Ba11sy!


18th August 2014: BALLSY! An Open Mic Show #11, at Page 2, Publika. Here’s host and emcee Shaneil Devaser setting up the mike…


…for the first act, Az Samad & Kirsten Long!


She sang something about cats and misbehaving and valentines.


Benjamin took this picture.


This is new!


All pictures taken with my new Sony Alpha 7S and Mitakon/ZhongYi Speedmaster 50mm F0.95 without flash, and usually wide open. EXIF is also included so you can inspect the high ISO performance!


Shavkat.


He hails from Tajikistan!


Ian Tai fills in for Sufiz who was missing. Interesting how his face and the character on his shirt are equally round.


Jes Ebrahim.


Bullet Murugan!


Alex Subryn (also featuring Bullet!)


Meanwhile, in the back, I spotted red, green and blue.


Bullet Murugan.


Ian Tai in his proper slot, Rick Roll-ing us.


Kim Lim, double-tapper. She covered Az Samad – Latah Setinggan with her own inflections!


Maha Jeffery.


A little blues and a cover of Jimi Hendrix – Red House. Yeah!


Shaneil Devaser ends the night.

Kelly Siew, UNO


14th August 2014: I wandered into Bricks & Barrels, Desa Sri Hartamas…


…where Kelly Siew was playing!


I like how each of these pictures has a different color, all from the UNO card set.


Unfortunately though, as I had a story to tell a good friend, I had to run off early.

From Seremban To Subang


On the 18th of August 2014, I took the KTM Komuter to Seremban, crossed the road, walked past Seremban Parade (now known as Seremban Prima), and found myself this old gem…


…an A&W Drive-Thru!


An old sign, and Seremban Prima in the background.


I came here on the tip-off of Nicholas Chin, who remembers an epic playground like the one at the PJ Drive-In in Taman Jaya. Sadly, there wasn’t one anymore. (From this angle, it should match this picture.)


Nothing on this green patch, either.


I don’t know whether to go in or go out.


The drive-thru road. I have to say I really like the design of the roof.


The outdoor area.


The indoor area, next to the counter.


The ice-cream corner. Note the untouched pictures. I like it. It’s not even retro; it’s authentic.


The party room. Unlike McDonald’s, they’ve not killed the party rooms.


Sofas and not-so-aged chairs.


For the record, he is Rooty the Great Root Bear!

I used to take the KTM to Seremban years ago. She’s married with a kid now. I also looked young. People also appreciated infrared portraiture.


Back to the story, 10 days later, 28th August 2014.


It was Leg Day, so I walked from the Subang KTM Komuter station. The roundabout near this was the craziest part of it all!


A&W, Kompleks 3K, Subang.


Classic benches! I will always have a thing for these.


Classic spelling of Root Beer, not the Malaysian-ized RB.


Was this a playground? This was my first time here, so I had no idea.


This would also be my last time, because I came here to say hello… and goodbye. After the false alarm of the closure of the PJ Drive-In, is a real closing down.


From the outside. I like the spine on the roof in front of the counter.


Giant root beer and ice-cream area.


More classic pictures!


The waffle machines.


No way, a stairway!


This was the first A&W I’d been to with an actual stairway that wasn’t part of a playground or a restricted area.


A large party room!


RB bottles for recycling!


Trophies.


Pictures of Rooty.


Oh dear goodness. Rooty!

I did not have an accomplice nor an escape vehicle so Rooty stayed untouched.

I sadly can’t find any pictures of the A&W that used to be in KLCC, despite going there very often in my college days and for a while after that, until it closed down. It’s sad though how A&W outlets would open at choice locations, with large interiors, and the always awesome Bearland (that’s what they call their playgrounds) and yet not sustain business.


So I continued Leg Day (or rather, Leg Night) and walked on to Sunway Pyramid, where I found the largest Johnny Rockets in the world, in Sunway Pyramid! I sure hope they sustain that diner magic that I’m sure A&W cast on us and older generations!

More reading and pictures:
Amburgers & Wootbeer

Alpha Sevenesque


So I took my Sony Alpha 7S for a spin, street shooting on Bintang Walk. The train took forever.


1/60s ISO3200 F4.5 16mm, with the handy Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake. This, before discovering 1/160s was possible.


Street graffiti.


A quick grab.


Projek Rojak Buskers!


Acoustic shredder.


They played a cover of Santana – Black Magic Woman, and many other Malaysian classics.


Further down the road (given that Number 1 is nearer to Jalan Pudu), the massage parlors that were closed down by the DBKL, were now occupied by new outlets.


Some had banners informing of their relocation…


…and some, like this infamous hotel, were boarded up and got no renters.


The road to Low Yat Plaza and a side entrance to Bukit Bintang Plaza. There used to be an awesome band playing here.


ISO25600 1/60s. Still not fast enough to freeze motion. Could’ve pushed it further!


This was not a path, but a sidewalk restaurant.


Sungei Wang Plaza.


Outside Yayasan Selangor.


At this point I discovered 1/160s and stuck there, shooting out the monorail. Auto ISO chose ISO64000.

Moonshine: Spotlight ft The Impatient Sisters, The Venopian Solitude, Stonebay & Cassandra Mary / August 2014


7th August 2014: Moonshine: Spotlight ft The Impatient Sisters, The Venopian Solitude, Stonebay & Cassandra Mary / August 2014 at Laundry Bar, The Curve.


Here’s emcee and organizer, Reza Salleh, filling in for Stonebay, who could not make it.


On djembe, badass Zalila Lee.


This would be the first gig I’d bring my new Sony Alpha 7S to! Here, I learned that using Silent Shutter would result in flourescent light artifacts such as in the background when using a faster shutter speed than the alternating current refresh rate. Sure, I could use 1/50s, but it would not freeze action as well.


Reza borrows a pick.


Cassandra Mary is another boss.


Her boys, Wei-Ming…


…Ryan…


…and Herman.


I’d discover when shooting in portrait orientation, how unbalanced and unergonomic the Sony Alpha 7S with LA-EA4 adapter and Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 could be. I’m not sure how much the VG-C1EM vertical control grip would help, as it doesn’t have a lowered shutter button and lacks the meticulous replication of buttons that previous C-series (for Control) vertical grips have.


And so, shooting in landscape orientation was a relief.


Next up…


…the return of The Impatient Sisters!


But first, a non-sibling bassist…


…celloist…


…and drummer.


Irena/Kina Taib on guitar, who is a scholarship student of Berklee College Of Music!


Soraya Taib on vocals.


Nazeera Taib on vocals.


They do their unique blend of indie folk vocal harmony.


Meanwhile, outside, Hameer Zawawi spotted with an outgrown buzzcut, prompting me to quip – “Hipster Layu!

It could mean three things:
- Hipster (Me)layu – Malay hipster
- Hipster Lah You – You’re a hipster
- Hipster Layu – Faded/outgrown hipster

Oh yes, I am brilliant.


Then came the otherworldly The Venopian Solitude.


Backed by some…


…familiar…


…faces.


Yeah, that’s a lot of keys.


However, they didn’t just play keys!


All sorts of percussion.


Sticks!


A colorful highlight was this tambourine, that would light up when hit!


Oh, and an electric ukulele.


Reza closes the night.


Joni lives the thug life.


Jessica and the merchandise booth.

IR; S


4th August 2014: I finally doubled my E-mount body count, by adding the Sony Alpha 7S! I skipped the Alpha 7 because it was merely 24 megapixels – something I’ve had in 3 bodies since 2008 – the Sony Alpha 900, Alpha 77V and Alpha 99V. I also skipped the Alpha 7R because although it had a tempting 36 megapixels, it was missing Electronic First Curtain, important on a full-time live-view camera, because it adds to shutter lag drastically especially when using flash.

The Alpha 7S solved that by not only having Electronic First Curtain, but Electronic Second Curtain (Silent Shutter)! So it is truly silent – some other cameras may claim to have a softer shutter or silent shutter, but you can still hear it. Not this. There is no physical shutter moving when Silent Shutter is enabled. The only sound you’ll hear is if you are shooting an A-mount lens not at its wide open aperture – then you’ll hear the aperture closing down for the picture.

Silent Shutter does have its artifacts though, in the form of stripes when shooting in flourescent light, and one way to solve this is to set your shutter speed to match the frequency of the alternating current e.g. 1/50s or 1/60s depending on where you are. You can’t use Silent Shutter with flash, and because it is not a global shutter, it scans the frame from top to bottom, meaning if you shoot out a car window, you may get scenery that drags across the frame diagonally.

The Alpha 7S also does amazingly at low light. I’ve set Auto ISO to max out at ISO 409600, letting the camera decide when it needs to go that far. Strangely, that hasn’t happened much, even though I’m now on Manual Exposure, 1/160s and shooting whichever lens wide open for the foreground/background separation.


Here, though, is 1/160s ISO20000 at F5.6. I don’t have to worry about shallow depth of field in street photos!


Auto ISO chose ISO80000.


F2.8 1/100s. Auto ISO chose ISO128000. I’m hoping to get in a taxi with the classic flowery wallpaper patterns of my childhood taxis.


F2.8 1/125s. Auto ISO chose ISO204800. Yup, frozen people on the dance floor.


1/15s. Auto ISO chose ISO409600. I turned off all the lights. It was nighttime, and I could not see anything. I turned on the camera, and I was surprised to see it seeing in the dark. It had night vision!


The stuff that came in the box. Lots of cables, and the battery charger!


I also bought the Sony LA-EA4 A-mount to E-mount adapter. This is the fourth such adapter; what’s the difference?

LA-EA1 – APS-C only, no translucent mirror, contrast-detect autofocus with SSM and SAM lenses, manual focus with screw-drive lenses
LA-EA2 – APS-C only, translucent mirror, phase-detect autofocus with SSM lenses, SAM lenses and screw-drive lenses
LA-EA3 – full-frame, no translucent mirror, contrast-detect autofocus with SSM and SAM lenses, manual focus with screw-drive lenses
LA-EA4 – full-frame, translucent mirror, phase-detect autofocus with SSM lenses, SAM lenses and screw-drive lenses


I also removed the rear baffle from my Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake lens (left) and Sony LA-EA1 (right), making both full-frame compatible.


However, the 16mm has a bit of vignetting left, and distortion beyond the APS-C frame is weird, but it’s not too bad – it can look rather interesting!


If I wanted a proper wide-angle, I still have my Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM (on the right, on the LA-EA4, on the Alpha 7S). The Sony Alpha NEX-5 is on the left. Both these setups give the same angle of view.


Here’s a full full-frame family picture. Clockwise from top-left: Minolta Dynax 7, Sony Alpha 900, Sony Alpha 7S with LA-EA4, Sony Alpha 99V.


Same as above, but adding the Sony Alpha NEX-5 with LA-EA1 adapter and Sony VG-C99AM to the Alpha 99V.


You might have noticed a new lens in the first picture. Yup, the most affordable, high-quality Mitakon/ZhongYi Speedmaster 50mm F0.95! They changed name from Mitakon to ZhongYi. Got this on the 15th of August 2014.


It comes in a very classy looking box.


The lens itself is classy, a heavy chunk of metal and glass, with a moderately tight focus ring and a clickless aperture ring, suited for video because it makes no sound. A drawback though is that you may accidentally move away from F0.95 unintentionally!

There is a Pro version coming later, but I was told by the seller that this batch already had the new coating.


Now, a full E-mount family portrait!


On the right is the Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM on the LA-EA4 on the Sony Alpha NEX-5. You can see it’s just as long as the Sony Alpha 7S with the Mitakon/ZhongYi Speedmaster 50mm F0.95.


All my mountable 50mm lenses! Left to right: Seagull 50mm F1.8 for Minolta SR mount; Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original; Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM; Mitakon/ZhongYi Speedmaster 50mm F0.95.


Clockwise from rear left: Sony Alpha 900 with Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original; Sony Alpha 99V with Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM; Minolta X300 with Seagull 50mm F1.8; Sony Alpha 7S with Mitakon/ZhongYi Speedmaster 50mm F0.95. All having the same angle of view!


Yup, this kind of angle of view. F0.95, 1/160s, ISO10000, by the only camera setup from above that can do this.


20th August 2014: Oh, and lastly, my Sony Alpha NEX-5 sensor looks a bit different now. Can you guess why?


It was out of warranty, so I took it apart, and tore off the infrared blocking filter. Yeah, I didn’t do a good job of it…


…nor did I assemble it back correctly. These are the leftover parts! I’m told though that the spacers should be removed to keep infinity focus. The excess screws probably were meant to be at the second stage, after removing the outer shell.


I’ve now doubled my infrared camera count. Above is my infrared-modded manual-focus Fujifilm Digital Q1, with a superglued-on filter thread that allows for SLR lenses to be screwed on by a rear lens cap (with cutout) that has a UV filter superglued on its back – making it a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera way before the Panasonic DMC-G1 debuted. Yes, it could take different mounts, with the right rear lens cap!

The small lens is from a manual-focus webcam; it’s an 8mm F3.5, making for 35mm equivalent on full-frame; thus the crop factor was 4.375x.


So how is the Mitakon/ZhongYi Speedmaster 50mm F0.95 on infrared? It has a visible hotspot on the middle.


Can get rather hazy.


These were all mixed color shots – I didn’t think of bringing a filter that blocks visible light and allows infrared only to pass.


Now, with the Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake.


Again, with flash, and a Hoya R72 infrared filter. I’ve shot Adam of Dragon Red before in infrared on my infrared-modded manual-focus Fujifilm Digital Q1!


Jyo through the Mitakon/ZhongYi Speedmaster 50mm F0.95 through a 77mm infrared filter, handheld (as opposed to screwed-on, as I didn’t have the right step-up ring.)

Camera Geek Throwback

Now, for something different – a geekout post! These are pictures from way back, to sometime April 2014.


So I got myself the Sony Alpha 99V, on the 23rd of October 2012. I also got the Sony VG-C99AM vertical control grip; as you can see it duplicates the joystick and all the buttons needed for portrait shooting. It also is the first vertical grip that isn’t a smokestack design, meaning it is not L-shaped and is easier to stash away in your camera bag.


I also got myself the Sony HVL-F60M (seen on the right). The Sony Alpha 900 is on the left, with the Sony HVL-F58AM on it. You can also see the front of the VG-C99AM, where the lower shutter button is really ergonomic and gives a lower center of gravity when you hold it.

Note that the HVL-F60M is using the new Multi Interface hotshoe. The HVL-F58AM however uses the old Auto-lock iISO Alpha hotshoe. There are a few flashes that come in various mounts:

- HVL-F43AM, HVL-F43M
- HVL-F20AM, HVL-F20M, HVL-F20S

So be sure you know which one you’re getting. AM means Auto-lock iISO, while M means Multi Interface. S is the Smart Accessory Terminal, found on the older NEX series cameras.

The HVL-F60M also comes with a LED video light on the flash head, making it handy for video. It also comes with a free warming filter. The HVL-F43M also has a LED video light, but it’s on the flash body, so it doesn’t rotate with the flash head and cannot be used to bounce against anything, so I didn’t get that. Plus I rarely use flash these days.


Left to right: HVL-56AM, HVL-F43AM, HVL-F58AM, HVL-F60M.


Left to right, the evolution of flash pouches: HVL-F56AM, HVL-F43AM, HVL-F58AM, HVL-F60M.

Note that the HVL-F60M now comes with a diffuser and ADP-AMA hotshoe adapter, that fits in the side pouch. Neat!


Left to right:
- Octopus DM-6 (Sony Auto-lock iISO flash on ISO camera body)
- Sony ADP-MAA (comes with Alpha 99, for Sony Auto-lock iISO flash on Multi Interface or ISO camera bodies)
- Seagull SC-5 (ISO flash to Sony Auto-lock iISO camera body)
- Sony ADP-AMA (comes with HVL-F60M, for Multi Interface or ISO flash to Sony Auto-lock iISO camera body)


Left: Sony A900 with ADP-AMA to ADP-MAA to HVL-F58AM. Right: Sony A99V with ADP-MAA to ADP-AMA to HVL-F60M.

Interestingly, you can stack the ADP-AMA and ADP-MAA either way and the flash’s wireless ratio controller still works. So it can be said that all functionality is transferred.


While the Multi-Interface hotshoe fixes the problem of dirty contacts causing full-power flash firing, it isn’t that well-designed; my HVL-F60M flash foot broke while it was in its pouch. I don’t know why it has that notch. Fortunately it was fixed under warranty for free.


Meanwhile, back to the Alpha 99V; what happens if you put a lens with a shorter flange distance, such as the Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake, in front of it?


As with any other lens moved forward from its normal position for infinity focus, it focuses closer. In this case, it became a super macro.


A while back, I rented my lenses out to Khai, who used them on set for Take Me To Dinner. Awesome noir movie about a bunch of assassins. The soundtrack by David Knight is superb, too – you can download it for free, but I decided to buy it.

Anyway, this is the Sony NEX-FS100P. The lenses you’ll see in the movie are my Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 SSM ZA, Samyang 35mm F1.4 UMC, Opteka 85mm F1.4, and Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus.


The 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus has unique bokeh, like no other lens.


Another shot from that lens. Yes, that’s a Sony Alpha 99V on a remote-controlled helicopter!


The view from above. This was at Studio Zaloon, Pudu Plaza, a hotbed for all things Sony Alpha, thanks to the support of the boss, an affable Mr. Chin.


Meanwhile, another hotbed of photography is The Centre For Asian Photographers, in The School, Jaya One. I am convinced that Szetoo’s drawing of the cat with glasses is her bespectacled husband…


…George Wong, on the left. Here he is, interviewing Ming Thein on the 18th of January 2014.


I also met Raja Indra Putra (RIPI), who brought this Kickstarter-funded Petzval 85mm F2.2 lens.


The week after, I was there again for a good ol’ Sony Alpha TT session. Here’s Szetoo through Michael Chee’s Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens. I knew her from way back on Xfresh, while I met George first at KL Tower for the launch of the Sony Alpha 100.


Left: Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art on the Sony Alpha 99V, right: Sony 35mm F1.4G on another Sony Alpha 99V.


A mint Minolta 200mm F2.8G HS APO with its beautiful white paint intact! I had a paint-chipped copy of this lens in my custody for a while; it was Ted Adnan’s.


Interesting podium in The School.


Now, fast-forward to modern white lenses – the great Sony 500mm F4.0G SSM!


It did not come with on-lens stabilization, but that’s the thing about the Alpha mount – the sensor moves instead. Longer focal lengths means the sensor moves more. Once in a while, after a long time, the sensor stabilization fails, and the camera owner sends it for repair, and gets the broken sensor stabilization unit together with the camera with new sensor stabilization unit inside. This is what it looks like; it normally slides freely and bounces about, but this one was stiff.


And now, for a lens that doesn’t need stabilization – the Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42 circular fisheye on the left, next to a Lomography Fisheye Baby 110.


Left: Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC fisheye for E mount, right: Samyang 8mm F3.5 for A mount. Both cover APS-C format only. Great for the E-mount cameras, of course.


Here’s the Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 35mm F2.0 ZM through an M-mount to E-mount adapter, on my Sony Alpha NEX-5.


Joseph, through the Samyang 24mm F1.4 on my Alpha 900.


The Leica M9 with the Leica Noctilux-M 50mm F0.95 ASPH E60. I tried this lens on the Leica M6 TTL I had in custody for a while.


Now, for a throwback to the 26th of July 2012, for the Sony RX-100 hands-on. This is Zhi Shan through my 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus.


This is through the RX-100 and its amazing Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 10.4-37.1mm F1.8-4.9 lens.


Another shot from the same camera.


Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival 2013 at the Midvalley Exhibition Center.


31st July 2013: My latest A-mount lens purchase, the Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM.


Arlyne, volunteer subject, at F1.4 through the Sony Alpha 99V.


We’d go out to the low-lit park to get test shots, to find her giving directions to Japanese tourists.


Digital stylus versus physical pen and paper.


My A-mount prime lens lineup.

Left to right: Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42 circular fisheye, Vivitar 24mm F2.0 OM-mount, Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM, Samyang 35mm F1.4 ED AS UMC, Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original, Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA.


Left to right then top to bottom: Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42 circular fisheye, Vivitar 24mm F2.0 OM-mount, Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM, Samyang 35mm F1.4 ED AS UMC, Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original, Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA.

There’s more to come, of course; I’ve just bought an awesome lens and camera, but that will come later. This is a savepoint!

Amburgers & Wootbeer


9th August 2014: The A&W Bears & Beer Party, at A&W Petaling Jaya Drive-In.


This is probably their most famous outlet, near the Taman Jaya PUTRA LRT station and Amcorp Mall. Of course, to describe its location as such would be unfair – it’s Amcorp Mall and Taman Jaya PUTRA LRT station that opened near A&W, decades later.


This relic from 1965 is still around, but will be demolished in December 2014 to make way for two office towers, called KUB Tower, according to KUB Malaysia Bhd, who holds the A&W franchise in Malaysia and Thailand.


It survived, when 27 outlets were closed down, mostly in shopping malls. This is one of the two birthday party rooms!


A hidden stairway!


This used to be my playground. An epic A&W Bearland. Unfortunately, I cannot find any pictures of the epic Mighty Maze!


This is what remained of the playground. It was gone at least since 2004 when I visited it.

The company subsequently opened a Bearland playground at the PJ Drive-in outlet in 1990 with activities such as a Magical Maze, The Balance Bridge, The Serpent, Burger Fun Ball game, a merrygo-round and the Devil Tree, as well as a patio area for birthday parties.

The playground, costing RM200,000 and covering 650 square metres, was touted as the biggest A&W outdoor playground in the world.

(From http://www.kub.com/kubnews/news/NST201005311.htm.)


I remember a very tall staircase going up from the entrance of Bearland, to a tall tower, with a giant metal slide, that ended up in the Magical Maze, a maze made of wooden walls, painted dark blue, with stones on the ground. You’d walk around it and hear the stones crunch. The squarish maze was where this little playground set is now.


This sign is probably the only remaining relic. You might notice that the bad English got worse.


The other patio for birthday parties. Also, interesting balcony!

The distortion is from my Sony Alpha 7s with the Sony E 16mm F2.8, with its rear baffle removed so it became a full-frame lens. Well, sort of, with strong vignetting and distortion. I also had to disable automatic APS-C crop mode.


From the inside, looking at the party room entrance.


Hot dogs!


Root beer!


Nuggets and fried chicken! I don’t know why I never discovered how awesome this was. I’d always have coney dogs and waffles.


Party of grown-up kids!


Chak Onn Lau, after lining up for half an hour for waffles, got a number.


Curly fries. The best way to eat this is to dip it in the Root Beer Float’s foam and scoop up a bit of the float. (McDonald’s fries in vanilla sundae greatly pales in comparison.)


I’d discovered that everybody eats their waffles differently. I’ve not even tried their chocolate ice-cream version. I usually went for the waffle with maple syrup and butter, and ordered a Root Beer Float, then scooped the float onto the waffle. This was my mom’s budget pro-tip.


Nabilah bites into her chicken burger!


Finally, coney dogs!


The Commutasaurus cometh!


Left to right: Stephanie Goh, Nadra, Davina Goh.


Davinasaurus is a vegetarian so she has her burger bun with sauce. It’s vegetable sauce! Too bad the waffles had not arrived because waffles should be vegetables too.


I spotted a tint of purple, like a fighting fish!


Filmmaker Benji Lim came as a three-headed snake!


Snake tail.


Then came the highlight – the A&W Root Bear! Here, Davinasaurus is excited to see it.


I could not stop smiling when I saw this. It was hilarious to see that it would walk with a wiggle in the bum automatically, and put its beary paws to its mouth ever so often. Quite like the staff behind it.


Pawshake.


This time, Root Bear knows who it is hugging!


Onesies.


*fistbump*


The Root Bear is Asian, definitely.


Chak’s cool bear shirt and the Root Bear. Note the worn-out nose. Interestingly, not all Root Bears have solid noses – some are made of cloth.


Derrik is tall.


I wonder how the articulation within the costume’s hand is.


Musical chairs!


The Root Bear looks awesome from the side too.


Chak getting chucked out of the game.


Top 3!


We could not stop taking pictures with it.


The winners!


I wonder how the costume wearer knows which way to hug the picture subject, other than by touch, since he/she can’t see beyond its black eyes.


Photobombed by Davinasaurus!


Next game: blow balloons until they explode.


Dino-breath.


What is in the prize pack? Party stuff.

According to Nicholas Chin, there’s a A&W in the Botanical Gardens in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, with its epic big playground still intact, but if this picture I found is any indicator, it is probably long gone. (I hope it’s a different outlet!)


So I wondered if the onesie could completely cover the face…


Organizer Matt.


Now, without the hood.


Grace “Pocahontas” Ng (in the middle) who shares my birthday. The theme for the party was orange, and I was fortunate that the company that I worked for made orange shirts at one time.


A&W Root Beer has since been rebranded RB.

Interestingly, it seems that the A&W franchise was previously held by the PAS state government of Terengganu in 1999 – and the federal government sabotaged them such that ads would not appear on TV and newspapers, relegated to Harakah, PAS’ newspaper. The franchise was then sold in 2001 to KUB. Up to 2012, it was still called Root Beer, maybe because of JAKIM insisting they remove the Beer word when recertifying their halal certificate.

The above paragraph takes claims from Faidzal‘s posts in this thread on Lowyat.net.


The party hat. I remember the Root Bear face masks with holes for the eyes, and elastic bands that would get in your hair!


I spotted Liyana from far away, and pointed her out to Davina, saying, “Hey look it’s Samantha out there!” I meant Liyana, of course, but my brain got confused for a while, from stuffing myself full of Root Beer. She wore this T-shirt for you Davina!


Nabilah shows us how to have a good time.


Bluetooth speakers!


Random throwback to 2013, for Ann Na and Jeremy’s birthday waffle.


And now, for a throwback to 2012, when A&W had a new outlet in Jalan Bukit Bintang, next to the first McDonald’s in Malaysia.


This was the view from the balcony. Nothing more awesome than curly fries dipped in a Root Beer Float with a coney dog. It is now a Starbucks. Interestingly, the first Starbucks in Malaysia was in front of KL Plaza (now Fahrenheit 88), but has since closed down.


27th September 2009, before A&W was there, was a Roxy Quiksilver shop.


This was another outlet that no longer exists, in Kompleks Desa, Kepong. I went here a lot as a kid. It had an awesome double slide.

There was one on Jalan Pudu, opposite Pudu Sentral, that I don’t think I ever went to.


The phenomenon of downgraded playgrounds was not just observed in A&W – all McDonald’s outlets I had been to recently, had downsized their playgrounds. This is McDonald’s Kepong #017. I remember a much grander playground. I also remember a merry-go-round in McDonald’s Section 14 #004. (If you observe McDonald’s receipts, they print their branch codes there, so you can know how old each McDonald’s is. I’ve been collecting these numbers, but I haven’t posted this blog entry.)


Fortunately, the first A&W in Malaysia, on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, was still open. Next to it is a KFC that has since closed down. The first KFC in Malaysia was not this outlet – while the first outlet was opened on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, it moved around a few times along the road – even having four outlets along this road at one time!

My interest in the history of our urban city is also fueled by people who have lived long enough to see development, over at the Rakan KL Facebook group.


This is the inside of the first A&W. Doesn’t look retro at all, and very modern. Can’t say I prefer this!

So you might ask – where were the first 3 A&W outlets? I knew about #1 for a long time, and always thought PJ Drive-In was #2, but I checked with Adeline Chua, who wrote this article, and found out that it was in fact:

1) Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
2) Menara AIA, Jalan Ampang (closed down)
3) PJ Drive-In, Lorong Sultan, Petaling Jaya

Meanwhile, here’s a Facebook Page called Save Iconic A&W.

Double Dotters’ Division


26th July 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Jonathan Khor at The Bee, Publika. Here’s Jonathan!


The other four-stringer, Jie Er!


Rebecca, the metronome that wears glasses.


Linet the rock star.


Audrey taking a shaky break.


Melissa, the vocal powerhouse…


…turned into bokeh. Tonight was one of those rare evenings where I’d bring out the king of bokeh lens, the Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus. Everything is just smoother!


Audrey gets a little candidly funny.

Interestingly, Audrey, Linet and Jonathan were in a band called Juanophobia, who won Battle Of The Bands 2011: Passport To Fame (and first runner up in Library’s Got Talent Or Not.)


A friend of theirs gets called on stage to play a little saxophone.


The usual outsource-sing-along-to-crowd bit, but with Audrey and Melissa this time.


Meanwhile, outside, the August 2014 poster for The Bee’s happenings was out, and a picture I took is there for the 16th of August 2014!


2nd August 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Russell Curtis at The Bee, Publika.


For this gig, I brought a different telephoto lens as well – my first one, in fact – the Minolta 70-210mm F4.0 “beercan”, so named because of its resemblance to a tall beercan. I rarely ever bring zoomable lenses to gigs!


I also used APS-C crop mode to get a further telephoto crop, resulting in a 305mm-full-frame equivalent maximum reach.


This enlarged the sign at the back due to perspective.


Tight crops!


Tight chops!


Extreme close up.


It’s not everywhere you can use a F4.0 lens comfortably.


On stage, after graduating from wizard school.


Much fun!


A birthday, not sung on stage.


Russell came on stage for the second set, and harmonized with Melissa for 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up.


It was awesome. This was Melissa’s expression after that!


Russell also digs into some serious licks.


Singing John Legend – All Of Me.


For some chords you just need a certain position.


He also sang his own originals from his Russell Curtis Project album.


A natural entertainer, working the crowd. I bought his CD and he asked me to write a review, so here is a short one: I am always in for a surprise when I hear a performer that is usually in a stripped-down setting of just guitar and vocals in a live setting, in a CD – a rock band may get vocal overdubs and keyboards I don’t usually hear, or a string section. I’d seen Russell as Curtis Blues Review mostly, many years back, or as him on guitar alone – so I was expecting Texan blues rock and soul as I’d heard from him before, or that one unforgettable gig where he just did only Stevie Wonder covers. Well you get the musicality of Stevie Wonder and Tracy Chapman, a sharp balladeer, in a modern pop production, produced by Aubrey Suwito. There are also dancy tracks like Close To You and Drive Me Crazy. It certainly sounded right for radio, though it wasn’t what I was expecting. The only time I saw Russell Curtis Project, was with an extremely funky keyboardist who took it to a virtuoso jazzy sound (if I remember.) The closest to what I remember would be Music’s Brightest Star, and it includes a little bonus live track at the end that shows his guitar-and-vocal-only prowess.

Then again, I don’t pick up on a lot of nuances that musicians do, especially when they discuss sound, and I consider myself a poor music reviewer.


Melissa took this!


The crew.


The tripod selfie.


Rebecca and Melissa swap glasses.


Everybody wants one with Rebecca’s glasses!


Yuuup.

75% CC + DD


5th July 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Frances Tsen at The Bee, Publika!


Dotters’ Division, being the resident band for The Bee, plays every Saturday 9:30PM, featuring a different guest each night.


Frances Tsen, vocalist for Crinkle Cut, with Melissa Wong, guitarist for Crinkle Cut (and vocalist for Dotters’ Division.) So this is half of Crinkle Cut, really.


They started the second set with just Linet and Melissa singing a ballad.


Jie Er on bass.


Timekeeper Rebecca.


Boss Linet.


Red Power Ranger Melissa.


As with all guests, the setlist changes somewhat, so they did The Jacksons – Blame It On The Boogie.


Meanwhile, out at the entrance…


a picture I took! (It is mirrored so she faces towards the poster, obviously.)


Two weeks later, 19th July 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Ashley Choong at The Bee, Publika!


Audrey on saxophone as almost always…


…with Leroy on keyboard.


That makes Rebecca the only band member I’ve not seen absent and temporarily replaced.


Yes, Ashley’s huge congas block the bass and drums.


She normally plays cajon for Crinkle Cut, sitting down.


Thus the angle is a bit different, as she takes center stage!


She swayed left and right rhythmically, quite like she was adopted by Steve Thornton or something.


The setlist included some Latin song I don’t remember the name of, and Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity, in addition to their regular funky trip across rock and pop music history.


50% of Crinkle Cut, again. Including Frances from the above set it would be 75%.


25% Crinkle Cut, 100% awesome voice.


Meanwhile, Yvonne Chong, also with an awesome voice, deciding what to eat in full swag.


’twas time to get down!


Crowd singalong!


Oh hi Stephanie!


Sing aaa don’t don’t sing!


Boogie!


Gotta love how they work the crowd!


Max discovers the sauce.


Lydia Ong and Kevin.