No Pain, No Gain

The only exercise I get is walking behind the coffins of friends who exercise

Actor, Peter O’ Toole

I’m pushing 63 now and, truth be told, that’s enough exercise for anyone. 

But when I was younger, I used to jog. Reluctantly, I have to confess. But most of my peers were doing so and I didn’t wasn’t to stand out. 

In science, we have learnt that serious exercise causes the human body to produce endorphins, substances that interact with the brain’s opiate receptors to produce feelings of painlessness and ecstasy. Not unlike morphine or codeine. 

If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. 

The lone jogger starts off in a position of penitence, not unlike prayer. He then methodically moves on to heavy breathing followed by gasping and snorting in stertorous fashion, not unlike a blowfish. 

But the serious runner perseveres until pain is seen leaping from pimple to pimple in a face now wracked by suffering. 

It is at this point when prudent people begin crossing the street.

Theoretically, it is at this point when his body is producing its maximum amount of endorphins.

But do you see him giggling and occasionally kicking up his heels in bouts of mind-uplifting ecstasy? As Joan Rivers once remarked: “The first time I see a jogger smile, I’ll take it up.”

But there’s exercise and there is exercise. I have a friend, for example, whose idea of an accelerated heartbeat is a brisk sit.

That seemed, to me at least, an idea whose time had definitely come. But my wife who is obsessed with losing weight thinks that walking “10,000 steps” a day is what the doctor ordered so she goes walking all the time. 

I try to accompany her sometimes but the sight of so many elderly people cheerfully walking about in the early morning depresses the hell out of me. If you don’t think Malaysia has an aging population, try coming to Sri Hartamas in the morning. 

Also, knowing my luck, there will inevitably be dog poop around and my shoes have an unerring habit of finding it.  

So my wife took matters into her own hands and signed me up with a physical trainer. 

He turned out to be a fellow with muscles up to his ears and more tattoos than your average serial killer. 

But he was nice enough and seemed to have real knowledge about muscle groups and how to get fitter through diet, exercise and pithy aphorisms like “Take charge, don’t be large.” 

The thing was, he was very serious about working out with one-hour sessions scheduled three times a week. 

What I know is this: a one-hour workout is something that burns fat, sugar and starch into aches, pains and cramps. And the other thing: if you want to know the correct way to do a particular exercise, the answer invariably is “whatever hurts most.” 

It’s been three months now and I have to admit that I do feel better and sleep a lot better. That’s the good news. 

The bad news is that I haven’t lost a single kilogram.

Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Pig

Francis Bacon might have been charmed. 

A pig in South Africa can paint artwork that actually sells so her handlers have -obviously – named her Pigcasso. 

Brandishing a paintbrush in her snout, Pigcasso enthusiastically tosses her head to create bright, bold strokes across a canvas propped up in her sty. 

Her story is not an uncommon one as pig stories go but, in her case, there was always going to be a twist in the tale. 

The animal was rescued from an abattoir as a piglet, thus avoiding a fate worse than bacon. She was then brought to an animal sanctuary in Franschhoek, in South Africa’s Western Cape region in 2016, where her new owners noticed her love of colour and paintbrushes. 

The last line is from the original Reuters report. How on earth the owners could have discerned the pig’s leanings is unclear but who knows? Maybe the porcine painter confided in them. 

As pigs are known to be smart animals, its new owners wondered how to keep the sow from getting boared in her barn.  

“We threw in some soccer balls, rugby balls and of course there were some paintbrushes lying around because the barn was newly build,” said Joanne Lefson who ran the sanctuary. “She basically ate or destroyed everything except these paintbrushes … she loved them so much.” 

Soon the pig was dipping the brushes into pots of paint and making her mark. Her paintings can sell for almost $4,000. 

At this point dear reader, you will just have to suspend disbelief and simply remember that it was Picasso who made the remark about good taste being “the enemy of creativity.” 

Chalk one up to the artist. The proceeds of her paintings generally go to animal welfare causes so you could even call her philanthropig.

“Pigcasso is definitely an abstract expressionist, you can’t exactly define what she’s painting but I can tell you that her style slightly changes depending on her mood like any great artist,” said Lefson. 

The critics secretly thought it was hogwash but it was an endearing story and they figured they’d let it pass. 

Pigcasso herself was unimpressed: she felt the world didn’t make sense so why should she paint stuff that did? She thought about the abattoir and shuddered: there but for the grace of Lefson went sausages, she thought and felt that art was distinctly preferable.

In between her dalliances with the canvas, she exhibited a puckish sense of humour.  She especially delighted in hiding behind a bush and leaping out at unwary visitors to startle them. 

She took great delight in these hambushes.

Meanwhile, the swinish sketcher has been going from strength to strength. 

Pigcasso has even had one of her artworks turned into a watch face for Swiss watchmaker Swatch. 

Swatch announced a collaboration with the pig last month. 

 The limited edition “Flying Pig by Ms. Pigcasso” features green, blue and pink brush strokes and sells for $120. 

No one knows what it means or if it means anything at all but, hey, remember what Andy Warhol said. 

Art is anything you can get away with. 

What A Difference A Year Makes

Get re-elected

First Law of Office Bearers

People who sometimes wonder why Malaysia used to be described by the British as the Land of Promise should have been around during the first two months of the run-up towards the 14thMalaysian general election. 

Let’s face it: the eventual winners, Pakatan Harapan promised all and the kitchen sink. 

But wait a minute. Are we saying that Malaysians were so dazzled by Pakatan’s brilliant pledges of sweeping reform that those promises ensured its victory? 

Please. Voters were simply sick and tired of the high cost of living, Barisan’s arrogance and that 800-pound gorilla in the room called 1MDB. 

Or to put it another way, do you remember a single electoral promise by the Barisan Nasional between, say, 1975 and 2013 that sticks in your mind? 

It’s been a year since May 9, 2018 and a famous electoral upset where an unfancied Pakatan Harapan coalition toppled the incumbent government in a decision that, to me at least, was way overdue. 

But now the pundits are shaking their heads with some predicting that the new government is, at best, a one-term wonder. 

First, ignore those who credit PH’s alleged unpopularity to unfulfilled campaign promises. That is the stuff of bunkum. The BN were almost never held accountable for its campaign promises. Why should PH be any different?

Still, in all fairness PH has implemented almost 40% of its promises, which is fantastic in itself. And it maintains that the rest – except for the free tolls, perhaps – is a continuing work in progress. 

OK, the jury will remain out on that. One of the pledges, however, was putting limits on the term of a serving prime minister and that would be very remarkable if implemented. “Remarkable” because that would be like asking chickens to vote for Colonel Sanders. 

Truth be told, the only reason for PH’s declining popularity is the fiction, mainly hawked by some opposition politicians from the previous government and the Islamic Party, that it is a threat to the Malays and Islam. 

That, in itself, is well-nigh impossible for the following reasons:  

The position of both Islam and the Malays is protected by the Constitution. 

The Rulers, the protectors of the religion, are all Malay.

The civil service – from federal to state level – is overwhelmingly Malay. 

The Police and the Armed Forces – the only ones permitted to carry weapons – are overwhelmingly Malay.  

The Prime Minister, his deputy and the majority of MPs in Parliament are Malay. 

All Islamic agencies including the Syariah courts are staffed by Muslims. 

Yet, prodded by politicians desperate to make a comeback, the notion of a “threat” persists. 

It is also fueled by the largest number of non-Malay Cabinet Ministers ever; the largest number of non-Malay MPs in Parliament and non-Malays as both Finance Minister and Attorney General, respectively. 

So you can see how a “threat” argument might conceivably be developed. 

It was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, who famously described how a fiction might be believed. “If you tell a lie big enough and continue to repeat it, it will eventually be believed,” was how he put it.

In short, this is likely to go on until 2023. 

The best counter for that would be a simple question. What would have happened if BN got re-elected last year?

The answer – business as usual – should put the fear of God into any sensible voter. 

Live Free And Life Is Worth Living

Behind every great fortune is a crime

French philosopher Balzac

The poor and ignorant will continue to lie and steal so long as the rich and educated show them how

American writer Elbert Hubbard

The Felonious Fatso known as Jho Low is officially not hiding out in China and we have this on good authority because the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia said so and he wouldn’t lie, would he? 

The plump pirate from Penang didn’t know and didn’t care because he was too busy not hiding out in China to notice. He had other things on his mind. 

For one thing, the super yacht formerly known as Equanimity was now owned by Genting Malaysia and renamed Tranquillity. Felonious felt sick: there was nothing tranquil about the times. 

The trial of his mentor, friend and all-round good guy, the former Fearless Leader had begun and he’d noticed with foreboding that FL’s lawyers at one point seemed bent on incriminating him.

Felonious was shocked. He knew the law as well as any outlaw and he knew he was innocent because the law was clear: a man was guilty unless proven wealthy. 

And he knew he was wealthy because even the US’ Department of Justice said so. Of course, Felonious himself did not think of himself as wealthy. He liked to think of himself as a poor man with “allegedly” lots of money.  

The fugitive fatty liked the word “alleged.” In fact, he liked it a lot as it seemed to cover a multitude of sins without actually incriminating anyone.

He also thought the Irish were ahead of their time. In Ireland, apparently, there was a judicial category called “not proven” which, in effect, meant: “you’re guilty as sin and don’t ever try it again.” 

At any one time, the émigré not presently ensconced in China stood accused of a great many things. Right now, the beefy brigand was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice. Or, as his public relations’ people would have it, his press releases. 

Indeed, his latest press release “welcomed” the US authorities’ recent deal to recover stolen 1MDB monies: jewellery worth US$1.7 million (RM7 million) had been seized by them. 

And why was Felonious happy about that? 

The surrender of jewellery bought for his mother “did not amount to an admission of wrongdoing.”  

And the fraudulent fatso cheerfully looked forward to a “continued and amicable resolution of all remaining issues.”  

For the record, the DoJ has maintained that all the assets it has seized and is seeking to seize – or “issues” as Felonious would say – were from the dapper delinquent’s various investments using monies “allegedly” stolen from 1MDB. 

So far almost RM700 million has been seized or accepted as settlements by the US government but the cherubic charlatan remained unfazed: it did not amount to any admission of “wrongdoing.”

Add to that the seizure of a $US250 million yacht and a multimillion dollar private jet and only one haunting question remains.  How much did the fat felon stash away in the first place?