Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hacken's Happening Concert

Some snippets from the concert last Saturday at Genting.

I actually volunteered my `service' to the newspaper and got my new aunt to come with me as she's quite gamed for concerts! Well, although i'm not a fan but it's Hacken Lee's first solo concert here and I do like many of his songs!

But I had a rude shock when we were being ushered to our seats! In all my life (ok, i mean working life) of covering concerts, never have I been given worst seats than this! The two rows of media seats were right in front - but at the far corner - which means we could hardly see what's on stage and even couldn't view the screen properly! Yes, it was a full house but I think it's not right to give the media the worst leftover type of seats!

(I'm glad one of the Chinese press reporter wrote about this in her report and it prompted the organiser to call us up on Monday and today to apologise and explain - apparently they wanted to give the media the front seats but Genting had already booked up all the better seats and when they found out it was too late...)

Anyway, half the time I was sitting/squarting in the middle front with the other photographers.. and we managed to find a couple of empty seats just slightly better from the god-forsaken place we have been allocated!!

Back to the concert itself. Check out Hacken Lee's costumes!! ;) If you ask me, i think this type of glittery, showy, ala-80s costumes are out already. But somehow many HK artistes like to dress up like this! I think a few outfits Hacken wore actually make him look gay! :p hope Hacken's fans here won't kill me for criticising his sense of dressing and taste.

Hacken is quite a good singer and his soothing, mellow vocals are quite suited to interpret ballads, and ballads are indeed what he is known for! He has so many beautiful and melodious love songs from the last two decades and in the concert, many of them were presented. Oh, I particularly enjoyed the `concert hall' segment which featured violin, piano and erhu solos. Simply enchanting music..

Yep, his songs are so nice that the singer himself was totally engrossed too as he was seen closing his eyes when rendering those heart-wrenching and romantic numbers..

About 90 per cent of his songs were slow to mid tempo but there were a few upbeat songs like `Hung Yat' and `Victory' and also the World Cup (HK version) theme song and he tried to dance a little.. Quite still if u asked me! Although he didn't say much, he had a good sense of humour (probably learned it from his `Zor Lun Yau Lei' partner Alan Tam!) ;) ok, i may be bias :)

The appearance of talented singer-songwriter Ivana Wong added value to the concert. The girl with a mousy spoken voice has such an exquisite and clear voice that when she sings, it can gives you the goosebumps! I love her music and her voice!

It was amazing how popular Hacken is.. (and I thought he was slightly passe already) There was already an encore and he sang all his biggest hits. But when he said bye and went off at almost 11pm, and the lights came on and there was even the announcement that the show had ended, more than half of the audience refused to barge!! Shouts of `encore, encore' resounded until Hacken relented and came out again five minutes later.

This was definitely not planned as it was not in our run-down. And he did look a bit amused but also touched. So finally he sang two more songs ad hoc to satisfy his crazy fans..

It was an enjoyable concert despite the seating woes. Oh well, I decided to be kind and not mention it in my article BUT for once I also purposely left out the organiser's name! hah, such is the power of a pen..

Since it's the first concert at Genting for Annie, we cam-whored with Hacken's bunting outside the stadium after the concert ended... ;)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Assorted Updates

No time to write something long and structured. Need to finish concert review fast and yet to start! But guess what, blogging still preceed work!

So what has been happening in the last 4 days? A lot really.. and these are just the `highlights'
  • Have been busy with dad buying furniture for the condo that I'm re-letting out. It was in quite a bad condition after the last tenant left. So we did a bit of refurbishment - flooring, lamps, curtain etc.. and also replaced the furniture in the master bedroom.. So on Thursday we finally completed our furniture shopping! The condo should be fully ready by mid week now! :)
  • Participated in the RBC Women's Bible Conference on Friday evening and Saturday morning - and helped out in worship sessions.. Was really glad I went. It was very timely reminder on the topic of making `choiced choices' and although the messages seemed quite simple and the scriptures familiar, I believe the speaker had touched each of us with the challenging and meaningful encouragement.
  • Drove up to Genting Highland to cover Hacken Lee's concert on Sat nite and had Annie to company me. Well, am not really a fan but he has many tuneful ballads and familiar hits and also, it's his first solo concert on our soil. Will blog more about it hopefully and post pix that I took myself (kneeling on the floor!) Yep, it was very enjoyable although I won't rank him as one of the better performers. Reached home at 1:30am..
  • Ok, I guess I should mention about my on-going `activity' for a week.. It's incredible how so many of my friends managed to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in just a day or two! But I chose to read it `slowly' as I had decided.. so I can savour the book. Well, because of a busy two days I am at page 365 - the chapter on Malfroy Manor. So far it has been pretty good but I know the suspense is just building up...(will be reading more tonite)
  • Guess I should also confess how I've been more addicted to the Net these days thanks to Facebook!! Yep, its addictive, a few of my friends (you know who you are!) are also very active on it. There are many applications including games and all other fun but frivolous stuff! Anyways..it's like a form of escapism back to my teenage years that i missed out on as computer wasn't part of my life then!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jelly of Weird Taste!!

No i am not talking about the edible jelly that has gone wrong..

It's my miniature schnauzer `Jelly' - she's probably the only dog I know which actually eats oranges!!

We know she's quite a glutton. But many dogs are too.. just that although she eats about just anything.. but I didn't expect her to like sour stuff as well!

Just now i did an `experiment' as I was eating an orange. I peeled a small piece and fed it to Jojo (my golden retriever for those who don't know) . He refused to open his mouth and even retreated.. I was quite bad, I opened his mouth and put the orange in but as expected, he immediately spat it out!!

Then I went to Jelly and did the same thing.. I kinda expected her to take it (she's a glutton remember?) but what i didn't expect was that she actually chewed a bit and swallowed happily!!

Hmm.. I thought maybe she was just too hungry to realise it wasn't nice? Surely she won't take the orange again. So this time I even made it a bigger piece.. I went to Jojo (got the same reaction) and then to Jelly.

And yes, she ate it again!!

Ok, she didn't look like she loved the orange very much (unlike when it's meat or something tasty) BUT it's just amazing that she actually eats orange!

Hmm...wonder what I should let her try next.. :p

Monday, July 23, 2007

McClane My Hero!!

I know with recent releases of some highly anticipated blockbusters such as Transformers and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this movie has been somehow eclipsed.

But let me tell you.. this balding, slightly overweight man in his 50s is SO COOL on screen that I think he deserves the action hero award of the year!

Yep, i just watched Die Hard 4.0. I know I'm late but I already made a mental note that I MUST watch it on big screen..

You see I missed the press preview - the production house just emailed invites to the newspaper editor and not me although I was the one who went and interviewed Maggie Q! Then later they promised to post me free passes, but they never came. Oh well, so i thought i might as well go buy ticket..not like I couldn't afford it.

Let me digress a bit.. I have had a good day. I did work - for solid three hours - writing out an article (but still not completed). I returned to my `Starbucks office' at Cheras Selatan, ordered a `Coffee of the Week' Gold Coast - which is one of my favourites and then typed away on my laptop sitting in the comfy arm chair. There weren't many people partly I think because the Internet was down! Yep, but good thing I didn't need the Internet and in a way, it gave me less distraction!

So I worked from 2-ish and stopped at 5pm to catch the 5:15pm movie. The best thing about this shopping mall is that besides having Starbucks and TGV cinemas (and also Jusco and some other shops) is that it is just mere 5 mins drive from my house.. and parking is absolutely free!!

Yeah, i am enjoying such a nice, carefree and flexible lifestyle now that I'm a bit reluctant to give it up.. but i know i can't be doing this my whole life!!

Anyway, back to Die Hard 4.0. i have read some good reviews on it so i had pretty high expectation. But no, I wasn't disappointed at all!! Yes, it's heavily action-packed and some of the stunts were so incredible that you thought `gosh, this is impossible!' but still they were executed so well and shot in a realistic way with minimal CGI effects, and that made it really gripping.

But this movie is not all brawn and no brain. There's a rather intriguing plot although parts of it I must admit were a bit too hi-tech for a IT inept person like me! And there was humour as well as heart-warming moments..

I'm not a Bruce Willis fan - though i remember a good friend of mine from university (she's French) absolutely adored him! But I tell you, John McClane is just way TOO cool!! He's totally fearless, almost bordering madness but he has incredible high principles and integrity. He is extremely fast and smart and he has wits and sense of humour.. he's a loving father and great friend - to the extent he would sacrifice his life for them.. Yeah, he's like your dream action hero (minus the looks.. haha)

But I think at 52, Willis doesn't look bad at all.. very macho and manly if you ask me. ;)

And although i enjoyed very much movies like Transformers and Harry Potter but some how, they don't touch you the way this movie does. It's funny cos it's an action movie!! But really, it's in a league of its own. And if you haven't watched it, I will highly recommend it... in my memory, this is better than all the previous Die Hard movies!

Ok, enough of raving on this movie and Willis.. :p Guess what, my next movie will also be an action movie involving cops! I missed the preview of the Hong Kong action flick `Invisible Target'..and since I interviewed the 3 protagonists over the phone, I am curious to watch it. I also read pretty decent reviews on it..it's touted to be really action-packed too!

Hmm.. then maybe I can compare the action scenes between Hollywood and HK movies..

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Potter Rip-Off!!

Today's the `magical date' - 21-7-2007 - the worldwide release of the final Harry Potter book!!

But I know now thousands of Harry Potter fans in this country are crying foul!

Just a day prior to the release of the climatic last book in the series, it was advertised in the paper that two hypermarkets - Carrefour and Tesco - will be selling `Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' at a `special price' of RM69.90!

Well, guess any HP fan would know the official retail price for that hardback book is RM109.90 - since pre-order service of the book had been widely publicised and available in all major book chain since 3 months or so back!

Yes, you guess right. I pre-ordered the book and already paid the full amount.

Anyway, as I have been really slack in reading the papers (esp from page-to-page), I was blur about this, until later in the evening, I received the shocking `news' from my friend lulu who was sympathetic to her HP fan-friends and blogged about it. (In fact, she was sounding out our responses!)

Of course, the my first reaction was: `NO WAY! How can this be?' But when i realised this was in fact real, I just blurted out words like : `Gosh, not fair! I'm so angry!! How can they do that!! etc.. etc..

I mean, we the loyal HP fans, have taken the extra effort to go through the `proper channel' to pre-order the book with a reputable book store. Most of us - like myself, would have paid up front the full amount already. As the anticipation grew as the release date approached.. you don't imagine a day prior to the `big day', at the height of the anticipation, you would hear of such a thing - and you feel you've been ripped-off.

I thought those who pre-order suppose to get a better deal? (ok, we do get some freebies and discount at certain stores) look what happened?

I can't help but feel very angry at those hypermarkets - they didn't adhere to the official pricing and resorting to a huge price slash to draw sales.. but what they're doing is sabotaging the bookstores. Is this ethical? I've no much business sense but is this what the business world is like? Aren't here rules or code of ethics (esp. for internationally acclaimed titles) to be followed?

I feel cheated in a way.. although I can't blame the bookstore for it's just following the recommended price. In fact now they are the biggest victim.

And of course, the heat was definitely felt by these bookstores. So much so that four major bookstore chain had announced to the media that they won't be selling any `Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' ! But they will `honour' those pre-order copies.. I mean they BETTER do so! We already paid for them!!

Here is the link to the report.

Thanks to these hypermarkets who claim `they are just putting their customers' best interest in mind', the hype of the final Harry Potter book has been dampened, especially for the loyal Harry Potter fans. Quite an anti-climax..

On the other hand, I can imagine those who have not pre-ordered yet would be rejoicing for being able to get a copy at a cheaper price!!

I could only say.. what irony, and what a rip-off. :(

update: Sat 4:30pm
I got my copy of the book at about noon. Found out when I went to MPH that they allowed pre-order customers to get a refund if they wish. But I decided not to and wanted my book - as it comes with quite a nice souvenir mug besides the paper bag.. And I just can't be bother to go to the hypermarkets to get the cheap version! And don't want to give them business!! The money I've paid is already been paid anyway. and at least now I can start reading the book!

This is probably the biggest upset in book-selling history for this country.. and of all books, it's the FINAL Harry Potter book.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tales of Two Drinks..

1. Sangria Success

We opened a bottle of wine for dinner tonight. It was one of the cheaper stocks that dad has bought some time back.. it was light - lack of aroma and we didn't quite enjoy it, as we have been quite `spoilt' with the better wines that we have tasted.

Then suddenly I thought of an idea - why not use the wine to make Sangria instead! Since I've recently bought a nice recipe book that even has cocktails in it..

I quickly flipped open my `Marie Claire - Hot' (a lovely recipe book with sumptuous and relatively easy-to-make dishes) and see what I needed to make Sangria. I was glad that I had all the ingredients except for Conintreau which I substituted with Vodka.

The result? Well, I thought it was pretty good and even fussy dad said he liked it! Yep, it was much nicer than the earlier plain (cheap) red wine.. :)

Here is the rather simple concoction - try it yourself if you like! ;)

A bottle of Rioja (dont ask me what it is) or light red wine
100 ml sugar syrup
60 ml Cointreau
60 ml lemon juice
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
ice cubes, to serve.

method: stir in all ingredients into a large pitcher!

2. Baileys' Bummer

Baileys Irish Cream is one of my favourite drinks (by now you would think i'm an alcoholic but the truth is I do enjoy my drinks - in moderation of course) ;) I vaguely remember just a couple of weeks back someone gave us a bottle.. And we have yet to open it.

So last night when dad and I were watching movies on DVDs, I decided to treat ourselves to the creamy drink.. on the rocks as usual.

We were looking forward to savour the drinks - dad normally doesn't take Baileys much. We were quite engrossed with `Finding Neverland', after a rather dull and obscure `The Village'. So we just took a few sips while watching the movie... and soon, I began to realise the taste was a bit funny.. it was very acidic and had a odd kinda taste to it. Definitely different from the Baileys I had before.

I mentioned it to dad, and he said there were lumps in his glass!! So we quickly paused the movie and on the lights, and went to check the drinks, and the bottle of course.

I looked at the label at the back of the box.. and was shocked to see this:

My goodness! The bottle of Baileys had expired more than three years ago!!

No wonder it tasted funny.. and when we poured the drinks out from the glass, there were lumps in it too!! Y-u-c-k-s!!

I felt so grossed out.. To think of it, I already had swallowed no less than six or seven gulps.. I mean how did you suspect that when the bottle was given to you just a few weeks ago and was completely new - unopened?

Dad then remembered the bottle was given by my mom's vocal teacher - a Chinese national who has now return. She probably had no knowledge that Baileys has a shelf life and also neglected to check the best-before date..

I was worried that dad and I would get sick. But we didn't since we didn't consume that much.. But the taste of the gone-bad Baileys, and the fact that I knew it was almost 3 1/2 years past its due date, just made me feel quite sick (maybe psychologically I think)

Even as I woke up this morning, I felt I still had that after-taste in my mouth.. Eeeek. Sigh, and now I can't look at my beloved Baileys the same way again..

Monday, July 16, 2007

the LONGEST concert I ever attended

Have you been to a concert marathon? I just did.

This guy is amazing - and a little crazy. His concert at Putra Stadium on Sat night clocked in FOUR-AND-A-HALF HOUR. Yep it was 4 1/2 hour long!!

I was quite happy when an editor called me on Fri to cover Emil Chau Wakin's 20th Anniversary Concert. I'm not a real fan but I do like some of his songs - especially the ballads. And it's a milestone concert after all.. I can watch it free plus earn a bit. Why not?

But I tell you.. just 10 mins into the concert and I was beginning to regret it. And then as he sang one song after another, and when the time entered into the 2nd hour and then the 3rd... I was really feeling very bored and restless.. I turned to sms (yep, and created my own record for the most sms-es sent in one evening!)

I think I haven't been that bored since Michael Wong a.k.a. Guang Liang's concert. But thank goodness Guang Liang's was the normal length as his songs and his style was much more boring than Emil!

Don't get me wrong. Emil's was not a bad concert at all. In fact, he sang very well and had a great showmanship too. Oh, and he's really funny - had lots of witty lines that made the crowd laugh. But imagine sitting down for four-and-half hour listening to one man singing 80 per cent ballads. Just that. Not even dancers.. and no fancy costumes nor gimmicks..

Ok, I know. This is Emil Chau after all - he is (in Cantonese) `sat lek pai' ie. not the pop idol but an artiste with substance. So of course he didn't need any frills and would sing his heart out.. it is nothing wrong with that. But did her really need to sing for 41/2 hour? What was he trying to prove? (besides, yes, i think he proved that he has the stamina at 46!)

I was quite blur as I didn't know this would be a marathon concert. But I soon found out when I entered the stadium and talked to a fellow journalist. And then Emil himself said the earliest it would end would be midnight! And I was like.. `oh.. no! die!' But I couldn't leave coz I had to write the review!

I did a rough count. He sang around 50 songs. He also has three guest artistes but those segments took not very long.

So guess what time it ended? 12:45am. (The concert started quite on time at 8:15am). I tell you, if this is not a record, I don't know what is. Oh, Emil himself said this was his record! Even Sam Hui's comeback concert in Hong Kong I watched three years ago was ONLY 4 hours. And when he came here, I covered it and it was 3 hour 40 mins.

I salute Emil Chau for his ambition. But under my breath I was also cursing him.

Ok, to be fair, I must say I did enjoy a number of the songs.. while bored stiff by others. But I hope he would know that MORE does not necessarily equals good.. even TOO MUCH of a good thing can be too much after all! (gosh I know I'm ranting but you get what i mean..)

It could have been a GREAT concert. But now, I would only remember it as the LONGEST and most TIRESOME one I've ever been to..

p.s. too bad I can't be this ruthless in my review.. which should be out Wed or Thurs in The Sun.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Three Nights in Bangkok (part II)

The Grand Palace

We decided to at least go for a day-tour sightseeing. Because some of the tours take up too long or begins way too early in the morning, we settled on a half-day tour that covers two of the most important monuments in Bangkok - the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

The place, built after King Rama I's ascension to the throne in 1782, covers an area of 218.000 sq meters and it houses not only the royal residence and throne halls but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Yep, it was definitely worth a visit.. a magnificent sight of glittery and grandeur. But we were unfortunate to end up with a shoddy and unprofessional guide who would not even wait for his group of 6 people and hardly had the patient to do any proper explanation! A few times, Lynn and I were left behind just because we wanted to snap a couple of photos!!

That aside, the visit was quite an eye-opener and we did manage to snap some pix in a very hot and sunny afternoon. Though 'm still quite blur of the history behind this palace..including those many halls and pavillions we passed through...

Seedy Sleazy Patpong

And maybe I should add `poor' to describe this place.

Being tourists, we thought we shouldn't miss the (in)famous Patpong which is suppose to have all the happening night scene. Of course we were not planning to actually patronise any of those bars but just a walk along the streets to look-see.

There was actually a quite happening night market in between the rows of nightspots. And the sad thing is, they seemed to be more popular than all those go-go bars and clubs offering sex shows! Many of the go-go bars were almost empty.. I peeped in and saw like dozen of girls in skimpy bikinis (or briefs?) doing pole dancing.. maybe it was a Monday evening but still.. And they had to resort to soliciting tourists like us. Yep, we kept getting people who handed us some slips of papers that described the various `live shows' and urging us to go into their bar.. And we just had to keep shaking our heads and say `no thanks'.

To be honest, it was quite a let-down.. I swear even nightspots in KL are more happening.. Perhaps nowadays not that many tourists are looking for this type of entertainment.. But it is also sad to think of the fate and lives of those sex workers.. selling their bodies and souls away.. and wondering whether they could ever turn a new leaf..

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Three Nights in Bangkok (part 1)

I'm back! Bangkok was interesting and fun!

It has A LOT to offer but for me, shopping definitely ranks high. It is a real shopper's paradise - from the bargain shoppi
ng at street markets to more high-end goods in its huge and modern shopping malls!

In three days, we managed to cover the more touristy places in the city - with shopping and massages thrown in! Thus we didn't have enough time to go for some excursions outskirt..

Here are some highlights (and yes, many many photos too!!)

Captivating Colourful Chatuchak

I have heard from many that it's huge and sells EVERYTHING - but still it was quite an amazing and awesome experience to walk through hundreds and thousands of stalls that literally offer ANYTHING you can think of - some pretty exotic and interesting stuff too!

Pity that we only got to spend about four hours there - trust me, you can easily spend the whole day and not even finished browsing the bazaar! It's only open during weekend and our flight was on Sunday... anyway that was the first destination we headed to after checking into our hotel.

It was packed with people.. and walking around the place was like a maze! It was sweltering hot too! We didn't know there was actually a printed directory available so we just made our way around randomly.. even so we didn't manage to repeat the same routes.. and i think in all we covered maybe just one-third of the whole market!!

It was so fun! I could have s
pent a few days shopping there! And yes, I did buy quite a bit - but no, didn't go overboard :p

They sell puppies and other pets too! And some really weird stuff like Hitler's puppets and also other scary looking figures. Hmm.. There were many many foodstalls as well as those selling all kinds of drinks and desserts I can't recognise.. Oh, there were also insects and roaches. (fake but looked pretty real!)

A Condom-ful Restaurant

Yes, you read right. There's this famous eatery in Bangkok called `Cabbages and Condoms', whereby its profits go towards supporting family planning and HIV awareness programs! The restaurant is located at a quaint building and the minute you entered, you will be greeted by mannequins which attires were made of colourful condoms! And other decor items such as lamp shads as well.. pretty creative and ingenious!

We sat at the open-air area with a nice, cozy ambiance. There were quite a lot of diners who were mostly tourists.. The food did not disappoint! No wonder most travel guidebooks list this place as a recommended restaurant! But of course the attraction is in its interesting theme. When I told my dad about this restaurant, he looked appalled and thought it was `obscene'! Oh well.. :p