Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Let's see. As I sit here listening to a cockroach trying to crawl it's way up out of the bin, where I just zapped it with Shelltox, I am somewhat amazed at the number of things that have come to pass in the last week.

1. Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King - Watch our for a future installment
2. Wine tasting at Asiaeuro
3. Dad's Surprise 70th
4. Dad's actual birthday
5. Christmas Eve
6. Christmas Day
7. Yeen's Pre Wedding dinner
8. Yeen's & Will's and Ryan's & Yee Ping's wedding dinners
9. Bar Sa Vahn
10. Meeting new people and getting to know others
11. My cousin's ill health - very poorly

I think I'll leave it at that. Whew!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The Return of the King is one of the most powerful and faithful cinematic renditions of a book I have ever had the privilege of watching.

I just read the review in The Star. S.B. Toh writes.

First, he compares The Return of the King to Braveheart!

Braveheart is a biopic. Sort of. LOTR-ROTK is surrealistic fantasy.

Second, he actually says "... is Mr Jackson's massive and decent adaptation rife with homoeroticism?"

Say WHAT?!

Am I supposed to give him leeway because he said "decent adaptation?"

He goes on to add "Not that I have a problem with that, mind."

GOD! I'm so eternally grateful we've got an enlightened critique here. I should just fall on my knees thanking and praising the Lord because this moron has no problems with homoeroticism.

Men obviously can't be tender with each other without accusations of homoeroticism cropping up. Or so the knowledgeable Mr Toh believes.

The fact that he brought it up illustrates beautifully what sort of filters we wear when we watch a movie. Which is probably why most of us can't agree with anything. But it get's better....

"The third and final instalment is a movie for the metrosexual in us, in the way it alternates between tender male bonding moments and vigourous testosterone-fuelled postures."

Mr Toh, do us all a favour and get your mind out of your crotch and try and think for a change. Oh yes, AND do SOME homework. Or maybe I know no better and that is indeed optional when we write a story for a major English daily in Malaysia?

Tolkien's book, when taken at face value, like 90% of us do, is a fantastic read. It has parts which could charitably be called, ponderous. But the entire style of the book switches from pastoral to stylised and back again without you realising it until you've finished all 3 tomes. But in my humble opinion, the fact that warriors do fall back on each other during times of battle, for support, and yes, for platonic love does not make it homoerotic. Except perhaps in Mr Toh's most fevered imaginings.

Further on in his "critique," if it could be called that, he goes on to mention that Tolkien's saga is many things, among them, an elegy for a passing era of nobility as represented by the elves, making way for the bourgeousie as represented by the era of the mortal man, and an "escape into the tranquility of pastoral England as a reaction against rampant industrialisation at the time.

Well, Mr Toh, I must certainly say that you seem to know Tolkien intimately, to have the arrogance to actually speculate on the great author's state of mind while writing this "critique."

With his closing paragraph, he continues to miss the point with "...the painted on mask and the bunting on his flanks, he is but a Beijing Opera performer remodelled," in reference to the mahout on the Oliphaunt.

But that IS the whole point! When you read the book you realised that the way it is written seems to signify a highly stylised dance, chase and fight, in parts. If that isn't opera, what is?

And with a final flourish of martyrdom, he closes "But pay no heed, please, Enjoy."

You're right Mr Toh. At long last!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

And here we are.

On the cusp of another Christmas and New Year.

It's almost as if, all the stuff that happened this year were on some accelerated time scale.

I remember Chinese New Year this year...and then it was exactly like a DVD movie being fast forwarded scene by scene. And next thing, I'm sitting here writing this blog, sparing time I don't have.

I'm not complaining. I'm just observing with morbid astonishment how time can fly when you're busy.

Allan and I have finally fallen into some form of routine and being partners as well as business partners can take its toll.

But I think we're coping with it very well and trying to build a life together is a goal which figures largely in my list of priorities. I have told him that the business is all well and good but if push came to shove I'd leave the business to protect our relationship. He's my heart and conscience and there's no way I'm going to risk that.

My Dad's 70th birthday is coming up and we're in the throes of organising it at the moment. We've got all the hard stuff ready for the weekend. Like Wine, Whisky, 1 bottle of Tequila, and food. Canopies and decorations are taken care of as well.

Looking forward to it.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Got a frantic (ok, I'm embellishing) phone call from Angie on Friday.

Apparently, they'd left it to quite the last minute and it turned out that tickets for the Phillips International Jazz Festival thingy were sold out.

Quite coinkidinkally, at the time I received the call, I was just heading out to pick Paul up and go prep for the bbq and at the back of my mind was this thing about picking up tickets for the show.

A couple of quick phone calls later and tickets secured, Angie was I believe, relieved and reassured that they wouldn't be coming up to KL for nothing. She mentioned that 4 people would be coming with her. More on that later.

The BBQ on Friday night was lovely and we even had a bit of a sing along with Lew on the Piano and Paul videoing (is that a word?) us.

Saturday night was the clincher though.

I was running late, as is my wont, and when I almost breathlessly ran into the shop, Angie and her 4 boys were waiting there. Thank God they had just arrived and were sampling our rum balls.

And here's the rub...I hadn't expected her boys to be so young. I should mention at this point that I think Angie's done a marvelous job in promoting young talent in A cappella. The average age interested in A cappella in Singapore is WAY lower than what it is here. Angie actually goes to schools to do workshops and teach. Fantastic! What a passion!

Angie's lads', as they shall forever be called, were well mannered, polite, and mature beyond their years. Really fun to hang with. Allan loved it. I don't think I've ever mentioned before but Allan has an affinity for youth. He knows how to relate to them and he's unflinching when it comes to the truth. Which I think they appreciate. Rather than talking down to them, he knows how to talk with them. A very great difference and something I admire in him. As he puts it "treat them like adults."

Bryant, Jer (so nicknamed because there was another "Jeremy"), Jeremy, and Hao Ren had this Acappella group with another who could not make it this time round. The name; SWAT! They told me what it stood for but damned if I can remember now.

After the relative fiasco of the Jazz Festival which was anything but, we all went out and had supper. They loved our Rum Balls so we promised to get some to them the next day, Sunday.

By the time they were dropped off at the Bus station on Sunday, I think we had made some fast friends and I know I for one, thoroughly enjoyed their company. From Angie to the boys. I also know that Allan and I are looking forward to seeing them again in the not too distant future. We're in the process of thinking about going to Singapore to perform and hopefully the next time we see them, we will be doing just that.

Hmmm, that Jazz Festival.

Everyone I met felt that the Jazz Festival was misnamed. It should have been something like "Concert In the Park." After Idea of North opened it was downhill all the way. Did I mention that Idea of North were absolutely superb? As good as our benchmark, The Song Company. And I'd love to learn how to use mikes.

As I mentioned, after Idea of North, came Krakatau. World Music by any charitable definition. Then Camellia. hmmm. Ballads anyone? Then Ning. To my mind, there was this HUGE break from any sort of Jazz music until we got to Ning, who did well but she's really more a Soul and R&B singer. The Sheila came on and saved the day and promptly went on to this group called Silk. World Music again. The night finished with Anggun who by dint of her star power and vamping saved the night. But was she jazz? NO!

I have half a mind to write to Philips and Light & Easy, the sponsoring radio station and point that out.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Allan and I were just running through our schedules for the next few weeks.

Surprise, surprise, surprise (as made famous by Gomer Pyle ), it turns out that our next few months were totally mapped out.

Sigh! On the one hand I love being busy. On the other hand, I sometimes feel like events run away with us.

Our friend Chris is in Sydney for a job interview. All the best babe!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy


It's so easy to let things slide and the next thing you know it's days and weeks since you last blogged.

Let's start at Raya.

Great fun! Went to 2 open houses - Dian's & Ina's and my cousin's - and ate ourselves silly. What's new? I'm inflating again. I can feel it and see it. Time to get back to the gym. I know I keep on saying this but there's this visceral urge coming on again.

Sigh...it's a constant battle to keep a, well, somewhat "girlish" figure! ;-)

The best part was meeting up with Chas Sweeting at Dian's & Ina's open house. How surprised was I when he walked in. He's someone I knew when I was in boarding school in the UK. Being junior to me, you didn't keep company with the sprogs too much. It was unseemly, according to the warped hierarchy of the time. But he's a really nice bloke. And girls, and some guys I'm sure, consider him good looking! ;-) Very active in snow boarding and all sorts of action oriented sports has kept him fit. Exchanged numbers, emails etc and have vowed to get together for a potluck or something.

After Raya, The Pitches upped and went down to Singapore sans 3 of our merry band. At the last minute too. I was rather peeved about 1 of them especially because there was absolutely enough time to get some administrative work done before they left. And there didn't seem to be a concerted effort in that direction. But hey, it was their right to do so!

Fabulous weekend of shopping, eating and just hanging out with people you love. What could be better!

The reason for going was really to attend the Swingle Singers concert. I was severely "underwhelmed." There were some highlights. And I had fun. But I've heard better.

We also took the opportunity to meet up with Angie Choo, who is the President of the Acappella Society of Singapore. She was absolutely lovely and I totally liked her the moment I met her. I know Allan did too. Having sung Dahil Saiyo, which in retrospect was really not that great a song to sing when you're in front of a group for the first time, we were warmly welcomed and sat with them for a run through of "Only You."

All of a sudden though, I see everyone walking for the door. I was like "SHIT!" and followed suit. Turns out that a couple of our merry band had other commitments and wanted to leave.

I know that a few of us felt really bad for walking out of the Vocal Jam so precipitously and I shall apologise to her when I see her next. Which hopefully, is in the next week or so. She's coming up for the Philips International Jazz Festival with some friends.

Lovely to make new friends.