Saturday, December 31, 2005
And can you blame us? There are very few used book stores in KL, if any at all, well, if you don’t count PayLess Books. Chiang Mai and Bangkok, being the hub of Western backpackers, end up with loads of used books, hence the many used book stores that abound.
Scouting for used book stores is very exciting. Maybe it’s because we’re bookworms and nerds. There’s something about riffling through used book collections and stumbling across a title that you’ve been looking for but never wanted to pay more than RM20 for at home. Or happening upon titles you’d never thought you’d buy. Or like me, you could be scouting for erotica, which you would most definitely not find either at home or even in Singapore and ordering from Amazon direct to Malaysia would probably end up in your books being confiscated or mysteriously lost in the mail. You can, however, find loads of sex manuals at the WH Smith at Changi Airport (but there and only there, according to the cashier, as those books are not allowed into the island proper).
We checked out Gecko Books and Backstreet Books. Both are situated just outside of and on the east of the Old City. The latter is a haven. Run by an Irish guy who’s been in Chiang Mai for the last 13 years or so, their selection is quite extensive and they are cheaper than Gecko Books. The proprietor is also friendlier. So what did we pick up at BSB? I paid RM24 for a bumper issue of Jennifer Weiner: Good In Bed & In Her Shoes in one volume, practically a steal; an Alice Hoffman paperback for RM12, and Quiver, an erotica collection. Rizal unfortunately could not find the Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman novel that he was looking for but settled instead for a collection of erotica from Penthouse. Our entire collection cost us less than RM60. Hubby almost ended up with a draft/script of Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Almost. He put it back on the shelf after he found the collection of erotica.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Our cab dropped us off somewhere along the Night Bazaar, coincidentally right in front of a local pharmacy. At first glance, I thought we’d stumbled into a Chinese medical hall. The glass display cases and the interior of the pharmacy were akin to that of a Chinese medical hall: dark and somewhat dingy, not at all like the brightly lit Apex or Watsons or Guardians at home but on closer inspection, I found I was wrong.
Let me just say this about Thai pharmacies: I LOVE them!!
You can obtain any form of Western medication right off the counter without a prescription. It’s amazing!! Everything is displayed on the shelves at the wall or in the glass display cases and all you need to do is point. Or tell them the name. And they’ll whip it out and give it to you. Assuming you pay, of course. There was high blood pressure medication, prescription laxatives, heart medication, birth control pills, medication I only ever saw in the USA but not in Malaysia like Tyelnol and drugs I never thought existed. It’s amazing!! I was astounded. My eyes were practically boggling in my head and I kept saying to Rizal, “Wow!! Look at all the drugs! They have everything here. Wow!! And you can get everything off the shelf! WOW!! I love this place!”.
It was a druggy’s heaven. I could have overdosed just from looking at all the prescription drugs available. Hubby almost had to drag me away from the pharmacy after we’d purchased our necessary toiletries and his Clarinese.
Our neighbours never cease to amaze and surprise me, druggy’s heaven indeed!
So I didn’t start washing up and packing till much later. By the time I got done packing, it was already past 1am. The hubby was frantically trying to print out our AirAsia reservation details as he’d misplaced the original printout because we’d moved our junk out of and around the study when our shelving from Ikea arrived. And because his PC is such a genius, he had trouble trying to firstly log on, then print out the details. By the time I was ready for bed, it was already 2am. Our flight was scheduled for 8am and the cab would be arriving at the house at 5am. We reconfirmed the weather in Chiang Mai online, hubby said it should be warm at an average of 21 degrees. I packed in my spaghetti tops.
So much for a good night’s sleep. Hubby announced that he would just stay awake since it was no point sleeping and he was afraid he may not be able to wake up if he did.
He never got the details printed out. Luckily, the booking number was on my Eten.
When we got to KLIA early the next morning, hubby peered at the departure screens and announced that our flight was taking off at 8:50am, not 8am. Sigh, again, trust the hubby to get the times mixed up. No matter, at least we were early so we made a beeline for McDonald’s.
It may have been the lack of sleep or the fact that everything was done at the last minute but there was a lack of enthusiasm on my part. Going off for this holiday didn’t feel like a big deal to me. There was a lack of excitement; the anticipation was missing. Sure I was somewhat excited, but it was muted. I was more tired than excited. Like I said, maybe it was the lack of sleep.
As the plane took off from KLIA, I gladly welcomed sleep to claim me. I was tired and I knew I’d better get some shut eye before landing or I would not be able to enjoy myself all sleepy and bleary-eyed in Chiang Mai.
We got into Chiang Mai unscathed. I was still sleepy but felt rested enough to take on the city. One thing we didn’t realize was that 21 degrees is actually closer to Fall weather than summer. Great. It was windy and quite chilly. We forgot to factor in the wind chill. There go my spaghetti tops, I thought to myself. Hot my foot. Rizal’s nose was sounding suspiciously like mine on a bad day. Uh oh.
We trundle along in the cab to Ban Sabai Spa Village. As we passed flyovers and took on the Super Highway, I thought to myself, Bangkok this is not. I noted to hubby though that you can always tell that you’re in Asia or some part of Asia by the sprawling highways and byways that meander all over the city to and from the airport. Wherever in Asia you go, you always pass under or over some concrete highway or other. The same familiar grey undulating bodies snake in and out of your sight whether you’re in Beijing, Singapore, South Korea, Bangkok or Chiang Mai. The only exception may be KLIA since it’s situated out in the boondocks among fields and fields of palm oil plantation or some small village-like area like Denpasar in Bali.
We meandered through what looked like side lanes into a kampong and went down dirt roads riddled with potholes and then before we knew it, we were there: Ban Sabai Spa Village. We passed heavy carved teak doors at the gate and headed into an airy reception area. There were lots of plants and greenery with wood accents and glazed tiles all over. Frankly though, I thought the place looked a bit worn. According to hubby though, it’s less than 5 years old.
We walked under a quaint and refreshing canopy of creepers and greens covering the path to our room. The resort has only 4 standard rooms and 5 suites. We were booked into a standard room: Topaz III. I liked our room although I thought it was rather drafty at this time of year and that the floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides of the wall were not going to help matters. The queen-sized bed was placed in the centre of the room facing the windows, and we looked out on a wall of greenery. But still, I was worried about the cold. It would have been quite perfect if not for the prevalent mothball smell and the cold tiles of the floor and the worry about how we would keep warm later at night. I also questioned our good sense in booking ourselves into the resort as each room had an open-air bathroom. Looks like we would probably not be taking any late night showers while we were in Chiang Mai.
After sniffing around and exploring the confines of our room, we did the obvious: have lunch! I wasn’t aware that hubby had booked us into a health resort. The listing on the menu were all way too healthy and nutritious. Nevertheless, we headed to the Orchid Room and made it through a round of somewhat bland but nutritious lunch of green tofu curry and vegetarian pad thai. A consolation: we had a great view of the pool and lush greenery from where we were seated at the Orchid Room.
We were both tired from the lack of sleep the night before. So instead of heading straight out into the city after lunch, we snuggled under the warm covers and took a nap.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
One final triumphant grunt and they’re done. The whole episode didn’t take more than 10 minutes. I continue to stare at the ceiling, past the mosquito net covering our bed. The curtains are drawn across the floor to ceiling windows around the foot of the bed in our wooden cabin (I call it a cabin but the hotel calls it Topaz III) among the lush greenery of shrubs and plants all around us in a quaint little spa resort in a village just on the outer fringes of Chiang Mai city.
It’s cold, easily below 20 degrees, the room isn’t heated and I snuggle further into and under the covers.
So this is what an early morning fuck sounds like. It behooves me to imagine how people can do this first thing in the morning. For me, I need to at least get to the loo to empty that full bladder before anything else can happen.
Another thought crosses my mind: quaint as it is, if I’m going to have to put up with unwanted audio feedback of my neighbours screwing, I’ll have to think twice about coming back to this hotel. That, and be more proactive in choosing places to stay when we go on holiday, rather than leave it to the hubby.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
According to a poll I heard on the radio, children worldwide must love football as much as they are exposed to religion. In a list of Who’s Who in the world of kids, here’s the pecking order for the four most famous personalities in the world:
- Wayne Rooney
- David Beckham
Go figure. Amazing!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
What happened to me yesterday serves to prove the point.
I was at KLCC yesterday and decided to have lunch before my client meeting at about 3pm. Since Rizal and I both didn’t want anything heavy, we opted for the Caesar Salad at CBTL. Upon ordering, I noticed that you get a 15% discount if you use the Citibank credit card. So of course, I whipped out the card to hand over to the cashier. That was after he’d rung up the amount: RM43 or so for two lattes and two Caesar salads. So after the discount, it amounted to about RM36.
Me being the la-la that I am, I gave him RM50 to pay for it. Clearly I had forgotten that I had handed him my card. The cashier not only took my cash but gave me change as well. I wasn’t returned my card nor was I given a slip to sign for the purchase (I had by this time, totally and utterly forgotten about the card). Rizal thought it was weird that I had given the guy my card AND paying cash, but he being the hubby that he is, didn’t mention anything. (I’m thinking the cashier hung on to my card.)
So lunch was had, client was met, I of course went on and did my thing, carried on with work, etc.
In the evening I met up with friends for dinner. Before that we stopped over at a boutique to look at clothes. It was then I got the fateful call from Citibank. They wanted to verify a purchase I’d made at Jusco Metro Prima. Jusco Metro Prima??!! Since when? For what? It’s all the way on the other side of the blurdy town!! Then more bad news comes: my card was also used at several gas stations. Shit! My card!! Where’s my card??!! I check my purse. Yikes! Not there.
The Citibank rep of course, cancels the card immediately. I verify with them that the last purchase I made was at CBLT. They confirm it’s for about RM36. And then they drop the bomb: for lost/stolen card cases, the cardholder is liable to pay for whatever transactions that’s been made, regardless of whether you’ve actually made them or not. What the FUCK???!!!! Immediately I tell them they can forget about sending a replacement card and that I will cancel all my Citibank credit cards if they are even remotely thinking of making me pay for stuff I didn’t buy on the card.
It’s not enough that I have given them over RM30,000 worth of business in the last few years nor that I pay ALL my bills on time. Or the fact that I still carry Citibank credit cards despite the fact that my card has been cloned twice in the last year. What the EF??!!!
So, egged on by my friends (who are great proponents on knowing your rights and who have reasonable clout with the press, heck, they ARE the media), I went home that night and wrote an email to Citibank. They have not replied as of yet.
Today, I headed down to CBTL at KLCC to speak to the manager. He wasn’t in, so the assistant manager had to do. I think this whole fiasco is an inside job, CBTL to be blamed entirely because if the cashier was honest, he would have given me back my card and not charged me TWICE for the purchase and kept the card for himself.
I got the number for the store manager and have just gotten off the phone with him. I am to receive a reply be tomorrow afternoon or evening.
CBTL had better re-evaluate the integrity of their employees. And Citibank had better not make me pay for those transactions. Preferably, CBTL could either give me vouchers that amount to that RM36 I paid or just fire the idiot who took my card. If all those things do not happen, I swear, there’ll be hell to pay.
In the first place, I should have been more careful. Sigh. But then again, I don’t usually use credit cards at outlets like Starbucks or CBTL. The amount spent usually is not big enough to warrant usage of a credit card. Stupid discount scheme!
So what have I learned?
That I cannot be la-la where valuables like credit cards are concerned.
Monday, December 19, 2005
The screams sound as though their owner has discovered something terrible and she is screaming to coat her denial or screaming to avoid dealing with whatever it is she has discovered. It is not just a scream, it sounds like shrieks of desperation. It is not a bloodcurdling type of scream; she is yelling something as she is screaming.
Interest piqued, I stand by my bedroom balcony to try to catch what it is that’s going on probably only a few doors away from my house. Dark windows and shadows from across unoccupied neighbours’ houses stare back at me. The screams can’t be coming from the empty houses, I know. It is not a ghostly scream. The screams sound like a woman in anguish, not a woman abused.
I stand for a while more, and the screams continue, albeit softer than the initial shrieks. I turn away because if I was out in the street in front, I’d see myself and I’d wonder why I’m standing at the door, looking out with my head tilted to the side. I don’t want anyone who may be walking in the streets to see me listening.
I go back to my book. The screams slowly subside. I don’t know what they were about. It is the first time I’ve heard screams in the neighborhood. I hope the neighbours have settled whatever it is that brought the screams on.
I came home this evening from tea/dinner with friends I’ve not seen for a long time, only to find I had to scale my own gate to get in because I didn’t have my remote control with me. Hubby is out at a dinner and dance function so he has the remote control in his car. I didn’t drive and mine’s safe and locked in my car. Chico, who drove me home, gave me a helpful leg’s up across the gate. Thankfully he did, I’m not the tallest person I know.
One cat is curled up on my side, grooming herself and the other is, Pixel, the horribly obese brown cow is lying on his back with his belly exposed to the world. Trixie, my other beautiful brown cow, just came in and is sniffing at something in the corner next to my bed.
The hubby is still out. My toothbrush is in the overnight bag we took to Melaka which I guess is probably still in his car since I can’t find said overnight bag anywhere in the house.
I’ve taken a break from Niffeneger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife to fit in some writing before I waste most of my day tomorrow trying to capture everything I want to write down now.
It’s been an eventful evening. I say eventful because meeting up with friends is always an event. It is even more so when it is with a friend you haven’t seen in about three years who decides to surprise everyone with his short return home from Detroit. He would have cooked up an elaborate plot to try to surprise me other than that early morning call last Saturday. But as is typical of him, he admitted he was just too lazy and dispensed with the plan. As a result, I was jolted awake by a phone call at 12 in the afternoon.
It is a comfort in today’s time-warp age where everything travels at DSL-speed, that some things never change and old habits die hard.
Dinner proved just how true this is. We reverted back to our own juvenile ways; talk laced with sexual insults and connotations, sarcastic insults hurled around like ammunition at WW2 (that was more likely me than anyone else), major bouts of eye rolling and hearty laughter, recapturing the bygone days of our much inebriated college youth, and finding out new little know jewels about ourselves.
It is momentous when old friends get together. Especially old friends separated by distance.
We discover that certain people never change. We find out that we ourselves are still the same. Friends who we know used to be reliably unreliable at keeping dates are still reliable in not showing up. Those who usually do show up fashionably late still do so with aplomb. Those who are reliable are, thankfully, still very much so.
Those of us who are vulgar are still throwing insults and vulgarities around. We who adore physical abuse, still slap people around heartily. Like I said, old habits die hard.
We may adopt slightly different personas at work, but when friends get together, we revert to our basic selves. For if we cannot be ourselves in the company of friends, where so can we expect to be ourselves?
Friday, December 16, 2005
The Time Traveler's Wife (Harvest Book) by Audrey Niffenegger is one such book. It being a National Bestseller and all, I wouldn’t have thought there’d be references to familiar names and places. I’ve read many books, bestsellers or otherwise but I have not come across many instances where places mentioned are places I can claim to be familiar with. But surprise, surprise, there is not one, but a few references to places I’m familiar with.
I went to university at Western Michigan at Kalamazoo, so Chicago was but a mere three hours’ drive away. Needless to say, that became our regular hunting ground for a taste of life in the big city. It is with much pleasure than when I’m riffing through and reading The Time Traveler's Wife that I find the present of the story takes place in Chicago, with familiar names like Michigan Avenue, Lake Shore Drive, Dearborn and I am further delighted by the fact that Clare, the traveler’s wife as a child lives in South Haven, on Lake Michigan. I remember I went to South Haven a few times, spending time at the beach with friends. Seeing the name of a place in a foreign country that you know in a book that you’re reading gives a warm feeling in the stomach. I don’t know why, but it does. It’s like, “Hey!! I know that place. I’ve been there! Wow.”
The story gets even better after that. I read that Clare’s sister is studying music with Frank Wainwright in Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo! I have not thought of Kalamazoo in a while. Some of my fondest (and darkest) memories were made in Kalamazoo. Wow!! Maybe now is the right time to bring up that Western used to organize (I don’t know if they still do) an annual music fair which brought together classical and jazz artists to the town to perform in during spring. And it was during this time about nine years ago that Rizal and I bumped into Yo Yo Ma at Detroit airport. We were coming back from our trip to San Francisco and San Diego. He was on the way to Kalamazoo to perform at Western for the fair. And the stupidest thing was, Rizal knew who he was but didn’t go up to him to ask for an autograph. I was wondering if he was who he was but I didn’t give the matter much thought (stupid girl!). I mean, we were practically on the same feeder bus standing across from him, less than five feet away and we were boarding the same airplane heading for the same place. It wasn’t till we had gotten off the plane at Kalamazoo did I realize I was in the same plane as Yo Yo Ma. Yo Yo Ma! Stupid, stupid girl!
There are many ways people associate places, people, things and events. And there are many instances where people associate with these places, people or events. Being able to associate with a particular place when mentioned in the novel I’m reading, I’m able to picture the settings more vividly. I’ve been there, I’ve seen what it’s like, I’ve felt what it’s like to be there. It all becomes clearer. The clarity is one thing. Being able to associate with a place fills me with fond reminiscence. This is because I know I probably will not return to Kalamazoo or South Haven or Grand Rapids in my lifetime (though I may make a run for Chicago). Knowing you will not step foot into a place you used to spend a lot of time in but being able to read about those places when they appear in a book stirs up many memories.
Even to places where I’ve been only for holidays or work, the feelings and memories of that time are stirred when I come across familiar names. Haight-Ashbury, Mission District, Lombard Street and the Painted Ladies in San Francisco; the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and certain arrondissements in Paris; Young Street and Chinatown in Toronto; Chinatown, Little Italy, cetain roads and a certain restaurant in Queens (or was it Brooklyn) in New York City; the factory outlets in New Jersey; the many museums in Washington DC and certain street names; oh dear, once I get started it’s difficult to stop. I think I’ll just stop there.
It’s a pleasant surprise to find a familiar place name or two in a book. It’s like meeting an old friend whom you’ve not kept in touch with. Maybe that’s why I read as much as I do. I also forgot that I’m an escapist and am in denial of the current life which I lead and books are my only way out. I always did tell hubby that I should have been born in the time and realm of fantasy, where elves, wizards, mages, dragons and all manners of magical beings exist. And hubby has told me that if I were to exist in such a time, I would not last very long, given my rash pig-headedness. Hmm…he’s got a point. But anyway, it still would be so exciting to live in a world where real magic existed. Given my penchant for weapons, I can also see myself wielding swords, daggers and other manner of dangerous implements. Sigh…a girl can still dream.
Sexy, smouldering vampires…yummmm!!
My books will finally, finally have a resting place. They’ll be transferred from my wardrobe, the floor, the dining table and various nooks and crannies in the house to their final home: the study.
In the meantime we’ll have to clear out our overcrowded study so that the Ikea people can install the shelves tomorrow.
Joyful and triumphant….!!
I am officially in a christmas mood, although today I am pretty much a zombie from hanging out too late a few nights in a row…again!
Last night’s conlay open finals was entertaining. Well, there were a few couples who were entertaining. Two were so difficult to watch, I had to look at their feet instead of watching their faces. Yes, it was that bad. One of them I think, was clearly in the wrong category: they should have competed in the amateur category. But then again, they might not have made it to the finals if they’d competed in the amateur category.
Anyway, the champs was a no-brainer. Easily the most entertaining, with the cleanest routine and the most interesting stunts: Jackson (I don’t know if the name is right because the blurdy moron of an emcee was hosting again) and Michelle. I LURV her costumer: topaz top and tassles and black, tight pants with shiny, spangly baubles at the hem and strategically placed beading on the bum and the pelvis.
Jason and Ai Mei had a very, very nice routine. It was really a pleasure to watch their routine, however it was populated with shines and they didn’t come together much to dance. And again, compared to the champs, they were not as clean. But if I were to choose, I’d choose to watch their routine again. It really gives one a good feeling watching their routine. Although they didn’t fall in the top three, they did pick up Best Costume.
There were less judges than before. And they were a more varied panel. Again, the person with honorary titles was sitting on the panel (whatever for??!!). I think it may have been a fairer round this time.
Why is it that in each category, there is a Shakira wanna-be: bra-top and all? This time, complete with the song. Sigh…will these people never learn?
The original plan was to stay only until the last competitor had performed. But, as is my style, I stayed longer than I intended to. Even managed to throw in a couple of dances. So poor Chin Lai had to stand around and wait with me while we waited for the results.
And that is why today I feel like a zombie because you can never get straight into bed after a night out, well I can’t anyway. There is the winding down time after you return, and then the lingering a bit at the throne before the shower. There’s also the few minutes in front of the television or a bit of reading before bed. You get the picture.
I hope I can survive the studio xmas party tonight.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
It’s been about five days since he went to the vet. I’m done giving him his anti-inflammatory pills. He’s got another 3 days or so left of antibiotics. He’s still peeing in bits and trying to massage his nether regions to stimulate the muscles to pee.
I don’t know what to do with him. I can only imagine how uncomfortable (and painful) it is not to be able to pee. He is being very good about it and not peeing all over the place like Nessa when she had the problem. He’s still limiting his pee area to his litter box; he just visits it so much more often.
I need to take him to the vet again before the problem gets worse, the pee gets blocked up in his urethra and he dies from poisoning.
Where Meyer takes her time to describe her characters and settings, I find Harris’ style not quite as descriptive or fluent. The latter’s fleshing out of her characters are not quite there and her ‘script’ seems to be lacking, if only because it reads too simplistic to me. Meyer creates a palpable tension and chemistry between Bella and Edward. Even other YA writers like Sarah Dessen seems to be able to paint the delicacies, the pulls and pushes of a relationship better than Harris. Harris just seems to jump about all over the place. She lacks the ‘sophistication’ that authors like Dessen and Meyer ooze.
Sigh, basically if I were to write a novel, it would be like Harris’: lacking. I simply have no patience to write descriptions. So much for entertaining thoughts of writing a book: everything’s going up *poof* in flames.
Maybe I should shoot for a short story, or writing an illustrated book instead…
Saturday, December 10, 2005
- He is impervious to my insults
- He is an MCP, knows it, accepts it and is proud of it (and again, is impervious to my insults about his MCPness)
- Can display hints of being a gentleman if he wants to (which is very contrary considering he claims to be an MCP; a case of closet chivalry?)
- He has a wicked sense of humour/sarcasm which matches, if not overshadows my own (if you’ve seen the Celcom “see football in everything” ads, you’ll know what I mean)
- We trade insults like compliments
- We’re both thick-skinned (but I think his is thicker)
- He’s actually quite smart but masks it in his “spudness”
- Is generous with tips & advice (whether you need it or not)
- Got me an inroad for my old-style kopitiam dining table
- He knows what he wants and that usually has to do with working as little as possible and earning as much as possible while doing the least possible that he can, thus earning him his nickname, Spud
- Allows me to whack him and takes it like a … Spud (I was gonna say man, but nah! Spud suits him to a T. He even looks like one!!)
- Basically because he’s a Spud, he manages to soak up or deflect most of what I throw his way.
So Spud, isn’t it amazing we get on so famously even though we’ve know each other like for what, all of two years max and have met up in what, 5 times only?
Enjoy your trip around Indonesia!!
And don’t get too big-headed that you’ve got a whole entry in your name on my blog.
Friday, December 09, 2005
I feel like I haven’t seen him in ages. I haven’t had dinner with him for days in a row. And I’ve only seen him after work probably twice this week.
I know he’s working extra hard for now, so I bear with it.
But it gets a bit lonely when I only see him for a few hours a day (if I’m lucky) for a max of three days a week.
Hopefully we get to have dinner together tonight.
If not, I will end up spending more money at Borders.
Couple #1, Erin & Martin should be commended because they put in a valiant effort for newbies to the scene; Couple #6, Peggy & Martin smouldered in their routine to No Me Ames and Peggy was sexy and sensual (unlike that Shakira wannabe who basically moved like a slut, and apparenytly June noticed that all judges' eyes were on here when she was out doing her thang during the general dance); Couple #10, Wendy & Kenneth exuded class; and Couple #12, Ai Ling & Chin Lai were smoking and capped the finals with a bang (even though bits of their routine were apparently “borrowed” by the couple before them).
In my opinion, all four couples deserved top spots in the competition. Although my opinion may be somewhat biased, they put in the most all-around showmanship of all 12 couples and rose above the wannabes. And I know all of them put in a helluva load of effort into this competition. In reality, only Wendy & Kenneth made it to the second runner-up positions. Ai Ling & Chin Lai were voted for Best Costume.
It was a very biased night. The idiot DJ was still there and of course, did famously on names and announcements. I will not even begin to go into what he said wrong (almost EVERYTHING!!). All I know is, I kept looking at either Wendy or June and telling them someone should blurdy shoot the bugger. He was so freaking getting on my nerves everytime he opened his mouth. EVERYTIME!!
Anyway, back to the competition...
How do we even begin to compete with the first runner-up who is in actual fact, brother to one of the judges? Or to the winners who, for their finale, stole moves from other couples in the heats? I am not making this up. For their routine, the champions performed at least three different moves which I saw performed by three different couples in the heats following their first heat. One was a split routine performed by a couple in the third heat. The other two moves were stolen from Peggy & Eric (the clasp and back bend move at the beginning of their routine) and Ai Ling & Chin Lai’s in-place knee-bent with one leg stretched move, only the “winners” switched it around so that the guy was doing the move instead of the girl.
How very ingenious of the competitors. Can’t think of your own move so you “borrow” (to put the term lightly) from the other competitors. And what rotten luck that the “winners” were right before Ai Ling & Chin Lai so that it looked as though it was our couple that repeated the move instead.
How do we even begin to have an unbiased position when four out of the seven judges do a different style of salsa, one hates the style that we do and the other probably doesn’t know enough to actually really judge. Out of the seven judges on the panel, only one supports our style, and we all know who she is.
Basically, we were doomed not to succeed from the start. I say doomed in the most technical sense as in, winning the competition. Oh, the club was smart enough to make sure all HE couples made it to the finals. I mean, we were the ones with the most supporters, so of course, all of us must go and support and inadvertently end up buying more drinks. But when you look at it from a technical and political point of view, our couples were not all of them ever going to make it to the top three. We were prepared for it, but we didn’t realize, or rather, I didn’t realize the tremendous odds that were stacked up against our favour.
The other finalists had their strategies planned way beforehand. Where our couples went all out even in the heats, most couples held back and only showed their “real” colours in the finals. I’d like to say that they were inspired by our professionalism and showmanship. Where our couples came dressed appropriately in all rounds, the other competitors only saw fit to dress up and impress in the final round: everyone glammed up their costumes. Except us, of course. We were already glammed right from the beginning.
To add insult to injury, the competitors saw fit to alter or change their routines, either slightly or completely, going all out in the finals. Again, this proved to be their strategy right from the start.
So where did we stand with all this going around? In reality, where the judges were concerned, I don’t think we stood much of a chance.
In my books and I think, in the HE crowd anyway, all four couples stole the night away. Personally, they’re the best. No Shakira lookalike gyrating her hips or shaking her breasts in front of the judges or even show-stopping moves “stolen” from other competitors is ever convince me that our couples are not Number One.
And this supporter here would shout herself hoarse any day to prove the point to anyone else who dares to dispute her opinion. Maybe she may hit a pitch or so off in her frenzied screeching but she’d still shriek her throat dry.
For more gory details on the finals, check out the couples’ blogs for yourself:
Chin Lai's Place
Memoirs of the Unholy Trinity
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Plus I was getting close to desperate with fruitless shopping around for tolerably stylish standing and table lamps.
So I stepped into Ikea.
I had already decided to buy at least 1 standing light to place next to my side of the bed: the Samtid at a reasonable RM129. I was pleasantly surprised that they’d added on to their range of table and standing lamps, mainly table lamps. I was tempted to get a pair of table lamps and maybe an extra Samtid. But uncharacteristically, I managed to stop myself from buying more than just the lamp I wanted. I figured, we don’t even have our bedside tables yet, where the hell am I going to put the table lamps? The lamps on display at Ikea are not gonna sprout legs and walk away, so I can just sit it out until we at least get a bedside table or two.
Excitedly I paid for my purchase, lugged the package home and straight away got down to the business of setting the lamp up. This is the part that I enjoy most: putting the furniture together. It’s similar to fixing a jigsaw puzzle: figure out which piece goes where and voila! you have a whole working lamp.
I was immensely satisfied with the warm yellow glow that the lamp cast on my side of the bed. I love yellow light. It’s so warm and inviting. And I could move the lampshade up or down, sideways or diagonally. Perfect for reading in bed!
I was so happy with it, I left it on in my bedroom till I got ready for my nightly read before sleep.
If only every shopping spree ended up with such a perfect purchase.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
1. Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War (Abarat) by Clive Barker
2. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
3. Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood (Sisterhood of Traveling Pants) by Ann Brashares
4. Tithe : A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black
5. Girl, (Nearly) 16: Absolute Torture by Sue Limb
6. A Wish for Wings That Work by Berkely Breathed (which I have an inkling suspicion I may have already.)
I couldn't resist. I keep picking up these books that people discard thoughtlessly on a shelf where they don't belong. Today was Berkeley Breathed's Flawed Dogs: The Year End Leftovers at the Piddleton "Last Chance" Dog Pound.
Take it from me, what's inside is even funnier. But it also addresses the issue of people leaving their dogs at the shelter for superficial reasons.
Well worth my ringgit.
Monday, December 05, 2005
No really, I was.
As is with most bookstores, I head for the YA or kiddy book section of the bookstore the moment I step into it. I stopped by the islands propped up in the middle of the path on the way to the kiddy section.
"Not bad," I thought to myself. They look like they've got almost as good a selection as Kino.
And then I turn into the kiddy section. Immediately I disliked the way they organized the books: in alphabetical order by author but still the authors were jumbled up. And I could not find the YA books as the shelves had tags that said 'Ages 8-12'. I circled the kiddy section a few times but could not find Louise Rennison of Angus & Full Frontal Snogging fame. Neither could I find Libba Bray, which was a mystery to me as they had her first book, A Great & Terrible Beauty up front in the islands. Patricia C. Wrede was also nowhere in sight. Rick Riordan was mixed up with Gary Paulsen. Huh?
I was convinced that Borders was another con. Had already given up and picked up Peter Carey's Wrong About Japan. Went on a quick round in the CD section. Could not find Shakira's Oral Fixation II. Took the elevator downstairs and was gonna pay but the line was too long.
I headed back upstairs since I remember that the counters were less busy. I was at the counter with my wallet out and ready to pay when the guy at the counter gave me the clincher: if I bought one more book, I was entitled to a 15% discount. Sigh...I am not one to give up on discounts especially for books. So I reluctantly but quite excitedly headed off to the shelves again to see what I would willingly buy to get a 15% discount.
I passed the islands again. I was seriously contemplating Clive Barker's second book of Abarat when I chanced upon the Young Adult section just off the islands. I had missed them completely!! And there I was looking high and low for the YA section in the 8-12 section. AAAARRRRRGGGHHHH!!
I was affronted by a YA section that could almost (and I mean ALMOST because I reserve my favourite for Kino; they still have a better - should i say best? - selection and arrangement of YA and kiddy books). Spinelli, Bray, Rennison, Cabot, Bauer, Frank and more in all their glory. Sigh...heaven!
I have to stop buying books.
I really have to.
I have to stop, stop, STOP!!
That outburst was brought on by my ending up buying the whole of Patricia C. Wrede's boxed set of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. All four books. And the only reason I ended buying them was because Kino had not replied to my email request for an order of the same boxed set.
I still can't believe I bought the boxed set and Peter Carey just to get a 15% discount. I walked away from Borders RM110 poorer and one needless bargain book richer (it was the spawn of a lucky dip that I'd earned from spending RM100 and above).
So, as I was saying...
I was prepared to diss Bprders @ The Curve.
Keyword here is: was.
In all fairness, I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised by Borders' YA selection. It's 8-12 selection is measly and badly arranged by far, compared to Kino's. And of course, Kino still has the wider selection in YA than Borders. But for a start, Borders is doing pretty fine.
I still don't understand why they separated the YA from the kids. There shouldn't be an age discrimination as I would read books from both sections. It's quite dumb really.
I would still count Kino as my favourite. They've got a great book-wrapping service going for them and their staff are the friendliest by far. But as a neighbourhood bookstore (Borders @ The Curve is only 5 mins away from my house), I wouldn't mind dropping in at Borders for a quickie. And this Borders is gonna KILL MPH. If MPH doesn't die a slow and agonizing death, they're gonna either languish into obscurity or die a quick but painful death. If you don't know what I mean, just go ahead and step into the MPH at The Curve, then drop by at Borders on the same floor.
Judging by the various promotions that Borders is spewing out - 15% discount on normal priced books, another RM15 off your next purchase the next month, lucky dips, etc. Kino had better come up with a plan to counter the aggressive marketing efforts put out by the team at Berjaya.
So there you have it. I didn't diss Borders. Even though I thought the first Borders store at Berjaya Times Square was absolute CRAP.
I think I'll give this one at The Curve a fighting chance.
Anyway, so this woman in her Kancil/Kelisa drives through the Smartag lane but doesn't slow down. Of course she ends up hitting the bar at the toll. I see the bar swing away from her car so that it now sits away from the lane. And then I notice the Kancil isn't moving and I start to press on the brakes. Then I take a second look.
Stupid woman went so fast that the impact of hitting the bar cracked her windscreen. Women! They're the most gawdawful drivers around, I swear.
So she's still not moving from the lane and I move the gear to reverse, all ready to turn into the next Smartag lane. Thankfully, she figures there's more cars behind her and moves ahead, stopping behind/in front of the toll booth (depending on which way you look at it). As I go through the toll, I notice that the crack on her windscreen is quite huge. It's like a spiderweb that starts in the middle of the screen, spiralling out towards all four corners.
Serves her right for not slowing down at the toll booth, Smartag or not. (I can say this now because I now slow down considerably when going through the Smartag lane.)
After debating, hemming and hawwing, we’ve finally settled on Chiang Mai as our vacation destination.
Did a mad dash on booking the tix. Found out that MAS doesn’t do direct to Chiang Mai but the travel agent kept insisting that there is one daily flight. More ding-donging around and finally we were proved right. The travel agent had heard Chennai instead of Chiang Mai, duh! And I was on the verge of booking the AirAsia tix because the connecting flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via Thai Airways was supposed to have been sold out. Luckily my trusty admin person is super efficient and managed to sort it all out for me before I hit the Enter key. Hubby and I were adamant in taking MAS because hubby has enrich points that he could at least use against the KL – Bangkok leg.
Phew! Now that that’s settled, I can look forward to planning for activities in Chiang Mai!!
We’ve already been booked in for the spa package at Ban Sabai Village Spa and Resort. All that’s left now is to plan our activities for the 5 nights we’ll be there.
High on my list are:
- The Old City
- The Night Bazaar
- If I have time, take a cooking course
It’s starting to look crowded for just 5 nights’ worth in the city.
I did hear that shopping’s better and cheaper in Chiang Mai than in Bangkok though. Woohoooo!! Am gonna go berserk!
I can’t wait. I can’t wait!!
- To sugarcoat my blatantly blunt and direct remarks
- That not everyone can take my directness
- That some people are just very, very sensitive
- That I can be insanely insensitive
- To just keep my big mouth shut?
Topics that should be avoided:
- Any negativity in all these areas and others (basically, I have to remember my golden rule, which I tend to conveniently forget: if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all)
I should know better, since I’ve lived with two hypersensitive people in my family: my sister and my father. (Hey, it’s not just me! Go ask my mom)! However, experience in this instance doesn’t seem to have been a very good teacher. I still go around blurting out painfully direct opinions and observations, apparently with no regard for the other person’s feelings.
I’ve always wondered if I’d survive in the corporate world, and something tells me I’d die a very quick and probably painful death even before I step foot up the third rung on the ladder.
Thank goodness I have friends like Sam to knock me back on my butt when I’ve overstepped my bounds. In no uncertain terms it’s made clear that my mouth has gone too far. Who could mistake the suddenly frigid and icy air that descends upon all conversation? The curt replies. And then the line, “I don’t want to talk about it!” Oops. Too late. Sigh, the big mouth strikes again.
Luckily for my sensitive friends and family, I’m thick skinned enough that I don’t go wailing and moping after a particularly thorny episode. I tell myself I should know better. Then I keep my big mouth shut. If I remember to apologise, I will. And then a few months or so down the line, I probably blurt out something else that’s painful and the whole process starts again.
Unfortunately for them, the hide can be quite thick. And most people don’t have such thick hides.
Friday, December 02, 2005
The salsa competition at conlay saw its last heat last night. It was just as entertaining as the previous heat the week before. Of course, the HE couples shined amongst the competitors. Kenneth, for once looked cool and suave. I think if there were Chinese teenage schoolgirls in the audience, he would have picked up an instant throng of fans. Wendy and Kenneth made crowd favourite that night. Another HE feather in the cap. Sad to say, there were more sleazy old men than the cute Chinese teenage chicks. I did like the chemistry displayed by an older couple in the group. They also made use of the floor by sashaying across diagonally a number of times. It was a pleasure to watch.
By the end of the night, we had 12 amateur couples vying for the top spots in the finals next week. All eight couples from the open category made it to the finals. They should have just scrapped the open category heats since everyone made it through anyway. It seems rather silly to have four couples from each heat make it to the finals. Twelve couples seem too many for a final event. It seems more like a semi-final than a final. I know what conlay is trying to do: they’re just trying to bring as many people in to the club to stimulate sales of alcohol and liquor. That’s the only reason I can think of why they would want 12 couples for a final showdown. It’s mindboggling to have to decide between so many. Oh well, I’m not competing or even part of the panel of judges, who am I to say?
It’s another week of grueling practice for all four of our HE couples. It will be a final worth watching, if only for the fact that there are so many couples competing.
I can’t wait.
I think I had an overdose of beer on the night of the Conlay competition. It bought me three votes for crowd favourite but also resulted the next day in a racking, hacking cough replete with phlegm. It kept me up almost the entire night on Friday. But still I refused to go to the doctor and admit defeat at the hand of antibiotics.
After hacking and coughing the weekend away, and still showing no signs of improvement by today, I headed to the Chinese doctor (Note the aversion to antibiotics. I grew up ingesting antibiotics, which is one of the reasons I think why my body is so weak now).
He put the stethoscope to my back and asked me to breathe. Halfway through the breath, I could hear myself wheezing and building up to a cough at the end of the breath. I heard the doctor mutter, “This is bad.” I took a couple more breaths and wheezed some more, then coughed some. Then I turned around to face him.
“The next stage to your cough would be asthma.”
“Yeah, well that’s the next stage. Luckily you came now.”
“Anyway, stay clear of chicken, seafood, eggs – half and hardboiled eggs are off limits fried eggs are ok, sweet foods, spicy foods, sour foods.”
I looked at him stunned.
“So what can I eat?”
“It’s only for a few days, until your cough clears.”
“And if it doesn’t clear?”
“Come back and see me.”
So I ended up with 4 packets of Chinese herbs, one for each day. I love seeing the Chinese medical shop people picking out and measuring the various herbs that they use to brew these potions. They use those tiny little handheld weights and they’re so good at using them.
The taste is another issue altogether but I find it curiously mind-boggling to watch the people behind the counter: so many herbs, so many shapes and sizes, so many smells and textures. And it’s all going into my brew.
Give me Chinese herbs any day. When that doesn’t work the third of fourth time around, then I’ll concede to taking antibiotics.