Archive for the ‘Bitten by the Shutter Bug’ Category

I was among a 1,000-strong crowd that waited outside the gates of KLCC Park Mall to attempt to be first in line to get our grubby paws on one of three copies of the special limited edition Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Kinokuniya Bookstore was giving out.

As you can see from this picture:

So many people already queueing up! Boo hoo hoo! :-(

My chances were somewhat dismal…

It got even worse… the moment we were given the go-ahead by the strict, mean-looking KLCC security personnel, the mob just madly, wildly rushed in… pushing against the glass doors, trying to get past and squeeze in as much human fleshies as possible through the small opening of the glass doors. People were falling over each other, trampled upon and a few were purportedly ended up with broken limbs! Terrible! I could still hear one of the security guards’ screaming, “OYY!!! JANGAN TOLAK, SATU PERSATU! JALAN SAJA!! JANGAN LARI!! TAK TAHU ARAHAN, KE??”

In short, it wasn’t pretty… all manner of garbage and early morning food stuff were simply abandoned and tossed on the floor for the poor cleaners and guards to clean up. The injured muggles were all left trailing in the wake of the others. It goes to show that Malaysians’ civic-mindedness goes kaput the moment everyone had set their hearts’ desire to obtain something for free… at whatever cost! It’s every man/woman/child/hermaphrodite for themselves!

After about an hour or so of waiting in line, I finally came face-to-face with the Portrait of the Fat Broad herself…only that she’s there in the flesh!

The Portrait's ALIVE!!! Nah...it's just the front entrance to the Kino Bookstore, helmed by the Fat Broad who requires a password before one can enter.

In my opinion, she looked great, probably one of the best-looking fat ladies I’ve ever seen and the dress does complement her size.

So, I got the book at a 30% discount as I managed to cut out discount coupon that came with last Sunday’s StarMag’s paper in the literature section. Retail price of the book was RM109.90 and after the 30% discount, I only have to pay RM76.93. But that’s nothing compared to the price these two hypermarkets in Malaysia are offering! Smart move to encourage the lower-income earners to buy the book to read, and I totally think that MPH, Times, Popular and Harris are complete idiots to refuse selling the books in their store. I don’t think anyone’s complaining anyways, it’s their loss and all I can say is that they deserve it for trying to squeeze every single penny from us ordinary folks.

Before I went home, my friend Ian managed to snap a picture of this happy quartet who were No.1, No.2, No.3 and No.9 in line at the queue, and thus, went home with lots of Harry Potter goodies:

Lucky winners Donovan Liew (far right), Daniel Rajasingham Subramaniam (second from right), Dayana Liew (third from right) and Lee Swee Bee (far left) show off the goodies they walked away with after waiting in line with hundreds of others - all wanting to be the first few in KL to get their hands on the book.

I’m glad that it were mostly kids who managed to be among the first 13, so I’m not that disappointed. I’ve already decided that if I do get to be among the first 13 in line, I’ll be willing to give up the space to any forlorn-looking kid. After all, I got the money to afford buying the book.

Me and Ian left KLCC and headed for MPH 1 Utama to pick up another copy of the Harry Potter book which I pre-ordered which Ian bought off me. We expected quite about the same number of crowd, so imagine our shock when we greeted with near-deafening silence – no screams of joy, no “hip hip hoorays” or any of the shindigs that was promised by MPH. That’s when we found out about them refusing to sell the books. Luckily, they still let those that pre-ordered them earlier to come pick up their books but stupidly turning away walk-in customers who were looking to buy the book.

A special “limited edition” mug came with my pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The mug’s ain’t nothing to shout about so, not going to waste paste by putting up a rather boring-looking mug. Would most likely put it up for sale on eBay through Ian’s sister.

Shortly afterwards, Ian and I made our parted ways to make our journey home. I got back about two hours ago, washed up, had a bit of chow and getting online to blog about this morning’s events and finally, I began reading the book…

My ppprrreeeccciiiooouuussss copy of the final book in the Harry Potter saga.

No spoilers! ^_^

That’s all folks! For further Harry Potter-ness, including a review (which I would write the moment I finish reading), head over to my litblog.

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Sulz, hope you don’t mind I curi your style of writing for this post…

Last weekend, self went on a trip with self’s imouto-chan, Naoko and his bro up to Penang Island. It was a good trip overall, but self wasn’t really self at that time…if you catch what self meant.

Self didn’t mean to cause anyone heartache with self’s emoing and angstying – it’s suppose to be a holiday where all of us can have a good time, relax, recharge, have fun and… er… make out. Gomen ne, imouto-chan!

Self will not explain any further here, doing so will mean exposing more than just self’s feelings (hey, everyone’s entitled to one deep dark secret which they just want to keep it in the closet, geddit??)… Anyways, self just want to wish the best and the most happiest for self’s imouto-chan.

That done, here’s an ultra brief summary:

Self on the right, with my imouto-chan and her bro in the canteen section of the train. Yes, we travelled to and fro to Penang via the night train (and also the ferry). Been a loooooooonnnnnnggggg time since self slept on a train. Brings back self’s kiddy memories. Pic is not so good because imouto’s brother took it with self’s 2MP phone cam.

 Upon our arrival at Butterworth train station, we met up with a friend of imouto-chan’s who accompanied us in our ferry trip to Penang Island. There, we met up with imouto-chan’s boyfriend and another friend – yes, self’s imouto-chan has plenty of contacts, which made me envious of her social prowess (meeting acquaintances is easy for self but gaining & making real friends is hard). Anyways, the whole gang went for breakfast at a so-so mamak before going to check in at the YMCA hostel. After a nice shower and relaxation (plus after a short, weird photo session), we head of for some sight-seeing. This next picture was taken in front of the the grand-looking Penang City Council building. We were dropped off in front of the building as we walked from along the beach to Fort Cornwallis to the Jetty and to Penang Street (I think it was Penang Street…). It was pretty fun, self hadn’t walked around the town in eons and we also bought a few of boxes of of yummy Ghee Hiang biscuits to take back home.

 

This next picture shows a row of well-preserved pre-war (or maybe it was post-war, self ain’t exactly an expert on Penang history despite self being a history buff) houses turned into shops and offices overlooking the Penang Jetty. These buildings looked so modern now but they still retain a rich history behind them and the architecture is definitely Victorianesque. We won’t be able to find many buildings like these in Kuala Lumpur anymore…even if there is, they’ll be torn down by the insensitive DBKL jerks.

It’s the Penang City Council Building again, taken from another angle.

Here’s a pic of self, imouto-chan and imouto-chan’s young friend. Yes, yes… self looked very scary in this pic. Self isn’t flattered by how self looked on that day…. -__-“

The next pic was taken on the second day. Taken by imouto-chan’s bro. Self was at Gurney Drive sitting on a ledge by the beach, looking into the distance. Note the tall, high rise building on the background behind self. That’s what peppering the length of Gurney Drive. It was a peaceful (then again, maybe not…traffic was bad since it was a weekend. Friend says congestion still happens all the time regardless of whether it was a weekend or a weekday. That’s the price for modern development, people!!), refreshing moment…just to be able to look out into the sea and smell the fresh, salty breeze. This was taken several hours before departed for KL.

Despite everything, self really, really enjoyed this trip with imouto-chan. Self hopes that self will be more like the self my imouto-chan knows self for. Self hopes self is still in imouto-chan’s good books after this trip.

I’m not an avid follower of Halloween, but who can resist having a fun time partying and dressing up as evil ghouls, phantoms, witches and movie vilains as well as playing trick or treat while we were kids? Halloween is not just for kids anymore these days, even grown ups get on the act too, with many corporate functions and social gatherings throwing parties to celebrate this spooky celebration.

Halloween for me, brings back memories of two years ago when the private school I was working for then had thrown a Halloween party for the kids. It was a blast for the children, all of them enjoying themselves very much as they searched the classrooms for hidden teachers who are giving away sweets and candies to the children. Who would’ve thought getting mobbed by kids in all sorts of costumes and ghoulish make up and accessories would be so much fun?

Below are two pictures that I have from that day. Miss ’em so much and I hope they are all well.

students_Halloween2004-1 My former Grade 6 students partying on Halloween Night 2006

And for the rest of you, hope you have happy memories of this annual spooksfest. It may not be as much as fun in Malaysia as it is in America, but I do hope everyone have fun on this day.

Meanwhile, why don’t those of you who have nothing on for the night/day check the links below about how Halloween had originated. Halloween, a very long time ago, was never a costume celebration – it was a day set apart to commemorate/honour the dead, just like the Chinese’s Hungry Ghost Festival and the Christians’ All Souls Day.

Related Links

Wikipedia on Halloween
Aristotle Presents: All Hallow’s Eve
Halloween: A History
The History and Customs of Halloween

What makes a photo become a great photo? Prominent National Geographic photojournalist Michael Yamashita shared with me some tips on how to take great photos…

Me in blue shirt interviewing Michael Yamashita

  1. Light is of great importance when it comes to taking great pictures. Every great photo is usually the result of the element of light. The half hour either side of sunrise and sunset, dubbed the ‘magic hour’, is when the light is best for making pictures outdoors.
  2. Gestures are also important. Maximise the ideal situation for the subject – what the subject is doing, the body movements of your subject, actions and reactions of your subject.
  3. Must be technically proficient. For your pictures to be well-exposed, sharp and composed, you need to know all about shutter speeds, the lenses, colour saturation and the like. Great pictures are usually the ones that require the least or no editing.
  4. To get that great picture, you need to know what you want first. You need to be able to pre-visualise. You need to identify the kind of picture you want to take, how to take it and when it is best to take it. You have to be visualise in your mind clearly the photo you want to take.
  5. Great pictures creates impact. Look for the extraordinary in everyday situations. If a picture doesn’t grab the attention of people – to make them pause and study it, it’s not a great picture.
  6. Work the situation – meaning take advantage of as many shots as possible. One shot from one angle is never enough and will not necessarily produce the result you want. Chances of getting a great picture is when you’ve taken plenty of shots of the same subject from different angles and viewpoints, depending on light, distance and colour..
  7. Colour is the most important if you choose to shoot in colour. You want powerful saturated colour, but more often than not, pictures are underexposed. The best way is to manually expose base on medium grey, which incidentally, is the same as the colour of the palm of your hand for Asians.
  8. Take advantage of unusual weather situations. All types of green flora are actually best taken when it is raining, so don’t be afraid of taking pictures when it rains cause you might get really great pictures under abnormal weather conditions.
  9. Remember, great pictures are not about great cameras or how many pixels you can get. It all depends on the eye of the photographer. Great photographers take great pictures because they are able to see the potential of a situation to become a great picture.
  10. Take chances and shoot as many pictures as possible.
  11. Disregard the above rules because rules are meant to be broken. Just be passionate and be obsessed. That’s all you need to drive you to take great pictures.

Had a fantastic night today. Just got back from the Matsushita Sports Centre in Shah Alam, Selangor where the Bon Odori 2006 was being held.

It was amazing! The atmosphere was really fantastic, it was electrifying – the crowd were enthusiastic participants, joining in the song and dance. It was just wonderfully fun. There were so many people, I think there had to be about 20,000 people who attended, people from all walks of life from different cultural backgrounds. It’s another great demonstration of the spirit of camaderie among us human beings, though we may look different from the outside, we’re all essentially the same on the inside. It was great fun to see a couple of Malay women dressed in kimono while wearing the tudung. It was certainly a unique fusion of two cultures!

Kudos must go to the organisers and all those who participated in the planning, organising and performance must be praised for this well-organised event.

What is Bon Odori, I hear you ask? It’s held during the Bon Festival which is actually a Japanese Buddhist festival similar to the Chinese’s Qing Ming festival – which is to honour the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. Like the Chinese counterparts, the Bon festival has also evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people from the big cities return to their home towns and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves.

The Bon Odori, however, is an event held during the Obon. It is essentially celebrated as a reminder of the gratefulness one should feel toward one’s ancestors. However, the traditional religious meaning of the festival has changed with the passage of time and in today’s modern times, Bon Odori is now a dance festival associated with the arrival of summer.

Tonight, the Japanese expatriates came in droves to celebrate this festival and the Malaysian public was welcome to join in and partcipate and celebrate together for wonderful time of song and dance. For many of us who has grown up exposed to Japanese culture and elements in the form of anime, manga and J-Pop & J-Rock, it was a chance of a lifetime to experience a Japanese festival right here in our own country. I was moved beyong words and I can guarantee that I will certainly be back next year!

Don’t get me wrong though, my Malaysian Chinese identity is firmly intact and I am not suffering from confusion of my cultural identity. I just love the Japanese way of life and their customs, language and culture. It’s really beautiful and very, very different from that of the Chinese. It’s also a way for me to show my respect for the Japanese people, to show that the past is effectively the past and that we should all move on with the times.

The Japanese people of today should not be put at fault for the atrocities of the past – which is why I think the Chinese and Korean governments are overreacting to the Japanese PM’s frequent visits to the Yasukini Shrine. What’s the big deal of paying respects to the dead, even if they’re the war criminals? No matter how bad people who has died are, they still deserve to be prayed for that their souls may be able to rest in peace despite everything.

But I disgress. I don’t want to be drawn into something which I am still learning to understand. The fact of the matter is this – we should not let our differences and past hurts get in our way of forging mutual and fruitful relationships with one another…which is why I am truly happy that we get to celebrate Bon Odori here in Malaysia as well. I wonder why I never knew about this until this year? Nevermind, now that i know, I will certainly make Bon Odori a fixture in the years to come!

Thanks aplenty to my imouto-chan, Naoko, for letting me know about this event and letting me tag along with her friends from the Comic Fiesta Forum. While I did stick out like a sore thumb and clueless about all the CF-talk, I did enjoy myself tonight with your merry bunch of otak tak centre friends! 😀

Below are a selection of photos which I had taken tonight at the Bon Odori Festival. Click on each of the thumbnails below to access the larger version of the photo which I had uploaded at Dropshots. Let me know what you think of my photography skills, ya! 😀 The best way to learn and improve for me is through the criticisms of others, so I’m not really averse to harsh criticisms – so long they aren’t personal attacks or unfair.

Alternatively, I have also made a slide show version of these photos over at my The Eternal Wanderer’s Cool Videos & Podcasts via Slide.com. For silly/funny/lame captions, go there! 😀 It’ll take a minute or two to load, so be warned if you’re on dial-up!

Hope you guys and gals had as much fun as I did at Bon Odori 2006! See you all again next year’s Bon Odori 2007!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I must confess… Continue Reading »

Heh, now most of my inner circle of friends would know my penchant for whipping up fine appetizers, desserts, juices and punches…but now, thanks to much persuasion and goading on my mom's part, I've finally moved into uncharted territory – actual cooking!!

And what's on the menu for today?

Homemade Curry Chicken…emmm…yeah! Smell that curry and spices, boys and girls!

Cleaning the chicken is a meesy part which my mother thankfully did while I went downstairs to the salon to get my hair cut. When my hair was done, by the time I went back upstairs, mom was getting the wok ready to cook the curry paste and curry leaves together. Even though I'm not exactly a curry-loving person, but the fragrant smell emanated from the curry spices the moment it hits the well-heated wok surface can only be described as heavenly beyond words!

After a couple of minutes stirring the curry paste, in goes the chicken, and this is where I step in…because you need plenty of strength to stir the chicken pieces and mix them well with the curry paste. Mom's arms have been hurting these past months and she can't do much heavy lifting and so, I took over. It's a great opportunity to learn from a master chef like my mom.

Great bonding time too, I'm proud to say my mom gave me a B for the overall result of the curry chicken. The jury's still out on the actual taste though as we haven't taste it yet – letting it simmer for now. Hopefully, it's nice as much as it smells good. =)

I bet some of you like to look at pics, right? And of course, being the self-obsessed photowhore that I am…may I present to you a couple of self-taken photos of me in the kitchen. The photos don't look very good, but I'd like to see you try taking great shots while holding a cam on one hand while trying to concentrate on stirring a wok-full of simmering hot curry chicken!

All in all, I had a great time cooking, maye I will try to spend a bit more time in the kitchen with my mom guiding me. After all, she's not getting any younger and it'll surely be a waste not to learn her culinary skills as she doesn't have anyone else to pass them to besides me who is always by her side. Plus, a man who can cook have a good standing among the social circles these days…especially with the rise of the all-new kind of male – the househusbands!!

Heh! Enjoy and to you guys out there….it's worth giving cooking a try! It's fun, though the cleaning up process afterwards is a little strenous, but overall, it's a good way to bond with your loved ones!

                                      

Note the sweat drops rolling down my face! Facing lots of pressure when you have mom watching your every move like a hawk and dictating every move to you!

Unfortunately, note the the tiny curry splatters on the wall…

Homemade Curry Chicken...the santan not yet mixed in.

Also unfortunately, mom realised that it's near impossible to close the wok with the curry chicken already filled to the brim, so she had me dig out a bigger wok from the cupboards, wash them, and transfer the curry chicken from the wok pictured above to the new, bigger wok. We both successfully performed a Curry Chicken transplant without any casualties! Hah!

Homemade Curry Chicken - Finished!

What the Homemade Curry Chicken is like after santan has been added and simmered for 15 minutes. Voila! Thick, delicious gravy and well-cooked chicken and potatoes. Yummy, don't you think? Mom gave the taste as an A+! I passed in my first cooking attempt…with 75% guidance from my mom! Love you mom, had lots of fun!

Ok… so most of the pictures are of food, but how can I resist taking a few practice shots of the food laid out before us? I wasn’t disappointed by the Japanese food at all in the Arena food court of Jusco 1 Utama (which was Japanese Soba). Pretty filling and the sushi selection wasn’t at all that bad too. I would rate what I had, which was the Chicken Katsu (RM8.90) and the Sushi selection (RM4.90), at B+ and B respectively. How would Naoko rate her Zaru Soba? I wouldn’t know but she did mentioned that it was a tad salty but was tasty to her. Anyways, here are the photos…

My Chicken Katsu (RM8.90) Looks good, doesn't it? ^_^

A closer look at the Chicken Katsu

Naoko-chan's Zaru Soba...

Captured by Naoko-chan, this is Jinja showing us photos of his work in Cambodia while we lunched..

The Sushi Selection!!! (RM4.90) The two brown ones on the left were delicious!

This is Naoko-chan acting silly with the scarf Jinja gave us as souvenir

And this is me... self-gratuitiously taken

Next, after 1 Utama, we adjourned to Vivo’s at The Curve, which was not more than 15 minutes drive away from 1 Utama. The thing is, as I told you in the last post, we were at The Curve for about 30 to 40 minutes, walking round and round before settling for Vivo’s. Here’s what Naoko-chan and I had…

I had the Baked Salmon Spaghetti with Creamy Sauce (not the exact name) and it tasted real fine. The salmon was well-cooked, soft...instantly melts in your mouth. The sauce wasn't that creamy, but it suited the salmon and spaghetti well. An A-!!

Naoko-chan had the Solo Pizza, basically 7inches cut into 4 slices. Looks good, not sure how it'll fare against my faves at Pizza Hut

Well, there you have it! Yesterday had to be the most fun I had in the last month or so. Kudos to Naoko-chan for inviting me and setting it up! ^_^