Idol Gives Back (American Idol)

I managed to catch the second half of Idol Gives Back, after getting home from work tonight. The scenes where they showed people in Africa living with diseases such as malaria and AIDS made me cringe. And also seeing people in America itself (one snippet was a family in rural Kentucky) living below the poverty line, made me realize how grateful we should be for what we have. Let us not forget to thank God for the many blessings bestowed upon us, instead of complaining of the things that we don’t possess.

As a schoolteacher of mine once said, "I used to complain about not having nice shoes to wear, until I saw a man who had no feet."

To end on a lighter note, Robin Williams was hilarious as the Russian Idol!

Here is the Miley Cyrus segment, where she performs, and where you can watch Miley and her Dad visiting a poor family in rural Kentucky (fast-forward to 3:00 if you want to skip Miley’s performance).


Pat Metheny’s music…

In a word: awesome. I still remember walking into a CD shop here in Penang about 13 years ago. There was this wonderful jazz guitar music playing through the speakers, and surprisingly it caught my attention (I say surprisingly because I’m a pianist, and I usually go for music with lots of piano and keyboards).

I discovered the music I was enthralled with was Pat Metheny’s Still Life (Talking). With its infusion of Brazilian rhythms, wordless vocals, and Pat’s signature jazz guitar sound, it was unlike any other CD I’d ever heard. Needless to say I bought it straight away and have been hooked to Pat’s music ever since.

If you’re new to Pat Metheny’s music, here are the CDs I would recommend, in chronological order:

  1. As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (1981) This is like a road trip through middle America (in fact Pat was born in Lee’s Summit, Missouri). Backed by Lyle Mays (a brilliant keyboard player) and Nana Vasconcelos on percussion, close your eyes and feast your ears on the journey that is truly memorable.
  2. Still Life (Talking) (1987) The album that started my enriching journey with Pat’s music. Brazilian rhythms pervade throughout this CD; just listen to the first track, Minuando (Six Eight).
  3. Letter from Home (1989) This CD, to me, feels like a second installment of Still Life (Talking). The playing standards of Pat and his band are all top-notch.
  4. Secret Story (1992) If I could take only one Pat Metheny CD to my desert island, this would definitely be THE one. With the superb backing of many talented musicians, members of the London Orchestra, and even the Cambodian Royal Palace Choir, this is a veritable tour de force of over 75 minutes of music. My favourite track is Finding and Believing, a roller-coaster ride through African vocal chants meeting up with Steve Reich and Pat, who does his amazing guitar solos towards the conclusion of the piece. This album has been re-released as a 2-CD set, with five bonus tracks which did not make it to the initial recording.
  5. We Live Here (1995) The Pat Metheny Group is in full-swing here, taking us on another trip across the USA, this time perhaps a bit more funkier. The opening track Here to Stay, grabs you by the neck and doesn’t let go. Not that I mind at all.
  6. Quartet (1996), Imaginary Day (1997), Speaking of Now (2002), The Way Up (2005) These four albums see Pat delving into experimental jazz rhythms while still letting the music speak. The nice thing is never knowing what he’ll come up with next. The Way Up resembles a four-movement jazz symphony, which suits me just fine because I like classical music anyway.

It probably sounds corny, but Pat’s music always uplifts my spirits. The way he plays his guitar, you know he’s playing from his heart. And what a wonderful composer he is as well.

Here’s a video of a concert performance of Finding and Believing (Part 2):


BigBlueBall rocks!

Well, what can I say about BigBlueBall (BBB) other than it’s one of the best sites I’ve ever clicked on! I stumbled on to BBB in June 2006 while googling for a problem with Windows Live Messenger (WLM). The staff were so quick to reply to my questions, and I was so impressed that I stayed on and decided to help others out with their IM (instant messaging) problems.

Obviously my charm worked, and Jeff Hester, BBB’s owner, asked me to join BBB as a staff member. I couldn’t say no to this big, affable guy, so I became a staff in 2007. I never thought that spreading help and kindness on the Internet would be so gratifying, but it is. BTW Jeff, I’m still waiting for that staff meeting in Hawaii 🙂

And the BBB staff: in a word, fabulous! Jeff, Graham, Heather, Sarah, Doris, Andrew, Nessa, etc. You guys are the best! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the BBB world.

I’ll be doing more posts on BBB here in the future. Stay tuned!

Life Music

Hello, World! It’s me here!

This is me, at the E & O Hotel

Hi, my name is Philip. I’m 48 years old, and have just started this blog, never too late, yes? I live in Penang, Malaysia. This is a beautiful country of about 26 million people. It’s just south of Thailand (we share a border) and north of Singapore.

I’ve been teaching piano privately for more than 25 years now, ever since graduating from the University of Arizona with a B. Music degree in the early 80’s. I’ve also become quite a computer geek since the early 90’s, starting with Windows 3.1 and now on to Vista. Building and servicing Intel-based PCs is another hobby of mine, which does bring in some good pocket money every now and then.

When I’m away from the computer keyboard, I play cocktail music at the E & O Hotel here, twice a week. A very nice and relaxing job, if I may say so (thanks, Mike!) Well, I’ve played cocktail piano for as long as I can remember, but I’ll save those for another post.

When I need some exercise, I head for the pool, which is almost every weekday. Swimming is another passion of mine. It really clears the head and I love the feel of water. Especially in a hot and humid country such as Malaysia.

Last but not least, I’m a staff member at BigBlueBall. If you want to know everything about Instant Messaging, this IS the place to go to. Besides, it has a ton of other cool stuff to check out, including Social Networking, the latest phones, a really nice BigBlueBall lounge, and on and on.

Alright, think I’ve just about completed the intro. I’ll be posting often, I hope! See you soon!