Showing posts from 2007

Lowe on Cash

Listening to Nick Lowe being interviewed on Fair Game with Faith Salie made me realise, I knew the obvious Lowe songs - "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?", "Cruel to be Kind" etc. - but I never realised that he was Johnny Cash's stepson-in-law and the writer of "The Beast in Me" as well as other great Cash tunes. Or that he made so much from "Peace Love and Understanding" being on the soundtrack to the Bodyguard that he became a millionaire. It seems weird to me to grasp the difference in scale of sales that royalty income could spike from a well-established song - to me the Elvis Costello version should have made him wealthy already.

iPod headphones

I'm looking for a nice pair of in-ear headphones for my iPod. Since a lot of what I listen to these days on the go are spoken-word podcasts, I'm not necessarily looking for the absolute best sound reproduction (as long as it's nothing too tinny). But I do want a pair that have a good seal with the ear canal for sound isolation, and are fairly hardy - my original iPod ear buds' rubber is falling off, and the left earphone on my Philips replacement set has gone kaput. Oh, and whose cord doesn't tangle too often! Anyone have experience with the Sennheiser CX300s or the Shure SE110s ?

Bhutto assassinated

Pretty shocking news . My memory of Benazir Bhutto was watching her deliver a lecture at the JFK School of Government and her fielding (fairly ably) a barrage of questions on her finances. That, and when I was at the Harvard Crimson, we always had to remember to put in her year of graduation and her Crimson editor status in any news report about her (since she was a fellow Crimson editor - sports desk, if I recall correctly - hockey fan). Assassination news is always shocking, and for some reason even more so when you've seen the person in question.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas one and all, to friends, to people who've read this blog for years, and to all readers who stopped from slashdot . Now for a surfeit of Sufjan singing, and to Christmas dinner...


In view of recent news events, a public service announcement: When you mix eggs together Remember the hot weather Don't leave the cream out to stand And don't forget to wash your hands Now don't try to be too clever Know that we still have bacteria You can get salmonella (ella ella eh eh) On the one hand, I recognise that those are terrible lyrics. On the other hand, the original ain't Shakespeare either: You're part of my entity Here for infinity "Part of my entity"? Apparently Rihanna just acquired someone through a merger.

20 managers 1 rap

I see the whole brouhaha over the MDA rap video has reached the point where it got featured in last week's episode of VH1's Best Week Ever (a great podcast to get by the way) - cue it up about 19:19 into the video. Ah, international pop culture fame.

A Christmas Playlist

The Flaming Lips, "A Change at Christmas (Say It Isn't So)" Jump Little Children, "You're All I Want For Christmas" Neko Case, "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" Weezer, "The Christmas Song" Okkervil River, "Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas" Sufjan Stevens, "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!" Smashing Pumpkins, "Christmastime" The Darkness, "Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)" Jimmy Eat World, "Last Christmas" Kate & Anna McGarrigle, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" (with Rufus Wainwright singing)


I can't believe it's already December! 2007, where did you go?

Fabric podcast

The new Fabric podcast is pretty wonderful - not just the music of a night out in Fabric, but also a eclectic, record-bin-trawling selection. Like "The Hippie and the Skinhead", the song from the Peter Wyngarde album that Craig Richards chose to dig out. Truly bizarre. I only wish they had a proper track listing. But then maybe that might make it too easy for us crate diggers...


So I was eating crabsticks today, and started wondering, why do they even bother colouring the crabsticks with those red lines on top? It's not like I'll look at the crabsticks and think, "oh, this looks real, maybe I'm actually eating part of the legs of a nice enormous crab".

Songs That Have Caught My Ear

Iron & Wine, Naked as They Came She says wake up, it's no use pretending I'll keep stealing, breathing her Birds are leaving over autumn's ending One of us will die inside these arms Eyes wide open Naked as we came One will spread our Ashes round the yard She says if I leave before you darling Don't you waste me in the ground I lay smiling like our sleeping children One of us will die inside these arms Eyes wide open Naked as we came One will spread our Ashes round the yard

2007 World Series Champions

The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series, and it feels pretty damn good.

Hotel Chevalier

It is pretty awesome that Wes Anderson made his short film Hotel Chevalier (the companion piece to The Darjeeling Limited ) available for free download .

Back in the saddle

Wow, I went away to Oxford for a conference for over a week and in the interim my credit card expires so Godaddy took away my domain for a bit! Apologies for those of you missing the site. All's well now. Especially since the Red Sox won the AL East.

Scarlett Johansson sings

According to this CNN interview (and probably old news, but I haven't been as au courant with the celeb news as I'd like), Scarlett Johansson has an album of Tom Waits covers coming out: Q: What about this album you're releasing? It's all Tom Waits covers? JOHANSSON: I've always been a huge fan of Tom Waits and I had this kind of golden opportunity to make an album however I wanted and it's kind of a dream chance. ... Originally I thought that I would do an album of standards and I wanted to include a Tom Waits song. And I don't know, I thought maybe everybody does standards, and so, I see Tom Waits as being kind of a composer of modern standards and so it seemed appropriate that I could interpret his songs. Obviously, it's not an album where I'm trying to sound like him. It would be impossible. He writes such beautiful songs and incredible melodies and they're so cinematic and kind of open-ended so I felt like it would be something that I could

The Departed

Watched The Departed over the weekend, and my thought was: now this is how you do an adaptation. Scorsese at his finest - no one mixes the sheer brutality and the lyricism of violence like he does. Top notch acting all around, and some beautiful cinematography - I thought the final scene was a marvel of composition, and then I watched parts again and noticed all the "X"s in the scene whenever someone died. And for anyone's who spent any time in Boston, the clear echoes of Whitey Bulger are compelling.

Stranger Than Fiction

I watched Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction a couple of nights ago, probably the first time I can remember Ferrell in a role other than "overgrown fratboy" - indeed, here he plays an IRS auditor, so he's very much the epitome of the straight man here. It pleasantly surprised me that he held his own acting against Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal (who, incidentally, I'm convinced has one of the sexiest voices in Hollywood). Stranger Than Fiction asked thought-provoking questions on mortality, and the value of accepting the inexorable progress toward death - in the grand scheme of things, of course, we will all die (and Hoffman points that out), and what we leave behind as our legacy, I suppose, is our art. (A concept that made me think of Shelley's "Ozymandias" .) But what happens when ars longa becomes the direct cause of vita breva ? Thompson, playing the author Karen Eiffel, finally seems to be ending her struggle with write

A garden of forking paths

J ust noting down for my own memory some good artwork that I saw (largely in Sydney, at the Museum of Contemporary Art's The Hours exhibition ), before I forget it: Matthew Ngui's work, in general Nell, " Unlimited Radiance " - that pic doesn't do justice to the qualities of this work (I'm not sure any pic can), which shimmies and sparkles Mathew Jones, "The New York Daily News on the day before the Stonewall Riot copied by hand from microfilm records", 1996 ( Link ) Vik Muniz , " I Am What I Read ", " Che (Black Bean Soup) " Betsabee Romero, "Requiem for the Unknown Pedestrian II" - tires engraved with musical notes to create a kind of sheet-music print Los Carpinteros , "Downtown (Centro)" - furniture as landscape Nicola Constantino, the Human Furriery series - items covered in silicone nipples and anuses - the NY Times called it " sensationally tasteless ". Santiago Sierra, " 465 personas rem

US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs

T his map made me go, woah. I mean, I know the US is an economic juggernaut, and I should expect this, but it still surprised me that New Jersey's GDP is the same as Russia's. (Based on their data, Singapore's economy is the size of South Carolina's, at US$121 billion.)

On Krispy Kremes

I came back from Sydney carting 6 boxes of Krispy Kremes (6 in each box). At the airport, the security guy spotted the boxes and the following exchange ensued: Security guy (in mock-stern fashion): "Hmm... you know you're not supposed to take more than 100ml of liquids or creams into the plane". Me (quick on the uptake): "No cream in these ones - they're glazed!" Security guy: "Attempt to get doughnuts foiled again, damn" Upon returning, I promptly put the doughnuts in the fridge. Then it dawned on me. The only two things in my fridge were doughnuts and beer. I had Homer Simpson's fridge. But boy were they good. I stretched them out - had to make them last. One of my Facebook friends mentioned guilt from doughnut eating. Guilt's too good an emotion to waste on food. Mmm, donuts...

Had we but world enough, and time

As astute followers of this blog (um, if any are out there) will notice, posting frequency has declined lately... fortunately, I don't think I've stopped listening to new music - although I'm not sure that listening to Stile Antico's compline album counts as 'new music' - but it is brutal, finding time both to experience the world and to write on the experiences. With all that said, the Simpsons movie is excellent. Still nowhere near the best of the Simpsons - could probably think of 10 episodes of the show that outdo it - but that's not taking anything away from the movie, it was still damn funny. Was laughing from the moment Ralph Wiggum sang along to the 20th Century Fox tune. The movie format seemed to let them do a lot more drawn-out action sequences, I thought - Bart skateboarding reminded me of the Homer/Marge nude Natural Born Kissers sequence, while the scene with Flanders making hot chocolate was pretty good. I was hoping they'd somehow referen

Sydney Conservatorium of Music

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music , (re-)designed by Chris Johnson and the architectural practice of Daryl Jackson, Robin Dyke and Robert Tanner, completed in 2001. I like the castle / palm juxtaposition - nicely incongruous.

Canon IXUS 950 IS

There are many things to like about this camera - the fast shutter speed, the balance between control and overloading functions, the general small size (although if you put it in your pocket, it's noticeably a bit heavier than, say, the Olympus mju 780, which I was also considering). Beyond the great picture quality, the coolest part I have to say is that when viewing photos, the LCD screen rotates its image to match how you're orienting the camera. That and the fact that the face-detect auto-focus can actually track faces, say if your subject is moving her head.

Back in Sydney

The last time I was in Sydney was post-JC, way back in December 1996: a gawky kid, 14 kg lighter. It was my first taste of independent travel - sure, I'd been overseas without my parents before, but even then others had helped set the itinerary. Sydney 1996 was the first time I ever planned a trip, decided where to go. So it was with pleasure that I re-walked the streets of the Rocks today, and re-visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Last time I was at the MCA, a brilliant Keith Haring show was going on. This time around, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was an exhibit of Matthew Ngui , the Singaporean/Australian artist whose work I've seen at the National Museum and at Potong Pasir MRT. Very inspiring.) And this time round I got to going onto the Harbour Bridge, from which vantage point this shot - captured by my new Canon IXUS 950 IS - was taken.

Like a Sturgeon

Jumpin' sturgeons . Somehow this reminded me of those scenes in Asterix comics where fish fights broke out...

Alan Johnston Freed

Wow, great news . Just last night I was listening to an old BBC podcast where Johnston's parents were wishing him a happy birthday to him in captivity, and it was pretty heart-wrenching.

The Stadium

Was at the National Stadium area, too, on the last day of that grand old dame. Sure, it was definitely showing its age, but I'll have fond memories of watching Malaysia Cup games there (the Abbas Saad -Alistair Edwards days, or even the T Pathmanathan days). And I'll remember the two National Day Parades I was conscripted into helping out with in that area.

The joy of text

Man, it's been a blistering few days - in between work and "last chance at a 5% sales tax" moments there's been close to zero blogging time. But I did get caught up on iPhone hype news (and read the David Pogue / Walt Mossberg reviews). Still waiting for a review from someone who texts on a regular basis to see how the text input works - somehow, watching Pogue's podcasts and reading the Mossberg profile in the New Yorker, I don't see them as regular SMS users, though I could be wrong.

New Media @ Arts House

Yes, I'm back in Singapore and despite coming down with a case of a post-flight cold/fever, I shall be liveblogging for the New Media @ Arts House event today, on the "Future of Business 2.0". Promises to be an enlightening event.

He's Leaving Home

Beatles reference in the subject in honour of the 40th anniversary of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band . But yes, am going to be travelling again. Regular blogging service will resume in a week...

Rihanna's umbrella

Rihanna's "Umbrella" may be my candidate for the song with the best beat but most overwrought lyrics of this year. That beat's so damn catchy, but she takes the umbrella metaphor and fair beats the life out of it.


By the way - while this is hardly anywhere near a food blog - Buono, the new Italian place in Lichfield Road, is excellent, and worth the trek to the Serangoon Gardens area. Still thinking about their seafood soup. Almost like a fine wine, in that it had such a complex interplay of flavours.

Hooked on Phonics

I have to say, one thing I had totally not expected when I got my iPod was how hooked I would get on podcasts. And not just the podcasts I might've expected to get hooked on (NPR's All Songs Considered, the Economist, the Ethicist - which is actually funnier when read, and ESPN's Baseball Today, among others), but the language ones. I'm currently alternating between Coffee Break Spanish, trying to pick up rudimentary Spanish, and Deutsche Welle's "Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten" - the news, read in German, slowly. It's funny and sort of surreal hearing about, say, the G-8 summit in German while walking down Sims Avenue. But I do know I also speak along to the podcasts, to get some practice in, and have startled people in the process. So if you pass by a guy with his iPod on who seems to be muttering to himself oddly, please forgive me...

I Will Follow You Into the Dark

I like to think of this as the Persephone myth recast as gorgeous music:

In Memoriam

S o we sat around the table with the peanuts, exchanging stories of Grandma. Tales that were long buried resurfaced. How she sat in my overcrowded kindergarten class, the only parent/grandparent allowed to do so, barking out orders in Teochew to 40 screaming kids to keep them in line. Apparently my mother went to the teacher to apologise for my grandma sitting in, and she was told that no, actually her presence was much welcome. Of course, stories from my early childhood are all a little fuzzy - that's a tale I only know in the telling, not one in my memory. What I remember: I remember her taking me to some shop in Geylang, and she needed to get down the road, and back then you could actually took a trishaw for transportation, rather than for any novelty value. I remember going to the wet market with her and nibbling at the dried shrimp. I remember going to the hawker centre where she would take me to my favourite Western food store, probably the only place in Singapore where a ham

I, For One, Welcome Our Animated Overlords

I 'm a huge Simpsons junkie - smartest show on TV, even if it might never hit the seasons 4-8 peaks of consistency - and I'm really looking forward to the Simpsons movie , but with a bit of trepidation - what if it just becomes some extended shaggy-dog story (not that that couldn't be funny) on the order of Saddlesore Galactica ( Worst. Episode. Ever. )? Still, even this little snippet on the plot from the NY Times made me laugh: The plot seems to involve the town of Springfield dealing with an environmental disaster that Homer accidentally starts. (Also, for some reason, Homer has a beloved pet pig.) Pet pig! (Homer-like-chuckle.) In anticipation, here's 101 jobs of Homer Simpson:

Linksfest: Throw it out of the window

M an, I can't believe Melinda Doolittle got kicked off "American Idol". With Jennifer Hudson, she was probably the best singer that the show had seen. Hearing any rendition of "I Am Woman", I must say, always makes me think of the Muppet Show episode where Miss Piggy bursts into Raquel Welch's version of the song and starts singing "I am wopig... W-O-P-I-G". Anyway, some more fatuous links, thinking about childhood: Ah, I suddenly recalled that old "throw it out of the window" song that I always found fun as a kid. The Village Voice article on the Night of a Thousand Stevies made me think, only in cities with a big enough population would you get something like this. Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies. Busy lives prompt speedier games - i.e. quick-playing Scrabble variants. I'm not so sure about that "busy lives" hypothesis - I played the game the article calls Grab Scrabble and that I always knew as Snatch all the

Soul food

B ack from New York and a side incursion into North Carolina for a friend's wedding. Ate at Mama Dip's while I was in NC - have to say, ribs, fried chicken, cornbread, collard greens - they all do taste better in the South. Dang - just writing that made me hungry. While it's 6.30am in the morning now (thank you jetlag), I must leave my desk and forage for food... Man, I miss soul food. (Image taken from Deep Fried Kudzu , as I stupidly forgot to take a pic. Hey, you can't spend your whole life documenting experiences - you have to actually experience sometimes...)

The Arcade Fire, United Palace Theatre, New York

J ust caught the Arcade Fire live at the United Palace Theatre up in Washington Heights in New York. Incredible show. Especially the one-two punch of " Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) " and "Rebellion (Lies)" that closed out the main show before the encore. "Rebellion (Lies)" is amazing to hear live - the build up, and then the release, with the whole crowd screaming. Seemed that the Funeral songs were better concert songs, although maybe that was just because the crowd were more familiar with them. "Antichrist Television Blues" was outstanding - have to say though, it does sound like Springsteen - and the spare version of "Neon Bible" I thought played well in the converted church... Family, religion, they tackle the big subjects and do them well (and with every conceivable instrument). All right, while sleeping is giving in, I think I need to head to bed. More on the show when I'm not as dazed...

Day 1 in New York

T he last film I watched aboard the plane before I landed at JFK was 25th Hour , essentially Spike Lee's paean to New York City. And it was a nice lead-in to returning to NYC - it is very good to be back in the city. Had a meal at Goodburger (the natural instinct to find top-notch food for carnivores in whatever city I land in still remains intact, I'm glad to say), and then watched the Columbia University Film Festival , since my friend Soman's film was being screened. Very impressive, polished stuff from all the films. Ah, the glories of a rest day. Now that my body is adequately adjusted to New York time, it's on to proper work.

David Halberstam's passing

And of course, RIP David Halberstam . The Best and the Brightest is a great historical work, one I keep recommending to people (although seemingly not that easy to find here in Singapore, at least a few years back when I was trying to buy a copy - I suppose Vietnam War histories don't exactly fly off the shelves). And the Summer of '49 a great baseball book.

Idol Gives Back

All congratulations to Simon Fuller for importing the telethon concept to America (and even importing in Richard Curtis, aka "Four Weddings and a Funeral" screenwriter and Red Nose Day creator). I only wish the singing had been better. Melinda was great, as always - she has this ability to take a song I don't know and make me want to hear it. The only thing hindering her I think is the tyranny of high expectations. As for the rest - I thought Jordin's "You'll Never Walk Alone" was lovely, but I admit I always find that song very moving (and I'm an Everton fan!). Has to do with memories of watching the Hillsborough semifinal live as a kid, and witnessing that awful tragedy. Chris - needs sinus surgery. And fast. How come Lakisha seems to have forgotten how to sing big without pitching problems? And Blake made a bad choice, I thought. How does one not compare it (unfavourably) to Lennon's original "Imagine"? That said, I do dislike the o

An England & Everton legend passes

Rest in peace, Alan Ball .

Virginia Tech

It is just wearying, the world these days. What more is there to say about the shootings that hasn't been said before? Or, as one is well aware, what is there to say about other horrific events in the very same week? 19/20 April always seems such a dicey period - anniversaries of Waco, Columbine; Hitler's birthday... a horrible, horrible event, and one grieves for all those whose lives were cut short. Classy thing the Washington Nationals did, wearing the Virginia Tech caps in the first game after the shooting.


W ent to MAAD at the Red Dot Museum for the first time last Saturday. 'Twas a lot of fun roaming around the small stalls - the Macbook skins from ShuffleArt were pretty tempting and I really liked the "I've Lost an Ocean" art exhibit by Xin. ( MAAD photos for the curious.) Perfect for a lazy rainy Saturday.

American Idol

Okay, I watch American Idol . And I learnt last night that every female Latin pop song was sung by Gloria Estefan... Am watching Phil, Haley, and Chris in the bottom 3 today. And for once they really were the 3 worst performances. That said, I like that the premise of's article asking prominent rock critics (Robert Christgau, Greil Marcus etc.) whether voting for Sanjaya was "subversive" got the proper dismissive / derisive response, though. (Chuck Klosterman: "As things currently stand, I would classify purposefully voting for a television personality you don't like as 'astonishingly idiotic.'") Subversive? This is more like joke-voting for the ugliest kid as Prom King.

Alanis Does "My Humps"

I have to say, I admit I like Alanis Morissette, but "Ironic" was a crime for any right-minded snob about English, since none of it was really ironic was it? But black flies in Chardonnays be damned - as Laura Barton wrote , everything is forgiven, thanks to her cover version of My Humps - sung in classic Alanis style, but with a video that spoofs the music atrocity... As the song goes... Check it out!

Songs in the Key of Life

One thing I've discovered about the iPod, it really does help me discover the songs that've been buried in the depths of my collection, brought them to light. I was sceptical about that effect - after all, I do have all the songs already on my computer - but I suppose having 40GB of music around you is very different from carrying 1GB as I used to do. Unearthed songs that I've rediscovered the joys of: Ryan Adam "La Cienaga Just Smiled". (Ryan Adams is great walking-around-town music: always has the ring of late 90s/early 00s East village music to me, and that always has special memories...) Tapes N' Tapes "50s Parking" Gomez "Get Myself Arrested" - If I recall correctly, I wrote a review of the album when it first came out. Still like it. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels "Devil With a Blue Dress On / Good Golly Miss Molly". Listening to this made me think, I want to DJ again. On a mid-week night, with my choice of music. And on

(Someday I'll Be A) One Hit Wonder

W as listening to my iPod and on came a live version of Blind Melon's "No Rain", in which Shannon Hoon (God rest his soul) lets the crowd sing the entire second verse. Such exuberance. And it made me think, if someday I could write just one song that people would know the lyrics to and sing along to, I would be very, very happy. It wouldn't have to be genius - "No Rain" is catchy, but it's not going to make Q 's top 100 lists anytime soon.

Music and Lyrics

Q uick thoughts about Music and Lyrics - watching Music and Lyrics was like going in to see a good covers band. Very predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. You want Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore to reprise the roles they've come to claim as their own - Hugh enjoyably wry, Drew bubbly and somewhat kooky. And they do it well, despite a predictable plot. Hugh, in particular, clearly has fun as Alex Fletcher, a washed-up less famous half of former 80s sensation PoP. (There's more than a little of Wham in PoP, and more than a little Andrew Ridgely in Grant's character.)

The Return

Haven't updated in quite a bit. Just got an iPod (iPod Video, 80GB). Those two facts are not related. Well, mostly.

Beauty, Beholder, etc

Women that women are more likely to call attractive than men: Sarah Jessica Parker Nicole Kidman

Shaken, Not Stirred

T he news today was the tremors from the Sumatra quakes: was on the 24th floor in the conference room, and then the room shook so violently I got giddy. For a while I thought it was the usual - every now and then I find the room starts spinning to me. But no, it was really spinning, or at least, shaking. (Incidentally, today was the first time I've heard Singapore mentioned on the BBC World Service in a long time - they had to evacuate the World Service office here, apparently.) The tragedy, of course, is in Sumatra . Not sure how to help out with donations at the moment. But I notice the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog , which I was involved in back in the day, has a new entry up, and hopefully details come out soon.

Casimir Pulaski Day

On the first (or fifth) of March, on the holiday .

Dreamgirls: And I Am Telling You

D reamgirls is shot Bill Condon style - lots that reminded me of Chicago . Or is that just because there are so few movie musicals these days? In any case, for an avid, avowed Motown fan such as myself, Dreamgirls was a great exercise in spot-the-parallels (ooh, and just as I typed that, the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go?" came on): the Dreamgirls = the Supremes, Curtis Taylor Jr. = Berry Gordy etc. etc. (although obviously it isn't a direct adaptation, and Paramount has been careful to make clear that it's a fictionalised account ). But enough rambling. The fact is, Dreamgirls , like the musical it was based on, is a show of two acts, and the first act, which belongs to Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), is bang on in terms of that early Motown infectiousness (it must be really hard to write songs for a musical based on Motown, but Henry Krieger has the chops). And it's not news , but good lord, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" is a showst

Linksfest: Lettuce Pray

Iceberg lettuce safe (via Popgadget ) Zodiac looks v promising . Here's a 6-6-6 tribute to David Fincher via Kottke : 6 of his best commercials, 6 of his best music videos, and his 6 feature films. Still can't believe Mitch Hedberg died so young. Here Jesse Kornbluth reviews Hedberg . Mixed race, pretty face?

Seeing Liberal Bias in Everything

So I was reading about "Conservapedia" in the Guardian , and this part on the 'liberal bias' of Wikipedia amused me: Among his criticisms listed on Conservapedia, Mr Schlafly explains how many Wikipedia articles often use British spelling instead of American English and says that it "refuses" to give enough credit to Christianity for the Renaissance. British spelling as an example of liberal bias? Now that's reaching...

I Heart New York and Ess Gee

W as searching around for pics of the "I Love New York" logo to show how the Singapore Day 2007 "I Love Sg" logo uses the totally wrong typeface if it's intending to be a play on Milton Glaser's famous logo. Okay, so not everyone has American Typewriter (or the variant that Glaser used) but surely one could use a Courier typewriter-style font. Also, while searching, I came across this tourist site promoting the Finger Lakes region as "the heart of New York state". I have to say, though, from their map , the region looks to me less like a heart and more like the Y-fronts of New York state.

Mac zealots

Old friend Baratunde Thurston has a funny post up on how any post criticising Macs - even by Mac users themselves - seems to bring out zealots in full force. Oh, now I get it. I'm with Goliath's crew. That completely explains why my installation didn't work. Clearly my mind is not yet prepared, and I must continue to study "the Macintosh Way" until I figure out how to not "overthink things. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone asks: is Apple the new Evil Empire ?

The last year of my 20s

S o I turned 29 over the weekend (on ren ri , no less). 29, a prime number for a decade supposedly marking one's prime. It's the kind of birthday age I guess in which one takes stock. Not that I'm going to reveal my thoughts to all and sundry on the Internet! But I still can't believe I'm not 21 sometimes. Or 2.9. Met up with friends and we talked about how in college, the possible paths one's life could take were so varied. And with each year I guess the choices narrow. Not that that's bad, but it's different. Right, now for thirtysomething angst.

Linksfest: Burger Time

Finally managed to upgrade my Blogger blogs (apparently had too many posts to upgrade previously!) So here are some links. Why do we think good writers should have good morals ? In-n-Out Burger's Secret Menu . The hidden obscenity on Bill Ripken's Fleer baseball card .

Customisable Horns

C hange your horn sound ! Actually, I always thought it would be nice if there was also a "friendly" horn - something that you could press to indicate "hey, you left your signal on" or such without inspiring the instinctive annoyance that regular horns do. Appropriate warning-of-impending-crash songs: Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You", R.E.M.'s "Bang and Blame". Inappropriate horn songs: Mousse T vs Hot 'n' Juicy "Horny". (via the MIT Advertising Lab )

Where Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean

I guess the Weekly Standard is bearable when it's pontificating on Civilisation (or, okay, Civilization) as a game. Man, I loved that game.

Dazed and Confused

A nd where did the holiday go? A nice long weekend, too much of which was spent working, unfortunately. Although I did manage to install this nifty Dashboard widget so that I can post straight from Dashboard. And I did manage to get spring cleaning done, which is much fun for the obsessive - bought little cord organizers so that the wires in my house wouldn't run all over, and bought energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to replace the remaining incandescent bulbs in my house. Good environmental practice, and good for the wallet too. Can't complain about that.

Happy New Year of the Pig

A nd, in the grand tradition of watching stuff on TV that's utterly unrelated to the festive occasion because that's what the broadcasters choose to show... here's the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible site, with an awesome live version of "Guns of Brixton" (click on the "guns" link).

Friends With Money

W atched (and re-watched) Nicole Holofcener 's Friends With Money this week. It's good. A film for grown-ups (as one friend told me), and that's always good. Although I have to say Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, and Joan Cusack act rings around Jennifer Aniston. How good is Keener? I can't think of a film I've disliked her in. Although I admit I didn't watch S1m0ne . Incidentally, I was amused by the "Scene of Intimacy" warning on the DVD box. The sex scenes with Aniston are the least intimate possible.

Linksfest: Mind and Body

G rammies last night. The Eagles tribute. Lionel Ritchie. Apparently they were going to party like it was 1979. But boy, I love Smokey and "Tracks Of My Tears" is one hell of a song. Anyway, on to the links. Afternoon naps can reduce heart disease. Speaking of hearts, here's how to go green for Valentine's Day . And at your wedding . Gargalesis (the 'heavy tickle') is one of the best new words I've learnt in a long time Ralph Fiennes gets frisky on the plane . Apparently he's English and he's patient. Why do we see faces in cheese sandwiches ? How the brain "sees" things always fascinates me.

Linksfest: Anna Nicole Says Muh-Ha-Uh

Just dumping all my surfing into one place for reference at another time... Anna Nicole Smith gets shunned by Mexia , her hometown. That reminds me of the joke about Mexia : Two Aggies pass through Mexia, arguing over the correct pronunciation of the city (one arguing for "muh-hay-uh" – the proper pronunciation; the other insisting on "mex-ee-uh" – the incorrect one). They stop in at a local eating establishment to settle the matter, asking, "how do you pronounce the name of this place?" The waitress responds, very slowly, "Deh-ree Kween." The Painted Veil deserves some Oscar noms , says the NY Times. If you want to join the Mile High Club ... apparently it's not against FAA regulations 24 has a deleterious effect on soldiers . I've mentioned the Tesla Roadster before, but sadly according to the website it's sold out for 2007. *marks 2008 down in calendar*. Ads for tampons, razors, pregnancy test kits etc. get a lot less squeamish

Anthropomorphise Much?

T here's always something bizarre to learn about Japan, I think. Such as the fact that they have manga/anime characters to depict operating systems . (Via AsiaPundit .) The OS-tans are an internet phenomenon in Japan where the OS-tan (or OS Girls) are the personification of several Windows operating systems. For example, XP-tan is depicted as a dark-haired girl with an “XP” hair ornament worn on the left side. As Windows XP is criticized for bloating a system and being very pretty without being equally as useful, XP-tan wears tight clothing and has large breasts representing memory usage. I suppose thinking about Windows XP's memory bloat as large breasts might placate many a computer geek. So what should Mac-tan and Linux-tan look like?

Everything Louder Than Everything Else

T his article on the trend of increasing compression on CDs (thanks to people mastering CDs to the maximum) and the clipping it creates is pretty good reading for audiophiles. there are millions of copies of CDs being released that are physically exhausting listeners, most of whom probably don't know why their ears and brains are feeling worn out. It does explain one thing I've always suspected: that Californication is a really poorly mastered album, and Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man", while a good song (great horn sample), is a pain to listen to on any proper sound system (or, as the article says, the song "sounds like you are being punched in the face on a real stereo system"). Man, I wonder how bands that use dynamics for a lot of their sound - the Pixies, Nirvana - would sound with this kind of remastering?

When You Gotta Go

T he craziest part of the story about the astronaut arrested for trying to kidnap and assault her love rival is the fact that she had adult diapers so that she didn't need to stop for anything . Nowak -- who was a mission specialist on a Space Shuttle Discovery flight last summer -- was wearing a trench coat and wig and had a knife, BB pistol, and latex gloves in her car, reports show. They also found diapers, which Nowak said she used so she wouldn't have to stop on the 1,000-mile drive. They say Florida has more than its fair share of crazies. (Heck, Fark has its own "Florida" category for crazy news stories originating from the state.) But this is still bizarre even by those standards. I suppose diapers were better than having exploded kidneys .

A Room of His Own

To the man cave ! (And apologies to Woolf for the post title.) The Boston Globe discusses the increasingly popular concept of specialised spaces for guys within the home - although one could argue this was just an upgraded den. Come to think of it, I already have a room with turntables, DVDs, and a pool table... The best part of this article is that I learnt about personal vending machines . Man, I want one. But then, I also want spinners and I like suicide doors just for their name alone. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go grunt and scratch myself.

The GM Superbowl Commercial

Didn't watch the Superbowl - couldn't bear to see the Colts, not after what they did to the Patriots - but this was a good commercial from GM, featuring one sad robot. Have to say the concept of an anthropomorphised object reminded me a lot of Spike Jonze's Ikea lamp commercial , which, as one might expect from Jonze, is very self-reflexive about commercials and how they manipulate you: It's an interesting study in contrasts - the GM commercial is meant to play up permanence, while the Ikea one focuses on ephemerality (or at least the idea that lamps aren't meant to last a lifetime), and yet they both use similar techniques. Up to their final parts they are both heart-tugging - only Jonze chooses to pull back the curtain while the GM one goes for the Dallas ending . Technorati Tags: superbowl , commercials , ads

Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson

W atched Half Nelson at the Picturehouse on Sunday. Ryan Gosling does a fine, fine job as Dan Dunne, teacher, budding writer, and basehead. Worthy of the Oscar nom, and certainly living up to the acting potential he showed in The Believer . I can see Ryan Gosling following in the footsteps of Edward Norton, going the Serious Actor With Good Looks route. Or is it just because The Believer and American History X naturally invite comparisons?

Now Playing

Somedays iTunes on shuffle mode just picks out a wonderful selection of songs. Last 10 tunes on my playlist: Jennifer Terran, "Hallelujah" Velvet Underground, "Pale Blue Eyes" Mel Torme, "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" Calla, "Don't Hold Your Breath" Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris, "Return of the Grievous Angel" The Ramones, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" Cream, "Sunshine of Your Love" American Music Club, "Another Morning" Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Miles Away" Death From Above 1979, "Black History Month (Josh Homme Remix)" "Grievous Angel" is really a great song.

Linksfest: I See My Shadow

Groundhog Day! Ever had the feeling of deja vu? (Pause) Ever had the feeling of deja vu? On the difference between camera shake and poor focussing . Top 10 Flickr hacks Debbie Cai watches Singapore v Thailand Who knew Sidney Sheldon had both an Oscar and a Tony?

What to Eat

Michael Pollan's "Unhappy Meals" article for the NY Times magazine was fascinating in its argument against "nutritionism". And here's Daniel Engber's rebuttal in Slate (which largely seems to argue along the lines that Pollan's conclusions seem to smack of the naturalistic fallacy). Although both seem to agree on the"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." conclusion that Pollan comes to. Meanwhile, badscience answers the question: "why don’t doctors, dietitians, and genuine nutrition academics make the same elaborate claims for the miracle powers of individual foods that journalists, manufacturers and gurus do?" Short answer: pop nutritionism is bad science.

The KL skyline

As seen from my hotel room, with Cesar Pelli 's Petronas Towers in the background. The KL sun was searing, nothing like the cool wind blowing around Singapore these days. ( "Cold Wind" is a great Arcade Fire song, incidentally.) Somewhere on the streets below, later that night, a black stretch limo with the tinted windows pulled into a club (Aloha) with a horde of screaming female fans chasing after. Guess Rain was in town. Save it for another day, it's the school exam and the kids have run away.

Back in Singapore

B ack in Singapore I slept an inordinate amount, and watched the Screen Actors Guild awards (quick thoughts: Mirren-Whitaker-Hudson seem like an unbeatable trio; how lovely to hear that rich Julie Andrews voice once more; British actors always seem to give better speeches). On the other end of the film quality spectrum, here's how to sell an awful film in 12 easy steps .

Kay Ell

Off to KL for the weekend. Normal service will resume shortly.

My First YouTube: Rerun with Towel

Well, I finally got around to trying to upload videos onto YouTube. Here's my first one - my Cairn terrier Rerun playing with a towel, back from his puppy days.

More Singapore-based Nostalgia

I noticed this post on the first fast food restaurant in Singapore (A&W on Dunearn Road) and promptly sent it into Tomorrow , whereupon a nice nostalgic discussion broke out. One of my fond memories of childhood was meeting the A&W Root Bear at Big Splash. Shall have to dig the photos out. I kind of wish now I'd taken a picture of the big sign next to the escalator at the old Orchard Cinema - it was the first escalator in Singapore , and they kept the sign that gave instructions on how to use the escalator - don't ride the escalator barefoot, etc.

The history of clubbing in Singapore

I chanced upon this story of Bullwinkle's in Bloomington closing , which led to this one of Velfarre in Tokyo closing . Which was an interesting coincidence since earlier today I was thinking about the clubs in Singapore that have come and gone and wondering if anyone's ever done any sort of history of them. Even just an oral history? I know there was the Zouk coffee-table book but besides that, will people's experiences of places such as Fire, Ridley's, and so on be remembered? (Couldn't seem to find anything on clubbing on , my usual source for Singapore-based nostalgia.) I mean, take something as central to the Singapore clubbing scene as Mambo Jambo - naff as it can be, it's arguably something many clubbers were weaned on. The Wikipedia entry seems to suggest that the "retro" style arose strictly from Zouk days, but Adam Low was spinning long before Zouk existed, and I would imagine his set at Rumours had some of that same music b

Worst Famous Comedian Ever

My impression of Joe Rogan improved tremendously when I chanced upon his dissing of Carlos Mencia . (Hey, we don't get much stand-up here: all I know of Rogan is him watching spiders crawl over others.) Mencia also gets dissed in the Beast's 50 Most Loathsome People in America list . How does Carlos Mencia get his own show when great comedies such as Arrested Development go off the air? Lord knows.

More xkcd fun

More xkcd fun. Although to be persnickety " U Can't Touch This " came out in 1989.

Mark Leung and College Saga

F irst tme I ever saw a Mark Leung video was on Tomorrow ... now I dare say "College Saga" is one of the most watched videos on Youtubemade by a Singaporean.

Le Grand Content - Free, Radicals

W ow - this surreal little short film blew me away. I love random free association and here the filmmakers call it "association chain massacre". Plus, it's poking fun at Powerpoint ("Le Grand Content examines the omnipresent PowerPoint-culture in search for its philosophical potential"), and that's always worth brownie points in my book. (Via Presentation Zen )

Fun With Anagrams


My Life in Music: the Meme

Inspired by brown , here's the soundtrack to my life as a movie... but first, the rules: 1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc) 2. Put it on shuffle. 3. Press play. 4. For every question, type the song that's playing. 5. When you go to a new question, press the next button. 6. Don't lie Opening Credits: "Family Affair (Remix)" by Mary J. Blige feat Jadakiss, Fabolous Ah, an upbeat start to the day. Waking Up: "Cindy Tells Me" by Brian Eno, from Here Come the Warm Jets First Day At School: "Here Comes the Sun" by Nina Simone The opening is the delicate tinkle of the piano - and then Simone wraps her voice around Harrison's great tune. Have to say I prefer the Beatles' original. But so far there's a nice progression to the musical choices... Falling In Love: "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holliday ... which promptly ends here. Good Lord. "Strange Fruit" is a great, great song (hell, I watche

The iPhone isn't a full smartphone yet

TreoCentral has an interesting conversation about the iPhone (or whatever it ends up being called) that leads to the following conclusion: Michael Ducker: You getting an iPhone? Dieter Bohn: Obviously. You? Michael Ducker: Obviously. Keeping your Treo, though? Dieter Bohn: Looks that way, yep. I'm no businessman, but I need productivity on the go. The iPhone isn't going to address the main bugbears of power users - quick data entry, ability to read/edit Office documents, replaceable battery for battery life. Thus far, it looks like a phone maybe for the work culture of Silicon Valley. And that, I suppose, is the crux of the matter at the moment. Steve Jobs may have compared the iPhone to the Blackberry Pearl and the Palm Treo at his keynote speech, but it really seems to be creating its own category of new high-end phones - it's a high-end phone for those who want the high end in mobile multimedia and web browsing, which isn't quite the same as a high-end phone for pow

Last Day at Scotts Picnic - 28 Dec 2006

H appened to be down in the rain to eat at the last day at Scotts Picnic. Okay, we didn't know it was the last day until we got there - but it turns out we witnessed the end of Singapore's first air-conditioned food court . Half the stalls were gone, including my favourite, the North Indian one (where I ate my first-ever naan!). The cleaner even spent some time talking to me, telling me how it was her last day on the job.

Thoughts on the iPhone

The iPhone looks good - how could it not? It looks drool-inducingly good. And as a widescreen iPod it probably sounds magnificent. But David Pogue's writeup on the thing only furthers the question that I have: how fast can you go on something that doesn't have a nice tactile keyboard response? Typing is difficult. The letter keys are just pictures on the glass screen, so of course there’s no tactile feedback. Software helps a lot. You can afford to make a lot of typos as you muddle through a word, because the software analyzes which keys you *might* have meant and figures out the word you wanted. Its best guess appears just under what you’ve typed; if it’s correct, you tap the Space bar to accept it and continue. I typed a couple of e-mail messages with lots of typos but eventually 100 percent accuracy, thanks to this auto-correct feature. (My testing didn’t involve proper names, however.) Bottom line: Heavy BlackBerry addicts may not want to jump ship just yet. At the moment

Linksfest: Academic Considerations

Man, the new version of Blogger (which I can't switch to, apparently, because I have "too many entries") might be up, but old Blogger was down for a while... so here's slightly delayed links. Was the fall of the Tang Dynasty caused in part by changes in climate ? Yang Guifei gets all the blame, but a new study considers the impact of prolonged droughts. John Campbell and Ed Glaeser (my former professor, for full disclosure) did a recruitment video for the Harvard Economics Department that was less than successful. So naturally it spurred parodies . (via Leiter Reports ) You really don't need all that many skin care products . Or so say dermatologists. The secret cities of the Soviet Union . Wesley Autrey's subway rescue has to be one of the coolest stories of 2007, even if the year is only a few days old. My box in a box . In response to Timberlake. The Simpsons as anime characters .

Pirates of the Caribbean III and Singapore

W hen my Jamaican cousins visited last year, they showed me their pics of the Caribbean and of the beautiful scenery of the islands, including where Pirates of the Caribbean I and II were shot. So one wonders where the "Singapore" scenes in Pirates III (with Chow Yun-Fat as Sao Feng, the "Pirate Lord of Singapore" ) were really shot... This will be much more of an Asian influence and taking place in Singapore. Chow Yun-Fat will be an old friend of Johnny Depp. ( Gore Verbinski, on Pirates III - admittedly this entire interview sounds like it was translated somehow, since even "Mousehunt" gets renamed "Mouse Trap") Of course, there's historical inaccuracy in calling a place "Singapore" even before this place got that name (I presume Pirates is set around the 18th century, pre- Raffles ). But hey, it was nice even just hearing the Depp reference to Singapore in the first movie, let alone setting entire scenes in a fictionalised v

The Queen

I remember when I first heard that Princess Diana had died: I was on a flight from Singapore to the US, about to begin college, and sometime during the flight a cryptic piece of news came onto the Singapore Airlines news screen: "Princess Di hurt in car accident in Paris". In those days you couldn't get much more than a little snippet of news, so you only had a sense that something vaguely terrible had happened. Even after landing in San Francisco, there wasn't much more word: as I recall, the headlines of the papers at the newsstand were of the previous day's, before the crash; it was only in landing in transit in Pennsylvania, coming upon a bank of newspaper boxes, that it was clear that what had happened was a major event the whole world over. In Stephen Frears' The Queen , the royal family is similarly removed from the impact of the death of Diana. Helen Mirren as the titular character (and titular head of state) gives a superb, justifiably lauded perform

Song of 2006 - Gnarls in Charge

O h yeah, year-end lists. Too busy to make 'em, so I'll just go - I first heard Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" near the end of 2005 (via Stereogum or some such site?), but it was without a doubt my song of 2006 - both in the original, and in covers (best Nelly Furtado song of the year, past the teasing "Promiscuous" and "Maneater")...

Goodbye Rosie, the Queen of Corona

T wo songs ran through my head today. Got up with KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" running through my head - a relic, one expects, from watching the guilty pleasure that is "So You Think You Can Dance" on Monday. (Yes, I know, I could troll the Net for spoilers, but hell, I'll let the show unfold on my own time.) "Everything around her is a silver pool of light" is a lyric that's wormed its way into my unconscious, and in any case I'm pleased with any exposure Tunstall got in 2006, given how good "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" was. And "Suddenly I See" comes on as a song of empowerment, with all its chords building up into epiphany. That was my song about bursting into the future. The other tune in my head was Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" - the jangle of that opening guitar alone puts a smile to my face. And it evokes a lot of New York memories for me, for some reason: the heat of N

Movies Watched in 2006

To remind myself what I caught - an incomplete listing: In theatres: Brokeback Mountain Syriana The New World Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest Superman Returns The Lake House How Much Do You Love Me? Click An Inconvenient Truth The Break-Up Scoop The Prestige Casino Royale Charlotte's Web On a plane: Casanova The Ice Harvest My Super Ex-Girlfriend John Tucker Must Die You, Me, and Dupree The Devil Wears Prada On video: Eros Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind The Aristocrats The Squid and the Whale Babe: Pig in the City

Where I fit in the blogosphere

T his is an old one, but I was looking at this interactive map of the blogosphere (inspired by discovering an old Harvard Business Review piece on social networks during my spring-cleaning) and I realised why it was so hard to find in the map. I'd been looking among the crowd of Singaporean blogs (Xiaxue, Cowboy Caleb etc.) at the bottom right corner, but it turns out the software lumped me somewhere a bit further afield - I'm a little light-blue dot south-west of the big agglomeration. So I guess that's my place in this nabe.

Happy New Year! Plus Happy Feet, remixed

Happy New Year! Or - in the words of Unk - East side walk it out!