THE RIDGE MAGA ZINE
mIca (p) 113/10/2012
THE RIDGE MAGAZINE - A NUSSU PUBLICATION OCT-NOV 2013 Find THE RIDGE on Facebook facebook.com/NussuTHERIDGE
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05 YALE-NUS THE FIRST TWO MONTHS SINCE ITS INCEPTION
12 BRIDGING THE DIVIDE: A FOREIGN STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE
06 THE 35TH NUSSU EXCO ELECTIONS
14 STAR BUCKS. REALLY?
08 THE REDEVELOPMENT OF THE OLD ADMIN BLOCK
16 WE RECRUIT FOLLOWERS
26 BOOKWORM ADVENTURES + SONIC BOOM
18 VIGILANTISM: THE EVOLUTION OF
28 SONIC BOOM
24 TV JUNKIE + VIDEO CHAT
09 PROJECT INSPIRE 2013
29 MUSIC REVIEW 31 TALK WITH JONATHAN LEONG 32 UPCOMING EVENTS 34 ATOMIC JAYA
46 REVIEW: WORKING TITLE
36 GUIDE TO STYLE FOR SCHOOL
47 STYLE, SNAP, POST
56 TRIPLE THREAT
38 LETTER TO MY TWENTY-YEAR-OLD SELF
48 BEING VEGETARIAN ON CAMPUS
40 CAMPUS LOVE
49 UPCOMING EVENTS
41 WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A PEN PAL TOO
58 NUS INTER-FACULTY GAMES 2013 MEN’S BASKETBALL 60 E-SPORTS: A LEGITIMATE SPORT?
50 APPS FOR THE BUDGET STUDENT 42 GREAT ESCAPES
62 WAVES OF HOPE SWIMATHON 52 THE BENG BEHIND NUSMODS
43 TO EUROPE, WITH LOVE
63 THE SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW 53 LIKE CLOCKWORK
44 FAT-SHAMING FAST FASHION
EDITOR’S NOTE 03
EDITOR’S NOTE W
ait, it’s October already? The October-November issue of the Ridge you have in your hands now sure seems like an obtrusive reminder that marks the arrival of yet another month, and the merciless passing of time. It seems like only yesterday when we began our journey in the new semester with all the orientation camps across the various faculties, halls, and residential colleges. Time sure flies. With the hustle and bustle of NUS, we often lose track of time. Some lose track of it while dancing and partying all night long. For others, time disappears in a blink of an eye as they bury themselves in books and piles of paper in the library. We all spend time differently, and there is but one thing that applies to everyone with regard to time: it cannot be regained. Although time is a luxury for most of us and our hectic lives force us to split our attention between studies, extra-curricular activities and family, I am heartened when you, reader of The Ridge, actually leave aside some time to read our issues. I am extremely delighted and thrilled to see empty magazine racks void of Ridge issues around the school campus. This shows that we have your attention and support. I am all the more heartened when some of you drop me e-mails to show your appreciation for the magazine. That said, I’d like to thank you sincerely
for your time spent with us, be it to read the physical Ridge issues, to browse through our website Studentry.sg, to leave some comments on our social media platforms, or to share your stories with us. Every issue is brought to light with you, the reader, in mind, and your support is what we treasure the most. As I craft this note, a whole lot of great events are happening around us. News is generated every second around the world and even right in front of our eyes. Don’t hesitate to be your own journalist, and to give us a buzz when you have things you would like to share. Should you wish to share with us any NUS-related news, we are more than willing to promote them through our various platforms. This month, we bring to you the latest happenings around campus: the NUSSU Exco Elections (p.6) and the redevelopment of the ADM Building (p.8). Feel that they are not enough to satiate your hunger for news? We keep you in the loop through our Weekly Sunday Roundup. Visit Studentry.sg every Sunday night to check out our weekly wrap ups: News of The Week, Tweet of The Week, Instagram Photo of The Week and Student Group of The Week. Bringing you back to this Oct-Nov issue, one of our writers, Kai Ying, was once upset knowing that the barista who served her in one of the world’s most
prominent coffee joints had very little knowledge of coffee. Reading the article (p. 14) made me wonder: there are times when we act like the clueless barista she talked about in the article. Every day, we go through the same routine in school and finish the same mundane tasks. We complete our projects, study really hard (most of it really just rote memorization of content) and go for exams without really understanding what we learned. At the end of the day, it is important to realize that the highest purpose of education and training is knowledge, not grades, money or glory. If you don’t crave knowledge, education and training will be painful and pointless. Our entertainment writer, Rachel, catches Jonathan Leong, an NUS alumnus and finalist of the second season of Singapore Idol for an interview when he visited NUS to perform at HERE! Turn to page 31 to find out what this celebrity is up to and how NUS has shaped him to be who he is today. Several weeks have passed since the start of the semester and the excitement of school has slowly faded since. The pressures of school and other commitments have started to mount. We are at times too tired to make the right decisions. Chan Yiwen jumps in to remind us of the importance of making the right decisions in university. Sometimes our judgment gets clouded by immaturity
or naivety on our part, leaving us with regrets. Read Yiwen’s words of wisdom for her 20-year-old self on page 38 to find out more. The Wired desk brings us an interview with the founder of NUSMods (p. 52). An NUS student himself, Beng created an app that I’m sure most of you have utilized and find very useful. He’s not resting on his laurels, though. Beng is currently working on another app for NUS students who will definitely find it handy. Sports desk is getting wired. No, this is not a case of confused identities. E-Sports, or rather virtual sports, are shaking up a storm. Can it however be considered a legitimate sport? Are the pro-gamers merely pleasure seekers? Can they be considered as athletes? On page 60, Ong Hua Han and Lai Foong Ming, a guest contributor, will try to convince you that e-Sports are just like any other sport.
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The first two months since its inception Rohini samtani
he new Yale-NUS program has been on in full spring tucked away in a corner of UTown in Residential College 4. The Ridge is honoured to have been given a chance to speak with some of the students from the programme to find out if their expectations were met since enrolling into the new liberal arts college. The first semester is designed to help the students ease into the new curriculum, which explains why their grades will not be counted towards the CAP this semester. “This concept allows us to test waters without having the fear of falling, and therefore helps us experiment and not be afraid of making mistakes,” says Naz, one of the students we spoke to. The students have seminar style classes with very interactive discussions ongoing, which spelt that a lot of preparation is needed to be done before every class. “Although it does get overwhelming having to catch up with what is going on in class, the smaller classes do provide a better learning environment compared to massive lectures,” says Naz. This learning extends beyond the classroom as all 155 students in the program are doing the exact same classes. They are thus able to strike up intellectual conversation with any of their friends over dinner, while hanging out in the common lounges or even in the lift! Living in a Residential College thus definitely aids this. The students were also able to amalgamate academics with elements of fun. On the night that we spoke to them, they were about to go watch the movie clip Troy because it links with Homer’s Odyssey, which happens to be a text for
one of their classes. They also watched Star Trek for their Cosmology class and X Men, which was linked to genetics. They also went to the extreme of having inside jokes based on their curriculum! The programme also aptly combines theory with application. In week 7, all the students will be travelling either within Singapore or abroad to put various aspects of their curriculum to practice. One group is going to Bali to visit the Miss World pageant to analyze modern notions of beauty. Another group of students is going to Greece to learn more about the country. A third will be studying the aftermaths of the Tsunami in Indonesia. All of the analysis forms part of their curriculum. Greek Epics are a part of the Yale-NUS curriculum, along with Indian mythology, Philosophy, Scientific enquiry (even for students with no background in the sciences) and math. Walter, a student in the double degree Yale-NUS law program sums this up very aptly. “Conventional education today is veering towards professional courses such as Engineering, Business, Computing etc. In ancient times, higher education was mainly to introduce students to new ways of thinking, rather than teaching them what to do. A liberal arts education, which encompasses these ancient ideals is thus an apt way to combining the old with the new, providing an interesting multifaceted educational background.” However, what do the students think of having to study classical greek mythology despite having an intention to study Economics is a question we all had in mind. “This is the fun of liberal arts. More than half the concepts we learn may not have direct correlation to our future careers, but they definitely help strike up conversation with a wide variety of
people,” says Walter. The other day, some of them got tickets to go watch Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider live and got to meet them backstage. While discussing the artists’ academic interests, the students discovered to their amazement that Sam had actually specialized in Greek Mythology and was even able to recite a part of the epic in Greek! Just like the different subjects taught, the population in Yale-NUS is pretty diverse as well. There are 70% Singaporeans and 30% international students from a wide variety of backgrounds including Sweden, India, Malaysia, among others. “We can just go knock on someone’s door at 11pm and talk to them for hours on end just about their culture and their life in their home countries. This has given us a very wide exposure to multiculturalism in just these last few months” says Adrean, a Swedish student. “These conversations are not just limited to fellow students. Our professors are very accessible and so if I’m am interested in Neuroscience, I can very well go to a Prof and talk to him about it, without any academic motive,” continues Adrean. They are thus learning in a very unique academic setting and are acquiring skills to talk to different people. A skill set that would be useful in any field. Thinking out of the box is another lesson these students are taught. For one of their classes, they had to do an activity in public that went against the norm. One of the students started chirping like a bird during a meal with people. He also chirped while facing the back wall of a lift full of people. Assignments like this force the students to break out of their shell, let go of inhibitions and still have fun at the same time.
Being a brand-new programme, the pioneer batch also had this novel opportunity to build a culture for themselves. Despite the presence of the bell-curve system, the students have Facebook pages where they share notes generously with the student population and interesting youtube videos that would help explain concepts taught in class. “Students that have a scientific background voluntarily help those that do not with their science assignments”, says Herman, a Singaporean student. “We also have a barter system with homework where one person does the others’ science assignment in exchange for an English assignment” says Meghna, another student. These practices will hopefully pass on to our consequent batches, building a community culture. Moving beyond an academic culture, Yale-NUS is also trying to build a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. As the pioneer batch, students are able to initiative activities and clubs based on their varied interests. Some of these include a Whistling Orchestra, various Dance groups, and an Investment society, all within the community of 155 students. Since the grading system are on a Pass/ Fail basis this semester, students are able to devote time to setting up these interest groups. The Yale-NUS students are not just involved in their own activities. Some of them are even part of Team NUS. For instance, Walter is a member of the NUS Life Saving team. We bet some of you are not even aware that Life-Saving was a sport (I know I didn’t). Another student Naz is in the Canoe Polo team of teamNUS. Balancing time between their own Residential College activities as well as NUS CCAs thus leads to a pretty busy schedule for these students too!
SEX AN 06
The 35th NUSSU EXCO Elections
A Look at the Presidential Candidates Sie Min Young
he time has come again to elect new student leaders into the 35th NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Council. It marks yet another change-ofguard in the Council. Increasingly, the general student population seems to be inactive in political issues and do not participate enough in feedback platforms conducted by the previous committee. Turnout for recruitment events have been bad and response to the Welfare surveys lukewarm. Therefore, it is pertinent that the new committee continues to engage with people on the ground, who may not be aware of the platforms available for feedback. The various opinions and views, when translated into actions, will most certainly affect the student population in many areas. Will there be better welfare for students? Will our academic burden be lessened? Will our voice to the NUS offices be amplified as a result? The office of the President is a powerful post indeed as seen from the responsibilities that they have to shoulder.
A Look At the Presidential Candidates Two candidates are running for the office of the President of the 35th NUSSU EXCO. They are Clovis Tan (Year 4, E-Commerce) and Soh Yi Da (Year 4, Political Science). Their backgrounds are strikingly similar: both were in the NUSSU Executive Committee (EXCO) last year. Clovis was the Student Welfare Secretary, while Yi Da was the Vice President. Their contributions have benefited us in one way or another. It would be fair to say that each fulfilled their respective roles adequately. Here are some examples of their contributions during their tenure in the 34th NUSSU EXCO.
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES, OPENING POSSIBILITIES
CLOVIS is a very enterprising individual who stands firmly for what he believes in. He considered the welfare of the student population when he implemented the initiatives. He continued the NUSSU Welfare Week that was in collaboration with Exam Prep Week. Also, he engaged with ORD to have in place a 24-Hours Library Operation to allow students a place to study. It was good on him for continuing a tradition that has benefited the student population in substantial ways. He takes his work seriously and had Focus Group Discussions with OED to gather sentiments and feedback from students with regards to the Internal Shuttle Bus system. In addition, he pushed for meetings with the Board of Undergraduate Studies in a bid to raise examination issues such as the Bell Curve Grading System and many other pedagogical ideals such as the need for a closed book exam. Though tangible results may not have been reaped yet, his efforts should be applauded. He is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
YI DA pioneered the Love NUS Campaign 2013, which galvanized students, staff and alumni to display their love and affection for NUS. Students are usually plagued with endless projects and deadlines to meet and very often, do not have opportunities to mingle with peers other than their workmates or cliques. It was an inspired move on Yi Da’s part to bring the student population together. As the vice president of the 34th Council, he carried out his fundamental duties well. He supported the NUSSU President’s direction of One NUSSU, Louder NUSSU and Welfare NUSSU. Yi Da believes in forging friendships with peers and has exemplified this by building strong external relations whilst gathering better practices in governance and organization when he organized the NUSSU Council Study Trip to Taiwan. A human touch together with a sense of direction would probably help him garner many votes from the Council. Given how experienced and capable they are, what matters now will be the direction and policies they bring to the
AND VIOLENCE NEWS
credits: Soh Yi Da
table. Although results from their lofty aspirations might not have been entirely visible during their short tenure (less than a year), they choose to remain to serve. Clovis believes that students should be able to “relate to and foster this sense of belonging (to NUSSU)”, not just by speeches and promises, but also by concrete actions and interactions. He envisions the Union to be “relevant and relatable” to students. Not only that, Clovis wants every student and student leader within the Union to be “empowered to be the change and to make a change”. It is a grand vision indeed. Clovis promises to look into the academic welfare of students, further improve the transport around NUS, and improve the feedback channels and outreach. He intends to follow up on the whole issue of “Lecturers and invigilators conduct of class tests and mid terms” as there were a significant number of complains that examinations were not conducted in the most proper manner. Clovis would like to follow up on what he has been doing and crystallize his past
year efforts into something tangible for students.
ground-up initiatives to pursue their passion.
Yi Da believes that NUSSU should be “relevant to students” and aims to “preserve the Union’s rich heritage” through supporting initiatives while allowing students to create new opportunities. Yi Da would like to maintain continuous engagement with students and for students to foster an emotional resonance with NUSSU.
The passion and drive displayed by Clovis and Yi Da are what we should expect from our NUSSU EXCO members. This is a momentous event in NUS. Would it be Clovis’ vigor, or Yi Da’s foresight that wins over the electorate of NUS student leaders? The 35th NUSSU Exco Internal Elections took place on 14th September 2013. Soh Yi Da emerged victorious and was elected President of the 35th NUSSU Council.
His welfare manifesto can be summed in three words – “Education, Jobs, and Opportunities”. For him, ‘Education’ represented the strategic issue of improving the education in NUS. An example he mentioned would be to have smaller class sizes to foster quality interaction. The tenet of ‘Jobs’, included improving student employment prospects by organizing workshops that focus on developing skills in the workplace. Lastly, ‘Opportunities’ meant expanding the pool of fiscal resources to set up an Opportunities Fund to shape enabling conditions for students to start
*More information can be found on: nussu.org.sg/elections/
IT SHOULD BE A PLACE WHERE EVERY NUS STUDENT CAN SAY, “I BELONG”
The Redevelopment of the Old Admin Block Velda Wong
he Admin building located at the Faculty of Arts of Social Sciences (FASS) in NUS is scheduled for a redevelopment this year. The reason for the redevelopment? The building was built in the 1970s and a study showed that the cost to make the old building compliant to current building codes is higher than the cost of building a new one. A new building also allows better designed spaces for student use and with it, new programmes that can be introduced. The new seven-storey building will provide more teaching spaces for FASS, house the Asian Studies Programme and the Asia Research Institute (ARI), as well as have more study spaces to promote student activity and interaction. Together, they hope to focus on Asian Studies and its growing emphasis in this region. Students can look forward to a clustering of common and FASS student spaces on the lower floors, seminar and tutorial rooms on the middle floors, with department and research offices above. The connection on the fourth storey of the block will be maintained with the Library and the Deck. Ways are still being looked at to improve the connectivity and experience between the drop off, Central Forum, the new building and the Deck. The building is also targeted to achieve the BCA Green Mark Platinum1 scoring thus, it has incorporated some green features such as natural ventilation, sky
1 The BCA Green Mark is a green building rating system to evaluate a building for its environmental impact and performance. It is endorsed and supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
lights, courtyards and green spaces. Students and staff can expect the building to be more open, naturally ventilated and with more greenery. There will be a computer cluster located there which all students can utilize. In preparation for the demolition and construction, electrical and water services within the building will end on 29 August 2013 and a perimeter around the block will be erected. Directional signs will be posted to guide and direct people to other walkways in view of the safety of pedestrians walking near the site. With the ongoing construction, all staff and students visiting the Central Library should keep in mind that they will no longer be able to use the Block ADM elevators and are advised to use the main stairs in the Forum area to access the Library. Car park (CP) 18 at Block ADM will be closed during the construction period. Other available car parks within the vicinity are CP 14 and CP 17 (for staff season labels only) and CP 15 and CP 16 (for all labels and public parking).
The new Alice Lee Plaza is slated to complete in early 2014. The plaza will serve as an important node linking the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum to the University Cultural Centre and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum will be ready in late 2014.
School of Computing/Business School and The Summit at the Bukit Timah Campus.
The dining spaces of the Frontier canteen in the Faculty of Science will also receive a new facelift starting towards the end of 2013 which will see it house new Food & Beverage outlets and provide additional social and study spaces for students. There are also ongoing discussion and plans to improve the diversity of food and to enhance the dining experience at three other locations: Techno Edge in the Faculty of Engineering, The Terrace at the
1. Mr Koh Yong Loo (Associate Director, OED) DID: 6516 6075 e-mail: email@example.com
If you have any feedback or questions regarding the demolition or construction of Block ADM, please do not hesitate to contact the following officers:
2. Mr Goh Cheng Wah (Senior Manager, OED) DID: 6601 2607 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The new building is expected to be completed in early to mid 2016.
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS AROUND NUS CAMPUS Other new developments in NUS include the Engineering Design & Innovation Centre (EDIC) which will be breaking ground in the later half of 2013. EDIC aims to be an internationally recognized centre for engineering design and innovation, and will house the Engineering Facultyâ€™s Design Centric Programme. Artistâ€™s Impression of the new ADM building
PROJECT INSPIRE 2013 Miss Sadie St. Denis from Canada representing Shanti Uganda from Velda Wong Velda Wong
roject Inspire is a joint initiative by the Singapore Committee for UN Women (UN Women Singapore) and MasterCard to inspire young change agents, and help them create a better world of opportunities for women and girls in AsiaPacific, the Middle East and Africa.
Project: Creative Street MicroEntrepreneurs
The inaugural event was launched in 2011 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 25th anniversary of MasterCard in the three regions. Project Inspire presents 18-35 year olds a five-minute platform to pitch their inspired idea to the world and win a US$25,000 grant to make their idea a reality.
Project Aim: To expand training sessions on designing and handicraft skills for women and girls at-risk in slum areas. This year’s winner goes to a team consisting of two Singapore Permanent Residents (PR) who worked together with the founder of Protsahan India Foundation, Miss Kapoor, to provide creative education and skills improvement for marginalized young women in destitution, especially those who have been sexually abused. Skills being taught include the creative arts, photography, design and art, cinema, digital technology and theatre amongst others. These programmes are designed for girls at-risk living in slums to be design entrepreneurs creating handicrafts and sanitary napkins to help them become self-reliant. Miss Tripti Bhadauriya, a Singapore PR, shared that she felt compelled to do something for the less privileged after realizing that the problems of poor sanitation and living conditions would not go away without something being done. After joining Protsahan on its mission to educate women and children in technology, she added, “There are no age barriers when it comes to digital technology. If one wants to learn them, you will be given the opportunities to learn so long as the resources are present. I am glad to provide the resources to teach the relevant skills to transform the lives of at-risk girls.”
The grant will also be used to support an existing women’s empowerment program aimed at helping women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East or Africa attain sustained livelihood through business and livelihood skills. The Grand Finals was held at the Claude & Tuulikki Janssen Auditorium of INSEAD Asia on 30 August in Singapore. This year’s competition has attracted a record of 577 submissions from 62 countries worldwide, the highest number received over the past three years. 10 finalists, deemed to have the most sustainable idea with the greatest possible social impact, were shortlisted and given a chance to pitch. Each pitch was evaluated based on its sustainability, impact and economic or social benefit to disadvantaged women and girls in AsiaPacific, the Middle East or Africa. The winners gave us an exclusive interview where they shared more about their project ideas and thoughts:
Project Location: India Team: Sonal Kapoor (India), Shruti Komandur (Singapore), Tripti Bhadauriya (Singapore)
Project: Global Press Institute Project location: Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Morocco and Tunisia Team: Cristi Hegranes (United States) Project Aim: To empower women in Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Morocco and Tunisia, through journalism using a unique training-to-employment programme. As a foreign correspondent who founded Global Press Institute (GPI) 7 years ago, Cristi Hegranes realized that she lacked certain qualities to be able to fully cover a community. Some of it included the language of locals who she was writing about, access to resources to cover some key events and the trust of the community. Therefore, instead of telling the stories herself, she decided to become a trainer to train local people to tell stories about their own communities through their own lens. Women from 26 developing countries go through a six-month training programme and are offered full time employment as a journalist at their news outlet, the Global Press Journal, upon completion. Since 2007, they have successfully employed over 130 women and created a global audience of over five million people annually. Their unique trainingto-employment programme ensures their beneficiaries receive the highest quality training. In return, the woman are guaranteed long term employment, a strong living wage, and opportunities to benefit their communities by telling real and important stories that take place.
Journalism is a challenging occupation but Cristi is adamant that if women are leaders and change-makers of their communities, they can and should have equal opportunities to join empowering and dignified professions like journalism. She is determined that language can shape the world and women in developing countries need to be doing handicraft and farming most of the time. “The desire to produce ethical and authentic journalism is universal. In journalism, we are learning new things every day. Even if a situation gets you jaded, the passion to write carries you forward,” she adds. Her inspirational pitch about the potency of language won her the Global Reach Award, with a grant of US$10,000. Project Inspire serves as a reminder for people, especially those living in developed regions to be thankful for life’s simple pleasures and the things we take for granted all the time, ranging from good sanitation and high quality of life to technological advances which has become intertwined in our daily lives. Here’s to greater appreciation of the material and immaterial things in modern Singapore.
More information about PROJECT INSPIRE can be found at: 5minutestochangetheworld.org Facebook: facebook.com/ProjInspire Twitter: @Proj_Inspire Blog : 5minutestochangetheworld.org/ blog/ YouTube: youtube.com/user/ ProjectInspire5mins
Bridging the Divide A Foreign Student's Perspective Jay Chauhan
y last visit to Singapore was in 2010 when I was here with my family on a vacation. The moment I stepped foot on the international terminal of the Changi airport, I was overwhelmed and impressed. From my smooth sail through the immigrations checkpoint (thanks to the well-organized authorities and smoothly running systems) to the spic and span streets of the city, to seeing a multi-cultural community living and working together in harmony, everything that I saw on my first day of arrival increased my excitement to explore the country. Questions however, began to surface in my mind. What would studying in Singapore really be like? Would it be similar to the rosy-tinted picture that Singapore presents to its visitors, or are there underlying issues that reveal this picture to be a mere facade? It soon dawned on me that if I wanted to get to know the real Singapore, and not just the idealised image shown to tourists, I would have to interact with the local community. Given that one of the defining features of Singapore is its diversity of races and cultures, I envisioned a diverse group of performers from all races and nationalities (the students) coming together on a huge dais (the NUS campus) to celebrate life academically, socially and culturally. However, my first few weeks in NUS slightly altered this initial perception of mine. I was hoping to integrate well with the local and international students in NUS, but as I soon realised that this was not an easy task. Why? COMMUNICATION! Given that English is supposed to be the common language in Singapore, I had certainly not expected to encounter problems in communication. Earlier on, when I was still in the ‘honeymoon stage’, I had thought that I was adjusting seamlessly to life in Singapore. This belief was soon proven to be false when I attempted to order chicken rice from one of the canteens on campus. To my confusion, the kindly old
stall vendor started conversing with me in a strange language which, in retrospect, was probably Singlish. Feeling rather flummoxed, I had no choice but to resort to using hand gestures in an attempt to place my order. After about three minutes of this spontaneous game of charades, I gave up and asked one of the local students for some help. Ever since this incident, I have started to compile a glossary of Singlish and Chinese terms and stock phrases to enable me to order food and drinks from the canteens and hawker centres in order to avoid future unplanned games of charades. I am sure a lot of international students face this issue of a communication divide. Ironically, it is the stalls which most of the international students frequent (owing to budget constraints) where the local hawkers communicate solely in Singlish and Mandarin. What a pickle! Bridging this divide is imperative, especially if one intends to stay in Singapore for a long period of time. In my experience, I have found that simple practice and repeated exposure to the Singaporean accent and Mandarin can help tremendously in everyday social interactions with the local community. This can be done through formal methods like taking up a language course at NUS, or even informal methods like downloading translation applications or speaking to the local students. Social integration however, is a two way street. International students must be open-minded and willing to learn, while the local students must be friendly and willing to help. Such relationships, I believe, are mutually beneficial. For instance, I was studying together with a Chinese classmate when the topic of similarities and differences between cultures came up. Realising that both of us were interested in learning more about the other’s culture, we worked out an arrangement in which I taught her the basics of Tamil, while she taught me common Mandarin phrases. Isn’t that a win-win situation?
The problem of communication persists in the learning environment as well. In one of my recent classes, a classmate, who was an international student, actually burst into tears because she found the professor’s accent too foreign and his speaking style too fast-paced for her to catch. Fortunately, the professor took note of this, and held an impromptu consultation session at the end of the class for students who required further clarifications on the material. The communication gap can sometimes translate into a further segregation between the international students and the local students. For instance, when students are given the freedom to choose their own group members for project work, I noticed a tendency for students of the same nationality to group together. Although I agree that speaking in one’s first language is more comfortable, I believe that it goes against the implicit objective of studying in an overseas university—to become a truly global citizen, comfortable with interacting with people all over the world. Having worked in a diverse group comprising of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Finnish students, I can testify to the invaluable experience of interacting with students from different nationalities, and the joy it brings from being able to learn about each other’s culture, while at the same point find shared interests and views which bind us together. I believe that this is the most valuable takeaway from studying in a university abroad, and this can only be achieved when the communication divide is bridged. It is necessary for both international and local students to step outside of their comfort zone. International students in particular, will be haunted by serious questions the moment they embark on the beginning of their academic journey in Singapore. Will I understand the professor’s accent? Will I make friends from other countries? Will I be able to
integrate with the local community? Will I be able to adapt to the local culture? The answer to these questions is dependent on whether one is confident and openminded enough to take that extra step in picking up some of the local lingo and trying to understand the local culture. We must exert all efforts to flip the “will I” in the self-doubting questions above to “I will”.
STAR BUCKS . Really?
Credits : metropolitan.com Loh Kai Ying
recently came across a personal commentary (read: rant) on customer service at premium coffee joints that was sitting idly in my computer folder and collecting a fair bit of dust. A quick read through what I wrote at least half a year ago revived in me the annoyance I felt back then with regard to the poor service I encountered at a Starbucks outlet. No doubt the contents of my commentary are still relevant to consumer experiences today. A few months ago, I went to a Starbucks cafe in a shopping mall, tired and cranky and itching for a good cup of coffee to perk me up. My usual Java Chip, tall with no whip cream, didn’t seem to do the trick anymore. I needed some strong coffee to keep me awake to survive the thick, jargon-laden notes on neurolinguistics. Walking up to the counter, I asked, “Hi. I’m feeling very tired today and would like something stronger than Java Chip. Do
you have any recommendations?” For a moment the barista serving me seemed startled. It was apparent he did not know how to respond to my question. Before I could think of something else to say to save him from embarrassment, he said something that I, an unsuspecting customer, found astonishing and somewhat insulting, “Sorry. I don’t drink coffee (so I wouldn’t know).” What?! A Starbucks barista who does not know the products he makes, or even worse, does not drink ordinary coffee? That got me feeling a little affronted, and yes, I perked up from his shocking revelation. Thanks, Mr Barista, for the non-caffeine boost. This simple incident kept me thinking long after it happened. Is it common for an employee to serve something they are not even familiar with to customers? Is it acceptable for them to sell products which they have no real knowledge of, much less firsthand experience? How
do they make good sells this way? How much can customers trust the advice the staff give them, or are customers expected to know what they want? And are quality checks on the standard of customer service being performed? These questions extend far beyond a Starbucks joint, a caffeine-averse barista and a slightly demanding (and ticked off) customer. Perhaps I’m over-generalising from this incident and making a mountain out of a molehill. But from my frequent trips to coffee joints like Starbucks, especially during school vacations, the employees there seemed like young part-time workers; stand-ins who work there just for the hourly pay and who perhaps pray they don’t meet customers like me. But come on, for a premium coffee franchise like Starbucks that sells coffee at an average of $6 per cup, shouldn’t there be better customer service to accompany the higher-quality
coffee? Similarly, if a waitress at a high-end restaurant cannot even tell you which wine goes well with the food you order, won’t you feel that the additional service charge is unjustified? To be fair, I approached previous parttime Spinelli barista cum current NUS Year 4 student, Michael Tjin to find out more about the training employees at coffee outlets go through. He said, “The training (I went through) was mostly about making drinks and how to make certain concoctions. We also learned the other procedures that needed to be followed when giving out orders, such as which food needed what cutlery as Standard Operating Procedure, and that the drinks should be given with a serviette etc.” When I posed a question about whether employees should be expected to have enough knowledge about the product they are selling to make recommendations to customers,
Photo from starbucks.com.sg
he affirmed my suspicions that I was illtreated – “Duh? Isn’t that a given? What’s the point in not believing in what you sell?” I nodded in agreement and shared with him my negative experience. Then he exploded, “WHAT?! A BARISTA WHO DOESN’T KNOW HIS COFFEE? THAT IS A SIN, A SACRILEGE! WHERE WAS THIS?!” (Disclaimer: No exaggeration at all on the writer’s part.) Michael, being the dramatic theatre studies student he was, ranted on about what the barista could have done, “…He could have recommended having extra shots because to make the coffee stronger, we add in more espresso…Unless you go for ice-blended (coffee), which probably uses a coffee mix that isn’t as strong then we’ll add in chilled espresso to make that stronger…” Oh well. I wished my barista was as experienced and knowledgeable as Michael. Granted, my bad coffee-buying experience was probably an isolated incident. However, it did highlight several problems of customer service, especially when it comes to temporary staff. Perhaps companies which are expanding fast and need temporary
manpower to fill in the gaps could take measures to ensure that the quality of their products and the way they sell it is not compromised by untrained and inexperienced employees. One of the sure-fire ways to maintain the quality of products and service is through the thorough and rigorous training of employees, to equip them with the skills to handle all sorts of questions and manoeuvre their way out of tricky situations with difficult customers. Training of frontline staff is essential to not only maintaining the company’s image, but also in establishing a base of regular customers to maintain and improve profits, allowing the business to flourish. In my opinion, companies can and should spend some extra money to train their staff well, even the temporary ones. A more rigorous and comprehensive training programme would ensure better quality staff and a more pleasurable customer experience. A few weeks after my incident with Mr Barista, I went to another Starbucks outlet. I was immediately apprehensive when I saw another young barista at the counter. However, such fears were
dispelled when the female barista responded to the same question (Do you have recommendations for stronger coffee, please?) with ease, and introduced me to Cafe Mocha, which has since then become my favourite Starbucks beverage. Perhaps it was just my dumb luck to have had such a bad encounter with Mr Barista, but this young Starbucks employee has surely restored my faith somewhat in customer service at premium coffee joints. At the end of the day, regardless of what kind of barista serves you, one-off incidents like the one I encountered are telling of the importance of good customer service, and how employers should not underestimate the importance of effective employee training and its overall impact on their businesses.
We Recruit Followers...
ecruiting season has started and one cannot help but notice the flood of recruiters giving career talks nearly every evening. While the profile of the ideal candidate in the eyes of the recruiter varies based on the role, they all seem to have converged onto one common buzzword– ‘leadership’. It’s everywhere: from the title of corporate graduate programmes (<<insert company>> Leadership Programme), to programme descriptions (‘is a 2 year leadership development programme’), to the qualifying criteria needed to apply for the programme (‘we look for candidates with a strong evidence of leadership ability’).
The methodologies used to judge leadership skills in the initial stages of one’s application vary from behavioural questions (‘Tell me about the last time you lead a team’) to a more binary approach (Have you lead a team before : Yes/ No). Some look at aptitude (through psychometric testing and the works), while most others believe in the ‘past performance as an indicator of future success’ mantra and look for hard evidence of leadership experience. Some recruiters go as far as to indicate that the presence of the word ‘President’ on a resume would be a near guarantee for an interview. Candidates dance accordingly to this tune; metamorphosing a rather
uneventful group project into a leadership challenge, exaggerating their initiatives and glossing over their shortcomings. But in their rather admirable quest to identify the next future leader, I feel corporations have lost sight of the flip side of the coin—the follower. Followership has always been leadership’s poor cousin; it has negative connotations and seems to be subordinate to the notion of ‘leadership’. Little wonder then that most would hesitate embarking on a quest for a good ‘follower’. “Our organisation is the home of great followers” just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Yet, most
mid-level managers play a dual role: that of a leader and a follower. In fact, even senior management must, at times, play the role of the follower in implementing the interests of majority shareholders. While considerable academic literature is devoted to classifying different leadership styles, different follower styles have also been identified. Followers are no longer passive placeholders; they are the craftsmen who give shape to the lofty visions of a great leader. Barbara Kellerman, a professor at the John F Kennedy School of Government, throws light on an instance when the myopic pursuit of a person with strong
leadership skills may also result in a bad hire. General Stanley McCrystal (former Commander of US Forces Afghanistan) was forced to resign after making indiscreet comments about the Vice President and US government policy to a journalist. In Kellerman’s blog titled “General McCrystal’s Failure of Followership”, she is strongly critical of his appointment as Commander of US Forces Afghanistan and suggests that had General McCrystal been carefully vetted by President Obama’s
advisors, “they would have learned that notwithstanding his stellar credentials, his disinclination to follow dutifully was lifelong”. Michael Hastings – in the now infamous Rolling Stone article which cost General McCrystal his job–suggests that General McCrystal would thumb ‘his nose to authority at every chance he got’. While this may be an extreme case, it highlights how strong leadership skills coupled with poor followership skills make a recipe for disaster.
I had an opportunity to discuss with a recruiter of a prominent FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) company the rationale behind this single-minded pursuit of leadership traits. It was suggested that while the brand tries to position itself as a home for leaders, in reality, all they are looking out for is some indication of an ability to take initiative and go beyond the call of duty when in a team. And while these skills can be demonstrated within the scope of one’s leadership activities; this also holds
true when one is a humble member of a larger team effort. If this represents the company’s hiring policy in practice, then it would be a more holistic approach to identifying the right candidate – one that is not blinded by impressive titles; one that may reward a candidate for his honesty. Yet, as long as corporations continue to give precedence to leadership skills over followership skills as opposed to trying to strike a balance between the two, they risk setting a poor precedent.
WHILE THE PROFILE OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE IN THE EYES OF THE RECRUITER VARIES BASED ON THE ROLE, THEY ALL SEEM TO HAVE CONVERGED ONTO ONE COMMON BUZZWORD– ‘LEADERSHIP’.
Vigilantism : The Evolution of Revolution Shibanshu Mukhopadhyay
ometime in the mid 15th century, a certain Johannes Gutenberg changed the course of history much more massively than he could have imagined in his wildest dreams. The invention of rapid mechanical printing brought about the democratization of knowledge as it gave the common people access to information and the power to disseminate it, which was previously only available to the wealthy upper classes. This invention brought about a revolution of its own—the Printing Revolution, and helped to usher in the Renaissance, bringing an end to the Dark Ages. An idea is the most powerful and devastating of all weapons. The printing press allowed people to pen down their
ideas and pass them around without any alterations that might arise from using the alternative method: word-of-mouth. Fast forward to the late 20th century and mankind experienced another major revolution—the birth and growth of the internet. Sitting anywhere on this planet with a computer and an internet connection, we can change the world with our actions. The power of people in the online community was such that TIME magazine made each and every single internet user that has ever generated content online, the TIME’s Person of the Year in 2006, an honour normally reserved for the most influential person in the world (in the eyes of the magazine).
On the whole, this empowerment is great, but what happens when it is used to rise above the law? The practice of vigilantism has obviously existed ever since laws were made, but never before has it been more widespread and frequent than it is now. Perhaps this is because it has never been as easy before. The internet has not only made it much easier to access data and disseminate information, but it has also granted the regular vigilante a potent weapon: anonymity. Ho Yeow Sun, more popularly known as Sun Ho, is an aspiring Singaporean pop singer who has been trying to break into the most lucrative of music markets – in the United States of America. On 2nd September, her website was hacked by
a certain The Messiah, who also goes by the trendier name of Ub3r Pr3ach3r. The hacker left a note, for Ms. Ho on her website, which told her that she had “failed as a woman, as a wife, as a singer and most importantly…as a human being”. Ms. Ho’s spouse, Kong Hee – the founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church in Singapore – has allegedly swindled upwards of 23 million dollars from the members of their church. The funds, which were meant to be invested in the interests of the church and its members, it is alleged, were instead misused to support Sun Ho’s music career. Kong Hee and four of his cronies were arrested in June 2012 but were released on bail and set to return to court on 25th July. At the time of writing, the case is still ongoing
with the accused maintaining that the discreet funding of her career was not wrong, to the apparent dissatisfaction of Ub3rPr3ach3r. At least Kong Hee’s case revolved around fraud and financial larceny. Vigilantism on this front may seem uncalled for, but what if the crime was of much graver offence? What if a drunken high school girl at a party was verbally humiliated, urinated on, and raped? What if the offenders had even gone so far as to record the proceedings and posted misogynistic and derogatory comments on popular social media platforms like Youtube and Twitter? This is not a sick “what if” scenario from the abyss of my twisted mind. Most unfortunately, this is the story of the Steubenville High School rape case of August 2012. Although the victim had no memory of the events, there was a social media buzz concerning the events during and after the party, which disturbed the girl’s parents enough for them to approach the local police three days after the disgusting event had occurred. The police took up the case based on a photograph, video and tweets, and arrested two major suspects, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmonds. However, 45-year-old blogger and ex-resident of Steubenville, Alexandria Goddard, felt that this wasn’t nearly enough action. In a town where everybody worshipped the local high school football team and where, in Goddard’s view, women were treated like chattel, mere legal action against the victims would change nothing. So Goddard moved back to Steubenville and launched a full-force publicity campaign, relying heavily on online social media. Soon, she saw a surge in her Twitter following and she noticed that many of her new followers donned profile pictures of the symbolic white Guy Fawkes mask. Then, come January 2013, the Steubenville football team’s website, Roll Red Roll, was hacked by the notorious hacker collective Anonymous. The usual
images of jocks and cheerleaders had been replaced with the words “tradition” and “honor” and the classic, eerie Anonymous warning video was issued. Anonymous is not a collective to be taken lightly. In its short history, it has hacked into government websites of the USA, Nigeria and Turkey, in addition to those of Sony and MasterCard. Living up to their standards, Anonymous hacked into the high school footballers’ personal e-mails, collected personal data and re-uploaded the videos that the students, in fear of being implicated, had taken down when investigation began. In their warning video, a person wearing the white Guy Fawkes mask warned the rapists in an eerie computer-synthesized voice, that the world was now watching them and that Anonymous would ensure the delivery of justice. Furthermore, they pointed out all the injustice that was being faced by the victim due to the massive popularity of the Steubenville High School football team within the local community. Finally, in March 2013, Mays and Richmonds were found guilty and given the minimum sentence of 1 year and 2 years respectively. Is this, then, the mark of a new age in which members of the public play a more active and interventionist role in what they deem to be the upholding of justice? Is this even desirable? However, the bigger question is, does the end justify the means? Are groups like Anonymous and people like Ub3r Pr3ach3r doing the right thing by taking the law into their hands? While they are breaking multiple laws pertaining to privacy and security, they certainly did not hand down punishment to the villains in either of the two cases. Overall, their motive was clear—to ensure sufficient publicity of the injustice that is happening but goes unnoticed, and to help the people who they think have been let down by the system of justice, whether through bureaucratic obstructions or institutionalised discrimination. Would it be fair to classify vigilantism as a form of revolution? After all, most other forms of revolution too
often involve breaking the law. Most conventional independence movements, almost by definition, require acting against the law. This is no less than an independence movement, a movement for being liberated from being kept in the dark. When injustice arises, so will the vigilantes and consequently, the revolution. Vive la revolution?
Working in the maritime industry; a rewarding and fulfilling choice” A
of fulfillment in his job, and that the pride and joy derived from seeing new vessels that are built from scratch eventually launched into the sea, or go for their maiden voyages, are immeasurable.
fter graduating from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree, Wilson Liao was certain that he wanted to be part of the dynamic maritime industry.
“I was largely influenced by my lecturer, Professor Loh Wai Lam, who taught the marine offshore oil and gas module. He strongly encouraged me to join the maritime industry due to the good prospects and opportunities that the industry offers. Furthermore, the maritime industry is relatively resilient, as proven in the 2009 economic downturn where many of my friends who were working in other industries were forced to take pay cuts or no-pay leave, while those of us who were in the maritime industry remained largely unaffected.” Five years on, Wilson has not looked back. Currently, the 30-year old is the Acting Department Head for the Benoi Yard Piping Department at Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine). ST Marine, the marine arm of ST Engineering, is a premier shipyard providing
turnkey shipbuilding, ship conversion and ship repair services to a worldwide customer base in the naval and commercial markets. When asked to describe his work, Wilson said, “There are always tons of things to learn and plenty of challenges to overcome at work. The shipbuilding process is not like a manufacturing process. Every day presents different issues to overcome. These range from technical issues like interferences, to design changes, and additional requests from ship-owners to de-conflict work process with other trades, amongst others. There is also the constant need to look, reflect and think of how to implement new processes and technology to do the job better.” Moving up the ranks from an engineer to his current position, Wilson has been involved in a number of repairs and new-build projects. He even had opportunities to travel to India and the United States of America as part of his work. The driven individual professed that he still finds a great sense
“While an airplane or a train is generally designed to take its passengers from one place to another within a short duration, a ship is built with the objective of making it a floating city as a result of the longer duration needed to travel and the harsh conditions out at sea. These prompted the continuous demand for innovation and more effective automation to drive up work efficiency. With the evolution and advancement of technology, we also have to design and construct vessels that can successfully operate in severe conditions such as the North Sea and the Arctics, or go to the deepest depths and withstand immense amount of pressure. It is an exciting and intellectually stimulating process.” For graduates who are keen to join the maritime industry, Wilson advised that perseverance is an important trait to have. “Perseverance is not just about working hard. It requires the commitment to continuously press on even when faced with numerous setbacks. At the production department, we face various problems ranging from manpower issues to that of
safety and productivity matters, It is important that the people have a never-say-die attitude; to persevere and work towards solving the problems.”
Be a MaritimeONE scholar NUS engineering students could consider applying for the MaritimeONE scholarships which support various degree programmes. Sponsoring companies range from shipping lines and shipyards to maritime ancillary services companies, and some of these scholarships are bond-free. Since the inception of the MaritimeONE scholarships in 2007, a total of 160 scholarships valued at over S$1.1 million have been offered to outstanding students to pursue maritime-related courses in Singapore and overseas. To find out more about the MaritimeONE scholarship programme, maritime education and career opportunities, visit www.maritimecareers.com.sg. You could also email to email@example.com.
SEX AND VIOLENCE 22
CINEPHILE B -S R ite
// A SEPARATION Chia Soong Ming
Separation has the honour of giving Iran its first Oscar win at the 2012 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Director and screenwriter Asghar Farhadi builds on his simple narrative with subtle storytelling and complex characters. In the process, he evokes a variety of themes that are universally yet deeply Iranian. The narrative is framed by the impending separation of the two protagonists, Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami). While still on civil terms, they are irreconcilable in the paths they have chosen: Simin hopes for a better life for her family through emigrating out of Iran, but Nader does not want to leave due to his ailing father. Their 11 year old daughter, Termeh, is caught in the middle. The situation soon becomes dire for the family as Razieh, a former domestic employee, accuses Nader of pushing her during a dispute, causing her to fall and miscarry her unborn baby. The subsequent investigative process forces all characters to confront and question their own conceptions of truth and morality. The directorâ€™s choice to employ a handheld camera lends the film a muted
sense of realism. The powerful narrative draws us deep into the legal dispute without overshadowing the emotional resonance held by characters. The backbone of A Separation is undisputedly its deeply nuanced and morally complex characters. As the four-corner dispute advances between Nader, Simin as well as Razieh and her husband, white lies, ulterior motives and hidden virtues slowly unravel. What we are left with is a complex puzzle of challenging but relatable characters, as they negotiate with the themes of justice, religion and family in Iranian society. The visuals themselves are ripe with symbolism. From framing and props that reflect the theme of distance and division, to the editing which often deliberately conceals crucial information, we end up with a powerful visual narrative that works with the script to give us multiple versions of the truth. The central theme of divorce in the film resonates widely with subtle references to a similar widening gap between tradition and modernity, self and country, the lower and middle classes, as well as truth and morality, as Iranians come to terms with their social identity in this modern era.
Theatrical Release Poster from wikipedia.org
STARRING: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Merila Zarei DATE RELEASED: 15 February 2011 (Berlin) 16 March 2011 (Iran)
// The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Angelita Sasmita
he first installment of The Mortal Instruments is at best laughable and at worst unbearable. While some of us are impervious to the charm of pale vampires and furry werewolves, we understand the money making incentive Hollywood producers have in the search of the next Twilight. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, unfortunately, is nowhere near a successor. Despite US$60 million spent on promotions and the support of big names in the music industry (Demi Lovato, Colbie Calliat), Mortal Instruments has proven to be a disastrous movie both critically and commercially. What went so terribly wrong? Mortal Instruments tells the story of a teenage girl named Clary (Lily Collins) who witnesses an incident that mere Mundanes (same as Muggles, but unpleasant to the ear) should not be able to see. Her world starts to turn upside down when she realises that other (not so) fascinating fantasy creatures exist. A cliché love-triangle adventure thus begins. In a world where Americans with British accents are Shadow Hunters and bearded Motorbike gang members are werewolves, an element of believability is crucial. Producers need to exploit the doubt in our mind – after all, the best lies are told with some truth in it. If word went out about a real magic school located in the UK, how many of us would want to believe it? That believability is the real magic of Harry Potter, or even Christopher Nolan’s film Inception. Having said that, declaring that Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach was a Shadow Hunter with tattoos does not exactly spell believable. Juggling pressures from the writer, high expectations from fans and the limitations
Poster from thatfilmguy.net
STARRING: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Lena Headey, Kevin Durand, Aidan Turner, Jemima West, Godfrey Gao, C. C. H. Pounder, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers DATE RELEASED: 21st August 2013 of film production - it is not surprising that only a handful of tie-in movies are successful. The film makers of The Perks of Being A Wallflower and The Hunger Games, for instance, realised that a movie is not an audio book with pictures. Watching a teenage boy writing letters or a surviving girl hiding on a tree with her voice-over as narration does not exactly bring down the house. Mortal Instruments, in contrast, tries too hard to please its book fanbase by following the first half of the book religiously. Compressing over 400 pages into 130 minutes left the cast in 50 different places at once, leaving little time for the audience to digest and follow the plot. The movie barely gives any regard towards the characters or the world they represent; actors come in and out
delivering their lines as matters of fact and addressing the essential issues of the story carelessly. The supposedly fearless and dedicated Shadow Hunter, Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), spends much of his screen time running around with his teenage gang, using the words “Shadow Hunter” and “Demon Hunter” interchangeably, creating severe discontinuity. Even the charismatic and manipulative rebel leader Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) came off as paranoid and lost. Mortal Instruments seems to be confused about its own genre. At times, the fantasydrama movie resembles a slasher, a thriller, or even a cheap comedy film. The dialogues were so horribly crafted, with blatant jokes put in inappropriate places, that on many occasions I felt like
burying my face in a bucket of popcorn. And just when we thought we’ve seen it all, Mortal Instruments commits a mortal sin by delivering the pick-up line, “I-saidI’d-never-seen-an-angel-but-I-lied”. This reviewer was left speechless. Despite borrowing all the magic tricks from Harry Potter and the fated love story from Twilight, Mortal Instruments was lost in its search for its own flavour. While it is doubtful that audiences will return to watch the second movie (in the making), as movie fans we hope that the production team will learn from their mistakes and be able to produce movies worth following in the future.
FOR OUR TV JUNKIES Homeland //review
here are movies and TV shows about 9/11, and then there’s ‘Homeland’. ‘Homeland’ should really be in a league of its own. It is not the same ‘old-winein-a-new-bottle’ terrorist thriller that you have seen thousands of times before. You know the kind – bad man blows something up, anxious federal agents try to find him, intense music echoes constantly in the background. ‘Homeland’ is less about terrorism and more about the people fighting terrorism and their relationships. Sure, things explode in flames (Anyone who watched the Season 2 finale where something is dramatically blown up - no spoilers here, promise - knows what I’m talking about), but this violence is just the backdrop to the characters and their interactions.
‘Homeland’ revolves around Carrie Mathison, a hyper-intelligent yet flawed CIA agent who blames herself for 9/11. As she says in the very first episode, “I missed something once, I won’t – I can’t – miss something again”. She is brilliantly played by Claire Danes, who has won various awards and garnered
AND WHO DOESN’T LOVE A SHOW WITH A LOT GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME?”
critical acclaim for the role. Carrie is obsessed – no, maniacally, steadfastly, wholeheartedly fixated – with Abu Nazir, a mastermind terrorist who is planning
something huge: the next 9/11. But Carrie does not think Nazir is working alone – Nicholas Brody is a war hero who has been rescued from eight years of captivity in Afghanistan. While everyone else is busy celebrating his heroism and valour, Carrie is adamant that he is a terrorist who has been turned by Nazir. She spends the entirety of Season 1 trying to convince her colleagues of Brody’s duplicitous nature, but no one believes her. By the end of Season 1, everyone thinks she’s crazy – and guess what? She might just be, in a sense. We learn that Carrie is struggling with bipolar disorder. Want proof of her bipolarity? Well, a romantic relationship may or may not be ignited between Carrie
and Brody. Yes, the same Brody she is convinced is a terrorist. But the thing about Homeland is that we understand where Carrie is coming from and her confused, rather inappropriate love for Brody. Ultimately, that is the best thing about the show – it gets you completely invested in the characters’ lives and relationships, but also totally engrossed with the terrorist-infused twists and turns. And who doesn’t love a show with a lot going on at the same time? It simply means that there’s more to distract you from your work!
Season 3 of "Homeland” premiers on the Showtime network in USA on 29 September, 2013
CANDAL revolves around former White House communications director Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her new gig running her own crisis management firm. She is a professional ‘fixer’ who makes problems disappear before anyone even knows they exist. Confident, smart and beautiful, smooth talker Olivia handles a variety of clients from politicians, CEOs to troubled housewives. What makes her so legendary in the field? Everything she does is based on gut feeling. As she famously said “my gut is never wrong”. Unfortunately, Olivia is only mostly right. The seemingly invincible Olivia has her
own scandal to manage: she has an affair with a married man, who just so happens to be the President of the United States. Just as we think the Lewinsky-esque scandal was big enough, we find out that Olivia is deeply involved in another mysterious scandal involving associate Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes), which she is equally desperate to cover from the world. These secrets do have repercussions: her professional decisions are affected, and at many occasions, her colleagues question her sense of judgment. The end of Season 2 throws all the cards available on the table. Yet even as this poker game comes to an end, everybody seems to have more cards up their sleeves. After all, in politics, everything is fair game. We may have seen all the murders, indiscretions and conspiracies, but there will always be puzzle pieces ready-made to fit into full-blown scandals. Are Olivia and Mr President done for good? Will the case with Quinn delve into something darker? What does the CIA have to do with the White House scandal? Who is the leak? We just have to wait for our answers when Scandal returns for a third season.
persuasive, Harvey has his pick of clients and women.
UITS follows the lives of lawyers Harvey Specter and Mike Ross as they work together in Pearson Hardman, a (fictional) top law firm in New York. Mike is your typical Will Hunting - a brilliant young man with an eidetic memory who is unable to enrol to law school due to financial constraints. Harvey, on the other hand, is already the top dog in his field - people know him as ‘the best closer in New York’. When we first meet Harvey, he has just been promoted to senior partner at Pearson Hardman, where they are notorious for only hiring graduates from Harvard Law School. Charming and extremely
Harvey and Mike meet at an unlikely situation involving cops and marijuana. Mike’s wit and vast knowledge of law impresses Harvey enough to hire him as his associate - even without a degree. But Mike soon realises that being a corporate lawyer requires much more than just quick thinking. He dives face first into the moral dilemmas of choosing between being a good person or a good lawyer. His secret that he is not a Harvard graduate, or even a certified lawyer, leaves him vulnerable to his competitors. In Season 3, Pearson Hardman merges with a rival British based firm and becomes Pearson Darby. Now rife with internal politics, they have to reestablish themselves as the leading Law firm in NYC. Despite Harvey’s great unhappiness with the new arrangement, his hands are tied – Mike’s secret was used against him and he was forced to betray Harvey. It seems cracks are appearing between this once solid duo for the first time ever.
// Video Chat
BLURRED LINES PARODY: DEFINED LINES
NGIAO THINGS I DO
Uploader: Law Revue
Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines may be the catchiest tune of this summer, but it also deserves all the controversy it got. Catch this video to see the best take by women so far. Men, watch this.
We might be of different genders, race and religions, but we are still one united nation - through newspaper's sharing” and lying about our age, of course.
// the complexities of two are unleashed we you know what
bookworm adventures Dash & Lily's Book of Dares CHUA PEI LING
n enjoyable and light-hearted read, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn shares Dash and Lily’s budding romance and adventures in New York during Christmas time. Written by the same bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, readers can expect a heart-warming story with sarcasm and slapstick humour to unwind with. Snarly Dash stumbles upon a red Moleskine notebook among the shelves of the Strand bookstore, deliberately left behind by a stranger named Lily. Trading the Moleskine back and forth across various locations in New York, Lily takes Dash and the reader on an unexpected Christmas adventure with messages of love, hope and endless possibilities. Told in dual perspectives, the book is refreshing with the alternating tones of Dash and Lily’s voices which offers a closer look at the thoughts and emotions of both characters. However, this very aspect of the storytelling made it slightly confusing in differentiating between the character’s narration and their own internal monologues. Nonetheless, the book is a cute read that will have you dreaming of your own red Moleskine adventure. Fun fact: Much like Dash and Lily, the authors challenged each other by trading chapters of the book without knowing how the novel would end!
Authors: David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
The Dresden Files (series) REGINA KOH
ellblazer gave us Constantine, and the idea later expanded to give us urban fantasy. Magic doesn’t have to be swords-andhorses and Tolkien. Noir was already proven to possess its own bewitching glamour. In no way did the changing times and technology prove an impediment to the idea of magic existing alongside science. Magic was no longer a resource limited to the wealthy and theatrical, and the Dresden Files embodies that idea. The idea is simple: Harry Dresden is a wizard and private detective, operating out of modern day Chicago, and reluctantly hired by a special police task force as a consultant on supernatural crimes. The execution is not that simple; being a cross between urban Gothic fantasy and film noir, the genre-savvy main character cracks jokes about the various tropes it uses. The Dresden Files cover a series of novels, fourteen and counting, plus associated short stories and comic miniseries and the like across the genres of horror, mystery and fantasy. It was adapted into a drama series by the Sci Fi Channel. There is also a tabletop role-playing game, which is much more faithful to the books. Despite its rather slow beginnings, the Dresden Files can be seen as one of the forerunners of urban fantasy. Far from merely magic in an urban setting, the books best exemplify the troubles of blue-collar warlocks trying to live in a world where a majority population does not believe in magic and think of Dresden as a charlatan. You would be hard-pressed not to be at least mildly exasperated, horrified, pained and laughing as Harry goes about his daily cases and faces the darkness. This is not a nice series; if urbanfantasy-mystery had its own genre, the Dresden Files would be amongst the darkest of the lot. That’s what makes it real.
Author’s Name: Jim Butcher
Nobody Can Love You More NIGel Tan
ublished just last year, Nobody Can Love You More is an anthology of heartbreaking poetry by Indian writer and photojournalist Mayank Austen Soofi, who is widely known for his blog, The Delhi Walla (www.thedelhiwalla.com).
In this foray into Delhi’s darker side, Soofi documents his three-year-long investigative journey into GB Road, the largest red light district in Delhi, which is notorious for its trade and the prevalence of crime and violence that go with it. To start off, Soofi joins Kotha number 300, which is occupied by the brothel owner, Sabir Bhai, his four children, and the sex workers living with there. Here, he learns how the business operates and the trade’s many secrets. Soofi also dives into the private lives and the minds of the Kotha’s residents through opportunistic, and sometimes random, conversations with them. Overtime, Soofi develops a deep, platonic friendship with Sushma, a forty-something-year-old prostitute who still works in the trade despite her age. Soofi also befriends twelve-year-old Omar, Sabir Bhai’s eldest son, who confesses to him about his shame of being related to the business, his fear of God’s judgment on his family, and his hope of a better future, away from the chaos of GB Road. In between the intriguing dialogue and the succinct descriptions of the people and places, Soofi also manages to educate the reader on the historical evolution of the sex industry of Delhi – its shift in location from Chawri Bazaar to GB road, as well as the changes in the practices of sex workers and the hierarchy existing betwen them.
Author’s Name: Mayank Austen Soofi
Unlike the countless other novels of the same genre that promise you jaw-dropping scandals and heart-wrenching dramas, Nobody Can Love You More, with its honest presentation of the seemingly bizarre yet ordinary lives of the residents of GB Road, is a fresh breath of air. It allows you the reader to see the intersectional of social class, kinship, friendship, love, faith and religion through the lens of different lives. It is an engaging narrative that celebrates life, and the resilience and beauty of the human spirit.
The Ocean at The End of the Lane (2013) REGINA KOH
ike Pixar movies, Gaiman’s tales tend to de-construct genres no matter which genre the story happens to be in. Like Pixar movies, Gaiman’s books also tend to sell well.
That’s not to say that Gaiman is mainstream; Gaiman’s career was more or less built on twisting stories of all kinds. Likewise, this story follows the same route of playing with the ‘returning home’ trope. Told in first-person by an unnamed male protagonist, we follow his memory as he reflects back through time to his childhood. All wasn’t necessarily well at home; to maintain the property, his parents took in lodgers, renting out his room and forcing him to share with his sister. When one lodger turns up dead, that’s when our hero meets Lettie Hempstock. Lettie and her mother and grandmother, who live down at the end of the lane, are more than meets the eye. They can snip things out of history, and see monsters for what they really are. When our hero’s new governess Ursula Monkton starts her own little crusade against him, it’s up to him and Lettie to stop her.
Author’s Name: Neil Gaiman
While this book is written from a child’s point of view, it contains disturbing imagery, nudity, child abuse, and discussions of corporal punishment... that is, frankly, par for the course in any book by Gaiman. It feels like a callback to when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt, with deceptively innocent things could taken as terrifying monsters in another view. There’s a lot of adult fear narrated in beautiful prose, as well as nostalgia, and occasionally our hero goes off on tangents as he chases the fantastic memory that happened once, washed grey by time. Fun to read? Not really. Yet, evocative? Certainly.
ALBUMS to check out Rachel Phua
1. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE- THE 20/20 EXPERIENCE 2 OF 2
4. JANELLE MONAE- THE ELECTRIC LADY
7. THE DODOS- CARRIER 8. HOLY GHOST!- DYNAMICS
2. MGMT- MGMT
5. THE NAKED AND FAMOUS- IN ROLLING WAVES
3. TROMBONE SHORTY- SAY THAT TO SAY THIS
6. BILL CALLAHAN- DREAM RIVER
credits : oh
9. GOLDFRAPP- TALES OF US 10. X’HO AND ARCN TEMPL-LUCIFUGOUS
RIDING THE K-INDIE WAVE
Tan Yan Ni
efore you turn this page, let us say this isn’t another article about K-pop. Trust us. We won’t mention Psy, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, coverage of aesthetically appealing idols, their synchronized performances or their screaming fans. This is about the other side of the Korean music industry, the side that has been overshadowed by the overwhelming popularity of K-pop in recent years.
What's on the other side? Korean independent music, or K-indie for short, is the music genre that covers Korean musicians who are not under the management of major entertainment conglomerates (those which churn out K-pop idols by the truckload). Many of these musicians may not have been trained to be the typical all-rounded and glamorous celebrities but are definitely not lacking in the talent department. Unlike in K-pop where the role of a celebrity is mainly that of a stage performer, most K-indie musicians are composers and lyricists as well, who can produce their own unique music.
Moreover, they enjoy the freedom to write any kind of music in any genre. They do not have to deal with restrictions or demands imposed by the entertainment conglomerates. As a result, K-indie is highly varied in style, giving rise to sub-genres like K-indie Jazz and K-indie R&B. Often, traditional styles are mixed to create new forms of music, like the unique ballad-rap style found in tracks like LeeSsang’s TEARS. K-indie is also increasingly seen as a welcome alternative for those who are tired of the mass-market music in the K-pop industry. In this genre, musicians
are not entertainers, dancers or models. They are simply people who make music for the sake of their passion, not a paycheck or fame. This is why it is so easy to fall in love with a K-Indie band whose members without seeing their faces all over their album covers. It is also easy to find yourself humming the tune of a song which Korean lyrics you cannot understand, only to Google the translation and find out that the lyrics are as beautiful as the song is catchy. It is easy to do these things because K-indie is a world of diversity where only the music matters. You could wake up to the upbeat rhythm of 10cm’s AMERICANO and fall asleep
to the soothing voices in Urban Zakapa’s CAFE LATTE. You could study with the lighthearted melody of Busker Busker’s CHERRY BLOSSOM ENDING playing in the background or stay up late reading a book with the haunting high notes of Insooni’s GOOSE’S DREAM echoing in your ears. Whether you’re looking for quality music, a new genre to explore or even a new ringtone, K-indie is a genre with much to offer. It is definitely worth checking out.
La Dispute: Somewhere at the Bottom of the River between Vega and Altair KinTan andanari
ombing dissonant composition and raw poetry, La Dispute’s first full-length record, SOMEWHERE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER BETWEEN VEGA AND ALTAIR, has been gaining a steady cult following ever since its release in 2008. Joining the likes of bands like Oh Sleeper, La Dispute’s concept album centers around a tale from a Chinese folklore, recounting the separation of a celestial princess and a cowherd. Though it does not govern the lyrical
content of every song, they use this as a point of departure: every song describes the pain of being separated by external circumstances. FALL DOWN NEVER GET BACK UP AGAIN, for instance, is written based on Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee, a heartwrenching poem on death separating young lovers. For those afflicted by long distance relationship woes, then Andria would aptly sum up the turmoil inside your
mind. Basically, this album is the perfect remedy for broken hearts. If you’re not a fan of hardcore music, fret not, for this album defies any form of categorization: it is a mélange of down beat, mellow songs like SUCH SMALL HANDS and the more fast-paced, emotionally charged tunes like ANDRIA and SAD PRAYERS FOR GUILTY BODIES.
Adiemus : Songs of the Sanctuary KEE JIA YUN
f there was a soundtrack for traversing across the great African plains, Adiemus: Songs of the Sanctuary is it. Composed by Karl Jenkins and published in 1995, this is an album that sounds like a strange blend of African tribal music and soothing lullabies. Rest assured though – the overall effect of the album is oddly charming. Its title track, Adiemus, gives the listener an idea of the variety of styles available: a mix of haunting vocals and atmospheric drum beats set the tone of the piece before introducing the harsher textures of tribal-style chanting and soothing instrumentals. Apart from its excellent title track, there are other particularly noteworthy tracks such as TINTINNABULUM. The use of church bells and violin strands tricks listeners into thinking it’s a serious, melancholic piece when it’s actually
rather cheerful. In the same vein, CANTUS INAEQEUALIS starts with somber tones before quickly establishing a quirky beat. Interestingly, IN CAELUM FERO resembles what we might associate with the Mission Impossible theme song before diverging into a more exotic mix. Unfortunately, not all the tracks in Adiemus are worth listening to. Some tracks - such as Cantus Insolitus and Amate Adea are exceedingly dull. While Hymn is a little too short to be particularly memorable, it has some lovely vocals so don’t let that stop you. Despite its flaws, Adiemus is still a noteworthy listen for its amazing blend of textures. If you’re looking for alternative tunes, this might be the ideal album.
CoExist MELISSA YASMIN STEWART
The XX released their sophomore album, titled Coexist, on the 10th of September 2012. Consisting of songs written by its members Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, the album was also produced by fellow member Jamie XX. Just like their previous album, their latest album revolves around the theme of love, both its joy and its shortcomings. This emotionally loaded album promises to be relatable to every one of us. Opening with ANGELS which tells the story of an all-consuming love with a hint of joy, the album slowly moves to break your heart in songs like SUNSET and MISSING. With simple lyrics, the indie pop band tells their own stories of romances that are not quite functional. Sticking to their trademark of having minimal musical elements, it is difficult not
to be in your own world with the soothing vocals of the band members crooning in your ears. It is no wonder why the album went platinum in the member’s home country, the United Kingdom. Coexist is not a far cry from their first self-titled album. Hence, fans would be glad to know that the band’s tunes are not something we are completely unfamiliar with. This album is definitely recommended for fans of their first album, or for those of you going through heartache and seeking for something you can relate and empathize with. On hindsight, it is especially recommended for those completely disillusioned by the whole notion of love.
TALK WITH JONATHAN LEONG
credits: Jonathan Leong
Jonathan Leong’s new single COLOURS ,NEEDLES & STORIES is available for free download at the website, www.jonleong.com when you sign up for the mailing list.
ife’s adventures away from the desk and numbers aren’t an easy one to explore, but we’re glad our university has produced one soulful thrill-seeker. Enter Jonathan Leong, of Singapore Idol and Voyage de la vie fame, who has not stopped jamming and crooning to fans of music since his early days in the Army. Forging ahead with his voice and gung-ho attitude, Leong is now making full circuitsmotorbike included- of the local music industry as a professional artist and instructor at LASALLE College of the Arts. Before helming the stage at HERE!, we caught up with the man himself to find out more about his sensibilities. Hi Jon, we saw that your new single was just released. What else have you been up to? Jonathan Leong: Hey, I’m currently in the middle of writing, recording and producing a new full-length album. Colours, Needles and Stories is just one of the singles that will be in it. In a way, it’s not really a typical album, since each song is produced like a single, and I’m personally connected to each one of them; none of these songs are meant as fillers. I’ve also been working on music videos for each of them. I’ve just begun to teach at LASALLE, and at the same time, I’ve started my production company, Triad Bones Studio. We do music jingles, commercial work and music production and recordings for other bands and artists.
What other passion projects do you have? Leong: I help run a website called Lion City Tattoo (www.lioncitytattoo.com), where I cover what I can about the tattoo scene here. I conduct interviews and produce all the videos to give people some insight into the tattoo scene here. Singapore has some really good
tattoo artists. It’s been really great so far, because people from all over the world have left nice comments. I really appreciate that kind of feedback, and it gives support to this subculture that I also admire.
Colours, Needles and Stories features the local tattoo industry and some of its behind-the-scenes work. How did you get to know these artists and get them involved? Leong: I knew some of them since my army days, and we’ve stayed in contact since. Since I got my first tattoo when I was eighteen, I’ve always been a fan of the art form. Any stories behind your inks? Leong: No, I got them just because I liked the way the art looked. I’m not one of those who need to force a story behind every tattoo you get. It’s the same for life, I guess; you don’t need to justify everything that you do. Sometimes you just go for it because you like it. Great advice. So, how did NUS further your music career? Leong: NUS was pretty important in helping me craft my foray into music. Before all these, I never thought that I could pursue what I wanted- making music and videos, performing, writing my own songs- basically, to be creative. I didn’t think this could be a viable career. I formed my first band while I was in NS, and that was really important because it was my first step into the live music scene, even though I pretty much did it merely for fun. We used to jam on our free nights, and after our stint in army, we started performing more gigs at bars and events, and I continued with these gigs while studying in university. It was how I supported myself while I was in NUS.
When I wanted to take part in Idol, NUS was very supportive. The school gave me a semester off, and allowed me to get as far as I did in the competition. During my years in NUS, I also had several opportunities to perform. I would do several in-house gigs. I was also part of the NUS Jazz band for a short time and it was when I was in the band that I met my future vocal coach. The university gave me a place to build my contacts and to hone some of my performance skills. Most of my band mates at the time were also studying in NUS – one was from Political Science, another was from Law, and of course, it was relatively easy to find spaces to jam in NUS. I forged fond memories indeed. What are some of your musical influences? Leong: I’m into music from the earlier times: Blues, Country, ‘80s Synth pop and ‘90s Post-Grunge Rock. That’s the kind of direction I’m heading into- Bluegrass, Country and Blues with a bit of hard Rock. I want to fuse all of these styles together in my music but, for me, it’s all about the melody and the lyrics, really. We heard that you are a motorcycling enthusiast. How did you get into it? Leong: Yeah, I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was in NUS, I rode a dirt bike while I was studying here. I love motorbikes because of the feeling of freedom it gives. It lets me enjoy my travels. When you’re on a bike you’re really in touch with the environment, especially when you’re making long road trips overseas. It’s just you, and your bike. You have all the time and space to think, relax and spend time on reflection. No radio blasting, no one trying to sell you stuff through your speakers and phone screens, and nobody talking to you
from the passenger seats. Motorcycles, animals, tattoos, films, and my friends and family- my time will always be spent with them. Since you’re into films too, what are your favourite films and TV shows? Leong: I’m into all sorts of movies, so it’s really a mix of all sorts. I like the really good ones, and even the really bad and cheesy ones. First would be The
Godfather trilogy, I mean Francis Ford Coppola changed the scene. I’m a huge Guillermo del Toro fan, especially his older works like Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone. Dreams by [Akira] Kurosawa, is something that stuck after I watched it when I was 14 and 15. I’ll still take it out to watch sometimes. I’m a huge fan of horror, even the really B-grade ones, so the horror TV series Tales of the Crypt. I like The Simpsons too. Rebel Without A Crew isn’t a movie, but this book by director Robert Rodiguez really influenced me. After reading it, I decided to adopt a kind of “Mariachi style” to produce my work; basically, keeping budgets low and creativity high. The Crow is the movie that changed my life. I saw it when I was 10 or 11, when my cousin sneaked me into the cinema during the holidays. I became an instant fan of the movie. All I wanted to do was to grow my hair long, play the guitar and dress in black. After that day I didn’t want to wear anything else, my wardrobe became all black, and I’ve kept this style up until today. I have The Crow in all formats. When the cassette came out, I got it. When the LD came out, I saved all my money to buy it. And then I went to order the DVD, and now the Blu-Ray (laughs).
// NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) Performing Arts Events from October 2013 RACHEL PHUA
Da Capo VIII By NUS Wind Symphony Sat 26 Oct, 7pm UCC Hall ($15) NUS Wind Symphony brings you a stellar night at the Oscars with a programme of music from Oscar winning films. Highlights include a wind band arrangement of Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of Animals, which movie-goers would recognise as the music from Disney’s Fantasia and The Godfather movie soundtrack. Come and enjoy lively familiar favourites from Disney’s Mary Poppins and The Lion King or take in the tragic beauty of the theme from Schindler’s List. Fun for the whole family, Da Capo VIII promises to enchant and dazzle the audience!
Through the Looking Glass - A 35 th Anniversary Celebration By NUS Dance Synergy Fri 25 Oct, 8pm / UCC Hall $20, $25 (excluding SISTIC fee)
To see one’s own reflection in a mirror helps us to define who we are, but what we see can also limit who we become. Dancers depend heavily on mirrors, but do they accurately reflect reality? Led by Artistic Director & Resident Choreographer, Mr Fan Dong Kai, NUS Dance Synergy celebrates its 35th anniversary by looking at the complex relationship between the dancer and the mirror. As dancers persevere through the process of working with their reflections and overcoming boundaries, their senses and infinite possibilities are awakened. Will they break through the looking glass to emerge more confident and embrace new beginnings?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket enquiries. Tickets are available at all SISTIC authorized agents. For more information, please email email@example.com
Please contact nus.wind.symphony@ gmail.com for ticket enquiries.
Sankhya By NUS Indian Dance Fri 18 Oct, 8pm UCC Theatre ($10)
Pas de Deux By NUS Piano Ensemble Tue 8 Oct, 8pm UCC Theatre ($10) Wonderland《梦幻之境》 By NUS CHINESE ORCHESTRA Fri 18 Oct, 8pm UCC Theatre ($10)
Europa By Ron Korb Wed 23 Oct, 8pm UCC Theatre
Impressions 2013 By NUS Harmonica Orchestra Sat 12 Oct, 3.30pm library@esplanade Limited Seating All images credit to CFA.
All information correct at time of print and is subject to change without prior notice. Please visit www.nus.edu.sg/cfa for updates.
// NUS Museum Visual Arts Exhibitions from September 2013 onwards
Erika Tan, Jail Museum Mirror, Digital Print, 2013
Taiping Tianguo *new* NUS Museum 7 Sep to 3 Nov 2013
Come cannibalise us, why don't you? | E rika Tan *new* VEG Gallery, NUS Museum 22 Aug 2013 to 31 Jan 2014
Between Here and Nanyang: Marco Hsu's Brief History of Malayan Art *new* NUS Museum, South and Southeast Asian Gallery 22 Aug 2013 till 2015
Gallery Impression, SHIMURAbros Road Movie – Road To Singapore, video installation, plastic crates/size: 340x110x85cm.
Gallery Impression, Biography of a Public Sculpture, NUS Museum, 2012
SHIMURA bros ROAD MOVIE - Road to Singapore NUS Museum, Lee Kong Chian Gallery Till December 2013
Biography of a Public Sculpture - Salvaging and Conserving NUS Museum 9 October 2012 to 31 March 2014
Marco Hsu’s 1963 Chinese publication, 马来亚艺术简史, A Brief History of Malayan Art.
Sculpting Life: The Ng Eng Teng Collection NUS Museum 9 October 2012 to 31 March 2014
All images credit to CFA & NUS MUSEUM
Atomic Jaya casts and Huzir Sulaiman. credits: checkpoint-theatre.org
ATOMIC JAYA EVENT LISTING rachel phua
tomic Jaya returns for a new production this October, with its much-loved satirical humour in place for another round of laughter and enlightenment. Written and directed by award-winning playwright Huzir Sulaiman, Atomic Jaya starts off with the premise of “What happens when Malaysia decides to build an Atomic Bomb?” In comes physicist, Dr Mary Yuen, who is recruited for the
DATE/TIME Thu 24 Oct – Fri 01 Nov 2013, 8pm daily plus 3pm on Sat & Sun (No show on Mon)
VENUE Drama Theatre, School Of The Arts (Singapore)
DURATION top-secret national project to build the region’s first atomic bomb. With such a heavy task at hand, she gets drawn deeper and deeper into the ambitious scheme and madness and hilarity ensures. Starring Singaporean actresses Claire Wong and Karen Tan in all 16 roles in the play, Checkpoint Theatre’s 15th anniversary production of Atomic Jaya promises to be a show to remember.
100 minutes with intermission
TICKET PRICES Tue, Wed, Thu & Sun 8 pm $60 , $50 , $40 Sat & Sun 3 pm $60 , $50 , $40 Fri & Sat 8 pm $65 , $55 , $45 Prices exclude $3 SISTIC handling fee. Tickets available from SISTIC
SEX AND VIOLENCE 36
Guide to style for school:
The Essentials Jerome Caleb Ong
Black Wardrobe Essentials from fashionmostwanted.com
ooking good for school is honestly really simple, and while this article is dedicated to the dudes, it can also be a good read for the ladies who perhaps need a little extra knowledge on male fashion, maybe to dress up their boyfriends. Being in NUS - as a generalization - students here find it rather unnecessary to dress up for school unlike our counterparts who have their campus right beside the heart of our local shopping district. Perhaps we at NUS, particularly the men, feel that it takes too much time and effort to dress up. Maybe it is due to the lack of knowledge and experience in fashion that makes us shy away from styling ourselves. Fear no more because I’ll be here to share what I have picked up over the years of attempting to stay fashionable without going over the top. So here is my little guide to the essential clothing every guy’s wardrobe should have for looking good in campus.
You’ll never go wrong with solid colours. Unlike graphic and print tees, a plain solid colour tee is easy to style with. But the little concern with colours is how to match them. My suggestion is that you should go with colours such as forest green, eggplant, charcoal, maroon, navy blue. Some lighter colours you can think about are the royal blue or teal (jade colour), cardinal red, mustard and white. The colours mentioned here are similarly relevant to the rest of the clothing as well. When you’ve got 3-4 colours for each of the mentioned clothing, all you have to do then is experiment with mixing and matching them to see which combinations fit best. Tip: Get striped tees if you’re looking for that extra dimension. Some other variations are the scoop or V-neck
Check shirts never go out of style but do get linen, denim or casual cotton solid coloured shirts as well. Some colours to consider are oatmeal, mustard, deep sky blue and dark blue. Tip: To get the right fit, avoid letting your shirt length go beyond the zip line of you pants. A good rule of thumb is about 2 to 3 inches below your belt or pants button if you don’t wish to tuck your shirt. If you intend on tucking them, then it will be fine if they were slightly longer. Also, when the sleeves are not folded, they should not go more than an inch beyond the start of your palm. Chinos are the new jeans and slim fit is the way to go. With a cut that is between that emo skinny jeans (I’m sure some of us went through that phase) and the unflattering straight cut, the current fashion calls for a trimmed sleek look and the slim fit cut affords you exactly that. Brown pants or chinos are my personal favourite, as it goes well with any colour. Some other colours that are a must have are navy blue, maroon and eggplant. If you’re feeling brave enough, mustard is a good choice of a brighter colour to have. The thing about chinos and pants are that they give a more clean, neat and mature touch to your dressing and they’re definitely classier than jeans. On days you feel like looking and feeling younger, a nice pair of charcoal or dark denim jeans in slim fit cut can be a good alternative to the chino pants. Tip: Don’t get bermudas that go beyond your knees. A good gauge is 1 to 2 inches above knee length and not any shorter than 6 inches above your knee. For the chino pants, alter them if you must, just slightly lower than your ankles. Try folding the pants not more than 2 or 3 folds for a slight variation in look.
What you wear on your feet makes a world of a difference to your outfit. While the gentlemen’s shoes have almost as wide a range as the ladies, the most versatile pair you should have is the sneakers. A good variation to the usual Converse ones is the Plimsolls. While the sneakers complements most casual attire, Plimsolls give that extra edge when it comes to looking a little more dressed up, as well as giving that bit more mature look. Avoid wearing rubber slippers with any of your outfit, and if you must wear slippers, a more stylish pair would be one with leather straps. Leather sandals would make a classier alternative to leather strap slippers. Tip: Grey, brown or navy shoes go well with many colours and that makes it easy to match them with your outfit.
This, my friends is the secret weapon – the best tip from this guide. While it can be rather silly to don an outerwear in this hot and humid weather we have all year round, owning a cardigan can be one of the best fashion items to have in your wardrobe. A cardigan magically makes any attire you are in seem that much more fashionable and proper. (Trust the girls on this) What is even better is that cardigans are made with rather thin fabric, allowing us to wear it without being afraid of breaking a sweat – well at least for a good 10 minutes out of an air conditioned place and if you do, you can always take it off and it fits nicely into your school bag without taking too much space. On the other hand – for those rainy days, the cardigan has the right thickness to keep you warm. Don’t worry – a man wearing a cardigan is no girly man; it has been part of the male fashion catalogue for a long time. Personally I think that owning one grey or navy coloured cardigan is good enough to last you through your university days. Tip: Make sure it isn’t overly fitting or too loose; choose one that fits nicely off your shoulders with the sleeves not extending beyond the line between your palm and wrist.
WHERETO GET THEM
T-Shirts – UNIQLO, FOURSKIN After all the time spent trying out plain tees from various shops, I found that Uniqlo and Fourskin offer the best fitting t-shirts. The sleeves don’t flair out at the upper arm and the cutting fits nicely off the shoulders. Shirts – H&M, UNIQLO, TOPMAN The price ranges rather widely between these 3 suggestions, and I personally get most of my casual shirts from H&M. Pants/Berms – H&M, UNIQLO, TOPMAN I find TOPMAN berms the best fit but at a cost. My favourite chinos were bought from Uniqlo. Footwear – H&M (less costly), PEDRO, ALDO (more costly) H&M plimsolls cost less than SGD30, definitely worth getting a pair from there. The leather slippers or sandals are quite costly in Pedro and Aldo. Cardigan – H&M, ZARA (more costly) You can get a cardigan at H&M between SGD 25 – SGD 70.
Simple layering goes a long way. Wearing a shirt unbuttoned over a plain tee can be a good change up while using the same clothes you wore just last week. As mentioned, the cardigan can have the same effect as well. Wearing your short with a white tee one Monday and wearing a pair of chinos and the same white tee on Friday and you’ll have a totally different look on both days! It goes the same for your footwear. It’s all about switching and mixing it up. In my opinion that in itself makes styling and dressing up really fun! Perhaps something this guide assumes is that the cost is affordable to all – do use what you currently have and whenever you have the extra cash to spare, purchase one or two of these essentials and slowly your wardrobe would be fully made over!
A Letter to my Twenty-Year-Old Self Chan Yi Wen
ear Yi Wen,
I’m writing to you from the year 2013. If this letter managed to travel back in time, you should be in 2010, and tomorrow is your first day of college.
You should be psyched! After all, everyone who’s graduated from college has been harping on and on about how college was the best time of their lives; and everyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to go to college have expressed a deep desire to have that experience. College is apparently the time you make lifelong relationships, return to your innermost core and rediscover yourself, viva la vida, and all that jazz… but right about now you’re tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall to sleep. Instead of experiencing the rush that everyone else around you seems to be having as they gear up for college, you’re plagued down with your billion and one unfounded fears. Is Business really the path you intend to pursue? What does Business even mean?! Will you be able to meet or exceed academic expectations? Will you be able to connect with your peers? What if you give others this overconfident and cocky vibe? What do you say or do to appear knowledgeable and intelligent? Your list goes on and on and on… Initially, you wanted to pursue Mass Communications, but Dad pulled out the parental card and suggested Business. You debated that for a while – you argued that you’ve never had a passion for Business; unlike the one you have for Journalism. Dad proceeded to yank out more cards – the ‘I’m Decades Older, Therefore I Am’ card, the ‘You’ve Never Tried Out Business, How Do You Know It’s Not The Thing For You’ card, etc. You’re going to shut him out. But take a step back, and listen to what he has got to say. He’s three decades older, and has been slogging his entire life. He probably knows better. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I know you and you tend to get insanely obsessed with something and end up shutting yourself out to the rest of the world. It’s unhealthy.
Concurrently, your older sister has been trying to rectify any wrongs she’d made during her early days in college through you. You’re almost like her second chance. To this end, she has instructed in fine detail what you should or should not be partaking in university. Investment Society, check, Bizad Club, check, Student Union, Political Society, Case Competitions, check, check, check. Anything else you suggest is promptly slammed down with the promise that it’s all with your best intentions in mind. You think it’s an overused premise, and you think the advice given isn’t appropriate for your unique personality type; but conversely, listen to whatever she’s saying. Nine out of ten times, she’s right; they’re mostly universal truths that transcend all possible personality types. These days, when I interact with freshmen around campus, I see a lot of myself in them (and you) at that age. And it makes me realize that everyone has to go through that same painstaking process of maturing, which involves that one tragic perspectivechanging event or occasionally bumping into walls to finally get to the point of revelation. To be honest, I was hesitating whether to intervene. I’m a strong proponent of selfeducation, and I didn’t want to screw up the natural progression of things. You should have the option of undergoing the brutal process of discovering your best self through diverse experiences and adverse setbacks. I really think that’s when we learn best. Yet, at the same time, I’d like you to learn from some of my failures. Why fail when you can learn from my failures? There are certain things I wished someone had told me when I was at your age. If I had known it earlier, I’d be able to accomplish so much more! So I know it will change your life in profound ways. You’re going to spend a significant portion of your college education daydreaming of another dimension – a utopia where you can shortcut your way to fame and fortune; the strategy you adopted to get through the A’ Levels won’t work in Business School, where you procrastinate the entire semester and expect to get straight As and deliver the Valedictorian speech on behalf of your graduating class.
And while you were lost in your own delusions, the world was moving on, or at least your peers in Business School were. At the end of the day, when the sun sets and your grades differed from expectations, you’ll be tempted to play the blame-game on the incumbent government and the college’s administration for having an over-emphasis on rote learning, and the bell curve’s existence. But you’re going to start appreciating the business side of things, and see a potential connection between Finance and Journalism. When that happens, you’ll realize that you’ve lamented too much of college away! You’ll rebound and strive for the impossible. You’ll be like that oppressed kid in the candy store who was starved from sugar for an awfully long time, attempting to cram everything at once, intending to make up for all that lost time, but eventually ending up becoming an absolute generalist, a Jack-of-all-Trades, instead of acquiring valuable technical skills or specializing in a single core competency. Instead, give it a minute. In a New York Times interview with Emmy and Grammy award-winning stand-up comedian, Louis CK: NYT: Does it matter that what you’ve achieved, with your online special and your tour can’t be replicated by other performers who don’t have the visibility or fan base that you do? Louis CK: Why do you think those people don’t have the same resources that I have, the same visibility or relationship? What’s different between me and them? NYT: You have the platform. You have the level of recognition. Louis CK: So why do I have the platform and the recognition? NYT: At this point you’ve put in the time.
Over the next three years, you’re often going to contemplate deleting your social media accounts for good; do it. Each time you’re going to make the same lame excuses: Oh, I have to keep in touch with this friend in Hong Kong… or that friend in New York... Social networking might be fine for some people, but it’s so bad for you, especially if your self-worth relies on the number of likes you gather from the false impressions you generate on your Facebook profile. Also, stop entertaining fantasies of becoming rich and famous. I don’t think anyone who’s ever wanted to be rich and famous just because they wanted to become rich and famous, has truly become rich and famous; quite the contrary, actually. Instead, have sincere pursuits and expectations. Goals with genuine beliefs and honest intentions, and relationships with little pretense, with no need for dramatization or conspicuous affection or anything like that. While these things might sound like self-evident elements of life, they are not as common as you might think. I think a lot of people are inclined to interpret their lives and relationships based on what they have seen from Hollywood, or their Facebook newsfeeds. Which is sad. You also think you’re a profoundly deep individual because you’re able to appreciate movies from the 40’s, quirky indie music and abstract art forms. But you’re completely delusional; liking black & white films doesn’t automatically raise your credentials or make you any smarter than the average person. And please stop trying to practice the art of sarcasm because it really isn’t making the world a better place. Sorry that this letter ended up becoming a prolonged nag. I’m not trying to position myself as the beacon of knowledge, or the epitome of hope; I still have a ton of glaring flaws. But within my own slightly less sheltered capacity, I hope to be able to get you up to speed. Plus what would a letter from me to you be without a little scolding? After all, given that I’ve once been in your shoes, I’m your harshest critic. All that being said, I think there’s a child inside you, and you should never ever let her go away, because she fills you up with a sense of child-like wonder.
Louis CK: There you go. There’s no way around that. There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. There’s a small part of you who still thinks the world is a perfect place, where there It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or is peace in the Middle East and cures for cancer; where there exists the concept of even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be ‘eventual happiness’, and people age gracefully and live happily ever after. And I think able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair it’s essential for you to retain this optimism to stay sane in this mad, mad world. and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute. Quoting Gillian Anderson, “I love you, I believe in you, and I look forward to respecting Additionally, I hope you don’t see college as a path you pursue because everyone you.” else is doing that, or as something to craft your resume with, to get a foot in that investment-banking door. I don’t want you to let an institution, or anything else define Yours Truly, who you are; I want you to experience as much as you can, and go out there and do the extraordinary. Yi Wen On the personality front, in certain aspects you’re pretty shallow. Your idea of having a rich social life is wasting time on social media networks and walking up and down Orchard Road with the same few people you knew from your childhood.
THERE’S A SMALL PART OF YOU WHO STILL THINKS THE WORLD IS A PERFECT PLACE, WHERE THERE IS PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND CURES FOR CANCER
P.S. If this pay-it-backward concept holds true, perhaps a future me might be writing back to present me, and repeat. Also, invest in lots of Apple shares.
oday’s books, music and movies all seem to centre on romance and relationships. A quick scroll through Billboard’s Top 100 music chart would show a large portion of it dedicated to songs about relationships – whether they are about breaking up or falling in love; losing love or finding it, we cannot seem to get enough of relationships.
Around campus, if you look around, you can definitely spot the different types of couples. If you go into the library or around UTown, you will probably spot the study couple. They start out as just two people who happen to study together because of an assignment or a common class. However, after all that time spent together, they may eventually start dating. Or they could be the couples you see holding hands while plugged into their music players and writing their essays. These are probably those who are already dating but find that studying
together allows them to spend more time together.
hear of how it does not work out.
If you walk around the study tables scattered around campus, you may find some people sitting alone with their laptops and Skyping. These are the marathon runners; those with their other halves in another time zone, trying their best to weather the dreaded long distance relationship or LDR. We all have friends who have been through or are in LDRs, and we know how difficult it can be. It takes a lot of conviction and determination to commit to a long distance relationship and all too often we
see the elusive couple that are friends with benefits. These two would be in a casual relationship, with no strings attached. The FWB relationship has been explored in movies and we see how hilarity ensues from the characters’ antics of trying to remain detached. In real life, though, it is difficult to prevent the emotional entanglements in a relationship and friendships are often hurt irrevocably. After all, emotions are the very foundation of a relationship, making the FWB situation a tricky one to navigate.
If you look hard enough, you might just
SURVEYS HAVE SHOWED THAT A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE MEET THEIR SWEETHEARTS IN UNIVERSITY
Whatever the relationship, it is undeniable that we all seek to form some kind of connection with someone. In fact, it actually benefits our mental health to seek out someone to share our joys and worries with and to lean upon and
be leant upon. Yet you might be asking yourself why relationships in university matter. In the grand scheme of things, university is just three or four years of our lives. Surveys have showed that a large percentage of people meet their sweethearts in university and if you think about it, it makes sense. The campus grounds provide a great space to explore relationships and meet new people. Not all of us find our Romeos and Juliets from the get-go and you would probably have to date a few frogs to find your prince or princess. So until then, the campus is your stomping ground – get out there and who knows whether the next guy or girl you bump into could be ‘the one’. And if it doesn’t work out, I recommend a steady diet of Taylor Swift songs, chocolate and The Notebook on repeat.
Why You Should Have a Pen Pal too Loh Kai Ying
From left: “Aaron”, Kai Ying, and her three other German-speaking friends from NUS. Photo courtesy of Loh Kai Ying
essage from Aaron Schwartz (pseudonym): “Hallo Kai Ying! Wie geht’s? Gestern bin ich mit meinen Freunden Ski gefahren!...” (translation: “Hello Kai Ying! How are you? I skied with my friends yesterday!...”) An example of a typical conversation with my German pen pal, who before I went to Germany, was almost a complete stranger to me. When I tell people I have a pen pal from Germany, I get many mixed responses: “You online dating ah!”… “So cool! How you find one!”… “Not dangerous meh?”…”Lol so passe!”… among others. Maybe you would have reacted the same way, but before you decide this article is outdated – who still has a pen pal in this day and age anyway? – read on. Aaron and I found each other through an online pen pal finding website, Globalpenfriends.com. It is a safe and interactive online portal connecting people of all ages and from all around the world. Membership is free, and members create profiles with personal information – their interests and hobbies, or the kinds of pen pals they are looking for. This information will be manually scanned through and approved by the administrators. To date, Global
Penfriends has members from 215 countries, 57,778 postal pen pals and 114,756 e-mail pen pals. Similar pen pal sites have sprung up and are going strong. Variants like Prison Pen Pals, Teen Scene Pen Pals and other creative pen pal finding sites can also now be found online, making it easier for people with specific interests and backgrounds to connect with each other. Writing to a pen pal is not a dying practice and nor is it unimportant; rather, it has more relevance in the world than before. Here’s a list of reasons of why ‘penpal-ing’ is still in vogue, and why you should start writing to one today: 1) Making friends from all around the world People who sign up on pen pal finding websites intend to get to know others and to expand their social network. It’s a great way of making friends beyond the superficial level. Facebook is not an alternative, for how often do you add someone you barely know on Facebook, only to realise you both hardly communicate, followed by a swift deletion of that friend on your part after years of mutual inactivity? When you write
to someone, you invite the person into your life to know you more personally. A friendly pen pal without a face definitely does not mean your friendship is less worthy or less valuable. This way of keeping in touch that doesn’t involve a high level of commitment is definitely suitable for busy individuals like you and I. 2) Cultural exchange Making new friends from other countries enrich your cultural knowledge about the world. I’ve gotten to know Germany much more from what Aaron shares with me – such as how the weather gets very erratic, the best German Würste and Bier (sausages and beer), the best places to travel. He also shared with me life in a small village and how it’s so tiny “you can’t find anything there”. What a different life from the one we have in Singapore. If your pen pal speaks the language you are learning, you’re in luck. Exchanging mails in a foreign language helps you to improve your writing. For Aaron and I, we exchange messages in German and English. This way, he can hone his English while I improve my German – a win-win situation.
3) Meeting your pen pals while travelling According to a MasterCard survey in August, Singaporeans are among the most well-travelled in the Asia-Pacific region. So what are the odds you don’t get to meet your pen pal overseas? Being able to visit them and to understand their way of life allows you to experience what you never had before. I visited Aaron while I was on an immersion programme in Germany. He showed me and my friends around, and having a native as a local guide definitely facilitates travel and enables you to understand more of what you see around you. Better this than being a clueless tourist, eh? In an ever-shrinking world today, there are many opportunities to make new friends from all around the world. One of the best ways to do so is through writing – you forge friendships with your pen pals, and who knows, this pen pal who was once a stranger may become your best friend. Skeptical? Take for instance the success story of two wartime pen pals, Peggy Shafer and Muriel Cowley - the two women who have been exchanging hundreds of letters for more than 70 years. Now that’s what I call a true pen pal-ing success.
Great Escapes Wendy Wong
We’ve all been there: scrolling through your friend’s Facebook photos of her amazing backpacking trip in Europe, ogling at lists of ‘top 10 most beautiful places’ inconveniently located thousands of miles away and costing thousands of dollars, and reading descriptions of foreign and exotic lands you desperately want to go to. You’re drowning in envy and sick with wanderlust. But don’t despair—while you may not be able to see the Northern Lights in Norway or ski down the slopes of Switzerland, you can travel to budgetfriendly yet eye-opening vacation spots—just beyond our very own shores. The Ridge presents to you some overlooked nearby places you can consider visiting this coming holiday, tried-and-tested by our fellow friends.
Boring BONDOWOSO? Not quite. Recommended by Amni, 21 • How much she spent: Approx. $1500 for 2 weeks (incl. accommodation, airfare, etc.) • Where else she’s been: Bangkok, Thailand; Kuala Lumpur, Port Dickson, Malacca, Langkawi, Penang, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia; Hong Kong A small town located in East Java of Indonesia, Bondowoso is known for its stunning mountain, volcano and waterfall views, perfect for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. Being surrounded by the panoramic views of mountains, the sleepy atmosphere of the slowly developing town and the relaxed lives of the people, Amni could not bear to leave. Compared to the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Singapore, Indonesia is the perfect place to wind down and keep in touch with nature.
Travel Bondowoso. credits: Amni
The illusion of overpriced JAPAN Weekend getaway? Go HONG KONG Recommended by Lemuel, 24 • How much he spent: Approx. $1800 for 2 weeks (incl. accommodation, airfare, etc.) • Where else he’s been: South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Malaysia Lucky Lemuel spent two weeks traveling around Japan, visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hakone. And he tells us that Japan isn’t necessarily expensive—only if you plan your schedule and budget right. “Food can be slightly expensive but you save by staying smart,” he says. One way he saved on accommodation was by taking overnight coaches and trains or staying in hostels (he recommends checking out hostelworld. com). As Japan’s public transport is reliable, it’s easy to travel without getting lost or forking out a handsome sum for cab fares. While initially worried about the language barrier, Lemuel assures us that Japan can be a convenient place to vacation as long as you do your research of where you want to go. Because of its well-connected public transport system, it is almost impossible to get lost, especially if you have addresses and locations written down, in which case locals can help you with. Apart from that, there’s “food everywhere” and sights aplenty to behold! What’s more perfect?
Recommended by Dawn, 21 • How much she spent: Approx. $800 for 5 days (incl. accommodation, transport, attractions, etc.) • Where else she’s been: Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, China, Korea, Japan, Spain, Portugal, USA Take the four-hour flight over to Hong Kong, where you can indulge in some therapeutic comfort eating and walk it off as you explore its streets and nightlife. As Dawn puts it, “In Hong Kong, just eat and walk around.” So for us students on a tight budget and time, Hong Kong is an ideal travel location. Just like Japan it is important to note that majority of its population speak Cantonese, Mandarin and a smattering of English, so a Chinese friend would be highly useful right about now, otherwise make sure to write down addresses in Chinese for locals to help you along. Dawn also advises not to bother with souvenir trinkets in tourist spots, as they are usually overpriced—unless you’re highly adept at haggling. Pickpocketing is also common, so remember to keep watch over your belongings, especially when on public transport.
Travel Tips • • • •
Prepare for your trip way in advance by planning your routes and budget. You’re only there for a limited time, so don’t waste it! Keep up with airfare and accommodation prices, because there are certain periods that are cheaper than others (e.g. school holidays are peak periods) While traveling regionally can be relatively cheaper than traveling out of it, be mindful that many a time locals know that you’re a tourist and will push up prices Don’t stick to the usual tourist spots but look out for adventure. One way is to hire a personal tour guide (ask your hotel) who can show you around – especially useful when visiting smaller towns • Try going where you have local friends or relatives living. This way you can possibly crash at their place, and if not, at least you have someone to show you around! • Traveling with three to four friends is a good idea, especially when visiting unfamiliar places. Not only is it safer, you can eat more! Think dim sum style.
To Europe, With Love Rea Bhalla
fell in love with Europe for the second time this summer.
Amsterdam amused me. It is the most relaxed place I have been to yet. People walk about cheerfully, as if they don’t have a care in the world. You see all sorts of people: beautiful women; well dressed and smart looking young guys eating fast food on sidewalk corners, looking at girls and pretending not to, smoking joints like they were born doing it. You see elegant canals, the endearing bakeries and eateries all mixed in so well with the appealing coffee shops, the designer shops so enticing and charming at the same time. The Red Light District is, I think, fascinating for most people. It is a beguiling, seductive little street, fosters no false pretenses and is severely honest. Stunning women beckon you from glass windows, their smiles and exquisite bodies making it hard for the men to look away from such temptation. There are young men, cajoled into going in and spending their money. You see men who are yearning to go in, but who never really
will. There are tourists, all happy with sheepish yet satisfied grins on their faces. They have after all, come to Amsterdam. What else is there? Eindhoven in comparison is a much more tranquil place. It is beautiful in its own right, with pretty streets and young trees. This is where the children play in parks, and people take walks just to feel the cold on their faces. Rome is quite simply magnificent. While I found Paris to be more elegant and chic, Rome is more exuberant. Everywhere you look there is art. Every street corner, every trattoria is filled with life and animation. The Italians are naturally dynamic, high-spirited people. They talk with their hands and always seem to be eating or drinking or just relaxing. They stroll casually down the delightful streets, and to them, being surrounded by such immense beauty is normal. For an outsider like me, everything and everyone makes you gaze in astonishment. The streets are quaint and charming; the cobbled stones warm and faded to
perfection under the hot summer sun. Rome is crowded in the summer months. Tourists and locals have the streets bustling with activity. There are cafés and trattorias and bars everywhere you go; it seems every meal is a celebration. The Italians are friendly people, with a smile and plate of food always ready for whoever may walk in. It is impossible to walk away without a stomach full of good food, wine and dessert. The Trevi fountain is concealed among a few streets, filled with people selling roses to couples. There is magic in the air here. The fountain itself doesn’t seem all that impressive until you observe it closely. It is in itself a beautiful work of art, with carvings out of stone so elaborate and intricate that you wonder how people created it so long ago. People in love surround you, holding hands, kissing each other and taking a million pictures. So many women are gripping roses they have been given by their loved ones and seeing so much romance in the air, holding your own precious rose, makes you fall in love with everything and everyone around you even more. So you
do the cliched thing and go and throw a coin in the fountain like everyone else, with a silly smile on your face and love in your eyes. Venice is spectacular. The tiny cobbled streets, with the vibrant, Lilliputian shops are beautiful. Vendors sell the brilliant, multi-coloured masks so affiliated with Venice; the shops selling delicious Gelato ice cream, and beautiful black and white parasols decorating the street corners. Go on a gondola ride and see the city that looks so breathtaking on canvas. Glide slowly over the water, with your eyes wide open, intently gazing at everything. You see the muted lights of the pubs and the window boxes of trattorias spilling vividly coloured flowers out over the water, and hear faint notes of music in the distance. There are couples floating by in their gondolas and one of them yells at you, “Venice in love!” – you laugh elatedly and feel like you never want to leave this paradise. You vow to yourself that you will be back.
Fat-Shaming Fast Fashion: The Perils of Consuming Clothes You Will Never Wear Again choi yik heng
here is a problem. If we consider the likes of Forever 21 and H&M to McDonalds, the cheap swags of fabric and its third-world sweat that we consume hastily to every print of the season are the trans fats of every McChicken meal that never decomposes. Our consumption of fast fashion is thoroughly constipated in our method of disposal - dumping our fashion waste in the Third World. Putting aside problems of social inequality and problematics of affordable fashion for the masses, we have gotten obese in our consumption of fast fashion. While fat-shaming is in essence intolerable and bigoted, fat-shaming ourselves for participating in the bigoted buffet of filthy consumerism and the fashion industry for propagating obese sartorial appetites should be considered ironic, and very pertinent right? Maybe. I must admit that I am prone to cheap deals and have be en - and still am - a loyal subject of Topshop and Zara. The road to refusing patronage at Forever 21 (F21) and H&M has not been easy, but I seem most unable to severe bonds with “blogshop clothing”, in other words, cheap trendled garments from Bangkok and China. As I am writing this, there are windows of ASOS open on my browser because I just need a frill-hemmed jersey skirt in deep emerald. This is a problem of solipsism because such consumption of fashion is centered on instant gratification. The kind of autonomy we think we possess in the ability to choose (“mix and match”) only fuels the capitalist machine further. Fast fashion conglomerates manufacture desires to masquerade as authentic expressions of selfhood when they are in reality part of the great money-
making scheme. Modern capitalism has founded its lure based on excessive choice. As one always feel when entering F21 - there is just too much to choose from, the racks too high to peruse, the T-shirts and jeans stacked in piles and heaps! Furthermore, the tyranny of the “free-size” is just a sure-fix way to manufacturing fast, as if body shapes follow some sort of “natural” system of S-M-L. In today’s society, there is no dress code beyond a general moral consensus on eventappropriateness; every thing is (marketed as being) for the masses now. They tell us fashion is ours now! But what exactly do we put into consideration in all these “sartorial” choices we make?
at 70% off is too good a deal to miss, as with how a $6 pair of shoes or $1 scarf at Primark (UK’s cheapest fast fashion outlet that resembles Carrefour more than a fashion store) is too cheap not to buy. These are “ridiculously good bargains” one must possess, and not hesitate before someone else owns it (or the store moves on to another season of trend-led “must-haves” aka Zara). Hence we don’t buy fashion out of a need, or even out of vanity or art; our consumption is led by an irrational urge to possess. Every time I look at my wardrobe I am reminded of an article of (usually translucent) synthetic fabric that I thought was a “must-have”, but “mint is so pass” now. Apparently the colours of this season are hemlock and cayenne [Ed’s Note: For normal people, hemlock is a sort of green, and cayenne is a sort of orange].
BODY POLITICS Clothing the body is more so than ever an act of consumption, amplified by our voracious appetite for objects, obliterating the utilitarian function of clothing. One could argue that high fashion operates on a similar vein of consumerist materialism and self-absorption, but while fast fashion sells “looks”, high fashion sells style - an attitude beyond the mere aesthetics to a philosophy of consideration and moderation. No matter how much we are enslaved to the ideology of fast fashion, I would like to think that we have autonomy in differentiating between what we need and what they want us to want.
ETHICS OF FASHION My hands are stained with carbon footprints in the forms of tribal prints, metallic leggings and variations of Mary Janes – all no longer trendy and hence chucked aside after a few wears. If I extend the eating metaphor to consuming frivolous fashion needlessly, I devour conquest after conquest out of hunger - but this is a socially constructed yearning. Is my wearing even considered eating then if we consume so mindlessly?
Nonetheless, the way we buy fashion, luxury and fast, is rather primitive too. Not just in fast fashion but during massive sales like Black Friday and Expo sales, the warehouse becomes a safari of women grabbing every “last piece” they can get their hands on - no matter how dubious in style, it is still YSL. The logic is that a Prada handbag
Every now and then the consumer of fast fashion attacks her wardrobe with the assiduity typically reserved for the fridge. With growing affluence and choices, we now look at clothes with literal expiration dates when we throw them away. Basic standards in fabrics, trimmings and manufacturing are perceived to have declined because every
are perceived to have declined because every perfect wardrobe for every season is built to be replaceable. In other words, fast fashion creates clothing to be disposed of. We are knee deep in piles of discarded fabrics but still starving because we have eaten nothing substantial. We are never full, as we do not experience sensations of fullness with the residues of our consumption all chucked away in third-world nations. Must we resort to seeing our own trash to realise the gravity of the situation? “Don’t let the carrot fool you, no matter how delicious it may be!” Fast fashion thrills, but is it worth hanger space? Most blogshops in Singapore acquire their trend-led clothes from Thailand and China. These articles of clothing are usually of poor quality and very thin, which makes the sheer trend a blessing for those Thai vendors and high street chains. I, and many other girls, patron aforementioned blogshops (and Far East Plaza) frequently so... I understand completely the difficulties of changing such a lifestyle habit. Style does not happen overnight and what fast fashion does is dangle a quick solution in a carrot. But being on trend does not give you style. What is truly irreplaceable is style.
HOW CAN I BUY DIFFERENTLY? Dressing up means re-thinking how we perceive fashion. Style is all about consciousness. We all know junk food is unhealthy but that consideration is not given to how we discern clothing. Buy fashion, not groceries. Don’t buy because you are hungry - out of an urge or a primitive attraction, but rationalize your consumption as a utility. The way to not over-eat is to think of fashion in what you don’t buy rather than what you buy. Regulate your wardrobe and go against the mechanics of fast fashion - buy slower. It is almost silly to have to remind ourselves to be active consumers, but it is true. Lucy Siegle calls for us to take charge of our consumption by taking note of clothing labels, she expands on this with her satirical “Truth Labels”- ‘I am a sequined party top. Each sequin was hand-sewn onto me by a twelve-year-old girl’.
STYLE-SUFFICIENT Fashion is a philosophy. The idea is not to box fashion into a supermarket aisle. As solipsistic as we are, when it comes to sartorial decisions we strikingly lack autonomy. Besides taking charge of how you buy, take charge of your style. Be self-sufficient, active
consumers and not what every “Hot List” tells you to be. Instead of a seeking an elusive “perfect” wardrobe filled with clothes of short-term appeal and dubious provenance, the solution could lie in more considered, trans-seasonal rather than trend-led, pieces that reflect not just our sartorial taste but also socio-political & environmental values. While we seem to be perfectly clear about the kinds of social identities we undertake when we consume fashion, we are oblivious to the effect our participation in the supply line has on those upstream. Furthermore, it is not just the waste consumers discard, but the waste producers discard in their design process: heaps of fabrics are dumped during the cutting process and when there is overstock. Clothes will always have footprints in one way or another, but dumping them is still an irresponsible act.
SMART ECO Ultimately, not all street fashion can afford to be both eco-friendly and ethical, and there is no sure-fire way to make fast consumerism fair or sustainable. So be alert to meaningless greenwash and how you donate. Only donate to trustworthy charities that have legitimate waste management and sorting practices such that donations get to third-world countries respectfully and remain as donations. Second-hand and “vintage” flea markets in Singapore still work on economic transactions. While *SCAPE flea no longer allows “pre-loved” items, barter in the form of clothing swaps are a greater antidote to overconsuming fashion and contributing to the trade.
PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR WARDROBE IS? While eco is expensive, its quality shows. We should also be reminded of how prices of fast fashion can even get so low - cheap labour. But style is not snobbery, and eco is not “premium”; premium is just a marketing tactic. Also, green clothing is not merely an ethical movement. How does capitalism and eco-friendly even co-exist? How do you make beautiful and fashionable green clothing? In their defense, I’ll like to point out that Ada Zandition is a renowned couturier that uses biomimicry to create beautiful architectural garments. Sure it is expensive, but if its cost more or less matches its selling price, is it still expensive? The kinds of care that goes into producing these ethically and environmentally conscious garments are definitely not on the agenda of companies like Primark.
But before we get too high on the crusading horse of sustainable fashion - even if we attempt to hold off cheap and fast fashion by spending on expensive luxury items, high fashion participates in fast luxury as well, like the “It” bag or must-have shoe (guilty as charged) of various fashion houses. For example, the Celine luggage tote has finally taken its last bow but the Valentino Rockstud slingbacks are still here to stay. As many young female bloggers in Singapore do, they are decked head to toe in blogshop clothing but tote Lady Diors or Chanel Boys. How do we negotiate this? Are there any high street brands that have eco lines? ASOS and H&M have eco labels; American Apparel prides itself on being absolutely sweatshop-free and organic lingerie actually exists! Homegrown label, Zhai, is also part of the growing eco-chic movement producing bamboo clothing. Stella McCartney is renowned for her vegan fashion and Edun has received high praise this spring for finally matching fashion with ethics. Whether you believe in eco-fashion or not, there are an increasing number of options available. The rest is up to you.
-Solipsism is the view that the self is all that can be known to exist. Mary Janes refer to a closed, rounded-toe shoe with a strap. Assiduity: constant and close attention. Lucy Siegle is a British journalist and writer on environmental issues. Provenance: origin.
REVIEW: WORKING TITLE
credits: Sharifah Nursyafiqah SHARIFAH NURSYAFIQAH
he newest addition to Singapore’s growing local café scene is the Working Title, a quaint place located along bustling Arab Street. Owned by the same minds behind Shophouse The Social Hostel, the café occupies the hostel’s first floor and is an extension of NUS alumnus Calvin Seah’s and Mustaffa Kamal’s aspirations of creating a “chill-out spot” for locals and foreigners alike. The name Working Title, while reminiscent of a Damien Jurado song of the same name, was quirkily born of the inability to come up with a suitable term for the joint. The uncharacteristic dimness of the cozy café took some getting used to – so used we were to bright indoor lights. Once inside though, we were caught up in the idiosyncratic charm of the place. The café is decorated with a curious mix of crates, boxes and gunnysacks adorning ceiling overhangs. Endearingly mismatched furniture make up in appealing aesthetics what they may lack in comfort. Calvin talks about how some tables were fashioned from old wooden pallets, sanded and varnished and subsequently
put to use, lending to Working Title’s palpable allure. The café extends into an open courtyard area to the back of the building, which features a projector for movie screenings, and more seating areas that would be a prime spot for balmy summer nights (though less so for the sticky heat of summer afternoons). Working Title features all the good stuff from the bursting local confectionary scene – their display case stocked daily with slices of Windowsill pies, a selection of cupcakes from Fluff bakery, and adorable mason-jar cake creations by Little House of Dreams. A diverse mix of craft beers, ales and ciders fill a rack in the café, looking almost decorative with their startlingly colourful labels. Working Title offers an impressive range of drinks, from Japanese craft beers to the popular Brother’s Toffee Apple, in exclusively limited quantities. The menu features familiar comfort food options, ranging from pizzas and sandwiches to soups and snacks. The
margherita pizza was pretty spectacular – at $4 for a generous slice, it creates a winning combination of humble ingredients; fresh tomatoes, herbs, mozzarella cheese, on a thick crust of good dough. They have just one burger on the menu – an All-American classic – in line with keeping the food simple, stripped down, and good, at competitive prices (“We make sure this is something we would pay for ourselves.”) Rich Dutch Colony coffee, and a tea selection brimming with names like Moroccan Mint Green Tea, or Rose with French Vanilla, cap off the menu. True to its name, the Working Title is a working project. The owners are still learning, constantly adapting and crafting a right fit for the place, in a market that appears nearly saturated with eclectic cafes and kitschy dreams. Opened in mid-August, this café is in its infant stages of carving a unique name for itself in the niche scene of local food and craft beverages. Yet, as is, Working Title is a wonderful place for a cozy afternoon, listening to hushed sounds of
conversation and occasional light clinking of glasses behind the counter, idly observing people drawn in from the warm streets or tourists from the Shophouse hostel. The café aligns seamlessly with the interests of young crowds today, ever looking for a new place to sit back with cupcakes and coffee, power points and stable Wi-Fi. We can never get enough of places that provide a welcome reprieve from the rushes of living a typical Singaporean lifestyle, and Working Title is one of such places – here you can have your cake, and eat it too.
Working Title opens daily and is located at 48 Arab Street, with NUS students receiving 10% discount upon showing their matriculation cards.
Style, Snap, Post They are no models or celebrities - at least not in the conventional definition. Yet they've garnered the coveted attention of magazine editors, designers and fashion photographers. This month, we introduce you to three style bloggers, each with very distinctive styles, all sartorially documented on their highly-read blogs. Candice Chua
| www.love-aesthetics.blogspot.com | @love_aesthetics WHO: Wow, that’s a whole lot of white. For first-time readers to Ivania Carpio’s blog, the aforementioned statement will undoubtedly be the first thing that comes to mind. The 25-year-old blogger’s commitment to minimalism – most notably the colour white – is so steadfast, it’s almost religious. Hailing from the Netherlands, Carpio’s minimalistic approach to style and interior design is fresh and inspiring – she’s her own brand of cool, there’s no other way to describe it. WHY WE LOVE HER: She makes wearing white look so unbelievably cool, we can’t help stocking up on minimalistic white pieces ourselves. Carpio is also a DIY wunderkind, fashioning sartorially amazing things out of everyday bits and bobs and plain clothing. Pipe connectors for rings, a discarded table leg as a clothing rack, a clutch from two pieces of fabric and a bull-dog clip – be prepared to be inspired by her originality and creativity.
LEANDRA MEDINE | www.manrepeller.com | @manrepeller WHO: She’s known around the fashion world as the Man Repeller, a term she coined (and trademarked) to describe individuals who outfit themselves in trends women love but men hate. Simply put, it’s all about dressing for yourself – sort of like a feminist approach to fashion. We’re talking along the lines of drop-crotch pants, towering platform boots, offensively high-waisted shorts and an excessive amount of statement jewellery. Medine is also a gifted writer (she recently launched a book of fashion-related essays) with a great sense of humour, writing on all things related to fashion, entertainment and lifestyle – a feature that sets her apart from regular style bloggers. WHY WE LOVE HER: Medine’s charm is that she doesn’t take fashion (or herself) too seriously – she knows how to have fun with fashion while staying true to her moniker and the industry loves her for it. What results is a style that is personal, unexpected and iconic. Her amusing opinions on issues related to fashion, women and pop culture are also highly entertaining – we guarantee you’ll be laughing out loud at some point while reading her blog.
MARGARET ZHANG | www.shinebythree.com | @margaret__zhang WHO: We have to admit that we’re teensy-bit envious of Margaret Zhang – the girl’s got the whole package. The oriental beauty is among the crème de la crème of Aussie style bloggers, a talented photographer, a stylist and a contributing writer to Harper’s Bazaar Australia – all that while pursuing a Bachelor in Commerce and Law at the University of Sydney! WHY WE LOVE HER: Zhang has great style and she documents them in stunning visuals. Forget #OOTDs on white walls, Zhang’s outfits and images are almost editorial ready without trying too hard. We love how her style isn’t easily defined to one type – it’s sometimes sporty, sometimes glamorous, sometimes girly, sometimes edgy – but always very chic. She’s in a blue sequinned Ae’lkemi gown one day (taken on a balcony in Paris, no less) and an oversized leather jacket and baggy thigh-high leather boots the next. We also love her travel diaries, which are filled with beautiful visuals of her escapades, from the vast beaches of Bali to the romantic alleys of Paris.
Being Vegetarian on Campus DILLY’S
YONG TAU FU
re you a vegetarian, or intending to become one? For whatever various reasons you may have decided to withhold meat in your diet, while still consuming animal products such as eggs, milk and honey, you fall under the broad definition of being a vegetarian in the Longman Dictionary of English. Before I go on, I have to put down a few points, which I believe, deter vegetarians or veggies-wannabes from getting their food in school. Perhaps it is the lack of convenience: at every canteen, every other stall sells meat blatantly like their sales depend on it solely, otherwise, animal flesh is sneakily hidden in the dish, that it is almost too troublesome to go through with the queue and have to enquire if it is veggie suitable. There may be this belief that vegetarian food, or any food without a source of meat isn’t as tasty, let alone nutritious enough. I am going to try and debunk these myths, with several suggestions below. If you are eating at the Science canteen, there is pre-packed vegetarian food at Dilly’s. Situated at the bottom deck, one can avoid being marinated in cooking smells from other vendors when
purchasing lunch from Dilly’s. The stall sells a variety of other pastries and kuehs, most of which are veggie-friendly. What’s more, the pre-packed vegetarian food is a bargain; with bee-hoon or rice, along with three other side dishes of mock meat and vegetables going for $2.20. Nutrients-wise, I am inclined to believe it is sufficient, because it fulfills the Health Promotion Board food pyramid’s recommendations in terms of fiber, protein and carbohydrates. A stone’s throw away is Subway, which has two other branches across NUS: U-town and Yusof Ishak House. There are two subs of choice for vegetarians at Subway: Veggie Delite and Veggie Patty. Ardent Subway fans will know that there are six choices of breads/wrap and an awesome pick of vegetables to include in your sandwich. Subway’s verdict in terms of nutritional values reveals that Veggie Delite has the lowest amount of sodium and fat, yet similar amount of protein and the highest amount of dietary fiber as compared with other subs. Yummy? You bet – sometimes I cannot even remember that I am a vegetarian when I am having the Veggie Patty sub.
The vegetarian food stall at The Deck also serves a wonderful spread of veggie fare. From the different styles of cooking vegetables to the array of mock meats, mock fish, lamb curries, and even sweet and sour mock meat. Veggies like myself can enter a choice paralysis when picking items to go along with my carbs (either brown or white rice, bee hoon or kway teow). One does not necessarily have to be confined to vegetarian food stalls either. Almost every canteen in NUS boasts a yong tau fu stall that sells both meat and vegetable items where customers are free to mix and match items they would like to eat. I always get the white cabbage, kang kong, cai sim, lady’s finger, tou fu, tau kwa, seaweed and an egg when I buy yong tau fu. Veggie meals can be just as complete as the non-veggie options, sometimes even healthier! (Just a word of caution though; some yong tau fu stalls have shrimp in their chili sauce so check with the vendor before dressing your meal!) To my knowledge, the Indian food stall at Food Enclave just at the basement of the National University Hospital serves one of the best vegetarian spreads on campus. Being a Southeast Asian (SEA) who has been born and bred here, and
will choose a good old prata over the Chinese dishes I have been brought up with, I am inclined to assume Indian cuisine is just as palatable to other nonIndian SEA Asians too. Just the other day, I succumbed to my cravings by ordering a potato masala, an omelet with green chili and onion, chopped long beans stir fried with curry powder and other herbs, as well as a hard-boiled egg doused in pepper sauce. Needless to say, I was stuffed, but immensely satisfied. The varieties of vegetarian gourmet available here on campus certainly do not limit my food choices. While this short piece does not intend to convert meat lovers into disgruntled shrub-guzzling eaters, I do hope to ease fellow vegetarians and veggie wannabes into eating on campus. Do keep in mind that there are always dining options for you (if you know where to look) and that there can be immense mental satisfaction from the continual abstinence of meat you have decided upon. -Veggie: an informal word for vegetarian.
Ru n f o r H o p e 2 0 1 3
2013 Infinite 1st World Tour DATE/TIME:17 NOVEMBER 2013, 7:00AM VENUE: THE PROMONTORY @ MARINA BAY ADMISSION: SIGN UP AT WWW.RUNFORHOPE.SG un for Hope is a charity run organised in support of cancer research in Singapore. Proceeds from the run will go to the National Cancer Centre of Singapore. Last year, Run For Hope had 10,000 participants running in the hope of finding a cure for cancer one day. This year, we’re aiming for 15,000! This 3.5/10k event is non-competitive, so invite your loved ones, young and old, to run united in this common cause!
R DATE/TIME: 5 OCTOBER 2013/ 7:00PM VENUE: SINGAPORE INDOOR STADIUM ADMISSION: TICKETS AVAILABLE AT SISTIC RANGING FROM $138 - $268 or K-Pop fanatics, this is your chance to catch Infinite in action! In their first world tour, K-Pop group megastar will groove to the sounds of No. 1 hits such as ‘Paradise’ and ‘The Chaser’, which won them Billboard.com’s ‘K-POP Song of the Year in 2012’. What are you waiting for? Grab your tickets now and be captivated by their charm and showmanship! This is the time to be overlyenthusiastic K-Pop fanatics (and we promise we won’t judge)!
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHT: THREE VENGEFUL SISTERS
F I D É FAS H I O N W E E K 2 0 1 3
DATE/TIME: EVERY FRI-SAT OF OCT 2013/ 7:00PM – 1:00AM VENUE: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, SINGAPORE ADMISSION: TICKETS AVAILABLE AT RWS WEBSITE AT $68 ot for the faint-hearted! Get your dose of Halloween scares and confront your deepest fears with this third installment of Halloween Horror Nights, brought to you by Resorts World Sentosa. This year, three vengeful sisters have devised an evil plan to haunt unsuspecting victims. Be well aware of what you are getting into but we highly recommend it!
ONE REPUBLIC @ HARD ROCK COLISEUM, SENTOSA
DATE/TIME: 9-19 OCTOBER 2013/ 6:00PM VENUE: MARINA BAY SANDS CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE–HALL F ADMISSION: TICKETS AVAILABLE AT MARINA BAY SANDS TICKETING WEBSITE FROM S$19 ot enough fashion airtime in school? Flaunt your best outfit for the night, and rub shoulders with who’s-who in fashion, at FIDé Fashion Week 2013. Singapore, being only the third city, after fashion capitals such as Paris and Milan, to host FIDé Fashion Week, will promise to bring a plethora of cuttingedge designs from the big names in fashion. Grab your tickets now, to get inspirations for your wardrobe and who knows, with this newfound fashion experience, you could possibly get the attention of that alluring eye-candy of yours. Now there’s no need for NUS Confessions is there?
DATE/TIME: 29 OCTOBER 2013/ 8:00PM VENUE: HARD ROCK COLISEUM, SENTOSA ADMISSION: TICKETS AVAILABLE AT SISTIC RANGING FROM $108 - $128 he chart-topping band, One Republic is coming to Singapore for a One Night Only Performance! The Band who first made their mark with their hit ‘Apologize’ is taking the world by storm, with hits like ‘Stop and Stare’ and ‘Secrets’ reaching number one in 16 countries. Don’t miss this chance to catch them Live at the Hard Rock Coliseum, Sentosa!
APPS FOR THE BUDGET STUDENT LESTER HIO
ollege life can be rough, and pinching corners when it comes to budgeting is to be expected. After all, the ‘poor college kid’ archetype has to come from somewhere, right? Juggling a part-time job and school means that whatever cash you earn should go to where it matters. Thankfully, technology is here to help - here are some apps for the budget-minded student that won’t bust the bank.
FI N A N CE/B U D G ET A PPS In order to properly manage a budget, you need a personal finance tool. Android apps like Expense Manager (free) and My Budget Book (S$3.99) offer you the ability to track expenses on the go. For a fuss-free, expense-tracking software that’s quick to load and a breeze to use, Expense Manager is your go-to tool that’s minimalist, handy and just a pleasure to use.
For the more budget-fussy person, My Budget Book offers you a wealth of tools, such as adding budget categories and subcategories, customized templates, and detailed, graphical overviews of your expenses. You get what you pay for, although Expense Manager is also great at what it does, and it’s free.
For iOS folks, check out Pocket Expense Personal Finance (free) and BUDGT (S$1.28).Pocket Expense lets you track expenses, and even allows you to record paid and unpaid bills (such as your handphone bill, hint hint). It provides a monthly record of expenses and income, and also automatically sums the difference up.
BUDGT does the same job in tracking income and expenses, but it does so with such a beautiful, minimalist interface that tracking expenses becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. It’s easy to glance at the graphical data to get a good sense of your expenses for the day or month.
CAROUSELL (ANDROID, iOS, FREE)
DEAL APPS GROUPON (ANDROID,iOS,FREE) Qoo10SG (ANDROID, iOS, FREE)
Why pay retail when you can get potentially insane discounts? Groupon needs no introduction – if enough people support a deal, it goes through and buyers get vouchers for goods and services at rather good deals. The app notifies you of each day’s daily deals, and so you can be sure that you’ll never miss on a good budget deal.
The same goes for the Qoo10 SG app: things often do go on sale, and there are special discounts and deals to be had every day. Mobile users also get special deals and discount coupons if they make an order through the app. Sure, the app and website could do with a little less clutter, but as long as you get your
The free apps mentioned here do their job, and do them well, so the paid alternatives are really just a personal preference. If you’re a student on a budget, you probably aren’t wading around in cash. Instead of tightening your budget, why not try making some extra cash? Carousell is an app that claims you can “snap, list, sell” within 30 seconds (well, maybe only the snap and list parts) any pre-owned, second-hand, or vintage stuff that you might like to trade for cash.
For the student on a budget, a good way to use the app would be to sell off the textbooks, books, or even readings and notes that you would no doubt accumulate during your university years. For the budding artist or craftsman, you might be able to use this local version of popular craft site Etsy to display and sell your wares.
Carousell is a breeze to use, and its snap-and-list function works intuitively well. Just make sure you snap a nice photo to entice buyers! You can also use its share function to spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, and even the Straits Times Classifieds. credits:: Groupon.com
The Beng Behind NUSMods
Exactly. NUSMods certainly solved that problem. It’s so easy to add and delete modules. All you have to do is type in the module code and it autocompletes for you! Thanks :) NUSMods was built upon the NUSMods API, which pulls data from IVLE and CORS. In fact, the data is refreshed every two hours, so whatever module information you see is definitely up-to-date. I take data integrity on this application very seriously. After all, if my information is outdated, someone could end up in the wrong lecture theatre, or worst, show up at the wrong time for their final exam.
Samantha Wong & Lim Wei Di
Every school term begins with a nerve-racking headache that comes in the form of CORS. Which modules to choose? How much to bid for a module? Which tutorial group to sign up for? Fortunately, NUSMods is here to save the day. Our favourite unofficial timetable builder has everything you need for module-planning on a neat and chic platform. The Wired team at The Ridge met up with the man behind NUSMods, fourth year Computer Science major Eu Beng Hee, more commonly known as “Beng”. He shares with us the story behind NUSMods and other plans he has in the pipeline.
: The ridge
We appreciate that. Do you have any data on how many people are using your site? Last month (July/August), the site recorded 50,000 unique visitors and 450,000 accesses. That’s about 9 visits per user. Did you ever plan for the site to get this big? Errr..no. I guess it got spread through word of mouth. NUSMods is the second hit after the official CORS timetable builder when you search ‘nus timetable builder’ on Google.
Hi there! Introduce yourself. Wow, really? I didn’t know that. I’m Beng, a Year 4 Computer Science major, specializing in Artificial Intelligence. Any plans to monetize it? Do you consider yourself a top student? No.
Haha! Not quite. But I’ve had several offers to offer a similar service for other universities, such as NTU, and some exchange students even requested that I do the same thing for their home universities in the United States.
Why not? For anyone who is looking to make a hit application, what is your advice to them? I’m definitely not at the top of my class in terms of grades.
Well, there is a sweet spot in the work-result curve where for very little work you can attain relatively good grades, say a B+ to A-; whilst to jump over to the A range, you have to put in a great deal more effort. I aim for the sweet spot, and I’m quite happy there.
Well, firstly, find something that you need. When your application is something that you need, or would want to use, chances are it’s going to be something other people want to use as well. And then you just have to find the time to work on it. I only really started working on NUSMods during the June holidays of 2012, one semester after it was conceptualized, but I did work on it off and on during the school term, whenever I got the chance. Any technological barriers for the non-tech savvy?
At the same time, this philosophy/style/work-life balance gives me a lot more time to do other stuff that I want to do.
Well, a lot of stuff comes from practice, googling and learning along the way. As long as you are willing to try.
But you can’t be doing that badly.
Are you working on anything else currently? Other stuff such as NUSMods? Yea. NUSMods was conceptualized in January 2012 during the December holidays, when I was really bored. At that time CORS had its own timetable builder, but I think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t really easy to use. Agreed. It’s hard to add and delete classes since you have to go back and forth the “Add” page. When you go back to the “Add” page, it refreshes and you have to add every class all over again.
Aside from my CS3216 project, which is a Facebook (FB) tab to make searching on online shopping on FB forums easier; I’m also working on an app, on request by the IVLE people, that automatically updates your Dropbox with new IVLE files. It isn’t released yet, but you’ll hear about it when it is. Sounds cool. Thank you for sharing so much with us. No worries, my pleasure.
LIKE CLoCKWORK Lim Wei Di
credits : clockworks.sg
lockWorks is a social collaborative platform that links people requiring help in nitty gritty tasks and people with time on their hands looking to earn a quick buck.
Our initial target has been to build a large user base, and our current business model emphasizes the same, allowing individual users to sign up for free and post work with zero commission.
Made of up six NUS students from different faculties and backgrounds, ClockWorks was borne out of a desire to make life easier for people.
In the first month of our launch itself, we had an overwhelming response following our intensive Facebook Curiosity campaign. We hit a striking 200 sign-ups in the first month alone, which is increasing constantly every day with around 400 sign-up as of now and that too with zero marketing investment. We have successfully finished more than 20 Works posted by our users. We have had monetary transactions of more than 800 SGD through our website.
The team behind ClockWorks shares the story behind their startup and their future plans. What was the motivation to startup? As it is often said, the best ideas/ inventions are either born out of necessity or the human tendency to be lazy. We are, in general, a lazy bunch of people who always said “wish there was someone to do this for me”. At the same time, as students, we also had many “I need some money!” moments and couldn’t find many avenues to make an extra buck. It was then that we realized that we could solve both these problems with a single solution. The vision and dream of having a service of this kind to add value to people’s lives spurred us on to act upon the idea and turn it into a reality. How has the business grown since its inception?
What have your biggest challenges been? All start-ups have some trouble during infancy. Ours is no different. For one, considering what our start-up is all about, the true power of our product will only be realizable when it is adopted by a large number of users. Large-scale user acceptance then becomes a key objective to strive for. Many users are skeptical about outsourcing to fellow Singaporeans. We feel we still need to invest some effort in getting users to open up to the idea of easily available community help.
And of course, like any other start-up we too have a few competitors trying to penetrate the market. Our challenge here is to compete healthily and jointly create a demand for this product while simultaneously maintaining a sizable market share. What is ClockWork's vision? We envision ClockWorks to be the one-stop shop to make the most of your time - be it as a ClockWorker or as a Work poster. And to do so, we plan to play on our simple yet striking brand culture and creativity. What are ClockWork's plans for the future? We are currently developing an iOS and an Android app. We also aim to maximize profits without compromising on the growth of our user base. We plan to achieve this by introducing a Freemium business model. Users can pay a monthly fee for premium membership, for whom we would take extra precautions and effort to ensure both high quality and timeliness in work completion. We are also currently exploring other possible avenues to generate income, such as affiliate programs, advertisements (on our website and app),
as well as tweaking the commission amounts, keeping in mind the satisfaction of returning users. What kind of funding and help have you guys received? Our model is designed to be non-capital intensive and hence we do not intend to start with a venture round anytime soon. Based on our current requirements, we are looking to increase our seed capital, which was invested by us through angels and grants. Singapore has a great startup ecosystem to encourage and boost entrepreneurship. We are lucky to be a part of this thriving atmosphere which allows us to tap onto a wealth of resources in the form of mentors, networks and office space to name a few. We would also like to thank the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre for all the support and encouragement they have provided us. Also, we have been fortunate to be a supporting partner for Echelon ’13, the largest tech conference of South East Asia. Our ClockWorkers were volunteers for the prestigious conference. Currently, we are partnering with an upcoming Singaporean Art Gallery for its logistical and manpower requirements.
Aftershock - Notebook Customization For Everyone BY Zhou Jiajia
am not a tech-guru, neither am I a gaming geek. All I wanted was a laptop that was fast enough for me to game casually – Final Fantasy XIV, once in a while – and Aftershock gave me exactly what I wanted.
Aftershock PC is an up and coming company that specialises in customising gaming notebooks. Don’t let its name intimidate you – it’s exactly what casual geeks like us need. Here’s my story. I initially wanted to replace my old notebook with the retina-display Macbook Pro, but I realised that it comes with a $2000 price tag with only 128GB of space. While I like how the flash drive allows for speedy booting up, I found its capacity
rather stifling. I started looking around for other brands but realized that I was running around in circles because I had no clear idea of the specs that I needed. Someone recommended Aftershock to me and I decided to just give it a try. Do you know what is an Intel i7 processor? NVIDIA GEFORCE 765M GTX 2GB DDR5 with Optimus Technology? 8GB RAM? IC Diamond Thermal Compound CPU + GPU? or SSD + HDD Hybrid Drive 500GB? Honestly, I barely had any idea. The good news is, there is no need for you to really know them.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS AN INTEL I7 PROCESSOR? NVIDIA GEFORCE 765M GTX 2GB DDR5 WITH OPTIMUS TECHNOLOGY? 8GB RAM? IC DIAMOND THERMAL COMPOUND CPU + GPU? OR SSD +
I made a trip down to Aftershock’s showroom in Serangoon and they basically told me everything I needed to know. I explained that I am not an avid
gamer but that I wanted a laptop that was capable of satiating my craving for games every so often. On top of that, I added that weight was one of my priorities
Customized illuminated keyboard
because the laptop was primarily going to be used for school. After they understood the kind of laptop that I wanted, they went through each and every specification, as well as every minute customisation with me, including the customisation of my back-light. I settled with their 13-inch laptop, XG13. At around 2 kg, itâ€™s about as heavy as the old 13-inch Macbook Pro.
Recall all the technical jargons that I listed? Those are the technical specifications of my current laptop. Also, remember that I mentioned the flash drive in the Macbook having limited space? Aftershock solved that problem for me by recommending a hybrid drive that strikes a balance between space and speed. Although I do not have a retina display screen, I can live with the 1920 x 1080 resolution on my 13-inch screen. The total cost? Around $2, 200.
WASD backlight. Photos courtesy of AftershockPC
One limitation with this gaming laptop is its short battery life. My laptop lasts for around three hours when I am doing basic word processing and surfing the net. This might not be enough for students who need their laptops to last through an entire day of lectures.
GAMER TIP AFTERSHOCK ALLOWS YOU TO CUSTOMIZE THE COLOUR OF THE BACKLIGHT OF YOUR WASD KEYS
Lost Planet 3
TRIPLE THREAT Yeo Jun Yan
efore the finals frenzy gets to you, take some time to check out the three newly-released shooting games we have rounded up for your study break. Available on the XBOX, PC and PS3, we have got you all covered (pun unintended).
Lost Planet 3 Despite its name, this is actually a prequel to the original Lost Planet. Gamers will take on the role of Jim Peyton - the family man who left Earth to work for the NEVEC to support his wife and child. The story will have Peyton fighting ugly looking insectand plant-like aliens throughout the game. Conversations with his wife are littered throughout the game to keep up with his family man image. The gameplay is similar to any other third-person shooter when playing as Peyton, with continuous shooting and occasional melee attacks and grenade throws. However, players also will
WIRED get to participate combat in a mining machine called the Rig. The best thing of the Rig might be its ability to grab aliens and squash it with its mechanic hand. This will cause the aliens’ orange blood to slash over the windscreen of the Rig. As a mining machine the functions are rather simple yet gruesome, akin to Jaegar from Pacific Rim. Players will need to collect T-ENG, the in-game currency to purchase weapons and upgrades.
Lost Planet 3 also features four team-based multiplayer modes. In ‘Scenario Mode’, teams of five are given objectives to complete. In ‘Akrid Survival’, two groups of three players are pitted against waves of aliens while fighting another group. The ‘Extraction Mode’ is similar to the game, Capture the Flag. Finally, ‘Team Deathmatch’ is a typical five-vs-five team battle for the highest number of kills.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified The best thing about the game is how the plot and characters interact with each other. The ability to fight aliens as a mech also enhances the game experience. On the other hand, combat out of the Rig might be uninteresting to some as the novelty is in battling aliens in a robot. The alien design is also not likeable in a sense that they make the game look like a horror survival game under the lighting than a fight against creatures on another planet. In addition, the loading time also takes quite a while. The latest installment in the rebooted XCOM series has America fighting aliens instead of the Soviets at the height of the Cold War in 1962. The protagonist, William Carter, would lead Team USA against the aliens after receiving special healing powers from an alien artifact. True to its storyline, the aliens even look like they are from the sixties - complete with skinny bodies and huge shiny foreheads.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
What is different from the previous game in the series, XCOM:
Enemy Unknown, is that this is a strategy third person shooter. The strategy part comes in at the ‘Battle Focus Mode’, which causes time to go ‘Matrix’, allowing players to order the two agents under them to use their special abilities. There are four different endings to this game. The fun thing about this is that you get to be the team leader and plan the kind
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist of attack you want. Besides your aiming skills, also crucial to the success of the mission is how you “flak” the enemy. However, the agents do not need to perform other tasks once they have fulfilled the ones given to them. Although they are effective at their specifically given tasks, they need to be controlled by the player constantly. Furthermore, it gets tiresome after giving the same orders again and again to the same two mindless agents. Fans of the series might also argue that this game is just a thirdperson shooter in XCOM clothing. Moreover, the game also fails to create a background story as a prequel to Enemy Unknown.
Players will reprise the role of Sam Fisher in this latest Splinter Cell instalment. This game will follow the story of Fisher against a group of terrorists known as The Engineers. They have initiated the Blacklist - a countdown that will see an attack every few days on a United States’ property. Like its predecessor, Conviction, players have to choose between going in stealthily like a ninja or just blasting their way through like Rambo. Players will get to activate ‘Execute’ after a silent kill that will see Fisher killing marked targets instantly. After every mission, players will get money to upgrade and customise
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
SEX AND VIOLENCE 58
NUS Inter-Faculty Games 2013 Yang Kaiyuan
his year, the highly anticipated Inter-Faculty Games (IFG) Men’s Basketball game began on the Saturday of Week Three, August 31st 2013. In the past few years, we have seen the dominance of two basketball powerhouses, the Faculty of Engineering (ENG) and the School of Business (BIZ). Since 2008, BIZ has made it into the top three six consecutive times, claiming the championship title in both 2008 and 2010. On the other hand, ENG, seemingly the title contender since the days of yore, won the 2011 championship by defeating the team from the University Scholars Programme (USP), and 2012’s with a win over BIZ. This year’s preliminary round took place
in the Sports & Recreation Centre’s (SRC) basketball court, on the morning of Week Three’s Saturday, under the scorching sun. The matches were scheduled between 9:30am to noon. But even before the first match started, most players were already sweating in the sweltering heat, and squinting to see through the sunshine. With no shelter for anyone except for the officials and time-keeping machines, it meant even the players who were on the bench were not spared from the burning heat and were unable to rest properly. Each match lasted 24 minutes long, broken into two 12-minute halves, and each team is able to call for one timeout per half, and limitless substitutions of players.
The first seed ENG and third seed School of Medicine’s (MED) match of Group A, and second seed BIZ and fourth seed Faculty of Law’s (LAW) match of Group B kicked started this year’s games. ENG did not change much with their priorities; because of ENG having players of bigger sizes, they focused on rebounding and defence. MED did not pose much threat to their competition, losing by 12-19. On another court, BIZ had smaller line-ups, but commanded a very deep bench. They emphasised passing of the ball and team communication, which they managed to pull off impressively especially given such a short training period. With several skilled point guards coordinating offense, their offense was a feast for the eyes. The ball was passed around the perimeter
while players made quick cuts and runs to split the defence or cut to the hoop. Not only that, they also had several good shooters. In the end, they scored the highest points in the Preliminary Round -- a whopping 36 points -- in the opening match to defeat LAW. School of Computing (SOC), School of Design & Environment (SDE), and MED of Group A were of similar competitive levels. All three faculties ran fairly decent defences, and their players were generally athletic. They did not have many players who can make plays, but what they lacked in skill they made up with stamina and effort. After the draw (yes, draw; IFG preliminary rounds have no overtime, so draws can occur) of credits : colourunity,com
The writer giving his all in the last match of Group B, between USP and LAW. credits : Chiow Si Min
12-12 between SDE and SOC, the penultimate game between SDE and MED proved to be crucial. In the end, SDE won and advanced to the next round. Faculty of Science (SCI) is perhaps seeing an all-time low this year. Losing all four games, they scored just 20 points in total. In the match against ENG, they only managed to obtain just one point. In another match against SDE, in a jawdropping fashion, they finished the game with zero points. Things were equally dramatic in Group B, even for BIZ. Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS) came out exceptionally strong this year. They first pulled off an early close game to defeat USP 28-19, and then they lost to LAW in another close game by a mere three points, 13-16. In the deciding game against BIZ, with just 40 seconds to go, FASS was still leading 15-14. Then BIZ executed a good offense in the final seconds to close the intensely fought game, 16-15. As a result, the last game between USP and LAW would decide the fate of all USP, LAW, and FASS. The players in both LAW and USP were not very physical or big in size, but USP saw a crucial mismatch
in the position of LAW’s point guard, and exploited it ruthlessly very early on in the game. Ball screens at the top of the three-point line created the mismatch between a point-centre from USP and a medium size point-guard from LAW. Two such screens produced two spot-up threes and enabled USP to command a 10-1 lead. This hole which LAW dug early on in the game proved too deep to crawl out, and despite having a deeper bench, LAW eventually lost the crucial game 14-19. Although USP, LAW, and FASS all had the same win-lose records, FASS eventually advanced to the Semi-Final by differences of points. In the Semi-Final stage onwards, all teams were almost equally athletic and physical. The team with the more diverse offense, playmakers, and stronger team defence will prevail. The Semi-Final took place on Week Four’s Wednesday night on SRC’s basketball courts. ENG met with FASS, and BIZ played against SDE. FASS’ performance improved tremendously from last year and they are now much stronger and more athletic. Their team has a diverse range of players of various positions, and they also have
depth on the bench. Their No. 8 point guard, who is explosive with good ball handling and footwork, contributed significantly to FASS’s success this year. Despite that, ENG controlled the game throughout and fended off FASS 50-25. BIZ’s offense revolved around their centre No. 15, who is one of most skilful centres IFG has seen this year. He possesses great court vision and often shouts out to communicate with the whole team to coordinate runs on both ends of the floor. His post-ups are very difficult to guard as he has excellent footwork and is also a good post passer. BIZ’s No. 7 point guard controls the game pace and sees the court like few others and is another good ball handler and passer. In BIZ’s offense, they would often feed the post first, and then their faster and smaller players would cut and run the floor and pass the ball around. Their offense is patient and well-executed. On the defensive end, they often run a man-to-man defence. This is when their team communication shines and poses so much trouble for their opponents. Every player communicates quickly and efficiently, and makes sure everybody stays with their opponent, leaving little
room for easy shots or baskets. SDE is arguably more athletic, but their line-ups were playing with less teamwork. BIZ defeated SDE in less than three quarters, 69-41. BIZ and ENG are clearly the better teams. On 19th September Thursday night, they will face each other for the second time, two years in a row. How will ENG counter BIZ’s line-up that emphasises motion, ball movement, and team communication? How will BIZ answer to ENG’s dominant size and strong physicality? Only time will tell, and it will surely be an exciting matchup*. May the better team win.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: My heartfelt gratitude goes to Reyor Ko, YLL School of Medicine’s sports director in charge of hosting 2013 IFG Men’s Basketball games, for his kind and generous assistance in providing the game statistics. I also want to thank Chiow Si Min from YLL School of Medicine for her amazing photos taken during the Preliminary Round. And to my beloved USP basketball team, thank you guys for the great fun.
SEX AND VIOLENCE 60
e-Sports A Legitimate Sport? Lai Foong Ming & Ong Hua Han
ne in four Singaporeans play League of Legends – Do You?” screams an advertisement at the bus stop, one of many, throughout Singapore. Gone are the days where gaming is a pastime kept hidden under wraps, belonging only to a select group of adolescent males with “nothing better to do”. e-Sports, or competitive gaming, is a burgeoning industry, one who’s popularity skyrocketed with the advent of live streaming. It is so intensely popular that start-up Justin.tv, built a subsection, twitch.tv, devoted entirely to gaming. If you don’t know anything about e-Sports, just know that you are missing out on an industry that routinely gives away sixfigure digits in prize pools over a single weekend - and there are many such weekends every year. For instance, the prize pool for the recently concluded The International 3 (TI3) DotA2 tournament was a jaw-dropping USD$2,874,382 with USD$1,437,191 (or 50%) going to the winning team, Alliance. A base prize pool of $USD1.6 million ballooned through the support of the community: 25% from every sale of a $10 Compendium is contributed to the prize pool. However, does a dedicated following alone mean competitive gaming is a legitimate sport? To give pro-gaming the same respect as basketball or soccer would mean recognizing this relatively
What a crowd at DreamHack Valencia 2013, one of the many prestigious tournaments in the world of e-Sports credits: flickr.com
young industry as a ‘real sport’. Many associate playing games with relaxing, time wasting or even escapism; definitely not at all a challenge. e-Sports at the professional level is anything but. Insanely demanding, one mis-click could send a won game spiraling into defeat. With countless decisions to make a minute, top players routinely have an actions-per-minute (APM) of over 300. Real time strategy (RTS) games like
StarCraft II are intense battles of minds between two players as they search to eke out the slightest advantage over their opponents and secure the win. Commentators often exclaim over “insane multitasking”, and rightly so. Nothing less can describe the intense concentration required to focus on four (or more!) sections of your army attacking various positions on the map. Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA2) and League of Legends (LoL), both immensely popular multiplayer online battle area (MOBA)
games add the element of teamwork, with top teams playing less with open communication than with developed chemistry. Complete trust in the ability and intuition of teammates when executing plays is crucial. A tinge of doubt and a mere moment of hesitation could be the difference between a flawlessly executed elaborate team effort and a silly botched attempt. Not every fan aspires to be the best, just as not everyone aspires to be the
impeccable Messi, or the graceful Federer. Most just want to enjoy the game and be part of the fervor, and in e-Sports, it is just the same. A shared passion for the games we love drives the community. The heart-pounding excitement and chorus of cheers and roars that comes with a hard fought victory mirrors the common phenomenon in all sports. In fact, watching events as a community has gotten so popular that the subculture ‘barcraft’ was born out of it. Gamers gather as would soccer fans to enjoy matches together over beer and food in a bar, cheering their favourite players on while forging new friendships. Other variations of such events include a ‘pizzacraft’ that was held in Singapore, and a virtual barcraft hosted online (via Minecraft) for those who could not travel to the event. In terms of viewership, e-Sports is not found wanting either. The weekend of August 23-25 saw a gaming extravaganza, with both TI3 and StarCraft II’s World Championship Series (WCS) Season 2 Finals being held. Unique viewership broke through the 4.5 million mark with an average viewer staying for two hours. The growing popularity of e-Sports has also seen America-based Major League Gaming Championships (MLG) broadcasted on ESPN internationally. e-Sports has gained such a foothold in Korean culture that in 2000, a cable channel, OnGameNet, was founded for the specific purpose of broadcasting e-Sports to the Korean public. In the same year, the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA), was established as a subdivision of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to be the official body managing e-Sports in South Korea. As with any endeavor, training and dedication is a must. Professional players consider grinding out ten hours’ worth of games a day a given, and even that does not make one a pro. Back in the
early days of StarCraft: Brood War in 1998, to be a pro-gamer in the Korean scene would require a license, fought for in Courage tournaments with hundreds of signups and only one winner. After tasting the sweet momentary victory, hopefuls join pro teams as part of their B-team. These players then live in a dorm with teammates, with a coach endlessly analyzing their plays, away from family without a salary and washing the dishes of the A team. How many of us can be so dedicated to our dreams to push through such hardships for years on end?
turned commentator American Greg “IdrA” Fields chose to pursue a professional
However, hard work gives no guarantee in any field and e-Sports is even more brutal than most. Years can be spent slogging away for nothing – no time in the limelight, with no one to remember your name but yourself. Some, such as CanadianAmerican Chris “HuK” Loranger, who won DreamHack Summer 2011 and Homestory Cup III in back to back weekends at the height of his fame, succeed momentarily only to fall into the abyss overnight, never
IT IS ONLY RIGHT FOR US FANS AND ONLOOKERS ALIKE TO APPRECIATE THE ENTERTAINMENT THEY BRING, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, RESPECT THEIR WORK AS PROFESSIONALS.
StarCraft II career over attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on scholarship to study theoretical physics. For German Dario “TLO” Wünsch, repetitive strain injury (RSI) forced him into taking a break from competing, with the pain having become too excruciating to ignore. A complete change in lifestyle
Maru, your 2013 WCS – Korea Season 2 Champion. credits: teamliquid.net
again displaying the brilliance of their glory days. Recent WCS – Korea champion, 16 year old Cho “Maru” Sung Choo played his first televised game at the tender age of 13, and is only now reaping the rewards of his years of dedication. While some may say he is still young, the champion had already traded in his school life to concentrate on pro-gaming – he is currently out of school. Similarly, player
followed. TLO now starts every day with a light workout and has running, swimming and meditation locked into his weekly schedule. In his words, “It may sound silly to people who haven’t experienced gaming themselves, but we can’t deny the fact that it is a sport, and demands certain physical prerequisites. Fact: if you want to perform to your potential, your body needs to be in shape. Mind and body need to work together.” Indeed, gaming is not as easy or frivolous as what most may
dismiss it to be. Though the road to stardom in the gaming industry is rocky, the perks of pro-gaming continue to seduce and inspire fresh batches of aspiring players. The top pro-gamers jet the world from event to event with hoards of fans greeting them at every stop. Queues for signatures stretch endlessly long, and signed gaming gear is highly coveted. At one point, Korean Starcraft II player Song “HerO” Hyeon Deok was even noted to have said that he was tired of traveling, having attended competitions across three continents in the span of two weeks. With rosters of salaried players on a multitude of professional teams worldwide and big name sponsors like Samsung and Redbull backing various teams, the industry looks to be booming and far from going anywhere any time soon. From these anecdotes, it is clear competitive gaming requires individual sacrifice and hard work, and is a demanding profession. This alone is enough to justify e-Sports as a legitimate sport and for pro-gamers to be given due respect. Grinding out hours of practice games is a lonely routine not matched with guaranteed success, and the unforgiving nature of the sport is such that only the best are remembered, with the fallen shoved into the shadows like forgotten warriors. As such, it is only right for us fans and onlookers alike to appreciate the entertainment they bring, and most importantly, respect their work as professionals.
WAVES OF HOPE SWIMATHON credits : 4life.com.gr
or a good cause, the rain chose to stay away. Which cause you might wonder? Ironically, it was one which involved all the participants getting wet. I’m referring to the recently concluded ‘Waves of Hope’ Swimathon organised by the NUS Rotaract Club. On the 7th of September, this writer made his way over to the Yio Chu Kang Swimming Complex. While I took a parasol along just in case, it turned out that the rain would be taking the day off. For the uninitiated, a swimathon, like its land-based brethren, the walkathon, involves all participants trying to complete as many laps as possible to raise money for a good cause. Corporations are roped in to match the number of laps completed with a particular sum of money. For the 2013 edition, the organisers set themselves the audacious goal of completing 5,000 laps by the end of the day to raise $25,000 dollars for charity. Clearly, a lot of people were going to get wet. The NUS Rotaract Club chose to partner up with the Pathlight School for this second edition of ‘Waves of Hope’. The Pathlight School was founded in 2004 to provide quality schooling for highfunctioning autistic children who might otherwise have difficulties adjusting in mainstream schools. Having an autistic cousin, I think I do somewhat appreciate the challenges faced by families in helping their child chart a course for themselves in our hectic, challenging
environment. The work carried out by the Pathlight School to raise awareness and greater understanding amongst the community is also truly admirable. However, doing so costs a significant sum of money and while the Pathlight School is partially funded by the Singapore government, they do require almost five million dollars a year to cover all programmes. Cue ‘Waves of Hope’ to fill the void. When I arrived at the venue, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that almost 1,000 laps had already been swum a few days in advance through mini-swimathons held with Fairfield Primary and St Andrews Secondary School, leaving 4,000 plus laps to go. Serving as Guest of Honour for the event was Professor Tan Teck Koon, Dean of Students, Office of Student Affairs,
‘WAVES OF HOPE’ MANAGED TO GREATLY EXCEED THEIR TARGET OF 5,000 LAPS WITH 6,359 LAPS BEING COMPLETED BY ALL THE PARTICIPANTS.”
NUS. He made for a very gracious GOH, mixing well with parents, participants and this reporter as well although how he managed to confuse me for a parent, I’m not too sure.
NUS Dean of Students Professor Tan Teck Koon (holding red horn) flags off the first wave of swimmers Credits: R DENASHVARAN .
With a few thousand people cheering on the swimmers and almost 440 swimmers themselves taking part, the entire occasion was truly a festive one with a small bazaar and carnival games all supporting the overall goal of raising funds for the Pathlight School. For me, I think the highlight of the day was watching some of the students from the Pathlight School come down to the swimming complex to put on a sparkling performance set to J Lo’s ‘On the Floor’ after the first round of swimming. At the same time there were plenty of tender moments for everyone as parents coaxed and supported their children all the way as they swam. Some parents even joined in to help their younger children make it all the way around the Olympic sized swimming pool. There was a true sense of camaraderie out there amongst all of the participants and
it was great for me to see how so many people from different walks of life could come together to support this noble cause. At the end of the day ‘Waves of Hope’ managed to greatly exceed their target of 5,000 laps with 6,359 laps being completed by all the participants. So why didn’t I join them and do my part for charity? Well, this reporter can’t swim although after a day at ‘Waves of Hope’, maybe you will find me back next year, not just reporting for the Ridge magazine, but paddling along to give something back to our community. I hope to see more NUS students as well there next year so that the Rotaract club can continue their good work in helping the local community, one lap at a time.
The Summer Transfer Window
A Managerial Shopping Spree Marvin Keck
s another chaotic transfer window draws to a close, Premier League clubs spent a staggering £630 million on player transfers. That is close to S$1.2 billion dollars in Singapore! As the season starts in our favorite football league (not the S-league ), we pick out some of the most eye-catching transfers in this window.
MESUT OZIL (Real Madrid to Arsenal, £42 million) The news of this transfer was greeted with disbelief by this writer, followed by incredible excitement at the prospect of Ozil playing in the Premier League. Arsenal fans worldwide rubbed their eyes and prayed that Arsene Wenger did not mistakenly sign Ozil look-a-like Loki from the Avengers instead, but this seems to be the real deal. One of the best attacking midfielders in the world, this is the worldclass player that Arsenal fans have been crying out for, despite the abundance of talent in the position (read Jack Wilshere, Santi Carzola, Tomas Rosicky). Arsenal fans will hope that Ozil can lead them to the league title this season with his dazzling playmaking skills, or of course, with all their injury woes, play as a centre forward if need be. The Gunners boss did smash his well-polished piggybank (that we all thought was long hidden away) for him.
MAROUANE FELLAINI (Everton to Manchester United, £27.5 million) All summer long, Manchester United fans such as myself rubbed our hands in excitement at the prospect of midfielders such as “Cesc” Fabregas, Thiago, Daniel De Rossi, and Ander Herrera joining the club. It was almost a disappointment when only Marouane Fellaini was signed.
It must be mentioned that this time last year Fallaini was chased by Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City as well. The Belgium with the afro who made you think LMFAO’s Redfoo was playing instead of making awesome songs, will surely inject some strength and power in a midfield that is sorely lacking, and improve Everton’s, I mean Manchester United’s chances of retaining the Premier League title.
MAMADOU SAKHO (PSG to Liverpool, £18 million) The retirement of Anfield favourite Jamie Carragher and the inconsistent form of Martin Skrtel meant that Liverpool has had to strengthen the centre-back position. Despite Sakho dropping down the pecking order at PSG, he is still a powerful defender who captained PSG when still a teenager and touted as a potential captain for the French national team in the future. With this signing, added to the fact that Liverpool managed to keep want-away striker Luis Suarez, you can almost hear the Anfield faithful believing yet again. Surely, this has to be their year.
ROBERTO SOLDADO (Valencia to Tottenham £26 million) Often labeled a one-man-team last term, Tottenham literally signed an entire team of players (seven players) to replace the team/player that was Gareth Bale. Among the signings that potentially could do well are Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen, but it is Soldado that catches the eye. Spain’s current first-choice striker (incidentally, Spain abhors playing strikers) is expected to bring a goal-scoring prowess that mysteriously deserted fellow strikers Defoe and Adebayor last season, one
-Not Redfoo. Photo from www.manutd.com
of the reasons why the team was so dependent on Bale.
GARY MEDEL (Sevilla to Cardiff, £9.5 million) Nicknamed “El Pitbull”, Medel has won praise for his excellent man mark of a certain Lionel Messi last season. Despite his disciplinary problems (three red cards last season, seven in all since 2011), Medel will toughen the Cardiff midfield braced for a potential relegation battle this season. Expect to see chairs flying or Medel being held back by teammates as he rages against an unfair decision or a mistimed tackle, or simply galvanizing his teammates by screaming till he is hoarse when the result goes against them. (Disclaimer: this writer does not condone violence of any sort.)
GARY HOOPER (Celtic to Norwich, £5 million) Most people have never heard of Gary Hooper prior to last season, but he has actually been Celtic’s top scorer for three seasons in a row. Hooper has scored 19 league goals for Celtic last season (31 in total) as Celtic ran away with the Scottish Premier League. Nicknamed “Hooperman” by Celtic fans, which highlights rather the lack of creativity in nicknaming than Gary Hooper’s goal scoring abilities, Norwich’s hopes of finishing well this season rests with the new partnership of Hooper and fellow new signing, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel.
ROMELU LUKAKU (Chelsea to Everton, free) Scoring 17 goals while on loan at West
Brom Albion last season, including a hat-trick against Manchester United, Lukaku must have thought he had done enough to fight for a place at Chelsea. Considering Chelsea’s problems in the striking department (Fernando Torres becoming the butt of football jokes day by day rather than the star striker Chelsea thought they were signing), it was a surprise when Lukaku was loaned out yet again. Chelsea’s loss was Everton’s gain, as the powerful striker will hope to repeat his stellar performances for Everton, who have been struggling for goals.
JOSE MOURINHO (Real Madrid to Chelsea, free) Despite signing players such as Williams, Andre Schurrle and Eto’o, Chelsea’s best signing so far is ‘the Special One’ and former manager Jose Mourinho. Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich buried the hatchet between themselves in search of more success for Chelsea. The club just cannot seem to keep a manager for longer than two seasons after Mourinho’s departure. Mourinho, who now much rather be known as ‘the Happy One’, remains Chelsea’s most successful manager and will hope to lead Chelsea to even more glory. Of course, it is hard to predict if these players will actually make the impact that everyone is hoping for (or be worth all that dough), especially for foreign players trying to settle into playing in a new country. All we can do now is sit back, and let the drama unfold.
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