Monthly Archives: May 2008

Musophobia anyone????????

 IS HE CUTE???????

It was close to midnight…. I was alone as Fat Dragon was out entertaning. I was happily watching a delayed telecast of the results show for American Idol last Friday …anxiously awaiting the announcement of the results…. deep in concentration as I rooted for David Cook to win…. 

All of a sudden, there was a huge ruckus in the kitchen. As our house in Mentakab had an open concept between the living room, dining & kitchen, it just took a turn of my head for me to witness a dark furry speedy little figure jumping  through the kitchen window from the outside, onto the sink (PLONK PLONK) & dashing madly towards a trolley full of utensils (CLING CLANGING away) & …………………….. What on earth?????? YIKES SHRIEK

……There would be another speedy figure in the house,  dashing in the opposite direction, that night…. i.e. ME!    Up the stairs I ran,  to deposit myself into the bedroom, away from the frontlines of mousy danger.  Despite my shivering constitution, I quickly grabbed whatever newspapers I could find in the room to stuff into the crack underneath the door, just in case. 

My next course of action – Send out SOS MESSAGEs to Fat Dragon! The messages are as follows:

SMS1 : Dar, a RAT just jumped into the kitchen

SMS2 : OMG what shall I do! All the food there, doors r closed. How’s it gonna get out? The fruits OMG OMG

SMS3 : RAT IN THE HOUSE – HELP!

Thank goodness the SOS messages were effective. Fat Dragon came back shortly to launch a noisy midnight search for the mousy intruder.  Broom sticks were hitting the fridge, the kitchen cupboards, the rubbish bins, the trolley, the stove cupboard. Hmmm… He must be gone. After all, no four legged friend of ours could survive such a noisy ‘hunt’ without getting freaked, right? He would try to escape a.s.a.p., right????

“All clear!” Fat Dragon declared with confidence. Well, maybe not so confidently after all … coz he suggested we leave the house for a midnight snack. “Let the little guy have some space….We’ll leave the doors open, so he can escape!” Hmm… hardly comforting words..you mean he could still be in the house?!

Next morning which was a Saturday, Fat Dragon gave the kitchen another lookover before going to work. Nothing. Well, that’s it. he must have escaped somehow when I was upstairs the night before. OK. Phew. I survived! Although my heart did get a little more exercise than it’s used to!

Being an Obsessive Compulsive, this meant that I was in for a busy morning coz I was committed to giving the sink & all the utensils a washover to clean out the path run over by little visitor. Now after I was done, I happened to notice a dark patch underneath the double burner stove seated on a stove cupboard next to the sink & utensil trolley. Hmmph, I must have dropped a vegetable leaf …. let’s lift the stove & get rid of it! So lift up the stove I did …………

& AAAAAAaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHH…….. SHRIEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Two beady eyes stared back at me & I FREAAAAAKED. I SLAMMED THE STOVE BACK DOWN and in replay, dashed back up the stairs & LOCKED MYSELF IN!!!!!! This episode brought on even worse physical effects. Not only did the heart pound, my hands and legs were shivering …………… AGAIN, I sent out an SOS … this time I called – fingers too shaky to SMS! “Aargh … I thought you said the place was CLEAR???????????” HELP! 

Well, the good news was, I found him right?  I exiled myself in the bedroom for a good two hours that morning … lying in wait for Fat Dragon’s return (Thank God it was a Saturday – half day work. If not, I would have been in self exile longer). Fat Dragon arrived home soon enough & was directed immediately into the kitchen by yours truly. “Check under the stove” “If you see a dark patch … that’s him!”. …Well, minutes later Fat Dragon confirmed ‘”Yup, he’s still there. So what do you want me to do? KILL HIM….?!!”

Umm…I might hate these little suckers but gee.. you know what…I felt an overwhelming pity & admiration for this poor little bugger in particular. Something drove him into our house, I suspect it could’ve been a cat or something like that, given his panicky dash. Thinking of my own pumping heart muscles, I really wonder what all that banging and clanging from the night ‘hunt’ must have done to him. And to imagine having a stove slammed down on him the morning after & still have the courage (or is it stupidity) to remain where he was. WHAT AN ORDEAL it all must have been…..& I couldn’t forget the look on the pair of beady eyes…kinda tugs at your heartstrings a bit.  So I said…”NO, let’s just scare him out of the house.”  And that’s exactly what we did. We wheeled the stove cupboard out into the back yard quietly. Then Fat Dragon lifted the stove loudly. Lo and behold the frightened creature scrambled up to wall to safety & we left it at that.  Let’s hope the ordeal is enough to remind him not to come in to this particular house … … FINGERS CROSSED – I could do with a little less cardiac exercise.

Musophobia according to Wikipedia: 

“Fear of mice and rats is one of the most common specific phobias. It is sometimes referred to as musophobia (from Latin mus for “mouse”) or murophobia (a coinage from the taxonomic adjective “murine” for the Muridae family that encompasses mice and rats), or as suriphobia, from the French souris, meaning mouse.”

Yup, I am guilty of Musophobia as charged.  So, despite beady eyes & all …….  NO – HE IS NOT CUTE!!!!!

  

 

P.S. It is indeed disconcerting to have a phobia of rats given that they are common pests which can be found in a lot of places. While it is not pleasant to suffer from this phobia, I am quite lucky to declare this is the worst of worsts for me. I am fearless when dealing with lizards, cockroaches, even the snake which I found in our backyard one day. However, I do understand how paralysing (emotionally and physically), it is to suffer certain others phobias for eg.  baccillophobia (fear of bacteria) as everything we touch would probably have germs anyway, or maybe claustrophobia (fear of crammed spaces) especially for those working in a highrise building. I dread to think that the person will be sentenced to a lifetime of climbing stairs to his workplace for fear of entering the crammed space of a lift. Given the changing lifestyles of modern times, we also have to deal with ‘newer’ listings for phobias such as homophobia i.e. the fear of homosexuals.

P.P.S. For a list of phobias, check this link.  

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Our beloved Zoo Negara…

      …..      Look how well camouflaged this winged friend of ours is amongst the flora & fauna…..

I know a lot of people (especially those bringing children) visit the zoo and complain complain complain… & compare compare compare – no animals, boring, nothing compared to the Singapore Zoo etc etc etc.

But Zoo Negara has its charm, for me & Fat Dragon anyway.  I suppose the Zoo holds a place close to our hearts.  It is situated in Ulu Klang, near Taman Melawati which was our place of residence from 1992 – 2006. The Zoo was practically our neighbour & some of the free roaming white storks in the zoo actually perch themselves on street lamps in the roads & grazed in a playing field in the Taman Melawati primary school. I kid you not.  (Wonder if the birds are amongst the ones in the pic below…. NO… those are pink flamingos!)

The Zoo’s 120 acre tract of land is very close to the spectacular limestone hills of Taman Melawati & a valuable piece of green lung in the middle of the city. That is the reason why there was a controversy some time back about the relocation of the Zoo. I guess some quarters felt that the piece of land is wasted if it wasn’t developed for commercial use. There was a proposition to relocate the zoo to Putrajaya but its a good thing it didn’t come through. The Malaysian Zoological Society runs it and the zoo’s operations are funded purely through ticket sales, donations & private company funding.

Putting sentimental reasons aside, I agree. The Zoo is not perfect. The animal shows are a bit too contrived. Some of the staff seem to lack a genuine passion for animals – as evidenced in the Petting Zoo where the guy in charge was looking really bored & uninterested in educating the visitors. Some of the air conditioned train stops were let’s say… aired but not conditioned! It was blowing hot air only. The venue that housed the KFC restaurant is now abandoned. The maps showed a Mary Brown restaurant but I guess that too went bust. And the so called ‘Bee’ exhibit is a real STING..as in a con job. Don’t go in.. its just a place showcasing ‘dead’ bees & its just a gimmick set up to sell wild honey.

BUT…….  I’ve always enjoyed walking in the grounds. I’ve always enjoyed the natural surroundings and although the S’pore zoo (which is where Zoo Negara is always compared with) has a lot more animals, some of the glass enclosures don’t appeal to me. Zoo Negara is more natural. I thought the tiger enclosure was very authentic, green & natural with a ‘moat’ running around it. The Bear complex too housed quite a number of bears i.e. sun bears, honey bears etc. A pair of Brown Bears caught my eye though. They were gigantic. And NO, there are no polar bears in Zoo Negara. Big deal. The puma & black leopard enclosures although natural looked unkempt though. The Safari Walk,  a long strip of land housing the giraffes, the zebras, the ostriches was nice. It’s open concept allows the animals to mingle and move freely & that was an appealing sight indeed.

Well, for me, visiting the Zoo is a wonderful experience & I’d like to share some animal sightings & surroundings with you.. I say to you, go with an open mind. Don’t explore with too critical an eye and you just might change your views of the zoo a little bit towards the positive ….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. The entrance fee has gone up to RM15 for adults. Parking is per entry at RM3.

P.P.S. Getting There

  • Using Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) – from Ampang, u-turn at the Taman Melawati exit and take the first left; from Gombak, take the first left after the Taman Melawati exit flyover.
  • Hop on the Metrobus bus 16 from Central Market. This bus will bring you to the zoo entrance.
  • Using Kelana Jaya Line LRT, get down at the Wangsa Maju LRT station and take a taxi or the feeder bus to the zoo.

P.P.P.S. here are 16 exhibits in this zoo. They are:

  • Reptile Park
  • Monkey/Lesser Apes
  • Malaysian Elephants
  • Lake Birds
  • Bird Aviary
  • Nocturnal Exhibits
  • Wallaby/Kangaroo/Pademelon
  • Children’s World
  • Bear Complex
  • Savannah Walk
  • Nile Hippopotamus
  • Mammal Kingdom
  • Freshwater Aquaria
  • Cat Walk
  • Ape Centre
  • Amphibian World

Click this link for a map showing the locations of the various exhibits within the grounds of Zoo Negara.  

p.p.p.p.s. Last but not least… you homo sapiens better not monkey around with the chimps at the primate exhibit area …. coz they’re smart enough to … well let’s just say the warning sign explains itself –

Is life so cheap in Malaysia…?

In the wake of the 16th National Service trainee death, there has been a huge public outcry but the authorities have responded in a way that begs the question …. Is life really so cheap in Malaysia?  

Check out these 2 excerpts taken from articles printed in our local newspapers …

1. NST – 10th of May on why the National Service will not be scrapped.  

“National Service Training Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kecil reiterated that the training programme will not be scrapped “just because of one or two deaths (this year*)”. (Read full article here…..)

*Note: Mind you, we’re not even talking abt a full year… its barely half a year to date!

2. The Star – 15th of May on why the NS trainees death should not be debated in the Parliament:

“AN opposition MP expressed dissatisfaction that emergency motions tabled to discuss the death of a national service trainee and the Internal Security Act were rejected by the Speaker……..

….Manogaran was referring to Fong Po Kuan (DAP–Batu Gajah)’s emergency motion to debate the latest death of a trainee on Tuesday which was dismissed on the grounds that it was not urgent.” (Read full article here….)

I am saddened by the words used in relation to the deaths of the NS trainees. Is life so cheap in Malaysia that  ‘just because one or two’ of them die, the figure is not significant enough to be classified as urgent? And, because it is  ‘not urgent’,  does it mean that it can be reduced to a mere statistic? 

So what would a significant statistic be … obviously, not one or two, right? What about 16 deaths over the past 4 years, would that be a significant or an insignificant figure? An average of 4 deaths a year, significant or insignificant? Well, significant or not, even 1 is too many for the parents of the deceased children.  

The youths of today represent the nation’s future. They could have been the leaders of tomorrow, they could have been mothers, fathers to the generation after.  But… we will never know would we, coz they’re no longer here with us. 

Aren’t we supposed to be warm, loving, caring Malaysians? I would like to think that the answer to my question is “NO, LIFE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE CHEAP IN MALAYSIA!”   So, would it be too much to ask for a little more sensitivity displayed ……..?  To quote opposition MP Manogaran If the death of a national service trainee is regarded as non-urgent to discuss in the Dewan, I do not know what else is urgent.”

Please have some HEART!!!!

P.S. A partial summary of 11 NS trainee names & the respective circumstances of deaths(including Too Hui Min’s – the latest casualty), is available in this link.

…. a Smiling Mountain of horrors?

ARE THESE STONE SCULPTURES …. OR  ARE THEY PROPS FROM A MONSTER MOVIE SET?

No – but they very well could have been, I suppose, if you have an overactive imagination like me.

These are just natural formations from the limestone caves which Fat Dragon and I visited at Gunung Senyum (Smiling Mountain), a recreational Park, 40km off the town of Temerloh, Pahang in the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia during the labour day holiday. Imagine, these were carved out by tropical rain water over thousands of years!!!!!!  Its a real testament to the wonders of nature.

We ended up labouring hard that May day. You see, caving at G. Senyum, requires a bit of a climb. The caves are scattered all over the two limestone hills i.e. Gunung Senyum & Gunung Puyuh in the park.  I think in all there are about 18 caves in G. Senyum and about 8 in G. Puyuh. We managed to cover 8 only & they were all in G. Senyum.     

Caving really offers a unique experience. The minute you step into a cave, it can set your sense of imagination into overdrive. If you look closely, the overhanging stalactites and grounded stalagmites itself seem to take on a life of their own ……  sometimes eerily so, sometimes funny, sometimes cute. The larger than life sculptures carved out by Mother Nature are truly amazing and the uncanny resemblance to images of animals, things or certain characters can be quite scary sometimes.  For me, it feels as if you’ve just stepped into a sculptural museum of sorts or even a movie set of aliens & monsters!

See the resemblances for yourselves and tell me if you agree with the comparisons that I drew from them………..

1. ……….make way for the BABY ELEPHANT.. the Circus is in Gunung Senyum!!!!!

2. ……Ummm, could this be a panda? … The front legs are a bit short though…

…………………wait a minute, that’s maybe because he’s a BEAVER …

3. …..Hey I thought ALIENS were found in ROSWELL, you mean they’re in G Senyum too…! Hmm, his shoulders look buffed from the side profile. Must be from all the rock climbing activities here!

 4. …. Move aside Alien Vs. Predator … here comes Alien Vs. Limestone Predator?

5. Ok now this is getting creepy…..I half expected the stone which looked like a head covered with long hair to rear its head to reveal this scary eye image from the 1998 Japanese cult horror flick, The Ring…..   

6. Ahhahaha…Never fear…  the stalactite and stalagmite galore has enough images to offer you a respite from the self imposed scare….check out these peeping smiley faces…don’t they look like they came jumped straight out of one of Yue Min Jun’s art pieces – the anonymous smiling face being a trademark in each of his works  …  Yue is a contemporary artist who hails from China. He set the value of art produced by Chinese artists on fire with his piece “Execution” being sold at London’s Sothebys for a whopping £2.9m. Yue Min Jun ROCKS (pun intended!!!).  And what an appropriate way to end our adventure … with a smiling face in Gunung Senyum – a great playground for an overactive mind. Looking back at these pictures, never fails to put a smile on my own face.

How APT!!!!!!

 

P.S. Travel Tips to G. Senyum:

  • Entrance to the park is FREE of charge. There is ample parking space available and you can drive up straight into the park itself.
  • If you go during weekends, beware of Mat Rempits who lord their way through the small road leading to the Recreational Park.  They are actually youths working in the rubber/ oil palm estates of the huge FELDA schemes in the nearby Jengka area. We were told they can be aggressive at times & their motorcycle stunts pose a danger to traffic.
  • Be sure to pack lunch & drinks if you’re going on a day trip. There are no eateries in the Park itself although there are washrooms and rest areas.
  • If you’re the superstitious type, you’ve got to pack some caution with you. There are some pantang larangs attached to caves according to Malay folklore. A woman who is menstruating should not enter the cave. You should also not talk BIG or boast or even mock the creatures or whatever that is inside the caves. We were told that there have been groups of people who have violated these unwritten rules & have fallen sick en masse. Believe it or not.
  • There is no comprehensive map of the cave system available. Do try to explore every nook and corner, to the left and to the right even if its really dark. Or else you just might miss some spectacular sights. We covered Gua Angin, Gua Terang Bulan, Gua Taman Satu, Gua Taman Dua, Gua Gajah, Gua Makam Tok Long (Yup…you got that right..there’s a grave in the cave), Gua Silat, Gua Danau Impian in Gunung Senyum itself and that’s only partial coverage. Lots more caves to explore!
  • You can find directions and more information on the Gunung Senyum Recreational Park in this website.

HAPPY TRIPPING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick ‘facts’ about Iron Man…….

Wow, who can resist seeing Robert Downey Jr. enact his 1st superhero role of Iron Man in the latest Marvel comics title brought to the big screen. 

The movie sets good pace for a person who is not into the comic scene & has no idea who the superhero is.

It starts right off with action as an American convoy is attacked by terrorists in Afghanistan. Then it flashes back to a few months earlier and then skips back to the aftermath of the attack. The object of the terrorist attack is to kidnap American industrialist, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Stark is not only an arms manufacturer, but an inventor of great skill and intelligence. The terrorists want Stark to build them a working model of a very deadly short range missile armed with cluster bombs. They have all the parts.

Now, Stark was badly wounded in the attack (by his own weapons actually) and is being kept alive by an electromagnet which keeps the shrapnel from working its way into his heart. This ingenious rig was built by the Muslim doctor who operated on him, Yinsen (played by Shaun Toub of “The Kite Runner”). 

The Iron Man armour was invented out of Stark’s determination to escape captivity. The suit not only succeeded in helping Stark escape but eventually turned out to be the ultimate killing & flying machine. However, instead of profiteering on his new invention, Stark’s near death experience caused him to swing 180 degress – to use the armour for saving mankind instead ‘destroying’ mankind.

There is a strong cast supporting Downey’s character. Pepper Potts played by Gwyneth Paltrow is his able and sexy assistant. There is hidden romantic tension between them. Jeff Bridges plays Obadiah, Tony’s business partner in Stark Industries. Obadiah plots to black Iron Man out from the board of directors’ decisions as he plans to continue selling arms despite Tony’s change of heart. After all plunging stock prices and peaceful enterprises did not augur well for business. Obadiah is also anxious to steal Stark’s invention so that he can put the armour up for sale in the weaponry market as the ultimate killing machine. He is prepared to snuff Stark out for good lest he get in the way. That sets the stage for the final standoff between good and evil in the movie, a ‘clash of Iron Men’ so to say.

Well, here are snippets of entertainment facts that might interest you about Iron Man the movie…

1. This is Marvel Studio’s maiden super hero production………

Yes! The film is the first self financed production from Marvel studios. They spent US150m to make the movie and US75m to market it. The movie is set to hit or exceed the projected US85million box office takings during the opening weekend. Friday alone grossed US32.5m so its well on track to meet its target.  To top it off, the movie cast big names like Oscar nominee Robert Downey, award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and veteran Jeff Bridges and Shaun Toub of Kite Runner fame. Reviews for the movie were over 90% favourable. Now if this does not garner a winning formula, what will?  Be prepared for more super hero movies from Marvel…

2. What inspired the creation of Iron Man’s character?  

Howard Hughes. Iron Man was bourne out of the collaboration between editor and story-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, story-artist Don Heck, and Jack Kirby. In 1963, Lee thought “what about a businessman superhero”? So he set out to create a new character a rich, glamorous ladies’ man, but one with a secret that would plague and torment him as well. Lee based this playboy’s personality on Howard Hughes, explaining, “Howard Hughes was one of the most colorful men of our time. He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies’ man and finally a nutcase”

3. Did you know that there is a parallel that can be drawn between the  original comic character and Robert Downey Junior …?  

In the addiction department that is. The original cartoon character of Tony Stark, Iron Man’s alter ego developed a serious dependency on alcohol when he discovered that the national security agency S.H.I.E.L.D. was buying a controlling interest in his company in order to ensure Stark’s continued weapons development for them. Downey too had a dependency problem. He was arrested numerous times from 1996 until 2001 on drug-related charges and went through drug treatment programs several times unsuccessfully, explaining in 1999 to a judge: “It’s like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and my finger’s on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gunmetal”. Wow how ironic he now plays the Iron Man!  

 4. Did you know that this is the first time Jeff Bridges shaves his head bald for a screen role?  

Yes, its the very first time and he thought it would be fun! Jeff Bridges plays the villain Obadiah in Iron Man. Obadiah, is depicted as a BALD man in the comic. Jeff was waiting to see if the director Jon Favreau was going to persuade him to cut off his locks for the role but the director was not particularly obsessive about that detail. Jeff himself decided to show some skin in his head which is a first in his film career! He figured it would be in keeping with the comic villain’s appearance! Actors who  reinvent themselves to be in character deserve my applause. I must say he succeeded in presenting himself as an authentic comic villain, just with the look only. What a bonus it was that there was great acting thrown in as well. 

 5. There was no script when Robert Downey signed on for the role.

Yup, the role was THAT enticing to Robert Downey. He actually signed on for the role without a script. Needless to say, he had a part in developing the script together with Marvel, the screen play writers & director Jon Favreau. That’s why the movie has a contemporary theme as it truly is hot from the oven. The original comic book had an anti communist theme but Iron Man has an anti terrorism theme.

 6. Pepper Potts (Tony Stark’s Girl Friday) is Gwyneth’s comeback role after becoming a mother.

Gwyneth admits that she is sort of geeky & has never read comics in her life. But the offer to play the role of Tony Stark’s “Girl Friday” Pepper Potts besides Robert Downey Jr was irresistable. The timing was right too. Gwyneth was enjoying mother hood but the time seemed right for a comeback as Gwyneth’s son Moses is now a year old. Although she had to shed about 20 lbs of motherhood related ‘flab’, she said that she enjoyed playing the role very much & has confirmed enthusiastically that she has signed on for the ‘sequel’ with blood! Anything for a little extra time with Robert Downey I’m sure! (Check this interview out with Gwyneth!)…..BTW, did you notice how high the heels of her shoes were in the movie, especially during the stand off scenes..Phew…talk about risk of ankle injury…

 7. You wanna KICK A** like Iron Man? ….. Thanks to SEGA you can.  

Well, I don’t know how desperate you are to enact the role of Iron Man but never fear, SEGA has a video game which premiered the same date (May 2) as the movie. It can be played on  PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360, PC and Mobile Platforms . Hey you can even change your armour for goodness sakes. Take your pick, you have the Classic armor, Extremis armor, Hulkbuster armor, Classic Mark I armor, Mark I armor, Mark II armor, Mark III armor, Silver centurion armor (Xbox 360 exclusive) and Ultimate Iron Man (PS3 exclusive). You also get to upgrade your iron man suit by doing missions and getting money to buy the upgrade. Oh, btw, it features the actual voices of Robert Downey, Terence Howard & Shaun Toub ……

Needless to say, the merchandisers will cash in on the Iron Man bandwagon next. ….. So start saving and get some shelf space ready for your Iron Man miniatures!

Have a great week at the movies!