29 August 2009


What Makes a Great Frontman?

Writing this introduction is hard. You might as well ask me what makes a great cookie.

Let the record show that two sentences into a post about bands, I made an analogy to baking. I'm not very cool. Yet I keep going . . .

Well, obviously, a lead singer should be able to carry a tune. There must also be some sensitivity to lyrics, because words do mean something (unless, perhaps, they were written by Noel Gallagher).

A unique sound definitely helps; nobody really wants to listen to someone who sounds just like somebody else. (I guess this means the jury is still out on Steve Perry soundalike Arnel Pineda joining Journey? He does sound great, though.)

My own favourite element is the showmanship necessary for a singer to pull his own weight in a live show. Singing live is practically a test of character.

My Top 5 Lead Singers

1) Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi)

Have you ever tried singing a Bon Jovi song? It's not as easy as their insouciantly glam rock image would make you think.

Despite the huge demand for Always, they don't perform it live very often, because of the strain it puts on their frontman's voice.

26 August 2009


Writing Diary, Entry #8

It is late August, so the editorial staff of monthly magazines are thinking of their October issues. If this isn't "Child of the 80s" meets "Freelance Writer" territory, then I don't know what is. If I had had more foresight, I would have spent the past two weeks peddling my unique pop culture experience to edgy editors.

Turnabout, Fair Play and . . . Spandau Ballet

The 60s had The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Photobucket vs. Photobucket

The 90s had Blur and Oasis.

Blur Converse vs. Photobucket

The 80s had Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet!

Photobucket vs. SpandauBallet

(The 70s, you ask? They slipped by me in a blur, so I wouldn't know. I'm sorry.)

23 August 2009


Ten Things about Up

10) I'm still humming the score. It sounds exactly like thousands of multicoloured balloons!

9) I love Pixar so much that I will believe almost anything.

For instance, I will believe that ordinary helium balloons can make a house fly, that an old man and an overweight little boy can drag a floating house along, and that a mad genius can design a collar that translates dog thoughts into human languages.

Yet there were so many other things about those dogs I simply could not buy . . . (Don't worry. I won't spoil them for you. Besides, you might buy them.)

8) Still . . . "I was hiding under your porch because I love you." . . . I love you, too, Dug. =)

7) One last thing about the dogs: I found it quite amusing that the leaders of the pack are named after Greek letters.

21 August 2009


Friday Night Movie: Commando

I just got back from watching Pixar's Up with my brothers. It's not going to be easy to go from its lovely orchestral score and multicoloured balloons to Arnold Schwarzenegger in all his 80s glory . . . but I'd do anything for my loyal Bloggians. So "let's party" now, aye?

0:49 Hmmmmmm. I wonder how many other Schwarzenegger movies start with a garbage truck.
1:08 She went to bed in full make up???
1:11 And wakes up that gorgeous???
2:02 A mystery of the movies: Why is it that somebody shot with a pistol hits the ground immediately, while somebody riddled with machine gun fire does a little dance first?
2:08 Hey! It's Mac from Predator! =D
2:16 "Now that is American workmanship!" Is this an ironic joke?
4:00 Antennae . . . So twentieth century!
4:09 Now the score kicks in . . . So Techno.
4:46 Does anyone else thinks it's starting to sound like a campy kung fu movie?
5:02 I'll bet that "tree" is made of styrofoam!
5:19 I know something you don't know . . . But don't worry. I won't spoil it for you.
5:36 "Oh, Daddy! Put me down!" What I know that you now know, too, is what Alyssa Milano's shadow looks like.
5:57 Ha! I'll bet that if one of Schwarzenegger's real-life daughters did that, there would be heck to pay.
6:09 Strong . . .
6:14 . . . yet sensitive!
7:24 I like that smile. It really looks as if he didn't know that note was going to be there. =)
7:52 "Why don't they just call him 'Girl George'? It would cut down all the confusion." I once wondered the same thing myself!
8:09 In all fairness, that may be the only thing the Communists were right about.
9:37 I don't know who you are yet, but if you're going in there to break up this father and daughter, then you're as bad as a single-mother-by-choice.

20 August 2009


To Tutor or Not to Tutor

"Enbrethiliel, we finally have a student for you! Can you come in today?"

It had been a slow first quarter for XYZ Tutorial Centre. The global recession was bad enough, but Conspiracy Theory Flu had to make it worse by resulting in canceled classes all over the metro. Most regular clients of the centre didn't bother signing their children up for sessions all throughout the First Quarter of the school year. When I contacted the owner last month to ask whether she had any students she could assign to me, she confessed that the whole centre had so few students that it couldn't even stay open all five days of the school week. She didn't get back to me with "good news" until last night.

You may be wondering about those quotation marks . . .

"She's in the first grade in an all-girls private school. She started coming to us last year and is known for being quite a character! We like to joke that she has ADHD."

19 August 2009


Wednesday Night Trailer: "Somewhere . . . Somehow . . . Someone's gonna pay."

I could start a Single Mother vs. Single Father smackdown. John Matrix from Commando can go up against Mrs. Larusso from The Karate Kid, the head villain in The Goonies, and every last single mother in the Astoria, Oregon of Kindergarten Cop. Yet those would be unfair odds . . . for the single mothers.

17 August 2009


Reading Diary: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The Booke of the People.
Being instructions to our magicks and life rules

Carry me always, carry me well.
I am thy teacher of herb and spell.
I am thy link to power arcane.
Forget me and thy magick shall wane.

Ten times ten commandments there be.
They will answer every mystery.
Cures, curses, alchemy.
These secrets shall be thine, through me.

But, Fairy, remember this above all.
I am not for those in mud that crawl.
And forever doomed shall be the one,
Who betrays my secrets one by one.

(First of all, this is not a review. I just want to make a record of everything I read--and reread--from now on.)

I got my copy of Artemis Fowl during Christmas Octave 2004-2005, thanks to one of two Whitcoulls gift certificates. The other gift certificate got me Anthony Horowitz's Stormbreaker, the first book in the Alex Rider series. When it came down to Artemis vs. Alex, of course Alex won.

Accordingly, for five years, the novel which I bought because one reviewer had called it "the anti-Harry Potter," became the novel which I probably shouldn't have read too close in time to Stormbreaker . . . and Point Blanc . . . and Skeleton Key . . . and Eagle Strike . . .

16 August 2009


Twenty Years Later: Can't Beat Classic Duran Duran
(A Follow Up to Rainy Day Music: Classic Duran Duran)

Simon . . . loved attention. In fact, he was totally up himself, but I mean that as a compliment, because the one thing you need in a front man is for him to be self-obsessed in a theatrical way.

-- Andy Taylor on Simon LeBon, in Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran

An out-of-context phrase keeps coming to mind when I think of Simon LeBon's theatrics: "punching someone's purple pillows of pride." He is one big, walking purple pillow of pride and I just live to punch him.

Having said that, I think we can give him a second chance at playing live rhythm guitar on Save a Prayer . . .

0:10 When I first saw this, I thought, "OMG! He's going to do it all over again, isn't he?"
0:18 Then I realise it is 2004, twenty years removed from that first attempt I featured.
0:39 Despite the passage of time, it seems that nothing has changed . . .

15 August 2009


Writing Diary, Entry #7

There is nothing to report but a lot of rewriting.

All right, that's not quite accurate . . . I have one new article out: a short feature for Atlas TV Guide on some of the more popular presenters on the Discovery Channel.

Now, about the rewriting. Remember that academic paper I had to perform reconstructive surgery on? As soon as I was done, the client asked me to do it again--twice. No, there was no problem with my original submission. He just wanted it redone as an article for a Business magazine and then as a case study for a Business student. "Think of it as telling the same story from the point of view of Snow White and again from the point of view of a dwarf," he explained, not really clearing anything up.

Well, sometimes cheesy pick up lines work, and sometimes clumsily phrased commissions are charming. So I let him take up a few more weekends of my life.

Just when I thought I was done . . .

08 August 2009


John Hughes: Requiescat in Pace . . .

At first I was too embarrassed to write this. Sancta Sanctis had stayed silent through the last week of Corazon Aquino's life and the almost 24/7 coverage of a nation in mourning. For Shredded Cheddar to go all out for John Hughes would reveal an imbalance of values. (You know?)

Then I remembered that what is not posted on the "sacred" blog should have nothing to do with what is posted on the "profane" blog. So now I do this with only the tiniest smidgen of guilt . . .

My Top 5 John Hughes Movies

1) The Breakfast Club

Is this choice predictable or what? Yet I have always liked this movie.

I screened it for my first group of students, when J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye was still part of the syllabus. On the whole, they liked the Five Horsemen of the American High School much more than they liked Holden Caulfield.

There really is a lot to pick apart in this epic of teenage angst. We read Dante's Inferno in the previous quarter, but didn't get to touch on Purgatorio as much as I would have liked (for which my students were probably extremely grateful!). If I had had more foresight, however, I would have exploited the idea that high school is as close to Purgatory as most of suburbia is going to get.

It may be worthwhile to note that reviewing this film as an adult--and as a teacher--made me sympathise so much more with Principal Vernon. It's not easy to be the most unpopular person in high school. Before the quarter ended, I asked my students to note that he, too, did not endure those nine hours without coming face to face with himself--but he is the only one at the end who doesn't get to speak at all.

05 August 2009


Wednesday Night Poll: Conan or Commando?

Yes, this is a serious question. (Have I ever asked you frivolous questions?)

And here is some serious art to help you help me make up my mind . . .

Photobucket VS. Photobucket

This is for the next Friday Night Movie, which is scheduled for next Friday rather than this Friday. (I've decided to space my live blogs two weeks apart, for the sake of my own sanity . . . and because, at this point in time, I'm still practicing my crane kick. Oh, yes, and also because I have paid work to do all this week.)

04 August 2009


Thought of the Day: Someone Who Always Has a Job

Remember Hollywood director Mike Todd pointing out the difference between being poor and being broke? The way he saw it, being poor is a permanent (or at least long-term) state of mind, while being broke is a temporary state of pocket. So the next time you find yourself without money, remember that you're just broke.

I found an interesting new principle along those same lines today . . .

02 August 2009


Sunday Afternoon Post: "Dude, Where's My Crane Kick?"

Remember those four words with the diabolical power to smash Friday Night Movie? Well, when they emerged from their black hole of doom, they were followed by some friends . . .

Q. What twelve words maliciously strike at the heart of Friday Night Movie, just when everyone is having a good time?

A. "This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions."

Oh, come on!!! Don't hate me because I'm not American.

KarateKid Poster

Not that I think I'm entitled to Ralph Macchio's crane kick or anything.

Yet because I am not American, we won't get to see some of the most beautiful (yes, beautiful) moments of The Karate Kid. I mean the crane kick at the beach . . . and the first part of Mr. Miyagi's revelations about his past. At least I can still embed stuff.

So you're still with me, right? (Right?) We're going to have to jump ahead to Part 10, though. Mr. Miyagi is already quite sloshed . . .