Monday, December 31, 2007

Summing Up the Year 2007

First, let's take a look back on...


January
Months before the Indonesia tourism site started attracting (unwanted) attention, I'd noticed something peculiar about their previous improvement: their copywriter apparently smoked pot on the job.


February
It took twenty years for me to get this single enlightenment: It would only take one second--to turn the damn TV off.


March
The KKK took my (newborn) baby away. But it was okay. Because I finally understood how Indonesian swearing works.


April
During the care of my second child, I realized that--ideally--a guy should undertake a Fatherhood Aptitude Test before facing the actual thing. Otherwise, these fathers might end up creating TV shows for Indonesia.


May
The World Wildlife Fund redefined the term "back to nature", when they accidentally exposed some children to porn in one of their educational events. I guess they just hadn't realized how fierce Indonesian mothers could be.

Thing to note: some children actually applauded. There's hope for Indonesia after all.


June
I realized that my childhood dreams were political. And none of it involved being a president. But it's easy for kids nowadays. If you get a C, you can be the President of the United States. And if you get an E, bright future awaits!

June also bore good news for Nielsen Media Research Indonesia.


July
Indonesians began to frequent goodreads.com, a social networking for book readers. We're easy to spot, though. And speaking of reading, even our representatives are eager to learn.

July was also the start of (Movies) in Five Minutes series, which should be a tell-tale sign of "when Isman has nothing else to do".

And don't forget: Think for future! Best for forward!


August
My eyes were opened by the perks of being a Mayor. Apparently, by being a Mayor, you can check out someone's virginity. In pure admiration, I devised a Comprehensive Virginity Test for this Mayor.


September
I was chosen as one out of thirteen Indonesian representatives in the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2007. We were supposed to make other participants from abroad feel welcome. And I sucessfully contributed to that, by being lost in the first day.


October
Blogger Party 2007 happened. Gladly, I wasn't a host or anything. So it went well.

Unfortunately, things didn't go well for the english section of Jakartan Higher Education Directorate site, which were supposed to be Clean, Transparent and Professional and successfully missed all three.


November
Finally some enlightenment for the ladies: an exact definition of "cool" for guys.


December
And as the presidential campaigning period grows nearer, here's a suggestion for our presidential candidates: release a smutty-titled song.


So, based on only what I wrote on The Fool Has Landed: this year has been stupid, hazardous, and enlightening.

Yes, a usual year in Indonesia. But don't let that stop us from continuing in a similar fashion for the following year.

Just like the immortalized words of Al Jarreau;


You can be what you want to
And all you need is to
Get your boogie down


Thank you for sharing the laughs of 2007.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Humbling Compliment...

...sounds like an oxymoron. But thanks to the Internet, now I could cite an example.

There's a Yahoo Answers entry which discusses the question "Is amitabachan really that good or rude person?". The best answer, which could be summed up in one word: "No", also comments another Indian actor. And I'll quote:

I think [Shah Rukh Khan] is genuinely humble.i am sure he cant be fake bcoz he is not a good aactor.

Sounds like a good epitaph to me. "A genuinely humble man--because as an actor that he was, there was no way he could've faked it."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Taking Celebration a Step Further

Last Monday (24 December), Bandung Indah Plaza (a shopping mall in Bandung) placed a banner on top of their main entrance, which said, "Marry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You Want to Be The Next President?

Here's how to get my vote: publish a song with a smutty title. "Smack Me on the Butt", for instance.

That easy.

Why, you ask? Because in Indonesia nowadays, everytime the current President attends an official ceremony, the local government enjoy sucking up by playing one of his songs.

I'd love to see the President attend an event such as the National Social Solidarity Day. And then, after a formal greeting, the sound systems blare, "SMACK ME ON THE BUTT! SMACK ME ON THE BUTT!"

That'll be worth it. Because let's face it: new or old faces aren't going to make drastic changes. We might as well elect someone that makes ceremonies more interesting.

Reason #46 For Not Attempting Suicide in Indonesia

You might fail. Even when you jump off a flyover and hit the road below head on. You'll just be in a lot of pain. And get quoted saying things like, "Please, help me. My family left me. I'm out of love."

Not to mention that when the police and a guy rush you to the hospital, the police might leave you without warning. And the guy, realizing that he can't take care of the medical bills, would just return you to the exact location of your fall.

This is Jakarta, after all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Grow Some Curiosities (Part One)

Sometimes, in my neverending quest of finding the Ultimate Gift for Women, I stumble on things that seem to be a Cool Gift for Guys. But of course, since it's a lot easier. For guys, cool means:
  1. Can explode
  2. Produces great big noises
  3. Gigantic
  4. Powerful
  5. Useless
  6. Anything that a woman will frown on
A simple example:
  • Leonardo diCaprio. Women adore him; uncool.
  • Leonardo diCaprio explodes: Cool!

Another example:
  • President of the Republic of Indonesia: Powerful. Cool!
  • Vice President: Useless. Also cool!

Last month, me and my partner found one such product. It's called--and I'm not kidding--"Grow a Lover". The tagline sums it all, "If you don't have a lover, grow one." It's available in two versions: male and female. And it boasts of capability to "grow up to 600% of original size".

I know what you're thinking: instant boobjob, right?

Well, yeah, I've thought about experimenting with it firsthand. And maybe try to grow only certain body parts, if you know what I mean. However, it's not that simple.


It doesn't say how long it's going to take. I suspect it won't be that instant. But why speculate when we can try it out?



And my suspicion is right. So far the lover just stays there, on the bottom of the glass. Let's see what will happen in a few days. If we get lucky, it'll explode.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Postcards From Gods

Suppose all mythical gods still existed today. What kind of correspondence or public announcements they'd have made?



Dear People of Bandung,

I'm sorry about last night's power outtage because of severe thunderstrikes. I slipped while aiming for Nigeria. My mailbox is flooded by Nigerian royalties who want to endow me with their fortunes. I am Thor, Thordammit. No mortal endows me anything.

Electrifyingly,
--Thor

Dear Single Mothers of Jakarta,

Should your baby show any idiosyncrasies, especially the capability of picking up and hurling some large objects--such as books, plates, or cars--please contact us immediately.

--Human Relationship Manager for Zeus

PS: And welcome to the family.


Personal Ad: Centuries-mature, charming male divinity looking for young, attractive women for a temporal relationship. You don't have to be rich to be my girl. I don't have to be cool to rule your world. All it needs is my extra time and your kiss.


To Whom It May Concern,

We're concerned about the lack of moral issues that one of the gods has demonstrated through the use of personal ads, which--and we emphasize--practiced no self-constraints of copyright infringements on our client's song.

We do not wish this brutal case of lawless behaviors to exemplify godly behaviors. Therefore we seek justice in the sum of three wishes under human contracts. No terms and conditions apply.

On behalf of the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince,
---Bill & Ted & Associates.


To: divinebeings@googlegroups.com
From: numberone@godsonearth.com
Subject: Yo

Does anydivine know who and where is this formerly prince guy? I want to turn him into a newt, but I need directions. All male mortals look the same to me. Turned one's face to look like an ape. But apparently it's the wrong guy.

Divinely yours,
--Big Z

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thumbs Up For The Committee...

...of Indonesian Pesta Blogger 2007 (literally, pesta = party). When one faces the responsibilities to organize hundreds of bloggers--who, by nature, aren't exactly easy to be organized--one's first reaction might be to arm oneself with an arsenal of antiterrorist weaponry. But all of you managed to do so while still keeping the atmosphere fun. And real.

And that's what's blogging all about. Keeping it real. But also keeping it fun. The latter is one of the most important trait that may be another Indonesia's advantage over other countries.[1] A lot of us blog for fun. Which is why communities form easily, based on similar interests: because we're having much more fun from sharing it with others.

But that may also be our disadvantages. This is why most of our blogs are just arrays of dull, random personal thoughts. Or day-to-day events. Things that are only fun and interesting for the writers. But not the readers. Only few of us have been able to combine our interests with others, in fields such as online marketing, current issues, technology, comedy, to enlighting voices regarding--in the words of Douglas Adams--life, the universe, and everything.

And I'm hoping in the next few years, the percentage will increase. Not just the quantity of the blogs, but also the quality of the content. I myself would like to see more Indonesian humor blogs (and written in English), popping up on the Net.

Let's drink to that!

________________

[1]: Another great advantage is the support from our own government. Muhammad Nuh, The Minister of Information and Communication, attended the event and declared 27 October as the National Blogger Day. Cahyana, The ICT Application General Director, also stated their vision of increasing the number of Indonesian bloggers to one million. One of their programs is endorsing teachers (about 2 millions of people) to blog.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Ultimate Question of Life Answered

What is the Center of Fashion?



A dull hairdo.


__________________

Thanks to Mad Machinist, who spotted the sign in Hadyaai, Thailand.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Clean, Transparent and Professional

These are three things that the Jakartan Higher Education Directorate promises... and won't be present on their official site. The link will bring you to their "Education News of Jakarta City" in which they wrote, "This column just to news Top in around education."

They should've renamed their tagline as "Currently Looking Up the Meaning of Clean, Transparent and Professional--Eh? What's a Dicksheeonary?"


On a brighter note, "Data of Destruction Ijazah (literally means: Certificate)" sounds like a good name for a Indonesian horror flick.


Words of Wisdom for the Day (courtesy of the site): "Do not seldom Bang Margani ( Chummy Greeting ) often stir to collect info education world , and surely library do not be overcome . Such as those which in tracing by Editor dikmentidki.go.id."

I'm sure I've got a fortune cookie once which said the same thing. I'll have to make sure not to be overcome by libraries, then.

____________

Thanks to Haris.

One Reason to Attend the Next Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

You'll catch one of the festival unique highlights. Such as this.



The above incident occured during the panel titled "Something to Say", featuring four columnists: Made Wijaya, Shashi Tharoor, Nury Vittachi and Julia Suryakusuma. Deepika Shetty moderated the discussion. The audience could also enjoy a glass of complimentary arak. Enough to fire you up but far from enough to loosen up. So all happened without any chemical influences whatsoever.

In short, Made Wijaya was boring the audience with his long-winded speech and reading. Since Made wouldn't even stop after a couple of hints (Nury pretended to snore, for one), Nury went for more drastic measures with Julia.

And even after all that, Made kept reading.

For the full story, you can read the South China Post article in Nury's blog, or Deepika's post.

Nury's take on the discussion may be the ultimate conclusion of the topic, "[A column]'s not about you. It's about your readers." About the courage to represent readers, Nury himself claimed that he had been sacked six times and sued nine times. Shashi interjected, "And the tenth would be from Julia's husband."

Nury related a story in early 1997, when the Chinese people were concerned about the health of Deng Xiaoping, at the time the leader of Communist Party of China. The government issued an official statement, "Deng Xiaoping's condition is normal for a man of his age." In reaction, Nury wrote in his column, "The normal condition for a 92-year-old man is DEATH." And fate showed that it has a sense of irony. Not long after that, Deng Xiaoping passed away. And so Nury got himself into some troubles.

He finished on this note, "A column isn't just a privilege. It's something that you must use, to get sacked or sued for."

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Writers' Cabaret

Night events during the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) 2007 were creams of the crops. All of them are packed with high doses of fun. Even when I was one of the performers.

No, I'm not being humble. Like the Israeli politician Golda Meir said, "Don't be humble. You're not that great." Honestly, some of us write because we know that we're not good in anything else. So when I was told to perform at the Writer's Cabaret, my first natural reaction was shouting, "Are you NUTS!?"

Thank God they informed me by email.

So I read the event brief. It said, "Writers sometimes harbor secret skills..." Well, that's good, I thought. At least, after my performance, the audience will realize that some skills are better off when they remain secrets.

I reread the schedule. I was told to perform one of my flash fiction stories. A fable about a goat who became a stand-up comedian. Uh oh. Don't get me wrong. I love the story. And I enjoy speaking in public. But performing is a different kind of ball game. To make things worse, the last time I performed a story was during elementary school days. And during those times, the audience were parents, who are--by nature--easy to please.

Trust me, talk to the nearest parents. They'll squeal and smile broadly everytime they describe how their kids "can say 'poo'" or "fall over from the bed" or "stab his mother with a fork." Parents have expectations as low as sinetron audiences.

However, I'll be performing at a cafe. There will be REAL audiences. And on 20:30 at that. Those people will still be sober!

I shared my concerns to the host, Nury Vitacchi. He waved it off, saying, "Don't worry. You'll be performing in front of writers. We're like one big family."

He shouldn't have said that. I mean, it was a nice gesture. But he didn't know that I come from a Sundanese family. And Sundanese family members support each other by putting them down. We have this crazy notion that we can prepare anybody for failures, by humiliating them beforehand. And afterwards. And many years after that.

I'm not kidding. I can't speak proper Sundanese because when I wrote a Sundanese story at the age of seven, they read it out loud in front of the whole family, guffawing at every sentence. I lost interest in Sundanese and started learning English, which eventually got me here. A simple "ironic" can't describe how I feel about that.

Back to the problem at hand, I turned to Labibah Zain, an experienced theater performer, for help. She's worked with more theaters than the number of times I've performed a play. After several discussions, I finally got some confidence to do it. I've worked on the script. Practiced the expression. Even incorporated some of Miles Merrill's voice acting into the play. So I stepped into Mozaic, ready to face the challenge. Only to be told, "You're supposed to be at the Jazz Cafe."

Fortunately, every venue in Ubud is "near".

It was still forty minutes early when I got to Jazz Cafe. And that was when Nury relayed the bad news. "I think we need to scrap the play. The audience won't listen to you reading a script."

"Ohkay," was the only intelligible thing that could come from my mouth.

"How about stories?" suggested Nury. "You're a very good storyteller. Why don't you just tell some stories about being a writer or something?"

I was torn between jumping in joy, "Really? I could just do a stand-up?" and slapping my head, "With fresh materials in forty minutes?"

"Well, it's up to you, y'know," shrugged Nury. "If you prefer reading the story--"

"No, no, no," I said. That got my mind made up. So I spent the next forty minutes frantically trying to come up with a good fiver. Naturally, I spent the next thirty minutes writing rubbish. And then finally came up with the materials at the last ten.

Tara June Winch, a wonderful Wollongong-born writer who won the David Unaipon 2004 award for her short story collection, Swallow the Air, gave me a supportive company while I rehearsed my material. "I can see your nervous vapors coming out of your head," she said.

Manuka Wijesinghe went first. A talented playwright, writer, actress, dancer, teacher, Manuka's also a linguist fluent in English, Spanish and German. Thankfully, she's very down-to-earth in person and easy to talk to.



She danced the traditional Sri Lankan way with grace. (One of the crowd in the background seemed unimpressed--but I suspect that woman, who wore a pink dress, ate a fly. And not by chance.)


My turn was next. My five-minute bit was about a free, fantastic offer of cultural tourism: just crash a muslim wedding party. I focused on three traits that they could learn. Punctuality, for instance, "Suppose the wedding vows were scheduled at nine AM, to be punctual you'd have to be there exactly at ten." Upon delivering the third trait ("The success of a wedding vow depends on three things..."), I spotted a caucasian man took notes. I hope he didn't take that advice too seriously.


Afterwards, Shashi Tharoor, the charismatic diplomat and writer whom Nury introduced as one of our planet's greatest treasures, killed the audience with his stand-up jokes about UN and world issues.


Then came Cyril Wong's turn. This courageous poet and counter-tenor uses his works and performances to fight for gay rights in Singapore. He's also a practical person who isn't shy of laughing at himself. After singing his first song, he said, "Now, I'm going to do my drag-queen number." And then proceeded to sing Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. He managed to do it effortlessly.


Up next, was Angelo Suarez. A performing poet who loves his advertising job. No, scratch that. He's very passionate about advertising, as much as a cannibal to meat. His performances are often arts in themselves. And he likes to involve his audience in his acts. Not this time, though. He knew the audience would be impossible to involve in. And the stage was very limited, he couldn't do much with it. So he just performed one of his poems... and banged his head several times to the wooden pillar so hard, I was afraid the roof were going to collapse.


Far from least was Ann Lee and Kam Raslan, two Malaysian writers who brought along a professional comic who got onto the stage as the Malaysian Minister of Culture, Arts, and Heritage, YB Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim. The Minister gave a speech on why the next Ubud Writers and Festival should be held in Kualalumpur. He also gave examples how open-minded Malaysians are. He, for instance, loves to absorb other cultures. He said, "So when I visited countries like Australia and was offered beer, I absorbed it."

Afterwards, it was free-for-all dance floor. Although the Jakartan rush hour traffic was more like it. It got so crowded, somebody bumped and spilled beer on my right shoulder.

"You're awfully sweaty, Man," said somebody whom I can't recall. And it was no use explaining, as if he figured I were dancing by only flailing my right arm around. Which would've been a novel dance move. I should call it the "Crashing 'Copter."

But if you actually use it at a muslim wedding party, don't mention my name.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Art of Satire

At Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, I was one of the panelists for "The Art of Satire." The other two was Kam Raslan and Manuka Wijesinghe. Nury Vitacchi moderated the discussion.


Since the topic involved humor writers, the room was full. All panelists started with their five to ten minutes of monologue, on how they got their satirist voice. The discussion started afterwards.

Kam told a lot of interesting stories about Malaysian politics, including snippets from his friend's book, Malaysian Politicians Say the Darnedest Things. His first novel, Confessions of an Old Boy, is also a satire look at Malaysia.

Manuka related a witty observation about Sri Lanka's culture. One example is how their Buddhist philosophies don't seem to go along with the facts that so many people ended up dead for speaking up. Her first novel, Moonsoons and Potholes, is a satire look at Sri Lankan culture, through the eyes of its characters.

While I opened with the piece about angers, goverment and politicians (transcript below).

When the topic reached the issue about government censorship, Nury joined in by telling his experiences when he was asked to speak in front of Lee Kuan Yeuw, at that time was known as the Minister who was too serious. He was warned by the ministers' aide that, "Please don't use jokes! Not good." Nury went and told some jokes anyway. By the end of the event, the aide approached him and said, "Thank you! Great jokes! Minister Lee laughed twice!"

The audience roared in laughter. But Nury convinced them that it was a bad thing. "I did 200 jokes and he only laughed twice!" However, the media, which got the news, quickly bloated it up and described Nury as, "The man who made Lee Kuan Yeuw laughed."

"Twice," I added.

The following was my opening monologue.

_________________

I may differ from the other panelists in the forms of satire I wrote. I write humor essays and flash fiction. To some of you who’re not yet familiar with flash fiction, it’s basically a shorter than short fiction. Which is why some call it short shorts, micro, mini, or bite-sized fiction.

I read somewhere that the Chinese has a name for it as well, that literally means cigar-long stories. So the story finishes at the time the cigar burns right to the stub. This is an interesting definition. Because Hemingway once wrote a flash fiction which consists of six words. We can read it in five seconds. I’d love to see someone try smoking a cigar that fast.

So how do writers find their satirist voice?

Traditionally, writers derive their satirist voice from angers (or other deep emotions). We channel these angers as source of inspirations. Jonathan Swift, for instance, used his anger to write "A Modest Proposal," in which he proposed that the poor eat their children to fight hunger while at the same time reducing the number of poor people. Two flies at one swat.

However, we need to distinguish what kind of angers that we can channel into our satirist voice. Let’s face it, if we’re furious about the time when we got a fly in our soup, writing a satire about it won’t exactly inspire any change.

With that said, we also need a vision of change. At the very least, we could envision where the current situation will lead to a major downfall. And then, we can work on the idea.

For instance, after 1998, Indonesian people suddenly got into this euphoria of freedom and democracy. After more than thirty years getting suppressed, we suddenly found ourselves able to say almost anything. In almost any kind of ways. As long as we outnumbered our opposition. So we might feel like it was democracy. When in fact it was a bit like moderated anarchy (which is a contradiction in terms). Because everyone disagreed with each other and didn’t want to listen to each other, at all.

Political parties formed. One hundred and eighty one of them. And they kept splitting on a whim. Hence we got the Indonesian Democratic Party, the Opposition of Indonesian Democratic Party, the Opposition of the Opposition of Indonesian Democratic Party, and so on.

So at that time I wrote a flash fiction story about a male human body that reaches a new height of awareness. Suddenly, every limb got tired of listening to the brain and decided to act on their own free will, autonomously. The ears would shut down anytime they didn’t like what they hear. And they disliked everything. Especially what the mouth was saying. The left hand voiced a protest, because they claimed they did all the work, while the penis got all the pleasure. This brings a new definition of "penis envy." Even the fingers decided to go separate ways. So everything was chaotic. Nobody—-no pun intended-—listened to each other or realized their common goals or even needs. Even when they were all cornered with deprivation of food, they still wouldn’t cooperate. So in the end, the whole body died.

So, usually, the type of angers that I can use to produce satire involves government and politics. Humorist Will Rogers once said that it’s easy to write humor since you have the government do the work for you.

Government officials, for instance, make my day. Just a month ago, some of you may have noticed a particular news story. The mayor of Indramayu-—a city in West Java-—was enraged when a couple of students made an amateurish porn clip, and somehow it got distributed on the net. He immediately stated that every female student in Indramayu had to undergo a virginity test. I failed to see the logic in that. I have no idea what kind of academic achievement he wanted to endorse by building a list of virgins.

At such occassions, I usually write an open letter to mass media (or at the very least in my blog). In this case, I suggested that we fully support the Mayor decision. And to help him do it, I devised a fail-safe, comprehensive Virginity Test. By way of multiple choices.

One example question:


Suppose you got lost for days in a desert. On your last bit of strength, you found an oasis. You dragged yourself to the fresh water and drank it. How did it taste?

a. Like water.
b. Like great sex.
c. Like the virginity that I’ve been keeping.

Comprehensive and fail-safe.

I’ve sent this letter to several media, but none published it. Maybe they’re still testing it to their employees. I don't know.

Oh, and I particularly love Indonesian politicians. They say the darnedest things. Next year, Indonesia will face another period of presidential election campaigns. That will be interesting for a humor writer.

I remember that one of the 2004 presidential candidates, whom I’ll refer with the codename Double-H, once told the papers that, "If you want to know how many wives I have, just check my CV."

He put the number of his wives on his curriculum vitae.

Now why didn’t I think of that? This guy is genius. I mean, he must’ve made it to the top because of it. I’d really love to do that. Not the having many wives part. I’ve got only one. And I’m happy as it is. Primarily because she’s capable enough to kill me if I say otherwise.

What I mean is putting a large number of wives as a data in my CV. I can just imagine how these will put me into the top spot in various areas. A hostage situation, for example. A group of bank robbers've got some customers on gunpoint. They demand an impossible ransom. We obviously need somebody to negotiate with them.

This is where I step in.

"Sorry, Sir," the police in charge will try to stop me. "With all due respect, but who the hell do you think you are? This is a serious matter."

I’ll just flash my CV. "Have you seen how many wives I have? Take a good look, then. Yes, that’s right. I have twenty wives. And I’m here alive and standing. If that doesn’t make me a helluva negotiator, I don’t know what will."

But let’s return to the topic at hand. In short, what I do isn’t finding the voice. The voice itself is a result of my own reaction (or emotion) towards what happen in the world around me. What I need to do is just discerning in what kind of way I can channel these emotions. Sometimes it’s satire. Other times it may be irony or sarcasm or whatever.

And I have to emphasize that it’s not an entirely conscious decision. Sometimes you’re just compelled to do something. And as a writer, my natural reaction is writing it down.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

UWRF Report: In Conversation with Hamid Basyaib

The conference started with a bang.

During the very first panel at Indus, Debra Yatim talked with Hamid Basyawib about his organization, Liberal Islamic Network (Jaringan Islam Liberal or JIL for short), and why it incites many things among Indonesian Islamic communities—-warmth is definitely not one of them. More like burning heat.

Hamid himself is a prolific writer and has edited about 30 books. He wrote humor, religious, and social columns. He also shows both a great and brave sense of humor—since it involves a sensitive issue: religion.

For instance, he once threw a question in one of his columns, "Why did God choose a single male representative for spreading the way of life, when he could do it more effectively by speaking on a platform, in a stadium, during the World Cup final?"

Hamid noted that in Indonesia, "liberal" is a dirty word. A dominant muslim figure once advised him that [the muslim communities] have no problem with JIL views. "But could you please drop ‘liberal’ from its name?"

"What’s your opinion on more and more Indonesian women who start wearing jilbabs?" asked Debra. Instead of giving a straight answer, Hamid revealed an interesting history: jilbab, scarf, or anything similar in function was actually prestigious clothing. When people began flocking to the Prophet Muhammad’s house for guidance, they formed long queues. Mostly were men. And some of them flirted around with the Prophet’s youngest wife, Siti Aisyah. Then came the divine instruction for Aisyah to wrap herself in the most nonrevealing clothes.

Most of the women were jealous of what they considered as a special attention. So they asked permission from the Prophet to wear the same clothes. And then they did the same. So it was more like a prestigious trend at the time. Fashion. Copylefted designer clothing labels, endorsed by the Almighty. Hamid emphasized how we should view instances such as these along with the related condition at the time.

Debra asked Hamid what about the negative voices about how JIL promotes secularism? Hamid responded by saying that most muslims who brag about previous Islam’s contribution towards science, such as maths and optical lenses, didn’t bother to check that those scientists were actually secularists. Islam’s influence became prominent in the world when scientific advancement went hand-in-hand with cultural advancement. However, Islamic countries nowadays cling stubbornly to the practices of the past.

He ended the talk with the focus on de-Arabization of Islam. When asked what was his reaction when confronted by the majority of Indonesian muslim communities that the Liberal Islamic Network views reflect the West point of view, Hamid replied, "Maybe because Islam is also the religion of the West. And North. And South."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Report: The Opening Gala

Continuing from my last post, I was saved by a simple fact: the inn was actually only three buildings away from the internet cafe. I'm not kidding. When I walked out of it, I intended to return to Ubud Palace, and there it was. The sign glowered mockingly, "Yulia."

There. I wrote it. So if I ever forgot it again, I could just connect online and read it.

Back to the report. The Ubud Readers and Writers Festival Opening Gala was something. I’m still not exactly sure what. But it was definitely something.

The thing is, I couldn’t see a thing. The event was packed. I was standing about four lines behind the the rear end of the seats. And everyone in front of me was about twenty centimeters (equals to a hundred feet, or a trillion inches—-hey, if you don’t know metrics, why do you assume me knowing your system) taller. So I relied on play-by-play commentaries from the crowd.

For instance, Janet De Neefe, the Festival Director, looked fabulous in her outfit. And if the sponsorship list got any longer, they might have to cancel the entire festival, because we all would’ve still been standing there, listening to the MC pronouncing it one…
by...
one...
until the end of the week. These are, of course, the results of the Festival Manager, Finley Smith's and the Sponsorship Director, Karen McClellan's hard work.

The canapes were great. Or so they said. Because I was fasting. And by the time I broke my fast, all I could get was a bottle of Sprite and a kebab consisted of a shred of paprika, mushroom, and pineapple.

Yum.

The Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, finally graced the festival with his presence. From what I heard, he graciously missed the previous three. When he addressed the audience, somebody in the crowd actually shouted, "Jero!" I knew that ministers always bring (or drag) their own PR posses. But that was the first time I knew there’s a cheerleader as well—-which I think is very cultural. ("Gimme a ‘J’! Gimme an ‘E’! Gimme an... uhh, what’s that letter after ‘Q’?")

And the event peaked with the art performances of Sekala-Niskala, which is the theme of this year’s festival. It literally means The Seen and The Unseen.

Unfortunately, I’d only been able to watch the latter.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ubud Readers and Writers Festival: Chaotic Host

This is why they shouldn't have appointed a humor writer as the ghost host: things never go well with one.

The first day I arrived here, I've already made two classic travel mistakes:


  1. I forgot to adjust my watch

  2. So when I finished examining the programme schedule and decided to rent a mountain bike to scout around, I realized that fact a bit too late. The clock showed five past four. And it was one hour late. While the gala festival opening was scheduled at five o'clock.

    To put it short: whoever made the world record of changing clothes--I've beaten you down.

  3. When I asked one of the locals for directions to Ubud Place--where the gala would be--she pointed right and said, "Just go straight. It's near." And I actually believed her.

  4. Apparently, the concept of "near" around Ubud is between 100 meters and 100 gazillion kilometers. By the time I arrived there, I already qualified as an olympic torch-bearer.

So much for ghost host. It didn't help that when I got there, I knew practically nobody. And for the next half an hour, I'd only been successful at being the first part of the phrase. A ghost.

Luckily, I met Kam Raslan, who had the grace to put on his nametag. So I didn't have to make a fool of myself by greeting, "Hi, Kim!" He also brought his lovely wife, who apparently didn't have a nametag--so I'll refrain from referring her name in this post.

I told him my story and he asked a genuine question, "So where do you stay?"

"Uhhh," I blanked out. "I actually forgot."

"So how will you return there?" he asked in amazement.

"Well, it is 'near'," I said, laughing.

And once again, I had to eat those words. Because I had been secretly hoping that I could find the inn by its characteristics. It looks just like a small inn from outside, but next to the entrance, there's a car passage that leads to a broader area.

Apparently, ALL inns at Monkey Forest Ubud are like that. So I got lost. I couldn't find it. And lo and behold, I found this internet cafe' instead. So as a professional humor writer, I did what I should: asking for help online.

HELP! Please inform the committee that I'm lost around Monkey Forest Ubud street. And if they spot a trail of sweat, I must be near.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Se7en (In Five Minutes)



Bumpy rides, major spoilers, and bad pun ahead.




Seven of them, to be exact.



MONDAY
Sergeant Mills enters the crime scene. Something in the house reeks so much, he has to cover his nose.

Mills:
Lieutenant Somerset?

Somerset:
Yes. Who’s asking?

Mills:
I’m Detective Sergeant Mills. Your replacement.

Somerset:
Oh, good. Then you can start replacing me holding this bucket.

Mills:
Sure—OH GOD! What is this?

Somerset:
It’s a bucket of phlegm. What else? The victim sneezed himself to death.

Mills:
Why did you call him "the victim"? This may be a suicide case.

Somerset:
Would you inhale sneezing powder for weeks just to kill yourself slowly?

Mills:
Sure! Uh, if I have good reasons for it.

Somerset:
Would stupidity be good enough?

Mills:
Of course!

Somerset:
I rest my case. Anyway, we’ll see what the forensics say about this. But I have a bad feeling about this.

TUESDAY
Somerset approaches Mills and The Captain. He slams some crime-scene photos on the desk.

Somerset:
See? Another victim.

Mills:
What victim? Witnesses said that the guy kept being a real jerk towards a waitress until she slashed his throat.

Somerset:
Yes. But that doesn’t explain the word on the rug, written with blood, "GRUMPY."

Their Captain (Whose Name Is Not Even Important):
Maybe the waitress wrote it.

Somerset:
No, she didn’t. It appeared after the scene. Somebody used all the panic and confusion as cover and calmly wrote that word. Using the victim’s blood. We have a calm and calculating serial murderer.

Their Captain (Whose Name Is Not Even Important):
Serial murder? It’s only a manslaughter case.

Somerset:
Look what I found on the yesterday’s scene of a crime. This word was hidden behind the cabinet, "SNEEZY."

Somerset raises both photos.

Somerset:
Sneezy. Then Grumpy.

Mills:
You mean...

Somerset:
Yes. There are seven dwarfs in the Snow White story. Gentlemen, expect more murders coming up soon.

WEDNESDAY
At another crime scene.

Mills:
Somerset, you’re right! Somebody tied this poor man to a bed and ducttaped his eyelids so he couldn’t sleep for weeks. He died of sleepiness.

Somerset:
Sleepy. This is getting ridiculous.

THURSDAY
Yet another crime scene.

Mills:
Now this one died from laughters—-somebody tickled him to death.

Somerset:
Happy? A forced laughter is not happiness. He was forcing this. He knows we’re on his tail. We’re very close to him.

FRIDAY
At the police station. Somerset and Mills were just going upstairs.

John Doe:
Detectives! I was wondering how could somebody enter a police station with blood stains all over his arms and still have to shout to get proper attention.

Somerset:
Oh, the guys here like to do that kind of practical jokes. Walking around, carrying severed heads from their previous crime scenes. Look, there’s Paul doing that now.

Paul:
Hey, Somerset! You should’ve seen the look on that passers-by when I said, "Oh, I just love to keep a-head of things." HAHAHAHA!

John Doe:
...
Anyway, I want to turn myself in.

Mills:
What are you planning, you scum!

John Doe:
Under one condition: you two will accompany me tomorrow to get the other two victims.

Somerset:
Two? Aren’t you stopping a bit short?

Police officer:
Lieutenant Somerset, they’ve found another victim. The wall was painted with the word, "DOC."

Somerset:
Doc? How did he die?

John Doe:
Easy. I injected the good doctor with sugary water. But I told him that it was something fatal so he had to diagnose and cure himself.

Somerset:
Lemme guess, he then overdosed himself with antibiotics?

John Doe:
Yes. You are quite clever.

Mills:
But then what about the blood in this freak's hands?

Somerset:
Since it’s not of our friend Doe, it must come from one of the victims. I guess we’ll go along with you.

John Doe:
Good. Let’s go, then. Only the two of you.

SATURDAY
The three of them rode in a black car.

Mills:
Why the Seven Dwarfs, huh? You’re a Disney freak?

John Doe:
That’s the problem with you people. The Grimm Brothers traveled around the world collecting tales from various continents. Then capitalist pigs such as Disney took them and dare to claim them as their copyrights. And all of you just swallow it whole.

Mills:
And that’s why you killed those innocents?

John Doe:
How could you call those people innocents and still keep a straight face? Wait a minute, you actually didn’t intend to...? I guess acting is not really your forte, huh, Brad?

Mills:
Oh, shut up! As if your stealing Anthony Hopkins’s gestures weren’t equally obvious, Kevin.

John Doe:
I’d love to quarrel but we’ve arrived. Now, Lieutenant Somerset, could you please pick up the package from that truck while Sergeant Mills keeps me guarded? It’s not such a suspicious setup, isn’t it?

Somerset:
(shrugs)
Guess not. Okay, then. I’ll leave you two alone.
(accepts the package.)

John Doe:
Now that we’re alone, lemme tell you how I enjoy visiting your life partner, Tracy, yesterday.

Mills:
What!?

John Doe:
But Tracy was very bashful. I had to force myself to be accepted.

Mills:
You didn’t!

John Doe:
I took a little souvenir... Tracy’s pretty head.

Somerset opens the package and is taken aback.

Somerset:
Holy Mother of...

Somerset hurriedly races back.

Somerset (con'td):
Mills! No! Mills!

Mills:
What? What’s in that box? Is it Tracy?

Somerset
Don’t do it, Mills.

John Doe:
That was what Tracy kept telling me as well. Begging also for the life of the unborn baby.

Mills:
Baby? You’re telling me Tracy’s pregnant?

John Doe:
Oh, he didn’t know. Hahahaha.

Somerset
Don't even think about it, Mills.

Mills:
Hahahahahaha.

Somerset
Don’t do it, DON'T DO IT! If you do, he’ll win.

Mills:
Hahahahahaha. I can’t help myself, Somerset. He said that Tracy’s pregnant.

Somerset
STOP IT!

John Doe:
What’s so funny, Sergeant?

Mills:
Tracy’s a he, fool!

Somerset shakes his head.

John Doe:
A he? Wait. You live on apartment VI, right?

Mills:
No, it’s XI.

Somerset groans. He covers his eyes with his right hand, unable to look.

John Doe:
I’ve got the wrong person?
.
.
.
I feel so stupid. So idiotic. So... dopey. I’m Dopey. Thank you, Sergeant Mills. Now I can die by biting my tongue.

John Doe dies.

Mills:
Dang! He got us all along. His Seven Dwarfs murders are now complete.

Somerset:
Don’t worry, the audience will sympathize with you. Given your position, nobody could resist that urge.

Mills:
Of course they will. That felt good!

Somerset:
You know, Hemingway once said, that "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

Mills:
Whaddya mean?

Somerset:
Nothing. I’m just glad to see you’re happy.

Mills:
The feeling’s mutual, old man.

END.

______________________________

Previously, In Five Minutes: Bourne Supremacy.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Oxymoron or Redundant?

Gay bomb.

I never knew Pentagon is such a kidder. It's like the class clown with an Uzi. And speaking of weapons, apparently Gay Bomb isn't the only non-lethal arsenal Pentagon tried to develop. Laughing Bullet, for one. These bullets would inject their targets with chemicals to make them laugh. I guess Pentagon designed this one for Congress.

The next one is the chemical that causes bad breath. This way, the proposal states, we could identify bad guys easier. But how do we know it's the bad guy we're poisoning? This sounds like a bad stereotyping for me. "His breath stinks."
"Oh, that means he's a bad guy. Let's pretend we don't know him."

Here's an idea for you, kids: inject a school jock with it, and observe the serenity caused by him keeping quiet for the rest of the day (or month).


The Fool's Thought of The Day

"Mosquito is the Nature's way of saying, "Try that positive-thinking crap on this!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Comprehensive Virginity Test for Our Mayor

To help our honorable mayor in Indramayu do his work to maintain peace and order, I say we devise a test that can accurately tell whether a person is a virgin or not. This test will use the most accurate method ever invented for Indonesian educational system. This test will use the same design that help decide the future of millions of highschool students.

Yes. This test will use multiple choices.

I can sense your neverending admiration. But let's move on to the test.


  1. What is your favorite color?
    a. Red
    b. Uhm, I'm not sure. Red?
    c. Red, because I'm a virgin

  2. You were lost in the desert for hours. At the end of your strength, you found an oasis. You drank the water. How did it taste?
    a. Like great sex.
    b. Like water.
    c. Like the virginity that I've been keeping.

  3. Can you spell "Virginity"?
    a. D-U-L-L
    b. C-H-O-I-C-E
    c. I-T-'-S M-E

  4. Suppose you videorecorded yourself having sex and then accidentally handed it to the wrong person. Suddenly it was all on the Net. What did you learn?
    a. I should've used higher quality videos
    b. I should've lived nowhere near Indonesia
    c. I should say at this point that I'm a virgin

  5. Are you a virgin?
    a. Like Britney Spears.
    b. Depends on your definition of a "virgin"
    c. Yes.


There you have it! The solution to your virginity-determination problem, dear Mayor. And don't thank me. This is what a good citizen should do. Supporting our elected officials, instead of blindly critizing them.

No Wonder Everybody Wants to be a Mayor

One can demand to check the virginity of 3,500 female students.[1]

According to the article, the mayor was ticked off by the emergence of an amateurish porn clip starring two Indramayu's[2] highschool students. And he immediately ordered to conduct a virginity inspection for every highschool in the region. Apparently, the mayor is an avid supporter of Don't Be Nude on Screen Campaign.

On the other hand, "Virginity Inspection" sounds like a good name for an Indonesian flick.


UPDATE:
According to Tempo's interview on Irianto MS Syafiuddin, Indramayu's Mayor, he cancels the plan of virginity testing because of the huge protests it incited.

Note: To all the guys who're still queuing to be the testers, please go home.

So much for the Comprehensive Virginity Test, then.
___________

1: The link will take you to a news article in Bahasa. The title literally means "Indramayu's Mayor Inspects 3,500 (Female) Students' Virginity."

2: A region in West Java.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Couch Potato Workout for Guys

(Note: As requested by Vina, the self-proclaimed Crazy Doctor, here's the article I wrote in 2000 for a lifestyle site.)

Don’t you just love self-explanatory titles? A couple of gym friends and I invented a set of exercises you can do at home, in front of your TV. If you’re one of those workaholics that couldn’t sit still through your leisure time, this could help as well. Don’t forget to do some stretching first. You know the drills, you were in high school. But leave out anything that couldn’t be done while sitting down. Having fun while sitting down is the whole idea.


  • Tension Cushion
    Sit upright on your couch with both feet planted together. Put a cushion between your knees and squeeze. Do three sets of 10 repetitions. This will work the inner thighs and the muscles surrounding your knees, helping to prevent tendon problems in the knees.

    Perfect to do while watching horror movies or comedies that put the characters in stick-up situations. We know how annoying it is to watch mindless characters srewing up their lives or girls in revealing outfits getting away from being chopped up (and, of course, failing).


  • Soda Fonda
    You need at least a can of soda. Two are perfect. Hold both cans straight out and, by bending one arm; raise a can up to your shoulder. Return to original position, and then do the same with the other arm. Feel the strength of your biceps by doing three sets of 10 repetitions. For the last set do extra two or five curls.

    Grand Prix or badminton matches are good choices to watch. The cans would be well shaken enough for later celebrations. But don’t throw out the empty cans. You’ll need them later.


  • Channeling Arms
    Hold your remote control at arms length while flicking through the boring channels. Do it for 5 minutes for the first time. Increase weight, by tying something to the remote, and duration gradually. These will work shoulder muscles.

    Try to do them on a Sunday Afternoon when there’s nothing to watch for hours. Having cable will be perfect. More channels to browse.


  • Ball Squeeze
    It isn’t as painful as it sounds. Put a tennis ball or anything similar in the palm of your hand and squeeze for about two seconds. Do three sets of 10 repetitions, alternately between each hand. The exercise is good for your finger strength and suppleness, as well as helping relieve the stress from too much button-mashing on the remote control or your Playstation pad.

    Which is why it's best done right after Channeling Finger. Try flipping the channel to some irritating shows, like soap operas or Family 100 to get an extra energy to squeeze.


  • Knee Lift
    Fill a small bag with weights, like books, and hang it over your ankle. Lift foot and straighten the leg at the knee. Point toes towards your body and feel the pull. To increase difficulty, put your feet together and lift both.

    This workout increases lower body suppleness as well as knee and hamstring flexibility. Can help reduce risk of arthritis later on. Flip on to English Premiere League, Series A, or even the national league live football matches, and feel the emotional bond with your team. You'll curse less often when you share the pain.


  • Death Crush
    Here’s when your empty cans come in handy. Now place them between palms in front of your chest. Crush them. And feel the pectoral muscles in your chest building. Too bad we don’t have a recycling center. You could burn calories by dragging your butt to the center with the stash.

    The perfect movies to watch are any Leonardo diCaprio’s. You'll crunch the cans automatically.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And You're Saying The Prison System Doesn't Work?





If you're wondering: in the video, more than a thousand inmates of the Philippine Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) practiced their spoof of Michael Jackson's Thriller. Their movements were beautifully (and I'm using this term very loosely) in synch with every sounds.

If you can't play the video. Just go to the clip page at YouTube directly.

Pop quiz:
Did the guy who played Michael's zombie actually apply any makeup?
a. Yes.
b. No.
c. What are you talking about? That is Michael Jackson!

_________

Thanks to Wahyudi Pratama.

Link for comparison: Actual Thriller video clip at YouTube.

Think for Future! Best for Forward!

No, it's not a national call for Engrish e-mail forwarders. Those lines are actual theme song lyrics from the Don't Be Nude on Screen Campaign.

And I'm not kidding.

Scriptwriter Sonny Setiawan was the guy who thought up the campaign as a solution for "better Indonesia". He wrote in his manifesto that there have been 500 (amateurish and candid) Indonesian porn video clips distributed freely on the Net.

My first reaction to this was: Darn! I've only got fifteen clips. I'm missing out a lot.

Ninety percent of these 500 clips, Sonny said, were made by college and high school students. He didn't say where the percentage came from. Maybe he did full research, you know, in the name of swift (or should I say "slick"?) action.


The official logo, literally means "Do Not (Be) Naked (in) Front (of a) Camera," despite the fact that it portrays a binocular/sniper scope point of view, and more likely to be a "Beware of Peeping Toms!" campaign.


The theme song was performed by a band called noodLes. During the end of the song, a girl delivers the manifesto, which ends in a declaration that's worth quoting, "For our future and the better of the world, we promise that we won't be naked on the screen!"

Yes. People who should keep their clothes on for the sake of the world. We all know some people who fit in that category.

Here's the link to the song. And below is the complete lyric of the theme song. Best for Forward!



Title : Don’t be Nude on Screen
Lyric: Tito
Song: Tito


Don’t be nude on screen
Think for future, best for forward
Don’t be nude on screen
Please don’t break your soul

Gejolak yang bakar jiwamu
Rubuhkan dirimu
Keindahan pesonamu
Hanya untuk cintamu

Jangan sampai kau hitamkan
Ruang hidupmu
Timbulkan gairah yang tak biasa
Untuk kehancuran

Don’t be nude on screen
Think for future, best for forward
Don’t be nude on screen
Please don’t break your soul (2x)

Don’t be nude on screen
Think for future, best for forward
Don’t be nude on screen
Please don’t break your soul

Passion ignite your soul
Break down your self
Beauty of your spell
Just for your love

Do not you be dark
Your living space
Break out unusual passion
To your shatter

#Reff
Don’t be nude on screen
Think for future, best for forward
Don’t be nude on screen
Please don’t break your soul (2x)

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Last Thing The World Needs...

...is another do-it-yourself Simpsons comic strip portraying your own created avatar.

(Too bad I don't care what the world needs. And hey, it's the Simpsons!)


________

Thanks to Q and richoz.

One Thing About Our Representatives

They're eager to learn.

The East Javanese DPRD (Regional People's Representative Board) recently announced their plan to study traditional market management in Japan. Results of this study will help them support the traditional market in East Java against many issues, such as lack of hygiene and competition from hypermarkets. So critical are these issues, that our representatives decided to visit Japan directly. Wasting no precious time, five honored representatives of our people have flown to Tokyo and Osaka last Tuesday (July 17th, 2007) for this task.

There's only one problem: When the reporter asked where exactly in Tokyo the traditional market is, the Head of B Commission, Alimudji, answered straightly, "...I'm not sure whether there's [a traditional market] or not..."

Very eager.

Link to article (in Bahasa).

_____

Thanks to Wahyudi Pratama.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Or Is It Just Me?

In one of Honda Vario TV commercials, the Indonesian singer Agnes Monica looks at the screen and says, "I'm Vario."

After that she goes on riding the bike, while texts flash on the screen showing what's a Vario like: "Stylish design," and... "Easy riding."

Is she insinuating something?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Oh, Yes... I Clean Up the Bad Words Every Now and Then




Now, for something completely different.


(Insert Bride of Chucky Joke Here)



Yoshiko Hori's dolls always fascinate me. They make me experience both awe and chill.



I bet Hori's guests never run out of topics to talk about.

"Did those dolls just move?"

Suppose Hori have children, I won't envy them.

"Happy Birthday, Son!" Hori hands one of the prized dolls as gift.

"Gee, thank you very much," replies the son politely. "Now I could suffer a new kind of nightmares for the next few weeks."

"You're welcome."
_________________

All the doll images above belong to Yoshiko Hori

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

How to Spot an Indonesian on goodreads.com

#1: (S)he will be the one having 13 friends, but 0 book.

#2: Especially when all of his/her friends also have 0 book.

#3: Each one will invite their friends to join goodreads. Ironically, the message will say, "Join in and see what kind of books I've read!"

#4: An average Indonesian goodreads librarian will add a new title, read the field "binding: ", and then enter, "Novel".

#5: For some Indonesians who have more than 0 book, there are probably more than five books on the "reading" shelves... and they're not going anywhere.

#6: An average Indonesian goodreads author will add his own books, rate them five stars (the highest), and be genuinely surprised when other people disagree.

________________

If you're curious, goodreads.com is a social networking community which endorses its members to share reading experiences; how many books have you read, what do you think about it, to whom would you recommend it, and so on.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Why Indonesia is the Coolest Country of All #11

Our government spent thousands of dollars to finance the videoconferencing technology that allowed one of the citizen from thousands of miles away to talk directly to the President of Indonesia--while picking his nose.

Worth quoting: (translated, as the original article is in Bahasa)


Without a care in the world, Ali kept picking his nose. He only stopped after feeling satisfied.


Very poetic. I think I'm gonna need a hankie.

_________

Thanks to Wahyudi Pratama.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When Your Son Got an E in Geography...

...just smile and say, "Keep it up, and you'll be able to work for CNN in no time."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Clients Say the Darnedest Thing

Last month a colleague visited a client's office. The high-ranking public officer explained his dreams of making an Information Technology (IT) Center in the office.

The client pointed to the corner of the room, "We'll put the computers over there."

My colleague nodded, "We can arrange the cabling."

"Sure. Sure," agreed the client. "And they'll be connected to the Internet."

"We'll just install another [wireless] access point here, no problem," said my colleague.

"Good," smiled the client. "Then we'll carpet the whole place for extra protection."

"Against dirt?" asked my colleague.

"No," the client frowned. "Against [computer] viruses, of course."

This colleague of mine opened his mouth. But upon realizing that the client hadn't been kidding, he decided to say the wisest thing. Nothing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My Childhood Dreams Were Actually Political

As a kid, I used to imagine that every profession did heroic deeds. The Doctor flew to patients in needs, or accident sites. His x-ray vision scanned for injuries. And with superspeed, The Doctor treated their wounds.

He could cure people without breaking a sweat. And that made him popular.


The Doctor: Why, hello there, ladies. You all look rather famished. May I interest you all in a well-balanced diet instruction?

Slim Lady #1: No, thanks. We intentionally only eat carrots our entire lives to try for the Ms. Universe contest.

Slim Lady #2: Or die trying.

Slim Lady #3: Yeah! Would the real slim lady please stand up.

Slim Lady #4: (Falls down.)

The Doctor: Looks like one of you’s going for the second option.

Slim Ladies: NO!

The Doctor: Not to worry. (Checks her pulse.) I can do CPR.

Slim Ladies: Thank goodness!

The Doctor: Now how 'bout that diet?

Slim Ladies: My hero!

At that time, my superhero of choice is the Engineer Man. If flood came, The Engineer Man would’ve built a tall shelter. If Godzilla attacked, he’d have thrown the monster to the sky with a gigantic catapult.

People: (shouting) Help! The Leaning Tower of Pisa has collapsed!

Engineer Man: Don’t worry.
(drawing a blueprint, then nods. He then quickly constructs a huge spring bed which bounces the falling tower constantly)
Now it’s become a new landmark; The Bouncing Tower of Pisa!

People: Thank you, Engineer Man!

I can’t remember what I used to imagine about presidents. Maybe helped the elderly cross the road. President was always the profession that gave the greatest sense of power to us children. But when we were asked for details, nobody really knew what presidents could actually do. I suspect this also applies to adults now.

But I remember why I wasn't too keen on being a president. There was one thing that disturbed me the most. A superhero goes into action before calling it. The president I knew back then called actions (many of them were aired live on national television), and most of the time forgot to actually do them.

I suspect this also applies now.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good News for Nielsen Media Research Indonesia

Now, trained monkeys can also do statistics. No need for expensive peoplemeters anymore. Just put them in charge.

If today's sinetrons are the ones favored by the latest peoplemeter surveys, I bet these monkeys can't come up with anything worse.


This Just In: Advance in Teleporter Technology

A team of physicist have successfully teleported data across an 89-mile distance. This brings great promise for teleporter technology such as portrayed in Star Trek.

However, if the teleporter is ever invented, the top priority would be using it for airline luggage control: to teleport clean underwears to people who fly to--for instance--New York, while their luggage end up in Jakarta.


Today's Final Scientific Breakthrough

Apparently, to make marathons more interesting, we could place 19529.78823529 Shaquille O'Neals (lying flat on the road) to form a line to the finish line.

And it takes exactly 844800 flaccid penises to measure the length of the Panama canal. Now that defines a major turn-off.

More breakthroughs can be found in Weird Converter.

_____________

(Thanks to Arga Aridarma)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thank You... The Rude, Offensive e-Cards You Sent Me Made My Day

Courtesy of someecards.com.





Here's one they should add: Thank you for sending me free materials for my blog. You saved me a few hours of actual brainwork.

I'll be sending that one to you, Dudi.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Star Warsian Mother's Day

Recently, I re-watched Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with a friend. She kept her silence until the dramatic scene when Luke faced Vader in a lightsaber combat.

Darth, of course, cut off Luke's arms and said, "Luke, in case you didn't understand Germanic, I'm your father." Luke's expression showed disbelief.

And my friend broke her silence, "I think that wasn't an expression of surprise."

"What do you mean?" I asked, more curious on how could she have read my narrative beforehand.

"Maybe he just felt lucky."

I frowned, "Lucky for what? Knowing that there will be a sequel?"

"No, knowing that Vader was just the father. Look, if someone ever raised a lightsaber against his own mother--believe me--she wouldn't have stopped at just cutting off a single arm," said the mother of two.

"Uhm, Happy Mother's Day," I said with a gulp.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Environmentalism Redefined

Recently, The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia successfully demonstrated how lack of concerns can blow up things beyond normal proportions. On April 29th, 2007, WWF Indonesia and Aksara Bookstore held an environmental-awareness event for kids. One of the kids' parent wrote to a national newspaper (in Bahasa) how he had already had bad premonition about the event because the event preparation was amateurish; delays, LCD and computer not functioning, and so on.

Then finally it happened: Trying to switch video CDs, one of the crew accidentaly played an X-rated video clip. Everybody was taken aback that the video got aired for tens of seconds before the crew finally shut the computer down. By then, every single kid had watched the footage with various reactions.

Key quote:

...some kids screamed in horrors, but some others applauded.


The event was named "WWF-Aksara Goes Green." The parents, however, went red.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Things You Expect To Find in an Indonesian TV Channel #1

It's been years since the last time Indonesian TV producers "adapted" an American TV series. For instance, they've produced the local version of "I Dreamed of Jeannie" and "The Nanny". They even took the main idea of "Splash" and turned it into a series.

If only the same producers weren't busy stealing ideas from Korean soaps, they might have made a detective series called "Get Serious". It'd be about a private investigator named "John Serious". He'd approach people and say, "John Serious, Private Eye. Has anyone seen this dog?"

"You're kidding, aren't you?" they'd ask.

To which he'd say, "No, I'm Serious."

His business card would go something like this;

Serious, John, P.I.
"When the going gets tough, get Serious."


Update (thanks to Wikan and Haris.)

The archenemy would be the master of disguise, James Kidding and his evil assistant, Robert Confused. And their typical encounter would be like this;
John: Can you tell me where to find Mr. Kidding?
James: Oh, I can tell you all right.
Robert: (turns to James) Sir, you're serious?
James: I am.
John: What do you mean? I'm Serious.
James: Well, I'm Kidding.
John: You make me confused.
Robert: No, that'd be me.
John: Wait, wait. This is going nowhere. Let's start with our names first. I'm Serious. And you're Mr..?
James: A simple Kidding would be fine.
John: I'm sorry, what?
James: Just Kidding.
John: Well, that doesn't help.
Robert: I'm Confused.
James: Aren't we all?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fatherhood Aptitude Test #1

  1. Set your alarm clock to go off at 2 AM.

  2. After waking up, put it on your arms. Swing it gently until it dies off.

  3. Set the alarm to fifteen minutes after. Try to get some sleep before it goes off.

  4. If the sun hasn't risen yet, return to #2

Survive for six months straight. Try considering to have a child.

Note to spouses:
Keep suicide pills away from his sight. If your partner exhibits any signs of violence on the mention of "baby", use the sleeping darts (not included).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Our Four-letter Words Are Two-syllable Ones

Does Bahasa (Indonesia) have four-letter words? Yes and no.

Yes, of course we have swearwords. Any language who don't have them is either a programming language or a fictitious one. Although I'd very much like the former to have one. Learning HTML would be a lot easier if it has alternative swear-commands.

[block@$#$*&@#quote this you moron]This is supposed to be a harmless quotation.[/block#*$^#*&#quote]
But back to real swearing: No, our swear words are not exactly four-lettered. In fact, I believe Bahasa doesn't have a swearword that only consists of a single syllable. Take "bodoh" ("dumb"), "tolol" ("stupid"), "goblok" ("moron"). Two syllables. Check any Indonesian swearwords that refer to certain body parts. Two syllables. Indonesian swearwords that refer to sexual activities? Two syllables.

Apparently, our language was designed so we could only drive a point at the second syllable. Any single-syllable word will be harmless. Even if we scream it out loud. Just try screaming "Bod!" or "Tol!" or even "Gob!" People will only think you're calling somebody with a funny name and bad hearing.

But add one syllable. And any words you mutter will sound like a curse. Even if it doesn't make sense. I dare you. Approach a huge, muscular guy, and see him eye to eye. Get a ladder if he's too tall. But look at his eye and say any two-syllable nonsense like "Toldoh" or "Goblol". You'd better have a will ready.

Of course, the pronunciation also matters. The first syllable must be uttered as if your tongue is recoiling, ready to deliver the next one; the punch-syllable. And deliver it you will. Let loose on the second. Even the nicest words like "Hebat" ("Great") or "Pinter" ("Intelligent") would be considered offensive when flung out this way.

Got it? Pinter.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spielberg Does Tintin: The Ultimate Question

After Herge Studios officially announced that Spielberg will produce a movie of Tintin, the ultimate question remains: Will he let Tintin keep his frat-boy hairdo? Or will he throw him into the nearest makeover center?

According to our latest sources--which are reliable and also believe that Tintin is actually Elvis, but I digress--Spielberg also aims to target Tintin at the (American) mainstream market. Discussions are already on the way about how Tintin should look like. And they seem to base their research on today's pop culture bulletin boards: the American Idol.

So, for the first time ever on the WWW, below is the unofficial sketch of their makeover team.

They will also do their own soundtrack under the stagename "Tin2 feat. Snowy the Bonemuncha"


Tintin, however, provided no comment.

"Yo, let's get a suit with the 'tude which suits this era, Snowy!"

Friday, March 09, 2007

Language Barrier: Why Stephen Spielberg George Lucas Didn't Cast Asians for Star Wars

Last month, I attended an annual, international symposium. Its theme wasn't important. Not in this blog, anyway. Because the official theme was actually twenty words long. I quickly concocted my own theme, "To stay awake for eight hours straight, three days in a row."

I almost failed.

Because these guys were professional Power Point Troopers. One speaker had only opened a single slide full of bulleted points, and I could almost hear the sound of a few heads hitting their desks. Those were the new guys. A veteran participant sitting next to me was actually sleeping while sitting straight up, as if he just swallowed a coat hanger. And--I'm not kidding--he turned out to be the next speaker.

Later, during a coffee break, I spoke to a Vietnamese speaker. His presentation had some information that I was interested in, yet I had trouble understanding what he said. "Yes," he nodded on my inquiry. "I'm the vader of the organization."

"Excuse me?" I frowned.

"I'm the vahnter," he insisted with a straight face.

It took about three seconds before it finally sank in. "You're the founder?"

"Yes," he nodded vigorously.

I would love to see Stephen SpielbergGeorge Lucas cast this guy for Star Wars. One of the most memorable scenes would've become legendary.

"Luke," said Darth Vader after trading lightsaber blows. "I'm your founder."

"What?" Skywalker frowned.

Vader snarled, "I'm your bother!"

"Can't agree more," groaned Luke.

One of the crew would've been bound to voice his protest, "StephenGeorge, why don't you ditch this guy?"

"Don't tell me what to do!" growled SpielbergLucas. "You're not my father!"
This kind of imagination was the only thing that helped me stay awake.

Yet Another "Why Not?" Product

Let me get this straight. Baby socks that say, "I Love My Mummy XXX"? I know many people use the symbol for signifying kisses and all. But come on, that particular use sounds more like a campaign by The Oedipal Support Foundation. And the whole sock looks more like a complimentary gift for a family package tour by Kinki Nippon Tourist.

Well, if we're into double meanings, why not go all the way? Let's make, for instance, diapers that say, "YOU'RE my daddy."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The KKK Took My Baby Away

When our newborn baby developed excess bilirubin, we took her to a local hospital. To our horrors, the ER referred us to the KKK.

But apparently, KKK stands for Klinik Kesejahteraan Keluarga (in English: Family Welfare Clinic). So we sighed a relief, knowing that the nurses wouldn't be cladded in all white.


They wouldn't do things like blindfold her.

And they wouldn't indoctrinate us to wear masks.

On second thought... uh oh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

One Lesson in Twenty Years

Late last night, I saw a single scene of an old flick that summarizes Indonesian film in the 80's.

The scene covers the inside of a house. A big and ugly guy tried to rape a supposedly-pretty girl. Our protagonist opened the front door. It took him about two seconds to realize:
a) This was his house.
b) The girl was his wife.
c) The big and ugly guy was not him.
d) What words to say when you have to stop a rapist without cursing.

He darted to the ugly guy. "Hey!" he shouted, while throwing the guy to the floor. He pummeled the ugly guy effortlessly, with sound effects that pop a bit late.

A loud knock on the door interrupted their fight. Being a courteous host, the protagonist left the antagonist lying on the floor, and opened the door. The antagonist cooperated by occasionally moaning.

A bunch of policemen gathered on the front perch, apparently forgot that they should've appeared AFTER being summoned. The protagonist let them in without words. Because, apparently, the policemen weren't the only ones forgetting their lines.

The captain greeted the protagonist and asked, "Mr. Agus?" He did that in the tone of a teacher addresing the class.

The ugly guy suddenly stopped moaning and raised his arm. "That's me, Sir." The police nodded and handcuffed the ugly guy.

And this wasn't a comedy flick. Now, after twenty years, this particular scene would've been done like this;

A handsome guy tried to rape a beautiful woman who looked innocent and pure (aside from the overuse of makeup). Before actually doing anything, the guy would spout off lines about how he was going to do her, how she was going to be him forever, and nobody could stop it. The woman would comment on every lines with highly-observational remarks such as, "You're going to rape me?" "How could you?" "Why would you?"

This would take about fifteen minutes. And since this would be a TV drama, played on primetime where children would also be watching, the dialogs had to include cursing. Added with a commercial break.

After the break, we would see the protagonist realizing something: the episode had gone fifteen minutes without him in it. He had to do something! So he ran. He overdid everything. Even crossing a lone street looked as if the roads were infested with landmines. If the protagonist was a muscular guy, a car would crash him. Bleeding and bruised, he would continue walking toward the next scene.

He broke into the house. The antagonist would turn angry, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

The protagonist would be even angrier, "Stay away from her!" The woman would make silly attempts at expressing both fear and joy by raising and lowering her eyebrows. The antagonist and protagonist then exchanged death stares, accompanied by overdramatic music.

This would take fifteen minutes.

And that's the end of this episode. The final screen freezed and the credits rolled. This would also take fifteen minutes.

Twenty years, from the 1980's to the 2000's, for a simple lesson: It would only take one second--to turn the damn TV off.