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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dave Avran would like to wish everyone a spanking Christmas & an ass-tounding New Year
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More Childhood Heroes Bite The Dust…

You know you’re really getting old when your childhood heroes are dropping like flies around you. Dan Fogelberg passed away last Sunday after a three-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 56. I felt shocked and saddened to the hear news that he died so young. Fogelberg waged a valiant fight and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife, Jean, by his side.

Fogelberg had a string of hit albums in the 1970s and early '80s. He scored several platinum and multi-platinum albums fueled by hit singles, among them "Leader of the Band," a poignant tribute to his father, and "Same Old Lang Syne," a bittersweet Christmas Eve narrative about bumping into an old girlfriend.

Odds are slim that appreciations will start pouring in like they did for Ike Turner, who died last week. Fogelberg was neither pioneer nor virtuoso. He won no Grammys and left a modest musical legacy. Moreover, his genre was soft-rock, a sound much maligned for its lack of edge and much loved by romantic young females.

My surprise at Fogelberg's untimely death was followed shortly by something like a recovered memory: The year the Sex Pistols started a revolution, I was in my room listening to "Nether Lands." It's an unabashedly lush album, a suite-like set of songs drenched in classical arrangements and country-rock guitars, emotional fireworks and verses in French.

The cream of the Southern California crop played on the record: Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Russ Kunkel, J. D. Souther. Some of it still sounds exquisite to this day: the simple, elegant melody to "Dancing Shoes," for example, and the Baroque wistfulness of "Scarecrow's Dream." "Sketches" is a fever in waltz time, a pop song as sad and weighty as a teenager's heart.

Later in his career, Fogelberg would pen more topical tunes, mainly concerned with the environment. But it was the heavily arranged ballads and exuberant folk-rockers like "Part of the Plan" that touched his fans most deeply.

Fogelberg sang high and hard, with his whole voice. He infused his music with a tenderness and eagerness that's often frowned upon by the cognoscenti and embraced by a different slice of the population - people eager for tenderness. His style was flagrant, bordering on shameless. If you were a pop fan with a soft spot for pretty melodies and vulnerable guys, Fogelberg was your man.

Fogelberg was a brief fixture on my oddball music trajectory, an arc that's turned out to be the opposite of most people's. The cultivated, innocuous stuff - Dan Fogelberg's beautiful songs - came first. Years later I became a classic rock fan. Fogelberg certainly didn't fit the myth or make the sound of rebellious youth, but I'm here to say he provided the soundtrack to some seriously fringe behavior.

Maybe his dulcet tunes were a sort of safety net, a way back to home base. They were definitely the sweet, sweet sound of sanity during the craziest times.

Another old-timer musician Stephen Stills, of folk-rock trio Crosby, Stills and Nash has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. An early diagnosis of the disease had potentially saved the 62-year-old's life. He will undergo an operation on 3 January.

Crosby, Stills and Nash comprised one of rock's biggest acts and embodied Woodstock-era folk-rock sensibilities of peace, love and music. They were known for hits including Teach Your Children, Woodstock, and Marrakesh Express.

The news of Still's diagnosis came just days after Fogelberg died.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

I am so getting used to this view

Huh? What the duck?

I was happily enjoying a Mocha Frappe with my friend at the new ultra hip outlet at The Gardens when she dared to ask “the question

“So, Dave, you’re such a sweet guy - why did you break-up with your ex- girlfriend?”

“I didn’t break-up with her, sweetie – she dumped me” I growled in my best ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ voice.

“But do you know why?” She persisted irritatingly.

“It was a psychological problem” I managed to blurt out through gritted teeth.

Obviously Ms Busybody didn’t get the hint “How so?” she enquired sweetly.

“I was psycho and she was logical” I said.

“I see” she answered, slowly picking up her Latte and surreptitiously moving her chair two steps backward.

She then fiddled with her handbag and placed a small can of pepper spray on the table, close to her.

Young people nowadays, I thought to myself. Must be some sort of new fad to have a dash of pepper with your Latte. Doesn’t sound very appetizing though.

For reasons best known to herself, she now consistently turns me down for coffee. Strange, innit?
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Santa Claus Arrested!

As 2007 comes to an end, it seems the bad news is not going to stop. Not long after God retired, Children everywhere may be in for a nasty surprise on Christmas morning. The North Pole Daily has reported that Santa has been arrested during a fly over practice run over Washington D.C. It seems the CIA were getting increasingly uncomfortable with the huge crowds generated wherever Santa went.

Santa's sleigh was escorted down via fighter jets hastily scrambled to stop the jolly red man from possibly disseminating seditious speech. Santa is now detained in an undisclosed location. A White House news conference announced that America is now safe from the threat of violent mass gatherings from spreading nationwide on Santa's annual Christmas Eve trek.

Santa has been added to the Terrorism Watch List. Mrs. Claus and the children were added to the list too. His friend Dasher the Reindeer tried to bite an agent who was handcuffing Santa; while Rudolph suffered a bloody red nose as a result of the fracas. Both Reindeer have been tested for drug use and charged with assault and put on the Federal No Fly list until further notice.

When CIA and later the FBI tried to get Santa to talk about what he had planned for his flights over Washington he refused to talk and instead sang "Let it Snow" in a loud, joyful voice. Feds attempted to interrogate Santa using the latest water boarding techniques but his excess weight gave his so much buoyancy they could not keep him under water.

After raiding the North Pole workshop and confiscating Santa’s computers, the feds added the following charges to their Investigation - multiple incidences of breaking and entering via chimney, multiple incidences of espionage by spying whether children were bad or good (and checking the list twice), copyright and patent infringements on cheap China-made toys, multiple counts of child labor violations, multiple counts of child molestation by seating them on his lap, driving with an overloaded sleigh and cruelty to animals, particularly Reindeer.

"How do you plead?" asked the feds. “I protest. My workshop is run by Elves, not children.” said Santa.

"How do you plead to the rest of the charges?" asked the feds. "Ho Ho Ho" was the only answer. Then Santa requested for a lawyer from anywhere in the world except Malaysia..

It is the morning of Christmas Eve and liberals and human rights organizations worldwide are frantically working to get Santa released in time for his annual flight to deliver gifts. Condoleeza Rice’s holiday shopping was interrupted by a woman who accosted her in Bloomingdales and waved her blood red hands in Condi's face. The woman was wearing a pink t-shirt that said "Free Santa."

The Federation of Toy Manufacturers has staged a protest in front of the White House. Thousands of members were chanting "Free Santa" and waving Impeach Bush signs. A group known as Mothers for Santa (MofoSa) has taken out an ad in the New York Times demanding Santa's release and castigating Bush for Santa abuse.

When approached for a statement, Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi issued a statement that his government required time to study the full impact of this new development as Santa was not recognized by Islam. Besides, Khairy is not around. He is still overseas, dammit! Said the PM.

Meanwhile, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has announced that it will deliver a memorandum to the American Embassy claiming US117 trillion in damages for undelivered gifts to underprivileged Indian Christian children in Malaysia.

Mothers everywhere are frantically shopping for cookies and milk for their children to put out for Santa. They pray for Santa's safety and hope Santa is released soon so the kids will awake to the tradition of presents under the tree from Santa. CNN has a big question mark under their headline "Santa Tracker" that is supposed to be tracking Santa's flight from the North Pole.

The Alaskan Railroad is offering free fares to all who want to travel up to the North Pole to comfort Mrs. Claus in her time of need.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Customer Service? What The Hell Is That?

With Christmas around the corner, it’s the season for buying gifts. It’s also a reason to check out all the new shops in malls that have mushroomed recently, especially Tangs and Robinsons at Pavilion, The Gardens and Sunway Pyramid 2.

Ever notice how customer service varies from store to store in Malaysia? You walk into some stores, and before you can say "Buzz off!" a salesperson asks "May I help you?"

"No thanks."

"May I help you?" asks another.

"No thanks."

"May I help you?" asks a third.

When the store runs out of salespeople, you get to see the merchandise. This is called "in your face customer service".

Other stores take the opposite approach. When I couldn't find the right size adapter for my nephew’s new portable electronic time travel machine, I looked for help in aisle three. Nobody there. Aisle four? Still nobody. Aisle five? Nope. Aisle six? Seven? Fifty-six?

This is called "run for cover customer service".

Then there is the equipment shop that welcomes you with open arms when your lawn mower starts sounding like dentures in a blender. "It just needs a routine cleaning. We charge RM150 for that," the friendly salesman says. Then he lowers his voice. "But you could probably do it yourself."

I commend him on his helpfulness. He beams with pride. "Yup. I thought it up by myself. Whenever a customer tries to fix something at home, we make a whole lot more money fixing it the next day. Then my boss gives me a commission"

I call this "do-it-yourself-extortion".

And what about the three companies that came to quote on some air con ducting? Each looks around, takes some notes and promises to get back to us with a quote.

We wait. And wait. And wait.

We call back the first company, which promises to get back to us with its quote. It makes the same promise consistently each time we call. Don’t you just love a reliable company? This is called "promising customer service".

We call the second company. We call them in the day. We call them in the night. We call them in the dark. We call them in the light. We call them in the morn. We call them at high noon. We call them at dinner, and by the light of the moon. Even bad poetry doesn't help. I just love a company that doesn't pester me by answering the phone.

I call this "Invisible Man customer service".

In the end, we chose the third company. To what does it owe the winning bid? Excellent quality? No. Reasonable price? No. Strong guarantee? No. Answering their phone? Yes. We hire the best paperwork fillers to renovate our ductwork – and we cross our fingers that we never have to choose a heart surgeon that way.

I call this "present-at-attendance customer service".

Our pest control company showed us a different approach.

"Honey, the flies are getting in the house. Time to call the Pest Control Guy." *Ring ring* "OK, I'll do it right after I answer the phone. Hello”?

"Hello, this is your Pest Control Guy. When would you like your annual pest controlling?" "How did you know? Well, as soon as possible. *Ding dong* Hold on, that's the door bell."

"Hi, it’s me, your Pest Control Guy." "But, you were just on the phone." "Well, you said ASAP, so here I am."

I call this "customer service on steroids".

If you own a business, run a family or do anything that brings you into contact with other human beings, please take note. One of these customer service styles is actually good.

"Hello, this is Pest Control Guy."

OK, that's enough. We don't have any pests in this blog. Or do we?
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Fishy Business

I came across this anecdote in an old issue of Reader’s Digest and just had to share it with you. Image credit: Disney Pictures (Jacques from ‘Finding Nemo’)

Two prawns, Tom and Christian were swimming around in shark- infested waters discussing how difficult their lives were. “We never know when we’re going to get eaten” said Tom. “I wish I was a shark -then I wouldn’t have to worry."

At that moment a large cod appeared. “Your wish is granted” it said and whoosh Tom turned into a great white shark. Christian, terrified off his former best friend swam away and hid.

Months passed and life grew very lonely for Tom. Whenever he saw his old prawn friends, they swam away in fear. Christian was so upset by his old pal joining the enemy that he reused to leave his home.

Desperate to put things right, Tom searched everywhere for the mysterious cod. Eventually he found him. “Please make me a prawn again” he begged. Whoosh he was a shellfish again.

With tears of joy in his little eyes, he rushed home to Christian. He banged on the door and said “Hey! It’s me. Come out and see me!”. “No way” said Christian “I won’t be tricked into being your dinner.”

“But that was the old me” implored Tom “I’ve changed. I’ve found cod. I’m a prawn again, Christian!”
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Monday, December 03, 2007


As an Editor, I’m used to receiving unusual and gimmicky press releases as PR agencies try to be creative and original in attracting our attention. Therefore when an email popped into my inbox purportedly from “” I didn’t bat an eye.

It said to gather at the Lake Gardens Gazebo at 9:00am on Sunday and we would be beamed up to Heaven for a very important announcement. It also said cameras and recording equipment were not allowed. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to attend, even though it was on a Sunday.

There was quite a large crowd of press and media people already present when I arrived and I was busy greeting friends when we were suddenly surrounded by a blue light and a humming sound. Next thing I knew we were sitting among soft fluffy clouds and an attractive angel was handing out press kits.

The kits contained a folder with God’s biography, his retirement announcement, a pair of Oakley sunglasses and a white baseball cap with “I met God” in front and on the back. “Please put on your sunglasses. The Lord will be with you shortly” said the angel.

The Almighty appeared without any fanfare or fuss and sat down in the clouds in front of us. He was dressed casually in faded blue Levi’s and wearing a cap with the words “I’m the Boss.” Apart from exuding a brilliant white aura he looked just like an ordinary dude with a white beard, his hair tied up in a pony tail.

“You have read the announcement. God will now answer any questions that you may have. You do not have to speak, just think” said the angel. Almost immediately God looked at a colleague and said “Yes, Deepak. It’s no hoax. Humanity has been asking me to leave them alone for aeons so I’m just obliging them”.

He turned to another colleague “Not to worry, Eddy. The stock market will dip for a while but it will stabilize shortly once people get used to the idea of not having me around.”. “Not to worry, Richard Tan” he said addressing yet another friend “the price of beer and cigarettes will not go up”

Then he looked directly at me and said “Dave, you should be ashamed of yourself, fantasizing about Christine like that” Christine from Hot French Fry magazine shot me a dirty look as I turned beetroot red. “Besides,” he continued “She doesn’t like it doggy style.” Now it was poor Christine’s turn to blush a crimson red.

Good God! He really knows everything!

Just then we heard a familiar ‘teet teet’ sound. “Excuse me” said God as he whipped out his Nokia Nseries. He sighed and said “Isn’t it ironic? I’m the original “upstairs” and the original “sanctuary” but I keep getting spam sms-es from these outlets”. He looked at me, nodded and continued “Yes, Dave. Backyard Pub too”

So without any further ado, here’s my report on this sad development…

Sunday, December 3 2007, Heaven – A press conference held today in Heaven advised that God has announced his retirement. The Lord Almighty’s unexpected announcement sent shockwaves across the cosmos.

Sources close to the Lord indicate that no replacements have been announced. However, White House sources who have asked to remain anonymous indicate that the top name on President Bush’s God nomination list is Karl Rove, his deputy chief of staff.

News of the President’s proposal has drawn harsh criticism worldwide from political and legal critics who note that the American Constitution makes no provision for the President to appoint God. The White House has refused official comment on the subject.

Representatives from many countries around the world have claimed that it is their divine right to nominate God’s replacement. Meanwhile in Malaysia, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi issued a statement that his government required time to study the full impact of this development from an Islamic viewpoint before making a decision on behalf of the rakyat. Furthermore, Khairy is not around. He is overseas said the PM.

The reason for God’s retirement was originally unknown. My sources indicate that God has been in good health, still works 24-hour days in a variety of time zones and also oversees life on numerous worlds yet unknown to us. Despite all this, God feels that he has been downsized and is largely ignored nowadays.

In a statement released to the press last Sunday, God said, “I might as well enjoy the rest of eternity. Nobody listens to me anymore. Maybe in a few years I’ll get on Oprah and then start my own talk show and people will start listening to me again. If that dancing monkey Ellen DeGeneres and that wuss Isaac Mizrahi can do it, why not me? Or, hell, maybe I’ll just run for President of the United States. That would definitely get everyone’s attention globally.”

God’s career began millions of years ago with the creation of Earth. Throughout his impressive career, God has saved millions of lives, spoken to man on numerous occasions (some confirmed and some unconfirmed), and performed uncounted miracles.

Although God’s work has been impressive many have criticized him, blaming him for everything including poverty, violence, famine, and natural disasters. God has chosen to remain silent in the face of these accusations.

God is single and a father of one. We will miss him and wish him all the best in his future undertakings.

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The Chinawimmen Conspiracy

I have been saying it all along. Now there’s concrete proof of my Chinawimmen conspiracy. Last night stunning 23-year-old Zhang Zi Lin wowed the home crowd to become China's first-ever Miss World at the 57th edition of the annual beauty pageant.

Now you can all stop laughing at me and take note. China is actively engaged in a long term plan for world domination in a furtive manner through its females. Mark my words gentlemen, Chinawimmen are taking over the world, one man at a time.

Still don’t believe me? They have integrated themselves into every country and every culture worldwide. Look around you – they’ve married into every family in Malaysia. There’s at least one of them in each family - be it Malay, Indian, Eurasian, East Malaysian or Ethnic, buried under deep cover as sleeper agents waiting for instructions from Beijing.

My sources indicate that the catalyst for activating their “terminator” status is the sound of dollar notes being flipped, played over their handphones.

If you come to your senses and realise the seriousness of your predicament and decide to get rid of your Chinawoman, you can take advantage of my free Chinawimmen disposal service*. Just send me an email or sms or in case of emergency give me a call and I’ll immediately remove the offending creature for FREE as soon as you sign the transfer of ownership form. (Borang Pemindahan Hak Milik)

You have been warned.

* Terms and conditions apply – Chinawimmen must be between the ages of 18 – 35 and be in good physical condition.
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