About two years ago I wrote a very angry post about Minus 417, a shop selling skincare stuff that you should really steer clear from. Not because of their products, but because of their disrespectful sales tactics.
This post contains some swearing. You have been warned.
I’ve lived in Serangoon my entire life. In 2004 I moved from Serangoon Ave 4 to Ave 2, staying in the 12th storey of a HDB block. My block is strategically located next to several potential sources of noise pollution: A multi-storey car park; hawker centre stalls just across the road from the car park; and trees. Lots of trees that are home to Asian Koel birds.
If you don’t know what Asian Koels are, have a quick look at this video posted by a brave YouTuber who had the courage to go up close for a recording while withstanding their annoying cackle:
Yes. This bloody bird has ruined my good night’s sleep countless numbers of times. But it gets worse.
There is someone in my neighbourhood (whom I shall henceforth refer to as Driver Dumbass) who likes to honk their car horn REPEATEDLY. Sometimes for as long as one to three minutes. I don’t know where exactly Driver Dumbass parks his car, but I’m going to assume that it’s in the multi-storey carpark. Maybe…
- Driver Dumbass is trying to check that his horn is in working order. Sure, but you don’t need to honk it continuously for ONE FULL MINUTE or longer. I have a Class 3 licence, I was a driver in the army. A simple tap or double tap is enough to make sure that your horn is working.
- Driver Dumbass’s kid is playing with the horn. Good job in being a lousy, dumbass parent.
Sometimes, I have to work 7am shifts. This means I have to wake up early at 5am+ to prepare for work. This also means that if I want to be fully rested for the next day, I have to get to bed at around 8pm to 10pm. When does Driver Dumbass usually cause his noise pollution? 8pm to 9pm.
Oh, but it gets worse. Especially on weekends.
There’s usually a group of elderly men who like to sit at the hawker centre at night, ordering beer and getting their dumbass old selves drunk. I know because I’ve walked past that hawker centre in the evenings, and their tables are always filled with bottles of beer. And what happens when elderly, old men get drunk? They make lots of bloody noise. I can hear them very clearly from the 12th floor. When do Drunk Dumbass Old Men usually drink? 8pm to 10pm on weekend nights.
Starting to see a pattern here? Oh, but it gets much worse.
The multi-storey car park, when not polluted by Driver Dumbass, occasionally produces noise pollution from a different source: Tyre screeching. Now, again, as someone who was once an army driver and who went through a basic car maintenance course, I can tell you exactly why this happens: Poor vehicle maintenance. Anything from worn-out tyres, damaged brake pads, or insufficient power steering can all cause this. When does Tyre Screeching Pollution happen? Any time in the night, sometimes even at 1am to 4am.
Oh, but it gets worse.
Some of my neighbours are night owls. They like to hang out at the void deck or lift corridors on the upper floors in the dead hours of the night. How do I know? When I return from my night shifts at around 3am to 4am, I sometimes see them loitering around and chit chatting. Most of them look like teenagers. Thankfully none of them were drinking alcohol, or they would be in serious trouble for breaking the law (we had a law passed in Singapore recently that prohibits alcohol from being consumed in public places after 10pm).
Just two weeks ago, I was taking the lift up to the 12th floor when all of a sudden, one Night Owl Teenager yelled “Hellllllllooooooooooo!” as I was exiting the lift. It gave me a bit of a shock and I hesitated to exit the lift for a split second. After making sure that it wasn’t a ghostly apparition, I stepped out, gave the teenager and all his friends a displeased stare, and went to unlock the door to my flat.
The next morning, my father asked if someone had greeted me with a “Hellllooooooooooo!” outside our flat. Even my dad could hear you, you fucking morons.
Look, all I want to do is to fucking sleep. I want to be alert for work, and I also want some good shut-eye after working a night shift. The last thing I expect at 4am is a big “Helllllllloooooooooo!” If you do anything to disrupt my ability to sleep, you are going to piss me off.
Last weekend, Driver Dumbass, Drunk Dumbass Old Men, Night Owl Teenagers, Tyre Screeching, and Asian Koel all combined together on the SAME night for one continuous chorus. It started at 9pm when I was trying to sleep early, only to be kept awake by drunkards. Once it approached 10pm, they finally dispersed and quieted down (as required by the law)… only for Driver Dumbass to suddenly honk his horn. One minute is very short, but it was enough to rouse me again.
I cannot recall the exact timings, but I was woken up at around 2 to 3am by Tyre Screeching and Night Owls. At that moment, I was forced to use the only thing I could think of: My army earplugs. Those earplugs were issued during Basic Military Training, and are designed to be used in the firing range to protect your ears from the sound of your rifle’s GUNSHOTS. Also, they’re used in the grenade range for live-grenade throwing. You know, to protect you from the sound of EXPLOSIVES.
Why the fuck must I use my army earplugs at 3am on some teenagers and poorly-maintained automobiles?
I did manage to get about an extra 1.5 hours of sleep, and promptly woke up at 5am+ to prepare for work. But after having my REM sleep interrupted (go Google it and learn something about how your brain works when sleeping), it was as good as not having much sleep at all.
I finished my breakfast and prepared to leave the house. Asian Koel, right on cue, started chirping. I was already awake, and of course it decided to add one final insult to injury.
As I walked past the bus stop at 6am+ towards the MRT station, I muttered under my breath to myself while pointing a middle finger at a random tree: “My neighbours are all fucking idiots. I hope you all die of liver cancer and heart disease.”
And there will be no damage to our Southeast Asian ecosystem if the Asian Koel goes extinct. Fuck off and die off like the dodo.
Never ever yell “Helllllllllooooooooooo!” at the lift at 4am for whatever reason. Seriously.
I have been pondering about going on an Internet or videogaming “detox” lately, where I don’t play games or use the Internet for about a year. It’s a bit hard to explain why, it’s not something that can be easily put down in words. Until I came across this blog post on ArseBlog.com. It summarises my thoughts precisely. I’ll highlight the most important bits below:
Do you ever look at what’s happening in the world and feel kinda scared? The stuff that’s going on at the moment is genuinely frightening. A big shift to the right, intolerance on the rise, it doesn’t matter if you lie any more apparently. You can say whatever you want and people can disprove it, but it makes no difference to anything. War, people treating each other like they’re less than human simply because of where they come from, or the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation, what they believe in, or even how desperate they are.
Sometimes I think we attach too much importance to football. A thing that can provide us with an escape, some entertainment, or a way of putting all that other stuff in the background, becomes all-consuming to the point where lose touch with what it actually is.
Yet there’s now a demand for perfection that goes against that completely. Every game must be a convincing win, otherwise we’re failing somehow. And in that people forget to enjoy the game, the company, the people, the friendships, the occasion, the fact that it can lift you up and make you forget your troubles – even for a little while.
If someone spends their day fighting and arguing online – even at a time when things are going relatively well – then what hope is there when their default position is anger?
Sometimes I attach too much importance to the things I enjoy in life. Football, pro wrestling, videogames. Especially pro wrestling. After Roman Reigns won the WWE title at this year’s Wrestlemania, I was absolutely livid and defiantly changed my Steam profile nickname to “Fuck Roman Reigns _|_ ” for three months until he dropped it to Dean Ambrose. I think I lost a couple of Steam friends because of this.
When we invest so much in something, especially our time and money, we feel obligated to get something good in return. We want instant, positive results from our favourite football teams. We want every videogame we play to be a perfect experience. We want every pro wrestler that holds the title belt to be “worthy”, to have earned it. Every championship final or cup final must be a AAA five-star match. And when these things don’t meet our expectations, we become angry and vent our frustrations on the Internet.
To use a videogame example, look at what happened to No Man’s Sky. Instead of just learning from the game’s mistakes and overhyped features, gamers are refusing to move on and feel like it’s their entitlement, their right to bash the game and the developers. It’s supposed to be a game, yet people are treating it like some global disaster that killed millions of people.
And I’m starting to become very tired of reading stuff like this. There’s so much hate speech, bigotry, and reckless comments on the Internet everywhere. It’s even made its way to traditional mainstream media like television and newspapers. Just look at what Donald Trump or Rodrigo Duterte are saying every day.
One of my friends once casually asked me awhile back: “Do you even use Facebook?”
I don’t post a lot of stuff on Facebook. I use it mainly to see what my friends are up to, to view interesting articles, photos, and maybe the occasional troll post or joke video. I prefer to post stuff on Twitter instead. Short, sharp, concise thoughts about the topics that interest me. That’s what the true power of social media is about: the ability to socialise and share things with each other. Instead, most of the stuff I see on my Facebook feed are angry rants. People complaining about the most insignificant inconveniences in their lives. One of the dumbest posts I’ve seen was from a fellow Singaporean complaining about being spot-checked in our country’s Changi Airport by a security officer. He went into a full, multi-paragraph tirade about how the officer had deliberately singled him out, and even dared to challenge the officer.
Huh?? In this post-September 11 age, with the influence of ISIS spreading closer and closer to home, you’re complaining about a security officer carrying out a routine check? It’s part of his fucking job, he’s doing his part to keep our nation safe.
I promised myself in my previous blog post that I’ll lower the aggressive tone of my posts, so I’ll end this short and sweetly. To everyone that continues making the effort to post well-researched or well-constructed articles with the aim of educating others and to encourage discussion, keep doing what you do. Knowledge is power but only if it can be passed on.
I can’t believe I’m writing this all because of an Arsenal blog post. Pure banter.
I stumbled upon this post on Quora written by Marcus Geduld, explaining why some people react so negatively to criticism. He explains that it’s also important to understand the motives and mindset of the person offering the critique as well. It’s a two-way interaction.
People (and some other animals) seem to have an innate obsession with social hierarchies. We want to be valued by others. Anything that threatens our social rank evokes fight-or-flight instincts. That’s not going to change. Criticism is not necessarily a threat of this sort, but it can be. And whether it is or not from the critic’s point-of-view, the person being criticized may perceive it as threatening.
The first thing to keep in mind is the motive of the person being criticized. Let’s say he’s a question-answerer on Quora. Why is he answering a question?
1. To add to the knowledge base?
2. To add to the knowledge base and be seen as a smart, witty or ethical person?
3. To be seen as a smart, witty or ethical person? (He doesn’t really care about the knowledge base.)
If his motive is #2 or #3, his social rank is bound up with his answer. So he will naturally feel criticism, even if it’s not meant as personal criticism, to be an attack. Which will enable his fight-or-flight instinct.
Some people feel threatened but are able to overrule the feeling with reason: “It feels shitty, but I can tell he’s not criticizing me personally, so I need to be a grownup and accept it.” Others aren’t able to do that.
A small number of people have motive #1 in its purest sense. They will not even feel threatened. They simple care about knowledge. In fact, they’ll be thankful you pointed out a flaw in their thinking.
A lot of people will have mixed feelings: they’ll genuinely be happy to learn from you, but they’ll also feel threatened by your criticism. They are in the #2 range. People in the #3 range will leave or lash out.
In my experience, most of the #3s were damaged as children. They were ignored by their parents or teachers, and the only ways they could get attention were through displays of intelligence or wit. (The movie “Quiz Show” explores this syndrome.) When you criticize them, you’re slapping the little child that still lives inside them — not deep down inside them but right under the epidermis.
Next, it’s worth thinking about the motivations of critics:
1. Improving the knowledge base?
2. Improving the knowledge base and proving their intellectual superiority?
3. Proving their intellectual superiority. (E.g. belittling the person they are criticizing.)
Most of us have met some #2s and 3s. And the trouble is, it’s not always easy to tell if someone is a #1 or a 2/3. If a 2 or 3 from the first list meets someone he thinks may be a 2 or 3 from this list, the result is hurt feelings, flame wars and tears.
I admit that as a critic, I have been very guilty of #2 and #3 in the past, and I apologise if I may have offended anyone. It’s partially my fault. Unfortunately, I cannot go back and change the past, this is not Steins;Gate.
From now on I will continue to post interesting stuff about games, animation, movies, pro wrestling, and et cetera on the topics that interest me. But I will do my best to tone down my sometimes arrogant and superior-sounding tone. Let’s have fun learning, and learn to have fun.
Today, some random online strangers on Facebook pissed me off personally. They provided misleading, inaccurate information from a wrong source. To me, providing false and incorrect facts is the equivalent to lying, which is why I am always very vigilant about correcting and pointing out errors. When I offered a correction (which later proved to be right), I was insulted by one of the replies.
What surprised me next was my reaction. I just ignored it and carried on doing other stuff. Yes, I was still angry somewhere deep inside my heart. But I simply let it go.
Feeling angry is fine. Getting upset over the things you are passionate about is fine. This is what makes us human. But after that, you can just drop it and let it go.
I am still learning how to manage two decades worth of latent anger locked away inside me. Maybe this is a sign of progress.
If you have ever played Melty Blood seriously, you would have no doubt heard of GO1. He is widely regarded as one of the strongest, if not _the_ strongest Melty player of all time. He also plays a lot of other fighting games, and seeing him take the Top 4 spot at EVO 2016 in Street Fighter V got me thinking.
During the grand finals between Infiltration and Fuudo, one of the commentators remarked on stream: “You bring your playstyle to the character”. They were referring to Fuudo, who used to play Fei Long in Ultra Street Fighter IV. Fei Long is a methodical character whose playstyle differs from Mika, Fuudo’s main in SFV. And yet Fuudo still managed to take her all the way to the grand finals.
Many anime fighting game players often complain that “Street Fighter is too slow, there’s no air dashing, etc.”. I have always found this to be an extremely poor argument. A solid player will be able to adapt to the game, to the character that he is playing, and find a way to make everything work. That’s what GO1 and Fuudo achieved at this Evo.
I was quite surprised that GO1 picked C-Arcueid during the grand finals of the MBAACC side tournament — but after awhile, it seemed a logical choice for him. He excels at using MB characters that have tools to maintain relentless pressure (see: C-Akiha), and C-Arc is a real pain to fight against in v1.07 with her high pressure blockstrings. GO1 also has excellent combo execution — perhaps the reason why he chose Chun-Li in SFV. Chun-Li requires some level of execution for her advanced tricks.
Ok, I guess what I am trying to say is this: a Melty Blood player made it to Top 4 in Street Fighter. A pro-wrestling fighting game character made it to grand finals (I love pro wrestling).
What does this mean? I don’t know, but just for today, I am a happy Melty Blood fan (even though I still hate the game now), and a very happy pro wrestling fan.
My ex-colleague was having dinner with my department yesterday night. I had recently just added him to Facebook a few days before. About halfway he suddenly remarked:
“Oh hey Edward, your Facebook is all Japanese stuff man!”
“You’re doing work based on your hobbies and passion [football + Japanese], that’s amazing.”
I was quite engrossed in reading a news article on my phone, and didn’t manage to reply him. I just simply nodded silently. But his comments are worth pondering.
All my life, I have known only one way to live: Follow your interests, follow your passions. Enjoy doing what you love, and love doing what you enjoy. I have been insulted multiple times by random people for playing too much videogames, for studying Japanese just so I can consume Japanese comics and animation, and for following a “worthless sport” like pro wrestling.
And in the end, guess what? I’m still a normal, ordinary citizen. I have a job. I go out with friends and family once in awhile. I like potatoes. The only tiny difference is that I _enjoy_ my life. I’m still single after six years but that’s fine. I have to work tiring night shifts but that’s fine, I get to watch my favourite sport as part of my job.
This feels like a build-up to another emo post about the rhetorics of “loving yourself”, so I’ll just stop. But allow me to finally reply my friend here (even though he’ll never read it):
I enjoy Japanese stuff because that is me, and I am happy at being uniquely Edward. What are you happy about yourself? What do you enjoy?
Update (13 Jul 2016): iplayedthegame has suggested a great commandment in the comments, I am adding it to my original list. There are now 11 commandments.
- Thou shalt not rage quit.
- Thou shalt accept the fact that idiotic pub teammates will always exist.
- Thou shalt accept the fact that not everyone has the skills of an MLG player, nor the combat intelligence of Fatal1ty. Not everyone has played Quake or Unreal Tournament.
- Thou shalt try thy very best not to lose one’s temper all the time. Save one’s rage for when it really matters.
- Thou shalt play to the best of thy ability, even if thy hopeless teammates will result in a loss.
- In Overwatch, thou shalt understand the importance of switching characters when necessary.
- In team shooters, thou shalt focus on completing thy team objectives. This means pushing the payload in Overwatch, capturing control points in Destiny, etc.
- Thou shalt not worry about thy KDR. It is meaningless in team shooters, especially Overwatch.
- Thou shalt attempt to have fun in the end, even in the face of overwhelming defeat, saltiness, and stupid teammates.
- Lick my face.
- Ryuu ga waga teki go fuck yourself.
I have a giant poster of Ryuko Matoi (from Kill la Kill) hanging outside my bedroom door. It has been kept inside its original polyethylene bag from the store in Japan that I purchased it from (thank you forever and ever Nakano Broadway), together with the backing board. I also have a 1/6 scale action figurine of Ryuko on top of my bookshelf. She is standing alongside another Kill la Kill character, Satsuki Kiryuin. I had to order a custom-made acrylic case to house both characters, because I really wanted them to be displayed next to each other. With ample space for them to brandish their weapons.
My Facebook and Twitter avatars and banner headers are both of Ryuko. Previously my avatars were of Eltnum from the videogame Under Night In-Birth.
Time and time again over the past couple of years, I have been asked by quite a few friends, some colleagues, and the occasional stranger: Why do you devote so much time to fictional characters? Why do you love this anime girl more than you love a real-life person? (this is an actual verbatim quote from someone). The same question is popping up with such frequent regularity nowadays, that it is starting to feel very condescending.
Even worse, is this strange social media stigma that if you post an avatar of an animated character on your social account, it means that you are not to be taken seriously. I don’t know who started this.
Before I continue, allow me to give a brief character summary of Ryuko Matoi:
Ryuko is a 17-year-old Japanese schoolgirl who was orphaned because she saw her father succumb to a murder right before her eyes. She never met or knew her biological mother while growing up. Her father was a scientist who was so absorbed in his daily work that he paid very little attention to his daughter, who eventually became a delinquent in school.
From the moment she saw her bloodstained and dying father’s body, a hidden and inner rage was unleashed inside Ryuko. Yes, she had a distant relationship with her father and hardly talked to him. But he was still her family. And now she sought vengeance against the murderer. The murder weapon was very unusual — it was a giant “scissor blade”, essentially one half of a giant pair of scissors. Her father’s torso had been stabbed by the blade, along with multiple slash wounds all across his body.
In his dying breath, before Ryuko’s father could explain the situation to his daughter, Ryuko caught a glimpse of the murderer fleeing their mansion. The murderer’s silhouette was unmistakably that of a young woman, and she was holding what appeared to be the other half of the scissor-blade. Enraged, Ryuko chased after the assailant, scissor-blade in hand, and little did she know, this was the beginning of her amazing journey where she would be forced to fight with all her might against an unknown evil.
I just described my favourite fictional character without making any descriptions about how she looks. To set the record straight once and for all: Ryuko’s character could have been that of a male, and I would have liked him just as much. I also really love Max Payne, from the original first two Max Payne videogames (I DO NOT like his drunken Max Payne 3 incarnation though).
Here’s this thing about human nature that most of us should have figured out by now: We love the underdogs. We want the everyman, the “ordinary people”, to win. We want Leicester City to win the Premier League.
Take away Ryuko’s scissor-blade and shape-shifting attire, and she is just an ordinary tomboyish schoolgirl. Take away Max Payne’s bullet-time and he is just an ordinary New York cop, married to a lawyer wife, and who is trying to start a family. These characters we love so much are not defined by their “powers”, but by their actions, emotions, and personalities. They all have humanistic traits and actions that we can relate with and identify with. We want them to succeed and win because we can see some of ourselves, however slight, inside these characters.
You can say that I was an intellectual delinquent when I was growing up in secondary school (I got into a lot of verbal and written arguments as a young kid). Not quite the same physical delinquent that Ryuko is (she gets into a lot of physical fights and does not back down from duels), but I could emphatise with her. What about Max Payne then? I’ve never fired a pistol in slow-motion or got backstabbed before, but I really enjoyed his ridiculously poetic monologues (The sun went down with practised bravado; Twilight crept across the sky, laden with foreboding). I loved creative writing as a kid and wrote quite a lot of nonsensical stories with my classmates when the teacher wasn’t looking. English was always my strongest subject.
Stan Lee, one of the founding fathers of Marvel’s comics, once said that he didn’t like Superman because he was “too good” and couldn’t do anything wrong. And I agree. I find Superman boring like hell as a superhero.
Human beings are flawed. We experience ups and downs in our everyday life. It’s part of living, it’s part of what makes us human. Ryuko is brash, impulsive, and in one episode, almost gets herself killed because of her blind rage. Max Payne succumbs to his male passions by making out with a female antagonist, inadvertently becoming responsible for her death later. These characters also have flaws.
Ryuko Matoi, Max Payne, Nathan Drake, et cetera, they may not be real but they exhibit real human behaviours and emotions. I admire these characters because they come from my passions: videogames and TV shows.
What are you _really_ passionate about in life? This will be my counter-question to any future person who asks me “Why do you like this anime girl so much?”
I don’t enjoy playing Melty anymore. Every time I load up to netplay, I get pissed off.
I think I’ve blogged about this before somewhere. The same feelings of frustration and rage are boiling up again. I wish it was 2010 and 2011, that joyful period of learning a new fighting game from scratch.
There was a tweet from Christian (the pro wrestler) where he said “Don’t cry because it’s over. Be grateful because it happened.” He was referring to Daniel Bryan’s retirement from pro wrestling, but perhaps I could use his quote for the state of MB now.
I’m grateful to have enjoyed MB during its heyday here in the arcades. Now, it’s time to move on.