath the glass case. Just in time to see a towering black pen step up to Eraser.

"What are you doing here?" he narrowed his eyes at him.

"What else? Keeping the place clean, as usual."

"Some of the others told me you were talking to that new pencil. I hope they were wrong."

"Bah. Of course they are."

"Good. The last thing we need is for him to start researching his father."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Special October Feature: Aku Sebatang Pensel (Part1 of 5)

Aku sebatang pensel. Aku dilahirkan di sebuah kilang membuat pensel di Gombak.

Sebaik sahaja aku siap dipasang mesin, aku dimasukkan ke dalam sebuah kotak bersama kawan-kawanku. Sempit betul keadaan di dalam; nyaris aku terpengsan dihimpit pensel lain.

Dua tiga hari kemudian, dirasaku kotak itu dipunggah masuk lori. Kata kawanku, kami akan dihantar ke kedai alat tulis. Terenjut-enjut aku sepanjang perjalanan. Hati pula resah berpikir suasana dan kawan baru kelak.

Translation: I am a pencil. I was born in a humble pencil factory in Gombak.

There's nothing much to speak of my origins. I rolled off the assembly into a big box with scores of pencil friends. It wasn't a very comfy box either; I almost got steamrolled.

Couple or so days later, I felt the box being lifted into a lorry. We're going to the stationery shop, said my friend. For me, there was no sitting still all the way. My mind raced restlessly, picturing what lay ahead.

Little Pencil sighed softly. He folded, then unfolded the yellowed sheet in his hands and read it again for the umpteenth time. As though he might come across some previously unseen detail.

Of course he didn't.

Little Pencil, all two weeks of him - which would make him twenty in human years - had been searching for his father's identity his whole life. Since day one in Kee's Stationery Shop, the others had been awkwardly silent around him. And he knew it had something to do with who his father was.


"So," Thirty Seeam the plastic ruler stared at him with unblinking eyes. "You are Pencil's son."

"Yes, sir."

"I didn't know he had a son." Scissors quipped sharply.

"Yeah, I am."

"Hmph." Thirty Seeam grunted. "You better stay out of trouble, kid."

"Will try to." He was starting to feel a wee bit uncomfortable.

"Okay, show's over. Everyone scram." Thirty Seeam barked. The others scurried back to their clusters, murmuring something.

"And by the way," Thirty Seeam handed him a sheet before turning to leave. "Your father asked me to pass this to you."


"Excuse me, sir!" Little Pencil called out to him.


"Who was my father, really?"

Thirty Seeam frowned at him like a bug in his soup. "Welcome to the shop, kid."


That was how Little Pencil ended up with the note he'd been reading over and over. He knew it was his father's handwriting, written way before he even existed. But why did he write it?

He sensed a story unravelling. One he was determined to get to the bottom of.

"Your soul is troubled."

He whirled around. It was a dirty old eraser emblazoned with a Pakistani flag.

"You cannot comprehend that." he pointed to the note. "For it is incomplete."

"How do you know?"

"Because...I was there when your father wrote it."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Introducing...The Special October Feature

Heeeeya there peoples, it's been some week.
Tuesday in the office, I almost died. No kidding. Was having diarrhoea and fever, and they just would not turn down the air-con. Between half-freezing to death and needing to go to the toilet a dozen times but feeling "inappropriate", I still can't believe I made it through 10 hours of that Auschwitz.

And if you've noticed, it turned October two weeks ago. And October is *supposed* to be a special month for Twisted Tales. Yeah, our baby boy's coming to two and *ahem* yeah...*ahem*. October. Yeah. I hear lots of people are born in that month. Ahem.


Had been planning for months ahead to re-run last year's "Ten Things I Love About You" - you know, make it a yearly affair. But, seemed quite a lazy cut-and-paste solution. Not to mention self-glorifying.
(Okay, okay, so I admit it! The real reason I ran that last year was so that I could re-bask in my own glory and make you guys re-worship the ground I walk on. Happy?!)


Then...hmm. Back to the papan melukis.

Okay! Why not do a 5-parter miniseries? A short story that MUST end in 5 parts. No long-drawn sagas or characters, blah blah blah. Good ol' fashioned fun for the family.


Easy to conceive. A nightmare to actually put down on paper. For most of last week - and the week before that - I was scratching my head real hard for a wickedly good story. One which would get you hooked from start. It's just 5 parts you know, you can't go all "A long, long, time ago..."

Anyway, here're some ideas I scribbled down:

1) Guy works in petrol station. One day he sees a beautiful girl pumping petrol and falls in love with her. Alas, she drives off. Then, lah.

2) Guy works in petrol station (don't ask me). One day he finds out the washroom is actually a magical portal that leads to another petrol station in another dimension. Then, the portal kua.

3) Little girl likes cats. One day she wakes up and finds her favourite cat missing. She then embarks on a magical journey to rescue her kitty from the clutches of the Driver.

4) Guy rears a cat in his house. He does all sorts of illegal stuff in his house. Cat watches and learns. Over time, cat becomes underground mafia boss.

5) There's this magical jar of vanishing cream. And you have, like, people fighting over it. Until they realise they can't actually see the cream. Because it vanished.

I was still recovering from my fever, OKAY. STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES, YOU.

So what to do, what to do? All these ho-hum plots, and already October was dee-dee-dumming by.

Enter Friday the 13th. (cue theme from Ju On. Or The Phone. Or Ghost Train. Whatever works for you.)

It would require no less a twisted mind. Only a mind so deliciously seedy, so unabashedly corrupted could've given me such an idea.

What can I say? This upcoming story has got me all worked up, all ready to sharpen my pencils and write again. Finally!

And curiously enough, it's titled Aku Sebatang Pensel. Stay tuned, y'all.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rock Paper Scissors

Yeah, Rock Paper in the gweiloh version of One Two Jus (or One Two Som, or Bao Jin Dap, or Ji Gu Pak, depending on your upbringing). We used it for deciding everything, from who the hantu would be to who got the allegedly biggest karipap, remember?

Recently I stumbled upon this site Yyyyeah, you got it...RPS stands for Rock Paper Scissors. And you have a World RPS Society that has "served the needs of decision makers since 1918". Not to mention a (get this)...World Rock Paper Scissors Championship coming up in November in Toronto, Canada!



To my utter horror, the third most reliable information source on the Internet, Youtube revealed that this abomination of an event IS indeed real and has been going on for years. The website even features strategies and "gambit play" which actually make sense. Eat your hearts out, chess players!

"Contrary to what you might think RPS is not simply a game of luck or chance. While it is true that from a mathematical perspective the 'optimum' strategy is to play randomly, it still is not a winning strategy for two reasons. First, 'optimum' in this case means you should win, lose and draw an equal number of times (hardly a winning strategy over the long term). Second, Humans, try as they might, are terrible at trying to be random, in fact often humans in trying to approximate randomness become quite predictable. So knowing that there is always something motivating your opponent's actions, there are a couple of tricks and techniques that you can use to tip the balance in your favour."

See?! It. Actually. Makes. Sense!

"Rock paper scissors is not just a game of luck. At its core, rock paper scissors is all about conflict resolution. You use it decide who gets the last piece of pizza, who drives etc. Yeah, it's all about resolving conflicts in a peacful way, and making the world a better place, man."

- Some 2005 World RPS Championship finalist on the Youtube video I watched.

Say. It. Isn't. So.

Next you know, RPS becomes so massively popular that all the young people find it cool. Just because. Then it becomes an international sport. And you have your mafias and bookies backing it financially. Then they amass a small army. And voila! They take over the world. Before you know it, everything's being decided by One Two Jus...oops, I mean RPS.

Presidents are elected by a best two-of-three. Traffic lights? Try traffic RPS instead.
You won't need criminal courts any more. Nothing a friendly game of lat ta li lat ta li tam pung (three-way RPS) can't solve.

Judge: Mr. A, 20 witnesses saw you rob the bank. Your fingerprints, toeprints, tongueprints, and leopard prints were all over the crime scene. What do you say?

Mr. A: I challenge thee to a game of Lat Ta Li Lat Ta Li Tam Pung!

Lawyer: Objection!

Judge: Overruled! Show your hand at "Pung".

Lawyer: What?! You mean there's a chance I'LL get sentenced?!

Judge: ...tam pung! 20 years, you.

Think of the possibilities! Every bad decision you ever made in your life could be traced back to that single flick of rock, paper or scissors!

Son, don't repeat the mistakes I made. Every day of my life I regret stabbing that man with a pair of scissors 20 years ago. It seemed my destiny then.

I won't repeat your mistakes, Dad. RPS has shown me clearly my destiny. And it involves crushing people with rocks.

Of course that could never happen.
Not unless they get reeeeeal lucky, that is!