Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bilik No. 13 - the series

Guess it's time for me to plug my TV series - Bilik No. 13. Its now in its fourth week already. Today's episode was the final part of the duyong legend (not one of my personal favourite episodes). The TV series also mark the directorial debut of my son Abadi who directed a few of the episodes and most of the links. Its on every Thursday night at 9pm Malaysian time on Tv2. For overseas viewers you can catch the series online on this website ( - it has the best TV2 live streaming. For those not familiar with Bahasa Malaysia, there's English subtitles. For those who are interested, my favourite episodes include the ones about mutant leeches, a deadly mist, a wayward hand, a kampung couple with an interesting secret and an old kebaya. A funny episode - catch the one about the doll (my nod to Chucky - kampung style).
For those who expected this series to be pure horror - please note that its not a horror series per se. It is an ode to One Step Beyond and the Twilight Zone - a series that cover the fantastic, sci-fiction and some paranormal stuff. Catch it. Comments are more than welcomed. Below is the promo trailer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Two of my sons are quite ‘addicted’ to PSP and PS3. Not only that they are into online PC games. Me? I don’t understand them. Maybe Donkey Kong I can relate to or Galaxian and Pong. But Civilization, Black and White and those other confusing computer games have left me cold. I can hardly survive level one in most games. However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel – Wii. Okay okay this is not a paid commercial for Wii Nintendo okay…but I do enjoy playing golf or tennis or even bowling on this new console. Try it you over 40 guys – you might find it quite interesting.
Anyway, I’m not really going to talk about the current state of PC and handheld games but rather what I used to do when I was a kid – the days before PC Games, before Donkey Kong and Pong. It’s the time I refer to as YBS (Years Before Sega).
In school, during school breaks or recess, the macho guys would rush down to the field for a ballsy game called Chopping. It’s really a simple game, you run around trying to grab a single tennis or rubber ball and hit the nearest guy to you – that’s it. And trust me – size matters because those big guys can really slug a ball into you back. The problem with this game is that the teachers thought it was violent – duhhhh! Of course it was – but it was great therapy for the students – a way to channel their fury, anger and stress at another student with a ball. Of course in the end it was banned. Most other variations of chopping (any game revolving around the use of a ball thrown at another person) were also banned.
For the girls, whilst the guy whacked themselves, they would be sitting in a circle under a tree shade playing either five stones (batu seremban or serembat) or biji saga. Five stones is actually an internationally recognized game but I guess the locals had their own versions using pyramid-shaped dried green bean-filled ‘stones’) made from cloth. I remember seeing the rapid firing hands of so-called ‘professionals’. These are the girls who could talk and chat whilst playing the stones like second nature.
The biji saga is another simple game – the object would be to win the most number of saga beans. To win the beans, you make an imaginary line between two red beans to announce that those two beans are the ones you want to clash. Clashing the beans mean the use on one finger to flick the designated beans together. If you miss you lose your turn. If you succeed in clashing the two beans, you pick it up.
The are other outdoor games school kids used to play – the popular ones would be main galah, police and thief and a stupid game called AEIOU (see the video below I found on youtube).

I’m not sure school kids play these games anymore, but if I were the Education Ministry – I would promote the revival of these games. Enough of electronic games – they cost money. Traditional games are more interactive and physical and more fun.
Even during those times, the city kids and the kampung kids differed in how they pass their free time. I remember well the time we used to raise spiders and fight them. This crazy pastime can be quite obsessive. One has to look for good fighting spiders in bushes, keep it in a small matchbox lined with fresh leaves and you actually feed the spider with spit. Hehehe..crazy.

The video above is about Filipino kids doing the same thing I did except with bigger matchboxes. This particular memory I relived in a telemovie I did two years ago for Hari Raya called Selamat Hari Raya Koiishi Ku. It showed kids playing with spiders during the Second World War. I had trouble trying to teach the young actors to overcome their fear of handling spiders.
Another weird practice (not a game) I remember during school days was of girls who reared peacock feathers in between their book pages. I hope readers who remember all this can assist me in understanding why they did this. The feather is pressed in between book pages and fed (yes! Fed!) with pencil sharpenings. Geee…maybe PSP isn’t bad after all….heheheh.
Just one more game I remember - maybe this game is played only by Singapore school kids - its called Kutikuti - the game entails using little coloured plastic animals (see picture below). One has to flick the plastic animal so that it lands on another. This causes you to win that piece. Anyone else remember this game?
Anyway, if you guys out there remember any other games (like gasing, throwing slippers at stacks of Ultraman cards etc) from your school days, do write in. At least our kids will know that there are other things to do apart from playing PSPs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Yaya

Today my youngest son Adi Iliya turned 15. Happy Birthday Yaya. We didn't have much plans tonight so we just went to have dinner at Jake's Steak. As a treat he ordered a wagyu steak (RM180 a pop!) but he enjoyed it tremendously.
Tomorrow, he will be celebrating with his friends at the new Signature Cineplex at the Gardens, Midvalley City. They're gonna catch a show at 2.30pm - all 20 of them. Anyway, hope he enjoys his day. Have fun Yaya!
Also on this day, another friend celebrates her birthday - so....Happy Birthday Anis. A little song for both of you on this auspicious day.

Stevie Wonder - Happy Birthday

[via FoxyTunes / Stevie Wonder]

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

BeatBox Valentine

I know Valentine's Day is still a month away, but heck I just wanted to post this video I found on youtube. It's one of the finalists of the popular America's Got Talent show - her name is Antoinette Butterscotch that's a mouthful. She's the World Beatbox Champion okayyyy...and she decided to show her skills on this talent show. She got into the finals but it's her performance in Round 5 of the show that rocked the music world - you just got to see her perform her rendition of My Funny Valentine - serious!!!! (Listen carefully - it's just her, the piano and her vocal chords)

Monday, January 14, 2008

PARIT SULONG - My kampung

Kampung life for my family was a little town called Parit Sulong. It was where my father was born on August 6, 1926. This little kampung was amongst the many kampungs around the Batu Pahat and Muar area, with the word Parit attached to it. This is because in the 'old days' (well old meaning up til the late 60s), the villages were interconnected with parits - canals (small ones) - and the canals or parits were big enough for us to swim in, catch fish and do our washing. I remember as a little kid being quite terrified of the parit in front of the family kampung home. The water was murky and dark, with all sorts of vegetation protruding. Most of the villagers built a verandah or even a gazebo-like structure by the parit where they would sit for hours during the afternoons having the tea and kuih. Some would take out their joran and fish for ikan sembilang (catfish).
Parit Sulong was also famous for its pineapple estates. Even til the seventies, if you had taken a drive to the area, you would see pineapple estates that stretch into the horizon. Today, like most other states, Parit Sulong is covered by oil palm estates and abandoned real estate developments. Hardly a trace of the pineapple estates can be seen today.
For some war buffs, the name Parit Sulong may sound familiar. This is because in the
annals of history, Parit Sulong has also made its mark. The bridge at Parit Sulong (pictured above but has since been demolished and replaced in 1994) was the last bastion of British defence in Malaya during the early days of the second world war before the British fled to Singapore and later surrendered. The battle of Parit Sulong has been recorded as one of the most tragic and most infamous in the early beginnings of the Pacific war .
In fact, many books has been written about the infamous Parit Sulong massacre of Australian, British and Indian soldiers under the sword of the Japanese army on the 22nd of January, 1942. According to my father, who witnessed the aftermath (depicted above in vivid oil painting is the siege of Parit Sulong as visualised by Murray Griffin - painted in 1943), the river under the bridge turned red with the blood of the massacred. Headless bodies of Australian soldiers, with their hands tied behind their backs, were seen floating down the Parit Sulong river by the dozens. Some of the murdered, according to my father, had been brutally burnt by the Japanese before they headed down south to lay siege on Singapore. (The above black and white photos were of the various battles that occurred just prior to the massacre. The photos were taken by a friend of one Sergeant Charles Parsons near the town of Bakri, not far from Parit Sulong). During that incident, my father was around 16 years old. He wrote of this incident in his autobiography Warisan dan Wawasan published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. The book should be on sale this month (January 2008).
Today, Parit Sulong isn't much of a bustling town. Due to the North South Highway, the town is by-passed by the northbound and southbound traffic. The old Radin cinema which hold many memories for my father, and one particularly fond memory by myself as related earlier in my blog, still stands. But today, it is a furniture hall (picture below) - its name covered partially by the new signage hoarding.
The old kampung house where we used to stay in was located behind the Parit Sulong polyclinic grounds. The house has since gone - burnt to the ground in a fire in the mid 80s.
Many things have changed - but my father's old school still stands. As the old JKR quarters (pictured below), which, according to my father, used to house the wounded Australians before they were massacred in 1942.
Only my auntie, Mak Ning, lives in Parit Sulong now, alone with her granddaughter. Her children - two sons and a daughter are now living elsewhere. Another auntie of mine, my father's youngest sister, Mak Busu, now lives in Singapore with her family. Another auntie, Mak Itam, lives in Sungei Siput, in Melaka, with her family. On the first day of 2008, on my way back from Singapore, I stopped by to say hello. (Below is a picture taken on that trip - myself, Mak Ning and Puteh ). It was also one of the rare trips to the kampung for my own kids. I'm sure they enjoyed the trip there to their grandfather's kampung. At least now they can appreciate the history of Parit Sulong a little bit more.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Remember the good old days when we can't afford to go to discos (Time Tunnel, Glass Bubble, The Hobbit, The Cave and Tin Mine), but instead held house parties? Sure you do. It's the party where you hope the girl of your dreams would turn up and you'd smile to her and hope she'd smile back. At the beginning of the party the girls were on one side and the guys on the other side - and everybody was waiting for the slow music session (argghhh Stylistics!!!). I remember the late Usman Awang's son Iskandar making quite a lot of pocket money, carrying around his make-shift disco machine from party to party each weekend. The machine was powered by car batteries.
There were many girls that I'd hope would be around at the parties - they include Nur, Jah, Nora, Anis, Ruth, Su, Umi, Atun, Linda, Elita, Emma, Oda dan one particular girl that me and my friends referred to as BAF (because her parents car number begins with BAF) - it was a mini I think and she stays in Kampung Tunku. Of course I know her name - its Jaz. I wonder where she is now.
Me and my posse - Nabir, Amer, Amir, Fauzy, Iqbal, Nasir, Thamiz - would attend these parties whenever we'd get invited (not often). Usually driving in either Amer's old volkswagen or my Dad's Opel. Wearing bell bottoms, two inch wide belts, platform shoes, sideburns, Travolta collars, Amco and Texwood jeans - trying to look cool. Either that or end up looking like Jinjang Joes of the 70s. (Baycity Roller kakis Yechhhhh!)
What was memorable about those days was the music. Yes. The music of the 70s. It's Disco!!!
Below are some of the most and the best during those years. Enjoy!

WAR - Cisco Kid (Don't you guys feel silly doing the funky chicken?)

[via FoxyTunes / War]

THE STYLISTICS - Medley (Ahhhh no house party is complete without these guys!!)

[via FoxyTunes / The Stylistics]

OHIO PLAYERS - Fire (Where are the bands with horn sections these days ah?)

[via FoxyTunes / Ohio Players]

VAN MCCOY - Do The Hustle (I just can't do the hustle!!!)

[via FoxyTunes / Van McCoy]

COMMODORES - Still (A lot of young couples' 'our song' lah this one)

[via FoxyTunes / Commodores]

EARTH,WIND & FIRE - Fantasy (What can I say??? EWF!!!!)

[via FoxyTunes / Earth, Wind & Fire]

By the way, we weren't just into Disco in the late 70's you know. We love great rock and roll - and these four numbers are amongst my favourites.

DEEP PURPLE - Smoke on the Water (Hands up those guys who tried to play the opening riff of this great number on their Kapok guitar?)

[via FoxyTunes / Deep Purple]

Bad Company - Ready For Love (I love this song)

[via FoxyTunes / Bad Company

LED ZEPPELIN - Black Dog (Head banging at its best! And without Ecstasy)

[via FoxyTunes / Led Zeppelin]

BLACK SABBATH - Paranoid (We enjoyed metal too guys!)

[via FoxyTunes / Black Sabbath]

Hope these music and videos brought you back down memory lane.

You've Got A Friend

Let's start off the new year with a beautiful old classic - You've Got A Friend - originally recorded by James Taylor - but this version is by a really funky new group from UK called The Brand New Heavies - currently one of my favourite jazz groups. I dedicate this song to all my friends, my true friends who are out there - who knows who I am and what I am to them. As long as I am around, you guys, you've got a friend.

Let the good times roll for 2008

The Brand New Heavies - You've Got A Friend

[via FoxyTunes / The Brand New Heavies]

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


We welcome in another new year. 2008. Goodbye 2007! A good year with some hiccups,but a good year nevertheless. The family went down to Johor Bahru to spend the new year in Singapore. We stayed in a villa in Tanjung Putri Resort in Pasir Gudang not realising that it is about 40kms from the causeway. It's also 65kms from the 2nd Link. So our trips to Singapore lasted about 2hrs each journey!!!
Come new year's eve, we decided to join the big crowd in Clarke Quay, and after some problems looking for carpark space, we joined in the revelry with thousands of others. The kids decided to welcome the new whilst trying out the new thrill ride called GMax Swing. They had already tried the old slingshot GMax and was thrilled to find the new ride awaiting them. Their ride was seconds before the dawn of the new year - with massive fireworks coloring the dark skies behind them at the midnight. Below is a pic of the kids after their joyride into the new year at Clarke Quay (from left - Abadi, Iliya, Diandra (my brother's youngest daughter), Adylla and Nurhadi).
I'll also remember 2007 as the year i lost friends and acquaintances - Uncle Hussin Abu Hassan and golf kaki Bal Bahadur.
I'll also remember 2007 as the year Benazir was murdered. It seems anti-Islam strategists are winning the war in destabilizing the Muslim world.
It was also a year when RTM introduced the new tender system causing more than 300 producers into cold storage for nearly a whole year.
My animated movie Budak Lapok was also released by its producer. The movie, which was weakly promoted though well received critically, got a massive drubbing at the box office raking into around a measly RM350k plus run.
Football wise, Liverpool didn't win anything at the end of the 2006-2007 season. They begin 2007-2008 well being unbeaten for awhile but keep getting draws when wins were required. At the end of the year, another draw with Thaksin's Manchester City. They end the year fourth on the table. I doubt they will win the league but if they can get past Inter Milan in the Champions League - chances are the Cup will be theirs.
It is also time for resolutions. What's mine? Well, lets say that I have a few and if I do manage to accomplish all that I resolve to do this year, it will be a GREAT year!
To ALL my friends, relatives and fans - a Happy New Year to you guys..may the new year bring all that you wish for. To my enemies, to those who despise me, to those who want me dead....hey, what can I say?