Friday, April 30, 2010

Game Over! Play Again?

The computer and I shook hands politely for the very first time circa 1989, when I was about 9 years old. Our friendship led us through several complicated sounding activities, like creating designs with Logo, some programming with BASIC, and a few others which seem to escape my memory at present. But above all, the friendship introduced me to the wonderful world of games.

An interesting point to note in the games we played is that you usually have some sort of control over what goes on. Take for instance this game we used to play back then called "Adventures in Math" where you'd go around solving math puzzles in a castle like place and collect money and diamonds in the process. Of course once you've solved a certain number of questions, you will be led out to the exit and your game ends, but if you're there to win (the school actually turned it into a competition - the highest scoring team gets a spiffy looking trophy and may be mistaken for an athlete, but hey, who cares?) then you go back and look for unopened doors, solving more and more math questions and get more money and diamonds.

Now, I brought up this issue about computers and games to highlight and tie in some other obscure point, but I can't seem to write it here without seeming sinisterly suicidal... (I'm NOT, well maybe sometimes, but mostly not) The thing is, games back then, especially the types we call arcade games tend to end very fast when the 3 or 5 'lives' provided die, and sometimes, say you're playing a game, and you made a mistake (probably you can score 2000 points with one 'life' but you only get 1000 points) so you just haphazardly spend all the other 'lives' to get a Game Over! notification and start afresh. I know I did that quite often. I don't know... I just kind of wish life too was like that, you know. Get this one over with, because I don't quite like it at the moment and start afresh. Something like that...

As for the video below, I used to play this game a long time ago, and although I have nothing against frogs, catapulting them onto the knives, or into the crocodile's mouth or even with the piranhas brought me great joy as they were torn apart with all goriness whenever I was down. The game disappeared along with the disuse of the old computer back in 2007 but I managed to trace back a downloadable version of the game on my laptop recently. However it doesn't seem to provide the same joy it used to once upon a time. I suspect the spacebar of a laptop is not as fun to tap as the spacebar of a keyboard belonging to a PC.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oh, The Irony!

A little bit of spring cleaning was required on the blog, what with the categories list expanding uncontrollably, and there were some dead blogs as well, killed none other than by their respective owners. Now, while I've managed to clip the list to a sensible length and rearrange it by number of posts instead of the usual alphabetical order, I couldn't help noticing that the most number of posts I have happen to fall into a category I named 'travel' which stands at a mind boggling 34 posts!

Funny, really... because I have only been to 3 other countries outside of Malaysia, and even then only one of it was for a proper vacation. Of course local trips were also categorised as 'travel', but the very thought of travel leading my activities tickles my funny bone so. People might begin to think of me as some airspace happy globetrotter!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friends (Imagined)

While it was with incredible ease I told my late grandfather that the empty house at the corner had a family of donkeys living in it, or informed my parents matter-of-factly that my friend lived in a certain house along the two hour journey from Port Dickson to KL when I was around four years old, doing it these days is not as fulfilling, and nearly impossible. I suppose despite how much of a loner you are or think you are, after you've had real friends, imaginary ones just don't make the cut anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, imaginary friends became a topic of conversation between the sister and I, as we watched a movie where the existence of imaginary friends was significant enough, but not in the true sense of course, because these imaginary friends were of a more sinister nature.  She opined that  if kids (hers or mine, in the future, if and when they exist) started talking about imaginary friends, we had better pay attention.

It reminded me of another story another friend told me when I was back in school. Apparently, there was this lady who chided her two or three year old daughter for having an imaginary friend and told her to make some real ones or something, when the girl turned back to her mother and told her that her 'friend' asked her to ask her mother " Why did you kill me?"

The lady was pretty horrified because she had once aborted a baby some time ago, and somehow things like that never leave you in peace forever.

Of course if you were to analyse the story, the 'facts' can be pretty questionable, for instance, if the baby was indeed aborted, it would have been done way before term, so how could it have a normal conversation with it's sister? Or was it just a mental connection? And at the same time, do spirits of the deceased grow old? (Not, according to movies and books regarding the paranormal) So many questions and no real answers. Nevertheless, it did send some chills down my eleven year old spine.

Looking back, it'd say that I never actually had conversations with those imaginary friends of mine, although I did talk to myself quite a bit by pretending I was two different people. They were somewhat always beyond reach, though, like the kid who lived somewhere between Port Dickson and KL, I could have never met her as we only passed by her house on the journey by bus. Or even the imaginary sister I created to entertain my younger sister who was fashioned after one of my mom's younger cousins who was very pretty. They were never 'real', even to me, they were just a prop for me to share stories with others, just like I am doing now.

So, did you have imaginary friends? That said, I'd love to hear stories of your (whoever who is willing to share, that is) childhood imaginary friends. 

Note: Picture was flicked off the Internet and modified with paint
Edit: I was an only child until the age 5 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Of Tree Planting and Going Green

A long time ago, I convinced myself that I loved trees by writing (I was actually coerced to take part in a district level competition by our English teacher) an essay titled "Why I love trees", inspired by the trees swaying in the wind as I sat by the window, looking out at them whilst chewing the end of my pen. It was a huge surprise when I found out some time later that I had actually won the first prize in the category I took part in, and as a result received  a gorgeous book called Tomorrow's Earth by David Bellamy. Being me, I read the book cover to cover many times over, and the trees won me over. I was 12 then.

But enough about the brief history of the shady origins of my love for trees. The fact is, I just found out today from Nick at Anything Goes that you can actually name a tree after your blog, through a tree planting program called "My blog is Carbon Neutral"  and the best part is, the trees are real ones, breathing, transpiring, chlorophyll laden ones! And despite the fact that the tree is going to be planted in Plumas, California, and I am here, it still excites me. I now have a valid reason to visit California if I ever wanted to.

The process is fairly simple, I guess... just do a short write up about the program, e-mail them your link at CO2-neutral(at)kaufda.de, and pick a button for your site. Besides having a new post on your blog, you also contribute to the happiness of your blog (after all, which blog wouldn't be proud to have a tree named after them???), and reduce the carbon footprint your blog produces, especially if you have 15,000 visitors a month (I'm nowhere near that, though... I average 400 to 500 visits per month at the moment but still)

carbon neutral coupons with kaufDA.de

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

iProcrastinate

They got it right when they named it Script Frenzy. Nearing the halfway mark period wise, yet still quite far away from the target halfway mark (only 34 out of the 50 pages required by the 15th!), procrastination beckons in all sorts of ways. Worse still, I'm sleepy and nodding off on the keyboard! Frenzy indeed!

Though not much of a towel thrower, all I feel like doing right now is to find a nice little comfortable corner to hide in until the end of the month.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A week gone by, stories to tell

Note: This post was written in snatched moments over a week. Finally got to publishing it today. 

The voice in my head is dictating this post out in whispers. I don't know why.

If I could only use one word to describe the previous week and some more, I'd use eventful, because it was. For my standards, anyway, where minutes flit by into hours and then become days that you never knew existed. It may seem a bit odd to want to blog about a week that has passed, but that's the way it is. When I'm free, nothing happens, and when I'm supposed to be doing something else, things I think would be worth blogging about start mushrooming like mushrooms after a thunderstorm. To be totally honest, though... it's been years since I last saw a mushroom after a thunderstorm (probably somewhere in 1996, I think)

1. In momentary madness, I agreed to join the women's netball team at work. The last time I played netball was 18 years ago, and even then I was the keeper, where I stood in front of the net trying to block the shooter from shooting into our net whenever the ball came our way. At other moments, we'd be chatting. 12 year olds seem to have quite a lot of juicy gossiping to do. Now we have about 8 people in the team but no one to play against!

2. I was insulted twice last week alone, first a colleague commented to another colleague (loudly, on the stairs as he was walking behind me) that I look like a guy from the back. Secondly my mom said that my hair is awful (something to do with how I do my hair when I go to work at the moment because it's doing a Morticia Addams on me these days) And just the other day, my sister said I looked like Olive Oyl (also because of my hair and the way I move my limbs!) - Update: I cut my hair! It feels lighter, and I started to look like myself again. Yay!

3. The Importance of Being Ernest has got to be one of the funniest plays around. Go and read it. If you don't have a copy, I have one in PDF - just shoot me an e-mail and I'll send it over (it's already in Public Domain, so I'm not stealing Mr. Wilde's work in any way by redistributing it)

4. Farewell parties are awesome. (posted last week)

5. I got invited to my colleague's one year old son's birthday party, via facebook which I accepted without realising that 'events' on facebook are not necessarily all private. My sister thought it was hilarious because it shows my age, apparently (another insult??) What was amazing though is that I actually managed to find the perfect birthday present for this little kid (one which the moment I saw it, I knew that I'd be getting it) and when I was giving his mom the present at the party, he actually squirmed in his dad's arms to reach out to hold it as well, probably thinking "that's mine, mine! why are you giving it to mommy???". Not bad.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Tattletale

Tattletale Tivenka. Idiot.

If I were a boy, I'd box his face till his mouth bled and at least one tooth fell out.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fun Farewells

He came, he saw, but never conquered. Instead he fished, golfed, went for English class (and learned to say "No thank you", downed insane amounts of beer and sang at  karaoke lounges when he felt like it. After almost three years of living the good life here in Malaysia, TY, our foreign adviser bid us adieu last week in a small farewell dinner *organised by my department.

If we had judged the night by the food alone, it would have been pretty mediocre to say the least. Some of us had planned to get there, eat, maybe take a photo or two for posterity and say goodbye to spend the rest of the night in more pleasant ways. Turns out that wasn't meant to be the moment a live band turned up and started tuning their musical instruments.

Arofsky went and checked with them, and yes, they did play songs from any language, which was the happiest news TY received that day. His eyes lit up when he and the band belted out Sukiyaki, Nagasaki and some other song which I can't recall. They were wonderfully entertaining! Surprisingly, the band seemed to love our crowd as much as we loved them, and they hung around our table offering to play us more songs. And somehow, we ourselves got a bit too excited and started singing along with them, with sounds like frogs and all. Yes, it was raining outside by the time we left.

I did take some lousy videos - lousy because they were taken with my mobile phone and lack clarity (which is good for the sake of the anonymity of the people in it, I guess), but I can't put them up now due to an unusually sluggish internet connection. I suspect I've overstepped the limits of my bandwith with some intense internet movie watching over the past few weeks. But I shall attempt putting them up once the new month starts  - after the 11th.

Right now, I'm totally in love with the sounds made by an instrument called the Double Bass (using the Pizzicato method) It would be awesome to learn to play it, although lugging it around for my **one woman band show would be unimaginably inconvenient.

* Yeah, right. It involved the steno calling up the hotel and booking places for X number of people for their buffet dinner

** Imaginary one woman band

PS: I'm so sorry that I haven't replied to some of the comments or commented on some of your blogs either. It's been a bit crazy hereabouts. I will explain in another post.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

El Orfanato

"Un, dos, tres, toca la pared" Laura said as she knocked on the tree trunk in front of a big sprawling orphanage. She looked behind her after a short pause, gauging how close her friends were to her, preparing to run the moment any of them could tap her on her shoulders as the game progressed. Later, Laura gets adopted.

El Orfanato, also known as The Orphanage, is a Spanish horror movie leaning towards the slightly mysterious and chilling side, with a bit of tragedy thrown in... It is what you could call a beautifully taken horror movie, verified by the non-existence of a blood-thirsty killer going on a rampage seeking revenge of some sort on skimpily dressed teenagers.

Moving on to the present day, Laura is all grown up with a family of her own, including an adopted son, Simon who is so adorably cute you feel like biting his nose off. My sister wanted to bite his cheeks off, though. They live in her former orphanage where she has plans to turn it into a house for children with special needs. However, the house seems to be a wee bit more mysterious than any ordinary house should be... starting with stories of imaginary friends who can't grow up, to a mysterious visit from an old lady which ends with a game that involves finding clues to get back what you treasure most. According to Simon, his imaginary friends would hide your most treasured item and it's up to you to figure out the clues to retrieve it..

As the movie proceeds, little stories from the past are revealed when Simon mysteriously disappears after an argument with his mom, and we get a glimpse of the horrors that happened, not in a 'in your face' way, but just a very general idea that is just enough to make you understand what went on, or send chills down your spine.

The cinematography is pretty awesome, and the person who played Laura is an excellent actress. I thought it was an excellent movie. It was interesting to note how the different aspects of the movie merged towards the end to reveal an ending that was incredibly sad, but made perfect sense (in a horror movie kind of way, at least)