01 The Write Elements: 2015

Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Midsummer Night's Scream - R. L. Stine - BIG NO




In sites like Shelfari they can ask "do you recommend this for anyone"? People, I don't hate you enough.
It's a no. Just No. I don't swear but this time F*** NO. Heed my warning.
I had to put down my food - I was having a very nice cake which I lost all appetite for - before I gagged on it and just stare at this in utter disbelief.
I don't usually - or ever often - read horror but now I know why. I can never trust one again.
He ruined one of my fave plays and I absolutely CANNOT forgive Stine for that.
Cause if you're gonna ride on the back of an amazing, well-thought-out, moving, memorable Shakespearean piece like Midsummer Night's Dream to do a horror novel - which, might I add, don't get me started on how put-off I was at how left-field it was from a Literature(!!!) Great...at least put some back into making it a worthwhile plot.
Talk about shallow and vapid. Yeah the deaths were horrible and gruesome because it's so twisted and visual but where's the depth?! I'm back to remembering those awfully cheesy slasher flicks where there's the killer in a hockey mask with his axe and the track is going "shing-shing-shing". Why? That's the limit of the imagination of the author. Zero. Zilch.
And the potions which were so immensely important in the plot that Claire kept gettin wrong, but insisted on using till the very freaking end?! I wanted to throw one at her, showering her with flakes of the she-thinks-it's-the-love-but-actually-not potion.
The biggest issue I have though are the damn CHARACTERS. My mind went further to create personalities for them since - oh I don't know, they had none! I rarely ever read about characters - ALL - who are That one-dimensional. That's the only word for it! 1-D. And instead of leaving it to just the four main - ugh - you add the bimbo, cause there must always be a bimbo in every guy-written book? Doesn't it hurt you, Stine, to write something like this? Let alone putting it out there for your readers. And your publishers, I'm sorry, but what were you thinking? I'm embarrassed for you - for the story!!
Apparently Stine is a great horror writer...so he rode on his own name to produce this? Even when I was 5 I gave my characters - who I consider my FRIENDS - some thought! And it ruined Puck for me, completely! A freaky bearded psychopath. Really?
Don't waste your time or brain cells on something so trivial. Not even if you were tortured.
Now not going to touch the book again except to dump it back to the library and hope it gets buried somewhere deep and dark. Where it belongs. And it's so not a compliment.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Magic Rises - Ilona Andrews - HOLY SHIT


The book that makes you read it again. Heck read the whole series from the start!
That is seriously what I'm doing right now, though I know it's usually reserved for the finales - I personally don't believe and think there should never be a final book.
Ilona is one of those authors who you can't get enough of.
When I saw the book I was in utter disbelief, and I was too exhilarated to sink my claws into it. 
I felt like how a cute, chubby kid had sniffed out the cookie jar. 
(Maybe it's not a good idea to put claws and chubby kid in the same thought...)
Needless to say it's been a long while since I read the series but I found it so easy to get back into the flow of things because of how well the story was told. The plot was centred around the Pack needing a rare medicine to prevent the shapeshifter children from dying if they went Loup. Worthwhile cause to go headfirst into another crazy adventure - though I truly think this takes the Panacea. The problem had been a long time coming since there were instances in previous books - like with Julie, so that was a refreshing new tale to tell and it added more characters from other packs as well as a mystery to be weaved into it. The plot didn't take much of a backseat thankfully, it keeps you going; even with the characters taking up your brain capacity, with the addition of the oogly-boogly freaky shifter (no not the weredolphins - which pretty much ruined dolphins for me, unfortunately) that jumped in out of nowhere, you're not bored I can tell you that much. Especially at the very end, GIMME THE NEXT BOOK. Heehee.
Now to continue with what's important. Truly. Them Characters.
I love Kate, I truly do. But when you read through you'll suddenly be shocked at how  emotionally charged-up she is. And you know she doesn't act like this since her emotional wall is built so high. Her thoughts and feelings were more how someone my age reacts to someone they love. Absolutely emotional turmoil going on here for her AND you - I can assure you of that. There will be moments, especially if you're female, where you don't think and just have a string of "no no no no no" playing across your mind. Then you cry. Then you get frustrated. Then you hate things. Then - for me - you feel for Kate and H*** (who turned out to be an interesting -yeah we'll leave it at that- villain, but still a sexy *ahem* guy who should be scorned, though thankfully was finally brought up in the flesh)
Personally on a deeper level I believe Kate acted that way - not only to keep the story moving - to show how much she truly loves Curran - who you would agree through 60% of the book was supposedly a total a** (I'm adding all the weight I can muster behind this word; and I won't be ranting on this because it'll never end. I don't even know what to think of him anymore!!).
You will absolutely feel what she feels, even when it's absolutely not rational, and when you finally find out the "plan", if you can really call it that ...it's a "guffaw"-impossible-I-didn't-catch-it-before-now moment. Though I still don't like what he did!
In other words, Ilona still writes where you can FEEL - laugh/ache/cry (really!) - for the characters you love. I do wish for more on Derek, who now has a looming, dark cloud hovering over him. I've often wondered what will happen to him and even when the book ended I still didn't get a sense of what Ilona has planned for his future.
SPOILSIES then there's Doolittle. Gosh I love the good doctor but once you get to that specific time when he just Looks at Kate...let's just say my opinion somewhat changed. Way to be grateful.
I won't add a name here because I would be as cruel as the worst villain in literary history if I did. But I do have to say I was heartbroken when I was reading the end of the book. You don't expect this rollercoaster of emotion to happen throughout this wonderful story as well as when IT happens. The death..was uncalled for. The impact really hits you and it's worse if you love the character - I find them heroic like any good m****** are.

Everything in Magic Rises just gets you going and doesn't want to let you go.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Tell the Story to Its End - Simon P Clark - did NOT finish

Image from Google
It was my mum that picked up this book for me, quote unquote The Title Was Interesting.
Reviewing it from the outside is easy. I would say to immediately pick it up, whether you're adverse to seemingly-hauntingly creepy stories. You can imagine so many amazing things that could come from the cover graphics and title.
Just look at this liner and any bibliophile would be intrigued. Your heartstrings are pulled with that quote alone.
Image from The Social Potato
The book certainly had a unique idea that went into it - for a winged creature Eren to feed off of stories told by Oli, or possibly anyone else it can find. Now that is the selling point. That's what readers are here for.
Instead of us witnessing the struggles of a "hero" and his fight to remain in control. It's Basically the devious and powerful entity being all devious and powerful, whilst weakening a defenceless little boy who just wants to feel strong - ouch.
It's my working theory that if you have the tolerance of a saint...try it *sense my cracking voice with pained fake enthusiasm*
But honestly, I wanted to fling the book right back to the library Returns right after borrowing it.
I'm left in a super confused state. I read from the front, and thinking the title was creative I read from the back, groaning in agony, read in clumps of pages, random quotes, attempting to follow the story along, re-reading a part again, brows furrowing, slamming the book in frustration five times, looking at the scenery, looking at the book cover, looking for other reviews, questioning where the minutes went...
That was my process for this book.
I. Didn't. Get. It. And I tried to. I really, truly tried to. The writing doesn't do the idea justice, if the idea was totally substantial at all. If the protagonist was meant to be unmemorable and plain so he can get easily sucked in to Eren's temptations, then it was done perfectly. Zero character development; I didn't even feel the need for a "gang" to be with Oli, even though he made friends who eventually didn't help him At All. The characters were added just for the sake of it.
The plot took forever to get to what happened to the dad - which was the "point" of moving to the relative's place - so much so you can form dozens of your own opinions and still not have it clearly explained, so you're left hanging. It's not a movie. Hanging on till the last moment with snippets of "don't mention your dad to me now" outbursts, Because that may be the way to keep a "gentle" reminder that Oli and his dad were "suffering"...not helping.
The idea was to also give the readers views and sequences between fantasy and reality - showed by the different fonts used - but honestly the "fantasy" bit Till the end - where there was finally something happening with Oli, but won't spoil - was drivel! You don't have to always explain everything in dialogue form that makes it more painful. Where's the art of showing your readers what's in your head/going on in the characters' world? Please, I used the "show, not tell" line my English teacher pounded into our heads for essay writing. Don't make me do that.

As a writer, please, tell me the story you want to tell me till the end...just not like this.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

PASIR RIS LIBRARY IS OPEN!

#pasirrispl is finally back up and running.
After the mall underwent its biggest overhaul and practically renovated itself into a whole wavy, by-the-sea look, bits and pieces of it started back up mid this year. Most of the mall is complete, and now even the front entrance is finally open (you don't have to cross all the way from the MRT or the left side of the mall anymore).
The library revived itself and brought on a fresh, sparkly white interior [designer], mirroring the library at Somerset.
Duh, I gotta go check it out.
And duh, I gotta max out my library cards.
FYI book lovers, there are no gurneys around. A library assistant informed me that they want to encourage readers to put books they don't wish to read back onto the shelves they found them from. Great initiative, I hope it lasts.


I think this is really the first time I've posted my picture on my blog - it won't traumatise you I promise. 

This is the inside looking out (up, rather).
Located at the AV area.

So we start from here. 
Past this beautiful bookcase (which holds the New Arrivals and latest Returns and whatnot) is the entrance. There are hard seats and uniquely shaped stools peppering the place. One cluster is what my mum and I sat on in the first picture. 
Cause there had to be an official opening sign, seen from the same place. 

Meet the reservation/collection podium. Very futuristic I gotta say. Though I haven't tried it yet I'm dying to. Haha. I hope someone does and tells me how the process is :) 

This is the view of the stairs leading up to the SECOND FLOOR *squeals* of the library. This is the only way to go up to the teens section (I thought the AV CD area had another way going up, but nope).

I absolutely adore these glass seating pods. OH MY GOSH. 
Three hang up in the teens section - which also has elongated steps for us to sit at one end and the usual hard chairs at another - while one more is placed at the AV section (see I keep calling it by different names? haha bored).

I apologise if the quality is bad, I uploaded straight into blogspot. Took it with my Snapchat account. This is what it looks like from the stairs leading up to the teens section, from the serious adults/non-fiction/info books to the children's books/the fun side.

I focused on the light too much so the rest of the picture looks dark, but it's all lit well enough. The glowing shelves say 'hi' and are here to abduct you into the wonderful word of books. 
Took this from further down the entrance, near the glass pods.

Appropriate slogan. Yes it's in the Teens section. 
*Insert 'awwwww' moment here* 

Gorgeous giant wall of words back downstairs. Underneath are more seats and shelves.

Past the wall, to the absolute end near the Chinese books, is what everyone is ultimately looking for: the TRUE seating/studying/quiet/chill corner. The long grey line near the shelf on the right are a bunch of semi-enclosed cushioned seats. Good for anyone wanting a secluded place and to spend a longer-than-the-usual-long time there. 



Now these are placed at the end of shelves. I think it's their initiative to show what the shelf is about. Creative and adorable.

See, it just says "general non-fic" 

But this is here! 



Language

Design and art

Travel

I've never been happier to find out that one of my biggest loves is alive and bringing joy to many, all over again. I do sorely miss the old look, but I think this will appeal to the next generation and that's what I really want, for people to visit the library as much as they humanly can. 

I hope more people will want to come by after seeing this post. For those who've visited Book Heaven, lemme know what you think of it! :) 

To end my post, a hit of nostalgia. 

Taken from NLB's instagram (called publiclibrarysg - yeah, I had an interesting time finding the account).


Friday, 27 November 2015

#SINGAPORE #STREET #STYLE

Yeaaaahhhhhhh so if people know me, I can dress street but I can't be street. 
That being said, I was editor-in-chief this time. 
To talk about my mag...

I hope you enjoy! haha



SO much issue to get the Ed's Note together. I had written an essay and rewrote it 5 times. I just couldn't rap (PUN) my head around it. I looked at almost all the magazines we had in storage, which included the seniors' works. But I'm extremely proud of how it turned out. That picture though...... 
And then came the longboarder. So there was issue getting one even though some members wanted one, so I sourced around and found a kind guy who's the owner of his own store, though it specialises in making ramps than skateboards, skateboarding, etc. being a skateboarder. So they didn't want the idea and I had to roll with having a junior's friend (who was really nice, and I hope I conveyed him in a great light). IT WAS SO HOT BLISTERING THAT DAY. He was sweating - not perspiring, Sweating! So was I and I had my hoodie on to keep my face from melting from exposure. I have to say I LOVE my pictures, they look fantastic, so it was worth it! And that skateboard and glove shot was just randomly done at the very end of the video interview BUT it worked perfectly for the sudden huge banner picture in the layout. Thankfully. 

Kay... Blogger chick. Fashion is also not one of my strong suits so when I had to interview a blogger and transcribe after... it took awhile. Not to say she wasn't a sincere person. She is, hence the article. I didn't want to just take a normal spin on a fashion article and knowing me, I had to absolutely bring out her best side and I was grateful she gave me such sweet quotes. It matters more to me, and her, after all. 

Voxpops - or my Strangers on the Street (I was inspired by something I heard on a show but I can't remember the details). That day I went out with my photog to Orchard (where it had to rain, duh), Arab Street and Bugis to find strangers. I was really worried in the first few moments that I would find anyone but when I did, boy, did I run for the hills! I chased after all, stalked pretty much most of them, and got everyone to say yes. Most are truly kind to us and they were forthcoming in sharing about themselves (the irritating part was that this was easier than my damn internship. How is a school magazine letting me get so many quotes!) The Instagram layout is to die for! Getting the info on it, yeah you can die too I (moved from the photoshopssssss to the indesign). Hahaha. I had to photoshop the Catch Online logo and take out just the C and fit it to the tiny TINY circle (profile pic); edit the overexposed/slightly dull/orange/dark pictures and fit them into the slots (it doesn't do the Instagram thing where you can put a long pic in, after all haha); and then I had to caption it myself (my gosh that was the weirdest thing because I had to be funny and think like everyone else). 

I was happy to get a chance to 'chat' with ShiGGa Shay, even though it was through email. Though I was sad I couldn't meet him or take original pictures, them pictures are AWESOME. The black and white gives everything a new feel. 

Ah MHC MHC MHC... Nick was so sweet. The others... MY GOSH the waiting time for them to show up for the interview (which ended up being through Google Doc instead). TWO hours I waited for the collective to show up; and one lives just 10 minutes away from the interview location. But the articles turned out great. I had issues with how they were gonna be so I took inspiration from one of my articles in the newspaper. 


I INTERVIEWED MY fave EX TEACHER. Actually he was meant to be interviewed by my classmates unfortunately. That meant I couldn't do a video interview. So when the team mentioned they wanted a busker, I was happy to ask him - all I had to do was hope he said yes. Though it was meant for someone else to do I ended up being the one to do it (they were too 'busy'). Glad I did though. His article was the easiest to write by far, and I bullet-trained straight through it. I actually am quite excited to show him. Better share it on Facebook now 

Monday, 26 October 2015

CATCH for October

Ah the oh-so-wonderful school projects. With one glorious issue down, it's been a week into the second issue.
What I've uploaded are some pictures of the PDF of our "humanitarian"-themed magazine.
This includes
- the CATCH cover (which wasn't done by me, I'm just so bad with layouts);
- a guessing game where you have to figure out which city/country the Before and After shots came from;
- an feature article about Gautam Joseph, a volunteer at Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), which also has a VIDEO I shot and edited;
- another feature on Sherlyn Khong, a co-founder of acts29;
- news bites;
- infographic on the Syrian refugee crisis;
- Travel with Purpose, featuring countries like Bangladesh India, Nepal, Ethiopia (all mine heehee), where you can do humanitarian work and still find fun activities;
- and one of my games, my original Crossword :D

 




Thursday, 30 July 2015

Magician Shin Lim

I wanted his story. I was thrilled to have found him myself, it's the first time I got an interviewee going through so many means. Haha


A young man with a Singapore connection is working his magic all over the world.
The clip of his latest amazing performance has gone viral, attracting more than 6 million views on You- Tube.

The Canadian-born, Singapore-raised magician Shin Lim, whose parents were originally from Singapore, kick-started his unconventional career after picking up a simple card trick when he was 16 and he has not looked back since.
Although the 23-year-old turned professional only three years ago, he has won awards from prestigious organisations like Fechter’s Finger Flicking Frolic and International Brotherhood of Magicians.
He is also the reigning World Champion in Close-up Card Magic at the International Federation of Magic Societies, considered the Olympics of magic.
But it is his recent appearance on US reality TV competition Penn & Teller: Fool Us that has really cast a spell on the public.
Hosted by Jonathan Ross, the show features magicians from across the US performing tricks in front of famed US comedy-magic duo Penn & Teller, also known as Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller.
If the pair cannot explain how a trick was done and are left dumb- struck, the magician wins a five- star trip to Las Vegas to perform as the opening act in Penn & Teller’s show at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino, starting in August. 
Lim fooled them all right, with his six-minute self-choreographed routine called the Dream Act, which showcased his mastery over cards.
His episode aired in the US around mid-July and will be shown here on Universal Channel on Aug 9 at 12.30pm and 5.30pm.

Lim, who is based in Greater Boston, Massachusetts, told TNP in an e-mail interview: “They flew me over in late April to  film that episode. It was a great opportunity to be on TV and test whether some of my own invented tricks could fool Penn & Teller.”
During Jillette’s judging of Lim’s performance on Fool Us, the 60-year- old raved: “I believe it is the only use of smoke I’ve seen in a magic trick, which was sincerely beautiful.
“We caught some stuff that you did... But at the end of that, even with the little moves that I saw, I felt it was perfect.”
Lim, who is an admirer of magicians David Sousa, Tommy Wonder, David Stone and David Blaine, teach- es magic and gives lectures to professional magicians and enthusiasts.
He did a two-month summer tour in China in 2013, with more than 30 shows in 15 cities, and he performed in front of an audience of thousands — his largest to date — at the Beijing Poly Theatre.
The second of three boys, Lim was born in Canada, where his father Wi Cher Lim, 52, was doing his post- graduate studies.
The family moved back to Singapore when Lim was three years old, where he enjoyed a “fun, happy childhood”.
He attended a PAP kindergarten at Bukit Panjang and Naval Base Primary School before he was home- schooled by his mum Mabel  Tan, 55.
The family moved to Massachusetts in the US in 2002.
Lim enrolled in Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, on a music scholarship and pursued a dual degree in piano performance and film technology.
But in 2010, during his first year, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes pain and numbness in the wrist, but continued to juggle music and magic.
Lim said he copes with his chronic condition “with caution” and eventually quit school in 2012.
“I was already creating new tricks for sale worldwide,” he said.
He feels the road less travelled is worth dropping out of college for.
He said: “I loved magic and proved to my parents I was good (by winning World Teen Champion for Close-Up Magic in Las Vegas in 2011).
They were quite liberal and said that if I did not make it by 25, I will go back to college and do something more practical.”
But if his achievements are any- thing to go by, Lim may never need a backup plan.
He said his appearance on Fool Us has opened doors, with opportunities for corporate performances, advertisements, and collaborations with chamber music groups still under negotiation.
“I hope to eventually produce my own close-up live show on the big stage and expand my repertoire of musical magical routines, which takes time and inspiration,” he said. 


Friday, 24 July 2015

Cat behaviourist, cat “listener”. Just don’t call him the ‘cat whisperer’.

Okay I started the article in the same manner (see title) but I never put 'cat daddy'. It was fun to talk to him. This was one of my many round-table discussions where you just gotta push out as many questions as you can and pray that the other media ask good ones too




Cat behaviourist, cat consultant, cat daddy.
That’s Jackson Galaxy, the feline version of celebrity dog expert Cesar “Dog Whisperer” Millan, has been given many names over his 20-year career.

Just don’t call him “cat whisperer”.
The US host of reality TV series My Cat From Hell told The New Paper over the phone from California yesterday: “I don’t really like how that title implies that I have some kind of magical powers. If you think I have magical powers, then you’ll think you can never do what I do.
“I always want people to know that whatever I have, I can share with you and you can do it just as well as I can.
“I’d rather be called the ‘cat listen- er’. I listen and then I translate for you guys — that’s probably as much credit as I would give myself.”
My Cat From Hell features Galaxy, 49, making house calls to resolve conflicts or behaviour issues between owners and their out-of-control cats, or between pets. He uses training techniques honed from working with countless animal shelters.
The sixth season premieres over Animal Planet on July 29 at 10pm.
Galaxy will be in town next month for an adoption drive and a live show where he will talk about common bad cat behaviour and provide tips on how to better care for them.
“I have never met an animal that’s beyond help. I think everyone deserves the dignity of being helped on their own terms,” said Galaxy.
For example, take his most challenging case so far: the infamous “911 cat” Lux.
Last year, the five-year-old part- Himalayan male housecat made headlines in the US when its owners called 911 for help after their enraged pet scratched their seven-month- old baby and subsequently became so aggressive, the family ended up barricading themselves in a room in their Portland home.
On the show, Lux was diagnosed as suffering from feline hyperesthesia syndrome, a complex condition that may sometimes cause a cat to lash out violently.
Galaxy decided to do something never seen before on My Cat From Hell: He recommended that Lux be re-homed with foster cat guardians. 

I’d rather be called the ‘cat listener’. I listen and then I translate for you guys — that’s probably as much credit as I would give myself.
— Jackson Galaxy 

Since then, he has had to move Lux around “quite a bit” and still receives calls for assistance from the foster families.
“Its particular unfortunate circumstance, in terms of the combination of its life — being rejected by its mother at birth — and its genetic make-up, makes it really hard to work with,” said Galaxy.
“It’s doing much, much better but it’ll always be a little unpredictable, it’ll always have that edge.
“It’ll never be able to go to a home with children and it’ll always need to be monitored. It really comes down to what its brain tells it to do — and it’s not logical.”
Though Lux’s current whereabouts are confidential, he added that the cat is in “great hands”.
“There’s always the possibility I’m going to end up with it,” said Galaxy, chuckling.
“Lux definitely taught me more than any cat I’ve ever worked with in 20 years. If Lux taught me anything, it’s to never assume, never think you’ve got everything figured out.”
But cats aren’t the only thing on Galaxy’s mind, which is why the own-
er of five cats and two dogs refers to himself as “bipetual”.
“I love dogs as much as I love cats. I can’t imagine working with cats all day long and not coming home to a dog,” he admitted.
Some “cat people” have taken of- fence over his preference for pooch- es, especially after seeing his wed- ding picture which featured his dog Mooshka as his ring bearer.
Galaxy got married to 47-year-old animal rescuer Minoo Rahbar last year. “They felt a sense of betrayal. People got angry with me, saying things like, ‘Where are the cats?’ It was crazy,” he recalled.
“But I couldn’t take my cats to

where we were (Best Friends Animal Society’s no-kill pet sanctuary in Utah). It was in the middle of no- where. It’s a really wild, rough country, no place for a cat to be outside.
“So, as a representative of all our animals, we picked the one that could handle it the best.
“My wife and I have a pact that when we someday move into a bigger home, we’ll have donkeys and goats as well.
“But I understand cats on a level that’s more profound than some other animals, so I work with what I know best.” 




Friday, 17 July 2015

Two-fer: Dance Singapore Dance

Oh this was such a head-turner. I was meant to attend the DSD media preview but the obvious people we wanted to interview weren't going to be around so it was a day of conducting email and phone interviews as fast as I could. Thankfully it wasn't due the next day but I stayed quite late to complete it. Their stories moved me so much I couldn't let them go.

Both online 

Unable to walk properly, he's now in dance contest

He has been passionate about dance and martial arts since he was eight years old.
But at 19, he was dealt a blow - the possibility of being handicapped and not being able to walk properly anymore.
Despite going through four knee operations, Mr Derek Seong refused to let go of his dreams and is literally back on his feet.
Not only is he a full-time dance and martial arts trainer, he is also one of the Top 12 finalists of new reality TV dance competition Dance Singapore Dance (DSD), the local version of the popular Indian series Dance India Dance.
Auditions here started in March, with 200 hopefuls aged 16 to 35 vying for the grand prize of $10,000 as well the title of the inaugural DSD champion.
It premieres on Friday (July 18) at 8pm over Zee TV APAC across 18 countries.
Amazing journey
Mr Seong, 35, told TNP:
“It was an amazing feeling to get through the audition rounds. Taking part in Dance Singapore Dance is a personal journey and is something you can’t put a price on or measure...
“Being disabled is a term given by the doctors.
"I feel it boils down to overcoming a psychological barrier and constantly pushing oneself beyond your limits.”

Mr Seong was meant to serve a 10-year contract with the Singapore Armed Forces but received an early release after eight years in the force.
He entered the army at 19, which was when he had his first “episode”.
He said the ligaments in his right knee tore because of all the rigorous military training he underwent, and all the martial arts training he did when he was younger just made it worse.
“My family wasn’t doing so well then (financially), so I signed on (as a regular) to help them,” said Mr Seong.
Injury woes
The longer he stayed, however, the more injuries he sustained.
In 2007, two years after his third surgery, he left the army and started his own dance group, Dancescape (Singapore), as it was his “calling”.
In 2013, it was finally his left knee that gave way and, once again, he needed surgery.
At that point, the worst thing that could have befallen him was to further injure himself to the point where it would be a “permanent disability” and he would need supports, braces or crutches, because there was “no other means of replacement”. 
He added:
“I felt afraid. Being a dance trainer and (not being able to) dance or demonstrate basic stuff - how can I continue this career? I already left the army so there’s no turning back.
“I did what I could to keep myself going.”
Going against doctors’ orders - they advised against strenuous physical activity - he insisted on moving around.
“Rehabilitation (helped) strengthen my knees,” he said.
Seong had to build the muscles to “replace ligament loss”, so he would constantly be training because when he stops moving he loses his mobility.
He would continue to work on his legs, every day of the week, and would even do lunges when he was ill. Otherwise, there were times when his knees could lock and he wouldn’t be able to straighten them. 
His physical disabilities limit him to the point where he can’t do very fast squats or tap dance, since his legs are too slow.
Different focus
Seong doesn’t dance much now, but focuses on choreography instead. 
He doesn’t have that luxury in DSD though, but said the instructor and other contestants do their best to work around him, such as when he has to pose and support himself with his left leg, which is weaker than the other.
They only found out about his condition when he became a finalist.
“I had zero professional training but I would travel to different countries to learn from the pros there,” he said.
“Training for the competition was intense – I put in so many hours until I lost count. In the first week, at least 20 hours were dedicated to training and practice and leading up to the final week, I met with my mentor, choreographer Roche Mascarenhas, every night till about 4 to 5am.
“Thoughts of giving up came to me at times during those tough rehearsals.”
Support
But he didn’t give up.
His wife of four years has been his constant pillar of support, and so have his students.
Mr Seong said if he wins DSD, he would use the prize money to get replacement implants in both his knees, because he felt his left leg wasn’t properly fixed. The most expensive treatment he had cost $15,000.
But that the dream doesn’t stop there.
“(I want to) organise a dance competition for students," said Mr Seong.
"Mentoring the next generation is important to me and I would want to give away a bursary-type award to promising talent for them to further pursue their dance career.”



Logan's soulful performance and bloody knee left judges in tears

 

He is said to be the dark horse of Dance Singapore Dance, as he entered the Top 12 after an original contestant dropped out due to “personal reasons”.
And because Mr Logan Narayanasamy is still very much in the running, viewers will also have more chances to watch his tear-jerking performances.
He made it to the semi-finals with an impressive solo that was said to have moved local judge Zaini Tahir to tears.
It’s also Mr Logan’s personal favourite to date as it was “dedicated to someone special”.
The 27-year-old fitness trainer told The New Paper: “It was my late friend, former dance crew member and a brother to me, Vikneswaran who passed away in a tragic accident.
"He was one person who always thought I was the best dancer.”
He added:

“Whenever it came to dance, he always put me forward and believed in the talent that I’ve got. 

"It was only right if he was around to see me perform in this show (that I) make him proud.”

It was certainly a tribute to remember.
Mr Logan said he attempted a knee slide on stage without a knee guard — as it would “break away from his character” — causing his knee to bleed.
“The skin on my knee tore badly. I teared not due to the pain, but because I recalled the reason why I was performing that item,” he said.
“Judge Zaini was moved by my expression and perseverance to continue.
"This was also a performance where I felt I was able to express my emotions fully and therein lies the beauty of the piece.”

Unable to walk properly, he's now in dance contest
Unable to walk properly, he's now in dance contest

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Kpop star Lydia Paek

At least, I think she is one :) hahaha. SOOOOO wish I had more time with her, especially when I had lots of questions lined up and I researched her as much as I could. She doesn't have much online, past videos and a wiki page in SPANISH of all things. Had to translate slowly on my own.
 Since I couldn't upload it to blogger I made the video unlisted to my YouTube channel. It was tough to squeeze in all the questions I could and still get juicy quotes (I had to ask such usual questions wehhhhh). My video ended up having more interaction with her actually. With about half-an-hour interview time, including the video, I could only have her do 'word association' with them. Unfortunately not enough footage meant adding text into the screen.
But it was absolutely wonderful meeting her, she's a great bubbly person :) 

Article went online so no PDF

Lydia Paek was namedropped by choreographer friends whose recommendation snagged her a job with YG Entertainment 

She went from breakdancing in crews at 15 to her big break - being featured in music videos for K-pop superstars like G-Dragon from BigBang and CL from 2NE1.
Korean-American singer-songwriter-producer-dancer Lydia Paek, 25, was given a rare chance to work under YG Entertainment , the home of K-pop stars like BigBang, 2NE1 and Psy - when she was 21, just by being namedropped.
“I was very blessed to have really great friends Shaun Evaristo and Aimee Lee Lucas,” Paek told TNP yesterday (July 10).
“They were choreographers for BigBang and 2NE1 at the time. I’ve known them for awhile and they mentioned my name. They were just like ‘Oh we have a friend and she’s Korean and she lives in LA; you should check her out on YouTube’ and they did.
“They saw that I sang and danced (so) they just hit me up and I went over to Korea. That’s how I got connected with YG.”
Her gift for songwriting and singing got her the coveted spot with one of the biggest South Korean entertainment companies, but it was also what brought her to Singapore for the National Youth Council’s SHINE Festival 2015, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this weekend with a line-up of festivities on Orchard Road.
She said: “They were so much fun because all of it was dancing or (me doing a) feature in CL’s.
“A lot of people don’t know (that) at that scene I was supposed to act or look very mean, and I was brushing her hair. (Also) I’m chewing gum (and looking like not a nice person) but the reason why I was chewing gum wasn’t for that purpose.
“I was just really hungry, and I’d been waiting all day to eat, and I only had a piece of gum and it just kind of went together!”
But her favourite was actually working on her first video, One Of A Kind.
Paek is one of the many artists who will be performing tonight (July 11) outside Ngee Ann City from 7.30pm, but also got to be mentor for a day as part of the festival’s youth development programme.
At YG, she was given opportunities to do song collaborations with her labelmates G-Dragon and rapper J.REYEZ and starred in music videos like G-Dragon’s One Of A Kind and CRAYON, CL’s The Baddest Female and boy band WINNER’s I’m Him.
She recounted: “It was really cool, because G-Dragon came to me and said ‘You know, I think you’re a great dancer and I want you to be in it’.
“I was like ‘What, you think I’m a good dancer?’” laughed an awe-struck Paek.
“It was just surreal and very much like a dream. And I’m so grateful.
“It’s something I can take to the grave... and tell my kids, and be like ‘Your mum was really cool back then.”




Lydia Paek was namedropped by choreographer friends whose recommendation snagged her a job with YG Entertainment - See more at: http://www.tnp.sg/m/music/lydia-paek-namedropped-top#sthash.rL0upI33.dpuf
Lydia Paek was namedropped by choreographer friends whose recommendation snagged her a job with YG Entertainment - See more at: http://www.tnp.sg/m/music/lydia-paek-namedropped-top#sthash.rL0upI33.dpuf
Lydia Paek was namedropped by choreographer friends whose recommendation snagged her a job with YG Entertainment - See more at: http://www.tnp.sg/m/music/lydia-paek-namedropped-top#sthash.rL0upI33.dpuf
Lydia Paek was namedropped by choreographer friends whose recommendation snagged her a job with YG Entertainment - See more at: http://www.tnp.sg/m/music/lydia-paek-namedropped-top#sthash.rL0upI33.dpuf
Lydia Paek was namedropped by choreographer friends whose recommendation snagged her a job with YG Entertainment - See more at: http://www.tnp.sg/m/music/lydia-paek-namedropped-top#sthash.rL0upI33.dpuf
Lydia Paek was namedropped by choreographer friends whose recommendation snagged her a job with YG Entertainment - See more at: http://www.tnp.sg/m/music/lydia-paek-namedropped-top#sthash.rL0upI33.dpuf

Monday, 6 July 2015

"It's my biggest success"

Another moment of triumph. To transcribe his hours-long interview, I wrote his entire biography (almost) in English, I swear.Too bad he was so nice with giving me all the deets. hahaha




Local cantopop singer Alex Chia chosen to sing theme song of HK action movie SPL 2: A Time for consequences 


A decade after the hit Donnie Yen-Sammo Hung movie SPL: Sha Po Lang was released in 2005, local Cantopop rocker Alex Chia has gone further than any fan of the Hong Kong actioner could dream of.
The 36-year-old was chosen to sing the Mandarin and Cantonese versions of the theme song for the highly anticipated sequel SPL 2: A Time For Consequences, which is showing in cinemas here.
Chia told TNP: “It’s my biggest achievement to sing for SPL. I’m a fan of the first movie and Donnie Yen.”
Original stars Yen and Hung do not reprise their roles in SPL 2, which is about an undercover cop (Wu Jing) who tries to catch the mastermind (Louis Koo) of a crime syndicate.
He ends up in a Thai prison and joins forces with a prison guard (Tony Jaa) to take down the bad guys.
“I was quite nervous at the (SPL 2) press conference in Beijing ,” said Chia, who performed the song there.
The song is entitled Sha Po Lang in Mandarin and Breakthrough in Cantonese. He also made an appearance at the gala premiere in Hong Kong.
“I didn’t want to disappoint (director) Paco (Wong) because he took this performance quite seriously.
“It was a great experience. I (even) took a photo with Tony Jaa and he told me that I sang the song very well.”
In April this year, Chia spent an average of six to seven hours a day for four days recording both versions. 

It was the chance of a lifetime for Chia, who fell in love with rock music when he was 10 and has been singing since he was five.
He grew up listening to US groups like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, while Hong Kong band Beyond influenced him to pick up the guitar.
“Rock runs in my blood. I believe

if you try something that’s not really you, it won’t turn out well because it’s not natural,” said Chia.
Though he is pursuing a singing career in Hong Kong, he is still running his interior design company Tomohiro Concept Arts in Singapore.
Chia formed a band in 1998 when he was in Ngee Ann Polytechnic studying mechanical engineering and even had an EP, but the band disbanded two years later.
In 2006, former vocalist Toy Yan recruited Chia for his local Chinese rock band V’s, but Chia was too busy to commit fully to rehearsals for their live nightclub performances.
In 2011, things took a tragic turn when Yan died in a road accident. He was 39.
V’s lead guitarist Francis Cheng asked Chia to produce a tribute album for Yan — also V’s first studio album — comprising the songs they had written before, with Chia taking over as vocalist.
After 18 months of challenges and sheer dedication, it was completed.
When Chia sent out the as yet untitled album to see who might want to distribute it, Wong came calling.
“I was on my bed and it was real- ly early in the morning. Paco’s secretary called and said he was interest- ed in reserving the rights,” Chia said .
Chia was signed by Sun Entertainment Culture in Hong Kong and V’s have shot two music videos, for the tracks One Day, One Day and Honour Among Bandits.
The SPL 2 gig followed shortly.
Chia said: “I even heard that one of the Four Heavenly Kings (in reference to the four biggest Hong Kong singing superstars of the 1990s Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai and Jacky Cheung) asked why Paco didn’t let him sing. In the end, he chose me, in- stead of the other singers in the same company.
“I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t feel it was true till I received the song and recorded it, that it was real.” 




Friday, 3 July 2015

All in the family - Echosmith

I had prepped myself up for interviewing all the members over the phone. Unfortunately didn't get that chance at all, and I was so hoping I could get Graham to open up and talk during an interview. Other than that, it was cool talking to Sydney, though I wish she would have loosened up a bit too. 

No PDF cause it was published online 



For US indie pop quartet Echosmith, fame and family go hand in hand.
Rising stars in the music industry and best known for their hit Cool Kids, the group formed in 2009 and consist of lead vocalist Sydney Sierota, 18, and her brothers - drummer Graham, 16, bassist Noah, 19 and lead guitarist Jamie, 22.
And they are admirers of other “family bands” too - one of their favourites being US rock band Kings Of Leon, comprising three brothers and their cousin.
Sydney told M over the phone from London: “They obviously work really well together and sound amazing together. (They are) the band that we were loved when we were younger. With music, that’s usually how we do it. One person will like (a group) and then convince the rest to be a big fan and then we’ll all listen to it together.”
Since releasing their debut album Talking Dreams in 2013, Echosmith have been on the road touring and will be playing their first concert here next month. 
But for Sydney, travelling around with her brothers isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
She said: “Everyone will fight with their siblings, naturally, because you’re together all the time. We don’t get along every second, but at the same time, we get along for the best part.
“We love going out to eat together and doing normal stuff and also we’ve been (a band) for so long that we’re really used to having to be together.
“Even if we fight a few minutes before a show starts, we know how to get over it.”
Sydney also enjoys being the rose among the thorns.
“I’m definitely not the leader because I’m the girl, unfortunately. Even though I would like to be,” she said.
“But being the only girl is kind of fun considering I get to wear all the dresses, or I get my nails done, or little simple things like that.”
She also appreciates Echosmith’s loyal fanbase - even if some supporters could get a little overzealous.
Sydney said how she would see comments on her Instagram “a thousand times saying ‘Please date me’”, and even though there are some “funny” interactions it’s “not like I’m looking to date a fan, so I kind of brush it off”. 
“It’s actually pretty funny when fans (do get crushes) because Graham is the one who’s the most popular. We used to be more protective... but we just wanted to make it fun instead,” she said, laughing.
“I mean, all these beautiful girls are in love with my little brother (because) he’s so cute. They love Noah and Jamie too - though they’re taken.”
And apparently US pop star Taylor Swift, 25, loves them too.
She sang Cool Kids during the first of two shows of her The 1989 World Tour in Philadelphia, with Echosmith in tow. 
“It was obviously an amazing experience because there are tons of people who want to go and watch Taylor Swift... it was just a sea of fans and it was fun because to play for that many people in general is amazing,” Sydney said.
“It was crazy considering she even thought to ask her manager to ask our manager if we could guest at one of her shows, so that was a big deal. We’re so stoked for someone like her to know our song, let alone want us to sing it with her. That was an incredible experience, one I’ll never forget.”
Sydney returned the compliment, weighing in on Swift’s recent stance against new streaming service Apple Music.
Last month, Swift wrote an open letter expressing how she found it “shocking (and) disappointing” that the company did not pay artists royalties for their music during its free three-month trial period. She then refused to allow her chart-topping album 1989 on the platform.
Mere hours after the letter went viral, Apple announced a U-turn — that it would start paying every musician whose works featured on Apple Music during that period.
“I think she was really bold (to) stand up to such a huge company like that. I really respect her,” said Sydney.
“(I’m glad) the musicians are getting paid. It’s awesome and it’s something (Echosmith) agrees with, (it’s) something that needed to be decided on and I’m glad she was the one to make that happen.”
She added Swift can also be “super sweet”.
“I’ve heard her talk about (her relationship with Scottish producer-DJ Calvin Harris) a bit... The photos (of them together) are cute, and the Internet is obsessed with them.”

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Twenty One Pilots

Really out of my depth with any English-y bands but I did my research. It was...interesting to talk to Josh just because it was a phone interview. I think in person he'd be more fun since he has this drawl humour and barely detectable sarcastic tone (see why a phone interview would be bad). 
I remember him saying how he supposedly celebrated the release of the album by getting cake and smashing it into each other's faces. Ugh. I Almost put that in the story before he said "well actually" or something like that. 
Friend was lucky enough to meet them in person though.

No PDF here cause the story was only published online wehhhhhh 


Twenty One Pilots is probably one of the few bands you've never heard of even though it has topped the charts.
The US indie pop duo rocked the music world in May when their latest album Blurryface debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart, selling over 140,000 copies.
It beat Taylor Swift’s 1989 and the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack.
Formed in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio, the group consists of lead vocalist Tyler Joseph, 26, and drummer Josh Dun, 27.
"I think when we found out it was No. 1 on Billboard, honestly we never knew exactly what that meant," Dun told M over the phone from Los Angeles.
He said they weren’t paying attention to the numbers or charts. He only realised "it was a big deal" when more people started approaching him about it.
"I think we live in a culture where people buy singles or songs, but for this album in its entirety to be No. 1, that’s a big deal for me," he said. "I feel honoured to be a part of it with so many people."
The self-taught musicians had been on their own for years, releasing albums such as Twenty One Pilots (2009), Regional At Best (2011) and Vessel (2013) and performing at small venues, till they signed on with record label Fueled by Ramen in 2012.
"We’d just try and play in front of new people and make new fans. And then what happens is slowly, they start telling more and more people and when we go back to these places, there would be more people (at our gigs)," he said.
Dun said he "personally remembers plenty" of loyal fans.
"There were quite a few people who got on board right away and some of them I still talk to today. I think I just added this one girl on Facebook," he said.
He had messaged her through the social media site, telling her Twenty One Pilots still think about her and her sister when they make decisions.
Dun explained it was "because (they) helped us create something bigger than ourselves" and knowing she was "still kind of the anchor of the whole thing has kept us grounded".
He added: "(It’s) really encouraging to me, to have those people who have been there since the very beginning and have loved what we do even though nobody else did.
"They’ll always be close to my heart."
Twenty One Pilots recently embarked on their Blurryface Tour 2015 and are "excited" for their concert in Singapore on July 16.
It will be their first time on our shores and Dun is already keen to "try the good, local coffee or the cool areas to hang out in".
He said: "I can’t wait to come over... My personal goal – and I haven’t really said this out loud too much – is I would love to play in every city before I die.
"I think that’s impossible but I’m going to try and make it possible.”

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Star Scions

My words ended up taking up a little bit for the introduction (which was mostly kept so that's a triumph) but I still had to research and the hard part was finding pictures. Looking through Instagram mostly, but still, to go all the way to a similar night... 
Some really are a spitting image. 

Anyway, take a look at the PDF with the pics and you'll see what I mean  :)




You may not recognise them at first.
But look closer at Maya Thurman-Hawke, Lily-Rose Depp, Brandon Lee and Frances Bean Cobain, and you will see the family resemblance — or at least the familiar last names.
Perhaps last remembered as kids in the arms of their famous parents, this latest generation of celebrity offspring are all grown-up and turning heads at recent red carpet events. 


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Mads Mikkelsen

He was so nice. It's unbelievable. Unfortunately his voice was, oddly enough, hard to understand sometimes



Superhero or supervillain?
Which would you pick, Mads Mikkelsen?
The debonair, versatile 49-year-old Danish actor has pulled off an amazing range of roles in his almost 20-year film career. They include heroic fighters in King Arthur (2004) and Clash Of The Titans (2010), antagonists in Casino Royale (2006) and The Three Musketeers (2011), and his award-winning turn as a disgraced kindergarten teacher wrongly accused of sexual abuse in The Hunt (2012).
But he told M in a phone interview from Copenhagen, Denmark, earlier this month that he really likes breaking bad.
“As much as I enjoy playing good guys, I think that those type of characters need the other side of the coin, the dark side. I embrace it every time I get the chance.”
FAN FAVE
And he is winning a new legion of fans as the iconic, cannibalistic psychiatrist- serial killer Hannibal Lecter, a role he reprises in the third season of TV series Hannibal. It airs on Fridays at 9.45pm on AXN.
“I think it’s a wonderful character to play. (Hannibal)’s multifaceted. He’s a chameleon and can adapt to any situa- tion that’s given to him in life. For that reason, it’s a gift for any actor to step into the suit of Hannibal because he has so many different faces,” said Mikkelsen.
Season 3 sees Lecter on the run in Eu- rope, accompanied by his psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) and sporting a new identity.
Richard Armitage also joins the cast as serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, the primary villain of Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon which introduced the char- acter of Lecter. His story is a “powerful part” of the entire season.
Mikkelsen teased: “You don’t have to look out for it because it will be in your face right away. I can’t really say what’s happening, but ‘showdown’ is a small word.”
Unfortunately for “Fannibals” (what hardcore fans of Hannibal call them- selves), it was reported on Monday that TV network NBC will cancel the thriller after the conclusion of Season 3 due to dwindling ratings.
Hannibal aside, moviegoers will per- haps best remember Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre, the blood-weeping poker player who famously tortures Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Casino Royale.
He said: “(The movie) was a spectacular thing for me to do. That was the big- gest film I had done at that point. 

“When I started the film, I had no idea how big it was. I’ve never seen a Bond film myself.
“But the actual work was pretty much like any other (film) I did back home, just that it required more people on set.”
The father of two admitted he got a “minor shock” when tens of thousands of people turned up for the premiere of Casino Royale at Odeon Leicester Square, which was when he realised the magnitude of the project.
GAME For GAME
But Mikkelsen is not the only Danish actor to have made his mark in Holly- wood.
When asked about his fellow country- man Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is a fan favourite as knight Jaime Lannister on the hit TV series Game Of Thrones, he said: “I think it’s fantastic what Nikolaj has achieved. We started out together and have done numerous theatre plays and films together as well.
“But very early on in his career, he went abroad and he was very ambitious about working there.
“It’s taken him a while, but now he’s made it and he’s made it big time. So I’m very proud of him. I think he’s achieved something fantastic.”
Mikkelsen confessed he would actually love to be part of Game Of Thrones.
“I wouldn’t want any part, of course. I would be the one that kills him in the show,” he said with a laugh.
He said he was offered a part in super- hero flick Thor (2013) and would “love to be in a Marvel film”, but was not able to commit because of Hannibal.
He joked: “If they one day need an older version of Spider-Man, I’m ready. I can climb walls.”