2014? Okay, fine.

I realise that I rant a lot on Facebook…so much so that it’s slightly unbecoming. But, lo and behold, I’d like to share my New Year’s rant with you. May it not damper your spirits, and may you still have a very Happy New Year.

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I often like to think that each step we take leads to the possibility of greatness – I mean, it’s true, isn’t it? Some of us take the whole idea of rejuvenation and renewal seriously when it comes to approaching a new year. But, for me, I reckon that I need to set my mind to a point where it really approaches stepping into January 1, 2014 as just another day that just happens to be a day off. 

There’s no need for renewal or resolutions, or to break the tether from 2013. There’s no need for heavy-handedness in proving that you’ll be a better person, or that you’re so lacking in depth that you’re going to fill a hole to prove that you’re NOT. The fact that you’ve already achieved so much the last 365 days should be tantamount to you feeling that everything’s okay. I mean, you’re still ALIVE. Wrap your head around that.

But, yes, climb that mountain, lose that weight, quit that smoking, buy that house, trim that beard, propose to that girl, bathe for once, brush your teeth more, stretch a bit more, eat less carbs, eat more carbs, get a makeover, pop your cherry, eat more cherries, have a blast. Don’t do all these things because you feel obliged in the name of ‘renewal’. Do it because you want to. Because you HAVE to. Because you’d probably regret not doing them down the line.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that. But y’know, as smarmy as it sounds, as selfish as it may be to say – I’m going to be alright. And so are you.

So lighten up.

Cutie And The Boxer

Cutie And The Boxer

 

I’m not a purveyor of good taste, but I really do encourage you to watch Cutie And The Boxer if you haven’t done so yet. The documentary shares the life of Noriko and Ushio Shinohara, a married couple of over 40 years who are celebrated, but struggling, artists in New York City. Ushio is 80, and has been residing in NYC since the early 70s, while Noriko was the young, impressionable art student from Japan that he seduced and made his conquest.

The film highlights their life as a couple, while also tracks their constant challenge to survive as artists today. Noriko’s tale is the true heart of the story, as she recounts her dreams of becoming a full-fledged artist, only to have them take a backseat due to unexpectedly becoming a wife and mother. Old documentary footage featured shows Ushio to be a very volatile, irresponsible figure when he was younger – and it gets relatively sadder, as his maverick, devil-may-care artsy attitude threatened to tear away at what little they had.

Luckily, things end of a high note – despite the pitfalls, Noriko and Ushio truly belong together. He obviously NEEDS her, and the tables have turned for quite some time, as she’s more than wisened up on how to keep her brilliant, yet troubled, husband in check while fulfilling her own ambitions.

Cutie And The Boxer shows that mad, self-anointed geniuses out there never truly carry the brunt of their burden – they leave the heavy lifting to those closest around them, who sometimes have no choice but to be obligated to do so. It’s proof that you can always find strength and resilience in what you do if you love it enough – in this case, Ushio and Noriko agree that art would bind them. The obstacles they faced were a lifelong struggle – not just a momentary whinge or speed bump.

I’ve been craving to see this ever since I first saw its preview, and I’m more than glad I have. (It also boasts a strangely devilish end credit sequence.) It’s beautifully shot, and doesn’t feel like it’s cliche-filled with false nostalgia. This is a genuine love story that everyone can be inspired by.

In part, this is also a shoutout for those women who stand by their (somewhat cranktankerous) men. And it might make the men a wee bit more appreciative of their better halves (if they’re not so already).

“Love is Roar-r-r-r!”

Give it a shot.

Heartthrob.

teganandsara-collarsSMI’ve been re-listening to a good deal of Tegan & Sara’s Heartthrob. I’d listened to it when it first came out, but I’ll be covering it for review purposes, and I have to say, I probably appreciate it more than when it first came out. It sounds incredibly vast and airy, and it’d be interesting to see where they go to from here.

Cheers to the best hot twin lesbian sister act in rockdom.

I Heard The Herd.

Bit of humour thrown into the mix, as Chinese folks answered the question of what they REALLY wanted in life.

On May 8th, an incredibly large amount of Malaysians trudged to the Kelana Jaya stadium in Petaling Jaya to show their support for the nation’s political Opposition. I was amongst them. I wanted to hear if the Pakatan Rakyat coalition had a plan to harness the power of the people to see that the newly-appointed, ruling Government would pay for the fraud that it pulled off during the recently concluded 13th General Elections just three days prior to the rally.

It didn’t.

At least, it seemed that way to me. Speaker after speaker took the stage to reiterate, rinse and repeat the rhetoric that the Government was being a cheat, that the Prime Minister had to step down, and that the nation’s Election Commission needed a severe overhaul, whilst also calling for its Chairman to step down.

Now, I’m a simpleton, and I get bored very easily. My attention span is such that — anyway, it was the same message drilled into our heads. Now, there were people who were lapping it up, and I can understand why. People were gathered there to find a common ground — and they did. But my innocent curiousity was not piqued [I had voted for the Opposition, by the way], and my friend and I who had gone to listen felt a bit underwhelmed.

 

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Stadium

Is groupthink more pervasive now in the way that we view things than five years ago?

After everything that’s happened between the 12th and 13th General Elections, the Government has blundered its way through scandal after scandal. There’s a form of widespread anti-Government hysteria going round, and it’s hit a fever pitch. A casual glance at your social media feeds will already show you this. After more than a week, there’s still enough user-generated content to last for a long while more.

All this is fair and good, but now we’re getting more and more people who actively share content without properly verifying and validating what it is they’re sharing. The time for conscientious media consumption is over, I suppose. More and more of us are starting to become even more polarised, and the middle ground isn’t sacred anymore — in fact, it’s starting to erode away.

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Can the younger bunch take  any of this seriously?

There’s a wealth of untapped voters when you consider young Malaysians who haven’t come of age yet. I saw a younger set of people all around me at the rally, and it sort of momentarily freaked me out in the sense that they were treating it like a massive social event: kawaii posing, peace signs and a heap of Instagramming a-plenty. I don’t mind it that much, but it honestly made me wonder about how well informed they were about the issues at hand, or if they knew why the rally was being organised the first place.

I mean, yes, it’s good that there’s some sort of populist angle there to get them hooked on it, but the amount of political slacktivism that rampant social media sharing has garnered might devalue their presence there. I’m just saying that we, the old farts [I can’t believe I’m labeling myself as this] have to take it upon ourselves to try to sort give a bit of levelheadedness towards everything that’s being said.

Cooler heads will prevail, and as condescending as I might be sounding, we need to breathe a bit.

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What’s the plan, then?

I’m just a bit peeved that I felt that my time was wasted at the rally. It was hastily organised, and you could tell — there wasn’t a proper route out of the stadium grounds [it was a tight squeeze to leave the inner workings of the place, from the field to the rafters]. People were edgy, and despite coming together for a unifying cause, I could see people scuffling about.

There were also encouraging signs. It’s always good to have throngs and throngs of people coming together and sharing positive vibes. And I’m all for that. My only issue is that there was no real plan. No agenda. No statement of intent. Nothing. Just a constant stream of chanting. It came to a point where I couldn’t hear anything anymore, though that was equally attributed to a lackluster sound system and a riled-up crowd.

I just wish that more could have been done. Something meatier, without the fat. I know that it was only 3 days after the election, but I’m quite convinced that the powers-that-be in the Opposition would already have been able to cook something up for us to sip on. Anything, really.

Are we going to start seeding out vote counters and election staff in the next election? Are we going to embark on some rural community outreach to explain why we want to vote for the Other Guy? What can we start formulating on to ensure that the majority doesn’t embark on another round of election fraud in the future? There’s no time like the present for the Opposition to tackle these problems. A blueprint should have been kickstarted on the night the power got blacked out.

We’re impatient. We need a solution: now.

[Yes, I know I’m harbouring on being a pure irritant, but it’s only because I have faith in the Opposition to provide hard, fast, final solutions in a jiff.]

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All in all, most people around you would probably state that they went to the 508 rally and loved it immensely.

Me? I felt like was the donkey that was being ridden hard, without a carrot dangling. Come on. At least give me a carrot.