Friday, July 30, 2010

tumblr(ing) down the rabbit hole.

a cleaner interface. convenient posting on iphone and chrome toolbar extension.

i like.

Monday, June 7, 2010

nostalgic about the needle.

the seattle skyline
as seen from a ferryboat on puget sound

suddenly, i get hit with a wave of nostalgia.

and i'm yearning to head overseas to study again. contemplating a liberal arts program.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

at the end of all things good,

the holidays are here and i finally have time to come here. my sanctuary.

the last 10 weeks have been kind of crazy. sometimes, i enjoy my work and the people i get to work with (students and colleagues alike) so much that i forget that it's not always a bed of roses. the stresses of working, the burden that i carry whenever i get reminded that my work deals with the lives of young people, that nagging need to strive for perfection and acceptance, that want to bring glory to the Lord and live my life as a testimony to the grace that i've been given.

sometimes, i'm glad i have a (physical) place to turn to in the middle of the work day. to reflect. think. cry out. pray. whenever a silly mistake was made. whenever big mistakes were made. whenever.


watching the whole slew of season and series finales the past few weeks to destress from work. thankful. 4 outstanding finales ought to be mentioned here.

1. house - just because it was shot entirely with a DSLR in HD. the canon 5d mkII was used, together with a mix of canon primes (i suspect they are below f1.4) and zeiss zooms (24-70mm, 70-200mm, if memory serves me well). the result was no different from the regular tv shows, but with an added bonus. the tremendous f-stops used ensured amazing an array of depths of field. and even though some scenes may seem out of focus, it fit into the storyline well. and did i mention cuddy and house are finally trying to make it work? :)

2. flashforward - went out with a cliffhanger-open-to-interpretation. the practicalities and business of broadcast media in america led to the axing of a once-promising show. and i'm still quite sad. the show was bouncing back from a few episodes of bad writing and script, but got axed way too soon. farewell flashforward.

3. lost - went out with a poignant smile, fully redeemed. in the end, the important questions were answered. the flash-sideways world was explained. our characters got the redemption they needed. and they moved on, together, to whatever comes after.

after all the adventure, mythology, spirituality, science, faith, philosophy, history, and the countless lessons and knowledge i've picked up watching the series, there are no regrets, no yearning for more (like i usually do with series finales), no burning questions (just a few small ones to satisfy my science brain), but just a quiet, poignant smile as jack closed his eyes and step into the light.

it also reminds me of being redeemed by the blood of Christ, reconciled with God, justified by faith, and the life in Heaven that awaits after we are done in this life. i used to struggle with the reality of a Heavenly Kingdom where there are no tears and sorrow, no sadness and fears. but God, sitting on His throne, where the angels sing and i can find rest for all eternity. though i still struggle with this sometimes (thanks to my science brain), i'm glad for a tv show that can remind me of this fact.

4. grey's anatomy - the season finale left me at the edge of my seat as charles, alex and derek lay dying and a grieving man who lost his wife went on a 2-hr (unrealistic, yes. pumps up the drama equation, yes.) shooting rampage in the hospital before committing suicide.

after i finished the show and started to think about what i saw, i got these flashbacks to the time where i was on exchange in the US. sitting in my poli-sci class, reading breaking news off my classmate's laptops about a shooting that happened on campus. MY campus. and i was ON campus, not at home. without details, my mind started to go crazy. is the gun man still going around shooting people? is he going to walk into my classroom with that loaded gun? it was a crazy time and i hardly paid attention. when i finally got hold of the details, the gun man had shot himself after he shot his ex-girlfriend in the chest 5 times, an ex-girlfriend he had been stalking. i'll never forget those crazy minutes (40 or so minutes) of fearing for my life.

and a few weeks later, the virginia tech massacre happened across the country i was in. my nightmare. and it is a sobering wakeup call for america to rethink its gun and ammunition laws. and it's also a gentle prod to be thankful for singapore.

ETA: i'm shaking my head as i type this after i saw a CNN breaking news tweet about a man going on a shooting rampage in the cumbria region of the UK, killing 12 people. they just found the shooter's body. cumbria is the region where lake district is, a beautiful place i visited last year. it's unthinkable. seriously.

one more thing that caught my attention in the grey's finale. the shooter asked the people he met whether or not they were surgeons. if the answer is yes, he shoots. this closely mirrors the rumors that surfaced during the aftermath of the columbine shootings, that the shooters asked the people if they believed in God, and if yes, they shoot. the rumors proved to not be true.

however, i thought about if it were true, how do people face such situations with the tremendous amount of courage that is needed. would we all respond like how Peter did, bearing in mind that a positive response would mean suffering, pain and death. or would we stand up for our faith and take the bullet, like so many disciples and apostles and servants of God today did? would we have that courage?


and yet i know, there is still hope in prayer as i grow in my faith. as we studied from the book of Jeremiah during YAG retreat, i can't help but change my mind about Jeremiah. i used to think he was really whiny and emo (esp. after studying the book of Lamentations).

but looking at things from a bigger perspective, i can see why the tears came as he prayed. his people were deliberately rebelling against God and not heeding his advice or warnings. Judah was suffering and yet Jeremiah's words fell on deaf ears. what was so outstanding about Jeremiah was how faithful and persevering he was as he served God. despite all that he went through, he still remained a faithful servant, and he constantly went back to God in prayer. that, to me, was really special. and inspiring.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

ohhh work. bummer.

i'm constantly reminded that i have been neglecting this space, and penning less thoughts here. i still have the kings of convenience concert to archive. tomorrow, i head to esplanade theater to catch 'the tempest', this year's bridge project installment. and that will, hopefully, be followed by a good review (much like last year's 'the winter's tale'). and again, that reminds me, i didn't review the 2nd play of the bridge project's double-bill - chekov's 'the cherry orchard' after i saw it in london.

HOKAY. so easter came and went. i promise, i promise i will pen my thoughts down (here or elsewhere). the easter musical, again, moved me so much with its narrative and songs. it's just so amazing how songs, lyrics and music can move people and stir emotions.

finally bought my air tickets to zurich, which is my connecting city to scandinavia. quite a good bargain i must say - $1.6k return on the singapore airlines A380. now it's about finding my other flights, trains and cruises, plus excursions to neighbouring towns and norwegian fjords.

going on this trip means forgoing a study trip to hokkaido with science teachers association of singapore, which is totally expensive, but totally interesting. but to console myself, scandinavia is a pretty good thing too, plus i get to go for my singapore arts fest concerts and dances (yay joshua bell).

i'm being super tied down by work and more admin sai gang. but the Lord graciously gives me strength that is renewed with each new day. :) more to come.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


cherry blossoms at the UW campus
april 2007
seattle, washington

it's the time of the year where the cherry blossoms bloom everywhere. here a different species bloom, and though they aren't the sakura, they are beautiful nonetheless.

today i drove along bedok road on my way home (after detouring to get starbucks), and was so amazed to see the entire road lined with cherry blossom petals that fell during the rain.

i'm reminded of 2 things. how much i miss seattle, and how beautiful God's creations are. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

i know i owe Him everything.

the 4 most powerful lines this easter musical that moves my sinful heart everytime i sing it and hear it.

how could i know the mystery of grace /
how love could hold Him there, dying in my place /
but everytime i see those labored footsteps, all His suffering /
i know i owe Him everything.

what power. what sacrifice. what love.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Be still.

University of Washington campus
Seattle, WA
Spring 2007

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side. 
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

leave to your God to order and provide;

in every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

The soul is weary. Desperate for a place to hide and rest in His grace.

Monday, February 8, 2010

muse-zik - the best rock gig ever.

so one week after andrew bird at esplanade, i attended 2 more gigs. prior to gig #1, i've ranked coldplay's viva gig to be at the top of my best live gigs ever attended for rock bands. but muse really blew me away, in the most simple form, without gimmicks, small talk and expensive stage production.

the concert was big night out - headlined by muse and supported by saosin and rise against. saosin was the weaker of the 2. lead singer did not have the presence, voice and banter skills yet. the band wasn't in sync with the (some) of the audience. but rise against was surprisingly good. good lead singer, tight band, great songs.

by the time muse took the stage, it was 10pm and everyone perked up immediately and started getting high. my concert buddies, zeh, special J and i (guest appearances by lester and bangjie) were squashed in the middle of the mosh pit among tall people. sigh. but the feeling you get in the pit is different from the sides of the indoor stadium. though tiring, it was exhilarating to rock it out and headbang and dance with fellow moshers.

we predicted the opening song correctly - uprising. but we thought supermassive black hole is gonna be an encore piece, and it ended up as the second song. props to the band for being unpredictable. and even more unpredictable was the good portion of the songs from the 1st 3 albums - showbiz, origin of symmetry and absolution!

words really fail to describe how good muse is live. matt's pitch-perfect voice and his amazing falsetto range (according to muse wiki, reaches A5, which is my top note as well), his bling guitar with the electronic panel and nimble fingers on the guitar riffs, his pretty white upright piano and his nimble fingers again! dom has rocket science precision on the drums and he is a jaw-droppingly good drummer. chris on the bass and backing vocals harmonizes well with matt and his bass lines makes my heart pound with joy. :) the 3 of them are so in sync and so tight, you would think that some of the parts are recorded.

more highlights
map of the problematique was AMAZING. the energy was peaking with SMBH just before MOTP, and it just popped.
sunburn was played on the piano! (and i only saw what happened on youtube)
undisclosed desires, my favorite from the resistance, where i danced along to the awesome song and under the green lights around the stadium.
the singalongs to SMBH, starlight, and well everything else.
MK ultra, again, AMAZING.
closing the encores with a suprising choice - knights of cydonia. something i never expected, but worked out so well. with the visuals at the backdrop and the deafening singalong.

Muse Live in Singapore!
Big Night Out
3rd February 2010

Supermassive Black Hole
Map of the Problematique
Stockholm Syndrome
United States of Eurasia
Helsinki Jam
Undisclosed Desires
MK Ultra
Time is Running Out
Unnatural Selection


Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 1: Overture
Plug In Baby
Knights of Cydonia

J and i had an extensive discussion in the car about what makes muse so amazing. and as i think about the band, it's really about the music. lyrics, not so much - but credit must be given to them too, for socially conscious and politics-infused lyrics and emo songs (without being overbearing and annoying).

but the music. i've expressed appreciation for how some bands strive to better themselves and their music with each subsequent album. i know bands like maroon 5, keane don't do this. album after album, they sound the same. but bands like coldplay and muse evolve as they mature. and that's why i really love muse's latest album, the resistance. who can write, produce and do an album that has songs with middle-eastern motifs, classic rock, jazz rock, electronica AND classical music (my favorite chopin nocturne!) all thrown in, and still come out coherent and sensational?


Rise Against Live in Singapore
Big Night Out
3rd February 2010

Collapse (Post-Amerika)
Re-Education (Through Labor)
The Good Left Undone
Long Forgotten Sons
The Dirt Whispered
Audience of One
Prayer of the Refugee
Swing Life Away
Hero of War
Give It All
Ready To Fall

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

awaiting to muse.

i've so much work to do, that it'll take me awhile (hopefully not too long, lest i forget the euphoric night) to pen down my thoughts of the muse concert, the best live rock gig EVER.

and i'm still awaiting a time where i can watch the very last season premiere of Lost. and i've been conscientiously avoiding all spoilery youtube clips and reviews and recaps and tweets. heh.

and now, listening to muse at work. how else can you relive the night of spectacular, raw talent and music?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Do you wonder where the self resides?

photo // wakingupto

the genius-ness of andrew bird has left me quite contemplative after his gig at the esplanade concert hall on tuesday. going to this concert was really a leap of faith - not knowing the existence of this musical genius before the mosaic marketing bombarded my inbox with emails, thinking that maybe his music would be something i'd like, getting hold of his albums, making the decision "just heck it and buy the tix!", having his songs grow on me as i listen to them at work, and realising that andrew bird is someone you MUST hear live. the studio recordings just doesn't do his songs and the man enough justice.

so late to jump on the wagon, but i'm hooked nonetheless. without music, andrew bird is a somewhat awkward, mumbling, self-deprecating guy who shuffles his feet and avoids eye contact. on stage with the loop pedals, his amazing-sounding violin, guitar and glockenspiel, he's a different man.

andrew (ha we're on a first name basis now, considering how much his music has penetrated my life in so short a time) is the guy who has been playing the violin his whole life. i really admire his ability and talent to take his classical training and venture to a path that is so different from other classically-trained musicians. if you ask me to do something like this with my piano training - i would love to, but the talent just isn't there.

the pizzicato on the violin is amazing. how come no one ever substituted the violin for a ukelele? i'd love to have heard more of the glockenspiel, but when i hear him whistle with the glockenspiel, it sounds totally alike. which brings me to the jaw-dropping ability of his to whistle.

andrew's whistle is nothing like us ordinary folk. his whistling is loud, pitch-perfect, rhythm-perfect, great range and crystal clear. the singing is comparable to his contemporaries (whom i'll mention just a few - jeff buckley, damien rice, the mellow-er styles of jason mraz and rufus wainwright). but the multi-tasking is a sight to see.

from an audience member's point of view, andrew does it all, and he does it so effortlessly. pulling the bow on the violin, singing, hopping to the glockenspiel, stepping on the controls of the loop pedals, picking up the guitar, throwing the guitar behind his back and plucking the violin. this myriad of his tasks on stage is executed to (almost) perfection. but i can imagine it takes lots of concentration and focus to be able to pull all that off. remembering the songs, each refrain to be looped, playing them in the correct order, playing them in the correct rhythm.

it's astounding to me, and i spent the entire concert mesmerized and in awe of the music that is resonating through the halls of esplanade. very glad that the concert was held here. i've attested to the awesome acoustics of the concert hall before, and that only the best of the best musicians can sound good in this hall. true enough, andrew bird sounded brilliant for the entire 100+ minute set.

Andrew Bird - live in singapore
mosaic series by esplanade presents
26 january 2010

Happy Birthday Song
Sweet matter (Dark matter/sweetbreads)
A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
Natural Disaster
Oh No
Carrion Suite
Section 8 City
Capital I (inspired by Sesame Street)
Scythian Empires


Oh, Sister (Bob Dylan cover)
Some of These Days I'll Be Gone (Charley Patton cover)

the setlist is a good mix of songs. and i particularly enjoyed my favorites from noble beast - natural disaster and oh no. i also loved capital i, dark matter/sweet matter, why? and imitosis (yes the bio geek in me really loves this song). i was particularly captivated with dark/sweet matter (2 versions of the song), and the thought of where the soul/self resides. is it our DNA? our brain (which has white and grey matter, not dark matter)? our heart (which is red)?

but more than that, it was a delight hearing andrew mumble through some banter, including his thoughts on some of his songs. i love to hear songwriters talk about their songs during gigs. andrew is truly a gifted songwriter and musician. his creativity and innovation, so evident as he forms melodies and harmonies that loops through each stanza and chorus, adding a minor tone, embellishing it with different tonalities and sounds. the out-of-the-box use of the violin like a ukelele, the strange mix of instruments, and electronic technology has pushed the boundaries of music, and at the same time, challenged my perspectives of what beautiful music can sound like, rather than what music ought to sound like.

and andrew's songs, to me, are all his thoughts. about the people around him, the gut-wrenching emotions, the social commentary, the philosophy and existentialism, the sights and sounds. his music and lyrics surround him each and every day, and they are one and the same. and i think he becomes so wrapped up in his own music and thoughts, that when he's alone with the music, that's when he's free.