& the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors, ringing Spartan war cry continues to dominate against the West's no.1 powerhouse, the Dallas Mavericks; yet another potential major upset?
This year's NBA playoff just got more interesting.
Photos from here
Miami Heat (4th) Vs Chicago Bulls (5th)
Just watched the underdog Chicago Bulls obliterated the defending champs, Miami Heat in their own backyard in Game 3 of the best-of-7 round 1 playoff series. Pushed to 1 game away from the possibility of a humiliating 1st round elimination, the insistent notion that a series does not start until the home team loses still rings out loud; despite the fact that no team in history has successfully fought back to win a series from a 0-3 deficit. Well, I’m not about to underestimate the heart of a champion for they never go down without a fight, & might just turn the table around.
Though I’ve never been a fan of the Heat, they’ve been inconsistent all season long ~ playing brilliantly one night & reduced to mere mediocrity the next; featuring a roster studded with stars past their prime (Shaq’s no longer the dominant force he once was), with the exception of D-Wade, who has yet to fully regain his Superhero form since his recent shoulder injury. On the other hand, the Bulls are much younger, faster & hungry for a post-season series win, which they have yet to achieve since the Air Jordan Dynasty ended in ’98 with a 6th Championship. I just love watching underdogs pound the big shot teams & give them a tight run for their money. It’s the intensity & un-predictability that sets the playoffs apart from the regular season games. This is going to be an exciting series to watch; provided the Heat survives Game 4.
This is going to be yet another costly visit to the ‘engine surgeon’. What initially seemed like a drive shaft agitation problem is turning out to be some bigger shit. A quick jack-up check confirms the worst of fears; it’s coming from the gearbox – bearing problems of some sort on the final drive gear or worse, damaged gearbox housing. Fuck the gearbox. I’ve had some pricey lesson on gearbox before; not due to gear mis-shifts at high rpm run causing the gearbox to go kaboom, but rather some screwed-up job during the initial engine transplant. Sourcing for a B-series manual transmission gearbox in immaculate condition can be nightmarishly difficult; being highly sought after & ricer boys keep busting them.
My ride, well she’s getting old; her maintenance costs can run me up the wall at times, but for most of the time she’s quite well behaved. Still handles sweet, roars like a lion & runs like a race horse when I ‘feel’ it. She’d be going under the knife soon; it's going to be nothing short of a gearbox overhaul ~ i’ll definitely be missing my daily dose of VTEC fix.
Finally got Secret at RM55; featuring 14 tracks on a CD + DVD format. The steeper pricing compared to the recent A-Best2 compilations is probably due to the newer songs featured (it was released in Dec ’06). I’ve pinned high expectations on this release; after browsing thru reviews after reviews & sampling some of the tracks, glad to say that she does not disappoint. I find the songs compilation to be exceptionally fluid, with brilliantly composed interludes seamlessly bridging the transition of songs from trance-rock to emotional ballads & upbeat-pop. This is one of those albums I keep playing as a whole without skipping a track. It is also impressive to note how her vocal style has evolved from a young & straight-high pitch sounding to a deeper, huskier & mature sounding voice. For I have not been following her music for the last couple of years, I would have missed part of her career evolution. Well, at times we find that our biggest interest now will fade into a nostalgic memory in the future. But, there are also times we lose interest & then come back with a bang. Like my interest in Ayu’s music.
Though she has garnered quite a huge international following in the recent years, she still writes songs generally for the Japanese audience. The J-pop music scene being somewhat fundamentally different from the western music & mainstream Chinese music that we grew up listening to, most of us (non-Japanese audience) may find some of her songs sounding too intimidating to appreciate. The vocal styling, hit notes, harmonizing & rhythm driven lyrics might not sound very musical to the unaccustomed ears. Being a person who embraces differences easily, I’ve grown to appreciate most of her works, her distinctive poignant & haunting vocals, and more recently her writings (thanks to conveniently accessible online sources).
I’m not one who gets excited easily or believes in idolization ~ my buddies can attest to that. But I hold a lot of admiration & respect for individuals of her caliber & dedication; individuals who strive towards their dreams, trying to make it on their own terms, while being honest & true to themselves.
One thing that strikes me most about is her writings, which stand out as being sincere ~ penning out her thoughts & feelings honestly & precisely; it says a lot about her morality, character & belief. No bubbly I Love You s, cheesy Baby Do It One More Time or generic exaggerated proclamations & no indiscriminate English slang dropping so popular with Asian pop music these days. One can’t help but notice that many of her writings are reflective of emotions of deep sorrow, loneliness & despair but always with a strong will to overcome them, which can be felt in her songs; revolving around contradicting themes of finding strength in weakness, a glimpse of hope in darkness, beauty in today’s violent & pessimistic reality.
Sadness is one of the great emotions, the great asset in life; one must not deny it nor affirm it. But nothing will be solved without facing it.
Having spent her unhappy childhood in solitude when her father abruptly left, she pretty much grew up on her own, becoming an introversive person talking with herself and a perfectionist judging herself always severely ~ largely influenced her autobiographical songwriting style. She has the seeking mind for the fulfillment of life. Through all the odds & obstacles, she has made it as an accomplished musician on her own terms.
Perhaps what makes me gravitate towards her & her music ~ is the person that she is; character, beliefs, strengths, shortcomings, struggles & experiences is somewhat reflective of my own:
An introvert who seeks to be heard & understood; has problem expressing him/herself – looks calm & trouble-less on the surface but has complex feelings & emotions locked inside?
Is not very good in communicating with others, maintaining a thin veil of invisible wall when confronted with strangers, & to some degree hesitating to involve deeply in personal relations; one who does not take relationships lightly?
One who mingles with deep thoughts on fundamental questions of life; not a quick thinker & apt to talking slowly ~ slow in mind = stupid?
One who strives to stay true & honest to him/herself in pursuit of life’s dream
I’m intrigued by what is she like, how she is living & has lived & why she can write such excellent lyrics…
Inspired by Masa's personal view & interpretations =)
On her most recent album released late last year. I have read countless of reviews on this & sampled some of the offerings. These are the ones that made a more profound impression on me, so I’m going to chip in my 2 cents, with references from some enlightening sources, of course.
Blue Bird – one of the few pop genre upbeat songs featured on the album. It’s got a catchy tune complementing Ayu’s uplifting vocals. I find it terribly addictive; makes me just wanna groove to the rhythm. Saw her performing the song as the final encore on her Best of Countdown Live 2006-2007 DVD (came with A Best2 – White-); loved it instantly, been humming in my head ever since. Definitely one of her best summer songs to date, in my point of view.
Until that day – A song that portrays her way of life: the struggles throughout & the ideals. It falls under the rock-trance hybrid genre with edgy & powerful vocal renditions from Ayu. Listening to it for the first time literally got me jumping on my seats; this song really rawks!
“I wasn’t sad at all, but the reason my eyes brimmed with tears
was because you seeped through the scar of my heart
and turned it into such a tenderness, that it hurt to think of you”
Momentum – another of my favorite, an emotional ballad with rock elements reminiscent of her earlier masterpiece M – a style uniquely & distinctively Ayu that I really dig.
Starting off with soft orchestral instrumentals & transitioning to a powerful emotional piece when the chorus breaks in, I personally find it heavenly sounding. It speaks about the contradicting feelings of a person wishing to let go of the past but could not bear to part with her precious memories.
Another tragic love song.
Over the years, her music, vocals & writings have evolved, grown mature &amp; refined; though I have missed her recent couple of music years, as I felt they’ve somewhat lacked the charm of her earlier masterpieces. However, a trip to the music record capital of Kuching –
My Impression: Fairly impressed to say the least. I can’t wait to get my hands on Secret. Though spending 150 bucks on records in a month is not reflective of a sound budget; especially during cash-strapped times like these. I’m going to get it anyway.
Ayu’s 3rd compilation album
Dark & broken
2 of the more recent CDs I’ve bought; bought White, got hooked & went back to get Black a couple of days later. It comes in a 1CD+2DVDs format costing a mere RM45 which, is a pretty good value-for-money; impressive compilation of hits (though I have like half of them already) + PV + Countdown Live ’06 – ’07 – I find it too irresistible to not buy & ended up buying both.
Ayu still remains one of my favorite artiste – a talented singer, songwriter, composer, a brilliant live performer in her own right; a sense of her own creation. Known for her ever-changing style like the seasons, her distinctive voice & singing, her music is still pretty much steeped in rock & grunge influence with evolving vocal & lyrical maturity with each new release. 9 years of music – from 80-ish sounding debut album days, a relatively unknown kawaii face writing songs just to save herself, to the cult supernova she is today, trading cherished freedom for the right to tell her story through songs – I still enjoy her songs very much the same.
What’s in a song? Songs that cheers you thru rough patches in life, songs that expresses thoughts, emotions & feelings that are closest to you, songs that captures the essence of defining moments in life; music sometimes transcends language barriers – the intensity of the emotions & feeling poured into a song, it does not take very much to understand what she is singing.
Some of records I have amassed over the years at the height of her popularity from 1999 – 2003: *some only; she's got like 8 full length studio albums, several non-studio ones, 1 mini-album, 40 singles & countless of countdown live & concerts - & still going
Your face is
more beautiful when you're sad.
I couldn't say even one word,
When I noticed, you had brimmed over with tears.
That must have hurt much more
than I thought. I'm tired.
I'm sorry that I didn't notice.
The spring wind rolls by, it draws a far off dream.
The break in the summer clouds disappeared.
The autumn sky is painful, the winter sea is cold
The more I fall into a trance the more time passes.
have slipped by.
And you, here, now,
I'm proud of you, always.
People are not memories
that you can put into words.
They live holding onto their feelings.
Sometimes you take only the roundabout way and get tired.
But the place I finally get to
is just by your side, and my heart is healed.
I want to be that kind of support someday.