Category Archives: Pop Goes the Fiction!

31 Days (Nights) of Rain is here!

My debut with indie publisher Studio Anai-Anai is (finally) born!

The book is sold at RM20 per copy, please add RM6 for postage (Malaysia only).

To purchase, place your order with:

  • Whatsapp: 0193681917 (Zaini)
  • FB Messenger: Mohzan OP-Zaharin

Or visit Studio Anai-Anai’s booth at Kotakata @ Kota Buku at Parkson, Maju Junction this Saturday (26 March 2016).

You can also purchase limited copies of signed and numbered books (1-100) at RM30nett (including postage). For these, write directly to RM5 will be donated under your name to Cancer Research Malaysia for each book sold. Purchases of 10 books and above will make you eligible for tax exemption.

What are you waiting for, little darlings?

31 Days of Rain book cover


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Filed under food for thought, Ijah's Own Stuff, Pop Goes the Fiction!, Siti Britney Sayang, Stuff For Sale

The Bakery Attack

Breakfast at Tous Les Jour

Very few can top the pleasure of watching a bakery comes to life as you are sitting by the glass window, with a mug of coffee, freshly ladled mushroom soup and books as company. Which reminds me of the following short story from the Elephant Vanishes compendium.


The Bakery Attack
By Haruki Murakami
Translated by Michael Ward

At any rate, our stomachs were empty. No, in fact, we were starving. It was as if we had gulped down a vacuum in space. It began really small, a small vacuum like a hole in a doughnut, but as the day passed, the feeling inside our bodies increased until it finally reached the point of bottomless nothingness. The rumbling of our stomachs acted as solemn BGM for out monument to hunger.

How did this hunger arise? Of course it was because we lacked foodstuffs. How did we come to lack foodstuffs? It was because we did not possess units of monetary exchange. How did we come to not possess units of equivalent exchange? Perhaps it was because we lacked imagination. No, our hunger might have been directly caused by our lack of imagination.

It really does not make any difference.

God, Marx, and John Lennon all had died. At any rate, we were hungry and for this reason we were about to commit a crime. It was not because the hunger made us commit a crime, but it was the crime that made us run with hunger. I don’t understand it well, but it was existential.

“I’ll be bad,” said my friend in a few brief words and I seconded him.

We drank nothing but water for two days. One time I ate a sunflower leaf to see what it was like, but I don’t feel like trying to eat that again.
It is for this reason we took our kitchen knives to the bakery. The bakery was situated in the heart of the shopping district between a futon store and stationery shop. The old man who owned the bakery was over fifty, bald-headed, and a member of the communist party.

Clutching our knives, we slowly walked to the bakery in the environs of the shopping district. The feeling I had was similar to the movie High Noon. As we walked the fragrance of bread baking gradually became stronger. Indeed as the fragrance became stronger, the extent of our criminal inclination deepened. We were excited because we were attacking the bakery and the member of the Communist party simultaneously; I recalled at that moment the deep emotions of the Hitler-Jugend, or the Hitler Youth.

Because it was late in the afternoon, there was only one person inside the bakery. Indeed, there was a distasteful old woman holding a dirty shopping bag in her hand. There was a foul odor surrounding the woman. The criminal’s plans are always obstructed due to inelegant women such as this one. At least that is how it works in crime dramas. Using my eyes, I sent a message to my partner that we couldn’t do a thing until the woman departed, so I put the knife behind my back and we pretended to shop for bread.

The woman took an extraordinary amount of time making her selection as if she was prudently selecting a three-mirrored bureau instead of placing fried and melon bread on her tray. However, this does not mean that she was going to buy them. Maybe it was nothing more than one aspect of her thesis on fried bread and melon bread, or something completely opposite, so maybe it was necessary for her to take a long time so she could adjust comfortably to the situation.

The melon bread was losing its position in the thesis. She shook her head in a way as if she though “Why did I select such a thing? First of all it is too sweet!”

After thinking about it a bit, she put the melon bread back in its place on the shelf and then she gently put two croissants on the tray.

A new thesis was born. Beginning with the overflow of spring sunlight spilling from between the clouds the iceberg loosened a bit.

“What the hell?” My buddy said in a low voice. “While we are at it lets kill that old bitch.”

“Hey stay put,” I said pushing him back to keep him in place.

The owner of the bakery paid no mind to this as he was absorbed in listening to the Wagner piece emanating from the radio cassette player. I did not understand very well if this was the correct action for a member of the Communist Party to listen to a Wagner piece.

The woman continued to stare hard at the croissants and the fried bread. She seemed baffled. “It is weird and unnatural! By no means should croissants and fried bread be placed side by side!” She must have felt that the two types of bread had different ideologies. The bread on top of the tray within the woman’s hands shook with a clattering noise similar to that of a broken refrigerator’s thermostat. Of course the bread was not really shaking, so, in the end, it shook with its clatter, clack, clack, only figuratively.

“I am going to kill her.” My buddy said. Due to the extreme hunger, Wagner, and the tension caused by the woman, the situation had become as delicate as the skin of a peach. I remained silent and shook my head.

The old woman, nonetheless, still loitered about with tray in hand as if in a Dostoyevsky-like hell. It was as if the fried bread had stood on a platform before the citizens of Rome and had given a speech that had moved them greatly. Such beautiful words, such magnificent rhetoric, and such a booming sonorous baritone stated the people as they clapped in unison. Next the croissant took the platform and gave a rambling speech concerning the traffic signals. It spoke thus: Cars that are going to turn left should go straight ahead when the traffic light turns green and after they are sure that there are no other cars present, turn left. The citizens of Rome did not understand the speech very well, but because it was a difficult story, they applauded it. Due to the fact that the applause for the croissant was larger than that of the fried bread, the latter was returned back to its place on the shelf. Upon the woman’s tray sat two croissants that were the image of simple perfection.

Satisfied, she exited the shop.

Now it was our turn.

“We are extremely hungry,” I said frankly to the owner with the kitchen knife still hidden behind my back. “However, we do not have a cent between us.”

“I see,” said the owner, nodding his head. Together we stared at a pair of fingernail clippers placed on top of the counter. They were a huge pair of nail clippers that had probably been used to cut the talons of a vulture. Perhaps they were made as some kind of a joke.

“If you are hungry, then you should eat some bread,” said the owner.

“But we don’t have any money.”

“I’ve already heard you say that,” the owner said in a bored manner. “You don’t have to pay for it. Just go ahead and eat all that you want to.”

Once again, I stared at the nail clippers. “Really? We were on the road to do something devious.”

“Yes, yes”

“Therefore, we cannot receive goodwill from others.

“Yes.” “And that’s how it is.”

“I see,” the owner said once again, “Well then, let’s do this. I’ll let you eat as much bread as you like and then I’ll put a curse on you. Will that be alright?”

“Curse? What do you mean?”

“The curse is very unpredictable. It is not like a bus schedule.”

“Hey wait a minute! I don’t want to be cursed!” My partner interrupted. “I hate this! I’ll kill you right now!”

“Wait, wait,” the owner said. “I don’t want to be killed.”

“Well, I don’t want to be cursed,” said my partner in return.

“It is essential that we make some sort of exchange,” I said.

We said nothing more and we glared once again at the nail clippers.

“How about this,” the owner began. “Do you two like Wagner?”

“No,” I said.

“Me neither,” said my partner.

“Well then, after you come to like Wagner, I’ll give you all the bread you can eat.”

It sounded totally like a story from the mouth of a missionary on the Dark Continent, but we were immediately drawn to it. It was at least preferential over getting cursed.

“I like it,” I said

“I like it, too” said my partner.

So we listened to Wagner as we stuffed our stomachs with bread.

The owner read the record’s jacket which said “Tristan and Isolde is a brilliant piece in the history of music. It became public in the 1859 and in order to understand the latter works of Wagner, this piece is indispensable.”

My partner and I were unable to comment because our mouths were full of bread so we were only able to mumble.

“The King of Cornwall’s son Tristan was sent to meet his uncle’s fiancée Princess Isolde, but on the ship’s return voyage he fell in love with Isolde. The piece opens with a lovely cello-oboe duet whose theme acts as the motif for the couple’s love.

After two hours both parties were satisfied and we parted ways.

“Tomorrow I am going to listen to Tannhauser,” said the owner.

As we walked back to our room, the nothingness that had been inside of us vanished without a trace and the power of our imaginations began to move as if rolling down a gentle slope.

(c) Haruki Murakami.

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Filed under Happy, Pop Goes the Fiction!, Things That Make Me

The Indie Writers and Publishers


(Books featured from L to R: Tenggelam Timbul by Tok Rimau, Stingarden by Sinaganaga, Ka-Wah by Pipiyapong, Rok n Roll Lu Memang Brader by Zanbassist and Monolog Seorang Lelaki by Azzam Supardi. Get the books from Sindiket Sol-jah or Studio Anai-anai by emailing them at or

The Kuala Lumpur Alternative Book Fair took place last weekend. My friends the Sindiket Sol-jah and Studio Anai-anai boys were there to peddle their wares. I had things to do and a movie to catch but in the end decided to spend my Sunday at the Annexe Gallery in Central Market with them, mostly because I was interested to observe the scene and see how these people make a living.

These, I must say:

  1. Duality: Writers are no different than other people who practice creative arts such as painters, songwriters, sculptors etc. They take something internal and personal, regurgitate it into a form that is (somehow) recognizable, and then share it with the world. In the same sense, they open themselves to the possibilities of rejection and scorn and failure for doing something that they love. Well, who doesn’t? The writers that I met are some of the most eloquent, gregariously funny and self-deprecating people around – yet they loathe to talk about their books, almost painfully shy, a little embarrassed maybe with the attention and the fact that they have a physical manifestation of a piece of themselves on display – ready to be traded for a few Ringgit. This duality, while charming, is not unique and is not new. It happens to all of us and to the best of us. Get over it.
  2. Fake It: If there is one lesson that I learned from my years and years of being around rockstars, watching them, emulating them, working with them, it would be this – showmanship first, skills second. A writer is a performer, not just in the performing the act of writing itself. You are a performer in the literal sense. A reader doesn’t just buy a book. She buys your thoughts, idealism, personality, hopes and fears. She identifies with you, sees a connection, finds her own voice through the words you chose. So, when you are out there, give them a show. It is okay if you fumble (it’s charming, trust me), and it is certainly okay to be awkward and uncomfortable and for all these flaws to show. You need to be able to face your public, tell them why you should matter to them and make them feel special. Learn to write memorable (and personal) autographs, pose for photos, ask questions and answer them, be a little cocky and believe that the whole world is in love with you. Every rockstar I know fakes this, and no one can tell the difference.
  3. Stake a Claim and Own It: The alternative book industry is hard, particularly when a previously successful business model is copied by others, making it harder and harder to be heard and be noticed. So, own it. Make each book event a big deal and a serious deal. Arrange for readings, live performances, meet-the-fans session, live-tweet it or even stream it online somewhere. Be on time, look good, smile. Get hot girls to man the booth, dress your area up outrageously that your neighbours complain to the organisers, create feature walls, give free ice cream. Make people want to come and see you and stay and open their wallets and pick up a book and go home with a memory of what great time they had at your booth.

And that, as they say, is that.

BeFunky_Summer_1.jpgSol-jah’s at work with Ana Raffali during a MASKARA night. Photo (c) Sindiket Sol-jah’s blog.


Filed under Happy, Let's Learn!, Pop Goes the Fiction!

Maskara Showcase 17/11 @ Auditorium, KL Library [Confirmed]

Maskara Showcase Nov 17 2012

Signed. Sealed. I can’t back out of this even if I wanted to.

I am going to do a set of songs called “The 5 Stages of Grief”. I only thought it up tonight when I was asked to submit a synopsis of my set. I went, sh!t, synopsis? So I went for the easiest – everyone’s had their hearts broken at some time, yes?

All these songs, except for one, are new or previously unrecorded. Three of them are still in various stages of undress, which means I have a day to complete them and another day to memorize them. Risky. But I laugh in the face of danger. Ha. Hahahaha. It’ll be fun to watch me fumble. You’ll see.

Come if you can. Mine is the opening act, so if you are late, you will miss me.


  • Date: 17 November 2012 (Saturday)
  • Time: 8-11pm
  • Venue: Auditorium, Kuala Lumpur Library (near Dataran Merdeka); No 1, Jalan Raja Laut, 50500 Kuala Lumpur. Map here.

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Filed under Happy, Ijah's Own Stuff, Music I Like, Pop Goes the Fiction!, Things That Make Me

Maskara Showcase 17/11 @ Auditorium, KL Library

Maskara Showcase 2012

Would you believe it, they asked me again, complete with official posters and all!

Come if you can. My set is early in the night so don’t be late or you will miss it.


  • Date: 17 November 2012 (Saturday)
  • Time: 8-11pm
  • Venue: Auditorium, Kuala Lumpur Library (near Dataran Merdeka); No 1, Jalan Raja Laut, 50500 Kuala Lumpur. Map here

It’ll be an acoustic set; just me and a borrowed guitar.

Will I see you there?

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Filed under Happy, Ijah's Own Stuff, Pop Goes the Fiction!

Anime Festival Asia (MY) 2012 – A Short Review

It came and went.

My observation:

  1. PWTC is not a suitable venue – it is too small with poor ventilation. Perhaps using a stadium is better like Std Putra Bukit Jalil or Stadium Melawati Shah Alam: half of it can be used as exhibition hall and the other half for stage activities.
  2. Organizers should be more “calculative” when allowing visitors in. What I mean is the venue was terribly packed with people you’d be hard pressed to enjoy the exhibitions because all you wanted to do was to get out and get some fresh air. Maybe they can have a system: you only allow X amount of people to go in and when it reaches maximum, you only allow more people when existing visitors have exited. Kinda like how they do it at clubs.
  3. Security needs to be stricter when implementing crowd control at the stage area. It was very frustrating when latecomers just surged ahead to the front of the stage and remained standing up and basically blocking the views of people who were already seated (and waited for hours for the activities to start!). A simple solution is to close-off the main seating area once it is full so that latecomers would stand at the sides near the barricades. LATECOMERS SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED OR TOLERATED. It is disrespectful to those who came early and waited patiently. Side note: Malaysian audience still has a long way to go in terms of manners and courtesy.
  4. The quality of cosplayers in Malaysia is disappointing, I’d even venture to say that we performed very poorly as compared to our neighbours like Singapore, Thailand and Philippines. The Malaysian leg of the regional cosplay competition made me wanted to gauge my eyes out. Maybe we can have better contestants with better publicity?

I don’t think I will not be going to future Malaysian legs of AFA. It is a lot more satisfying and enjoyable to simply save my money and time for the Singapore one because it is better organized with better exhibitors and cosplayers. I’d ask for my RM30 back, but KANAME’s appearance made up for it. Some pics below:


Filed under Go Grr..., Pop Goes the Fiction!

Cybertron Con 2012 Descends to Singapore

Geek squad alert, get your giant robots on!

Important details below, for full press release click the source at Seibertron right here.

When and what time:

  • 11 March (11am – 9pm)
  • 12 – 13 March (10am – 9pm)
  • 14 March (10am – 6pm)



  • An extensive display of TRANSFORMERS toys; cartoon animation and video games;
  • Showcase of previously unreleased artwork;
  • Extensive collection of historical TRANSFORMERS items from throughout the brand’s 27 year;
  • Panel Sessions with special guest, Mr. Hideaki Yoke and TRANSFORMERS brand experts from Hasbro;
  • A 22-foot tall OPTIMUS PRIME character statue, one of the largest TRANSFORMERS statues ever;
  • TRANSFORMERS drawing classes by top Hasbro artists (at select times);
  • Three-dimensional action figure dioramas capturing scenes from popular films and comics;
  • TRANSFORMERS entertainment including the blockbuster movies;
  • National ‘Fastest Fingers First’ Challenge, testing convention goers’ skills at converting TRANSFORMERS action figures from “robot” to “vehicle” modes;
  • Convention-goers can also expect to receive limited edition 2012 TRANSFORMERS Cybertron Con souvenirs (while supplies last);
  • Sale of TRANSFORMERS collectibles, latest line of TRANSFORMERS toys and products which will be available for purchase during the convention.

How much:

1. Day Pass (per person) = SGD12

2. 4-Day VIP Pass (per person) = SGD68

3. Battle Pass (per person) = Adult – SGD77 | Child -SGD62 | Senior – SGD48. Includes:

  • 1 x One Day Pass to Universal Studios Singapore
  • 1 x One Day Admission to TRANSFORMERS Cybertron Con

4. 3D2N  Package (for 2 persons) = SGD988 (SGD100 discount i.e. SGD888 for early birds; reservation must be done before Mar 1). Includes:

  • 2 Nights Stay at Festive Hotel Deluxe Family Room or Hard Rock Hotel Deluxe Room
  • 2 x welcome drink
  • 2 x daily breakfast at Hotel
  • 2 x One Day Pass to Universal Studios Singapore
  • 2 x One Day Admission to TRANSFORMERS Cybertron Con
  • 2 x One Day Admission to MEMA (Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium)
  • Resorts World Sentosa Gift Voucher worth S$25

Tickets and Reservations:

More information:


Filed under Pop Goes the Fiction!, Travels