Sunday, 30 July 2017

Drummer boy

The Swee Cheok Tong (瑞鵲堂) was invited to attend the 25th anniversary dinner of the Youth Section of the Chay Yeong Tong Sin Quah Chuah Chong Soo (济阳堂辛柯蔡宗祠) last night. My apprehension in attending such dinner functions was somewhat tempered when I learnt that my vice-president would also be seated at the same VIP table as me. Well, not the VVIP table - that would be left to the officer-bearers of the Sin Quah Chuah main committee - but still considered important enough to be seated with the representatives of other Chinese associations from around the country.

What I didn't expect was to be invited up on the stage to participate in a drum session. They had to call my name for me to realise that I would be required to be present together with a host of other "drummers." Oh well.... Anyway, the appreciation gift will be kept at the Swee Cheok Tong later when we have one of our committee meetings.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Simon Junior and Patrina

I thought calamity had struck me a very long time ago when I managed to spoil one of my prized 45rpm records. Due to some mishap - I have forgotten what had happened - the record cracked and an edge had chipped off which left it in an unplayable condition. Imagine the heartbreak that followed. This was a rather unique song by a local Indian singer named Anura Simon. He went by the stage name of Simon Junior and had released quite a number of 45s singing Chinese songs with English lyrics. But he was also a member of a Singapore band called Maurice and the Melodians, playing drums. In the 1960s, Maurice and the Melodians were a popular A-Go-Go instrumental band that backed countless Chinese singers.

By some good luck I laid my hands on a replacement copy of this same 45rpm record more than four years ago when the family of a late friend gave me the latter's record collection to me after he died. I didn't notice the record's presence until several months had passed when I finally sat down to go through my new treasure chest. Hey, here was the record again and this copy was intact.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Wimbledon underwear

I read this commentary in the online version of the UK's The Guardian newspaper. It was about the Wimbledon dress code whereby all players were required to wear white on the courts:

Of all the rules at Wimbledon – and there are many – surely none is more outdated than one referring to players’ clothing. Not the part that insists they should wear “almost entirely white” attire, something players do not mind. But rather the one that refers to the colour of their underwear and how visible it is during play. First Venus Williams was asked to change her pink bra in a first-round match, which drew a suitably clipped response to a media inquiry: “I don’t like talking about bras in press conferences. It’s weird.” On Wednesday, four junior doubles players were asked to change their underwear because it could be seen under their white shorts, and on Thursday the 18‑year‑old Austrian Jurij Rodionov was asked by a supervisor to show her his underwear. “Yesterday I wore black pants and nobody said anything and today I wore blue and suddenly it’s a problem,” he said. “It was a big surprise for me.” Rodionov said Wimbledon provided him with two white pairs. “One was a little bit too big but these ones were OK,” he said. Asked if the rule was outdated, he said: “Wimbledon is always special. Maybe it’s a little bit too much but I like that the players only have to wear white. It’s tradition.”
There seemed to be an interesting thread about this dress code thingy, especially when it concerned Wimbledon officials demanding players to show them the top of their underwear in order to verify the colour, like in this story:

Junior player told to change underwear after falling foul of rules
A junior player at Wimbledon was made to lower part of his shorts to reveal the colour of his underwear on Thursday as part of a crackdown on non-regulation clothing. Play was delayed for at least 10 minutes when Austrian junior Jurij Rodionov was ordered off court to change his non-white underwear because it contravened Wimbledon’s strict dress code. In a bizarre scene, the 18-year-old had to pull down his shorts a little at the request of a female official so a call could be made. After the game, he said it was a “big surprise” as he had worn the same dark underwear in his first game and they had gone unnoticed. 
Of course, this news report did not go unnoticed and it prompted a reader to make a little wisecrack (sic) of his own in the newspaper itself:

Durian interlude

Hopefully, this will be the start of something fresh at the Swee Cheok Tong (Quah Kongsi): an annual fun get-together for the members apart from the more staid annual dinners or committee meetings. On Sunday, I had arranged for the committee and their family members to go for a durian eating session in Relau on the south-eastern part of the island. Although we have 16 committee members in total, only seven responded to the outing. Two others pulled out eventually at the last minute, leaving only five members. Still, I managed to round up 10 people who, together with our host, then sat down for lunch before we opened the fruit. Everybody did enjoy themselves and I would want to get this group together again next year, hopefully with a better response.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Steppenwolf - For ladies only

I remember that in my late teenaged years - I could have been in Upper Six at school - I had borrowed this record, For Ladies Only, from a record shop in Campbell Street (Wing Hing Records, to give the shop its name). Steppenwolf was a Canadian band and some of their well-known songs had included Born to be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride. As I was familiar with those tunes, I had brought home the record with some anticipation. Imagine my surprise when I opened the gatefold - in those years, albums were all plastic-wrapped until bought - to find a picture of a car along Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Not any ordinary car but THIS car. I like to imagine that this car is still around somewhere in the United States but I would wonder how much preserved the vehicle is now. Who owns it? Is it still usable? Does anyone still drives it around?

Unfortunately, I had to return the disc to the shop after a few days because after all, it was borrowed. It was not until decades later when I went back to listening records that I managed to track down the album from a second-hand store. Such was the deep impression that the inner gatefold cover had given me! Although the cover wasn't in tip-top shape, the record itself was still in decent condition. Dusty but nothing like a good cleaning could remove but most importantly, no scratches and very little pops and crackles.

Side One: For ladies only, Sparkle eyes, Shackles and chains, Tenderness
Side Two: The night time's for you, Jaded strumpet, I'm asking, Black pit, Ride with me, In hopes of a garden

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Pasar malam

I can't remember when was the last time that I had went to the Friday pasar malam in my neighbourhood but after all these years of absence, we went there yesterday and were surprised by the wide variety of street food available. The stalls would start appearing at Cangkat Damai in Bukit Mertajam as early as five o'clock and in my opinion, the best time to go the pasar malam would be around 7pm when the road is not so packed.

The pasar malam is not only about food. There are traders selling all sorts of household and other stuff, but what I'm going to show here are just the street food vendors

The food must be pretty good to have so many people waiting patiently so early in the evening.

 Taiwanese burger, according to this hawker's signboard

 Fruits galore

 Taiwanese sausage

 One of three stalls selling koay kak

 This Pak Cik sells the ever-popular Malay version of pan cham koay

 More fruits on sale. The going price for the chempedak was RM10 per kilo which was immensely exorbitant considering that at the market last year, I could buy the Chempedak Champion for RM7 per kilo.

 The Malay lekor, which is more popular on the east coast rather than here.

Care for Vietnamese popiah

Now, this is something that's very rarely seen. Marinated pork wrapped in a thin layer of pork fat.

Of course, there must be the kampong durian

Uhmm...I wouldn't know what to call these fried stuff but the ones in the foreground are yam balls.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Three Degrees

Historically, The Three Degrees have been around since 1963. However, they only broke into the big time with their album on the Philadelphia International Records label. In Malaysia, this record was distributed by CBS Sony and thus, it sported the well-known black walking eye logo of Columbia Records.

Although the cover art of the album showed an innocuous picture of the three girls of the popular band, within the gatefold cover was a very racy picture of the trio in body-hugging translucent material. Since the album was all plastic wrapped at the record shop, I had no idea of what was inside. You can just imagine the reaction when any purchaser of this album tore away at the plastic wrap to reveal the concealed picture. As for me, I was more delighted than shocked.

Side One: Dirty ol' man, Can't you see what you're doing to me, A woman needs a good man, When will I see you again
Side Two: I didn't know, I like being a woman, If and when, Year of decision

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Philadelphia classics

MFSB was one of my favourite group of musicians. This was the orchestra that backed many artistes from the Philadelphia International label. If I remember correctly, I have some four or five of their own albums. In particular, I've owned this double-LP album for such a long while. I think that it was in the late 1980s that I first saw it in a record shop at KOMTAR here in George Town. I had a cassette tape made of the songs but eventually, I ended up buying the record itself. I've also a compact disk of the same album which I hunted down through years later.

Anyway, I brought this album out from my cupboard this afternoon. Gave it a quick look-over, saw and thought that the record surfaces were still clean enough for the turntable and thus, decided to give it a spin. Bad decision. The moment the stylus touched the spinning surface, all the pops, hisses and crackles came through in all their loudness. No way could I enjoy the music with all the distraction.

The only solution was to clean the records to remove all the dirt that was the cause of all the surface noise. But I also knew that there was no guarantee that I would succeed totally. Still, no harm in trying. So that was what I did: I subjected the records to my time-tested method of cleaning them, a video of which I uploaded to youtube about seven years ago and had attracted some 49,645 views to date and several comments from people who were more obsessed with my bare feet than my record-cleaning technique.

Anyway, I did manage to dislodge a layer of brown gunk from the records. But after the gunk was removed, I must say that all the noise has also disappeared. Not only was the surface completely restored to black and shiny, the record looked like new. An almost mint condition. Wonderful stuff, my do-it-myself manual record cleaner.

Side A: Love is the message (MFSB), TSOP (The sound of Philadelphia) (MFSB, featuring The Three Degrees)
Side B: Dirty ol' man (The Three Degrees), I love music (The O'Jays)
Side C: Don't leave me this way (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes), Love train (The O'Jays)
Side D: I'll always love my mama (Intruders), Bad luck (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes)