letters of note

I used to write letters, inspired by a friend who liked to write too.  I knew the exact sort of pen I liked to write letters with.  I remember the aching and crimped fingers at the end of a long one, and the lazier calligraphy that would accompany that tiredness.

Now she doesn’t, and I haven’t for a long time.

Recently I came across a blog called “Letters of Note”, after coming across this post about a letter that a kamikaze pilot wrote to his children

I read that letter, and I see a father’s love, and a conviction that, if passed on to his children, would not bode well for peace. 

More more more

Okay okay, so, I can’t stop.

天天想你 is one of those songs that, were I to hear it on the radio, I would marvel at my luck, and at how long ago I last heard it, and then I would think about getting a 張雨生 (English Wikipedia entry) CD (he sang the song), and then I’d wonder whether they still sell any. (The chap died in a car accident a while back.)

Through the magic of YouTube, I found 3 (!!) versions.

This first one is the original one. Sounds rather more dramatic than I remember it.

This second one is an amazing ‘live’ slow rock version. 天天想你 apparently happens to be 五月天‘s (Mayday) favourite song (even though lead singer 阿信 got the lyrics wrong…). In this video, at about the 4min 10sec mark, one of the band members proposes to his girlfriend! I found it touching that the band members were so obviously thrilled when she nodded and nodded and nodded :)  (Okay, so it was a tad staged…)

This third one is my favourite. 陳綺貞‘s (English Wikipedia entry) pure, effortless performance, laced with bits of improv, made for a terrific homage to a song she used to listen to on a broken Walkman and still occasionally hums.

Ukulele

When I first knew 优客李林, I thought their name was supposed to be a play on the word “ukulele”. They were a short-lived (1991-1996), but immensely popular duo, which always reminded me of the Japanese duo Chage & Aska – especially because both duos featured someone who wore shades all the time.

Their biggest hit was arguably their first one: 认错. Felt like reminiscing today, so dug up a couple of versions via YouTube. Enjoy.

The single version:

The ‘live’ version:

I had a really good secondary school and JC friend who loved 优客李林. After I started working, I bumped into him a few times. Although we never kept in contact, our conversations were always comfortable, if truncated. I hope he is well now.

I remember this to be his favourite 优客李林 song.

Back

So I had dinner with some university classmates recently. I think the fact that we are all current or former Government employees says something about Singapore, but I’m not sure what.

Also recently, I saw a photo of our graduating class at a friend’s blog. It’s been more than four years since the photo was taken, and I’ve forgotten most of the day’s happenings, but I remember the emotions: in the beginning, taut tension* and camaraderie^; then, as we realised that the procession of graduates would take a fairly long while, the nervous energy started to dissipate and we started to get more comfortable, really soak in the occasion. We talked about classmates who had chosen to miss the ceremony and cringed when a graduate tripped, stumbled and nearly fell on her face on stage and mentally warned ourselves against doing the same. Then it was our turn, and in an orderly line we snaked our way out of the rows of chairs and onto the bottom of the stage. We were supposed to walk up the stairs to the stage and a little further, then stop for a photo to be taken – one’s face would then be displayed on a large screen, for the benefit of the audience – and then walk to receive the degree from the person who was presenting the degree, where another photo was to be taken (I believe it was President Nathan presenting the degree; it was; I just checked the photo). We went up in time-honoured alphabetical order, and Afdillah (what is he doing right this moment, I wonder?) made us all laugh by making a funny face at the camera.

One thing I used to do in school that I don’t think a lot of folks knew about: I’d get in early in the morning, go to the media centre, walk down the spiral stairway to its basement and, there among the computers and shelves of books and with the morning sun streaming in from between the window blinds, if there was no one around (which was usually the case that early in the morning), do cartwheels on the carpeted floor. I doubt I can do cartwheels anymore.

*I wonder now whether it was because I was going to be presented on stage with something I had worked four years for, or because my parents and grandma were there to see me receive it.

^I remember a near-acquaintance unexpectedly helping me with my unruly graduation gown – a sign of the sort of esprit de corps we felt among us that day – but the camaraderie was a little strained because, despite numerous promises to remain friends and keep in touch, we knew deep down we were in no informed position to make those promises.

Eyes on me

So “Eyes on me”, that not-very-well-pronounced but still captivating theme song of the hit role-playing game Final Fantasy VIII, is playing on my iTunes now. Faye Wong has such a fantastic voice, and the song lyrics are sometimes so evocative (“I kind of liked it your way, how you shyly placed your eyes on me; did you ever know that I had mine on you?” always gets me), that one can more or less overlook the mis-pronounciations. (Wait, I need to stop typing a bit – the flute part is just starting to play now…)

I’ve never played FF8, though my sis is a gi-normous fan (she hates Rinoa, I think). I first heard “Eyes on me” when I saw the music video. This girl with a serious case of porcelain complexion was on the screen, and I instinctively saw that the grass in the meadow on which she was prancing was too green, too well defined, the shadows too sharp-edged. And after about ten minutes of playing the video on a loop and struggling to visually comprehend it, I realised it was animation – the girl with the serious case of porcelain complexion was a cartoon, albeit with the most lifelike of expressions. Heh – as I listen to the song now I can remember exactly how I felt; I can feel again what I felt: the wonder of it; staring at the girl’s flawless complexion and thinking that’s too perfect, it’s got to be animation; then seeing the girl smile a quick wry smile, smile in her eyes, in the most natural motion imaginable and thinking, that cannot be fake.

It was only after I convinced myself that it was animation that I realised that Faye Wong was singing this incredibly moving song, with its kooky yet touching lyrics and nigh-perfect blend of Faye Wong’s voice and orchestraic composition.

Through the magic of youtube, many community-produced versions of the “Eyes on me” music video can be viewed. Here’s one. Enjoy.

A little tip for youtube newbies: Hit the “play” button, then hit it again to pause the video. This allows the video to download. Wait for the entire video to download before hitting “play” again to savour the video in its uninterrupted entirety :)

P/S. Found this little tidbit about the role of the song in the continuity of the game world on wikipedia. Amazing how deeply realised game worlds are.

Back…

So eight years ago, during the first World Cup of Zidane, a more naive, more incomplete me stepped into the not-so-hallowed walkway at the School of Communication Studies (fondly and forever remembered as CS). By the next World Cup, I had spent the best four years of my life there. And last evening, six classmates and I spent a food-fueled, laugh-filled evening at our old stomping ground (well, okay – more like mugging-for-exams, rushing-for-video-projects, staying-overnight-for-newspaper-production ground).

I had not been back to CS at night for a long time, but a familiar scene greeted me as we unloaded from the taxi. The layout of the ground floor had not changed. The tree at the atrium might have been a little taller. Handcrafted-then-photocopied posters exhorting students to join the CS Club made themselves obvious on pillars and doors. The benches – heavy wooden picnic-tables with seats attached, where we had always spent time talking, studying, napping – littered the central area. Between two pillars, thick string stretched, laden with cards and papers clipped to the string with wooden clothes pegs. Our cohort had too used wooden clothes pegs (cheap mah – we were students, remember) to affix such messages in this exact manner. Even the occasional cooling breeze seemed like an old acquaintance.

Trevor was waiting for us at one of these benches – I don’t know why he chose one at the edge of the whole ensemble. We noisily greeted him and plonked down our bags of fast food and junk food. We are great proponents of healthy food, you understand – after all, we also brought along a half-dozen tetrapaks of green tea – but we also like having other food around.

At the end of the night, after we had talked easily separately and together, after we had made fun of the one among us whom we made fun of the most and each one of the others, after Trevor had reprised his multi-reprised role of photographer, after an impromptu birthday celebration, after we had polished off the food we could, after we had decided who would pile into Trevor’s car and who would try their luck at getting a cab, we parted, as if we would get together again, the seven of us, very soon.

And we will :)

P/S. Terrie’s doing her Master’s in CS, and she has a nice office there. Weijie’s working at the business school nearby, and his office was more used, and more cluttered. I found myself quietly envying them both. (Terrie also has a new tablet PC, folks.)