Words of Wisdom

In life, we have to choose between the jeans and the cookie jar. Liz Hurley chose the jeans and I chose the cookie jar

~ Nigella Lawson....(on women's body image and her own voluptuous body)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When fan obsession gets too far....the Tom Kaulitz story

First of all, I AM a fan of Tokio Hotel. I like their music the first moment I heard Monsoon and Durch Den Monsun. Then, I began to explore more songs such as Ich Bin Nicht Ich, 1000 Meere, Schrei, Rette Mich and I liked what I heard. They are not the best of musicians, admittedly but musical craftmanship not what they are about. It's about playing music simply because they love it and they are well aware that they cannot please everybody. My favourites are Ich Brech Aus, Hilf Mir Fliegen, Wir Sterben Niemals Aus, In Die Nacht and 1000 Meere. However, I must say that what turns me off a bit sometimes is the crazy obsessed teenies following and screaming everywhere they go.

I also have a soft spot for cutie Tom Kaulitz. What an adorable honeybun. He's incredibly funny. Quieter and more masculine than his twin. Seemingly protective over his brother.

*Pic: Tom at age 15

In the midst of my birthday week, as I was moping for not being remembered, this young man I greatly admire, who is still at the early journey of his life, was faced with a situation that stretched his normally friendly and calm demenour to its limit. That was when he was caught on a gas station CCTV hitting a girl in the face somewhere in the city of Hamburg. Ist Tom Kaulitz ein brutale schlager?(*My not so good German there)

Frankly, it wasn't too shocking for me because if one has seen footages of these boys especially Tom and his twin Bill being mobbed by rabid fans, one can only imagine the kind of "personal space intrusion" that they have to go through everyday. There are footages from fans who hunted them down to their then-school, recording studio, their apartments and even their parents' home. Some of the footages/"paparazzi" shots are not even from fans, just people who have nothing better to do. Harassing celebrities just for the heck of getting their reactions. How can I forget that footage of Tom and Bill at a MacDonald's drive-through being harassed by a bunch of MEN with cameras. The twins were extremely polite given the situation. I didn't know whether the twins managed to get their food or not.

*Pic: Smiley Tom back in the days before the pressure of fame and crazy fandom turned to danger

The gas station incident immediately caught the media attention. It was quite suspicious to me as to how quick the TV crew got there. I wonder who were called first, the police or the TV people, knowing there was a hot scoop too sensational to pass. There were about four plus-size girls covering their faces there. Why would you want to conceal your indentity if you're the "victim" of a celebrity assault?

As I delved further into the story, it was further revealed that the girl in question belongs to a group of stalkers, a bunch of French girls who call themselves Le Afghans on Tour. The band's management claimed that the girls have been following the band for 6 months. Even moving to
an apartment on the same street with the boys. Somebody managed to capture their MySpace screenshot on cache. There was a slideshow with pictures of the girls with head scarves covering their hair and faces to cover their identities mimicking the way the Muslim girls cover themselves in Afghanistan. Thus, Le Afghans. Also, it's hard to ignore their greeting motto of giving "nightmares to everyone".

*Read about the "stalker gang" here at Tokio Hotel Network. Creepy stuff.

On a personal side, as a Muslim, I am highly offended by the use of Muslim image to engage in their insane activities. It's sad enough to me that Muslims are misrepresented as terrorists and now a bunch of people are taking advantage of the situation.

Then, there was also the chilling picture of the girls with face masks reminding one of serial killers normally depicted in movies. Furthermore, the girls even attacked the people close to the Kaulitz twins most notably their mother Simone. Then, threatening to attack their best friend. Also, sending letters with sentences "We are impatient..." and implied on giving more nightmares. Looking again at the MySpace screenshot, I wonder whether these girls are in fact Tokio Hotel haters instead of fans because they had embedded a video of the band with the title "Tokio Hotel - Wir sind scheisse" or "Tokio Hotel - We are shit". That makes the whole incident even more bizarre as to why would a bunch of haters take the hard work of moving to another country to where their objects of hate reside and spend all their money on making the hate objects' lives miserable?

After reading this, I believe that the CCTV incident wasn't just a spur of the moment but rather the outcome of a series of unpleasant events to Tom Kaulitz. How would you feel if the same people who attacked your mother, threatened your life and followed you around came to your car demanding for a photo? Tom threw out his cigarette to make her go away but she took it and pressed the stub out on his window. Given the ill-treatment he received, I'd say Tom's action was justified. In fact, it was still a lot that he held back as far as I'm concerned. To me, if somebody attacked my mother and dared to touch my car like that, that person would have received MORE than just a punch on the face.

I'm a woman and I'm against violence but so am I against mental abuse, provocation and harassment physically or sexually. Would I regard the Kaulitz twins case as sexual harassment? Yes, I would. They are being harassed by members of their opposite sex for being cute and pretty. It doesn't matter which gender perpetrates the act. Harassment is harassment. When the news first broke, a lot of people were highly critical of Tom. However, now it is clear that the young man acted out of a long series of provocation. The constant pressure finally made him snap. It's an amazement that he had withstood it all this long.

Leave this young man alone!

Tom's problem now is the possible charge of causing bodily injuries which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years. Sure, women have struggled for years to get to where we are today. However, in this case, I find it insulting that a woman can be allowed to be a loony and get away with it simply because she's a woman. Also, I do not support any law that allow a woman to stalk a person, invade his personal space, harass him endlessly, attacking his family and then send him to jail for protecting himself. All these simply because a woman is deemed as the weaker sex?

Now the TWO camps are pressing charges against each other. The stalker girl who got punched didn't want to accept a peace offering whereby the band asked her gang to stay away from the twins and their family. This is the new low for women all over the world! It's humiliating that a girl can be so boy-crazy that she willingly transform into a monster just so she can catch her object of lust. It's humiliating to me as a woman. Duh!

On a more positive note, let me say that, as a woman, I know how girls feel. When a girl looks at her favourite star, she would also look at the possibility of him being her real man. Him as her boyfriend. Him as her husband. Even to have his babies. Notice how fangirls tend to observe just about every aspect of her “man” from the way he laughs, the way he walks, every word he says and how he says it, his favourite food, his favourite colour, the car he drives, which brand of toothbrush he uses (if she can find out, she’d buy it!) etc. Ditto for the way he looks because we want to imagine how our future babies would look like.

However, our favourite rock stars are humans too. That’s where many girls blurr the line. Face it, would a guy fall for a girl who keeps on screaming for his attention and follows his every move? No. Guys are genetically pursuers. No matter what, he is highly likely to go for a girl he chooses to pursue. Even a fan. Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt technically married his own fan, singer Suze DeMarchi. I’m sure ALL three Hanson boys married their own fans too.

Who says a popular celeb wouldn’t approach a girl he likes? Sure, he can’t choose everybody who comes his way. Like the way we say it in my native tongue, he only has two arms and two legs. Multi-tasking can go only too far. The thing is, a guy, even a famous one, just wants someone who is just a normal human being and not sees only his outer shell. If you’re lucky enough to be in his circle and he still doesn’t go for you, then just accept it that it isn’t your fate. Just remember, being a lunatic would only shut yourself out and he’d rather lock you up and throw away the key into an ocean too deep to dive in.

As for me? I can only make wishes. Let the Almighty pick one :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Birthday, Chris DeGarmo and me

No. I have never met Chris DeGarmo.

If you thought this post would be about me and meeting a metal musician, then sorry to disappoint you. No, it's just something that's been going through my mind as another birthday came and the story of Chris makes me think deep at the moment about myself and the idea of making a turning point in one's life.

First of all, my birthday just went by on Friday uncelebrated. Only TWO people remembered. My former subordinate who NEVER forgets my birthday and a colleague who is technically my senior from the UK years. Thank God for the Internet. Thus, my birthday wishes at least expanded beyond a mere TWO-person-only demographic.

So, why suddenly Chris DeGarmo?

OK. As I was lying on my bed staring at the ceiling on the night of my birthday after a draggy day at work, I was drawn to an old issue of Kerrang magazine from 1988 with a cover picture of Queensryche members i.e singer Geoff Tate and lead guitarist Chris DeGarmo. Flipped through to the feature inside where they talked about not chasing the dream down the commercial route and staying true to themselves and the music they believed in.

Queensryche is a band that one cannot really categorize in any particular genre. However, they were often described as the thinking man's metal band as opposed to many typical bands from the 80s who sang about rock n roll lifestyle, sex, fast cars etc. The band was not something you could easily sell to the public for quick megabucks. They were and still are the type who need to be believed in first to be marketable. Somebody sure did believe in them as they were managed by none other than Q Prime Management who also managed Metallica, Def leppard and Dokken.

Chris was one of the core members of the band. One of the main songwriters and the one responsible of penning the hauntingly beautiful Silent Lucidity, the song that finally catapulted the band to the major public.

Then, Chris left the band. From what I read, he wanted to pursue other interests outside Queensryche and was getting tired of 'having to tour with the band'. Not that he was having a rift with his bandmates because he did come back for a collaboration with them (Queensryche boys were far too matured to have catfights within the band unlike many others). He seemed to just not want that life anymore.

Let's see. He is now working full-time as a charter pilot. He's married with children and has settled down at his hometown of Seattle. He still does music here and there but it sounds to me like he's doing it more as a hobby now than the full-time career it once was. Looks like it's going to remain that way.

chris degarmo frontier era

It got me thinking. What could really make a man take such a drastic turn in his life and left something he had been a part of for more than 15 years? The band was something he had worked on most of his young life. Step by step. Playing at many venues as an opening act supporting bigger bands. Got their first headlining tour in the UK in 1988. Received commercial success and appraisals for his masterpiece Silent Lucidity. Queensryche also wrote Real World, one of the better songs for the Last Action Hero soundtrack. Crappy movie. One of the best soundtracks ever. Who can ignore the metallized cover of Scarborough Fair? Hey, even their earlier song Queen of the Reich inspired German's power metal sons Helloween to get singer Michael Kiske to be their frontman, a decision that turned the band into a legend even Helloween themselves nowadays cannot match still.

Singer Geoff said that Chris felt 'stuck in a box'. To me, that was enough to explain it. I fully understand how it feels or at least from what I can decipher from it. You have worked hard ALL your life. You are moderately successful. Neither megastars nor unknown. Respected in exclusive circles of exclusive tastes. Then, the viscious cycle of the music biz struck and your carefully crafted music was suddenly not relevant to the market. You feel like you're going nowhere. You feel worn and burned out. Like there isn't much more you can give. It feels like whatever you put into it will only return in less than 10th of the input, if it returns at all.

Thankfully, Chris was in comfortable position financially. Also, he saw something else he could pursue. A more stable career which probably pays better than a music gig. I don't know but it could just be that Chris just wanted to settle down. Somewhere, at one point of a man's life, he felt it was time to leave life on the road so he could be with his family and have a normal life instead. To see his children grow. To be there for the loved ones. To shape their lives into a sure future. Unlike the uncertainty of the music biz.

So, what does all this have anything to do with me?

I reflected on Chris' life and felt at awe of this man. He dared to make a 180 degree turn from a life he had held on to far longer than my working years. Started something new and has since stayed contented and happy with that choice and he still gets to enjoy the other great passion of his. Music.

He has it all. A family. Stability. Careers. A great past. Still highly respected and missed by his fans.

I'm asking myself. As I turned another year older. Shouldn't this be a turning point for me? What do I have as something to fall back on? Like Chris did?

My biggest fear? To grow old lonely and to die alone.

Chris, from now on, if I feel stuck and lost, I'll think of you and the brave step you took.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm 35 today!

Things didn't go off on a good start.

Last night, I thought I wanted to try out my new oven ELBA 1912SS with 1200watt power. So, as it would be my birthday today, I decided to bake something for me. The Nestle Toll House Cookies. I delayed this since last weekend.

I knew having any new electrical equipment would be equivalent to setting a fire under any chair my father would sit on. As I guessed it, he came over and said how the oven would consume very high electricity.

I felt irritated and said "I'll pay for its electricity consumption!". I'm sick of having burnt cakes.

It's unfair. My brothers could play video games all day and night, have the fans running 24hrs coz they never bother turning it off so that they won't make another task of having to switch them back or watch the satellite TV all night till morning which I PAY btw yet they get away with it. My father never asked them even once to help pay the electricity bill of which they are the highest consumers in the house.

I don't mind paying for my consumption. After all, if I live on my own, I'd have to pay it anyway. However, I do wish everybody had the same conscience. Wishful thinking.

I'm 35 today. My wish is at least I'm allowed to have hobbies without an old man nagging me. If I were a burden in this house, I would be obliged to move out. I'm dreading thinking about moving to my tiny property at that location with neighbours from hell. One of which had stolen my dustbin.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another bird leaves the nest?

I was quite surprised when my younger brother who had been living at home since he graduated last year bade me goodbye last night.

He would be leaving with another younger brother (Mr. Obedient) to the capital city to help out yet another younger brother (The Artist/Designer) with display work. Maybe temporarily. He sure packed light. Maybe it could lead to a permanent prospect. I don't know.

It's strange though. As annoying as it can be having brothers around sometimes, I began to miss him the moment he said he was leaving for the capital city.

Another bird leaves the nest.

My older brother might move out either this year or next year when construction of his government-aided little house is complete. How lonely this place would feel without my nephews.

Now, I'm starting to see myself more and more as Miss Loser-No-Money. The one with big dreams but never got around to realizing even one at all and stuck in a rut she calls her 'comfort zone'. Maybe she needs a big kick in her big lazy butt!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Look who I met in my dream last night.......Kai Hansen and Roland Grapow :-)

Yes, I did! Yeah!!!!

I saw guitarists Kai Hansen and Roland Grapow :-D my dream last night :-D

Now, let's talk a bit about how I knew them musically. I was about 14 when I first heard Helloween's music. Thanks to my uncle. That was during the Keeper's days.

Then, after the live album, I noticed that the name of one guitarist had changed. That's when Roland came in. Even back then, I had always felt that he would be the one who'd survive the best on his own. I felt that he was the most versatile musician out of all of them. Well, he's proven me right!

It's been a while since I last saw any musicians in my dream. I thought I had lost that 'touch'. I used to see anyone I wanted easily in my sleep back when I was a schoolgirl. Not much talking. My spoken English wasn't up to scratch at the time. Just loads of smiles and gentle warm hugs ;-)

OMG. Things that I dream about nowadays are dumb. My job has been creeping into my sleep like a plague I haven't found the cure for. I mean, I dream about being scolded by my former boss when he was still working here. I dream about having meetings with people at work.

I dream about people in meetings walking out on me when I started throwing tantrums for being disrespected.

Even my colleagues laughed about it when I told them the other day.

So, back to Kai and Roland. We were in a huge warehouse for a store selling industrial machinery and steel products. God knows why we were all there, of all places :-I

Now, this is the proof that my job really has been creeping into my sleep. Instead of running to them the way I used to in my younger days like a child seeing a cookies' jar, I did not. I was actually more interested in the machinery. In my dream!!

Aren't dreams supposed to be the place where we can be and do something we can't or normally won't when we're awake? What's happening?

Reality hit me again. Oh dear. My priorities must have changed nowadays. OMG, I really am getting old, am I not?

My Cookies Weekend turned into a Bag Lady weekend :-(

I had a plan for the whole of last week. I would try baking the Nestle Original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.

The plan didn't materialize sadly. As my mother's countertop was so over the top with piles and piles of plastic containers, a used-maybe-3-times-a-year fruit blender, a stand mixer with rusty attachments, plastic bags, kitchen rags and small half-opened bags of different types of flour. It was madness!

I had to stand on my feet the whole of Saturday afternoon taking everything away, washing and cleaning the containers. Getting rid of the stale contents inside them. Relocated and rearranged them at another spot that had similarly been piled by everybody with God knows what. Had
to clean up that area too. Ignorant people in the house actually prefer to leave a rotten egg reeking in that spot waiting for someone with a common sense to clean things up.

On Friday, you couldn't see the countertop at all! I cleaned it up to this. Got rid of the nightmare.

Rearranged my mum's mini pantry. I remember the old days before she fell sick. Everything in the kitchen had its place. She used to be that kind of woman. Not as efficient and organised as my maternal grandmother but her kitchen was never messy. Then, she got sick and everything fell apart. My siblings were too little at the time. Left 'untrained' on household disciplinary control.

I miss those days when I was little. I knew where my mother's home-made jams were. The cookies she made for me. The spices. The instant noodles packets she kept in the basket my father hung from the low ceiling. The kitchen was old and falling apart in some places but it was cozy and cheery.

Look at the labelling I did. I cut out the printing from the plastic bags and stuck them on the containers with cellophane tape. Easy!

My cleaning continued till Sunday afternoon. Afterwards, my legs ached and thank God one of my brother - the Obedient One came home. So, I handed him the task to take the trash in the black bag to the collection bin about 2km away.............driving my car of course.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My brother won a Gold Medal...!

How often do you get to hear news like a family member winning a medal and a gold medal at that?

My brother texted me yesterday informing that he just received the news that his design for the Eid Mubarak last year for the MidValley Mega Mall in the capital city just won a Gold Medal from International Awards for Best Visual Merchandising. They are the only Asian mall that won the Gold.

Wow, congratulations bro!

It's a big thing. It tops it all in our family. My only glory was when I was 11 winning a First Prize in a poster-making national competition for 60years anniversary of Malaysia as a rubber producer. Was it 60 years? I don't even remember. Besides, the glory wasn't totally mine. My father was the one with all the design concepts.

My brother is different. The idea for his winning design was all his. I remember the day he came back home with the beautiful hand sketch of the mall display. It was a replica of a typical Malay village in the old days where people used to live in comfortable, airy and highly artistic wooden houses on stilts. With coconut trees, a small stream and a little wooden bridge or we call it 'titi'.

I didn't get to go to the capital city to see it 'live' but he sent a greyscaled photo of it. Told him this looked like an old movie from the Malaysian 60s. To which he replied the coloured one file size was too big to email. Oh boy*sigh*, I guess his straight-laced childhood persona is still there in him. I mean, file sizes of photos can ALWAYS be reduced and he has access to the best computer graphic softwares that money can offer.

However, his creation is still so beautiful that even a black and white photo can still does it justice. No problem at all :-)