playing favourites

When someone asks me for my favourite this or that, usually I’d be stumped for an answer. Let me give you a few examples of the ‘favourite questions’ and my take on them.

What is your favourite colour?
This one seems to be the norm, all the way from Standard 1 till your last breath. Browsing through my old ‘autograph books’ from primary and high school days, I used to like blue. Then I liked red. Then I liked purple. Then I liked black. Then I liked white. Then I learnt in Pendidikan Seni that white is not a colour. So I liked green. Two years later, I liked blue again, and the cycle continues.

Fuck lah, they are all the same to me lah.

Even if you asked me, would I prefer a blue shirt or a red shirt, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which. My rationale is this — it depends on the cut and design of the shirt, and what shades of blue or red it would be. Sometimes I look better in this design with this shade, sometimes the other.

I have a lime green skirt. I look great in it.

Sometimes you have all these personality tests that ask for your favourite colour because it would represent your personality. Erm… a bit generic, but whatever lah since they are mostly for mindless fun anyway. But everybody *knows* that if you choose black, you are a moody and depressed fuck. If you choose blue, you are well-balanced (why?). If you choose red, you could be aggresive and hit someone for no reason. If you choose yellow, you are as happy as the sun. Or you could be a sexually-promiscuous paedophile. You see, the possibilities are endless!

Heck, I should be making money from all these creative ideas.

What is your favourite animal?
My favourite animal is the walrus. Heck, I’ve never even seen a walrus in real life, but whatever since it’s the first thing that came to my mind. Walruses are big. Walruses have long tusks. Walruses are fat. The male walrus has a completely internal penis. In ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the walrus ate all the oysters. Yay for him.

Or my favourite animal could be the zebra. I’d always wanted to place a zebra in the middle of a zebra-crossing and have a truck completely run the poor sod down. I’d take lots of photos and put it on my blog. I like zebras.

But perhaps my REAL favourite animal is the cow. A large thick slab of medium-cooked steak, served with a nice baked potato with bacon bits and sour cream… no one can say no to that! Well unless you are Dabido, of course ;)

What/who is your favourite song/ singer/ band/ actor/ actress?
I oppose to the question above that promotes bias and prejudice.

What is your favourite flower?
The one in Bambi. But seriously, I DON’T CARE OMG!!!!!!!!

I’ve been accused of lacking in personality because I don’t seem to have preferences for a whole lot of things, which seems a tad absurd to me. I have better things to do with my time than trying to define my preferences to the point of limiting myself.

Of course if you ask me what is my favourite Starbucks drink, I’d tell you because it’s the only thing Starbucks drink I’d purchase. Or what movie to watch, because I’d be spending at least 100 minutes watching it.

But for everything else, bleh.

For conversation and comments sake, off the top of your head, what/who is your favourite [anything] at the moment?

The Red Kebaya – a sentimental, contemporary Malaysian story

The Red Kebaya - poster

During Ramadhan, we were invited to dinner with the cast and crew of The Red Kebaya. Along with that came an invitation to the premiere at MidValley, for which I took the day off from my day job to attend.

Before the movie started, Sandra Sodhy (TRK’s PR and publicist) said a few words, with a few lines reminding viewers to switch their mobile phones to silent mode. Well obviously Malaysians are going deaf. No matter how many times we are reminded to put our phones on silent mode, or NOT to answer phone calls during the movie, or NOT to constantly kick the back of the seat in front of you, we NEVER listen. And this was a preview screening, by invitation only, with the producers, directors, actors in the cinema hall. But some dumb fucks just cannot show respect by NOT giving road directions to his geographically-challenged friend in the middle of the movie. Twice. Very smart. If this were my movie, I’d fucking tie you up and feed you to the Sarlacci.

/rant over

The Red Kebaya - Samantha Schubert, Suanie and poster
With Samantha Schubert:

And so the story begins…

The Red Kebaya - Production stills, set

Latiff (RAMLI HASSAN). Photographer. City dweller, successful fella. Orphaned. Blocked memories from childhood. Went ahead to take photos of abandoned buildings around Malaysia as part of his next project. Saw visions of two kids, one of them who was also…

Latiff (MOHD. AFIF), a little boy whose mother was…

Azizah (VANIDAH IMRAN), a hot divorced/widowed joget girl who encountered and fell in love with…

John (BOB MERCER), an English expat who loved everything about Malaysia (the food, the people, the culture, the heat etc) and of course, loved Azizah. John was unfortunately married to…

Davinia (SAMANTHA SCHUBERT), who hated everything John loved about Malaysia, including Azizah. When she found out about the her husband’s feelings for Azizah, ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ pretty much described Davinia.

The Red Kebaya - Production stills, people

Other notable names in the movie are: Patrick Teoh, Zahim Al Bakri, Elaine Daly, Paula Malai Ali, Sabera Shaik, Jo Kukuthas and Fauziah Nawi (who had a very short but most memorable role, that is if you could recognise her in the movie ;) ).

Because everyone likes lists, here’s one:

  • The Red Kebaya producers are Andre Berly and Ramli Hassan, and the director is Oliver Knott
  • The Red Kebaya was shot entirely in Malaysia. They did the dolby-dolby stuff and show prints in Australia. Post-production stuff were completed at ADDAudio, a Malaysian studio
  • Bob Mercer had just 3 weeks to learn all his lines in Bahasa Malaysia
  • Principal photography took 35 days
  • Initially the owners of the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion were reluctant to have their premise used for filming. But after a series of meetings and much persuasion that lead them to better understand the concept of the movie, they finally allowed it
  • Oliver Knott did not know what a ‘kebaya’ was prior to the movie
  • The budget for TRK is RM 1.5 million. RM1.5 million can buy you 202702 packs of fags, 150000 large Big Mac meals, 3000 sets of 21″ TVs.
  • RM 1,500,000 is also around USD$ 410,778. You need to top up that amount by 486 times to be able to make Spiderman 2.
  • I am guessing this is a privately-funded movie, as deliverance was mostly in English. But I didn’t ask for sure.
  • The producers/director set this movie around the 50s/60s, no specific time line, so they tried to create a suitable environment — visual and sound to suit that era. Was still pretty funny to see a bouncer in a black jacket outside a joget club though. Some things never change.
  • The nice folks at Rising Above will be hosting a dinner charity night on Monday night at BSC… hey, that’s tonight! Plus they will also get lots of underprivileged kids to go watch TRK on Wednesday, courtesy of kind people who donate to them, so yeah it’s nice of them to do that.

The Red Kebaya - Cast and Crew

My thoughts on TRK

Great poster. Excellent score/soundtrack. Beautiful cinematography. Beautiful use of locations. Some sound glitches but I understood that to be the cinema’s technical problem. Some performances were overly theatrical, don’t translate well to movies. Storyline is different from other local movies so far, which is a good thing. A couple scenes in the movie tak masuk akal; either continuity problem or just too plain odd to comprehend. Costumes were beautiful.

The Red Kebaya - Vanidah Imran with Suanie
Suanie: You should have worn the red kebaya lah..
Vanidah: Kenot, too sexy, later you all nosebleed.

Vanidah Imran was damn hot. Samantha Schubert was rather good as someone you would love to hate. Bob Mercer’s character was a bit of useless lembik bugger, he did it rather well. Sometimes you just want to shout at him, BE A MAN! Patrick Teoh’s role was nice, one that you would not really appreciate until the end of the movie. Some scenes just broke my heart. Some scenes weren’t supposed to be funny, but the audience laughed anyway. Some parts a bit too corny, slow and long. Some parts scared the shit out of me. Well, I am easily freaked out what…

OVERALL, The Red Kebaya unashamedly tags itself as a love story, and it is really rather different from other Malaysian movies — the concept, the execution, the delivery and so on till the end of Kudat. I quite enjoyed myself, it was a day off well-spent, and I urge you movie-goers to go catch this movie and make up your own minds on it so we could have a discussion (before the cinemas take them off the screens much earlier, as they often do with local movies). It’s a struggle for me not wanting to reveal more of the plot as not to spoil it for those who will watch it, but so dying to talk about the content!

I posed a question during the press conference, something about why did they choose the ending they chose instead of another version, which I’d thought would be much better for closure. Oliver Knott (the director) and Ramli Hassan (co-producer and lead actor) replied that they went through several endings, but decided that the closure that I thought was good would be too predictable. Besides that angle had been played to death in other movies (literally). I guess it was a nice decision to end the movie in hope and gladness.

The Red Kebaya - Samantha Schubert with Suanie
Samantha: Are we done with the fake dialogue yet?
Suanie: Why? Do they suck so bad? :(

So if you want to know what the heck I’m talking about, go watch The Red Kebaya when it opens in Malaysian cinemas (GSC) on 23 November 2006. Be sure to catch it early, for reasons I have stated above.

Kate James (film editor and post-production supervisor) helped me to ask Andre Berly (co-producer) for permission to upload a couple of song clips from the soundtrack onto my blog. He said yes (thanks Andre and Kate!) and here they are, two songs that I really love. Very P-Ramlee Malaysian.

Joget Selendang Sayang – 0.55 mins
Mengharap Sinar Kasih – 0.34 mins

Music by S. Atan, lyrics by Nurul Asyikin, vocals by Sheila Abdul and Arifin Tioh.

If you would check out TRK’s site, you’ll hear a nice piano tune in the background. I absolutely love the melancholy composition, and sometimes I just leave the window open so I could listen to the tune while doing other stuff.

So, The Red Kebaya23 November 2006… GSC… go watch!

Other reviews (aka people who make more sense than me): Reta (and awaiting!!!)

So after the preview screening/ press conference/ excellent lunch, I was chilling at Starbucks to get something from J, and some of the cast and crew of TRK walked in, including Ramli Hassan. Our eyes met and he exclaimed, “I think I know this person!” and he came over and we hugged. We talked a little, then J helped us to take this shot.

The Red Kebaya - Ramli Hassan with Suanie
Ramli: How much you wanna pay me for the photo?
Suanie: How much are you worth?
Ramli: For you, free lah, as long as you write about TRK!
Suanie: Wah, you so cheap!!!
Ramli: Yah I memang cheap what!
Suanie: It’s ok lah, I also cheap one.

Didn’t have to fake that one :)

Other reviews: Sultan Muzaffar

cinta the movie: a rollercoaster ride through love

Last week I was invited to attend a special preview screening for the movie CINTA. Sounds good, I’d watched the ads for it on TV, plus it stars one of my favourite local actresses – Sharifah Amani. PLUS it’s free.

But deep within the cheapskate in me, I do enjoy and support the local art/entertainment community. Well, depends also lah. If you ask me to watch Cicakman, terima kasih sajalah. If you ask me to watch Afdlin Shauki‘s Sumolah, I might go for it, the only reservations being the soundscape quality which is seriouslyx100 lacking in all of Afdlin’s movies. If you’ve watched any of his movies before, you will know what I mean lah.

I don’t mind watching ‘Puteri Gunung Ledang’ in the cinema again (even though you can’t drink anything for fear of bursting your bladder ‘cos the movie is so damn long). When ‘Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam’ came out, I was tempted to go watch it but for some reason I could not make it. I’m glad I didn’t — that movie defined suckiness (watched it on Astro Ria during Raya). With local productions — movies and plays, it’s a hit or miss thing. I just wish for more of the former than the latter.

Enough with digressing. The point I was going to make was that I enjoy watching and observing the development of our local entertainment industry (which seems to comprise of mostly productions in Malay if they are movies; I wonder if this could be a reason?) and so far they are improving by the minute. Then again I tend to avoid Scenario-type slapstick and I seriously hope my fellow citizens come to their good senses as well.

CINTA:10 stars, 5 love stories, one movie. Maklumlah dapat support daripada Media Prima pasal all the actors/actresses are quite hot and in demand, heheh. See, looks matter.

In a nutshell, it’s a story about love. Can I end this review here? Heheh *runs*.

*Comes back* CINTA ambitiously undertakes to illustrate the various forms of love within 5 stories. At this point you can’t help but to compare it with Love Actually where all the individuals are somehow connected to each other. Well it’s rather like this in CINTA as well, but as it’s not a unique form of story-telling, it doesn’t really matter (as in, Richard Curtis did not invent that).

All 5 stories take place in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia where shots taking in the Twin Towers and KL Tower (but more of the Twin Towers) are maximised for a location identification purpose. Sometimes it felt a bit like those feel-good Nescafe advertisements. I posed the question of whether the director (Kabir Bhatia, who was not present the day we attended the preview screening) had previous experience shooting advertisements (I was not familiar with his works prior to this). One of the guys there (I forgot who, sorry) answered that it’s only that we are so used to these kind of shots being commercialised in Malaysia, where in fact movie makers all over the world have been and still are using these cinematography options. Hence it’s a matter of mind shift. Fair enough.

The following is a brief run-down for all the five stories; the synopsis are copied from the movie’s website, so I disclaim all continuity and sentence flow irregularities :D

CINTA - Unggul

Age does not diminish one’s capacity for love or need for companionship. The marching of time has not been kind to Elyas (Dato’ Rahim Razali), a retired schoolteacher. But despite illness and age, Rubiah (Fatimah Abu Bakar), a compassionate and kind woman sees Elyas’ dignity and spirit shining through. Can you recognise the face of it, even if you have no memory of it? Does love have to end in your advancing years?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that there is an expiry date for love. One can continue loving another long after s/he passes on to the Pearly Gates, so I don’t see any problem when it comes to this (Too Young To Die, anyone?). I feel that the last line in the synopsis, the question was a bit blah. It hints of Elyas and Rubiah’s relationship being opposed to, and that was not the case in the movie. Well I don’t know why I’m so anal about the copywriting, but I guess I take more notice because this story is actually my favourite among the 5.

I liked Dato’ Rahim Razali’s performance, though Sharizal said he’d seen him do better. Fatimah Abu Bakar (who incidentally is Sharifah Amani’s mother) was rather sweet and superb. There were some tear-jerking moments as the script gives us a glimpse of what it is like to have old age and illness creep upon you. I always get sad when I see older people suffering, thinking of their contributions to society when they were younger and how it all will go away soon (I’m pessimistic like that) and knowing though hardly believing one day it would be my turn (as with all younger people).

There were elements of filial piety and ‘kacang tak lupa kulit’, something you may see on ‘Cerekarama’ (which has quite a few rather good tele-movies).

CINTA - Romantis

Love really does happen when you least expect it. An unexpected meeting leads to an unexpected depth of feeling for Azlan (Eizlan Yusuff), a wealthy, eligible bachelor who runs a publishing empire. He meets Azura (Fasha Sandha), a strong and independant if opinionated book store assistant and romantically pursues Azura. But when she falls for him, is this girl from a simple background finally good enough for him?

I think Eizlan Yusuff was kinda good-looking :P Fasha Sandha was kinda hot too. The similarity between the two was that their acting could get a tad stiff at times. Not so natural. And maybe it was a script-thing, but a couple of the scenes were too cliché and overkill. I know, I watch too many movies :D

The story itself is sweet, rather Cinderella-like. I think a lot of men should take note of the moral of this story. What is it? Don’t want to spoil the storyline lah.

CINTA - Abadi

Dyan (Nanu Baharudin) is a rich, successful architect but unlucky in love. Trapped in a love triangle, Dyan is protective of her younger brother Dhani (Que Haidar), a struggling artist who seems to lack ambition. Frustrated that her brother is wasting his talents, Dyan urges him to change his life. What sacrifices are you willing to make for the one you love?

My second favourite story! Well it could be a rather close-tie with ‘Unggul’ except that there were some questions regarding the medical condition of the brother. Again I don’t want to spoil it for those who will watch it, but I think maybe a lack of other medical options were not offered prior to the one big risky option.

But I can relate rather well with this story, seeing that I am the youngest in a family of 3 sisters and at times they could be rather protective of me. Which is a good thing, because if someone doesn’t care about you, s/he would not bother with you at all. Just that sometimes it could be rather frustrating because other people seem to know best, or portray that sentiment. I’m guessing everyone with an elder sibling can relate to this :) And everyone with a younger sibling will know and understand the feeling of wanting the best for the younger ones so they don’t get misguided or hurt.

A rather emotional story for me, especially during one of the final scenes. The cinematography was beautiful, heart-wretching and evoked all sorts of feelings within me. I shed more than a few tears, shhh.

Nanu Bahaudin rocked.

CINTA - Sepenuh Jiwa

Ignorance is bliss. Harris (Rashidi Ishak) who has built a thriving architect’s firm with Dyan, seems to have it all — a beautiful wife Airin (Rita Rudaini), a beautiful daughter, a beautiful life. Until he wakes up one day to find out that his perfect life is but an illusion. Does he fight for her to stay, or does true love mean letting go of the one you love the most?

I didn’t like the opening scene of this story. Too… overdone, too stiff, anyone with half a head could see what was wrong, even just by looking at the person’s facial expressions. So maybe Harris was in denial all this while? When someone distance themselves emotionally from you, you can feel it no matter what. Unless of course you are as dense as a coconut tree. So that was a bit confusing for me.

Kinda sad also lah, to lose everything overnight. The daughter’s performance was numero uno! Can top many actors/actresses in our tanahair. There was a sequence in the middle of the movie where scenes of Rita and Dyan overlapped each other, I got kinda confused and had to ask the FA to explain a bit. They both looked a bit same to me lah, females with long hair. The others didn’t think that they looked alike. Well, I *was* tired…

Just found out the other day that Rashidi Ishak is husband to Vanidah Imran. So lucky! And was reading some pointless tabloid the other day that said Rita Rudaini had some connection/friendship with Mawisux. So unlucky!

CINTA - Tulus

Arianna (Sharifah Amani) is a young girl who is literally looking for love in the wrong places in the city with the help of a kind stranger, Taufiq (Pierre Andre), a young journalist with a struggling tabloid. By depending on the kindness of strangers, does Arianna find the love that she desperately seeks or does she finally sees the one that truly loves her?

I heart Sharifah Amani. But I realised that there was something a bit not right with her role, or the portrayal of her role in this story. Sekejap muram, sekejap hyper cute and happy, sekejap this and that, consistency a bit off… quite scary to know someone like that in real life leh.

No wait, I AM like that in real life… :D

Manakala Pierre Andre sort of reprises his role from Gol & Gincu, that is the nice quiet boy loving the girl from afar. In the movies they always get the girl in the end. But this doesn’t happen in real life lah. Still, no harm hoping, kan? :D

I didn’t like PA’s acting so much, I thought he was a bit kayu. But according to Sharizal and TV Smith, he did a good job with his role. PA was the only artist who went for the screening that we attended, and he mentioned that the director controlled the direction (duh, hehe) of the movie with an iron fist. This included but not limited to the performances of the actors. So I guess the director had a vision he wanted to convey lah, instead of letting the actors do their own thang a bit.

There was a scene in this story where they had to wait for 3 trains to pass by at the same time. Interesting trivia.

Overall, CINTA is a feel-good movie that relies on our capability to love to make it work. It did for me, I rather enjoyed it, and I hope you will too when you catch it at the cinemas starting 30th November 2006.

In the meantime, enjoy these two music videos from the soundtrack of CINTA below. Clips from the movie are included, so you can sort of get a feel of the movie, prior to watching it in the cinema of course ;)

Sewaktu Dahulu by Andy of Flop Poppy.

Perpisahan by Anuar Zain.

Check out the official CINTA the movie website here. You can watch a brief trailer of CINTA the Movie here. Other reviews: Fireangel, KY, Budiey, Sultan Muzaffar.

the ultimate guide to ‘yanni live! the concert event’

Yanni Live! The Concert Event

Sometime back I received an e-mail from Nico, asking if I would be interested to review Yanni Live! The Concert Event on DVD. You know how I feel about free stuff — being a Malaysian and even better (or worse), a Malaysian Chinese.. but in case you didn’t, I ADORE THEM, SEND THEM ALL TO MEEEEE THXXXX!!!!! And so I said yes.

A week later, a package from USA arrived. I was a bit surprised as I didn’t realise that Nico was writing from LA — I’d been communicating with her using Manglish and felt more than slightly embarrassed that she had to witness first-hand my murdering the English language. By the way, was the previous sentence grammatically-correct? Oh well.

Back to Yanni…

Honestly, the guy is nothing to look at. Maybe because I don’t have a thing for George Lam, then again I don’t find men with moustache attractive. It tickles. My sis think he’s sexy though.

But boy, can he make some awesome tunes! I’ve loved ‘Aria’ ever since I first heard it in the British Airway ads. And now you can’t sit in my car without listening to the ‘Yanni Live! The Concert Event’ CD. Certain people can attest to that :D

For more info about the man, you can always check out his Wikipedia entry.

About ‘Yanni Live! The Concert Event’

“Yanni Live! The Concert Event” was filmed in front of more than 10,000 people at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas as part of his Yanni Live 2005 World Tour.

In short, it was a beautiful show. Though Yanni wore a really ugly grey sweater (and that moustache z0mg) but luckily it didn’t affect his music in any way. Guess I’m being rather shallow here, but sorry lah, there’s just something about facial hair that brings out the worst in me.

The atmosphere was electrifying, the timing impeccable, the musicians SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY talented — each and every one of them, the laser show fits in perfectly, the vocals melodious, the instruments eye-opening, the crowd responsive, the music composition flawless! I’ve since watched the DVD over 10 times now, and every single time I felt the same as when I was watching it the first time – in awe. How can some people have SO MUCH talent, it seems almost unfair!!! (until you realise how much hours and hard work they put in to get to be so good, then you go back to watching telly)

Yanni said he was the catalyst to bringing everyone from different countries, culture and musical background together. I think he pretty much succeeded in that area. Throughout the show he was mostly at the multi-level keyboard thingy (I’m not so good with instruments names), and a couple of times at the grand piano. The musicians seemed to be in a massive impromptu jamming session, enjoying themselves and doing their own things that somehow some way magically transformed into a beautiful teamwork piece. That is until you realised Yanni knew every single melody, every single tune, every single time a different instrument is featured… very obvious if you notice the way he air-strummed to someone etc, always in time for the next featured instrument. I mean, of course he should know, the man composed everything. Still it’s a pretty amazing thing to see.

You will also notice that all of Yanni’s songs are infused with different music genre. You could be listening to tribal now, then jazz the next, then something with an Oriental touch, then maybe a little Latin, classical… and in a couple of the songs, all these genres add up to one big explosive fusion performance. Me likey.

Am I done gushing yet? NO! Check out these people with their toys!

Yanni musicians

Okay I know it’s not the clearest photo around, you can see the larger version here. But eh, you try looking for nice photos of them musicians… I e-mailed a couple of them asking for photos, but being so insignificant I don’t really expect a reply. Yeah I know my place in life sometimes :P

See the guy in second row, second from left playing violin? That’s Samvel Yervinyan whom I think is the greatest violinist since… actually I don’t really know of many other violinists, heh. Suffice to say it was a great pleasure watching Samvel play — he was immensely intense, he brought so much emotion to his performance, he had perfect showmanship and his timing was flawless. Yeah he’s no Brad Pitt, but then Brad Pitt can never hope to play the violin like Samvel, at least not in this lifetime. Besides, I’ve always appreciated talent over looks ;) Samvel is from Armenia. I LOVE THIS ARMENIAN! :D By the way he’s only 40 this year lah ;)

See the guy in first row, third from left holding a harp? That, Chen is Victor Espinola, le harpist. He wasn’t half-naked but man, can he play the Paraguayan electric harp! :D

The guy with the afro hair playing the flute is Pedro Eustache. He could blow just about anything you give him :D

The rest were great as well, but I’m lazy to list all of them. You can read more about them at Yanni’s website.

By the way I am guessing that a lot of the songs aren’t new — I’ve not been very much exposed to his music other than the haunting ‘Aria’ courtesy of British Airways. Was going to do a Google search on which songs are new/not, but then I am not the most motivated person I know.

Run-down for each song

As mentioned, I’ve watched the DVD a million times (or 15), and when I listen to the CD I could tell who is playing what and so on. I’m going to write a brief run-down for each song performed at the concert; the order of the songs here are different from that of the CD. For example, the concert’s opening song was ‘Standing in Motion’ but on the CD it was placed somewhere in the middle. Better flow I guess. And a couple of songs were not included in the CD for godknowswhat reason .

Here goes…

Standing In Motion. The opening tune! It’s only 1.38 mins or something like that, with a nice laser show that I could only imagine the audience enjoying when they were present at the concert.

Enters Yanni. Ugly grey sweater must go. Drummer Charlie Adams kicks ass.

Rainmaker. Fast-becoming one of my favourite uplifting tunes. It’s great to listen to in the car especially if you are stuck in an awful traffic jam and about 10 seconds from getting out of your car to bitchslap that mchcb driver who swerved into your lane without putting on any indications. There were kids in her car too! Bloody irresponsible parents. Slap your face and take your baby!

The song has a strong African tribal feel. There was this guy who was blowing hard into a big long thing that it was almost sexual (don’t mind me, I’m repressed). Later I found out that the guy was David Hudson, and that big long thing was a didgeridoo. Very aboriginal (duh).

Then there was Samvel’s first solo, yay! *salivates* Then there was Michelle Amato who sounded like a Greek goddess of love. Then there was this long-haired guy in a red silk shirt who burst out in song and swayed his butt to the music. Hello Victor Espinola! You sure can shake it.

Keys To Imagination. Not one of my favourite pieces. I think I may have heard this song before somewhere, don’t really remember. Maybe it sounds similar to another song that I’ve heard. Felt a bit like a snake charmer’s song. Arabian nights… bonfire… belly dancers… KGB… sheiks… money laundering… see, my imagination is unlocked, mission accomplished.

Enchantment. Yanni on piano! Beautiful soothing piece, contemporary classical+Jim Brickman-like. Reminds me of stories I read as a kid — fairies, magic rings, quaint topsy-turvy houses, toadstools — all things magic. Don’t remember the series of children books I read, but somehow this particular image of the boy who visited the fairies and never came back is strong in my memory now. He wore shoes with long pointy tips.

On Sacred Ground. I felt this song was created to thank the gods for a bountiful harvest. Very pagan :D Alfreda Gerald on vocals and Pedro’s first flute solo, I think. And Dan Lundram on the hammered dulcimer (it’s called the yangqin in Chinese) and a cute Japanese button Sayaka on the violin. She’s Vanessa-Mae-ish, easy and relaxing to listen to. I prefer Samvel’s performances but then their violins may have been different and he started playing long before she was born.

Playtime. My favourite track! Fast temp, a bit of jazz with an Oriental touch. Pedro did amazing things with the saxophone. Ming Freeman, this Chinese-looking dude (actually he’s Taiwanese-Canadian) with straight hair long enough to wipe his nether regions did some funky finger work on the keyboards.

Then Pedro and Sayaka did a mock-battle thing with their instruments. It was so fun to see, as if they made up what they were going to play on the spot :D I like!!

Until The Last Moment. Yanni and Samvel! Slow, moving tune, very apt title. One part of this could almost make you cry, maybe ‘cos there’s so much perfection :D Samvel can play the violin with eyes closed! Then he smiled for a bit and I forgot what else I was going to write :D

If I Could Tell You. Not my favourite track, rather predictable. Or maybe it was just too 80s. I like a lot of 80s songs, but not when it’s an instrumental piece stuck in time. But Ming Freeman’s keyboard-playing was just amazing to see. I used to play some organ so I sort of understand the level of difficulty involved.

For All Seasons. Another one of my favourite fast-beat tempo tune, mostly featuring Michelle on vocals, Ramon Flores on trumpet (we were rather surprised at the sounds he produced with the trumpet), Pedro blowing some stick, Dan hammering the yangqin, and of course, Samvel again :D SUCH GREAT SHOWMANSHIP!

Then Victor played the harp as if he was in trance. Was great :D

The Storm. Alexander Zhiroff solo on the cello. He looked a bit scary — later I found out that he was from Russia, I went, ‘oh that explained it’. Darn talented cellist. Broke a bow string though, keke.

Then it suddenly became a fast temp tune, with solos then a duet by Samvel and Sayaka. If you see the DVD you’ll understand why I said that Samvel is more polished. Not that Sayaka was bad or anything; in fact she was real good but it was obvious that Samvel was the better violinist. So why am I mentioning the obvious? I have an obsession with him, remember?

Prelude. Slow, emotional tune. Pedro played a 3000-year old Armenian instrument, Samvel and Armen Movsessian (also Armenian) on violin.

Nostalgia. Yanni played awesome piano here, his fingers moved so fast for the short notes! Fucking awesome.

World Dance. Absolutely fun tune to watch and listen to! Sort of like an Irish jig, featuring Dan, Pedro, Samvel, Sayaka, Victor, Armen, Zachary Carrettin and Walter Rodriguez.

Awesome songs, great concert.

Yanni said, “The musicians in this orchestra represent a great many of the world’s nations, and religions, and philosophies, and schools of thought, and schools of music. And in their diversity they bring great beauty, strength and colour to my music. Thank you.”

No, thank YOU for the spectacular concert and immortalising it on DVD.

By the way, I dig the new look :)

Yanni shaved

You can purchase Yanni’s Live! The Concert Event via Amazon.com. Link for the CD is here and link for the DVD is here.

k-fed/ ryan star/ samvel yervinyan

From Pink is the New Blog:

When he’s not ruining wrestling bouts, K-Fed is doing his best to ruin the music scene all over the world. The Federline moved his promo tour into Canada where he made a guest appearance on the TRL-like show Much on Demand on Much Music … where the audience was given this instruction by the show’s floor director, “Please, don’t boo Kevin. This is an important show for us.”

LMAO x100000

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I received a preview Ryan Star CD ‘Songs from the Eye of An Elephant’ and I have to agree with eyeris that all the 20 songs sound almost the same. Well, according to Wikipedia, this album was released in mid-2005, so it was before the whole Rockstar: Supernova business. I quite enjoyed the album though, rather mellow, according to Erna he sounds a bit like Five For Fighting and Train (I’ll say a bit of Adam Duritz at times), suits his brooding personality. Still psyched about his showcase on 16th November at Zouk (even though I rather detest Zouk, personal preference, this).

But apparently we have to go as rock chicks (assuming we are all females.. erm what am I talking about, I AM A FEMALE). Well therein lies the problem… I don’t look like a rock chick at all, and there’s no way I am going to look like a rock chick ever. Sure I enjoy rock music, but the rock chick thing is just not in me, especially when it comes to the dressing part. I don’t have anything in my closet that screams ‘holey tart you are so Simple Plan rock chick!’.

Maybe I’ll just go as me. ‘Cos as we all know, me is Suanie and Suanie is great :D

(yeah I’m just writing all this to be able to insert that last line. Sneaky sneaky ;) Oh shut up. )

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This is Samvel Yervinyan.

Samvel Yervinyan

I want to marry him kthx.

this buddhist rants

So THE Reverend passed away, right? Was rather sad and all, but then that’s the cycle of life.

A few people (thanks people) sent me a link to a Buddhist website which is quite informative, got lots of news and articles, all the Buddhism-buddhism stuff. Good on them for propagating the Dharma using the Internet.

But then there was this series of photographs of the Reverend’s funeral, which was supposedly not altered in any way. And one of the focus of the series was ‘balls of light’ surrounding the funeral, particularly at the cremation site. Fuwah, damn miracle all these balls of light, suddenly coming out of nowhere, must be associated with the Reverend ‘cos he was so enlightened and all, will enhance your faith in Buddhism with these miraculous sightings etc.

Some supposedly even saw the Reverend’s spirit being ‘taken to the havens’ by other Bodhisattvas. Their eyesight must have been damn on.

Right, I know it’s a case of wanting to believe what you want to believe. I suppose it doesn’t do any harm, little things like this, as long as you don’t take them too seriously in your path to learning Buddhism. But one thing lah… if the Reverend was still alive, he would have told you to shove it [voluntarily censored by Suanie]. Well maybe in a nicer way.

Back to basics — what is a Buddhist? Someone who take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Senang je aku nak cakap ‘cos in conventional manners, I am the least Buddhist of all Buddhists. Oddly enough, Buddhism saved me (insert teenage wayward sob story here). So I consider myself a Buddhist. Some people won’t because judging by this blog, nay even this very blog entry, I consciously did not observe the Eight Noble Paths (right speech lah, what else).

But I am confident enough to know what to believe and what not to believe. For instance, I don’t really believe that when Gautama Buddha was born, he walked 7 steps, each step blossoming into a full bloom lotus after him. Sure, I studied all that when I was younger, you can’t miss this chapter if you are reading about the Buddha’s life. But it seems that miracles are all it takes to convince the layman that yes, this religion works, that religion works, bla bla. I do believe in miracles, as there are many unexplainable things in this world, but not to the extent of pacifying the layman, to strengthen your faith, etc. Even Jesus got fed up with healing the sick because he knew that it was a cheap way to ask people to believe in you, your teachings. You do get a lot of half-past-six faithfuls everywhere, but who am I to judge, I am probably no better than them in other aspects, so as I was saying…

Buddhists. As a Buddhist (in the Theravada tradition) do not allow these things to influence your faith. Again I would like to quote Venerable Sujiva (whom I quoted in an earlier blog entry) from his book ‘Funny Monk’s Tales':

So one day I asked the Venerable Dr K Sri Dhammananda what he thought of relic claims. He gave me a distant look and with bulging eyes said, “These are things concerning the devotional aspects of Buddhism. We do not need all these to study and practise the Dhamma.”

That jolted me up a bit. So it’s not so important after all. It’s true, as the Buddha himself said: “He who sees my teachings sees me.” What is important is that we follow the Buddha’s exhortation and practise the Dhamma. So the Venerable Dhammananda’s answer was a good one but I wonder how I can get the message across to those people who still get frenzied over relics. Ah, faith, good faith, you should always come with wisdom, otherwise it can be dangerous.

Change the ‘relics’ to ‘balls of light’ and you get the same context. I recently met up with my friend-turned-Buddhist-monk Bhante Sumana and discussed this with him. Well, more like 5 lines, 3 of which were, “we don’t believe in these things, we dont’ need to believe in these things”, “maybe ‘cos it was going to rain” and “I was there at the funeral, didn’t see no deity!!!”. You get the idea.

But then, I understand that faith works differently for everyone. The Reverend was a great, selfless man, some people may choose to glorify him slightly more than others. Fine. But I just hope that with all his contributions to society at large, all his hard work and efforts in emphasizing the importance of racial harmony, all his publications that stated the same thing over and over again that the Buddha is within you… would be a damn waste to have all that overshadowed by ‘balls of light’.

laptop died/ banned books

My laptop died. Very sad. Luckily it’s still under warranty. But everything gone… all my photos gone… all my music gone… all my documents gone…

Deja vu.

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Oh look, the motivated folks at Manuscripts Don’t Burn came up with this nice nifty banner for their cause.

Bloggers Against Banning Books

Say it loud and clear!

I was reading Bill Clinton’s autobiography yesterday (yes yes it’s been a couple of months, the book is damn thick ok) and I thought I read along the lines of… DEMOCRACY *gasp*

One thing that always weirds me out is that how people always think that Malaysia is a democratic country. We are not, plain and simple. I was even taught in school that we are not fully democratic, we are not fully this or that (but we all know that lah) so bite the stick and move on. Which sometimes is fine by me, because I don’t believe in the notion of free speech (there’s no such thing as FREE), everything has a cause and effect, sometimes the consequences are minimal and not so important, sometimes a seemingly minimal consequence could lead to a larger societal problem later on.

Blah I’m rambling. Anyway shouldn’t we ban Bill Clinton’s My Life as well? I mean, the dude endorsed Al Gore’s kurang ajar’s speech at some global conference held at Cyberjaya a few years ago. That’s like evil, dude… like Saddam Hussein in South Park evil-O-meter. Plus what is this democracy you speak of? Me Malaysian, me no understand. Two term presidency at most? Foreign, damn foreign idea ye foreign devils. Soon you’d have us going around protesting this and that without getting arrested! I mean, the very notion! Scandalous beyond scandalous, so let’s just ban Bill Clinton, yeah.

I was also looking through my library and boy, were there some books that are just WAITING to be banned! Look at Lord of the Rings! For cryin’ out loud, can’t you just SEE that it REEKS with homosexuality?!? Hobbit, hobbit, hobbit, hobbit, Ranger, man, wizard, elf king… all the gory battle scenes are just introduction to anal probing. I mean, shooting an arrow… how descriptive can you get?!?

What about Enid Blyton? Mr. Pink Whistle?!?! Dude… strange man in weird outfit going around talking to little kids and performing magic tricks… erm… what are we waiting for again?

And The Magic Faraway Tree… do we really want our children exposed to incredulous never-going-to-happen fantasies of climbing trees and being exported to foreign lands?!? By golly, soon our kids will think it’s all right to follow a stranger wanting to take them to ‘somewhere else’ with the promise of a candy and a hobbit. Odd connection, but hey, that’s the purpose ain’t it. To prevent something from happening by banning the materials that by no scientific research COULD induce such things happening. Geniuses, we lot.

Doraemon be gone! Dik Cergas be gone! Stephen King be gone (unsur-unsur yang menyeramkan)! Catherine Lim be gone! Amy Tan be gone! Marina Mahathir be gone! Karim Raslan be gone! Lilian Too be gone (with or without book banning :D)! Jeffrey Archer be gone! John Gray be gone! Judith McNaught be gone because we don’t want our women’s head be filled with such preposterous fluffy romantic foolishness. The absurdity!

Sekian.