I’m back to blogging and am no longer dropping babies

So I’m back after an almost 13 months absence. No, that “2013 in review” post does not count. WordPress did up that post for me. It’s a automatic feature.

Now that I’m back there are some minor updates to the blog.

  • Changed the website’s name from Zareth Writes At: Blog to Zareth Writes At. Spot the difference.
  • Updated the About Me section
  • Added a new FAQ section. The FAQ Section is basically sort of a mock interview between myself and my reflection in the toilet bowl after a night of heavy drinking.
  • Promise to try and get out a new post every Wednesday (GMT+8) for the duration of 2014.

About the last point, I said I’ll try. Key word is TRY. I’m not the most disciplined and prolific blogger as attested by the infrequency of my blogging. Why Wednesday? I wanted to post every Monday but then I have a serious case of the Mondays. Tuesday is the day for me to recover from the Mondays. I don’t like blogging on Thursdays and Fridays since they’re so close to the weekends and I don’t like blogging on the weekends since they’re, well, the weekends. So Wednesday it is then.

Some weeks I might post more, but otherwise it’s one new post every Wednesday. But I guess this week is your lucky week cause I’m putting up two new posts this week: this and one more on Wednesday.

So what’s the new post of 2014 going to be? Well, the clue’s in the title.

Zareth’s blogging again? Well I hope he shut up soon and let me have my siesta in peace. Otherwise I’m telling him the “Three Bears” story. And it ain’t the one about Goldilocks.

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Roof and Rats

I’m currently on STUVAC. Pronounced as stoo-vak, it’s a shortened form for study vacation in USYD. It’s basically one week of cramming and caffeinating for the exams.

Some of my friends take the first part of the oxymoron seriously. They camp outside the library one hour before it’s open to secure the best possible spot, far away from prying eyes and distracting noise. With their trolley bags packed with a carton of energy drinks, baggies of caffeine pills obtained from underground baristas (the pills are later crushed up and snorted), and neatly handwritten, underlined, italicized, bolded, and highlighted notes weighing 20kg for each subject (the poor trees), these people mean business. Vacation? That’s for the weak.

They are also the same people who are dragged out from the library screaming and hyperventilating five minutes after closing time.

Then you have the people who prefer to focus on the second part of the oxymoron. You never see them in the library. In fact, they’ll make sure that during the one week of STUVAC, under the pain of study pressure, not set foot onto the campus. Unless they have an exam scheduled on that day. Even then, some are so dedicated that they don’t even bother turning up. Rumour has it that these dedicated people book the first flight out of Sydney the moment the semester ends.

When it comes to crunch time, you see these people either staring into space, resigned to their death sentences, or begging the over-caffeinated people for a single morsel of useless answer.

The first group calls these people lazy bums, or losers who would never amount to anything. The second group will tell them to *beep* *beep* and take a chill pill. Not very good advice since the first group are already overdosed on caffeine pills. But then, maybe the first group of people will pop anything into their mouth that looks like a pill. Otherwise, how the hell do they stay still and shut up during the exams?

There is no third group. There is no in-between. Choose a side and take up your position. Embrace the yin-yang of STUVAC. Otherwise the oxymoron that is STUVAC will cease to exist and USYD will collapse like a house of cards.

Guess which side I’m on.

Talking about collapsing like a house of cards, the one week of non-stop rain in Sydney has wrecked havoc at my place. My kitchen is now a walking deathtrap.

 

Rainwater has been leaking through the roof and eating away at the thin cardboard masquerading as my kitchen ceiling. This is not the first time it happened. The kitchen roof has a tendency of leaking during thunderstorms. I called the landlord a couple of times to fix it, and thankfully, he swung by to patch up the roof. The last time he came over, he added a wooden beam to hold up the other end of the ceiling. But this is the worst so far. I mean, there’s a hole in my kitchen ceiling! And it looks like it’s about to split in half any moment soon.

 

Looks like Mr. Landlord has to come back and patch up the roof again.

 

So after snapping a few photos to prove that my housemates and I were not the ones who decided to take apart the kitchen ceiling just for the heck of it, I was looking through my old photos when I saw this:

 

I took these sometime last year. Apparently Pan and Bentley decided that sleeping perpendicular to the hammock was a very good idea. While Bentley looks comfortable, I was amazed that Pan could still sleep even though three-quarters of his body was dangling out of the hammock. But it’s normal though. Rats sleep in the most odd positions. And they looked so peaceful.

There were also a couple of other photos of Pan and Bentley. These pictures were pretty hilarious. I mean, the pictures are not hilarious themselves, but what took place was quite amusing. I’ll tell the story below (now with digital pictures!). But before I proceed with the story, I’ll need to tell you a bit of back-story to establish the context.

I was in my room when I realized I hadn’t seen Pan and Bentley. They weren’t in the cage since I let them out for a bit of playtime. Usually they were on the bed running around. But I hadn’t seen them for the past 15 minutes, which, in rat-time, is equivalent to about an hour or so.

I found that a bit odd, so I called out their names. Knowing Pan would just ignore me (as usual), I waited for Bentley to come running to me. Yet, after three seconds, even Bentley was a no-show. Hmm, that’s weird.

So I lifted up my blanket and saw this:

 

Pan and Bentley just had a butt-sniffing fest. Kidding. They were just sleeping. Like I said, rats sleep in odd positions.

So I was taking photos and just annoying the hell out Pan and Bentley when this happened:

 

Pan, in his typical “ignore Zareth” mode, just burrowed deeper into the blanket. Meanwhile, Bentley glared at me if to say:

“MAN, can’t a rat get some rest here? Seriously, cut us some slack. Be a champ and put the blanket where it originally was.”

I decided to repay Bentley for the times he jumped on my face when I was sleeping. So I continued to take more photos. Then five seconds later, this happened:

 

Pan dug deeper into the blanket. According to his logic, if he can’t see me, I can’t see him. And if I can’t see him, I won’t bother him. Well, he was just a few milimetres from achieving that goal. Meanwhile, frustrated with me, Bentley shot me an unhappy look as if to say:

“Screw this, I don’t need to take anymore bullshit.” Then he just upped and walked back to the cage. Where he lay perpendicular to the hammock and sulked.

I just laughed.

I miss my rats.

The Second Last Week (A Sequel)

I’m back, yet again. It’s definitely not the first time I’ve let my blog rot away. There were times when I did not blog for a month or two. But at almost five months, this is by far the longest I’ve been away from my blog.

There’s two reasons for this absence. First, I was President of a student society for International and Exchange students in Sydney University. It’s called Unimates. I did mention Unimates a couple of times here. For the past five months or so, I was so damn hyper-focused on Unimates that I didn’t have much for anything else. Then of course, there’s coursework and other campus activities. Anyway, I’ve officially stepped down last Thursday.

The second reason – and this is the main reason – is that I was sick and tired of blogging. I could have used the excuse that being a President of a student society was time draining. But then that would be an easy cop out. I was Vice-President last semester and even though I was busy, I still manage to blog on a monthly basis.

But it seemed this year I had no will to blog. I wouldn’t say I stop blogging completely. I did wrote a few blog post for my society’s blog. But then, that’s a society’s blog and as the then-current President, there’s a limit to how much you can say, although I did try to take certain liberties (ahem).

But yes, I was tired of blogging. I could have continue blogging, but then it’ll be nothing but boring fillers: “Beloved Blog, today my friend was a judgmental nincompoop. I shall cease any correspondence with this offending and odious person. BAH!”  Well, you get the idea. Still, it’s not that I have nothing to write about. I do. But sometimes it’s harder to get it onto the screen and get your ideas across to the readers. And to be honest, I make a very horrible blogger. I promised to write a blog advert for this Singaporean upstart back in February and I never got to it. And then there’s Mike Thomas’s film that I promised to write about it way back in October.

Yes, I’m a shithead. Or as I mentioned, an offending and odious person.

So I’m back. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve put too much investment into this blog to let it really, really rot away. And now that I’m no longer President of Unimates, maybe I’ll have more time to rant about random stuff.

But this post is not about random rants. This post is about the sequel to the very short story called The Second Last Week. I wrote it last year for one of the Unimates’ event. It was supposed to be a short event description for the final Unimates event (a dinner party) and it somehow turned into a very short story. You can read it here.

The sequel to The Second Last Week is for the exact same event, only eight months later. This Unimates dinner party actually took place last Friday. When I was writing the event description, I thought it would be fun to write a sequel. So I banged out another very short story.

The Second Last Week has influences from the 1998 film Six-String Samurai to Kevin Smith’s Dogma. And it also placed Global Financial Crisis and the University of Sydney Union’s membership pricing in a humorous context. The sequel still references to Six-String Samurai but I’ve changed the rest. I was slightly more heavy-handed in terms of pop-culture referencing in the sequel. Anyway, enough jabbering on my part. Read on.

 

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The Second Last Week (A Sequel)

You sit up and look around. The surrounding landscape stretches out before you, barren and undulating. A tree or two, grow out from the ground cracked by centuries of heat. The trees’ barks are roasted to the colour black.

“What…” a hoarse sound escapes from your mouth.

You remember dying at the hands of Lord Exam. The brief pain when his blade severed your head from your body. And the sweet, sweet darkness that you succumbed to. And afterwards…

Hold on.

A small fragment of memory is floating around. You push through the fogginess of your brain and try to reach it. So close. The memory of laughter, of food, of drinks. But where did these memories come from?

You look around again. There are no sign of your guitar and samurai sword. You look up, shielding your eyes from the blinding sun, and see, for the first time, a red gash on the sky. That’s odd, you thought, you don’t remember seeing that there.

“Are you lost?” a smooth, baritone voice shatters the desert silence.

You half turn and see a strange-looking creature, with dirty, matted orange fur, staring at you.

“I, er, I can’t remember.”

The creature raises an eyebrow quizzically. It continues staring at you with its dark green eyes. Slowly, it circles around you, its right hand casually resting on the hilt of a small sword.

“You cannot remember if you are lost?”

You eye it warily. The creature could be a marauder. They were frequent in the desert. But then, it didn’t look like any marauder you’ve seen before.

“Where am I?” you cough, the words sandpapering your throat as they left your mouth. “Is this the Mojave Desert?”

The creature stops pacing. “Mojave Desert? No, my friend, this is the Red Waste.”

“I’m sorry, but I seem to be suffering from amnesia. I don’t remember being your friend.”

The creature hisses. “It is a mark of courtesy. Unless, you would like to have the honour of becoming my enemy.”

Small as the creature was, it looks as if it handled its fair share of battles. Furthermore, the creature was armed.

“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. I remembered being killed by Lord Exam. The last memory I had was laughter, and weirdly enough, of food and drinks too.”

“And who is this Lord Exam?”

“He is…” you pause. Lord Exam, Lord Assignments, and Lady Projects were the most fearsome of marauders. How could the creature not know the tripartite of Doom?

“Hold on, where am I?”

“As I have mentioned, you are in the Red Waste. To be more precise, we are in the Red Waste,” the baritone reply resonates through the desert.

For such a small creature, it sure has a deep voice.

“I know, but I mean, what is this place? I remembered I was in the United States.”

“United States? I do not know where that is. But no, my friend, you are in the land of Essos.”

“Essos?”

The creature sighs and rubs its forehead. “Yes, the land of Essos. The land of the Free Cities. The land of the Dothraki Sea. The land of the once mighty empire, Valyrian Freehold.”

You blink at the creature, confused.

“Clearly I have not managed to enlighten you. I hope that you will regain your memory. But for the time, we must continue walking. The Mother of Dragons will be here soon, and she wants my head.”

“The Mother of Dragons?”

“Ah yes, a very beautiful woman. Her eyes are pools of lavender, while her hair shone with the white of the moon. I promised to wed her, but wanderlust took over me and I escaped from the City of Qarth.”

You stare at the creature.

“Clearly you do not believe me. But now it is not the time to convince you. Come, we must continue our journey. Can you walk?”

You slowly get onto your feet, stretching the tensed muscles. Apart from a sore backside, your body is still in good condition. Taking a few unsteady steps, you stroll beside the creature. You did not realize how small the creature is. The top of its hat barely reaches the height of your kneecap.

“By the way, what’s the red thing in the sky?”

The creature looks up, the wide brim of its floppy hat shielding its green eyes from the sun.

“I have heard many stories in Qarth. Some say that it is the Dragons’ comet. Some say, war is coming. But the most frequent story I have heard is that the gods are angry.”

“The gods are angry? With whom?”

“I do not know. But the tale is that someone was kicked out from the realm of the gods after failing to pay for a meal.”

That sounds familiar. But you have no idea where you have heard that tale before.

“I see. That’s an odd tale.”

“It is. But I do not believe in these stories from Qarth.”

“I’m sorry but I don’t think we’ve introduced ourselves. I would have gave you mine if I remembered it”

The creature smiles. With flourish, the creature doffs its wide, floppy hair and gives a deep bow.

“My name is Puss-In-Boots. It is a pleasure to meet you in the Red Waste.”

“And it is my pleasure too.”

“Come, my friend. The Red Waste is a treacherous desert and we are a long way to the City of Braavos.”

Above, the red gash glowers from the sky.

5 people covering a song on 1 guitar. And Headstock Guy’s suffering.

Title says it all.

Just imagine the amount of coordination, practice and teamwork put into this song just to get the rhythm and timing right. There’s enough problems with 1 person playing a guitar. Imagine 5 people playing the same guitar at the same time. You can see the stress on their faces. I bet the only thing going through their mind is: “Don’t screw up, please don’t screw it up, don’t screw up, please don’t screw it up.”

The guy in the middle looks extra constipated from the stress overload. Perhaps that’s what all the wailing about.

Except the guy on the far right. He has the most ‘screw-this-shit’ face ever.

“Go ahead. Play all the awesome parts while I just stand here and hold the headstock. No, no, I’m fine. Seriously. I’ll just strum a few strings and blare out the chorus at the end. It’s all about teamwork and personal sacrifice after all. Go team!”

This is what the band [wants to] hears.

In private, this is probably going through his mind: “Those bastards, I’ll show them who’s boss. I’ll move my arm!” Even then, Headstock Guy is not even holding the headstock. He’s just supporting it. So in short, he’s a glorified musical stand. Poor guy. No wonder he’s so pissed.

In fact, Headstock Guy has to most expressive face every. And each facial expression chronicles his emotional and mental turmoil.

Ladies and Gentleman, I present you the behind-the-scene story:

Head-on Against the Turmoil: A Picture Story of Headstock Guy’s Breakdown


20 years in music academy and this is what my career has come to. A human musical stand.

__________

Can life get any worse?

__________

Must not cry. Must carry on for band. The show must go on.

__________

Dammnit! Compose yourself!

__________

Come on! Get a grip on yourself!

__________

Focus. Focus. Control that quivering lip.

__________

No tears. No tears, dammit. Not now.

__________

Sniff. Sniffle.

__________

WHAT? ME CRYING? HAHAHAHAHA, YOU FUNNY PEOPLE.

__________

This is it. My life is no more.

__________

………………………………

__________

Nevertheless, it’s a breathtaking performance. So sit back and enjoy the video. If you don’t watch it, Headstock Guy cries himself to sleep.

 

 

P.S.: I wrote a shorter version of this post for my society’s blog. Click here to read it.

P.S.S: I’ve disappeared for 3 months (exams, laziness, burnout, and travelling around a country) and there’s a backlog of stuff I have to write, edit and post. So this blog is alive, yet again.

 

Upcoming film – 1965: Dark of the Malaya

Tony Leung is Lee Kuan Yew.

Tony Leung, the famous Hong Kong actor, is Lee Kuan Yew, the father of modern Singapore.

In case you forget who Tony Leung is, this is him:

 

 

(Taken from neogogo)

 

He’s a handsome actor.

This is Lee Kuan Yew during his younger days.

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, hang on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Famous for acting in films such as Infernal Affairs and Lust, Caution, Tony may be playing Lee Kuan Yew in the political triller 1965.

Don’t believe me?

Check this out:

 

 

(Link here.)

 

I several niggling questions though.

1) Why Tony? I don’t see any resemblance between him and LKY.

2) Why choose a Hong Kong actor instead of a Singaporean actor? Wait, I can actually answer that. Instead of portraying Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean actor will be portraying Lee Hauntu (Malay for ghost). Most Singaporean film and television actors have the acting range of a zombie. Only a well-rounded actor like Tony will be able to play LKY.

3) Why is Julianne Moore slated to be in this film? Not that I’m complaining though. But I can picture two roles that she’ll most likely be playing:

  • A intrepid, hardnose BBC journalist chronicling the turbulent months before Singapore got its independence. Jeff Goldblum, pissed that BBC sent his girlfriend to a dangerous region, rushed down from the U.S. and saved her before the entire Singapore implodes.
  • Or, she is the wife of an Englishman residing in either the Malaya Peninsular or Singapore, who is played by Jeff Goldblum.

If you’re wondering why I keep mentioning Jeff Goldblum, it’s because I keep thinking of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. And the reason I keep thinking of JP 2 is because of this:

 

 

(Website here)

 

Munich and Empire of the Sun are directed by Steven Spielberg. Do you see the connection now? DO YOU? IT’S A CONSPIRACY!!!! 

Sorry guys, I’m not the one shouting. It’s this guy:

 

 

(Taken from Wikipedia)

 

John Turturro, starring as:

 

 

(Taken from Wikipedia)

 

David Saul Marshall, Singapore’s 1st Chief Minister and firebrand politician.

Now add in Michael Bay as director and Steven Spielberg as producer and you’ll get the most explosive, blockbuster political thriller ever. 

1965: Dark of the Malaya, a film not to be missed.

Shia LaBeouf might get a part.

Now all I need is to find the film poster.

 

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Check out some of mrbrown’s photos of Tony Leung as LKY here.