Wednesday, May 27, 2009

THE BATHROOM SINGER : ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER SONG?

I truly believe that there are many of us who are bathroom singers. Don't deny it, okay? There is something about the bathroom that makes us want to sing or at least hum a tune. I attribute this to the acoustics and the atmosphere in the bathroom itself. Somehow, our voices sound better, richer and deeper when we sing in the bathroom, especially when we are under the shower. It is also possible that being in a bathroom provides us with a personal space that nobody can enter (unless you are taking a shower with another person) so we tend to let go of all inhibitions. There have been a few instances when my family members had to tell me to bring the volume down (to shut up, actually) since I was taking my bathroom singing session to another level (can't they tell that I'm in Carnegie Hall?). Well, I might wake up from my reverie for a while but usually, it doesn't take long for me to get back into my singing mood again. This usually pisses them off since I can stay in the bathroom forever. I feel that the longer I stay in there, the better my voice is going to be. Very misleading, I know but allow this man to feed his ego once in a while. Now, what about the choice of songs? I have a tendency to choose really upbeat songs or downright sentimental ones. Don't ask me why. I don't know why. I know what I like but I don't know why I like it and there is no need for me to explain it to anybody. I am yet to do a duet and I don't think I will be doing one anytime soon. This means the bathroom is mine, all mine!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SUSAN BOYLE - 25 YEARS AGO

Old videos of Britain's Got Talent's Susan Boyle singing from 25 years ago have appeared everywhere on the Internet. Very bittersweet I would say. The question that popped into my head when I first saw them was 'What if she had been discovered back then?' Like other 'life's what ifs', I guess we will never know. The better thing to do is to appreciate and work on what we have at the moment instead of harping too much on what could have been. We have to move on in life and to hold on too much to the past can only hamper our progress and happiness. Like Susan Boyle, I'm sure we've had our share of opportunities and possibilities which slipped through our fingers. We can never bring back those times but I'm sure there will be other opportunities for us. The best is always yet to come.

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LOSING MY PASSION

Call me jealous and say it right to my face, I don't mind. It's true I am quite envious when I see people (especially the young ones) who still have a lot of passion for life. I'm losing mine bit by bit and I need to analyse the causes. Pronto. Part of it can be attributed to my lifestyle. I guess I have reached a stage where I don't need much in my life anymore and I don't need to prove myself to anybody anymore. I'm sure a lot of people will say that there are myriads of things I haven't done in my life and maybe venturing into something new could spark the passion back in my life but are these things necessary? It sounds pessimistic and pathetic (I know) but it could be possible that my attitude and outlook towards life are the driving force behind my losing passion for life. I'm not saying that I've lost it altogether but there are days when I don't feel like doing anything at all. Is this a sign of burnout or middle-age crisis? Could it be that emotional and mental exhaustion are responsible for the way I'm feeling and acting towards the world? I need to keep the passion burning. Otherwise, I am dead. Well, here are a few questions that I need to answer and I'm going to take my time going through each and every one of them. I found these questions on the Internet and I've modified them to suit my situation.

1. Is my attitude the source of the problem?
2. Are there people who are destroying my passion?
3. Are my expectations dragging me down?
4. Are non-work-related things the problem?
5. Am I in the wrong profession or company?
6. Do I want to bring the passion back in my life?
7. Can I survive without it?
8. Can I solve this problem alone?
9. Do I need peer support?
10. What are my options?

During the mean time, I need to hang on tight to the things that excite me (don't get any wrong ideas here).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

WHAT DAY NOW?

Another date goes down the calendar of human history as another important date. Yesterday was Teacher's Day and today? Today has been proclaimed World Telecommunication And Information Society Day but that is not all. Today is also World Hypertension Day. Wow! It seems that we need to celebrate or commemorate every single event or issue that we can think of. Gone are the days when we only celebrated a few events which were important to us. Now, every issue is important and every cause needs to have its own day in order to gain attention or be worthy of its existence. It seems like no cause can be considered as worthy unless it has its own day to celebrate. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the intentions of celebrating these days but sometimes, I feel that some of them are overrated and glorified unnecessarily. Certain dates are celebrated to raise awareness among members of society or to show support for a certain cause. I am all for that but to tell you the truth, it can be too superficial sometimes when no programmes or activities beneficial for the society are planned. Most of the time, we are not even aware of these days and the reasons behind their existence. We might get to know about them by chance when we see a big ad in the newspaper and that is about all. Well, since today is World Hypertension Day and I have no intention of increasing my blood pressure, let me stop here. Before I end this entry, by the power vested in me, I proclaim today as Sunday and tomorrow Monday.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

HOW DO I LOOK?

I am no longer fashion-conscious like I used to be when I was younger (that was a long, long time ago). It comes with age I must say. Going through my old photo albums, I could not even pass the second page without rolling on the floor laughing at my so-called trendy way of dressing back then. Was I a fashion victim? To some, I was but I try to justify the situation by saying that I was only going through a phase (maybe even a few phases) of teenage rebellion and trying to find my own skin. Now, I am much more conservative when it comes to my dressing. Mini-skirts and geometric designs were all the rage in the early 60s. Thanks to Mary Quant and the First Lady of United Sates of America at that time, Jackie Kennedy whose influences have made them fashion icons even until today. Then, the hippie subculture ruled the late 60s with its tie-dyes, love beads, paisley designs, psychedelic motifs, bell-bottom pants, long ethnic-inspired skirts and fringed vests. The 70s saw the appearance of hot pants, midis, platform shoes, flared trousers, wide- collar shirts (Remember Saturday Night Fever?) and polyester (yuck!). Hair for both men and women was long and layered. The punk movement which emerged from the London music scene also brought the use of leather and vinyl into fashion in the 70s. Hair was dyed, coloured and dramatically cut or styled. Studs, spikes, Doc Martens boots, drainpipe jeans, chains and body jewelry were items which were closely associated with the punks. In the 80s, clothes were looser and not as tight as they were in the 70s and vice versa for the pants. Lycra (especially cycling shorts) and fluorescent colours replaced polyester and geometric patterns. Music and movies also had a big influence on fashion at that time. Jennifer Beals started a trend with cut-off midriff sweatshirts in the movie "Flashdance' and the New Wave artists took to the Romantic Look. Duran Duran, A Flock Of Seagulls, Visage and Culture Club had their own inimitable style. Madonna and Cyndi Lauper turned our attention to thrift shops where clothes reflected the New York street scene. Power suits became favourites among yuppies and executives. Linda Evans and Joan Collins wore shoulder pads bigger than those worn by American footballers. Hair was big and teased and sprayed to the heavens. Chunky metal jewelry and colourful Swatch watches were all the rage back then. Japanese designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake introduced their avant-garde clothes. Tom Cruise donned the Ray-Ban Wayfarers in the movie 'Risky Business' and 'Top Gun' which revived its popularity. And of course, who can forget all those Michael Jackson wannabes with their studded leather jackets and fingerless gloves? So much had happened in the fashion scene in the 80s that the 90s had to take a breather I guess. Clothes were much simpler at the beginning but that trend did not last for long. Grunge fashion popularised by the late Kurt Kobain and Nirvana started the new decade by wearing fashion that somehow reflected anti-fashion. Then, The Spice Girls brought back the platform shoes. Britney Spears and other teenage pop princesses decided they needed to show off their newly-developed curves in baby t-shirts, and low-rise jeans. Consequently, body -piercing especially navel piercing became more if not as popular. The Punk styles also enjoyed a revival thanks to alternative artists. Now, we are in the 2000s and fashion has evolved again. I won't be going into details but it is clear that each new decade brings more styles and trends. This has given more choices to people to find something that suits their personality and lifestyle. However, not many of us (including me) know what constitutes as fashion and what is considered as style. This has resulted many of us committing unforgivable fashion faux-pas. I totally agree when people say that money and wealth can only buy expensive clothes, not style. So how do I look? I must say pretty good for somebody who is slowly but surely approaching middle age!

p/s The above look is a definite no-no unless you are a New York pimp or going to a costume party.

HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY!

To all overworked, underpaid and stressed out teachers, Happy Teacher's Day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CYBER EVERYTHING... EVEN DIVORCE

We've heard of sms divorce, youtube divorce and the next big thing I'm predicting is cyber divorce where divorce can be done via the Internet. Cyber dating, cyber love affairs and cyber sex are so common nowadays that they have become so passé. Even cyber weddings are carried out from time to time. Now I think is the time for cyber divorce to make its appearance in all its Internet glory and for the whole world to see. To clear any misunderstanding, I would like to say that I'm not talking about online divorce where everything is done by filling up forms online or clicking the mouse to upload the documents so they can be processed by those who are involved. I'm talking about 'cyber divorce' where the plaintiff and defendant hook up live on the Internet. It's almost like any reality programme but it's done via the Internet. So what's the difference between a cyber divorce and a reality programme? Unlike reality programmes, cyber divorces allow everyone to become the 'star' even if you don't have any talent whatsoever. Anybody can participate and become part of the event. It's also possible that the proceedings will take a whole new dimension when celebrities' cyber divorces can be viewed by pay-by-the-minute live streaming. How wonderful and exciting! I can hardly wait for someone to be the first to do this and it' d better be on a huge scale. Viewers get to see the dissolution of their favourite celebrities' marriages and the celebrities themselves can get a portion of the money from the the viewers. It's a win-win situation for both the viewers and the celebrities themselves. Except for the marriage itself, of course. The drama, outrage, betrayal, promiscuity, dirty secrets and scandals will be ours and ours only to savour and enjoy. How delicious! Even soap operas can't top this! Instead of scanning the TV Guide or channel guide for programmes, we will be googling the most accurate to-the-minute cyber divorces. Maybe, we can even send our votes to show our support for our favourite soon-to-be-divorced celebrities. Well, it is definitely the age of ICT and I guess, you can do almost everything in cyber space.

Monday, May 11, 2009

HOW HIGH?

How high do we want go and how high can we go? The skeptic in me is back and I'm questioning the rationale behind the race to build the tallest building in the world. What are we trying to prove? And to whom? Are we trying to challenge the heavens? While I never really believe in the story of the Tower of Babel, I find this obsession to build the tallest building really scary. I am not against the building of any tall structure if the purpose can be justified and the availability of land is an issue but this? This is insane, really really insane. I don't understand the obsession some people have when it comes to height. Maybe they just need to go higher in order to feel the 'high' (well, go and indulge yourself in some designer drugs that can take you to the clouds and beyond). The message we are getting is all wrong. Indirectly, unconsciously and subconsciously, we have become victims of a persistent and yet subliminal message. Bigger, faster, stronger et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. On the outside, we might be shouting for world unity but deep down inside, we are competing to prove racial superiority or supremacy. Efforts to bring all of us together will be in vain when nations keep competing against each other in order to outdo each other. I wonder what they will think of next. The tallest building on the highest mountain, perhaps? During the mean time, I'm going to keep my feet on 'terra firma' since I am suffering from a mild case of acrophobia.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

If I could give you diamonds
for each tear you cried for me.
If I could give you sapphires
for each truth you’ve helped me see.
If I could give you rubies
for the heartache that you’ve known.
If I could give you pearls
for the wisdom that you’ve shown.

Then you’ll have a treasure, mother,
that would mount up to the skies.
That would almost match
the sparkle in your kind and loving eyes.

But I have no pearls, no diamonds,
As I’m sure you’re well aware.
So I’ll give you gifts more precious
My devotion, love and care.

WHY I LIVE WITH MY MUM : HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

I wanted to post this when the commercial came out but I felt it was not the right time at that moment. My mum doesn't live with me but it's the other way around. I live with her and it can be quite hard to explain to people why I do this. After all, what is a big-ass grown-up man doing living with his mum? Can't he afford his own place? Is he afraid of the dark? Does he have unresolved issues he is trying to hide? None of these, I assure you. Well, here is my story and the story goes something like this. I was having the time of my life when I decided to go back to my hometown and live with my parents. My late father (may he rest in peace) was already unwell at that time and I took it as my duty to help my mother take care of him. My application for transfer went without a hitch and I was extremely happy. But I didn't stay with my parents straight away. I rented a place behind my parents' house and justified my decision by saying that I could still see them daily. But my conscience was troubling me. I didn't move all the way from another state so I could live in a house behind my parents' house. I decided to move into my parents' house and at the same time, still keep the rented house (FYI, I keep a lot of junk and need a place for storage). A year later, my father passed away due to brain hemorrhage. He fell when he was coming out from the bathroom and his head hit the side cabinet. He went into a coma for three days and never came out of it. I was the only one by his side when he passed away. My siblings and I were taking turns to be by his side and I had earlier asked my younger brother to go home to get some rest. It broke my heart to see my mother. She had lost her companion of more than 50 years. Since then, I have vowed never to leave her. We live quite an ordinary existence. Nothing special, really but I have to admit I regretted not doing this much earlier. My world and my life would definitely be much better had I done this earlier. My two younger brothers managed to get new jobs at a nearby town and live only thirty minutes away from my mum's place. My brothers come home every week or weekend (depending on their work schedule) to see my mum and we usually spend our time in the kitchen eating and talking. We rarely go out and we spend our time watching television (especially cooking programmes) or just talking. We have four cats and there are a few plants that we tend to. Not interesting at all to some people, I know but I could not and would not ask for more. To me, this is bliss and this is contentment. Happy Mother's Day, Mak.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE AND RUSH RUSH

In my previous entry, I wrote a little bit about 'Rebel Without A Cause', a movie that deals with teenagers and their issues. So I've decided to upload Paula Abdul's video clip 'Rush Rush' here, the first single taken from her second album. She said the inspiration for this video clip came from the aforementioned movie which stars James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo. This video clip is fashioned after the movie focusing on the two main characters. Keanu Reeves (long before he became the megastar he is today) co-stars in this video clip with Paula and the first minute of the video clip shows the troubles these two teenage characters are facing. Sal Mineo's character, however, is not portrayed at all in the video clip. It is quite uncanny that Keanu who in this video clip mentions not wanting to be like his father is, in real life, estranged from his biological father. It's no wonder he could portray the role so well.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR TEENAGE ANGST

There is a competition currently being conducted by The Star and Pizza Hut which requires the participants to produce a mini magazine regarding teenage angst. Wow! This really brings me back to my teens when puberty and teenage years can be a very challenging and strenuous period. It is definitely a very difficult time for a lot of teenagers especially when they have to deal with issues which are new and alien to them. Acne, growth spurt, petty jealousies, sexuality, physical attraction, low self-esteem, social inequalities, isolation, poverty, academics, parental control and being misunderstood. These are some of the issues that most teenagers have to go through and handle during their coming-of-age years. This is also the time when they will experience indescribable emotions and confusion. Hollywood has produced many movies dealing with teenage angst and some of them can really hurt you to the bone. In 1955, James Dean portrayed a new kid in town in the movie 'Rebel Without A Cause' and since then (especially after his untimely death) he has become an icon for many teenagers. 'To Sir, With Love' produced in the 60s reveals the issues surrounding a group of troubled teenagers attending a public school and addresses racial and social matters. The 70s saw Sissy Spacek acting as a teenage social outcast tortured and humiliated by her high school friends 'Carrie'. The 80s witnesses an abundance of teenage angst movies such as Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, St Elmo's Fire, Less Than Zero, The Outsiders and Stand By Me. The 80s was a period which I can really identify with since I was a teenager myself back then and I did spend a lot of time watching movies that deal with teenage issues. I guess I was trying to understand myself better and these movies provided an avenue for me to analyse myself and my situations. In college, I even took a class in French movies and I had the opportunity to watch 'Les Quatre Cents Coups' by François Truffaut and 'Zéro De Conduite' by Jean Vigo. I didn't understand much of the dialogues in the movies since they were in French but the directors really hit home with the messages through the use of excellent cinematography and realism. Today's teenagers are facing much more than they can handle on their own and it's an excellent idea to organise such competition to understand today's teenagers better. Hopefully the winner(s) of the competition will be those who are able to give us a proper insight into the complex and often misunderstood world of today's teenagers and not just those who can come up with a sleek but lacking in honesty publication. Let's also hope more beneficial activities and programmes will be planned for the teenagers. It is high time that we addressed the issue of troubled teenagers and solved the problems before they become cancerous.

YOUTUBE, DREAMING OF YOU AND ENDLESS LOVE

I'm mad at youtube. Again. Is it possible to be mad at something that has no life (and no soul too, I would say)? Yes, it is. In fact, it is very possible to feel that way. I tried to upload a self-made video (a song which only has one picture actually) to youtube since I know that not many people have heard of the song and what did youtube do? Yes, those magic words appear on the screen again. The same words that they publish every time someone tries to upload something that they think can still bring revenues for them. I don't mind if it's all a matter of principles but why now? Why not when youtube first started? I'm also questioning the fact that they are not being constant about where they stand. There are thousands of video clips which are very current and available on youtube but why do they have to pick on videos which came out about 20 years ago? I'm sick and tired of seeing the phrase "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party". Well, maybe they have a point there but let me tell you something. In my case, it's not easy for consumers to get the soundtrack anymore. A few CDs and records are available on ebay, Amazon and a few other websites but the CDs cost a fortune. The records are quite affordable but how many people have turntables anymore? It's not even worth buying the soundtrack if you want to listen to only one song that was not a hit or even a single back then (unless you are a die hard fan of the movie itself). In fact, I took the pain to transfer it from my old cassette tape from more than 28 years ago. So you can tell that the quality is not exactly studio quality. After all, what do you expect from a cassette tape that old? Well, here is the song that I was trying to upload to youtube. It's taken from the movie 'Endless Love' starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt and sung by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. For those who don't know, the evergreen 'Endless Love' is not the only song recorded by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. This movie is also the first movie Tom Cruise made his film debut. I hope it won't be removed and I hope nobody (especially Miss Ross, Mr Lionel Richie or the co-writer, Thomas McClary) is going to sue me for copyright infringement. If anyone wants me to remove this self-made clip, just e-mail me at fadzali@hotmail.com.

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THE FRUITS OF THEIR LABOUR

Today, the majority of countries throughout the world celebrate a special day which has its origins in the Industrial Revolution. The terrible working hours and conditions back then had led to movements demanding for shorter working hours and better working environment. Changes especially in manufacturing and mining demanded the ordinary workers (including children and women) to slave over their jobs day in day out. There were no regulations stating the rights of the workers and in time, these workers felt that their welfare was not properly taken care of. Industrial nations, fathers and entrepreneurs were only interested in reaping the benefits stemming from the new technology and inventions without taking into consideration the welfare of their workers. Consequently, this had resulted trade unions to be formed to fight for the rights of the ordinary workers. It's quite hard to conceive that workers of that era sometimes had to work for 12 to 16 hours per day and in squalid surroundings too. Cinderella and Snow White were much, much luckier compared to these workers if you think about it since they could still sing and dance while doing their chores!. Of course, some of us still put in long hours at work but we should be thankful that nowadays we have better working hours, better working environment, better pay and better fringe benefits. We definitely have come a long way but we must not forget that there are still people in certain parts of this world who are still working the way the ordinary workers did 200 years ago. We must remember that there are children as young as 6 years old who are doing adult jobs and not doing what they are supposed to do : going to school. We must not ignore the fact that there are women who receive less pay compared to their male counterparts. The Industrial Revolution is now history and the world is seeing a new kind of revolution but for the most part, the basis of economy is still the same which is the pursuit of self-interest. In the process to pursue our own self-interest, we tend to forget that there are others who make our dreams possible. These are the workers without faces and without names. These are the hands who work invisibly behind the scene to make and build nations, companies and corporations. Let's not forget them and on this day, let's salute them and let prosperity be accessible to all and not just the selected few. Happy Labour Day to all!