Monthly Archives: April 2008

… what happened to Carly’s Jesus Christ Superstar?????

We had to bid farewell to Carly Smithson on American Idol (AI) tonight. It was inevitable I suppose given AI’s reputation as a popularity contest as opposed to a talent contest. At least she made it to the Top 6.

My contention however is not with the results. My contention is with ASTRO.  If you caught AI tonight, you would notice that Carly Smithson sang Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar again. But you would not be able to catch the whole song & it was censored  blatantly when the chorus started …… “Jesus Christ, Superstar….”

Well, I question the reason for this. Is this because of religious sensitivities? Is it a timing issue? I’d like to think it was for the latter but I suspect, NO.  

All I can say is songs & lyrics are just part of an artistic expression. It was a rock song from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” which told a tale of a certain historical personality. In this case of Jesus Christ. It was not a piece of religious propaganda. It was not a piece sung to convert non believers. Think of it logically, Andrew Lloyd Webber is no evangelist…. It’s ART for goodness sake.

Voice of Judas
Every time I look at you
I don’t understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand
You’d have managed better
If you’d had it planned
Now why’d you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?If you’d come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication
Don’t you get me wrong
Don’t you get me wrong
Don’t you get me wrong, now
Don’t you get me wrong
Don’t you get me wrong
Don’t you get me wrong
Don’t you get me wrong, now
Don’t you get me wrong

Only want to know
Only want to know
Only want to know, now
Only want to know
Only want to know
Only want to know
Only want to know, now
Only want to know

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you’re what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you’re what they say you are?

 
                                                     …………. (for full lyrics, click here)
 
 

 

Tell me, if you heard the song & you read the lyrics above, would you be compelled to alter your religious beliefs. Would you be compelled to do anything besides express musical appreciation. It was but a beautiful piece of rock music with lyrics sung in context with the theme of the musical. Fullstop. Nothing more, nothing less. Please don’t butcher ART.

Dental clinic….ummm spa, anyone……….. ?

It all started with a bloody stone in the spinach lunch that I took at an Indian restaurant in Taman Tun. It cracked one of the upper molars & left me cursing and swearing. This of course merits a trip to one of our regular dentists in SS2 PJ.

After an hour’s wait in a less than comfortable waiting lounge …. my turn finally came and guess what? The dentist took a look at it and told me this …. “I think you’ve got to learn to live with a chip in your tooth?”. “Huh????” was my response. “What the F***!” was my mind’s response. I waited an hour to hear that???????????? I persisted with a “But why?” . “From my experience, it’s better to leave it alone. The chip is small and if I wanted to fill it, I’d have to drill a bigger hole and this means your tooth will be rendered unstable….You’d need a crown if you insist on it being filled ….it won’t last long on a normal filling…blah blah blah”. My mind had switched off – I WAS NOT GOING TO PAY FOR A CROWN FOR A LOUSY CHIPPED TOOTH!!!!  FULLSTOP.

“It’s OK, doctor. I’ll learn to live with it!”. Out I went.   

Two days later, I find out the painful way, I don’t want to live with a chip in my tooth. My tooth hurt when I ate, it hurt when I brushed, it hurt when I drank………………….  Sucks. I should have gone against the doctor’s ‘experienced’ advice and insisted on a filling to spare myself further inconvenience  ………………

So I went to the dentist, again. A different one this time. I decided to be adventurous and go off the beaten track and try a new doctor out, nearby our house.

A marked change. The whole waiting lounge area seemed carefully thought out….

It was like being in someone’s living room. It had a reception table facing the doorway & that was practically the only thing officious about this space. There was a cozy lounge area which was furnished with a 2 + 3 seater. A coffee table lay in the middle.  There were shelves displaying books, magazines & even dental products that you could browse through.

To the left of the sitting area was a little tented play space for children. This space was boxed in by comfy vibrantly coloured IKEA lazy chairs ideal for parents to monitor their kiddoes in. In my case, ideal for settling down with a book in hand.  

Beyond this space, was a brightly lit area furnished with a small rectangle table complete with wooden chairs all round – perfect for patients who wish to work while waiting. A young lady was actually catching up with her homework while waiting for the dentist, when I was there.

The walls were a soft orange with a stencilled chair rail. There was a lovely oil painting of two kebaya clad nyonya ladies. There were also framed antique ornaments adorning the walls. Quite a visual feast actually.  To top this off, soft instrumental music filled the air creating a calming, homy atmosphere … perfect for taking your mind off the wait and the imminent walk into the dentist’s room …. where the drills await!  

Soon, my name was called……The doctor was young and pint sized. Hmmm… this is going to be interesting. I have never encountered such a young dentist ever. Was I in good hands?

Well, we went through the whole rigamarole of “What’s the problem? – My tooth cracked – Can you fill it up, it hurts when I eat, drink, etc…” “No worries, small patch job will solve the problem…”! Yippee, he’s willing to patch a small hole up without making it bigger!

So I braced myself for the SUCTION – DRILL – WASH SUCTION1st PATCHMORE DRILLING 2nd PATCHPOLISHBITE routine.   

Well, if you notice, there were 2 different patch phases. Don’t ask me why. I’m not the dentist. But the thing is, everytime the doctor patched, he needed to wait for it to harden for 2 to 3 minutes. Note my surprise when he instructed for ‘Earphones!’ …. Huh????? I’m used to hearing – cotton, amalgam, tweezers, suction etc being barked at the dental nurses… but Earphones is new. Next thing I know, the doctor was walking out of the room and the nurse plonked a pair of earphones over my head. Instrumental music (that was playing outside in the waiting lounge) now streamed into my ears…. hey…wait a minute, there is even the sound of water flowing in the background…… Bizarre. Well, this earphone regime was repeated 3 times in between the fill job.

I VERY NEARLY CRACKED UP. I was trying so hard not to laugh. Funny situation I was in really. Thank God I managed to hide my face behind the book I brought …………. 

Now picture me lying down on the dentist’s chair with a pair of earphones over my head listening to some seriously CORNY but CALMING MOJO music, with a bib tied to my neck, a mouth stuffed with cotton wool, reading a book – I could’ve sworn the nurse even dimmed the overhead lamp above the dentist chair.  What a hilarious sight that must have been! Hmmm…. almost half expected a foot reflexology and head massage ………. Ok, pushing my luck there but is this what they call a dental spa experience? Corny I know, but really really relaxing.

I was almost reluctant to leave the room when the job was done. After giving me brief instructions about not eating over the newly filled up tooth, the doctor advised me to go come again for scaling & polishing.  Well, waddaya think….. FUYOH………

“HEY DOC, OF COURSE I’M COMING BACK……….!

 

 

 

 

 

p.s. I notice, most dentists have one thing in common. They are usually soft spoken. They have a way with words to calm your nerves. Generally speaking, they possess a quiet & gentle demeanour.

There is a however a difference in the frills offered by old and young dentists. The older ones obviously have more experience. They have their regulars and it has come to a point where they still earn a decent living based on their age old practices.  They deal with the problem. No frills, no fancy decor needed.  No arguments there.

But it is indeed refreshing to know that things have changed and if you decide that you want more contemporary & relaxing dental services, the younger doctors are better placed to offer you that experience.  I suppose these can be called gimmicks, or attempts to be different to gain entry or to garner a larger market share in an increasingly competitive environment. But hey, who’s complaining. The consumer stands to benefit, and in my case the dental charges were indeed competitive. So I get more for what I pay for. So why not? Gimmick away!

 

 

Quirky names revealed ….

 In my lifetime, I’ve encountered several people who have ………. shall we say, interesting names. Was having dinner with a friend back from overseas & she proclaimed that she was now a grand aunt. Her grand nephew’s name is Damien Achilles K*****. How quirky is that?

The first name, Damien, is already invoking scenes of havoc & destruction in my mind. After all this is the first name sported by the sinister child of the devil in the 1976 horror classic, The Omen  (There’s a remake but its not worth mentioning).   Sadly, but not surprisingly, Damien Achilles’ mum has had to bear the brunt of tasteless & cruel jokes about whether her son was born on the 6th of June 2006 (666 – being the number of the devil incarnate) – Scary!

 FYI, the name bears the meaning of ‘to tame, to subdue’. Yikes……… even scarier! ……………..Hmm..  any regrets, mum? 

Talk about double jeopardy. The child’s second name is Achilles – Remember, the expression ‘Achilles’ Heel’. It has come to represent someone’s weakness. In Greek mythology, Achilles’ mum dipped him into the magical River Styx to make him invincible. She held him by the ankles so that the river water could run over his body. However, the heel area where his mother held him was not touched by the water. This part of the anatomy has since been referred to a weak point as Achilles was killed by a poisoned arrow shot into his heel. Interesting though the story may be, I wonder how a Malaysian child would be able to relate to being named after a Greek warrior (with a vulnerable heel…to add to that!). And, we haven’t even started exploring the possibility of people mispronouncing his name i.e. massacring  Achilles – with a ch’ sound as in chin instead of a k sound. (Check out this link, if you’re not sure of the pronunciation)

I really don’t know how parents can think up of such quirky names. Is it for the amusement of it? Is it to try to be different from everyone else? Is it for the meaning behind the name? 

I’ve read that some parents like to name their children after their favorite cars i.e. Mercedez, Porsche, or favorite football players like Beckham even. Perhaps, parents secretly harbour hopes that their children’s lives will mimic the success or popularity of personages or objects that they’re named after. OK!  I understand if you want to name your child after a favorite person, but an object?!! Gosh – it is turning out to be a branding exercise instead of a naming exercise. Dunno.    

I’m sure all parents mean well when naming their children. Unfortunately,  it really is the children who will suffer at the end of the day. They end up  being the butt of people’s jokes, being victims of mispronunciation to their names, etc. Sigh….. the consolation is that the kid can always have an ALIAS when he or she grows up I suppose …..

Before I end, there’re 2 more people I’ve met with quirky names…. they are Darling & Moonlake. I kid you not.

  • Darling T*% – She was a University mate of mine. It always cracked us up when her boyfriend called after her in the lecture hall…  “Hey, Darling (pun intended, of course) – I’ve managed to book us a seat here……….”
  • Moonlake L** – Moonlake was a Hong Kong based colleague of mine in the stockbroking firm that I was working in, years ago. One thing I notice about the Honkeys, they tend to come up with English names that share similar meanings to their Chinese names hence, the quirkiness.

I’m sure everyone has encountered someone or other with a quirky name at least once in their lifetime. One thing is for sure – those with ‘unique’ names will always be deeply entrenched in our minds….  and forever remembered!

p.s. Maybe that’s what the parents are looking for………… 

AFTERTHOUGHT….

In response to Pink Jeans’ comment regarding quirky celebrity offspring names…. Yes, she is indeed correct in saying that they ‘take the biscuit’ in being the most quirky … check them out here.

 

Michael Johns eliminated…stinks of bigotry?

 ……….. Michael Johns (1st fr left, top row) booted out!

Imagine my shock when I read in the papers that Michael Johns was knocked out of the top 8 American Idol (AI) line up. BUMMER right…. to catch the news this way! Couldn’t be helped – we don’t have Astro in Mentakab so I didn’t get to catch the results show live ….

His elimination was a double shocker. First, Ryan Seacrest misled contestants into thinking that AI would do away with the elimination round this week. After all that’s what they did last season as an act of benevolence after the Charity Show. When it was revealed there WAS an elimination after all, Michael Johns was named together with Carly Smithson & Syesha as the bottom 3. It seems he was being punished for a so-so performance of  Aerosmith’s “Dream On”, his rendition for this week’s inspirational theme.  Well, he was punished even harder when the 2nd shock was delivered. It seems Carly was prepared for elimination… pointing a finger at herself when Ryan was about to make the announcement. But, it was Michael’s name that was announced. Jaws dropped and ‘boos’ resounded across the hall.

 

No one is pretending that American Idol results delivers fair judgement on a contestant’s talent nowadays, especially after Melinda Doolittle’s exit from last season’s Top 3 result show. But Michael John’s seemed to fit AI’s cooker cutter role of HUNK and good singer (not the best but good), so well….  Hmmm… perhaps its because he’s an AUSSIE. There’s a huge backlash against Michael’s exit. American phone voters did not seem to want a foreigner in the final rounds. Well, it does seem a a little bit bigoted if you look at the profile of the bottom 3. One’s Aussie, One’s a heavily tattooed Irish and One’s Black. Hmm… it really does stink of bigotry this week… !

Another theory posed is that the voters simply forgot to vote for Michael Johns. They were too complacent for Michael Johns. He seemed set to sail to at least the Top 5, so it appears he was SAFE, no need to throw him a lifeline to keep afloat or so they thought. After all his performance wasn’t that bad. David Archuletta was forgiven for forgetting his lines. David Cook was out of his element last week but was given a seal of approval. The tweens voted for 17 year old heart throb  David Archuletta or dreadlocked Jason Castro. The teen boys went the girl-next- door blond beauty Nicky Cook …. The more serious voters would have gone for Brook White, David Cook with the more impressive vocals. Somehow, they forgot to vote for Michael Johns & so that brought him head to head with Syesha & Carly in the bottom 3.    

There is also a case of the missing votes.  Viewership is down. Take the Charity Show numbers this season. It went down from 26.9 million in 2007 to 17.5 million Wednesday night, according to Nielsen Media Research. Based on shock eliminations & claims of rigging, the missing votes are likely to belong to the older crowd. The older voters represent lifelines for the talents of the show. Without them, it is likely the golden girls, the teenybopper type contestants will prevail until the finals.

Predictions for the top 3. Well, I think David Cook, the rocker, is a very unique talent. He certainly is imaginative and willing to take risks. Will never forget his rendition of Billie Jean last week. David Archuletta is probably gonna be in due to his teeny bopper appeal. Lastly, I think it’ll be Brooke White. She’s a bit anaemic in terms of versatility but a natural when she goes unplugged. Not bad vocals for the matter too.  But then again…. I’m NOT willing to bet my bottom dollar on this list…

After all, it is SHOW BIZ. Anything can happen…for all you know NICKY COOK who Simon says was forgettable in the first few rounds of the top 12 performances seems to be picking up steam. With her golden girl good looks…. she just might fluke it to the top 3.

P.S. I must add that this season’s TOP 12 is a pleasure to watch. They really do sing like pros although performers like Syesha are a bit cliched but nevertheless… she can croon.  Even Nicky Cook is beginning to sound good. In fact, its sad that with each elimination we will see less and less of them. The pleasure really is to see the diverse talents and styles of each individual singer as they perform each week. … In fact, I figure the top 2 show might end up to be a little too predictable and boring when all the others get eliminated … but that’s just my opinion.

…. a few of my favourite things ……

You know we all have a few items that we lable our favourite things….

Let’s see. One of my top favourites has to be this miniature perfume bottle.  It stands only about 2 inches tall. I got it from my sis-in-law LYL as a souvenir from one of her business travels overseas when I was 16 or 17 years old. Forgive me if I can’t remember the exact time …  it really was from way back then… I’ve still got it … It’s a beautiful oval bottle with a ‘to die for’ cap which holds the shape of a pair of doves in flight, nuzzling each other at the beak  ….. Just look at the intricate design of this bottle – all packed into this tiny crystal package. Precious as it is, I have never used the perfume. In fact I’m not even sure what brand it is. The bottle has withstood the ravages of time very well, although I can’t say the same for the contents. Some of the liquid has evaporated over the years but … the doves remain as mesmerising as ever before.

 

My 2nd favourite thing might strike you as odd, ….. but then, I’m an Obsessive Compulsive, remember? Well, you probably wouldn’t even spare these humble objects a second glance. I’m referring to the post millenium Malaysian coins. Take a look at the 10sen coin for example, if you notice, a congkak set is etched at the bottom of the humble coin. It really is quite beautiful and symbolic. If you were to flip a 50 sen coin to its underside, you’d see a WAU. Try looking at the other coin denominations ….. & see if you can identify the other hidden ‘treasures’ for yourself. These little down to earth items really do boast a stylish face …. Now you know why some people have large collection of coins from all over the world…it really does have a lot of aesthetic value!

 

I love my Calvin Klein watch and it deserves to be on my favourites list. It was a gift from Fat Dragon two years ago. This stylish white oval timepiece has a watchface that is devoid of dials. Blank, nothing, except for the hour hand and the minute hand. The strap is merely a pair of strings attached the watch face. Simple clean lines. My kind of watch. But let me tell you, this watch is not all looks only. You see, there was one fine day when the watch was in my pants pocket & silly me, put it in for an overnight soak. As if that was not bad enough, it was then thrown into the washing machine for a wash.  Thank God for ‘water resistant’ & probably ‘shake resistant’ technology. The watch actually survived the ordeal, came out unscathed & is keeping perfect time until today. I’m sold on your product, CK.     

The next item on my list doesn’t belong to me but I benefit from it, so its one of my favourite things. It’s Fat Dragon’s phone – a Sony Ericsson W580i. This sleek model comes with a camera and music player. The cool thing is that you move on to the next song track with only a shake of the hand. The phone  is backlit with rotating colours of indigo, blue, green and it glows in psychedelic glory from the sides when in use. Very hip. But what I really like about it is that it’s also a step tracker …. When Fat Dragon & I go jogging, it traces the number of steps we take & this translates into the distance travelled. But I’m highly suspect of its accuracy as the steps counted sometimes run into thousands….. so I think it registers every move a person makes be it a step, or just a slight twist or a jump …ahahahahah…but hey who’s complaining. It makes you FEEL GOOD even if its a false sense of achievement!

Well, these are just a few of my favorite things… … hmmm … can’t seem to get Julie Andrew’s voice out of my head…… 

    

Postcards from the East…..

A  jaunt to the East Coast with my soul mate, 2 small chocolate tarts, some plums & jambu air pretty much sums up the highlight of my birthday this year. Quiet affair but nice.

As time goes by, I guess the simpler things in life are the most special. 

Thank you Fat Dragon for presenting me with a gift that can document precious moments into collages like the above! (Although I suspect you’re beginning to regret the purchase given that you are now living under the same roof with a resident papparazzo!)

Thank you ALL who sent me birthday messages and especially to FT, ST & KC for the lovely audio message.

I loved Sharon’s ‘defy your age’ ecard which sums up my Roaring Fortier’s celebration perfectly! Check out the card here!

It is indeed the ATTITUDE that counts, not the NUMBER!

Viva La Roaring Fortiers! AYE AYE!

 P.S. Would like to extend birthday wishes to two birthday buddies of mine CLY & ELS! Have a good one my fellow Arians…….. Rock On!!!!

P.P.S. CLY & I talked about receiving Red Porsches as birthday presents aeons ago … guess we’re still waiting and have to settle for just thumbnail pics like the one below… . O.K. for a Porsche, I’ll stray from my simple life mantra a bit…  🙂  

Big thumbs up to Ben for Gone Baby Gone!

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I was never a big fan of Ben Affleck but I am wowed by his rookie directorial effort in Gone Baby Gone! It’s been a long time since we last caught a dramatic thriller that had real entertainment value & driven by powerful performances, authentic scenes and an interesting plot. No fancy car chase scenes, no overflowing blood and gore & no glamourised sets, to capture the audience.  Gone Baby Gone hit a home run on this. 

Based on the Dennis Lehane novel, the movie is  about two Boston area detectives investigating a little girl’s kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally.

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The movie starts off by showing a media frenzy covering the case of a missing 4 year old girl, Amanda McCready. 

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The local police efforts, headed by Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) had already gone into the third day of investigations and still,  no leads.  The girl was kidnapped from her bedroom whilst her mum was over at her girlfriend’s home across the road watching ‘Wife Swap’. The apartment that she was kidnapped from was being shared by the mom, Helene McCready (Amy Ryan), her brother Lionel (Titus Welliver) and his wife Beatrice -Bea (Amy Madigan).

Now Bea, Amanda’s aunt, who distrusts Helene & her drug ridden lifestyle, takes it upon herself to hire a pair of private investigators Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) & Angie Genaro (Michelle Monaghan) to ‘augment’ the investigation process. She wanted someone who could talk to ‘people who wouldn’t open up to the police’ i.e. drug dealers, bar tenders, addicts, pedophiles etc.

In the course of Kenzie and Genaro’s investigation, it puts them in the path of Detectives Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton). When the P.I.’s solve the case 2 months later, the tagline packs the movie’s punch beautifully “Everyone wants the truth…… Until they find it”  

I shouldn’t add anymore to the storyline. The little girl’s predicament appears to be a drug related kidnapping …..  but then as you sit through the movie, the layers peel off and you are presented with a view that things are not as simple as you think. One thing for sure, the movie is anything but obvious … The good guys appears to be bad. The bad guys appear to be good …. or so you’re made to think.  That’s what makes it intriguing. The truth really does not unfold itself until the very end. By the time it hits you, I fear it will cause you to leave the cinema with a set of questions. Moral questions.

  • Do two wrongs make a right?
  • Where & when do we draw the line between right and wrong?
  • Does living by your principles  make you a winner in life?

I must say Affleck seems more adept at directing than acting. He was able to pull really strong performances from his cast.

Amy Ryan shone in her role as the missing girl’s mom Helene & she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 80th Academy Awards, the Golden Globe & SAG awards too. She carried the role of a negligent drug addict mom so convincingly that you would readily lable her (forgive the bigoted expression)  ‘white trash’…….   

 Casey Affleck, Ben’s brother took on the role of Patrick Kenzie, the Private Investigator. Casey too, pulled off Kenzie’s role beautifully. Kenzie is a seemingly unassuming but streetwise P.I. who turns out to be a man of principle intent on putting things right. He goes through lengths to protect what is precious to him as evidenced in his threat to kill drug dealer ‘Cheese’ if he ever disrespected his girlfriend partner again. It is through Casey’s portrayal of Kenzie’s role that forms the backbone of the moral dilemma inherent in the movie.  

Affleck was also able to draw a powerful performance from Ed Harris who prior to this, always seem to be given nondescript roles despite his strong acting skills. I’ve never seen him looking so good (Hmm..is that a new hair job, Ed?). Morgan Freeman was his usual stellar self but really at the end of the day, kudos still goes back to Ben Affleck.

Ben not only directed the movie, he also co-wrote the screenplay.  The dialogue in the movie was heavily laden with profanities but what the H*%%, it was an authentic depiction of tough neighbourhoods like Dorchester which forms a big part of Boston in the movie. He filled the movie with characters that you would cringe to look at  …..  complete with pot bellies & tattoos. The cinematography took us through graffitied neighbourhoods, run down townhouses, lacklustre shopfronts, dark and drab eateries & seedy pubs. All so dark, but all so real. It was totally unpretentious.

I now have a renewed respect for Ben. I am really looking forward to him producing more gems like this in the future. …… as his future is certainly not Gone Baby Gone. Kudos!

 

ben-affleck.jpg   BEN, the director……..!

P.S. If you’re planning to watch the movie in the cinema circuit, well be warned – the dialogues are heavily chopped up as the Malaysian censorship board seems to think that the audience is not matured enough to listen to profanities uttered in all its prime and glory.  This has no doubt fractured the conversations & robbed the movie of some authenticity. Catch it on the DVD if you don’t want to be cursing and swearing in the cinema in compensation for the rudely censored expletives ………

P.P.S. If you notice, the circumstance’s of Amanda’s disappearance in the movie is similar to that of real life 4 year old English girl  Madeleine McCann’s  on May 3, 2007 while the family was on holiday in Portugal. As a gesture of deference to the family, the movie’s UK release date is being pushed to Apr 18, 2008, much later than the US release in Oct 2007. 

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