Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Indie Ink: Faking A Smile

The clock ticks on, yet sleep eludes her still.

She doesn't toss or turn though, choosing instead to stare fixedly at the luminous second hand of her alarm clock. The steady staccato 'tick' of each passing second fails to lull her to sleep, and with each minute, and hour, she grows more convinced that she will lie like this till morning.

She forces her eyes closed one more time, forcing her tired brain to dream, yet like a blank slate it remains bare, waiting for someone to touch it in a way it will understand.

And she knows who that someone is.

She smiles, as she thinks of him. His lively, light brown eyes, and his laugh; the loud one when among friends, and the softer, more personal chuckle he reserved only for when they were alone together. She imagines his strong arms around her, carrying her away to distant and exotic locations. Anywhere would do, as long as he was there.

Suddenly, there's a sound at the door, and her eyes fly open as her dream evaporates in an instant. There's a pause, and heavy footsteps slowly enter the room. Her body involuntarily tenses, waiting, apprehensive.

"Are you awake?", a slurred voice says to her from the direction of the door.

She turns over, slowly, feigning sleepiness.

"Yes, yes I am ", she replies, softly.

"Good. What are you doing?"

"Dreaming. Of you..", she lies.

In the dim light, she can see a lopsided smile spread across his face.

"Good...", he drawls, slowly walking towards her, while taking off his clothes. His black, cold eyes light with a dull, ugly sparkle as he climbs into the bed with her.

She takes a quick breath, looks him dead in those eyes and smiles wide, a smile that is as warm as it is forced.  He doesn't notice it either way. As for her, well; for yet another night, her hopes have abandoned her for reality, her memories of a better time deserting her when she needed them the most. Her dreams of 'him', lost in the sands of time, confined to her subconscious, never to be realised except in the waning hours of daylight.

And so, the clock ticks on, yet happiness eludes her still.

My second attempt at the Indie Ink Writing Challenge (for my other entry, click here). My challenge this week was simply "Faking A Smile", given to me by Joe Sanders. In turn, I challenged Jason Hughes with a rather complicated challenge of writing a 'tragic romance' that was centered around breakfast (don't ask!). You can see his response here.
I seem to have a thing about writing dramatic fiction centered around women. I'm sure someone will probably psychoanalyse me for that, but please don't bother. For this particular post I was inspired by Pearl Jam's "Better Man" as well. I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Pop Music Is Infiltrating Your Brain And Turning It Into Mush

A couple days ago while browsing some music on Youtube with my brother, we stumbled across some songs which had been reversed for 'fun'. When he asked why anyone would do that, I explained the concept of back-masking to him. I was rather hazy on the details myself, so we went through this Wikipedia page. For those who want the summarized version - back-masking is a technique used in music where certain parts of a recording are recorded in reverse and then played forward. These recordings sound completely unintelligible and unique played forward, and only become coherent when they are played backwards. Back in the eighties and nineties, everyone got very worked up because some artists were using this technique to include some rather disturbing messages about Satan and drugs in their songs. My brother was especially shocked to hear that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" has been alleged to contain a pretty strange satanic message in it as well.

Now while a lot of this can be disputed, it's still a bit unsettling. I'm not entirely sure how much of it is authentic, but the thought that there were people out there trying to send secret messages into your brain was so enticing that the hype carried the story for over a decade. Fast forward to the 21st Century and we don't talk about 'subliminal messages' anymore unless the person doing it is bald and in a wheelchair.

"Your iPhone is not tracking you. I repeat, your iPhone is NOT.."
But then, the music we listen to these days is far more damaging and deceitful than some random backwards balderdash about worshipping Satan. No, those Satanists from back in the day have all retired, knowing full well that when it comes to subliminal messages and deceiving listeners, modern day pop music is in a class of its own.

Given below are three of the most ridiculous songs that we didn't know were ridiculous till we actually listened to the song.

No.3 : Kelly Rowland - Motivation

When I first heard this tune it was already no.1 on the Billboard R&B charts. On the surface the track seems like a very sexy, smooth R&B song by the very talented (and often under-rated) Kelly Rowland, and that was that. Then there's the very distracting video, reminding us that Beyonce wasn't the only member of Destiny's Child that had that 'oomph' factor.

But have you really listened to the song? The sexual connotations are blatantly obvious, unlike other raunchy tracks where the double meanings are all somewhat implied rather than really laid out in front of you. But in 'Motivation', Kelly isn't really giving us any where else to look is she? She's as subtle as a peaceful protest involving arson, vandalism and looting (too soon?).

Oh lover, don’t you dare slow down
Go longer, you can last more rounds
Push harder, you're almost there now
So go lover, make mama proud

Yeah. So she's just being very encouraging, and supportive, because obviously her man is some form of long distance track and field athlete, desperately 'pushing harder' and 'going longer' so he can 'last more rounds'. Or not.

Look I get that most hip hop and R&B songs are about sex, but at least they are done somewhat tastefully, or at least attempt to use some tongue-in-cheek in their lyrics. But even Li'l Wayne can't save this song:

Uh, girl I turn that thing into a rainforest
Rain on my head, call that brainstorming

Yeah, you tell her Wayne. Just hope you don't fall in love with an orangutan in there.

(If you got that reference without clicking the link, you win a 1000 internets.)

No. 2 : Nicole Scherzingerburger - Right There

Nicole Scherzinger isn't your average pop diva, though I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps being part of the Pussycat Dolls who so blatantly flaunted their sex appeal to compensate for a marked lack of talent helped, or perhaps being surrounded by such mediocre group members made her look decidedly above average in comparison. 

Still, the girl has a voice. She seems intelligent (she's dating Lewis Hamilton, someone who, you would think, wouldn't date an air-head). You would assume this would be an advantage, but no; in the music industry, you have to be a attractive and appear stupid. So it stands to reason her big hit is a song in which she sounds like a bit of an idiot. 

I have no idea what 'accent' (if you call it that) she's adopted for this song, nor do I know why she's aspiring to sound like Rihanna, a native of Barbados and the owner of the most successful nasal voice in the industry. But no, despite the catchy beats and tune, Nicole somehow manages to sound utterly ridiculous.

Exhibit A:

Come here baby and be my baby
And be my baby oh oh oh
Come here baby put your hands on my body
Hands on my body oh oh oh
Right there keep it right there
I love when you put it right there oh oh oh
Yeah yeah oh oh oh

Yeah. Oh oh. Oh. Oh oh yeah. Oh. Yeah. Probably some satanic message encrypted in that.

But it gets better.

Exhibit B:

No you never gonna let no girl take him from me
Never gonna let no girl steal him from me
Never gonna let a girl get that close now
I tell 'em eh eh you're too close now

Sounds rather un-ladylike, don't you think? "Eh! Eh!! EH!! You're too close now okay?? Back off!! He miiiine...!"

And then the pièce de résistance:

I like the way that you talk dirty
Don't wash your mouth out I like it dirty

I can't, I just - I can't take it. I give up. No wonder Nicole shakes her booty every 20 seconds in her video, it's to distract from the lyrics her song.

No.1 : Katy Perry - E.T.

There are some songs that are so memorable, you can relate the very first time you heard it play. I first heard Incubus' "Drive" in 2001 January on local radio. I loved it, I couldn't wait to hear it again. I first heard Santana's "Smooth" on the World Chart Show while in my bedroom. I couldn't believe that guy was from Matchbox Twenty, and I couldn't believe my dad knew who Santana was. I first heard Katy Perry's "E.T." while driving to Colombo. I almost drove my car into the back of a truck while staring at my radio in disbelief.

The fact that this song climbed all the way to no.1 on the Billboard charts (and stayed there for 5 weeks) has almost shattered my faith in the charts completely. The only plausible explanation for why Katy Perry would write about her alien fetish is if in fact she didn't write it. Perhaps it was a joke song that her comic hubby Russell Brand wrote for some stand-up gig he was doing, only the wifey found it in his drawers and decided that it was perfect to showcase her 'range' and 'musical variety'.

Here's a sample:

They say, be afraid
You're not like the others
Futuristic lover
Different DNA
They don't understand you

According to the interwebs, the song is supposedly about 'falling in love with a foreigner'. No doubt, if all Americans feel this way about foreigners and treat them accordingly, this would explain why half the world is (or was) trying to nuke them.

Bring on the chorus!

Kiss me, kiss me
Infect me with your love and
Fill me with your poison

Take me, take me
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction

Boy, you're an alien
Your touch so foreign
It's supernatural

Who wouldn't want to sing along to that?

Oh there's more:

I wanna walk on your wave length
And be there when you vibrate
For you I'll risk it all

You hear that? "All". Just to be there when you 'vibrate'. Because her man is a cell phone.

But my favourite part has to be this:

You're so supersonic
Wanna feel your powers
Stun me with your lasers

STUN ME WITH YOUR LASERS?! I guess in Katy Perry's candy-land world, the act of making love involves her shooting whipped cream out of her boobs till he 'laser-stuns' her into exploding fireworks.

Step 1: Initiate contact


Mission complete. Return to star base.

Any other songs that I may have missed? Feel free to add them in the comments below!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Darkside Does Malaysia: Part 3

Wow, I'm really stretching this out aren't I? Well this is the last one, I promise!

Day 4

Day 4 was our big day: the day we head out to the Pinnacles. As I explained earlier, the whole trek is about 3 days up and down, so today we were planning on reaching the base camp by evening and resting for the climb the next day. Our journey started from the Reserve HQ, where we were all bundled into these small boats. They were similar to catamarans, except without the outrider. They were long and could only carry about 5-6 people if they sat one behind the other. The famous rainforest rains had struck that morning, forcing us to wear our bright yellow ponchos which we had purchased the other day from the store. They were more like brightly coloured polythene bags folded together, but they did the job. Of course, R being the professional camper/hiker extraordinnaire, he had an actual poncho which made us look rather silly. Either way, we were off in the boats, the three of us and two others who were joining us for the hike. The journey was broken into 3; the first stop was at a small local village that was selling handicrafts, and the second was at another set of caves along the river. We were joined by 2 other boats, filled with people who were only coming this far; the next leg would be only the 5 of us.

We got off the boats and climbed up the wooden walkways to the next set of caves. 'Beautiful' is the only word that comes to mind when I remember them now. The fact that nature could form such artistic formations makes me question how our brains process art and beauty (perhaps a post for another time). The first cave we saw was 'Wind Cave', named so because in the middle of the cave there was a gian skylight-like opening on the roof of the cave, which generates a strong internal breeze within the cave. Our guide told us that rescue workers train at this cave opening by rappelling down the entrance. I wish I had a good picture to show you just how daunting a task that appeared!

We then went on to the next cave, a smaller one called 'Lady Cave' (named so because the shadows formed looked ladies apparently), before moving onto the bigger 'Clearwater Cave'. This cave had a underground stream running through the cave, bringing back memories of Tom Sawyer and old Famous Five books. On entering the cave we had to cross a small bridge across the river. Our guide pointed to the source of the river, which was shrouded in unlit darkness, and told us that 'adventure caving' happened here. Eight hours of climbing and swimming in the darkness, with just harnesses and torches! Gazing into the utter blackness, I could only imagine the levels of bravery or sheer lunacy required for someone to do that.

Dude looks like a lady?

On the bottom right you can see the underwater stream

A quick lunch, and the rest of the boats headed back while ours headed up the river. We went on for another hour or so, apprehensively watching the skies to see if there was a chance of it being clear the next day. We had heard that the group that were at the camp site today coudn't climb because of the rain, and we were worried that the same fate would befall us.

After an hour or so, we were looking for some sort of jetty which would indicate our boat journey had come to an end, so imagine my surprise when suddenly the motors cut, and the boat just drifted to the bank where our guide politely signalled us to get off the boat! Nothing to stand on, so we just pulled on the bamboo shoots jutting out of the mud, and somehow scrambled to land. The guide gave us our bags, pointed us in the direction we should go, and left us. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous now; there was just a barely-there jungle track, and a  small sign with an arrow. So, we picked up our bags and away we went. After an hour we saw the first sign post that said "8km". Eight kilometres through the jungle, with nothing but a mud track and a few stones to show the way. I was psyched! It was extremely exhilarating to trek through that, climbing over tree trunks and crossing small streams, the odd moss-eaten wooden bridge along the way. We doubled back on the river a couple of times, so our old friends the rope-bridges were there to greet us. However we made good time, and within two hours or so we had covered the 8.5 km's and arrived at the clearing that was Camp 5.

They called this a 'path'?

The view from Camp 5

The camp was nothing much to look at but the surroundings were beautiful; right at the river, and under the massive Mt. Mulu. Beautiful view, and very scenic; we unpacked in our rather spartan quarters (we basically got a rubber exercise mat as a bed) and divided the rations for the next day (we had to prepare our own meals for the hike; they provided the kitchen). Our guide gave us a quick run through of what we should expect for the next day. We were to leave around 630am, that is, if the weather held up. The climb would be 2.4 km long (whoa.) and we'd climb to an elevation of about 1.1 km as well (whoa). I can't remember the exact breakdown, but it was something along the lines of: first 30% is easy, next 50% harder, last 20% super hard. Day 5 was going to be very, very interesting.

We feasted on Maggi and tried to sleep, though the cold and lack of blankets/pillows etc made it a lot harder than I thought it would. I slept fitfully at best, and before I knew it, our 5am wakeup call had arrived.

Day 5 & 6

 On Day 5, my body gave up on me.

As planned we started the day early, eagerly checking the the skies to see if the weather was good enough to climb the mountain. To our relief the guide said we were good to go, so we packed our backpacks, carried our 3 liters of water each and started up the mountain. However, within minutes I knew something was wrong; I could feel my muscles going stiff, and I was breathing a lot harder than usual. I was determined to keep up with the rest of the group, but within half an hour I knew I was in trouble. The climb was gentle, but for someone who is more used to walking long distances in a straight line, climbing up a mountain even for short distances may seem a lot harder than it is. Pretty soon, t-shirts were off, and my back-pack was taken by S who wasn't carrying one. The guide stopped every now and then to check on me, but I managed to convince him that I was just going to be very slow and to go ahead without me. To this day I'm not sure what exactly happened; perhaps a combination of the previous days hike, lack of sleep and breakfast. Or maybe I had grossly over-estimated my level of fitness. Pretty soon, the group had vanished from sight, and the group that had started after me had overtaken me.

You see a way up here?

Honestly, after an hour of climbing that mountain, I was ready to give up. The climb was gradually getting harder now, and the limestone was sharp and unforgiving. Any wrong step resulted in a sharp cut along your legs, any slip of the hands were met with the same. The path was even less defined than the previous day, but the broken branches and a few wooden posts here and there led the way. The sun was slowly coming out, but I was careful to not drink too much water. I felt like a 100kg's already!

After 2 hours I had already decided to turn back at least 5 times. The jungle was warmer now, and the climb was much steeper, intermingled with a few ropes and iron clamps hammered into the rock to serve as makeshift ladders. Every now and then I caught a glimpse of the group ahead but I had no plans on catching them; my body just wouldn't allow it. Trying to repeat the few hiking tips I had been told ("Don't stop, just keep moving forward at a steady pace, no matter how slow") I forged ahead but the one thing that kept running through my head was that the climb down is said to be even harder than the climb up.

Just after the 2 hour mark I reached the last stretch, and then onwards it was just jungle gym. Ropes, ladders, and razor sharp rocks; it was ridiculous, especially for someone who was already completely burnt out! I have never been that exhausted in my life, and I have never pushed myself beyond the limit like that! I was so embarrassed that the rest of the group had outstripped me so easily but at that time I was more concerned with just making it up the mountain.

Seriously. What?!

2300m up the mountain, another 100m to go

Finally, after three hours, we reached the top, and boy, what a sight!

We relaxed up here for an hour or so, eating lunch. Wait, we would have eaten lunch, but we rather unfortunately forgot to pack it. So there we were, starving while everyone else around us was feasting away. Not pleasant.

After an extended picture session, we started our trek downwards. I will spare you the details, needless to say, I barely made it down; dead last but alive! My knees were shot to hell and my quads felt like they were on fire but I made it somehow, washed off, and dove into the ice cold river. What. A. Feeling. And what a journey!

The evening was spent recuperating and playing cards, and the next morning we once again woke up early and took off for our 8.5km hike back to the spot we got dropped off. Thankfully I had somewhat recovered and we made it back in almost the same time we had taken to reach the camp. The boat picked us up and within a few hours we had stumbled back into our dormitory.

Day 7

The next day was spent mainly travelling, as our flight took us back to Kota Kinabalu by afternoon. We had a few hours to kill, so we made a quick trip into the city to have some lunch. We got dropped at the biggest mall there, roamed around for a while and had a quite fantastic chicken biriyani. R finally shaved his unsightly beard, if only because he was going to with S to Singapore, where the girls are apparently more attractive. I wouldn't know, as I was scheduled to fly to Colombo that night via KL. 

Finally the time came to part ways, and so we said our goodbyes in the airport as R and S headed to Singapore while I waited for my KL flight. Despite it being just a week of travel, we had all seen and done so much that the journey felt ten times longer than it was! As I watched them leave I felt a strange sense of accomplishment, because this was the first time I had ever made a trip like this on my own, with my own finances. The fact that this trip came together so quickly and so last minute was just amazing; I'm so glad I decided to throw caution to the winds and just say "Yes, let's do this!". 

After a few delays and an agonizing 5 hour wait in the KL airport from midnight to 5am for my flight to Colombo, I finally touched down on home soil. I couldn't wait to tell everyone about my trip, but I just knew that no matter how much I explained it all, you really had to be there to experience it. Fantastic trip, can't wait to plan another 'adventure-vacation' soon!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...