Saturday, March 31, 2007

Go Put Your Records On

Music is a form of self expression. What you choose to pleasant your ears with is a choice that probably could define who you are or help people to understand you in a light that might not be easily achievable in other means. But what happens when music becomes a “business expression” instead. Evidently, we are in the midst of an era where we switch on the radio and all that could be heard is necessarily the “same” pieces of obnoxiously copyright not-controlled craps? Ouuh, it’s the PussyCatDolls, then there’s the PussyCatDolls and there’s…. the PussyCatDolls… again… All the DJ needs to do is record her voice and replay it over and over for you.

Okay, maybe not that bad. But if you have carefully scrutinized the music industry in recent years (both, locally and internationally) like I did when I’m supposed to be focusing more on my studies, then you’d probably detect the pattern of similar sounds ruling the airwaves. Everybody wants the sure hit and subscribe to a sure-hit music writer. Let me take an example from the R&B and Hip Hop genre. First there was the Dr. Dre fever, then we moved on to N.E.R.D or else known as the Neptunes or what is essentially largely known ONLY as Pharrell Williams before briefly locking our eyes on Will.I.Am of BEP and continuing the trend is the Kanye West phenomenon with the shrilly high pitched modified backing vocals. Now, everyone wants their first single to be penned by Timbaland, thanks to the massive and presumably then-innovative hits collaborated with Abang Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. Predictability has garnered in the industry for the years when we thought technology will enable us to explore more things and go further than we used to.

Lately, there has been little reason to tune in to MTV because every video clip looks more or less the same, directed by the same directors (ie HYPE Williams and Hype Williams and.. er Hype Williams), with the same video chicks with a slight change as time progresses. What changes, you ask? Well, the women seem to have less and less clothes on everyday but count yourself lucky because Missy Elliot decides to continue having relatively fabric more on herself (phew!). Even the collaboration is very close-knitted. You’ll find John Legend in every recent album doing some background vocals and deserving a credit for singing a four line chorus as a featured artist, Kanye West spurts some tacky rap lines in what seems like an array of schlocky new hits and Chris Brown contributes his “I’m a man but I’m proud of my uncracked boy’s voice too” to some other.

Thus, don’t be surprised by the recent statistics showing that most of the highest grossing albums dating from 2000 are albums of artist from the 60s to 80s. People of these eras relatively showed more of themselves in their songs and it was a time where it was quintessential for them to come out with a genuine musical identity or signature that could be identified by all. When Marvin Gaye asked “What’s Goin’ On?”, the world stopped with him and asked themselves what ever happened to humanity. When Janis Joplin sang about herself and her Bobby McGee, every girl remembered their own “Bobbies” too. Stevie Wonder had his own Conversation Peace in the early 90s after talking about Superstitions. All of them talked about different things that haunt our mind but never dared to question ourselves.

Let me quote the ever so youthful frontman of Silverchair, Daniel Johns who said “We are a band, not a brand”. Although I personally think that is not entirely possible once you are a part of one of the most renowned Australian band, wahai Abang Daniel-ku yang kacak, I do see his point that music should be able to send a message that comes from the heart while going beyond the normality and boundary of the mind too. Hip Hop started out as an expression against oppression and yet now it oppresses its ownself. Folk used to be THE food for the folks, now it has changed into a blanket for dreamers all day long. Of course there are many choices as to what you can hear but do we really want to be known as the generation of “shake that A, crooked letter, crooked letter all night long” by the future Googlers?? Reality TV is demeaning enough, I reckon.

The Facts Of Life II

The second installment to the "long awaited" lists of facts I've gathered all this while.. These facts could come in handy for the trivia nights, people... Enjoy!

* The average person spends two years on the phone in his/her lifetime.

* August has the highest percentage of birth.

* Google is a number (1 followed by 100 zeros.

* The average person's left had does 56% of the typing.

* There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

* Rubber bands last longer when they are refrigerated.

* Toothbrush was invented in 1498.

* Mageiricophobia is the intense fear of having to cook.

* People don't get sick form the cold weather, it's from staying indoors a lot more than usual.

* Strawberries contain more Vitamin C than oranges.

* A one-day weather forecast requires 10 billion math calculation.

* The bird that lays the largest egg in realtion to its own size is the Kiwi.

* Guinness Book of Records holds the record as the most stolen books from public libraries.

* Every year, the Moon moves a further 3.82cm from the Earth.

* The Eiffel Tower has 1792 steps.

* If we count the stars in a galaxy at a rate of one every second, it would take us 3000 years to count them all.

* Just 20 seconds worth of fuel remained when Apollo's 13 lunar module landed on the moon.

* The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows.

* Elephants are the only animals who can't jump.

* On average, a four year child asks 437 questions a day.

* Swedish people drink more coffee than any other race in the world.

* Almonds are a member of the peach family.

* All the clocks in Pulp Fiction are stuck at 4.20.

* There are more plastic flamingos than real ones in America.

* A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

* There's more than 25000 km of neon tubing in the signs on the strip and downtown Las Vegas.

* Animals that lay eggs don't have belly button.

* 1000 tonnes of meteor dust falls to Earth each day.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Top Five Series: I

If you have read Nick Hornby's High Fidelity or have watched the movie at least, you would see the rationality of listing down things so that when something unexpected happens at the spur of a moment, you have some comfort into looking at them... The comfort of a familiarity that will never leave you.. that this is, indeed the most profoundly grounding things that ever happened to you or the world... Is it true?? Let's test it out, shall we??

The Top Five Embarassing Moments

1) When I stupidiously said to an obnixously arrogant member of the so-called ground breaking Malayisan hip hop group, Rebel Scum that I haven't heard much of them since their last single, Damn Dirty Apes... Just so you know, Damn Dirty Apes is actually a 4 piece Malaysian indie rock group who once produced a single called "Rebel Scum" and they have nothing to do with Rebel Scum, the group.. Talk about coincidence and embarassment...

2) When a friend of mine casually said this about me in front of a guy while i was there too. "Eleh, ana.. kenapa malu-malu pulak sekarang??? kalau belakang cik abang kita ni(who will remain nameless for many, many reasons), you are the screaming number one fan.. nak control ayu ke???".. kenapalah she had to say that in front of the guy with one of the best voice in Malaysia and make me appear like a dumb blonde with brunette hair? The rest is really HISTORY between me and her...

3) When I was "caught" by daddy while I was trying on mummy's lingerie when I was around 6... He laughed and laughed and called up my mum. Mummy scolded me pretty hard. I could still feel me blushing. Why did I tried it on in the first place again??

4) When I was scolded in Primary 6 by Cikgu Yahizan Che Yap who taught us Science. I don't quite remember how it all started but I remember replying to his comment about something that sounded racist. He went ballistic after that and called me a snob and said that I was stuck up because i was in the first class... don't think that you're smart enough... you are nothing.. how dare you reply me??? you think you're that great just because you speak english better than the rest of us here in the classroom?? The insults went on for about 15 minutes and nobody comforted me even after he left. I was shaken, embarassed and decided not to come the day after. His comment? "Tahu pun dia takut.. Ingat bagus".. I still remember his face.

5) When I tripped over a wire in Low Yat Plaza where I once worked in, fell down in front of a myriad of people watching a Samsung showcase and tore my jeans on the knees. Something more miraculous happened then.. Somehow I just had to trip over the wire that was the main cable to the humungous LCD TV which is the central focus of the showcase. Everything just went "plup", the MC stopped talking, the VIP guests who just launched the product was astounded and there was I standing near the unconnected cable.

Looks like The Top Five Series will have to go on because this is so much fun besides the distressing effcets it has on the memory storage of the human brain... till then, chalo.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

6 Weird Things

Okay... here are the dire confessions... hehehehehehe

1) I can't sleep before i make sure that every single bottle of toiletries and things on the dressing table are exactly on the correct position where it's meant to be as well as making sure that all of the labels are on the right side so that I'm read them before I finally sleep

2) If i'm eating with my fingers, my index finger sticks out whenever it reaches the mouth. After eating, I will take a while before I wash my hands as to let the food sort of dry on my fingers.. Dunno why but I didn't realise it until a friend (i think it was Nina) pointed it out.

3) I have a weird ritual before I head to the shower. I will fold all the clothes I'v e used neatly and place it on the bed after taking them off even though I might use some of it afterwards. Even the clothes I intend to put in the laundry basket will be folded and placed there before I unfold it and toss it in the basket.

4) I have a recurring dream ever since I was a kid where a huge dog will chase me down a hill somewhere... Thus, explains why I think dogs are scary...

5) I can't see plates in the sink.. it drives me nuts. Need to compulsively wash them, sometimes no matter how late I am.

6) I have a poor sense of balance... When I was a kid, I used to bump into so many places and hurt the area around my eyebrows. If you look closely, some parts of my eyebrow have evident scars, sort of like patches where the hair don't grow on. Falling down the bed, biase dah! Now, my nephew seem to inherit that trait from me too.. hehehehehe

it was hard to confess but hey, we are weird in our own ways...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

6 Weird Things???!!!

6 weird things about me ek??

Coming soon.. It's hard to analyse one's weirdness...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Slick Click

The world is no longer a secure place. Nowadays, the notion of privacy is being invaded everyday not only by your sister who would jump over the fence out of happiness whenever you forgot to lock that diary up but also by almost everyone and anyone. Ok, a simple test… How many of us have been Googling up their ex and updating ourself on their daily life by sneaking around their Friendster or MySpace?? Reading up their new found love’s lovey dovey testimonials and comments while pretending to be disgusted??

If you’re possibly one of the 50 million users of MySpace or Friendster (number might have grown), you might know what I’m talking about. We have people on our friend’s list whom we barely know or remember but look at how many has viewed our page and do care to see how many you don’t have a clue where they came to know about your webpage. Scary notion, huh? But the sad thing is that we have advertised and advocated these invasions of privacy without even realising it half of the time.

In addition, we are also known as the generation of (fake) Reality TV and to tell you the absolute truth, I’ve never been proud of that. Yet I do find me telling myself, hurrm… it would be okay to see what the Big Brother contestants are doing at the middle of a Wednesday afternoon when they have absolutely no medium of entertainment at all… I make them my entertainment instead; as if I need to know what I can possibly do if I was stuck with 12 non-significant others with very low mental capacity in a house without my PC.

So, have we become the ignorant and crude bunch that the older and definitely not cooler generation saying we are? Have we lost the sense of respecting other people and is our nosiness getting over the limit? I knew it was true when I start wishing that Britney Spears would next be caught weaning her baby boy while getting a tattoo or probably decide to actually become a singer. We all crave for something bad or extravagant to happen in order to satisfy our curiosity. We decided that we have seen it all and we postulate that only the bad and the ugly can help us to renew that notion. Ever since everything is only a click away, we should have known we are to be altered forever and let’s hope this will not be the nadir of human civilisation. Fingers off that mouse and keep them crossed!

The Pursuit of Happyness

Yes, it is spelt with a “Y” instead of an “I” in case you are wondering. The movie revolves around the life of Chris Gardner (Will Smith), a salesperson who tries to make ends meet each month and ultimately, the job he currently has is the biggest blunder of his life. Having to sell one machine a month proves hard enough and his wife (Thandie Newton) refuses to live a life full of financial pressure anymore, leaving the father to care for the five year old Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith). Struggle after struggle came with the sales job until Gardner finally got his break when he was accepted into an internship programme at a successful stock brokerage firm.

The internship is his only hope for a better life for him and Christopher which is why he accepts the offer even though there is no salary to help them get by in the next 6 months. Having being evicted from home, stranded on the street, left with only two suits to wear at workplace, reduced to seeking shelter at a subway toilet did not cause Gardner to falter with his mission to finally afford to send Christopher to a day care centre that can spell happiness correctly.

Did he make it? Was the internship the answer to a pursuit of happiness? Well, if he didn’t become one of the most successful share broker in the States today, this movie wouldn’t be made in the first place. That’s common sense but it was really the question that haunted me all along the movie: If he had a better job, would it equal to happiness?

Well, one thing proved right. The person who said “Money is the root to all evil” has definitely had two sides of the argument analysed and pondered over. Poverty makes people push the limits and in a world where materialism can make you transgress, people on the streets kill each other for $5. Yet it is impossible to progress in life if you do not have the right notes.

For Gardner in this movie, money equals to food, shelter, and an education for Christopher that he himself was deprived from as a kid because his family couldn’t afford it. Although Gardner was a smart and talented, he did not have the right credentials for a good job thus causing him to live in detriments. Desperate to not let that happen to his son, he defies the world and took charge by taking a necessary risk.

It is interesting to learn how human quality was given such a strong attribute in this movie. Gardner made it by genuinely being himself and this creates a sense of triumph in every viewer when he overcomes a hurdle. We gasp for breath when the X-Ray machine was stolen by a hippie girl, cheers him on when he grabs it back from her a few weeks later and cry with him when he plays a make-believe game with Christopher in the subway’s toilet.

No wonder the movie only has one nomination in the Academy Awards, which was for Will Smith’s probably-not-as-good-as-Ali performance but still the man deserved the nomination. Jaden was also cute and endearing as his character should be but you can see the pain of struggle and courage in his eyes. Now, that’s pure characterisation as it comes from a kid who might have been driving in a mini Benz since he was 2. This movie deserves a watch for those reasons as well as a captivating screenplay that captures what Los Angeles essentially is from the point of view of a man who walks its street everyday.

Gaining Trust On Yourself

Doesn’t it just piss the wit out of you when you thought you just saw one of the most brilliant movies and at the very same weekend, some critic in the newspaper gives that same particular genius’ artwork a meagre 2 star? I was shattered and felt betrayed by my own choice. What you think is not what the world think, thus it is not good enough. I had to pretend to like things I despise, cajole myself to believe that chic lit is my cup of tea. But I got tired of pretending chiefly because I came to realise that when you’re lying about something you can’t stand, it shows in your every vein. Eventually, I found the strength and stopped reading the critics section and believing them when one of them actually said that Catherine Lim is one of the most overrated writers he has ever read.

Ask yourself these questions. What qualifies another person to unrightfully make you question your sense of intelligence and simultaneously deform your confidence in choosing a fairly decent food for the mind? Why do we seem to care so much about what others think and refuse to sometimes look at things from our point of view? Plainly put, it all has to do with the different strokes we actually take while we paint the canvas of our life. Yet everybody would love it more if you choose the same brush as theirs and paint the same Sunflower that Van Gogh did because it is a sure-hit. You succumb to the masses to be accepted and to fit in. I strived so much to be in synch and ultimately had to lose myself into the mainstream.

Luckily, I saved myself (have I?) but then, I wondered how many others have been captured in this intellectual entrapment and politely accepts whatever others say you must dig. A friend saying that Celine Dion is "The Bomb" (the bomb??), a lecturer saying Crime and Punishment is the book you must read and understand (which is very hard to do), a mentor saying that you have got to love that painting series by Latiff Mohiddin if you want to make it big yourself, a sibling saying grafitti is a waste of time and will never attract any achievement into your door step.

To be able to believe in yourself, you have to acknowledge the fact that Allah s.w.t made every human equally special and different. Thus, be proud to embrace those differences and treat yourself as the creature that God has granted upon many opportunities of vital self-expression. Whatever path you choose is a reflection of who you are and never give that away to ever-ready hands who would just love to have you twirled around their fingers.

The Pale Dark World

Scientifically, it is proven that the dark skinned people are way more fortunate the fair ones in terms of being in the risk of getting skin infection, acnes or even skin cancer… Thank Allah (s.w.t) for the abundance of melanine in my forefather’s skin now stringing up knots of genes in me. But as far as science proves something, my mind constantly strives to find the answer to this question: Why is it so difficult to be dark skinned?

I was five and startled when I first discovered why one of our Indian family friends decided to marry a Chinese girl despite the many choices his family bestowed upon him all these years. “They just weren’t good enough… too dark for my liking,” and that came from Uncle Charlie who can cause eclipse every night just by standing near the moon. Then there were the aunties’ chat in the kitchen of our Cameron Highlands’ “agam” house during one of those wedding seasons where one of the many far away second cousin’s daughter in law’s brother’s son is getting married and everybody in this extended family is obliged to attend because one of the groom’s aunt once gave RM1001 for one of our own weddings. It went something like “Atchoo.. This bride is not even half as pale as the pavaam sister of hers, Kumari who died last year in that accident. So, she must be wretched with much worst luck and would drag them into their house. Why do we need this kind of problems in our lineage?”

Too much for a five year old who just loves to eavesdrop into older people conversation while pretending to coo over the poor baby brother of mine who could be chewing the hair off my head for all I cared, I looked at my skin and saw the ripe darkness of it. If compared to the cousins from my mother’s side, they were almost always the favourite of my “atuk” whereas we were undeniably the favourite of my “patti” who has much more darker grandchildren than us. I wondered then, does love has radar for colour? Do we need to discriminate the colours before we are able to love? Do we identify more with colour than emotions? That was my sense of logic then at five.

As I grew up, everything on the TV showed that the darker skin is only secondary…All the backup dancers in the long and endless Hindi songs were far darker than the heroine, the villain in the Chinese movies needs to be at least three shades darker than the hero.. Hell, even the weakest Power Rangers is an African American. Which further reiterates the pounding voice in my head that says “poor thing, you gotta live with this skin for the rest of your life…” hence what has made part of my self confidence only a pretension to cover up the fact that I am actually not very happy when the kids in my Primary One class teases me over my dark skin which contradicts my race.

Then, during my teen years, I became unconsciously obsessed with trying to become fairer. Name the product, I’ve tried it. I’ve been caught up in the vehement race of a “clearer” image myself. When I recently went back for the holidays, everybody complimented me saying that I look different, better, if I must say but they never really said what it was. I asked my mum’s opinion (who is the most dependable person to answer this, of course), what does the compliment essentially mean? She replied, simply “Well, you’re fairer.” So what? All this while, I was invisible because I was 2 shades darker? Apparently becoming fairer did not made me feel better about the world around me.

Why is it so hard for people to look beyond skin colour? Apartheid lost in South Africa or didn’t it? The pariahs are no longer detected and despised for their dark complexion or are they? The segregation in the world has never changed the sight of human being although Allah s.w.t clearly firmans in Surah Fathir (35:28) which goes “And so amongst men and crawling creatures and cattle, are they of various colours. Those truly fear God, among His servants who have knowledge: for God is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving”. We strive to become better, richer, stronger but we have successfully failed to acknowledge that we are all the same underneath it all.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Malaysia's Got Talent

Infinatez is definitely one of the nation's best vocal groups and thanks to Gangstarz, Malaysia is able to watch them showcase what they do best... simply singing their hearts out as well as maintaining who they really are to their friends..

Infinatez has been around and seeing from the raving feedback (judging from the fact that my mum is their number one fan, hence the special top up card to vote for her now-favourite R&B group), they are here to stay..

too bad, I came back too early to miss out on watching them perform live on stage... That would have been better considering i haven't seen much of them during my holidays in Malaysia. Though, i'm loving Alvin as part of the group, a needed revamp, a guided change (so, alvin.... ape cite project solo?? need that anticipated record.. hehehehe)

Changes are good (andy's hair is straighter than mine now) and I look forward to being in the Fan Club.. besides, where would a group be without their so-called "groupie"

here is a clip from their first performance in gangstarz, enjoy and for those in Malaysia, VOTE!