Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chinese roots

It's been really long since I last clicked on "The Geeky Bits" and wrote here instead of on the other blog... source of all my troubles and superficial joys.

A lack of intellectual things to say? Quite the contrary... You see, I had loads to siphon off my mind but only limited time to do blogging. Again and again I chose attention and meaningless fawning over whatever gratification this blog might gently bestow upon me, waiting, waiting for me to fill it up so that it does not embarrassingly only contain 2 entries.

But I always fail to.

Sigh. Nonetheless, here I am.

Whenever I go to sing KTV with my friends and we indulge in belting out the oldies, I almost never fail to tell Shuyin... They don't write songs like that anymore, do they? The older Chinese lyrics are filled with an ancient beauty woven into the Chinese language that new songs choose to miss, and English songs just can never achieve.

To digress a little, as I often tell my closer friends, I've always thought that Caucasians are the most beautiful race. They have golden, flaxen hair... with eyes of vivid colours and defined features.

We chinese, on the other hand, have plain features with qian pian yi lu de yan jing he tou fa.

But yet, there is a reason why Eurasians born of Caucasian and Chinese descent are often even better looking than plain Caucasians... it is because the Chinese have a delicateness that other races do not seem to have. (except maybe a bit of the Japs and Koreans too)

When we look at Chinese stars like Vivian Hsu and Zhang Zi Yi for example, they exude a fragile nature that Caucasians just don't.

Comparing Angelina Jolie and Vivian, there is just an unexplainable crudeness about the way Jolie looks...

It almost, no offence to Caucasians, seem as if were there different "molding" Gods for different races.

The Caucasian god is bold, vibrant, but yet a tad clumsy with his work. He has thick fingers with ample strength, but he is impatient to see his end result. He pinches, presses, and there: done.

The Chinese God I imagine is female... She has long, tapered fingers where she sits all day long to create her model. She is rather boring, so simple and compact is good. But she is patient, and she's careful.

Both specimens are beautiful, but just different, you get what I mean? Caucasians are just lacking in the gentle aura that the Chinese have.

Even better if you mix both:

Sharp features with a soft elegance

Funnily enough, it is the same for all cultural objects. A flimsy sword compared to a morning star; sedans and carriages; and yes, back to my point... language: Mandarin and English.


Singing old Chinese songs make me sad, because current Chinese songs always have such stupid lyrics. Like "Lao shu ai da mi", for example. Meaningless drivel. But hey, whatever sells, no?

As our youths get more and more angmoh-pai, our KTV songs get simpler and simpler.

Lyrics no longer make people cry; for such things we have to rely on cancerous victims in MTVs. Like Tong Hua.

But that day, Shuyin and Junne jumped up in delight, because after a few days of trying to play 发如雪's MTV, none came up, and that day, it finally did.

While the MTV played, Jay's mumbled words became clear for the first time, and Fang Wen San's talent shone through, doing his best to blister up goosebumps in everyone.

I present to you:

狼牙月 伊人憔悴
A wolf fang moon, my dear one is waned and sallow

我举杯 饮尽了风雪
I raise a cup and drink in the wind and snow

Who overturned the cupboard of past lives

Provoking the dust to dispute

缘字诀 几番轮回
A predestined formula for words, how many reincarnations?

你锁眉 哭红颜唤不回
You’re frowning, crying that a lover cannot be called back

Even if the annals of history has already become dust

My love will not end

Grandeur is like three thousand waters flowing south

Yet I only choose a ladle of love to comprehend

Only long for your butterfly incarnation

你发如雪 凄美了离别
Your hair is like snow, beautifully chilling the parting

Who is touched by my incense?

Invite the bright moon to make my memories bright and clear

Love becomes immaculate underneath the moonlight

你发如雪 纷飞了眼泪
Your hair is like snow, a mess of flying tears

Who has been made old by my waiting?

红尘醉 微醺的岁月
The word of mortals are intoxicated, slightly drunken eras

我用无悔 刻永世爱你的碑
I use my lack of regret to carve out a stone tablet that represents my eternal love for you

你发如雪 凄美了离别
Your hair is like snow, beautifully chilling the parting

Who is touched by my incense?

Invite the bright moon to make my memories bright and clear

Love becomes immaculate underneath the moonlight

你发如雪 纷飞了眼泪
Your hair is like snow, a mess of flying tears

Who has been made old by my waiting?

红尘醉 微醺的岁月
The word of mortals are intoxicated, slightly drunken eras

啦儿啦 ~
la er la ~
La er la~

铜镜映无邪 扎马尾
There is nothing wicked reflected in the bronze mirror; tie a ponytail

你若撒野 今生我把酒奉陪
If you act wildly, in this life I will pour a cup of wine and keep you company

It is so beautiful. For those who don't understand Mandarin, please do not judge the song by the English translation. It does not even do 20% justice to how beautiful the song is.

Shuyin says Fang Wen San and Jay Chou makes a perfect match, and I have to agree.

This blog entry shall end abruptly here. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2004

"What kind of music do you like, Wendy?"

My teeny brother of 11 came into my room a few weeks ago, all psyched-up, with a free-gift mp3 player in his prepubescent hand, asking me what software I use to download songs into my Clie.

I thought of Kazaa and its alarming perils. ALL THE PORN! I imagined "Big dick cums into blonde girl with big titties mouth blah blah blah" all popping up when he searches for an innocent 5566 song, and told him that my songs are, indeed, all sang by a talented songbird - myself. Which is a blatant lie of course.

I then told him I could transfer those songs for him if he wanted, into his mp3 player, for him to share with his frisky little friends while they play five-stones.

He shook his head in a scandalised manner and hurried out of my room, mumbling something about "bathroom", "had enough", and "sound like banshee".

I shouted after him, "Don't download Kazaa, it doesn't let you download songs!!!!".

I hope my warning is dire enough.

A few days after, momo (that's what I call my mom) appeared and said that the mp3 player is rendered pretty obselete and asked me to teach my brother how to download Ou de yang's songs.

WHAT THE? Ou De Yang? Surely hearing him from TV is more than sufficient to appreciate his music?

I lightly talked about how 11 year old kids should not 1.commit piracy (until much later at least so less songs get pirated) and 2. will get exposed to porn and MOMO DOES NOT WANT THAT, DOES SHE? for 3 hours.

Momo gave up.

A few days later, the hall was flooded with Ou De Yang's voice.

Turns out Clinton the Rich (that's my bro's name) has bought the real, true blue authentic Ou De Yang CD.

Following this incident, my brother would sometimes come into my room with his gameboy in hand, listening to my radio tuned to MediaCorp Radio Y.E.S 93.3FM (that's the correct way to write that and I know coz I used to work for Today remember?) and asking me about Mandopop singers.

Then it suddenly hit me.


I took a look at him, and contemplated telling him ... Why even start listening to Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng and Jay Chou and Fish Leong and whoever?

I should offer him a plate, and ask him to take his pick of one of the following:

1) Trance
2) House
3) Progressive House
4) Techno
5) Jazz
6) Classical
7) Rock
8) Whatever, I don't know ... anything as long as it is not bubblegum pop.

and choose one type of music as his favourite type of music. Hell, how about starting a soft rock/jazz/blues/oldies band now?

I realised that when I was 11 myself, I was crazy about the Chinese singers (read: Jeff Chang).

I don't know about the other races, but my Chinese classmates then were crazy about 93.3FM too, and we had great fun singing Andy Lau together in playgrounds until one day we were still singing Andy Lau when a pervert sat beside us on the merry-go-round and wanked furiously and we no longer sang at playgrounds because the world is not so pretty afterall. [True story]

As I grew up, when I was around 15 or so, I realised that some of said classmates have suddenly switched to MediaCorp Radio Perfect 10 98.7FM.

Eileen, for example, is one of them. She no longer listened to bubblegum CHINESE pop and switched to ENGLISH pop.

Fast forward a few years, and Eileen now thinks that music without words are much more preferable - i.e progressive house. This is the kind of music that can move her, and can really make her feel.

Eileen is one of those true appreciators of house music - which is coincidentally the reason why she clubs at Zouk.

I hardly believe that the bulk of people who listen to such "vogue", or special if you please, categories of music are sincere lovers. More about poseurs later.

I don't know since when, but out of a sudden Mandopop is regarded with disdain. Mandopop listeners are losers, and people with no sense of music whatsoever. Ditto for the English Pop scene as well. We are generic, we are .... just following the crowd and liking whatever is popular.

Your idol is who? Britney Spears? Ashlee Simpson? F4? My gawd, you are 20 and you like them? What is wrong with you, they can't sing and they don't even write their own music! You are a LOSER. Grow up, bubblegum pop is for the 10-15 age range! Blah blah.

Only if you appreciate Josh Groban, (I can't think of more examples), and etc REALLY talented but not synthesized, packaged and marketed singers are you a true music lover. Otherwise, you are grooving for the sake of grooving.

Correct me if I am wrong, but since when is music ever relevant to maturity? I still like my childhood songs like Somewhere Over The Rainbow as much as I did when I was a kid.

Personally, my taste for music has always been slanted towards Chinese music - because I sincerely enjoy 5566 more than limp bizket or Beatles or Urgh, help me out here. I feel comfortable hearing Jay Chou and I like him. So there.

Nowadays, when people ask me, "What kind of music do you like, Wendy?" I go into a semi-frenzy.

I know if I say, "I like ... normal Chinese songs." I will get raised eyebrows. So I just patronise by saying, "I don't really have a perference, I'm ok."

In which, the person I am talking to is very likely to continue by saying, "I am really into jazz and punk rock" or whatever obscure genre he claims he likes, the more obscure the better because it proves his taste is not common; common and plebeian like the rest of the teenagers following the crowd to idolise Avril Lavigne and her like.

But really - is it impossible to like popular pop music and be ... not just "following the crowd"?

I say, very likely, because it is getting more and more difficult, with society's increasing pressure, to admit that you like bubblegum pop.

From this, we see a reverse phenomenon happening.

The people who like the obscure branchs of music are the real losers (not all, relax). Many people choose to like Jazz, for instance, when it became the thing to listen to. They say jazz is comfortable, jazz is soothing, and jazz makes them feel relaxed.

Oh yeah? Then why didn't you like Jazz before Norah Jones, Michael Buble etc went into the media limelight?

The truth - jazz is associated with lounges, clubs, coolness, Heineken Green Room sessions and basically appreciated by the "musically inclined connoisseurs". People want to be seen in that light too, no? They want people to think that they are not mindless followers.

Of course amongst these people there are sincere lovers of these special genres of music, like Eileen, for instance.

But among so many young people like myself suddenly switching their tastes for music faster than you can say "hypocrite!", I wonder how many are being truthful to themselves.

For myself, I shall hereby announce that I do like bubblegum pop (for instance I find Britney's Toxic a rather catchy song), and I am not ashamed of my taste. If you say that I am not exposed to enough jazz/rock/house/whatever yet, you are quite wrong because I do think I have heard them all, enough to give all the different genres a chance anyway.

Jazz makes me sleep. House irritates my eardrums as it pounds away. I don't understand the point of rapping - sounds like chattering to me. Piano tunes make me sleep. But Jay Chou - he makes me smile as I picture pretty strawberries and pristine sunshine with youthful love.


So stop asking me what kind of music I like, because my answer is bound to disappoint you.

(Hi there, if you want to comment! My entry is written in haste and I might not have got musical terms correct, so kindly correct me where I am wrong. Also, if I have contradicted myself ... ah, forgive me - even as I siphon out my thoughts I felt quite lost so it must have reflected in my writing. Also, the front part of the entry was written for but I changed my mind to put it to the geek blog later, so there IS a bit of frill, in front anyway. :P)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Animal Farm/1984 - Book Review

So coincidentally, this post title is also the year I was born. No no, not place - year.

Just finished devouring the whole of Animal Farm (yes I know I am late but I am still learning ok?) and besides the increasing amount of angst I felt at the injustice for the less intelligent animals as I read the book, I felt no strong repel against capitalism. At least I thought that the book was meant to be focusing on that issue - that Capitalism is wrong. Or not?

SL mentioned, without reading the book by itself but merely the literature guides which supposedly explained the crux of the book, that Capitalism in itself was not a bad thing. He said that every society still practise it.

One issue I have had some thoughts about was Intellect.

To be blessed with it is to be truly lucky - or not? The simple-minded would have their simple thrills in life as well. And if the purpose of living is to be happy, then surely these simpletons have achieved their goals well.

Say, for example, a simple-minded common girl would be satisfied with staying at home tending to her little children and watch them grow up into strong, healthy adults.

Sure, that would make me happy too (should I be able to find a man who is willing to marry me!), but I will not be satisfied. Hell no! Moving to another thought-track, what is causing my unhappiness? Let's drop all pretense here - I do think I am a very talented individual. I think I am smart - and therefore, should my intellect be used to its fullest extent only to tend to my kids, I will feel deeply uneasy.

I feel that I am not making full use of it. Not that the tending of kids is a easy job of course! - but if common women can do it, I am do it too, and IN ADDITION accomplish other amazing things.

On the other hand, why this arrogance? If I were maintaining this same amount of intellect, and yet the rest of the women around me were able to build aeroplanes out of their bare hands, would I still feel dissatisfied? If my IQ were 130 now, and everyone else's is 170 and above, then surely most of the money makers in the world would be the 170 people.

Therefore, mundane tasks shall as the cleaning of toilet bowls would necessarily be my kind of job scope, wouldn't it? (assuming that the 170 IQ people are not building robots for some reason, nor self-cleaning toilet bowls for that matter).

Maybe, if I know that I can never achieve anything better than tending my kids, I will not even think of trying, and I will be a satisfied, happy individual. This is of course with the theory that gratification comes from exceeding expectations.

I shall stop thinking of the hypothetic question of me having intellect below par.

Say now, I am a pig in Animal Farm. Is it right that I abuse this knowledge - this gift of my brains - to abuse and take advantage of the intellectually-handicapped?

YES. That's what I've always thought. That's correct - I will be Napolean if I were in that story, albeit not as cruel. Why, it's not my fault that others are stupid, isn't it? I want to make it big and be a big boss and pay my staff a salary - possibly as little as possible - and I feel I have every right to earn more than them because I am more capable.

What good is it to be smart if I do not gain out of it?

With Animal Farm, I've took a step back and examined my ideologies. How unfair it is to the horses and cows! How they were deceived, over and over again by the pigs!

But what other choices are there? If the pigs - if we for a moment imagine - were kind and benevolent, they would still give out big rations to the rest of the animals for their hard work while they remain dictators.

But what gives them the rights to tell everyone what to do? What gives them the powers to take what the animals reap and pass a dictated portion back to them? Correct, the animals are willing to listen to them pigs because they are smart enough to realise that the pig's directions are possibly going to lead them into some good. But still, does it mean that if the animals are willing/yearning to be worked it means you should tell them what to do? I'm still feeling confused - exactly how I feel whenever Hermione talks about Elf rights. Of course, it boils down to whatever makes the other animals HAPPY. If they want to be dictated, so be it.

On the other hand, what if the pigs do not tell the animals what to do, and no one comes up with any caste system at all?

We all know that communism does not work. They would all flop like dead fish.

So it ends up in "democracy", where, besides the majority rule thingy, each individual is given an equal chance to make it big. Who stands to gain once again? Let's put it this way: Have you seen a retarded person make it "big" yet?

So is the world meant to be this way? For the smart to, at their discretion, take advantage of the weak?

Is that really how it functions? How fair is it to be dumb people? Or is it fair because they are so dumb that they do not even know they are leading some mediocre/hard lives and are feeling quite satisfied - and therefore everyone from smart to dumb are happy?

That about nicely sums it up.

I'm still feeling relatively lost.

Let's talk about 1984.

It starts off as a RIDICULOUS book. It is so absurd! But as I read on, the book injected so many thoughts into me that I had to pensive (Harry Potter lingo, pardon me) some of it into this new blog of mine.

To those who did not have the pleasure of reading the book, it is about Winston, who lived in 1984. Take note that I am about halfway through the book now, so it might turn out like Sophie's World where the potagonist is mere fiction. Forgive me if that is the case.

Winston stays in a society formed after the "revolution". A "party" is formed (once again Orwell focuses a lot on Capitalism), headed by the man nicked Big Brother, or B.B. for short.

It was times of absolutely no privacy, no freedom, and absolute control (by the party). "Telescreens" were everywhere - these TVs which could send you pictures would also video your every move for the "Thought Police", and record your every spoken whisper. Do not even think for a moment that you are insignificant and thus the T.P. would not be interested in your life! Oh no, they are constantly watching you!

A million other rules - Sex is not good; WAR IS PEACE; FREEDOM IS SLAVERY; IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

You HAVE to support and obey the party - or they will kill you. Or in Orwell's words, VAPORIZE you. All evidence of your existence will be erased, and no trace of you left.

Everyone, out of fear of death (or simple stupidity), obeys the Party.

How ludicious, I thought. How could people actually succumb to such nonsense! If I were to live my life under Thought Police, I would rebel! I would find like-minded individuals, and change this silly system. People were born to be free!

Yet, there is a startling element of probability in this scary notion. What if I alone thought so (As Winston does too) but have no way of communicating this thought to fellow humans so as to confirm that I am not insane?

With telescreens watching everywhere, Winston could not find like-minded individuals, and even if he did find one or two, the powers are not enough to over-throw the party.

To add oil to the fire, the past is being altered away, so that in time to come, people will cease to find out how life was before the revolution began (50 years ago). This alone has the terrible consequence of making everyone blinded to the fact that it is not always been like this ... Their ancestors were once FREE.

How could the past be altered? Through sheer efforts and absolute power, the party changes statistics and destroys old prints/photographs/books.

Before the revolution, they said, the world was a sad place with capitalists in top hats. They, a small group, alone controlled the world and everyone else were their slaves.

Just as one's mind gets tangled uncomfortably in Orwell's world of 1984, he introduces a new mind-set. Before I go to that, let's talk about why it is uncomfortable.

What about OUR society now? What if ... It was not always like this? What if the Conspiracy Theory was true, and the statistics given to us (i.e. better health etc) were all fake? Total freedom - how would it be like? THEY told us that crime rates would increase, standards of living will drop (and logically thinking it sounds correct) but what if these were not true? What if, in our olden days where there was no Government and absolute freedom, there were no rape cases, because girls then are willing sex partners without society's rein on them? What if diseases we know are actually released by the Government to convince us that we would have died from AIDS without their protection against sexual crimes?

Never mind this little wild thought.

As I was saying, just as I was getting very uncomfortable about Orwell's world, Julia was introduced to the book.

A sweet young thing of 26, Winston hated her and wanted to rape and kill her because she was precisely the kind of girl he dislikes - the ones who TRULY believe in the words of the Party and TRULY believe that sex is supposed to be "a duty to the party", and the type of sneak who will report a thought-criminal to the authorities and watch him hung.

Julia was part of the Junior Anti-Sex League - a band of celibre comrades (Orwell was fond of this word) who actively work against sexual activities.

Julia was totally not what Winston imagined, and she was in love with Winston.

In a surprising twist, Orwell now focused on the love factor of their story, and I felt myself, embarrassingly, more entertained and at ease than I was when I was reading the front parts where much thinking is required of the brain.

He had a purpose in doing that ... Julia, it turns out, was a rebel as well. She adored sex and hated the party - but not in the same manner as Winston.

If Winston were looking at South East Asia, Julia was only looking at Singapore. She, like many of the other youths, have taken and accepted that the Party was there, and their way of life was unalterable. But no ... She was not about to take things down as it is either. Her way would be to break the rules in a secret manner, and do the things she enjoys the best she can.

This would be a very self-centred view. As long as it affects her, she tries to dodge it. If not, she cannot be bothered. And yes, it is precisely the reason why it is so much simpler to read suddenly- it symbolises how simple it is to be selfish, as compared to the exasperation often associated with changing something as big as society.

Both of them feeling unjustified, but very different resulting acts.

p/s: I possibly should mention this little character in the book as well, called Syme. He worked on the Newspeak (the Party's lingo) dictionary.

He was in charge of creating new words, and perfecting the ceases in the language.

Soon, Syme said, Newspeak will be used to replace Oldspeak (normal English) once and for all. For the party, Oldspeak is flawed. How can, he explained, the slogan of the party be "Freedom is Slavery"? In Newspeak, there will be no such word as "Freedom". Without the feeling (comrades were not ALLOWED to like freedom), there is no need for a word to describe it at all, and without the word (in future), no one else will ever need to know what is 'freedom'.

Now HOW SCARY IS THAT? On the other hand, it is also brilliant. How, how on Earth can I describe that I feel perplexed, or jealous, without using either words? By erasing words out of the dictionary, it is also a method to get rid of some emotions?

Winston had predicted Syme's vaporization because he is too smart for his own good, and the Party do not like these people. Winston could sense that Syme did not agree with the Party, although his every words sounded absolutely zealous. Too zealous, in fact. This is so sad because I really liked Syme.

Enough for the day, I'll review more after I finish the book. Feel so much better now! Tata!