Lights, Camera, Action!

When it came to Action heroes, one name lay imbedded in my memory as a teen – ARNOLD SWARCHZENEGGER. In the Eighties when ignorance was bliss, I believed that he and all the subsequent action heroes were not ‘acting’ so to speak. With biceps the size of lunchboxes it wasn’t hard to believe then that he could floor five guys with his brute strength alone. His groundbreaking debut, COMMANDO, was simplistic in its plot and concise with dialogue – As a matter of fact, I remember a good half hour of non-stop pulsating gunfire mayhem amidst the rescue of his non-Russian-sounding daughter. After endless rewinding, re-playing, pausing and fast forwarding I was hungry for more…I needed a lot more.

SYLVESTER STALLONE was the immediate antidote I discovered after immersing myself in FIRST BLOOD. The trademark 1 minute-long dress-up sequence in which John Rambo geared up was just an adrenaline booster. I never thought it possible for one man to pack just the right amount of ammo to annihilate an entire platoon. A few bullet wounds and 2 sequels later the thirst returned and I needed it to be quenched pronto.

BRUCE WILLIS didnt have the muscles of Arnie or Stallone but he sure knew how to handle a group of terrorists in DIE HARD. Everything about the plot seemed believe and not too far-fetched. Yes its possible for a cop to go on vacation to see his wife (or ex-wife), Yes its possible for him to arrive at his wife’s fully serviced skyscraper on the exact day the terrorists plan to strike, Yes it is possible for him to hear gunshots just when he’s in the middle of changing clothes,  and yes it is possible for a trigger-happy cop to run around barefoot finding a way to get FBI back up. Bruce Willis seemed like the average cool-headed guy who showed real fear amidst danger unlike the mucho predecessors with faceless expressions. Bruce had the wit to back him up too! 3 catastrophic explosions and 1 sequel later I was ready for a stronger dose.

JACKIE CHAN taught me that one didnt need semi-automatics or AK-47s to ‘blow you away’. Just a lil’ martial art mixed with death-defying stunts and a few funny blunders gave me all the excitement I needed. Hand-to-hand combat never looked so good until I watched POLICE STORY and RUMBLE IN THE BRONX. Everything about he’s fight sequence was real – no stuntman required. If he was trapped btw 2 walls 8ft high then he was going get out with a ‘Prince-of-Persia style’ wall-to-wall leap, just in time to narrowly miss the high-speed van crashing beneath him. Once I found this new taste for martial arts, I slowly weaned myself off the guns and C-4s. It was a new era for dropkicks, roundhouse kicks and clothes-lines.

STEVEN SEAGAL eventually brought an end to all that when he took the fun out of martial arts and made it a split-second ordeal of ultra fast ‘ten-ten’ before breaking his adversary’s arm…backwards. When he decided to get a lil creative he moved on to breaking legs, necks, hands, and then he went into detail when he plucked a few eyes, broke fingers, and ankles. I was more queezy than entertained and I began to ask myself if I was slowly becoming side-tracked. Yes, Seagal was giving me an overdose of whoop-ass but my hands weren’t clapping…they were covering my eyes. Time was against me and I was getting older and older. In a time when WWF was discovered to be a farce I needed a lift, a hit of something strong, but not overkill…cue the dragon!

Or should I say ENTER THE DRAGON. When I first saw BRUCE LEE in action I was mesmerized to say the least. I think it wasnt so much the Kung-fu but the ‘wooh-haw!’ and ‘wataah!’ cries he bellowed through his lightning punches & kicks – He had me glued to the seat and to the screen (and that was responsible for bloodshut eyes & dented sofas). His untimely death is an infinite blow to the action movie industry and till this day he remains an icon.

In my opinion, these are some of the founders who’ve paved the way for the new generation of action movies…and ultimately transformed me into an Action Junkie.

My Top 10 Action Movies

1.  Die Hard
2.  The Matrix
3.  Game of Death
4.  True Lies
5.  T2
6.  House of Flying Daggers
7.  Casino Royale
8.  Kill Bill
9.  Rush hour
10.John Rambo
My Top 5 Action Heroes

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
2. Jackie Chan
3. Bruce Lee
4. Sylvester Stallone
5. Bruce Willis

My Dream Face-Offs

1.  Arnie vs Stallone – Punch up
2.  Bruce Lee vs Jackie Chan – Martial Arts
3.  Keanu Reeves (Matrix) vs Christian Bale (Equilibrium) – Gunfight…in ‘slo-mo’
4.  Uma Thurman vs Michelle Yeoh – Ninja Swordfight
5. Angelina Jolie vs Sigourney Weaver – Chickfight
6. Bruce Willis vs Chris Tucker – Witfight
7. ALIEN vs Predator (IV) – SCI-FIght (lol)
Accolades

*Quick to the rescue – 007
*Relentless to the finish – Rambo
*No-funny business – Arnie
*A woman scorned – Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)

Entry #1 – A small victory

Earlier this evening I faced my phobia (yet again) and managed to keep my cool. I killed a cockroach. Sounds trivial, I know. But if you had a phobia for one of those things you’d call me hero. I wasn’t brave enough though to smack it dead with my slippers so I pulled out a can of Insectide (it’s always kept in my bedroom and replaced judiciously). What’s the point of cockroaches anyway? God put them here for a reason but I’m guessing does it go beyond forming part of the food chain…I dunno…for rats? The ones that fly are the real devils. Once some weeks back I had one fly past my my ear. Boy, did that cockroach get it!

I sure miss London – I never came across one roach or housefly. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing an  ant…all in the last 10years I spent there! Nigeria may have the best climate but boy, the insects appreciate it too. Before I go to bed I usually spray the room 2hrs prior for mosquitoes – those wretched blood sucking, harmonica-sounding, malaria-transmitting, skin irritants!

These days I wake up with a mosquito bite or two so I’m wondering just how effective my insecticide is…hmmm. Malarira is the least of my worries. The symptoms prompt you to take the necessary pills or injections whichever you prefer.

My place is long overdue for a full fumigation session – I guess I’ll add that to my To do list.

Life on planet HTRAE

Take a step into an alternate world where absolutely anything is possible. There are no limits whatsoever. Mistakes can be corrected. Dead people can be brought to life (please note this point). You can fast-forward from the period of record vinyls to the arrival of MP3s. No point making VHS when you can enjoy DVDs. You can go one step beyond choosing the sex of your unborn child – you can see exactly what he/she would look like…at age 30.

There’s no need to go through two, three or more dead-end jobs after university. You graduate and immediately start earning in your dream job. Dating more than one person is a waste of time when you can wait for the precise moment when you will bump into your perfect partner e.g. 13th April 2009, Wednesday at 3.26pm…on Facebook! Physical attributes will not limit you in any way. You can have the spring in those legs to get you slamdunking your way to the NBAs. You can get the perfect cleavage to nail that job interview (with a male/lesbian boss), to get that wealthy business tycoon or to just boost your self-esteem. You can get the dream physique to get you into the modeling industry too. You don’t hear insecure men going  ‘Size doesn’t matter, it’s the motion in the ocean’. They are all well-endowed naturally, give or take the exaggerated inch ; )

Weight-gain is a thing of the past since all the foods on this planet are engineered to help you maintain your fit healthy body. Goodbye ugly fat people, Hello cast of Beverly Hills 90210! Balding men do not exist here. They can sport their hair any which curl, dread, lock, fringe, mohican, ace-ventura way they like! Gymnasiums go out of business because you can WILL yourself into those desired biceps, triceps, pectorals and abs. It gets better – You and your partner can agree on the exact time you both want to climax together…and you can set it by the milli-second…every single time.

Speaking of time, just wait a damn second! I told you at the very beginning to ‘take a step’. You’ve probably already packed your bags from EARTH and you’re getting ready to set off on a one-way rocket trip to HT-RAE. Don’t you want to know what living there would be like? I can tell you it’s not all you hoped for. Behind this seemingly perfect world there are consequences which you’d have to deal with.

If everyone had the same idea of a perfect athletic build then everyone would be 1st place in the Mens 100m at the Beijing Olympics. Usain Bolt and the other 7 competitors would break & set new world records…together, every four years. There will be no silver or bronze medals to give out because everyone would get a gold one. If all the women at an interview employed the same cleavage tactic then the male/lesbian boss would have a hard time making a selection. If everyone could look like or act as well as the big Hollywood stars then there wouldn’t be a point for giving out Oscars.

If dating was only reserved till the moment you would meet your destined partner then you would live an inexperienced love life. Yes you can make all the mistakes and correct them when you meet ‘the one’ but why go through all that hassle? If we were enjoying the latest-est-est-est technology NOW then there would be nothing better to look forward to. Transition can be a slow process but its fun when you can look back at where you started. But this planet would also be extremely competitive. You wouldn’t be able to stand out in virtually anything. How can you be the best at something when everyone else doing ‘that thing’ is just as good? Think about it. Do you still want to go to planet HT-RAE now?

If I’ve succeeded in convincing you otherwise then you have made the right decision. Life on EARTH is tough but that’s why you should see it as a challenge. Live the experience. Try again if you don’t succeed the first time. Believe in yourself and pray, pray and then pray some more.

At this point I want you to know that HT-RAE is not just my imagination. It exists and I’m going back there…only, you’re not invited because it’s getting pretty crowded up in here – with all the dead people being brought back to life and all, lol. See you when I get back!

N.B – Ticket availability (1 left)

..xTx..

Lost In Translation

The English language is not as complicated as some of us think it is – of course HUMANS make it complicated just like everything else; relationships, gender, sexuality, etc. But getting your point across (in English) to an English speaker couldn’t be that difficult, could it?

I remember once when I was travelling on London’s underground I encountered a loud-mouth sitting opposite me. She was screaming down her mobile phone whilst the train was still overground. She was trying to get an alpha-numeric code (excuse me, letters and numbers) across to the recipient but she may as well have been a Scottish stammerer stuttering through a mouthful of hot potatoes…

‘…t! t! I said T not D…T! T! T! Can you hear me? I said T o! I DIDN’T SAY D…No! we are not saying the same thing! T for Tayo…Eh heh…yes…Wait o, did you say Dayo?…NOT D! T-T-T- HELLO…HELLO?…’ – She lost reception just as I was beginning to lose my mind.

Anyway I’m sure most of us who’ve booked airline/railway tickets are not bemused by the coded lingo the sales reps smack unto our eardrums i.e. R for Romeo, G for Golf, T for Tango, S for Sugar, F for Freddie, etc. You could save yourself a whole lot of saliva if you tried. After all, isn’t the important thing to be heard and understood?

The Internet has captured the shorthand generation of SMS pundits who now marade chatrooms with their lol, lmao, rotf, rotflmao, brb, gtg, ttyl, wtf, tgif, l8r, gn8 and the ‘not so popular’ myob. These codes have transpired into everyday use and MUST be understood by all.

I only have one instance in my life where the English Language did not prove useful – my JSCE…in Yoruba. I still remember the way my paper remained blank whilst I stared at the Essay question which said something about writing on my first day at secondary school (I think). I looked to my left and I looked to my right but no one was ready to let me sneak a peak. I did the only thing I could think of at that point…do a written plea (in English) and hope that the examiner would be sympathetic enough to let me sail through. It was way back in 1993 when I was 13 but it went a lil something like this…

‘Dear Sir,

I am from Rivers State and I speak Ijaw. You can even look at my name. I do not understand Yoruba at all and the teachers always taught us in Yoruba and I did not understand what they were saying. Please I am begging you to please take pity on me and let me pass this exam. I would be so grateful and I am sure you have a kind heart. Thank you so much. God bless.’

I still laugh about the whole thing and even now in Lagos I’m speaking Yoruba at a very basic conversational level. Even when I struggle to speak some people choose not to hear – I’ve been referred to as Tanwa and Tomiwa and I deliberately chose not to respond. If you were born ‘Kehinde’ and you allow people in Jand to refer to you as ‘Kenny’ then dont complain!

In conclusion, the English Language is still evolving and a good grasp of it could make all the difference in nailing that job interview, courting your future partner, getting picked to be the Best Man, receiving a standing ovation for a speech, and not to mention, writing a damn good persuasive letter…which reminds me – I almost forgot to state my Yoruba JSCE result…

 

I got an F9.

 

…yes, you guessed it! I failed.

 

..xTx..

My addiction

I was only 17. Finished high school and got my mind set for the next phase – A Levels.Wanted my parents to spend less so I vowed to do a 9-month intensive study programme at home. A 2-year programme abroad would have been the wiser option. Would have been less stressful, better paced and more likely to yield outstanding results. But why spend N2m when you could spend N250,000?

Others before me had done it. Some with straight A’s and some with B’s. We’ve all got brains, I thought. If I equally studied just as hard then I could pull it off. I was going to dedicate myself 25 hrs a day, 8 days a week, I thought. I chose Economics, Business Studies and English Literature. Nothing and no one was going to distract me. My entry into a UK university was within my reach. It was that or risk spending 6years amidst strikes doing a 3year-course in Lag.

3months into the course I realize that I’m achieving only 6hrs of private study aside from lectures and lunch breaks. Some of my peers were doing 10-12 hrs and were topping the class. I got the result of my Mock exam and my heart sunk: nothing but D’s – not usually enough to make the cut. I knew what I had to do. I needed to know the secret behind keeping up late and becoming a human hardrive of study notes.

Thats when my Economics tutor introduced me to an uncontrolled substance, readily available in most supermarkets and very affordable. In my case it was already a household drug…right there under my nose the whole time. I took a small dose, and managed to stay up for longer, retain information better…i didnt have to wedge matchsticks between my eyelids anymore. I had the edge.

I was getting better with my exam writing techniques, I was analysing questions of Cambridge standard, I was getting commendations from my tutors for my rapid improvement. My family were 101% behind me and the big exam was bearly 2 months away. God and my drug would get me through this, I thought.

And then it happened. Just when I least suspected. It wasn’t a hault in the production of my drug, nor was it a depletion of the supply I kept at home. I was struck with Typhoid. I lost 5kg and along with it all my apetite, my concentration and willpower to complete my sworn task. I had no energy and for 1 month I had undergone intensive treatment. I kicked myself for ignoring my immune system. I let my guard down and my white blood cells were facing the music. It took 1 month to get back on my feet.

With only 1 month left to revise I resumed my drug intake.I stepped it up to a more concentrated level and also doubled my intake. I became a shaky leaf and I had extreme highs and suicidal lows. I was a walking zombie.  No longer eye candy but an eye sore for the girls in class. My secret was out. I was desperate and I got hooked. After the exam I would never touch this substance again. I wanted my life back.

God was probably teaching me a lesson. I passed with the exact minimum no. of points to gain entry into the Business School of my choice. I walked tall with my head held up high once I arrived at Heathrow airport. As I walked through the duty free section, past Starbucks, I got a hint of the aroma that haunted me for 9 months. My heartbeat accelerated at the prospect of just getting a quick fix. I reminisced about those long nights when I’d sneak to the kitchen cabinet, set up my chemistry lab and begin to experiment with the brown crumbly substance…How the sound of the of the kettle boiling got me excited…How the feel of a teaspoon made me weak in the knees…How that first sip was no different from the warmth of a woman you couldn’t get enough of.

I reminisced long and hard until I saw a little boy smile at me as he sipped on an ice-cold Frappucino. You’re starting pretty early, I thought. Just you wait till you’re 17 and you’ll be sorry, I thought. My hands started shaking. I dipped into my pockets and felt some loose pound coins. I struggled to make a stand, to abstain and conquer my addiction. I took a deep breath and took a bold step forward…or was it back…I can’t remember…

But what I do remember is that it was the first 3pounds I’d ever spent…and I enjoyed every f***ing penny of it.

F.E.A.R (contd.)

…Maybe it was the Bad cop’s AC that was malfunctioning or the prospect of having to (effectively) sign my life away. But whatever it was, that heat was hotter than N1000 Suya consumed at 12noon inside a jam-packed Moluwe…in stand-still traffic.

Where’s a lawyer when you need one? I had practised all damn night for this interview and even went online to study common interview questions. I was now in a 1-2-1 situation with a guy who invariably wanted to do a 1-8-7 on my 4-1-9, lying ass. There was no way I was going to commit to bringing N200m during my 6 month-probation! Even armed robbers were not making that kind of salary, were they?

In those last few seconds, as I stared at the contract and the BIC biro lying next to the dotted lines, I imagined what my life would be like on a daily basis – it sure beat any scary movie I’VE ever seen! You wake up in the morning…stressed. Drive to work…stressed. Sit at your desk…mega-stressed because you sure aint going to get N200m just by staring at your laptop. You shudder at the mere sight of your boss because you know what’s coming next: ‘T’! How much have you brought??? – Thats how your boss responds each time you say ‘Good morning’, ‘Good afternoon’, ‘Good evening’ or just when he sees you in the office and not outside begging marketing. I snapped out of my daydream. This is not how my life would end, I thought. What would the conman in Thomas Crown Affair do? I had to think and think sharpish. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks (EUREKA!)

Me: Wait, I still have another interview with your Regional Director so maybe after…
BC: It doesn’t matter. Just sign.
Me: But what if… he gives me a higher target? (giving my ‘I told you so’ facial expression)
BC (Ponders) Ok, when you finish come back and see me.
Me: Phew! (I think I’m going to be sick…)

I went across to the RD’s office and to my surprise the interview, just like the AC, was pretty cool. He didn’t mention anything about ridiculous financial targets or death warrants commitment agreements. We had a nice chat about the responsibilities in the new role and how I was expected to drive my end of the business – consumer products of the electronic variety. At the end of the interview I timidly asked if I had to see anyone else (knowing full well that Bad cop said I should see him when I’m done).

RD: No, our HR will get in touch with you soon.
Me: (In my mind, yaaay!) Thank you.

Now it was time for the hard part – my getaway. You see, there was only one staircase that led downstairs but it was right by the Bad cop’s office. The office had large windows so I knew he would see me if I tried to bypass him. I wish I could say that I summoned about 20 other guys who dressed like me and had agreed for us to all wear bowler hats to confuse Bad cop (Thomas Crown Affair) but sadly, I’m not that well connected. Instead, I waited in a corner and took a deep breath…then I walked past…head down, really fast.

BC: (Door opens) Wait! …Hey-ssssssss! …wait! ….Oga! Abeg, help me call that man…Wait! …ssssssss!!!

As I exited the building with supposedly deaf ears I looked across to my dad’s driver who was parked near the bank’s gate. As I began to jog to the car I prompted him to start the engine (just in case Bad cop was making his way behind me). The driver must have been thinking 1 of 2 things when I jumped in shouting, ‘GO-GO-GO-GO!’ – Either I had come to the wrong bank and was late for my interview elsewhere OR I had just stolen millions (ahead of my intended target). We fled the scene and like Sodom & Gomorrah I didn’t dare look back.

About 2 weeks later I received a letter from that bank. I opened it, prayerfully, hoping it wasn’t one of those ‘Unfortunately…’ letters. I breezed through the first paragraph which was purely introductory. By the time I skipped to the second paragraph and read just 4 words, ‘We are happy to…’ I went ballistic. I vaguely remember popping open a bottle of wine after going through my remuneration package and jubilating with my family. Everything conveyed in my offer letter was more than satisfactory. I still did about 3 detailed searches on the letter for any dotted lines linked to the dreaded ‘commitment agreements’ until I was absolutely certain that there was no hidden catch.

Consequently I accepted the offer. I was to resume in March 2007, allowing me enough time to get myself together with regards freighting my stuff, evading gym and internet subscription payments, applying for last minute UK loans, a last glance at the Red Light District, etc. I was looking forward to grabbing this unique job opportunity by the neck and asking it ‘Who’s your daddy, b**ch?’ I had faced my fear and God rewarded me with my F.E.A.R.
…In 2009, however, I have come to terms with a new fear…

 

F.E.A.R.S – Finding Eligible And Religious Spouse

The saga continues… 

..xTx…

F.E.A.R

Of all the fears in the world there’s only one I dreaded the most. It was not bankruptcy, failure, death, a terrorist attack or even the future invasion of flying cockroaches. The only thing I really feared when I left London and arrived in Lagos (Dec, 2006) was my F.E.A.R (First Employment After Return).

On boarding the Emirate flight from Heathrow I experienced worrisome levels of anxiety. I was fidgeting and twitching like a drug addict looking for his last Ecstasy pill – I was a nervous wreck. As I fastened my seatbelt I only watched the air steward’s safety demo so that I could pinpoint the location of the nearest emergency exit…and make a desperate run for it.

It was a long shot, I thought: Quitting my banking job, abandoning my friends, clubs, bars, restaurants, gym, constant electricity supply, and all for what? A chance to settle down in my motherland and make my own little impact, that’s what. I guess the initial panic I encountered stemmed from the subconscious comparisons I was making – McDonald’s…Mr. Biggs, Quaker’s Oat-So-Simple…Golden Morn, Oxford Street…Shoprite, London Energy…Bi-monthly electricity supply, British Gas…Half-empty Gas cylinder, Starbucks…Nescafe + Three Crowns milk, HMV…Street Hawkers, …etc. Some passengers around me were praying so I prayed too. Sadly my prayer wasn’t answered – the plane still took off.

‘There goes my emergency escape plan’, I thought. I sat back and meditated during the long flight, trying to reassure myself that everything would work out for the best. Once I landed it seemed peculiar that I initially boarded alone but on getting off there was 3 of us: The Optimist, Me and the Pessimist. It was a struggle, bumping into each other amidst the luggage. But soon after checking out of Murtala Muhammed Airport I felt really positive with my return. The Optimist and I got into a car-hire and drove to the family home (I had earlier handed over the Pessimist to Immigrations…no bribe required).

Back at home, my dad had arranged a couple of meetings through some of his clients in the banking world. He had handed the baton over to me and the rest of the race was mine to win. Damn those bank interviews! One of them was actually an Endurance test – at least that was all I stuck around for. After an exhausting bench-warming marathon, despite being told to come for interview at 10am, I got up and just walked out. I gained nothing. Instead I lost 3 strands of scalp hair, 5hrs of Nintendo gaming time, and both my ego and my ‘yansh’ were deflated. That bank called 1.10pm to tell me that ‘the panel’ was ready to see me. I remember hissing though it wasn’t meant out loud.

The other bank I went to for interview gave me a more interesting experience. It was the ol’ Good cop-Bad cop routine (with a Naija twist of course). I walked into the good cop’s office, suited and booted, only to be asked 2 questions: ‘What do you have to offer?’ (Pretty normal question) and ‘Why on earth would you want to come back and work in Nigeria?’ (Wetin consign you sef!). Notwithstanding, I answered. He scribbled. I gave him my best smile. He gave me a squinted look then he scribbled some more. Note to self – No more Eddie Murphy smiles.

The Bad cop held true to the title. He made me wait 30mins in his (Prison cell-sized) office. Well if your office was half the size of the Good cop’s then you’d be mean too. Anyway, being mean is still better. This guy was brutal:

BC: What is your CABAL size?
Me: I beg your pardon sir?
BC: Ah-ah! Your CABAL in your last banking job?
Me: Sorry sir but could you please explain what you mean by ‘CABAL’?
BC: Ah-ah!?…(looks at my cv) Oh ok, you worked in LONDON, I see. So, what was the volume on the accounts you managed? Give me the naira equivalent.
Me: I don’t have the exact figure…but it was a lot.
BC: How won’t you know? You should know! It is your responsibility!
Me: Okaaay…?!@#
BC: So how much are you committing to bring to this bank?
Me: ‘Committing’ sir?
BC: Eh-now…give me a figure.
Me: (2-minute silence) what figure is reasonable sir?
BC: (Laughs) you should be the one to tell me. What level are you applying for?
Me: SBO (Senior Banking Officer)
BC: So you should be able to do at least N200m…that’s even too small, but you just arrived, abi?
Me: (Gulp followed by adjusting my neck-tie for air supply) Y…….es.
BC: So how are you going to achieve this N200m target?
Me: Er…I…have…connections…
BC: eEEehn! Like who? (Gets out his pen and opens his diary/notepad)
Me: I have like 5 top clients, Nigerians, whom are planning to move their accounts to Nigeria (bullshit). They have thousands of pounds (more bullshit). They also know contacts that I can speak to in order to get more funds for the bank (…bullshit overload).
BC: Mm-hmm. (Scribbles) So you should be able to bring N100m within 3months, eh?
Me: I…should be able…to do that, sir.
BC: Whats the problem? Are you okay?
Me: Nothing…Is it hot in here?
BC: No. You’re just not used to Nigerian heat yet. Sign here…
Me: Er…Sign what?
BC: Your commitment agreement.
Me: (In my mind, ‘F**********K!!!’)

To be continued…

..xTx..