Karaoke is Stupid

It is the most popular pastime in Hong Kong. Originating from Japan, the idea of singing your favorite songs in front of a TV screen inside a room has grown to be the favorite pastime of a lot of Hong Kong people, particularly the young.

Karaoke adds nothing to one’s well-being, intellect, wisdom, etc. And yes, while I’m already hearing people say “well sometimes people just need to do things that aren’t constructive but for fun,” there are ways to indulge in the art of music that doesn’t require paying someone money to rent a space and sing in front of the television screen where you don’t even have to memorize the lyrics because all you need to do is follow them on the screen.

Here’s a thought: instead of singing in front of a TV screen, why not devote that time to actually learn an instrument so you can perform the song yourself? And don’t say that instruments are expensive. Assuming a person goes to karaoke 6 times a year and pays 200 bucks each time, that’s 1200 already. Add a little on top of that and you can get a cheap guitar and start strumming chords. It’s not that hard.

Perhaps I’m merely tackling a small part of a larger problem that the young generation of Hong Kong people have, which is not having an actual hobby other than playing with their cell phones.


Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, Part II

I’ll make the most of all the sadness,
You’ll be a bitch because you can.

You try to hit me just to hurt me
So you leave me feeling dirty
Because you can’t understand.

It was a cold night. The car heat was on full blast. The exceedingly bright city lights beamed me a welcome as I entered what passes to be a metropolis.

Driving through downtown, I took note of the big signs advertising the products in vogue, simulacrums for the venom we’ve come to embrace as consumerism. I gazed at them, disgusted by the commercialized capitalist culture that defines us while hypocritically admitting my desire to indulge in it.

Bright lights a few blocks down. At first I thought it was a bonfire of celebration, but as I neared I realized it was a building on fire, smoke rising and fading into the night sky.

I approached the scene. The flames have just about consumed the building in its entirety. Firefighters watched in vain as the structure slowly crumbled.

I rolled down the window, expecting to hear screams of agony and cries for the lost of loved ones. I heard nothing. Nothing, except for the crackling of the flames and pieces of falling debris. The sirens were muted. They were unnecessary.

Death was in the air. We all felt haunted, but our eyes remained fixated on the fire. What is so fascinating about death? What is death? Is death signified by the stopping of the heart, the identification of a corpse, or the complete disacknowledgement of the person’s existence? The fire victims might have perished, but they left behind ideas, memories, and legacies. Are they ‘dead’?

What about love? The idea of ‘undying love’? Does love remain after a person dies? Or does it eventually burn out like this horrible fire?

On the other side of the road, on the ledge overlooking the bay, stood a man. I watched as he lit a cigarette and stared into the night sky. Something about him told me to keep looking; the gaze was of utter melancholy. Maybe he lost a loved one in the fire? Something told me it’s more. He wore his broken heart on his face, someone that goes beyond losing someone…

He jumped.

Don’t you think we oughta know by now?
Don’t you think we should’ve learned somehow?

*Lyrics by John Mayer

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, Part I (A Short Story Inspired by the song of the same name)

It's not a silly little moment,
It's not the storm before the calm.
This is the deep and dying breath of
This love that we've been working on.

Can't seem to hold you like I want to
So I can feel you in my arms.
Nobody's gonna come and save you,
We pulled too many false alarms.

We're going down,
And you can see it too.
We're going down,
And you know that we're doomed.
My dear,
We're slow dancing in a burning room.

My heart is engulfed in flames. My hands trembled. I was torched with searing heat but I could not sense a single drop of sweat.

In a true moment of synesthesia, the sound of her words appeared before my eyes. The barrage of colors jumped at me, before settling down to sinister-looking letters. I closed my eyes, but they remained.

I stood across the hall, isolated from the carnage. I saw them, holding each other, looking into each other’s eyes, smiling, completely oblivious to the world crumbling around them.

I wanted to rush to help, but something paralyzed me; something in my heart that kept me from saving them. But, alas, it didn’t seem like they wanted my help.

What is morality to them? I don't know. Perhaps they are amoral creatures putting their ids on full display.

She turned and stared at me. I gazed back. The fire was closing in on them. She gave a faint smile, a smile that said that she was completely content with what she had right there and then. A smile that said nothing else mattered.

I turned and walked away.

By the time I turned around the building was but a pile of rubble and ash. And yet I could feel that they lived on.

I walked towards the pier, the quietest part of the city. It was a place where one can calm himself and gather his thoughts by taking a stroll by the water and listening to the sound of waves tirelessly charging at the shore.

The night was chilling. I lit my last cigarette and stared out into the gloomy city skyline, her words lingering in my head.

I closed my eyes, and jumped

go cry about it, why don't you?

Lyrics by John Mayer.

Andrew Lloyd’s Webber’s Music, Appreciated & Wasted

I was strolling at a shopping mall in a blue-collar part of Hong Kong and needed to go to the bathroom, which is usually the quietest place in the entire mall. I have a decent ear for recognizing music, and, whether I like it or not, my brain registers tunes wherever I go. This isn’t always a good thing, as too often I have cringed when I hear a song that I’m not too fond of.

So here I was, minding my own / doing my business, when I hear a piano version of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” from Webber’s famous musical Evita. It led me to think: really? who in this entire mall besides me and maybe a few others would recognize, let alone appreciate, a famous song from a musical theatre show that came out in 1978?

Granted, Webber’s music is very famous, especially his work from “The Phantom Of The Opera”, but no one in this part of the city in this part of the world would think of any meaning to “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”, which essentially means that the song was wasted.

It is a meaningful song, depicting the feelings of Eva Peron. But of course, this was irrelevant for mall music.

Chances are that someone in the management liked Evita himself, or, worse yet, liked only that song but didn’t even listen to or seen the musical.

Of course, I doubt that Andrew Lloyd Webber could care less about the fact that people are playing watered-down renditions of his hit songs in shopping malls. It’s just waste art, that’s all.