Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Death to Super Malls

I had a chat with a friend who owns a small store in the city a couple of days back. A guy from an upcoming new mall had approached him to take up a shop lot in the new complex. Its going to be great the Mall Dude says, we're building new roads, we're getting a great retailer mix etc,.... The clincher was that all shop cash registers will be monitored by the mall management so " if your store is not doing well we can reduce your rent". Also mentioned was that "the rent might increase if your store is very popular". We know where that's leading... Some malls in Singapore are practising this already. Looks like mall owners want more of the action besides charging excorbitant prices for space.

I already find going to a mall a royal pain in the ass especially in the weekends. Its nice to walk around but do you REALLY see something that's really special? The retailer mix are almost the same in all the malls. SInce many of us are travellng more abroad we know that the stuff in KL is so-so and the prices are higher. Aren't more of us now going to Singapore as it's got better variety of everything or the ladies heading South to Bandung and Jakarta for the cheap well tailored Kebayas and of course up north to Thailand for fantastically great quality fakes while pampering ourselves with massages for breakfast, lunch and dinner?.

At this rate we're going to be seeing the same brands in all the malls in every corner of the state. I guess that it will probably be fine for a while because don't 80% of us shop impulsively?

But will we want to spend an hour sitting in the traffic, another hour finding a parking spot, and another 3 hours getting stuck between bawling toddlers and shopping carts exploding with engorged Carrefour plastic bags on a weekend? Is it worth the price of that shirt you're going to splurge on only to see its twin at the next company dinner?

I'm digressing. It looks like running a Super Mall is supposedly Big Business. Build it, give it a fancy name, shout it out loud enough and the sheep will come. And the only ones who can afford to get in there are the big retailers and chain stores. The Small guys, the adventurous and unique stores with the personal touch will eventually will be phased out. We'll get drones at cash registers and 'trying their best' to serve us.

Ok, Sg. Wang and Bkt Bintang don't count. I think of Jalan Bukit Bintang as one all encompassing mall. The best mall in Malaysia. You don't need a car to get there. I can even park in Seremban and get my ass there (albeit 2 train stops and 2 hours later - but that's the same time to drive from Subang and get parking there), It got's a fantastic variety of stores esp in Sungei Wang, massage joints both legal and illegal, little alleyways full of knick knacks and little bars, sections that look like little Hong Kong, Little Japan, Orchard Road... etc Hopping from Mall to mall is like moving from one planet to another. We don't have anywhere else like that because Bukit Bintang and all the malls and outlets on it evolved over time. Starhill had to revamp to get the folks in. And we have the upcoming montrosity the Pavillion coming soon.

Malls with delusions of grandeur and not much else are now having to re-look at their direction - Avenue K, oooo... I only want the the Elite of KL, TImes Square, I so fat I can't see my weener...(sorry a metaphor for its confusing layout) and Summit in USJ expect all their patrons will fly over the traffic jam to get to them.

I'd like to believe that all Malaysians are not sheep. We will embrace the small retailer who drives to Bangkok and hand carries back apparel with his own brand and designs, the young kid who flies to Hong Kong to select the latest street wear, the guy who sells retro Air Jordans from Japan and the yound lady selling fabrics and accessories from India. We will want variety. We will want to pay but want to be able to get what we want on our terms or convenience. The popularity of the weekend bazaars is an indication of this.

Let's see where on-line shopping will take us. Of course it wont really replace shopping 'live' but it could take away some traffic from malls. For a fact we don't need to try on a can of sardines or get a fitting for that loaf of bread. So why go all the way to the mall for groceries? Get online. Click. Done. (if you're anal retentive we'll just say that the online retailer in our future will ensure that the cans are not dented and the apples unbruised). Ok Amazon needs to work out the kinks in their system but i think it will take an Asian to figure out how to send groceries to our house cheaply. No more stressed out husbands and wives balancing kids and detergent knocking you over on the Mid Valley escalator.

Hobbies or niche goods- as most of these internet savvy retailers start getting their database you will hope to be able to get information on product and even order stuff to your house - your fav books, your regular hair conditioner, etc. Click, Done! No more women double parking on the road while they dash in to pick up their imported shampoo from France.

And the best part - avoiding malls is a great way from preventing impulsive spending - remember that gym membership you've used only once? Your 27th credit card? The 1 sq ft time-share suite near the beautiful "beach"? That subscription to Life magazine? That pen that transforms into a hovercraft?

Even the mobile phone might be a powerful purchasing medium. In Japan I can buy a burger with my phone credit. As this developes we might have your favourite store sending you updates on latest merchandise that you like direct to your phone and if you think that blouse is going to bring out your eyes than hey send a text and they'll minus the cost from your credit and send it to your home or office. Yes, Yes if it doesn't fit you can send it back.....ok messy but this will still be a long way off and someone smarter than me will sort it out.

I give it 15 to 20 years. Smaller retailers and distributors will embrace the internet as a communication tool and probably take up retails space or have stores in the subburbs or further out. The big boys will adapt or they might end up owning their own real estate and not housed in malls.

Malls? Who knows? They might get taken over by hypermarkets who will then fill up the space with a mix of businesses and services to KEEP their customers longer in the hypermart.

In the meantime, go la, frolic with the masses in KLCC, MidValley, 1U and Sg Wang. Hey aren't there any decent malls in Cheras? Maybe the Cheras folks know something we don't... Anyway, and stay away from Curve, that's the only place i can get parking for my FOS trips.

Lent vs St. Patricks Day

How do church going Irishmen celebrate St Pat's day when it's smack in the middle of the month of Lent where fasting and abstinence is the order of the day? That's a lot of confessions...

A Serani Leprechaun walking his mutant pet coat hanger.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Badly Brought Up

Now I know that the folks in the city are just down right kurang ajar. We already know the sulky specimens that drive around the city but two experiences over the last 10 days have left me wondering if values, manners and all that differentiates us from animals actually exists.

It started with me driving near Atria 10 days ago. I saw an old Uncle Dude who wanted to cross the road. Being the good Seremban fellow whose Mother adores to no end, i stopped my car to let him cross. First off Uncle Dude gives me a hesitant stare that slowly turns into one of those glares that is normally reserve for punks who intentionally piss on your shoe. Then he ables slowly across my line of sight with an Uncle swagger as if he just got his Sexy back, head held high, white bony knees knocking together. No thank you nod, no acknowledgement of my moment of respect for an elder. I had to let it go as I was startled out of my merajuk moment by the impatient horn from the car behind me.

A few days later I found myself in the Labyrinth of Hell that is the Mid Valley Car Park. Another old Uncle Dude (2) was driving out from the new car park section to the exit. I stopped my car to let him come out. He was hesitant which I guess is normal as you city folks hardly give way to others. So I waited and gestured for him to come out. Again the STARE and then he just pulls out in front of me without a backward glance. No thank you. No curt Nod or otherwise. Habis! Gone! When the old folks don't even know the most basic of common courtesies what hope do we have for the future? KL-ites are rushing about caught up in their own issues that they forget that they're SHARING this city with another 3 million people.

A few years ago an older cousin of mine(on my Chinese side), a hard core no- nonsense old school fellow who had scrapped his way about the world told me this - " You're not going to get quality of life in KL. Look around, when you look at someone on the street there, do you think they are happy you were born?" At that time I thought it was a bit extreme. Now, well i guess it's true. To be honest I feel the same sometimes - you in the car, you're causing this massive traffic jam. You in that board room, you're slowing down my project. You there in the club, you're coming on to the same babe I've got my eye on (oh damn, you've got a bigger car!).You with the tie, No, I don't want to share your financial plan! Back off Punk!

But all we have going for us is not basic instincts. Monkeys have that. Kampung chickens have that. Even drugged out lab rats have it. We have intellect yes, and how about compassion which may or may not fuel human understanding which may in turn evolve into respect because you never know when that person across the street may cross paths in some way with your life?

So whomever's dad is an old Uncle Dude with knobbly white knees with glasses who lives around Damansara Jaya, tell him it's all good. I'll still stop for him to pass in the future. Tell him to get some sun though. I've never seen such milky white legs on anyone before...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Holy Biker Boyz Batman!

Now for the first time!LIVE on Pay-per-view! The battle that will top Aliens vs Predators! The over the top duel that will outlast Jason vs Freddy! The one and only Throwdown, no frills slobberknocker that will knock your fillings out! Ladies and Gents we present to you - Mat Rempits vs the Malaysian Snatch Thiefs!
The authorities are really trying to win over the Rempit boys, sad misunderstood punks that they are. Someone's been watching too many movies - get the baddies to hunt down their own and hopefully get them to turn over to the side of good. Maybe an average Rempit's day job is snatch thieving? We'll i guess the Rempits must be quite excited - catch 30 snatch thieves and get a bike free (cub chai?). Won't be easy though. I think on average we actually are witness to one snatching a lifetime? Well I guess its up them to work out the numbers and see if it's worth pontenging work in the daytime to patrol the streets and keep women's handbags safe from the forces of evil.

Scary. A Mat Rempit encouraged to chase after a snatch thief in busy daytime traffic. That's like giving a trench coat to a flasher!

At least there's potential for exciting times ahead! I can't wait. We might get to see drug addicts hunt down pirate VCD sales men, bankrupts going after unlicensed money lenders and Insurance agents going after dodgy multi-level marketing scheme propogators. Booyah!
The Star has more of this at http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/2/16/nation/16896404&sec=nation

"Ooooookaay, which one are we supposed to arrest?"

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Top 5 Stupid Things I've Done

This is going to be a first in my Top 5 Lists as a dedication to High Fidelity. This list does not include all the stupid things i've done to injure myself in sports because then it would be the Top 100 List. Here goes:

1. Taking out my contacts after eating curry flavoured Twisties WITHOUT WASHING MY HANDS.

2. Went with a date to a friend's wedding and THEN going on to pick up a girl i had just started dating (she had made prior plans and i didn't want to go to the wedding alone and very intelligently forgot to tell her i had gone with another woman).

3. Trying to pry open the fake nut on the my plastic hub cap cover when changing a flat tire (the actual nut was under the cover) AND THEN wondering for 5 seconds how did I get so strong when the plastic nut broke off.

4. Leaving the windows in my old rented room open when i went away for a week as i didn't like the musty smell. My room ended up the local Fight Club for the local alley cats - piss, blood and shit all over the place. At least it didn't smell musty.....

5. Trying to attract the attention of a girl by suddenly leaping up in my crowded school canteen and shouting "Fuck Off! Don't touch my curry mee!" (Hey, I was 15...And yes I scared the living shite out of her and thus utter shame and embarrassment ended my fascination with the female species for a good 7 years.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Toybits 3:H/phone v da Cops

After the drama about the would be producer filming the 'cop' taking a bribe with his handphone i bet the police must be a little pissed off as well. Now I'm a little wary what might happen if i do get pulled over for something...."Freeze Punk! Get out of the vehicle and move SLOWLY away
from the mobile phone!"

The Price of Big Biznezz

Ha! Here's a comparison on the price we pay for Big Name brands. As an example I'm using toys as usual, so humour me. Last year Toy Biz, a small toy manufacturer lost the Marvel Comics toy license to toy giant Hasbro, the second largest toy company in the world (next to Barbie's Mattel). Hasbro effectively starts producing toys for Marvel in 2007 onwards. Toys Biz created a series of 12" figures that were fantastically articulated and had great sculpting. Hasbro is just continuing the range with what is similar product. The prices below just shows the generous margins the big boys make from us. So spare a thought when you're in the mood to splurge on a 'quality' product. Go shop FOS y'all!
Toy Biz Wolverine (released Dec '06
Price - RM49.90 (approx USD14)


Hasbro Wolverine (released Feb '07)
Price - RM99.90 (approxUSD27.75)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lovely Weather Eh Old Chap?

The Year of the Pig nutmegs the weather man, turns around on the second day with a dainty feint and scores a scorcher on the 3rd day! This year I think we had the most gentile of Chinese New Year's weather since we started on the road to industrialisation. Cool mornings and gentle breeze made me forget that i'm supposed to be repairing my air-con with the expected heat wave coming hand in hand with CNY.

If this isn't a sign that the weather patterns are officially changing how about flood warnings AND heat wave warnings coming in a span of 3 weeks for Malaysia?

I tried going 'green'. Seperated my glass,plastics and paper y'all. Don't play play, I was a man on a mission. But somehow i lost momentum - this meant i needed 3 waste baskets/ space in my kitchen. I had to carry the heavy newspapers to my car, drive down to the re-cyling bins and dump it. Seemed like so much trouble. Plus i got a bit disillushioned when i realised some residents in Subang don't read English when I saw banana peels, beers cans and what looked like an S&M garter in the bin marked for GLASS. But I haven't given up though. I just make my trip to the Bins about once a month now. Oh yeah, also cancelled my newspaper subscription. Online is good but nothing like flipping through the sports pages while taking a dump...

But of course it not up to us right? Its the government's job. Even if we do know that all the old Sci-Fi movies and books warned us of a world ruled by corporations is already coming true. The governments these days need more and more money and we're no help to them. We're just bitching about everything and caught up in our own little problems. Its best they work with willing partners who see the big picture, long term be damned.

I can't stop that factory from polluting our streams or that contractor from dumping construction waste in the forest reserve behind my house or the building of that massive dam that will clean out more forests. Yeah, I'll just sit here, scratch my balls and hope it all goes away....

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fulham 0 -Tottenham 4

No you read right. Spurs won AWAY with 4 unreplied. They must be a bookie's wet dream with their ridiculous inconsistency. Oh wait, they ARE sponsored by a gaming company...

They can beat Chelsea today and yet lose to Garden International School's under-14 girls team tomorrow. Defence is suspect, Midfield is erratic but Robinson and the boys upfront are world class. Oh well here's looking to a good run in the FA Cup. Anyone know where i can get a fake Spurs shirt in asian size?

Figs for Sale 1

Here be some action figures I'm selling. These are some of my fav pieces and they're still new in package as i didn't have space to display. Premium price for some as its hard to come by. Drop me an email if anything catches your eye.


The Matrix Chateau Scene boxed set. Buy this. Create a little cut out of yourself, remove the figures and stick the cutout of smug little you on the staircase sipping champagne. Post a picture on MySpace or your Friendster for instant popularity! Buy instant on-line groupies for RM250.






WANDA
You know your girl friend is getting impatient. She wants you to pop the question before the month is out. You’re smart, you’re brilliant, you buy her this sexy Wanda in her wedding gown figure to buy some time. Your woman thinks it’s a warm-up proposal and leaves you be. Splash out RM55.00 for a temporary reprieve to single life.











AL SIMMONS VS SPAWN
The perfect Jantan gift to macho men all over. This is a beautiful sculpted action figure set of Special Ops dude Al Simmons having a go at his alter ego Spawn. Based on the Todd McFarlane inspired comic we get to see the before and after incarnations of one too many liposuctions. RM90.00



FILLERBUNNY is the creation of cult cartoonist Jhonen Vasquez. This pink bunny was created when Mr. Vasquez needed to fill unused ad pages in his comics. The manic character in the comics lives only to be used to fill blank pages, wishing for death so that he can end his misery – similar to our feelings when shoe shopping with the missus on a weekend. Get this symbol of man’s hapless existence for RM50.





Mandarin Spawn
With Balinese, Thai and Japanese influences make this a most excellent piece to compliment all the teak wood furniture in your condo. Comes with a double edged sword almost twice his height and an elaborate shield (not shown). The package has some discolouration but its perfect inside. A great way to look metro-sexual and bad ass at the same time - RM150.





Loose Women for Sale 1



As some of you might know I'm selling off some of my toys to make way for some new stuff coming in. I'll be putting pics on here from time to time. Anyone keen to buy just send me an email. Here's the first batch of loose but extremely sexy figures (out of package)
The Black Canary (left) and her fishnet stockings are RM 50. Normal RM79.90. Comes with a base.
Vampirella (above) is also going for RM50(normal RM79.90). Comes with the base and a bunch of accesories for killing vampires and multi-level sales people.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

HAPPY CNY BOYS AND GIRLS!

If you're reading this then you've survived the 8 hour commute back to mum's home cooked food and the mahjong sessions. If you're still in the city i guess you must be wondering what the hell you're going to be doing for the next 3 days. the clubs will still be running and the malls should be open. Oh yeah anyone taking public transport into the city be prepared to be sardined in the non- express buses or the Seremban commuter train as all the foreign workers are heading into KL to party for the 3 days break they are getting.

And I don't care what Lilian Too and her flock of seers are saying about an arsed luck year of the Hog, I'm making my own good fortune.

KONG HEI FATT CHOY FOLKS!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pale Rider


The Marvel February Curse continues. Nick Cage just can't carry this show. Eva Mendes was in full on bimbo mode. The effects were so-so and the pace was meandering in places. Marvel characters were always about the human spirit, the everyman. You didn't need some big name star or pretty boy to bring them to life. All you needed was a director that respected the material and a solid cast - See Blade,Spiderman, X-men and FF compared to so called actor driven vehicle flops like Daredevil, Elektra, Catwoman(ok-la, this is DC) and now Ghost Rider. Greed? Just churn them out stick some big name and the sheep will come? Oh well...Uh, i'm not sure about the Hulk as I'm sure it was just a very bad dream.

Its all down to the directors. I don't know if its just me but i noticed all the directors who had hits based on literary characters were comic book geeks or just did their research really well. In all the preproduction interviews i noticed folks like Bryan SInger, Sam Raimi and even Peter Jackson all spoke cautiously. "staying close to the source material, studying the history, keeping the spirit of the comic, we're doing our best..., etc" were words coming from them. There was no typical brash words of Hit! Blow your minds, etc and all that crap.

Look at the stylish Constantine and Hell Boy last year. These are shows that you can watch over and over again. Constantine especially was cool as they actually built a solid fast paced MTV style flick with content AND heart around a coat rack that looked strangely like Keanu Reeves. And of course brilliant casting kick-started Ron Pearlman's career again in Hellboy.

Well if you've already bought your ticket then wait for the coolest scene in the show in the last 20 minutes when the Caretaker escorts the Ghost Rider to his first day at school. Even gives him something to tide him over till recess....


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentines Day the Aftermath or the cluelessness of men

" But Honey, my mum also likes that restaurant!
And she brought the roses too.... "

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Donald vs Vince

Yet again the WWE has proven one of the most versatile and far reaching and recognisable marketing brands around when Donald Trump threw his well coiffed noggin into the wrestling ring on Monday night RAW. Ok so there is a story line that will stretch out at least to Wrestlemania on April 1st but Trump's a business man. What new product is he hoping to pitch to the WWE target market? Heaven forbid that the Apprentice ratings are dropping and he needs some extra juice.

And what irony that trailer park trash Kevin Federline used WWE to promote his rap album only about 2-3 months back. Stallone came on in January to promote the new Rocky movie.

A look at their some Licensing deals will show the vastness and variety of their fan base - Toys of course, fashion apparel for men, women and kids, home video, BBQ sauce and grills, beer, PC and Console games, Recording music albums, Movies, auto-biographies, cook books and even a book on fund management!

It's good to see that WWE is still holding on to the largest fan demographic around - 6 to 60, middle income to fund managers to billionares! I really think that the red necks have moved away to monster trucks and hunting possum and illegal mexicans.

Toybits 2

" Chill la brudder, 2nd hand vehicle value down! No difference if it doesn't use petrol. Maybe you can lease to AirAsia X for their new long haul flights..."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Toy Bits 1

"Fuk man, these credit card sales
people are everywhere!"



The History of Valentine's Day

Commercialism bordering on mush but i guess as long as there are tweeny boppers and sex and the city desciples out there i guess it will still make money for memory lane and la-di-da makan joints. My contribution today - a quick history lesson on the V-day. Did it for a local mag last year that didn't pay me so what the hell...

THE HISTORY OF VALENTINES DAY

Fore score and several years ago when I was single and working near Lot 10, I walked out to get a meal with a friend after work and was shocked to find almost all the tables in all the restaurants in the general vicinity reserved. Bukit Bintang was buzzing, the traffic was gridlocked, people were rushing to the expensive dinners but were all simultaneously caught up in the jam. We went to a mamak instead. About 9pm after a couple of beers we went out to the street and swore we saw the same people in their cars, still stuck in the jam, looking miserable but with one difference – all the women were clutching roses in their hands!

I swore from that day on that there would be no time in my life for this ridiculous extravagance. However since you’re reading this my friend you’ve probably made plans already. So read on you poor sod and learn more why you’re spending so much on the one you love or desperately want to shag.

The Popular Myth
The version you’re probably most familiar with is that of Saint Valentine, a kind a gentle Roman priest who married off young couples against the wishes of the Emperor Claudius II. For helping out star crossed lovers in their moments of duress, the dude was beheaded for his troubles. Hence the birth of Valentine’s Day, the scourge of men’s wallets everywhere!

Here’s what we fond out
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia there were actually 3 different Saint Valentines. This hat-trick of Love Doctors were seemingly all martyrs and also seemingly quite obscure.

The 3 gentlemen are:
1. A priest in Rome who suffered martyrdom in the second half of the 3rd century and was buried on the Via Flaminia.


2. A bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) also suffered martyrdom in the second half of the 3rd century and was also buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location than the priest.

3. A martyr in North Africa, about whom little else is known

F3 – February Fertility Festivals
The association of the middle of February with love and fertility dates to ancient times. In the calendar of Ancient Athens, the period between mid January and mid February was the month of Gamelion, which was dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera.
In Ancient Rome, the day of February 15 was Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus, the god of fertility, who was represented as half-naked and dressed in goat skins. You might remember him for his wimpish cameo in the Chronicles of Narnia or his more flamboyant incarnations as Pan or Puck aka Robin Goodfellow from A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

As part of the purification ritual, the priests of Lupercus would sacrifice goats to the god, and after drinking wine, they would run through the streets of Rome holding pieces of the goat skin above their heads, touching anyone they met. Some accounts say they were actually wacking the folks instead of just touching. Anyway, young women especially would come forth voluntarily for the occasion, in the belief that being so touched would render them fruitful and bring easy childbirth.
The connection between St. Valentine and romantic love is not mentioned in any early histories and is regarded by historians as purely a matter of legend.

The feast of St. Valentine was first declared to be on February 14 by Pope Gelasius I in 496. There is a widespread legend that he created the day to counter the practice held on Lupercalia of young men and women pairing off as lovers by drawing their names out of an urn, but this practice is not attested in any sources from that era.

In the 19th century, relics of St. Valentine were donated by Pope Gregory XVI to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, which has become a popular place of pilgrimage on February 14.

In 1969, as part of a larger effort to pare down the number of saint days of purely legendary origin, the Church removed St. Valentine's Day as an official holiday from its calendar.

So dudes and dudettes, while you’re mulling over that expensive bottle of wine, have a thought for 3 mysterious martyrs, a goat legged God of Fertility and the counter measures of the Catholic Church against ancient pagan rituals.

Here’s also to you getting some nookie tonight.