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

Matt, Matt, Matt...

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Matthew McConaughey's career must be in something of slump.

Matt, Matt, Matt...

Stetson Cologne?

Running A Society

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's going to be a challenge to be on the Phil committee this year.

After working with a group of strong minded people in WP for 3 years I've come to see that everything's a balancing act. That's not to say you give in and compromise principles when you're pushed against a wall but how do you balance varying opinions so that eventually what the leadership feels is correct to do, is done?

I hope to contribute some of my experience and talents to the process but I'm under no delusions that I will be able to go as far as I'd like with this. Since everything is voluntary in a society like the Phil, egos need to be massaged, irrelevant opinions need to be listened to and above all an attitude of "let's work it out" needs to be maintained at all times.

People generally do have valid anxieties and concerns. Listening to them and listening to those concerns is going to be job 1. I'm going to have learn to really LISTEN to what people are trying to say instead of what they are actually saying because most people tell you of their worry/fear/anxiety instead of what's causing it. I've found that when you can understand the root cause, you can then begin to address that in any number of ways without giving up your objective.

The Phil is 50 in 4 years. How can I contribute to its growth and expansion?

Breakup Babe

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Wow! Breakup Babe got a book deal from Random House.

Post Holiday Blues

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Had a wonderful 5 days up in Cameron Highlands.

It was just absolutely lovely to enjoy some cool weather, wake up feeling cold in the morning and just spend your days hiking, cooking, playing mahjong and loving your loved ones. :-)

Oh yes, hiking...

Actually, climbed up - in parts on all fours - one of the higher peaks of the Tahan Range called Jasar Mountain. All 1,700m of it.

OK, so it's sentimental but it was a much needed "stop and smell the roses" moment.

The Bungalow was gorgeous, set in about 2 acres of lands and beautiful landscaped gardens full of Cymbidium orchids, snap dragons, Goldenrods, Chrysanthemums, Calla Lillies, you name it. There was a snap to the air and it brought back a spring to your step.

In a way, I'm glad we're back. It leaves me looking forward to the next time we go.

Selamat Deepa Raya

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

To all my Hindu and Muslim friends, Happy Deepavali or Happy Diwali and Selamat Hari Raya!

I'm a proud Northeastern Liberal

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy


Nuff said!

Phil Christmas Choir

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Colin Kirton is conducting our Christmas Phil Choir.

I am impressed.

For a drama guy who’s conducting the choir, he’s very good. OK, one can get picky about his conducting and say that he doesn’t really know how to flap his arms like a real conductor but since I’m also a part time singer, I can’t complain with his results.

As much as he has to get used to us, we have to get used to him. In terms of how we sound, we actually sound very good. As good as I’ve ever heard the Phil sound. And the best part is, he’s actually getting people to drop their scores. Once you do that, you’ve pretty much pushed the choir to a point where they can then FEEL the music and adding dynamics then becomes a lot easier.

The other part of his conducting which I thoroughly enjoy is the fact that he is sooooooo organized. He’s working with a part time choir and I think kudos to him for being able to pull it together in such a short time. 4 rehearsals and we’re dropping music.

That’s amazing!

Bravo to Colin.

The Phil

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Had fun at the Phil AGM last night.

However, I don't think people generally know what they want to do.

Maybe I'm reading too much into Catherine's resignation as Chairman during the Philharmonic Society of Selangor's AGM on Sat night.

She sounded frustrated and worn.

I think she's done a marvelous job but really, the Chairman's job in running an organisation like the Phil is perhaps tougher than running a large corporation.

To a large extent, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you try to push forward, there are those who will say "but that's not inclusive and not what the Phil is about." If you DON'T move forward, you have the problem that the young ones just lose interest and don't come back.

It was summed up in what someone said about an old hand not being picked for the Christmas choir. It was mentioned that the committee was not being inclusive and that it was not the way things were done. Someone intimately involved with the Phil replied that they left it to the conductor in charge of the Phil for Christmas to choose as they are trying to upgrade the choir.

I also accepted nomination for a seat on the committee. I was voted in. I felt that after saying so much in an email to the egroups, I should at the very least contribute some measure of my time to improve matters. Put my money where my mouth is so to speak.

All I know is that trying to please people should never be an aim or a goal. You can only do your best. Do what is right and people will eventually see that it was the right thing to do.

As the World Turns

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The title of this popular daytime soap is, I feel, extremely apropo for these few days after the most divisive US election in recent history.

George Bush has been making all the right noises. But then again, he made all the right noises immediately after the last election too. The one in which the American people didn't even vote for him. The one which to my mind makes a mockery of the democracy they say they espouse. Come on, in which modern democracy do you have an elected leader who LOSES the popular vote?

Anyway, that's ancient history.

The Democrats are predictably glum but I feel that this was a blessing in disguise for them. They need to field someone like Bill Clinton again. Not just a great thinker but also a great communicator. Pundit's are already talk about Hilary Rodham Clinton running in 2008. If they can sell her to the Bible Belt and the midwestern states, they would have achieved something.

I've always wondered whether they have their elections so close to each other just to keep the economy going. They spent $4 Billion on this last one. At least in terms of what was declared.

Osama Bin Laden got what he wanted. An excuse (that's Bush if you didn't know) to continue his attacks on "The Great Satan."

And through all this, the world continues to turn.

Isn't life grand? :-)

The most important election ever?

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's amazing.

The amount of world attention the United States is receiving for it's election of it's next President.

Vilified, bruised, battered but pretending that nothing bothers him, a seeming garden gnome of a man in the form of George Bush still has victory within his grasp in one of the most venomous elections the United States has ever seen.

If the world were to vote, John Kerry would be a shoe in. Pity the world's not voting. I cannot say enough about how hateful this present US President is. He's myopic, self-righteous, bumbling, and has made ignorance a virtue. On the other hand he is everything a majority of Americans like; folksy, seems down to earth, doesn't use big words, and seems like a guy you could have a cup of coffee with.

No matter what we all think however, the world will continue to turn no matter who is in the White House.

The Da Vinci Code

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Wow! This book has been keeping me up these last few nights.

It's extremely fast paced and some chapters are as short as 3/4s of a page.

In essence, this book revolves around a mysterious murder with messages being left behind by the victim in the final moments of the victim's life. The entire book takes off from there.

I wouldn't say that the book uses very elegant language and the author certainly is didactic and obvious in parts. Dialogue between the protagonist and his book editor referencing the bestselling book of all time gets the witty retort about Harry Potter. As if that is not enough, the protagonist replies "I'm referring to the Bible."

The scope is huge and takes in 1000 years of history in ts 400 to 500 pages.

Not being well read enough to comment on the accuracy of the facts, I suspect that the author was a little loose with the truth when he said “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents,and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” Not to say he lied, but with Jesus and the Bible and historical accuracy often playing second fiddle to faith based reporting and writing, I suspect that he chose versions of the truth to add drama to the novel.

If you can start from that premise, The Da Vinci Code is an excellent read. Fast paced, entertaining, and a great book to pick up bits of trivia. For example, did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci was homosexual? And that his rendition of the Last Supper actually has a woman (speculated to be Mary Magdalene) on his right? And symbolism and religious imagery of the time being what it was, I've since discovered (by doing some internet research of my own)that this was the Maestro's way of thumbing his nose at the Catholic Church.

Having said that, much of the speculation of the Catholic Church suppressing the "sacred feminine" (remember this phrase;it get's used a LOT in the book) I take to be true.

Anyway, my socio-political leanings aside, pick up the book and read it. You won't regret it.