Showing posts from 2002

The Truth About Charlie

Dir. Jonathan Demme, 2002 A French New Wave homage, full of frenetic hand-held work which at one point moved from cool Godard-style work to just headache-inducing. But awful charming, and I like its view of Paris, all seedy and multi-culti. Plus, Thandie Newton is incandescent.

Overrated and Underrated Lists, 2002

Overrated - mojitos, ___tinis, merlot - J-Lo's from-the-block cred - the supposed underratedness of rap-rock bands - Sam Mendes - Heath Ledger - Anthony Lane - "Road to Perdition", the movie - "Everyone Loves Raymond" - "Six Feet Under" - Scotland - Carrie - wins by starting pitchers - interleague baseball - the NBA salary cap - the amount of guilty pleasure one can derive from reality shows - the New York Times' liberal bias - William Safire - Cary Tennis as chronicler of generations - "I Don't Know How She Does It" - the hotness of the Bush twins - the freakiness of Bing-Bowie's "Little Drummer Boy" - politically incorrect humour - pronouncing 'Target' with a soft 'g' - spelling 'America' with any number of 'k's - Tom Tomorrow - China - "Best (or worst) lie I've ever told" - Simon Cowell's heartlessness - the staying power of "terror sex" - the sincerity of St

Long Live the Clash

R.I.P. Joe Strummer .

On the Condition of Music

Here's a good Chicago magazine piece about rock criticism. Mmm, Christgau worship. Speaking of which, here's my traditional end-of-year lists. Like Michael Kinsley, I could never be a completist - we only have so much time, and I can't devote as much of it to listening as I did back in college days. And I don't get promos all the time anymore! So I admit I still haven't got round to listening to the Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots or David Gray's A New Day At Midnight . But of what I did get to hear this year, this is what moved me: Singles of 2002: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Bang". "As a fuck, son, you sucked". Six words. Sex hurts. Missy Elliott "Work It". With a ridiculously catchy hook that proved impossible to decipher - until some research pointed out that it was just a flipped-and-reversed version of the previous line. Backward masking lives, and takes centre stage. Tweet "Oops (Oh My)". Drips s
Triangulation Are people the sum of their mailing lists? What would your picture of me be if all you knew was that these were the lists I'm subscribed to? Bar None The Civic Strategies E-letter Defected News The Economist : World This Week The Emerald Hill Group The Fiver (from Football Unlimited) The Foreign Exchange Fox Searchlight Pictures The Harvard Crimson Weekly E-Digest Juice Weekly Update Media Bistro Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day's Movie Update newsletter Other Music The Plain English Campaign planetdream Provignage Random Thoughts SEconomicsRJC SG News Bites Television Without Pity TransAtlantic: The Atlantic Online What's New Writers' Market ZoukEflyer
Downtown Someone squash the Ketchup Song. Please. Anyway, so I'm back from Kuala Lumpur. Ethical dilemma: so DVD piracy is rampant in Malaysia and you can get most movies there - even the latest ones like Solaris, which hasn't even come to the screens around here - for about RM10 (roughly S$5 or US$3). This is intellectual theft, of course. But at the same time, it's often the only source of indie films in the region - films like Auto Focus or The Rules of Attraction (Dawson as psychopath!) probably won't make it to the cineplexes or the video store. Or they'll play the film fest circuit, which means I'll have to wait till next year. Oh, I know it's economics - the Picturehouse, my city's attempt at an arthouse cinema, had to shut down eventually. But it still creates a moral morass. And don't even get me started on censorship... Sometimes what worries me is that people who seem to want to create that feeling of excitement (I hesitate

Born in the USA?

I continue to be fascinated with the topic of how Americans perceive their countries of ethnic origin, regardless of how far in the past that origin was: how the Irish-Americans in Boston, for instance, find those new 20-something Irish migrants odd because these young Irish people don't come from a land of poverty and of agriculture, but from a dynamic economy that's very urban. (See the entry for " Foreign-Born Irish " in this Southie slang guide.) That was the redeeming part of The Guru, that Jim Mistry-Heather Graham film, for me I think: I liked how the Americans kept insisting on the Indian's mysticism, when really he was brought up on Grease .

Debunking fake Weezer songs

I love websites that exist for the purpose of debunking. Here's =W=/Not =W= a site that points out all the fake Weezer songs lying around the file-sharing services. I don't know which I think is worse, ignorance (people who throw a Weezer tag onto random songs) or duplicity (obscure garage bands who tag their songs as Weezer ones).

Crimson Arts and Magazine

So The Harvard Crimson merged the Arts section back into the magazine (FM) section. Sigh. It was a good run while it lasted. I always thought one of the great things about the Crimson was that it could maintain separate Arts and Magazine sections. Look at the New York Times home page - which comes first? But of course I'm biased!

Loves of the moment

Sarah Silverman; Woody Allen as standup comic; Julie Christie; Michael Caine; Josie Lawrence and Tony Slattery on Whose Line Is It Anyway?; Paul Krassner, as always; "lay me down in sheets of linen"; the reappearance of David Byrne; old Black Box Recorder; Ryan Adams singing Gram Parsons; the White Stripes.

Pet peeves about Singaporean English

Lots of peeves people have about English as it's written and spoken on this fair isle are fairly common. and fairly well-known. Some bother me (using "would" instead of "will" - ugh!) and some don't (the inability to pronounce either of the "th" sounds). But these are my own peeves, or at least ones I haven't heard anyone else complain about yet: 1. Using "filial" to mean "loyal or devoted to the family". Look, the word means "familial". A son could beat up his parents and his relationship to his parents would still be filial, at least until they disown him for beating them up. In the phrase "filial piety" the word that means loyalty is "piety". 2. Using "911" to refer to September 11. A peeve that reflects the former copy editor in me I guess. In the first place, Singaporeans have always followed the British style of date/month not the American month/date. More importantly, wher

Left Hand Drive

So I've been laid up with commitments over the last month and a half, which was topped off by the fact that I got my knuckle broken (my 2nd metacarpal , for the anatomically-inclined). AND THAT'S MY EXCUSE! But seriously, adult-onset left-handedness has been an interesting experience for me. :) Especially since before all this happened I was working on a story about a right-handed boy who wanted to pitch left-handed. The 'technical' term for this is a " boxer's fracture " - which pretty much describes what happened, I punched my spaaring partner as he kicked and broke my hand.

Orthography, or, Fowler is my idol

Does anyone else get upset that there's a major building in Singapore named Millenia Walk? Has someone done ever pointed out that there should be two "N"s in the name?


Also, I love this - quoted in the same context as Nabokov on the syllabus to an Austen course ! Thanks, of course, to subscribing to an Austen e-mail list about 6 years ago. Not claiming any literary genius for myself.

World Cup 2002 Thoughts. How Original.

Just watched England beat Argentina with a lovely (or at least adequate) display... takes me back to being in that pub in Chester in '98, Beckham being sent off, Batty missing the kick, grown men crying on the streets of the town. The emotional intensity of that evening I suppose is adequate justification for supporting England, besides my usual predilection for supporting decent underdogs - i.e. teams that are good enough but never quite go all the way. Like the Sox . Some talk here in S'pore about the Asian Football Confederation (I think that's the right name) wants to push for a fifth place for an Asian side. It's already in the works methinks - taking away the automatic qualification for a defending champion is just Fifa's way of transferring a place from Europe/South America to Africa/Asia. Me, I'd rather keep the system until it's clear that Asian teams are capable enough. Some of the Chinese nationals in Singapore gathered to watch their team'

Movie Music

An old post from my old home page: Best soundtrack ever: you know, Saturday Night Fever is pretty damn good, and i'm not sure whether i'll pick Superfly over it. i suppose if i were seeking to maintain cred, i would, but the five-song run that is "Stayin' Alive" / "How Deep Is Your Love" / "Night Fever" / "More Than a Woman" / "If I Can't Have You" is hard to argue with. and i have a tendency to think that songs made for dancing get the short end of the stick, so i'll vote for them. and now that i've had the time to think about soundtracks, here's my long list of the great and the good, assuming a pop-rock vein and excluding musicals, which takes out Grease unfortunately (i can't comment on scores, although i do enjoy Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" from The Sting , and I love Lalo Schifrin and Ennio Morricone and Italian B-movie soundtracks in general): original composition, a


I can't believe I watched Spider-Man twice in one week. But it was way more fun than an event movie has any right to be, which seems to prove to me that the smart thing to do is not throw $25 million at Arnold and instead spread the wealth on solid character actors. That scene where Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane has just kissed Spiderman and he's shunting off somewhere is just so good - you can see her girlish excitement at this new guy in her life. As is the slightly teasing tone in Tobey Maguire's voice when he drops her off and identifies himself as "your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man". It's interesting to see the parallels to "Smallville" - geeky teenager trying to get a handle on his new superpowers, awkward relationship to the girl, etc etc. Part of the reason I saw the movie twice, admittedly, was to avoid watching Attack of the Clones . So I'm a comic-book geek who doesn't like Star Wars . Is that rare? I even wanted to cheer at

Did I slip? I know I stumbled

All right, this statement reps my first step into blogging, which means I've run out of time to nicely format my own HTML just for my thoughts. Such a pity.