Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Note Bene for Musicians

Note Bene for Musicians

p - piano (soft) - the neighbours have complained
f - forte (loud) - the neighbours are out
Crescendo - getting louder - testing the neighbours' tolerance level
ff - fortissimo (VERY loud) - to hell with the neighbours
pp - pianissimo (VERY soft) - the neighbours are at the door
Dim. - thick
Obbligato - being forced to practice
Rit. and/or Rall. - coming up to a bit you haven't practiced
Con moto - I have a car
Allegro - A little motor car
Maestro - A bigger motor car
Metronome - Person small enough to fit comfortably into a Mini
Lento - the days leading up to Easto (with eggo and choco and things)
Largo - brewed in Germany (Hence "Handel's Largo" reaches parts other beers cannot reach!)
Piu Animato - if you don't clean that rabbit cage out, it will have to go
Interval - time to meet the players in the bar
Perfect interval - when drinks are on the house
Cantabile - singing (that is, viz. drunk)
Con spirito - drunk again
Cantata - a fizzy drink
Tutti - ice cream
Coda - a fish-a served with chipsa
Codetta - childs portion
Chords - things that organists play with one finger
Dischords - things that organists play with two fingers
Suspended chord - for lynching the soloist
Rubato - ointment for the musician's back
Subdominant - "I can't play until I've asked the wife"
Tonic - a pick-me-up
Syncopation - bowel condition brought on by an overdose of Jazz
Crotchet - knitting
Quaver - the feeling before a lesson when you haven't practised
Key signature - silly things put there to frighten you (ignore them, they will go away, and so will your audience)
Time signatures - things for drummers to ignore
Colla voce - this shirt is so tight I can't talk
Professional - anyone who can't hold down a steady job
Flats - English apartments
A tempo - (just) in time
A tempo de cafe - Ah, coffee time!
Improvisation - what you do when the music falls down
Fugue - clever stuff
Prelude - warm-up session before the clever stuff
Acciaccattura/appoggiatura - insects
Opus - exclamation made when Moggy has done a "whoopsie" on the carpet
Scales - fishy things
Trills - bird food
Virtuoso - someone who can work wonders with easy-play music
Antiphonal - crossed lines
Melody - an ancient and now extinct art in songwriting
Music - Happiness!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Birthday Review

2006 - Clarke Quay, Singapore
2007 - Bangkok, Thailand
2008 - Bulle, Switzerland
2009 - London, England
2010 - Lossiemouth, Scotland
2011 - Lossiemouth, Scotland
2012 - London, England

Birthdays can be such surreal affairs, indeed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Linguistic Snobbery

Someone please explain to me why the f**k does the UK Home Office's Border Agency not classify Singapore as a "majority English speaking" country. Least I need to remind them, it was their empire-building, bureaucratic Georgian ancestors, who realized that perhaps the British wasn't quite as dominant as the Dutch within the archipelago, that sailed to those fair shores nearly 200 years ago in an attempt to colonize the island, and introduced English as the "administrative standard".

Just so we're clear, every child in Singapore goes through at least 10 years of compulsory English language education, along with an appropriate mother tongue language -- this makes nearly everybody in Singapore effectively bilingual. Besides being the first language, English, along with Malay, Chinese and Tamil, is an official language of Singapore. There also are stringent checks and balances within the education system which makes sure absolutely everybody receives the necessary bilingual education, which is more than I can say for the UK education system.

Interestingly, the UK Border Agency does classify Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica as "majority English speaking" countries. Nothing wrong with that, since English is indeed the official language in these countries. But just because Singapore decided to take a stand against British repossession of the country after WWII, not recognize the Queen as our head of state and not send children to wave little Union Jack flags should the Queen visit, and don't know how to sing "God Save the Queen", doesn't mean we're not better off than the UK in terms of linguistic competence. It's about time the UK government grew out of these narrow, Eurocentric views already!

Just in case you're interested, the countries that the UKBA recognizes as "majority English speaking" countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. God, I couldn't even say all that without without coughing "Commonwealth" and "empire colony" in between!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch

South Korea disqualified from the 3000m relay finals and China still manages to get the gold with a Olympic record?!! UTTERLY, ABSURBLY RIDICULOUS!!

Olympic Fever!

My thoughts are becoming more and more random these days, and this is being exemplified with mental exhaustion that has pretty much put me in a very sullen mood this past week. Combined with the never-ending stream of coursework to deal with, I find myself slowly devolving into a one-man party, having conversations with myself and sometimes not just inside my head.

So earlier this week I was waiting for the 210 bus at Finsbury Park, and at the terminus there was a parked 210 with the doors shut and light off, but with the driver still inside. Outside the bus gathered 15 or 20 people, myself included, in the cold and patiently waiting for the bus to start running. Interestingly, the driver was inside at his seat sipping at a cup of hot coffee waiting for his next shift.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I didn't expect myself to be let into the bus before it started running just so I could get out of the cold. Bus drivers all have a timetable to adhere and stick to, though a fair number of them just simply couldn't be bothered. What I was bemused at, however, so the driver's strong yet perverted sense of resolve, where he had the courage to sip coffee within the warm interiors of his bus in front of dozens of waiting passengers. Positive or not? Admirable in a way? I can't really decide.

Almost my entire past week has been mostly preoccupied with continuous watching of the Winter Olympics. I guess part of the reason is because I'm catching up on all the ones I missed previously -- Singapore never ever had TV coverage of the Winter Olympics, up till 2006 as far as I know. I guess we can't be bothered with keeping up with an international sports meet in which we know we will never win in a hundred lifetimes. Then again, watching something as exciting as the Olympics wouldn't make a lot of sense if you didn't have one or two teams to root for, so I've been paying particular interest to Team GB's progress especially in curling and the sliding events.

Still, nothing beats the exhilaration from watching the South Korean team on the short track -- it's hard not to root for them indeed. Apart from their obvious blazing speed, their style, race strategy and signature tactic of skating from behind in the last few laps make it even more exciting. On the other hand, the US team for short track has been quite rubbish to watch, to be honest. A lot of pushing and shoving from J R Celski and Katherine Reutter, with Apollo Anton Ohno taking the cake for being rough on and off the track. Who can forget the unpleasant verbal comments he had for the South Korean team after winning through lucky circumstances in the 1,500m finals!

I was just watching the 500m qualifying races earlier just now and the commentators were just talking about how Simon Cho, representing the US, could be from Korea "given his name". He placed second behind South Korea (of course) for that particular race, and I couldn't help but think of how Singapore is doing the same -- "poaching" Chinese table tennis players then fielding them against China under the Singapore flag, only for them to lose to their former fellow countrymen and women. This is most recently exemplified in Beijing two years ago. Must be quite the lousy feeling!

I've becoming quite a fan of curling as well, and have been tracking Team GB's progress quite closely. The men's team just crashed out just shy of the semifinals, which is a shame. And of course, Eve Muirhead skipping the women's team was quite the feat, given the fact 19-year-old's debut at the Olympics has been wrought with heaps of pressure. Very good effort! In the meantime, it's the women's bobsleigh that's under way as I'm typing this, and Great Britain 1 just crashed at the notorious (but admittedly very exciting) track at Whistler Sliding Centre. Those who've been watching the sliding events will remember how Dan Money and John Jackson crashed at the infamous corner 13 last week. Tonight two teams have already crashed at corner 11, and not all teams have finished their fourth run in the heats, with Great Britain 1 being one of them.

Well, it's only a couple days left for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and I must say I'm going to miss it -- and eagerly anticipate the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi! Then again, I should stop staying up till 3am everyday watching the Olympics...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

All About 14-02

14 February just passed, and it was a day shared between Lunar New Year (that means Chinese New Year, Korean New Year, Mongolian New Year, Tibetan New Year and Vietnamese New Year) and Valentine's Day. Now, having never being much of a fan of the latter, I was anxious to make sure that I could keep myself occupied with Lunar New Year celebrations so I wouldn't feel too dismal, especially with Min-joo away in Korea.

Last year's Chinese New Year left a very bad taste in my mouth for me, I'm sure some of you might have heard. Nonetheless, this year definitely made up for the last -- I had an amazing reunion dinner of sorts this time round with Jinn, Robyn, Jinn's sister Hsu Mei and her hubby Peter. Dinner was at Hsu Mei and Peter's place in Blackheath, and they practically played model hosts with a fantastic dinner, amazing wine and a very comfortable duvet for myself.

Chinese New Year evening itself was spent with Gordon and his folks who were visiting him in London. How sweet is that! We went for dinner at Four Seasons in Chinatown before Gordon and me headed over to GAMA (for obvious reasons known to Gordon, of course) and we had a bit of soju to round off the Chinese New Year festivities. Not that the celebration has to end though, this Sunday there will be massive Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown, complete with lion dances and firecrackers before topping it all off with fireworks in Trafalgar Square. Nice!

Sun nin fai lok to all, and gung hei fatt choi! And yes, happy Valentine's Day to you, if you insist.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dawn of a New Decade

When I was a bit younger, say four to five years back, I was always constantly hanging out with friends who were substantially older than I was -- I would be fresh into my twenties but most of my mates would be hitting their mid to late twenties, some even in their early thirties. Not that it was a problem at all, except I was attending lots of weddings as people usually do get married at around that age.

And while all of that was going on, I always thought to myself, "Your friends may be getting married but it's alright -- they're older, while you're only 21 and enjoying it!" And now, fast forward half a decade and we're looking at the fact that I will be 25 years old this year. I think of the very day I turned 20 (yes I remember it like it were yesterday!) and how I'm now just about halfway to 30. And friends who are MY age, people whom I went to school and college with, are now starting to get married. What's my excuse now?

Hanging out with friends who were older back then has made me grow up in a constant this-will-never-happen-to-me state of denial. And I have this feeling that when I finally realize that this is all about to change, I will not be prepared for it. At all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Staying At Home Is Bad

So it's been a week and a half since my tumultuous attempt to enter the Gambia -- for those who don't know, I hopped on a plane to Gambia, got rejected at immigration and hopped on the same plane for the return flight back to London. How tedious, isn't it? To cut the long story short, the natives at Gambia immigration felt that my Singapore High Commission-issued temporary travel document, validated by the Gambian High Commission for right of entry, wasn't good enough for them. Guess that's what happens in developing countries like Gambia -- present something that looks more complicated than a one-plus-one-equals-two formula and they throw their arms into the air (minus the spears) declaring not knowing what to do at the top of their voice.

In any case, I have been utterly free and bored to tears since now I have an empty three-week holiday where I'm restrained within the shores of the great UK 'cos the Home Office still has my real passport. I did, however, make an impromptu trip down to Sheffield to visit Jinn, Robyn, Ikhwan and the rest of the guys. Which was quite useful for my psyche, really. Sometimes, spending a couple days outside London does the trick.

Four days later and I was back in London, and since this week started I've only been out of the house on three out of seven days. Not too bad, some hermits might argue -- but if you consider how terribly busy I was during the period leading up to the Gambia trip and all of a sudden, I can now afford to go to bed every night without having to set an alarm, three out of seven days isn't a lot at all. That means for the four remaining days, I did nothing all day but sit on my bum, watch loads of TV, play lots of Xbox 360 and basically just get fat.

And that started to bug me when I thought of how I bought a 7-day zone 1-3 travelcard on Saturday the 5th (the day I arrived back in London from Sheffield) and I just possibly might not have finished using the £21.10 worth it cost me to get the travelcard. Now, that would obviously suck because I wouldn't have paid for a travelcard only to stay in all day, whether by conscious choice or not. So, in all my glorious free time, I listed down all the trips I took within those seven days to see if I tallied up -- and since I was bored enough to come up with this comprehensive list, I thought I might as well just shared it with all of you.

Saturday 05/12:
Kings X Stn - Golders Green Stn [£2.20]
Golders Green Stn - Montrose Ct [£1.00]

Sunday 06/12:
Montrose Ct - Turnpike Ln Stn [£1.00]
Turnpike Ln Stn - Stoke Newington Stn [£1.00]
Stoke Newington High St - Angel Stn [£1.00]

Angel Stn - Golders Green Stn [£2.20]
Golders Green Stn - Montrose Ct [£1.00]
Montrose Ct - Golders Green Stn [£1.00]
Golders Green Stn - Stroud Gn Rd [£1.00]
Stroud Gn Rd - Golders Green Stn [£1.00]
Golders Green Stn - Montrose Ct [£1.00]

Monday 07/12:

Tuesday 08/12:

Wednesday 09/12:
Montrose Ct - Golders Green Stn [£1.00]
Golders Green Stn - Montrose Ct [£1.00]

Thursday 10/12:

Friday 11/12:
Montrose Ct - Golders Green Stn [£1.00]
Golders Green Stn - Camden Town Stn [£1.10]
Camden Town Stn - Russell Sq Stn [£1.60]

Russell Sq - Oxford St [£1.00]
Leicester Sq Stn - Golders Green Stn [£2.20]
Golders Green Stn - Montrose Ct [£1.00]

Blue, of course, refers to bus journeys and green for tube journeys. So, as you can see, my total PAYG equivalent for my week's travel came up to £23.30 -- close! But at least my (discounted) travelcard did not go to naught. Oh dear, now look what I've become. An obsessive hermit.