I can't stand it...

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Written on 5/30/2005 02:59:00 pm by sikapitan

I woke up late this morning for work, realizing that in USJ (that’s UEP Subang Jaya for the clueless- located beyond Subang Jaya but before Puchong, many have blamed its existence for the congested roads leading in Subang. Town planning anyone?) 10 minutes can and do make the difference. If I leave at 6.50, I’ll reach Pusat Bandar Damansara at 7.25, which is much too early for even the most workaholic of lawyers at Zaid Ibrahim. If I leave at 7.00, I’ll reach there at 7.45, which is not too bad. But let’s just say the extra spicy tomyam you had yesterday for dinner turns your digestive system a bit haywire and you spent an extra 10 minutes in the toilet with your latest copy of FHM, FORGET ABOUT GOING OUT AT 7.15!Yeah, I’ll still reach the office before the punch-in time at 8.45, but I would have to spend 1 hour on the road, with the majority wasted just trying to get out of USJ.

So now I have decided to just don’t give a damn and wake up at 7.30, try to get out before 8, and reach the office by 9. Nobody cares anyway. But this morning I was resigned to battling it out with the rest of the corporate rats when I left the sanctity of my house, and with it my comfortable bed, at 8.02 am. Surprise surprise, the road leading out of USJ was clear. It is now the mid-term school break, and with it goes the thousands of moms (and a smattering of dads) with unkempt hair and unwashed faces from the road. I was pleasantly surprised, but it didn’t matter much on the LDP (surprisingly), because it appears everyone knew about this and decided to leave later than usual.

This daily conundrum of going out early and wasting time at the mamak or going out late and wasting time in my car is getting on my nerves. It’s obvious that no one is car-pooling, so that idea is out of the question. Every car, and I’m not exaggerating here, has a single occupant. Tough to blame them, or even me. I work at a place where the nearest LRT station is 30 minutes away-walking briskly, mind you. I’m sure I’m not alone. What if it was located near an LRT station? It doesn’t help that there is no LRT station in Subang, and the Komuter is all the way near Carrefour, which is after the troublesome jam spots anyway.

Inspired by their yearly (at least) trips to foreign countries (in particular London etc), the Government keeps on saying that we should all take public transports. I have been to London, and it is true that the people there use public transportation a lot. So do Parisians, New Yorkers and citizens of other developed metropolis in the world. Those who have been to London would say that their train/tube/bus stop is a mere 15-minutes walking distance away. But so does the bus-stop near my house, or the one near yours. What many of these “solutionista” failed to realize is that in London and Paris or whatever European country they’ve been to, every walk takes 15 minutes even if it’s actually 30 minutes.

The more accommodating climate in those regions allows the public to walk without being uncomfortable. Frankly, that is my view as to why public transportation has not really caught on with Malaysian workers. They might not admit it, but I will. I like to look good, and so do I believe most Malaysians. I have tried wearing office attire in the bus, and it just doesn’t fit. I sweat, people sweat, and smoke gets in, while cigarette smoke sticks. Even waiting for the Komuter or LRT under a shade cannot disguise the fact that it is not very comfortable. Once you reached your stop you have to walk, and in one of those hot Armageddon-like drought season, 5 minutes seems like eternity.

Call me MANJA, and I’m sure some of you would, but I HAVE been through it before. Add to the problem of the long hours waiting (yes, the LRT is pretty efficient, but from the station to your house?) makes taking public transport an uninteresting proposition. Some of you would even argue that Singapore has an efficient public transport system that’s popular. Remember, we live in Malaysia, or more specifically in this problem, Kuala Lumpur (dan kawasan2 sewaktu dengannya). Everything’s connected in Singapore easily because it’s so damn small. It’s just like you living in KL and its outskirts. Not really a problem now is it? What about those of us in the fringes of the capital, like Serdang, Subang, Petaling, Shah Alam and all those new townships cropping up like mushrooms after a rainy day? If this were Singapore, we would all be living in the sea.

So what’s the solution? I think that we have reached the breaking point for Kuala Lumpur. No amount of LRT, Monorails, bus lanes, and whatnots can hide the fact that KL and its surrounding areas are overused. Perhaps the Government did us a favor by moving government administrative functions out to Putrajaya. Slowly we are seeing more and more businesses moving its enterprise out of KL. And I believe that is the best solution. The banks especially should have their very own Putrajaya. Then spend good money not on making beautiful buildings but roads and trains that connects us all to these outskirt mini-metropolis. Don’t la develop places like Damansara and its likes. Its development has already encroached into main KL Go look at those empty lands between here and KLIA. Shopping malls and its ilk can stay in Kuala Lumpur, thank you.

Just an opinion anyway. Something to reflect upon your next encounter with Mr.Jam, and I don’t mean Michael Jackson. Go figure.

For pictures from the LonRis experience, visit my fotopage.

Is this the first ever car review?

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Written on 5/27/2005 12:54:00 pm by sikapitan

And so it is, the red half of Merseyside has done the improbable. They have beaten Milan in a Champions League final through a penalty shoot-out (again!!!) despite being three, I repeat THREE, goals down at the start of the second half. I won’t bore you with tactical analysis yada yada yada. Suffice to say, as we have seen in another final recently *ehem ehem*, life’s not fair. It never is. It never will be. Football, like I’ve said many times before, is the perfect embodiment of life itself. In this case, it’s just like you out there who worked so hard to look good, talk smooth, smell nice and yet the girl just went to that ugly bloke who has “heart”. Bullshit I say.

To complete one of the most miserable months in my life (at least in terms of supporting something), Carrie Underwood and Sergio Mora both won American Idol and The Contender respectively. It might be wise for the betting man to come see me, and place their bets on whoever I’m NOT supporting. United, Milan, Sporting Lisbon, Bo Bice, Peter Manfredo, even the people I thought would be in Akademi Fantasia did not make it. The losing streak is incredible. Perhaps I should refrain from supporting Perodua’s MyVi?

It was on the way back from those late night sojourns at the mamaks that I and Mr. Fredo stumbled upon the still-open Perodua showroom. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Perodua is way ahead of Proton when it comes to marketing. Is the Gen.2 not important enough for them to make a seriously good ad campaign? Where’s the TV ad for example? The lack of impetus on the part of Proton has clearly given Perodua the advantage. What’s the last Proton TV ad you remember? Mine is the Satria ad where there’s like horses and some weird soundtrack at the back. Perodua? How about the Einstein jibe for Kenari, or Superman changing in a Kenari, or the mad professor for “engineered for excellence”? Let’s not forget the countless Hari Raya and such ads that are miles better than Proton’s. I know that ads don’t make a car better, but it sure does show that the company cares enough to promote.

Back to the MyVi. In a brilliant move, Perodua decided to extend the operating hours of their showrooms. Of course, the straight laced people at Proton might be thinking “Sapa nak beli kereta tgh2 malam?”. The point is not only to sell cars, but to make an impression. Anyway, when we stopped at the showroom close to midnight, there are still a lot of people hanging about. Not as many as during the day, but if one out of 15 manages to buy, there could be 2 customers signing up between 11-12.30 pm, and that’s a worthwhile risk to take.

The car itself looks impressive. The shape is the amalgam of various recent runaway successes in Malaysia. The front end is unmistakably Jazz/Toyota Wish hybrid. The whole shape is a bit Citroen C3, while the back is Getz/Punto like. The length is something like Aveo’s (they even have one in the same ugly bird-shit color). Most amazingly, the inside of the car seems bigger than even my Jazz. Maybe it’s the lighter color, but it is a brilliant piece of engineering to pack that much room in a compact car. In terms of looks, it’s a winner in my book, especially in funkier colors like the Orange or Red. The interior layout is decent enough, with funky 3 spoke steering wheel for the higher end models and built-in cd player for all models. The boot space is not so big, but the various configurations you can do with the back seat will probably help solve this problem. Plus, as the salesman keeps on telling to anyone who would bother listening, the back passenger’s doors can be opened at an 80 degrees angle. In layman’s term, you could open it flat out to fit that IKEA table or your fat uncle.

But, the interior trim is still cheap, with the rough fabrics and hard plastics reminding you that this car is not meant for those who appreciate finesse. The auto stick-shift is way too low, the car feels way too big (difficult for lady drivers), the stereo looks gaudy (and there’s no way to replace it!!!) and it’s difficult to get a proper driving position. But the plastics looked solid, and if the Kenari/Kelisa interior is anything to go by, should last a lifetime. My friend has just reported that the interior trim of her Gen.2 keeps falling apart. Please explain Mr. Proton.

I don’t know how it will drive, but the top-end is fitted with the DVVT (another great ad campaign yea?) 1.3 engine found in the Kembara. In that car, because the engine is powering 4 wheels, the fuel consumption is a bit on the high side. But fitted in a two-wheel drive vehicle, it should prove a bit more sprightly and economical. At a price that’s considerably lower than any of its likes (from 41k-51k), it is a sure winner. And a deserved one too, if first impression’s anything to go by.

I just hope that it’s not like some of the girls I’ve went out with. Beautiful, but too un-refined. Go figure.

For pictures from the LonRis experience, visit my fotopage.

Revenge of Sikapitan

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Written on 5/24/2005 12:30:00 am by sikapitan

I HAVE BEEN GONE FOR WAY TOO LONG! The itch to write has finally arrived. Many things have happened since my last entry. I was away in London for two weeks, and I do apologize for not writing on what surely was a great social comparative experience. I started working in a law firm, of all things, which I am sure I’ll have the opportunity to talk about in the coming entries. Tony Blair’s elected for a third, and surely last, term. Liverpool, of all teams, is in the Champions League final. Manchester United, in addition to being trophy-less for the first time since the 97/98 season, is now controlled by a “supposedly” greedy American, Malcolm Glazer (who of course, just to highlight his “evil”, looked exactly like Rasputin). On the local front, news has been rather slow. No sensational sex scandals, murders, CBT, or celebrity trials that’s worth any mention (though I have to state that I am personally interested in Fazura’s trial *ehem*). But there’s that RM34 million cop we could talk about, but it’ll surely be under some rug at the end of the day.

But just to start it off, I’ll begin with some fluffy piece on what must be the biggest news in Malaysia last week – the final installment of the Star Wars trilogy, Revenge of the Sith. It’s ironic that because of our tendency to watch all things pirated, we get the advantage of watching movies earlier than most countries. I was surprised when my friend in London told me that most of the time the blockbusters are shown in Asian countries first then England. I can’t remember his example, nor can I vouch the authenticity of his claim, but I can’t disagree with the logic of it. Anyway, they’ve got Sky TV over there, which has way too much channels, and if you subscribe to the movie package there’s plenty of recent movies shown, unlike Astro’s movie package. But just like Astro, just give me 3 days with 500 channels and I’m still bored. The novelty wears off quickly, trust me. The only part that doesn’t wear off is the lack of censorship:)

Talking about censorship, have you guys seen Kingdom of Heaven? Now here’s a piece which could be said to have reached the visual and intellectual height of Gladiator (of course, considering they’re both directed by the same person). Minus the casting of Orlando Bloom (He tried but can’t Hollywood see he’s simply not macho enough?), the movie is an excellent interpretation of events during the Holy War period. What I CANNOT understand is the stamp of approval by the Censorship Board for this movie. It’s rated “U”! Umum??? Trust me, there’s nothing “umum” about chopped heads and spilled guts. And if the violence is too “umum” for Malaysians, what about the whole “religious” and “political” undertone of the movie?

I am NOT for censorship, but I question the integrity of the Board if you can rate Hellboy as 18SG (or was it PL) or banning Daredevil while not making an effort to ensure that the same standard is applied to elsewhere. Hellboy and Daredevil are fantasy pieces, from comic strips. Why the double standard for Kingdom of Heaven? Perhaps the Censorship Board thinks we are too stupid to realize the subtle meanings embedded in the story and stupid enough to believe that comic characters are real. C’mon. Lines like “If god doesn’t understand, then there is no god, so we have nothing to be afraid” is more dangerous than merely calling someone HELLboy or dareDEVIL. The point is this: if you want to do something, do it for the right reasons and good conscience. If not, just label everything “U”.
Ah, back to Star Wars III. The hype surrounding this movie wasn’t as great as The Phantom Menace (maybe because fans are simply tired of the bullshit first two installments), but the early review sounded positive. Plus, the trailers were inspiring, promising deeper, darker action and less emotional drama like Episode II. So it was with great satisfaction that I managed to book some seats at One Utama on the opening day. It was an afternoon show, but I was still surprised at the amount of empty seats in front of me. It wasn’t half-empty, but it wasn’t THAT packed either. Could have been the timing, I’m sure.

I actually had to rush back from work that Thursday afternoon, but it was no surprise to find that, despite being 15 minutes late, the show hasn’t started yet. There’s Brad Pitt looking suave running away from reporters. I think beer ads are the greatest. Really. I hate to admit it, but I feel like I just had to have a Heineken. Thank God for his protection of my soul, or I would be drunk every time I watch a movie. Anyway, I don’t know if it was just me (or the dozens of people who suddenly decided that the afternoon would be a great time to bother me with their SMSes) but I just don’t feel it. The movie did not touch me. I had an almost emotionless experience. It was like watching some one-off action story and not the final chapter of what must have been one of the best sci-fi adventures in modern film history.

I can’t quite place what’s wrong with the movie. I mean, the CGIs are awesome, but that’s also a minus point for me. The whole movie’s too polished, too light and breezy, too beautiful. The acting’s not the worse I have ever seen, but again, it appears that technology has outshone the lead characters. The storyline’s acceptable, but highly improbable. Anakin’s turn into the Dark Force was too easy, too commercial. At the end of it, it’s like eating Ayamas. It tastes good, it looks good, but you just know the original Kentucky is much much better. (Trust me to equate watching movies with Ayamas..aiyahhh…)

By the way, you guys can forget about the MSN.Spaces site. It takes ages to load at other PCs. So I’m sticking by this one till it gets sorted out. Please leave signs that there’s people out there still reading my mindless crap:)