No Eye Candy’s 1st Female Guest Drummer (July 4)

Ever since our 2nd drummer has decided to spend more time with his new baby – which our band No Eye Candy fully understand and support – for the last two months, we scrambled to look for guest drummers to jam with us, to explore the possibility.  Guitarist Jason called in his friend for help and so did Bassist Cynthia.  Last evening, Cynthia’s friend Wieke who was born in the same country as her (i.e. Indonesia) joined us.  Time to pay our favorite studio Stone Jamz a visit.

It is hard to look for new members.  We don’t do cover songs or religious music (that is popular amongst the local community) and we work on the songs that I write.  Somehow there is a mutual respect and admiration on our domain specialty formed between the three of us – Cynthia, Jason, and I – since November 2004.  And we do have a certain practice tempo we commit, however infrequent it may be.

Before I go on, below are the captions for the pictures on the left.  Photos taken by Jason’s wife Selrol.  A big thanks to her as these pictures captured the essence of our session well (next time I must take some pictures of her).  Too bad, the battery of the camera went flat fast.  Lesson learnt: always buy original battery!

[1] Our cool bassist, Cynthia.  [2] Our 1st female guest drummer, Wieke, and she referred to her iPod during our break to look for some inspirations I guess.  [3] Our guitar god, Jason.  [4] That’s me.  Nice shirt eh?  My new shopping loot.  [5] OK.  Jason almost remembered the chords of our entire 5-song set.  Almost.  [6] We certainly are still amazed that such a petite lady can create such a deafening drumming sound!  Wieke is creatively amazing.  She has transformed some of our songs beyond our band’s recognition!  [7] Notice a huge white ring that Cynthia wore?  Well, while the boys were at Sim Lim side shopping for amplifiers and cables, she went shopping for accessories.  [8] I did look intense.  How did Selrol manage to capture this?!  I look scary.  I am a beast.

At times I would imagine how a new or guest member sees our band.  A band that is still finding its way, still full of rough edges?  A package of songs that are dark, at times gloomy but nevertheless radiates a sense of genuine emotion from the soul?  Songs and music arrangement with no defined structure and the same song never sounds the same every time we play it?  Perhaps all of the above and more.

I am personally unsure if someone will commit to our band in the near future (though I would certainly welcome that idea with open arms).  But in this transient beauty of being able to collaborate with different artists, different talents and be taken to a different height, it is one helluva journey that I’d love to take, any time.

Wanted – OMG, It’s Angelina Jolie (with a Gun)!

Though I must say, the focal point is at James McAvoy instead.  But still, I simply love Angelina Jolie with guns (think “Lara Croft” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”) and I love her attitude too.  One of a kind, truly.

You’ve got to have quite a strong stomach to take in those over the top intensive scenes that have the pace and the music to match.  My recently self-diagnosed sensitive stomach did give me some warning signals on and off throughout the show.  I guess that is a good indicator on how intense “Wanted” is.

Yet another comic book adaptation and it is created by the Scottish graphic novelist Mark Millar.  Something different from the typical American comic book style I suppose.  A kind of strange storyline that involves a thousand years old organization called The Fraternity and these assassins – who have some sort of superhuman abilities I suppose – take in order from a textile loom coded with the target’s names under the microscope.  What a strange concept, to kill as dedicated by destiny to keep the Universe in balance. 

There is nothing much to say on the acting or character development of “Wanted”.  Is it entertaining?  Yes.  How so?  There are enough surprises within the plot to keep the film moving.  Some of the computer generated images and sequences are just jaw dropping.  Time slows down, at times reverses, to depict some physically impossible moments.  Some scenes are just comical.  Lots of blood for sure.  But if you have got the stomach and in for some fast pace intensified entertainment, why not?

I won’t even mention about Angelina Jolie’s sexy back from shoulder to … oh well, I missed it while reading the subtitles.

Kidding!  Ha ha ha!

My Friend Made It to Workers’ Party’s CEC (And Another Friend Made Partner)

What a bizarre week!  First my sister got hitched.  Then my old friend of more than a decade whom I have worked with officially made it to the partner’s rank in a major accounting firm just yesterday.  On the same day, I saw another old friend of mine whom I have also worked with featured in our afternoon newspaper Today.  I guess my “Wanted” movie review ready to be published has to wait, same for a new book review.  As for that not-too-successful v-blog mini-series, that will have to be postponed for another week.

I won’t dwell too much onto my sister’s engagement.  You just need to scroll down to read the previous post.  Except, I finally managed to talk to my ma in Hong Kong on the phone and spent 18 minutes trying to explain what my future brother-in-law does in real life (to my parents, it is important to articulate that to the people around them).  I mean, look, my Cantonese really sucks after decades of neglect and attempt to explain what Portfolio Management means to my ma is really hard.  Try explaining risk hedging, diversification, quarterly results, exchange announcement, technical analysis, financial instruments, equity investment and etc. is close to impossible.  I hope I got the message and reassurance across that my future brother-in-law kicks ass (Benny, you owe me 18 sure work buy tips for that 18 minutes of hard work and I am putting my life savings onto that).

Back to my friend who has made partner.  Well, I always tell people that if you don’t see yourself becoming a partner one day, leave the consulting business once you’ve learned all that you can and want (like me).  This is how the business works: the partners milk their people dry, milk their clients dry, and they become very rich.  As simple as that and I gather one day I can write a book on my old trade skill.  In case if you wonder, the word “milk” actually comes up during account planning in the both the consulting firms I’ve worked at.

But of course, within this business, there are always carrots at the end of the sticks.  If not, why would anyone want to sell their souls to the business putting work as the first priority in life?

My old friend and I have gone a long way.  Back to the days when I was literally living off a suitcase.  In the beginning of my career, my overseas assignments were long and in between, I got nowhere to live.  And he didn’t mind me occupying half of his storeroom when I was out-of-town, staying at his place temporary when I was in town.

OK, I must say he is (or perhaps was?) not that popular at work and that seems to bug him.  I always tried to tell him that even an US President only needs and perhaps only has 51% of the people’s vote.  And I did learn a few things from him.  The word ‘politics’ at work seems to have a negative connotation.  Then again, it is whether you are benefiting from it or not that ultimately makes you a hero or a villain in the organization you are in.  Learn the rule of the game and, oh well, bosses always take priority.  As for my friend, he does it well and I am truly happy for him.

Now, let’s talk about my friend Choong Yong.  The moment I saw his picture on the paper when I was inside HMV, I couldn’t contain my excitement and messaged some of our mutual friends immediately (good things must share, that’s my philosophy in life).  Choong Yong runs his own IT consulting business for years and recently, he is appointed as Workers’ Party’s new Central Executive Committee member!  Part of the ‘renewal process’ so as to speak.  And he looks so young inside the news clipping (far right in the picture above).  One unnamed mutual friend of us does admire Choong Yong’s ‘walk the talk’ attitude and I agree.  I couldn’t help but to crack some jokes of course (about this young pretty girl he was photographed with) and nothing beats Mark’s funny response: Is it the one with the headline titled “Convicted, but now blaming his ex-lawyer”?  I laughed so hard inside HMV.  That headline was right next to Choong Yong’s piece.

When I congratulated him via sms, we exchanged a few words.  “We are still friends right?” he asked.  Of course!  My vote to PAP (the governing party) is purely because of my admiration to our Prime Minister.  And our PM happens to be in my GRC.  Hence, I wouldn’t need to scratch my head to choose between voting for the opposition or that who-is-his-name?  The one who is probably responsible in letting the terrorist in captive walked away from a detention camp, and the recent lapse at the Customs got me bang my head onto the desk.  I also did learn something from that minister though.  Whenever I screw up at home, I always say to Cynthia, “Look baby, that was an Honest Mistake.”

Anyways, I am so proud of the people around me.  I wonder what shocking news I may hear tomorrow.  A friend of mine is landing on the moon?

So My Buddy Popped the Question … to My Sister

What an eventful week.  Just when I thought I could sit back and relax because I have written a whole week worth of blog entries, my best buddy in Singapore popped the question … to my little sister.  So time to dig up one of the old photos that my pa has recently digitalized and start writing.

I began today like every other day, happy and energized, and then my phone beeped.  I have one new message, from my sister.  That’s odd.  We are in excellent term, of course.  But we seldom communicate.  I opened up the message and she said Benny has proposed!

Wow!  I must have felt like I have won a million dollar lottery at that moment.

Flash back to my previous short visits to home in Hong Kong over many years, inside a low lit living room my ma and I sat opposite each other.  My pa was asleep in the bedroom with the door ajar.  Our dog rested comfortably on his bed looking curiously at us.  And I would start the conversation, like I always did, with “So, has sis hinted anything yet?”  My ma’s response varied but both of us would end up sighing, staring at space, and I would say, “Look ma, all in good time.”

Now, at least we don’t need to think of when my sister will be getting married.  Yay?

So I met up with Lora for dinner and I couldn’t wait to hear about our parents’ responses.  “I called this morning waking ma up from her dreamland,” she said.  “You did?” I asked.  “Yes, and she was initially happy, then she paused,” my sister paused.  “And?” I asked eagerly.  “Ma asked if I have said yes,” she continued.

Did my sister say yes?!

I laughed so hard.  OK.  I personally don’t think any response other than a yes would be possible.  And my sister would have had a lot of explanations to me had she even said maybe.  Seriously … ha ha ha.

Anyway, knowing how dramatic my family is, I was eager to hear my pa’s response.  “He was excited of course,” my sister said.  “Of course,” I replied.  “And he asked if the proposal was sincere,” she smiled.  “What is a sincere proposal?” I asked in puzzlement.

It is good that both of our parents are so supportive.  Being a big brother, my response was totally business-like.  After a business-like congratulations as though Lora has just won a million dollar deal, my action oriented nature kicked in.  So I advised, “You have to perform a stakeholder analysis, sis.”  “A stakeholder analysis?” my sister was awed.  Yes, we have to figure out what Benny’s parents’ expectations are like, what about our parents, what is the time line like, and budget, and have you started to think of the brothers and sisters team, who are the event organizers, are there going to be two wedding dinners in two different locations, formal versus informal, who will be there, Church wedding, which country will go first, outsource versus insource …

I bet Lora was amazed at what went inside my head.  But seriously, there is nothing to be amazed about.  Success is when preparation meets opportunity.  I have been dreaming of today for a long, long time.

Back to my pa’s response that got me puzzled, I called home after we reached home.  5 minutes had passed and he was just asking about me.  OK, did pa get it from my sister at all?  I didn’t want to be the first to break the news.  “So pa, Lora is getting married, are you happy?” I casually asked.  He replied, “She is not getting married.”  I paused, panicked, and continued, “Yes she is.  Hasn’t she told you this morning?”  “She is getting engaged,” my pa said it as-a-matter-of-fact.  “Pa?!” I screamed, “It’s the same!”  “Did she say yes?” he asked.  “Pa?!  Of course she said yes,” I laughed.  “Was the proposal sincere?” he queried.

Uh-huh?

“How would I know, pa?!” I genuinely didn’t know.  “Did he get on his knee when he proposed?” he asked.  “How would I know, pa?!” I genuinely didn’t know that either.  “What century are we in now?  People don’t do that anymore in real life,” I added.

Do we?  Maybe people do.  Maybe Benny did.

And as of this very moment, my ma is still outside partying and celebrating so I have yet to speak with her on the phone.  Anyways, many congratulations to my beloved little sister and my best buddy Benny.  Stay tuned.

So Cynthia’s Going to Learn Spanish (Working Title: So Spain Has Won the EURO 2008 Eh?)

My [male] bimboic approach to football tournament – no offence to the fans out there – is more like watching the American Idol.  And hence, my only contribution to the blogosphere (if you can call it one) is my quick drawing of one fine Spanish player who scored the golden goal.  Spain has won the UEFA Cup first time in 44 years, so I read.  44 years is a long time.  I for sure am much younger than that.  Ha!

Before I met Cynthia, who is one football fanatic, I seldom watch football matches on TV.  I can’t remember the name of this dude whom I’ve met in an International school back in the UK, when I was 17.  I think he is an Malaysian and on his wall, he had this huge tournament chart that tracked the World Cup progress.  What a hardcore fanatics he was.  Not only that, he had a large collection of magazines and I remember there was a ring binder – from a magazine publisher I suppose – that contained some of the finest moments in the soccer history in forms of illustration and writing.  I guess that was what people did prior to the advent of Internet, filing contents month after month.  My friend would show me all the wonderful passes from the world famous sorcerers using the materials inside this ring binder of his.  Pele, he pointed out, is a legend and here is why.  I have not met anyone that passionate about football until I met Cynthia.

She is really one of the kind.  And because of her, I found that watching football matches can be entertaining.  For the past couple of world tournaments, I have religiously watched every single match live, even more so than Cynthia.

This year, because no one talks about football in my work place, I can afford to watch some of the recorded matches during the sane hours.  Still, we took leave and watched the final match live.  Cynthia joked that she would pick up either Spanish or German as a new language depending on the outcome of the UEFA Cup final.  I guess it is going to be Spanish then.  And ya, we love the music played whenever there was a goal.  Both of us would jump out of the sofa, hands waving in the air – that is if the goal is not against the team we support.

PS. Interestingly, I have also equated watching the football tournaments to the American Idol back in the Word Cup 2006.