On writing: One simple check for clearer messages

Over my time in the UK, I’ve been constantly surprised at how things like word order within a sentence don’t receive enough attention.

For example, this line –
There should be a couple of videos floating around of me singing.

would read totally differently if the words, “floating around” was shifted towards the end of the sentence: There should be a couple of videos of me singing floating around.

The first means videos of this are available from several sources:
giphy

 

While the second can mean a couple of videos of this: 

floating singer1

The lesson here?
Pay attention to what goes at the end of the sentence because more often than not, that’s what’s going to define the message:
[There should be] [a couple of videos] [floating around] [of me singing]

Try to think of a sentence as having several sections and you’ll be able to better see how they interact.

While both are largely correct, the second adds ambiguity – and when every second of attention is precious it’s an unnecessary, unwelcome complication.

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Beauty and the Beast – a tale that inspires

Beauty and the Beast – a tale that inspires

There are tales within movies to be written, tales of the feelings they stir.

A seed planted.
An idea whispered.
An ideal put forth.

Each movie weaves a tale of it’s own through the work of scriptwriters, and honed again by the rest of the movie’s crew. There are films you watch through your life where they hold in you and either reinforce your beliefs, giving you firmer ground to stand on, or place ideas and principles in you.

One such movie for me was School Ties, a little known film starring Brandon Fraser and Matt Damon. A film about friendship. And how racism can tear apart bonds of friendship that were in fact the threads of acquaintance.

Now, that the fairly longish preamble is done, on to the rest of the piece. It was a fairly long one but I promise to get to the point. Beauty and the Beast. A film I watched in my childhood at the age of 12 but never held a place in my heart like The Little Mermaid.

This 2017 effort was a new experience for me and I find it easier relating to its characters now that I’ve aged a little, even, grown a little. The whimsical fancy that brought such joy through its music now takes on a new tinge through its characters and motivations.

Growing up as a bookworm, I’ve related strongly to Belle and the idea of being given an entire library as a gift would have been one of immeasurable value though there are analogies that may conjure up a suitable image. The image would be different for each of you reading this though – for it has to be something you deeply treasure personally. And each of us is different in what we value.

I value ideas. And I love films with heroic themes because they inspire more ideas. More ideals even. That strength of purpose is strongest when tempered with wisdom and honed with gentleness. Once you pair that with a clear vision, a single-minded goal to achieve – you get something quite unstoppable.

I’ve long been drawn to motivational themes in stories. They resonate in me long after the closing theme fades away. Sometimes, that tiny spark is all that’s needed to drive action.

Sitting here in front of my computer typing in these thoughts, I feel alive. Where words are tumbling out in droves and even being written in my head during the movie. This. This is what drives me – the composing of words wrapped together in a semblance of a tale, a poem, a thought.

Who would read this? My friends perhaps. Maybe even some acquaintances or connections. People who have passed by me in life or in cyberspace. Either way, I hope a sentence here or even just a word sparks something in you to do something positive. Something that makes a difference in your life or another’s.

I’m not sure if this would end up being a series of thoughts written out after each movie I watch but I know I write best from the heart. And that’s always at it’s most open at the end of a film.

For every film, no matter how poorly it may have been set up, has a story to tell.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. 

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. 

Cliched, yes. But cliches aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves. They communicate concepts quickly thanks to their level of ubiquitousness (Thank you spellchecker for that word…). For today, you, dear reader, know that I speak of another new beginning. Another chapter of my life.

One door closes another opens as they say.  In my case, I believe that windows too shall open far and wide – for me to take stock and drive myself towards where my heart is.

In times of great change, there is a special opportunity to look inward. To look within yourself and see with greater clarity then you ever have before. That can be a curse or a blessing – just like most things in life.

When something happens, you have an opportunity to sit back and wait for something good to come your way or to take life with an iron grip and take charge.

I choose to take charge.

London London – Parody of New York New York – updated for talent competition

In early November, I participated in a Deloitte UK talent competition with a parody I wrote some 7 years back when I was in Malaysia.

Background

I originally wrote it when I was really desiring to come and life and work in the UK (that dream has since come true) and it was for an accounting event that the Big Four was supposed to have their social clubs participate in.

By the time the event rolled around, the social clubs of the other Big Four firms had all pulled out from participating and I was left to hold the flag and represent Deloitte Malaysia’s social club.

I can’t remember what the event was about but I do recall Dato Ng Yen Yen was attending when she was the Deputy Finance Minister.

The original lyrics are in this post – London, London (Parody of New York, New York)

Video of my performance in Deloitte UK’s Got Talent

Happily, one of the celebrity judges was Nina Wadia, one whom I grew up watching in Goodness Gracious Me.

Updated lyrics for the talent competition:
Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today
I’m gonna be a part of it, London, London.
My visa’s approved. Took less than a day. (phew!)
Coz I’ve already bought my flight, London, London.

I want to wake up in the city that’s cold and rainy (erm…)
And find I’m making big bucks! And all in pounds too.
These little city blues, they are melting away
But I’m leaving all my folks behind (sniff, sniff) London, London.
If I can, make it there, I might do better than, Tony Blair,
It’s up to you London, London.

London, London,
I’m going to buy some land, maybe some in East end.
And hope my returns will double, tax exempted, audited too,
then I’ll know I’ve made it too

These little city blues, they are melting away
But I’m still leaving all my folks behind, in ol’ London,
And, if I can make it there, I might be bigger than,
David Beckham’s hair.

It’s up to you, London, London, London

Words (c) 2016 Johnathan Sia

Struggle and hope: A poem (Working title)

 

Written for a colleague:

Struggle and hope: A poem (Working title)

When darkness flows all around,
When dim is sight and sound,
All it takes to break the night,
A single candle, set alight.

Silver linings in dark clouds above,
Diamonds in gritty coal below,
From great strife can come great life,
Like a bird’s struggle before first flight.

Johnathan Sia (C) 2016

Likely (fake) Kuala Lumpur branding discussion

Likely (fake) Kuala Lumpur branding discussion

DBKL: We want to show the old charms of KL.

Design firm: Ok. There’s a great font for that.

DBKL: But we also want to show the new

Design firm: Boleh. Can do contrasting fonts.

DBKL: And we also want to show off our asianness

Design firm: Boleh boleh. There’s a font for that too.

DBKL: Bagus

[Design work completed, approved, and released to the public]
KL-brand-2016

Rakyat: Oo

Life in the UK test 2016

A couple of months ago, I had to pass the Life in the UK test as part of my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (which was ultimate successful, yay!).

After the test, I immediately wrote down as many questions as I could remember. I invite you, dear reader, to have a stab at answering these questions.

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