Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Visit to Restaurant Talipon (Jalan Kuchai Lama)

"...Can call all you want but there's no one home, you're not gonna reach my telephone. I out in the club and I'm sippin that bub, you're not gonna reach my telephone..."

I don't know why but my mind has been busy buzzin Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' for the past few weeks as I extended invitation after invitation to very busy people for a visit to (where else?), Restaurant Talipon along Jalan Kuchai Lama.
Restaurant Talipon. "Talipon" is the old Malay pronouciation of "Telephone". ;) Nowadays the proper spelling for "Telephone" in Malay is "Telefon". ;)(Is there someone rolling back their eyes back there?)

The usual reply were things like:-

"Sorry, I've got wedding dinner this weekend"

"No thanks, got other plans oledi"

"Got to do household work today :-("

"I can't join. Have dinner with friends later...", bla bla bla... (Yeah, and you know who you are! :p)

Well, whether the overly negative responses to my invitations were an aversion to Lady Gaga's telephone (hmmm, maybe my constant redention of her song at the karaoke is scarring people off?), Restaurant Talipon's food itself (why????) or the SENDER himself, I leave it to the processing powers of others to fathom. :p

In any case, I still managed to scrap together a small posse of three, consisting Kam Keong, Jady and myself for a visit to staunch my intense craving for BBQ Steamboat food! :p

Once on Jalan Kuchai Lama, it is really quite hard to miss the restaurant along the side of the road. From Old Klang Road (Jalan Klang Lama), take the traffic light junction into Jalan Kuchai Lama. You'll have to go over a rather high slope, before finding a slip road running parallel called Jalan Indrahana 1.
The name of the road parallel to Jalan Kuchai Lama where Restaurant Talipon is situated (complete with Ah Long stickers!)

Restaurant Talifon is right next to the signboard and across from an Air Asia advertisment promoting flights to Chengdu featuring two cute pandas(at least that's what the advertisment board was showing at the time of this writing) ;). For those with the benefit of GPS guidance (hey it's the 21st century! ;)), the coordinates for the restaurant is N 03 5.470', E101 40.842'.

We arrived at Restaurant Talipon at about 7:45pm on a Sunday night. There were still quite a number of seats available, although after 8:00pm the restaurant was packed full. :p
Almost full at 8pm...

What I like about the place is that it is one of the few steamboat restaurants that actually allows you to BBQ your food around the soupy steamboat pot. In fact, the relative size of the pot vs the area available for the BBQ seems to imply more of an emphasis on the BBQ than the traditional steamboat soup option.
The steamboat pot and BBQ plate combination...

Settling down, I went over to the counter where the foods are arranged to be picked up by eager customers. Oh, and did I mention that tthe place is almost 100% self service? Chopsticks, plates, spoons, forks, bowls, sauces will have be brought back yourselves to your tables from a communal tray.

To open up the taste buds, the restaurant offers a choice of fried wan tans, fried rice, curry chicken, fried chicken and below average sushi :p. I skipped all that and went straight for the main course.

Choices for the BBQ range from black pepper marinated beef, chicken, pork, to curry powder covered fish, chicken marinated satay style and even pieces of sliced chinese sausage!
The BBQ choices, notice the 'self service' sign...

For the soupy side, you'll have a choice of clams, lala, 'see-hum', mushrooms, pork intestines, meat balls, fish balls and lots of vegetables.

When preparing the BBQ plate, don't forget to grab a few scoops of butter. They are the clumps of yellowish durian fruit looking stuff on a plastic sauce plate located on the table near the sauces. The butter is used to lubricate the BBQ plate as overtime, burnt pieces of skin and meat tend to stick to the BBQ surface rendering it eventually useless. :p

For soups, I believe there is only one standard choice as the Bangladeshi looking workers there didn't present us with alternatives. So if your idea of having steamboat is to have varieties of soups for boiling your food (ie. asam soup, herbal soup etc.), this is probably not the place for you :p.
Soup? Well there seems to be ONE choice...

Also, there is a 'no wastage' rule which is posted on boards located near the food pits. Apparently, 'every 100gm of food wastage you will be fined RM5'.... how much this is enforced I am not sure as a table of Thai speaking people sitting right next to us left 'unmolested' with I guess more than a few hundred grams of food left there unattended. :p

Switching to 'buffet' eating mode, Jady, Kam Keong and myself ate slowly but steadily, going for a few rounds until we were stuffed. Fortunately I had already put in a 'deposit' at the gym before I came over. ;)

For drinks, we had the standard chinese tea in a pot, although fruits juices and soft drinks are available for order. Ice creams, fruits and ice kacang are choices for dessert. The total cost per head? RM21.80 for adults and RM12.00 for children. Of course there is an extra charge for the drinks.
Prices per head are advertised on the board behind... click the pic to enlarge. ;)

The crowds begin to thin after 10:30pm, the dessert table becoming more popular as people wind down from the main course.
Empty tables begin to pop up here and there as the night progresed...

We stuck around for a quite a while as Jady and Kam Keong exchanged 'life experiences'... ;) Only after I have received a summon from Vincent and Eric to attend our weekend football gathering at Emak Nik did I *ahem*, drop a hint that it is time to perhaps go(?). ;)

We left Restaurant Talipon at 11:00pm, stomaches full and Lady Gaga finally silenced (for a while at least). ;)

Friday, November 5, 2010

48 Hour Film Project! Shooting and Death Scenes!

It’s always hard to wake up in the wee hours of the morning on a Saturday. The time is 6:30am and I am finding it hard to establish motor control over my body despite my alarm already hollering for the last 15 minutes :p. After doing the necessary morning rituals, I was back on the NKVE, hurtling towards TTDI to gather with the others at Linus's place. We had breakfast at our common haunt, Devi's Corner, before heading out to the 1st shooting stop, the bus stop along Jalan Dato' Sulaiman, TTDI.
On the set with the team...

For this shoot, most of the dialogue will be in good old, Bahasa Malaysia. ;) Therefore the expertise of our thespian, Mr. Faisal is needed for this task. While we filled our bellies, Faisal and Kay Lee were busy working and 'feeling' out the translated script. ;) The shoot started at about 9am, with Kay Lee and Nurafidah starring after their faces were generously doused with makeup by our artist, Lyana Dee ;).
Lyana Dee (Daffy's makeup artiste) working her magic...

The weather was generally cooperative, the sun was up with little cloud cover, although the sound of passing traffic was quite a nuisance. Apparently, the people of TTDI with their better access to bigger and more powerful cars tend to create a larger amount of noise when they drive by, VROOOOMMMMM!!! ;) As we are filming at the bus stop, our activities also managed to attract a few people within passing buses (it is a bus stop after all ;)) although fortunately no crowds formed around the shooting area (I wonder if it was done in my hometown, Klang, what would happen?) ;).
Filming at the bus stop. Surprisingly this outwardly 'mundane' looking public amenity is quite popular as a film set! :)

Prior to the shoot, my director gave me an active chance to contribute to the 'wellbeing' of the shoot. Calling out my name initially illicited a confused response because on this very fine day, there were two 'Eddie's' on the set, the other one being our Director of Photography (who also seems to have an affinity for red Mazdas :D). The 'task' our director reserved for 'Eddie' leaves no doubt as to which 'Eddie' he was calling out. It was to pick up rubbish around the bus stop so that the set don't look so dirty, something which I guess would have made the other 'Eddie' go bonkers. :p *Sigh* The things I do for my 15 secs of fame... :p ;).

After 3 hours of golf ball swirling in a glass jar and bizarre explanations of how someone could keep a love one forever at one's side, we finally took a break at about 1:00pm for lunch, a little bit behind schedule.
Kay Lee must be thinking, "Little ball, little ball in a jar, who is the fairest of them all?" ;)

By now, I had a second task from our esteemed director and that is to ensure everyone gets fed their share of chicken rice. For 'halal' fare, Sum assisted me by getting the required foodstuff from Devi's. Meal time over, we went over to the next set, a motorcycle shop in Kayu Ara. There was a brief spell of rain which fortunately petered out rather quickly. No matter, we were 'safe' as the next shoot is held indoors.
At the recently 'commandeered' motorcycle shop in Kayu Ara

Located close to where we shot House about a year ago, the motorcycle shop was 'commandeered' by our ever resourceful Mr. Dennis, for a small fee to the owner of course. Thankfully there were also no muscular thugs to harrass us like the last time. Guess now is the time I get to fulfill my '15 seconds of fame', posing as the protagonist's father's motorcycle riding friend ;).
Ah... Director Linus giving pointers to a noob... :p ;)

Greeting Mr. Danial Mamat (Faisal), I was to exclaim about his new name tag, his mispelt name and then comment about his daughter as she passed by. The longest line I had was, 'Wah, tiap kali saya datang, anak you semakin membesar. Dahlah macam mak dia, Cantik pun macam mak dia'. That was however, reduced to 'Wah, anak you semakin membesar ya?". Why? Well, because we are shooting on celluloid, so if you mess up that's one length of unretrievable useless tape, oh as well as oh... one minor detail? I kept forgetting the extended line! :D
"Fuyoh! Ada name tag baruuuuuu!!!" ;)

Admittedly, I was rather pleased that the remark on my little star protagonist was mostly removed, the line did sound a little bit 'not right'. ;) At length, it was Faisal, who acted opposite me that had to babble a long string of stuff after my line. No sweat for our veteran thespian! :D

I had to leave quickly after the motorcycle shop scene as I had appointments galore this day. Pretty unusual really, because my Saturdays are usually quite vacant for this 'quantum singularity' ;). After redoing the scene from different angles and almost being made to a 'tango' with Faisal, I had to reluctantly bid the crew goodbye. :( My phone was already buzzing with people waiting for me at the next destination. ;)

At this point, I do have to mention one rather strange event that happened during the shoot though. It sort of happened while Carol was holding the clapper board in front of me and Faisal as we were made to do the near tango for the camera. She apparently saw 'someone' passed behind the both of us on the monitor that was hooked up with the camera. Eddie (the other one), who was behind the camera saw that 'someone' passing behind as well. Now this is where the 'strange' and a little 'bone chilling' part comes in.
Creepy... Brrr... :S

EVERYONE knew where they were and NOONE on the set saw ANYONE passing behind us at that point of time!!! :p We can't confirm anything at that time because the camera that we had cannot have the film rewound and replayed to show that scene on the display monitor. I'm told that length of film can only be replayed when it is being editted in the studio later on. Kinda ironic isn't it that our genre is er... 'HORROR'? :p
The team! :D

In any case, the whole experience was definately FUN! :D A lot different from what I would usually do as a mundane engineer, preparing datasheets and material handling studies, staring at numbers and tinkering with formulae all day :p. A breath of fresh air indeed! :D

Experiences like this also provides me with a unique opportunity to get to know new people from professions on the very opposite side of the spectrum (science vs fine arts) like Kay Lee, Faisal, Lyana and Eddie (the other one ;)).

My early departure did rob me of one very interesting experience though. Faisal's Death SCENE!
Hmm... Forensics team member or 'makeup artiste in her element? ;)

Ah... but then again, maybe we should wait patiently for the release of Linus's film and marvel at the movie magic, eh?

Death by Power Tool anyone? ;)

48 Hour Film Project! Between Hollywood and Deng Xiao Ping

Friday, 29th October 2010. I groaned as my eyes sweep in the sight of a sea of rear red hazard lamps lighted up like a Christmas tree over a snake like form that stretches from where I was just after the Subang Jaya toll down to the main artery of the NKVE. The usual Friday madness once more and I was going to be late (again)… ;)

I was headed towards TTDI, towards Linus’s house exactly, for an 8:00pm meeting to discuss on a script for his latest foray into the limelight. Sponsored by FINAS, the Kuala Lumpur 48 hour film challenge as its name suggests, requires that we cover the entire film production process, from writing the script, to shooting, dubbing, all the way down to the submission of the finished product at FINAS on Sunday 7:30pm, 31st October 2010 in a mere 48 hours!

I arrived just as the familiar figure of a pizza delivery guy was passing over boxes of goodies to yet another familiar looking long haired person over the gate. “I’ve arrived just in time, it seems!” I exclaimed as I greeted Linus. It was 8:30pm.
Mouth Watering Pizza! Courtesy of our Director, Linus... :)

Entering his home, I was introduced to the other members of the ‘board’, consisting of 6 ‘artsy -(fartsy)’ members. First up was Chris, whom I was told is a sound effects master, followed by Faisal and Kay Lee, both of whom are theatre actors. The rest are the usual suspects, Carol whom aside from fulfilling her full time role as Linus’s girlfriend and sidekick, is functioning as the project manager for this outfit. Dennis; Linus’s Art Director, Tarantulla Tamer and Survival Man Extraordinaire; and last but definitely not the least, ‘Maestro’ Linus of course, movie director with a suicidal streak and a penchant of feeding nonconventional choices of food to his pet phyton. ;)
The MAESTRO himself!

Most of the pizza had gone down the hatch when I was told of our genre we’ve got from a lucky draw held at FINAS earlier on. It was… HORROR! :D (something which our Director admitted he has little experience in doing). There were other choices, the least appealing of all was ‘MUSICAL’ which generated a round of applause to the lady that picked it off the ‘hat’ from the other participants at FINAS.

Aside from adhering to the genre, all participants also had to insert in a few specified plot elements. Ours was notably a golf ball as well as the name and profession of a character (Danial Mamat, salesman) including a specific line to be mentioned in the short film (“Okay, so what’s the problem now?”).
The plot thickens...

At the end of a 2 hour brainstorming session, two ideas for the storyline has been hashed out. Initially, the top contender was Chris’s idea developed from the Malay belief of ‘Susuk’, which was proposed as a plot basis by Faisal. ‘Susuk’ was basically a practice of inserting an object beneath the skin into some part of the body, the object supposedly bestowing the wearer with certain desired characteristics albeit at a price.

Certain taboos had to be maintained, the breaking of one might result in the wearer being cursed. Removing the curse, which was going to be the main basis of Chris’s story, would require the wearer to do ‘terrible, horrible’ things. ;)

Most of us were receptive to Chris’s idea which promised visually stunning scenes and effects.

Our Director had other ideas. ;)

“Of course I wanted this to be fun for everyone and don’t want to be some dictator imposing my ideas on everyone,” said Linus in his monotone even as he coolly scribbled images on his storyboard while Chris continued to explain his idea to the others. Democracy, HOLLYWOOD style. ;)

When his turn came, Linus proposed a more ‘practical’ plot, more on dialogue and less on effects and settings. It also involves children, which immediately sort of strikes me as a rather common plot device in Linus’s productions (House, Democracy, Prayer, all involved children). Hmmm… ;) To be fair of course, a lot of directors (including Linus’s mentor, the late Yasmine Ahmad, M. Night Shmalayan) ‘use’ children as a way to project ‘innocence and purity’. But then again, perhaps there might be OTHER ways to do the same WITHOUT using children? :p

I have to admit though, that given the amount of time allocated for the project (48 hours!), Linus’s plan seems again to be more practical. For one, the inclusion of more mundane and easy to find settings saves us a lot of time that could have been spent shuttling from one set to another. Also, the minimizing of outdoor and the elimination of night time scenes removes the unpredictable element of weather (fog and rain) from our shoot.

Oh, and did I mention that Linus is planning to shoot everything on celluloid? ;) Rather ambitious actually, considering that once you shoot with film it’s gone forever and any retakes would just take additional lengths of celluloid. Loading the film into the camera itself also is quite a science actually, requiring the whole task to be done inside a bag in complete darkness. The slightest twinkle of light can likely ruin the whole rim of film which for 20 minutes costs about RM400.00. Needless to say this thing should be left to the professionals. ;)
A professional has to also master the 'dodge' from those ever threatening nipple pinching fingers! :p

Doing what he does best, Linus eventually ‘lured’ the entire ‘board’ towards his idea. Well, he is the director after all and everyone knows that the director is always ‘right’! (even a square head engineer like me knows this hard and fast rule… ;))

He did put in a ‘veneer’ of ‘democracy’ by asking each one of us, ‘what did we think about his story and whether we agreed to it’… well, we know Linus (and Deng Xiao Ping, shortly before he sent in the tanks) of course. :p
Linus turning the tables around... ;)

Seriously though, he does have ONE big advantage over Chris. HE IS THE DIRECTOR (did I say it again?) after all and everything that will be coming up is already playing in his mind’s eye (camera angles, atmosphere, desired lighting, etc). I would venture that imagining someone else’s idea would be a little bit more difficult perhaps if that vision wasn’t absorbed and captured fully enough.
Visions of HORROR!

And so we got ourselves a plot and a storyline. All that is left is the scheduling for tommorow’s shoot. That took a few minutes and once it was agreed, it was time for most of us to head home to get some rest (our director spent the night with Carol to develop the story further by inserting dialogue and such).

At this point, I have to be thankful to our kind Director for giving me yet another opportunity to be a ‘keh leh feh’ (‘extra’ in the English parlance ;)). The last time I was a ‘keh leh feh’, it was in ‘House’, waving the tractor (handled by Dennis) that was about to smash poor Varma’s house to smithereens. You’d probably (definitely) missed me because I was there for 5 second fraction. Hahahah… This time however, I had LINES! Yipppeeee! ;) (Whether you’ll hear it or not, depends on the Director’s final cut! ;))