Sunday, November 21, 2010


I've decided that I've done enough talking, and need to do more doing.

So I've started a little something. Something I should've started a long time ago. This, is

It is my stab at superstardom. Or failing that, stardom. Or failing that, something that resembles what you would call a career.

As you would've read from my previous post,
I love photography. It is inevitable that I do. I have loved it since before I even knew that one could make money out of it (other than to take passport photos at your local photo developing studio).

And now, I love it so much that I've decided to make something out of it. If I could.

You see, it is really easy to just talk. By that, I mean criticizing someone else's work. Or saying something like "I could do that too, what's so great?"

I am guilty of doing it all the time.

I'm not sure if it's just me who has this sort of competitiveness within me, but as I grow older, I understand that it's to do with ego.

That's right, put it in a good way, it is competitiveness, meaning that you have the will to succeed. Not so good way? I'm a freaking jerk who doesn't know to appreciate the effort that goes into a piece of work.

It couldn't be more obviously pointed out to me the other day.

I went for the Myer Annual General Meeting (AGM) the other day. Besides being really excited that I could meet Jennifer Hawkins (no, I didn't - she wasn't there), I thought the whole AGM was rather flashy and entertaining. And this is compared to the last one I went to which was for Asciano.

After coming back from the meeting, I pointed out the beautiful cover of the Myer 2010 Annual Report to my GM of Marketing. It has this simple, graphical black and white photo of the store front.

GM remarked that it's really beautifully shot, and that it must be hard to get that shot. And then I said, "Yeah, it's beautiful, but not that hard."

Uh-oh. I realised I was being a smart arse already.

GM raised his brow, and said, "Ah, not hard eh? I'm gonna give you hundred bucks if you could get this shot, or something better than that."

No worries, I think I could just be able to.

That is, until I walked to Myer that evening and checked out how I could get that shot.

If you realise, the shot was taken from a higher angle. Which means I had to get to a higher building opposite Myer to get that shot. When I looked at what buildings I could use, I saw only one which was possible. The rest were all two-level shoplots. Only this one had 5 levels.


If I were to really get that shot, I will need to get permission from the building owners, and I will need to set up at night, and try to capture a shot where there were lights coming out from inside. And the windows better be free of any decorations now because they just opened the atrium. The photographer probably got the shot when it was empty before they opened it. SO the end effect is simple and beautiful.

This really taught me a lesson to learn to appreciate an artists work. Be they photographers, visual artists, painters, whatever.

And not to be a smart arse.

Another thing for anyone to ask themselves before criticizing anyone's work is, "Would you have thought of shooting it like that, too? If you think you do, what do you have to show for it?"

If the answer was "No" and "Nothing", then you'd better be shutting your face.

Anyway, I do hope you'll enjoy some of my work I put up at my new website. Do leave a comment there so I'll know that at least someone is reading it. Lol.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I wish someone told me this, too.

I remember being really fascinated with my dad's old mechanical rangefinder. I must have been five or something. Perhaps it has to do with being a boy after all, cause I remember that I kept on cocking the shutter and firing it over and over again, studying the mechanics of each and every part of the camera.

Robert Capa, The Falling Soldier

Sometimes I'm looking into the viewfinder, playing pretend that I was taking a snapshot of something, anything, as I whiled away those long lazy weekday afternoons in my grandma's house in Taman Midah. (Because it's a rangefinder, it had a lens which focuses - how fascinating!)

Sometimes I'm peering right into the lens from the front, trying to see what happened when I fired the shutter. And more often than not, I opened the back of the camera to see how it all works, poking my little fingers here, there, everywhere there're moving parts. I would wiggle my finger into the centre of the shutter and let the diaphragms of the shutter close on it! (Gasp! - if Dad knew, he'd kill me.)

Henri Cartier Bresson, Behind the Gare St. Lazare

At the end of its life, I remember the cheap orange plastic cover on the shutter was well-worn to the point that you're actually just pressing a piece of metal the width of a clip. But hey, at least it was well worth its weight in gold having provided a five-year old with countless hours of wonder, eh?

My fascination didn't end there. Many a times I found myself behind a point-and-shoot camera, entrusted by the adults in the room (or whole dinner banquets) to be the photographer. Many a times, I've climbed up onto chairs or slid down onto the floor to "cover a shot". Many a times, I've been asked to help load up a new roll of film.

And I often wondered to myself then -

What was so difficult about taking a picture?

How come the adults can't just seem to grasp the simple concept of holding it still, and peering into the viewfinder, examining each side and corners to see what you're covering to compose?

Don't they know that you should actually press the shutter down halfway first to focus, even on a cheap point-and-shoot?

And what was so hard about loading a roll of film?"

Perhaps I've got a bit of a talent for it (or I thought I did anyway). Nevertheless, I didn't pursue this passion any further until we had photography classes during my college years. With the transition to digital cameras then (a whopping 1.6 megapixels!), film cameras were on the brink of getting obsolete.

Much like what still happens to amateurs all over the world today, a friend who bought an SLR (and didn't spend little on it) lost interest and wanted to get rid of it to buy a compact digicam. So for a mere RM500, I got myself a beginner's film SLR. A Canon 500N, if I remember correctly.

And I then found myself being able to do what the 'pros' do - shallow depth of field. I would make shallow depth of field in every picture. Even when the picture doesn't justify it. Even when you needed more details in the background. Even on boring subjects like a stick of Chapstick on a table smack right in the middle of the picture.

It was so bad, my own pictures bore me.

I thought I had talent. Surely, with an SLR, I should be getting better? Yet, I was worse off.

And it couldn't get more obvious when I had a chance to go to HK back in my uni days. I snapped away a few rolls of film. When I had them developed, nothing stood out. Nothing.

Sure, there was a pic of the HK night lights with long exposure taken with a tripod which wasn't too bad. But you could just as well bought a postcard shot by a pro which looks at least 10 times more amazing.

"So what was the point then?" I asked myself. I don't have the money for the equipment that the pros use, so how could I ever be as good?

And so I gave up. The SLR was relegated to back of a cupboard.

What opened my eyes later when I got to join a photography class as an elective in the final semester at RMIT.

They didn't teach me how to use a camera. They didn't talk much about apertures and shutter speeds. Didn't bring up anything about lenses or f-stops either.

Instead, we were taught about Henri Cartier Bresson. Robert Capa. Ansel Adams. Arnold Newman. Dorothea Lange. Martin Munkacsi.

Arnold Newman, Igor Stravinski

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Woman

Martin Munkacsi, Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika

If you fail to appreciate great photos, how would you know if you had taken a good one?

You see, photography isn't about shallow depth of fields. Or the sharpness of a picture. Or what is currently now very trendy, lo-fi, overly blue/green/yellow colours.

Photography is a form of visual art. And as with art, it should have a purpose. And that purpose is to be conveyed within that 4 x 6 inch box (or whatever formats you're shooting in).

Is it to evoke a certain feeling? Is there a story about the person that you're telling? It is to awe your viewer with beauty? Is it to surprise with a point of view never before imagined? Is it to capture a moment for eternity, in Bresson's words - "the decisive moment''?

Pay attention to the form in your picture. To the lines and textures you're capturing. To the balance of objects within that 2D image. Note your framing. What are you leaving out of the picture? What are you leaving in? How "interesting" in this story you're about to capture? (Aptly, Flickr features photos based on "interestingness".)

That is why Bresson calls it "the decisive moment". Because in that one small instant when you release the shutter, you're making an informed decision about all these things in your mind.

If you're not thinking about all these things, you're just, in Ken Rockwell's words, "spraying and praying" - i.e. hoping for Lady Luck to be on your side and strike out with a somewhat good picture.

The camera is just the means to an end. It merely helps you create a great picture. It is never about the latest dSLR or the most expensive lenses (Bresson shot with one Leica all his life just because it was small enough for his purpose.)

I'm not saying that after I knew all this, I became a really good photographer. I'm saying that it is because I didn't know all this, that my interest in photography plateaued. Just like a lot of amateurs whose interest fizzle out and then leave their expensive SLRs to rot behind the cupboard.

I didn't get as good as I wish to be or I know I could be, and that's what frustrates me. I've quit once before because I didn't want to settle for mediocrity.

"Very Average Jeremy". Not too bad, but never great. Merely average.

Life's too short to spend it not trying to achieve greatness, don't you think?

So what would it take to become a great photographer?


"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And you taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get pass this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take a while. It's normal to take a while. You've just gotta fight your way through."

Ira Glass (via Rabbit Write's interview on Gala Darling)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Smoking – A message to my little sister.

1) It's not cool if everyone else is doing it. Cos it means you're just like everyone else?

2) It's even less cool if everyone else/your friends are not doing it, and you're the only dumb one to be inhaling smoke/CO2 into your lungs.

3) It takes 15 years for your lungs to get back to the condition it was before you start smoking. FIFTEEN years.

4) If you take up smoking, you WILL get addicted. That's just what nicotine does. Simple fact.

5) It is really pathetic when you're addicted, because then, you are controlled by a stick of dried leaves. That's basically what a cigarette is. A stick of dried leaves.

6) That said, did you realise that smokers always say, "Oh my god, I NEED a cigarette right now..." or "MUST smoke right now...!"? Erm... so you can't even stand not to smoke for a few hours? And a stick of dried leaves controls you? Sounds pathetic to me.

7) Ever noticed that after you smoke, your heart beats much faster? Another simple fact: smoking causes heart disease.

8) Yellow teeth. Can you imagine being embarrassed to smile sometime in the future?

9) You always have to be conscious of your breath, careful not to be talking too close to someone's face. Cos it stinks. And you know it.

10) Your fingers stink. And it's hard to wash off the smell, even when you try to use fragranced hand soaps. If you think about it, your fingers aren't even inhaling the smoke, merely holding the cigarette. Imagine what's in your lungs?

11) You might not realise it, but after a smoke when you walk into a room, EVERYONE else in the room smells your stink.

12) Bad skin. Skin looks dull and lifeless when you smoke.

13) Can't get more obvious when you ask a smoker to run for 10, no, even 5 minutes. Imagine if you need to run for 50 metres just to catch a bus and can't even catch your breath afterwards. Imagine not being able to enjoy the simple joy of exercising.

14) Smoking doesn't release stress. Your heart beats faster after smoking, how does that release stress?

15) Worst is when I see couples smoking. Cause I know they're thinking that just because they both smoke, it's an activity they can share in and thus, be more Acceptable to each other. But if you really love someone, don't you want to spend a longer life with him/her?

I could keep going. And I haven't even gone into the details of the various chemicals you inhale and the list of diseases linked to smoking. I don't have to because if you wanted to find out, you have the internet.

I just want you to know that I do not wish for my little sister to pick up a habit that changes who she really is. Because I believe that people shouldn't grow up to be someone else. But grow up to be better versions of themselves. And you are better than those who succumb to peer pressure/boyfriend pressure in order to fit in.

I have always believed that you are smart beyond your years, with the capacity to think for yourself much better than I did at your age. I still do. And I have absolute confidence in your ability to make the right choice for yourself.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Year in Retrosoundspect

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm walking on the street and some familiar scent wafts by and tickles the millions of sensory nerves in my nose (the ones that survived the 2-3 years of constant poisoning anyway), it can evoke a flood of nostalgic feelings.

Sometimes, it makes me think of a certain person. Like how a certain pungent, bitterish perfume reminds me of my Hongkie ex-girlfriend and the time spent at her apartment on Market Place that overlooks the Yarra River and Crown Casino. Sometimes, I could relate it back to a VERY specific memory. KLCC has a special scent that reminds me of alighting from the LRT when I was 16, putting my hand on the waist of my first girlfriend as I stood behind her, staring down at her brown loafers, then her long, slim legs, and (but of course) her cute ass clad in navy blue short pants. Sometimes, it is just a general hazy feeling. For example, a scent might just make me happy for no definable, specific reason, unrelated to whatever current situation I am in.

Music does the same to me. Like how “Baby can I hold you tonight” (the Boyzone version, hey it was the nineties) reminds me of first love because my first girlfriend gave me that singles CD. Its case was slimline, unlike the usual covers, and contained in it was the CD with the most beautiful pastel-ly, baby blue colour design. I even remember that at four corners of the case surrounding the CD was cut-out pinkish-red, reflective little hearts, stuck on with folded over cellophane tapes.

“I’ll be missing you” by P. Diddy brings me back to the exact moment on the beach during my first Perhentian trip with SW, Jasmine, and Ex Gf. It was after dinner, and we were just sitting on the lazy chairs, gazing out to the sea, sometimes at the stars. I remember the slightly cool powder sand between my toes, so comfortable that I just kept burrowing my feet in it. And Ex Gf played this song on her phone’s speakers. I remember feeling really glad to be in that moment, albeit tinged with slight sadness that we had to leave the next day. Funny how things turn out just a few years down the road as both couples are not together anymore.

And one of the first memorable moments inextricably linked to “A Beautiful Mess” by Jason Mraz is that car ride back to the McCann office after lunch with a colleague asleep in the backseat, and another beside me telling me about leaving back to her hometown. I remember sending her an sms about her “wardrobe” that night, hoping that she wouldn’t. In the car, I remember turning up the volume, us not talking but just listening, and at the end of the song how she remarked with an almost sigh of joy, “I love this song.” “Me too,” I replied.

The thing is, to me, these sensory triggers mark time. It’s like a time machine that lets me travel to the past and relive those memories. I might have to think hard if you ask me what I had for dinner yesterday. I might not remember to get some milk even if you just called me ten minutes ago reminding me to. But those memories and how I felt EXACTLY in those moments of my life I will never forget.

Like what I tried to do in the last few paragraphs, it is actually difficult to really express and explain how I felt. There’s only so much you can “get me”, no matter how close a friend you are, or how empathetic you can be. I think that perhaps by sharing with you those very same sensory triggers, you can “get me” just that little bit more. A bridge between souls, if you like. And since I can’t send you scents, here’s a list of tunes that marked the highs and lows of 2009 for me, in (somewhat) chronological order.

Song: Stay
Artist: Estrella
Album: Estrella

This was before I left for Melbourne, having just quit my job and serving my resignation notice till the end of January 2009. It was a time of mixed feelings; one part excitement, two parts worry, the rest – well, I didn’t know what to feel. There was a lot of running around back to McCann to settle my outstanding pay, to the tax office to submit tax returns, and to the shops to get everything I need before I go. Next thing I know, I was on an Air Asia flight to Melbourne. I could swear to you that even as I was sitting in the plane, I couldn’t believe what was happening. It all seemed surreal. The change from the many late nights at Wisma LYL and weekends mostly at One U or Sg Wang, to that very moment in the flight where I had to eat the International Meal which I pre-ordered (sucked big time).

Song: Viva la Vida
Artist: Coldplay
Album: Viva la Vida

Melbourne has a distinctive scent, too. It is a very fresh scent. Maybe it’s the eucalyptus, or it’s just Melbourne Airport’s fragrance system, but I can smell it once I touched down even as I’m going through the immigration (and every season’s distinctly different!). It was great to be back. Sure, I missed my family and friends. But right then, I was looking forward to starting afresh. To the bells of Viva la Vida, I felt pumped, ready to conquer the world.

And so I settled down. Nothing much seemed to have changed. Aunt’s house is almost exactly the same. And the shop’s signboards too, albeit a bit discoloured because of the harsh Australian sun. I took my time to meet friends who are here, being in no hurry at all. I seemed contented to just stay at home everyday, wake up late at around 11 plus, have a Nutella on toast brekkie with coffee, watch the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and just chill. It was like a long-needed holiday after all the very stressful, very late nights at McCann. My body, previously always fatigued was revitalized. I felt healthier. My skin improved dramatically thanks to the amount and quality of sleep I was getting. And maybe it was the food too as I wasn’t eating out at all anymore.

I took it so easy - I didn’t even start looking for a job. But I was cocky then. I thought people’d clamour for me. That once I applied, I’d get one. “Besides,” I thought to myself, “I’ve lined up a meeting with the ECD of McCann here. For sure I’d get it.” Or so I thought. Little did I know that the Global Financial Crisis which hit the US in October 2008 was just about to affect everywhere else around the world.

Then during the end of February, grandma, who was already very sick with cancer before I left, became terminal. We all went back just to see her. To be honest, I wasn’t really sad. I was glad that her suffering came to an end. Throughout the funeral, I reminisced the times I grew up with my group of cousins in her house under her care, and we laughed, remembering what a feisty grandma she was and the little nuances that made us love her more.

Song: Human
Artist: The Killers
Album: Day & Age

Upon landing back in Melbourne, I saw a billboard that read “Always look on the Mr Brightside. Virgin Atlantic.” I remember thinking to myself, “That’s such a bad line. I know they’re trying to relate to the fact that they’re sponsoring The Killer’s upcoming concert here through one of The Killer’s best song ever. But the line doesn’t make sense at all.” A copywriter at heart, still.

I didn’t go for their concert. Dammit. It is something I’ll be kicking myself throughout the year for missing. And why did I miss it? Cause I’ve already bought tickets to Coldplay, so seeing as I was part of the “unemployed” statistics, I knew I shouldn’t be spending too much.

And that brings us to March – COLDPLAY in concert!

Song: Glass of Water
Artist: Coldplay
Album: Prospekt's March (EP)

I remember waiting at the gate since 4pm, and the gates only opened at half past six. I remember running in with Steve to secure a nice spot in the mosh (ended up in the second row from the front!). I remember the ecstasy when they played Glass of Water and Viva la Vida. I remember the hundreds of thousands of neon paper butterflies raining down from above as UV lights shined upon them while Chris Martin sang “Lovers in Japan”. I remember picking a few up, stuffing them in my back pocket, and surprising myself in the first person I thought of sending them back home to. (P.S. - I ended up not doing it. The butterflies are still in between the pages of a George Orwell.)

Song: Knocked Up
Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Because Of The Times

You know about the Renaissance Period? The Revolution? This, next up, is my Kings of Leon period. I felt invigorated, buzzing with creative energy, care-free in spirit. I felt that at last, I could do what I wanted to – leave advertising. That I could now learn something other than what I’ve been doing for the past few years, something that would give me greater satisfaction, more money, a more balanced life. Something that would require me to acquire skills which people would pay a lot more for when I’m fifty. Something to take me on an entirely different direction, a new adventure.

I could take up cooking, and start up my restaurant in the future. Why not be a graphic designer? I always knew that I have the eye for it although I lack the necessary technical skills. How bout a photographer? (P.S. The LX3 was one of the best decisions in my life.) I’d love to learn interior design, too. So many a nights when I was browsing through Apartment Therapy, Kings of Leon were plugged into my ear.

I felt liberated. And the finest rock and roll was the soundtrack of my life.

Song: Slow Night, So Long

Artist: Kings of Leon

Album: Aha Shake Heartbreak
Song: The Bucket
Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Aha Shake Heartbreak

Song: Taper Jean Girl
Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Aha Shake Heartbreak

Song: Manhattan
Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Only By The Night

In keeping with the free spirit, I was also going out on my own little adventures. One time, I went to catch “Synedoche New York”, Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut, alone at The Nova. It was then that I saw the trailer to “Where The Wild Things Are”. And this is the song used in the trailer. I was looking forward to that movie since then.

Song: Wake Up
Artist: Arcade Fire
Album: Funeral

And then this happened.

Song: World Spins Madly On
Artist: The Weepies
Album: Say I Am You

I remember bawling my eyes out as I was writing that post. It was really difficult as I tried to put it all down in one post the things that went wrong in a 3-year relationship. Thinking about how everything started so well and subsequently, how it ended up in a sorry state does that to anyone I guess.

Besides that one day, I felt numb most of the time. Many a nights were spent talking and ranting to Honey Bunny about how glad I was in knowing that I made the right decision, that I felt “light” as if a weight is lifted from my shoulders, and quickly on the next day see-sawing back to being frustrated because I do not know if I should have tried harder, or that my decision might come back and haunt me in the future.

That’s why whenever I hear that song, it’d remind me first of the breakup, and then I’d think of Honey Bunny. And how glad I am of how things worked out between us ie. how we became much closer friends.

A few other songs that defined the period of time as I wallowed in self-pity (lol):

Song: I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Artist: Death Cab Cutie
Album: Plans

Song: No One's Gonna Love You
Artist: Band of Horses
Album: Cease to Begin

So I was 26, alone, in a “foreign” country. And I was jobless in the middle of a GFC said to be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. I kept applying for jobs through Seek, and the templated rejection letters kept filling up my Gmail account. I even created a folder for all the rejection letters. It totaled 123 emails.

Outside of that 123 emails, I did get a few interviews and second interviews here and there. A wedding gown company,, some God-forsaken faraway place that sells curtains and blinds, and a hi-fi distributor. I got so good at interviewing that by the time I interviewed at my current company, I was a pro.

Still, it took three interviews for them to decide. And at the same time they offered me a job, I was also offered one by the hi-fi distributor (higher offer!). But I was really happy that I chose to go with my current co. It was one of my goals to get into a financial institution. I wanted to learn about investments, so what better place to do it than at the global office of the biggest share registry company in the world?

And so work started. The office is a fabulous place located beside Studley Park, near Collingwood Children’s Farm. Every day at work, I feel really thankful for the simple things, like being able to just go for a walk in the park after my lunch to breathe in some fresh air and feast my eyes on greeneries and hills as far as the eyes can see. Being able to step out of the office for that 30 minutes, I believe, makes me so much a happier and calmer person at work.

That’s not all, I also walk to catch public transport to get to work and back every day. I thought I’d prefer driving, but really, it is great to be able to exercise and just sit in the train doing my own thing ie. read a book, listen to music rather than to be in a jam. These few artists were on heavy rotation at that period of time. I remember how happy I felt walking to the office on early chilly mornings during late winter, earphones plugged in, in my duffel jacket.

Song: S.A.D. Light
Artist: Glasvegas
Album: Glasvegas
Song: 12:51
Artist: The Strokes
Album: Room on Fire

Song: Young Adult Friction
Artist: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Album: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Song: Sweet Disposition
Artist: The Temper Trap

Song: Skinny Love
Artist: Bon Iver
Album: For Emma, Forever Ago

Song: This Is Your Life
Artist: The Killers
Album: Day & Age

There’s something about this song. One of those chilly mornings, I remember feeling a sudden uplift as Brendan Flowers sang “Wait for something better, no one behind you, watching your shadows, you gotta be stronger than my story…” I think I just might be getting better.

Song: Arizona
Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Because Of The Times

2009 was the year I took running a little more seriously. And by that, I don’t mean that I run the full marathon. It has just become a constant pastime of mine seeing as I don’t get to play futsal every Saturday anymore. I thought Ex Gf was crazy when she first ran a 10k. And then I joined her, and was hooked.

Melbourne is really runner-friendly. You don’t have to watch out for dogs that jump out from behind a corner. There’re dedicated pavements so you don’t get run over by cars. And you can listen to your music without the fear of someone putting a knife to your neck from behind you at any moment. So I was running quite consistently, around twice a week. I charted my running route using an online website, and came to run 11k in sub-1 hour’s time. Most of the time, what I look forward to is the 40-50 minute mark – ecstasy. The release of endorphins - the happy hormones in your brain. That, and every time after I run, a great sense of achievement. Whatever happened in the real world; joblessness, money matters, loneliness, etc. all doesn’t seem to matter. If I can run 11k in sub-1 hour, I can do anything. Or so the motivational thoughts go.

From when the months started getting cooler in autumn as the leaves brown, to chilling winter when I had to run with a jacket on and blow my nose every once in a while (love winter running!) to getting back a bit warmer now in the early summer. Every time I look up when I run, I see hills, trees, birds, the magic hour of dusk, and I feel grateful to be where I am.

Till then, I thought that people who ran the 20k were crazy. That’s until October came when I ran the Half Melbourne Marathon (21k). And I did much better than I expected.

Kings of Leon, all the three albums I have in my little iPod Shuffle are constant running songs. Pumps me up every time.

Unabashedly a Grey’s Anatomy fan, I was very anxious about how Season 6 would start after that cliff-hangery hell of a finale Season 5 episode. Alas, it was in the gossip section in the news that John Doe would die, and Izzie would live. Nevertheless, I love the trailer which Channel 7 did using this song. It showed scenes of doctors using the defibrillator on Izzie. So. Freaking. Heart-wrenchingly. Sad. Emo kau-kau.

Song: Never Say Never
Artist: The Fray
Album: The Fray

Bright red posters, a human body with the head of a vulture; Them Crooker Vultures announced their upcoming concert in March 2010 as rock’s new supergroup debuts with a killer album. It heralded the coming of Summer. When you can satisfy that unexplainable craving to feel some warmth of the sun on your skin. When the day’s loooooong so you can do so much more. When beer’s the choice of beverage on too-hot arvos. When windows are down as you hand surf the wind on a roadtrip to somewhere, anywhere.

Song: Mind Eraser, No Chaser
Artist: Them Crooked Vultures
Album: Them Crooked Vultures

“At 11pm at night, you wanna Be Somebody?” Honey Bunny messaged.
“No, at 11pm at night, I Want You,” I replied.
“Lol. Aww only you would play along with my silly games…”

Just a taste of how silly our conversations go.

Song: I Want You
Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Only By The Night

One night after work I was quite bored, and so went rummaging in the lounge room for some entertainment. I’ve watched The Phantom of the Opera before (the movie) back when I was a student in Melbourne in 2004, but thought I wouldn’t mind watching it again. This time, it feels different. Warmer. Sweeter. And I found myself wishing for the kind of love that they have. If I were you, I would judge me as being naïve, too, and say “That only happens in the movies lah”. But before you jump to conclusions, listen to the delivery of the song by Emmy and Patrick, how sweetly innocent and intensely beautiful. Listen closely. To the sweepingly romantic melody written by Andrew Lyodd Webber more than 20 years ago. To the lush orchestra as it rises and falls. To the promises between two, and a seemingly simple demand of love.

Song: All I Ask of You
Artists: Emmy Rossum & Patrick Ericksen
Album: Soundtrack from The Phantom of the Opera

Christmas to me has always been about the family. And so I would usually turn down invitations to countdown as I find it not just plain silly, but also meaningless. This year, not being with my family made me miss home. There’s a good side to it though. Christmas in Melbourne, perhaps because it is a western country, is more lively.

By this time, I must tell you, on top of the walking to take public transport to work, after-lunch walks and two times a week running, I was also taking 45 mins - 1 hour evening walks after the sun’s set. Summer nights are a charm as the temperature usually lowers to very comfy 15’C, its cool breeze a welcome relief.

On one particular night, I remember really enjoying the walk as I got to look at a lot of houses with all their Christmas decorations up. It was beautiful seeing the lights flickering in the dark, lighting up signs that read “Santa please stop here”, and mechanical reindeers on rooftops. That night, there happened to also be some kindergarten school Christmas performance which just ended as I was walking past the leaving crowd. Plugged into my ear was this song as I walked past smiling children still excited from the show, accompanied by their parents carrying folding chairs and picnic grub back to their cars. One mom smiled at me as she stopped her kid to let me pass. I smiled back. “Wow… it is Christmas,” I thought to myself.

Song: Starring
Artist: Freelance Whales
Album: Weathervanes

“Breakup handbook”. Apparently that’s what they dub John Mayer’s new album. First listen and I already thought it’s depressing. I mean, come on, you’ve just gotta glance at the song titles – “Heartbreak Warfare”, “Half of My Heart”, “Perfectly Lonely”??? And I didn’t need depressing. So after downloading it, it just sat there for a while. Until one night when I was walking (the music, through my in-ear Sennheisers, is really magic in the stillness of the night), I decided to give it another go.

Song: Who Says
Artist: John Mayer
Album: Battle Studies

And… it wasn’t that depressing after all. I got it all wrong. It wasn’t about how sad you should feel after a breakup. It was, instead, about feeling better, almost with a sense of defiance. About being thankful for things to have happened the way they did because if they didn’t, you wouldn’t be who you are. About being contented to be exactly where you are right now in life. About being happy to be enjoying the company of me, myself and I.

“Who says I can’t get stoned, plan a trip to Japan alone. Doesn’t matter if I even go.”

Damn right, that’s exactly what I’m thinking, Johnny boy. Not the part about Japan. But the yearning for adventures that lets me tell great stories to my children. I guess this last song wraps up the year rather nicely. I am, at the moment, perfectly lonely.

Song: Perfectly Lonely
Artist: John Mayer
Album: Battle Studies

It was a real big year, to say the least. Bad in most parts, but I appreciate 2009 nonetheless. After all, we never find out the true repercussions of current events till much later down the road. To be cliché, it was a real roller coaster ride.

Loss of family. Loss of love. Possible false starts turned dead ends. Frustration from rejections. Crushing of self-esteem/confidence. Joy in finding a budding career. New mates. New adventures. Newfound optimism.

I’ve never really made any new year's resolutions before in my life. Perhaps it’s got to do with getting old, you think? Anyway, I have just this one.

Carpe Diem.

To seize the day. To waste not a single moment. This year, I’m going to be very stingy with my time. Even if it means choosing to reject a social invitation just to stay at home. Or deciding to leave a party before it ends. Or making myself go to bed earlier instead of being cordial on MSN. I owe it to myself to spend my time wisely.

Thank you for making it to the end of this very long post. (Did you think it was time well spent? Lol.) It wasn’t all for nothing though. Here’s what I have for you; If you could read such a long post, you could do anything in 2010. Make it good. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Arty-farty Street

Also known as Brunswick. Where indie-ness rules, and you're 15 points cooler if your parents used to be hippies back in the 70s.

Atomica Cafe. CoffeeMe app rates it 2 1/2 beans ie. You'd-still-be-thinking-about-it-for-weeks-coffee. It is true.

Somewhat Christmassy?

Little Creatures. Beer so good, I'd die for another one. They have so many on tap, I don't know how many times I'll have to die.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jeremy says...

This is what you should be listening to. And so you should.

Mind you, I've never bought an album for a very long time. But after listening to just two songs from them which I got my hands on a few months ago, I just HAD to buy their album. (Coming from a true believer of "the Internet" ie. free music, that's saying something.)

Plus, boss gave me a $20 iTunes gift card. I reckon I've put $16.99 of it to best use possible, seeing as they're (still) so obscure that you can't even get the album at the record stores here.

So good. So, so good. Apparently, they're a bunch of buskers in NYC. And I think they're just on the brink of getting famous.

Hope I'll get to catch them doing a live show next year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It'll be LEGEN-wait for it-DARY!

NY for NYE 2011/2012. And we'll be there for Christmas and the whole Radio City Christmas Show she-bang too yeah?

So we'll need a list. One which we'll keep adding to till next year.

1. Katz Delicatessen.

You're "it"!

"Remember when Ben & Ade got hitched?"

When you are single, somehow, you find that you have a lot more time on your hands.

Weekends are spent doing the things you, as a single person, loves. To me, it's visiting the art galleries (for free, of course), or prowling the streets of Melbourne armed with my trusty LX3 (also free). If the weather permits, perhaps a beer with a fish and chips lunch in the spring/summer sun. And I'm happy as a bee with a pot of honey. You didn't have to plan for two. You didn't have to compromise. You just, do. Whatever you want.

And birthdays, well, birthdays are mostly quiet dinners with friends and family. Not that there's anything wrong with that. They are, after all, the constants in your life. There's just no romantic dinner followed by a "big" gift anymore.

But it's okay, you know. Read SW's Top 10 Reasons to Stay Single. I dare say most of it is true. Reason #1 is #1 for a good reason.


No.1 - You Learn What You Need From A Relationship

Being single offers one final advantage that doesn’t get talked about much. Couples deny it and single people themselves rarely realize it. But the fact is, being alone is an incredible opportunity to learn about yourself. In fact, I posit that the longer you’re single before getting married, the better off you’ll be, because only single people truly know what makes them happy. Unless you’ve spent years drinking your inhibitions away, putting yourself out there, experiencing the thrill of one-night stands, and coping with the agony of rejection, how can you really know yourself? Playing the field is merely doing due diligence while having a blast to boot. More importantly, what fun is married life if you don’t have any high jinks to reminisce about? Waking up next to your wife every morning must be twice as reassuring after you’ve spent 10 years waking up next to chicks you have had to introduce yourself to.


Relationships shouldn't make you a shadow of your previous self. Instead, it should enrich. Make you better. Complement you. Like best friends do. In fact, relationships should all start out as great friendships.

If you could find someone you know you would have a hell of an adventure with, you know you're on to something good. And I didn't mean that figuratively. I meant that literally. Like a real adventure/trip that would be filled with lots of fun (thanks to a same sense of humour), spontaneity, and equal open-mindedness to new experiences. Not to mention the opportunity to see the bad side of each other ie. grumpiness, impatience and yet, can still stand each other.

I'm in no hurry, but I do wish I find that someone, someday. At the meantime, I'll just indulge in feeling envious of couples who found their adventure partner. Couples who become so much more together .

Marshall and Lily from "How I Met Your Mother" is one such couple. (They even have a wedding website!) Fictional, I know. But exemplary of how couplehood should be. At least, unlike what you see in Korean/Hong Kong dramas, the stories they have are more real. In fact, great stories from many adventures are what we all should have.

And my friends Ben and Ade, is another such couple. The kind which you just know that they're just gonna be so good together. The kind of relationship you wish with all your heart that you can have.

I wish you both enough happiness to last a lifetime. And that you'll both have great stories to tell in the future.

I'm glad to have been a part of this special day of yours. And hopefully I'll be in one of those stories that start with "Remember when Ben and Ade got hitched?"