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11 June 2009

Sock Tactics

Zero Tolerance for socksual abuse

From the darkness of the stage a twinkle appears.
The spotlight comes on and the beat kicks in.

The crowd goes wild.

Next thing you know there’s hee hee’ing all over the place and the twinkles shine in full glory, slip-sliding like nobody’s business to a moonwalk that only a deluded, egomaniacal kiddie-fiddler could muster. And yet, right there, amongst the sweat drenched fainting fans lapping every second of self-fellating stagecraft, one of man’s most heinous fashion faux pas passes unquestioned.

The man himself has found a way to somehow escape blame for many of societies’ terrible wrongs but this one in particular will not stand – not any more. A penchant for bedsharing with small boys notwithstanding, we’re dealing with crimes against humanity much more horrific. Over here we’re talking about the white socks and dress shoes maneouvre. And other sock related social misdemeanors.

Since Nobel Prize winner Professor Archibald Reginald Sock accidentally invented the innovative foot gloves we’ve come to know as “socks” in 1983 [first patented in fluorescent pink and neon green], they have since become a staple accessory for many a human being worldwide. In the early days of sock politics, co-ordination and pairing protocols of the fabricated footwear were lax and the United Nations were forced to draft the International Sock Code of Conduct treaty, to be signed by every member [except Ze Germans, of course].

The penalty for ignoring the code - Death by ‘electric sock’.

Yet in this modern day, and in every corner of our spherical world, you’ll find examples of the code unheeded. That confused white black man even got away with parading his sequined pearly whites, contrasting his glistening black slacks Live on TV, seemingly untouchable by the authorities. What gives? Where are the enforcers of the sacred Sock Code? We wanna see some fried feet around here! Nowadays, the only people that really seem to care are the stylistic demi-god consortium known [self-implied of course] as ‘fashionistas’.

And yet the best they can do is turn up their overindulged noses and scoff at the awful felonies of footwear afoot.

But alas, on this, our filthy rotten planet, we are plagued by a disreputable social caste known as the ‘Working Class’. This disturbing collective mass of braindead protozoan sub-humanity, unawares to complicated concepts as fashion - or even common sense for that matter, are the tainted individuals largely responsible for the aforementioned crimes.

Take a typical night on the razzle dazzle for one of these evolutionary failures as an example. The precursor to an unbridled evening of pint swilling, kebab munching and recreational fisticuffs usually involves the unconscious decision of throwing together a combination of either the newest or least smelly outer garments to cover their malnourished, soot stained bodies.

And when it comes to the bottom end of the outfit – cue ‘smart’ shoes. Much like facial herpes or permed mullets, the black shoes offer little compliment to the ensemble - or the creature itself. And the final insult of the abomination is the rewearing of those Christmas socks for every occasion – the white towelling sport sock. A masterpiece of modern athletic apparel no less.

And why not?

They’re warm, comfortable, they aptly retain toe cheese and stem oozing footsweat quite nicely. But amongst these perks, not a single thought is spared for appearance’s sake. Shame.

But far be it from the old Fred Perry footwarmer as the ultimate of Sock solecisms. Oh no. Although saying that, many of the drones who commit such a crime are often expected to perform obligatory ritual suicide as an appeasement to their one true master, The God of Daytime Television.

And that very same god, the one who sent down his only son in flip flops, sans sock – will be the one who passes judgement on all those who misinterpreted the Golden Rule of sandal styling. For the one crime of fashion more grave in execution than the white sock black shoe/pants combo – is that of the sock bearing open-toed sandalman.

For him, there is no mercy, no repentance, and no stairway to heaven.

And nor should there be.

The reason bare feet were invented was to give cobblers and shoe shops the chance to finally start making some decent money and find better use for all the lace-up, leather plant pots they’d confusedly built and sold for so many years. Similarly, the principal reason sandals were invented were so that the lucky few could show off their brand new ‘designer’ feet. Not so they could shame their species on a universal level by covering their stubby foot-fingers with cotton-rich argyles [adding a hint of lycra for comfort and durability, of course].

Tut, tut.

It takes a certain kind of character to ignore the basic tenets of humanity and become a true enemy of planet earth. Yet they exist in vast numbers, living among us as if they deserve a right to share the same air that we goodly citizens breathe.

Typically, such perpetrators are no more than shameless hermetic uncles that view the world in hazy double from the bottom of a whiskey glass. The second largest demographic include one-time ‘regular’ folk whose self-respect has been wholly drained by one too many psychological beatings by ‘The Man’ [or perhaps ‘The Woman’ in many, if not all, cases].

Yet despite government initiatives to name and shame these odious individuals, their shameful legacy lives on. No matter how many schoolyard castrations, public immolations or playful decapitations the authorities initiate, it seems that there are some [in fact many] who will continue to wear socks with sandals.

Much the same as the feculent working class with their persistent propensity for sports socks, these sinners cannot be abated. So what are we to do? Can we live amongst them any longer? Are we to take our own lives in resignation of the facts? Or is there hope for a better future?

Unless somebody quick sharp invents an unrelenting search-and-destroy automaton that will effectively rid the planet of the scourge of sock saboteurs, then we’ll all surely perish in the bowels of hell.

However, that’s only my opinion and I could be mistaken.

Sock Tactics

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johnny said...and then MJ died. Posted 22 July 2009 18:23


11 June 2009

I (Heart) My Job: [for Zero Degrees mag, 2008]

Not a shred of stoicism left in him, Johnny endures an 'opulent' Borneo beach resort to contemplate life's folly, when decadence becomes discontent

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I really do.

Journalism with a predilection for luxury travel - who wouldn’t? Despite the grandiose of its obvious fluffy pillowed perks, it’s a vocation that can soon enough lose its five-star appeal.

But how can free gourmet food, hand delivered to massive beds overlooking tropical beaches, not contain some of the fundamental aspects to the meaning of life!?

Like anything in excess, once you’re accustomed to ‘luxury’ everything and your very purpose is to nitpick at loose threads, after time, even the most sumptuous repast scoffed alone in the most massive of beds can seem a tad tedious.

So beach resort after endless Southeast Asian beach resort, there’s only so much standard issue ‘luxury’, ‘elegance’ and ‘opulence’, resplendent in ‘majestic charm’ and surrounded by ‘stunning vistas’ that one fella can take before going slightly mad from the plethora of overused adjectives and descriptive platitudes. Curiously, while the stunning vistas may vary from one resort to the next, the overall experience does not.

Then again, I hadn’t been to Nexus Karambunai, a beachfront behemoth hidden 30km outside of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.

The Cynic Route
Riding in yet another free airport transfer taxi, I suspected the driver was a hired lackey as he reeled off a spiel about the beautiful scenery and how much I would enjoy the resort. That is until I noticed how beautiful the scenery was and realising he didn’t even work there, I got a bit excited. Just a bit. Then we arrived.

The 5 minutes from gate to lobby was a holiday in itself.

An unfeasibly large complex appeared above distant trees and a sudden overview of the 3,335 acre plot hit me with enough force to knock a rhino sideways. It was a treat to find a resort so well hidden from well, everything. My face worked hard not to show it. Laced with a private, six kilometre white sand beach and hemmed in by a blanket of unspoiled primary rainforest, Nexus is the kind of place that turns frowns upside down, although I only admit that now.

My host, an unattainably beautiful, five feet small Dusun-Kadazan girl smiled me half to death as she led me from lofty lobby to ambient, whicker-filled lounge. Sifting through a mass of PR material, she tossed one itinerary on the table and handed the other to me. “You look kinda sporty” she said, “you can do the adventure package.”

Fair enough, I thought – somewhat flattered. The two page list of activities was extensive and half joking I said with a cheeky smile – “ok, I’ll do them all.” “Right then”, was the reply. And with that, I had signed up to a full quota of action and adventure. Great! Now was the time to get that gourmet food hand delivered to that massive bed. The bed was colossal, the food typically delicious and if not for the prospect of adventure, I might have been bored...

One Trek Mind
Tickled by the wake up call of croissants and coffee served in bed, I was ready the next morning for my 7am ‘jungle trek’ – the time most KLites are enjoying the morning jam. Somewhat sticky eyed, a group of 6 and a minibus set out to the 75 acre nature park. Too early to appreciate the incessant grins of safari clad guides, words like ‘million year old rainforest’ and ‘diverse flora and fauna’ passed through my ears. All I wanted was to get to the top, so I could get back down again and into some water-skis.

Two minutes up the steep incline - clothes drenched, heart pumping - and determination had replaced indifference. A good 45 minutes later and the incline leveled out, much to the joy of my burning legs. Wondering if the climb was worth it, we walked a narrow path in stony silence. It wasn’t long before the ‘ooh’s’ and ‘wows’ came from the group. Not wanting to play the tourist, I maintained a stolid disposition as my insides screamed at the actual stunning vista sprawled in 360 degree panorama, somehow managing to squeeze in the expansive Sabahan hills and the mighty mount Kinabalu beyond. It was 8.30am and I had to admit, I was impressed.

Descending in fine fettle, thoughts of Nexus breaking the luxury mould began creeping up, yet still maintaining some degree of cynicism, I swiftly smothered them. Before I could say ‘bah humbug’, I was trundled beachside in a golf cart to Nexus Karambunai’s watery pièce de résistance.

I’m talking a vast natural tropical lagoon here - a bona fide water-sport enthusiast’s wet dream.
A major feature of appeal to holidaymakers and dubious journalists alike, the lagoon offers more activities than is generally healthy. So I would soon discover.

Watery Grave
The laidback attendants threw me a life jacket. First up, kayaking. Foolishly thinking I could circumnavigate the entire lagoon, I realised half-way that a few extra pairs of arms were required. So I stopped, bobbing silently, serene, before a short-cut back to shore. Making a stop or five along the way to shake out the arms, I congratulated myself again on a fine career choice.

From kayak to powerboat, I blinked and was in the middle of the lagoon again. Buckled to a wakeboard. Piece of cake, I reckoned. It’s not often that I’m fooled by my overconfidence in physical activity but after being dragged 20 or 30 metres face-first through the water, I realised this was nothing like knitting. Try again, focus. Another 20 metres of water through the nostrils and abilities were cast into doubt.


Five metres of nose water, I’m up!! Woo! I would have thought it was great had I not immediately slammed head first into my own knees. Forced smile on battered face, laughing at folly, I changed the board to skis. Not entirely sure of myself the boat pulled away. Arms went taut and I was on the feet gliding as gracefully as a sock-full of rubble. Thirty seconds later, feet were behind head (again) and body was upside down supping salty lagoon.


Leaking from every facial cavity, I doffed the skis and swapped them for a kneeboard. I was assured it was less painful and somewhat easier to get going. True enough, I was soon perched on my knees like a soggy samurai, hylaning and mysteriously stable. A good 3 minutes passed before the jumps started. The brief seconds of hang-time offered an eternity of reflection and I remembered again why I loved my job. It was as if the boatmen got bored once I actually stopped falling off - and it seemed only too soon as we came back to the jetty. The few moments on dry land were spent reveling at the numbness of arms. I never had much chance to ponder as the next boat was already sending me out again. I needed a time out - but that wasn’t in the itinerary.

Soar High!
Ten minutes out to sea and I was ready to parasail. There’s something sensational about hanging 100 metres above the sea by nylon straps. It’s called fear. Doing my best to enjoy the scenery, I gradually ped – further – precariously close to the water – in the water! I heard the boatmen laughing as further dragging, face-first through the brine ensued. I didn’t see the funny side. This went on for 20 minutes, plonked in the water, hoisted up, plonked again and despite my cussing, the boatmen continued to plonk and hoist regardless. I still loved my job, just not at this second and the ride back to shore was spent in quiet humiliation.

En route I decided no more powerboats. So I watched as an inflatable Banana Boat sped some other brave souls across the lagoon. Just as it was looking like fun, one of three bodies atop lost grip on the yellow beast and disappeared, followed closely by the rest. The lonely banana boat skimmed the waves with little concern for its lack of passengers as I chuckled. Heart warmed, I agreed I’d had enough for the day.

Resort to Happiness
Being something of a spa connoisseur, the outstanding Balinese massage that followed, offered me time to compose my thoughts and calculate enjoyment levels. Despite still having snorkeling, archery, a mangrove cruise, night fishing and a lesson in traditional Murut Blowpipes the following day, I was unfaltering in my conclusion that as a typical beach resort, Nexus had in fact afforded me an atypical beach resort experience.

Proven wrong that luxury travel was in danger of becoming the mundane, dreams within the massive bed atop the fluffy pillows that night were content - and leaving cynicism somewhere at the bottom of the South China Sea - I was wholly convinced that I really, truly, loved my job.

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11 June 2009

Happy List

sunday morning response to the lucideas collective via stefan sagmeister: a bunch of stuff that makes life worthwhile

1. soul music: marvin gaye, stevie wonder, gladys knight, sam cooke, anything from 60' and 70's.

2. singing to aforementioned soul music. and nina simone.

3. dedication to a martial art as the foundation of my life's routine.

4. breakdancing.

5. anything that involves handstands or somersaults.

6. making my sayang delicious coffee every morning before she wakes up.

7. the small doggie. and the small cat. [not just any small doggie or cat, mind you]

8. making people laugh.

9. and making a difference to someone's life.

10. imparting knowledge that is understood and appreciated.

11. precious few friends.

12. noseslides and grinds. especially noseslides.

13. understanding concepts through physical application.

14. putting the toothpaste on two toothbrushes before bed.

15. un-easy listening music. drones, fukdup beats or avant garde noise.

16. tae kwon-do sparring. [jumps n' spins n' kicks]

17. ignorance in the belief that everything i achieve is purely by accident.

18. contentment of turning thirty.

19. capturing a beautiful image.

20. understanding that my greatest strength is
knowing my weaknesses.

21. pragmatism applied to otherwise difficult emotional situations.

22. driving. driving anywhere, at any time. just driving.

23. stretching, isolating muscles and stretching some more.

24. the mountains - huge mountains! especially the Andes.

25. fulfilling long lost dreams.

26. Björk Guðmundsdóttir

27. working closely with my younger brother - a world away.

28. replacing life-long confusion with the 12 minute version of 'papa was a rolling stone' by the temptations [and then finding stevie wonder's version with a talk-box on youtube]

29. finally learning how to use a sword.

30. the rewards of self-discipline in any field.

31. pizza

32. creating stuff with almost meditative focus after smoking weed )

33. sniper rifles.

34. having the balls to uproot and hurl myself into the unknown.

35. the serenity of scuba-diving

36. exploring a derelict building. [should be further up the list]

37. having no urge to waste any time with organised religion

38. precious alone time.

39. understanding impermanence to alleviate a fear of mortality.

40. waking up before the alarm.

41. painful massage.

42. the prospect of a family life ahead

43. oh, and hot baths. [this should be top of the list after the soul music]

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11 June 2009

Fashionably Late

another inane product review for another defunct malaysian magazine: dunno why i waste my time.

Plan B: issue 020

Be the coolest cat in the graveyard with the Cocoon from German coffin makers Uono.

Isn’t it about time that high design was incorporated into the afterlife? Some might think it morbid, but I never miss a trick when it comes to what’s cool and what’s not. So, for any aspiring fashionista, we all know how vitally important it is to be seen in the latest this and that by the current ‘whoever-it-is-in-vogue’ whether it’s clothes, accessories or whatever.

Yet for many moons now, the realm of coffin design has been in grave danger of churning out a-pall-ing generic deathbeds, without taking into consideration shifting trends or fickle folk. However, if you’re the type that has to have the best of the best and wouldn’t be seen dead in anything else, then Köln based German coffin creators Uono have a new ion of trendy tombs that will ensure your musty bones remain dead fashionable for all of eternity [sort of].

The revolutionary ‘Cocoon’ - designed by Andreas Spiegel alongside various funeral masters and private research laboratories - not only has design to die for, but also boasts a high degree of user-friendliness. The beautifully crafted lozenge-shaped casket is made from a lightweight (20kg), yet sturdy soy-based resin and is lined with a naturally strong compound fashioned from the fibres of the jute plant. Use of such innovative material inevitably makes it easier for funeral directors to manoeuvre the casket [thus avoiding that embarrassing granny rolling down the aisle type scenario]. Also, the distinct lack of sharp edges means it’s probably less likely to bang into doorframes, chairs, tables or senile relatives whilst transferring your earthly remains to their final resting spot. Quite cleverly, the coffin has been designed to naturally decompose within 10-15 years and for those who prefer to burn out rather than rot away, the cocoon can also be used for cremation as the upper heating value of the natural materials is similar to that of wood.

Attention to detail in the Cocoon is paramount and not that you’d notice, but you'll rest comfortably in the knowledge that your lifeless shell will be cosy within the plush white cotton or silk liner. Discreet, detachable handles on the clever cadaver container fit nicely into the aesthetic shape of the coffin that can also be used to tie rope around for lowering into graves. Furthermore, the cocoon features a CO2 neutral, water-based varnish so you need not worry about the environmental effects of your carcass casing as you slowly decompose. If you’re still not convinced about these stylish sepulchres, to top it all off, the coffins are finished by hand and are available in 14 colours ranging from “red and dead” to “deathly white” and “cold blue lips”. You can even use their Haute Couture program to design the coffin in a custom colour of your choice if it helps to rest your soul.

Fortunately, you forward thinking fashionistas can pre-order your coffin so your loved ones won't have to lay you to rest in something less aesthetically pleasing. Heaven forbid they put you in beech – or worse black ash!


Delivery of the casket within Germany is 3 days but shipping elsewhere will obviously take more time. Believe it or not, Uono give discount for bulk orders so if it’s your whim for fashionable funerals, then you and your whole family can go out in style at a nice price. The costly corpse capsule will set you (or your dearly departed) back US$3,500 which goes to show that as the best things in life may be free, it would seem that the best things in death are actually quite expensive.

Fashionably Late

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