Arts & Entertainment

Three Cheers for Fantastic Fantasia!

America has voted and versatile Fantasia Barrino is the new American Idol.

After the finale the day before, I suppose the conclusion was long foregone. Fantasia did prove herself to be the more spellbinding singer as compared to Diana DeGarmo. Diana, as competent a singer as she is, is of no match to Fantasia. Fantasia’s rendition of “Summertime” and the gospel-ly “I Believe” just hypnotized and gave me goosebumps all over, while Diana’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud” went horrendously off-key.

Of course, there was talk of a conspiracy. Some members of AI3 forums alleged that in order to dump the title into Fantasia’s lap, the organisers deliberately changed the key of Diana’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud” at the last minute and hence, her cringeworthy performance. Well, all I can say is, what’s an American Idol final without a conspiracy theory?

Anyway, I think that Fantasia fully deserves the win. Of all the contestants, she is the most interesting and unpredictable singer. I like that she dares to take risks in her choice of songs and the fact that she emotes well in her singing. La Toya London is probably technically superior to her as a singer but La Toya is, as Simon Cowell (the most astute judge, and my favourite) says in an interview, cold. Sorry, but she doesn’t seem to reach out to me as Fantasia does.

And as she says, she’s worked hard to get to where she is today. Thank goodness the voters proved their credibility by accepting the fact that Fantasia is a young, black, single parent who also happens to be a fabulous singer, and giving her their votes. After the fiasco of Jennifer Hudson and La Toya being voted out in favour of perpetually-flat John Stevens and sweet-but-bland Jasmine Trias, it would have been scandalous if Fantasia did not win. And let’s not go into the controversial debate of Jasmine Trias. I am NOT jealous of her beautiful, exotic Asian looks nor the fact that she is a great singer. She has a really nice voice but just not good enough to even be in the top 3. Let’s just leave it as that.

A great read of the finale is this article from NYT (registration needed). Yay to Fantasia!

What’s Playing on iTunes
Beautiful Disaster from “Thankful” by Kelly Clarkson

Arts & Entertainment

Before Sunset

The concept of fate has always intrigued me.

Of course, the modern man would argue that fate is not something that is pre-ordained but in our hands. We control the paths that we take, we decide who and what we want to be. On the other hand, there are people in the other camp who say that everything we do, every road we trudge has already been etched in our books of destiny long before we were born.

Fate, to me, is such a simple word and yet such a complex concept to grasp. I’m a product of technology and modern science, should I believe in something so abstract? But I’m a student of the Arts, a romantic, an imaginative idealist – I like to believe that as much as we make our own decisions in life, Fate plays a part too.

Let’s take love. Can we decide who we love and leave? Why is it that of the hundreds, thousands of people we meet in the course of our lives, we only spark with a certain few individuals and not the rest?

While looking through movie trailers on iTunes, one particular film stood out.

It’s called Before Sunset, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The movie is based on a very interesting premise – What if you had a second chance with the one who got away?

This is actually a sequel to 1995’s Before Sunrise. In it, Hawke’s Jesse and Celine, played by Delpy met on the Eurail train and spent 14 beautiful hours together in Vienna. It ended with them swearing to meet again six months later. Now, nine years have passed since that last meeting. They see each other again at a bookstore in Paris, where he’s doing a book reading of the novel he wrote on their night together, and where she lives. They spend the limited time they have before he catches his flight back to New York. Although both are in committed relationships now, they discover that the magical and powerful feelings they had shared nine years ago were still present.

The heavy question of “what if?” hangs over the entire film, similar to 1998’s Sliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. The idea that it could have ended differently is a very poignant thought. But you are grounded by the fact that this is how the ending goes in reality, there is no fairy tale. Or is there?

I never did watch Before Sunrise. At that age, romantic love was not something that concerned me. But if I have the chance to do so now, I would. And so far, reviews for Before Sunset have been enthusiastic. I’ll definitely be catching it when it arrives. In the meantime, here’s the trailer.

What’s Playing on iTunes
100 Years from “The Battle for Everything” by Five For Fighting

The organised chaos

Blatantly Biased Bureaucracy

I want to kill somebody.
Preferably the person who supervised my group’s Final Year Project (FYP).
If I could, I would leave him to die a lingering and most painful death.
Yes, that is how enraged I feel towards him.

I just got my results today and while they’re not fantastic, I am not exactly perturbed since I didn’t even finish any of my papers. But what galled me was the discrepancy in the group’s grades for FYP. Two of us had lovely Bs and the other two (myself included) had annoying Cs. It was a bit of a shock and I thought I would drop the conscientious supervisor an email for an explanation. Here’s his (extremely) brief reply:

The examiners board considered the overall average marks of students.
Your fyp was discussed extensively. The consensus was that it was between high C and low B.

That was typical of him, not answering what needs to be answered.
So I called.
And the explanation is so ridiculous, nobody would be able to believe it.

According to our dear sup, our project was dithering between a high C and a low B. So to resolve the problem, the Board decided to look beyond our FYP and consider our overall academic record. Since the two lovely ladies with the lovely B did really well in their third and fourth years, they were granted the B grade. On the other hand, the two of us who didn’t get such good grades were inconspicuously handed the C grade.

Which is patently UNFAIR.
This is a group project and the project should be looked upon on its own merit and not judged according to other modules. As a group, we should all be getting the same grade, be it B or C. Besides, the implication is that since we don’t do well in exams, we probably deserve, and should accept, the C, while the other two had better grades and are B-grade material. That’s biased and f***ing nonsense. Anyway, what is the Board there for, if not to resolve grades in a justified manner? This is definitely not justifiable.

Perhaps the exceedingly well-placed supervisor got it wrong. Or maybe his explanation was warped because he have speech communication problems (in which case he should seek the expert help of Dr Joseph Sommerville).

I detest NTU.

What’s Playing on iTunes
Are You Happy Now from “Hotel Paper” by Michelle Branch

Everything Else, Health Goddess, Photography

Life ain’t a box of chocolates

Forrest Gump got that wrong.
Born in the wrong end of the century, he never did try roller-blading before.
Because actually, life is like blading.

Just like when you were a kid, you needed someone’s strong guiding hand to teach you what’s right and what’s wrong. I had my most esteemed Sifus – UU, Topo and Yenew – to do that with me today (Thank you!). They taught me how to put on the gear, stand up, move and stop. In short, they taught me what I needed to know in order to move on wheels. They towed me over the humps initially, held me to prevent me from falling and never lingered far from me, watching over me. So touched. *sniffs*

And then, there is the road. Sometimes, the road is smooth and you would find that blading along that stretch of road is easier. There are less twigs in the way, less humps and less curves. But there are also roads that twist and turn, roads that are littered with petals and limbs and roads that have treacherous humps. Then, the roads are never straight. Just as there are up slopes (where I keep rolling backwards), there are also down slopes (where I keep rolling seemingly unendingly forward). Same as life. Life is never always smooth. And in life, there are similar ups, where we hurtle forward with gusto, and downs, where every step seems to weigh us down.

There are times when we get tired. And so, instead of pushing forward, we sit down and take a breather, enjoying the sea breeze, the view and the company. Just like in life, we need to take a step back sometimes to relax a little and watch the flowers grow.

All in all, I had a fantastic day today and it’s all thanks to my friends! Can’t believe how I pigged out immediately after that but it just felt good. Hee. Now, my left butt cheek is hurting (I don’t know why I keep falling on that end) and my arms feel like they are going to drop out of the sockets any moment now. Falling down is not as easy as it seems, huh.

Photos for Blading 101 are up.

What’s Playing on iTunes
Something About You from America Town by Five For Fighting

The organised chaos

Hello from the Past

Received an email from an old friend today, someone I have not really spoken to for the longest time. I guess you could say that it was a pleasant surprise and I was very thankful for the initiative. But as of now, I still can’t formulate an answer. How do you reply to someone who had, dare I say it, loved you many moons ago but whom you dodged systematically?

Thankfully for me, the email contained nothing but good wishes and fond reminiscences of the past. Of the silly, sweet things I used to do, things that I had forgotten I had ever done. And it did not dredge up the sad events of the past, merely memories that brought a smile to my face and warm feelings.

I remember telling someone eons ago that I didn’t know why people would fall for me, that I am just an ordinary girl and nobody special. Throw a stone into the madding crowd at Orchard on a Saturday afternoon and you will hit someone similar to me. I never really thought of myself as different, because I am not. So it comes as a surprise that after so many years, someone is still thinking of me, though no longer through romantic rose-tinted glasses.

I still don’t know what I am going to write in my reply. Somehow words just don’t seem to suffice.

What’s Playing on iTunes
Somebody from Singles 81>85 by Depeche Mode

The organised chaos

Haphazard (2)

As with everybody in this world, I have my own peculiarities. There are some little quirks in me that sometimes I wish I could get rid of but they are so deeply entrenched in me that I can’t help but not be able to change.

For instance, I have this annoying habit of probing beneath the surface of things that people say and do. They might not mean something in their actions and words but through my eyes, they hold deeper meanings. And so, things that were never there seemed to be there.

Sometimes, I can’t help but read between the lines. Afterall, I am trained to read through the words to extract the meanings behind them in all these years of English Literature. If Hamlet had meant everything that he had said on the surface, then William Shakespeare would not be The Bard. But applying this to reality is not a good thing.

I was supposed to blog a happy post, following the horrifying thoughts of Friday. Let’s move on. If not, we will always be stuck in that moment and not enjoying the beauty of the present.

Red Rum Night
Am looking through all the online photo albums that my kind friends have sent me. It was a great night and it was a bad night. I can’t describe it in words, the emotions are just too mixed. But I had fun although there was a certain realization that I probably would not see most of the people there anymore. And even if I did in future, things would have changed and people would have changed. I would have changed. It’s the chapter of my life that I have to close, whether I like it or not.

What’s Playing on iTunes
Let Down from OK Computer by Radiohead

Everything Else, The organised chaos


Last night was a nightmare. In ways more than one.

My home is a safety zone to me. I have never felt insecure at home, not in the past 5 years that I have been living here. I have never been wary about my safety.

Until last night.

My sense of safety has been violated and that feeling is really hard to swallow. It’s like when things change, you know that they can never be the same again.

Dawn and I got home from the party and were in the lift going up to my place when suddenly the doors opened and a man burst into it. He was odd – he had aviator shades on (it was 5am in the morning) and he was wearing red diamante t-string underwear, which showed up clearly above his low-slung pants.

He said hi to us and pressed the button for the fifth floor, which is directly above mine. We reached our floor and went out of the lift and he smiled and said good night to us. Nothing weird.

Except when we reached my unit at the corner and I was unlocking the door, Dawn turned and spied his reflection on my neighbour’s window peeking at us. Once he realised that she had noticed his presence, he abruptly turned and disappeared.

I really don’t know what would have happened had Dawn not been with me last night. It’s a frightening thought. And just now, when I came home, I looked around me at least three times before opening my gate quickly and rushing into my unit.

I hate what this is doing to me.

What’s Playing on iTunes
Drops of Jupiter from Drops of Jupiter by Train