Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

At the moment, I am still trying to figure out what I'm going to write in this entry. 2009 was an ordinary year for me, just like the previous years. I went through it like I always did (in a daze). I did not expect anything amazing or fantastic to happen in 2009 and true enough, nothing did. People say that life is what you make it and I made 2009 the way I wanted it to be. I'm not saying that we can always be in control of our life (certain things can happen unexpectedly, of course) but we can always steer ourselves in the direction that we want it to be. As usual, I don't have any resolutions for 2010. This doesn't mean that I am afraid to commit myself to any task that might bind me (or make me feel guilty if it's not fulfilled). I am simply a person who doesn't believe in New Year resolutions (I might change my mind tomorrow, you never know). I believe I can make any resolutions anytime I want to and I don't necessarily have to start on January 1. Instead of looking back at my successes and failures on a yearly basis, I'd rather evaluate myself regularly. After all, I am still bound to make mistakes (which happen a lot) or even pick up new bad habits (which happen even more) as the year progresses. Ongoing personal evaluation also allows me to forgive myself (even if others don't) in case I fail to do or achieve something. Well, everyone has his or her personal style and this is mine. As long as we are able to better ourselves from time to time, nobody can say what is right and what is wrong to and for us. Here's to a better 2010 and let's put our best foot forward. Happy 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 ROUND-UP

Any great achievements for me? NO. Any extraordinary happenings? NO. Any exciting changes in my lifestyle? Definitely NO. Everything came and went like the previous years. Am I happy? YES. To some, it can be quite strange how a person can be happy and content when not much has happened to him or her. Yeah but that's me. I'm comfortably cocooned in my life at the moment that I don't think I want anything changed (unless it's for the better). At least, not yet. I'm sure that something is bound to happen sooner and later and I'll be shocked out of my pants when that happens. Till then, I'm going to enjoy the routine that I've created for the past couple of years and if there are going to be any changes, I hope they will be gradual. Some of my friends have commented on my laid-back attitude and I can only agree with them. After all, what is there to argue when everything that they say is true? Still, it doesn't mean that I don't work hard or put in any effort at all. I do but I don't think I'll be increasing the quota for my effort any time soon. Even then, I would say that what I've done is definitely much more than that done by some of my colleagues and friends. So how about that?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

MOM AND POP STORES VERSUS SUPERSTORES

Call me old-fashioned but I'm getting sick of seeing all these superstores cropping up everywhere nowadays. Most of the time, the service is bad, the staff unknowledgeable, the items overpriced and lack quality et cetera et cetera et cetera. The idea of getting everything that you need under one roof used to be a very attractive concept to me but I'm afraid it is no longer so. Sure, everything is much more systematic, the surrounding is more convenient and comfortable, the variety is endless and there are places for the kids and hungry stomachs but it is almost next to impossible for us to get sensible advice and good suggestions from the staff. Mom and pop stores have always been the staple of any small neighbourhood or town. Most of the time you know the owners personally and they know that if their service or merchandise is bad, words will definitely get around. The neighbourhood stores usually become a part of your life once you know how to spend money. As schoolkids, you go there to get your soda or ice-cream (sometimes cigarettes if you have learned to smoke). Your mother sends you there to get something that she needs. You can ask the owner(s) which item is good value for money if you are on a tight budget. You can even knock on the door before opening time and after closing time as long as this doesn't become a habit. In fact, you can get a very personalised service from them without paying extra for it. It is sad to see that more and more of these stores are closing. They simply cannot compete with the superstores in terms of attraction, convenience and choice. Not much can be done to save these mom and pop stores anymore. Most of them have become a part of history and those which are still in existence are barely surviving. I am all for development but seeing familiar and friendly places going out of business or being torn down is absolutely heartbreaking...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

REVISITING SADE

I listened to 'Smooth Operator' and 'Your Love Is King' to death after I finished high school, grooved to 'The Sweetest Taboo' and 'Never As Good As The First Time' on the way to my lectures, mellowed to the rhythm and sound of 'Nothing Can Come Between Us' and 'Haunt Me' upon graduation, embraced 'No Ordinary Love' and 'Kiss Of Life' when I got my first real job and found solace in 'By Your Side' and 'King Of Sorrow' during a stormy relationship. Now, Sade, the chanteuse who popularised loop earrings and tightly pulled back hair is back to serenade me with her latest offering. Well, Sade is not just one person but a band actually. Her first single or more appropriately, their first single 'Soldier Of Love' has been released on their official website and unsurprisingly, to great reviews. I definitely do not know much about music but I do know what I like and I like the new song a lot. Some people say that their songs (especially the newer ones) are great to listen to when you are on drugs (or having a slight buzz after a few drinks). I don't know about that either but I can say that most of their songs can be quite addictive and have a tendency to stay a while on your mind long after they have finished playing. Unlike many of today's artistes who have succumbed to commercialism, Sade has remained true to their art and craft. It is quite difficult to put them in one specific genre but it is quite safe to say that their music is not meant for the average listener. The lyrics can be quite ordinary sometimes but they are true and not stupid (unlike most songs we hear nowadays). Sade has always been a classy act and the time is just right to show what class is in a world overflowing with hype and tackiness.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I DON'T NEED FACEBOOK TO......

I admit that I am a frequent facebook user and I guess at the moment there must be millions of people all over the world who are using this social networking website as well. While there is nothing wrong with facebook itself, I am saddened by the fact that there are many of us who have become quite dependent on some of the applications. Some would even go to the extent of consulting these applications to start their day or week. I believe that the users must have had some kind of modern education and I guess I am not wrong in saying that many of us have completed or in the process of completing our tertiary education. But why do we have to depend on facebook to tell us our future, who we will meet today, the colour of our aura, what kind of friend or parent or teacher we are, when we will get married, when we will die, who our secret admirer is, the most suitable job for us et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Really foolish and total bull, I would say. Anybody with a brain can see that computers and these applications can't tell us anything if we don't feed them any input. Even if we provide the input, the output is not necessarily accurate and cannot be accepted as 100 percent true. Nowadays, facebook has become a place where users go to to boost egos, confidence, self-esteem and assurance. Wrong place, guys! We might as well :
i. pay a visit to the funfair/video arcade and slot some coins into the fortune teller machine
OR
ii. eat at a Chinese restaurant and let the complimentary fortune cookie decide our fate.

Don't we have faith in our ability that we have to consult these applications? Aren't we educated enough to know that no prediction comes with a guarantee? We are sophisticated and modern enough not to believe in superstitions, aren't we? What really bugs me is that some of these applications even use religious images and terms. There might be some users who say that they are using these applications just for fun when they are bored and that they don't really believe in what these applications say. Well, it's like saying we don't believe in horoscope and yet that's the first section we go to when we get our daily newspaper. Who are we trying to fool anyway?

Madame Zelda, what will I do today?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A LOVER SPURNED (YOU BREAK MY HEART, I HACK YOUR SITE)

So what do you do when your lover turned against you? You don't get mad but you get even (unless you feel that you can't be bothered with it and are very much happier with your current inamorata/o). So how do you take revenge on somebody like that? Spreading gossips about him or her is so passé. Public confrontation is so childish and begging is definitely a no-no (have some pride please!). You don't even have to ruin his or her reputation and you don't even have to break a sweat. You can sit back, relax and do it the ICT way (while sipping a cup of latté). You definitely need to be ICT savvy in order to do that but a smart guy or gal will definitely have no problem in figuring out what to do. Photoshopping his or her pictures in the form of nude porno stars or ugly creatures is time-consuming and doesn't really do any damage (unless the pictures are real). Now, you can hack into his or her MSN account, facebook, blog or whatever that takes your fancy. You can even clone his or her credit card and spend it to your heart's content (or you can make a donation to worthy causes). You can (accidentally) delete all important folders, documents and files in the computer or you can ___________________ (fill in the blank with your own choice). I am not advocating any of these actions since everybody and his mother know that crime doesn't pay and your hideous action(s) can still be traced back to you. Still, isn't it wonderful if you can get away with them?

video

A lover spurned
A lesson learned
On love you've got
Your fingers burnt

Shed bitter tears
Now love has turned
The sweet revenge
Of a lover spurned

A passing phase
A week of love
But all at once
You had enough

It pales so soon
Waned with the moon
No deep concern
For a lover spurned

She'll destroy you with her little games
See you swallow all the blame
Make you pay in many ways
For the pleasure of watching you squirm

She'll tell her friends to treat you rough
That you just weren't good enough
Make the going really tough
For the pleasure of watching you burn in hell

And every day
More guilt to pay
A lesson learned
From a lover spurned

It was all so cosy for you
You had a wife, two children
And a beautiful house
And me, well you wanted me
When it suited your needs
And now, now I have nothing
Just a handful of faded photographs
Nothing but a cold empty heart
But I'm not easily forgotten
I'll appear when you least expect
To make you pay
You asked for it that way

She'll come to get you with a knife
Write poison letters to your wife
Totally destroy your life
For the pleasure of watching you squirm

She'll make a fool of you at work
Drag your name through the dirt
Make sure that it really hurts
For the pleasure of watching you burn in hell

A lover spurned
A lesson learned
On love you've got
Your fingers burnt

Shed bitter tears
Now love has turned
The sweet revenge
Of a lover spurned

The sweet revenge
Of a lover spurned

Monday, November 9, 2009

SESAME STREET AND CUMI DAN CIKI

Sesame Street is already 40 years old and is considered as a pioneer in edutainment for young children. The show is watched by children all over the world and up until now, it still has not lost its appeal. It is safe to say that it has managed to fill in the void for wholesome children's edutainment without sacrificing the elements of fun and knowledge. I wonder if the same thing could have happened to Cumi Dan Ciki, a local programme aired on national television in the 70s if it has not been discontinued. Unlike Sesame Street with its various puppets, Cumi Dan Ciki had only four. I remember sitting in front of the black and white television mesmerised by Cumi the butterfly, Ciki the monkey, Bad the hippo and Cik Tam the crow. And who can forget Abang Wazata and Kak Ain? Of course, the programme was childish but it was for children anyway. So a lot of things which do not make sense to adults actually are very valid for children. I don't remember any other local programmes utilising puppets as a means of educating children except Cumi Dan Ciki (there might have been others but I don't remember). There were various segments in the programme just like Sesame Street. Children will still be children and I believe that puppets, toys, dolls and action figures will always be part of our children's lives. Why not go back into their world and discover the wonder of discovering something new and amazing every single day? Unlike Sesame Street which is produced by a non-profit organization and broadcast on public television, many local children's edutainment programmes nowadays are produced by multimedia companies. These companies are definitely profit-oriented and they might or might not have enough solid background on children's learning development and child psychology. Despite their expertise in graphics, animation and multimedia production, we can't ignore the fact that research is also an integral part of such programmes. These companies know that the television is a powerful medium and its impact can be quite astounding sometimes. It's high time the experts on children's learning development and child psychology put their knowledge to use and work together with these companies to produce a local programme with a strong national identity which can have the same impact and endurance as Sesame Street. And to the local producers who have kept the balance between education and entertainment, keep up the good work!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

BEWARE! VAMPIRES EVERYWHERE

Everyone is into vampires nowadays but strangely enough, not me. I used to love watching vampire movies. I didn't know why but there was something about that dark world that really appealed to me (don't start analysing me psychologically, okay?). Last night was a vampire movie marathon for me. It started with 'The Lost Boys' (my favourite) followed by 'Fright Night' (another favourite), 'Blade' and ended with 'Interview With The Vampire'. When I was in college, I made friends with a group of vampire movie fans. Most of them slept during the day and went out at night fantasising of being bitten by a vampire or two! They were dressed mostly in black and had very pale complexion since they tried to avoid the sun altogether. They had this plan that if ever one of them was bitten by a vampire and turned into one, he or she would bite the others too. Talk about being weird! It seems to me that humans who desire to become vampires are running away from a reality and life that they can't handle. Well, reality bites but I don't think there are any vampires who can do that. I don't think I'll be watching 'New Moon' from the Twilight Saga since I was quite disappointed when 'Twilight' came out. I'd say that the cinematography in that move is fantastic but the movie itself is too slow for my liking and the storyline is quite shallow. Well, I shouldn't have expected much from a movie adapted from a teen novel written especially for young girls. The series itself is simply a love story about an average girl who finds love. It's just another story about forbidden love and we know how much people love stories when love triumphs in the end. That's the basic premise of this story and what happens between the beginning and the end is just fillers to keep the story going. At the same time, there are many out there who have become addicted to 'Vampire Wars' on facebook. I guess I must have outgrown my 'vampire' phase since I'm not playing 'vampire' anymore. These days, I'd rather join the Mob and start killing people with real weapons instead of sucking their blood. On a lighter note, I love garlic too much to become a vampire...

p/s How do you like my new fangs?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Another victim has been added to the long list of child abuse victims and this time the culprits are her own mother and her mother's boyfriend. I can't understand how a mother who is supposedly a loving person can turn a blind eye towards the suffering of her own flesh and blood. Is love so powerful that one can become so weak and cruel? I am not a violent person and I don't believe much in violent acts but this time, I truly wish that these two devils would die slow agonising deaths. Neither am I judgmental but I can't help but curse them to the lowest depth of hell. Whatever their reasons are, none can be justified. The pictures of the little girl were all over the papers and it is sad to witness how two mature adults can do such things to an innocent child. What's love got to do with it? Nothing and everything, I'd say.

Monday, October 19, 2009

NIPPY'S ALMOST NIPPLEGATE INCIDENT

Whitney Houston performed 'Million Dolar Bill' on the British show 'The X Factor' and she had a wardrobe malfunction. While not as famous and as revealing as Miss Jackson's 2004 Superbowl incident, it was a wardrobe malfunction nevertheless. The back strap of her dress came undone in the middle of her performance but she was fortunate the dress was held together by the top straps. Talk about luck! Whitney (sometimes called Nippy by her family and fans) could have shown a 'nipple' (or two) and I'm sure the incident would be bigger (no pun intended) than her comeback story. It could also have easily been referred to as the real 'Nipplegate'. Making light of the situation, she said,"I sang myself out of my clothes". From now on, I'm going to make sure sure my fly is done properly every time I step out of the loo. Pray that I will never have to say 'I peed myself out of my pants'.

Friday, October 16, 2009

BARBRA AND MARIAH - LEFT AND RIGHT

Barbra Streisand has got herself a number one album at the moment and Mariah Carey is not really too far behind (no pun intended). So what about them and why am I writing about them in this entry? Well, there is no specific reason actually. I'm just curious and I wonder if anyone shares my curiosity. Everybody knows that most of Mariah's pictures show only the right-hand side of her face but it totally escaped my attention that Barbra has been doing the opposite for decades.


I wonder why...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SLEEPING BEAUTY

I am a person who needs a lot of sleep. At least eight hours of sleep per day and I'll be able to perform my daily tasks well (most of the time but not all the time). Less than that and I'll be bitchy, moody and groggy. Well, I'm always bitchy, moody and groggy anyway. More than that and I'll be as happy as a lark. I used to feel really guilty about my sleeping habit since I know a lot of people who don't sleep as much as I do but can still get up feeling fresh and rejuvenated. No more of that guilty feeling! Thanks to Ying-Hui Fu, a professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco who conducted a study and says that some people simply have shorter sleep requirements. It seems that I am not genetically programmed to have that kind of sleep. Now, I can blame my genes (or should I thank them?) for not providing me with whatever that I need for shorter sleeping periods. I can sleep almost anywhere and anytime actually. I don't even need a proper bed to sleep. Just make sure the lights are low and the weather is cool and I will soon be off to Dreamland. I've been known to sleep through long, boring and meaningless meetings and short, interesting and important ones too! To me, sleeping is almost like an escapism. It is akin to reading a wonderful fairytale where you'll be on the adventure trail with fairies, goblins, princess, princesses, dragons et cetera et cetera et cetera. It soothes the aching body, heals the wounded soul and feeds the imagination. A good night sleep can do a lot of wonders for a person and a siesta doesn't hurt either. In fact, afternoon naps can be quite rejuvenating especially on a hot day when the wind doesn't blow and the world is just too much to take.

p/s Don't ask whether I snore or not during my sleep but I've been told that I am a restless sleeper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

THANK YOU, MISTER POSTMAN

I was expecting a parcel from somebody to be sent to my house (my Whitney Houston's cd singles actually) and I was surprised when it was sent to my workplace instead of to my house. I don't even know the postman personally and I seldom said even two words to him except the occasional thank you when I happened to be at home. I guess he knew that nobody was at home when he was delivering the parcel and instead of leaving a note asking me to pick up the parcel from the post office, he sent it to my workplace. That was really nice of him, wasn't it? It is quite rare nowadays to find people who will go out of their way to do something for someone else especially if they don't know that person. I doubt that I will either. To that Mister Postman, bravo and thank you very much.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'M A PROUD (BUT TIRED) PARENT OF SEVEN...

... kittens! Yes, seven of them and at the moment, I'm feeling a little bit like an overworked Snow White with the presence of the mischievous Seven Dwarfs. I still haven't decided what to do with them since I don't plan on having more cats in my household (four is enough). Some of my friends have expressed their wish to adopt these furry creatures since they are quite cute (the young are always cute anyway but wait until they grow up). As much as I love them, I guess I have to let them go...

p/s The above picture is definitely not of the Seven Dwarfs mentioned earlier since I can never keep all of them still at the same time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

HAPPY EID Y'ALL!

Wow! Ramadhan is over and I managed not to write anything during the fasting month (except for the sole entry on Whitney Houston's album). It was intentional actually. I did not want to write about anything that might seem petty and unimportant during the holy month since I knew there were many other issues that were far more important and significant that needed to be addressed and resolved (I was lazy actually). Most of us would have been ranting about Raya shopping, cookies, holiday destination et cetera et cetera et cetera (so superficial). To me, what is important is the essence of the celebration itself and not the garnishings that come with it. It did not mean that I was not excited. I was but not to the extend that I would go Eid-crazy or worse, ape-crazy. I went to the Ramadhan food bazaar just once to buy some dates and that was that. My trip there did not repeat itself since I knew the food bought there would eventually end up in the trash can. Buying food when your stomach is empty is definitely not a good idea and I did not want to be tempted into buying food that I would not eat. I celebrated Eid quite simply this year. I did make a few types of cookies and I did do some shopping for the house but I did not go all out as I did previously. No longer did I get easily excited over the unnecessary traditional Eid preparations. I welcomed Eid this year far more calmly and with less pressure. Unlike a lot of other people, I did not have to rush to return to my hometown and that gave me a lot of space to breathe. My mother's place is where all my siblings would congregate so a couple of days before Eid, I went to the market to make sure that the fridge was well-stocked with food. I bought enough food to last for a week and on the eve of Eid, I went to bed early after slaving over the stove in the kitchen with my siblings. I woke up early on the next day feeling fresh and my Eid was as wonderful as I had anticipated it to be. Happy Eid, everyone and may peace be upon you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WHITNEY HOUSTON'S I LOOK TO YOU - THE ALBUM

I know I'm bad and I deserve a spanking on the butt but I couldn't help myself. So please spare my tender behind. I confess that I downloaded the whole Whitney Houston's I Look To You album before it even hits the American music stores next week. I really, really couldn't help myself and I couldn't wait that long since I don't know how long before it will officially be available here. I did download five songs and snippets of her songs a week earlier but that was just not enough. I wanted the whole thing and I wanted to be one of the first people to be able to listen to the whole album. My conscience did pay me a visit but I turned him away saying that his visit was untimely. Finally, I did the unspeakable deed. So what is the verdict? Well, the album is worth the long wait. I love all the songs. I love her new voice and I love how she uses it in many different ways. In fact, her voice is on fire and the album will be burning the sales and airplay charts. I have been playing the songs non-stop since last night. That's how crazy I am. I know I should be ashamed of myself but I do not regret my action at all. After all, 'there are worse things I can do' (borrowing the lyrics from 'Grease') and I know I will buy the cd later on. I hope the Malaysian special edition will have extra remixes and videos. That will really make my day. My favourites are I Got You, A Song For You, Salute, the new version of Like I Never Left, For The Lovers and Call You Tonight but I'm sure the others will grow on me too in time. 6 out of 11 is not really that bad. Actually, it is very, very good.

Friday, August 21, 2009

RAMADHAN COMES AGAIN

The public schools will close tomorrow and InsyaAllah, Ramadhan will also start on the same day. I have always treasured the first day of Ramadhan since to me, it is an indication of how the whole month is going to be like. I hope this Ramadhan will be as wonderful as the previous ones. In fact, I think it is going to be more meaningful this year. I will be able to spend at least a week with my family and how I wish that the schools would close for a month. School-going children will be able to spend more time at home and families will be able to break their fast and perform their prayers together. As for me, I will have the chance to do early preparations for Syawal although last minute preparations and shopping (chaos is more like it) are much more fun and exciting. The house needs to be cleaned a little bit and I guess I will have ample time to bake a few types of cookies. I know my nephews and nieces (including their parents aka my siblings) will be asking whether I have baked enough of their favourite cookies for them to take home. So it is important that this task is completed early before I run out of steam! I would like to wish everyone a happy Ramadhan and I hope this Ramadhan will bring peace to all. Have a wonderful Ramadhan!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I WON'T FORGET ABOUT YOU, JOHN HUGHES

John Hughes, the director of teen flicks like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, passed on a couple of days ago. In his movies, he depicted the coming-of-age period exactly like it was in the 80s. Unlike other directors of teenage movies, he poked fun at the the characters' irrationality, insensibility, insecurity and circumstances in a very funny yet touching way. Teenagers from all sorts of backgrounds flocked to the cinemas to watch his movies and it was good to know that there was someone who knew how to portray your life without being too judgmental or condescending. You can always see various characters and personalities in his movies and you can almost identify with at least one of them. There would be geeks, dorks and nerds, bitches, sluts and jocks, rebels, misfits and outcasts, and not forgetting overbearing parents and patronising teachers all thrown in in a less than two-hour movie. And I have always loved the songs he picked for his movies. True (Spandau Ballet) from Sixteen Candles and Don't You Forget About Me (Simple Minds) from The Breakfast Club are still some of my favourite songs until now. His movies have made life much more bearable for those who think that they are alone and different than the rest of the crowd. He showed that despite our differences, there can also be a common ground which we can share : love, compassion and understanding. And that is something that we should not forget.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

AM I REALLY OUTDATED?

Am I really outdated? Do I need to upgrade myself? I ask myself these questions all the time. Every time I surf the Internet, I will find something new and totally alien to me. I wonder if my life will be better if I keep myself up-to-date with whatever that is new and recent. Is it necessary for me to buy the latest cell phone with the latest applications and features so as not to be left behind? Do I need to learn a new IT programme just to make sure I am indeed in the know? Do I have to listen to new songs so I can have something in common with my hip friends? Do I? Or don't I? I ask myself these questions simply because I don't want to be a blind follower of a trend or a fad. Many of us fall into traps set by others who have been trapped by others (who have been trapped by others too). We buy something not because we we need to but because we feel we need to. We do something because we see others are doing it. Is it necessary to do all that? Well, it is definitely important to keep abreast with development but to become its victims is something all of us can do without. I believe we have more choices now compared to the past and because of that, we don't necessarily have to follow all trends and fads which are shoved down our throats. We can choose whatever that suits our current needs. At the same time, it is also important to embrace what's 'current' in order to survive. A lot of companies have gone under due to their inability to move on and there are countless institutions which have become static due to lack of progress and development. At the same time, certain things are better the way they are intended to be in the first place. So back to my question. Do I need to upgrade myself? To answer that, I think I'd better stick with fadzali XP instead of ugrading myself to fadzali 7. I'm quite happy with fadzali XP's operating system at the moment and I guess I can still survive without crashing...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

TIE-DYE (A SUMMER'S TALE)

I was watching e-news last night and it seems that tie-dye is making a comeback. Well, it's been a while since I last saw anyone wearing tie-dye t-shirts or skirts on the street. With the weather getting really warm and hazy, it's about time something cool and vibrant made its appearance again. Welcome back, tie-dye. I've missed you so much. I remember wearing my tie-dye t-shirts (till the colours faded) almost everywhere I went to when I was still a student. With my unruly long black hair, torn jeans, beads and sandals, people thought I was a flower child or at least, someone trapped in the 60s and just couldn't get over the era. I was definitely a sight to behold so I can understand now why people always gave me the weird look every time I passed them (the same way I look at the present youngsters with their pierced body parts). I also remember going to a free open-air reggae concert on my campus field and the organiser provided buckets and buckets of dyes for concert-goers to dye their white t-shirts in. There were lots of tie-dyed t-shirts (including a few underpants and bras!) left to be dried on the grass while the concert-goers moved and grooved to reggae music. That was also the summer when I had to repeat a class I had to drop earlier. Once I went shopping at The Mall (it was still the 'it' place back then) with a few friends (Aznan, Zainor, Ali and Mudasir) and we spotted a shop (I think it belonged to the former actor, Azmil Mustapha) selling tie-dye shirts. We were like hippies on pots when we saw the clothes! Oh! It was patchouli and sandalwood-scented psychedelic heaven for us and we got ourselves a tie-dye shirt each. Now that I'm older, I wonder if tie-dye t-shirts can still look good on me. Maybe yes but I'll get a second opinion before I dare wear them in public again since I definitely do not want to look like a member of the Grateful Dead.

On second thought, maybe I should start with these tie-dye boxers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WHITNEY HOUSTON'S I LOOK TO YOU - FREE DOWNLOAD

Yes, one of her songs can be downloaded for free from her official website (whitneyhouston.com). Until Friday at least. I did that this morning before I left for work and I've been listening to it endlessly. I actually downloaded it from youtube a few days ago but it is not of good listening quality. The song itself is simple in arrangement without any fancy orchestration or lavish production. The song showcases Whitney's deeper and more mature vocals and I guess the reason for the lack of elaborate arrangement and production is simply to prove the doubters, haters and critics wrong. There have been many who say that she has lost her voice and can't sing anymore. As I wrote in one of my earlier post, her voice has changed but it is still a powerful voice that can and will put many other singers to shame. Her phrasing is different but still as clear as ever and you can really feel the emotion in the song. This song is obviously about turning to the Almighty for strength, guidance and hope. It sums up everything that she has been going through without going into details what her trials and tribulations were. It sounds almost like a prayer to me. This song will never make it to the top of the pop chart since the current music scene is dominated by a different music genre but who needs another pop song which will be forgotten once its 'freshness' is over? This one is definitely going to be another classic and timeless Whitney Houston's song.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ANOTHER DIVA FACE-OFF!

Whitney Houston's new album will be released soon and so will Mariah Carey's. Their fans are expecting another diva face-off to see whose album will sell more and who will have more hit singles. On a more local level, another face-off will be taking place too. The exact time and date are still undecided but this time it's going to be between me and my buddy, Fooart. Everybody knows how much I love Whitney Houston and he Mariah Carey. The time has come for us to hit the karaoke boxes (again) and try to outsing each other (as if we can really sing)! Most of our friends know that when the two of us get together, something strange is bound to happen. Both of us have a tendency to choose songs nobody wants to sing. We are also notorious for choosing songs that make people want to say 'WTF is that'? And just wait when we do our own version of 'When You Believe'. You won't believe it when you see our hands and fingers flying everywhere (either to get the 'feel' of the song or to diverge people's attention from our bad singing). Of course, we will give the other the not-so-subtle look of superiority when one of us makes a blunder or croaks like a toad. Don't expect too much from our performance since none of us can actually reach the original notes but you can bet that we will be lowering the keys a few notches!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MORNING SICKNESS

I'm not sure whether any scientific studies have been done on animal's morning sickness but my cat sure looks like she's having one. She's pregnant for the first time and has been throwing up from time to time. She looks a little bit groggy and has been spending most of her time resting. I understand morning sickness occurs in humans due to the hormonal changes in their bodies and certain smells and tastes can trigger this condition or even make it worse. I don't see it any different where animals are concerned since their bodies also go through certain changes. Some people say that morning sickness is nature's way of protecting the embryo in the womb and should be seen as a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Well, I'm no scientist so I'm not sure whether this is true or not. If this is so then I shouldn't be complaining and bitching too much even though I have to clean up the mess. Bring the mop!

p/s Thank God she doesn't have any weird cravings...

Monday, July 20, 2009

WHITNEY HOUSTON - I DIDN'T KNOW MY OWN STRENGTH

This is definitely not the official version that will be included in her new album and as I predicted, her voice has changed. I don't think she will be able to reach those really high notes anymore but that voice is definitely her voice. There is no mistake about it. One listen is enough to tell you that it belongs to her. It is just a more mature voice and there is nothing wrong with it. Whitney has said before that she needs to identify with a song before she can give meaning to it and to me, this song speaks volumes about what she had to go through. The lyrics might not appeal to the younger generation (they might find the words too cheesy to their liking) but once you listen to the song, you know that there is a story behind it. She is leaving her past behind and embracing a new life. And just like Whitney, her fans also need to embrace her 'new' voice without comparing it too much with the one she once had. I know it will be difficult but I also know I will have to.

video

Sunday, July 19, 2009

MY WHITNEY HOUSTON'S COLLECTION (SMALL BUT PRECIOUS)

Last night was 'The Bodyguard' night for me. I had nothing to do so I ended up watching the movie again. I can't even remember how many times I have watched the movie but one thing for sure is I still enjoy it from the beginning until the end. Today, I took out some of the items in my Whitney Houston's collection and took a few pictures. I can't believe that it has been more than 20 years since she made her debut on the music scene. Her new album will be out soon and during the mean time, I don't have any choice but to listen to her old songs. It doesn't really matter to me whether the album is going to be commercially successful or not. I'm sure her voice has changed too and her current repertoire will have to reflect that change. It is foolish to hope the 'old' Whitney to be back. My Whitney Houston's collection is small but very precious to me since most of the items have their own stories. I bought my first Whitney Houston's cassette tape when I was still in college and I played it to death until the the tape broke and came off the reel. CDs were still a rarity back then and definitely out of the question for a struggling student like me. I bought her first and second CDs as soon as I got my first paycheck from my first 'real' job. I was going through quite a difficult time in my life when her single 'I Learned From The Best' was released. The song never reached the Top 10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 but the song and video remain one my personal favourites till today. When her 'Just Whitney' album came out, I asked my friend, Zurina, who was visiting her sister in Paris to get a copy for me. I was surprised when she came back with not one but two copies of the same CD. One of them was a special edition that came with a limited edition DVD. These are a few 'love stories' behind my Whitney Houston's collection. There are more, of course but I think I'd better keep them to myself during the meantime..

MY FAVOURITE OLD-FASHIONED MUSIC STORE

This is one of my favourite old-fashioned music stores and when I say old-fashioned, it is REALLY old-fashioned. The shop is small, hot and dusty but this is where I would go from time to time to source for my Malay records and cassettes especially from the 80s. Four your information, the shop doesn't sell any CDs, only records and cassettes. The owner of the shop is a soft-spoken Chinese man in his late 60s and he can usually be seen sitting outside the shop playing 'erhu', a type of Chinese musical instruments with a few of his friends. The shop has been around for quite a while and unlike other shops neighbouring it, it just refuses to die. It still retains its old look and its old layout. It's not air-conditioned and like other old shops from the last century (sounds truly ancient, doesn't it?), it doesn't have any proper door. Everything is a little bit disorganised in the shop so you have to be patient if you want to look for something. Despite all these inconveniences, it has reached an almost 'cult' status among local music lovers who are always looking for rare and hard-to-find records. I'm not even sure of the exact name of the shop. It can either be Nang Yang or Nanyang since the shops's plastic bag (definitely from the last century) and signboard do not use the same name. Leaving that matter aside, I still think it is a great place (at least for me). Every time, I go there, it's like tasting a piece of my past when life was carefree and without much hassle. If you have seen the movie 'Field Of Dreams' starring Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan, I'm sure you will know what I mean. But as people often say 'you can always visit but you can never go back.' So if you happen to come across any situation that brings back pleasant memories, hold on to it as long as you can since those precious moments will never repeat themselves.

Friday, July 17, 2009

WHITNEY/MADONNA FASHION FACE-OFF

The Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print dress as advertised by Neiman Marcus.

The same dress worn by Whitney and Madonna.

I'm sorry, Madonna but you lose. No competition at all. Your complexion is too pale and you look too muscular in that outfit. Despite your vigourous workouts, your triceps still look flabby and the veins on your arms are a real turn-off. Your shapeless muscular legs look like two huge tree stumps beneath the ankle-length dress. Whitney, on the other hand, looks real classy in that dress. Matching it with sheer hose and heels that accentuate her slim and shapely legs, she looks regal at the same time. Her unobtrusive black crystal (I think) necklace fits her dress perfectly unlike Madonna's silver crucifix which is barely noticeable at all. Way to go, Whitney gal!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MICHAEL JACKSON'S PEPSI COMMERCIAL ACCIDENT

OMG! He didn't not even realize that his hair was on fire! He kept on dancing for a while, definitely oblivious to what was happening to him. You can see how his hair started to catch fire and the bald spot on his head at the end of the footage. I know how painful a burn can be (I accidentally burned my finger while ironing my shirt once) and the trauma it can inflict on a person. This shocking video footage was provided by US Weekly on its official website and nobody knew how they got hold of it. In my opinion, the video had never been shown until now since some people would have made a massive joke out of it. I know some insensitive stand-up comedians would love to use this as part of their comedy routines. Pepsi would have suffered too and I guess that is why they paid MJ a huge sum of money. The commercial was never completed and I'm sure die-hard MJ's fans will stop drinking Pepsi after seeing this. As for me, I've never really liked the taste of Pepsi that much and will always be a loyal 'Kickapoo' drinker.

video

WHITNEY HOUSTON : I LOOK TO YOU

They are taking it real slow and I pray that the album is going to be worth the wait. Whitney's new album will be released on September 1 and I can hardly wait for it to hit the stores. I went to her official website this morning and there it was, the cover of her album! Somehow, it reminds me so much of her debut album. After looking at it real closely, I finally realise that it is not only the pose and the one-shouldered dress that are similar but also the typeface used. There is something about the eyes and that enigmatic smile which suggest experience and serenity compared to the look and pose on the first album which, at least to me, portray innocence and naivete. My only complaint is the colour. Somehow, I don't like the greyish background which looks a little bit dull and out-dated to me. A little bit of colour won't hurt I would say but I don't want to be too judgmental. I'll let the album speak for itself. After all, never judge a book (or should I say album) by its cover.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

MONDEGREEN

We often come across people who mishear certain words or phrases especially from song lyrics or movie dialogues. To make matters worse, they confidently repeat the wrongly heard words to other people who then convey these malapropisms to others. This never ending repetition of wrongly heard phrases can be quite funny and humiliating at times too especially if you are corrected in front of the public. This condition, called 'mondegreen' is not exclusive to non-native speakers of English only but also to native speakers. One perfect example of 'mondegreen' can be seen in the movie '27 Dresses' starring Katherine Heigl and James Marsden (did I write earlier how I simply love love stories?). Both of them (definitely feeling the buzz after a few beers) step on top of the bar counter and start singing 'Bennie And The Jets'. I think that scene is one of the most hilarious parts in the movie and I couldn't stop rolling on the floor when I first heard their rendition of that song (especially that 'electric boobs' part). I remember when I was still in primary school, I would often sit by the radio to write down the lyrics of popular songs in my notebook. One particular song that I remember listening to was 'One Way Ticket' by Eruption. Disco was all the rage back then and as little as I was at that time, I wasn't spared from its influence (that was how I learned English and how to boogie by the way). It wasn't until I was in high school when I discovered that I had been singing the wrong lyrics all along. Confidently, I would chant 'one way ticket to the moon' instead of 'one way ticket to the blues' each and every time the song came on the radio. Fortunately, nobody seemed to notice my 'mondegreen'. The word 'blues' and its exact meaning had not registered in my mind back then and the word 'moon' seemed much more appropriate to me. I also remember a cartoon strip published in 'The Kampung Boy' by Malaysia's most famous cartoonist, Lat. He reminisced about his younger days when he and his friends entered a singing competition crooning Elvis Presley's Devil In Disguise and changed the lyrics to 'devil in the sky'. I'm sure everybody has his or her own story of mondegreen and one of my naughty friends purposely changed the lyrics of Tina Turner's Private Dancer from 'have a husband and some children' to 'have some husbands and some children'. And talking about naughty, I'm sure you have heard the joke about how the planet 'Uranus' got its name...

A LOVE STORY : A DIFFERENT STORY

In the first movie, he stayed on her deathbed until her last breath. In the movie sequel, he was still unable to let go of his memories of her. In real life, it's a different story altogether. On her deathbed, he said he would marry her and held her hand until the end. A few days after her death, he could be seen frolicking on a beach with another woman. I am truly devastated and I don't know why I feel betrayed. I'm sure whatever love Ryan O'Neal had for Farrah is long gone but to be seen having fun like that is just plain disrespectful. I thought he was mourning the loss of his life-long partner though they had been living apart for quite some time. After she was diagnosed with anal cancer, he went back to her to provide support. I see some similarities here and there as in the movie but they end there. Well, I guess I just have to stop romanticising everything I watch since it's not healthy for me emotionally. From now on, every time I see or smell love in the air, I will tell myself that it is too good to be true. But I know old habits die hard and before long, I will be the old fool for love once again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF PPSMI

The decision is now official. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. This is what I think if I were in the policymakers' shoes. You can never satisfy everyone and to find a solution which can be accepted by everyone is definitely an arduous task enough to leave one unable to sleep properly for months. I always believe that a person should stick to his or her beliefs no matter what they are. As long as enough concrete evidence and solid facts can be produced to support the beliefs and decisions. There is no certainty in life and even if we are proven wrong, it's not the end of everything. Life is about taking chances and in life, there will be conflicts, potentials, opportunities, challenges, constraints and threats. Every shrewd businessman and manager knows that all these factors exist together and not separately. Despite all these, it is sad to see there are still certain quarters who believe that doing something new and revolutionary can be a threat to a certain status quo. Sounds more like a cop-out to me. My question is what do you do to strengthen what you believe in. The world doesn't revolve around us and we are not in any position to command others to do the way we do things. The journey to the top is not always an easy one but can't they see the potentials and opportunities that await them? Most of the time, these are the same people who think that the world owes them while they are sitting comfortably on their hibernating asses. Come on, wake up from your false pride-induced slumber and smell the competition out there. If we want people to learn lessons about life, we had better let them see its harsh realities. Being tough comes from learning to be tough. Personally, I must commend the policymakers for trying to find a middle ground in solving the conflict. The emphasis on grammar and composition is long overdue and I salute the man who is brave enough to say that there is a need for students to learn grammar. Personally for me, teaching grammar in context only works if you use a certain language as your first or second language. It doesn't really work for those who treat it as a foreign language and in our country, especially in the rural areas it still is. Maybe after they have become more comfortable using the language, grammar in context can be incorporated into the lessons but again, maybe. Nothing is ever definite. I'm sure more conflicts will arise but that is part and parcel of life. How you deal with them is what makes you a stronger and more competent person. Now, PPSMI will only be a lost fragment of something that could have been great.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

TRASHY MADONNA'S TRIBUTE TO MJ

I'm being very judgmental here and I can't help it. Madonna could have chosen a better song for her MJ tribute during her London concert. That's what I think. MJ's picture was shown when Madonna was performing 'Holiday' before the music was changed to the intro of 'Billie Jean' and 'Wanna Be Starting Something'. How inappropriate and insensitive! Tasteless and crass. She could have chosen 'Man In The Mirror' or 'Heal The World' for goodness sake! I guess a slower and much more meaningful song would only dampen her 'Sticky & Sweet' tour and divert the audience's attention. I also believe that she did not have time to include a new routine in her concert since everybody knows that Madonna's concerts are meticulously choreographed and she always lip-syncs. Her whole concert would have to be rearranged if she were to do that. The easiest way out was to show a picture when she was performing and dance with an impersonator to a couple of MJ's songs. She did not even sing any of the lines! During her 'Virgin Tour' back in the 80s, she borrowed part of MJ's moves and lyrics from 'Billie Jean' and incorporated that into her 'Like A Virgin' routine. It looked sweet back then but I now realize that it was her way of cashing in on MJ's popularity and fame. The 'King Of Pop' is dead but Madonna now is officially crowned the 'Queen Of Trash'.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

MICHAEL JACKSON - BEN

I've uploaded one of my favourite Michael Jackson's songs of all time, Ben. This is his first number one hit as a solo artist and taken from from his second album of the same name. There is no official music video for this song and this one is taken from one of his TV performances. It would be another seven years before he hit the number one spot again with 'Don't Stop Til' You Get Enough'. Another favourite song of mine is 'One Day In Your Life' which didn't even make it to the top forty in the Billboard pop chart. On the contrary, 'ODIYL' became Michael's first solo number one hit in UK and was very well received by fans from other parts of the world. So here it is, Ben by Michael in karaoke version.

The single's cover

video

Saturday, June 27, 2009

LISA MARIE PRESLEY SPEAKS

Lisa Marie Presley wrote about MJ in her blog and there is more than what meets the eye if you read between the lines. She said that Michael knew what was coming and that she failed to help him. He even thought that he was going to end up like Elvis. What's that all about? Lisa Marie did not state clearly the exact content of their intimate conversation and the prediction that Michael made but my eternally suspicious mind suspects (please forgive me) there must have been some kind of substance abuse on his part. I truly hope this is not true. Too many lives and too many talents have become victims of drugs and alcohol. I can live with the fact that Michael was quite strange in his behaviour and demeanor. I can even accept all those unnecessary surgeries but substance abuse is something that I have never associated with Michael. Never. I know that the next few days is going to be important. His autopsy report will be released and only then will we know the truth behind the cause of his death. Never have I hoped and wanted so much to be proven wrong. Until now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

THE ANGEL AND THE MOONWALKER

One after another. First it was the Angel. Then, it was the Moonwalker. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson passed away leaving all their fans in shock and grief. Farrah Fawcett in all her red swimsuit glory, flipped-back blonde mane and bright smile was the ultimate dream of many teenage boys and adults alike back then. Her poster sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and her feathered hairdo was copied by women all over the world (and not too long ago by Beyonce). Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, acted as the timid Scarecrow in 'The Wiz' with Diana Ross and moonwalked his way into our hearts and lives. A child star who grew up amid gossips, controversies, scandals and speculations, Michael's style has been imitated and copied (unsuccessfully) by many artistes like Usher and Justin Timberlake. Now, both of them are gone. I was truly disappointed when Farrah left Charlie's Angels and Lee Major, the Six Million Dollar Man. I was still a small child back then and these two incidents were considered as major tragedies for me at that time. I also remember watching 'Captain EO' at the Epcot Center, Disney World, Florida with two of my best friends, Nasir and Ali in 1987 (I wonder if they still keep the pictures that we took there). Not only 3D effects were used, laser and smoke effects were also employed to create an amazing visual experience for the audience. The set used for the final scene reminds me so much of Maxfield Parrish's paintings. Till today, I still regret not smuggling out the 3D viewing glasses since we had to return them after the show. Now, I can only look back at the good old times these two figures had brought into my life. The memories will probably last but their passing is just another sign that nothing lives forever and nothing stays young forever. Even for Angels and Moonwalkers...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

FATHER'S DAY

Today is Father's Day and I don't even know what to write about. There are many things that I want to tell but somehow, the words don't come out as I want them to be. I have lumps in my throat every time I think of my father. I have been thinking about this entry for the past two days and up until now, my brain still can't come up with anything. At the same time, it's also my younger brother's birthday today and it must be harder for him than it is for me. When my father was still around, we never did anything special on Father's Day. Staying far away from my parents back then, we never had the chance to celebrate Father's Day together and even if we did, it would seem awkward to do so since my father was an old-fashioned guy whose celebrations were limited to religious festivities and community gatherings. Father's Day will come and go and after today is over, I'm sure most of us will forget about it. The only one day we are compelled to show our appreciation to our fathers has made its round and it will another year before it comes back again. Many of us will be able to breathe a sign of relief but I will still be thinking about it, knowing I could have written something much more meaningful than this about my father.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

PAYING HOMAGE OR JUST COPYCAT POSES?

I couldn't believe it when these pictures came out. My eyes almost popped out of their sockets and I had to restrain myself from throwing up. The fabulous poses of Brooke Shields from her Calvin Klein days have been copied by Gisele Bunchen and Kim Kardashian (shame on them). How unoriginal and how terrible since nothing can beat Brooke's original poses. It was Brooke who put Calvin on the fashion map when she appeared on a TV commercial more than 30 years ago mouthing the words 'Nothing comes between me and my Calvins. Nothing'. Gisele is already a top supermodel so I was quite surprised when her pose imitating Brooke's came out. She did not need to do this to justify her supermodel status. Kim, on the other hand, is just another talentless star wannabe and attention seeker like Paris Hilton (unless you count the bedroom skills she practised on Ray J in their infamous homemade video as talent). I'm sure you can see the similarity here so don't ask me to elaborate. She is just another pretty face with a big butt and those copied poses look quite comical. To me, these pictures are not even tributes to Brooke. They are just another marketing strategy to boost the sales of the publications in which these pictures were published. I guess some people will never stop at anything. Certain poses will forever be embedded in our minds as belonging to certain people. Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Betty Grable, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Farrah Fawcett and numerous others have their own signature looks. Lauren Bacall, for example, is known for 'The Look' she created when she went for the screen test for her first movie. There have been too many Marilyn Monroe look-alikes but there will only be one Marilyn. The real Marilyn is dead and everybody knows you can't compete with a ghost. As much as I love Madonna (the early Madonna that is and not the present control freak she has become lately), she is just a cheap Marilyn rip-off. So to those who want to steal the limelight from others, stop being a copycat and develop your own look and style. As for me, I am like a chameleon and my looks are definitely original but they change according to my surroundings and mood. At the moment, I am sporting the 'Bitchy Look' and you definitely do not want to see it...