Monday, 30 November 2009

Album review...

I've never done one of these before, but seeing that there's so many new albums out for this Christmas season, I thought I'd round up a couple of albums and pass my judgement on them. See if you agree with any of these.

Ok, where shall we start? How about SuBo?

Susan Boyle's debut album, I Dreamed A Dream, has been charting very well in the UK (and apparently, the US, too). The frumpy lady, who claimed to have never been kissed before, went on Britain's Got Talent, emerging as an Ugly Duckling with a beautiful voice that melts hearts. Now that she has an album, we get to hear more of that voice. Before I get all fanboy-ish with this review, I will say (to prove some objectivity in this review) - yes, the songs are all covers, and you probably won't want to listen to some of the tunes after Christmas, because yes, there's some Christmas songs in there. But heck. She's got great (not perfect, but great) vocals, and I think she's brilliant and likeable. She scores 3/10 for creativity (her rendition of Wild Horses - that's something), but overall, it's an 8.5/10.
Must Download: Wild Horses / I Dreamed A Dream / How Great Thou Art / Daydream Believer

Next, Lady Gaga, the crazy musical genius. For the sake of this review, I will review Fame Monster in 2 parts - The EP (CD1), and the album (i.e.: The Fame, CD2).

Fame Monster: 8 tracks. As many of you probably guessed by now, I'm a big fan of the electronica genre (think Owl City). So you'd expect me to love Lady Gaga, right? Well, yes and no. I have this bad habit of judging songs by their first 10 seconds, and that's the litmus test Gaga songs often fail. But to be fair, her latest EP isn't all bad. If you see my weekly charts, you'd see that "Telephone" is in joint number 2. Many people also like Bad Romance. Aside from these two songs, I think the other songs are marginally above average, which = "Just OK". Not terrible. Just so-so. So I give this EP 6.5/10.
Must Download: Telephone / Bad Romance / Monster

The Fame: 16 tracks. Admittedly late, considering this album was out last year. But because this album is stuck inside "The Fame Monster", whether you like it or not, I have to review it. I'll make this quick. It's Gaga. And you probably have the album already if you like her. 8/10

Combines weighted score: 6.5*8 + 8*16 / (8+16) = 7.5/10

Next up: John Mayer, with Battle Studies. I was just tweeting @thejellyhunter (formerly @ryanleee) about this album - I don't love it, I don't like it, it's not growing on me, even though it's John C. Mayer. Why? Well, I've been thinking about it, and I think the answer can only be summed up in 2 words - it's dull. And I mean that in a "dull and not entertaining" sense. I mean, I loved Continuum, mainly because a few tracks were likeable - Heart Of Life, Waiting On The World To Change, Stop This Train, etc. - you listen to those, and you'll want to shake your head to the beats. If only he would stop tweeting and make his songs more impactful. And what the heck was Taylor Swift doing with John Mayer, singing only 2 lines? If she's in a studio with John Mayer, I expect more from Swift than just "Can't Stop Loving You, Can't Stop Loving You" and a suppressed, almost inaudible alto line. (The lyrics are great, though, if that's any consolation). 6.5/10
Must Download: Heartbreak Warfare / Who Says / Half Of My Heart / War Of My Life

Moving on: Norah Jones, with The Fall. Just as you forgot about her, she's back with a new album. It deviates from what you'd call Jazz, but that's fine by me. The music paints a picture in your head, and that's good. This one's growing on me. And as a "Welcome back" present, Jones gets an 8.5/10.
Must Download: Chasing Pirates / Young Blood / Tell Yer Mama

One last album - Queen. I talked about this before - It's a "Best Of" from one of those bands that probably earn millions in royalties each year. Buy! 9/10.

k. That's all for now. Got some tests to prepare for. More reviews to come!

Friday, 27 November 2009


This is probably the coolest App that I've foind so far for the iPhone.

It's "Decibel", a Decibel-o-meter app for the iPhone, and well, it works as its name suggests - it picks up sound using the in-built mic of the iPhone (works best on 3G/3GS, also on iPod touch 3G with a mic on the earphone) and it tells you the volume of the sound it captures in decibels (dB).

Go check it out!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Ambitious but rubbish, indeed.

For all the Top Gear (and car, especially electric car) fans out there, this one's for you.

In Episode 2 of their latest Season (Season 14), which aired last Sunday, the trio built an electric car that was meant to compete against other electric cars out there - Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Roadster, G-Wiz, etc.

They asked an 'annonymous' driver to send the car to the Autocar magazine to review the car that they have built.

The result?

Read on this link:

It's ambitious, but ... trust me. Read the review.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

BBC Children In Need Medley

A song for the BBC Children In Need fundraising campaign. You'd probably never seen so many cartoon/kids characters in one single music video.

Music to watch out for...

Been looking through the iTunes Music Store, and boy, do we have lots of new albums on the UK iTunes Album Chart this week.

Ok, first thing I want to talk about is, well, probably not available outside the UK (aww...). It's a Parody Album by BBC Radio 1 Morning Show DJ, Chris Moyles. The name of the album? I just said it. It's The Parody Album. It's a compilation of parodies that this morning show DJ recorded. Not much I can say, except you know this is going to be weird, like those Don & Drew show podcasts. Out Monday 23rd Nov on iTunes UK.

Next, still speaking about the UK, remember the Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle? Well, she's back with a vengeance this Christmas with an album of her own, entitled "I Dreamed A Dream". Before you laugh her off as an eccentric like William Hung, look back at those YouTube clips. Now, imagine a studio-quality recording of her singing Amazing Grace or Silent Night. I admit, most people will notice flaws in her vibrato parts, but otherwise, she's a Scottish angel. This album is one to look out for this Christmas. Out Monday 23rd Nov

Moving on, while we're on the topic of stocking-stuffers for Christmas, we have 2 'Best-of's that were just released. For those who like Queen (who doesn't?), they just released their "Absolute Greatest" album! If you're more into Snow Patrol, they also have a 2-disc 'best-of', called "Up To Now".

There's also been some Jazzy artistes releasing albums recently. There's Norah Jones with "The Fall", and Jamie Cullum with "The Pursuit". Realise both album names start with 'The', followed by a noun? Can't be a coincidence, can it? Norah's album was released on 17 Nov, Jamie's on 9 Nov.

Oh, John Mayer. He's got a new album out, too. "Battle Studies".

And how about that Lady Gaga EP, "The Fame Monster"? Features the single 'Bad Romance', along with other new Gaga tracks, and her last album, "The Fame".

That's just a sample of what new stuff I saw on iTunes that might be popular this pre-Christmas season. Look out for them, possibly in a future music chart from me!

Friday, 20 November 2009

University help...

Ok, I don't know who reads my blog anymore. But since I just joined TSR (The Student Room), I thought I might get some 'fallout' from that forum site.

I need help with my University options.

At first, I wanted to go to LSE. But that was plan A, and with their rejection letter, I must switch to Plan B.

Unfortunately/Fortunately, I have 4 Plan Bs, and 3 of them are deployable (I'm still waiting for an offer from City University, for what I suspect might be the wrong course, because I chose Economics/Accountancy, and my Personal Statement was all about Finance & Accounting). As such, I need help in deciding which Plan B to make as a Firm Choice, and which as my Insurance Choice for my UCAS application.

The 4 Plan Bs are as follows:

I don't know what kind of place Exeter is, but from what I see, it's a vibrant scene with a great campus and relaxing surrounding. Highest Student Satisfaction Rating (citation: TimesOnline Good University Guide), so it has to be good, right? But highest entry requirement of the 3, too, at AAA. Then again, seems like Exeter might be the 'cheapest' place to live in amongst all my options (citation: Virgin Alternative Guide), yet it's the furthest from a major airport (I'm a foreign student.)

The lowest-ranked for Finance & Accounting (amongst my choices), but low = 10th (which is high, actually), according to The TimesOnline Good University Guide, and it's in a major city, with a big student population (is that a boon or a bane?). Near a major airport. Also, it's in the QOS international ranking of top 100 Universities worldwide. Great Music scene, from what my church friends told me.

Great teaching, I heard, and popular amongst UCAS applicants, but not much nightlife/shopping/POI around - Is that accurate?

Haven't gotten an offer (not even an acknowledgement) yet. But this Univeristy's in London, which probably means vibrant nightlife, but high living cost and parking. Then again, there's good transport link (Tube, Bus, etc.)

So, that's my shortlist.

Which 2 should I choose?

[btw, my blog's back on Facebook!]

are you reading?

Just thought I should remind people - if you're still reading my blog, please drop a tag or something. I'm starting to feel like this is the end of a Birthday party when everyone's left, and I'm the only one left in the room, talking to the wall that is my own blog posting space.

So, yeah, please tag if you're still reading.

This got me thinking, though - with the advent of stuff like Facebook, Twitter, etc., what's the point of spending 30 minutes drafting a blog post that's just to satisfy your own ego/mind/(fill in this bracket with an appropriate word/phrase you had in mind)?

Look at the status update.

That's a quick, short and simple 'drug' to the same condition that people had before - the desire to be heard by "annonymous".

Not only can you send text across, but you can also share photos of, oh, I don't know, your bear wearing a poppy, or a bowl of clothes size tags that you arranged to form a rainbow!

So, why am I still blogging?

Well, to be honest, there is one secret reason.

It's related to essay-writing.

To be honest, I was never really good at writing essays/stories. But ever since I got into blogging, with the influence of friends like Mervyn Wee and Isaac Wong (who have been blogging since P6, before I know what a blog was), I realised that I was generating more essays than I would ever have written. And that's not the best part. The best part is that I actually enjoyed writing these essays, mainly because it serves an egocentric purpose of seeking attention + expressing emotions/thoughts/feelings.

Blogging, to me, feels a bit like your own YouTube channel. You get to post a heap of rubbish, and even if nobody read it, you feel like somebody heard you. (Unless you have a stat counter or a tagboard. A stat counter shows you that a thousand people have read your blog, which might be more people than you'd probably have in your iPhone contacts list. On the other hand, your tagboard will probably be so dead, you'd think nobody reads your blog.)

So, there's a hint. If you want to improve your essay-writing/argumentative/debating/critical skills (critical as in 'critique', not 'vital'), blog.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Of flight tickets and train tickets

Just to let you know, I just booked my flight ticket for the last part of my A Level school year. Long story short, here's the plan:

6 Jan 2010: CGK-SIN, arrive 7:35pm.
8 Jan 2010: SIN-CGK, depart 12:55pm.

And I'm going to be transiting in SG on my return trip in July, but the transit is just one hour, it's not even worth mentioning.

There are many reasons why this stayover is short.

•Firstly, I have to be in the UK before the 11th, because I have exams on. I need to be in the UK earlier to adjust to the climate, time, duration of daytime, etc.

•Secondly (extending reason number 1), I tried to book an SQ flight for the 9th of Jan, but the site just won't cooperate, and tell me SQ only flies SIN-LHR on 4th, 8th and 11th of January, even though it has a code-share flight with Virgin Atlantic on the 9th (though it transits in Dubai, making my trip a 2-stop route, but who cares!). Been trying, believe me, for 2 weeks now.

•Thirdly, I want to spend more time with my family (and my bro's Honda Jazz).

•Fourthly, I need more time with the books.

•Fifthly, Singapore's broadband speed will spoil me. Must not get too used to it.

•Sixthly, what I want to do in SG, most of them, I can do in Jakarta, so what's the point of staying too long?

•Seven, I have a longer, more relaxed break between the end of my A Level exams in June and my A Level results collection in August. And by that time, I think the choir peeps were suggesting we have a get-together to celebrate Ms Gan's return to SG or something, so I thought - why not pop by?

And there you go - 7 reasons for the short stay in SG.

Now that I've clarified my reasons, let's start arranging stuff, yeah?

I'll probably need to go to a Guardian store and a Popular/Art Friend shop, btw.

And I must eat Roti Prata / Yoshinoya / 咸鱼炒饭 with green pickled chilli. Gosh, I miss these things.

And btw, I have a fisheye treat (hint hint).

So yeah, do drop me a Facebook message about this, alright?

While we're still on the topic of my flight ticket, I just realised that my flight ticket, even though it'll bring me half way across the globe and back, it still costs less than rail ticket.

And I'm not talking about some bullet train or rail journey to the ends of the earth.

I'm referring to this recent news article about the most expensive UK railway journey ticket. £1002 (that's £11.40 more than my flight ticket, based on current USD-GBP exchange rates) gets you a First-class "Walk-on" Return journey from some place in Scotland to some place in Cornwall. (See Map)

View Larger Map

That's 1,700 miles in total. (Map above can only show car journey. See source article for actual rail journey route)

To put things in perspective, I'm paying less than the tickets for an economy class seat on a 14,000 mile journey.

That should really makes you wonder about 2 things:
a) How does the airline industry do it?
b) How much dough does the railway companies in the UK make anyway? It's not as if they involve as many employees, or use more expensive vehicles for transporting people.

This is just laughable. For the same amount of money to go on a holiday in, say, Bali, I can go from one end of the UK to the other and back. That's just not the same, is it? And yet, in terms of £££, it is.

And mind you, even though it says First Class, you don't get the same treatment as a First Class passenger on a plane. The size of those seats are (most of the time) the same as standard class seats; they're only slightly cleaner, because fewer buttocks have been on them, since you need to pay more to get on them.

Well, that's all the bickering I can do now. Need to sleep. Got church tomorrow morning, and I'm watching 2012 with my housemates tomorrow afternoon/evening (tbc). Am I the only one to see the irony in that, or what?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Some things I've learnt.

Been thinking recently of posting a list of things that I've learnt
about studying abroad over the past few years, and putting them in a
blog post. But seeing as how these things just keep on coming into my
rear view mirror, I thought I shouldn't put everythin in one post, but
rather, scatter it.

So here is my first one of such posts.

Firstly, you need friends to help you along the way. They can be your
moral supporter, and they are your rock - they keep you sane and in
touch with the world.

Secondly, if you believe in God, you need to keep close to him in your
daily life. Go to church, read the bible, pray for guidance and
wisdom, and also, give thanks to God for the blessings in your life.

Thirdly, jeans are your best friends, whatever the season, weather,
and gender. They're comfortable, they work in all weather and climate,
they work with any top, and they can be worn for a week before you
need to change them. They're the only type of pants you should wear if
you want to survive in a temperate country.

Fourth, music. Unless you're Teh Chee Yang, who hates music, music can
take your mind of things, change your mood, or give you inspiration.
You need music.

5: find student discount opportunities, or discount cards, and abuse
them, but not too much. Look out for lobang, too. To quote a certain
European supermarket chain's ad campaign: Every little helps.

Some of these can apply to any student, really. But yeah, that's how I
stay sane in an insane world.

More to come in future.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Of SSD and TGL.

I was going to start this post with "Haven't blogged in a while", till I realised - my last post was only 9 days ago. Now, yes, that's a 'long' time, considering my average blogging frequenscy. However, compared with most other blogs, one post every 9 days is quite frequent. So, no, it hasn't been a while. It's just 9 days. So let's begin this post proper!


Just got an offer from Exeter! AAA, including Mathematics. A bit high, but not impossible. So, that's Manchester and Exeter down, waiting for City, LSE and Warwick to reply.


I spent last Saturday at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre for Top Gear Live / MPH Show. Can I just say, if you're any sort of a Top Gear fan, or if you love cars, you should check out this show. Basically, there's two parts to it - an exhibition area showcasing cars and car-related products (EA was showcasing their latest games, BBC Magazine was selling Top Gear Magazines for £1, and TomTom was selling GPS devices, etc.), and a live show, featuring the stars of the BBC programme by the same name - Clarkson, Hammond, and May, as well as The Stig. You'll see car stunts, car showcases, and ambitious-yet-rubbish creations of the 3 blokes, including vehicles made out of gardening items, and racing with mopeds (they flip a lot when turning, because they only have one front wheel). And the noise from the V8 engines of 8 supercars - that will give serious petrolheads goosebumps.


That wasn't the only show I saw last week. On Wednesday, before I got sick (more on that later), I watched Michael McIntyre Live at the Brighton Centre. For those who don't know, Michael McIntyre is a stand-up comedian who likes to crack jokes about the things he observe around him - from the way people react to you if you sneeze, to the blatant errors in his opening sequence video, which showed him on the road dashing to Brighton in the daytime, even though it's pitch dark 8pm when the show started. He can make mundane stuff hilarious, and he often does it impromptu - unscripted. And even though he has a cold, he was a great sport, going through the whole 2-hour performance like a professional entertainer. Great comedian!


And about me getting sick - I suspect there's a bug going around, because for some reason, the morning after I went to the Michael McIntyre show, I woke up feeling as if I had a hangover. I almost lost my balance in the shower, and I was feeling weak while eating breakfast. I puked five times after breakfast, and had to take leave for the rest of the day after one hour of classes. The school nurse prescribed something called Pepto-Bismol, which came in the form of (to my disgust) a pink liquid suspension. But taking that really helped to curb my nausea, though the side-effects were a bit disturbing, to say the least (it said "black tongue and excrements", and though the former wasn't observed, the latter certainly happened, and it was the most alarming sight ever.)

But yes, if you are nauseous and puking, and especially if you just recovered from a cold, go see the doctor.


Well, that's it for this post. more to come soon. But for now, it's bed time. (well, for me, anyway)

Oh, did you get the MacHeist bundle? only a few hours left! (as of typing: 5 hours left.)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Try again?

Haven't blogged about myself recently.

So let's try that again.

Erm, ok, where should I start?

I just got the first response from the 5 universities I applied to!

For those who don't know about the UK uni application process, let me

You can start submitting applications from September, and depending on
where you're applying to, it closes at different times - late October
for Cambridge/Oxford/Medicine, January 2010 for other students, March
2010 for some special Arts courses. You have to submit a personal
statement (a 4000-character essay of yourself, why you choose the
subject, and why you deserve to get into the uni), 5 course choices,
and your past academic results + what subjects you plan to do for your
A Levels/IB/equivalent. Then after you submit all these, your tutor
writes a reference and predicted grades in a separate part of the
application (it's all online), and all these go to the 5 universities
as a package (the unis won't know who else you applied to). Based on
all that they've got, the universities decide whether they want to
offer you a place or not, or if they want to interview you (not so
common, since the personal statement should be enough in most cases).

I got my first offer from the University of Manchester! w00t!

So, yeah, Thank God for the offer, especially with the increased
competition this year.

And speaking of "Thank God", Thank God for the re-opening of St.
Peter's Cathedral, Brighton! It's a beautiful Gothic-style church
building, and though 2/3 of the interior needs some work (only the
front 1/3 section is being used for services), it's still a nice
church, where I got to meet lots of nice people over coffee and cakes
before and after service. Maybe I should take some pics and post here
next time.

And speaking of time, look at the time.

No, I mean look at the calendar.

It's two more months before we enter a new year! But not just any new
year, it's a new decade!

If you think about it, so much has changed in the past decade. I shall
blabber on to illustrate my point...

In terms of technology, we now have 3G touchscreen phones, iPods,
Wifi, HDTV, Twitter, Social networks (Facebook, Friendster), Broadband
in virtually almost every household, YouTube, the rise of the Mac,
Windows XP, Vista, and 7 in one decade (and Mac OS X 10 to 10.6). The
CD is dying as a medium, while DVDs and iTunes rise in popularity.

In terms of music, we went from boy/girl bands (think Westlife and
Spice Girls) to, erm, oh sh*t they're back (Westlife, Backstreet Boys.).
But we also have lots of electronica/dance artistes (Lady Gaga, Gwen
Stefani), Alternative (Muse, Radiohead), and strangely, a bit of
country (Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus).
R&B is omnipresent (Timbaland, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Beyoncé),
and so are the JMs - Jason Mraz, John Mayor, James Morrison.
We bid farewell to Michael Jackson.
And thanks to the interwebs (Youtube, Myspace => Lily Allen, Marié
Digby) and Idol/X Factor (Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis, William Hung
(remember that bloke?), David Cook & Archuleta), some people became
And many bands that existed in the 90's (Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay,
Take That) became even more successful.
And we also saw a band release their remasters at last - The Beatles.
Oh, and are you emo? (Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco,
Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne)

In world affairs, we face tighter airport security and 'Big
Brother' ("One Nation Under CCTV") thanks to 9/11 in 2001 and 7/7 in
London. The world watches the events in the Middle East (Iraq, Iran,
Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine). We see great natural disasters (Indian
Ocean Tsunami, Katrina, etc.). China is booming, even in the recent
recession (and did you see the Olympics opening ceremony?). We saw
nuclear weapons in the headlines, and we saw global warming poke
politicians and citizens. The world is dying less and food is
generally abundant, yet we still have people dying of starvation in
parts of the world. People became more concerned of healthy eating,
animal rights, ethics, human rights, obesity/anorexia (or are they?)

The income gap continues to widen.

And Copenhagen is approaching.

And The US bid Bush farewell and elected an African-American Democrat
as the 44th President of the USA.
(Oh, remember Sarah Palin? What happened to her?)

K. think this post is long enough to show just a small fraction of how
much this decade has brought.