Monday, August 24, 2009

Deconstructing men's style: Lessons from the Sartorialist's eye.

Scott Schuman's blog, the Sartorialist is one of the most widely read style blogs for a reason. His eye for detail is among his blog's many qualities. I am certain that I am one of many who would turn to his blog for style inspiration and, with the availability of large hard disk space nowadays, save countless photographs posted by him for future reference.
Here I'd like to share photos that I would keep for my personal style reference, and the reason behind liking the particular photo. Click on the photo to go to the original post at The Sartorialist.

original pic by Scott Schuman

  • I can't determine whether or not the tie was a silk knit one. All I know is that the tie's colour and texture looks great in his outfit.
  • Love the ethnic bracelets. It's not unlike another photo also posted by Scott last year, where a man wore similar looking ethnic bands around his ankle (no socks, obviously)
  • Electric blue pants are the obvious attention seeker in this outfit
  • Belgian velvet slippers as seen here, and not too dissimilar from the English house slippers seen here. Don't let the word 'slipper' fool you into underestimating their make and price tag!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dinner at Rakuzen, Hartamas Shopping Centre

With some colleagues leaving us, we decided to go for a nice dinner together followed by drinks nearby. Initially, we had planned to go to Tenji in Solaris Mont Kiara, but that suggestion met with some objections from yours truly and some others who had a mere so-so experience in that Japanese buffet restaurant. Someone then suggested Rakuzen, since it was in the same area as well.

Since there were 14 of us, we were given a private room, that was good.
The food? Some hits but also some major misses. Many of us were for Rakuzen because we had good dining experiences there (and their set lunches were always value-for money without compromising quality). Yesterday, however, they fell a little short of my expectations.

We had some appetizers while waiting for some of our friends to arrive. Rakuzen is currently having a Summer Menu for the season, and we had two items from it.

The first was the Unagi Omelette:

Unagi Omelette. Looks uninteresting on the plate.

May not look appetizing but turned out to be quite a pleasant combination. And it's not on the menu all the time, so it's worth a try.

Next item from the Summer Menu was the Seafood Avocado Salad:

Seafood and Avocado Salad, after being tossed. Looks even less appetizing than the omelette.

This was my favourite dish for the day. Don't let the picture fool you, because the taste will surprise you! The salad consists of crab meat, prawns, tuna and other fish bits, cuttle fish, roe and salad greens, all tossed in a light but flavorful dressing. A friend commented that the fish they used weren't too fresh, but I thought the salad on the whole was excellent. This salad is a perfect representation summer and I look forward to having something like this again.

Next, we had the Avocado Tempura Roll:

Colleague was slightly disappointed because the picture on the menu showed the sushi pieces individually coated in tempura batter. What was served instead was a tempura avocado rolled into the sushi. Taste was average, nothing outstanding.

Finally, we had the Dragon Roll, which was basically an unagi on a roll:

I didn't get to taste this one as I was busy playing around with my friend's Nikon DSLR (he was tempting me to buy one!). Note that the 'dragon's head' is missing, as a colleague was so hungry that she took the first piece before we could take the picture of the whole 'dragon'. Hence, the unagi sauce in the front as the evidence of the crime.

Next came everyone's main course that were the run-of-the-mill set meals, and so weren't worth photographing. I had the Zen Teppanyaki, which was a steak teppanyaki set. It was a quite a disappointment. The meat was not piping hot when served to me. I wonder how long it was left to stand at the kitchen counter before it reached me. Meat was prepared medium as I had asked for it, but that was it - just medium cooked. Lacking in flavours, if at all. I assume that it was cooked at a relatively low fire because there was no heat or char to the meat at all.

At RM38++, I would rather pay a bit more for the one I had in Gonbei, Starhill. That one gave me a good cut of sirloin, a significantly bigger portion, and cooked so much better.

I had a try of my friend's Cha Soba, and that wasn't particularly good too.

After dinner we proceeded to Somo in Shoplex Mont Kiara. The ambience was good, it was outdoor, relaxed, and the tables were well spread for enough privacy. Drinks were alright, reasonably priced. But I always had a bone to pick with these sort of places. I never understood places like this one, and similarly the Laundry and Republic. These places are set outdoors for a relaxed atmosphere, yet instead of playing chillout music, they blast the speakers with R&B and hiphop. It's not because I hate R&B. It just feels so ironic to get your customers tipsy with alcohol then play some booty-shaking music, but expect them to remain seated through it all, having normal conversations . Say what?


I am not swearing off Rakuzen yet, for two reasons:

For one, as I was leaving this restaurant, I saw some Japanese diners and the Japanese chef. If the food was prepared by Japanese and fit enough for the Japanese palate, surely there must be something in the restaurant worth having. Maybe just not the teppanyaki.

Secondly, all meals that I had at Rakuzen never failed to disappoint, prior to this one. But then again, maybe their strength lies in their value-for-money sets that feature the standard fare of the Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi range.

Perhaps I should ask my colleagues how did their
Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi dinner sets go. If those stank too, then I am afraid Rakuzen Sri Hartamas might have already lost the touch.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Potong Saga: Even 'The Making Of' video is funny

By now, I am sure that most people would have heard of 15Malaysia, and Potong Saga. Especially since it is all over Facebook and Twitter.

For those who haven't, where have you been? it is "15 short films about Malaysia featuring some of the country's coolest directors, actors, musicians and politicians". It features everyone, from the controversial Namewee (of 'Negarakuku' fame) to the late Yasmin Ahmad to Mix FM DJ Serena C to Khairy Jamaluddin (acting as a taxi driver!).

A new short film will be released every two days. At the time of this posting two videos have already been released to the very supportive public (just check out the number of Facebook fans, video downloads and comments made)- Ho Yuhang's "Potong Saga" and Yasmin Ahmad's "Chocolate".

For those who've watched it already, then you'd already know that 'Potong Saga' was absolutely hilarious. I bet a lot of Chinese guys can relate to this short film, because for those who may not know it, this circumcision thingy is one of the major concerns when one considers converting to Islam. What I bet you wouldn't know, though, is that "The Making Of" video for Potong Saga is JUST AS FUNNY. *I've embedded the videos at the end of this post.

In comparison, "Chocolate" by the late Yasmin Ahmad was a somber affair that examines race relations, resentment and even payback, possibly.

Even though this project is only at its early legs, I am of the opinion that this project has already succeeded in getting is message across. Just from these two videos alone, the average Malaysians can already catch a glimpse of what the Chinese community's opinions on finance and circumcision (in the first video), and education policies (in the second). I am sure the aim of this project is not to point out which opinion is right or wrong, but simply to get these opinions out in the open.

Now that the Chinese community has been heard, I am eager to see the viewpoints from other communities.

Here is the Potong Saga video, followed by it's "Making of" video. If you don't laugh at the end of the video, I recommend that you seek professional help.

And here is the second video, "Chocolate" directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad's 'Talentime' back on the silver screen!

Catch Talentime at GSC MidValley, most TGV's and Cineleisure Damansara while it's still being screened!

After being dealt with news of Yasmin Ahmad's death, I was hoping that her contributions to the country were significant enough to warrant the re-screening of her works. The following weekend, there was a tribute shown on TV3 which featured the airing of "Mukhsin" (which sadly, I couldn't catch due to being out on that night). Judging from how Malaysian media 'loved' her, I assumed that the tribute was all that the fans were going to get.

Fortunately enough, the cinema companies have decided (for reasons monetary or otherwise) to re-screen her final full length work, "Talentime". I was elated upon hearing that news from a friend, as I have only seen two of her six full length works (Sepet and Gubra). And God knows how elusive her films can be. If it isn't the Censorship Board preventing access to it, it's the scarcity of obtaining her movies in hard copy.
*Can someone tell me please, where do I buy Yasmin Ahmad films on DVD/VCD/Whatever?*

Anyway, I managed to catch the movie with my friend in TGV 1-Utama this afternoon. Disappointingly, the cinema was only 30% full. I am not sure of the reason for the poor response. Perhaps the movie-going masses aren't that interested, or maybe publicity was lacking- I wouldn't have known about this if it wasn't for my friend. Read nothing about this in the papers either.

The movie was very good, replete with Yasmin Ahmad's winning signature style. Sentimental, romantic locations, charming characters, non-stereotypical characters, political and social commentary.

Once again, Yasmin succeeds in presenting Ipoh as an unbelievably charming town. Being her hometown, perhaps her personal attachment to the place lends all her shooting locations with a sense of nostalgia. As more and more Malaysian towns start to appear frighteningly similar in the vein of generic suburbia, all of Talentime's locations (Anderson school with its colonial architecture and imposing pine trees, Mahesh's house, Melur's house,even the hospital) display character that is increasingly difficult to find.

In the beginning of the movie, I didn't enjoy it too much because of the not-too-funny light hearted scenes. This is of course not anyone's fault, for the many of the other characters may be played by amateurs, contributing to some slightly missed comic moments.

But as the movie progressed, the beauty of the story had overcome all the minor gripes I had been having. The characters and the story was engaging, and the emotions even more overpowering. At the end of the story, I began to realise how charming each character of the movie was.

Idealistic? Perhaps. But so what? How else does one successfully push the envelope for change, if not by being idealistic?
The sentiments shown by Mahesh to Melur may seem cliche and tacky to some self-professed 'mature adults', but to me it was simply pure and honest love.
The relationship Hafiz had with his mother was acted out so genuinely and beautifully, and the final scene was simply heart-wrenching. The actor who played Hafiz is the same kid who played Mukhsin several years ago, and he played both characters excellently.

Still, as much as I loved her works, I had a few things to pick on. Her movies tend to include scenes that are more likely to happen in the perfect world than in real life. There was a scene in 'Gubra' that I found unrealistic, whereby Orked's husband gives a quirky introduction of all his eccentric family members to the staff nurse in charge of Orked's ill father. Similarly in Talentime I found a tad idealistic scene whereby (!SPOILER WARNING!) Melur's dad (Harith Iskandar) started goofing around at dinnertime, resulting with the whole family (including wife) engaged in a 'scrum' at the floor of the dining room.

And quintessential to her storytelling is the inclusion of scenes or characters that challenge Malaysian society stereotypes. One instance was (!SPOILER WARNING!) the character of Mei Ling, the Chinese-Muslim housemaid who can also play Debussy on the piano.

One thing I loved tho, was the music. Kudos to Pete Teo for the beautiful songs in the film, "Angel" and "I Go". No other lyrics or music could have suited the movie better.

Here is the beautifully sung, "I Go" by Aizat.

A beautiful movie to the end, but it was when my friend mentioned, "Too bad there isn't going to be a sequel to this" that I am struck again with the realisation that this was her final work that we could have the pleasure of seeing. Am not sure if anyone is going to finish her Malaysia-Japan collaboration "Wasurenagusa".

Thanks again to the local cinemas for this possibly final opportunity to watch a Yasmin Ahmad film in the cinema.

But most importantly, thank you Yasmin for blessing Malaysians with your idealistic views about Malaysians and about love.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Posse Part Deux: Kanye West South Park'd

The South Park creators took a jab at Kanye West's ego with a parody episode called "Fish sticks". Kanye is portrayed as a 'gay fish' who embraces his true nature and swims with the other gay fishes. Hilarious!

I haven't watched it yet, god knows how long it has been since I last watched an episode of South Park.

I love how the guys at South Park used Kanye West and his crew's actual outfits (seen here outside the Commes des Garcons FW09 show, taken from Jak & Jil blog). Good effort, Trey and Matt!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More finds by a desperate choosy beggar.

I am a few pennies poorer today, thanks to the Amanah Saham 1Malaysia.
No DSLR for now, I'm afraid.
I had many hours to spare today though, and in usual KL fashion, the 'sale' sign was everywhere. I was mindful of my new financial status, but says who you can't get good stuff on a budget? My two pairs of patterned rocks from Zara and plastic aviators from Topman only set me back a grand total of RM48.80. Yay me.

Sorry this was an absolutely pointless post, beside the fact that I am using the phone camera and phone blogging feature

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Best Feeling in the World (for me)

Sauntering along the banks of a Parisian canal on a summer night, following the lead of a band who performs with gentle vocals and light strumming. All I need is the love of my life walking next to me on that night, and I can declare my contentment in life.

Maybe I am a nocturnal person, but I love about coming out at night as long as the weather and personal security permits. I love it when a place finally settles down, and there are no crowds, traffic or noises to clout my view and mind. On holiday, it is not difficult to capture the essence of a place by strolling along the streets of a foreign city, walking along the beach, or looking out the balcony. But what I discover is that even the congested and impersonal Klang Valley could exude a different side in the quiet and darkness of the night (burglary/sex industry/drugs/alcohol notwithstanding). What a pleasant surprise that within the madness of KL and PJ lies hidden abodes that exude calm and character after the sun sets.

Visit La Blogotheque for more videos such as these- live performances by indie bands set in the most unexpected and unconventional places (high school, sidewalk, apartment building, elevator!) all around the great city of Paris.