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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Ultimatum of Hip Hop: Prepix Style

I'm not much of a dancer. I've had my share of embarrassing attempts before. But I do have lots of students who are so into it that they dance until they drop ... drop in their grades that is.

Dance to me is an art form. And to me, anything that is remotely related to art, I LIKE. However, there are certain limitations. Ballet is one of them. The images of men prancing around in tights with their bulging packages is too much for me to bear.

I've always told myself that if I had that one opportunity to learn music, it'd have to be the piano cos it allows a great deal of expression. And if there's one dance that I can learn, it'd have to be tap & jazz combined.

But now, when I saw this, I changed my mind. I wanted to learn some serious hip hop too!

I was never that much fascinated with hip hop (cos they're mostly just booty-shaking nowadays) until I saw these guys doing it. They're based in Korea & have somehow cemented this particular style which they call the Prepix Style.

For lack of a better description, I'd say that their moves remind me of a broken record, or digital video being fast forward. Either that or it evokes the experience of watching a bad copy of a pirated DVD movie.

Sometimes, you'd see some serious slo-mo bullet-time movements like in Matrix. In general, their style seems to be a reflection of the influence of techno-culture that is very much prevalent in the generation of today.

The whole thing is amazing to watch & it can be quite fixating. Now I understand why my students could dance until they fail their exams, and I hope they don't see these videos, otherwise they will never graduate.

Friday, December 4, 2009

KPOP: 8eight

I think some of you would just cringe at the mention of the word pop music. You know, I really can't blame you & I'm sometimes guilty as well for indulging shamelessly in bubble gum pop (like Shohjo-Tai I hope you didn't see this)

In the music industry of today, we've been fed with so much manufactured pop, sweetened sounds, electronic filters & effects, the glitz & glamour, the dance, the fashion & the coolness that comes with it, that we forget what music is really about. Remember this?

Milli Vanilli doing their thang in tight tights.
(Why in the world did this group have to exist?)

What we sometimes forget is that at the heart of it all, what really matters is the power of the human voice that stirs & uplifts us. This is about singing like Alicia Keys or Beyonce or Fergie from Black Eyed Peas.

(Quick off-tangent: I've always wondered what the heck black eyed peas are. Now I know.)
But fear not dear readers, for there is hope! In 2007, the world suddenly got better by one notch when an unknown trio who calls themselves 8eight (for unknown reasons) won a survivor-like singing competition on Korean TV. Observe, their prowess on stage.

Now when you have someone singing in front of you like that, without dressing up, without the lights, without the mike, it really makes a lot of difference.

This is what real singing is about. It is singing in its most natural form, the human voice stripped bare, unplugged. This is why talents like 8eight rocks.

If you put me in front of them, I will melt like Milli Vanilla ice-cream.

It's true talents like this that makes us think twice before picking up the karaoke mike. But then again, some people have skin as thick as the Great Wall of China on their faces. Have you seen American Idol? I rest my case.

OMG Milli Vanilli is stuck in my head. I regret putting up that picture of the two of them in the super tights. I shall have nightmares tonight.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Art of Popping: U-Min

A long time ago, when I was a teen with raging hormones & volcanic acne on my face & nobody understood me, one movie came out that changed my life forever.

Yes, I know. They had funny clothes & one of them actually had leotards on. But you see, that was the 80s & they were supposed to be cool at that time.

But what was even cooler was the way they danced.
And it was a new revolutionary dance at that time that came from the streets. It was called THE BREAKDANCE (in deep Darth Vader-like booming voice with echo effect).

There was of course the moonwalk which got stuck with Michael Jackson till the day of his death.

And the turtle.

And the worm.

And the windmill.

And the head spin.

And the wave.
And it was the coolest thing ever, and everyone was doing it, and I was on. I had my 80s baggy pants on, rented the poorly recorded VHS tapes of breakdancing competitions in the US & I breaked the dance.

Now looking back, I think I must have looked pretty stupid attempting it. I thank God every night before I go to bed that I do not have pictures of those moments.

There's this really cool group in Japan called U-Min & they do popping. They've been able to bring the art of the dance to the ultimate level. Enjoy.

And I'm just glad I didn't go for the leotards.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ah Beng Do the Ultimate Man Thing

I went for a fire safety training sometime back in October. Now it wasn't because I was inspired by the great controversial 9th Mile Kuching fire which happened around that time, but it was more like I had no choice.

But my initial folded-arm reservations were eventually transformed into the anticipation of a 6-year old with twinkling eyes when told that we'd be doing the whole gamut of firemen activities including hosing, pole sliding & fire engine rides.

I don't know about you, but I was sold. I mean who doesn't want to hose a fire, slide down the pole & ride on the red truck with the sirens on? I was on.

Every single little boy wanted to be a fireman at least once in their childhood ... or an arsonist.
Every single grown man harbours a dark secret to be a sexy fireman. Well, there are a few who wants to be Barbie but that's another subject matter.

The whole training was designed to slowly get us warmed up into the game. We had to do the usual warming up exercises which included running around the grounds.

And also the compulsory basking under the hot sun.
But every torture has its rewards. You'd just have to earn it.

That was me sliding down the pole with full speed line effects.

And we got to sit in the real cockpit of action.
And we also got to put on the full firemen suit & helmet. But not everyone was rushing in for this deal cos you might want to think about who was in it before. These things were not exactly required to be sent to the laundry. In fact, you could still smell the last fire on it.

This was a colleague of ours. Look at him. He's probably reliving his childhood dream of becoming Ultraman.

And then the real training began.

We were taught how to roll out the hoses.

And how to work as a team to connect the hoses to the fire truck, and to other hoses.
Look at that, the guy on the right runs like a girl. Maybe he didn't want to become a fireman. Maybe he wanted to be Barbie.

And then finally the ultimate rush.

Looking back, something transformed within us that day. We all became real men, including that little lady on the left.
But for those of us who were already real men, like me, we became the ultra men of manliness who knew how to handle their hoses & their poles.

I believe after this incredible experience of transformation, some of us would even go home to our store rooms and start throwing away our Barbie collection.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ah Beng Shows Off Talents: PART 4

By now, you would have guessed why I haven't been posting regularly. I guess it's excusable cos I have not been exactly doing nothing. Fear not, I have not given up blogging. In fact, I do have quite a few things lined up. The only problem is that the queue is not moving.

Show Off No. 4:
Title: Iris
Dimensions: 4' 8" X 3' 4"

As with most of my paintings, I usually start off not knowing what the heck I was doing. I only knew that I wanted something circular, cos I wasn't done with that concept yet.

I decided to use only Blue & White to give a monochromatic feel, something that might emit that kind of underwater deep ocean feel.

But in the end, I thought it looked more like a flower rather than a micro-organism.

But a photographer friend thought that it looked like an eye & that I should call it The Iris, and I did.
And I guess it worked well if you see what I mean.

Sorry if I scared the kids like that but I was just trying to prove a point.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ah Beng Shows Off Talents: PART 3

Hey people. I know I haven't been posting & I'm guilty a hundred times over. But modesty is not my last name, for the skin on my face is as thick as the Great Wall of China. This Ah Beng knows no shame. I will not apologise, but on the contrary, I am going to show off some more.

I call this Dreaming in Red (Big). It measures about 4' X 5.5' thereabouts. Oops. Sorry. I checked. It's actually 4' 8" X 3'4". (Another gross exaggeration in true Ah Beng style)

Observe the myriad of colours & shades. (Actually there's only two - Red & White)

Let the colours inspire & move you deep down at the very core of your being. Surrender yourself to its random explosions & movements of feelings & emotions.

Come to think of it, it's either you're having a sensual orgasm right now, or a splitting headache.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ah Beng Shows Off Talents: PART 2

Continuing my uncontrollable urge to show off, or to put it more nicely, to share my work of happiness with you, here are my Dreaming in Blue series:

Dreaming in Blue (small) approx. 18" X 18"

Dreaming in Blue (big) approx 4' 8" X 3'4"
These were all done sometime back in July.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ah Beng Shows Off Amazing Talents: PART 1

Wow. I'm sitting here with my laptop in front of me, and I'm finding it really difficult to write. It's been a while since my last post, and once the momentum has stopped, it's hard to start the engine again.

I have been busy doing a lot of stuff. Most of it are work related, and some of it have got nothing to do with work. I've been doing a lot of painting and have been squeezing my artistic juices for the last 2-3 months. Fortunately, I've been able to make a bit of headway into this hobby. Otherwise I'd be juiceless-ly dry by now, like a dried prune, or maybe like salted fish, which smells.

And so, right now, right here, I'm going to shamelessly show-off my spectacular talents on this amazing blog of mine. (Why is my blog amazing? Because even when I don't update it for months, people still mysteriously drop by)

Oklah. Maybe my paintings are not so spectacular after all. These were just a few of the earlier ones that I did a while ago.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ong Bak 2 Late

Tony Jaa basically leaped out of my TV screen when Ong Bak first came out in 2003.

This guy is not human. He kills people with his knees & elbows.

5 years after his debut, after a string of action films, Ong Bak 2 came out in December 2008. And guess what? Being slow as usual, I just finished watching the movie a couple of days ago. Still fresh from all that action, I still have the tendency to do the signature Tony Jaa quick-elbow-strike-combined-with-front-leg-stomp action when no one's watching.

The production of Ong Bak 2 wasn't without its problems. I think it was Tony Jaa's directorial debut, & production ran way off budget, running for 3 years, & Tony Jaa had to disappear into the jungle to meditate, literally, seriously. That's what I read in the news.

But lucky for us, the jungle boy re-emerged, & we've got a movie to watch.

Ong Bak 2 definitely had more action than its predecessors, partly cos Tony Jaa didn't have to talk. Dialogues were provided by the other actors. The only sound that came out of Tony's mouth was AARRGH & YAAAAAA. With the dialogues out of the way, it left a lot of room for more action.

Now, what I liked about this movie was Tony Jaa's demonstration of his mastery of the other martial arts like:

The Samurai Swordfight.

Strong Wind Down South Below.
No, I don't really know what that was but I think it's something like Iron Fist.

Snake Kungfu.
And I think there was also the eagle claws somewhere in there, which were all the usual traditional Chinese kungfu styles that you'd find in any 70s movie.

But then, out of nowhere came this black dude who proceeded to strip down to his panties in front of Tony Jaa.
And the fight was strange cos they would roll on the ground & the black dude would always attack from behind.

In a very strange way, it reminded me that fighting is actually very physically intimate. And there's a lot of physical contact & rubbing which I find to be worrying if your sparring partner is secretly gay, & he's taking advantage of the situation, like the black dude here.

Even in the end if you win, like Tony Jaa here, it makes you think twice about who's actually the real winner, who actually gets the most out of the fight.

I think in this case, in this particular lockdown position, it looks like the secret gay black dude guy who likes to attack from behind has the upper hand. It looks like Tony Jaa's modesty has been grossly violated & he doesn't even know it.