The Morning Show

“It’s time.”

I nodded and stood up from my chair. I looked one more time in the mirror and found my made up face with perfect hair looking back at me.

“It’s for the cameras,” the stylist had told me. “We don’t want you to have a shiny face on TV. There are going to be a lot of lights on you.”

My hair looked terrible. Maybe I just wasn’t used to how I looked. After all, I hardly did my hair when I went out. It was only for formal occasions. Other than that, I usually had it in place with a headband or under a beanie. Fortunately they didn’t change my clothes. I liked my worn out Thursday tee. I had to represent the bands I admired after all.

I picked up my guitar by its neck carefully, so I wouldn’t displace the wireless pickup they had installed for me. It was looking pretty shiny, they must have cleaned it up for me as well. I made a mental note that I should clean my guitar more frequently in the future. I put the guitar strap on my shoulder and followed one of the crew. I took a few deep breaths.

I had never performed in front of a camera before – at least not cameras in a studio. Besides random videos that people would record of me on their cellphones, and me playing for my webcam in my room, this would be the first time I performed in front of a professional setup. It was kinda exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time.

I had won the opportunity to perform a set of songs for a morning live broadcast. Never mind the fact that nobody was going to be up at this hour to watch me, TV exposure was better than no exposure. It was my shot at gaining publicity. Maybe some big-shot producer would tune in, and I’d be signed in no time!

I reached the waiting area. “You’ll be on in one minute,” the stage crew man told me.

I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. Fuck, I hope the pick won’t slip later. I looked around nervously. Besides the brightly lit stage where the announcer was talking, it was hard to see anything else. It wasn’t long until I heard him talk about me and call my name. I was nudged forward to take my position.

It was time.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: You get your fifteen minutes of fame.

Erase Me

Remember the days when internet marketing wasn’t so prevalent? Marketing campaigns made use of word of mouth or print and television to spread the word. I remember when The Sixth Sense was showing in the cinemas. Everywhere I saw advertisements for the movie with the message plastered “Don’t tell anybody the ending.” I thought that was a pretty cool way to market the movie. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t manage to catch it in the cinema. I only saw it many years later when it was showing on Astro. By then I had already known about the ending so it wasn’t impactful to me. However I appreciated what it did.

Other movies that received similar buzz with its marketing tactics were far and few in between. The most prominent ones I can remember – Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity. I never got sucked into the hype that these movies generated, but for the latter two, I enjoyed seeing how people reacted to all the marketing campaign activities thanks to the internet. It was a lot harder to keep track of those things pre-social media. These days, everything gets hyped up on social media, and it’s hard to tell whether something is worth your time or not *cough*Black Panther*cough*. Anyway, thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to spread the news to everybody you know.

Recently I noticed it being used in music (it might have been done a long time ago, but not for bands I cared about). Brand New did something crazy by just pushing their album out online, ahead of their release dates. Fans and critics lapped it up. They debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts. Today, I saw on Reddit, a thread where a Redditor received a mysterious CD in the mail. The CD contained a sample of a song and written on it was a URL for a website, where a countdown is going on right now. Based on the font on the website and the font on Underoath’s Twitter banner, people have come to the conclusion that it was a teaser for the band’s next record.

As of this time of writing, the countdown still has 1 day and 7 hours to go. It’s been a while since the last Underoath record, so I’d be stoked if they announced their next one. Here’s to hoping they pull off a Brand New and push it out on the same day instead of just announcing it. It’s been too long! Also, I guess this is me playing my part in putting the word out about a possible new Underoath record. Funny how nobody asked me to do it, yet here I am typing away. Woot.

Casual Racism

I’m not sure if it was ever implemented, but I remember reading about the ridiculous ban on foreigners as cooks in hawker stores in Penang a while ago. I mean, I am all for eating tasty food but I honestly think people are being racist if they think that foreigners can’t cook food as well as the locals. I mean, come fucking on – it’s just cooking. Your race doesn’t define your cooking skills. You know what does? Your patience and determination to learn. All the practice you’ve done in the past. Your experience working in the kitchen. Where you’re from has nothing to do with your cooking skills – or any other skills in life for that matter.

Sure, there are restaurants out there that have dropped in standards but it’s not because of foreign cooks. Correlation is not causation. It’s because the cooks who were trained to cook those meals weren’t sufficiently schooled to do so. Blame the restaurant owners who let the cooks prepare unsatisfactory meals.

Maybe being from Malaysia helps. If you know how dishes ought to taste, it’ll help you when it comes to tuning the flavors. That’s the only advantage I can think of but it’s also something that can be learned over time. If all you’re doing as a cook is following an established recipe down to the T – there’s no way you can fuck it up right? If you do, you’re a person who is bad at following instructions. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. There are people all over the world like that.

Just because you’re Malaysian, it doesn’t mean you can inherently cook good Malaysian food. I’ve tasted bad local food from local cooks too. On the other hand, I’ve had local dishes prepared by foreigners that I would recommend to people. What does that mean then? Absolutely nothing. In the former, it was a case of incompetent cooks and in the latter, competent cooks. It had nothing to do with where they were from.

I honestly believe that if nobody ever saw who the cooks were (i.e. they were all behind in kitchens), nobody would complain about foreigners cooking. Just because they see a foreigner behind the stove, they’ve got a scapegoat. Because local chefs obviously can’t do wrong. It’s always the fault of the foreigners.

Foreigners are people too. And there’s a reason that restaurants hire them. They’re willing to do the same jobs for lower pay. Most of them come to Malaysia in search of a better life. What’s wrong with that? Malaysians do the same thing overseas. Would you like it if you weren’t allowed to work just because people in other countries complained about you not being a local?

Anyway, all I’m trying to say is, judge places by the food served and its service. Not where the cook is from. A shitty cook is shitty no matter where they come from.

If you don’t like the food from a certain restaurant anymore, file a complaint, if they value your input, they’ll listen to you. Or you can go elsewhere. If enough people stop going to a restaurant, they’ll make the necessary adjustments to survive. If they don’t change and they still survive, they’re obviously doing something right. In the meantime, you can go elsewhere. There’s so many places to choose from.

Getting rid of foreigners isn’t going to solve the problem. Also, if the demand for food by locals was so high, wouldn’t we see a lot more of them cooking instead? Just be glad that there are people there who would gladly cook for you in the first place.

Empty Streets of Muddy Confluence

You know today, while singing along to Mayday Parade’s Jersey, I thought again of how poetic names of places can be in songs – when you’re not singing about Malaysia. All the names of our states here don’t really go well with English lyrics. I mean, sure I could put them in, but they would sound pretty forced. At least that’s what I think. Bangsar, Genting, Penang, Malacca – none of them have the same ring as Ocala, New York, Vegas or Austin. Why is that? I think it might be because they aren’t English words to begin with. Then again, those names aren’t really words either. Just names in English. Also, how can you write emo lyrics about a place called Happy Garden or muddy confluence? Maybe you could, I never really tried it. The closest I’ve come is using “long drives up state” in a song. I guess I just need to try harder to find a city/state that can work in a song.

It’s great being from KL during the long holidays. You can drive around like you own the streets because there are no other cars on the road. It feels good not being stuck in traffic jams. I wish regular days were like this. Then again, if they were always jam-free, I wouldn’t appreciate it as much. Just kidding. I dislike the fact that my favorite cafe is closed for the holiday though. Oh well, people need their rest too.

After gambling for about three hours last night, I walked away with RM4 profit. FeelsGoodMan. I’m not much of a gambler, but I do enjoy sitting around with people who rub their cards in hopes of changing their values. I guess it would be boring to gamble with a table of Georges. These guys add a lot of entertainment value to a regular session of Black Jack.

Waking up late really is a waste of your day. But so is sleeping early. Sleep feels so good. But you only have so many hours in a day and so many things to do. I remember when I was younger, I’d hate having to nap in the afternoon. I was even beaten as a kid if I didn’t want to go to sleep. These days, I’d gladly go to bed in the afternoon given the chance. I could also wake up within a second when my alarm clock rang. I guess I just grew lazier as I got older. These old bones aren’t as responsive as they used to be.

The other day my cousin complimented me on my watch. It’s nothing fancy. Some cheap Aldo watch I purchased from Zalora because I had some vouchers to use. Regardless, it felt kinda good. Like I did something right. People rarely compliment me on my fashion choices. Probably because I’m nowhere near fashionable. I just put on stuff that I think looks good on me, and most of the time it’s very plain. Nothing fancy. I guess I’m not a fan of loud clothing. Especially shoes. I don’t understand how people find neon colors on shoes attractive – they look so obnoxious. Different strokes for different folks. Then again, my favorite color is brown so who am I to judge?

Every time I listen to a nice song, I feel compelled to share it online. In hopes that someone would enjoy the song as much as me. It makes me happy whenever that happens. It’s like validation for my taste in music even though in the grand scheme of things, it makes no difference whatsoever to my life. Unless our future turns into the Black Mirror Nosedive episode. I wonder how popular I actually am on the internet. Googling my own name doesn’t tell me much. There are way more popular people with the same name on the internet.

Using the wayback machine to see some snapshots of how my blog used to look is pretty fun. But man, my writing was so cringeworthy back then. I don’t know what I was thinking, hitting publish after typing out so much crap. I can’t recall my original site URL back when geocities was organized into neighborhoods. Those should be a fun read. Haha.

Horror

I’m not a fan of horror movies or video games. I could never understand why people would willingly spend money to shit themselves indulging in such media. I don’t remember where the fear started from. But all I know is that every time, without fail, after watching a horror movie, I would have the most irrational fears using the bathroom at night. I would do my best not to close my eyes. Whenever I use the bathroom sink to wash my face, I’ll try to keep one eye open at a time, lest I blink and see another face in the mirror looking at me. Washing my hair at night also becomes a bitch.

The last horror movie I watched in the cinema was the remake of It. I jumped in my seat quite a number of times. Most of my friends said that it wasn’t scary at all. I don’t get it. The drain scene was the stuff of nightmares. And the part where the clown comes out of the wall projection. Who thinks of such things?

I remember there was a time when I could watch horror movies without any consequence. I think I probably scarred myself for life when I watched the original Ju On home alone in the evening. By the time the movie was done, the sky outside was dark and I hadn’t switched any of the lights on. I was pretty creeped out.

I’m just as scared watching movies on a small screen. I remember I had to watch the last few scenes of Dead Silence in a resized window on my PC desktop because I couldn’t handle it full-screen. I even turned the volume down.

I tried playing F.E.A.R. to overcome my fear (heh) of scary video games. I only managed to play it for an hour before I gave up. I’m not a fan of jump scares. The game was full of it. It was even worse because I controlled the character and had to walk into my own jump scares.

I can handle horror that builds up into a climax. I don’t mind gruesome or gory. I don’t mind psychological horror. I’m mostly scared by scary looking ghosts and old ladies. Watching the first Insidious movie was enough for me. I don’t intend on watching any of the other films in the franchise.

You know what I like? Comedy. I’ll willingly pay money to have a good laugh. So much more worth it than scaring myself.

I already have some irrational fears – like walking next to power boxes (for some reason I’m always afraid that they’ll blow up for no reason and kill me) and power line poles in Thailand (why don’t they fix that shit? isn’t anybody else scared by the constant buzzing sounds you hear walking next to them?). I’m also terribly afraid of cockroaches. I don’t need to introduce more things in my life to scare myself.

I used to swim in the evening after work. Sometimes late at night, even though the pool lights were already turned off. Until one day I started imagining ghost ladies appearing and holding my head underwater to drown me. Now I don’t swim in the dark anymore.

I’m glad Dota 2 isn’t scary at all. It’s a fun and great way to end the night. Despite losing more than winning, I still enjoy the game very much.