Thursday, December 29, 2005

Quit Attempt

Attempting to quit, again. I really, really hope it works out this time round. Like what Quan Yifeng said, "I have realized that smoking didn't only help me kill time, but it also help me kill me health. Better to stop". It really struck me as something which did indeed make alot of sense. Better to stop.

Well, I thought this would go in fine as a New Year resolution, but I guess no harm to start two days earlier. Yesterday I smoked only 2 sticks, and today I've completely withdrawn. It's 1:33pm as I'm typing this, so hopefully I'll pull through the day. Earlier just now I finally made up my mind and got nicotine patches. God, they are so damn expensive!

Seven patches (one a day) for $33. I guess it's financially beneficial if you're smoking a pack a day, but for me a pack lasts me three to four days so I don't think it works out as a saving for me. But I guess health is more important than money.

I have four-and-a-half months till enlistment, and with the meagre amount of money that I will be receiving as a non-combat NSF, I hope by then I've quit successfully so as not to even reach out for a stick when I'm in camp. Save money lah. I can't even start to imagine how possible that will be, not to smoke when I've enlisted, knowing all the physical stress that I will be put through considering how inactive I am now.

Whatever it takes, this time I will try my best to quit. No parties, no clubbing, no seating outside when drinking coffee, avoid eating in hawker centres. Whatever it takes. I wish myself all the best.

On a sidenote, if you wish to sponsor my New Year's Eve plans (it isn't very costly, but financial help is always greatly appreciated), please email me at jonathanang@bluebottle.com or txt/call me at 98007875. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Gamertag Request

Hey folks! I'm looking to expand my friends' list on Xbox Live. So if you do have a gamertag, please add me! Or text/email me your gamertag. Thanks! My gamertag is Kaeon.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Shame on NKF!

Well, since everyone is saying their bit I guess I might as well say mine. TT Durai, you deserved to be chewed up, swallowed and spat out all over again. Shame on you for innocently laundering money for your own purposes.

Shame on all of us for going around with your silly donation cards when we were in primary and secondary school.

Shame on me for climbing Mt. Kinabalu to raise funds for your kidney dialysis centre in Yishun when I was in Primary 5. (Well, Mt. Kinabalu was damn fun but slamming the ex-CEO is also just as fun.)

Shame on the poor uncle taxi driver who earns only $1,400 a month, sometimes even less, yet puts in $5 of his effort only to see you go to your latest Mercedes Benz. (This was reported in the Straits Times).

Shame on you for taking a lawsuit to SPH only because you were such a coward. Thank God you didn't win.

If I had to decided who was a bigger asshole, Bush or yourself, you would come really, really close.

Thank goodness I wasn't a regular donor to the NKF. Dear all, please pull your donations to NKF if you are currently doing so. If you think Gerald Ee is capable of pulling the NKF out of the depths of shame in such a short period of time as he promised, you are seriously mistaken.

Please support the Kidney Dialysis Foundation instead. You can find out more about them here. KDF is an independent organisation and is not affiliated to any other kidney organisation in Singapore. If it helps, KPMG are their regular auditors! Good on them!

Also, according to their website, this is their fund-raising principle: "Funds are raised based on a pre-determined annual target. This is to ensure that other worthy charities will not be deprived of public funds." In the true spirit of philanthropy, I applaud KDF. Please, support a more worthy cause instead.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Zoo trip!

Went to the zoo yesterday! With Cyn and my family. It was great fun; I hadn't been there for over a year so there was alot of new stuff there, which was nice. Before that it was raining cats & dogs in the north area, and I was rather apprehensive about making a trip to the zoo in that sort of rain, but it slowed down to a negligible drizzle. Which was rather nice and romantic. :)

Anyway, we managed to catch some animal feeding demonstrations, of which the most exciting one was the feeding of the white tigers. Such beauties! They managed to catch the huge steaks of meat thrown to them with pinpoint accuracy; most fascinating. They looked like big versions of our cats at home.

Here are some photos that we took... Not much, partly due to the fact that I have a camera with a terrible zoom function. Enjoy!

Baboon Nation!


Monkey chilling out.


Time for a snort... Er, I mean, drink.


Looking lovely by the reservoir.


Time to air out the armpits!


"Stop! Who goes there?"


And if you look really closely through the fog, you can see two people in the picture.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Life-trashing...

So it's now back to the days of bumming around at home, feeling wasted. Sigh. I really need a CPF-contributing job. It's just so tough having to tell myself all the time that my finances will be fine and stable in the future, while I'm here having to tide through a gig-by-gig job.

I was looking through the website of this local pianist, Chester Tan, last night. Apparently he's done quite alot for himself -- he has released two commercial albums, one of which is the 3-CD set Piano Spa CD collection. It comes in really big packaging so it's not easy to miss.

He's been jumping onto the music bandwagon since the 80s (nowhere in the website are we told how old he is), and has done local musical productions, music arranging, a little sound design here and there, and basically everything except teaching. Well, I'm sure he does a little teaching but it isn't mentioned on the website.

So here's what we have: local guy, very musically inclined, hardworking, but at the end of the day? Who has really, really heard of Chester Tan before? Even I myself stumbled onto his website by accident. No offense, he is definitely accomplished, but at the end of the day is that enough? It's no secret that the royalties you earn from COMPASS is barely anything. So what to local musicians want to achieve at the end of day?

Even I myself am still finding that out. In the meantime, I hope I get my big break, otherwise I'll be picking up an employment application form for Singapore Airlines in two years' time.

Oh, by the way, you can visit Chester Tan's website here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

DOE

That's it, I've received it. My date of enlistment. Think I'll stick to it this time? Haha... It's on the 21st of April. Six months after my original date of enlistment.

Christmas is round the corner! It's been a hectic week of Christmas shopping, but I've nearly done it all. Yesterday even Causeway Point was crowded. So much for escaping to heartland malls, eh. I've got everyone's gift except for the most important one: Cyn's gift! And to be honest I'm still clueless as to what to get!

Anyway, I spent the whole day indoors today, watching DVDs and backing up the stuff in my laptop 'cos I'm going to reformat it. And let me tell you, it sure is a damn hassle!

Oh, I watched King Kong last Thursday. Another long, epic one by the master Peter Jackson, only this time with added flair which comes in the likes of giant cockroaches and T-Rexes. It's funny how ever since Jurassic Park, no other dinosaurs on film have ever looked that good. And mind you, Jurassic Park came out a long time ago. The dinosaur in A Sound Of Thunder looked ridiculously fake, and even King Kong's dinosaurs just doesn't seem to cut. Looks like Weta could take a few tips from ILM after all.

Well, for all you folks who are still caught in the Christmas shopping crunch, all the best jostling and pushing your way through the crowds! Till then, have a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

SQ is finally over!

It's finally over! The SQ run has ended, and it has been a terrific one! Many thanks to everyone who allowed me to play their songs for them, all beautifully written nonetheless by my very good bro Darren Ng. It's been wonderful getting to know you and working with you. We WILL do this again soon, ya! Don't forget our grand plans for our recital publicity poster. Heh heh.

Anyway, it was back to teaching for me today, so I didn't manage to get my completely off day yet. But I managed to sleep in! Oh and tonight I finally got around to popping my FF XII playable demo disc inside my PS2! Ooh, it was damn exciting! Very good stuff. Can't wait till the game is fully released next year.

Tomorrow's schedule is going to be teaching again, then meeting up with Serene for a quick jam session before heading down to the airport to send Leigh back to the UK. Ok, getting sleepsy already, but still have some work to settle before I turn in. Will update soon!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Aeon Flux

Finally, another update! I've been really busy with Snow Queen, so please forgive me, but we've only 7 more shows to go! So if you haven't watched it yet, please take action and get your tickets now. You have till Sunday to do so!

It's been an absolutely busy week for me this past week. Last Thursday I was at the gala premiere of Aeon Flux, which, by the way, is only a so-so movie. I was expecting much more senseless killing and martial artsy stuff but instead they decided to work on adding more plot holes into the story.

That aside, the premiere was abit LC, if you know what I mean. They served pink punch during the cocktail reception. Of all things, huh! And the goodie bag was quite a laugh: a flimsy A4 folder, a pai kwa A4 sized poster, and a handphone strap. Uhh... that's it.

On Saturday Cyn and me attended a charity fundraising concert which featured the Australian acappella group, The Idea Of North. We had a blast! TION is an excellent acappella group, and you should really go check it out. We bought all their four CDs after the show. Good stuff!

The next day we went to watch Chestnuts, which was quite a blast as well. Very funny stuff, but only people in the theatre circle will fully appreciate everything, so I didn't really catch everything but it was good enough! It runs till Sunday as well, with matinees on the weekend, so be sure not to give it a miss!

We started our first evening performances for Snow Queen on Friday onwards, so it's been a long day everyday since. Ok, gotta rush back to the Esplanade for the evening show now... So, till then!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Busy week!

It's been a busy busy week! Went to the Night Safari, watched the latest Harry Potter movie and went for the open preview for A Twist of Fate. Which is good, cos that meant saving money!

I was very pleased with the latest instalment for Harry Potter. Pacing was fantastic, and Mike Newell did a great job condensing a 734 page book into one watchable movie. Although the transitions were rather odd, and it made the events look like it took place over five weeks instead of a whole year's school term, this is forgivable due the limitations of time and pacing.

Also commendable was the music, actually. With all due respect to John Williams, his style of music didn't really suit the Harry Potter series at all. Over the past three movies I felt like as though I was watching a Star Wars film instead. True, the Harry Potter theme is fantastic, but Patrick Doyle did a superb job at capturing the scenes with his style of music. Take note if you happen to catch the movie in theatres!

Well, gotta run. Snow Queen bumps into theatre tomorrow, so that means a long day of start-stop runs. Groan. See you at the show!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Finally another update!

Hey folks! Finally, another update after nearly a month of inactivity! Apologies first of all for taking such a long time to blog, I've been terribly busy with Snow Queen rehearsals. Well, it's all starting to pay off! We open in exactly a week and although the schedule is really tight, things are looking good!

And isn't now a perfectly good time to plug my show? Heh heh. The Snow Queen starts its run on 22 Nov to 11 Dec, with shows everyday except Mondays. Day performances are $25, evening performances are $35. Shows are at 10am every weekday and 12pm every weekend, with extra performances at 7pm from the 6th to the 11th of Dec.

Special discounts and family packages are also available, so do check out SISTIC for more details! It's a pretty darn fun show, so don't give it a miss hor!

Anyhow, last night Cyn and me went down to Night Safari, thanks to free tickets from Jessie! We met up with our choreographer for SQ and Twist of Fate, Nick, and his West End wife (haha!) Laura at Night Safari. Some of the other TOF cast and crew were there too. Oh, and I managed to spot Poh Choo during the Creatures of the Night show. You go girl! You look so bonded with your small-toothed civet.

I'll post some photos from last night's outing online soon! Oh, and I know this is pretty late, but the previous Sunday I managed to get to watch Lisa Ono live for her one-night only concert! Tickets were pricey, but it was worth every penny. I got chills when she did a solo rendition of Moon River and Smile. A really memorable evening.

Well, that's all for now, and I promise I'll try to update again as soon as I possibly can. So stay tuned! And go book your tickets for Snow Queen now! :)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Birthday Post

Birthday's officially over, and I'm beat! I got presented with a cake during yesterday's rehearsal, thanks Koey, Sonja and everyone else who came up with the idea and went to the trouble of getting it! It was lovely. Incidentally, I had to play my own birthday song when they sang it for me during rehearsal. And of course, cake-cutting is never enough, so things got rough (in a good way), which involved deep heat cream being smothered on me.

After rehearsal Andrew, Cyn & myself went for dinner at Crystal Jade where we marveled over simple things like guiling gao and crispy noodles. Andrew then scooted off for another rehearsal, and Cyn, myself and Caleb went to watch Erick Guansing's solo concert.

It was really good to see Erick again, with the thickest makeup I've seen so far. LOL! His show repertoire was pretty impressive and enjoyable, and listening to "Faith", "If" and "I Need To Know" brought back the good ol' days. Memories, man... Memories. Met Irene and Victoria at the concert as well, former members of Absolut Encounter. It was also good to see Babes again.

Unfortunately, the thing that didn't sit well with the show was the lighting design. They made Erick's concert look a tad unprofessional, with weird sprials and images which looked rather unsuitable for the mood of the songs he was singing. Quite a disappointment. Otherwise Erick managed to salvage it with a presentation of good repertoire and lovely singing voice.

Topping off the night consisted of Cyn and me club-hopping till I got immensely pissed and absolutely wasted. Nice! I kid you not, I'm still feeling high at three on a Saturday afternoon.

Thanks everyone for the presents and all; Darren, Eugene and dear Cyn. Love you guys!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Thanks!

Many thanks to Daphne, Hau Yee & Valerie for getting me my first birthday present! I really like it, thanks so much for going out of the way to get it despite having your exams and all! Really appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Dumb Bush

More proof to the entire world that the United States is being led by a big, meddling, incompetent leader.

In today's copy of TODAY, an article was published on page 2 (you can read it here), Bush demanded Libyan authorities to release five Bulgarian nurses convicted of deliberately infecting northern Libyan children with the Aids virus at a hospital.

Nice work, loser. Bulgarian authorities have up till now wisely kept mum over this incident, because they clearly know who the perpetrators are. And there goes the US cowboy, sticking his nose into other a foreign country's legal matters.

Of course, if some may remember, on May 6, 2002 United States Under Secretary of State John R. Bolton gave a speech entitled "Beyond the Axis of Evil". In it he added three more nations to be grouped with the already mentioned "rogue states": Libya, Syria, and Cuba. I guess that explains for all these ridiculous demands.

Another thing that one might note is that along with the five nurses, a Palestinian doctor was also charged for the same offences. Bush never mentioned the doctor. Nice political bias there, asshole.

Also, in January 2005, the incoming Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, made a speech regarding the newly termed "Outposts of tyranny", a list of six countries deemed most dangerous and anti-American. This included the two remaining "Axis" members, as well as Cuba, Belarus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.

Outposts of tyranny? Gee. That sounds mature. I bet that's what Bush called those classmates of his who refused to play with him in elementary school.

A man with definitely too much time on his hands.

But let's not just criticize foreign leaders. Bringing the situation closer to home, Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong recently announced that the Public Transport Council (PTC) now has the authority to impose fines of up to $500 for fare cheats, yet reassured over hapless errors that might be committed by a careless passenger.

Ok, first of all, all repeated calls from the public for bus operators to publicly disclose their earnings from all their over-charged fares which have gone unclaimed have all fallen on deaf ears. With the public already at the losing end each time someone decides not to go through ridiculous lengthy processes to claim back 50 cents, we are now subject to further displays of the government's authoritative whims and fancies.

When certain MPs raised concerns that passengers might make a hapless error whilst traveling on the bus, Mr Yeo said that the difference between an hapless error and evading fares is clear. For example, tapping out early one's ez-link card. "If he's already tapped out, what is he doing on the bus?" he said.

Here's a very possible scenario. I'm about to alight at a bus stop which I'm unfamiliar of, and I think my bus stop is up ahead next. I press the bell and tap my ez-link card, only to realize when the bus pulls up to the bus stop that it isn't really the bus stop that I was meant to get off at.

So I stay on the bus for one or more stops till I've reached the correct one. A bus conductor comes on, and I get "caught". What then? I get the rule book thrown at me?

Mr Yeo probably drives to work everyday anyway. What would he know. Here's a suggestion: please put in more effort and make our buses disabled-friendly. TODAY reported that the government may come to a decision only "by the end of this year". Wow, that must a be one tough decision.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Guitar quote

Truly, one of my favorite quotes:

"A good guitar treats you better than any girlfriend. You can tune it the way you want, it's so much easier to pick up, and shuts up right away when you pull out the cable."

* * * * * * *

Here are a couple photos of a gig that I did at Esplanade over the mid-autumn festival weekend. I know it's really long ago, but I just got the photos recently.

Group photo after the show!


The performers. They speak Mandarin so well it's just plain intimidating.

But it was fun working with them, nevertheless. Oh, I caught The 40-Year-Old Virgin with Lingna & Evon yesterday. It was absolutely hilarious! Had a great time laughing my butt off during the show. They really made each lewd joke sound well-crafted. Extremely enjoyable.

Hmm, you think?


Every speed-dater's dream come true.


"Man, this Buddha-juice is great!"


Ouch! A painful sight, this definitely is.

Well, I'd better enjoy all the free time I have lazing around and playing games before daily rehearsals start next week. So that means I'm going back to gaming. Haha! Be right back... not!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bush's Mission

Only two days ago, a newspaper article appeared on the weekend copy of local tabloid Today (read article here), with US President Bush claiming that "he was on a mission from God" when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. What a bundle of inane crap. The last time I checked, Osama bin Laden was also on a mission from God when he launched 9/11. Now we have a problem, don't we?

Once cannot fathom how desperate a man can get when trying to cover for his own mistakes. Perhaps it was the all-time low popularity ratings that drove Bush to come up with his own "jihad" warcry, but whatever the case is, it will not work.

Can you believe preposterous words the most powerful man in the world is spewing? A mission from God? Incredible, let's see what he says when Saddam uses this same logic at the War Crimes Tribunal. Iraq has never been a more unsafe place since America's religiously-driven invasion. Here are some news which, in proving George Bush's point, show how Iraq is safer without Saddam.

30 Marines, Sailor Die In Copter Crash in Iraq
WashingtonPost.com - January 27, 2005

100,000 Civilians Died Because of Iraq War, Hopkins Study Says
Bloomberg.com - October 28, 2004

Suicide Boat Bombers Attack Key Iraqi Oil Terminal
SABCnews.com - April 25, 2004

Cluster Bombs Kill In Iraq, Even After Shooting Ends
USATODAY - December 16, 2003

And this one's the real cherry. Apparently all the billions of dollars poured into training the US military can't enable their soldiers, each decked out in equipment equivalent to the cost needed to feed an entire town in Iraq, to tell the difference between an insurgent carrying an RPG and a civilian cameraman carrying a camera. Great job, Uncle Sam.

US Troops Shoot Dead Reuters Cameraman In Iraq
China Daily - August 18, 2003

But of course, just one example of their incompetence is insufficient, here's one more.

Jittery U.S. Soldiers Firing In The Dark Kill Six Iraqis Trying To Get Home Before Curfew
SignOnSanDiego.com News - August 10, 2003

And the endless list goes on. Don't forget the daily suicide bombings going on in Iraq, causing in countless civilian deaths. These news have become so commonplace even the local papers just publish them in small, obscure little corners.

So, who would make a better president for the United States: Bush or a box of Tic-Tacs? Here's an objective analysis, completely credible, which clearly shows the winner.

Now isn't this funny. Or ironic, whichever you'd prefer.

A religious zealot going to war on claims like this makes him no difference from the very Islamic jihadists who launch terror strikes on innocent targets. Great job, Bush. Screw this whole matter up, then take it to God. You're gonna be in big trouble this time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Deferment granted!

It's official! The call just came in this afternoon, I've been granted deferment for me to do Snow Queen. Which is good! Rehearsals start next week, so please do come watch. Not the rehearsals, but the show itself.

More information available here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

6/1 Gathering

It's six in the morning on a Monday now, but thank god the only thing that's on my to-do list next is to go to bed, and not out to work. Just finished a most satisfying overnight gaming session.

The weekend's over, and it was a pretty good one at that. We had our 6/1 primary school class gathering on Saturday evening... Well, only 8 of us turned up at our meeting point at Suntec City, but it was good enough! Ironically enough, during dinner we sat around talking about all our primary school classmates, and started wondering how come we forgot to invite them when some of us had their contact numbers all along. Not too smart there, eh?

Our grandiose plans to have dinner at somewhere fancier like NYDC or Fish & Co. were shattered by the staggering weekend dinner crowds, so we decided to retreat to somewhere more quiet. Pastamania had the required number of tables and chairs so we decided to settle for that.

After that Weibin had to leave and meet his friends (although we all speculated that he went to meet his girlfriend instead), and Joneson joined us before we headed to Blue Note. Here are some photos taken at Suntec & Blue Note.

All smiles at the dinner table!


See everyone's hair? It's all NS-standard short except mine. Damn.

Oh, speaking of this, Weibin and the rest are all ORD-ing in four to five months, and here I am still waiting for news of further possible deferment. Haha... Man, I'm slow ain't I. CMPB was supposed to call me last week to tell me if my deferment application was successful or not, but I received no word. Guess I'll have to call them myself today and find out!

Evon, Yiling, Lingna & me.


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes... at Blue Note.


After that, we headed a few doors down to this club called Desire. But it turned out to be boring with a damn big capital 'B'. Please stay away from that crappy place at all costs.

Well, I was getting hungry anyway so Evon & I decided to head out first and get some food at the nearby coffeeshop for some overpriced Hokkien mee to end the night. Anyway, for our next "programme", we're planning to go KTV-ing this coming Sunday morning, so hopefully that works out!

Last night I met up with Lingna for coffee to collect my camera 'cos I accidentally left it with her on Saturday. Poor her, she went all the way down to town to buy her coveted Zara top only to come back empty-handed becuase they were out of stock. Well, nobody wants to wear an over-bought top anyway, right anot, Lingna? :p

Alright, I'm so ready to sleep. Then wake up at watch the final 3 episodes of Alias that I've left. If you're reading this at your office on a Monday morning, you have my sympathies. Hehe. Au revoir!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Just a little something funny to brighten up your day. Enjoy!

* * * * * * *

A new Army Captain was assigned to an outfit in a rather remote North Africa outpost. During his first inspection of the camp, he notices a camel hitched up behind the mess tent. He asks the Sergeant why the camel is kept there. The nervous sergeant says, "Well Sir, as you know, there are 250 men here on the post, and no women. And sir, sometimes the men have 'urges'. That's why we have the camel. The Captain says, "I can't say that I condone this, but I understand about urges, so the camel can stay."

After about a month the Captain starts having some very strong urges himself. After holding off as long as he can, he finally tells the Sergeant to bring the camel and a ladder around to his tent. Asking the Sergeant to set up the ladder behind the camel and hold it steady for him, he climbs the ladder, drops his pants, and has an amazingly wild shag with the camel.

When he's done, he asks the Sergeant, "Is that how the men do it?". The sergeant replies, "Well.... No, Sir, not exactly, Sir...... They usually just ride the camel into the nearby little town where all the women are."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Table-hogging!

It's now the time of the year where students scurry home in fervent anxiety to study for their dreaded nemesis -- exams. Well, not quite. Some students have chosen to, instead, head for their nearest 24-hour fast food outlet to carry out their mugging instead.

Yes, I'm talking about all the McDonald's outlets that have wizened-up and decided that opening their doors 24/7 brings in more money, since they're already paying so little to their staff to start off with. More of the students' money, that is.

But before I start criticizing uncontrollably about the detrimental, parasitical fast-food culture that is McDonald's, my bone of contention today is with something else. Ok, first of all, to be fair I will admit that in my heyday I have been to a number of McDonald's outlet or two for some fervent mugging.

But today's scene is quite different, really. Enormous groups of students hogging tables at McDonald's, with their books askew, empty cups of Coca-Cola strewn across the table, some voices loudly raised, while some even decided to have a "physical" study break by launching into a game of catching right in the restaurant.

Sitting quietly to study in a corner, be it alone or in a group, is perfectly fine. Hogging tables for hours at an end (believe me, the same people can still be spotted at 3am), playing catching or cackling loudly at some girly joke is NOT the way to go.

This is what I happen to spot at the McDonald's in Sun Plaza today during dinner-time:

Not too considerate eh? But that's what happens on a daily basis. Talk about civic-mindedness. So no one's sitting there (and nobody did for a long time, I observed), but apparently nowadays seats in McDonald's have become more highly sought after than front row seats in a Celine Dion concert.

So, do it the kiasu Singaporean way and put your bags on 'em, of course!

Well, it wouldn't be completely true if I said I didn't sympathize them completely; the NLB has severely restricted students from studying in libraries (only because they hog tables and make too much noise), and there isn't much of a place where students can study as a group in air-conditioned comfort. Thinking back, I didn't study much so I never really thought about this issue. (Haha!) But I sure do hope someone up there and steps up this problem, because it definitely cannot continue.

My friend even commented, "This area is becoming more and more like a school canteen". I couldn't agree more.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Aliasathon

I've been having my own "Aliasathon" over the past few days, and it has been good! So far I've covered 12 episodes in 4 days, and I'm nearly halfway through Season 4. Good stuff! Otherwise I haven't been doing much; watching DVDs, playing Xenosaga I, indulging in gluttony. Haha!

Tomorrow I have an interview at CMPB regarding my deferment. So troublesome, huh! But I know if it all works out then it'll be worth it. If it DOES work out, that is. It'd better!

I'll be meeting Ling tomorrow to catch Dukes of Hazzard. Hope it's good as it seems; I'm not a Jessica Simpson fan and honestly, I think she's too damn ditzy. Heh heh! I'm surprised Singapore hasn't started showing Flightplan yet, and I've already watched it in Genting. A superrific show, that one is!

Wish me luck for my interview tomorrow!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Back from Genting & KL

Phew, it's been a week since my last post. I've just got back from Genting & KL yesterday, and it was a blast! Genting was especially relaxing... I practically didn't do much everyday except eat, have coffee twice a day, watched a movie (Flight Plan, which was extremely good), shop, blah blah blah... We didn't even go for the outdoor theme park but we had a very good time!

Also we were put up in the new wing of First World Hotel. They just built a new tower (Tower 2), which is slightly better than the old and rather gaudy Tower 1. Hehe. Now it claims to be the biggest hotel in the world with 6,300 rooms! We jokingly termed it Third World Hotel because we had to wait around the lobby for hours before we could check in.

A pity though, was the weather: It was extremely foggy in Genting. Of all my yearly trips up to Genting, this was the foggiest weather I've seen.

Genting -- You could hardly see a thing.

The last time I went to KL was actually in '03, so I was abit unfamiliar with the place when I first arrived. Shopping was a blast, though! I also got the box set for the entire season 4 of Alias! Which is considered pretty amazing, if you know why.

Got a ton of stuff from SEED & Padini, which carry really nice stuff. Just about the best clothing brand in Malaysia. There were times we wanted to check out the local night scene but it rained every night, so we chose to chill out back in our hostel instead.

Also, I was hoping to meet up with Faizal (I met him in NZ) but he was too caught up with work, so it didn't fall through. He'll be coming to Singapore this month though, for work, so hopefully we can meet up.

I also got a couple of good books at the extremely huge Borders at Berjaya Times Square. Their Borders is so much more well-stocked and bigger than Singapore's Borders. And it's not half as crowded, so I had a good time lounging in armchairs browsing through gaming mags! I've covered one of the books I'm currently reading in the ME section, so do check it out.

Here are some shots of the view from the rooftop terrace of our hostel (Pondok Lodge, Jln Changat Bukit Bintang). Nice place.





Well, it's back to work, work, work now that I've returned. I was supposed to call MINDEF today but I totally forgot, damn. SRT wrote in to CMPB to differ my NS for Snow Queen, and I was told to call this lady for a phone interview. Tried calling yesterday evening when I got back but no one answered, and I totally forgot to call today. Stupid me. I hope this doesn't hurt my chances.

Went for Viva Mex rehearsal at the French School this morning. It was nice to see some familiar faces who did the musical last year. Plenty of eye candy there, hehe. Then had to teach in the afternoon, and caught up on the season premiere of The Amazing Race Family Edition on tape.

Ok, then I slept. Till now. Meeting Lingna, Fara & Hidayah later for coffee downstairs! Ta!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

LCCS Flag Day

Ok, I know this sounds pretty absurd but I actually sold flags this morning! Wow! Haha... No kidding! The last time I did it was in Primary 5 man, so that's a pretty long time ago.

Anyway this time we had a flag day for my church's LCCS. It's a community service provider for student care. Ok anyway I won't bore you with the details, but oh boy, it sure was a tiring experience to stand at one corner and attempt to squeeze coins out of stranger for three and a half hours!

The very ironic thing was I usually have a certain "fear" for people looking out to exchange stickers for coins, but this very morning I became one of "them". Well, I tried to really nice about it, really! I did! But it was rather interesting to see the reactions of different people, ranging from the ice queen response to the "Sorry I don't have coins" one-liner. Right, you don't have coins when you just stepped out of a cab??

Haha! Ok, but anyway, I've actually picked up a few tips on how to politely refuse to throw a few coins into a bag. Usually it's a polite smile and a quick wave of the hand that seems to work best. Heh heh! So here's a tip for those of you who avoid flag collectors like the plague.

So I was doing fine for the first two hours; human traffic was pretty good and some were pretty willing to chip in for charity. Then, this elderly auntie suddenly materialized at my left, carrying a plastic bag of tissue paper and selling the three at the standard "market rate" of $1.

Ok, that doesn't look very good, does it... A young man trying to snatch business from an old auntie. That just didn't look good, so I moved further down. Oh I was stationed at Bishan bus interchange by the way, near the kiosk which sells newspapers. Then, ten minutes later, a gang of pretty young office ladies started infiltrating my area. No prizes for guessing where they are from... I'd say either Citibank or AIA. Haha!

Well, they were -rather- distracting. Plus they kept haggling on to people (or rather, men) and not letting go, so I had no choice to but move again. Well, slowly but surely tiredness set in and after three and a half hours I was ready to pack up.

For most of that time I was pretty spontaneous, greeting and approaching people for donations. Perhaps I was too enthusiastic for my own good, so the next time round (if there IS a next time round) I'll be adopting the soft, statue-like approach.

Anyway, when I was back home in the afternoon it was back to the blah teaching routine (well I didn't teach last Saturday cos I had a show at Esplanade), then slept again 'cos I woke up really early. Well, remember, I'm back to my 5am to 1pm sleeping routine!

I'm leaving for Genting & KL tomorrow night, and I have absolutely NOT packed yet. I haven't even arranged with Engie where and what time to meet. So much for being prepared, eh. I hope I can find my passport!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Reprise...

Five minutes to five in the morning, and there's absolutely no one on my MSN list online. Well, those that are are on Away... Not too entertaining, huh!

Spent the entire day watching LOST episodes (I'm all the way till episode 19!), playing Advance Wars: DS and Geist. Yup, catching up on gaming now! Pretty fruitful, eh? Haha...

Gonna hit the sack soon. Yikes, I'm falling into my 5am to 1pm sleeping routine... again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Quills

What was supposed to be a short trip down to SRT to collect something turned out to be a long, fruitful day yesterday. After I was done at SRT I met with Engie in town for lunch, and we had Japanese at this quaint little place in Far East square. Recommended! Food was pretty damn good!

After that, we then proceeded to carry out some retail therapy for ourselves, and helped ourselves to a few more calories (actually it's more than just "a few more") through a dessert "break" at Baker's Inn. Most satisfying.

Oh, and I also found (by chance) and bought Mindi Abair's new CD! Ok, well, it's released in 2004 but it only hit Singapore shelves recently. I've reviewed it in the "ME" section so do check it out, she's really awesome. Young and talented musician, she definitely is!

Looking good on her album cover!

Later in the evening I went to watch luna-id's latest production, Quills, with Aik Wee. My friend Darren Ng was doing sound design and trusty Engie doing wardrobe. To be honest I enjoyed the play much more than I thought I would. Really noteworthy was the set design (amazing stuff, really), as well as Rehaan engineer & Lim Kay Tong's performances.

Darren also did some good stuff on the tablas (which were performed live). I never knew music could sound so good in SRT. The last time I had my Ocean Butterflies "graduation" concert we had nightmares with the sound system.

Samantha Scott-Blackhall scored yet another winner this time round, though I must admit I was more wowed over by her previous direction, One-Sided Wall. Script-wise, however, Quills provides for engaging 2-and-a-half hours of entertainment and macabre humor.

Of course, who wouldn't be attracted by the dark tales of The Marquis de Sade?

"Yes! Primal desire -- that's unchanging! Every man from Paris to China feels the same urgent stirring in his loins."
- The Marquis

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Sound of Thunder

A Sound Of Thunder. I'm sure many of you must have started to take notice of this newly-released film, starring Ben Kingsley and Edward Burns. Yet, what exactly is the sound of thunder? If this movie is any indication then it's the sound of moviegoers thundering towards the exit, demanding their money back. Yes, the movie is that bad.

If the term nightmarish is any sort of indication, then that term would be pretty close. Yet before I continue my rant, I must come clean and say that the concept of this movie is good, and Ray Bradbury's short story (of which this movie is loosely based upon) was a good one.

Yet, it's only solid concept that the filmmakers went the furthest. This movie is so bad that Ray Bradbury might as well wish he could invent a time machine so that he could go back in time and NOT write the short story, thus preventing this movie from ever being made.

Five minutes into the show we're introduced to an absolutely ghastly looking dinosaur who probably feels pretty lousy that his cousins from Jurassic Park (made in 1993, mind you) look so much better than him. That's gotta be bad. Ok, then lets talk about the horrible green screens. Which are the background CGI shots of 2055 Chicago City.

Green screens are just about the most basic thing in the world of CGI effects. Even the CNN live weather channel has a better looking weather map of Afghanistan than this movie. But no, the actors here look like they are walking on a treadmill with zero depth from the background and themselves. Don't forget the "futuristic" cars, which look like they were designed by a 2 year old with a Lego set.

That's how bad the green screens were. It really makes one think where did the $80 million production cost went. $80 million, mind you. That's about S$134.5 million. As mentioned earlier, I actually like the concept of the movie - the butterfly effect - the theory that something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings can produce long-term effects on a dynamical system.

But all these were marred by absolutely horrific CGI effects, unconvincing sets and really low-quality props. I nearly laughed when the liquid nitrogen guns first appeared on screen; they looked like a supersized toy gun you can pick up at your local pasar malam. And what bothered me also is it doesn't care to explain why killing one butterfly resulted in the world being taken over by horribly rendered CGI creatures.

The script also drags all the clich├ęs out and leaves the actors to cover them. There is the greedy CEO, the disillusioned scientist, the noble hero, loyal sidekick and even a corrupt official. Yet, how Academy Award Winner Ben Kingsley ended up as part of the production is still baffling me. And laughably, the movie goes so far as to sacrifice the only major African-American character as a distraction to hungry monsters so the white people can run for their lives.

Add all these up, and you have just about the cheesiest film of the year!

Dinosaur-hunting with futuristic-looking Super Soakers.


"So, what do you say? Like my new poofy white wig?"


"Damn! I still can't find that pair with the dog poo stuck beneath!"


I recall the days where PlayStation 1 cutscenes looked better.


Great job guys, it's the year 2055 and your hi-tech guns still don't have attached flashlights.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rev Controller!

Indeed, revolutionary times are just round the corner. Nintendo just revealed the controller which will be used for their next-gen console, the Revolution. And this time round, they're making sure everything that goes along with it is revolutionary.

Looking like just a simple remote control is only the surface. Peel off it's layer and one will discover it's rather unique functionality.

The controller for Nintendo's upcoming Revolution home console system is a cordless remote-control-like device designed to be used with only one hand. Two small sensors placed near the TV and a chip inside the controller track its position and orientation, allowing the player to manipulate the action on screen by physically moving the controller itself.

For example, you could slash an in-game sword by actually swinging the controller from side to side, turn a race car just by twisting your wrist, or aim your gun in a shooter by pointing the controller where you want to fire.

Now that's real innovation, suited for the next generation of revolutionary consoles. Nintendo has always made itself clear that it doesn't want to follow the paths of Microsoft & Sony, and this time they've really dealt their hand of good cards.

The Rev controller also comes with an "add-on" component, the analog left stick. Fans of FPS games will be intrigued to how this works: the analog stick controls movement, but instead of holding down a button to look around, you simply point the other controller in the direction you want to aim.

Exciting times, eh? And here's the best part: the Rev is completely compatible with the standard GameCube controller for older and not-so-old games. Just stick one into the Rev set and you're good to go.

In these fast-paced times of gaming technology, two words that really stand out and appeal to gamers are: backward compatibility. And it's because of this that the Xbox 360 will crash and burn in time to come. The PS3 will be able to play games all the way back to PS1, and the Rev will have online functionality to download games all the way back from the NES era.

Perhaps Nintendo has really struck gold this time. We can only wait and see...

Nintendo's next-generation console: The Revolution.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

MRT Jitters...

Some folks seem to have a real talent. Only some, not all. Yet, this talent can be found in varying lengths, from young to old, both men and women. How this talent is acquired still remains unknown, though.

The talent for being able to stand right in front of MRT doors despite two, huge yellow lines and three pretty damn big arrows plastered on the floor for every single entry/exit point. Incredible, isn't it?

Common courteous behavior would generally incline towards letting people off before boarding the train; common sense would tell you that. Nevermind, SMRT is nice enough to draw arrows and lines on the floor for us, yet some people are thick enough to just blatantly ignore these "directions".

Take him for example.

He pretends that the yellow lines and arrows on the floor aren't obvious enough because he's busy focusing his eyes on the small characters of his newspaper. What an original idea. Guess he must be pretty desperate for a seat.

But lets not stereotype these uncles and aunties as "seat-grabbers". Take a look below.

A young, sophisticated-looking lady! Desperately vying to enter first, so much so that she has to "distract" herself by reading a book, then in a very "blur" manner, position herself right in the middle of the door! You can't get any more obvious than that, I assure you.

Let me not start on how nobody seems to even care about standing to one side of the escalator to let people who are in a hurry pass. Everyone has this terrible mentality that since no one does it, why should I. Interestingly, commuters at stations like Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place seem to stick to the keep-left rule more often. Guess they really do spare a thought, since fellow office workers need to rush past them least they get fired for being late.

Unfortunately this courtesy never seems to be extended at Sembawang, where I live. SMRT has had its best intentions when they launched courtesy campaigns and drives like these, but unfortunately I'm sure a lot of people agree that it has been quite the failure.

So remember, the next time you decide to utilize our modern and efficient metro system, please keep to the left (for crying out loud)! You don't really need to hold hands with your significant other on the escalator and block everyone else, right??

And please, please, don't block the entry/exit points. I always use a good strategy to counter people like these, so if you're a responsible metro user then please feel free to adopt. Everytime you're about to get off the train and you see someone standing right in the middle, exit really slowly. Take your time. Put a little frown on your face as a reaction to the person blocking you in front.

Slowly weave your way out so that others at the right and left of that inconsiderate person will be able to move in first, and the person who blocked you will likely end up last to enter. It's a solid plan, ain't it?

I've been to the subways of Beijing, Bangkok and KL, and commuters there aren't as ugly as some of us fellow Singaporeans. So why should we be?

Oh, by the way, there's Going To Extremes tonight on the National Geographic Channel (Ch11), 11pm. Don't miss it! :)

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Snow Queen

Working with Dick Lee is always an inspiring journey through and through. Today was the last day of the SRT workshop and it has been a wonderful learning experience for me.

I first worked with Dick Lee three years ago during the annual National Day concert at Esplanade, and again the next year. During this workshop, however, I managed to work closer and witness first-hand some spendid stuff: whenever there was a need for a music cue or sound design, Dick just needed to be on the keyboard to come up with something fantastic on the spot.

His ideas have really been a learning point for me in terms of composing and working with a pre-written melody. Also, I've managed to gain a few insights and tricks in terms of sound designing for musicals which I'm sure will come in handy in the future. Tips from the composer for Forbidden City and Snow.Wolf.Lake oughtta be good!

Everything was a very creative process and it was just fun to watch and learn how quick a song can be churned out from just playing around. Darren Ng did a fabulous job with the music as well, and this time round he has really influenced me with his stylistic "dissonant" compositions. Now major sevenths, diminished eights and minor seconds are quickly becoming my best friend.

The Snow Queen runs in Nov, and Tracy has asked if I'd like to play for the show. I would really hope to play, so she's offered to get someone to write in to MINDEF and see if I can differ my NS for the show. Hope that works out. If that bloke managed to get differed to play video games at WCG, I'm sure my case is possible! Fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mongolian Recollections 2

There's this absolutely smashing travel documentary, it shows every Wednesday at 11pm on National Geographic (Ch 11). Titled Going To Extremes, it's a travel show that chronicles the adventures of Oxford geography teacher, Nick Middleton. At each destination he pushes the limits of adventure and reaps really wonderful experiences.

Tonight was the start of a four part installment which covers the Silk Routes, and today's episode was particularly on the Gobi reigon. To be honest, ever since I returned from Mongolia, I've been pretty fascinated by everything Gobi, from the Altai mountains to Przhevalski horses.

Scenes where Nick stayed in a guest ger whilst in the Altai Gobi (which is in Mongolia) brought back fond memories: sitting in a circle in a ger having a wild meal, that essential stove in the middle of a ger, juggling a hot stone between hand to hand before eating (the hot stones were used to cook the meat).

Outdoor sleeping in the Gobi at -25 degrees C consisted of building a campfire, throwing stones inside, then fishing the stones out and arrange a bed of sand on top to form a makeshift warm and toasty bed. Ingenious, isn't it!

Nick also explored other parts of the Gobi, travessed through underwater cave streams, climbed 350m tall sand dunes and got drunk on homemade Chinese wine. Just the sort of travels I'd love to do... In time to come... :) Next week's episode is on Nepal, so stay tuned! You should really consider checking it out if you have National Geographic on cable.

More information can be found here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bimmer

Haven't had to chance to update for abit... Been rather busy for the past few days. Right now I'm doing an SRT workshop for musical theatre, but I'm just the workshop pianist lah. Haha! SRT pays well, so whenever anyone lands a gig with them there are no complaints.

We're working on a freshly-written musical with some pretty funky music by Darren Ng. All his dissonant style of writing is really influencing me now... I'm coming up with music cues that sound dissonant myself! Some people from Young Co. were at the workshop; and one of them recognized me as Mariel's ex-squeeze. Not something I would prefer... So unglamourous!

We're going to have a open-door review on the last day (Friday), so till then I just have to sit there and get stressed out by Dick Lee as he attempts to confuse me with as many music cues he can insert as possible.

Over last weekend I rented a DVD titled Bimmer. It's a Russian mob flick, but a VERY good Russian mob flick. I ever read fleeting reviews of it in the papers some time ago as part of the coverage of some film festival, and it turned out to be pretty entertaining.

The movie was directed in a Tarantino-esque manner, but only Russian style. Raw violence (but not over the top), gritty scenes and corrupt cops paint a very stark and realistic scene of today's Moscow and the surrounding area, which is where the film is set in.

The story talks about a band of four young Russian men who carjack for a living. When one of them accidentally kills an undercover fed, they are forced into hiding using their latest loot as transport, a BMW 7-series. Bimmer is slang for a BMW in Russian. It then chronicles their harrowing brushes with dysfunctional law enforcers, street gangs and truckers.

In the end they plan for a final heist, which goes all awry, when it never occured to them to sell their most treasure possession in the first place: their Bimmer. Which is what the cops were looking for in the first place.

I found the DVD in some forlorn, pitiful rental shelf at the store, so it must more of a stroke of luck. Ok, I know all the movies that I've "featured" on my blog recently got positive feedback, but trust me, I watched Herbie last week and it was pretty so-so, I didn't bother featuring it on my blog.

Alright, it's not that horrible, but I guess possessed cars aren't really my thing. Haha! Some stills from Bimmer:

"Quick! Get him out of the car before his blood stains the leather!"


"Punk! You crossed the line when you mistook my BMW for a Honda!!"

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Chilly Sauce

And today I chanced upon yet another striking example on how the English standard in Singapore is on a steady decline. This evening, whilst picking nectarines from the fruit section at Sun Plaza's NTUC, I chanced upon this packaged box with two words (and the NTUC FairPrice logo) displayed on the side.

Yeah, they probably figured that the airconditioning within the supermarket is so excessively cold sometimes that some of their sauces started to feel chilly. A haunting thought, isn't it. Someone needs to proofread their boxes, I can be the first employee. Really.

So anyway, yesterday I met up with Ling and we went to the very ulu Sembawang Shopping Centre for lunch at Pizza Hut. She figured the $5.95 student deal was too good to miss, and so did I, so we went for it. It works out to about $7 per person plus taxes (just remember to bring your student card), which is actually cheaper than a decent plate of pasta at Pastamania. Grab it while the offer lasts!

I've been trying in vain to get my grubby hands on a BradyGames guide for Xenosaga Ep I (not II), but so far Kinokuniya, Borders and POPULAR at Northpoint have proved unsuccessful. I don't even know why I thought POPULAR would carry it. If anyone has an old copy that they're looking to sell off, please let me know. Thanks! No one seems to care about the older games anymore...

Chilly sauce, anyone?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Staying awake...

Mmmh... Didn't sleep at all last night. Not that I'm trying to play hero or anything, but I figured that the only way to stop myself from waking up at 2pm everyday is to not sleep, then get so tired that I fall back into my night-time sleeping routine. Hope this works.

I've begun the arduous task of defragging my laptop 'cos it has become ridiculously slow over the past few days. Despite not having the required 15% of free disk space for the Defragmenter to "function efficiently" (I only managed to free up to 11%), I hope this speeds my laptop, if only just a little.

Meanwhile the rest of the night was spent wasting my life playing Ghost Recon 2, which turned out to be pretty entertaining. Hehe. Ok, gotta go take a cold shower before I close my eyes. Need to go to LaSalle-SIA and collect my cert, 'cos they cleverly misspelled my name on the original. Smart.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Assault On Precinct 13

So anyway, last friday I rented the Assault on Precinct 13 DVD, and by golly, it was an absolutely great film! I can't believe I actually allowed myself to miss it twice; once in the cinemas and another time on the plane to NZ. Well, I haven't seen the John Carpenter original so I won't draw any comparisons to that, but by itself it stands out as a very well-written film, with a tight script, decent cinematography and excellent action sequences.

Laurence Fishburne still exudes charm in all the bad-boy ways, and Ethan Hawke shines as usual with his protaganistic, sentimental character. His character from Training Day kept popping up in mind throughout the show, and there are indeed some subtle similarities in both characters.

The DVD's out now in uncut format, compared to the censored version they screened in theatres, so it's a good deal and highly recommended.

"Damn cops, always messing with a hard working drug kingpin."


Attack of the Gun-toting Snowmen.


"Damn, I sure could use a smoke about now."


"So, is all of you as big as your gun there?"

Monday, August 29, 2005

Choir BBQ

It's up! I've uploaded the choir BBQ photos onto an online album, which can be found here.

Had a pretty lousy day today... Slept at 4am last night, woke up the next day at 2pm for lunch then went back to sleep till 6pm. I'm becoming noctournal! Boring. Here are some photos from the BBQ. It was an absolutely fun gathering! When's the next one??

Daphne & her own vegetarian mini BBQ pit. Hehe... Cute!


Valerie the professional BBQ-er.


The three musketeers: Siob, Wong & Ngaim, gazing out into the sea. They need beautiful views to make them gossip better. :p Or do they...?


Ah... That's how they look like from the front.


That's Evette knee-deep in sand.


And how can we miss the song presentation part for their dear instructor? Haha... Thanks guys, that was really sweet. Love you all!