Friday, July 31, 2009

Poetry Appreciation - Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox from Touched By Fire (2005) complied by Jack Hydes

Poetry Appreciation:

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone;

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air;

The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and the men will seek you;

Grieve, and they turn and go;

They want full measure of all your pleasure,

But they do not need your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;

Be sad, and you lose them all,
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;

Fast, and the world goes by.

Succeed and give, and it helps you live.

But no man can help you die.

For there is room in the halls of pleasure

For a large and lordly train,

But one by one we must all file on

Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It's quite a pessimistic poem and though it does not reflect life in its totality, there is a good measure of realism because ultimately for many people, most of life's pains are endured alone, even if good words of comfort and companionship by the closest. I suppose it's an internal turmoil where one has to grapple with all these discomforts and unhappiness and work these out within - dispel them if possible, or tidy them and stash them away from being hindrances in one's life, so that one can continue to enjoy what I believe to be one of the most precious gifts in this world - life.

I like reading poems and have been doing so for many years, not because I am melancholic but because they reveal many different perspectives of life's moments (if I can understand them) and the poems do all these by painting pictures with words. Just thought I would share a occasional poem here on my blog for my readers to enjoy. ^_^
(Image source:

超级星光5懈可击 新加坡PK赛:

From my sources, I believe Aijia, Diya and Zhiyang are all leaving for Taiwan this coming Saturday to prepare for the above-mentioned competition.

All the best for their adventure and hope they will do everyone back here in Singapore hometown proud by giving their strongest performances there!

Personal Ramblings:

Have an appointment to go and watch the Vivace! auditions at Marina Square this Saturday.
Have to fulfill a long-outstanding appointment to sing karaoke with The Busy Bee.
Practiced over twenty songs in the past two days to make sure I don't get too rusty with singing.
Need to push through my project so that more research and work are done with minimal procrastination.
Must find a suitable time to fully explore the Treetop Trail since I have promised myself to do so.

Well, that's all that I can think of early in the morning. Time to get my breakfast - most probably bread though. -__-"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bar Review on Firestation Hillside Gastrobar with live performances by Kewei & Ein Ein

I got an invitation on Facebook from Kewei to go for her first return performance at Firestation Hillside Gastrobar. Thanks, Kewei! After making some work arrangements, I managed to find some time to head down to this rather secluded location along Upper Bukit Timah Road to watch her live performances (3 sets' worth) with Ein Ein. Their gig here runs every Thursday from 8pm to 11.30pm so for those who missed last night's performances, you can try any of the coming Thursdays.

I only took one photo of my dessert dish because there was not an opportunate time to take photographs since it was my first time there and there were already some raised eyebrows on an unfamiliar face by the regular patrons there - I preferred to remain inconspicuous since I am supposed to be quietly rooting for the two ladies who were the stars there.
I reached the venue around 8.30pm and the two ladies were already performing there so I settled down at a table and ordered a glass of vodka lime as my starter drink. The crowd was a sizeable thirty-plus from where I could see, with one long table of middle-aged working adults celebrating a birthday. Other tables include a couple of families, a few couples and a few small cliques of friends. Some of them seemed as if they were already there since 6pm since they already had empty dinner plates on their tables. I already had my dinner before I came so I decided to try some desserts. The ordering was rather difficult because it was a good five minutes before anyone came along with a menu. The lighting at the sitting deck was not very good so I had to strain to see the menu items before settling on "assorted ice-cream" with chocolate hersleys, raspberries, strawberries and some powdery baked apple crumbs nicely-presented in front of me. The dessert was delectable and the portion was quite filling even though the open-air sitting deck was melting the ice-cream faster than I would have wanted it to. It took me a solid 20 minutes to eat through all that and I enjoyed every mouthful of it, especially so since I am both an ice-cream and a chocolate fanatic. Yum~~~ ^__^
(photo source: Firestation Hillside Gastrobar Facebook official site - indoor seating area)

The outdoor seating has quite an impressive variety - including swings, round wooden tables, wicker lounge chairs - all of them unobtrusively blending into the semi-darkness for privacy of the customers. The only thing that I could think of is a little bit extra outdoor lighting decorations to spruce out the ambience of the seating areas beyond the sitting deck. I did not venture into the first and second floor indoors seating areas but they sure looked cozy from the outside even though they have no view of the performance area (which is set at the sheltered sitting deck). Apparently, from what the waiter there had explained, the second floor is available as private rooms for group gatherings too.
(photo source: Firestation Hillside Gastrobar Facebook official site - sitting deck with performance area - this was taken by Victor Tan from another day with different performers)

Kewei and Ein Ein beautifully performed a wide variety of genres, including Bossa Nova, Mandarin contemporary pop, 70 oldies, English contemporary pop, etc, and they took in quite a few song dedications from the customers. Kewei even invited two guest performers (Zijie and Keith (I think)) to chip in and performed a number each. Throughout the two sets which I stayed through, there were still a few patrons streaming in and filling in the tables vacated by some of the early birds. I know Rao Zijie and Clarence Yifa had taken quite a number of photographs and video clips last night so I hope I can somehow grab those from the two of them on Facebook to further illustrate this bar review post.

A few things for my blog readers who wanted to visit the Firestation Hillside Gastrobar:

Parking space is sufficient for about 30 to 40 sedans but the parking area is very dimly lit and tight when nightfall comes. Get an accomplished driver or flag a cab outside along Upper Bukit Timah Road where cabs zoom past every minute.

Presentation of the food was impressive for a bar which usually features more on drinks. Even though I did not order the main dishes, I could see them coming out hot and fresh from the kitchen. Take your time to enjoy as the portions are quite something for the small appetites.

The waiters aren't as sharp as I would have liked - for a small place, it took me quite a while to grab hold of the waiters' attention to order food - they moved too fast and were not looking around enough for customers' requests. I was in a fairly prominent seat but if you are reclined elsewhere, you might have to spot them first and wave harder since they are mostly dressed in black.

The vodka lime was a good size glass portion with strong aftertaste (which I liked) but the Jack Daniel's bourdon on the rocks was a little too bland (a squirt too little bourbon for that amount of ice). Definitely room for improvement in their bourbon drinks at least. I wanted to try their martinis and cocktails but I think I would have drank too much that way. Haha.

The service was polite and respectful when the waiters were finally at the tableside. You can tell from their half-bows when they answer customers' questions and the warm smiles (not the kind of squeezed artificial ones at some mall restaurants). I deliberately held back during my orders to test their patience and they walked through every step (types of drinks, brand names, straight or on the rocks) without a hint of frustration - a major plus to service attitude.

The sound system was excellent and the volume was perfect (kudos to the performers as well) and easy on the ears - they know their audio systems well but I thought one fixed-position hard spotlight with no variation in lighting colour and patterns makes the performance area a little tad boring even though Kewei and Ein Ein were dressed up to the nines for their gigs. I noticed two of those disco-multi-lights on the roof of the sitting deck but it was a pity they did not set it up for some nice lighting effects.

I left the place after Kewei and Ein Ein finished their second set to grab a cab back. No performance review is being done on their singing last night because I was there to enjoy myself and their singing accompaniment, nothing else. I will be heading back to the place again with my friends because I like it and I am sure they will too. ^__^

P.S To Kewei & Ein Ein: "I did it my......way....." hahaha. (one of the highlights last night)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review on Kewei & Friends Showcase @ Esplanade Waterfront! (Updated)

Quality Photos Section (Updated on 20 July 2009 1041hrs):

I don't want to ill-treat my blog readers who have been following my blog all these while so even in the middle of the night, I was sourcing for quality photos of the above-mentioned event from those elite photographers present at the venue and two of them generously offered their photographs for display. Thank you so much to Jean and Ivan from Facebook! ^__^ Here we go!

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) Looks who's enjoying herself with the guitar. Hahaha.

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) Ein Ein was one brave soul last night. She was feeling unwell and specifically requested extra backup vocals but she did everything she could in her condition and delivered her own song pretty well. Keyboardists can sing well too.

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) This is the cool looking guitarist with a fantastic backdrop of the Singapore skyline. He did not speak a single word but he was very steady in providing the music accompaniment for the whole night.

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) "Take-away" and "Take-a-sing" (aka Tay Kewei and Tay Kexin). Their voices blend in surprisingly well even though their vocal ranges were different. Loved their duets.

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) Kewei and her friend enjoying themselves onstage, captivating the audience. The praises were still pouring in on Kewei's facebook account right now.

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) Dawn who was one of the few guest performers who made a proper introduction of who she was. She has that star quality and presence.

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) Kewei and Leon performing in the cool evening breeze at the Esplande Outdoor Theater. It was a perfect evening to be watching such a beautiful showcase.

(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) The talented percussionist at the back area of the stage. He seemed to possess tireless energy with his hands for the entire evening.

(Photo credits to Lim Yaohui) Kewei beaming in the glowing stage lights. I kept hearing some of the girls saying "She is so pretty! She is so pretty!" Need I say more? Haha.
(Photo credits to Ivan Ivanified) Kewei and Alfred in a Mandarin duet. Alfred has a very lush and manly voice, which is very rare amongst the singers these days and the audience loved his style of singing.
(Photo Credits to Jean Qingwen Loo / ) If anyone was totally enthralled by last night's showcase, this young little boy was thoroughly mesmerized by it.

Blog section:

I admit my camera is probably the worst lens present there. Initially, I did not want to even upload the photos but I decided to continue until I can grab some better shots from some pro photographers who were using those night-vision camera lens. For now, bear with me with all these sub-standard shots (I minimized them to avoid all those horrible colour warps)

I arrived at the Esplanade Outdoor Theater at around 5.30pm and saw Kewei speaking to the sound and lighting crew. Seeing that she was busy, I did not want to approach to say hi (even though she did sang the song Closer To Me later on..haha) so I perched myself at one of the seats and blend myself in with the twenty people already seated there.
The showcase started promptly at 7.30pm and Kewei featured quite a number of her friends in between her solo performances. This one shows Leon Lim. Kewei herself sang as many as ten songs on her own.
This one is Kewei singing with backup vocals from her friend. I think her name is Ginny Lim.This one is called Dawn Wong who has a handful of supporters and fans present and they cheered her on.
This is Ein Ein, the keyboardist who had at least 3 song compositions sung by the other performers and she herself sang one of her own work as well.
This is Kexin Tay, Kewei's younger sister and both of them sang two duets onstage.
This is Kitty, a FM 93.3 radio deejay, who was also a guest performer. She chatted alot onstage and claimed it was due to her frayed nerves onstage - her maiden performance at a live setting.
This is Alfred Sim, who was also a top 20 contestant for the One Million Star Season 5 Singapore PK Challenge competition. He also sang two songs - one solo and one duet with Kewei.

The whole showcase ended at 9.30pm sharp and I made my way home as I was already quite tired.

Review Section:

I'll go through the smaller not-so-nice things before the larger nice ones and I'll cut to the chase.

Not-so-nice thing 1 - The arrangement of the songs were a little dull. I know Kewei had already mentioned that it was a showcase of new song compositions but as far as I could see, there were at least 10 different groups of people in the audience and not all of them seem to want to absorb new songs readily so there could have been an alternate arrangement between new and familiar songs to keep the atmosphere of the outdoor theater up and more cheery.

Not-so-nice thing 2 - The accompanying friends of Kewei were not given proper introductions as to who exactly they were, what they do and why they were onstage to sing. For almost all of them, the audience only managed to catch their names. Although singing is a major draw for the showcase, having actual personalities (rather than just names) will actually help people to remember the songs better.

Not-so-nice thing 3 - The music accompaniment sometimes compete with the vocal singing instead of complementing the singing portions - 歌声与伴奏争辉则光华不续. Live settings usually face this problem but the presence of a good sound coordinator would have solved this problem but adjusting the various instruments sound output accordingly based on the song so that maximum enjoyment is secured.

Not-so-nice thing 4 - Kewei wanted to advertise for her upcoming album next year but she did not fully grasp the opportunity to commandeer the finale song properly. Maybe she was tired or too excited but her 如果 song sounded rushed and a bit garbled and did not leave the kind of indelible impression she had wanted. For her duet with Alfred, her singing drowned out Alfred's at certain portions when it should have had a smoother blend instead.

Not-so-nice thing 5 - Some of Kewei's friends, for example, Leon and Dawn, did not sound clear enunciating their lyrics and at certain parts seemed to be rushing their performances. I believe the songs would have been more enjoyable if they had taken their time with it. Perhaps there was a serious time limit to the concert, if so, then less is more could have been applicable.

Not-so-nice thing 6 - I noticed that whenever the guest performers were waiting for their turns or had finished their performance turns, they were literally standing at the side of the stage or even sitting at the side stairway to the stage itself. Although it's just a showcase, I thought it was the organizers' fault for not arranging at least some chairs for them to sit on. Some thoughtfulness would have been nice.

Alright. Now for the Nice things of the Showcase.

Nice thing 1 - I like how Kewei refrained from being pushy like some of the upstart bands which performed at such outdoor settings. The latter always seemed to try to rouse the audience into all sorts of cheering and actions but they forget their place (those upstarts, though hardworking, ain't famous enough to command the audience yet). Kewei was intelligent enough to know the difference and use such rousings sparingly to avoid alienating the crowd too much.

Nice thing 2 - The guest performers were of a reasonable standard in singing skills and presentation (except the radio deejay who was spared because she was not trained in singing unlike the others). It gives a certain measure of credibility to the showcase though I would have loved to see some of the guest performers smile a little bit more.

Nice thing 3 - The showcase did highlight quite a number of local song compositions, which give very good exposure to the audience present about what the local songwriters are capable of. Although some of the songs' notes were a little hard to grasp, the lyrics were meaningful and the songs sounded good in general.

Nice thing 4 - The entire feel of the showcase was that of sincerity, which is very good because humility coupled with the courage to publicise the local works will go a long way. Singapore is still quite unweaned from foreign song compositions but given the recent years' trend of local compositions being given increasingly spotlight, such showcases are definitely encouraged and should be repeated at opportunate timings and settings again.

Nice thing 5 - I enjoyed myself there (even though I am quite a hard person to please in such areas) and I am really looking forward to see more of such performances. With practice and experience, I really hope to see each subsequent showcase better than its predecessor.

End of review and end of blog post. ^__^

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eating & Swimming with The Changed Man, Showcase @ The Esplanade Waterfront Event, Night at The Clinic Event, Vivace! 09 Concert Auditions Event

Eating & Swimming With The Changed Man: I was called out last Saturday morning to join The Changed Man for lunch and a swim so he drove both of us to Adam Road to try out the famous Nasi Lemak stall but the queue was so long that we decided to try prawn noodles instead. After about 10 minutes of queuing, we got ourselves two of the following prawn noodles. It's my first time trying and I must say the prawn soup was delicious and the prawns were fresh but there was little else to vary the taste and the fish cake and bean sprouts were totally overwhelmed by the prawn soup base. Still, I was grateful for the lunch and washed it down with sugar cane drinks and chatter with The Changed Man about his recent adventures in scuba-diving and his upcoming attendance of the Stehanie Sun concert that very evening.

After lunch, we ventured to the Jurong East Swimming Complex because The Changed Man has never set foot in it and he was complimenting how serene the environment around the Olympic pool was and we made a number of laps inside before we hopped over to the Wave Pool so he could try bobbing in the artificial waves and rain. The crowd was sparse due to the H1N1 flu scare so we had very little problems with overcrowding there.

The day ended at the nearby IMM where we had some desserts at the Hongkong Cafe before he had to rush home to prepare to attend the concert. I went home to have a shower and a nap.

Event: Showcase @ The Esplanade Waterfront Facebook is useful in a way because I get invited to all sorts of music-related events and this one features Kewei, Kexin and a number of local singers whom I would like to spend a Sunday evening to listen to. I would be rushing down from another appointment this coming Sunday but given the programme and the reputed consistent good singing from these singers, I think the effort will be worthwhile. Hopefully, I can get some good seats and take a few photos to upload here as momentos too! ^__^

Event: Night At The Clinic Amusing poster, right? I thought it was pretty cool for them to modify it into a thematic poster for this music event, featuring one of our prominent music teachers in Singapore, Mr Peter Tan and his cadre of students who will be performing on 8 August from 9pm. I am really keen on going but I will have to figure out a way to see if I can reschedule appointments for that Saturday because it is the National Day weekend so there could be clash with other plans as well.

Event: Vivace! 09 Concert Auditions @ Music Dreamer Cafe @ Marina Square I am not exactly a participant for this event because only those from 18 to 25 can participate in the closed-door auditions to compete for placings to perform for a charity concert, but I would like to go and have a look to see who are the talented brave and charitable ones who will attempt this event organized by Gefang Academy (whose director of music is Huang Zhiyang - Campus Superstar Season 1 Male Champion). The poster looks very well-made and I hope to give some good blog coverage of this interesting event for my readers too.

Blog Modifications & Updates:

There are some changes or updates on this humble blog of mine for the information of my readers.

1) New Blog Feature - I have signed up for Plurk and thus this is a new platform to keep my blog readers updated on my shorter thoughts and doings whenever I am online but not really drafting full blog posts. I am still trying to get used to this new form of communication and I hope I can do a good job of telling how things are going in a shorter and more convenient form. I will of course still continue with my usual blog posts as regularly as I can.

2) Blog Roll Changes
- Jiamin (blogger) has decided to stop updating. It's not known if she would continue blogging as she did not say when.
- Shawn Tok (CSS 2)'s website went dead without any explanation.
- Keely (CSS 2) has not been updating her blog since mid-June 2009.
- Natasha (blogger) is temporarily stopping blogging activities for a month.
- Elaine Ng (CSS 2) blog url is updated
- Xing Yu (entertainment news blogger) blog url is updated
- Aijia Cai (blogger) is added to blog roll
- Shelly Chua (CSS 3) blog url is updated

3) Blog Music Player Changes

I have decided to try something different from contemporary Mandarin pop songs for a change so that my blog readers who are unfamiliar with this new genre of music can experience the beauty and passion of Flamenco Music.

What is Flamenco? Below is a short write up taken from wikipedia:

Flamenco is a Spanish musical genre with origins in Andalusia and a term that refers both to a musical genre, known for its intricate rapid passages, and a dance genre characterized by its audible footwork. The origins of the term are unclear. The word Flamenco, which applies to the song, the dance and the guitar, did not come into use until the 19th century.

Flamenco embodies a complex musical and cultural tradition. Although considered part of the culture of Spain, flamenco actually originates from one of Spain's regions: Andalusia. However, other areas, mainly Extremadura and Murcia, have contributed to the development of several flamenco musical forms, and a great number of renowned flamenco artists have been born in other territories of the country. It is generally acknowledged that flamenco grew out of the unique interplay of native Arabic, Andalusian, Sephardic, and Gypsy cultures that existed in Andalusia prior to and after the Reconquest. Latin American and especially Cuban influences have also been important in shaping the rumba flamenco form. Flamenco is the music of the gypsies and played in their social community. Andalusian people who grew up around gypsies and the life were also accepted as "flamencos" (Paco de Lucía).

That's it for this blog post. Will update again as soon as I can. Time to enjoy my Saturday off day! ^__^

Sunday, July 12, 2009

孙燕姿2009年巡迴演唱会 - 新加坡室内体育馆 (Photo Credits to Sylvia Ng of Facebook)

I could not attend Yanzi's concert on yesterday night but I managed to make contact with a friendly Facebook contact who managed to upload some very beautiful photos of the concert for our viewing pleasure so I decided to share them here with her permission. Thank you, Sylvia, for your generosity for the readers of my blog who are keen fans of Sun Yanzi! ^__^

Enjoy and try to imagine what happened there then!