Showing posts from December, 2005

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I tend to be a bit of an obsessive with music collecting, to say the least, so there's quite a bit of junk in my MP3 collection since I won't delete songs. But for once, I decided to let my iTunes play on without skipping through any songs. The first 10 songs of 2006: The Postal Service, "Such Great Heights" The Monkees, "Theme to the Monkees" Soundhog "One Phat Breeder (ATFC vs the Breeders)" Sandy Denny "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" Les Nubians "Makeda" Blur "No Distance Left to Run" Heather Nova "I'm On Fire (live)" (yeah, a cover of the Springsteen song) Aretha Franklin "Walk on By" Zero 7, "Destiny" (man, what a great chillout song) William DeVaughn, "Be Thankful For What You Got" Be thankful for what you got: as good a motto for 2006 as any. Here's wishing everybody boldness and serenity in the new year.

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

There are many Christmas songs, but only very few really great new year's songs, in my opinion... one of my favourites is "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?", of which I'm currently listening to the Rufus Wainwright version . The song's lyrics of hope mixed with longing are a good match for his plaintive voice, I think. Ooh, but in case I stand one little chance Here comes the jackpot question in advance: What are you doing New Year's New Year's Eve? So - to everyone I know, and to all readers of, here's to a great 2006. And on 2005: for surprise calls, for stunning connections, for restoration - thank you.

Linksfest: Cute Overload

Puppy pic above taken from Cute Overload! ;) 43 is the largest non- McNugget number . Why Sean Lennon is single . Well, besides that, as noted, any woman dating him would face a crazy mother-in-law. I love Miffy. Always reminds me of being a little kid in the old National Library at Stamford Road. So nice to see that Miffy - well, the work of Dick Bruna, who created Miffy - is being shown in museums .

Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine" is a gem of a song, finished two years ago and shelved by Sony but finally seeing the light of day after numerous Internet leaks. The song is the soundtrack to the cracked house of mirrors that is a broken relationship - yeah, the ghost of Apple's breakup with PT Anderson haunts the song, apparently. And Apple's smoky-voiced defiance about criticisms match perfectly the lyrics defending her personality and who she is: I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day You deem me due to clean my view and be at piece and lay I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and say I've been getting along for long before you came into the play Rhymes and circus chords stalk "Extraordinary Machine", imbuing it with a menacing I'll-show-you lilt. It's a stunning return to recording for the kohl-eyed musician, and an extraordinary machine of a song.

More Christmas music

Because being a media monopolist ain't easy, I just repeat content from my arts blog to here and back. So here's the two little girls of ShiSho , with " Get Behind Me Santa ". Check out their cover! (Thanks to Indie MP3 for pointing it out...) Or you can always go for a few dozen cover versions of "Last Christmas" over at Copy, Right? Does not include the Jimmy Eat World one. This year, to save me from tears - I'll give it to someone special.

God bless Mother Nature

So yesterday, shopping for books at Borders, someone walked by me talking loudly on his mobile, going "It's raining man! It's raining man!" Very tempted to respond with a "Hallelujah!"

The Earth From Above photo exhibition

Now that I'm back in Singapore, I've finally made it to the Earth From Above outdoor photo exhibition, featuring these glorious photos by Yann Arthus-Bertrand . Well, I got to see half of it, anyway, before the rain started Pouring From Above and I had to take shelter - will return for the other half soon. Took some shots to remember the exhbition by (a meta-photo, I suppose, since I was photographing a photo), but the prints really have to be seen in their full size and glory. This is the Folgefonni Glacier in Norway, which sadly, like other glaciers around the world, is melting in part due to climate change. My Flickr set of the exhibition - the unfortunate bright white circle in all my shots is of course the light used to illuminate the prints. Technorati Tags: photography , earth , environment

Tech geekery: my PDA gets updated

Just bought a Palm TX , since my Zire 71 kept losing all its data no thanks to its battery running out. Great stuff - on the design side, the huge screen is really clear, I like the feel and response of the stylus, and the steel blue colour is sleek. On the features side, the fact that it had Wi-Fi was the selling point, but now I've come to really appreciate syncing the thing through Bluetooth. Mmm.

Zoe Heller, Notes on a Scandal

Just finished reading Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal , which I picked up because, I admit, the blurb featured some hyperbolic praise comparing the work to that of Amis or McEwan and the first chapter was compelling. Yeah, the blurb wasn't even from a review, just advance praise from Edmund White, but hey, I was looking around in the library for something to read. The book was, it turns out, nominated for a Booker the year Vernon God Little won, so it's good to know that at least I have a decent publishing-industry eye. (Presumably, the paperback version would have included the lavish praise of reviewers.) Notes on a Scandal is the tale of Sheba Hart (short for Bathsheba, and that adulterous name will portend something), an English schoolteacher who has an affair with a student, told through the eyes of her friend and fellow teacher Barbara Covett, a sixtysomething-year-old single teacher, the very stereotype of the aging spinster (she even lives with her cat). What Hel

Tom Hunter

I've been quite taken by the works of Tom Hunter being displayed at the National Gallery in London that I'm seeing online. The BBC has an online gallery - I thought " Rat in Bed " looked lovely, and the obvious parallels between " Ye Olde Axe " (2002) and Diego Velazquez's classic sole surviving nude the " Rokeby Venus " (1647-51) are fascinating. (Come to think of it, Velazquez was under the patronage of Philip IV, although sadly my memories of 17th-century Spanish history, once fortified by A-level history, have faded to the point that I don't really remember much of Philip IV's rain except for his patronage of Velazquez and the fact that Olivares basically ran everything.).

Tsunami memorial

One year ago, the Boxing Day tsunami , one of the worst natural disasters ever, hit this region - to all affected, we remember.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Christmas surprises can be wonderful sometimes.

Fifteen Songs of 2005

Just thinking back on the new songs that moved me in 2005 - which doesn't necessarily correspond to a best-of, since sometimes for whatever reasons you can intellectually recognise the quality of a song and see why it speaks to everyone else and still not have it say anything to you. Keeping the list short at 15 songs, in alphabetical order and with links to legit downloads where available: Antony & the Johnsons, "Hope There's Someone". There's something about that quiet piano and this former drag queen's falsetto. The Arcade Fire, "Rebellion (Lies)". It was a 2004 release in the US, I suppose, but man, the more I listen to them the greater they sound. And they were the song of one of my best musical moments of the year . If not for Feist, "sleeping is giving in" would be my favourite lyric of the year. Also, props for "Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)" and "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)" (both of which can be downloade

The Christmas Mix

A Christmas playlist, based on a mix I made for someone, but with slight modifications: Diana Krall, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Nat 'King' Cole, "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" Eartha Kitt, "Santa Baby" Tom Jones and Cerys, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Macy Gray, "Winter Wonderland" Olivia Olson, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" Jimmy Eat World, "Last Christmas" Weezer, "The Christmas Song" Edward Elgar, "Snow" Frank Sinatra, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" Joni Mitchell, "River" Harry Connick Jr., "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, one and all.

Palais des Congres

Speaking of photos, here's one I took from inside the Palais des Congres in Montreal. Thought the colour effects were pretty interesting. Technorati Tags: montreal , photography

Linksfest: Photo Ops

Punk photographer Andy Rosen puts up his pics on Flickr . Album covers from the Jam, a whole Clash set - frankly, the collection is pretty amazing. Heidi Klum and Seal's baby is frankly quite ugly . The best one can say about Paolo Di Canio's "I am not a racist, I am a fascist" defence of his one-armed salute gesture is that it's original, I suppose. I love cryptic crosswords - got hooked on them back in the day when the New Yorker carried them. The Guardian one is really quite fun, and now the editor Hugh Stephenson has a little article on how to solve them . Online art photography magazine 's 9th issue is out, and I do like the "Twos and Threes" set by Jesse Chehak . Technorati Tags: photography , football , crosswords


Back from a sojourn into the wilderness of Singapore aka standard army reserve commitments. Because lately poems have been running through my head, here's another favourite one of mine, from Neruda, all intensity and passion. Love Sonnet XI I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair. Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets. Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps. I hunger for your sleek laugh, your hands the color of a savage harvest, hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails, I want to eat your skin like a whole almond. I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body, the sovereign nose of your arrogant face, I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes, and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight, hunting for you, for your hot heart, like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue. ( Link ) Happy holidays to one and all. I wish for everyone that hunger.

Just in time

And to cap off 2005, a song: Just in time you've found me just in time Before you came my time was running low I was lost the losing dice were tossed My bridges all were crossed nowhere to go Now you hear now I know just where I'm going No more doubt of fear I've found my way For love came just in time you've found me just in time And changed my lonely nights that lucky day - Nina Simone, "Just in Time"

Musee des Beaux Arts, Montreal

"About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters; how well, they understood Its human position" - W.H. Auden, "Musee des Beaux Arts" It was a cold, bitter Sunday; December in Montreal, wind biting with snap as I wended my way through the city, stopping at Eggspectation for breakfast (oeufs, avec viande - or something, my French is rudimentary), picking up DVDs at HMV, letting the wind whip me as I wandered through the McGill campus, then finally heading to the Musee des Beaux Arts when it opened. Impossible not to think of the Auden poem when I hear that name, I suppose - and something about the diminuition of the extraordinary in that poem - the sense that suffering happens, but life proceeds apace - matched that day's heavy heart. *** The Musee des Beaux Arts is a good museum - spotted some fine works by Rembrandt and Pieter Bruegel the Younger (which, come to think about it, is a fact that ties in nicely with the Auden poem, which is about the elder

6 months on

"Last night. Okay. Six months from last night. December sixteenth, six o'clock in the evening, track eleven. It's a train ride for you, but I got to fly over. But hey, I'll be here." - Jesse, in Before Sunrise So, it's December 16 - which is the date the lovers were supposed to have met, 6 months later, by the end of Before Sunrise . And, totally unplanned, I spent part of today reading my newly-acquired screenplays for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset , which I suspect is one of the wisest films on relationships ever made. Before Sunset is optimistic in the best of all ways: knowing about the ravages of time, knowing about constraints, knowing about all the flaws in each other and still the lovers continue their conversations, this time knowing what a precious thing they had years ago, and then come the extraordinary, intense scenes at the end where Celine and Jesse discuss their respective troubled relationships... While I thought Before Sunrise was a gr

Because it is bitter, and because it is my heart

Because sometimes news items make me think of poetry: here's a news story on a forlorn lover leaving a ring for someone else . In the desert I saw a creature, naked, bestial, who, squatting upon the ground, Held his heart in his hands, And ate of it. I said, "Is it good, friend?" "It is bitter - bitter," he answered; "But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart." - Stephen Crane, from "The Black Riders" And because I like juxtaposition: above is a photo of Jim Dine's "Twin 6' Hearts", a work in bronze from the Montreal Musee des Beaux Arts (of which I'll say more another day).

Montreal memories: Canadian Content

My best Canadian music experience: sitting in the computer room of the Palais des Congres convention centre, the girl opposite me suddenly started playing local band the Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)" on her laptop. Which I started nodding my head along to ("sleeping is giving in" is such a good line). So she goes - "oh do you like that song?"And I said yeah - I had the song with me. And then the guy next to me went, "oh I have that song on my computer too". And then the other girl opposite me was like "oh yeah so do I". So we tried playing the same song on 4 machines at the same time. As an effort in coordination it was a failure - seriously ugly phasing effects - but as a shared musical moment it was great. Four people, three countries (Canada, America, Singapore), one song. People try and hide the light / Underneath the covers. Come on hide your lovers / Underneath the covers...

Montreal memories: the worst advertising ever

You know, one could wax lyrical about walking down Rue St Denis and crate-digging in used-record stores (picked up a copy of Supremes A' Go-Go , which, naturally, is out of print on vinyl ) and eating crepes and the temptations of music and DVDs at Archambault . But that's easy enough. So over the next few days I'll run through my top Montreal memories, starting with this one: Was walking down Rue St Catherine late at night, trying to grab a late dinner (ate at Reuben's in the end), when, walking by one of Montreal's numerous strip clubs, this guy hands me a flyer. I go "no thank you", and the guy goes "it's really good - my sister works there". Now, I can't say I've heard many advertisements for strip clubs in my life, but that has to be among the worst pitches possible.

Carbon offsets

I don't often talk about work (for the same reasons most bloggers don't ever talk about work), but I suppose it's no secret that I handle climate change issues. So, as a purely personal decision, I decided to purchase some carbon dioxide offsets from Climate Care to make up for the carbon dioxide emissions from my taking a Singapore-London-Montreal flight. Which means some of my money has gone towards sustainable energy and reforestation projects. That's my little bit of save-the-planet encouragement for you all. And probably one of the few references I'll make to work. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Technorati Tags: climate change , environment , global warming

Linksfest: Drink Canada Dry

Back in Singapore, and will be off to reservist training tomorrow. So, some quick links to keep all entertained: The Shining as feel-good flick of the summer (requires QuickTime) Sarah Silverman sings "Give the Jew Girl Toys" While He-Man sings Four Non Blondes . A transcript of Eddie Izzard's classic standup bit Dressed to Kill Le Front de Libération des Nains de Jardins

Winter focus

The bitter cold has a funny way of focusing the mind - for four years I griped through winters in Boston, but here in Montreal I've come to realise I may hate the cold, I may get depressed by it, but it creates a clarity of mind in me. Today I walked through the hustle of Quartier Chinois, down the cobblestoned streets of Vieux Montreal, trudged along till snow snuck swimming into my shoes and my face felt about to be sloughed off, sheared by the wind. But what one learns about oneself sometimes is pretty priceless. Then a nip and tuck into Aix , where I treated myself to foie gras and pecan. Because I know a good restaurant when I see one, and life's too short not to do right by yourself.

Dream deferred

Was speaking to some colleagues here in Montreal yesterday, and one of them remarked about me, "you're the kind of guy who won't do something to wrong yourself" (okay, I'm translating from the Mandarin) - which was in line with questions on Paths in Life that have been playing in my head the last couple of days. Questions which revolve on what, for me, is a central concern: how does one live a life without regret? *** Regarding those Big Questions, I shared with the Girlfriend the following, one of my favourite Langston Hughes poems: What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? *** And now, a sample of lyrics of songs I've been singing to myself, because, what the hell, I'll be 18 again and write out lyrics for the sake of writing out lyrics: still there&