Sunday, January 28, 2007

Wake up calls

People are funny...

We never seem to treasure things (or other people, for that matter) which we think/assume will be there for us all the time. Basically, it comes down to a "taking it for granted" attitutude. Recent events again highlights this simple observation.

Some happened in the general public space while others in my personal life.

1) The closing down of the Crazy Horse show

This supposedly world-class act ( I havent seen it, and have no intentions of doing so. I'll admit, I'm cluelsss when it comes to appreciating dancing and cabaret shows) has been brought into Singapore 13 months ago, to much fanfare and public attention.

Yet, after the initial euphoria, the attendance for its shows dropped to an alarming <40% turn-up rate over the next 12 months. Finally, the sponsors and organisers had to admit it was a 'strategic' mistake, and decided to end the show's run in town.

The comments from the public started pouring in - again. Some were full of the "I knew it" crap. But what was interesting was the number of people who, when interviewed, said that they actually intended to catch the show.

Why didn't they?

Because they thought it was always gonna be there, whenever they wanted to see it. (Incidentally, a work colleague of mine told me the same thing - that she had intended to watch it with her family on many past occasions, but simply "didnt do it" because she'd assumed that the show was here to stay)

Ironically, tickets for the show have been snapped up rapidly, for these folks, that I'll bet the next couple days, the show will boast of full houses again. A little too late to save the horses though. :P

2) Watched the Singapore vs Malaysia match live last night. On television, that is.

Admittedly, I too was one of those seriously tempted to pull on a red T-shirt and brave the crowds and traffic-jams around Kallang area, to stand amongst the thousands of supporters for the Singapore Lion team, as they took on their arch-rivals Malaysia. (In the end, my own laziness and my wife's lack of interest dissuaded me. Of course, the LIVE telecast also made the decision slightly easier)

The papers reported a crowd of 55,000, at the National Stadium. That was impressive. But then I wondered... would it still have been 55,000, or much less, had the match NOT been the LAST match that Singapore will play Malaysia in a competitive football match?

3) Tomorrow I'll be called in for ICT. (if you don't know what ICT stands for, you probably arent Singaporean. It's "In-Camp-Torture"... ops.. i mean "In-Camp-Training". Meant for old men like me, to refresh my skills once a year in the army camp, on how to use weapons and how to kill my enemies.)

It is also the time of the year, I'd realise what a bad shape I am in, in terms of physical health and overall fitness. In the last 2 weeks, I've tried to go for light exercises and runs, in a feeble (and futile) attempt to "gear" myself up for the 2 weeks of training. Muscle cramps and body aches followed, signs which proves the rot in my body, after months and months of no-exercise lifestyle.

Body health and fitness has been taken for granted.

"There's always a "tomorrow" to workout, so not today". "I'm still young... so there's still time". "I'll start eating right... maybe tomorrow.."

4) GENUS - club in crisis? Read on ...

GENUS - what went wrong?

In my previous posting, I'd talked about the 'mutation' of the Committee and the Orchestra members makeup and dynamics.

One of the issues that we also realised was the commitment (or lack of) of the new members in the club.

People nowadays seem to take for granted and assume that as long as they wished to go on stage and perform, we'll let them. As long as they show their faces during our rehearsal - some once a fortnight, some once a month...

Well, if yesterday's rehearsal session was anything to go by, this "assumption" might change.

For one, our conductor - Dr Robert Casteels, was annoyed enough to admonish some members whom, after having the performance scores for months, are still playing wrong notes to a wrong timing. When asked to stop playing, some started giggling and fooling around, tickled by the comments made.

"Stop laughing. It's not funny!"

If the conductor hadn't done that, I might have stood up to issue a warning to the players there and then. Raj sat with a stunned expression on his face throughout - not at the conductor's annoyance - but at the terrible state of preparedness of the ensemble.

What really pissed me off, were the players who didn't even bother to attend the rehearsal sessions on a weekly basis. Prime players are the main culprits, it seems (according to Raj & Wai, close to 10 players were absent yesterday). And these are the ones who cannot play their scores properly.

"Please note that there is less than 10 practises(including weekly practises) left before our annual concert!" screamed an email from Pan Yu, the club's president.

While urging people to attend rehearsals promptly and regularly, she also suggested to those who didn't turn up (repeatedly), to volunteerily give up their "performance rights".

We shall see how this works, in the coming 2 weeks. I am not as kind and soft in my approach (after all, I'm 大黑熊! ) as she is. If things don't improve in the next 2 weeks, in terms of attendance in particular, I'll definitely step in to take some corrective actions.

If some people do not have the grace to volunteer to withdraw (after missing rehearsals after rehearsals, and still cannot play properly), then maybe they have to be told to do so.

We shall see.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


看了Owl's blog 后, 我也不得不同意一些他的说法 - 今时不同往日...

Genus has certainly come a long long way. Both in terms of its musical development and performing standards, as well as it's group dynamics and culture.

We have a larger orchestra than before (in my Committee days, we were about 40 strong). We have an abundance of experienced players in the orchestra, unlike in the past, where a "Year 6" was considered an "untouchable" in terms of his stature in the group. We are tackling music which we dared not even dream of challenging in the past (e.g. we're now taking on Pictures at an Exhibition at ensemble level. Together with the Bach's E major concerto in the same concert). We have better instruments than before, having acquired some decent Niibori and Prime guitars over the last 10 years. We also now play under a professional and renowned conductor, who will hopefully lead the group towards higher musical achievements...

So many positives to the way Genus has grown.

We are able to progress thus far, because we have adapted well to changes.

改变 : 往往是令人抗拒的. 也是令人担忧,甚至于恐惧的. 但重要的是, "改变"也是必然的,它的确是不可避免的.

We have adapted to changes in our Administration (CFA) setup and personnel, to changes in their demands of the group. We have adapted to changes in our own group's musical leadership, when we were forced to undergo a change in conductor by CFA (yes. we have survived 2 years of Dommy's dark reign... ). We have also adapted to the slow by sure change in the makeup and thus culture of the group, whereby more Alumni members retain their membership and stake in Genus, choosing to come back to campus every Saturday to rehearse with the group.

The Executive Committee (EXCO - or simply the Comm ) responsibilities have been passed down for generations after generations of undergraduates, as the group needed an active lot of youthful, and spirited volunteers to take charge of the administrative organisation and day-to-day running of the group. This fact has not changed.

Yet - this is my personal opinion - along with all the other "changes" that Genus has undergone, the spirit and willingness to commit to the group (and thus having to sacrifice personal time and efforts) seemed to have been dampened in some of the recent Committees, and even completely "lost" in several members amongst them.

Perhaps students now are much more conscientious of their studies and schoolwork, that they have little time to spare for such things as "CCA"s. Or perhaps the demands on the EXCO has become much higher now compared to before, as there are more members in the group to manage, especially with the emergence of a large cohort of 难以伺候的"老家伙"们.

To me, these "reasons" sound a little hollow and unconvincing. Every Committee (past and present) has their own set of challenges to face, and I don't agree that the Committees nowadays has a tougher job on their hands than we had in our time.

It is simply a matter of ATTITUDE.

The fact that there are still some dependable and solid Comm members (albeit much fewer numbers than in the past...) now is proof - that 要做的话, 是绝对做得到的. 重要的是有没有这份"心".

GENUS在下来的几年内或许回面对青黄不接的问题. 主要原因并不是吸引不到足够的新人来加入团队,而是不能好好地挽留住一些曾经加入,而有潜质的新生会员. 在这种情况之下,能挺身而出来担当Committee的将会是寥寥无几. 而那些被大伙儿提名为Committee会员的也难免会把这份"荣耀"当成是一种"负担". 象是被别人arrowed to do the shit job 似的. 以这种心态来接受执委会的任何职位的人, 试问他怎么可能会全力以赴,尽心竭力地付出呢?

Genus may have adapted well to many past changes and the challenges that came with them. Maybe it's time we also start thinking about changing the Committee structure (as well as the election process ) and the way we run the group - to ensure the right people with the right attitude are in the right roles.

Friday, January 26, 2007



两年多前曾到过那里一游,虽然只是短短的几天,却留下了许许多多美好的回忆. 那里的景色,气候,食物,等-都非常令人怀念.

那里还有一个挺特别的标致. 图案上显示着一只黑熊的面孔,然后图下写着:

*** 熊出没注意 ***


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Genus - Euphony concert at LT13.

I rather look forward to this concert. Really... from the point of view of a classical guitar (Niibori instruments in particular) afficionado, Genus-Expose arguably represents the best ensemble group in Singapore at the moment. In fact, not just in S'pore, but possibly in the SE Asia region even...

Several of the players are considered my peers, as we have played together in the Genus orchestra in the past years, and a few are currently members in the quartet/quintet I am involved in. Other than some folks in the TPGC, i cant think of many others who can claim to have as much guitar ensemble experience as these folks.

Still, I have decided not to participate in Expose, at least for the time being. One of the primary reason being time constraints. My priority, in terms of giving of my time and effort (to coordinate and organise practices and to source for performances) - undoubtedly lies with my quartet Guitaresque. Following that, I am still hoping against all hopes - that Masak - or whatever name it might mutate into - will make a "comeback", in time to come.

Playing in Expose makes me feel like playing in the old Genus orchestra... all over again. After some time, I find myself asking, "Am I joining this group for the sake of playing in an ensemble, OR I'm here because some of my good friends are here as well? "

Both seemed like good enough reasons for me to stay commited. Yet... I enjoy playing ensemble in a more intimate group (ie. a more compact, smaller, yet more focused group) rather than a larger, mixed group. That is why I really love the quartet sessions, and similarly - the Niibori quintet sessions too.

As for enjoying the company of friends..., lately I find myself a little 'alienated' from the younger members of the group. They too, don't seem to have much to say to me, vice versa. Those whom I am really comfortable with... not surprisingly are also the same fellas who play in the quartet/quintet setup with me.

As a player in the group, my expectations for the group becomes that much higher than it would be, were I but a listening audience.


我想,做个开心,释怀的观众支持者, 胜于做个患得患失,不得志的表演者.


Friday, January 19, 2007



舞台魅力十足的DAREN陈世维赢得了男冠军的荣衔. 而女冠军则是活泼利落的陈迪雅.

虽然这两位已经算是这一届"绝对SUPERSTAR"的跤跤者, 但我总觉得他们和上一届的KELLY潘佳丽,陈伟联,洪俊杨,石心卉比起来,似乎逊色了不少...


Number 49

My queue number is 49!

The queue number for my Ruck guitar, that is. :)

That probably means i will get my guitar in under 2 years (assuming he builds about 30 a year).

I want European spruce top, Indian rosewood sides (and back), a 20th fret, acoustic ports (still considering), Rodgers tuners, french polished body, etc.. list continues..

*rubbing hands in glee*

Friday, January 12, 2007

Integrity issue

It's amazing how some people can be so callous, so despicable, so... disgustingly dishonest. Somehow, I've always assumed that people who have received good and proper education should at least have a good sense of moral judgement - of rights and wrongs.

Of course, my assumption (stated above) has been proven wrong on a number of occasions. Perhaps I'm being naive in thinking so in the first place.

It's a touchy subject - this "moral judgement" thingie... cos what's consider 'right' by some people may not be so 'right' when viewed from a different angle, by a different group of people. There are - and i totally agree with this - areas which are quite clearly "gray". Without going into details (as i've mentioned, it's touchy!! ), I can think of many issues that concern certain human rights and morality that fall under this "gray" category, and many a times these also depends on religious beliefs and etc...

And I, for one, cannot stand people who love to stand on moral high ground, with the "I am holier than thou" attitude and judge people as sinners...

No. I'm talking about the more clear-cut cases - "Hey! That's frakking wrong!! " - regardless of what colour your skin is, what your beliefs are, or which part of the world you come from...

The Story so far....


An undergraduate (BB) wanted to borrow some money from an elderly person (AA), whom he got to know through an association/club in the University. BB claimed he was in a desparate state and needed funds to pay for his University school fees (or for some other "life-or-death" matters.. who knows..). AA, out of goodwill, lends it to him.

Fast forward some 5 years...

BB has long graduated from the University. He found a regularly job and has even switch jobs several times. But not once has he contacted AA to talk about returning the money that he borrowed.

AA manages to get BB's contact through some mutual acquintance, and BB reluctantly returns a small part of the money, claiming he will pay back the rest soon.

Fast forward another 1 year...

BB again ceases contact with AA. When finally tracked down and asked about the remaining sum of money he owed, again the same excuse - financial difficulties, so cant pay back at the moment.

* The term "BB" is adapted from Yen's blog. I shall not repeat what it stands for.

Gosh... to me, this is quite unbelievable. To put things in perspective, BB is a young man, graduated 6 years ago, having a decent paying job (he claims to have postings overseas even). AA, on the other hand, is an ailing old man in his 80s, who has retired for ages, and is now fully dependent on his children for support.

Again, if you asked me - this simply goes to show what kind of person BB really is.

Highly educated perhaps. But certainly lowly in terms of character and zilch integrity.

Pooooooiii !

Monday, January 08, 2007


Kuja最近迷上了<恶魔在身边>,这部由杨丞林主演的台湾偶像剧. 很少看到她象近两天这样,可以在电视机前呆坐几个小时追看连续剧...

我嘛...可不会对台湾剧感到兴趣... 他们实在演得太夸张了. 有时真的是好烂,好烂... 看了简直会哭笑不得. (我唯一还有点兴趣的是看可爱的Rainie在银幕上展现她迷人的笑容. 不得不承认, 她的确很chio!)


假设说,有两个相爱的男女,他们两人都是来自单亲家庭.打个比方 - 男方的母亲去世了. 女方呢,则是父亲去世了.


那么,这对男女岂不是变成兄妹(或是姐弟)? 他们还能继续发展感情吗?

Interesting scenario :)

Ole ole ole ole...

I have always loved watching football. Whether it is club competitions or the World Cup, football remains my favourite sports ( to watch on TV . not to play! )

Nowadays, there's the EPL, the Primera Liga, the Bundes Liga, the Seria A, or if you're really desparate - there's always *ahem*... the S-League!

For those uninitiated, some terminology:

EPL - stands for English Premier League. Years ago, when finals were played at the old Wembley stadium, and the Premier League was called Division One; it was simply termed British football. Now - it's EPL. :)
In my opinion, the most fast paced and hiong league (which explains why i love to watch). Lots of hard tackles, fouls, on-pitch antics like diving, hand-of-god attempts. Plus the managers love to continue the drama before and after the match. Mud slinging and insults are traded on a daily basis, it seems. Shiok!

Primera Liga - the Spanish top league, where teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Athelico Madrid, etc.. slug it out for the title. Arguably the league with the most flair and style. Lots of world class stars ply their trade in this league, including Ronaldinho, van Nistelroy, Deco, Eto, Beckham, Torres, and the recently retired Zinedine Zidane.

Bundes Liga - the German league. Famous teams include Bayern Munich, Bayern Munich, and still Bayern Munich...

Seria A - the Italian league. Since the disgraceful fiasco that was uncovered last year, revealing bribery of match officials, match fixing, etc.. the league has suffered a lost of prestige, somewhat. A big name club like Juventus has even been relegated to Seria B, and their top stars fled like monkeys from a burning tree. Still, with clubs like AC Milan and Inter Milan around, the Italian clubs are still a force to be reckon with... though i cant sit through a match between 2 Italian sides. So technical and boring...

And lastly...

S-League - no comments. Except, to watch if you like kelong scorelines like 9-0, or 5-5, etc. Good for the punters and the gambling industry in S'pore though. :P

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My poor baby...

My poor guitar is in need of urgent treatment...

My Kohno has been with me for the last 8 years or so now, faithfully accompanying me through each concert and performance.

Lately, the wear and tear is really beginning to show on its 26 years face.... the sides are showing significant "peeling off" as the French polish disintegrates slowly but surely; the machine head is wearing out, and certain movable parts are visibly loose, causing slight buzzing sound during play; but the worst was..... there is a hairline crack on the top surface, resulting in a slight distorted sound production and bad buzzing...


I must look for a good doctor for her...

New year musings..

We had a small year end party held at our place over the last weekend. In fact, it was on the last day of 2006, and we invited a group of close friends to celebrate the arrival of the new year with us.

We catered some food, and some of the guys brought along champagne, wine, agar-agar, cakes, etc.. As expected, there was abundance of food, and we had to play games to decide who eats the remaining food - as part of the forfeit!

It was overall an enjoyable occasion, lotsa chit-chat, lotsa catching up with one another, and of course, the games segment provided another platform for us to laugh at one another -in good spirit, of course.

The only person who was half-sulking (we thot so!) throughout the games segment was our dear Barber. Talk about demonstrating mutant powers..... kuja and i were really amazed at how his face could so easily turn black, and he can switch into this "anti-social" mode, all in the split of a second...and for no apparent reason too.

Well, maybe it's just one of those "men-above-30" syndrome. I believe OG and myself might have demonstrated some such mood swings at times too - got to do the hormones, i guess... (although the black-face transformation mutant skill belongs solely to Barber's unique arsenal)

Looks like the topic of "Masak" is taboo for a while now... i get this feeling that the air becomes a bit icier each time someone brings up "Masak" in front of Barber. Like he will suddenly switch to this defensive, unfriendly mode.. for some reason.

Hmm.. maybe we should take the opportunity of the new year to change a new name for the group too, ya?

Start afresh.. as they say.