Showing posts from February, 2006

Let us go then, you and I

Random quick thought: the Italian equivalent of "pottering around" is "dolce far niente" - "sweet doing-nothing". Far more poetic a thing to be doing.

Brokeback Mountain

Dir. Ang Lee Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway To begin with: Brokeback Mountain isn't a gay cowboy movie. The lead characters herd sheep, ergo it's perhaps more accurately termed a gay shepherd movie. But that common shorthand for the movie says a lot about our icons of masculinity and the extent to which we start off viewing Brokeback through that specific lens, before the film engrosses you in its great tragic love story. The plot, for those as yet unaware, involves Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), a pair of young men - the former a ranch hand, the latter a rodeo cowboy - who work one summer on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming, and end up falling in love. But this being 1963 and this being backwoods America, neither of them know what to do with this profound love; instead, they return to their lives and settle into marriages, but carry on meeting back at Brokeback on 'fishing trips'. It's not so much that

Struck Toto again

Wahey! Clearing out my room today, I looked at the Chinese New Year Toto (lottery) ticket that I'd bought, and was about to put it in the recycling when I looked at the numbers again and realised that I'd won $20. Hey, not a bad return for a spur-of-the-moment investment. And that's two years in a row I've won .

My Late 20s

Ah, my 28th birthday. I had a couple of very pleasant surprises, including this lovely classic bouquet that arrived at my door: Then I had a huge dinner with the 'rents at Mamma Lucia Churrascaria, which had incredible tender cuts of meat fit for an aging carnivore like myself. (I'm too lazy to write a review, so I'll just link to the Travelling Hungryboy's one .) Then I hit my friend Maryanne's party - ah, the good thing about having a friend with the same birthday is not having to organise things. All in all, a good 24 Feb . Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes!

My Age 27 Season

Those of you who follow baseball might know of the phenomenon of the "age 27 season", where a baseball player reaches the age of 27 and suddenly he blossoms. Presumably that's the age where you learn enough about the sport's intricacies and where you acquire wisdom, while your body remains strong enough to really take advantage of what you know. My own age 27 season started off haltingly, but it did hit quite a few peaks as the season went on: I moved into a field which I really enjoyed, I got some stuff published, this site took off as did, and most of all - well, most of all I found out just how much was left in this overcaffeinated heart. And on the last day of the season - I'm just keeping my fingers crossed.

Linksfest: Find a theme, because I can't

On the use of Popperian philosophy in discussions of science What the hell was Ron Jeremy doing at the Asian Excellence Awards ? Using hip-hop to help learn SAT vocabulary words ("flocabulary") - useful? Or naff? The Electric Company is released on DVD .

Headlines - Man Shot By Cheney Leaving Hospital

The compressed grammar of headlines can create weird misunderstandings, such as in the case of this one from the AP: "Man Shot by Cheney Leaving Hospital" . Man - it's bad enough that Cheney put the man in, now he gets him when he's leaving. "I told you to stay inside!" All Cheney jokes, all the time , including this one from Steve Martin: Vice-president Dick Cheney, while hunting wild geese in the Rose Garden, accidentally shot President Bush twice, once in the heart and once in the head. 'I didn't really shoot the president twice,' said Cheney. 'The second time I shot him, I was president."'

Johari Window, or, How Do You See Me?

Meanwhile, ngader informs me of the online Johari Window for personality awareness... so for those of you that know me (on and off line) here's mine to fill in - always interesting to see how one is perceived . Thus far, apparently, "witty" seems to be the leading quality... Okay, it's navel gazing... but this time you get to gaze at my navel. Okay, this metaphor definitely has its limitations.

Date Movie and bad reviews

There's a certain pleasure in reading reviews of very bad movies - everyone can gush, but good sniping is great when it's unleashed. Here's an excerpt from the Film Threat one on Date Movie : 1) – The world is in worse shape than I’d previously thought, if people are so starved for laughs they’ll yuck it up for a chick in a fatsuit dancing to “Milkshake” by Kelis. And not just a snippet; the whole freaking song. 2) – The American moviegoing audience is, by and large, made up of deranged howler monkeys. ( Link ) Meanwhile, the general gist of all the reviews of the movie on Rotten Tomatoes seems to be "contender for worst movie of 2006".

Cover versions that I'm listening to

Because if you know me, you know I like eclectic covers. So here's my top 10 of the last month: José González singing Kylie Minogue's "Hand On Your Heart" , which I think is great. (Thanks NPR!) Seems like something only a European indie singer would do - do Americans even know the early oeuvre of just-out-of-"Neighbours" Kylie? Ah, the days of Stock Aitken and Waterman . Scissor Sisters' version of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out". Bringing out the lounge essence of the song. Ryan Adams finally deigning to do Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" (after famously getting into a snit about the Bryan/Ryan Adams confusion ) (gets in a nice snipe at Bryan: "There was no way that he wrote that song / Motherfucker's only 53") Cat Power and Karen Elson, "I Love You (Me Either)" - an English version of Serge Gainsbourg's incredibly louche "Je T'aime Moi... Non Plus" - still with heavy bre

Who do you look like?

Playing around with the MyHeritage " which celebrity do you resemble " site, I got the following matches for 2 different pictures I put in: Yao Ming 59% Luciano Pavarotti 51% David Lloyd George 50% Francois Mauriac 63% Ralf Schumacher 63% Al Pacino 58% Hmm. Apparently I've got the "must have been famous for being talented, because he sure ain't a looker" category all sewn up. But on the bright side, apparently I can act, sing, write, drive, lead a country, and shoot hoop. Of course, the software also threw up Tupac Shakur as one of my matches, so I'm, shall I say, not too convinced of its quality.

Dick Cheney: How I Could Just Shoot a Man

Hmm, I've read two references to Aaron Burr in two days - isn't it weird when some random thing gets repeated? First, the Chronic of Narnia SNL video ("Call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons"), which proves that, even when it's largely dreck, SNL every now and then comes up with a gem. And then Dick Cheney shoots a man, leading to this droll quote from the Washington Post's White House reporter Peter Baker: Asked if knew of any other vice president shooting a man, Baker replied: "Obviously there was Aaron Burr shooting Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804, but that was actually intentional and in that case the victim died." Also found the "West Coast response" to the Narnia rap , and found that an old colleague Adam Stein was in it (together with Mark "Practical Magic" Feuerstein) - one of those "Where are they now?" moments.

Keep that breathless charm

Some day, when I'm awfully low, When the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of you And the way you look tonight.

Linksfest: Chocolate

The concept of terroir as it applies to chocolate . Pete Doherty writes from prison . (His take on Louis Armstrong: "I see my true love / On a Rimmel advert") How to buy an Oscar . Chris Mooney maintains a good blog on the intersection of science and politics at the Intersection .

That pesky meme

Sorry to whoever tagged me... I've been busy, yeah. But here goes. 4 jobs you've had in your life Travel writer (amazing job) Research assistant (on race relations in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) Assistant Director, Strategic Planning Assistant Director, Air (climate change work - can't complain) 4 movies you could watch over and over Annie Hall Before Sunset Casablanca High Fidelity 4 TV shows you love(d) to watch "The Simpsons" "Coupling" "The Sopranos" "The Office" 4 places you've lived Singapore Cambridge, Massachusetts London New York City 4 places you've been on vacation to Iceland Miami Beach / Key Largo / the Florida Keys Chicago San Francisco 4 places you would rather be London New York City Boston Let's just keep it at those 3 4 of your favourite foods Burgers, medium rare Chicken and waffles Pastrami sandwiches Churrascaria 4 websites you visit daily Slate The Gu

Trouble Man

Those of you who know me may know that for all my indie-rock / house / hip-hop music DJing experience, the music I go back to is soul music: Motown, Stax, Atlantic, that sort of thing. (And if anyone wants to give me a soul/funk DJing gig, just leave a comment...) So it intrigued me to learn that they're doing a new movie based on the last years of Marvin Gaye - I just read Trouble Man , Steve Turner's excellent biography of Gaye, and the last three years are a really tumultuous, sad period. And I can definitely see some resemblance between Jesse L. Martin and Gaye. But can Detective Ed Green hit that incredible falsetto? I vaguely remember Martin doing some sort of piano sequence as Dr Greg Butters in "Ally McBeal".

On the Wisdom of Crowds

This is seriously obsessive: heartonastick charted all the top 10 votes in various MP3 blogs (there's even an Excel spreadsheet to download) and concluded that, unsurprisingly in a world dominated by the indie kids, the top 3 albums of last year were Sufjan Stevens' Illinois , the Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary , and Bloc Party's Silent Alarm . Of course, all ideas on the wisdom of crowds don't work if the crowd starts to engage too much with each other, creating some sort of groupthink... after all, the British Psychological Society points out research that seems to confirm that group brainstorming doesn't work .

Slip of the peel

Surrealist Keystone Kops moment of the day: ate a banana, threw away the banana peel in the bin, walked out of the bathroom, and promptly slipped and fell. Now there's silent comedy.

Charlotte's Web

"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." - E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

Linksfest: the Media Edition

So, in media res: a set of links on finding things, or having people do your sifting for you... Redesigning the Google front page . I search for everything via the taskbar anyway... An interview with Bill Emmott, editor of the Economist . Lloyd Shepherd, Deputy Director of Digital Publishing at Guardian Unlimited, on the difference between 50 users vs 1 editor (via Kottke ) How to redirect links that come in from Digg . For those of you S'poreans who don't like the idea of being Tomorrowed. And know how to use Apache. Not about media, but: pigeons as air pollution detectors . Brokeback to the Future . Another one of those spoof trailers. (Via - yeah my links sources this week aren't too obscure)

Belle and Sebastian and ABBA

A quote from Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian: I was on a long-distance flight the other day, and I was flicking through the stuff that they had to listen to, and I put on ABBA, which I hadn't heard in a while. ABBA always amazes me. I was actually trying to break it down, because I know all this stuff now. I can hear every instrument, and I can almost see it in three dimensions and feel the way they've done it. But at the same time, you just shut your eyes and it's an amazing sound. ( Link ) I'm just trying to imagine the Belle and Sebastian version of "Waterloo".

In sorts

Also, that article on indexing had a picture of a second-hand bookstore that warms the cockles of my OCD heart. Oh, except I sort my books by height and then publisher.


When I edited Let's Go: Britain and Ireland - I can't believe that was 8 years ago, it feels like yesterday sometimes - I spent a lot of time doing up the index properly. It was tedious at times, but most people who use travel guides don't read 'em back-to-front. So it caught my eye to read this discussion of indexing the BBC website by Helen Lippell, Information Architect at the BBC. I liked the "primary persona" her team created to imagine who would use the A-Z of the Beeb site: Sheila is 59, retired, and lives in Newcastle. Her web experience is mainly limited to genealogy and browsing kids’ content on with her grandchildren. She has used email and has bought online, but without great confidence. She doesn’t really like searching, and prefers to scan a list of links even if it means scrolling. I've said that one of my annoyances about Gmail is its refusal to let you sort mail, but it's a more general point about how people actually searc