March 31, 2006

M! The Opera

Posted in Malaysia, Music at 2:13 am by egalitaria

Did any of you watch 13 going on 30? The nutty magazine revamp, done by Jennifer Garner's rival at the office that blended elements of the modern society, rave and colour, boom and bust, hype and explosion, mystery and revolutionary, ghastly and cluttered all at once.

Well, unfortunately that was the first impression I got of M! The Opera, currently running at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur.

While the singing and dancing were fantabulous, with amazing talent from the Malaysians, and the orchestra doing a superb job, these were individual talents that unfortunately were not able to get in sync with the other. In a team, no one player can take the limelight and last night, the orchestra was definitely trying to steal some volume space from the singers.

It was a convoluted storyline. True, it wanted to recreate a world of mystery and darkness, tradition and myth, and combine this with modernity and trends. But it was just too much. Too many complicated details with a vague script. (If I hadn't read the synopsis in the programme, which by the way costs RM15, I would have spaced out in the entire performance.)

Conducting it in two languages is a commendable act, pardon the pun. It is great that both Malay and English are used, but add this to the above confusion and you get a hodge-podge of words that you continually find difficult to follow. (The subtitles helped some, with the exception of minor errors in the middle of the performance…)

The songs failed to blow me away. Was there a signature song? Perhaps just one – the love song M sings to Sepi. Besides this, the others seem to lose a structure: introduction, chorus climax and resolution ending. The songs weren't quite songs.

The combination of overpowering orchestra, complicated storyline, switching back and forth between languages, having to read subtitles simultaneously, a non-stop flow of confusing scenes, made me rather weary.

Musicals of all time Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, and less-known Blood Brothers all have something in common. A relatively simple dialogue, even in singing. The audience that does not understand abstract, high-level dialogue will not fully appreciate the full story.

But quality of the performers on stage: excellent, excellent, excellent.

Singers: Superb. Dancers: Superb. Costumes: Superb. Traditional instruments: Superb.

I hope to see more Malaysian musicals (done well)!

Bookie

Posted in Philosophy, Religion, Theology at 1:51 am by egalitaria

I'm a list person. Everything I do has to involve a list of things to do, people to contact, emails to send out. Have always made book lists for myself to monitor the themes of what I'm reading and whether I'm covering sufficient ground. I vary in cycles, and the following are the books I'm reading or going to read. 

1. Why I am Not a Christian, by Bertrand Russell

2. The End of Faith, by Sam Harris

3. The Blind Watchmaker, by Richard Dawkins

4. Can Man Live Without God? by Ravi Zacharias 

What the first three books have in common is an argument largely refuting the need for, and the truth of faith-based religions. These refer to Judeo-Christian religions. They vary in approach – either taking a more philosophical stance, scientific argument or plain reason and logic. The last book is written by a famous Christian apologetics author (apologetics means a defense of the Christian faith). While previous reading projects involved a further deepening of understanding into certain areas, here I am expanding into new ground. 

I will write occasional reviews after each book (and possibly other titles to come). 

Ninth Plan

Posted in Malaysia at 1:29 am by egalitaria

In 15 hours, the 9th Malaysia Plan is going to be announced in Parliament.

Is it going to be any different from its predecessors? Will it live up to calls for a meritocratic, non-racially biased society? How will it address economic competitiveness in the region and globally? 

Or a stalemate? Or the rust and rot, mould that grows from the insides unseen? Comes at a critical time. What will the people say?

That’s just pants

Posted in Personal at 1:10 am by egalitaria

In Malaysia, pants means 'long pants'

In the UK, pants means 'underwear'. (They use the term trousers for long pants).

Imagine the horror, to my consternation, on my British friends' faces when on a particularly sunny and scorching Summer day, I said the following:

"It's been so hot lately, I haven't worn pants in a long, long time!"

March 27, 2006

Desti-Nation

Posted in Malaysia at 4:18 am by egalitaria

The number of diabetics in Malaysia might grow to 22% by year 2020,
reports today said. So, we will have a developed and advanced nation of
fat and sweet-blooded people. We'll therefore have the facilities of a
great healthcare system, necessary to cater to our lazy ways. We'll
have hi-tech computers for people to sit in front of, their knowledge
of technology growing as rapidly as their thighs and buttocks.

I'm not excluded from the generation of those who hardly exercises, and
that's not a good thing. Destination: healthy nation! Desti-nation.

And more interesting is how sports and exercise unite peoples together. I watched from the pits at the Elite kart track today and realised that this is the only way to get races integrated.
Children laughing, chatting and playing together between races. Parents
(albeit forcibly) interacting congenially with the other for the sake
of a common hobby.

What is lacking is the media space. And sponsorship from the
government. Measly attendance at national-level
events. Preferential treatment for grants and scholarships, the odds
working even against potential national champions, who would make us
proud. There's all this gold-class standard strutting around us and poor strategies to harness that talent.

Having said that, here's a round of applause for our representatives in Melbourne, who've given us 7 golds, 12 silvers and 10 bronzes so far!

Back into the Groove

Posted in Music at 4:00 am by egalitaria

More than a year ago, I gave my very rough-cut CD (done from my
computer with just me and my guitar) to someone who might look into
developing it. I went to England, came back and had it completely
buried 'aneath my many other thoughts. 

Today, I'm told that
he's cutting an album with several other musicians and there's a
possibility one (or two, depending on how they can play around with the
arrangements) song will be used! Have to ask more about what is
involved.

All is not lost! I should be getting back into the groove…  Here's inspiration for more song-writing to come!

March 23, 2006

Man in the 21st C

Posted in Religion at 1:15 pm by egalitaria

Man is born as Muslim, lives in society of Muslims.

Man decides to become a Christian.

Man is persecuted because it is illegal to convert out of Islam.

Man is considered an infidel.

Man will be sentenced to death.

Human Rights & Liberalism

Posted in Malaysia, The Cause at 10:24 am by egalitaria

I’ve been, together with 100 other participants all the world round, selected to be part of an online seminar organised by Friedrich Naumann Foundation! The 25 winners of the 100 will be chosen to go to Germany for an international seminar. The title of the seminar is “Human Rights & Liberalism”.

How it works: For 6 weeks in a row, there’ll be online forums on a range of topics pertaining to Human Rights. We’re all expected to contribute to the forum, presenting our views and opinions.

We’ll be judged on our contributions, and a project proposal we put up, with regards to our home country. Ideas, anyone? 🙂

Deutschland, da komme ich!

March 22, 2006

I like Rojak

Posted in Malaysia, Reflections at 6:23 pm by egalitaria

I had a whale of a time visiting my uncle in Vancouver last October. A great break between graduation and coming back to the grindstone of work.

What I remember most about the place: Racial diversity.

Filling the streets are groups of friends of all races hanging out together. Couples black and white, hand in hand, swinging their little coffee-coloured-skin children with beautiful curls. It’s a sight to behold, a rainbow of sorts within a bustling city.

Malaysia has always prided itself on being a cultural melting pot, with the many different races co-existing ‘in harmony’. An American visitor recently pointed out to me: “I’m amazed by how you guys live and interact with each other!”

I wonder if she’s right, though. The term tolerance in itself reflects the need to tolerate the other’s culture and overall being.

Merdeka Centre recently conducted a survey on racial views of Malaysians. I wish they’d backed it up with reasonable methodology (the reporting is vague), but it says that:

the majority of 1,113 people polled agreed most ethnic Malays are lazy, Chinese are greedy and Indians are untrustworthy.

Our mindsets are stuck. Immediately we think of the boundaries that set us far, far apart from the other. Immediately we focus on defining cultural traits.

The differences should make, not break society. Enhance, not agitate.

The different flavours that various ingredients contribute to a Malaysian local dish, Rojak, give it a delectable taste. With a mixture of vegetables and sauces, Rojak is sometimes used to describe a person of mixed descent… and sometimes, condescendingly.

Guess what? I like Rojak.

Privacy…

Posted in Malaysia at 9:20 am by egalitaria

The unaudited accounts of local councils are not open to public scrutiny as these are confidential.Malaysian Association of Local Authorities said local councils are like any other government agency or private organisation whose books are not open to inspection by the public.

Residents are questioning this rationale especially in light of the council having spent RM5 million on its football team last year.

The council claims that RM4 million came from sponsorships and the remaining RM1 million from its sports fund.

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