Saturday, 31 December 2011

Schadenfreude* - Natalie Venetia Belcon, Rick Lyon

I think it's not very nice when one gloats over another's misfortune.

Still, i cannot help but feel happy. I'm not gloating - just being honest about how i feel! After all, the first thing i read this morning was how Manchester United will most probably enter the new year being on top of the table. Well, this proved to be not true now!!!

And after all the flak the Liverpool fans received from Man Utd fans for not being able to beat the basement club, now the basement club has gone to their own yard and beaten them in the biggest shock this season!

Poor Alex Ferguson... it won't be a very happy birthday for him...

But i hope he still enjoys his 70th birthday - he has done much great things and this defeat should not cloud any of his great achievements.

For now tho, Liverpool fans and Manchester City fans will all be celebrating!

Happy New Year, folks!

*Taken from the original Broadway recording of the excellent musical, Avenue Q.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Bethlehemian Rhapsody* - Apologetix

The story of Christmas - what happened and why. Hope you'll enjoy it.

Is this the real birth?
Is it nativity?
Caught in a census
in the town of his ancestry.

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.
He’s just a poor boy foretold by prophecy.
Because the wise men come, wise men go, angels high, shepherds low.
This is how God’s love shows.
It’s a wondrous story to me, to me.

Mary just got the word.
The angel did appear but he told her not to fear.
Mary now it’s just begun; your son is gonna wash our sins away.
Mary ooo (this is how God’s love shows) the God who reigns on high has sent his son to you to die for all.

I see a little silhouette-o of a sheep.
Shepherds watch, shepherds watch over there like the night time.
Angels shine like lightning very, very frightening me!

Glory to God, Peace on Earth, Glory to God, Peace on Earth!
Unto you is born this day, the only way!

I’m just a shepherd nobody loves me.
He’s just a shepherd from a poor family.
Angels said go to the stable and see.

Wise men come, wise men go, will Herod let him live?
Hey Herod – No! he will not him live – better go!
Hey Herod – he will not him live – better go!
Hey Herod – he will not him live!
Better go, will not let him live, better go, will not let him live!
Better go – oh – oh – oh
Go, go, go, go, go!

Oh, Mary Joseph, Mary Joseph!
Mary Joseph better go…to Egypt now
God his savior son who paid for me
for me, for me, for me!

So you think that it’s just a tale now days long by?
But this child who was born went to Calvary to die!

Oh, Jesus!
It’s the story of Jesus!
Wash our sins out!
Wash our sins right out of here!

Oooo, Jesus, Jesus
It’s a wondrous story, anyone can see.
Lets give God the glory!
It’s a wondrous story to me.

This is how God’s love shows!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Have youself a merry little Christmas - The Pretenders

No doubt - my favourite "secular" Christmas song is "Have yourself a merry little Christmas". I love the tune - a little bit moody but tinge with hope.

The song was written for the movie Meet Me in St Loius and it was sung then by Judy Garland. Since then, many others have sung the song and gave it their own interpretation.

My fav version is the one i first heard when i was celebrating Christmas at Colchester - the 2nd time i was spending it away from home. So it was a time when i felt a little sad - but at the same time, it was wonderful to spend Christmas there with the few of my frens there. Modern technology made it possible that close ones back home were not very far away too. So the bittersweet feel that i get when i listen to this song really reflected things around me at that time.

Check out the original version of this song:-

I like Katie Melua's version too (can't embed so see it here).

Here are some other versions of the song:-

Diana Krall's live version - brilliant!

I came across this Tori Amos version today which is really good - almost as good as The Pretenders IMO!

This is from Junji Delfino during the recent ESG Jazz Fest - horrible pic quality but the sound is not too bad.

Finally, here is my fav version. Enjoy! And have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

I'll stand by you* - The Pretenders

I was never a fan of Suarez - you can read here what i thought about him back in the 2010 World Cup.

He made the news then - and now he's making the news again - being found guilty of racially abusing another player.

Now, let's make some things clear - i do not tolerate any form of racism. I am a big fan of Liverpool FC. I think that Suarez this season has been the best Liverpool FC player - and one of the best i've seen put on a LFC jersey for quite some time.

I am unhappy at the decision against him. You can read all about it - but the key thing to me is that he did not deny it. But he did not have any racist intent!

It would appear that it is a case of lost in translation - see what a regular BBC sport pundit (who is an expert on football in South America where Suarez is from) had to say about it here.

It would appear that Suarez is guilty of a strict liability offence - ie the offence was committed when he uttered certain words deemed to be racist, not caring whether he understood or knew what he was saying. Even Lord Ouseley, chairman of Kick it Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, said it did not follow from the guilty verdict that Suarez was a racist. He said thatthe FA's decision had to be arrived at on the basis of the comments made.

But what i am happy to note is to see the support given to him by his team mates. They issued a statement supporting Suarez - and in a show of solidarity, they all wore t-shirts last nite showing that they will stand by him in this matter!

I want one of those t-shrits!!! =)

*One of their hits in the UK during my stay in London. Love this song!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

All about you* - McFly

It is quite sad that some leaders cannot seem to differentiate the interests of those whom they are leading and their own interests.

Obviously, these are not good leaders. Sure, sometimes, their interests being served is in the interest of those they are leading - but not necessarily so all the time. In fact, i dare add, most of the time.

But that's how it is. We see it everyday all over the world. Leaders of countries who should be keeping the interests of their countrymen instead think only of how they can make themselves richer and more powerful - while people in their own land are suffering from poverty and malnutrition.

Other leaders are more subtle - they make it look like the people they are leading are doing well so that they get the credit. At the end of the day, they are happy that they look good but do not count the cost that those under them had to pay.

The things that they do is all for themselves. It's all about them.

As we celebrate Christmas, i am reminded that Jesus is the best example of what a good leader is - he did not consider his position as God something to be clinged on to at any cost but made himself to be like us, born in a manger, lived as a man and then to die for all of us on the cross. This he did so that we can have our sins forgiven and we can have eternal life.

The things he did is all for you and for me. It's all about us.

*Their successful 1st single from their second album - which also contained "You've got a friend".

Monday, 19 December 2011

My father's house* - Bruce Springsteen

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:4-7 (Emphasis added)

There are many rooms in my Father's house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am.
John 14:2-3 (Emphasis added)
My church elder was sharing this yesterday - when Jesus came to us, we told him there was no room for him. He had to be born in a manger.

But before Jesus went back, he told us that there are many rooms, for all of us.

I hope and pray that hearts will no longer have no room for him. Make room for him in your lives!

*Taken from his 6th studio album and covered by Emmylou Harris

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Silent Night* - Bibiana and Francesca Peter

This is an excerpt from our morning devotion which i thought was pretty good and i wanted to share it:-

Silence is indeed hard to find. Cities are notoriously noisy due to the high concentration of traffic and people. There seems to be no escape from loud music, loud machines, and loud voices. But the kind of noise that endangers our spiritual well-being is not the noise we can’t escape but the noise we invite into our lives. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out loneliness: voices of TV and radio personalities give us the illusion of companionship. Some of use it as a way of shutting out our thoughts: other voices and opinion keep us from having to think for ourselves. Some of us make noise as a way of shutting out the voice of God: constant chatter, even when we’re talking about God, keeps us from hearing what God has to say.

But Jesus, even during his busiest times, made a point of seeking out places of solitude where he could carry on a conversation with God (Mark 1:35). Even if we can’t find a place that is perfectly quiet, we need to find a place to quiet our souls (Ps 131:2), a place where God has our full attention.

It was a good reminder of the need to spend some silent mornings - or nights, or whichever part of the day that is suitable for us - with God each day.

*I love this piano vocals version found on the “A Christmas Gift” album, an album by local artistes.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

All that jazz* - Breathe

It was free and it was at Empire Shopping Gallery. So why not? We decided to attend the ESG Jazz Festival 2011 on the 3rd December 2011. After all, we wre planning to celebrate our 3rd month of wedded bliss at Empire. So just drop by and watch for a while.

We did not regret it!!!!! It was simply wonderful!

The first performance for the nite was by Atilia. Who? Well, if u're familiar with the local jazz scene, you'll prolly not know her. Like us. But when she got onto the stage and started singing, we knew we would remember this girl from that day onwards!

She was really really good!!!! Her voice was so powerful and suitable for her jazz pieces. We even concluded that she was better than Ning Baizura. But that was a sad comparison. She (Arilia) not only sings in key, she sings well! So sad that she is not more popular than she is now.

We were planning to just listen for a while and then rush off to see some frens. But in the end, we stayed for her entire gig.

It also convinced us to go the next day to watch the other performances. We had dinner with me mom and sis so when we got there, it was almost the end of the first gig - Yudi Yap and the Shanghai Jazz.

But they prolly saved the best for last - the final performance that nite and for the Jazz fest was Junji Delfino and Michael Veerapan's quartet. So, so good!!!!! The musicians - the bassist and drummer along with Michael were pretty impressive. Junji was such a natural on stage and such wonderful vocals!!!!

Here, check out one of her numbers that nite (pic quality is bad but sound is quite alright):-

Junji is actually not Malaysian - but she is as Malaysian as we can get, living here for so many years. Atilia is Malaysian and so is Yudi. Michael Veerapan is Malaysian and so were most of teh musicians that nite too. This jazz fest restored my faith in the local jazz scene. If these performers were to be used as a gauge, i will say that our local jazz scene is in a very healthy state indeed!

*The title song of their debut album.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Yesterday once more* - The Carpenters

We watched Arthur Christmas last week - and we absolutely loved it!!!!!! =)

I know, as a Christian and a leader in the church, i really shouldn't be promoting a movie about Santa Claus as Santa has been used (among others, Coca Cola) to distract people from the true meaning of Christmas - Jesus coming to this world for us!!!

Sure, i recognise that - and i still hold on to the fact that Santa is not real (there's a historical person known as Saint Nicholas whom Santa is prolly based on). But i can still enjoy a movie, can't i? =)

It's really good! Altho it's not Pixar, the quality of the animation is top notched. To me, anyways! Ever wondered how Santa can go all over the world in one night and deliver gifts to all the kids (only the nice ones)? Well, wonder no more! Arthur Christmas explains it. No, better still, it shows us how it's done! Very very impressive!!!!!

The movie also boasts of a wonderful cast - with Hugh Laurie and Bill Nighy! Both in outstanding form - their voices!!!

But what made me really love the movie was the story line. It has "HEART"! And this is the reason why a British animated movie about Christmas fared miles better than Speilberg & Jackson's Tintin.

I was moved by the movie - and yes, i judge movies by how much tears that i shed!!!

Most of all, it made me feel like a kid again. No, not just a kid but a kid on Christmas morning!!! I almost forgot how it feels like, the magic of staying up or waking up and opening the presents under the tree. It was yesterday once more, when i was a little kid again. You remember how that feels like?

If you dun, go watch this movie! =)

*One of their classics and one of my all time favourites!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Spain* - Return to Forever

Yup, i went to Spain with the wife last month. A lot of people did not know about it until i posted up some autumn pics on FB. Well, we din really wanna tell everyone about it and publicise that our house will be empty for many days!!! =)

Further, it almsot din seem like the trip was gonna happen. That's another story. What matters now is that it did take place. And it was great!!!!!! =)

Here are the highlights of the trip:-

If you wanna read about the highlights of my trip, you can do so here.

*An instrumental jazz piece written and performed by Chick Corea together with his band back then. One of his more prominent piece! Good stuffs!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

I'd give my life for you* - Lea Salonga

Every time we have the tutorial for Defences, i raise the same issue with the students regarding the defence of duress.

You see, in English Criminal Law, one cannot use the defence of duress when it comes to murder ie if someone threatens to kill you unless you kill another person, you cannot say that you should be excused from the charge of murder simply because you had to save your own life.

The law seems to expect individuals to say that they rather die than to kill someone else.

The scenario i raise is what if one bad guy threatens to kill you unless you kill another bad guy? The person you are asked to kill is a terrible person - a serial murderer and rapist. Which person would say that he/she would rather die than to kill the other person? Basically, would you give your life to save another?

Well, if the person you are going to save is someone very important or good, you might just think about it, won't you? But if the person is the scum of the earth, surely no one would want to die for him/her!

Well, in the Bible, it says that Jesus did exactly that - gave him life not for good people but for his enemies.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:7-8

Yes, as we celebrate Christmas, let us remember that Jesus was born to demonstrate his great love for us - by dying on the cross. Such amazing love!!!

*Taken from the musical of Miss Saigon

Friday, 9 December 2011

Made in Dagenham* - Sandie Shaw

What got me attention initially was the reference to "Dagenham" - East London, which was my home for a bit in the early nineties.

But after reading more about it, we decided we wanted to watch it! A British show! With a very interesting premise!

We absolutely loved it!!!! The fact that the cinema issued same seats to multiple people did not spoil the nite for us. After all, not many people go and watch movies on the International Screens so there were plenty of seats for everyone.

I loved it cuz it was sooo... British! =) Hehe. But all in all, it did really well in every area. Good acting (Sallyt Hawkins, Bob Hoskins being as brilliant as ever, Miranda Richardson playing Barbara Castle wonderfully), funny, engaging, likeable characters that got you rooting for them and a very important message to tell.

Basically, it was set at a time when women earn much less than men - just solely on the ground that they are women!!!! That was that. It was how things were. Too bad. Just accept it.

But no. Not these women. They may not be be very cultured or educated - but they were skilled at what they did. And they knew what is right and and what is wrong. And most importantly, they dared to stand up for what is right and speak out against what was wrong - no matter what the cost.

It was so apt too that i watched this movie after having a session on gender equality for my human rights class that very day!

But dun take my word for it - here is a clip from BBC's resident movie critic talking about the movie. And i totally agree with what he said!

*The movie's theme song - performed by a former Dagenham Ford clerk

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Miracle* - Whitney Houston

So it's been three months since our wedding! The good thing about being married is... sometimes, housework is miraculously done on its own!!! Hehe :p

This was the status me wife put up recently.

Well, i know exactly how she feels!!! I experience the same too. The clothes are miraculously washed, they are miraculously ironed and folded too. The floors all get miraculously swept and mopped at times too. Lots of teh housework gets miraculously done too.

But this miracle is not a mystery! It's pretty straightforward. This miracle is none other than my wife herself! She is God's miracle to me.

*One of her big hits - not many people know that it is related to the issue of abortion.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

I'd do anything* - Simple Plan

Being deceitful in order to look good is pitiful. Asking others to be deceitful so that you'll look good is wrong. Being unhappy at those who did not want to be deceitful for you is sad.

That's what i posted on my FB status yesterday.

I found it really pitiful that people would do anything just to look good or to impress others - even if it involves deceit. Is it so important that you would want to obtain the approval and/or praise from others by deceiving them? If you are good then people will acknowledge it. If you are impressive, then people will praise you. But if you're not, how low would you sink to obtain acknowledgement and praise that you did not deserve?

How can you sleep at nite? But the scary thing is that some of these people sleep very well! They are pleased that their deceit worked and they appeared good in the eyes of others.

What's even worse is when they ask other people to participate in the deceit. Or perpetrate the deceit!!! That is wrong. If you want to sink low, that is pitiful - but it is wrong to ask others to do the same. All the more when you have undue influence over them.

What is really sad is that these people get angry when others did not take part in their deceit. No, i applaud them for not wanting to be part of a scheme to obtain praise and approval that is not due.

I really feel bad for these people cuz they live in a world where the approval from others is so important - no, even essential to them that they'd do anything to get it even if it means getting it by deceitful means. And when such undue approval is received, they dun feel bad about it at all.

Such people will always live their lives trying to win the approval of others - at any cost. i can't imagine what kind of life that would be.

*Their second single from their debut album. It was also featured in the movie, "The Hot Chick".

Friday, 2 December 2011

If you wanna be happy* - Jimmy Soul

Happiness - is something everyone searches for. Some are sure they'll find it once they've moved back home. Some think they'll find it by making a new friend. Some hope to find it once they've defeated the competition. Then there are those who stop searching for happiness because they look up one day to discover it right in front of them all the time.

Mary Alice, Desperate Housewives S07E03

Let's learn to count our blessings and give thanks to God for everything!

*A no. 1 hit way back in 1963 and more recently featured in the wonderful soundtrack of My Best Friend's Wedding.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Heart attack* - Olivia Newton-John

It is not surprising when i read about football managers suffering from heart conditions. Harry Redknapp recently underwent a heart op. Former Liverpool manager Houllier suffered a heart attack during a game way back in 2001.

Why is it not surprising? Well, i almost had one the other night - watching the Liverpool Manchester City match!!!

One of the "heart-attack" moments - Silva rounding Reina but only to find not one, not two but THREE Liverpool players stading at the goal line! It was also quite amusing to see them lining up behind their goalie to protect the goal!

It was pretty good stuffs!!!!! Fast-paced, lots of actions, show of skill. It came to a point when i could not watch it sitting down!!!! There were many moments - to the amusement of me wife - that i was screaming and jumping and rolling on the ground in frustration or relief!!!

I even thought that i felt feverish due to the excitement! I felt flushed!

Why always him? Well, thankfully, he made the headlines not for scoring!!!

In the end, i was truly disappointed. City came to a point when they were contented to just sit back and let their goalie save the ball - and the team, again and again and again. I guess i shud be pleased that we managed to limit City to just one goal - and that too from a set piece. Unlike their average of 3 or 4 goals per match!!!

Still, we shud have won. Sigh... But it could have been worse - we could have lost too. And i could have had a cardiac arrest!!!

*The first track from her Greatest Hits Vol 2 album - not one of her very well known songs.