Monday, 27 November 2006

Back on the Mainland

Hey everyone! A brand new week and I'm back from my solo trip to Penang. Driving home last night was a bit of a bitch because it was storming - raining cats, dogs and hellhounds, so much so that traffic was basically at a standstill for most of the 347km journey. Ouchy ouchy. Didn't do much for my bad back, LOL! (No, I'm serious, I've just been to the doctor's to grab some painkillers and drowsy-making, high-inducing meds. Don't worry, doctor says it's nothing serious. Yay!)

Saturday was pretty fun... I met up (as belowmentioned) with my old friends Shaun and Sue, and we had a great time catching up and having lunch in one of the old coffeeshops my folks and I used to frequent back when I was, like, a little tyke. We walked in, and the first thing that caught my eye was the Fresh Home-Made Ice-Cream sign that hung on the wall, which has been there for about as long as I can remember - probably twenty years or more! Ah, the nostalgia. Anyway, we had a good lunch, then Sue (and their kid Daniel) and I had coffees and caught up further, and all in all it was a good afternoon.

Saturday night was even more interesting: I went for Heritage Heboh (that's a Malay word, meaning... 'ruckus', I suppose. Heh), an arts street festival that was held in one of (as suggested) Penang's 'heritage lanes'... i.e. a narrow street with old buildings and an even older history. There were 'shadow plays', staged shows and dance segments, mostly carried out by kids for the main purpose of teaching them (and the public, one presumes) the background of the locale. Not a terribly big crowd, but it was pretty cool regardless (actually, it was hot and humid, but you know what I mean).

At the end of the night, I went back to Kev's and Irinna's and spent some time with them; then on Sunday I hung out with my old mate Jason (yaay, heeey Jase! Check out his blog!) and had monster coffee, nachos and a huge steak before departing for the longwinded, way-too-tedious five-and-a-half-hour drive back to KL. Which isn't meant to put anybody off the notion of driving between the states: if you're a passenger going along the north-south highway for the first time, and if the weather's fine, it's quite an enthralling (to an extent) ride! (Hint hint hint to potential visitors!)

So that was my Penang trip - not terribly eventful, not boring either; a few eye-openers and many moments of eye-closing; and the best part had to be catching up with my old friends, many of whom I'd not seen in years. Strangely and stupidly, though I had my camera with me, I didn't take any snapshots of me and my mates. Even more strangely, I've got a shiteload of photos of the street fair, which I shall now proceed to share with all of you (do I hear rapturous applause?) hahahaha! Thus I shall end this post on my solo road trip with these few murky snapshots of the heritage arts fair on Armenian Lane, and all the colourful festivities that took place, and with a sense of satisfaction and eagerness for my next trip up to Penang. Until next time, byebye! ~N

Before the crowds
Kiddy craft table!
Flag
The crowds start to gather
Enthralled by the shadow play
Musicians in the stage show
Another stage show scene
Dancers in the night
Blurry dancers (I like this shot!)
More crowds!
Dancers rehearsing
Strange sign

Friday, 24 November 2006

Clearing Out The Clutter

Hey everyone! Am still in Penang, and am now doing some work at Starbucks, hahaha. What a terrific holiday this has been, huh?? Still, can't complain. There haven't been many people to catch up with, unfortunately, though I do have plans for lunch tomorrow with an old friend Shaun and his wife Sue (and their son!), and hopefully with another mate Jase on Sunday before I head back up to KL.

*thinks*

I've always said that after the four years of being away, I wanted to come home and have some stability. Six months down the track, I've got that, somewhat... but with a job that doesn't really have a strict timetable and that requires me to travel (oftentimes with little warning) or/and stay late nights in the office; with my keenness to live on my own rather than being at home; with theatre and music projects still being developed with no sure sign of production; with not-too-many friends and no prospects of any relationshippy developments on the horizon... I still feel like things aren't as stable as I'd have liked.

*thinks*

Yet -living with Kev and Irinna has sort of given me a bit of perspective. The two of them are so busy at work (they won't be home till 9ish tonite, hence why I'm alone at Starbucks) and raising their two adorable kids Dylan and Faustine, that to them life is a big routine of responsibility, where bedtime is 1030pm and meals consist of fast food as nobody has the time or energy to cook. In no way is this a criticism, of course - they're terrific friends and terrific parents, and I so admire them and the way they've grown up (I've known Kev for 19 years now), but now that I'm in the midst of their lives (so to speak), it makes me realise that maybe the slight unpredictability of my life is not a bad thing, either. And my work might make me tired and have too little time, but the unpredictability of that isn't something for me to disregard: I don't think I'm cut out for a 9 to 5 job, y'know? Going to bed by 11pm, waking up at 7am... it doesn't seem to gel with my personality and my lifestyle. And kids? Well, when one barely feels responsible enough for oneself, I think one shouldn't consider, at this time, being responsible for others. In that sense.

*thinks*

I don't know. Life seems to be rather complicated. But the question is: is life complicated, or am I making it complicated? Maybe a little bit of both. The point is... the more I plan, the more I try to achieve an equilibrium with my external world, the messier things seem to get. Coming to Penang on my spontaneous road trip was meant to make me feel more at peace, but I've only wound up contemplating more. Maybe the starting point towards lesser complication is trying to achieve an inner equilibirum, which, let's face it, I've yet to accomplish, before focusing on the outer. And if that starting point comes in trying to be happy with what I've got thus far and where I am at this point in my life, then que sera sera. Right?

*thinks*

Oh I've had enough of thinking. Time to stop these self-involved, faux-philosophical rants.

*thinks*

I said stop.

*thinks*

Stop, I said!

*thinks*

*thinks*

*thinks*

Oy.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Nicky Ran Awaa-aay!

Hey all. I'm in Penang at the moment, following the belowmentioned five-hour road trip, which really took me four hours because I didn't stop for toilet breaks, hahahaha! Anyway, am now in a Coffee Bean surfing the net and having a cuppa. So what's the difference between being here and being in KL, you ask? Nothing, really... apart from the fact that I'm not in KL! :P My friends Kevin and Irinna, who're putting me up (and putting up with me) are both at work till tonite, so I've got a spare key and basically am killing time and doing some writing. The bliss, of course, is knowing that I'm here on my own, with the car, and basically am free and responsible (once again) for looking after myself, yay. Oy, I think I really oughta reevaluate my life. (Don't worry, this constant whingeing about my home life will stop soon, I promise.) :) Anyway that's about it for now. Will update more as and when things develop. Byebye. ~N

365 Days Later...

On this day one year ago, we were going curtain up on a certain Christmassy musical.

Good times.

~N

PS For those who've got your speakers on, a sneak preview of my latest churchy song. Hope you like. Okay, it would be better with a main melody line... but why spoil it entirely? :)

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Zilch

Hey all. Whew. What a tedious week it's been... I've been doing absolutely nothing. HAHAHA. Yea, I've taken the whole week off, so coupled with the weekends it's nine days away from work altogether. And I must say that I think I needed this - just the chance to relax and unwind and do absolutely zilch and think absolutely zilch. Of course, I've yet to finish the scary stories for that book, and with a deadline in three weeks, I'm actually quite worried. But I think I shall leave those worries for another time.

The dogs are still around, both of them. Nope, following my near mental-emotional breakdown at the thought of giving 'em away, my folks thought, "Okay, let's switch tacks... let's just keep 'em separated instead." So now they're separated, and so far it's going pretty well, though it can get mildly inconvenient trying to get them to avoid running (and sinking fangs) into each other. But it's worth it to have 'em both here. Yay. Whew.

Tomorrow I'm going on an impromptu road trip by myself - a five hour drive up to Penang, hang out with some mates, do some ghostwriting (literally), relax and just take it easy, then have another five-hour drive back on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to this: just the chance to get away from home. I really do think I need to consider this moving out idea more seriously. It's getting terribly depressing... But more on this some other time. Right now I'm going to watch some downloaded TV shows, finish my cuppa coffee, pack my gear for the road trip, probably hit the gym for a little while, have a good dinner, and then go back to doing nothing until it's time to leave at 7am tomorrow morning. Yay! Good times! ~N

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Nick Contemplates The End

I think this is officially the end of me.

Today my folks say I'd better start thinking of which dog to give away.

How the fuck do you make a decision like that, when - as people who know me or who read my blog know - my dogs mean the world to me?

At the same time I understand the dilemma. They don't get along. Two agressively dominant personalities can't share the same space. (See my dad and me.)

Fuck.

I've been so depressed lately with all this shit that's been going on in my life, that I feel if this happens... I don't know what I'll do.

There's the option of muzzling or chaining 'em, but is that any fairer than giving one away?

I've thought of a third alternative. My folks own another house about 20 minutes away from here. I should move out, and bring one of the dogs with me. That way we save both dogs, I finally get my long-sought-after private space, and... I don't know.

The moment I suggested it, my parents flipped out in that fucking irritating way that they do. 'Fine! Just move out! Do whatever you want!' Bloody hell. Give me a break.

Let me just say something on this blog: they can keep their elder son tied to their apron strings for all they want, to the extent that he doesn't feel like he needs to grow up and get his own fucking life because everything he wants and everything he needs is provided for by Mummy and Daddy... but that won't be me. I won't be mothered and reduced to such a pathetic level. And if my folks had eyes that were more capable of seeing past their useless parental mypoic vision, then they'd see how damaging their ways are.

We once said we treat our pets like children.

When children fight, give one of them away. Go on.

Fuck.

It's so typical, isn't it? Solve the problem by letting one go. Yet when there are people who really should go, they hang on desperately, terrified of letting their kids be who they should have been years ago.

Okay, these are two separate issues, I realise. And they can't really be compared, I realise that too. And yes, there are worse things in life. And bloody hell yes, I'm being melodramatic - typical Nick. But I'm fucking angry right now, and fucking disappointed, and fucking upset, and fucking depressed. Just let me vent or go away.

Another Garfield Gem!

Classic!!

Click for bigger view

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Random Sitcom Quote #18

Randy: Have you ever said 'I love you' to your sister?
Darnell: Once, but that was only because I thought she was dead. Turned out she'd passed out from low blood sugar. But I'm glad I said it - God knows when I'll have another chance, now that she's on insulin.
- Made A Woman Think I Was God, My Name Is Earl, Season 2

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

That Possessive Ol' Primal Instinct

Y'know wot's odd? My doggies Jodie and Chloe have never truly liked each other since nearly two years ago when we brought Chloe back as a pup. Actually, that's not exactly true: Jodie has always been threatened by Chloe, so their doggy mateship has always been a little fragile and volatile. Case in point? This little tidbit of information last year. New case in point? Recent events of savagery between the two, usually sparked by posessiveness over food at dinnertime. Dogs, being dogs, tend to steal from the other if one of 'em has finished eating. Lately, their little food-pilfering sessions have exploded into full-on fights, complete with bared fangs and vicious bites, swiping claws and vicious growls: the two of them become this snarling, swirling ball of fur and rabidity that rolls mosterlike from the kitchen in the back of the house to the living room in the front.

Yesterday was the worst - I came home and Mum said they nearly killed each other (exaggeration? I dunno...) fighting, "so much so that one of them was yelping and screaming in pain," she said traumatically. True enough, Jodie had hard, bristled fur matted with dried blood from wounds in her neck, and Chloe had the same, except the wounds were from her ear, which apparently Jodie had grasped with her fangs with all her doggy might and tugged up and down and left and right, since she'd been unable to grab Chloe's neck due to an abundance of thick fur. Whatever the case, both dogs were incredibly subdued and miserable when I got home yesterday; Jodie was bleeding minutely onto her cardboard bed, and Chloe was flicking her head back and forth because of her injured ear which must've been causing her pain as it had a tiny little hole in it. Oy. We didn't have any antiseptic cream suitable for pets in the house yesterday, so first thing we did today was buy some.

The problem obviously stems from the fact that Chloe and Jodie are both, personalitywise, dominant dogs, both fighting their way to being alpha in the household. And Jodie probably deems herself at a disadvantage (sidebar: I do believe dogs are capable of deducing these things by themselves; they aren't stupid creatures!) because she sleeps outside while Chloe's an indoor dog - and Jodie was here first. So she's probably thinking that Chloe is (rising to be) top dog, and she's not happy. Hence the fights, especially if my mum were to feed Chloe first. Hence the growls and the ramming of Chloe aside when I stop to pet her (Chloe) - it's, like, Jodie growling, "Give me the attention, dammit!!" Hence Jodie's insistence that she stay indoors most of the time too, from being a totally outdoor dog before Chloe came along.

Don't get me wrong, though - for the most part, the two get along (probably in a state of self-suffering tolerance)... but now Mum and I are wondering how long this current truce is going to last, and what will set them off again. Oy. ~N

Monday, 13 November 2006

Venting

Arghle! Stress! Tomorrow's deadline day and we aren't ready! No! No! Noooo!!!

*end scene*
*nick bows*

Oy.

Sorry there's nothing substantial to say. Oh, I hurt my back and now it's throbbing like a bitch. How's that? Hahahaha!

Oh dear. See ya.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Doggy-Woggies!

Since I haven't posted many pics of them lately, here are photos of my doggies Jodie (brown) and Chloe (black) - plus a couple of them fighting over a towel, LOL!






Plus awwwww, remember when...?


Saturday, 11 November 2006

Nick-Knack #23: Subway

I was walking about Uptown,
when out of the corner of my eye
a neon glow caught my attention:
white, green and yellow:
familiar,
beckoning,
delightful --
Oh my God! A Subway outlet,
down the road from my house!
Oh, the happiness that filled my soul,
and the yumminess that filled my tummy!
Since that moment of rapture,
I've been brimming with joy
and with veggies and meat

between two slices of bread.

Friday, 10 November 2006

How I Feel Right Now...

Oy.

Meds, Overexertion, Pressure & More Anniversaries

Hey all. How's it been going? Me, I'm tired. Stressed. Burned out, to be honest. But I'm okay. We're working on our thicker-than-usual edition of Off the Edge because it's the Christmas / end-of-year special, so work's been a little bit more hectic than normal. And I'm a little bit sicky, have a cough and am coming down with fluey symptoms, oy! Not good. The doctor gave me this cough medicine the other day, a bunch of tablets, and he said, "These have side effects." "Oh?" I said. "Yes," he replied. "What are they?" I asked. "They'll give you heart palpitations and shaky hands," he said. "Oh," I replied. "You want them?" he asked. "Hell, yes," I said.

So here I am in the office with an accelerated heartrate and trembly hands, feeling a little bit groggy from too much pressure and too little sleep. It's a fantastic feeling, honestly, haha! Mmm. I've sort of realised I've gone in way too deep with the commitments at this time of year. Just to recap: there's work, and then there was music for this documentary, and then there was musical arrangements for this churchy musical, and then there's Get Spooked!. Add to that the (admittedly terrific) news that this producer dude from Perth wants to stage Follow the Light in December '07 and wants me to get kickstarted in the whole revamping-revising-promoting process, and we have the reason why Nick is sleep-deprived and flickering. (Flickering? Yes, flickering.)

Well, the other day the documentary people told me that they needed the music by middle of November (which is, like, next week), and I told them sorry, I couldn't do it. So that's off the menu. Then today I had to make the absolutely saddening decision to back out of the musical project - mainly because with work and my Get Spooked! commitments, I don't have the time to listen to other people's songs, learn them and play them by ear, think of how to restructure and edit them, think of new musical arrangements so that they don't all sound alike, think of how one song would flow into another with original backing music, programme everything into my keyboard, convert the files into midi format, and record demos. Ain't going to happen. Oy. The saddening part is having to let the lovely person-in-charge down, which I felt awful about. But what choice did I have? A: the time factor was a bit too constricting. And 2: I'm feeling increasingly lethargic, even after a good night's sleep, which I'm not getting.

I realised last night, as I was hitting my head against the wall (figuratively and literally), that I've not actually stopped and just done nothing for a long, long, long time. I can't even remember when it last was. Let's see: probably December 2004 (and even then, we had tsunamis to preoccupy us) - then it was uni, preparing FTL, working on Captain Quokka and assignments, finishing up the first semester with exams; next it was actually producing FTL, all the way to the year-end, performing it... and then I had a brief xmas break followed by assignments taking me up to February this year; afterwards I was running about like a headless chicken trying to sort out my visa stuff; then it was the whole let's-go-home decision: the packing up, the getting things sorted out, the moving out and moving away, the flying home, the starting-anew; and immediately after it was the job hunt; the job interviews; the job... Throw in book contract and musical commitments and you pretty much end up where I am today.

I think I've taken many steps forward, which is great, but now it's time to stand still for a little while, if not take one or two steps back and just let things flow at their own time. I've been trying really hard, too hard, to keep the creativity going, trying to prove that just because I'm home it doesn't mean I have to stop working on creative projects. But now I'm exhausted. Worn out. Fizzled. Pfftt. The end.

So what's next? I still have to fulfill Get Spooked!. If I really want FTL going in Perth, I oughta get started. But I think that'll be the extent of it for now. Next year, I'll take it a little bit more slowly. Work on FTL. Work on my suicide musical The Edge, but with no pressure to bring it to the stage anytime soon. Hopefully something will happen with my book Bench, completed in 2002 and not really touched since. But I think I'll avoid setting deadlines, putting too many goals into place, and killing myself when I don't reach them. It doesn't have to be this hard, does it?

No, it doesn't.

Incidentally, Nov 20 will mark six months back home. And Nov 23rd will be one year since we opened Follow the Light in Perth.

Happy anniversary to all of us. Here's to much, much more -- but with less, less pressure.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Japanese Cars (Two Different Topics)...

Yo, whassup?! Just some quick recaps... Friday night, Phaik Leng and I went to see the belowmentioned Japanese play with "English dialogue bubbles", Yaji and Kita. We surprisingly thought it was a very, very enjoyable and intriguing play, despite the fact that it was fully in Japanese, and that the dialogue bubbles were sporadic throughout the piece, not a word-for-word translation! But the actors, who had great chemistry and a tremendous amount of energy to be yakking at rapid pace throughout and were running about left right and centre, were fantastic; the show was (apparently) hilarious (based on the frequent uproarious laughter of the Japanese-understanding audience); and the sets, props and projected effects were just bloody good. Kudos!

On Saturday I actually had an interview with the director of Yaji and Kita, which was interesting in itself because he doesn't speak English, and so we had to go through an interpretor, who was really very good at her job. Afterwards I was meant to meet Phaik Leng to see a one-woman play, but she couldn't make it in the end, so I wound up going by myself and having a coffee on my lonesome thereafter, effectively putting a slight dampener on my weekend, being alone on a Saturday night. Oh well.

Anyway, tomorrow (well, today) is Monday and I'm taking a day away from the office in replacement for the work I had to do on Saturday, and I'll be focusing a little bit of my time at home on both work-related stuff as well as some of the music I have yet to do due to time constraints, and which was, in all honestly, meant to be complete by Tuesday. It so ain't going to happen... :) So I leave you now with more piccies of my new car... none of which are in daylight as I'd planned, but which hopefully gives those of you who aren't in Malaysia a clearer idea of the package. Until next time... cheerio for now. ~N

Back view!

The spacious interior, front.

Close-up of the dashboard and CD player.

Closer-up of the CD player and a/c controls...

The spacious interior, rear, with obligatory tissue box.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Nicky's Got Another New Toy!

GUESS WHAT, boys and girls?! I've got a new car!! WHOOHOO!!! Just got it yesterday (meaning Thursday, the day of the wine dinner... imagine, I had new wheels and I didn't even drive it due to the booze factor, LOL!) - and I've been waiting to grab a few snapshots of it before I happily shared the news, yaaaay!!!! It's an "Ozzie Orange" (really!!) Perodua MyVi, a Malaysian-made car that's really quite cool - comes with the expected works: central locking and alarm, power steering, a/c, CD player, cup holders (very, very important, those are!); and it's a manual transmission, which I prefer over autos. Oh, the joy of picking it up and then having my parents go crazy about whether I'm going to scratch it before it's even a day old! They've got weird rituals, my folks - they smashed a coconut in front of it (literally) because they believe it would help the registration number come out in the lottery. Um. Go figure. We are good God-trusting Catholics here. Oy.

Anyway, my MyVi's here, and I've been happily driving it about! For the most part it's a really smooth car, easy to manouevre and picks up speed really fast - the only thing is that I seem to be having a bit of a jolty transition from first gear into second (or any gear into second, for that matter). No big deal, and I'm thinking it's just a matter of getting used to the feel of it; but hopefully the slight jerk when it shifts into 2nd won't be a permanent 'defect'. Otherwise I'm absolutely thrilled! No more fights with mum and dad over car-sharing! Finally, I'm responsible for looking after (even though mum wanted to put protective car seats in already and even had a name for the vehicle, to which I promptly told her "Stopppitt!!!") and paying for my own car. That's RM500 a month from my pay for the next five years... but I'm not complaining!

I leave you with just a couple of pics of it -I'm waiting for tomorrow when I can finally take some shots of it in the daylight, but I think these should give you a rather good idea for now, hehee!! Enjoy! ~N


Friday, 3 November 2006

Proms, Wine, Trauma and Food

Whew! What a tiring week this has been. On Tuesday night, Phaik Leng and I went to the opening of the BBC Proms in Kuala Lumpur, prior to which I attend a press conference with the BBC Orchestra conductor and general manger. Was a pretty great nite with some fantastic classical music, including a thrilling, darkly cartoonish piece by Leos Janacek (1854-1928) called The Cunning Little Vixen - Suite, even though I was exhausted from too little sleep and a rather protracted seminar on business journalism that my company organised that morning. (Hopefully some of the information from that has stuck in my mind.) Anyway, I enjoyed myself.

Last night I went to a wine-tasting event and dinner, which was pretty cool... my first foray into "official" wine-tasting, i.e. actually analysing it instead of just gulping it down and getting pleasantly tipsy, LOL. There were - get this - eight different wine selections that we had to sip and sample and (the best part) just chuck back and swallow. A tad more nervous-making was the fact that my boss and editor accompanied me for the interview I had with the general manager of the wine producer d'Arenberg that was holding the event - eeek, performance anxiety, anybody? Haha! Nah, it was really rather cool, and a good learning experience. With booze to boot. How can you go wrong there?

Anyway, here are some photos of the rather delectable dinner that was served to accompany the wines. The beef, in particular, was delectable in its bizarreness -- beef cheek, so it looks like a chunk of steak but has the texture and chewability of jelly, an almost liquidlike quality that really made it the outstanding dish of the evening. Rumour has it, it costs a bomb, for just that small portion. Eeeek. Hope you enjoy the pics. Tonight Phaik Leng and I will be seeing a Japanese play "with English dialogue bubbles" (eh???), tomorrow I will be interviewing the director, and we'll be seeing another play in the nighttime. Whew! Sunday will be the only day of rest I've had this week, which is great as it allows me to work on some of the non-work music stuff I'm meant to have finished already. Egad! When it rains, it pours, cats and dogs!

Speaking of dogs, I was totally traumatised this afternoon when I saw a doggy body in the middle of the road, bloodied and run over -- and cars that were headed towards it didn't even bother attempting to avoid it! My God! It was, like, "Let's add insult to permanent lethal injury!" and run over the body over and over. I was screaming (mostly in my head), Swerve! SWERVE! Bastards! Poor thing. *Sigh*. Am in mourning now. Arghle. Hopefully a play with English dialogue bubbles will cheer me up. Nice topic to mention right before all these pictures of food, right? Yea. Heheh. Oy. Bye for now, more updates shortly!!! ~N

Prawns, fennel puree & chervil vinaigrette

Orrechiette pasta tossed with meat sauce

Roasted duck, mushrooms & parsley coulis

Lamb estouffade

Beef cheek, celeriac mash and red wine sauce,
with all the wines

Spiced poached pear with licorice and chocolate ice cream