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.......

Pax Automata - Progressively Great

This is has been long overdue. At least for me.
In the never-ending search for great Malaysian music (and I don't mean the likes of Siti Nurhaliza or Search), I have noted some in an old post of mine. Click here for results. 

Tempered Mental is perhaps my favourite Malaysian band. 
Their EP or their debut was mind blowing as for the first time, I witness a bass playing lady with the ability to scale and run the bass while keeping melody with her singing. It is already difficult for me to sing while plucking the guitar, what more the scaling the bass the way she does? The EP cemented their credibility as Malaysia's most exciting band, in my books. 

Their full album, The View From Here was a powerful album and it had musical gems like Space and Simple. Crunching riffs, progressive melodies and drumming which is mis-timed to perfection with it's odd time signature. I wouldn't be surprised if they cite Tool, Rush or perhaps even Dream Theatre as their influences. Let's put it this way, this trio of Melina William, Jimmy Tan and Jack Lian are as technicaly gifted as they are melodically. 

I waited with bated breathe for Pax Automata, their latest release. 
With some peeps of mine, we ventured into The Bee in Publika for the release and gig. 
What we witnessed that night was a soundscape of epic proportions. The band started off with Automata which is their first single and it blew our minds. Not only were they tight in composure, the energy was electrifying! The first thing my friend said to me was, "Damn they are tight!"

Well anyway, this posts isn't so much about the gig as I didn't knew the title of the songs, but was drowned in musical awesomeness. It is their album which I will review. I bought the album even before the gig had begun, thus perhaps showing that I trusted that the album would not disappoint. Heck, even if it was disappointing, I'm sure it would have topped any album from any local artist all the same. 
Below is a review of some of the tracks of the album:-

Automata  - The first song introduces the entire mood for the album. With an explosive riff for an intro with technical guitar sensibilities, the tempo of the song remains consistent throughout. This is easily my favourite track of the entire album as we have not 1 guitar solos but 3 guitar solos and a chugging bridge. The chorus is pretty interesting as within the standard 4 bar chorus, the first two bars show a minor progression while the last two bars shifts from minor to a major progression (please correct me if I am wrong). And this is only the first song, setting the progressive rock tone which would be evident throughout the entire album. 

And Stay Out - This song, unlike the former, starts of rather slowly, building to its climax from the pre-chorus to the bridge. Once again the change in progression is noted. By the time the bridge is played towards the ending, it would have seemed like an entire different song altogether. Another chugging bridge to savour. 

Break starts off with a pretty interesting intro, a dual attack of bass and guitar riffs without the usual distortion, which eventually forms the pre-chorus. There is a full guitar attack during the, well, guitar solo. Very Dream Theatre-ish. 

Run is perhaps a rather fun tune. Or starting of as a fun tune, with its drumming which is reminiscent to Paramore's That's What You Get. But that's as friendly as it gets as the song takes a turn for a more sinister melody at the turn of the bridge, before reverting once again to the friendliness of the introductory tune. Radio friendly perhaps, but a great tune nevertheless. 

Matilda - This song starts of strongly with its heavy drumming, guitar riffing and bass pounding. A heavy start which gradually settles to a more sombre verses before building up at the pre-chorus and then finally unleashing an assault of sound at the chorus. This goes on for a good deal of time, before the bridge is played. The bridge sounds somewhat different with its raggae drum beat and running bassline and eventually it ends in the same heavy way as it had started. This would be my 2nd favourite track of all and one that I would love to drum for due to its 4 different parts. This is would be a good example of progressive rock with 4 different parts combined into one rocking song. 

Sleep - Not a favorite track of mine as the songs is relatively straightforward. I only fancied the pre-chorus. Not really a filler, as the track is still a good one. Just not my favourite. 

Be - This is a good example of a song which starts of slow and sombre. And it gradually builds without with steady progression unlike some of the earlier songs and it ends heavily with some melodic chaos. Kind of like Live's Dam At Otter Creek which starts of slow and light and ends heavy. 

Ants is reminiscent to their track from their debut full album, entitled Cold. Also a moody track and perhaps one that is lyrically catchy and perhaps sinister all throughout. The guitar solo at the bridge is one which is chaotic and very Soundgarden-ish. Wait, heavier than Soundgarden's solos I would say. 

Fight is another good song. It starts with a pumped up intro. You will notice the evident bass slapping with its catchy bassline. The song is pretty straight up rock save for the guitar solo which transcends from a drumming beat of 8/4 to a 4/4 beat and then back to it's original 8/4 beat. 

Cocooon - Now this is a pretty interesting tune. It starts of with a dreamy tune, no thanks to it's dreamy lyrics too. Easily one of my favourite tunes. The song picks up at the second verse and is a song with a steady song with clean guitars. However, the best bit is the variation of the bassline at the final verse or stanza of the song. The bassline is very evident and I love that bit of it which highlights the song for me. 

Blindfold  is a song of well, epic proportions with its beautiful acoustic melodies and subsequent strings. Also starts of as a dreamy tune which transcends into a progressive metal tune. Also easily one of my favourite tunes of the entire album. The guitar solo is very Satriani-isque and sounds very spacey. Something of the Satriani guitar scales perhaps. But as one listens to this tune and wonders how a tune can change from a dream pop song to a metal song, we can only accredit it to the technicalities that Tempered Mental brings in music. This song is perhaps an apt ending and an opus for Pax Automata

There ya go. Wow. Nerver knew I enjoyed doing progressive rock reviews. So many parts to review and not your usual run of the mill stuff. So once again, I deemed Tempered Mental as one of the best Malaysian bands ever. This album not only tops the list of best albums I have ever owned but also takes the local music one ante up. Its not a good follow up to The View from Here. It is a GREAT follow up.

This review is done for the love of great music. Now if only Yuna's new album would costs less than RM85.00, then perhaps I could get my hands on one and do a review......

Till then I leave you with Automata. This video is taken from this link which also dissects the album rather aptly. Credit is given to them and I take no credit in this video. 


Friday, March 1, 2013

GE 13. Are we ready?

In a week's time, 5 years would have passed since the 8th March 2008 political tsunami which saw a massive power shift towards the opposition. 10 years ago, this would have been virtually impossible, and many did not see it coming although anticipation was built up leading towards that day.

We Malaysians know that the time for the 13th General Elections (GE) are near. And we also anticipate that this GE promises to be the dirtiest of them all. 

And in between the 5 years, many things had happened. 
We have seen an opposition state fall back into the hands of BN through dubious means. On a positive note, that incident spurred a need for the nation to understand the Federal Constitution and the Malaysian Bar initiated the Malaysian Bar Constitutional Committee. The object of it was to advance awareness and teach the rakyat, the basics....their fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution. Further fundamental political awareness was brought with the inception of the UndiMsia programme lead by Edmund Bon. 

During the last 5 years we have also seen a change of Prime Ministers when Tun Abdullah Badawi handed over his post as the top man to Najib Tun Razak. it was an imminent move and perhaps one that is gleefully relished by the Prime Minister's wife, Datin Rosmah Mansor. And in the last five years, the First Lady of Malaysia was also birthed. 

We have also seen more deaths in custody, but most infamous of them all, the tragic death of Teoh Beng Hock, the political aide to Ean Yong Hian Wah. Not under police this time, but under the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), did this tragic incident occured. Questions poured out; was it suicide or was Teoh Beng Hock beaten, tortured and then subsequently thrown out from the building onto the pavement many floors below? At the inquest, the court gave an open verdict, which was not conclusive, stating it was neither suicide nor homicide. A Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) was subsequently set up and a team led by the Malaysian Bar Council to question the methods of investigation conducted by the MACC. In the end, the RCI concluded that it was suicide due to the intense pressure of interrogation by the MACC.  However, many of us are still unsatisfied with the findings of the RCI and still believe that Teoh Beng Hock couldn't have killed himself. As of now, no one is responsible for his death and this would forever remain a dark mark in the passages of Malaysian history. 
In any event, the inquiry although a tragic episode, was not without it's lighter moments. 
Below is a video of the inquiry. And not how we have bumbling fools acting as the Federal legal counsels. Enjoy. This is cross examination clip of Dr Pornthip, the Thai pathologist involved in the investigations of the cause of death of Teoh Beng Hock.

We have also seen, within 5 years, 3 massive demonstrations. Acts of expression. Bersih 2.0, Bersih 3.0 and the recent coalition gathering which was housed in the Merdeka Stadium (the demonstration with the biggest turn-up thus far). 

9 July 2011 - Bersih 2.0, the people were still living in fear as the government tried to stamp its hard-line tactics to wield it's authority. STREET DEMONSTRATIONS WERE BANNED! ARREST WAS IMMINENT. TROUBLE WAS IMMINENT. And despite all the warnings, people braved the weather and the barricades and turned up all the same. The people wanted change. The same change that happened 5 years ago. It was a success, although not without casualties and the death of a retired soldier. 

28 April 2012 - Bersih 3.0. Street demonstrations were still not the way to go, so says the government. Still the organizer's venue of choice, Dataran Merdeka was not allowed. The people still gathered and the police geared up their tear gas and batons. What seemed to be a peaceful gathering, later turned out to be euphoria due to some unforeseen circumstances. Perhaps, due to the acts of some unruly protestors, it gave the police more reason to react, even if the reasons are of the slightest in nature. 

12 January 2013 - HImpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat. Ok. I wasn't there. I was having a jolly good time in Genting Highlands. However, I received sources from friends who said that the rally was a success. Given that there are at least 80-90 thousand participants gathering in and out of Stadium Merdeka, this is by far the largest rally ever in Malaysia. And my friend also stated that it was the most boring one. Boring is good. Boring means that the rakyat did not have to face police action or brutality. So, boring is good sometimes. 
And during Chinese New Year, 2013 to be exact, our dear Prime Minister, perhaps due to some really really bad Publicity (PR) advisers, decides to go down the 'cool' route to win the hearts of the people. First a mandarin advertisement on air and then another nonsensical advertisement on TV, playing the chinese drums. Anyway, the TV advertisement is reproduced in this blog for your viewing displeasure. Nonsensical I say? You will get what I mean once you view it. Remember, citizens of Malaysia. You paid for this video....
Also the CNY celebrations in Penang, when the BN government decided to pay RM3,000,000 (me thinks) to get PSY (Mr Gangnam Style) to perform 1 song. That's right. 1 song. I mean its good business for PSY and I think he is an awesome chap. It's just that BN are so desperate to be cool, to blend in with pop culture that they decide to go down this route. Of course, nothing is without any consequence. When the people of Penang were asked if they were ready for PSY, they greeted with a resounding YES! 
When the people of Penang were asked if they were ready for BN, they replied with  a resounding NO! Not once, but 3 effing times!! I' It's like Peter denying Christ  times before the rooster crowed. Anyway the video is posted below for laughs. 
Oh yes, and PSY apparently refused to join in the 'lou sang' festivities with the BN Ministers for being apolitical to the situation herein. GOOD FOR HIM! I shall post his video here too for your viewing pleasure. Come on! What is there not to like about Gangnam style eh?

I'm sorry BN. But votes are not based on pop culture references and CNY adverts and other sweeteners such as book vouchers. Votes are determined on the confidence of people that their representatives in power are able to tackle issues such as poverty, security and safety, policies, more job opportunities, cheaper houses and finding solutions to other problems through understanding the need of the people and to have constant communication with the people to find out that need. BN just never learn now, do they. 

And if security is an issue, we have further seen this in the Kampung Tanduo stand-off in Lahad Datu, when 180 militants who claim to be the Royal Sulu Sultanate Army, took control of Kampung Tanduo. Reason being, to reclaim North Borneo to be part of the Sulu islands. 3 weeks of negotiations went by. In the end, there was bloodshed after negotiations failed and the death toll was 11 people including 2 from the VAT 69 forces who defended Malayia's honour. Our government should look into issues like these when it involves security. After all, this is not the first time that Lahad Datu had been trespassed. Once again, we never learn. 
There are many things more which have happened during the last 5 years. But the above are perhaps the more memorable ones for me.
As I conclude my rant, I hope all you who are Malaysian and are reading this, have registered as a voter and will exercise your vote during the upcoming GE 13. Your vote counts. Each and Every one of you count for the country. Don't let anyone else or your own doubts tell you otherwise. As we await the news for the dissolution of Parliament, let me just assure you that there will be more exciting events in the days to come.
I know who I am going to vote. Do you? 
GE 13. Are you ready?

Friday, February 1, 2013


It has been 2 weeks now since Mary last heard from her mother.
Mary last saw Martha, at the airport, waving a goodbye.

She understood that her mother was leaving to somewhere, only she did not know where.
Her mother told her that she will return in a week. A promise made. Never kept.
Mary hung on to that promise but never lost hope in it.

Father told Mary that Mother had extended her stay, because she was enjoying herself over there.

Father however knew better. Christopher had been following the news ever since the plane crashed. Hoping against hope that the news reports were not true, it was rather unfortunate that Martha’s return trip would be her last. As time wore on, whatever glimmer of hope left before, was now completely gone.  

How was he to tell Mary of the truth? She was only 6. She would never comprehend the situation. The truth was beyond her and was too overwhelming, or so he had thought.

And t’was two weeks since Mary last saw her mother. And that night after two weeks, Mary awoke from her slumber and saw her mother, in front of her. She rubbed her eyes, half asleep and smiled at her mother.

“You’re late Mama…” she whispered softly. “I have been waiting. I miss you Mama…” she continued.

“I know baby. I know. I miss you too…” Martha replied.

“Daddy said you wanted to stay there a little longer. He said you were happy there...” Mary said with tears flowing in her eyes.

“I’m happy to be here now, baby. I’m happy to see you.” Martha smiled.

“Mama, why are you floating?” Mary asked.

“We all float over here baby. Everybody floats.”

And Mary hugged her mother tightly. Letting her emotions pour out. Not letting go of her mother. And Martha embraced her tightly too. Perhaps for one final time. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

From Whence Comes My Help?

In times of troubles and need, where do I seek my help from? Where does my solace come from?

I was once given a self made bookmark by a girl whom I was interested in. This was about 15 years ago. The bookmark had a verse in it. It was a silver bookmark with engravings of the verse in it. Of course, given a gift by someone I had feelings for probably made it the greatest gift in the world back then. 

I hadn't kept in touch with her ever since after high school and what she was doing now is something I wouldn't know. The bookmark may have been gone. But what remained is the verse in the bookmark and how it speaks to me everytime I read it or recited in church or anywhere for that matter. 

And I share this psalm with the lot of you and hope that it gives you the strength and assurance, as it has given me the same:- 

Psalm 121 (NKJV) 

God the Help of Those Who Seek Him

A Song of the Ascents 

I will lift up my eyes to the hills
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, 
Who made heaven and earth

He will not allow your foot to be moved; 
He who keeps you will not slumber. 
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; 
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, 
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; 
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and even forevermore. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Listen Listen Listen Listen Listen Listen Listen

I love my country, Malaysia.
Do you know why I love my country?
Cause more often than not, you get stupid twits (not tweet, mind you) who say things and think they can get away with it, without being held accountable.

Or so they think.

Thank God for the internet :). Everything we say or do in public,( or private even sometimes), becomes the scrutiny of the eye of the public. Once your act is recorded, BAM! There you go. Hit after hit after hit on youtube. BAM! You're famous. or Infamous for some.

So, if you think teaching a puppy to stand by torturing it or hitting babies who cry is a good idea, I've got news for you friend. You're gonna be so famous, you're E-mail inbox will explode. And that's just the inbox. :)

Capitalizing on the hottest and most tweeted topic in Malaysia, I'm proud to announce the latest catchphrase.

"Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen...."

Now...what is this you wonder?

This my dear reader is how forums are done in Malaysia. :) And if you are the speaker of such a forum, you moderate the forum. You moderate the rules and procedures of the forum. You are impartial to the issues debated because you are simply moderating the debate / forum. You are the balance between the opposites of the two spectrums.

Ahaaaa, that's what you think. Not in Malaysia. They speakers rule and reign and might I see, lean towards a very very biased view.

This is a snippet of a forum in University Utara Malaysia (UUM) on December 8 2012, addressing the issues on whether "graduates and politics are aligned?" which touched on some issues, such as Ambiga Sreenevasan (the Chair for Bersih 2.0) and other more vocal activists like Samad Said as agents of chaos and whether rallies are harmful.

I capitalize on the remarks made by the speaker of the forum, one Miss Sharifah Zohra Jabeen (cool sci-fi name), president of an NGO (non-governmental organization) named Suara Wanita 1Malaysia, aptly abbreviated (or initialled) as SW1M. How she seems to have commited error after error in her endeavour to make her points clear. Here are my views on the errors that she has committed:-

(1) She erred by saying "Listen" too many times to get the attention of one Miss Bavani who bravely put forth her questions when the floor was opened for questioning.

(2) Now, as the speaker, I would hardly think that she should address the questions of this brave young Miss Bavani.

(3) Let the panelist address the issues and the questions put forth. That's what they are invited for. To give their two cents worth on issues. Plus, they are the pros.

(4) Please stick to the issues in the forum even if, as the speaker, you decide to break your peace and show your allegiance. Do not wander off into the woods by talking about irrelevant issues which are disjointed. Animals do have rights yes, but that is a point of another forum.

(5) Before embarking on an explanation about illegal gatherings, it would be nice to do some research. At the very least, know that there is this Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (which itself is pretty fallacious, hastly enacted to counter Bersih 3.0 at that point in time). Thus Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, to which I'm sure Miss Sharifah was relying, when referring to an illegal assembly consisting of 3 people gathering (even her definitions were wrong), was already deleted by an amending act in 2012 (Act A1421). At least have the decency to back up what you quote.

(6) Whilst she maintains that it is her human right, to berate poor Bavani, I suppose it is Bavani's human right not to be berated by Miss Sharifah as well. Whilst you proclaim to exercise your basic rights, you should not encroach the rights of others as well. Herein lies the checks and balances.
I may think i have the right to call someone's mother a whore (freedom of expression, Article 10 of the Federal Constitution), we need to counter-exercise the need of calling one's mother a whore and what benefits or harm it would bring to oneself or to the other person. Beneficial therefore? Hardly. 

(7) Please, as a speaker, do not be rude to the panelist. Kesian. They come from far places I'm sure and the last thing they would want a speaker to do is to ask them to sit down and shut up. And lastly:-

(8) Understand that forums may be heated at points, but duality of points of view is needed so a common ground can be achieved (if any). That's what forums are about. To lay down issues and to address them from different perspective and points of view. The speaker here unfortunately has failed terribly in that.

Anyway, for some of the misc reports, click on this link to have a read. This is reported by Yahoo.

Anyway, I was joking when I mentioned that this was how forums are done in Malaysia.
On the contrary rather. This is the first and its pretty embarassing. Funny but embarassing. At least for poor Miss Sharifah. Clearly she has no idea what she has gotten herself into.

The bigger picture however depicts even grimmer. This is a sign of things to come. The future who will take over the reins of the country. And what a gloomy portrait is portrayed on the canvass.

Places of tertiary education should be places, where people explore idelogies and expand their minds. No. Not in Malaysia. We are fed propaganda after propaganda (And I'm speaking through experience in a local varsity I attended once) on how we should think and what we should believe and follow.

Students are often not encouraged to participate in political rallies or be involved in any political activities and YET, it is the very powers that force-feed their political agendas into , these young people, making them think that this mainstream view is the correct view. If this is not forcing them into politics, I don't kno what is, looking at politically charged points of view.

At best, if they want to play it that way, open up the stage for students to free their minds and to gather all information on all political things. Let them decide who to vote for and on what merit that vote is counted for. A level playing field at best is a fair one. And we know BN don't play fair. Oh well....anyway. I leave it for the readers to decide. Readers who I'm sure are matured enought to come to their own rational conclusions.

If I quoted any Act or Statute mistakenly, please correct me. I very much welcome the corrections. We all learn together. :)

I leave you here with two videos, one made by the brilliant troller, Namewee and another a remix of the current hit, Listen To Me.

Have a listen :) LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!!

Lastly kudos to the people who turned up for Saturday's rally, 12  January 2013. The numbers for the rally were nothing short of amazing. And it was a peaceful one without any tear gas or watrer cannon retaliation. Let the detractors say what they want about demonizing Bersih 3 and Bersih 2 because of this example. The detractors will always say what they want to say and they will always report these events in a less aahn accurate fawshion . But the people know better. And the people have once again shown that their numbers matter collectively as one voice.

I sat this one out for fear of lack of dissemination of information with regard to the assembly. I was proven wrong once again. OK. I was actually having a rather good time in Genting Highlands, breathing the cool air and well, drinking some much needed free coffee. But my heart goes out to the people who gathered  and once again fought the good fight.

Thank You!! Goodnight!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 - In retrospect

After a 4 month hiatus, I'm breaking the duck once more. 
It's been a rally, the past 6 months. More so, it had a lot to do with work. Being a litigator is not easy. I've thought I knew the costs of being one. And I'm reminded once more of how tiring it can be. Managing an average of 5-6 hours of sleep a day (I know, some people say that it's quite a lot and perhaps it is), sleepless nights aren't much fun especially waking up in the weee hours of the morning and just staring into deep space, counting sheep, hoping that you fall asleep once again without much fuss. 

But all that said and done and looking back at those times, it wasn't so bad afterall. We eventually survive. We will survive, since we live on hope even when hope seems to be nothing but a tiny flicker, yet, we latch on to it to get through the night. :) 
It was a roller-coaster year indeed, and also a year which sets out the foundations for my decision making and risk taking. Not yet, but I will get there very soon.

So, in retrospect, here are my bests and worsts of 2012


Seriously, this is a really tough decision to make..........nah. I'm just kidding. I should have perhaps chosen an Oscar contender, but alas, I'm bias and I follow my heart. I

It would be, yes you would have perhaps guessed it, The Dark Knight Rises. It's not as good as its predecessor, The Dark Knight, but it's an epic on its own. 

Don't get me wrong. I love many other movies as well. And Avengers would have been a close second. But comparatively, the intensity and drama didn't match the aforesaid Dark Knight who remains as brooding and conflicted as ever. 
Other notable movie mentions which are favourites of mine are The Amazing Spider-man, Judge Dredd and Moonrise Kingdom.

My favourite comedies, I've watched many comedies this year but Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator definitely takes the cake for it. I expected it to be another Borat-ish mockumentary but was quite delighted to find that there is a proper story set out The Dictator. So it has my vote for favourite comedy of the year, followed by Ted (seriously, who can resist a potty mouthed teddy bear?) and Will Ferrell's The Campaign (great stuff and a parody of the American election which is quite endearing). 


Now....we were suppose to go to Singapore to watch the Foo Fighters. Tickets were bought and plans were made. Alas Dave Grohl had a really bad throat infection and lost his voice. Monies were refunded, but it was a waste cause it would have been an awesome concert. 

To compensate the misfortune, I bought myself L'arc En Ciel tickets for their concert in Singapore. I was gearing up for that so much so that I started downloading the music which was kept in cassette form by me, which was eventually disposed off. So yes, it was downloads and new L'arc En Ciel album acquisitions. 
But alas.......national service came a-calling. And on 28 April 2012, on the day of the L'arc En Ciel concert, BERSIH 3.0 happened (which will be covered below). And I would miss L'arc En Ciel's first and perhaps only ever tour in South East Asia. Damn.........
Anyhow, no regrets going for Bersih 3.0. I would have decided to go for Bersih 3.0 anyway. 

But the Avenged Sevenfold  (A7X) concert more than compensated for the above bereavement and grief of missing out on two concerts thus far. The Avenged Sevenfold was really tight and each beat was played out precisely! 

I never was a fan of Avenged Sevenfold and was only there so that I get to see a concert in 2012. But like many other prudent people going concerts, we listened as much as we can to AX7 and slowly but surely, I developed a liking for them. And on that day of the concert it was a done deal. I was an official fan of A7X. Energetic, frenetic and I wished I could sing more of their songs at the concert, but I can't cause I'm not familiar with the lyrics. Anyway, here's a video for you if you are either curious or interested.

But the best album, that I've bought for myself, would definitely be this one:-

Tempered Mental's Pax Automata

I've been anticipating their follow up album after The View From Here. I loved their previous album and the EP (Honestly) way way earlier. But this one transcends my expectations. The songs were executed with perfect timing and pinpoint accuracy. The songs were edgy and tight. And progressive rock never sounded so good. Melina was as usual, slapping the bass and singing where no men (or women) can master. Except Les Claypool of course. Jack's guitar shredding puts him on top as one of the best (and technical) players this side of Malaysia. And Jimmy does what he does best, keep the timing tight and attack when needed. Purely technical but enjoyable and rocking stuff. I had the opportunity to watch them launch Pax Automata and what an experience it was. I've been to many Tempered Mental outings but this one was easily the best. Malaysia's best band in my humble opinion.

So that's my album of 2012. Yes Sir. Crap. Can't upload any videos from the launch though. :(


There were many events that had happened over the year. There were some weddings. There were some wakes and funerals. There were performances. And then there were demonstrations. 
The biggest event for me in 2012 would be the Bersih 3.0 rally. 5 years down after the first Bersih rally back in 10 November 2007, the people marched on for cleaner elections and a more transparent process. I have in my own words documented this in my post here.
In light of the upcoming general elections, pressure needed to be asserted to ensure that the terms of the Memorandum from Bersih 2.0 will be clearly adhered to. Dato' Ambiga, chair of the Bersih coalition had warned that the upcoming elections would be the dirtiest. From the events that happened since the political tsunami of 2008, one would not challenge that assertion. 
Things are changing still and the process will be even more evident. But once again, it was encouraging to see familiar faces once more (veterans of the Bersih rallies, and I'm one of them if I do say so meself :) nyahahah) and new faces who have joined in to voice their concerns of the decadence of the ruling coalition.
Speculation on the dates for the general elections were pushed further and we may see experience the general elections in the first (or second quarter) of 2013. We will be ready then. And hopefully we see more change happening. The good fight continues on....

The other notable event would be the KL Bar Charity Night. SYB performed once more. I should be blogging about this as a tribute to our cover band. But here's the nutshell of it. It was a great night. We played our hearts out. The crowd was supportive and enjoyed our music (hopefully) and we hope we will continue to play for more events in the future. 

 We played a few covers. 6 in all. The list goes like this:-
1. King of Wishful Thinking by Go West
2. Rolling in the Deep by Adele
3. Don't Stop Believing by Journey 
4. Zombie by Cranberries
5. That's What You Get by Paramore and 
6. I Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

But here's 3 of the videos. I will perhaps post the rest up in another posts. If anything we're just a cover band, so we're not perfect :D

The lovely Raja Nadia Sabrina was our guest singer for two of the songs. This one is Zombie

Paramore's That's What you Get

and then below, Swtichfoot's Dare You to Move

Hopefully I get all the videos of SYB and I can post up a full song list in my next post. Whether you like it or not! Muahahah!

By the way, we also performed at the KLCC Plenary Hall. Michael Bolton held a concert there 3 weeks later. Just saying. 

Also notable was my trip to South Korea. It was an experience, culturally and err socially. Its a fact, there are many good looking people in Korea, and how do they all look so good? :)'s your guess. But I enjoyed every bit of the trip; from the food I've tasted, from the wonderful places we visited and the people we meet along the way. Heck, given a chance I would go back there once more. Then again, there are many places I've yet to step foot on. Still the idea is an idea kept in view. 
We traveled cheaply and backpacked as much as we can. It made the whole trip even more worthwhile. 

Now here's the funny thing. Up this part, I can no longer posts any pictures. Probably I overused my quota of pictures for 2012. Hahaha. Oh well, just my luck. 

Oh yeah. And St Michael's had it's centenary dinner finally. It was a gathering of familiar faces. Ancient and young. Alumnis of La Salle who made their way from all over not only the country but from the globe as well. We gathered, we sang, we feast and we drank. And I'm reminded of why it is possibly the best school on Earth, ahahah (We Michaelians are a proud lot). And it has been an honour to have spend the best (and worst days) of my studying life in St Michael. 

To that I say, Quis Ut Deus (who is like God?)!

World Events 

Obama wins the presidential elections and will yet serve another term. Joy to the Democrats. Not so the Republicans. 

There were tragic events as well. Notably, two shocking and shooting events in the US. 
The first in Aurora Colorado where a lone gunman fired into a movie theatre whilst showing the Dark Knight Rises. The gunman was arrested. The identity of the person was later revealed to be James Eagen Holmes. His trial is still and on-going event. 

And then there was the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Reminiscent of the Columbine massacre in 1999, only this time, it's in an elementary school. The death toll and fatalities was about 20 odd children and 2 adults. The lone gunman, Adam Lanza committed suicide after the shooting before help arrived. 

Whilst I read about this and vicariously experience the tragedy, one can not help but ponder once again on what is it that drives some people to the edge. Over these episodes, questions arose, on whether gun enforcement should be stricter, or whether these gunmen are themselves victim of social ills? 

In India in December, 2012, notably the brutal sexual assault of an medical student on board a bus (her friend was assaulted as well) and thrown off a moving bus has sparked outrage in the heart of India. It was one of the most crushing and heartbreaking news of 2012, on how the student cling on for life after the assault only to die 13 days later in a Singaporean Hospital. We can only hope that this event, would have sparked not just an outrage but also spark reforms on what seems to be the chauvinistic attitude towards women. Not just in India, but around the world, to strip down the chauvinistic attitude that men in some archaic nations (including ours) have always harboured and to pound in them the humility and respect that they owe women around the world. 

Ok, I felt kinda depressed penning down the last bit. 

On a sunnier note.....


On the sporting front, Manchester United lost the title to their noisy neighbours, Manchester City. Was it shocking? Not really. The most shocking thing was of course how United lost the lead whilst ahead by quite a margin by losing game after game. But the title was tightly contested nevertheless and in the end, the title was won on goal difference. 
We were in South Korea in the district of Itaewon (not many EPL fans in Korea I reckon) drinking our beers and drowned our sorrows when QPR conveniently lost to City in the dying minutes. A draw would have sufficed but at the end of the day it was not to be. 
So the noisy neighbours take the 2011/2012 title and United are left reeling. Of course, now, with the acquisition of Robin Van Persie at the expense of Arsenal, things are looking bright once more. Lets hope it stays that way. 

And then our Dato' Lee Chong Wei put up a gallant fight but was unable to deny his arch-nemesis and friend, Lin Dan of China from taking home the gold medal at the Olympics. 
That was my highlight of the Olympics. :) Wished I could remember the other medalists, but not at the top of my head right now. 

And Spain prove itself to be a formidable force once more in football by trashing the Italians 4-0 in the finals. Not only are they the World Champions but they remain the unbeaten champs of European football. A feat not easy or unprecedented even, that a team would win 3 consecutive championships. Spain has come of age and are no longer playing second fiddle to the powerhouses of old, i.e. Germany and Italy. I supported the Netherlands in this one. But they couldn't kick themselves into second gear and bowed out horribly without any point. They came with great expectations but collapsed under the burden of that expectation. 

Below are the highlights of the final. Watch how Italy is made mincemeat by the Spaniards.


The ancient Mayans predicted that the world would end in 21.12.12. It didn't. We survived the 'apocalypse'. But having said that, we are in our last days anyway, so it's just a matter of time.
But anyway, with 2012 gone and I've resigned from my current job, changes will come, rest assured. New challenges will be ever present. And I will continue blogging as long as I can with the things that interest me. 

And I end 2012 with this:-

2012, an epic, I have not,

But a rhyme or two,
A ponder, a thought.

It brought the worst,
And the best of times,
In friendships and fellowships,
And brotherhoods that bind.

Events that ensue,
Of wakes and weddings,
Of life and death,
Of funerals and blessings.

The successes and joy,  
Together we shared,
And tragedies that ensued,
In solidarity to bear.

Of hopes and dreams,
That may have fall short,
Of lessons we learnt,
Let them not be forgot.

So we bring new hope,
In the days to come,
Of planned resolutions,
May they be done.

As I shut the doors,
For a year gone by,
And I usher in a new year,
With a smile and a sigh.

A memorable 2012,
Has it at all not been,
Happy New Years to all,
Happy 2013.

My grammar sucks. Bite me.