Sunday, December 16, 2007

World of Idols

The first Idol show I followed was American Idol Season 3, and if memory serve me right, it was in the same year of the first and only World Idol. I caught that on a repeat telecast and it was the first time I saw Kelly Clarkson in action. (Well.. I don't watch a lot of TV or listen to the radio much then). Kelly sang Natural Woman and I thought, "How can she only won second place? The other contestents aren't even half as good as her!" Clips from her time in American Idol shows an adorable bubbly personality and her attention to what the judges said display such intelligence and openness to constructive critism. (some contestents actually argued with the judge, I recalled one who cussed too). I mean.. what a woman... my kinda gal.

Could not find a clip of her in World Idol. This is a similar performance in American Idol.

And then of course Kurt Nilsen from Norway opened his mouth and I can only go, "Oh.. ooooh!" Kurt Nilsen won the World Idol hands down fair and square.
It was 8TV (best free TV channel in the country) that brought the Idol show to Malaysia 4 years ago with Malaysian Idol. The other stations wouldn't bring it in because the franchise was too expensive. 8TV makes no secret that its intention was to send a Malaysian Idol onto the world stage and our very first Idol, Jaclyn Victor proved that she has the prowess to be there. Unfortunately, there was never a second World Idol show.
The good news however, is that the first Asian Idol, with idols from six Asian countries, just finished its competition stage some half an hour ago as I am typing this. And our first Malaysian Idol was right up there with Singapore Idol, Vietnam Idol, Philippines Idol, Indonesia Idol and India Idol. I'm not good with names so I can't remember them but the Vietnam Idol is really pretty. Poor gal is not too happy when one judge commented that whether she can sings or not, she has the greatest commercial value of all the contestents there. She wants to hear compliment on her singing, not her look. She already knows she is pretty. What a character. Nice...
OK... Jaclyn Victor! She definitely did Malaysia proud. I think she has the most powerful vocal there. One judge said that she is too technical but I think that is one skill where she really outperformed the other. On the judge point that it was too technical that she failed to immersed herself in the song? I'm not sure, I didn't quite notice.
But the Idol is a win by votes competition. How can the show avoids bias judgement? Every countries is bound to vote for their own idol right? The Asian Idol solution is that each voter has to votes for two favourites or his/her vote will not count. This way I can vote for my own idol as well as another deserving Idol at the same time. For example, I voted Malaysia as well as each other country three times. That means each Singapore Idol, Vietnam Idol, Philippines Idol, Indonesia Idol and India Idol each got three votes from me while Malaysian Idol got 15. Suddenly, I am not too sure about their system. If 10 million Malaysians vote as I did, imagine what the score would be for Jaclyn? But then again, what is our measly population compared to India or Indonesia? My condolences to Vietnam and Singapore, by the way.
I recalled the system in the World Idol was that you cannot vote for your own country (unless you happened to be in another country at the time of voting). The result from each country is first individually ranked and then collectively tabulated. Using point system determined by the contestents' ranking, the rightful winner is finally fairly announced.
My suspicion for Asian Idol is that they will eliminate all the own country vote, otherwise Indonesia Idol will almost certainly wins. Why asking us to vote for 2 countries in the first place when they intend to do that then?
To ensure that we DO vote. One possible reason there wasn't a second World Idol is probably the lack of response to voting. By letting us vote for 2 countries, they tugged at our spirit of patriotism to support our local Idol as well as ensuring that we send votes for someone else that we think deserved to win. Yes.. I too can get very technical.
Which also means damn.. I just sent 3 votes for each country against my own. Oops..
Another thing I really wonder about is the quality of the sound mixing. The judges loved Philippines Idol's rendition of Reach but to me, it was rather flat without much high and low, as if she was saving her breath for an explosive ending which I thought she failed to deliver. When they show the recap however, it was totally different as she was actually really powerful. That was what the judges hear. That was what brought in the positive comments. Unfortunately for the home audiences, the poor sound mixing of the broadcast understated the true extend of the Idols' talent.
In my humblest and most honest opinion, I still think Malaysian Idol delivered the best performance. Jacyln Victor's vocal and showmanship (especially her showmanship) is unparalleled to the other Idols.
Yes.. I voted for my own Idol but my opinion is only 5% biased.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Do our education lack a secret recipe?

I really need to write about something other than movie review.

Jaclyn sent me a link today on sales event in Malaysia and the first thing that caught my eyes is the Secret Recipe's 10th year anniversary celebration where they will be giving away one free cake with every cake purchased.
Being one of the most popular cakes in town, there is naturally a lot of excitement. In the forum, people started asking if anyone knows what are the term and conditon, or if there will be a limit to how many cake a single customer can purchase, what cakes are available in this promotion..
My initial thought is this is probably restricted to dine in order only but nobody seems to have the answer. I did the only thing I can do then. I clicked on the link provided to Secret Recipe website.
Lo and Behold!
All the information are there. Why can't anyone just click on the damned link? Is that so much of a hassle? Is it more productive to ask in the forum and keep checking for an answer that never comes? Do we blame the government for an incompetent education system that apparently left us all waiting to be spoon fed all the times?
If anyone is curiuos, the... know what? nobody should wait to be spoonfed. Anyone who is interested to know only need to know one thing. All info is in the Secret Recipe website!

Delightfully Enchanting

Two fairy tales in a week and I love them both. I hope I am not getting soft.
But while Stardust is a tale of adventure and destiny, Enchanted is about something even greater - love.
Don't let my choice of words fool you. Enchanted is nowhere as epic or grand as Stardust. It is just much more delightful to watch.
Starting off as a cartoon, with the beautiful Giselle and the handsome Prince Edward falling in love at first sight, the movie quickly took a twist when Prince Edward's evil stepmother, reluctant to step down from the throne as Queen, banished Giselle into another world. Our world, or the middle of New York City, to be precise.
New York City is a world very different from the enchanted land of Andalasia. The sweet and innocent Giselle would not last one night in New york had she not meet dashing lawyer Robert who happened to be passing by with his daughter. Giselle however, is not doomed to be stuck in New York forever as her chipmunk friend, Pip saw everything and alerted the prince to come rescue her.
As with most of the leading ladies in traditional fairy tales, Giselle is full of love,ever kindhearted, eternally optimistic, hopelessly trusting, enjoys cleaning the house, speak to animal, sings at every opportunity.. the list goes on. In short, she gives us every reason to love her, provided we do not overdosed from her sweetness. From her horror upon arrival, to her delight of making new friend, to her cluelessness of the way of our world, and her joy when she sings, Amy Adams fits into this animated role so effortlessly she might as well be an animation herself.
Equally animated, Prince Edward was also swallow, as was every Prince Charming in existence. If we looked back at all those Disney cartoons, the prince never did anything but show up in the end of the movie to marry Snow White or Cinderella. At least in Sleeping Beauty, he fought a dragon. Still, it was fun to watched him basking in his own glory of greatness and courage.
Robert was probably the least remarkable of the three characters. But he is dashing and Dempsey does dashing well. All the ladies would swoon over him. The children I suspect, would prefer the prince.
It was a fun filled movie with plenty of laugh worthy moments and a few good song. It was the characters that made this movie comes alive, most notably Amy Adams's excellent portrayal of Giselle. Clearly a children film but the dance sequence near the end was so well done it upped the romance element several notches. The humour would appeal to most comedy lovers too. Definitely the best date movie I ever seen, if only I had a date.
Ah.. maybe it won't be long before I found my true love kiss..

Friday, December 7, 2007

Shining Stars

There are times when I just want to be thrilled by nerve-wrecking action on screen, or awed with the acrobatic prowess of a martial art exponent. Other times, nothing engaged me more than the mind game and strategy two brilliant opponents employed on one another. Then again, sometimes I just want to laugh my heart out on the silliest matter. But nothing really beat the charm and delight of watching a fairy tale.Stardust is a story about a young man's journey across the wall from the mortal world of Wall, England into the magical world Stormhold to retrieve a fallen star to prove his love to a girl. In that realm however, the star took the form of another beautiful girl. Young Tristan convinced the star, Yvaine to follow him home so he may present her to his love. Unknown to them however, hot on their trail is a wicked witch intended to capture the star, whose heart is able to restore her youth and a prince aftering her for a jewel she found and wore, so he may rightfully take the throne.
The story may not be much, and we can already guess of the happy ending. But it was the journey, not the destination that matter the most isn't it? Neil Gaiman had fill the story with some very likable and memorable characters as well as interesting concepts. The very idea of a fallen star taking the form of a human is by itself fresh. It was delightful how she literally shines when she is filled with joy. Then there are the ghosts of dead princes stranded on earth until a new king is crowned, which made for good laugh. The magic chain that rebond after it is cut is a simple but neat idea. But my favourite has to be the flying ship, with net that flap out like wings, used to collect lightning in stormy skies and subsequently sold as spell.
The movie has an easy flow with everything tying up nicely in the end. While I am not too familiar with Neil Gaiman's work, the film was too apparently light for his style. I was told that the original story was darker and does not have a happy ending. Although fans will swear that the book is much better, and the work is illustrated by Charles Vess, whose works I absolutely adore, I am not too sure I want to know the story in any other way than what was portrayed in the movie.