Sunday, January 30, 2005


This has been the most significant word for me, in the last few days.

Audrey was talking to me about the prospect of starting a Christian Fellowship in her college, but at the moment they attend the gatherings at CampusCity, so the need hasn't really materialised yet. "Will continue to pray about it," she said in an e-mail to me.

I was reminded of a passage from J.M. Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K, of which I'm 75% through, which reads,

[Michael] did not know what was going to happen. The story of his life had never been an interesting one; there had usually been someone to tell him what to do next; now there was no one, and the best thing seemed to be to wait.

A day later or so, the idea of waiting returned to me, and this time I was reminded of U2's haunting take on Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay.

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song?

The only encouragement I have in waiting, is knowing that seeds do push out of the ground; plants do emerge even if it takes longer than long. Winter has been followed by spring since time immemorial, and I try not to forget that.


I often see beggars of all kinds lining the streets, and I wonder, what do we do with these people?

Do we walk by, knowing that we have just bypassed the opportunity to give help to someone in need, or do we give some donation, knowing it is merely a 'band aid' that does nothing good in the long run?

This thought struck me as I walked out of Cold Storage (Jaya Supermarket) Section 14, PJ, last night. There was this woman, sitting on the pavement, who, noticing me and my brother passing, called out, "Tolonglah, adik."

I could not get those words out of my head. And still I wonder.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

In The Light

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I read John 1:4-5, 3:19-21, 8:12, and Genesis 1:3 this morning. I found the verses from John 3:19-21 particularly stirring:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

It was dcTalk's song "In the Light" that inspired me to read a few verses that refer to 'light.' The chorus and bridge are as follows:

I wanna be in the light
As you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars
In the heavens
Oh Lord be my light
And be my salvation
'Cause all I want is to be in the light

Honesty becomes me
(There's nothing left to lose)
And the secrets that did run me
(In your presence are defused)
Pride has no position
(And riches have no worth)
And the fame that once did cover me
(Has been sentenced to this earth)
Has been sentenced to this earth

I have always found these words challenging and inspiring, and they come back to me now and then, whenever I am not living as one who wants to be in God's light.

To enter the light is to allow my darkest deeds to be exposed. And that is painful. But I want to see the day when I can say boldly, "Honesty becomes me, there's nothing left to lose."

Indeed it happens again and again, as I find myself empty, with nowhere left to turn but into the arms of the one who will fill me only when I step into the light where my emptiness can be seen. And then filled.

Where my death can be apparent, so life can be given anew.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Morning Petal Shower
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Reading Matthew 6:25-34 this morning, I was reminded of something Dallas Willard wrote in The Divine Conspiracy and the morning petal shower during d'NA.

The lilies of the field don't labour or spin, Jesus says, and yet they are more resplendent than the most finely dressed humans. A glance at any nation's royalty in full regalia, and/or the Nobel Ceremony, Academy Awards or other Gala events will confirm this.

That morning when the petals fell, and the sun seemed more otherwordly than ever before, I knew this to be true... that each of those petals meant more than many things I used to think were important. I didn't learn it then, but I'm beginning to now.

Sometimes it's really only logical to trust in the words of the Christ, for in light of our superficial world, it's hard to find words more substantial and meaningful than these:

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of its own."

And so I learn to trust, a little more as time goes by, in the daily faithfulness and provision of the One who feeds the birds ("carefree in the care of God" as Eugene Peterson puts it) and clothes the grass of the fields (which shine like emeralds in the morning dew, though they are later trampled upon and burned away).

After all, it's not much better living life on my own terms, being constantly worked up into frenzies, anxiety and conflicts.

See you tomorrow. And the tomorrow of tomorrow. And as many tomorrows as God's grace provides.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Only Natural

I read Romans 1:1-15 this morning, from The Message:

... A new power is in operation... if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him... even though you still experience all the limitations of sin -- you yourself experience life on God's terms... God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! The resurrection life... [is] adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childliike "What's next, Papa?"

Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Only Natural" played in my mind since the moment I woke up, and the bridge has always gripped me;

I know that on my own I'm only human naturally
But I've got the Spirit of the living God alive in me
Giving me power so I don't have to be...

Only natural, only natural

This has been the defining struggle of my recent years.


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I saw this spider outside the front door of my house just now. A few have been spinning webs on the wall perpendicular to the door lately.

Possibly a female, since a smaller spider was hanging about nearby. Males are always smaller, and their dances of courtship can take ages.

Look closely, and you may be able to notice two strands of webbing that reflected the flash...

Taking a trip down memory lane...

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
OK, seriously... when was the last time you saw these things?

I was clearing out yet another shelf in my cupboard under the window, and rediscovered some Transformers and Zords (Power Rangers' robots).

You will find in the picture, several Optimus Primes and Megatrons from the different generations, Cheetor, Tigerzord, and the Griffin, Lion, Phoenix and Unicorn Thunderzords, among others.

The real treasure of this little 'back to the past' adventure was the green tank standing behind Cheetor, on the far left. I think it's either a Generation One or Generation Two Autobot Transformer, one of the two Dad bought for me and my brother ages ago.

Oh well, I suppose this will be part of my inheritance to the generations after me...


Starry Night
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
All masterpieces have one thing in common: they are multi-layered, in that an observer can decide how far or how deep he or she would like to go in understanding them.

Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" quite remarkably inspired two works I enjoy, each for different reasons: Chong Kee Yong's orchestral piece, "The Starry Night's Ripples" and Don McLean's song, "Vincent."

Kee Yong painted a musical portrait of the meeting of town and country in the painting, using two motifs, one heavy and bustling, the other lyrical and lightly metallic.

McLean eulogized the artist, depicting the intricate beauty of the painting and the personality and brilliance of van Gogh.

Both succeed in creating an underlying tension, far more obvious in "The Starry Night's Ripples" than "Vincent." They express what I see as Vincent's madness, which drove him to his tragic suicide.

But maybe it's just that Vincent saw more beauty than anyone else could, and would not be fettered by the mundaneness of the world, or the limitations of paint in expressing that beauty.

McLean writes in his song:

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

He saw the dementia in van Gogh, Kee Yong saw the inspiration in the painting; both produced portraits of van Gogh that keep the memory of this genius alive, stubbornly refusing to die to a world that has lost its beauty.

Walk On

Aung San Suu Kyi
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I was listening to U2's "Walk On" this morning, and the second verse caught me:

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Driving at 60 km/h, I should be able to reach Tavoy in southern Myanmar within 16 hours, which is technically the mandatory 'road time' I must fulfil before taking the driving test.

In other words, making a trip to Myanmar and back again to KL will give me twice the compulsory practice!

Bird on Blue Skies

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
On Monday, I saw this bird outside my room window, perched on the TV antenna of the house behind mine.

The sky was absolutely clear that morning, literally cloudless... I couldn't resist!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Brief Update

I may be somewhat absent from the blogrealm over the next few days. Will be busy compiling d'NA photos, building a slideshow and doing other preparations for the upcoming d'NA Reunion at Audrey's on February 4-5.

Also, I'll be continuing my journey through Life & Times of Michael K, of which I've so far completed approximately 20 pages. That means I've some 160 left, to be finished, at best, by February 1. Well it looks like I'll have to resurrect the once voracious reader I used to be.

So there. Perhaps I'll be back in full blogging force this weekend, with more things to write about.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Michael W. Smith wrote, "A lifetime's not too long, to live as friends."

These are some of my friends from Standard 6, whose friendship I treasure above many, many things.

We met up on Saturday as one of them, Pei Yi, was back from NS for Hari Raya Haji holidays. As you can see, Baskin Robbins is a perennial classic.

That night, I watched the play Class of '84 with Kishan. The story was about a group of seven college friends getting together after 20+ years on occasion of the eighth's death.

They learnt many things about each other, and it was a nostalgic and retrospective look at how their lives progressed, how some dreams were achieved while others were buried.

As I think about it, I wonder, where will all my friends be 20 years hence? Would we be soaring on the wings of our dreams, or plunged into mediocrity?

Time will tell, and until the day dust returns to dust, I will remember Michael W. Smith's words.

Life & Times of Michael K

Life and Times of Michael K
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
This time around, I will be attempting the Oral Interpretation event at the Forensics, in which participants are required to read a selection of poetry or prose, between five and seven minutes.

I have chosen John Michael Coetzee's (pronounced koot-ZEE, like Tootsie) Life & Times of Michael K, as it is a work of obvious literary merit (Booker Prize) and probably won't be used by other participants due to its relative obscurity.

Anyway I've decided to watch the movie Hotel Rwanda, which recently earned Don Cheadle a Golden Globe nomination, to work on my African accent as Michael K is a South African trying to escape the African War under Apartheid rule.

Does anyone know of any other good African movies, media resources and/or documentaries? I need some help in visualising the setting and atmosphere so it can be well projected into my interpretation of Coetzee's work.

It's a good time to actually finish reading the book, which I bought sometime in the third quarter of last year. I've this bad habit of buying books and leaving them unfinished, so here's the first wake-up call of 2005!

Dying because of who you are

I read this in Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy just now:

"In sixteenth-century Holland, the Mennonites were outlawed and, when caught, often executed. One of them, Dirk Willens, was being chased across an icefield when his pursuer broke through and fell in. In response to his cries for help, Willens returned and saved him from the waters. The pursuer was grateful and astonished that he would do such a thing but nevertheless arrested him, as he thought it his duty to do. A few days later Willens was executed by being burned at the stake in the town of Asperen. It was precisely his Christlikeness that brought on his execution."

I've heard many stories of martyrs throughout history, but this really hit me in a different way. Being truly good is not something this world appreciates, and by 'world' I mean the norms of society and culture all over the globe. You're discriminated because of who you are, and some won't stop until your heart stops beating.

Those who choose to love their enemies and reach out to save a drowning, freezing pursuer or hitman, often don't have anything to gain out of it. The whole premise doesn't make sense; Willens could have escaped and saved his life, but he didn't, simply because of the person he had become: someone who truly valued what was good.

We'll stick out like sore thumbs if we go around doing that kind of thing, but in a world where almost everyone cares only for themselves, or at most, their loved ones and close friends, I find this a much healthier and more encouraging path down which to walk.

And I can only remember the words of a great teacher, "If you love only those who love you, what is the reward in that?"

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Victorian Debaters 2005/2006

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Meet the first two debaters of the year: Jonathan (left) and Wilson.

They will be participating in the ISKL SEA Forensics Debate, and the topic is "Social Equity is More Important than Economic Development."

Kishan and I will be behind them all the way. This is, after all, Kishan's kind of topic, putting his socio-economic knowledge and passion to the test.

A new year dawns, and the legacy must continue. They will go far.

The Joke of the Century

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Meet Kishan; human search engine, headphone maniac, extemper, sociologist, economist, drama and debate aficionado, and devoted vegetarian.

Believe it or not, he actually orders Big Macs without the beef. I'll never forget the expression on the McDonald's attendant's face last night.

That, according to him, is the joke of the century. And I saw it before my very eyes.

Star Update

I found myself staring up at the sky just now, outside Kishan's house after returning from the Bangsar Shopping Centre, and later upon reaching home.

It was quite successful, actually. I saw, in addition to most of the previously recorded stars, the following stars (constellation names in italics):

Carinae (The Stern):
Alpha Carinae (Canopus)
Epsilon Carinae

Vela (The Sails):
Delta Velorum
Gamma Velorum
Lambda Velorum

Hydra (The Water-Snake):
Alpha Hydrae (Alphard)

Leo (The Lion):
Alpha Leonis (Regulus)
Gamma Leonis (Algieba)
Epsilon Leonis

The night-sky never fails to fascinate. Now to learn how to operate a telescope well...

ISKL... begins!

ISKL Workshop
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Preparation for the International School of Kuala Lumpur's (ISKL) Southeast Asian Forensics Tournament has recently kicked into high gear... on Friday morning, to be exact.

I'll be taking part in the same events this year, as I did last, namely Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speaking.

Impromptu is an event in which the participant has 60 seconds to prepare a speech on a given subject, while extemp is an event in which participants are to give an opinionated speech on current issues, with 30 minutes' preparation time.

Saturday morning, the ISKL had a few workshop sessions on the various events, and the photo above was taken in the ISKL canteen (which serves great food, albeit exorbitantly priced).

I'm beginning to feel old, honestly, what with a new wave of students participating from various schools. I remember my first time in 2002, and how many of the same faces used to turn up every year.

Somehow, they seem to have graduated and left school already, and this year's participants all appear to be newbies. It's quite refreshing actually, to see a new generation rising out of the mess we old-timers created.

This is gonna be one exciting year!

Tiramisu after 1920's

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Friday night, Kishan, Kuhan and I had dinner at Bangsar Village, this Italian restaurant called 1920's (or was it 1920s?)

Anyway, after that, we went downstairs to this cake shop where Kishan's friend, Yee San, is working. She gave us a 20% discount on the Tiramisu we ordered (and later played around with)...

She's an old friend of his from primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Bandaraya. It appears my next few entries will be heavily saturated with musings on friendship and friends.


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Sometime last week, I saw this Medusa-like plant for sale in Mid Valley.

It's supposed to be for Chinese New Year, but I can't help wondering...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Powers of World Domination

I was in the car the other day, thinking of the superpowers that have recently claimed virtual world domination, though I can't quite decide who rules 'em all. The competition seems to go down the wire to:

Cyberspace is virtually theirs... for now.

Statistics indicate that 97% of the world has heard of it, and 51% have tasted it.

Step into one, and you probably won't know which country you're in, so says Dr Leong Tien Fock.

Rumour has it that the Sherpas have built one on the peak of Mount Everest.

What say you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

New Creation

When I awoke this morning, Steven Curtis Chapman's song The Change played in my mind, and I was led to read 2 Corinthians 5:17, from which the song takes its inspiration.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

The chorus goes:

What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
What about a life that's showing
I'm undergoing the change

So yeah, am I living a life that shows the change?

Sometimes I wonder...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Staring into Space

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
This is what the moon looked like at eight o'clock last night.

It was a most beautiful ending to a wonderfully nostalgic day, after Robin Williams and Baskin Robbins.

Just a pity there were no robins in the skies ;-)

Baskin Robbins revisited

Baskin Robbins
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I think it was due, in no small measure, to the trip down memory lane sparked by Robin Williams' Golden Globe, that led me further down that road yesterday.

Baskin Robbins has always been my ice cream. The number 31 in the name "Baskin '31' Robbins", corresponds to my birthdate, and when I was younger, my parents always brought me there for ice-cream. I even used to have a collection of their pink spoons!

This time around, I had Pieces of Cake (flavour of the month) and Berry Merry Gingerbread, while my brother had Chocolate Chip.

Pieces of Cake is cake flavoured with shortbread pieces, confetti candy (like hundreds and thousands) and chocolate swirls, while the latter is gingerbread flavoured with gingerbread cookies and blueberry swirls.

Each spoonful tells a story, and by the time I was halfway through, all frozen dairy confectionery sold in the supermarket couldn't even qualify as 'ice cream', as far as I was concerned.

And yes, they still have 31 flavours, plus the 32nd Flavour of the Month.

Cecil B DeMille Award

Robin Williams
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
At this year's Golden Globes, the Cecil B Demille Award went to Robin Williams.

His was probably the longest (and funniest!) acceptance speech, and somewhere near its end, he said something that I now consider the most significant moment of the awards ceremony:

"Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association [who decide on the awards recipients] for recognizing comedy..."

And, gesturing to Jim Carrey,

"Jim, you know this..."

And Carrey nods.

For a long time, these two actors were my favourite, partly because I loved comedy, and partly because at that time, they were the comedians.

As it appears, they still are.

Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, Mrs Doubtfire, Mork and Mindy, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Bruce Almighty, to name a few of their outstanding works.

I was reminded of what made me like comedy in the first place, and in particular, their brand of it. They take it so seriously, and along the way, make me, in Pierce Brosnan's words at the Golden Globes,

"cry laughing, and laugh through tears"

In a rather distant comparison, someone once observed that U2 had two hopes of making it big: Bob Hope and no hope.

Some of the things I cherish most, are almost laughable, and some of the best experiences I've ever had, are wrapped in humour.

But I guess that's what makes us all human. And laughter's immortal, really.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Feeling Shitty

I awoke this morning feeling very bad about something that happened several hours before dawn. For some reason, I feel U2's words best express my feelings and thoughts, so the following is heavily laden with references to U2 lyrics.

Like this place called Vertigo, it was literally everything I wish I didn't know, and there was little that I could really feel. Time should not have taken the boy out of me, but I've fallen into this trap where sometimes I just want to grow up and shake the dream away.

I'm a dead man who still sleeps. I'm alone in this world, and a fucked up world it is too. So hard to see beyond what seems, to what is.

But God, tell me the story of eternity, the way it's supposed to be... The sun still comes up on the ocean, and God, I need your help tonight.

It's my fault, that I'm stuck in a moment I can't get out of. I need your grace, to make some beauty out of ugly me. Try as I may, I can't live with or without you, and I really want to sing a new song. Teach me to wait patiently.

When I stumble, sometimes I wish I could go wherever the streets have no name, somewhere I can see things clearly, and begin again.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for, but I won't stop till I have.

To hell with empty words and hollow dreams; this is real life. In this dance of pain and pleasure, seeking purpose is close to a joke.

But yeah, in a fucked up world, maybe it's the only thing worth doing after all.

How long to sing this song? Lift me out of the miry clay, God, lift me.

Roses and Thorns

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Inspired by the POS Malaysia 'Roses' stamp collection, I decided to read passages in the Bible that referred to thorns for devotion yesterday.

There is Genesis 3:17-19, "Cursed is the ground because of you... It will produce thorns and thistles for you..."

Matthew 13:7, "Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants."

Matthew 27:28-29, "[The Roman soldiers]... twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on [Jesus'] head..."

2 Corinthians 12:7-9, "...there was given me a thorn in my flesh... Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"

To see the unspeakable beauty of something like a rose in tandem with the terror of thorns, is sometimes paradoxical in a bittersweet way.

It reminds me of an advertisement I saw on TV quite long ago:

You may complain that roses have thorns
Or you may rejoice that thorns have roses


At KLCC and beneath the stars

After Dr Bruce Little's seminar on apologetics and postmodernity yesterday, I went to KLCC and decided to take advantage of the time there by spending the evening with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO).

In the programme notes on Rachmaninov's First Symphony, it was written that the bad response to the work on its premiere over a century ago, was probably due to the fact that Rachmaninov was ahead of his time. In the late 1800s, Russia expected sweeping melodies in the style of Tchaikovsky, while Rachmaninov employed a relatively simple approach, weaving his music around a single theme rather like Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

Indeed, in the 20th Century, such methods were no longer considered inappropriate, as exhibited by composers like Shostakovich and Stravinsky, not to mention the minimalists. It struck me that people who try to emerge always encounter opposition by those rooted in the old ways.

"No one who has tasted old wine likes the new, for they say the old is better" - Jesus of Nazareth.

Difficult it is to blaze a trail where no man has trod, and such adventurers always draw rude stares and comments from all manner of observers. But it doesn't stop them, it seems. We remember these people who bridged the gap between their respective 'old and new' worlds, who bore the scorn of the conservative traditionalists, and ever encouraged fellow daring trailblazers.

When I walked over to the Mandarin Oriental for awhile before the performance, I saw this family of three; the father was carrying their baby, while the mother struggled to life the stroller up the few steps at the side of the building. I could have stopped to help, but the inertia of busyness got the better of me, and I hurried on.

I told myself immediately as soon as I passed them, and I keep telling myself even until now, that it will never happen again. I don't want to let the needs of others slip by me, into the realm of superficiality. Not now, not ever.

The night was once again rather rewarding, though I still need to get to know the telescope better. Dad and I tried fixing it up to view Saturn, but it didn't work, probably due to the miniscule size (as seen from Earth) and great distance of the planet, or the fact that we don't really know how to operate the scope either.

Yet all nights are not without consolation; this time, facing South, I saw the stars Pi Puppis and Zeta Puppis (otherwise known as Naos) of the constellation Puppis, which is supposed to resemble the stern of a boat.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I watched this for the second time, this time around with my English student. She's in Form 2 and we're doing The Phantom of the Opera. I thought highly enough of this movie to suggest she watch it.

Was in KLCC today and since she hadn't already watched it, I took advantage of the situation at present. There was a blackout earlier, rather widespread across the city I think, and it caused some massive jams outside KLCC as the underground parking could not be accessed.

How remiss of me, that I forgot to list this movie among the best in my previous post. Not so much for the acting, but the songs and score are simply breathtaking. Andrew Lloyd Webber strikes yet again, this time on the silver screen and not the stage.

One idea that caught my attention this time around was that of masks. A line from the song, "The Phantom of the Opera" goes:

Christine: I am the mask you wear
Phantom: It's me they hear

As the movie progresses, and especially during the Masquerade scene, it becomes rather clear that everyone, and not just the Phantom, wears masks.

Why do we wear masks? To hide our ugliness, our shame... maybe most of all, our fear. It's easy to live behind a facade and pretend to be what we're not. But to remove our masks makes us vulnerable.

Maybe that's something else about the story, that makes it so poignant: everyone is vulnerable. Each in his or her own different way, but we all have our weak spots, and we think a band aid will do.

But this question of untold sufferings and hidden weaknesses reminds me of something Bono asked, and answered himself:

"How do you dismantle an atomic bomb? With love."

Out of the Mind

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Just got to watch The Aviator yesterday, and though it isn't a movie that appeals immediately, some images remain imprinted on the mind and linger long after it's over.

I must say it's among the best movies I've watched this year, up there with The Incredibles, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Pianist (though the last wasn't released this year).

The Aviator begins rather slowly, but what's engaging is that hardly any emphasis is placed on the supporting characters, who are sparse in their appearances, for the actual story/battle takes place within Howard Hughes' (Leonardo DiCaprio) mind.

He plays the role rather well, looking very convincingly disturbed as the victim of obsessive-compulsive disorder, so much so that I began to feel uneasy at times during the movie!

Somehow, I still feel the movie wasn't as great as I thought it'd be, meandering and wandering in seeming confusion at times. But maybe that's the idea, to portray the suffering of the protagonist through the very style of the movie.

For when Hughes does in fact triumph at the end, it is a well-calculated and soaring conclusion that puts everything that preceded it into perspective.

At that moment, if not earlier, the audience becomes one with Hughes all over again, and it becomes clear why he's where he is. It's a rallying challenge to transcend earth-boundness and fly -- a call no one, sane or insane, would turn their back on.

All said and done, though, my vote still lies with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Whew! It was really an amazing day for stargazing! The night sky was extraordinarily clear, and I daresay I would've seen many more stars were I in a darker locale than this light-polluted suburban housing estate.

Generally, it was very satisfactory, except for a few constellations:

-Virgo and Bootes; because only one star each was visible in the pre-dawn.
-Cetus and Andromeda; because they are such large constellations and the fact that I only saw one or two stars each means I'm missing out on the 'big picture', literally.
-Aries, Triangulum and Columba; because I've never seen them before (thus making them somewhat harder to appreciate). Being partially covered by trees or roofs doesn't help either

Gemini, Perseus, Auriga, Canis Major and Taurus were magnificent tonight, and Orion proved once again why it is the most spectacular constellation in the sky.

What follows is a log of the constellations I spotted today, and the stars of which I actually saw:

Morning, (7 a.m.):

1. Virgo (The Virgin)
-Spica (saw it slightly below Jupiter)

2. Bootes (The Herdsman)

Evening, (10 p.m.):

1. Orion (The Hunter)
-saw virtually everything except the club and the shield

2. Taurus (The Bull)
-Zeta Tauri
-Beta Tauri
-Pleiades (open cluster)
-Lambda Tauri
-Xi Tauri

3. Canis Major (The Greater Dog)
- Sirius
-Beta Canis Majoris
-Omicron (2) Canis Majoris
-Delta Canis Majoris
-Epsilon Canis Majoris
-Eta Canis Majoris
-Zeta Canis Majoris

4. Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog)
-Beta Canis Minoris

5. Gemini (The Twins)
-Epsilon Geminorum
-Mu Geminorum
-Gamma Geminorum
-Eta Geminorum

6. Lepus (The Hare)
-Beta Leporis
-Mu Leporis
-Epsilon Leporis
-Zeta Leporis

7. Cetus (The Sea Monster)
-Alpha Ceti

8. Aries (The Ram)
-Alpha Arietis
-Beta Arietis

9. Triangulum (The Triangle)
-Beta Trianguli

10. Perseus
-Alpha Persei
-Delta Persei
-Epsilon Persei
-Zeta Persei

11. Auriga (The Charioteer)
-Beta Aurigae
-Theta Aurigae
-Eta/Zeta Aurigae
-Iota Aurigae
-Epsilon Aurigae

12. Columba (The Dove)
-Alpha Columbae
-Beta Columbae

13. Andromeda
-Beta Andromedae
-Gamma Andromedae

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.

- Genesis 1:1, 14-15 (NIV)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A New Hobby

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
It appears I've acquired a new hobby: stamp collecting.

At the very beginning of this year, I told Mum that the first day cover of the latest collection, Rare Flowers II, would be out on January 11.

She was rather excited and suggested we get them, and over the next few days she talked about how she and her brother (my uncle) used to cycle to the post office to buy first day covers when they were children.

So today, we bought them at the neighbourhood post office. The lady at Customer Service who sold them to us, gave us some pointers on building a collection.

Later, we found ourselves in the Pos Malaysia Headquarters at Bangunan Dayabumi, getting the first day cover stamps cancelled with the special themed stamp.

We browsed the stamp gallery, and there I found the source of Tee Ming's Tongkat Ali stamp, Soo Tian's Domestic Cat stamp, and SU/FES' Whale stamp. All were issued last year.

I now have a first day cover album, which Mum bought for me at the HQ, and my collection has begun, on this the 11th day of the first month of 2005.

The artwork is quite fabulous, and it's certainly exciting to explore a hobby as rooted in history and art as this.


This morning, I read Psalm 40 for devotion, partly because I'd listened to a little of U2's song "40" the other day, and thought of reading the psalm that inspired it.

I found the following verse (40:12) from the Message rather catchy in its rhythm and wordplay:

More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

But what was rather most shocking, was 40:6 of the NIV translation:

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced.

I'm probably taking this a little too far, but considering the turn of events and developments in the past year...

I got to know Sivin,
Sivin introduced me to U2,
I started with All That You Can't Leave Behind,
Got hooked on U2
Recently, I'm exploring their earlier works,
War is one of their best early albums,
A song from War is "40",
It's based on Psalm 40,
Psalm 40 speaks of ear-piercing.

Hmmm... is this some sort of sign that I should, *ahem*... pierce?

(Probably not, but it's rather coincidental and surprising all the same)...

Monday, January 10, 2005

On Piercings and More

OK, maybe some of you figured it out, maybe you didn't: I did NOT pierce my ear/ears.

It was quite painstakingly done, that previous post with the photo of a friend's pierced ear, so as to prevent it from being too obvious that I did not pierce; nowhere in that post did I write, "I pierced my ear."

But no, it wasn't a complete joke either. I really have been giving much thought to this, and have asked more than 20 friends about their opinions on ear/body piercings. Here are some of their comments on the idea of piercings:

"Quite normal."
"Girls only. And that only on the ears."
"Nothing wrong."
"You can do it to make a point."
"I don't see a reason to do it."
"Doesn't look cool to me anyway."
"Not in our culture. Religion has less to do with it."
"Ears only."
"Not into it."
"Doesn't glorify God."
"Guys must be rockers to pull it off."
"No point."
"Merely to get attention."
"Whohoho... if a guy's doing it, don't really agree."
"If guys do, it's 'coz of inferiority complex."
"Sick and disgusting."
"Not for guys."
"OK with it, but if wanna pierce do like Pierce of ZITS."
"I'm OK with it."

The persons 'surveyed' shall remain anonymous.

Many of their comments and reactions were based on the assumption that piercings are done either out of boredom or to make a fashion statement. But if ever I pierce, I want it to have a significance beyond that. It must be for something extremely meaningful, so much so that I would want to keep a permanent reminder of it.

And so I wait.


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
A critic wrote, "It doesn't matter for shit to U2 what [a critic] thinks of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. In fact, it doesn't matter for shit what the entire critical legion thinks."

Billboard wrote, "...the album is full of great songs, performed with the vitality of a band that keeps surprising us by simply being itself."

I've known U2 for less than a year, but already I'm inspired by their journey, by their songs. From what I understand, they started with a youthful optimism that went against all that rock music stood for 25 years ago.

They went on to make great political and personal statements in their songs, but almost entirely revamped their image in the 90s. Many look at this phase as a disaster, though some note that without the '90s experiment,' they wouldn't be where they are now.

Visiting their website the other day, I read their comments on their albums, and how they see each as significant in different ways. Perhaps what impresses me most is how they take pride in everything they do; the world may laugh, but not the band itself.

Maybe that's what keeps them together longer than most rock bands. They risk everything -- even their reputation, for it's not their main concern -- to make some points, to express themselves in new ways.

They sing/play for themselves, and ultimately for the One who brought them together at first, and not for the approval of critics and the public. Like Sherlock Holmes, the work is their joy.

And, maybe because of this, their songs sound so much more real and powerful than almost the entire output of the mainstream rock world; they come from the heart, where struggles are articulated in a raw manner unbeknownst to all wanna-be bands.

I hope I can be like that someday, slowly but surely. I'm as old as U2 were when they began recording in 1978-79, and it may take me 25 years or even more, but I aspire to one day be free of the choking thorns of reputation and artificial facades.

Free, one day, to really be who I was made to be.

The Guardian quoted a comment made on U2 by some quarters of rock in the early 80s; "...they've got two hopes of making it: Bob Hope and no hope."

25 years down the road, the obvious verdict now, as expressed by The Guardian, is "it seems highly unlikely anyone will laugh at U2 again."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

God is God

In a word, Tsunami Aid Day was great.

Looking back, I found the rain on that day rather meaningful. OK, maybe not for a fund-raising event, since it deters visitors, I suppose.

But I was once again brought back to that evening at BLC when Sivin and I first discussed mentoring. It was raining, and in a way the showers signalled a new beginning of sorts.

Strange how water can at once be a blessing and a curse. Or maybe they're all blessings, just we'll never see it as the Maker does.

Over the last few days, I've been thinking about Steven Curtis Chapman's song "God is God." The chorus goes,

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture he's painting
God is God and I am man
So I'll never understand it all
For only God is God.

It was inspired by Psalm 8 and Romans 11, parts of which I here quote from the Message:

I look up at your macro-skies , dark and enormous,
Your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favour
That God has to ask his advice?

Probably Sivin's two utterances on the Prayer Board at the event, best capture our response:

"Lord have mercy" and "Help!"

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Post-Concert Musings

Attended the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra's (MPO) New Year concert just now with mum, sister, cousins and my friend Ming-Shien.

As usual, they performed waltzes and polkas from the Viennese dance composers such as Johann Strauss II. This time around, soprano Cyndia Sieden performed several arias from Viennese opera.

The final note of Sieden's last song kind of flopped, as Ming-Shien noticed. To the audience, it might have appeared as though she ended on a note in the lower register of the soprano voice, but it was quite obviously a bit of a slip.

And that got me thinking about the nature of live music, as opposed to a recording of the same piece. Live performances are very vulnerable; conductor mood swings, form of soloists on performance day, hall acoustics, audience response -- all these and more, all contribute to the experience of the music.

On the other hand, recordings tend to have a polished feel about them. Mistakes can be covered up, or the piece can be re-recorded if the conductor is not pleased, whereas in a live performance, it's a take-it-or-leave-it choice.

But while live music tends to be more susceptible to slip-ups and mistakes, it is also extremely awe-inspiring when the concert hall resonates with sheer power at great climaxes. And the subdued moments can be especially eerie and tense when there's pindrop silence, save for the lament of a lone instrument or two.

Anyway, I'm sure Bono and Company would agree that their songs are more suited to large stadiums and arenas, rather than a CD player or even the spanking new U2 Special Edition iPod. There is a communal sense of joy and emotion that is shared between performer(s) and audience that can be electric only in a live setting; for this reason, I cherish these concerts, even if they're merely one-off events.

On a different note, I'll be helping out at the Tsunami Aid Day fund-raising event at Grace Methodist Church tomorrow, in particular assisting May Chin with fishball sales. So much free time after exams last year, it's good to have something to do ;-)

In the evening, I'll be attending an old friend's 18th birthday party. (I knew him since Standard One!) There is a feeling both of forward motion, nostalgia and maybe even bittersweetness about growing older. Yes, with each passing year, we become wiser, but sometimes also blinder and more reckless as we often assume we know more than we really do.

People don't retain innocent childlikeness forever, and in some ways, 18 years is one of the points of departure. But hey, it was when he was 18 that Bono wrote "Out of Control," and that opened up an entirely new chapter in his life. So with all that is unknown, with all the joys and memories we'll cherish of our days as children... it looks like time beckons us forward.

Here's to the years to come, may they break us and build us up again.

Good night.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Thoughts on Piercings

Lately, I've been asking a number of my friends about their opinions on body piercings, and have received all manner of responses.

In particular, I have found the following blog entries helpful:

Andrew Jones and the Ring of Brodgar

Jon Reid and the bathtub of his house

My ship to Orkney hasn't berthed at my port yet, and I have yet to make my pilgrimage to the Jabbok River.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


pierced ear
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I used to tell myself that I would never get my ear/ears pierced; that was quite some time ago.

There is something about knowing you've done something that cannot be reversed, a sense of the frozen past becoming more obvious.

Is it masochistic? Some think so, but then again, the pain subsides after awhile. Then again, some say it turns your body into some sort of Christmas tree, with the ring as the decoration.

But I don't think anything really changes; it's mostly for fun. Not that one's personality suddenly takes an about-turn.

Oh well, it still requires care and attention for the first few weeks, so as not to invite infection ;-)

Be Still and Know

This morning, during my Bible meditation, Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Be Still and Know" played over and over again in my mind. What follows are the verses which inspired the song, in NIV and Message translations;

Psalm 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.

Zechariah 2:13

Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

Quiet everyone! Shh! Silence before God, something's afoot in his holy house. He's on the move!

World Universities Debating Championship Finals

First day of school today. I returned to my alma mater, the Victoria Institution, to say hi to teachers and see what the first day is like from a '3rd person' perspective. Met up with some friends there, and we generally had a great time!

After being away from school for awhile, I seem to miss it; I think most of us either do, or would. One doesn't often realize what one has until it is lost. (Cliche, I know, but isn't much of life like that?)...

In the evening, went with Danial, Dinesh, Kishan and Ming-Shien to watch the World Universities Debating Championship Finals at the DBKL Auditorium. It was equally exciting and a definite 'eye-opener' into the world of international debate. The teams were all in form, and it brought me back in some ways to the great debate experience I had last year.

The motion was "this house believes that corporeal punishment should be brought back into schools" (or something to that effect). The House Speaker made a humorous comment immediately after announcing the motion; "ladies and gentlemen, we hope you have a spanking good time!"

Somehow I got the feeling this time, that good debaters create more points of digression than answers for the motion. They raise awareness rather than solve problems. Another technique I learnt was to answer a Point-of-Information (POI) immediately with a humorous answer, to keep the audience interested while buying time for a solid answer.

I also met Kok Kin there, who is the University of Sydney's coach. He introduced me to the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the Seladang Editorial Board, 1987 (I was last year's EIC), who also happened to be there.

An amazing day I won't forget anytime soon!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Sunrise at STM

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
This was the sunrise on the final morning of d'NA Stage 2 at Seminary Theoloji Malaysia last December.

It was simply heavenly.

Communist Manifesto and Philosophy

I bought Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto two days ago, and it has proven very thought-provoking. It's been a long time since I last read material of this depth and scope, not to mention controversial (unless you count Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian).

Last night, Steven asked me, is it possible to be a Theistic Communist? Sivin's opinion is yes, and they are the Liberation Theologians of South America. Keat Lim noted that much of Christian writing seems influenced by Communist thought, and come to think of it, even the book of Acts may seem pretty Communist in some ways.

Steven also sent me an article on Reforming Theology, which I have yet to work through. I must certainly read it before next weeks Postmodernity Seminar!

He also pointed out that the word 'philosophy' comes from the Greek phileo sophia, which literally means 'lover/friend of wisdom'. That means all are philosophers who love and seek wisdom.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, Jesus is called the 'wisdom of God'. The words phileo sophia are used here; indeed it is a call to people everywhere to become lovers of wisdom, to long for and seek wisdom all the days of our lives. It is high time we become phileo sophia.

Yet it is a known fact that many philosophical ideas are good and praiseworthy... until they are implemented. There is a human factor that interrupts the transition of ideas, no matter how good or flawless, from the mind to the actual world around us. Our context, culture and environment heavily influence the translation of these ideas, hence strict purism is impossible.

Let our hearts and minds be set on the never-ending journey of leading each other into a more real understanding of wisdom and how it ultimately functions in our lives. For it is here, more so than in any other area known to man, that some of the most otherwordly (and if I may say so, heavenly) ideas are wrought. Yet it is also here that the bringing to life of those very ideas is the hardest.

Compatibility issues often arise, and the Matrix awaits us. Phileo Sophia of all countries, unite!

Tsunami Aid Day

This Saturday (8 Jan 2005), Bangsar Lutheran Church and Grace Methodist Church will be organising a Tsunami Aid Day at Grace Methodist, in partnership with World Vision Malaysia.

It's from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. so do come, if only for a short while. There'll be a donation drive (cash & kind), sale of food, an arts and crafts section, and a tribute corner with music, poetry and a powerpoint presentation on the tsunami tragedy. It's a come-and-go-as-you-like event, and no coupons are required.

For more info, e-mail Chin Hor at The venue is just next to the Sentul LRT station.

In aid of the tsunami survivors and in memory of the tsunami victims.

It appears I'll be tagging along with Sivin quite a bit these two months before my NS stint starts in March. (For the record, I've been posted to this place called Pinggir Pelangi in Bandar Muadzam Shah, Pahang). Will follow him to Seri Bintang Utara's CF in February, where he will be giving two talks on the Trinity.

Will also likely tag along next week for a seminar on Postmodernity at the Bible College of Malaysia. It's more for pastors/church leaders/theologians I think, but curiosity has gotten the better of me, and besides, I've got quite a lot of time on my hands ;-)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Sri Lankans and the Tsunami

It often takes disasters to awake us from our 'slumber' of selfishness and individualism. We are forced to decide on what really matters, and often, stupid walls that we create between communities, discriminating against race, religion, nationality, creed... are torn down.

The same has just happened in Sri Lanka. Click here.