Bit slow but thought I’d load up some info for fans, credit to Scanation Singapore. I’ve been lagging behind the scene recently, thanks to work and exams. Terrible, but what can you do?
…I officially admit it. I’m a fangirl. I can’t deny it! It’s probably a bad thing, and I really do have to stop, especially since the holes this being-a-fangirl-thing is burning in my pockets have started to expand…
Still, the CNBlue showcase in Singapore was pretty awesome and totally worth the SGD $88 (+$2 booking fee + $1 collection fee) I spent on a Category 3 seat. The showcase was held at NUS’s UCC (University Cultural Centre…ahhhh…fond memories there…) and since I knew the layout pretty well, I managed to wrangle really decent seats for Category 3 (Row V, just in front of the sound control box).
The showcase was meant to start at 3 pm but, naturally, started late. Still, it lasted a solid hour and a half, so I wasn’t too fussed. As usual, lots of screaming randomly when stagehands ran off the stage, or media were snapping photos onstage, and when the stage blacked out. Hilariously, there was this guy who yelled, “YONGHWA!!!” as the stage blacked out in preparation for their showcase, and there was a split-second of stunned silence and then everyone in the audience broke out laughing. It was mean but…fanboy much?
The boys sang quite a few songs, which I don’t quite remember the order of. I think they started with Let’s Go Crazy, and went on to Love Revolution. They were going to sing I’m A Loner when Min Hyuk discovered an issue with his ear-piece and had to get the technicians to fix it, so lovely Jong Hyun entertained us with a verse of Sunday Morning (by Maroon 5) until Min Hyuk’s ear-piece was fixed (and even during the song I’m A Loner, the technicians came running on stage to try and get it fixed!).
After that, they sang Love Light and Love, and then they broke for an interview session. The interview session basically consisted of the host asking them questions that fans wanted answered, like – “Will you ever write a song for boys?” (The fans’ response to that was hilarious) – “Have you tried Singapore’s chilli crab?” (Answer: Heard a lot about it, and we have a ‘schedule’ to go try it out) etc. Lots of fans were randomly screaming SNSD out whenever Yonghwa tried to answer any question, which was on one hand, vaguely annoying, and on the other, quite entertaining especially when you monitor his reaction, which was a mix of exasperation and resignation. (They did that when he was asked, “Which artist, Korean or otherwise, would you most like to collaborate with?” and wisely enough he answered, “Jason Mraz.” Since Mraz is a favourite of mine, Yonghwa gets brownie points. Min Hyuk has all the rest of the brownies for being so hot with the drums, and Jong Hyun has a couple for being able to sing. Jong Shin is…just…Avatar. LOL)
They ended off the interview by granting fans’ “wishes” like getting hugs, receiving autographed CDs, being serenaded by the boys and receiving a “personal item” from each of the boys (a shirt from Jong Shin, a guitar pick from both Jong Hyun and Yonghwa and a pair of drumsticks from Min Hyuk). Speaking of the guitar picks, both Jong Hyun and Yonghwa kept tossing theirs out to the audience in front and then having to surreptitiously sneak another pick out from their back pocket. Then the fanclub surprised them with a cake, and a fanvideo, which was sorta sweet. After which the boys went off-stage and we almost thought that was the end of the set…but fortunately it wasn’t.
They came out to finish off the showcase with I’m A Loner (Burning Version), One Time and Now Or Never. When they were finally done, a lot of people were really reluctant to leave, since…y’know…it’s possible they could come out for another set…except, nah. They didn’t. Still, the showcase was awesome, I got kickass videos (they banned videography but seriously, how the hell will you stop 500-over insane fans from whipping out their cameras?) and some really fantastic close up pictures (especially considering how faraway I was sitting). Ran out of SPACE on my memory stick midway through the interview (which was a damn pity!!) but at least it meant I got to enjoy the rest of the songs without having to worry about recording them since…well…it wasn’t like I had anything to record with.
I’ll probably put the videos up on YT but make them private so if you want to watch them, please PM me or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. In the meantime…
Having spent weeks hearing rave reviews about the film Inception, it was inevitable that I forked out cold, hard cash to watch it. If you haven’t watched the film, and you don’t believe in spoilers, please leave now. You have been warned.
The plot has been outlined pretty well in Wiki, so I won’t reiterate too much of it. Suffice to say that, despite the heavy metaphysical philosophical rhetoric, the movie actually managed to work in a pretty decent balance of humour. For example, when the team enters Level 1 of the dream world, in Yusuf’s dream, it rained really hard and several members of the team pelted Yusuf with “drink much?” / “need to pee much?” comments, which made me snort in laughter. Then came Arthur’s dream, where when Fischer’s guards are looking suspiciously at him and Ariadne, and Arthur tells Ariadne to “kiss me”. When she finishes and pulls back and says in an accusatory tone, “They’re still looking!” Arthur shrugged and said, “Oh well, worth a shot.” …the look on Ellen Page’s face was priceless. I think I started laughing even before Arthur finished the sentence. She looked torn between wanting to murder him and not quite hating the kiss.
Beyond the dry wit, quick pace, and
mindfuckery conundrums of the film, there are some interesting things that could be up for debate… (Conspiracy) Theories & Thoughts
There are several fascinating levels the film explores, both of the state of being ‘awake’ and ‘asleep’. These are not new – there is nothing more the human mind loves than dissecting what ‘truth’ is…or could be. A few films come to mind, like The Matrix, Dark Knight, Momento, Shutter Island (yes, I know I’ve been listing most of Nolan’s previous films sans the first).
There’s been a fair bit of heated debate over the ending of the movie, which is left open to the audience’s interpretations, which of course means that there are several approaches to this.
The ending most people hope for, I think, is the one where he has returned to reality, and has reunited with his children, since there is a hint of a wobble with his ‘totem’.
Then you have the cynics who argue that as long as the ‘totem’ spins, he is trapped within his dream.
There’s evidence to support the latter rather than the former, but it is not the end that interests me…but the start of the movie, and its middle. Before I go on to those though, let me first sound out my conspiracy theories on why I am leaning on the side of the latter.
First of all, the children. The faces of the children, whom he never sees in the construction of his dreams, is shown at the end, and that is how he is ‘released’ by his dream into his reality…says the happy version. However, the children that he ‘sees’ and greets excitedly in the garden begin in exactly the same pose, and gestures that he last saw them in…repeated throughout the film. Which begets the question if he’s truly ‘seeing’ them…or merely continuing the dream process and tying himself to his constructed dream world through ‘memories’ that he has built. The children look exactly like he left them. His house. His room. The light in the garden. The knife on the table. Note the grandmother, who is supposed to be ‘taking care’ of the children do not appear in this ending. Grandfather, for whom he feels tied to because he was the one who had introduced him to ‘dreaming’, takes her stead to welcome him home from the airport and introduce him to the children, thereby disrupting him just as he was about to determine if he was in reality…or dreaming.
When Cobbs abandoned the spinning top, running towards his children, he has reached his ultimate goal, his ‘final destination’, and it is at this point, I think, where, whether or not this is the state of ‘dreaming’ or being ‘awake’ he is content to tie himself to this level.
The question is…is Cobbs right? Is he the one living in the real world, and is he the one who planted the idea of an ‘unreal world’ in Mal’s subconscious while they were in Limbo?
Or is he, in fact, the one who has been infected with inception, and who has created his own alternate reality with paradox-isms?
In the film, Cobb is convinced that ideas are like viruses – once you have planted an idea into someone’s subconscious, it grows like a cancer. There are several lines he repeats throughout the film…much like the lines that Mal repeats in his dream constructs, or in the shared dream constructs that his team-mates bring him through.
I think there are several plot holes in the movie that can’t be covered with logic applied in the world Cobbs inhabits. The time thing doesn’t make sense, even if I have never been very good with maths. How he is able to escape Limbo in the first place is a question – he said Mal refused to believe that Limbo was not the real world, and that they had slowly lost touch with reality. Mostly, I think, because she had locked her ‘totem’ up in her safe, and I’m assuming she was the subject, and he was the architect for their dream constructs. But, what was his totem? How did he realise it was Limbo?
On the other hand, if the whole movie was a dream from start to end, the disjointedness, and deconstruction to reconstruction of his world in an endless loop may indicate…he is in Limbo still. Isn’t he? By destroying ‘Mal’ and ‘seeing’ his children, has he escaped Limbo…or merely accepted it? Was ‘Mal’ in fact his anchor to the real world, which he has unwittingly destroyed? Isn’t it possible that the real Mal really did leave through the suicide, and this ‘Mal’ he constructed out of his own memories wanted him to leave Limbo as well by continuously reminding him of their shared dream construct?
Another interesting facet is the roles that the females play. Grandmother is an unpleasant anchor to the reality that he is ‘separated from his children’. You never actually see her, and only hear her on the phone. Hence, she is not in the ending where this reality is revised. ‘Mal’ keeps trying to tell Cobbs that his is not the real world, while he is convinced he is. If she were, in fact, telling the truth, it’s really fascinating how Cobbs ignores her, Grandmother, and Ariadne when the women try to force him to ‘see’ the ‘truth’.
I could go on forever about the dream construct, and the many layered reasons why the potential that Cobbs is in fact dreaming from start to end is really pretty high, but it kinda kills the debate to be so one-sided. So, I looked up alternative theories.
A pretty interesting one that supports him coming back to reality is that of the presence of his wedding ring, commented on by someone here, although one may also attribute that to a discordance in continuity through human error. There’s also some interesting debate about the use of Mal’s totem in the same thread, under the comments section (Comment No. 12 I believe).
The thread also includes other really fascinating theories like, maybe he performed self inception to ‘rid’ himself of the ‘guilt’ of performing inception on his own wife. Extrapolating from that, the so-called ‘dreams’ or ‘visions’ that he shows his comrades are actually his ‘reality’ and the ‘reality’ they are living in is a dream construct he has engineered so that he can relief himself of the guilt for the mistake he has made, and can return to his family’s arms. Following the same line of thought is this commenter who added that there’s a continuous time loop presented in the movie (Bryan, in that thread, said that the original comment came from him, and Slash just plagarised…just to clarify, but it’s the idea presented in that comment that I’m interested in, anyway).
A friend of mine threw out the theory that maybe, the one who performed the inception on Cobbs is the grandfather…or father-in-law. He was the one who came up with ‘an architect better than you’, the one who met him at the airport to welcome him home…and the one who called out to his children to distract him just as he is trying to determine if he’s in a dream or not. The kids haven’t aged, but they’re in different clothes as when Cobbs is in his own constructed dream world. And take note: when we are introduced to Cobbs in the movie, we begin in the middle of the story, when he is on the run. And he’s always on the run in the movie.
Too many theories and not enough time. What do you think?
Japan Pre-Travel Necessities – Transport, Accommodation and all these little details you need to know
This post has been a bit of a long time coming, due to procrastination of all sorts, but thought I’d share my 2 week experience in Japan recently, along with recommendations of places of interests to visit, accommodation, transport etc. Budget-wise, Japan’s always been expensive, and if you’re looking at a 2 week trip, I’d recommend you prepare something in the region of 340,000 yen, especially if you’re keen on shopping, and if you have to buy back souvenirs (also known as omiyage) for friends, family and colleagues.
I began my trip in Osaka, went down to Kyushuu and then hied back up to Tokyo, stopping by many places in between. For ease, I’ll split my trip into 3 parts.
Before travelling anywhere though, there’s always a need to plan and to get to know more about the country before you go, so I’ll also add a pre-travel post which will begin below.
Transport-wise, the best deal you will ever get if you’re travelling as a foreigner in Japan is the Japan Rail Pass (also known as the JR Pass). This pass can only be bought outside of Japan, if you have a foreign passport, and you have a valid airticket to Japan, so be sure to purchase this before you travel. There are many different JR passes, to cover the different regions of Japan, so always check which region you are travelling before debating which pass to get. There are also different ranges of validity, from 7 to 21 days, and usage of the pass has to be consecutive, so always check to make sure you get the right number of days to cover long distances if you are travelling inter-city/state.
The pass can only be activated in Japan, and as you have to reserve seats for certain legs of the trip, please make sure you plan your trip well. If you don’t reserve seats, there are carriages that have seats for those who have no reservations, but do consider that you may not be able to get a seat if it is a peak period etc. The pass can only be activated at certain JR stations (the passes should come with instructions when you buy them; alternatively always make sure you clarify this with the person selling you the JR pass, or check out the website). When you have the JR pass, and you want to use it to take the train, you have to find where the train staff are standing at the station counters, and wave it in their faces. Usually if you need to know train timings or what platforms to take the train from etc as well, you can ask them too, they have all the information at their fingertips, it’s amazing.
A detailed guide on how to take the train in Japan can be found here.
If you are travelling only within certain cities e.g. Tokyo, you may like to look out for day-passes instead, or just pay as you travel as it may end up being cheaper. If you’re unsure of what your best option is, try using Hyperdia to check out the different routes and timings you need to take to get where you want to go. You can also go to the tourist travel counters, most of whom usually have at least one person who can speak English, failing which, everyone usually communicates well enough using sign or body language. (Sometimes, even if you know Japanese, it pays to pretend that you have completely no clue what they’re saying. Helps with discounts. Just a headsup. Since they usually have no way of determining whether or not you really are a foreign student. It does help if you happen to have a matriculation card available to wave in their faces.)
In case you get confused, like me, when you first board a bus in Japan, all costs are distance-based. The Japanese board the bus at the back, and alight in front where the driver is. When they board the bus, there is a machine right next to the door that issues a number – that number basically tells you what stop you are getting on. Please take a ticket and keep it! When you alight at the front, you have to pay the driver and if you have no idea what stop you got on, you will have no idea how much to pay. If you have the ticket, you can wave it at the driver and he will be able to tell you how to pay. Alternatively, there is a board in front of the bus usually that tells you how much you have to pay if you get on at a certain stop. Eg. if you got on at Stop 15, and the board says you have to pay 250 yen (i.e. the board will say 15: 250 yen) if you are getting off at that stop, that’s how much you pay.
If you have don’t have small change, there are also machines that you can actually drop in large denominations to get small change i.e. a 500 yen coin to get 5 100 yen coins. These machines are usually on buses right next to the bus driver (which means you don’t have to worry if you can’t pay the driver in exact change). You drop in the large denomination, get the change, and thenpay the driver. (I had this really embarrassing moment where I thought the machine would automatically deduct the amount I owed the driver, and almost walked off without paying the bus driver, and got yanked back by my friend behind me.)
In case you want to see for yourself how it’s done, here is a video made very kindly by chmr103 up on Youtube, with specific instructions below the video.
If you take a tram, it’s pretty much the same distance-based cost. Same for if you are taking a train in Tokyo. Do be careful and note that the subways are different from the JR trains, and that means costs will usually differ too. May be cheaper to take a subway or a JR, you have to check it out yourself depending on your route.
Fare Adjustment Machines
If you end up taking a train and you realise you need to travel further than expected, and you need to pay more for your ticket, fear not. There is a machine called a “Fare Adjustment Machine”. You put your ticket in, they calculate how much more you need to top up, you put in the extra money, they spit out a new ticket for you to exit the station, and it’s as simple as that. You only do this at the last station where you want to exit from, by the way, in case I wasn’t clear enough about that. By the way, this is especially useful if you are travelling in Tokyo. I managed to find a video on Youtube about that too here, also by chmr103.
If you’re looking for quick recommendations on budget business hotels, there are a couple of really good ones I can recommend, and one I can personally vouch for.
There is this chain called Toyoko Inn, and they have a fair number of branches scattered all over Japan. Good thing about Toyoko Inn? They’re usually located really near a train station, which means they’re convenient and accessible. They also have a really bright blue signboard which you can usually spot from a mile away on the train, in case you get lost easily (I don’t know how many times that signboard has saved me).
Breakfast is included in the rates (and since it’s a buffet breakfast, and the spread is usually quite good, it’s damn worth the rate), and they have everything you will ever need – TV, wireless Internet connection, bathroom amenities (so you don’t need to bring soap, shampoo etc), the usual towels etc, and even a trouser press. (It is a business hotel.)
The only drawback to this hotel is that the room is really, really small. I kid you not. You open the door, and the bathroom is right in front of your face, and the bed is like, next to you. In case you can’t figure out where to place your suitcase, the hotel happily informs you with an info sheet on your bed that there is room beneath your bed to store your luggage. That said and done, if you don’t have a massive case of claustrophobia, then I strongly recommend this hotel (and even if you do have a massive case of claustrophobia, the budget rates at this hotel may convince you anyway).
The price range for this hotel, depending on location and what room type you get, is approximately about 4000 yen per person to 6000 yen per person, which is super worth it. If you intend to stay at their chain for your whole trip, get their membership card, because it gives you further discounts, and you can use it for the rest of the trip, so you’ll really be saving a lot on accommodation expenses.
The other chain of business hotel you may want to try is Sakura Hotels. I’ve never stayed there, but apparently it’s quite good as well. These are general recommendations; in my posts I’ll be talking about other places where I’ve stayed at, how much they cost approximately, and how it is like to stay there, so you can decide for yourself where best to stay.
If you’re travelling in Japan you really should be travelling light. There are some places with no escalators or lifts and if you have to heave a 20 kg bag up a flight of stairs exiting from the train station, I wish you luck. Instead of carrying around a large suitcase, my advice is to pack an extra foldable bag, so you can pack in stuff to check in at the end of your trip, like all your shopping.
My advice is to pack only the necessities. Everything else you may need, you can buy from the 100 yen shops in Japan (they’re practically everywhere). Shizuko Mishima gives a detailed packing checklist here, which I found really useful while packing.
Weather in Japan is fairly unpredictable. Umbrellas for the most part are useless if it really rains and the wind is blowing, unless you use it to shield your camera while taking photos, which is what I mostly used my 100 yen umbrella, bought from the 100 yen shop, to do. I packed a wind-and-rainproof jacket with a hood, which was a lifesaver and a bit of genius on my part.
My advice is if you’re travelling anywhere in Japan, constantly check the weather forecast online the night before, so you know what to wear and what to bring. Also, make sure your bags are rainproof, or you’re going to be really sad when it starts pouring down on you. You may also want to pack or wear clothes in layers, so you can take off / put on more clothes as it gets colder/warmer.
I have to admit, straight off – I’m a lousy traveler. I have a terrible sense of direction, and I can’t read maps. It helps that I speak Japanese, but even then, I always got lost for at least about a good half an hour to an hour before eventually finding where I wanted to go.
If you have as bad a sense of direction as me, you’re going to want to download maps from Google or some other navigational site which you trust. The biggest problem with Japanese maps is that they often don’t mark street names / small alleys…and there are a lot of those in Japan, which explains why I managed to get myself lost even armed with maps that I took from tourist counters and booths.
So it’s much safer to either travel with someone with a really good sense of direction, or maybe have a guidebook like Lonely Planet, or download your own maps. It’s a lot of work, but it beats getting lost in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language. Even if you speak the language, it still sucks getting lost. Trust me on this one.
If you’re looking for someplace cheap where you can get souvenirs in a bunch to distribute to friends, family and colleagues, look no further than the 100 yen shops in Japan. 100 yen shops like Daiso can be found in the larger cities all over Japan, and more specifically in Tokyo. If you’re desperate, and don’t mind paying a higher rate, you can also get souvenirs when you leave the airport, especially if you’re leaving through Narita Airport. Narita Airport has all the souvenirs you could ever want. My recommendation? Look out for the Rare Tokyo Daifuku (chocolate mochi). There’s 30 in a box, and it was so popular with my friends and colleagues that there were people who kept asking me where I bought it. I bought 4 boxes and let’s just say that the next time I go to Tokyo I may consider buying more than just 4.
I think that’s it for the most part, pre-departure wise. Now, for the exciting part of the upcoming post(s) – I’ll be describing some places of interests in all the places that I went to in Osaka, Kyushuu and Tokyo! Keep an eye out for Part One: Osaka.
…which seems to aptly describe how often I update my blog nowadays, due to backlog of work and other things, namely life, that seem to take up my time.
My constant regret about entering the Korean music industry so late is the number of good singers and groups that seem to have passed me by, including VIBE, since I have been recently in love with this song, as well as another called 술이야 (Liquor). Their songs are lovely, and as I have not yet heard otherwise, I have hopes of a comeback, preferably soon, since these men can sing! (If anyone knows what’s up with them, can you please update me since I would love to know, being a new convert and all that?)
Jang Geun Seok will be visiting Singapore soon on the 24th of April (argggh), if one hasn’t yet heard (I missed out on buying tickets to his fanmeet as I had been struck by the perennial flu and cough over the weekend the tickets were selling and hadn’t flipped the papers, so totally didn’t realise until after the sale was over that there were actually even such a thing! …oh the tragedy).
On the bright side, I saved a ton of money which I shouldn’t have been spending anyway, since I already busted my budget when SHINee came, and I’ve paid for the Mayday concert, also happening in April (what’s up with April man? Why’s EVERYONE coming in April? Even S.H.E.’s coming in April! …Would’ve bought their tickets but I already bought Mayday’s…the irony being that I probably know more S.H.E. songs than Mayday’s).
If you’ve managed to miss him in Will It Snow For Christmas? and Father’s House (WHICH ROCK HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING UNDER??!…if it’s the rock called ‘work’ I forgive you, since I can commiserate), since he only appears for a meagre 2 episodes each, then catch him in Giant instead.
The boy’s proved he’s got the acting chops – not to mention a sizzling charisma that the camera (and I) loves – so I’ve consigned myself to watching this (although the actual premise of the show interests me not at all).
This has been a lazy post, but since it is the season of Lent, I thought it’d be nice to share some giving spirit by pointing you towards Miss Glitzy‘s Let’s Care and Celebrate project, which is a cause worth supporting. The LCC Campaign for short (coined by me, as I am lazy) is her effort to reach out to women in need, as she will be collecting donations, and organising a series of events to contribute to Singapore Council of Women – Star Shelter.
By the by, for those of you coming to my site to look for GaKwon’s Episodes 1, 2, and 3…you can’t see them anymore because the vids I linked to got pulled from Youtube. However, if you do a bit of searching on Youtube, you’ll stumble across 2OneDay subs video channel (linked here if you’re too lazy to do the actual searching) where you will find a surplus of GaKwon, not to mention other 2AM / 2PM videos (…although I don’t know how many of you will still be supporting 2PM…).
In any case, thought I would talk about the latest addition to We Got Married (which used to be my favourite variety show, until I discovered…well, the rest of the variety shows. Still, I have fond memories of the Lettuce, Ant, AnSol, AlShin etc couples) – the ‘Sweet Potato’ couple i.e. Seohyun from SNSD (or Girls’ Generation) and Jung Yong Hwa from C.N. Blue (of ‘You’re Beautiful’ fame).
They’re a rather quirky addition that I enjoy, mostly because of Seohyun’s absolute naviety and Yonghwa’s (relatively) normality. They’re dubbed the ‘Sweet Potato’ couple in true blue WGM style due to the first episode where Seohyun’s fellow SNSD members tell Seohyun: “If you are satisfied with a husband like him (the unknown person at that point in time), then give us a hint by saying ‘sweet potato’ on screen. If you’re unhappy, then say ‘hamburger’!” and Seohyun does exactly what they tell her by suddenly surprising Yonghwa with the question: “…Do you like sweet potatoes?” (He was all EH?…o.O *blink* how did we get here LOL)
Their meeting was awkward, but cute and realistic. Honestly, of all the people who have appeared on WGM, Seohyun probably resonates the most with me, because she takes a while to warm up to people, which is what I feel most people actually do in real life (and not on reality shows that are scripted). You can see she’s determined to keep an open mind about this because whatever Yonghwa asks her to do, she’s like, “Ah. Yes. Okay.” (In Korean, it’s just “Ne…”) It’s strangely funny because Yonghwa tries REALLY HARD to get her to open up by asking questions, and the whole car scene where they’re on their way to his group’s practice studio is hilarious.
Seohyun: “I have some questions to ask you…[pulls out notebook from what Yonghwa later terms the miracle bag due to the numerous items she has in that bag]”
Yonghwa [can’t quite believe what he’s seeing]: “Eh…Yes, please go ahead.”
Seohyun: “…Who do you respect the most and why?”
Yonghwa [taken aback by the ‘profound-ness’ of her question]: “Eh? …That question’s quite…deep. *thinks very hard* Bon Jovi, because his music is always evolving. What about you?”
Seohyun: “Ah. I respect [the name of a Korean politician – I’m sorry I didn’t catch it, but I presume he’s a really good role model from what she says later]. My motto is that you have to be nice in life because what comes around goes around [or something to that effect – please feel free to correct].”
Yonghwa…blinks. The flabbergasted expression on his face is priceless. Repeated later on in the studio when she goes on about her self-development books (when Yonghwa apparently falls asleep at the sight of a book LOL).
I enjoy their interaction, so far, and it helps that they always show Yonghwa playing “I’m A Loner” (which I have developed a newfound love for) so I always enjoy those bits. Not to mention deciding to call each other “Yooong” and “Hyuuun” in order to become closer was just a genius move because it’s so funny to hear Seohyun go, “Annyounghaeseyo…Yoooong.” (Watch me splutter in laughter here.)
For those of you dying to catch it, the Chinese subtitled ones are here and the English subs are here. (It is at times like this when I thank Singapore for its strict bilingual educational system.) Have fun and let me know what you think of it. I’ve gone through Episode 2, and it’s awesomely funny (in my opinion, although I think I’ve heard people say it’s terribly boring too because they’re so awkward with each other – I thought that was the whole POINT).
The official announcement that went out recently about 2PM’s ex-leader’s Jaebum’s withdrawal from the group has, if you have not noticed, created huge waves within the industry and amidst the fandom – it’s created a huge sort of drama that the Sister and I unabashedly pored over, while providing our own (snarky) commentary.
I like the group, and so does the Sister, but we can’t help feeling outraged that the leader has been so unequivocally pulled from his position, without even a clear explanation. The group may have gotten away with the September debacle because, unofficially, it seemed from various peoples’ perspectives that they were waiting for him to come back, except, suddenly, they aren’t. Many of the Hottests have deemed this a ‘turning of their backs’…a betrayal of sorts. Certainly, they didn’t help matters when they held a conference where many fans left, chilled by what they were perceiving from the group; ironically, many of the Hottests have now turned ‘Coldests’ (anti-fans – who are, by their definition, an oxymoron onto themselves).
The Sister and I are…Lukewarmest, according to someone from Omona. The drama’s highly entertaining, but K-pop fandom isn’t fun, as I can attest to, and I think we both sort of faded away from that – the vitriol that goes around can be rather nasty. So, we’re keeping an eye on it, seeing as how the Sister likes 2PM and I’ve always sort of burst out laughing whenever they appear on variety shows, but I don’t see us investing too much effort into this. I mean, I don’t know? I see both sides of the story – why the fans are so angry and lashing out at them, but at the same time, why the group just wants to carry on (and obviously there is some MAJOR story behind the scenes here that we are not being told, and being told that we aren’t being told isn’t helping to calm the waters. Obviously JYPE needs some new marketing / PR people), so…I’m staying out of this storm. Somehow the two years in which I’ve spent in K-pop hasn’t been the best of years for various groups for various reasons…
For some happy news, Kim Yuna (S. Korea’s most famous female figure skater) has just pulled off a fabulous gold medal for the Winter Olympics with an ankle injury just a month before the competition. Congratulations to the pretty 19 year old for her gumption, brilliance, talent, and perseverance in the face of pain and competition like you wouldn’t believe it.
In other news, just caught J.K. Rowling’s speech (the full transcript is here, for the interested) on Fashion Nation for Harvard’s Commencement Address 2008 (don’t ask me why it’s only been brought up now – my only excuse is that 2008 was an abysmal year for me so I barely recollect it, and may have thus, missed out on the fabulous speech by one of my favourite children’s authors. She is, certainly, one of the better ones, on par with Eoin Colfer, author of the ever witty Artemis Fowl series, even if I had amnesia during her fifth Harry Potter book, and never bothered with the sixth or the seventh, having had such trouble with the fifth). Her experiences are humbling – one day, I wonder, will I ever write like that, and put words to what people think without ever saying? …I can only hope so.
Have been missing in action for a while, since it’s kind of hard to juggle eight dramas a week, on top of work, dance, Korean and Japanese classes, but I’m finally back – and mostly because today has been the BEST NIGHT of my life so I couldn’t possibly go to bed without letting everyone know!
This is old news on the K-entertainment sites like Omona by now, but just a short recap – The Esplanade (Singapore) brought in Oh Joon-Sung (Korea’s most sough-after composer/lyricist) to perform pieces that he has written for the soundtracks of several famous dramas, including: Boys Before Flowers, My Girl, Great Inheritance, My Love, Witch Amusement, The King and I, Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung, Dream, The Queen Returns, and Heading for the Ground.
This is what the blurb from the official SISTIC site says:
The Korean wave sweeps to Esplanade in February for two special evenings of songs and instrumental pieces from soundtracks of some of the most popular Korean drama series written by composer, arranger and lyricist, Joon-Sung Oh.
Considered one of Korea’s most sought-after composer/lyricist, Joon-Sung Oh, will direct his 9-piece band, Green Cacao and a 23-piece orchestra specially put together for the concert. Some of these songs will be accompanied by music videos from the dramas. Joining them will be Korean popstars Bobby Kim, Mario& and Shinee who will perform their signature tunes from the dramas, Dream, My Girl and Boys Over Flowers respectively.
So it’s not too hard to guess what I was doing tonight – I’m still on an adrendaline high from coming back from the concert.
I loved all the songs – Mario& was fantastic, Bobby Kim was great especially since he could actually speak English and we actually understood him, Oh Joon-Sung was hilarious, and if I hadn’t mentioned it by now, I’m also an absolute fangirl of SHINee, who performed two songs (Countdown in Dream, and Stand By Me in Boys Over Flowers). I’ll give a quick review of the concert (I’ll try to do the quick account on another post), which I thoroughly enjoyed and was worth the $130 I had to fork out for a Circle 1 AA row seat. The view from there was pretty good (I highly recommend either Circle 1 or Stall seats for those trying to figure out the best view for Esplanade’s Concert hall) and the acoustics were excellent. Not to mention Mario& were really strong live performers – their voices were brilliant, and basically held us spellbound. They did most of the singing – Bobby Kim came out for one song called Live or Die in Dream.
I didn’t have high expectations for the concert originally – I mean, I liked all the dramas that were highlighted in the programme, but I hardly expected to be entertained by all the “instrumental” pieces, yet I was. It also helped that they had a projection screen at the back that flashed drama scenes of whichever drama they were performing to – although there were two dramas in there that I’d never watched (amazing, considering my appetite for dramas), I determined to watch them as soon as possible. (In case you were wondering which dramas I was referring to, it’s “The King and I” and “The Queen Returns” – I’ve watched everything else.)
Oh Joon-Sung was also highly entertaining, although he spoke almost zilch English…perhaps, because he spoke almost zilch English and could only keep saying, “I love Singapore! I love Singaporeans”, to which we all cheered like mad. He also kept saying, “Thank you!” and “Music start!”, and when it came to Heading to the Ground (a drama led by DBSK’s leader, U-know Yunho), he asked us, “You know Yunho?”. Obviously, the immediate screams that accompanied that question answered it for him (I think it’s adorable how fangirl/boy-ing is internationally recognised). Upon hearing our response, he continued throwing out, “Dong Bang Shin Ki? [cue: fan screaming] Sunny? [repeat fan screaming] Yuri? [ditto the screams] SHINee? [cue: volume of fan screaming trebles! …including my own. Here, he actually had to pause for quite a while for us to calm down] Bobby Kim? [seriously I thought he said barbeque, and I bet that’s what half the crowd thought too cos there was an immediate drop in screaming…everyone was just going, huh? Why’s he talking about Korean food?]”
It’s quite hilarious because after he realised that about eighty percent of the crowd were here for SHINee, he kept telling us, “SHINee my best friend! Bobby Kim my best friend!” which was all sorts of win since everyone got worked up every time he threw out their names. (Poor Mario& just got sidelined. I honestly didn’t recognise them until I went home and pored over the programme.) There was a short interview in between, with the effectively bilingual host Li Yi, asking Oh Sung-Joon how he came up with his pieces (he told her that it was basically through experience and inspiration) and why he tries to intertwine classical pieces into his compositions (he said it was because he wanted to engage everyone faster by using something that they were already familiar with).
By this point in time, I was also really impressed by Mario& (I need to mention them, since I really do love their voices, and their live performance was just mindblowing) and Bobby Kim. Li Yi also came out to interview Bobby Kim (probably because he was the only one in there who could speak English) and the first thing she asked was, “Are you enjoying yourself in Singapore?” and he replied, “I love Singapore! [cue: fan screaming] Oh, and I love chilli crab! [cue: volume of fan screaming doubles…honestly, I was extremely pleased as well since it’s a dish we pride ourselves on.]” Apparently, Bobby Kim also realised that about eighty percent of the audience were SHINee fans because he then yelled out, “All the SHINee fans, hello!” […or something to that effect. The minute he mentioned SHINee, we lost our minds and yelled like mad, so I could hardly hear him over the noise]
After his song, before SHINee came on, Li Yi came out to introduce them. It was a bit of a joke because she barely said two words before the fans started screaming down the roof, and she was all like, “But…I haven’t even introduced them!” She then said, “For all the nunas in the crowd – I’m sure you know their song Nuna nomu yeppeo!” [Please just assume there’s consistently massive screaming going on everytime anyone even says SHINee]
Now, technically there’s supposed to be no photography or videography in the Esplanade – but c’mon. You kidding me? These are fangirls. They’re like, a right unto their own. I’d like to see the Esplanade staff try to stop a hundred people whipping out their cameras for SHINee’s performance (I think they only let us get away with it because we only did it during the last song, which was Stand by Me). Unfortunately they didn’t let us take photos (although I still did secretly…the photos came out quite badly though because I was trying to take without looking at my camera since I was afraid the Esplanade staff would confiscate my camera or something if she found out).
I felt a little terrible because right after SHINee performed their last song, there was a mass exodus of people – because there was an autograph session with all the performers after the concert that was to last for about 30 minutes. Obviously all the SHINee fans left, and I struggled with myself for one whole song whether I wanted to leave…and made up my mind to go just as the song ended (there was only one other song left, which was Paradise and I hate that song). It was a good thing though, because I managed to rush down in time to join the queue for the autograph session – and got to meet ALL OF THEM UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL. My only regret was that Bobby Kim wasn’t there but I guess I shouldn’t be too greedy, since it was good enough I got SHINee’s autographs on my program (it has now been laminated and will be kept forever and ever).
For a good while I was really worried I wouldn’t make it, since the Esplanade shortened the autograph-ing session to 25 minutes, for the sake of the celebrities (I do think they were exhausted, poor things). Fortunately, I made it past the screen so I knew I had a damn good chance of getting the signatures, and I basically started having silent panic attacks when it was my turn to get the program signed. I wanted to say a lot to them, but my brain shut down when I saw the boys smiling in my direction (their grins are lethal). I did manage to thank Oh Joon-Sung for the concert, and said his music was brilliant (which it was, no regrets about the $130 – would’ve been worth it even without the autograph session, although the autograph-ing just made it 10,000 times better).
When I got to Onew, and he looked up at me and smiled and said, “Thank you.” I swear my heart stopped for a moment. My friends and I did this collaborative polaroid book project for SHINee in commemoration of their trip to Singapore, by building them a ‘trail of photos’ through Singapore. We even made sections specifically for each member, tabbing the colours to what they wore in Nuna nomu yeppeo.
So anyway, when Onew smiled at me, I lost my mind and shoved the book at him, to which he politely placed aside since he still had to sign my program (and then a staff took it and gave me this look…like she was frankly amazed at all the various efforts people go to for them). To be honest, the first impression I had of Onew was that…he was actually larger than I thought he would be in real life. (Makes a girl feel oh-so-secure and warm, doesn’t it??!)
When I finally got to Key, my bias, I almost couldn’t breathe – I wanted to reach out to stroke his hair because of the colours. Despite the temptation, I managed to keep my hands to myself, and then he looked up at me and said, “Hi!” in that fabulous voice of his and I seriously almost lost it. I think I was screaming inside.
Taemin was cuter than I thought in real life, and so absolutely precious – he smiled shyly and thanked me after signing my program really quickly (his was probably the fastest signature since Onew had to draw a smiley face on his, and Key, being Key, just took up the biggest space on the program and made his signature really complicated looking).
I got to Jonghyun next – and that boy practically glows. I have to hand it to him – he’s either got a better skincare routine than me…or just damn good genes (or both). As he signed my program lazily, he looked up at me and STUCK HIS TONGUE OUT (in that “Merong” manner he does in Hello Baby). I was honestly a litte star struck. Okay, a lot star struck.
When I got to Minho, I think I couldn’t stop smiling, and he was such a sweet boy he smiled back really brightly. In real life, his eyes are huge, and really, really beautiful, and his voice is quite amazing. I think I couldn’t stop saying, “Thank you very much!” to all of them.
After they signed, Mario& signed and I was a little less star struck by them (considering I didn’t know who they were – I’m sorry!! But they’re actually really fantastic!) so I managed to tell one of the vocalists, “Your voice was really good!” (or something to that effect. I honestly can’t remember after having lost my mind so many times.)
I managed to hold myself in until I left the building…and then I jumped up and down like a wayward teenager (which I haven’t been for years, unfortunately). A few real teenagers gave me this look, especially since I was dressed really inappropriately to be hopping up and down so. I realised I had a really good vantage view of them from the outside, so whipped up my camera to take one last video…which turned out to be really clear and had a really good view of them signing the last few autographs and then leaving. (Thank goodness I lost the struggle with my morals when I did, because if I left any later I wouldn’t have been able to get the signatures! Or seen them in real life!)
If you want the video, leave a comment, because I’m not sure how to load it up on my blog. If I figure it out later, I’ll try to upload the video. It’s seriously quite excellent. I even managed to capture their manager hyung, Yoonduk (I recognised him from the disastrous episode I had trying to catch them at the airport. That didn’t work very well. I didn’t even manage to get to see them at the fansigning…but this concert COMPLETELY made up for it, and was like an extra bonus I didn’t expect! I was almost ready to quit the fandom, but this has completely resuscitated me).
All in all, an excellent night – the music was the rousing, the vocals were fantabulous, the people were hilarious, and I got to meet my favourite K-boyband. I am ready to take on the world!
P.S. Will update soon with more stuff I’ve been thinking of blogging but haven’t gotten around to.
[Edit: Took down the video because I am not pleased with hypocritical fans who get on their high horses and say they will NEVER do these kinds of things due to concert etiquette…my ass. Normally I would never, either, and I’m not proud that I have done, and did, but to hurl judgemental comments like that…all I can say is, that doesn’t reflect very well on their maturity EITHER.
Have closed off all comments. Sorry, this is my world, you can listen to me rant, but you can’t rant back, thanks.]
And the boys did it again – topping the charts in Inkigayo! Except, this time, instead of Jonghyun missing out, darling Onew missed out instead…because he’s down with the H1N1.
Yep. It just FIGURES. LOL – a typically Onew thing to do. Poor boy, I do hope he’s resting well at home now.
So yet another Hyung showed his dongsaengs love by showing up during their performance – if you guessed Leeteuk (leader of Super Junior) then bingo! It’s starting to be hilarious, with all the various members of Super Junior popping up every now and then during their performance (someone commented on Omona how SHINee was starting to seem somewhat like a Suju subset which is in itself quite funny too – I’m expected Heechul to pop out at any moment now if one of the others fall prey to the devious H1N1 making its rounds in the idol world, although it’s also strange how none of the news report any of the GIRLS getting it…)
To be honest, I think they got the sequencing of the guest appearances wrong, especially if you are looking at closeness of voice quality – they should have gotten Leeteuk to stand in for Jong on Friday, and Yesung to stand in for Onew tonight! Nonetheless, totallllly enjoying the performances, especially all the SM love going around (notice that f(x) went up once again to congratulate SHINee and better yet – they even participated in the ending “Ring Ding Dong”, which is quite frankly giving me stitches in the side from laughing. I like how all of them do the hip thrust movements; Amber in particular looks like she’s loving being fierce, which I think she is).
And yes Jong returned the favour by yelling into the screen, “Onew hyung, are you watching this?” (Some Onew love! After all the love Jong was getting being sick. Good boy, Jong!)
Videos below, all credit to: Codemonmon Season 4
P.S. For all the 2PM fans out there, they’re making a comeback next week with “Tired of Waiting”, so if you’re tired of waiting, then this is good news indeed! They’re not my bias, but I do enjoy their music, so I’m looking forward to their comeback stage, even if it’s without their leader Jaeboem. (Although rumours are running rampant throughout the internet about the possible comeback of Jae for this…but I doubt it, people, so don’t get your hopes up. It’d be great if he returned, eventually, but I think he might need more time before he can scrunch up the necessary courage to face the media. The media and fans and the rest of the world can be a rather terrifying opponent, after all. Courage, my man, courage!)
This might be a good time for SM to give SHINee a well-deserved break, because our boys look like they’re on the verge of collapse. Jong’s voice was…terrible in comparison to how he usually fares. And he looked like someone walked over his grave. Not a good thing. It was nice Minho got to sing more, but it’s not the same as Onew. So give all the boys a break and let them catch up on some sleep and homework and getting well from illnesses in general, SM! Please! Since, y’know, 2PM’s probably going to sweep the charts next week anyway. Since, y’know, Hottests are insane. I mean that in the nicest possible way.
MY BOYS WON! (Close shave, since SS501 was really near to winning as well)
And can I just say, how awesomely fierce it is to see a combination of my bias from Super Junior together with my greatest love in Kpop i.e. SHINee?
Source: CodeMonmon Season 4
For a second I thought he would only sing the front bit (LOL at the fact that he walks away coolly ignoring the fact that all of them have launched into their hip thrust movements) but since he came back just before the chorus, he DANCED TOO! I started laughing the minute I saw him hesitantly shuffle – and the fact that he’s half a beat slower than everyone else? Precious. I love Yesung for good reasons. He reminds me of Onew, really. (More Yeonew love below!)
Please note the “Jonghyun Hyung, saraenghaeyo!” shout-outs from all the members after the win, and then Yesung walking off in awkwardness thinking he wouldn’t be needed – BUT ONEW RUNNING AFTER HIM AND BRINGING HIM BACK! Is Onew just not the SWEETEST PERSON IN THE WORLD (and this is why he is my bias in SHINee, if it’s possible to have a bias within a bias)! He is so darling.