Tuesday, January 20, 2009

soundbites from inauguration speech.

"we will extend our hand if you're willing to unclench your fists." :)

"...all are equal, all are free..."

it's 1.40am (12.40pm ET) and the US national anthem was just sung.

great speech, though deep at times. but i like that it covered most issues, most problems, and most of all, hope in times of trouble. i like that it was partly a warning for america and all of us, that the days ahead aren't the best of days. that we all, as citizens of the world, have our own responsibilities and the need to step up (and stop whining and complaining) and take our place in this world. that complacency is not an option, and stillness, happiness and peace must always be fought for.

more soundbites when i get them. but meanwhile, i absolutely love the fashion today at the inauguration. no boring black coats for the women, but a splash of color everywhere! from michelle's gold-yellow isabel toledo ensemble, to the obama girl's blue and pink coats for malia and sasha respectively, laura bush's soft grey coat, jill biden's flaming red coat and black knee length boots, hillary clinton's electric blue coat, and more people like nancy pelosi and michelle's mother. my favorite: jill biden. she looks smashing.

ETA!: oh they just showed obama and joe biden and their entourage walk into the capitol, pass the rotunda where the painting "the apotheosis of washington" is painted on the dome roof. and i was there! standing in the middle.

ETA!!: as soon as 12noon came, the whitehouse website underwent a complete transformation.

hokay. i have 830am class tmr so i'm so gonna pass out in class. :)

yayy we are now part of an amazing piece of history.


the inauguration in lego-land. :)

inaugurations have been significant times in US history. both on tv and real life.

JFK famously said, "ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" in his inauguration speech.

in season 4 of the west wing, president bartlet used his inauguration speech to announce a new doctrine - freedom from tyranny everywhere. because "today you can make a bomb in your country and bring it into my country, so what goes on in your country IS my business."

in season 7 of the west wing, less than 3 years ago, the obama-inspired character matt santos was sworn in as the first latino president of the US in the west wing universe. he's young, of a minority race, has 2 young children, a lovely wife, and is a man of utmost integrity, intellect, poise and soaring oratory. sounds familiar? even his chief of staff josh lyman was inspired by obama's chief of staff rahm emmanuel. the same send-a-dead-fish-to-a-senator story made it into the west wing universe.

there has been so much anticipation and expectation for obama's first 100 days in office. personally i'm waiting for him to step onto the shores of singapore for APEC. and watching for his decisions on combating climate change, the economy, the middle east crisis and the touchy relations with china. and seeing how the new secretary of state hillary clinton manages her demanding job.

watch one of the most significant and amazing milestones being written during our time - a young black man as president of the US.

happy inauguration. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

a father's love.

i was very moved when i read this open letter from president-elect obama to his daughters.

Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have. But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the beauty of music.

Stars frontman Torquil Campbell blowing a stream of rose petals
photo credit: samuel he

the concert was good! i have a lot to say about the not-so-suitable venue of esplanade concert hall, the very poor lighting design and execution and a little off-pitch singing for the 1st song. but all is well and redeemed by the band's amazing talent, synergy and charisma.

if anyone's interested,

STARS live in singapore!

1. The night starts here
2. take me to the riot
3. soft revy
4. window bird
5. snowman
6. reunion
7. bitches in tokyo
8. going going gone
9. look up
10. ageless beauty
11. midnight coward
12. a thread cut with a carving knife
13. undertow
14. trying to say
15. elevator love song
16. your ex-lover is dead

17. happy birthday to guitar player
18. set yourself
19. my favourite book
20. calendar girl
21. one more night

so all in all, great gig. music always gets to me.

just a few days ago i was reminded by an article i came across on huffpost last year. one on joshua bell, celebrated violinist prodigy and virtuoso, who wore a baseball cap and played his almost-4-million-dollar violin in a busy washington DC metro station. over 1000 people walked past this guy who sells out concerts at US$100 per seat, and only 7 people stopped to listen, and only 1 recognized him.

this article by washingtonpost columnist later went on to win a pulitzer prize, and the article can be found here.

i have a habit of stopping to listen to buskers if they are so good that they catch my attention. i give money if they are truly talented, even in singapore. when i travel, i like to video good buskers and grab their myspace URLs and whatnots. even when i don't understand what they're singing (case in point, this great guitar-strumming energetic duo my sis and i spotted in kyoto. well they are cute japanese boys, so that's a plus).

but i admit that i'm biased, my sister too. i guess the reason why our ears are more attuned to music is 'cos of our training in classical music. now, we are so thankful to have finished our music education (no more scales and sightreading!), and thankful that we have received that education 'cos it has made my life a more beautiful one.

the washingtonpost columnist brings up several issues from this little experiment (and that's why its so brilliant that it won a pulitzer prize). such as is beauty beautiful if no one notices and appreciates. and is beauty only beautiful in one context and not another? people dismissed joshua bell and looked over his amazing performance because he was busking in a subway station and they were all rushing for time. an example he mentioned was to take a $5million painting out of a museum and into a restaurant, and no one would notice its true value.

well as you can see, my thoughts are swirling about as i listen to bell's performances of my favorite classical pieces. and it's late so i shall save this for another time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


just came across these words said by the president-elect. and it's really heartening and amazing to hear words like these from a man.

Describing Michelle as "alluring" and with "a strong personality," the future President says, "if you look deep into her eyes, there’s a certain vulnerability. In any case, I see it even if most don’t realize it: she goes through life tall, beautiful, confident, very able…There’s a part of her that is fragile, young, sometimes scared, and I think these are contradictions that attracted me to her. And she makes me very happy. She is very familiar to me and so I can be myself around her, she knows me well, I completely trust her, but at the same time in certain respects she remains a mystery to me."

"Sometimes, when we’re lying together," he says, "I look at her and I feel dizzy with the realization that here is another distinct person from me, who has memories, origins, thoughts, feelings that are different from my own. That tension between familiarity and mystery meshes something strong between us. Even if one builds a life together based on trust, attentiveness and mutual support, I think that’s it’s important that a partner continues to surprise."
i wonder if singapore men are capable of such emotions. i fervently hope so. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

snap out of it!

the original starbucks outlet at pike place
seattle, WA

today i headed to tampines mall in the sweltering heat, picking up tickets for STARS concert tmr, purple heels from mango sale, and a starbucks toffee nut latte to combat the sleepiness in preparation for my afternoon of doing assignments.

at starbucks, i stopped to smell the aroma of the coffee beans, and chanced upon a little label on the back of the vanilla syrup bottle, with the all too familiar seattle address. ah. these are the little things that brings back memories.

so as i walked out with my cup of latte, i'm reminded of those days, sipping a starbucks in the dead of winter, the sun shining brightly. only now, the sun shines and it's unbearingly hot.

i'm having trouble snapping out of the holiday mood. the sleeping in (which sadly is no longer possible), the worry-free afternoons of lazing with a cup of tea and a good book, the dvd marathons, the sundays at church for concert rehearsals.

it's the start of a new year, and i haven't snapped into 2009 yet. think i'll need a few more days.