Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Advertising wars of BMW, Audi, Subaru and Bentley

Enough about Zouk Out for now. Here's a little something from the funny guys at americatopten... Advertisement Wars:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Zouk Out 2006 (part 4)

Rating: 1110.50
This is the last of a four part review. Read about the pre-party in part one,the high guy who ripped his shirt in part two and the sausage fest in part three.
From the main arena, I switched over to the live stage-- Plain Sunset (also on myspace), a home grown Singaporean band was playing some singable music. Vocalist Jon Chan had a lot of rockstar banter and I think they would be Singapore's answer to Parokya Ni Edgar. They had playful, risqué lyrics such as: We're not made in the USA/we're red and white without the blue.

I dunno what the bassist and guitarist were thinking but midway through their set, they stripped down to their boxers.

Ummm. okaaay. Rock on!

I thought I was finally going to get to see an honest to goodness brawl but a couple of seconds after some elbows went a-flying and the mosh-pit went a-moshing, the over-excited auxiliary police stepped in to put some order into the chaos. Boo. It's a freaking rock concert! You don't really expect people to sit and clap politely! (or do you? Sometimes I forget that order is of paramount importance in this part of the world.)

I didn't want to wait for sunrise so I decided to go home after Plain Sunset. On the way out, I passed by Belgian DJs Stephan and David Dewaele spinning on the velvet underground stage. Compared to Steve Lawler, they had more variety and had funky remixes of familiar rock songs. People here were a bit more social with each other as opposed to just bobbing up and down with a hand in the air like mindless drones. So I had to stop and groove a little because the music was finally danceable!

I had to tear myself from this happy place because for sure leaving this island together with thousands others would be a challenge. I had my last look around the beach and got an eyeful: this girl on a chair doubled over throwing up, a threesome asleep on the sand, slippers who lost their feet and in the distance, the subtle dull throb of bass.

The long road home
Going home is a pain. Booking a taxi was impossible so I figured I had to get onto a main road and flag one down. Although there was a free shuttle service from the beach to the harbourfront MRT terminal every 10 minutes, don't count on people keeping their manners when it's 4:30 in the morning, they're tired and just want to go home.

It doesn't matter that some of these folks were fashionable and educated and could afford the $40 entrance fee, $30 slippers and $10 beers-- in the absence of authority figures (and there were none to be seen at the time I was there), it's every man for himself Lord Of The Flies style. Queue to the bus? What queue? As soon as it arrived, semi-pandemonium with pushing and shoving. I was trying to be gracious and let the ladies first but some of the gentlemen used their bulk to bulldoze through.

Paksyet! This hot shuffle definitely was cramping my style. Disgusted at the mob, I calmly stepped back, reached into my bag....

and unwrapped my chocolate bar.

I munched happily along, sighed at this degeneration into chaos (where were the auxiliary police when they're needed?!), lamented about the tragedy of the commons and with a spring in my step, took the leisurely 30 minute walk to a car park where another bus was waiting.

The shuttle ride was eerily quiet. I guess if Zouk Out were sex, this would be the part where you'd take out your cigarette and have a smoke. An ambulance was wangwanging away. Some were barefoot (they lost their slippers) and with it went their sense of humour.

In Conclusion
Three and a half pawikan points. Bonus points for the variety and live jamming but minus points for the hassle on the way home. It's a great party best enjoyed with friends but don't expect to strike conversations with complete strangers here (not unless you're uber friendly or verrry good looking). No pretentious too-cool-for-you attitudes here, just some people looking to enjoy the music and have a good time.

It felt just a wee bit cold though. It doesn't have that warm, fuzzy, peace-love atmosphere of a reggae bar. It felt a little too slick, too engineered, too surgically precise... too perfect. (Heh! What am I complaining about?)

If you like music, you like dancing and have $60 to spare, go to next year's party. If the bouncer doesn't let your chocolate bar in, tell him reviewsbyp sent you wah.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Zouk Out 2006 (part 3)

Rating: 1110.50
(This is part three. Read about the pre-party in part one and the high guy who ripped his shirt in part two)
Four time DJ Awards winner in Ibiza, Steve Lawler was definitely The DJ god tonight. And I make apt references to religion because he wove an almost spiritual musical experience-- people were hardly talking with each other and most were immersed in their own little worlds having private conversations with drum and bass only stopping to raise their hands and whoop whenever Steve Lawler would slip a catchy hook.

(On second thought, this can't be religion because I've never seen this much people in church!)

Steve Lawler's set had repetitive, hypnotic beats; definitely deep, definitely dark but not sexy enough for me. I would have preferred more vocals, more tribal and less progressive but i'm old school. (Music is relative anyway). But if there's one thing I can say without a doubt is that he had the best visuals.

Spinning in front of a giant light wall (check out the video) which was pulsating in perfect time to the music combined with artificial fog and and lasers made for a verrry trippy effect. He put Sentosa's 6pm laser-lights exhibition to shame and made the Merlion's eyes look like puny laser pointers! It seems unfair that the other arenas did not have as much firepower as this one.

Sausage fest!
Oh yeah and back to the ledge-- sad to say, they were all dominated by guys! All shirtless some with chiselled bodies, some rolling with fat, some in tight skimpy swimming trunks but all oily, all sweaty, all beastly. Ugh. Where I come from, only beautiful creatures are supposed to be up on ledges. We want to see soft, flawless beauty-- not hairy, grunting beasts. (I should've asked that bouncer from Cookie to come over and enforce the male:female ratio on the ledge.)

So I started to look around and out of the corner of my eye, I saw some men in boxers on stage and what looked like the beginning of a brawl!

Continue to the last part and read about the bus mob...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Zouk Out 2006 (part 2)

Rating: 1110.50
(This is part two. Read the first part of Zouk Out 2006 here.)
Apparently I had stumbled upon the Mambo Jambo arena which explains why they were playing err-- the best of the 80's (yeah baby!). The theme from ghostbusters was a nice touch and I had to resist the urge to do the dance step from the movie (lest I betray that I am a child of the 80's...) So I quickly moved on to the next stage before they decide to play some New Kids On The Block.

The Atmosphere
The Zouk team did a great job of setting up a carnival atmosphere. Tents lined either side of the beach offering the usual suspects: food, drink, henna tattoo, massage, palm reading and trampoline jumping (!). Corporate sponsors Intel, CK, Singnet and Subraru (to name a few) also had booths showcasing their wares. Of course there was also the velvet-roped VIP lounge to remind us that there are people and then there are Very Important People.

I specially liked the fun roving stilt-walkers dressed in funky space-age, superhero and alien costumes. There was also a pair of African-tribe-ish ati-atihanish looking men pounding on drums who would invite you to drum along with them. There was even this Indian gentleman who got so high that he tore his shirt into pieces while grooving to the drumsong. (Plus points for authentic hairy chest).

On to the Live Stage...
Electrico was on stage and finally after so many months here in Singapore, I've heard some serious Singaporean rock! From their name, I figured that they'd be playing electronica but it was old fashioned guitars, drums and keyboards coupled with solid vocals from David Tan.

You know how rock is supposed to provide the soundtrack of your youth? Well my first impression of Electrico is that their songs are hard to become anthems-- you know like Eraserheads' Pare Ko or Rivermaya's Kisapmata? It's definitely rockable but the meaning is hard to understand and don't tell stories that you could relate to. But then again I only heard a 40 minute set and I didn't grow up here so I could be wrong...

After the set, I spied some ledges packed with people so I went over to the main arena where lo and behold-- The DJ Steve Lawler was spinning.

Continue to part three and read about the almost-brawl...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Zouk Out 2006: A Dance Music Festival, Sentosa Singapore

Rating: 1110.50
Bring Fête de la Musique to Boracay's station one, fence out the shore so nobody can swim, have a small army of sweepers continuously pick up litter, sprinkle in some uniformed police for good luck and you pretty much have an idea of what Zouk Out is like.

For my readers who have neither been to the fête nor Boracay (you should go to both!), Zouk Out is essentially four stages of music set up on a beach spanning an area slightly bigger than a football field. It's Singapore's biggest party and according to the organizers, they had 18,000 revelers turnout during last year's event. So I donned beach clothes, brought a chocolate bar (for energy) and hopped on the MRT to harbourfront to see what all this fuss was about.

Getting there
What does an MRT look like packed with "18,000 revelers"? This was the question I asked myself as I got on the train. But as I got off the Harbourfront terminal 11ish pm, the question was replaced with "Am I too early?" I only saw a handful of people in beach wear so I thought I must've gotten the date wrong. But when I got to the Harbourfront bus terminal to hop on the $2 shuttle to Sentosa, I saw the signs pointing to Zouk Out. The queue to board the bus was moving very quickly (plus points for efficiency!) and we were on the road within 10 minutes. There was a traffic jam on the narrow bridge and the lane going away from Sentosa was an exodus of taxis.

Pre-party preparations
As I got off the bus and walked toward the hallowed party grounds, I noticed people were having mini-parties drinking beer, gin and generally getting sloshed. It kinda makes sense because the alcohol is sure to be more expensive inside the venue but I dunno... the whole "let's get wasted first" thing sorta has an "errrr... okaaayyy..." feel to it.

Anyway back to queues-- I'm glad I bought my $38 ticket ahead of time because it's more expensive to buy it at the gate. As an added bonus, you'll have to queue up some more! So I jumped directly to the two security and bag checks (which instantly reminded me of home)-- Absolutely no food or drink is allowed inside. Thankfully, my chocolate bar attracted a frown but survived the trash bin.

As I stepped on the hallowed party grounds, I was salivating about the different kinds of music i'd hear tonight-- maybe some funky tribal house or some inventive mash-ups of progressive trance and 60's music samples, etc.. etc... But the very first few strains of music that greeted were...


the theme from Ghostbusters!

Continue to part two and read about the shirt-ripping man...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What kind of porn are people in the Philippines and Singapore searching for?

This search engine describes itself as "just like google, but grown up" and its mission is "to organize all free porn on the internet". Okay whatever.

They analyzed the search logs and published a list that enumerates the kind of porn people from different countries are searching. Unfortunately the article is not dated so I can't tell you when this analysis was made but here are excerpts of the results:

People from Singapore use their search engine to search for:

public ,nubiles, babysitter, japan, voyeur, sybian, riding, hegre, kyla cole, av, tokyo, hentai lesbian,mia, cameron, party, celebrity, sisters, claudia a, lesbian teen, milfseeker ava, "kyla cole", lovely anne, peter north, busty japanese, lucky, lacie, girl cum, swimming pool, jp18
Hmmm. Those didn't make any sense to me. So let's look at the searches from the Philippines:
silvia saint, bukkake, 99bb, czech ashley robbins, boob exam, classic porn, evelyn lory, throat fuck, fitness models, fuck her throat
Evelyn Lory? Sino yun? Take the results with a grain of salt because we don't know when this was done and I doubt that it followed any scientific methodology (it's porn, not rocket science).

Why the Philippines is poor

Reason Magazine explains in this article why the Philippines is poor. It's a couple of pages long but i've taken some excerpts below:

Consider the situation: money that was provided because of social networks rather than need; a project designed for prestige rather than use; a lack of monitoring and accountability; and an architect appointed for show by somebody with little interest in the quality of the work. The outcome is hardly surprising: A project that should never have been built was built, and built badly. The lesson of the story might appear to be that self-interested and ambitious people in power are often the cause of wastefulness in developing countries. But self-interested and ambitious people are in positions of power, great and small, all over the world.
But then you might say that it's not news at all that corruption is a small part of a bigger picture of why we are poor but the article contends that...
It is not news that corruption and perverse incentives matter. But perhaps it is news that the problem of twisted rules and institutions explains not just a little bit of the gap between [the poor] and rich countries but almost all of the gap.
The story ends with...
We still don't have a good word to describe what is missing ... in poor countries across the world. But we are starting to understand what it is. Some people call it "social capital," or maybe "trust." Others call it "the rule of law," or "institutions." But these are just labels. The problem is that ... like other poor countries, [it] is a topsy-turvy place where it's in most people's interest to take actions that directly or indirectly damage everyone else.
So how do we fix it?
Unfortunately, the article just gives us the reason why. It does not tell us how to fix it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Zaleti at QV, Melbourne

Rating: 11110
My last brunch in Melbourne was at Zaleti located in QV (corner of Swantston and Lonsdale).

It felt to me like an American diner because of the booths, the hand-written menu on the blackboard and no-frills decor. Most of the people were quietly enjoying their coffee while reading the day's paper.

I would have sat outside and dined al fresco under the sun but it was too chilly for me so I tucked inside, ordered the risotto with chorizo and capsicum (AUD $14.50) and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice ($5.50).

The risotto was beautiful and was as good as the pumpkin risotto I had at Matthew Flinders. The spicy chorizo went well with the sweet capsicums and I ate it slowly relishing every bite while I helped myself to the complimentary newspaper.

Four pawikan points for an affordable brunch that hit the spot.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tony Starr's Kitten Club, Melbourne

Rating:4/5 11110
I didn't really know that the inconspicuous green door along Little Collins St. (which is just a short walk from Swanston St.) was Tony Starr's Kitten Club.

No, no it's not a strip club. It just sounds like one. It's a nice cozy two-storey bar and I daresay one of my favorites in Melbourne because of the everybody-welcome ambience and zero cover charge.

I headed over to the second floor called the Galaxy, plopped on one of the couches near the stage and enjoyed the funky, happy-people jazz music. Thank God that it wasn't one of those indescribable artsy pieces and I could tap my feet and dance to it. During the night I was there, the band called this young German guy who just happened to bring his sax and they started an impromptu jam session.

Four pawikan points for an unpretentious good time, friendly waters, reasonably priced drinks and a rocking, jazzy good time.

Cookie, Melbourne

Rating:0/5 00000
According to my city guide, Cookie is the quintessential warehouse-style big disco. I imagine it to be something akin to Singapore's Ministry of Sound. However i'll have to leave the inside of Cookie to my imagination because the huge, European-looking bouncer did not let me in.

Yup. He didn't let me in on grounds that 'there are already too many guys inside. Sausage fest. Sorry mate.' Now WTF kind of a reason is that?

I was in an ordinary pair of blue jeans, collared shirt and jacket, the same attire that got me courteous, excellent service at the posh Deanery. If I were taller, whiter and looked more expensive, would there still have been too many guys inside?

Zero points. I've never given a zero before, but then again, i've never been denied entry to a club before because of the delicate gender equilibrium had been upset. Looking back, I guess I was fortunate not to have stepped into Cookie because then I wouldn't have stumbled upon Tony Starr's Kitten Club!

The Deanery Wine Reserve, Melbourne

Rating: 11110
The Deanery served me the best porterhouse steak meal I've had here in Melbourne. Served on a parmesan polenta with porcini relish (AUD$34), grilled asparagus (AUD$8) and a glass of a Cape D'Estaing red wine (AUD$8.50). The flavors were new to me so it was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was invited!

The Deanery doubles as a wine bar where I spied upon some fashionably dressed people. When I entered, I wasn't sure if they served dinner but the bartender was all smiles and he ushered me to their dining area up on the second floor.

It was actually their wine cellar (is it still a cellar if it's on the second floor?). The climate-controlled wine room lined the full length of the room separated only by floor-to-ceiling glass. I could see the boxes and bottles stacked rather disorderly, but its industrial look complemented the white table cloths, bare ceiling and the single-flower-in-a-vase that each table had.

Four pawikan points. Visit them at 13 Bligh Place. It's a small alley seemingly cut into the street and it's easy to miss so pay attention. If you get lost, give them a call at 9629 5599.