Monday, April 29, 2013

An addiction matter.


 Candy Crush Saga

Hi everyone, I'm AleO. and I'm a Candy Crusholic.

My addiction started about a month ago when I saw my colleague playing Candy Crush Saga in the office. By that time, I knew what it was from the frequent posts in Facebook but I wasn't interested. Yet.

All of that changed when I downloaded the app in my phone.

What started as an innocent trial thing turned into an ugly addiction.

At first glance, the game seemed pretty easy and innocent - with colourful candies, cute, inviting music and those delicious sound of candies crushing, I was hooked instantaneously. I just loved hearing the Candy Man's voice saying "Delicious!", "Sweet!", "Divine!" and of course, the ever anticipated "Sugar Rush!"

The relief of completing a level (especially the hard ones) is unexplainable - it's like a mixture of happiness, relief and YES, I'VE DONE IT all at the same time. A big sigh of relief - and maybe a tinge of cockiness knowing that you scored the highest amongst your friends in Facebook.

I even like the sound of saying "Candy Crush" out loud. (Come on, try it! It sounds delicious and sweet, don't you think?)

Ever since Candy Crush Saga came into my life, I see candies dancing everywhere. When I'm not on it, I see them dancing in my brain, even when I'm hanging out with friends - I'll sit quietly and think about those deliciously annoying candies, plotting my next move. "I'll get you, I'll get you!"

I also avoid looking at the animated crying little girl whenever "Level Failed"
 
As of now, in the office, with tonnes of work on my desk, all I can think about is Candy Crush Saga. My heart is pumping fast and all I can think about is getting pass level 133. I try to avoid playing on my phone in the office because it will drain the heck out of the battery so I'll play it on the computer. (Fast tip: if you run out of lives in your phone, your life is still full in the computer. But I'm pretty sure you know about this already, don't you?)

My friends suggested I check myself in the Candy Crush Rehabilitation Centre but I'm just not ready yet. I'm pretty sure if I check myself in, I'll check myself out after a few days (or maybe a day?) - the LiLo of the Candy Crush world. Instead, I've come here, in the Candy Crush Anonymous Support Group.

What seemed like a happy place full of bright, colourful and delicious candies has turned into a dark candy forest with evil chocolates and candy "move" bombs. I am still waiting to crawl out of this candy darkness that I, myself am not ready to embark, yet. 

Bring it on, level 133. Bring it on.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Of Bindi and Robert Irwin, the Wildlife Warriors

Last week, I had the chance to meet and interview a wonderful young lady by the name of Bindi Irwin. If you're familiar with the name, she's the daughter of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.

I didn't know what to expect when I got my assignment - I even thought she was still the seven year old little girl who spoke on her late father's memorial. But she wasn't anymore. Instead, she's grown into a teenager now. A 14 year old teenager.

To be honest, I was quite surprised at how grown up she was when I saw her picture on the event invitation. Wow. Time really flies. It seems like only yesterday Steve Irwin left us.

Well, it was seven years ago (can you believe it?).

Bindi came with her mother, Terri and younger brother, Robert. I was quite surprised at how alike Robert is with his dad. They have the same blonde hair, eyes and mouth - with the exception of the hair (Robert's hair is quite straight and Steve was kinda curly). I even felt a tinge of sadness knowing that Steve was not there, they seem somewhat incomplete without the Crocodile Hunter himself.

So anyway, I got the chance to interview both of the Irwin kids and let me tell you, they were so matured and so poised. Even young Robert, who's only 9. Sure he's still a kid (he even spaced out when people interviewed Bindi), but when it was his turn to answer them, he answered it like a pro.

And Bindi was just lovely and smart. She was so enthusiastic (Robert too - reminded me of their dad) and lively. We (well, me mostly, I didn't know about the others) were even taken aback when she asked us what was our favourite animal at the start of the interview (She said that it's a great way to know what kind of a person you are by knowing your favourite animal) - definitely a great ice breaking session because I was feeling a bit nervous (yess, journos get nervous too you know! We hide behind smiles and questions but deep inside, we get nervous. Well, I get nervous. I don't know about the others.) Because I didn't see the question coming (and because I was the first one to answer - there were four of us, like a mini group interview), I answered the first animal that popped in my head - Lion. Why? she asked. I said the lion's really majestic.

When I thought about it, as much as I like lions, I like sharks more. The great white shark, to be exact. There's something about them that's so majestic and strong. They're so graceful and so, so beautiful. Even the sight of them can make someone weak to their knees and they look so respected. It's heartbreaking that the great white is close to extinction. Such beautiful creatures, killed for their fins. Ever since I watched how they cut off their fins, I have banned all shark made products - mainly shark's fins. STOP EATING THEM. PERIOD.

I even got the chance to ask her about the article she wrote for Hilary Clinton's e-journal on conservation. She wrote about overpopulation and the article was heavily edited. You can read the original and edited article here. It's pretty interesting, knowing that it was written by a teenager.

I had fun interviewing them - definitely a highlight. Plus, it's not everyday I get to meet the Crocodile Hunter's family. Great kids, and hope they would be great adults too!


The Irwin family


Love,
AleO.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Of Guns N' Roses

Ahh the 90s. The era of hard rock, grunge, cut off jeans and bad ass attitude. 

Don’t you just love it?
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I was still a chubby little girl back then and by chubby, I really mean chubby. And because of this chubbiness, my level of cuteness skyrocketed because I had cream puff of a cheek (well, two cheeks), red pouty lips and round, dark brown eyes. I swear, you would find me so cute, you would even want to pinch my puffed cheeks everytime you see me. Just think Michelin tyres and Marshmallow Man. 
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And of course, like any other little 4 or 5 year old girls, I was such an angel *batting eyelashes*
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An angel who listened to Guns N’ Roses. Pretty bad ass huh?
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Back in those days, my brothers were rambunctious teenage boys. And what do rambunctious teenage boys listened to in the 90s? Not New Kids On The Block, that I can assure you.
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American bands like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Nirvana were pretty big, even here, in not-so-tiny Malaysia. My brothers were the biggest Guns N’ Roses fans. They had cassettes and VCRs (much, much cooler than DVDs and MP3 players, IMO) and they would turn on their songs all the time. And me, being the sweetheart of a little sister, stayed in their room and listened to songs like Paradise City, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Welcome To The Jungle, Rocket Queen, Estranged, etc.. It was kind of funny thinking about it now because I didn't understand what the lyrics were but when I heard it, as an adult I was like.. "Whooaa! I heard THIS when I was small?" Hahaha.
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I can still remember the time when they taught me the names of the members.
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Older bro #1: Siapa ni (Who’s this)? *points to Duff McKagan*
Little me: Ohh.. tu (that’s) Duff McKagan!
Older bro #1: Dia main apa? (What instrument does he play?)
Little me: Gitar! (Guitar)
Older bro #1: Haa.. gitar but dia main bass (Yes, guitar but he plays the bass).
Older bro #2: Ni siapa ni (Who’s this)? *points to Axl Rose*
Little me: Axl Rose!
 
*Older bro #1 and #2 laughed and said very good!*
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And it went on to other members up to the names of their songs. And I aced each of their questions.
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I don’t really remember 100 percent of my days back then, but I remember sneaking into their rooms (when they were sleeping) and turned on the tv and watched their GNR Live in Tokyo and their music videos VCR. I remember sitting infront of the tv, just watching and marvelling at those bad ass boys. Axl with his long, straight, red hair, Duff with his puffy blonde hair, Slash with his Curly Sue-like hair and top hat, Matt with his clean, tattoo-free arms, Izzy with his cool sunnies and black vest, Steven Adler the small, blonde drummer and Gilby Clarke with his scarf dangling. 
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Of course, my favourite was Axl Rose, no doubt (because he was, and still is the lead singer) and I had a mad crush on Duff McKagan (still have. I read his columns every week on Seattle Weekly's website and am dying to get my hands on his book but Malaysia doesn't sell them. Sad.). There was something about him that made me feel all happy (still do). Maybe his mannerisms? I don’t know. I was little (no I'm not, now. I've turned a quarter of a century old). Lol.
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My mum used to use Axl Rose’s name to get me to bed by saying Axl’s kid goes to bed early (Of course, Axl didn’t have a kid but I was small, and believed anyway. Lol.).
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Fast forward 20 years later: There I was, the then 24 year old Journalist (it was 24th March and I turned 25 on 31st March) and my two 30 something brothers stood infront of the stage, waiting for our childhood ‘hero’ (well, MY childhood hero). 
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The man himself, Axl Rose. And Bumblefoot.
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As the sky began to darken, the excitement began to flare up. We could hear screams of GUNS N’ ROSES chants from the ever eager audiences (I might have chanted too, at one point). At 8.15pm on the dot (nope, they weren’t late!), the lights went off, screams began to get louder and music started blaring. 
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And there he was.. the man himself, Mr. Axl Rose, right infront of me, just centimetres away. All of those memories from when I was 5, the excitement, the happiness, all bubbled up in one big ball of emotion even I could not explain. I was so unbelievably excited and happy and grateful at the same time and even at one point, felt like crying. Now I know what those die hard crying fans felt like. I was THAT die hard fan. I told myself repetitiously to not cry and to get a grip (I’m pretty sure if I cried, the band could’ve seen me cos I was right infront). So I focused on the music and the moment and managed to suck it up. And screamed  and sang instead (I memorized ALL of their songs, well with the exception of their new songs but I know the chorus!).
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Though he was far from the young Axl Rose (with t-shirts and tights who ran here and there), the present Axl Rose was still bad ass! He ran here and there, just like when he was in his 20s, his voice was still powerful (loud but less screechy), and still so bad ass. Well, I guess that's what rockers are. A bunch of bad asses. Great bad asses.

Oh, I even caught the bad-ass vibes from Axl myself because I swore all the time (For example, I kept on screaming “AXL I F***ING LOVE YOU! F here, and F there) – which is funny cause I don’t usually swear (well, not infront of my brothers anyway. Lol).
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I even began liking Bumblefoot and DJ Ashba more (I wasn't really familiar with the new members before this) but after hearing and watching them play live, I was mesmerized. They were so good and so.. cool. Needless to say, they gained a new fan that night *ME*.
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There were so many highlights – There was this one point, Axl was singing and doing his thing, I of course, being the ever superfan, waved at him. He actually looked at me and waved back! I didn’t know what to feel at that point, I think I froze for a bit. Yep, I froze. Haha.
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My brother even got DJ Ashba’s guitar pick! So bro #2 was enjoying the performance and suddenly he felt something hit his nose. He thought somebody threw a pebble at him and looked down, LO AND BEHOLD, it was a guitar pick! Both bro #1 and I was in total shock and told him to quickly put the pick in his bag. Then, bro #2 looked up at DJ Ashba, who was doing HIS thing with the guitar and he saw Ashba gave him a small wink. I don't think anybody knew about this because Ashba was being sneaky.
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How awesome.
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All of the childhood memories, the songs, the happiness that entail with it, all brought up into that one memorable night I will never, ever forget.
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20 years worth of waiting. 
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As of now, with Rocket Queen in my ears, the excitement still stays within me. Whenever I hear a GNR song, I will always remember the night I went to watch them live. Thank you so much for rocking Malaysia! You guys were beyond great. This is definitely a story for the future kids. "Back when mommy was in her 20s, mommy saw this legendary rock band..." Well, you get the idea.
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And, what was really special, I got to share this wonderful experience with BOTH of my brothers, the ones who introduced me to GNR. I guess you could say we were a bunch of kids trapped in an adult's body that night. But, each of our adult bodies became really tired towards the end (I think adult Aleza's back wanted to break because of the standing-for-five-hours-plus but the kid Aleza TRAPPED in the adult body was raging to get out so.. Aleza was having conflicts with herself? Oh who am I kidding.) But it was all worth it.
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P/S. Because I am only a poor parenting journalist, I could not afford a RM500 something F1 ticket (GNR performed in the After Race F1 Concert) so my sister and parents offered to chip in for my birthday. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you all to bits and pieces. :)
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Oh, btw, I even got a reply tweet from Bumblefoot wishing me Happy Birthday! Ahh... turning 25 has never been so good :)
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Love,
AleO.