Friday, October 31, 2008

A Champion Re-appears !

Almost every year, since the early 80's, D2 and I would be present at the
Chinese New year Celebrations of SGardens. And in those earlier years, I provided most of the musical accompaniment on my guitar and once in a while with the ukulele....for many dinner and other functions. Former MP, Dr Lau Teik Soon and his wife loved to sing the old and evergreen songs. They were not the only ones who enjoyed sing along sessions. Many of our now retired grassroot leaders and senior citizens love to sing and dance as well. Whenever "Doc"as I used to call him got cornered to sing a song...9 times out of 10, he would request me to play "Tennessee Waltz"for him.

Those were fun years...those were the days! I was the only Grassroot leader who played either the ukulele or the guitar for close to 2 decades in S gardens. Later, I taught a small group of interested senior citizens basic guitar when we were still located at the old CC.

So, back to this year's CNY gathering.
I was invited or rather more accurately persuaded by the Org Committee to make a special Guest Appearance for this event. It has been quite a while since I last appeared on the S G stage.
Before I started my medley of songs, I looked at the full hall of people, scanned their faces and recognised only a handful of people who were with me exactly 20 years ago when we were part of the Serangoon Gardens Sing Singapore Group which won the CHAMPIONS TROPHY in 1988. All the nearly 80 constituencies took part. It was the very 1st SING SINGAPORE Nation -wide contest...and involved many months of preparations.
And unk Dicko here...had the honour and distinction of leading that special group to a historic victory for S Gardens!
The majority of those present in the hall are in the dark about the great achievements of some of their predecessors.
That's a shame and a terrible pity for it was a glorious, golden chapter in the history of my "kampong"!
But, as I looked and walked around the present new CC...I did not see a SINGLE PICTURE or PHOTO anywhere of that great triumph of 1988. Even the Trophy is gone? Yet, it was FRONT PAGE NEWS in all the Papers back then!
Fortunately, I still have lots of stuff connected to that great episode. So can one day blog about the experience in greater detail.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Agony and Ecstasy of Dance.

You gotta Move it, Move it !
Yes...Move it! Move it!

I think I over Move It !
Yes...Move it!
The sheer joy of Dance can never be fully comprehended unless you have experienced the Agony and the Ecstasy all at the same time.
Por fa vor?

The Thomas Train?...No, it's the SG Train !

I noticed that the Country Club Food and Beverage staff were looking on in amusement and bewilderment as the train chugged along among the neatly laid out dining sets.
Can't blame them as it was indeed quite a spectacle!
As the heading for my previous post on this story said...what recession?
And may I also add ....what turmoil? What Bird flu? What melamine? What this or that?
Why bury ourselves in the sand as soon as some dark clouds hover over us. Better to look up and face the grey sky with faithful optimism.
That's the thing that struck me as I watched this happy train of people moving along...with seemingly nether

a care or worry about tomorrow.
That's the kind of spirit I think we will need to overcome many of the so- called difficulties facing our people and our nation today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


In my post of 24 October' 08, I had promised to release further details of the FREE Blogging
sessions that I would be conducting soon.

Here are the confirmed details:

1. Four available dates to choose from:-
a) Thursday 6 Nov
b) Tuesday 11 Nov
c) Thursday 13 Nov
d) Saturday 15 Nov

Time: 4.00 - 5.30 pm on all days

2. Venue:
Contact 123 IT centre at Blk 123, Serangoon North Ave 1.

3. Number of Participants:
10 - 11 persons per session.
Participants should bring along a notebook and pen.

4. Who can attend?
Basically, I'm hoping to introduce the fun of Blogging to senior folks and retirees. I am aware
many in this group are eager to pick up this skill...but has no one to really coach them.
However, if you are not an image of this group but are still keen to are still
welcome, as long as the places are not filled up.

5. How to register?

a) Contact the centre and tell them you are interested. Provide Name and details.
b) Tell me here. Put your name in Comment section of this post. I will get back to you.

6. Do avail yourself of this opportunity. Tell other interested senior folks you know about this.

N/B: Contact 123 centre is open only on Tues, Thurs, Sat.

Unk Dicko

Despite the Recession....SG has its own Train!

The music and fun did not stop even after the Bistros had left. There was still an hour to closing time and our enthusiastic "Ka-ra-okers" went into overdrive...literally. They searched through the limited albums on hand at the audio table. Mandarin and Hokkien numbers were also popular.
Then came the ever-popular favourite," Que Sera Sera" which almost everyone could somehow join in the singing. The singing was so good and spontaneous that a short human chain soon formed...and wormed its way through the dance floor as more and more chaps were hauled on board.

Our G-O-H, who was highly amused by the antics of this human train,must have thought she would be immune to their recruitment the people at her table were all "shanghaied".
But the SG trainwould be incomplete without, haha, welcome on Board !

No one was left at any table as the "train" continued to pick up tempo and energy. I too was dragged into it for a moment but soon got out of it. Otherwise there would be no picture and story to tell!


Here are 2 memorable snapshots of
the pair of Paul and Wan calling
themselves "The Bistro"...with me.

These two are really nice guys and have an excellent performing style of their own.

I would not hesitate to recommend their musical services to anyone out there.
In my short chat with them I asked if either of them play the ukulele. They were not familiar with it..but after listening to my play, they were very impressed by the sounds of the uke. Wan asked about the uke itself...what it cost. I told him. He was shocked! This was also a first for them...having a ukulele player on board entertaining "Live", together. Well Paul and Wan, ( they have my blogsite address )...if you are reading this, THANKS for the excellent music provided on the night. You guys are great! And if you ever have need for some special UKULELE sounds, you can reach me right here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let's Do the MACARENA !!!

As our medley ended, I heard someone calling out just one magical word that was most familiar to me...and that word was "MACARENA !"
Wow..that was the signal for me to scoot from the stage to grab my Digital C again.
Images of "You got to move it, move it"... the scenes from the epic Madagascar movie floated through my mind.
Sure enough, as these pics from my camera was Macarena time!

Never mind if you don't know the actual dance moves for this exotic song.

Any move you make will do. Or just follow the leader...there were quite a few. Haha. That's the fun!
Follow whom?

I put the English lyrics of the song here. The original version is all in South American may get a twisted tongue if you try singing it in the Spanish or Portuguese version.


When I dance they call me macarena and the boys they say that I´m buena they all want me, they can´t have me So they all come and dance beside me move with me jam with me and if your good i take you home with me A la tuhuelpa legria macarena Que tuhuelce paralla legria cosabuena A la tuhuelpa legria macarena Eeeh, macarena A-Hai 2x Now don´t you worry ´bout my boy friend the boy who´s name is Nicorino I don´t want him, ´cause sent him he was no good so I - hahaaaa Now, come on, what was I supposed to do ? He was outta town and his two friends were soooo fine Ref. 2x Claps Ahai Ahai Keys Ref. 2x Lach Come and find me, my name is Macarena always at the party, ´cause the chicos think I´m buena come join me, dance with me and all your fellows cat hello with me Ref. 5x

No need to ask if our G-O-H Mrs Lim was enjoying the occasion or not.
The picture at the VIP table says it all!

More Candid Pics...PBM/BBM Dand D.

Now all of you would know..what is a Dinner, a Makan, a Function or just an occasion...without the accompaniment of some good music as added spice and flavour.

But I must hasten to add, from my long, long years of providing sweet music to functions I've lost count by now...that the " background" of the people present counts a lot.

Our people in Sg Gardens are truly a lively Claire Ng said in an email I just received moments ago, " hidden talents everywhere and very dynamic". I can assure all she's not refering to grassroot work only but " how to let your hair down"and simply enjoy such occasions, amidst good music and amidst good friends.
That was clearly in evidence the way I saw it too.

The two who hosted this dinner and dance... Edward and D2, had to work very hard as they were "hot" dance partners for many dance wannabies!

Guest Appearance by Unk Dicko...on Uke!

Was this the 1st time I have been able to blend in nicely and smoothly with a duo, a trio or a 4 piece band? The answer is "no", not the 1st time. There were many occasions, over the last 30 -40 years that I was jamming live with such musicians. They were really great sessions....much like this one with the Bistros.
It is so much easier to do this with pros such as this versatile pair of Paul and Wan. Perhaps, I should have asked them whether they would like to include me in their engagements from time to time, especially when clients specifically want some "magic" sounds from the ukulele, in the evening's entertainment. Haha! Am I merely dreaming?
A few months ago, I had a reunion at my home with my former colleagues. Elize and her American hubby, Gary, flew in from USA to be with us. Before coming, they had requested for my Ukulele and guitar songs of some of their favourites old time country and western songs. We had so much fun and laughter singing songs from my book. Then I played some really nice solo pieces for them. Gary was totally engrossed and rapt in listening attention. At the end of the evening, he said to me....." You should seriously consider providing such musical entertainment at some resorts or pubs located by the beach or seafront. People would pay to listen to such music and songs especially on the's not common. And it's beautiful. "

So ,there you have it. If you happen to stroll by the beach one day, along Changi, Pasir Ris or the East Coast and you hear the familiar sounds of sweet ukulele music drifting through the air, go check it out. It just might turn out to be unk Dicko who's making the sounds!

A guitar, a double bass and a UKULELE! Pure Magic!

This is the kind of people that musicians and entertainers love! The duo of The Bistro ( Wan and Paul) played their part too, dishing out contemporary hits mixed with an assortment of oldies' music...that soon got the temperatures up. And when people get the "fever"that meant Rock and Roll time! "Ok's time to rock....One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock rock....!" And fellas scrambled from their half-eaten dinner, still on the table, and moved to the dance this seemed much more FUN than dining. I too got into some, not rocking but working overtime to capture some candid shots...with my Digital in this candid picture of an obviously shy but jovial chap being bundled and pushed by his friend to rock with D2. Haha! What fun they were all having and there was much more to come.

I heard someone yell..." the Twist, the Twist !"And the good musicians that they were, Wan crooned into the mic, " Ok, it's twisting time...Chubby Checker says twisting time is here..!."
"Come on let's twist again, like we did last summer,yeah let's twist again,like we did last year...". I looked around and there were many twisters...mostly the younger ones. The older folks I suspect have over-twisted themselves a long time ago as can be seen in their forlorn looks...that say, if only I was 20 years young! I did not tell you, but unk Dicko is an excellent reader of people as well as situations under any circumstances. I could sense that the older folks too want to get into the swing of things...but they could not rock,not roll, nor twist. I signalled to Bistro...mouthing the word "Cha-Cha". They were superbly alert, with Paul breaking out into a hot "Hokkien" cha-cha number. More scrambling from around the tables...ahem, by the senior citizens who took to the floor to show and to regain some semblance of their lost pride. It was non-stop frenetic dancing all the way from Go. It probably affected the Bistro duo more than all the folks as they took a much needed break shortly after.

When they returned to the stage, they both invited me up to join them in a non-stop medley of songs...with my Kamaka Ukulele, of course. No prior rehearsal, no practice beforehand. Not even synchronised tuning took place. Problem? What problem? Recall what I said in my earlier post " Have Ukulele will travel"'s easier for me as a ukulele player to follow the guitarist than the other way around.
We entertained all with an assortment of catchy songs..Loy Loy Krathong, Ta Mong Ta, (Thai), Burong Kaka, Di -Tanjong Katong, Chan Mali Chan, Island in the Sun, Yellow Bird etc... . In situations like this, you play by "ear". Only from much experience can this be done! And the result, with the uke included....was magical!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

PBM and BBM Dinner at SG country club.

Last night, Sunday 26th Oct '08, I was at the Serangoon Gardens Country Club for this Dinner function. It was hosted by Edward Chye and D2, the 2 popular,likeable and hardworking grassroot leaders of SG constituency who were awarded the PBM and the BBM respectively by the President of Singapore in this years' National Day Awards. This Dinner function was their way of thanking their fellow grassroot volunteers and others for the friendship and support they have received through the all areas of their voluntary work. It was held at the Heliconia Room of the club. Above: Edward speaking.

Above: D2 speaking before Dinner proper commenced.

Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Senior Minister of State ( Finance ) and (Transport)and MP for S Gardens was the Guest-of-Honour. She spoke off the cuff..that these 2 awardees truly deserved their awards for the way they have managed to gel the people in the various committees in their effort to foster a better community for all.

A sumptious buffet spread was laid out for all the guests . As they dined, music was provided by the Professional duo of musicians....the Bistro. On guitar was Paul while Wan played the Double bass.
They were very competent entertainers and easily put the diners into a nice, relaxed mood with their smooth singing and music.
Having a good "feel" of the crowd is very important and they played with that uppermost in their mind.
In such a setting as described here, can a good ukulele player fit in and some more spice to the music?
To find out...must see my next post!

This SONG was voted SONG of THE CENTURY !

I am willing to bet that many of you did not know the song, " Over The Rainbow" originally sung by Judy Garland in the film classic "Wizard of Oz", was voted the # 1 Song of the Century ( 1/365 ).
In 2001, the Recording Industry Association of America ( RIAA ) conducted a poll to select the top 365 songs of the century. You can see the full list in wikipedia. "Over the Rainbow" was also voted the Top song in another poll conducted by the American Film Industry(AFI) in 2004 called the Top 100 songs from films.

The Youtube video I have put here is a special version sung by the late Ukulele great...Israel Kamakawiwo'ole of Hawaii. His version appeared in the 2004 Romantic Comedy " 50 First Dates ", a movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, directed by Peter Segal.

This video comes with lyrics....just like karaoke.

Many people consider this version by Brudder Iz ( his nickname) even better than the original one. I am one of these many people!

He sings Over the Rainbow and continues with What A Wonderful World.

If anyone in Singapore wants to hear a rendition of Brudder Iz's version "Live"...on ukulele, you would have to make a private appointment with unk Dicko...or wait a little longer until I post my own version here or in day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ukulele...want to be a maestro? Easy!

This special post I'm doing is for anyone who is keen to learn how to play the ukulele and for others who want to play like a ukulele maestro!
When I first started out to teach myself the ukulele in 1963, I had a very basic chord guide booklet. It was good enough for me to learn the major chords that was grouped under each key and apply them to most songs I knew. Over time, I had memorised these groups of chords. But when I bought a few song books later, I discovered that most of the songs I love use many different chords both major and minor. And in playing these songs, some of which have more than 20 chords in just one song, if you do not take the trouble to learn and practise them, you will not improve your standard of play.
Thus the 1st important key step in wanting to be a better ukulele player is to be committed to LEARN and then to try out the chords and the song, one at a time. Don't take shortcuts!
A long,long time ago, I knew I was able to play any song with 4 to 6 chords as long as I was familiar with the tune. That is fine if you are doing a group sing-along where you may not even be looking at the song lyrics and tabs. Often I play "by ear".
However, if you want to go beyond that...then do follow my tips here.
Take the song "Five Foot Two" [above]. In all my examples I assume you know how to sing the song or put another way, how the song is sung. Youtube is a great resource here!
1. Source out the song especially with ukulele diagram chords on the page. They are of immense help in your learning process. You can't possibly remember all the hundreds of chords! It is already so difficult to remember phone numbers. But many ways, the chords will somehow stick in direct relation to the amount of time you spend practising.
2. The song 5 Foot 2 uses only 5 chords in all! It is the kind of song made for the ukulele lover.
Don't get too excited. Analysed the tabs where each chord is placed over the lyrics. Now, there are 2 ways you can learn to play the song smoothly and beautifully.
One way is to practise playing all the 5 chords first. Just strum slowly and easily beginning with C, then to E7, A7, D7, G7 and C again. No tunes, no singing yet. Just trying out the smooth changing of your fingers from chord to chord. Once you can do this well..strum and SING the song as you play. Very Important to SING aloud...this helps your memory process to register better.
Strum to the tempo of the song.
The other way is to follow the chord progression as shown over the lyrics and just SING and play along. It will be a little staccato as you pause and move your fingers to "new" chords, from one to another. But over time, you will get better.
So there you are...go try it out.
That most wonderful song " Dream A Little Dream" uses 13 chords in all. It is not easy but not too difficult either and worth the effort when you succeed! Just beautiful! Listen carefully to the tune if you want to play it well!
The old time favourite "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree" uses 21 chords in all!
This one is a big challenge !

Friday, October 24, 2008

Unk Dicko conducting free Blogging sessions soon!

A few minutes ago, I had some moments to spare and just "Googled" for fun...using my name as a search item. There were many pages that popped out. Sometimes a search of an item can run into more than a hundred pages., with each page carrying about 15-20 references of links to the search item. Fortunately, this particular one here by MyPaper reader Nelson Quah, was within the first few pages. This is the 1st time I had seen and read this account. If I had not "Googled" earlier, I most likely would have missed it entirely.
And if ever reader Nelson Quah comes upon this post here....unk Dicko wishes to thank him
for his uplifting remarks in the story. So seniors and retirees out there, including my fellow AAA winners like Tang Wing Kee, my former retired friends and colleagues in the education circle, and all others...why not come on over, join in the fun"Learn to Blog" sessions that I am about to conduct ( FOC) at CONTACT 123 IT Centre, Serangoon North Ave 1.
I will put the details like day and time slots on my blog here.
The full details will be out shortly.
The sessions will be on a 1st come 1st served basis...either register with me or at the centre.
Each session, I can accomodate about 12 people. ( computer sets dictate ).
Unk Dicko may be a "newbie" to IT and blogging and computer.
But that is a GREAT ADVANTAGE as I know exactly how to help you overcome the" fears" of IT and get you started in no time at all...on your new blogging journey!


IT knowledge keeps the elderly alert and in touch 'Keeping abreast of the latest in technology means not remaining stagnant', says reader. -myp -->
Thursday, Oct 9, 2008 my paper

IT WAS wonderful to read the report, "IT-savvy 61-year-old was once a 'dinosaur'" (my paper, Oct 8). I congratulate Mr Dick Yip for winning the Active Agers InfoComm Champion Award.
With our sizeable population of seniors set to grow even bigger in the years to come, we should encourage elderly people to keep themselves busy by picking up IT knowledge and skills. Keeping abreast of the latest in technology means not remaining stagnant.
I know a friend who is 65 years old and who, even at his age, has recently registered for a Photoshop course to keep himself mentally active.
I admire his flexibility and resolve to learn new things in order to keep up with the times. A nimble mind contributes to physical well-being.
He said: "Senior citizens usually give all sorts of excuses for not wanting to learn new things.
"This mental handicap is worse than any physical handicap, as it may result in a deterioration of their brain cells, which in turn affects their health."
Elderly people should take advantage of basic IT courses organised by community centres, where they are taught to surf the Web and use e-mail to communicate with friends and loved ones, especially those living abroad.
With their newly-acquired IT skills, senior citizens will find that life has more to offer them in their golden years than just a mundane existence, with no purpose and meaning.
Mr Nelson Quah

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The day I Played against a World CHAMPION!

Here is a picture of me in 1995 shaking hands with CHINA's No: 1 badminton player and former WORLD SINGLES CHAMPION..Zhao Jianhua.
I pointed to him with the 'ok' sign and we were both smiling, he mischievously. There was a reason for that!
He came out of the blue ,early one morning, while I was at my table in the PE office at Hwa Chong JC. No prior notice....just like that! He was accompanied by Dr Ow Chin Hock's daughter who was our student. Dr Ow was a Member of Parliament then.
We spoke or rather he spoke while I tried my level best not to disgrace our ancestors who were mandarin speakers. He came with the purpose of testing and trying out our badminton courts, which was at that time the best in S'pore. But he came unprepared. Except for his racquet, he was in long jeans and t-shirt ( not the one in the pic. This one I gave him to wear after "our encounter" ) .
I brought him to our hall and......students having PE there suddenly stopped all activities and stared in disbelief. After checking out the courts' flooring ( the best....from West Germany then), I invited Zhao to test it out. We took our own racquets and started stroking in cavalier fashion. Then I thought to myself why not ask him for a game since we were already on court. I did that. He, the gentleman that he was, readily agreed. And so we played...just one set, he in long jeans, me in long pants but both with proper shoes. The students were all watching... enthralled! For the record, he won the set, I lost. The score....let's just say it was not a "duck's" game as I managed to score a couple of points against a World Champion! ( but he winked his eyes !!!). As if to say, you know what I mean...
We were both drenched after the game I gave Zhao that new T-shirt to wear before I introduced him to the principal and my fellow Heads of Department.
That occasion was the only time that unk Dicko has ever played against a legendary World Champion in any sport...let alone in his top sport!
Btw, I have followed the sport of Badminton for a mighty long time, since the 50's...followed all the performances of the great players from Indonesia, Singapore,Malaya,China,Denmark and elsewhere...seen many up close personally, interviewed some, etc..., for me and many people out there, ZHAO JIANHUA is truly one of the Greatest, if not the greatest player of all time ( at his peak).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Everly Brothers...Lightning Express.

In my previous post, I mentioned that one of our "hot" request was the song by the Everly Brothers, "The Lightning Express". This is the Youtube video of that famous pair singing this sad and soulful song. I will try to get the lyrics onto this page soon.

Many old timers of my generation love songs by the Everly Brothers. The brothers have broken up their pairing years ago...but before they did, they were a top draw around the world. Their music and songs live on. Many are in my handwritten song book too.

How many of you remember this song? Tell me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Have Ukulele Will Travel.

Early in 1972, I chanced upon a press release by the Singapore Jaycees who were looking for 4 Oustanding Youths to represent Singapore on the 2nd ASIAN YOUTH VOYAGE and to participate in the 1st ASIAN YOUTH CONFERENCE to be held in Naha,Okinawa. They called on youth leaders everywhere to apply. On the application form, I saw a problematic caution, " Applicants must be able to speak Japanese or is undergoing a course in the language."
Unk Dicko here could not speak Japanese nor was at that time attending any course. Problem?
Fortune favours the Brave!!! I will blog about the actual interview another day. It is most interesting and revealing! Fast forward....despite my clear"handicap", I was selected out of more than 400 strong applicants to be the official Leader of Singapore's Delegation, 3 guys and 1 lady. The entire trip, voyage, homestay programme was sponsored by Japan Jaycees. There were many others from Asia and Japan itself, more than a thousand participants. We sailed on board the Youth Ship, the SS Coral Princess. I brought along my only ukulele ( the one I bought from my classmate Gebian). As I said in my previous post, back then, Ukulele players were almost unheard of in our part of the world. I was the only Ukulele player on board! And provided most of the music throughout too. At the Farewell night on board ship, while heading for Japan, our host Japan Jaycees surprised me by presenting me with a gift of a Ukulele...( see photo in previous post, LUNA Brand, Tokyo 1972). And they requested for me to tune it and perform impromptu...on stage. I was away from home for more than a month..June/July 1972....a very difficult time for me emotionally as my daughter D3 was about 8 months old then.
And she was very close to me and vice-versa. Fortunately, D2 held the fort very well while I was away. I carried a photo of D3 and proudly showed it to one and all. "A-ha, Dickosan's Akachang" they would all chorused in Japanese! " Hai! Hai! my akachang (baby) !" was my reply.
( see photo above ).

This black and white photo showed me and a friend performing at Hotel Negara, Kuala Lumpur in a Ukulele - Guitar 1973. The uke is actually a perfect instrument to go with the guitar. But they need to be synchronised ( tuning ) together.

From experience, I found that it was much easier for me to accompany a guitar player on a song than the other way around. This was because most guitarists then were not familiar with the ukulele chords or playing style. Since I was also a self-taught guitarist, I could follow a guitar player on any song we knew.
That's what was taking place here.
We were playing a non-stop medley of catchy songs and got everyone in the mood and swing of things!

In April 1999, I received an urgent message through my boss ( Principal). The message said I was specially requested for by the 2nd Perm Secretary of MOE, Mr Chiang Chie Foo to entertain our guests at the Farewell-Thank You Dinner of the 34th South East Asian Ministers of Education Conference. After a couple of phone calls to find out more, I was told to bring along my Ukulele. Those invited to appear with me that night were like me, excellent entertainers who can sing in harmony

with NO prior rehearsal or practice. We were truly all very busy and engaged in our work in school then. We did a couple of numbers that went down really well with the distinguished crowd. popular request, the one song that many who heard us sing before in perfect harmony, was shouted out. " We want the Lightning Express ! " A song made famous by the Everly Brothers. I went to the mic and adlib...." and now, join the ELDERLY Brothers as we sing you our version of.....".
In the photo above: Roger Lim( also a magician ), unk Dicko on Ukulele, Saifudin ( ex-talentime winner ).

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Awakening of a Dinosaur !

This is the continuation of my story from a computer illiterate alias an" I T dinosaur" to my present status.
The NewPaper had a major news article about me in the Sunday edition of 8th April 2007. They also featured 2 other well-known senior bloggers who have been around the blogging scene for several years already. One is my good online blogging friend Lam Chun See of Good Morning Yesterday. The other is the popular Mdm You Ya Min of Laozhabor blogsite.
The report here basically summarises the story of how I got myself started in the world of blogging which was entirely alien to me then. I knew nuts about the subject. I knew next to nothing about whatever blogging was. And I had no interest nor any intention to start prior to that fateful week in early January, last year (2007).
It was because I was a little upset that hardly anyone bothered to fill in their personal contact details in the blank journal book I left at my late mother's wake. Using my initiative, I had wanted to update the contacts of all family members in the extended family.
On hindsight, had everyone done that, this story might have never happened!
[ click on the news story itself to read further]
And since I had made my nephews and nieces a promise...I intended to keep it. That's why I delved straight away into this "alien" world of blogging after peacefully laying my late mother's ashes to rest in the deep sea of Changi. Did not waste any time but got down to grips with tackling this new thing called blogging. I had no coach nor instructor only my nephew, over the phone, who gave me some tips on how to register and log in. It was almost impossible to do so.
Eventually, I figured things out for tiny step at a time. It was a very steep learning curve for me....about the technicalities of blogging, scanning a photo,forward, download and upload, craft and publish. But I DID IT ! That's the most important thing.
The moment that happened, I knew straight away I have jumped over a HUGE BARRIER I once thought impossible, for dinosaurs like me.
Even when I bravely started this Wise Owl Blog in Sept last year, right upto that time, I was still
in the dark about to crop a picture, how to reduce its size or increase it, how to enhance, about pixels, about Dpi, how to set up and organise albums in Picassa, how to do this and that!
Go to my earliest posts on this blogsite ( Sept 21 2007) and see for yourself what I mean!
I have not changed a thing. Not embarassed? Why should I be embarassed? I'm delirious!
When I first set out this blog as well as the other ( Yippie Blogsite), I had thought hard about the main subject matter of what I hope to accomplish. Whatever the content will be, I have decided it will be based on MY PERSONAL TRUE LIFE STORIES, TRUE LIFE EXPERIENCES
and ANECDOTES. So, if anyone is looking for fiction here, he or she will be disappointed.
That will remain the mainstay of my blog.
By my own conservative estimate, in this one plus year of blogging, I have only touch on not more than 10 % of my true life experiences. Want a glimpse of what's coming up? OK....
Remember, it really happened as will be detailed later.
1. The day I jumped off ADAM Road flyover and survived! Unbelievable..!
2. Three almost certain DROWNINGs...I should not have survived! But did. Lessons here!
3. The Hotel New World Disaster....uncanny!
4. How I personally prevented a disaster at OBS, P Ubin in 1969. A Story never revealed!
5. Trapped in the world of the "Living Dead" or zombies. Incredible but true!
6. Surrounded and about to be hammered by 10 beefy bullies..! What happened?
and much, much more true experiences!
The old, yellowed testimonial I have put here is the 2nd document I managed to scan successfully on my first attempt at blogging, Jan last year.
It belonged to my late father and was among the batch of papers mentioned in the post" Why I Enjoy Blogging so much"[ see Oct 2 2008 archives ].
I have an interesting detailed post about the Kallang Gasworks and my father in the other blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Ukuleles and me..and how it all started !

In 1963, a classmate of mine named Gebian Lye asked me to drop over at his home. We were in the best arts class of Sec 3 A Victoria School, then located at Tyrwhit Road, Jalan Besar. He was living opposite Lorong 23 Geylang. Shortly after I came, he produced a ukulele and asked me if I would like to have it.
Details of ukulele from left to right.
A) This Tenor ukulele has 18 frets and has
a word written in cursive"Capiiol",
with what looks like a tortoise
image above it. No sign or label
anywhere to say where it was from.
But it is made of solid, good wood.
My guess is it probably came from
Europe or USA. 1963.
B) This is a 12 fret soprano ukulele. Brand
name is LUNA made in Tokyo, Japan 1972. Was a gift to me by Japan Jaycees.
C) This is a genuine, handmade 12 fret soprano ukulele by the famous Kamaka Ukulele company of Hawaii...1981. It is very costly and is a sought after collector's item. . D) Brand name "Mahalo"made in China. 12 fret soprano uke 2008. E) Brand name " Hofner". 12 fret soprano uke made in Germany, 2003.

In my chat with Gebian, he told me that the uke was given to him by his pastor father and he could not play it. He thought I might find a better use for it than him since I was always singing scout and campfire songs. I was then Patrol Leader in the Senior troop of the famous 6th ARROW Victoria Scout Group and was also the Group QM and Scribe. The uke came with no case, no info, nothing.

I accepted the offer to buy it from him for the princely sum of $20 payable by installments. Btw, for the same amount of money I could have bought a 2nd hand adult bicycle! ( which I did not then have). This was my very 1st ukulele...the one on the far left of the picture. But I knew nothing about how to play it. No one to teach me at all! No Youtube then! Frustrating? No! I took a bus to the old Capitol Theatre and there walked into Swee Lee & Co, a music store. The company has expanded today. I asked them," I have a ukulele but don't know how to play, what can I do?" They told me to buy a ukulele chord book and try it out...just follow the instructions. Cost about 50 cents. Had only about 16 pages. It had diagrams showing the 4 strings G C E A and fingering for the chords of various names and strumming patterns and strokes. That very basic simple booklet was my only guide...initially. But it was good enough. I had learnt to play slowly by applying the chords to familiar tunes, improvising my strums etc. Soon, my uke was a regular feature at scout meeting sing-a-long, camps and campfires. Many of my contemporaries love the sounds of the uke but none showed any inclination to take it up except for one fellow scout, T Ping. T Ping was so keen to learn I spent time teaching him and letting him play the uke often. He was my very 1st "pupil" or in his own words today," I was your faithful disciple for ukulele."[ We reunited and remet at my place and club early this year, after such long years of parting. He brought along his uke ! ]
In all those early years, I have not seen any other person, besides myself, playing the ukulele whereever I went to. Guitar yes, uke no. I'm sure there must be some others but ukulele players were a rare breed then. The picture today is slowly changing, hopefully. And having been playing the uke since 1963 till now ( 45 years! ).......
Unk Dicko intends to be a BIG part of the change.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Ukuleles and me!

The ukulele is an excellent musical instrument to introduce to anyone who wishes to learn how to strum, play and sing a song. Once you have mastered a few simple ukulele chords and know how to apply them to the tune of the're on the way!
Young or old can pick up the skills easily under the guidance of a ukulele maestro. You can also learn to play it by yourself especially with the easy availability of beginners video clips on Youtube.
However and speaking from long experience, I know that many who adopt a self-teaching/learning approach do start enthusiastically but usually fizzle out in no time at all. How come? Why does this usually happen? Anyone who wants to learn by himself must realise that he has to figure out everything by himself. You read or watch the instructions and understand, then try it works, it sounds ok, Good! But if you do the same but "don't get it, just cannot get it" still try, it doesn't work, sounds like rubbish....then it is not just, NO GOOD. You begin to lose INTEREST and therefore PATIENCE is also ebbing away slowly. You make a final attempt at picking up playing but you get frustrated and upset with yourself when you don't like the sounds produced...etc. Some years later, you realised you once had a ukulele but can't recall where you kept it....probably gathering dust and mould in the storeroom. It's a common enough scenario. I have been given at least 4 guitars, most in good condition, by friends who told me their daughters or sons have " lost interest"in learning to play. And when I asked," why are you giving this to me?" The Truth>
  • " Because we know you will make good use of it as we have enjoyed the good music and fun you provided with the guitar and the ukulele."
    So, here's my humble advice to all beginners.

First, develop your starting a songbook of songs YOU LIKE. Choose easy, catchy tunes and songs to learn. Leave out the tough ones for much later when you are more adapt. Make your own need to always play to the original, do it in your own way or style.

Next, develop PATIENCE with yourself. Rome was not built in a day. Learning to play the uke is a skill much like fishing. It takes time to be a competent fisherman and even more time to fish like the kampong fishermen [ their livelihood depends on it!].

Lastly, do not be shy! Show your new found skills at simple family gatherings or just among a few close friends who won't scold you anyway! Their encouragement will surely spur you on. Those who are shy will NEVER develop to their full potential.

Unk Dicko's Confirmed Music Background:

1. Never attended any formal music lesson/course.
2. Never had any coach for ukulele or guitar.
3. Never went for singing lessons all my life.
4. NEVER, No Money, Not picked, whatever..

Yet, none of the 4 points above have ever STOPPED me from doing what I did and ACHIEVING what I have accomplished!
Follow story in next post...most interesting DETAILS guaranteed !

My Grandson's Cartoon request 2 years ago.

My eldest grandson who is 7 now received this 5th Birthday drawing from me in May 2006.
Yesterday, he was looking through this blogsite latest postings at my place. Then he came upon the latest cartoons I did....Tigger, Piglet and Winnie the Pooh. He simply love them.
He then went to a get this framed drawing from a wall and asked me to put it on the blog too.
"Can or not kung-kung?"
How to refuse, especially one carrying his name.
So, I removed the drawing from the frame and scanned it...and reattached everything again.
Btw, the grandkids enjoy watching these characters on video cds.
So...cartoon lovers, here's another one for all of you!
And without question for you,Shenn!