Aku no Hana

It has been a while I got this excited for an anime. In fact, I can't remember the last anime that got me all worked out like this. Needless to say, I think Aku no Hana is a very awesome anime. I definitely recommended it to everyone.

A Year Older: Again

It’s that day when I got another level up in life. I’m turning a year older again today. So many things have changed in a course of a year. I read what I wrote on my birthday last year and I almost choked with laughter at how ridiculous everything sounds.

Goodbye 2012 and Hallo 2013

So overall, year 2012 has indeed been kinder to me. I have achieved what I set out to achieve but most importantly, I unexpectedly found love which is easily the highlight of the year for me.

Light Writings: Love II

I need an outlet to express how I feel nowadays. To be honest, things are going too good for me at the moment to the point that I am sort of living in fear for I do not want these extremely good feelings, and the love I have for him to end. If all these are gone tomorrow, there is a big probability that I might lose sanity.

Light Writings: Crush II

Welp, looks like we are having this conversation again after so many years. Well 2 years and 3 months to be exact. The last time I wrote about my crush, I was in a different state of mind where I know it can be nothing more than just that, a crush.

25 March 2007

This end of the rainbow

TeotrThis is the first English novel by the notorious Adibah Amin.

The story basically was about a group of student at University of Malaya in Singapore in 1950's. The protagonist in this book took the name of Ayu, a gentle Malay girl who drop medicine study to be a writer.

I was lost a bit when I read the first few pages but then it started to flow. It started out when she was ragged at the university by Han, the Cynic. Already it touched on the sensitive subjects of racism.

And yep, you was right. The main theme that link all these different circumstances in this book is race relations, reflecting the general state of the Malayan at that period in time.

The tension that growing between the races concerns Ayu. This makes her explore variety of situatioins involving her characters that will brought you flashback after flashbacks; remembering conversation among childhood friends, the loss of her father and her friends when Japanese invaded Malaya, her mother's fight for independence, her hatred towards the British, etc, including Han's family history. Adibah Amin brought you to and fro to the future seamlessly which is a great thing otherwise it could be rather confusing.

The situations and questions being posed is recognizable and all too familiar in today Malaysian societies. The only difference is the issues are not presented as frankly and as unbiased as it did back then.

All the characters (and they are many of them) are very believable. This probably because many are based on real people known to Adibah. For example Ayu's mother is obviously inspired by the authur's own mother, the Umno freedom-fighter, Ibu Zain.

Han in my opinion is the most memorable character in this book. Han's family were murdered by the Malays during communist terror. It was because of misunderstanding between these two races. The Malays saw Chinese as one of the communist while the Chinese saw the Malays as 'pak turut' communist. It took sometimes for him to realize the pain truth. He who was expelled for the ragging incident form a multi-racial political society to ease racial tension. He tried to coaxed Ayu to joined the group but Ayu refused for her own reasons.

There was also Rizal, who Ayu claimed remains as good friend. I can surely sense the romance between these two.

The most touching part on this book for me when Adibah narrated the fight that Dato' Onn and the other independence figure fought for Independence. Almost brought tears to my eyes.

It is the same fresh, simple and direct style as her writing through her column As I Was Passing in the NST. This book is an easy read, and it is also eye-opening, especially if you are not familiar with Malaysia’s pre-independence days and the social unrest of the 1950s. I am not ashamed to admit that I was pretty shocked myself to learn what had happened during that period. This is the kind of ignorance that Adibah wants to educate in this book of hers.

18 March 2007

Australian GP

Australiangp_1Kimi Raikkonen of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro wins the Australian Grand Prix from pole today on his debut race for the team. Fernando Alonso finished second place with gap of 7.242 seconds behind the Finn. The rookie Lewis Hamilton finished third after his stunning race debut and finish on podium for his first outing for McLaren. Nick Heidfeld’s finishes third for BMW Sauber F1 Team. Felipe Massa was unable to pass Giancarlo Fisichella and has to be satisfied with sixth place behind the Italian. Nico Rosberg got 2 points for WilliamsF1 and the last point of the race belongs to Ralf Schumacher of Panasonic Toyota Racing.

It was a clean start of the race with Raikkonen leading with Heidfeld second. Alosno was cut off by Heidfeld as the five red lights went off which allowed Hamilton to get in front of the Spaniard. Kubica hold on to fifth place. Fisichella in 6th place, Webber 7th and Schumacher 8th. Felipe Massa who started at the back of the grid after he had an engine changed moved up to 18th place after the first lap.

After lap 5 Barrichello started to feel frustrated. He feels Button who was at 13th place held him back. Massa moved up to 15th place.

Heidfeld who was the only driver on soft compound tyres holding up nicely on second place but brought the gap between him and Raikkonen bigger up to almost 7 secs after 9 laps. But the two McLarens were not really catching up on him either.

Christijan Albers made contact with the barriers at turn 6 at lap 11 which put him out of the race. He is the first casualty of Australian Grand Prix.

Heidfeld went to the pit for schedule pitstop at lap 14 to fill in the fuel. The soft tyres compound stayed at least for the first round of his pitstop. This promoted Lewis to second place and Alonso third. Heidfeld get back on the track behind Webber in 7th place. Barrichello managed to pass Button on lap 15 and put him on clear air to catch up Nico Rosberg.

Massa passed Button on lap 16 and he’s concentrating to close the gap to the top ten drivers.

Raikkonen leads to 15 second off both McLaren. The Finn made his schedule pitstop on lap 18, earlier than everyone expected which put Lewis as the race leader on his race debut for McLaren. He came out behind Kubica on 4th place.

McLaren ready for Alonso’s pitstop on lap 22 and Hamilton on lap 23. It was an impressive run from Hamilton who ran for qualifying with more fuel than Alonso. Its was pretty nip and tuck between those two. With both McLarens went in the pits, Raikkonen lead the race once again.

After the first round of pitstop the placing for top eight were: Raikkonnen, Hamilton, Alonso, Kubica, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Schumacher and Rosberg.

Speed who had problems with understeer and went wide on lap 28. He was the third casualties of the race.

Button gets a drive through penalty because he was speeding in the pitlane when he made his first pitstop on lap 30. This put him at the back of the grid and was once again has to fought his way up the grid.

Kubica slowed down on track on lap 37 and went limping to the pit garage. He evidently went out of the race. It looked like he got problem with his gearbox. This put Heidfeld behind him to 4th place.

Raikkonen went for his final pitstop on lap 41. Hamilton once again led the race from Alonso. 3 laps later Hamilton went for his second pitstop, but was badly held up by Sato in the Super Aguri. This cost him the second place for the race and just have to settled for third.

At lap 51, Coulthard had an accident with Wurz. The Austrian didn’t saw the Britton coming and the inevitable happened putting both of them out of the race.

Massa, the only driver who opted the one stop strategy, finished 6th. His car however was not as fast as his team-mate Raikkonen.

Fastest lap of the race goes to Kimi Raikkonen in Scuderia Ferrrari Marlboro with 1:25.235 seconds.

p/s: There will be no report for Malaysian GP as I'll be covering the event first hand.

16 March 2007

Part Two: 2007 FIA Formula One Championship Preview

40233_070037aus_780x520_1 In Part Two of the 2007 FIA Formula One Championship Preview, I will introduce you to the teams and the drivers that are contesting for the Championship this year. Without further a due, let us take a look at the challenges that we can expect on the grid.

Fernando Alonso has been settling pretty well in his new team as showed during the pre-season winter testing where he almost always topped the testing sheet. His transition so far had been seamless. He immediately goes down to work to start his campaign to defense his title. If McLaren managed to solve their reliabilities issues, Fernando has a very good chance to score a hat-trick and we all know he is capable of it. However he might needs to look on his rear mirror more often for his team-mates Lewis Hamilton than on both Ferrari drivers. Lewis Hamilton is a long-time protégé of McLaren and its shows that he got real talent when the team trusted him to run alongside the Spaniard for the Championship campaign. It has been a long time since the team hires a rookie to fill in the race seat at McLaren. From the pre-season testing, McLaren MP4-22 is looking good for the championship. Their only worry would be the Ferrari…

There is no number one driver status at Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro which is a very significant difference after the post-Schumacher era. The team had been said that both drivers are given the chance to prove themselves and earn the status. During winter testing, Felipe Massa frequently swapped places with Fernando Alonso topping the testing sheet while Kimi Raikkonen has been not as quick as people predicted he would be in the new F2007. These two are immense rivals. Pundits had been quick to say that Kimi Raikkonen might find a harder task to win the championship than he had anticipated if he did not familiarized to his new team soon. I just think that he was sand bagging. On the other hand, Felipe Massa is highly motivated and his experience with the team has paid off extremely well. With Michael Schumacher out of the picture he does not have to make way for his team mate on the track. He is one of the favorites for the World Drivers Championship title beside his team mate and Fernando Alonso. With two strong drivers, and their long and fruitful relationship with Bridgestone, I put my money on Ferrari to snath the World Title from Renault.

After the departure of Fernando Alonso, the World Champion ING Renault F1 Team is sticking with their Italian driver, Giancarlo Fisichella for continuity and stability. Another new rookie on the grid, Heikki Kovalainen will be his partner. Heikki has been impressive in GP2 and his results in testing convinced Flavio Briatore that he is ready for Formula One debut. No one doubts that Renault has a fast engine underneath their machine R27. It is their drivers that people have little faith in. Giancarlo Fisichella was destroyed by Alonso for the past couple of years which should not have happened with his abundance experience. Although the Finn is highly rated and might possibility be the next big thing, it is still not proven that he can be Alonso successor. Lets all agree, it is quite a darn big shoe he is filling in for. They will be lucky if they can finish third in the Championship.

Honda Racing F1 Team has been struggling in pre-season testing. They are sticking with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello as their race drivers and hire a former Red Bull driver Christian Klien as their third driver. With Button finally score his first elusive win at Hungary last season, the team must be hungry for another such feat but judging from the RA107, which mostly lacks the aerodynamic grip, they need to do a lot more improvements before they can start challenging for the front spot. Barrichello does not set the world on fire either on his first year with Honda last season. He was frequently outpaced by his team mate and if things remain status quo at Honda this season, he might find it hard to find another team that is willing to hire him. Honda is supplying engine for the Super Aguri or also known as the Honda B team but since pre-season testing, the Super Aguri had been doing surprising well. Sometimes they even managed to out run the Hondas. Focus is now on the Honda team and many are scrutinizing them. Some even question, which is the real B team?

Through out pre-season testing, BMW Sauber F1 Team had been performing extremely well, quicker than expected. It also makes few pundits predicting the team to be up there challenging for the title. Why not? With the state-of-the-art windtunnel, the world fastest computer and two very good and capable drivers who will be driving the BMW F1.07, the World Title definitely is not completely out of their grasp. Nick Heidfeld is still driving and fully committed to the team. The German’s experience and expertise are very valuable assets. This could be the year he scores his first win especially with the team looking so promising in the pre-season testing. Robert Kubica who replaced Jacques Villeneuve for the last remaining six races of last season will be Heidfeld’s team mate. His impressive performances on his debut and a podium later on secure him the race seat. He is the most talk about rookie at the moment. Some even says that he will breathing down Nick’s neck and snatch the first win for the team. With him in the team, Nick certainly has up his game and the inter-rivalry between these two drivers is one of the exciting things we should look out for through out this season. As for the team itself, they are certainly has their eyes on the top three spots for the championship. The only setback at the moment is their reliability issue with their gearbox. If they can overcome that, we might see the BMW Sauber F1 drivers regularly on the podium, or challenging for the win.

This is the fifth year Panasonic Toyota Racing contested in the FIA Formula One World Championship and basically we expected more from them especially with their unlimited resources. Last season was not a good season for the Toyota team. This year they hope to recuperate and start their challenge on the big boys. Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher remain to help the team achieving their goals in the TF107. Jarno Trulli had just signed a three-year contract with the team and his long-term commitment will definitely help Toyota progress in team of experience and continuity. Ralf Schumacher on the other hand is eager to prove himself as his contract will end at the end of this season. He will push to his limit and if the results are anything like the Toyota had hope for, he might be looking at a contract renewal deal. I am sure Toyota does not have any difficulty to pay his ridiculous amount of salary. The team is eager to make sure the team they supplied their engine to, WilliamsF1, will not finish ahead of them in the Championship. The task is actually harder than it looks.

WilliamsF1 team finished the Championship at seventh place last season. It was the worst results in their F1 history. Probably the absent of BMW engine were hurting them more than they are willing to admit. Now, with Toyota engine at the back of FW28, the whole team is fire up to make sure it will never happen again. With Mark Webber now moved to Red Bull Racing, Nico Rosberg will be partnering Alexander Wurz who had been promoted from the third driver status. Rosberg was one of the rookie that disappoint me last year after so much promised and hype that had surround him before he enters the Formula One scene. The only highlight of his season would be the fastest lap that he set at the Bahrain GP. Other than that his performances were pretty much forgettable. This season he have to make sure to up his game and proved not only to the world but as well to himself that he truly earn his race seat. If he can do this, I believe the German will improve tremendously. As for Alex Wurz, he has a lot of work to do. Racing and testing are two different things and if he can conquer the racing part, WilliamsF1 team definitely would not be in the slump for much longer. They definitely will be satisfied if they can beat Toyota to the Championship.

Red Bull Racing will be running the RB2 with a Renault engine at the back of the car. RB2 much anticipated car that was designed by the former McLaren guru, Adrian Newey. This car is believed to be the key for the team to challenge for the Championship. How much truth is it, we just have to wait and see. From what I have seen so far, I think Newey has lost his magic touch. David Coulthard is still leading the team with Mark Webber as his teammate. Both have been very enthusiastic about the prospect of the new season but realistically they probably will be fighting with the like of Toyota and Williams to claim the fifth spot in the Championship.

Spyker F1 Team is relatively a new team after they bought the Midland F1 Team last season. They will be running Christijan Albers and a rookie from Germany, Adrian Sutil. Their main focus for the Championship would be not to finish last in every race weekend. Also, I would not be surprised if they sold this team to a new owner before the season ends. This team has changed two owners since it was bought from Eddie Jordan back in 2004.

Scuderia Toro Rosso will be using a Ferrari engine. STR2 is using the same chassis as Red Bull. Many are disputing this issue as it is contra to the regulation which stated that every team needs to build its own chassis. Of course the Toro Rosso claimed they built their own chassis but even the blind can see the uncanny similarity between the chassis. So far the issue has settle down but we will hear about it again if the Toro Rosso starts outrun the other teams. Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed are staying as their race drivers for this year. The announcement of the drivers were hold off until just before the season start which made both Liuzzi and Speed shed some sweats, worrying about their future in Formula One. Toro Rosso’s goal for the Championship is to beat their big brother Red Bull Racing team and if they can do this, it can prove one thing: Ferrari is the faster engine than the Renault.

Last but not least, let us take a look at Super Aguri. This team could be the surprise of the year. They will be running with Honda engine at the back of SA07 whose chassis was handed down by Honda. This mean the Super Aguri is using last year’s Honda chassis. Nonetheless the chassis were rebuilt by Super Aguri and this made it pass the FIA scrutiny. SA07 first run at the Australian GP were more than impressive considering it was never run before beating both the Honda cars in practices. SA07 was launched couple of days before the GP and had zero miles on its track record. Takuma Sato even managed to put the Aguri in top ten for the qualifying. There are already talks of dissatisfaction among other teams and if Aguri impressive performance continues, we might see a law suit to be brought up. I bet my 2 dollars that Super Aguri will win the case if there is happen to be one. Anthony Davidson is the other driver in the race seat. He had done brilliantly in pre-season testing and his performance last Sunday has put him back on the racing map. Jenson who?

My predictions for the World Constructors Championship in order would be Ferrari with McLaren coming in close second. BMW Sauber will take the third spot and Renault finishes behind them. Fifth spot is a toss between Toyota, Williams, Aguri and Honda. Then in ninth place it will be Red Bull while Toro Rosso and Spyker F1 battle it out not to be in last place.

As for the World Driver Championship, I predict either one of the Ferrari drivers to win it because Ferrari are the most dominant team out there on the grid but at the same time I am not discounting Alonso. The Spaniard had won two titles in not the fastest car underneath him so I certainly think he can do it again.

That is all for my 2007 season preview. Till next time...

15 March 2007

Part One: 2007 FIA Formula One Championship Preview

40237_070041aus_780x520_1 In this Part One of the 2007 FIA Formula One Championship Preview, I am going to touch on the seats-swapped for several drivers this year, the rookies, the engine deals and also the one and only tyre supplier for this season, Bridgestone.

It’s a brand new start of the season as the Australian GP closed it curtain to make ways for the 2006 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix that will be held on April 8, 2007. This is also the first post-Schumacher season and there are plenty of things for motorsports fans to look forward to.

First let’s take a look at the seats swapped. The double World Champion Fernando Alonso started the season with a new team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, replacing his nemesis Kimi Raikkonen who is filling a very big shoe of Michael Schumacher at the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. So far both Alonso and Raikkonen have been doing pretty impressive with their new team. Seemingly they have no problem adapting to their new working environment. Mark Webber moves from WilliamsF1 Team to Red Bull Racing. He will be partnering the oldest driver on the grid David Coulthard.

There are practically 5 rookies this year if you want to include Robert Kubica who had a splendid debut with BMW Sauber F1 Team last year and Anthony Davidson who had been filling several seats for Minardi and Super Aguri for the past several years. The eyes however are focuses on the GP2 Champion Lewis Hamilton who is driving for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Heikki Kovalainen who is driving for the ING Renault F1 Team. Both are young and mega talented and it came to no surprise if there are mountains of hopes on their shoulder to fight for the Championship this year. Adrian Sutil is not really a new face on the grid as he had been the third and Friday driver for Midland F1 Racing team last year. He is replacing Tiago Monteiro and has his own battle to win, which is to outpace his team mate Christijan Albers every other weekend.

Ferrari is supplying engines to Scuderia Toro Rosso while Renault will be supplying engines to Red Bull Racing. It will be interesting to see which one of these two teams will come out on top. It will prove one way of the other how good and reliable is the engine compared to the other. WilliamsF1 Team supplies Panasonic Toyota Racing with it seamless gearbox while Toyota supplies engines to the team. Wiliams is eager to bounce back from the worst ever result from last season and perhaps with the Toyota engine at the back of the FW28 car they may challenge for the top spot again. Toyota of course would not want to miss on the fun and it is a question mark whether they will give Williams the same engine specifications as the one that they will be using. Surely they do not one to see Williams finish ahead of them in the Championship? Super Aguri F1 Team (or also known as Honda’s B Team) will continue using Honda engines.

There are no more Michelin tyres for the team this year. Bridgestone will supply all tyres to the teams which means there are no more tyre war. Bridgestone supply two types of tyres for the race weekend which are the soft compound and the hard compound. The teams need to use these two sets of tyres during the course of the race. It is mandatory. Soft compound is more risky over long distance but have more grip than the harder tyres. It will be a strategy call for the team to use which tyre for the car and at what time will be perfect to change it.

We will continue with the teams and their drivers that will be contested in this year’s Championship in Part Two of the 2007 FIA Formula One Championship Preview.

14 March 2007

Bleak House

Bleak_house_1 Another of Charles Dickens masterpiece. It is long, tightly plotted and wonderfully descriptive, typical of Dicken's work. It starts a little slow for me but as I turns the pages, I get hooked.

It takes a look at the legal system in London which destroys the innocents, deprive them from their talents and consumes their minds. It also portrays the different conditions and social status of the Londoners. Most of the story came from a narrative written by the Esther Summersons, the protagonist in this contemporary novel by Dickens.

All the characters in this book are affected by the Jarndyce & Jarndyce legal suit in which there will be no winner and bring much desperations and heartache. The impeccable character that connected them together was Esther, the virtuous girl who was taken as a ward by Mr. John Jarndyce, and is beloved by everyone.

I must admit though that I was reluctant at the beginning to see Esther as the all around good girl as narrated by Dickens but the novel is so well-written that I came to believe her as she had been described.

Mr. John Jarndyce is a beneficial older gentleman who is also a guardian to his young cousins, Ada and Richard who fell in love with each other and eventually get married. All four of them, including Esther, reside at Bleak House. Richard soon fall victim of the Jarndyce & Jarndyve lawsuit and rejected any kindness or help from his guardian in his ignorance hope that a settlement from the lawsuit will award him with a fortune.

The attorneys are portray as bloodsucking evil leeches who only care about the money they can squeezed from their clients. One of the most devil-like lawyers, Mr. Tulkinghorn, was murdered and I actually rejoiced the death of that particular character not knowing the misery he brought upon the mysterious Lady Deadlock and the and tragedy that leaves the Deadlock household in ruins.

It is not all bleak though. There are also romantics plots that evolve around Esther and how she comes to be the mistress of Bleak House.

There are over sixty colorful and varied characters so you cannot anticipate who may you encounter at the next page. The best thing is, the story brings everything to full circle and not a character goes to waste. The most memorable characters in the book for me would be Esther the protagonist, Mr. Bucket the detective, George the trooper, Mr. Woodcourt the kind-hearted doctor, Richard and Ada the love birds, Jo the homeless kid and of course Mr. John Jarndyce of Bleak House.

Bleak House is a very entertaining book who have all the qualities of a great classic story. It is poignant, suspenseful, unforgettable and appearances to the contrary, is not bleak at all.

Definitely one not to be missed.

12 March 2007


Mukshin Two words: No pretense.

That's what I like about this movie, or any of Yasmin's movies for that matter.

The other reason why I like this movie is because I can relate to its theme: the falling in love with your bestfriend theme that is.

Mukshin is the prequal to Orked that has grown up in Yasmin's earlier films, Sepet and Gubra. In Mukhsin Orked was 10 and Mukshin the leading boy is 12.

Mukhsin came to Orked's kampung on a school holiday and they met when the boys don't have enough 'kepala' to play the galah panjang. From then on their relationship grows and they got closer after spending lots of time together playing kites, climbing tress, watching football etc.Eventually deeper romantic emotions developed. Both have feelings for the others but it is never been spoken. You can tell by the gestures and the body language though!

One day they had an argument when Mukshin pushed Orked away while they were playing galah panjang (jealous punya pasal). This turns their relationship sour. Mukshin tried everything to reconcile with Orked but he was ignored by Orked until the day Mukshin has to go back to his kampung. Of course it was too late for Orked to meet or say something to Mukhsin so they never met again.

This movie also showed other issues like Orked's neighbor who was facing family crisis, bullying plus moral issue that faced Hussin, a delinquent.

Mukhsin also introduces Jason, the true soulmate of Orked when he was still in school. You just have to know which one is he though. But don't be confused when the grown up Jason and Orked made an appearance in the movie. That scene is very significant in my opinion on how Orked ended up in the future (after Gubra).

Overall I am satisfied with Mukhsin and it is such a sweet love story which brought back many happy (and sad) memories.

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