Monday, March 16, 2009

Andrew Martin 1975 - 2009

I click on Lance Storm's website, wondering if he had updated his site with any opinions about wrestling. I go there often, for his opinions tend to be strong but informed. I noticed that his latest commentary had the name of Andrew "Test" Martin, who was on something of a role when I started watching wrestling. Imagine to my shock, then, when I read of his death last Friday at the age of 33.

He wasn't a top echelon performer when I was watching it, though that can be down more to politics than anything else. He was physically imposing, and impressive enough that I thought he could go on to get more than just a couple of Intercontinental and European titles in his career. When he was pushed as Stephanie's fiancee in the storylines, I thought that this might be the start to bigger and better things.

Alas, it wasn't to be. Apart from an impressive reign as the European champion after coming back from a long injury layoff (he was particularly vicious in that match), and being a part of the Un-Americans, his career kind of petered out for me in the end. Nevertheless, I still looked forward to his matches, especially after having read Mick Foley's biographies, in which he was written about a lot in a very funny way. How I laughed and laughed at the stories time and again, and this one, written by Lance Storm on his site, is likely to be one of the best:

"Another fond Test memory I have is the night the UnAmerican gimmick likely died. You’ve all heard the rumors about how there was heat on Test and Christian for not wanting to cut their hair for the gimmick, which ultimately lead to the breaking up of the group. I’m not sure if the hair cut issue was actually a factor but I laugh every time I think of the meeting we had with Vince when the topic came up.

Vince and Johnny called us all into a room to discuss our group. I’m not sure if William Regal was part of the group then or not but Test is the important part of the story anyway. We get called into the meeting and Vince tells us all he wants us to have shorter more military style haircuts. Now remember Christian and Test at this time had the really long hair. To illustrate his point Vince uses me as the example of what he means by military style haircut. I think Christian was willing to get a hair cut, just not thrilled with being told exactly what kind of hair cut. In either event Christian voiced a fairly politically correct protest, while Test spoke out a lot more openly.

This may be my favourite Test memory because it was just so Andrew. (These aren’t the exact words but it’s close) Test looked Vince right in the face and said he had a life outside of wrestling and his appearance is very important to him so there was no way he was going to get a hair cut that would make him look like a F—king idiot. He then paused looked at me and added, “No Offense, Lance” It was awesome! He restated his case several times and every time he mentioned how horrible that look would be he would add, “No Offense Lance”. What made that line so great was that he legitimately meant no offense by it, yet it was a line that could not be taken any way but offensively. Andrew always said what he felt and he felt very strongly about this and wasn’t going to politically correct Vince or me. It was such a fantastic moment. I laughed when he said it, took no offense from it and thought it was the greatest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.

The real comedy that came out of that meeting was that we were disbanded (maybe over the haircuts maybe not) and both Test and Christian ended up getting their hair cut and they both looked way better after the fact."

I don't know him personally, obviously. But he was a big part of something that was a big part of my life at the time (and still is). As Lance himself said, "
Someone 6 years younger than me isn’t supposed to die. He’s supposed to be around so we can make fun of his over bite, and he can make his witty comeback by calling us all JOBBERS. He’s supposed to be around to continually humble Val and point out that he is a Nerd in a Jocks body. He’s supposed to be around to point out that I look like a F—king idiot…No Offense.

"Damn it…he’s just supposed to still be around."

*You can read the whole of Lance's commentary here.

No, Dr.

Dr Mahathir, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, can divide opinions a fair amount, depending on who you talk to. For the record, I respect Dr M for the positive things that he has brought to the country, and for the strong vision that he had (and still do) when it comes to all things Malaysia.

The same goes for the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English. Depending on who you talk to, it can either be a good or a bad thing. Dr. M, having started the programme, obviously believes in continuing it.

I will, however, have to strongly disagree with him on one, small, teeny, weeny little matter.

"English is the lingua franca, whether we like or not," he said, defending the policy once again. "If you meet a Korean, can you speak to that person in Malay?"

No, Dr M. You can't speak to the Korean in Malay.

But putting it lightly, most Koreans can't even speak basic English to save their lives.

And that's me being incredibly polite, believe you me.

Pick another race/nation, and try again.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Penelope



People have asked me what attracts me most to a woman. Could it be the smile, the physical beauty, the tendency to find my jokes funny? In short, it could very well be all of the above. And out of these, something more my come about.

But let me tell you a little secret. The answer lies in the eyes. I look for it in my actors, in everyday life, but sometimes I meet someone and am immediately attracted to them. It captures me, holds me, and doesn't let me go easily.

I am not entirely sure why, though the answer may well have something to do with the whole 'eyes the window to a person's soul' kind of thing.

Perhaps it is. But no matter.

Eva Green. Emily Deschanel. My ex-girlfriend. Penelope Cruz.

It's the eyes, I tell you.

And not because she says 'bideo'. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Galaxy: Homecoming

It was a place that he knew well.

Is? Was?

Airus pondered for a moment of the correct tense. After all, it wasn't as if the place no longer existed. The furnitures were no longer there...no, once again, that's not right. His furnitures were no longer there. They've been moved, by random movers, people he has never met and would never meet, strangers handling items worth more than their weight in gold.

But the place itself is still there. Its blue walls, strong and steady, would withstand a few comet storms just yet. The transparisteel, a form of protection against the vacuum of space, is still the same, give or take a few scratches here and there. These are the permanent visitors of time, of history, the visitors who had come in and taken residence in his home.

Home. The word echoed in Airus's head, the final syllable stretching back into time immemorial. Funny, how the concept works. He's been across the galaxy, from one place to another, living almost half his life in oxygen-conditioned pods. He probably has five units alone, right now, registered under his name. Some are admittedly investments, others practical safehouses.

And yet...

Yet, at times, he finds himself yearning for nothing more than to be here. He had been passing by on his craft. It was totally by chance, unplanned, but the wheels were nevertheless set in motion.

It was something his mother had said before. Once upon a chance, never let it go. He had smiled at the Yoda-like sentiments, thinking that his mother probably took a few shots too much for that day. Coming across this place again, he thought of it once again, and smiled once again.

Then suddenly, wrecked by intrigue and mystery, he made his way in. The owners, whoever they are, is renovating the place, and letting himself in wasn't the most difficult of tasks. He was curious as to what they've done to his home.

Home.

It echoed once more, as he inhaled the air deeply, taking in not just the dust, musk, and smell of the place, but also the 15 years of the happiest moments of his life. Of the phone calls that breaks his heart, of the sounds of the elderly screaming from the other side of the house for his presence at the dinner table, of the moments of solitude that had put him in fear, of his sister's laughter that permeated the atmosphere.

Of his life.

Then he exhaled.

This place was his home. It no longer is. Time to let other people build their memories.

To build their own home.

He turned, and left the room without looking back.

*Read Galaxy: Vs.
*Read Galaxy: The Journey.
*Read Galaxy: Tears of the Son.
*Read Galaxy: Across The Stars.
*Read Galaxy: The Prodigal's Return.

Fly To The Sky

I believe that the quality of one's education is the key factor in one's ability to reach for the sky. That seems obvious enough, once written down on paper. Of course, other factors come into play as well, but it is the quality of the schooling we receive that determines, to a large extent, the kind of opportunities we receive later in life. Thus, in writing this, I should make it clear that while I have done a fair amount of research on the subject of education in Malaysia (through my own personal initiatives and when I was working a Malaysian education magazine), my experience with the local schools system is limited. Somehow, I ended up doing things in a very roundabout way, and the ideas I will postulate here is largely based on that experience. It is by no means perfect, merely a very personal opinion aimed to spark something more, and to somehow improve upon a very public issue.

Generally speaking, there's plenty that can be improved within the Malaysian primary and secondary education system. Within a single sentence, its objective is to produce people who are capable, well-rounded, multi-cultural, confident, and able to make a significant difference in Malaysia (and beyond). Someone who is, first and foremost, a Malaysian, rather than a Malay, Chinese, Indian or Other. Of course, these are still vague notions, to be honest (How capable? And in what way?). It does, however, provide something to aim for in this particular post.

Let's go one step further than that, though. Let's imagine for the moment that I am the Education Minister of Malaysia, and have the power to set the tone for the schools in Malaysia. What would I do? I aim to change a couple of things, and make sure that there's a little bit more room for people to negotiate with. To that end, there are two main things I would do.

*An excerpt from an opinion piece I wrote for the Education in Malaysia blog. You can read the full post here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

:)

"Don't tell God you have a big problem. Tell your problem you have a big God."

Syahirah Jermadi, The Little One.


P.S. You awright, luv?

Chartered Standards

"It surprised me, somehow," I mentioned to my friend.

"What did?" she asked.

"That somehow, one moment of weakness and humanity could undo years and years of hard work and achievement," I replied. Then I told her of one of my actors, who was, a long time ago, involved in a scandal of some sort, apparently. I never did know what he did; more to the point, however, I never really cared. The only thing I asked of him was to turn up on time, having read the script, and prepared appropriately for the scenes. He is quite good at this, mind you, and have, in the past, won awards for his ability. It really doesn't matter what he did outside of my set. I just don't care.

Public figure or otherwise, everyone's human, right?

"I mean, a person could be really good at what they do, and have a good reputation and all that, but somehow just one thing perceived as bad could overshadow all of that," I continued. "That one thing becomes the reference point instead."

Somehow, I feel that sometimes a lot of people I know fail to look at the bigger picture.

Why is that?

Is it that the moral standards of a public figure should be significantly higher, to the point that even a hint of negativity could bring a person down? Should a person not be judged by what he had done for the betterment of the public, rather than what they did in their own bedroom and the like? So long as it is legal, shouldn't a person, however public or private, be given the chance to be what it is that every single one of us is?

A human being?

I raise this point, in part because of the recent furore over the Elizabeth Wong issue, but also because of the reactions that has been provoked by other perceived scandals as well. I can't even use the word 'scandal' anymore; the key emphasis there is 'perceived'. Just a hint, a trace, a metronomic suggestion of immorality, could wipe out entire careers. I raise this point, because I feel that the bigger picture has been compromised. I raise this point because I believe that it is not right.

I raise this point, because I believe that when it comes to judging other people, public or personal figures, it is the bigger picture, rather than the more singular moments in time, that should be the reference point.

More to the point, I raise it because it is a world that I will enter when I come back to Malaysia. In case those visiting this blog do not know, I want to become a filmmaker, and to that end, have worked diligently over the past years to reach that goal. Should I be lucky enough to get there, what standards would be used to judge me?

Let's say, hypothetically, that I become very good what I want to do. Hypothetical, because 'good' is subjective, but also because the concept of a Malaysian filmmaker can also be quite fluid. Some people who have made only one short videos go around call themselves filmmakers; after having written and directed eight of my own short films, in addition to countless contributions to other people's works as in writing, editing, and producing roles, I still feel that I have a long way to go before I can comfortably call myself a filmmaker. But let's say that I become known for what I do.

Let's say that I got involved in a 'scandal'. Somehow. One way or another.

Will the general public be able to look at the bigger picture, at the whole of me and my achievements, and still think of me as the Oscar award winning, Cannes-conquering, industry-revolutionising 'scandal' director (I wish!)? Or will I only be known as the 'scandal' director?

Will my achievements be shrunk and tossed to the roadside as yesterday's news? Or will I become like my actor?

"What's his name?" she asked me.

I told her.

"Oh, isn't he the guy whose wife left him for another man...?"

Monday, March 02, 2009

Korea

One more year to go.

One more year before the end of this constant state of flux, the end of this stage of my life, the stage of experimentation, of learning under the tutelage of others, of being powerless, unable to influence the course of events, of obtaining the key to unlock the door to bigger and better things, before standing on my own two feet, outside of the shadows, claiming the center stage, and announcing to the whole world that my time is now.

My time is now, and I will not wait any longer.

One more year.

Let's get this bitch over and done with, shall we? :)