Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mum's Orchid






My mum loves flowers so much. She used to plant lots of different flowers as a pastime. During my childhood and teenage years our home had different species of flowers. Neighbours often visiting because they enjoyed looking at those beautiful flowers and talking endlessly about them with my mum. Sadly nowadays that is not the case, there are a few species left. I understand my mum is not getting any younger and with a grandchild to look after, she barely has the time to tend her plants. I took the above photos yesterday as the orchid was blossoming. I wanted to immortalise the orchid in a digital form because it may not bloom again. Besides, flowers always remind me of my mother's caring nature. Sometimes I wish I have my mum's passion to nurture the colourful gifts of our mother earth. I cannot imagine this world without flowers, our sights will be dull and people are not as poetic as they should to be!


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Last Day at Kolej Vokasional Betong



14.02.2014 was indeed a special day for most people, for me as well. Not only it was Valentine's Day and Chap Go Meh festival (Chinese V-Day), but also my last day working at KV Betong. My Christmas wish was finally granted although a little bit late. I have received my transfer letter. Hopefully a new place will bring back the teaching "mojo" which I pretty much needed right now. Not that I am burned out, but there were things that constantly pushed us down despite already tried so hard to stay positive and motivated. Perhaps it was best to look for a greener pasture. After all I am only a human and above all God knows I deserve better. 

So, during my last day at KV Betong I managed to capture some short videos. I went around the college with my Canon EOS 550D and Canon EF Lens 50mm F1.8 II documenting some familiar faces. It was done spontaneously. It took me less than an hour to film the whole thing. I neither edited any scene nor used any effect on the video, just added background music. I hope this video will remind me of all the good times I had and never to forget people who I used to call colleagues and students. Every thing in life has to come to an end, but mine is not the real ending. KV Betong is just a place where my story stops before I begin a new chapter in my teaching career.


Monday, 3 February 2014

Tua Selama Ya (MAJESTICA)

Before you continue reading this blog, please be reminded to be open-minded to CONSTRUCTIVE criticism and suggestions. If you can't handle them, just leave as I'm about to embark on a critical review writing. 

This is not a normal thing for me to do, commenting or reviewing a music video especially a Dayak music video. Yes, you heard me! So, why do I decide to do it? Well, it's something worth mentioning honestly. I'm sure many of you can relate to words such as cheap, awkwardcheesyhilarious and many more when talking about Dayak MVs. Always the typical scenes like sitting and singing on a huge rock at the beach, some lustful couples chasing one another in a garden, a group of alluring ladies dancing to the dangdut beats at the pub (Yes, pub and not club), husband and wife throwing stuff at each other in the longhouse and any possible whacky scene you could imagine! That doesn't include the bizarre and comical lyrics yet. Don't believe me, watch them on Youtube. So, do you see where this is going? I know people always meant for the MVs to be pure entertainment, but how do they reflect the mentality of a particular community? People like us can easily accept it as what it is, but how about those who are foreign to our lifestyle?

For many years there were calls by local music fans to bring change to the Dayak music industry but it seemed like we still watched the same lame storyline and ludicrous MVs. Not until the emergence of some indie bands and new generation of singers that we began to see the evolution took place. The variation we experience today is a combination of strong concoction between fresh ideas, new talents and technologies. The current generation has since become the pioneer of numerous creative artwork, not only in terms of songwriting but also album graphic design, videography, photography and the list goes on. 

So, let's get back to the main topic. I would like to review on a music video entitled TUA SELAMA YA by MAJESTICA. Consider this an honour okay because I normally wouldn't do this for any music video, including those from Hollywood. I just don't have the time. This time I choose to give credits to the creative minds who worked tirelessly in and behind the scene to produce an Iban MV that is sui generis. When I first watched the beginning of this MV, the initial word that popped into my head was "WOWWW!!!". Like I was truly impressed and I just thought to myself this one would definitely leave a lasting impression. 


But then... I saw this!


It reminded me of Belle (a character in the Disney's animated movie, Beauty and the Beast) lost in the wood and found this almost abandoned castle. 




Next, the band members appeared on my screen one by one. Then, I started to wonder what just happened to the Disney's movie castle. Who dwelled in it? 


So the singing continued... (Maloney looking hot as ever)


and the Princess appeared (the female character did look good eh, lucky for men).


Next, The Prince (I wish upon the stars the male character looked like Loki of Asgard. 
Sorry to disappoint you girls, I know it's not fair).

Then, BAMMM!!! 
Came the major D-I-S-T-R-A-C-T-I-O-N
The W.A.I.T.E.R. 
This is the main thing I wish to highlight in this music video. I'll justify this later.





Seriously, at this point I felt like watching Travel & Living Channel or Food Network already. 
What's up with the wine-pouring skill?
How is it relevant to the Romeo-Juliet tragic love story?


Yeah, some more... killing me softly baby... 


Cheers mate!




I just didn't get it. Why so much emphases were given to this supporting character? 

* * * * * * * *

Before I move on, I want to discuss on the WAITER. Or BUTLER, whichever suits your taste. He is a major distraction in the music video.  I just didn't see how he could be significant in the story development. The music video main characters could undoubtedly develop the story on their own until the end without him. When I first watched this video, I quickly got into the mood because of the lyrics, the music and the emotions emanated by the band members. When the Prince and Princess (that's how I interpreted the main characters) appeared, the story began to unfold. Everything was so lovely, romantic, perfect until the waiter showed up. As I watched and scrutinised the video a couple of times, I realised the main characters were overshadowed by the large amount of focus the waiter received. You could really see in these still images more lights were shone on the waiter rather than the main characters. It seemed like the Prince and Princess were hid behind the vignette on purpose. So, the story of Tua Selama Ya actually revolves around whom? The royal couple or the waiter? Focus is important in a story. 

Apart from that, I find the wine-pouring skill, the sheet-spreading skill and the serving skill are superfluous. Don't we all watch enough of food channels on paid television network? We know how wine tasted. I can even come up with a video on how to make a shepherd pie or cream of mushroom soup if I want to. The cooking skills are a lot more complicated I bet. Yeah, thinking of food makes me hungry, slurp! Oh, sorry, where were we?

So, whether the waiter present or not in the music video, the main characters still can make it enjoyable to watch. I mean when you are already 'in the mood' during a romantic rendezvous and suddenly your best friend comes budging in trying to tell you the match between Sarawak and Kelantan is on, how does that feel? Not fun. But like it or not, you just have to 'shoo' him out of the room and continue from where you left. So, that was basically what happened when I watched the MV for the first time. My mood just went from Wow ---> Lovey Dovey ---> WTF ---> Sad ---> That's-it-? See the bug there? 

This waiter thing to me is like a Hollywood actress wearing a Karl Lagerfeld's beautiful evening gown but suffering a major wardrobe malfunction just because of excessive accessories, ugly make-up and not putting on matching heels. If you know what I mean. 

* * * * * * * *


Of course, the best awkward moment was when I caught the actress chewing something while smiling! Oh My Gum... shouldn't you spit it out before the camera rolled? 
Manners ladies, it ain't looking good for a Princess!




The MV is a brilliant artwork (in Dayak music context) with the help of visual effects. 



However, I'm not sure if the scene of cutting wrist is appropriate for the underage to watch considering your die-hard fans come from all ages. Would this MV be categorised as P13 or 18 under the television content rating system if it is to be aired on television? You never know, some people can be fanatic. Not even Justin Bieber wished to take the blame for his Beliebers' unpredictable behaviours. 



Hence, I rated this music video Tua Selama Ya four and a half stars (out of five). Finally we have a music video that is close to MTV quality. I personally think it's an impressive and compelling efforts from both Majestica and crews who involved with the video-making. They really set the bar so high and this is just their first music video. Besides, the song is awesome too. If this music video doesn't get nominated for any local music awards, people will be wondering and definitely questioning (I will). I hope their standard will encourage others to strive harder in producing good quality music video and song. Who knows, people might think it's worthy to invest their hard earned money on local music especially on original CD, VCD and DVD. Enough with the cheapskating and piracy. 

Lastly, please bear in mind this is a critical review. Not any sort of personal attack on the band or the crews. I look at it from the Literature point of view, if you were a language student you would know what I'm saying. My analysis is solely on the characters and storyline, not the actors and actress. Besides, you ought to know I like Majestica too. Heart 'em and their songs. For further information regarding this band, do visit their Facebook Page 







Friday, 31 January 2014

Cream of Mushroom Soup for CNY 2014

All these years my parents and relatives had been busy baking and cooking for Chinese New Year. However, for 2014 my camaraderies (chef brother and sister-in-law) and I decided to take over the job so that our parents could enjoy their rest. I told my chef brother many times that I liked Cream of Mushroom Soup so much. I always had to go to Fullhouse just for a bowl of that soup in order to stop the craving. So, he finally agreed to share the knowledge by guiding me in preparing the scrumptious dish. My chef brother preferred to teach me the original recipe rather than those we always had while dining at fast food restaurants. They would usually use instant mushroom soup powder or cream which is lacked of mushroom taste. Food bloggers will normally blog about the food they do not cook, but I choose to differ (although I am not a food blogger). I do not mind sharing my experience with you guys for the love of food.

The ingredients for this recipe are as followed:

Onion
Carrot
Celery
Mixed Herbs
Oyster Mushroom
Shiitake Mushroom
Chicken Stock Cube
Salt & Pepper
Whipping Cream (for cooking)

So, here are the steps. 

Melt the butter. 

Sauté the onion before adding the carrot and celery. Make sure to cook them till they become soft.

Add the mixed herbs.

Sauté. 

Add the Oyster Mushroom.

Then, the Shiitake Mushroom. Cook till they are soft and add some water.

Add in a chicken stock cube. 

Of course, some salt and pepper.

Let the soup cool down till it is lukewarm before you can blend it. 

Blending. Remember not to blend the soup for too long, you still want to maintain a little bit of the ingredients texture. 

You will have soup base after the blending. 

Heat up the cooking pot and poor the soup base into it, add some water to lessen the thickness and some whipping cream for cooking. Add more salt if necessary. Cook till it is boiling.

Lastly, it is ready to be served! 

(Perhaps you can garnish the Cream of Mushroom Soup with some croutons or anything you think would make your dish look like a fine-dining presentation. My chef brother could not believe it tasted so good although it was my first attempt. Yeah, I learn fast with hands-on things.)


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Why I Love VSCOCAM

VSCOCAM and I are inseparable. When the application was made available and free for iPhone users, I instantly downloaded it. The experience just felt like falling in love at the first sight! Since then it became my primary photo-editing app. 

The app is recently made available for Android phone users. However, I won't be able to tell you the difference of picture quality on both IOS and Android versions as I never used the app on any Android phone yet. I'll let you judge for yourself based on the pictures I posted below which were taken using an iPhone or DSLR camera and edited with VSCOCAM.

I also want to let all readers know that this blog post is inspired by another fellow blogger, Willie Esther. Not long ago he blogged about his love for Camera 360 app ( http://reptoz.com/?p=2773 ). Thanks Willie!