Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Subtlety is not my forte

When I was younger, I loathed British comedies and shows because I didn't understand what was said. The plumy accents, the phraseology, the affectations ... okay, I admit. It was because my English sucked out loud that I watch American shows because they had subtitles, all right? They don't seem to do so for the English ones except for It Ain't Half Hot, Mum (and even those subtitles missed a great deal of the subtle humour) and Sapphire and Steel (which I adored for Joanna Lumley's dresses and shoes. I was six. Shut up).

This video brought to mind the auld whodunnit British series with Basil Rathbones and his ilk stalking across the screen, examining the clues and wraps the show up with some dramatic pronouncement of the real villain. Watch it till the end and tell me what you think.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Do you smell the rotten egg?


I usually don't blog about political stuff; there are so many out there who does it (well and terribly) anyway, so I don't bother. Besides, it's too depressing.

A couple of days back, my alumni newsletter exploded in a one-sided flame war based on a video of "policemen" beating up a sex offender on Malaysia Today. RPK got on his high horse, declaiming on and on about evil Malaysian policemen. This prompted Tan Sri Musa Hassan, the IGP, to respond to RPK, saying that the video was false and it wasn't policemen that were on the video etc. The video has since been taken down.

First of all, I take anything or anyone quoting Malaysia Today with a grain of salt. I am not saying that all media are truly free and unbiased (Rupert Murdoch, anyone?) but to take on the words of people who blog with little to no back up to their allegations? With hear-say deep throat-like "my Government insider informant"? C'mon. You know that's lame.

And then I came across this. I mean, talk about egg on RPK's face and all the people who read him and believes every word without any question.

Seriously, kudos.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The many sources of aurgasm

A number of my friends have fallen victim to my blathering on and on and on about music; usually over artists / music genre that they never heard before or care about. *grin* You could recognise them after the fact of my bending their unwilling ears by the glazed look in their eyes and the discreet drool slowly dripping off their chin.

Tonight, I was introduced to a new source of aurgasms: qasidah. It is a form of poetry that is paired with melody and beat, recited in honour of some special personage. In Malaysia, it is commonly sung as tribute to the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, at weddings, cukur jambul and other ceremonies with a strong religious overtones (which is many for Malays).

The group Al-Kawakib presented three qasidah tonight at the 51st Al-Quran Recitation Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre. I saw parts of it on live telecast, courtesy of TV1, with one part interrupted by a remote control battle with my niece. I'm proud to say that tonight? I won. The qasidah was part of the performance during the break before the rest of the qari and qariah presented their recital in the second half.

There were roughly 12 men in the group, with three in the last row with hand drums to keep the beat. Their ages range from early twenties to late fifties. There were four lead singers lauding praise to the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, with the rest either keeping beat or backup harmonies. Each singer had a red-bound song book placed on rehal (an instrument to support the Al-Quran when reading on the floor, commonly made of wood) placed before them; they appeared to be handwritten. The beautiful melding of tenor and baritone brought tears to my eyes, their voices resonating with love and devotion.

For a song to capture me, it need not even be in a language I understand. It is all about the melody and the emotions expressed in the voice that moves you. I have cried listening to flamenco songs; for all I know, they were singing about losing their goats in the Pyrenees. But the mournfulness of the song was unmistakable, tugging at the beating organ behind my sternum. Sigh. I am such a sap.

The power of emotion relayed through voice cannot be underplayed. To many ears, the recital by the qariah from Kazakhstan was rather flat and monotonous; she had no flourishes or rills common to most qaris. To me however, her recital was heartfelt; I thought that her approach suited the surah she was reading wonderfully. She recited Al-Hadid from verse 20 onwards and if you read the meaning, you'll understand what I mean. The clear, bell-like tones of her voice was simply wonderful to my ears. Her purity of note brought to mind the silky flutes of 60s instrumental songs that always made me think of a really good acid trip. Okay, perhaps the comparison was not apt, but I think you know what I mean.

Perhaps I can win the remote control war again tomorrow night. I need my daily dose of aurgam.


Going kaboom and kablooey!

I had an awesome time with my cousin last night watching GI Joe. Movie preview, whoo! And the movie was everything a summer popcorn flick should be.

1. Violence? Check.
2. Buff, good looking characters? Check.
3. Lots of things being blown up? Check.
4. Insane storyline about world domination? Check.
5. Villain with evil, raspy voices? Check.
6. Side plot of love interest? Check.
7. Awesome special EFX that make you go, "Oooh!" Check.
8. Explosive climax with sequel potential? Check.

Just disengage the logical part of your brain while you watch.

ETA: Thank you, Sophie!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Belasungkawa: Yasmin Ahmad

Yasmin Ahmad was an extraordinary story teller. She became famous for her exquisite, subtle and sensitive holiday advertisement for the GLC giant Petronas. Her trademark quirky tales of ordinary citizens in everyday situation became a benchmark for advertisments and films. Bet that there will be a course on Yasmin Ahmad's film in cinema-making courses soon, if not already. The clip below was the last interview she made with StarOnline, detailing her thoughts and hopes for the country and her raison d'etre.

There was an uproar that Yasmin Ahmad did not start life as Yasmin. I don't think that is relevant at all unless you are prone to small-mindedness and titillating, self-righteous gossip. Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin responded to this issue eloquently in his blog, giving us hope that not all religious scholars have a mindset stuck in mediaeval times (ILU Dr Asri!).

I think people forget that her legacy went beyond such pettiness. She left behind films and writings that made people think and look at the world differently. She lifted the veil that obscured us from seeing what made us the same and helped obliterate the differences between us as Malaysians, what ethnic group you may be. And that is a legacy that will continue to touch lives of people even years from now.

Goodbye, Yasmin. We will miss you and pray that God keep you always by His Side.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Women from Venus ... definitely

The most common perception is that men are raving sex animals while women are just cold fishes (unless they are the alluring Jezebels out there to ruin good men for their nefarious purposes). But if both men and women are willing to be honest about it, the truth is a lot more complex. If you are in the habit of reading advice columns, the Sexual Agony Aunts will make you believe that a woman can get fulfillment simply by reaching out for what she wants and that she is no different to men in terms of sex drive.

To a certain degree, this is true. But why is it with sexual liberation, women are cheated into moving further away from their hearts? Because as cliche as it is, women wants the emotional connectivity before they surrender into intimacy.

And this is something new. Right.