Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Iconic Changes

DC is changing the way Wonder Woman look for her 600th issue.

In the words of series writer, J. Michael Straczynski: If you’re going to make a statement about bringing Wonder Woman into the 21st century, you need to be bold and you need to make it visual. I wanted to toughen her up, and give her a modern sensibility.

The new look Fans of comicsdom will know that DC revolves mainly around the big three – Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (alphabetically arranged to avoid cries of biasness..).

Ages ago when I first started reading comics, DC was off my radar despite Bats and Supes being household name. Somehow the Marvel's take on the whole business of superheroics captures my imagination better.

Then came a chance reading of an issue of Tales of the Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, featuring a whole lot of giants, Titans, “Gods” and the Amazons. The art was superb though the layout still suffered from unimaginative DC generic look.

Wonder Woman wasn’t in the issue but her younger sister Donna Troy was.

Still wasn’t a fan of either but I have since then see Wonder Woman as the icon when it comes to the female heroines (in Comics, at least).

Several Crisis (ahem!)later where Wonder Woman play significant roles cemented this view.

Wonder Woman was (is?) always portrayed as regal and astoundingly beautiful. No to mention, bosomy. There is easily countless number of single panels which fits to be framed or wallpapered.

Her stature rose even further in my eyes when she offed Maxwell Lord after going one-on-one against a manipulated Superman in Identity Crisis.

Despite the many distinguished female characters in the Marvel line-up, none can match the stature of Wonder Woman over in DC.

Changing such iconic figures is always a risky move for Comic publishers. Usually it does not matter how they looked like as long as the characterization is spot on but sometimes the iconic look is important.

Witness how Superman has remained so attired for so long despite many modern permutations.

Will the new look work for Wonder Woman, then?

Though not a fan, I cannot imagine Wonder Woman in spandex and am filled with some disbelief in seeing her going all martial arty against some mortals in a promo page.

It's an image that is totally at odds with the image I've cultivated on the Amazing Amazon for so long now. The art is still quite sensational, though.

I'd stick with the old Diana, tqvm.

Back to non-serious stuff, I am perplexed as to how a written reply to a Parliamentary question can turn out to be mistake.

RM800 million is not exactly chicken feed whereby an answer can be “cincai”ly given.

Truly, our Parliamentary democracy is at a bewildering juncture of sorts.

What’s worrying is where the road taken seems to be leading to.

Jim Lee's

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Paper Chasers

We are a country of big money but no money.

RM800 million Palace, but no money to pay the workers. RM4.6b (or is it 8b? 12.5b?) for the PKFZ and no money to pay the bondholders. Billions here and billions there and YET no money to fund brainy / crème of the crop / brilliant students at Ivy-league Universities.

Let’s not count the leaks of Felda, Sime Darby, et cetera et cetera (Not to be mistaken with Peter Cetera. Wonder what the former Chicago crooner is doing these days?)

Like Bonnie Tyler used to sing:”Where’re all the money gone and where are all the cash?” (My tweaks, of course)

Sometime it is so bloody depressing to read the news that you just skip everything and go right to the adverts, the entertainment pages, the sport pages, the cartoons, the tech-pages..

I’ve gone beyond cynical to being downright disillusioned: a total disbelief of anything that comes out of the mouth of our authoritative mouthpieces.

Everything seems to be agend-ise towards the furthering some grandiose money-making (for somebody, I suppose) scheme or project or whatever.

Have we reached a stage where “Money rules” over everything else?

I was teaching my daughter of Year 2 the usage of countable and non-countable nouns of much, a little, many and a few the other night and came to a sentence with the word “money”.

I told her that money falls into the non-countable nouns category, which elicited a bewildered look on her face.

You gave me RM4 everyday to school. So how can money be not countable?

I have to admit of not learning this facet of the English Grammar, having learnt the language via the “If it sounds, correct, it must be” technique, so I just murmured that it was the rule. Fortunately, it was way past her bedtime and she no longer cared less for grammatical nuances than the coziness of a dreamless sleep.

We could all use a good sleep from all these shenanigans, don’t we?

If only. Like the PKFZ quagmire, all these are headaches that are in for the long term.

Headaches that we seemed to be gearing up to inherit our children and- if we’re not careful – their children, too.

Right up to the point where money are UNCOUNTABLE nouns because there are none to count in the first place.

Where’re all the money gone too and where are all the cash?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Flatfooted Stupor

It’s 3.42pm and I am still feeling lethargic from the late night watching Germany thrash England.

I had a feeling that England would lose, but never imagined the margin to be so disappointing especially at this stage of the World Cup. England was caught flatfooted on all the four goals: the back four dreadfully outpaced by the German youthful players.

At least a penalty shoot-out would have carried the “luck” factor into play, but as it turns out, the Three Lions were bested in a whole lot of departments.

Am I missing something or does England not have an outright striker in the team?

Three goals – one of which by Upson! - in five games says just this and to see Rooney looking so very lost is disconcerting especially if you’re a Man United fan.

(On that count, another MU player is making his presence felt in team Mexico and Ji-Sung carried his South Korean brilliantly despite the loss to Uruguay courtesy of Suarez’s superb second goal.)

The question that would be answer in the Argentina – Germany matchup should thus be this: Was Germany really THAT good, or was England just WOEFUL?

Anyway, I didn’t catch the live telecast for that match; watched Frank Miller’s The Spirit instead.

The story was crappy, but the visuals sank me. Fans of FM would undoubtedly be able to connect with the outlandish way the whole movie was played out.

The rooftop scene was straight out of his collaboration with John Romita Jr. in Daredevil: The Man without Fear.

Empathizing with the characters though is out of the question as I hardly know or ever read The Spirit. Could find his motivation for doing whatever it is his doing. (Aside from smooching and flirting with every woman who appeared on screen, that is.)

The violence level, too, was sanitized by the inanity of the whole storyline.

Then again, if it had been ala his Sin City series, The Spirit might not have gotten through to us Malaysian viewers.

Sin City offers a different kind of brutal after all; something akin to the German’s dissecting of England’s back four, I suppose.

PS: Lampard's non goal - Would it have mattered? I dunno. What matters was that it was not called, and the German went on to score another brace. So there. Que Sera Sera.

Frank Miller's Perspectives

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Swaggering Humility

Once in a while I will wonder out loud: Just who the hell are we continuing to build and build for when half - in not more – remain literally empty?

Undoubtedly you will see them. Some swanky – the newer ones are, usually – the others relics of bygone times.

If you’re the adventurous types who don’t mind going off from the usual North- South into the inner roads towards Kuala Kubu Baru, you can even witness whole townships, hulking buildings carrying on silently with nary a single rattle or sigh.

My drive to work carries me pass a few such construction husk - empty buildings crying out for tenants.

Usually the strategy of finding a star tenant will do the job, but with so much space to be filled, you’d have to wonder if we’ve reach a saturation point of expanding in this manner.

True, construction is a grand way of pump-priming. It creates instant growth factor through jobs for developers, main contractors, sub and sub-sub contractors, consultants, all those buruh kasars and so on and so on. Very short term kickback to the economy.

You could easily rack up the Quarterly growth points from a few projects alone.

And then? What happens when the project gets completed and the buildings began to open for public, and private audiences?

Unfortunately for the whole world, the new millennium witnessed a huge blip in the global economy.

Otherwise there’d still be foreign companies snapping up cheap (converted rate, of course – ala our ministers’ favoured comparison in Singapore flour, sugar and petrol and Malaysian flour, sugar and petrol prices) space.

The likes most Malaysian could only aspire. At the supposed RM130 rental as imagined by the FT Minister recently, you’d probably be able to get a broom closet in one of the high end residential units.

We build, and build as though the demand will continue forever. What used to be government-or-related-locked plots now "prime land" especially in the City.

The KTM land is out of the picture now, and so too is the Federal Hills. BBGS is only alive in the cyber world. Pudu Jail is also no more. Worse still, even our Parliament House is under threat.

We just have not an iota of respect for heritage, it seems. If the august House is considered creaky has-been, what hope has ghost-domain that is the Pudu jail?

Like another minister say: “..It is not something we can be proud of.

After all, that hunk of concrete good for nothing is sitting on drool-salivating prime land.

Just like the Parliament House.

And now, we wait with bated breath the next pronouncement of the next “not something we can be proud of”.

V for Vendetta

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Loosely Defined

The Treasury and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit under the Prime Minister's Department (Pemandu) gave starkly different figures on government subsidy expenditure. And they are both technically correct.

The apparent "discrepancy" is due to differences in definition, classification of expenditure and sourcing.”

Uh Uhm… You’ve said it loud and clear, YABD Minister KSK.

Something like the "household income" definition in the low-cost-units-for-local-council-staff fiasco.

All in the definition ladies and gentlemen. No right, no wrong: legally speaking, that is.

Note the following phrases from Jonathan Lynn’s “Yes Minister: The Moral Dimension”:

Personal donations
Special discounts
Miscellaneous outgoings
Managerial surcharge
Operating costs
Ex-gratia payments
Agents' fees
Political contributions
Extra-contractual payments
Introduction fees
Commission fees
Managements' expenses
Administrative overheads
Advance against profit sharing

Loosely defined, too, are these phrases but they’re carrying the same meaning.

And from Pemandu, we have the following:

Contract obligations
Financial support
Assistance to Ministry of Finance Incorporated companies
Cost-based financial assistance.

The latter (the cost-based whatcammacallit..) is apparently a “substantial item.. under indirect subsidies”.

Fanciful stuffs, these.

Why is KSK coming out with the qualifications the Treasury had taken vis-à-vis the nation’s subsidies?

He’s stepping on people’s turf here and stating that figures are being conveniently classified as such so that different outcomes or findings can be made.

Isn’t that what you’re saying, dear YABD Minister?

The mentioned “Yes Minister” series is full of such convenient classifications that perhaps we can take it as a SOP for governments.

Something like “9.95%” is not “about 10%” kind of thing.

Laughable, isn’t it?

I’m wondering what is playing in IJ’s mind these day. Read somewhere that he is an avid guitarist. Several good rounds of jamming would shut all the crap out.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Pemanduan Berhemat

You have to pity Pemandu CEO Idris Jala these days.

Suddenly, in the eyes of the public, he is the subsidy “Bogey Man”. Never mind that he had apparently re-asserted his qualifications for the “bankruptcy” statement. (Not the one about being like Greek, though. Curious that especially since the European Union member is allegedly corrupted to the hilt if detractors are to be believed.)

Now Bernama says Awang Adek says Malaysia will not go bankrupt in 2019 even if a subsidy totalling RM74bil a year is continued. (Not verbatim, but paraphrase so expect qualifications here to.)

What does that say? That Idris is talking cock. That “the country’s economy would not be as bad as it had been portrayed such as not being able to repay its debts should the Government continue its subsidy programme.

Being essentially the government’s mouthpiece, such reports are to be expected from the backlash so far from the “talking” public. Subsidies, and correspondingly the inflationary pressure in their doing away with, are thing no right-minded politicians (unless you’re in the opposition) will want to touch.

Exactly the reason why Idris is IT. IT being the Bogey Man.

Never mind. Brickbats notwithstanding, Idris (and all those TOP people) don’t need ANY subsidy unlike the rest of us Rakyats in meeting ends.

The fact that they still do get them must irk them a whole lot, eh?