Month: January 2013

Taylor Swift: Red

Taylor Swift became a household name that one fateful night at the MTV Video Music Awards when Kanye West interrupted her speech. Since then, she’s been unstoppable with endless awards and record sales. Her latest CD…

Album: Red
Artist: Taylor Swift
Genre: Pop, Rock, Country
Release Date: October 22, 2012
Track List:

01 State of Grace
02 Red
03 Treacherous
04 I Knew You Were Trouble
05 All Too Well
06 22
07 I Almost Do
08 We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
09 Stay Stay Stay
10 The Last Time
11 Holy Ground
12 Sad Beautiful Tragic
13 The Lucky One
14 Everything Has Changed
15 Starlight
16 Begin Again

Accolades: Red spent six weeks atop Billboard 200, making Swift the first artist in 43 years since The Beatles to log six weeks atop Billboard 200 with three consecutive studio albums.

Purchase Red: Audio CD | MP3 [+digital booklet]

He Said
I was shocked when I heard the first single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” on the radio. It felt like a giant step backwards from the very delightfully mature-sounding “Safe and Sound” (from The Hunger Games movie) and Speak Now album. It sounded childish and the lyrics were worse than the days in which Swift sang about fairytales and princesses (ala Fearless). I kind of hated Red the first time I listened to it. I skipped through most of the songs after sampling them and felt none were memorable. I concluded that Swift had diverged from her roots and became a pop star who used autotune and synthetic instruments.

It wasn’t until I heard a cover of “Red” on YouTube (thanks to Nhi’s subscriptions) that I decided to give the album another chance. With more patience and a closer ear this time around, I felt like I was listening to a different album. While the songs on Red are not as meaningful or memorable as some of Swift’s past works, they are nevertheless catchy, addictive, and rather fun.

She Said
I was very critical when I first listened to Red. I basically skipped every song after 30 seconds since I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t give Taylor a fair chance. So I had a second listening, which went much better. I still have my reservations, however, and won’t give it a glowing review. While there was musical diversity, her lyrics lack the maturity seen in Speak Now. Overall, Red is a forgettable album with only a few good hits.

We Say
Red is a departure both musically and lyrically from Taylor Swift’s past records. These songs are not country with a very pop twist. They are pop songs from a singer who formerly sold herself as a country artist. Bottom line is that Red is “different”, but if you give it some time, you may like what you hear.

How to Score and Ace an Interview

Whether you’re graduating or changing your career trajectory, preparing a CV and interviewing are in your near future. The application and interview processes can be stressful, hectic, and downright scary. It is never too early to begin the preparation.

For the CV/resume:
– Have your name be prominent on the first page and have a footer (or header) with your name, page number, and total page count (in case your CV gets lost or misplaced).
– Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Formatting should be consistent throughout. The layout should be clean and easy to read with information readily identifiable.
– Experiences should be listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first).
– Use active words.
– Be able to elaborate and explain everything that you include on your CV. If you have forgotten the details, it is better to not include it.
For an example, view Nhi’s (academia) or Thanh’s (health professional) CV.

For the cover letter:
– Address it to a specific person. You should know who the person in charge of the hiring and/or admission committee is.
– Explain your interest and why you would be a good fit with concrete examples. Also explain why they (the job/program) would be a good fit for you.
– Always end the letter with confidence by stating, “I look forward to the opportunity to interview with you.” Never say you hope or wish.
For more details on how to write a cover letter, read Thanh’s example and tips.

Interview Etiquettes:
– It is beter to overdress than underdress. Wear suits and black shoes. For females, do not wear heels higher than two inches. Wear light makeup and do not experiment with new eyeshadow colors.
– No cologne or perfume. You never know if someone is allergic to your scent or if it evokes bad memories in others (i.e. you’re smelling like someone’s ex).
– Cellphone off. No gum.
– Be early. If you are running late, let your interviewers know right away.
– Shake hands firmly. Maintain good posture and eye contact throughout the interview. Never slouch.
– Send a thank you card the very same day. Make sure each letter is unique and makes reference to a specific conversation point you had with that person. Generic letters lack sincerity and may annoy the interviewer. It is your last chance to make a (good) impression. Also, use this correspondence as an opportunity to revisit weak areas of your interview (if applicable).

Interview Preparation:
– Thoroughly research the program/company and your potential future colleagues/professors. Get a good sense of their background and be familiar with them. Nothing irritates an interviewer more than an ignorant candidate.
– Always try to hold a conversation when possible. This allows your personality to shine. If you got an interview offer, this means they already know you have the credentials. What they want to see is your personality and how well you would fit in.
– When answering questions, make sure to state specific supporting examples. It is best to always have some stories of your conflicts/struggles (and more importantly how you handled and resolved them) in your back pocket.
– Always ask the interviewer at least 1 good, well-thought out question that is pertinent when prompted.
– End the interview by thanking interviewers for their time. Remember that the interview is not over until you are in your car/home. They can and will judge you at any time so always present your best self.

Top 5 Interview Questions:
1) Tell me about yourself.
– This is not the time to disclose personal details. Instead, discuss your education background, relevant experience, and professional goals.
2) What are your strengths and weaknesses?
– Always spin your weakness into strengths or list ways in which you are working to improve your weaknesses.
3) Where do you see yourself in ten years?
– Your answer should convey advancement in the field and align with the company’s/program’s goals.
4) Tell me about a time you had a conflict and how did you resolve it?
– Be concrete with your example. Avoid personal conflicts. You can relate to school or previous work experience. Conclude your story not only with how you resolved the conflict but also what you learned through that experience.
5) Do you have questions for me?
– Always have at least three questions prepared! Try not to ask yes/no questions.

We Say
Have confidence. The following adage is cliched, but so true: if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Just make sure you do your homework and prepare and practice so you can present your best self. It doesn’t hurt to have a mock interview with a friend and record your performance to see where you did well or poorly and improve accordingly. Best of luck to you!

A New Beginning

They say that two heads are better than one. Not only do we have two heads, but also two very opinionated minds. This blog is a shared collection of thoughts we formed as we go through our daily lives.

Need to find a good movie? Want to know where to go? Got an iPad and need good apps? Hungry and in need of food ideas? Answers to those questions and much, much more will be found at this blog. We will review things we have tried, watched, used, or eaten. We will share our advice and tips on various topics based on our own life experiences and the places we traveled to.

Why be limited to one voice when you can get two here? We hope you will Consult the Couple and also share what you have to say!

Movie Review: Life of Pi

Title: Life of Pi
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Adil Hussain, Gerard Depardieu, Rafe Spall
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Running Time: 127 minutes
Accolades: Oscars for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score; Golden Globes for Best Original Score
Purchase Life of Pi: Paperback | DVD | Blu-ray

Based on Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi tells a story of a heroic adventure striving for survival.

He Said
Having not read the novel and only having seen the ambiguous trailer, I had no idea what Life of Pi would be about. Cut to an hour later into the movie? I still had no clue! The plot felt long-winded and disengaging. I didn’t understand what the “point” of the movie was (and still don’t get it). Cinematically it was stunning with gorgeous shots of landscapes and animals, but it did not provide captivating 3-D effects as it promised. To this day, 2009’s Avatar remains the only movie to deliver an impressive 3-D experience worthy of the higher ticket price. Life of Pi left me feeling cold and simply… bored.

She Said
Having read the book and being a fan of Ang Lee, I came into the theater with my 3D glasses and great expectations. I expected a cinematographic feast and a powerful storytelling. The introduction certainly delivered with its beautiful images of India. But the only other impression I got was fear, witnessing the violent images of a tiger attacking a skinny teenager. The motion picture fell short of the adventurous journey, almost fantastical and biblical, as described by Martel.

We Say
Ineffective and forgettable. Read the book and let your imagination soar instead.