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Dead in sin | Saved by grace | Living in hope | Walking by faith | Surviving on a prayer

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dimanche, février 18, 2007

 Mourning the loss of Gaiman/Carey's Lucifer

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere . . . God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous." - C.S. Lewis

Some of you might know that I read the provocatively-named Lucifer, a comic produced by Vertigo (under D.C. comics). The label also prints Sandman by Neil Gaiman, which was the comic that birthed the fiction of Lucifer.

Loosely based on Milton's Satan (Paradise Lost), the 75-comic series has tracked the events in the (after)life of Lucifer Morningstar - occasionally also known as Samael, or Lightbringer in the series. The tangent takes off where Sandman left off - with Lucifer becoming sick of being in charge of hell, and deciding to call it a day being the ruler of hell and abdicating his throne to run a nightclub called Lux (Latin for "light") in Los Angeles with only a Lilim called Mazikeen as a companion.

There are many plots and sub-plots that twist and turn like beautiful sculpted vines in the series' entirety - given an assignment by heaven, Lucifer has to retrieve his wings, which were stolen (and sabotaged industrially) from him; he saves the world from certain destruction by Norse gods who were trying to bring about Ragnarok, he fights on the side of heaven, and he even fakes his own death in order to win a fight between heaven and hell. Evensong ties up the loose ends left by Morningstar, where pre-teen Elaine Belloc (right; I covet her dress btw) has taken Yahweh's creation and Lucifer's cosmos, and dropped them both into a creation of her own. This effectively makes her God (or Goddess) of everthing - Yahweh's as well as Lucifer's creations.

Where does this leave Lucifer, then? In the Void, a location outside of Elaine's cosmos; yet paradoxially right where he started - seemingly on par with his Father, Yahweh, God. Both "creators" of worlds in their own right, the final pages depict the final showdown between Yahweh and Lucifer.

Everything that Lucifer has done has been to bring him to this point where he is able to question his Father: ask Him about his purpose, to ask what right the Father has to impose His will on Lucifer himself. There is a great deal of seething, repressed anger and resentment in that meeting - to me, it echoes vaguely of the parable of the prodigal son, but a son who returns home ungrateful to be offered acceptance, but instead questions his Father... on everything.

Mike Carey's Yahweh hits the nail on the head when he tiredly informs Lucifer that for all his rebelling and reasons behind his fall from grace, "no one can be their own maker." The frustration that Lucifer feels is one which stems from something that he cannot change; something that no one can change. No one can be their own maker: it is as simple as that, Yahweh explains.

Lucifer (petulantly and unwisely, I feel) refuses to accept a compromise that Yahweh offers, an offer to make Lucifer equal in knowledge to Yahweh Himself, and disappears into the Void, leaving everything behind. His Godhead, he leaves with Elaine Belloc. His Lightbearing status, conferred onto a heartbroken and bitter Mazikeen. Carrying only the angry scar across his face from his disappointed lover, he just... goes away.

The ending of the series left me with mixed feelings. I confess that I ask a lot of the questions that Carey (via Lucifer) asks of God: why this, why that, why did you ask this of me, what is my function? There are no easy answers to these questions (no easy non-Christian responses, anyhow), and I doubt they can be answered by people who are less than omnipotent and omnipresent. I enjoyed the process of asking though, and the comic pushed the limits on that asking, bringing the questions and the conflicts to life.

(Left: Goya's Saturn Devouring His Children/Devoration, 1819)

For all it's brilliance, Carey's Lucifer is not an accurate, biblical Satan though - far from it. Carey's Lucifer is modelled after Milton's sympathetic, almost regretful Satan, who is tortured by his choice, and questions the path of his existence, which runs contrary to all that we are told of Satan in the bible. Granted, we're not given a lot to go on, but a few things do stand out in Carey's account.

For instance, Carey's Lucifer is a Satan that does not lie because he thinks it is "crass", but we know from the bible that Satan is the Father of all Lies (John 8:44). Carey's Lucifer is also one who keeps his word and pays back his debts, and adheres to a strange code of honour which only he knows the rules. Given that Satan is described as a "lying spirit" (1 Kings 22:22), this seems inconsistent with Carey's "courtly, but unscrupulous gentleman". In this respect, Carey's Lucifer could very well be a male hero in Austen's novels, just sans the compunction and penitance gene I know moomoo's gonna bludger me for that statement, but I've always felt it to be true, right from the outset of the series.

I'm sad that the series has ended, and I'm more than a little upset at the too-neat ending. The series (I felt) promised much in terms of theological discussion: at the outset, it looked like the writers were rolling up their sleeves, ready to tackle some serious issues that people grapple with when discussing matters of heaven and hell, but perhaps I was too naive in thinking that this would be a proper discussion. It is, after all, entertainment.

On the other hand, some good news: Diana and other Gaiman fans: How exciting is it that his best story (imho) Neverwhere comic adaptation has just been released as a trade paperback??? And by Mike Carey as well!

I've held off buying the individual comics in the hope that it'd be collected, and I'm dreadfully excited now! US$19.99, so possibly $28 at Kinokuniya. Yay! The adventures of the Lady Door and hapless Richard Mayhew, here we come! There are too many exclaimation marks in this paragraph!

Libellés :

[Mourning the loss of Gaiman/Carey's Lucifer]
Sngs Alumni @ 18.2.07 { 0 comments }

samedi, février 17, 2007

 Go on, get an STD

Children. They're everywhere these days - and yet, the government still says "not enough." Now, someone (MALE, typical, see appended article below) has suggested that older singles who "refuse to marry" be taxed for our impertinence.

Imagine that! How DARE single people refuse to marry! How DARE they sit on their skinny asses and party all night long without a care in the world while parents slog away at getting their kids educated well, enrichment classes, co-curricular activities while still trying to make their career work? How DARE they enjoy themselves and climb the corporate ladder while the self-righteous martyr themselves for the state? Why, these singles must be taught a lesson!

It's clear for all to see that singles obviously have some form of agenda against the government. They're an organised bunch, openly defiant and unified in their stand against the institution of marriage. "We refuse to marry!" they cry. "You're not getting my ovaries!" the women declare. "Self-love is enough for us!" the men cheekily say.

There's obviously something wrong with the way that childbearing in Singapore is marketed in Singapore. Romancing Singapore didn't work, all the pro-family campaigns (too many to mention) didn't work, so there's something missing. I think it's time to take an edgier approach to procreation in Singapore: tap on reverse psychology and negatively associate children with life. Let's call my campaign: "Get an STD - Sexually Transmitted Dependent©!"

Life, after all, is sexually-transmitted.

This way, there's no mention of children, no mention of romance, no mention of anything wholesome, in fact. The whole idea of having children is relegated into a sort of sordid category of Things To Do In Life - which will make it more appealing to the many singles who obviousy have a problem with authority (why else would they be defying the government's call to have more children?)

I leave you with the catch-phrase (turn it into a jingle) of my campaign: "Go on, risk an STD - forget about the condom!"

(pictures are of my friend's new baby who entered the world blissfully unaware of the PAIN that she caused her momma on Valentine's Day 2007. I've already been committed to babysitting duties.)

Letter from seah leong khai [TODAY, 15 Feb 2007]

I am surprised at the Government's vision of increasing the population to 6.5 million from the current 4.5 million.

As I see it, unless Singapore opens its floodgate to immigrants, it is near impossible to achieve this target. With our low birth rate, Singaporeans are not even reproducing enough to replace ourselves. There are many reasons for this.

Nowadays, Singapore men and women get married in the later years of their lives. There are many who choose to stay single. Other than for medical reasons, there are also many couples who do not want to have children.

How do you arrest this problem? Even though the Government has given these people more carrots such as tax incentives, baby bonus and longer maternity leave, the baby shortage situation remains.

I believe it is time to dish out some sticks such as imposing more income tax on older singles who refuse to marry and able-bodied childless couples.

Another way is to attract more foreign women who are qualified and who share similar cultural and social background to come to Singapore and allow them to marry the locals. Offer them permanent residence status and citizenship if they can produce two or more children.

Right environment is a pre-requisite for human procreation Penalty will not increase fertility People do have a right to be single [TODAY, 16 Feb 2007]

Letter from lim boon hee
Letter from carol tham
Letter from zheng shuwei

I read with amusement Mr Seah Leong Khai's suggestions on increasing our population ("Want to increase S'pore population? Here's how, Feb 15). Social engineering through "carrots and sticks" has proved to be a failure thus far.

Mr Seah is in favour of granting Permanent Residence status and citizenship to "qualified" foreign women of "similar cultural and social background" in exchange for marrying local men and producing two or more children. I think importing "baby-producing" machines to solve our demographic problem will produce even more headaches for our society.

Punitive taxes to regulate what is essentially a complex biological-cum-environmental interaction of factors in the survival of a species cannot change the outcome of why and when procreative multiplication occurs or not at all. When the environment is conducive and all the necessary conditions such as enough food, shelter, safety and happiness are present, animals and flowers procreate and bloom naturally.

When there is much stress in the pursuit of survival and all energies focused on keeping the stomachs full, survival of the species is bestserved by channelling all the efforts in preserving the self first instead of reproducing more mouths to feed.

The suggestion by Mr Seah to tax older singles who refuse to marry and able-bodied childless couples is ridiculous.

The solution has got nothing to do with punishing people - Singaporeans not marrying early as well as not having children really has to do with the society and how it thinks. Females are now holding higher paid jobs whereas previously many solely depended on their husbands. So, there is the reluctance to give birth, which might affect their career prospects.

Also the cost of raising a child in Singapore is escalating.

Also the stress that is prevalent in our society means less time for singles to socialise. It has also been proven that stress affects a person's fertility.

So, the issue of an ageing population with a dipping birth rate needs to be looked at carefully. We all know by now that penalty does not equate motivation. Most of the time, it works the other way round.

There are things we can learn from the welfare that America, Europe and Australia provide for their people. In Australia, seeing the doctor is free. A pregnant lady gets to stay in a two-bedder and sometimes even single room for a week. They are sent home with some milk powder and diapers for the baby, too. And all of that is covered by the state. In Singapore, the kind of ward that women stay in for their delivery all depends on how much money they have. The frequent check-ups for the baby thereafter add to the burden.

I believe that we live in a free and democratic society where personal choices are respected. Singling out individuals - singles and couples who choose not to have children - goes against the grain of an "inclusive society".

With divorce rates on the rise and in a society where getting an HDB flat is often a reason for marriage, have we not learnt enough about the importance of building marriages on sustainable relationships and not just to contribute to the society's needs of replacing itself?

Instead, I suggest that government policies work at developing a culture that supports a work-life balance that allows Singaporeans time for quality interaction with each other.

Libellés : , , ,

[Go on, get an STD]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.2.07 { 0 comments }

lundi, février 12, 2007

 Sentiments for Valentine's

[Mich: if you are feeling hormonal STOP READING RIGHT NOW.]

Imagine what life would be like if your love conversations went this way:
Guys to girls: You don’t have wear designer clothes, if you don't want to.
Girls to guys: I don’t care what kind of car you drive, it won’t define you.

Girls to guys: You don’t need to be perfect all the time, but you still try to.
Guys to girls: You don’t have to conquer the whole world, I’ll do it for you.

I look past the surface, the glitter, and gold
to the place that really matters to your soul

It’s not about how hard you work or who you’re trying to be
but what I care the most about is that you see:

It’s you, I’m in love with; it’s you, I want most
When it all comes down: it’s not what you do, it’s you.

It’s your smile, it’s your laugh, it’s the look that you have
every time you believe:

It’s you, I’m in love with; it’s you, I want most
When it all comes down: it’s not what you do, it’s you.

Designer clothes or fancy car, I want you the way you are.
You don’t have to work it out, that’s not what I’m all about.

It’s you, I’m in love with; it’s you, I want most
When it all comes down: it’s not what you do, it’s you.

it's you, FFH

Libellés :

[Sentiments for Valentine's]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.2.07 { 0 comments }

samedi, février 10, 2007

 Soul2Soul: Victim, Villian, or Valentine? A gig report

I spent a surprising night tonight with Soul2Soul, another band under the Campus Crusade ForeRunner banner. I got the invite from Jason, bassist extraordinare (giving props where it's due!), and could only make this gig out of the five or so that they had, so I made my way down to SIM at Namley Ave.

Thinking that I was going to attend yet another student lecture theatre sort of concert, which doesn't really require a lot of interaction with the people attending, I was surprised to see that the event was a sit-down dinner and required tickets. I was alright with not having dinner, but the hosts (All Saint's Presbyterian Church) wouldn't hear of it, and I was invited to take the seat of an absentee. Already slightly abashed by their generousity, and even more mortified that I was highly inappropriately dressed (think extremely short dress and high boots), I resigned myself to enjoying myself and just listening to the band, especially since I have really high expectations of what Forerunner/Crusade produce!

The band didn't disappoint. Gone were the cheesy and ineffective playacting that I remembered from the Void check-out, no more stilted scripts and bad handling of the audience - this band was comfortable in front of a crowd, and showed no signs of amateur stage-fright. Granted: the audience was an easy one; very interactive and ready to engage with the band, but Sharon's bubbly personality shone through her introduction and welcome, which helped warm everyone up and shake everything looser, paving the way for a wonderful evening.

(I honestly should have started writing down the songlist for the evening - I forgot to do this the last time as well, so it looks like I'll be bugging him on MSN soon for the playlist.) Despite the fact that I can't remember specific songs which they played, I do remember thinking that the selection of songs was a good one - nothing too hard, and nothing too sentimental. I was rather pleased at the inclusion of Del Amitri's "Roll to Me", which I love, but is often thought of as "too obscure" to rate highly in gig lists. (I forgot, of course, that it was used in Shrek.)

Using personal stories to string together life lessons with songs such as Michelle Branch + Santana's Game of Love (is love a game where you victimize the poor sods that come along?), Billy Joel's I love you just the way you are (do you look to change the one you're with?), Boyzone's Baby Can I Hold You Tonight (how to say sorry 101), Soul2Soul kept hitting the nail on the head tonight, over and over. Using stories in public speaking always holds your audience in thrall, and using personal life stories is always a winner - which is particularly important in e events. Sharon's very real sharing/storytelling was the key to bringing the message home to the crowd, and I'm quite sure that they took something home to think about tonight.

Technically speaking, the team sounds pretty tight. There was a little fumbling at the beginning, with the guitarists dropping off at whole bars because the song had seagued into a pre-chorus, or repeated a stanza. This seemed to catch them off-guard, leaving Audrey, the drummer, alone to carry the song through the missed bar, as the guitarists waited for the next bar to come back in. Props to her for continuing (quite literally!) without missing a beat, or it might have been messy! It also might have been a good idea to let Sharon warm up a little more before the concert; there were a few missed higher-register notes at the beginning (but only at the beginning!)

One thing which I must mention, even though it sounds really stupid, is Joan's excellent handling of the shaker. I've heard bad shakers before - lazy shakers, who think that the egg is a present that they got on Christmas morning and are trying to figure out what's inside. Any musician worth his salt (oh, the puns, the puns) will tell you that there is a specific technique to playing the shaker - it's not just an up-and-down movement, it's got variations like the slide (soft rocking of the egg), the swoosh (swooshing around the circumference of the egg), the toss (which is the most common, you hit the beans/rice against the opposite side of the egg), etc. Joan got it, which was a pleasure to hear. God is in the details.

I wish that they had done a more comprehensive/longer introduction of the band members though, giving them air-time as they did a solo or something within a song. You know the kind of introduction that I'm talking about - it's done all the time at gigs - stall a song midway and give the stage to each person in turn for about 4-8 bars of "them-time"... I thought it would have been nice to do that, but I guess I can't expect everything!

Ending with a wonderful rendition of Sting's Brand New Day (by which time Sharon had definitely completely warmed up), I was pleased to have thoroughly enjoyed myself tonight. Any gig ending with a Sting song done well is a good one.

Addendum: some thoughts on music and the iPod, which I completely agree with.

Libellés :

[Soul2Soul: Victim, Villian, or Valentine? A gig report]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.2.07 { 0 comments }

 Just for fun

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

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[Just for fun]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.2.07 { 0 comments }

jeudi, février 08, 2007

 Where are you today?

Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

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[Where are you today?]
Sngs Alumni @ 8.2.07 { 0 comments }

dimanche, février 04, 2007


Loyal Singapore fans celebrating the win at
the stadium - well deserved for bothering/daring
to make that special trip down to support our boys!

Hoisting the Asean Soccer Championship TROPHY!

Cheers and cheek-splitting smiles on the Lion's faces!

Nor Alam Shah with his MVP trophy -
after collecting his Golden Boot trophy!
Double Happiness!

Nor Alam Shah being congratulated on his MVP award.

We're getting our name engraved on the cup
again - tying it at three wins each with Thailand!

Skipper Aide Iskandar receiving the trophy.


Should have been Man of the Match? Goalkeeper Lionel Lewistruly carried
the weight of Singapore's hopes on his back throughout the entire tournament.

Sorry Thailand... but you have to admit that we honestly did win
this match. We hung in there for the amazing equaliser, after you
completely penalised us for crap possession during the first half.

Thank you for being such great hosts.

Kids, if you are Singaporean, and have not had the fortunate luck to have stumbled upon the wonderful sport that is Singapore soccer, you have not lived. If you are Singaporean, and think that The Lions are a band and the FAS means the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, then you have not lived. If you are Singaporean, and if you were not watching the match last night, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED.


Sure, the passing during the first half was absolute SHITE. Sure, the soccer during the first half looked like the Thais were playing themselves. Sure, we were very, very, very lucky the Thais just couldn't find the net.

But we tried - with an offside goal at the 9th minute. Not losing our cool despite some rough play by the Thai players. Staying calm despite a slightly cautious referee (did he not see the billion fouls on our players?!) NOT WALKING OFF AFTER A PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE GOAL WAS RULED OFFSIDE. Not losing our composure and concentration despite the goal on the 35th minute. Recovering after half-time to really press in. Keeping our wits about us as Lionel Lewis didn't manage to get back into position after a ball cleared badly.

And finally - FINALLY - pressing our advantage to equalise with subbie Khairul Amri's BEAUTIFUL (AND COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE) GOAL in the 80th minute.

My neighbours must have thought I had gone mad - or they were shouting themselves. "GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! WE WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!" - I know, it was a premature call, but I would not let myself believe that the Lions would screw it completely up by not being able to last another 10 minutes. I couldn't. I think all fans of soccer will agree with me - sometimes being at home in front of the TV, you just know that

if you shout loud enough
if you wish hard enough
if you hold your breath when it really matters


You know what I'm talking about.

Well done Lions! Enjoy your dinner with Prezzie Nair tomorrow at the Istana - because you deserve it - especially since we are the defending champions!. Enjoy the bonus, enjoy the adoration by fans, enjoy the free food and drink that people are going to give you for bringing the Cup home. Itimi Dickson, I'm glad that you have redeemed yourself in my eyes.

I'm so happy I could cry. (Yes, I love it this much.)

I leave you with a poor video of the Singapore news coverage of the event. No monday blues tomorrow!

Some other reads:
AFF - Singapore retains crown
FAS/S-league - Lions affirm Asean supremacy with third title
FAS/S-league - Raddy: And now, Asia
FAS/S-league - And now, accolades fall on Alam Shah
AP/Reuters - Singapore sucker punch fells Thailand
Bangkok Post - 6 million baht 'bounty' on Singapore
Bangkok Post - Singapore win ASEAN football title
Goal.com - Editorial: Thais must pay high price for protest
ChannelNewsAsia - Football: Singapore stun Thailand to win Asean championship title
ChannelNewsAsia - AFF to decide Thailand's fate on Tuesday
SLAM!Sports - Singapore holds Thailand to 1-1 draw to take Asean championship

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Sngs Alumni @ 4.2.07 { 0 comments }

 You think you can play the guitar?

After watching these vids, I'm seriously thinking

of not every playing guitar again.

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[You think you can play the guitar?]
Sngs Alumni @ 4.2.07 { 0 comments }

jeudi, février 01, 2007

 'nuff said!


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['nuff said!]
Sngs Alumni @ 1.2.07 { 0 comments }

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