Friday, February 26, 2010

We Are The World 25 For Haiti

Heard the remake of the 1985 award-winning classic hit "We Are The World" recently? It's now called "We Are The World 25 for Haiti". What's the 25 for, you ask? Well, it has been 25 years since the original song, written by Michael Jackson & Lionel Ritchie, was recorded in support of famine relief for Ethiopia (USA for Africa). God ... am I OLD! Heheh...

When the original song became a hit in 1985, I was in secondary school, thousand of miles away from home. I remembered people singing it, taking great pains to copy the way the singers sang it to precision - cackling ala Cyndi Lauper and all (the American Idol judges would not have approved ...:P). The song was so popular that we choir girls even sang it for our Hari Ucapan & Penyampaian Hadiah. Reflecting on the matter now though, the song would have been better off with solo performances. But then again, takut Tuanku Sultan Kedah terkezut tang solo Cyndi Lauper tu pulak! Kui! Kui! Kui!

The original song was sung by 21 pop icons in the 70s and 80s, plus many more as back-up singers. Here's the list in order of solo performances:

Lionel Ritchie (favourite singer of Liaw Chiew Sek :))

Stevie Wonder (suka nyanyi lenggok lebih)

3. Paul Simon (from Simon & Garfunkel?)

4. Kenny Rogers (he's more famous in my country for chicken roasters, actually:))

James Ingram (my mom's favourite singer when she came back from the US)

Tina Turner (my dad's fav singer, then :))

Billy Joel (my daughter and I both loved "Uptown Girl")

Michael Jackson ("King of Pop")

9. Diana Ross (a great singer whom MJ admired)

10. Dionne Warwick ("That's What Friends Are For")

Willie Nelson (iconic country singer)

Al Jarreau (renowned jazz n R&B performer)

Bruce Springsteen ("The Boss")

14. Kenny Loggins (Suka jugak lagu mamat nih...)

15. Steve Perry (hmm... sape yek?)

16. Daryl Hall (John Oates' partner)

17. Huey Lewis (lead singer of "the News")

Cyndi Lauper (used to be my sister's fav singer. Masihkah kau ingat, Koob?)

19. Kim Carnes (popular jugak zaman tu...)

Bob Dylan (pop icon nih...)

Ray Charles (legendary soul singer)

The remake was released on February 12, 2010 and introduced to the world during the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was dejavu of sorts - I am still in school, million of miles away from home :). The song was recorded to support the Haitians in their time of need. It was sung by 36 supposedly top singers of this era plus loads more lending their vocals as backups.

The remake line-ups (in their distinctive categories):

1. "King of Pop" forever
- Michael Jackson (It's his song. So he should be in this one, dead or alive)

2. The ones with great voice and have a right to be here
Jennifer Hudson, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige

3. Icon in her own right (should have been in the earlier version)
Barbra Streisand

4. Teen idols of today (Heck, this is THEIR time. So should be in this version regardless of what people think)
Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, Justin Beiber

5. Popular singers of the millenia (plus and minus)
Usher, Akon, Enrique Iglesias, Pink, Fergie, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Nicole Scherzinger (Pussy Cat Dolls)

6. Singers from the 90s
Tony Braxton, Janet Jackson

7. The rappers + autotuners (the inclusion of rap and autotune was heavily criticized but c'mon ... they are part of the millenia popular culture ...)
- Lil Wayne, T. Pain, LL Cool Jay,, Snoop Dog, Busta Rhymes, Swizz Beatz, Iyaz, Nipsey Hussle, Kanye West

8. Who??? (No offence, it's just me :))
Jennifer Nettles, Tony Bennett, Trey Parker, Zach Schultz, Bebe Winans, Mary Mary, Isaac Slade

9. The surprise
Jamie Foxx (a tribute to Ray Charles, perhaps? But he sure can sing:))

10. The one that made me cringe (sorry dude, not my cup of tea no matter how hard I tried :))
- Wyclef Jean

Yeah, when you look at the line -up you wonder where were other big names in the industry (Chris Daughtry? Taylor Swift?? Beyonce???). But then again, are there that many good singers (or good songs) in this century? God, I miss the good old 'younger' days.

As for the songs, you decide which one gives you goosebumps:
(just click the song titles below)

We Are The World - USA for Africa" or
"We Are The World 25 for Haiti".

I like both! :). Enjoy the songs and don't forget to donate to Haiti!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From Manchester to Liverpool

From Manchester to Liverpool ... This blog post reminds me of Hishamuddin Rais' movie with a slightly different title: Dari Jemapoh ke Manchester, directed in the late 90s. The movie was about two youngsters from a small village in Negeri Sembilan who travelled to England on personal quests: one, to watch his favourite red devil (George Best) in action, the other, to find his sailor-father who was supposed to be in Liverpool. Well, people ... dengan ini saya mengisytiharkan bahawa saya juga telah sampai ke Manchester dan Liverpool (Jemapoh dah lama sampai ...) Kui! Kui! Kui!

The trip to Manchester was supposed to be the MCB Photography Club's lawatan sambil belajar-mengambil-gambar. We went there by the bus-load - 14 adults and 6 kiddos. Well, actually a handful of us were club members while the rest, family members :).

There was a Chinese New Year celebration in Manchester's China Town and it was thought that the burst of colours and action would inspire us budding photographers to capture some masterpieces. But what a let down! The dragon dance was so tame! (or should I say, lame :P). The lion dance performers at Subang Parade could outclass the Manchester troop any time! They never failed to wow us Subang Jayans with their heart-stopping acrobatic stunts, hopping from one high pillar to another! Malaysia Boleh! :)

So, I only have this picture to show of the event (a normal sight in Malaysia, ironically ... ).

Our next stop was Old Trafford. I suspected that's why the budak2 bujang made this trip in the first place. It was a case of sambil-minum-air-menyelam. They ended up taking a tour of the Old Trafford, and the rest of us, shopping (Manchester United souvenirs :) and taking pictures ...

... living every boy's dream

A scenic view near the Imperial War Museum North, Trafford Park.

It was already dusk when we made a move to Liverpool. As the Malay saying goes, "Alang-alang menyeluk pekasam" ... biar sampai ke Liverpool :P. Our bus driver-cum-penghulu, a Liverpool Uni alumnus, was all too happy to be our tour guide ... hehehe!

We were taken to the Liverpool Waterfronts & Docks, obviously a tourist attraction ...

The Beatle Story in Albert Docks, Liverpool

Doesn't this one looks like the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya?

... and this one reminds me of the tower clock in Labu Labi :P

Of course, a visit to Liverpool would not be complete without a visit to the Kop in Anfield. We knew that the stadium was closed at night but what the heck. Ambik gambar kat gate pun jadiklah ... So there we were, one second loitering around the stadium's gate, taking pictures; and in another, found ourselves ushered into the stadium's compound by security personnels. Call it Malaysian camaraderie - the grandfather of one of the officers hailed from Malaya :). Thanks, guys, for making our day! You certainly lived up to the Liverpool FC slogan, "You'll never walk alone"!

We had dinner at a fast-food outlet before heading back home. We reached Bristol around midnight.

Frankly, we did not have the opportunity to really explore the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, but it was fun all the same. Perhaps, we'll visit the cities again when its warm and sunny. Hopefully on a bus :D.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

FREECYCLE - never shop retail again

Today I got myself a Yamaha keyboard and it's FREE! Value for money is my thing, but getting something nice for free? What a feeling!! No doubt it's a used, Yamaha Portasound PSS 260 of yesteryears, but it is working perfectly and that's all that matters... The ex-owner had upgraded to a newer model and had put this old one up for grabs on FREECYCLE.

So what is FREECYCLE? Well, if you don't already know, you can actually guess from the name that it is a 'place' where you can get things for FREE. As for the 'CYCLE', I guess it comes from the word 'RECYCLE' and basically owners offer their belongings that they no longer use or need to interested parties. The wares are advertised via the FREECYCLE virtual site which uses the Yahoogroups platform. Therefore, to take part in this exercise, you have to become a member of the FREECYCLE group. Members will receive regular updates via their e-mails on the things offered or requested. For more info, go to

So, what can you get (or offer) at FREECYCLE? Well, anything from washing machines to chicken poo (honest!:)). Just a few minutes ago some smart alec even offered some 'sense of humour' (???:)). Some of the things offered were brand new, many were used items, while quite a number, damaged ones (to be used as spare parts). Just name it - branded items, junks - you can get it here.

How do you 'book' the things offered on FREECYCLE? Well, most of the time, you e-mail the person concerned indicating your interest. Some owners preferred to be contacted by phone. A few, offered on first-come-first-serve basis: whoever made it to the place first, gets the 'prize'. Macam-macam ...

So what's the catch, you ask? Well, none actually. These are people who just want to dispose unwanted items, or as some of them put it, "find a worthy home for a treasured belonging". So they and us (the 'junkies' :D) are actually doing our bit to save the environment (read: recycle). If there is a catch at all, it's just that you will have to pick up the items from the owner's home. If it's a Yamaha keyboard like mine, no sweat, right? But if it's a set of IKEA Ektorp sofas? You'll definitely need a van! And the things can be from any part of town - near or far.

Whoever started this initiative, hats off to them! This eco-friendly concept should be introduced in my country (Mary Jane the almost environmentalist: this is my challenge to you, babe!! :P). But I'm sure the kiasu (or should I say the money-minded???) amongst us would probably scramble for the things on offer and exchange them for cash at Cash Converter outlets! Dah tau dah ...

In the mean time, the kids are enjoying their Yamaha Portasound ... courtesy of Ellie and Jez (thanks a million, guys!! :)).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Research Revelations

Ever heard of: "Research is work in progress"?

Well, that's how I would describe the status of my research at this very moment. In these four months, I've actually gone from very sure (of what I'm going to focus on) to not so sure anymore. You would have thought that the more you read the more you know about your topic but what happened was, the more I read, the more overwhelmed I got. My supervisor however, assured me that what I'm going through is 'healthy' for a novice researcher like me. She pointed out that the research process is akin to the hourglass. It starts with a broad area of interest, narrows down to a particular issue, and ends with a generalization (well, not all research can be generalized, but... get the drift?). So, I'm now at the stage where I am absorbing whatever information there is, as a grounding for my research context (bunyi macam bagus! huhuhu...)

Truth is, excerpts from R.D. Laing's (1972) Knots, below, aptly describe the situation that I am in now :)
"There is something I don't know
that I'm suppose to know.
I don't know what it is I don't know,
and yet am supposed to know,
and I feel I look stupid
if I seem both not to know it
and not know what it is I don't know.
Therefore I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-wrecking
since I don't know what I must pretend to know.
Therefore I pretend to know everything."

and to my supervisor...
"I feel you know what I am supposed to know
but you can't tell me what it is
because you don't know that I don't know what it is.
You may know what I don't know, but not
that I don't know it
and I can't tell you.
So you will have to tell me everything"