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Month: May, 2008

Escape To Penang Island…

Quick update: Guitar enthuthiasts listen up! The newly-opened Wisma Bentley Music near The Curve is currently having the holy-crap-are-you-serious Taylor T5 on display. 5 gorgeous versions of them to be exact, retailing from RM9200 to about Rm12000. You heard that right, the Taylor T5, the one guitar that brings balance to the force (almost literally), the Holy Grail of all guitars, & it has arrived in our country! I was so overwhelmed playing the black one (yes, I’ve finally played the T5!) I almost forgot about the rest of the guitars I was surveying over the weekend. At the moment I’m considering the beautiful handcrafted L series from Yamaha, either the 16 or the 6, anyone with an opinion?

Upon arrival in Penang on Friday evening, the 1st thing Alan & I experienced was a reduce in sperm count.

That’s because our chief tour guide, the supreme sifu of the universe (of Penang that is), Chun Yan a.k.a. BBS (don’t ask, it’s an inside joke) plunged us straight into a tour around his internship company, Intel, where the other EE nerds (oops!) San Nien, Debbie, Wai Lun, Suet Yeng, & Gary were working as well. Just by driving around the free trade zone full of electronic companies & factories, I could already feel my balls shrinking by the minute. The group of us then proceeded to meet Chris (& a distant Erica) at Altera, who forced us to wear surgeon caps as shoe covers. Yea, as if a lower sperm count isn’t enough, now we have to walk around the company with bright light blue surgeon caps covering our feet. After laughing at how small Intel’s office cubicles are (kidding!) & at how Penang’s “Silicon Valley” was the biggest gathering of geeks (okay okay…joking also!), except probably that guy who attempted to drop a pen near the feet of Debbie’s mini-skirted legs, we proceeded for dinner at the 1st place anyone would bring Penang visitors to for a big makan…McD! Haha…actually we were rushing for our movie date with Harrison Ford & a couple of crystal skulls, so we were short of time. It was here when, in the midst of chomping dead chicken squashed between sesame seed buns, Debbie decided to replace the word “air” with “ass” in the “No Air” song by Jordin Sparks feat. Chris Brown. This was then followed by a remixed version of the chorus by San Nien & I:

“Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe shit with no air ass, can’t live shit can’t breathe shit with no air ass…”

That was only the beginning of the fun. We had only a limited time of 2 days to explore whatever we could explore in Penang. So here’s a summary, in pictures.

Oh, Indy was okay-lah. Was fun mostly, minus the horrendous tarzan & monkey scenes & some terrible CGI usage, while the ending was horrendous.

Part I – Penang Hill

First thing Saturday morning, up to Penang Hill!

We couldn’t hike up the hill because Chun Yan injured his leg the day before, so we used the train

While waiting for the train ride, we decided we had time to make stupid faces…

…or to try to smile like San Nien…ended up overdoing it

Tired of making faces, we decided to take a nap…

Before the ride: Alan (circled red) caught having guilty pleasure with 1 of his holes…

…while Chris was pictured molesting a happily willing San Nien (this is a nice natural pic though!)

In the train: All of us. Chris is slightly out of the picture because…

…he was enjoying swinging & dancing around a pole!

A moment of melancholy atop the hill…

I spotted a hot chick!

Hot chick spots a hot guy. Hot guy spotted another hot chick, forgets previous hot chick.

Alan posing like a girl in between Chris & I

Soon Yen will love this picture, but San Nien got really high when she saw this…I wonder why

We guys tried to run away & leave Debbie to rot on top of the hill

Now I know why the air up there didn’t smell as fresh as it should have been!

Before the “thrilling” canopy walk: Debbie’s final smile

After that, she was laughing & crying at the same time…”Don’t SHAKE!!! Scary ah~! Angry ah~!”

It was a relaxing walk for all of us…

Uh, well, apparently not for all of us. One particular person was clinging so hard to the ropes with both hands, as if she was going to miraculously elevate 2 meters up & over the ropes down to the trees below

The man that made it fun & really pushed the canopy to the limits: Chun Yan. His leg miraculously recovered up there. Gawd knows how

He made the whole walk more exciting than it should be. When he leaned to the right, the whole path swayed to the right…even the trees swayed to the right!

So I had to sway to the opposite direction to balance it out…San Nien was 2D, so she couldn’t contribute any weight whatsoever

We stopped by a scenic “Hobbiton” on the way down…

Part I.5 – The “Malaysians Are Friendly” Test

This is something you should all take notice of. When we were in the train going up the hill at first, all in our group were excited (with San Nien singing the Indiana Jones theme at every chance she got) & decided to greet & wave to the other train that passed our train on their way down. Something simple & innocent turned into an experiment when, with all of us waving & saying “Hello!!!” madly to the other passing train, none in that other train responded even in the slightest, passing us by like zombies, even more emotionless than Resident Evil zombies.

We tried the greeting & waving again as we passed our 2nd train on the way up, & we got the same set of zombies response. WTF? What happened to “Malaysians are friendly & warm& all that Visit Malaysia bullshit? Deciding to give all you remaining Malaysian bastards (aside from the extremely-friendly 7 of us in our group of course) another chance, all of us agreed we will repeat our greeting again on the way down. We were going to pass 2 more trains in the opposite direction as we go down, surely, SURELY, someone, at least ONE, would be less of a zombie & greet us back? That person did not come from the 3rd train; all we got were cold & blank stares, looking at us as if we were 7 horny monkeys on drugs. Sick of making excuses for them, like maybe we really looked like horny monkeys on drugs, or that they didn’t have enough time to wave back at us when our 2 trains crossed paths, we concluded that if the 4th train were to fail in this friendliness test, then Malaysians seriously need a massive behavior overhaul, while Badawi has a one extra reason to resign. Only 7 friendly Malaysians in 4 train-loads of people?!

The 4th train appeared within our sights soon enough. Our hearts were beating so fast San Nien forgot how to sing the Indiana Jones theme. Once the train was near enough, all 7 of us hollered our greetings & waved as enthusiastically as we could at them for one last push for the sake of humanity…the people at the other train were hopeless…there goes Malaysia’s reputation…even the kids didn’t bother carving out a smile…the last guy nearest to the window of the opposing train looked like a lansi Ah Beng product straight from Ipoh…gone, there goes our last hope…wait a minute, the Ah Beng bloody smiled! He is raising his hand…bless our horny monkey faces, he waved back at us! AH BENG JUST SAVED MALAYSIA’S BLOODY ASS! Hurrayyyy!

Talk about suspense eh? That idiot just had to leave it to the last second, ah bengs really love to be heroic don’t they? Thus, we concluded that there are only 8 friendly Malaysians from our 4 sample trains: Kevin, Chris, Alan, Chun Yan, Wai Lun, San Nien, Debbie, & our new friend Ah Beng.

Do note that NO part of the above test story was exaggerated & is 100% true.

Part II – Fort Cornwallis

Next stop: Fort Cornwallis. Salute!

The valiant & brave Private Kevin Wong wasted no time in the frontline of the attack on the Fort, blowing Francis Light’s light bulbs off in 1 single shot

He then proceeded to hold defending Private Chris Lee as hostage

But Private Kevin’s fellow invading comrade, the sadistic serial woman-murderer Private Alan Leow, was less merciful, taking pleasure in violently shooting local milk lady Deborah Sim

Private Alan’s chilling crime spree finally came to an end when muscular General BBS blew his brains without showing any mercy. The mad Private Alan was said to be still smiling in a horny way at gunpoint.

But wait! There’s still hope for the women defending the fort! Vowing to take revenge for Deborah the milk lady’s murder, here comes Corporal Lee San Nien! She was famous for being able to invade bullets by cleverly utilizing her slim 2-dimensional appearance.

The invading army responds by sending in the heroic Sergeant Lee Wai Lun, who was famous for distracting his enemies in the battle field using his yellow slippers

The 2 Lees square off, 2-D vs yellow slippers, & in the end, girl power prevails! Sergeant Lee Wai Lun surrendered & gave his yellow slippers as a present to Corporal San Nien in exchange for her sparing his life

The victorious Corporal Lee San Nien, flanked by her loyal Private Chris Lee & her new lelaki simpanan Private Kevin Wong, who surrendered after the loss of his fellow comrade Sergeant Lee Wai Lun

We noticed Debbie loves to make weird (or funny, from her own point of view) faces

& here’s another. She’s like saying: “I want to OC!”, which she really did want to actually, at that time

In the end, we could no longer stand it & locked her up for good at the fort for various offenses including making weird faces, mistaking dolphins as elephants & for thinking & claiming that the Pas logo was a white circle with a RED background

Part III – Batu Maung Outdoor War Museum

The next day, with Debbie still locked up in prison & San Nien getting married, I mean, attending a wedding, the remaining 5 guys went to explore the outdoor War Museum of Batu Maung.

Talk about having a huge mojo

Chun Yan has a message to George Bush; he is against war…

NOT!!! Die! Die die die! Die you farking mosquitos!

As we further explored the jungles surrounding this fort-turned-war-museum, we made one of the most shocking of discoveries; we found a long-lost caveman wandering around whom we labelled as A.L.A.N. (A Long-lost Ancient Native). He is seen here (extreme right) unable to pose like a civilized human being, but that’s understandable.

We tried our best to teach him to how to pose as normal as possible while taking pictures. Him squatting in a shitting position is the closest-to-normal attempt we could force out of him

Chris leading A.L.A.N. in a brave escape out of the war museum using hidden passages.

On the way we stumbled upon a set of rotten testicles, to which A.L.A.N. identified were his own, chopped off by his village head a long time ago as punishment for inappropriately molesting a baboon

A.L.A.N., pictured here with Expedition Chief Chun Yan & Chris, the man who headed the escape mission & brought A.L.A.N. to safety for future experiments

Finally, a normal pose! All of us with A.L.A.N. after successfully crossing over the border

As you should realize by now, this is not a properly detailed journal of my travels in Penang, instead it’s a parody of sorts. Please find the more accurate & proper stories of our Penang trip at San Nien’s Anyway, I would like to forward a massive word of gratitude to the temporary Penangites for having Alan & I over for the weekend, & for bringing us around to great spots to makan & visit! How remarkable it is that simple things became so memorable because of the company. It was undoubtedly a whole lot of madness, even the first night chat with the guys & the pillow talk was awesome (thanks for that girls, & to San Nien for not allowing me to sleep), & I certainly welcome the weekend break from all the stress back in KL. Looking back at some of these absurd pictures, there was certainly an embarassing amount of childishness involved, but hey, if you can’t find time to let out the inner child within you once in a while to just have a little fun, then you lead a depressing state of life my friend. I returned from Penang a whole lot heavier from cendols & laksas & char kuey teows, with the hope that my sperm count increases back to normal soon.

On another note, Digby’s album, Unfold, did not disappoint. It is a very pretty album, nothing outstanding about her voice or songs, but the 2nd half of the album deserves a listen. At the moment, I’m hooked to “Spell”; her voice is unassumingly angelic in these sort of intimate songs. I’m disappointed about the “Unfold” track though, it could have been so much better if she had only used a brighter guitar for the choruses.

Marié Digby Acoustic Live in KL…

Overheard in Starbucks IOI Mall; a Chinese dude on the phone: “I now at Setarbak ah, you now come Setarbak find me ok!”

If Marié Christina Digby‘s recent acoustic showcase at 1 Utama on Wednesday night was to prove anything, it was that loads of Malaysians watch YouTube, loads of Malaysians love to just be at a free concert even when they don’t know who the heck is performing, & loads of Malaysians were there to just take photos of her rather than listen to her sing.

& honestly, yes, at first I was there mainly because I was curious of the hype of this gorgeous-on-video Japanese Irish-American (yet another rojak hottie) who’s most popular due to her doing an acoustic “ella ella ella” & posting herself on YouTube. & because I don’t have to spend a penny to satisfy my curiosity. What I didn’t expect was the truck loads of people that were already cramming near the stage at the ground floor anxiously waiting for her appearance more than an hour before 8pm. So I positioned myself on the 1st level balcony; at least from there I really get to see the whole of the stage rather than getting sardined down there in front of the stage. The anticipation of the crowd was noticeable & growing, & catapulted a level higher when 1 young girl who was at the 1st row suddenly collapsed, though fortunately she regained consciousness a minute later. Maybe a guy farted beside her.

Anyway, the emcees started off the night & were disappointing (though VJ Jay looked good), going slightly overboard with their self-centered ramblings. Then 3 contestants who were selected to compete for the Yamaha APX-500 guitar prize went up on stage to sing Digby’s “Say It Again”. The 1st was Kimberly, only 12 years of age, who was a nervous wreck but recovered & hit the high notes convincingly in the chorus, followed by a dude who totally bombed with his over-the-top antics & for holding a piece of paper containing the lyrics. Yeap, he couldn’t remember the lyrics, & as hard as he tried to be charming, he made a complete fool of himself. The 3rd contestant was a girl who was forgettable, & anyway we all knew who was going to be the winner, since it was going to be decided by the volume of the crowd’s cheer. Everyone however just wanted to get all this done with as quickly as possible, because we all wanted the guitar chick on YouTube to start singing!

Cameras & camera phones flashed furiously when the extremely lovely (& I mean by golly, REALLY LOVELY) Digby finally stepped on stage, flashing a smile so sincere & endearing, accompanied by her guitar bloke whom she later introduced as Lance. With a shy wave at the crowd & the customary “Apa khabar?”, she started off the first few chords of “Say It Again” on her Yamaha L Series to the hoots, cheers & applause of the crowd, who began to push forward to catch a better glimpse of her. I could tell those at the ground floor, even those quite at the front, could not see squat. Haha! Should have taken the escalator up a floor eh?

She went through 3 instruments in total, first starting off with that Yamaha L Series, then doing a couple of tracks on the Yamaha keyboard before finally slinging on the Gibson for the last few songs, including “Umbrella”, which she performed alone on stage sans Lance. Digby possessed a kinda soothing & unbelievably sweet voice (i.e Holly Brook), just the kind I adore. Her songs were fairly simple & safe, but nevertheless poignant & easy on the ears. She may not be as skillfully effortless as KT Tunstall on the guitars, but she still looked comfortable playing & singing live. In the beginning, the 1st thing that caught me slightly off guard was how much bigger she was in person. The next thing I noticed was her unblemished skin, lolz. As she breezed through her songs effortlessly, I was pretty impressed by how comfortable she seemed on stage in her own skin, radiating such a natural down-to-earth personality. She spoke humbly, waved shyly at times, but was just so darn hopelessly sweet (there is no other word!) all throughout her appearance, fully endearing herself with ease to the crowd. I do like her outfit that night as well, the dress & the boots rocked! Blessed with such engaging, alluring & doll-like beauty is perhaps a bonus but not such a good thing for her music however, as most of the crowd that night were definitely clamouring for her because of her looks. Look at how crazed the crowd was lining up for the autograph session at GAP after the performance. I however, was appreciating her music, though saying I was not infatuated by her sweet demeanor would be a really big fat lie.

To be frank, though unspectacular, the 30 minutes acoustic showcase was rather good. However, I have to say the choice of the venue was the biggest mistake. Digby’s songs had that slight indie affecting feel to the pleasant pop melodies, & performing them armed with just a guitar & 1 single backup guitarist was just not made for a shopping complex crowd. A majority were more interested in snapping a good shot of her rather than just listen to her angelic voice. In fact most of the crowd were already losing interest in listening by the 4th song, which is maddening & saddening, really. No doubt a free showcase at a shopping complex would lure a much bigger crowd & make her a household name, but her performance belongs indoors, where the audience would be able to just sit down & appreciate the simple quality of her music in a quiet, relaxed mood. After seeing Digby in action here, I wouldn’t even hesitate to pay for an indoor intimate acoustic performance by her, but that’s just me. That being said, I was still mesmerized & enjoyed Digby’s efforts that night.

Just to add, as I was on the the 1st row on the 1st floor balcony & there were some people behind me who tried to peek above or through, there was this chick who was standing behind me. She was trying really hard to catch a glimpse of Digby, so hard she was practically leaning on me. Now, I’m not complaining but it was rather uncomfortable trying to ignore the pair of fruits that were poking my back the whole time. Halfway through the show however, to my horror I discovered that tropical season was over; the pair of fruits was replaced this time by the chest of a man. “Oh gawd murder me”, I thought furiously to myself, I so DO NOT want to feel a fcuking sausage poking my bloody hamburger ass if that dude was to lean on me. Thankfully he did not, or maybe he just had a small twat. Oh, a Malay dude who was standing beside me was just telling me how gorgeous Digby was, & said she looked “macam awek Smallville tuh, Kristin Kreuk la”. Oh well.

Yay! Digby pointing at me! Or that lucky bastard beside me…

In a nutshell, Digby gave an extremely simple stripped-down sweet (there’s that word again) & unassuming performance, & though she did not make an immediate fan out of me (yet?), she was successful in piquing me to get a taste of her album, soon. Well, there is no doubt however that she sounds more interesting than sultry but dull Colbie Caillat, that other online phenomenon. I may have attended this showcase because it was free, but at the end of it I do kinda feel blessed & thankful that she stopped by for us.

I’m getting tired now, so to cap it off, here’s a really quick review of The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which I managed to catch on the 1st day of showing. Though maturer & grittier, I would say it was overloaded with too many battle scenes that it lost the heart & spark the 1st movie had. Some of the scenes were however well executed (the 1 on 1 face-off between Peter & the King was an example), the grumpy Trumpkin (played remarkably well by Peter Dinklage) & the swashbuckling mouse added some rib-tickling humour here & there, & all in all, the movie did enough to still make the whole viewing an engaging one. Now I am not a fan of the 1st Narnia movie, but I have to admit that there were good things from it; Georgie Henley was extremely endearing as Lucy Pevensie, Aslan was impressive with Liam Neeson voicing it, Tilda Swinton was imperious as the White Witch, & Harry Gregson-Williams composed a lush & beautiful score, especially during the build-up to the final battle.

Prince Caspian

Here, a much taller Georgie Henley still impresses, completely lovable, & has the best appeal of all the characters. However, the 4 Pevensie kids remain very unlikable together & completely have no chemistry with each other. Let’s face it, William Moseley & big-cheeked-sausage-lips Anna Popplewell can’t really act, as much as they have improved this time around. I was especially disappointed with Popplewell’s dull performance, since Anna was given a bigger presence this time around, from her character development to her kick-ass role in the battle. Ben Barnes fares better as the new addition to the cast as Prince Caspian. Aslan was given less screen time this time around, only appearing towards the end to abruptly save the day. The worse was the villains in this sequel, who were just a whole bunch of lunkheads lumbering around stupidly. Tilda Swinton’s deliciously evil presence is felt in that few minutes she appeared, & is definitely sorely missed in this movie. Harry Gregson-Williams returns again & as beautiful as the original scores for the 1st movie were, it was sad to see him basically just reusing & recycling the exact same themes in this movie.

Kevin can’t stop playing Paramore’s “That’s What You Get.”

Speed Racer: Cartoonish, Outrageous, Fun!

    You can actually die from constipation after 3 days? Something hidden is going on…

    There is actually an association for the wives of BN muffinheads? Wtf? & what in the name of Sammy Vellu’s belly are they doing having 9.9 million bucks? Shop like the WAGs of English footballers?

    Kevin & Kareen both agree that Alan has Parkinson’s. He vibrates his head & parts of his anatomy rather violently when laughing. Kevin & Alan both agree that Kareen has down syndrome. All 3 agree, however, that Kevin seems to be the only completely normal one so far.

    Hm, perhaps something is wrong with me somewhere, because well, I actually rather enjoyed Speed Racer.

    There was nothing else to watch over the weekend anyway. So there I was, stepping into the cinema with Alan & Kareen, without having even the slightest of expectations or knowledge about Speed Racer’s anime history, aside from the fact that this is a big screen version by the reclusive Wachowski brothers collaborating with Joel Silver; the same dudes who blew our brains away with The Matrix & actually made Keanu Reeves’s kayu acting look cool. This lack of knowledge of the anime series, coupled with a complete lack of interest in anime anyway, probably led to me thoroughly enjoying the movie as a movie by itself.

    Before you even think of expecting anything, you must understand that this is made to be a live action cartoon film. You want realistic special effects, go watch Transformers again & again, because here, Speed Racer was completely over the top, outrageously colourful & exhilarating. Farking throw realism & logic out the window, because this is just something fantastical shot straight out of a child’s dream. A typical storyline about a young boy making it big in racing only to find out that how dirty the real world of racing is, & how in the end he valiantly tries to be a hero in making a change, I actually felt the childhood joy & excitement I used to have as a boy watching my favourite Saturday morning cartoons on TV years & years ago! From the moment I found out that Speed Racer is actually our boy hero’s name, well, everything fell into place & I just sat back to enjoy the ride & fun. The colours everywhere were ridiculously too strong & outlandish to stomach, & the effects will knock the socks off you with it’s absurdness, but it was all part of the fun! Unless, of course, you are colour-blind…or your mama didn’t allow you to watch cartoons last time, at all.

    & because this was cartoon brought to life, the characters were all, typically, as in all cartoons, 2-dimensional & under-developed. What else could you expect anyway? Thankfully the cast did pretty good with what they had, especially the parents (Goodman & Sarandon) & of course, Mr. Speed himself, played by Emile Hirsch. Okay, perhaps Matthew Fox really should just stick to being Jack in Lost, because after this rather unconvincing Racer X performance, I just think he’s not really cut out for the big screen. I did however wish to see more of Christina Ricci’s Trixie, she was delicious! Rain, making his Hollywood debut, well…he was trying really hard. The villains are also typical & predictable, like the Snake dude…haha, oh well, this is why we all love cartoons anyway.

    When the film gets going & shows the action-packed blazing races, it was thrilling, but sometimes the conversations & the attempts to evoke emotions & moral ambiguity kinda drags. Even the plot becomes rather senseless & confusing at times, but really, who cares? When it came down to the last race, especially towards the grand finale, as our hero recalls moments of his life in his mind as he tears down the tracks, then goes headlong into a crashing battle with 2 cars whizzing all over him, with those hilarious multi-national announcers going furiously bonkers along with the Racer clan hollering hysterically, it was truly a predictable but thumping, satisfying end. I have absolutely no doubt the critics will crucify this movie to bits, but for goodness sake, this is a live action CARTOON flick!!! Criticizing the unrealistic special effects is like comparing PowerPuff Girls to Saving Private Ryan, you dumb old bores. For me, this movie does well as an entertaining summer popcorn adventure, don’t expect anything more than that & you might just come out of the cinema still humming “Go Speed Racer!” , like me.

    Next up, the unappealing Narnia kids & a 60-year-old Indy. Oh, might drop by 1U this Wednesday to catch the acoustic performance of Ma-ree-ayy Digby, since it’s free. Her music does not particularly attract me, but live acoustic performances by a cute chick that’s free? I’m there. Anyway, if she really sucks, which I doubt she will (I mean, she couldn’t be that bad), at least I get to judge whether she really is that gorgeous in real life.

    Kevin badly wants to watch Paramore live & acoustic. Badly. Really really bad.

Born Today

    “Happy Birthday” by Weird Al Yankovic.

Well, it’s time to celebrate your birthday, it happens every year
We’ll eat a lot of broccoli and drink a lot of beer
You should be good and happy that there’s something you can eat
A million people every day are starving in the street

Your daddy’s in the gutter with the wretched and the poor
Your mama’s in the kitchen with a can of Cycle Four
There’s garbage in the water
There’s poison in the sky
I guess it won’t be long before we’re all gonna die

Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you

Well, what’s the matter little friend, you think this party is the pits
Enjoy it while you can, we’ll soon be blown to bits
The monkeys in the pentagon are gonna cook our goose
Their finger’s on the button, all they need it an excuse

It doesn’t take a military genius to see
We’ll all be crispy critters after World War III
There’s nowhere you can run to, nowhere you can hide
When they drop the big one, we all get fried
(Come on boys and girls, sing along, ok?)

Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
wow! (background screaming, sound effect)

Well there’s a punk in the alley and he’s looking for a fight
There’s an Arab on the corner buying everything in sight
There’s a mother in the ghetto with another mouth to feed
Seems that everywhere you look today there’s misery and greed

I guess you know the Earth is gonna crash into the sun
But that’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a little fun
So if you think it’s scary, if it’s more than you can take
Just blow out the candles and have a piece of cake

Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you

(Happy Birthday!)

And a pinch to grow an inch!

    Uh…okay, probably not the best song to dedicate to her eh? That would grant me a free membership to the M.U.B.U. Club (Most Unromantic Boyfriends/Bastards United) for sure. Or worse, she’ll kick my ass.


    Happy birthday, dear. Thanks for the completeness.

    Actually yours – KeV. Peace.

Kick-Off: Iron Man

    Things to ponder upon this week:

1. The latest hottest reality TV show to hit our shores is the live telecast from the Dewan Rakyat: the place where Honourable Monkeys gather.
2. In football, it is actually possible to score a Premier League goal with your boy sausage, as demonstrated by Christiano Ronaldo’s goal against West Ham yesterday.

    Iron Man, in 3 words: The. Audi. R8.

Audi R8

    Okay okay, it’s actually: Robert. Downey. Junior.

    What a way to kick off the summer blockbuster season. Um, okay so there’s no summer in Malaysia, but that’s quite beside the point. Anyway if there was summer in Malaysia it sure doesn’t feel like summer right now because it’s been constantly raining cats & dogs & even horses & pigs & ducks & rats & dugongs…you get the point, since December till now. Which just kinda gives me the feeling that the world is gonna end the way The Day After Tomorrow depicted it, in superfreeze mode rather than the way in the 2 hour Al Gore lecture in An Inconvenient Truth. Have I gone off course? Right…we were talking about the man who made maroon & gold look ultra-cool.

Robert Downey Jr.

    I watched it twice with Alan & Chris in the cinemas, so you know for hell sure it was awesome. The movie kinda felt like a gritty war movie in the beginning, as billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark gets captured by the Ten Rings group (a hint at the Iron Man’s future ultimate nemesis, the Mandarin), which have in their possesion Stark Industries’ weapons. In captivity he meets his fellow prisoner & car battery specialist, Yinsen, who thanks to him, Tony now has to carry around a 12V car battery everywhere. Instead of bending to the Ten Rings leaders (bald gay-looking dude & fat dumb ass dude) orders to build the Jericho missile for them, he builds himself an impossibly mini nuclear reactor for his damaged heart (so he does not need to bring that car battery with him when he goes for one night stands…you know, it’s kind of a turn-off for the chicks). He then sets on to build the 1st version of Iron Man with whatever the dumb Ten Rings asses provide him with, making it an escape plan for him & Yinsen. However, during the escape, due to the slow program loading, Yinsen dies while Iron Man Beta Version 1.0 manages to escape in a short burst of flight from the camp. Basically after that, the movie went into comic book mode, where Tony Stark, in an act of redemption, builds a much improved & good-looking suit to kick some bad ass guys, flirts around with his assistant, Pepper Potts, & has a final showdown with his company partner, Obadiah Stane, who himself has built the Iron Monger.

Stark & Pepper

    So the story is pretty much simple & formulaic, so what the hell made it so good? For one, director Jon Favreau paid great attention to the detail & realism of the fully CGI’ed Iron Man suit, & it paid off. Stark’s genius & skills were on full display for us to gasp & ooooh at every step of the detailed rendering & design works on the suit, from scratch to the final upgraded version. It was exhilarating to watch Stark constructing his suit from scratch, & during those hilarious flight tests. Wasn’t his virtual design programme marvelous? There was even a rubbish bin for him to throw crap in virtually! What the fart! Favreau then gave us further delight during scenes like the suit undergoing a full-body check, & then came the first time Stark put on the maroon & gold suit, where every single part was carefully assembled & fitted on him by robotic arms. Although it looked remarkably similar to Transformers, it was completely slick. During flight, parts of the suit moved to achieve aerodynamic realism on screen, & the full suit was given slick mechanical sound & whirrings during movement. & did you notice Stark was wearing a diving suit before stepping into the titanium gold alloy suit? A nod to Favreau’s detailed effort, it was incredible.

    The cast itself is solid, but hands-down Robert Downey Junior was perfectly cast as the larger than life Tony Stark. Downey gave the character the exact amount of arrogance, flamboyance, conflict & charm needed, from playboy billionaire weapons mogul to a man with a personal mission to save the world from the very weapons he created. His affinity for the character shines, even more when it bore some parallel resemblance to Downey’s own personal life. Downey looked so natural in Stark’s shoes, nailing all the comedic one-liners with spot-on timing. Speaking of that, the movie itself was filled with comedic elements that were perfectly timed, which helped keep the entertainment at the highest of levels. Oh boy how we all laughed during those suit flight tests, especially at 10% thrust! What about in the beginning, when escaping the cave in the 1st suit, a baddy tried to shoot at the armour head of Stark when his hand got stuck, & the bullet just bounced off & hit the baddy’s own head? Simply hilarious! Even the robotic arms, Butterfingers & Dummy, were lovable! While Downey was supremely Stark through & through, the rest of the cast, though massively talented & established, suffered in comparison. Gwyneth Paltrow, an Academy Award winner, did everything she could with Virginia “Pepper” Potts, the 2D perfect assistant to Stark, & was sweet & loyal, but that’s about it, aside from the fact that Paltrow really looked good on screen. She did however have some remarkably serious chemistry moments with Downey; the scene of her helping to replace the nuclear reactor in Stark’s body was a perfect example, as were their awkward sparkling conversations. Paul Bettany was the voice of JARVIS (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System), the A.I. “butler” & suit programmer for Stark, while director Favreau himself cameo’ed as Horgan, Stark’s driver.

    Perhaps the most disappointing were Terence Howard & Jeff Bridges. Terence Howard looked pitiful all along, & his only memorable contribution was his glance at the prototype suit of Iron Man & then saying “next time, baby.”, a nod at his future becoming of the War Machine of course. Jeff Bridges sure looked like a bad-ass, but the scariest thing about him was his bushy beard & bald head, otherwise there just wasn’t enough development screen time in his character for us to truly feel the fear & urgency of him becoming the Iron Monger. The villain was simply not up to par with Iron Man, which gave us that feeble & predictable finale that did not match the rest of the movie. However, though there was certainly not enough action in the final showdown (& frankly I couldn’t see much of what was happening when Iron Man was squaring off with Iron Monger on the streets even after 2 viewings), Favreau did give us some truly adrenaline-pumping moments when Iron Man went on his first mission at Gurmila (did you see the way he landed in front of the fat dumb ass?), then got hit by a shot fired by a tank while in flight, taking out the tank in a true superhero backdrop scene, then went head to head with two F-22s. Though it might be a tad limited overall, this movie was more about how Stark became of Iron Man, & as most time & attention were given to the making of the hero, everything was justified. Oh, you might wanna stay after the credits to catch the conversation between Stark & Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson.

    All in all, though not exactly perfect, Iron Man still lived up to all the hype & thrilled me to bits. The effects & the CGI of the armour were extravagant, marvelously realistic & exhilarating, but did not overshine the film’s emotional resonance & finer points, or the Audi R8…kidding. After disappointing comicbook superhero movies like Ghost Rider, Spidey 3 & Fantastic Four last year, I am absolutely euphoric (& relieved) that Iron Man has managed to live up to my expectations, & many across the world for sure. One can only hope The Dark Knight continues if not better the superhero momentum. Though contrasting in mood, as Bruce Wayne/Batman is darker & broodier compared to Stark’s flamboyant personality, Downey certainly has matched Bale in making their respective characters bigger than their suited hero persona. As a matter of fact, Iron Man’s success is reflective to that of Batman Begins due to 1 similarity; that both Favreau & Nolan decided to dwell & concentrate on the man behind the suit before anything, & both had a capable cast of pulling that off. Iron Man though has the upper hand when it comes to onscreen chemistry; Paltrow was a perfect match with Downey.

    As for matching the absolutely jaw-dropping Audi R8 of Stark, Bruce Wayne might want to consider throwing away that new motorbike of his, & perhaps purchase the car that was inspired by the F-22 design: the Lamborghini Reventon.

    At least Batman might be able to hook up with chicks easily in that screamer compared to the big-ass clunk of a Tumbler he has.

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