Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hearts on BigBig Planet

Last Saturday on my way to my recital at 5pm, I was driving and kinda boiling some butterflies in my stomach, I got a call from Iceland.

It was my best friend SM n her husband ST on the phone, honeymoon. She has called to say hi when I needed a breather from worrying over my singing later.

I felt so good after that call, the evening went by like a breeze.

This morning I got an sms from SM saying they will be back soon, early next week. Wondering if I would find new wedding pictures on her wedding site, I went to BigBibPlanet to look.

Nope, no new pictures up yet. I suppose G & M are waiting for them to come back and do some selection of all the pictures taken on June 11.

Then I re-read the little essays the couple wrote on each other and I just melted, all over again.

My favourite bit:

... how do you begin to describe the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? How do you describe a person you are so connected with, a person you see from so many angles, you're no longer seeing with your eyes, but through your heart and soul.

...I guess I blame See Ming. She came along and changed all that bachelorhood business.

How did she do it? I have no idea.

I just know I want to be with her for the rest of my life. I could describe what she's like and what she does and how she looks, but it wouldn't really do her justice at all. I could tell you she finds people jobs, refuses plastic bags at the grocers and has enough friends to fill a small town, but that wouldn't even scratch the surface. You could say we have a lot in common, but then we also have a lot of differences. You could say we laugh a lot together, with each other, as well as at each other, but that's not the all of it. You could say we get along well, but it's so much more than that. You could say it feels good when we're together, but it's not just a feeling.

It reads like a dream, what he thinks of her and of them together.


Monday, June 27, 2005

The Stage

Deep breathe....

June is for SM wedding, M! and my recital.

Thank you, the recital went very well overall. It went very well for me...despite the fact I forgot lyrics in my most familiar songs (must be the nerves). The feelings were all good and am I glad that I'm beginning to warm up to the stage.

We all wish there were more people in the hall when we sang, most friends said they couldn't make the date. So people, if you are thinking of launching a product or your singing career, try not to do it on the last Saturday of June ok? I give ourselves (CY, GW n SS) the credit for holding the stage together the entire evening, it was an all-girl power night.

There was a mad rush of mascara and lip sticks few minutes before we retreated to the `backstage'. The ceiling fan in the back room wasn't much help but thank god for the open door to the stage where I get my flow of air-conditioning. We had a quick group hug (sweaty armpits and all) before I took my deep breathe and went on to stage with GW to start the recital.

"My opening number explains clearly the reason we are doing this." My one-liner, provided by CY.

Art Is Calling For Me

....To sing on the stage is the one life for me
I know I'd win fame if I sang in Boheme...

I long to be a prima donna donna donna
I long to shine upon the stage
..I have the embonpoint, to become the queen of song
and my figure would look pretty as a page

That's what I'm dying for, that's what I'm sighing for
Art is calling for me

what better song to tell our story?

The first half of recital swing by quite quickly with the default art songs (one French and three German lieder) and a handful of Mozarts (from Cosi and Figaro). We ended with a well-blended and soothing duet from CY n SS, the letter scene by Countessa and Sussana. I made a mental note to myself to learn up their repertoire this year (Allerseelen is simply too beautiful to be left alone).

I opened again the second half with my left-over exam piece from Sondheim, this time surer of my lower notes and I hope I didn't hold back the expression of the sad caged bird (Johanna from Sweeny Todd). I then, for the first time, performed my favourite Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man in a style I think was under-rehearsed, it was an attempt in cross-over but it didn't quite got `crossed'. I even managed to forget lyrics but to my delight no one seem to notice any of that!!! -- were they even listening??

Then CY and I staged our cat duet, long over-due because we have love it for a long while. We are happy we did though we could do with more movement rehearsal but heck, apparently people did get amused with our meowing.

SS took her Chinese folk repertoire with ease next. Something I can work on a lot more. She later got some good reviews on her pair of Chinese folk songs. She came backstage to lead me on next with our first Broadway duet from Jekyll & Hyde. It was challenging for both of us because the song is meant to be belted out by two mean mezzos or even contraltos. SS learned to belt out her Broadway blues for this recital. Me, I learned how to stage a duet and where to keep my hands while my co-singer is singing.

CY did her Broadway solo next, another Jekyll & Hyde number. By this time I was starting to miss the stage already, everything moved very fast it started. We held hands and took the stage in an ensemble (trio) version of Offenbach's Barcarolle: Belle Nuit. We did our best blend that evening and I didn't (I insist I didn't) slaughter the low notes.

It has to be Alexis, I recognize his voice. "Encore!!! Encore!!!"

We happily brought out the encore piece and this time we were all warmed up and relieved we have done the recital, a reprise of Art Is Calling For Me was sung with much festivity in our voices and I never had so much fun on stage!

The night was still young when we finished. We took quite some snap shoots on stage with the banner hanging overhead says proudly: Divit, Divet, Diva!

The sing-song night continued at the happening 24-hour A & W in PJ. The singers loaded up on the carbo and we even asked Empress for her famous critique. There really aren't many brave souls like her left in the mighty insecure city like KL. Many singers can't face the facts after coming down the stage...I salute to people like Empress who speaks up -- always with grounds. Yes dear I will work on my cross-over singing and tone down my fierce facial expression that was meant to be somber.

We will keep the music playing and the singing going. Too bad for some of you who missed the recital, it was fun! Those who missed it with lame excuses, eat your heart out, haha.



Car Wash

One month and 23 days into my new job as a booker. About eighty days since I last got my Sunny a wash, until last Thursday. My model wrote on my car (with the dust on wind-screen) - PLEASE WASH ME.

I also slept at 10.30pm that night, after spending about two hours on the road home after I found that car wash, after spending 9 hours at a show, 2 hours on the road. I managed to swim, and practiced my recital pieces and then hit the sack.

But that is one such achievement in see, (I don't mean to whine and I'm not whining) I haven't slept before midnight for over two months, I haven't switched on the TV for brain-time-out for ages, not that i'm complaining but i could really do with earlier bed time.

Also, I realised I have gone a lot tanner in the past two months, it's got to be the driving around town on the job. When I applied powder on my face before my recital on Saturday, i noticed the powder is now too fair for my skin (hahah) and I look kinda `burnt' on my face and arms (roti bakar). Guess it's time to stock up on white outfits before I start disappearing into the darkness.

When time is scarce, many things become precious and you don't take much for granted. ie. When I get to vacuum my apartment I love the floor I walk on; when I change my sheets. my skin tinkles with pleasure when I lie on the bed. I focus a lot better when I have less time to practise my fact I think my singing got better these days when I'm scooping every bit of time I have for singing.

Am getting used to receiving sms at any hour, mainly work stuff...and getting used to the climate at work, the models' weird habits, I love most people here, and learning to love more people. It's all part of the package, character building. Working next to the mall has may perks (shoe repair, paying bills, ATM, banking, grocery shopping...etc) and the down sides are far less than I thought, the worst being the traffic during shopping hours.

Have given up on heels and pencil skirts...miss them but can't see myself in them while I trot around back stage hurrying clothe-change and cueing models to get on stage. I don't know when I will get into my fave heels again, they are so new and they take up so much space in my shared show cabinet, I haven't worn some of them. That suede pastel purple platforms with diamante pins haven't the world outside its box yet...the Grace-Kelly-peep-toes are sitting under my desk and they are just sitting there.

Shoe party at my place, anyone??? I'm serious, let me know if you're a size 6.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Magick River

I'm real chicken shit when it comes to water.

I went to Magick River in the weekend for a retreat with the M! Opera folks. The first thing we did after dumping bags in the MR bungalow was to head straight for the water, or water fall.

You see, I can't tread water or float so swimming in a river with a slight current is enough to freak me out to kill someone next to me with my grab-or-die hold.

Apparently I grabbed or hang on to someone's boob for a long time when I panicked, I didn't realised until the boob owner confessed to me later. I practically molested all the guys who were there lending me a `helping hand'.

Pot luck was a cool idea but it's giving me a real sore week ahead - there were cartons and cartons of water, drinks, ice-boxes with meats, vege, wines, champagne...
when we got to the gate of the bungalow after a rather peaceful bus ride, we realised the bus can't drive thro the narrow gate and that means we need to ferry all the food goodies to the house, which stood about 80 meters away from the gate, UPHILL.

Carried we did, I couldn't feel my fingers afterwards.

In the cold river water later, the folks took turn to swim or got-ferried (human bridge made of strong limbs like Supreme Bitch's ) to the thundering water fall. When you are there the sound of water washing down from above drown your hearing and the coldness of the water numb your heart beat (to the point I had no idea whose limb or boob I was hanging my dear life on).


I did let myself (holding on to SB's hand) flowed down the river with the current up to the point the current slowed I let go of her hand and turned to swim...clumsily. It felt good that I actually swam though I remain a chicken shit in this river.

The prelude to the BBQ dinner was a massive attack of group-sing-along while the dinner was being prepared. From Nat King Cole to Whitney Houston, Streisand to John Denver, the group sang with empty stomach.

After the group discussion on the afternoon session of improvisation (acting), the drinking started fiercely and it continued down at the river bank where the most beautiful singing took place.

We perched on the river bank with candles, drinks, guitar and a bongo (was it a bongo??). The night sky was a little cloudy but the moon was there. The repertoire took a turn from Nat King Cole to the more familiar Man Bai, Innuendo, S Salim...and a round of free style improvisation. I crawled into a ball of comfort sitting behind the maestros taking turns in carrying the music and song.

The folks worked the night with more songs, drinks and we even managed to get some music work done (feeling group energy while singing and getting comfortable with unusual singing dynamics). I fell asleep in my sleeping bag under the night sky with trails of conversation that went on and on near my sleeping quarter, ghost stories. E and S-Bitch finally joined me on the grass when the ghost stories channel came to a close but I think the full house of snoring chorus has kept the bad spirits away :)

More work and fun the next day. I got a few words from the director on my half-cooked acting skill (and the lack of it). Other cast members too got feedback on their performance during the workshop. No one was spared, but no one was left alone, honest feedback were given and all noted on the work that needed to be put in to kick off a show like M!

Half of us took one last swim in the river before we head back to KL.

Though most sat very still and slept through the ride back to KL, I could feel the bond we created with each other (in the air) and the energy. The bus driver drove way too fast for the highway and I got car-sick the whole night that day.

This will be more than just a musical experience for all the cast. Working with the best creative team around and meeting with very talented strangers (who became friends) and spending time to know and love each other is just, more than what we have bargained for at the audition.

I'm just so glad to be part of it.



Friday, June 17, 2005

Divit, Divet, Diva!

yes we are back in VTM and this time it's bigger and better!!!!

come for frockwtach, chick-watch and best of all, yours truly getting at it (in singing) on stage with friends. The program is carefully put together with familiar classics and delightful tunes.

drum roll...

Vocal Talents Music


Divit, Divet, Diva!

Cristina Yap, Janet Lee and Yeo Sook Siah
with Geneviene Wong on piano

Date: June 25th, 2005
Time: 8:00pm
Venue: Vocals Talents Music (VTM), Taman Desa
Admission: RM15

Three fledgling sopranos present an eclectic collection of music ranging from the Romantic era to current Broadway Musicals! From Mozart to Offenbach to Hammerstein to Sondheim they tackle the operatic arias, the thoughtful leiders, the out and out emotions of musicals, with a couple of folk songs thrown in. Watch out for favourites from Jekyll & Hyde and Showboat! We ain't tellin you more - you've just got to come and see for yourself.
For more details, contact:

Vocal Talents Music (VTM)
4C, 2nd floor, Business Centre, Jalan Desa Jaya,
Taman Desa off Jalan Kelang Lama, 58100 KL
(VTM is located at the shop lot next to Faber Towers and Telekom Tower in Taman Desa, it's two floors up from the Public Finance & Thai restaurant on ground floor)

Enquiries: 603-7980 8821 or 012-378 3730



Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Winning Loser

My coach gave me and SSiah a Tower Records gift voucher on Sunday night, after losing at yet another merry round of Song Fest.

That was very sweet of him, he is many things but sweet, usually.

Anyway, it was worth every inch of my effort, joining the competition I mean.

First of all, I got my objective right -- it was to gain stage exposure and experience. Winning really should be secondary for now.

Second, it was a FUN FUN FUN sing-song fest. Have you been to any singing competition where the judges comment session was also entertaining? No forgetting the wacko MC with the mike, all the contestants were friends...the contemporary category was especially entertaining.

Again, it was exhilarating on stage experience for me, again I was happy that I was able to enjoy myself while singing on stage...except I could do with more practices on those repertoire. It was nice to have friends (yes, somehow I meet mainly friends in this circle) coming up to tell me how I have improved in the singing department. However, how much I have improved since last year has little bearing on how I would fare in the competition, that would have to do with how much finesse and practise I have gained and put in for the occasion.

The hall was nice and big hall, great acoustics (righto?) though the stage is freaking high, maybe not a bad thing because when you are singing your heart out up there the judges were nowhere near your eye level...

Over 14 candidates in the contemporary category, 4 in the group, and 5 in the classical.

I was the only `round-3' kid in the classical category -- I took part in all the Song-Fest since its first one in 2002, then 2004.

The eager musicians made a bee line, going after the judges for constructive criticism and advice. What I got bottom line was - more practice more practice....what else, Mozart was sung too heavy, sickly-strategize repertoire for finals and need MORE practice.

Got a certificate for participation, a VCD from Philharmonic Society's past production and, a voucher for Just Heavenly cakes.

I won't cry those sappy tears for not getting a placing this year...with my new job settling in and getting all busy, singing will be an even more precious experience. Will treasure every chance I have...



Sunday, June 12, 2005

Beautiful Wedding from Inside Out

I'm still drinking in the sight in my mind, it was right out of a movie...maybe one of those surreal and romantic flicks...

SM and ST wearing bliss and happiness by the scenic pool of Luna Bar, both staring into the sun set while their wedding party guests gasped in sheer envy and delightfulness.

I thought SM looked like the most beautiful nymph (bright orange dress with chiffon skirting, beads-n-crystal-filled the whole blouse, a single red Gerbera in her hair) while ST was the happy man who got seduced.

She also gave a beautiful speech after ST narrated their love tale in his usual funny-man fashion, SM urged her friends to not give up on love and romance. I would not attempt to reproduce her fine words here but when you get the chance, speak to her for first hand advice.

The 200 folks milled around the Luna Bar pool in appropriate `poolside glam' gear while the weather cooled down as the sun sets in the horizon. There were reunions of old friends, and meetings for the new. Each guest were given a little red itinerary with two lists of `to-do-lists' at the party.
Sharon Bakar reports.

And do check out TV's pictorial report on the morning registration.

It was the more emotional bit, for me, during the marriage registration in Brickfields that morning. My heart skipped a beat when SM and ST said: "I do." I don't know if anyone can share the feelings I had then, as I have seen SM sailed through relationships with her heart fills with determination to keep love alive in her, it was simply a moment where no word can describe my happiness for her that, she has, simply found the ONE.

Coming back to the merry party in Luna...I had my share of fun by answering countless times when people asked me what IS a booker and where I got my green hat with feathers from.

Many spoke kind words and showered me with compliments for my little rendition of songs (they were Misty, Close To You & Till There Was You), my favourite one has to be from the director of Lips To Lips:

"Hi Janet, nice works. I've never heard you sing. I thought it was going to be terrible but it wasn't" (smirk)

Apart from the comments on singing, I got a lot of `So when it's your turn?', it was puzzling at first, I asked myself why the heck they kept asking me that? It turned out it's common that people bug the `bestwoman', I wonder if BC the bestman got it too...

Definitely an evening of glitterati celebrating one of KL's best-loved PR, I wouldn't risk my life in trying to name everyone there...check out the official site for updates in a few days' time. There were social activists, celebrities, journalists, celebrity bloggers, writers, sing-song-writers, film makers, poets, bums, actors, house wives....

The evening finally ended for me when I left their cozy honeymoon suite in Pacific Regency...the room smelled of rose petals and jasmine, and romance. There were naughty notes left in every room in the suit/apartment by Sepet star, we suspect it was him.

The end of an era, SM's singlehood...and beginning of SM-ST-hood.

Happy Ice-landing ok?

Don't forget my souvenir from Paris, preferably second-hand one.



Thursday, June 09, 2005

of men and their coolness

It was nice sight, very nice one I must say, not something you see everyday, I pity girls who weren't with me that night.

It was work, I had twenty very good looking fellows (male models) dressed in suits for an event. I pinned one of them down to give me a tuition on a Czech song, Rusalka's Song To The Moon (in Czech, of course). And when we finally finish sorting out the words, some of us started crooning the famous aria in the hotel holding room, my jaw dropped when one of them joined me in the whole of page one, in tune and boy, he is a potential counter tenor (go google the meaning of this).

I learned that they eat a lot, like normal guys. The girls would usually leave food behind but that night, I ran out to get more food twice for the starving boys, after their first round of packed dinner.

As usual, there was tons of waiting around in their suits, tons of rehearsals, but they took them all in good humour. They whined about the lack of food but were nice enough to wait, they bugged me with questions but were nice about it...

At moments like this, I really appreciate the qualities that men have which is lacking in the women, though no doubt a woman makes better event manager but it takes the coolness or should I say the `laidbackness' of a guy to cool down a stressful situation.

Chill man, chill.

Speaking of chill, I have to tell this...

..there's a show on TV (forgot what channel) called Work Stress, I saw it first in my hotel room in SM's hometown. On Tuesday the production crew of the same show came into the office and started shooting the group CEO in his room, a glass room right next to my station!

After they were done with him, they kinda moved their attention on me, or my cubicle. The director told me, "hey, could you hold this mic?"

After 5 minutes of shuffling around my station, I realised they were going to `do' me. I was flattered that the CEO told the crew that I was a fantastic singer but was shocked that they don't prepare you for this, the host smiled and said:

"cool, so you just hold the mic and answer my questions, ok?"

"what the fuck...?"

at the end of the interview (which I did pretty well), on the topic of, what else, Work Stress, the host with the glasses as big as mine told me to sing my favourite song for the show.

So I sang my audition song, which is my favourite song.

Pls tell me how I fared in the singing and the impromptu interview if you managed to catch the show. :)



Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Very Emo

I thought it was going to be just one of SM's many merry parties and gatherings, but I got more than I bargained for.

We might never share the same thought when it comes to marriage but I know marriage is special and precious for my best friend and last weekend I witnessed her dream came true...getting married to the one she loves and whom loves her dearly.

The past few months flew passed me with millions events happened and happening including SM's announcing to me on her plan to get hitched.

I was happy but the news missed my reaction. I guess I really came to realise last weekend that my best friend for the past 6 years is finally, really, getting hitched. I was up in her home town with folks from KL (ST's best friend and A the cakap banyak photographer cum entertainer) for her round 1 party.

Though I was getting calls from work every hour or so, it was a truly memorable wedding dinner trip. SM's family members were warm and funny, I had such good time I wish I didn't have to come back so soon.

I watched them at the tea ceremony, and ST getting introduced to all her relatives who came to the house for the occasion. I also met ST's sisters for the first time at the dinner, both sisters are as funny as him.

The surprise was me getting teary, I was moved by the whole occasion...watching them running the party with families, them talking about the love, etc. It was no ordinary wedding, it's a wedding for someone who came this far for a love so real
and someone who believes so much in it.

I think I will never have the same depth as SM when it comes to love and marriage but I'm proud of her for what she and ST have accomplished.

I hope I don't get all messy this Saturday at the round 2 party. I will remember to bring Scottex for the registration.



Wednesday, June 01, 2005

An Ego Issue

I have to perfect the art of losing, at which when I do, I will be working on the science of law of average.

The more I try, the higher chance I have for winning something.

SM said: Life rewards action.

J: Everytime you compete and didn't win but get to the finals, it's one more credential for your CV, it's not losing.

My first singing competition in 2000 didn't see me to the finals, I was happy for the mere fact I finished the song on stage and didn't faint or lose the words.

I took part again the following year and got into finals, suffered stage fright just as before, sang my songs and went home with my consolation prize. No pride hurt.

I skipped 2002 and went back again to compete again, this time with more emotions and jadedness, because I took part in a music fest the year before and got dissed when they put singers and musicians together for finals, I sang well at the finals and in fact, I won myself a boyfriend over that, but none of us from vocal section made it, a pianist won the price, DUH.

So when I made it to the finals in 2003, it felt good and it was reassuring to be in the finals but there's where I stopped, again, at finals. I went home with the fake smile and the consolation prize, and my boyfriend who thought I could have been a little louder :)

I guess that's when it all started, pride and ego. The one thing budding singers cannot afford to have too much of. That year was also the first year and my first time on stage when I actually enjoyed the singing, I remember staring into the darkness of the audience and judges and felt good singing on stage...of course later I cringed when I watched the video of the competition.

In 2004, I finally made it to top four, yes, number four, or you can call it third runner up. I thought that I was finally getting used to singing a solo on stage and that I would not have any issue getting up there and be scrutinized. I guess my problem was with smaller competitions, I marked myself too high when I'm outside the regular district-level championship.

I told J my reluctance to compete in anymore competitions where I keep losing year after year. He gave me a prep talk which make so much sense I wonder if I was so stupid before I didn't see it...I guess it's a case of J making sense, he sees so much more light than me.

Now you see why I love him to bits.

Forget about fear of losing, if I have no quirms about losing, no one is going to e able to make me feel like a lousy failure. My opinion and perception of myself is the most important at times like this. No one can make me feel lousy as good as I do it to myself.

He said, when you win three times out of the 100 times you tried, no one is going to know (in your CV) that you lost 97 times, people will see that you have won three times.

A song for all, Nat King Cole's Pick Yourself Up

Nothing's impossible, I have found
For when my chin is on the ground.
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off
And start all over again.

Don't lose your confidence
If you slip
Be grateful for a pleasant trip
And pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off
And start all over again.

Work like a soul inspired
Until the battle of the day is won.
You may be sick and tired,
But you'll be a man, my son.

Will you remember the famous men
Who had to fall to rise again
They picked themselves up
Dust themselves off
And start'd all over again.

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