The Pursuit of Happiness

happiness

The United States Declaration of Independence has an oft quoted line – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It’s misunderstood by a lot of people. Your happiness is not guaranteed…the sentence is supposed to give you the basic unalienable human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (emphasis mine).

What is happiness? Well, it depends on the individual but it is your right to seek your own happiness. To me, happiness is a state of mind where you’re content with everything in your life.

flying

Happiness is something money cannot buy. A lot of people are unhappy about their financial situation but I believe that’s an unnecessary worry. The Chinese has a proverb that goes “Money is something that you can always earn back when you lose it”. There’s another phrase that goes “There will be water if God wills it” but that comes from the less reputable and more modern Dark Tower series of books by Stephen King. ;)

roman bath

Happiness is a state of mind that I always try to strive for. I’m happy when I’m doing the things I like such as travelling. It enriches me and makes me a more understanding and better person when I meet new people and learn about new cultures. I’m even happier when I’m spending quality time with loved ones – friends, family, my girlfriend.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget about the simple things in life that lifts your mood:

  • Finding a parking space as soon as you enter a full car park
  • The smell of freshly cut grass
  • Laughing at corny jokes
  • Having a baby smile at you
  • A fellow commuter stopping to let you drive out of a particularly busy exit
  • Waking up and realizing it’s the weekend so you can sleep in
  • Watching a sweet TVC that makes you smile

These are all little things which makes yout day just that little bit brighter. It has a cumulative effect and happiness is highly contagious – it’s like laughter. It’s meant to be shared. :)

I watched the Cadbury TVC and repeated it twice coz it was just so sweet. I found it adorable – the simple sweet joy (pun not intended) that permeates the entire commercial. It has all the elements done right – the humor, the camaraderie of neighborhood love, and a dash of romance.

resort

I took it upon myself to make a video similar to that. I was in Miri, Sarawak at that time to help my girlfriend move her stuff to KL. We spent a weekend in the Marriott Resort and Spa in Miri. It’s located right on the beach by the South China Sea and we booked a chalet facing the pool and sea.

You just need to open the sliding glass door to get out. There’s a balcony which is less than 10 meters from the pool – it’s almost like having a pool right at your doorstep!

view

I thought up the idea of having a series of unfortunate events much like the original TVC. The entire video was shot over a period of 2 days. I didn’t have a professional videographer so I had to think of how to get the scenes right.

I also wanted a “happy” vibe so everything is shot in daylight – it’s bright and sunny with no indoor scenes except the initial phone call. I’ll go through the more interesting bits to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the video. :)

The splash

tripod

The first mishap you see (the one where I exit the house just to get splashed by a wayward neighbor’s dirty mop water) is done using a tripod. The one holding the bucket is…*drumroll*…Jeanie herself. The bucket was too heavy for her and we had to do two takes. I ended up changing coz the first splash totally failed – she went into the scene, propelled by the momentum and weight of the bucket of water.

We filled it with less water in the second take. I didn’t want to use up the rapidly dwindling backpack of attire I brought along. :x

The car not being able to start

You’ll see the same car in the next scene so I did an extreme close up so you won’t see the make, model or color of the car. :)

The accident scene

car

This one wasn’t too hard to do. It only required the two of us to pull it off. I filmed Jeanie driving towards me. I told her to put her foot on the gas and not worry about hitting me.

After that part was filmed, I passed the camera to her and she filmed me being caught like a deer in the headlights as the car (apparently) came barreling down on me.

The next scene was me twitching on the car bonnet after being “hit”. It took some video transitions to make it look comically realistic (without actually hitting me with the car).

It was originally longer but I thought the bit where I ended up wandering about dazed after being hit was a little too much so I cut it from the editing board. You can watch the full original scene here:

I spent a lot of time editing the videos – it’s a good learning process but it took me the better part of 3 days of almost continuous tweaking to get the timing and synchronization right. I’m a newbie in video production, thus the learning curve.

The sea

beach

This is one of the scenes that I took out of the video as I thought it won’t contribute much to it. The beach walk also had to be sped up 4x so it won’t drag on.

The underwater scene

underwater

This is a bit of a retrofit. It was meant to be all fluff – a cool video taken underwater. I have a waterproof digicam and I figured it would be nifty to take a video underwater. I knew it won’t make much sense since I appear with my shirt on in the next scene…until I saw someone being escorted out by security.

pool

The Marriott has a strict policy – only guests are allowed to use the resort facilities and The Proverbial Light Bulb (TM) came on. It shall be the scene where I evade the guards! smirk

I put that in the caption (used the Confucius angle), and the rest, as they say, is history.

The end scene

people

After all those trials and tribulations, we finally shot the last scene beside the pool. There’s this comfy sofa and we enlisted the help of a kind lady from France who was more than obliged to help us film this scene. The inter-cuts you see at the end is filmed by us – I did her and she did me.

The chocolate

cadbury old

I swear this was the hardest part of the video – we went to several different shops in Miri but none of them had Cadbury Dairy Milk. They have others – the ones with nuts, Old Gold, and others…but not the original. It took us 2 hours before we stumbled upon a shop that sells it. I bought 5 x 75 gram bars.

cadbury new

I then realized that it was the old packaging when I chanced upon a shop with the new packaging. I bought more of it and re-shot some of the scenes again. I have a lot of chocolate now but I love Cadbury Dairy Milk so it’s all good. :D

cadbury dairy milk

We actually did share it – there were a couple of kids running around in the resort and I passed them several bars. I thought their parents would balk – candy from strangers and all that, but they thanked us for it and one even bought us drinks from the poolside bar.

poolside

The kids loved it. One of them came up to me and she showed me her toy – a launcher she was playing with beside the pool that launches a baby dinosaur up into the air by pumping air into the tube. That was the highlight of doing the video – sharing the Cadbury chocolate and seeing the little ones enjoying it by the pool during their holiday. :)

Here’s my masterpiece:

What do you think?

Do you need a dose of happiness? Join the Cadbury Facebook page and get some! :)

Cadbury Buttons minis muffin mix

cadbury buttons muffin mix store

This is Cadbury’s Buttons minis muffin mix – it’s a box that
contains premixed muffins and I liked the chocolate buttons on this
one, so I got a pack of it to do some baking at home. It’s a tradition
of sorts to cook something together with my gf when I come back for
long periods of time.

cadbury buttons minis muffin mix

The Cadbury Buttons mini muffin mix opens up to reveal a large
packet of the chocolate muffin mix, a small bag of Cadbury’s Buttons
minis, and 12 muffin paper holders. I love these self contained muffin
premixes, it has everything you need inside. Just add water. ;)

cadbury buttons minis muffin mix instructions

Well, it’s not as straightforward as that, but it’s not exactly
rocket science either. The back of the box details the steps for making
the muffins (just 5 steps!) and the stuff you need to complete the
recipe, as it were. The instructions require 1 medium sized egg, 45 ml
of milk and vegetable oil (optional). That’s all easily found in the
kitchen…just combine that with the package ingredients and we have
ourselves some chocolate muffins! :)

cadbury choc muffin

This is the prepackaged chocolate muffin mix…it’s the ready-mix-just-add-water type of powder.

cadbury small mini buttons

There’s also a bag of Cadbury Buttons, which I took the liberty of partaking before the actual muffin making process…

cadbury muffin papers

They even thought of including 12 paper muffin holders inside! Nice…

cadbury buttons muffin mix

The first thing we did was to empty the big bag containing the chocolate muffin mix into a bowl…

cadbury buttons muffin mix egg

…and an egg was cracked on top of the chocolate muffin premix after that.

cadbury buttons muffin mix egg milk

I couldn’t find any full cream milk, so I got a small packet of UHT
Low Fat milk and poured about 1/5 (estimated) into the entire mix.

cadbury buttons muffin premix

This is the goo a.k.a. muffin mix that resulted from all the effort exercised above.

cadbury buttons muffin mixer

The bowl was put in the mixer on the highest speed setting for about a minute or so, until the consistency looks about right.

cadbury buttons muffin mixed

Here’s what the Cadbury Buttons minis muffin mix looks like after
the electric mixer treatment – it’s starting to look like proper muffin
mix, nice and thick with a semi-fluid consistency.

cadbury buttons muffin mix buttons

Half of the Cadbury Buttons were emptied into the muffin mix, as per the instructions on the box…

cadbury buttons muffin mix folded

…and a spoon was used to fold the chocolate buttons into the muffin mix.

cadbury buttons muffin mix fill

The paper muffin receptacles were arranged and the final muffin mix
was spooned into them. The first few were filled sparingly, coz I
thought the muffin mix will expand, but then I realized that there’s
too much muffin mix to spare and started filling the rest with more of
the mix.

cadbury buttons muffins filled

The muffins were arranged on a baking tray and the oven was
preheated to 160 degrees Celsius. We forgot to do that earlier, but no
worries, we needed to put the remaining half of the Cadbury’s Buttons
on top of the muffins anyway…

cadbury buttons muffins to bake

…and so we did. You’ll see that there’s only 11 muffins here…I
thought one of the paper muffin cups were missing, but we found it in
the box…after the muffins were done. Oh well. :)

cadbury buttons muffins close up

Anyway, this is what the chocolate muffins look like before it went into the oven.

cadbury buttons muffins in oven

The muffins were sent to their purgatory with the timer set for 15 minutes…

cadbury buttons muffins baking

…and you can see the muffins start to rise after a couple of minutes.

cadbury buttons muffins baked

Finally, I present to you – the baked Cadbury Buttons minis muffins!

cadbury buttons muffins

The muffins tastes great straight out of the oven – it was hot and
chocolaty, with the buttons providing texture to the muffins. It’s
great with a glass of cold milk. :)

Cadbury's ChocShots

cadbury chocshots

Remember the Choki Choki tubes of chocolates we had as kids? It’s
all grown up now, and wants to be referred to as ChocShots. “Choki
Choki, have some please, Choki Choki for all your kids” this is not.
This is Choc Shots by Cadbury.

smug chocshots

Just look at the naughty look on his face as he fists himself to an
ecstatic finish. Puberty is a hard time (no pun intended) for
confectionary too, you know.

chocshots

Choc Shots retails for RM 1 for five of these brown phallic tubes.

chocshot action

Here’s how it works for people who haven’t eaten an equivalent
candy. Basically, you squeeze it and well…stuff comes out. And you
eat that stuff.

chocshots picit

There is something very wrong with the printed instructions at the backs. It says:

Picit ke dalam mulut.
Pencet dan masukkan kedalam mulut.

which translates to:

Squirt into mouth.
Squeeze and put it into your mouth.

That comes with a face wearing a shit eating grin as he takes the
ejaculatory substance of something from a tube. Oh, the corruption of
the fragile little minds out there…

face chocshot

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…but look at the messy load he shot on my papers! I feel violated…

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