Monday, December 2, 2013

A long December

If I could sum up how December is going to be this would be it.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Gravity - "Houston, we have a problem"

Space....the final frontier. Immortal words spoken at the start of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek.

We always thought that the idea of being in outer space is cool. 

But few would tell us how freaky space can get too.

My first viewing of the Gravity trailer - it looked like a 15 minute movie premise and reminded me of Open Water and another movie about hopelessness, Buried. 

But we the rave reviews that I was getting, it perhaps seemed worth a watch. And watched it I did. 

And my verdict? It was simply awesome. Terrifying, scary and lonely at the same time. Probably one of the best movies I have watched in 2013. Besides Pacific Rim (I will do a review of that later).

It reminded me of two similar movies about hopelessness in space. Ridley Scott's Alien (not the James Cameron shoot em up Aliens, which I loved too by the way) and Moon. Yup. I loved Moon. The trailer for Moon is below. 

Anyway, back to Gravity. It was intense. 
You get to see things being blown up without the explosive sound effects. They got that right. That there is no sound in space due to the immense vacuum! 

Sandra Bullock well, was just Sandra Bullock. But it was awesome. And George Clooney played like he was Danny Ocean. Except that he was in space still cool and composed. Make no mistake. It was good acting from them. 

Now you see, the premise is actually quite simple. Bullock and Clooney play these astronauts, one a rookie astronaut engineer and the other a veteran on his final mission and spacewalk, going on a simple (I'm guessing) mission to rectify the Hubble Telescope. All is well, until Houston sends a message to abort a mission. 

It seems that an anti-satellite test conducted by the Russians (they basically blew up one their unused satellites) and it has caused debris to be flying around in space. Fatally damaging space stations along the way including the Explorer where Bullock and Clooney were based in. 

With debris travelling at warp speed, things go horribly wrong and a simple mission suddenly becomes a life or death situation. One cannot help but imagine the horrors of perpetual floating,  forever in space without anything to stop you from spinning on your own orbit and this was what happened to Bullock's Ryan. And this is where things got interesting. 

Anyway, I won't spoil it that much for you. Go watch it in 3D. I didn't. I wish I did. 

But, damnit! I enjoyed every minute of the 90 it had to offer and as I blog about this, I am also listening to it's haunting soundtrack on Spotify. I downloaded the soundtrack too by the way. 

Is this movie Oscar worthy? I don't know considering it would be the shortest movie to win an Oscar (please correct me if I am wrong). But it is definitely generating a lot of buzz for all the right reasons. 

So, this has been the best movie for me so far and it also makes me realize the harshness of space and it's beautiful emptiness. 

I'm so glad to be in the safety of the Earth's gravitational pull. And I will never take Gravity for granted. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

There is only ONE Sir Alex Ferguson

Love him or loathe him. It's undeniable. There is only one Sir Alex Ferguson. 

It has been a mellow week here. We lost democracy on Sunday. And then on Wednesday, Man Utd lost its greatest manager. 

Appointed as manager in 1986, SAF did not have the best of runs. In fact, due to lacklustre results, United were lingering at the edge of the relegation zone in the 1989-1990 season. If not for the League Cup semi-final win against Nottingham Forest that season, it would have been the boot for SAF. He won the League Cup eventually after beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in the final replay after an earlier 3-3 draw. 

But his league win didn't come in until 1993, for United lost out on the league title to Leeds after leading the table for much of the season in 1992. 

And then he got Cantona from Leeds in 1993 and that's when fortunes changed. Cantona was perhaps the catalyst needed, but make no mistake, it was also SAF's charisma and leadership which had paved a new era for Man Utd. They won the league in 1993. It was that year, that the Premier League was first introduced and United were the first winners of the Premier League. 

In the 1993-1994 season, United continued their winning streak and this time, picked up the Premier League title and the FA Cup. SAF was on his way to further success. 

And in 1994-1995, that's when I first noticed Manchester United as a force to be reckoned with. My first thoughts on SAF? He is one arrogant pr*ck. Yup. His remarks, his shrewdness. But you gotta admit it, its this driving force which makes United champs. The tough and unnerving attitude to succeed which managers such as Brian Clough share. United lost the title to Blackburn that season, but managed to grasp the title once again in the 1995-1996 and made another double with the FA cup. 

But shrewd as he was, he was already planning ahead. And with the emergence of the class of 1992 or Fergie's fledglings (Scholes, Beckham, Butt, both the Neville brothers) and the Welsh Wizard Ryan Giggs and his acquisitions of Roy Keane, Gary Pallister, the Great Dane Peter Schmeichel, Andy Cole, United probably were on the way to have the best team in the world....ever. 

United continued their winning streak picking up another Premier League title in 1996-1997 before losing it again to an emerging Arsenal under the guidance of Arsene Wenger in 1996-1997. And in 1998, United won the treble. More success to come. But to cut the long story short, it was SAF's guidance which had made United prosper. 

For him, the club is paramount and no one is above the club. Known for his temperament and outburst behaviour, he has always been one instills discipline onto his players. even his favourites such as Beckham, Stam and Keane would eventually learn the hard way that no one is above the club. And quite rightly so. 

Not only is he a manager, but he also acts as a father figure, nurturing young talent and guiding them. Players like Beckham, Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney would benefit from this and they went from strength to strength becoming greater players under his wing. 

Perhaps, not as sharp an eye as Wenger on picking talent, SAF did make some purchasing errors. Players like Veron who didn't fit into the English game, the great blunderer, Massimo Taibi and the ancient Laurent Blanc were only the few of the non-performing players that he had acquired. But nevertheless, he made important acquisitions too which proved to be game changing players such as Keane,  Van Nislterooy, Rooney, Vidic and quite recently, Robin Van Persie.

SAF was also known for yelling at referees when referees make er....crucial mistaken calls (I may be challenged on that) and chewing gum non stop. I would normally wait for the post game press interview and until now, I found it utterly difficult to catch his sentences due to the thick Scottish accent! But it's also his never say die attitude which was vital for United's success. 

Alas, with 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA cups, 2 UEFA Champion's League titles and a few other lesser cups, he has created a legacy where many managers thereafter would have difficulty emulating. 

Although this is not the first time he has mentioned about retirement as he did so by the end of 2002, still, it came as a shock to many United fans such as myself who would have perhaps relish the idea of him managing for another 20 years.  Like how Sir Bobby Robson devoted himself to the game until his death back in 2009.

And now on the 8th of May 2013, he has announced his retirement for good and will move up the ranks as director of the club. His presence will still linger but his legacy abound. 

Many managers were cited such as Pep Guardiola and even Mourinho, but in the end, the managerial duties fell squarely on David Moyes (who was at one time speculated to helm United one day too). And Moyes knows the shoes Fergie left are huge ones. 

So begins a new era for Manchester United without it greatest and longest serving manager. 

And this is my tribute to you, Sir Alex Ferguson. 

Thank you for making United what it is today. The board had faith in you and you have repaid the board in bountifully.  And now, Sir Alex Ferguson, you have joined the ranks of not just United's greatest managers, but as one of the greatest managers of all time that the beautiful game has ever seen. 

There is and always will only be one Sir Alex Ferguson. Thank you. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Politics is stupid

Still think politics is stupid? 

Nuff said. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Here's to a Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

I've never watched the movie. Nor do I plan to watch it anytime soon. 
But I know the premise of it which is set in the World War 2, Japanese occupation period. Amongst the more interesting facts of the movie was that it starred David Bowie (Mr Ziggy Stardust himself) and a composer known as Ryuichi Sakamoto. 

Impressively, Mr Sakamoto is also an activist, a composer, a record producer, a writer, a singer, a pianist, and an actor. From my reading of wikipedia over his achievements, I understand that he is pretty experimental in music as well. 

He composed the theme for the movie Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence entitled "Forbidden Colours". Over time, the title of the song eventually became Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

When I first heard the song, I thought it was one of the most beautiful oriental pieces ever written. It is a mellow tune, where the intro starts of rather softly, the same 3 notes over and over a few bars until the melody begins. There is much variation to it but the same continues until it reaches the bridge, where you get the same melodic sequence but in a heightened and climatic fashion. 

Now I'm not too fond of the original score with David Sylvian in vocals. I very much preferred the song without the lyrics sung. So I shall not post the same herein. 

But here is perhaps the original score in the movie. And yes, the young Japanese bloke in it is Mr Sakamoto himself. 

Now this is the lone piano version of the song which is also beautiful in its way. 

And this is another beautiful version of the same, played by Ryuichi Sakamoto himself and Everton Nelson on violin and Jacques Morelenbaum on cello. Equally as beautiful. 

The song would not be complete without a guitar version of it. And the best guitar version I was able to find on the internet is the one below. Sakamoto on piano, but only playing a supporting role and Kaori Muraji (a finger-style guitar artiste in her own right) on guitars. I am still trying my hand to play the song, but I'm stuck in the intro. Perhaps with great will and might, I 'might' be able to play the song one day. But below is the beautiful guitar version of it. 

And just when you thought that the song already has its share of versions, then there is the pop version. Utada Hikaru mixes it up with some pop sensibilities and makes the song sound good in an RnB fashion. I like it. It's not usual for me to like remixes, but this is far from a remix and may stand as an RnB song on it's own right. 

So by now, you would probably guess that in writing this blogpost, I would looped all the above versions of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. Bored do I get? I assure you not. I'm in love with this song, and perhaps I will keep looking for the different variations of this song. 

In case you are fed up of this song already, Ryuichi Sakamoto was also the composer for The Last Emperor. I remember as a kid, I found the movie to be slow and boring, but had a good impression of the music in the movie. Of course when I watched The Last Emperor much later in life, I found the movie to be a beautifully directed movie by Bernardo Bertolucci and it's victory as the best movie of 1987 was quite fitting. My impression of the music however was further fortified. 

So Ieave you with two haunting tracks from The Last Emperor perhaps evidencing the brilliance of Mr Sakamoto as a musician. Take the time to listen to these beautiful tracks. I keep saying beautiful, because that's as plain as it can get. Beautiful.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Dare You to Move

Sure, Switchfoot plays really melodic tunes and sometimes hinge on the emo-rock / pop rock genre.Nevertheless Switchfoot continues to write positive and affirming lyrics and their songs are pretty down to earth, resonating on every day issues that the everyday man (or woman) encounters. They are a band of Christians, and not a Christian band and thus their music appeals even to the secular market to which people from all walks of faith could enjoy. They are a great live act as well.
And it is this song that I share today, is a song which has been held closely in my heart for many years, ever since I first heard it and fell in love with it.

It is not just an anthemic tune, but a song of hope, a song of encouragement. To lift our spirits and challenge us to rise above the obstacles ahead of us. I'm pretty sure that the lyrics have some connotations on faith and with God, we know all things are possible and we can overcome them. But for that assistance, we must perhaps take the first step towards recognizing it and from that recognition, to move towards His assistance to overcome the everyday obstacles which are constantly ahead of us.

We all have our own disappointments. Because we live in a world so full of diversity and a world of choices, we are sometimes left feeling disappointed when our expectations are not met due to the actions or choices of the people around us. As much as there is beauty in diversity and choice, therein lies too the tensions it creates and this is also very real to us. 

From this disappointment, what then do we do? Do we continue to wallow in self pity and blame the rest of the world for our circumstances? Or do we dare ourselves to rise above the occasion and prove our detractors wrong?

Only recently I have encountered events that were painful and disappointing afflicted no less by the people around me, some of whom I had the pleasure of working for and some who were as close to me as brothers come. 

From conversations with a friend of mine, I came to understood that I was a 'marked man' in my old workplace, something which perhaps denote a more sinister and negative remark as an employee. The firm which I have toiled day and night, made me a marked man some time ago only confirming my suspicions of the treatment I perhaps have received during those times. And they were only confirmed by an outsider after I had decided to leave the firm. I resigned.

And also recently, despite several on going discussions with a good friend of mine and getting my hopes up on starting afresh, certain issues couldn't be 'resolved'. This fresh start that I had hoped for didn't work out. Finding out the reasons of why it 'may' not work out made it even more painful. Due to choices which were made. Due to the diversity of expectations from the both of us. I understood his points and respected them. Nevertheless, the painful feeling of disappointment was very much as real and was never any less.

I decided that despite all these happenings, no bridges need be burned. In fact, it would be wise not to burn any bridges, for there will come a day where we would cross them once more. But for now, I understood that there won't be any crossings. Not for the interim period. 

Despite all these recent disappointments in life, the only way out of it, is to pick myself up and continue this journey. Afterall, these are merely bumps ahead of a long journey ahead. 

These are the many disappointments that you and I will perhaps encounter. Rejection from the powers that be. 
The hurtful actions of the people who are close to you. 
Perhaps unrequited affection towards another. 
Or issues that we knew needed to be dealt with at some point of time but were not dealt with due to the fear of failure.
Or that we sometimes think we are any less worthy in the eyes of other people. 

I believe we can overcome these disappointments or hurdles if we allow ourselves to. 

We will always be in the scrutinizing of eyes of people. 
We will always be judged by people unfairly whether we like it or not. 
But we can always choose to rise above these judgments and disappointments .
And for that to happen, we first need to move. 
To pick ourselves up. Like today never happened. 

And the song I share today, shall be a challenge to readers out there who need to take that step. Enjoy the lyrics and perhaps let it sink it. 

I dare you to move. As I dared myself to move.


Welcome to the Planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone's here
Everyone's here
Everybody's watching you now
Everybody waits for you now

What happens next
What happens next

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift youself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move 
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move 
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go? 
Salvation is here

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move 
Like today never happened
Today never happened
Today never happened
Today never happened before.

The follies of our youth

We were once young and foolish....

These days, we are just foolish.......