Sunday, 30 January 2011

Children. Yum.

Here are a couple of pics of me and the Children's Theatre gang, stuffing our faces. Thanks to Wade for the pics!

Ooer, I sure don't look happy.

Oh now I do. Yay!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Of Theatre, Work, Snow and Angels

So in recent days this has been happening in the life of Nick:

Children's theatre. Yes, the Perth team are back in town, and we'll be putting on a show in about a week's time!! Shame it's during the weekend of Chinese New Year when most people are away on hols, but we'll put on a great show regardless. As per the usual arrangement, I'm doing the music for it (yippee!), so this should really be a blast. The team has been in town for a week already - they're basically doing an international summer programme where the students rehearse and present the show within the timeframe of a fortnight. So it's all very intensive, very exciting!

Today Jenny and I went to BFM89.9's headquarters to do a radio interview to help publicise the event. Well, Jenny did all the talking, which she did very well indeed!

I'll put up photos of the Perth gang eventually, as well as any demos of the music that I manage to come up with in this short period! In the meantime, here's a look at the poster. (And if anyone would like to come on the show, which is on Sunday 6 Feb, 11am or 7:30pm, drop us an email at childrenstheatreAThotmail.com).



Work. I've been offered a job, which I've accepted, in a full-time position that allows for such flexibility that I'll theoretically be able to keep on working on my projects on the side. What a blessing! Nothing's been signed and sealed yet, so I'll write more about this when things are official.

My quest for maturity. And God. Okay. This is big in scale, and it's a follow-up on my previous blog post. But recent events have made me open my eyes (even further) to the realization that I'm really not very mature for a person who's about to turn 31. I'm talking emotionally, mostly. So here I am, trying to get a handle on things, questioning why I think and feel and react the way I do to things that make me think and feel and react. And while there are no clear answers, I think I'm beginning to understand more about myself, grapple head-on with some of the issues under my skin, and try to work towards acceptance and, ultimately, healing. This includes mending fences with people I've hurt, and also learning not to hurt people I've currently got undamaged fences with. What a messy metaphor. Anyway.

Developments have also led me to start re-opening my mind and heart to the concept of God's plan: that he exists, and that he has one for me, and if I can be brave enough to let him lead my life, then I'll end up where I need to be — which is where he needs me to be. It's a big, frightening concept, true. And heaven knows that the temptation is there to keep on trying to maintain full control of the direction one's life is headed in. I know there are non-believers who believe their lives are fully in their control — kudos to them. But in the course of discussions with my friend J, I've begun to question if to believe in God is to say, "You've got the wheel", whether or not you willingly let him take the wheel. Because the alternative is that he doesn't have the wheel, because he doesn't exist. Oy.

Anyway I'm tired of going down the non-believing route, which is what I've been doing half-heartedly for the past, oh, five years or more (depending on how trustworthy my sincerity was during the Perth years; a part of me reckons my faith had already dwindled even before then, going back to my Sydney days in the late 90s). And this is what my mate and I were discussing the other day: that despite what we've been through in our own lives, all that we've experienced and witnessed as Christians, it's still so easy to throw it all away and say God doesn't exist. Because it's often easier to think that way, in the face of... well... signs. Signs like... Well, this is highly personal, so I won't go into detail. But let's just say that at one point in my life I'd experienced something that's just too amazing to disregard (keyword: angels; some of you know this story) — and my mate has his own stories, too.

Which brings this rather rambling section of this blog post to the point:

The other day after J and I chatted about our respective experiences, I was driving home, listening to the radio, when I realized that I had words in my head that didn't correspond with what I was listening to. And the words kept repeating in my mind, so I had to go home and sit at the keyboard and compose. Here's a demo of the song that I came up with; a work in progress. The lyrics for the chorus are almost entirely the original words that had come, through some (divine?) inspiration, into my head; the verses reflect mine (and many other people's, I assume) confusion about trusting in divinity; the metaphors of snow and angels are associated with my buddy's and my experience of having received some sort of indication that there might be more than what we can see with our own eyes.

My vocals are a touch on the murky side (and the range of the song is quite wide), but I think you'll be able to grasp what I'm aiming at. Incidentally, this would mark the first original Christian song I've written since 2006 (FTL notwithstanding), which is quite a big deal when you think about it. And I praise God for the blessing of being able to write it, with thanks also to J, because it was through our sharing that these ideas came into being.

 

Snow/Angels

Music & Lyrics by Nick Choo
© 2010

You said, “Come follow me. I’ll lead you safely through this winter storm.”
I said, “Give me a sign that I may believe.”
And so you followed through. And so I followed you.

But the questions still remain; they flood and flurry in my brain:
What am I to do? Have I been a fool for blindly trusting you?
Blindsighted by this doubt, I try to find my own way out.
So I close my eyes, trying to deny every single sign—

But how can I turn away when snow falls out of season?
How can I run away from angels in my sleep?
How to explain away these things beyond all reason?
Snow/angels. Snow/angels. Snow/angels.

You say, “I’ll be your guide. I will reveal just where you’re meant to be.”
I follow hopefully.

But frequently I find my spirit willing, but my mind wondering
Who I’m meant to be. Where am I to go? Are you really in control?
This blizzard in my head leaves me running blind, afraid;
So I close my eyes: easier to deny every single sign—

But how can I turn away when snow falls out of season?
How can I run away from angels in my sleep?
How to explain away these things beyond all reason:
Snow/angels. Snow/angels. Snow/angels.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Disbelieving

So lately I've been questioning my thinking about my relationship with God. Do you ever do that? I guess it depends if you're religious and if you believe in anything. I certainly do. Believe in something, I mean. Though I've spent the last ten-odd years running away, avoiding a relationship with Him, for reasons that I foresee shall be revealed in due course. During my time in Perth when my songs were being used in church, I thought I was getting closer to God. But in retrospect, I don't think so. The songs that were used in church were really just.... songs that were used in church. For the most part. I mean, I'm sure they moved people. At least, I hope so. And I hope they still do. But as the songwriter, a lot of the songwriting, especially in the later years, began to feel out of a desperate need to prove that I was being faithful, when in my heart I don't think I was anymore. Anyway.

Right now I'm trying to find my place as a Christian. Note that I said Christian, not Catholic. This is something I don't think I've shared in this blog: last Christmas, I went for Mass and decided in church that I wasn't going to go back to the Catholic church. And I actually prayed about it, told God that this was my decision. And wouldn't you know it, I felt at peace with it. Like, almost as if God was telling me it was okay. That He understood it was because I wanted something more than the distant ritualism of the Catholic service. I wanted something closer, deeper, more meaningful. And I still do, thought I'm not sure how to get there yet. I guess finding a church might be a good first step. But I'm not sure. There are my multifarious issues that keep me from moving forward. But I think He understands. I hope He does. And someday those of you who don't know of these issues... well, you'll know soon enough. The time will come.

Today I dug out an old script from 2000. Eleven years ago, when I was perhaps a tad more faithful, and was writing church musicals. Thinking about it now, looking through the script and going through the music, I realised today how much I miss it. Writing church musicals. Writing church music, period. FTL doesn't count, I think. Anyway. Going through this script, I zoomed in on one of the songs that I'd written. It was from the perspective of a non-believer, a person of logic who couldn't believe God existed. And the lyrics kinda resonated with me today, because how often over the past few years have I thought the same thing myself? All the while proclaiming to be a good Catholic boy. God knows (literally) that I wasn't. And I'm not. But who is? Wholly good, I mean? (Or should that be "holy"?)

Okay, enough rambling. Can you tell I'm just typing, almost stream of consciousness style, without really thinking about what I'm saying in this post? Heh. The point is: here's that song from the musical. I spent some time programming it and recording it tonight. The lyrics and melody are mostly from eleven years ago. The arrangement is today's, as of a couple of hours ago. I was always rather proud of this song, compositionally, and I still am today. Lyrically it's... well, it could be interpreted in many ways, especially when someone listens to it out of context. And I'm not really gonna provide the context. Just listen to it. Or don't listen to it, it's okay. I forgive you.

 

Friday, 21 January 2011

O Death and Despair

Hey, all! Ummm not much is new, so while I'm awaiting for something exciting to happen, here are a couple of tracks. They've been featured on this blog before, but what the hey, I'm in a re-sharing mood. And they're part of what I've been calling my Eulogy series of songs - all about death, of loss. Oy, I've been rather a gloomy puppy, haven't I? Worry not, there are bright skies on the horizon. I just gotta set my sights there.

Corners by Nick Choo

Never Goodbye by Nick Choo

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Oddities and More

Hey all! Well, life's been gradually getting back to normal, although being unemployed means I'm not entirely sure what "normal" is. Arf. On Thursday I went for a job interview, probably one of the most interesting ones of my life (though granted, I've not been to many). It's a news website supported by a Christian foundation, and so I was asked questions like, "Have you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?" (answer: I was born and raised Catholic, so I'm not sure); and "How do you feel about contentious issues such as homosexuality?" (awkward). All in all, it was a very eye-opening experience; it's not often that one ends up pondering the deeper meaning of life and the purpose of existence after attending a job interview. No idea if they'll offer me a job. No idea if I'd accept if they do. Time, and God, will tell.

Last night I went out and met up with the Bali gang to further celebrate Fang's birthday at a club in KL. Fun, fun!! Here are a couple o'scandalous pics of us:



Andrew and Kin are returning to Melbourne tomorrow! Awww, I'm gonna miss these guys!

Well, that's about it for now. More job-related meetings this week. And then I'm gonna have to make some sort of concreter (i.e. more concrete) decision since the funds in the bank are runnin' low. Wooot. Who doesn't love being a grown-up??

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Bali High!

Here are some selected pics of our little getaway. Many thanks to the lovely Fang, whose birthday we celebrated during this vacation, for the use of her photos!





(Click for bigger view)






Bali, Day Five: Sayonara, We Gotta Skeedaddle

Hey all! The holiday's over, and we're all back home safe and sound, having got in late last night. The final day, for yours truly, was spent as a personal day: a sleep in, then massage at the spa down the road, followed by a simple Indonesian lunch that cost me all of 10,000 rupiah, which is, like, three ringgit; followed by a leisurely swim and soak in the jacuzzi back at the villa. Here's are some pics of me at lunch after the massage. Mmm, massage. Mmm, lunch.


View of the quaint eating place, as seen from my table:

Wham core!

Before we knew it, it was time to go... so we all had to pack up and say our dramatically tearful goodbyes to this haven before returning baaack to lifeee, baaack to reaaality... (Focus, Nick).

Lonely luggage...


I like this shot. Unposed, I swear.

Bye-bye, Villa Yasmin.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Bali, Day Four, Part Two

Ah, bliss. A quiet day: walking along Kuta/Seminyak after the coffee (see previous post); spending some time in the villa chillin' and swimmin'; dinner at this restaurant named Haven with Andrew and Kin (heeey, guys!) – nice ambience, interesting music, "meh" food; now back in the villa chillin' as it's pourin' meow-meows and woof-woofs out there. Here are some pics:

Scenes of the shops in Seminyak



At a coffee shop for an iced latte. Oy vey, what a camwhore!

Bali, Day Three: En-chant-ed / Bali, Day Four, Part One: Just Chillin'

Hey, everyone! Right now I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Kuta in Bali, just chilling out and, in typical fashion, surfing the net (ah, the luxury of free wi-fi!). Right now it's Day Four, and it's a quieter day where everyone's free to do his or her own thing, so I'm taking a long walk along the main shopping strip in Seminyak where our villa is, just checking out the sights and stalls and stuff. I don't think there'll be many new pics from today (thank heavens, since this blog seems to be inundated with imagery over the past few days, and there's more below and more to come, thanks to the cameras of my fellow travellers!). For now, here's a recap on yesterday, Day Three's events:

First off, we did an hour-long drive to Tanah Lot, to visit another temple. This one's located off the coast of the ocean, surrounded by sea, and at the right time of day when it's low tide, you can walk across the sands to visit the structure of worship itself. Unfortunately we visited sometime around midday, so the tiiiide was hiiiigh but we're hoooolding onnn! (Focus, Nick!) ... Right. High-tide, so we couldn't do the sea-walk. But it was beautiful regardless, and naturally it was an awesome opportunity to take many more pics! Check them out... and please forgive my numerous camwhoring moments, arf.

Captions: I'm sure you can figure 'em out: By the temple entrance; Kin, all a-swagger, among the stores and stalls; Bella plays with a big snake (a dream come true, I'm sure, HEH); temple by the sea; our awesome tour guide, driver and friend Budi; more seaside shots and poses; Kin has large coconuts.


After the temple visit, we headed for lunch at Pelangi, this restaurant-bakery place that served some pretty scrumptious noodles. No pics of the noodling, unfortunately, but here are a couple of random shots anyway: one of me with a cool dragon-themed painting in the background; the other of Fang, looking flummoxed behind a local concoction known as "soda gembira" or, literally translated, "happy soda". It's really just soda with red syrup and condensed milk. Mmm, diabetes!


A brief half-hour rest at Villa Yasmin, and then we were off to... oh, wouldn't you know it, I really ought to pay more attention to the names of these locations. I'll update it when I get the info; but basically we travelled to yet another temple (there're plenty of these here!) to check out the traditional Bali kecak dance, which basically retells a legendary tale from the Hindu epic Ramayana through movement, costume, and "music" performed by men who chant synchronised "chak-achak-achak" clicking sounds while swaying their bodies and waving their hands. Pretty cool.

Funny side story: we were advised by our guide, Budi, to put away all our personal belongings as the path leading to the temple was inhabited by many aggressive, thieving monkeys who would love nothing more than to get their hands on shiny objects. While we were walking, Chris, from our entourage, got her glasses snatched. Oy. Some guy offered to help her out by distracting the mischievous monkey with a peanut. And he charged her 40,000 rupiah for the job. "What?!" Chris purportedly sputtered, prompting him to lower it down to 20,000. Whew. Anyway, Chris managed to retrieve her glasses with nary a scratch on them. Which is just as well: they were branded, Donna Karen or Versace or something, I'm not sure. The point is: Monkey has good taste.

So here we are in the open-air performance area, watching numerous bare-chested men chanting in impressive tireless fashion, overlooking an amazing sunset:


The night's festivities concluded with dinner by the beach in Jimbaran, where we had a seafood dinner on the shore before adjourning back to the villa. All in all, a tiring but lovely day – and the weather was so good to us: hot and sunny all the way, which made for a lot of sweaty memories, but it sure was better than the wet and rain of the day before! ;) Anyway, here we are by the beach for dinner.