Spring Break at STL

Last week my brother invited Bruce and I to join them in a three-day-weekend in St. Louis for a short and relatively inexpensive weekend. I liked the idea, and so did Bruce.

But after finding out that the hotel is going to cost about $120 before tax for one night. I decided not to go. Unless I can find a cheaper hotel, even if it means we’re not going to be in the same hotel. It really didn’t matter, because they have their car, and we have ours.

So, before giving up, I tried Priceline.com. I put in $40 as my first bid, and a response came back asking me to add $12. So, I did, $52. Not only did I get a room for $52, I’m staying in the very hotel my brother and Eric are staying. Lucky me.

We had a great time there. And I’m still enjoying the fact that I get a hotel room for $52/night, almost as much as I enjoy the trip itself.

It’s all goooood.

Found a friend in iTunes

Last Thursday, Bruce sent me a funny album by Mrs Miller, well, that’s a whole other story. But, through that, I found myself browsing on iTunes, which I rarely do. But today,  I found one of my favorite singers, Ning Baizura listed on iTunes. Ning is a Malaysian singer whom I enjoy since her first album. Being away from Malaysia for so long, trying to keep up with the music industry back in Malaysia could be a little challenging. I was excited to see Ning listed on iTunes. I didn’t buy her album. This is the reason why.

While I was browsing under the “World” section of iTunes, which is where I found Ning, I stumbled upon this Malay sounding album “Tekad Redha Tabah.” So I clicked on it. Listened to a couple of tracks, it really sounded great. I was going to check to see if this album is indeed Malaysian or Indonesian (the Malay language and Indonesian language are very similar). Looking up on the artiste’s name, Hazami, I thought it sounded familiar. After reading on more, I found out that he is indeed a Malaysian singer, and began to suspect that the Hazami could very well be a friend of mine from Malaysia. After listening to all the sample tracks, I love the album, and I bought it.

Hazami was my good friend Henry’s best friend. I was introduced to him through Henry when I was studying in Petaling Jaya. Hazami and I both love singing, and we would sing and chat on the phone for hours. He is fun, smart, and definitely a wonderful vocalist. His trademark was his high pitch singing ala Mariah Carey. (A few tracks on his album have those singing style, but only as backups, which I thought was wonderfully done. Really not many people know that’s him singing) However, we have never met in person. The last I heard about him was from Henry that Hazami was in engineering school in England. That was at least six years ago.

After a few more research online, and getting Hazami’s full name and a few chat sessions in some Malaysian chatrooms, I finally was convinced that the Hazami I know, is indeed this rapidly becoming very well known singer in Malaysia. Another factor confirming the fact that he is the one I know was his singing. He was nominated for the best new male artiste and the most popular male artiste in the Malaysian equivalent of the Grammy Awards. And he won the best new male artiste.  I try to get back in touch with him. I wrote an email to him, but haven’t heard from him yet. I hope he’ll be able to get my mail and finally get back in touch.

I am so proud of his success and would definitely love to share his success and reminiscing those days when we were just dreaming about our success being famous singers. And today, he has made it. I’m still a singer, famous only in the vicinity of a few miles. Nevertheless, enjoy every bit of the singing that I get to do.

Syabas Hazami! (Congratulations Hazami!)

p/s: Buy Hazami’s album if you like R&B. As far as I know he wrote most of the music and lyrics himself.

Learn Chinese

I love music. I appreciate music. I enjoy music.

Some more than others. Hiphop is definitely not one of my favorite genre. But ever once in a while I do find a few hiphop songs very captivating.

Today, when I was flipping through channels, I landed on BET. What caught my attention was definitely entertaining, but he is definitely not black!

It’s a hiphop video. Nicely shot. He sounds black. But this Chinese kid is singing:

Ya’ll gonna learn Chinese

Ya’ll gonna learn Chinese

Ya’ll gonna learn Chinese

When the pumps come out, ya’ll gon’ speak Chinese

It’s Jin’s new hit single Learn Chinese.

He was good. I probably won’t buy the whole album, but perhaps buying that one track. There’s Cantonese (which is one of many Chinese dialects) in the song.

I actually enjoyed the video, and surprisingly enjoyed and appreciated his rhymes and the entire song.

It’s probably the “Asian Pride” in me. I feel like I should support the first Chinese rapper who made it to the mainstream. After all, he is the first to make it this big. You an find his video on MTV’s site.

Go Jin!

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

I have a new definition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

It all started with the sweetest little gift that Bruce gave me – CD mix just for me.

Bruce is very good with customizing song mixes for a certain someone or occasion. This time, he made me a collection of songs that he knows I would enjoy. Some, I know ahead of time, some I don’t.

This is a busy week for me. Monday night after work, I went to a singing rehearsal. By the time I came home, Bruce is already in bed. But I found a CD on my school bag. So, after getting some work done for the next day’s class, I went to bed too.

Tuesday morning. I popped the CD into my car stereo, and there it is, “Hey Ya” by Outkast, which he bought from iTunes. We don’t do illegal downloads. I’m a musician myself, I can understand why that is so wrong. Then there’s a series of my other favorites. I enjoyed listening to all of them from home to work, which was about eighteen minutes. 

Tuesday evening. I left work around five to drive up north to go to school. That’s another 30-minute drive. The CD is still going. All my favorites. I arrived. Went into class. Finished the first class, and I packed to go to another singing rehearsal. I had to skip my second class for this rehearsal (the one which was suppose to be on Sunday, and due to the ice storm, it was postponed to Tuesday night). I went into my car, took out my sandwich, and preparing to take care of my dinner on the drive to my rehearsal. 

Now, by now, I am already a little tired and stressed. I just sat for a quiz. Skipped a class. Starting my 45-minute drive to my rehearsal. Hungry. And missing Bruce because I haven’t seen much of him since Sunday.

From my stereo, came the warm cuddly sound of the ukulele. Then the gentle humming of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole a.k.a. “IZ”, delivering one of the most heartwarming version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (mixed in with “What A Wonderful World”).  

Tears started to roll off my eyes.

I don’t know if I was stressful, or if it reminded me of the sweet Toys.com commercial, missing Bruce a lot, or just the sweet old sound of “IZ” and his companion ukulele, or perhaps, the combination of everything. I just couldn’t stop crying.

I know I was going to be late, I kept driving, and kept munching on my sandwich, while I was balling away.

Then, this came to me. 

“Somewhere over the rainbow. Somewhere in Kansas, I found my true love. My life is so much prettier and colorful with him around.”

It really IS pretty over the rainbow.

I love you baby.

11-inch Disappointment

It all started last Friday with the prediction of an eleven-inch snow fall. Then on Saturday afternoon, it turned to perhaps an inch of ice and three inches of snow.

To some people it?s good new, some ? disappointment. Apparently there were some warm air from the south moving up to us, and we ended up having some ice, an not much snow at all.

My cousin was expecting a heavy snowfall, and was expecting to have fun out in the snow. Especially that her boss told her that if it snows like they predicted, she doesn?t have to in to work. She was a bit bummed by it.

Because of the warm air, the icy street isn?t too bad. Salts and sand took care of the road. In fact, I heard in the news that they were using salt water, brine, to treat the streets. Sadly,and strangely, that made me think of making a turkey. Perhaps Bruce would like that too.

My rehearsal was indeed canceled. I found out about right when I was scraping my car. Since I was already out, I ended up scraping off some of the ice on the driveway.

To me, as long as the street is safe to drive, I am cool with it.

Ice age

So, here it is again. The ice age is back.

Less than a couple of months ago, we had a very bad ice storm. I was home sick that day. Yet still hoping with a whole day of sleeping, I might be able to actually go to school that night and sit for my test. And this is a test, not a quiz, so it was a big deal.

Around 3-ish that afternoon, I was getting ready to get out of bed. Turned on the TV, and there?s wintry weather warning flashing on all the network stations. Didn?t look too good. Weather forecasters were saying that the time it would start to sleet is around 9 to 10 PM. Great, that?s the time I need to be driving back from school.

I grew up in Malaysia. The closest thing to this kind of weather was in my freezer. I used to play ?winter wonderland? in my freezer. But yes, that was the closest to wintry weather. Naturally, driving in that kind of condition would really stress me out. I have had my shares of spinning cars. Breaks won?t work if you?re sliding on a sheet of ice. I hate to be out of control.

I just had a bad feeling about driving to school that night. I just know something is going to go wrong. I also know that my teacher is probably not going to let me re-sit for the test. She?s been a tough teacher all semester long, good, but tough. But when Bruce comes back, I finally decided not to go to school. I emailed my teachers, and rationed myself into thinking that my life is much more than my grades.

At 10PM, yes, sleet was slamming down hard. There must have been about half an inch of ice encrusting my car by the next morning. My car door was sealed shut. I had to hit it with my fist until it started to crack. Took me about 30 minutes just to get into my car. I went to work the next day. Road was bad. My normal commute is 20 minutes. That morning, it took me about 45 minutes.

I thought that would be it for this winter. Oh, was I wrong.

It all started with possibly 10 inches of snow. I don?t mind that. In fact, it was kind of nice to have experience that. Midday today, forecast changed to possibly one half to a whole inch of ice. Then snow piled on top. This time only around 4 inches.

I don?t see anything yet. It?s 1:17AM Sunday morning. It?s suppose to start sleeting early Sunday morning. Anytime now maybe. Oh well, I just have to find out tomorrow. If the weather forecast was right, the peak of the ?ice age? is around 5PM. How convenient?

I have a singing rehearsal tomorrow. Guess what, at 5PM. I am not sure if it is going to get canceled. I need the rehearsal. But I don?t need to drive out in the ice. I hope it gets canceled. [fingers crossed]

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you.
Happy Chinese New Year to all of you.
We have only a few more days before the festivity ends.

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you.
We have only a few more days before the festivity ends.
No worries, Chinese people always have more celebrations to look forward to. Always have more excuses to eat some more.

ASL Playing Cards

It’s been a while since I get so active in almost everything I do.
I will be having a solo concert in November. And prior to that, I have a recording session and a performance at a fund-raising fuction in October. I am also actively involved in the Deaf community. I am very busy working on an almost impossible deadline, on a customized playing card design in ASL.

Here’s a sneak peak.

Ongline Podcast documents the life of a gay Malaysian-born Chinese American. Immerse yourself in the life of a not-so-typical individual. Expand your horizon by experiencing the topics, issues, stories, and simply, the life of a gay Asian man. Until now, the voice of a minority individual has not been this loud!