Thursday, December 11, 2008
Admittedly though, I really do miss life here -- the food, the people, the familiar faces, the familiar streets and basically just familiarity in general. Well, no time to harp on it, best to get out there and enjoy as much as I possibly can while I still can! So, picking up from where I last left off -- I was writing about the London Jazz Festival. Well, that does seem like a distant memory now, but still pretty unforgettable! Indeed, it was such an honor to be sharing the same stage as other established jazz bands like the Neil Cowley Trio and the Kit Downes Trio.
These people really epitomise what a young jazz talent is supposed to be -- Kit Downes is still a student at RAM! The amount of jazz talent in London is astounding, to be honest. And most, if not all of them, are young upstarts with a fiery passion for music and consummate skill to boot! I can confidently say that if you take a pebble and throw it towards the direction of the stage of any established jazz club in London, you'll probably hit an instrumentalist that is better than any locally-trained and bred jazz musician in the entire of Singapore. (Read: locally-trained and bred.)
Anyhow, getting to do one set with Tyler Rix and the rest of the trio was really enjoyable, and definitely a gig that I'll fondly recollect in years to come. In other more uplifting news, I've managed to find a piano teaching job in London. The pay's pretty decent, and I start next term. What would be nice though would be to land more gigs -- not even the regular sort, just one-off gigs here and there at the bigger clubs would be nice! Well, I'm sure most people will agree, London's not a place for opportunities to come your way -- you have to go out there and hunt like mad for your own slice of the pie.
In even better news, I was informed during my term-end tutorial on the last week of my term that I've been granted a year's advanced standing for my course (apparently due to stellar performance). Which is indeed very good news! That means I don't have to complete the remainder of my PGDip year that I've been originally doing, and from next term onwards I'll be following through with the MMus course itself. Which means my entire length of course is shortened by one year, from three to two. I guess the biggest implication now would be that I pay significantly less fees, which is what I'm most glad about!
The last week of my term, however, was not all smooth sailing -- I got struck with a chest infection (bronchitis, apparently) a few days before I was due to return back to Singapore. What started out as a running temperature turned out into a 39.5 deg Celsius fever and acute bronchitis within two days. By the second day I was so deliriously ill I checked myself into the A&E ward at University College Hospital. So there you have it, my first term in London and I've already benefited from their infamous NHS coverage. Which is simply great when you're a broke student desperate for some proper antibiotics! Thankfully the treatment and medication worked -- I was almost as good as new in two days and now I'm almost done with my course of antibiotics.
The last day of term was the Guildhall Festival, of which most of the folks in my postgrad course were involved. For the festival I performed with the (newly-formed) Guildhall Folk Ensemble, which was basically a very riotous, a very fun and a very energetic half-hour set. Admittedly, this term was my first proper encounter with folk music throughout my musical development and career, and I must say it has been most fun! Daphne came to watch as well, and she very kindly took some awesome photos of the show.
And the next thing I knew, I was hopping on a plane the next day for my return flight from Heathrow! The most unfortunate thing happened to me on this flight -- as I got this flight after changing it from another date, I was given the 'lowest priority' in terms of seat choice. Which basically means I couldn't choose my seat at all. Which also basically meant that I was guaranteed a damn lousy seat, which in this case was a window seat. The horrors! And, to exacerbate things, the two old fellas who sat on my right seemed to have failed kidneys -- they almost never went to the toilets at all during the entire 13-hour flight!
I tried getting some sleep but all I could think was the impending bursting of my bladder. So in the end I stayed up and distracted myself with some inflight entertainment, in the form of these four movies: Hellboy II, Tropic Thunder, Meet Dave and the docu-film Where In The World Is Osama bin Laden. Tropic Thunder was such a hilarious film, and I actually caught myself laughing out loud a couple times on the plane! Robert Downey Jr. is spectacular with his role as Kirk Lazarus; apparently his role was created as a way of lampooning the great lengths that some method actors will go to depict a role. I'm sure those who've watched the movie will know what I'm talking about!
Once I landed it was then a mad rush to Raffles Town Club for a wedding gig! Yes, I really miss doing those so much I couldn't say no to Ginny when she offered me one just two days before I returned. Monday night was actually Ginny and Edmund's wedding, of which I had the pleasure to attend. It was so good seeing familiar faces again, such as Jon Lim, Kewei (and Ke-mei!), Ein Ein, Zheng Quan, Chanel, Alfredo and of course Ginny and Edmund themselves. Congratulations to the both you! Her wedding was nothing short of a musical extravaganza, where all her friends (including myself!) went up and took turns performing a couple numbers onstage for some enthralling all-night long musical entertainment!
After the wedding, Jo and I went over to Thumper to meet her friends Darelle and Dennis for some post-dinner beers. I actually do miss those pints of Heineken served in your standard Heineken pint glass! Strangely enough, they don't seem to have those in London. The next day was back to the airport for me -- but no, I wasn't going anywhere else! I went to pick Foi up who flew in from Switzerland and will be staying here for about a week or so. It's so good to have that girl around!!
We then wasted no time that night and headed out went for drinks; I also asked the boys out for some drunken debauchery at the sorely-missed Cuscaden Patio. Towards the end of the night it was a rowdy crowd of us consisting of Vannie, Junsheng, Albert, Dennis, Tony (and his new girlfriend Lisa!), Jo, Foi, and her friends Nicky and Citra. Now you see why I miss Singapore so much -- the familiar gang was really such a joy to hang out with! And of course, it's always so hard to deny $10 jugs of beer on those miserable Tuesday nights. After Cuscaden, we went over to Balestier where I finally had my first go at the dish that I've missed so much back in London -- bak kut teh! The feeling of having the soup envelope your taste buds is pretty indescribable, I must say.
So yes, apart from all those errands that I've been busy running, I've also tried to maximize time and meet up with friends as much as I can -- I really don't know when's the next time I'll be back! Yesterday I met up with Pin-Ji (she didn't wear her sunnies!) for a arthouse flick outing. She's really a definitive source for all your up do date arthouse movies! We went to Plaza Singapura (god, I missed that place too!) and watched this Taiwanese rom-com music-drama film titled Cape No. 7. It turned out to be a very heartwarming and insightful movie for me. I usually enjoy movies which are completely written out of the normal predictable context, and usually these scripts come with some sort of insight into a lifestyle or culture which is relatively unknown to most people. In this case, it showcased the livelihoods and lifestyles (albeit in a slight comedic way) of the Taiwanese aboriginal people.
Well, that's pretty much a warp-up of all the ongoings since my last post -- which does happen to be quite a bit! In the meantime, I shall return to my long list of to-dos that I've managed to compile. That's if I don't get distracted by my Xbox 360 -- I've just finished Gears of War 2 (in a short span of one day!) and now I'm back to Infinite Undiscovery. Yes, I finally bought the strategy guide for it! Ah, choices, choices...
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Have to say though, apologies for truncating the video halfway. The camera toppled off my piano after some heavy key-banging towards the end of the sax solo! In more mundane midnight news, I actually managed to tidy up my table tonight. Kudos to me, I suppose. It's amazing how much trash you can accumulate in one short term. I was rifling through my stuff when I chanced upon the short but very sweet note which Foi wrote for me on my birthday in Switzerland. It definitely put a big smile on my face. I miss you, girl!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Well, of course, good surprises have to be planned, I gladly played wingman in this cunningly crafted visit by Foi. Dong-young (along with the rest) had completely no idea that Foi was coming, so as you can tell, when all was revealed I definitely couldn't miss the opportunity to get it on camera. And here it is: my award winning, 2-minute reunion video! Filled with mistimed appearance cues, moments of shock and my terribly asphyxiated laughing in the background, this is definitely a must-see. Also, I don't quite know if the song fits, or if the Korean title is accurate, but who cares. We're going for 100% tacky here!
Not bad, eh? I quite like it myself as well. Heh! Well, Foi managed to squeeze out a grand total of 5 days for her trip, which will be repaid very much in kind when Dong-young, In-woong and Lee head off to Geneva on 3 Dec without me! No thanks to my killer term-end performances lined up during the Guildhall festival on the 5th.
I've just finished watching the entire season of Firefly on DVD, along with the follow-up feature film Serenity. Lee lent me the boxset of Firefly, and I've been stuck on it for two weeks since. It started out as a Summer Glau obsession (she's in it), but now I've become quite the fan of the series as well as the movie itself. Firefly is basically a western sci-fi series, modeled and influenced by Western movie themes with a little bit of Star Wars-ish elements thrown in here and there.
Given the very likeable characters, a well-picked ensemble cast, great story arcs and impressive set designs, it's every bit of what a good TV series should be. Personally, I love the witty humor found in every episode. It's created and directed by TV genius Joss Whedon, also responsible for the Buffy and Angel series. He also wrote and directed Serenity, of which the film itself is a rare occurrence in the industry: a short-lived TV show continued as a major motion picture. Back in 2003, Firefly was cancelled after 11 of the 14 episodes went on air, mainly due to poor executive decisions by FOX and not screening the episodes in its intended order.
Still, it's never too late to pick up a DVD boxset (or turn to torrents!) and give it a watch. Okay, I'm stopping before I sound like a deranged fan. In other news, I'll be returning to Singapore in the 2nd week of December before heading off to Houston and Taos for Christmas, and Vegas for New Year's. I'm really sorry if I won't be able to keep any commitments I've made (Cindy, Evelyn and Titus especially!), but Christmas plans are really difficult to shift around. Also, my next term starts early (first week of Jan 09!) so that means it's back to the UK pronto. Still, please call me out for a beer when I'm back. I miss Cuscaden. And some (badly-needed) gigs.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The last weekend was completely tied down with a CPD training weekend course, with one more on the way this weekend. I had a great time though, and it was a great complement to the masters programme. Today was a day off from school, but I went down still for a rehearsal with Tyler Rix and the quartet for the London Jazz Festival. First gig in the UK, finally! That happens on the 22nd of this month.
Things are getting busier towards the end of the term, with the Guildhall Festival just round the corner. I was hoping to go back to Switzerland in the first week of December, but now I don't think I can make it, with the festival happening and all. I managed to meet up with Ben, Shoujie and John Chua for dinner and drinks a couple times over the last week; it was good meeting up with MDC folk again.
Ben's back to Manchester for now, but I'd love to visit one day. Still have yet to check out the Lake District, I've heard so much good things about it. Well, next year I suppose! For now it's back to gig hunting in Singapore, and job hunting here in London. I so need a damn job!!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Seriously, watch this. It's awesome.
If you want to watch an official Chum-Churum ad, click here. Theirs is only slightly better than ours by a very little bit because it features the absolutely gorgeous E Hyo-lee (이효리)!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
This weekend has been an absolute blast, thankfully. Joanne was in town on Saturday and we spent the entire day tramping around the city eating, walking, shopping, drinking, then eating again. I also went to The O2 for the first time to join her for the Body Worlds & The Mirror of Time exhibition. The first time I caught a Body Worlds exhibition was back in Singapore in 2003, so this time round I was glad to see that they had more new and intriguing stuff. They had plenty of real exhibits and human specimens denouncing the detrimental effects of smoking, so Jo and me were looking at each other ominously throughout most of the exhibition!
Hansel joined us for lunch at Kiasu, where we gorged on authentic tasting food at not-so-authentic prices, according to Hansel. To see what I really mean, click here. Yep. Still, it was most satisfying and we definitely scraped our plates clean. Jo took me to A&F for some all-American shopping as well. I didn't even know we had A&F in London until she showed me where! It's quite a sizable boutique store, though, so it'll be sure to satisfy. After dinner at dim t, we headed to Waterloo where Hansel joined us again for drinks and much more laughs for the rest of the night. He's such a talented fella! I can't remember the last time I had this much random fun in a day, really.
but nearby it simply looks like an oversized tent!
On Sunday I had a masterclass in school with Panamanian jazz maestro, Danilo Pérez. He really is such a musician with so much vision, someone who has a very clear sense of what his mission in life is. I think it's really important that, as a musician, you need to have a clear overview of what your mission is, and that was what he touched on most of the time during the masterclass. Of course, apart from being a great improviser, he was also very inspiring in terms of different ways of music interpretation, and how to approach it with a philosophical point of view so as to make it for engaging and fulfilling. It was a really beneficial masterclass, and I'm sure it's something I wouldn't have had the chance to experience back in Singapore.
I watched Quantum of Solace today, as sort of a spur-of-the-moment thing. Overall it wasn't too bad, but it did feel a tad lengthy at 106 minutes. I won't spoil the story either, but the ending seemed a bit hurried and rushed. I was, however, rather lost right after the Jack White and Alicia Keys opening theme song ended, as Quantum of Solace picks up right where Casino Royale ended, and I forgot most of the plot of the earlier film. There are less gadgety scenes in this movie, and definitely more cat-and-mouse chase sequences, making it feel alot like a film from the Bourne trilogy. So if you choose to catch Quantum, be sure to download Casino Royale or just wikipedia the plot for a refresher, unless you're just going in to watch Daniel Craig and his over-buffed body in a tux, or the gorgeous Olga Kurylenko.
Speaking of the Bourne trilogy, I recently downloaded all three movies again and watched them in reverse order, from the third to first. Thoroughly enjoyable; I'm a really big fan of the Bourne franchise. Even read the books and played the game! I hope the fourth film comes through. With Paul Greengrass directing, I'm sure it'll be great!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Just a quick question though: when it's that time of the year and everything is singing your happy birthday song, do you sing along? I remember singing "happy birthday to me" at Wala's onstage last year when I celebrated my birthday. I did it again this year, as you can see, because it felt weird not to sing and just stare at the cake!
Switzerland has been beautiful so far, but I haven't got much done since I got here except stay indoors and complete essays for Foi and her flat mates. Of course, I charge, though my rates are pretty cheap. The current going rate is 10 Fr. per 100 words, so a 2,500-word essay will only cost you 250 Fr.! It comes with complete in-text referencing and bibliography too. Not bad, eh? I've done a couple essays and editing work since I got here. Maybe I should just move here and set up an English tutoring business. Or open an English language school. Heh!
Still, we'll be heading out to other bits of Switzerland over the weekend, so that should be fun. Still have yet to pig out on cheese fondue and chocolates! Foi and I went down to Lausanne to pick Dong Young up earlier this morning. They're really the sweetest couple right now! I would go on how they were mollycoddling up to each other on the train in front of me, but I guess pictures would work better.
Oops, sorry, wrong photo for the last one! Alright now, that's just about enough. Winter's setting in now and it's getting pretty damn cold over here in Bulle. The elevation here is more than 700m above sea level, so as you can imagine it's rather chilly here! Still, it's definitely way better than London. The air is so fresh and crisp here you almost wish you could eat it.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I'm sitting at the airport lounge waiting for my flight to Geneva, where I'll be spending my birthday night there -- can't wait! Will post pictures up soon. Much love to all!
Edit: Notifications just went up to 77. Whoo! Bulle, Switzerland is awesome.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Indeed, this isn't the first time it happened; last week I was also carded (at the same Tesco's), and the dude behind the cashier who as a Black British also remarked in dismay how my race was printed on my IC. The first time it happened, I was rather nonchalant about it as everybody gets their race printed on their IC in Singapore. However, I did have quite a difficult time trying to explain to him that Singapore is a multi-racial country and we have four majority races in Singapore, hence we are distinguished from each race by having it printed on our IC.
I suppose to both the cashiers, they found that the act of printing one's race was an act of subjugation by the government, where racial labels like these have been applied to us for perhaps more sinister reasons. I can completely understand why they felt this way, though. If you think about it, having your race printed on a card seems to be parallel to how Nazis made Jews wear armbands during WWII, if only to segregate them from the rest of the community.
Having my race, Chinese, printed on my IC seemed to them as an act of oppression, where one needs to be identified as such for whatever the reason. However, back home in Singapore, I guess nobody gives two hoots about our race being printed on our IC, because back home racial tensions are minimal and everybody gets along fine in a multi-racial setting. However, here in UK where racism, though not rampant, is still an issue, having your race stated on an IC might seem like a very harsh thing to be dealt upon.
So, the question now is, even though race-labelling on Singaporean ICs might be nothing more than an administrative procedure, do we really need this? Do we really need our race displayed on our ICs for all to see? Six years back ICA removed the blood group detail from our ICs. It was first introduced for times of emergency, to facilitate blood transfusions. But from what I've heard, now they just go ahead with the transfusion of O-positive blood in emergency situations, hence negating the need for our blood group to be printed on our ICs. So then, exactly what purpose does it serve to have me identified as "Chinese" on my identity card?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I managed to catch the West End smash hit musical Wicked last Thursday, with Sarah and her colleagues when they were in town. As usual, I always come out of a West End production blown away, telling myself this has got to be the best musical I've ever watched so far! In short, it was worth every penny of the ticket price. I won't want to spoil the story for you, but it was very well-written as sort of a different perspective to the well known The Wizard of Oz storyline. This musical is based on the book of the same name by Gregory Maguire. I should be giving that a read sometime soon now!
Most noteworthy though, was Alexia Khadime's absolutely brilliant performance as Elphaba. I've never heard "Defying Gravity" sung in such stunning fashion before. Each time she opened her mouth to sing, my hair stood from end to end! She's really such a talented performer, singer, and actress all rolled into one. Stephen Schwartz really wrote a clincher with this very beautiful song.
Some photos from before the musical started. As usual, Sarah is never shy when it comes to dragon-like poses right in the middle of the aisle of the stall seats. Oh, not forgetting how she couldn't keep her eyes off the actor who was playing Fiyero onstage, Oliver Tompsett.
Before I go, here's a quote for you that lifted a smile on my face today.
"At times, doing a good job is like wetting your pants in a dark suit, you get a warm feeling but no one else notices."
Monday, October 13, 2008
Featuring MC Bruce Lee, DJ Potty, The Fart King and, uh, Foi the Drummer.
Yes, we're cool this way! Kudos to Charles Wong who showed me how to beatbox decently for the very first time. He's the champion! Check out his beatboxing videos here.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
This weekend was spent mostly with Foi, who's in town for the week. In fact, she was supposed to return to Leicester on Friday, but two days later she's still here. Guess Switzerland isn't working out too well for her either! On Thursday evening we checked out the club METRA, along with Andree, Lee, Dong Young and Dong Hoon. Yes, that girl -- always reveling in plenty of attention from adoring males! (Did I say Koreans?)
at Gerrard Street, Chinatown.
Friday saw us ambling around Chinatown again for most of the night. We had Korean for dinner, followed by a stroll to Trafalgar Square to allow Andree (who was in London for the first time) to soak in the night sights. We managed to procure some beer en route, so we just sat around, chilled out and took more photos before our game was discovered and we got asked to leave. Yep, drinking isn't allowed on the square (when in UK you can drink on cross country trains and in parks)!
After that we headed back to The Exchange Bar (a common haunt of late), where we went for another round before deciding that it was FINALLY time for Andree to leave. Originally supposed to catch his bus to Aberdeen at 11:45pm, we rushed to Victoria only to have Andree discover that the coach was full. Since he failed to buy tickets in advance, he had no choice but to stay for one more day (along with Foi). Right after that happened, we launched into a very mad rush to find a hotel for the night. It was only then we discovered that it is almost impossible to walk into a decent hotel and expect an available room here in London at 12 midnight. After ambling around the city like lost puppies for over an hour, we finally managed to find a room at Thistle Marble Arch.
Here are a couple of whacky photos we took at Trafalgar Square. Note how none of the photos contain pictures of landmarks, and only pictures of us goofing around. As usual.
Saturday was mostly spent at Regent's Park, where we went boating and had an impromptu champagne picnic on deck chairs whilst watching the sun go down. Oh, not forgetting the awesome lunch we had at Bayswater -- yep, you got it, we had duck! I'll be posting up a whole slew of really crazy photos and videos up soon, so watch for it.
In the meantime, I shall leave you with this absolutely hilarious video taken during Music Idol, which is the Bulgarian version of the world famous TV format, Pop Idol. This, really, is a must see.
Absolutely classic, Ken Lee.
Monday, October 06, 2008
I've asked Robyn to post it back from Sheffield for me, hope it doesn't cost more than me having to go back up myself to collect it. Oh boy, the horrors! No working TV, no microwave, spoilt fridge and soon-to-happen no laptop. Great. I wonder what's going to go next, the heating?
Thursday, October 02, 2008
But, other than that, London's a real drab. It really is. I've been staying indoors most of the time, watching movies and the latest episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Summer Glau just looks simply amazing, it's hard to keep my eyes off her. The season debut for Season 2 was such a great episode! It's a pity that viewer ratings in the States are dropping for this series; it would be such a tragedy should the studios decide to can this excellent series after only two seasons.
I also managed to catch Hancock, Speed Racer, The Happening and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Okay, the first three I watched on the plane here. I actually quite enjoyed The Happening. Actually, I've always quite enjoyed all of M. Night Shyamalan's works except for Unbreakable (which was quite favourably reviewed by critics). The Happening was apparently a bomb among critics, but I really did quite like it's premise and setting. Mark Wahlberg was a cringe to watch in terms of acting though, I don't know what went wrong with him in this one. It was simply dreadful. Co-star Zooey Deschanel was even worse.
I've been doing mostly administrative stuff over the last few days, trying to settle in. Things like trying to open a bank account, getting a UK mobile number up and running and getting a Criminal Records Bureau check done are just about the most mundane things you could possibly come up with. What loathsome chores indeed, especially if you're trying to work around the lack of efficiency that so permeates every pore of society here.
I'm heading up to Sheffield this weekend to meet up with Jinn and Robyn. I'm really looking forward to that, I think seeing warm familiar faces should soothe my nerves just a little. Speaking of which, I better go pick Robyn a birthday present for her before I leave! Also, it's be good to get out and mingle (in Sheffield, no less). I've been living with the caveman syndrome over the past few days; this streak of alcohol abstinence just isn't quite my game yet.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
+44 7826 143 044
I'll still be keeping my Singapore number, and it'll be switched on at all times. However, I won't be carrying that phone around with me wherever I go, so I guess the UK number's best. Thanks!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I went down to Guildhall today for enrollment but hardly got things done. Like everything else around here, administration for whatever setting (banks, schools, even the police) is unbelievably slow and I can only be fully enrolled by tomorrow. I just received my school timetable in my email and took a careful look at it. It's quite relaxed, with compulsory sessions taking place only once or twice a week, with the remaining projects listed as optional. Well, it is a postgraduate course after all.
Still feeling a tad jet lagged, as how I always do on the first day of getting off the plane. I had to re-pack at the airport due to overweight baggage, and as a result I was the last passenger to check-in for the flight. And because of that, I got assigned the worst seat imaginable. On my right was this big-sized guy who was so big he couldn't even use his tray table, and on my left was a noisy albeit cute toddler girl. The horrors!
Alright, I gotta catch some shut-eye soon. Hopefully I'll have a few more positive things to scribble about over the next couple days. Miss you all in Singapore. Homesickness is a little more prevalent than I expect!
Oh, and a big thank-you to my very sweet friends who took time to show up at the airport to send me off to London. I know I've changed my flight umpteen times but you guys were still so patient over the entire week to really wait until my real flight took place! Especially Juliet, thanks so much for rushing down after work and say goodbye over a mere five minutes. I really appreciate it!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Went down to Zouk on Friday night for a wee bit of partying. Haven't been to Zouk for quite awhile now (Winebar doesn't count!), so it was good to revisit that place a bit before I head off to London. Met up with Huishi and her friend, Shakun and had a couple drinks at Winebar before heading into Zouk for some Agnelli & Nelson. We weren't there specifically for them, they just happened to be spinning that night. Pretty good stuff though, I do quite like their brand of trance.
Huishi had a bit too many hotdogs from the hotdog stand though, so by the time Vanessa joined us (with her newly-found pal from Nethearlands!), she couldn't stay long enough to finish the bottle of G.H. Mumm before she had to head home and slowly digest all those hotdogs and mash! Well, nothing like some official F1 champagne to get into the F1 mood, I suppose.
Saturday night was spent at Holland V with dear April and best buddy Vyomar, along with Carol and Eftoni. Most of the night was spent at 2am: dessertbar, with the bunch of us wolfing down a chocolate tart, a twix and bottles of fruit beer faster than you could say "fat hips". Janice was very nice and hospitable and even gave us a free scoop of sorbet while we were still sitting by the bar, before heading over to the plush cushions. April fished out her camera and I took a couple "beer shots" for good measure.
It was a really great chilled out night, peppered with moments of remembering old acquaintances (aka bitching), updating each other on the latest ongoings (aka gossiping) and picture-taking (aka cam-whoring). Pretty much unavoidable, really! Definitely a great way to spend your weekend evening though, I must say. More to come, I hope!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Ooh, how I wish I could just go there and run a sharp blade through the receptionist's throat, and watch her gurgle to death in her own blood as she slowly slumps over her keyboard/desk/phone, staining the entire area dark red. Okay, this is really driving me nuts. I think you can tell. By god, I'm so sick of their terrible excuses every time I call.
"Oh, the application is still being processed!"
"We don't know what's going on with the KL High Commission!"
"It's the peak period now, everybody has to wait..."
"When we say 8-10 working days to process, it's just the average time..."
Oh man, die already, all of you! Incidentally, I read up on Wikipedia that VFS Global was embroiled in a scandal whereby the company's online UK visa application system was flawed and insecure allowing applicants identities to be stolen. This was, according to them, due to "organizational failures". Yes indeed, your entire organization is one big failure. Following official inquires and investigations, the UK Foreign Office has stated that they will terminate its relationship with VFS. I really wonder why this hasn't happened already.
Anyway, last Tuesday was another "last night at Cuscaden" business with the boys. As you can tell, I would've though the previous Tuesday would be my last night there, but to be honest I won't be entirely surprised if I have another "last night at Cuscaden" on the 30th. This time, Dennis managed to join us as he's currently in Singapore for a couple days. That poor fella was out by the time he finished his first jug!
At the end of the night, Dennis actually threw up and guess what, he was forced to cough up $80 as a fine! This was, of course, immediately met with protests by all of us present. The management then took out a piece of A4-sized paper that stated out this "company policy", whereby which we were all taken by surprise. When queried further, the boss actually let us around the pub and showed us that there were indeed similar A4 posters put up at very discreet corners of the place. Which is ridiculous, of course. I've been there so many times, yet I've never seen it before!
Dennis, however, is quite the pacifist when he's drunk. Without a word, he took out his wallet at promptly paid on the spot! Upon further negotiation, we managed to reduce his fine to $50, which incidentally happens to be the amount you have to pay if you spit within the pub's premises. I kid you not, it's right there on the company policy poster!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Just checked this morning, my visa is still not ready. And oh, guessed what. Remember how I complained that their visa tracking isn't really tracking because all it tells you is whether it's ready or not? Well, I guess VFS read my last blog post about that, because they put in an additional message for me when I went to "track" my visa application. It now says,
"Your application is still being processed. Please avoid calling/emailing the Application Centre or the High Commission for an update. The website will be updated as soon as the documents are ready for collection. Your visa application has been forwarded to the British High Commission."
Usually what I get is simply just the last sentence, but I guess they've recognized me by now, going how I've been calling them everyday. But hey, it's for good reason! I didn't pay $267 in visa application fees only for them to doodle around and take their own sweet time. Such f**kers they are! Once I finally get my visa I'm going to submit a very heavy-handed complaint to VFS.
I spent the entire day yesterday playing Tales of Vesperia (it's really addictive!), and only stopped to meet Yiling and Lingna for dinner. I sympathize with those two, twice have they prepared themselves to go to the airport after work to send me off, only for me to ruin their plans at the very last minute! Still, we thought since we were all free anyway we decided to have dinner at Causeway Point.
I met up with Pin-Ji again a couple days back for another "farewell dinner" (a common tale of late). We were talking about arthouse films, specifically Boy A, and how difficult it is sometimes to get someone to watch an arthouse film together. Then, out of some burst of sudden spontaneity, we decided to just go "mainstream" and go catch Bangkok Dangerous! (Of all the worst movies one could watch, right?)
So we went to the box office at Shaw, only to be sidetracked by another movie which we went for in the end. The movie was titled Step Brothers, and I went into the movie theatre having absolutely no idea what to expect. Well, it turned out to be an immensely funny flick, with Will Ferrell being his usual obnoxious self to the utmost degree! I'm sure those who watched it will agree what a gut-wrenching moment it was during the scene where Will Ferrell's character took out a certain anatomy of his and started rubbing it on the drum set. (Yes, you read correctly: drum set!)
Well, I guess it's back to mucking around at home, trying not to spend more money when I've already stopped working. That means planting myself in front of my Xbox 360 and TV in hopes of trying to distract myself from thinking about the damn visa. Oh man, enough of this shit already!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I put that sentence in quotation remarks because, despite them writing that down on their website, it is to me just utter, complete nonsense. So if VFS claims to do exactly that, I would like to question how "working in partnership" means having to send visa applications to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur for processing when Singapore has one right here. I would like to question why your one and only telephone line is engaged all the bloody time. I would to question why your so-called "VFS Tracking System" only tells a person whether it's ready, or not. That's it, only two options. How does this qualify as "tracking"?!
I would also like to question why VFS takes 8-10 working days to process a simple non-settlement visa when, from your very own website, it states that UKvisas themselves process all straightforward non-settlement applications within 24 hours, 99% of the time. So is this now a case of UKvisas being actually productive, whilst the incompetent lot of you at VFS are taking your own sweet time sending courier dispatches up and down the North-South Highway? Is that it?
You guys have been a pain in my ass, a thorn in my side and a splint in my eye for the past week. I hope to never have to deal with such a bunch of unskilled, hopeless and ineffectual people like yourselves ever again. I have now changed my flight to the 29th, which is next Monday. If I can't leave by then, I swear my grievances towards VFS Global will go beyond just a simple blog post.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Interestingly, this is always what Tony and I do whenever we've had a little too much too drink, and the intoxication is fuelling our emotional and literary tendencies. Then again, I guess that's how it was always done during those ancient days in China! This is definitely not the first time we've come up with something like that. Admittedly, I did receive quite a bit of help for the 3rd line!
In his inebriated state last night, Tony also wrote another poem dedicated to my departure. (That sounds a tad off.) I'll be putting it up soon!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Well, the accompanying (and very fitting) lighter is also Rachel's, from Japan. The Japanese really come up with the craziest stuff! There's actually a little mini figurine floating about inside the lighter fluid. How ingenious is that. Well unfortunately I finished the pêche in a day and a half. Gone all too quickly!
Last Sunday I went to catch Babylon A.D. with Rachel and Cindy. Michelle Yeoh was in it and boy, was her character an exact mimic of her character in her previous movie, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In both movies, she plays a mother/mentor figure to a girl who, from young, has been destined for great things or endowed with great powers. She then accompanies this girl through a series of adventures where both of them discover themselves and grow closer, only to have them bitterly separated through Michelle Yeoh's premature death towards the end. In her dying moments, her character will then whisper to the girl's love interest or to the protagonist, asking him to take good care of the girl when she's gone.
If you've watched both movies, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. I just find it amusing how, for both back-to-back movies which she starred in, her characters could have so many uncanny similarities. Still, despite all these stereotypes, it's good to see a prominent and talented south-east asian actress like her getting some good screen time in Hollywood, through hard work and proper acting talent. Definitely beats the skin-deep character that Fann Wong played in Shanghai Knights, which I thought was quite dreadful to watch. In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post actually stated that she "seems set to displace Lucy Liu as Hollywood's Asian babe du jour". What utter rubbish!
Friday, September 12, 2008
My eyes half-closed, I could feel her comforting presence, the warmth and tenderness of it all welcoming me into another realm of peace. She then took me into her arms and studied my face, my expressions, my thoughts. A sweet lullaby escaped from her lips, and it was one full of hopes and dreams for the days, months and years to come. My consciousness floated in and out of paradise, soaring above the waves and clouds as I beckoned her to follow me.
She rested my head against the pillow, and ran her hand through my hair, leading every follicle of my being towards her gracefulness. A parting shot, a departing murmur, a longing sigh. Then I looked up, and she was gone.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Note that I've not made any changes whatsoever to the paragraph below, so you can grasp the inanity of it in it's full glory. Formatting remains the same too, but for sanctity's sake I've left out the poster's name and number.
good evening.just eaten dinner .did not went anywhere . just sleep after come back from work at abt 1pm. not feeling too well .... having headache and diarrhoea .eaten congee for dinner .do remember to grab yr dinner soon .drink plenty of warm water as weather quite cold .raining .mind be a friend ?.let me intro myself first ... A*** here, 23yrs old Singapore Chinese guy , height 1.72m n weight 60kg .
Short profile of myself. Single.completed army last year sep . wrking in sale line for coke. Tend to care for others more. Tend to be truthful to others .wrking hard and hope to get my car licence so can drive mitsubishi lancer .love to eat dim sum and drink Soya bean.hardly clubbing , maybe once a year ,no smoke .do sincerely hope you give me chance to know you more.sometime do help out in housechores . tend to always help others .always tend to care for others .do hope you give me a chance to let me know you more.but i do drink , only abt twice in half a year .
hi . as i seldom log on to friendtser as my friendster got some problem . you can sms me at 9******* if you don mind de .do sincerely hope you able to recieve your sms .
next time am i allowed bring you go into malaysia to eat?do sincerely hope you give me a chance to know you more .
next time i make beer fried chicken wing for you to try.
do sincerely hope you give me a chance to know you more .
Wow, awesome stuff, eh? I think he would make a great example on how to attempt to pick girls up online. The only thing worse about this is poor Kewei, who probably receives random messages such as these so many times over!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Tonight was an unbelievably wet night at IndoChine. Rain seems to pouring at the most random times of the day in Singapore as of late, and I’m not even talking about that hot Korean star. Tonight’s torrential downpour started at 11 at night. Coupled with the fact that it’s a Monday night, there were only like 6 customers left at IndoChine by the time Linda, Daniel and myself were done with our last set.
I went clubbing with Kewei, Dennis, Phoebe and a bunch of random friends last Saturday. Like, what’s new. It seems that as of late, imbibing alcohol has become quite a pastime for me. Not that I’m complaining, but it does make me think that there has to be some better vices in life to aim for. Or so I would think! Well, I guess being blameless and pure would be a better option, but for that one I’m still working on it. We dropped by Taboo, where they were having their BodWatch fashion show featuring Sportsmen Asia products.
Now according to their website, they claim to be “the Definitive Men's Shop for the trendiest sportswear, swim wear and underwear”. For the fashion show, however, the focus was definitely on the last two listed products, and not the first. I think Dennis and myself were more dismayed by the fact that we have such inferior, dreadful physiques (as compared to the hunky models) rather than the fact that we were two heterosexuals trying to look like we were having fun at a (gay, no less) male underwear fashion show.
We headed to Butter Factory shortly after and met up with April (left) and Alfred, who were already partying the night away with their respective friends. Dharni was there as usual, and it was good to see him. That lucky *beep* is opening Kanye West’s show here during his Glow in the Dark Tour. Gotta give it to Dharni man, he’s the real shit!
Ah, damn. Just thinking about the very busy week ahead of me is enough to stop me from thinking what else to fill in for this post. I’ve got a couple weddings lined up, plenty of rehearsals, the usual gigs and most importantly, I need to get my damn student visa done. It’s been quite tough over the past week, having to break the news of my sudden departure to all my students. Underneath every student’s mother’s congratulatory remark, I can tell that inside their brains they’re fretting over who to get as their next piano teacher!
Monday, September 08, 2008
After our little jam session, we headed down to Purvis Street for some good ol' chicken rice at Yet Con. I'm sure anyone who's been there before will never forget how impressively old-school this restaurant has managed to remain. Established all the way back in 1940 (according to some quick online research!), this Hainanese eatery is famed for the elderly gentleman who we all assume is the owner standing at the counter, watching the room with an eagle eye and barking orders at the matronly staff while running the accounts on his abacus. Yep, a real abacus.
But we spotted something just as interesting as a real abacus sitting on the counter as well -- it was one of those nostalgic orange public payphones which used to be found aplenty at your void deck kopitiam! We were so awed by the sight of it that we didn't dare to pick of the receiver to check if it's even a working phone, lest we accidentally defile and deface a national history monument.
Yeah, I remember my lower primary school days, using these phones to ring up my mommy from the mama stall where I used to frequent after school ended and telling her I'd be heading out to cycle someplace somewhere before heading home. And of course, who can forget the iconic 8-step illustration printed on the phone to demonstrate to every user the proper way to use a coin-operated payphone? Awesome, isn't it. Then there's also that little vintage LCD display at the bottom which would reflect whatever number you were dialling.
After dinner, Tat left for Joo Chiat while Kewei and me went shopping at Raffles City before stuffing ourselves silly with J.Co donuts. I was quite surprised when we walked past J.Co and Kewei took the initiative to walk in and start queuing for donuts without any prompting from me. We settled for half a dozen of those heavenly things, and proceeded to gobble them down without much guilt. At one point Kewei remarked, "I feel I must relive the good old KL days!" For those who don't know, it was in KL where Kewei had her first taste of J.Co donuts. I can safely say she has never looked back since.
After that, we then proceeded to Taboo, then Butter Factory with random groups of friends joining us throughout the night. Speaking of which, I must mention my randy new green shirt which I bought just before the donuts. See, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon with the SAF changing their No. 4 camo to a digital print pattern and all. Well, that was the closet to a green digital print pattern I could find at River Island. Whilst hoping that perhaps the camouflaging nature of my shirt would serve to hide my beer gut, I was severely proved otherwise after our donut-indulging expedition.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
I met up with Phoebe and Cindy over the weekend, where we went to dbl o and we were joined by Celyn and Si Ming. I don’t pay a visit there often, so the $3 shots proved rather formidable after a couple trays ensured that everyone was sufficiently sloshed, most of all Cindy. (That’s Celyn on the right though, not Cindy. She’s going to have my head for this picture should she ever stumble upon my blog!) Still, the bak kut teh which we had at the end of the night served well to clear our heads before heading home.
Come Monday, however, Cindy & I were still really game for another round of drinks so we met up for dinner after work before heading to Winebar with Phoebe for another session of martinis and Hoegaarden. Still, it was a decidedly more reserved night that night, with almost nobody at Zouk (except alcoholics like us).
And as if we couldn’t get enough of each other, we met up again yesterday for coffee and KTV, this time joined by Rachel and Wei Yap. It’s been a while since I’ve gone KTV-ing twice in two weeks; the last time this happened was when Ben, Shi Wei and I were crazy about belting out Mandarin hits at the wee hours of the morning. It being a Tuesday, however, I had to end the night with my regular beer-chugging session at Cuscaden Patio, and for that Albert very kindly obliged in joining me for some drunken debauchery.
Well, and before you know it, it’s already mid-week Wednesday. Feels like yesterday when I went to catch WALL-E with Vanessa last Thursday. Great movie there by the way; everything about it is so polished I don’t know where to start. I never knew, though, that an animated movie about space-faring robots falling in love would be able to tug at my heartstrings. Quite amazing, indeed.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Interestingly, our Kukrusann blog is actually still up online, although it's not really updated anymore.
Never something I could hide
When I see we made it through another day
Monday, August 25, 2008
Life, what a conundrum, eh. Mood swings took over most of my weekend over the last few days, and the feeling is nothing short of terrible. I've never experienced so much joy, fear, regret, bitterness, disappointment, dread, apprehension, confusion, remorse, nonchalance, relief and insouciance in just a short span of a few days. It's terrible, but I know it's going to continue for a few more weeks.
Just to soothe my nerves, I actually fished out my old copy of Final Fantasy XII, popped it into my PS3 and played the Bahamut/final boss battle segment again just for old time's sake. It was fun and really nostalgic, thinking about all the 200+ hours I've invested in this game back in 2006 when the game was first released. Fast forward two years later, and now we're all eagerly anticipating Final Fantasy XIII's release.
I actually had quite some difficulty defeating the final incarnation of Vayne, even though I had lvl. 83 characters across. Shows how much I've lost touch with that game! Even though, it's always really nice to just crack out all those past RPGs that you've played over the years and give it a short run, just to relive that old-school feeling of sitting in front of your console and TV for hours at an end, busy levelling up and clearing dungeons.
Well, I'm trying to remain positive for the good start of the day so far. I'll be attempting to clean out my wardrobe later. That ought to be daunting enough!
Sorry if it appears to be a little insensitive. Well, it's Hitler after all. Anything about him can be construed as insensitivity.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
That's really food for thought, isn't it. But it does make complete sense. To you, I can only say I'm sorry I've betrayed you and brought shame to what we've both shared and held precious. I will take your parting advice, only in hopes that I can prove to you, and more importantly myself, that I can be better than this.
And yet, things can only go worse. A badly-painted scenario so warped, so wrong, yet so real. People always say, what's done is done, you can only look ahead. And so very true, yet so very hard to master. Am I sorry? Yes, but perhaps not as much as I should be. Do I regret? Definitely so.
What you have, you don't want. What you don't have, you wish you had. Isn't that the bitter nature of us humans? How a single act of selfishness and mistrust and overturn everything in a blink of an eye. There's this quote which I stumbled upon, which I find most apt.
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm definitely not sure about the universe.
There will be more demons for me to face, demons that won't surface until the time is right. Till then, this wait will continue to haunt me, forever and beyond. Time to pick up the pieces. Time to face the facts. Time to move on.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I went down to accompany Annie to bring Victoria and Albert to their new high school, Seven Lakes High School for their open day. There, I brought Albert to see his new teachers, get his photo ID done, collect his school supplies list, buy his books and stuff. Their school is pretty new in the Katy district, and seems really well equipped. They even have a black box and performing arts centre within the school. Now that's what I like to see!
And even in the school, I managed to get some shopping done -- I bought a SLHS sweatshirt and and a tee. Not bad, huh! I even managed to take a photo in front of the school with my SLHS sweatshirt on, posing as a senior. I think I looked quite the part! Will post photos on Facebook once I get back to Singapore.
Other than that, the past few days have been pretty relaxing. Went for a spot of shopping at Memorial City Mall after watching Clone Wars, where I contended myself with purchases at GameStop and Victoria's Secret. (Yes, it's can be fun shopping in a women's boutique too.) Oh, and eating alot. Well, just as well, we're heading out for dinner soon. ¡Hasta luego ás-ta lwé-go!