Lights…

It was some two weeks ago when there was a blackout here in Sibu. It was not very long, less than two hours from around 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. and it was still bright at the time so we could go outside where it was cooler but when that happens in the night, even though there may be the pleasant night breeze outside, one would have to fight with the mosquitoes and whatever that would be lurking in the dark.

Two days later, it happened again early in the night around 7.00 p.m. but that one was quite brief, around half an hour only, thank God!

I have the electricity board’s technical assistance number on speed dial so everytime that happened, I would call them right away. One had to be fast or one would never be able to get through – the line would be engaged and I wouldn’t know if some other people were calling or they just left the receiver off the hook. Tsk! Tsk!

These days, when you call that number, you would get through to their customer service and firstly, the answering machine would tell you to press 1 for English, 2 for Malay…and then if you want to report a blackout, you would need to press a certain number and so on and so forth. Finally, when all that has been done, they will tell you, “Sorry, all our lines are busy. Please hold!” So you would have to wait and wait and wait and listen to some horrible music and I was thinking, perhaps they should play some relevant songs instead like this one, for instance…

If I am not wrong, the people running that service are in Kuching and they would ask and say a lot of things and at the end of it all, they would just tell you that they would inform the people concerned. When? Don’t ask me…but what I can tell you is that if you are calling on your mobile, that would cost you quite a bit. Thankfully, I have free landline calls using the complimentary cordless phone that came with my internet package so go ahead – say what you want, take your time!

Coming back to the blackout, I was thinking of buying a fan that would run on rechargeable battery. I bought this one…

Emergency fan & light
*Archive photo*

…some two years ago for my girl to take to her school in the jungle. They have electricity there but are dependent on generators and those would break down sometimes. Thankfully, there had not been any need to use it and one fine day, she told me it was not working anymore. I heard somewhere that these things have to be used regularly or they would just call it quits for no reason whatsoever. Ah well! What can one expect for RM15.00 only and from something made in China some more? For this very reason, I did not want to get one of the same for her or for myself.

I remember seeing a box fan with a fluorescent light by the side at a shop in Selangau that time when my girl first went over to teach in one of the schools in that district…and I was looking and thinking of buying one for her but the mum went nag…nag…nag…so I just walked away and abandoned the whole idea. I was contemplating on going back there to see if they would still be selling it there but in the meantime, I decided to drop by the electrical shop a few doors away when we went here for lunch (we were there early, around one hour before opening time) that day and yes, they had this…

Fan

…tagged at RM145.00 but they were willing to let me have it for RM125.00. I told them I would be getting two and they reduced it further to RM120.00 each.

It is made in China too but these days, what isn’t? For one thing, you will only use it in the event of a blackout, sitting right in front of the 12-inch fan…

12-inch

…enjoying the wind while waiting for power to be restored and if it is in the night, there are these LED lights as well…

Lights

…so you would not be sitting in the dark and I do think it would be quite safe since it will not be running on electricity, just the battery in it. For one thing, it is very quiet unlike the aforementioned cheap one – I used that when there was a blackout before my girl took it to her school and I wanted to have a nap but the noise was so loud that it kept me awake the whole time. I guess when something is THAT cheap, one has no cause for complaint.

Of course, this one needs recharging as well! According to the manual, full recharging the first time would take some 12-15 hours and even if you do not use it, you would need to recharge for around 8 hours every 3 months. When it is recharging, the red light…

Charging

…will come on and according to the people at the shop, it will go off when fully recharged. So far we have not waited that long to see it happen. LOL!!!

Well, if anyone is interested in getting one…

Fan, in box

…as well, you can drop by the electrical shop at Laichee Lane here (2.290842, 111.829440) to see if they have any more stock. I hear blackouts are a lot more frequent in Kuching and Miri and a lot worse in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah…and thank God for small mercies, it isn’t so bad here but still, it pays to be prepared. In Malay, there is a saying, “Sediakan payung sebelum hujan!” (Get ready the umbrella before it rains!)

My woman, my woman, my wife…

I wonder how many of you know this song…

– one of my old-time favourites! I love the pleasantly soothing melody and the beautiful lyrics in particular.

Well, if you’re wondering about the relevance, it was my missus’ birthday last Friday and of course, we had to have the longevity noodles, the mee sua, in chicken soup with our traditional Foochow red wine…

Birthday longevity noodles

…first thing in the morning and no, Ken, we did not miss out the eggs and I had TWO of them! LOL!!!

I went out and bought a cake for her…

Birthday cake 1

…from this bakery – I wanted the Black Bavaria that my friend gave me for my birthday once and it was very nice but they did not have it that morning so I settled for this one…

Birthday cake 2

…something with hazelnut, lots of that in the cream in between the layers.

Our girl was coming home that afternoon and we waited for her so my missus could cut the cake with all of us together, singing the birthday song and all. It was very nice – not sweet at all and very light and since it was small, maybe a 6-inch square only, we did not have to struggle to finish the whole thing.

That evening, we went out for dinner here…

Ming Mei Shi Restaurant, new premises

This used to be one of our favourite Chinese restaurants in town – they have moved to their new own-owned premises now but that will have to wait till the next post. Stick around!

The end of it all…

They will announce the winner of the last season of this reality singing competition…

The final season

…today, Friday morning here and Thursday night in the USA after 15 seasons.

We did not get to see the first two seasons when the show started in 2002 as we did not have the show on the local television stations in our country at the time. That meant that we did not get to see the first-ever winner, Kelly Clarkson, one of the most successful of the lot, who gave this heart-wrenching performance when she guest-starred in one of the shows in this final season…and of course, we did not get to see Ruben Studdard either, who despite the win after beating Clay Aiken to second place, never really got off the ground.

Yes, after so many years, so many have won and so many have not managed to make it big in the music world and looking at some of those voted to become the winners, I certainly am not surprised as most, in my opinion, were really quite forgettable. On the other hand, there were others that I thought were really good but they were unceremoniously booted out, many even before they got anywhere near the finals.

So what about you? Have you watched the show at sometime or another? Who do you remember? Any memorable performances? I must say I do have a few like this one, for instance…

…who lost to the other guy by that same name in the finale.

I don’t think many would remember this lady…

…who was up against the likes of the eventual winner, Fantasia Barrino and also the very successful, Jennifer Hudson and this guy didn’t make it into the grand finale either…

…in Season 5 but he was on the recent Fox Live musical, The Passion, aired on Palm Sunday, playing the part of Judas Iscariot. Well, like many of the rest, he did not need to win either as he did have an impressive track record after he dropped out of the competition…and the same goes to this guy…

…that I was quite sure would win that year but didn’t…and how could this Filipino power pack of talent…

…not win? Tsk! Tsk!

Towards the later years, I did not watch the show that faithfully like I did initially and I do know of many who stopped following it as well, many out of frustration that some of the really good ones did not win or worse, were kicked out early in the show.

However, I did keep up with the updates online and I did watch some of the clips on youtube…and now that it has come to an end, I must say that I do feel a little sad but then again, there are lots of shows along these same lines here, there and everywhere all over the world. After all, as in the words of William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

The movie in my mind…

In my post on the fun fair here in town the other day, the discussion in some of the comments gave mention to some of the amusement parks in Singapore going way back to a long long time ago. I was quite sure that the fair was no longer active at Great World when I was there in 1973 but it says here in wiki that it was not till 1978 that they actually closed it down.

One thing that I can remember for sure was that there was a cinema in that amusement park, the Globe, showing reruns of old movies that I had missed when I was in school as I was not allowed to attend most of the good shows that hit the silver screen at the time on school days and one that I clearly remember was this one – S.W.A.L.K Melody and my favourite song from the soundtrack…

Now that we are on the topic of the old cinemas in Singapore, I remember going to the Lido along Orchard Road/Scotts Road to watch this movie from which this theme song was taken from…

…but that was not in 1973. I think it was the end of 1969 or early 1970 when I visited Singapore for the first time. Of course, while I was there 1973/74, I did see a lot of movies at a number of the cinemas there including the Orchard at Grange Road and the movie and theme song that has stayed in my mind all these years would be this one…

Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-coloured memories of the way we were…

Ah yes!!! I remember I went to the Jurong Drive-in too but I cannot remember what movie we watched that night…and of course I went to shows at the Cathay as well…and the Capitol – I remember the little coffee house/ice cream palour beside its entrance along North Bridge Road and yes, there was the Odeon at North Bridge Road where I watched the Poseidon Adventure and it was around that time, I think it was the following day that we received news of this tragedy at the mouth of the Rejang River…and I think it was at the Odeon too that I saw The Towering Inferno and when I came out of the cinema, there was a massive fire at some of the rows of old shophouses in the vicinity. Talk about coincidences!

I do not go to the movies anymore these days not at those prices one would need to fork out to see one. Why, they are no longer called cinemas. Now, they have cineplexes or the one here in Sibu is a trioplex – with three halls. I think there are others elsewhere with a lot more and trying to buy a ticket can be quite a pain especially if there is a box office hit showing at the same time…and one would have to be careful not to buy a ticket for the wrong movie. Oh dear!!! Needless to say, you would be hard-pressed to ever get to see something like this outside…

Kacang stall outside Penang cinema
*Archive photo*

– something some of us may remember, a regular feature outside some cinemas around at the time.

What about you? Is there any movie that you hold dear to your heart, memories of when you watched it at a cinema…

Cathay cinema Kuching
*Archive photo*

…a long long time ago?

Scarborough Fair…

No, I did not go to Scarborough nor did I go to any fair, just that the lyrics of the song go like this:
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme

and that day, when I wanted to cook a slab of salmon that I had in the freezer, I rubbed the skin with some salt and pepper and some rosemary and thyme…

Salmon

…and that brought the second line in the wordings to mind but no, I did not use any parsley or sage even though I do have those two spices in my rack.

I bought two pieces of the fish here, one a little smaller – around two-thirds of this one, I think – sometime ago before our Chap Goh Meh steamboat dinner. I can’t remember how much they cost now but the most expensive item in the list that day was the box of mussels, RM35.00, which was quite reasonable as there were so many of them in it so my guess is that the two pieces of salmon cost a little less than that.

Well, if we go for a salmon dish outside, it may cost a bomb like this one that my girl had once, RM38.00 and it was burnt, the skin part, that is…

Burnt salmon
*Archive photo*

…and this slice at the since-closed-down place…

Salmon dish
*Archive photo*

…set me back by RM39.90 so it certainly makes a lot more sense to go and buy and cook our own.

Well, the problem is quite frankly, I did not know how to cook the fish as I had never cooked it before so I went and watch a video clip on youtube. It seemed that after drying it well, I would have to fry it skin side down in hot oil…

Frying

…and in the meantime, I would have to splash the oil onto the top side to cook it. Once the skin was crispy enough and nicely done, I had to move the fish to let it stand and cook a bit on its sides and that was it!

I was afraid that it would be overcooked…

Salmon, served

…and my girl would not like that. That was what happened when the mum cooked the other slice prior to this. We’re so used to deep-frying ikan bawal (pomfret), kembong or whatever – just throw in and let it fry!

I thought the top half did look a little too well-done…

Top half

…but the bottom section seemed quite o.k…

Bottom half

Well, my girl had that for her dinner and she loved the crispy skin and she said no, it was not overcooked, just nice. Phewwwwwww!!! However, we could not detect the scent or fragrance of the rosemary and thyme…unfortunately.

I still had three of the mussels left so I cut them into halves to fry some thinly-sliced leek with egg…

Fried leek with mussels and egg

…and yes, it was very nice. This one wasn’t much of a problem, not at all.

I think I’ve cooked all that I bought before Chinese New Year and Chap Goh Meh now…finally!

The only thing that matters…

If you were a teenager or in your twenties in the 70’s, you would probably know this rock band that took its name from a character in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. No, I was not into their songs, hits or otherwise, until I heard this one…

…which has remained a favourite of mine to this day.

Indeed, I was surprised to come across a contestant in a local talent show a couple of years ago named Uriah, pronounced you-rai-yah, and boy was he good! Of course he won in the end – the Astro Star Quest Chinese Singing Competition that year. This handsome young man…

Uriah See live in Sibu 1

…from Pontian, Johore whose mother, a piano music teacher, came from Sabah here in East Malaysia, went on to win the TVB International Chinese New Talent Singing Championship in Hong Kong that same year, beating the best from China, the US, Australia, Singapore, Canada and New Zealand. Now that was quite an accomplishment wasn’t it?

I saw some fishtail banners along the roads here publicising his show last Friday and it was in the newspapers too so when my girl came home that afternoon, I asked her if she would want to go and watch and she did – this would be a welcome change from our usual routine, a chance for her to unwind and relax a bit after the dreary and gruelling week at her school…so there we were that night for his live performance at a mall…

Uriah See live in Sibu 2

…in town. Gee!!! The last time I saw a singer perform live at a mall was Singapore’s Tracy Huang way back in 1973 at one place along Orchard Road, just imagine that!

Uriah kicked off his show with the rousing theme song from the movie Ola Bola. I didn’t know this one, only this slower one by Sarawak’s own Zee Avi, that was on television day in, day out way before the movie was released – it was screened during Chinese New Year and by the time I was free to go and watch, it wasn’t showing anymore. That’s how it is here in Sibu. Those genres that I like will never get shown here and if they do, it will not be for long.

This was the very pretty and eloquent emcee…

Uriah See live in Sibu 3

…for the show and for his second number, Uriah did a really impressive cover of Josh Groban’s You raise me up

Uriah See live in Sibu 4

…followed by his rendition of John Legend’s hit, All of me

– one of the songs that he sang in the competition on television.

He also played the violin…

Uriah See live in Sibu 5

…when he sang his own original composition, The only thing that matters, the Mandarin version…

Incidentally, the  music video was filmed on location in Melbourne, Australia.

I was kind of disappointed he did not sing it in English…

– he penned the lyrics for this one himself, available online on amazon.co.uk…but never mind, we certainly enjoyed the one-hour performance that night. If he were to come for a full concert, I certainly would love to go and enjoy more of the very nice songs…

…from this very talented young man.

Grease…

I saw the movie in KL many many years ago. I think it was 1978 and an embarrassing thing happened.  I managed to find my way to Bukit Bintang and there I went looking for the Cathay Cinema. I walked and walked but there was no sign of the place and I decided to stop a young Indian girl to ask where the cinema was. She stared at me with that strange look on her face, turned and walked away. “Gee!” I thought, “KL girls sure are unfriendly!”

I continued walking and just a few steps away, there it was! The cinema that I was searching for. No wonder the girl reacted that way. She probably thought I was trying to be fresh or something as the cinema was right round the corner. Well, I got to watch the movie for the first time there…and yes, I watched it again when it came to Sibu and a lot more times after that…and never failed to enjoy it again and again.

Fast forward to 1994, I managed to get to watch the stage musical at the Dominion Theatre at West End, London…

Grease at West End, London 1

It was truly an unforgettable experience. Everyone knew the words to the songs and were singing along and many even got up and danced…

Grease at West End London 2

Debbie Gibson was Sandy in that one – those of you who are older (though not as old as I am) would remember her in “Lost in your eyes” that was a hit around here in the 80’s.

Well, Fox did a remake of the musical on Sunday, January 31st (Monday, 1st February here) and the live telecast certainly was very well-received with a whole lot of raving reviews in the mass media. I have not seen the whole thing but as far as the songs go, I personally feel that there are a few hits like this one…

…and this one that made me want to get up and dance (…as if I still could! Sobsss!!!) and this was very good too…

Unfortunately, when it was time for the song that I liked best in the show (one of my regular karaoke favourites)…

…the sound was a little off but I still enjoyed it a lot.

On the down side, I like Frankie Valli’s rendition of the theme song a lot more than Jessis J’s and I did not think Boyz II Men did a better job than Frankie Avalon while this, in my opinion, paled in comparison to Sha Na Na’s livelier rendition of the song…and I prefer Travolta and Olivia’s to this one…

…plus the fact that the lips were totally out of sync with the lyrics of the song sure did not help one bit but I would say that Julianne Hough sure made a really pretty Sandy, as pretty or maybe even more so than Olivia…and by the way, fans of Mario Lopez would be delighted to see him in the show as Vince Fontaine. I wonder if he would make a better Danny Zuko.

We do have a couple of Fox channels on our satelite tv here but I don’t think we could get to watch this here. Well, if they ever get to show it anytime soon, I sure wouldn’t want to miss it. What about you?