Friday, November 27, 2009

District 9: How to raise a prawn and cuss like South Africans

Author's preface: As should be obvious from the movie poster above, this is a really, really late post.  Some brief announcements: as some of you might have noticed, I've just added an advert to the left sidebar. I hope you don't find it too obtrusive. It's position might move around in the days to come, though. The second announcement: an unexpected benefit of using this theme (Atahualpa) is how nice the comments look. I could gush on and on about how much I like the theme, but I'll just limit myself to saying how gorgeous the super-long comments look now... and yeah, no more nested comments, which is why comments on older posts might seem a little messed up. I'll fix them if I get the time, or if I'm ever able to make sense of the whole mess. Now, on with the post:
I spent three months as a hikikomori (Shut-in) - is what I’d like to say. Truth is, it’s not that easy a thing to do. I spent most of that time within the confines of my home, but I did go out now and then- mostly for lunch or dinner with the family, things like that. A failure as a hikikomori, although that’s actually a good thing.
I’d been planning an outing with some friends for quite some time now- some forty or so messages passing back and forth through Facebook between four or five of us. The original plan was to watch the new Sandra Bullock flick, Proposal, but after a vote we decided on District 9.

We ran into a host of problems from the very beginning. One had returned to her home state and got herself a job, and will not return until she gets her exam results. Another didn’t pay attention to the discussion, and to make things worse, screwed up at work, and ended up having to go in the next day (on that day) to fix things up. Yet another was blackmailed by her parents into getting a job.

So it was just the two of us- Micchan (Japanization of her name) and me, the only two bourgeois bums who refuse to waste our precious holidays on unprofitable labor, who turned up that day. Yet another problem- The victim of blackmail, despite me telling her to just pass me the reservation number, went and bought the tickets the night before (she happened to be working in the same mall we were going to)- three tickets. I tried to get a refund but failed, and wasn’t in the mood to stand in the crowd and holler “ticket for alien documentary, 4pm!”

I arrived early in order too look around before Micchan arrived, so I could go at my own pace- i.e. breezing in and out of shops and pirouetting between hordes of masked shoppers- why is everyone so scared of that blasted flu? Influenza is just a more, um, heavy version of the common cold, no (and no, I did not copy that line of reasoning from everyone's favorite blue-haired otaku girl)? If I die of it, well, that’s too bad. Twas fun while it lasted… but not everyone thinks like me, which was why so many people were walking around looking like wannabe surgeons.

I think I’ll skip the shopping guide. All I did was buy a pack of ten DVD-Rs for 12 bucks. I’m still a little suspicious about the price but it’s not like I’m burning plans for a next-generation ICBM onto them (nevertheless my date is incredibly precious to me, considering the effort spent on gathering them). I did look around for clothes too- I really shouldn’t have bothered, because it was just too depressing- nothing suited me. It took a stop at the bookstore to revive my flagging spirits.

Paid a visit to Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth the Third, bedecked in a red and white outfit comprised of a short skirt and a safe yet dangerous shirt with a zip running down the middle. Irritating her was most fun- “if it were any thinner you’d look like a race queen”, silly lines like that. No photos- not because she wouldn’t let me take any photos of her, but because I just didn’t feel like bringing my camera.

Before I forget, she was working as a promoter. No, not a booth girl- the distinction is dreadfully important. Booth girls smile and look pretty. Promoters smile and sell. Not much of a difference, actually…  It’s just that I don’t think I’d be able to get away with calling her a booth girl. Another thing- she was promoting some sort of beauty treatments. Not really relevant to a ‘5th Parenthood Exhibition’, but I suppose unlike the previous point it’s not very important. I felt like a father every time I passed the temperature checkers at the entrance…

Micchan arrived sometime past 2.30. The three of us were supposed to lunch together, but Lizbeth messaged me saying that she was too tired. Lunch at this little restaurant called ‘Little Penang’, which specializes in Penangese cuisine (basically hawker food at inflated prices, don't bother with it if you ever come here).

On to the movie: District 9. It started out like a documentary, explaining the history of how the aliens, derisively called prawns by humans (Funny, I had Prawn Mee for lunch) came to hover above the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. It started off funny and cheerful, but got grimmer as the shooting of the ‘documentary’ progressed.

The hero (Irrelevant fact: I don’t like protagonist/antagonist because it has the word ‘agony’ in it), a cheerful bureaucrat, Wicker van der Merve or something like that, was terribly mean to the prawns, but one can’t help but like the guy, even when he’s at his selfish, abusive worst. His English helped with that too, I think- the Dutch influenced accent (I think) was just so… inexplicably cute. He cursed quite a bit, and for once the Film Censorship Board left it intact- why bother, when all he’s shouting is ‘fock it’, or ‘fokking prawns’?

We headed back to the convention centre after that- Lizbeth was busy with a customer, so we decided to take a look around. We stopped at a booth selling some sort of herbal essence- not that we cared for the product at all, but because I just felt like reading the brochures they had- a newspaper cutout, actually- which was in Chinese. There was one word I couldn’t make out in the headline. A sales assistant came over with some samples, and I immediately diverted her sales pitch by explaining the situation, and getting her to identify the miscreant word- which turned out to be ‘infertility’.

Female infertility, to be precise. “In that case it wouldn’t be of any use to me even if I drank it,” I explained as part of my escape plan- but (Perhaps rather sadistically) simultaneously decided to wreck that plan by aiming an innocent “How about you?” to Micchan. She was far ahead of me, though- she’d already turned her back and walked off in the opposite direction. Said I to the salesperson: “Still too early for her, I suppose” and walked off with a ridiculous grin.

That’s pretty much how the day went. After a brief chat with Lizbeth, whose booth didn’t seem to be doing too well, I sent Micchan off and headed off myself. The end.


  1. @A20-man: Hmmm, telling myself to skim at minimum spoilage since I haven't seen "District 9" yet. But I think I garnered the high points. Hikikomori. Micchan. Lizbeth. Flu. Booth. Movie. Off. End. I guess I'll figure out the prawns later, lol.

  2. @Jay: Yup, you got the gist of it, haha. Watch the movie! It's pretty good:)