Monday, October 29, 2007

Radio One: 40 Years of Remakes

Honestly, remakes suck. Correction, remakes that do not pay homage to the original, while representing the current singer aren't worth listening to. Though fitting to the description, "emo," "acoustic" and "bossa" remakes have been prevalent so recently, that I think my ears would bleed if I have to endure one of them in a bookstore again. Too much of the bandwagon, I guess.

So I discovered a collection of old pop songs from the last forty years, one per year - interpreted by today's more popular acts. It's nice that *most* songs on the album were popular enough to catch the mainstream consciousness, and the artists featured try not to duplicate the actual songs.

Who's in there you ask? The Klaxons, McFly, Foo Fighters, Lily Allen, Kaiser Chiefs, Amy Winehouse, Paolo Nutini, Keane, Mika with Armand Van Helden, The Raconteurs and more. And who did they cover? The Beatles, Sting, The Rolling Stones, The Stylistics, Madonna, Cat Stevens, Britney Spears, and Ace Of Base. There's a lot of great interpretations in there, but if I would pick a handful of songs to force you to take a peek at the album, it would be Careless Whisper (George Michael), No Diggity (Blackstreet), The Power Of Love (Huey Lewis and The News) and You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate).

However with such a varied array of choices, there are some disappointments. My supreme letdown was Your Song (Elton John) as interpreted by The Streets. There was really no Mike SKinner doing that song, worse, he's better of singing, or speaking garage. Mutya Buena did a pass on Tracy Chapman's classic Fast Car, but I personally prefer David Usher's 2004 version better as it offered a more electronic departure from the acoustic original.

Ooh, it's all new (sort of) music all over again here: Radio One
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Maybe I Can Fix My Car Now

So I ended up buying a bookcase from IKEA. Yey, but it took up all my baggage allowance - boohoo you, no goodies for you. Surprisingly, it only took 15 minutes for a Luddite like me to build a bookcase.

How did I do it? I bought myself a box of tools from IKEA as well, laid out all the materials I needed, and the manual was pretty easy to follow. No words were in it though, everything was illustrated. A bolt here, a nut there, a little pounding here, and voila, a bookcase. Look at the smug smile on this carpenter to be at the end of the picture series.

Here's the fitted out bookcase, with books (duh) and IKEA accessories (picture frames, lamps, pencil holders) I got from a year ago. Isn't that neat!

Like I said, I did the tourist thing in Singapore - the landmarks were all too familiar, the people came in droves, and all cameras were busy clicking. Sentosa, Merlion Park, Esplanade, which were all teeming with Indian tourists having their day off from Deepavali and Hari Raya.

Everything is almost walkable in Singapore, which is cute, but still tiring. I lost 5 lbs from walking all day, but maybe that's just because I took my weight in the 9th floor of the park I was staying at. I'd like to think it was from all the walking.

So, let's just do a rundown of the pics I took:

Excuse me!

This is me trying to squeak in between the "ribs" of a dragon. Nice job Sentosa architects, how authentic. Good job for me too, I actually fit in between.

I know it's here somewhere....

Surely I could be missing some important landmark here....


Watch out! Behind Me!


Here I am taking advantage of unsuspecting tourists. But hey, he started it.

Egg chair! Shotgun

What happens when you put 3 guys together in a rain-soaked morning in Singapore? Why, spend loads of time in IKEA, yey. Here's one of us enjoying a wacky seat. That's craziness that those Swedish meatballs can't cure. *drool* Swedish meatballs with gravy and cranberries *drool*


But that's not to say I totally wasted my camera for nothing - I took nice pictures too. They're here - . Here's one of my favorites: The dolphin show in Sentosa just wasn't my cup of tea, and I was already extremely exhausted by that afternoon. I yawn, looked up and saw a great view:

Looking up
Friday, October 19, 2007

The Singapore Soundtrack: Jack's Mannequin

I think it's the first time I went on a trip not carrying headphones - and admitting that music is an integral piece of every trip, it felt like I was travelling for a week with only 2 days' worth of underwear (ooh, bad analogy). It was also the first time I was travelling with friends - never really backpacked with a group before, but this trip was really all about becoming a tourist, and not a traveler.

Back to the music, who could resist HMV? Aside from the fact that it was just two doors away from the flat where I lived, it had racks and racks and racks of CDs that were screaming "Take! Me! Home!". Fortunately for my wallet and quickly depleting EQ, I brought a list. I had to pass on Frou Frou's and Jewel's debut albums (30 SGD each!), but brought home the double-disc retrospective of Garbage, and finally Dizzy Up The Girl by The Goo Goo Dolls.

However, the Singapore Soundtrack honors go to Jack's Mannequin - last year's discovery, thanks to One Tree Hill (there is some good coming from that show, I just realised). Their only album so far, Everything In Transit, is a breath of fresh air. Not the cliche type, but the one that makes you feel you're in a rush swimming and you run up the surface to gasp for air. The music is a persevering alchemy of piano-rock that continuously pounds you with its percussions and almost-spoken lyrics.

Everything in this album is great! Piano-punk at its most listenable.

Just as a background, Jack's Mannequin is fronted by Andrew McMahon, a leukemia survivor, and this was the first record after his recovery. If I was on the verge of dying, and miraculously banished my disease, I would not be singing the "praise-be" of gospel, nor moping away self-pity with an "I could've died" anthems. I'd probably be like this: a little chirpy - walking with a spring in my step, but a the same time, a little drugged, rabid and continually shouting phrases. Strange, I know, but give me a break.

I've talked about the single The Mixed Tape, as it was in the best songs of 2006, so I'll skip that one. There are a lot great singles in the album - McMahon writes lyrics as brilliant as Carraba from Dashboard Confessional, but less wounded. He talks about long distance relationships, a destined love, and weeping alone. MY favorite has got to be "I'm Ready", a spirited morning song, laced with spoken dialogue. Imagine a bunch of lyrics just flying out, someone talking, all while Jack shouts "I'm ready!". Perfect wake up song.

Oh dear, I've written yet another long blog entry, but I know it's worth it. If you're looking for a burst of piano-rock energy, a chirpy happy melody, and forlorn lyrics, Jack's Mannequin is your guy.
Whoops, wanted to mention that. Just got in SIngapore last night, on Hari Raya, and well, it was pretty fun. The weather is not really too cooperative, as the rains choose to pour right smack our walking tour. To pass away the time, I ended up buying a bookcase from IKEA. Drat. Will let you know how that goes; seems like a job for Toolman Tim...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Save The World (Part Two) - Live Simply

This is part two of sharing tips on helping Mother Earth breathe a little bit easier.

5. Skip the bag - Paper or plastic? How about none of the above? Skip the bags, and feel better. FGF: 7/10.

6. Check your tires - Proper tire inflation can aid in better mileage by around 3%. FGF: 7/10.

7. Plan a right-turn route - Whenever practical, avoid making left turns; the time spent idling while waiting to turn burns fuel and costs millions each year. If you plan your route correctly, you can easily avoid the left-turns and stop lights. FGF: 3/10.

8. Plant a tree. FGF 9/10.

9. Live simply - We can't all buy carbon offsets, drive a hybrid, live in a green building, but we can learn from the Buddhists: Live simply. Meditate. Consume less. Think more. Get to know your neighbors. Borrow when you need to, and lend when asked. FGF: 10/10.
Sunday, October 07, 2007

Save The World (Part One)

Last April 9, Time Magazine published an issue called The Global Warming Survival Guide - 51 Things You Can Do To Make A Difference. They list down things we can do to help the environment, and I saved that copy to share here in my blog.

Time rates these little acts of kindness to Mother Earth on three criteria: impact, time horizon, and feel-good factor. I'm picking out the easier things to do, with a high feel-good factor(FGF). Come on, make yourself feel better, by knowing your making the environment feel a wee bit better too.

1. Work at home - My favorite, haha. Seriously, if not required, why bother going to the office, waste parking space, gas, and contribute to the 2-hour jam at EDSA? FGF: 9/10.

2. Open a window - Hot in the house? Instead of running the AC, why not spend quality al fresco time with your folks at the porch? FGF: 9/10.

3. Pay your bills online - This one I just did. If you have constant internet access anyway, why bother getting (often delayed) billing statements in your pigeon hole? View and archive them online, then bank-permitting, pay the bills without leaving your desk and save paper, and courier incidentals in the process. FGF: 8/10.

4. Don't standby, shut it off - Instead of leaving TVs, DVDs, and computers on standby, shut them off if you don't mean to use them anytime soon. A maximum of 75% of all electricity consumed in a house is from appliances on standby. How much more for a cube farm? FGF: 4/10.

To be continued...
My mind is speeding right now, so I'll be brief. Or lacking coherence; you decide.

My boss made me go home yesterday for a stupid, worthless meeting. Missed out on a weekend in Sagada, drat.

Had a CouchSurfer drop by the weekend. Had loads of fun, and got to go to Baguio.

Here's my guest framed by the gates of San Agustin

Needles! Lovely 20 degree weather!

Got my Aussie visa this morning - but I couldn't purchase Oz Open tickets. Darned things are all sold out.

Almost got a heart attack from trying to work too hard. My project is going downhill.

Oh, you might want to try the deluxe bus from Victory Liner - they're 29 seats in one bus, with stewardess service and snack. The bus comes with a loo. As of today, the schedules are:

Lots of space!

MNL-BGO: 1315h, 2315h, 0015h
BGO-MNL: 1015h, 1115h, 1315h, 2315h, 0015h

Take a leak with a view! Make sure you aim well though...

Travel time is roughly 5.5 hours, and the ride is 600 pesos.

I better shut up now, because my head hearts, I mean hurts.