Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Culinary Cruelty.

Read with interest on Monday, an article about treatment of animals for culinary delights. Being a self confessed "meat" eater, I admit some of the stories being highlighted were kinda "disturbing".
a) Foie Gras i.e. goose liver. Or used to be goose liver until lately when it is now generally duck liver instead. Considered French gourmet food, it is made by "force-feeding corn-based meal to farmed ducks and geese over a few months so that their livers swell with fat." I tasted foie gras only once, being so expensive but more importantly, I hated the taste...
b) Shark Fin. OK, this one I know. Sharks are "harvested" for their fins, for Chinese culinary delight, shark fin soup, while still alive and then dumped back to the sea to die. I still eats shark fin soup...the fin its self is tasteless, like I mentioned before, like a card board. Maybe one day they would be able to forgo the fin and replace it with something else instead.
c) Frog Legs. New knowledge. It stated, "Sometimes the frog is skinned before its legs are chopped off. Witnesses say that they can actually hear the frogs shrieking as they are butchered, and many of the amphibians are still alive long after their legs have been removed." Might be true, as with the practise of cooking a fish, the dishes are usually still "alive" before putting into the frying pan in order to preserve "freshness". What really turns me off are not these, but from what an uncle shared with me when he happened to be at his friends frog farm where he witnessed these frogs are actually mired in their own mucks and whats not, in order to breed the maggots which they feeds on....This is one of my favourite dishes, particularly when stir fry over ginger or as porridge.
d) Wagyu Beef. New knowledge. It says, Australian cattle rancher David Blackmore, one of the few Westerners to have visited Japanese farms several times, told Gourmet magazine in a 2007 article: “They (the cattle) get bored and go off their feed. Their gut stops working. The best way to start their gut working again is to give them a bottle of beer. “The steers have been lying in their own manure. ... Wagyu can also get a lot of joint swelling. I can imagine that the farmers would be massaging joints so they could get the animals off to market.” Oh darn, I love wagyu beef steaks...
e) Large Eggs. The article said, "Even choosing large eggs is considered cruel. The British Free Range Producers Association told the British press early this year that it was painful for hens to lay larger eggs. The association recommended that consumers buy medium eggs instead, adding that they also taste better and are less “watery” than larger ones. Speaking of eggs, spare a thought for the egg-laying chicken in intensive farming. It spends its whole adult life with four other hens in a battery cage whose floor is the size of this open newspaper." Ok, sticking to ayam kampung eggs...if they were more easily available.
f) Eating babies. It states, "Both veal and suckling pig are meats from baby animals. In battery farming, the calves are confined to crates, usually measuring 60cm wide, in which they cannot turn around, stretch their limbs or even lie down comfortably. They are fed with watery powdered milk to deliberately induce borderline anaemia and thus, tender white meat." And I just had a nice, sucking pig for dinner during Dad's birthday...
Nice to have such article highlighted. Now I can make informed choice when it comes to food...but sometimes, temptation, especially of culinary nature, is abit hard to resist.

The Darkness.

In a town in the east
The parishioners were visited upon
By a curious beast
And his eyes numbered but one and shone like the sun
And a glance beckoned the immediate loss
Of a cherished one
It was the coming of the
(Black Shuck) Black Shuck
(Black Shuck) Black Shuck
(Black Shuck)
That dog don't give a f#%k
~ Black Shuck.

Octoped, you've got six hands too many
And you can't keep them to yourself
You're too fat and too old to marry
So they left you on the shelf
I've got no right to lay claim to her frame
But you soiled my obsession
You c#$t.
Get your hands off my woman motherf^&ker
~ Get Your Hands Off My Woman.

I'm being punished for all my offences
I wanna touch you but I'm afraid of the consequences
I wanna banish you from which you came
But you're part of me now
And I've only got myself to blame
~ Growing On Me.

Can't explain all the feelings that you're making me feel
My heart's in overdrive and you're behind the steering wheel
I wanna kiss you every minute, every hour, every day
You got me in a spin but everythin' is A.OK!
~ I Believe In A Thing Called Love.
The first flush of youth was upon you when our eyes first met
And I knew that to you and into your life I had to get
I felt light-headed at the touch of this stranger's hand
An assault my defences systematically failed to withstand
~ Love Is Only A Feeling.

Hey you!
Do you remember me
I used to sit next to you at school
We indulged in all the extra-curricular activites
We weren't particularly cool
Monday, Tuesday
Wednesday, Thursday
Dancing on a Friday night
Let the music smother me
Whole weekend recovery
Dancing on a Friday night
See the lady I adore
Dancing on the dancing floor
Dancing on a Friday night
God, the way she moves me
To write bad poetry
Dancing on a Friday night
With you.
~ Dancing On A Friday Night.

For a band which lasted only two albums, their hard rock and glam infused seminal debut, Permission To Land (2003), works like a rhythmic masterpiece from the 70s and 80s. Acknowledging hard rock era from the days of "big hairdo" bands like AC/DC, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, G n R as well as glam rockers like Queen, cat suited lead singer Justin Hawkins sang every notes of each song with such falsetto gutso that it was such fun to listen to. Then there was his brother Dan Hawkins, who crunched out such devastating solos from his guitar, supported by bassist Frank Poulain and drummer Ed Graham. Their hilariously camp-ish music videos for their singles were entertaining and definitely harked back to the late 70s and early 80s. Pity they could only carry it all in their debut and by the time their sophomore album came out, it had all fizzled out and they eventually disbanded due to internal strife. Well, like someone said, a candle that burned twice as bright, burns out twice as fast.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Brought the kids to Isetan for some shopping last Saturday. Needless to say, both precious were handful! Handling both of them is a personal full time cardio workout. With reps after a resting period of 5 minutes.

Pizza By Esther.

"It's nice Mom. Really..." ~ Chloe.
Esther attempted some home made pizzas for us last weekend. Not bad, except for the bacon slices which I thought sort of "alter" the taste abit.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Yasmin Ahmad : July 1, 1958 - July 25, 2009.

Yasmin Ahmad, multi awards winning film director, script writer and one of the few local individuals with huge talents for highly creative advertisements (as creative director of Leo Burnett and previously, Ogilvy & Mather) and later, films, has passed away at 11.25pm on Saturday. Her works, particularly her movies, were possibly as important as the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee's works which transcended race and culture in local context. Yasmin was practically an instituition by her works alone. If my memory serves me well, she used to "moonlight" as a pianist at one of the piano bars in the city and even offered to create an ad for free of charge during early days. I read about her several times before she became prolific, in some adverts industry trade publications (this was during the years when I was still day dreaming about becoming an art/creative/ad man back then, and Yasmin was and still is considered one of my "icons" from those days). Ever since her Petronas series of advertisements went on air couple of years ago, I have been looking forward future works from her. Amongst those which I could still recalled include "Gombak Shoes" (which introduced me to Primal Scream's Trainspotting and about local made products), "Merdeka" (about the spirit of Merdeka told in flashback by a son), an LRT advert (about a selfish man who refuses to give up his seat), and of course "Tan Hong Ming" (about a school boy who confesses innocent love for another girl). These were always shown during major festive seasons and Merdeka Day as well as some commercial ads for corporations, which carried her trademark theme of sentimentality. Her ads were refreshing and more importantly, extended beyond the cultural, racial and language barriers, which of late, has unfortunately been mired in an increasingly precarious position which from my personal observation, was perhaps "flamed" by over enthusiastic language extremists and some socio political commentators with right wing/partisan view. Her ads and film works (Sepet, Gubra, Talentime) reminds me that as an individual of a multi-cultural nation, racial acceptance and cultural understandings are important to prevent any undermining of the cohesiveness of this society, something which I cherish. Children were often the subject of her ads and movies and I guess Yasmin understood the importance of the new generation (apart from the playful innocence they still have) to be instilled with the spirit of muhibbah. Her movies, which like her ads, were not strictly limited to only singular language, culture nor stereotypical roles one usually come across in (previous) locally made films. And to see that she made it with such ease and blend in seamlessly together. She had also courted controversies throughout the years (there has also been vicious rumours by her detractors saying that she was a man! Who cares?). It has not been an easy, past couple of months. First MJ, now Yasmin...sigh. For more of Yasmin and her thoughts, views, she has two blogs, one at and

Saturday, 25 July 2009

From The Dark Knight To Kingdom Come.

For an old generation of comic books fan like me, I couldn't remember precisely when but beginning with The Dark Knight Returns (DC) by Frank Miller in 1986 and Watchmen (DC) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in 1987, mainstream comics lost its "innocence" and aren't exclusive to kids anymore. Stories became more hard hitting, edgy and grim. Reality kicks in. Superheroes are "deconstructed" and become flawed individuals. Most aren't pure moral guardians anymore. Instead, they are mired with personal problems and issues, some even tethering on the edge of insanity. They gets old and fat. The villainy they faced are not just individuals, but also the ever changing public opinions and the battles often took place on a more macro level as well as getting increasingly intangible. Some becomes totally irrelevant in times of change. Some gets killed. Comic books began to cross the line over to being considered as "serious" literature. One famous event I first encountered was when DC decided to allow the fans to vote whether Jason Todd, the third Robin would survive in Batman : A Death In The Family (DC-1989). He didn't (he was deemed not popular) which I think gutted DC quite abit during that time. Other titles include Batman : Year One (DC -1987) also by Frank Miller and beautifully illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, The Sandman (Vertigo - 1989) by Neil Gaiman, a storyline of epic proportion which centered around Dream, a The Cure's Robert Smith lookalike entity, The Swamp Thing story arc by Alan Moore and The Killing Joke (DC - 1987), also by Alan Moore. The success of the such "serious" themed storyline launched countless other titles and influenced other publishers to make over their existing superheroes' origin. Superman (who grew an irritating looking pony tail, of all things) and his origin got re-vamped (first of many to come I suppose) by John Byrne in the seminal Man Of Steel (DC - 1986) mini series, Spider Man (arguably amongst the first to adopt serious personal issues and best during when Todd McFarlane was pencilling the series), Hulk (child abuse, psychological issues), X-Men (dysfunctional, superheroes version of a family drama), Daredevil etc.
By the 90s, it gotten too much. Story with realistic theme is nice but where are all the fun and entertainment? Some were written just for the sake of being grim and gritty. One of the personal favourite "not so serious" comics which I like from around this period is World's Finest (DC- 1990) by Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude. The three "prestige" format books miniseries features Superman and Batman against Lex Luthor and Joker as well as supporting characters from both superheroes background (except Robin who remained RIP). A balance is required sometimes. Looking back, most serious stories are written by Alan Moore, the manic looking English man, story writer extraordinaire (who went on overdrive in From Hell (with Eddie Campbell, Top Shelf - 1991 to 1996), another epic storytelling of Jack The Ripper and League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, amongst others) I stopped following some comic titles altogether by early 90s (too many story arcs, superheroes origin gets redone, gets killed and brought back over and over again. Worse are new titles being launched and only to gets axed after a short period. Then there are problems of coherent continuity i.e. writers got change, plots got change). And looking back at Watchmen, I finds it too nihilistic and disturbing. And there is no one single character whom I can root for. The Comedian is cruel and vicious, Dr. Manhattan is too far removed from humanity even though he is "omnipotent", Rorschach is a morally absolute sociopath, Ozymandiaz is suffering from visions of grandeur and looks at the rest of the humanity as inferior, The Nite Owl is an average suburbia lonely man, The Spectre is manipulative and complains too much. And the ambiguous, open ended conclusion! Will Ozymandiaz gets what he deserves for planning the genocide with the man made squid? I guessed Moore did get his story across to me. And I guessed that's why Watchmen remains an important masterpiece of story telling to me personally. It totally dismantled the superheroes "invincibility".
Currently, I concentrate only on selective mini-series which have a beginning and ending story arcs. Thus can spare me from "chasing" the stories indefinitely. If it were beautifully drawn and colored, then that would be bonus to me. Two titles which caught my eyes back then were Marvels (Marvel Comics - 1994) and Kingdom Come (DC - 1996), nicely written by Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid respectively, both beautifully illustrated by Alex Ross, who applied the fantastic looking gouache technique, a watercolor like rendering for all its contents. And Superman. Darn, Ross surely captured all the majesty for the Man Of Steel. His rendition captures what I think the Son Of Krypton should look like. It's like the vintage version (just like Steve Rude's version in World's Finest), a squared jaw Superman, with a commanding patriarch like authority. I never see Supes as a young man, even though he might age slowly (he's an alien after all). In Marvels, the story is told from the eyes of a photographer, an average man. We gets to see the supers doing all sort of stunts from the perspective of a human. Which is refreshing. In Kingdom Come, ex-Justice League members get to face off with the new batch/ new generation of amoral supers (which I felt like a veiled commentary on the current "serious" superheroes) who have killed off all villains and are now battling themselves for lack of enemies. What is great is that the JLA are portrayed still sticking to their old principles and values. And of course, if opportunity arises, I will continue to read and collect comic books, just the ones that has a stand alone story or miniseries, with a balance theme of realism and fantasy. Now, where can I get a copy of the Absolute Justice by Alex Ross?

Monkey Cups ~ Pitchers.

I wanna capture the pics of the pitchers before they um..."alter" their appearances. Kinda for record purpose. Not captured are N. Rajah, which is still in the process of "retardation", and Light Red Peristome, which pitchers are comparatively smaller yet growing with such rigor and produces big leaves.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Tiny Cookies.

The proxy gave me a surprise by including a pack of small cookies in the package. Chloe readily consumed the almond cookies this evening.

Samurai Jeans S310XX - 19oz.

This model, in its 15oz incarnation, I think I mentioned before, was within my radar throughout 07 and 08 but sold out everywhere. Thus, surprisingly, whilst browsing through their newly opened online store, this model was announced and yet not seen on other Rakuten online shops. The helpful proxy informed me (at that time) it was not produced yet and Samurai was then taking pre-orders. I am not entirely sure whether this model, S310XX, is a repro. It certainly has a vintage cut, meaning loose and baggy but I am not sure which model it is based on as template. The off center back belt loop sort of paid homage to the mid 50s type and the arcuates are intertwined using two colors of stitching, brown and yellow. The Samurai "fonts" on the red tag are now in shiny silver instead of usual white (rare types include non-reverse "A" alphabet and a red font on white tag, which l think I saw on a collaboration between HK Take 5 x Samurai Jeans). The selvedge is silver, as with all Lot 12 (2009) models I suppose. There are the standard Sunrise buttons as in their Samurai series with a crotch rivet. The patch is in standard leather with "012" lot number stamped in three numerical instead of two, a rather fatter, more "muscular" Musashi and Kojiro as well as the Mount Fuji curiously looking much more higher. The denim is 19oz, might be Texas cotton. And incredibly slubby and coarse. I pray my skinny legs would be able to take the punishment.

Samurai Jeans x Izumi SMS II.

Never been into collaborative products between brands. It's too saturated and takes the "meaning" out of the entire context. Like sneakers/trainers market. There are hundreds of collaborative products right now. An exception would be if it captures what I am looking for, and in particular from brands which I have been a fan, then I would have a thinker about it. Samurai Jeans is famous for its collaboration with many Rakuten stores, either in the form of an anniversary or special occasion. Samurai Jeans recently collaborated with Izumi Jeans Shop for the second time. Previously, they had collaborated for Izumi's 35th Anniversary. I bought this pair because of certain details. The patch is made of cloth, stamped with "No. 2" to denotes their second collaboration. This reminds me of LVC Lot 201 jean, which has similar appearance. Incidentally, LVC Japan has recently released repro of Lot 201 and Lot 333 (with "No. 3" non-selvedge denim). The patch depicts Musashi and Kojiro in duel as usual, with background depicting two "Moai" monolithic statues located in Miyazaki Prefecture as well as the Kyushu mountain range (which is part of the Kirishima volcanic zone). The sea and coconut trees representing the coastline of the Pacific Ocean at the eastern border. There is also a bird like chicken flying pass by. The cloth patch is also the first for Samurai I believe. The arcuate and red tag are pretty much standard. My favourite pine buttons from the zero series are applied, in black powdered version (like S3000BK?) and with a crotch rivet. It has a cinch back buckle but sits lower than standard position, possibly allowing a belt to be used as well if "cinching" is uncomfortable. The two front, herringbone pocket bags are red in color, just like the S3000VX WWII model, which I really like. There is only one single back pocket with exposed rivets, like the S7000VX. The selvedge is silver this time around, instead of the usual red, and as per Samurai's standard, is "sprinkled" with silver lame, denoting the "sword's edge" with chain stitching. The denim itself is 15 oz, right twill. The cut is basically loose and baggy, much like S634XX. One thing which is weird is the "smell" of this jean. Usually a pair of raw jean smells kinda awful with slight tinge of ammonia/chemical. But this pair, it smells different, flowery fragrant or something like that. Domestic release only, limited to 100 pairs.

Dylan - New Haircut.

"Grr! Don't mess around with me!" Dylan got a new hair cut from a barber in Malacca when we went back last weekend. Nice slope!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Chloe - Spider Girl.

"Look Papa. I am on top of the world!" Chloe worries me by climbing the door grill occasionally...but then again, I used to climb it too when I was young. "Now, get down from there Chloe!"

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Man On The Moon : 40 Years.

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
~ Neil Armstrong, 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969.

If you believed
they put a man on the moon,
man on the moon.
If you believe
there's nothing up my sleeve,
then nothing is cool.
~ R.E.M. "Man On The Moon"

From Wiki,
"The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. It was the fifth human spaceflight of Project Apollo and the third human voyage to the Moon. Launched on July 16, 1969, it carried Mission Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michae Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon, while Collins orbited above."

Monday, 20 July 2009

Dinah Washington.

What a diff'rence a day made
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain
My yesterday was blue, dear
Today I'm part of you, dear
My lonely nights are through, dear
(Since you said you were mine)
What a diff'rence a day makes
There's a rainbow before me
Skies above can't be stormy
Since that moment of bliss, that thrilling kiss
(It's heaven when you find romance on your menu)
What a diff'rence a day made
And the difference is you
~ What A Diff'rence A Day Make.
WKW's Chungking Express (重慶森林-1994) introduced me to the late Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963). Also known as the "Queen of the Blues", Washington was famous for her rendition of "torch songs", i.e. songs about unrequited love. She died young at the age of 39, although by around that time, she had become one of the most influential singers of that period, and was credited to be one of the major influence on another queen, Aretha Franklin. "What a Difference a Day Made" was originally written in Spanish by Mexican composer María Méndez Grever in 1934, and originally known as Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado. Stanley Adams wrote the English version and was made famous by Harry Roy & his Orchestra, in Bolero style. However, it was Washington's version which is the signature version and won her a Grammy in 1959 for Best R&B Performance, as well as her first Top Ten hit.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Fleetwood Mac.

I would have never imagined that I would fall in love with songs by the British American band, Fleetwood Mac. I remembered that I used to derisively said that these were songs meant for mid-age people suffering from mid-life crisis ala Adult Contemporary category. Until I bought their 1988 greatest hits collection back in mid 90s as well as watching their reunion concert called The Dance, that is. Maybe because I am getting old, and being old means mellower. So that beautiful, ethereal looking and perpetually clad in curtain like layers of dress, often in all black or sometimes in white is Stevie Nicks, I said to myself. What a distinctive contralto voice she's got. And that manic looking drummer is Mick Fleetwood, one of the original founding member. Rounding up the bands are Lindsay McVie (bassist), Christine McVie (vocals, keyboards) and finger plucking guitarist, vocalist Lindsey Buckingham. Nicks, Buckingham contributed majority of this period songwriting. Christine McVie also gave contribution and one of the highlights included "Little Lies", penned and sung by her. A little retrospective checking revealed the rich and often fascinating history of this band, which often enjoyed a variable degrees of success as well high turnover, personally turbulent lives of its band members. The band itself was founded in 1967. Fleetwood is the only constant member from the founding period. An interesting fact is "Black Magic Woman", the Santana hit, is originally by Fleetwood Mac from this period, as well as "Albatross". It was between 1975 to 1987 which Fleetwood Mac would gained mainstream success, and generated singles which were collected in the 1988 compilation. And it was also from this period that most of their songs were often overheard over some radios or occasional music videos. Some of their songs were covered by bands like The Corrs (Dreams) as well as a personal favourite of mine, "Edge Of Seventeen", a single by Stevie Nicks from her hit debut album, Bella Donna, which was heard playing in a scene from School Of Rocks as well as the distinctive guitar riff used as a sample in Bootylicious by Destiny's Child.