How Long I Have Been Married

Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ASTRO Fee Hike : Unsubscribe Or Just Pay Up and Shut Up

Wow, I think this is the longest time I didn't post anything new in my blog. 13 days to be exact. Two reasons actually :

1. I was buried with work, hehehe (still am)

2. Internet connection (or server?) at my office was really slow for the past two weeks or so, preventing me to even log in to to update my blog

Anyway, now that the Internet connection is up and running again as it should be, I thought I had better take advantage of the situation (before the server becomes slow again - it always happens here in this great multinational because the ICT company engaged to maintain all computer related matters are doing a lousy job) and post something new in my blog.

And thanks to all of you who still find time to visit despite nothing new being posted. Appreciate it.

Anyway, today, yet another letter from another disgruntled Astro subscriber published in the New Straits Times. This time, it's Mr. Azmi Atan of Petaling Jaya. He feels that it was time for the government to issue more satellite TV licences to other companies, in light of recent unilateral moves by Astro to expand its revenue. (For international readers, Astro is the sole satellite television service provider who has enjoyed a monopoloy in Malaysia for more than 10 years now. It had a potential rival in the form of MiTV a couple of years ago but easily whacked the pathetic upstart which is now as good as dead eventhough it's still around). Back to the issue, Astro created another controversy a few weeks ago by announcing that it would increase its monthly subscription rate between RM5 to RM15, depending on the existing packages subscribed by its more than one million customers. Of course, being typical Malaysians, majority of Astro subscribed sweared and curse the satellite tv provider and hurled all sorts of accusation, claiming Astro to be the mother of all bloodsuckers and short-changing them by adding new channels which they don't even need.

Yeah, yeah, we have every right to complain and fight for our consumer rights. But then again, what choice do we have? What possible good would giving out more licences to operate a satellite tv service do to Malaysian viewers? The government already gave that opportunity to MiTV which may I remind you, is back by another strong tycoon - Mr. Vincent Tan and his Berjaya group. (Astro is owned by Malaysia's richest man - T. Ananda Krishan). But look what happened to MiTV. It's already dead but they decided to keep the body to rott until a proper funeral could be arranged, so to speak. In a nuthshell, MiTV got whacked big time by Astro due to poor marketing strategies and poor choice of channels being offered. So, come to think of it again, Astro must be doing something right, kan? Why didn't people like Azmi Atan shifted allegiance to MiTV back then? No one forced us to subscribe to Astro. It's all in our hands.

So far, I have no problems with Astro. I pay my Astro bill on time so that I can be assured of uninterrupted service. In fact, I have two Astro decoders - one for my viewing pleasure with my wife, and one for my kids to watch their Disney Channel. No complaints at all because as of now, Astro is the only source of multiple entertainment which the existing 9 terrestrial tv stations could not offer or match. I want my HBO, my Star Movies, my AXN and my ESPN. My wife wants her Astro Ria, E! and StarWorld. My kids want their Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney. And for 6 years, Astro has delivered to our expectations, since we first subscribed in January 2001. I can still remember because the Astro subscription was part of a package offered by EON when I bought my first car - the Proton Wira.

To Azmi Atan and all other whining Astro subscribers - just de-subscribe if you don't want to pay the additional RM5 to RM15. Otherwise, just pay up and shut up. The choice is yours....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Just Live With It, Malaysian MU Fans

Kecoh la peminat-peminat Manchester United (MU) kat Malaysia ni. I don't understand why MU fans are so angry and dissapointed that their beloved English Premier League (EPL) club is not coming to Malaysia for their Asian Summer Tour. Sampaikan Khairy Jamaluddin pun sibuk nak bercakap jugak.

For the benefit of those clueless about this, MU fans in Malaysia voiced anger and dissapointment yesterday after a tour match featuring the newly crowned EPL champions was cancelled. All because the Football Association of Malaysian (FAM) has to to kow tow to the wishes of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for MU to either cancel or delay their Malaysian visit to ensure that prominence would be given to the less glamourous Asian Cup which would also be held during the time MU is scheduled to play a Malaysian selection side on 27 July. AFC's reason was they feared that less people would watch the Asian Cup and opt for the star-studded MU match. Hahaha. Personally, I don't give a shit. Number one because I'm not an Asian football fan. Number two, I'm an Arsenal fan. Hah!

So, to MU fans out there including Khairy Jamaluddin, tough luck. Just live with it. You guys should be worried about the 07/08 EPL season because The Gunners will be much stronger than before. Go Arsenal and go all London clubs - Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs, Westham United and Fulham. Touche'!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Price Of Overdoing It

The lovely Miss Zara Salim Davidson, soon to be Raja Puan Besar Perak. This picture was officially released by the palace. Have to tell you, this is definitely a much, much better picture than the one published by Utusan and Kosmo yesterday.

Why am I not suprised? I guess everyone especially those in the media fraternity saw it coming. I bet even Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo! newspaper saw it coming, them being the culprit of this mess. Aku dah agak dah. I'm talking about Utusan Malaysia's and Kosmo!'s bold move to jump the gun and reveal the identity of Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah's bride-to-be, Miss Zara Salim Davidson, complete with an undated photo on the front pages of both paper's edition yesterday. This, despite the request from the Sultan of Perak's office for all media to wait for official statements from the palace which would be released in stages. And of course, the palace is very upset now with Utusan and Kosmo. Isk, isk, shame on you Utusan and Kosmo for sidelining protocol.
I know the real intention of Utusan and Kosmo actually. It's all because of circulation and readership. In their quest to beat their rivals - Berita Harian and Harian Metro respectively, they over did it. All newspapers, including the English ones - New Straits Times, The Star and The Sun, respected the palace's request by not mentioning Zara's name and not publishing any picture. In the first place, I wonder where on earth Utusan and Kosmo obtained Zara's picture which was obviously taken in the 1980s or early 1990s. You can tell by the Julia Rais hairstyle and make-up.
Anyway, I doubt it if Utusan and Kosmo would be penalised for this. They usually get away with it. Besides, the palace knows that they need Utusan's and Kosmo's support for future publicity of the Perak royal family. In a way, I guess Utusan's and Kosmo's gamble will pay off. To the editors there, to get a shelling from the palace is such a small price to pay for the highest circulation and readership yesterday. Obviously, Utusan and Kosmo were selling like hotcakes at the newstands nationwide yesterday because of Zara's front page picture. I totally understand the move made by the papers' editors because I was also a former journalist. Sensationalization of news definitely sells. Now that is something palace officials will never, never understand.
Oh by the way, I have some minor corrections to make regarding Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah's and Zara Davidson's profile. Raja Nazrin was actually born in Penang. Thanks to my friend Realnews for pointing that out. And Zara is not a lawyer, she's a chemical engineer. Hehe. Ampuan tuanku beribu-ribu ampun, sembah patik harap diampun. And I guess I was also wrong when I said that both of them knew each other during their PETRONAS days. That is highly unlikely because Raja Nazrin was in PETRONAS during the early 80s while Zara only joined the national oil company in 1995. Again, apologies to Tuanku and Miss Zara.
Whatever it is, Zara also has an impressive CV. Top of her class at Nottingham University, former Perak state swimmer and top-notch executive at PETRONAS who was part of the team responsible for setting up the national oil company's Kertih and Kuantan integrated petrochemical complexes. She left PETRONAS in 2001 to join Formis before seting up her own oil and gas exploration consultancy company.
To my friends at Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo, please be more careful and tactful in your subsequent stories about Raja Nazrin's and Zara's wedding. The Perak royal family deserves some form of respect from all of us, okay? No point in trying to scoop one another. There's plenty of meat to chew for everyone in the Malaysian media fraternity.
Daulat Tuanku!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Selamat Pengatin Baru, Tuanku!

Finally, one of the country's most eligible bachelors will call it a day for his single life. The Raja Muda of Perak (Crown Prince of the state of Perak), Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, will tie the knot with the lady of his choice - Miss Zara Davidson of English-Malay parentage.
Alhamdulillah. It seems the prayers of the people of Perak and many Malaysians too (I suspect) has been answered. You see, Raja Nazrin is not getting any younger. He's already 50 years old. I'm not suprised if some of his peers are already playing with several grandchildren. But I have to admit, he's good looking with that sought after boyish disposition (like me, chewah, hahahah). But seriously, Raja Nazrin is a handsome man. He's got the package - handsome, articulate, debonair, gentlemen, highly educated and affluent, of course. And to be honest, I am proud of him because I come from the state of Perak. Well, my parents to be exact. I was born and bred in Kuala Lumpur. Well what d'ya know? Raja Nazrin was also born in Kuala Lumpur. And we also went to the same school for our early education, at St. John's Institution, Bukit Nanas. Hehehe.

I've always liked the Perak royal family. From the father, Sultan Azlan Shah (the current Sultan of Perak), to the mother, Tuanku Bainun, (the current Raja Permaisuri of Perak) and his siblings - the beautiful Raja Azureen (I named my youngest daughter after her), Raja Ashman Shah, Raja Eleena (another babe) and Raja Yong Sofia. All of them are like their father - highly educated and all of them qualified lawyers except for Raja Nazrin who is a qualified economist. Their mother, Tuanku Bainun, is a graduate educator who was part of the first batch of Malaysians sent to the prestigious Kirkby College for Teachers in England way back in the 1950s. Like I said, a really, really articulate and highly educated bunch. Oh, I forgot to mention, their father, Sultan Azlan Shah, was Malaysia's Lord President (now called Chief Justice) before he relinquished the post to become the Raja Muda of Perak in 1984 and on to become the Sultan of Perak a few months later when his predecessor, Sultan Idris Shah passed away suddenly. Sultan Azlan Shah still holds the record (in the Guiness Book of Records) as the world's highest educated monarch. Cool, kan?

Anyway, back to Raja Nazrin's wedding, I'm sure it's going to be a gala event. It doesn't matter if he's already 50 years old. I'm hoping that his wedding would even top the so-called Wedding Of The Decade of the country's pop sensation, Siti Nurhaliza with Datuk K. In fact, it should be. Raja Nazrin deserves a grand wedding because he's not only first in line to the Perak throne but also because he's sort of a celebrity too. He is the most quoted royalty by the Malaysian media mainly because he's able to give out intelligent comments on many current issues.

As for his bride, Miss Zara Davidson, all I know is that she is half English and half Malay (her mother is a member of the Kedah royal family). She's also a practising lawyer and a former PETRONAS executive. Rumour has it that Raja Nazrin and Zara has known each other during their PETRONAS days. (Raja Nazrin was also a PETRONAS executive in the early 80s).

Well, whatever it is, Selamat Pengantin Baru to Raja Nazrin and Miss Zara. Daulat Tuanku!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

When Spidey Turned To The Dark Side....

Spiderman Contemplating His Future In The Dark Suit : Your Friendly Neighbourhood Or Your Evil Neighbourhood?

I must say I'm proud to be among the first 300 or so Malaysians to catch the premiere of the highly anticipated Spiderman 3 when it opened on Labour Day (1 May). In fact, Malaysians got to watch "Your Friendly Neighbourhoodliness" 4 days before it actually opened in the United States. Wow, Malaysia Boleh!

Anyway, I was lucky to get tickets - on the first show actually, 10.45 am!! I bought the ticket on Sunday, 29th April after jogging at KLCC Park. On the off-chance of getting a ticket, I made my way to TGV Cinema at Level 3 of Suria KLCC and was delighted to see that the cineplex opened a dedicated counter for Spiderman 3 advanced bookings. And even more delighted to discover there were only two more tickets left for the 10.45 am matinee on May 1. But since both seats were worlds apart, I decided to just buy one, seat H23 which was a really good seat - 8 rows from the screen, right at the very end of the left side of Cineplex 5. Besides, my wife already told me that she didn't mind me watching it alone because nowadays, she preferred to stay home with the girls on a public holiday. Hehehe.

Anyway, I must say, it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time. Well worth the wait. And I thought the first two was good. This one is even better. Best! Two thumbs up!

Here's how the story goes (sourced from Wikipedia, various other Spidey websites and of course, through my own knowledge and observation) :

After finally being able to find a balance between being Spider-Man, and spending time with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) begins to feel secure in his life. However, he is soon attacked by a vengeful Harry Osborn (James Franco), who has powered himself up with his late father's creation, Oscorp's "Human-Performance Enhancer" gas and becomes the New Goblin with hi-tech weaponry and a powerful surfboard-like glider known as Sky-Stick for the purpose of destroying Peter. A clash in the heart of Manhanttan, New York City between the two former friends leaves Harry with short-term amnesia, and he no longer feels anger towards Peter.

One night, a tiny meteor crash-lands in a park (I think Central Park, where else) where Peter and Mary Jane are on a date. Unknown to Peter, the meteor contains a black, alien symbiote, which hitches a ride home with Peter on his motorcycle, and eventually bonds with his Spider-Man costume at night, when he is asleep. After the bonding, Peter finds his costume has changed; it is now black in colour, and has augmented and enhanced his previous spider-powers.

Meanwhile, Captain George Stacy (James Cromwell) of the New York Police Department (NYPD) informs Peter and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) that the man who was apprehended on the night of the shooting of Ben Parker (Cliff Robertson) was not his real killer; instead, an investigation revealed that he was merely an accomplice of Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), an escaped convict from Riker's Island prison. The NYPD pursue Marko, and Marko accidentally falls into a physics particle accelerator filled with sand, which molecularly bonds to his body and turns him into the Sandman.

Meanwhile, the black suit starts bringing out Spider-Man's more violent and vengeful side, and he seemingly kills Marko after a battle in a disused New York subway tunnel by turning Marko into mud (by flooding him with water) and allowing him to wash into the sewer system. The darker side of the suit begins to transform Peter's personality as well, causing him to expose a new photographer at the Daily Bugle, Eddie Brock, Jr. (Topher Grace, of That 70's Show fame), as a fraud, while stealing his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), who happens to be Captain Stacy's daughter. His behavior causes him to push Mary Jane away, and she finds solace in Harry Osborn. However, Harry soon recovers from his amnesia and lures Peter into his mansion to kill him. Peter defeats Harry and throws a pumpkin bomb back at him; the explosion scars Harry badly on one side of his face.

Peter tries to humiliate Mary Jane by openly dating Gwen Stacy in front of her. However, Peter accidentally assaults Mary Jane during a brief struggle at a jazz club. Completely ashamed of his recent actions, Peter goes to a church tower and rips the black suit off; as the symbiote is sensitive to noise, the ringing of the church bell agitates it and causes it to weaken. Coincidentally, a humiliated Brock goes to the same church and prays for God to smite Peter Parker, before overhearing the churchbell ringing. Entering the belltower to investigate, Eddie sees an unmasked Spider-Man, whom he's shocked to realize is Peter Parker. Some of the symbiote falls from the tower and lands on Brock, and upon sensing his hatred of Parker, it envelopes him wholly, forming
Venom, another villain of Spiderman. Venom approaches the Sandman and claims that the two are united by a common desire to destroy Spider-Man and the latter agrees to help him.

Venom and Sandman kidnap Mary Jane and dangle her 80 stories above the New York streets at a construction site. Peter approaches Harry for help, saying he cannot fight both villains at once, but Harry refuses. Spider-Man arrives on the scene and is brutally beaten by the Sandman until Harry, who has just learned that his father did indeed die by his own hands, flies to Peter and Mary Jane's aid as the New Goblin. Peter rescues Mary Jane, and he and Harry battle Venom and the Sandman together. As the fight progresses, Venom grabs hold of Harry's glider and throws it at Peter; Harry jumps in front of Peter and the glider impales him instead.

Peter attempts to free Eddie of the black symbiote, clanging pipes together to weaken it. However, Eddie has grown too attached to the power the symbiote provides, and attempts to save the symbiote just as Peter throws a pumpkin bomb at it; Eddie dies in the explosion. However the symbiote does not die this way, instead it begins growing rapidly from the remains of Eddie's body. Here it begins forming around the construction site untill the hostless Venom creature attempts to re bond itself to Peter. Here Spider-Man kills it once and for all. Sandman tells Peter that he had no intention of killing Ben Parker that fateful night, but that it was an accident caused by fear and desperation. Peter forgives Flint, and the Sandman disappears. Harry does not survive his wounds and dies with Mary Jane and Peter by his side. Peter and Mary Jane revive their relationship, after attending their friend's funeral.

Begitulah ceritanya. It's quite sad actually because Harry had to die just when he was about to be friends again with Peter. Anyway, the special effects in Spidey 3 is so cool, I guess it's a natural progression from the first two instalments. And Spidey actually has to take on 3 villains this time around - New Goblin, Sandman and Venom. A lot of people actually confuses Venom as the bad Spiderman, mainly because he looks a lot like Spiderman. Only difference is that he has a more menacing look in the form of a really big mouth lined with sharp fangs. But don't be confused - Venom is totally another person and not Spiderman's dark side.

As for Sandman, he is actually an old villain of Spidey. He has been around in the Marvel comicbook universe, especially in the Amazing Spiderman comics since September 1963. Venom is a much newer villain, only introduced by Stan Lee in 1988. And as for the new Goblin, he's actually a progression from his late father, Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin, Spidey's sworn arch-villain.

As for Peter Parker and Mary Jane's relationship, one can only guess the direction. I wonder whether they'll actually get married or not. The thing is, Spidey's creator, Stan Lee and director, Sam Raimi themselves are not even sure if they want to do Spiderman 4 and Lee has made it clear that if there was to be a fourth instalment, he would still want Tobey and Kirsten to be in it. Well, I guess that goes without saying lah, kan? Tak kan le Harun Salim Bachik pulak nak jadi Spiderman, kan? We'll see.....