Khamis, September 23, 2004

I don't think I've ever said there were no rules in life. I've definitely said that you can do a lot of interesting things by breaking them, and also by not knowing them. But overall, I tend to believe something that my old-self used to say, whenever I'd done what I considered a particularly interesting reading of something, which was, "... please remember that before you can be properly eccentric, you must know where the circle is."

I'm not saying you can't fuse or blend seriousness and humour ( I've done it already, several times ). I'm probably saying that in a story ( or at least, in my story ) ... I'm trying to make something that feels like a layer-cake, with different flavours and textures in the cake, but it's obviously all part of one thing, and in not making something that has a layer of chocolate cake and then a layer of sashimi and ends with a layer of barbecued ribs.

And it's always wise to ignore the daily maunderings of a story-teller ( like me ) while they're writing.

I'm a writer.

All I'm really interested in is how the pen fits into my hand, whether it's weighted in a way that allows me to write for a long time, and what kind of marks the nib makes when I start writing, which may mean I'm probably not a proper pen-junkie at all.

It hadn't occurred to me that people would think that I meant that people should be taught not to think the wrong things. ( I was tempted to continue that sentence, "No, what I meant was that people should be taught not to think the wrong things..." when I realised that, yes, someone could assume that was indeed what I meant ... go figurelah! ) suppose that there are people who could fail to notice when I'm deploying irony, exaggerating for humorous effect or just burbling. But I'd hate to have to take this journal down to the lowest common denominator, just in case. I think you people lot are brighter than that.

Well, it was interesting anyways. I learned lots of things.

Selasa, September 21, 2004

Last night was well spent with a friend and her crew. Met up with them at Karangkraf, which has copies of many periodicals and well-sought-after magazines, and I know this because I read stacks of it well before I’ve been there. Had profound information on what publication is all about.

Karangkraf has an astonishing amount of cool stuff in boxes and on shelves in backrooms -- even more astonishing if you include the stuff they can't find. It occurred to me today, talking about stuff they couldn't find (old back issues). I am a junkie for junk ( get me?).

If only I have access to all the archive in the world and find all the things that I put on my wish list. Will that be a dream come true? Ah! Forget it … too complicated.

And once that was done, remarkably a good day followed. Took a short break from thinking ‘hardcore’ stuff; that at one point or many – which almost made me ‘gila’ … as in totally ‘mereng’! “Jiwa tengah kacau beb!!!”, exclaim myself to a friend a few days ago. I do believe (for reasons that shall remain unspecified, but you'll have to take my word for it) that the true meaning of inner-peace or ‘ketenangan jiwa’ is still and very much elusive.

Tomorrow, will continue on unwanted things of my so-called life. Tonight I have a houseful of temporary calmness. Meaning : lots and lots of comic reading. A source of inspiration which I couldn’t explain … again.

I thought I was going to write some story earlier, hit my friend for a publishing note, and then answer today's e-mail and some friendster’s messages. I could only manage the friendster.

I was so wrong. Bed seems like so much more sensible an option.

Ahad, September 19, 2004

''padi'' ada maksudnya. justeru bermakna sangat membumi dan terpasak akan diri kepada yang azali..

(buat semua pengabdi cinta suci.)

Hamparan langit maha sempurna
Bertakhta bintang - bintang di angkasa
Namun satu bintang yang berpijar
Teruntai turun menyapa aku

Ada tutur kata terucap
Ada damai yang kurasakan
Bila sinarnya sentuh wajahku
Kepedihanku pun... terhapuskan

Alam rayapun semua tersenyum
Merunduk dan memuja hadirnya
Terpukau aku menatap wajahnya
Aku merasa mengenal dia..

Tapi ada entah dimana
Hanya hatiku mampu menjawabnya
Mahadewi resapkan nilainya
Pencarianku pun... usai sudah

Mahadewi resapkan nilainya ... tercipta untukku

... amanlah diri ini bersama sepi.

Khamis, September 16, 2004

( ... the dream of a dream; which that i dreamt )

I've never done anything like this before. What will weightlessness feel like? A rollercoaster? Or floating in water, but without the water? When I was little, I used to have lots of recurring dreams about flying -- the dream-sensation of weightlessness felt so vivid, once I half-woke-up and sleep-jumped right off a flight of stairs. How is it that our bodies already know what zero-gravity feels like? Are we remembering what it felt like to float in utero? That waking dream of flight and floating -- it's something each of us physically understand. I'm looking forward to feeling the real thing.

A friend of mine in sekolah rendah was an amateur astronomer. He taught me a lot of things about stars and space when I was a boy. He was there, in our class (... if im not mistaken Dua Teratai kot??), when I realized I couldn't fly that day. He picked me up, and probably had to work really hard at not laughing. Later, after lots of band-aids and tissues, he explained what gravity was. I remember feeling really stupid all over again when he told me, "Oi!, people just can't float like that." I wish he could be here and explain to me the concept of gravity all over again.

I've asked around on this one, and I am fairly puzzled. No-one seems to know where this behaviour comes from. I think it's a dreamer 'made-up thingy'. And while I was sent a script last week for a drama by a friend who loves it and very much wants to make it, it wasn't fair thinking how Malaysian viewer are not ready for it (of whom I am so disappointed).


Jumaat, September 10, 2004

A couple of days without a reliable routine : and now I'm at my local CC, killing time.

Still kind of processing this coming weekend --- I was kept much busier than I ever expected to be during the weekends, but still failed to hook up with a lot of people during the nights. (by the way ... i need a new nokia hp). Another friend of mine made it to the U.K again : a freeloader who also used to be a stingy poker in one of the few remaining outings (... and I spent a chunk of last saturday nite picking his brains).

Just before I left ITM (Oooo... do i missed the good ol'days there!!!), I found some old notes towards a story set partially in my so-called script work. And it feels like it's coalescing into something now. Thanks, fellowship of freinds from Masscomm. (I'm told that people were wondering why I was spending so much time flashing-back: it's mostly because I've recently helped convincing myself to take my grump memories and bad experiences public. And hello to all the lover-haters out there ---

Also, finally got to meet some long lost friend too, who turns out to be another of the disturbingly influential figure in my life, and her boyfriend; to whom I now owe at least lots of respect.

Abu ( bukan nama sebenar dalam kad pengenalan), my unofficial best-friend since i 'made' a living here waaaay back in 1987, kept asking if I'll go back to being a comic book artist. Bearing in mind the frankly 'bizarre' size of the crowds I seemed to draw during my years at SMSU, and my intent to establish deeper in comics later after i leave school, and the fact that there was not one single support(both financially and spiritually) or encouragement since. I think it's pretty likely that I was doomed to be this way.

I now go to look for someplace to where i can spend the rest of my life.

Goodbye, past-life.
See you, when i see you!

Selasa, September 07, 2004

i'm not a Superman freak; but the mythology amuse me in many ways.

Recent articles in the mainstream press have much sparked debate online in regards to the future of Superman, in both comics and movies. While the movie has, how shall I put it, just a few problems in the past decade, I think his comic book counterpart is doing just fine. Mark Waid’s Birthright has done a stellar job of retelling Superman’s origins. As Waid put it, it’s like Superman: The Really Long Movie. Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman series really highlights the conflicting nature of Batman and Superman’s personalities. It seems it’s the monthlies that are the problem. I’ve not picked up Action Comics, Adventures of Superman or Superman (or Man of Steel, for that matter) on a regular basis since The Death of Superman arc. I think a day may come (way down the line, mind) where those monthlies are phased out and all we’ll get is a continuous flow of mini and maxi-series’. That might not be a bad thing; DC could tempt some of the best writers to pitch ideas for Superman stories, without having to worry about continuity or the pressure of strict deadlines. However, a good writer is a good writer, they should be able to tell a decent story that makes people come back to the regular Superman titles. But I can’t see them going the way of Man of Steel for a while yet.

In the last year, two of the greatest Superman stories have been released. Neither are from the three core Superman titles, both can be classed as Elseworlds, yet both capture the essence of the character and what makes him so special. Neither try to make him cool, neither try to make him edgy or appeal to the generation of readers who prefer flawed heroes, they show Superman upholding his ideals of truth and justice. I’m talking about Superman: Red Son and Superman: Secret Identity. If you haven’t read these then I’d advise you to go and pick them up. Red Son is out in trade paperback, Secret Identity is bound to be out as a trade sometime soon (you can own your very own copies just by visiting Kinokuniya KLCC : you friendly comic book trade outlet). I’ll try and be spoiler-lite but if you haven’t read them it’s best you don’t go any further.

Superman: Red Son

In Red Son, Superman’s ship crash-lands in Ukraine and the Man of Steel grows up in Communist Russia. The concept is fascinating and in the hands of a lesser writer could have gone belly up. Millar’s execution, and his understanding of the Superman (and DC) mythology shine through, especially in the third issue where things are brought to a thought-provoking conclusion. Red Son’s Lex Luthor is a US government scientist, a genius (and, in the first issue, bears a striking resemblance to Sean Connery). He is the most remarkable human being on the planet and sharing it with Superman is the last thing he wants. This Superman has no secret identity, suggesting that Superman is a more legitimate personality than his alter ego.

The death of Stalin leads to Superman taking his place. This is coupled with the rise of Lex Luthor, who eventually becomes the U.S. President. Red Son is a “what if?” Cold War story, except Superman and Luthor are far more dangerous than any nuclear weapon. With Superman on their side Russia are Cold War victors, this Superman believes in Truth, Justice and the Socialist Way. The world embraces Communism and Capitalist America crumbles as the only country that doesn’t subscribe to Superman’s beliefs. Only later, when Lex Luthor takes his seat in the Oval Office, does Capitalism become the status quo. Superman traditionally has never been about politics. He is, however, an American creation and will reflect American beliefs. It can be said he is a character of the world but then how many times has Saddam Hussein picked up a Superman comic? Superman represents America. Millar’s Communist Superman is exactly the same as the American version. He isn’t evil, he won’t take a life, he’ll do what he thinks is right and has the same set of morals. It’s the political beliefs instilled in him that separate him from his yank counterpart.

Red Son highlights the flaws of Communism from Superman’s point of view. How can you champion equality and at the same time be a superhuman dictator? Luthor realizes this and in a sucker-punch ending takes down Superman by writing him a one-sentence letter. In the real world it isn’t as easy to define good and evil as it is in comic books. There are no megalomaniac super-villains, no superheroes, all we have are our beliefs and ideals. Superman and Lex Luthor clash because they fear each other. By injecting a political element into their relationship Millar heightens their conflict ten fold. What makes Red Son so fascinating is that Superman doesn’t win in the end. Lex Luthor lives happily ever after, he even gets Superman’s girl. Perhaps Millar finds villains more compelling and relatable characters? His Wanted series would suggest so.

At its heart Red Son is the biggest, most expensive and epic Cold War movie never made. The best comparison I could make is to say it is to Superman what Dark Knight Returns was to Batman. It’s a deconstruction of Superman and his world, though Millar takes the character out of his normal environment to do it. The only problem with Red Son is that it came 20 years too late. The story is relevant today but would’ve been even more so in the Watchmen era of comics. I really believe Superman: Red Son is that good. Hopefully 20 years from now people will talk about this story the way they do about Watchmen (aahhh ... Encik Alan Moore, kembalilah kau ke persada komik).

Superman: Secret Identity

I will go on record now and say that Kurt Busiek’s Superman: Secret Identity is my favourite Superman story; apart from the 'Smallville' season series on TV3 (... and I'm no fan of Kurt Busiek writing as well) . The pitch is this: Clark Kent grows up in Picketsville, Kansas. Superman is a fictional character. He’s mocked for sharing his name with the world’s most recognised superhero. Then, adolescence strikes, and he discovers he has Superman’s powers. This concept didn’t thrill me much when I first heard about it. I felt it would tread similar ground to Astro City, only with Superman instead of Samaritan as the protagonist.

Secret Identity captures exactly what I was saying in one of my previous columns. Busiek turns the average man’s life into a mythical story. The four issues cover Superman as a teenager, as a young man, as a father, and finishes with him in old age. The feeling I got after I’d read these comics is something I have never felt when reading a comic before. It’s the kind of feeling you have when you see a movie that is so heart-warming you can’t help but feel moved by it. Like Millar, Busiek is a great writer; this story done by someone else could have been overly sentimental and instantly forgettable.

It’s grounded in reality yet has all the grandeur, spectacle and whimsy of regular Superman stories. Stuart Immonen’s painted art really elevates the book for me. Taking away the art would be like taking away Williams’ score from Superman: The Movie. Immonen’s Superman isn’t a steroid freak. He’s a normal, well-built guy in a Superman outfit. He’s the perfect look for the next movie Superman. There’s some wonderful single and double page spreads. My favourite being when Superman is stood on the moon looking down at Earth. When Immonen’s Superman is in flight you really believe you are there with him. This mini-series is essential reading for the makers of the new Superman movie. I sincerely hope Bryan Singer, McG, M.Night Shyamalan, Jerry Bruckheimer, James Cameron(he's the original director for a Spiderman movie back in 1997,after he's done with Titanic) or even Peter Jackson will read this.

Superman never encounters Lex Luthor, Lois Lane (though Clark does marry a Lois) or Jimmy Olsen. In this story they don’t exist. There’s even a complete absence of villains. The bad guys are the U.S. Government who are trying to track down Superman. They want to know why he can do the things he can do and view him as a possible threat. Superman forges an agreement with Federal Agent Malloy, he’ll help them if they leave him alone and give him privacy. While Red Son never tackles issues of identity, Busiek’s story does. Clark goes to great lengths to keep his identity secret in order to protect his wife and two daughters. The last person you’d suspect is a best-selling writer called Clark Kent! Too obvious!

As the years pass more super powered beings appear. Of course, in a nice nod comic book history, this real-world Superman is the first. We never find out where his powers come from, and it doesn’t matter. The story is so engrossing that to find out why would spoil it. I wouldn’t ever be able to say that Red Son or Secret Identity are the definitive Superman stories, since I’d class them as Elseworlds. My belief is that Superman: The Movie was, and is, the definitive Superman. It’s a shame that creators have to step outside the regular mythology to create great stories. I’m sure that is down to DC more than anything.

Superman may not be cool or hip. He may need small changes in order to survive longer. But how many heroes have had two stories as great as Superman: Red Son and Superman: Secret Identity in the past year? Batman? No. Spider-Man? Not a chance. I think Superman has a safe future in comic book form.

p/s : wishing that there will be a super-power in me to be battle 'the never-ending-battle-in-me'

Jumaat, September 03, 2004

( more news from the world of fanboy! )
... here are a few rumours and facts that i gathered concerning the much awaited X-men 3 (X3) flick; which is in rapid development.
1. Joss Whedon (Buffy:the vampire slayer) is interested in directing X3! He has gone on record saying that he would love to tackle the project, after Bryan Singer decided to leave. Whedon is currently writing an X-MEN comic series!
2. Halle Berry has confirmed that she won't be doing X3! She stated that she wanted more screentime and more money, but the studio would not follow through. Christina Milian will now fill the vacant role.
3. As of now, Bryan Singer won't be directing X3. He signed a contract with Warner Bros to develop and direct SUPERMAN. This went against the deal he had with Fox Studios for film developments, including X3.
4. Famke 'Jean' Janssen is already contracted for X3! To ensure that she would be back as Phoenix in X3, the actress made sure to sign on!
5. Rob Bowman (Elektra) has also been on board to direct X3! He will begin development work shortly after he finished shooting Elektra in Vancouver!
6. The partially built Danger Room set is still in Vancouver, awaiting completion according to X2 production designer.
7. The producers would like Colin Farrell to play Gambit, and apparently he was seen holding an X-Men comic book years ago!( what??? seingat aku Gambit tu French --- bukan Irish!!? )
8. Singer, Jessica Simpson has will star as Dazzler in X3 and in her own spin-off film! Producers met with the singer and were very impressed with her screentest!
9. Gambit & Beast were in Bryan Singer's X3 treatment! Though there roles in the story were kept quiet, we do know that Gambit's role was greater than Beasts. With a new director, everything could change though.

Rabu, September 01, 2004

Could it be that after years of rumors, several directors, tons of money, betting contests and fanboy fights, the new Superman has finally been chosen? Is it really possible? Well, comic writer Mark Millar definitely seems to think so. Over on his official site he writes "…my same good buddy has informed me that, as of last Thursday night, Mister Jim Caviezel is officially the new man of steel and what a perfect choice he is. Expect an announcement shortly. Also, this Superman Returns thing was just for the press release. The movie itself is called SUPERMAN (Reeve's was called SUPERMAN THE MOVIE) and it's starting everything from scratch. Brainiac. Krypton. Robots. Alien super-cities…" Caviezel's name has been thrown about before as a possible candidate for the Man of Steel and he did say that he would "love to do it". Further, Bryan Singer seemed to be pretty adamant about getting Supes flying as soon as possible. Hopefully, an official announcement on casting will be made soon so that I can have less bruises and not have to down as much headache on long debate i had with fanboys over the years.
Thank You.
p/s: please respond.

31 Ogos,2004.

di ambang detik 12 tengah malam :

- duduk di depan tembok rumah bersama 2 orang sahabat sambil menanti 3 lagi yang bakal menyusul ( diri tidak sabar-sabar untuk menanti hari esok )

12 tengah malam :

- melihat beberapa ledakan mercun dan bunga api dari kejauhan yang bagai dicabar-cabar yang lain; langsung selepas selesai melihat gempita langit menuju ke Shah Alam untuk santaian minuman. Bersembang sambil berbual tentang perihal esok iaitu hari ini mengikut perkiraan sebenar. ( hati cukup tidak tenteram dan gelisah menanti dinihari )

2.00 pagi :

- pulang ke rumah dan cuba mendapatkan tidur dan istirehat buat esok (dendam mata pada badan tiada kesudahan : digauli dengan rasa tidak tentuan)

7.00 pagi :

- bangkit dari lena dengan semangat luarbiasa ( hampir tiba waktu!)

11.30 pagi :

- tersadai di panggung ( sudah sedia )

11.45 pagi :

- 5 minit lagi ( debar rasa semakin menggila! )
11.50 pagi :


( antara 2 jam 30 minit paling bermakna dan bererti
di dalam panggung buat diri )

Pulang ke rumah sambil tenung dan renung dalam-dalam ke arah nanti.
Sejarah sudah bermula dan sedang tercipta!

p/s : maaf . saya tidak layak untuk melakukan ‘review’ tentang dasar filem tersebut. Harus kalian tonton sendiri untuk rasakan gelodak kesan sebenar . Semangat yang sungguh luar-kebiasaan.
( layari untuk pencalonan 'Puteri Gunung Ledang sebagai wakil Malysia ke '61st Venice International Film Festival' di Itali. )

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