Saturday, December 31, 2011

NEW YEAR'S EVE 2012

It's currently 10.27 p.m. on New Year's Eve and as I type this entry, I am :

i. listening to Sheila Majid's Malam Ku Bermimpi.
ii. drinking my tea and smoking my cigarette.
ii. hearing the sound of tiny raindrops on the rooftop .
iv. replying text messages from those who still remember me.
v. checking my facebook for new notifications (seems like there is none).
vi. reading my friends' blogs.
vii. talking to my Mum who is watching Chef Bruce Lim cooking up a storm on 'The Boss'.
viii. stroking my cats and watching them groom themselves.
ix. thinking about my loved ones.
x. getting ready for bed.

Goodnight, everyone. Sleep tight and here's hoping that tomorrow is going to be a better day for all of us.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 ROUND-UP (2009 AND 2010 RECYCLED)

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?

p/s This entry is recycled for the second time just like I predicted.

Monday, December 19, 2011

ADELE - TALENT VERSUS BODY IMAGE

It seems like everyone is into Adele nowadays. Gifted with a soulful voice, she reminds me so much of Alison Moyet (of Yazoo before she went solo), Helen Terry (backing vocalist for Culture Club in the 80s) and a few other big-boned female singers. All of them are/were, coincidentally, big girls with big voices. Adele has it much easier than the other singers though. Critiques and fans alike are much more interested in her talent and artistry rather than her size (that's the way it should be anyway). Alison Moyet and the rest are not as lucky. Despite their huge talent, they never got as big as Adele (no pun intended on both accounts). I am not sure whether the recording industry, media and fans nowadays are less concerned about how a singer should look like since Adele's newest album '21' is very well-received globally. It has also managed to garner several prestigious awards. A few full-figured female singers had to shed their weight in order to look sexier and more appealing to the public. Just look at Jennifer Hudson and Toni Braxton. They started as singers who depended on their voices and not their images. It was not long after their first albums that both of them began to flaunt their new sexier and slender bodies. Toni Braxton totally took it to the other extreme when she started to dress in very revealing clothes that left almost nothing to the imagination. Ann Wilson (of Heart) once had to have mostly facial shots and wear dark clothing for the group's music videos due to her constantly ballooning figure. Debora Iyall (of Romeo Void) is a brilliant songwriter and yet during the group's heyday, she was discriminated and asked to lose weight. Most swimsuit models need to be physically toned and trim in order to sell the products but real singers whose asset lies within their vocal cords should not be too obsessed to look picture perfect. Kudos to all female singers who fight for their art without looking like tarts.

Adele

Ann Wilson

Debora Iyall

Alison Moyet

Helen Terry

p/s Beauty passes but wisdom remains.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

CUSTOMER DISSERVICE

I used to love window shopping very much and up until now, I still enjoy going from shop to shop during my free time. There is something about being in a shop and browsing through the shelves or racks displaying the goods that excites me (it's like having a sugar rush!). Unfortunately and sadly, that feeling is slowly diminishing due to certain incidents that I have recently experienced. FYI, I usually don't like to make rushed decisions and when I decide to buy something I really like, I will usually ask a lot of questions and scrutinise the goods until I am totally satisfied. After all, I am going to spend a certain amount of money on something that I will probably keep forever. The problem is quite a number of shopkeepers and salespeople (especially the younger ones) whom I've met lately are not what I expect them to be. Some of them are downright rude and arrogant. Others act as if providing services to customers and giving explanations to them is a big favour they bestow on whomever they fancy and definitely not part of their responsibilities. Situations like these definitely make me want to pull a 'Julia Roberts' in that unforgettable 'Pretty Woman' shopping scene. After she was snubbed by two snotty saleswomen working in a posh boutique, she went back there later to tell them how much commission they had lost simply because they did not want to wait on her. That will teach anyone that all customers should be treated equally and respectfully. I have seen a few businesses in my hometown crumble due to lack of courtesy and proper service. When I walk into a shop, I don't expect to be treated like royalty (it wouldn't hurt me one bit if I were given such treatment though). I don't demand red carpet service and I don't require 24-hour assistance. I want to be treated like a potential customer who will be parting with his hard-earned cash to feed the proprietor, his family, his staff and his pets. More importantly, I want to be treated like a human being. Not like a doormat. Is that too much to ask? A good friend of mine will undoubtedly make a scene if he is given such a shoddy service. There have been a few times when he raised his voice so other customers and passers-by would hear him. He would start asking for the manager or the owner of the business before giving him an earful on good business management and employee training. There have also been a few occasions when he asked the salesperson to ring up his bill and decided not to buy anything at all at the last minute. I don't always believe in fighting fire with fire (sometimes I will). It's risky and in one way, childish. It doesn't bring a lot of good to anyone except temporary satisfaction and superficial victory. Besides, being nasty to snobbish people will only drag me to to their level and I certainly do not want to stoop that low. I sincerely hope that one day they will realise that they have done a great disservice not only to others but also themselves.

p/s It can be very tempting at times to give this type of people a dose of their own medicine since I know I can outbitch almost anyone and be more obnoxious than the most obnoxious. Just don't let me get started, okay?

Monday, November 28, 2011

MUSIC FORMATS : IMPENDING CHANGES

I've lived long enough to see the changes and transformation in the way music is marketed and released to the public. When I was growing up, it was common to see vinyls or records sold in music stores. These came either in EP or LP form with the former containing 2 to 4 songs and the latter 10 to 12 songs. 8-track cartridges came not too long after that, making it possible for one to listen to music while driving. Cassette or audio tapes were very popular in the 80s since they were light, portable, affordable and more durable. When the first Walkman was introduced by Sony as a portable cassette player, the music industry saw a tremendous boost in sales of cassettes. CDs were introduced in the late 80s and they slowly gained popularity among music buyers. Now, music is offered to the public in whole new way. Downloading or streaming from iTunes and other music services is quite the norm nowadays especially among the younger generation. Consequently, the older music formats are slowly being abandoned by both buyers and publishers. We can't fight the digital age and sooner or later, changes are bound to happen but are we ready to embrace the changes? Will the changes bring far more good to all parties concerned namely the buyers, retailers, producers, artistes et cetera et cetera et cetera? As consumers, are we ready to happily accept this new format and abandon the old way we purchase and listen to music? Can downloaded audio files replace the psychical formats that we are so familiar with all these years? It's different when we talk about CDs replacing audio tapes or audio tapes replacing records since CDs, audio tapes and vinyls are all physical formats. Here we are talking about a digital form replacing the physical forms. As a consumer, I feel I will get my money's worth when I buy a physical format since I will be getting not only the music but a few other things as well. Album covers, booklets, mini posters, stickers, box, obi, promotional items et cetera et cetera et cetera will no longer be available for music buyers. Furthermore, the quality of the best downloaded audio files (so far) has still not matched that of a CD or vinyl. In other words, consumers have to shell out more money for a product of a lesser quality (and obviously with no extras). Listening to music is all about appreciating the beauty of sound and voice. It is not simply listening like what many people have been doing. Beauty will be lost when it is not appreciated and so will good music if it's abandoned jut to make room for something more convenient but inferior.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

NEW HIJRI YEAR 1433H

As we observe the new Hijri year, let us reflect earnestly on the past, stay firmly on the present and look positively towards the future. May Allah s.w.t. forgive our countless sins, and bless us with continuous mercy and endless favours. Ameen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

LET'S KARAOKE 20 : THE WEATHER GIRLS - IT'S RAINING MEN

The rainy season is here and I think it's only appropriate if I feature a karaoke that is somewhat related to the wet weather. 1982. That was the year when this song came out. Totally from another time and another place (to some it might even be from another planet or dimension). Back then, I could not even understand why the song was titled 'It's Raining Men'. I had heard of raining 'cats and dogs' but definitely not 'men'. Yup, it totally boggled me. Yet, this song has endured and survived. A classic club staple, this song has become some sort of a gay anthem, women's anthem or whatever anthem you want it to be. One thing for sure, a spin from the DJ's booth will never fail to draw people to the dance floor. The song itself is fun, campy and infectious. It has been covered by Gerry Halliwell for the movie 'Bridget Jones's Diary', RuPaul and the Australian girl group, Young Divas. Still, nothing beats the original. The Weather Girls (or 'Two Tons O' Fun' as they were originally known) took this song to the top of the US Dance Hot Club Play in October 1982 and I'm pretty sure that it wasn't even raining then!

p/s 1 This is my 20th karaoke post so let's celebrate!

p/s 2 I have replaced one word with H.........! since some people might find it inappropriate to use a term that has a religious connotation.

p/s 3 And last but not least, be extra careful during this rainy season and don't let small children play outside without adult supervision. This public message is brought to you by elixiroflove.blogspot.com.

The single's cover

video

Hi. Hi!
We're your Weather Girls. Ah-huh
And have we got news for you. You better listen!

Get ready, all you lonely girls
And leave those umbrellas at home. Alright!

Humidity is rising
Barometer's getting low
According to our sources
The street's the place to go
Cause tonight for the first time
Just about half-past ten
For the first time in history
It's gonna start raining men

It's raining men! H.........!
It's raining men! Amen!
I'm gonna go out to run and let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet!
It's raining men! H.........!
It's raining men! Every Specimen!
Tall, blonde, dark and lean

Rough and tough and strong and mean

God bless Mother Nature
She's a single woman too
She took from the heavens
And she did what she had to do
She taught every angel to rearrange the sky
So that each and every woman could find her perfect guy

It's raining men
! H.........!
It's raining men! Amen!
It's raining men! H.........!
It's raining men! Ame---------nnnn!

I feel stormy weather moving in
About to begin
Hear the thunder
Don't you lose your head
Rip off the roof and stay in bed

God bless Mother Nature
She's a single woman too
She took off to heaven

And she did what she had to do
She taught every angel to rearrange the sky
So that each and every woman could find her perfect guy
It's Raining Men! Yeah!

Humidity is rising
Barometer's getting low
According to our sources
The street's the place to go
Cause tonight for the first time
Just about half-past ten
For the first time in history
It's gonna start raining men

It's raining men! H.........!
It's raining men! Amen!
It's raining men! H.........!
It's raining men!

Monday, November 21, 2011

SEA GAMES XXVI 2011 - SOCCER FINAL

Congratulations, Malaysia. We won. Despite everything that we had to endure in the land of our own brothers and sisters.

Friday, November 18, 2011

BENETTON'S UNHATE CONTROVERSIAL ADS

The world's problems are not equivalent to the petty quibbles that we usually have at home. When Benetton suggests in their latest advertising campaign that political and world leaders literally (or is it figuratively?) kiss and make up, it is IMO such a stupid thing to do. On the contrary, it might only fuel more animosity and resentment among us. I won't soil my blog by putting up the images from the campaign. There is nothing artistic about them especially when those images have been manipulated and tampered with. I cannot imagine having my own photos photoshopped and put up for all to see without my consent. I don't understand why Benetton had to come up with those pictures. Weren't there any sensible people working in the ad and marketing department anymore? The company used to come up with colourful images depicting people of different races, ethnic groups and walks of life wearing their clothing. Those images are beautiful, colourful, pleasing, non-controversial and non-political (some contain nudity, of course). There is nothing (too) provocative or disrespectful about them and yet the message is clear. Benetton has clearly crossed the line this time and instead of promoting UNHATE, they have only managed to show how UNCOUTH they can be.

p/s Don't you simply love these colourful and happy images?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

ALBUM COVERS INSPIRED BY ART AND OTHER SOURCES - PART II

Lucille Handberg - Tornado

Deep Purple - Stormbringer

Siouxsie & The Banshees - Tinderbox

Auguste Rodin - Eternal Idol

Black Sabbath - The Eternal Idol

Henri Rousseau - The Snakecharmer

Fleetwood Mac- Tango In The Night

Man Ray - Tears

Cyndi Lauper - What's Going On

Charles Allan Gilbert - All Is Vanity

The Damned - Stretcher Case Baby

Def Leppard - Retro-Active

Saturday, November 12, 2011

SITI NURHALIZA - FALLING IN LOVE

Love the concept of flash mob in the video but I still feel that something is missing. Anyway, enjoy it!

video

Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11

Special? Of course it is special since everyday is special. More so because it's a Friday and there is a full moon tonight!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

HERO THE CAT

There is nothing new about this story since many bloggers have already written about it. Still, I feel a deep sense of obligation to dedicate a short entry for this special cat. I'm pretty sure many have heard or read about 'Hero', the cat whose front legs were amputated simply for stealing food from a restaurant. Until now, I can't even look at any picture of Hero without feeling sad and mad at the same time. Sad to know that he has to live like that for the rest of his life and mad at the person who did that to him. Hero might not be a pedigree cat of distinguished breed but he is still one of God's creatures and he deserves to live like anyone of us. So how can a person be so heartless and so cruel to inflict such inhumane punishment for such a petty crime committed by a hungry stray cat? I guess we will never know the answer to that question but I know one thing for sure. One fine day, the person who did what he did to Hero will receive what he truly deserves. Call it anything you want to. Karma. Payback. Divine retribution. Whatever it is, there is simply no way that he can get away with it. When the day comes, there is no where that he can hide. To the person who saved Hero, I can say that you are truly blessed for having a loving heart. May Allah bless you and your family.

Monday, November 7, 2011

WHITNEY HOUSTON AND SPARKLE

I have always loved stories about people who find strength and inspiration in times of trouble. Human stories like these usually warm the weary heart and give hope to the tired soul. Everyone knows about Whitney Houston's past troubles and now, my favourite singer is back in action to reprise the role of Effie in the movie remake of Sparkle. The original version was released in 1976 and stars Irene Cara (of Fame fame) and Philip Michael Thomas (of Miami Vice fame). Well, some of you might be too young to know who Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas are but let me tell you this. They were once big names in the entertainment industry especially in the 80s. In this movie, Whitney will play the role of mother to Sparkle (played by Jordin Sparks) and her two sisters. Not much is known about the progress of the movie so far but there is already a lot of buzz about the movie which is currently being filmed in Detroit. A few pictures of Whitney and the cast have also surfaced on the Internet and I have to admit that Whitney looks really good. I know there is going to be a soundtrack for the movie and I hope there will be a few songs from Whitney as well. The story is set in the 60s so expect to see a lot of retro and vintage stuff.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SHARIFAH AINI : REMASTERED AND RE-RELEASED

I'm glad that a few of Sharifah Aini's old albums have been released in CD form. Hmmn, I wonder if there is any possibility of EMI coming up with a box set containing all her albums (EPs, LPs, soundtracks, collaborations, compilations et cetera, et cetera, et cetera). After all, she has remained loyal to the same recording company throughout her illustrious career which spans more than four decades (and we are still counting). Without a doubt, she is a living legend and a national treasure. Not only is she an extraordinary singer but also an award-winning actress and a productive lyricist. She has been in the industry longer than Sheila Majid and Francissca Peter have and yet, the latter have their own box sets. Like any other singers, she also has her own legion of loyal fans who are more than willing to buy her box set. She deserves to have her own box set and I'm pretty sure that many of her loyal fans will agree with me. Everybody knows that EMI Malaysia is no longer active but I think EMI Music Publishing Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. still keeps an office here. I'm sure they can do something about it, right? It will be such a waste if her complete music catalogue is not published for the public to treasure and appreciate.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

C4N YOU R34D TH15 M3554G3?

1 F0UND TH15 0N TH3 1NT3RN3T

TH15 M3554G3
53RV35 TO PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5
C4N D0 4M4Z1NG TH1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 TH1NG5! 1N TH3
B3G1NN1NG 1T WA5 H4RD BUT NOW,
ON TH15 LIN3 YOUR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 1T
4UT0M4T1C4LLY W1TH OUT 3V3N
TH1NK1NG 4B0UT 1T, B3 PROUD!
0NLY C3RT41N P30PL3
C4N R3AD TH15.

Monday, October 24, 2011

مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي‎

Put politics and everything else aside. مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي is like any of us ; a mere human being and most importantly, a Muslim. May الله forgive all his sins and our sins too. Al-Fatihah.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

PLANNING A MARRIAGE


A good friend of mine is courting a girl whom he is planning to get engaged to soon and he asked me why I never showed any interest in his relationship (sounds like I'm quite a busybody, huh?). We have often told each other about a lot of personal things (including some really sinful ones!) and he was quite perplexed with my almost nonchalant behaviour. Well, there are a few things that I will never interfere with and one of them is other people's relationships. I've learned from painful past experiences never to try to get between two lovers (sounds a bit dirty I know). People who are in love are totally a different species to me. They don't normally function like normal people. They eat, drink and breathe love. In addition to living in their own private world (or heaven to them), they are also much more sensitive to criticisms regarding their relationship. It is difficult for them to see the flaws in their relationship and each other. Everything is perfect and rose-tinted. Any negative comments or remarks from friends will only bring about a soured friendship. As for me, I will only voice my opinions when I know for sure that something is not right and I will only do that to a few selected friends. Even then, I have to be careful how I'm going to make sure my opinions are known to them. One wrong word and that might be the end of a friendship. I have always believed in couples discovering each other (sounds dirtier I know) at their own pace and without any interference. The courting period is the right time for them to find out more about the other half without any outside influences (though I know there are many people out there who put up a different personality when they are dating but that's a different story anyway). My friend is really serious about this girl and I know how apprehensive he is at times. He wonders if he is making the right decision at the right time with the right person. He is planning his marriage not his wedding. To a certain extent, he is planning his life and future. All I can do is to give him all the support that he needs when he needs it. I will not volunteer any opinion or suggestion since I believe he knows what he wants. He is capable of making his own decisions and being responsible for them. As for me, I am going to watch from afar and hope that he gets everything his heart desires.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A CAT STORY II : THE CAT FROM NEXT DOOR

This is another story taken from "Collected Cat Stories" by Stella Whitelaw.

It was so undignified and that's what really got Herbie about living with the ever-expanding Robinson family. Sometimes he felt he must have been delivered in a Christmas stocking, gift-warapped, but far more durable than the other playthings.

He knew if he saw six-year-old Katy donning her nurse's outfit then he was due for a blanket bath, and that meant being swathed in towels and ignominiously anointed with water. It meant having his face and ears washed which he particularly detested, but for the sake of Katy's gentle crooning and cuddling, he put up with these atrocities.

Eight-year old Jane had thought up a torture of a different kind. He suffered being dressed in a matinee jacket, long nightie and bootees with a satin-ribboned bonner flattening his ears. He endured being ridden up and down the road in the basket on the front of her bicycle. This was far worse than being pushed in the pram, because at least in the pram he could take a nose a nose drive down to the foot of the cover and leave only his tail showing, whipping the pillow.

But in the bicycle basket, he was exposed to public glare and comment. He could not even have a good scratch. At the first sign of a slackening of Jane's attention, he would leap out on to the pavement, fly through gardes and across the fields to a secret place where he would hide long enough to divest himself of the hated garments.

This went on until Jane ran out of baby clothes.

Thomas, two years her senior and lanky with it, had a habit of putting Herbie on the top of doors. Just why, Herbie did not have the slightest idea. One minute he would be curled up happily on some abandoned school blazer, then...whoop s! He would find himself being born aloft by Thomas and deposited on the top edge of an open door, scratching and clawing to gain a balance. Once there he could remain lying along the edge with complete indifference until rescued by some adult Robinson.

Herbie was a Bi-coloured Shorthair. He could be described as a black cat with white splodges or a white cat with black splodges. It depended on the angle of viewing which colour was predominant. He had a small, alert face with intelligent eyes and neat ears. No one was quite sure of his age. He came sort of before Katy and after Jane. His birthday was celebrated on the date of the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June, when he was encouraged in vain to blow out the candles on a nice piece of cod fillet and all day it was cream, cream, cream in his saucer.

He ate well with the Robinsons. They were always saying he was the only cat in Great Britain who got meals on wheels. This was because Grandma Robinson was to old to have new teeth fitted, and anything she fancied but couldn't manage went into his bowl. Herbie was game to try anything from trifle to spaghetti bolognese. He was not fussy.

Herbie loved boxes. They were his all-consuming passion. He would get into any box, trying it out for size. He would investigate the depths of paper bags, plastic carriers, handbags, suitcases, typewriter lids...you name it, he would get into it.

When the crates arrived he was delighted and curious. But when he made a few tentative forays, there were immediate shrieks of 'Mind the china!' 'Off that linen!' 'Help, that one's full of glasses!' and eventually, 'Will someone put Herbie out, please?'

So Herbie sat in the garden and watched. There were no blanket baths and bicycle rides these days. Everyone was so busy. He did not quite understand what was going on.

One morning the Robinsons assembled outside with bags and parcels and he was being passed round for hugs and wet kisses. It was all very messy and he still did not understand what was happening. He hoped it didn't mean that he was going down the road. Several of his elderly friends had told him that hugs and wet kisses meant going down the road and not coming back.

So Herbie was quite relieved when it was evident that the Robinsons were not intending to put him in the car as well as all their family and their mountain of luggage. He rubbed his head against Katy's new ankle socks to show that he forgave her all the medical ministrations.

'We don't really want to leave him behind, but what else can we do?' said Mrs Robinson. 'One is always hearing about cats that walk back to their old homes and how could Herbie cope with all that ocean? We're so grateful for your kind offer.'

'Shall I have a new kitten in Australia?' asked the fickle Jane.

'Of course, darling.'

'Don't worry, Mrs Robinson. I'll look after Herbie for you,' said a new, sweet young voice. 'He'll be perfectly all right with us. I'm sure he'll soon get used to us and we'll take great care of him.'

Katy wept more water all over Herbie's ears. 'Goodbye, darling Herbie,' she whispered. 'I'll never forget you, never, never, never...'

It was very disturbing, and then amid a great deal of noise the Robinsons drove off, leaving Herbie and he sweet voiced young woman on the front lawn. He looked at her, wondering what was going to happen next. She was very young and quite tall. He hoped she was not going to put him on top of doors. She regarded him a little uncertainly , her fairish hair brushing her cheek like a breeze stirring a cobweb in the moonlight.

'Come along,' she said, trying to sound brisk. 'You live next door now.'

He did not move for two reasons. Firstly he did not know what next door meant, and secondly h was a mite worried about th door bit. Chrissie picked him up carefully and gave him a few little pats. 'Come along,' she said, again, more cheerfully. ' This way...'

The net door house was joined on to the Robinson's house and it was exactly the same, except that it was all the other way around. He discovered that Chrissie and Alan Marshall were newly-weds, that they lived in empty rooms and went out all day. It was very strange. Sometime Herbie thought he had gone deaf.

It was an odd house. There was nothing to jump on, knock over, hid behind, sit on, scratch at, sniff at, trample on or investigate. Most of the time Herbie sat in the middle of the kitchen floor, polite and distance, grooming himself and slightly nauseated by the pervading smell of paint. He missed the Robinsons and all the noise and activity. He missed being talked to and included as part of the family.

'Herbie doesn't seem very happy,' said Chrissie for the hundredth time. 'He behaves like a visitor.'

'Perhaps we ought to show him around,' Alan suggested. 'That might make him feel at home.'

'It's very difficult when you've never had a cat before,' said Chrissie. 'I never know what to do.'

'Don't worry, darling. They are very independent creatures, aloof and stand-offish. It's probably just his way.'

Alan hoisted Herbie off the floor and carried him up the stairs. He flung open the first door with a flourish.

'Now, this is the spare room,' he announced, putting Herbie down on the lino. Herbie was amazed. It had been impossible to move in the Robinson's spare room when they had one. It had always looked like a central sorting depot for Oxfam. But this spare room was totally without interest... he prodded the two tennis rackets with some apprehension.

'Careful, old chap,' admonished Alan. He steered Herbie out of the spare room and into the next room. 'And this is our bedroom. We sleep here,' he added unnecessarily.

Herbie made a flying leap on to the rose-patterned duvet. It sank most satisfyingly, but before he had even done half a turn, Chrissie had whisked him off again.

'Sorry,' he said. 'Not on the bed.'

'He was not allowed on the two armchairs either, or on the draining board, or in Chrissie's shopping basket, or in the linen cupboard or under the television set. So he took to staying in the middle of the kitchen floor, quiet and withdrawn, sometimes pretending to be asleep or watching a bee buzz against a window-pane trying to get in.

The garden was immaculate and everything was in measured rows. Herbie learned to tread carefully. He found it hard to stalk tigers in an organised jungle of Tom Thumb lettuces, or scare birds who were already wary of all the flapping labels.

The best spot was the greenhouse, baking warm and out of the draught. But Alan was growing grass in trays and kept shutting Herbie out.

'Shoo... mind the cuttings. Off my seedlings, old boy.'

Herbie lost weight despite the fact that the Marshalls were kind to him and fed him. But Herbie's heart began to fail when he saw Chrissie reaching yet again for the tin opener. He longed for a bit of fruit cake and some cold cocoa.

He made one visit to the Robinson's old house but never again. A horrible sloppy dog with ears hanging down like soup plates had moved in. Herbie shuddered and kept to his side of the fence.

Sometimes he sat on the pavement outside and watched people go by on bicycles and in cars. One young woman with red-streaked hair always stopped and stroked him, knowing the special place under his chin just above where his purr started.

Sometimes he followed children along the road, but he was afraid to go far. He was less trusting than he used to be. Especially after the field-mouse episode. He had only meant it as a gift for Chrissie. It was such a tiny thing and was paralysed with terror. Yet Chrissie had shrieked as if being attacked by a rampaging bull elephant. Herbie simply did not understand her and brought no more gifts.

The situation improved somewhat when Chrissie stopped going out every day. She started to sing around the house and that was rather nice. However, although she sat around quite a lot Herbie was never invited on to her lap. He now learned that he must not sit on her sewing or try to get into her knitting bag. The tennis rackets were moved into the back of the broom cupboard and some furniture was delivered for the spare room. Alan began hammering in the evenings and Herbie watched the shelves going up with interest.

'Off you come, Herbie. They won't take your weight,' said Alan, lifting him down.

'He's just testing,' said Chrissie with new perception.

Alan kissed her tenderly.

'Funny girl,' he said, ruffling her hair.

One day a new smell arrived in the house. Herbie recognised it immediately. It was the thin, sweet smell of milk. Something stirred and breathed in the pram parked in the hallway, and made small mewing sounds.

Herbie pricked up his ears. Surely it was not another cat? He stood up on his back legs and peered in, but the mesh of the cat-net obscured whatever lay under the mound of blankets.

'Say hello to Timmy,' said Chrissie, picking Herbie up with a growing confidence. It was the first time that Herbie had felt safe and not about to be dropped. He trembled slightly with a small rush of emotion.

Now the improvements began to accelerate at a rate of knots. Chrissie left things on the floor and was far too busy to notice if Herbie sat on them. All sorts of boxes and pails and bins began to appear in the kitchen.

'What on earth shall I do with this cereal?' Chrissie wailed one breakfast time. 'Timmy won't touch it.'

'Give it to the cat,' said Alan.

Baby cereal! One of Herbie's favourites. His rough little tongue could hardly lap it up for purring. Then at teatime it was marmite soldiers dropped all over the floor in various stages of squashed disintegration.

'Oh, you are a messy baby,' said Chrissie, hurrying to clear up, but Herbie was there before her. It seemed like years since he'd had a marmite soldier.

The baby soon began to crawl and then there wasn't a thing Chrissie could do about life at floor level. It became a glorious landscape of wooden bricks, round-eyed ducks, chewed crusts, lost shoes, sticky spoons and a fat yellow teddy bear who kept falling. Herbie sat amid the chaos, keeping an eye on the baby, keeping his claws sheathed an never getting in the way. He was still rather like a visitor.

One afternoon Chrissie was sewing while her baby played on the floor with some empty cotton reels. Herbie was sunning himself by the window when through half an eye he saw the baby reaching up towards the flex of a reading lamp.

No one really knew whether he remembered the occasion when Katy Robinson did the same thing and brought the whole contraption crashing down on her head, but in a split second Herbie leaped off the windowsill and sent the baby back on his bottom on the carpet. The baby howled in surprise and one chubby fist shot out and grabbed at Herbie's long waving tail.

It hurt. It hurt very much. Herbie was almost transfixed with pain. He dug his claws into the carpet.

Then Chrissie was down on her knee, scolding the baby, hugging Herbie. Or was it hugging the baby and scolding Herbie? It did not really matter for Herbie's heart was leaping up into a joyful rumble of happiness.

For in that moment Herbie had looked into Timmy's eyes, and had seen a faint but unmistakable vision of blanket baths, and bicycle rides and door tops, and perhaps even worse. But it meant Herbie had a home. The move was complete. Next door had become home. At last.
THE END

Saturday, October 15, 2011

LET'S KARAOKE 19 : KYLIE MINOGUE - I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY

Long before she became the sex kitten (à la Brigitte Bardot) she is known for today, she was just another soap opera actress in the Australian television series 'Neighbours'. When she made her debut on the music scene (singing a cover of Little Eva's Locomotion), her image was that of the typical next door girl; young, sweet and somewhat demure. As her lucky stars would have it, her second single 'I Should Be So Lucky' moved to the top of the charts in 1988 and there was no more looking back for her after that. This is a very catchy song (it sounds very dated now, of course). Most of the time, I don't even listen to (or sing) the words properly. The phrase 'I should be so lucky' is repeatedly sung throughout the song; thus making the other parts of the lyrics seemingly unimportant. There is another version of the video clip (from an Australian TV special I think) which shows Kylie riding in the back of a convertible BMW and sporting a very 80s ensemble (big hair, big shoulder pads, big belt). Well, if you think you should be lucky, maybe you could try singing this one for a change.

The single's cover

video

In my imagination
There is no complication
I dream about you all the time
In my mind a celebration
The sweetest of sensation
Thinking you could be mine

In my imagination
There is no hesitation
We walk together hand in hand
I'm dreaming
You fell in love with me
Like I'm in love with you
But dreaming's all I do
If only they'd come true

I should be so lucky

Lucky, lucky, lucky
I should be so lucky in love
I should be so lucky
Lucky, lucky, lucky
I should be so lucky in love

It's a crazy situation
You always keep me waiting
Because it's only make believe
And I would come a-running
To give you all my loving
If one day you would notice me

My heart is close to breaking
And I can't go on faking
The fantasy that you'll be mine

I'm dreaming
That you're in love with me
Like I'm in love with you
But dreaming's all I do
If only they'd come true

I should be so lucky
Lucky, lucky, lucky
I should be so lucky in love
I should be so lucky
Lucky, lucky, lucky
I should be so lucky in love

I should be so lucky (so lucky, so lucky)
I should be so lucky
I, I, (I, I)
I should be so lucky (so lucky, so lucky)
I should be so lucky

I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I

In my imagination
There is no hesitation
We walk together hand in hand
I'm dreaming
You fell in love with me
Like I'm in love with you
But dreaming's all I do
If only they'd come true

I should be so lucky
Lucky, lucky, lucky
I should be so lucky in love
I should be so lucky
Lucky, lucky, lucky
I should be so lucky in love

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SITI NURHALIZA - ALL YOUR LOVE


I have always admired Siti Nurhaliza and how she has managed to come so far in the music industry. I can't say that I am an ardent fan of hers but a few of my friends are totally crazy about her. They will feel very offended if something bad is said about their favourite singer and will go all out to defend her. The release of Siti's English album did pique my interest and it has been a while since she made an impact on the local music scene. Is the album any good and is it worth buying? Well, I believe if you can sing well, you can sing almost anything in any language. To tell the truth, the whole album is not really that bad. Actually, it's pretty impressive and I do like most of the songs especially the more upbeat ones. I'm quite sure none will ever chart on the Billboard Top 100 (you know how 'racist' the US Billboard can be towards non-American singers) but with heavy airplay/promotion/video rotation, anything is possible. Despite cruel criticisms by some people, I think Siti deserves a pat on her back. She has released an album that I believe can satisfy her fans and the general buyers. Her voice is very clear (there is no indication of Autotune being used to enhance her voice) and it is real easy to understand her pronunciation. She doesn't try to affect any accent or diction that can make her sound fake and pretentious. She is just like many other singers out there whose first language is not English. Her diction, pronunciation and accent are results of her surroundings, upbringing and various other factors (just listen to Celine Dion, Shakira, Julio Iglesias and Jamaican reggae singers). We don't have to be ashamed of what or who we are and I believe Siti is not trying to be American, British or Australian. She is simply a Malay Malaysian singer who sings in English. The music suits her singing voice and the music arrangement does not make her singing become secondary. I also find delightful traces and elements of ethnic music throughout the whole album. The artwork for the album is also a big departure from her previous albums. It's vibrant, colourful and cheerful. All in all, I would say that this is definitely not a cheap album to produce. The mastering was done in Australia and LA and the inclusion of international producers/musicians clearly indicates that she is roping in other talents as well. For the CD cover and inlays, Siti wears quite a number of designer stuff. Zara, Hermès, Cavalli, Max Mara, Etienne Aigner, Diane von Furstenberg and YSL (I'm sure everything is hers and not on loan). I wish that Siti had not totally depended on the few writers and lyricists who contributed to the album. It makes the album too one-dimensional actually. I also wish she had included a few remixes (for the clubs) and instrumentals (for me to sing karaoke of course). On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this album an 8 1/2 (and that is because there are no remixes or instrumentals).

p/s I know that I won't get anything from promoting this album but please buy the original CD, okay? It's really dirt cheap at only RM 29.90. Let's give a bit of all your love (and support) for her. Who knows you might be falling in love with her...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

GOODBYE ARISTA


After 36 years, it's time to close shop. Goodbye Arista. R.I.P. You will be missed.

ALBUM COVER COLLAGE

Found this on somebody's website somewhere. Totally brilliant in my opinion. Love them, love them, love them! Christian Marclay, the brain behind this form of art, overlapped LP and CD covers to create these interesting images.

Behind closed doors...

Marilyn Manson and the Brazilian Girls on the way to Nirvana from Holywood?

Michael Jackson would have been thrilled (not) to see this!

No! No! No! No! Dont phunk with my album cover.

Donna Summer loves to love Eric Clapton's slow hand. Or is it Arthur H's?

U2 feels it is right leaving Bon Jovi behind.

Take a bow(ie).

It's your choice if you want to go AC/DC.

Vincent Capretta is not looking back since he's got money.