Friday, February 25, 2011


There was a Cabaret show tonight in the university by the Minotaur Theatre Company, a musical night in support of cancer research. It's put a lot of Broadway songs into my head and making me hooked on Youtube now. The songs that particularly caught my attention were 'Hey There, Single Guy/Gal', 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare' and '42nd Street'. Note to self: Watch more musicals.

Earlier today I also took part in one of the 'Skills Share' event. For two days there are several free lectures and lessons (even African drumming) where anyone can participate. One of the Creative Writing lecturers, who so happens is an author as well, carried out a session. It was enlightening, really helpful and absolutely fun! It might be a module worth taking next year, I suppose.

So far these are what happened today, keeping me busy when I should be doing my coursework. I'll get it done by the end of this week! I promise!

Hmm... I wonder what I need to fry 'pisang goreng' (or as they say banana fritters). Might be good to have something to munch on while writing my essays. Well, I guess I could take a day off to learn to cook them. Maybe.

Sigh. Anything to not do work.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'The Ambassadors'

Classes have been wonderful lately. I love how the university incorporated not only literature but also other forms of art into the syllabus. Two weeks ago, there was a lecture from the Visual Art Department, and many a times we would be listening to some music. For our "reading week" (technically we still have some classes) we're going to watch two movies that were made based on books on our reading list.

Here is an interesting one. This painting is called 'The Ambassadors' by Hans Holbein the Younger. We were not given a close inspection during the lecture but from what I saw online later on there are very intricate details on the painting, from the globe to the instruments on the table.

The Amassadors: Hans Holbein Pictures, Images and Photos
Disclaimer: This is owned by Photobucket.

The lecture yesterday was on how different perspectives or interpretations can change what we see in art. Before our lesson started we listened to a small section of Bach's piece played twice using different interpretations. Then when we were introduced to the painting on the slideshow (and in our handout), we were told that there are more than one way to see this painting.

On the surface, it seems to depict a celebration, with both the artistic and scientific items signifying intellect and the richness of the clothes pointing to material wealth. Sounds lovely, no?

From a different angle - you have to look at it sideways so that you are not directly looking at it (the painting should be on the right side of your head) - a skull will emerge! Which presents the 'momento mori' theme (Latin term which means 'remember we are all going to die') Not such a lovely image now, is it?

It was funny when everyone (myself included) had their handouts held beside their heads, shifting back and forth just to see an image pop out. And some got overexcited when they did see it. To be honest, it was only when someone pointed it out to me today that I saw it.

I have my mind set to see the real painting and giggle at the sight of the skull. One day.

On another note, coursework is due next week, so I better end this on a humoured note and get on with my work. Have fun looking for the skull while I stare at more essays. Maybe if I look close enough a grand idea for my essays would pop out like the skull.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Five Things to Say

It's about time I updated on what's been going on lately.

1. Oleanna

I watched another play yesterday called Oleanna and this time it's with Amanda. With a two-member cast, it is basically about a professor who is facing charges for supposedly 'mistreating' a female student. The interesting thing about this is that both are right and wrong. I could understand how the academically-challenged and exasperated girl could misinterpret her haughty professor; at the same time, I could understand how the professor, albeit arrogant and hypocritical, genuinely wanted to help her.

The culprit there is, I believe, language - so much for communication when language seems to cause miscommunication as well. It's a good play to watch if you enjoy dark humour and intellectual discourse.

2. Club and Society Events

I went for an event where the dress code is Hogwarts. It was amusing to see what people came up with - the more unusual ones were the ghosts, the Snitch, some of the moving portraits and even the Marauder's Map. I had fun as as Cho Chang or (if no one recognised that) a random Ravenclaw student.

There's also an all-new Malaysian Society here in this university now! Met up with a bunch of them during the first meet-and-greet session! Start of something new, don't you think?

3. Careers Talk in Publishing

It was very eye-opening and interesting. Might think more about doing some internship come Easter or summer break.

4. Blood donation

When I first did it in Malaysia, I felt perfectly fine after that. This time I felt really faint and I had my legs lifted for a few minutes to get blood in my head. Maybe it's the difference in weather.


Speaking of the weather, February is so cold. Isn't Spring supposed to be about around now?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Sonnets Please


I have been told that lately my blog has been getting "boring" because I've been putting up poems that may or may not make sense. To be fair, I have my post on London ready but due to problems with the photos and my determination to procrastinate, this will have to do.

So fortunately or unfortunately for you, I'm going to post another poem up since it's Valentine's Day. Or almost at the end of it. Plus it seemed to be a trend to start composing love poems.

There were lovebirds fluttering around and stores marking up their prices severely. I, on the other hand, went for the 'Spoken Word Seduction' Open Mic event. Although I didn't perform, I went to take part in their 'Rapid Rhyming Romance' activity where you recite a poem to people one on one - something like speed dating but with poems. Generally it was to be around people who have no Valentine's Day plans and to show support.


Anyway, the sonnet I've written is about this: No matter how cynical you are about Valentine's Day, saying it's commercialized and all, there is always a part of you that will smile at the thought of being able to celebrate it. It took me a couple of hours today (no pun intended) to complete it. Enjoy!

Four Leaf Clover Animated Divider from

No Sonnets Please

Go tell yourself it matters not to you.
Go brush the cards and flowers off in your
Attempt to free yourself from scams untrue
And snuff the candle of the day’s allure.
The slingshot in your bag you should resist
And in your pockets stones you must subdue
Before you knock out lovebirds with their gifts
All wrapped up in one language meant for two.
Go shake your head at prices off the roof
And things that end up in some dusty chest.
Go show that sideward glance of your reproof
Although there is one fact you’ve not confessed-
Of doves and sonnets nothing you declare
And melt inside when you should have your share.

Rachael Lum

MUSICAL ROSE Pictures, Images and Photos
Disclaimer: This image is hosted by Photobucket. and does not belong to me.


Happy Valentine's Day to my family and friends. This is your share.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Every Woman Knows That.

Tonight I went to watch a production by the Drama Society. 'What Every Woman Knows' caught my attention in two ways. Firstly, it is written by J. M. Barrie, the brainchild of Peter Pan and secondly, the storyline sounded compelling in a feminist way.

To put it simply, the play focuses on the theory that behind every successful man (even if they think they achieved it themselves) are the fantastic women who bring them high onto the pedestal. The fact that it was set just before the women's suffrage made it all the more interesting. Or is that just me?

Ticket and Leaflet
At first the Scottish accent threw me off but I caught up after a while. The cast did an amazing job with adopting the accents for the play and any slips into the British accent were very minor. I know I won't be able to!

Apart from its contemporary language which made it easy to understand, it was extremely funny especially with those familiar little gestures. Think weak laughter when a character does not understand the other, the whimper when a guy just 'doesn't get it', the ironic chuckles, sacarstic remarks or the many ways of finding an excuse to leave the room.

 Overall it was wonderful. And the theory is true. Every women knows that. *grins*

It's the second on campus production I've gone for and this only assures me that I should go for more. Only from now onwards, Lucy, Marian and I have decided to attend the drama productions together.

Shepherd's Pie
On a slightly more self-important note, I have also perfected the Shepherd's Pie recipe, with its crust actually turning golden brown this time. Looks lovely, doesn't it? Every woman should know that. The men too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On the Heartwarming

They were all eating in front of me. Each and everyone of them. Munching on their prawn crackers as I stared into the Skype live video of my family at our hometown. Obviously, the food is just as important as the other traditions that come with Chinese New Year. The table full of snacks (pineapple tarts, crackers, sweets, chocolates, biscuits, 'kuih muih' etc) stood in its usual spot.

And I glared at my family for their sudden need to open that tin and munch on prawn crackers while I looked on.

My calendar - Chinese words mean 'Spring' and 'Prosperity' respectively.
It was a great feeling to see them again even though it was only for an hour or so. I miss having the reunion dinner, showing off our new clothes on the first day, blackjack on the second, the inflow of 'ang pows' (Red packets containing money) and having almost everyone under the same roof.

Moving on to the brighter side of the sun-kissed field, the most heartwarming things come when you don't expect them. That was how I felt when the guy at the post room sieved through the mail and removed three familiar pink envelopes.

Cards pinned just by my room door.
I got cards from my immediate family, 伯 (eldest paternal uncle) and family as well as 姨 (fourth maternal aunt).  My face had a grin slapped on it as I walked back to the village that day.

Later that evening, I went for the South East Asian Society's CNY event. For three pounds we had a buffet dinner and several activities after our meal. It was not the same as being back home, but it was good to be with some company.

I will be in London this weekend to meet two of my cousins, which would explain my lack of updates over the next few days. I will do my best to update soon after I return. Until then it's time to look forward to my holiday!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Breaking The Labyrinth

Lie Still.
The labyrinth is sealed.
Its bloodhound snout will track
The lost pup. Snarls by the door.
Unconquered, the shadow master
Makes its minions choke the floor.
Frustrated fingers find her next.
The child's house is home no more.

By morning, blank faces
Catch her periwinkle flush
But that is all. The moonlit curse
She was forced to never tell
Grew her heart a concrete wall
That waits to be decoded,
For a door to be unsealed
Till then nothing she can do but
Lie. Still.

Rachael Lum

Four Leaf Clover Animated Divider from

This poem is written about and for Concrete Angels, whose cause of their broken childhood should be brought to light. There are many people out there who believe their life is constantly going against them when, in fact, they are already fortunate.

Just as well as that, they may not realise that there are Concrete Angels walking amongst them, carrying secret burdens that seem too heavy to share. And all these Concrete Angels want is for someone to notice their sorrow and approach them with help.

The inspiration for this poem comes from Martina McBride's 'Concrete Angel'. She's one of my favourite country singers whose music has the ability to convey emotional messages. As did this.

'Breaking the Labyrinth' has been published in Concrete, the university's independent student newspaper, and I am genuinely proud of it. So I hope you guys enjoyed it.

Have a good day.