Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014 - LET'S KARAOKE 29: SURVIVOR - EYE OF THE TIGER

Happy 2014, everyone! I'll be ushering the new year with a 'roar' but don't expect me to post that Katy Perry song for my yearly karaoke. This time, I'm going back in time (32 years to be exact) and I'll be featuring Survivor's Eye Of The Tiger. This is the theme song for 'Rocky III' starring Sylvester Stallone and it climbed to the top of the Billboard chart in July 1982. It is, without a doubt, a great rock song. Often used at various events to rouse the audience, it reminds me that a lot of things depend on us. Only we can change our life and fate. Nobody else willl go the distance to help us if we don't help ourselves first. Of course, no man is an island who can survive on his own without depending on others but we need to keep in mind that it is always us who have to make the first move and persevere until the end if we want something real bad. Happy New Year!

The single's cover


Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance
Now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry
They stack the odds
Still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger

Risin' up straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance
Now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger

The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger

2013 ROUND-UP (2009, 2010, 2011 AND 2012 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 has been recycled four times already. I wonder if the same thing is going to happen next year...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BY THE RIVERSIDE 4

I used to go to this village when I was small, accompanying my parents whenever my cousin had a 'kenduri jijak tanah' for her children. My cousin is married into a Rao family that still practises this age-old tradition and for those those who don't know, let me explain briefly what 'jijak tanah' is all about. It is actually a ritual when a baby (usually when the baby is one year old or has started walking) can finally walk and step on 'real soil'. There will be certain 'accessories' that have to be prepared before this ritual takes place such as flowers of different types and colours (yellow is a must), bertih, beras kunyit, ibu kunyit, soil and a few others that I have forgotten. The house that belongs to my cousin's mother-in-law is located behind a small river that goes under the main road to Cameron Highlands. My cousin was back a few days ago and as usual, she would call my Mum. My Mum was the one who took care of my cousin and her older sister when they were small after their mother passed away. Actually, my cousin had been asking me and my siblings many times to take a look at a piece of land that belongs to my Mum and to do something about it since my Mum's property is adjacent to hers. Without much planning, I called my friend, FooArt and asked him if he would like to accompany us to my cousin's mother-in-law's place. FooArt who had earlier decided not to go to work on that day excitedly agreed to come with us. I tried to call my cousin a few times to inform her about our visit but could not reach her at all. I assumed that she was at her 'kebun' where there was no reception so I decided to go on with my plan. I was pretty sure that her mother-in-law would be at home. We arrived around 1.00 p.m. and luckily, she had just gotten back from her 'kebun' (just like I thought). Leaving my Mum to chat with my cousin, FooArt and I went to look around. The scenery really took my breath away. The village is still beautiful as ever and there is a certain air of peace and tranquility surrounding it. The river bank has also been fortified with big rocks (I think the whole thing is called revetment but I can be wrong) to prevent soil erosion. We crossed the small river which was really cool and refreshing to get to the other side. I really wish I had brought my shorts with me so I could really get in the water without worrying whether my clothes would get wet or not. Too bad I had forgotten them. Otherwise, I would have been splashing in the water! The visit was short but memorable and I'm going to make sure there is going to be another visit (a longer one of course) in the near future.
 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

1 MUHARRAM 1435H

Today is the 1st of Muharram 1435H, the first day in the Muslim calendar and it's a holiday too here. To keep the good vibes going, I tried to do as many things as possible. It's definitely not a day of leisure day for me. To some people, I might not be doing anything at all but we all live different lives, right?. So here are the 'useful' things that I did today:

1. Went to the market in the morning. Could not find a spot where I usually parked my car so I had to drive around for a while before I found one. The market was buzzing but most of the fishmongers were 'on leave' today. Luckily, I still have enough fish in my freezer. Bought some red and green chillies, anchovies, coconut milk, parsley, green onions and some veggies.
2. Washed and hung out my laundry to dry including the curtains that I took home from my workplace. It wasn't that sunny this morning and I was truly hoping that it was not going to rain today. It did drizzle a little bit later in the evening but I had already taken all my laundry and the curtains in at that time.
3. Washed the veggies that I bought at the market and stored them properly in the refrigerator. Prepared lunch for me and my Mum. 'Gulai lemak ketam' for her and 'ikan bawal masak cuka' for me. No veggie dish since I put cucumber in the 'masak cuka'. Not forgetting my Mum's favourite dish at the moment : crispy fried anchovies with lots and lots of shallots and chillies.
4. Sat and talked with my Mum while she was having her lunch. I had already taken a very heavy breakfast so I did not feel like eating at all. Made sure that she took her pills after lunch.
5. Mopped the whole living room and sprayed some lemon-scented air freshener. Should have bought some fresh flowers this morning at the market though.
6. Went to the car service centre to have the mechanic look at my car. There is a slight vibration on the gas pedal and it's probably nothing at all but small things like that can really make me paranoid. Was told that everyone was busy at the centre at that time and somebody will be coming to my house later to get the car. It looks like I have to walk to work tomorrow morning but it's going to be good exercise for me anyway.
7. Went to the vet to check on my tomcat with FooArt. 'Hitam' had been missing for a few months and when he came back during the Eid celebration, he had cuts all over his body. His sporotrichosis is quite severe and he is going to stay at the vet for another week before I can take him home. He was pretty excited and kept meowing when I came to see him. He looks better now and his appetite has definitely come back. The cuts are healing well but recovery is going to be slow. 
8. Ate a piece of chapati which was quite nice while FooArt had a very late lunch.
9. Went to the ATM to send some money to this guy from whom I'm buying some CD singles. Can hardly wait for the CDs to arrive since I'm planning to make some new karaokes using the instrumentals. This time, I'm planning to do 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' by Savage Garden.
10. Went to the pharmacy to buy a few things which I do not want to mention here.
11. CoCo and Yen came over for a while. CoCo looked a bit worn-out and Yen was engrossed with his 'we-chat', as usual.
12. Did some ironing and was only halfway through when CoCo called to ask me and my Mum out for dinner. He said that he was craving for some seafood.
13. Went for a very lovely dinner with my Mum and CoCo. While waiting for the food to arrive, I went to check out this new restaurant serving hot chicken wings. The wings do look good on the menu so maybe, I can try them later.
14. Went back home and started this post.
14. Gave my other four cats some light 'supper' before going to bed.

So that's how my day went and so far, no unnecessary drama at all. Hopefully, I will be able to get a good night sleep since there will be lots of things that I have to do at work tomorrow. I pray the year 1435H will be as smooth-sailing as today and I will try to be better in everything that I do. InsyaAllah,

Monday, October 28, 2013

HI Y'ALL!

Remember me? It's been a while since I last updated this blog and boy, do I feel guilty neglecting it. But so many things have been happening since my last post and I just did not have the time and desire to write anything at all. I did not even post my 'Hari Raya' greeting like I usually did for the past few years. I have been in the 'slow' mode for the past couple of months and I won't go into details why I left this blog in limbo. To tell the truth, I still want to keep this blog and I still want to share a few things with those who come to visit it. I admit that this blog is one of the avenues where I can pour my heart out though I realise that I am not that bold when it come to expressing my feelings and emotions publicly. I still have this fear that I might regret what I have posted. I know there are a lot of people out there who will simply write whatever that they feel and think but I am not them and I can never be them. As I have written before this, there are many things that I would rather keep to myself. I will still be posting from time to time but I don't know how frequent that will be. In the meantime, I will willingly go with the flow and see where the tide will take me...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

AT MY FATHER'S GRAVE 2013

I went to visit my father's grave yesterday morning; a pre-Eid ritual that I have been doing for the past few years without fail. The area has been cleared and most of the old rubber trees have been cut, making the whole area look much more spacious and open. Nobody was there when I arrived with my friend, CoCo. We did not even talk much when we were there. I went straight to where my father was laid to rest and CoCo went to his mother's grave which was also nearby. The dried rubber leaves were scattered all over, making the whole burial ground look a little bit untidy. Luckily for me, there was a rake standing against an old rubber tree. I started raking the leaves and collecting the broken twigs which had fallen down. It was a really fine day. The sun was shining brightly and I could feel the gentle breeze blowing. The area surrounding my father's grave looked so much cleaner and tidier after I had completed my task. I also cleared the leaves and grass around the other graves nearby. Some of them looked as if they had not been visited for quite sometime. I wonder if I, too, would not have the time if I lived someplace else. I felt truly blessed I was able to do what I did. Abah, I know that you were there, watching over me as usual. You know how much I'm missing you and no words that can truly express the depth of my emotions. Al-Fatihah, Abah.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

RAMADHAN 1434H

It's the first day of Ramadhan and the weather is simply heavenly (at least, it is where I live). As I left for work this morning, it was drizzling a little bit and I consider that as a blessing coming from Allah the Almighty. It was only yesterday that the weather was scorching hot and suddenly, it took a different turn. This Ramadhan will be just like the previous Ramadhans for me and hopefully, better. I will be doing what I have always done during this holy month. Not much will change except for very few minor and usually unnoticeable positive steps. For the first few days, I will usually be less talkative and understandably, less active too. In fact, I might be looking slightly dazed and lethargic. It's not the absence of food or the drinks that will be responsible for that but it's the cigarettes. The withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe actually but I don't expect anybody to sympathise with me at all. Some might even be glad that I can't have a puff. On a deeper note, I can't express how grateful and thankful I am for all the blessings and good things that have been granted to me. I know there will be a few more unexpected good things which are in store for me. I absolutely can't complain much since I am indeed more fortunate compared to many others out there. Indeed, I am humbled. Just like before, again I am wishing for peace of mind, patience, humility, spiritual enlightenment and insightful wisdom. Let's hope that we will be able to observe this Ramadhan the way it should be.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BY THE RIVERSIDE 3

The old mosque where I went for Friday prayer during my primary school years was situated by the same river that I described in 'BY THE RIVERSIDE 1'. On Friday, before I went  the mosque I would head to the market area which was just next to the mosque. The 'Pasar Jumaat' would be on and there would be a lot of interesting things and food sold there. I would put my 'kain pelekat' and 'songkok lipat' in my bag (together with my school books of course) and off I would go to the 'Pasar Jumaat'. I always went alone and up until today, I have always preferred going out to certain places all by myself. A few years ago, the local authorities decided to relocate the old market to a new place quite far from town. Back then, FYI, the boys (Standard 1 until Form 3) wore shorts to school. Only the upper form students wore long pants. After I reached the mosque, I would immediately wear my 'kain pelekat' over my sexy short pants to cover my 'aurat'. When I reflect upon the whole thing, it seems quite funny to me. After I took my 'wuduk', I 'd go inside the mosque to find a place to sit. I always sat at the back row because I needed a place to put my school bag. I was afraid someone would take my bag if I left it outside. There was nothing truly valuable in that bag actually but the thought of losing it was unbearable for a schoolboy like me. Sometimes, I would go to the river bank where I could see many other boys around my age playing and horsing around in the water before prayer time. Nothing seemed to trouble them at all. There would also be a few adults taking their baths in the river but unlike the boys, they wore the 'supposedly' more decent 'kain basah' (most of the boys were in their briefs). Passing through the town a few weekends ago on my way to Bidor, I was shocked to see the old mosque beside the river was being torn down. I found out from the locals that a new mosque would be built at the same spot. It is supposed to be bigger, more modern and more comfortable to cater to the growing number of people who go there for prayers especially on Friday. On my way back, I stopped for a few minutes at the site of the old mosque to take a few pictures of the area. Everything was totally quiet and there was nobody around. I closed my eyes for a while and in my head, I could almost hear the splashing of water and shrieks of joy coming from the river...
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

HAZE! HAZE! GO AWAY!

The haze which has been enveloping many major towns and cities in Malaysia finally makes its way to my hometown. Unwelcome, of course. It was only last Friday when the weather was still beautiful and clear. However, everything turned the other way around as the weekend slowly came to an end. I was hoping the catch the 'Supermoon' on Sunday night but I was totally disappointed when all I could see was a blurry, reddish moon in the night sky. At this very moment, the hills behind the mosque across the road have totally disappeared from view. The sky is grey and the temperature has risen up a little bit. I have always detested hot weather since it tends to make me feel tired, sleepy and lazy (actually, I sweat like a pig under the hot sun but I like to blame my negative attributes on something that can't fight back). Anyway, before I digress, let me get back to the issue at hand here which is the haze. I know it is quite impossible to expect fine weather all the time but I also believe that there are a lot of things in this world which can be avoided and prevented especially when it comes to something extremely hazardous like the current haze situation. In finding the solution, the cause must first be identified. Co-operation, instead of finger-pointing, is essential in ensuring that no repetitions of such occurrences will take place ever again. At the same time, the right thing to do is to own up to one's mistakes and not be offended when others seek explanations. Be a little bit more open to suggestions and ideas. Unnecessary accusations also need to be avoided at all cost since they will only lead towards resentment, ill-feeling and bitterness among those involved. This is not the first time the haze situation has swept over this side of the world but it can be the last if proper actions and precautions are taken. Let's remember that when something like this happens, it affects not only a specific race, a certain country or a particular region. It affects all of us regardless of who we are and where we are.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LET'S KARAOKE 28 : WHITNEY HOUSTON - I HAVE NOTHING

This karaoke is in memory of the late Whitney Houston (she still remains one of my favourite singers until today). Taken from the movie 'The Bodyguard', this songs was released as the third single from the movie soundtrack album after two other consecutive worldwide hits, 'I Will Always Love You' and 'I'm Every Woman'. 'I Have Nothing' had been performed many times during Whitney's worldwide tours and various television appearances, with great reviews of course. The instrumental used for this karaoke is not official but it fits into the video quite well (I 'stole' it from somebody's youtube so please forgive the less than spectacular quality of the audio). I finally own this CD single (20 years after its initial release, can you believe that?) after I bought it through the Internet. I try to collect her CD singles whenever possible although they can cost me quite a fortune sometimes. There are many more that I don't have (especially the rarer ones from her first and second albums) and at the moment, I am still waiting for a few more to arrive in my mailbox. Personally, I think this is a great love song although I don't like the video clip that much (most of Whitney's video clips are quite bland and boring actually). This song is quite difficult to sing if you can't feel it and my advice to those who want to attempt it is simple : do it your own way and don't imitate Whitney's vocal styling.  

The single's cover


Share my life
Take me for what I am
'Cause I'll never change all my colors for you
Take my love
I'll never ask for too much
Just all that you are and everything that you do

I don't really need to look very much further
I don't want to have to go where you don't follow
I won't hold it back again, this passion inside
I can't run from myself
There's nowhere to hide

Don't make me close one more door
I don't wanna hurt anymore
Stay in my arms if you dare
Or must I imagine you there
Don't walk away from me
I have nothing, nothing, nothing
If I don't have you, you, you, you, you

You see through
Right to the heart of me
You break down my walls with the strength of your love
I never knew
Love like I've known it with you
Will a memory survive, one I can hold on to

I don't really need to look very much further
I don't want to have to go where you don't follow
I won't hold it back again, this passion inside
I can't run from myself
There's nowhere to hide
Your love I'll remember forever

Oh, don't make me close one more door
I don't wanna hurt anymore
Stay in my arms if you dare
Or must I imagine you there
Don't walk away from me
I have nothing, nothing, nothing

Don't make me close one more door
I don't wanna hurt anymore
Stay in my arms if you dare
Or must I imagine you there
Don't walk away from me, no
Don't walk away from me

Don't you dare walk away from me
I have nothing, nothing, nothing
If I don't have you, you
If I don't have you, oh you

Sunday, May 12, 2013

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY 2013!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BY THE RIVERSIDE 2

My late father's hometown was a small village by the Perak River in Teluk Intan. It was not far from town and my Mum would often tell me how she used to take the 'beca' to the market to buy groceries. When I was growing up, my family rarely went back to this village and as far as my memory can tell me, the river was always muddy and murky. I did not like the river much. In the eyes of a small kid like me, it looked more like a brown-coloured ocean rather than a river. It was deep in certain places and stories of crocodiles swarming the river were not uncommon either. My Mum and I took a trip down memory lane when we went for our weekend outing a few weeks ago (we don't go for long holidays anymore due to my Mum's thrice-weekly hemodialysis but we try to make it a point to go out as often as we can and enjoy our weekends). The sleepy old village is still there and remnants from the past can be seen here and there; indicating that it comes from another era and time. But a lot of things have changed too. The old house belonging to my late grandfather is long gone and in its place is a new house occupied by relatives on my late father's side. We did not drop by since we were on our way somewhere else (to find a good place to eat which can be quite difficult sometimes). However, we did stop for a few minutes at the jetty where a boat was waiting to take a few passengers to the other side of the river. The river is still muddy and murky like I remember it. And I believe the crocodiles are still there too. Everything looked totally alien to me and there was not much that I could remember. Only bits and pieces that popped out of my subconscious like fragments of a half-forgotten dream. I never really knew this place and now that so many ties with the past have been severed, I realise I probably never will... 
 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

IT'S FINALLY OVER

The polls are now officially closed. Let's take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Have a cup of coffee (or tea or whatever you fancy) and wait for the results with an open heart and an open mind. It's also the right time for a little bit of reflection and contemplation. Remember, life still has to go on tomorrow. إن شاء الله  everything will be all right.

Monday, April 29, 2013

BEYONCE AND ANDRÉ 3000'S BACK TO BLACK

I  went numb after hearing Beyonce and André 3000's version of the late Amy Winehouse's 'Back To Black' (which is from the soundtrack of 'The Great Gatsby', which is also another remake). The atrocious remake of one of my favourite songs was too much for me to take. There is no emotion and no depth in the delivery at all. It's cold and soulless especially when the song production is dominated by the heavily-synthesised downtempo bass sound. Trying to make the musical imagery much darker, more ominous, more hypnotising and more drugged-out than it originally is, I think. Well, to me the song fails big time. Totally different from Amy's version which can seep right into my heart's core. I am not going to hate on Beyonce and André but I feel it is downright shameful for a classic song to be butchered and ruined that way. I'm pretty sure many of Beyonce and André's fans will say that the new version is fantastic but let's be objective about the whole thing, okay? There is no doubt that Beyonce can sing but certain types of songs are not suitable for her. Songs that tell stories are best sung when the singers can relate to the stories. Amy was clearly conveying her emotions in 'Back To Black' and that's why you can 'feel' her soul. Beyonce was merely singing (if  her whispering can be called a form of singing) and she couldn't capture that feeling. She couldn't get herself down there, to the place where she should feel her lowest. And I don't even want to say anything about André 3000's rapping...

p/s As much as I love Whitney Houston, I have to admit that her version of 'You Light Up My Lie' does nothing to me compared to the original version by Debbie Boone.

Friday, April 19, 2013

COLOUR ME A DIFFERENT SHADE, PLEASE!

Colours play a very important role in our life. Certain colours can calm us and there are others which will irritate the hell out of us. To me, a colour is a colour. It's all a matter of preference since it's just another hue on the palette. However, it is sad and frustrating when certain colours are strongly associated with certain things and ideas. It's okay if the correlation is all positive but what if it's the other way around? I have always been partial to black and unfortunately a lot of negative images are associated with black. Black magic, black market, black sheep, black hat, black list, blackmail etc, etc, etc. I have always wondered who started the idea that a baby boy's room has to be blue and a girl's has to be pink. There are many boys (and men too) who like pink but unfortunately, they have to hide their preference due to society's perception and preconceived notion. Certain political parties and preferences are even associated with certain colours. The General Election is coming up and I can't even wear a certain shade of green or blue or red or yellow before hearing a certain smart aleck commenting on my colour choice. It is obviously superficial and absolutely not smart when a person is solely judged based on what is seen on the outside. The world might be heading in a new direction but if the mind remains static, we won't be moving anywhere at all.

p/s Maybe I should wear something transparent so as not to evoke any unwelcome comments from others. But then, it will probably evoke something else.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

BY THE RIVERSIDE 1

My childhood home was near a river and before the government began supplying piped water to homes, that river was the main source of water for the villagers. I know that it sounds so 'pre-historic' to a lot of people nowadays but that was the actual truth. My Mum would go to the river almost daily to wash our clothes. When the water level went down, my second youngest brother, my cousin and I would tag along. We would take some food and there, we would have our small picnic. There was nothing elaborate and fancy about the picnic. Usually, it would be 'jemput-jemput', simple 'nasi goreng' or 'kuih tepek' cooked by my Mum (I'll write about these 'delicacies' in another post later but don't count too much on it). There would be an instant sandy beach spread before our own very eyes, sometimes even stretching to the middle of the river. The adults could go from one side of the river to the other easily. The water was clean and cool. The surrounding was beautiful and peaceful. You could see the little fish swimming in the crystal-clear water. By the bank of the river, bamboo and 'sentul' trees grew abundantly. Sometimes we would collect the fallen 'sentul' fruits from the trees. Our favourite activities were building 'nests' for the freshwater prawns and competing who could dig the deepest hole on the beach. It was fun splashing and playing in the water but it would have been better if I knew how to swim. I never understood why floating and swimming was problematic for me until later. I had learned how to swim properly (unsuccessfully nevertheless) but since I have scoliosis, breathing under water and coordination can be quite difficult for me. FYI, scoliosis is curvature of the spine which can be quite severe in certain cases (More about scoliosis in another post if I have time). I've been back to the place where my childhood home was a few times and the area around the river is as beautiful and peaceful as ever. The 'sentul' trees are nowhere to be seen but the 'magic' is still in the air. I wish I could let go of all my inhibitions and start acting like a small kid again; frolicking in the cool water and doing silly things without a single care. But I guess that wish will always remain a wish...
 

Monday, April 8, 2013

THE VOID INSIDE

This is the eighth year since your passing and I should have gotten used to the fact that you are no longer around. Yet, I still feel empty and on certain days, totally hollow inside. I think about you almost every single day and it is especially hard when a lot of things around the house still remind me of you. As the one who is left behind, I am constantly surrounded by memories of you. Everywhere I turn, there will be something that will make my heart ache again. The lazy chair where you used to sit. Your clothes still neatly folded in the closet. Your pictures on the living room table. The flowers that you planted around the house. Your old watch that I wear to work every day. And the list goes on and on. The others have moved on, I think and I am glad that they have. They have their own lives to live plus a lot more to experience and see. Abah, I am still missing you. Much more than I can ever express. May your soul be blessed. Al Fatihah.

Friday, February 8, 2013

WHITNEY HOUSTON'S WAX FIGURES

I guess this will be the closest the fans of the late Whitney Houston will ever get to see her up-close. Four wax figures of the late singer which represent four different points of her illustrious career were specially commissioned by Madame Tussauds and each one of them will be displayed at different locations in the United States. I had often wondered why no efforts were made to have her wax figures made when she was still around especially during 'The Bodyguard' period. She was unjustifiably overlooked when other celebrities who are less famous and less popular have had at least one wax figure made. The pictures of the wax figures have been released all over the Internet and I have to say that there is only one of them that I truly like. The one in the tracksuit has too much make-up on her although her eyes look very real though. Anyone who saw the iconic 'Star-Spangled Banner' moment will know that Whitney was not wearing much make-up at that time. It is clearly an 'idealised' version of Whitney during that Super Bowl pre-game ceremony. The curly hair, bead earrings and light lavender tank dress on the second one are fabulous and but from the angle the picture was taken, something about her countenance is missing. It could be her upper lip which looks a little bit thin or it could be the eyes. The third one is not too bad actually except for the upper arms which look very strange to me. The last one is the only one I like. If I were given a chance to choose only one, this is the one that I would pick. It is iconic. It speaks of an era and time. It has an 'attitude'. It clearly stands out from the rest. I can definitely do without the first and the second. I'd rather have her figures copied either from the 'Greatest Love Of All' video (in which she wears a sequined dress and her hair combed from the nape up) or the 'It's Not Right But It's Okay' video (that pseudo S&M outfit is simply fierce!). I know I shouldn't be complaining too much since I know 'nada' about how these figures were constructed. All I know is they cost up to US$300,000 each. I also realise that there was a lot of work involved in constructing these figures but I can still have my opinion, can't I? As much as I admire the craftsmanship of these figures and also the efforts taken, I don't think I would like to be at the revealing of these figures if I were family. In fact, I wouldn't want to see them at all. It will be too eerie for me since they are of actual size and look very lifelike. It's almost like bringing back the dead when you know they are no longer around. Pictures and portraits are different since they are not three dimensional but not life-size sculptures and figures. Well, I guess some people do feel differently...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

LET'S KARAOKE 27 : BASIA - CRUISING FOR BRUISING

Basia might not be ruling the chart like other pop singers but her music is 1000 times much better than most of the garbage that I have to endure nowadays. For someone who is neither American nor British, I consider it a tremendous success for her to be part of the international music scene (she is Polish). I first saw her on television performing 'Time And Tide' on a late night show more than 23 years ago. I think it was 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' but my memory is a bit hazy here so I might be wrong. 'Cruising For Bruising' is more than 20 years old and yet it is still as fresh as it was then; an indisputable indication that quality music is timeless and evergreen. I have always loved 'Cruising For Bruising'. There is a bittersweet sentimentality to it that some of us might identify with when love alone is not enough to sustain a relationship and make it work. I don't have the CD single of this song since it is quite difficult to come by and can be a little bit on the expensive side whenever available.

p/s By the way, from certain angles I think there is an uncanny resemblance between her and Maya Karin, the actress from the critically acclaimed 'Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam' and the commercially successful 'Ombak Rindu'. Watch the video clip and you will see what I mean.

The single's cover


Cry
Come to me and cry
I know, I know, I know it's not easy
Your heart is aching
But so is mine
But so is mine

How
Can I tell you why
For so long, so long, so long
I've been thinking
Now I know
I can't live a lie
Can't live a lie

They say true love lasts forever
If we want it
There will be waiting
A second chance
Baby but now we need time
Time to learn
Time to understand
Where we went wrong
'Cause I feel so strong
We're cruising for bruising, my baby

Second chance
Baby but now we need time
Time to learn
Time to understand
Where we went wrong
'Cause I feel so strong
We're cruising for bruising

Go
I must let you go
Don't stop, don't stop
'Cause it's better now
When I still love you
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye

They say true love lasts forever
If we want it
There will be waiting
A second chance
Baby but now we need time
Time to learn
Time to understand
Where we went wrong
'Cause I feel so strong
We're cruising for bruising my baby

Second chance
Baby but now we need time
Time to learn
Time to understand
Where we went wrong
'Cause I feel so strong
We're cruising for bruising

So long, so long, so long
So bye for now
Don't let it die
'Cause we can try
Some other time
So bye for now
Don't let it die
'Cause we can try
Some other time

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MY TOP TEN MALAY CDS OF ALL TIME

 I have always loved music since I was young. Growing up, there was no specific genre that I listened to since the only source of music was either Radio 1 RTM or FM Stereo. FM Stereo would start broadcasting at 9 p.m. every night and I always looked forward to its Pilihan Bersama slot (a song request programme). Every Sunday morning, I waited patiently for a programme called LPMI (Lagu Pujaan Minggu Ini) to be aired on RTM 1 and I would faithfully sit by the radio with my neighbour, Kak Dah (may Allah bless her soul). We jotted down the top ten songs of the week and predicted which one would become the number one song. When I went to boarding school, I kept a small battery-operated transistor radio under my pillow and the songs played would help me go to sleep at night. In college, I always had a few cassettes in my knapsack which I listened to on my yellow Sony Sports Walkman. I wrote about this Walkman in my previous entry so I won't go into details about it here. Nowadays, it's the regional radio station that I listen to most of the time since I truly feel that I cannot totally connect with the music played by the more contemporary radio stations (read : I am getting older). This post, by the way, is about my top ten favourite Malay CDs. I don't own a lot of Malay CDs so my personal choice is also quite limited.
 Aishah - Aishah : Her first solo Malay album after making waves in New Zealand and Malaysia with Fan Club. The group only managed to come up with two studio albums before the members went their separate ways. Aishah's killer song 'Janji Manismu' is still a favourite for many until today and has been covered by two other singers (both Indonesians). With a fantastic voice, clear diction and brilliant interpretation, Aishah is indisputably still one of the best singers around. This album also spawned a few other hits for her and thus, making her one the most popular singers of the early 90s.

Ziana Zain - Puncak Kasih : Ziana Zain during her peak in the local music industry was fabulous. Utterly fabulous. The packaging for this CD was also unique and different compared to the other CDs released at that time. Her previous album (Setiaku Di Sini) was certified platinum and I guess her record company had a lot of confidence that this album would sell well too. Hence, the extra-special packaging for the CD. Ziana still has a lot of loyal fans who support her but unfortunately, has not come up with a full album for quite a while now. Her last CD single "Dingin' which was released a few years ago only received lukewarm response from the public and media alike.

Sharifah Aini - Kenangan Lela Manja : This is Kak Pah's first album without Ahmad Nawab after he left EMI to join WEA. All the songs have been remastered and a few more songs of the same genre were added for this special release. This album truly showcased Kak Pah's ability to render traditional Malay songs flawlessly and effortlessly. Her voice was also in its prime at that time and in my opinion, no current pop singer can top her when it comes to singing traditional Malay songs.

Sheila Majid - Emosi : This is the first Malay CD that I bought more than 20 years ago when local CDs were still manufactured overseas (this one was made in Australia). I'm sure many of her fans were happy when a box set comprising all her studio albums was released a couple of years ago (you can check out the post on Sheila Majid's box set that I wrote if you are interested). 'Sinaran', the first single from this album was initially banned from being aired by the Ministry of Information due to Sheila's pronunciation. This album was commercially well- received by the public in Indonesia and made Sheila a household name there.

Sheila Majid - Legenda : A brilliant and classy interpretation of P. Ramlee's songs with modern instrumentations and fresher arrangements. This is the Japanese pressing of the same album which, in my opinion, is a thousand times better than the Malaysian pressing in terms of sound quality and packaging. The Japanese version, however, has a different version of 'Bunyi Gitar'. The R.A.P. Mix was used as one of the tracks instead of the Extended Mix.

The Bolshoi Ballet Theatre Orchestra Of Tashkent Present Tan Sri P. Ramlee : This is another album which I am not sure whether I can label it 'Malay' or not since it's pure music without any singing at all. It is one of the albums that I listen to whenever I need to relax and unwind. The stereo system that I have doesn't really do justice to the impeccable performances of the orchestra but is good enough to create a calming and soothing ambiance in my house especially during quiet evenings. Even my usually restless cats seem to be subdued every time I put this album in my CD player.

Kumpulan Harmoni - Penantian : I first heard of this group when I was still in high school. Their hit song 'Penantian' immediately became one of my favourites. For some unknown reason, I even asked one of my friends to write the guitar chords for it. FYI, I didn't know how to play the guitar and I still don't. One of the lesser known tracks from the album, 'Sepanjang Jalan Ke Pulau Pinang', is very special to me for reasons that I will keep only to myself. My heart still bleeds (profusely) whenever I listen to it. To my knowledge, this is their only full album that has been released in CD format.

Ebiet G. Ade - Cinta Sebening Embun : I'm not sure if this album can be classified as a 'Malay' album but I'm going to include it in this list anyway. The Indonesians are very proud of their 'Bahasa Indonesia' and they might consider it inappropriate to refer to an album sung in their national language as 'Malay'. This is a collection of songs from an Indonesian poet-singer who is well-known for his 'Camellia' tetralogy. Unfortunately, 'Camellia I' and 'Nyanyian Rindu' are not featured in this compilation and a few other favourite songs of mine are also missing.

Amy Mastura - Amy Mastura : Like Ziana Zain, Amy Mastura was also a stewardess with the Malaysia Airlines before becoming a singer. This is her debut album after winning Asia Bagus in 1993, a star-search television programme produced by Fuji Television. Just like her bubbly personality, most of the songs are cheerful and upbeat.The album was published by Pony Canyon, a Japan-based record company which is a subsidiary of one of the world's largest media company, Fujisankei Communications Group.

Fauziah Latiff - Apa Sebenarnya : Fauziah Latiff (or Jee as she is called) has been singing since her teenage years. This is her seventh studio album but it did not sell as well as her previous effort 'Epilog Memori Gelita' which contains the hit 'Teratai Layu Di Tasik Madu'. There were a lot of speculations regarding her personal life at the time this album was released. A few of the songs also seemed to hint at the speculated marital problems she was having but nobody knew whether the lyrics were intentional or not. She rarely sings on television anymore and nowadays, fans can only catch her when she appears in the occasional drama.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

FLASHBACK : MY YELLOW SONY SPORTS WALKMAN

I'm sure many of us have a few things in our possession which we consider as precious due to their sentimental value. These items don't necessarily have to be expensive but they can mean so much to us. This post is about a yellow Sony Sports Walkman which I owned many, many years ago. FYI, I'm referring to the portable cassette player invented by Sony which revolutionised the way we listen to music the world over. It was a WM-F35 which I bought a from a college mate who was in need of hard cash at that time. That Walkman was very chic, sporty and durable. It was also very yellow just like many other Sony Sports products at that time. It never gave me any problem although I did not treat it very well. After the Walkman exchanged hands, it became my constant and loyal companion throughout my college years. I took it almost everywhere I went to. I listened to it while I was studying (or sleeping, rather) at the library, doing my art projects in the studio, completing my term papers (usually at the last minute), walking from one end of the campus to the other (which made me sweat like a hog), waiting for the bus, eating my packed lunch (sandwich, enchilada or quesadilla most of the time) alone in the park. I even listened to it when I was in the loo. My 'love affair' with it, however, did not last. Somebody stole it from me. I was really upset then. I never bought another Walkman since I could never find the same model. More than 26 years later, fate handed me something similar to replace my old Walkman when I least expected it. Zainal and Azhar, two of my friends from out of state came to visit me two weeks ago and as usual, we would head to the Sunday flea market. I have bought a few things there in the past especially secondhand novels, storybooks, magazines and CDs. Nowadays, I go there just to watch the people and enjoy my Sunday. I no longer look for anything in particular since I'm trying hard to curb my hoarding habit (which is making a slow but steady comeback). I was wandering aimlessly in the stifling heat (my two friends were nowhere to be seen) when an old yellow Sony Sports Walkman suddenly attracted my attention. It was not the same model like the one I previously owned but it was the only yellow Walkman that I had seen in quite a long time. I slowly approached the seller since I did not want to show my growing excitement. I did not even ask whether that Walkman could still work or not. After all, its functionality was secondary to me now (FYI, it works just fine). Initially, that guy wanted to sell it for RM 8.00 but I asked him if I could have it for RM 5.00 (I don't like to pay top prices for anything from the flea market). Honestly, I would have paid that RM 8.00 he was asking for in a jiffy but to my surprise, he did not even argue with me (maybe it was my hobo-like dressing that made him feel sympathetic towards me). He simply said okay, pocketed the money that I gave him and handed me the Walkman. I could not believe what I was holding in my hands. A yellow Sony Walkman! I felt as if I was being transported to another time and place. At that time, so many memories came rushing into my head. I remember how I wanted to own a Walkman when it first came out but could not afford one (like a lot of other people, I could not afford a lot of things back then but it was okay). I remember listening to it while walking home alone a few miles from the art studio very late at night since I had missed the last bus. I remember getting mad at a friend for using up my batteries. I remember playing and rewinding Depeche Mode's Strangelove almost 20 times after I bought the cassette single. I remember my housemate, Nasir taking a picture of me holding that Walkman and sitting on the cereal station at the school cafeteria (where I worked a few evenings a week washing dishes after my classes were over). I remember many other things as well but most of all, I remember how a secondhand yellow Walkman gave me so much joy and happiness when I was alone, lonely and did not have much in this world.

p/s I know that this yellow Walkman will never replace the one I had a long, long time ago but this beauty is still able to put a smile on my face and bring back memories of good times in the past.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013 - LET'S KARAOKE 26 : KYLIE MINOGUE AND JASON DONOVAN - ESPECIALLY FOR YOU

Yay! Happy New Year, everyone! 2013 is here and I'd like to announce to everyone that the world did not end on December 21 (lots of heavy sarcasm inserted here). I wonder who among us was stupid enough to totally believe such BS. NOBODY, let me repeat that, NOBODY knows when the end of the world is going to happen except Allah. Well, 2012 had its ups and downs for me but I'm grateful that I am still given a chance to be a better human being, son, brother, friend, employee, colleague, listener et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I also hope all good things will come our way. To welcome 2013, I'd like to post another Kylie Minogue karaoke but this time, it's a duet with her back-then beau, Jason Donovan (they were so cute together). The single was released in 1988 and at that time, Kylie was already a well-known international singer while Jason was just beginning his foray into the international music business. The single was quite successful but sadly, their relationship didn't have the same fate. Well, nobody can have everything all the time (I'm sure they have gotten over it though). So this karaoke is especially for all of us and let's hope that 2013 will be a wonderful year.

The single's cover


Especially for you
I wanna let you know what I was going through
All the time we were apart I thought of you
You were in my heart
My love never changed
I still feel the same 

Especially for you
I wanna tell you I was feeling that way too
And if dreams were wings
You know I would have flown to you
To be where you are
No matter how far
And now that I'm next to you

No more dreaming about tomorrow
Forget the loneliness and the sorrow
I've got to say
It's all because of you

And now we're back together, together
I wanna show you my heart is oh so true
And all the love I have is
Especially for you

Especially for you
I wanna tell you
You mean all the world to me
How I'm certain that our love was meant to be
You changed my life
You showed me the way
And now that I'm next to you
I've waited long enough to find you
I wanna put all the hurt behind you
And I wanna bring out all the love inside you

And now we're back together, together
I wanna show you my heart is oh so true
And all the love I have is
Especially for you

You were in my heart
My love never changed
No more dreaming about tomorrow
Forget the loneliness and the sorrow
I've got to say
It's all because of you

And now we're back together, together
I wanna show you my heart is oh so true
And all the love I have is
Especially for you