Wednesday, 28 October 2009
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Now I've always wondered what it would be like to be in a TV production, working behind the scenes. It's just so fun knowing how your favourite TV show was made.

After watching an episode of the latest season of The Amazing Race, I decided to do a little research on this. Exactly how is TAR made?

Once the contestants are informed, they will be required to apply for visas to a number of countries. However, to keep things mysterious they will apply for visas to more countries than the ones they will visit. This way they won't know for sure which country will they visit, and which will they not.

At the beginning of the race, you see that they will depart 12 hours from their arrival time. So say if they arrive at a pit stop at 8pm they will depart at 8am. However, sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, it will be a 36 hour break, so on TV it still looks like 12.

Pit stop extensions happen for a variety of production-related reasons: extremely bad weather, problems setting up the next leg, Phil being sick, a team lagging several hours behind the rest of the production, and so forth.

Then, sometimes they would head into a designated car. I've always wondered wouldn't it be easier for them to communicate if they sat side by side instead of front and back? Well here's the reason:

Every team is accompanied by a two-man production crew composed of a cameraman and a sound techie. In vehicles, the cameraman always rides "shotgun," and the sound tech sits behind the cameraman. So if they're in a car, the second teammate sits behind the driving teammate. And in a taxi, both teammates are squashed together behind the taxi driver (the better to get both teammates in one shot!).

In addition to these two-man crews, there are also extra camera crews set up at the locations of the race tasks.

But you almost never see these crews on the show, thanks to their own skill, as well as the work of the Amazing Editors.

Oh and in the airports they would head to a counter and ask for 2 tickets. But in actual fact, that scene was reenacted. Teams actually have to buy FOUR tickets- 2 for themselves, and 2 for the production crew. Sometimes they get to fly together with Phil. And during flights if a team is delayed by the crew they will be given time credit.

As for the pit stops, I read that all the clues and pit stops are only placed when the production crew are told of a team's arrival. Once a team had to redo their checking in scene because when they had arrived at the pit stop the team had not.

Cool, eh? You should read this and this.
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Sunday, 25 October 2009
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Michael Jackson's This Is It is coming soon. Or is it here already? I'm not a Michael Jackson fan, so I don't really pay attention to news related to him.

Here's a tutorial by Corey Vidal on how to dance like MJ. His lesson includes the famous moonwalk.

He does point out that it is really hard to replicate the moonwalk exactly as it is as MJ's dance skills are superb.

Knock yourselves out.
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Saturday, 24 October 2009
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The second last week of classes just ended. Next week will be the final week, then it's exams.

But I feel relieved, for I have successfully completed ALL my assignments on time. Today after my presentation, not only did I breathe a sigh of relief that I've completed the presentation and came out fine, but also that I have officially no more deadlines. Now I can just focus on studying for my finals.

After class today a few of us went to Pyramid for a movie. Me, Dixie and Zanardy weren't in the mood so we gave it a skip. Instead we headed to Subway for lunch, and immediately followed it up with dessert at Krispy Kreme. We bought a dozen and shared. I think we had 6 doughnuts untouched.

But it was a nice outing. We managed to talk for a change instead of sitting in the cinema. We talked about our past and the future.

October is already coming to an end, and sadly I've not managed to even start on A Series of Unfortunate Events. Hopefully after the exams with so much time at my disposal I can turn to books and the TV and not use the Internet so often.

Last thing before I end: I find Wipeout a really funny show. Just seeing the contestants' antics on TV and how they fail in obstacles are awfully funny. And guess what? Wipeout Australia is now on AXN (Thursday nights with repeats on Friday evenings if you're wondering).
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Thursday, 22 October 2009
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I know I tried not to mention my assignments but I have to.

I have a presentation this Friday on my research. I'm actually nervous after seeing the guidelines. It doesn't look easy.

But it's Wednesday already, and I only have to last until the end of the week. Things are going out pretty okay.

After that I will have to study, study and study and pray that I do well enough in the finals.

This week has been rather relaxing for me. With most assignments done I don't really have much to do, so I got back to my routine of going to class and coming home after that.

Few days ago while reading a book, I came across one part where the character was said to be someone who is a planner. She has to have everything planned, everything organized. She found that out during a strengths quiz to find out which job is suitable for her. And it struck me that I too like to have things planned and organized, just take my recent organizer to complete my assignments. And it's worked out pretty well for me. I managed to complete my assignments, most of them ahead of the deadline so I don't have to do an all-nighter.

Anyway, that character was suitable for management. And she went into PR.

So maybe PR is the right job for me after all.
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Sunday, 18 October 2009
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It is so unbelievable that it is the second half of October already. It seemed like not too long ago that I started my 3rd semester, but that was in end July.

It is so unbelievable that I would complete my assignments on time. I thought I would not see the light of day.

It is so unbelievable that there is a high possibility I will be going overseas next year.

It is even more unbelievable that I'm already 18 years old.

My finals will be on the first week of November, which means I only have 2 more weeks left. But I am not dreading it. In fact, I'm very much looking forward to it. That's because this week will mean that all my assignments would be finished. I have 3 deadlines this week, the last one on Friday. After that, I will have no more assignments.

The finals will also mean that I have finished my foundation course. I am really, really looking forward to completing this course.

I am looking forward to relaxing at home, to spend the whole day at home doing nothing, to wake up whenever I want, to sleep 10 hours a day. I may not be as sleep deprived as some of my classmates but I still look forward to a break.

Have I mentioned that I love holidays? Ever since I was a kid I had enjoyed it. I know, everyone likes holidays but I think I like it too much for my own good. I would be excited one whole week, most of the time even earlier, when a long holiday's coming. And I would dread the end of holidays. Like now. I'm already looking forward to the holidays. Even more so since these past few weeks had been hectic.

And as I believe that we should all start the week on a good note, here's something to make you laugh.

Like it? Have a great week ahead of you!
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Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Looking Back

I realized that I have not updated for almost a week now.

What kept me so busy? Assignments. I seem to be filling my posts with mentions of assignments.

Today is the 14th day of October. In another 2 weeks or so I will be sitting for my finals, and thus ending my one year foundation course. Once again, time has showed that it is capable of moving so quickly.

This day one year ago, I had "retired" from prefects and was in the final stage of my school life - preparing for SPM. Classes were spent covering the last few sections of the textbook, tuition was dedicated to revisions and free time was spent either studying or something else at home. Everything slowed to a standstill.

How much life's changed for me.

The past 365 days had been pretty eye-opening. I had decided to enter a completely different field- communications. In school I was still studying about scientific facts, about the parts of a fish which I never could remember, about how to identify salts which was awfully tough to memorize and other stuff. But in college I was exposed to a whole new world- reality. I met all sorts of people in the past year, seen so many stuff that opened my eyes about the world.

No joke. My one year stint in the committee of prefects changed me, but this also did. Suddenly coming into college there were so many new things about the world I never knew.

I believe it is the same for all of us who left school, but we just don't realize it until we look back and reflect on it. I definitely am not the same person who entered primary school.

That song was Reflection by Christina Aguilera. A really deep and emotional song. It doesn't really fit into the post but I figured the title meant something.

That was last year when we were helping a teacher key in some details for some database. As we were not on duty anymore we felt the need to break the rules, hence we brought handphones. After years of conforming to the rules of the school it was definitely nice to be able to have the thrill to break them.

It was definitely a whole year of change.
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Friday, 9 October 2009
Lo and Behold!

I can't believe my lecturers are now telling us that the finals will be tough. I'm already under enough pressure, thank you. At least the textbook will be put to use again now.

Last Saturday I decided to give myself a break from assignments since I'm quite ahead of deadlines. On Sunday I again decided to give myself a break. And Monday as well.

The result? No I'm not in need to rush now. I'm still ahead of deadlines. The end result was, well, I was more relaxed. For the past few weeks I would even do my assignments on weekends, even if it was a sentence. It feels better when I know I've done something at least. But I just needed a break from it all. I spent my time watching the TV, using the Internet and reading. I have to say, it is definitely refreshing when you resume working after a break.

It even feels better when you're on track to finishing your assignments without having to rush. No late nights, no tension.

I even managed to watch Sorority Row with my friends. Everyone says it looks like this movie and that movie, and I've watched none of them. There were definitely moments which would make you go "what the...?", but there are also tense moments when you know a person's about to die, but you don't know when. Then, BOOM! The killer makes his move. And you scream.

But I didn't care much about whether the movie was good. It was just a break from assignments for me.

In college we can't copy each others' assignments as that would be plagiarizing, so we have work on our assignments alone, unless of course it's a group assignment. And I'm reminded of the time last year when I copied an assignment.

Okay I shall elaborate. Last year we were given Add Maths assignments to do. I wasn't in class when the teacher explained, so I didn't know what to do. Lame excuse, I know. But I was also busy with prefects, constantly missing class and procrastinating, and the deadline slipped from my mind. When the day arrived we begged for an extension. You know high school teachers. Beg and you'll get what you want... most of the time. Especially if the teacher likes you.

But I was still blur about the assignment, so I did the smart thing. I used the Internet. There were the full assignment for students to download, but somehow the teachers found out. So I resorted to copying my friend's. Really, I got the soft copy, and printed everything out. So for the assignment, I just printed it, and drew a few graphs on a graph paper.

3 of us handed in identical assignments, with identical mathematical values but with different graphs. And we got 3 different scores. Most would say it's due to the graphs, but I like to think that a) the teacher didn't notice or b) she was being kind.

But as I complete the first batch of assignments, the second batch has more or less arrived. We've received deadlines for the rest of our assignments. I would be extremely happy when I complete the course.

So all in all, last week was productive, and this week was refreshing. But now, I'm back to my assignments.
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Sunday, 4 October 2009
I'm On a Roll

Since EL asked me to put up the picture of the aforementioned creative letter to the editor by Lemony Snicket, I shall continue talking about ASOUE.

Lemony's real name is Daniel Handler. And apparently the series has won multiple awards.

Anyway, here's the scanned version of the letter to the editor:

Can you read what it says? I didn't wet the book, mind you. It was printed that way.

And speaking of Lemony's creativeness, here's part of the synopsis of the 10th book, The Slippery Slope:

Like handshakes, house pets, or raw carrots, many things are preferable when not slippery. Unfortunately, in this miserable volume, I am afraid that Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire run into more than their fair share of slipperiness during their harrowing journey up- and down- a range of strange and distressing mountains.

Unfortunately, I have dedicated my life to researching and recording the sad tale of the Baudelaire Orphans. There is no reason for you to dedicate yourself to such things, and you might instead dedicate yourself to letting this slippery book slip from your hands into a nearby trash receptacle, or deep pit.

Isn't it just creative how he manages to put those mentioning of slipperiness in it, when the title is The Slippery Slope? Oh and except the last book, which is The End, all the other titles are always named in 3 words, the something and something. And the two words' initials are always the same. Bad Beginning (B,B), Slippery Slope (S,S)...

As for Lemony's profile in the books, here's an example:

Until recently, Lemony Snicket was presumed to be "presumed dead". Instead, this "presumed" presumption wasn't disproved to not be incorrect. As he continues with his investigation, interest in the Baudelaire case has increased. So has his horror.

Yes, he can bring you around in circles that way. He is simply very good that way.

Okay enough about ASOUE. I have two videos to share.

The first is a banned MasterCard commercial. It's funny and really creative, no wonder it was banned.

Can you imagine a father who's so cool about it? And MasterCard's tagline's really good, "there are some things money can't buy. For everything else there's MasterCard.

Now the next video, is a banned New Moon trailer. I don't know why it was banned, so you'll just have to take a look for yourself.

I know I know, at the beginning you went "what the..?" before you either stopped watching or you continued because you were curious.

I'm supposed to be "busy with assignments" but because some deadlines were postponed and I realized I did quite a lot already so I'm giving myself a break.
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Friday, 2 October 2009
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Last year when I was studying for SPM, I was forcing myself to read book after book after book. So to de-stress I turned to the Internet.

This year is the other way round. Now with all the assignments piling up I seem to be using the computer a lot. And I'm reading to de-stress.

There was a period in my life when I read a lot. Losing myself in another place seemed like a very nice thing to do. But then life became more complicated and I read less books.

But now after hours of doing an assignment, all I want to do is to release all the tension and stress. Reading makes me forget about the day's stress, it calms my mind down and that makes it easier for me to fall asleep. It is truly a nice thing to do when you're stressed up. Reading makes everything slow down, and in our fast paced lives that's just what I need to calm down.

And the book? I chose Diana Wynne Jones's The Worlds of Chrestomanci. Truth be told my sister was the one who read the books but I think I ended up liking them more. It's basically about this world where magic is common, and there's this enchanter with nine lives by the title of Chrestomanci who is in charge of making sure magic is not misused.

To read them now is a different experience. I lose myself in the same world, but I also think back about my younger days, and all the nice memories then. It's really a wonderful experience, to think about how I was as a kid, and how much joy I had being in my own world. I think it also has to do with my possibly leaving next year. It would truly mean that I've grown up, but I don't want to.

Another series which I hope to be able to re-read is A Series of Unfortunate Events (ASOUE). That's another series that I enjoyed reading. It tells the story of 3 siblings whose parents were killed in a fire, who were then left in the care of a distant relative, who actually only wants their fortune. But they thwarted him, and as they changed guardians, he followed them.

The story is rather repetitive as their enemy always catches up to them, but there are a few reasons I enjoy reading this series. First, the way it's written. Lemony Snicket (pen name of the author) wrote it in a really interesting way- the omniscient point of view. But his prose, is just unique.

Then there's the mysteries. The whole tale is actually much darker than a series of books for children. There's secret societies, a schism, secret codes, etc. And everything has been very well planned. The whole story's been laid out when the first book (The Bad Beginning) was out.

But the most unique thing about the series was the creativity. Lemony Snicket is only a pen name, but it was never revealed in the books to be so. In fact, several characters in the book has the last name of Snicket. If I remember correctly Lemony Snicket was a brother to the siblings' friend, so it seemed as if the author is telling a real story.

And you know how at the back of the books there's a short synopsis? "A tale of epic adventure" and that sort of statement was the ones that are most often used. But ASOUE's synopsis goes something like this: "Dear reader, I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy". That's the first and last sentence of the first book's synopsis. The middle gives a slight appetizer of what's about to happen, in the same manner of writing ("In this short book alone the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast"). All the synopses encourage you to put the book down, but with that sort of catchy synopsis, I can't imagine who would.

Then at the end of each book, the author gives hints as to what happens in the next book. "To my kind editor, I am writing to you from the London branch of the Herpetological Society, ...". Basically the second book has something to do with it. But it always seems real, as, for example, when the next book had something to do with submarines, the letter would seem wet and torn. Really good marketing and creativity.

And his writing style is just as unique, let me assure you that.
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