Arts & Entertainment

Post-In Song

And just like that, the concert came and went.
With it, eight months worth of sweat and tears.
It never fails to amaze me how much hard work can be encapsulated in a single night – eight months of work condensed into a show of 80 minutes.

!(imgleft)http://photos27.flickr.com/38218848_e483be4929_m.jpg!

The weeks leading to In Song were no doubt nerve-racking. In addition to concentrating 101% on the songs, I had to multi-task and juggle different hats of responsibility for my first concert as an Exco member. The logistics were endless – letters to be read, name lists to be drawn, schools to be called, pitches to be sent, flowers to be bought, programme book/CD to be produced. Though the execution was done by my very able team of committee members, it was still a trying period making sure that things went on schedule and were done right.

Plus, there was the stress-inducing worry of ticket sales, which eventually culminated into a nightmare where I dreamt that the concert was over and we had only managed to sell 50% of the tickets. It felt so real that I woke up panicking, wondering why the sales were so dismal, only to calm down when I realised that it was just a dream.

Added on to my fears were the fact that I had not fully recovered. During the rehearsal, I went into a coughing fit and had to run off the stage in tears, desperately trying to stop the coughs.

!(imgleft)http://photos25.flickr.com/38218844_ebf2d9af5e_m.jpg!

And then suddenly, an hour before the concert, everything was forgotten. The stress, the worry, everything. It was just about going on stage to put on a good show and enjoying the singing.

It was definitely a good concert. I felt confident enough to sing out loud, instead of cowering in fear of my voice sticking out as I did in the past. And knowing that my family was there, watching me do what it is that I love, understanding why I disappear every Saturday afternoon – it felt good.

When it was over, all I could do was heave a sigh of relief. I felt like I could finally breathe again, and have some semblance of life outside of choir before the grind starts again.

Onward to Choir OlympicsWorld Choir Games 2006 next!


The altos hamming it up in front of the camera

[Let’s play tag! , ]

Arts & Entertainment

The chronicles of Narnia

Now that the dust of Harry Potter has settled, and there is no more Lord of the Rings to look forward to, I have found another endeavour which will take up most of my excitement and anticipation – The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis.

Yes, I do seem to have a penchant for reading children’s books, don’t I? But there is something about fantasy books, of magic and spells and talking beasts that draws my utmost attention. Whenever I read these books, it is almost as if I have fallen into the world of wonder, a world that does not exist here, a world spun from the threads of my imagination aided by the fluid writing of the authors.

Popartgirl had gotten me a boxed set of the chronicles at a MPH book sale for a mere $25 – how could I have resisted?

Once I started, I could not stop.

I read on the train while on the way to work and home, I read while my tuition student was busy drawing graphs and tabulating the sines and cosines of the world, I read every night before I slept. The world of Narnia was so enchanting that I simply could not put the books down.

CS Lewis writes in a simple fashion – his sentences are not long and meandering but rather, simple and straight to the point. Neither does he resort to using bombastic words, afterall, the series were meant for children. And yet, he manages to paint a wondrous world where animals were intelligent and could talk, creatures that you only read in mythology co-existed peacefully with people and animals, the Narnian air could make you a stronger person, and where the rulers were just, wise and beautiful.

And then, there is Aslan – the majestic lion who had created Narnia, and who is a key character that brings hope and happiness into the lives of the people living in Narnia.

The movie looks promising (catch the trailer here) and the casting of Tilda Swinton, last seen as the twisted angel Gabriel in Constantine, as the Wicked Witch is a clever one.

Can’t wait!


[Let’s play tag! , , ]

Arts & Entertainment

When the penguins come marching

If you have not caught the movie The March of the Penguins yet, please do so.
It is such an amazing and wonderful movie, it puzzles me when people say that they are not interested in it.

I have always thought that penguins were such cute creatures. They look like they are wearing tuxedos and have such a funny way of waddling that it makes me laugh. Plus, animations of penguins are always rendered so hilariously (think the Mafia-esque penguins in the movie Madagascar) that it’s impossible for anyone to have a negative impression of penguins.

And after you have caught this movie, you will adore them even more. From the way they fly out of the water to land with a thud on the snow, to the way they lie on their white bellies to paddle forward when the terrain proves to be too tough for their short little legs, you can’t help but be charmed by them. And oh, the way the females had flapped their fins at one another in order to win over the sadly depleting population of males, the way the fathers had to stand in the bitter cold, with the snow falling fast and furious on them, just to protect the fragile egg huddled in the warmth between their legs and underneath their feathers–all these just made you want to reach out and hug them. I cried when a wayward penguin lost his way and would, in all probability, die out in the cold, when two careless parents caused their egg to be broken, when a little baby penguin died because it could not survive the cold and the wait for its mother to return with the food it had so needed.

And above all, I couldn’t help but wonder how the penguins could have done all that with a bunch of human beings filming next to them.

This is a story of the journeys that the penguins have to take, year after year, in order to maintain their population. It tells of courage, love and, of course, life and is a fascinating look at the wonders of nature.

Catch it if you can!

The trailer here, narrated by Morgan Freeman, seems to be nicer than the French version that I had watched.

[Let’s play tag! , , ]

The organised chaos

Of margaritas and malu-ness

Yes, I am chao suaku*. All my life, the only alcohol that ever went past my lips were beer, red and white wine, champagne and alcoholic soda. Oh, not forgetting the occasional vodka lime/Ribena/cranberry when I went clubbing with my friends. Things like margaritas and Sex on the Beach were beyond me, I didn’t even know what they are made of.

So off I went today with my colleages for a “media team” drinks/dinner. We popped by Cafe Iguana at Riverside Point for a quick drink and ended up ordering a couple of jugs of margaritas. I was sitting beside colleague Pinkbee and she enthused about the strawberry margarita so much so that I had to try it. And it was delicious. The fruity taste was sweet but not overpowering, and the salt on the rim of the cup provided such an interesting juxtaposition of taste. I could have drunk the whole damn jug of it.

I am hooked. I am a margarita fan now, after almost three cups of it. And this is despite my faux pas, when I exclaimed to Pinkbee after taking my first few sips, “Wow, you can’t taste the vodka in it!” She said, with a straight face and a knowing look in her eyes, “It’s actually tequila.”

During dinner, where I killed my throat with a range of fried and oily food, a colleague dumped a mug of Tiger in front of me because, as she said, I looked like I could drink, whatever that meant. Since nobody else did, I decided to sacrifice myself and accepted it.

And then after that, colleagues A and Pinkbee, and I decided that the night was still young and we decided to adjourn to the nearby Brewerkz for a nightcap. The beer at Brewerkz went down so smoothly, Tiger (especially the warm ones) tastes like drain water compared to it. A and I have decided to go back down next Thursday when we have the monthly alumni gathering.

Maybe I was too drunk from all the alcohol, but I revealed this embarrassing incident (which I never told anyone) which happened during my return flight from Las Vegas.

I was lucky enough to fly Business Class on Singapore Airlines’ non-stop flight, and was seated next to a distinguished-looking man, Dr Lee. I have forgotten his full name although I remember that he is a director (or something like that) in a pharmaceutical company and volunteers at a free clinic on Sundays.

Anyway, he was a lovely man to talk to, very funny and approachable and we were having a lively conversation during one of the many meals that were served to us. Towards the end of the meal, I saw what I thought was white chocolate on my plate and thought to myself, cool, they provide such pretty-looking white chocolates, and popped the entire thing into my mouth.

To my immense horror, it was not white chocolate. The white blob was actually butter! I would have spat it out furtively if I was sitting in cattle class and not talking to anyone but no, there I was in Business Class and talking to a doctor. I couldn’t spit it out without looking like an idiot.

So I continued talking to Dr Lee, all the while trying to force the butter down my throat with copious amounts of water. Kudos to him though, for not asking me point-blank what on earth I was doing, stuffing butter down my throat.

Malu or not?
See, that’s why people gasp in shock when they realise what my alma mater is. They obviously expected somebody more submissive and money-grubbing. Well, too bad, it’s time the misconception of my school gets corrected anyway.

Okay, enough embarrassing stories for the night. Gotta try getting to work on time for once!

*Silly country bumpkin with no knowledge of much things

The organised chaos

Music on Mondays (8): The one about singing

Every time I mention that I have been singing in a choir since the age of 13, the people around me would express their surprise. And when I say that the choir hold its practices on Saturdays, they marvel at how I can sacrifice my weekends to sing.

But how can I explain to them that on the contrary, spending weekends on practices is something that has become a part of my life, such that it actually feels a little empty if I don’t see those silly buggers week after week? Them buggers who have become almost like family?

The best thing about singing is how, after months of hard work, you suddenly hear how the song combines the voices of the four different sections so beautifully. It’s almost as if there is a sudden frisson in the air, and the hair on your arms starts standing. You continue singing and then at the end of it, you look around you in amazement because the harmony created was just so breathtaking.

Of course, there are times when the chord goes awfully out of tune but that’s (thankfully) a rare occurrence and we usually have a good laugh about it in the end.

And then, there’s the high you get when performing to a live audience, especially in a setting such as Esplanade Concert Hall. It’s always a mixed bag of emotions – nervousness, fear, pride, jubilation, excitement. And the moment when you step out of the shadows of the wings into the bright lights of the stage to the accompaniment of enthusiastic cheers and frantic clapping is always a moment to remember, no matter how many times you have done this.

Given that we have a solid repertoire and sound damn good, I am looking forward to this Sunday’s concert!

Will you be there?

A sampler of what to expect.

[Let’s play tag! , ]

The organised chaos

Me and my Sista

On days like this, I wish that I were not a girl.

Yes, it’s Bad Cramps Day and today was one of those days when my stomach would, for mysterious reasons known only to itself, eject the foods that it houses within at inappropriate times. So off I went to work and in the hour that I was there, hurled twice. Caught a cab home (hole in pocket now, frig) into the sympathetic arms of my mother and my stomach started throwing tantrums again.

That totally sucks. SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS!

Okay, actually I am not in such a grouchy mood anymore. I realised that the Sista lubs me, in her own absent-minded sort of way. I had been sinking low in the chair this morning at the Office, complaining to her about my pains when she marched over (yes, we work at the same Company) and commanded me to go home. She even accompanied me to the taxi stand when I asked her to.

Now, the Sista and I have never been the best of friends. Despite the fact that she is the reason of my existence (my mother didn’t want her to grow up lonely and in need of a sibling, snort), she used to bully me for the fun of it. Once, we were in some violent quarrel and she stomped off into the bedroom. I was not going to let her get away with it and followed her. Just as she was slamming the door shut, I stupidly stuck my head in to yell at her. The end result was that my neck got caught between the door and the wall, I cried and cried because it was so bloody painful, and my mother screamed at both of us.

In recent years, she often pissed me off because she would filch stuff from my room and then brazenly deny that she did so. But in my regular raids on her room, I would often find my things stashed somewhere deep in the bowels of her wardrobe, things that I knew were missing and things I hadn’t known were gone. As a poor student who earned her keep by giving tuition, you can understand the sense of outrage I had felt then. Plus, she often worked late (it’s the Company) and would come home grumpy and not speaking to anyone. Basically, I never saw much of her, even before she moved out to stay on her own.

But despite everything, she was the one who took the first step to help me land the job at the Company when the previous one was shut down. She got me my gym membership at a 40% discount because she is a part-time instructor there. She would listen to me, patiently, whenever I vent my frustrations of feeling stifled now that I am no longer a roaming reporter but a research person yada-yada.

Actually, I think I will miss her when she leaves the Company to become a full-time gym instructor. While I am happy that she will be doing something that she enjoy so much, I am also sad that our sojourns, be it swimming at the gym when the team goes off for “editorial lunches” with the vendors leaving me sad and lonely or sipping our favourite teh halia at Amoy Street food market at inappropriate times, will be ending.

It won’t be the same at the Company without her anymore.

Me and the family

Me and the family last year at my convocation

(PS: If anybody reads Simply Her, do turn to page 90 of the current issue. The Sista has a full-page feature about her!)

Everything Else

Music 4 Mondays (7): The one about blue

Today, as most Mondays go, was awful.

I staggered out of bed late. The feeling, of not being motivated enough to get up, sucks. Since when has life become like this, so lacking in energy and direction? Maybe it’s because I have done what I told myself never to do: stay in a job because I have to and not necessarily because I derive a sense of purpose and drive from it. It’s not that I dislike what I am doing now, it’s just that I don’t enjoy it as much as I did my previous job. I feel like a caged animal being cooped up in restricted confinements 24/7, when I desperately long to be out there.

I am grateful that I have a job, at least. Maybe if I tell myself that I like the things that I do now, instead of pondering when I will ever break out of the cage again, I will actually grow to like it. But does that count as compromising on my dreams and aspirations? Or do these things even exist at all? Am I back at the existing vs. living crossroads again, somewhat?

Maybe that’s why I like to escape to the gym. At least when I am there, I know what my purpose is, and I can relax and enjoy myself.

Say Hello, a song by Nitin Sawhney and taken from the soundtrack of CSI: Miami (an excellent show), describes exactly how I feel. It’s so haunting and poignant, it brings out the tears in you.

Everything started to fall.
Where’s it all going?
Can’t make any sense of it all.
Where am I going?

Some people who’ve heard my frustrations (you know who you are) tell me that everything will come in its own time. I know, I am trying. Things will sort themselves out in good time, I honestly believe that.

I want to believe that.

Starfish

Like a starfish needs the water to survive, so do I my passion