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CHRONICLE

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THE NANYANG

O C T OBER 6 , 20 0 8 | V OL 15 NO 4 | IS SN NO 0 218 -7310 | W W W. N T U. EDU. S G / C HRONIC L E

KITTY CAT FEEDING Feed them the right way at cat cafes

HOMEMADE

GOODNESS Taste ice-cream made with a local twist

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HITTING THE

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PLUS: 15 PAIRS OF TROPIC THUNDER MOVIE PREVIEW TICKETS TO BE WON INSIDE PA

NTU experts forecast tough times

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IN A FLURRY: The US financial crisis will be felt in Singapore in late 2008 and early 2009. PHOTO | INTERNET

NTU economists predict slow GDP growth and oil prices to stabilise at US$80-100 a barrel JESSICA YEO BE PREPARED to tighten your pursestrings, as Singapore’s economic growth is expected to slow in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown and US housing crisis, according to the latest forecast from NTU’s Economic Growth Centre. The university’s economists expect the 2008 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to come in at the lower end of the government’s 4-5% growth forecast. However, the expected GDP growth could drop “subject to further (negative) risks

such as a US recession,” said Dr Choy Keen Meng, and added that this would affect Singapore’s export-centered economy. “The model I used for the Singapore economy forecasts has got multiple equations that take into account… relationships between key… variables of the economy such as GDP growth, inflation, foreign demand, the exchange rate, etc,” said Dr Choy, who has been forecasting Singapore’s economy since his days as an economist at the Monetary Authority of Singapore in 1988. With a falling GDP, the man on the street is likely to suffer reduced wages and stiff competition in the job sector. University economist Dr Randolph Tan who specialises in econometrics, a study >> CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Ace yo presen in style


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news

AU G US T 2 5, 20 0 8

T H E NA N YA NG C H RON IC L E

Let your voices be heard More students come forth to vote for their Union Representatives from the different schools

time around, with more students stepping up to vote. Third-year CEE student Stanley Goh said he would cast his vote for someone who has the potential and is interested in addressing the needs of the students. “It’s the way they advertise themselves. The candidates put in a lot of effort. I have worked with some of them closely before.”

FARAH ELIAS UNION Day was held on August 21 with Senior Associate Provost Professor Er Meng Hwa as the guest-of-honour. Professor Er was greeted by a lion dance troupe at the opening ceremony. In his speech, he welcomed Union Day as a day to celebrate the achievements of the Students’ Union in the past year as well as choose the new leaders to represent the students. “The Students’ Union is the flag bearer of the university activities and over the years, has fortified the universit y’s position as a leading learning institute,” said Professor Er. He added that 2008 has been a landmark year for NTU – a recordsetting year for fund raising. He highlighted the two-day donation drive to help Li Bingbing, a student of NTU diagnosed with leukaemia. The total sum raised amounted to more than $80000.

EXERCISING YOUR VOTE: Vote for the next Union Representative. PHOTO | TAN ZI JIE

Chairman of the event, Paul George, 20, said: “Union Day is also about exercising your choice and voting for the people you believe in.” There are 16 clubs involved in Union Day – 13 academic constituent clubs and 3 nonacademic ones. Outgoing President of the 17th Students’ Union, Choudhury Anshuman Das, 22, said: “This year, we made sure that those running for Union Representative k new that they were joining

the Students’ Union Executive Committee. Once they are elected as Union Representative, they are detached from their respective school clubs." C iv i l a nd Env i ron me nta l Engineering (CEE) student, Xiao Meng, 21, is running for Union Representative and wishes to implement special projects to encourage student participation. “I want more of the school population to get involved in activities.” Response from the student population has also improved this

Union Day is also about exercising your choice and voting for the people you believe in. Paul George, 20 Chairman Union Day

The Union Representatives who will make up the 18th Students’ Union Executive Committee have a lot to live up to. Das said: “I hope the next committee will continue working on what we have been trying to establish, such as the S/U option and free parking.”

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

NTU the new home for 2010 Youth Games It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be serving the Olympic community. Choudhury Anshuman Das, 22 President 17th Students' Union Executive Committee

WELCOME, WORLD: NTU will be upgrading a number of its halls and facilities to house the international athletes. PHOTO | FILE

Me a nwh i le , a t h i r d-ye a r business undergraduate, Lim Jian Liang, feels that air-conditioned accommodation is a gesture of hospitalit y and is needed to portray a good image. Lim, who also represents NTU in basketball, has no qualms about having airconditioned accommodation with extra costs.

NUS students such as Seah Ru Han have expressed their disappointment over the relocation of the village. “It’s just another hit to the publicity efforts,” said the political science major from the Faculty of Arts and Social Science.. On t he ot he r ha nd C he n Qiaozhi, an NUS economics major,

remained positive and hopes that both universities can work together to be part of the Games come 2010. The Games is slated to be held between August 14th and 26th. D u r i n g t h i s p e r io d , t h e university is considering an option of delaying the academic term by two weeks. Preparation and

involvement during the games may take up the entire month of August 2010. And while Ghazi Al Qudcy, 25, a first-year School of Art, Design and Media student acknowledged t hat opinions may differ, he welcomes the delay of the 2010 academic year. “I don’t see a problem as it will mean a longer break,” he said. Nevertheless, students should look at this as a great opportunity to showcase Singapore and the u n i v e r s i t y s a id C houd h u r y Anshuman Das, president of the 17th Students’ Union Executive Committee. “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be ser ving the Olympic community,” he said. “And we are proud to be part of this significant event.”

news flash THAI PM SAYS THAKSIN CAN KEEP his diplomatic passport despite calls by anti-government protesters to strip the ousted premier of all his travel documents. THE THIRD GENERATION iPHONE has finally arrived last Friday after a long wait, with SingTel the first carrier of the iPhone 3G in Singapore. ZHANG YINING BEATS LI JIAWEI in the China versus Singapore table tennis semifinals in the Olympics, beating her four sets to one. IOC ASKS FOR INQUIRY OF Chinese gymnasts to investigate whether members of the Chinese women's team were too young to compete in the Olympics. SEVENTY IN PAKISTAN DIE IN two suicide bomb attacks outside Pakistan's biggest weapons factory complex. SINGAPORE WILL HOST THE 40th Asean Economic Ministers and related meetings from August 25th - 29th. MEDIACORP SAYS JADE SEAH will not be taken off the Olympics news programme, Today in Beijing, despite accidentally uttering an expletive on last Wednesday's episode. SOME THIRTEEN THOUSAND dollars worth of drugs were seized by the Central Narcotics Bureau on Thursday in a sting operation. Three Singaporeans were arrested. SINGAPORE COUPLES TURNING to assisted reproduction techniques such as in-vitro fertilisation will have their treatments subsidised by up to half, thanks to government policies to promote childbirth. RUSSIA FREEZES ITS MILITARY co-operation with NATO and allied countries on Thursday, as both parties' relations take a turn for the worse after Russia invaded Georgia. USA WILL NOT CONFIRM IF former Pakistani president, Pervez Musharaff, will be granted asylum in the country, following Musharaff's resignation from his post to avoid impeachment. UP TO 150 MAY HAVE DIED IN Madrid when the jet plane they were travelling on skidded off the Madrid airport runway and burst into flames on Wednesday night. CHINESE ATHLETE LIU XIANG may receive up to US14.6m in insurance pay-out for his longstanding tendon injury, which forced him to withdraw from his 110 metre hurdles heat in the Beijing Olympics. BOSNIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST a pigeon for alllegedly smuggling drugs into a prison.


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Hall mosquito breeding sparks NEA alert FARAH ELIAS RECENT checks by health officers have prompted t he Nat iona l Environment Agency (NEA) to disseminate a news aler t via email on mosquito breeding in the university for the first time. T he ema i l was ci rc u lated among all hall residents, reminding students to keep their hall vicinity free of stagnant water. Ac cor d i ng to N E A: “ T he message aims to alert students of possible mosquito breeding in the school compound and hostels.” The agency also aims to educate them on dengue prevention steps and infor m them of the f ine imposed should any mosquito breeding be detected. The agency conducts checks periodically or when feedback from members of the public is received. Hall residents may be fined $200 if they are responsible for creating favourable mosquito breeding grounds. Hall officer Loh Kwai Fun said the email sent out was more of a precautionary message than a stern warning. She believes that with the new academic year, it is especially “benef icia l to f resh men who are staying in halls for the first time.” “Drains generally tend to be neglected. The cleaners are given instructions to ensure that there

“At night, the hall 12 bus stop has been the worst mosquito spot I have known in my four years living in hostel,” said 24-year-old civil engineering student Venkat Balakrishnan.

At night, the hall 12 bus stop is the worst mosquito spot I have known in my four years living in hostel. Venkat Balakrishnan, 24 Civil Engineering student

MOVING IN FOR THE KILL: Students would like fogging to be done twice a week. PHOTO | FILE

is no stagnant water in the apron drains so as to prevent mosquito breeding,” said Ms Loh, adding that weekly fogging is carried out in all the halls. Another preventive measure is ensuring that the pest control cont ractor car r ies out work s

according to the schedule approved by NTU, said Mr Tan Teck Hoon, a higher technical officer of the Office of Facilities Planning & Management. Despite efforts by the school management, some places around campus still attract mosquitoes.

What have you seen? What have you heard? What do you do? What do you know? Whatever it is, if it’s new, we’d like to hear about it. Send us your tip-offs, your tips, or just stuff you think is interesting and you’d like the rest of the university to know about. It could make it into the next issue of the Chronicle. Call 6790 6446 or e-mail us at chronicle@ntu.edu.sg

Spread the word. Call the Chronicle

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He added that as a bet ter prevent ive measure, fogging could be done twice weekly. S e c ond-y e a r me c h a n ic a l engineering student Muhammad Tauf iq Hawazi, 23, said t hat hall residents should help each other by looking out for potential mosquito breeding spots around their area. They should also be more responsible when disposing of unwanted items. “J C RC s c o u l d a l s o h o l d discussions or put up posters around halls on ways to discourage mosquito breeding,” he added.

HOW TO KEEP MOSQUITOES AT BAY: s

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Do not leave any receptacles or utensils on the corridor ledge as it may collect water when it rains. Change water in vases in alternate days. Remove water from flower pot plates on alternate days. Turn over all water storage containers and keep them dry. If vacating your hostel room, cover and seal unused toilet bowls and all gully traps in the toilet. Inform the facilities and management staff should you come across any potential mosquito breeding sites.

Crisis: what to do TEO WAN GEK NEWS EDITOR STUDENTS may find themselves at a loss when a friend or hall mate behaves abnor mally on campus, but the best solution is to not handle it on their own, said Campus Security. Two weeks ago, Hall 1 residents fou nd t hem se lves i n suc h a situation. One of their hall mates had caused a ruckus in hall that continued throughout the day, disturbing residents. He threw broomsticks and mops from the third storey and sent threatening text messages to some. A bottle of thinner was left outside the door of one of the residents, which seemed to threaten fire. As the situation escalated, the residents started to worry, but they did not know what to do. The residents decided to notify the Hall 1 off ice, which sent down an officer to assess the situation. But the troubled resident was nowhere to be found, so the residents were told to submit a formal complaint via email so that the matter could be reflected to higher authorities. Campus Security were called

down later in the evening. Hall 1 JCRC President Justin Lim, 22, said: “He was taken away by them in a non-violent manner. The Campus Security conducted themselves in due.” A Hall 1 resident who declined to be named said: “We wanted to find the person who did this, to talk to him and understand the problem.” However, Campus Security advises students not to engage or confront anyone who is behaving abnormally, but to call them at 67904777 immediately. T he A ssistant Di rector of Campus Security, Mr Leo Ong, said: “Ultimately, the objective is to ensure that the person does not present a safety threat to himself or others before being referred to the relevant agency for professional assistance.” Such situations could have been averted if students knew what were the signs of problems to look out for. Case Coordinator Frank Chan of the Student Counselling Centre said a student who is having a psychological problem or issue shou ld show s y mptoms such as withdrawing from his usual activities and people or becoming irritable or aggressive.


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O C TO B E R 6 , 20 0 8

T H E NA N YA NG C H RON IC L E

Cat cafes flourish here FARAH ELIAS

BON APPETIT!: A campus cat tucks into food served by a feeder at a "cat cafe" in hall. PHOTO | AHMAD ISKANDAR

Soft words over spiked story JOANNA HOR BLOGS have been buzzing about NTU for two weeks, after an article was removed from the most recent issue of the Nanyang Chronicle just before it was printed. The article concerned opposition politician Dr Chee Soon Juan’s visit to campus last month. Some students were dismayed by what they saw as an issue of press freedom. One former student, Clarence Chua, 24, set up a FaceBook group to discuss the issue. He said the group ‘Stand up for media freedom on campus’ was to provide a platform for others to rally around. “I hope to use it to organise a legal protest against the whole issue,” he said. Second-year Communication Studies student Dawn Lum is a member of the group, and she felt that the university was being too restrictive. “You feel indignant, because you are not given the chance to voice yourself and you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re merely reporting something that’s happening.” At the same time, the Online Citizen, which aims to reflect the views of the average Singaporean, ran an article about the issue. In a statement, President Su Guaning said that he noted the “disquiet on the part of some students concerning the university decision on the contents of the last issue of Nanyang Chronicle.

“Generally, in consideration of the educational objectives the university would not interfere in editor ial mat ter s. In t his case, there is the potential of an unsolicited visit being given publicit y in furtherance of a political objective. "The risk that the university is seen as being used for the political agenda of the uninvited visitor had to be mitigated by exercising the university’s ownership rights. “As publisher of the Chronicle, the university is responsible for its contents,” he added. However, this has failed to appease some individuals who have expressed their disapproval with the university’s decision, citing that it was restricting freedom of information. Dr Su said that there are existing channels for student dialogue and discussion, and that students should tap on these through faculty. “The Chair of the Wee Kim Wee School and I have been engaged in ongoing discussions since the event, and consulting with faculty,” he said. Dr Benjamin H. Detenber, Chair of the Wee Kim Wee School, said, “this has a challenging episode for many faculty and students, but we are trying to learn from it. "We intend to carry on in much the same we have in terms of our educational mission and promoting professional training through student media.”

DEPENDING on whom you ask, the cats that live on campus can be considered pets or pests. But a communit y of loyal cat advocates have come a long way since their inception in 2006 to help bridge the differences bet ween these cats and their human counterparts who live and study in NTU. The Cat Management Network was awarded the Animal Protectors Grant in August at Singapore’s first ever Animal Welfare Symposium to conduct a research project to study the management of cats in the community. T he new scheme prov ides grants to groups who have an idea for a project that will have a positive impact on animal welfare in Singapore. Only six grants were awarded this year. In addition, the net work’s revamped website will include a public adoption page that fulfils the network’s aim to get cats in NTU adopted. It currently has a team of 100 volunteers who feed cats on rotating shifts at each of the seven “cat cafes” in campus. These cafes are situated at areas in halls of residences that have been approved

by hall officers. “The number of cat-related complaints that were received by OFPM (the Office of Facilities Planning and Management) before we started was up to 30 per month. This was reduced to less than 10 in the first year of the cafes being set up,” said Ms Chua Sok Hoon, president of the network. Ms Chua added that the cat population in campus has halved since the network’s start, a sign that the sterilisation campaign was successful. The OFPM aids the network by subsidising food for the 50-odd cats around campus and managing stray ones, which have not been sterilised, by sending them to the Agri-Food and Veterinar y Authority, said higher technical officer Tan Teck Hoon. Effor ts by t he net work in managing the cat population in a humane way have also caught the attention of freshmen who find the idea of such cafes interesting. The concept originated in the Mediterranean and is very popular in the United States. First-year Linguistics and Multilingual Studies student, Siti Halimah, 20, said the network “made their presence felt right at the start of the semester during the

CCA fair”. She has since signed up as a cat feeder. De s pite it s pr og r e s s , t he network still faces challenges such as lack of manpower during school holidays since most of its catfeeders are international students staying in halls who return to their home country during semester break, said Ms Chua. Indiscr iminate feeding by residents is a lso a cause for concern as not only is it against hall regulations, cats become over reliant on residents who will not be able to take care of them when they leave the hall. T he ne t wor k e nc ou r a ge s students to join them as volunteers and feed the cats responsibly at cat cafes so that the cats will learn where they can get proper, regular meals. As a cat-lover, second-year English Literature student Shyra Shazwani Kamarudin, 20, prefers the network’s approach in the management and care of stray cats in NTU to the Cat Welfare Society, which mainly advocates sterilisation, and is considering joining as a volunteer. “Joining the net work will hopefully benefit both the student and cat population. Plus, I get to do something I enjoy,” she said.

Close ties sealed the deal SYAFIQAH OMAR NTU has inked an agreement with a top Swedish university that could see students here visit top research institutes run by companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Saab. Linköping Universit y President Mille Milnert signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NTU Provost Bertil Andersson on September 10th, in what the provost has called a “win-win” situation for both institutions. Professor Martin G. Helander, from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), said the two universities will look into in dual doctorate programme for research and education. Professor Helander led the team that went to the city of Linköping in Sweden before the agrement was signed, visiting research institutes such as the Saab Aerospace Center and the Mjärdevi Science Park. Saab Aerospace Center and L i n köpi ng Un iver sit y have extensive research experience in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or unpiloted aircrafts. Professor Helander said the memorandum will help NTU tap into this expertise. Also, the Mjärdevi Science Park is home to 230 knowledge and development-based companies, such as Er icsson a nd Nok ia, which have established research institutes there. Its success will offer an insight into setting up

similar support activities in Singapore. Both Professor Andersson and Professor Helander were previously from Linköping University, and their close affiliations contributed in a big way to the agreement’s realisation. Professor Andersson was Linköping University’s president t i l l 20 03, wh i le Professor Helander was Head of Division of Industrial Ergonomics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering till he joined NTU in 1999. “In this case there is a strong and friendly connection between the current administrations of

both universities that makes it much more personal,” said Professor Helander. Engineering students are hopeful that such collaborations will enhance their university experience. Third-year MAE student, Zack Wu Di, 22, who w i l l also go on exchange there said: “Studying in (Linköping Un i v e r s it y ) w i l l i nc r e a s e my chances of working for a Swedish company such as Volvo, which is my dream job after graduating. “Also, I believe that the e x per ience w i l l ref i ne my engineering mind as well as hone my creativity.”

FRIENDLY RELATIONS: The new Memorandum of Understanding was made, in part thanks to NTU's links with the Swedish university, pictured here. PHOTO | INTERNET


Sports

A hole in one? To find out, swing along to Page 35

Beijing Olympics: Ups & Downs The greatest sporting event in the world has had its fair share of thrills and spills. Farah Elias looks back at eight epic moments that will go down in the history books for their sheer drama.

UPS

Jamaicas Lightning Bolt

Chinas Redeem Team Combining raw power and grace, the Chinese men’s gymnastics team delivered a stunning performance before of a largely Chinese crowd. Chen Yibing and Li Xiaopeng earned high points on the rings and vault with 16.575 and 16.775 respectively, racking up a total of 286.125 points. Winning gold on home soil certainly put their 2004 disappointment in Athens behind them. The Chinese gymnasts won seven out of the eight possible golds, displaying total domination in the gymnastics arena.

Usain Bolt brought the 91,000-strong crowd to its feet in the 100m finals as he cruised his way to a new world record of 9.69s. No one came close as he led the last 30m with a twometre margin, finishing in style as he thumped his chest in triumph. It was a similar story in the 200m finals, as he won comfortably with a world record time of 19.30s, becoming the first man to conquer the sprint double world record since 1976.

End of a 48-year drought

Episode 8 of the Michael Phelps Show After his spectacular win in the 100m butterf ly by a mere hundredth of a second, the ‘Baltimore Bullet’ created history in his final event, the men’s 4 x 100m medley relay. USA edged out second place Australia in a world record time of 3min 29.34s. Phelps got his coveted eighth gold, beating Mark Spitz’s record of seven in a single Olympics. If Phelps was a country, he would be in the top ten of the medal table; with seven new world records and one Olympic record. His remarkable achievement has cemented his status as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

DOWNS

Undelivered promise

Cracked and fled The pressure to defend her title and win the inaugural event of the Games proved too much for Du Li as she lost her nerve and finished a disappointing fifth in the 10m air rifle event. As Czech’s Katerina Emmons shot her way to the first gold in Beijing, the Chinese shooter left the shooting hall in tears and refused to talk to the media. With the spotlight still on her, Du Li fought and redeemed herself with a gold medal in the 50m air rifle event.

They boldly predicted a clean sweep of the shot put medals at the Olympics—a feat unachieved in 28 years. Cantwell was the indoor world champion in 2008, Hoffa the 2007 outdoor world champion, and Nelson, a two-time Olympic silver medallist. The Americans entered as the most decorated shot putters among their competitors but fell short of their aim. Only Cantwell won a silver with a throw of 69ft, 2½in (4ft off his personal best) while compatriots Hoffa and Nelson were way off the mark. The gold was won by Poland’s Tomasz Majewski with a throw of 70ft 7in.

The Singapore paddlers had to fight hard against a determined South Korean team in the semi-finals. After a few tense moments when it appeared that the match was slipping away, Feng Tianwei finally clinched victory after a marathon session that captured the attention of the Singapore public. Despite going all out in the finals and displaying moments of brilliance, Singapore lost 3-0 to a superior Chinese team and had to settle for silver. Even so, this was Singapore’s first Olympic medal since its independence in 1965, and the 48 year wait is finally over. What an achievement.

A shining star limps out

Swiss aces dethronement Roger Federer’s hopes of a comeback after a lacklustre season were dashed as he went down 4-6, 6-7 to James Blake, a player he has never lost to. Federer was nowhere near his best as he struggled against the world number seven, who took advantage of Federer’s poor form. There were glimpses of the Swiss’s prowess as he took the second set to a tie-break but it was a little too late as the American won in straight sets. Federer’s consolation prize came in the form of a gold in the doubles event while rival Rafael Nadal claimed the more prestigious singles’ gold, as well as his world number one crown.

A deafening silence reverberated through the stadium as China’s defending champion winced in pain and limped off the track after a false start in the last 110m hurdles heat. Liu Xiang, the man China and the rest of the world had been waiting to watch, could not deliver as a longstanding injury to his Achilles heel flared up. Unable to compete, Liu disappeared back into the tunnel as the remaining runners completed the race without him. Liu’s premature exit dashed the hopes of 1.3 billion people who believed in him, and effectively ended Chinese hopes for an athletics medal.


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lifestyle review

BOOKS

Why is God Laughing? DEEPAK CHOPRA

$29.95, available at Borders Published by Harmony Books

BEST-SELLING spiritual writer Deepak Chopra delves yet again into the ambiguous realm of spirituality in Why is God Laughing?, with the fictitious tale of Mickey Fellows, a stand-up comedian whose life takes a turn after the death of his father. Dealing with grief, the sudden appearance of a mysterious man named Francisco stirs up dormant emotions and unanswered questions as he guides Fellows on a spiritual journey (through a series of riddles) to finding his true self by living freely. A cross between Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Chopra hits the right notes on the spiritual aspects in this subtly enlightening and insightful book. Steering away from didacticism, Chopra successfully communicates his ideas through the wise character of Francisco and offers diverse parables in a simple and effective manner. He espouses life lessons on how to deal with feelings and aspects of humanity such as anger, ego and fear in a fresh perspective. as obstruction to creativity and “the Fear in man is seen an secret is to abandon old habits and trust in spontaneity.” The narrative falls short in its lack of emotional depth which impedes the reader from fully engaging with the story. The typical chapter by chapter segregation makes it too compartmentalised and occasionally breaks the flow. However, the narrative helps in being the glue that holds together motley ideas by anchoring it to Fellows’ journey, which is experienced hand-in-hand with his humour. “Existence is pure gold, nothing else is needed.” With optimism found in every corner, it is hard not to be elevated and drawn into the idea of simply being.–FARAH ELIAS

The Front PATRICIA CORNWELL $29.95, available at Borders Published by Little, Brown

BEING the only author to have won five awards (including the prestigious Edgar Award) for a single book in 1991, one has high expectations of Patricia Cornwell’s new offering, The Front. But those awards are no more than a front for this follow-up novel about her hero, Massachusetts State investigator,

Win Gerano. In The Front, the dark and sexy Gerano is tasked to reopen the case of a British woman assumed to be murdered by the Boston Strangler, some four decades ago. It also does not help that his supervisor, shrewd district attorney Monique Lamont, has her eyes fixated only on her own career. Gerano enlists help from Stump, a prosthetically-limbed detective with the local police. Add to this motley crew a student reporter, Cal Tradd, and you get a murder mystery that will be either really good crime writing or really good at faking its way through the story. Admittedly the forensic details are noteworthy but nothing breathtaking, considering that Cornwell was the former Director of Applied Forensic Science at the National Forensic Academy. Cornwell seems to have developed a penchant for namedropping throughout the book, mentioning brand names as though they are sufficient adjectives for the characters. However, the characters are not well developed, which leaves readers grasping for something more substantial to relate to. The Front is easy reading with its large fonts and thicker-than-necessary paperback. But the convoluted plot goes on a roundabout for most parts, and the mandatory moment of truth at the end seems too hastily concluded, leaving the reader wanting more "oomph" to the end. Overall, Cornwell seems to present a strong front, but really, there is not much substance behind that façade.

–KELVIN PANG

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I'll ask the sun to shine away from you today, so you can cry. If that's what you want alright, and I'll ask the clouds to bring the rain for you today, so you can cry." So You Can Cry by Ne-Yo

MUSIC

Death Magnetic

METALLICA (HEAVY METAL)

 The band has won seven Grammy Awards, and has had five albums peak at number one on the Billboard 200.

THE biggest heavy metal band in history is back with a new death-themed album, which features tracks that Metallica fans have been waiting patiently for since the 90s. Sinuous guitar solos, aggressive guitar riffs and brutal drum smashings are aplenty for the listener. “The End of the Line” is a fast piece with a memorable guitar riff and lyrics about a condemned star on drugs and a heart-stopping guitar duel between Kirk Hammett and Hetfield ensues. Tracks, like “That Was Just Your Life”, are more than seven minutes long but song structures are wild and serpentine to give fans an overload of Metallica. As with Metallica’s tradition, every album comes with an instrumental piece. "Suicide and Redemption” is one of the heaviest played by Metallica and its style is different from previous albums like “The Black Album”(1991) and “Reload”(1997). Thanks to producer Rick Rubin, Metallica is back! –JOANNE YAN

Year of the Gentleman NE-YO (POP/R&B/DANCE POP)

 Since his debut, Ne-Yo has amassed seven top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Because of You".

FOR his third album, Grammy-winning Ne-Yo has put together one slick package that consists of R&B, neo-soul and pop. This concept amalgamates club-pleasers and 70s pop, and even manages a little Jackson style. A gifted songwriting machine, Ne-Yo has proven himself a true gent by giving credit to bold women on tracks such as “Miss Independent” . “Closer”, his best known single, pulls off a zippy beat accompanied by mid-tempo lyrics which accentuate his sultry approach, and bring back true lyrical groove to the table. Ballads like “Mad” and “So You Can Cry” weave sonic artistry with heartfelt lyrics that stray from the cliché. Despite the inclusion of various instruments such as the harpsichord and clarinet, Ne-Yo’s beat is on its way to becoming stale. What this Gentleman needs is fresh perspective and direction, lest he should bow out of the R&B scene when the year is up.–FAITH TAN

Brass Knuckles

NELLY (MIDWEST RAP/POP RAP)

 Nelly has sold over 20 million records in the United States. He also won Grammy Awards in 2003 and 2004.

RELEASED barely a fortnight ago , Nelly’s fifth album started out rocky after several delays. But Nelly fans can now rejoice in his latest, and potentially most diverse album. The most distinct thing about his fifth album is the exhaustive guest list. Filled with 17 tracks out of which 16 starred guest artistes, it is not surprising Nelly is overshadowed at times. For instance, in “Hold Up”, Nelly fails to stand out and legendary lyricists such as L.L. Cool J and T.I. steal the spotlight. With the majority of Nelly’s songs such as “LA” (featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg), as well as “Party People” with Fergie bordering the pop-rap formula, Nelly seems to have lost that hardcore appeal he had when he first burst into the music scene eight years ago. Instead, with this album, he begins to cross over to the softer, more sing-song tunes of urban pop and Nelly and his fans might be in for quite a few really “Long Night(s)”.

–SHEREEN NAAZ CHARLES SYARIFF


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T H E NA N YA NG C H RON IC L E

17

review

FILMS

Vicky Cristina Barcelona ROMANTIC COMEDY (M18) Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johannson 96min

JUST as London was the backdrop for Match Point, Barcelona provides the picturesque canvas in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, continuing Woody Allen’s fascination with Europe and all its delights. T he f i lm is a light weight musing on the lives of two best friends from America with polar ideas of love: Vicky (Rebecca Hall), the pragmatic and sensible half and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), the romantic and spontaneous other. In Spain, the duo is swept into the arms of a dashing, silvertongued ar tist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), along with the baggage of fiery ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz). In a star-studded cast, it is lesser-known English actress Hall who provides a refreshing twist

 to an other wise conventional character unsat isf ied w it h a mediocre life, and yearns to break free. Cruz is brilliant—and stunning— as the manic and volatile former love, rendering much comic relief especially in her copious Spanish banter with Bardem. Her vibrant character is a welcome delight as the fourth constituent in this amorous affair. The presence of an omniscient narrator inhibits the fluidity of the plot, almost dictating at times. In addition, it lends a sense of transience that hangs over the characters, distancing the viewer f rom f ully empat hising wit h them. The result may have been an artistic decision on Allen’s part as it makes the viewer think about the

larger implications: the constant search for fulfilment, life as an eternal contradiction and the belief that “only unfulfilled love can be romantic”. At times when the plot trudges along, the beautiful countryside of

Orvieto and Gaudi architecture—as the fifth and most prominent element—provides a delectable travelogue, with enough beauty to divert our attention away and move the story along. Under t he great ta lent of

Smilers

Mammia Mia! The Movie ROMANTIC COMEDY (PG)

COMEDY/SPORTS (PG)

Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth 108min

Mirai Moriyama, Rosa Kato, Yoshiko Tanaka, Kei Tani, Kenji Sakaguchi 125min

ABBA has been one of the most enduring bands, selling over 400 million albums worldwide. So it is not surprising that Hollywood would try to capitalise on their success. Based on the long running Broadway show of the same name, Mamma Mia! The Movie is a musical comedy that is uneven, k it sc hy a nd melod r a mat ic. De s pite t he s e f au lt s , it i s charming and cheerful, largely due to the energetic performance of Meryl Streep and a competent ensemble cast.

Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) is a bubbly 20-yearold who has lived her entire life on a picturesque Greek island with her mother Donna (Meryl Streep). Howe ver, her upcom i ng wedding with Sky (Dominic Cooper) causes her to yearn for the father she has never known. After reading about one wild summer in her mother’s diary, she shortlists three men and invites them to her wedding. Enter Pierce Brosnan, Colin

Allen, the film finds the right balance with enough restraint. The engaging chemistry amongst the unfulfilled characters against the earthy tones of sunny Barcelona lends credence in this understated gem.–FARAH ELIAS

 Firth and Stellan Skarsgård. W hat e n s ue s i n t he c r a z y and conf using pre-wedding celebrations and preparations is what Mamma Mia! is all about. With a great deal of chart topping songs, Abba fans will have a ball of a time. “Mamma M ia”, “Gi m me Gi m me” and “Slipping Through My Fingers” are the ones that stand out among the unlimited supply of musical numbers in the movie. Thankfully, the spirit of those songs are preserved while being infused with the fresh voices of Meryl Streep and the rest of the cast. Mamm a Mi a ! i s c lea rly Streep’s show all the way. Bouncy and lively, she brings warmth and authenticity to Donna and as her daughter, Seyfried is impressive in her role and demonstrates to great effect her vocal talents. Special mention goes to Julie Walters and Christine Baranski who br ing dow n t he house playing Donna’s fun-loving best friends. As one of the three men, Colin Firth is also charismatic in his limited screen time. The only sour note here (pun intended) is Pierce Brosnan. Demonstrating the vocal range of a 5-yearold, the ex-superspy clearly seems uncomfortable in his new musical avatar. Those looking for a sound script and more than just a good time will do better skipping this altogether but fans of musicals and Abba please proceed to the nearest theatre! –K ARTHIK

SHANKAR

LET loose a little, and Smilers will tickle. T h i s Japa nese f i l m read s like a collection of clichés. An unknown and lousy sports team goes on a fairytale run, against the backdrop of multiple personal stories which are all heartbreaking and melodramatic. But if you sit back and relax without expectations, you would find the film brilliant as it is in the the mould of The Mighty Ducks (1992) and Waterboys (2001). Tap dancer Shuhei Sano (Mirai Moriyama) is forced into retirement after a serious knee injury, and returns to Hokkaido to marry his girlfriend Shizuka (Kato Rosa). But the only way her father would allow it is if he coaches the local ice hockey juniors to victory at the regional championships. Besides having no knowledge of ice hockey, the team Smilers has never won a single match. This leaves the audience wondering— w i l l t he u nor t hodox Shu hei succeed, especially with the evil Thunderbirds in his way?



The other key plot is that of Smilers’ star player Masaya (Kenji Sakaguchi), a quiet orphan who never smiles and is attracted to iceskater Rena (Anri Okamoto), who is idolised by everyone at the rink. However, tragedy strikes when she falls ill with a terminal disease. Wit h t he mov i ng ac t i ng, fantastic score and electric wit, Smile r s a l so ha s a n end i ng which captures the heart of the commonfolk and in Moriyama’s character, they have potentially created a cult hero-coach. Even as a comedy, the Japanese can still create a tearjerker out of it and you will be surprised at how good they are able to do that. The only sore point in the film is the blatant and shameless advertising of a mega fast-food chain. You would recognise the goodtriumphs-over-evil ending simply because it is predictable, but that does not matter at all because it is still highly enter taining and guaranteed to bring out the laughter and tears in you. –TAN

THIAM PENG


The Nanyang Chronicle