Saturday, March 31, 2007

After Performance Sightings

Today, I had a performance at Marsiling Community Club, "The Teacher, The Thief". But no, this post is not an after-performance account. What I'm about to write is something which I saw on my way back.

You see, as our show started early, and "The Teacher, The Thief" being a very short show, we finished rather early, at around 10pm. Having no mood to go back straight, I decided to take a detour. The idea of going to Kranji Way (the road that leads to Sungei Buloh nature reserve) came to my mind, as it has been ages since I last went there (but it was day time), and I liked the area there, especially that Kranji dam, with Kranji reservoir on one side of the road and the Straits of Johor on the other. Therefore, from BKE, I made an exit at the Woodlands south flyover, and head towards Kranji Way.

My memories of that area wasn't exactly very clear, but I remembered that if you travel all the way till the end of the road, you'd end up somewhere in Boon Lay or Choa Chu Kang. However, what I didn't remember was that this road was very, very long! Actually, it's not Kranji Way that is long. It's just that Kranji Way is linked to Neo Tiew Road, which is a long and windy single-lane road with nothing but tall bushes on both sides. Well, I wasn't particularly scared of travelling on this road, even though it's eeriely quiet and deserted. However, when I came to the end of Neo Tiew Road and turned into Lim Chu Kang road, I realised that I have came to the Choa Chu Kang cemetery area, and it was there I saw something which really made my hair stand.

As I passed by the Chinese cemetery area, I saw some cars parking by the side of the road, and I could see that in the pitch dark burial grounds, there were lights, coming from burning candles. Initially I thought it could be people doing tomb sweeping, but I realised that it wasn't just inside the cemetery, but at the entrance to the cemetery and outside as well. There were also people praying. I suddenly remembered that I once read of people who tried to ask for lucky numbers from the spiritual beings by making offerings to them in the cemeteries at night. I wondered if these people are just doing that? Although I wasn't particularly afraid of the supernatural stuffs (I believe they won't harm me, since I never like to disturb their peace), but I just felt chilling air flowing down my spine. I decided to ignore them and get out of the area as soon as I could...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Korean "The Phantom of the Opera"

While still on the topic of "The Phantom of the Opera", I've came across a few video clips on Youtube from this show. However, it's neither the London cast, nor the Singapore (Australian?) cast. It was an all-Korean cast, and everyone's singing in Korean!

"The Phantom of the Opera" trailer

"Think of Me" (half version - from the part Christine Daae changed her costume)

"Phantom of the Opera"

"Prima Donna"

"All I Ask of You" and "The Phantom of the Opera" (not from the stage show, but from a concert)

The Korean cast version was staged in 2002, starring Kim So-Hyun as Christine Daae (alternate), Ryu Jung-Han as Raoul and Yoon Young-Soek as the Phantom. For those who did not watch the production currently being stage at the Esplanade, or just haven't been there yet, the costumes and choreography of the Korean version is more or less similar to what I had seen at the Esplanade.

Watching "The Phantom of the Opera"

I was excited from the moment I woke up this morning, as I would be attending "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Esplanade. I have been anticipating this show to come to Singapore for a long time, as I had missed it when it came many years ago, and after listening to the orignal cast recording, I fell in love with it. It was lucky for me that I saw the performance notice on Sistic's website months ago, way before it was being advertised on TV. If not, I doubt I'd be able to get good seats, especially so when I had only a few available days to catch it.

When I arrived at the theatre, I was pleasantly suprised that there was a small section of the foyer cordoned up for a small exhibition. Well, there wasn't much things on display, just some ultra big posters decorated with heavy drapes. Looked nice though. I got another surprise shortly after, when I saw Mei and Qin walking towards my direction. Mei (used to be our opera troupe's member) and Qin are friends of Amai, and are die-hard fans of Takarazuka. From their seating arrangement, I thought they would be seated quite far from me, but later on I found out that they were only two to three rows away from my seat.

Anyway back to the show, I feel that the performance was quite well produced. Every team of the performance, all the way from backstage co-ordinators, orchestra and actors were very professional, and there wasn't much negative stuffs for me to pick out. However, it was still not really quite perfect. Like in act 1 scene 10, there was a bit of a problem with John Bowles' (taking on the role of Raoul) microphone, as his voice was sometimes loud, sometimes soft, sometimes crisp and clear while sometimes slightly muffled. Also, although John and the actress playing Christine Daae (I couldn't see clearly if this role was played by Rebecca Pitcher or her alternate Ana Marina) acted and sang well, their mutual feeling in this particular scene was a bit distant. In this scene, there was this classic kissing scene towards the end of their song "All I Ask Of You", and I just felt that something was lacking in their kissing. In fact, I think the kissing between Christine Daae and the Phantom (acted by Brad Little) at the last scene of act 2 was much better. Other than these slight glitches, the rest of the show was quite nice. I could never forget the chandelier which rose up to the ceiling of the theatre from the stage floor after the prologue, and how it came "crashing down" towards the end of act 1. Some of the audience even held their breath when the latter happened, as the chandelier was actually hanging above the audience seats. Not forgetting also the comical role of Prima Donna Carlotta (played by Pauline Du Plessis), which was one of the more vivid characters in the show (although I still prefer Minnie Driver in the movie version, just too bad that she didn't sing her parts in it).

What a splendid show this is, and it was such a sad anti-climax when the time for curtain call came. I hope to watch this show again, but I know that is not possible somehow, as the tickets are not cheap. Even if the tickets are cheaper, I doubt I can get anymore tickets now! Nevertheless, I'm still glad I had not missed this great show...

(On a sidenote: I was told by Qin that the Takarazuka version was completely different from this Andrew Lloyd Webber's version in terms of script and music, although both were adapted from the same novel. Now I'm curious to see how the Takarazuka's version is like!)

Phishing Emails

Recently, I've received at least 2 emails, coming from a source which claimed to be PayPal. The contents of the email was as such (words underlined and highlighted in blue were originally links to the so-called "PayPal" site, but had been removed by me for security reasons):

Unauthorized access to your PayPal account!

We recently noticed more attempts to log in to your PayPal account from a foreign IP address.

If you accessed your account while traveling, the unusual log in attempts may have been initiated by you. However, if you are the rightfull holder of the account, please visit Paypal as soon as possible to verify your identity:
Click here to verify your account

You can also verify your account by logging into your PayPal account at

If you choose to ignore our request, you leave us no choise but to temporaly suspend your account.

We ask that you allow at least 72 hours for the case to be investigated and we strongly recommend to verify your account in that time. Thank you for using PayPal!

The PayPal Team

Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and choose the Help link located in the top right corner of any PayPal page.To receive email notifications in plain text instead of HTML, update your preferences here

PayPal Email ID PP468

In this email, this source even used the PayPal logo and slogan from the original PayPal site, and also used "" as their email domain. However, what gave them away was the URL of the links, which were pointed to "" For all I know, PayPal does not have any other domain names, so this is obviously a fraud, and I immediately dropped a note to PayPal. Whether or not they'd be investigating this case, I'm not sure, but I feel that I should at least let them know that there's (yet) another crimminal organisation trying to impersonate them.

So people out there, if you're a user of PayPal, or even any websites which involves online payment, no matter if you're a regular user or not, please be cautious of such emails! For more information about phishing and how to fight against it, please visit PayPal's guide to phishing. Do not allow yourself to fall prey for despicable crimminal organisations trying to cash in on innocent folks like you and me!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thai Pop Duo: Lift & Oil

Well, I don't quite know how to introduce this Thai duo named Lift-Oil. To say that they're a boyband, they're passed the "legitimate age" already, but to say they're a pop-band, they don't even play any music instruments.

Lift-Oil's album "Der-Taa-2"

Anyway, Lift-Oil is one of the first few Thai artistes I listened to (the first being China Dolls, then Bird Thongchai followed by them). I originally knew of this duo (Lift and Oil, hence their group name is "Lift-Oil") from movies, and not from their songs. Back then, one of the leading VCD chains in Singapore was carrying some Thai movie VCDs, and hence I bought a few. Coincidentally, three of the shows featured them; "Jenny" featured Lift as the male lead and Oil as cameo, "18-80" featured Oil only and "A Miracle of Oam+Somwung" featured both guys as leads. After watching their shows, the usual curiousity in me made me did some search on their backgrounds, and realised that they are actually model-turned-actor-singers. And it's my curiousity again that made me buy their albums, and I think they are not too bad as a pop duo. Unfortunately, that album I bought was like their last album release with their previous company RS Promotion. They did not renew their contract with them, and since then they have been concentrating on their television drama career. (I don't buy Thai television drama serials because they don't come with subtitles and I won't be able to understand)

3 movies featuring Lift, Oil, or both

However, months ago, I happened to find some new MV clips from this duo again, and that made me very happy. This time round, instead of singing the usual bubblegum pop or dance pop, they're now singing north-eastern Thai/ Laos folk song! I then realised that these new sets of MV clips were actually soundtracks of their latest "lakorn" (drama serial) named ""Kan Lum Kong"", based on north-eastern Thai settings. That made me very curious and wanted to get hold of the show, but then again, if there's no subtitles, I'd have to seriously reconsider my option!

"Thai Lum Dum Pun" from lakorn "Kan Lum Kong" by Lift and Oil

"Kan Lum Kong" from lakorn "Kan Lum Kong" by Oil

"Ror Ruk" (Waiting for Love) from lakorn "Kan Lum Kong" by Lift

"Ror Ruk" (Waiting for Love) from lakorn "Kan Lum Kong" by Oil

"Yang Ni Tong Ruk Loei" from "Der-Taa-2" album by Lift and Oil

"Niew Goi" from one of their very early albums by Lift

"Suan Tahng" from one of their very early albums by Oil

Of Potato and Thailand

A colleague of mine just returned from her holidays in Bangkok, and has gotten me the latest karaoke VCD for Potato. I'm grateful for her effort, because according to her, she was almost like "a chicken talking to a duck" when trying to find out where she could get the Thai CDs. And guess, what, she got the VCD from a 7-11 shop! This is interesting, for although I know our local 7-11 shops sometimes do sell exclusive compilation CDs, I'm didn't know 7-11 shops elsewhere do sell mainstream pop CDs too.

Potato's latest karaoke VCD "Sense"

Anyway, still on the topic of Potato, a friend of mine just told me yesterday that he would be leaving for Bangkok today, to catch Potato's concert tomorrow! I'm so envious and jealous! He had just visited Krabi in January and now he's going Bangkok again, whereas for me, I have been thinking of when would my next trip to Thailand since 3 years ago, but till now it's still not materialised yet. To make matter worse, for the past 1 year, many people around me had already gone to Bangkok, or some other parts of Thailand, and back, and all I could do is slog away in "Little Thailand" of Singapore!

Look at the top third picture and it's captions; Fahrenheit's VDO is available for download even in Thailand! Thailand pop culture is unique in the sense that for their pop charts, they consist of all kinds of songs, from Thai to Mandarin to English, instead of classifying songs of different langauges into different charts

But, I might have a chance to soon, as Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) is just around the corner, and my Thai friend's birthday falls just during the festive season. He had recently invited me to go over to the place he lives now, Koh Samui, during the period, and according to what I have checked, the budget airline tickets are not expensive. He said also that he would settle the lodging for me, and that means all I have to pay is just for the airfares, as well as my own expenditures there. However, there is a small problem: I only have 2 days of annual leave for this year. Which means, I'll have to use up all of them, plus take a day or two of unpaid leave, if I really want to go. That's a tough decision to make!

An MV from "Sense" - "คนกลาง" (Kon Glaang - Middleman)

Monday, March 05, 2007

My Number One Idol

Prologue: Before reading on, I urge you not to look at the attached pictures in this post, before you even finish reading the first paragraph.

In this post, I’m going to talk about my number one idol in the music scene. No, my number one idol is not Fahrenheit, Potato or Sai Sai; in fact I’ve never even mentioned this idol before in my blog. Okay, to give you some hints: first, my idol’s a “she”; second, she used to be a musical spokesperson for Qiong Yao’s drama serials, alongside Gao Shengmei and Bai He Er Chong Chang; third, she was better known for her unisexual outfits in the 90s. So who on earth is she? She’s E-jun, more commonly known as Li Yijun.

I’m not sure if you people have ever heard of her, but in the past when I tell my friends that I liked her, they’d usually give me a blank or bewildered look in return. To some, they’ve never even heard of her, but immediately recognised her when I remind them of her hit song “Promise in the Wind” (Feng Zhong De Cheng Nuo). To some others, they were surprised that I actually listen to her songs, for they feel that I should be more into bubble-gum pop songs by “Little Tigers” (小虎队) or “Red Hot Boys” (红孩儿). Actually, I myself find it unbelievable too, for E-jun’s the only singer whom I really listen that sings melancholic songs. Perhaps it was her unisexual outfit, plus her wide vocal range (she could hit very high notes, and her low octaves were good too, all thanks to her Peking opera background – she was trained in the field of “laosheng”) that had attracted me initially. Subsequently, it was her singing potential that made me like her more. For those who do not know her, she was one rare singer who had tried different styles of music and successfully gave a distinctive touch to them. About a decade ago, she made news by releasing an album, consisting of covers of songs which were considered to be too “masculine” for a female singer to sing. Years later, she suddenly jumped into the world of Hokkien pop, and became one of the very few Mandarin song singers to be ever crowned the “Quen of Hokkien Pop”. Later on, she was also given the title of “Quen of Oldies”, for her interpretation of Chinese oldies, making them her own style.

So, why am I talking about her all of a sudden? It’s because this afternoon, while I was hunting for the final instalment for “Hana Kimi”’s DVD set, I came across E-jun’s latest album in the music store. Well, though latest, it wasn’t very new, because it was actually released in June last year. I had actually seen the CD on sale in the same store a few months back, but I didn’t buy it, because I realized that the album wordings were in simplified Chinese. Not that I was skeptical of China-produced albums again, but my first impression that it was one of those “unofficial” compilation albums produced by some unknown China companies out to cash out on popular artistes. E-jun, from what I knew, was never signed on to a China records company. Today, however, after taking a closer look at the packaging, I realized that the songs inside were all brand new songs. I was surprised, because I thought E-jun had just switched company barely a few years back, and what’s more, this time round, it’s a China-based company. Nevertheless, I decided to buy it in support for my number one idol. The packaging was alright, but inside the album, there was a poster of her, all folded up! That was something I hate, especially when the fold was directly across her face! But then again, I won’t know what to do with the poster, if it’s those regular rolled-up poster like the one that came with Fahrenheit’s album (it was still sitting inside a tube holder at a corner of my room).

Now as I’m typing, I’m listening to her latest album. Not too bad, I would say, although she no longer sing those ultra melancholic songs in high octaves, since these songs are not in favour nowadays. She’s now more matured and mellow, probably as a result of her blissful marriage to actor Jian Chang.

Epilogue: As I was surfing the net just now, I stumbled upon E-jun and Jian Chang’s family blog! I am over the moon now!

Goodbye "Hana Kimi", Hello "Chu Chu, My Daddy" and "Summer x Summer"

With the final installment of "Hana Kimi"'s 3-part DVD set being on sale now, it's finally time to bid goodbye to "Hana Kimi". I've bought the DVD set, and had finished watching the last episode last night. However, for the sake of those who have yet to finish the show, I shall not comment on the ending.

Now that it's curtains call for "Hana Kimi" already, let me introduce you to another 2 shows by GTV: "Chu Chu, My Daddy" (親親小爸) and "Summer x Summer" (熱情仲夏). The former is already on-air via CTS since 14 February, while the latter would take over "Hana Kimi"'s timeslot.

After watching a few school dramas in a row ("Hana Kimi"'s setting is in a tertiary institute, "It Started With A Kiss"'s setting is in high school and polytechnic, "KO One"'s setting is in high school), "Chu Chu, My Daddy" comes as a refreshing change. Although there's still school essence in the show, it was still not as strong. This show tells the story of Liu Furong, a typical "Tai Ke" (something like a Singapore version of "Ah Beng") who suddenly became the "step-father" of three orphaned sisters due to some unexpected twist of events. This role of "step-father" was somehow very unusual, because firstly, Liu Furong did not have any relationship with the deceased mother of the trio at all, and secondly, Ah-Rong was about as young as the eldest sister, Jenny Hong. Despite the unlikeness of him being a "stepfather" to the trio, he was determined to take care of the sisters, who had very diverse character and temperament.

"Summer x Summer", on the other hand, is another school comedy drama, starring Joe Cheng ("It Started With A Kiss" fame) and Chen Yizhen (a.k.a. "Wu Xiong", "of "KO One" fame). The story was somehow similar to "It Started With A Kiss", telling the story of a plain-Jane Xiaya falling in love with her suave but arrogant schoolmate Ouyang Lei. The show is still not on-air yet, so I'm not too sure how's the whole show like (I've read the synopsis from GTV's website, but it was too lengthy so I stopped after reading a few paragraphs), but I can safely say that the similarity between this show and "It Start With A Kiss" only ends here. Therefore, there's no need to worry if it was a clone of the former.
I've already started watching "Chu Chu, My Daddy", and had finished three episodes so far. This show is rather enjoyable despite there isn't any "stella cast", as it's very funny. At the same time, I'm waiting for "Summer x Summer" to air. Hopefully this show will be available for watching via Youtube just like "Hana Kimi"!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Finally Finished Watching "KO One"

I've finally finished watching "KO One", in just three days. Even I myself find it surprising, as it actually took me over 2 years to finish "Tales From Qinhuai River" (Taiwanese opera drama serial "Qin Huai Yan Yu" by Ye Qing)! To be honest, I'm more into Chinese opera than Taiwanese drama serial, so what made me more enthusiastic in them? I believe, it's the "fun" factor. Taiwanese drama serials sometimes have rather cute and interesting storylines which makes you want to find out what they have to offer in the upcoming episodes. Chinese opera, although has more captivating charm to me, sometimes just work out the same way. I guess, one has to be really focused when watching Chinese opera!

Anyway, "KO One" is quite an interesting show, although in terms of humour and plot, it still doesn't match up to "Hana Kimi" or "It Start With A Kiss". The general storyline tells about how a bunch of problematic high school teenagers who are equipped with supernatural capabilities got drawn into the world of Dark Forces, and how they lead their entire class into subduing the Evil One. Well, my synopsis may not be accurate, because this show's quite hard to summarise; just imagine a drama with a bit of arcade and RPG gaming and slapstick comedy essence in it! There were, of course, some inperfect parts of the show, including awkward exit and entrance of various minor roles. For example, the role of Tian Xin, the form teacher of this class who was being targetted as the next potential fighter by the Evil One, did not appear on screen again after she was being kept away in a secret place, nor was it mentioned anywhere what happened to her subsequently. Also, the fate of several other key roles who were abducted by the Evil One were not mentioned either by the time the show ended. Could this be a hint that the producers might be planning a sequel to this show? It's hard to say!

Anyway, some trivias about this show:
  1. What's the similarities between "KO One", "ISWAK" and "Hana Kimi"? They're all shows produced by GTV, and featured Jiro either as first or second male lead.
  2. All 4 members of Fahrenheit took part in the show, but Chun only took on a non-speaking cameo role, appeared briefly in various episodes and only get to speak 4 lines in the final few minutes of the last episode.
  3. There are many celebrity cameos in the show, including Jiu Kong, Xie Lijin and Xiao Gui.
  4. Cai Yizhen and Chen Zhenwei's on-screen character names "Wu Xiong" and "Fu Tou" became their artiste names respectively after this show. Even Jiro's nickname "Da Dong" came from this show.
  5. Other than Jiro, Tang Yuzhe (Lei Ke Si), Zhang Haoming (Jin Baosan), Chord (Sha Yu) and Gong Ji'an (Ji An) took part in "Hana Kimi" as well.

Overall, this show is nice, if all you want is entertainment and humour. Afterall, this is more of a show targetting at making audience laugh, and not think seriously about!

Another Dissatisfory China-produced DVD!

Recently I was told by Amai that I could get original Taiwanese drama DVDs off the Yahoo Auction at a much lower price. I was abit skeptical in the first place, but decided to try my luck.

I saw a show I had always wanted to get, "KO One", starring Jiro, Calvin and Aaron from Fahrenheit. There was one problem: the DVD sets listed were either self-burnt, or doesn't look like Taiwan-released versions. If you have read my previous posts, I had mentioned before that I had no confidence in China-produced DVDs, due to their inferior quality in general. When I saw the image of the DVD cover from the auctioner, I was hesitant, because the words on the DVD cover, other than the title, were in simplified Chinese. For those who had no idea what's the difference between simplified and traditional Chinese character system, the former is used in Singapore, Malaysia (Malaysia actually uses a mix of simplied and traditional systems on different occasions) and China, whereas Chinese from elsewhere (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) uses traditional Chinese. Therefore, the words on the cover gave me the impression this DVD set is not produced in Taiwan. However, I still dropped the auctioner a message, asking her where the DVD set was produced, of which she replied "Taiwan". I decided to gave her the trust, because her ratings in the auction doesn't seemed to be too bad. I was wrong.

When I got the DVD set by post, I scanned through the entire packaging carefully, and failed to find any company name listed (although there's a copyright notice at the back). I started to get worried, as no authentic commercially produced material would not carry the name of the production company. The contents of the DVD package was a dismay too; the discs were all packed inside CD pockets, something which I do not like because one might scratch or dirty the discs if you are not careful in taking out or putting them back. As for the video content, disc one to six are alright; the video quality is clear, but not so sharp as my original Taiwan-released "ISWAK" or Singapore-released "Hana Kimi". For disc seven onwards, it was a totally different story; the episodes recorded in these discs were obviously recorded off TV, as GTV's (the TV network which produced and airred the show) logo was embedded into the video, and there was annoying scrolling text commercial on the lefthand edge of the video at times. Worst of all, the video quality wasn't sharp, as if watching a poorly produced VCD, and the audio was slightly muffled too.

It was a total waste of money buying it, and hence you see, I have my reasons for not having confidence in China-released DVDs, except for some Chinese opera ones. So from now on, no thanks to China-released DVDs!

On a side note, I got my DVD set on Tuesday night, and had actually finished all 20 episodes by this morning. Crazy right?!