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After a time, you may find that "having" is not so pleasing a thing,
after all, as "wanting." It is not logical, but it is often true.

- Spock, "Amok Time", The Original Series

August 2018
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My first real exposure to Madonna took place when I was around 13 or 14. The Immaculate Collection was playing in my cousin's car, and the catchy hooks of those classic tunes intrigued me right away. "Who's that girl?" I asked. "Madonna." She remarked. It wasn't long before I saved enough pocket money to get my own copy of the same album on cassette.

What followed were years of worshipping a pop diva that never ceased to thrill, amuse, shock, and fascinate. Even though my obsession with her became less pronounced after I left my teen days behind, each and every one of her new albums always got me excited. What's the new look? What's the new sound? Madonna always manages to reinvent herself, to the delight and consternation of both fans, detractors and critics. As I grew older, I began to appreciate the way she pushes the envelope of sexual politics, self-empowerment and her call to express oneself freely.

Most detractors are quick to reduce her to a brazen, shameless, talentless marketing genius. They do not see an artist whose success and tenacity persists despite the onslaught of sexism and ageism. She's an easy target, but she's no pushover. Strike her down with words, deny her airplay on mainstream radio, declare her irrelevant. Does Madonna give a damn? Maybe for a nanosecond. But she won't be losing sleep over it, because she will continue to create and give the rest of us food for thought in the realm of pop culture.

In the meantime, I hope to see her live in concert again if her impossibly fit body will continue to take her around the world. She is 60 today and yet many of us half of her age wouldn't be close to her fitness level, or possess her ongoing passion to make this world a little more interesting.

Happy birthday, Madonna. You are a true inspiration.

This is who I am
You can like it or not
You can love me
Or leave me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop

It's a sad state of affairs when the only b'day cards you receive in the mailbox are from your recruiter and your mortgage broker. I'm probably not the only one. Do people, other than businesses, send these things anymore? Not that I've been sending them myself... it's just that irritating moment when you enthusiastically rip the envelope open, only to reveal an impersonal card purely for commercial and marketing purposes... I'd much rather they didn't bother really. Save some postage and trees, if you ask me.

Anyways, just started a new role couple of weeks ago. Team is nice enough, and I'm settling in okay I guess. I don't know about everyone else, but there's always this initial stressful period, say in the first month or so at the new workplace, where I feel like I'll be exposed as a fraud anytime. That they're having second thoughts hiring me in the first place. Maybe it's self doubt... maybe it's insecurity... you'd think by now I'd get over it after all these years in the workforce. I think I'm pretty darn good at what I do... and yet...

Mom's arriving tomorrow. I hope she's brought some mooncake goodies for me. It's one of the few things that evoke memories of childhood and family.

I'm listening to::: Calvin Harris - This is What You Came For

So the concert was brilliant. Naturally. Before you know it, two hours have passed and it was over like a dream. There was more interaction with the crowd this time... maybe because it's taken so long for her to return to Australia. Maybe her current situation with custody of Rocco is leaving her more vulnerable. We didn't just see Madonna the performer, the icon, the businesswoman. We also got to see Madonna the person, the mother, the human being. And I really liked that. Please don't leave it too long next time, Madge.

The long weekend also saw Ying flying over and crashing at my pad for a few days before leaving yesterday. I woke up this morning to silence, and really felt her absence. It's funny how I yearn so badly for my own personal space, but there's a lingering ache after a visitor departs. Such a dichotomy of the head and the heart.

A mate of mine revealed he's going to propose to his boyfriend, and get married in the next couple of years. News like this always remind me of how different I am in perceiving and regarding relationships. These days, I've more or less abandoned the idea of ever being in a long term committed partnership. I'm not sure if it's because I'm so used to being single that the idea of being tied down terrifies me, or that the concept no longer appeals to me in practice in the real world. Don't get me wrong... I still enjoy a good romcom now and then, but that's just a fantasy hey? Everyone knows those stories don't happen in real life.

I spent Christmas afternoon at Jerard's home having a splendid lunch prepared by him and his partner. Joined by another friend of theirs, we followed the meal with a game of Heads Up. After bottles of champagne and wine were had, it was time to head home.

For some reason I then decided to listen to old Madonna albums back to back. Maybe it's the build-up of excitement towards the concert in March. Maybe nostalgia.

Going through her catalog, there were so many non-singles that were brilliant and affecting. Some I only grew to appreciate in my later years. It's funny what age and retrospect does to one.

Anyway, thought I'd compile a list of my favourite non-singles in no particular order.

1. Love Spent (MDNA)

So many things to like here - the banjo (!!!), video game sfx, revealing lyrics about her relationship, hilarious use of Benjamin Franklin, and the fact that it sounds like three different songs seamlessly transitioning from one to the next.

2. Promise to Try (Like A Prayer)

She sounds vulnerable and raw here, singing about the mother that she lost. The simple arrangement of piano and strings are a perfect accompaniment to this poignant ballad. A perfect example of how you don't need technically superior vocals to touch listeners.

3. Time Stood Still (OST The Next Best Thing)

A haunting mid-tempo ballad wonderfully produced and written with William Orbit. This will get you thinking about your exes :P

4. Sanctuary (Bedtime Stories)

Set in a surreal and mysterious soundscape, her siren-like vocals here are hypnotic and compiling. When she starts waxing poetry "Surely, whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her I shall follow," I know I will be following her. This song leads into the hallucinogenic Bedtime Story on the album, which makes it that much more awesome.

5. Secret Garden (Erotica)

When the Erotica album came out, it was way ahead of its time. I didn't quite get it then at a tender age of 15. I didn't get Secret Garden either. Years and years later, I revisted the album and fell in love with this closer. With jazzy influences and clever, tongue-firmly-in-cheek lyrics that make me smile, and her very sexy vocals, I can't imagine why I didn't appreciate this gem right from the beginning!

6. Iconic (Rebel Heart)

This song just screams EPIC. Opening with a controversial intro by Mike Tyson, the bombastic build-up about self-empowerment leads to a highly-produced urban chorus. Her vocals have great conviction here, and you believe her when she tells you "there's another part of you no one sees." You can definitely see why she opens her Rebel Heart Tour with this track.

7. Future Lovers (Confessions On A Dancefloor)

Another tour opening track, Future Lovers is, for a lack of a better word, futuristic and pure dancefloor-pop candy. How does one make the words "administration" and "bills" sound so delicious? She can. This is one where you just close your eyes and let the disco lights envelope you.

8. Swim (Ray of Light)

William Orbit's production here is top-notch - from the sonic re-creation of the ocean depths to the relentless ebbing beats and guitars strumming. Madonna sings about the state of our world and the healing properties of water. A spiritual experience.

9. Gone (Music)

A simple electronic-folk ballad that showcases her underrated talent as a singer.

10. Beat Goes On (Hard Candy)

An infectious melody with delicious hooks and synths, Madonna and Kayne West always gets me groovin' with this one. Get down, beep beep!

11. Pray For Spanish Eyes (Like A Prayer)

There have been much speculation as to what this song is about. Its allusions aside, this is one of her more affecting vocal performance. Her pain and empathy is startlingly evident which makes this track all the more compelling.

12. Mer Girl (Ray of Light)

An almost morbid lullaby about coming to terms with death. I have chills when she wails "black sky opened up, blinding me." The electronic blips and beeps are kept to a minimum, letting her vulnerable voice shine. Perfect for before bedtime.

13. Supernatural (B-side to Cherish single)

A hilariously cheeky and fun track about a one night stand/fling that transcends the physical. Either that or she's singing about doing the naughty with a ghost. And when she exclaims "super duper naturally big thing... outrageously large!!!" at the end, you know she's giving you a gawdamn big wink.

14. Wash All Over Me (Rebel Heart)

Whether the pared-down album version or the Avicii club demo, they both excel in revisiting the theme of water and the world's injustice and state of affairs.

15. Till Death Do Us Part (Like A Prayer)

Very retro, very gritty. The fast tempo and chirpy keyboards belies lyrics of an abusive relationship and failed marriage. "You're not in love with someone else, you don't even love yourself" is most telling.

There's a new starter at my work from Sri Lanka to whom I want to do many, many naughty things.

Of course he had to be married. Bleah.

He seems friendly enough, and he's already keen to do Friday afterwork drinks sometime. Looks like there may be hope yet.

Apparently the teaser trailer for the new Star Trek movie will debut with The Force Awakens. Gawd please let it be better than the last installment!

I met Kevin online circa 2007 on a hookup site. This was back when I was still living with the family in the burbs, and privacy was a luxury. It was the same for him as well. We caught up many a time by me sneaking out late at night, and he'd pick me up so we can muck around at a discreet car park of a local reserve. He'd never been with a guy so it was all very new to him. Baby steps.

Eventually we managed to catch up occasionally at my place when everyone was away, or at his when his folks were asleep. He also got very comfortable doing more over time. When I moved closer to the city a few years back, we caught up less frequently as he had family commitments and travel time to mine made it hard. I'd seen him change jobs, girlfriends, cars over the years -  heck he even had a kid at one point. He's probably told me more about his life than most of my other fuckbuddies.

The last time we texted was over a year ago, and then he suddenly dropped off the grid.

I recently thought about him and tried looking him up on Facebook. As it turns out, he passed away earlier this year at the young age of 34. Based on some of the comments made by his close friends, it sounded like he had problems that may have contributed to his demise. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. He often talked about his relationship problems, his addictions, amongst other things. We usually kept our conversations light leading up to our sessions, but there were a couple of times we'd hang out after and chatted over beer and cigarettes, and we seemed more like friends than two people who only enjoyed each other physically.

It's interesting that I've had longer fuckbuddy relationships than any of my "real" relationships. Just because he's never met any of my friends or family, or that we've never gone out for a meal or movie together, or shared sweet nothings; doesn't diminish the amount of time and intimacy we've shared. Therefore, I feel it appropriate to dedicate one entry to Kevin, and thank him for the great times we've had.

Decided to have a quiet evening in and watched Pixar's latest offering - Inside Out.

I had my reservations about the concept initially, but by the final act, tears were streaming down my face.  Would watching this film help youngsters to process these complex feelings? Maybe. Even as an adult, I find myself relating to how the protagonist deals with issues.

Hooked up with a 20-something from online last night after work drinks. He's a software developer who ice-skates, speaks some Japanese, and used to be an academic. He's adorable and also a great kisser. Practically zero fashion sense (or he doesn't care) and sleeps on a rather uncomfortable sofa bed in a messy studio apartment. We live in such different worlds. Sometimes I wonder about my priorities.

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