Archive for the ‘Personality/Celebrity’ Category

Obama Trump white house meet

(Pic: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo.)

When President Obama welcomed Trump to the White House, he said this to his successor: “Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed — because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.”

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said this in an interview in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Well, big difference. Reminds me of the saying: “What you say about other people reveals more about you than what you say about yourself.”

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Muhammad Ali

(Pic: rollingstone.com)

Muhammad Ali was a global figure, even before the word was widely used.

He was loved by people of almost every nation. Remember, he came onto the scene at a time when there was hardly any larger than life non-Caucasian or Muslim role model on the word stage. With his skills, confidence, fine looks and, and most of all, his insistence that he was accepted for who he was, Ali ignited and inspired the imagination of millions.

I would also argue that many countries at that time were still in the post-colonial, newly independent years, and Ali’s unvarnished bravery and success subconsciously represented the possibilities that black and brown people could aspire to.

The name Muhammad Ali become the most well-known name in the world.

Like everywhere else, he was very well-loved in Singapore and Malaysia. Because of the time difference between the region and the United States, Ali’s boxing matches would be telecast live in this part of the world during the day.

People skipped school and work whenever his matches would be telecast live. Members of our family too skipped school so that we could huddle in front of the TV to see Ali defeat his opponent.

I remember this episode clearly. At that time, our neighborhood had a provision shop/small grocery shop that made home deliveries. We would telephone the owner with our order. The shop assistant would then cycle to our house with the groceries.

About a week or so before one of Ali’s matches, the shop assistant came to our house to make a delivery. He lingered, made small talk, then he whispered to us that he needed a favour. He wanted us, on the day of the match, to call the shop about 10 minutes before the live telecast would start, and to make an order for a delivery. In that way, he could come and watch the match with us.

After he left, we laughed at his cunning. But we did it. We called the shop at the requested time, and he joined our family as we all sat enthralled watching and cheering Muhammad Ali with the rest of the world.

Exceptional; with a charisma that would be hard to duplicate. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

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sheila majid songs

The month of May began with a unique musical note.

Sheila Majid, Malaysia’s jazz diva was in Los Angeles last weekend to give a concert celebrating her 30-year mark in the music scene. Sheila is very popular in many countries in South East Asia, and some of her hits are considered modern classics of Malay music.

I’ve always liked her songs, especially her hits in the 1990s. So I made it a point to be at her performance. She gave a great show, singing her greatest numbers that the audience came to hear, plus segments paying tribute to musicians who have inspired her including Michael Jackson.

Sitting in the theater, listening to her belting out her hits, while the chandelier lights on the stage threw prisms of pink and purple rays, at times I felt that I was in an emotional-dreamy space or some kind of a time tunnel.

You see, In the 1990s, I was living and working in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. And her songs brought me back there.

I was very fortunate to get a career as a feature writer for a daily newspaper in Kuala Lumpur, and those years were among the best working years of my life. To me, there’s nothing like the energy and atmosphere of a newsroom. We always get the news first. I met people from all walks of life, seen many places, while on assignments.

I was in charge of a number of columns including art and women’s issues, and I had great bosses who gave me the independence and trust to manage the columns with minimal interference. I worked with a group of interesting colleagues, and out of this, several life-long friendships have developed.

At that time, my father was still alive and living in Kuala Lumpur as well. He was also a journalist, (he preferred the word ‘newspaperman’) in his younger days. Now that we shared the same profession, we had a lot more to share, discuss, even argue. And I learnt a lot from him.

One of her songs that Sheila sang that night was Aku Cinta Padamu which means “I love you”. It’s a beautiful ballad about a woman who wonders how many times or ways she has to convince a man that she loves him while he remains unsure. It brought a crystal clear memory of a morning ride on the bus, on my way to the newspaper office.

(At the time when I was riding the Metro buses in the city, the driver often had piped in music throughout the bus. Usually it would be from a radio station, the medley of songs entertaining him as well as the passengers on the commute.)

That morning, Aku Cinta Padamu was played by the radio DJ. I was going through the break-up of a long term relationship. And hearing that song, the tears just flowed down. I was both sad and embarassed, quickly trying to wipe the tears, hoping that the passengers who were standing in the bus would not see my meltdown.

But on the whole, the 90s were good years. I actually had seen Sheila performed in Malaysia when she had been invited to sing at a product launch event that I had to cover. In that time between her performance in Kuala Lumpur and this one in Los Angeles, some threads of my life have changed, and some have not. I guess that’s life.

Ah,….songs. They do have their special way of transporting you back to the past.

And so, to everyone who have been a part of the journey, of my years in Kuala Lumpur, thank you for the life experiences and the memories.

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lionel richie concert

Lionel Richie entertained the fans with a selection of his biggest hits.

I’ve always been a Lionel Richie fan. To me, some of his ballads are the most romantic ones ever sung.

So, I was glad to be able to catch his All the Hits All Night Long concert in Southern California recently.

The concert was opened by CeeLo Green who is most well-known via the TV show The Voice.

Then the stage was set up for Lionel Richie, with his piano raised in the middle of the stage.

When he first came on stage, he said: “There are two kinds of people here. Those who have been with me since the beginning, since the Commodores, and those who call me Mr Richie.”

Later, he also quipped: “We have been together for a very long time. Think about it. When I was in love, you were in love. When I fell out of love, you fell out of love … You got old. I stayed young.”

I have to say the man looks good to be 64. But more importantly, his voice sounded almost the same as you hear it over the airwaves, and he gave the fans a continuous flow of hits. The ballads include “Easy” and “Truly” “My Love” interspersed with the faster hits such as “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “All Night Long”.

He ended the concert by graciously thanking the audience, especially the fans who have been with him through the years.

It was really an enjoyable show. And it was also inspiring to see and to comprehend the kind of passion and dedication that has made Richie one of the best-selling artists of all time.

lionel richie concert

(pic: OC Register)




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money and marriage

It was reported that Michael Jordan and his new bride signed a prenup. (pic: bet.com)

The rich are different from you and me.

Couldn’t help thinking of this quote when I read about Michael Jordan’s prenuptial agreement with his new bride, model Yvette Prieto.

It was reported that should the couple end up divorcing, she will receive $1 million for every year that they stay married. And if the marriage lasts for 10 years, she will receive $5 million per year in the event of a divorce.

It was also said that the prenup will protect Jordan’s huge fortune.

I guess $1 million is small change to Jordan, in comparison to his total wealth.

Well, what about us regular womenfolk? What do we get, after a year, or several years of marriage. Let me count the ways.

The first year of marriage, he tells you on Valentine’s Day: “This is your day. You don’t have to cook” So we eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As the years go by, the Valentine dining out treats dwindle to two, then one. In some years, the treat metamorphoses into one of those standard heart-shaped box of candies.

The first year, he is all attentive to your words. As the years go by, a husband seems to lose the ability to hear the questions that you ask. Often,you have to repeat two, or even three times, before you get an answer or some kind of response.

Unlike Yvette Prieto, for regular womenfolk, you bank account may or may not grow during marriage.

But, then again, some things do grow in the relationship/bonding account: things like a shared history, and someone who knows your idiosyncrasies, and more importantly, someone who tolerates them.

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going for gold

Gabby: she can fly. (Pic: AP/ Huffington Post)

Watching the Olympics women gymnastics team finals on Tuesday night, I, like many others who have expressed similar views, noticed that the NBC commentators hardly praised or said a good word about Gabby Douglas’ performance.

They kept harping on how she almost quit, and how “lucky” she was to have a sister who always persuaded her to continue.

There is an excellent post about this at this blog : “The first to do floor, Gabby’s performance received a score of 15.066. Solid. I literally waited on the commentators to find anything good to say about the routine. *Crickets* They said virtually nothing.” Read also the observations of other viewers.

I felt that the commentators’ efforts to marginalize or diminish her abilities were really biased and unprofessional.

But Gabby went on to win the women’s gymnastics all-around gold medal. Her determination to succeed and metal toughness are indeed inspiring. Congratulations!

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incomparable voice


I remember a year in the 1990s, when it was announced in the media that Whitney Houston would be performing in Singapore, there was an excited buzz among her many fans in Singapore and Malaysia.

A fan myself, I was happy to be able to attend the concert and to see Whitney perform.

When Whitney walked onstage, I could see that she looked as beautiful in person as she did in the videos. Like all true talent, she brought her own brand of magnetism to the room.

I remember there was an announcement that the air-conditioning in the venue would be switched off because Whitney had concerns about its effect on her voice. I suppose it could be due to the contrast between the cool air of the air-conditioning and the hot, humid air on the outside, something that could effect discomfort to the throat in tropical countries.

The fans didn’t mind. It was a fast-paced concert; Whitney thrilled the fans with her hits. She saw a group of young men and women near the stage who looked like African-Americans. Curious, she asked them: “Where are you guys from?” She didn’t quite catch the answer, and asked them again. “Cuba! Cuba!” they all shouted together.

At one point, an assistant came out with a small towel. Whitney perfunctorily wiped her face with it, then playfully threw it to the audience who jostled to catch it.

Soaring voice, incredible range, beautiful songs. Thank you for all the music.

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Landau wins wth smooth style

Landau...great voice and a feel-good story. (Pic: Nbc Universal/dailymail.com )

I’m  glad that Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. won the “America’s Got Talent” Season Finale with his very enjoyable rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”.

He is such a smooth, talented singer, with a style that makes it seem so effortless.

I was also struck by something he said in one of the clips before his performance. “Don’t stereotype me…because I’ll come outside the box for something else,” he said with a smile.

Well, I really dislike people stereotyping others. And there are people in this world who have low expectations of others, and behave according, based on how an individual looks.

Landau has shown that one can rise above the perceptions of others, and excel at something you love.

“A Star is Born” – many people on the Net are using this phrase to describe his journey in this competition. From working at the car wash to his success, Landau exemplifies the American story and spirit of second chances and plugging at your dream.

Landau, we look forward to more of your music.

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Palin...wants to trademark her name. (Pic: Reuters)

Sarah Palin is taking steps to trademark her name, it was reported recently.

The former 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor filed paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the trademark.

“Sarah Palin listed usage of the trademark for a website featuring information about political elections; political issues; and educational and entertainment services, including motivational speaking in the fields of politics, culture, business and values, “ Mercurynews.com reports.

Palin is a figure who often excites strong emotions, from both her supporters and critics. Since we are on the topic of the usage of names, let’s talk about an interesting aspect of language. That is, how new words are created out of names of people or objects, and then assume popular usage.

Palin’s name, for instance, based on her performance in the 2008 elections has led to the creatioin of a new descriptive word “palinesque”. It has mainly negative meaning such as “superficial, lacking in depth”. The Urban Dictionary defines it as “When someone doesn’t answer a question, and immediately changes the topic.”

In the case of object names that have become verbs, two come into mind: the Xerox printer and Google search engine. Some years back, the name Xerox soon became synonymous with “to make a photocopy”, as in “Can you please xerox this for me?”

More recently, the name Google has become verb which means using the search engine to find out more information. As an example: sometimes, when you meet a person at an event and are curious to find out more about him/her, later you Google the person’s name. (A friend thinks this practice invades a person’s privacy but I suspect most people have done this.)

fatal attraction

Glenn Close in Fatal attraction, which means an out of control attraction. (Pic:knowthemovies.com)

And then there is the title from the movie “Fatal Attraction” starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. The phrase “fatal attraction” has been absorbed into the language to mean an obsessive and dangerous attraction, or when a spurned partner becomes vengeful.

It’s quite fascinating to see what other name will capture people’s imagination, and take on its own meaning in the living language that we use everyday.

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Michael Jordan and success

Michael...talent and strong determination. (Pic: Sports Illustrated)

February is Black History Month, celebrating the contributions that the African-American community have made to the history and culture of the nation.

My thoughts landed on Michael Jordan, considered one of the best basketball players of all time, and a quote by him that I came across a couple of years ago. I found it insightful and inspiring. It showed that like many high achievers, he did not let bumps and challenges deter him from his goal:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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